Satsuriku No Tenshi

March 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kokkoku

October 21, 2018

I’m sure we have this fantasies of wanting to stop time and do whatever we want. Fortunately we can’t do that in real life otherwise time will never ever move forward with all of us busy stopping time trying to achieve our selfish goals. But Kokkoku isn’t an omnibus of mini stories put together about people stopping time and doing whatever they want and in the end reap what they deserve. Instead, a seemingly normal family discovers they have the ability to stop time and while it all seems nice and fun at first, there is also a dangerous cult who can do the same. They have to fight and survive their way through this stalled time while discovering other strange and bizarre secrets of this frozen world.

Episode 1
Juri Yukawa just failed another job interview. Her 19th one. She has a reason why she wants to leave her household. Her grandpa is old and retired, dad Takafumi is laid off and drinks in the day, brother Tsubasa is unemployed and is only interested in playing video games. Her sister Sanae is a single mom and perhaps the only ‘amazing’ one as she works to support her only son, Makoto. They don’t even know who his father is. But Makoto is the sole reason why Juri feels she has hope of this family. Sanae calls Juri to pick up Makoto from kindergarten. Because Tsubasa is being useless again, Takafumi thinks he needs some fresh air and go fetch his nephew instead. After Tsubasa picks Makoto up, suddenly they are kidnapped by ruffians. Soon Juri picks up a ransom call. 5 million in exchange for their lives. Don’t call the cops or they die now. Also, they’ll die if they don’t hand over the ransom at a certain building before a certain time. As the family panics on what to do, grandpa forces them to listen to him. He makes them put their hand on a weird stone as he cuts himself to drip blood into it. Suddenly time stops. After weird supernatural creatures absorb into them, they are able to move about. They head to the kidnapper’s hideout. Don’t worry. They have all the time in the world. Takafumi is in shock and wants a scientific explanation. Yeah, I don’t think our puny minds can understand it. But grandpa doesn’t know much about this world known as Stasis as it was passed down throughout his ancestry. However he cautions that there is a reason why one can’t use it very often. It seems people who do so will naturally give in to their desires like stealing or peeping. Until a point where they become devoured by this world. Grandpa doesn’t know what it means as he doesn’t intend to find out. Arriving at the place, they see the punks in the midst of roughing up their victims. Juri is mad and wants to rough them up. Grandpa notices some hideous creature forming behind her and tells her to prioritize rescuing their family members. As they leave, they are ambushed by a few guys who can move in Stasis. Apparently they have orders to kill everyone except grandpa. Grandpa tries to save Juri and uses his teleportation power but it only moves them a few feet away. Junji Sagawa notes that it is an ability only their bloodline can do and it makes him envious. When an underling threatens to kill Makoto if they keep teleporting away, that hideous bushy monster pops up behind him.

Episode 2
Flashback a few months ago, we see the Genuine Love Society (basically a cult) led by Shibata, telling his followers how they are going to change the world. But they need the master stone for that. Their great leader is Sagawa. Back in current time, the monster crushes that ruffians head! It then disappears. Gramps take Juri and run. He explains that monster is called Handler and is trying to protect people who can’t move in Stasis. There are some other rules too but grandpa isn’t clear about them. He heard people who fooled around too much in here end up as Handlers. Also, they can’t go back and get Tsubasa or Makoto since grandpa cannot teleport stalled people. Yes, he tried it before. Their only way is to redo the spell again. As a Stasis is like a film frame. They need time to flow again and then stop in a different Stasis to rescue the duo and hope those buggers aren’t there. But the problem now is Takafumi. They can’t abandon him and surely the Handler won’t protect those who are moving. Gramps’ plan is for Juri to go back and bring the stone here while he goes rescue Takafumi. We go back a little in time as after the monster killed the ruffian, some of his life force transferred to Tsubasa, enabling him to move. He played dumb by not moving. Shibata talks to Sagawa about the Herald (their term for the Handler). It seems Shibata is in a bind upon realizing they cannot kill stalled people in Stasis as this puts a damper on their plans. Sagawa has also talked to a new recruit about this, Shoko Majima. It seems she has been in this world before but that was like 17 years ago. Tsubasa finally moves when everyone is gone. Unaware of what is going on, he thinks Makoto is dead and carries him to the hospital. Grandpa sees Takafumi being taken by the henchmen to the cult’s base. He goes upstairs and sees a similar stone. When he sees a video when the family was using the stone’s power, he suddenly realizes their target is their stone and has sent Yuri on a ‘suicide mission’. How fast can grandpa run? Meanwhile Juri has returned but doesn’t see the stone. She is assaulted by several men who prepare to kill her as they have orders to vanish the Yukawa family without leaving a trace. I guess this means they can’t rape her and leave semen trails either.

Episode 3
Juri’s eyes turn white. No, she’s not dead. Suddenly she fights back and seems to purge her attackers. She manages to take the stone and run. As Majima witnessed this, she explains that the life force being purged is actually Spectres. Supposedly the supernatural spirits of Stasis. Merging with them allows you to move in this stalled time and when you are purged, you returned to being stalled. Majima knows this because she once had that power. With Shiomi arriving to check on things, Majima explains what happened so he has to go back to report it to Sagawa. Speaking of which, he is doing an experiment. He calls one of the hired subordinates to kill a traitor in their cult. He isn’t participating in this and is stalled. The moment he is about to kill him, the Herald pops up and kills him. Sagawa observes that once again the head is crushed, signalling the Herald might want to get rid of the killing intention from the brainwaves. Also, the Herald is smaller this time and it could mean it needs lots of energy to maintain its form and its uptime is limited. The Spectre in the dead killer pops out and goes into Makoto. Tsubasa is shocked he can now move. Tsubasa tries to play dumb at what is happening but the kid is smarter than him. Of course being a kid, he goes to play around with all the stalled things. Uncle has to chase after him and the fun stops when his back gave way. After Shiomi reports to Sagawa about Majima’s finding, Takafumi is brought to see him. He is told the stone in their possession belongs to them. As Takafumi only knew today he could enter Stasis, Sagawa offers to make a deal with him. Juri manages to reunite with grandpa who is apologetic for not thinking this through. However they are ambushed by more assailants. Oh boy. This teleport tag is going to take a while. Just when they manage to get away and breathe a little bit, a guy who is pretending as a stalled suddenly goes in for a quick stabs at Juri’s back.

Episode 4
Grandpa was fast in tackling that dude. Juri then purges his life force. She asks grandpa and believes she has come to Stasis before. Flashback shows they did. She was sad her dog was going to die of old age and she was willing to stay here forever. When grandpa wanted to bring her back, she struggled and almost purged him. He managed to cling on but realize he lost her. He frantically searched for her and managed to find her. It was at that point he realized Stasis was like hell. It was a good thing she forgot all this until now, eh? As they quarrel about the stone giving them problems, the ruffian return. They could only run so far and grandpa has no energy left. Juri is through running away (perhaps she can’t stand their sexist comments anymore). She purges them all! Badass! With grandpa’s help of teleporting behind the punk and restraining him, this purging combo works on all their pursuers. They return to get Makoto and Tsubasa but are shocked they aren’t there. Grandpa assures he only saw Takafumi being taken away. Juri examines the rope and it looks like Tsubasa freed himself. Examine the dead guy outside, she asks what happens to the Spectre when one dies here. Grandpa realizes it will slip out and perhaps it went into Tsubasa. Back to Majima’s side, they are waiting for orders from Sagawa and considering the possibility if Juri took the stone and run away, it’s over for them. As one of them is injured, he is of course short fused. Majima adds nobody can leave or enter Stasis without the stone. Like living here for eternity if they never get the stone? An argument ensues and that guy tries to kill a stalled. The Herald pops up and kills him! The Herald then crumbles into sand but does not disappear. Majima examines it and finds a human head inside it but not the one she is looking for. She explains this Herald has used up all its energy and won’t move anymore. Heralds were once humans but have transformed into inhabitants of Stasis. In the doctrine of the cult, there is supposed to be only one but there could be many. Majima sounds calm because she has witnessed a family member turned into one before.

Episode 5
Flashback shows Majima’s family also had that stone. It seems they caught up in the spell when grandpa activated it because at the same time Majima’s brother’s tears dropped inside it. The family are shocked to find themselves in the Stasis world. However because they are mentally weak, they soon turn into the Herald. Scared Majima was alone. She bumped into Juri. She too got freaked out and purged Majima before she turned into a Herald. Now, Majima’s ulterior motive is to test if Juri could really expel Spectres and hence using those guys to prove it. Her goal is to find her family who turned into the Herald and bring their bones back. Also, one must not lose the determination to live if you are to continue staying in this Stasis. Juri and grandpa teleport back to purge one of the guys before escaping. Majima and Sako are left as they search for the duo. Majima wants to talk to Juri but she’s not coming out. They give up and return to report to Sagawa on what happened. Because Majima points out there might be more than 1 Herald, Sagawa finds it interesting because it goes against the teachings of the cult. He wants to test it. He pretends to kill that stalled traitor and wants the rest to warn him if the Herald pops up. It’s hard at first but then a small Herald pops up. Shibata laughs at its size and abuses it. When he dares it by threatening to kill the stalled, suddenly it grabs his hand. Sagawa tells him to cut it off or be killed. When he does so, 2 more Herald pop up and decapitate him! Majima somewhat recognizes them as her family members since they are wearing familiar clothes. Meanwhile Juri and grandpa try to take Takafumi away. I know he is bait for the other henchmen to spring and attack them. But what are they waiting for? Because the family is like having enough time to argue and stuff. Once grandpa realizes they’re being tailed, he teleports the family away. Dang. They lost their chance. Sako prefers to follow Majima instead of those ruffians to keep his sanity. They decide to tail the Yukawa family in secret. Tsubasa and Makoto return home. But one of the ruffians tailed them home and reached there first. He hid the stalled bodies and the note Juri left them. When the time is right, he attacks and tries to stab Tsubasa who amazingly puts up a decent fight.

Episode 6
In the struggle, Tsubasa strangles and suffocates him to death. When it’s over, he realizes Makoto is not around. As he looks for him, the Spectre inside is threatening to leave. Luckily he stumbles into Juri and the old guys but at this point Tsubasa is in danger of turning into a Handler. Juri quickly purges him to prevent any further damage although he is now a stalled. Soon, they are confronted by Majima who claims they have Makoto. She blames them for all that has happened. To a point she even stalked Juri in front of her house? And something about she negotiating with the cult but won’t tell them her reasons. They are forced to cooperate as Majima explains her intentions. She wants to summon a Handler to retrieve her family. She will pretend to kill and before the Handler kills her, she wants Juri to purge it. But it is easier said than done since Majima has a hard time trying to ‘pretend’ to kill. However it appears in a flash when Takafumi does so. Thank goodness for grandpa’s teleportation or else he would have been done for. Juri leaps onto the Handler and tries to purge it but because it is huge, she needs many tries to reach into the deep core. All this while, grandpa’s teleportation serves as useful to save Takafumi’s life from the Handler’s smashing. In the end, Juri finally manages to purge the Handler and stop its violence. It seems the people inside the Handler are indeed Majima’s family. According to Majima, both sides acknowledged each other even if it was just for a split second.

Episode 7
Apparently Majima’s brother is still alive. But looking like a malnourished African kid. Soon after, the Spectre leaves his body. Majima makes arrangements so that when she leaves Stasis, she can bury her parents and bring her brother to hospital. Sako wants to team up with the Yukawa family as he feels he doesn’t want to be used anymore by the cult. Juri doesn’t trust him but grandpa at this moment prefers to gather allies. Sako says there are 7 members left in the cult including big boss Sagawa and Shiomi who is good at placing hidden cameras. Sagawa and Shiomi investigate Tsubasa’s body. Sagawa believes the Spectres are familiar with the Yukawa bloodline and hence drawn to them. He reveals his true intention of wanting to observe the world for a long time and hence a lifespan that spans thousands of times than normal humans. If this works out, he plans to install Shiomi as the next head of the cult. He agrees with Shiomi’s plan that if he becomes the head, he will seal Stasis forever. A cult member eavesdropped on them and believes Sagawa is going to betray them. Juri’s plan is to purge the remaining cult members, return to reality and destroy the stone to seal Stasis forever. Majima adds how the stone existed a long time ago but fell into obscurity. Only Sagawa realized it recently though she doesn’t know his real intentions. Takafumi seems to have a different thinking. He doesn’t think nor want Stasis to be sealed. Sako and Majima managed to lure a cult member to get some updates before Juri purges him. A couple of others are resting at the shrine. Noticing that somebody was here, they search the area and find the stone hiding in the tree. Sagawa continues explaining about the cult’s founder who went on to live for 500 years and wrote the scriptures. From what I understand, he became a Herald and Sagawa plans to follow that path. Turning into a Herald is just a process of that. When the cult member returns with the stone, he doesn’t hand it over. He questions Sagawa’s intentions. Sagawa reveals he wants to try extend his life using Spectres. If successful, his body will be a mummy for a while. He wants Shiomi to guard it as the cult’s head. Sagawa also forbids them from using Stasis during that period. The cult member is disappointed has strayed from the cult’s teachings and will make the doctrine come true himself. Sagawa is going to demonstrate what it’s like to be completely controlled by a Spectre as his life force starts seeping out.

Episode 8
It seems Sagawa is a hybrid of the Herald. He doesn’t turn into one and maintains his physical form, save for those bulging veins. Also, he is able to maintain his consciousness as he kills his cult members as prove he is doing it on his own will. The last surviving cult member he wants him to kill Tsubasa to see if Sagawa will have the urge to kill him. However Juri drops in to purge him before grandpa teleports away. Sagawa and Shiomi then retreat but take Tsubasa away. Majima believes it is a trap to lure them. Her plan is to negotiate with Shiomi and if he is on their side, everything else will be easy. Meanwhile Takafumi is watching Makoto. We see him slowly becoming rotten as he encourages Makoto to take the toy he wants without paying. Even the kid knows it is wrong! Shame on you! After pretending to pay, Takafumi thinks hard on how to convince grandpa to teach him how to use Stasis. Sagawa eats to replenish his energy. He grows big but is able to maintain his size. Just like a snake shedding its skin? There’s some explanation about controlling the Spectre thingy but I don’t understand. Sagawa senses somebody close so Shiomi goes to check and finds Majima. He knows about her intention to use Juri’s power to save her family. After confirming she was successful, he wants her to join them as it will be her best bet to stay alive. That’s the decision he came about to stay alive. He will bring Sagawa here. The others are waiting outside when they hear a commotion. Sagawa is attacking Majima. Man, is this like Hulk smash?! Majima is somewhat able to understand the laws of physics of Stasis, hence using some of its power to make it look like she could walk on objects in mid-air. When the other arrives, Shiomi attacks and slashes grandpa (but not fatal). Soon, Sagawa and Shiomi retreat. Juri finds Tsubasa and hides him while Majima treats grandpa’s wounds. They are unable to understand why Sagawa is doing this so when they return to find their stone, it is missing. Grandpa isn’t worried because even if they use it to leave, they can find it later. If they don’t, their goal to defeat them still remains. But Majima fears why they took grandpa’s blood. Because using one’s blood in the stone could also purge that person. Yup, looks like they’re doing it. Grandpa is starting to have this funny feeling…

Episode 9
Spectres are seeping out from grandpa. Juri tells him to imagine and teleport to the stone. When he does so, Juri smashes the stone and crushes its core. Things revert to normal in the Stasis. That is when Sagawa comes back in. But immediately he attacks Shiomi who saw this coming. Quickly he runs to Juri’s side and says he is switching sides. Grandpa teleports them out before Sagawa could smash them. With the stone destroyed, Sako is worried they cannot get out anymore but Juri still believes there is a way. You just have to be nice to her… They ask Shiomi about his intentions. He switched just to survive. After the stone is destroyed, he knew he would be of no use to Sagawa. He continues explaining Sagawa’s incredible sense of those around him but he could have a weakness and must watch what he eats or else the Spectre will eat him. As for Sagawa’s intention for all this, it is to become an immortal and observe not only mankind till the end but the entire universe! So that’s like becoming God? Hence he is going to become the only stalled person in the real world. While it might look silly, that is just a very short moment in Sagawa’s ‘time’. Juri thinks they have nothing to do with this if he wants to go to the future. However Shiomi warns that Sagawa intends to fight and will not let them go even if they truly won’t get in his way. For example, if a mosquito says it won’t bite you again, it will be easier to crush it than to believe it. Meanwhile one of the members killed by Sagawa turns into a Herald. Takafumi and Makoto return home and they see this. Oddly the Herald attacks Takafumi. I don’t think being a hero is going to do any good. However Makoto activates his power. He can order the Herald to stop. When the rest return and see this, they think Takafumi did this. This jerk claims the credit. But Juri knows better and wants him to prove it. So he orders the Herald to climb up there. Nothing happening. Suddenly it does. So does he really have the power? Actually it is Makoto silently using it to help uncle out. The rest think of using the Herald to combat Sagawa.

Episode 10
Takafumi thinks he can use this chance to greatly increase his reputation. The rest want to bring Makoto to somewhere safe but Takafumi argues it is his job to protect him. So he is going to fight as well as protect Makoto in the midst of battle? Suspicious… Since he won’t shut up, I guess they relent. As Shiomi advised, they have to act now as the more time they waste, Sagawa will use it to replenish his energy. They surround Sagawa and start their coordinated attack. Sagawa knows that a long drawn battle will be to his disadvantage as he will run out of energy. He could also sense Makoto as the one controlling the Herald and tries to target him. At this point the rest also discover that it is the kid who is controlling the beast. When Sagawa is pinned down, Sagawa tries to expend some energy to get out. He grows big but soon bursts into sand and becomes a shrivelled up old fart. Needing more energy, he eats the Herald. Still not enough, he runs away while the rest give chase. Although Juri and grandpa corner him, Sagawa offers to teach them how to control their consciousness and Spectres in addition of getting them out of Stasis without the stone. Juri believes he is only deceiving them. They then talk about Sagawa being a priest before. He claims he is not a madman but a normal person who can’t even go insane. So I guess we’re hearing his flashback now? Okay. He comes from a family of preachers based on a very old faith. Every week he would see his dad preaching the same thing to his followers. Like a stone pillar. He thought it is that invisible pillar that supports people and their morality that protect the world. He had a friend who was a child of a member as the only other kid he interacted outside school. One day when they head back home to get new amulets for new members, they caught their parents in the middle of sex.

Episode 11
Sagawa became disillusioned when he learnt everything was just for fun. His father died 5 years later and he was devastated. He wanted to leave the faith forever but his friend forbade him. Angry, he smashed the altar and saw the stone. That is when he became interested in Stasis and formed his cult to research on it. Sagawa views the normal world as nothing attractive but it is not the case for Juri. He wants her to return to her family. However Juri refuses to believe and tries to expel him. Sagawa can withstand it although very much weakened. Juri reasons that since he is devoted to his cause, he is not likely to leave everything to luck and hence this was just a distraction. Juri takes the cutter to kill him but grandpa doesn’t want her to dirty her hands. Since he too is hesitating, they argue. Until Takafumi barges in and stabs him with a sword! He tries to act tough and all but Sagawa turns into dust and his brains and lungs fly away?! Outside, he forms a cocoon and is believed to be regenerating. As there are threads all over the place, Takafumi tries to cut it down but realize too late the threads are so sharp this his own fingers are cut off! To avoid bleeding, Juri expels him. With Sagawa in this state, Shiomi suggests burying the dead and Juri has them promise never to hurt her family again. While resting, Juri tries to purge grandpa but he is quick enough to escape. Is this her way of saying goodbye? Instead, they treat Makoto nice for ‘one last time’ before Juri purges him (since he wanted to see mom so badly). As time passes, they realize Sagawa has extended his threads. He is also extracting nutrients from it. Majima who was watching Sagawa realizes she is trapped and cannot move. Shiomi experiments as he uses Juri’s power to destroy the threads. It’s their chance to destroy Sagawa once and for all. Thank goodness Sagawa is suspended low enough that a ladder could reach him. When Juri begins to purge him, she could see all his memories. She realizes he is the same as her but cannot worry about him s she has her own family problems. After she purges him, a foetus of Sagawa drops out. Grandpa slaps the baby’s buttocks as it cries its first breath of life.

Episode 12
Juri decides to take care of the baby? Shiomi worries his memories will reactivate but Majima explains about Spectres relying on genetics information to keep Sagawa alive so with him being reborn, there is no way his old memories will return. Juri adds that she saw his memories crumbling. So I guess that’s that. Now Juri has to send the rest back. Because Majima is being pessimistic, Juri slaps her first. Like that would give some positivism. She expels Majima, Shiomi and Sako. So now Juri and grandpa play house and take care of the baby? Yeah, they even have time to go have fun. Nothing is going to stop them. Eventually Juri purges grandpa in his sleep. He did say he wanted to go back but was waiting for the resolve to explain to the family. Juri had to do it now because they’re dragging their feet at this rate. Juri continues to take care of the baby and for almost 6 months, that is when she decides to purge him because at this point she is hesitating. Now all alone in Stasis, Juri has all the fun she needs without a care. Who is to stop her? Eventually boredom and depression set in so she takes a long walk. She tries not to think depressing thoughts until she stumbles into a strange Spectre. That is when she realizes she lost her reason to live in Stasis after purging the baby. She slowly transforms into a Handler and losing her consciousness. She is drawn to some light and when she touches it, she returns to normal. Although still in Stasis, she is shocked there is another blonde woman, Mariya (MAMIKO NOTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!) who can move. As explained, it seems Juri pulled her into this world. Mariya was born with a Spectre in her body and doesn’t age. Her husband was the one who created the stone. She often brought him into Stasis. Although many called him the Founder, she is in fact the true founder. Oh, he died back in 1880. Mariya wants to stay in this era a little longer and purges Juri. Time now resumes for Juri. Happy to be have time flowing? Well, now no money or handphone… Juri walks all the way back and upon reaching her doorstop, she sees grandpa waiting for her. He calls everyone as they are so happy to see her back. Juri too. Ending montage shows the Yukawa family doing decently well and Sagawa has grown up to be like Makoto’s age. He calls Juri his mom. This has got to be weird. Imagine a child who doesn’t know his real father. Unless of course, adopted.

One Moment In Time
So… That’s it? Damn, I must be sorely disappointed for expecting the final episode to make some big revelations or twists. But instead I have been left to ask a few questions like why didn’t Juri use the power to purge herself? Can she only do it to others? I mean, you just place your hand on the chest and bam! Purged. And then having this Mariya lady showing up last minute didn’t help either. Sure, it sounds intriguing especially about her past but somehow I feel that it is just a plot convenience so that Juri get return to her normal time and reunite with her family. Remember, Mariya could enter Stasis like as easy as breathing so she’ll be able to go in and out any time. At least that’s what I think. But thank goodness for casting Mamiko Noto as Mariya otherwise it would have really been a downer. So what ever happened to the rest of the cult and ruffians? Although some of them did die but for the rest who got purged, don’t you think they would go after the Yukawa family? Don’t tell me they lose their memories after being purged because that doesn’t quite cut it. Or maybe nobody is going to pay them even if they got the job done. Or maybe they got scared after experiencing Stasis and decide to return to repent, lead a normal live and never speak of it again. Like this anime. Haha!

Although generally the concept and setting of Stasis looks interesting and intriguing at first, but the more I see how it tries to flesh out the story and pacing of the series as a whole, it felt like it was getting harder to justify how to end things. Like as though it was trying its best to keep up and maintain its intrigue but with nothing really going for it, it’s like doing whatever it needs to keep going until they could somehow properly end it. Because you see, the plot is just so paper thin that there is almost hardly any. A family down on their luck suddenly discovers a hidden ability that supposedly runs in the family. A cult who somewhat wants to take them out. Their cult leader has an ulterior motive. The entire series feels like a horror survivor movie with Juri using her power to take out the baddies one by one until a few survivors left against the big boss. I guess that’s where your ‘action’ mostly comes from other than seeing the Herald crushing punks’ head to death.

Hence it is never sufficiently explained about the world of Stasis. From what we hear are just mostly ‘guesses’ and ‘observations’ of those who supposedly entered and returned. How the stone ended up in the respective sides are not explained but it is not as important as to why the Yukawa family possesses such unique powers in the Stasis. Why is it that grandpa has teleportation power while Juri possesses the purging power and Makoto too had some Herald controlling ability? It would have been a little bit better had they give up some insights but thinking about it, it might have been a bore since looking at how the way things have gone, it might not have played a significant factor. They just the power because of being passed down by the family thingy whatever. Like as though the family is given such powers to spice up the pace of this series and to give them a fighting chance against the cult who has numerous members as well as additional hands they have hired just to take them out.

Another mind boggling thing that bugged me was when Juri started hanging out all by herself in Stasis. She did eat some food and used up some resources in the real world. So when time resumed, don’t you think all those foods and drinks would suddenly vanish from the perception of normal people? Yeah, the grocery guy just stacked the entire shelf with fresh buns and breads. And then the next second, they’re all gone! I can imagine that all the resources consumed happened so fast just in that moment so it looked like it ‘disappeared’ in a blink of an eye to normal people (because they wouldn’t even know time had stopped). So what I am saying is, if Juri remained in Stasis forever and continued to consume the resources, wouldn’t the world suddenly just ‘die’ when those resources are out? One moment in normal life, things are going well. Suddenly the next second all the foods and drinks are gone! Oh no! See what I mean here? It would have been nice to see some of the people’s reaction in this anime to find such stuffs suddenly missing. The biggest unexplained mystery in human history when things just go missing without a trace. Because of the Spectres inhabiting one’s body, time flows normally. So does this mean Juri will age and die in Stasis? If that’s the case, I wonder how Sagawa was going to become God and observe all of time and everything. I also have to ask and wonder how people in Stasis go take a dump… They’re coming out and then it stops halfway out of your body. Can’t imagine this disgusting thing…

I am not technically wrong when I say that this series could be one draggy series because heck, more than 98% of the series takes placed when time is stalled! Only the first and last episode do we see that time is actually moving. Uh huh. Technically all the episodes in between are like the frames that happened in that single moment in time. As I have said that the plot is paper thin, hence a dozen episodes feel like a long time to flesh things out. Thus the reason why I said this series is draggy. Although I am not bored with this sluggish pace because some of the mysteries kept me intrigued, the way they unfold the mysteries bit by bit seems a bit too slow. Okay, I don’t really want everything to be revealed in one episode and then for the rest of the episode have no mystery and intrigue to look forward to. But sometimes I can’t help of wanting to scream out to move on to the next thing. Get it over with. However it is once again silly of me to wish things would move at a quicker pace since time is stalled and there is no incentive for these characters to quickly do things. Literally they have all the time in the world.

I can’t say the main characters are general interesting because take for instance the Yukawa family, they’re just a really normal family trying their best to make ends meet in the normal world. Juri tries to play the responsible family member because the guys are just useless or they are just too old or young to be relied on. I suppose as the only female in her family in Stasis, she has this obligated sense of duty to protect her family. Of course she also has the most useful and dangerous power among them so it makes sense she wants to use it wisely and efficiently. But other than that, she’s pretty normal. She looks badass just because she has no pity for the bad guys but then again if anybody threatens your family like that, you’re not going to show mercy to any of them.

Since Makoto is just a young kid and too young to understand what is going on, I figure he is perhaps the only character who is seen having fun. It is like he is oblivious to why all the people stopped moving and just goes around having fun in his own way. This kid isn’t scared of seeing the Herald and even hopes to ride it! I don’t think this is an amusement park. But his innocence brings a fresh air and hope than the other characters who are just too caught up in the moment (literally) trying to figure and stop things. Also a much better character than Takafumi who looks like he is going to walk down the dark side and my thoughts that he would become the final antagonist after Sagawa’s defeat but alas, looks like nobody in the Yukawa family is going down the rotten road yet. But even if you put yourself in Takafumi’s shoes, could you blame him entirely for wanting to use Stasis to his advantage? Why is it that some people are successful and some are not? If you have that chance to turn the fortune tables, would you do it? Questionable but hardly surprising for Takafumi who is already at the bottom of his life. Well, just don’t get caught.

I feel that having Majima in the mix is just to provide a little distraction and side plot. Otherwise the story would have proceeded the same without her albeit a little bit faster. She is a reason why I said the series was draggy because of her subplot to find her lost family. So when they are conveniently found and rescued, it felt like no big of a deal. She could finally find peace for her family and put an end to her long search. Otherwise, it doesn’t hurt to have another hot badass chick to hog the spotlight and fight alongside Juri. I figured they needed that Shiomi character because aside from him being the only handsome dude around, it is just for that minor plughole to explain how somebody could plant hidden cameras and spy on the Yukawa family. Also, we need somebody with that brains calibre to fight Sagawa and Shiomi looks and sounds like the man for that role.

Sagawa as the main antagonist is hardly surprising but in the end turns out into a disappointing character. He has this typical cliché looks of a main villain and initially what makes him dangerous as the cult’s leader is his calm and crafty manner. Probably his training from his religious days has him not show much of an emotion and this makes him a force to be reckon with. He is able to think calmly and perhaps stay on par with the Yukawa family. Sure, he too has his own issues but it doesn’t seem to be such of a big deal that you would want to take pity on him. But maybe when you’re in a religious cult, everything is so ‘straightforward’ like that and when the slightest deviation, you become disappointed. But still, it feels like a big gap on why he wants to become God and observe everything till the end of time. Even if he manages to become one, I am wondering if he would be able to remember them all. After all, his body and life might have transcend the normal observable time and life but his brain might not. So is he going to like walk everywhere, watch everything and remember everything? Heck, I can’t even remember what I ate this morning! Even if he is able to transcend into a higher being, will he still be himself with his own will and conscious? It looked like so but that is only because I believe that isn’t his final form and was just in a transitioning form.

This brings me to the Heralds themselves. They are supposed to be the biggest mystery and horror factor that the series has to offer but when the truth about them is somewhat revealed (even if they are just ‘intelligent guesses’), it somewhat felt like a downer. I know, blame myself for having such high hopes of these creatures when it first appeared. Probably that first Herald skyrocketed my expectations. So if the Heralds roam freely in stalled time, but this also means that they have to be present in other stalled times, right? So they’re like able to ‘teleport’ from one stalled time to another, right? Because with Sagawa almost turning into one, everyone assumed that there are no more Heralds in Stasis. Does that mean when there are no more of those creatures, whoever enters Stasis are free to kill any stalled people without consequences? Like I said, lots of things are not put together nicely and since they are quite loose, the more you think about it, the more your brain hurts. That’s why I stopped questioning them all.

The art and animation are pretty standard. One might think that animating this anime is easy because 95% of the series takes place in Stasis and hence everything else in the backdrop is static and need not be animated. Sure, it is slightly easier but no different than most other animes as well. Because all those other animes too don’t necessarily animate all in the background all the time. We are just ‘distracted’ to not focus too much on it. The other anime that I can think of that animates the characters and those in the foreground but the background is left like a wallpaper or backdrop is Mahou Tsukai Ni Taisetsu Na Koto: Natsu No Sora. Yeah, that’s a pretty old anime series. But that show wasn’t about stalled time so watching that series was weird.

One thing I want to note about Sagawa when he partially turned into a Herald, somehow I started thinking if the form he took on was inspired by a combination of The Hulk and Groot. If those 2 had a love child together, this is what they get! No kidding. The design of the Heralds are supposed to be creepy. Maybe at first but with the bushy like branches sticking out of their head, I sometimes can’t help think and wonder if this is their afro hairstyle! Oh no! Now I can’t stop seeing them in this light! Want to become a Herald? Hope you like the bushy afro-like hairstyle. This series is animated by a relatively new studio, Geno Studio whose only other works I have watched is Golden Kamuy.

One of the weirdest moments in the series has got to be the opening and ending themes. Flashback by Miyavi vs Kenken feels so out of place that it definitely doesn’t fit this series in any way that no one would see it coming. But the song itself isn’t that bad. Just weird. It is filled with wild frantic techno hip hop and funky bass lines that it is more suitable for a rave dance party. Making it sounding weirder is the background vocals going, “Aaah, aaah~” in some of the lines. If you hear the original full song of this, this ‘chorus’ starts repeating itself from 2/3 of the song right till the end! Be careful, you might get hypnotic at the end… The ending theme, Asayake To Nettaigyo by Boku No Lyric No Bouyomi is also weird. Sung in a very drowsy and sleepy voice, this is actually a calming peace despite its rap-like lines. A song that is good to listen when you wake up on nice mornings. But for the ending credits animation, is it sexy time?! Because we see Juri and Majima in their sexy undies in some scenes and they are drawn up to a very cute and sexy look. The series lacks fanservice so is this where they can freely sexualize our lovely ladies? Mmm, me approve!

Overall, at first looks this is quite an interesting series. However it fails to captivate in the end and making it more disappointing is its inability to properly finish and answer all the burning questions. What is the point of making the mystery even more mysterious and leave viewers scratching their heads instead of some mind provoking thoughts? The concept of moving within a stalled time and how each and every time if stopped is like a movie frame is also quite interesting but again it fails to capitalize on that as it soon became a ‘low budget’ horror survival series. The potentials of this series somewhat feels like the Herald crumbling into dust and vanishing forever, leaving a pile of unwanted sand. Yeah, that greatly sums it up. Can we move on and leave this series behind in Stasis forever? In the end, even if we all cannot stop time and do sneaky stuffs like peeking up a girl’s skirt (you mean this thought never cross your mind as a man or woman?!), but take heart that we are all time travellers. One second at a time.

Mahou Shoujo Site

August 12, 2018

What’s this?! Another dark battle royale magical girl series? So, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica + Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku + a little punch of Jigoku Shoujo = Mahou Shoujo Site! Fukou da ne… Well, if the plot of magical girls fighting each other doesn’t sound too original, please bear in mind that this series was written during the height of the popularity of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. I guess now it has only been given its anime treatment. Better late than never? Bored of all the sparkling goodness and clichés in typical magical girl series? I guess we can’t get enough of magical girls killing each other. Hontou ni fukou da ne…

Episode 1
Aya Asagiri tries to kill herself at the railroad crossing. She couldn’t. Every day she thinks of dying. But I don’t think everyone else cares either. At school, she is bullied by a group of girls led by Sarina Shizukume. Heck, even the teacher and other classmates don’t care and turn a blind eye. Toilet break isn’t exactly fun for Asagiri too. Yup, more torture. Her only reprieve is a stray kitten by the bridge. Heck, kitty gets better treatment from Asagiri. Wanna bet the bullies find out about this? It is no different back home. The focus is on her brother, Kaname. Her parents praise him for his grades and intellect. But behind his gentle demeanour, Kaname abuses Asagiri! He ties her up and punches her guts! This is to let off steam for living up to their parents’ expectations. He blames her for that and at least be useful as a stress reliever. That night, a strange Magical Girl Site pops up. It offers magic to her but she shuts it down seeing how creepy everything is. Next morning on her way to school, more misery is added when she sees a certain kitten killed at the tracks. Asagiri is surprised to see a weird gun in her locker. Then more abuse by Shizukume and her groupies. Yeah, they’re so bored of it that Erika Kajima calls her senpai, Shouta Arai to rape her. Asagiri runs away but is caught. Moments before being raped, Erika reveals she killed the kitten. This makes Asagiri mad as she whips out the gun and fires. They disappear. But later it is discovered their bodies have been found near the tracks. Asagiri is fearful that she might have killed them and will be arrested. She tries to find the site again but error 404. With Asagiri ignoring Kaname, looks like his stress is pent up and can’t concentrate on his studies?! Shizukume confronts Asagiri and demands what she did. Asagiri maintains her innocence but she doesn’t believe it. She is going to scar her face when suddenly time stops. Fellow classmate, Tsuyuno Yatsumura comes to her rescue. She claims she is a magical girl and so is Asagiri after receiving a ‘magical stick’. Yatsumura positions Shizukume to slice her own neck. She will tell Asagiri all about Magical Girl Site as she needs her.

Episode 2
Yatsumura further explains her magical stick stops time and Asagiri is able to move because she added her name to a list of exceptions. Asagiri’s power is instant teleportation and she witnessed that ‘murder’ thingy. Yatsumura believes it is their destiny as magical girls to weed out bad people so she shouldn’t feel bad about it. Of course Yatsumura didn’t make Shizukume kill herself but enough to put her in critical condition. Back at her room, Yatsumura explains more about the mysteries. The site owner is unknown but it seems if you accept the magical stick, you are bound to the site rules. Also a note of caution not to use the power so much because it drains your life. There’s an indicator on the arm. Once it runs out, you die. Yatsumura is also here to warn her that there are other magical girls out there. She once worked with a fellow magical girl, Rina Shioi who would gather information on other magical girls. Suddenly someone is killing magical girls and taking their magical stick. They started investigating her and dub her Magical Hunter. Suddenly Shioi disappeared. Her body was never found but before she disappeared, she sent her a picture of what Hunter looked like. Creepy mad as hell. Yatsumura hopes they can cooperate and catch Hunter. As proof, she will protect her tonight. This means no S&M torture from Kaname. Safe. One day after school, Asagiri is stopped by a busty girl. Before she knows it, she is trapped in a magical barrier. Too late for Yatsumura to activate her time stopping magic. This girl is of course Hunter but she looks different. She used another magical stick to alter her appearance. Hunter wants to kill her and all Asagiri could think of not using her stick to get back at her is because she doesn’t want to kill her? With assurance from Yatsumura she won’t, Asagiri fires. It is believed wherever the victim is teleported is based on Asagiri’s will. They catch Hunter and interrogate her. Yatsumura knows she is Shioi as she is reacted to the Hunter moniker when nobody else uses it. Shioi reveals she went around killing others to get her stick as well. The more the better to survive when Tempest arrives. Before she faked her disappearance, she met the site’s admin. She was told the arrival of Tempest on a certain date would bring an end to this world and create a new one. Before she could reveal the important juicy parts, she starts coughing blood. Is this the doing of some magical girl too?

Episode 3
Keisuke Naoto is an obsessed fan of Nijimi Anazawa who is part of a famous idol doggy group. Shioi is in comatose state and the doctor is unsure if she will wake up. Yatsumura believes using too many powers at once caused her to fall into this state. This has them think about why they were chose to be magical girls and Asagiri to ask about Yatsumura’s past. She won’t say but snippets show she found her parents dead. Asagiri has this idea that one of the magical stick may be able to fix Shioi’s condition. As they go through the list. They see a familiar face. Isn’t that Nijimi? Asagiri has this idea to attend her handshake event. When it is their turn, Yatsumura will stop time and then Asagiri will teleport them to a different area. Not sure why they even need to meet her. Couldn’t they just freeze time and teleport? Nijimi is very excited to see other magical girls. After explaining their purpose, before they could ask her magical stick’s ability, she is whisked away by her managers to be brought back to her fans. She gives them an appointed time and place to meet. In her apartment, they see her zombie fans as slaves. She reveals her power to mind control others. Her magical stick? Magical pantsu???!!! Yatsumura knows her power is dangerous and useful, hence the need to get her on their side. When asks if she knows other magical girls, Nijimi becomes upset. Mikado was a magical and best friend until she got killed by Shioi. That’s why if she sees that b*tch, she’ll kill her!!! Scary. Nijimi also reveals she hides the indicators with concealers and she bleeds ‘somewhere else’. The duo leave but not after Nijimi uses her power to exchange contacts. Shizukume is vengeful to make Asagiri pay. Conveniently she is a few doors away from Shioi’s room and she sees Asagiri coming out from there. Possible heard a few important lines in their conversation for future plot purposes. She enters the room and is shocked to see the site admin who is sad that Shioi is disqualified. Aha. A replacement… Kaname must have had it for straight nights without abusing his sister. So he secretly checks her computer and finds frequent visits to the Magical Girl Site. Still error 404, though.

Episode 4
Nana, the site admin invites Shizukume to become a magical girl for revenge. She reveals it was the duo who caused the death of her friend as well as the hideous scar on her neck. She wants Shizukume to succeed Shioi as Hunter and collect magical sticks. She gives her a yoyo as her magical stick. With that, Shizukume can access the site and see the countdown to Tempest. Oh, her yoyo slices things like hot knife through butter. Asagiri reveals her bullied past to Yatsumura. As a transfer student, she is often weak and shy. Shizukume did help her out in several moments but Asagiri continued to remain so. Hence the whole bullying started just because she didn’t say a simple thank you? Sick. Yatsumura tells her to stop blaming herself and be strong. She is not as weak or worthless as she thinks. When Yatsumura returns home, she coughs blood and collapses. Meanwhile Kaname’s grades are slipping to a point dad becomes mad and beats him up! In the streets while other girls swoon over him, in his mind they are nothing but scums. At the convenience store, he buys a drink but Naoto the cashier suddenly goes into shock. News of Nijimi’s sudden retirement. This makes Kaname mad as this is the epitome of the worst kind of scum, validating their lives through others. Asagiri feels good today. The bullying stopped ever since she came into her life. Jumping the gun too fast. Because Shizukume is back! Oh no. Yatsumura is absent and what’s this? Nijimi is a new transfer student in her class?! Oh sh*t. She’s waving at Asagiri. Later as they talk, Nijimi says she retired from showbiz to concentrate on finding Mikado’s killer. That is more important than disappointing her fans. Yup, she still wants to kill her badly. Oh sh*t. Shizukume conveniently eavesdrops this and later confronts Nijimi to mock about her revenge plan. Then she shows a picture of Shioi. You looking for this girl? Asagiri visits Yatsumura’s place. No answer. Door unlock. She is shocked to see Yatsumura collapsed. She is still conscious and attributes this to overusing her power. She forbids her from calling the ambulance in fear of anybody finding out this strange guy chained in her room. He is the reason she became a magical girl. Flashback shows this guy snuck into her home and killed her family but left her alive so he would return to see a prettier grown up Yatsumura. She has been living in fear of him since and one day she discovered the Magical Girl Site and obtained the power. Revenge was all she had to live for.

Episode 5
Asagiri cries for her and promises she won’t be alone. Heart breaking moment with Shizukume coming in to mock them. She also tells them about letting Nijimi know about Shioi. Shizukume begins to cut them up but luckily they’re not stupid to stay where they are. Too bad Yatsumura’s killer got split in half. There goes her revenge. Yatsumura still has a trump card. Nijimi calls Shizukume to complain she can’t kill Shioi because there is a magical barrier protecting her. Yatsumura used several magical sticks to activate multiple powers at once. But this causes to Yatsumura to pass out from exhaustion. Shizukume tries to kill Asagiri but it looks like she wrecked the entire room instead. Asagiri takes over using the magical stick to erect a protection barrier. With her bent on protecting Yatsumura as her only friend, Shizukume calls her a hypocrite for killing Erika and Shouta. This time Asagiri won’t be cowed by her words. She blames Shizukume for all the bullying and never knew the hell she has been through. The feeling of wanting to die every day but couldn’t because was too scared. The place starts crumbling and before the ceiling could crush Shizukume, Asagiri fires her gun to teleport her back to school. Shizukume may be conflicted about her enemy saving her but she still won’t back down because of this and has something important to do to survive Tempest. Casualties are high as rescue teams work all night to pull out survivors. They are shocked to see a barrier protecting Asagiri and Yatsumura. Not sure how they got them out of it as they are wheeled into ICU. Asagiri’s parents are there. They are assured she is in stable condition but looks like Yatsumura is going into cardiac arrest. Nijimi is left frustrated why she couldn’t kill Shioi. If Shizukume kept her word but as though somebody else knows about her wanting to kill her and is trying to protect her. Then she connects the dots. It’s those ‘friends’. Anger level just went up another notch. Kaname is ‘worried’ about Asagiri. I mean, if she dies who else is going to be his punching bag, right? Nijimi is at the door and wonders if Asagiri is in. Damn those killer eyes… Meanwhile eye-patch girl walks into Shioi’s room and prepares to kill her.

Episode 6
Naoto follows Nijimi to Asagiri’s place and is devastated to see her coming into contact with Kaname. But what’s this? Nijimi suddenly falling in love with him?! Is this real or deception? Although on the outside we see them nice and good to each other, deep down in their heart they show us their true colour. Well, both have a bone to pick with Asagiri. Kaname decides to use her in his plan because with this ‘blessing’, he now has a reason to see Nijimi again. Kosame Amagai slits her own wrist and lets Shioi drink her blood. Shioi instantly wakes up. Being a bit pushy for answers, Kosame starts cowering in fear but after taking her medications, she calms down. Kosame reveals she is also a magical girl and her power is healing to those who drink her blood. Since she loves to inflict self-harm, cutting herself is no problem. Yatsumura and Asagiri wake up fine. Friendship time is interrupted when Shioi shows herself and introduces Kosame. Thanks to emo girl, this is the reason why their injuries are totally healed. Kosame continues explaining the juicy stuffs. There are many other Magical Girl Sites each with its own admin. But every site leads to the same revelation of Tempest. She further shows them more info on it. Tempest indeed is going to destroy the world. However there is a way one can survive. Offer the negative energy of humans to the King. They can be collected and stored via magical sticks and during the day of Tempest when one offers it, the one with the most negative energy will survive. But this means magical girls being given their own stick will start killing each other to fill up the meter. Also, if they used the magical stick too much, they’ll die. This means, the sites never intended for them to live. Kosame needs their help to join them. Their plan is to catch a site admin and make them spill more about Tempest. But first, Asagiri and Yatsumura need to find their magical sticks lost in the rubble. Since Shioi blames them for losing all her hard work, she lets them search for themselves. I think it’s going to take a while. We take a break with Yatsumura thanking Asagiri for defending her. Now her reason to live isn’t for revenge anymore. Asagiri surprises her parents by returning home and also plead for Yatsumura to stay with them for the time being since she lost her home. Kaname is suspicious about the ‘magic’ of them being healed and does his own research on the sites. Nana and the other site admins convene and are not amused nosy girls are poking too deep into the site’s secrets. What’s the solution? Kill them off! Damn, lots of dead magical girls…

Episode 7
Kosame reminds them that despite she is able to heal their wounds, it doesn’t mean their life is prolonged. They will still die during their teens from the use of magical sticks. We see Asagiri and Yatsumura sleeping together and talking about the future they want but sorry, not hot lesbian sex. We are introduced to some of Kosame’s magical girl groupies. The yakuza, the rich girl and the bully victim because he is a cross-dresser. Nijimi confronts Asagiri and Yatsumura. But first they tell her the truth and circumstances. She agrees to help find the site admin only if they let her kill Shioi with her own hands. To make matters worse, Shioi becomes a transfer student in their class. Instantly Nijimi is going to jump and kill her but luckily Yatsumura holds her down and has Asagiri take off her magical pantsu! The guys must be revelling in joy in this confusion. Yatsumura takes the magical pantsu and hides it. After they get yelled by the teacher, they converge at the park to meet Kosame’s groupies. They introduce themselves as well as their magical sticks’ ability: Sayuki Ringa (katana hardens anything she wants to cut), Mikari Izumigamine (broomstick allows her to fly fast and far), Asahi Takiguchi (necklace boosts physical abilities like speed) and Kiyoharu Suirenji (ring enables telepathy). Not surprising, some have bad blood with each other. They discuss the strategy to kidnap a site admin. Shizukume meets up with Nana who wants the magical sticks she gathered. But she won’t give them back and will use them to kill those girls. Nana fires a warning shot not to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong or she’ll die too. Asagiri is so kind to bring Shioi to stay with her. I guess Yatsumura won’t have any lesbian monopoly on her tonight. Definitely for Kaname too. During the bath, Asagiri gets a call from Kosame. Sounds like bad news so much so Asagiri starts crying. She has a favour to ask of her.

Episode 8
Naoto blames Kaname for stealing his Nijimi and vows to kill him. But what’s this? Our magical girls get to enjoy time at the beach? Does this series badly wants fanservice? I guess with the end of the world coming and the final battle with Tempest looming, why not enjoy ourselves first, right? So we see the girls having fun, more of Asagiri and Yatsumura thanking each other and this outing was planned by Asagiri because that call from Kosame told her that Yatsumura has not much longer to live after using too much of her magical stick. Later they realize somebody has broken into their locker and only stole Nijimi’s magical stick. Kiyoharu reads everyone’s minds but finds none of them as the culprit. But we’ll soon know as Naoto confronts Kaname and is going to kill him. Flashback shows Kaname using his suave skills to persuade Nijimi to disclose some magical girl stuffs. Kaname orders him on his knees and without skipping a beat, Naoto grovels before him. Wait a minute. If he has no vagina, where does he bleed from?! Does his balls bleed/! Kaname revels in his power as he shows off wearing Nijimi’s pantsu just to piss him off. My, what big dick he has! Plus, no bleeding? Kaname then orders him to walk into the ocean and stab himself in the heart. What do you know? Asagiri is watching this and very terrified. As she returns with her friends, she sees Kaname staring at her. On no. That sick look and smile… On the way home, Asagiri is terrified if her friends find out because they will kill him. After all he has done to you and you still care about that bastard? Wow. Such a nice girl. She is in a dilemma on what to do buy Kiyoharu has read her mind and knows what is going on and would like to resolve this as peacefully as possible. Detective Kiichirou Misumi and his police pick up Naoto’s body. As they investigate, he finds everything about his suicide off. He then sees a picture of Nijimi written all over with death threats addressing to Kaname. Nijimi is glad to meet Kaname but there is something he needs to tell her as he whispers into her ear…

Episode 9
Sayuki takes some of the girls to stay at her place. It’s her yakuza mansion. Definitely safe with all those thugs around… Meanwhile Kaname is at Nijimi’s place and the latter is fawning all over him until he uses the magical stick against her. She is begging for her life but Kaname views her as useless. As he orders her to hang herself, Asahi under Kiyoharu’s mind control barges in and beats him up. But with Nijimi still obedient to him, he turns the tables on her and tells her to kill Kiyoharu. Mikari rushes to Sayuki’s place to tell the bad news. Kosame cuts herself to heal Kiyoharu but there’s not enough blood. She would love to cut herself but Asagiri takes responsibility for this and uses her blood to save Kiyoharu. She reveals the truth about what she saw. But they’re not out of the woods yet as Kaname strolls in. Hello ladies. All of them are under his command as he takes it all out on his sister. Sick guy licks his sister’s hand with the cutter to heal himself. As he orders Nijimi to collect the magical sticks, Kiyoharu manages to telepathically talk to Nijimi and snap her out of Kaname’s control. She tells her to pretend and find a way to catch him off-guard. However realizing she has been duped by him, she cannot contain her again and charges at him only to be slashed. When you die, you always reflect on your life. In the case of Nijimi, she loves performing in front of others because she loves to see everyone happy. Reality hits hard when her debt ridden dad kills himself and the debt collector threatens the family. Hence Nijimi turned to the Magical Girl Site in hopes of reversing this disaster. Looks like she won’t get her chance. In her final attempt, she breaks a bottle and stabs into Kaname’s throat. Panicky Kaname tries to get the cutter but some invisible figure prevents him. Then the place is shrouded with smokescreen. When Asagiri wakes up, she sees all the other girls around Nijimi. She’s dead. Healing won’t work anymore.

Episode 10
Nijimi is such a big shot that a public memorial service is held for her. Misumi is talking to asking Asagiri’s parents who are worried about Kaname’s disappearance. Meanwhile Asagiri is as usual wallowing in depression and regret. Only thoughts of Nijimi until she realizes she needs to become stronger. About time. As she tries to find her lost magical stick and vows to protect everyone with her life, Shizukume confronts her. During Nijimi’s funeral, Asagiri surprises everyone by turning up. Later she turns her gun towards them and fire. Shortly, the building they are in collapses. It seems Nana is in cohorts with Misumi to kill them. He is the guy who stopped Kaname as he was tasked to retrieve his magical stick. He assures her Kaname is dead but it looks like he is kept alive, tied up somewhere. Now his job is to retrieve those dead magical girls’ stick. Luckily they are still alive as Asagiri teleported them somewhere. She tells them the site administrators are trying to kill them and knows about it because of Shizukume. The rest are shocked to see Shizukume joining their side. However Asagiri wants them to hand over their magical sticks. She wants them to drop out of this fight and return to their normal lives. It is her fault this mess started and she will atone it herself. But even if they give their magical sticks, that doesn’t delete the fact that they are still magical girls and will still be targeted. When Asagiri sounds too desperately desperate, Yatsumura slaps her and has her remember her initial promise about not doing this alone. With a little pep talk that they all share the burden and the pain, Shizukume gives them back their missing magical sticks. As for why she is siding with them. At first she was engaged by Nana to kill them all had they survived the explosion. Those site administrators don’t see them as people and discard them when they are useless. She is done being their pawn. They gear up to prepare taking down the Magical Girl Site.

Episode 11
The girls lay in wait to ambush a site administrator. They have the details because Yuka Sumikura who runs a blog site, uploaded details of how she is going to get a magical stick (too bad she’ll be waiting forever). But soon as her post gets uploaded, it is deleted. Possibly what she written down is true. At the school building, they wait until Ni shows up in which Shioi pounds her with her hammer. Uhm, she only lost a leg? Shioi rants how based on all the data they’ve collected, they could tell site admins have certain protocols to follow and areas assigned. That’s how they lay this bait. Yeah, it won’t do you any good spilling out those details as Ni attacks. To show how powerful she is, she kills a dumb guard passing by. Instead of being afraid and calling for backup, he called out to the monster and paid with his life. Ni turns her attention to Asagiri but she teleports her to the rooftop where Shizukume is waiting as she cuts her to pieces before Shioi finishes her off. This decoy is part of their plan. They are shocked when the corpse turns into a human one. Could it be that site admins are humans? I don’t know, but doesn’t the corpse look a little like a robot? Meanwhile, the other magical girls are being hindered by another side admin, Hachi. She is able to clone herself and keep them at bay. How long can Sayuki keep fending off her sword attacks? Back to the rest, they are confronted by Nana who claims she has been watching them. She made Ni a decoy to lure them out. Now she is going to kill them. At first Yatsumura seems dumb enough to let her destroy her magical stick. But when the timing is right, she initiates a barrier to protect her friends while attempting to cut her with Shizukume’s yoyo. Uhm, in exchange for taking in all those shots, she only cut off an arm? Yeah. Failed. Hence cue for Yatsumura’s last words. Thank you this, thank you that. She knows she hasn’t got long to live either. Goodbye. Dead. Cue for Asagiri to go berserk and scream over the death of her best friend. In another plot twist, in the base of the site administrators, Ichi welcomes the latest member to their circle: Yatsumura!

Episode 12
Nana tells Yatsumura about all the misfortune and hate building up in this world. Because of that, Yatsumura’s accumulated negative energy is deemed sufficient to be fed to the King who will then release Tempest onto the world. The King is the world’s most unfortunate girl and the plan is to wipe Earth of malice by evolving humans into something malice-free. Those who cannot adapt will die. Asagiri teleports her other friends away. She intends to be with Yatsumura but suddenly she comes back alive! Nana explains she is now an administrator but since she is not full-fledged, she needs more negative energy to become one. And that person to feed her that is Asagiri! So it becomes a strange hide and seek game. You think friendship talk is going to save the day? Can Yatsumura even hear her? Oh well, cliché time. Asagiri then shoots her own heart while Yatsumura strangles her. Did she go back in time to a young Yatsumura? Not sure, there’s the magical girl mark on her wrist. With assurance to always be with her, it dispels whatever fear she has as Yatsumura regains her consciousness. She is sad to see Asagiri’s lifeless body before her. But then, plot twist! She still lives as they both shoot at Nana. Nana claims unfairness as they used their magical sticks to free other magical girls. She asks if they are unfortunate souls. They reply they became magical girls out of misfortune but their misfortune is for nobody to decide. Therefore they are not unfortunate. Yatsumura resumes time and lets Nana get hit by a train? That killed her? Fatality! In the aftermath, more good news because Sayuki-Mikari combo somehow manage to cut down Hachi while Shizukume lives thanks to Kosame and Shioi donating blood to her. Meanwhile the administrators are talking about this mess but Ichi says they can be replaced. Meanwhile in Misumi’s lair, there are lots of magical sticks hanging up his wall. But here is the worst part. At least for Kaname. Because his butt is going to get raped by him!!! OMFG!!!!!!!!! And meanwhile too, Asagiri and Yatsumura live a happy lesbian life? Not if Ichi narrates how he hopes misfortune will befall on them because they have taken on the malice inside people’s hearts, boasting the misfortunes of the past have given rise to happiness in the present. This is an unforgivable sin as it dents the King’s plan.

Warning: Visiting This Site May Harm Your Life
Oh, you poor unfortunate soul. Fukou da ne, fukou da ne… I am not sure if this is the end at all. Asagiri and Yatsumura successfully killing the site admin who has been a thorn on their side doesn’t mean Tempest will go away. Sure, it looked like a bright sunny day after their victory with the other magical girls coming out alive and a bit scathed, that’s all. They sound like everything is over. But this only delays slightly the coming of Tempest so by a long shot, everything is far from over. Hence with this ‘happy ending’ this season has closed, it just doesn’t feel right. To a point that I think the main goal was just to defeat Nana and our main duo can happily frolic with each other. Wow. So fortunate finally, you girls. Oh right. Who are we to determine the misfortune of others, eh?

Although it started out pretty slowly and interesting, I can’t help feel that halfway through it was like dragging things out. Perhaps I was having the mentality of magical girls killing each other and when I wasn’t seeing at least a magical girl dying per episode, that was probably what got my goat. Yeah, I’m such a sadist… Can’t be help. I expected to see more than just spilled blood in this kind of series! Sure, there are dead magical girls in almost every episode. But those are just minor characters with no name whom we will never care. Those kind of magical girls are the ones racking up the body count. Then trying to find more allies to fight against the inevitable Tempest, hence the detour of trying to capture or even kill a site administrator feels lacklustre. It feels more dragged out than something that would maintain and pique your interest. I wonder if this series would have done better had an extra cour being given. Because a dozen episodes feels too short considering the pacing and direction of this series.

Even the big antagonist’s plot of trying to bring a disaster to the world in hopes of saving humanity by destroying a big chunk of it doesn’t sound original. Hmm… Where have I heard this kind of plot before? Oh, right. From Code Geass to even Sousei No Onmyouji. Heck, even Thanos from the Marvel universe has this same intention. Higher powers claim they have the moral right to obliterate weaklings and create a world without all the negative emotions for the ultimate world. A world lacking that negative emotion. It should be perfect but our heroes and heroines place more important on status quo than anything. That’s why the world continues to suck and soak up all the hatred.

The series also tries to deal with some dark themes. A lot of them. From incessant bullying to even to domestic abuse and even depression (woah, that man rape at the end wasn’t entirely expected), however they aren’t addressed in a serious manner. Did the magical power of the magical girls somehow interfered and made it less relevant? Because you see, even as Asagiri became some sort of a punching bag for Shizukume’s groupies to bully, this is supposed to score some sympathy points but the way she takes every beating like as though she extends her life force from every hit makes it feel unrealistic. If that wasn’t enough, we have her older brother who often lets off steam with his nightly visits. Yeah, he is just short of raping his sister. Maybe in time he would. Hence with Asagiri being casted as powerless (before she was a magical girl), it makes it look like one S&M fest with her bullies enjoying tormenting her while Asagiri ‘enjoying’ every moment of blows she has taken in. And the bullying stops because she became a magical girl. Felt more like plot convenience to me.

The characters are boring and uninspiring. You don’t feel like you want to root for them and only had to because they’re the good characters and out of sympathy. Like I have said with Asagiri as a veteran bully victim, she doesn’t feel like the main character and only felt so because more screen time is given to her. She has hardly changed and is mostly the same guilt ridden girl from the start. Only this time she has Yatsumura to care about. Therefore her noble attitude trying to protect and save her because the power of friendship reeks cringe. Maybe it is natural for Asagiri since Yatsumura is the first person who ever treated her closely to a human being. So it’s understandable Asagiri puts her on a pedestal and trying to show her worth as a friend instead of being some useless victim.

Copying Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s fashion, the biggest twist is revealed to be the site administrators were once humans. That’s like how the witches in that anime were once magical girls, no? I have always kept it in the back of my mind that Yatsumura might not be the good person that she seems to be before Asagiri. Because I was thinking that at one point she might betray her. All this playing friendship and being nice with her is just part of her bigger plan. After all, all magical girls have their own goals so it is not surprising Yatsumura has hers. Now, my theory is that the criminal that Yatsumura has been slowly torturing as revenge is dead, even though it is not Asagiri’s fault but she had an indirect hand in ending that reason to live. Words are easy and would you believe if a human could get over a long outstanding grudge just after a mere realization of friendship? Especially in this dark series? I’m not putting my faith in it yet. So even if Yatsumura is true blue in her friendship towards Asagiri, perhaps the ultimate betrayal to Asagiri will come in the form of her being the next site administrator. Well, she did became temporarily one but that BS friendship crap ruined it all. Instead, Asagiri did apologize and say something about ‘betraying’ her but I didn’t get it. So is it true that they have no malice in their hearts now? Damn, I didn’t think it was this easy.

The problem with the other magical girls is that they don’t feel too relevant. The new ones they teamed up with halfway through still feel like a ragtag bunch only put together because of a common cause. They do play minor roles like Kiyoharu’s telepathy thingy but any more than that, it usually boils down to Asagiri and Yatsumura. The rest I can’t even remember their names properly. Like that one who runs fast, the one who rides the broomstick and the emo girl who is tempting who cut herself. Seeing that they don’t have any backgrounds or given such prominence as Asagiri or Yatsumura, I was thinking they could be sacrificial goats. However, even if the plot did not turn into a big battle royale and became a big cooperating team to take down the menace, well, it certainly didn’t go the way I expected as seen in Avengers: Infinity War. Oh heck, why not just kill off everybody and be done with it.

You thought Shizukume would be a thorn in the main group’s side. Unfortunately she decides to put aside their differences and join them against the site administrators. I don’t know about you, it feels disappointing. I thought it would add another layer of hostility for the group seeing they have another threat to deal with. Even if she wasn’t around to join in the final battle, it didn’t matter. Perhaps to show some solidarity among the magical girls to fight for the greater good? Thank goodness it tuned out alright, didn’t it?

Kaname is more interesting than these girls because of his sick and twisted mind. This guy is a narcissist who thinks he is better than everyone. There is a saying that goes if meeting one or two people, they might be an asshole. But if everyone you meet is an asshole, you are probably the asshole. Could not be so true in Kaname’s case. But he isn’t different than everyone and is as low as a scum like those he thinks they are. Otherwise, why would he need to abuse his sister just to keep his sanity and grades? This already shows he has a flaw and ever since Asagiri turned into a magical girl, the stress keeps building up that it finally explodes. This guy could be a serial killer had he not have school obligations. Kaname is such an interesting guy that the next episode preview is about him talking in his thoughts. It usually starts out very nice and polite until the punchline in the end that reveals his darker side. But too bad he became Misumi’s sex toy so not sure what will turn out of him. Just desserts? Yeah, this was what you have been doing to Asagiri all the time. Just short of penetrating her but now you got a hot guy sticking it deep into your ass. Yeah, his hole so big, bigger than the plot hole of this series! HAHAHA!!! I don’t even know why Misumi’s character exists except for this final disturbing part that doesn’t bring us anywhere. Maybe it is to subtly tell us now Asagiri can sleep soundly now that her brother is tormenting?

One of the biggest mind boggling issues comes in the part where Kaname was trying to kill the magical girls or at least get revenge on them. At least his sister. You remember the part where he had them all under his control. And he is just a command away from silencing them. Even if Nijimi had stuck a broken bottle in his throat, a little more struggle is more than enough to finish them off. But no. Instead, Nana sent that detective to stop him. Then she wanted them dead and thought of killing them herself. So instead of letting this mad brother do the job for her, she let them lived and then wanted them dead soon after? Does this make sense? Are there rules she has to follow through? Heck, she even failed to kill all of them. Yeah, I suppose it is to provide some tension, drama and drag out the plot.

I have a feeling they want to keep some sort of mystery about the site administrators, hence we don’t know nothing about them aside that they wear weird creepy masks and are named after numbers. Also, they might be human. Yatsumura being incepted doesn’t mean all of them could be considered as once humans. Even if the site administrators are scary and powerful, it isn’t like they are so powerful or omniscient like God. Because if they were, our main magical girls wouldn’t have given them such a hard time. Like when they baited and lured out Ni who suspected nothing. I don’t believe she was playing along. And Nana who should have killed them off during Nijimi’s funeral, does she not know that they are not dead? Always check the bodies… Even some of them do not get along among themselves and just like the ragtag bunch of magical girls, they’re just there for a common goal and share the same common powers.

The fight scenes as well as the magical sticks feel pretty meh. It’s a good thing that they are not confined to its user and anybody can own and use them. Otherwise it will be a pain and boring to see the same girls using the same magic sticks, something that most of them often do. So once in a while, we see them use a different stick other than theirs but fights don’t often last that long. Maybe except that Shizukume vs Asagiri-Yatsumura at the apartment one. But I’ll give points for the pantsu being a magical stick item. Never really saw that coming. The other mind boggling thing is that when Kaname was wearing them, he did not bleed like other magical girls. Is it because he is not a magical girl? But it doesn’t make sense because you can use the item because you’re a magical girl and not an ordinary person. Otherwise, I’m sure the girls aren’t dumb enough to be bound by the rules of being a magical girl and can still use them while remaining ordinary. Also be warned that there are lots of blood spilling in this anime. But I am assuming those who are watching this have no aversion to blood and want to see more.

I have mixed feelings for the art and animation. The characters have this cute or strange feel to them. Like Asagiri who looks like plain Jane but with those bags under her eyes, it looks like she does not have enough sleep. Maybe. Being kept awake by Kaname’s abuse certainly has a toll on her health. Oddly, Asagiri somewhat reminds me of Alice from Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku. Others like Yatsumura and Nijimi look a bit cartoonish so it is a bit contrasting to the dark theme of the series. It is the site administrators that look scary and could easily give one nightmares. Thankfully I didn’t get any. Their monochrome appearance and the lack of animation enhance the surreal look like as though are paper cut-outs inserted into the animation. This is Production doA’s first anime series (the other being the Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka Dear My Sister movie) so cut them some slack?

Voice acting also doesn’t feel anything special. Yuko Oono as Asagiri (Shiori in Toji No Miko) certainly makes her character feel she is at her limits. Nobuhiko Okamoto feels at home playing the psychotic Kaname since this feels like his other similar characters, namely Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu Index. Aoi Yuuki also has a role here as Hachi but it was tough to spot her not in the voice I could identify with. Other casts are Himika Akaneya as Yatsumura (Tamarai in ReLIFE), Haruka Yamazaki as Shizukume (Ruka in Hayate No Gotoku), Aina Suzuki as Shioi (Mari in Love Live! Sunshine), Yuu Serizawa as Nijimi (Yumemi in Kakegurui), Ryusei Nakao as Nana (Mayuri in Bleach), Yumi Hara as Kosame (Albedo in Overlord), Eriko Matsui as Kiyoharu (Isuzu in Log Horizon), Mao Ichimichi as Sayuki (titular character in Space Patrol Luluco), Kaede Hondo as Mikari (Koyume in Comic Girls), Lynn as Asahi (Maya in Sabagebu) and Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Misumi (Eishirou in Sora No Otoshimono). And last but not least… Mamiko Noto as the King!!!!!! OMFG!!! Only one short line in the end!!! Maybe this show is really taking after Jigoku Shoujo in some ways. Imagine if the King turns out to be Enma Ai… Oh boy, scary or insulting?

I have this feeling that the opening theme, Changing Point by iRis wants to sound as epic as Connect, which is the opening theme for Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. Heck, the name sounds familiar to Claris who sang that song. Note that Himika Akaneya and Yuu Serizawa are part of this 6 member idol group. Well, it certainly tries to copy and have that feel as Connect but doesn’t live up to the hype. Or at least my standards. In other words, didn’t find it attractive enough to like it. The ending theme, Zenzen Tomodachi by Haruka Yamazaki isn’t anything special either. Maybe that is why they try to distract you with that live animation of a pair of girls (Asagiri and Yatsumura, I suppose) doing this weird dance on the rooftop. Open classroom? Are they doing some sort of demonic summon ritual or are they being possessed? But that weirdness cannot beat the animation of sperms flying in the air!!! WTF??????!!!!!!!! SPERMS!!!!! YOU SAW THAT RIGHT!!!!! What does a male reproductive cell has got to do in this predominantly female series???!!! I guess normal people don’t know how ovaries look like. But then again, why sperm? Why Japan? Why?!

Overall, I wanted to like this series not because I want to see dead magical girls who end up killing each other. Okay, maybe part of me wants that. Uninteresting characters, draggy plot that didn’t go anywhere far and unexciting twist ended up being its greatest demise. However with the thought that it is trying to compare itself to Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and it came out 6 years later partly diminishes its potential to be greater. Heck, I still prefer Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku by a mile. Let’s hope in the future they can come up with better magical girl stories otherwise magical girls would only be reduced to nostalgia and taken over by nonsensical ones involving guys (looking at you, Mahou Shoujo Ore and the Binan series). When that really happens, it would be most unfortunate. Yup, we definitely decide our own misfortunes and misery. Fukou da ne, fukou da ne…

Ousama Game

March 3, 2018

I want to play a game. But not many would dare play the Ouija board because of its supernatural context whether you believe it or not. So we go play a safer game. Something like Truth or Dare. Something like King’s game AKA Ousama Game. Ah, what a harmless game to play, right? All you have to do is obey what the ‘king’ says otherwise the penalty for non-obedience is some little punishment. No harm done. Boring, you say? How about we make death as the penalty non-obedience. You don’t obey, you die! Hahaha! Don’t believe me? Just wait and see till your friends die in a horrific fashion in 3, 2, 1… BLOODY DEATH!!! Now you believe?! Feeling scared now, are we? You can’t quit this game no matter what and there can only be one survivor. Are you ready? Ready or not, first order is here…

Episode 1
Nobuaki Kanazawa is a new transfer student. Natsuko Honda quickly befriends him but he is always sad and distant. When others try to make friends with him, he tells them to leave him alone. Then for the sports festival, Natsuko invites him to run a relay race since she is the fastest anchor. At first he was sceptical but after hearing about Natsuko’s parents’ tragic death, he accepts. They won the race and Nobuaki thinks life will resume to be normal for him. That is, until he gets a text from the King. When he comes to class, everyone also has this message and thinks it is a prank (Nobuaki is to kiss Natsuko). When he tries to tell them the dangers of this game, they find him disgusting and stop being friendly. Nobuaki could only lament this is exactly the same reaction like the last time. Later Aimi Murazumi wants to help Nobuaki to hook up with Natsuko but he dismisses her effort and makes her upset. Nobuaki has resigned to himself that he is going to die and might as well be the first one to do so. But does he have the right to bring down Natsuko with him? It will be soon 24 hours before the punishment is exacted (the task must be carried out by then) when Natsuko surprisingly pops up before him. First she asks if he likes someone. There was a girl. He tries to push her away but she is adamant to see this through. She admits she likes him the first time she saw him and kisses him. Nobuaki feels strange (not because of the kiss) because the punishment hasn’t come. He realizes he screwed up as he thought the text from Aimi was the punishment text. Scrolling past all the texts, he finally sees the text from the King. It seems if anyone sleeps, they will die via hanging. Nobuaki frantically tries to get Natsuko to call all their other classmates while he heads to the nearest home of one of the classmates. Too late, he is already dead. With a few deaths already, all the frightened classmates who are gathered at the park seek answers. Nobuaki reveals he knows all about this because he played it before and is the only survivor. This prompts Aimi to chide him if he knew the risk and didn’t want to kiss Natsuko, it means he wanted her dead, right? Right. Everybody gets mad and some of the guys beat the crap out of him. They even think he is in cohorts with the serial killer whatsoever. Then another text comes in. One of those guys will bleed to death for disobeying the King’s orders. He starts bleeding and his innards explode!!!

Episode 2
Seeing is believing. So does this mean Natsuko will die if she doesn’t have sex with Teruaki Nagata? Time for some flashback of how gruesome the game is. When it first started, everyone thought it was some sexual harassment prank because some guy needed to grope a girl’s boobs. With the girls being disgusted, it was eventually not followed through. The next day, everyone is shocked both of them died via hanging just as mentioned in the text. It leaves everyone in shock and confused. Some in anger especially Shouta Yahiro because his girlfriend, Misaki Nakajima is to have sex with Daisuke Tasaki. In fear of the game, they eventually did it and this has Shouta beat him to a pulp. Because Shouta is currently the King, he orders Daisuke to die via hanging. It leaves him traumatized so Nobuaki talks to him to brush this off. They talk about their dreams as Nobuaki learns Daisuke wants to be a musician instead of following his father as a doctor. Daisuke then brings him to his big rich mansion where they jam and rock till midnight. See, nothing happened. Hooray! Nobuaki then gets a call from his girlfriend, Chiemi Honda worried about Daisuke. No worries. He is alright. Till a text comes in confirming Daisuke’s obedience. He hanged himself. And so Nobuaki tells everyone the need to cooperate if they are to survive this. Natsuko is terrified and doesn’t want to have sex other than the person she loves but terrified Teruaki makes it look like she is going to rape her. Suddenly Natsuko changes. She is through pretending and strips herself. She’s going to do it right here in front of everyone. She swears to survive this game. Oddly, Nobuaki who told her to decide about having sex is stopping her from doing so? No wonder she’s pissed off calling him a hypocrite. Since he is still annoying, she takes him somewhere to talk. She berates his idea of wanting to save everyone when it is human nature to just want to save themselves. She believes he backstabbed his friends to survive. Natsuko then cries rape. Easy. Nobody believes Nobuaki and he gets beaten up again. Because Mizuki Yukimura is the current King, Natsuko wants her to order Nobuaki to die. Don’t worry, it’s not like she is killing him. She’s just sending a text. While everyone is scared at Natsuko’s sudden change in character, nobody is giving a f*ck at Nobuaki pleading for help. Till Kenta Akamatsu calls out looking for him.

Episode 3
Nobody dares mess with Kenta as he seeks an explanation who beat Nobuaki up. Natsuko then wants Mizuki to also send a text to kill Kenta. Mizuki is distraught in what to do when Nobuaki agrees she puts his name but also the other name should be Natsuko. Even more distraught now, she won’t even do it. Kenta will bring Nobuaki for treatment. Mizuki tags along but when Natsuko also wants to, Kenta slaps her! It seems Kenta has got a message from the King too that he must give an order to his class that must be followed. He promises he will send himself an order to protect Mizuki and save her life. To further elaborate how scary this game, Nobuaki continues his past. After Daisuke’s death, everyone is in shock. Another message from the King telling the class to hold a popularity contest between Kana Ueda and Naoya Hashimoto. The least popular one will be punished. Everyone is torn on who to vote because the loser will die. So it becomes an intense fishing for votes as Nobuaki pleads to the class to save his best friend’s life. Because Kana’s friends aren’t too sure about voting her too, she decides to whore herself to get some of the votes. Shouta regrets his actions but can’t help think their actions will be no different. Nobuaki tells him even if they kill someone, they would also save someone. After the votes are counted, Naoya beats Kana by a single vote. She becomes so enraged that she jumps out of the window! Though she survives and is in ICU, her punishment is to confess to the person she likes. Of course she dies before she could do that and shockingly Naoya has to obey an order in her stead. That is, to have sex with somebody. Quickly Nobuaki sets up his best friend and girlfriend to make out. This is so twisted. And time is running out. Naoya would rather die than betray both his friends so Nobuaki knocks him out so that Chiemi could do the necessary. Can a guy maintain erection when he is out? Obedience is complied. Nobuaki confirms himself as the worst man alive as Chiemi has him promise he won’t die before her. Kenta views Nobuaki as a good and the one to blame for all this is the King. He did what he could to save others and has lost a lot of important things in his life. So stop crying and save it for the joyful moments. Nobuaki seems to have dropped his handphone at the park and Natsuko picks it up. Uh oh…

Episode 4
Nobuaki believes there is a village where this game originated. He thinks of going there to find clues on how to stop it. Kenta and Mizuki agree to go with him next morning. They discuss on the King’s identity and Nobuaki knows it is not among the classmates. He thought it was so previously but was wrong. Flashback shows Nami Hirano got an order to do something for herself and she had herself touch the King. This is her plan to smoke out the culprit behind this as an obedience text is sent once it is confirmed. But what if the King is not among them? Don’t worry. Nami believes Nobuaki’s theory is right. So they start with the boys first. None. Then the girls. Ria Iwamura is the most suspicious as she is the most distant classmate. Before Nami touches her, she claims she is the King. But she tells Nobuaki that doing so won’t end the game. The only way is to kill the King. Can he do it? This puts some serious doubts in his head. When Nami touches Ria, nothing happens. The subsequent girls too are cleared. Nami becomes distraught and runs away. Nobuaki chases after her and accompanies her as she wishes till midnight. Nobuaki doesn’t want her to bear all the burden since it is his fault to begin with. When midnight strikes, Nami is punished as she becomes blind. Nobuaki receives a subsequent text that he must lose something important. But he doesn’t tell this to Nami. Oddly for a blind girl, how can Nobuaki lose sight of her?! Yeah, she is at the beach preparing to drown herself. She calls Nobuaki to confirm if she is important to him. Of course. He goes home to wreck everything. I guess material possessions aren’t that important, huh? Then he calls Chiemi and insults her so that she could break up with him. By this time, Nami can’t stand it all anymore. Bye. When Nobuaki reaches the beach, only Nami’s footprints into the sea. So Nami became one with the waves? Sorry, bad pun. Oddly, for a blind girl, how can she write her confession on the sand so perfectly?

Episode 5
Ria mocks the irony of Nami’s death. She wasn’t punished to die but yet killed herself. Nobuaki gets rough on her. She maintains she is the King and Nami didn’t exactly touched her. She made Nami touched her instead. Oh, technicalities? She dares him to kill her. He will. Only when he confirms she is really the King. That’s when she zaps him with a taser. She reveals she isn’t the real King because he would be dead by now. She was just testing his resolve if he was ready to fight the King. Guess not. Why is Ria doing this? To have fun. She is going to beat this game and defeat the King. Nobuaki believes there is another way to beat this game without more deaths. They’ll each do what they think it’s right. Just when Nobuaki has lost all hope, Yousuke Ueda calls him and has found a clue to this game. It seems all the dead victims receive an additional text but with just a character. This gives Nobuaki some hope as he asks about Ria. Yousuke isn’t too sure about her except that she was once a cheerful girl until she got raped by her dad. Shortly, a text from the King comes in. Don’t do anything unnecessary. Right after that a few people will die for disobedience. One of them is Shouta. Nobuaki tries calling him. He is suffocating to death and his last word is something about blocking. This has Nobuaki think you can’t block or cancel your subscription. So as he calls others to warn about this, instantly they get a punishment notice! They didn’t do anything and they’ll die?! Nobuaki realizes what unnecessary means is that you can’t cry! Damn, people are going to drop like flies. Amazingly Nobuaki who is always looking like he is going to cry from all the trauma manages to hold back his tears. He gets a call from Yousuke getting a major clue. He has found news clips where this game originated, Yonaki Village. He wants him to head there but Nobuaki has given up. But Yousuke can’t do it too. His time is up. Yup, he cried. He hopes Nobuaki will take care of his girlfriend, Kaori Maruoka. Yousuke manages to send important data to him before his body gets torn apart. Later, Nobuaki gets knocked out by someone. He wakes up in a storeroom and is confronted by Kaori who is mad as his lies. She tried to call Yousuke but he didn’t pick up. So when Nobuaki called her and assured everything was alright (technically at that point he wasn’t lying), she believes he is the King. Nobuaki argues how much Yousuke is doing to help this game and his feelings for her, blah, blah, blah. She frees him but soon collapses. Which girl wouldn’t get emotional after hearing words from her boyfriend even though it is from a third party?

Episode 6
Naoya is worried about Nobuaki when he gets a call from Toshiyuki Abe and Keita Yamashita about the next King’s order. It seems there are 10 of them left and one of them must roll the die. The number correspondences to how many of them will die. The name via the roller’s choice. Oh, the roller will also have to die. If nobody rolls or gets named, everyone dies. Ria then calls for everyone to meet. At this point, one of them is unable to come because she is in hospital after attempting to kill herself. It becomes a heated discussion between Toshiyuki and Chia Kawano because they hate each other and hope the other will be called. Toshiyuki then tries to convince Toshiyuki Fujioka to roll the die and save him because everyone will name him first. Nobuaki stops him in time and since this disappoints the bully and reveals his true colours, he takes Chiemi hostage. Everyone do as he says or he’ll kill her. He shows how crazy he is and stabs her thigh. He wants either Nobuaki or Naoya to give the order. Nobuaki is willing to do it but Naoya usurps him and rolls. Well, all be damned. A 6 is rolled. The maximum number! Naoya accidentally names Keita and his head decapitated! With pressure from Toshiyuki the bully, he names the other girls (including the one in the hospital). Toshiyuki then punches the bully and tells Naoya to name both of them. After that, Naoya’s limbs start to rip itself off! Cue for emotional farewell. Ria then moves to take down the King before midnight. As she was also researching the game, she was able to get closer by adding Yousuke’s data. Yonaki Village was the first that recorded mass deaths. A group of scientists deduced some sort of virus is responsible for this. Something about the effects of hypnosis and how powerful suggestions could cause reactions and deaths. Since it wasn’t eliminated, the virus went on the spread itself over the internet. Wait a minute. An organism virus became a digital virus? WTF?! Ria couldn’t complete the words left by the deceased so she created an anti-virus programme to eradicate it. Yeah, genius hacker makes it look so easy. Then it is too good to be true because a message comes in saying Ria has violated the game and will be burnt to death! OMG! She’s on fire! Human torch, literally. But why is she still working normally and not in pain? Ah, ‘credit’ goes to her father’s daily torture. But of course she can no longer go on as she tells Nobuaki and Chiemi (the only survivors left) that this game gave her a purpose and it made her not want to die. However it is not that she wants to keep living. She just wanted to win this game. She leaves it to the duo to defeat the King. Duh. Who else is there left? Bye.

Episode 7
Nobuaki and co finally reach Yonaki Village. With Mizuki’s looming order, Kenta wonders who should be the ones named. Without hesitating, Nobuaki says Natsuko and Haruka Momoki. The latter because there was an order for her boobs to be touched but that person is already dead so she is as good as dead too. Kenta disagrees because to him all life is precious. In this abandoned village, there is a house formerly occupied by the Honda family. Nobuaki goes in to investigate and sees a picture of Chiemi and her father. Could it be her dad was a participant in this game? More baffling, father left an apology letter to her. Then there is another picture of a younger father carrying 2 babies. He thinks father killed himself for dragging Chiemi into the game. Nobuaki sees behind the picture the names of Chiemi and Natsuko. It makes him wonder if Natsuko is a survivor of the game. When Mizuki goes missing, Kenta goes to find her. A text from the King is received that 7 people are now dead due to disobedience. Just like that. When Mizuki is found, she wants to name Natsuko and herself. Therefore this is goodbye and wants Kenta to tell her she is pretty. It makes him awkward and it makes her sad. But in the heat of things, he hugs and kisses her. Then it gets twisted. Mizuki wants them to die together and make their love eternal! Kenta remains level headed that it is over once you’re dead. There is only love when you’re alive. Not happy, she tries to run away but Kenta knocks her out. Kenta then uses her handphone to type in the names but uses her finger to send. Technically that counts as her sending, right? When Nobuaki finds them, he is disheartened to learn Kenta will die. Because of the promise he made to protect Mizuki, if she dies, he dies. Looks like Kenta and Mizuki will also die for disobeying orders. Kenta struggles as he tries to reach Mizuki who has just woke up. They both reach out to each other but drop dead. Sad Nobuaki lines up their dead body together, commending Kenta as an amazing guy for putting his life on the line to protect others. He gave him hope. Nobuaki gets a call from himself. It is actually b*tch Natsuko on the line and she is mocking if Kenta and Mizuki are still alive.

Episode 8
Natsuko claims she has been waiting for the text that says Mizuki is dead. The moment she got it, she quickly f*cked Teruaki as per her King’s order. Wow. It must be a real quickie then. So when her obedience confirmed text was sent, it was to confuse everyone especially Kenta who misunderstood it. So poor boy tried desperately to save her but all in vain. At least they died together. She is going to target Nobuaki next. Teruaki needs to warn the others about Natsuko’s insanity but gets his handphone confiscated and a threatening warning. This b*tch is crazy! Nobuaki reads a journal of a participant of the game in Yonaki Village. It states that the single letters sent to handphones after a person dies is some sort of mutation that not even the King predicted. It is the key to end this game. Huh? He gets a call from Riona Matsumoto to meet. Because she has some information, she thinks she can be bossy over him? Anyway, she was researching the game too and found and article of something similar in another school. Natsuko came from this school. She also stumbled across Ria’s name. She has Nobuaki explain who she is as well as the letters sent to the dead. Riona breathes some good news because it looks like all the letters from the previous games are the same. Their meeting is cut short when Natsuko is here to gather all of them at the park for the next King’s game. A game to kill him. Nobuaki confirms with her that she was a previous participant and that she killed everyone including those precious to her to stay alive. He mentions Chiemi’s name as well as his relationship to her. The sisters could have been separated since young. Natsuko is shocked although she brushes off his dumb talk thinking he thought he could get away just because she is related to his late girlfriend. With 11 survivors left, this game involves breaking any number of your own fingers. Right fingers are +1 while left fingers are -1. You can assign those points to others too. At the end, those with negative points will die! Of course there is an option to pass and nobody has to lose. Going in accordance to the seat numbers, after half of them have passed, it is Teruaki’s turn. But first he talks to Nobuaki and cuts his hair?! Why does it feel like a bad omen when he starts talking about his hair stylist dreams? After Nobuaki’s hair is trimmed and nice, Teruaki breaks a right finger! He has colluded with everyone to get back their handphones and of course Natsuko. He takes a rock to smash all his left fingers!

Episode 9
Unless Natsuko gives back their handphone, he will send all the negative points to her. But even after she does so, Teruaki sends 4 negative points to her, 1 negative point to Aimi and 1 positive point to Nobuaki. This means she and the rest after her have to break their fingers for her if she wants to be saved. Natsuko isn’t willing to break her own fingers and passes. The rest all pass and Aimi is the last one. Natsuko is begging desperately for her to break her own fingers to save her. Aimi looks hesitant so Natsuko breaks it for her! Why isn’t anybody stopping her?! Apparently this was pre-planned. Aimi told Teruaki to give a negative point to her to see if Natsuko would save her. And looks like she didn’t. Natsuko explains in her own twisted fashion how everyone is so pushed to the brink that their mental states are weakened and can’t think straight. Then there’s some flashback how Natsuko became friends with meek Aimi and ‘saved’ her. Aimi is then ‘convinced’ so she dedicates her broken fingers to Natsuko. I mean, at this rate she’ll die and their goal is to avoid anyone dying, right? Having said that, Natsuko breaks Aimi’s thumb so that she could send it to herself and avoid death. Nobuaki asks Aimi’s meaning of friendship. Bond. Yeah, that’s one twisted bond she has. After getting their hands patched up, all of them converge again. Many would like Nobuaki to be the leader and lead them out of this but Natsuko disagrees as only such will get in their way. She wants to challenge Nobuaki before the next order. But Nobuaki laments she hasn’t changed. She snaps back about his half assed ideals when everyone well knows there can only be 1 survivor. So why did she let Aimi live then? To pay back the favour. She needs her for her survival. Looks like Aimi is so trance by her she agrees. Best friends forever, I guess. When midnight strikes, it sees a message comes in that Teruaki will die for disobeying orders. Because he forgot to lock his handphone, Natsuko blocked the King, which is like quitting the game. Teruaki’s neck starts bleeding. A few emotional talk with Nobuaki before his head finally falls off! Natsuko’s theory is that Teruaki might be thinking of dying since his hair stylist dream is as good as dead. The one who can’t take Teruaki’s death is Ryou Sugisawa who still pretends he is alive. Nobuaki notices everyone is breaking down and can’t tell from wrong or right. Their attachment to life is going numb.

Episode 10
The next order is to run to Nuegakubi by foot without the help of any transport. Every 8 hours, the furthest away will be punished. As usual, Natsuko dashes off first. Nobuaki notices Aimi staying behind. So she wants to get killed? He persuades her to tell her piece of mind to Natsuko. It got her running. Meanwhile at the other running pack, while running up the pedestrian bridge, Takuya Sakamoto purposely pushes Masatoshi Ooi down. With him unconscious, Takuya breaks alliance with the rest and goes on his own. The rest are in a dilemma to save Masatoshi but are forced to leave him behind. Nobuaki and Aimi catches up with Riona but since she is still tired and needs to rest, they go ahead and catch up with the group. Nobuaki leaves Aimi with them and after learning what happened to Masatoshi, wait, he’s not going back to save him? But he goes back to get Riona? Luckily Masatoshi somewhat catches up albeit still injured. Nobuaki hears his inner demon (in the form of Natsuko?) telling him to leave the duo behind. He is reminded by Masatoshi he is always caring about others and it makes him hypocritical. No use wasting energy arguing. Just get running. As dawn breaks, Riona is too tired and Masatoshi’s bruises are getting to him. They rest by the cliff but Masatoshi loses consciousness and falls into the sea. Against Riona’s wish, Nobuaki dives in to save him. I don’t think underwater CPR is going to work. Eventually Masatoshi drowns himself. Nobuaki’s morale is at the lowest but the ghost of Kenta, Mizuki and Teruaki force him to not give up. He makes his way to shore where Riona hugs him to transfer her body warmth and also to cry about how worried she was for being left alone. As they make a final dash to Nuegakubi, looks like time is up. Who is the furthest? Is that why Nobuaki pretended his shoelace was untied so that Riona could be ahead of him?

Episode 11
The one who is furthest away from Nuegakubi: Masatoshi. Phew? Riona slaps Nobuaki for pulling that stunt. So, thanks? As they keep running, looks like the next selection is up. Nobuaki suggests doing rock-scissors-paper to decide. Riona at first was against it but choice do they have? She loses. But Nobuaki will run behind her? Apparently he won so he gets to choose. WTF?! She kicks him in his balls! Worse than death! Not sure why she is talking about his next girlfriend who must be better than her? Anyway Nobuaki runs backwards. For a guy to be kicked in the nut like that, he can sure run. However it is Aimi who got punished. It seems she has started running backwards after realizing she needs to repay her thanks to Nobuaki for all the encouragement. Bye. As Nobuaki and Riona race to the goal, he tells her the ending of the previous game. One of them has to kill the other. Nobuaki can’t do it so Chiemi kills herself instead. Guess what reward did the winner have? A choice to either continue the game or get punished! Holy cow! You can’t just win this thing. Natsuko has reached the summit first but she isn’t going to sit there idly. First she changes the sign on the forked path and lures Takuya into a trap she made. Then she breaks his legs and leaves him to die! Next to arrive is Rina Minami. Natsuko tells her to take this route but she doesn’t believe her and goes the opposite. Thing is, Natsuko was telling the truth! Nobuaki and Riona has caught up with Ryou and Aya Matsuoka and try to play catch up. Lost Rina stumbles into Takuya who is pleading for help but she ignores him and lets him die. This is what it feels like when he abandoned Masatoshi, right? Eat your own medicine! Rina then stumbles into lost Yuuna Kobayashi. The latter slips down a cliff and is barely hanging in there. She pleads for Rina’s help. At first she does but decides to change her mind. She’s not going down with her. Bye. When Rina reaches the summit, Natsuko plays psychology with her that she killed many to reach here. Because Natsuko killed her entire class the last time, can Rina do that? Now Rina sees hallucinations of her zombie pals trying to get her. She carelessly runs away and falls off a cliff. Time is almost up as Nobuaki’s side nears the top. But standing before them is Natsuko.

Episode 12
Nobuaki rams Natsuko like a bull! Everyone arrives at the top safely. It seems those who are punished are those Natsuko left for dead. Ryou suddenly knocks out Nobuaki with a rock! It seems the next order is here. They are to cut off each other’s limbs and torso to make a human doll! Basically a group effort but also looks like everybody is still going to die. Ryou has lost it. In his desire to be strong, he is going ahead with this order. Natsuko throws him a chainsaw (where the f*ck did she get it?) and Ryou uses it to cut off his leg!!! Natsuko helps out. Too bad Ryou dies after that. Aya tries to strangle Natsuko but apparently she got sliced in the gut. I’m sure Natsuko would have gone for Nobuaki had he not woke up. He learns what is going on and then all of a sudden, why Natsuko is like being friendly with them? In the sense that Riona and Nobuaki show her the single text messages they have received from the dead. Natsuko also shows them the texts she has collected. She noticed this pattern from the last game. So they pool their texts together and it reads something like the game will not end if one of them survives! Holy cow. So either all of them dies to save humanity or else one of them will be enough as the carrier to spread this virus to others and the game will go on forever. Natsuko is back to her mad b*tch mode. She claims Nobuaki will sacrifice himself to save mankind but she will not. She will do what it takes to survive. She strangles him while explaining how she has been playing the villain all the while because you too would lose your sanity if you see your friends and loved ones die before you. So the reason she ‘hates’ him is because he gave false hope to others by trying to play the saviour? Well, she does have a point there but still.

Perhaps she was so into strangling him that she didn’t hear Riona take the chainsaw and gut her back. Dead. Finally. So we have Nobuaki and Riona having their final cheesy romance because they are so deep into it that before Riona could confess to him, Natsuko got back up and took the chainsaw to slice his throat! I CAN’T BELIEVE NOBODY HEARD THAT UNTIL THE FINAL MOMENTS!!! It’s just ridiculous. Yeah, you deserve to die. Oh, what’s this, Natsuko? Better kill the one you love than have them being killed by others? She won’t let Riona kill him? Oh, so it’s about a boy in the end, eh? Oh Riona, screaming and ordering him not to die won’t make him live. And that’s the end of it. Nobuaki wakes up in what it seems to be heaven. He sees all his dead friends there happily waiting for him. Yeah, now they can go to paradise together. Even Natsuko is there. Heh. Even b*tches like her can go to heaven. Poor lonely Riona. All alone. She drags Nobuaki to the beach where they lie down there ‘romantically’. It’s hard to make out with a corpse. No amount of begging could bring him back to life. So I guess in the end, she takes his body with him and drowns together. Oh sh*t!!! I guess that’s for the best. Hooray! Mankind is saved! Not quite… Because somewhere in Japan, some kid receives the first message from the King that they are about to play this game. Oh sh*t…

Survivor: Outwit, Outlast, Outplay & Out You Go
WTF???!!! TO BE CONTINUES!!! OH NO!!! I DON’T WANT THIS GAME TO CONTINUE!!!! LET IT END, FOR GOD’S SAKES!!! Oh dear. This series that started out interestingly soon became such a mess. My only respite is that finally everybody playing the game is dead. The current one and those in Nobuaki and Natsuko’s previous class. Even if it had just suddenly end there with Riona killing herself, I wouldn’t complain. Even if that final episode felt a bit cheesy and rushed (especially the final killings but the chainsaw that didn’t make sense because do you know how much strength you need to exert just to hold up one?). I wouldn’t mind. Because all the annoying people are dead. But they had to put a teaser of another potential game in the works. Holy sh*t. This better not get another sequel. I hope that’s just that. Or I fear that I might have been infected by this virus and compelled to watch it.

It is very unfortunate that despite the interesting premise, the overall flow and pacing of the story is largely very disappointing. I knew something was wrong and it started to get boring once Nobuaki started his flashback story of the previous game. Sure, we got one King’s game instead of just one. But the problem is in the pacing and how the story is being told. I believe the producers want to put more focus on the drama and the story rather than on the deaths. That is why you tend to notice how the dramatized drama is so dragged out that it becomes annoying that you wish for everyone to just die and end it. Also, sometimes you get a few or none who die and at other times they just kill off a bunch of them just to save time. It makes it feel like as though those characters are not important enough so let’s make them die in a big group death. Yeah, suddenly one big chunk of students just died like that. And we don’t even know, remember or care about their names. The counter at the end of how many has died and how many is left is mostly useless. Because it’s not like we care about everyone suddenly dying at one go, right? It’s like a dramatic effect tool so that some of us may go, “Oh no. There is only xx number of them left. How many are going to survive?!”. Well, if you had known what happened in the last episode. Sorry to disappoint you hopefuls…

One of the biggest gripe and confusing thing about this series is how the King’s game works. Not so much of who or where the orders come from or what they must do but rather how one gets punished. You see, in the initial stages of the game, some orders or so ambiguous that it feels as though they want to do some mass killings to kill off a big group to save time. So if you’re the kind who understands things slowly, just too bad for you. Out you go. The most mind boggling one is Kenta and Mizuki’s death. I thought all those punished would die a horrific death. But how come they get to die so peacefully?! I don’t understand. I think they are the only ones who get to die with their whole body intact, notwithstanding some sort of injury to their bodies whatsoever.

The other big problem is the King’s game itself. You mean a virus is causing all of this to happen? If you say biological virus, then I would be more inclined to believe even though the plausibility is still low. But a digital virus? Come on. This is just crap. Is this some sort of hint to say that if you are addicted to your handphone 24/7, you can get infected by such viruses? Possibly. With everyone being such a zombie these days. It is as though they are trying to warn and scare us not to be addicted to our Smartphones. I think this series tried to emulate that hypnosis thingy from Danganronpa 3 when the people kill themselves. But then again, if an AI can do this to humans, is this another warning of how technology will grow smarter than us and make killer robots to wipe us out? Oh, who needs Terminator or Skynet when you can just annihilate mankind this way while enjoying and watching us like hapless rats fighting for survival. We are at the whim and mercy of artificial intelligence, so to speak. In the end, the King is just one big sadist because its true goal is not to have anyone survive in the end. The one who survives the longest is the biggest loser since he/she have to witness all the killings and deaths. If this game was created by an alien, this would be the most effective way to wipe out humans since naturally humans are just selfish creatures. It’s just going to take some time… But it’ll be fun watching them at that.

The other thing that doesn’t make sense is how the students are playing this game like as though they are the only humans in the country or world to play this game. I mean, what happened to the adults? Their parents where?! Do they not care about their kids and just let them do as they wish? Especially that final arc where some had to run all the way to Nuegakubi. Oh, where is my son or daughter? Not around? Okay. No problem. WTF. Sure those survivors would have told their parents and the parents of the dead would have done something. If this King’s game origination is a digital virus, where are the world’s famous hackers to stop this game?! I believe getting help from outside parties is not stated as one of the general rules (unless it is pertaining to playing the game) so why don’t they seek help from others? Oh Nobuaki, you keep thinking you can save everybody but you never thought of asking help from others to help save them. You trying to be the tragic hero?

At first I didn’t want to watch this series because I saw the horror tag in it. You know me. I’m still a chicken and horror averse person so I would prefer to stay away from horror anime titles (unless it is Jigoku Shoujo because of a certain seiyuu…) but changed my mind after thinking that this could be more of a survival type. Well, certainly nobody is technically wrong. However the horror stuffs are merely reduced to when the limbs suddenly get cut off or contorted till they rip apart and the head suddenly gets decapitated. That’s about all. Although it is scary but not that scary enough because of the poor animation quality. Yup. Sometimes I though they looked a bit funny… Plus, most of those decapitated parts are censored out by those ‘black hole’ censors so there isn’t much to see.

The next big problem comes from the characters themselves. I thought I wanted to call this series the Crying Shame Game. Because that is what many of the characters will do when somebody dies. The biggest offender is Nobuaki. He is the biggest cry-baby ever. Thanks to the series trying to ramp up the drama and the feels, you get many of such weird scenes of Nobuaki shedding his tears and screaming in agony he has failed to save another life. Again. Damn this guy is going to turn into some traumatic psychopath if he lives through this. I know there is only so much a person can take when he sees his friends die before his eyes again and again so frequently but it feels like routine. Somebody going to die. Nobuaki desperately tries to save them. Tears. Crying. Oops. Too late. Dying. Tears. Crying. Last words? Okay. Now die. Scream. Tears. Crying. There’s some anger in between too. There. The cycle of the melancholy of Nobuaki Kanazawa. So much so it gets so annoying that I started looking at this as a running joke.

The more interesting character is Natsuko. She is also the ultimate b*tch character whom you will love to hate. She is the physical antagonist of this series because we don’t really know nor can we see the mastermind behind the King’s game. Natsuko’s self-preservation and selfishness is a very good food for thought of what humans like her would do just to stay alive. I am not sure if I myself would resort to that kind of sneaky ways just to stay alive at the expense of others. Will I turn to my dark side and instincts for survival or will I stay a pussy and pay the price with my life? Not sure. Only in such a true test that my true self will reveal. I hope it will never come. Hence Natsuko is able to survive this long because of how she manipulates and steps over everyone else who is in this case either too dumb, weak or gullible. Too bad karma took a vacation and just desserts were sold out for Natsuko’s case until it is too late. The final episode did hint that she was just playing the villain in order to keep her sanity. Yeah, she played it for too damn long and at this point nobody would have thought of her as that. So it all boils down to one cheesy romance affair because she loves him, Riona loves him and now they can all be joined together in the afterlife. Wow. What a ‘happy ending’! What a cheesy romance, including the one with Kenta and Mizuki. Sheesh. Till death do them part, eh?

I don’t even understand why the connection was made between Chiemi and Natsuko. I mean, it could have been done without. It serves no more than a distraction and it becomes a red herring towards the end of the series. So what fi Chiemi and Natsuko are sisters and they come from the same village? You might think Natsuko is playing this game then to get her revenge on Nobuaki but then again it doesn’t make sense because she too didn’t know about her sister as they were separated. So this connection is one of those WTF things that would leave you scratching your head wondering why they put it in here in the first place.

As for the other characters, like I have said, they don’t really matter. Those who died so early in the game don’t even matter anymore and they’re just there for the body count. I guess for these early deaths, it is a blessing because they don’t have to put up with all the emotional torture. And for those side characters who somewhat do, it is usually a death flag and indication that their time is probably up so they do something final before they go. And more crying from Nobuaki. Sheesh… When they die, you don’t care for them anymore. Amazingly in the final stretch of the game, it was Natsuko trying to kill off everybody. Heck, she should have done that right after her true colours were revealed. Just go to the shop and buy a machine gun and gun them all down! Oh, can you get guns in Japan freely especially for an underage? Or just get a sword and cut everyone down! Natsuko is one who can do it. Perhaps it will be too risky if there are too many as in the beginning as everyone will team up and bring her down. Better to do it when the size is smaller and they are all separated. Plus at the end stage of the game, everyone is losing their sanity because of how close it gets to the theme of there can only be one. So you bet everyone is getting selfish and jittery.

I don’t want to go into too deep in the voice acting department because of all the dramatization of the characters screaming, crying and being angry. I suppose that is expected when you play a game of life and death. The list is a long one seeing in a class you have like over 30 people and since we also have Nobuaki’s previous class, that’s double the amount. But I’ll just note Mamoru Miyano as Nobuaki. It has been a while since I heard this guy (though in smaller cameo roles, this my first as him in a leading role) but his boyish voice makes it suitable and at the same time for Nobuaki whenever he starts wailing. Is it me or now I’m starting to think that his natural voice sounds like as though he is going to cry. The other one to note is Yui Horie as Natsuko. After a year’s hiatus and returning with a few small cameo roles in the previous season, looks like she is back helming a main character. She still hasn’t lost her touch and is versatile going from a sweet girl to a devilish crazy woman.

I have a dilemma wondering if the hard rock opening and ending themes sound suitable for this survival horror series. Feed The Fire by Coldrain and Lost Paradise by Pile may give you that adrenaline rush with their hard rock style of rocking but it would have been fitting had the series been of the action type. People being killed off via decapitation or amputation and the over-dramatization of the series don’t make it sound like it should have some hard rock music. I don’t know. Maybe it’s like the trauma of seeing these people die in such a manner that you might resort to take drugs and start hallucinating to fight off the horrific trauma. And what better way to complement all that with such hard rock music. Just kidding. But what if everyone as we have seen playing this game and getting killed is because they are all high on drugs?! No way!!!

Overall, this is a very disappointing series that fails in so many aspects that it is bad enough that it is good. And funny. At least I felt that way. The characters and the pacing of the story messed things up. After a while you won’t even want to care for the characters and even root for the King to just kill everyone off. Thank you very much even if the King didn’t actually directly kill everyone. Because everyone is just so annoying and weepy that a whole load of Kleenex won’t be enough to wipe away those tears. And you thought a tear jerking movie was bad enough with the tissues. Or porn for guys ;p. If you want to watch survival series, it is best to go for Danganronpa and even the old school Gantz. Compared to this mediocrity, even Mirai Nikki, Umineko No Naku Koro Ni and Btooom look better. If there was a King’s game among all such survivor series, this one would be end up in runners up or third place. Because there is nothing more frustrating than slogging all the way only to go out and lose one step before ultimate victory. Better to go out early if you’re not going to win, right? Ironically, a fate worse than death itself.

Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi No Togi

January 12, 2018

What, what WHAAAAAAAAT????!!!! OMG!!! I thought it all ended?! But here it is, the fourth season, Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi No Togi! I never knew it would happen since it has been 8 years since the third season last aired! Why now?! What is this nostalgia they’re playing at?! Hell, what do I care? As long as I get to hear Mamiko Noto again I’m more than happy to watch this horror series, the only horror series that I will ever approve myself of watching. But hmm… There is a catch. In its synopsis it is already stated there will be 6 new episodes and 6 ‘reminiscent’ episodes. Oh no… RERUN!!! Ippen shinde miru ka?!

Episode 1
Shizuka Mayama is constantly being bullied by her classmates. At least on the social messaging service, everyone calls her names. Especially a gasball since she is chubby. She thought of calling Enma Ai. She wants to send a few to hell but is told only one at a time. The harassment continues and Mayama would definitely have played into their hands if she responded but Yukawa ‘saved’ her by distracting the teacher’s attention. Yukawa hangs out with her and they both become friends. After lecturing her about continue to get involved by listening to the nasty harassment, she invites Mayama to join a social messaging she created only for loners. The only other person is Yokota. Mayama seems a lot happier messaging in this group. She even gives suggestions how others should die. Enma Ai and her team continue to watch over her when a strange girl pops up before Enma Ai asking her if she is sure about doing this before disappearing. One day, Mayama sees her classmates acting strange. There is a laptop on her desk that reveals the loners’ conversations. Thinking Yukawa couldn’t be the one, Mayama heads over to the next class to find Yokota. She isn’t sure what she is talking about and laughs. Then she finds Yukawa also badmouthing her in the other conversation. With anger building up, Mayama contacts Enma Ai. She is now given a straw doll. Then she goes to confront Yukawa. She reveals that she was the one who started this harassment because she found her annoying (like always apologizing for no reason, etc). But she didn’t think it would turn out this bad and would die out. She felt bad and became her friend. Mayama is not convinced since she still posted bad things about her. Yukawa denies it was her. Maybe it was Yokota. But Mayama says she met her and that’s how she knew Yukawa and Yokota are the same person. She pulls the string. Yukawa suffers a handphone nightmare with an app deleting all her innards before being sent to hell. As Enma Ai rows her to hell, the strange girl views all this is wrong. Enma Ai doesn’t care. This is work and has nothing to do with it. Mayama becomes badass in the aftermath, not caring about anybody. It is revealed that there is another person with the same Yokota name in that same class. A boy.

Episode 2
Enma Ai gives Haru a straw doll. But she gives it back as she cannot do it. Hone interviews a famous comedian, Nanako. Her comedy partner is Haru. She looks like the dumb and clumsy type and is always doing Nanako’s bidding. However behind the face of the public, the roles are reversed. Haru is the brains and Nanako is her obedient subordinate. Sounds more like an avid fan girl who is grateful for picking her up. The strange girl continues to bug Enma Ai. When Wanyuudou asks about her, all Enma Ai says is that she has forgotten her own identity. Ren becomes their manager as he continues to observe them. One night as Haru is racking her brains for new materials, Nanako mentions she saw her former partner in audience. He might have quit show business but seeing how Haru has become famous, maybe he wants her back. Wow. Yandere look… The next time she sees him, she wants to report a stalker. After all, he once abused her and all. Haru is crept out seeing how clingy Nanako is and slaps her. She accuses her of sleeping with the producer to get her first gig. Later Nanako goes to see what new materials she had come out with: None. Haru goes to see her former partner to complain how weird Nanako has become. He finds it odd that she was the one who picked her up and now she doesn’t want her. Flashback shows how Haru saw Nanako in a lame act on stage. For some reason she asked her out for a drink and a weird partnership formed between them. Haru was able to do it because of Nanako but now she feels she is a baggage. She realizes she has become like him in abusing her. Haru goes home and starts anew, discussing new materials with Nanako. After doing another successful show, at the backstage, Haru pops the message they should break up since she is at her limit. But Nanako views this as her being abandoned since she wants to get back with her old partner. Haru assures he has nothing to do with it and also doesn’t blame her. But what’s this? Nanako has a straw doll in her hand?! Nanako believes she won’t be happy even if she quits comedy and that’s why she doesn’t want to live anymore. Haru realizes Nanako has always understood her. Of course. She is her partner. Nanako pulls the string and promises she’ll be there soon. Haru will be waiting too.

Episode 3
Each of the grownups in the Nagata family have some sort of disturbing personality problem. So it is hard for the young kids, Akira and Arina to live in such a sick family. It’s literally hell. One night, Akira sees his mom pulling the string on the straw doll and the next day, grandma is gone. Akira talks to Arina about this so they decide to do something. They call the adults their parents who have an affair with as well as their eldest sister’s bully victim. They want them to help send them to hell. Once they’re gone, the siblings will inherit the assets in which they will distribute to them. However they throw caution that the penalty outweighs the benefit because they themselves will go to hell. Besides, they know they are afraid of going to hell themselves and therefore requesting them to do it on their behalf. It’s a no go. One day, eldest sister brings back home their cousin to live with them. She has an affair with him and he too has a nasty personality. When the parents try to tell him to go home, he becomes violent and beats them up. So he is hurting them for hurting him by not being sensitive to his feelings? Crazy. Akira is okay with the abuse he puts up with him but he line is drawn when he tries to rape Arina. After the parents left home with their ‘respective reasons’, the cousin gets even more violent with the kids. After tying up Akira, he goes to rape Arina. That was the last straw. I mean, he got a straw doll. He is going to send the cousin to hell. At the same time, the bully victim also has one and plans to send eldest sister to hell. They discuss how they have found the resolve to do this because as long as those demons are alive, somebody will suffer. They are going to sacrifice themselves for their sakes. Besides, knowing they will go to hell, they won’t be afraid what kind of person they’ll meet after this. They pull the string. In the aftermath, Akira and bully victim team up to murder the latter’s tormenters. Hey, it isn’t murder if their body isn’t found, right? Akira’s parents never return home and Arina continues to be a vegetable. Sad…

Episode 4
At a retirement home, Sakura is being lamely scared by a fellow senile old woman, Tamie. I’m sure she’s just fooling around as it looks funny than scary. Unfortunately the abusive workers beat her up and bring her back to her bed where she is tied up. Sakura tries to save her but is also abused. Thus Sakura seeks Enma Ai. She has lots of people she wants to send to hell but since she can only send one, that person is Saeko Yanohara who is the facility’s director who covers up the abuses and profits from it. Working in this facility is Tsugumi. She is one of the few kind workers but has no power to stand up to authority. Wanyuudou also disguises himself to investigate and he and Sakura clicked since the latter thinks he looks like her former school teacher, her first crush. Oh, the flame is still burning strong in these old people? I mean, Wanyuudou seriously takes a liking for her? He talks to her why she never reported this to her family members. She doesn’t want to worry her family as she does not worry about them. She asks him about hell and if it is right to curse someone at the end of one’s life. One day, Wanyuudou sees her collapsed on the floor and her hands dirtied. She wanted to watch the sakura trees bloom. So he brings her there. One day when Saeko brings the reporters to show them how good her facility is, Wanyuudou is shocked that Sakura has lost her memory. Tsugumi attends her and it seems she still remembers. She hints to the old guy that Sakura has forgotten whom she wants to send to hell and it is better this way. Another facility staff tries to expose the cruelty of this facility in front of the reporters. That is when Tamie happily says Sakura keeps a diary of all the abuse. That night, Saeko and the workers storm into Sakura’s room, abuse her to look for the diary. They only find the straw doll as she tosses it out. Wanyuudou realizes Sakura buried the diary near the sakura tree that day before losing her memories. Tamie comes in trying to save her but gets abused too. Wanyuudou put back the straw doll and this time Sakura is able to reach it and pull the string. In the aftermath, Sakura looks calmer now that she is in the hands of Tsugumi.

Episode 5
The strange girl slowly remembers herself as Michiru. There is a joint funeral of 3 families whose sons died. When another family comes to pay their respects, they are shooed away and they blame them for their son, Satoshi is the only one who survived the tragedy. Flashback shows the family are transporting their sons on a trip. Not only they bullied Satoshi but they disregard safety advice from his parents. Then an accident happened. Those with seatbelts on are still alright. Those without are flung out and it’s a horrible mess. Michiru feels sorry for Satoshi as she could relate to him. She lives in the feudal era and her father helped bring electricity to the other tenants. The landlord is not happy about this. So his son and his friends try to lure and push Michiru into a pond but they drowned instead. She is the only one who survived but her family gets accused for killing the boys. The villagers even turn their backs on them. Therefore Michiru thinks it is wrong for innocent Satoshi to be sent to hell since one of the boys’ mother has written down his name. Enma Ai tells her she’ll have her answer once she remembers everything. Continuing the flashback, as Michiru’s family has been ostracized, she goes around to find food. However she is lured and trapped in the landlord’s shed where they left her to die. Michiru uses her last ounce of strength to climb to the top window to place a wind chime. Her parents searched for her for days but couldn’t find her. Then they hear strange wind chime sounds and follow it to the shed. They break down the door and see her. At this time, the landlord and villagers are going to burn down the place. Father tries to reason with them that they will be charged for murder but nobody’s listening. Yeah, if the police can’t find any evidence… The shed is burnt down and father instantly died after taking a blow to the head when he tried to fight back. Michiru believes she has remembered her memories and her decision still doesn’t change. She is pleading to Enma Ai to stop the mother to send Satoru to hell. However the mom throws away the straw doll. Enma Ai explains when your situation changes, your allies change too. What is right or wrong is no more than a person’s feelings. There is more that Michiru hasn’t remember fully yet. When her mom died trying to protect her from the flames, Michiru let out a curse. The flames then burnt everyone down and eventually the entire town. She has committed an unforgivable sin and must atone for it by becoming Jigoku Shoujo! That is her answer.

Episode 6
Michiru refuses to become Jigoku Shoujo and she believes Enma Ai has been persistent in trying to turn her into one. She denies and says it is this spider from hell who wishes it. She doesn’t believe and leaves but the rest knows no matter how much she escapes, she’ll come back here. Tetsuya and Yui are dating and soon he pops the question. Happy story, right? However Yui has been visiting JT every midnight but never goes through with it. Yui then takes Tetsuya to see her father in hospital. He is in coma and on life support. She reveals the truth. Her father once ran a food delivery service. One night 5 years ago he was assaulted and left for dead. Although the culprit was caught and sentenced to only 3 years. Yui noticed Tetsuya who was supposed to be the culprit’s colleague not satisfied and left. Yui then worked in his company to find him and learn the real truth. The only clue was he had a mark on his chest. Of course it was hard and she was about to give up and by accident she spotted it on him. Tetsuya reveals on that night, there were 5 of them. A couple were drunk and when they accidentally bumped into Yui’s father, they got violent and beat him to a pulp. The rest were too scared to stop. The ringleader is Kogure who is now the president of the company. Suzumura is his accomplice but he is no longer around. He died in an accident shortly after that incident. Michiru has been spying on this case so Enma Ai notes it is for her to decide. Yui is going to enter Kogure’s name in JT but Tetsuya stops her. He doesn’t want her to go to hell. He knows about it because he was the one who sent Suzumura to hell. Shortly after that incident, Suzumura raped his sister who worked in the company. She was threatened not to tell and Tetsuya only knew about it after she hanged herself and left a note. Tetsuya contacted Jigoku Shoujo and immediately pulled the string. Tetsuya is going to set things straight. After quitting the company, he goes to the police station. However Yui contacts JT. Michiru is now Jigoku Shoujo???!!! She doesn’t hesitate to pull the string. We see Michiru in action. Is it me or does she look cute than scary? Yui is satisfied it is over as she unplugs father’s life support. She is shortly arrested. Tetsuya is disheartened to learn what happened. All she can say is that she is going to hell with Kogure while her father goes to heaven. Now Satoshi sees Michiru and wants to send himself to hell, thinking he would be trouble around his parents. Of course that isn’t possible so Michiru tells him how sad his parents will be without him around. It might be impossible now but do it for his parents’ sake. Please smile too so that one day they can meet in heaven. Kikuri is mad because Yamawaro has ‘dumped’ her to be Michiru’s assistant. After all the constant abuse? I can see why.

Episode 7
Mamoru Hanagasa is a talented baseball player. Lots of girls admire him. Lots of his comrades admire him. Away from the prying eyes, Hanagasa beats up fatty Shinichi Muroi and frames Daisuke Iwashita that they were fooling around by the river and accidentally pushed him over. So when Iwashita sends Muroi home, he has to pretend and go with Hanagasa’s story. That was the last Iwashita saw of Muroi. He never come to school and a few days later, the school announces he has sadly passed away. At his funeral, everyone blames Iwashita as the culprit. Even his own father punches him for it. Hanagasa also pays his respect but he is a good actor shedding crocodile tears. It gets worse when the detectives want to question him because autopsy reveals Muroi had ruptured organs. Iwashita panics and runs away. Later that night he contacts Jigoku Shoujo and is given a straw doll. Next day he confronts Hanagasa to take responsibility. However he won’t and even ‘thanks’ them. Due to this, he doesn’t need to play in the tournament and it would save his shoulder. He did plan this all on purpose. Iwashita cannot accept this anymore and pulls the string. And so we see Iwashita’s baseball torment as well as his judgment from the Jigoku Shoujo team. He remains arrogant till the end and does not own up to his responsibility before being sent to hell. Hanagasa has disappeared and others are talking how a witness came forth to reveal he beat up Muroi with a baseball bat. Iwashita moves away to his aunt’s place and notes it will take time for him to settle down.

Episode 8
Namiko Todaka is the wife of the local branch manager and beware those who crosses her path. The unfortunate for Keiko Yasuda as she has been harassed and living in fear. Even her daughter, Haruka is not spared from the harassment by Todaka’s daughter and her friends although to a lesser degree. The harassment even reaches her husband who for some reason gets accused for no reason by the branch manager. One day the harassment got too much as Todaka sent a guy to harass her at home. When Haruka comes home, she sees her mom unconscious and gas building up in the closed area. She starts to have a grudge on that woman and contacts Jigoku Shoujo. However Enma Ai warns her she cannot save her mom and only provide revenge. After understanding the T&C, Enma Ai shows her what happened. One day they were walking home, her mom saw Todaka making out with a man from her window. Todaka spotted her and became enraged. Soon, she framed her mom by hiring guys to make it look like she had a fling with them. If she exposes this, she will implicate Haruka too. Haruka witnesses her dad beating mom up and not believing what she says. Haruka cannot take this anymore. Her family is ruined so she pulls the string for Todaka to face hell. In the aftermath, her mom smiles more often and it is rumoured Todaka ran off with another man. Her daughter becomes the talk of town and is ashamed of what her mom did. Almost a target for bullies. Haruka notes her life might have become better for now but knows she’ll have to pay a price once she dies.

Episode 9
Akane Sawai locks herself in her room despite her teacher, Yoshiki Fukasawa keeps knocking on her door to talk to her. Ignoring his pleas, she only contacts with an online friend known only as Cheppo. With Fukasawa being persistent, Cheppo suggests she try contacting JT. Of course Sawai is in a dilemma to pull the string. We see Fukasawa constantly doing this is because the vice principal has been pressuring him. Truancy is bad for reputation. One night, Sawai is surprised he visits. So she finally explains about the hell that is society. You have to put up with something even if you don’t want to do it. When she can tell he has been pressured because of his reputation, he blows his top and yells back to not speak like she knows everything. He realizes his outburst and apologizes. He then admits all that and leaves. This makes Sawai even more confused. She doesn’t know what to do. She seeks Cheppo’s help but she too is unsure. Next day, everyone is in shock that Sawai turns up to class. Later Fukasawa talks to her in the teacher’s room but had to leave for a while to attend something. Sawai then contacts Cheppo but notices Fukasawa’s handphone ringing. To her horror, Fukasawa is Cheppo! She demands an explanation so he takes her to an abandoned house where he admits he is Cheppo but unaware Sawai is the person whom he is corresponding with. He explains he never knew why kids skipped school until he became a teacher. After she lets him know she entered his name on JT, he wants her to send him to hell. He is tired of it all and wants to be at peace. Really?! Hell is peace? Sawai is unsure at first but as she observes, Fukasawa continues to teach but the students never paid him attention and he often gets lectured by the vice principal. She finally pulls the string. Fukasawa is glad to see Enma Ai who then shows him the consequences of what he has done to Sawai. I guess he didn’t know she is going to hell too as he sees her crying and murmuring how she will join him there. Too late to regret now. He’ll forever be in regret.

Episode 10
Wanyuudou hitchhikes with a truck driver on a coastal road as he reminisces his past on this path. But the truck driver asks him if he has heard of JT. Because at the end of this road there is a stubborn old man living alone in a house. He refused to move out despite being given compensation and it is believed he is being greedy. Because of that, the road has to be built around it and this has caused accidents and death. The truck driver’s younger brother died in an accident here. Even after that, the old man refused to move out. The truck driver entered his name in JT but Jigoku Shoujo never came. He is going to avenge his brother by himself. Meanwhile Hone stays at the old man’s house as a wandering traveller. She learns all his family is dead and he is the last one left. He tells her he was born in this house, lived all his life here and wants to die here. People think he is greedy but even if they relocate him, do they expect him to live in a new environment with strangers? The old man starts coughing. The truck driver is going to ram into the house but that is when Enma Ai appears before him to hand him a straw doll. He wanted to pull it but he was a second too late. The old man has died. He doesn’t believe it and still wants to crash his truck. Till he tries to avoid Kikuri and had not Wanyuudou stop it, he would have died in the same place as his brother did. Soon the truck driver sees the old man’s peaceful body. There is a letter addressed to him in which he leaves all his property and compensation of his brother’s death to him. The house then ‘dies’ along with the owner and collapses.

Episode 11
Akira Kitakami keeps staring at Mitsuko who is manning the electrical shop. It’s not that he likes her or anything. Maybe he does. But the thing is, her husband Seiji is very abusive. He thinks she is trying to seduce that kid and always tortures her. Worse, Akira secretly spies on this torture. Even when Mitsuko is slow in answering the phone, he tortures her. Akira contacts JT but is still unsure if he should pull the string so he talks to Yuzuki for help. He is confused why Mitsuko doesn’t run away and keeps staying by his side and take in all the abuse. Maybe this is a form of love? Ultimately Yuzuki tells him to not get involved. One day he visits the store again and this time he is serious in wanting her to run away from that creep. He will help her if needed. She is reluctant since he will always hunt her down. Too late. Hubby’s back. He gets even violent in beating her up. Pipsqueak can’t even take him down. Trapped beneath the rack and Mitsuko continues to suffer, his only way out is to pull the string. It’s over. Next day, he comes to see her again. The store is still in a mess but Mitsuko is missing ever since.

Episode 12
Kaede Inao is believed to have a fox spirit named Gon that does as she wishes. So when a classmate sends in a curse request and it becomes true, Inao who was once a loner and ostracized is now ‘famous’ and getting all the attention she wants. With friends requesting curses, she does them and it all turns out well and as per wanted. Of course the Jigoku Shoujo team know there is no such spirit and all that has happened are merely coincidence. One day a classmate wants her to kill a stalker and nothing happened to the stalker, Inao becomes more and more desperate and her classmate is starting to get impatient and threatens to expose her as a fake. Inao went to great lengths and performing ridiculous rituals just to get this stalker killed but in the end he still breathes. Now even more desperate, she contacts Enma Ai and pulls the string even before she could finish reading the terms of the contract. With this case ‘solved’, the classmate is so glad the stalker has disappeared. Oh, she lied about the stalker and just didn’t like his face. Now she introduces a friend who has a request of someone killed…

To Hell With Everything!
WTF???!!! Is this how it ‘ends’???!!! I’m sure many viewers and long-time fans would be cursing the producers for deceiving them about this season. Yeah, rerun half the season with old episodes and call it a new season. I have this bad feeling so many people are contacting Jigoku Shoujo to send them to hell. Furthermore, the way it just suddenly ‘ends’ without further explaining about that Michiru’s case rubs further insult on wounds. More on that later.

After a long absence, watching the same old formula of vengeful people sending others to hell still feels interesting and intriguing. Yes, it worked on my nostalgia side too. The new stories are nothing new or original, at least not that it brings in any fresh ideas because it is still people with twisted vengeance and motives sending the ones they hate or ‘love’ to hell. They also try to put this mysterious Michiru girl in the mix. At first it sounds interesting because you’ll be guessing who this girl is and what her connection is to Enma Ai. And when her past and all is revealed, she is supposed to become the next Jigoku Shoujo? Or at least another colleague? Erm, didn’t they try that in the third season whereby Yuzuki was supposed to be the next Jigoku Shoujo but that didn’t happen and hence Enma Ai continued to helm that role?

But it was most mind boggling, confusing and disappointing to see how Michiru’s story ‘ends’. Because she has been against Enma Ai’s ways and refused to become Jigoku Shoujo. And what do you know? Suddenly she becomes Jigoku Shoujo in the end! WTF?! How the hell did that happened? What exactly happened?! Did the master of hell brainwashed her into accepting her role? Well, the only good thing Michiru became one is how Yamawaro is now her subordinate and this should shut Kikuri up. Yeah, I love seeing that annoying brat getting tormented now that the object of her bully has gone over to the other side. That’s the best way to get back at someone who has been tormenting you ever since. They’ll only appreciate it when they find themselves no one and nothing to torment anymore. Come back!

The way the new episodes ‘ended’ just to pave way for the reminiscence episodes is one reason why I felt disappointed with this season generally. Not only did I not get enough explanation about Michiru’s end result (maybe it is just that, Michiru becomes Jigoku Shoujo. The end), the reminiscence episodes are just reruns of an entire episode from previous seasons. Damn copy and paste. Are they trying to hint something here using this method? Well, this isn’t the first time a series does this as Gintama did it in one of their seasons. A few other animes have also done this but that is more of a recap episode rather than entirely copy and paste. The only difference that prevents it from being 100% copy and paste is that at the start of each episode, we see a mix of paper cut-out and real life animation of the Jigoku Shoujo team in a bar reminiscing one of those old episodes. The only good part about this segment is how Kikuri gets owned and bullied, her plans backfired because of her brattiness. It’s like getting a taste of her own medicine. They should have just made this part longer and renamed it, Kikuri Gets Bullied. Anyway, watching the reruns in a way made me feel mixed. Because I couldn’t remember a damn thing! It was as though I have watched this for the first time! Serious! I didn’t actually recall any of these episodes. So I was going like, “Did I see this before?”. Only that truck driver episode I remember hints of it but still I forgot many parts of it.

Because I vaguely describe such episodes in a sentence in my previous blog, it didn’t help jog my memory. Yeah, I was even being lazy then. Therefore if they rerun the entire 3 seasons, I might as well have watched like as though it is new since I have already forgotten about them. So I believe this reminiscence episodes are like teasers for audiences new to anime so that they can go back a decade to watch the original seasons. I also feel that this fourth season is like the producers and writers ran out of ideas and thus they needed some reruns. This is also why the fourth season is the shortest among all the other seasons at it only has a single cour to it whereas all first 3 seasons were double cours. Heck, this fourth season had only half of an actual cour. More people being sent to hell, more back stories of the Jigoku Shoujo team to find out and the other third party who is trying to stop them. And this is why Michiru as the new character and latest addition to the Jigoku Shoujo team feels wasted and disappointed.

In a way, the reminiscence episodes aren’t so bad since it brings some nostalgia as we get to see the entire old process of how Enma Ai and her team fly into action. Right down from handing over the straw doll to the person who called her and saying the T&C, to that mysterious granny’s shadow who is always turning the spinning wheel and when the string is pulled we see again how Enma Ai puts on her kimono as well as Wanyuudou’s fiery face on the fiery wheel fly over the horizon to take the targeted person to hell. But still, it is overall bad for the series because if we wanted to watch reruns in HD, which is already available a long time ago, we would have gone watched them.

I tried to come up with conspiracy theories of why certain episodes were selected for the reminiscence arc. As much as I scratch my head about it, I can’t find a connection. Because some episodes show young Tsugumi and some show Yuzuki. It is truly copy and paste. So if you have not watched previous seasons and wonder who these girls are, you’re going to be very much confused. I thought the episodes were multiples of 3’s but one of them broke this combo. Damn. That was the closest I could find. Or maybe they just selected them at random. Just to screw with us. Even if we were told there are 6 new episodes and 6 reminiscent ones, we kept hoping one of them would be different and especially when it reached the final one, there would be something absolutely different. We were wrong. Why oh why do I even ponder about this kind of things?

Of course there are a few questions that I once asked in the previous instalments of this series and it made me ponder again but with no real answers in sight. For example, I remember asking what if the time isn’t exactly midnight, can you still contact Jigoku Shoujo? What I meant is that if you turn your PC clock back or forward, will you still be able to contact her? Because we always see people connecting to JT right on the dot. What if multiple people hand in their request at the same time? Assuming they are at the same location in a similar time zone. Because you know, there is only one Enma Ai who has to give the straw doll and explain the T&C. Now with Michiru joining the team, I guess it lightens the load. But you know, human grudges are so endless and it is unrealistic that there is only 1 request per night. And some who requested do not pull the string immediately but they wait for a few days. So what happens in between those days while the team is waiting? Besides, the Jigoku Shoujo team has only ‘limited staff’ and hence limited number of straw dolls Enma Ai can hand out. Imagine if there are 100 people who request a grudge that night. What do you mean that won’t happen? Imagine the aftermath of a football match in which a controversial goal was given and hence a controversial victory to the traditional rival. Yeah… There’ll be thousands who are going to hell tonight! They should have been addressing such questions rather than putting in those reruns.

Art and animation for the new episodes seem to be updated as they are sharp and vivid. There is a stark difference when you compare and watch to the reminiscence episodes. You can see how a decade changes stuffs like technology. Imagine just 10 years ago we were still using CRT monitors and television. 10 years ago we didn’t have Smartphones with apps and the latest were like those Motorola Razr flip phones. Heck there is even landline phones! Rarely see those today, right? And USB pendrives were like 8MB!!!! That’s so big at that time!!! Wow. Really nostalgic.

As for the voice acting, I still love Mamiko Noto all these years and this is probably one of the earliest anime series that I watched featuring her that made me fell in love in her voice in the first place. It’s really nostalgic. Her character might be saying the same lines over and over again and her other dialogues may not be varied but I never get tired of her voice. More Jigoku Shoujo anyone? More like, more Mamiko Noto for me!!!!!!!! Oops. Anyway, as for the opening theme, Noise by Mio Yamazaki feels odd. It is such a lively rock piece. I shouldn’t be surprised because previous seasons of the opening themes like Nightmare, Tsukihana and Sakasama No Chou has this lively feel to it. Like in all season, Mamiko Noto sings the ending themes. This season’s Irogami still has that creepy feel that makes it feel that it is a good thing she isn’t a full-fledged singer? Hey, I love her voice but not exactly when it comes to singing.

Overall, I still love the Jigoku Shoujo series and mainly it is because of Mamiko Noto. But if you’re talking specifically about this fourth season, I would say it is disappointing. It only seemed a bit better because of the nostalgia factor that hyped me up. Having reruns in already a short cour isn’t the good way to go and the new story itself as well as the new character isn’t satisfying enough. Maybe the hint is already in the series’ name itself. The series is already at its twilight. If this is its way of going out with a bang, it sure wasn’t it. In conclusion, it goes to show that people never change. The grudges will always be there. The vengeance will always be there. The money milking drive from nostalgia will always be there. The suckers will always be there. When are we ever going to learn? Curse you all! O pitiful shadow bound in darkness, bringing torment and pain to others. A soul drowned in sins. Want to try dying for once? No thanks. I’d rather keep my soul in case the next season comes around.

Gokukoku No Brynhildr

January 11, 2015

I guess it must be very hard to forget those memories. Especially the kind when you watch a friend of yours die during your younger days. It stays with you for the rest of your life. Regret. Remorse. Guilt. Trauma. Harem. Eh? What suddenly?! Gokukoku No Brynhildr at first may sound like a dark sci-fi horror genre but I guess the reason why I started watching this is because of the harem factor. This show might not be intended to be one but as far as there are girls flocking around a single guy due to circumstantial reasons rather than romantic reasons (like I would believe that), that is already a harem genre in my books. Never mind the dark conspiracy about aliens, the magical powers that the girls can use, the melting girls, the ultimate horrifying truth about what awaits humanity if a certain event is allowed to happen. All I’m here for is the harem! Yeah. I’m the worst, right? Hey wait a minute. Melting girls? That’s scary…

Episode 1
10 years ago Ryouta Murakami had a childhood friend he liked named Kuroneko. He made 2 mistakes that led to her death. First, they should have turned back when they were trying to cross the dangerous dam. Second, when he slipped, he pulled her along. Ever since he has been looking at the stars alone and longs to see her. His goal is to become a scientist in NASA to prove there are aliens as this was something Kuroneko never got to do. Because Kuroneko believed aliens existed and Ryouta didn’t. So she was going to show him the place. She brought him there but the accident happened. Miraculously Ryouta survived and was hospitalized. He thought Kuroneko was admitted to a different hospital but when he was discharged, he was told the truth she died. He was sad. Even sadder, he knew nothing much of her. He never knew her real name and had 3 moles near her armpit. WTF. And now back to the present. He gets this eerie surprise because here Kuroneko is, a new transfer student in his class! She calls herself Neko Kuroha. The first thing he did is to shout from the top of his voice that she is still alive. Neko asserts she doesn’t know him but he won’t take any of this crap and believes he can prove it! Show your moles under your armpit!!! WTF???!!! He got a slap and an infamous reputation… During pool lessons, one of the girls got her leg stuck below in the pump and is going to die. Neko predicted 2 students would die today. And then some sort of crater just cracks the ground and frees her. She lives. Ryouta goes back to his star gazing in his club’s observatory (he is the only member left as the rest have graduated). Surprisingly Neko is here. She tells him the prophecy that 2 students are to die today. The other is him. To prevent this, he must board the last bus home he usually takes.

Ryouta is further suspicious of Neko because she doesn’t know her simple multiplication tables well. Well, she’s good at making puns at the questions he throws… How the heck did she get into school anyway? Maybe she sucks at maths but she can beat him in physical strength. Ryouta instantly loses to her in arm wrestling. Then he fondles her arms and checks her biceps and couldn’t believe how he could lose to those squishy arms! Neko gets a call from her friend, Kana Tachibana that the prediction has change. So Ryouta has permission to miss the bus. Actually, don’t even go outside and stay here. Like he is going to believe that. Neko leaves and believes she has saved 2 lives today. She remembers there was this accident and the truck she was in overturned. Akane told her to take some package and run because she is the only one who can save this world from ruin. Neko receives another call from Kana. Another changed prediction? Yeah. Because stubborn Ryouta although he missed the bus, he continues to walk home in the rain. This is what happens when you don’t listen. Suddenly there is an avalanche! Not only he is caught and stuck in it, there is a boulder going to crush him! What a way to die. Suddenly here comes Neko with her super powers to split the boulder in half. At least he still has life. They realize the changed prediction. Had Ryouta got on the bus, it would have put it right in the path of the avalanche because Ryouta’s boarding delayed its journey. If that happened, everyone on the bus would have died too. So now you believe her? But as for what she is, she is a magician and hopes he would keep this a secret. The source of her power comes from a harness embedded behind her neck. While she is showing it to him, he didn’t see the moles under her armpit and concludes she isn’t Kuroneko.

Episode 2
Ryouta still has nightmares over Kuroneko’s death. Next day in class, Neko is absent. He is tasked to bring her the guidebook for the upcoming summer trip since her address is close to the observatory. Along the way he sees military trucks passing by. Ryouta thinks something amiss when the address turns out to be a viewing platform. But he realizes an abandoned village below (it was flooded but reconstruction was put on hold). She may be down there. True enough he finds her but catches her singing an embarrassing song. She declines the guidebook as she views her job is done. She only transferred in because she was curious to see what school is like (she spent 10 years in a lab!). She wants him to stay out of this because if the lab people find him, they’ll kill him too. Ryouta swore he could hear a person crying for help inside the house. He wants to help but Neko unleashes some warning craters and tells him to go away. Sure, he did. Then he changes his mind and comes back. He hears Neko talking to Kana that they don’t have very long to live. When Neko goes to get some water, Ryouta is shocked to see Kana in a vegetative state. She’s alive and not moving. Just like a doll. Neko returns and no use hiding it. She explains Kana obtained a very great power in an experiment. She can predict the future but as a result she became paralyzed. Only her left hand is movable and is used to type into some device that converts words into voice (how convenient). Sometimes the device becomes cranky. Kana mentions that the lab guys got Kanade. It’s too late for her. They don’t even know where the lab is. Kana suggests Neko to enjoy her final days.

Therefore she returns to school the next day and wants to go for the summer trip. Neko is in a pinch since the teacher calls her to read. She can’t even read! Ryouta saves her by taking her to the infirmary, citing she is not well. Kana calls again and mentions an old woman in red is going to be run over soon. Ryouta and Neko make haste and almost collided with a woman on a bicycle at the school gates. They run as fast as they can and when they reach there, the accident has already happened. However they heard no one died. That bicycle woman was supposed to be the victim. Because they bumped into her, that delayed her and threw off the timing. Yeah, now she’s taking photos of the accident with her handphone. Meanwhile the lab guys are interrogating Kanade. They won’t listen to her plea to spare Maki as she has witnessed her magic. Kanade doesn’t know where the rest ran to because they scattered in different directions after the accident. She pleads she will be a good girl and won’t runaway again but the heartless bastards press her harness and she melts away! Kana is throwing a tantrum she can’t have wild grass for food anymore! That’s how poor they are but thankfully here comes Ryouta the saviour as he bought cakes for them. But how is Kana going to eat? Neko puts it in a blender to turn them into liquid and pour it down her mouth… Gross… Ryouta can’t understand why he is being so nice either. Is it because Neko looks a lot like Kuroneko? Is this how much he still likes her? When he leaves, he is surprised to see Neko starting to bleed. She brushes it off it is nothing but the next day, she is absent.

Episode 3
She attends school the next day but is all covered in bandages! What happened?! A cold did this? Yeah, right. And just like playing musical chairs, she is absent the next day. When Ryouta goes to visit her, he sees her bleeding like hell. She tells him to take the pills from the drawer. As explained. They have to take them in 30 hours or their skin will start falling apart and blood pouring out from every hole. By 35 hours, their organs melt and they die. They’ll be fine and their wounds regenerate after taking it. They have only 10 pills left. Five days each the most. She wanted to go for the summer trip and was trying to stretch it. Ryouta, don’t you just feel guilty for asking her to come? While Ryouta is thinking of a way to get more pills, Neko’s carelessness in boiling water causes the house to be on fire. Ryouta carries Kana out but even more bad news: All the pills are burnt. The last time Kana took her pill was yesterday. Oh no. Here’s that little bleed as reminder… Kana doesn’t want her to be sad and tells her to kill her before that happens. Make it a painless and swift death. Ryouta has an idea. They can go to the factory making the pills and get more. How does he know it is Dresden Pharmaceuticals? He has a good memory and memorized the pill’s serial number. I suppose you can say his special ability is to remember everything he sees once. That’s why there are certain bad memories he want to forget, he can’t because he’ll always remember them. Taking refuge at the observatory, Ryouta searches online for the factory. There is the address but no mention of that sort of pill. The girls think Kazumi Schlierenzauer can help but this hacker girl will charge a hefty price. As she is like them, they can share some pills they plunder as payment. They call her and make a deal. She wants half of what they got and this upsets Ryouta. Kazumi realizes they got an outsider involved and warns he’ll be killed if caught. Kazumi agrees to do it and disabling the security will be easy. Kana suddenly gets a vision. She sees Neko dying and doesn’t want her to go. Their call has been tracked by the lab guys but since it is masked with proxies and such, they’ll need time to decipher it. In the mean time, they will unleash Saori to exterminate the deserters.

Kana saw Saori killing Neko. She is class AA-rank magician and wields 2 special abilities. Neko and the rest are B-rank. Ryouta thinks the pills have moved since they are sending Saori and suggests Kazumi to share some of hers. She tells him off she won’t. Kana is sure the pills are in that factory as they are confident they won’t survive and thus there is no need to move it. One of Saori’s abilities is that she can slash anything apart in 6 metre radius. But there is a way to disable her magic. The harness has 3 buttons. One of them hangs up the magician’s abilities. The other is an eject button that kills the magician outright. The third one is unknown but is believed to be something more terrifying than death. Kana is still worried as the future has not changed. Neko asks if Ryouta will die. Probably he won’t. Neko is sure the plan will work. Kana tells Ryouta not to let Neko too much of her magic or she will get hung up too and lose something important. Kazumi wishes luck to them. It seems she herself is bleeding and has no more pills. At midnight, the duo sneak into the factory. The plan is for Neko to distract Saori while Ryouta sneaks up on her and press her harness. Prior to this, she left Ryouta with a letter. He realizes she plans on sacrificing herself and doesn’t want him to save her. Take the pills and leave. Of course Ryouta isn’t going to let this happen. And because of that, Kana sees a new vision. Ryouta is going to die too. Neko tries to buy some time but gets hung up and pounded. Ryouta closes in on Saori. Then he sees the all important moles on Neko. They’re on her breasts. This is the logic. When she grew up, the moles must have moved. Really? Did it move that far? I mean, it’s not like Neko had very voluptuous boobs either. Ryouta is so glad Kuroneko is alive and the reason she doesn’t remember him is because each time she uses her magic, she loses some of her memories. He doesn’t care if she doesn’t remember him. They just have to make more memories in the future. Probably he was taking his time shedding tears of joy because Saori cuts Kuroneko (who realized the idiot didn’t go ahead with her plan). The bloodied wall. I think this guy is going crazy knowing the fact he lost Kuroneko again.

Episode 4
Ryouta stabs Saori and wants her to turn back time. This is her other ability although it will only be for the last 1 minute. Saori kills him since he is in her radius but is in a dilemma whether to turn back time or not otherwise she will die. Eventually she does. It resets to where Ryouta just came into the scene and Neko is cornered. Saori now hangs up and the duo capture her. When she turns back time, only Saori has memories of what happened during that 1 minute so this means Ryouta couldn’t remember he saw Neko’s moles, though he feels he is forgetting something important. Saori knows her time is up since she failed so the rest tell her to escape with them. Not possible. There is a tracker in her harness and if she escapes, it will be ejected remotely. Saori isn’t going to give up and will kill them when she has the chance. However her harness gets ejected and she melts. Then there is this creepy little alien parasite crawling up to retrieve her harness. So freaky that Ryouta gets freaked out and steps on it. When they return, Kana is bleeding all over. Thankfully Kazumi is here. She only had 1 pill left and shared half with hers. Kana is baffled because she saw her vision of them dying. Ryouta deduces that they had indeed died but Saori turned back time. Ryouta allows them to stay here for the time being. He is so happy when Neko calls him by his name that he cried. WTF… Neko goes on the school trip and is happy she gets to see the ocean. She also excels in class as she learns fast. No more a dunce in maths. Ryouta advises her to register to join the astronomy club since she will be allowed to stay at the club. I mean, they’re going to watch the stars, right?

One the way back, Neko hands him a couple of things. A terminal and an alien embryo. The proof you need that aliens exist, right? Kazumi seems to be visiting the club often. As it was raining and they’re wet, Ryouta mentions there are hotsprings nearby. That smirk on Kazumi’s face… One careless note from Ryouta about wanting to see Neko’s boobs, and Kazumi is all over him. Trying to tempt him to see hers. He accidentally sees more than that and is now charged a boob fee. Worse, he accidentally got his hands over Neko’s boobs. He was so flustering and distracted that he forgot to check her moles. Kazumi will be also staying here as part of his repayment. She beats him up when he whispers her boobs weren’t probably worth that much. I didn’t know he could joke like that. She has another surprise in store for him tomorrow. You might have guessed it. She’s a new transfer student in his class and will join his club. I guess hacking the details is just child’s play for her. Meanwhile another witch sees one of the head scientists, Chisato Ichijiku. She is bleeding and pleading for a pill and will reveal the location of the other witches in exchange. But do you think this evil guy will keep his word? Empty promises. Poor girl… Ichijiku is then summoned by the council to answer about the danger of letting witches run free. 27 escaped during that transport. 8 were already captured and disposed while 5 were found dead from lack of pills. However they grill him over a bunch of pills stolen recently and what more an AA-rank failed to eliminate a single one of them. They remind him of his duties that go beyond just supervising the witches. He assures there is no delay in the updated plan and is underway. He has already sent an AA+ witch to deal with it instead of dispatching multiple witches together to decrease the chance of rebellion. Ryouta receives a surprise when another new transfer student, Kotori Takatori wants to join his club. Looks like a pretty nice girl. But… See that harness at the back of her neck? Yup.

Episode 5
Kazumi is prodding Kotori’s humungous boobs. Best of worst comeback by Ryouta: Those are the kind of boobs he’d pay boob fees for. Kazumi’s pack a punch enough for him to bleed. So Ryouta introduces Kotori to the other members and especially Kana who is a mascot because she doesn’t move, right? Ryouta suggests for everyone to come for a stargazing event tomorrow. I don’t know why but Kazumi rather flirts and teases him. He notices her dirty talk ever since and figures out she must be a virgin. He asks about them losing their memories. She isn’t sure. They lose random memories. The worst ones are losing the important ones. Neko has undergone so many experiments that she barely remembers her childhood or parents. At the stargazing site, Ryouta asks Kotori’s intention to join this club. She wants to meet aliens. When he spots her harness, Kana sees a vision that Neko is dead and Kotori smiling by her corpse. Ryouta confronts her but Kotori seems like an airhead. She is super surprised that he knows about magicians and couldn’t believe the other girls are magicians too. What a big coincidence! Playing dumb or what? So she’s not here to kill them? As proof, she shows her teleportation ability. But right after that she hangs up. The rest remains suspicious since she may hide a hidden ability. But since she can’t use her magic for now, it’s back to stargazing. Kana sees another vision but won’t tell. Not until they walk back that she tells Ryouta about the changed forecast. She saw him die instead by Kotori’s hands. Meanwhile Shino is taking refuge and trying to escape from an AA+ magician, Kikako in hot pursuit of her. She already has a couple of harness in her hand.

Next morning, Ryouta comes in early to find out more details of Kana’s visions. In both visions, they die at a lake at evening and since her predictions cannot deviate far, there is only a lake nearby. Whatever they do, they need to stay away from that lake. Kana doesn’t want him to tell Neko about his death as she will be worried and go save him. Not that Kana cares about him but if he dies, Neko will be sad and she doesn’t want that. Ryouta knows she is just not honest and it’s her way of caring for him. If she doesn’t, she wouldn’t have told him. When the other girls come in, they talk about Chie, Kotori’s friend. Seems she died recently and Kazumi thinks she stole her pills. Kotori won’t do that, right? Ryouta believes if Kotori’s mission is to kill them, there was no need for her to transfer here in the first place. Kazumi gets a call from Shino to save her. Where is she? At the lake. Neko will not hesitate to go save her. Not even Ryouta can stop her. Looks like he has to go after her. With Kazumi hacking the cameras to give them visual, they arrive but Kikako is already in sight. Kazumi warns them of her bombardment magic. Despite she only has 1 ability, this means she packs lots of power in her attack. Yeah, the half the boathouse got blasted away. Ryouta wonders if Neko is seriously going to fight her. She tells him that all B-rank magicians are weak and the lab is hunting them down. That’s why they have to help each other out. Everyone understands this even if they don’t admit it. Now you understand why Ryouta has his unofficial harem staying at his club? Shino tries to run away from Kikako’s blast but she couldn’t make it in time. I guess they were too late.

Episode 6
Now that Shino is dead, Neko will have no reason to face Kikako since she is not her target. However after seeing Kikako rip out Shino’s harness, she feels angry. Ryouta presses her harness and tells her to calm down. They must have forgotten about Kotori since she is still out there looking for Shino. The plan is for Ryouta to bring Kotori away while Neko distracts Kikako. Kazumi thought he sent her to her death but as Ryouta explains, Neko wants to try some diplomacy first. He has figured out Kikako’s magic flaw. It takes time for her to shoot her beams as well as recharge it so Neko is able to dodge. Then he’ll approach Kikako and press her harness. But during this, Kotori goes missing. She is tying herself to a post? Ryouta figures she will teleport with Neko and switch places (as seen in Kana’s vision). She doesn’t mind dying because her last day is tomorrow. Oh. There’s the bleeding from her mouth as cue. When Ryouta figures out something, Kana sees a change in prediction. Neko is pinned down by Kikako. She’s going to fire her beam point blank. Suddenly Kikako finds herself tied to the pole. It was just simple. Kotori just needs to switch places with Kikako. Ryouta interrogates her but she says nothing. Neko points out it is because she doesn’t know. They have to leave since the crowd is gathering. They can’t take Kikako since as a killer it will be hard for her to switch sides and just let her be. But now Kotori is missing. Ryouta and Neko know where to find her since she wrote her address in the club registration form. She is bleeding like hell and refuses to take pills from others. Oh, today is her birthday. Death day too? Sorry for the joke. Anyway she reveals Chie’s birthday is only a week after hers and Chie wanted her to live on by giving her pills. Of course Kotori won’t have that so Chie stopped taking her pills so that Kotori can live longer. As her birthday present, Chie had rigged something for her to attend school. Oh, one last thing. Happy birthday.

So Kotori promised she will keep smiling no matter how tough things are (that’s why she has this dumb smiling look on her face all the time). Ryouta won’t allow it and makes her take the pills. Because it will be bad if his club gets disbanded just when he got a new member. Also, I thought it would be sad to see his harem girl killed off. Haha! Oh, one more thing from Ryouta. Happy birthday. A week later, Kotori pays respects to Chie’s grave and starts crying because it’s just painful to hold it in. Oh, one more thing. Happy birthday, Chie. Ryouta notices the news reporting Kikako’s incident as some minor explosion. He thinks somebody must be pulling strings to cover up the events. Not to mention Kana’s prediction threw them off this time and made them suspect Kotori. He thought something happened to the girls when they are not in the observatory. Actually they’re all cooling themselves outside spraying water. And Ryouta saw them taking off their clothes… Sure he doesn’t need to pay some fee for that? He talks to them about this guy whom he believes can get more pills for them. His personality is questionable but he won’t betray them. So Ryouta goes to see Hashiratani Kogorou for help. This scientist hopes Ryouta has been popular… With boys. This guy turned down some offer by the Americans to come study at their lab and is happy with what he is doing in this university. Ryouta prefaces his request and warns he might be killed or get turned in and that Ryouta has seen a couple of people killed before his eyes. So why does Kogorou need to risk his life for him? As he doesn’t believe in magic or fairytales, Ryouta is going to prove it to him right now. He has brought a magician with him and wants him to name anything and he will tell Neko (sitting outside the lab) to blow it up. At first Kogorou doesn’t believe and thinks he pre-planted the bombs. But after blowing up a few personal stuffs, he is convinced this is worth risking his life for.

Episode 7
Ryouta wants Kogorou to make replicas of the pill. He can’t just make it like that, right? He needs information! Yeah… I guess Ryouta is going into flashback mode from his days of Kuroneko and how Neko saved him. Spare us the details, please… However Kogorou has some bad news. If they’re lucky, the fastest he can make is in 6 months. Otherwise it will take years. The girls only have 1 month of pills left so it is no surprise he is rushing for it. Kogorou thinks there is a way and something about pooling his resources to test whether it is viable to replicate. Another request Ryouta wants him to do is to take a look inside the alien embryo. Neko’s friends invite her to karaoke. Of course she has no confidence since she had never sing before. What about that song when Ryouta first heard her? It wasn’t too bad… She’s still embarrassed about it. She wants him to come with her but he can’t since everybody knows him and it’s not right to just go uninvited. At the karaoke joint, a guy tries to hit on her and he thought it is his lucky day since she touches his hand. However she notes her heart didn’t go racing. Rejected! Meanwhile Ryouta finishes tutoring somebody and leaves, leaving that girl jealous thinking that he is out on a date while she had to continue reviewing her work. Girls wanna have fun too… When Neko leaves, Ryouta just came in. He sounds like a tsundere saying he came here by himself and not for her. It’s not like he was worried about her or anything. Yeah, right. Even he thinks he is a stalker. When he gets back, he gets a call from Kogorou. The results are negative. He cannot make the pills in a month. Impossible.

Ryouta of course won’t give up because it means giving up on their lives. Because the observatory is so hot, the girls are in their bikini. Now I understand why he isn’t giving up on them :). Ryouta’s interest piques when Kotori mentions she heard about why the lab was built 100 years ago. Aliens were found then. So now you know why she believes in aliens? The council summons Ichijiku again as he updates them about the progress of killing witches is going steady. Kikako also met her fate and had observed number 1107. However the council views the recovery of Grani is utmost important. They believe Ichijiku will do the job since he is a great scientist and it won’t be long before their ambitions are realized. Ichijiku decides to use Nanami for this mission. Kotori describes the alien which is a blob of meat. That multi-eye amoeba wasn’t it. There is also rumour the lab houses the strongest witch of the strongest S-rank grade called Valkyria. Yeah. Enough to destroy mankind. Neko reflects on Akane’s words to save the world. The girls ask about the pills replication. It is killing Ryouta to tell them the bad news. They don’t sound disappointed since they weren’t putting up high hopes. Except for Kazumi. She is crying quietly. Because a computer part is broken, Ryouta agrees to accompany Kazumi to Akihabara to get its replacement. She’s like a country bumpkin saying out loud all the otakus around. Especially all those who are buying eroges must be virgins! Everyone turn their heads so it could mean… Kazumi is happy Ryouta agrees to take her to a maid café. But there is another reason why he wants to come here. He feared turning on the terminal would expose their location. Because Akihabara has lots of people with similar gadgets, he hopes it will lose them here. Upon turning it on, there is an unknown language and a map. Kazumi is not happy. She recognizes the language as German. It says to kill all witches immediately and then the truth will be told.

Episode 8
Ryouta believes it is the only lead for him to find more pills so he wants to go alone as he thinks if the girls go, they will be killed. What if it’s a trap? He’s willing to take the risk. Neko is very concerned. So much so she hints to him that she will be really sad if he dies. Don’t worry. He’s the hero. Ryouta goes home to try and find the location of the map. Here comes Kazumi to help. The greatest hacker knows where he lives. And all the porn sites he went… She manages to find the place that matches the map (he has good memory so he can remember it without turning on the terminal again). From now on, Ryouta will go there alone because he fears if their pursuers find the same type of magician there, they might notice her doing this research. We get distracted for a while when Kazumi takes off her panties and wants him to have sex with her!!! Since when did this show turn borderline hentai???!!! Ryouta you lucky bastard!!! She’s doing a lot of teasing that normal guys won’t tolerate and would have done her in. For Ryouta to tolerate all this is going to prove that he is just gay… He wants to tug in early since he has to wake up early tomorrow. But how can he sleep when a girl sleeps next to you. In her underwear. Hugging your body. Can he really wake up early? Miraculously he did. So here he is at this place. The church is decimated and the rubbles show that it is recently destroyed. He tried asking a nearby stall lady but she didn’t give much info. He returns to the site and sees some German lines on a broken wall. That’s when the police arrest him for trespassing and trying to resist arrest. Ryouta is in a dilemma. Should he break out? Who knows how long he’ll be imprisoned if gets turned in. Suddenly the police car is crushed. Neko in a mask? She shows off some of her super powers, destroying the bullets (I thought she was going to stop it like The Matrix) and destroying their gun. The captain thinks she is part of some terrorist as she has that ring (harness). When she hangs up, it’s time to run. But the police captain is going to take down Ryouta with his bare hands. Suddenly he switches place with Kotori (also in a mask?). He is now tied to a tree. See, her teleportation is useful.

Ryouta gets reprimanded by them for trying to go alone. Kana’s prediction saw him got killed. The police shot him when he tried to run away. Of course the girls won’t sit back and let this happen. The point is, they can help him out. So don’t leave them out in the cold and try to be a hero. Kogorou gets a call and is impressed that the alien embryo is getting some leads. Ichijiku’s assistant, Kurofuku shows him the report from the local police. He thinks number 1107 and 7620 have been spotted. Ichijiku approves the deployment of Nanami to look for them. Kana is scolding Kazumi for mentioning Valkyria. Kazumi gets cheeky and tries to violate her boobs. That’s when the rest came back and since Kazumi doesn’t want to risk Neko’s wrath, she pretends that they are good friends and even gives her pudding. That’s Kotori’s by the way. All that pudding will make her fat so it’s best to share? Anyway, Ryouta thinks the underlined German words may be the clue and password to the terminal. That’s a very big assumption. Of course he now needs to find a place that is safe for the girls so he can turn it on. Kurofuku sees the local police and it seems he is pestering them for details although the captain keeps telling him to read the report. It’s all there. Besides, they want an explanation about the supernatural thing they saw. Kurofuku brings in Nanami (in a strait jacket) and lets her look at her face. They seem so shocked… After they leave, it seems Nanami has the power to look into their memories and saw a boy and a girl with mask. Kurofuku lets her loose, reminding her about her mission to find number 1107. In a place where there are lots of people, she gets their attention by lifting up her skirt. All eyes are on her now. Time to look into theirs.

Episode 9
Nanami is able to scan their memories as long as she can see their eyes. Then she requests some ice cream citing her powers need lots of sugary stuffs. Sure she’s not making that up? The search and scan process continues. Each time she lifts her skirt to get attention and then Kurofuku had to buy her more treats. Since the small town is making no leads, they head to the city where she takes off her dress. Definitely will make heads turn but she’s not in her underwear. At least she has a skimpier dress underneath. This of course attracts a couple of punks who want to hit on her. However she erases their memory. Now they’re acting like a little kid! Better keep those sunglasses on. One of Ryouta’s classmates, Kikka passes by. Nanami is able to scan and see Ryouta. Nanami wants a day off but Kurofuku won’t have it. She reminds him she can also rewrite memories. Seems she has rewritten the memories of all the guys around. They think Kurofuku did something bad to them and they all gang up to beat him up. This in turn causes his sunglasses to break and Nanami scans his memories. She sees the hideous experiments and then rewrites his memories. Nanami then uses Kikka to bring Ryouta to him. When she realizes his harem’s location, his sharp observation makes him know what her power is. Because Kikka isn’t a person who likes magicians and by having her calling Nanami as a friend, it is proof she must have altered her memories. He tries to persuade her to join their side because he wants them to be friends. Will her one day reward of freedom satisfy her? Nanami doesn’t believe him since he is shielding his eyes. He takes a gamble but unfortunately Nanami lied and erased all his memories. Now he has no memories at all and is a newborn baby. After she leaves, Ryouta gets back up. He was just acting like one to convince her. He thinks her magic didn’t work due to his permanent memory. He goes back to report to the girls but why does he have to stumble them taking a bath? Now it’s not the time for fanservice! Then they decide what they are going to do. Fight her or flee?

Nanami vows to use this single day of freedom without using her magic. Can she? I mean she used her power to alter the hotel staff’s memory to make it seem she had paid her stay. Hungry and knowing she needs money, she heads to Kurofuku (he believes his duty is to observe some castle). She asks for 500 yen. So cheap! He will give her a thousand if she shows her boobs. Though embarrassed, she has seen worst things and shows it. She then sees a couple of friends fighting because one messed up a rare card. Nanami gives her money to him. Her conclusion: Her boobs saved a friendship! No money? Go back to Kurofuku for more. How much for showing her belly? He has already seen that… So for the first time she tastes all the good food (although she realizes it all costs a bomb). So good such life, she doesn’t want to go back to that lonely depressing lab. When Ryouta, Neko and Kotori find her, she is surprised that Ryouta still has his memories. Again they try to persuade her but she still doesn’t believe. Neko takes of her sunglasses to show she is sincere in saving her. But Nanami alters her memory to make Neko protect her so she unleashes her power on Ryouta. When Nanami looks into Ryouta’s eyes again, she sees them discussing that they truly want to save her and be friends. She restores Nanami’s memories (since she had them stored in hers) and feels touched. She really doesn’t want to go back to that lab. Kurofuku returns to his car. Neko hugs her and assures they will find a way to save her if they put their heads together. He reads his journal (detailing the activities and events before his memory alteration) and discovers something amazing.

Episode 10
Nanami is brought back to the observatory and since Kogorou is here, he hopes he can remove Nanami’s beacon so that those lab guys can’t remotely eject her. They can’t forcefully remove it as there is some censor that will send out some signal to the lab guys. You know what will happen then. Once done, she can live here with them (and add to the harem, f*ck yeah!). Kogorou has his doubts since he has not seen the structure before although he suggests the risky move of liquid nitrogen. Nanami is sure she won’t die either way. She believes a person won’t die as long as he/she is not forgotten. As she can alter memories, she is kept separated from other magicians and always wanted a friend. As long as they don’t forget her, she will be more alive even after she dies. Of course the rest won’t have it that way. They’ll be sad. They really want to be her friend. Just as Nanami feels touched, Kana sees a vision too late. Nanami starts melting! That Kurofuku guy must have remembered and pressed the eject button. Freaking sh*t! Nanami! NOOO!!! And here I thought there would be one more to the harem! Nanami melts away and she couldn’t be happier because she has friends. Suddenly the girls couldn’t bear to see this garbage and wants this cleaned up. They don’t remember who Nanami is. Ryouta realizes that she must have altered their memories in her dying moments. Why would she do that? Wasn’t she the one who wanted friends badly? Then he realizes. It is because it will make them sad when they remember. She was willing to sacrifice her dream for her friends. He starts crying. The girls confused. He might be going paranoid because he is seeing Nanami’s ghost! Actually she has written herself into part of his memories so you can say she still lives within him. Now he has knowledge about the lab and such.

The exams are coming up and morale is low because their pills will only last for more weeks. Kotori suggests that there would be some reward as motivation. How does going to the beach again sound? Kazumi’s dirty talk riles the girls. When she hints she has kissed Ryouta, you don’t know how many trees Neko uprooted. Actually at Akihabara, it was more of an indirect kiss. She ate from his spoon. Kazumi was happy that day but apparently to her disappointment he didn’t feel the same way. Now Ryouta has got to find Neko who has ran off somewhere. Not too far. The observation platform. She’s singing a weird song she is not bothered by it. Oh, she’s definitely bothered. She gets embarrassed to discover he heard her. All that yelling made her thirsty and she drinks from his bottle. Indirect kiss? Kazumi’s perverted intention didn’t stop there. If she ranks second overall in the exam, she wants to take his virginity!!! So what he’ll eventually lose it? Might as well lose it to her?! Thankfully his chastity is safe when Kazumi ranks third. Surprisingly Neko ranks tops and dethrones our man. So Neko wants his virginity too. Like she understands what that means. So everyone gets to go to the beach. Including Kotori because she failed. They have fun in the sun and wish this happiness would really last. Yeah. Enjoy every bit of it because… Ichijiku has an audience with the council and wants to use Valkyria to retrieve 1107. They view her too dangerous and refuse. He assures all the steps and several A-rank magicians to observe her and under control, etc. But they still won’t approve this. Too bad. He already let her out. He will take full responsibility but they note this is something he cannot atone even with his life. And here is Valkyria (hmm… She looks a lot like Neko) is out in the open and it feels so good to be back outside. Yeah. She just slaughtered everyone. Feels good alright.

Episode 11
The police are going to arrest Valkyria for murder but guess what? She uses her anti-matter and blows up the entire mountain!!! Holy sh*t!!! News of this reaches Ryouta and the girls and they know it is Valkyria. Hell is coming if they don’t do something now. Because she is an ultimate hybrid that can use 8 different types of magic! One of the magicians who was slaughtered by her, Hatsuna is still alive because her power is regeneration. She notices her beacon is dropped off and quietly runs away. While faking her death, she heard Valkyria could sense magicians in an observatory and thus the reason she makes her way there. To her horror, Ryouta and the girls are massacred! Covered in blood! Then it turns out to be a ruse. If Valkyria walks in and sees them dead from lack of pills, she will lose interest and leave. Ryouta had to play along since Valkyria would just kill everybody. Hatsuna tells them about her mission to assist Valkyria retrieve 1107 although she has no idea what that is and for now Valkyria has run off somewhere. The girls go to the hotspring to clean themselves up while Ryouta has the honour of cleaning this mess up. During the bath, Hatsuna learns the girls really trust Ryouta because he saved them. She is going to test him. On pretence she is stuck on a tower and too scared to climb down, she is surprised Ryouta actually came to get her down. Suddenly she slips. This is not part of the act. Ryouta grabs her with a hand and the other holding on to the pole. Why must such poles have loose screws? She wants him to drop him as she won’t die from a fall (although she is not immune to the ejection and lack of pills). However Ryouta doesn’t believe her. He thinks she is lying to let him save himself. So he is not letting her go. The plan is to swing her to a nearby platform and then use both hands to climb back up. The chances are slim but it is better than letting her go. Hatsuna is able to grab the platform but Ryouta falls. Thankfully Kotori switches place with him for a soft landing. Hatsuna returns and apologizes for doing something dangerous. She believes him now. He doesn’t mind since they’re both alive. Well, Hatsuna didn’t fall from that height, but she has sure fallen for him! She even asks him to go out with her and kisses him right in front of the girls! Hell, yeah! Another girl into his harem and Nanami’s replacement! The tower explodes and Neko runs away. The girls start chasing him and Hatsuna understands the social map now.

Ryouta sees Kogorou and the latter still remembers about Nanami as he stayed out of her vision. His research shows that the melting mechanism seems to be something like of a digestive enzyme called proteases. It is possible the pill inhibits that secretion. Based on a thesis of an ex-colleague, he is able to speed up the process of making the pill. The soonest is a month. But that’s not going to cut it since there is only a week of supply left for the 5 girls. In that case, he must choose. After Ryouta leaves, it seems Kogorou’s ex-colleague is Ichijiku and he wrote that thesis. He wonders where that genius is now. Speaking of which, he meets Mako Fujisaki or now known as Valkyria. He is not scared despite she threatens to kill him for vengeance for taking away her humanity. Then he slaps her! She starts crying and apologizing! She doesn’t want to be hated and loves him! Woah. I don’t really understand this dangerous girl. When Ryouta returns to the girls and tells them what happen, the girls soon realize that given that amount of time and remaining pills, only one of them can live. It is decided to draw straws and the losers will die tomorrow. Hatsuna wants to sit this out. But unknown to them all, she secretly has 20 over pills she stole from those dead magicians. She came here thinking they had more but apparently they’re as poor as her. Neko, Kotori and Kana also want to sit this out and agree for Kazumi to live on their behalf. WTF?! Trying to be heroes?! Kazumi doesn’t agree to this because it makes her sound desperate. She hates to lose her friends and wants to enjoy the last summer vacation with them. Because it’s meaningless without them. So as not to waste time, she calls for a party now. Clumsy Kotori spills drinks on Neko. She tries to clean it up but takes off her dress?! That’s when Ryouta sees her moles. That flashback again. He is so happy Kuroneko is alive that he starts crying so loud. No heart to tease that… Talking with her alone, he is glad that she is still alive after all these years. She might not remember anything but that’s okay. Ryouta remembers everything like it was yesterday. Even if she forgets, he’ll remember it all. So let’s make new memories and he’ll remember it for her. Suddenly a helicopter is heading straight for them. Then Valkyria pops up before them. Hi. Long time no see.

Episode 11.5 (OVA)
Taking place right after Hatsuna’s confession and kiss stealing scene, this of course leaves a bad taste in Kazumi’s mouth (although literally speaking she wasn’t the one who kissed him). She needs to get back at the usurper b*tch and her first step is to confront Ryouta to ask if he likes anybody. Sure, he does. That childhood friend named Kuroneko. What about now? It’s none of her business. Suddenly Kazumi slips down the grass and Ryouta the hero also comes tumbling down to save her. When she wakes up, she is in the observatory and seeing that she is fine, Hatsuna blatantly starts flirting with Ryouta right before everybody’s eyes. Yeah. She hints she can give something even better than kissing. Therefore Kazumi suggests making it clear now. Who is going to be Ryouta’s wife! Kazumi volunteers herself thinking nobody would say yes. Surprisingly Kotori wants to be his bride. One of her goal is to marry before she dies. Oh, Neko too wants a piece of this? She just wants to stay by his side. Technically that’s the same, right? Kana wants the girls to stop because she saw a horrifying vision of everyone dead. Kazumi brushes her off thinking she is just jealous that she has no chance of winning. And off the girls go to do their challenge. Ryouta’s feelings ignored… The first test is cooking and since Kotori is so skilled, Kazumi adds a rule that they must cook in a naked apron! Although this has Kotori and Neko sitting out, Kazumi has to face Hatsuna. In the end, what the heck is this abomination food?! Ryouta is going to die! He vomits both their dish and the duo are more concerned which one he prefers! NEITHER!!! Next is the hotspring endurance contest. Real tits! If you think about it, don’t you think Kana is going to win this one? All the able bodied girls pass out so Kana shouts for help. Ryouta comes in to do that but is labelled a pervert. So to save or not to save? Oh, free tits show…

Finally there is this massaging contest. Hatsuna goes first because the first one doing the massage will have the biggest advantage. Not wanting to lose to her, Kazumi orders Kotori to use her teleport trick on Hatsuna. Now she is tied up around a pillar. Kotori’s boobs suffocate Ryouta. Kazumi disqualifies her. When it is Neko’s turn, she applies too much pressure that I think she broke his bones!!! Disqualified! Kazumi comments she is not competent to be his wife. This causes Neko to be sad that she can’t be with him anymore. Then her powers go berserk and start destroying everything in the observatory. The premonition that Kana has been warning everyone about? When the telescope is about to crush Neko and Ryouta, Kazumi dives to the rescue and is pinned under it. OMG! Kazumi dead?! But she died with a smile?! Yeah. Probably she realized her feelings will never be requited. Guess what? Turns out this is all a big dream right after that slip and tumble. Guess what too? Ryouta and Kazumi’s lips are in contact! Does this kiss count? It serves as further motivation that Kazumi isn’t going to give up on him yet. But now they have to deal with yandere Neko who is furious thinking that Ryouta is now trying to kiss Kazumi. She’s really rocking the place, literally.

Episode 12
Valkyria is sad Neko doesn’t recognize her. But here comes Ichijiku. He wants 1107 who is no other than Kotori to come with him! Ryouta is not going to let him do that. When he sees Hatsuna behind, he instantly starts begging for his life. This is to let Hatsuna enough time to press Valkyria’s harness. However her harness is different! Eh? Where to press? She gets cut down. Don’t worry, she’ll revive. Ryouta argues about killing the girls. Ichijiku mentions about something dangerous hidden within them. But have you thought about their feelings when you kill them? Have you thought about an insect’s feelings when you squish it? Humans aren’t insects. All human lives are equally valuable. Ichijiku disagrees and views one’s life is most important. He won’t hear more of this and orders Valkyria to kill everyone. But she is reluctant because the deal was to spare Neko. He doesn’t care. Do it! Kotori restrains Valkyria so Neko goes into attack mode. When Valkyria attacks back, Ryouta saves Neko and takes the hit. Oh sh*t. Main guy is dead? He sees Nanami before his eyes. She programmed herself to appear when he is on the verge of death. She reveals that the lab guys fear 2 greatest magicians: Kotori and Neko. Neko is believed to have powers surpassing Valkyria. That is what the lab fears her and never used her unstable power. She will tell Ryouta how to release it. By pressing the top button of her harness, it will unleash her power but there is a 99.9% chance of failure she will melt and die. This is only chance to survive. He can’t do it knowing she will die and passes out. Valkyria is going to finish them off when suddenly her power is nullified. Enter a group of father, nun, Mormon cosplayers… Thanks to Ryouta’s terminal, they manage to track Ichijiku here and want him to hand over Kotori. However Ichijiku shoots one of them as distraction (short of killing him) and escapes with Valkyria and Kotori. The girls are crying over Ryouta’s death. There is no more reason to live! In some ways I agree with that. But Hatsuna knows a way to revive him. She can heal his wounds but at the expense of her life. She does so and although is struggling, she manages to heal it and eventually melts away. The others do CPR to revive him. He is sad Hatsuna sacrificed her life. Yeah… And I thought the harem would have been added by another.

Miki of this Hexenjagd reveals they are a resistance organization against the lab and their goal is also to kill all the witches. Because the longer they live, the Drasil (that hideous blob) in their harness grows. Eventually it will hatch and consume the witch and turn into a killing monster. They are not concerned with small fries like them and Kotori is the more worrying one. Kotori wakes up in Ichijiku’s lab. He calls her by her original name, Rena. Who? His sister. She was dying and he tried hard to save her by saving her mind and soul. He thought hard how to give her a second life. Then he met the council whose goal is to create humanity fit to rule this planet. There is a one in several thousand chance a Drasil incubated in a witch’s body will become a Grani, a key factor in creation of a new ideal life form. Life on this planet was created by extraterrestrial life and the aliens encoded a mechanism to reset the planet in humanity’s DNA. Kotori is the switch that initiates that destruction. So when the Grani in her hatches, all cells of living things will fuse and turn Earth into a lifeless rock. Miki further explains that they targeted to kill Kotori but accidentally attacked other transport vehicles containing other witches. The witches then scattered and Hexenjagd lost a member of theirs (Akane). Ryouta sees no reason to kill the girls as they will be just like Ichijiku. But they remember their priority is Kotori and they need to find her. Ryouta knows he will be in his lab and Kazumi can do the hacking trick. In exchange of telling them the location, they must bring them along. However Miki still insists in killing Kotori. Kazumi hacks her way and before she hung up, she discovers his location, near the lake where they fought Kikako. Everyone makes haste (Kana has to stay behind obviously) but it seems the Drasil is growing out of Hatsuna’s harness! Ichijiku is going to kill Kotori and believes Rena’s soul is inside that Grani. He will do what it takes to revive Rena, no matter how many lives it costs. She asks about Valkyria because she is fond of him. Ichijiku once saved her and she may feel indebted. However she is vital in his plan and does not feel anything for her. What are the chances Valkyria heard that? Yeah, and she can’t help but still love him. Suddenly a bright light bursts from Kotori’s harness. The light that governs life, Ain Soph Aur starts covering Earth. Too late?

Episode 13
Hexenjagd is reduced to praying to God. Yeah. Oh Lord, we’re comin’ home! It’s up to Ryouta and the girls. However they knock him out. For the best? Ichijiku mentions about the council’s plan to reset life on this planet and create to new breed. However he doesn’t care for all that and is just interested in using Grani to revive Rena. However Kotori will press her harness and sacrifice herself. Think she will not do it? She does and Ain Soph Aur recedes. When Neko and Kazumi enter the building, they see Ichijiku and Valkyria. They are told she melted and died in vain. Ichijiku isn’t interested in those failed subjects and orders Valkyria to dispose them. However she still wants to save Neko and Kazumi wonders why she is so obsessed with her. She’s her sister. I figure it was something along this line. Actually, I thought she was her clone. Anyway Valkyria blasts Kazumi. Ryouta isn’t going to sleep forever so he wakes up and with Nanami’s guidance, he makes his way in. Then he sees Kotori melting! Still in the midst of melting?! She is willing to sacrifice her life to let others live. Of course there is no meaning to the word harem if she’s dead! She wants him to stop her brother and relay a message to him. Please don’t cause anyone anymore sadness. Then she melts for good. Holy sh*t! What about the harem?! It’s not over yet because now to his horror, he finds Kazumi close to dead! No way! His harem cannot end this way! She tells him to go on. He is the only one who can save Neko. Even in death she can joke about dying a virgin. But she is happy to have spent time with them and glad to have fallen in love. Life’s not so bad after all. Just short of confessing to him. Valkyria is in a dilemma to kill Neko and follow Ichijiku’s orders. Ever since that incident, she dedicated her life to him. The experiment she was in failed and she was melting but Ichijiku came in, not caring whatever radiation that would affect him and saved her.

Ichijiku still wants Neko dead. If she won’t do it, he will. Before he can, here comes Ryouta with his flying kick! Yeah. He’ll never forgive him for messing with his harem. And don’t you dare take Neko away. He relays Kotori’s message and although surprised he knows about Rena (because her soul was inside Kotori’s) but he starts laughing. Because now he knows it has succeeded, all he needs to do is repeat the process as Rena’s brain is still preserved. Valkyria restrains Ryouta and Neko so Ryouta tries to make Valkyria realize Ichijiku is just using her. When Ichijiku confirms it without hesitation, Valkyria loves it! Masochist? Neko tries to press her harness but Valkyria won’t let her. But suddenly here comes Kana into the scene! How the f*ck can she move?! Okay, so she explains ever since Neko saved her life, she dedicated to using her forecasting power to protect her. In exchange, she lost her ability to move. But now she throws away that power, she is able to move. WTF?! Is this possible?! This gives enough time for Neko to press her harness and unleash some super protective barrier. It even restores her memories! She remembers everything as Kuroneko. I’m sure Ichijiku must me damn annoyed seeing this drama so save it for later. She faces off with her sister and her powers are much greater. Of course she weakens eventually and now Valkyria is no more nice big sister and is going to kill her for good. Suddenly she can’t use her powers. A Hexenjagd member nullifies it temporarily so that the rest could pump bullets into her. However Ichijiku uses his body to protect her! Surprised?! His body is riddled with holes! Ichijiku’s last words are that he hates humans because they act on sentiments instead of logic. Human hearts are foolish things. Well, it proves he is still a human.

With Ichijiku dead, Valkyria couldn’t care less what happens to the world. It can die for all she cares! No Ichijiku, no life. She’s going to destroy it with anti-matter! Neko can stop it by creating a micro black hole. But before that, there is enough time for Neko to kiss him! Enough time to thank him! Enough to time to confess she loves him! Why? Because it’s goodbye. Don’t forget about her. How could he? Neko goes to Valkyria and uses the black hole on her. I don’t think Valkyria minded failing and dying too. Neko falls back down but falls off the ledge. Ryouta grabs her and won’t let history repeat itself. Good news: She is saved. Bad news: Who are you? Oh God… As good as dead… The only girl left in his harem is… I don’t know if Ryouta is crying tears of joy or sadness. Or both. During all that action, Kogorou left a message on Ryouta’s phone that he had found something incredible in developing the drug. Bring everyone to see him. Too late. Everyone’s dead. In the closing scenes, we see Ryouta carrying on life as normal. He prays at the grave, Kogorou continues to investigate the alien embryo, the lab is still continuing with its experiments, the council guys are still around bidding their time and most important of all, Ryouta’s harem isn’t dead yet! Kazumi and Hatsuna are still alive! Kana back to her wheelchair and everyone goes stargazing.

Gokuraku Harem Koku No Brynhildr
WTF?! What the hell is this unsatisfying and rushed ending???!!! So much more at stake (and I’m not talking just about the harem) and suddenly it ends like this?! I can’t believe it. Can’t they extend it for another season? Really can’t believe this crappy ending. Hell, no. This is not happening. Yeah, blame me for putting a lot of expectations and hopes only for it to be crushed with such a disappointing end. Oh, and I supposed that showing us in the final clips that Ryouta’s harem is still alive is supposed to appease my anger and dissatisfaction? Well, only a tiny bit. Because Kotori is no longer around. Oh yeah. Harem. The word you’ll be spammed and hearing the most for the rest of the blog. H-A-R-E-M!

Because of the rushed final episode, it brings forth lots of questions like Kana’s ability to move. Can she forgo her power just like that? Okay, maybe that is what the third button on the harness is for. Is this really terrifying? Because if Kana knew about this would bring about her moving again, why doesn’t she do it sometimes? I mean, it’s not like she can receive predictions all the time, right? Is it you lose your memories for good? But as seen in Neko’s case, she got all her memories back and this proves that she didn’t lose them but was merely lying dormant somewhere in her brain. So now that she has no more memories, is this just temporary? Did Kana also lose her memories? Besides, who was the one who pressed Kana’s harness? Big hint to Hatsuna. That’s her shadow before Kana in that scene. It’s her that Kana was addressing to press it. And speaking about Hatsuna, how come she is still alive?! Wasn’t she supposed to be dead? Wasn’t something bursting out from her? Oh God… These questions… How could you do this to me? Otherwise, this series could have been surprisingly interesting and pleasant. Aside the harem part, that is. Of course harem is the best part and icing on the cake. But seriously, I would have enjoyed this show if not for this ending that sucked so badly. It takes the kick out of everything. The harem part can only save so much.

Just like many other shows, this one had potential. Every anime does. Personally I think the flow of the story, balancing with the harem parts and unravelling the mystery behind it all is done at a decent pace. It is quite interesting actually and it makes you want to know more. Usually sci-fi terms turn me off but surprisingly this one doesn’t have many or at least it doesn’t sound complicating (maybe because my mind is more focused on the harem). Heck, does Grani sound sci-fi? Even odder if you think about the storyline for this season is about Ryouta and the girls trying to survive but at the same time enjoy to the fullest of their lives. You can’t always live your life on full alert, can’t you? Gotta have some fun from time to time. Sometimes girls just wanna have fun. Life is so short for them that in terms of lifespan, they are like human version of insects. Though it boggles me why the lab wanted to get rid of them in the first place. Sure, failed experiments, no longer useful. Kill them all. So what is the harm of letting them live anyway? I mean, some monster will break out like Aliens, won’t it? That’s why they have the pills in the first place, no? To suppress it. What’s wrong with giving them that? All they want is to live. Let them lose and they’ll run wild with their powers or tell the authorities? Maybe. The girls I believe previously had normal lives before this experiment. How did they end up as experiments in the first place? Ah, I’ve got to stop asking such questions from now on.

Character wise, it depends. You either love them or hate them. Because like Ryouta as the main protagonist, he is also important in the harem factor. It was pretty cool that aside from being a smart guy, he has this photographic memory and that his brain cells are better than the best computer processing memory chips ever because he never forgets. Heck, I thought there was going to be some twist like he also came from some sort of experiment. Just my imagination. Just like any other nice guys, he must help the girls, put his life on the line, doesn’t like people sacrificing their lives for others even if it means either you save the girl or save the world and he’ll have it no other way because he wants both. Greedy. Yeah well, good thing he got his Charlie’s Angel girls doing some butt kicking too since he lacks any martial arts training. Then there is Neko who is acting cold and distant at first just because she’s being amnesiac. And then when she temporarily gets them back, it’s like she turned into a childhood friend who has always been in love with him ever since. Yeah. That says a lot. Because despite caring a lot for her fellow magicians, she can’t stand those who get too close to Ryouta and is very evident when she becomes short tempered. And Kazumi? Two sentences: Genius hacker. Noob seducer/lover.

Something about Kana really bugs me. Something that makes her feel unreal. You know how she types into a device to ‘speak’? The most mind boggling fact is not how fast she can type so much so it can match what she says (I guess it is a good thing she isn’t speaking English because you know how some words are pronounced differently so if she is typing so fast and saying it at the same time, you know how many words she will mispronounce? Thank God there is no auto correct), but rather the emotions and tones of her voice of the device. If it was just a device, shouldn’t it be some monotonous computer voice? I mean, it’s okay if they put a human female voice, that’s fine. But how the heck does she type in words to scream?! How should she type in to indicate the level of screaming she wants to make? How does she type in the level of emotions while she is speaking? Is there a special key for it? Because of that, Kana feels unreal and not by the fact she looks like some porcelain doll confined to her seat. It feels like there is some smaller person hiding inside her (or somewhere nearby) speaking via a microphone to convey her thoughts.

Something about Kotori has always been bugging me and I feel that she has something hidden and more sinister. Because the big clue is that nobody knows who she is. Notice the fact that all the magicians know each other? Heck, they know who this A-rank magician is. They know who that babe is trying to kill them is. Yeah. It’s like they know everybody in the lab. So when Kotori came into the picture and nobody (or at least most of them) knows anything about her, it feels something is odd. Something fishy. It keeps you wondering if that ditzy act of hers is just all an act and there would be a twist somewhere. And true enough, she might be a good girl, she still harbours the most dangerous thing ever. The saddest fact that she is no longer around. Her ditzy character makes her annoying because it is like as though she is just bumming around in the group and she lacks a lot of development compared to the rest. What about Kana you say? Well, she can’t move like as though she’s part of the furniture so I guess that’s forgivable XD. I was hoping that with the mysterious case of Hatsuna reviving (aside her power to resurrect), something would be done for Kotori too. Oh God. Can’t believe Kotori is gone.

Ichijiku plays well as an antagonist and he is a person whom you would really love to hate. At the same time he could be the coolest person considering the generic characteristics of Ryouta and his harem. Ichijiku is merciless, uncompromising and goes all out to get what he wants at any cost without taking into account others except his own. I suppose that is why it makes him a fearsome character not to be played with and probably this has gotten him as far as he is now. Something along the lines of ‘you have to be cruel to be kind’? Even though he has his own reasons and in that sense alone you want to sympathize with him, overall it still makes him a bad apple with his questionable ways because you know, he is like trying to play God or something. He is not afraid to admit things in your face and because so, sometimes he has one of the best quips in the series like when Ryouta won’t forgive him for messing with his girls. Fine. He doesn’t need his forgiveness. Because he killed many humans in his life too. Woah. Right in your face! So true. So brutally honest. So is it a sad or good thing that he eventually meets his fate? Well, I don’t know what’s going to happen to Rena now that he is no longer around. Her brain will rot away, I suppose. As for Valkyria, I thought it was pretty interesting for her to be the yandere type. Ah well, there goes the fun. Kogorou’s role feels under-utilized. Because most of his time is spent in trying to make the drug, you won’t hear most of him. And the biggest slap in the face is when he finally announced something big, only not to tell us what it is. What is it about the drug that he has discovered? Say something, please?! I don’t need such cliff-hangers!

Despite the plot and details revealing at a decent pace, I guess like I said the more interesting part to me is the harem. I know I need to talk about this eventually. Some people might find this a turn off for this kind of sci-fi genre and the reason why this series started great and then spiralled into disappointment at the end. But to me, it is more fun to see Ryouta and the girls engage in some cheap folly and interaction with each other rather than trying to find a clue for their next move to get more pills or take out the enemy. And we all know that the girls one way or another have a thing for Ryouta despite their pride will not admit it. Especially with Kazumi being a surprise because I didn’t expect her to ask for sex! Or does it indicate she is just being desperate? Teasing him is one thing but why do I get the feeling it is more than that? And with Neko’s explosions after seeing such flirting, that makes her jealous, right? Just too bad that Nanami and Hatsuna who are great potentials to be part of his magician harem, they have to die. Why couldn’t they make it more the merrier? The odd part is that the duo are somewhat included in the subsequent ending credits animation. I know Nanami is somewhat a ghost but Hatsuna? Hatsuna could have been a great front runner for Ryouta and giving Kazumi a run for her money. But sighs… If Ryouta had saved more girls in time, I guess it is safe to say they will be added to his harem. So it was a tad ‘sad’ that some of the minor ones had to die. Even sadder because Kotori… Kana may seem like the least she likes him but I believe she’s being tsundere. Her speeches about not caring for him, don’t care if he dies make it sound so tsundere-like.

What is a harem without some fanservice? There are a few scenes here but that of course feels like a small distraction to the main events. Just like the harem. A small distraction overall but something I look forward to ;p. In fact all of Ryouta’s harem girls have some sort of sex appeal. Kazumi being a pervert with her dirty talk (like it’s the norm for her), Kotori with her humongous boobs, Neko coming in next for her bust size but the moles on her boobs enhance her sexy effect (I don’t know, maybe some people do find it sexy) while Kana looks like a defenceless porcelain doll that it makes beasts lose the urge to restrain themselves (okay, maybe I’m just exaggerating but really, don’t you find girls who don’t move or talk much to be a turn on?). I don’t know if Nanami as a ghost girl would be some kind of a new harem trope.

Art and drawing seems pretty decent although there are some scenes that are dark. Be warned although that there are gore and blood aplenty in this anime. Though, they are censored out in the TV version, I am not sure if all that will be censored in the DVDs. The gruesomeness of the action makes it a little realistic because if you are fighting with all those super powers, there is bound to be a high amount of splattered blood and damage. And of course the spooky factor of the girls melting which I sometimes find it unpalatable as well as those creepy little blob monsters. It’s just scary even though they’re just 2D animation since I am quite averse to the horror genre. But other than this, the character designs and the backgrounds are decent and look pretty normal.

The voice acting seems rather okay. Nothing much to shout about except that perhaps the only notable one is Mamiko Noto as Valkyria. Yeah. Despite her late and limited appearance, I guess she still rocks. However I thought it was Tomokazu Sugita (Gintoki in Gintama) behind the voice of Ichijiku but it turned out to be Hiroki Touchi (Panther Lily in Fairy Tail). The other casts are Ryota Ohsaka as Ryouta (Haruto in Valvrave The Liberator), Risa Taneda as Neko/Kuroneko (Mirai in Kyoukai No Kanata), Aya Suzaki as Kana (Tamako in Tamako Market), Mao as Kazumi (Renge in Seikai Seifuku: Bouryaku No Zvezda), Azusa Tadokoro as Kotori (Fino in Yuushibu), Manami Numakura as Nanami (Riko in Love Lab), Yumi Uchiyama as Hatsuna (Nagi in A Channel), Rina Satou as Miki (Misaka in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun), Kentarou Ito as Kogorou (Renji in Bleach) and Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Kurofuku (Eishirou in Sora No Otoshimono).

The opening theme is unique. Why? Because it is entirely an instrumental piece! Entitled Brynhildr In The Darkness Version Ejected by Nao Tokisawa, it has this sci-fi, techno and dramatic feel to it (especially the strings and background voices enhancing the overall effect). It doesn’t feel bad actually and quite refreshing because 99.9% of all the anime opening themes are sung. Not many are instrumental (Trigun and Baccano are the only ones I could name). However I don’t know why they changed the opening after 2/3 of the series. Although it is another instrumental, Virtue And Vice by Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (oh, these names of bands these days…) resembles more like hard punk rock! There is this dissonance ‘interference’ sound that I dislike so much and to make things worse, there is some rocker guy screaming in the background of this cacophony techno rock beat. And worse still, it suddenly ends abruptly. The ending theme turns into a generic anime pop. Ichiban Hoshi by Ryouta’s main harem quartet (Neko, Kana, Kazumi and Kotori) sounds rather okay.

Overall, this anime is interesting in its own right. Dark but yet entertaining. Just beware about the rushed ending and to those who do not like the ‘dumb’ fanservice and harem elements, it will be even more distasteful. The concept about rewriting the world to a new one based on one’s ideals after eliminating existing life isn’t necessarily something original but it is still fascinating and given the chance if there should be a sequel, I’d definitely want to find out more (and more harem too). And it would be interesting just to think that if you don’t like a person anymore and had enough, all you could do is press a button at the back of the neck and watch him/her melt away. If only real humans have that kind of option. Dispose of your annoyance with a push of a button! On second thought, it is a good thing we don’t. Earth would have become one big giant melting pot. Yeesh! Not my kind of way to die!

Shin Sekai Yori

November 17, 2013

We dream that technology advances would spur human to greater heights and achieve the utopia that we always wanted. All the great inventions of the future would soon become the norm and everyday life. Well, if that works out fine. What happens if it doesn’t? Instead, humanity takes another step, no. make that hundreds more steps backwards. The world of the future is somewhat a dystopian place. A pitiful state. Bleak future. If not treaded carefully, it could bring the collapse and the end of civilization as we know it. Before I start going astray and scaring off people about the possible gloom doom about our planet, let me assure you that this was the picture I had in mind when I browsed through briefly over the synopsis of the anime Shin Sekai Yori (From The New World). Seems that instead of prospering like we dreamt we should, we went the other way. Depressing, isn’t it?

Based on the novel of the same name (which I never read of course), the story is set in the future, a millennium from now. People are able to use magic. Although it won’t be the flashy kind that we see in animes and comics. Our protagonists are a group of young teenager born and raised in a peaceful town that may seem like utopia. Didn’t I say it was dystopia earlier? Well, that’s what happens when you discover the truth. The bloody truth of how the world and humanity came to be. Still waters run deep. Sometimes the truth is better left unknown. And because what has been seen cannot be unseen, our group of friends soon get involved in a life threatening adventure. A fight for survival, a fight to protect their friends and a fight to save humanity from the brink of destruction. Where’s a superhero when you need one?

Episode 1
The episode opens with random scenes of kids using some kind of weird powers to do some bloody massacre. A millennium from now, Saki Watanabe undergoes a ritual in the Temple of Purity as her passage to adulthood. She is being taught by the old priest to throw away her worldly desires and make the flames tremble. Saki remembers one night the things in her room start levitating and her parents are overjoyed that this is a sign she has become an adult by receiving the Spirit of Blessing and will now graduate from Harmony School and attend Sage Academy. At the end of the ritual, Saki’s Cantus (magic) has been sealed. She becomes a new student at Sage Academy and her friends, Maria Akizuki, Satoru Asahina, Shun Aonuma, Mamoru Itou and Reiko Amano welcome the late bloomer. The friends are whole once more. They reminisce some of the events they did back in Harmony School but in Sage Academy they practice their abilities in addition to covering normal subjects. Saki didn’t like the next period called Fiends and Karma Demon but Maria assures her this is just the abridged version they learnt. I don’t want to dwell so much on this because it felt like a horror story!!! It still gives me the creeps. In short, this story tells about a boy who wandered outside the Holy Barrier and encountered a Fiend. He sacrificed his life so that the Fiend never found the village. The class practise their abilities as a group like drawing or stacking cards using their mental force. They aren’t doing well since Reiko seems to be the weakest in the team.

After school, the friends talk about rumours that people who never graduated from Harmony School disappeared. There is a door whereby the only time you can catch glimpse of what is inside it is when the teachers open it. Some say they saw graves inside. Another rumour has it that someone saw a giant cat shadow of a Copycat at school. They are always after students. This has Saki to remember her mom comforting her when she was taking too long to graduate from school. She worries that if she doesn’t graduate, the Copycat will come after her. Her mom laughs it off it doesn’t exist. Saki wasn’t convinced because she thought she saw one. Back home when Saki eats dinner with her parents, they talk to her about her first day at Sage Academy. They also tell her about their time at the academy. But Saki’s mind is more preoccupied with something else. One night, she heard her parents talking. Mother was worried about Saki and to a point she is about to break into hysteria that she doesn’t want to lose anymore of her children! She is very worried because Saki said she saw a Tainted Cat but father tries to calm her down thinking she might be just seeing things. Saki wonders what her mom meant when she said she was relieved that she got into Sage Academy. Father explains that they were worried when the spirits were taking too long. He also tells her to be appreciative of their little Cantus. Saki doesn’t seem convinced and leaves the table. A few days later, Reiko vanished from school.

Episode 2
This is another long story I don’t want to dwell on as it seems like something horror. About a bad boy who’s karma spiralled out of control and became some Karma Demon after losing all his humanity. A month after Reiko’s disappearance, it is time for Sage Academy’s team ball tournament. It looks weird but I’m not going to dwell into the finer details because I don’t really understand. A team is supposed to use their Cantus to shove a big ball into a hole in the opponent’s area while the opponent tries to prevent it via some clay dolls before time runs out. So Saki’s team made it into the finals and their opponents surprisingly weren’t the strong favourites because they lost to another team in some accident. The finals begin with Saki’s team doing a trickery by covering up the hole so it is not a violation of changing the battlefield outlay. They were moments away from winning when their opponent, especially Manabu Katayama smashes his clay doll into theirs. The judge-cum-teacher Endou announces the results to be a draw and considers this unfortunate event as an accident. The guys rue that Manabu had played dirty and the team had no qualms in breaking the rules. It was something similar that happened to the group they defeated in the semi-finals. Shortly, Manabu goes missing. Saki and her friends are walking home one day and see a couple of Monster Rats. Saki remembers father telling her they were brought in to help with the village’s construction. The children must never see them as Monster Rats obey humans with Cantus like Gods. Since children do not have them, there is not telling how they will react. Also, they might be secret rebelling. One of the Monster Rats falls into the river so Saki wants to help them despite knowing if the school finds out, they’ll be in trouble. Saki uses her Cantus to lift the drowning Monster Rat. Both are grateful to them (despite they’re speaking in a different language). From the writing on their foreheads, they note the Monster Rats are from Goat Moth colony. The friends agree to keep this incident a secret. Soon the friends go on a school summer camp. The missing case of Reiko and Manabu were soon forgotten. Saki narrates Maria was born 2 weeks after her. Her birth was premature and condition even worse than hers. Had she not been born, untold numbers would have been spared.

Episode 3
The friends row up the river and make a camp. They talk about the mysterious Balloon Dog and think it is some story to scare others (because its self defence mechanism has it to blow up like a balloon and explode. Sounds unrealistic, eh?). This leads them to talk about some evil Minoshiro. Nobody has ever seen it because those who do die. They want to investigate if such stories are true since they are out here. It is narrated that literature hardly mentions about Minoshiro since it is largely censored. It must have come into existence several centuries ago. This is not only true for Minoshiro but other species as well due to evolution. The next morning, the quintet row upstream. They leave their kayaks at the bay and make their way by foot up the mountains. Suddenly Minoshiro appears before them! What the heck is this shiny creature?! However Saki realizes she is the only one reacting while the rest were stunned like statues. It walks pass them and disappear. The friends note that when they saw its light, their mind went blank. Saki didn’t because perhaps she was wearing a sunglass. They want to catch it. But first they caught a pair of giant crab-like creatures. Suddenly it starts running into a cave. They bring out the Minoshiro! Its radiance stuns the friends as Saki uses her Cantus to pull apart those antennas and threaten to pull out more if it doesn’t stop using that light hypnosis. Minoshiro gives up and Saki’s friends return to their consciousness. They have lots of things to ask this walking library. So where are all the books? All stored and archived in 980 petabytes of holographic memory! That’s 15 zeroes, baby! The kids aren’t convinced and think it is using difficult words to confuse them. Saki threatens to tear apart the antennas so it says all records stored inside can be accessed any time. I’m sure they have lots to ask.

Episode 4
Guess what? They need to have some membership to gain access. And so it lists down all the crappy documents they need to join!!! How to solve this? The kids think of ripping off its skin and hack it! Suddenly Minoshiro waives all the requirements. Wow!!! This is one of the very confusing episodes because it explains. Yes. Lots of words and terms. What the heck is going on I still don’t know. From what I can tell, the kids about Karma Demon so Minoshiro says it is some sort of syndrome, blah, blah, blah. It adds that the emergence of the world’s population of psychokinesis (PK) users grew to 0.3% but they became so powerful that they become terrorists. As a result the world’s population took a steep dive. Human societies were split into 4 competing groups: 1) Slave empires ruled by PK; 2) Hunter-gatherer tribes without PK wishing to escape such threat; 3) Bandits using PK for crimes; and 4) Scientists seeking to preserve all ancient knowledge. The more Minoshiro continues with the dark tragic bloody history of mankind, the more the kids feel unstable, thinking it is making up lies to confuse them. To answer their question about the scientist’s society, realizing the dangerous potential of PK, they placed importance of education and research followed by psychological influences. Tests show it can be used to filter out children who violate rules. Since then, removal of children posing potential threat became a generally accepted solution (remember those missing kids?). Next, the research focused on bonobos, a society of primates. When anxiety rises, males and females will resort to sexual play to reduce such stress. But such tests show it wasn’t sufficient and an additional restraint on violence was needed. One was personal restraint and the other called death feedback. The latter uses their PK to stop organ functions to stop them from doing say, killing. Carrying on would kill the person outright.

As for the question if society was specifically made to prevent the appearance of Fiends and Karma Demons, Minoshiro suddenly burns in flames. The kids see a woman holding a baby in the flames. Those flames are the Cantus of a monk, Rijin. He claims they have violated some rules and wants them to follow him back to the temple. They want to know if what Minoshiro said was a lie but Rijin says nothing except their minds have been poisoned by a demon. He then seals their Cantus. On the journey down, they are attacked a Monster Rat. Noting they have no tattoo and are not from wild colonies, they are foreign Monster Rats who have invaded these lands. Rijin easily burns the Monster Rat’s bow and arrows before killing it. Continuing their trekking, the ground then shakes before an army of Monster Rats appear before them. Rijin uses his Cantus to slaughter them all. Rijin is clearly weakened after the massacre. The kids think it is death feedback because the Monster Rats look like humans from afar and it is taking effect. Suddenly a Balloon Dog emerges from the heap of corpses and charges towards them.

Episode 5
Rijin sacrifices himself to protect the kids when the Balloon Dog blows itself up. They see more Monster Rats beyond the forest. They want to run but Satoru says it will only give them an avenue to chase and attack. They don’t know they have their Cantus sealed yet. But when they try to escape, the Monster Rats start chasing them. They split into groups but Saki and Satoru are captured. The duo are placed in a cage. They display their sexual intimacy as explained by Minoshiro but Saki stops it. Needing to find a way to get out, the duo use their brains by making the guarding Monster Rat to eat some fake egg. Its stomach blows up. They make their escape till they fall into a chasm. Deep underground, they are greeted by a Monster Rat of the Robber Fly colony, Squealer. He can speak in human tongue and treats them like Gods. He takes them to see their queen. Though they are welcomed, Squealer’s carelessness causes the queen’s tent to burn and the ugly queen becomes enraged and tries to eat him! Only Saki’s intervention to forgive him saved his life. Later they learn that those foreign Monster Rats are from the Ground Spider colony. Several days ago they declared war Robber Fly colony. They are short of manpower (rat power actually) since special envoys were sent to neighbouring colonies for assistance. That will take time and they can’t afford to be attacked now. That’s why the appearance of these ‘Gods’ are a blessing. Should they lose, they will be treated as slaves for the rest of their lives and their queen executed. He hopes they will bring down the iron hammer on them. That night, the Ground Spider colony attacks. Satoru takes Saki and run. Satoru’s quick thinking saves them from the combustible poison gas filling up the underground caverns. But they are only thrown deeper into the underground. Satoru tries to prod the ceiling to make a way out but it starts to cave in.

Episode 6
They are still alive and safe from the poisonous gas at least for now. Saki starts seeing visions of Minoshiro and remembers a way to return Satoru’s Cantus. She uses the ritual she remembers and it works. His first use is to blow up the ceiling for a way out. Saki wants to run but Satoru wants to take the fight to them. Satoru revels in using his Cantus to counter Ground Spiders’ attack. By uprooting trees and rocks to fall on them and even moving their dead corpse as puppets against them. He’s enjoying it. Saki thinks he has changed into a different person but Satoru won’t rest till all the Ground Spiders are eliminated. They stumble upon Squealer and his Robber Fly troop and they pledge to protect them. They will also help guide them to Ground Spiders’ nest colony. They take the long way and manage to stave off ambushes, decoys and surprise attacks with Satoru’s quick thinking and action. But as they go on more, Satoru’s weariness is beginning to show. Saki chides Squealer for getting them into danger because he assured them with scouts that the route they take would be safe. How many ambushes have they been through? A scout comes back with information that enemy forces have gathered at a wide space unobstructed by trees. It might seem to make them at a disadvantage but when they see it with their own eyes, they begin to understand why. The entire colony is there. Can you defeat such huge numbers?

Episode 7
They continue to observe the enemy but they start firing arrows. Saki has Squealer locate their nest and wants Satoru to burn the trees where the nest is located. When they start hurling rocks, Squealer flees. Satoru continues to push his limits by hurling those rocks back. Saki takes him and run. They are shocked to see Squealer confiding with the enemy. In that distraction, Squealer kills his captors. Saki is upset he sold them out but Squealer was afraid they were abandoning him. They abandon him? Didn’t he run first? Satoru is too tired to run now when they hear the sounds of Giant Hornet colony. Reinforcements have arrived. They meet their leader, Kiroumaru but Satoru wants Saki not to show any weaknesses. Even though Giant Hornets are most loyal to human, it is the more reason why they must be careful. Kiroumaru has captured Ground Spiders’ nestlings and will distribute them to other colonies. Kiroumaru wants to talk to Ground Spiders’ commander but the latter makes a surprise attack sending out Balloon Dogs. Thanks to Satoru, everyone on their side was saved. Resting in a hut, Satoru and Saki discuss about what Minoshiro said. If what it said was true, they would be targeted and get rid of next just like how children go missing from Harmony School and Sage Academy every year. Thinking Kiroumaru may have reported them to the committee, since humans face death feedback, perhaps those Monster Rats were sent to kill them out here. That night when they try to escape, they are surprised Squealer follows them. He wants to protect them. But why come alone? He came unprepared. He guides them through the forest when they see a hawk soaring the sky. It acts as Kiroumaru’s reconnaissance. When morning comes, Saki and Satoru reunite with Maria, Shun and Mamoru. They paddle their kayaks as fast as they could but realize Kiroumaru’s naval fleet is gaining fast upon them. However he helps guide them get back. He hopes they will keep this a secret from others because if it was found out, it would mean his death. It proves he has gotten his orders from the committee. They finally parted ways. Camping at the river side, they help each other to restore their Cantus and outwit the adults when they got back. Or so they think.

Episode 8
Two years have passed. Saki and co continue to harness their power at Sage Academy. It seems that Saki and Maria are close to being the point of yuri, it is the same with Satoru and Shun. As long as you love, it doesn’t matter how you love, eh? So close the guys that Saki feels disturbed. I mean, they actually kissed!!! Yaoi fans should love this scene. Saki can’t take it and releases some of her frustration by getting yuri with Maria. Has anybody notice Mamoru getting lonely? Maybe he’s into Maria but she’s not that interested in him. One day, Shun makes a shocking revelation. He tells Satoru he is tired of being his doll and wants to break up. He wants to be alone and distances himself from his friends. Satoru is devastated but quickly finds another mate, Rei just to spite Shun. Not working. In class, the great Shisei Kaburagi pays a visit. Everyone tries to use their Cantus to earn some of his praise but Shun caught Shisei’s attention. He whispered some words into his ear and then leaves. I don’t know what kind of expression that was from Shun. Was he happy? Was he going crazy? Endou ends the class and when Saki approaches him, his egg drop. When it cracks, Saki is horrified to see an eye inside. Later Saki talks to Shun about his break up but he can’t say. He doesn’t think she will understand and only reveals he will be away for a while. He will be out of school to receive special treatment. Saki can’t visit him either since he won’t be at home anymore but some rehabilitation bungalow. She wanted to confess she loves him but he cuts her off. Reminding him about their summer camp 2 years ago. The adults knew it all the time and for some reason, they’re delaying punishment to them. They may be under constant surveillance. Shun warns Saki to be wary of the cats and gives her a charm against one.

Episode 9
It has been 4 days since Shun stopped coming to class. The friends talk about the possibility of being on constant surveillance and the need to find Shun. They split themselves up as Satoru takes Saki to the Pinewind village. It has been many years Saki has been there, Shun’s hometown. Upon arrival, they are shocked to see the place cordoned off. They try to take the long way but it seems the woods are also barricaded. Entering the barrier, they see weird things. Like a Monster Rat and frost on the ground. Arriving at a big hole, they see some people trying beneath it. Saki has Satoru use his Cantus to create a mirror so she can see what is down there. She is shocked to see a tree, one she remembers from Shun’s house. When Saki returns home, her parents are busy arguing about improving facilities, this and that. Saki asks them if they know what happened to Shun. Father tells her talking things like that are forbidden. He adds about facing hardships in life and that parting with friends is one of them. However he lets her know that an accident has befallen on Pinewind. Shun and his family are missing. Saki is outraged nobody told her but mother tells her not to talk back and not to pry into the wrong things. Saki leaves to rest in her room. Mother pleads she doesn’t want to lose another before correcting herself she doesn’t want to lose her. Saki thinks deep what her mother meant till she realizes her name means ‘youngest child’. Then she remembers Yoshimi. Where did she go? Suddenly Maria is knocking on her window. She is scared that they were almost killed. Seems she and Mamoru entered one of those storage rooms that were off limits. They see locked storage drums but when they press their ears onto one of them, they hear those growling sounds. They had to hide when they hear adult voices coming in. They couldn’t see their faces but recognized one of their voices to be Endou. From what they hear, the adults lament about sending the Tainted Cats, Black and Stripes to settle something before he turns into a full Karma Demon. They unlock the drum and use their Cantus to restrain the cats to bring them somewhere. That’s when they heard Shun’s name. In the dead of the night, Saki flees her village to warn Shun but comes across with a Tainted Cat.

Episode 10
The Tainted Cat attacks but thanks to Shun’s charm she’s wearing over her neck, its teeth couldn’t penetrate. Saki chants some words to kill it. Did she twist it like a ragged cloth? She continues walking till she reaches a strange area and knows this is Shun’s presence. He wants her to leave but she isn’t till he tells her what is going on. Masked Shun brings her into his distorted bungalow and will allow her to stay maximum 10 minutes. He starts explaining the real problem comes from the human heart. Something about their subconscious is greater. Despite humans’ best efforts, they cannot control it and is always unpredictable. Cantus is the most tangible manifestation of it. Many methods were tried to seal or purify them but in the end it always slips through the holes opened by their consciousness. This will change the world. That is what the Holy Barrier is for. Not for external threats but to keep internal threats from seeping out. Their Cantus may not change the world overnight, but accumulating it over the years, there is no telling what will happen. After all, they were conditioned since young to be fearful of the outside world. Since that dark boundless world also exists within them, it becomes their subconscious and by linking it with the outside world, they direct such slippages outside the Holy Barrier. The Cantus outside the barrier may have mutated and evolved many creatures like the Minoshiro. Saki doesn’t want to know all that but what is happening to him. Everything around him is distorted. His subconscious has gone out of control resulting in extreme slippages of Cantus. He will turn into a Karma Demon. Even his loyal dog looks like a monster. The head priest has tried sealing it but like a broken lid, nothing will it back any longer. Saki blames herself for not restoring his Cantus properly then. He tells her he is trying his best to withhold warping her. His parents died because of him and he doesn’t want anyone else he loves to die in front of him. A Tainted Cat breaks into the room and tries to kill Shun but his dog saves him and dies. Shun doesn’t hold back his slippages and kills the Tainted Cat with his distortion. He blames himself for his indecisiveness. He knew his dog can never stop the Tainted Cat but went to rescue him still. He could’ve saved it by killing the Tainted Cat first. He reveals he was given pills when first brought to this place. He took them but didn’t die. His subconscious desire to survive must have altered its elements. He is tired of it all and wants to end. Saki is forced to flee as the distortion starts destroying the surroundings. Shun confesses he had always loved her. Shun gets engulfed by the distortion and Saki vows she must stay alive.

Episode 11
Saki seems down and Maria thought she is worried if Ryou Inaba would choose her. Ryou who? The guy from their group who had his eyes on her all the time. Did he? Speaking of the devil, he wants to talk to Saki. Seems he wants to choose her for the duty pair. During winter, students are paired up for duties and the pair will consist of a boy and a girl if they both truly love each other. However Saki cannot remember doing things during that summer camp with Ryou although he insists he was there. Something feels wrong. Flashback reveals Saki was at Shun’s grave. She heard his voice that told her how his tombstone had no name just like the others. Then he told her to look in a mirror. A bright flash engulfed her. Next thing, she woke up in her room, no memories of him. Then she found a mirror in the storeroom, cleaned it and when she let some light reflect on it, she sees Yoshimi’s name. Later Saki calls Ryou to talk to him. She asks him several questions. First, the things he told her on that camping night. He can’t remember but even if he guessed, it was wrong. Not what Saki remembered. Then she asks about breaking up with Satoru. He gives an ambiguous answer. Final question. About summer camp again. He must remember how Rijin died. He doesn’t know who he is. This has Saki ascertain it isn’t him and turns him down for the duty pair. Then she talks to Satoru about this. Ryou is not the person they both fell in love with. So for duty pair, Saki ends up with Satoru while Maria with Mamoru. The quartet talk about Ryou. Maria doesn’t believe he wasn’t part of their group all along. Saki believes there is another person but not Ryou, though she can’t remember. Satoru also has this feeling and thinks their memories have been altered. To make it simple, they call this person ‘X’. Compared to Ryou, Satoru remembers playing at X’s house, which is very much different from Ryou’s. Saki has him name the 7 main villages and they remember X’s house is in Withertree (formerly known as Pinewood). They decide to go there to check things out.

The village is rundown void of people. There is a big lake which they don’t remember. They can’t go further than the Holy Barrier placed around. Maria too understands what Saki and Satoru felt but Mamoru thinks they may just be remembering things wrongly. They further have this strange feeling that X was there before Ryou. Even so, there was another girl member in their group. What about the discussion they had something similar to this during summer camp? They just can’t remember. It’s like slipping through their finger tips. Mamoru becomes upset they shouldn’t be doing this further since this is violating the Code of Ethics. Later Saki shows Maria and Satoru a mirror with Yoshimi’s name. Saki thinks she was disposed by the school as the writing on this mirror was bad and proof of her beginner level Cantus. If she died in an accident or illness, there was no need to cover up. Maria doesn’t want Saki to dig further but she wants to know the truth. Maria is worried about her friends who are alive now. She notes Saki as strong because she is enduring pain that others normally couldn’t bear. She is able to shoulder the sadness and live on. But the rest may not be strong as her or even them. Mamoru. She knows he can’t cope with betrayal from someone he trusted so it is better off they do not know many things in this world. Because the truth can be the cruellest. If Saki continues to dig up the truth, Mamoru may lose it. But Saki can’t turn back now or else it will haunt her. A couple of adults want the trio to follow them. They claim they work under Satoru’s grandma, Tomiko who is the head of the Ethics Committee. The girls are surprised and think Satoru is a spy but he too doesn’t know his grandma is the head since members of Ethics Committee aren’t public knowledge. The trio will take turns talking to the committee and first up is Saki, whom Tomiko has specifically requested for.

Episode 12
Tomiko looks young… Seems the reason she wants to speak to Saki was because she wants her to eventually succeed her. Saki didn’t think her grades are good enough but apparently it is not the only thing and Cantus that is assessed. Saki has strong personality index and this means her mental stability is strong enough to make her remain the same person when something unexpected happens. Her score is probably the highest in history. When she learnt the truth of mankind’s dark bloody history from the Minoshiro, her personality index stabilized quickly (when the kids returned from the camp, they were each examined thoroughly). Saki’s other qualities like broad thinking and nerves of steel makes her a good leader. The kids weren’t disposed then since it is not their jurisdiction but the Board of Education. Though Ethics Committee has the highest authority in town, they don’t interfere with their decisions. Theirs was an exception. Not because of Satoru but Saki. She feels she is indispensible. Reminding her 2 things in this world they should fear, Fiends and Karma Demon, many people have never seen a Fiend but Tomiko had a close encounter with one. There was this boy called K. He had this desire for destruction. Nobody paid attention to him since the last Fiend appearance was 80 years ago. His mom was an outspoken town council member and there were no established mechanisms for such situations. One day K snapped and started going on a killing spree. He turned into a Fiend. Tomiko was working as a nurse then when K trudged into the hospital. The doctor takes a look at him and had Tomiko prepare some antibiotics. After he had given him the drug, K went berserk and blew off the doctor’s head before he died from the drug’s effects. So in order for such event never to happen again, they had to take steps to eliminate those showing such potential. One way was commanding loyal colonies of Monster Rats to attack. Also, a change in rule whereby a child has only human rights till he/she reaches his/her 17th birthday. This means until then, the council has the right to dispose of that child’s life. So they also used Tainted Cats that were selectively bred for that.

Though Fiends have stopped appearing, another threat emerged. It was the leaking of Cantus. It was thought it would pose no harm to humans, animals or environment. Till this girl, Izumi start to show worrying symptoms. Her leak was so bad that it could alter a human’s DNA. This is what turning into a Karma Demon is all about. Izumi learnt she had put many lives in danger and volunteered to eliminate herself. Unknown to her, all her family members have mutated and died from her bad spill. She was given pills to stop her condition and only one of them was lethal. However she swallowed them all. Saki cannot hold her tears over this sad story. This has something to do with their purged memories as well. She wants them back but Tomiko can’t. Doing so, it would bring greater destabilisation since such incidents are very shocking.  Even if she did restore her memories, there is no way she can keep it from her friends. They too will know and soon everyone else. The important thing is to take care and give attention to the weakest one. A chain is only as strong as its weakest one. But if Saki succeeds her, she can have her memories back. However she still doesn’t think she can fit her role. Tomiko notes she was once like that. One day she will realize that there are things that needed to be done and a task she could only shoulder. One morning, Mamoru goes missing and he left behind a note not to look for him. His friends of course will want to find him. But first they have to rid of Ryou. Though he hangs out with another group, he is officially in theirs. Satoru lies his way that they are researching snowflakes and convinces Ryou to do his own research. As the trio search for him, Maria tries to describe Mamoru’s behaviour lately. He was feeling down and couldn’t complete an easy assignment. The teacher scolded him so Maria joked they may send Copycats for him. He turned pale and took it seriously. That was the last she saw of him.

Episode 13
The trio can’t find Mamoru but see sled tracks leading towards the Holy Barrier. They think he is trying to cross over to the mountains. They think with the heavy load he is carrying and if he is hesitating on directions, they can catch up with him in 2 hours. After they cross the Holy Barrier, they begin to see footprints of a Monster Rat next to the sled tracks. It is bad if it is following Mamoru. Continuing to follow the trail, they come to a conclusion that Mamoru must be desperate in escaping since the track is leading up a steep mountain. Suddenly it ends when they reach a cliff. Could he have fallen off? They slide down to find him and when the thick snow stop them, they think he must have fallen somewhere around here. They use their Cantus to shovel the snow and see his sled. But no Mamoru. Satoru is suspicious why the sled is buried so deep in the snow. If it was snowing heavily, it would’ve covered the tracks. Either Mamoru or the Monster Rat must have buried it. Looking further, they see footprints and a deep track in the snow. They think the Monster Rat was carrying Mamoru but didn’t kill him because the deep track avoided all the roots. The trail leads them to a hut and they see Mamoru sleeping inside. He wakes up and is relieved he is okay. Mamoru reveals he slipped and fell. Squonk saved him. Who? He was the Monster Rat from Goat Moth colony Saki helped years ago. Squonk explains he followed Mamoru by chance. He saw sled tracks and thought it belonged to some colony. Now Mamoru justifies his escape. He doesn’t want to die. Endou had cold eyes when he looked at him as he is already on the list of people to be disposed. Mamoru also knows they’ve been keeping secrets from him especially about Yoshimi and the mirror. He already saw a Copycat twice. The first was 4 days ago when he felt something tailing him on his way back from school. Although he didn’t see it, he knows it is not his imagination even thought it didn’t attack and felt more like tailing him. Then yesterday when Endou told him to put printouts in the storeroom after class, he felt strange about his request since the printouts weren’t many. After doing so, he heard snarling in the hallway. Mamoru froze. He became scared. Before he could fully turn around, a gust of wind blows the Copycat into some portal. Mamoru knew his life is in danger since he really saw this one. Satoru is puzzled why is Mamoru on the hit list. His Cantus is average and has no personality problem. Mamoru suddenly remembers seeing the Copycat somewhere but can’t remember it no matter how hard he tries. It feels it has something to do with his erased memories. Something about going into the storage huts, hiding behind it and seeing them coming out from the drums. Maria feels she remembers something like that. The kids are starting to hesitate if they should go back to the village.

Episode 14
Only Satoru and Saki return to the village but at different times. Once Saki returns to her family, the chairman of the Board of Education wants to see her now. Saki is being interrogated by the vice chairman, Masayo Komatsuzaki. She must answer truthfully. It’s like she’s under some trial. Saki answers what she knows. It’s like they are trying to pin her on something. There are some moments Saki went silent as Masayo pesters her to answer. Give her some time, lady. Ever thought she is just deep in thought? Don’t want to say the wrong thing, huh? So when Saki reveals why Mamoru ran away due to the sightings of Tainted Cats, they tell her to shut up. Oh, so now it’s you have the right to remain silence. They are disappointed in her so Saki wonders if she will be disposed too. Tomiko enters in time and hopes the committee can cut her some slack. She was partly responsible for this as she told her about Tainted Cats and all because she views Saki as a capable person to lead their village. Besides, the missing of 2 children is their fault. The decision to dispose Mamoru was rash and unwise. They failed to do so and it led to this situation. The committee has no choice but to respect Tomiko’s decision. Tomiko brings Saki up to the room to talk. Saki is surprised to see Tainted Cats sitting tamely by Tomiko. They won’t attack unless ordered to. Saki asks Tomiko she mentioned about conducting experiment on their group. As explained, unlike others, they were not hypnotized and thus by large didn’t take away their freedom of thought. Why them? Because docile ones cannot protect the village. Leaders need to be strong in their conviction and even do dirty work from time to time but too many unforeseen events have happened. Her biggest regret was disposing the boy she had greatest hope for. Children were hypnotized to fear leaving the Holy Barrier. However as seen in their case, they feared death and ventured outside. This is normally a rational decision. But this is also causing a fundamental problem in the village.

In ancient civilization, there were nuclear weapons that can take out an entire city. Now there is a new problem of a similar threat: Humans. A single Fiend can destroy a city with ease. Unlike nuclear weapons, Fiends will continue as long as their body permit. Tomiko wants Saki to bring them back. In return she will vouch for her safety but she only has 3 days to do that. If they continue to hide, the Board of Education will devote its time to dispose them. This means ordering every Monster Rat colony to hunt them down. Saki finally asks why she wields so much influence. Unlike politics of old men, Tomiko doesn’t use wealth, violence and brainwashing. She had time. What does she mean? Making Saki guess her age, she got the last 2 digits correct. Last 2 digits? Tomiko is 267 years old! Her encounter with the Fiend was 245 years ago and has been the Ethics Committee chairman for 170 years. She explains her youthful appearance and longevity due to her genes and chromosomes that prevents her from aging and somewhat regenerates. Yeah, that telomere thingy which I can’t understand. Thus Tomiko herself and her history is what make her influential. Saki is caught up by Satoru. He was questioned by them after being made to wait for ages. But soon after they told him to go after Saki. Their mission is of course to bring back Mamoru and Maria. However the hut is now missing. Did somebody uprooted the entire structure or did it just vanish?

Episode 15
Satoru finds the hut has been destroyed and buried. It couldn’t be the work of Monster Rats and thinks Mamoru and Maria did it. Even their tracks were covered. The duo continue to search for their friends. While they take a break, they see a Monster Rat. It runs away once it realizes it has been spotted. Saki goes after it but falls through a cornice. Luckily Satoru catches her. When she opens her eyes, she is safe but in a hut. Where is this place? They are in Robber Fly’s colony. They are greeted by Squealer now known as Yakomaru who boasts about his colony’s growth. But the duo are in a hurry to find their friends and thinks they are at Goat Moth colony. Yakomaru says it is one of the few colonies that is not aligned with Giant Hornet colony and can only make their journey tomorrow morning as the snow is dangerous at night. The duo want to meet his queen but Yakomaru seems reluctant but shows them the way anyway. Along the way, he shows them the concrete buildings their colony has made. They are surprised how their colony has changed because it used to centre around the queen. When they see the queen, they are shocked to see her in a pitiful vegetative state. Yakomaru explains she has not been mentally stable. Although she was tyrannical, she became worst after that. Because the members of the colony didn’t want to be tools to be discarded, they formed a union to negotiate with her but she went on a rampage. As the queen is the only one who can bear children, they have no choice but to take this path but due to some hygienic complication, the queen contracted some disease and fell into this state. Saki does not like this one bit but Yakomaru tells her the book he read written by them Gods about democracy and equal rights. All other colonies are also dealing with the same problem to a certain degree. Satoru and Saki return to their hut and discuss what they saw. They definitely do not like how things are going. Satoru speculates that they are trying to replace humans. Because back home, they have no houses made of concrete. It’s like they’re trying to take themselves the material culture humans abandoned. And how can Yakomaru get to know all he wants with just a book? He thinks he caught a Minoshiro. Next morning, the duo are surprised to see Yakomaru gathering an army to head to Goat Moth colony. Outside their stronghold, Yakomaru has his subordinate issue a summon. As there is no response, he commences attack. Shortly, Goat Moth retaliates. Thanks to Satoru’s Cantus, he protects everyone. Yakomaru convinces them for permission to attack back since attacking a God is punishable by death. Satoru uses his Cantus to break open the defence but Saki stops him before it gets worse. Yakomaru chides a Goat Moth colony member but Satoru tells him to bring out Squonk as he is the one they have business with. Though they are glad to see him, Squonk doesn’t know where their friends are. They have left to a faraway place. He doesn’t know where or the direction they have headed. But they left behind a letter.

Episode 16
For the first 10 minutes, Maria narrates the contents of what she wrote in the letter while Saki reminisces flashbacks of her childhood days with her. Why they had to leave because there is no turning back once you are branded as disqualified. Maria views Saki to be strong in willpower and will be the village’s valuable asset. Maria views their village has a deep fear for children because they kill them to maintain peace and order. She knows if Saki or Satoru was in her shoes, she would have done the same to save a friend. They will run far away where the village eyes will not reach them and live together in a new direction. She hopes they will one day meet. She wants them to report that they have died and to not look for them. Satoru tells Yakomaru that they will report Maria and Mamoru have died and need to get their stories straight. Yakomaru obliges but of course they don’t trust him. The duo continue to search for their friends and Tomiko’s deadline is nearing and still no signs of their tracks. It dawned to Saki that one by one her friends are going missing and they are both left. She doesn’t want to lose anymore. Saki fell asleep during a rest and dreams of a faceless boy telling her something. That night when they take shelter, Saki wonders if they will forget Maria and Mamoru. Satoru will not let the Board alter his memories again. If they try to force something on them, he will leave the village and take Saki with him. Then they can go look for Maria and Mamoru and live together. Just hearing their name, Saki breaks down uncontrollably. She couldn’t sleep that night because the faceless boy dream continues to haunt her. He told her not to help Maria and Mamoru in their escape and that Maria had to die.

Episode 17
Ten years have passed and Saki is now 26 years old. She is in charge of breeding naked mole rats but her true responsibility is the investigation and regulation of Monster Rats at the Department of Exospecies Control. Get this. Even though colonies of Monster Rats still obey humans like gods, they must still fill in application if they want to have a civil war!!! Yup. That’s where Saki’s department comes in. Saki is surprised Satoru visits her. Due to some petty issue, their relationship isn’t so good. Anyway there is a case that the Spider Wasp colony was ambushed and attacked. Satoru is using them for his farm work and thought Saki would knew something about this. Apparently she doesn’t and this is news to her. They need to identify the culprit and take action. So in a meeting to discuss this, it consists of Koufuu Hino of the Occupations Council, Tomiko and Shisei. Saki first explains the Monster Rat colonies are divided into 2 factions. Those who are aligned to Giant Hornets and the rest to Robber Flies. She also gives the numbers of both sides and their ruling system. While Giant Hornets still maintain their queen, the Robber Flies have discarded theirs via revolution and are represented by elected representatives. This surprises the council. Also, Goat Moths may have been neutral but there is a chance they may be aligned to Robber Flies. Hino thinks they just need to eradicate half of them but the rest want to summon both the representatives. Tomiko suggests questioning both together because if their stories don’t match, they will confront each other to see if they’re telling the truth. And so Kiroumaru of Giant Hornets and Yakomaru of Robber Flies are summoned. It is obvious that they are both accusing each other of telling lies. Yakomaru even went further that the attack on Spider Wasp was staged by themselves. Despite several lives were lost, Yakomaru claims their principals are different than theirs because they do not value lives unlike them who have embraced democracy with every individual holding rights. In the end, the meeting adjourned without a decision. Saki is about to watch the battle between Giant Hornets and Robber Flies. While the battle rages on, her colleague Inui talks to her that despite some of the ancient technology the Monster Rats used in battle, he feels they get their source of knowledge somewhere. He tells her a secret that no one knows. Giant Hornets are always victorious because they take some enhancing drug before the battle. In the end, Giant Hornets emerge victorious although Kiroumaru apologizes it took his troops an hour to rid of those weaklings. Saki returns to her office and at the same time her department chief who was watching over the battle between Goat Moths and Spider Wasps. To Saki’s surprise, she learns Goat Moths won because Spider Wasps switched sides. She feels something amiss. Why would Spider Wasps join their mortal enemies as this case started because of this. Plus, she never received an application for war from Spider Wasps. Next morning, Saki receives news that the Giant Hornet army has been wiped out.

Episode 18
A meeting is held to discuss Giant Hornet’s annihilation. Every soldier was mutilated and it is mind boggling how such a powerful army could be defeated in such a way. Evidence suggests Kiroumaru escaped but his whereabouts unknown. Findings indicate there were no weapons left behind by Giant Hornets not even destroyed ones so can it be Robber Flies took them to hide evidence or something? Saki’s mother, Mizuho who is the head of the Library Committee thinks the Monster Rats captured a Minoshiro and extracted information about them especially those weapons classified as WMDs. However Shisei doesn’t think a bomb wiped them out because he shows them Giant Hornets’ arrows they found are totally undamaged. His only theory is that it was stopped mid-flight by Cantus. He thinks a human’s Cantus helped disarm Giant Hornets. During the festival Saki thought she saw Maria and ran after her but Satoru calms her down. Remembering back at the meeting, although Tomiko plays down that anyone in the village is able to do that, Shisei suspects those who have fled from a long time ago. Although their bones and remains were brought back, he is beginning to suspect it is not them since it was brought by no other than that scheming Yakomaru. Saki remembers how Yakomaru told her they will do all they can to find bones similar and chafe it carefully till it resembles like humans. However Tomiko brushes that off because thorough research like DNA and dental records prove it is them. They are officially dead and cannot be connected to this. That’s why Satoru feels the same way as Saki. He wants to see them even if they are ghosts. Also, the committee has approved the annihilation of Robber Fly colony and its allies and will be headed by Inui. However Hiromi Torigai, the head of the Board of Education is cautious and wants to postpone the annihilation after the festival, at least after things have stabilized. But Hino tells her off that doing so proves that they are just scared of the Monster Rats. The annihilation will proceed as usual.

During the festival, Saki and Satoru realize a villager got poisoned and died. They realize a Monster Rat may have been camouflaging among the crowd. Before they can warn the rest, an explosion rocks the place. Monster Rats start swarming in so everyone runs to the town square where Shisei uses his powerful Cantus to form a barrier. Hino also goes crazy in using Cantus to wipe out the Monster Rats. Satoru realizes why the Monster Rats are attacking them from an opposite direction because they are unleashing poisonous gas in the wind’s direction. With this information, Shisei and Hino blow the poisonous and kill the bunch of Monster Rats hiding in the woods. Suddenly Hino is shot and killed. Shisei detects several Monster Rats disguised as humans among the crowd. He picks them out and he shows why he is the most powerful man in the village. Even if the Monster Rats are equipped with bombs and are on suicide mission, Shisei absorbs the blast without any scratch and hurls it back to them. The impact of the explosion blows away his face mask and it is revealed he has twin pupils in each eye. In the aftermath, Shisei issues orders to be in groups of 5. Those with fewer members should merge with other groups and take precautionary action. Saki learns that Hiromi has perished despite being the most cautious among the committee. Tomiko has never felt so angry in such a long time since K. She wants to make Yakomaru pay and suffer a long and slow protracted death.

Episode 19
Satoru and Saki merge with another group that consists of Fujita, Okano and Kuramochi. As they ride the boat down the river as part of their patrol, Satoru explains his uneasiness over the recent incident. One, the Monster Rat group that they first encountered back in the village was of the Spider Wasp colony. Secondly, the easy annihilation of Giant Hornets because Kiroumaru has one of the most experienced army at his disposal. When they arrive at the hospital, they are shocked to see a big hole at the entrance. Kuramochi doesn’t care about anything else and heads in first. Satoru feels something is wrong. Everything is too quiet. No crickets or frogs. He concludes Monster Rats must be hiding and waiting to ambush them when they least expect it. Once Kuramochi enters the hospital, the rest use their Cantus to burn out all the Monster Rats hiding. Even before they die, they shoot random stray arrows. Luckily none of them hit. Kuramochi didn’t reply when they call out to him so Satoru decides to go in and look for him. Saki is worried since there might be Monster Rats inside. They then see a light in the window and think somebody is using their Cantus. Saki and Okano go with Satoru while Fujita remains in the boat. When they go up the stairs, Satoru can sense Monster Rats waiting to ambush them and uses his Cantus to take them out. They see Kuramochi’s body. Entering one of the rooms, they see 3 cocoons and realize the people in it are still alive. Taking them down, Saki recognizes one of them as Dr Noguchi. The rest is a male hospital staff and a nurse how is in so much shock that screaming is all she does. They are all stunned at first but soon Noguchi regains his consciousness and wants everyone to escape quickly before he returns.

One of the cocooned hospital staff runs out on his own. The gang see him suddenly burst into flames. It is a sign he is back. Fujita tries to help but gets killed too. Noguchi tells them that he has killed everyone in this hospital and the 3 of them only survived. Because they didn’t run or fight back or else they would have been killed. They were probably kept alive because he wants to use them as hostages. But now they have to run out the backdoor. Noguchi wants everyone to go separate ways in hopes one of them will get to the village and warn the rest. Noguchi is pessimistic that even if they have 500 people with Cantus, they can’t defeat him. Noguchi goes off into the woods as Saki senses him circling around the back. Satoru and co hide back inside the hospital. Then they hear Noguchi’s screams. I guess he got done in. Thanks to that distraction, the rest escape via the front. The hospital nurse becomes paralyzed and clings onto the wall. Saki can’t leave her but at this rate everyone will be killed and nobody will warn the village. Okano will stay back to buy them time. The duo remain hidden in the boat as it drifts down the river. Satoru finally understands about Kiroumaru’s defeat and why Giant Hornets lost. He fears his theory has come true. Before we know what that is, he senses a boat closing in on them. It’s him.

Episode 20
As they lay motionless and calm in the boat, Saki remembers how much she hated the Board of Education especially when they send Tainted Cats. Now she understands why. However she still won’t forgive them of what they tried to do to Maria and Mamoru. Especially about the faceless friend she thinks she was once in love with. They must live. They plan how to escape from the boat and into the river bank by placing temporary mirrors as decoy. Once they do so, the Fiend burns their boat. Lying still in the grass, it seemed like the Fiend is heading towards them but soon passes. The duo find a hut to rest and change their clothes before starting their journey back to town when day breaks. They hear explosions in the background but can’t be too bothered with it as they need to get back. While traversing the river, they are seemingly attacked by something beneath. Getting to the river bed, they use their Cantus to lift the large mutant fish up. It starts spewing lots of black powder. Saki realizes it is inflammable remembers the explosion. She pushes Satoru away when the explosion soon begins. Saki is tossed up into the air but controls her flight with her Cantus. She crash lands in the sunflower field alone while continuing her journey and realized that explosion was a suicide attack. She almost got a boulder squashed her and manages to identify herself as human to stop a boy from trying to smash her as he thinks she is a Monster Rat. It is learnt that there were lots of casualties in the village during the night fight. He is looking for his parents whose whereabouts are unknown since the fight.

Saki narrates how the Monster Rats were waging an all-out war against humans. They were successful because Yakomaru was willing to sacrifice his soldiers (they too are not afraid of death) and partly due to lack of preparation on the human’s side. Therefore when the assault was launch, everyone felt helpless. When everyone decided to cooperate, it got worse because this has been all part of Yakomaru’s plan. Because so, human mistake each other as Monster Rats and accidentally killed each other. Due to the death feedback, the killer would also die. Killing 2 birds with no stone. Everyone thought they could heave a sigh of relief when the attacks stop as dawn drew closer. But that’s just a ploy to deprive them of sleep. As they let their guard down, those mutant fish swim through the canals and let loose their inflammable powder. The carnage continues. Thus orders were made to dry up the canals as there were sufficient manpower to guard every one of them. But this is also part of Yakomaru’s plans. When the devastated village is filled with wounded people, they are deprived of any water source and succumb to their wounds. Saki returns to Sage Academy. Although it is still standing, it has become a refugee centre. Tomiko is there, heavily wounded. Saki tells her about the Fiend she saw before her eyes and wants to know what else could use Cantus to kill a human. Tomiko replies there is nothing they could do. Her first encounter with one was just pure luck. The place is soon in commotion as word has been going round that a Fiend is spotted. Tomiko wants Saki to go to the Temple of Purity where the Security Council and her parents might be recuperating. She won’t go as she will only slow her down. Tomiko makes Saki succeed her whether she likes it or not. She also orders her caretaker, Niimi to bring Saki there. He is to tell Shisei what happened and broadcast to everyone to run away as far as possible. With a heavy heart, Niimi takes Saki away for their mission.

Episode 21
Shisei tries to give hope to the survivors and rallies them to quash the Monster Rats. Suddenly the ground crumbles. Shisei could only save a handful of them. The Monster Rats are ambushing them from underground. Shisei uses his Cantus to rip everyone when suddenly a Fiend enters the scene! To Saki’s horror, the Fiend looks like Maria!!! At that time, Saki is relieved to see Satoru alive and well. Shisei holds off the Fiend but as Satoru puts it, it is only a bluff because if Shisei kills it, he will die from death feedback. Also, the subconscious and Cantus leak is all that is needed to just kill Shisei. Satoru wants them to run as Saki sees the Fiend killing Shisei. Traversing the underground tunnels, they find a wounded Monster Rat and question him about their race’s rebellion. It is to liberate their species from their tyranny as they feel they have been treated like animals. They are confident since they have Yakomaru and the messiah whom we all know as the Fiend. But the Monster Rat points out the real Fiends are them instead. When the trio exit the underground, Niimi wants to part ways and carry out Tomiko’s request of warning everyone. Even though there may not be many left, if he can save an extra life, it would not be in vain. That’s the last time they saw him. The duo arrive at the Temple of Purity and was being told by the priest that Saki’s parents did come here but returned to the village because they want to free all the Tainted Cats and set them upon the Monster Rats. They have left something for Saki but before that, they are taken to see Inui who is still alive and unhurt. He explains when his team left to exterminate Robber Fly colony a week ago, they realized the entire army had gone into hiding. They search for 3 days and only found traces of night camp on the fourth day. Then they spot a cave where a small army congregates. Inui orders his men to use their Cantus to take them out. They spot somebody coming out from the cave but realized too late it was a Fiend and got slaughtered. Inui became scared and went into hiding. It took all his skill to avoid detection because the Monster Rats were searching the area thoroughly and knew such extermination squad worked in fives. Inui managed to escape to the nearest village, the one where the summer festival was held. There was not a soul around but thought there should be some at the hospital. To his shock, he realizes that the Monster Rats have been kidnapping human babies. It is when Saki realizes this is Yakomaru’s true goal to abduct infants. It all started with Mamoru and Maria’s child. Yakomaru secretly nurtured this grand plan of his. With this single Fiend to take over the village to abduct more children. Even if he failed, he would just need to wait another 10 years. The abducted children will be turned into Fiends themselves under the Monster Rats’ care and at this rate, not only Japan will fall to them but the entire world. World domination would be possible and the birth of a great Monster Rat empire.

Episode 22
Inui continues how he miraculously escaped the Fiend. He bluffed the Fiend by speaking Monster Rat’s language. But as he is tired and ran out of Cantus, a Monster Rat saved him and brought him back to this temple. It was Kiroumaru. The priest brings the stuffs Mizuho left for Saki. First, a letter that wants her to do all she can to bring down the Fiend. It is a mass weapon of destruction created by ancient civilization and designed by people without Cantus to eliminate those with Cantus. It is called Psychobuster. It doesn’t kill the masses and so death feedback is avoidable. Mizuho has also left an object on how to lead them to it after activating it. Looks like a pig, or rather a mini Minoshiro. Mizuho lasts words were to hope Saki can use this Psychobuster to defeat the Fiend and will always love and watch over her. I guess this means she’s gone. The priest brings the duo to see Kiroumaru locked in the dungeons. Saki is appalled at the cruel treatment and frees him to talk. Kiroumaru confirms the Fiend killed his elite troops and this includes stopping their arrows in mid-air. By miracle, his troops sacrifice themselves so he could escape. All Monster Rats know humans cannot use Cantus on each other due to death feedback and Yakomaru’s strategy hinges on this. Since Saki is going to Tokyo, Kiroumaru has once been to that cursed place and wants to guide them there. Along with Inui, they escape the Monster Rats guarding the vicinity via underwater submarine. When they resurface for fresh air, Kiroumaru smells the Fiend approaching and his pursuers so they make a surge to blast forward towards the sea. They arrive at the bay of Tokyo at night fall but Kiroumaru cautious not to wander aimlessly because he remembered his soldiers who wandered near the shore were eaten by some monster. They surface at the first break of light. Tokyo is a vast uninhabitable desert. They activate the Minoshiro and it becomes a mini library and map. Kiroumaru smells his pursuers and didn’t expect them to catch up so soon. There is no place to hide and underground is scorching hell. Inui has an idea that they should go underground because if they do follow, they’ll get a taste of hell. It gets stuffier and stuffier the further they go. Saki has the Minoshiro explain about Psychobuster and it seems it is a biological weapon created by America similar to Anthrax. It’s easy to use but the challenge is to get the Fiend to inhale it. Saki asks Kiroumaru if he had once journeyed to Tokyo, why didn’t his colony settle down here. Unpleasant occupants. He then smells his pursuers although they are far away and took different routes. He smells 7 of them and though 5 of them are lowly officers, he recognizes the 2 as Yakomaru and the Fiend. Yakomaru who has been hiding all the while is out now because he knows the Fiend is his trump card to stand against them and what better way than to make personal command to ensure success. The gang had to traverse through a cave filled with bugs but that is just the harmless part. It begins when there are carnivorous blood-sucking slugs falling from the ceiling trying to suck on them! Inui burns them all with his Cantus. Satoru is injured and needs to be treated or else the bleeding can become worse.

Episode 23
The gang made their way through several vicious strange creatures, including some dark shadow that seems to be lurking. They reach the end of the cave and below them is the rapid river. Kiroumaru suggests they split into groups. Two will return to the caves to lead their pursuers astray with their scent while the other two will return to retrieve the submarine. He believes the underground river flows out to the sea. Inui and Saki go to get the submarine. Inui has his suspicions on Kiroumaru. He was here once and for what purpose. A single loss of life would have prompted him to retreat but yet something must have attracted him to stay and explore to the point he is willing to lose lots of his soldiers. When they arrive back at the shore, Inui doesn’t want Saki to be hasty in bringing the submarine to the sea because Kiroumaru warned them about some nocturnal creature. Before the Minoshiro’s battery runs out, it tells them enough information about some dangerous worm. This is Inui’s other suspicion. He knew they would arrive at this beach by sundown but yet didn’t tell them about this danger. After putting the submarine in the sea, they are attacked by a huge worm. Inui’s Cantus destroys it and they quickly move before more of them appear. Saki sees visions of the faceless boy. She still can’t remember him but he disagrees. She knows his name and can’t remember because of a barrier in her heart. He is after all always in her heart. She will remember it eventually. He also lets her know that the Fiend they are facing isn’t actually a Fiend. Saki is snapped back into reality by Inui when they arrive in a cave with a huge pocket water. The glow worms on the ceiling make it look like stars in the sky and Saki remembers it was that faceless boy who showed this to her. Continuing their journey, they hit a dead end although their destination is just a hundred metres ahead. They can’t make a hole or else the cave will collapse so they will travel by foot underwater. The worm attacks them but thanks to Inui’s warning, Saki manages to evade in time. Unfortunately Inui died in the attack while trying to fend it off. As sad she is, Saki has no choice but to stay strong and soldier on. She arrives in a room with radioactive symbol. Searching around, she finds Psychobuster in a safe. She breaks the wall and higher ground view makes the wasteland look spectacular especially in the shades of the morning sunrise. As she walks on, she starts remembering her last moments with Shun. And there he is right before her! She remembers his name and calls out to him. Is this an illusion?

Episode 24
Maybe Saki’s just seeing things. Before her is Kiroumaru. He brings her to the cave to reunite with Satoru, a little injured when a rock fell on him trying to escape the Fiend. After telling him about Inui’s death, she hands him Psychobuster. Kiroumaru covers himself with bat guano to hide his smell although the Monster Rats think he was never a threat to them. Satoru explains how Kiroumaru killed 7 of them by himself. He brings them to a long tunnel with no other exits. Although it may seem like they have no other escape routes, this mean the enemy can only come in from 1 direction. There are twists and bends in the tunnel so they can run and be out of the Fiend’s field of vision. While Kiroumaru goes to lead them here Saki is still worried about the Fiend and can’t help think is the child of Mamoru and Maria. Satoru doesn’t want her to complicate things with her feelings but she just thought the Fiend doesn’t know herself as human. She wants to give the Fiend a chance to learn she is one. Due to the heavy rain hiding their scent, Kiroumaru returns and suggests using themselves as bait by showing themselves to the enemy just for a moment. Then run and hide. They disagree at this very dangerous proposition but Kiroumaru reminds them many have died so that they could have this one chance to defeat the Fiend. So the game of tag begins. Saki hears Shun’s voice that the Fiend isn’t coming after them and is a trap. Because Yakomaru has predicted the path they would escape, he has laid ambushes along the way and they barely avoid them. They can’t go forward as it will be suicide. But heading back means meeting up with the Fiend. The Fiend closes in so Satoru tries out Saki’s suggestion by putting up a mirror. Because Monster Rats don’t have mirrors, the Fiend never knew how she looked like and thinks herself as a Monster Rat just like them. Maybe if she is showed her own face, she would realize she is different and human.

The Fiend gets upset and breaks the mirror. This forces Satoru to throw Psychobuster. Saki fears at this range, the Fiend and Satoru will be affected. She doesn’t want to be alone and the last one left standing. Good thing, the Fiend got burnt although she still lives while Satoru is unaffected. Kiroumaru meets up with them and it seems the Fiend is not coming after them and thinks she is being treated for its burn wounds. But they can’t head out at the end of the tunnel because they very well know Yakomaru has laid his ambush. As they hide, Yakomaru wants to negotiate. Kiroumaru doesn’t want them to answer for he is trying to determine their location with their voice. Kiroumaru thinks Yakomaru has no immediate solution for this and suggests a suicide move for all of them. Collapse the entire cave with their Cantus. Saki feels guilty for ruining their only chance to defeat the Fiend and wasted Psychobuster but Kiroumaru feels their kind easily gives up. Monster Rats would try even if it means death and although those efforts may be in vain, they lose nothing by trying. They ask why he came to Tokyo before. It was to look for a weapon of mass destruction to destroy humans. However they found nothing. Although they are loyal and serve humans, it was only to ensure their survival. However there was no telling how long this would last and if there was a slightest chance, they might have already done so. Monster Rats do not lust for conquest or oppose mankind out of mere whim. They just want to ensure their colony’s survival and prosperity. Kiroumaru senses the Fiend closing in but passes them. He thinks the Fiend has reunited with Yakomaru as they are afraid they may launch a suicide attack. Because if either one of them survives, they could kill them all. Now that the other end of the tunnel is clear, they should use this chance to escape. However Saki believes they still have another chance.

Episode 25
Saki explains why the Fiend isn’t a Fiend. If she was, why didn’t she attack Yakomaru and his men? If they were using drugs, Tomiko and the rest would have done so a long time ago. Regarding her death feedback not working, it’s because the Monster Rats took her right after birth so she thinks herself as one. In short, her death feedback does not apply to humans but to Monster Rats. Kiroumaru borrows Satoru’s clothes. Then he dashes out to the Fiend while Saki follows him closely behind. The Fiend puts holes into Kiroumaru. He then unmasks himself and the Fiend goes berserk. The death feedback kills the Fiend. Saki also feels pain in her heart but she keeps telling herself she did not kill a human. She sees Kiroumaru dead with a happy face. Prior to agreeing to this strategy, Kiroumaru knows after this incident, all Monster Rats will be eradicated and hopes Saki will spare Giant Hornets’ queen. He wants at least their mother to survive. Satoru praises Saki as amazing but she thanks Shun. Shun who? Satoru then remembers him. In the aftermath, the duo capture Yakomaru and take him back to the village. Before his trial, they question why he killed so many innocent people. It was part of the plan. Once hostilities started, they had to go all the way to win. They are revolting against mankind because they are not their slaves. Did mankind not grant them autonomy? Mankind is only kind when they are in good mood. Otherwise, invoking their wrath would mean eradication of their colony. Saki realizes what Kiroumaru said is true. But had they not revolt, all this would not have happened. Yakomaru says it’s like the chicken or the egg dilemma. They just want to escape that fate as they are highly intelligent creatures on par with humans. The only difference is that they don’t have Cantus. Yakomaru knows what he says will earn him the death penalty but he knows his fate is sealed either way. As for Kiroumaru, Yakomaru thinks he is old fashioned and couldn’t see the truth. He had to dispose the queen because as long as she was in power, there will never be reforms. He did it not for power but for the sake of his colony. Satoru doesn’t believe him because he sacrificed his men mercilessly. Only when they achieve victory that their deaths will not be in vain. Since they lost, he deserves to die. He laments holding the trump card but fell for a simple trick. A chance like this will never come again. Saki wants him to apologize to all the innocent people he killed. He will do so provided if she apologizes to his kind that they crushed mercilessly.

Saki narrates what happened to her parents from survivors. When they left town to release all the Tainted Cats, everyone was in panic because Shisei’s body was hung on the Holy Barrier. Though the Tainted Cats couldn’t stop the Fiend, they manage to slow it down. Her parents then ran to the library to burn away all the books they deem dangerous to the enemy but the smoke drew the enemy’s attention. Saki believed her parents did not die in vain. As the tide was in Monster Rats’ favour, Yakomaru acted swiftly by burning down the Temple of Purity. All the priests perished and those villagers who sought refuge also died. Yakomaru was able to use information he gathered to track Saki and the rest down. Yakomaru goes on trial and asserts his name is Squealer and doesn’t want to use the name bequeathed by them humans. He considers himself not a beast but a human. This causes everyone to laugh. Squealer curses them that such evil will not go unpunished and someone in the future will take his place and carry on his cause. The judge passes the death sentence as giving him peace and sentences him to an eternal and slow death filled with pain. The Department of Exospecies Control became a direct subdivision of the Ethics Committee so Saki now serves both departments. Her job was to save the Monster Rat species and at least the queen of Giant Hornets. Later, she comes across a strange document which tells the origins of Monster Rats’ name. Their distant ancestors were naked mole rats and she thought it is funny that their scientific name, Homocephalus Glaber is almost similar to Homo Sapiens. It’s like as though they mixed humans and mole rats. She also found another document which tells how the change in writing of certain words became Monster Rats and that what had something to do with sinister.

Because Satoru couldn’t get Squealer’s words out of his head, he researched the genome of Monster Rats which was previously prohibited by the Code of Virtue. He found out Monster Rats and naked mole rats have different number of genes. Although mole rats’ features were inserted into their genes, something else was used as a base. The only other species that shared the same number of genes with them are humans or olive tree. I guess they aren’t made of wood so what does that leave us? Yup. Monster Rats were originally humans. For the sake of peace, those with Cantus programmed their DNA to include death feedback and attack inhibition. But those without Cantus became a problem because they are not bound by this and started oppressing those with Cantus. To stop this problem, they changed those people into beasts by inserting mole rats’ DNA into theirs and also to maintain their privilege and class (the reason why Monster Rats are made to look ugly). Saki thought they should have died from death feedback since they had killed so many but Satoru says it won’t because they never considered them human. They weren’t anyway. Saki goes to the museum where everything from the war is put on display, including Squealer who has turned into some hideous blob still in pain. She thinks he has suffered enough and is going to end this. First she reminisces the times when she first met him and their other ‘adventures’ together when they were kids. Even that night long ago when they ran together from Kiroumaru, she knew he was a liar and reported to him. Saki then uses her Cantus to burn Squealer. To avoid serious punishment, she gave a reason she was in a fit of anger. Vengeful fury. Soon, Saki makes her case to the committee of the colonies to be spared, including Giant Hornets. Then Saki and Satoru tie the knot. Ten years down the road, they are raising Tainted Cats (or Tainted Kittens rather). Soon they’ll be raising a kid of their own in this world. They hope when their child grows up, society will be a better place. Wondering if they can change, Satoru is confident they can. They must. They hope an object of fear will change into one of hope.

Brave New World
When I first started watching this series, it gave me lots of frights. I never thought it was going to have horror elements and I know I would have avoided it had I knew if it was going to scare me. So much so to a point I almost had sleepless nights and feared of having nightmares! I know such horror elements won’t be anything to veterans but I am really averse to anything horror. I also fear I will have to sit through the rest of the series with such horror setting. But after Shun’s death and the time skip that brings in the new arc, the story now seems less scary and it got more interesting than I expected it to be and with each passing episode, the more it draws me into the story. Therefore the second half was more bearable for me and I was able to sit through watching the series without having to worry about anything that will frighten me. Although the Monster Rats may be ugly and menacing, they aren’t as scary as Tainted Cats, Fiend or Karma Demon. I can think of so because when the series began, I knew nothing. So when Tainted Cats or Copycats were introduced, they were portrayed as very scary creatures and thus striking fear in me. Once I got to know things better, they don’t seem that scary anymore like when the cats were tamely sitting beside Tomiko later on in the series.

So watching till the end of this series, I can say that this is quite an interesting and engaging series and the little horror part in the beginning was just the little turn off I had. It is quite well paced and divided into several time periods which also serves as the arc for the series. However, aside from the horror part, the beginning was also hard on me because of the explanation and terms. I never read the novel so there were many things that I find it hard to understand. This was made a little confusing in the first few episodes whereby there is some sort of flashback of how the current state of humanity came to be with lots of blood spilled, lives lost and sacrifice. Not that I could fully understand it too when I watched it several times. I basically have an idea what is going on but if I were too think deeper and more analytical about it, I think I would be lost. The most confusing part for me was when the kids first stumbled upon the Minoshiro. What’s the use of having a library that could store every data when a dumb guy like me can’t comprehend most of it? Maybe they should put a programme that allows it to translate it into layman terms.

Despite such difficult terms, I find the concept of such to be interesting. For instance, imagine a world that would be almost crime free if everyone had that death feedback. If you kill somebody, you will pay the ultimate price with your own life via instant death. I think this is quite a cool feature to stem heinous murders. At first it was despicable to learn how the town handles in disposing of their children, making it look like they’ve gone missing. But once the full truth is known, I personally would still say it is not the best method but I guess it is the most effective. I suppose there is this saying if you want to nip the problem, nip it at the bud. So far they have been very careful in assuring Fiends and Karma Demons never appear for a long time till a nefarious plot by the Monster Rats came into play. It is sad that those kids who were disposed of never got a chance to live life to the fullest because of the early symptoms they show, they have been marked to be disposed of. It’s like they’ve been guilty for a crime that hadn’t commit. Like Minority Report. Like a child who inherited AIDS from his/her infected mother. But would you risk it? Better be safe and sorry. Thus, it is with mixed feelings that such a method is used to maintain peace and stability for hundreds of years. Were there no other ways? If they had, I’m sure the adults would have figured it out a long time ago.

Maybe it is because I do not fully comprehend about the terms like death feedback, it made me baffled at times. For instance, when the Fiend killed Kiroumaru, the death feedback only takes effect when she realizes she killed her own fellow Monster Rat. What does this mean? If she had been thinking what she had killed was human all along, the death feedback would not have activate. This shows that it is all only in the mind. So if you know how to trick this, then you can definitely avoid the deadly effects of death feedback, right? For example, if you are going to be a murderous serial killer, all you need to do is psycho yourself that those you are going to kill or have killed are not human. They are lowly scums lower than water fleas. This should do the trick, right? Just like what Satoru said too. If Monster Rats were once created using human genes, then technically they are evolved (or devolved, depending on the way you look at it) human beings. And yet humans have been eradicating their colonies for hundreds of years as penalty and yet not get death feedback since they never considered them to be humans. Maybe that’s why researching on their origins was banned. Imagine what will happen when people start to realize Monster Rats are humans. Instant death. Clearly this shows it is all in the mind.

Although this series does not really explain how humans obtain magic or how Monster Rats come into existence (not at least till the very final scenes), both are very crucial and main themes of this series. With humans being such fragile creatures, this show makes us ponder if we have what it takes to survive this planet in the long run and not become extinct. The way we see this town handling the ridding ‘problem kids’ shows that humans are indeed unpredictable and weak. Despite having magic, it can still backfire and cause lots of problems and turn deadly if not kept in check. It was odd to find that another intelligent creatures walking on the same planet as we do being submissive to us and treating us as Gods. Alas it was just a facade and like any other race, they want to ensure their survival even if this means being submissive for the time being, waiting for the perfect moment to turn the tables. And they almost came close to doing it as seen. What Squealer said that they are being on par with humans is quite true. What is it that makes us humans think we are the most superior beings on Earth? Is it out judgment, perceptive and stereotypes that gives us the right to judge others? Consider if humans and Monster Rats swapped places, I don’t think it will be any different because humans too will one day revolt against Monster Rats if ever a chance rises. Likewise, had Squealer’s plan been successful and Monster Rat taken over Earth, they would become oppressive and treat humans the same way they were once treated. So it’s a vicious cycle. But seeing how such creatures could easily manipulate, deceive and beat us using our past knowledge and inventions are truly scary. It is like as though they are in place to become the next humans. If human is a word to mean the most superior creatures that stands above all on the face of this planet, that is. If Apocalypse won’t come early, can you imagine Earth being overrun by such creatures? Homo Sapiens would become how we perceived dinosaurs to be. It’s scary. It’s unthinkable. It’s provoking. But it’s worth something to think about if we do not evolve to be stronger and are content with the way things are. Weak, and you’re out. It’s nature’s law of the jungle. Survival of the fittest.

For Saki as the main heroine, she has gone through many hardships and an adventure of a lifetime that will change her outlook of things in the future. She might be a strong willed person but she is still human. After having watch her friends go missing one by one, she finds it hard if she could go on and maintain her sanity. Even at times that call for harsh action, she still manages to show her kindness. Maybe because more violence or punishment won’t get them anywhere. Thankfully she has Satoru who has always been by her side to keep her going and they both support each other very well. After so many heart stopping incidents, she has become stronger and better, taking the first bold step in changing the future. Instilling fear into kids may be an effective way for many to stay within the lines. But when you have so much fear, won’t your heart not be at ease at all? Notice the gloomy setting of this town? At least for the adults. Kids will be kids and at their age are still carefree till they grow up and learn to become an adult. With Saki as the new head, hopefully things would be better for future generations for both humans and Monster Rats.

In the end, Saki and Satoru are the only main characters who survived from start till finished. Every other supporting characters even those who made their short cameos perished somewhere along the way. What a grim outlook. Reiko became the first ‘victim’ and was never heard of ever again. I wonder if Saki and Satoru who finally remember Shun, will they remember her? We didn’t even remember her, right? Guilty as charged. Then Saki had to watch her first love Shun die due to some unstoppable Cantus leak and had his memories of him removed. Technically he isn’t dead since he occasionally appears in Saki’s dreams so it’s like he’s living in her heart. I don’t know how Maria and Mamoru survived after they ran away. Either they moved to another town or they really become Tarzan and Jane of the wilderness. I wonder how they died at the hands of Squealer, seeing they can use their Cantus to just turn the Monster Rats into bloodbath. Unless they got their guard down. Maybe. Because it was at a time after Maria gave birth so it’s like killing 2 birds with a stone. Thinking of the child they had, if that is the case, I just thought Maria was just a teenager when she bore her first child, right? That means right after they ran away they must have had sex. Ah, I remember what the Minoshiro said about humans and stress… On several occasions, Saki could have lost Satoru too but I guess it won’t be fun to see the heroine being alone so I guess it is a good thing Satoru is as tough a survivor as she is. What about Yoshimi? I thought there would be something more to shed a light on her mysterious disappearance but seeing how things are revealed towards the end, I don’t think where she went or ended up didn’t matter. We have an idea what fate dealt her so it probably wasn’t worth to bring up such memories again. Even the all powerful and mysterious Shisei succumbed to his fate. And I thought I get to see more of him later on but I guess even he has his limits. Tomiko is a great lady but too bad she didn’t survive long enough. I guess she is lucky to have lived over 200 years old and even luckier to escape unscathed when she encountered her first fiend. It’s time to move on and pass the baton to somebody younger and more capable.

It’s hard to pin Squealer as the villain although he acts very much like an antagonist throughout the series. It was very evident from the start that he could not be trusted. There were many signs to indicate that he could betray our protagonists any time and each time he smoothly had some sort of excuse to back him up. You can tell by the way he talks to them. Despite speaking fluently in human tongue and polite at first, whenever the humans disagree with his suggestions, you would notice that he makes a short pause with that unhappy look on his face before agreeing to their ways. It’s like as though he is forced to listen and acknowledge. Would you not if you were in his shoes? Thankfully humans still have their gut feelings, something I guess science and technology couldn’t explain, to rely on. They know better than to fully trust him and maintain some reservations. At times, it proves useful because they barely got away with their lives by the skin of their teeth. Despite Squealer’s unacceptable actions to slaughter humans and he got what he deserved, like I said, if you had a chance to change fate, would you not take a gamble? As long as differences of superiority exist, I suppose we can forget about talking things peacefully over picnic. Kiroumaru lives up to his honourable pride till the end despite at times I doubted him if he is in cohorts with Squealer. Because he too is a Monster Rat albeit from a different colony and sometimes when he smirks, it looks suspicious enough that it makes you wonder if there is something evil going on behind that smile and mind. So it proves that not every Monster Rat is despicable. Same case with humans. There are good ones and there are well, erm, not so good ones. Like Hino whom we could tell is just a bloodthirsty Monster Rat hater. He got killed by the thing he hates most. Isn’t that ironic?

The art and drawing make the characters look a little bit cartoonish although you can recognize some aspects of typical Japanese anime. Especially in the early parts of the series when the protagonists are young, their kiddie version seems to make them a bit cartoonish and thus a little cute. As they grow older, of course more handsome and prettier as the young teenagers they turn into, they have that slight anime-look. Though generally the design of the characters are simple and not much detailed. I think I’m saying this out of bias as a human because I think all the Monster Rats and other odd creatures like Minoshiro and Balloon Dog look ugly. Well, maybe except for Kiroumaru because his mane gives off that respectable feel like a lion. But nevertheless he is still to a certain extent, ugly. Forgive me. In a way, it gives a little horror feel. Well, I don’t expect cute creatures to be in such anime. It would be such a mismatch to see them in a bloodbath. As for the background and scenery, some are quite nice and beautifully rendered. Despite being in a dystopian future, I can’t help feel it has this fantasy-like feel to it. Maybe it’s because of Cantus, Monster Rats and the lush greenery of the village. Say, I’m not sure about other towns but doesn’t this one feel like back in the old times where no modern future gadgets or inventions are seen? Maybe that is what we really call living the simple life. Yeah. Who needs iPhones, iPads and iPods anyway?

Because of the time skip and different points in time, the main characters have a pair of different seiyuus to reflect the period they are in. Satoru, Mamoru and Shun (Kanako Toujou, Haruka Kudou and Mai Toudou respectively) have females voicing them when they are 12 years old and then switch to a mature voice when they hit 14 years old and above (Yuuki Kaji, Motoki Takagi and Ayumu Murase respectively). Oddly, I thought female characters usually have only one seiyuu but in the case for Saki, she also has two of them. Risa Taneda (Yukari in Yuyushiki) when she is 12 years old but Aya Endo (Sky Raker in Accel World) serving as the more mature sounding woman (as I found out the narrator’s voice belonged to her and supposedly around 36 years old). The only main character without double seiyuus is Maria and is voiced by Kana Hanazawa all the way. Yui Horie had a cameo as Reiko. But because she was disposed off as early as the first episode, I never really got the chance to spot her. Other casts include Daisuke Namikawa as Squealer/Yakomaru (Waver in Fate/Zero), Hiroaki Hirata as Kiroumaru (Sanji in One Piece), Yoshiko Sakaibara as Tomiko (Kate in Chrno Crusade), Kousuke Toriumi as Inui (Gennousuke in Basilisk), Takanori Hoshino as Shisei (Shido Fuyuki in Getbackers), Tomokazu Sugita as Rijin (Gintoki in Gintama), Miki Itou as Mizuho (Fujimura in Fate/Stay Night), Sakiko Tamagawa as Minoshiro (Natsumi in You’re Under Arrest), Yuri Amano as Hiromi (Ifurita in El Hazard series), Sanae Kobayashi as Okano (Lucy in Elfen Lied) and Ryota Ohsaka as Ryou (Kiri in Sket Dance).

I guess with every anime that comes out now, the opening and ending credits is a must, right? Sometimes it has become an art and thus if you buy those DVDs, you get clean opening and ending animations without those credits interrupting your admiration of the ‘beautiful’ artwork. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that this series doesn’t have an opening theme. In a way, it breaks away from such ‘routine’ so it is a little refreshing in that sense. Just like how One Piece recently over the past few years never had an ending theme. I suppose they can save some cost by not featuring a song. Oops… But there is an ending theme, though. The first one is Wareta Ringo by Risa Taneda. I thought it feels out of place although it doesn’t sound bad, especially the stuttering guitar parts are quite creatively played out. After watching at the pace of this anime, hearing such song really feels odd but it is a welcoming relief (at least for me) since it does take away the tension especially for the earlier episodes. I thought the series finally decided to put an opening theme at the end of Mamoru-runs-away arc but it actually serves more as an introduction for the second ending theme, Yuki Ni Saku Hana by Kana Hanazawa. So technically that episode 16 is the only episode we’ve got both an opening and ending theme. The song sounds like it has tragic and sadness in it, which is quite befitting at the way this series is going. There is some background music too but the one that has child voices and played usually in the beginnings of the episodes has that creepy and ominous feel to it. It’s like a choir of children singing for a temple hymn.

Knowledge is such a power thing and it could also be a dangerous thing if it falls into the wrong hands and used for the wrong purposes. Humanity has advanced so much only to regress backwards and even in danger of being replaced by another creature. And the ironic part is that men were the ones who tampered with DNA and genes, trying to play God and create such intelligent creatures. Just backfired, huh? We reap what we sew. I just hope that one day that everyone in this world and the universe (assuming there are other intelligent life forms out there) would just get along and live a non-violent life where you don’t have to worry if you’re going to be the next on the hit list and free if your kind is going to be eradicated soon. Not possible in my life time? Being human is complicated and frustrating. No powers, got problems. Have powers, also have bigger problems. If reincarnation does exist, maybe I want to be a rock at the bottom of the sea. Life would be so much easier and simpler then.

Shikabane Hime

July 7, 2013

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

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

Shikabane Hime: Aka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shikabane Hime: Kuro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I know I am weak against ghost stories and yet, here I am having a go at Tasogare Otome x Amnesia OVA. Did I not learn about getting spooked the last time? Despite the series wasn’t really a full horror and supernatural ghostly series, I still got scared. Maybe it’s that inner pride of me to finish what I started. Yeah, right. As some dubbed this the thirteenth episode (the unaired episode that was bundled together with the DVD to get your money’s worth), we see the Paranormal Investigation Club investigate several mysteries around their school. Oh yes. Don’t forget that ghost girl Yuuko that tags along with them.

Demon Slaying Maiden
We see Kirie adamant to put a rest to this ‘ash throwing’ curse that has everyone in school worried. The culprit of course turns out to be Yuuko who is throwing fish feed in the fountain. To make matters worse, Teiichi is the one who is encouraging her! Kirie blows her top that she should stop otherwise people will come up with more ghost stories but Yuuko sees her as a bully. Having it until here, Kirie throws down a challenge that if she defeats her, she must behave. Kirie seems to have confidence in the race (Teiichi quips she’s fastest at running away) but to her surprise, Yuuko beats her flat!!! As for the other series of challenges that includes pop quiz, fashion, test of courage and cooking, Yuuko defeats Kirie in all of them!!! Wow!!! How can you beat a ghost anyway? What has Yuuko got to lose? Kirie uses her last resort. She performs some complicating looking exorcism and in the end… Nothing happens! She runs away in embarrassment while telling Yuuko to just go and die. She’s already dead…

Okonogi has brought a paper that contains hidden legends from a bygone era. Really? As there are ghost stories written on it, she thinks as a club, they should go and ascertain them since the mysteries were never heard before. First up, they enter an empty classroom supposedly to be the ghost legend of Youko. Not Yuuko? If a boy and a girl perform a certain ritual, a ghost called Youko will appear. If they are destined to be together, Youko will leave a message that will have them find happiness. Otherwise, the boy will be dragged with Youko to hell! Okonogi and Teiichi try it out but Yuuko thinks this is part of Okonogi’s plan to confess to him. Thus Yuuko cheekily writes “May you burn in hell!” and drags Teiichi away. Okonogi won’t let it happen and pulls his other hand. How long is this tug of war going to last? Teiichi may split into half, you know? So I guess it’s Kirie’s turn to intervene. Telling a Japanese version of King Solomon’s wisdom, the one who lets go of Teiichi’s hand is the one that truly loves him. But… The girls aren’t letting it go! Suck it up and be a man! Teiichi is in pain and the girls turn sadist because they love to see how cute he is squirming in pain! New awakening! Thank God that Teiichi is still in one piece and the girls almost ‘climaxed’. I hope they don’t get addicted to this new sick play. Next up is a monster that apparently eats you from head to toe. Kirie thinks it is her turn to shine and puts on some Index outfit, mix with eastern and western talisman. She’s bloody confident in slaying this demon and starts her chanting. Seems complicated. Seems convincing. Till nothing happens. Yuuko even felt bad and wears a demon mask out of pity just for her. She runs away in embarrassment and doesn’t need her pity!

Finally there is this story whereby 3 or more people shouldn’t get into this bathtub at the same time otherwise something terrible will happen. The bathtub looks wide and modern and nothing happens when the trio sits in. Noting that this bathtub is built after the new school building, it means there is an old bathtub that exists somewhere since the legend was written before that. True enough, they find a smaller wooden bathtub and it seems it can fit more than 3 people. They prepare the water and Kirie and Okonogi get in. Teiichi is embarrassed to get in with them despite Okonogi making a wooden barrier for the men’s section. That’s because they’re all naked! In the name of science they must! Since when was this a scientific experiment? If Okonogi’s ‘men need to have balls’ argument didn’t work out, Yuuko suggests she can cover his private parts while he makes his way over. Eventually Teiichi does but Kirie points out since Okonogi can’t see Yuuko, that means she saw every part of Teiichi naked, right? Oh dear. Okonogi looked so happy… So the trio sink in and nothing much happens despite Okonogi making some comments about their floating boobs. Then the water starts to rise… Actually it’s Yuuko getting into the tub, sitting next to Teiichi. She’s starting to get naughty with him so Kirie couldn’t stand it anymore and punches the wooden barrier. The entire tub breaks and everyone is left screaming the nakedness they are in.

In the aftermath, they deduce that the terrible thing that would happen is that the wood would break since it was already old. As Okonogi dries the paper, hidden words start to pop up. She remembers there was a group of students doing these kinds of activities before them and it’s a club that came before the third newspaper club that she now joins. That club made journals and picked up mystery and ghost stories. When the paranormal hype died down, the club president who took up journalism changed the purpose of the club and it became the current third newspaper club as known today. As they couldn’t find topics to put in the print they started creating ghost stories. So basically, they were lying and making them up, right? Thus the paper contains discarded ideas and the Youko ghost story seems to be created by a member who fell in love and the ritual was his idea to have a date with the girl he loves. So did they waste their time over nothing? Well, Yuuko thought she had fun. That night, the girls dress in their yukata and Kirie thought Teiichi was complimenting hers. Too bad it was Yuuko’s instead. So pissed. Just when Kirie thought Okonogi complimented hers, it felt like an insult because it’s like she’s trying to say she has no curves at all. Another running away in embarrassment for her. While Okonogi and Kirie go wild with the fireworks, Yuuko and Teiichi find precious time together. They are surprised there was a club before them that did paranormal investigations and Yuuko says there’s always something to keep it going. Not the ghost stories. But the search for love. Teiichi comments that although ghosts are scary, they have some romantic charm to them that attracts people. Take for example Yuuko’s case whereby her story has been told for decades. There’s some romantic charm in it, no? It’s also a reason why they are all here now.

I Ain’t Afraid Of No Ghosts…
Thankfully… There were no scary parts! Not that I was scared by a single bit out of my pants anyway. Because of that, it doesn’t feel that the series had lived up to its scary hype but that’s only because the scary part which was Yuuko’s amnesia and split personality has already been solved in the TV series. Oh, watching this OVA may have made you forget that Yuuko did have amnesia too. However as a series overall, I think the OVA isn’t bad in complementing the TV series. So I guess like in many OVAs these days, the extra episode is to have fun and make it enjoyable, a way to end and wind down the series. Therefore I was laughing and having ‘fun’ most of the time instead of being spooked.

The funniest person for this OVA goes to Kirie. It felt like she has become a clown. We know her as the serious girl who rarely gets the comical part. But here, it’s as though it is her destiny to become one.  Whether it is her failed exorcisms, running away and get disheartened that nobody goes after her or her reaction to insults about her body, she’s really a funny girl to watch. She is what makes this OVA overall very funny. Okonogi too had her moments but it is because we know her as a quirky girl so the impact isn’t really there as compared to Kirie. Yuuko is still cheeky and bumming around, teasing anyone whenever she gets the chance. Okonogi still can’t see her so I think Kirie will have her fun for some time. And more importantly both Teiichi and Yuuko continue to love each other. But it still bugs me how long this will last since Teiichi won’t be around forever. I know. Grow old, die and become a ghost like her. But he’ll be an old man by that time. But really. How do you date a ghost anyway?

There are lots of legends, myths, mysteries, folklores and ghost stories around the world and lack of proper documentation and passing down via word of mouth from generation to generation only distorts and twists everything. Whether you want to believe them or not it is really up to you. I wouldn’t say I totally believe in ghost stories but I don’t read much of them because of ‘that’ weakness of mine. Mysteries as seen in this OVA can turn out to be pretty lame or ‘nothing much’ when the truth is exposed. Be it science, common sense or just coincidence. So that is why as said by Teiichi, there is a certain charm when it is left as a mysterious ghost story. We all love a got spook, don’t we? Not me. Tell me a happy fairytale story instead. Please?

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia

November 4, 2012

I was never really into the horror genre and Tasogare Otome x Amnesia would have easily been given the slip had not I saw that ‘comedy’ genre in its listing. Yes, yes. In animes nowadays no matter if they’re dead serious or comedy is not its driving force, sometimes there will always be that short little comical gag to relief tension or because of the situation or circumstances. So while I had my fair share of a dozen episodes of horror (and at certain scenes almost made my heart stop – thank God I’m still alive), I guess I have to be grateful too that there are some comical scenes as well. Thanks for the few laughs. It was cute and funny. And also thanks for the few frightening scenes (read sarcasm). Hmm… Maybe my eyes were playing tricks on me because I don’t see that ‘comedy’ word anymore when I went back to the several sites to reconfirm this. Or did I saw the wrong show? Hope it wasn’t haunted or anything. Touch wood!

“I see dead people”. Heard of that famous line somewhere before? Apparently our main protagonist here can see dead people too. More accurately, just a single ghost. The ghost girl of his school. How, where, what, when or why this happen isn’t exactly the point. Besides having carved an infamous ghost story legend throughout the ages for those who have enrolled in this school, this ghost girl is funny too. She hangs around this dude because well, after all when nobody else could really see her so why waste your chance of ignoring him when you can have fun and mess around in his presence? It’s not like she’s a bad ghost. Just a bored ghost wandering and hanging around. Oh, did I mention this too? She has amnesia. In the sense she doesn’t remember how she died or her past. She doesn’t seem too bothered about it because she’s happy frolicking with him. But how long would that last? So okay, you’re a ghost and you have all eternity but seriously, when odd things begin to show up and that ghost stories aren’t just mere rumours (or are they?), then some investigation about her link to the past has to be done or else the haunting will go on and you won’t be able to move on. What will happen when her memories and past are discovered? That’s not funny, you know…

Episode 1
Momoe Okonogi lists in her diary about the paranormal activities that happened in school. Her pencil breaks as she changes a new one. Didn’t she notice her keychain moving by its own? But she did realize her cup now in a different spot! Maybe there’s a ghost!  A poltergeist! Or maybe she didn’t get enough sleep. She’s too deep in her monologue that she didn’t notice her own paper flying in mid-air. Isn’t it scary that she’s talking to herself like as though she’s talking to… A ghost?! Then she realizes her keychain falling over. Maybe there really is a poltergeist! Teiichi Niiya comes in and she tells him something may be really here with them. She’s starting to freak out but Teiichi is just trying to keep cool. But he’s acting pretty strange. Okonogi wonders if he could read her mind and it seems his ambiguous answer is spot on.  So does this mean he knows her feelings? To put it to a test, she asks a question via her mind. If she had only asked a simpler question. Duh… Kirie Kanoe comes in and doesn’t like the way they’re fooling around. She sits down and soon the Paranormal Investigations Club begins their activities. Okonogi wants to know if the club president is ever coming since she has never seen her. Speaking of which, Teiichi gets a call from the ‘president’ to say that she’s sick and not coming. Okonogi mentions about the result of her interview which leads her to a haunted lunch cart elevator. Though it is no longer in use, it is rumoured to have moved by itself. Suddenly the elevator starts working and this freaks Okonogi like hell. Before she knows it, Teiichi is kicked into the elevator! The next scenes are exactly a repeat from what we see at the beginning. Just that this is what really happened because indeed, there was another person in this room! A girl. Yuuko. We see Yuuko trying to get Okonogi’s attention by moving things but to no avail. Even if she did, she just freaked out by herself. Till Okonogi mentions Teiichi’s name and his great sense to see ghost that Yuuko decides to ‘haunt’ her by dropping that keychain. Teiichi comes in and isn’t amused to see Yuuko. Yeah, he sees dead people. Because Yuuko is toying with him, his answers to her seem like coincidence as though he is answering Okonogi. Then Kirie comes in and looks like she too can see Yuuko. The club meeting gets on the way and Yuuko is the ever missing president of Paranormal Investigations Club. So Yuuko tells Teiichi to feign that phone call… Then at the elevator, Yuuko starts it up to prove it is working properly but it freaks Okonogi out. Because she is clinging so close to Teiichi, Yuuko kicks that guy into the elevator and goes in with him.

Continuing off from that part, the cramped space isn’t really meant for 2 people. Heck it isn’t even meant for people. Or a ghost. Mind boggling thing: If Yuuko’s a ghost, why is she stuck with him in the elevator? Maybe she wants to… Teiichi realizes Yuuko must have been the one who spread those rumours about the elevator but she says he is the first person she abducted. Yuuko purposely lets him feel her body and doesn’t hesitate to say she loves touching him. That’s because he is the only one who can touch her. Others pass through her, look through her like as though she doesn’t exist (duh!). Maybe she’s lonely. Teiichi admits she likes touching her too and gropes her breast. The elevator reaches the bottom and opens. Well, Kirie saw what that pervert is doing. Okonogi thinks a bad ghost is following Teiichi and wonders if it’s Yuuko’s doing because her name appears in lots of ghost stories. She lets them know of her story that has Yuuko in it. She believes she is buried on one of the hills behind the school. She brings them there so Yuuko tags along but says she doesn’t remember the place nor has she been here. Okonogi brings them to a spot underneath a tree and true enough, a little tombstone with Yuuko’s name on it. Could it be true? But Yuuko insists she has never seen this before and that Teiichi should know better her body lies underneath the club room. Teiichi tries to tell Okonogi that probably Yuuko’s body isn’t here so she concludes Yuuko must have gone to this school at some point and someone erected this here in her memory. She feels relieved thinking this is a romantic ghost story than a scary rumour. Yuuko is not amused and kicks over the tombstone! Oh sh*t! Okonogi freaking out big time! After she runs away, Yuuko proceeds to show Teiichi a beautiful scenery overlooking the school. Yuuko claims though she said she has never come here before, perhaps she has been here after all. Teiichi finds a pair of bells near the tombstone and narrates there are popular stories at Seikyou Academy of a girl named Yuuko, who is a ghost with amnesia and also the president of the Paranormal Investigations Club. Before he knew it, he was stuck with her.

Episode 2
As narrated, Seikyou’s 60 years of history means the numerous expansions have turned the buildings into one giant maze. Abandoned classes became storerooms and hallways turned to dead ends. Teiichi heard rumours of a ghost in the old building especially a room with a large size mirror. He is shocked to see Yuuko. From the way she said things, it is as though he is her first visitor after a long time. Indeed. She admits she’s a ghost! Freaky! Teiichi suddenly sees gruesome visions and to ascertain Yuuko isn’t a ghost, he tries to touch her. Of all parts, he touched her breasts… Feels good? Hell, he could touch her! Yuuko explains she doesn’t know when or how she died. She can’t remember her past life nor is she interested to find out. So it doesn’t matter if she’s a ghost or not. But Yuuko clings on to Teiichi since she could touch him as well. She changes into her old school uniform (which is what we will see her in always – besides, does she really need to take off her clothes? Can’t she just change with a snap of a finger?) and wishes to let her do anything for who knows when he won’t ever be able to see and touch her again. She gets an idea for him to remember her and that is to kiss his forehead! She’s messing with him. Besides, doesn’t that feel like haunting him instead? She also mentions about an old story whereby a girl was trapped by a curse in this school. Thinking that girl is Yuuko, Teiichi sees more horrifying visions of perhaps Yuuko in distress when she was alive. He remembers the mirror and rushes back there to smash it. Behind it are stairways leading down to a dark basement and at the bottom, true enough, Yuuko’s skeletal remains. Yuuko freaks out. Now that he has seen her body, she feels… Embarrassed?! But that’s just bones, right? Well, she thinks it’s the ultimate nakedness and now that he’s seen it… Pervert! Teiichi narrates than an accident left her trapped and she was never rescued. Soon Yuuko forms the Paranormal Investigations Club since she is now somewhat interested in finding her past. Guess whom she roped in as a member? So, is Yuuko really haunting him?

Yuuko messes and flirts around with Teiichi in the clubroom till they land in a compromising position. Till Okonogi barges in for help. Teiichi panics but Yuuko says she can’t see her. Apparently people who don’t keep her presence in mind can’t see her. In other words, Teiichi cares enough about her to be able to see her. Okonogi is worried that Yuuko is going to kill her! Eh?! Seems she was playing this ritual alone, Hide the Demon whereby it involves putting a name on a doll. Since it’s a game for one, nobody will come to find you and there’s only one way to end the game and that’s to tell the doll it’s over. If you fail to do so, the game goes on forever and you’ll be pursued by whatever you put on that doll for eternity. Okonogi stabbed the doll with a blade and when she counted to 10, the doll went missing! Ever since, she felt someone following her and at this rate she may end up getting killed. Okonogi thought Teiichi has summoned a ghost when he is actually ‘interacting’ with Yuuko. So Yuuko comes up with that handphone idea to talk to the ‘ghost president’ and accept the case in hopes she could find a connection to her past. Okonogi is given a charm but to Teiichi’s dismay, it’s a fake charm made by Yuuko herself! Plus, why is that doll sitting in the room with Yuuko! She was walking around and saw this doll with her name so she couldn’t leave it and took it. So this whole thing was her fault to begin with?! How can he explain this to Okonogi? Yuuko says Hide the Demon is a form of autohypnosis. Due to the cram space and tension, it increases her anxiety and hallucinations of her subconscious. She could see things that didn’t exist and thus possible for things you can see to catch or kill you. How can you fight something that is all in just one’s mind? Yuuko says they’re going ghost busting. Okonogi sees a fearsome ghost before her. That’s because of her anxiety and fear when in actual fact it’s just playful Yuuko. Teiichi acts as the hero to pull her away and explains the ritual is used to summon demons and the doll was haunted by a ghost (all bluffs actually). Then he uses a real charm (which is of course a fake) to exorcise the ghost and put her heart at ease. Great acting, eh? Yuuko explains people who are afraid of supernatural will make them see what they want to see. Okonogi’s fear made Yuuko look like a demon. When you’re afraid, anything can look like a demon. Next day as the duo lament there is no connection of her past, Okonogi barges in and is very grateful to him. Too grateful. Yuuko could sense it’s just more than grateful feelings. Oh boy. She just leans on his back.

Episode 3
Yuuko wants to show Teiichi her summer clothes but it seems that guy has some other business to attend to. What’s this? A love letter he’s got? Actually, a girl wants to talk to him regarding ‘the girl behind him’. Oh… That girl turns out to be Kirie and she warns Teiichi he is being haunted by an evil spirit and to stay far away. When this school was just completed, a female student died in an accident and became a ghost that lurks the hallways. She searches for those who would share her pain and drags them to the other side, thus Spirited Away. Teiichi doesn’t believe her and asks if she could really see Yuuko. She just replies if she sees something that she shouldn’t, she’ll pretend she can’t see it at all! After Kirie leaves, Yuuko suddenly pops up behind Teiichi. Yikes! And starts sneezing. Ghosts get cold from the rain too? Drying themselves at the infirmary, seems Yuuko was worried that Teiichi didn’t show up at the club room since she heard stories of Spirited Away (from club member Okonogi who was eagerly talking to herself and waiting for Teiichi) and thought he became a victim. Then she asks Teiichi to describe her. Long black hair, pale white skin, beautiful face. Thank goodness that’s how Yuuko saw herself. Then she starts flirting over him but Kirie puts a stop to their unholy act. Branding Teiichi a pathetic idiot for falling for her wiles, she is going to make him see Yuuko’s true form. Teiichi doesn’t believe so he is made to look behind. Dirt coloured skin, twisted face, ugly hatred… OMG! Kirie takes Teiichi out and run. Was that really her?! Outside the hallways, Kirie introduces herself. Teiichi notices her surname similar to Yuuko’s and she reveals Yuuko is her blood relative. More accurately, Yuuko was her grandma’s older sister who died when she was 15 years old. When Kirie heard about the rumours, she thought it was just typical ghost stories. Till she found a photograph in grandma’s room. Ever since, she started seeing this Yuuko ghost and was as beautiful as in the picture. Initially she didn’t want to interact or make contact and ignored her but soon realized her mistake. She saw her true form, the regrets she had. All the sadness, hatred and repulsive bitterness, Yuuko turns out to be the girl in the Spirited Away story. Teiichi mentions Yuuko told him she had no regrets whatsoever. Lies! Those haunted by her will be Spirited Away and he saw her beautiful side because of his pervertness. Well, remember Yuuko did say people see her the way they want to? Teiichi mentions about Yuuko’s body and Kirie says they need to do something about it. Since Yuuko is coming, they have to run again.

In the room where the mirror once stand (now it’s covered with planks of wood), Kirie breaks open when Yuuko comes up behind Teiichi and curses her for stealing Teiichi away from her. Kirie became frightened that she ran into the basement. Teiichi couldn’t look at Yuuko so she realizes how terrible she must have looked. She feels sad that because of him, her lonely and meaningless days were over and her everyday life changed for the better. She was happy he accepted her and apologizes. Teiichi grabs her hand and admits he was afraid. Afraid to see the truth and pretended not to see and convince himself it wasn’t scary. Then he describes the Yuuko he remembers. The beautiful Yuuko with long black hair and pale white skin. Yuuko turns into that form but Teiichi needs to examine her more closely. Yikes! Her corpse that is. In the dark basement, Teiichi finds Kirie crying though she gave excuses she tripped, bla, bla, bla. Yeah, yeah. Pointing the flashlight at Yuuko’s corpse, he examines and finds her leg broken. She probably fell to this unused basement and wasted away, unable to move and never to be found. But something ahead caught their attention. A mini shrine with lots of seals around it! The duo emerge from the basement as Kirie admits her suspicions were wrong but they are not sure if Yuuko is an evil spirit. Kirie sees Yuuko haunting behind the chair, freaks out and runs. Yuuko confirms with Teiichi that he has examined every part of her body. She felt so embarrassed that she could die! Wait a minute. Isn’t she already dead? Kirie walks along and wonders if Yuuko wasn’t an evil spirit, then what was the evil spirit that she saw? Oh, there it is lurking… So when Teiichi returns to the club room, Okonogi tells about the other Spirited Away story. Apparently this school became cursed since it was built on a shrine where it once stood. The curse was why the girl who died from the accident was Spirited Away. Does this mean Yuuko was the one who was Spirited Away? Kirie comes into the club noting Yuuko is still involved in this and nothing has been solved yet. I guess that’s her way of saying she’s joining the club.

Episode 4
What’s this? They’re starting off with swimsuit fanservice of Kirie and Okonogi? Though Okonogi is pretty much well endowed, she wants to touch Kirie’s slender legs. In return she can touch her boobs and butt… WTF?! Anyway Kirie organizes a summer camp for the club since mysteries are bound to crop up at school on a summer night. On what basis? But will Kirie herself be alright? They’ll be staying at the old night duty room and Okonogi thought she had her first paranormal activity when the tap suddenly runs blood! Actually it’s just rust as the pipes aren’t in use for so long. They read the night duty log which records its own paranormal activity of something knocking on the door! So it’s decided they’ll investigate it tonight. However Teiichi notices Yuuko depressed and not her usual prankster self. While waiting for night fall, the trio swim in the pool. Okonogi is to show off her swimsuit when Yuuko suddenly twists Teiichi’s head the other way! Okonogi got the wrong idea that her swimsuit was so bad that it broke her heart and change into something less showy. Night comes as Teiichi and Kirie go patrolling. Okonogi is eager to stay back believing the paranormal incident will occur first when someone is alone. That also means she’ll be the first victim, right? Oh shi… While walking, Kirie explains she did this camp to investigate as she thinks this school might house another ghost. When she first saw Yuuko, she was the one as seen now and thought that ugly side of hers was her true form as an evil spirit. So when she saw this shadow thingy, that’s when she started seeing Yuuko as something hideous but as proven it was just all in her head. So what was that thing she saw? She used to run away alone but now has an ally. Did Teiichi get all that? Well, suddenly she realizes Teiichi has gone missing! Seems Yuuko has whisked him away to another room. She is upset that he ‘abandoned’ her for days (well, it’s the summer vacation) and when he returned, all he did was hang around with those girls and never commented on her swimsuit! He’s all she’s got. He apologizes but also mentions about Kirie being able to see her. Yuuko doesn’t like her. Period. She wants him to touch her again so this time they hold hands. When they return, they see Kirie crying alone in the hallway. Was she really up to this? Heading back to the night duty room, thinking Okonogi is asleep, Yuuko decides to pound the door to wake her up. Suddenly they heard a loud crash. Rushing outside to the window, they see Okonogi’s face stuck to the window! She heard some loud banging on the door, got frightened and stormed out! Haha. Then to shoo away the ghosts, she thinks of playing cards but realizes something freaky when Kirie distributes for 4 people. Cue for Okonogi to freak out!

That night Teiichi can’t sleep so he hears Yuuko remembering she did enter this place. She was the one responsible for the door knocking prank. As it could get cold in winter, she would knock on the door and the unsuspecting teacher would open and she would sneak in. As time passes, the opening stopped since who wouldn’t be afraid of the ghost knockings, right? The room became abandoned. Too bad that story made Teiichi fell asleep. Then she remembers the Rock of Curses. She wakes him up in the dead of the night to go investigate it. Apparently a teacher found it but got targeted by the curse. He quit school to try and escape from its curse. It is rumoured that if you write the name of the person you hate on it, the curse will kill them. But if you see your name written on it, you’ll die from the curse. Yuuko guides Teiichi as they leap through building rooftops and crawl through windows to get to the old building courtyard. Teiichi sees the rock and it’s filled with names. To his horror, his name is written there! How in the world?! He starts panicking he’s going to die from the curse when he sees Yuuko holding up a black marker pen. She wrote his name on the rock. Why that… She woke him up just for this prank?! Good scare, wasn’t it? Yuuko explains curses aren’t real. The bad feelings you get may be the curse. She is sure people presumed the teacher got cursed and quit and perhaps some event made it seemed like there was a curse involved. People don’t realize they aren’t able to choose whether or not to believe something. If they subconsciously believe something, thus there lies the potential for a curse. She apologizes to Teiichi that though the Rock of Curses does exist, it’s just an excuse. Having Teiichi float in the swimming pool and watching the sunrise, she never knew the other face of the school as night passes her by in an instant. She thanks Teiichi because of him noticing her presence, she realized this. Oh… And that shadow thingy is lurking next to Kirie as she sleeps!!! FFUUUUUUUU!!!!!!

Episode 5
It’s the school cultural festival and guess what Paranormal Investigation Club is doing? A haunted house… They have a real ghost, right? It’s Yuuko’s idea by the way. She’ll be playing the ghost too. Since she continues to flirt with Teiichi, Kirie feels irritated and takes Okonogi away since the latter suggested they should look for things to decorate the place. Kirie was so irritated that when she clams down, she realizes they’re lost. Teiichi wonders how Yuuko is going to scare them since others can’t see her. She’ll create an environment that makes them see things and they will see their fear before them. Though, I don’t know how making Teiichi undoing her obi would make it happen. Maybe she just wants to have fun? Kirie and Okonogi find themselves outside the old science lab preparation room. Okonogi knows a story about an anatomical model without a heart. A janitor was closing up and felt a presence behind him. It was the model and when morning comes, they found the janitor’s remains and his heart ripped from his chest! Okonogi then bumps into the model and her fears took over. She panics she is going to die when Kirie hugs her. She tells her it is just an object that doesn’t move and it won’t rip her heart either. Okonogi calms down and praises how amazing and beautiful she is. Kirie denies the latter. A mouse scoots by her feet, giving Kirie the jumps before a skeleton model drop and ‘sit’ by her. Okonogi shoos the mouse away as she sees Kirie crying and scared (I think the earlier part when she hugged Okonogi, it was to cover up her fear too). It’s her turn to comfort. Meanwhile the haunted house is such a success that any boy or girl that went in, ran out screaming in fear! Awesome realism! I don’t want to know what they saw. Kirie and Okonogi drag the model back and find themselves back in the main building bustling with the cultural activities. They participate in some of the booths but isn’t it weird for others to see the model tag along? Scary. Okonogi bumps into her friends Hitomi Nishikawa and Manako Kawatou. Seems they have a plan and want Okonogi to cooperate. That plan first involves stripping reluctant Kirie and then putting on maid clothes complete with a wig and cat ears. Hey, I thought she looked like Yuuko! Well, she’s her descendent. Anyway she’s looking super cute! Her genuine embarrassment makes her even cuter! Everybody gives her the thumbs up and wants her to serve them!!!

At the end of the day as Kirie rests, she takes a look at herself in the mirror and finds herself pretty cute too. Till she realizes the resemblance. Feeling irritated, she runs back to the haunted house. Inside as Kirie notes how much she hates this face, Yuuko confronts her and wonders if it’s because it reminds herself of Yuuko. Or maybe she can’t stop thinking about her and admires her. Kirie denies so Yuuko says it’s because she’s dead and one shouldn’t trust the dead. Kirie runs out and bumps into Teiichi. He can tell she is Kirie. She asks what he likes about Yuuko. She has all the things she has (maybe except the boobs) and he likes Yuuko better than her? Even if she’s prettier and girlier, you can’t deny the fact that she’s a ghost. Well, Teiichi didn’t understand what she’s trying to get because falling in love doesn’t have to do of whether you’re a ghost or not. Or aliens or gods… Kirie realizes and gives out a good laugh and teases him for not being normal to say he loves a ghost. Teiichi flusters because he could almost see Kirie’s breasts from the low cut of her dress. Though she is embarrassed, she mentions there isn’t anything to see. He notes even so, she’s still a girl. Realizing that you see what you fear in this haunted house, Kirie walks back in, pushing Yuuko aside. Realizing it’s the first time she touched her, what she saw earlier wasn’t Yuuko but herself whom she was unable to love. Then it hit her if the illusion was the work of Yuuko, then she must’ve been here the entire time and heard everything! In the end, seems Yuuko got the heart of the model (don’t ask where she picked it up from) hanging as the decoration. Okonogi deduces since the model can’t move, it charged to where its heart is. Thus, a heartless anatomical model with a heart. Huh? What? I don’t understand.

Episode 6
Rumours of the Red Woman is gaining ground. It is believed if you stay late after school, she will kill you and drain all your blood, thus the colour red. The haunted house experiences no business today. I guess everybody got scared off their pants, eh? Till a girl shows up because she wants to meet Yuuko. Can she see her too? As Kirie explains, their Yuuko is also in the ghost stories so she’s the most famous ghost story subject around. Okonogi lets them know about the recently popular rumour of Red Woman. In legends, she was meant to be a sacrifice to appease the gods. When the girl comes out, Teiichi asks if she did meet Yuuko. She replies yes and it was very scary. But why is she grinning? But Yuuko tells Teiichi she is a liar because she didn’t see her. In fact she didn’t see anything because she had no fears! A group of girls are worried with the numerous witness of Red Woman around school today, they plead to her for assurance. This girl whom they call… Yuuko?! She promises to protect them. Our original friendly ghost, Yuuko drags Teiichi around the school festival as they talk about Red Woman. Yuuko doesn’t know of any other ghost in school and perhaps Red Woman like her name implies is just a mysterious person and not a ghost. Suddenly they see a commotion and a group of students point out to a shady figure outside whom they believe is Red Woman. A scream follows and it turns out to be the human Yuuko who claims she was attacked by Red Woman. Soon a group of scared students start banging on Paranormal Investigation Club’s door. And I mean they’re trying to break it down for they want them to hand over Yuuko the ghost! They believe Red Woman is looking for her as her sacrifice. They break open and pull Teiichi out, demanding him to hand over Yuuko. Seriously, they’re so scared that they’re not thinking straight. The windows start breaking and the scared students flee thinking Red Woman has come. Actually it’s Yuuko smashing the window with her baseball bat. Soon Yuuko the human pops up and introduces herself as Yuuko Kirishima. Admitting the entire chaos was her doing, she hates people who blindly believe in ghost stories and hates people like them who enjoy and have fun with them. She is going to kill the ghost stories and that Yuuko should just disappear.

Flashback reveals because she shares the same name with the famous ghost, she got teased whether they’re related or not. Fed up of it all, she cooked up a story to make the students believe Yuuko is the one Red Woman wants to kill. Scared enough to believe if Yuuko dies, they’ll all be saved. Yuuko doesn’t really mind about what’s happening since she got bullied because of her. Suddenly Kirie tells them Kirishima has been chosen as Red Woman’s sacrifice. Seems the rumour was too effective that everyone got so scared and has gone crazy. Teiichi wants Yuuko to help out too despite Kirishima hates her. It’s the right thing to do. The paranoid students tie Kirishima up. Her plan backfired. She tells them the truth of the lies she made but nobody listened. They believe Red Woman exists because they are so afraid of her. They think Kirishima’s sacrifice will mean they can sleep better and lay this to rest once and for all. Her blood will make everyone happy. Everyone’s so selfish if you ask me. But that’s normal seeing how paranoid they are. Suddenly the Red Woman pops up and approaches Kirishima. You should’ve guessed it’s Yuuko in disguise. She mentions this isn’t the Yuuko she seeks and by giving a false sacrifice, they shall pay with their lives! Another round of chaos as the students run for their lives leaving Kirishima alone behind. Teiichi frees Kirishima and lets her know the ‘Red Woman’ she saw was the Yuuko ghost of the old building. When the students manage to reach out of the building and back into the school festival, all the paranoia built up died down. As if it was all in their mind. Teiichi tries to explain that the Yuuko he knows isn’t as scary as she thinks. Kirishima thought so too but at least he didn’t call her by her first name. So can Kirishima see Yuuko? I mean when both Yuukos pass each other, Kirishima whispered “Sorry” into her ear. Unless it was because Teiichi saw Yuuko coming back and called her name so it probably gave Kirishima a hint. Teiichi apologizes to Yuuko for dragging her into this but she’s okay and happy with it since it was him. Okonogi is disheartened to learn that Kirie rang the bell as part of the prank to scare those students. Fearing the teacher might find out, she runs away. But Kirie sees that shadow figure next to her! FFUUUUUUUU!!!!!!

Episode 7
Yuuko and Teiichi are in another one of their fake ghost busting activities. This time a ghost piano. Are you relief, Okonogi? She praises him for his ghost busting techniques and hopes she could learn some from him. Private lessons, that is. Yuuko felt jealous and kicks the piano chair for some paranormal effect! Kirie remembers talking to the shadowy figure who told her that all they do is repeat and another iteration has occurred. Yuuko continues to hang close with Teiichi. In basketball, making his ball look like he did some awesome throw. In class, sitting on his lap like nobody’s business. Heck, it’s nobody’s business. Isn’t it a little cramped? For lunch, she’s going to eat alone with him. Till Okonogi shows up for the same reason. Can’t say no, can’t he? Of course Yuuko sits right in the middle of the table so obviously Teiichi is feeling some kind of tension. In yet another jealous move, she eats all his lunch! Okonogi tries to feed him hers but Yuuko slaps her chopsticks away! Teiichi is not amused. He talks to Kirie and notices Yuuko hasn’t been herself lately though at the same time she’s so much like herself. Confused? Kirie mentions she saw that shadow again and her form was that of hatred, envy and grief. She mentions isn’t it strange that Yuuko doesn’t get mad or angry? Even though she pouts, it’s just jealousy when girls come close to him. In actual fact she does not harbour or feel anger or hatred. So she having no such emotions somewhat makes it unnatural. Maybe she’s dead? Yuuko from across the building sees Teiichi but she feels jealous when she also sees Kirie. That shadowy figure pops up behind her trying to make her remember.

Kirie has an idea what that shadow’s connection to Yuuko is. Using Kirishima’s case as the Red Woman, she projected all her negative emotions on Yuuko. So Yuuko may have done the same and pushed all that to another aspect of herself. She may have dissociative identity disorder whereby she splits herself into several personalities under stress to protect herself. If she ever did sever her missing memories and feelings of her own, then there is no way to retrieve it as it all stands. If those severed memories and emotions manifested as a separate entity with a will of its own, than that shadow is an aspect of Yuuko whom she calls Shadow Yuuko. Yuuko heard all this and wants them to stop when Shadow Yuuko pops out. She confirms she is Yuuko and wants her to remember. They’ll continue to warp everything around themselves till they bring their wishes to fruitation. Yuuko runs away as Teiichi goes after her. She denies everything. They find themselves at the courtyard of the Rock of Curses. She thinks presumptions are like this rock. Because of them, you see things like the shadow, things that never existed. Now that it’s daylight, Teiichi could see the rock clearer and it looks a little strange. Cleaning it a bit he reads a writing that states this is a memorial to the students that died in a plague 60 years ago! Furthermore, Yuuko’s name is on it! Did she die from the plague? However Teiichi says her body is under the old building and her name wouldn’t end up here if she had died so. Teiichi mentions all the recent paranormal cases, each ghost story are all related to her in a twisted way. In order to calm the accursed plague, she was sacrificed alive. Yuuko says since she has no lingering regrets or malice, she may have volunteered. Maybe this explains her cheery attitude?

They’re going to let this case rest but Shadow Yuuko isn’t going to end it. She wonders if Yuuko is going to push all her regrets and malice away to stay beautiful. She is so because she forced it all on her. She is the ugly memories and feelings she couldn’t bear. She wants her to remember or else she will repeat what she did by pushing it all onto her. Yuuko continues to deny so Shadow Yuuko adds since she’s fallen in love for the first time, she has given birth to a new negative emotion: Jealousy. Shadow Yuuko doesn’t mind and will accept it and charges straight at her. When Kirie comes into the picture, everything seems to have returned to normal. Next few scenes we see Yuuko lingering around on her own. Each time she sees her own reflection she gets alerted thinking she may have seen her shadowy self. Even hanging around with Teiichi she isn’t her cheery self. Yuuko notes she is afraid to look at him in the eye for each time she does, she will see her other self. She doesn’t want to remember her past and feelings. When Teiichi leaves for class, Yuuko pushes him down the stairs! OMG! Was she possessed to do that?! Though Teiichi survived (but in bandages and crutches), he doesn’t see Yuuko around anymore. Till he enters the club room. It’s Yuuko alright but she doesn’t remember who he is. Oh no…

Episode 8
Yuuko thought she made him suffer to be in this condition. Bad enough for her to make her forget that she doesn’t want to see him again or even touch her. Teiichi talks to Kirie about this and she believes she may have cut off her memories to protect herself. Whether it was really an accident that she pushed him down the stairs, she has dissociated her memories of him. Like an amnesia. Talking about memories are the product of one’s personality, one’s actions and way of life change depending on past experiences. So for unpleasant and traumatic memories that are hard to get rid of, the carefree and naive Yuuko is what Teiichi came to know. Teiichi says that they originally started the club to look into her past and retrieve her memories but if she cut it off voluntarily, there is no point to the club now. However what Kirie wants to know is whether he wants to get Yuuko back or not. Since he’s indecisive, he calls him an idiot. If he’s okay with it then so be it since the dead and living can’t get along. She even jokes if he really can’t forget about her, she can take her place. Teiichi walks back and sees Yuuko. However he turns around and walks away. Those painful memories of her not remembering him has him slip and crash to the ground. Okonogi is shocked and helps him up. I guess it’s a chance for her to get closer to him. She also feeds him for lunch but it’s like déjà vu. If felt like someone slapped her hand away before she could feed him. Teiichi continues to hang out more often with Okonogi and looks like Kirie isn’t too happy. Another jealous girl in the making? So much so she calls him out if he really has forgotten about her and if that’s the case, she won’t bug him anymore. But Teiichi doesn’t know what she’s talking about. She breaks down mentioning she adored her when some force throws her back. Kirie thought she heard bells. Another lunch time with Okonogi, when she goes to get drinks, he sees her club diary and browses through and sees a love umbrella of his name and Yuuko’s. Suddenly memories of her came flooding in. When was the last time he called her name? Okonogi return and so does her friends who tease her about liking Teiichi, much to her embarrassment. So she explains he always seem so cool and reliable and admired him in that sense. Asking if he has someone he likes, Teiichi answers yes (hint: A certain ghost girl). It may be heartbreak for Okonogi but she keeps a cheerful expression.

Teiichi returns to the club room but is stopped by Kirie. She wonders if it will do any good since he can’t see Yuuko anymore. He says if his feelings are real, he will be able to. Even if she doesn’t remember him, if her memories are her heart, he doesn’t want her to lose more than she already has. Inside the room, Teiichi scream Yuuko’s name out comes the ghost girl still not sure who he is. He brings her with him to the rooftop and tells her of all the wonderful times they spent together. I’m sure if this talk could jog her memories, it would already a long time ago, right? Anyway he continues to identify himself and his purpose of forming the Paranormal Investigations Club. Though he wanted to know her past, what he really wanted to know was her heart. Why? Because he loves her! So desperate for him to make her remember that he trip and fall onto her. I guess it worked like a charm because he got his hands all over her boobs! The first place he touched when they first met. Who could forget that? Oh! Yuuko’s memories are back! She remembers everything. When she placed his hands over her chest to make him feel how fast her heart is beating, I was thinking how odd it is because do ghosts have heart beats? They both hug as they both confess they love each other. And guess what? Okonogi saw everything. Minus Yuuko of course. She deduces he loves Yuuko, the ghost of the old building more than her and is thrilled with that reason why she could not compare herself over a famous ghost story like her. Yeah, whatever. Kirie is in the club room looking at an old photo with Yuuko in it. She ponders if she separated her feelings and memories of Teiichi, then where did t all go? Then she hears the sound of the bell and realizes Shadow Yuuko is next to her! FFUUUUUUUU!!!!!! Was she the one that pushed Kirie away then? However Shadow Yuuko doesn’t remember who Kirie is.

Episode 9
When Okonogi opens the door, Shadow Yuuko vanishes and everything returns to normal. Was it a dream? Yuuko is back to her cheery self. So happy that she wants Teiichi to say those 3 words again. Now? Yes. Too soft. Can’t hear you. Before he sounds like a mad fool confessing to himself, Kirie puts a stop to it. She is going to tell him about Shadow Yuuko when Yuuko slaps her! Teiichi is taking a test and he must be helluva good in controlling his calmness because Yuuko is bugging him to say “I love you” out loud! Writing it down isn’t going to do any good so the bugging continues till the test is over! He hasn’t even finished yet! And he got reprimanded by the teacher thinking he’s playing a prank on her that he loves her! To make it up to him, Yuuko tries to feed him for lunch. Won’t it be embarrassing if people see a guy being fed alone? Yuuko says not to worry since he doesn’t have much of a presence. Ouch. Then Okonogi comes by and decides to join him for lunch. In an accidental déjà vu ‘revenge’, Okonogi accidentally and unknowingly hits Yuuko food away when she tries to feed Teiichi. Yuuko got upset and ran away in tears. That’s the first time he saw her cry. And when the usually flirtatious Yuuko who doesn’t even mind her modesty being naked in front of him suddenly gets embarrassed and scream the pervert he is, something is definitely wrong. Anyway Kirie wants to talk to Teiichi about Shadow Yuuko she saw again. However Yuuko doesn’t remember her. Kirie concludes it isn’t that she doesn’t remember, she doesn’t know at all. Okonogi suddenly barges into the room like an eager beaver wanting to meet this Yuuko ghost. Seems Kirie has told her about Yuuko’s existence and it wouldn’t harm gaining an ally. So she thought. Despite Okonogi being overly eager to meet Yuuko, she still can’t see her. Then Yuuko mentions about wanting to investigate the Rock of Curses. Eh? Didn’t they do that already? At the courtyard, Yuuko fools around with Okonogi by writing her name on the rock and “Meat” on her forehead to freak her out! Teiichi and Kirie discuss if they look into her past, she’ll dissociate her recovered memories again. However she thinks all is not lost because for the first time, they saw Yuuko getting angry or cried for the first time. When Yuuko forgot and regained memories of him, what about the times she didn’t remember him, where did those memories go? Shadow Yuuko. During the time he couldn’t see Yuuko, it wasn’t Shadow Yuuko she saw but rather her jealousy so she deduces Yuuko moved her jealousy along with her memories of her to Shadow Yuuko, then perhaps returned along with other memories and feelings.

It’s time for them to leave school but Yuuko doesn’t want him to go. He assures he’ll come back tomorrow and lets go of her hand. Yuuko tries to go after him but the more she runs towards the school gates, the further she gets. Then she feels this choking feeling in her heart. This is how loneliness feels. Shadow Yuuko materializes and this time looks like an exact replica of Yuuko. Save for her flaming blue left eye (Black Rock Shooter?). Yuuko has several visions of her torrid past. She still doesn’t want to remember so Shadow Yuuko reminds her she is her. She knows her pain since she forced it upon her and wants her to share it. She sinks her hands into Yuuko’s chest but before anything could happen, Teiichi returns to grab Yuuko and run. She was worried something might happen and made a u-turn. She tells her to hide while she talks to Shadow Yuuko. Wondering why she is tormenting Yuuko, on the contrary it’s the other way round. All she does is run away from the pain and so she is the ugly feelings Yuuko dissociated from. She will never be in peace unlike Yuuko and will continue to be tormented with these painful memories. Since she is also part of Yuuko, does he hate her? Knowing Yuuko wants to rid of her, she vanishes to find Yuuko. I mean, how can you run away from yourself? You’ll always find, uhm, you. Trying to share her pain with her once more, Teiichi shoves her away but not seeing those horrible visions. They make a run for the gate but the more they run, the further it gets. Shadow Yuuko closes in and since he can’t take anymore of this, dives into Shadow Yuuko. Teiichi goes back in time when the school was just completed. Next thing he knows, he sees through Yuuko’s own eyes, her memories.

Episode 10
I guess Teiichi couldn’t avert his eyes so he saw every aspect of Yuuko’s body when she’s changing. Too bad we viewers didn’t get that same treatment ;p. He could also feel what she feels (her boobs are heavy?) and notes this isn’t exactly Yuuko’s memory but Shadow Yuuko’s as her memories now reside in her. Yuuko’s younger sister, Yukariko (Kirie’s grandma) didn’t want her to go visit a girl named Asa fearing that she would get infected by the plague too. Yuuko slaps her for being negative since in such trying times they must help each other. Yuuko makes her way to see Asa who is somewhat depressed. Who could blame her because her entire family got wiped out by the plague and she’s the only one survive. Even if Yuuko gives her positive advice, she thinks she’s lying and believes she’ll soon die. To prove it, Yuuko eats the sweet that Asa had in her mouth. She gives Asa half of her bells so that when she’s not with her, think of it as a Yuuko substitute. Yuuko leaves and meets Yukariko on the way back. They see a group of village elders gathering. Thinking it’s something important, they follow them to the school where the secret meeting is held. Seems they are worried that the plague will kill them all. The thirteenth family has died out and some of them are affected. They need to do something. One thinks it’s the curse for building the school on top a shrine. Despite the shrine was already in ruins and completely burnt down during the air strikes, it didn’t change the fact they built on a shrine and perhaps did not do a proper offering. The only way to appease the gods is to sacrifice a young child. How can they be so cruel? Well, everyone’s dropping like flies so a missing person won’t make much. Even if it does, they’ll use the plague excuse. Such demons! But who will be the sacrifice? It is suggested to let the Red Woman decide. How? Lots will be drawn among the villagers to be the Red Woman. That Red Woman will then select a child to be buried as sacrifice in the shrine ruins. The sisters had heard enough and were about to escape but her bells gave them away. They run and hide in the room which Teiichi recognizes as their club room. But there was no hole in the wall then. They manage to evade the villagers.

Asa is made to live with them since being alone she may be a target for the sacrifice. Taking a bath, Teiichi now has reluctant fanservice of not only Yuuko but Yukariko too! Too bad we viewers aren’t given such luxury. Anyway Yuuko believes the elders’ won’t hold since it’s the age of science and will do something about it. Yukariko slaps her since she is worried but gets slapped back for being selfish. Soon Yuuko notices Asa not in her room. Realizing a torn in her coat, she fears the worst and goes out looking for her. Inside the school grounds, she sees Asa being held down by the elders. Because Yuuko is appalled at what they’re doing, Asa recognizes her voice and calls out her name. Instantly, the villagers view it as the Red Woman naming her sacrifice and pull Yuuko in as the sacrifice. They throw her down the hole and in the process she broke her leg. When she wakes up, Teiichi is surprised that Yuuko is glad this happened to her since Asa and Yukariko will be left alone. Then she crawls her way to the shrine and sees a mirror within reflecting her hideous side. She panics as reality hits her she is going to die and screams for help. Teiichi knows too well help never came and her cries were in vain. Then all the candle lights blew out and Yuuko is heard with one last blood curling scream. As Yuuko sits alone waiting for her death, she starts to blame Asa for her misfortune. What had she done to deserve this? After all these times being nice to her, she is going to hate her. However Yuuko calms herself and couldn’t bring herself to do so since it wasn’t Asa’s fault to begin with. So if Yuuko won’t hate her, I suppose that’s why Shadow Yuuko does. She hates all those who denied her life and made her a sacrifice. Teiichi is brought back to reality while Shadow Yuuko hates Yuuko for splitting her off.

Episode 11
It’s only been a few minutes Teiichi has been knocked out. It certainly felt like a lifetime there, eh? Teiichi realizes Yuuko may have dissociated her memories again when she doesn’t know who Shadow Yuuko is. When Yuuko touches him, suddenly memories of her painful past come flowing in as she realizes he knows her past. Because of that Yuuko can’t see or hear Teiichi anymore despite him standing just right next to her. Even next day in school, Yuuko waits for Teiichi. He is there but she couldn’t see him. Teiichi talks to Kirie and she concludes that since he knows her past, they are also his memories now. This means as far as Yuuko is concerned, he has become Shadow Yuuko. Since she can’t see Shadow Yuuko and quickly discards her from her consciousness, this now applies to Teiichi. Teiichi has lunch with Okonogi and tries to hint he is there. I guess she got it but that’s about it. Teiichi has another talk with Kirie. He felt he turned into a ghost and may forget her one day. If his touch brings her pain, maybe he should leave her alone. However Kirie blows her top about him being a liar and a coward. Does he think if this is what Yuuko wants? If he loves Yuuko, he should wake up and stop lying to herself. They need to take responsibility. Do her tears convince you? He returns to the club room and has an idea to communicate. He writes what he wants to say in Okonogi’s diary and soon they start to exchange writings. Despite so, Yuuko feels lonely and breaks down. Okonogi comes in with a present for Teiichi. Some candy drops her family line used to make. They still taste the same, eh? Then he realizes something. Upon his request, Kirie takes him to see her grandma who is also to superintendent of Seikyou. Yukariko knows about Teiichi since she has heard from Kirie how he could see Yuuko (though Kirie never told her she herself could see Yuuko as it would bring back sad memories). Yukariko confirms she could always see Yuuko’s ghost but in a twisted form of hate and spite. Those who buried her were equally afraid and her name was forbidden to be mentioned for quite a while. Soon those elders passed away and Yukariko inherited this school while she was still young. She kept the old building as tribute to Yuuko knowing her body is buried somewhere inside. However Yuuko’s spirit wouldn’t rest and continues to haunt the hallways. Teiichi denies and describes Yuuko as the kind and beautiful girl he always sees her. Since he wants to speak to her again, he came here to know more about Asa. Yukariko shows him her old photo album when slowly it dawned to Teiichi. He rushes to Yuuko’s tombstone and takes the bell.

He heads back to the club room and smashes everything! This enables Yuuko to see him once more since everything in this room is a treasured part of her memories. So if she could see him, it means she could see her other self. Oh, there she is now. Yuuko goes into trauma mode and wants it all to stop so Shadow Yuuko wants to drag her into her suffering. Teiichi goes up to talk to her but Shadow Yuuko isn’t amused that he’s acting like he knows everything after watching their little episode. She chides him for all the suffering and pain she had gone through and what does he know anything about that. Teiichi admits he knows nothing. But he knows how painful she was suffering. He’s crying too! Not crocodile tears, please! It hurts him so much to see her in pain. Worse, he could only watch and do nothing. It was very frustrating. So if she’s an ugly mass of hatred, how can he shed tears? Simple. Because she’s Yuuko too. She’s still part of the Yuuko he loves. Both Yuukos realize their wrongs since she’s been hating for such a long time. It felt painful but somehow it feels like it’s fading away (because of Teiichi’s tears). And since Teiichi accepts them as they’re both the Yuukos he love, the Yuukos reconcile and merge back into one. Welcome back. Later as explained, the names of all those who conspired in her sacrifice were written on the memorial, the Rock of Curses. They suffered from the plague in the end. Yuuko notes her good and bad memories lie in this tombstone now. Teiichi shows her the photos from Yukariko’s album. She has been taking care of Asa ever since Yuuko’s demise. Now for the revelation part. Asa’s full name is Asagi, which is Teiichi’s grandmother’s name. Fate? Yuuko is so happy her suffering wasn’t for nothing. It’s because Asa lived, she got to meet him. So happy that she throws herself into Teiichi. So happy that she doesn’t mind getting buried again and again. Is she sure about that part?

Episode 12
It’s winter and Okonogi has news for Teiichi and Kirie. Seems their club room is sealed off as Yukariko has found a corpse underneath it. She heard rumours it might be related to the superintendent and that the ritual getup made it as though somebody must’ve been sacrificed when the old building was put up. She couldn’t be more accurate. But the surprising thing was the room was wrecked like as though a poltergeist had a field day! We know it wasn’t a ghost… Okonogi deduces Teiichi knows that dead girl is Yuuko. How? She couldn’t help but read their lovey-dovey communication in her diary. How embarrassing?! They forgot to erase it, eh? So as stated, the authorities are having a proper burial for her body and since she died an unnatural death, she may get an autopsy. Feeling embarrassed, Yuuko? The shrine will be moved and sanctified anew, the tombstone Asa made for Yuuko will be moved to Kirie’s family grave, the underground will be filled up and the room used as storage shed once more. It’s all going to end soon so it can’t be help if they feel kind of sad. Yuuko wants to go on a date but how can she when she can’t leave the school grounds? If she says so, then a date it is. First she borrows clothes from the drama club but isn’t it a little too small? Are you saying she’s fat? Woah! The buttons are unbuttoning itself! Teiichi tries to prevent that and grabbed her breast instead. Slap! However Teiichi is happy since she never showed this side before. After all, she combined with her dissociated self. For lunch, Yuuko is extremely happy when she finally manages to feed him. No interruptions! Even happier when he feeds her back. Suddenly the chopsticks slip off her hand but she didn’t think much of it. Wasn’t she fading a little there?

Then sitting together by the frozen lake (school pool, that is), the last straw came when her bell slipped off. She gets up, thanks Teiichi for everything and wants to break up. What? She feels they can’t stay like this anymore as she is fading away. She existed as a ghost since she had something to do and that was to reunite with her other self. Thanks to him, she was able to accept her past and memories. Now she has no regrets so this is the end. She can accept this because she’s happy. Teiichi won’t let her go. He doesn’t want to. She wants to end it with a clean farewell and asks if he has seen other ghosts beside her. If many people die, yet why is she the only ghost? There are no ghosts. Even if there were, they didn’t stay in this realm forever so she’s vanishing with her regrets. Teiichi won’t have this and is desperate enough to call Kirie or Okonogi to help. Yuuko prevents him as she doesn’t want others to interrupt their final moment. She wants him to go home and not see her disappear. She knows he loves him but if he sees her disappear, it’ll make him sad. She wants to live on after she’s disappeared, fall in love with someone else and find happiness again. Teiichi refuses to believe this is the end and wants to be with her till the very end. Because he loves her. Well, you cry, now you made her cry too. So back in the club room, the place where they first met, he felt it was fate he was brought here. He heard the sound of the bells from her other self. It’s not as though she picked him because he’s Asa’s grandson but in a way Shadow Yuuko too liked him. Then Yuuko’s words become inaudible so they communicate via the writing. Parting can be painful so Teiichi agrees to forget her, live his life, bla, bla, bla. Then she vanishes. He changes his mind. He wants her to stay after all. She’s not totally gone yet. Still in the process of fading. This is your last chance. Last chance saloon for a goodbye kiss. She’s gone for real.

Spring arrives as Okonogi tells Teiichi the seal over their club room has been removed. Seems Yukariko is going to preserve it for historic value rather than demolish it. She hopes they can revive the Paranormal Investigations Club. Teiichi narrates the numerous paranormal rumours that he doesn’t know anything anymore now. It was all a dream. An illusion. His memories of his time with Yuuko are now locked away deep within and won’t surface again. I hope he won’t split his own personality for this. Teiichi returns to the club room only to see it fixed up. Man, Okonogi did one heck of a good clean up job. He sees a box that warns him he’ll be cursed if opened. Well, curiosity killed the cat. And since it has come to that, here is his curse. Or best gift. Why, IT’S YUUKO!!! SHE’S BACK!!! WHY?! WHY?! HOW?! He’s not dreaming, isn’t he? So desperate of wanting to meet her that he’s seeing things. Not! She’s real. In the flesh. Although she’s a ghost ;p. Yuuko couldn’t go to heaven and thought all her worldly regrets had disappeared but something is keeping her here. That kiss. Yes. THAT KISS. So wonderful that it makes her want more and now it’s keeping her here. So Teiichi, you’ll have to take responsibility! Here’s another kiss to welcome her return! And so you could say, Teiichi continues to be haunted by Yuuko. Together forever. Truly fearsome!

Still Being Haunted… I Did Not Forget… The Fear!
Phew! It ended! Thank goodness. I admit I’m an amateur in handling spooky stories and don’t sit well so there were several moments that I was actually freaked out. Especially Shadow Yuuko. She herself was already enough to give me some sleepless nights and bad nightmares. If you are a horror veteran or somebody who just loves ghost stories and horror movies, I’m sure the spookiness here is nothing but as I’ve said for me, I was really scared at certain scenes. I know it’s all in my mind but I can’t help it since I’m watching this series alone. At night! With the lights off!!! Oh shi… It just really ups the tension and fear. So you could say that I was scared the daylights and the sh*t out of my pants when the horror theme starts to build up. However when Yuuko’s case was solved, the ending suddenly turns into a love drama. From fear, it suddenly became heart wrenching moments that would tug your heart strings. If not for the earlier horror moments, I would have been very emotionally moved and cried along when Teiichi and Yuuko had to part. The fear in me had ‘cushioned’ the tear jerking parts so it was hard for me to feel truly sad. Though it was still heartbreaking to see them face the difficult crossroad of parting and that’s why those final moments felt like a dramatic love story so much so for that instant you may have forgotten this was initially a horror themed genre in the first place.

So basically Yuuko became a ghost because she was afraid to confront the truth about her past. It is understandable that anyone who experienced such traumatic experience wouldn’t want to go remember them again. I’m no psychologist or paranormal expert but I guess when ghosts have split personalities, they’ll become a different entity instead of humans who remain the same body just with different behaviours. Before she accepted her ugly self, Yuuko was such a fun and carefree girl. A cheeky ghost that you would love or be very afraid (if she’s haunting you, that is). When you’re hanging around in school for the last 60 years, you’d be pretty much bored so when there is someone who can interact with you, unless you’re the lone wolf type (which Yuuko isn’t), then you could say two’s a company. Three is only a crowd when another woman is involved ;p. But that’s a different matter altogether. Then when the truth about her personality arises, it’s like opening Pandora’s Box. The only way for her to overcome it is to accept them. I mean, how can you move on if you do not accept yourself? The good and bad part makes her a whole. For one is neither without the other. For Teiichi, he was pretty much unsure on what to do what’s best for Yuuko. Should he leave her alone or should he continue to be by her side. Thanks to Kirie, he understands what needs to be done. He just needs to do what he wants to from the bottom of his heart. Even if the truth hurts and sets her free. I guess for a kid who can see ghosts, he’s doing quite a good job being calm even when Yuuko’s being cheeky flirting all around him. She thinks it’s alright just because nobody else could see her flirt brazenly? Oh, Kirie isn’t even in her sights.

Okonogi is another amusing girl. I’m not sure where she is in terms of tolerating paranormal incidents. At times we see her the eager beaver and the ghost story expert but when she experiences them or sees such occurrence first hand, she gets spooked out. She’s hoping for something to happen and when it does she freaks out. So maybe she doesn’t care enough about Yuuko or know about her well enough to see her. Maybe. Just maybe. Of course the other reason why she’s in the club is because she likes Teiichi. Too bad his heart will always be with the ghost girl. There are many hints that indicate Kirie also has feelings for Teiichi but I guess she knows what lies in his heart and perhaps not wanting to earn the wrath of Yuuko’s haunting, she’d better just be an observer if she knows what’s good for her. Is it just me as I happen to know that when Kirie sometimes talks, she starts posing. Even we have solved the mystery of Yuuko’s demise, we certainly won’t solve the mystery of how a human kid can fall in love with a ghost. Sure, love knows no bounds but if you think about it, Teiichi is a mortal which means he’ll grow up, get old and die. Yuuko will always remain the same. So maybe after Teiichi kicks the bucket as grandpa, he’ll be able to eternally join her? Then there’s this issue too. Since Teiichi can touch Yuuko, and there are a few scenes when they get too close. You know Teiichi likes to touch her boobs, right? Okay, maybe when she provokes him. Hey, he’s still a young normal boy. So what happens when they have sex? Can Yuuko bear his child? Will the child be half-human and half-ghost? Perhaps it’s possible since in many Japanese stories there are those characters that are of mixed descendent and parentage (remember Inuyasha?). But thinking about this is just getting too far ahead. For now, it’s good that Teiichi and Yuuko can continue to be together. Forever doesn’t really sound right, don’t you think?

Whether you believe it or not, some of the explanations about curses and the sightings of ghosts are up to you to believe as what is being explained by Yuuko or Kirie are just from a rational point of view. People’s minds are complex it may all just be in one’s mind. Or not. There is one issue about Yuuko as the ghost that is bugging me. Well, she doesn’t really display many characteristics of a ghost. In short, from what I see Yuuko as, she resembles more of an invisible woman than a ghost. Firstly, you don’t see her fly, right? You don’t see her walk through walls too, do you? Then she is able to interact with other objects like lifting things and such so if you happen to be an unfortunate chap who saw something moved by itself, I won’t blame you if you freak your hair out. That’s why I say Yuuko feels more like an invisible woman more than a ghost. It’s like she’s got some stealth mode on and everybody except Teiichi and Kirie could only see and hear her. However, think about this. She is able to get wet and when she dries her clothes, will the clothes she wears be visible or invisible? I mean, you see her manually changing her uniform so this means if she’s invisible then at least her clothes won’t, right? Since it’s her skin that you can’t see. Unless her clothes are ghost clothes too. Creepy!

Sometimes when you think about it, ghosts aren’t such a scary phenomenon itself because the scariest one has to be humans themselves. Worse than animals, worse than beasts. The way Yuuko was sacrificed just to appease their fears show us how primitive we humans can be. Despite living in the modern age, we still have backward thinking and are more inclined to believe in old wife’s tale, age old tradition beliefs and such when we are confronted with the fearful unknown. So you can say that ghosts that linger on in this planet (if there are any) are the product and results of our own doing. We reap what we sew. If people had not torment or treat others badly before their unjust death, then they wouldn’t have and sense of regret of vengeance when they die, right? But of course as far as this series is concerned, regret and vengeance wasn’t probably what kept Yuuko around. Got addicted to Teiichi’s kiss that she doesn’t want to leave, eh? Yeah, her heaven and paradise are on Earth itself next to him.

When I first see the art and drawing and the way they use the different visuals and angles to project the horror, I thought this series resembled closely to Cube x Cursed x Curious. True enough, I didn’t go thinking it’s SHAFT this time but Silver Link, the same production studio who brought us Cube x Cursed x Curious. Though that also series has supernatural and some horror elements, this one had more fanservice and comedy. Thus the styles in the visuals are recognizable and like I’ve already admitted, it was enough to scare an amateur like yours truly. Despite the end card with different illustrations may look cute and sometimes comical, but the gruesome narration makes it quite frightening in an aural sense (please remember I’m still a big chicken). Like hell and heaven. You get pleasing visuals but haunting narration. On a trivial note, the episode titles also show a quadruple of pictures pertaining to Yuuko’s different expression. Happy, sad, funny, serious, cheeky, laughing, pretty and ugly.

Yumi Hara did quite a good job voicing the different states of Yuuko. Whether she’s being cheeky and flirtatious or just the vengeful and spiteful shadow self. She doesn’t have much anime roles to her name (yet) and as Takane Shijou in The Idolmaster and Sawa Yamauchi in Sket Dance are the few roles credited to her name. Though I couldn’t instantly recognize Eri Kitamura, at least when she takes on cheeky loli or haughty girls role like Rin of Kodomo No Jikan, Izumo in Ao No Exorcist and Miu from Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai, she was just unrecognizable here. It’s like she’s putting on another side of her voice as her role as Kirie. Tsubasa Yonaga as Teiichi sounds very boyish. Sounds very like his other roles like Hanabusa in Yumeiro Patissiere, Jun in Special A and Youji Haneda in Oretachi Ni Tsubasa Wa Nai. Misato Fuken as Okonogi also does well as she has voiced such lively characters as well like Kurumu in Rosario To Vampire and Rika of Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai. Other casts include Ami Koshimizu as Kirishima (Horo in Spice And Wolf), Gara Takashima as Yukariko (Julia in Cowboy Bebop), Satomi Satou as the young version of Yukariko (Ritsu in K-ON!) and Mana Hirata as Asa (Hazuki in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu). The opening theme is Choir Jail by Konomi Suzuki. Though it’s a rock piece, the opening pipe organ tries to make it sound like a horror theme. And the lyrics I thought it was just sad in some ways, “Burn myself”, “Crying won’t move you closer to your dreams”, “The pain inside is blinding me”. The ending theme is Karandorie by Aki Okui. Feels like a dramatic piece during medieval times with a hint (okay, maybe the entire lyrics are) of sadness since it’s like Yuuko singing about her grief how lonely she is, how she cannot touch no matter how close and the tears of hers that won’t dry. That’s why the little things given by her beloved, even a smile she holds it dear to her heart.

I wouldn’t want to go on dragging about this blog on supernatural stuff as my hair was standing on ends while typing this as I still can’t forget the horror. I know some may suggest for me to watch more horror movies to get ‘immune’ but for a chicken like me, I think I’ll stick to something safer, more fanservice and ecchi comedies it is for me! I can help think how funny it is when Teiichi touches Yuuko’s breast as proof of existence. Ghost or not, she’s still a girl. You may not get sexual harassment lawsuits but you might get haunted for the rest of your lives. Be a pervert at your own risk. So if you can really see dead people, would that be a curse or a blessing? What will happen if a ghost decides to lurk and haunt you knowing very well you know its existence? If it’s a pretty girl like Yuuko then I wouldn’t mind. Oh sh*t! What am I saying?! Please no, please no, please no… Unfortunately I don’t have such amnesia luxury like Yuuko to cut myself off with a different personality when I don’t want to remember something unpleasant. That’s why in order to make myself forget about some of this series’ horror moments, I need to lay off the horror genre for now and go watch more fanservice and ecchi comedies!

Kaibutsu Oujo OVA

February 24, 2012

Fuga. I mean, finally. I actually waited for over a year just to watch 3 episodes of Kaibutsu Oujo OVA instead of watching it right after it released so that the events could stay fresh in my mind when I blog on this. Sheesh. The OVAs are not to be confused with the extra episode that was released on the DVD of the TV series way back in 2007. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this new OVA is a total remake or a retelling but I guess with the fans’ dissatisfaction of the TV series, I guess something has to be done, right?

Apparently the OVAs stay more faithful to the original manga and work. That’s because the first thing fans knew the TV series was going to be deviating from the manga was the way the aristocratic Gothic-wearing Hime revived her Blood Warrior, Hiro using some flame instead of her blood. I didn’t read the manga and I only found that out when the TV series ended. But if you intend to watch the OVAs, be warned that you need to know about the storyline and characters beforehand. Certainly 3 episodes aren’t enough to do lots of backstory telling, right? Plus, the episodes are released along with the newly released manga volume then. Randomly watching this without prior knowledge will only end up having lots of questions instead of answers. Like yours truly. But that is only to research about certain new characters and their roles.

Otherwise everything much else about the series is pretty same. Hime and her siblings are supposed to be in some war to kill each other off in order to claim the throne as the ruler of the monster world. However Hime isn’t really interested in that and prefers enjoying her tea. But just to be safe, she and her ragtag team that consists of a petite loyal gynoid, a half-werewolf, a banished vampire and a high school student human as her latest addition, she has to fend off attacks from her rivals who want her dead. Ah, being a princess is never an easy job. And yes, who wouldn’t love Hime’s trademark chainsaw weapon choice? Cut ’em down baby! Fuga!

Episode 1 – Princess Darkness
This episode feels like an abridged retelling. Hime coolly walks into the hospital’s morgue, drops her blood on dead Hiro’s face and whoosh! White smoke for effect? By the time Hiro wakes up, he is alone and in a daze as he trudges out of the hospital confused. Meanwhile Hime and Flandre are faced with Lobo Wildman and his pack of nasty wolves in front of her mansion. The wolves attack but Hime and Flandre defend themselves. See how Flandre swing a giant tree as weapon! Hiro could sense that his master is in danger and rushes over (they’re literally connected by blood, right?). Lobo lunges at Hime but Hiro uses his body to protect her. Great, now he can experience death again. With the distraction, Hime manages to stick her sword into Lobo’s head, killing him outright. Hime then revives Hiro with her blood, introduces herself and one who controls all monsters and those that cannot be seen. So can Hiro be considered an undead seeing he got resurrected twice in the short span of the night? Well, at least he doesn’t look like an ugly mindless zombie.

As Riza walks her way to the mansion, she smells something odd and follows it. Before she knows it, a hand grabs her by the ankle and drags her deep into the woods. Realizing the hordes of dark army, she prepares to fight. Elsewhere, Flandre has awakened from her recharging slumber to go tell Hime “Fuga~”. What? Yeah, that single word means there are many intruders in the mansion. Hime wants Sawawa (Hiro’s over-busty and airhead elder sister) to retire to her room and not come out. I guess it’s a sign things are going to get bloody. Hime goes to look for Hiro but a hand pulls her into the dark room. When she flips the light switch on, the perpetrator vanishes. She sees a huge pool of blood on the floor. Riza comes in all messed up but alright. Hime feels they need to ask Reiri about something and upon realizing the intruders are that kind of vampires, she wants all the electric lights in the outskirts of the mansion to be lit up. Riza finds Hiro in his own pool of blood outside the garden. Good thing he isn’t dead yet. He claims he was attacked while on his way home for dinner. Meanwhile, Hime and Flandre have cornered a perpetrator. Hime suddenly turning on the spotlight in the total darkness while Flandre nails the ugly vampire with her tree log. Reiri explains they are called True Dark Walkers (TDW). Although they are vampires and consume blood, they cannot enslave others and are the weakest kind of vampires around. How weak? Not only they can’t stand sunlight but electric lights and light bulbs as well. Suddenly the place goes dark again. Hime gets a little scratch from a surprise attack of a TDW but is able to cut it with her chainsaw before Reiri turns on the lights. Hime also realize this TDW has taken the other earlier corpse.

As the gang gather to discuss about their circumstances, Hime has an idea what they are after. Showing them the place where she got attacked, Hime’s blood on the wall. However her blood seems to be smeared. She thinks though it may be vampire instinct that it tried to lick it, she feels they are after her special blood. And outside the mansion, countless hordes of TDW and their boss are just waiting to get in. Then all the lights start to go out. Hime and co make a run. Be careful not to let the darkness engulf you because that’s where all the TDW loom. Their hands sticking out from the darkness is a reminisce of some horror show. Riza and Reiri stay back to fight but eventually couldn’t stall much longer and rejoins the rest in a room. They can’t stay in this little spot with spotlights for the rest of the night because a riot squad may just barge their way in. But one of the TDW steps into the light and is unaffected. This is the one that licked Hime’s blood off the wall. TDW Boss confirms that if they take the royalty’s blood, they too will be able to walk under the sunlight. He discloses that there was one case whereby a royal princess was kidnapped and her blood sucked. He too became close to a perfect being. In short, TDW Boss wants to imprison Hime like what happened to her elder sister, Sylvia.

The TDW charges at Hime but she is confident and not budging, even telling Hiro to stay put. The vampire suddenly stops in his attacks. Hime tells off TDW Boss that he didn’t do his homework on Kinesky’s case. When he became a Blood Warrior, he wasn’t able to physically attack Sylvia. She cuts off the TDW’s hand with her chainsaw and dares them to kidnap her for her blood. Morning comes. The entire room is wrecked, cracks on the floor, fissure on the wall. Again, Hime needs to feed Hiro to keep him alive. Ironically she feels her wound is recovering much better when she is giving her blood. Riza wonders if they’ll come again tonight but Reiri dismisses it because among those TDW, only the leader can see how difficult it is to obtain what they seek. She can’t believe he tried to manipulate Hime this way. Looks like TDW Boss and his army left because he knows too well he’ll never be able to best Hime and her team.

Episode 2 – Princess Express
Hiro’s friend, Buchi seems to have dragged him to do some scoop at a railway station. However they got tempted by a little hooded ghost to board an express train that connects the human world and demon kingdom. In short, a phantom train to the netherworld. So looks like Hime and her team have to go save Hiro. Inside the carriage, the boys see ghost passengers and also a little girl. The hooded ghost is the train master and is thrilled that Emile decided to use his services while Emile’s Blood Warriors, Sledge and Keziah watch on. Seems they are transporting a huge goods: Flanders G (yes, that giant gynoid robot of Emile’s). However hot on their trail is Gilliam, another sibling of Hime and Emile. He is firing a photon cannon in an attempt to destroy Flanders. Hime and co wait at the next train station but the trains zoom pass them. Hime and Reiri jump on board while Riza and Flandre are left behind. They catch up with Flandre driving a truck. I wonder how the shorty’s feet can reach the peddle. Gilliam sees Lilian (Hime’s real name which she despises) and thinks she is in cohorts with Emile but she denies. With Keziah coming into the picture, Gilliam explains Dr Franken has changed everything as he is siding with Emile and turning that thing into an ultimate weapon. Meanwhile Emile talks to Hiro and the girl (she is actually the mermaid whom he made his Blood Warrior back in the TV series). He explains Buchi isn’t dead yet but humans’ life are weak here and will be alright if he gets off. But the train won’t be stopping anytime soon. He also tells Hiro to take care of the girl (let’s call her Ningyou for easier reference) and mentions he can sometimes see things in fragments. He goes off and wants Sledge not to let anyone pass this point.

Gilliam wants Hime to make clear her stand since she’s somewhat ‘interrupting’. Flanders awakens and seemingly is going to attack. Gilliam is confident that robots do not attack royalty but as Reiri says, if the doctor has sided Emile, he may have removed its limiter. The cannon is recharged as Gilliam orders another shot. Flanders uses its hand to deflect the beam (costing it that hand too) and fires back via its eyes. However it’s just a recoil. Gilliam is still around and his cannon is already recharged. Taking another shot, this time Flandre drives her truck in its path!!! Thus another deflection. Gilliam’s gynoid, Fratelus is trying to hold down Flanders while Keziah tries to remove that heavy gynoid but he’s not budging. Then Reiri detaches the coach Flanders is on and switches the rail line to separate it and Gilliam from the main train. Riza and Reiri meet up with Hime as they start their search for Hiro. Gilliam fires his cannon once more but Flanders fires back. Both beams meet and cause both sides to be on fire. Gilliam flees on his motorbike thinking this sacrifice is needed. He catches up to the main train and jumps on board. Then he unleashes a Blood Warrior into the carriage. Doesn’t this monster bug look like the one in Starship Troopers?

Hime meets Hiro but feels the need to talk to Emile. She is stopped by Sledge. She confirms with Hiro that he did greet Emile before he said something about seeing things and went to hide. She takes out of chainsaw and is going to prepare to fight. While Riza and Keziah take on the monster bug, Hime and Hiro face off with Gilliam on the roof of the train. Gilliam is convinced Hime and Emile are in league against him. He charges but Reiri interferes. Because she can transform her body into bats, Gilliam’s sword can reach her. He uses a white ash stake to shoo her away. Gilliam’s sword, Sword Being is also his Blood Warrior. Hime is preoccupied with it and got slightly injured. As Gilliam is about to thrust Sword Being into her, Hiro uses his body as shield. Again? Is that all he is good for? Riza and Keziah get pounded by the bug and though they manage to beat it, the bug resurrects. However it soon turns and walks away. That’s because that photon cannon train is heading towards them. How? Fratelus is carrying it with his hands and intends to throw it at the main train. Gilliam retreats thinking this is turning out better than planned.

When Fratelus throws the cannon, Emile is on top of the coach. He uses the power of telekinesis via his eyes (I think Ningyou also did the same) to stop the train and throw it towards Gilliam. Emile collapses as Sledge brings him in. Hime wonders why Emile would push himself so far. Inside the train coach, Hime reveals Emile can sometimes see fragments of the future since young. This was a reason Hime was saved from a car accident though this incident bore severe injuries on him that left him on the verge of death for several days. So Emile did it to protect normal humans. Riza is puzzled Emile’s action for protecting humans he hardly knows but is sure that Hime never runs and fights is because she stands on the side of justice. Hime didn’t answer. Flandre is looking through the train wreckage and sees Fratelus lying on the ground. He is still moving so this means his master is alive, right?

Episode 3 – Princess Island
I’m not sure if Buchi is part of Sherwood‘s team. I know that little lady has got gynoid Francesca and panda Ryu Ryu and if I remember she has a thing for Hiro. So is Buchi just tagging along to film some mystery? Anyway they land on the mysterious Birdcage Island with rumours that people go mentally unstable after a few days. Following which, they are trapped forever. Sounds scary, right? But there is nothing more they can do as the ground starts trembling and everything seen from Buchi’s video camera goes offline. Yeah, Buchi thought he saw something but he’s such a bad and amateur video cameraman that we don’t see anything.

Shortly, Hime and her team arrive at the island since Sherwood invited them. They are greeted by a little hooded ghost proclaiming himself as the hotel manager. Say, doesn’t he look familiar? Could he be that… Along the way, they discuss Birdcage Island’s nickname as Phantom Island because it isn’t on any map. Plus, no one knows when and where it will show up. Sherwood used her calculations and historical data to predict its appearance thus the reason they are able to see it now. Arriving inside the hotel (looks more like a castle), the see Gilliam and Fratelus. However they have no intention of fighting them because Sherwood also invited them. Same case with Sylvia and her team, gynoid Francette and Micasa. Sylvia mentions something about Hime finally being dragged in. Meanwhile a spider goddess, Nakua who was a stowaway on Hime’s boat gets out and sends her spider underlings to do some recon. Night falls as Reiri wakes up from her coffin and meets Nakua. She isn’t happy that Hime dragged her to an island while she was asleep. She can’t go back since she can’t cross large bodies of water. Most of everyone else is enjoying their dip at the hotspring. I’m sure the first thing you will ask when you see Sylvia is, is her boobs the biggest or Sawawa’s. Look at the monstrosity! They note that they have not met Sherwood and oddly no one has seen her yet. Gilliam and Fratelus are walking around when the former gets alerted upon seeing something.

Hime and her team go in search of Sherwood but sees Nakua (they seem to know her as she resides in the Sasanaki Temple). Nakua shows them Buchi’s camera and its footage of panic. Nakua’s spider subordinates found it deep in the jungles but before they can suggest to go search, the hooded ghost informs them that Gilliam has been killed! No, you’re not hearing things. Gilliam is indeed dead as they inspect his lifeless body at the fountain. Well, if he’s so, then his robot butler should self-destruct too, right? Speaking of which, an explosion occurs nearby and it is Fratelus on fire! I guess this proves Gilliam is indeed dead. Nearby are Sylvia and her team. The rest thought she is the culprit but she denies. She plans on going home because it is getting dangerous seeing the perpetrator is after the throne. She pinpoints Sherwood as Hime and Emile aren’t the type who would do this. Keziah notices he hasn’t seen Sledge so Riza suggests a roll call. Now Sawawa is missing too. She’s not in her room. Hime touches her bed and finds it warm. Riza and Hiro are going to look for her but Nakua tells them that she is right there. However they still want to go search for Sawawa. Soon another explosion rocks the boats at the pier. All the ships are on fire and Hime sees Emile watching. Could he be the one? Well, he says she can think what she wants. Emile walks away and Hime sees Sylvia’s lifeless body on the shore. Hiro limps over to Hime and says that Riza has been killed. She revives and asks who killed him. Unconsciously Hiro said “Gilliam”. Knowing what is happening, she decides to go find Sawawa.

Back in the room, they see Sawawa sleeping soundly. She was here all along. Hime explains they have been deceived. Or rather they have made false assumptions. All the assumptions they made in their heads became real. Take in the case when they were told Sherwood was missing, she disappeared. When they were told Gilliam was killed, he was dead. When the mentioned about Fratelus’ explosion, he soon burst into flames. Thus they were too preoccupied with their own assumptions that they ended up making different stories in their heads. So Sawawa was never missing in the first place and Gilliam wasn’t dead to begin with. Once they try to challenge a defined thought that they formed themselves in their heads, they end up not seeing or hearing anything related to it. If a person is continually provided with false information and other people perceive the same information differently, then such a situation will arise. The assumptions made were clearly to restrict their capacity to reason. At that time those imaginary things were close to them, they couldn’t perceive it and slowly they got isolated one by one. They’ll end up as prisoners on this island that eats people. Oh look. There’s a big eye in the mountain. To cut a long story short, everyone on this island is still alive. But they can’t get close to them anymore since they can’t just rewrite their memories according to the situation.

Morning arrives. Everyone seems dead. Yeah, it’s a bloody place. Everyone accept Hime and Nakua (nobody else met her, right?). Hime walks along towards a bridge to meet Sylvia. Hime believed Sylvia was still alive because she knows she was the one who forced the different assumptions on her and would therefore appear before her. They both draw their swords (what? No chainsaw this time?) and clash. Sylvia suggests settling this before Emile destroys the island. How? Using Flanders to pound the eye! I don’t it looked funny. So the ladies injure each other in their duel but Flanders’ pounding was so awesome that the vibration cracked the bridge. Looks like they’ll have to settle this another time. Sylvia falls off the broken piece she is standing on down into the chasm. Soon everyone wakes up from their illusion and Emile tells them they can go home since the problem has been solved. Just like that? So as everyone leaves, the island disappears from sight. Looks like Sawawa was the only one who thought she had fun. If she only knew… Oh heck, she’d never.

Warrior Princess
Well, I don’t know if there are going to be any more episodes. It’s been a mixed baggage for this OVA. It was fun to watch Hime and the gang take on their adversaries but the short number of episodes is unfair and not enough to flesh the characters out. Like I said, you need to have prior knowledge of the series. Perhaps because of that, I was stumped at a few scenes of how it turned out so and so. Like for instance especially in the third instalment, the reason why Sherwood would want to invite her siblings to the island. After 3 episodes, that is as much appearance she’ll get? Don’t see her trying to win Hiro over.

Somehow I do not find Hime as the aggressive and assertive princess she is in the TV series compared to here. She may still be enigmatic, taciturn and putting on deadpan and emotionless expressions but because of this, I couldn’t feel the impact between her relationship and Hiro. It doesn’t leave any impression that Hiro is being overly used as her servant (sorry, that’s how I see him in the TV series). Besides being a shield to take any convenient attacks, I felt he was just like a minor character and doesn’t stand out. The ‘animosity’ between Reiri and Riza is still there though I felt it is somewhat toned down. Maybe it’s because of the lesser number of episodes and Reiri do not mock and taunt her at each time they see each other. Because Sawawa do not make an often appearance, I didn’t feel so much of her airheadness. It’s nice to see some characters that do not appear in the TV series appearing here like Nakua, Gilliam and Sylvia. But the nature of the OVAs does not allow us to explore beyond what is shown. Like Sylvia’s character. She may look alright but does it hide any ulterior intentions? So if you watched the TV series and then the OVAs without reading the manga, you might wonder who the heck this little Nakua is.

Because of that I got a little piqued in interest and did a little research on some of the plots and characters (read: Brief skimming through Wikipedia). For instance how Micasa ended up as Sylvia’s Blood Warrior after Severin’s death (Micasa was Severin’s Blood Warrior in the TV series and this ambitious candidate died in Hime’s hands then), the mermaid’s real name (Madeleine) and how she subsequently became Sylvia’s Blood Warrior, how almost everyone died (Emile succumbed to some illness and some others in some explosion) and Hime was thrown into the future whereby Sherwood and Sylvia are the only remaining candidates left for the throne. Then there are many other characters too and the eldest sibling of them all, Duken who was part in the last war for the throne and the only survivor but wasn’t crowned. Wow. Looks interesting. Maybe they should make a continuation or more OVAs after all.

One of the major differences between this OVA and the original TV series is obviously the art and drawing. In my opinion, I still prefer the original TV version because everyone looks better (Hime was looking hot!). Though this OVAs’ art and drawing look more simplistic but this is how the original manga work looks like. In a way, I thought everyone just looked cutely odd. Another difference is the blood and gore. We see lots of them splatter here and there. The TV series was very much toned down as compared to the manga. I guess when you’re faced with zombies and other unearthly creatures, talking your way out is never the answer, right? And if you want to kill, might as well go all the way. No love lost. The action doesn’t disappoint though I won’t say that there is anything extraordinary. Of course it’s fun to see Hime wielding her chainsaw as always. I noticed that in each episode whenever Hime fights, she tends to get slightly injured on her shoulder. Is this her favourite spot in getting hit? And when Riza gets into a fight, she always ends up messy and bloodied. Maybe that’s how werewolves fight. Like a brawl.

Speaking of fanservice, there is a tiny bit here. I would never have thought of seeing any form of fanservice on Hime herself (there was none in the TV series) due to the nature of this princess but at certain scenes you do get a short panty shot glimpse. It’s a blink-or-you’ll-miss case so if you’re not paying attention, you’re not going to catch something that Hime and Reiri would never have revealed themselves. Ooo… Replaying that scene again… I would also consider there are some fanservice for Riza because the way she hangs her pants so low, it’s like you can almost see her butt! You can actually see her butt line. So much so, it’s dangerous enough that it might threaten to drop down anytime. No need to say anything more about Sylvia. Her monstrous boobs say it all.

I guess with a lot of things in the OVAs different, the seiyuus for the characters are completely different. In a way, it felt odd because I was so used (at least the way I remembered them) to how they were sound. Yeah something like Hime said, it’s hard to rewrite one’s memories. Instead of Ayako Kawasumi as Hime in the TV series, we have Saori Hayami (Musubi in Sekirei). Maybe that’s why Hime doesn’t sound assertive. Instead of a female voicing Hiro in the TV series (Fuyuka Oura, that is), we have a guy taking over, Miyu Irino (Syaoran in Tsubasa Chronicle). It made Hiro sound a little mature. Besides, Hiro wasn’t really panicky in this OVAs compared to the TV series. Mamiko Noto’s role as Reiri in the original is being replaced by Aki Toyosaki! I’m surprised! I couldn’t really recognize her because she wasn’t an airhead like she did in Yui from K-ON! Then we have Eri Kitamura as Riza (Ami in Toradora), Akira Ishida as Emile (Gaara in Naruto) and Ai Kayano as Sawawa (Menma in Ano Hana). For all the “Fuga~” gynoids, they are voiced by Yuka Iguchi of To Aru Majutsu No Index fame (yes, that annoying Index sister). I guess you can’t tell the different “Fuga~” because they don’t say it as often as they do. I still find it hilarious that a single “Fuga~” can mean so much and everyone can understand what they say. Speaking of which, though there is no opening theme, the ending theme is a slow instrumental rock piece and in certain lines you can hear “Fuga~” throughout the song. Uh huh. Word of the series, I guess. The background music plays to the tune of hard rock and definitely suit the action scenes but they may get too loud especially the bass. Or maybe it’s my hardware.

Going through this much hassle even for an underground being? And you thought humans have it worse or complicated. Perhaps there are dealings in which we mere humans don’t understand. Either way if they intend to make a TV sequel, a remake or a continuation with more OVAs, I’ll still be rooting for Hime and her team facing whatever monster troopers they will come across. I think this entire series pays homage to many of the horror characters, at least from the Western movies. And with such diversity among creatures, only one shall rule over them. Fuga…