Golden Kamuy OVA

December 14, 2019

Hinna, hinna! Oh finally! Thank the spirits that Golden Kamuy is going to get a third season! After that cliff-hanger second season, it was only right that another season was needed or else there would be uproar! Yeah, the fans more upset and enraged than the gods! But first, before we welcome the next season, here are a couple of (funny) OVAs to remind us why this series is worth the watch.

Shiraishi’s escape from prison is solely thanks to a man named Chouan Kumagishi who is a forgery expert. They both met while they were stuck in Kabato Prison. One day, all the prisoners were lined up because the guards showed them the brutally murdered corpse of a guy who tried to escape outside labour. Of course Shiraishi calls this guy’s attempts as stupid and right away the guards take Shiraishi away to strip and search him. Already back then he has a reputation for making escapes. They found nothing and he was returned to his cell. Kumagishi then approached him and pleaded that if he was going to escape, please take him along too. So what’s in it for Shiraishi? Kumagishi claimed he is good in drawing so Shiraishi asked him to draw a sister. This pathetic drawing is a sister? WTF?! Even so, this piece of crappy drawing became Shiraishi’s fapping material! Hence the more he thinks about her, the more he wants to know about this elusive Sister Miyazawa and this is when he started to think about breaking out and look for her. With Kumagishi’s help, they manage to mould a key but the guards get wind he did so and search stripped Shiraishi. They found a key in his mouth so they locked him up in solitary confinement. Kumagishi is disheartened as he wonders if a cellmate ratted them out. Of course this was all part of Shiraishi’s plan. Including the reporting of his escape. The real key is in his anus! And when the guard got wind of it and looked into his anus (OMFG!!!), they found nothing. And then Shiraishi escaped. They realized despite their thorough search, they only thing they missed out was because he hid the key inside the stag beetle!

Hence begins Shiraishi’s journey to other prisons to find Sister Miyazawa. At first he tried asking the guards but since they recognize him, they immediately arrested him. No Sister Miyazawa here. That’s when he also broke out. Yeah, it was really brazen of him to starve himself so that he could be thin and slip through the smallest of holes! Next prison he just snuck in but was caught. No Sister Miyazawa here? Escape time. The cycle repeats itself. By this time his reputation as the escape king has grown. Finally he got put into Abashiri. He became friends with Henmi and Nihei who somewhat supported his search. One day, Shiraishi spotted a sister heading into the prison’s chapel. He rushed in to go meet her while other prisoners stop the guards. Is this finally his dream come true? Yes, this is Sister Miyazawa! And how beautiful is this sister? Why… She looks exactly like Kumagishi’s painting! Oh dear. What a downer. Yeah, all those fapping for this ugly b*tch… It was then Shiraishi realized Kumagishi was really a good artist. We see Kumagishi meeting Sister Miyazawa once. He confessed he did forgery because his drawings couldn’t earn him enough for a decent living. He really wanted to make good art that changed people’s lives but fell to the dark side. And Shiraishi realized art is just a piece of paper…

In this short epilogue, we see Sugimoto and co trekking through the jungle. Shiraishi got bitten on his head by a poisonous pit viper! Nobody wants to suck the venom out so Asirpa administers some traditional moxibustion to help alleviate the pain. Then she warns him he was lucky it was just a regular pit viper. Because of it was Sak Somo Ayep, he would’ve been a gone. I’m thinking Asirpa trying to put on a scary face but she looks so funny with it, the reason why Shiraishi and Sugimoto started laughing at her and even not heed Ogata’s warning that snakes are attracted to whistling. Yeah, they do so and before they realize it, did you not notice Shiraishi’s head has swollen much bigger and so is Sugimoto’s face? Then they see a giant black snake popping up behind the bushes! OH F*CK!!! It’s that Sak Somo Ayep or whatever!!! RUN!!!! They’re lucky to get away with their lives, eh?

Asirpa sees this American dude, Mr Dunn and wants him to return a seal skin garment that belonged to her great aunt. Her son-in-law sold it cheaply and ran off. She is willing to buy it back but Dunn thinks it is worth more than that. Sugimoto then warns him about war so Dunn agrees to sell back at the dirt cheap price if they kill a monster. Something has been killing and stealing their horses. Oh look, one is in the act right now! It’s a giant brown bear! Sugimoto’s missed shot managed to scare it off. Dunn then shows them a toe that he shot off from the bear. But it keeps coming back. That is why he calls it a monster. An immortal. Time for immortals to fight each other. They split up to search for the bear. Shiraishi and Kiroranke stumble into that freshly stolen horse but the bear is nearby. Stupid Shiraishi runs away loudly so you bet the bear is going to chase them. They manage to take refuge in this nearby house of Kiichiro Wakayama. As they try to push the furniture to block the entrance, then Tatsuya Nakazawa comes in. If he is the owner of the house, who is this dude then? Worse, Kiroranke sees severed heads of the guys from the horse racetrack and thinks one of them is a yakuza here to kill him. Meanwhile Sugimoto and Asirpa find the burial site of the bears. This must be last week’s horse in the burial mound. A bear attacks them and also Dunn’s servant. It occurred to them that there is more than just 1 bear but 3 of them! They manage to run to the house and get in in time but Sugimoto lost his ammo pouch while he is fending the bear. Worse, Dunn’s servant who was resting too close to the window gets mauled. RIP, sir.

Inside the house, once they see the severed heads, Sugimoto wants them to strip to see who has the yakuza tattoos. Wakayama then immediately tries to strike Sugimoto but thankfully quick reflexes. With tattoos over his body, it is safe to say he is the yakuza. As the owner of the racetrack, he wants to get back at Kiroranke as he suffered huge losses. But they have to deal with the bears now. Also, Sugimoto has Nakazawa strip but everyone gets freaked out seeing his weird hairy nipples! WTF?! But they didn’t see his bright yakuza tattoo on his back… Wakayama as the gambler suggests using the dice to see who goes out to get the ammo pouch. They check the dice for any tampering. None. Wakayama lets Nakazawa roll the dice and it seems they are both accomplice and Nakazawa is just acting as a noob. Sugimoto’s side wins the bet so Wakayama kicks Nakazawa! He believes Nakazawa did it on purpose because he is supposed to be the best dealer. Yeah, there is cheating mechanism inside the cup. And that is when Nakazawa spills the beans. WTF Nakazawa is in love with Wakayama and blames him for cheating on him?! With some prostitutes?! Can we now deal with the bear and stop this gay story sh*t?! Wakayama goes out to get the ammo. A bear confronts him. He throws his belt in hopes to startle the bear who might think it looks like a snake. With his pants down, everyone sees that map tattoos on his legs! So if he was a prisoner but Shiraishi didn’t recognize him? Wakayama makes a run for it while the other bears break into the house. Damn, one could even climb in from the second floor?! Sugimoto gets slashed across the face but pumps all his bullets into its mouth to kill it.

Noticing that Sugimoto has gathered poison leaves he thought were herbs, Asirpa knows there is a way to defeat the bears. They used the dead servant’s body as a decoy. When the bear mauls it, Sugimoto starts stabbing it with a makeshift spear laced with the poison. It might not be enough to kill the bear but it will slow it down. Meanwhile Wakayama has run all the way to Dunn’s house and forces him to bring out his top weapons. Sugimoto and the co escape the house just when the bears break in. Similarly, Dunn and Wakayama return with a car. With a gattling gun, Wakayama guns down a bear. Everyone hop on board! I know it’s heavy but also remember this is still the early stages of a motor car. It can’t go faster than the bear! However with this final boss bear chasing them, it is only thanks to the poison that it cannot run as fast. Nakazawa then drops off and gets mauled. Wakayama dives down to go save his ‘princess’ and in the process both of them deal fatal damage to each other. Furious Wakayama cuts off the bear’s paw, snout and finally sticking his sword into the bear’s ass! Wow. That’s enough to kill it. Finally Nakazawa and Wakayama lie together on the ground with their hands holding each other. That’s it for them. Damn, enough of this weird gay sh*t already! Let Sugimoto harvest the tattoo…

Golden Side Stories Time
These OVAs didn’t disappoint. I wasn’t going to expect anything great but here it was, blowing my expectations away. That’s what happens when you set your expectations so low that when it is slightly better, everything seems so amazing. Don’t get the wrong idea that I don’t like this series, in fact I love this series a lot. Because you know, the connotation of an OVA is usually something that isn’t related to the main plot of the TV series and hence most of them are just standalone fillers. While these OVAs can also be considered as such, it is part of the overall long journey that our characters had to go through. The first OVA being very much a comical story of Shiraishi’s prison break love. He didn’t really get what he want in the end but at least along the way, he honed his escaping skills with utmost creativity. That is why he is a survivor because he thinks outside the box and dares to go where no men has even thought of going. Yeah, you could also say the power of boners made him one of the escape artists of his time ever! I don’t think he faps to that piece of paper any more but if this was in modern times, then this guy is respectable because that guy fapped to something that is level extreme!!! Holy sh*t!!!

The second OVA goes back to the gritty and bloody action but this time not humans but bears. When I first realized they are going to be up against the bears, I thought oh dear, bad CGI nightmare déjà vu! Yup, those who watched the TV series should remember how horrible the bears were rendered in. But thankfully, the bears here look decent. I can’t tell if they are hand drawn or done via CGI but at least they aren’t that bad as the TV series. Phew. And then the story here also got side-tracked a little with that gay yakuza sh*t thingy. It was really a weird feeling. Amidst the tense action of bloodthirsty bears hunting down the humans, we also have a pair of yakuza lovers in the midst of their lover’s quarrel. Like, WTF?! You thought being non-binary people was just a thing in modern times, huh? Yeah, this sort of sh*t also existed way back then. In Japan too! So yeah, till death do them part and I suppose they can’t cheat on each other now that they’ve gone to heaven. Oh wait, or is it hell? Oh well, life goes on for the living. Don’t mind if we take those tattoos on the legs because the dead sure won’t be needing them.

Shiraishi might be the comic relief character of the series. Somehow I feel that Asirpa is also close in becoming like this character. Especially when you see her half of the times putting up that comical cartoonish face. I mean, I was like, “Asirpa, is this really you?”. Yes, there are times when she is serious but it is so often that I think that being in the company of these guys maybe changed her a little. All of them are kooky and have a screw loose in their head in one way or another so it is no surprise that Asirpa who is still a young girl might get influenced by them after journeying together for so long.

Overall, these OVAs for the second season are worth the watch especially if you like the series. I know I did. This serves up as the appetizer and whet our appetite before the third season comes, supposedly to be slotted somewhere in 2020. I didn’t really want to know the exact date or season it comes out so as to surprise myself. Uh huh. Oh, it’s already here! It’s here already! Hooray! Yahoo! That’s how I keep the hype in myself alive. Till the next season arrives, keep giving thanks to the gods that there are still animes that are worth watching. Hinna, hinna…

Golden Kamuy S2

April 13, 2019

Hinna, hinna. Give thanks to the second season of Golden Kamuy that I have been waiting for! I knew pretty much back then a single cour wasn’t enough with so many interesting developments and potentials. Good things come to those who wait. Even though the series just took a single cour break. Nevertheless, I can’t wait to see if anybody gets the gold or something else. Something more than they bargained for.

Episode 13
Tsurumi visits Yasaku Edogai the taxidermist. He is impressed with all the stuffed animals he made. Until Tsurumi shows a glove made out of human flesh that he dropped. Tsurumi knows he has been digging graves for corpses for his taxidermy hobby. Yes, there is a room filled with such humans! Plus, Edogai is the only one who can hear voices of his ‘mom’ telling him to kill Tsurumi for knowing this secret. With Tsurumi’s smooth talking, he convinces Edogai to shoot his ‘mom’ to get over it. And then all the voices in his head stop. Now Edogai has become a fan boy of Tsurumi since the latter somewhat takes interest in his taxidermy work. Yeah, Edogai happily parades his creepy clothes made out of human skin to him! This is some sort of twisted fashion show. But down to business. Tsurumi wants Edogai to make fake skins of the tattooed ones. But fake enough that only their men can identify the real ones. He intends to bring real chaos into this war for tattoos. Ogata and Hijikata discuss about Nopperabo’s origins. Hijikata guesses that Nopperabo is a partisan from Russia pretending to be Ainu. In Russia, there are many groups fighting each other apart from Lenin and the partisans. Nopperabo may be trying to gain war funds for independence. This could also mean that Nopperabo’s allies outside are likely to be partisans pretending to be Ainu. We take a break with some outdoor documentary of Asirpa and Sugimoto. Then it is back to Edogai as he realizes there is some sort of problem in trying to replicate fake human skins. Elsewhere, Tanigaki is hunting with Makanakkuru when they are joined by this loner Ainu boy, Cikapasi. His parents died and he has nowhere to go so what else but to follow them. When they return to the village, they see Inkarmat wowing the crowd with her fortune telling. Tanigaki isn’t interested until she says she is looking for Asirpa. Because her fortune telling says one of the men she is travelling with will betray her. If he is not stopped, her life may be in danger. Hence Tanigaki decides to track her down with Inkarmat becoming his guide and Cikapasi joining. It seems Inkarmat made a deal with Tsurumi to use Tanigaki to achieve their goals.

Episode 14
More complaints from Edogai. Because Tsurumi has gone back to base and he wants to show him this replica of Tsurumi he made! Creepy… He is only left Maeyama and Tsukishima as guards. Later Edogai finds Maeyama shot in the head and realizes somebody is after the fake skins. Tsukishima is out in town for a bath. Sugimoto and Shiraishi recognize him as Tsurumi’s men and tail him. Ogata was the sniper as he barges into Edogai’s house. He realizes the fake skins on the floor but quickly goes into hiding since Tsukishima is back and is gunning for revenge. Meanwhile Edogai has managed to run away. Wearing a polar bear skin as disguise! Are there polar bears in Hokkaido? When Sugimoto enter the house, Shiraishi unfortunately is forced by Ogata to play along. He tells Sugimoto about the fake skins and possibly Tsukishima had taken them. I don’t know how Tsukishima caught up with Edogai or knew where he was running but at the coal mines begins a wild mine cart chase between them and Sugimoto and Shiraishi. Thanks to several accidents, some inflammable gas got released and an explosion occurs. Edogai is pinned under the rubble. He knows he is done for so he gives him the perfected fake skins to Tsukishima for Tsurumi. With the mines sealed to prevent fire, this means no oxygen as Sugimoto tries to carry passed out Shiraishi to the exit but it is totally sealed. Luckily Ushiyama breaks through and their lives are extended. Gathering back at Edogai’s house, Ogata believes Edogai is dead and if Tsukishima made it out alive, they have to assume there are about 6 fake skins in circulation. Sugimoto meets Hijikata for the first time and wonders if they’ve met before. Sugimoto remains suspicious of Hijikata. Could have almost fought had Nagakura offered Sugimoto’s side to sell them their skins. However Sugimoto has questions he needs to ask Nopperabo personally so for now they work together. But first Ienaga cooks for them and they parody this Last Supper scene! Meanwhile Tsukishima delivers the fake skins to Tsurumi. His other message from Edogai’s last word is “Iron”. He believes Tsurumi will figure out it is a hint on how to detect the fakes.

Episode 15
As Hijikata’s side are searching Edogai’s house for clues, Tsurumi’s men try to burn the house down and snipe anyone in sight. Nikaidou fights with Hijikata inside the house and upon hearing Sugimoto’s voice, Nikaidou gets excited to fight him. However this enables Hijikata to slice off his feet! This guy can still crawl away! All manage to escape the burning house. With hopes of evidence burnt to the ground. Their only hope is to meet Nopperabo to determine the real ones. Hijikata suggests they meet up at Ashibetsu but travel in 2 groups. In Sugimoto’s group, Asirpa, Ushiyama and Ogata. Time for some wildlife documentary and cooking. Ogata is very uncooperative in cooking the Ainu way as Asirpa instructs. Like he gives a damn. The rest in Hijikata’s group, they discuss about Shirosuke Inudou, the warden of Abashiri. It seems the old guys have some sort of history with him when they were at Kabato prison. That time, Nagakura was a swordsmanship instructor for many of the wardens here. One day he found out his best friend Hijikata was imprisoned here so he confronted Inudou about his punishment for Hijikata. He intends to wait until his life goes out before hanging him. Nagakura tried to force him to see Hijikata but his guards took him away. Luckily one of the guards grateful for his swordsmanship secretly let him see Hijikata. They talk about their past in Shinsengumi in which Hijikata has defended Nagakura many times from Kondou. With the possibility that there might be no way to tell the real from the fakes, Shiraishi is now thrust into the spotlight. They have to rely on this idiot to get them into Abashiri. More sh*t for Shiraishi because he dreams of Sugimoto killing him after finding out he was in cohorts with Hijikata and giving them info. Not sure the logic of him sneaking out from the inn because now he bumps into a group of soldiers outside. Hello.

Episode 16
Shiraishi can’t escape and gets captured. Hijikata relays this to the rest and since they need him, they have to bust him out. As those soldiers are taking Shiraishi back to their HQ in Asahikawa, who knows how long he will break out. Hijikata and Kiroranke go rescue him while the rest stay behind to wait for Sugimoto’s group to arrive. When the soldiers cross the bridge, Hijikata cuts and breaks it. With some soldiers and Shiraishi floating downstream, Kiroranke is supposed to pick him up. However Shiraishi remembers that brutal dream and hesitated. Although he swam to the side, he gets captured again. With this rescue mission a failure, the rest give some thought whether to really go save him. I think they reason they can let this idiot be but Sugimoto wants to go save him. Meanwhile Tsurumi sees Lieutenant General Narizou Arisaka. He is the one who make crazy weapons. You have to shout while talking to him because he is partially deaf. So all this just for him to make a special prosthetic leg for Nikaidou (I think this guy is starting to lose his mind). But it’s not just a fake leg. It has a hidden gun in it. Wow. Best present ever. Hijikata takes the rest to see Kiyohiro Suzukawa. He is a master of disguise as well as one of the tattooed prisoners. To know which barrack Shiraishi is being kept, they need someone to infiltrate. After the failed rescue, the army will be on alert so they need someone of high rank to obtain info. But not too high that everyone knows you. Suzukawa thinks he can impersonate Inudou. He does look the part! Asirpa’s sleeping on Hijikata has Sugimoto remember him. This means he realizes Shiraishi has been working with him for some time. Sugimoto is not pleased with this because he believes a traitor will betray you again. Hijikata claims there are no enemies or allies. What is important is information. With hints that Sugimoto might kill Shiraishi after rescuing him, suddenly Asirpa wakes up and tells him not to kill anybody needlessly. Was she listening?! The infiltration plan begins with Suzukawa meeting with the head of the 27th Division, Terunaka Yodogawa.

Episode 17
Sugimoto is acting as Suzukawa’s deranged bodyguard. Suzukawa really plays the part well. He is trying to guilt trip Yodogawa the mess he brought upon when the prisoners escaped. So in exchange for Shiraishi, he will give him plates to make counterfeit money. At this point, somebody has reported to Tsurumi and of course he senses something amiss. Before the exchange can begin, second lieutenant Otonoshin Koito barges in with orders from Tsurumi to not let Shiraishi leave. He then starts to talk in his Saitama dialect in which Inudou is supposed to know. Amazingly Suzukawa can also converse. But as they speak, suddenly Koito pulls out his gun and shoots them! From the talk, Koito knows this Inudou is fake since the real one doesn’t drink. Suzukawa got one in the head and Sugimoto only in shoulders. But the immortal takes Shiraishi and jump from the window. Ogata snipes at the chasers. Good news as they run, they stumble into the army trying to set a hydrogen balloon afloat. So nobody wants to shoot because they’re scared it will explode and kill everyone? You mean they can miss at this close range?! Anyway, why wait till they escape then only start to chase? But Koito manages to jump on board. He gets mad knowing Ogata betrayed them. With Asirpa’s support from the bottom and Shiraishi kicking him off, they’re safe for now. But will Shiraishi’s ass be safe when Sugimoto hints about his betrayal? Sugimoto notes he gave their fake tattoos to them so he didn’t really betrayed them. Phew. After the airship crashes, they have to continue running as the platoon will be hot on their heels. Yup, they’re fast. Their only hope is to cross this dangerous mountain. It’s freezing and windy. A storm will soon happen so Asirpa has them shoot deer to skin and hide in their belly. For some reason, Shiraishi has gone mad and strips and runs off! Asirpa goes after him but could it be an illusion or the playful gods luring her away? Because Shiraishi is with them. Sugimoto goes after her and although they find each other, they are lost. Thank goodness a lone deer for him to shoot. Can Sugimoto overcome his trauma? Yes he can. So they hide inside its belly just in time. Asirpa feels bad about Suzukawa’s death so Sugimoto tells her bad people feel less because they don’t have hearts. Then more talk about his days on the battlefield and the nostalgia of eating dried persimmons before he went to war. Such dear and sweet memories.

Episode 18
Tanigaki gets a telegram regarding Asirpa’s grandma. It seems she is making preparations for her own death. It is an Ainu’s belief to perform a ritual before they can pass on to the afterlife and must have kids. Hence they will raise any child even if it is not their own. Tanigaki doesn’t want her to die and believes he is also her child. Cikapasi’s big mouth: He is just her gigolo! Does he even know how to use that word?! But now we go back a few months ago to hear Tanigaki’s story as he told Tsurumi. In his hometown of Ani in Akita, his family often made their trademark kanemochi but he secretly made his differently with walnuts. He was best friends with fellow hunter, Kenkichi Aoyama. He would one day marry his sister, Fumi and lived in the remotely in the mountains. One day, Tanigaki receives the bad news. Fumi was killed and the house burnt down. Kenkichi was nowhere to be seen but left behind his prized hunter knife. Tanigaki became obsessed in tracking down this killer. He joined the 7th Division after hearing news Kenkichi enlisted there. He tried to find him but to no avail. At the same time, he heard news of his mother’s passing. Then there was this big fight at Port Arthur where several divisions would gather. He thought he would find Kenkichi there and kill him from the back in the heat of the battle. After one battle, Tanigaki saw a very wounded Sugimoto. He gave him his kanemochi to eat and he could tell he was from Ani. Because there was a soldier from another division who did the same thing. Tanigaki thought he finally found his killer. It seemed Kenkichi drafted into Tokyo’s 1st Division.

During another big battle, Russians were getting desperate by becoming suicide bombers. When one didn’t go down after all the shooting, suddenly Kenkichi jumps up to stop him. The explosion didn’t kill him but he is close to death. Even though he fought bravely, Tanigaki still wanted to kill him. Revenge was high on his mind after all this time. But Kenkichi who has lost his sight and hearing from the bomb, wanted this ‘stranger’ to tell his childhood friend the truth. Fumi contracted smallpox and was dying. She didn’t want him to tell others as fear it would spread. She also didn’t want her family to be ostracized if others knew she had this disease. That’s why she didn’t agree to him dying with her. Instead she told him to kill her, burn the place down and flee. If he survives this, he must decide what to do with the rest of his life. So Kenkichi kills her using his knife the way he knows best as a hunter and did as he was told. He lived his life bearing the guilt of killing her. Tanigaki lets him taste his kanemochi and he instantly knew it is him. With that, Kenkichi passes away. Ever since, Tanigaki has been asking what his role in life is. For starters, Tsurumi wants him to make those kanemochi. Now Tanigaki’s side has stumbled into Asirpa’s party at the marsh area.

Episode 19
Cikapasi explains how they stumbled into a couple of hunting Ainu who told them their location. He continues to promote Inkarmat as his possession and Tanigaki as her gigolo. Asirpa believes! The gang return to the nearby Ainu village and they are about to begin the Kamuy Hopunire ceremony. Basically Asirpa explaining their blessings to their local gods. Later Tanigaki wants to tell Asirpa a message from her grandma. Ogata thinks he is just a spy for Tsurumi but Tanigaki says he is done with the military. Grandma had a dream of never seeing Asirpa again and Asirpa explains her strong belief in dreams due to a dream of Asirpa’s mom dying shortly after one. Sugimoto thinks Asirpa should go back to prove her dreams wrong but she doesn’t want him to treat her like a child. There is something she needs to know in order to move forward and achieve her dream. An Ainu notices Tanigaki’s rifle that belongs to Nihei. They hunted together a decade ago. He talks about the significance of the scars on it when suddenly Ryuu pops up! So finally this dog has found his master’s gun? Wow. This loyalty sure predates Hachiko… So loyal that when emotional Sugimoto tries to pet it, Ryuu bites him! Meanwhile Koito fears Tsurumi will reprimand him for letting Shiraishi get away. We see him fawning over Tsurumi like a fan boy before the real man comes in. He tries to appease him by showing the tattooed skin he is wearing from Suzukawa but Tsurumi isn’t impressed. At first Koito’s heart sank when Tsurumi is disappointed in his failure. But this is just an excuse to enlist him to help find the other tattooed prisoners. Koito is disappointed in Ogata because their fathers were good friends. Ogata’s father, Koujirou Hanazawa, the former leader of the 7th Division was believed to have committed suicide to take responsibility for the many loss of lives at some battle. Tsurumi thought this would inspire Ogata to fight for this father’s honour and 7th Division but it didn’t turn out that way now.

Flashback shows that Ogata was born out of his father and his mistress. When Hanazawa finally had a son, Yuusaku with his real wife, he stopped seeing them. Hence Ogata’s mom had this obsession in making monkfish stew which was Hanazawa’s favourite every day in hopes he would come back. Ogata got sick of eating it every day and went to shoot a bird in hopes her making something different. Nope. Same monkfish stew. That is when he poisoned it and she died from eating it. His plan was to see if Hanazawa loved her, he would at least come to see her at her funeral. He did not. We see Ogata slowly killing Hanazawa as he relates this story to him. Hanazawa thinks he too is sick of her like him. However Ogata points out that as a child who don’t get to choose his parents, there must be something missing for one being born lacking parents’ love. Shortly after Ogata joined the military, he met Yuusaku and could tell from his eyes that he is well loved from his parents. Yuusaku was always by his said, claiming he always wanted a brother. During a battle, Ogata shot Yuusaku in the back of the head. It wasn’t out of jealousy of hatred. Just the thought of what would father think when he heard of Yuusaku’s death. What would father think of his other son? Would he care more for his mistress then? Hanazawa agrees he lacks something. And that is a failure as a son. Ogata makes Hanazawa’s death look like suicide. This was a plan concocted by Tsurumi to bring his division together by turning Ogata into some idol because others will see him as a god, the only surviving son of Hanazawa. But Ogata never believed in all that.

Episode 20
Locust attack! So while the guys seek shelter in a cabin, the ladies take a boat out to sea. Good chance for Asirpa to ask Inkarmat about her dad. Inkarmat says Nopperabo isn’t her father. Because Wilk wasn’t the kind who would steal the Ainu’s gold and kill them. She knows him as she has met him as a child. Born of a Polish father and Ainu mother, she first met him on Sakhalin. He was trying to rally the minorities to fight against the czar’s oppression. Asirpa doesn’t believe her as father never said anything about her. Perhaps he only thinks of her as a child and is forgotten. Maybe Inkarmat’s tears make it more believable? But Wilk is now gone. He is murdered by Kiroranke. And she has proof. I guess we need some time off from this heavy drama so we go look at the guys. If you wonder why nobody has ever eaten otter meat, it’s because of its great aphrodisiac effect. Oh yeah! Those guys are getting hot and gay with each other!!! OMFG!!! I guess we can’t show them going full on gay so their take on getting it on is having a great sumo match. Yeah, one hell of a gay sumo fest. So it’s no wonder the next day, the guys all want to never speak of this. But the only one winning this ‘lottery’ is Tanigaki because Inkarmat soon comes to make out with him! Blame it on the otter meat! When they gather, Asirpa asks Kiroranke straight if he murdered her father. With everyone in shock and Kiroranke denying, Inkarmat shows the evidence. So his fingerprints on the horse betting ticket?! Wait a minute. At this age? Fingerprint identification? Okay, even so, but in Japan?! And how did Inkarmat get the results so fast?! With Tanigaki defending her, Ogata points his rifle and accuses her of working with Tsurumi. He says all belongings of the Ainu at the murdered site were only collected by Tsurumi and hence only his fingerprints are there. Inkarmat replies she is only using Tsurumi for her own purpose. The rest try to ascertain from Shiraishi if Nopperabo’s eyes are blue since he is the only one among them who seen him. Too bad he avoid looking at his scary face. All he did was make tattoos silently and Hijikata was the one who planned the escape. Could this all be just a setup by Hijikata? There is also a possibility that Tsurumi falsified fingerprint records. With everybody suspicious of everyone, Sugimoto tells them their goal is to get to Abashiri. If either Inkarmat or Kiroranke ends up dead along the way, he will kill the other. Meanwhile at Abashiri, Kadokura the security chief is tasked by Inudou to rid a newbie, Usami who is believed to be working under Tsurumi. He lets some prisoners kill him but he fights back and kills them! Kadokura flees and then lies in his report he has taken care of them all.

Episode 21
If you thought the last episode was gay. Wait till you see this one! In a hotspring as Sugimoto and co rest, they hear the blind masseur talk about the recent ambush by blind bandits. They’re interested because one of them has strange tattoos. Immediately Shiraishi recognizes the bandit leader as Anji Toni. Mining sulphur for a long time causes one to go blind and Inudou were using some of his prisoners to continue doing that after the mining was ceased. As the men soak in the hotspring, they hear strange clicking sounds. It dawned too late when they realize it is the sound of a tongue clicking and it is a way by the ambush via echolocation. So we see our men fighting stark naked! Can’t see anything. Too dark. It gives the blind bandits the advantage. They get some reprieve with Ryuu attacking. Inkarmat is reluctant to get on the boat with Tanigaki and Kiroranke, fearing her ill-omened prophecy will come true. Because she can’t swim. So she was perfectly fine talking to Asirpa on a boat the last time?! True enough, Toni starts shooting at them. Tanigaki gets hit and the boat overturns. Inkarmat sees visions of bears, a sign that they are going to take her to the afterlife. But don’t fear. Tanigaki bursts out in his bare chest to scare away the bears! WTF???!!! Tanigaki is Buddha???!!! Inkarmat now believes she can change fate but I think the kiss she gave Tanigaki wasn’t so much because he saved her. Because it’s funny Toni’s shot went through his butt! Dawn is approaching so Toni and his men retreat. Sugimoto and Ogata tail them to their hideout and have to take them out now because going back for their guns will give them time to escape. But they are trapped inside the house as the bandits have already shut all windows, doors and openings tight. WTF Asirpa can tell it is Sugimoto by groping his butt?! A struggle between Sugimoto and Toni soon ensues. It is only stopped when Hijikata arrives. Asirpa warns him about killing the innocent. He might live in darkness but continue this way and he will never escape from darkness. When everyone gathers, Hijikata has an old friend take photos of all of them (this is to do more background search on Inkarmat and Kiroranke). He is given a photo of a dashing Sugimoto as he remembers what Toni said about Sugimoto. His battle spirit resonated fiercely just like his but still kind.

Episode 22
We have reached Abashiri. Asirpa feels scared to know the truth but Sugimoto assures. Because it is salmon season, they build an Ainu hut just outside the perimeter of the prison next to the river to hide a hole they are digging into Nopperabo’s cell. When guards come to shoo them, they bribe them with salmons. With Tanigaki and Inkarmat’s romance coming into light again, Inkarmat explains about her fortune readings that told her she will never meet Wilk again. She always thought it meant her own death. Then he died and heard Tsurumi had his belongings as well as Nopperabo knew about the gold’s location and was working with Kiroranke. She was satisfied her fortune telling wasn’t always right. When she drowned, she was prepared to face her destiny until Tanigaki came to her rescue. He changed the fate of her fortune telling. She learnt fate can be changed and now has hope she can see Wilk again. When Sugimoto finishes his digging, he pops out in Kadokura’s lodging. But this guy shows them the layout of the prison and tells them how Nopperabo moves to different cells every day. He knows which cell he will be. Apparently Kadokura is helping them because his father once fought with Hijikata and if this plan fails, his backup plan is to join Hijikata. On the night where there is no moon, all are in place for the big break in. With Toni leading the small group, they eventually enter the cell where Nopperabo is. Too dark to see anything so when Sugimoto lights the match, there is your faceless man! Yeah, let the scream fest begin. However Asirpa can tell this isn’t her father. With the alarm sounded, they are forced to flee and Sugimoto thinks somebody set them up. The only bridge linking to the prison blows up. Tsurumi and his 7th Division ride in on their Destroyer class ships.

Episode 23
Tanigaki believes Inkarmat has been siding with Tsurumi all the while. She puts it this way. Now that Sugimoto has failed, only Tsurumi can get Nopperabo and Asirpa out. Even if the 7th Division gets the gold, it’s not like it matters to them. With the Destroyers blasting a hole in the walls, Tanigaki and Inkarmat take cover but the latter is trapped beneath the rubble. Time for Tanigaki to show his manliness and bring her out. When another rubble threatens to fall on them, Ushiyama makes himself useful to hold it up till they make it to safety. Tsurumi orders his men to kill everybody. They will make up the story of assisting to subdue a prison break. It will be easy since HQ will not send anybody to this hell to verify the story. Tsurumi and his men confront Sugimoto who is using the fake Nopperabo to escape. They dare him but Nikaidou shoots first and had to be subdued. Little do they know, he has shot and killed the fake. Sugimoto and Shiraishi need to escape and they do so via the air duct below. Usami tries to get Kadokura but the latter pulls a lever to simultaneously open all the prison doors. Now the 7th Division have to fight a horde of tough killers in this dark and narrow hallway. Sugimoto believes this is all part of Hijikata’s plan to separate him and Asirpa. Knowing that Inudou would panic in this ruckus, he would head to where the real Nopperabo is kept. He will use Asirpa (as well as those photos) to get Nopperabo to reveal the gold and then escape. Hijikata follows Inudou to the chapel. It must be where Nopperabo is. When Inudou moves Nopperabo, that is when they catch him. Sugimoto now has to fight Nikaidou who is just crazy in getting his revenge. I guess Nikaidou loses his hand this time when Sugimoto uses his machine gun leg against him. I hope this crazy guy stays dead. Inudou brings out Nopperabo from a secret underground room. Hijikata and Toni move in but Inudou attacks and kills Toni. He plays dead so when Hijikata goes up close, he handcuffs him. They fight to the death. Asirpa and everyone else gathers at the main gate while they wait and believe in Sugimoto to bring Nopperabo. As Sugimoto crawls his way to the chapel, the flares light up the place as he sees Nopperabo trying to escape. He confirms those blue eyes.

Episode 24
When Sugimoto shows Nopperabo the dagger from Asirpa, he instantly recognizes it. He wants to see Asirpa and only her he will reveal the gold’s location. Inudou has a long grudge against Hijikata for refusing to join the Meiji government. Hijikata believes he is scared and used him as a reason to justify his brother’s death in a battle. He thought locking him away will turn him into one of them but Hijikata turned out more loyal than a samurai. Hijikata cuts Inudou and decapitates him. Sugimoto tells off Nopperabo he doesn’t want to bring Asirpa to meet him. Nopperabo told Hijikata Asirpa’s real name so that she could become the leader of the Ainu and fight for the people. But Sugimoto didn’t like how he got her involved in all this because all he wants is to hunt and eat animal parts with Asirpa! Nopperabo spots Inkarmat atop the roof and she likewise. She calls Asirpa to ascertain Nopperabo. Yup, that’s papa. Makes her remember the time daddy ‘abandoned’ her to kill a red bear all by herself! Nopperabo wants Sugimoto to tell Asirpa that he didn’t kill the Ainu. Before he could reveal the gold, he is shot in the head! Sugimoto soon after! Asirpa is devastated but Kiroranke takes her to run. The sniper is no other than Ogata. Tanigaki braves the sniping to use his manly strength to pull Sugimoto and Nopperabo out of the sniper’s sight. When he returns, he is devastated to see Inkarmat stabbed. She reveals to him when Wilk was shot, she saw Inkarmat giving somebody the signal. Asirpa is now with Shiraishi, Kiroranke and Ogata as they make their escape. Tsurumi and co have gunned down all the prisoners and take those left behind as captive.

In the aftermath, Sugimoto lives! It is thanks to Ienaga’s surgery skills that extended his life. Yeah, he is now partial brain-less buddies with Tsurumi since they have part of their grey matter removed. Sugimoto could feel the sniper is Ogata who is in cohorts with Kiroranke. Further flashback reveals Inkarmat tried to stop Kiroranke and a small struggle ensued that ended with Inkarmat accidentally stabbing herself. Inkarmat is sad over Wilk’s death but Kiroranke said he had to die because he changed as the plan was to tell their comrades where the gold was. Kiroranke’s group is probably on his way to Karafuto to meet up with his former guerrilla friends since Asirpa who is the critical key is in his possession. Tsurumi has clean-up work to do at Abashiri so he lets a small team that includes Sugimoto and Tanigaki go. Yeah, Koito so heartbroken he has to leave Tsurumi. Hijikata and Ushiyama examine Inudou’s secret lair and discover he was gathering info about the escaped prisoners to lure Hijikata back to Abashiri. Hijikata has got it figured out and prepares to leave south. Koito’s father who is an admiral talks to Sugimoto. He is okay sending his son to die in battle. Narrating the lesson from the Hanazawa and Yuusaku incident, if he keeps his own son from danger, what can he say to those whose sons died? Thus he believes Nopperabo thought of the same. Before he can tell the Ainu to die, he had to send his own daughter to battle. It’s not that he raised her so as she can be used. The power of dreams has Asirpa dream that Sugimoto talking to her, promising he will come for her. She still believes he is alive.

Gold Makes Monsters Out Of Men
F*ck! F*ck! FFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT IS OVER JUST LIKE THAT!!! I guess it was foolish of me to think that the series will end once Nopperabo and Asirpa meet. After that it would be a race to see who reaches the gold first. Too bad father and daughter didn’t meet but at least they saw each other one time. It feels like a waste that this season they go all the way to Abashiri just to get Nopperabo and now he’s dead. They’re supposed to ascertain the fake skins, right? Unless he said it all to Sugimoto before he got shot, I don’t see how the plot twist of Asirpa being the key. I mean, I know she is important but if she was from the start in some ways, shouldn’t they have headed to the gold instead to Abashiri?

It goes without saying that this season maintains its intrigue and it is as interesting if not more so than the first. I didn’t think that it would turn out to look like Tsurumi vs everybody. Or rather, Hijikata’s side since I didn’t quite expect that everyone else would be forming some sort of ‘uneasy’ alliance with Hijikata ever since the fake skins got around. It felt like to cut things short because instead of going on a wild goose hunt for the other prisoners (who knows where they are at this point or if they are still alive), might as well break into prison and ask the main man himself. So you could say this sequel is more of trying to break into Abashiri to get Nopperabo. With the turn of the final events, this grouping has changed once again with Sugimoto and Tsurumi probably pairing up against Kiroranke’s side and not forgetting Hijikata’s side still lurking.

With a handful of characters, some are featured more prominently than others while some not to say they fall by the wayside but they take lesser spotlight here. For instance, Sugimoto and Asirpa don’t feel as prominent as they were in the first season perhaps because their goal had always remained the same. They didn’t really change much either so instead of boring us with the same ol’, same ol’, might as well shed some light on some of the other characters who deserve it. But it shows that Asirpa has had a tremendous impact on Sugimoto. For him to want to continue hunting with her, I hope he hasn’t forgotten why he jumped onto this gold rush bandwagon in the first place. Money to help his dead friend’s wife. You still remember that, do you? Though it’s a bit sad that they aren’t together in the end as they’ve been mostly together or at least close by ever since. Sorry, dreams don’t count. Other characters like Ushiyama and Ienaga also feel underused this season. Understandably, what can Ienaga do except to provide a pretty face (and a scary one after she operated on Sugimoto’s brains) but Ushiyama being the muscles and brawns of the group didn’t really do much here (unless the plot commands for it that needs a real strong guy to get somebody out of a predicament). Like as though he is some sort of robot following Hijikata’s orders.

Tanigaki and Ogata get an episode to flesh out their background and it feels refreshing to get to see their back story and how they came about to their present situation. It is a nice detour and I was wrong to think that such flashbacks would be a waste of time this season since there are only a dozen episodes and they should cut to the chase. But surprisingly their flashbacks were done pretty well and quite interesting to say the least and it helps to understand their predicament a little better. Like why Ogata is such an emotionless and serious guy. Now that you know his past, you don’t want to make enemies out of him or at least realize this guy isn’t suited to be even funny! No jokes for this dude.

While Tsurumi has his own tricks up his sleeve, Hijikata is also another force to be reckoned with. He is also another scheming and shady character, using others for his own ends and means. You might not think of it much at the beginning since they give as an impression that they are all on the same side. But that made us let our guard down and underestimate this old fart because it seems he has been staying a few steps ahead from his own comrades and if I should say, having a few backup plans of his own. He knows how to ‘twist’ words and not really give a definitive answer when suspicions arises (especially when it comes to Sugimoto). It all boils down to everyone having their own interests and probably Hijikata understood that well enough to take this into account and use them for his own agenda.

If Sugimoto and Hijikata’s side look like a ragtag of weirdoes, the same can be said on Tsurumi’s side, as everyone here is a twisted weirdo! Even much more. For example, Nikaidou who has been steadily growing insane since the death of his twin brother in the last season, I’m not sure if there is some sort of running joke that he is also slowly losing parts of his body. The more parts he loses, the more insane he becomes. His insanity becomes his natural pain killers. It’s like you can’t kill this guy. I’m pretty sure his failed revenge on Sugimoto was his last and he is dead for good. I think. Then you got new characters introduced here who are just as quirky like Koito and Usami. I suppose when you become fan boys of suave Tsurumi, you also lose your mind. Among the sea of weirdoes, this makes Tsukishima the only normal and rational looking one. You keep wondering how long this guy can last before he falls into that insanity. I thought Tsurumi’s way of talking looked familiar. Thank the internet that they pointed out how he talks like Hitler! Yeah, the 7th Division is really one big insane group.

As mentioned, I thought it was a waste that when we finally get to know Nopperabo is Asirpa’s real dad AKA Wilk, he is then suddenly killed off. Well, this series isn’t a stranger in killing off some of its characters. At least the first season was limited to some of the prisoners. This season we had others too like Edogai whom was promptly killed off after he has done his part. For a second there I thought he might have joined Tsurumi’s side. Then there is Suzukawa who was introduced so suddenly that I thought he would be another weirdo joining Hijikata’s side. And what do you know? A weak bullet to the forehead is what it took to do in this old fart. It’s safe to say that Inudou won’t return as an enemy if ever there is another season. For now, his little back story and connection with Hijikata feels somewhat unrelated to the plot.

Other than the intriguing plot and the bloody action scenes, there are a few parts that seem to either make it stand out like a sore thumb or just cute. I don’t know. It was a dilemma for me. For example, certain parts that are supposed to be funny and for comedic purposes like when the gang are having a group meal together, Ainu style. Because Ogata doesn’t join in, this prompts the rest to do stupid and silly cartoonish faces, trying to tempt him to join them. It feels out of place but at the same time, it makes them, uhm, cute? Even when Tanigaki got a bullet through his butt… That was like, uhm, funny? Last season I said that it had this documentary feel because we see Asirpa and Sugimoto going hunting in the wild as they explain to us about nature and also some of the Ainu culture and beliefs. This season also has its fair share of such documentary but I feel it is somewhat lesser thanks to the development of and building up of the plot. Can’t go hunting more often when you can smell the gold this close.

Another weirdest and funniest moments are those gay scenes! Yes, this series has a bit of them. I guess with many of the casts being males and in a period where war is raging and you need to be at the top of your condition, expect some real muscles. That sumo gay time was really hilarious and I’m sure many of us would go WTF and make us question why the heck they included this. And there was an episode where our guys were running around naked in the dark for most of it! Does that bring out your inner gayness? For those who aren’t into such macho gay scenes, then some twisted pretty boy scenes would suffice and you’ll see this mostly with Tsurumi and his ‘devoted fan boys’. Sheesh. More funny moments that does not take itself seriously with some silly references. Like that Last Supper scene. It came out of nowhere and was this supposed to make us go, “Aww… How cute”. But I’m sure WTF came first. I read there are a few other scenes that mimic other paintings and iconic movie scenes as well but I’m not an art and movie enthusiast so I didn’t get to spot them.

It also feels weird that they are trying to make Tanigaki the epitome of manliness because there are a few scenes where you see his shirt’s button being popped out to reveal his hairy chest. Like, WTF?! Is this gay? But making this season weirder too is how they incorporated the very odd romance between Tanigaki and Inkarmat. Is this to soften the overall gayness? After all, Inkarmat is the only attractive mature woman in the pack. Those who watched last season should know about Ienaga’s identity… I thought there would be some sort of conspiracy or twist involved since they’re making this pairing too obvious instead of a forgettable distraction. On a side note, with Nopperabo ascertained at Wilk, it only puts many of the theories that Inkarmat said to be false. For example, Wilk being killed by Kiroranke. She made it sound so dramatically convincing. It really had me thinking if her fortune readings are correct in the first place or if she has another ulterior motive.

The action sequences continue to be the main attraction of this series. They don’t disappoint but some parts can be really gory and violent. After all, when you are fighting tooth and nail to survive, anything goes. Be surprised or not when Sugimoto gets stabbed and pierced in weird places but still continue to survive. He literally earned his nickname of Immortal Sugimoto.

This season’s animation and art are still maintained like last season. They’re not the best but it’s still consistent. Overall the characters do look weird even the new ones like Inudou really looks like a dog if you look closer. Of course Nopperabo and his fake do seem scary without any face. But thanks to the ‘inferior’ quality of the art, I didn’t horror scream like Sugimoto and the rest. Although this was meant to be funny. Yeah, who could forget that ‘grandma’ face Asirpa always makes when she is unimpressed. Some parts were really dark and I can’t see anything and it was a bit annoying. Like that Toni introduction episode and the ambush into Abashiri. I would have totally forgotten about the horrendous CGI had they not bring back those bears! OMFG! It made me remember!!! Despite the bears only appear in Inkarmat’s dream as well as Asirpa’s bear fighting flashback, they still used that horrible CGI!!! Like WTF?! Those who watched the first season would remember how badly the bear was rendered and there were criticisms and even jokes about it. Thankfully, that is all the CGI is confined to and if there were other parts using that, I am not aware of.

This season’s rock based opening and ending themes sound like they suit the theme of the series well but it didn’t really resonate with me. Reimei by Sayuri x My First Story as the opener while Tokei-dai No Kane by Eastern Youth as the ending piece. The latter feels weirder the more I hear it because it sounds more like punk rock with all the screeching electric guitars and the vocals screaming. If this series wasn’t an action based, it would have sounded so out of place.

Overall, this season is quite as entertaining and interesting than the first (it’s best to watch the first season to better appreciate and understand the sequel). Great action sequences as well as many great developments in the plot and some of the characters make it a worthy sequel. Even when some parts feel really twistedly dumb (just for the comical moments) and out of place, it is still entertaining to watch and if I should say, part of this series’ unique charm. Even if nobody got the gold in the end (yet), at least this series will always be gold material to me for many years to come (hinting it should get another season, PLEASE!!!). Comedy gold, good as gold, a series that is worth its weight in gold. Hinna, hinna.

Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki

January 6, 2019

Remember a time when the Mongols were once one of the greatest, if not the greatest and deadliest empires in the world? So great and deadly that even the historians studied and analysed that with so many people killed under their history, they actually helped in conserving the world environment by eliminating all those carbon and letting the land to return to its original forest roots. And that was when the world wasn’t even billions of people yet. And now, we go back in history to see one of their exploits. A time when they first invaded Japan. Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki is based on that first invasion back in 1274. Historical animes aren’t my cup of tea but if they’re going way back before all that Tokugawa and Meiji era setting that most probably has been done to death in so many other period and historical animes, this sounds like a refreshing idea.

Episode 1
A boat is carrying a group of exiled men. Among them is Jinzaburou Kuchii who was once a retainer for the Kamakura Shogunate. Several disgruntled men complain about being tied up as the sea is rough. They want to be set free because where else could they run? But upon releasing some of them, they rebel and kill the authorities off. They didn’t stop there, though. They try to dispose the other prisoners but Jinzaburou slices them apart. Also on board is Onitakemaru, a former pirate who was captured by Jinzaburou. He is made to steer the ship until it reaches Tsushima, supposedly an island at the edge of Japan. Upon arrival, they are welcomed by the beautiful princess, Teruhi. Is this some sort of dream come true as they are treated to a banquet. Suspicious Jinzaburou questions the point of all this as Teruhi claims they will all fight and lay down their lives for Tsushima. Rumours have it that the Mukuri (Mongolians) are going to invade Japan and are gathering at Goryeo (Korea). If so, Tsushima is the first place they will invade. She claims she has officially enlisted them for this and technically she saved their lives. The prisoners protest that this is no different than a death wish. Those who oppose, swift death comes upon them. This doesn’t come as a surprise to Jinzaburou because exiling is not what he is supposed to get for the things he has done. Teruhi might have sounded brave but in actually fact she was just putting up a brave front and dislikes the idea of war as she hates to see people dying. With some prisoners asking about Tsushima, former wealthy merchant, Zhang Mingfu could easily explain about Tsushima and Goryeo. This island serves as the gateway to Japan and it is only right if foreigners were to invade from Goryeo, Tsushima would be their first stop.

Deep into the night, a small group of bandits kidnap Teruhi. Uhm, that kind of ‘futuristic’ mask, is he like from the future? With the disorganized guards all abuzz trying to save Teruhi, the prisoners easily break out from their prison. Jinzaburou believes they have a better chance of survival if they stay to fight the Mongols rather than steal a flimsy fisherman’s boat back to the mainland. But some part ways into the mountains. Jinzaburou kills some time by burning the entire prison down. Despite the bandits being few in numbers, they are skilled enough to kill many of Teruhi’s guards. I guess Jinzaburou got bored so he decides to join in and slices the baddies with his Gikei style sword technique. Facing off with the bandit boss who seems to hint he is a foreigner with blonde hair, I can’t believe he could jump so far and high back to his own ship to escape. I know this is fantasy in some ways but this feels too much. Next morning, Teruhi hopes to give all those who died a decent burial. Jinzaburou lectures her that this doesn’t even cut it as war as the real deal is a brutal nightmare. Inadvertently he inspires her to vow and protect the people of this land. That’s why he is going to work hard for her. Teruhi’s servant, Kano returns to relay the bad news. The Mongols have begun their invasion as their 900 strong warships have left Goryeo for Tsushima.

Episode 2
As narrated, the Mongols conquered all of Eurasia and became something of what Nostradamus predicted them as Angolmois, the place where the king who destroys the world will be born. Jinzaburou is invited to attend a war strategy meeting conducted by Teruhi’s father, Sukekuni Sou and his adopted son, Yajirou Abiru. Sounds more like a storytelling party. Getting down to business, it seems they have ‘credible’ information that the Mongols will not attack Tsushima and go straight to the mainland. What is this about past alliance and this place breeds strong warriors? Jinzaburou brushes it off that this isn’t some pirate attack and the enemy army won’t just pass by an important base. He is thrown out of the meeting. In the streets, he has the villagers describe Tsushima and he finds it a lot bigger than it is. Enough to be its own country than an island. A monk is interested in this ‘3D map’ Jinzaburou created and wants it copied. But he knows Jinzaburou. Kagesuke Shouni also served the Kamakura Shogunate as a high ranking general. He is here to find out more about the Mongols. He has decided to send 3000 strong men as reinforcements. However they will only arrive in 7 days and he hopes Jinzaburou can hold out by then. He gives him a short blade supposedly belonging to Yoshitsune whom the Gikei style originated. Teruhi fears Jinzaburou leaving with Shouni so she acts out a cheesy nervous flirting for him just so he could promise and stay by her side. But Jinzaburou is worried that he is now forced to rely on Shouni, something he knows he can’t count on.

The Mongols will soon arrive on Tsushima. Sukekuni rallies the men to go fight them and they will hike for days and nights across the mountain to face battle. Teruhi wants to join in but is slapped by Sukekuni to know her place and bloodline. Jinzaburou thinks this indicates that Teruhi isn’t his real daughter or part of his clan. Upon reaching the bay, it must be a shocker to see the numerous invading fleet anchored there. Jinzaburou offers his advice on how to tackle but they will not hear a word of it. Especially Sukekuni who still feels he had been embarrassed during the meeting and should have killed him. But he made him remember his passion for fighting and his past glories are no more than just that. He orders him to the rear to protect Teruhi and is given an armour supposedly worn by their clan’s founder. He battle begins as Jinzaburou observes the battle tactics of the Mongols. He is impressed by the archer’s tactics of just shooting their arrow into the air because they don’t need to be highly trained and it also shows that all the men are from different places. Then the inevitable melee combat. Sukekuni and Yajirou do well enough to slay many guards and even a high ranking general to break through their ranks. However the tide will soon turn when they reach the bay. They see the coastal villages massacred and their corpses piled up. The Mongols then start using the mini trebuchet to throw bombs from their warship! With casualties running high, Yajirou is forced to sound for retreat. Unfortunately Sukekuni gets surrounded and killed by the enemy. No regrets.

Episode 3
Jinzaburou takes command of the fleeing soldiers and he tells them to fight back as the Mongols have decided to pursue them, their resources wear thin. The locals are split and some agree to fight with Jinzaburou while others especially under Yajirou’s command decide not to and continue retreating. Jinzaburou takes the Mongols head on and turns the battlefield bloody. He is aided by other fellow prisoners, Saburou Obusuma, Kazuhisa Shiraishi and Hitari. When Jinzaburou spots the main base of the Mongols, he takes a gamble and rides into it. Meanwhile Teruhi has come to the frontlines to tend to the wounded. She silences all those who oppose her and will take command in her father’s stead. Jinzaburou and his little merry men return and they surprised the rest with their victory. Jinzaburou returns with some package and wants Teruhi to identify. It is not the head of the enemy general but Sukekuni and his son! Jinzaburou risked getting them before they are put up on the enemy’s spear tomorrow as it would really demoralize them. Even though Jinzaburou calls Sukekuni’s attempts at victory as failure, he died a proud death. At night when they are resting, Jinzaburou devises a plan to attack the Mongols while they are sleeping. This is the best strategy to attack a large army with few numbers since they are not familiar with the land. All he needs is a guide. Some of them volunteer like Ginshichi so Jinzaburou has them eat and rest until the moon is at its peak before their night raid. Teruhi is not impressed with all this. As she even thinks of killing him for fear he will drag everyone to hell in his fight. Hey, you’re the one who brought him in to fight! Of course she can’t and it is hinted she did something shady to him while he sleeps. I believe it is a kiss… When it is time to raid, it looks like Yajirou’s faction has decided not to fight and return to the capital to regroup. Thanks to the excellent night vision of fellow prisoner, Amushi, Jinzaburou is able to strategize more. This includes how the Mongols’ goal is Kyushu and they don’t want to spend months fighting on this island. Hence everyone will hide deep in the island where they can’t reach them. Upon reaching the camp, a skeleton Mongol crew is keeping watch. Suddenly a few of the guides start running towards the enemy camp and shouting. Betrayal? Ginshichi is about to strike Jinzaburou from behind but Teruhi spots this and when she tries to warn him, she gets slashed.

Episode 4
Jinzaburou kills Ginshichi as he believes his family was held hostage by the Mongols. The Mongols are now on alert as they shoot fire arrows into the forest. After seeing dead villagers and some killed as examples, Jinzaburou can’t pull out from this now. They barge straight in to attack. Onitakemaru didn’t’ want to fight but after the arrows destroyed his sake, it’s bludgeoning time. When a Mongol commander reports to Kin Houkei, the high inspector of the army, he is not pleased he got scared by a few Japanese and used this reason to flee. He uses his own hearing and sounds from the battle to deduce their actual numbers. Houkei is surprised with the arrival of Ryuu Fukukou, the vice marshal of the Mongol army. He heard there is a wolf on this island who slew one of their mingghan commander and wants to hunt him down. Jinzaburou gives the signal to retreat as their mission is just to show their might. However they here screams. Women and children of the village are being transported to the Mongol ship. Some want to save them but Jinzaburou orders the retreat or else they will be surrounded. Thankfully they are helped by a group called Toibarai who were originally sent to protect Japan from invaders. With their help slaying the Mongols, Jinzaburou and his men are able to save the women and children before retreating. Jinzaburou is then met with the commander of Toibarai, Hangan Nagamine. He tells him they are going to leave now and will not risk losing any more of his men. They didn’t volunteer for this job but a noble requested them. If he is worthy, one day he will meet them. Ryuu stumbles into Onitakemaru. They fight and he finds this pirate a worthy foe. Onitakemaru loses but before he gets killed, Jinzaburou intervenes. They clash swords for a while and Ryuu realizes he is the wolf. Jinzaburou retreats and despite Ryuu would love to chase him, he has orders by the marshal, Hindun to return. The big man hears from his priest the auspicious date to set sail for Hakata and that will be in 7 days. Jinzaburou and his men take a break as they retreat to the capital. Teruhi can’t stop blushing at him but she might turn into a tsundere after Jinzaburou crudely puts some of his traditional grass medicine on her wound. Some of the men mistreat Sasamaru, the child of Ginshichi who was rescued. They view that dead man a traitor. Jinzaburou steps in. He admits he killed his father and gives him a chance to avenge him. Sasamaru is scared but after Jinzaburou explains how Ginshichi was a brave man challenging somebody stronger to save his family, Sasamaru is motivated to become stronger to kill him one day.

Episode 5
When they arrive at the capital, they see it being burnt to the ground. Some of the survivors have fled into the forest. Among them is Yajirou’s group. It seems the Mongols attacked this morning. Yajirou becomes pessimistic with this demoralization so Jinzaburou mocks him for being a pussy. Argument put on hold when reports come in that the Mongols are coming. Hiding behind the bushes, they spot several Mongol scouts. Teruhi is so enraged the Mongols took everything from her, she starts shooting her arrows at them. In no time the rest follow suit and kill all the scouts. The only place left for them now is to retreat to the bay. In order to give the villagers time to escape, Jinzaburou strategizes to build a fort right here on this narrow path. With the Mongols coming around the blind corner, Jinzaburou and go can easily take them out while the archers provide backup from the sides. Some of the men hiding below the valley can pierce the Mongols if they fall off. The strategy is working but Yajirou is still not impressed. He wonders why a guy like Jinzaburou is willing to fight and die for this island. Flashback time. Jinzaburou often visited an acquaintance of his father, Tokiaki Nagoe. The latter warned him not to visit so often as he doesn’t want to give the slightest provocation to other clans. But a few days later, they are attacked by Yorisue Ookura, a servant from the Hojou clan who is close to the shogun. They accuse Tokiaki for rebelling despite without any proof. Jinzaburou intervenes to fight. He got distracted by Tokiaki’s son being a coward while his father was going to be decapitated. Tokiaki’s last words to Jinzaburou was to think of him as his own father since Jinzaburou doesn’t remember much about his own. The moral of the story is that if you throw away your sword and you have one pointing at your throat, you lose everything. Hence learning the hard way, this is how he fights. The Mongols are now using bombs. This causes a little havoc but with Yajirou’s side having experience in dealing them, they manage to surround the Mongols in a valley and kill all of them. Yajirou decides to put his trust in Jinzaburou and wants him to look forward while he protects his back.

Episode 6
Hitari and Teruhi try to take out the commander of this troop, Uriyan Edei. But thanks to his sharp soldiers, he is well protected from behind. Uriyan sees fleeing Teruhi and is captivated by her beauty. He orders his men not to kill her. With another set of Mongol armies seen marching, Jinzaburou believes it is time to abandon their fort. The Mongols at the narrow path fires a gun via gunpowder. It hits Yajirou directly in the guts. Mad Jinzaburou slices them all down. Hey, it will take some time to reload the weapon, right? Yajirou and Jinzaburou exchange final words. The latter promises his death will not be in vain. With Amushi reporting another set of Mongols coming in, this might sound they will be pincered but Jinzaburou believes this is to their advantage. As he noticed both Mongol armies have different uniforms, this means different commanders. If they clash, this will give them more time to run. So as they retreat, it might look despicable that Onitakemaru had looted from the fleeing farmers their items and treasures. But when both Mongol armies arrive, he fights them for a while before running away and leaving his stolen goods behind. The Mongol factions then start to fight each other over the loot. That night as Jinzaburou sleeps, he dreams of all the traumas especially the one on his family. He wakes up only to see Teruhi’s face so close. Nobody panicking. Just checking to see if he is alive. Why does she sound so disappointed? Whatever she was about to steal, was it worse than the stolen loot? An old man appears before Jinzaburou. Reluctantly he invites him to meet the emperor. Man, this old fart can run fast! Jinzaburou chases after him but and it must be a long run because by the time Jinzaburou catches up to him at the top of the mountain peak, this old man is a retainer of the emperor, Tokihito AKA Emperor Antoku. You mean this petite creepy looking fairy is the emperor of Japan?

Episode 7
When Antoku was young, he was saved by Yoshitsune. But instead of following him back to the capital, he gave him a short blade. Now he is glad to see it with Jinzaburou. Slowpoke Teruhi arrives. Long time no see great grandpa. He gives her a message to be given to Nagamine. Orders to protect the people. On the way down, Teruhi explains how her ancestors saved the emperor and brought him to this island, making their clan was part of the Heike when the emperor presented his granddaughter to marry her father. That was how she was born. They reach the bay and since Jinzaburou has a good look of it, he noticed the maze-like inlets that make it hard for the Mongols to navigate. Don’t say now but a small group on a boat is chasing down a group of women on a raft! Before they could do anything, when the Mongols get too close, the women dive into the waters before the hidden Toibarai slaughter them all. Those who dive into the sea are then slaughtered by the woman divers. On land as they rest, Jinzaburou once again notices the different attire of this Mongol army. This unit uses poison arrows but don’t worry, those who got hit are treated by future doctor, Douen. Nagamine meets Teruhi and is given the letter. With his orders, he welcomes all of them and brings them to his huge hideout that was made hundreds of years ago by their Toibarai predecessors. After all, they are the ones who have been fighting to defend Japan. Amushi ‘befriends’ a local girl, Sana as he explores the long run of the wall. It’s like the mini version of China’s Great Wall. Jinzaburou feels this is a flaw and checks it out. Everyone is treated with great hospitality inside this base. They sing praises of their deeds until Jinzaburou becomes the wet blanket that has his detractors pointing their blades at his neck. He mentions how their big castle is a liability. Because of its size, there are not enough guards to protect it and if the Mongols invade, they’ll be overrun in no time.

Episode 8
Nagamine replies that Toibarai will fight to the death here without abandoning it, causing Jinzaburou to believe the reason he protects this place not because the emperor told him so but to recruit more men. Jinzaburou is told he is free to leave. Even if he escapes from the Mongols, can he survive the harsh winter? Outside, a few guards spar with Jinzaburou in an attempt to mock him but he overwhelms them. He as them take off their helmet and tell their names because if they’re fighting the Mongols, can they trust their lives to people whose faces and names you don’t know? Jinzaburou changes his thinking. He thought it was okay to abandon a place to protect the people. But now he believes both can be protected. He wants to help strengthen the walls if he is to stay and protect this place. Obusuma calls Shiraishi to speak to him alone. He hints of fighting for the Mongols. You see, after the first battle at the beach, he fled and tried to ransack some villagers but got caught. That is when a small Mongol group invaded and killed the villagers. Nergui saw potential in him and gave him his Mongol pass to come see him. Speaking of Nergui, he speaks to Uriyan who is about to give up looking for the Japanese since they don’t know where they are hiding. Nergui has been planting spies all around the island and they need just one guy to come forth. Hence Obusuma suggests Shiraishi defect with him as they will be greatly rewarded and return to their glory times. But Shiraishi won’t lose his soul and refuses. Too bad Obusuma tries to cut him down but Shiraishi is faster. When a woman comes by and learns how Shiraishi took care of the traitor and wants to go tell others, Shiraishi kills her and makes it look like she killed Obusuma for trying to rape her.

Jinzaburou has second thoughts about Shouni’s promise. It is that promise that is keeping everyone’s spirits high but he doubts the army giving up the advantage of the terrain in Kyushu they know so well. On the positive note, if they do come, they can do more. Nagamine and co examine the slain bodies but he believes something is wrong. Jinzaburou also smells something wrong with Shiraishi not seen since afternoon. Plus, it is just fishy that a skilled samurai like Obusuma is easily killed by a diver woman. Shiraishi goes to see Uriyan. Nergui is suspicious as this isn’t the person he gave the pass to. Shiraishi tells of the base’s weaknesses and when asked if there are treasures and live slaves, Shiraishi regrets this betrayal but cannot turn back. Uriyan relishes seeing his despair face. Because of that, he is willing to trust him and bring him into his ranks. How does it sound to have the title of the first Japanese to defect to them? Night falls as Nagamine tells Jinzaburou about the strange death of Obusuma. For the little dagger the diver woman had, it is impossible for her to make a clean cut across his collar bone. As suspicions on Shiraishi’s whereabouts grow, the man returns. His excuse? He went hunting for some wild boar meat. Next morning, a report is received that the Mongols are coming to attack this base at full force.

Episode 9
Jinzaburou draws a map of the base. From where the Mongols are coming, it looks like they will be coming up from the south. With their main forces here, Shiraishi offers to guard the west side. Jinzaburou? He’ll be outside. And by that he means doing a skirmish on the vanguard just to make them panic before running back behind the walls. With the Mongols now focusing all their efforts on the south gate, a full assault begins. To keep the Mongols from inching closer, behind the walls are stone catapults used to keep them at bay. Shiraishi tries to have the few men return to the south while he patrols here alone. For those who stayed, the Mongols who have snuck in, killed them. This is part of Uriyan’s plan to concentrate the fighting on the south while they quietly sneak in at other points. Nagamine and Jinzaburou could pick up that the Mongols are not really advancing despite their numbers increased. Like as though they don’t want to take this base. Like as though this is just a distraction. Suddenly the main citadel is on fire. Have the Mongols invaded? Actually, it is their own men who made a fire trap to burn the sneaky Mongols. So when one of Uriyan’s commanders dies from this, he becomes angry and orders a full scale attack on the base as revenge and ignores pleas to retreat and not lose any more men since their main goal is to invade Kyushu. Jinzaburou rides out with his few men for another skirmish to panic the Mongols before heading back. This time Jinzaburou fires an arrow directly at Uriyan. Thanks to his guard’s damn good reflex at blocking it with a shield, he survives but is in total shock. That is when he realizes even if they conquer this place, they have to deal with people like him. Considering it depressing, he calls off the attack. In the aftermath, soldiers who abandoned the west gate explained Shiraishi offered to guard it himself. This has the rest suspicious if he is a traitor. The best way is to go there and see if his corpse is lying there or he has fled with the Mongols. Jinzaburou arrives to see a dejected Shiraishi sitting alone. He asks if he had not retreated with the Mongols. That is when Shiraishi draws his sword at him. If he does not present Jinzaburou’s head to the Mongols, he cannot return.

Episode 10
Shiraishi explains how he was framed by a close one and lost everything and driven away. So he is fighting to get back his clan and lands. As they fight, Shiraishi loses to his Gikei style. He offers to be killed as Jinzaburou gives his last sermon how the last time they fought together was genuine. They were fighting their own wars. After he decapitates him, he passes his head to Teruhi who wish to make an example out of this. That night as Jinzaburou is sleeping, Teruhi again is going to ‘ambush’ him. But she sees Sasamaru wanting to kill him in his sleep. She tells him to not do something so cowardly and become stronger to challenge him. I want to tell the same thing to her. Once he is gone, she does the ‘cowardly’ act of stealing his lips but realizes Sasamaru is watching. That death stare warns him never to tell this or else! Oh, Jinzaburou is awake. Whatcha doing? But they hear a commotion from the south. A large number of deer and wild boars. It seems they have been driven by their land and this only indicates the size of the Mongols coming to crush this place. The Toibarai elder prays to God for a path to success. Probably God showed him a prank because some ominous thing happened and he died on the spot! However Nagamine interprets this as the worst is over as the elder sacrificed himself for the bad omen to pass. WTF. I hope he didn’t read it wrongly just to boost some false morale.

Meanwhile Zhang shows the other prisoners a boat he found near the coast and has packed it with stuff and is seaworthy to the mainland. At first nobody seems interested to defect with him but with the winds in their favour, Onitakemaru is considering. Amushi too but upon noticing Sana is watching, he changes his mind. In the end, only Onitakemaru goes with him. The Mongols kill the Toibarai scouts in the forest. As show of strength, they light up and you can see them covering the entire mountain range. It is probably a scare tactic to make them retreat before they fight. But with Nagamine determined to stay put and fight, Jinzaburou wants to make a compromise. Temporarily retreat until reinforcements come. They can survive in the mountains till they come. With Teruhi reminding about Antoku’s words to survive, Nagamine gives the orders to retreat. But a report soon arrive that what it looks like a large fleet coming from the sea. Are these the reinforcements Jinzaburou is talking about? Meanwhile Shouni is about to finish preparing his men for Tsushima. However his father did not hear of this expedition and cancels it. He believes the Mongols are not their only enemy. When the war is over, there will be clans who will try to claim glory for it and it will change who runs Kyushu. Shouni tries to convince him that Tsushima is under their protection but ultimately the patriarch’s words are final. Hence the large fleet our Tsushima people are seeing isn’t that of Japan but the Mongols. As they are arriving from the north, this means they are surrounded and trapped like rats.

Episode 11
With the final battle at hand, I guess they really need the rally from Jinzaburou as of why he is fighting for Tsushima. The Mongols’ attack this time is deadlier since their commander has put up a competition to see who can steal the most loot. Those who failed will be punished! With the Mongols overwhelming on the east gate, Nagamine sends Jinzaburou to help out there. Good thing, right? Because Teruhi can now be saved by him. Although Nagamine destroys the watchtower at the south gate to buy time for everyone to escape, do we have time for a cheesy romance between Nagamine and Tatsu? Had she not bug to stay with him and probably stutter to say what I think she wants to stay, she wouldn’t have died from the bomb shrapnel when the Mongols bombed the gate. Then Nagamine becomes a mad man and kills as many Mongols he can before he too succumbs to fate. With the Mongols now ambushing from within, Amushi reports that the south gate has fallen and everyone defending there is dead. He then takes his leaves and escapes with Sana along with the other women. Jinzaburou and the others also flee but with the Mongols hot on their tail, Jinzaburou will buy time while Teruhi and her villagers head up to the peak. Kano had to forcefully take Teruhi away. Yeah, like as though she won’t see her man ever again. Jinzaburou is about to fall too but Onitakemaru returns and ‘saves’ him. His excuse is he remembered a score they’re supposed to settle. However he notes Jinzaburou has changed and doesn’t like this face now. But Jinzaburou tells him that it is his own heart change if he has seen others differently. Onitakemaru offers to stay here and fight to let Jinzaburou regroup with the rest. I suppose Onitakemaru wants a rematch with Ryuu. Meanwhile Douen is treating injured people left behind. He will not leave them for he views this as repentance for killing many in the past. He even protects them when the Mongols fire their gun. Hitari manages to easily take those gun wielding Mongols with his bow and arrow but is no match for those with his similar weapon. He too falls. With the Mongols making more ground and breaking through, we see more of Teruhi’s people die trying to defend their ground. Teruhi then hears Jinzaburou’s voice. Yeah, it’s like the voice of God. He is trying to lead them to where he is. Why does it look like Teruhi is running the fastest to go greet him? He is still fighting some Mongols, isn’t he? But then, damn the Mongol bomb blasts Jinzaburou out as he falls off the cliff into the sea. There goes your reunion.

Episode 12
Teruhi falls into despair seeing her men die one by one. But just knowing the fact that Jinzaburou is not confirmed dead as he fell into the sea, gives her the much needed motivation to press on. But soon she’ll be in despair with more Mongols up ahead. While the last of her men fight, Kano devises this twisted idea to strangle Teruhi to death. At least she won’t die by the Mongols’ hands. And all Teruhi could think of is to meet Jinzaburou. Man, she has fallen real hard for him, huh? Kano distracts the Mongols but eventually got raped and killed. Amushi and the women have been surrounding by Mongols. Amushi uses the bomb he earlier stole as distraction. Too bad he got stabbed and Kana’s efforts to save him were all in vain. Jinzaburou continues sinking. Time to go back to his past where he still had his title, land and family. He reprimanded his daughter for trying to plant a tree but because she is so adamant she will protect it, he makes her stay at that spot to prove her point. And so she did. But that night, intruders come in and luckily Jinzaburou defeated them all. The reason he doesn’t want trees on his land is because it makes a great place for intruders to hide. He relaxes on his rules a bit and lets his daughter take care of the tree. Time passed and it is growing well and he could see the beaming smile on her face that she did her best. This wakes him up from his slumber but as he tries to reach the surface, he is exhausted. Hence the need for this whale shark god to save him?!

He finds himself washed ashore. Knowing he is still alive, he can still fight. As he walks through the forest, he sees corpses from both sides. But only Sasamaru lives. He was hiding among the corpses? But all Sasamaru can think of is getting his revenge. Too bad he doesn’t know how to use a sword and can’t even cut him. Jinzaburou is going to show him how it is done. Yeah, those few Mongols behind looting became Jinzaburou’s victim while Sasamaru frees the captured women and children. He is then confronted by Ryuu who is eager to fight him. But first he throws down the broken weapon of Onitakemaru, a sign he had died in his fight. Ryuu wants to see if there is still the wolf spirit in him and mocks him that he has no one left to fight for. Is this petty revenge he is gunning for? But don’t underestimate a mad dog because Jinzaburou gets the better of him. When his guards defend him, Jinzaburou gives off this death stare that scares them! So much so they open a path to Ryuu! WTF?! The Mongols are afraid of him?! Jinzaburou answers him that he fights for himself before walking away. That’s it?! He doesn’t kill him? I guess it won’t be worth it because the Mongols might just kill him where they stand. At the end of the day, Tsushima has fallen. Hindun celebrates their victory although it took a bit longer than expected. Now setting sights on Kyushu, Uriyan is not happy to think there may be more madmen like Jinzaburou on the mainland. As expected, Kano didn’t make sure Teruhi is dead so here she wakes up from ‘death’. After all, how can she kill her own princess? She walks through the forest and sees corpses. Until she sees Jinzaburou before her eyes. It’s really him. The kind of reunion you want now that everybody is dead? She notes she is the only survivor but Jinzaburou is glad because to survive is to win. Sasamaru and the other rescued villagers are also glad she is alive. With this, they take it is a sign that they can still fight and Tsushima isn’t done yet. Too bad this series is :’(.

Battlefield: Mongol Warfare
As history dictates, it would be a sad end for the people of Tsushima since they will eventually lose to the Mongols who will march on to score on a few more decisive battle victories before their withdrawal and eventual annihilation in 1281. And that was due to the weather factor. Oops. Forgot to warn you spoiler alert. But as far as this anime is concerned, although I loved every second of this series, I can’t help feel that there is no conclusion despite knowing that eventually they will lose. Jinzaburou, Teruhi and what is left of the remaining survivors trying to fight more Mongols? It is like playing a game of endurance survival. Therefore with the way they ended this series like as though they want to give us (false) hope, personally this feels worse than if it had ended on a truly tragic note whereby everybody lost and died. I might not like the latter ending either but at least there is closure. With Jinzaburou still alive and having the strength to fight on doesn’t bode well if you’re talking about ending an anime season. It’s not like there will be a second season and Jinzaburou would continue and take his fight to Kyushu, right?!

At first when I started watching this series, I was thinking that everything, if not like 99% of everything here was based on true events. But as I watched the series, it dawned to me it was just historical fiction. For one, I Google and cannot find the characters’ names to pop up anywhere near the real thing. So do they really exist or not? Save for a few characters like Sukekuni. Maybe I don’t know how to Google or because the series is recent and hence pops up at the top of recent searches. Sure, the series is based on this first Mongol invasion event but not on what happened. See the difference? I guess it is easy to be deceived when we hear movies and series based on real historical events. Based, people. Based. Meaning, inspiration is drawn from there and it is not retelling of actual events. After all, when you are producing a movie, you want to make it as interesting as possible and there would be some weird and impossible stuffs that would happen in the reel life rather than real life. In this case, the war. I mean, you see so many people cleanly cut in half like as though their swords are lightsabers! But thankfully, still some realism because no over the top exaggerated moves like throwing fireballs. Yeah…

The best parts of this anime are of course the action sequences. There is no short of it in every episode. And if you like your anime series bloodied to the bone, barbarically violent and people dying like flies, this is your cup of tea. Even if most of the action is hack and slash, it doesn’t feel boring nor repetitious. Perhaps it is shown in a way that the few Japanese people are desperate and like cornered rats, they fight to the teeth and nail with all they’ve got. Because so, we can’t help root for them each time they face off with the indomitable Mongols. We want to see them pull through and survive another day. Of course some minimal strategies are also involved but when it comes to melee combat, nothing beats trying to poke a sharp object into your enemy’s body first. It’s either you or him. I am not sure if this kind of TV violence is okay but it does send you the signal about the atrocities of war and no one, young or old, women or children will be spared from it. But I guess back then, that is the mentality of the people. The strong shall conquer and the weak will either submit or die. But as far as this series is concerned, the few people on Tsushima against the large horde of Mongol army, it is like the Japanese version of 300! Everything so manly! Everything so GAR!!!

Having said that, the other segments of the series aren’t really that much interesting. Already it is based on history so even with this plot to work along, there is only so much you can stray if you want to be as faithful to the real thing. One of the cheesy parts I find is the seemingly romance factor they try to insert in when they are not fighting. Especially Teruhi’s annoying crush on Jinzaburou. Japanese girls are really good being tsundere even for one back then. She gives excuses of needing him to be alive and the likes but in real life she just wants to be with this dude. I don’t blame her since it is women’s dream of falling for a strong and capable men. It’s only natural. But still, this cheesiness of her trying to steal a kiss (which is never properly shown if their lips ever met), it feels very disjointed from the whole war and action theme of the series. I know you can’t be fighting all the time but do we have time for all this? Maybe when you’re living every day like the last. Even so, Teruhi should just straight up tell it to his face she loves him. Or maybe that would make the rest see her in a different light. After all, she is a princess and still has her own responsibility and burden to shoulder. She isn’t particularly a damsel in distress as she showed her mettle in archery with some head shots to her count but too bad I’ll remember her mostly for this cheesy tsundere act more than anything else. In the final stages of the series, they try to put in more cheesy romance in Nagamine x Tatsu and Amushi x Sana. Too bad all ended in tragedy and I am wondering why the need to even have this. Feels so weird.

The characters themselves aren’t interesting either. Even with Jinzaburou as the main character, he is interesting because of the different way he thinks when he is on the battlefield. But if you want to know more about him, his past seems to be very much shrouded in mystery even if that final episode sheds some light, it still doesn’t tell us why he got exiled in the first place. What kind of atrocities did he do to get him here in the first place. Maybe it is that incident at Tokiaki’s residence but nothing of that was confirmed. Perhaps if this series had another cour to run, it would flesh out Jinzaburou’s character. Then again, the reason why this series is exciting is because of the fast action and to slow it down with multiple character flashbacks and develop them would have diluted the interest and worth. So it is a catch-22 situation. Fast and furious action or better character development. I’m glad it was the former.

So it sounds like I am going to complain more about the other characters especially those who are of the same exiled party as Jinzaburou. They do play their small roles and each has their own characteristics you could remember them by like Hitari’s skilled hunting arrow skills, Amushi’s great vision and Onitakemaru’s strength (damn we didn’t get to see this guy get killed – only to speculate that he might not be really dead). But ultimately to solve everything, everybody got killed off. Therefore like the character Douen, I am wondering why they need this character around since he has no fighting abilities and his only worth is to help heal others with his medicinal knowledge. I’m sure it is to assure that the injured villagers have someone in capable hands to deal with their wounds but aren’t there any other decent doctors around on Tsushima?

The only mystery I am wondering is to what happen to Zhang. Is he dead? Because Onitakemaru only returned on his own. I doubt this midget could sail away passed the Mongol fleets by himself so I am assuming he got killed too since he can’t fight and you only remember him as a sneaky merchant. If he is that memorable in the first place. I thought Kano was going to be a handful helping out in the frontline of the battles. But he kunoichi-like dressing makes it deceiving as she is seen most of the time escorting and protecting Teruhi until her final moments.

If there was something that changed many of the characters in this series in generally, it would be the advancing Mongols that united the people of Tsushima to fight against the invaders. At first you see the arrogance of the locals especially those of higher status and lineage. They don’t accept the exiled prisoners’ help and often look down on them. When things get really bad and they manage to scrap one survival after another, titles and status no longer play a vital role anymore. As long as they are Japanese and love this land, that is the only qualification they need to band together and fight. War really brings out the best and the worst in mankind.

It would have been interesting had we seen the perception from the Mongol side as they too have quite a few commanders and top generals of high calibre. Too bad they are just briefly introduced, participated in a few battles and that’s it. Because it would be nice to hear some explanations or be enlightened by a few things from their side. For example, the different Mongol outfits for different Mongol armies. Jinzaburou may have speculated they come from different places but this part could have been explained in detail a bit more. Instead, with the barrage of different uniformed Mongols, it feels like as though they want to put in some variety of different low level baddies because you’ll perhaps get sick of watching the same yellow dotted ones from Goryeo. Imagine in a beat’em up game where you fight the same looking enemies until you reach the end level boss. Boring! Kublai Khan might not be on this expedition to invade Japan but I wish they would have shown more on Hindun instead of showing his face just to let us know he is the big boss of this expedition. And what’s with that foreigner ninja who served under him? What wasted potential that Jinzaburou clashed with him so early and never again.

Noticing the art and animation, although it seems pretty standard and decent, I can’t help notice that the entire series feels like it is drawn on some old scroll. At least you can see those crumpled lines and shades all over the screen. Although it gives a sketch-like and sometimes water colour feel, at times I just find it annoying as the animation doesn’t seem smooth and this kind of art is distracting you especially in slower moments. But it does give the series its unique feel. Although the animation during action bits are decent, sometimes the animation quality during non-battle scenes take a dip and it is noticeable. Maybe they put all their budget in the fight scenes but some of them too feel like there is drop in standard. I mean, how many Mongols are you going to animate on screen and then let them get killed?

As for the character designs, some of the characters do look weird. Like Antoku I thought he is some sort of ghost or something. Maybe great grandpa is close to going to the next world? Oops, sorry. Some Mongols look weird too. Although many generic ones like the soldiers spot the generic Mongolian look (slant squint eyes, that thin moustache), the commanders are given a distinct look. Sometimes they look more like sub-bosses in a video game. Because many of them are like, uhm, fat. Oh right. Mongols are supposed to be stout. But the oddest looking one is Ryuu whom I feel looks so out of place because he looks like an American punk to me. Seriously. Is it me or does Jinzaburou look almost similar to the titular protagonist of Hajime No Ippo? I suppose he is one of the few main characters who doesn’t have that typical handsome bishonen look. It would so anime-like fantasy weird if he is a pretty boy that has awesome killer skills. This series is animated by NAZ who did the Hamatora series, Hajimete No Gal and Dramatical Murder.

The opening theme is Braver by Straightener. While the piece is generally not bad, the song overall sounds a bit drowsy. Perhaps it is the way the singer sings it in such a manner, preventing it from being a total hard rock outfit which would have totally suited the anime like a glove. The same sentiments for the ending theme, Upside Down by She’s. Again, the singer’s voice sounds drowsy to give this slow-moderate rock piece that feel. Only difference his voice sounds a bit more gay. Yeah… But hearing this piece does invoke some feels because of all the bloody bloodshed and deaths that happened in the episode.

Overall, this is a very highly interesting series and packed with lots of action, blood and gore and had me wanting more. It could have done better in other departments such as the characters and explaining certain parts that were not clearly clarified but as far as for this historical fiction. But on a general level, the historical backdrop and how an exiled samurai is fighting this war to redeem himself is indeed interesting and fascinating. War-centric series like this reminds us of the brutality of war and why we should be thankful living in a time and world where peace mostly reigns. Well, almost. But then again, when you see human stupidity and greed all over again rife in this new digital age, do you sometimes wish the great Mongol army and the great Angolmois would revive and reduce the population for a better future and sustainability? I mean, who does a better genocide than the Mongols? Not even Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Leopold II, Ismail Enver, Pol Pot, Mao Zedong and Hideki Tojo combined could match the slaughtering might of the Mongols. Can they do it? Yes, they Kahn!

Golden Kamuy

September 23, 2018

Initially I was going to give Golden Kamuy the pass. I know, over the years the biasness and stereotypes of certain anime genres are a big part in how I make my decisions to watch a certain anime of the season. So when I saw that historical genre tag for this series, I was quick to cast it aside. You know, I had too many animes to watch so I need to downsize! Yeah… But then again my guts told me something else. It told me to properly read the synopsis. Just read it. And then boom! Suddenly I found myself interested to check out what this series is about. Soldier dude and Ainu girl pairing up to find a lost heap of gold stolen from the Ainu people. It’s not only them chasing after the gold but other criminals and military soldiers as well. So, historical Japanese version of Indiana Jones?

Episode 1
Saichi Sugimoto is nicknamed Immortal Sugimoto because of his miraculous survival against all odds during the Russo-Japanese war. Now that the war is over, he is still poor and panning for gold in some river. Accompanied by some drunk guy, he is being told of a rumour that could make him rich. There was this guy who stole loads of goal from the Ainu tribe that he slain and hid it somewhere in Hokkaido. However he was caught and sentenced to death. Before they did so, he was tortured and the tendons in his leg cut to avoid running away. He never told anybody. Because he still needed to tell his comrades, he tattooed codes all over the other prisoners’ body that would reveal the location of the treasure. Only his comrades outside can decipher it. Oddly, why and how did the guards even allow this? Anyway to crack the code, all prisoners are needed. Of course the authorities got greedy and one day decided to transfer them out. It was part of their plan to escape. The prisoners killed the guards and ran away as part of the deal was whoever finds the treasure gets to keep half of it. Sugimoto dreams of his best friend who died in the war and his last request was to take care of his wife’s failing eyes and hopes he could take her to an American doctor for a cure. The drunk guy realizes he has said too much and is going to kill him. This only makes Sugimoto believe his story. He fails to kill him and runs away. Sugimoto thinks of hunting him down before he gets a chance to return to kill him. However that guy is already dead. Yup, he became bear fodder. Look at the hole in his guts! But Sugimoto has to ‘save’ this corpse since he spots tattoo all over his body. Yes, he is one of the escaped convicts.

Sugimoto’s fears come true when the bear returns. Thankfully for this petite Ainu girl, Asirpa she manages to kill it. However upon opening its gut and finding it empty, this bear didn’t eat the prisoner. Asirpa fears the only bear who could do this are those who could not hibernate and is in a foul mood. The worst of the worst. Since it is getting dark and Sugimoto can’t just leave the corpse, he tells Asirpa the story. He needs her help as he needs the money. Surprisingly, she believes him. Because her father was one of the slain Ainu people. Night fall as Asirpa makes the necessary preparations to stave off the moody bear. I wonder how the bear can creep on them in this snow. I know it’s dark but they should have sensed something this big close. Sugimoto gets pinned down as he tells Asirpa not to shoot her arrow as she might hit him in the dark. The saviour comes in the form of a white Ezo wolf. It distracts the bear enough for Sugimoto to pick up his bayonet and stab its heart. End of the nightmare. Asirpa gives Sugimoto the credit for killing the bear so she points out certain parts he can sell for a high price. Sugimoto reasons that the gold hasn’t been found yet since this guy is hiding out here. The man who killed her father may still be alive in prison. The government won’t kill him until they find the gold. Finding the gold is a way to avenge her father’s death. She need not dirty his hands, just lend him her wisdom. He wants money, she wants revenge. Together they will be unstoppable.

Episode 2
We see Asirpa putting squirrel traps. The duo arrive in Otaru, the biggest port city in Hokkaido. They believe this is where the prisoners will be hiding as hiding in small villages will only make them stand out. They ask around for men with weird tattoos but none has seen any. They noticed a suspicious guy tailing them and they lead him straight into their squirrel trap. He is one of those prisoners as he reveals that he doesn’t know where the rest are. After the prisoners escaped, they started killing each other upon realizing things. Because of the way the tattoos are inked on their bodies, you have to skin them. This means the mastermind never intended to have them alive. As part of the deal, Sugimoto cannot kill the prisoners. Thankfully Asirpa is a good sketcher so she can sketch the tattoos onto her notes. As they interrogate further, they find out the man who carved the tattoos is called Nopperabo, literally meaning no face. Suddenly he is shot. The duo go into hiding until Sugimoto gets a chance to tackle him. Hyakunosuke Ogata is from the 7th Division, the strongest military unit in the army. They fight each other until Ogata accidentally falls off a ledge and his head knocks on a rock. Any normal person would have died from that but… Sugimoto reiterates to Asirpa that he is not a killer but after surviving a war, he learns in order to stay alive, you must not get killed. But if somebody wants to kill him, he will not hesitate to kill him first.

Now we see Asirpa cook squirrel meat and innards for dinner. Better follow her way of eating raw and not offend her. Ogata is found alive and close to death by his regiment. Next day, another prisoner gets caught in the squirrel trap. As Asirpa sketches the tattoos in the body of Yoshitake Shiraishi, they spot a rabbit. Catch the rabbit! Food! But Shiraishi uses this chance to escape as he is an escape artist. He keeps tools inside his throat! Sugimoto chases after him when the weather suddenly changes. It is bad enough that the temperature drops, now both men fall into the freezing river. Sugimoto knows they must warm up in 10 minutes or risk dying of hypothermia. He needs to find his bullets so he can start a fire with the gunpowder. He wants Shiraishi to start looking for them in the river but he insists on making a deal to not kill him. Sugimoto reluctantly does and he takes out a big bullet from his throat! They manage to make a fire. Shiraishi explains there are 24 tattooed prisoners in total. The only one who knows them all is the leader of the prisoners who led the escape. Surprisingly he is Toshizou Hijikata, the vice commander of the Shinsengumi. The only thing Nopperabo told the prisoners is go to Otaru. Sugimoto tells him to forget about the gold and leave Hokkaido. It isn’t Nopperabo’s friends or the prisoners gunning for it. The 7th Division too. Shiraishi is confident as an escape king, nobody can catch him.

Episode 3
Time for rabbit stew. When Sugimoto takes out his miso flavour, Asirpa gets shocked and thinks it is poo!!! Really, oh sh*t! After putting some bear trap, Sugimoto spots some reflections in the distance. Instantly he takes Asirpa and run. He knows those are binoculars. True enough, those are men from the 7th Division. To split up to lose them. One guy is assigned to track down the Ainu while the rest hunt down Sugimoto. They corner him and have him surrender as they accuse Sugimoto of attacking Ogata. In a bold gamble, Sugimoto dives into the bear’s den. They shoot inside. Suddenly the bear charges out and rips apart their guts!!! Holy sh*t! Eventually the bear and the army took each other out. Sugimoto exits alive as he couldn’t believe the Ainu’s legend that a bear will not attack a human in its den to be true. But if the den was small enough to fit Sugimoto, how did he hide behind the bear assuming the bullets hit the bear, right? Asirpa is caught and she plays dumb by speaking Ainu. However the soldier is smart enough to tell she can understand him. Before he could kill her, it’s that wolf again to the rescue. Man, it is tossing him around like a ragdoll! When they reunite, Asirpa is not pleased that Sugimoto has a bear cub! He wants to play mama to this cute bear whose parent has died?! Asirpa reminds him of the responsibilities of taking care of a bear so he reluctantly hands it to her. Hope she doesn’t turn it into bear stew. Genjirou Tanigaki as the sole survivor of this group is fascinated with the wolf. As he is from a hunting family, he is very interested to hunt down that wolf for its silver fur.

As Asirpa’s village is nearby, she takes him to there to stay. The Ainu are curious people so they are fascinated with Sugimoto. She brings him to talk to her grandmother. As she doesn’t speak Japanese, Asirpa translates for her. She talks about Asirpa spending her youth in the mountains and hence can do non-women stuffs like hunting, fishing, etc. This means she cannot land a husband and she hopes Sugimoto would take her as his bride. Embarrassed Asirpa mistranslates that about not eating that miso poop. Sugimoto learns more about the Ainu culture like how newborns are given hideous names to avoid them from being taken by evil spirits. When they are old enough, they are given proper names surrounding their behaviour. So Asirpa was once named her grandfather’s anus before being given a name that means a new year. Also more Ainu culture on why they do ceremonies for the gods (termed as kamuy) so that when they come down and give their blessing, they will know this is a fun place and return here again. That is why for the baby bear’s case, they will take care of it for 2 years before doing a ceremony to release it back into the wild. Captain Wada is not pleased that Lieutenant Tsurumi has took his men out for some hunt at this hour. As he rants about his punishment, Tsurumi bites off his finger! When a guy has his front skull blown off, you better not agitate him. When Wada orders him to be shot immediately, the men shoot him instead. Tsurumi has him stripped and buried. Tatsuma Ushiyama (Mike Haggar?!) is interrupted from f*cking his prostitute by Hijikata who has found a way to copy tattoos onto oil paper instead of killing them. He wants to join forces because at some point they will have to face the 7th Division and they’re going to steal the tattooed skins they have.

Episode 4
Sugimoto almost stepped into a poison trap but luckily for him, the warning of Makanakkuru made him live longer. He talks a bit more about the gold that was stolen from them. He believed it is a curse from the water kamuy because people tried to pan for gold there and the Ainu don’t even use water that flows from that river. They believe defiling the rivers to make war is blasphemy. More Ainu culture as Sugimoto learns from Asirpa about the belief of guardian spirit behind everyone’s neck and the game that children play by trying to make the scariest noise. That night, Sugimoto hears a howling of the wolf. When he describes a wolf that saved Asirpa twice, Makanakkuru explains Asirpa and her father saved it when it was young. Named Retar (white), it became close to Asirpa after her father’s death and often accompanied her when she goes to the mountains but one night it too cannot resist the call of its fellow pack and left Asirpa. She was very sad and stopped smiling ever since. She might look tough but she is still a lonely girl. Recently Asirpa is happier and he believes she must be enjoying her times in the mountains with him. With grandma even hoping Sugimoto would stay with her, he understands how much everyone loves her so he packs his bags and leaves. Next morning, Asirpa is mad that Sugimoto left without saying a word. It will be tough for her to find him in town and since Retar stands out, they’ll have to wait till night fall to move.

Sugimoto is looking for tattooed prisoners when he is ambushed by soldiers from the 7th Division. He puts up a fight before being outnumbered. Of course Tsurumi won’t kill him otherwise he won’t get to know the other skinned tattoos he has. As he is being interrogated, Sugimoto tries to play dumb. He even tries to make it sound they’ve got the wrong guy. But Tsurumi knows him. Doesn’t anybody in the army not know about his immortal status? With Sugimoto still playing dumb, not taking things seriously and laughing, Tsurumi suddenly sticks a sharp toothpick through his cheeks. No screaming. Tsurumi wants him to join and fight for him to find the gold. But with almost 100 men by his side, isn’t that too much to split? Tsurumi wants that to be their war chest. They’ll buy weapons from America and take over Hokkaido and major ports that control flow of goods to the mainland. Sugimoto still refuses him. Asirpa has Retar sniff Sugimoto’s sock to find him. But it leads to Shiraishi. During that hypothermia incident, they got mixed up. Shiraishi tells rumours of Sugimoto being caught by Tsurumi and Asirpa wants him to bring her there. Shiraishi tries to escape but Retar could easily find him. We can play hide and seek with a wolf all night. Sugimoto is further tortured and locked up. A couple of soldiers feel like cutting his fingers to make him talk. Even in this tied state, Sugimoto can still fight back! But it’s one big weird fighting orgy…

Episode 5
Sugimoto makes all those noises when he is fighting so that the other guards could come and stop them. This also allows Shiraishi and Asirpa to pinpoint where he is. Noticing the rusty window grill, he can break a grill and dislocate his joints to slide in. He just needs some oil. How about bear fat? He slides in as Sugimoto thinks he is a ghost! But those soldiers come back to kill him. With one of them watching outside, Sugimoto is swift to steal his bayonet and kill him. When others arrive, they see Sugimoto in a critical state, like as though his guts are cut opened. He promises to tell them the gold for treatment. Tsurumi has his men take him away for the best treatment. Tsurumi then examines the body and finds it strange on the way he dies. Then he realizes it is a trap. Sugimoto cut out his guts and put his clothes back on. Sugimoto breaks free from his soldiers and rides to freedom but Tsurumi is riding close behind. Thanks to Asirpa’s poison arrow taking out his horse, he gives up for now. When he returns, the police station is on fire. The soldiers lament they couldn’t save the skins but Tsurumi shows he is wearing them! Sugimoto’s reunion with Asirpa… He got punched! Hijikata gets some finest weapons from his old Shinsengumi comrade, Shinpachi Nagakura. Ushiyama thinks there is more than just gold that Hijikata is after.

The horse would only be an easy target so it is killed for horse meat. RIP horsey. Sugimoto feels bad if Asirpa dies on this mission and doesn’t know what to tell to her village. However she tells him to tell them she was in his way. She made her decision and failed. But the real issue is him. He didn’t trust his partner, acted alone, made poor decisions and got caught. He is the one who failed. Asirpa didn’t like it after finding out Sugimoto added miso into the horse nabe. But after tasting it, now she loves it! You mean she is all okay for Japanese poop now? Never try, never know. Hijikata and men go to see a bandit leader, Zenjirou Shibukawa. Earlier he sent a messenger to team up for the gold hunt but never returned. Shibukawa beat him up and had him spill the beans. Now he wants to see the skins. Hijikata shows him the heads of the men outside he killed. They can kill each other or help each other. Shibukawa orders his men to kill but it becomes a one-sided fight with Hijikata turning into a demon to slay them all. Ushiyama asked about his ulterior motive. It seems he wants to revive the Shinsengumi and call for Hokkaido’s independence. Yeah, this guy plans to live for another century. More hunting documentary from Asirpa as we see them drink water from certain vines and how to track deer. They spot one but in Sugimoto’s haste, he missed its vitals. It ran away but left blood trails. Sugimoto feels bad for making it suffer unnecessary and hopes to finish it off quickly. As Asirpa tracks, she notices footsteps of 2 men and a dog. It seems Tanigaki has teamed up with a fearsome hunter, Tetsuzou Nihei to hunt down the silver wolf. Though, Nihei is famed for being a bear hunter and kills one bold enough to stand before him!

Episode 6
More bear hunting stories from Nihei. Also, bear blood cuisine from him! Nihei asks why Tanigaki still wears his military cap. Something about his dilemma of leaving his homeland of hunting and the humans he killed he did not say the same prayers to the animals he hunted. Nihei thinks his hunter soul is lost here and wants him to kill the wolf and take its pelt back home. Tanigaki burns his cap. In order to catch the wolf, they need to prepare something special. They will hunt for deer meat. Sugimoto gets another chance to kill the deer but it still has enough strength to escape. They’ll continue this tomorrow. Hot on the heels of the deer again, Tanigaki and Nihei coincidentally are on the same trail. Nihei’s dog, Ryuu starts feeling afraid despite not scared of bears and he knows they are in wolf’s territory. When Asirpa smokes out the deer, it runs straight towards Sugimoto. However that fearful look on its face as well as its frozen blood icicle from the wound reminds him of the traumas of war. He missed his chance. Retar bites it down before Asirpa kills it. Lecture time about don’t shoot if he isn’t willing to take responsibility till the end. Also, a deer’s life is never in vain. Humans and animals eat its meat and the rest goes back to the ground and trees. As they sense somebody approaching, they quickly take what they can and Retar can get the rest later. When Tanigaki and Nihei arrive, they find the sloppy mess. They note the bad job of cleaning up like as though they leave it for the wolf to come back and eat. Nihei suggests they bath and clean each other since the wolf can sharply smell them. Sugimoto and Asirpa watch the duo from afar as Asirpa believe Tanigaki must be after her.

Back at their tent, Shiraishi has returned from town with new information about the tattooed prisoners. One of them is Nihei. Tanigaki is shocked to see the tattoos on Nihei’s body. How can he still associated with him after killing his comrades? Nihei tells his story of hunting down his human prey which is more fun than hunting down bears. Killing them was what landed him in prison. He escaped because he wanted to die in the mountains. As a hunter, he will probably be eaten by an animal and then pooped out and become part of the mountains. That is his ideal death. The duo wait at night for the wolf to come but it never did. Next morning they examine the deer carcass and find wolf poop over it. They realize the wolf must have come when they were bathing and sensed their great killing aura. To make the wolf obsessed with them, Nihei burns the droppings to make it think they’re the intruders they hate. Sugimoto’s group goes to find Nihei and they seem him in a position to shoot. He has laid a trap for the wolf and we see Retar hiding, judging if it is okay to take the bait. Just when Retar thinks it is okay to move out, Asirpa shoots the trap away. Retar runs away while Sugimoto confronts Nihei. With Shiraishi identifying him, Nihei isn’t cowed by Sugimoto’s threats and dares him to see who will survive. Ryuu attacks Sugimoto. In no time, both men start going all out at each other in bloody mortal combat.

Episode 7
With Sugimoto and Nihei at a deadlock, Shiraishi and Tanigaki are in a standoff pointing rifles at each other. But Tanigaki has Asirpa as hostage so Sugimoto has Shiraishi throw down his rifle and agrees for the guys to be killed on condition that Asirpa is taken far away and not witness the killing. Nihei forgot Shiraishi is a master of escape so the guys did just that the second he took their eyes off them. Tanigaki accidentally steps into a deer trap. Asirpa helps take out the poison by cutting out the portion of his flesh. Since Nihei still wants to kill the wolf, he uses Asirpa as bait to lure Retar out. He doesn’t care about the money and wants to be the last hunter to kill a wolf. True enough the ferocious wolf comes charging and Nihei relishes the chance to shoot it. Retar zigzags so fast that Nihei can’t aim so he uses his own arm as bait for Retar to bite. He thought he the wolf is dead at point blank but another wolf bites him in the neck! This wolf is Retar’s wife and they have a pack of cubs! Nihei is satisfied with the outcome and dies. Tanigaki is taken back to Asirpa’s village. Asirpa mentions about the gathered gold in Hokkaido by the Ainu for generations that it is kept hidden and forbidden to speak. Eventually only 1 man in the village knows its whereabouts but was killed by Nopperabo. Shiraishi is shocked to hear this because of what they’re told, there is only enough gold for 1 person to carry all. Tanigaki explains Tsurumi is an intelligent officer and strategist and passed out false information.

Tsurumi led his 7th division to a seemingly suicidal mission. Although he won, half his battalion were casualties. The commander who ordered this mission initially did this for personal glory, regretted it and committed suicide. The government blamed the division for his suicide and nobody received any compensation and were treated like outcasts. Tsurumi met a foreigner who is willing to buy his weapons so he could sell it to the world and make a profit from war. That’s when Tsurumi rallied his men to create a military dictatorship to use that gold to build a weapons factory. It would put some food on the table for the families of the soldiers killed in action. Tanigaki doesn’t know why Sugimoto wants the gold but his reason is nothing compared to Tsurumi’s burden. Of course Sugimoto will not back down and keep his promise to his friend. As he is a dangerous person, Sugimoto will still not work with him. Next day Shiraishi heads to town to find more info. He chose the wrong brothel to ask because Ushiyama is here. The moment he sees this hulk, he runs. But Ushiyama gives chase. No matter what Shiraishi throws at him to slow him down, he charges through like a raging bull! Finally Shiraishi stumbles into a group of soldiers and technically he isn’t lying saying that a prisoner with tattoos is after him. Will guns stop this dude?

Episode 8
Ushiyama grabs Shiraishi and flings him around! Hijikata’s men distract the police so as to let Ushiyama escape. As Tsurumi inspects the dead distractor’s body, he learns an explosion set off at the financial district. He realizes this was a just decoy to rob a bank. He questions the bank manager about what is in the vault. Bonds, jewels, a sword… Yeah, Hijikata came here to steal a better sword. Tsurumi and Hijikata almost clashed but the latter got away in the former’s horse. Shiraishi pays the prostitute for Ushiyama’s clothes he left behind. He goes back to Sugimoto and Asirpa (hunting tanuki) to request permission to borrow Retar. But Asirpa says Retar doesn’t belong to her and besides, she doesn’t want to get the wolves involved. They blame Shiraishi for letting the tanuki escape but thankfully, Ryuu caught it. Hence Shiraishi uses Ryuu to sniff out Ushiyama’s hideout. He eavesdrop him talking about a couple of fishermen bodies found at the coast. They believe it to be the work of a fellow prisoner, Kazuo Henmi since he is basically a wandering serial killer. Shiraishi is discovered and is made to help them. He lies when asked if they have a single tattooed body. He is then tasked to get Henmi. Shiraishi returns to Sugimoto and Asirpa to tell exploits about Henmi. He talked to that guy once and his serial killing stemmed from watching his brother struggle and died helplessly after being gored by a wild boar. Remembering those moments make him want to kill others. Did his dick just glow as a way to say he has a boner thinking of that?! Because the marks left by him on the corpses, he fears it might be his work. Asirpa is worried since her uncle is there to catch whales and herrings. Yeah, she wants to eat whale meat too.

Upon arriving there, Asirpa’s uncle immediately seeks their help to harpoon a whale. They manage to do so but the whale takes them for a ride. It bumps into a group of fisherman, causing one of them to fall over. Sugimoto wants to go back and help him seeing he would die of hypothermia. So he leaves Shiraishi and the Ainu to catch the whale? Sugimoto and Asirpa pull this guy back up and on land, we are shown he is Henmi. He can’t show them his tattoo and gives excuses he is shy. He killed those fishermen as bait for other tattooed prisoners. Henmi could sense the same killing aura from Sugimoto and is tempted to be killed by him. He holds back from showing his tattoos since dying now will be too easy. He must struggle like his late brother and then die a horrible death. He returns to his dorm to change. A sick man saw his tattoos and Henmi kills him! Henmi treats Sugimoto and Asirpa to some hospitality as he watches Sugimoto chop things up and gets orgasmic thinking of the horrific way he will die by his hands. Then he asks him about the people he killed in his war as Sugimoto explains he will never forget those he killed as atonement. So when he dies, he will never think he is going peacefully. Henmi’s death boner is glowing so bright now…

Episode 9
Asirpa discovers a corpse in the toilet. She returns to warn Sugimoto but Henmi has taken him elsewhere. When the 7th Division is seen, Sugimoto tries to hide so Henmi takes him to hide in a nearby private manor. A couple of those soldiers are there and they thought they spot Sugimoto. As Henmi tries to give excuse, he kills them but not without getting shot. As Sugimoto tries to carry him, Tsurumi is in this manor too. Sugimoto runs to the shore whereby Shiraishi has captured the whale. When Shiraishi identifies Henmi, the latter tries to kill Sugimoto but is shot by Asirpa’s arrow. Henmi lets his intention of dying known so Sugimoto allows him to fight and die like a man. Oh God his dick is glowing! And when Sugimoto sticks his bayonet deep in him, did he make a sexual subtext that it is coming deep inside him!!! WTF???!! But that is nothing compared to suddenly an orca grabs him and swims back to sea. WTF???!!! Can an orca go so close to shore like that?! Can they row a boat faster than that sea mammal? For some reason, the orca is tossing and playing with Henmi. So Sugimoto strips naked (except his hat?) and dives in to save Henmi. How the heck does he swim faster than the orca?! Asirpa fires a whale harpoon and they’re in for an orca ride until it dies. Henmi is glad he gets to experience this glorifying death. Sugimoto prepares to cut up his skin. Tsurumi receives word that Ogata and Kouhei Nikaidou are missing.

When Tanigaki returns to the Ainu village, he is shocked that Ogata and Nikaidou are here. Tanigaki somewhat lies that he was injured by a trap and was saved by the Ainu, hence he is staying here to repay them. However the duo believe Tanigaki killed the other soldiers that were sent with him. At this point, they are holding grandma as hostage as Tanigaki pleads not to kill them. They claim they were joking and leave. Tanigaki realizes he can’t stay as he pleads to grandma he wants to leave but the Ainu kid loves him? Suddenly a shot grazes his head. Ogata tried to snipe him. Nikaidou wonders why he didn’t kill him back then. He would have to kill the hostages as witnesses too and he didn’t want that. Tanigaki knows he is f*cked seeing Ogata is a sharp marksman. He tries all sorts of tricks but Ogata is experienced. Tanigaki remembers he was told the 7th Division are made up of ragtags and some don’t share Tsurumi’s goal. This means somebody is going to betray him but he never thought Ogata was going to be the one. He considers them their enemy. He throws a few smokescreen and escapes by breaking a hole in the back wall. Ogata realizes this a bit too late but notes Tanigaki can’t go far in his recovery state. Meanwhile Hijikata visits Sugimoto disguised as some old passing man. He just casually chat with him before leaving. Asirpa sleeping like a baby?

Episode 10
Tanigaki uses this hunting knowledge to get away from the duo. Next morning, Ogata spots a fire and next to it a corpse of a baby bear. He sends Nikaidou to examine and it is clearly a trap. However mother bear attacks and mauls him! Ogata is in a dilemma whether to shoot because it will reveal his location. But with Nikaidou screaming for help, he eventually fires and the bear is sent running. Ogata then exposes himself, confident Tanigaki does not have a gun. Suddenly a shot is fired into his chest! It is a soldier from 7th Division as he meets up with Tanigaki to explain, Tsurumi has been following them closely to weed out traitors. But he is shot in the head by Ogata. His binoculars saved him. Tanigaki and Ogata flee when Tsurumi’s side arrives. He interrogates Nikaidou and cuts off his ear as warning. He wants to know the names of the traitors. Nikaidou is willing to die but when Tsurumi says he will let him kill Sugimoto (since Sugimoto killed his brother back at the base then), Nikaidou immediately names them. Sugimoto’s side talks about mermaids and also some Ainu monster fish. Speaking of which, Shiraishi gets eaten when he fell into the lake! He is saved thanks to Kiroranke Nispa, Asirpa’s father’s old friend. As Asirpa explains the fish besides eating and can be used to make clothes and accessories, why think so much? Just eat it!

Sugimoto is on alert when Kiroranke says he is from the 7th Division. However he has already quit the military and during his time, Tsurumi wasn’t the commanding officer. He tells them that a strange old man (Hijikata) came to his village asking for a woman named Asuko Kochoube. Asirpa is shocked since this is her registered Japanese name and only her deceased parents know it. When Nopperabo gave hints to prisoners about his comrade to meet after they escape, it seems Nopperabo wanted to entrust the gold to Asirpa. Nopperabo is Asirpa’s father! She is in disbelief about her own father killing the Ainu and stealing their gold. Kiroranke reveals that Nopperabo and himself aren’t really Ainu and came to Japan. Judging by the route Nopperabo took, he wanted to gold to be shipped out from Japan. Asirpa wants to see her father and if so, he will tell her everything. This means they have to sneak into Abashiri prison, the toughest prison in Japan. Also, it would be easier to ask him than finding all the other scattered prisoners. Don’t worry. That’s what Shiraishi is for, right? Kiroranke wants in on this as he feels responsible for stealing the Ainu’s gold. They can take their share but the rest goes back to the Ainu. Going back to Asirpa’s village, they see Tanigaki fitting in nicely with the Ainu. Looks like he has decided to make this his life. They make route plans to Abashiri in the north but Kiroranke wants to go buy some weapons and explosives first as they will be expecting to fight. Shiraishi wonders if Sugimoto plans on letting Kiroranke on this. Sugimoto doesn’t trust him like he does with him and that Kiroranke is not telling everything he knows about Nopperabo. But if Asirpa trusts him, he can’t be that bad.

Episode 11
Ushiyama enters a hotel run by the proprietress, Kano Ienaga. It seems she recognizes who Ushiyama is but the latter not so. Ushiyama is interested to screw her but with the right timing of Sugimoto’s gang coming in for lodging, she attends to them. She also knows who Shiraishi is and wonders if he knows who she is. On the outside this might seem like a normal hotel but it is a maze-like murder dungeon. Ienaga tracks through the secret passage as she spies on her guests. Her goal is to find the perfect body. She wants Ushiyama’s body and Asirpa’s eyes. To prevent Shiraishi and Ushiyama from meeting each other, she springs a trap on the former that sends him falling into her torture dungeon. Ushiyama tries to make his advances on Ienaga again but she bites his tongue. I guess he can wait for tonight. She then knocks out Shiraishi and ties him up. Ushiyama meets Sugimoto for the first time and they almost start fighting with their judo stance. Since Ushiyama likes them, he treats them to dinner. All of them got drunk and start talking about dicks! Even Aisirpa! It’s time for Ushiyama to screw Ienaga so he goes back to his room. He finds a secret passage an unknowingly falls into the dungeon. Shiraishi tries to get his help to escape but since Ushiyama is still drunk, he thinks he is Ienaga and makes out with him!!! OMFG!!!! Shiraishi tells him about Ienaga’s identity. Now he remembers she is actually one of the tattooed prisoners. That old doctor dude who likes to cross-dress! That mole beneath the mouth jogged his memories. Ushiyama doesn’t care! He still wants to f*ck Ienaga!!!

Meanwhile Ienaga is in Asirpa’s room. WTF is she trying to lick her eyes?! Luckily Sugimoto kicks her away. She tries to give excuses but Sugimoto knows something is off. How did she get in if he locked the door and it still remains locked? That is when Shiraishi returns, knocking on the door and shouting Ienaga’s true identity. Ienaga tosses syringes at Asirpa. Sugimoto manages to catch it but Ienaga is gone. She ran away via secret passage but now she has to run away from the rampaging Ushiyama who still wants to f*ck her! Ushiyama and Sugimoto confront each other again in which a one-sided judo match occurs. Ushiyama could have crushingly won had not Sugimoto fell through a trapdoor. Ienaga tries to destroy this place and along with all the evidence. Now that Ushiyama is sober, he sees Shiraishi. He tells him a message sent by Hijikata: Always let him know his whereabouts and don’t think he can trick him. Shiraishi manages to warn everyone to get out because he accidentally dropped his bomb. Ushiyama picks up Ienaga pinned underneath a pillar. She rants about her regrets of wanting to stay young, beautiful and perfect even if that means stealing from others. Then the hotel explodes into smithereens. RIP to other guests who were sleeping there. Sugimoto believes Ushiyama didn’t survive the explosion and Asirpa who was asleep all this time (thanks to the sleeping gas), wakes up and is sad thinking Dick-sensei is dead!!!! Don’t worry, that guy still lives. A few piles of rubbles can’t even scratch him.

Episode 12
Shiraishi gives Ushiyama the copy of Henmi’s skin. In turn, Ushiyama brings him to Ienaga who reveals a juicy bit. After some fox hunting lesson, Sugimoto’s side stays at an Ainu village belonging to Asirpa’s grandma’s brother. He notes a strange woman is staying here to. She is Inkarmat and is a fortune teller. She uses the skull of a fox to tell fortunes and she deems their journey will fail. However Asirpa views herself as a new age Ainu girl and will not believe such nonsense. Well, it’s just a prediction, not an order. But then Asirpa is left to think twice when Inkarmat guesses that she is looking for her father. As her fortune telling is believed to be 100% accurate, you know what this means, right? Shiraishi takes her down to the horse racing track to bet! She finds it interesting and agrees. In no time Shiraishi becomes rich from all her true predictions! So when Sugimoto and co come looking for him, that bastard is so cocky that he could pay off whatever debt he borrowed from Asirpa for those earlier horse races he lost. But Kiroranke can also ‘predict’ which horse to win. He has been handling and training horses since young so he has a good eye. Suddenly a couple of guys is in search of a missing jockey who ran away. They think Kiroranke is it and has him be the replacement. But Kiroranke can sense something afoul because the next race is going to be rigged when some of the guys try to bloat the horses with water.

With a certain horse certain to win, of course Shiraishi bets all his money on it. Win big or lose it all. Asirpa tries to stop Inkarmat but the latter reminds her that it would be good for her if Shiraishi loses. Because if he wins, he will have no reason to help her anymore. Similarly as Sugimoto restrains Shiraishi, he is being told that he doesn’t need that much money. Yes, they are in Hokkaido to make money but they don’t necessary have to risk their lives. Sugimoto as his principles and will not abandon Asirpa. Asirpa is left shocked when Inkarmat views her eye colour as pretty as her father’s. Then she disappears. She had enough fun for today. When the race begins, it is very obvious that the horse designated to win, its jockey is playing dirty. Kiroranke will not allow this and rides his horse to victory, causing a major upset! Oh Shiraishi, you lost it all. Now keep dreaming in the bundle of money you’re swimming in. Hijikata sees Ogata. The latter offers to be his bodyguard. Before Sugimoto and co depart for Abashiri, Shiraishi tells that juicy bit from Ienaga. She relates a thief who stayed at her hotel told her about a house full of taxidermy skins. He saw one with strange tattoos that didn’t resemble a yakuza. That house is in Yuubari. The Abashiri plan may not work so it’s also best to have another plan like gathering info on other prisoners or tattoos. Meanwhile Tsurumi and his men are also at Yuubari. They spread false rumours and are waiting at the grave so a grave digger could show up. He did but ran away after realizing he is being watched. His men go after him while Tsurumi picks up his dropped items.

In the small town of Barato, 2 opposing small gangs are fighting each other. Hijikata and Nagakura are hired by the mistress of Hidoro gang to be their bodyguards. You see, they only take up the job because Mrs Hidoro has got a prized tattooed skin that they want. Meanwhile Ogata is also here and the chief of the place warns him if he sides with Hidoro, he is done for. Too bad Ogata beats him up and Umakichi is interested in hiring him. The plan is to kidnap the pregnant mistress, Chieko and hold her hostage until the skin is handed over. Shinpei, Mrs Hidoro’s son fears she will not hand over the skin. Plus, Chieko is pregnant with his child and not the boss’! Once this is over, he hopes to get away from here with Chieko and start a new life. Hijikata starts by killing some of Hidoro’s men. He sends out word that it is done by Umakichi’s men. So when Ogata and Umakichi arrive at the scene, Umakichi fears he will be blamed but Ogata can tell the bullets left behind are from Hijikata. Soon an exchange will be made. Both sides lie in wait, ready to ambush each other. Mrs Hidoro throws down the box containing the skin for Chieko. However her plan is when Umakichi’s man is going to check it, she will shoot him and thus a signal for her men to attack. However Ogata snipes at Chieko! It is revealed that Nagakura is masquerading as the pregnant mistress. With the box laid out in the open, it is tough for anybody to go near because either Ogata will snipe you or Hijikata will cut you down.

So it becomes a bloody war between both sides. Hijikata is concerned in taking out Ogata who is sniping from the high ground so he leads some of Hidoro’s men closer and to surround him. Ogata has been thinking too much of why a greedy Mrs Hidoro won’t take the box and instead returned to her burning lodge. He realizes he is surrounding by Hijikata’s force and tries to flee but gets shot in the shoulder. When Umakichi and his men try to claim the box, Nagakura kills them all! It is discovered the box is empty. Hidoro finds out Chieko is not pregnant with his child but Shinpei’s. Mrs Hidoro insults him that she knows he is infertile. After Mrs Hidoro retrieves the skin and badmouths Shinpei for being weak, Hidoro then bludgeons her to death. Shinpei vows to rebuild his life better than him and before Hidoro could kill him, Ogata snipes the big boss. In the aftermath, looks like everybody on both sides died and left a trail of corpses. Only Shinpei and Chieko survive as they split from this town. Hijikata and Nagakura arrive at the lodge only to see Ogata with the skin. He offers them to hire his service as a bodyguard. Elsewhere, over on Sugimoto’s side, we see him trying to catch some eagle. After Asirpa kills it, she is almost taken away by some big legendary vulture bird! Not really sure about this legend…

There Is Gold On Them Thar Skins
I knew it! It can’t just end like that, can it?! This series is going to have another season! Hooray! Hinna, hinna. I don’t have to wait long for it since they are taking a one cour break. Hinna, hinna. My hunch was telling me that this series is going to have a lot of unfinished business when it reached the halfway mark. Because there was so much things going on and at the rate at this is going, it is definitely impossible to end it or even in worst case scenario, make it a very rushed ending. Heck, the last episode felt like a filler because WTF, horse racing and gambling? It’s like they’re wasting time, know what I’m saying? One season wasn’t definitely enough to tell everything. It would be tad sad had this series ended so without any possibilities of a sequel due to all the potential developments that are slowly unravelling at an interesting pace. But looks like I don’t have to worry about that possibility since it is going to happen.

I have to give credit to my guts for telling me to stay and watch this anime because ever since I started watching this series, my attention has never wavered and my eyes glued to the screen. Maybe the occasional distraction when things get slow but overall, everything has been downright interesting and intriguing. Right down from the plot to the characters. The intrigue is fascinating enough for me to think what more is in store for the characters and what kind of bizarre plots are going to be laid out for all of them. Sometimes I lose track of time watching this series that I only realized time has flown by when the ending credits showed up. Even so, I can’t help crave and be impatient to watch the next episode.

While the general plot may be about various characters trying to get their hands on the elusive and mysterious gold, some characters are not driven by this gold rush and have different agendas of their own such as Nihei and Henmi. Sometimes I feel like those episodes are like fillers but short of being standalones. But in the bigger picture, I suppose that such characters and side plots are eventually needed and necessary because they’re going to need all 24 tattooed prisoners for them to put together the map. Who knows how many have died and are still alive.

As for the main characters, it is interesting to see the dynamics between Sugimoto and Asirpa. A tough hardened soldier who seems to have the devil’s luck in surviving the impossible and a young Ainu girl who has the skills of surviving the wild. They may look like a mismatch and an odd pair but you can tell right from the start that they complement each other. Not because the series’ promotional poster tells you so. So it is great to see them rely on each other, trusting each other as partners despite coming from different backgrounds as they work together for a common goal while remaining as they are.

One of the oddest moments that I tend to notice is if Sugimoto and Asirpa aren’t in the plot to hunt down the next tattooed prisoner, they are mostly surviving in the wild and trying to hunt for their next meal. Sometimes this makes it look like I am watching the Discovery Channel or National Geographic! Just without the narration. Hence from time to time when I see them prepare their traps or cooking their meat from the hunt, I also start thinking if I am watching an educational documentary programme. Who is up for some deer meat?

Is it me or do I start noticing that lately Asirpa has become more of a joker character. I thought Shiraishi was enough to fit this comical role himself but I have a feeling that Asirpa is almost becoming one but short of being a manzai comedy partner for Shiraishi. From her distrust of eating ‘poop’-like food and most recently looking up to Ushiyama as her Dick-sensei (?!), wait a minute, has she been influenced too much by modern Japanese?! I know, she is still a young girl and probably naïve and innocent to the so called Japanese culture. I believe her Ainu roots are still strong and she is just influenced for the moment. I hope. But sometimes comical notion to break the tension might seem a bit out of place because the moment is serious and then this. Like, huh?

I hope next season brings in more exposure and development to the other characters. Namely the other rivals of Sugimoto in this gold rush like Hijikata-Ushiyama combo, mad Tsurumi and his 7th Division, rogue ones like the traitorous Ogata and who knows other parties or individuals that have not showed up at this point and have yet to surprise us. Maybe like those damn Americans too are secretly in on this! This season sets these characters’ goals and motivations for wanting the gold and hence a little bit messy when this season shows bits and parts of these different camps. There will be one point where all of them will converge and slug it out in one big battle royale.

My only question is if Tanigaki is still in on this hunt or has he decided to live the rest of his life as an Ainu. After all, he wasn’t in on the gold in the very first place and wanted Retar’s fur. Speaking of which, Retar sometimes feel like plot convenience because it pops out of nowhere to save Asirpa. And then for some reason there is his family pack and because they don’t want to endanger the endangered species anymore (wolves are officially extinct in Japan but you might never know. They’re breeding underground away from our prying eyes…), Retar is not heard again. Like as though, uhm, it’s no more useful for the plot so it’s tossed aside. For now.

I believe this isn’t the first anime that puts the Ainu tribe in the limelight. Shows like Princess Mononoke based their characters on this. I thought it was my first exposure in anime watching the Ainu people but apparently in past retro animes like Shaman King and Samurai Champloo, they have characters from the Ainu tribe but I never realized that they were. My memories don’t serve me so well here but I don’t remember them being really given as much focus or prominence as this series. Since I know nothing about the Ainu tribe except that they are the true natives of Japan, everything they do feels fascinating and interesting. Probably it is their respect for the land and being able to live off the land in their simplistic ways that charms me (despite I have no interests whatsoever to turn to that kind of life – yeah, can’t live without internet!).

I don’t want to offend anyone but being an agnostic person myself, hearing people talk about their beliefs in higher being and gods sometimes feel like one big fairytale (that’s a nicer way of saying nonsense). I’m not disrespecting their culture or anybody’s culture about their beliefs in such beings but it’s just that we understand so little about ourselves and having this as the base of logic for me isn’t my cup of tea. You’re free to believe what you want but I’ll still listen to those godly and supernatural stories. Back to the Ainu prominence thingy, I believe this series just showcases part of the Ainu’s culture and tribe, their way of life and beliefs. You can even learn a few Ainu words from here too. Hinna, hinna. Though it sounds foreign to Japanese, if I’m not concentrating on how they speak, it sounds Japanese enough… O_O

But I just got to ask in the event if the gold is returned to the Ainu, so what of it? Like I have said that the Ainu has continued to live in a simple and respectful way, do they really need the gold? I mean, somebody in the future might come up with this bright idea of stealing from them again, right? It is not like returning the gold to Ainu would bring back their glory days or appease the gods. Would it? I don’t think they would really need the gold and safeguarding it from future greedy bastards would do more harm than good. So it’s best to leave the mad corrupted men to kill themselves over it, don’t you think?

The action parts are also one of the most interesting draws of this series. In many fights, you can bet that it is going to be bloody so it is definitely for the faint hearted. Even if those blood drops and blood spills are 2D animated. As the fights are mostly no holds barred and ultimately it is kill or be killed, the fight for survival is often exhilarating with the characters having different ways to fight like Hijikata with his sword, Ushiyama with his fists and raw brute force, Tsurumi with his pistol, Ogata and his sniping and Sugimoto whatever means he needs to stay alive. Don’t worry, he is immortal, right?

While the art and animation look pretty okay and average, but there are a few things that I want to bring up. Firstly, the horrible CGI bear animation!!! It is so obviously horribly rendered, you wonder if the production was using an outdated software or they had underpaid interns designing it. If they used normal 2D hand drawn techniques, it wouldn’t look so bad but this was really bad. I am not sure if they want the bear to look like some god being or something because imagining it in 2D form might not make it look as ferocious as it is bad when it is in 3D. Retar is mostly animated in 2D but sometimes in CGI format too but it is less obvious thanks to its white fur and the white snow surroundings so it does not stand out pretty badly like the bear.

Another art style I want to bring about is the look on Asirpa’s face when she is displeased. I know it is for comical purpose but the way they draw her meme or derp face makes her look weird. Really. It’s like suddenly Asirpa has aged into a granny or something. Uh huh. At least I know what Asirpa looks like if she lives to a ripe old age. But seriously that kind of derp face drawing, it either makes you laugh and go WTF or give you nightmares. Throughout the years, anime has this distinct art style that immediately lets everyone know it is anime. So characters from all nationalities usually have this anime look. So while they want to differentiate how the Ainu looks like, I can’t help feel that many of them looks very cartoonish. Thick cartoony eyebrows, thick cartoony beard and just cartoony overall. Except Asirpa of course. Nice blue anime eyes… Oh right, her dad is said to be not of Ainu origin. Damn loophole…

But other than the Ainu people looking funny, I find that some of the characters also to look a bit odd. How should I put it? They have this eyes of a dead fish. This is mostly characters from the 7th Division like Tsurumi, Ogata and Nikaidou just to name a few. Looking at them gives this feeling like as though they’re emotionless and dead even if they’re being crazy, mad or showing other emotions. Starring at those eyes too long might make you go crazy. Luckily I didn’t. But just to be safe… Essentially, many of the characters may look bland and dull but at the same time weird. For instance, Ushiyama. You can’t help notice that ‘fish cake’ stuck onto his forehead and it makes you curious to want to try and pry it out of his head. Don’t do it, Asirpa… As for the backgrounds and sceneries, it’s mostly the cold and freezing rigid snow of Hokkaido. Be careful, you might get snow blindness starring too much at all the whiteness… This series is animated by a new anime company, Geno Studio who started off with Kokkoku before helming this one.

Voice acting is pretty decent with recognizable talents including Jouji Nakata as Hijikata, Hochu Ohtsuka as Tsurumi, Kenjiro Tsuda as Ogata, Akio Ohtsuka as Nihei and Sayaka Ohara as Ienaga. I was surprised to learn Tomokazu Sugita is behind Nikaidou’s voice. He might not sound like his usual in Gintama as he puts up a more sissy and derpy voice in this character. But upon closer hearing, yup it’s that guy. The other casts are Chikahiro Kobayashi as Sugimoto, Haruka Shiraishi as Asirpa (Kirie in Himouto! Umaru-chan), Kentarou Itou as Shiraishi (Renji in Bleach), Kenji Nomura as Ushiyama (Shishigou in Fate/Apocrypha), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Tanigaki (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin), Masaki Terasoma as Kiroranke (Kanbei in Samurai 7 – say, doesn’t this character look alike?), Takayuki Sugou as Nagakura (Wanyuudou in Jigoku Shoujo) and Toshihiko Seki as Henmi (Mousse in Ranma 1/2). Remember what I said about the Ainu language sound like Japanese when I’m not concentrating? Well, they didn’t hire any real Ainu to voice the roles of the Ainu characters. Enough practice and you probably sound like one. So like Asirpa’s grandma is voiced by a true blue born and bred Japanese, Miyuki Ichijou.

Of course I’m not going to leave out my favourite Mamiko Noto who has a cameo here as Inkarmat! Hah. You thought I forgot to put her name down when I mentioned recognizable talents and would surely put down her name first. Surprise, surprise. While she is splendid as usual voicing the mysterious Inkarmat, something bugs me as I wonder if for this particular season she is taking on character roles who make their debut in the final episode. Because in that same season she did the same for Mahou Shoujo Site as well as Comic Girls (though technically there was an earlier episode she just said a word). Like as though it’s a sign that tells us she’s still not done yet and in the least unexpected final moments, there she is. Like as though the producers really know how to make my day and slip in this goddess and make my heart skip a beat. Okay, skipped several beats.

Hearing the opening theme, Winding Road by Man With A Mission, it sounded very much like an American rock piece. Probably because more than half of its lyrics are in English and the way the lead singer’s voice, it sounded like at least a Caucasian. Alas they are just your Japanese rock band. But the song itself isn’t too shabby and not bad. In some ways, this song somewhat reminds me of that insert song in another anime series, The Reflection, Sky Show. But ultimately this one sounds better. The ending theme is also another rock outfit, Hibana by The Sixth Lie but this one sounds heavy on the bass lines.

Overall, this series is very interesting and I am glad to have watched it. They didn’t betray me by giving it a sequel. Hinna, hinna. Its plot might sound generic and the characters as well on a broad level but the pacing and development of the story and the characters will compel and captivate your interests. At least for me. Therefore this is one of the better series of the season that I truly enjoyed despite some of its less than stellar flaws and incredulous moments that makes no sense like that orca scene or even moments to just give some mini shock value and WTF factor like Henmi’s glowing boner. Yeah… Otherwise it is overall a great series. This season leaves up to its title of being golden in many ways and hopefully it would achieve greater heights in the next season. Uhm, Platinum Kamuy, anyone? Hinna, hinna…


April 30, 2017

Initially I was going to give Drifters the skip seeing that this is an alternate history or that kind of sort (no, it wasn’t about that old American doo-wop group). But then my guts start tingling like a spider sense so I went back to read again the synopsis. After gathering a few more information about it, I’m glad my guts were right because it does sound interesting because how badass can you get when you have a bunch of famous real characters from history converging in an alternate world to fight for the survival or destruction of that world! Wow. That has got to be very cool. Even better, it isn’t anything like Nobunaga The Fool despite the same concept of bringing together a bunch of famous historical personalities. So if you want to see a death battle between Napoleon Bonaparte and Julius Caesar, this series is somewhat it. Okay, Napoleon and Julius Caesar didn’t really appear here but you catch my drift (pun intended). Even if this isn’t meant to be historical accurate and only uses personalities from history, but I guess it beats using the same ol’ formula of gender bender Nobunaga. Yeah… By the way, he is in here. As a man. Phew!

Episode 1
Toyohisa Shimazu is cutting through the enemies in the bloody Battle of Sekigahara. When his uncle wants them to retreat back to Satsuma, Toyohisa wants to stay back and but time for him to escape because as long as he returns to Satsuma, they will win this battle. Toyohisa and his side fight off the advancing Ii clan. It seemed like Toyohisa is reckless as he gets pierced by all the guards in his bid to reach the boss, Naomasa. But he has a trick up his sleeve as he pulls out a gun and fires at him. With Naomasa down, the enemy retreats. However Toyohisa is not happy because he wants to take his head back. As he limps away, he suddenly finds himself in a strange endless white room with many strange doors and a strange man, Murasaki who looks like a typical government officer. When Murasaki writes a note, Toyohisa gets absorbed into a door. It is a strange fantasy world but Toyohisa thinks he is in hell since before him are 2 elves. Recognizing his weird language, they realize he is a Drifter. They take him to an abandoned castle where a couple of Drifters are taking refuge and quickly leave as they fear their master might find out they come into contact with them. Toyohisa wakes up and quickly draws his sword at the guy before him. He cannot believe this dude is Nobunaga Oda. He is already dead for 18 years (Nobunaga feels it has only been months here). Either he is a ghost or a lunatic pretending to be him. Making it even more unbelievable is the other guy, Yoichi Suketaka Nasu who is supposed to be dead for 400 years during the Genpei War! Yoichi stops their bickering and makes them pluck bird feathers?! They get to know each other and the only similarity is that they met a strange guy in a strange room with doors before coming here. Of course Toyohisa being the ‘youngest’, they haven’t heard of his name or clan whatsoever. Nobunaga is shocked to hear in his time how his clan and country has fallen into civil war. All his family members are dead or became unknowns. Even his son as he learns has died during the battle. A sad and bitter pill to swallow. He feels everything he did for 50 years was in vain. Spying on them is Olminu who works under the head of Octobrist, Abe No Haruakira. He feels the need to do something or else the world will be destroyed.

Episode 2
Another of Haruakira’s subordinate is keeping a close eye on another couple of Drifters. Old men fighting in the desert over stolen tactics? Scipio Africanus versus Hannibal Barca. Which old dude will win the knockout punch? Toyohisa and co wake up in the middle of the night. They smell fire. A village beyond the forest is being burnt down. After Nobunaga explains the elves live there, Toyohisa immediately bolts ahead. The 2 elves that saved him are about to be cut into half but here comes Toyohisa slicing them instead. Noticing the enemy is well equipped, they cannot be bandits but soldiers of a lord’s force. They decide to claim the village. All the elves are rounded up by Aram and his knights. He is accusing them of entering the forest and associating with Drifters, which is a serious crime for them. He reminds them the administration of Drifters fall under those magicians in Octobrist. The elves argue the unreasonable demand of staying out of the forest because that is where they gather fire wood and hunt. Aram tells them to blame their ancestors for losing the war. One day all demihumans like them will be wiped out. Then he kills half of them! A soldier reports the wheat field is on fire. Aram is worried since this is where his tax money comes from. This fire was set by Nobunaga in his bid to capture this village. Toyohisa jumps in and decapitates all the soldiers before facing off with Aram who is cocky he will kill this bastard. Toyohisa is enraged seeing slaughtered bodies of elves, he is going to take more than his head. He will take his life. Toyohisa throws his sword at him as distraction and then goes up close to him to grapple him to the ground. He takes his hilt and pounds on his head mercilessly. After a while he stops. He gives a sword to an elf and tells him to kill Aram. Take revenge! At first they are hesitant but with hatred burning inside, all of them pick up the weapons and stab Aram to death. Feel good, right? All the fleeing soldiers are killed off by Yoichi. The elves now bow down to their new master and saviour, Toyohisa. Meanwhile Murasaki is being confronted by Easy who mocks him no matter how many Drifters he send, they cannot beat her Ends. He doesn’t give a f*ck about her so she ups the ante by starting the invasion.

Episode 3
Haruakira and his Octobrist are helping to keep guard on the city’s wall defence. However the guards are confident the walls have never been broken through. Haruakira knows they will lose at this rate so he seeks permission to let Scipio and Hannibal take command. Of course they won’t allow it and making it worse, Hannibal’s bladder problems has him wetting his pants. They laugh at the old man but Scipio stands up for him. Though, they might not understand what he is talking. When magic stops working, Haruakira realizes the Black King, the leader of Ends and his army are here. Hordes of monster soldiers and dragon reinforcements too. How you all gonna fight that?! But it looks like the Black King also has a few historical figures on his side. Toshizou Hijikata, Joan d’Arc, Gilles de Rais and Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova. However Kurou Hougan Yoshitsune is the unpredictable one. Despite being on the Black King’s side, he is neither a Drifter nor End. He will take whichever side that interests him. The invasion begins and in no time the walls fall. Not laughing this time, aren’t we? Haruakira thinks the city cannot be saved but must let the Drifters escape. Suddenly a door appears from the sky and out comes from it is a Zero fighter plane piloted by Captain Naoshi Kanno. This guy is in a bad mood and perhaps going to lose and now he is in an unknown land with flying dragons? But when he sees the city burning down and the people being slaughtered, it reminds him of his own similar circumstances. He now knows who the enemy is. Haruakira takes the old guys to meet up with the other Drifters, Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid. He seeks for advice if they can win and since Hannibal says the chances aren’t zero, Haruakira gets his confidence back that if they team up with those Japanese Drifters, they can still win this. They escape the burning city with the cowboys giving them the ride of their lives. Their sharp shooting skills can take out the infantry but what about the dragons? Naoshi is gunning them down like nobody’s business. Haruaki is glad he is a Drifter. After the city has fallen, the Black King orders his army to find and exterminate all Drifters in his bid to eliminate mankind. Meanwhile Olminu is being discovered by Toyohisa and co. She fears they will kill her so she explains everything. People like them from another world are called Drifters and are being monitored and gathered by Octobrist to fight against Ends. However the trio don’t care and are not interested at all.

Episode 4
Olminu continues her explanation. She doesn’t think they are Ends because these heartless people are inhumane and only seek the destruction of mankind. Nobunaga asks if Octobrist has any army but it seems they are borrowing them from lords and kings. That is why they need Drifters to tip the balance. Nobunaga laughs at this approach because in feudalism, which lord will give up his entire army to others. He proposes that Octobrist not be the head but instead they will be leaders in their campaign conquest in which Octobrist will play a supporting role. Oh, Toyohisa will be their leader. Why him? Because he saved the elves, right? Grigori Rasputin reports the casualties to the Black King. He will heal his brethren who are injured. He explains he once tried to save mankind but they rejected him. Now he has no choice but to save demihumans and annihilate humans. The elves are discussing their next course of action because they know their master will not stand for this. Olminu has a charm that would have them speak fluently in their language. Poor Yoichi. He tried so hard to learn their language… Olminu explains elves were defeated by humans 40 years ago and were subjugated to become as serfs. Nobunaga wants Toyohisa to rally them. Will they continue to live in humiliation of their ancestors and children? They don’t want to be slaves anymore so it is decided that they’ll take back their land. Toyohisa thinks Nobunaga is letting him take command because he is substituting him as his dead son. He tells him he is not his son. He died. Heart breaking for an old man but he hits back at Toyohisa that he isn’t his dad too because he must have died a long time ago. Then they start arguing and fighting before the elves break them up because the troops are closing in. Olminu adds that this land once belonged to the elves. The human kingdom of Orte has also been expanding its territories by subjugating other demihumans throughout the years. Nobunaga knows that Orte will send its troop to slaughter everyone as lesson and warning to others. What is Toyohisa planning to do? They’ll let them in alright. When the troops arrive, they find no one around. It seems they are hiding in the forest and Toyohisa can’t wait to kill them all tonight.

Episode 5
The village’s wells are filled with faeces and there is no drinking water. The elves are crafting bows and arrows since they have a natural talent as archers. The dead soldiers were decapitated. Although their heads were given a proper burial, their bodies are tossed in a pit filled with more faeces and urine. To them it is the same thing as being buried but only making the process faster. Toyohisa rallies the elves to fight back and then storm the enemy base to take back their women who have been held captive. Nobunaga notices Toyohisa’s flare as a warlord instead of a ruler because he impels people to fight. The night siege on the village begins. The guards are taken by surprise. While Toyohisa singlehandedly slices them, Nobunaga guides the elves as they quickly create a mini barricade. They then lace their arrows with faeces and fire. It seems the medical advances of this world is primitive because they don’t have any proper disinfection for tetanus. Nobunaga observes the poor skills and low morale of these third rate soldiers. They don’t have to kill all of them. Just kill 10% or 20% and they will lose morale and scatter. After Toyohisa takes the head of the commander, the troops flee. The elves rejoice in their victory but Toyohisa says it is not over yet till they storm their main base. But Nobunaga chides him he doesn’t even have a plan for that. The fleeing soldiers fall into pits filled with spikes and faeces. If they don’t, Yoichi and the other elves will take them out. This tactic seems to be very familiar to Yoshitsune who once told Yoichi there is no fairness in wars. The commanders at the main base are worried that the soldiers have not returned. They fear an uprising and this would lead to other demihumans taking action. They may need to destroy a few villages to show who is boss and at worse, hang the women. They are delighted when the troops return. However Nobunaga and the elves are disguised in their armour and they have already entered in. Toyohisa leads the elves to the tower where the elven women are held. Some soldiers throw down their weapons and surrender. Toyohisa tells the elves not to kill such because it will be a disgrace. Whether you kill an enemy depends on their actions. When they enter the tower, they see all the elven women being tortured and raped. No more Mr Nice Guy for Toyohisa. All of them will die. I guess surrendering now isn’t an option, huh?

Episode 6
As Nobunaga ransacks the place, he finds a large portrait. Olminu explains this is the father of Orte who founded the kingdom 60 years ago. Doesn’t he look like Adolf Hitler? Out of nowhere he rallied humans to fight. But after Orte was founded he committed suicide. The reason remains unknown. When Nobunaga learns Toyohisa has rounded up the soldiers and are about to give orders to the elves to kill them all, he knocks him out real hard. Then Nobunaga gives the order himself to execute them. It seems he doesn’t want Toyohisa to do such twisted jobs. That’s a job for him. The elves kill everyone except for one guy who kept claiming he is a newbie who just got transferred here and did not sleep with any women. They feel killing him would make them no different. When the elven females return to their respective village, Nobunaga also sent a propaganda memo there to make them rise up and revolt. The domino effect has the elves slowly breaking away from Orte’s subjugation. The Orte council is discussing their next action when this gay guy, Count Saint-Germi barges in to give his opinion. He owns a quarter of Orte and it is believed the kingdom could not have existed had he not ‘betrayed’. He tells everyone their supply route has already been cut as their fleet has been seized and sunk by Shylock Co of the Gu Binnen Guild. This guy gets his war tactics from a Drifter, a Japanese naval admiral Tamon Yamaguchi. Saint-Germi also knows that the elves have revolt and this would lead to other demihumans doing the same. He realizes this kingdom is doomed. He decides to go contact the elves. Nobunaga is mad that Toyohisa decided a village head council system for the elves when he could be king for them. His reason is that he knows one day the elves will turn against them. But Nobunaga vows not to stop until he achieves his dream of making Toyohisa as king. Nobunaga has the elves gather more faeces to make bombs. They must be thinking this guy loves sh*t. As elves cannot replicate making guns, the only race who can do it as expert blacksmiths are dwarves. That night, the Drifters have an eerie feeling that something is coming after them. They know it isn’t Orte and something more powerful. It’s Joan and Gilles.

Episode 7
Joan and Gilles burn down trees and kill some elves in a bid to lure out the Drifters. It’s time for an epic fight between Drifters and Ends. Toyohisa takes on Joan while Yoichi faces off with Gilles. Nobunaga and the elves hide in the forest and easily take care of the cavalry with simple traps and high grounds. Olminu uses her ground wall to save Toyohisa from Joan’s flames. She is shocked that he kneels and gives her a proper gratitude because there might not be a next time. Mistaking Joan to be a man, Toyohisa returns to fight her. He can tell that she is showing off her flame magic like as though she wants the world to know she can do this. This means she is a rookie in fighting and it will be easy for him to kill her. Joan is puzzled that Toyohisa trapped himself around her flames. When Toyohisa gives the signal, Olminu uses her ground wall spell to propel him towards her. Olminu is confused because this life risking ways just to take the enemy’s head is what Ends are. Toyohisa pushes Joan into the well. It seems water is what she was seeking. She was burnt at the stake as a witch despite fighting for her people and country. When the people abandoned her, Easy popped up to save her. When Toyohisa realizes Joan is a woman, he loses his motivation to cut her head. He tells her to go home and do women-like things. He can’t be satisfied with this and might have to take Gilles’ head. This makes her upset but he doesn’t care or even heard about France or Christ and knocks her out. Yoichi is baffled despite shooting multiple times into Gilles’ vital points, he cannot die! Even taking out his eyes, Gilles is still moving! When Yoichi gets in a bind, Nobunaga can’t let him die and orders the elves to fire all they’ve got. No effect on that monster! At the right moment, Haruakira’s cavalry arrive as Butch fires his rounds into Gilles. Even being shot to pieces he is still moving! When Gilles realizes Joan has gone, he tells us his reason of unfinished journey. The Maiden couldn’t go to heaven and thus he decided to defile himself to go to hell and join her. However he ended up in this world with her. But now she is no longer the Maiden and will definitely go to hell, Gilles disintegrate himself to reach hell first. Phew. End of the monster. Haruakira introduces himself to Nobunaga as the man who hates Ends who should not exist in this world and tasked with supporting Drifters.

Episode 8
Yoichi hears Yoshitsune mocking him for the way he fights. Yoichi will not follow his orders anymore so Yoshitsune tells him to do as he please. The next time they meet will be more interesting. When Haruakira learns Toyohisa didn’t kill Joan, he isn’t happy. Joan has escaped. Toyohisa’s policy will not have him take the head of a woman. Haruakira argues gender is irrelevant as he is part of Ends but Toyohisa screws his rules. He follows his own rules as they are humans. They will not be pawns to be manipulated by Murasaki. When Nobunaga sees Hannibal, he is in a state of dementia and quickly deteriorating. During the run from the Black King’s army, Scipio fell off. They couldn’t go back to find him because of the relentless attack. Don’t worry, that guy is still alive as he is trekking through the dense forest till he sees a crashed Zero plane. Naoshi has tamed all those demihuman dogs under his command. Nobody beats this guy’s anger. Both humans butt heads but when Naoshi learns he is from Rome, they quickly become friends. Because the Axis tripartite pact. But he changes his mind and beats him up. Italy sucks, right? Nobunaga is fascinated with bullets as Butch explains this to him. However their guns are now useless since they have ran out of them. Nobunaga believes such weaponry can change the tide of the battle and do mass annihilation. He claims he can make those black powder needed for bullets. He has Olminu get sulphur from those sh*t. Yeah, it stinks. Now he needs the dwarves’ blacksmithing skills. Haruakira notes Nobunaga is a dangerous man. Ends might have the same goal of world destruction but Drifters have different goals. This makes them unpredictable. He believes Orte’s founder was also a Drifter. He tried to unite mankind but it ended up with a large endless war erupting.

Nobunaga continues explaining his plan to liberate those oppressed under Orte and forming an alliance to take Orte down. They will unite all tribes and establish a multi-racial federation where each race has the right to self-govern although they will keep the military power and Toyohisa as the commander. Although this will lead to military rule, it is way better than Orte or being destroyed by Ends. But why make Toyohisa the king? Nobunaga feels he doesn’t have what it takes for it. He thought profits and fear would be the controlling factor but the hearts of men don’t work like that. When he was betrayed, the first person he suspected was his son. Yet he died. Therefore Toyohisa who doesn’t care about gain or loss, fear or intimidation is the right person for the job. Since he is a fool, he needs an assistant, which is where Nobunaga comes in. Toyohisa tests Hannibal’s senile by feigning an attack. His eyes are still sharp and Toyohisa likes it. They become great buddies. Toyohisa tells the elves he is going to liberate the dwarves. They are not happy because both races hate each other and never got along. Toyohisa’s answer is that only those who wants to fight should join him. He is just going out conquering. The elves realize in the previous war had they thrown away their silly grudges and worked together, they wouldn’t have become slaves. They decide to support Toyohisa and avoid repeating the mistakes their previous generation did. Haruakira and the cowboys decide to return to HQ to look for Scipio and investigate more about Ends. Kid lets Nobunaga keep his pistol and the gatling gun.

Episode 9
Gadolka is where the dwarves are held and the biggest armoury of Orte. If this falls, Orte is done for. Gadolka is under sieged with our Drifters and elves throwing bombs made out of sulphur and sh*t to scatter and confuse the enemy. But those are the small fries. The ones with heavy armours and weapons start streaming out. Surely they’re not going to fight them head on. Toyohisa cues Olminu to use her stone walls to trap them. Then the rest throw the bombs inside. No escape! Boom! Game over. But when the bridge to the main town closes, Nobunaga views this as a problem. Till Hannibal gives some hand signal that he suddenly knows what to do. With Olminu’s stone walls and Yoichi’s sharp archery skills, they create giant steps on the walls to climb up and over. They enter the building to free the dwarves. The elves see the devastated tortured state they are in. The elves felt lucky that their race was only made into serfs. The dwarves pleads for freedom and if they do so they can help fight. Toyohisa likes the dwarves’ spirit but seeing how malnourished they are, he stops the battle and has everyone cook and eat! Gather all the pots and any meat you can find! Slaughter the horses too! While the dwarves are eating, Toyohisa goes to warn the remaining soldiers holing up in the castle. He tells them to run now and he promise he won’t chase and kill them. Because if they don’t, the dwarves will come after them. Because there is not enough food and they’ll eat them! The soldiers agree to surrender. Toyohisa wants to know who the lord of this place is. The commander steps up. Toyohisa wants him to wait and prepare a ritual for him to disembowel his stomach. This is the only honourable thing to do after you lose. However he is scared and won’t do it. Toyohisa doesn’t see him fit as a leader and decapitates him immediately! The other soldiers run as Toyohisa tells Yoichi not to go after them. For now, let’s get back to eating. Meanwhile, an Octobrist and Doug spy along the northern walls. They see a huge dragon cavalry and the huge bronze dragon, one of the 6 great dragons who might have joined forces with the Black King. Even more shocking when they see the monsters doing farming. They note Haruakira was right. The Black King doesn’t wish for the world’s end but to become a saviour to the monsters who will take the place of humans.

Episode 10
The bronze dragon is going to eat the Black King for not knowing his place. However the Black King casts a curse on him that melts his skin! He gives the beast a chance to join his alliance. Fearful of his life, the bronze dragon agrees. Rasputin and Hijikata are discussing the Black King’s amazing resurrection power and even on inanimate objects like crops. So why make his troops do agriculture instead of creating eternal food for them? It’s because he is not God and doesn’t have eternal life. As per his request, Rasputin has done organizing a new symbol for their new religion and language (Roman alphabets?). The Black King plans to unite all races under one new religion and language and forge their own civilization in this world. Saint-Germi and his subordinates, Allister and Fulame arrive at the elves’ base. Mills (the ex-tax accountant for elven colonies) tells the elves to hide the young boys but the young girls are okay! Imagine Saint-Germi’s disappointment when he doesn’t find his paradise of young elven boys around. Mills tells him about Toyohisa and the rest going to free the dwarves and make firearms. The more the dwarves eat, the more buffed they become. Nobunaga shows the musket for them to make but they can’t understand why the need for such complex equipment if a bow and arrow is just as effective. Nobunaga is lost for words so Toyohisa explains about its roar and battle cry as well as how easy it is to train peasants to kill veteran soldiers. Joan has woke up back at the base and Anastasia is by her side. After learning Gilles is dead, she is filled with rage and wants revenge on that samurai but Anastasia declines her because she underestimated them. She will have to wait for another chance for her desire to come to pass.

The beast soldiers are tying down the bronze dragon who is pleading to the Black King to stop all this. However he tells him if he cannot walk beside them, he is just mere meat. It seems the Black King’s life is slowly chipping away. The dwarves amazingly recreate another musket. Nobunaga asks how many they can make at full force, he is amazed they can make about 10 in a day. One day! Suddenly Saint-Germi comes in. Too late Olminu trying to warn them this tranny is here. Saint-Germi considers himself a Drifter and even the father of Orte too (confirmed as Hitler). That’s because Hitler formed an efficient bureaucratic government, eliminated nepotism, centralized wealth and unified the people. Otherwise how could they have fought against other races? How do you think that is not an incredible work? Because Saint-Germi knows about them all, Nobunaga notes he is dangerous and cannot let their guard down. Saint-Germi is here to see if they are worthy to join forces with. In fact his subordinates are already testing out Toyohisa. I’m not sure why, but they were going great guns against Toyohisa until they saw Hannibal in which they fall weak on their knees. Do they have old men fetish? Clearly defeated. Saint-Germi introduces himself as a traitor as he plans to sell off Orte to them. Because when a country falls, it must fall in a proper way. He doesn’t like the idea of other countries invading Orte and then forcing them to surrender. So what must the Drifters do? Destroy Orte effectively with one blow while it still holds power.

Episode 11
Saint-Germi seems to be from many years in the future as he knows all about their history and outcome. When he offers to tell Toyohisa on what happened at Sekigahara, Toyohisa cuts him off and shocks him he already knows what happened. Nobunaga believes they can trust this tranny because they betray for profit instead of sentimental grudges. The gang now ride into Verlina, Orte’s capital. Saint-Germi summons the council members and tells them they are going to close down Orte. They will turn over a new leaf and work under their new leader, Toyohisa. Some object to it but some agree. But when one who agree doesn’t want a Drifter as a head, it is clear he is being manipulated by Rasputin. He explains the Black King has sent troops to take over Verlina. But the moment they barge into the room, Toyohisa decapitates them all! He ignores Rasputin and beats up the council being manipulated by him! Then he says their intention from the beginning is to fight and no conquering is done without shedding blood. This pisses off Rasputin as he ends his communication and discusses with Hijikata about the crazy Drifters. But the Black King interjects. If they cannot capture Verlina, change their plan. Aim for destruction instead of usurpation. Their objective is maximum chaos. His aim is to stop Drifters from taking the state but if it falls into their hands, cripple it. Nobunaga is upset that Saint-Germi’s best soldiers are only about 500 men. Topless muscular gay men!!! With the dwarves completing the guns, they are handed to them as they will play the musketeer role whom Nobunaga will lead. Yoichi will lead the elves in the archer division while Toyohisa will lead the dwarves to be foot soldiers. Their mission: Annihilate everyone! EVERYONE! When the Black King’s army arrives, Nobunaga starts with his musketeers firing. As this is the first time gun is used, its devastating effect and sound causes everyone to be in shock and awe. Nobunaga dislikes the slow reloading times but can’t rush his men. Yoichi’s side rain arrows down. After the second volley from the musketeers, the fear starts to sink into the enemy. Unable to move, this is where Toyohisa’s side comes in to hack all of them.

Episode 12
With chaos everywhere, Hijikata makes some changes to his plans and is going in himself. He then faces off with Toyohisa and it seems Hijikata has a deep grudge against the Shimazu clan. From Yoichi’s aerial watch, Nobunaga is worried that the enemies are dispersing in smaller units and setting fire randomly. He is in a dilemma to do the same to his troops because this would mean weakening his musketeers’ firepower and their lack of experience in the battlefield means nobody is qualified to lead smaller groups. However when Hannibal starts talking about crushing the grapes as he scatters and stomps them, this gives Nobunaga an idea. He realizes the enemy’s goal has not changed and wants everyone to regroup. He is glad Toyohisa is keeping Hijikata company because this means the enemy leader isn’t focusing on commanding his troops. Saint-Germi feels odd because it feels as though Ends’ goal is to conquer this state instead of annihilation. Could the Black King be somebody he knows? Hijikata is upset that Toyohisa is fooling around while fighting. Hey, there are no rules in war, right? Hijikata sends his Shinsengumi spirits to attack him but he slices them all. They can regenerate, though. As their swords finally clash, Toyohisa’s sword breaks. When the enemy troops enter the capitol building, this is part of Nobunaga’s plan to trap them and burn them all inside. It works like a charm since everywhere is laced with bombs. Those who try and escape will be met with point blank shots from the musketeers. Hijikata is further infuriated that Toyohisa is smiling despite taking damage. He is truly mad. It is this attitude why his Shinsengumi died and he hates the Shimazu clan for it. Even more infuriating is when Toyohisa mentions if he dies in this battle, his death will lay the future foundation for Nobunaga to pave way for victory. More madness when the dwarves come back him up with their gunfire. Toyohisa even stands in their line of fire! While Hijikata is in shock, Toyohisa runs up close to him and beats him up. This is when the Black King relays a message to him to withdraw. Hijikata insists he can still fight and has not lost but the Black King say because he has not lost, it is his victory. There is no victory beyond this. Now it descends into a punching brawl so a dragon trooper has to whisk Hijikata away, leaving both men somewhat disappointed and satisfied. Toyohisa collapses after it is over. Rasputin seeks the Black King’s forgiveness for this failure but he isn’t perturbed as he views this probing mission to be a success and were able to cripple Verlina. The Black King then speaks to Mitsuhide Akechi who in no doubt will join his force if he gets to kill Nobunaga.

History Revision
One quick sentence. This needs to have another season! Fast! I know it is announced right at the very end of the final episode but I can’t really wait for the next season to come! I NEED IT NOW!!! It’s only right since Toyohisa didn’t finish his fight with Hijikata. And what does it mean the second season will come in 20XX?! F*ck this teaser! Don’t tell me it’s 2099! I don’t have a time travelling machine! Heck, they’ve already got a decent preview of the next episode like always, as though they have already made the damn thing! Ah, I get it. They just want to choke us off after getting us addicted and feel the withdrawal symptoms. Oh well, I guess I have to be patient like everybody else. Yeah, we have to be thankful with hundreds and thousands of human years of history that enabled the creative stories involving the greatest historical personalities.

The story and plot are quite interesting to follow. Even if you aren’t a history fan, the mere mashing up of a few historical figures in an unknown world would still be an appealing idea worth checking out. After all, this series isn’t supposed to be taken too seriously itself either (because history is so boring that it turns almost everyone off, right?). So in between serious discussions and grim and sombre scenes, suddenly they crack into a joke or two. This is evident when you see the change in animation style. Uh huh. Characters go all chibi and funny especially Nobunaga whose hair seems to be spreading out like Medusa. After the jokes are done, it is back to all that seriousness again. Hence there is some kind of good balance between the action, drama and comical parts and the reason why the series captivated my attention from start to finish. But to some, the sudden insertion of comical parts may ruin the serious tone of the series. I’m fine with that. Hey, are you supposed to take this series seriously? Even Toyohisa doesn’t take his life too seriously.

But one of my greatest dilemmas for this series is the characters. While it is great to see a number of historical characters, deep down inside my greedy heart I was disappointed that I wanted to see more of them! And this is even myself complaining that there is lack of screen time and focus from some of the other characters such as Butch, Kid, Naoshi and Tamon! They make short appearances and then are somewhat forgotten because of how short this series is. Although they are shown in the ending credits montage, it doesn’t really amount to anything much. Just to let you know the producers haven’t forgotten about them. Thus if I were to get my wish to have more Drifters and Ends into the fray, this would have further dilute the importance of these people at least as far as this season is concerned. Thus such characters serve more as an introduction as we build up to later stories and perhaps more could appear along the way. But for now I have to contend with the ‘few’ here. Of course I can take heart that this is just the first season and with another one coming, I hope they will introduce more then.

A big chunk of this season focuses on Toyohisa and his Drifters group. Toyohisa is likeable as a main character despite his barbaric brutality is because of his no nonsense nature. In that sense he is honest and does not beat around the bush. He lives and upholds truly to his warrior code and way of life. He does not care about power, position and materialistic stuffs and does it because he wants to. To put it as Nobunaga describes him, he doesn’t read the situation or rather he doesn’t want to. If I was in this world, I would definitely want to follow him and make him my leader. He might be mad when he is fighting but if that is his way to keep things positive and realistic, so be it. Though, you might have to get used to his crazy fetish of cutting off enemy heads as trophy. It’s like his clan’s crazy sign of manliness. Nobunaga is also quite likeable because of his smooth and sarcastic talking. Many of his narrations about Toyohisa, the situation and everything else are interesting to hear and could draw inspiration. If Toyohisa is the brawns, Nobunaga is definitely the brains and he uses it to the utmost advantage. Among the main trio, Yoichi doesn’t seem to be that prominent. For now he is a great archer and is mostly relegated to roles (in battle) of finishing off remaining enemies that flee the battlefield. Of course with his relationship with Yoshitsune, it seems there are some potentials there but not in this season.

Sadly, the Octobrist feels forgotten towards the end of the series. I know they’ve gone off to do other important things behind the scenes but I thought they would play a main role as a force against Ends. That’s why I thought this series was too short to tell everything and give everyone their worth of screen time. And because the lack of female characters (at least from the Drifters’ side), the reason why we have busty Olminu as a supporting side character working with them. If she was living in today’s reality of political correctness, she would have sued Nobunaga for his constant harassment of mispronouncing her name all the time by adding tits and boobs to her name. So much so she just gave up retorting and correcting him. No, not a sign she has relented and accepted her new nickname! And there are times where Nobunaga casually gropes her boobs. Hey, he is the shogun and does anything he wants with his women! Speaking of Olminu, I think she is really the only real woman in the Drifters’ side. Because Yoichi looks effeminate and Saint-Germi and his subordinates as just too tranny. Scipio and Hannibal are like the odd married couple always arguing among each other (and sometimes backing up each other) but to see old men argue isn’t as much fun…

As interesting the Drifters are, those in Ends under the Black King are interesting too. While we may not know a whole lot of them and just part of the story, it is intriguing to see what the Black King really wants. Is it really to destroy humanity and unite the other races? What are his powers because if he is so damn powerful like God (which he isn’t), why can’t he just straight away kill all the Drifters instead of making slow progressions with his plans with Ends? Thus there is this mysterious side to him and Ends that I feel we have yet to see. Although Drifters are painted as the good guys, perhaps when we learn more about Ends, the lines will be blurred. It would be the biggest twist when we are no longer sure if we are to support Drifters or Ends.

The biggest mystery and puzzle to everything that has happened is of course the eternal rivalry between Murasaki and Easy. What are they doing this far and for what ends? It might sound serious when they throw in historical personalities to fight for the fate for the world but it call all turn out to be just a silly petty reason because someone at the other’s dessert. Yeah… Ultimate insult? Because for now it seems like Easy is the one trying to throw her weight around with her arrogance, egotism and supposed superiority but usually Murasaki would just play cool and ignore her, attending to his whatever desk job. Then it begs the question if this Drifters vs Ends are just one of the many challenges by them? Because there are so many doors and my conspiracy theory tells me that there might be many other similar worlds drenched in such battle royale setting.

One thing that puzzled me was the original language that the denizens of this world is speaking. For sure it wasn’t Japanese. I am not sure if this is merely gibberish or a new language concocted. The latter is more reasonable as I could hear some sort of structure in their sentences. But to actually create a new language just for this series? Doesn’t seem economical from my point of view. Trying to search online (with my lazy Google searching) didn’t yield any results. Because in some instances when Scipio and Hannibal start speaking in Latin, there will be a note on the screen to say so. But when the denizens speak it, surely it would not make sense that they are talking in Latin, right? Of course with the magic talisman, convenience of speaking our favourite Japanese is soon favoured with everybody and this language is close to forgotten.

The draw of this series is definitely its action parts. They are fast paced, they are gory, they are bloody and definitely not for the faint hearted. Very brutal. Ultra violent. It makes you want to play Mortal Kombat and perform a fatality on every win! So when you see a barbaric Toyohisa jump to action and start slaying and decapitating his enemies, be prepared to see blood shed like waterfall as well as limbs and heads flying more furious than a beat ‘em up video games. Nobunaga’s experience in war tactics also makes the battles entertaining to watch. So it isn’t all just mindless hack and slash from Toyohisa but some brains and planning from the devilish unifier of Japan himself. Though, I can’t say much about Yoichi’s archery because he is such a sharp shooter that every hit counts and we don’t really get to see everything as it happens so fast.

The art and drawing is a mix. Due to the brutality of scenes, sometimes they look gorgeous and fantastic while at other times they are just plain. Oh, some scenes are pretty dark so it is hard to see things. Then there is the comical parts which suddenly turns everyone into marshmallow stick people or chibi mode so if you’re not used to the flow of the series already, the very sudden difference in artwork can be jarring. But generally the characters have this realistic but unique look to them. Then there are times when the characters go into their evil scheming mode (especially Nobunaga). Their face will be all black except their white teeth and eyes. Personally, it makes them look like monsters. Even more so sometimes when their facial features go a bit off and this makes them look like demons/monsters too.

Now, I thought this series was done by the people who did Shingeki No Kyojin. Because some of the art and animation resembles very closely to the surrealism of that series. But Drifters is actually made by Hoods Drifters Studio. While this is technically the first anime made by them under this name, they did a few other series under the name Hoods Entertainment such as Seikon No Qwaser, Nazo No Kanojo X, Blazblue Alter Memory, Fantasista Doll and Kanojo Ga Flag Wo Oraretara. Another reason why I thought of Shingeki No Kyojin was because of Toyohisa’s uniform design that bears a close similarity. Doesn’t he look like a grownup and crazy version of Eren?

The voice acting is perfect. They do a good job in giving their character some convincing depths. There are quite a handful of recognizable seiyuus. Yuuichi Nakamura as Toyohisa is in familiar waters as a character full of angst but with some sort of accent. Then there are Tomokazu Sugita as Saint-Germi, Takahiro Sakurai as Haruakira, Daisuke Ono as Butch, Hiroki Yasumoto as Hijikata, Akira Ishida as Yoshitsune and Sho Hayami as Mitsuhide. For the rest, they are Naoya Uchida as Nobunaga (Endou in Kaiji), Mitsuki Saiga as Yoichi (Phantom in MAR), Shiho Kokido as Olminu (Miki in Sekkou Boys), Yutaka Aoyama as Hannibal (Yamada in To Be Hero), Hiroshi Yanaka as Scipio (Nobuhide in Nobunaga The Fool), Wataru Takagi as Kid (Genta in Detective Conan), Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Naoshi (Ban in Nanatsu No Taizai), Taiten Kusunoki as the Black King (Rock Bison in Tiger & Bunny), Masahiko Tanaka as Rasputin (Gojirou in Coppelion), Junko Minagawa as Joan (Ryouma in Prince Of Tennis), Junko Kitanishi as Anastasia (Shouko in Kuragehime), Kenji Nomura as Gilles (Largo in Senjou No Valkyria), Mitsuru Yamamoto as Murasaki (Ayame in Fruits Basket) and Kanae Itou as Easy (Ohana in Hanasaku Iroha). There are a lot more seiyuus to this but they are mainly as minor roles like the soldiers.

The rock based opening theme, Gospel Of The Throttle (Kyouhon Remix version) by Minutes Til Midnight is a suitable piece for this blood and gory series. Maon Kurosaki does the ending theme, Vermillion, another rock outfit which is of course befitting to the genre of this series. The ending theme for the final episode, Rurou No Zakura by Yasushi Ishii is more of a slow rock. There are also a few cool rock BGM pieces especially during the action scenes.

Overall, I am quite impressed with this series and I am pretty sure that personally I can call this an epic series though it may fall a bit tad short of being a masterpiece. Well, it is good to know that there are still a handful of good animes in between while I wait for the next epic season of Shingeki No Kyojin to come about. Hint, hint. Please no more delays, please? History could have been more interesting if it was this messed up but it is thanks to what really happened in history that allowed us to create such a messed up story. Here’s hoping Napoleon Bonaparte and Julius Caesar join in the fray next season.

Junketsu No Maria

October 4, 2015

Everyone who has read old fairytales would have been told countless times that witches are evil and ugly creatures who use their magic to create chaos. But do you know that there was a witch who loved peace instead and tried to put an end to the feuding humans? I don’t blame you. History and stories of the old has never recognized nor recorded this fact. Hah… At least that is what I think when I watched Junketsu No Maria. As ironic as it can get, our titular character is not only a witch that loves peace, she is also named after the holy mother and also share a similar trait: A virgin. Something that most devout of Christians would find an insult to. At least for those living at such dark ancient times. Although this anime does not intend to test, challenge or even ripple the waters of the Christian faith, there may be some elements that question about God’s role and the likes so it is best if you decide to check this series out (whether you are Christian or not), please have an open mind at all times. You know how religion is such a touchy subject these days.

Episode 1
France and England are at war during the Middle Ages. Anne and her mother trek through the woods to find the hut of Maria the witch to fetch medicine for her sick grandma, Martha. Anne is an innocent young girl and she speaks with honesty as she converses with the old witch. She is worried about her father who is selected to participate in the upcoming war. Maria could only promise to watch over him. Maria’s owl familiar, Artemis (now transformed into her sexy human female version) stumbles in to ruin the mood, revealing Maria as a young sexy witch instead. Maria is not amused since this ruins the cool first impression she wants to give. After Anne leaves, a young lad, Joseph now visits her. He is here to tell her that he is joining in the war, much to Maria’s dismay because she hates all that fighting. She calls him an idiot but you can’t blame that kid for never living in a time when peace reigns. Maybe Maria can make that happen. Maria knows that his superior knows he came to visit her and if questioned, tell the Church she manipulated him to gain their forgiveness. Touched by her kindness, he kisses her hand. Hope nothing smells funny. As dawn breaks, all the drafted French men (a motley crew of them – I wonder if they are even properly trained) start trekking to the designated war destination. Joseph and Anne’s father meet war veteran, Galfa. As the monk rallies to the men about God being on their side, blah, blah, blah, he gets hit by an arrow! So much of God’s divine protection. The war begins as the English rains down arrows on the French troops. Casualties are mounting and it gets worse for the French’s side as the English’s reinforcements arrive. Now how the hell are they going to win against knights in shining armour armed with lances on horses? No wonder Anne’s dad is already resigned to his fate, apologizing that he can’t keep his promise to Anne he will come back. Joseph then makes a plea of wanting to see Maria just once. A pot falls from the sky. Maria warns them to cease fighting and summons a dragon to send both sides scattering. Artemis noting Joseph happy, lectures Maria about being a virgin and this doesn’t give her the right to impose her ideals on others. It is ironic that all this chaos is caused by a witch who is the embodiment of Christian teachings: A pure, untainted virgin. I don’t know what Maria is ranting about some historical figure, a girl who was betrayed and burnt at the stake. She believes they’ll treat her as a maiden of patriotism or something. Because Maria won’t lose to the Church, she would gladly give up her virginity to anyone. Even a dog. Really? I wonder if she knows what she is saying because it sounded like she doesn’t know that ‘s’ word.

Episode 2
Artemis’ true form is a succubus so she starts seducing the English captain and probably he had a very good time so the next morning he orders his troops to withdraw from the battlefield. Some of the monks are not pleased that Maria is behind this doing but they have to admit they have been saved from the English’s attack. Anne goes to see Maria to thank her for bringing back her father. Maria isn’t happy that Joseph has got the guts to show his face but he is here to thank her for saving them. After they leave, Artemis complains her ‘painful ass’. Must be one hell of a night, eh? However she got every guy except one. Yup, that guy was gay! She thinks homosexuality is the in-thing now. She suggests Maria make a male familiar but she won’t. Is it because she has never seen a male anatomy? She takes up the challenge and turns another stray owl into a young boy, Priapos. However he lacks that male anatomy. Artemis cannot believe this and tries to force Maria to go see what a guy’s thing looks like. This is going to take a while… But first, Maria stops another war by summoning a Cyclops. Then, time to make Priapos do his first male succubus job. At first he thought he is going to seduce this pretty lady. Turns out to be a macho gay man! Oh sh*t! But that man doesn’t care as long as he can ‘stick it in’! Double sh*t! Artemis then throws Maria inside to solve her problem. Who wants to go first?! Maria busts out via riding a serpent. That is when she is hit by the light of Archangel Michael as warning.

As they head back, they notice Anne’s village being pillaged by soldiers turned bandits. Maria is disappointed of the people’s ugly hearts. She cannot let this slip as this is the first village who accepted her as a witch. Maria drops in and warns those bandits to get out. But as she uses her magic, Michael’s light strikes her. The light also temporary blinds the bandits. Maria is mad that God never do anything to help these people despite praying for salvation. That is why she is trying to help others. Michael tells her, there are other villages being pillaged right now. However Michael says this is the law of their world and that Maria is the one disrupting the flow. The villagers pick up the weapons ready to kill the bandits but Maria tells them to stop as they are no longer a threat. Michael warns they will be once they can see again. Everyone listens to Maria. Michael takes Maria away as she adds that people’s prayers are not requests or commands. These are concern of men and heaven does not meddle in it. That is why Maria is the one disrupting the flow of the world. Maria still believes if everyone followed her way, there won’t be fighting in the first place. Besides, she is a witch and doesn’t need any sermon from God. Maybe Maria got a little too confident to attack Michael but nothing happens. Michael gives Maria warning or would she rather ascend to heaven right now. Joseph and Anne are drawn by the light head over as Joseph fires his arrow at Michael for her to let go of Maria. The next one will be at her head.

Episode 3
Joseph is in shock to learn he just shot Michael. But he is forgiven since he didn’t know. They plead to Michael about Maria’s good deeds. But when told Maria will be punished, Joseph raises his arrow at her because they love Maria the witch. Isn’t it part of the Ten Commandments, love thy neighbour? The heavens start to light up and it is a sign that they have decided to grant Maria clemency. But with a condition that she is never to use magic in front of people. Also, the moment she loses her virginity, she will lose her powers. Michael summons Ezekiel as her representative to watch over her. Ezekiel can also take a form of a little owl but this only makes her an easy bully victim for Artemis and Priapos. Priapos is still frustrated he is lacking that guy thing and his libido is screaming to get it all out. Back to serious discussion, Maria asks Ezekiel to go stop the war because it will be okay if it is through Church’s power rather than a witch, right? That same answer of heaven only watches and never intervenes. Joseph has always wondered what a world of peace would be like and although it is unfortunate heaven can’t help, is it too much to ask for a sign or omen? He does not believe Maria’s actions are evil and worthy of divine punishment. Yet another war between English and France. Ezekiel keeps a close tab and warns Maria not to intervene. But once she confirms that Michael cannot always be watching her 24/7, when Ezekiel is not looking, she summons a monster cat to break up the fight! Ezekiel is appalled that she did it but hey, she didn’t see that, right? Maybe it just fell out of the sky.

Word of Maria’s doing goes around so Bernard the monk wants to have a word with her. Joseph brings Maria through the city as she is appalled to see a pig being judged and sentenced to death for trampling over others. They meet drunk Galfa who thinks Maria is his girlfriend and tells her to satisfy this kid. Maria meets Bernard alone. He is bewildered she shares the same name as their holy mother. Maria doesn’t remember how she got. She already knew herself as that. Bernard is willing to put a good work to the bishop if she confesses her sins. Her actions are unorthodox but she has followers and he can’t overlook the fact she calls herself a witch. Confession is the only way to go. But what’s in it for her? She’ll gain great love and a peaceful life. What’s in it for them? The Church doesn’t act out of self interest. They offer their hand to those who seek God’s love. Maria realizes she should not be hesitating. She is a witch and doesn’t give a damn about God or heaven. Send her regards to your other Maria. Bernard would like to request a confession for he has spoken to a witch. For now, he suggests letting Maria be and lending her aid to the villages. There is no need for drastic measure till she becomes a problem. Late that night, Maria is visited by a being known only as Cernunnos. It must be the umpteenth time Maria has been asked what she would like to achieve with her actions. Simple. She hates wars. And if she doesn’t like what is happening before her, she can’t let it go. Cernunnos tells her the harsh reality about pain and death. Living things inflict pain upon others before they die. When new life is born, the cycle repeats. Her efforts are futile. Well, you won’t know if you don’t try. But to Cernunnos, it looks like the same pattern is just repeating itself. He will watch her with great pleasure.

Episode 4
Rogue soldiers are trying to pilfer a village and rape its women. The villagers put up resistance but it is not enough. They’ve got guns! That is when a wyvern appears to scare them away. Yeah, thank Maria. Ezekiel has her eyes covered by Priapos! Can’t report what she can’t see, eh? It is no surprise Ezekiel is screaming her head off at Maria but she doesn’t give a damn as she is curious about the gun she found. Boom! Don’t let it frighten you. Maria is visited by an English witch, Viv. On behalf of the complaining guilds, she wants Maria to stay out of the war because there is gold to be made the longer it lasts. Viv even thinks of drafting Maria to be part of the team to earn money but when Maria says she isn’t doing this for the money but for peace, Viv chides her for being naïve. Without war, it is the reason why those soldiers tried to rob a village. Isn’t she just forcing her ideals on others? When Viv learns Maria is a virgin, she tries to persuade her about the thrills of sex. First time is painful but once you get passed that… Is Maria curious? Is Maria interested? She seems panicky. Ezekiel shutting her ears? Can it work? Viv wants to take her to find a man now but since Maria needs time to prepare her heart, watching will just do. Viv sees Priapos and thinks he is the perfect start. Imagine to her horror when she finds the missing goods. Disappointed? She wants Maria to finish this the next time she comes.

As Ezekiel is forced to deliver medicine to Martha with Priapos, they pass a nearby village that was ravaged by a plague. They get into an argument especially about Maria being selective on who to save. Why didn’t she save this village then? Oh, really? Why didn’t God? After they deliver the medicine to Martha, the old lady starts to speak of the fine days with Maria. However Ezekiel is not pleased. Despite Martha praying to God and yet she uses a witch’s medicine and thanks her? Martha tells a story that before Anne was born, a nearby village was being ravaged by an epidemic. Fearing it would spread here, they prayed to God day and night but it was Maria who came to their aid with medicine. Because of that, not a single person fell ill. Thanks to that, Anne was able to be conceived in this world. How can she not be thankful? Don’t get the wrong idea. Martha is still loyal to God but in this complicated world, one needs to keep an open mind. Maria visits the abandoned village and the truth is she wanted to help but the villagers chased her away and do not want help from a witch. They paid the price for their blind faith. Ezekiel wonders if Maria would become the next God if people desire her. Well, the best way is to ask her yourself. When Bernard receives news that the last survivor of that ravaged village has died, he wants his deeds to be remember because that is true faith. As there are rumours the forest around that area is related to Maria, he decides to send a message to the noble lord about an upcoming battle.

Episode 5
Bernard goes to see his uncle, Guillaume over Maria’s increasing influence. As she brings chaos to the battlefield, the king has no choice but to raise taxes for the war the longer it holds out. It is suggested that Maria only attacks the English side. Bernard has a friend that will keep them inform of England’s plan and will use a messenger to relay messages to Maria. Although this might seem to increase Maria’s reputation, but this is only because the people see her as a need during the war. Once peaceful time reigns, she will be no longer needed and forgotten. And then they will step in at the end to rid the English and ward off Maria. Joseph becomes the messenger to deliver messages to Maria although mostly feel like petty quarrels. As the French mercenaries under Yvain are getting paid in advance ahead of the war, his troops celebrate. But Galfa is caught with his pants down. He was too drunk and ended up bedding a knight’s lady, Eugenie. It is no surprise Jean de Drouant and his men beat him up but since this will affect both sides, Bernard suggests holding a duel to uphold the honour of both sides. What are the odds since Galfa has a broken arm? Joseph is worried that Galfa will die and he has dreams to achieve but Galfa tells him off that he might do anything to achieve his dream but this is what he has chosen to live his life. Dilemma ridden Joseph seeks Maria’s advice about his friend going to die and he is chosen to be the witness of the duel. He wants to know how she keeps her cool and resolve. Maria disagrees with that because the people she saves usually turn on themselves and there is no end to the conflicts each time she intervenes. The biggest puzzle is how to end the fighting for good but what is most important is that she decided on her own. So duel day comes. Looks very unfair. Jean on his horse in his armour and sword. What does Galfa have? That helmet and small shield won’t do him any good. Besides, his fellow mercenaries are mocking him to die fast since they bet against him. Jean like the noble knight he is decides to fight him at the same level. On his feet, without armour. But he won’t use only an arm, won’t he? The duel begins and it is definitely one sided. Galfa takes a beating while Maria is reduced to just watching, wondering if she should just intervene. When the fight is seemingly over and Jean is about to win, sly Galfa uses his broken arm (which actually isn’t) as he has hidden a metal shield there. He turns the tables on Jean and beats him up with his own sword! Bernard signals the end of the match to declare Galfa the winner. Was this all part of his plan? Galfa is now rich enough to repay Joseph. Jean killed himself as he couldn’t bear the humiliation of his peers mocking and Eugenie disappeared. Like Galfa cares.

Episode 6
Maria once again drives away the English by summoning her dragon and giant mermaid. She didn’t even bother hiding using her magic! But did Ezekiel really see her summon those? Joseph sees Galfa and brings him to his master, Guillaume who wants a word with him. Galfa explains why he shared his rewards with others from that duel. Bernard was listening and after confirming his faith in God, he hopes he could help save Maria and kill her if she continues her sinful ways. Joseph didn’t like what he hears and tries arguing about Maria saving many lives but Bernard silences him about his faith in believing in a witch. Plus, if Maria desires to end the war, the will be no more need of her when peace reigns. Joseph does not like his new mission one bit but he has to go deliver a message to Maria about the upcoming war at Normandy. Joseph brings Galfa to see Maria for himself though he doesn’t mince his words about the need to kill her later. Maria then whisks Joseph away to talk. Since planes weren’t invented at that time, the flight must be a real scary one for him, eh? With a heavy heart, Joseph tells of the upcoming war and the big decisive one that will end it all. That is why he is telling Maria not to interfere this time. Anne’s dad laments he is being called to fight again. Anne is not worried and will go seek Maria’s help when she goes to get grandma’s medicine. But father isn’t too sure this time. Is it right for them to rely on a witch always? Anne goes to Maria’s house but only Ezekiel is there. She has made wreaths for them all and hopes she could do her a favour by telling Maria to keep her father safe during the war. Ezekiel won’t give in at first but I guess Anne’s cutie begging has her relent. But only just to tell her.

After happy Anne leaves, Michael appears before Ezekiel! Oh sh*t! Somebody slacking on the job? You can tell Michael is not pleased by the way she lectures and reminds Ezekiel about her duty. However Ezekiel is also in doubt as she asks if it is wrong for someone in this world to listen and fulfil wishes that Heaven only hears. Michael says humans are limited in their abilities. There are many things they don’t understand and thus there is no choice for them but to accept the kind of world they live in. Oh, one final reminder: Should Maria use her magic again, she will be returned to heaven by Ezekiel’s own hands. Bernard’s assistant, Gilbert is about to relay more info about the English soldiers but Bernard starts laughing hysterically that Maria is a virgin! He looks like he’s being possessed by the devil! Artemis cannot understand why Maria is lying around and taking no action when the war is about to begin. After all the scouting she has done and now she is doing nothing? The French side ambushes and flanks the English. Viv and her English witches are gleefully watching it all but Viv feels something is wrong. Where is Maria? Ezekiel remembers after being told off by Michael, she got scared sh*t and went off to search for Maria. She spotted her with Joseph and eavesdropped on them. Maria knew Joseph was being made to inform her. Joseph wants to help Maria fulfil and share her dream by her side but she finds that cruel. Ezekiel finally relays Anne’s message to Maria but that is just that. She won’t let her go to the war since that is her purpose. Wrong choice of words? Because Maria’s mind is made up now as she flies into the battlefield. Artemis and Priapos tie Ezekiel up in a sack but she manages to break out and go after them. You don’t want to be f*cked by Michael again, do you?

Episode 7
The English are being routed. Galfa thinks they won’t be making much money and suggests joining the main war. Joseph is about to get his first kill but gets cold feet and lets his enemy run away. The English dude is grateful but is shortly killed by Joseph’s fellow man. Just shocking, eh? Just as the French are gaining the upper-hand, here comes Maria in her usual ways to tell them to stop or else. She even gives the English a chance to escape. Everyone has no choice but to abide till a disgruntled Englishman fires back. Then all hell breaks loose again. Maria is going to use her magic when Michael turns Ezekiel into her spear and is moments before striking her down. Viv saw it coming and tries to warn her but too late. Maria was struck down. Viv becomes frantic in trying to look where Maria fell. Meanwhile the battle rages on as the English push forward. Guillaume panics as they come closer and wonder where Yvain’s troops are because they’re supposed to be protecting him. Guillaume orders to fire canons at them despite knowing there are allies in the field. Well, he paid good money for those canons. Time to earn their keep. When Yvain finds out, he orders his men to quickly return because they won’t get paid at this rate. He blames Galfa for this idea and that he will not get a single gold after this. Galfa slits his throat! Lolotte cannot believe he did that but as he tries to explain himself, a canon blew off his left arm. Several soldiers find Maria. They blame her for everything and are about the get their revenge. Artemis shoos them away but it is not enough till Viv comes kicking their asses. Meanwhile Ezekiel must be scared sh*t. She cannot answer Michael why she missed hitting Maria on purpose. Guillaume sees the advancing English and has no choice but to call for a retreat.

Maria wakes up in the place of Edwina, Viv’s witch friend. Viv lets Maria talk to the other witches about their differing views on the war as she needs to hear opinions of others. Maria is steadfast in her stance to stop the war even if it means going against Michael. As her pitchfork is missing, Artemis and Priapos go to look for it. Thankfully it is in Joseph’s hands as he sees Ezekiel sitting dejectedly alone. She tells him about her dilemma. She told Michael she doesn’t know how she feels about Maria anymore and was told she is her spear and spears do not think or have emotions. The next time, she will strike down Maria. Ezekiel believes she made a mistake but Joseph didn’t think so. Everyone makes mistake. He realizes he only brought more grief to Maria. The problem is to face Maria now because Ezekiel thinks she will be mad for shooting her down but Joseph knows it wasn’t done by her own will and Maria will understand. The owls are here to pick them up to see Maria. First a big emotional hug and sorry from Ezekiel. Then Maria thanks her for saving her. Bernard heard lots of complains about Maria’s doing and that she may not be on their side. Gilbert wondered why he went all his way to save Galfa. Because that guy has a grudge against Maria and knows of a plan to deal with her. Yeah, friendship is a wonderful thing. Anne is glad that her father has returned. She calls out to grandma daddy is back but there is no answer.

Episode 8
Maria returns home but sees a clan of Yoda orcs outside her house. They are here to get some medicine for those injured in the war (not sure if it is with humans or their own kind). As they leave, they claim they saw a young girl (Anne) coming and desperately calling out to her. Maria sends Priapos to go check it out. Martha is doing fine as Gilbert has delivered medicine from Bernard. But Anne is not happy. She tells Priapos that she heard Gilbert saying it was Maria’s ‘poison’ that was making grandma sick. So who is telling the truth? Joseph is tasked to deliver something to Galfa who is now the chief of Guillaume’s Red Army. Galfa questions Joseph over Maria’s betrayal because he thought he had convinced her to stay put. Joseph thinks Maria’s intervention was because she decided to stay true to her beliefs. Galfa thinks that it is because of that they ended up losing a winning battle. He also heard rumours that everyone is now blaming Maria for this loss. It is best for her to lie low now. When Priapos reports to Maria, she cannot help feel upset that her medicine is being labelled as poison. She wants to go clear things up but Artemis advises her not to as the village has lost trust in her. It took an emotional Ezekiel to calm her down. She’s saying that everything happened because Maria is a heretic. She is reminded of the village that refused her. Since she lives a life where people punish her for the slightest mistakes, yet she still acts purely based on emotions. She should have realized it by now. All this would not have happened had she listened. If she keeps acting childish and swayed by emotions, she’ll end up alone. Joseph believes Maria’s doing is not wrong. Even if the world is against her, he will always be by her side so please continue to walk the path she believes. Maria hugs him before realizing how embarrassing it is.

A soldier confronts Galfa and believes he killed Yvain. So he is going to kill him too? Well, he thought it would be easy now that Galfa lost an arm. Remember that package? It contains a metal arm. Oh man, this is going to be sweet. Easy victory. Artemis teases Maria for doing it with Joseph in the woods since she took her time. That classic blushing-cum-denying face… Cernunnos visits Maria again and warns her it is going to begin. People are going to remove her acts from their life and she will be easily forgotten. Again, the umpteenth question he asks about Maria wanting to end this war. He invites her to be their companion but Artemis shoos him away. Bernard visits the village and speaks to Martha. As usual, he calls her speedy recovery this a miracle of God. Then when he mentions about her association with Maria, she is made to confess. What choice does this old lady have but to sever ties with Maria in the name of God? Anne is such a sad girl. Bernard continues to give his smooth speech about Maria wanting chaos and thus her existence unlike humans who strive for peace and free of conflict. They can do this by believing in their faith and forgetting Maria. He assigns Gilbert to assist the village in their faith. Galfa is on his way to see Maria. Apparently Bernard told him about Maria losing her magic when she loses her virginity. Guess who is going to do that job? He has prepared some concoction for him and leaves it to him on how he wants to do it. It would also serve a good revenge. When Galfa notes Bernard’s devilish side, this is the best reply ever: There is a little devil inside everyone’s heart and that is why we need God.

Episode 9
After her familiars leave the house to bring back some help, Galfa releases a gas that weakens Maria. She tries to summon her magic and could only bring forth a mini phoenix. But that wasn’t enough to stop him. Priapos and Ezekiel return to help save Maria but when she cannot use her magic anymore, Galfa dances happily on his way out. Gilbert and the soldiers prepare to storm in to apprehend her so Maria tells Priapos and Ezekiel to take her pitchfork and run. When Joseph passes by Galfa who didn’t say much, he finds something amiss. Maria’s home is burnt down and the witch is taken away for trial. Next day they see the monks making the villagers confess before Maria that they saw her summon demons. Bernard makes Martha show her unwavering faith. Maria can tell Martha is sad and hurt so she allows her to throw a stone at her. Ezekiel blames herself for letting Galfa knows about Maria’s secret but Joseph believes Maria’s purity is still intact because had she totally lost her magic, her familiars would not have retrained human form. He has Artemis and Ezekiel go seek Viv’s help while Priapos is to observe Maria who is being held at the monastery. Since she will be put on trial, there will not be branded a heretic immediately and this should buy them some time. Joseph then speaks to Guillaume that he wants to save Maria but was scolded about the trouble he will bring. He is told to forget about her and prepare for war since he heard the English are preparing for another attack. Later Guillaume talks to Galfa about not finishing his job because Maria’s purity is still intact. Galfa says he was tasked to make sure her magic didn’t work and not screw with her.

Viv is on her way with Artemis and Ezekiel when Michael pops up before her! Why is she going to save Maria? Because she is her friend. Viv doesn’t care who Michael is and harvests all the weapons from the English army to strike her. You think that will work? Bernard talks to Maria that he finds it curious that despite the doctor examined and confirmed her purity, she lost her magic ability. He learns of Maria encouraging Martha to throw a stone so that her family could be spared. When Bernard starts talking about God, Maria talks back about him preaching gospel that he hardly understands. Because if God really appeared, he would have solved everything instantly. But now it looks like it is better to rely on themselves instead relying on a silent God. This makes Bernard rant about the existence and non-existence of God. If you don’t understand all that he is saying, don’t worry because Maria also don’t know what the f*cks he is blabbing. Her reason is simple. All they need to live in this world is to be able to stand on their own 2 feet. Bernard is so enlightened by Maria’s thoughts that he kisses her foot! OMFG! So disgusting! Don’t think there are no witnesses. Aside God, Priapos and Gilbert see this unholy act.

Episode 10
Viv doesn’t care who Michael is and continues to attack. She tells Ezekiel about why God doesn’t help humans who seek and pray for His love. The answer is simple: God doesn’t know what love is! So stop trying to rule over them! Viv must be proud she said that but that slight distraction was enough for Michael to turn Ezekiel into her spear and stab her! Michael tells Ezekiel that it was not Viv’s words that made her strike but the fact Viv pointed her sword at the Heavenly Father. She gives an example about humans and wheat. Will humans ever listen to wheat if they could tell them when they will be sowed? Luckily Viv still lives although she is heavily injured as she recuperates in Edwina’s house. Guillaume is fed up of Joseph thinking about Maria so he tells him to fight for him in this upcoming war with the English and he’ll personally settle this Maria thing for him. I don’t think Joseph is convinced but he is going to do his part and return from his war to save her. For once we see Joseph getting mad. But overturning tables won’t make Galfa show up. Lolotte tells him to find him at the battlefield. He’ll definitely be there. Maria is under Gilbert’s inquisition. She will not seek the Lord’s forgiveness and continue her ways. Gilbert reports her failed confession to Bernard but he seems to be not paying attention like as though he has lost interest and lets Gilbert do whatever he wants. Artemis tries to convince Edwina to come help rescue Maria but Edwina is scared and doesn’t want to risk being killed by Michael. All she wants is a peaceful life. Ezekiel hoping to find answers, visits Martha and Anne. They are in great pain for hurting Maria especially Anne who is now thinking what the church did to Maria was totally wrong.

It seems with Gilbert’s power, Maria’s burning at the stake comes early. It will be tomorrow. Priapos desperate for help, reports this to Artemis and is even willing to lose his virginity to Edwina for it! You’re scaring her without a dick, kid! Sorry guys, Edwina is too scared to help. You’ll have to do this by yourselves. Ezekiel visits Maria and tells her about her visit to Anne. She is still puzzled that all this could be solved had she just said those words. It‘s only words. But Maria being the staunch believer in her beliefs, knows better she can’t no matter what. Maria must have the whole night to think why she is doing this. Was she doing this for the praise instead of really helping the people? Yeah well, she can’t be as shocked to see the villagers coming to see her burning at the stake. Some are so happy and giving applause! Meanwhile Guillaume leads his troops to storm the English castle. It looked like the French isn’t making any progress with their puny attacks. I mean, how can they bring down a castle wall?! They can. But it takes time to load this super cannon! And it only takes one hit. Once the wall is down, the invasion begins. Before Maria could be torched and her owl familiars barge in to save her, Edwina crashes down. She blames Maria for making it easy for witches everywhere to be witch hunt. Does she want other witches to be harmed? Although still trembling in fear, she keeps the guards at bay with her magic as they try to kill them. The owls free Maria and off they go into the sky. But Maria doesn’t want to go back home yet. She wants to head to the battlefield. Joseph is being ambushed by Galfa. Looks like they have more than just serious talking to do.

Episode 11
Gilbert remembers one of his informants. He now realizes she is a witch (Edwina’s cat). This means the medicine he got is also from her. This means Maria’s temporary paralysis (how Galfa did her in) was one of Edwina’s medicine and they never thought humans would go this far to use them. When Gilbert confronts Bernard about this, he doesn’t deny it was medicine from witches. This means he was associated with them for a very long time? Well, he thinks everything that can be used to make this world a better place, will be used. Joseph is mad as he fights Galfa but the latter is also mad thinking about Joseph’s sheltered life and never had to worry about food or shelter. Once Maria crashes into the battlefield, she quickly goes to find Joseph. Good thing she did it fast because he is no match for skilled Galfa. Maria is not happy that this is the umpteenth time he told her he was against war but yet again he rushed off to fight. Joseph gets even more upset now that Galfa wants to really finish them off. Thanks to everyone cooperating, Joseph deals the winning blow. But he didn’t stop there. He is filled with so much rage that he continues to punch Galfa! It took Maria several calls to make him stop. Lolotte waltzes in like as though everything was a joke to take Galfa away. Enough for today, boys. If their chief gets killed, nobody is going to collect their reward. Yeah, she’s even singing a sick fighting song…

Meanwhile Anne is at Maria’s devastated home. Cernunnos speaks to her as she feels guilty for what she has done for Maria. He tells her to forget and the pain will go away but Anne will not and tells Cernunnos not to drag Maria onto his side (since he claims Maria is not on human’s side). Maria updates Joseph on what happened to her. He feels he does not deserve to stay by her side since he gave in to his rage. He realizes he is weak and only Guillaume’s puppet. Maria had to slap him for beating himself up. I mean, she came all the way here instead of home for one obvious reason, right? To save him! But he still considers himself weak and unable to do things. She tells him to just do it. Stay with her and support her. Doesn’t this sound like a proposal? Joseph has decided. He apologizes for not seeing her more than a witch. He confesses he loves her and proposes to marry her. Maria’s face lights up so bright that not only it reconstructs her house back to normal and heal their wounds, this believe in herself has return her magic. Huge overgrowth envelope the entire battlefield. Maria takes to the skies with Joseph and rounds up all the weapons from the soldiers’ hands. With a loud happy voice, she thanks everyone. Every single soul. Because she has found her happiness. Then she happily summons all her monsters to scare them away. Maria is then lifted up further into the skies. Michael has summoned her. Oh, Maria happily introduces her new boyfriend!!! Such a happy witch!

Episode 12
So what does Maria have to say for all this? She believes that everyone should just find their own happiness and that way the balance of the world would balance out itself. Well, it doesn’t sound like the answer Michael is looking for. She is going to kill Maria but backup arrives. Artemis, Priapos, Viv, Edwina, the English witches and their summoned monsters are supporting Maria. Looks like they don’t give a hoot about God or heaven. They’re sick of hearing this order thingy because it makes you angels look like puppets. True to Maria’s spirit, she doesn’t want them to fight. I guess they’re not listening. Power battle! No different than humans, eh? Meanwhile Gilbert confronts Bernard to go on a witch hunt but he seems more preoccupied in writing his scrolls that contains ‘new teachings’. Bernard is obsessed with this new idea they can create a new world without God’s protection. Michael of course bests her opponents. She wants Ezekiel to become her spear and kill them. Surprisingly Ezekiel resists her. As she has spent time living with them, she has decided Maria and co are good people. With the heavens lighting up, Michael will review Maria’s doing. She projects herself in everyone’s thoughts to have them opine about Maria. Some call her a pest, some aren’t sure and there are those who are 100% behind her. Bernard is most shocked seeing Michael before him. He cannot accept this because it contradicts his new learning. He is going to strangle Michael???!!! Nut case! He got turned into sand upon contact. Martha’s testimony of Maria has her view Maria as an important person in her life and is sorry for stoning her. Finally, what has Joseph has to say? He once met a hermit who told him about world peace. But living in a world rife with war, that is only a dream. He never did anything to change it unlike Maria. She made him realize that he wanted to make a difference. From now on he wants to fight on her side.

Maria also wants a say. She’ll continue doing what she does whether she has magic or not. If Michael wants to kill her then go ahead. She has an idea how heaven is feeling with everything happening right now. So for this once, she will forgive God! Amazing?! So amazing that Michael is laughing! The heavens lighting up again means they have accepted her as part of the world’s natural order. Of course the heavens will not heed Maria’s words and will continue to watch her. Each time Maria does her thing, Michael will be there to stop her. Michael relays to everyone that Maria’s judgment has been decided. She will be everyone’s good neighbour. Remember the commandments, love thy neighbour. Because Ezekiel has gone against heaven, she is no longer fit to serve there. She will become human in this world but she may choose which mother she wants to be reborn from. Everyone is looking at Maria… She doesn’t want to take this responsibility but with everybody begging her, I guess it’s decided. Hope she comes out a healthy baby. In the aftermath, Edwina continues to stay put in her place. She is still scared because she thinks witches are not being forgiven yet. Viv thinks of going back to England and getting a job. Then maybe she’ll try to bring peace to the world. Joseph resigns as Guillaume’s messenger. The latter isn’t shocked but notes he has grown stronger like his father. Bernard’s scrolls are burnt away. Maria departs with Joseph to live in the human world. Before she goes, Cernunnos talks to her. She thanks him for his answer to Michael. He considered himself the past and Maria the future. One day Maria will be like him but she still has a purpose. This world is built upon each and every living thing. Not even Michael can escape from this process. As long as Maria remembers him, he will not disappear. So please do not make her something of the past. Maria invites him to join them but he will return to the forest and with permission, use Maria’s old house. Maria and Joseph now live in Anne’s village (the owl familiars as their pet?). They are happy to welcome them and they’re just in time for the harvest festival. England returned to their homeland and there was no more war. Everybody lived happily ever after! All thanks to a witch.

War Veterans, Peace Virgins
Hmm… Despite being quite a good anime, something in the end feels lacking. I am not saying that the end is bad. It is a good one. Satisfying. Ties up everything nicely. But somehow it feels like it lacks the oomph to make me marvel and consider this an epic anime. This an epic anime? When you have God and his archangel seemingly like the ‘antagonist’, how can you not consider this to be not epic? Anyhow, it is still a good ending for everyone because eventually with peace reigning over the lands, Maria doesn’t have to risk her neck in the battlefield and in turn risk being killed by her usual stalker- oops, I mean the archangel. Hmm… Maybe that is what feels lacking. The sudden resolve and peace to end the story makes it feel like a happily ever after fairytale. Well, isn’t it?

Without a doubt after hearing arguments about if God actually cares about his creations and the fact if he knows anything about love, there is going to be divides and differing opinions from all sides. I hope it will be a fruitful one so I hope to give my 2 cents worth of it too. Although I am not a very religious guy (can I consider anime as my religion?), what is being said about God and his angels is neither right nor wrong. In fact, both could be correct. After all, who are we puny beings to try and understand Him? Perhaps it is something that goes beyond science or even explanation in words that we do not comprehend how He thinks. But as far as the setting in this anime is concerned, it is of course ironic that a witch is trying to make pace while the very being that people devoutly pray to day and night does nothing and watches over them. Because peace would have reigned for a very long time and war never to even start if He wanted to set things straight. But He did not. How do you explain this?

But the funny thing is that if people are left to decide to do what they want even if this means killing themselves, going by that same logic, I do not see why Michael should stop Maria from trying to save a handful of lives. I mean, this is her will, right? This is her choice, right? Why does she label Maria from trying to interfere and disrupt the flow of nature if considering and assuming Maria is part of that flow? Just that she just doesn’t want to see people fighting. So if Maria continues her ways as usual, don’t you think this is also part of the flow of the natural order? Because by obstructing Maria and letting humans fight, doesn’t this mean God loves watching humans kill each other? Now that the heavens have declared Maria as a good neighbour, I suppose nobody is going to have the guts to go against that decree. So she is safe to come out of her hiding and assimilate with the humans.

Therefore it is a big irony, pity and shame that Maria who desires peace, goes all her way out to do what she believes is right, only for her doings to be backfired. All because everybody only recognizes her status as a witch and only praises her when she does things that turns out favourable. Humans being humans can be cruel and forgetful as seen here. Each time Maria goes to do her usual stuffs, only to be hindered and obstructed. You can’t help feel her efforts in danger of going to waste and you want to root for her so bad that you might go to the extreme lengths in labelling Michael and God as the bad guys! OMG! Is this considered as heresy? I know there is a limit to how much Maria can help but at least she is doing something instead of nothing. It might not make a dent in the world. It might not make any difference in the big wide world. It might not even be remembered for the generations and times to come. But at least she does make an impact and matters to those that she got involved with. Even if everybody is against her, not everyone is. As seen in Joseph, Martha and Anne who are considered her staunch believers, you can’t blame them for siding with Maria because she gets things done and has the results to show for. To these people, it is not who you are but what you do to make a difference.

All in all, Maria is not perfect but everyone forgets that aside from being a witch, she is the same living thing like everything else on this planet. Even more so, she is considered more human than most humans would be. All she wants is love happiness. But even if she can’t change the world or her area, at least she found happiness for herself. It’s like lowering your goals and screw the world, eh? Which isn’t a bad thing because how can you make the world a happier place if you yourself aren’t happy? So I feel that it is a good thing to start small and achieving smaller things before proceeding to bigger stuffs, one step at a time. The most important and biggest fact is that Maria believes in doing what she thinks is right regardless of what others tried to tell and impose on her. She might be lost at certain times but eventually she stays true to herself. This is what I think the anime is trying to tell us all in real life too.

Ezekiel was a pretty amusing and fun character. She was like a joker and comic relief seeing as the newbie and freeloader who only knows how to give lip service, she often gets ‘bullied’ and even easily ‘conned’ whenever Maria uses simple loopholes to prevent her from witnessing the use of her magic. And then when she starts hanging out with Maria a little too long and observing her actions firsthand, she starts to fall into a big dilemma that she might start experiencing nervous breakdown anytime. It wasn’t so fun seeing her anymore…

Artemis and Priapos are good familiars but I wish that they would do something more but I suppose that would mean usurping Maria’s role and overshadowing her. So they’ve been relegated to just her sidekicks with a little quirky habit whenever they’re not in any mission like Artemis’ penchant to tease Maria about her virginity (she must really like to see her blushing reactions) and Priapos desperately trying to cross over his manhood. I wonder if he can since he still lacks that important genital. Viv strikes as an interesting character as she takes interest in Maria’s actions. But before I knew it, suddenly Viv becomes Maria’s friend. I don’t know when this happened but I guess it is better than being foes. Oddly, if witches lived so long and assuming Viv and her English witches watching human battles for so long while Maria has been doing her war disrupting efforts for equally the same amount of time, why only now does Viv take notice of her? Maybe she did. Just that they never talked and when they first do, it was fascinating enough for Viv to take a liking for her.

It was obvious that Joseph took a liking from Maria from the start. It might take a while for Maria after a few prodding from Joseph but I guess it is more fun for them to be in denial and only confess it all in the end. So do you see the power of love triumphing in the end?! So with everyone putting their hopes on Maria to give birth to Ezekiel, I figure that means she is going to lose her virginity to Joseph, right? Unless she becomes the second Mother Mary giving birth to Jesus Christ. Well… I can imagine this awesome family… An ex-messenger and his wife who is an ex-witch. They have a daughter who was an ex-servant of heaven as well as a couple of owls as pets. A goddaughter and a godmother grandma as extension family. If the witches took a pledge of sisterhood, Viv and the rest could have been Maria’s sisters. Awesome family indeed.

Other minor and supporting characters do play their role and bit in the development of the climax of the story despite it feels like they make less of an impact overall. Like those English witches who are just watching from the sidelines and then all of a sudden in the final episode they want to play hero and gang up against Michael after they spend a little time bonding with Maria. Edwina is commendable for her bravery despite always being scared and pessimistic. At least she is being realistic. But when it comes down to what is most important, she’ll do what is right. Albeit still scared sh*t. I thought Cernunnos would be Michael in disguise. The archangel taking another form just to troll us and try a different approach to change Maria’s mind. In the end he was entirely a different being and his role in this anime was only reserved in the last moments as one of the testimonies for Maria. Well, if words could change the outcome and world like that. Galfa must be the biggest loser because he lost everything and at the end of it all, his testimony to Michael is he doesn’t want any more to do with her. He’s had it.

It is hard to say if the monks are the real villains because based from history and our stereotypes, the closest aides to God can also turn out to be the biggest devil. So we see Bernard’s actions that make us wonder if he is genuinely good or otherwise. Some of his intentions are sly and it is surprisingly shocking that after his inquisition with Maria, he seemingly lost all interest in her. So he lets Gilbert take over his role? But from what we have seen from Bernard, he remains the biggest hypocrite ever because despite preaching to others about God and the evil of witches, he himself has been associated with them for his own purposes and recently seeing that unholy act of kissing Maria’s feet! Is he considering her his new Maria? He reaps what he sows eventually. The one who is supposed to be closest to God pushes Him far away even when a miracle appears before his eyes. Needless to say, he paid with his life. May God bless his soul.

For some reason, I thought the character designs remind me of those from Dragonball but it is actually only in Maria that I see this. Maybe it is because I am just fresh off from my Nanatsu No Taizai stint so this may be only a big coincidence. The characters look pretty okay but not too much anime-like characteristics that might have diluted the ‘realism’ of the history setting. But when I first saw Ezekiel, I jumped up thinking what the heck was that squid girl from Shinryaku! Ika Musume doing here?! OMG! They look so similar! At certain points there were times that my mind will go crazy thinking when would her hair turn into long tentacles and start using them as extensions to her arms. Heh… Most of the witches’ sexy outfit somehow makes them feel out of place because you know, this is the Middle Ages and then you have some like Artemis dressing in what looks like S&M bondage outfit. Maybe that is how such getup got brought over well into our current era? But Artemis and Priapos in their owl familiar form do look cute. So cute and lovable that you’d wish they get a spin-off series like how those Minions did. Really. You should see that scene when Priapos as an owl fitted just nicely inside the window cell that Maria was held. Freaking cute! Aside the characters, the sceneries and backgrounds are also okay, depicting well the old European lifestyle.

It was such a pleasure to hear Mamiko Noto in a supporting character role as Viv albeit not much. Lately she has been only voicing cameos and very minor characters so it was such a big relief and ultimately my overall happiness (yes, it’s true!) to hear her voicing lines that lasts more than a couple of scenes or episodes, characters that aren’t so insignificant. Kana Hanazawa was also pretty fun as Ezekiel. At least initially when she was a newbie who was a constant ‘bully victim’ to her senior owls. I guess the voice behind Ika from Shinryaku! Ika Musume has grown up. Because as the voice of Maria, there wasn’t the slightest shred that reminded me of that squid girl. Well, at least Takahiro Sakurai as Bernard was recognizable. There were a few seiyuus that I have mistakenly identified. For example, I thought it was Ayane Sakura behind Anne’s shrieky voice but it turns out to be Ai Kakuma instead (Isuzu in Amagi Brilliant Park). Also, I thought it was Kazuya Nakai behind Galfa but it was Yuuki Ono (Zenkichi in Medaka Box).

And thus others that I should have recognized but didn’t include Kikuko Inoue as Michael, Mikako Komatsu as Priapos and Youko Hikasa as Artemis. The rest of the casts include Kensho Ono as Joseph (Slaine in Aldnoah.Zero), Natsuki Hanae as Gilbert (Kousei in Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso), Bin Shimada as Guillaume (Ken in You’re Under Arrest), Yumi Uchiyama as Edwina (Momiji in Binbougami Ga), Sachiko Kojima as Lolotte (Sayako in Bamboo Blade), Miyuki Ichijou as Martha (Elizabeth in Mars Daybreak) and Takaya Hashi as Cernunnos (Bacchus in Mirai Nikki). The opening theme is Philosophy Of Dear World by ZAQ is surprisingly a catchy rock outfit. The ending theme, Ailes by True is a total opposite. A slow rock ballad but yet a beautiful peace.

Overall, this series is a remarkable and entertaining story that makes you think a little bit although it is not meant to encourage you from deviating from your faith. You are just questioning to understand better instead of questioning to go against. It might not be deep in religious values as I believe this is also not what the anime is intended to, so it is safe to watch for all people from all kinds of faith or no faith. Unless you are the close minded kind than this series would already be blasphemy just by reading the synopsis. Because it is just unthinkable for God to sit back and do nothing but let a witch run about and ruin the so called world order just to achieve peace. Well, it worked out fine in the end, didn’t it? Yeah… Maybe all this was also part of God’s greater plan as well. Oh, you sly Father. You knew this would happen and that is why you sat back and did nothing. Yup, a part of God’s plan indeed.

I read the reason for producing Hyakka Ryouran Samurai After was to introduce a new character to the series and give her some screen time. Well, nothing wrong with that but I thought it was just an excuse not to make another season and introduce her somewhere along the way or at the start instead of condemning her debut to a couple of OVAs. Heh. That’s just my opinion after all. And of course if you know about this series, you would know better about its brand of fanservice offered and thus all the more reason why we buy the DVDs to see samurai boobs and more samurai boobs. Oh yeah, samurai boobs save Japan!

Episode 1
WOW! Samurai girls making out right at the start!!! Keiji and Kagekatsu Uesgi making love, kissing and caressing!!! Kagekatsu has Keiji’s hand put on her stomach and it starts glowing! Wait a minute. Is she going to give birth to some super samurai?! Keiji notes her great qi thanks to all the training but there is still room for improvement. Meanwhile, the tussle for Muneakira continues. They’re arguing there is a big difference being a Samurai Bride and a wife. Yeah… Big difference… Even Gisen gets into the fray although she’s more into being his mistress thingy. Kanetsugu… What the heck is she talking about changing wives every 3 months?! Before things get ugly, they’re being attacked by Kagekatsu’s power arrow. Kanetsugu recognizes her friend. Seems she respects her for being kind to her. Yeah, unlike some girls who loves to subject this retard to abuse, right? Seems Keiji is here too and to see Muneakira. This shocks everyone especially Kagekatsu. Maybe except Juubei who is more than delighted thinking she might want to be Muneakira’s bride too. Since everyone starts arguing they are the best to be his wife, Keiji proposes a match to determine who will be his wife. However it will be decided via third parties. Yup, something like a reality TV. All of them will try to act and please him as much while raking votes from online viewers. The one with the highest votes wins. Matabei and Hanzou are in a dilemma to enter or support their masters so Gisen suggests they should refrain so as not to embarrass their master. Because Juubei thinks the more the merrier, Keiji agrees to join in. This causes Kagekatsu to be jealous and she also wants in. But shortly Keiji withdraws because somebody needs to take care of the notes. Did Kagekatsu get tricked into this? Thanks to some technology, viewers will have a first person view via lens that Muneakira is wearing. What he sees, everybody sees.

And so on day 1, we see Sen ordering her servants to clean about as she acts like the dominant master. I guess some guys dig this sadistic side. Yukimura shows her great finance management skills by saving more power during hot summer by wearing swimsuits. That sure brings in the votes. But it couldn’t be more insulting to them because Juubei is just fooling around with Muneakira and she scores the most points! Kanetsugu and Kagekatsu do the naked apron gig. The latter’s clumsiness causes the ingredients that like some ambiguous liquid splash over her face and chest. And with clumsy Kanetsugu slipping and accidentally pulling down her pantsu, wow, the ratings are going up. This infuriates Sen and Yukimura. Two can play that game! So they try more lewd stuffs by getting wet or skimpier swimsuits (saves 70% more energy!). Juubei continues to fool around her usual way and gets Muneakira into a compromising position. Kanetsugu thinks she can show her the better way so she transforms into her magical girl outfit. Only 1 problem: She’s totally naked! OMG! Ratings shoot through the roof! And this was unintentional for her side. Everybody got free fanservice. Meanwhile Kagekatsu is feeling down and the one lagging behind. Keiji talks to her and hopes she would actively participate. But Kagekatsu is in a dilemma. If she wins, she will no longer be Keiji’s bride anymore. Keiji says the problem is not becoming somebody’s wife. She hints she wants to have a size of a football team for children! At least half of them if Kagekatsu can’t ‘produce’ that much.

For the next few days, the intense competition continues with all the competitors being neck to neck in ratings. The weirder the attempt, the higher the votes. I think the one getting the most kick out of this is Keiji. Look at her laughing… On the last day, things get desperate. The girls are competing to wash his back. Kagekatsu’s accident with her boobs has the rest start using their boobs on him. The ultimate one whereby Muneakira slips and has his face planted in Juubei’s crotch! Matabei and Hanzou are helpless in seeing this fight as they too want to help their masters. But Gisen tells them they must win this battle by their own terms. And the servants just relegate to taking a bath while listening to Gisen’s ‘wisdom’. Since the tug of war might tear apart Muneakira’s limbs, I guess the girls are getting serious now to beat the crap out of each other. That is when Muneakira has had it and tells them to stop. He believes this is not the right way to choose and become his bride. He has them remember when they all turned into their Samurai Bride form, their hearts were in unison. So why make this disappear now? Choosing a bride is something that requires reflection and time. The girls couldn’t be more ashamed of themselves. Keiji lauds Muneakira’s words. Hey wait. Isn’t she the one who suggested this game? Of course. All just to see Kagekatsu’s worried face. Don’t worry. She had a great time. Yeah, everybody just felt they are the biggest loser. The participants, the viewers… Scammed… The only real winners are perhaps Gisen, Matabei and Hanzou who were right in staying behind. Keiji asks Kagekatsu’s opinion on Muneakira. Truly, he is an interesting man.

Episode 2
Unheeding Nia’ word, Sen breaks into a sealed tomb and opens a sealed box. Oh no. Looks like Pandora’s Box from the way things look. Muneakira thought Gisen crept up into his bed again but surprise! It’s Sen! Oh, Gisen is on his other side. So she did creep into his bed. As usual, the morning jinx with the girls around, Muneakira rushes to the toilet to clean himself up but bumps into naked Kanetsugu and sees her entirety. The rest of the day must be tiring for Muneakira because he has to escape from Sen’s seduction attempts. While Kanetsugu is complaining in her kennel about Muneakira, suddenly Sen kisses her and turns her into her minion. Muneakira can tell something is wrong when Juubei and Gisen start wanting to do bold things with him. Looks like they are under Sen’s spell too. This is all part of Sen’s plan to force Muneakira to marry her since he is taking too long over her proposal. She transforms into the legendary wedding dress that she got from Toyotomi’s hidden treasure. Hmm… This black revealing jester outfit is the legendary wedding dress? Luckily Yukimura and Matabei are here to stop their shenanigans. They have noticed Sen acting weird lately and have been observing her. They have also done their research that she is not wearing the legendary wedding dress which is supposed to be white. This dress is supposed to be worn after the wedding ceremony. Based on records, those who wear the legendary dress will be married for sure. To counter other powers, the black version was created to please men by gathering concubines. In other words, a harem. Sen is not convinced since she did her research based from Yoshihiko’s documents. But if so, how come Muneakira is not charmed by her? Before Sen and her underlings could give him the ultimate pleasure, Yukimura’s light bomb comes in handy for their escape.

Yukimura explains about both dresses being kept in the same place to balance out each other’s power. Separating the dress would mean unbalanced power and Sen will slowly go berserk if she is left alone. The only way is to take off the dress and put it back in the seal. Sen interrogates Nia about the dress but her lips are tightly sealed. Sen does some nipple torture but why is Hanzou the one feeling ‘good’ about it? Muneakira and Yukimura barge into surprise attack and capture Sen. There is some sort of ritual to take off the dress by fondling and squeezing the boobs in certain directions 3 times? Finally, press the nipples! Did it work? When Muneakira goes to free Nia, Sen wakes up and kisses Yukimura followed by Matabei. Game over. Juubei is still her usual self as she continues to flirt and then kiss Muneakira. She transforms into her Master Samurai form. Seems she wasn’t under Sen’s spell. Was she playing along? Don’t know. She’s too airhead as always to tell. As they make a run, Nia explains that Yoshihiko sent her to stop Sen from this mess when she learnt about the treasure. Although she failed, why didn’t she fall into Sen’s spell? Yoshihiko gave her a charm to protect her against that. In order to defeat the black dress, they need the white dress’ power. To activate it, Juubei will have to wear it and kiss Muneakira. Why is he flustering? Hasn’t he done this many times? No time to think or even be hesitant (because Juubei can’t help wonder about the implications of putting on a wedding dress) since Nia is at her limit stalling Sen and co. Juubei puts on the dress. Looks magnificent. Now for the kiss. Sen tries to intercept them. Muneakira freaks out so Juubei forces kiss him. The superb power frees all the girls and a special warmth feeling as bonus. But now another battle will take place… Juubei back to her airhead self is claiming she is his official wife since she is wearing this. Not so fast! The other girls claim this dress belongs to their family’s property and start fighting over it. Don’t rip the dress apart please!

Special 1
A short special lasting 5 minutes, a first person view, through the eyes of the protagonist, although no dialogue from the him but I am guessing it is supposedly Muneakira (those manly hands) or the viewer. Kagekatsu is the featured girl as we see her waking you up and you getting naughty with her while she makes breakfast. Then you both go for a walk and you fell asleep on her lap in which by the time you wake up, you see her sleeping face. Back home, you join her in the shower (I thought this borders like porn logic since which girl would be more than happy to let you in and when you surprise her while she takes a bath). And yeah… Washing those delicious parts… And the moment you’ve been waiting for. After shower sex… And then suddenly Kagekatsu wakes up from this dream… What a letdown…

Special 2
It is Sen’s t turn but this time the view is from a video camera. Here we are at the beautiful beach but Sen tells us to stop recording the beautiful blue sea, skies and sandy beach and record her instead! Okay. And when you’re too focused on her ‘prized assets’ she tells you not to just record her all the time! Women! Make up your mind! Now it’s time to put sunscreen. Man, I think you’re good in filming with one hand while putting lotion on her back with the other. Can’t help resist poking her? Now it’s her turn to do the same. With her boobs. Damn. Why did the recording stop! Hands can’t be still? Anyway the filming continues as we see Sen in various beach activities. But during the watermelon breaking one, she accidentally smashes your head! Thank goodness the camera is still okay! Finally as she basks in the sunset glow, you have the cheek to record up close her boobs and fondle them! Then I guess she has really had it. Drop the camera and screw with her! Oh yeah! Sorry, folks. No footage for this one :).

Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride Specials

Prior to Samurai After, there were short specials lasting around 3 minutes for Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride if you get your hands on the DVD releases. What else? Fanservce! Even samurai girls need to take a break from their rigorous training and missions to relax and let their boobs out. Oops, I mean let their hair down. But really… They let their boobs out literally.

Special 1
Sasuke and Musashi are about to enter the public bath. Only one problem: No pets allowed! Juubei has got this ‘brilliant’ idea and turns Sasuke into her human form. Yay! Next problem: No money! I suppose Musashi has to pay for them otherwise we won’t have our fanservice fix of seeing their tits, rubbing, molesting and even licking them! I think it got too intense to Sasuke reverts back to a monkey. A staff heard an animal sound and comes in to check. What is this monkey fooling around in the bath? Erm… That’s not a monkey. That’s a towel! Gee, ‘brilliant’ cover there, ladies. And to prove it, she uses Sasuke to scrub Musashi’s back. Monkey abuse!

Special 2
Kojirou believes this maid outfit is the one corrupting her beloved Musashi. She puts it on and tries to act one to see for herself. Gisen catches her in the act and despite how embarrassed Kojirou is, Gisen is going to teach her the finer points of being a maid so she can snag the heart of that special someone. First, she rips the chest area and the skirt to make those delicious parts more exposed. Then she teachers her how to pose in very sexy poses and greetings. Is she teaching her how to do maid porn? Later when Matabei realizes that one of the maid outfits is missing and from her smell realizes the missing outfit belongs to Kanetsugu, Gisen lies that it could have been blown away by the wind. In actual fact, Kojirou has taken it back with her, fantasizing Musashi will be all hers…

Special 3
Mataemon is trying different swimsuit outfits and the more she tries, the more risqué and super sexy it becomes. And she loves it! Then she hears Sen is also trying out in the next cubicle. Can’t believe that she has chosen a boring outfit, she forces it off her and force dresses a sexy one on her. Wow. This looks good on her. Your unique charm is really shining. Kanetsugu in the next cubicle heard this and also wants her opinion. As usual, Mataemon is appalled at this boring fashion sense and proceeds to strip and dress another sexy swimsuit for her. Flawless victory! But it cannot be more insulting for Mataemon as the ladies leave satisfied after their purchase thinking how this store clerk looks so much like Mataemon.

Special 4
One of the most taboo things for Yukimura: Talking about her small boobs! But Keiji asks her if she is really content with them right now. Of course not. Don’t worry. She has a method that will help increase it up to D-cup in no time by using qi. I suppose Yukimura must be desperate enough to follow the silly rules of pinching her nipples and then rotate her hips both ways (so as to evenly grow both sides) round and round. So this method is supposed to bring out your female hormones and accelerate your boob growth? Well, do it a few more times and she’ll get that bust she has always wanted. It seems Inshun is also eavesdropping on them and trying out this embarrassing method. Once done and Yukimura leaves, Keiji tells Inshun to stop following it because it was just a trick! Yeah, she had her fill of making fun of small tits for today.

Special 5
Nia sounds tired as she comes home, completed her secret report. There are hidden videos she has recorded of Matabei and Hanzou doing intensive training. Nia is not sure what the points of these training are for but tries them out and thus that weary and unfortunate soul you see her now. Whether it is sitting on an exercise ball, soaking for a long time in hot water or standing under the waterfall to detect and avoid falling logs, she is not sure if these training methods are somewhat related to them transforming into Master Samurai. Then she receives mail about her credit card that she lost a little while ago. It is the bill. Why do all the charges come from the maid cafe???!!! OMG! Musashi and co you sneaky charges!!! Wow. You can say Nia is completely drained out physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially!

Special 6
Juubei and Musashi are soaking together in the hot bath. The rest of their group are sleeping because it was indeed a fun filled day for them playing at the beach. They reminisce at all the fun things they did together from building sand castles to beach volleyball to eating shaved ice cream and sunbathing. Coincidentally they also checked into the same inn and took a bath at the same time. Yeah, fun and crazy indeed. Juubei hopes everyone should come back here again.

Samurai Bachelor & Samurai Harem
Well… To be honest, it was rather okay. Just like any other OVA that does not contribute to the main plot of the series. If you remember them, that is. But personally the funny thing is I thought Kagekatsu would be appearing for both OVAs and instead only appeared for the first one. Doesn’t it feel wasted? Because the second seems to be focused on Sen like as though Sen fans have written a complaint about their favourite samurai girl not getting her due screen time but eventually it has to be Juubei who steals the limelight, eh? And so having Kagekatsu appear for just an episode like I said feels wasted because although she isn’t interested in Muneakira (for now) why bother getting her mixed up in the cat fight over him? If Sasuke’s role was just pathetic in the second season, then in the OVAs she is even more so and reduced to only appearing as a mascot during scene changers. At least better than Musashi and co who are non-existent, which make the OVAs feel like all this happened before them. But if Keiji is around then they should be. Or could it be after, like the second title suggests?

Seeing the other recurring characters does bring back the nostalgia for the series in me. Like Juubei’s airhead and completely in a world of her own, Sen and Yukimura continue to butt heads and lead the harem cat fight over the main man, Kanetsugu continues to be the resident idiot and bully victim of the pack (you always need somebody to be a punching bag and to be treated like a pet dog), Matabei still looking dangerous as she is still wearing a skimpy loincloth as her underwear, Hanzou still having that masochist fantasies for her master, Gisen being deceptively playful and sly although it is still hard to read her intentions if she is really gunning for Muneakira or if there is an ulterior motive underneath it, Nia the very loyalist to Yoshihiko and Keiji love screwing around with others and have fun watching their reactions. Well, I suppose it is the right thing for Muneakira to bring some sense to the samurai girls about their desperation to pick one of them to be his wife (and the rest his concubines) because it is true to what he said. Outwitting each other to be his wife isn’t a competition. Nor is it for the amusement for others to watch. Being his wife means responsibility and respecting the sacredness of marriage. And now that he has ‘delayed’ choosing his bride, looks like the harem cat fight will continue… Yeah, the very basic cliché problem of every undecided harem shows. I think it is worth the run for a few seasons material of reality TV…

Saiunkoku Monogatari

September 21, 2014

When was the last time I watched a very Chinese themed anime? I can’t remember. Even the earliest that came to mind was that cooking themed anime called Chuuka Ichiban. And for some reasons that I couldn’t understand, I decided to check out Saiunkoku Monogatari which is totally a Chinese setting. Except for the fact that this isn’t set in real ancient China but a fictional land of Saiunkoku that is so Chinese influence. It was weird at first to hear Chinese characters speaking Japanese. It’s like having your Taiwanese period drama serials and dubbing them into Japanese. Odd, right? Hah. That is just my mindset. Perhaps the thing that got me to watch is to see how this commoner girl entered the Imperial Palace as a concubine just to motivate the young emperor in doing his job. Guess what. He’s gay. Oh sh*t! This I got to see. Of course as women are discriminated at such times, our young lass will learn to handle and traverse the dangerous game of politics and power that is dominated by men. I know, I just want to see how this woman kick ass. Oh, for your information, this isn’t going to be some action flick where punches and kicks will fly everything like those Chinese kung-fu shows. There are some fighting bits but that is just minimal. Mostly just lots of drama.

This series spans 2 episodes each having 39 episodes per season. So that is 78 episodes in total. As you know me, I don’t really blog episode by episode for animes that last longer you’re your usual 26 episodes. Yeah. Just plain lazy to keep up with everything. That’s why you have the good ol’ reliable Wikipedia to rely on the episode summaries or even Star Crossed Anime Blog just to refresh my memory as well as the list of characters to keep track of who is who because you know in such a world and setting, there is going to be plot over plot when the plot thickens and with so many characters to keep in mind that it takes a genius to keep track of everything including the story. In this case I am not :’(. So here are those that I think are ‘important’ for me to remember.

Kou Shuurei – The main protagonist of the story. Hardworking, optimistic, kind, beautiful and all the good qualities that every man would love to have in their woman. Her only sin is to be born poor. But that’s a blessing in disguise because she has become adept with household chores. Oh, her other sin seems to be born as a woman in the wrong time and era.

500 gold – The amount of money paid to her to be the emperor’s consort.

Shi Seiran – A young man picked up by Shuurei’s household 13 years ago. Becomes their personal retainer to repay his gratitude.

Kou Shouka – Shuurei’s father and Seiran’s adoptive father. Works as a librarian and despite being a kind and gentle person, he makes horrible tea.

Shi Ryuuki – The current emperor who isn’t interest in politics and governing his country. As the youngest of 6 children of the previous emperor, he was mistreated by all his brother except Seien who was mysteriously exiled. The other brothers killed each other in succession to the throne and Ryuuki became an unlikely candidate to succeed. However as seen he isn’t anything but a fool but just acting as one. He spread rumours about being gay because he fears producing an heir would cause conflict and bloodshed.

Ran Shuuei – General of the Shaolin army with exceptional swordsmanship.

Ri Kouyuu – The Vice Secretary of the Department of Civil Administration. Has no sense of direction, gets lost easily. Even in his own home.

Ran Ryuuren – Shuuei’s eccentric but genius younger brother. Plays horrible flute and his actions are most annoying to everyone around him. He is only allowed to do as he pleases with a condition that he takes the top3 spot in the official exam.

Poisoned – Somebody seems to be targeting Shuurei because her tea is poisoned. Although it is not lethal, it will be in time when it is accumulative. Ryuuki drinks the poison on her behalf. What boggles me is that it took them very long to figure out who put poison in the tea. I know they don’t want to cause panic but shouldn’t they suspect the cook or Shuurei’s lady-in-waiting? Who else could get closer to her than that?

It’s closer than you think – I didn’t expect this revelation to come so early just like Ryuuki’s gay rumour. Well, Seiran = Seien.

Kidnapped – After poisoning, now Shuurei gets kidnapped. Turns out to be one of the 3 Grand Palace Officials plot, Sa Enjun. From what I understand from this convoluted power grabbing and jealousy plot, he always wanted to best his other Grand Palace Official, Shou Yousei. Eventually his scheme fell apart because he was just a pawn in Yousei’s bigger scheme. He is killed as a necessity by the man himself. A number of revelations too: Shouka is the mysterious Black Wolf assassin working under Yousei, just as Shuurei’s lady-in-waiting, Shusui. Kourin, Shuurei’s other lady-in-waiting was the one poisoning her drink due to her loyalty to Enjun. She is sent to live with his widow after his death. And needless to say, Ryuuki rescues Shuurei from the kidnappers.

Farewell kiss – That’s his parting gift to Shuurei once her consort mission is done and she goes back living to her usual life. I know he is emperor and can do anything but does he have to kiss her in front of everyone?

Woman in the force – Ryuuki works hard to make it so that women are allowed to take the official exam. Probably it’s his lonely heart that is making him do so.

Rou Ensei – A man found lying outside Shuurei’s house. Her good nature has her take him in and he turns out to be Seiran’s old friend. Something Seiran isn’t too happy about reuniting with this shaggy fellow.

Part time job – Due to the heat wave, many officials are calling in sick. To cope with the lack of manpower, Shuurei disguising herself as a young boy has been invited to assist in the Ministry of Taxation under the eccentric Ko Kijin. He always wears a mask and never takes it off. Then there is also Kou Reishin who is Shuurei’s uncle. He doesn’t want this revealed to her yet.

It’s hard to find a good official – Bandits were after Ensei’s head because he rejected corruption and bribes in his province. Yes, he is the governor of Sa province, once rife with corruption and bribe. Officials were assassinated or bribed, thus reducing good officials around till Enjun announced whoever could foil assassination attempts would be made provincial governor. Ensei did that but because he did not take any official exam, it would be hard for the people to accept him as a proper governor. Ensei gives back his governing seal to Ryuuki.

Kouchou – Madam of a local brothel. Shuurei works at her place part time.

Santa – Not, not Santa Claus, mind you. He is Shuurei’s childhood friend and son of a wealthy merchant. He has a major crush on Shuurei but because she always sees him as a childhood friend and her ambition and duty always comes first, safe to say it will never be reciprocate.

Tou Eigetsu – A young lad and another official exam candidate Shuurei picks up from the street after he is seemingly robbed by bandits. However when he is drunk, he turns into his aggressive alter ego Yougetsu. Oddly, they both know about each other.

Stealing – A local crime gang has been going around stealing plaques of official exam candidates for ransom. Their thieving days are over when they had to pick a fight with Kouchou and her district.

The top 3 – Eigetsu claims Jougen, the top spot for the official exam and becomes the youngest person in history to do so (beating Kouyuu’s record). The second spot called Bougen goes to Ryuuren while Tanka as the third place goes to Shuurei. So this year we have a kid, a weirdo and a woman taking the top 3 spots, causing all other ‘normal’ candidates below them fuming with jealousy. They’ve only got themselves to blame…

The mysterious sponsor – Reishin was Shuurei’s sponsor for the official exam.

Cleaning toilets and shining shoes – That is what Shuurei and Eigetsu have been assigned to do. Just because one is a woman and the other rejected offers from families who want to marry off their daughters to the smartest kid this year. It’s all about money and politics, isn’t it? Despite being mocked and bullied by other officials and successful exam candidates, they persevere and carry on. They’ve come this far and it would be so wrong to just throw in the towel and let those losers win.

What’s eating Kouyuu – Seeing Shuurei and Eigetsu being bullied around sure makes those with a heart feel sad. He can’t do anything about it due to his position. This has him remember his past how he was adopted by Reishin. He thought he was just a stand in because it was also the same time Shouka took in Seiran. Then he learns he never adopted the Kou surname was because Reishin didn’t want him to get involve with the dark politics of the Kou family. He was given Li as his surname because it refers to his favourite plum blossoms.

Heki Hakumei – The fourth placed candidate. Somewhat bitter over his placing and blaming the top weirdo trio for ruining it all. A big fan of Kouyuu, the reason he delayed taking the exam just to respect his record of being the youngest person to pass the official exam. Till Eigetsu came along and broke it. Just when he is to sit that year’s exam and ace the top spot, that’s when the trio came and ruined his ‘plan’. Although he does not bully the trio as much as other arrogant officials, eventually he indirectly helps them out by taking more chores upon himself. He is like what we call today as in tsundere…

The lost ring – The original and real official ring of the Sa clan goes missing. Lots of fakes start appearing. And as Enjun’s death already complicate matters, the Sa province is undergoing one hell of a messy state with power struggle and in-fighting without any proper governors to rule the place.

Conspiracy – Rumours quickly spread that Reishin rigged the exam so that Shuurei could pass. Being the cool guy he is, he accepts his ‘arrest’ but this is only the start of the consequences they have to face for messing with the Kou clan. For instance, the Kou clan goes on strike and cripples the economy. Shuurei is purposely confined by perpetrators so that she cannot attend the official hearing to prove her innocence (to show that she is guilty by running away). Eventually, with the entire town backing Shuurei, she manages to attend the court hearing and clear herself and at the same time expose the corrupt Sa official behind the plot who has been busily lining his pockets with a fake Sa clan ring. It was odd that the corrupt official who dared Kijin to unmask himself got more than he bargained for… He became a vegetable after seeing his face while everyone and the emperor turned their backs… Was it worth the look?

Appointment – Ryuuki appoints for the first time co-governors for Sa province: Shuurei and Eigetsu. Seiran will be their official bodyguard and Ensei along with Tei Yuushun (the assistant governor when Ensei was holding the governor post and still is) will be their assistants.

The confession – Before Shuurei departs on a long journey and duty that will part them for a long time, he confesses his love to her and will wait for her to come back. He’ll take no other women during her time away. It’s going to be lonely. Well, the emperor has made his feelings clear but why can’t Shuurei…

Ghost! – I thought Enjun’s appearance ended when he died. Seems he’ll make future ‘returns’ in the form of a ghost in some container that Yousei keeps! At least he takes on the appearance of his youthful days. I didn’t know this series had a supernatural theme to go with it…

The real ring – It’s in Yousei’s possession all along. That scheming old bastard…

The long and dangerous road –Shuurei, Eigetsu, Ensei and Seiran depart on their journey to troubled Sa province along with Kourin. There are attempts to rid of the new governors because of some ruling that states if the governors do not take their seats within 3 months, it will be automatically vacated and you know what this means for the power hungry Sa clan.

I know what you did last summer year – Kourin confesses to Shuurei about her poisoning but the latter already knows about it because Kouyuu told her beforehand. Nevertheless she forgives her.

Separated –While resting at a hotel, guards come to arrest the group. However Shuurei was made to hide by Ensei and was the only one not caught. Kourin is mistaken to be as Shuurei and her lady-like appearance fits the bill to deceive the perpetrators. While Kourin and Eigetsu are held in captive, Seiran and Ensei are thrown into prison.

Kinka – The commercial city of Sa province that the gang will meet up next while travelling separately.

Chuushou – Enjun’s younger brother and currently the acting governor of Sa province who seized power after his death. As part of his plan, he imprisoned Enjun’s widow, Eiki. He also planned an arranged between Shuurei and his second eldest grandson, Sakujun. Because killing Shuurei who is a direct descendent of the Kou clan would enrage and spark off unimaginable consequences-cum-backlash from the clan, the political marriage is also to gain a foothold in the clan as advantage.

Soujun –The eldest grandson of Chuushou with equally ruthless ambitions as his grandfather to be the next head of the Sa clan.

Satsujinzoku – A ruthless band of thieves that Ensei and Seiran was once part of. Now it is currently led by Meishou who was once the band’s second in command and policing Kinka.

Prison break – Thanks to the third grandson, the weakest but kind Kokujun, Ensei and Seiran are freed and this saves the need for them to break out.

Lin Senya – Shuurei seeks the Merchant Guild’s help to travel to Kinka and thanks to her Kou pass, she gets absolute respect and wish. But the one who will take her there is no other than a pretty but mysterious merchant in the name of Lin Senya. Instead of making haste to Kinka, all he does is laze around, making Shuurei play the erhu for him and flirt around with her. Hell, he even steals a kiss from her! Oddly, he only moves when news of Ensei and Seiran escaped. It’s like there’s more than meets the eye… Oh, he resembles a lot like Ryuuki too. So similar yet so different.

The real emperor seal and jade – Knowing that the Sa clan will try to seize these important items to prevent the new governors to do their duty, Ryuuki has hidden the real emperor seal and jade without even telling Shuurei or Eigetsu where it is. But he knows they can tell right away and it will arrive at the same time when they enter Kinka. Nobody could have guessed where it is… Because Ryuuren is the one delivering it! I guess in nobody’s right mind would like to deal with this eccentric. Perfect hiding place for anything.

Betrayal – Soujun thought he could have Meishou make an alliance with him. Instead he got betrayed and killed by Meishou’s band of thieves instead when the former thinks of killing Eigetsu and Kourin for deceiving him. Because Meishou had a better deal done with no other than the scheming Sakujun.

Slaughter house – Shuurei is supposed to meet Senya at his Kinka’s residence, Chrysanthemum House. But she was told by Kinka’s Merchant Guild’s leader, Sai Shou that the Lin clan had been massacred recently by Satsujinzoku. So who was the dangerous man Shuurei travelled with? And the Chrysanthemum House she arrives at is devoid of people, blood everywhere…

You should have guessed it by now – Guess who is Senya’s true identity… He is… Sakujun! Why am I not surprised? I can’t tell if Shuurei is in shock of this or paralyzed by his beauty when he flirts with her after revealing his real name. So much so the ‘farewell’ kiss I wonder was it deliberate to make Seiran mad. I’m sure he wasn’t jealous. Hope Shuurei doesn’t fall for the bad boy. Sakujun ‘borrows’ Shuurei’s hairpin and keeps it as memento or rather ‘hostage’ so that it serves as ‘motivation’ for her to travel to Sa province’s capital of Koren to meet him and get it back.

Staying back – As Satsujinzoku is driven out of Kinka and the mayor released from prison, Shuurei and co stay back to restore order and work things out with the mayor and Shou in the city before moving ahead.

Blockade – Suddenly there is an order to block entry paths into Koren with excuse to safeguard to new governors. This means Shuurei and co have to leave Kinka as soon as possible but Kourin is left behind so as not to drag her further into danger.

The emperor is coming – It may seem that Ryuuki secretly goes on a journey to Kinka to see Shuurei but the reason of wanting to see the situation at Sa province with his own eyes and to show he is not forsaking the place would sound better. Even if Shuurei is in trouble, he won’t interfere because it will be meaningless if she doesn’t overcome it herself. He is accompanied by Shuuei and Kouyuu. They missed Shuurei and co because they departed the day earlier. However they get to meet up with Seiran and Ensei to help take out Sa clan’s private army and clear the path for Shuurei’s carriage through. Even though Ryuuki didn’t get to see or meet Shuurei, knowing she is alright and doing her best would be suffice.

Home visit – Although Shuurei and co manage to ridiculously break through the block, the pay a visit to the home of Sho’s sister, Ran. Though she is not home, there is a couple of letters left for them and one of them being Shuurei’s invitation to the ceremony of appointing the new Sa head, which is the day before the new governors take oath.

Trying to be the hero – Kokujun tries to find a way to restore his clan and goes to confront Chuushou. However grandpa is not swayed and has him thrown into prison where Kokujun’s father has been spending his years.

Guest of honour – Shuurei visits the huge manor of Sa clan to meet with Sakujun. He allows her to do as she wishes. The place is so huge that it’s like a mini kingdom of its own. You can get lost. That’s what Shuurei got when she tries to find where Kokujun is being imprisoned and Eiki’s whereabouts. So many secret rooms and paths… At times Sakujun wants her to play the erhu, tie his hair and even make him her special Gan Lu tea but for the latter request, she turns him down despite his excuses and childish threats (he is going to kill himself if he doesn’t drink that tea of hers).

Shunki – Enjun’s granddaughter who has been living in exile and hidden, being taken care of by the brothers of some chivalrous thief group, Shourin and Youshun. She has some sort of special power and thus her voice was sealed by Eiki. I don’t remember, one night like as though she felt like destiny was moving or something so the brothers carried her and run all the way to Koren and meet up with Eigetsu and co. She’s never had a ride like this in her life… Along the way, they meet Ryuuren who gives them his family pass that allows them to enter Koren.

The map – Thanks to Shunki’s awesome memory, she is able to reproduce the map of the Sa clan’s little kingdom and has Shourin deliver it to Shuurei.

The big meet – Shuurei is brought to meet Chuushou. He wants her to give up being governor and marry Sakujun and live a luxurious life. However she refuses to give in to him despite his threat of burning down the province and will continue walking the path she believes in.

The voice – This is the reason why Shunki never speaks. It’s because the words she says becomes absolute. This proves useful when she saves Eigetsu and co from Sa clan’s little army. I find it rather odd because from this point on, she talks like normal and frequently like as though there was no curse at all. If she had this much control over her voice, shouldn’t she have spoken instead of keeping quiet?

A good old man is a dead old man – That is what is happening to Chuushou. He reaped what he sew? Shuurei and Shunki find him clinging on to life outside the entrance to the underground prison where Kokujun was held. He was stabbed. Guess who did it? Anyway the old fart died of his wounds.

Taking responsibility – Though Kokujun is released, he is still cowering in his lack of power, etc, blah, blah, blah. Shunki had to slap some sense into him that if he is unwilling to be the next head, she will. Can’t let a girl do it, can’t he? And so Kokujun sums up his courage to wear the ring and be the next head of the Sa clan.

Massacre plan – Chuushou’s initial plan was to lure all the Sa people into a building where the ceremony to appoint the next head will take place. They fail to realize the poorly built surroundings because a single collapse would have crushed and killed them all. If not for the sharp observation of Eigetsu and Ensei, everyone would have been pancakes. The idea of this massacre was to free the Sa clan from all the problems by killing everyone of them, the same act that Enjun did many years ago. With Kokujun as the new head, he will bear the heaviest responsibility and sin for the Sa clan. All the old farts of the Sa clan are arrested.

Drinking to death – Seiran and Sakujun enter a Russian roulette drinking game as they talk. Some of the liquor is poisoned and they take turns rolling the dice and drinking it. In the end after many rounds, Seiran is overwhelmed by the strong liquor and the signs that Sakujun have drank the poison began to show.

Game over – Shuurei looking for Sakujun finds him slumped by a tree. His mouth is bloodied and his body is weakened. He returns the hairpin to her as promised, kissed her lips with his bloodied lips and in the end, he realizes his love for her will never be returned. Shuurei is frantic to find him a doctor because death would be just too good for him. I’m pretty unsure if she does harbour feelings for him… Anyway Sakujun’s body was never found…

Can’t get you out of my head – Shuurei just can’t get Sakujun out of her head. Was it because she felt responsible and guilty over his death? So she does care for him in that sense. Although Ensei and Seiran did try to cheer her up, I think it is Ryuuren who was more effective. Maybe the warm hug did the trick. Not. Maybe it was his confusing words. She was the only one who could save him and thus the only one who could kill him. What? WHAT?! And with that, Shuurei cries her heart out in his arms. Ryuuren you lucky bastard!

The new governors, finally – Shuurei and Eigetsu take their oath to become Sa province’s governors. With the Sa province’s long outstanding issues solved, they also meet Yuushun for the first time. Well, actually their second. The first time was at Kinka when he was masquerading as a city mayor.

Work like a horse – Shuurei and Eigetsu waste no time in trying to bring Sa province back to its feet. I’m sure every country would love to have such dedicated governors like them but please, take care of your health. You won’t do the province any good if you’re both dead.

Research centre – As agriculture and other industries do not suit Sa province for long term revenue, it dawned upon Shuurei that it could be made as a research and academic centre where experts in all fields can gather and share their knowledge.

Yuushun x Rin – They’re getting married.

The return of the king governor – For the annual palace celebrations, Shuurei is advised to return to the capital as every province’s representatives will be there as part of the new year greetings to the emperor. Accompanying her are Seiran, Yuushun, Rin and Kokujun (the 7 heads of the coloured families will also be having their own gathering). When Shuurei and Yuushun finally get to see Ryuuki after a long absence, she doesn’t waste time in proposing Sa province’s future. Since everyone is eager to hear her plan, Ryuuki allows it.

Back home but… – Although Shuurei is back home and many earlier characters revisited, she doesn’t really act like she’s back home. Maybe she’s a governor now so she needs to act like one. But still, she manages to thank everyone for their support and makes a late announcement that she has returned home. They’re glad she has grown so much. Also, Ryuuki is acting more like an emperor so he didn’t really have that eager beaver meeting to meet Shuurei although she is back. Trying to make work as an excuse?

Reunited but does it feels so good? – Shouka sends Shuurei on a delivery mission but it’s some sort of setup to meet Ryuuki at the place where they first met. I’m sure they’re glad to finally see each other personally. I’m sure Ryuuki is so happy to see her that he again confesses his love and wants to kiss her. However Shuurei had to spoil it and won’t let him have it. Instead she reprimands the emperor for this and that. Even so, Ryuuki will wait for her no matter how long as she wants to continue moving forward. Yeah. Even that means forever. Forever… Forever… Forever… I don’t know if I can be that patient…

Season 2

After around a month’s break, the story of Saiunkoku continues. Was this single month break even necessary?

The proposalKurou, the proxy head of the Kou family and the younger brother to Shouka and Reishin talks to Kouyuu that if he is willing to take over the head of the Kou clan, he is willing to throw every support behind him but with a condition: He must marry Shuurei. This is also to help them grow and reach greater heights as Kurou opines they support each other greatly. I think he needs lots of time to think about it. But it’s making him so awkward each time she is around. Oh, how can he face her?

I want her for all myself – Because Reishin is still keeping his status Shuurei’s uncle a secret from her, looks like he is being bugged by the fact that Shuurei is now at a marriageable age and doesn’t want her to marry any of the colour clans. So? In fact, he is desperate enough to even think of marrying Shuurei himself!!! Well, it’s all up to Shuurei to decide. Boy, she’s really in demand.

So many to choose from – Even Ryuuki is not spared from being bugged from those old buggers who wants him to choose a wife. His response? Run away! I guess he knows this is the kind of responsibility he doesn’t want to shoulder. In no time we’ll start singing, Son you’ll be a bachelor boy and that’s the way to stay…

If you want something done, do it yourself – Yuushun and Rin intend to visit Shuurei’s home but she remembers the mess it is in. Roping in the guys made things worse. They made a mess out of things and only give more work for her to do. By the time she kicks them out so she can clean it herself, her guests are already here. There’s a side of Shuurei you don’t see often.

Gathering support – Trying to realize the dream of Sa province as a research centre is a mammoth task. A substantial amount of funds are needed and it’s something the treasury department isn’t willing to invest despite the plan being long term. So Shuurei has been going around collecting permissions from government departments and clans as support.

Kijin unmasked – Well, we didn’t see how he looks like but as he shows it to Yuushun and Ran, they didn’t become stunned or a vegetable but merely describes such beauty cannot even be replicated via painting… Somebody hand me a camera…

Doushu – Eigetsu reveals his past that he was taken in by this kind man. Otherwise he could have been killed by his own family members to cut their losses thanks to poverty. Under his wing, Eigetsu learnt about love and despite Doushu being betrayed and deceived sometimes, he still continued his ways of helping those in need. For he is a person who loves life! Is it no wonder Eigetsu admires him? Seems Doushu is living on borrowed time and when he passed away, it’s like Eigetsu knows of his passing and is saddened. Are their hearts really connected? Before Doushu died, he made arrangements of documents to be delivered to Shuurei. Because he knows Eigetsu has not much time left to live!

Fan of the flute – Guess what? Kokujun loves Ryuuren’s sound of the flute!!!! Serious! Has this guy ever heard what a flute is supposed to sound like?! Yeah, and they become like best buddies. I don’t even know what Shuurei can say more about this.

Alcohol kills – Because Eigetsu has been spending too much time in his work and somewhat neglecting Kourin (methinks she likes him), I don’t know why she had this idea of putting in his meal just to awaken Yougetsu. Then she is told the horrifying truth. The more Yougetsu is awake, the shorter Eigetsu’s life gets. So does that make Kourin an accomplice in killing him? So to keep him alive, keep alcohol away from him. See people? Alcohol kills! Eigetsu’s name was given by him and Getsu is his real name. Anyway, Yougetsu doesn’t care if he disappears forever.

Outbreak – In the Sa province village of Koringun, there is reportedly an outbreak of a mysterious epidemic spreading. Just the mention of the sighting of the white snow fox in that area has sent Eigetsu shivering. I suppose he has had deadly experience in the past.

Jasenkyou – Taking advantage of the epidemic, this mysterious cult blames Shuurei as the cause for the epidemic because coincidentally this never happened before a woman became a governor, right? Gullible people are led to believe that joining their cult will help them cure their disease but it would be even better if Shuurei’s head is called. Oh, the leader of this cult is named Senya… Curious…

Hyou Riou Sr – The mysterious head of the Hyou family makes contact with Shuurei at the palace grounds. The silver head is interested in her (as she reminds him of Bara Hime) while Shuurei is unaware of who he is but her guts makes her feel uncomfortable around him. Those who know this dangerous guy like Seiran, Shouka and Ryuuki, aren’t really keen of letting him near Shuurei.

Going at it alone – Because Eigetsu has not much time left, he heads to Koringun village alone to do what he can after bidding goodbye to Kourin. Hey wait. These 2 were in love with each other? Oh heck, there were signs but I didn’t really give much attention. But what are the chances of Kourin staying put and doing nothing? Yup. She goes looking for him too.

Half-life? – Seems Doushu died once before but Eigetsu pleaded with Yougetsu to transfer half his life to him, thus shortening his own even further. Because each time Yougetsu’s appearance means shortening Eigetsu’s life, he made a condition that he will only come out when called or being exposed to alcohol. Despite Yougetsu’s cold personality, Doushu still loves him as much as Eigetsu as they are both his precious children. But once Eigetsu dies, Yougetsu will take over as promised.

Kai Yuu– The old but handsome governor of the Koku province came all the way to deliver medical notes left by Doushu to Shuurei (Kai was also Eigetsu’s caretaker and sponsor for his exam). Kai wanted to be the next governor for Sa province but due to his age and distance, he wasn’t allowed to. However Shuurei is willing to resign and pass on her governor post to him if anything happens to her.

Parasites – Seems the disease is caused by worms and the snow foxes are carriers. People must have drank contaminated water containing the worms that hatch inside their bodies. Ugh. That’s why, always remember to drink boiled water.

Doctor! Doctor! – Learning about the epidemic at Koringun, Shuurei wants as many doctors as possible to head to Koringun. One of them includes the legendary doctor, You Shikou.

Practice makes perfect – Because the doctors have no experience in performing the surgery (the only way to save those infected by the disease as it swells the bladder), the doctors need to practice on cutting up livestock such as pigs. There is going to be lots of meat going around.

Court summon – Shuurei’s drastic actions does not sit well with some of the officials (some to the extent believe that she is the cause of the disease too) so she is summoned before the palace court to justify them. She argues valid reasons why she skipped so many protocols and procedures. Once everything has been approved, they’ll be dead, right? What’s the use of having such powers if you are not going to use them? Those words Shuurei used… Respect, man! Tell it those useless Imperial Court officials! Ryuuki is going to mobilize the use of the royal army but Shuurei refuses it, arguing that Jasenkyou may hold the people hostage. Military force and might is sometimes not always the answer.

Abducted – While Eigetsu is treating the sick people of another local but outskirt Sekiei village, he thought he saw a man resembling Doushu. He tries to follow him but gets knocked out. Seems whoever this crazy dude is, he is borrowing Doushu’s dead body (his real body is hidden somewhere) and imprisons and tortures Eigetsu in the cave where Jasenkyou’s base is. He doesn’t want Eigetsu but his other half. He is also used as a bait to lure Shuurei. Kourin has also arrived. However she gets mistaken to be Shuurei (again) and is imprisoned in a different part of the cave. She sees many sick villagers believed to have joined the cult by fear. I guess it proves that joining them doesn’t make the disease go away. And the body count is mounting every day. Thus Kourin takes it upon herself to cook and prepare clean water for the villagers but of course this is part of her plan to locate where Eigetsu is.

Kill me baby – I don’t know what’s going on in Shuurei’s mind because she has this absurd request to ask from Ensei. If she really is the source of the disease, she wants him to behead her!!! Does she really believe in that?! Why him? I guess when she narrows down all the likely people who would behead her, Ensei proves to be the ‘best’ choice. Huh?

Unruly mob – Although Shuurei and the doctors have arrive at Koringun, first they have to face the obstacles of soldiers not wanting her to get in as you know, she’s the cause of the disease. The soldiers almost killed their Mayor Hei when he goes out to greet them in a dangerous fashion. If the guards are one problem, the villagers are another set. Armed with farming tools, they are out to get Shuurei’s head. Like mobs who don’t think with their heads but their emotions, they refuse to hear any rational reasoning and continue to believe unfounded rumours. Selfish and stupid, they can even make statements of getting rid of the people of Sekiei too for fear their disease will spread because the entire village was brought here to seek treatment (it is known that the disease does not spread from human to human). Not even the tears of an innocent little girl, Shuuran could sway them. Shame on them, ironically it took their wives to give them an earful and back down. So stop resisting and get back to work!

The real thing – Although the doctors have been putting countless hours into their practice, when faced with reality, some cannot stand the sight of blood or cutting up real humans… Definitely not for the faint hearted.

Settling it once and for all – Once the doctors are in their grove to perform the surgery and the wives doing the job of stitching the patients back up, Shuurei and Ensei head to the mountainous cave to settle things with Jasenkyou as well as rescue Eigetsu. Tagging along with them are kids Shuuran and Riou Jr since they know the area like the back of their hand.

Ryuuren, unmasked! – Well, well. Ryuuren without all his fancy flamboyant accessories and dressing, he looks very plain! But handsome too. In this sense, he looks very odd. So to say we prefer him in his weird costume? He is at Koringun to rescue Eigetsu and from the looks of his face, he looks very worried and concerned about his soul friend #2.

Visions of you – I think Eigetsu is on the brink of death that he sees visions of Sakujun. He even scolds him for throwing his carefree life away because there are so many people dying who would want to live longer. Like himself.

Rescue mission begin – Kourin is being told by Shuuran (small enough to sneak into the crevices of the cave) where Eigetsu is being held. On pretense of changing water, she manages to locate him. Cue for emotional drama… Eigetsu: Don’t rescue me, rescue the villagers. I can get out myself. Somehow. Kourin: I won’t listen to you anymore… Sealed with a kiss?

Entrapment – Shuurei and Ensei enter the cave to face off with fake Doushu/Senya or Ren as we find out his real name is. She doesn’t know who this guy is. Apparently he used the Senya name to get her attention. Some flashback that he is doing this to please mother (females rule the Hyou clan with the exception of a certain guy). I thought I find it funny that he drew a magical circle in the middle of the cave and is trying to lure Shuurei to step into that trap. So close yet so far… Just a few more steps… Damn it, come closer… Whatever trump cards Ren had, he doesn’t anymore because the sick villagers in his captive are shipped out and Seiran and some of the army have infiltrated the cave and impersonating themselves as Jasenkyou members. Game over. But when Shuurei finally does step into the trap, her body is paralyzed and cannot move. But she is somehow freed with Riou Jr’s interference. He shows Ren his real decapitated head, meaning he is no longer useful. Game over for real. He drops dead.

Eigetsu dies – Right after Ren’s death, now it is Eigetsu’s turn, after saying goodbye to Doushu’s body. The rest thought he resurrected shortly but apparently it is Yougetsu.

Oops! Sorry, Eigetsu lives – Since when is this moody guy so kind? Because Yougetsu decides to revive Eigetsu enough for him to live till ripe old age. Till then, Yougetsu remains in comatose state. But it’s happy news for Kourin because she gets to be together with him. Unless…

The third wheel – Unless that damn Ryuuren stops hogging Eigetsu for himself! I know that guy is eccentric but he’s some sort of invading Eigetsu’s space, sticking so close to him like a leech. And Eigetsu is okay with it! Can this guy tell that his girlfriend is seething with anger that some guy is cutting in between them of some quality time? Get a hint! Go away! Is there some sort of adventure he should be getting into now? Maybe he doesn’t want to part with his soul friend after almost losing him. And so the battle to be with Eigetsu continues… But Ryuuren always seem to get the upper hand and unfazed…

Disappearing act – Those remnant members of Jasenkyou who are supposedly from the Hyou clan somewhat vanished from their cells. Magic? Don’t rule that out. Supernatural powers have always been associated with them.

Demotion – Despite the outbreak has been contained, some Imperial Court members are not happy. WTF is wrong with these people? Before they can move to discredit Shuurei whatsoever, Ryuuki moves in by relieving Shuurei and Eigetsu from their post for taking measures into their hands. Kai has been appointed to be the next governor of Sa province and Eigetsu will become his student studying under him. As for Shuurei, she will be immediately summoned back to the capital after the transition and given the rank of Joukan, an official without any government post.

Promotion – Yuushun has been promoted to Prime Minister.

Inspiration – Thanks to Shuurei’s efforts, not only she has the thanks from the people of Sa province, Shuuran is inspired to become an official just like her when she grows up. She wants to save people too. The fruits of her labour are starting to bear indeed. Hei becomes her guardian till she passes the exam.

Joker emperor – There was this recap episode in the guise of Shuurei’s report to Ryuuki, that emperor becomes like a dramatic joker while reading it out ever since the part Eigetsu died. WTF… I guess emperors need to let their hair down once in a while. In the shadows of course.

The Ten Commandments Conditions – Yuushun’s provisions to Ryuuki before he accepts his Prime Minister post. He must be one powerful visionary dude if he is in such position to make such demands.

Fakes and forgeries – There seem to be fake painting and counterfeit money circulating around.

The return of Santa – This guy may have leveled up a little and was bold enough to hint to Shuurei he wants to marry her. You might have guessed it by now. Shuurei is married to her job/ambition.

The melancholy of Santa – Santa said something that really got Shuurei thinking. She has been dismissed as an official, so why is she working her ass so hard? What is she trying to achieve/prove? Because the Imperial Court will still function and go on with or without her. Think about it. Despite those stinging words ringing so true, Shuurei isn’t a person who would just sit down and not do something. She must do something. Simply because Shuurei is Shuurei.

Heki Karin – A guest of Kouchou seems to be running around town verifying if paintings are fakes or not. Lively, energetic but a somewhat rude and brute to men. Beware, guys. She finds Shuurei cute. Is she some sort of piece of artwork too?

Shin Suou AKA Tan-tan – A lazy and carefree guy was asked by his father to go marry Shuurei because he will be promised some sort of government position. WTF. The idiot fails of course since he doesn’t try hard enough. Shuurei rejects him and he is okay with that. Besides, he did what he was told to but mission failed, right? What do you expect from a guy who buys golden ornaments including a tanuki (hence the Tan-tan nickname many calls him) and gets flushed away by the drain water. Despite looking like an idiot, this guy is quite perspective as he observes Shuurei’s behaviour and actions.

Heki Yukoku – Karin’s alias. Yukoku is believed to be the best artist around but the trouble is nobody ever sees this person as he moves from place to place. Ryuuki and co wanted to find him to get a portrait of him drawn. Imagine their surprise when they realize this crude woman is that said legend.

Locked child –With Shuurei and the gang figuring out and putting the pieces of the puzzle of the counterfeiting case, Tan-tan leads everyone back to his shed whereby they see a child making those drawings. He is Banri and Karin’s son and was somewhat duped into reproducing those paintings. Tan-tan’s dad seems to also be involved in the fake painting (unknowingly he brings them home since he is from the arts department and loves paintings) but not the counterfeit money. There is also a mould to make counterfeit coins and it is a serious crime punishable by death regardless of who the person is. In view of this, Ryuuki proposes that he had them made a mould for new trial coins.

Imprisoned – Due to Tan-tan and his dad’s involvement in the counterfeiting, they are thrown in prison. Shuurei and Seiran went to great lengths and procedures to bail Tan-tan but his dad isn’t so easy. Upsetting Shuurei more was that Tan-tan didn’t say anything to defend himself. Since Tan-tan is an official, Shuurei believes if he renders himself with some distinguished service before his father’s execution, it might save him as well. From time to time Tan-tan visits his father in prison and brings him handmade rice balls. Not the best but it tastes good if you’re stuck in prison especially if it was made by your own son.

Go get a job! – There is a proposal that joukans that are not useful will be dismissed within a month (Shuurei and Tan-tan are part of it). This is part of those against Shuurei to get rid of her once and for all. Worse, all the other joukans are being so pessimistic and lazy that it just pisses off Shuurei. Uh huh. You guessed it. She goes out of her way to help them out (since they pathetically begged her too). It’s not even her problem and yet she goes out her way to help them. Isn’t she the best or what? At this rate I think Shuurei is going to have wrinkles on her forehead. It’s very tiring trying to just keep up with these bums. She’s helping them so much that she didn’t have time to think about her own circumstances. Time is running out and she’ll be dismissed for real if she doesn’t land a job.

Riku Seiga – Unlike other joukans, this one is more helpful and helps out Shuurei whenever he can since he views Shuurei’s personality as interesting.

Inflation – Prices of salt seem to be rising as well. Not only that, salt is mixed with some other impurities as well. Shuurei thinks that this must have something to do with fake paintings and counterfeit money and that same person behind it must be pulling the strings. Those were perhaps just a distraction for this. Shuurei and Seiga work hard to trace the source of it and come to discover that many of the salt transactions pass through the Chin clan.

Too late? – Wondering why Tan-tan has not showed up recently, there is a rumour that his father has died. Shuurei once again becomes worried and recalls Tan-tan’s odd behaviour during the last time they met (he had her play her erhu).

The big break? – Shuurei with Seiga’s help finishes up the report and findings of the salt case. She spent the whole night writing it so it’s no surprise she is tired in the morning and sleeps on her desk. The next time she opens her eyes, her scroll report is missing. Who took it? That’s where Seiga’s true colours are revealed. He is an underground inspector of the government inspection section. He was on this case for months and had a case building and going till Shuurei and Tan-tan had to show up. He despises her and is the kind of guy who would sacrifice others to achieve his goal.

The big surprise? – Shuurei and Seiga never expected Tan-tan to pop up at the Chin’s residence when the guards are arresting the inhabitants of the manor and seizing their property. This place actually belongs to his mother or at least to the man she remarried. He is working under her as her servant but it seems she doesn’t even recognize her own son! Tan-tan found the real mould that made the counterfeit coins and this will prove that there is another person involved and his father’s sentence is uplifted. By the way, he isn’t dead yet since he managed to get him out of prison and let Seiran guard him.

Ki Kouki – The strict and no nonsense head of the government inspection section who also isn’t too fond about Shuurei. Although he still doesn’t hold favourable views about her, he ‘invites’ her to come work under his department to see whether she has got what it takes to meet his high standards. Tan-tan is also ‘invited’ since he views his idiocy to fool agents like Seiga a talent itself. Yeah. Having no talent is like a talent itself.

Riou Jr returns – First seen returning to the capital’s library with Ryuuki even confiding him for advice for his love for Shuurei (little kid thinks he should give up on that hard to get woman), he is later appointed as the head of the mystic studies department.

Passed – No joukans are dismissed at the end of the probation period.

Time to settle down – Ryuuki finally has decided to take on a wife. What?! Is he serious? After all that dodging and now he thinks it’s time to settle down? However he is going to maintain being monogamous. Hope he won’t regret it.

Juusan-hime – The princess of the Ran family is going to enter the imperial palace as Ryuuki’s wife. See Ryuuki? Don’t you wish having not made that statement so at least you can still get your hands on Shuurei?

Pseudo wife – Because Juusan-hime is going to be part of the imperial palace, there may be assassination attempts so Kouki assigns Seiga and Shuurei who is to pose as Juusan-hime and she must protect her with her life.

Prison warden – Since Shuurei is part of the government inspection department, she is given a prison to be in charge with. Ever since, the system and hygiene of the place improved so much so the prisoners don’t want to leave! Yeah. Even a hardcore prisoner who was mistakenly convicted didn’t want to. Life is so good with free food and accommodation, why leave?

Tousen Court – The annex of the imperial residence that Shuurei and Juusan-hime are going to live in for a while till Juusan-hime officially becomes Ryuuki’s wife. Oh, they’re like best friends now.

Fishing – Juusan-hime doesn’t exactly like fishing but she did fish one out just to let it eat the imperial palace’s food. Guess what? The fish turned belly up. Holy sh*t! What boggles me isn’t why the fish was eating human food, but rather how lax the security is. Didn’t they learn the last time? Or is the lenient security on purpose to draw out the assassins? Looks like it’ll be safer to cook herself.

It’s just a game – As Shuurei confides in Juusan-hime, she entering the Imperial Residence may just be a game set up by the Ran triplets to test the emperor’s reaction and capabilities. She deduces that the game is set with only one way out and if he fails to reach that, it’s game over. If he succeeds, the reward must be worthwhile.

Doing time – Shuurei investigates the deaths of 5 high ranking officials when she spots Ensei sitting in prison. Something about saving a woman and getting caught in a misunderstanding scuffle. Who cares? We know he’s back.

Tanned one eyed man – The mysterious man who waltzes in coolly to take on Seiga and the guards protecting the Vice Minister of Arms. He and his fellow assistant assassin leave when Ensei arrive in the picture, noting that half his mission is done.

Vice Minister of Arms – Deduced to be the culprit of what is currently happening. Because he offered to guard Juusan-hime, he made the security lax to facilitate the assassins’ work and let them in. He has a daughter of marriageable age and wanted her to enter the Imperial Residence. If Ryuuki did not do away with polygamy, he wouldn’t have resorted to assassination. Also, Juusan-hime was attacked while on her way to the capital but he failed in his attempt to assassinate her before so because it would mean a noble or official didn’t want her to enter the Imperial Residence. He also setup this failed assassination attempt on himself. However what if the assassins had other orders to kill? She looked into the dead officials and all had nothing in common except for one thing: They were related to the Vice Minister of Arms. Seiga’s mission is not to protect him but to arrest the man plotting the assassination attempt and was just protecting him from being killed off. Shuurei senses something amiss since if this was supposed to be a failed assassination attempt, the damage taken is too serious. Unfortunately prior to it all, an assassin stuck a poison blow dart in the minister’s neck so all that was for naught.

Shiba Jin – The name of the tanned one eyed man. Or is it Shun?

Hotaru – Juusan-hime’s real name.

The story so far – I’m confused. This is what is happening so far. Apparently Juusan-hime and Shuuei know who Jin/Shun is and aren’t happy he is now an assassin. He claims he is no longer a member of the Shiba family and that Jin is ‘dead’. Juusan-hime is Jin/Shun’s former fiancée. If everyone finds out that the chief assassin behind the killings was the son of the Shiba family, the leading family among the subordinate families of Ran, it would affect the Ran family. His masked assassin turns out to be Shusui. She is under some hypnotism and now that she is activated, she’ll never be free so Jin/Shun takes her under his care so that she can assassinate no more.

Case closed – Kouki closes the case after reading Shuurei’s report that someone has been quietly removing condemned convicts over the years and trained them to be assassins. The Vice Minister of Arms may be involved but somebody else did the hiring. He was murdered to ensure his silence and so it’s not over yet. But Kouki believes those low level assassins won’t know who the ring leader is and Shuurei’s emotion is clouding her judgment (since the leader of the assassin is somewhat related to the Ran family). It is set that the Vice Minister of Arms used assassins to murder officials so his daughter could enter the Imperial Residence. He failed and died. Case closed. If Shuurei can’t accept that, then resign or become more powerful than he is.

Leaving your majesty – Due to some circumstances that Shuuei has always been a member of the Ran family, thus the dilemma to stay by Ryuuki’s side. He has made his decision to leave him and they have a final dual in which I think he purposely lost so that he could replace somebody better and let him marry Juusan-hime. He returns his iris sword and returns to his clan. Although Ryuuki lets him do as he pleases, he still wants Shuuei by his side and will go and get him back.

Shuuei has left the palace – With Shuurei’s help, Shuuei manages to ride safely out of the capital since all the guards on duty become drunk and before Seiga could come interrogate him.

Honeymoon? – Probably to stave off certain people who are still concerned whether Ryuuki is going to marry Juusan-hime, his plan is to take her to Ran province as his guide. It backfired causing some to think he chickened out on his decision to take a wife and worse, it’s like they’re going on a honeymoon.

The art of persuasion – After failing to do her own snooping around in the office of the Minister of Arms (that guy was pretending to be absent to avoid interrogation) and after all that pleading, Shuurei manages to get Kouki’s permission to head to Ran province since she still hasn’t given up on investigating the Vice Minister of Arms’ case (along with the other minster murders and salt prices).

Last of the nobles – Kouki is the sole survivor of his distinguished Ki family. The previous emperor ordered the family’s execution.

Ou Ki – As described by Ryou Anju to be a noble among nobles. He desires the throne.

What’s eating Shuurei? –Ryuuki has Juusan-hime to confide to and accompany him through lonely nights. So why is she looking so sad?

Business trip – In addition to her trip to Ran province, Shuurei is tasked to bring Ryuuki back and investigate this guy called Jin. The clan expected great things from him but he murdered his father 5 years ago. He was supposed to be executed but somebody helped him escape. Was the Ran family involved? If so, Kouki can drag them out into the open and can impose death sentences if they are the ones pulling the strings and the order on Juusan-hime’s assassination. Oh, don’t forget to bring back food souvenirs for him too.

Kyuusai Cove – Seems many parties are heading here. Legend has it that Emperor Sou Gen and his sister Sou Youki battled and sealed 108 monsters in a mirror. But it cannot contain them and shattered. Youki played her erhu and the fragments turn into lakes in which they were sealed. Youki became the founder of the Hyou family.

Sea sick – Tan-tan seems to be vomiting throughout the voyage on ship.

Job division – Shuurei delegates the investigation with Ensei to investigate on salt, Tan-tan on personal management records of government and military officials and herself to look into Jin.

An eye for you – Jin was sent to kill Juusan-hime but they sat there staring at each other straight for 3 days and nights. Longest staring contest ever… She feels sleepy and allowed him to come closer if he gives her his eyes. Without hesitation he did it! He could have been blinded in the other eye had she not stop him. They ran away and spent time a lot together with Shuuei. She thought he was joking when he told her she was the only wife for him. And then he committed that murder. She blames herself for robbing Jin of everything.

Valley of the Lost – Basically that is what Kyuusai Cove is. People who walk into it get lost. Only the true emperor can reach the Hyou family’s shrine on its mountain. Oddly the Ran brothers never get lost in there. Ryuuki was told to stay away from it but since he is here…

Lost – Ryuuki tries to be a hero going to Kyuusai Cove alone. Needless to say, he is lost. Maybe the effect is in place… But heck, he has got 3 freaking cute pandas to keep him company during campfire!!!! While he thinks about Shuurei’s achievements and wondering the decisions he made as emperor was right as he feels he has been running away from his responsibilities. Yeah… Basically a big recap of the entire series so far… Don’t worry. With 3 cute pandas by your side, what can go wrong? So okay… He collapsed after walking for too long!

Walkthrough guide – After that horrifying waterfall ride (at least it cuts their journey to Kyuusai Cove by 3 days!), Shun offers to take Shuurei to where Ryuuki is. Oh, he is under orders to only bring Shuurei so she delegates them to gather duck eggs and mushrooms as per requested by Kouki for souvenir.

Hyou Ruka – When Shuurei finds sleeping Ryuuki in a dungeon, she is knocked out by Shusui. Actually Ruka, the older sister of Riou Sr who is currently possessing Shusui’s body.

I won’t give up! – Ruka mocks Ryuuki for not being a good emperor and wants him to abdicate the throne. He won’t. Enough said. In that case, die.

The lamest trick in the book – While Shuuei takes Ryuuki to escape from Shusui’s assassination, he is forced to use this lame trick to bring her to her senses. He calls out Shouka’s name. She stopped dead in her tracks. To totally snap her out, he slaps her.

You’re mine – Ruka thinks that having Shuurei’s body who shares the blood of Bara Hime will have Riou Sr look at her.

A father’s love – Ruka won’t be doing that so soon because Shouka won’t let her. He even goes as far as to break the mirror just to save his loved one. By breaking it, Ruka’s spirit is forced to return to her original body but also risks of freeing a terrible monster. Is a kaijuu manifesting?

Soothing the beast – Shusui plays the erhu to calm everything down. Sorry, no kaijuu.

Soothing the rain – Can you believe it? Ryuuren’s horrible flute is able to simmer down the rain!

Not going – Shusui decides to stay by Shun’s side instead of going back with the rest. She is tired of running and hiding in fear. She has decided to take care of her own problems. Even if she has no chance of succeeding, she can’t make others do this for her.

Shuurei’s wisdom – Juusan-hime is going to tell about everything about Jin. But Shuurei won’t hear any further. As she is not the official involved in this case, there is no way of knowing what truly happened. She deduces someone circumvented the law to save Jin’s life. Because Seiga once came here before and yet couldn’t do anything because of that someone who is a very powerful political figure who might be the Ministry of Defence, Son (who was Ran province’s governor then) or Ou Ki (who was the head of the government inspection then). She won’t make a move against them till she is sure she can bring them down. As for Jin’s case, if she was the official in charge, she would have executed him in accordance to the law. She won’t make any exceptions either. But if she had reflected on the circumstances before she passed sentence, she would try to change the law to stop the execution. She would have done everything she could to save Jin’s life so that everyone can walk in the sun again.

I choose you! – Ryuuki wants Shuuei back by his side. And he is saying this as his emperor. He wants an ally and not a friend. Shuuei reveals he won a bet against the Ran family’s triplets. He was finally able to tell which is the eldest. As a result he is disowned by the family and cannot use the family’s influence anymore. Despite Shuuei back by his side, the Ran family still does not intend to obey him. Even so, that is more than enough for Ryuuki. He returns his iris sword to Shuuei as he swears his loyalty and devotes his life to him.

You’re fired! – Shuurei learns that Tan-tan had reported on her to Kouki about entering Kyuusai cove. Because she unheeded his warning, she is to be fired. However Tan-tan resigned and took the fall on Shuurei’s behalf and he accepted it. Shuurei isn’t pleased that Kouki used Tan-tan’s father as hostage to use him to keep surveillance on her. Before Tan-tan and his family leaves the capital, Shuurei makes him promise to return the ransom money she lent him.

Promotion – Tan-tan’s firing was just a big lie because he actually got promoted to some supervisor position in a rural area.

The new chief lady-in-waiting – With Shusui no longer around, Ryuuki makes Juusan-hime her successor because he knows he can’t remain a bachelor for the rest of his years. Getting married is an emperor’s responsibility too, no? So if Shuurei cannot be the woman he marries, Juusan-hime will take her place.

Betting on marriage – Of course Ryuuki is still going to give Shuurei a chance. But they make a bet. From now until the promised time, if the time comes and she runs away then it is Shuurei’s win. He will not bring up the subject of marrying her anymore. Otherwise if she agrees to marry him within that time frame, he wins. It might seem disadvantageous to Ryuuki but don’t you think Shuurei has got a good deal?

Behind Every Success Is A… Shuurei!
Honestly, sitting down and watching the entire 78 episodes of drama isn’t really my cup of tea. While this series is not bad but personally it started to get a little bore on me. Uh huh. You can blame me about my odd tastes or something but as each episode dwindles down, I find it hard to keep up with the plots. Sure, I can generalize what happen in each arc but if you ask me to go deeper and explain it like those who love this series that this might turn into a piece of literature, sorry fans of the series, I’m just not into it. I’m more of into high school harem ecchi romance comedy kind of thing :p. It started out well at first (because it was something new) with Shuurei overcoming the odds and obstacles to do what she does best. Frankly, the first season and the start of the second season weren’t so bad. After the closure of the epidemic case in Sa province, that’s where I felt my attention span waning. And then the final arc about Shuuei heading home to his Ran province with their own brand of family power and politics was just too confusing for me to understand. To me that was the biggest downer and the end a series like that, not really impressed in my books.

Even though we have come a long way, it only seems that it is just the beginning of everything. Ou Ki trying to seize the throne and this is going to be another big arc. But nobody made another season out of it so it’s a big relief for me? With so many characters in the play, things can only get more complicated with plot over plot and twist over twist. Just like those Taiwanese dramas. Heh, haven’t watch those but I have a feeling it would be something like that. So with that last arc, many characters I feel sidelined like all those back in Sa province (Eigetsu, Kourin, etc) and even those back in the capital (Kouyuu, Reishin, Seiran, etc). It was just an arc trying to bring Shuuei back and partly make Ryuuki discover himself and his true responsibility as an emperor. I didn’t read the manga or the light novel it was based on either. But I did skim through the summary of what happened in the end. I think. Let’s say it’s something tragic and bittersweet. Perhaps more bitter.

The plot development and flow of the story feels okay although there are certain events that are left unexplained or left to your own imagination. For example, Sakujun’s body. Common sense dictates he is dead but who was the wise guy that moved his corpse? Unless Sakujun himself dug a hole and buried himself. Hah. Anything is possible. Because of the supernatural elements present in this anime, I thought sometimes they might just want to stretch it. Like how Yousei and Enjun can turn into their young handsome form. I know Chinese mythology is filled with lots of supernatural and mystical power stuffs but I feel putting it in this anime somewhat feels unsuitable. Especially with the Hyou family that dabbles with such mystic arts. Then there’s the part where Yougetsu who was so waiting for the day to take over Eigetsu when he dies, and when the time comes, he just go into indefinite coma so that we could have our little happy ending on his side.

Shuurei does well as the main character and even better especially it is because she is female. She is something that all of us should strive to be. Not many people in this world are as selfless as her and for her to overcome the odds stacked against her and all the barriers placed before her one after another, she doesn’t give up easily and holds firm to what she believes in. She may have an easier time if she was living in this era but considering back in those ancient days where women’s rights are never heard of, she does well to stave off the stereotypes and negatives cast upon her. Although there are many more out there who are willing to bring her down instead of concentrating to do good for the benefit of the people. Therefore I can say that Shuurei really does put some men in high ranking position to shame because she speaks via her actions and takes them on the best she can. Heck, she even did lots of odd jobs before her stint as official. From doing accounting work at a brothel and being teacher at a local school, she is going to have an impressive resume. So do you not see why she is the perfect woman/housewife that every guy dreams of? The only question is, are you good enough for her?

The only minus point about her is that she has no time for romance. I mean, we are watching this kind of genre and how do you expect not to see love especially between an emperor and his ex-concubine? It is good that she puts the people first and there is nothing wrong with that. It shows that she is dedicated and true to her ideals. But before an official or a statesman, she is still an ordinary woman, right? How can a woman her age not be interested in love and romance and instead would prefer to be some sort of hardworking geek? Then again, only shallow minded people like me would think so :(. The point is, it is sometimes annoying to see her pushing away Ryuuki when he tries to make an advance on her, giving all sorts of excuses. I believe he may not be a perfect emperor and still inexperienced but I think his love for her is really genuine. There is always that danger that they may get distracted and not get their job done if they fall too deep in love. The way I see it, I can’t even tell if Shuurei has romantic feelings for Ryuuki. Yes, she likes everybody. Like how she likes everyone else. But that kind of romantic feelings which makes you feel like you want to dedicate yourself to him wholly doesn’t feel there. Unless she’s a good poker player. Anyhow, even if Shuurei didn’t get to marry Ryuuki, let’s just take heart that she is at least married to her job :). Haha!

Ryuuki too is trying his best. Nobody is born a genius and you always start out as an amateur or rookie. So I don’t actually see what the big fuss was that he wasn’t doing his job properly or running away. Maybe I couldn’t see the big picture but I thought he was doing a decent job in trying to be fair to everyone and rule fairly. If they’re comparing him to the great previous emperor, maybe. But Ryuuki is Ryuuki and the ex-emperor is an entirely different person. So let him do his job and I am sure everything will be just fine. He may act a bit childish at times but hey, he’s the emperor. And he is still human no matter how you put it. Don’t worry, we see he has lots of support to go around so he is not alone. Whenever he is lost, there’ll be somebody to bring him back.

As said, there are many other characters too. Some major roles some minor and some you tend to forget if you don’t go back and do your revision like how you did for your school homework. I don’t think I want to blog on them all. Because that will be major boring, right? You know guys like Eigetsu, Seiran, Ensei, Shuuei, Kouyuu and everybody else are good people and they do what they can in their roles. Tan-tan makes a major impact in the second season since he is a complete opposite of Shuurei and sees things more objectively so in a way he is there for her own good. Some characters I don’t know what their roles are when they return like Riou Jr and Shusui. Maybe it’s just foreshadowing of something later. Therefore I would like to say that the best and most amusing character goes to… Ryuuren! You can’t beat this guy because he is in a world of his own. He is in a pace of his own. He does what he wants. Nobody can drag him down. Even enemies would rather not get involved with this eccentric guy. Like the shadow, he appears anywhere, any time and may even spring a surprise or two. Even though in the final arc he casts away his fancy feather cape and flamboyant outfit, he still is as peculiar as ever. The funny part of him playing his horrible flute seems to be the running joke of the series. Ironically, he is so good at everything except playing the flute. Feels like as though it is not like he has no talent to master it, he is just playing horribly just to piss us off! That is his love to us! Oh Ryuuren, this series should have more episodes on you.

Despite the entire anime mainly revolves around drama, there are a few comedy bits too but nothing major that would generally categorize this anime as a comedy genre. Like Ryuuren’s flute playing and everyone’ reaction to it. That’s funny, right? How about Kouyuu the master of getting lost and blaming the place moved itself without telling him?! Shuurei getting annoyed or panicking or flustering, that’s funny too, no? Or in a handful of episodes after Seiga’s true devil personality is revealed, in the next episode preview sometimes Shuurei is so angry, upset or stressed that she would really want to take it out on him! That’s okay, right? So unbecoming of her. Fighting scenes aren’t this anime’s forte so don’t get your hopes too high up when you see the army or mob clashing their weapons. It just feels one kind. Makes you feel that they are better off sticking to the drama types. And of course the romance part. I already touch on the when-is-it-going-to-happen Ryuuki x Shuurei that would leave many frustrated. The same case with Eigetsu x Kourin but they are taking theirs slowly and since they aren’t the main stars, once the Sa province problems are over, that is so much you’ll hear from them. With so much hot guys in this anime, sometimes it is hard not to wonder if there is going to be a yaoi moment especially between Ryuuki, Shuuei and Kouyuu. It might have been if the emperor was really gay.

The drawing and art really depicts the very Chinese style from their clothes, hairstyle to the buildings so you might be mistaken that you are watching a series set in China instead of Saiunkoku. Of course the characters are given the bishonen and bishoujo treatment as many of the young men do have that handsome look and the women pretty by themselves. Sometimes I can’t help feel this is a reverse harem series since Shuurei is surrounded by lots of gorgeous men. Why not? She seems to be the only female official around, right? Just too bad that romance isn’t in her books. Madhouse Studio produces this anime. They also did Ace Wo Nerae, Cardcaptor Sakura, Black Lagoon, Death Note, Galaxy Angel, NANA, Paradise Kiss and Tenjou Tenge among the many other series under their belt.

In a long time, I have never heard of a long running anime series to never change its opening theme song. That’s right. For 2 full seasons, the breathy Hajimari No Kaze by Ayaka Hirahara remains the opening song from start till finish for every episode. Though, the opening credits animations for both seasons change but essentially the song remains the same. That saves a lot of costs, right? Anyway, I thought this song sounded a bit like Mr Big’s To Be With You (at least the chorus part). Saikou No Kataomoi by Sachi Tainaka is the ending theme for the first season and is a slow lovely piece. For the second season, Asu E by Teruya Miho. Another slow piece but slow enough to make me think that this kind of song is those you sing during your graduation ceremony or when you part with somebody. Like Auld Lang Syne? Uh huh. It has this sad feel that you might cry… I noticed the various background music and a big majority of them have this Chinese feel since they are using Chinese instruments like erhu and flute. However during certain scenes I noticed that they play non-Chinese type of music ranging from Latin flamenco, Indian or Arabic tunes and even Hawaiian strings! Because those kind of tunes stand out in such a Chinese themed anime, I thought it sounded plain weird and a mismatch. Sampling the original soundtrack with some tracks having modern music from piano and violin solos, it made me wonder if this is truly for the Chinese themed anime. But of course that is just me and the music isn’t all that bad actually.

Overall, despite the reasonably lengthy number of episodes (heck, it is better than a certain ninja and pirate series that are still running. In another decade, I speculate they could even breach four digits!!!), this is still a worthy drama to check it out because mainly Shuurei is a good lesson for all of us to learn. At least I know I don’t want to become like her because I don’t want to be burdened with so much hard work and worries XD. Leave it to somebody who cares XD. Therefore we can only hope and dream if every politician these days are like her, definitely guaranteed a peaceful and prosperous world! But then again, life would have been boring without all those controversies, scandals and antics. Somebody needs to be the bad guy and looks like they get highly paid to do a ‘good job’. So the biggest lesson and moral of the story… For behind every success, there is always… Yourself! For behind every failure there is always… Yourself! Because you decide your own destiny with your own hands.

Here comes the bride… All dress in white… Eh? What do you mean they are not married yet? I thought judging from the title, Muneakira would have been married to Juubei or at least with one if not all of the other females around him! I guess it is partly my fault for trying to judge the storyline based on the title. Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Bride indeed is the sequel to Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls but this season it is not about seeing which of the girls fight over Muneakira’s attention and becoming his wife. The threat over Great Japan still looms. Yeah. Even if our heroes barely managed to save the day with the skin of their teeth in last season’s finale from the rampage of the deadly Shiro Amakusa, there are still other threats that want to bring Great Ol’ Japan down. What is it that makes people want to crush Japan? Why is it that some hate it so much and others love it obsessively? For the latter, I know it’s because of anime, manga and games! Wohoo! Ahem… And so it is up to our heroes once more to save Japan. But what does this bride thing has got to do with it anyway?

Episode 1
Nia and her army take on the Dark Samurais at the grave. Muneakira has finally returned after a trip that lasted him 6 months. It also has been that long since the events of that last battle and he has trained and improved himself to prevent Amakusa’s revival and protect Great Japan. Back at the dojo, he meets Matabei and summarizes his journey. Though he has lots to learn, he notices the mushrooming of maid cafes all over Japan and is glad it hasn’t caught up back here. Looks like he has to eat his words because the dojo has turned into a maid cafe! True Shadow Maid Cafe welcomes you! Juubei in a maid outfit too?! So what happened when he was gone? Apparently Yukimura invested her shares and bonds and due to the Leiman Shock (that’s Lehman, right? Nyuk, nyuk), she lost all her investment so this maid cafe is a way to make money. Shouldn’t they get some reward from the government after that last heroic battle? Apparently they got nothing because Yoshihiko was declared the hero and gotten all the reward. Sen and Yukimura blame each other but Muneakira hoped at least they would do something more respectful to make money. But they want fast money. Easy money. Plus, they have put the dojo as collateral for loan to open up the cafe so if everything goes bust, so will the dojo. Just great. No choice, Muneakira has to resign to fate, cast away his samurai pride and work alongside them. He feels somebody is missing. Darn right. Apparently the girls sent Kanetsugu to hand out flyers of their cafe’s opening at the graveyard!!! Will she invite ghosts? What a way to get rid of that annoyance. Anyway, Kanetsugu really thinks there are ghosts because 4 Dark Samurai babes see her flyer but are interested to know the location of Yagyuu Dojo. Imagine their shock when they find the place as a maid cafe. This can’t be it, right? Since they’re here, they become customers and because they have that super black credit card, wow, superb service. Especially Juubei with Moe-Moe-Kyun-Kyun omelette rice special. And the rest are scheming to increase fees and service charge. Ripping them off… But they got our heroes’ attention when they are looking for Juubei. They don’t believe this maid to be the real one. However they realize Muneakira is the real deal. Finally Kanetsugu returns but sees no one in and thinks everyone is slacking off while she works her butt off. Oh… They’re outside preparing to fight. Don’t want to wreck the collateral, eh?

Kanetsugu is not happy that she has been tricked and on top of that, she is being insulted by her comrades that she was the one who showed the Dark Samurais the way here, she decides to take things into her own hands and charge at her enemies. However she was easily taken out. This has the gang look at them seriously. Sen detects their power on par with Master Samurai. Muneakira wants all of them to transform into Master Samurai but it seems Juubei can’t transform. Could it be for real that her other self has left since that last battle? The Dark Samurais are getting impatient to face the real Juubei and know they are lying about her taking a trip. They claim they are stronger than any Master Samurai. To prove that, Musashi Miyamoto easily nullifies Muneakira’s General power and blasts him away. Then Kojirou Sasaki easily penetrates Yukimura’s defence to defeat her. Mataemon Araki is faster, more powerful and strikes Sen out with a single blow. Inshun Houzoin binds and absorbs Muneakira’s essence. There are chains over his arms and this is a sign that his General powers have been sealed. It will become permanent if he doesn’t do something about it. In the end he will lose all his General abilities and never wield a sword again. They will wait for 1 month for them to bring the real Juubei to them. Muneakira admits defeat that they are not strong to beat them. The curse is real and it seems he can’t even hold his sword. They really need the other Juubei. Next day, they are surprised that Musashi returns. Hey, nobody said she couldn’t come back as a customer, right? Besides, she didn’t pay yesterday’s bill. It’s going to be hefty since Kanetsugu’s bill costs a bomb. But that was her own fault, right? And all because of money, they have to serve her as usual. Yeah. Musashi likes that Moe-Moe-Kyun-Kyun spell… Can you believe it? They lost to somebody like this. Don’t tell me they’ve gone weak.

Episode 2
Yukimura and Sen notice the Master Samurai seal on Juubei’s cleavage which proves that Muneakira’s General power still remains. They need Juubei to transform if they are to stand a chance with the Dark Samurais. There seems to be an intruder breaking in and only stealing Yukimura’s panties. She is somewhat happy and happier if the culprit is Muneakira. What makes her think it’s him? He has been journeying alone for so long and deprived of female contact and so when he returns, his horniness takes control. Some theory. Sen does not approve of it and in the event if it’s true, she’ll dance naked in front of everyone. Better hope it isn’t true. So while Yukimura hatches her plan to seduce Muneakira, Sen tries to find out where Muneakira keeps the stolen panties in hopes to clear his name. So far so good. When Matabei is doing the laundry, she senses something steal Yukimura’s panties she is about to wash. Muneakira stumbles upon a funny looking monkey outside and since it is hungry, invites the monkey to eat some fruits. Matabei reports to Yukimura and this leads them to think this is an inside job. Because Matabei’s smelling sense is like a dog, Yukimura makes her small her panties so she can sniff out where the perpetrator is. Muneakira notices the monkey’s bag and opens it to find panties. Yeah. That’s when the girls come in and misinterpret the situation. Muneakira the panty thief? The monkey tries to escape in the midst of the chaos but was caught. Yukimura recognizes it as Sasuke Sarutobi. Before she and Matabei left for the academy, Sasuke tried to follow but was banished. Sasuke is the one who is stealing all the panties because she was desperate to see them and had to stave off her loneliness and resort to stealing. Ironically, Juubei is the only one who can understand monkey language. I guess they are familiar in that sense. But Juubei doesn’t make a good translator since her Japanese isn’t so good. Back to square one. Sasuke found this place when she was lost in the graveyard and a girl (Inshun) pointed the direction.

Kanetsugu is one unhappy girl. Because this place is not enough for 2 pets! Yeah. The dog and the monkey. So she admits she’s a dog? They become great nemesis. And you thought cats and dogs were natural enemies, huh? But Sasuke proves to be ‘smarter’ than Kanetsugu and manages to get the dog to get all riled up. When Musashi visits the cafe again, Kanetsugu is bent on showing she is the number one maid. She didn’t realize Sasuke stole her panties so Kanetsugu flashed her naked butt at Musashi!!! Late that night, Sasuke tries to leave the place because she overheard Yukimura concerned about their living expenses. If Sasuke stays, their food expenses will increase and they are already in the red zone without the monkey. But Sasuke bumps into Juubei and Muneakira. Juubei can tell she is leaving and doesn’t want her to. Kanetsugu heard the ruckus and won’t allow the monkey to leave after that humiliation and have a score to settle. She manhandles the monkey and throws her back into the dojo so Muneakira tries to catch it but trips and falls into the pond. At the same time, his lips meet with Sasuke’s and the monkey transforms into her human version of Master Samurai! Unbelievable! Hanzou confirms her Master Samurai attributes and this proves Muneakira’s powers are still working. Thanks to Sasuke, their maid business thrives because all the girls are flocking over to see this cute Sasuke. Whether in human or monkey form, they love her! Kanetsugu is sulking as she is worried she will be kicked out at this rate. But if she has time to sulk and slack off, might as well take a first class ride back to her hometown! Get your ass moving!

Episode 3
Kanetsugu comes up with a maid competition. The one that generates the highest revenue will be number one and the lowest one must leave the dojo. Obviously, a ploy to kick out Sasuke because she is confident she is still a monkey. Easy victory? That’s just in theory because Sasuke is clearly leading the competition! Not only Kanetsugu is in dead last but her score is negative!!! Don’t blame cheat codes or anything! Kanetsugu spies on the rest and they are doing relatively well. At this rate, she fears she’ll be the one sent packing. Thinking it is because Sasuke had Master Samurai powers, Kanetsugu plans to seduce Muneakira. That’s one hideous makeup she put on. She creeps in only to hear something disheartening. Despite the increase in sales, they are still making losses because of Kanetsugu! She is the root of the problem as Sen and Yukimura point out. Every time she screws up, the deficit increases. They can’t afford to keep her any longer. Muneakira doesn’t think so. He views her as one of them and came up with this competition to save this dojo. That’s why they can’t afford to lose such great comrade. Touching. After he leaves, Kanetsugu continues to eavesdrop the girls. They know how Kanetsugu thinks and can guess she is planning to become Master Samurai. When her cover is blown, they tell her not to do stupid things that put them into more debt. The truth hurts. And it must be really hurt deep inside because Kanetsugu is not reacting back with her idiotic behaviour. And so Kanetsugu packs her stuffs and leaves. Sasuke sees this and follows her. The rest realize Kanetsugu is gone for good not only she isn’t to be found anywhere, the dog kennel she lives in is also missing! They go in search for her and hope Sasuke is with her seeing the monkey is not around too.

I’m not sure if Kanetsugu got lost but she bumps into Mataemon who seems to be exuding some blood thirsty evil aura. She is going to kill Kanetsugu but Sasuke transforms to fend her off. Muneakira and Juubei see banana peels and realize Sasuke must have left tracks for them to follow. Sasuke’s transformation is limited so Kanetsugu has to fight back herself. Unfortunately her hammer broke when she charges straight in. She gets beaten up so that Sasuke could escape. It’s not that Sasuke really wanted to escape, it’s just to bring Muneakira and Juubei for help. By the time they arrive, Mataemon has thrown Kanetsugu into the river. Muneakira dives in to bring her back up. However she is not breathing. He becomes frantic trying to revive her via CPR while Juubei and Sasuke try to hold off Mataemon who is slowly inching closer. Kanetsugu could hear Muneakira’s voice and feel his tears. The mouth to mouth resuscitation is like a kiss, right? And finally it is this joker’s turn to become Master Samurai! Believe it! With her new powers, Kanetsugu is able to go head on with Mataemon. In the end, Mataemon is awakened from her spell so she lets her off the hook by letting them live. And Kanetsugu was so confident she smashed her into a pancake. Ah look. Her new hammer is totally smashed. When the other girls arrive, they are shocked to see Kanetsugu’s transformation. Sen and Yukimura are not pleased Muneakira has kissed her. But that’s due to circumstances, right? A kiss is still a kiss. Kanetsugu’s transformation proves that she still trusts him. Everyone returns home and this means Kanetsugu too. Yes. The dojo is her home. Where would the fun be without the resident idiot?

Episode 4
Kojirou is not pleased that Musashi continues to patron True Shadows and warns her about losing sight of their goal. Yukimura is happy business is making profit but due to the opening of another maid cafe nearby, they need to hire another maid. However Gisen is back! And she wants to be employed! She assures them that Amakusa will not be resurrected at least for another 100 years and has some rather useful information for them. As we all know about Master Samurai, there is also something called Samurai Bride AKA the Sword Princess. It is the most powerful samurai ever and only one can inherit that. However she is not sure of the methods to become one. Though Juubei is willing to accept her, Muneakira can’t easily trust her seeing the last events how she manipulated them with her Evil Eye. Gisen easily unties herself from Hanzou’s S&M knots and will leave. Since they can’t have a dangerous person walking around freely, I guess they accept her employment. She is made to stay in an annex building with Juubei gladly guarding outside. That night, she has Juubei call Yukimura. She thinks she knows a way to become a Samurai Bride and views her as the most suitable one. Maker herself bustier. And so Yukimura starts drinking milk. Can she finish all that? Net, Gisen calls for Sen and tells her the same thing but this time the thing she needs is spirit and endurance. Sen undergoes Hanzou’s S&M training. Lastly Kanetsugu is summoned and is told she needs to do something more than just kissing. She got so embarrassed on what that next step is that her dog kennel exploded! As we all could have guessed, it is Gisen’s ploy to see which of those methods are correct. Or will the General hold the final decision? Juubei also wants to help out so Gisen gives her a task to practice her swings in secret 10,000 times.

Next morning, True Shadow is closed because our Master Samurais were up doing their ‘training’. Muneakira is surprised Yukimura is busty, Sen is elegant while Kanetsugu waltzes in with nothing but her panties! They are trying to seduce him but end up fighting with each other when Kanetsugu spins Sen and unveils Yukimura’s fake boobs. Yeah. There’s no way they could have gone that big overnight. It’s such a sorry state that after getting out of the red, now they’re back in it. Because True Shadow is closed, the customers are upset for waiting so long in line and some don’t even want to come again. Kojirou sees Musashi visiting again despite her warning and vows to kill Juubei. Muneakira goes to see how Gisen is doing but falls into her trap as she tries to seduce him. Sen and Yukimura get their stories straight and realize they have been had by Gisen. They enter the annex and misinterpret Muneakira may be doing something funny to her. Gisen was this close in verifying his General strength. Wink, wink. Of course she flees as she notes she still failed to verify his ability. Kojirou approaches Juubei who is now 9,500 swings and counting. Kojirou mentions she will kill her and puts on her visor that hypnotizes Juubei to die by falling down the stairs. Luckily she is saved by Gisen and snapped out of her spell. Kojirou is surprised to see her alive and not too happy Gisen is on Juubei’s side. Gisen threatens to use her Evil Eye and test to see which of their abilities is stronger. Kojirou escapes seeing Muneakira is coming into the picture. When the other Master Samurai girls arrive to give their piece of mind to Gisen, she suddenly apologizes like a guilt ridden girl. Is she putting up an act? They can’t tell. But they find out she saved Juubei and her punishment will be to work really hard at the cafe. Muneakira concludes she must have lost he Evil Eye because she could have used it but didn’t. He doesn’t think her Samurai Bride theory is a lie and was just using them to test out different methods. She is after all planning to be Amakusa’s Samurai Bride. Sen and Yukimura turn their attention to Muneakira asking him which one of them he should choose to become Samurai Bride. Certainly not a monkey or dog, right? Of course he can’t answer that and runs away.

Episode 5
Hanzou hosts the first ever M-1 Grand Prix, a competition between maid cafes and the finalists are True Shadow (consist of Sen, Yukimura, Juubei and Gisen) and Kengo Restuden that consists of the Dark Samurai quartet. Flashback reveals that True Shadow is experiencing slow business due to the mushrooming of many maid cafes. Muneakira thought this would be last on their list to participate but Gisen had an idea that by joining and winning would increase their popularity. So with 128 teams in the fray and with matches ranging from the norm of cooking and studying to the ridiculous such as plate spinning (is this a circus?) and sleeping (WTF), the event is narrowed down to 2 teams. Of course there is a reason how those 2 got there. Because Yoshihiko gave permission to use his name and left them in charge of organizing it, Sen and Yukimura used all means necessary to attain easy victory. They also locked up that troublemaker (read: that dog) so she won’t cause any trouble (I guess that’s why she’s not part of the team). However she causes a stir when she comes flying in for being left out but flopped of course. Thank Sasuke for bringing that idiot away. As for the Dark Samurais, they decided to participate because Musashi felt Juubei emanating her own energy. She didn’t felt it at first but her frequent visits showed she had something. That’s why they will participate to find out. Although Sen and Yukimura receive their application, their plan to approve is so that they could observe their abilities. Hanzou is supposed to wait for the right timing to press the button so that the match ups will be advantageous to them. However Kanetsugu interrupted the show slightly. She lost count and they end up in unfavourably line ups. There goes Yukimura’s strategic planning. Matabei has been tasked to record everything from the sidelines. The first match is capture the flag and pits Inshun against Gisen. At first it may seem like True Shadow’s easy victory with Gisen making a fast dash. But she went to secure Muneakira’s ‘stick’ instead! Cool Inshun captures the flag and wins it. And Muneakira gets blamed for sabotaging…

The blindfold battle has Kojirou up against Sen. They must traverse a field with mines to smash a watermelon while having their visions covered. Sen trips at first go. Kojirou easily avoids all the bombs and cuts up the watermelon nicely. Sen thought she eventually hit the watermelon but it was Muneakira’s head. How on Earth? With 2 losses, Sen uses her dirty trick by using a voiceover as Yoshihiko that the next match will be awarded 4 points. Mataemon will take on Yukimura in an endless hula hoop battle. The first one to drop loses. Yukimura teases Mataemon she is not fast enough so the latter spins faster till everybody flies away. I guess True Shadow lost again, huh? With the last match left, once again Sen abuses her authority to make an announcement as Yoshihiko that the last match will get 8 points. All the earlier matches didn’t matter, eh? Besides, there is no crowd. Either they got blown away or walked away due to the ridiculousness of everything. So in this sword battle, Musashi and Juubei must not only fight each other but avoid traps planted in the area. It got off to a bad start when, you guessed it, Kanetsugu rushes in and accidentally activates all the traps. Musashi slices and dices through all of them. Yeah. It felt all the traps were aimed towards Musashi, eh? Once the idiot is taken off by some tentacle squid, Musashi has had enough of this farce and will be getting serious. Muneakira jumps in to concede defeat so Juubei doesn’t have to fight but Musashi isn’t listening. She hits him away and this causes Juubei to get upset. So mad that she emits a deadly aura. This is what Musashi has been waiting for. They collide and it leaves a huge crater in the sand. Musashi walks away and concedes defeat since she has finished her business here. She hopes Juubei will regain her full power by the deadline. And so M-1 Grand Prix is won by the unlikely Team True Shadow! After all the tricks and string pulling, it’s not hard to see why.

Episode 6
Some pretty babe is giving the Dark Samurais a worth of their money. They can’t touch her and her boobs fetish is getting to them. Just when they are about to get serious, she escapes via her badass bike. Kanetsugu is appalled that True Shadow is closed! What gives?! Didn’t she hear last night’s meeting? Yukimura calculated that they have cleared their debts from M-1 Grand Prix’s winning prize money and thus no more reason to continue this cafe. Kanetsugu is not going to accept that but wasn’t she there are the meeting too? I guess she was spacing out and not listening. That’s her problem, right? Also, last night they had a meeting about ki training. Apparently when Matabei showed the footages of the Dark Samurais, they exerted lots of ki energy. It is a reason why they are holding such immense power. Juubei too did emit such ki during the final moments but perhaps she was doing it unconscious. The problem is now learning how to use it if they’re going to defeat the Dark Samurais. They heard this Keiji Maeda of Yonezawa is a great ki master and looking through the records she was once a student of this academy. Since she hates men, a reason why Muneakira didn’t find her during his journey. Yukimura orders Matabei to track and bring back Keiji here since she has a very keen sense of smell and will not be fooled with the master of disguise as well. Instead of waiting, the rest will train and do whatever they can. Kanetsugu can’t take this crap and throws a tantrum but when Muneakira touches her to calm her down, she blasts him away into the sky. So as the gang begin their ki training first with meditation, sour puss Kanetsugu starts sabotaging by pouring slipper oil. If this is what breaks their concentration, they are just no good, right? Only Juubei takes her seriously. Next is the bath but the water is hot. Again, sore loser Kanetsugu is the one behind this. Can stand the heat, ladies? Only Juubei endures it. Then when they meditate under the waterfall, Kanetsugu drops the logs! While the rest ran for their lives, Juubei is the only one standing in place and because of that all the logs miss her.

Fearing the loser will do something to the dojo, they rush back and need to get to her. Sen sends Hanzou in first and she falls for an obvious trap. Shameful. Muneakira wants to sincerely apologize. Had he not listen to Juubei’s warning to duck, he would have gotten a sucker punch in his face when he opened the door. Juubei accompanies Muneakira into the dojo and it seems she can sense all the traps. When they reach Kanetsugu, dog girl is not happy Juubei is the only one who worked diligently. Kanetsugu says she was helping them out with their ki training. Then they realize this Kanetsugu feels different. She is not the loser they know and is more arrogant. Matabei suddenly returns. She couldn’t find Keiji in Yonezawa and followed her scent back to this dojo. Can you guess it already? They say Keiji is a master of disguise, right? Kanetsugu will prove to Muneakira the benefits of her training as she makes Juubei kiss Muneakira. In that instant, Juubei turns into her Master Samurai and other alter ego. Keiji unveils herself disguising as Kanetsugu. The real one is locked up in the storeroom like a real loser. That’s more like it. Oops. She is here because she saw their M-1 Grand Prix victory and wanted to have cute maids fawn all over her only to find it closed. She notes their way of practising ki was wrong but was hilarious to watch. Muneakira thanks her but accidentally touches her so Keiji sends him flying through the roof. After the real Kanetsugu is brought out, Keiji hopes she would forgive her childhood friend. She has to otherwise she might tell an embarrassing episode about their past. Juubei assures that despite her change in appearance, she has been with everyone since the start and did not lose her memories. She will also not lose her memories if she returns to her normal form. When she says onii-chan, it gives everyone the shivers. Yeah. The goofy Juubei sounds cuter when she calls him that. In order not to waste and drain the ki powers, Juubei is advised to turn back to normal. However she can’t. This could be another problem.

Episode 7
Keiji throws a big party. Why? First she records Yukimura transform into Master Samurai. In the footage, she points out that she has already been gathering ki when she transforms. But the problem is when she reverts back to normal. How do they do that? Not too sure. When the fight is over, they just transform back. Keiji points out gathering ki is difficult but releasing is easy. Therefore the party is to help relax and release ki. But in Juubei’s case, she is like a bike on full throttle and a little training to master her ki is required. She’ll teach the girls but not the guy. He can watch though. First, they are made to wear naked apron. There must be some deep significance, right? Nope. It’s just her fetish. Keiji has them undergo retraining of their earlier methods starting off with balancing on a ball. Kanetsugu didn’t like how Keiji is stealing the spotlight and tries to interrupt but backfires. That’s the loser we all know. Same case for the soaking in hot water. Kanetsugu throws in coal but Keiji hits it out back at her. While meditating underneath the waterfall, Kanetsugu wanted to throw chestnuts but accidentally cut down the tree. The ladies are able to sense the ki and deflect the log as well as Kanetsugu. Yeah. She’s the one with the strange ki. Muneakira secretly does his training when Gisen tries to seduce him. But he wants to seriously train together with her as he knows she has something to regain. The Dark Samurais learn of Keiji’s identity as well as her current location at the dojo. Because they also learn the return of the real Juubei, they start making their move.

Juubei excels in her training that her ki is magnificent. But when she tries to undo it, it backfires and causes her discomfort. There is only one way to solve this. Keep pouring your own ki into it. Though this is just to buy time while she tries to control it and in worst case scenario, both of them may lose their lives. Because Muneakira is her General, it is obvious he will stake his life for her. He starts putting his ki into her but it’s not enough. Sen and Yukimura want to help but were told to stay out as they have not mastered their ki and will drain it instead. Keiji will help give a push. Even though she hates men, she likes idiots like him. Keiji may have given a little too much of her ki because she feels weakened but Muneakira feels a great flow of ki flowing through his body. She goes outside to take a breather but in actual fact is to stop the Dark Samurais from getting close to the dojo. They can sense she is weak and do not want any business with her. Despite getting beaten to a pulp, Keiji did not give up and keeps them bust to prevent them from closer. Muneakira is at his limit so Sen and Yukimura suggest he kiss Juubei because that is his General power. When he does, Juubei felt his warmth as well as the duo’s warmth. She is able to regain her power. Musashi is furious when she senses Juubei’s powerful ki gone. She wants to fight her now but was told they had a promised deadline. Even so Juubei is weak and not near her powerful self that defeated Amakusa. If she wants to fight her at full strength, come back another time. Musashi and co leave disappointed and hope by then Juubei will build up her strength. Next morning, the gang wants to give Keiji a feast as thanks but she has already left. It seems her job to teach them about ki is done. Because she loves this country and would do anything to protect it even if it means training those idiots.

Episode 8
When Yukimura and Matabei are walking back at night, they are attacked by a mysterious phantom exuding lots of ki energy. The phantom’s ki is powerful enough to paralyze them and it is looking for some Chingo Stone. But thanks to Inshun’s discreet intervention of light blasts, the phantom retreats. Back at the dojo, Matabei feels sad that she is weak and not able to help Yukimura when it needed most. Hanzou understands her feelings. They fear that if they cannot defeat the Dark Samurais, the curse on Muneakira’s arms would mean he won’t be able to keep the dojo and will leave. This will cause a cascading effect to the rest to leave and no one will be left. They vow to get stronger. Muneakira discuses with the rest about this mysterious attacker whom they believed has been terrorizing the streets too. They think it is the Dark Samurais since its appearance were around the same time Dark Samurais appear but Yukimura doesn’t think so as its ki felt different. Juubei and Sasuke are training at the waterfall when Sasuke notices the crows watching them. They follow it and it leads them to Inshun. Since goofy Juubei had no reason to fight, they become friends and go on an outing that includes having a nice view of Mt Fuji, praying at the shrine, taking fortunes and feeding pigeons. Inshun can’t help smile. Who wouldn’t? Especially with Juubei and Sasuke reduced to being monkeys (okay, so the latter is one), how could you not laugh when even the pigeon purposely farts at them?! At the end of the day, Juubei gives Inshun a charm. She hopes once the battle is over, they can still be good friends. Why not continue to be friends?

Hanzou and Matabei talk about the possibility if Muneakira married their master. What would their relationship be then? It would be more like master-servant relationship. But they believe he will be a reliable guy. Then they see Muneakira telepathically talking to Sen and Yukimura. Because they have controlled their ki, they are able to use Wave Motion Spirit Vision Technique and able to communicate with each other with ease. Midnight, they plan to capture the attacker. Except for Kanetsugu who is soundly asleep in her kennel. I think that’s the best. As they split into groups (Team A? Team K? Team B? AKB?! Seriously?), Sen is suspicious if Hanzou wants to become Samurai Bride. She denies and just feels frustrated at how weak she is. They come into contact with the phantom first. Sen’s arrogance got to her head. She thought she could be different than Yukimura but I guess she got paralyzed and almost tentacle raped too. The phantom noting she is the Tokugawa princess, thinks she knows where the Chingo Stone is and is going to make her tell. Hanzou’s attack was ineffective and had to be saved by Muneakira. When everyone gathers, a bright light once again forces the phantom to retreat and leave no trace of its ki. Hanzou is on the verge of breaking down because she thought she could have lost Sen for good then. Juubei thought she saw Inshun at a distance. They think she is the mysterious attacker.

Episode 9
The attacker’s identity is revealed: Mataemon. However she has no memories when she turned into a phantom whenever she reverts back. Yoshihiko’s priests are almost there fixing the barrier. Only a few more days till it is fully restored. Nia reports to him that Sen is asking for information regarding the Chingo Stone but is told to ignore her. She doesn’t need to know it. As pointed out, the Chingo Stone was damaged during the battle against Amakusa and it caused the return of the Dark Samurais. Muneakira discusses with the rest about the attacker’s intention for the Chingo Stone. Because Inshun is the main suspect, this doesn’t sit well with Juubei. Hanzou and Matabei are in their own training. To kiss each other? Well, it didn’t work out. Sad. Then comes in the pest. Oh no. Kanetsugu. She’s bragging to them about becoming Master Samurai and will gladly teach them. Because Hanzou and Matabei are too deep in their fantasies about kissing Muneakira, they unwittingly take out on Kanetsugu. Judo throw! Backbone crusher! I guess in a way she deserves it. Juubei is sulking by herself when she meets Musashi. Telling her about how Inshun has become a prime suspect, Musashi assures she isn’t and if she is, she will beat her up real good. Because the battle with her is all that matters. Kojirou sees Mataemon turning into a phantom and decides to follow it to see what it does. Muneakira and the rest have another strategic meeting to find the attacker. Musashi senses a great evil aura and is appalled to see Inshun. If she had only make it clear that she wasn’t the attacker, Musashi wouldn’t have engaged in a sword battle with her. Why oh why couldn’t she just say it? With reports that the attacker is within the vicinity, Muneakira and co move out. They find it nearby in the woods and it is looking for Sen. Hanzou wanted to be a hero and initiates the first attack. Futile. She got captured. Now that she is a hostage, Sen hesitated in charging straight and got captured too.

The phantom looks into Sen’s memories for clues of the Chingo Stone. Sen remembers that during the aftermath of the battle with Amakusa, she heard Yoshihiko talking on the phone about some damaged barrier and Chingo Stone. When he realized she was around, he stopped talking. Muneakira is at a lost so Matabei wants him to kiss her and make her his Master Samurai. Finally after all this time, Matabei has turned into a Master Samurai with a giant brush-cum-spear as her power up weapon! She frees Hanzou but Sen is still in the phantom’s grasp. While Matabei is fighting it, Hanzou wants Muneakira to turn her into a Master Samurai. And finally all the girls in the harem have finally upgraded their status to Master Samurai! Hanzou has more power on her data and relays the exact moment when to attack the phantom. Of course Hanzou’s shuriken also powers up and deals a great deal of damage. Inshun was distracted by that loud crashing battle so it allowed Musashi to somewhat defeat her. Although Inshun escaped and this proves she is not the culprit. Everyone is surprised to see Mataemon but she doesn’t know why she is here. Kojirou takes her away. Next morning, the gang discuss that although Inshun may not be the phantom, because the other Dark Samurai was involved, she could still have a hand in it. Trying to put the puzzle pieces together, Gisen voices her opinion. The battle is just an excuse for the Dark Samurais to stay at this dojo. Their real goal is the Chingo Stone. She suspects their ultimate goal is to destroy the stone which acts as a barrier to protect Japan, which will allow them to wipe this country off the map.

Episode 10
Kojirou confronts the phantom at the grave. She wants to know why the Dark Samurais were resurrected, though the phantom does not want to tell her and orders her to just eliminate their enemies. Kanetsugu is yapping and blowing her top for being left out of some top secret meeting despite her status elevated to Master Samurai. STFU, woman. Matabei ‘puts her to sleep’. Muneakira, Juubei, Yukimura and Sen are called to see Yoshihiko. Since it has come to this stage, there is no harm in revealing the secrets of Chingo Stone. If Japan was a human body, it is filled with ki. The country is stable when ki flows normally but when disrupted, there will be natural disasters and wars. To stabilize that flow of ki, that is where the Chingo Stone comes in. It serves as a point where all the ki converges. It is located at the foot of Mt Fuji. Of course some people do not want peace and try to damage the stone. That is why throughout history, humans fought each other with their silly wars. Blame the stone? Amakusa has been a habitual offender trying to damage it many times. Since Japan came close to destruction during World War, the Tokugawa government has ordered a special barrier around it and its central core lies in Buou Academy. It keeps away enemies and as long the barrier is intact, the Chingo Stone will be safe. Because of their last battle with Amakusa, he was smart enough to use Gisen and entered the academy in a pure state, bypassing the barrier unharmed and resurrecting from within. Although the plan failed, damage had been done to the stone and Juubei partly had a hand to play in that too. Because of the damage, it also resurrected ghosts (that phantom) harbouring grudges against the Tokugawa. It has tried possessing humans, animals and reanimating corpse but thanks to Nia, they have been kept at bay. Till recently they did a final attempt by resurrecting 4 of history’s most power samurai. Yup. The Dark Samurais. Their goals are to destroy Yoshihiko, destroy the Chingo Stone and bring chaos. When Nia fought them, she and her army were no match. Musashi thought Nia had defeated the most powerful Master Samurai but Nia as instructed by Yoshihiko when she is backed to the corner, to reveal Juubei’s name as the most powerful Master Samurai. That’s why they showed up at the dojo. But this is to buy time while the barrier is being healed. Yoshihiko would’ve been more grateful had they bought him one more day. Because the barrier is scheduled to complete on the day of their battle. Though it was sheer luck that had them postponed the battle (Musashi’s fixation on fighting Juubei at full power).

At the same time, the phantom tells Kojirou all this and reveals why it possessed Mataemon to do the job. Because she is easier to manipulate compared to Musashi or Kojirou. Plus, Mataemon’s body had some mechanical alterations. As for Inshun, she is just an empty vessel. So the plan now for our heroes is to carry on with their promise and just win their match. Because once the barrier is fully repaired, the ghost will be immobilized and cannot lend its strength to the Dark Samurais. Of course Yukimura needs something to assure their victory and it’s every information on becoming Samurai Bride. Yoshihiko will arrange for every document to be sent to the dojo. When Musashi returns, she sees Kojirou shell shocked. She tells her the truth. When the phantom released Mataemon from its possession, Mataemon was aware and heard everything. She did not repent and liked how her new mechanical body functioned and went off to find the Chingo Stone. She had a pretty good idea where it is since she entered Sen’s mind. Kojirou asks Musashi if she prefers a world of peace or war. She doesn’t care as long as she can fight the strongest. With 2 more days to the decisive battle, everyone enters their own training. Muneakira still can’t lift a sword while Yukimura uses her speed reading to read up on all the details. Kanetsugu is training hard too. Train hard to eat more rice! Finally Yukimura summons everyone and has deciphered the requirements to become a Samurai Bride. Before that, Kanetsugu deservingly gets a kick through the wall because she starts gloating how she’ll be the one, blah, blah, blah. STFU, woman! Anyway, there are multiple requirements to be one. First, there must be at least 7 Master Samurais who have made a pact with the General. Oh lucky. They just got that number. Don’t forget Sasuke! Funnily, I thought they should be forgetting to include Kanetsugu instead of the monkey ;p. Second requirement: All must share a strong bond and trust and must focus on the one intended to become the Samurai Bride. They then must all pour their ki into her and channel it via the General. This is the tricky part. What happens when one is drained of all ki? Not only the Master Samurai would lose their abilities, the General’s life will be in danger. There are cases of death when trying this out. In short, when a Samurai Bride is born, the rest dies. Just great. I didn’t know becoming a bride is such a life and death thingy. Oh wait… There may be some truth in that… Oops…

Episode 11
The death of Generals in such attempts is a reason why there aren’t many around these days. But they have to give it a shot since they have an important match tomorrow. But have they chosen who to be the Samurai Bride? Oh Kanetsugu, please don’t say it’s you! And can somebody please shut that joker up?! Thank you Matabei. Thank you Hanzou. Anyway to be the Samurai Bride, it is only stated that the appropriate person will be chosen at the appropriate time. I can guess who that is. In the mean time, they have to test it out. All the Master Samurais channel their ki through Muneakira but he feels immense pain so they are forced to stop. Inshun returns to Musashi at the graveyard. She is not here to settle their match but gives a talisman that will undo Muneakira’s curse. Mataemon is outside the cave mouth and thinks this is where the Chingo Stone is. Because there are lots of guards. Kojirou stops her and won’t let her do this alone (Inshun was supposed to watch over Mataemon but ran off somewhere). Besides, this is not where the stone is. It’s just a trap. Using her visors, she locates the real entrance and they make their charge. Yoshihiko receives report of intruders so Nia will go face them to buy time. Though she is not in tip top condition, she is grateful to have served him and have no regrets if she dies. Kojirou and Mataemon start hitting the Chingo Stone. Meanwhile Musashi alone goes to face Muneakira and his Master Samurais. Suddenly the sky turns dark. This is what happens when 0.1mm crack is on the Chingo Stone?! Wow. Everyone thought Musashi played dirty and broke her promise but from her reaction, she is unaware what her comrades are doing and is in shock. Musashi laments she is being used and wants to undo Muneakira’s curse but Juubei (the alter ego one) provokes her to fight her. This is what she is here for, right? Juubei chose to fight because last night’s meeting, she deduces the Dark Samurais were chosen not just on their power but their strong lingering regrets. She wants to purge them of those.

While Muneakira supports Juubei, the other Master Samurais rush to protect the Chingo Stone. Kojirou and Mataemon continue to hit it but Inshun stands in their way. Nia evens the odds but Kojirou unleashes Mataemon’s true power as the latter runs rampage and takes out Inshun. The duo then gang up on Nia. Before Nia can meet her fate, Gisen intervenes. She uses her Evil Eye on them but they escaped. When the Master Samurai arrive (no Kanetsugu, they escaped not because they sense you), they conclude they are going to destroy the regenerating barrier. Speaking of which, it is 99.9% complete and one more hour. So far… Feels like an eternity. The phantom feels it is time for resurrection. It gives Musashi a surge of power, enough to blast away Juubei and Muneakira. Musashi tries to fight against it. All she cares about is her fight with Juubei. The phantom burns away the talisman. Musashi says if she cannot have a fair fight, she will kill herself. Before she can do that, Keiji deflects her sword. She tells Muneakira to blow the curse away with his ki. Why didn’t he think of this? It was so much easier?! Muneakira is back to normal but the good news is overshadowed by a bigger bad news. Keiji feels a large evil mass of ki and it is starting to move. The phantom summons all the begrudged spirits and absorbs into Inshun’s body. I guess that’s her role as an empty vessel is for. It also absorbs the other Dark Samurais as it turns into one big bad mother Dark Samurai Knight. Power off the scales!!! The monster is aiming to destroy the barrier but how long can our little Master Samurais hang in there?

Episode 12
Our Master Samurais are no match for the monster and got owned. However the monster didn’t finish them off because its main goal is to destroy the barrier. Though the Master Samurais are okay, Gisen and Nia are missing. So it’s a race to stop the monster. Estimated time for the barrier to be 100% complete: 20 minutes. Estimated time till it breaches through all the defensive barriers of the academy: 13 minutes. You do the math. But that’s no reason to give up, right? Our Master Samurais do all they can to stop the monster. However it proves futile. It begins with Hanzou. She died while trying to protect Sen who blindly charged straight towards it. Then while she is weeping for her not to die, she got killed by the monster. Their bodies are also being absorbed. Then the rest of the Master Samurais fall like flies. Sasuke, Kanetsugu, Matabei and finally Yukimura herself. Fallen and absorbed. Muneakira is so mad that his harem Master Samurais are killed off that he too charges blindly. Yup. He got stabbed. Had not Keiji intervened, he could’ve been a goner. Oh dear. Now it’s Juubei’s turn to get mad. She transforms into her other self and attacks but fails. She is inside the Chingo Stone, which is acting as the monster’s heart. She is happy to see Inshun but the latter wants her to kill and free them. She doesn’t want to be used anymore. Juubei can’t go on because Muneakira is gone but Inshun assures he is still alive. Juubei is purged out and sees Keiji pouring all her ki to bring Muneakira back to life. Juubei wonders if becoming a Samurai Bride can stop the monster but Keiji has her doubts. If it was, why is the title Bride instead of King or Great? She is sceptical that the powers are only those of a bride. I guess for those staying single won’t know the power of getting married, huh? Haha… Juubei doesn’t want to be left alone but Keiji says only they are the ones who can stop it. Four minutes till the barrier’s completion. And three minutes till all the defence are broken down. Oohh… So close… Is that estimate accurate or not? Don’t give Yoshihiko a heart attack!

Juubei’s tears awaken Muneakira. He thought they should get out now but Juubei says Inshun told her how to defeat it. Destroy the core and free the begrudged souls. They kiss and power up. The monster is annoyed by the umpteenth time at those obstructers but now it has Yoshihiko to deal with. He is the last line of defence. Muneakira and Yagyuu enter the core and realize Inshun has been possessed. But they are not going to get absorbed by it yet. Shortly, the other Master Samurais converge. Their mind is too strong that the monster couldn’t absorb them. Juubei didn’t come here to fight but to save everyone. How will they do that without fighting? Beats me. But they all trust Juubei to do her stuff. Everyone pours their ki into Muneakira and he channels it to Juubei. Looks like it is decided. She’ll be the Samurai Bride. Though Muneakira in white may look like a groom, I just thought Juubei didn’t look anywhere near like a bride. Besides her hair being white, she has got fox ears and a badass rocket booster. The duo shoot their light enlightenment at the core. Kojirou and Mataemon try to stop them but felt the calmness of the light and are freed. Inshun and the rest of the begrudged souls are also purged by the light. But the monster is not done yet. Although back in its phantom form, it has saved an ace up its sleeve. Using Musashi, it is going to rid Juubei once and for all. I guess they both get to clash after all. So Juubei and Musashi have their destructive power battle (at least it doesn’t turn black and white like last season’s battle finale with Juubei and Gisen) and in the end Juubei triumphs with Purified Ascension move that also frees Musashi. The barrier is repaired and stability returns to all of Japan. What a great relief. Made it in time. Phew. Good job everybody. And now for some more good news. Remember last season how Juubei sacrificed herself, died but descended from the sky alive? Now it is role reversed because the other Master Samurais are descending from heaven and given a second shot at life. Happy reunion, everyone is happy. Even Gisen and Nia are shown to be alive and well, resting somewhere. Lastly, before you can say, “Oh no!! There is a little crack in the Chingo Stone that is getting bigger!!!”, cheeky Sasuke slaps the talisman to seal it for good. That’s a wrap. Ukki!

Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Maids
Well, I thought that they were going to be samurai-cum-maids for the rest of the season. That only lasted halfway and after True Shadow closed down, I thought it would be temporary and would come back up right at the end after some farce. Heh. How did I even come up with that idea. At least it was fun while it lasted. How low can a samurai go and even use the dojo as collateral to operate a maid cafe? Thankfully they didn’t go bust because they might have to do hara kiri for bringing shame and failure to the school and family name. So after True Shadow shuts down for good, the story picks up pace and gets a little more serious with the revelation of the Chingo Stone and the mysterious phantom that just wants to destroy Japan after the first half which seem pretty much like ‘fooling around’. I guess you need some sort of antagonist for this season since Amakusa won’t be waking up from his slumber for a century. And I don’t think it would be possible too if somebody aligned to him would use some fast forward spell to wake him up so soon. Unless Muneakira and his Master Samurais live for the next 100 years, it is safe to say that they won’t be facing Amakusa ever again, right? That will be the next generation to figure out and handle as well.

So I guess for this season, everything was rather okay. Nothing that spectacular. It gives another reason for our heroes to battle evil and save Great Japan once more from another threat. Mostly the characters from the previous season from what I can say remain the same and didn’t change that much. Although there are some that I noticed such as Hanzou who doesn’t display much of her S&M nature as much as I can remember she did in the last season. She still is one but it isn’t obvious here. Juubei remains the carefree and child-like Master Samurai and even though she is still goofy but not as goofy as I find her to be. Is it because I have gotten used to her ways? As of course the most amusing one still goes to Kanetsugu. True to her role as a comic relief and joker, she can even be her haughty self even in times of pinch and seriousness! It is hard to love her and at the same time it is hard to hate her. But it’s not hard to always laugh at her and the punishment she gets as retribution. That’s why even if she is the target of ridicule or even often ignored by the rest, it is hard to kick her out of the group because otherwise, who else would they beat up and vent their frustration? Okay, perhaps they would not have been so annoyed had not Kanetsugu show her stupidity but look at it on a positive side. She’s trying to cheer everyone up. On second thought, maybe not. Maybe she’s just plain idiotic. And when Kanetsugu actually went into depression and tried to leave, I don’t know, funny I felt my heart sank! Honest! I didn’t really want her to leave too! It’s not that I really like her character but I guess I’m a sadistic wanting to see her in her comical ways. In that sense, she is useful, right? Bad me.

Adding Sasuke into the group felt like it was just because the group needed a pet mascot. Ever since Sasuke surprisingly became the fourth Master Samurai, the monkey’s presence felt lacking after that. It wasn’t as significant when she first appeared. I thought that since she can’t really stay long in her Master Samurai form, it is like a reason why she doesn’t join in on the action when the other Master Samurais go into action. With Keiji in the picture, I thought she too will be part of the harem but from her dominant looks, I don’t think she can stand having a man as her master. So she’s just more of a teacher and coach as far as this season is concerned. It still bugs me that with the training of ki, Muneakira can burst out from his curse. I know I said he should have done this from the start but he didn’t probably because he didn’t have the proper ki training. And perhaps he has mastered it unknowingly but the situation turned dire before he could try it out. Casting the Dark Samurais as the initial antagonist, something tells me that we’re not going to see one-on-one matches with the Master Samurais. True enough, the phantom becomes the main villain and used them for its goal. I mean, would it really be nice seeing babes like them lose? Besides, they may act and exude some deadly aura but they don’t look and have the cut to be villains in the first place. And best of all, Juubei gets to save and free their souls. So everything is not lost, eh?

Yoshihiko doesn’t exude that air of arrogance and intimidation that he was in the previous season. Sure, he still looks confident and reliable but maybe because we get to know him as the good guy, that superior exterior doesn’t feel like it is there. Besides, he is ‘kind’ enough to shed a tear or two when Muneakira and his Master Samurais got temporarily killed by the monster. He’s such a great and kind guy, eh? Just like him, I also feel Nia’s presence is quite lacking. She literally doesn’t do much as both their roles are confined in secretly trying to heal the barrier. Gisen felt like she didn’t make an impact. It’s like as though her appearance was just to remind us she is still around but not yet relevant. What is a girl got to do when her beloved Amakusa will only resurrect in 100 years’ time? I suppose bum around like a harmless girl. Heck, can she even live that long? And maybe in the meantime do seduce Muneakira a little here and there. I wonder how Gisen got her Evil Eye back. Unless you tell me it’s that secret training she did with Muneakira. So finally everyone in the Muneakira’s group gets to become Master Samurai except for Gisen. Although she isn’t officially part of the group, but you know, something tells me that she might become part of it despite asserting Juubei is hers, blah, blah, blah. After all, she is still trying to seduce Muneakira, right? Is it really to check out his abilities? Gisen being quite docile doesn’t feel right but I wouldn’t want her to go back to her antagonistic ways either. So maybe, just maybe in the future Gisen would give up becoming Amakusa’s ally and be Muneakira’s Master Samurai. It is unlikely but nobody saw Sasuke becoming his Master Samurai either.

One of the obvious aspects in last season was the fanservice and how those ink blots and strokes serve as censors for the series. For this season, I watched the uncensored version all the way so there are no more those annoying blotches popping up on the screen like as thought the artist had too much ink on his brush and accidentally spilled some all over the storyboard whenever those necessary fanservice scenes are being played. So for ecchi fans, you can revel in the tits galore and panty shots without all the irritating spots. However because of that, I have this feeling that the fanservice is not that much. I may be wrong because last season’s blot censors were too many and thus unconsciously I kept count on the fanservice scenes. No, I didn’t count the exact number of censors, mind you. So without those blotches, it is hard to tell if there were more or less or same amount of fanservice scenes since I wasn’t annoyed that much. And the way some of the girls dressed are obviously for fanservice purposes. Like Matabei still wears the most minimal cloth for her bottom and it makes you feel she is as close as wearing nothing. Then there is Mataemon who does not unbutton her top shirt and let it all loose from her cleavage down to her stomach and midriff. Of course, when Sasuke transforms into her Master Samurai form, the only reason I can think of why she can last no longer than 3 minutes is because she will be running around naked! It will obviously be too dangerous to let her go on for more than that duration, no? Another obvious fanservice point is the nearly-nearly full frontal nudity. You will see this quite a number of times. You see the girls before you naked from top to bottom. There are no censors to even cover that lower female anatomy. Is it because it is not ‘drawn’ at all? I don’t know. It is made to look very close to being hentai if that is the case.

Retaining the style of art and drawing from last time, it is still refreshing to see the water colour-like scenery and background after watching too many conventional Japanese anime art over the years has become somewhat saturated. It is still odd to see modern contraptions in feudal Japan and the mix of old and new devices still brings mix feelings of weird and cool. Of course who would have thought having a maid cafe theme for this season would look even weirder. I know Japanese invented the maid cafe concept but to think it existed this early…  I can imagine what kind of concepts and themes they will come up next if they ever make a sequel. As for the action part, they are still interesting and some to a point a little flashy. You can’t have plain moves when you have upgraded into Master Samurai, can’t you? So great the power of everything that it is amazing the city still stands after all that power destruction. It’s not easy to take down Great Japan and even so you have got to go through these protectors first. When we see the characters upgraded to Muneakira’s Master Samurai (or Samurai Bride in Juubei’s case) in this sequel, we only get to see their cool upgraded move once and that’s it. I know it will be a bore if they keep using the same move over and over again but because of that too, they aren’t really that memorable.

The next episode preview still provides an amusing watch. For example, Hanzou anticipating with glee the kind of title the next episode has that will lead to them becoming the next Master Samurai because in the past, whenever this certain word that pops up, there is a high chance that a Master Samurai will be born. Well, I never noticed. Then there’s one whereby Yukimura and Sen are concerned about their lack of screen time due to the bunch of many new characters. How to solve it? Eliminate existing ones! Guess who is the first on the hit list? Oh, Kanetsugu… Where are you… Hmm… Maybe that is why I felt some of the characters from the previous season lack any impact for this sequel. Then there is Sen making a simple blooper and thus insisting this preview to be re-recorded again and Yoshihiko wanting Nia to be part of his film. Not that she would agree with him since she fears the camera will suck her soul! For a Master Samurai that has vanquished spirits, she is afraid of some modern contraption?

All the last season’s cast were retained for this season. With new characters means new additions. Chinatsu Akasaki as Sasuke (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby, Chiwa in OreShura) must really have the easiest lines because the monkey doesn’t have any proper human speeches! But try going “Ukki! Ukki!” for the rest of the series. You’d go bananas. One thing I am ashamed of myself is that I was unable to recognize Mamiko Noto as Keiji!!! How did her heavenly voice slipped my auto-Mamiko’s-voice-detection?! Indeed she was putting on a lower voice but I should have at least recognized her. Hearing Keiji speak again, it is confirmed that it is really her voice behind the character! So ashamed… Even I could at least identify Haruka Tomatsu later on as Mataemon since she is putting on a lower voice like her other roles, Ranmaru of Binbougami Ga and Yuuka of Beelzebub. Shame on me indeed. Other new casts include Youko Hikasa as Musashi (Mio in K-ON!), Naomi Shindou as Kojirou (Shizuru in Mai-HiME) and Satomi Satou as Inshun (Wendy in Fairy Tail). At first I thought Faylan was the one singing the opening theme for this season again. However to my surprise, AI DO is actually sung by Miyuki Hashimoto. Not that I can identify her voice anyway and it sounded quite close to Faylan. I personally feel that the rock opening theme this time around didn’t match the exuberance and liveliness of the first season. It feels like it tries to retain that but somehow falls short. The ending theme, Kekka, Guuzen De Gozasourou is sung by the trio seiyuus of Juubei, Sen and Yukimura. Sounds like your typical anime pop and of course still sounds silly.

I still do not understand the concept of this Samurai Bride thingy and why it is called so. I don’t really see how Juubei exhibited bridal qualities when she transformed into one. Unless you’re telling me that purifying move signifies the purity of all brides when they walk down the aisle. And the idea that everyone dies and only the Samurai Bride lives might be an indication if that a girl marries the guy, all the other girls ‘die’ in the sense that they have to give up on him. So why didn’t our Master Samurais die? Because they were already dead! Remember? So as not to leave a bad aftertaste in our mouth, they were somehow miraculously brought back to life. Unexplained. Don’t ask. Life won’t be the same if Juubei is the only one who hogs Muneakira. Therefore calling this power up as Samurai Bride may seem a little out of place. Heck, I thought naming it as Supreme Legendary Ultimate Grand Master Samurai would sound better but when you have historical people being turned into girls in this alternative world, I guess it is appropriate to give some feminine title. So what’s the next level after Samurai Bride? Samurai Wife?! I have got a feeling that this is going to be a tougher job than saving Great Japan. Imagine your waifu displaying lots of super human powers that could level an entire city. And when you have a domestic argument on this scale, can Japan save itself from this war?

Sengoku Collection

May 5, 2013

Once again. How do you make people especially boys who are not interested in history to sit up and listen to such ‘boring’ subject? Well, one way is to turn all the important historical characters into girls! Imagine a certain unifier was actually a woman. Imagine a certain independence fighter was a woman. Imagine the forefathers of a country were women! Women power! Girls rule! Oh yeah! Let’s not get too carried away. So once more, here I am, having my hands at yet another sengoku themed anime with the all-great unifier of Japan, Nobunaga Oda being turned into a teenage girl. Yes, a girl. Is it so exciting to change one’s gender? For entertainment purpose, I guess so. For historical prospects, I think not.

Sengoku Collection as I have read originated from a mobile social networking game and has been given the anime treatment back in 2012. Unlike other sengoku themed animes that have the setting in the past, this one has the famous people of that era transported to our modern times. Yes. So can you imagine how those famous people back in that era fare with modern conveniences and current cultural norms? Well, as far as I can see, they have already gotten used to life in the new age. It’s much better than those dark ages, right? All hail modern conveniences! The plot is basically this. Nobunaga and many of her generals are transported to the modern age via a mysterious light. She seeks to return to her own time but is told to seek out the Secret Treasures of the other generals if she wants to do just that. And of course the mind boggling reason is that all these famous sengoku people are women! So seriously, where have all the men gone? Each episode features at least one general and how they adapt to the modern lifestyle that we all take for granted. Seriously, do you really want to go back to an era where iPhones and iPads were non-existent?

Episode 1: Sweet Little Devil
Nobunaga Oda just crashed into our world. Literally. She crashed into Seiichi Oota on his bike! Into his gut! What perfect timing! It’s amazing they didn’t die from that impact. It’s amazing he didn’t get a hole in his stomach at that speed. So I don’t know why this Oota guy has to oblige to guide her around despite knowing it’s best not to get involved with this nut case. Probably the fall got to her head. Maybe it’s Japanese courtesy. Can you blame Nobunaga not knowing how to eat a hamburger? Yeah, being taught to eat one. The arrogant Nobunaga makes Oota her retainer. You can’t say no. She even follows him to the convenience where he works. His day gets bad to worse when a lone robber comes in. The robber himself is an amateur because he gets scared and chided by Nobunaga about his petty act. It’s over before you know it. Nobunaga stays at Oota’s place. Just great. Not only he has a freeloader, but he has got to teach her the ways to use modern conveniences. However despite being a pain in the ass, he treasures her company since well, he felt lonely ever since his girlfriend broke up. After a few days of living together, Oota brings Nobunaga to the river. She feels the need to return to her world. I don’t see that she’s unhappy here. Maybe she wants to just go back to a place where she truly belongs. Oota takes her to the shrine where she prays for that wish. If it doesn’t come true, she’ll burn it down! That night when they’re asleep, Nobunaga is transported to dream world whereby she meets Miko Fox, Miko Rabbit and Miko Cat. They have heard her prayer and decide to grant it. But to return to her original world, she needs to gain powers and gather Secret Treasures, power spheres created in the hearts of ambitious warriors during the sengoku period. There are others who come to this world besides her so she needs to seek them out and gather them. Her own Secret Treasure will tell where the others are. And so begins Nobunaga’s quest to hunt down the rest. Oota wakes up to find her gone the next morning but she leaves a Coke bottle that she found at a river (thinking it was some sort of diamond) as a reward.

Episode 2: Peaceful Empress
Ieyasu Tokugawa is enthralled by an idol named Rosary as seen on the big screen. She tries to join in several street dances but they didn’t like how she was upstaging them and was ‘kicked out’. Even the church choir kicked her out! Thankfully, the manager of an idol agency, Hiroshi Ootake senses her talent and picks her up (Rosary is also under his agency). He will give her a chance to shine and in return doesn’t want her to easily give up. After signing the contract, Ieyasu undergoes rigorous training to be like her idol, Rosary. Of course it gets tougher and tougher to a point where she’s at breaking point. She’s on the verge on giving up when Hiroshi shows her Rosary working hard. He tells her many girls wanted to be idols but lots of them dropped out along the way. Rosary was the only one remaining and he was responsible for her debut. Despite Rosary falling down and making mistakes, she gets up and resumes. Ieyasu gets her motivation to do her best once more and is soon joined by the Miko trio as her backup dancers. In no time, Ieyasu makes her debut and mark in the idol world. Her dream comes true when she is to star alongside Rosary. Can’t contain her excitement, she goes to see her but her room. Although Ieyasu was being the usual eager beaver fan, Rosary takes it as sarcasm because she feels there cannot be 2 top idols at one time. She starts talking about the harsh realities of the world and that hurting feeling when it’s time to call it quits when a new idol surpasses you. Ieyasu vows to become a top idol. Ieyasu is soon summoned into the dream world and is confronted by Nobunaga, who is here to take her Secret Treasure. She agrees to give it to her since she wants to stay in this world and work her way to become a top idol. Nobunaga stabs her sword into her chest to take her Secret Treasure. She wishes her luck in her new fight before leaving.

Episode 3: Pure Angel
Kenshin Uesugi and Kanetsugu Naoe are living together. Although Kenshin is a model, seems like she is a ditz and needs Kanetsugu to look and pick up after her. Yeah, it feels like she’s becoming her mom rather than her retainer, eh? Despite the troubles she went through, Kanetsugu is happy to be with her. However this is one big problem she is facing that nobody else knows. Ever since she came to this world, she has become colour blind. All the colours were drained from her vision like as though this world is rejecting her despite they don’t have to fight and living peacefully. One day, Kanetsugu is disheartened that Kenshin used a flag that she was supposed to use for conquering the capital as a towel. Kenshin feels they should give up their conquest since nobody is pursuing them. This doesn’t sit well with Kanetsugu so she runs away in tears. She sits by the river bank where they first arrived and ponders about stuff. Kenshin finds her but Kanetsugu feels she doesn’t need her anymore. On the contrary she does. She wants her to cook more delicious food for her every day. She is so happy that she sprouts wings and the colours return to her vision. Kenshin points out that it wasn’t her wings that show her happiness, but her real smile. Then Nobunaga confronts them for their Secret Treasure. They give it to her without putting up a fight because they want to stay and live in this era together peacefully.

Episode 4: One-eyed Dragon
Masamune Date is sent to prison after being tricked by the yakuza to do a delivery in which the police busted her. In prison, she gets bullied by several of the inmates. She didn’t fight back as she was too busy thinking how she was easily deceived by the yakuza. When she first arrived, she was about to slice a cocky group of yakuza underlings. Till the big boss showed up and wonders how long she would take to kill them. Though she claims 10 seconds, he notes her generosity because he knows she could take no more than 5 seconds to do that. He apologizes on their behalf and introduces himself as Daigoro Katakura of the Midori Gang. Because his name is close to her father’s, I guess that’s why she easily trusted him and accepted his task for some exchange. So when she got busted, his underling took the fall for Katakura. Even the guards ‘bully’ Masamune by ordering her to dig a hole and then filling it up. This continued every day. One day, she blows her top because the inmate bully insulted her parents. Then a big brawl occurs and all the inmates revolt against the guards. Masamune uses this confusion to escape. Masamune goes to hunt down all those who have betrayed her. When Katakura gets word from a lackey that Masamune has broken out and is back in town, too late. She’s already at his office. She wants him to commit seppuku. No other reasoning will do for her. Katakura is sweating in his pants, trying to give all sorts of excuse and even offering her to join him. Just when he thought she let her guard down, he pulls out a gun. Typical baddie move. She easily blocks every bullet and cuts him down with the back of her sword. I guess this scum isn’t worth to be killed or let her sword get tainted. Nobunaga appears before her and wants to claim her Secret Treasure but she refuses. They agree to settle their fight another day and flee their separate ways since the police is raiding the place.

Episode 5: Sword Maiden
Mike Morse is making a documentary, Samurai For Murder on the recent arrival of the sengoku generals in this era. His interviews include Bokuden Tsukahara who is a kendo instructor, Yoshiteru Ashikaga the shogun and Sekishuusai Yagyu the samurai high school teacher. Also in this documentary, Morse has painted Bokuden as a dangerous threat and the fact that these generals walk around carrying swords means that there would be risks of crimes being committed by those who seek to play the hero or samurai. Although the documentary is a success, we learn it has been heavily edited because Bokuden certainly did not say all those threatening and murderous words in the documentary. Upset and depressed, Bokuden talks to Sekishuusai about wanting to reveal the truth. They know they’re not going to let them have their way and if they fight their way in, they would be playing into their hands. But they have a plan. When Morse isn’t in his office, Bokuden talks to a staff outside about a programme that wants Yoshiteru to come to the studio to apologize to a kid who got hurt by one of these samurai incidents. Meanwhile Sekishuusai sneaks in to do her stuff. Prior to the programme, Morse did see Yoshiteru to ask if she could come down to the studio to make the apology. However she doesn’t view this as her fault as the attacker was influenced by the samurai and carried a blade. Morse’s door is still open should she change her mind. She eventually did, apologize and promise to put away their swords. Then she plays a video that has many of the people in the documentary rebuffing Morse’s work as fabrication. It also shows the true story of what happened that seemed threatening in the documentary. Morse panics and tries to worm his way out with an excuse even so, he proved samurais are dangerous. Bokuden reveals a dangerous samurai is on her way here. She is Ittousai and wants to fight Bokuden whom she believes is the strongest. But Bokuden points that Morse is the strongest because she threw away her sword. His camera is stronger than her sword. Ittousai starts attacking Morse and he pleads for the samurais to save his life. But they have vowed to give up the sword, right? He admits everything that he was wrong and the sword is necessary. Before Ittousai strikes him, Bokuden uses the camera to block it. Ittousai admits defeat as both swords and cameras can be used as weapons. In the aftermath, Morse now wants to do a movie that has Bokuden as the main star. She didn’t want to be on TV again till she learns the first episode will have her find kappas up the mountains. She likes kappas?

Episode 6: Knowledge Master
Gennai Hiraga tries to sell her wacky inventions to the public but it all backfires and make her look like a clown. Seems a boy who dreams of being a football star is her only ‘companion-cum-assistant’ as he makes frequent visits to her basement lab and even bought her favourite eel delicacies. Gennai’s dream is to build a time machine to head further into the future instead of returning to the past since she is obsessed about the future’s technologies. Since this supposed time machine (a giant swan?) ready, the duo start testing it. Peddle power? Well, there’s black smoke coming out from. Back to the drawing board. One day, the boy gets excited since he might be getting his big debut although he’s just a substitute. He hopes she can come. Gennai has finished her time machine (she just added more aesthetics?) and wonders the kid’s tardiness. She goes to look for him at school but was told by his friends that he got hit by a car while trying to save a cat. She visits him in hospital and despite just having a fractured leg, he seems to have given up his dream of being a football star. Gennai goes back to make adjustments to her time machine. She starts peddling hard so that she could go back in time to prevent the accident. She did go back to the past but it’s just moments before he saved the cat so she has not much time left. Oh, the time machine is totally busted too. Gennai is quick to fish the cat away and saves him from the accident. He manages to get his debut in the match and though his team lost, Gennai is happy that she manages to see him in action. Gennai tries to fix the time machine but I think it’s beyond salvation. Though she is still interested in the future, she feels she wants to stay put because she wants to bring happiness to the people here too.

Episode 7: Refined Bard
Marie throws her useless husband out of her cafe. He even had the cheek to ask her to sell it to start anew. She throws a bucket at him but she misses and hit the wandering Bashou Matsuo instead. Bashou hangs around this rundown place and Marie isn’t too enthusiastic. I mean, she’s only got carbonara on her menu… Her daughter Ai wants Bashou to stay while the workers, Kyouichi and Satoshi make a bet she won’t last long. Despite everything so dilapidated, she takes an interest in this place. So much so she takes the liberty to redecorate Saihate Cafe, much to Marie’s dismay and she kicks her out. Ai stands up for Bashou that the place looks better all cleaned up but Marie notes she can’t stand that poet’s haiku. Ai at least wants Bashou to stay and help clean the motel. Soon, the cafe experiences a boon in customers with many guys coming to the place to learn Bashou’s haiku. One day Satoshi requests for a day off because he has an audition to be a dancer. Satoshi talks to Bashou and expresses his gratitude that her presence has changed their lives. Even Kyouichi is now resuming his painting. If only Marie could open up her heart and learn her haiku. Then she would stop running away from playing the piano. Eventually Satoshi passes the audition and Bashou wants to hear Marie’s piano but was told not to stick her nose in other’s business. Saihate Cafe has become famous enough to warrant an appearance on TV (Marie is sure nervous) and this also reunites Satoshi and his mother. Despite putting on a stubborn facade, I guess Marie still likes Bashou’s haiku because she secretly reads them and starts playing up her piano. That night also has Nobunaga meeting Bashou and brings her out to sea. Marie saw her leaving and it seems she is reluctant for her to go just like that. She wants her to teach her haiku. She doesn’t want her to go. If she was going to do that in the first place, she should never have come. Next day, Saihate Cafe is at usual in its busy pace. Marie now has a variety of pasta in her menu and puts up a refreshing expression. But she couldn’t be happier when Bashou makes her return because this is where she belongs and after all, the carbonara here is the best in the world.

Episode 8: Regent Girl
Hideyoshi Toyotomi must really love rice to even dream of it. Currently she is living with a girl, Noriko as she tells her about her village’s legend. There is a rock up a mountain in which in exchange for a good harvest, the gods took away the girls who danced and they were never seen again. Only interested in the abundance of rice, Hideyoshi tries that dance herself and when she thought nothing happened, she falls into a hole after chasing her dropped onigiri. It leads her to a fantasy-like place whereby the citizens are rice people! She is being honoured for being the 10,000th customer! Nobunaga is also there and they argue whose dream they are part of while challenging each other to dumb bloated contests. The rice people deem Hideyoshi as their saviour but present to her a test to see if she can pick out which one is the real Akitakomachi rice. Well, they all look the same. Well, Hideyoshi picks the right one! I don’t want to question her about rice. I believe in her expertise in this area. Then the all-time enemy she is supposed to save them is here: A grasshopper. But how can she save them when they panic and run away? Hideyoshi and Nobunaga walk along and meet a scarecrow who shows them some stage drama inside his box. I don’t get it. Then trekking through a desert, they meet Rikyuu who offers them tea and some mind boggling question about erm, questions and answers. I don’t get it. Then they get involve in some fight whereby there is a war going on between the rice and wheat nation. Where did they get that tank? Then in all the abstract and chaos, Hideyoshi is supposed to fulfil their wish before their destruction. All she understands is that she finally gets to eat while everything around gets burnt to the ground. Hideyoshi revives back in the real world where Noriko and the other villagers were worried about her. She thought she was dreaming but it seems she is holding a magical ladle that produces endless rice! Now she can eat all the rice she wants.

Episode 9: Ambitious Princess Part I
Soun Hojo. Now known as Shinkurou Ise. She is depressed. Despite harbouring hopes to become a general, after learning how impossible it is to conquer this world, she just gave up. That easy? Too big to conquer, eh? She is currently living with Jun Takahashi and her mom thinks it would be a good idea if Shinkurou gets outside instead of cooping up inside her room all day long. That means, follow her to school, right? Not a good sign. Jun can’t help get worried. Shinkurou shows no signs of enthusiasm. Even the teacher is afraid of her. Those who fight back get ‘injured’. Think of dropping out? Well, I don’t know how Jun persuaded her to stay on. So the scaredy teacher didn’t want to pick her to answer a question on the board. Nobody wanted to answer. Shinkurou volunteered. Oh sh*t. She amazingly solves the complicated equation with no sweat. Nobody got injured. Phew. But the bunch of bullies got injured in a volleyball match when they deliberately target Jun. Just when Jun thought she is getting used to school life, Shinkurou spots delinquents and thinks they’re the force that controls everyone behind school. Against Jun’s advice not to pursue this, Shinkurou decides to uphold justice and confront them. Think they can get tough with her? Now see if you can hold your pants after she cuts them with her sword! They go get their leader and she is straight to tell him she will eliminate him. Despite making a prior promise with Jun not to use her sword or fist, she kicks and even uses Jun as a spinning projectile to knock them out! Shinkurou feels this is too easy. But you don’t go to school to beat up people, right? So what’ the point of coming to school? So the lie moves on from a molehill to a mountain as Jun tries to pacify Shinkurou. Maybe there’s a bigger bad organization behind this. Yeah. She believes it. She’s going to hunt that down too. Oh dear. Jun may have just created a monster.

Episode 10: Ambitious Princess Part II
Just how is Jun going to come clean with her? It’s not easy seeing that Shinkurou is bent on eradicating this Shadow Thug Alliance. Shinkurou believes she can’t be hurt easily. At least not by flames because when she was young, she went to pick herbs and fell into a volcano but came out alive. After school as they patrol the corridors, they bump into Kotarou Fuuma, a ninja. Another ditz because she really wants Shinkurou to ask her stuff that she wasn’t interested in knowing. A frontal attack for a ninja means a sealed fate because Shinkurou easily defeats her. Kotarou tells her to head to the gym where the big boss awaits her. Shinkurou promises Jun that she will go home with her after she defeats the boss. A giant masked doll appears before her and knows all about Shinkurou and her real name. They fight and Shinkurou insists not to be called by her real name. She starts using her flames but the doll isn’t scared because she controls water and douses it all. Shinkurou is going to show her that she isn’t just more powerful than what the rumours said about her. It’s because it is a fact and the truth! She stabs her sword into the doll and it reverts to human size. She didn’t kill her as her goal is to save the school from the Shadow Thug Alliance. The show is over when Sessai Taigen comes in, Shinkurou’s master. The person behind this doll is Yoshimoto Imagawa. This is a test they setup for her because Yoshimoto wants to gather all the forces she can to settle a score with Nobunaga. Shinkurou agrees to join her and decides to reuse her old name. Jun isn’t happy she is going away just like that but she states that she made a promise with the Imagawa clan first and a very long time ago. She will keep her promise and return to Jun one day. Till then she hopes to be called Shinkurou again.

Episode 11: Brutal Maiden
Hisahide Matsunaga is a con artist. And she’s a pro in her job. A group of thugs led by Kanbara threaten an ambassador if he can’t pay his debts. They want to open a casino inside the embassy grounds as the local laws don’t apply or else they can’t guarantee what will happen to his daughter, Sarah. No choice, he relents. The illegal casino is thriving and Kanbara is happy to see people in despair while losing their cash to the casino. Sarah is desperate so she searches for help. Only a gambler could ruin a casino, right? This leads her to Hisahide as she watches her in a gambling match. Then a cop busts into the place so Hisahide takes Sarah and run. Hisahide learns of Sarah’s predicament and agrees to help her out but first has her learn to use a gun. She’s going to destroy that casino. Hisahide walks into the casino and makes a good run hoping to attract attention. Winning big isn’t going to get her noticed so she starts stealing chips from the unsuspecting old guy next to her. Kanbara sees this and alerts his henchman, Arita to step in. The old guy likes Hisahide’s company so he says he ‘gave’ the chips to her. Then she tells Arita upfront she is here to break this casino. Even if she is captured, her friends will come here every day till it is bankrupt. To settle this, she suggests a one billion yen bet in a high stakes match of poker. One round settles it all. Arita confirms from Hisahide that she has this much money herself when she shows him her bank account book. The game begins and Hisahide is losing. The alarm goes off in the midst and they know it’s Sarah who sounded it. Hisahide tries to get out but Arita won’t let her since the game has just only begun. In the end, Hisahide loses everything and leaves dejectedly. Kanbara never tires in watching such expression when he realizes his safes are all cleaned out. He realizes it’s a trap and orders Arita to go after Hisahide. Outside, he sees Sarah pointing a gun at her. She is distraught that she didn’t live up to her promise to break the casino (despite stealing the money, it defeats her goal) and shoots her! Arita checks her pulse and realizes she is still alive. Then a cop steps in to arrest Hisahide for fraud and Sarah for illegal firearm possession. Arita thought he had Hisahide’s bank account as collateral but realizes it’s fake. So now they’re broke. Sarah learns that the cop is Hisahide’s accomplice (along with several other girls that help her clean out the safe) and now they’ve got all the money, they need to go into hiding for a while. Hisahide guarantees her father will be safe now that the casino is ruined. She’ll accept Sarah’s cooking as payment.

Episode 12: Dancing Blossom
A group of motorcycle thugs surrounds a teacher’s car, Matsuura. She could’ve been done for if not for Keiji Maeda or better known as Saturday Night Rider and her motorcycle named Matsukaze, beats them all up! Their bikes are trashed too! Don’t play with this woman! Yamaguchi who is the strict and no-fun boss of the convenience store doesn’t like her employees to gossip about the goodness of Saturday Night Rider during their shifts. If you haven’t guessed it, despite the goody disguise and retard attitude, Keiji is also working under her as a part timer. Keiji hears a couple of delinquents talk about a group of motorcycle thugs being done in by Saturday Night Rider. She hopes they could take their conversation somewhere else but one of them, Kudou gets rude and pours water over her head. She scares them off with her scary look in the eye. As she cleans herself up, the store is being mugged. Keiji turns off the lights and knocks the robber out. Yeah, one of the employees, Futagawa thought her random panic punched him in the dark. She laments that she hoped Saturday Night Rider should have come instead of a robber and asks Yamaguchi’s opinion. She’s not amused. Later Kudou returns to buy some underwear so Keiji has Matsuura look up on his details. As Yamaguchi walks, she ponders about Saturday Night Rider and accidentally bumps into a guy. He wants more than an apology and brings her to a secluded building. She tries to shout for help but everyone turns a blind eye and deaf ear. The guy is going to rape her as she laments her fate. Suddenly Saturday Night Rider crashes into him and saves her. She had a feeling Matsukaze told her to come this way first and it led her to this. Yamaguchi is given a ride as she feels strange she opened herself up to someone she just met. Saturday Night Rider wakes Kudou up from his slumber to tell him off about wearing wrong coloured underwear!!! WTF?! She wants him to wear white instead of black?! What kabukimono rules?! She strips herself to show him the white underwear she is wearing. WTF?! If he doesn’t change his ways, she’ll be back next week. I think he will. Saturday Night Rider sends Yamaguchi home and the latter wonders if they’ll meet again. Matsukaze will bring her to her when the time comes. Yamaguchi loosens up the next day at work and even asks what underwear colour her employees wear! Always white. She feels they can get along well.

Episode 13: Silver Hornet
Nobunaga sure must be getting used to live in the modern era. She even knows how to use an ATM. Till she meets this girl, Ageha. I know she’s poor but look at the way she ‘saves’ and eats Nobunaga’s melting popsicle before it falls to the ground. Ageha is one sly girl because she convinces Nobunaga to even take her to the laundry to wash her clothes and make her pay for it! Ageha then finds tickets for the raffles underneath a washing machine. Trying their luck, Nobunaga thought winning second prize was great. But Ageha had better luck and wins the grand prize. A trip for 2 to the hotsprings. Meanwhile professional sniper, Zenjubou Sugitani was hired by Yoshimoto to eliminate Nobunaga. She has a hard time tracking her in this big city. Thinking where this devil would be, as luck would have it, suddenly there she is right before her eyes at the train station with Ageha. But with Ageha? Zenjubou remembers she was someone who picked her up when she came to this world. Despite spending time with this homeless girl, she felt natural around her and as an assassin, she can’t let that happened, that’s why she disappeared from her sight. She doesn’t need friends. All she needs is a target. While Nobunaga and Ageha enjoy their stay at the hotspring, Zenjubou has no luck in assassinating Nobunaga. Whether it’s playing ping pong (all in right timing, Nobunaga unknowingly slams the bullet back almost hitting Zenjubou!) or having a sumptuous meal (Zenjubou only had a chocolate bar. Poor girl. It made her even hungrier), it is getting to her. Then next day at the beach, Ageha’s sand pit that has Nobunaga falling through it once more made Zenjubou miss. It is not until Ageha trips and accidentally kisses Nobunaga on the lips that made Zenjubou blow her top and confront her in the open. Learning she’s an assassin, Nobunaga tells her off while she aims for world conquest, she can only aim to kill. She then takes Zenjubou’s Secret Treasure. That night Nobunaga leaves so Zenjubou wonders if Ageha will be sad without her. That’s why she wants her to be her good friend instead. So when Ageha learns Nobunaga had just left, she hopes Zenjubou won’t bail on her like that too. Sure thing.

Episode 14: Novel Deciders
Isami Kondou, Toshizou Hijikata and Souji Okita are living together in a girls’ dorm. Despite Souji always being sick, the duo have the nerve to hang out in her room and bully her. And there’s this narration despite being the weakest, she is said to be the strongest. Only thing is, nobody has ever seen it for themselves. So we see the duo pick on Souji by cooling down in her room with big blocks of ice (she’s sick, you know), getting her white clothes dyed by their coloured clothes when they mix it up in the same washing machine, try out some hotspring flavour in their bathtub (why is it murky colour?), stamping a mark on her forehead that doesn’t seem to come off. Then it’s raining and they ask her to go out and buy candies. They hold her futon at ransom but she’s not perturbed. Till they mention about playing games so she’s up to it. Call the duo bad losers but it looks like Souji is always the one drawing the short end of the stick. Because in the Game of Life, though Souji wins the game, the final card has instructions to go to the convenience store to buy candies for her beloved seniors. Can’t defy what the card says, right? It’s a setup alright… Though it stopped raining, the duo claim they forgot their wallet. Once more, Souji has to take out her own money. But pay her back, okay? I feel that’s not going to happen… Because they can’t decide what kind of nabe to have for dinner, the duo just bought almost everything that comes to mind at the supermarket. That’s not the end of their annoyance yet. They mix everything into the pot! What a waste of that good beef! It’s basically a mess now. When they throw in the lobster, it’s like a murder dish! The last straw came when they put in Souji’s favourite strawberry daifukus. She blows her top and becomes a ‘monster’. Ah. So this is why she’s called the strongest. Hope the idiots learn their lesson. On another day, Souji wants them to take seriously in their exams or else they won’t be her seniors anymore. They assure they’ll always be her senior in her heart. They persuade her to take a break since they have strawberry daifukus. Really? It’s on her. Stingy poker! They still haven’t paid her back the last time yet…

Episode 15: Annihilate Princess
Yoshiaki Mogami loves this era’s peaceful times. But I wonder why she didn’t turn down an invitation by her friends, Mao and Yumi to investigate a haunted house. She’s weak of ghosts, you know. Don’t worry. They’ll bring along an occult member, Murata. She looks like one! Eek!!! Along the way, they see a wanted poster of Masamune. Yoshiaki remembers Masamune always called her ‘aunty’ despite being younger than her. So the creepy adventure into the haunted house begins. Murata senses some energy from the basement but Yoshiaki manages to convince them to look elsewhere first since the door to it is locked. Guess what? They’re going to stay here too! Oh God! The last train has left, right? The corridors look very long to Yoshiaki and she can’t find anyone who wants to sleep with her. Yeah, each room has weird artefacts or torture devices! Can you sleep soundly with those? Then another problem creeps up: Yoshiaki needs to use the toilet! It’s right back where they came. Nobody wants to go with her. Can she hold it in? I don’t how long she held it in but she manages to do her business. Yoshiaki gets more freaked out during dinner (the table items moved – poltergeist?! Or is it just Murata under the table?), the shower water turned rusty (maybe the pipes were rusty. Why is there water running through in the first place?) and Murata just ran off when she senses something and kept saying “There isn’t just one!”. It gets worse when Yumi collapses and Mao is not in her room. Yoshiaki has no choice but to head to the basement to solve it all. But all she finds is Masamune, weakened. After feeding her, she learns she is in hiding and offers to help out by talking to her relative Yoshiteru. But Masamune doesn’t want her to sacrifice her stature for her sake and even so, this doesn’t make her crimes disappear. She wants Yoshiaki to pretend only a black cat has passed here and knocks her out. Yoshiaki wakes up and heads to the roof to shoot fireworks for Masamune (wherever she is) to see. She returns to her friends and is relieved to see Yumi okay (she just had a light concussion) and Mao was sleeping in Yoshiaki’s room all along. They both sleep together. Hey! Where did Murata ran off to?

Episode 16: Blade Adept
Yoshiteru tells Rikyuu that she will be inviting Sekishuusai over for a western tea party. She wants Rikyuu to make a super hot spicy snack that will destroy the mouth! This is for revenge against Sekishuusai’s pranks despite the latter was her student. Sekishuusai arrives and presents Yoshiteru with a sword as a gift. Whether Sekishuusai could sense Yoshiteru is plotting something, she signals that if she were to play any pranks on her, like say, making the snack spicy, she will refuse to give the sword. So no choice, Yoshiteru eats the spicy snack and gets burnt! Sekishuusai isn’t going to let Yoshiteru drink water and makes her admit. Even so, she won’t let her drink directly from the bottle because it’s uncivilized. So when they finally get their chance to drink, Sekishuusai’s lips gets burnt. Yoshiteru pretended to drink the red pepper juice. Right back at ‘ya! They’re going down together! Rikyuu gives them drink water. Since the duo are still loggerheads, they are going to settle this via Russian Roulette. One of the cakes will be spicy and the loser is the one who eats it. They’ll bet their Secret Treasure. Just the mention of that, Nobunaga is right at their doorstep to take that. They have been hearing what Nobunaga is up lately and agrees to form a truce and defeat her. The cake Russian Roulette is already rigged from the start as Rikyuu mentions the spicy ones have the cherry slightly off. Only those with keen eyes can spot it. There are 2 of them so the duo will avoid that. Nobunaga is ushered in and persuaded to play the game. But she can tell that a couple of cakes are rigged and suspects something amiss since the cake is made from them. Yoshiteru has no choice but to have Rikyuu remake the cakes. To spice things up (like they need more of it), Nobunaga suggests to eat with their eyes closed. Now they’re really sweating in their pants. The last one standing gets all the Secret Treasure and Nobunaga is hell confident she’ll win. Sekishuusai goes first and hits the spicy one! Out she goes. Next is Yoshiteru. Safe. Nobunaga’s turn. Safe. Yoshiteru mentions she loves Sekishuusai, the reason why she also tried to play tricks on her (doesn’t it feel like getting back at her?). Sekishuusai also admits the same. She played those tricks because she admires her and wanted to make up by giving the sword. Yoshiteru takes a bite and is safe. Nobunaga hits the spicy one and loses. However Yoshiteru feels lonely if she can’t be with Sekishuusai and has Rikyuu make her very hot tea to knock her out. Nobunaga takes their Secret Treasures and leaves.

Episode 17: Sunshine Ruler
Wait a minute! Isn’t Liu Bei from the Three Kingdoms?! WTF?! Anyway she works as a maid but has a curse: She turns into a pig by night! She is tasked to take care of an old woman named Tae Haruhi. She is known as a maid crusher because all those who worked under her will quit. Liu Bei makes her debut and is given the cold shoulder, even get splashed by water! But that doesn’t stop her as she tends to her garden. Her perseverance to clean up the garden has Tae at least let her inside her home. She is allowed the clean but her room and kitchen are off limits. One night, Liu Bei hears Tae’s nephew threatening to make her sign a contract to sell her house out so he can build a condo. She won’t do it. He’ll be back. She throws her slipper at him but misses and accidentally hit little miss piggy’s head. Tae brings the piggy in, not knowing her true identity and makes friends with her. Her kitchen is messy as she admits she doesn’t know how to cook nor did she do any chores before but doesn’t want to end up in an old folks home. As she feeds piggy, she confesses she likes animals because they can’t talk and she doesn’t have to pretend for them. Once Liu Bei knows the truth, in her human form she gets a little aggressive to clean the forbidden rooms and cook better meals for Tae. Her dual life continues. Maid at day, pig at night. So much so Liu Bei had to tell her to ‘feed the pig proper food’. I guess it works. Soon Tae becomes fond of Liu Bei’s company and she would like her to stay for dinner to meet this pig who often comes around this time. Liu Bei runs off and in the midst turns into a pig. Tae saw everything. The duo are drawn into the dream world whereby Nobunaga takes the pig’s Secret Treasure. But she turns into a pig herself! Liu Bei realizes her curse is cast on her Secret Treasure so with Nobunaga taking it, the curse affected her. However… Nobunaga uses her brute willpower to break free from the curse! Amazing! No curse is going to stop this little devil. Tae’s nephew returns and brought along ruffians to force Tae to sign her consent. Liu Bei protects her by demonstrating her sword skills. And a couple of cool lines of course. I bet those jerks won’t be back again and it’s good that Tae has accepted Liu Bei in her life.

Episode 18: Four Leaves
Bad luck always follows Yoshitsugu Ootani. Her gloomy factory job doesn’t make it better. Even her colleagues snub her and she only has a black cat as a companion. She thought finding a four leaf clover would change her luck but it got worse. More scolding from the supervisor when she slips up. At a loss, she writes to Angel, the author for the book Heaven’s Door who once said that good luck will always be there if you believe it. But she knows it won’t go anywhere because Heaven’s Hill doesn’t exist. It’s a place in heaven, right? One day, she gets a surprise reply from Angel. She tells Yoshitsugu to remain positive and also relates her own string of bad luck which turns out to be lucky coincidences. Soon, the duo start exchanging letters on a frequent note as Angel relates another one of her lucky coincidences whereby she found a movie ticket that almost expired but it turned out to be a horror movie that she disliked. Not wanting to waste it, she used it but regretted the moment she stepped in. But halfway through, the film got burnt and the screen went blank. It was a funny incident so the horror became a comedy for her. Yoshitsugu sends a bookmark as thanks and in return Angel sends another book as gratitude, Stairway To Heaven. Yoshitsugu wants to meet and Angel agrees. She can’t wait to meet her and imagines the kind of person and city she lives on. On the day she’s supposed to take a flight, disaster strikes. She had to help an old lady to hospital since she’s suffering from heart attack. She is then late to buy a ticket but even so, she lost her wallet. Searching didn’t help. The police couldn’t help. They couldn’t meet. Because of that, Angel’s letters stop coming. The seasons pass. No letter. Yoshitsugu becomes upset and smashes her typewriter! Yes, she still has one of those babies. That’s how poor she is. Then she gets a package. An air ticket to see Angel. Yoshitsugu takes a plane to Heaven’s Hill. The place is not what she expects. Like the slums. Standing in front of her room, she is told by the landlady that she has passed away due to overworking for the past 6 months (she never had a strong body and worked overtime to probably pay her medical bills). In her final letter, she apologizes for everything and so much has happened since their last exchange. She reveals on the day she received her first letter, she was about to commit suicide. She decided to write back and notes despite it looked like she cheering up Yoshitsugu, it was Yoshitsugu who has been cheering her and looked forward to the day they meet (so when she couldn’t, I guess it was heartbreak). She thanks her for the best lucky coincidence ever and hopes they’ll always be friends.

Episode 19: Vengeful Fang – IS
Mitsuhide Akechi is a detective as she and her assistant Kibayashi meet up with detective Hirai at the crime scene whereby the headless corpse of the eldest daughter of the 3 Hototogisu sisters, Ayako is found murdered by the riverside. Mitsuhide thought she saw a man in white mask opposite the river watching them. Hirai interrogates Okemi Hazama who is the first suspect because she holds a grudge against Ayako. But Mitsuhide says she isn’t the killer because the way Ayako was killed, it might have been with someone familiar since she was totally defenceless and there were no sleep-induced drugs in her system. The next suspects would be the younger sisters, Meiko and Machiko along with their butler, Henri who is always having a video cam in his hand. But they seem distraught Ayako is dead and would be glad if Mitsuhide help to bring the killer to justice. Mitsuhide revisits the crime scene once more and sees the masked man but was told by a police officer he is Morilanty, a professor of applied criminology. She is advised not to get too close to him. Hirai rings in another suspect. Matsuo Murakumo may look like a beautiful lady but is in fact a cross-dresser. Found with him is a bag with Hototogisu’s family seal and a bundle of cash inside. They think he blackmailed Ayako and killed her. However he denies that even though he is an extortionist, he wouldn’t make such a screwed up mistake. At least he admitted he is an extortionist. Mitsuhide smells the notes and realizes he is not the one. That’s because natto smell is covered on it and it is Meiko’s favourite food. It is discovered that Murakumo was blackmailing Meiko. They go interrogate her as she reveals she is an illegitimate child of another father. If the public discovers this, she won’t inherit the family’s fortune. So Murakumo must have discovered that in an old diary belonging to the father’s wife and blackmailed her.

Mitsuhide discusses with Hirai and Kibayashi the possibility Machiko may be the one putting up Murakumo to blackmail her to take away Meiko’s alibi during the murder. So when Murakumo was dealing with Meiko, Machiko went to kill Ayako. But Henri denies that and Machiko has an alibi. He reveals despite Machiko going on a diet, she secretly had midnight snacks and one night collapsed due to stomach ache from such rendezvous (the food got stale I suppose). She is weakened to a point she won’t be able to kill anybody and he has video camera proof of it. He never told them because Machiko ordered him not to since it would be embarrassing to the family if her midnight snacking is discovered. Since it hurts to conceal the truth, Henri tells them now. Mitsuhide wonders if he is cooking this up to protect Machiko but he is prepared to state this formally if required. Mitsuhide thinks deeper and thinks the headless corpse switched places with Morilanty. She rushes back to the crime scene to see Morilanty there again. She chases and corners him at the cliff. She unmasks him and to her surprise it is Kibayashi behind the mask. Not quite. She says Morilanty isn’t Kibayashi but Kibayashi’s true identity is Morilanty. Isn’t that the same? Another Kibayashi pops up. There are 2 of them? She unmasks herself and is that Morilanty professor with the white mask. They’ve been watching Mitsuhide all this time and points out she is the murderer. Because she is the only one who won’t accept whose body it is despite there is a head. Otherwise, how would the villagers recognize it is her body without the head? Machiko’s statement that she saw Ayako’s body from the chapel and that she didn’t went through much suffering (indicating she had a peaceful look on her face) only makes it more evident. In short, Mitsuhide killed someone dear to her and didn’t want to admit it. Mitsuhide runs back to the chapel and opens the coffin. Ayako’s head is still intact. It is revealed this is actually a stage play as the audience applause this magnificent scene. Mitsuhide is still wallowing in guilt as she is being told to end the play with a sentence (to say her name). Then she wakes up in bed and is shocked when she realizes she has killed Nobunaga.

Episode 20: Vengeful Fang – OS
Mitsuhide runs away from bed and her aide Ranmaru Mori couldn’t do anything about it. Ranmaru bumps into Nobunaga and tells her about Mitsuhide’s condition. She was in coma ever since she saw the flames and couldn’t leave her alone, that’s why she took care of her when she was unconscious in this world. Mitsuhide is absorbed with guilt that she killed Nobunaga. Thinking back, she was in a strategic meeting with her along with Hideyoshi, Ieyasu, Kanetsugu, Sessai and Yoshiteru. Mitsuhide has work to do and wants to take her leave but Nobunaga tells her not to sweat it and do it tomorrow. Nobunaga thinks she’s still upset over that incident. The one whereby Mitsuhide was discussing with her about their battle strategy. She wanted to prepare carefully for this crucial mission but Nobunaga wants to strike while the iron is hot. She insulted Mitsuhide she has no Secret Treasure because she is petty. Ieyasu thought Nobunaga should apologize but that little devil doesn’t think she has done anything wrong. Mitsuhide takes a break in the tea room with Rikyuu. Mitsuhide is depressed that without a Secret Treasure, it is as good as being a nobody in this era. Rikyuu says she doesn’t have to think too much about it. Strong emotions make people strong but they also cause people to suffer. Then Nobunaga enters the room and the tension just got intense. But she had to leave when Ranmaru reports Hideyoshi has something important to talk. Mitsuhide thinks how Nobunaga was always smiling whenever Hideyoshi is nearby. She feels jealous. That jealousy increase when Hideyoshi received Nobunaga’s attention. The dark feelings crept into her heart so much that it formed a Secret Treasure and grew stronger to more it feeds on it. Even so, she strangely loved it.

One day, Mitsuhide thought she would be able to win Nobunaga’s approval if she leads the next final battle to victory. To her horror, Nobunaga changes her mind and put Hideyoshi in charge instead. That was the last straw. Later Ieyasu talks to Nobunaga about that decision. Because it is the last battle, she wanted to keep Mitsuhide near her. Once this battle is over, she will have achieved her dream and her conquest is over for good. Thus Ieyasu guessed she wants the person she trusted most by her side. I suppose Nobunaga is a tsundere and couldn’t tell Mitsuhide that so she wants Ieyasu to keep it a secret. But it’s too late because anger has got the better of Mitsuhide as she sets the place on fire. Maybe that’s why everyone in that era got transported to the modern age. Back in present time, Mitsuhide’s wandering has her bump into Rikyuu. The latter takes her in when she collapses. Mitsuhide wakes up in Rikyuu’s room and is being told Nobunaga is still alive and going around collecting Secret Treasures. Mitsuhide now remembers everything and thinks her amnesia was because she couldn’t admit what she had done. Speaking of Nobunaga, here she comes looking for another Secret Treasure. She didn’t expect it to be Mitsuhide but nevertheless will take it from her. Mitsuhide isn’t going to put up a fight and voluntarily gives it to her since her Secret Treasure filled with darkness may be of use to her even if this means goodbye forever. Suddenly she has a change of mind and won’t give it to her and runs away. Rikyuu obstructs Nobunaga, who threatens she can’t guarantee her life if she continues to be in the way. Rikyuu is willing to lay down her life because Mitsuhide is a dear friend and a fellow student in the way of the tea. Mitsuhide continues running…

Episode 21: Calvary Queen
The Russian space agency staffs realize an artificial intelligence, Vesna 9000 has taken over some orbital lasers and plan to destroy Earth. How can they request for help in this short amount of time? Luckily, Shingen Takeda wakes up on the space station Nadhokha and picks up the transmission in one of the units. They need her to neutralize Vesna that operates Nadhokha. They guide her to Fasad 29, a support droid that will be able to help her. Seems Fasad is somewhat disappointed that it isn’t Mikhail who came to wake him up. He feels he isn’t the kind of person to break a promise and his loyalty means he won’t work with her. But the space guys download the current situation to him so Fasad agrees to help her out. If you’re wondering why Fasad looks like a hot water dispenser, that’s because he is only good in making tea! Oh dear. And calculations. Ah well. That’s fine since Shingen notes she is good in everything else except maths. So starts the journey of woman and robot as they make their way to Vesna. Exchanging wise cracks along the way. Fasad sees Shingen take out several guard droids sent by Vesna with her bare hands! Wow! That’s the wind power? She claims she can take out 50 of those. If using AK-47 didn’t work, she uses her fan to disable them all! Don’t mess with her! With this so called forest power she claims. She even uses the flame thrower to burn the guard droids. That’s her fire power… Haha… Right before the chamber to Vesna, they are ambushed by more guard droids. That doesn’t look like 50 but hey, Shingen did say she was bad with calculations. Run!

They hide in a pod area whereby Shingen gets a feeling that getting outside in a pod will make things work out despite it will restrict her movements. Fasad notes how she is similar to Mikhail because they act on intuition or gut feeling. He continues telling her about Mikhail and his favourite Japanese chicken wings. Once they enter the pod and prepare to head to space, the air pressure sucks the guard droids out into space. So this was her plan? The hatch will lead to Vesna but Shingen can’t activate it since there is no air and the pod is too big to enter this chamber. It is pointless to send Fasad in too seeing there is nothing much he can do. Shingen gets an idea to do a dangerous stunt. They’ll use blast of the pod’s ejection blast to enter the hatch. In that crucial 15 seconds, they’ll seal it close. Phew. They made it. Once inside the core, Vesna wants to negotiate with Shingen. A sign that it can’t win over Shingen? Vesna proposes that they team up and will conquer the world together. It’s her dream as a Sengoku general, right? However Shingen refuses her offer since it is boring. She would rather work with Fasad to conquer the world with chicken wings. She isn’t interested in the cold world she would get if Vesna conquers Earth. So Shingen beats up the core till it shuts down! Wow. I understand why people hit their machines to work but this… As promised, Shingen is given a ride back down to Earth with Fasad guiding her. Fasad wonders if she’ll look for other Sengoku generals once she touches down but she says she would like to open a chicken wing restaurant. She’s already got a name figured out: Takeda Wing Army. Lame. But Fasad would like to help her since she isn’t good with numbers.

Episode 22: The Splendor
Higurashi is assigned to track and arrest Masamune since he is under a special department that counters threats from the Sengoku generals and was the one who first arrested her. Kojurou Katakura is also made to be his partner and she is bent on arresting Masamune for her crimes. Though Higurashi has no problem working with her, he just had this thought that she wants to meet up and run away with Masamune. Of course Kojurou denies that she wants Masamune caught and to atone for her crimes even if it’s a person close to her. He calls her a cold woman. They go around interviewing their leads (the yakuza boss Katakura is now a farmer?) and word has it that Masamune is viewed as a hero who saved them and they’re not happy the police wants to arrest her. Higurashi talks to Yoshiaki as he believes she and Masamune were once rivals to the throne. However to Kojurou’s shock, Yoshiaki roots for Masamune. Higurashi deduces if Kojurou’s information was correct it could only mean Yoshiaki met Masamune in this era and her perception changed. Higurashi is suave to persuade Yoshiaki to reveal any info on Masamune. The last she met her was at the abandoned haunted house but doesn’t know where she went after that. After they leave, Kojurou notes he resorted to lying to get information and wonders if he is a lolicon since the different treatment between them. Higurashi points out Masamune did something against the law and yet she’s popular. But Kojurou is doing something good but nobody likes her. Then he gets a call that Masamune has been spotted living in a fishing village. But upon arrival, they are greeted by Keiko who is in Masamune’s funeral. Keiko breaks down while explaining how Masamune was cornered by a local police at the cliff and was shot before falling off. Higurashi insists Kojurou accompany Keiko in her grievance while he talks to the villagers.

Once Higurashi is done, he tells Kojurou that Masamune is really dead and the villagers’ story do not contradict. She asks about if her body was found. Of course not. Nobody could’ve survived that fall and the dangerous currents below. Pointing out the cold woman she is, if she was a friend, she wouldn’t have asked about the body. There was a point he believed she was prepared to betray him and escape with Masamune. Higurashi retires to his room while Kojurou visits the crime scene. As she blurts out her feelings to the sea, suddenly Masamune appears behind her. They both embrace. Isn’t she supposed to be dead? The villagers lied on her behalf. If the police thinks she’s dead, they’ll stop looking. It might be the wrong thing to do tricking everyone but she wasn’t going to get arrested before she gets a chance to apologize to Kojurou. Masamune says sorry for being deceived by the yakuza and soiled her reputation. She asks Kojurou to run away with her. She won’t become her partner in crime. Masamune can’t change her lifestyle. Higurashi is flushed out from behind the rocks by Masamune. Seems this was all part of his plan to wait for them to meet. He felt something was off when the villagers were cold to him and a funeral was held right on the day Masamune fell off a cliff. Weird, don’t you think? Masamune won’t let him go if he plans to arrest Kojurou as a traitor. But he rather tell his boss she escaped than die trying to arrest her. He plans to report that Masamune died falling off a cliff and Kojurou resigns after that. Even if he’s supposed to do his job, that was before he know what Sengoku generals are like. He orders Kojurou to stay by Masamune’s side and watch over her. He apologizes for calling her a cold woman and makes her blush by complimenting her beautiful smile. Masamune and Kojurou reunite and they head off somewhere where they could always be together.

Episode 23: The Dune
Narrated like a historical document, it tells of Tsunehisa Amago‘s entry to a kindergarten and the battlefield that is no other than the sandbox. She makes friends with Shimizu who somehow felt like serving her like a ruler. He shares her dream of making a huge sand castle in the sandbox. However the sandbox is ruled by 3 different factions: Matsuda, Enya and Misawa. In her first attempt to rule the sandbox, she approaches Matsuda who claims he makes the biggest mud balls. Tsunehisa decides to show him how to make a real one and though it starts out tiny, slowly it grows and becomes hard and shiny like a black pearl. Matsuda wants to learn it from her and thus you can say his group are under her control. However Enya didn’t like her growing influence and declines to join her in making her sand castle. A mud war started when he stomps and destroys a mud ball. Tsunehisa’s group is clearly at a disadvantage in terms of numbers so Tsunehisa and Shimizu ends the war by spraying water at Enya’s faction. Tsunehisa teaches Enya and his group the finer points in making the base of a sand castle so it’s safe to say Enya is now her ally. Of course this doesn’t sit well with Misawa so she tells the teacher about Tsunehisa’s mischief when she sprayed Enya with water. Because of that, she was prohibited to play in the sandbox for a day. Shimizu was out with a cold, the reason he wasn’t there to defend her. Tsunehisa tries to negotiate with Misawa but the latter drives a hard bargain. She won’t allow their groups to switch the sandbox every 3 days (she needs this long to build her sand castle) and will only allow 2 days the most. Plus, Misawa doesn’t agree about everyone is being creative. Otherwise, it would’ve been better for everyone to build many little sand castles of their own instead of a big one. Negotiations failed.

In a final attempt to gain control of the sandbox, a game of Avalanche (Misawa terms it as Knocking Down Sticks) is played. Players take turns taking away the mountain of sand and if the stick in the middle falls on one’s turn, that player loses. Misawa is lucky to go first and this means she has a big advantage. Because so, to be fair, Tsunehisa is allowed to choose a stick and she chose a twig with leaves. But this gives her an advantage as she is able to feel the sand mountain and measure the depth of the twig being stuck into the mound. However when the game starts, Misawa’s practice paid off as she takes a big chunk and the twig still stands. The girls dig piece by piece when the teacher calls for nap time. Misawa realizes this is all part of Tsunehisa’s plan and cries foul. However Tsunehisa points out that it was her who used the teacher first (Misawa’s dumbfounded face is too funny!). Besides, it is Misawa’s turn. Thus Misawa couldn’t sleep because if her twig falls, she loses. That’s why Tsunehisa chose one with leaves because it will be unstable on this windy day. But if that twig doesn’t fall, Tsunehisa is sure to lose on the next move so she too can’t sleep. Halfway through nap time, worried Misawa gets up and sees the twig fallen (yet another dumbfounded funny look!). Thus the sandbox has fallen under Tsunehisa’s complete control. Everyone works hard to build the castle using Tsunehisa’s great architectural skills and blueprint. Shimizu hands her an apple to add icing to the cake. The magnificent Apple Castle is finally finished with even a flowing moat. Suddenly all their hard work is ruined when Nobunaga barges in to take Tsunehisa’s Secret Treasure. She trampled all over the sand castle! Wouldn’t it be weird for her to point her sword at a little girl? Tsunehisa starts crying followed by everyone. This stuns Nobunaga as the kids start pelting her with mud balls. I guess she has to retreat when the kids are going to get her and the teacher threatens to call the police over this pervert’s intrusion. Oh Nobunaga. You win some, you lose some.

Episode 24: Peaceful Empress – EX
Ieyasu has become an ultra miracle super idol! She even won awards and is on her way to become a top actress! However she is feeling the burnout and needs a break but her manager feels the need to carry on or else she will be knocked off her perch. Low on energy? Switch to solar! She’s not a robot! Naturally when the cat’s away, the mouse starts to play. Ieyasu goofs off before snoozing. A fan impersonating as a janitor, Kaoru Taniyama enters her room to retrieve a hidden camera but was caught by Ieyasu red handed. He runs away but bumps into a lady in red. She throws a camera into his janitor trolley before running away. A group of ‘cops’ continue to chase her. Ieyasu manages to get back the camera from him so Kaoru regrets and confesses that he is a big fan of hers. To make his day, he signs an autograph on his shirt. When Ieyasu is called for a shoot, Kaoru notices a camera on the ground and when he plays it, realizes it’s the hidden camera on Ieyasu. So the one Ieyasu got was… Meanwhile the lady in red is cornered by the ‘cops’. They threaten her to return the camera or else. As Ieyasu continues to lay idle instead of memorizing her script, she thought Kaoru didn’t learn his lesson when he returns. Seems he wants to see the camera that he handed to her. Suddenly they see the lady in red falling down right outside their window! Holy crap! The ‘cops’ report to their boss they have taken care of the woman but he still wants the video found. Ieyasu and Kaoru see the video as it turns out to be a confession by the lady in red. She has proof that the famous actor, Tatsuya Sugimura is actually the boss of a criminal syndicate dealing with drugs and weapons smuggling. And Ieyasu is supposed to star alongside him in an upcoming shoot.

Kaoru notices the ‘cops’ looking around and he is going to escape alone and bring this evidence to the police as he doesn’t want to get her involved. However she is adamant to go with him and in a disguise she sneaks him out. However the baddies aren’t stupid and corner them in the parking lot. They’re not afraid to use the gun. Or else. Ieyasu is daring as she even admits she has seen the video. They make a run for it as the baddies give chase. Kaoru would gladly resign to his fate to die for his idol but Ieyasu tells him he can be a master of his own fate instead. Here’s one chance now. She takes him and jumps down the building! They land in a truck filled with empty boxes. Was that fate? Or was it luck? In the truck when Kaoru praises and looks up to her, Ieyasu lets him know that she isn’t enjoying what she’s doing lately. It’s no fun anymore. That’s why she wanted to follow him. The duo arrive at the police station and hand over the evidence to the police chief. To their shock, the chief comes back with the baddies! He’s in cohorts with them! Cornered at the rooftop, the biggest crook makes his entry. Sugimura is going to make this the most entertaining drama she will have to act out. The idol queen succumbed to pressure of fame and jumped off the roof with a fan. Before the baddie could fire, the place is surrounded by helicopters. SWAT people slide down to arrest the guilty ones and it seems Ieyasu’s manager is an undercover agent. Interpol has been keeping a close eye on Sugimura for some time. In the aftermath, Ieyasu bids farewell to Kaoru at the train station. He’ll always be her fan and advises her to do what she wants, live the way she wants. Before the train door closes, she jumps in and wants to tag along. This turns out to be a movie shoot. Later Hiroshi asks if she has considered quitting the industry as she has achieved her dream of being a top idol. Let’s say she’s going to reach for the space even after conquering the world’s tallest mountains. She’s going to keep her word of being a top idol. Meanwhile in New York, ex-idol Rosary is making waves in Broadway. Ieyasu will continue to follow her path because the one who makes the most people happy is the one who does the best for himself or herself.

Episode 25: Marshal Princess
Yoshimoto is bored and tired of being locked up because she wants her rematch with Nobunaga. Sessai reminds her how bad she was defeated the last time they fought. Yoshimoto is confident she has powered up but I suppose Nobunaga too must have undergone some training. Sessai has Kotarou keep Yoshimoto busy with sweets. But Kotarou is dumb to do online shopping because it reveals their secret location! Don’t worry. She didn’t give out the address. How can the goods arrive then?! She didn’t think about that. So after making Kotarou buy all the sweets in the list, though it keeps Yoshimoto occupied, Sessai feels the need to solve her sedentary unhealthy lifestyle. Kotarou accompanies Yoshimoto to the woods where they see Soun undergo intense training. Kotarou introduces Yoshimoto to fishing and is confident that it’s so easy that idiots can do it. So Yoshimoto is an idiot? Anyway you can say Yoshimoto lacks talent in fishing. Either she throws the hook away from the target or she accidentally hooks her own skirt. But that didn’t make her give up and continues to fish and fish. At the end of the day, she manages to catch a little carp. Yeah, she was putting up so much struggle with it. But she’s happy with it and this leads her to study and research more in-depth about fishing, baits and anything related. She’s like a fishing maniac now. So much so her perseverance pays off and can fish like a pro. One morning while fishing in the lake, she sees a giant golden carp. Thinking it is the master of this lake, she prepares to catch it but realizes ordinary baits or traps won’t work. She even made a bait using the sweets! Do carps eat that? Didn’t work either. But she didn’t give up and stood at the same place day and night. Not until the fifth day that she feels something tugging her rod. She fights with it but it snaps. Yoshimoto ponders why it took it this long to show up when she did not change her position or bait. Then she realizes she let her guard down. If she can erase her catching intent, she may be able to reel it in. She starts meditating through rain and shine. Finally when she’s able to face the lake’s master once more, she suddenly felt this inner peace and the beauty of the universe. Though Yoshimoto lost, she realizes that was what it was trying to teach her: The simplicity of the world. Sessai also knows she has fished up something better and Yoshimoto guessed this was Sessai’s plan all along to improve her lack of conviction. Now that she is ready, Sessai orders Kotarou to call Soun and will launch a full scale attack on Nobunaga. Yoshimoto is fired up for revenge, Soun is fired up to avenge and Nobunaga is lazily sleeping on her hammock. Some training she had.

Episode 26: Sengoku Collection
Nobunaga receives a letter from Ageha to meet up. Once they do, the first thing Nobunaga did was to knee kick her gut! Seems she knows this Ageha is fake because of the way she addressed her. She is Kotarou in disguise and Nobunaga doesn’t let her finish her introduction as she sticks another kick into her face. Poor girl. As expected, this is a trap by Yoshimoto to get her revenge. Yoshimoto is able to control the water as Nobunaga is made to run about. Her problem is compounded when Soun enters the fray with her flame power. Water and fire. Mmm… This is tricky. Kotarou shows that she isn’t useful in playing dead so she holds on to Nobunaga’s leg so that Yoshimoto can steal away her sword. How many more kicks can that ninja girl take? Yoshimoto revels in victory and wants Soun to finish her off. However she lost motivation since Nobunaga was so easily defeated! What the hell?! She’s sulking! Yoshimoto is about to finish the job herself when Mitsuhide intercepts. The duo team up to fight back and Soun gets her fighting spirit back. Just when Yoshimoto and Soun think they’ve got the duo trap and unleash their ultimate power, looks like they miss and Nobunaga turns the tables on them. Sessai guesses that the only way left is to surrender. Nobunaga is going to take their Secret Treasure but Yoshimoto refuses. Upon Sessai and Soun’s advice to admit defeat and try again another day, I guess it’s end of the road for now. Nobunaga prepares to take their Secret Treasure (hey! Does she not want Kotarou’s Secret Treasure?), Mitsuhide hijacks her and takes them as her own. Because Nobunaga is collecting all the Secret Treasures to return home, it means Mitsuhide will be left behind. She doesn’t want that and if she’s going to stay, Nobunaga will too. Mitsuhide runs away as she vows to collect all the other Secret Treasures. As Nobunaga gives chase, looks like another girl, Beethoven comes dropping out of the sky. Welcome to this era, kid.

In the aftermath, we see all the Sengoku generals and currently what they are doing (along with some of the minor side characters that aren’t Sengoku generals). Obviously, so as not to forget that they were there. So I’ll just mention the notable ones. Soun returns to Jun and that girl is glad to have Shinkurou back. She did say she keeps her promises, right? Yoshiteru and Sekishuusai are getting along pretty well. Bokuden is really in a movie featuring kappas. Liu Bei and Tae continue to sick with each other. Shingen and Fasad are running a chicken wing stall while Gennai runs a nearby store with her contraptions (I hope it doesn’t fail this time). Toshizou and Isami continue to annoy Souji. Till they are made to remember how ferocious she can be when she’s mad. Yoshimoto, Sessai and Kotarou soak in the hotspring. You thought Ittousai has levelled up and going crazy taking out several guard droids in space. But it turns out to be a film helm by Morse. Ieyasu continues to rise in the idol world. Lastly, it is mind blowing that Nobunaga has been chasing Mitsuhide for the entire day! Aren’t they tired? Well, they are now. They collapse at the park, catch their breath, smile at each other and hold hands. Can I assume that they are back on good terms?

Sengoku Cosplay
Looks like they’ll be staying in the modern era for the time being. I’m not sure how many more Secret Treasures they need to collect just to return but from the look of it, it is going to take a lot more. Well, not every episode has Nobunaga usurping the Sengoku general and stealing her Secret Treasure. That will be tad too boring and predictable. This makes me wonder how many Sengoku generals did arrive into this era. Well, the Miko trio certainly didn’t make it clear how many exactly is needed. How much is a lot? Besides, don’t you think that if Nobunaga actually manages to return to her own time and being the only one, wouldn’t that upset the time paradox thingy? Look at it this way. If the generals weren’t in the past but thrown into the future, then there would be no outcome of the war and thus a different future all together, right? I better not confuse myself thinking about this. And with many of the generals losing their Secret Treasure and planning to stay in the modern world for the rest of their lives, how would this impact the past? Imagine the past without any of these Sengoku generals. Yeah. Peace and quiet.

I know I said I shouldn’t be thinking too hard but the other thing that bugs me is the acceptance of the modern people of these newly arrived Sengoku generals. Shouldn’t the people be in awe and surprise, acting like they’ve seen an alien crashing into the midst of their society even though they are still humans and just from a different era? It’s like nobody makes a big deal out of it (except for that fake documentary by Morse). It’s like you’re telling me that when the Sengoku generals come, you accept them. Aren’t you curious to know about them? Sure, it is good that we see them getting used to life and interacting normally with some of the minor characters (I guess it’s better than being treated as a hostile alien), but that just feels too suspicious. Unless you’re also telling me that the people in this modern age are apathetic. Well, that seems to be more like it especially in Keiji’s story that the usual normal people don’t really give a damn when one is in trouble. That’s why you need mysterious vigilantes to uphold the peace. So that means if aliens from another planet start living among us, we don’t mind it too, huh?

I guess this anime is good in the sense that you can watch most of the episodes as stand alone as they are usually independent of each other. Each has a different story to spice up the variety. However I have mixed feelings to some of the short stories because not all of them are that good. There are some that I find boring (Ieyasu, Kenshin and Kanetsugu, Yoshiaki) and some to be quite interesting (Bokuden, Masamune, Hisahide, Tsunehisa). There are also funny ones that tickle the bone (Novel Deciders, Blade Adept and Shingen especially her interaction with Fasad) and odd ones too (Hideyoshi, Mitsuhide, Liu Bei – the pig curse part). I was this close in classifying Yoshitsugu’s arc into the boring category, the way it was dragging things. But the revelation and very sad tearful end changed my mind. I guess you could say that this is the only episode whereby my emotions flutter from one end to another quickly when the pace started to change.

As for the Sengoku characters, the myriad and colourful personalities are about the same as their colourful outfits they wear. Sometimes I can’t help think that the way they dress makes them look more like cosplayers than Sengoku generals. Don’t you think? I mean look at some of them. Yoshitsugu almost looks like a mummy girl. Bokuden looks like a little devil! Do those little bat wings really attach to her body? Anybody who likes maids would definitely pay attention to Soun (like me). Anybody who loves ninjas would identify with Kotarou and Ranmaru. Yoshimoto’s general outfit is made sexier by the fact that perhaps her boobs are too big that they had to cut the bottom of the breast part to let it ‘hang and breathe’. I think Nobunaga’s outfit can also be considered as sexy. So there you have it, a bevy of beautiful ladies not only in different outfits but across all ages too. We have adorable lolis, pretty teenagers and matured women to satisfy viewers with different taste in women. Unless you love women and thus love them all! Just no grandma. Come to think of it, if little girls like Tsunehisa, Yoshiaki and Bokuden can become Sengoku generals, what kind of a world do they live in? It is already mind blowing that men don’t exist in their time so unless you tell me it’s some parallel world thingy then maybe it would be more believable. Because in the modern era, there are men all around, right? So how can it not men be not in the past? Don’t tell me they don’t exist yet ;p. And for some of the Sengoku generals to be taking up different types of occupations from idols to sword instructors to models and students, wow, it shows that they can do more than just fight and adapt quickly to the current age. I guess everyone has that hidden inner potential waiting for a chance to shine.

Because of the many characters (not even counting the minor ones from the modern world), some do not make many screen time appearances and only appear once (do not count the final episode end credits). So to say that their character isn’t properly fleshed out is not accurate because since the story is sufficient for one episode, the character itself would also be sufficient for one episode. Like Bashou, Gennai, Hisahide, Kenji, Liu Bei, the Novel Deciders trio, Shingen, Kojurou, Tsunehisa and Zenjubou. It feels like they come and go. You see them, watch them, then forget about them once their role is over. Some appear twice or thrice like Ieyasu, Yoshiteru and Sekishuusai. Slightly more would be Mitsuhide, Yoshimoto and Soun. If you want to put all of the Sengoku generals in then I figure 50 episodes won’t even be enough. So you will notice that some characters don’t get an episode of their own like Rikyuu, Ittousai, Kotarou and Sessai. Of course Nobunaga as the main star has the most appearance but even so that isn’t in every episode. Her haughty and arrogant attitude is perhaps what drives her to be the best. How can Japan’s greatest conqueror achieve success if she’s a wuss? As for Mitsuhide, I felt she is just a confused girl. Torn between her love and loyalty for Nobunaga. I guess in the end she really decided that she wants to be with her no matter where she goes. The Miko trio are also a mystery because they make their cameo appearances in nearly every episode. Usually as unimportant extra characters. You can easily spot them because their animal features stand out like a sore thumb. I don’t know, their cameo gives a feeling of “Oh! We’re here! We’re here! Spot us! Spot us!”.

While I have no qualms about the drawing and art of the characters as they look like your typical Japanese kawaii anime girls, I can’t say the same for the background and scenery. If you don’t pay attention, you may not notice it but sometimes it is to a point whereby it is too obvious. It is like somebody couldn’t finish the artwork in time so much so they let some kids do the sketching and there you have the sketch-like background and scenery you see in each episode. It got from bad to worse in Yoshitsugu’s episode so much so I thought the producers may have given up on putting quality in the backdrops. But I feel that such ‘poor quality’ art was to reflect the slums and depression in that episode. Well, this series is a collaboration of Brain Base which brought us Mawaru Penguindrum (another series that has unique art visuals), Baccano, Kamisama Dolls, Spice And Wolf and Tonari No Kaibutsu-kun. Another thing I noticed is that, though it is not apparent in every episode, most of the episodes you can see some round flower mark or something equivalent to it on the screen. I may be wrong but I think those are the family crest and emblem of the Sengoku warriors and I’m not sure why they serve as huge watermarks in the background. I thought it is somewhat annoying sometimes because it distracts you. For the mid-intermission, the Sengoku general featured in that episode will have her mug featured in a monotone picture. The first one seems okay but come the second picture, it has a little fanservice because the girls are nude (or close to it) and in sexy/tempting positions. Don’t worry, the necessary parts are covered/blocked/not shown.

Due to the nature of each episode serving as a standalone and mini story of its own, there is an extensive of seiyuus cast to play the many characters from the main ones to supporting characters and even the extra roles. And boy, there are many of them. Those I recognize include Mamiko Noto as Kenshin (Enma Ai in Jigoku Shoujo), Yui Horie as Liu Bei (Kotori in Da Capo), Kana Hanazawa as Ieyasu (Kobato in Kobato), Eri Kitamura as Tsunehisa (Karen in Bakemonogatari), Miyuki Sawashiro as Zenjubou (Himeko Inaba in Kokoro Connect), Ai Shimizu as Yoshimoto (Ren in DearS), Youko Hikasa as Mitsuhide (Mio in K-ON!) and Ryoko Shintani as Shingen (Rihoko in Amagami SS). I guess it will be a pain to list down the rest so I’ll just state the notable ones that include Rumi Ookubo as Nobunaga (Chinatsu in YuruYuri), Ayumi Tsunematsu as Masamune (Maiya in Fate/Zero), Kaori Nazuka as Hideyoshi (Yui in To Love-Ru), Mai Nakahara as Kanetsugu (Mai in Mai-HiME), Rina Satou as Yoshiteru (Haruka in Minami-ke), Ryou Hirohashi as Soun (Alice in Aria The Animation), Masumi Asano as Keiji (Hakufu in Ikkitousen) and Hisahide (Motoko in Ghost In The Shell). Other seiyuus having small parts that I recognize include Ai Nonaka as Ai (Fuura in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei), Ami Koshimizu as Kotarou (Horo in Spice And Wolf), Kana Ueda as Ageha (Rin in Fate/Stay Night), Rie Kugimiya as Misawa (Happy in Fairy Tail) and Tsubasa Yonaga as Kaoru (Nova in Arcana Famiglia). Some like Atsuko Ai Shimizu and Kana Hanazawa do portray extra roles but those are minor one off characters so if your ears are sharp enough, you’ll recognize them.

The first opening theme by ABCHO is Me Wo Toshite Gyusshi Yo which is a rock outfit with a little bit of techno in it. The first ending theme is Unlucky Girl by Sweety and is very swing-like. Sometimes it makes me want to shuffle my feet. Sweety also sings for the second opening theme, Back Into My World. The song is sung with her powerful vocals and you can hear the pounding of the piano in the background despite being ‘covered’ by the strings. For the second ending theme, Darling To Madonna by Yuu Kikkawa feels likes anime rock pop mix with some vocal effects. There are a couple of insert songs with Kana Hanazawa doing Love Scope and Yuka Terasaki singing Misty Moon. Though there are a variety of background music, I happen to notice that the main ones lean towards the swing genre.

Considering that they have already made Sengoku generals adapt to our modern lifestyle, I am pondering if they are ever going to make another sequel or at least a spin-off, I’m thinking that they would be putting in characters from other eras. I mean, they already had one from Romance of the Three Kingdoms and though the latest one at the end I am not sure if she is that famous German composer, but there’s a possibility that they may even have classical music composers and gasp, past American Presidents coming into this era of modern technology. It would definitely be an eyebrow raiser to see the woman side in Mozart, Chopin and Bach, not to mention George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. Scorn them or love them. How about mashing in Greek and Roman Gods, European fairytales and famous comic book superheroes as well? Think I’m going too far overboard? Yeah, that will be one hell of a massive collection then.

How do you get students especially boys to have an interest in the boring and dry subject of history? Why, change all the historical figures into females of course! I thought I had seen it all during my stint with Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls but it seems Sengoku Otome Momoiro Paradox is doing it all over again. Just like in the former series, this series has its characters based on historical characters from Japan’s colourful history. The Sengoku period (Warring States era) in particular whereby Japan would be unified under the Tokugawa Shogunate.

However for this anime, the producers just didn’t came out with the idea from thin air because this series is based on a pachinko game of the same name (most animes are adapted either from manga or video games). I don’t know. I’ve never played pachinko in my life before nor have I been someone who is even curious enough to find out the basic rules of the game but I guess this theme is particular popular in Japan so much so the idea of adapting it into an anime series seems called for. Call it a man’s (perverted) fantasy because to turn the man who reunited all of Japan into a woman seems like an insult. Now why would you do that? It’s like turning George Washington or Abraham Lincoln into the opposite sex, right?

In this show, we have a petite ditzy school girl named Yoshino “Hideyoshi” Hide. To describe her in a word: She’s a trouble magnet. Yeah, she even admitted that herself. Bad luck follows her like her own shadow. Not that she enjoys it but it’s part of life. Things turn for the worse when she is mysteriously teleported back to the feudal era and is roped into help the feudal lord gather pieces of armour to conquer the land. She didn’t just go back in time. Perhaps an alternate parallel world because everyone here are females! Where have all the young men gone? Gone to graveyards everyone? Haha. Don’t even start about being abducted by aliens. And to think that she has experienced the worst in life and things wouldn’t get even worse than this. Thrust back into an era whereby iPod, iPhones and even the most basic of handphones are even unheard of. Bet you even know the history of these gadgets more than your own country’s struggle, trials and tribulations, eh?

Episode 1
Yoshino thought she could sneak in unnoticed for her history class (blame her bad luck on getting to class) but was eventually found out by her history teacher, Masamune Date. Hideyoshi is giving lots of excuses why she can’t sleep earlier or take the early train so history freak Date (see all the ancient items in her room!) warns if she fails the next test, she will have to sit for supplementary classes throughout summer vacation. Oh God! Entire summer on history?! No way! Needing a quick way out of it, Hideyoshi goes to pray at a nearby shrine to pass her tests. Seriously, for a girl who has bad luck almost her entire life trying to get good luck? What are the chances? And she has only 1 Yen to spare. Pathetic. I’m sure the Gods aren’t amused. Hideyoshi spots something going on in the room behind the shrine. This is just the start of her bad luck streak. After slipping on a pachinko ball, tripping, nearly having the bell fall on her, she stumbles into the room while some mysterious character is doing some mysterious prayer procession and whoosh! In a flash she is transported to the mountains. Where could this be? The nearby village is on fire. Hideyoshi is still confused and thought she saw her friend-cum-classmate, Mitsuhide Akechi. Mitsuhide doesn’t recognize her though Hideyoshi thinks everything that has happened so far isn’t funny. Confronted with a band of bandits, out of the fire comes Nobunaga Oda. She swings her Blade of Cruelty to save the day. Hideyoshi is brought back to Nobunaga’s castle and she thinks the castle that is void of lights is to save electricity! Still in denial, eh? Worse, there is no signal for her handphone. Nobunaga has never seen such a device before and her suggestion to fix it is to smash it! Well, that always works if you see it on TV, right? Only thing is there is no TV here! Hideyoshi’s handphone is precious to her (who doesn’t value their handphone these days?) but Mitsuhide doesn’t trust her. However Nobunaga thinks of having her help them out. She looks different and her heart is telling her that she isn’t just an ordinary girl (a girl with bad luck is more like it). Hideyoshi insists she wants to go home and fails to realize that she may have gone to a different era when she couldn’t even recognize if there was such a big castle in her neighbourhood. Still in denial? No train stations, no hamburgers, no nothing. Checking her history textbook to confirm, the only thing that puzzles her is that everyone here is female. I guess she got lost so Nobunaga picks her back to her castle. Looks like she’ll be living here for a while. Mitsuhide not happy with that. But she isn’t going to just be a freeloader. Hideyoshi has to help Nobunaga to gather the Crimson Armour. Legend has it that a general who wore it will certainly conquer the land. However the general incurred the god’s wrath and lost his life while the armour scattered and lost throughout the land. Nobunaga seeks the Crimson Armour for her conquest and to unite Japan as a nation. Hideyoshi gladly accepts her task till she can find a way back home. Later Hideyoshi runs into a dog with a helmet. The odd part is, this dog can talk!

Episode 2
It’s hard adjusting to life without modern amenities, eh? Note, I wouldn’t call this bad luck. Referring to her history textbook again and puzzled that everyone here are girls, she thinks they are historical cosplaying otakus! That’s a nice way of putting it but no, it doesn’t help her situation. Nobunaga gives Hideyoshi a proper dress to wear since she’ll stand out like a sore thumb with her school uniform. Then along with Mitsuhide, they go revisit the burnt village (Hideyoshi’s butt must be hurting from that horse ride – I wanted to make a sex-related joke here but I had to refrain). They see everyone working hard picking up the pieces as Mitsuhide announces Nobunaga’s visit to cheer them for their hard work despite their sorrow. However to Hideyoshi, mere words won’t be just enough. She gets involved with the villagers, attracting them with her handphone music. Nobunaga notices she easily captured the peasants’ hearts and is correct to have chosen her. As a reward, Hideyoshi is given her own room back in the castle albeit small but it’s good enough. Seeing how plain and bare her wooden room is, she decides to do some interior decorating. I’m sure such words are alien to Mitsuhide. The helmet dog runs into her again. He is Shiro and seems he too is not of this world and knows Hideyoshi is also from a different world. Guess what? Shiro is the only guy here but I wouldn’t count him because he’s a dog… Shiro may seem knowledgeable but when Hideyoshi asks about how people are born here (because there are no men), he returns to that children’s story of stork delivery or from the cabbage. Duh. More importantly, he isn’t sure if she can return to her own world. So much for being smart. Smart ass more like it. Next morning, Mitsuhide is appalled Hideyoshi has decorated her room (I find it rather okay) but Nobunaga finds it nice. Plus, Shiro reverts to a normal dog whenever he is with others. Looks like he only ‘talks’ to Hideyoshi. Mitsuhide still isn’t thrilled with Hideyoshi and challenges her to several matches to show her the true spirit of a warrior. Seriously, challenge a girl like Hideyoshi? As expected, Hideyoshi fails badly in all the matches. Whether it is dagger throwing, shooting arrows or cutting the hay with the sword. In a face to face duel with Mitsuhide, Hideyoshi pulls off some kung fu moves she loves discussing with her friends. As flashy and entertaining this last bout may be, eventually Hideyoshi lost. In fact, she lost all her matches. Nobunaga is impressed and wants her to continue learning martial arts under Mitsuhide (Grrr…). She also wants Hideyoshi to call her “My Lord” and be her official retainer like Mitsuhide. Later eye-patched Masamune talks to Mitsuhide about information of a piece of the Crimson Armour. Yoshimoto Imagawa has the left leg piece. Mitsuhide will make arrangements to leave with Nobunaga for negotiations.

Episode 3
Archer Yoshimoto learns from her retainer, Ieyasu Tokugawa that Nobunaga is on her way here to negotiate for her Crimson Armour part. She is so bored that she can’t wait to meet her. Nobunaga and her retainers are on their way to meet Yoshimoto. Because whiny Hideyoshi has been complaining nonstop, they decide to stop at the next sweets stall. However they are surrounded by Yoshimoto and her guards. Hideyoshi thought she saw her other friend too, but Ieyasu doesn’t recognize her. Though Yoshimoto sees no use of the armour, she also has no reason to give it to her. She challenges Nobunaga to break through her army to get it. If she can. The trio rest in a nearby inn. Nobunaga thinks Yoshimoto has no real intentions of fighting and scoffs off Mitsuhide’s idea of raising an army to just get the armour. Hideyoshi has an idea: Recreation. Do they even know what that word means? They’ll find out. Nobunaga sends a sarcastic letter of challenge to Yoshimoto that they should settle this between generals or she’ll be a laughing stock for generations. Clearly Yoshimoto has fallen for it. At Okehazama, the generals will fight in a best of 3 matches. The match will be decided via draw from a box. So this is recreation? Each of them can write what kind of duel they want so Nobunaga further taunts Yoshimoto to write all “Archery” if she feels she is just good at that. Yup, she has fallen for it again. The first match is a wrestling match between Mitsuhide and Ieyasu. Mitsuhide has the upper-hand but some magical force causes her leg to trip, thus giving Ieyasu the winning point. Then Nobunaga wins the beach volleyball match (I’m surprised they know how to play it) and it seems this isn’t just a best of 3 match because they played every other match in the box. The last one will settle it since both sides are levelled. It’ll be kite fighting. Ieyasu and Hideyoshi will be tied to the kite. Why Hideyoshi? Because she’s the lightest. Hah! She’ll never diet again. In addition to Nobunaga and Yoshimoto battling it out, Ieyasu and Hideyoshi will also have to duke it out. Plus, a large firework is strapped to each of the kite’s back and after a certain time, the fuse will be lit. Is this really kite fighting? Ieyasu thought she had cut her own fuse so she is safe from the blast but it seems Yoshimoto has taken the liberty to replace it! So Ieyasu’s kite blast off first. She is falling down like a rock. Hideyoshi wants to save her so Nobunaga is impressed with her pity for the enemy and swoops the kite down to grab her. However at this point, Hideyoshi’s fuse lights up and they are both sent blasting into the sky. I can’t believe the water was their safe landing after falling from that height. In the end, Yoshimoto gives Nobunaga her armour piece. She isn’t interested in conquering the land but would prefer watching how Nobunaga will do so. However Ieyasu takes a personal interest in the armour even if her master doesn’t. As reward for her ‘bravery’, Nobunaga gives Hideyoshi a sack of mochi sweets. Was it worth it? Later Hideyoshi refers to her textbook to find that Yoshimoto was killed at Okehazama and this is where Nobunaga’s conquest began. But more importantly, Hideyoshi knew Shiro was peeping at the ladies taking a bath and whacks him. It didn’t help when he mentioned he wasn’t interested with those without breasts.

Episode 4
Nobunaga and her retainers are watching the eternal battle between Kenshin Uesugi of Echigo and Shingen Takeda of Kai. Seriously, after 598 straight draws, where the heck did they get so much energy still? A rumour has it that the fight started over something trivial but Hideyoshi thinks they get along well because they seem to be enjoying the fight. Nobunaga finds her answer interesting. Hideyoshi thinks of snapping a picture of their fight but she got a little too close and the impact wrecks her handphone. However Nobunaga isn’t here for just sightseeing. These 2 have part of the Crimson Armour she needs and negotiating and exchange for gold did not turn out favourable. Why would they sell their family treasure for money? Mitsuhide has an idea. Side with one of them to defeat the other. As reward, they’ll get the armour from the loser and as reward from the winner. Nobunaga reprimands Mitsuhide for using such a cowardly tactic. That night, Mitsuhide bumps into Ieyasu in the forest. Ieyasu knows her wish to make Nobunaga happy and advises her to do something that will accomplish that. Because Hideyoshi is still complaining about her broken handphone, she excuses herself when Nobunaga makes light of it. She then stumbles Mitsuhide scheming to launch a secret night strike with several guards in a shed. Being the dumb blonde, she got tied up in the woodshed. Nobunaga went looking for Hideyoshi and spots her handphone on the ground before finding the tied up girl and learned everything. I don’t know if Mitsuhide was a slow ass or Nobunaga was just super fast because the latter managed to get ahead of Mitsuhide and stopped her dead in her tracks. She is not happy that she disobeyed her order of no interference. As punishment, she got spectacles drawn over her face. Next day, Nobunaga cuts into Kenshin and Shingen’s match to battle her for the armour. She mocks their weak fights because there is no apparent winner and that they seem to be enjoying it. A war means taking lives. Nobunaga fights Shingen first and her deadly aura is proof she is serious in wanting the armour to conquer the land. Shingen questions her desire for it but she questions them back why they don’t seek it. Nobunaga wins her match. Shingen agrees to give her the armour with a condition that she takes her head. She doesn’t want to live with shame. She is ready to do so but Kenshin cuts in between. She wants Nobunaga to spare Shingen’s life and take hers instead. Nobunaga backs out with an excuse that their heads aren’t worth displaying. In the end, she got both their armours. Her retainers thought it was a brilliant plan to let Kenshin plead for Shingen’s life but Nobunaga really did intend to take Shingen’s head. Kenshin and Shingen continue their fight while noting Nobunaga’s strength as the real deal. Since Nobunaga ‘won’ that match, they can’t let her take the lead in their battle.

Episode 5
Yoshimoto is so bored but she won’t conquer the land as suggested by Ieyasu. Instead, she will go hawk hunting with Nobunaga. Well, seems Shingen and Kenshin invited themselves not because they want to regain the armour but they heard there will be a banquet. The hawk is skilled enough to get a pheasant. Nobunaga asks Hideyoshi what meat she wanted and her reply was a bunny to keep. The hawk enters the thick dark forest and never came out. So the ladies went in to look for it. They stumble upon an area believed to be the burial grounds for those beheaded during the war. They are surprised to see Masamune telling ghost stories to real zombies! She’s not doing it for fun, you know. In order to leave, they must tell 100 stories that satisfy the dead. Ghost stories. She seeks their help but they don’t believe her and try to walk away to find the hawk but each time find themselves returning to the same spot. No choice, they have to join in the ghost story. Something Mitsuhide is very weak at. The ladies take turn telling their ghost stories and at the end of each story, a candle will be burnt out. All must be out to complete the ritual. Mitsuhide becomes the annoying scaredy cat, screaming and whining even before the story turns scary. So much so she had to be tied up several times to be shut up. I don’t know why they even let her try. She got spooked out by her own story. But at the rate they are going, it’s going to take an awful long time and they have run out of stories. Nobunaga intends to tell the scariest story that will blow away all the candles. Hideyoshi thinks she has a scary one so Nobunaga forces her to whisper it to her. Seems the zombies are quivering in fear whenever Nobunaga speaks or struggles (Hideyoshi trying to calm her master down). In the end, all the candles are out and the zombies see Nobunaga as one who is worthy of ruling the land. The ladies not only found their way out, they also found the hawk and the rabbit Hideyoshi wanted. Ieyasu is talking to a ninja named Hanzou about Nobunaga’s conquest and that she will snatch the armour from her once she gathers it all. Hideyoshi spots them but didn’t think of anything much. The ladies have a good feast except for Hideyoshi because she wanted to rabbit alive as a pet not as fried meat! Yeah, Nobunaga forces her to eat it! Do rabbits taste like chicken?

Episode 6
On a rainy day, Mitsuhide remembers how she first met Nobunaga. Then, she was serving under Lord Kubou. She heard a commotion that Nobunaga challenged several ladies to wrestling to relieve her boredom. None of them impressed her so Mitsuhide was forced to take part. Though Mitsuhide lost, she wasn’t that bad and Nobunaga took an interest in her. Next day, Nobunaga forced Mitsuhide to go out and enjoy with her because the latter is always cooked up in her room writing. They had fun by the river and farming with the villagers before returning. Nobunaga tastes Mitsuhide’s great tea making and wishes her to be her retainer for she wants to conquer the land and needs her wisdom and talent. She was happy she said those words solely directed at her and the rest was history. Meanwhile Nobunaga decides to show Hideyoshi a secret place. Entering a secret passage that goes through the behinds of the castle walls laden with traps (one wrong move and you’re dead!). Hideyoshi wonders why she carries a pipe she never smokes. It’s a good luck charm given by her grandma. She recounts her mom reprimanded her for being a tomboy (she beat up girls who refused to listen to her). Grandma took her to see the water that runs through the village. With mastery of water, fields grow. But force them to obey and they will rebel. The hearts of women are like water. You must not use force. She gives her a pipe and whenever she feels angry or wanting to get violent, grip it tightly and wait for it to pass. Continuing the journey, Hideyoshi accidentally sets off a series of traps. It’s amazing they manage to evade it all by the skin of their teeth. Not bad considering a girl with bad luck. Or is it she’s with mighty Nobunaga? Eventually they got swept away by the underwater currents. Mitsuhide is practising in the rain and is joined by Masamune. She asks why Masamune doesn’t take the armour herself seeing she has information of the armour’s location. She’s not up to the task herself and doesn’t have talent for war nor is she a warrior. Masamune notes that Nobunaga has recently taken an interest in Hideyoshi but sees Mitsuhide more than sufficient. She must be expecting greater things from her. Mitsuhide pledges to see Nobunaga’s wish fulfilled even if it costs her her life. Suddenly Nobunaga and Hideyoshi wash up through a pond in front of them. Once Nobunaga and her retainers leave for her castle, Masamune takes off her eye-patch. Seems she is Date sensei from the future. Flashback reveals she was passing the shrine and a bright light caught her attention. Some guy possibly from the future (because of the futuristic-like clothes) disappeared in her arms but not before a gadget is dropped. Date used that gadget to do some ritual when Hideyoshi distracted her and sent them back to this era.

Episode 7
It’s that time of year again whereby Nobunaga will hold a festival for her people. Mitsuhide has once again prepared for dancing miko priestesses but Hideyoshi came out with an idea of putting on a play like a cultural festival. So the stage is under construction while Shiro offers her ideas for the script. In short, they all seem perverted and Shiro as the lustful hero. Not going to work. Hideyoshi thinks of asking the rest but seeing how ‘busy’ they are with their own work (more like being scary), the eager beaver who will help her out is Yoshimoto. She has lots of tales in her collection and even some that are steamy and yuri. I guess Hideyoshi has to agree with this but will have some parts changed. Hanzou reports to Ieyasu about the play. Everyone else practice their lines including a scene whereby Nobunaga receives the love of everyone. Yes, everyone! I don’t know, it felt like a big orgy scene. So much so it stimulated Shiro so much that he flew so far away into the big lake. Hideyoshi on her way back suddenly meets Shingen who offers her great food in exchange for a good part in the play. Subsequently Kenshin also does the same but with nice praises instead. Yoshimoto goes overboard with all the fancy clothes that will make her stand out in the play (why are there modern dresses like Bunny Playboy?!) while Mitsuhide is enjoying the moment she’ll get to be close to her lord. Ieyasu meets Hideyoshi to spice things up. She thinks of making Nobunaga go crazy by slicing everyone so that she can save the day and kill her. During the play, Mitsuhide gets stage fright, some ad-lib parts, Kenshin and Shingen thinking they’re outshining the other and Yoshimoto’s flashy entrance. No matter what, the crowd is just screaming all the way. Do they really understand what’s going on? Beats me either. As they get prepared for the final love scene, Hanzou thinks of helping her master out and sets fire to the stage. That dumb ninja didn’t expect the fire to get so big and out of hand, eh? Everyone manages to evacuate except for Hideyoshi who is still inside. But Nobunaga busts out with her like a true hero. That wasn’t part of the play. Even if the stage is burnt down, everyone loves it and is considered a success. Ieyasu punishes Hanzou for her folly. Masamune tells Nobunaga the remaining 3 pieces of the Crimson Armour. They are all in Saigoku.

Episode 8
I don’t know how far Saigoku is but Nobunaga and her retainers must be walking an awful long time. At least to Hideyoshi. Can’t they ride horses? What? Up the mountain and through the forests? Stopping by a nearby town, the villagers run and hide upon hearing Nobunaga’s name. They get wind that there are rumours spread by a person named Mitsuhide that Nobunaga takes their babies and devours them. Eh? Mitsuhide? She remembers when she sent her guards to spread Nobunaga’s mighty strength throughout the land and when she arrives, she will pat the heads of babies and children. Somehow along the way, it got twisted. Yeah, communication by mouth wasn’t such a clean, clear and efficient mode of communication back then. At least it is a good sign to know what to expect in the next town. However they got lost. Hideyoshi must be tired climbing mountains after mountains, eh? Two more mountains and they think they’ll reach a village. They think. Start moving Hideyoshi! Close by and unknown to them, Masamune is tailing them and everything is going as planned. They stop by an inn run by a priestess. Her principle means she cannot shoo them away just because Nobunaga is rumoured to be a terrible person. Hideyoshi is having so much fun frolicking and swimming in the hotspring that she got ill. Play some more lah. It doesn’t help that the medicine she took is believed to be made out of dried and then boiled horse manure and worms. How can you even feel better knowing that?! Hideyoshi’s fever gets worse that night. She thinks she won’t make it but Nobunaga believes in her energy. She will stay by her side and have Mitsuhide rest because she can’t afford to let her get sick as well. The priestess comes in to give Nobunaga a medicine pill. Something she has never seen before and most likely an expensive pill from overseas. The pill is said to be from a traveller (Masamune – man, she has a bag filled with modern medicine). The priestess is glad to know that Nobunaga isn’t as horrible as painted by the rumours. Nobunaga feeds the pill to Hideyoshi. She sees her crying in her sleep, not wanting her lord to leave her. Because she is too weak, Nobunaga uses her mouth to give her water. From this point of view, Mitsuhide sees them as kissing and is shocked. Next morning, Hideyoshi is feeling all better. She tells her about the strange dream she had whereby Nobunaga kissed her. But she dismisses doing anything like that. Maybe it’s because Hideyoshi didn’t explain properly what a kiss is. Lips and lips together… But clearly, Mitsuhide is the one who is not happy with it all. The trio continue their journey till they reach the seaside of Saigoku. Nobunaga notes Mitsuhide’s red eyes but she brushes it off as the journey getting to her. In her heart, she notes that her feelings aren’t reaching her lord. From afar, not only Hanzou is spying on them but the owners of the final 3 pieces of the Crimson Armour as well. They plan to give Nobunaga a proper greeting.

Episode 9
While they are taking a break, the Crimson Armour holders make their flashy long-winded introduction. The axe wielding Motochika Chousokabe, Sourin Ootomo (I thought she looked like Chrno Crusade’s Rosette) with her big Don Frankie cannon and Motonari Mouri with mean looking claws. Nobunaga just blasts them away with her Blade of Cruelty. Haha! They are tied up and forced to tell the whereabouts of the armour. Via tickling, that is. Nobunaga orders Mitsuhide to collect the armour stashed in the wooden chest inside the nearby hut. Because Mitsuhide’s heart is clouded, she couldn’t tell the box is a trap and the swords that sprung up nearly killed Nobunaga if not for her quick reflexes. Nobunaga is going to make the trio pay but they manage to free themselves and kidnap Hideyoshi. If they want her, they must come to the top of the mountain. Nobunaga’s expression is clearly not good. While journeying up to the mountain, Mitsuhide apologizes for her carelessness but she wants her to make up for it via her actions. The duo jump away from incoming missiles but it is clearly a trap to separate them. They will continue their journey separately. Mitsuhide continues to ponder if Nobunaga has abandoned her when she comes into Motochika and Sourin with Hideyoshi tied to the tree while Nobunaga and Motonari prepare to clash in a misty forest. But it’s not just a mist. In fact, the wind is carrying anaesthetic that is paralyzing Nobunaga. Before Motonari could kill her, Nobunaga stands up and blocks her blow. She tells her off that they are not as weak as they think. The final swing of her Blade of Cruelty ends the match. On the other side, Mitsuhide is having an explosive hide-and-seek battle. Reflecting on her selfishness to be close to Nobunaga, she finds the strength to fight back. Making adjustments to some of the traps, Mitsuhide manages to corner them, uses Don Frankie against them and free Hideyoshi. They meet up with Nobunaga and Mitsuhide is happy enough to think Nobunaga will be pleased with her achievements. However when Hideyoshi starts running into Nobunaga’s arms, it’s that jealous feeling again. She doesn’t even feel honoured when Nobunaga praises her. Is it too late for her? If you know your history, you would know what happened between Nobunaga and Mitsuhide, right? Elsewhere, Ieyasu and Masamune are prepared to make their move to steal the armour.

Episode 10
The trio stop at Honnouji to rest. Hmm… Does it sound familiar? Hideyoshi consults her textbook to find this is the place where Nobunaga’s loyal retainer Mitsuhide killed his own lord and this became known as the Honnouji Incident. Is history going to repeat itself? Mitsuhide is attending to Nobunaga’s bath fire and she is thinking doing a double suicide. Masamune overheard her little murmur and she talks to her about Nobunaga obsessing over the useless Hideyoshi than her. She gives Mitsuhide a deep sleeping potion. How she uses it is up to her. For the umpteenth time, Hideyoshi gets tied up to a tree again as Mitsuhide plots to serve the sake laced with the potion with Nobunaga’s meal. Once Nobunaga passes out, Mitsuhide burns the place down. I’m not sure how Hideyoshi got loose and broke free but I bet it wasn’t her growling stomach. She confronts Mitsuhide over her actions and the latter is clearly upset that since she appeared, her happiness alone with Nobunaga dissipated. Even so, Hideyoshi asks her back would it be okay if she never sees her smile again. Can she love her as the sole person she cares for? Hideyoshi rushes in to save Nobunaga. Mitsuhide unwittingly follows her in and reflects her action. She is surprised to hear Nobunaga calling her, wanting to know where the enemy is. The enemy is her heart. Apologizing for being a traitor, she will atone her sin with her life. But Nobunaga dares her not to say something so stupid. Making her read the words on her blade which reads “Conquest”, that dream will never have started if not for her. They are one and that fact will never change. There, happy enough you heard that? Though Nobunaga manages to drag Mitsuhide out, she has inhaled too much smoke and is unconscious. Finding medicine or washing her throat will take too long so the fastest way to make her breath is to… Yup, mouth to mouth resuscitation. Kiss, for short. Probably Mitsuhide wanted this kissing moment to go on forever. See that silly grin on her face? She’s alright. But are they missing someone? Hideyoshi sees Masamune stealing the Crimson Armour. A pillar nearly falls over her but was pushed out of the way. Before she passes out, she thought she saw Date sensei because of the way she addressed her. Next thing she knows, she is safe outside. Mitsuhide seeks her forgiveness over her actions but boasts that she got it 12 times as opposed to her one time (the kiss lah). Noticing Nobunaga looking for her Crimson Armour beneath the rubble, Hideyoshi realizes that Masamune and Date is the same person. Masamune is galloping away, happy that her clan’s long cherished desire will be fulfilled. However she is stopped by Ieyasu and Hanzou who want her to hand over the armour. She is going to conquer the land and will start off by killing her.

Episode 11
Nobunaga and her retainers realize Masamune’s betrayal and rushes back. They see her castle under attack and believe it is her but in actual fact it is Ieyasu and her army. Hideyoshi fell off Mitsuhide’s horse down the ravine and to her surprise finds Masamune close to dead. She reveals Ieyasu stole the armour and killed her with her magic. However Ieyasu did a big mistake on not making sure Masamune stayed dead from her blast. Masamune reveals her reason to steal the armour: So that the Date clan will conquer the land. Nobunaga and Mitsuhide have no time to chat so they continue their rush back to the castle. Hideyoshi confirms with Masamune that she is indeed her teacher. She explains the event of using the futuristic gadget. She really wanted to go back to the Warring States era to find the armour but ended up in this world instead and got Hideyoshi caught in it all. I don’t know how Hideyoshi found a horse but she did. As they gallop their way back to the castle, Date continues her revelation that she is a descendent of the Date clan. Her ancestors dreamt of conquest but never got it. For generations, they tried to make this a reality and forge Japan on how it truly should be. The legend of the Crimson Armour was unheard of in Hideyoshi’s time. Date came to know about it when a clan member from the future appeared before her. That person failed in her mission and passed to her a scroll about the armour before disappearing. She didn’t believe everything but when she saw the data in the gadget that only Date clan members would know, she had to check it out to confirm. If it didn’t exist, she would forget everything that has happened. Returning to her home town and following her dim recollection of the data, she found a scroll and a crystal that was exactly like the one fitted in the gadget. That’s when Date felt that this was more than just coincidence that person appeared before her. It’s like fate. So if Date clan gets their hands on the armour, they will rule Japan. Erm, isn’t that changing history? Well, she wants to fix this perverted history because if a proper doesn’t rule Japan, a proper history is impossible. Hey, what makes her think her clan is proper? She thinks Nobunaga or Ieyasu’s conquering will not change the world and for it to be led back to its correct path, a Date clan member must rule. Again, what makes her think her clan is so righteous? All Hideyoshi can think of the armour is making her crazy. Even so, Date feels the armour has its worth.

Ieyasu is trekking through the castle walls laden with traps. She uses unlucky Hanzou to activate all the traps so she can pass through safely. I guess in a way Hanzou must be darn lucky not to have died, eh? Nobunaga and Mitsuhide have reached the main gate of the castle but her troops can’t break in due to Ieyasu’s spell barrier. Ieyasu finally reaches the room with the armour. Knowing the traps, she sends Hanzou in. I thought this was a joke because each time Hanzou goes in and falls through the fake floor, Ieyasu orders her to go in again. I was thinking, man, this Hanzou is quick to get out from the bottomless pit. Since unveiling fake floors is taking an awful long time, Ieyasu orders all Hanzous to go in at once!!! OMG! There are lots of Hanzou clones! And all of them fell through! Big joke. But it revealed the true path to the armour. Careful, watch your step. Ieyasu activates the armour and Date’s futuristic gadget starts responding. Date cannot believe that the armour is being activated since the crystal is the only thing that could activate it, the reason she never told anyone else. But looks like it worked against her. Date says that if Ieyasu wears the armour without the crystal, she will go out of control. Shiro has been watching Ieyasu all the while because he wanted to see how far her magic could take her. He tries to stop her but seriously, that small fry can’t stand up to anything. Ieyasu puts on the armour and it feels like a henshin scene from a mahou shoujo series. Hey, how come the armour has become so sexy? I believe it looked intimidating and fit for a male body. But now, especially the chest plate has all those curves! Feels like cosplay, eh? Hideyoshi and Date return to Nobunaga and Mitsuhide. Date explains those who wear the armour with evil in their soul will gain power to destroy the land. In short, she has awakened the evil heart hidden within it. Ieyasu has become so powerful and evil, that a very big insignia appears above the land. Oh sh*t!

Episode 12
Mitsuhide wants to know who the hell Masamune is since she knows so much. I’m sure she tries to explain her best in detail about being from the future with all that futuristic mumbo-jumbo terms. As Nobunaga understands, she’s from another country, right? Haha. All the Hanzous are willing to serve their new lord but Ieyasu tells them to disappear as her first order because she doesn’t need weaklings and blasts them out of the tower. Nobunaga uses her Blade of Cruelty to break through the barrier. Finally. If she had done this in the first place, they wouldn’t have wasted so much time and energy trying, right? They see the Hanzous badly beaten. They plead to save Ieyasu but Nobunaga refuses since she brought this upon herself. As show of power, Ieyasu unleashes several blasts. Nobunaga orders her army to evacuate but they would rather give their lives as her shield. However Nobunaga tells them they aren’t just running away but to help the people to evacuate. If they are true people of Owari, they should place the lives of people first instead of their lord. Immediately they oblige her order. Yoshimoto comes by and was told what happened. I guess she didn’t understand the magnitude of the problem and nearly got fried by her blast if Nobunaga hadn’t pushed her away. Mitsuhide decides to play hero by getting the job done herself even if it costs her life. Unfortunately she couldn’t even touch Ieyasu and is sent crashing down. If not for Kenshin and Shingen, it would be splat for her. Nobunaga slaps her never to pull that stunt again. Probably the big hug reached her brain. Nobunaga pleads for them to help her to stop Ieyasu from hurting innocent peasants and will take any blame later on. That’s when the Saigoku trio appear. Do they want a piece of the action too? Seems the reason these ladies are appearing now is because they had a premonition of the disaster the armour would bring not because it’s going to be a big bang finale with all the ladies. Okay, maybe that is the reason too

Hideyoshi is distraught that Ieyasu won’t get out of this unscathed. But it is the only way if they are going to restore order. Hideyoshi doesn’t want to lose her friend, what more she getting killed. Nobunaga accepts her challenge to bring her back alive seeing it is more difficult to keep her alive than dead. The warrior heroines rush up the tower (I wonder how Sourin managed to run up with her big cannon) but Ieyasu’s blast makes them start from ground zero again. Can’t even get close. Mitsuhide notes she is too strong for them to attack separately and has a plan. That plan is for them to attack her continuously in succession, without giving her any breathing space or regain herself. Finally Ieyasu comes face to face with Nobunaga. She uses her Blade of Cruelty. So powerful that not only Ieyasu’s wand breaks and her armour coming off, but it also devastated the entire castle grounds! Shocking! Ieyasu wakes up to her normal self, her Hanzous are glad she is safe. Ieyasu chides them as useless but hard to kill. That wasn’t a compliment! But true isn’t it? Ieyasu is made to say out loud her apology for what she had done. Nobunaga feels she should’ve done that from the start and that humans should be honest with their feelings. I guess she took her words seriously because Ieyasu now wants to call Nobunaga her onee-sama and live by her side to atone for her sins! Say what? She is taken in by her elegance and beauty and hugs her. Now she is her fated person to? Oh, this doesn’t sit well with Mitsuhide. And she thought having Hideyoshi out of the picture was the end of it and now she has got to deal with this stubborn brat. Let the rivalry begin! But for Hideyoshi, she’s glad everyone is back to normal. You call this normal? I guess it’s better than people dying, right?

Episode 13
Nobunaga’s castle is being rebuilt as the lord herself sees off the Saigoku trio. Masamune’s future gadget starts beeping and this leads her to the Crimson Armour underneath the rubble. Oh great. Now her evil hopes are back. Hideyoshi didn’t want her sensei to turn into that conquest-mad woman again but Masamune reiterates that she has to fix things and loathes their world filled with selfish people who don’t care about others (look who’s talking). Even if she can’t change their world, at least she would make this one a utopia. She tries coaxing Hideyoshi to help her. But Nobunaga wants Masamune to show her resolve if that is the case. With the crowd building up and watching, Nobunaga explains she once thought like her. All she dreamt was conquest and would defeat anyone who stood in her way. But that won’t be true conquest because it would be ruling by force. True conquest is to rule equally all over. When she fought Ieyasu, she realized she was powerless. It is the help of others that she was able to win. Conquest isn’t about force. It’s about believing in people and having them believe in you. And if Masamune still insists on wearing that armour and go about with her conquest, Nobunaga will gladly punish her in Heaven’s place. The other warrior ladies side by Nobunaga. The verdict? Masamune is going to show them. But look how shaky her hand is. Hideyoshi is horrified and doesn’t want any more bloodshed. Nobunaga shows Hideyoshi her answer as she breaks the armour with her blade. She believes they can forge a future themselves and not depend on the armour. I guess you have to let that go either way, right? That night, Masamune talks to Hideyoshi and notes how Nobunaga has changed when she first met her. She was ambitious but after meeting Hideyoshi, she changed. Masamune admits she always blamed others or the world if things didn’t go her way. She feels she has to change. Glad she realizes that. Seeing they have no further use in this era, it’s time to go home.

Next morning, Nobunaga and her retainers see off the other ladies. Ieyasu and Mitsuhide have that final spat over Nobunaga. Guess she can’t stay by onee-sama’s side. Once that it’s over, Hideyoshi mentions they too have to leave. Nobunaga doesn’t seem surprised and just says to tell her when they’re ready. That was easier than they thought. Masamune gets the shock of her life when she sees Hideyoshi and Shiro conversing. That evening as Nobunaga and Mitsuhide prepares to see them off, Mitsuhide returns Hideyoshi’s broken handphone that she has forgotten. To return the favour, Date advises Mitsuhide on how to seduce Nobunaga. We’ll leave that to your imagination. Hideyoshi thanks her lord but Nobunaga is the one that is doing the thanking. Without her, she would’ve killed Ieyasu and Date. She would’ve ruled her people with an iron fist and in the end get punished by the Gods. She won’t forget the days spent with her and signs off with a little advice to always believe in herself and live to the fullest. Hideyoshi gives her handphone strap as a parting gift. Date activates the crystal and they both return to the temple in their time. Hideyoshi saw the picture taken with Nobunaga and Mitsuhide on her handphone screen before it blacks out for good. She realizes it wasn’t a dream. Hideyoshi continues her daily life. Yes, the usual getting into trouble, being late for school and getting caught by Date. Hey, isn’t history repeating itself? As Hideyoshi passes by the shrine, she thought she saw a dog that looked like Shiro. Following the canine into the shrine, it is Shiro! So what is that dog in a hurry about? Well, they leave it for us to guess. Don’t tell me. He’s an alien from another dimension?!

This wasn’t what happened in history!
They just returned like that without history being altered? Besides, it might be plausible if they have gone to another parallel world as Masamune theorized. Because otherwise, why would the historical characters be females in the first place? So yeah, I believe it to be another parallel world in the past. Because in the real history, Nobunaga was really betrayed and killed by his loyal aid Mitsuhide at the Honnouji Incident before the traitor himself is killed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Furthermore, it is also true that Yoshimoto died at his hands at Okehazama’s battle. So in this world whereby both of these characters are still alive, don’t you think history has been altered and should in some ways affect the future? But something is stopping me from being totally convinced by that fact. Date’s future descendents. Unless they come from a different parallel world in the future, going back to the past to change history could only mean they really wanted to alter the history as we know it. After all, winners are the ones that get to write history, right? So I guess with the armour destroyed, in a way it did not alter the future and perhaps the reason why the Date clan or any other people did not get to be the great lord that unified and ruled great old Japan. Perhaps this kind of reasoning would go easy on my brain seeing if they ended up with the future really getting altered like how they did in Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin, my brain would’ve exploded trying to comprehend the complexities.

Hideyoshi is the pivotal character that changes many of the so called historical figures. But if she was that crucial, why wasn’t her name listed down in the annals of history? In this anime in this sense, that is. For the record, the actual Hideyoshi was Nobunaga’s successor and brought an end to the Sengoku era. So it took a ‘foreigner’ girl from a different time and culture to change things, eh? Maybe back then, people were much more simple-minded and more gullible. Even if they are kings. Luckily Hideyoshi is a nice girl so she didn’t turn into a power crazy woman or have this thought that if she changes history to the way it suits her, she would have it easy in her history exams! But seriously, Hideyoshi herself has changed quite a bit too. At first, like most of us who are deprived of modern conveniences, she gets used to the olden ways and its know-how. Are you so glad that we live in a world filled with modern technology? Despite her whiny and complaining personality, that gets lesser and lesser as the series progresses. But that never stops her from being a positive and cheerful girl with a sunny disposition even if she is a bad luck magnet (care to count how many times she got tied up ever since getting blast to the past?). Isn’t it all good experience, no? But it made me wonder if she still is in denial that she is in the past era because she thought Mitsuhide and Ieyasu are her friends from her time. I don’t remember if she realized they are not because she still keeps calling them pet names like how she usually does.

As much as we remember history, any warlord would need to be brutal if they are to gain conquest and respect from their army. Perhaps it is because of the feminine side portrayed in this anime that makes this Nobunaga somewhat softened. Sure, Nobunaga here still exudes a commanding aura and as stated, because of a little girl that came into her life, she changed in a way that makes a hero that only exists in movies. Nobunaga was prepared to kill and do anything in the name of conquering Japan (but short of doing anything sneaky that may tarnish the image of a warrior) but with Hideyoshi squealing, begging and pleading for clemency, no lives were actually lost during this series. Serious. Thus a warlord that truly governs for her people? I would like to see that in real life too. Mitsuhide was just smitten by jealousy because Nobunaga was dividing her attention between her retainers. Before Hideyoshi came into the picture, she was her only focus. With Hideyoshi’s unconventional methods convincing Nobunaga, it is no surprise that each time she is pushed to the brink. I’m glad she woke up and realized as long as she still had those resenting feelings, her lord is never going to be pleased. Besides, Nobunaga had never forgot the words she made with her, right? I suppose the ‘kisses’ she got was enough to bury the hatchet with her rival but now it seems she’ll have to contend with another one in the name of Ieyasu. Start protecting your lord’s lips. You’re going to need it.

Masamune was so obsessed with changing history that she forgot that she should change herself. Like the saying, everybody wants to change the world but they don’t want to change themselves. Guess who made her realize all that? Hideyoshi who doesn’t harbour an interest for the armour (even if she agreed to help Nobunaga to find it) had more important things in heart. It’s the simple things in life (okay, maybe her handphone isn’t just something simple) and most important of all, friendship that counts. Now that Ieyasu has got a taste of what it’s like to wear the armour, she won’t be playing a megalomaniac who wants to rule the world anymore. At least for now. Hope this is a wakeup call for bored Yoshimoto to pay better attention to her. What else can I say about Shingen and Kenshin? They’re always arguing with each other over something trivial. It’s like fighting is their normal way of conversation. Shiro is still the most mysterious one and that teaser at the end really indicates he might not be just an ordinary dog. Heck, he’s a talking dog! The only purpose in this anime as I see it as a minor comic relief character. Somebody Hideyoshi could talk to because she’d be looking pretty odd if she was talking to herself. Plus, Shiro as the only male character in this era, it is as though a role for him to get sexually aroused when he sees the ladies in sexy positions or acts. Pervy little dog. Otherwise, there is more than meets the eye to this white dog. How and why he ended up in the past or how he jumped to Hideyoshi’s time or even who the heck he really is pretty much is still a big question mark.

One of the interesting and amusing aspects of this series is the next episode preview, dubbed the Sengoku Otome Style Preview. Here, we see a live action feature of the seiyuus of Masamune and Hideyoshi, Yuka Hirata and Rina Hidaka respectively. They also play teacher and student respectively in this preview. We see them talk and do several stuff such as challenging each other to a tongue twister (Masamunemunemunemunemunemune… Ouch. I bit my tongue), trying to tell a ghost story in the dark with a torchlight (they botched the whole thing), playing penalty rock-scissors-papers (they’re sure enjoying it), a student counselling type Q&A (was Rina Hidaka stumped when she was being asked a third party love question?) and sensei asking her student if she has any romantic stories to share (why is Yuka Hirata typing all the details down as she speaks?). The opening theme is Kagerou by Tenka Tori Tai (made up by the seiyuus of Shingen, Kenshin and Yoshimoto) sounds like your typical anime rock piece fitting for this type of genre. The same group also sings the ending theme entitled Atsuki Ya No Gotoku. I find the chorus annoyingly catchy. “Aa aa, AAaaAAaaAAaaAa~ Aa aa, AAaaAAaaAAaaAa~”. There is an episode featuring Mitsuhide’s version of the song. I think I prefer the original trio version because this one sounds kinda ‘hollow’. I guess the ending credit animation is the place you can get a little fanservice. Naked girls but with ribbons overlapping the necessary areas. Speaking of fanservice, I don’t think it amounts to anything much in this series. Despite the characters all being female and wearing the king of armour that resembles more of daring cosplay than practicality, don’t expect any flashy fanservice like panty shots. Heck, panties weren’t invented back then!

Well, I have to admit that I did do a little research regarding the Sengoku era after watching this anime. But it was just to confirm some of the facts if this was really what happened (of course not!). But I doubt that even if they up the fanservice and turn every important historical character into sexy females, this will get people to pick up history books. It is going to require more than this to get people especially with no interest to get interested in history. Like me. I should be ashamed of myself for not even remembering some of my own country’s history. Okay, important ones like independence day or very critical turning points I would but other than that, especially dates (oh, history dates, how I loathe thee), all I have given back to my history teacher. Yeah, that’s history already. I could easily give an excuse that I wasn’t born then so I wouldn’t know what happened but that would be so cliche. Besides, history is supposed to be based on facts and what happens if people who are supposed to assure the accuracy of history do not make it so? We are after all exposed to a certain ‘facts’ and ‘truths’ from the moment we are born so it is sometimes hard and up to the person to deem what he/she believes in. We might believe in something easily without evidence or something that is false that no matter how many proofs we are thrown with, your beliefs won’t change. So imagine if you get thrown back to the past, would you seize the chance to change history? If I’m thrown into a world filled with ladies, I might just stay there and make it my paradise harem. Haha. Just dreaming and kidding. But really, where did all the men go?

Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls

December 26, 2011

This isn’t a sequel or a spin-off or even a remake of that Real Bout High School TV anime series that premiered back a decade ago in 2001. Instead, Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls is set in an alternate Japan. What do I mean by that? If you take an interest in Japan’s colourful history, I’m sure that you’ll recognize that one of the many eras is the Edo period. Having said that, you’d expect lots of old feudal castles and backwater towns, right? Well, you’re half right. In addition to the olden day setting, this alternate Japan mixes and fuses certain modern technologies that could only be made possible at the end of the 20th century. That’s right. Seeing shades of Gintama here? Well, no aliens from outer space, that is. Seeing reminiscence of Samurai Champloo? Nobody is rapping by the way.

It might be odd at first but you’ll get used to it. I mean, a student council body way back during the Sengoku period? Guards in armour holding laser guns? Bomber planes? Oh wait. There are computers too! So Japan invented all of these when the west was just starting their industrial revolution? That’s why it’s alternate Japan. So if you want watch this show, please make sure you don’t get it mixed up with your facts of the real history. Speaking of which, all the characters here are named after famous historical figures of Japan from that period. Just that in here, many of them are turned into girls! I guess this is one way of getting you interested. Perhaps really, in another world, people like Nobunaga Oda were females instead…

So back to the story for this series. As usual, it is the period of great trouble. For Great Japan. Its freedom is in great danger. But don’t worry. Our great Master Samurais are here to protect your beloved country from any harm. See how they slice a plane into half! Woah! You don’t need an army. Just these girls will do. Yes, samurai girls. Where the heck are the men? And you thought all samurais were males, eh? I’m not sure if in real history there were any female samurais but I suppose if there were, it would be as rare as finding a black cowboy. But seriously, having girls as samurais as lead fighters? That could only mean one thing when you’re talking about an action ecchi harem anime.

Episode 1
As introduced, there is this school called Buou Academy. Started by the Tokugawa government and those who are qualified to enrol in this school are descendants of great warriors as they are given advanced education so that they can contribute greatly to Japan. Muneakira Yagyuu is one of such students having just arrived from the train station but he is here on another important objective for the school. Upon setting foot in his dojo, he is surprised to see 2 ladies changing. They are the ‘forehead’ flat chest Yukimura Sanada and her loyal bodyguard Matabei Gotou (has she ever consider putting on more cloth for her lower body part?). They accuse him of peeping though he insists that this dojo is supposed to be empty after it lost its master a month ago. Matabei points her halberd at him but he pulls off a technique that catches her by surprise. They introduce themselves as Muneakira learns that there is some power struggle feud between the student council of this school and the Toyotomi faction which is headed by Yukimura. It is part of this strategist’s plan to break into this school since the enemy would never expect her to be hiding so close by. When Muneakira mentions that he was invited by the student council here, they think he is their lackey and go on the defensive. However they are ambushed by the student council, led by the Morals Committee Chairperson, Hanzou Hattori, seeking to capture them all. But Muneakira throws a flash bomb to allow the trio to escape underground. Hanzou reports her failure to her master, Sen Tokugawa who isn’t pleased with her incompetence and gives her a final chance. I’m not sure if this maid loyalist is some masochist. She seems to like Sen giving her some kinky punishment. But Sen has other matters to attend to. She is going to pick somebody up at the train station. Muneakira and the duo got out of the sewers but are cornered by Hanzou and her team due to Sen’s accurate prediction of where they might be headed. Muneakira fights off the Hanzou’s team and even has time to tell her what the true pride of a samurai is. Hanzou will still have them all arrested when a bright light descends from the sky. A naked girl falls into Muneakira’s arms and kisses him. By the way, that’s his first kiss. The powerful aura blasts transforms the girl into a decently clothed samurai as she says her name: Jubei Yagyuu.

Episode 2
Jubei goes on the offensive with Hattori while Muneakira is mysteriously chained down. Hanzou is no match for her as her spectacles which is able to analyse lots of stuff, reports that her fighting power is 5 million! WOAH! You can’t even get such powerful figures in RPGs. Muneakira tries his might, yelling and screaming for them to stop. His voice finally reaches Jubei. His chains vanish and Jubei loses herself in some volatile aura before passing out. Oh, now she’s naked. The racket is stopped when Sen comes by. They are taken into interrogation. Seems Muneakira and Sen are childhood friends but even that isn’t enough to settle things. Muneakira is prepared for any death punishment but she backs out. She thinks he was just trying to be cool. I think it’s the feelings of the heart… Sen was supposed to pick him up at the train station but he arrived way too early and went on his own way. Then they talk about the mysterious Jubei who fell out of the sky and discuss about the possibility of her being a Master Samurai. Sen isn’t convinced since to attain such a great status, at least 10 years of harsh training is needed. Plus, Hanzou’s analysis on Jubei doesn’t seem to reach that high figure now. After Sen leaves, it’s Hanzou’s turn to lecture them. Maybe she feels better taking out on them after she got her fill from Sen? I don’t know why, she gave Yukimura and Matabei a hot bath as punishment. Yukimura and Hanzou continue their spat because the former’s fortune telling prediction (which is never wrong) predicted an unbelievable future a month ago. She saw an evil shadow intruding Great Japan. They think it’s Jubei. Speaking of the devil, she enters to room but instead of being hostile, she’s just hungry. Furthermore, she’s an airhead. Eh? Where has that superb fierce Master Samurai gone to? Yeah, she even makes friends with them and has pet names for them. Anyway she has no memories of what happened and all she knows that she was lonely in a dark, cold place till she heard a warm gentle voice. The next thing she knew, she was in Muneakira’s arms. Oh yeah. She calls him her onii-chan too. Sen reports the capture of Yukimura and Matabei to her brother currently in France, Yoshihiko Tokugawa. He wants her to keep an eye on them. Yukimura and the girls are trying to ascertain if Jubei is indeed a true Master Samurai because there’ll be a mark on her body. Yeah, strip her naked. Muneakira waits outside and ponders that a Master Samurai is created after a bond with a leader is formed. Thus, all Master Samurai are under the control of the Tokugawa government and that Jubei shouldn’t be one. However her fighting prowess with Hanzou shows that she is capable. Since Jubei didn’t take too well of the ‘molestation’, she runs out and bumps into Muneakira. Yeah, she’s on top of him. But because of that, he could confirm that she’s really a Master Samurai. See that mark at her cleavage?

Episode 3
Even if Jubei has the mark to prove it, her footwork, position and sparring with Matabei only shows that she’s totally an amateur. Yeah, you can’t imagine Japan being protected by this kind of Master Samurai. Muneakira and Yukimura discuss about Jubei’s General since only males can earn that title and the contract ritual takes place only in Edo Castle. Therefore having a Master Samurai without the government’s acknowledgement is practically zero. However Yukimura has a theory and wants Muneakira to stay calm and listen to her. Before she even got to that, Sen comes in and releases Yukimura and Matabei from the school. All charges against them will be dropped and that they never set foot here but they must leave immediately. But it’s more problems for Muneakira because not only Jubei is living with him, Sen too. Her excuse is to watch over this suspicious airhead. Really? It was quite funny seeing Jubei chowing down food made by Muneakira, unheeding Sen’s words not to eat such filth. Even funnier, each time Hanzou wanted to pop the grub into her mouth, she had no choice but to undo it since Sen already made comments how her food wasn’t even touched. Too bad. I guess Jubei will take the rest. Jubei continues to be an airhead, vexing Sen in all the conversations. “Jubei is a little sister with amnesia who came falling from the sky, not a Master Samurai”. Well, if she ever remembers her true form, please feel free to let them know okay? Oh wait. She suddenly remembers. Her true form is… *Drum roll*… A puppy! WTF?! She’s not joking. She’s heartbroken. So she really acts like one and goes outside to her kennel. I guess when a puppy-eyed girl starts crying and promising not to cause any more trouble, you will just have to let her in, right? Later after Jubei is being put to sleep, Sen talks to Muneakira on why he is being called to this school. Seems there have been students missing for the past few years in some Spirited Away Incident. She thinks the culprits are Yukimura and Matabei. Sen looks up greatly to her brother and he is so cool that he is currently solving some difficult issues in France. Yeah, sent a student there instead of a Foreign Minister or ambassador, will you? However she feels something amiss and that something is happening in this school. Muneakira also feels that the capture of Toyotomi clan is just a cover-up. Then they hear screams from Jubei. Seems she is dreaming a nightmare. Muneakira comforts her but she kisses him and turns into a Master Samurai. Well, Sen isn’t happy she kissed him in front of her. She shouldn’t be worried about that. In fact, Hanzou was blown away outside by her powers. Jubei continues to show her true powers, ripping off Sen’s clothes and mocking her that she’s just a girl when naked. Muneakira can’t do anything since he is chained down. Then Yukimura and Matabei appear. She explains her theory was correct. Muneakira is Jubei’s General. Kissing is similar to the ritual which creates a bond with the General. In order to awaken Jubei, Muneakira will lose the freedom of moving his own body. Confirming she is the great shadow over Japan, she plans on taking on Jubei. Yukimura leads her away as part of her strategy to corner her. However Jubei saw through their tactic and even so, Yukimura couldn’t stand up to her powers. Matabei is dismayed that she couldn’t protect Yukimura but Jubei chooses not to kill her seeing her devotion to her master. Plus, she also feels something different on Sen because she could’ve run away herself and abandoned them. Jubei ends the challenge and collapses. Morning comes as Jubei is sleeping peacefully while the rest ponders her true identity.

Episode 4
But Muneakira still gets another lecture from Sen. Not wanting to nonchalantly kiss Jubei, she puts a full face helmet over him. But Yukimura feels it’s a waste to seal his kiss and wants him to kiss her and make her a Master Samurai! With the declining number of Master Samurais recently, Yukimura thinks this is a great chance for a human experiment to see whether Muneakira’s kiss to turn one into Master Samurai only works on Jubei or anybody who kisses him. Sen on the other hand disagrees and so does Muneakira since you’re supposed to kiss the one you like. So you can smell a cat fight between Sen and Yukimura. And Muneakira caught in between… While Sen forbids Jubei to come within 3 metres of Muneakira, Yukimura reads all the books on kissing! Oddly, she can read so fast that I’m starting to think she’s a robot! So many kinds of kisses?! Wow, fear the topic of kissing! Even Jubei is having her own opinions on kissing. She thought when she kissed Muneakira, she hurt everybody else. Yet she feels he might want to kiss other girls too. That night, Yukimura sneaks out from her bed to kiss Muneakira. She sums up her courage but she finds it’s a trap! Yeah, Sen and Hanzou predicted this. They even mock her by repeating those embarrassing words she said. “It’s just that a part of my body will touch his for a moment”. Oh, how sweet. How embarrassing. To conclude that: “It’s 3 years too early for a kid like you to kiss someone! Drink milk every day and grow at least 3 centimetres!”. Because of that, Yukimura becomes adamant and WILL steal Muneakira’s lips no matter what. Try as she might, Sen and Hanzou are always a step ahead, putting a damper on her plans. Preeeet! Red card! So I guess she charged in without a plan and was desperate, that’s why a genius like her can fail so badly. Muneakira reminds her that she’s a girl before a samurai but she acts like a tsundere. Yukimura doesn’t give up as she drugs the tea of her stoppers. Then she enters the bath while Muneakira is soaking in. The mood to the kiss is building up when Sen barges in. Yeah, she’s still drowsy but I guess when somebody’s lips are in danger, she can still pull off some mean technique. Okay, maybe she didn’t drink enough to tea to get totally knock out like that Hanzou. The bath is blown to bits. Yukimura finds herself on top of unconscious Muneakira and is in a dilemma to go ahead or not. Then Muneakira wakes up upon hearing Sen’s ferocious voice. Accidentally that is when their lips met. The truth has been unveiled. Yukimura turns into a Master Samurai and uses her wind powers to blow her opponent away. Too bad she just can’t control them, destroying the surrounding buildings. Don’t worry, Muneakira will clean it all up. Yeah, how convenient. Plus, Sen is definitely putting on the helmet on his face. Oh, Hanzou’s still sleeping like a log. On the roof.

Episode 5
Yukimura demonstrates again her transformation to a Master Samurai. She explains that after making a pact with the General, one can easily transform at one’s own discretion without having to retrain the General’s freedom. Each one has their own keyword to transform (something about the phrase will channel the spiritual energy) so Yukimura wants Jubei to say hers. It has to be something close to her heart so Jubei, have you decided what’s yours? Why are they all named after food? But still no transformation… As Yoshihiko talks to his loyal servant, Charles d’Artagnan AKA Nia, since he learns Sen is sheltering Yukimura, he decides to send a spy back to Japan. To make things better, the loyal spy is Yukimura’s childhood friend. She, Kanetsugu Naoe will infiltrate the dojo posing as Yukimura’s friend to find out what is really going on. Kanetsugu makes her grand entry, knocking down the front gates with her giant hammer and proclaims herself as the Warrior of Love! She accuses Yukimura as an evil person who has socially killed a girl! Gasp! Could this be true? Yukimura seems cool. Flashback time. Indeed those 2 were childhood friends. Yukimura sat on some deity stones so panicky Kanetsugu tried to warn her to stop or she’ll be cursed. But Yukimura told her she’s an outsider and this thing will only have an impact on locals. In short, Kanetsugu will be cursed. She’s as dumb as a rock so she really believed her words! Yukimura pulls a naughty prank on her to check to see if Kanetsugu’s butt is rotting due to the curse and proposes a cure to cast away the curse. That is, she has to pee on an earthworm! What kind of perverted story is this?! Anyway when Kanetsugu did that, the worm swells and shoots out body fluids (to protect itself from foreign stimulant) and hits her most sensitive part. It became itchy and she soon became the laughing stock of her town! By the time the itch was gone, Yukimura had already left for home. Well, whose fault was it for being so stupid? But you’ll soon learn that Kanetsugu will turn out to be an idiot rather than anything threatening. First, the gang are suspicious how she knows Yukimura is here. She can’t possibly tell them that she’s a spy of Yoshihiko so she gave a lame excuse that she’s in the neighbourhood. Lame. Despite telling to go back home, Kanetsugu remains stubborn. Till she mocks Yukimura’s flat chest. Oh dear. The others could see what’s coming so they tie themselves to the tree! Yes. Yukimura is going to blow that b*tch away! Later as Sen takes a bath, she ponders the effects of kissing Muneakira. Anyway it turned a little pervy. That fantasy is interrupted when Jubei joins her. Jubei is willing to help her to be closer to her onii-chan. As for Kanetsugu, she’s still around. Not learning anything. She plans to get rid of that indecent devil that is known as Muneakira. Yukimura is having one of those tsundere talks with Muneakira about the kiss and the pact but guess who showed up? Yeah, annoying Kanetsugu. She challenges him to a duel. He agrees but it seems he was just standing there getting hammered. Yukimura feels guilty and apologized that she blamed him for being insensitive for the kiss. Kanetsugu must be basking in her virtuous lecture of love but Sen goes up to her and says that even if she calls herself one, she doesn’t know what love is. The desire to kiss someone you love is something natural, noble and wonderful. Then with her true and sincere feelings, she kisses Muneakira and transforms into a Master Samurai. She takes on the duel and breaks Kanetsugu’s hammer. Now I think she’ll know her place. Okay, time to retreat. With the irritating kid out of the way, Muneakira and Sen reconcile.

Episode 6
Sen and Muneakira go through records of missing students. They realize that they are descendants of households who have produced Master Samurais. They think of accessing Yoshihiko’s underground computer to get more information even if it means a sign as challenging him. Since they are caught by Yukimura and Matabei, I guess they will just have to give an excuse that they’re going on a vacation? Did they learn something from Kanetsugu? So indeed a vacation they went on (because it’s where the server is, in a beach villa). Yeah, just your beach episode and girls in their swimsuits. As usual, the eternal spat between Sen and Yukimura. It’s already hot, it’s getting even hotter. I guess Jubei tried to calm down the situation by saying that all 6 of them can get married to Muneakira! Harem’s paradise! Wait. All six? Jubei Yukimura, Sen, Hanzou, Matabei… Oh, don’t tell me she accepted Kanetsugu too?! Speaking of which, she still hasn’t given up yet. Disguising as some slacking part time maid, she reports to Yoshihiko. He entrusts her with their assassination and if things get rough, she can use the present he sent. Sen hacks into the computer while the rest have their meal. Later Muneakira goes to bath but Kanetsugu is cleaning it. She hides on the ceiling but thoughts of him becoming some perverted demon has her lose her grip and fall on top of his face. In her fear and embarrassment, she flees before the rest arrives. Sen comes back with information that she’s an assassin sent by Yoshihiko. The girls corner her outside so she has no choice but to use Yoshihiko’s gift: A monstrous blob. However the blob swallows her! Realizing that Kanetsugu has been tricked and been used as a tool by Yoshihiko, everyone cooperates to defeat the blob. However they have to be careful or else they’ll end up killing Kanetsugu too. It doesn’t help when Sen and Yukimura are still quarrelling. Till their servants got captured by the blob, they realize the importance of working together. But to accurately destroy the monster’s core, only a Master Samurai like Jubei can do it. Muneakira summons the Master Samurai Jubei as Sen takes out the tentacles. In precise timing, Jubei pulls off an accuracy move that real swordsmen can never do. Jubei compliments that it’s also thanks to Yukimura and Sen’s cooperation that they managed to defeat the blob. She notes that interesting samurais are gathering around him.

Episode 7
Eh? Why is Kanetsugu living with them in the dojo too? Plus, she’s living in the kennel which she calls cottage! What’s the difference? She’s using this place as her base as an excuse but even so, she’s still the same idiot that everyone loves picking on. Yeah, a disposable idiot and making references to her like as though she’s a dog. Like we don’t have enough problems already. Back to something serious, Sen shows everyone the data that she managed to save when she downloaded but all the rest were automatically destroyed. They couldn’t decipher the creepy voice though they think Yoshihiko must be planning something really bad. Kanetsugu tries to show off and be useful saying that she knows English but actually the worded message is in Latin. Useless… Hanzou sees how Sen is interacting normally with the rest and thinks back to the time when she was transferred to her school and not only tasked to be her bodyguard but as a friend as well. When Hanzou tried to tell off a bunch of nasty girls not to talk bad about Sen behind her back, she got bullied and threatened instead. That was when she vowed to grow stronger. But now it seems Sen has her own friends and her duty may be coming to an end. While Hanzou and Jubei are bathing together, an invisible enemy attacks them. Jubei is unconscious and so is Matabei. Yukimura (partially injured) couldn’t do much but putting up a defensive barrier. The rest rush over to Sen who is sleeping. She could’ve been done for if they didn’t arrive in time. They regroup and prepare for its attack. Muneakira wonders why Sen didn’t use Hanzou’s specs as help but she replies that the specs are only specifically designed for her. Just when they charge at the enemy, it turns out to be Kanetsugu passing by. Must have the shock of her life, eh? Now she’s like an excess baggage, just panicking about everything. Shut up! They run out into the rain and once it stops raining, Hanzou will be the only one who can see the enemy. Sen orders Hanzou to kiss Muneakira and become a Master Samurai but Hanzou is rather reluctant. She couldn’t do it and pushes him away, citing that Sen will only and always be her general. The rain stops, the enemy attacks, Muneakira is sent flying. Even at this point, stupid Kanetsugu can even make a comment that she lost her chance of becoming a Master Samurai. But Hanzou isn’t going down with a fight. She uses a technique to tie herself with metal wires to the beast and wants Sen to cut them down. Like hell she’s going to do that. Using Kanetsugu to hammer and destroy the reservoir, the water wets the enemy making it visible so Sen is able to destroy it without killing Hanzou. Sen and Hanzou reunite with the former in tears as she won’t forgive her if she pulls off such a life threatening stunt again. Then everyone gathers and they’re all fine. Except for Kanetsugu’s dog house, I mean cottage.

Episode 8
Yukimura and Sen talk to their bodyguards (and even Kanetsugu) and want them to kiss and make a pact with Muneakira. However they don’t seem pleased. Though Kanetsugu too dislike the idea, but revenge is on her mind to dispose the cocky Yukimura and Sen from the top of the pecking order. Yeah, having thought of such pyramid means she actually considers herself the lowest in the order. During dinner, Sen and Yukimura talk to Muneakira about making a pact with Hanzou and Matabei (poor Jubei is just drooling over the food she can’t sink her teeth in). Kanetsugu uses this chance to accept Muneakira’s kiss but was made to shut up. Muneakira will ask the duo himself but it seems Jubei doesn’t like it. Wait. Now she doesn’t want other girls to kiss him? Suddenly some strange aura from outside makes Muneakira head outside. Another naked girl falling from the sky into his arms! This time she has an eye-patch. They are about to kiss but Jubei stops them. Next morning, this eye-patch lady, Gisen Yagyuu tries to seduce Muneakira into following his desires! In the toilet! Yeah, he can even ‘put it between them’! Already Yukimura and Sen do not have enough sleep after thinking about last night and then they see this indecent thing in the morning. Why do they blame Muneakira? They got so irritated just thinking how he allowed Gisen to stay here till she regains her memories (Gisen wouldn’t mind him using any part of her body as he wished!), they lose Muneakira. And they were just talking about not letting their guard down. Yeah, Gisen somehow managed to kidnap him and continue their unholy act. You know what happens when Sen and Yukimura see this, right? Too late. Later they all have a talk and Gisen considers the General-Master Samurai thingy like a master-slave relationship. It’s the same thing, right? Sen challenges her and during the match, she gives her a word or two about the main pillars that support the relationship of a General and a Master Samurai: Bond and trust. However Gisen wonders where that bond and trust is seeing that both made a pact to become stronger. That’s about it. Samurai are still slaves and that she didn’t want to admit it. Sen gets distracted by Muneakira so Gisen was able to capitalize on this. Before Sen could transform in her Master Samurai, Jubei interrupts the match (with a broom?). She explains that trust and bond are important for the General and Master Samurai. The pact between them isn’t just a contract and they have to love each other. Though it might be a reminder to everyone what is important to them, maybe that’s why the God chose this wonderful method of a kiss. This was what probably Jubei wanted to say earlier on but didn’t know how to put it into words then. Gisen is taken in by her opinion and wants Jubei to be her onee-sama! Jubei happily accepts Gisen. Looks like it’s going to get noisier. But why is Kanetsugu trying to take credit for what Jubei said? And she calls herself the Warrior of Love. Didn’t even explain a single thing. No wonder everybody wished her to be better off dead!

Episode 9
Yoshihiko seems to be making out with Nia but I guess he stops short of doing anything funny because he doesn’t want to be tainted when he returns to Japan to see Sen. Kanetsugu continues to persuade her other ‘love soldier team’ to make the pact but they just ignore her and tell her to go die. Gisen continues to seduce Muneakira and brings him to the coal pit. She shows him a book with proper explanation how things should be between a General and Master Samurai. Porn? Because he is still resisting, Gisen takes off her eye-patch and unleash some spell. The other girls are trying to find the whereabouts of the duo, fearing another indecent play is at hand. Sen, Hanzou and Jubei find the duo at the coal pit but it seems that Muneakira is under Gisen’s command. They realize she is a Master Samurai too. Seems that Gisen wants Jubei to return to the form she was originally from and then to make a pact with ‘him’. However Muneakira’s bond with Jubei is strong enough that he is able to go against her command. Sen attacks Gisen but is no match. Then a surprise entry from Yoshihiko and Nia. Were they supposed to return in a week’s time? Well, do deceive their enemies, they need to deceive their allies first. Besides, he is here to see the natural one (Jubei). Yoshihiko orders Nia to punish Gisen. Nia too is a Master Samurai albeit an artificial one (she has many different modes to turn into). Though her powers match Gisen’s, being artificial means exerting too much will cause her to overheat. Gisen withdraws since she doesn’t have the sufficient power of her General. As for Yukimura and Matabei, they are rounded up by Yoshihiko’s guards after one of those annoying spats with Kanetsugu. Looks like they have the entire place surrounded too. Sen talks to Yoshihiko about the great shadow over Japan. She is shocked to learn of a huge secret facility underneath the school. Plus, all those missing students spirited away were actually kidnapped and being used as experiment samples to create an artificial Master Samurai. The project is called Project Izanami and he believes they must create their own Master Samurai to succeed. He reveals the great shadow over Japan is their greatest enemy is not any country but a ghost. Say what? He is Shiro Amakusa and is responsible for many revolts that almost brought Japan to the brink of extinction. But the Master Samurais were the only ones who were able to stand in his way. For the last 20 years, no one has shown signs of being a Master Samurai. As for now, everyone believes that there are still 7 authentic Master Samurais left but Yoshihiko points out they are all dead. They all perished while fighting a resurrecting Amakusa. It was not reported or else the country will be in panic. So for the protection of his beloved Great Japan, this experiment is necessary and since he has the genes of Jubei and Muneakira, the mass production of Master Samurais is at hand. As for the rest, Nia will execute them.

Episode 10
Muneakira is in a dream whereby the girls are seducing him but it’s a spell trap laid by Gisen. Yukimura pleads to know the safety of Muneakira as her last request. Seeing her sincere devotion to her master, Nia couldn’t finish them off and says that he is still alive. Well, Kanetsugu was annoying enough to rant that it was a great plan to distract the enemy and escape. How useless can she get? Anyway that is what they just did. Hiding in a secret passage, they plan to rescue Muneakira. They get an unlikely idea from Kanetsugu. Yeah, she thought she was in hell after waking up from her unconsciousness only to be dismayed that she’s with them. Yukimura is going to do some Spiritual Fluctuation Reading. Since the bond between a General and Master Samurai is strong, their hearts will be connected. So this out-of-body experience thing has Yukimura meeting up with Muneakira’s spirit and get him out from Gisen’s hands. Sen is also there because she did the same method. However they know they are unable to win so they retreat. They need to rescue his body first. Nia returns to Yoshihiko’s side and is confident that those prisoners will come here. Though Yoshihiko dismiss the possibilities, it soon turns true. But he’s confident that they can’t do anything. As the ladies advance deeper underground, Matabei, Kanetsugu and Hanzou stay back to fend off the attacks and buy the rest time. Sen and Yukimura face off with Yoshihiko, who is disappointed in Sen’s decision not to cooperate in this project. He orders Nia to kill them both but for the first time she refuses. She feels that they truly care about their General and that they are true samurais. Sen adds the reason Master Samurais have stopped emerging in Japan is not the decline in those who are fit to be one, but a decline in men who are qualified to be Generals. They point out Muneakira is the true General though he is sleeping under Gisen’s spell. With both of them confessing that they like him, this was enough for him to break out of the spell, overheating Gisen’s eye. Yoshihiko still believes power is proof of a General and is the one who will save Japan. He forcefully orders Nia to kill everyone. She still refuses so he increases the output to fry everyone. But Nia uses her aura to malfunction the place and free everyone. Jubei falls out of her compartment but Muneakira catches her and kisses her.

Episode 11
Jubei becomes the Master Samurai. Yoshihiko leaves because he is satisfied that he collected more data than anticipated from Jubei. He is happy to revive the project that has been stalled and assemble a great number of Master Samurai from the lab. It’s like a mass production factory, eh? Yoshihiko loses his mind by saying that he isn’t a General, but a Shogun. Jubei is going to kill that bastard despite Muneakira’s protest. As long as he hurt her General, you’re dead meat. Surprisingly Nia protects Yoshihiko from Jubei’s blades. They note Nia crying but the heartless Shogun still thinks that there are many replacements and wants her to fall as his sword here. Flashback time. Yoshihiko first greeted Nia as a new transfer student at school. She wasn’t that open and was trying her hands at origami. He made some for her and she treasured it. Soon, they started dating and what I understand it was some sort of a game in which Yoshihiko won in the end. Because of that, Nia became the first sample and was injected genome of a Master Samurai. Ironically, the first artificial Master Samurai was born in France. Nia was in great pain but for the sake of protecting Japan, Yoshihiko continued. Muneakira finds there is no justice in this unnecessary battle so Yoshihiko challenges to see whose justice is more righteous. Muneakira’s determination to stop the fight has him break out of his chains. But he goes down on his knees and pleads that he already has a great samurai like Nia so it proves he is a great General. But Yoshihiko isn’t swayed by his words. He continues about the pain and pressure he is burdened with in protecting the people of Great Japan. Suddenly the entire place is under a great earthquake. Actually, Gisen is unleashing some spiritual attack. The lab crumbles and a slab of concrete falls on Yoshihiko. Oh, wait. Nia protected him with her back. Then when an armour origami fell out from her, Yoshihiko finally realized. After all this talk and suffering, it took him this to realize all the pain and suffering she went through?! Too late buddy. The ground swallows them. The airhead Jubei finds unconscious Muneakira while Yukimura and Sen meet up with the rest in some computer room. Soon, a great number of planes are dropping the manufactured Master Samurai into the battlefield. Feels like D-Day, huh? Meanwhile Jubei is having this dream of meeting her other self. The Master Samurai says that Muneakira has completely awakened as a General so the next kiss is going to be the true pact between them. The kiss that will completely resurrect the real Jubei and at the same time, ‘eliminate’ the incomplete Jubei that was created due to the incomplete pact. When Jubei wakes up, she sees Muneakira and also the ghosts of Sen and Yukimura. No, they’re not dead yet. They’re using that Spiritual Fluctuation Reading. Muneakira needs her help but the thought of her vanishing for good at the next kiss rings in her head.

Episode 12
Yoshihiko and Nia are still alive. Nia is bordering between life and death. Oh? He doesn’t want to abandon her now? He doesn’t want her to die? That’s good right? Meanwhile Jubei is in a dilemma whether to kiss Muneakira. As his lips approaches, Jubei unwittingly pushes him away. She thought she was being impolite to Sen and Yukimura but they’re okay with her kissing Muneakira. The girls leave to give them some time alone. Jubei kisses Muneakira and bids farewell. Gisen is trying to resurrect Amakusa but notes her own power isn’t enough. Sen communicates with Hanzou, Matabei and Kanetsugu and gives them enough confidence to protect the academy. Muneakira and his Master Samurais prepare for the final battle. The awakened Jubei says that since he has awoken as a true General, he can redo the pact with Sen and Yukimura. They’ll have greater powers and able to feel warmth resonating through their bodies. Well, this isn’t the time to argue who should kiss him first. I guess they even got time to narrate their true feelings for him as Muneakira kisses them and turns them into powerful true Master Samurais. Muneakira commands them as they cut and penetrate the vines. Jubei breaks into the core and meets Gisen. She reveals that in order to heal Amakusa’s spirit, 2 samurais are needed, thus the reason they are reincarnated as his personal attendants but Jubei made a pact with somebody else instead. That’s why Gisen tried hard to bring her back but she was no match for Muneakira. Even so, creating this barrier and having Jubei penetrating it would’ve put Amakusa in serious danger. She wants to devour Jubei so that they could be as one and the only one who will serve Amakusa. Gisen is driven by hatred just about anything that has got to do with Muneakira and co and this is enough for her to overwhelm Jubei. Gisen starts sucking her spiritual powers. Thinking she has defeated Jubei, Gisen calls for Amakusa to reward her. But the barrier is under immense attack. Herald the artificial Master Samurais.

Muneakira is surprised to see Nia. She mentions she was dead but resurrected by Yoshihiko’s kiss and turned into a Master Samurai. Looks like he had it in him too. Yoshihiko will lend his powers to help Muneakira but this is for the sake of saving Japan and not because he acknowledge him. Sounds good for Muneakira. Yoshihiko will have Nia and his army take care of the vines so Muneakira can go to his samurais. Jubei hears the voice of her incomplete self. It seems she is back because Muneakira summoned her. She wants her to hear onii-chan’s voice and that their feelings are eternal. Jubei awakens to a more powerful self. Gisen is taken aback by the different person she turned out to. What ensues next is a superb immense power battle raging throughout the land. So great that we get to watch the over-dramatic fight in only black and white and shades of grey. Just wow. Gisen knows she is no match and calls for Amakusa to give her the strength of the Master Samurai. Did it work? Well, seems she’s powered up too. Muneakira, Sen and Yukimura send their feelings to Jubei to increase her power. But she is powering up so much that it is suicidal. And that is what she plans to do. Blasting and taking Gisen with her towards the sky, Gisen promises she’ll be back again, whether it is a hundred or a thousand years, they’ll have to face her again. But Jubei doesn’t give a damn about that because they have nothing to fear if Japan has Generals and Master Samurais. To Muneakira’s dismay, he stops sensing Jubei’s life force. She’s floating in space and slowly disintegrating. She could hear everyone’s voice and is happy. A week has passed. A massive cleanup and reconstruction for Buou Academy. Amakusa’s whereabouts are unknown. And as Muneakira narrates, perhaps nothing is really over yet but believes one day their bond and trust will heal this gaping wound engraved in this town in time.

Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Babes…
What the?! I can’t believe that’s how it ends! Why on such a ‘sad’ and cliff-hanger? Well, don’t fret yet. If you have seen the OVA which came with the release of the final DVD volume, don’t be startled that if it’s a rerun of episode 12. So what’s the difference? Firstly, those black and white fight scenes are now coloured. Yeah, now you can watch it in polychrome. Second, in the final scene whereby Muneakira walks away, the TV series just ended there. But the OVA extends this scene by a few more seconds. We see Jubei floating down from the night sky in a bright light. Deja vu from the first episode? So she didn’t become part of the stars, eh? Muneakira and the rest are definitely happy to see her as Jubei lands him a kiss. Pact redone or just a kiss of love?

Also with the DVD, you’ll be treated with 6 specials called Picture Scrolls: A Maiden’s Happy Yet Embarrassing Chigiri. They are random nonsensical fanservice fun (if that’s what you want to call them) and serve no relation to the plot. Like in Picture Scroll 1, Jubei is seen running to Muneakira, waking him up from his nice slumber. She’s really concerned about her droopy boobs, thanks to Yukimura’s ‘brainwashing’ that the bigger they get, the droopier it’ll be till it sags to the ground! Of course Muneakira tells her it’s just one of Yukimura’s lies. But he gets embarrassed when Jubei starts playing with her own boobs and even has him touch it. No choice he presses it and experiences a total nose bleed when Jubei gives out that moan. Have you ever see him lose so much blood before? In Picture Scroll 2, Sen is looking for Yukimura but stumbles upon all those kissing books in her room. Yeah, kissing is like fighting. As she continues reading, Sen starts fantasizing all the kissing moves in fanservice positions till she realizes Muneakira was watching. In her embarrassment, she punches him away. Picture Scroll 3 takes place during that beach episode. As part of Kanetsugu’s plan to put a stop to certain indecent demon, she plans on using some fishing lure. However as she fishes, it tears off the top of all the girls, leaving them topless. Except for Yukimura. It got hook on her butt and it tore that piece of cloth, leaving her butt exposed. Kanetsugu laments her failure when Muneakira appears from behind. She is taken aback when he discovers what she has fished. Then all the girls come by and think this is Muneakira’s doing! To make matters worse, Kanetsugu puts up an act that she’s going to get rape! Poor Muneakira is sent flying into the sky. Yukimura and Kanetsugu take a bath together in Picture Scroll 4. Kanetsugu irritates Yukimura with the bigger boobs talk. However Yukimura didn’t get upset. Instead, she reveals the benefits of having small chests. The lolita complex! That’s right! By acting all innocent and vulnerable, even these sweet small boobs will have a total opposite ‘destructive’ powers on men! Oh so true! If you’re a lolicon, that is. Kanetsugu felt defeated as she notes she came to bath with her as she was worried she was hurt. After she runs away, Yukimura notices some Kobezawa hotspring package she left behind for her. See? She’s not a total idiot and has a heart too. Though, more of the idiotic side. Gisen is working at the coal pits in Picture Scroll 5 when Jubei pesters to play with her. Since she suggested blindfold hide-and-seek (because the place is too small), Gisen starts fantasizing some S&M play, with Jubei being the dominant one. This is followed with suggestions of binding and spinning around and playing doggie. Each time, Gisen trembles with stimulation and gets excited of how ‘fearsome’ this Jubei girl is. Gisen prostrates herself and wants Jubei to abuse her to her heart’s content. But Jubei is puzzled because she thought they were going to play hide-and-seek. In Picture Scroll 6, Muneakira is rudely awakened when the girls barge into his dojo to confront him about the sexy fanservice pictures he took. However he denies it was him since one of them had a photo with him inside. Yukimura points out the camera was found in the waiting room, which belongs to Hanzou. She denies and only takes natural poses. Why is there a very yuri picture of Hanzou and Sen?! Sen beats her up and accuses Yukimura that it may be her since she is the sneaky one. Yukimura says she only takes aesthetic photos. Yeah, a pic of Sen changing clothes. WTF?! Then when Kanetsugu comes in, everyone didn’t show much interest. Till she reveals the true culprit: Herself. Now, she’s in deep trouble. See what being an idiot could lead you to? She’s going to get it big time. Jubei sees Muneakira smiling and thinks he’s happy. She too feels happy about it.

More little specials with the DVD. They are called Voice Mangas (VM) and come in 2 short yonkoma art mixed with a little animation that don’t even last 3 minutes. VM 1 sees Muneakira getting the shock of his life about naked women falling from the skies of Japan and then a talk about defining characters has them insulting each other with names. Strategist With A Bald Head? Loincloth Attendant With A Spear? Tsundere Evil Natured Princess? And wait, you got to hear this one: Super Masochistic Lesbian Maid Ninja Class Rep Glasses Girl. Why is Hanzou panting so hard?! Sen teaches how to be a tsundere in VM 2. While Yukimura and Matabei pull it off quite neatly, Jubei and Hanzou turn that theme upside-down by being super moe kawaii and a panting pervert respectively. Then, Sen and Yukimura are envious that Muneakira takes good care of Jubei. However Jubei turns into her serious self and orders Muneakira around like her lackey. Looks like the caretaker role is reversed. In VM 3, Yukimura shows Jubei that when she changes Kanetsugu’s forehead mark on her butt, it makes that idiot want to show off her butt to the public. Jubei tries putting her mark (which is the Chinese number 10) on it and Kanetsugu splits into 10 clones! Kage Bunshin! Next, Muneakira is forced to admire the boobs of Sen and Yukimura. Of course Kanetsugu is going to correct him but seeing that normal ways won’t work, she did the ultimate technique: She strips totally naked!!! Hanzou in VM 4 shows Jubei her high-tech glasses which is the best in Japan to collect data. However she demonstrates by ‘collecting’ data from Sen. She gets beaten up for peeping but seems to me she’s more like enjoying it. Matabei and Hanzou are still anxious about kissing Muneakira to turn into Master Samurais. However they get this thought that they could turn into one if they kiss their masters who had become Master Samurais. They are so deep in that delusion that they started kissing each other! Unfortunately Sen and Yukimura caught them and realized they were into that kind of relationship. Muneakira admires how great Jubei is in VM 5. But upon looking at the script, he realizes her title is shortened to M Jubei and thinks she’s a masochist! He ends up thinking she’s a huge M acting like a big S! And this leads to another conclusion that Sen and Yukimura are big M girls! Well, Sen doesn’t mind him punishing him… Gisen gives Muneakira a very relaxing and comfortable massage. That’s just it. What were you thinking?! His comfortable but ambiguous moaning and groaning? Yoshihiko in VM 6 makes Nia say some word as she pulls the edge of her own mouth. He finds it cute and goes into a fit so she wonders how she got him to become her General. And as Jubei thank viewers for the end of the series, Yoshihiko comes up with a wise crack that the series started with nudity and ends with nudity. Thus is should be named Zenra Ryouran (Nudity Blooming Profusely). However the girls tell him off of his inappropriateness so he apologizes.

Well, seems like the TV series ended in a way that we might see another sequel. Feels somewhat incomplete. I mean, when the all-time greatest threat to Japan (and possibility to all humanity) disappears without a trace, it can only mean one thing, right? It’s just a matter of time he’ll be back and everything repeats again. The way they painted this Amakusa devil guy so great so much so it made me think that they are fighting a losing battle. I mean, he’s a ghost. You can’t exorcist him, you can’t send him to the next world for good. He keeps coming back. So what are your options? Just produce enough Master Samurais to defend Great Japan, huh? Is that even going to cut it? Amakusa is like a virus. He can’t simply be defeated by the same old tricks. He’ll get stronger and stronger and pops up at the times you would least expect him to. How else do you explain the death of all the nameless Master Samurais? I was hoping he would at least make some appearance as show of power of how great his strength is. But I guess I’ll have to make do with his ‘proxy’ in the form of Gisen. Yoshihiko turned out to be the main ‘antagonist’ for this series because of his utmost desire to protect Japan and the pressure and burden he is bearing, he becomes a madman in trying to obtain the ultimate genes to mass produce Master Samurais. Can you blame him for becoming a villain? Well, yes and no. Obviously it was morally wrong for him to use Nia against her will to become his Master Samurai and then the kidnapping of other students of Buou Academy. But if you’re in that position and holding such potential power against an unknown enemy, it’s a big gamble and huge risk you’ve got to take.

The flow of the story quickly turned from the bickering feud between Sen’s student council and Yukimura’s faction to one that is finding the great threat hanging over Japan. It is rather amusing to see the gang interact with each other naturally whenever they’re not facing off with a common enemy together. Trust and bond are the main theme for this series and that is what Muneakira rightfully earned over the rest. But still as a great General, he can’t easily solve when it comes to the matters of love. Get what I’m saying? Though Jubei was a little annoying in her airhead mode, but it wouldn’t feel right to have the serious and true one around for too long. It takes away the fun. In the former, she’s like the ‘tension reliever’ of the group and in the latter, she gets things done and in order with the might of her sword skill. Sen and Yukimura may not really like each other. Other than the common enemy threatening Japan, I guess Muneakira is the glue that sticks them together. Hanzou could have been a much more efficient personal servant for Sen if it’s not for her masochistic delusions over her princess. Nia’s simple and eternal love for Yoshihiko is what drives her to fight for him. Even right till the very end, she believes in him although it may seem that she disobeyed his direct orders. But I feel that was trying to make him realize and see the point of it all. And when Yoshihiko did realize his mistake, it was too close to being too late to turn back. So a General’s kiss can actually redo a pact again? It makes me wonder what happens if the General is a womanizer. For every lips taken, man, there’ll be lots of Master Samurais everywhere! However that may not happen since you have got to be an exceptional person to become a General. Say, isn’t kissing to make a pact somewhat similar to the premise in Sekirei? Yeah, we’ve got busty babes with unique powers. Just a different era setting.

I was hoping to see Matabei and Hanzou transform into their own version of Master Samurai but I guess they are very much loyal to their own master so much so they won’t make a pact with Muneakira. If it wasn’t a kiss, would they do so? Even if they do not power up, I feel that their skills and powers are enough to help Muneakira and co to protect Japan. The most important factor is trust and bond, right? Kanetsugu is the most annoying yet amusing character. She’s like the big idiot of the group. I can see why the rest would gladly step on her till she dies (or close to it) because at times you also feel of doing the same thing to her. She may be an airhead like Jubei but she’s more idiotic. I guess in every group, you need one whose role is for comic relief and she definitely suits that part very well. Her mouth exists to only give sarcastic and idiotic comments that will either make you laugh or roll your eyes. Yeah, she used it more than her giant hammer, which I think is very much under-utilized. Still, she’s a lovable girl only because she’s an idiot. Sorry Kanetsugu, but that’s the truth. Though she’s annoying, but we don’t hate you :).

One of the unique aspects of this series is the art and drawing. In addition to the cell shading in certain parts, the main art is very water colour-like. It is refreshing to see something different after seeing too many of today’s standard and conventional anime art. It feels like as though the characters and the backgrounds come alive from a painting. However you may get annoyed by the ink blots that scatter throughout the screen at various points. Well, they are necessary as fanservice censors. Yes, it is a unique way to use them as censors as compared to the typical bright lights, dark shadows and strategic blockings. So it is both ‘refreshing’ and irritating when these ink spot or a stroke of the brush censors come into place. But even so, the blots don’t serve totally as censors. For instance during fight scenes, the spot still covers the screen. Maybe it’s blood, sweat or dust? Since I have only watched the OVA, I still notice that these blots still smear the screen although those for fanservice ones will be taken away. I am not sure if this is evident in the other DVD episode versions but guaranteed for those who would like to ‘admire the beautiful body’ of the samurai girls without the annoying splotch, the DVD should be your ‘sanctuary’. Action-wise, some of the power battles are pretty cool, though they may be exaggerating. But hey, that’s what you’re supposed to do when you have the ability to pull off uber powerful techniques, right?

Ao Yuuki as Jubei is recognizable when she is in her airhead mode because she reminded of how Ichigo from Yumeiro Patissiere sounded like. Otherwise in her serious mode, she sounds more towards Mina from Dance In The Vampire Bund with her assertiveness. Nobody plays tsundere lolis better than Rie Kugimiya. She does Yukimura here and though her character may not be obvious tsundere, I can envision nobody else playing this role perfectly. Yu Kobayashi is also recognizable as Matabei though she sounds more gentle and soft-spoken throughout the series rather than pulling off her crazy loud voice like she did as Kaede/Kaere in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei or Ayame in Gintama. I always think Aki Toyosaki is a good fit for playing airhead girls like Tomo in Seikon No Qwaser and Yui in K-ON!. You could say she does it again here, if not better. Her voice is really into the character. Whenever Hanzou goes into fawning of Sen, it reminded me of Hatsukoi Limited’s Soako. It’s no surprise since she is voiced by Saori Goto. I didn’t recognize Ami Koshimizu as Nia because she didn’t say “tawake” line like her role as Horo in Spice And Wolf. Is that how I remember her? Well sadly, yes. Other casts include Daisuke Hirakawa as Muneakira (Makoto in School Days), Minako Kotobuki as Sen (Tsumugi in K-ON!), Kaoru Mizuhara as Gisen (Misao in Lucky Star) and Takahiro Sakurai as Yoshihiko (Suzaku in Code Geass). The opening theme Last Vision For Last by Faylan is quite a powerful rock piece. Well, it sounded suitable if the series had lots of samurai slashing action. The ending theme is Koi Ni Sesse Tooryanse by the trio seiyuus of Jubei, Sen and Yukimura. Sounds like a song coming from an all-girls group. A bit silly, though.

Hopefully those who have watched the series won’t get their actual facts of Japanese history twisted or ‘modified’. Me, I know nuts about it so you can say my head is already ‘condemned’. Maybe it’s one way to get guys who often lack the interest in studying Japanese history and culture but still, if you look at it this way, it may be somewhat of a bad taste. Would it be disrespectful to picture a past honourable warrior in a different light? Some may call it escapism. To me it’s okay if your delusions don’t hurt anyone. So if you really want to watch this show, throw all logic out of your head because for instance, you get the idea of things to come when a sword can actually slice a plane in half without the girls break into any sweat. Who needs an army when all you can have are a bunch of sexy, busty and colourful Master Samurai ladies protecting the country? Is it a wonder why Japan lost the war then?

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