Zombie Land Saga

February 3, 2019

At first I was going to give Zombie Land Saga the skip. Yeah, it was that time of the new anime season when I had to choose which animes I want to watch and had to be selective thanks to the dozens of animes I WANT to watch. Yeah, I’m such a busy (anime watching) guy. So when I heard about this show was going to have zombies, I said, “Skip!”. Not really into zombies. Not liking the horror genre. And then my guts told me to properly read the synopsis. What’s this? Not a horror genre? But a comedy? Okay… But then zombie idols? No thanks. Had my fair share of idol themed animes. So I said again, “Skip!”. And then my guts were like screaming to me this time, “You sure you read the damn synopsis properly?!”. What’s the big deal? Idols in the form of zombies taking storm in the idol industry, blah, blah, blah. So what?! And then my guts just told me to shut up and watch the first episode. I will not regret it. Sighs. Can’t argue with that, voices in my head. “In your head, in your head… Zombie, zombie, zombie-ie-ie…”.

Episode 1
Sakura Minamoto is excited to go for an idol audition. Life is going to be beautiful. When suddenly she gets hit by a truck! OMFG! Death metal music cue! Next thing she knows, she is a strange house. Exploring about, she is ‘attacked’ by a zombie girl! Run! Worse, she corners herself in a room full of other zombie girls! Luck is on her side as she manages to escape out. She tries to seek help from this policeman but he gets scared and shoots her! Sakura sees in the mirror… She is a zombie herself! Before the policeman could do anything further, he is taken out by Koutarou Tatsumi. Sakura wakes up back in the house as Koutarou explains she has died 10 years ago. Now revived as a zombie, she will become an idol to help save the Saga prefecture. So how did he revive her as a zombie? If you watched enough zombie movies, that’s your answer! Too bad Sakura is the only zombie with consciousness as the others are still mindless zombies. Don’t forget to feed them dried cuttlefish or they’ll bite you. Koutarou explains his Zombie Land Saga Project and they will revive the regional idol craze that has been dying in recent years as part of his plan to save Saga. That’s why he has put together these legendary girls to form an idol group. Sakura, meet legendary biker boss Saki Nikaidou, legendary 80’s idol Junko Konno, legendary Meiji courtesan Yugiri, legendary child prodigy actress Lily Hoshikawa, legendary 2000’s idol Ai Mizuno and just legendary Tae Yamada. So tonight they’re going to have their first performance? At this death metal live concert?! Thanks to Koutarou’s makeup skills, the girls do look pretty dolled up. With the zombie girls suddenly doing head banging, Sakura gets worried unlike Koutarou. He tells them nobody expects anything from them. Not even himself. So go out there and blow everybody’s expectations away! On stage, as expected, the death metal crowd is hostile towards cute idols, Death Musume (temporary group name). More trouble as Tae jumps into the crowd and starts biting. Sakura is already confused and starting to panic when Koutarou gives the cue to start the death metal music. So how do zombies sing? THEY SCREAM!!! Holy sh*t! The crowd loves it! And with their head banging style, they’re really going to rock everybody tonight! If you can’t beat them, join them! Scream your heart out, Sakura!!! OH YEAH!!!! Next morning back home, I guess Sakura must be pretty confused. But not as confused as the other zombie girls (except Tae) start to regain consciousness and are pretty horrified over their zombie condition. Good morning everybody.

Episode 2
Our zombie girls gather as Koutarou once more explain his Zombie Land Saga Project and he is their mysterious producer. No kidding. Not that the rest are impressed anyway. He reminds them to keep their zombie identity a secret because you know what humans will do to zombies? Here’s a few clips from American movies. ZOMBIES HAVING THEIR BRAINS BLOW OFF!!! Since they’ll have another performance at some old folks home, it’s time for idol training. Only Sakura goes along while the rest ignores him. Because of that Saki has bad blood with Sakura for being a pussy to that zombie producer. Ai tries to get away but looks like Koutarou’s zombie pet dog, Romero is guarding the door. Don’t let your imagination fool you… Aww… So cute… Ai still tries to get away but bumps into Junko doing the same. Yeah, zombies freaking out each other. Sakura tries to stop them but don’t pull too hard or their hands and even eyeballs will come off! Sakura explains she is going along with Koutarou because during their previous performance, she felt that excitement in her heart. Wait a minute. Zombies have feelings? Anyway she wants to feel that again. In town, the trio stumble into rapper boys who try to hit them with their cheesy hip hop rap lines. They are ‘saved’ when the policeman is here but with better lighting and seeing their zombie face, let the scream fest begin! They almost get shot by the policeman! Run! It’s time for the performance as the zombie girls are now known as Green Face. Don’t ask. With the normal idol music starting, the usual chaos. Tae still a zombie and the rest just standing there and only Sakura doing some dancing. Until Tae decides to bite the dried cuttlefish from some old guy and when Sakura tries to get her back, her head pops off! OMG! Nice magic trick, right? With Saki fooling around not wanting to put Tae’s head back, suddenly Sakura snaps. She reprimands Saki for not even trying to hide their zombie identity! Oops? Then it descends into a hip hop rap battle among them and others slowly adding some beatboxing and sound effects. But it is Sakura who takes the cake as she starts showing her rap prowess to diss everyone including the audience. In the end, everybody loves it!!! Best performance they’ve ever seen! Even death metal fans can convert to this music style! Later Sakura apologizes to Saki for it all but looks like Saki admires her guts and now becomes her friend.

Episode 3
No rest for our zombie girls. Heh. Do zombies need rest? This time, Koutarou will have them do a guerrilla concert in the streets of Saga. That’s tomorrow and need to practice everything tonight. Hey, it’s not like zombies need to sleep, right? But first, Lily suggests having a group leader. Saki appoints herself since no one dares take it up. Then they brainstorm (oh, the irony) for a group name and many of them stinks. Ironically, zombies don’t smell so they don’t stink, right? Haha! Anyway, it is only when Tae somewhat sneezes, they hit upon an idea. Her sneeze sounded like Franchouchou and so this is going to be their group name. But as soon as they begin practising, those with no idol background soon find it heart. Wow. Zombies losing heart? But after some thinking, they believe putting hard work will make them pull through. Even as they return to practice, some mistakes are made and this causes Ai and Junko to leave. Not interested. Koutarou has some ‘advice’ for them as they think this idol thingy will fail. Why did they become idols? The rest are trying to live despite being zombies but they are just rotting away. A zombie who doesn’t dance is just a regular zombie. OMG… Next day as they begin their guerrilla concert, only Ai and Junko remain in the car and won’t join the rest. Hmm… Mediocre techno track but horrible CGI animation!!! They attract a decent crowd but when Lily makes a mistake and trips, Sakura tries to help her out. This breaks the momentum as the crowd disperses. They try to get back into the groove but nobody is seriously watching and just sniggering what a bunch of weirdoes. Just when Sakura thought it is all over for them, Ai and Junko jump in to perform. Even though their performance is slightly better this time, they at least attract the attention of a young girl who is excited enough to try and imitate their moves. In the end, they thank her but promise to do better next time. But Franchouchou have to leave as the policeman is here threatening to arrest them for performing without a permit. Luckily, no gunshots were fired this time. Back home, Sakura expresses her gratitude to Ai and Junko and hopes they can work together. The duo feel awkward but at least now they want to try and make this work.

Episode 4
Not sure if Koutarou is praising them or belittling his zombie girls. I think it’s more of the latter. Because now here’s the problem: They ran out of money! Gas don’t come free from chauffeuring the girls everywhere. But don’t despair. He has hooked them up with some pharmaceutical company and they’ll do some performance at a hotspring. If everything goes right, they’ll have a contract. Sounds fun and all until Franchouchou is ordered to do all the practice in their room and can’t go out and do anything fun. Don’t want their zombie identity to be busted, right? However Franchouchou isn’t happy with this double standard since Koutarou himself tells them straight he is going sightseeing while they practice. So why work so hard? Yeah, they go sightseeing too. Meanwhile Koutarou actually sees the boss of the pharmaceutical company and looks like his suaveness could actually seal the deal. On the other hand, the girls get to do some reflection and thinking about their future. Eventually they get motivated to see this through. Going back to their room, they try to learn more about the pharmaceutical product. Even though they are zombies, man those patches make them feel good! Is it because they are dead their skin absorbs better? Dead skin absorbs?! They incorporate this during their performance and the crowd loves them. Double the pleasure, double the happiness. Dead in the night, Saki and Junko try to coax Sakura to sneak into the hotspring while the rest is asleep. You better make sure nobody finds out. So as they enjoy and relax, the pharmaceutical boss comes in. Hide! An accident happens as Sakura head pops off! The boss sees it and runs for her life! The scream wakes up the others and now the boss has to confront creepy zombies in the creepy hallways! RUN!!! Next day as they leave, Koutarou is shocked to learn the boss was so scared that she forgot the deals they had made. Now the hotspring is listed as a haunted place as Koutarou gives Sakura a stern warning. I wonder what could be more than rolling heads. But thanks to the patches, Franchouchou are motivated to make up and earn money next time.

Episode 5
I suppose Koutarou isn’t going to let that hotspring fail go easily. Franchouchou’s next job is to do commercial for a locally famous Drive-in Tori chicken shop. Nobody is excited or knows about this except for Saki. Apparently during her heydays, she often stopped here with her gang to eat. The president treats them to their signature grilled chicken. Tastes good. Then they put on chicken outfits to film the commercial. Too bad they need several takes since Tae is giving out those zombie sounds. With some improvising, the shoot was a success. However Koutarou isn’t satisfied. He tells his girls if they really chicken up. WTF?! So when Tae starts trying to eat the real mascot chicken, Koutarou wants the crew to film and incorporate this! Yeah, funny commercial… In the end, the girls thought they could have more grilled chicken as gifts. Too bad, just some t-shirts. Can’t have them eating everything, right? But no rest for Franchouchou as the next job to boost their profile is Gatalympics. A local sports event. Let’s say it’s muddy and messy. Again, Saki is the only one super excited for this. Heck, Koutarou has them wear lame Franchouchou design t-shirts for this event. For the first event, participants have to cycle across a thin slippery board. Fall off and you’re muddied and out. All our girls fail. When they wash off the mud, they realize they are in zombie mode! Heck, dive back into the mud! Then they see Koutarou participating and hope to laugh when he falls. However… He crosses the finish line! And a wheelie to go with that! WTF?! Next is some Tarzan swing. Judges judge you by how far you swing as well as your showmanship. As expected, our zombie girls either flor or put on a good show but fail to get some distance. Until it is Tae’s turn. She swings the furthest but then she breaks apart in mid-air!!! Thanks to the sun in everyone’s eyes, nobody could clearly see what happened! So the rest have to scramble and quickly put her back together again! Tae wins the event but too bad her zombie groaning means she can’t speak or advertise for Franchouchou. Sakura remembers she wore another shirt beneath and tells her to show it off. Uhm… It’s that Drive-in Tori chicken t-shirt… Nice bird… Meanwhile a journalist remembers why Junko looks familiar. He is going to investigate this.

Episode 6
In order to find out today’s trend, thank goodness for internet! For some reason doing so is forbidden by Koutarou and they’re doing this secretly. Ai talks about the many idol groups that form and break up as well as their staying power over the years. Ai and Junko have different ideas on what makes an idol. Ai believes fans want to see their idols improve over time because if you’re trying to be perfect from the start, there won’t be anything to manage. They stumble upon Saga Rock Festival. Possibly the biggest music fest in the prefecture. Iron Frill, Ai’s previous idol group is going to perform there. Koutarou announces a big job for Franchouchou. They’re going to have a special event from fans thanks to their successful advertising. Yes, Franchouchou has fans now. First they do a concert and these fans really love them. Next is the photo session. However Junko has cold feet and opts out. She doesn’t believe this is how an idol should be. Worst, she said it in public. So back home, I guess Koutarou is very disappointed and lectures them. Not much. But soon Ai and Junko become loggerheads again at their different approach for being an idol. Remember, they are from different eras. This causes tension among them and it affects the whole group. Sakura talks to Junko and learns her ideal of what being an idol is. Because she is mostly an idol on TV, she believes in giving fans her dreams and not showing any imperfections. She worked hard for it but unfortunately she died in a plane crash when she was about to head to Saga for her first tour. Junko feels she can’t be part of Franchouchou any longer. Meanwhile Saki finds Ai cowering from the lightning flashes and thunder. Their talk reveals Ai is afraid of them because that was how she died! Apparently her group was performing during the thunderstorm of the outdoor concert at Saga when lightning struck! OMG. She has got to be so bad luck to die like that. Died standing. The kind of legend she doesn’t want to be remembered by. And then Koutarou relays the good news. He has got Franchouchou to perform as the newcomer line-up for this year’s Saga Rock! Oh dear. Ai and Junko remembering their tragedies… And nobody’s excited…

Episode 7
The rest are wondering if they should go ahead because it has been 2 weeks since Junko barricaded herself in her room. Sakura thought they should ask Koutarou for help but got scolded to figure it out themselves! Should have known this better herself. No choice, Ai suggests they practice without Junko. I guess the time is right for Koutarou to barge in and give Junko an earful. Yeah, aren’t zombies the ones supposed to be on the other side of the barricade? First he tells her about the age of the internet and how everything is so online and hence he understands why she is so afraid. Things have changed, people have changed. Franchouchou are zombies, not robots. So it’s safe to say that everyone still has their own personality? Franchouchou exists to support each other’s dreams. As one isn’t enough to achieve herself, that’s why they have each other. He also tells her about how Ai died and her fears. Because it is predicted that a storm will hit this year’s Saga Rock. On the day of the festival, the rest prepare to head out but no Junko in sight. I don’t know why she need to wait till last minute to decide to follow them. Is it for drama effect? Because Koutarou rams his van into her! Is there some sort of lesson her? With Junko steeling her resolve, Franchouchou is back in business. Before the festival, Koutarou sprays them to make them waterproof. Shoe spray? Then they watch Iron Frill perform. By the time it is Franchouchou’s turn to go on stage, the rain is already heavily pouring. Many take cover since they think they won’t lose much missing this never-heard-of group. As they begin, it is obvious that Ai is shaky and breaking up from the lightning flashes. Before she breaks down, Junko covers for her and they proceed to sing the rest of the song perfectly. At the end of it, lightning strikes! Holy sh*t! Again?! Thank goodness that’s the benefit of being a zombie, eh? Koutarou won’t let it stop here and continues the music. So now Franchouchou have other ‘special effects’. They are glowing and their voices are like synthesizers. They can also shoot light beams from their fingers? No wonder the fans are so thrilled in seeing their performance. It’s like angels have descended onto Saga Rock!

Episode 8
Franchouchou are considered famous with articles about them and even the internet is talking about them. With a few more events, there is another photo shoot. This time they noticed this huge guy. They think he is a loan shark looking for Koutarou. But wait. He is waiting in Lily’s line. Is he here to kidnap her? When it’s his turn, he puts his hands on her shoulders, prompting Saki to kick him away! Interrogating him, he apologizes and thought Lily looked like that child star he knew. Back home, Lily reveals the truth. That guy is her father! OMG! Wait. If he was so big standing in that line, wouldn’t have Lily saw him? Unless too focused in front. Anyway, Lily is indeed his child as she takes after her mom. Mom died a long time ago but Lily never felt alone because papa was always with her. Because he loved TV so much, she decided to go into TV and with him being her manager, they can always be together. But one day, something happened. Lily refused to appear on an important TV show. And there’s something about she will never grow up too. When Lily saw in the mirror a small hair on her chin, she died of shock!!!! So Lily is actually a guy and her former name is Masao Gou?! Why didn’t the other girls notice this despite being so close together? My theory is that his junk dropped off… Haha! Sorry… More flashbacks from the father’s side. He was so engrossed in this TV thingy, he never realized the important things until Lily died. That is when he hated TV and never watched one ever since. But papa comes to terms this Lily couldn’t be his child so the next photo session, he goes to apologize for scaring her while also blaming himself for being a bad parent. This breaks Lily’s heart (and ours) so after Lily cried enough tears, Franchouchou organizes a special mini concert just for him. They’ve done all they can but he didn’t show up. You know how the heroes always show up at the last moment. You can’t miss him. That big guy at the back. It is the cue for Franchouchou to sing their new song with Lily in the lead. A lovely and beautiful ballad dedicated to papa. Damn it, somebody bring me a box of tissues! In the aftermath, papa doesn’t hate TV so much and returns watching them.

Episode 9
So now Franchouchou have to dance with the old folks? Weird, but this is part of Koutarou’s plan to appeal to the demographic since Saga has a lot of old people. During the break, Sakura is confronted with this delinquent girl and her mini group, Maria. She doesn’t like such dancing on her turf? Until Saki shows up, she leaves. But it brings back some memories because Maria is now the leader of the biker group she was once in, Dorami. Later as Maria pouts about it, they are confronted with their eternal biker group rival, Korosuke led by Misa. Saki on her way back butts in. This could have blown out of proportion had the policeman threaten to call reinforcement. Misa will settle this another way soon. Maria is not pleased with Saki’s interference but when Saki asks about her mom, Reiko, Maria ignores her. Maria returns home and mom is worried. She hates mom who was once the leader of Dorami and is now pathetic and apologizing for nothing. Reiko is worried because there is a challenge letter in the mail and wants Maria to stop this. Like daughter will listen. Meanwhile Koutarou warns Saki about getting into a fight because if idols get into violence, it will be the end of them. It will be the end of Franchouchou. Saki ‘gets it’. However she sees Misa’s entourage passing by and has a bad feeling. Reiko realizes Maria has snuck out. She sees the challenge letter at a certain place. It brought back bad memories because that was where Saki was killed in a twisted chicken race. And now, Maria might share the same fate as she prepares to do it with Misa. Dust off those dirt on your old bike and get ready to save your daughter. This chicken game has both girls riding towards the cliff. The first one brakes, loses. Reiko reaches in time to try and stop them but Maria again is unimpressed. Now here comes Saki. She appoints herself as Dorami’s captain for the day and will take the challenge. She reminds Maria that if she knows Dorami’s history, somebody died. Is she prepared to put her life on the line? Reiko thought she is Saki but she plays dumb. The race begins and Misa is shocked that Saki accelerates. Saki goes off the cliff! Déjà vu? The perks of being a zombie, she can get back up. Reiko then punches Saki for doing something this stupid. In turn, Saki tells Maria that her mom has got guts. If she intends to continue with Dorami, she must prove to mom that she doesn’t have to worry about her. Saki then tells everybody this is no longer the trend to become legendary. This is: Everyone is invited to Franchouchou’s concert as Saki takes the lead in singing a badass delinquent rock piece. Ride on!

Episode 10
Sakura is glad Franchouchou members are feeling a lot better (despite being zombies) but Sakura still has no memories of life before being a zombie. Koutarou announces Franchouchou will perform in a big concert hall, Arpino. Sakura is so excited that she messes up her practice. And then suddenly Koutarou has them go camping in the snowy mountains as part of the practice. You mean right now? Not sure if they reached the spot thanks to the poorly drawn map. But upon reaching, all of them decide to do the basics of survival like starting a fire, collecting shrubs, fishing and hunting for food. Do the dead need all that? Except for Sakura who remains adamant they need to practice. Unfortunately she is only doing it alone. And then when they decide to set a trap to catch a boar (because do zombies really crave for meat?), Sakura accidentally falls into a trap and here comes papa boar! Can someone who is already dead play dead? The boar eats her instead! Now it’s Tae versus the boar! Although the boar is chased away, now here comes Koutarou being preachy. Only Sakura is not amused. She blows her top (ironically her head was torn off) and decides to go home. What you gonna do Koutarou? Pull back! During practice, Sakura remains sloppy but she blames everyone that they were fooling around instead of practising like her. Later Yugiri confronts Koutarou and knows this mountain trip was a bid to help Sakura. Though Koutarou dismisses and that his plan is to save Saga’s depopulation. Then Yugiri slaps him! Have more faith in her! Eh? Isn’t that what Koutarou said? Confused. Sakura finds herself awkward after all that. However she sees her comrades planning their performance in sync. That is when she realizes that the mountain camp was all about teamwork and she selfishly sit out of it. She apologizes and rejoins her team. With everything back to normal, Sakura is back to her happy self. Next morning she decides to go jogging, that damn déjà vu again as a truck slams into her! OMG! The truck guy would have wanted to do something had he not feared Romero. Sakura regains consciousness. Yeah, she’s dead, remember? However she doesn’t have memories of her idol stint. Now she passes out. Or is she dead?!

Episode 11
Déjà vu again for Sakura. Waking up in a strange dark house. Tae attack! Run for your life! Entering the room with other zombie girls, she gets scared while the others are confused. Then, Tae attack! Later Sakura comes to again and she is happy to see Ai of Iron Frills. However Ai tells her the brutal truth and Sakura is unable to accept it. It is confirmed she has lost her memories when she is a zombie but in turn now has her life memories. With Sakura refusing everything, this puts their Arpino event in danger. She remains adamant that nothing good will come out of anything she tries. So all the girls try to take turn to talk to her but the pessimism force is strong in her. When it is Yugiri’s turn to talk to her, I guess she wasted dolling herself up as a geisha as Sakura has ran away. We see her reminisce about her past. All nothing but bad memories. Like when she was chosen to play Snow White, she worked so hard but on the play day she got a cold and had to miss it. During her middle school years, she trained hard to be on the relay team but every time she pulled a muscle on the opening ceremony. Then she studied hard to enter the high school she wanted and stopped hanging out with friends and do all the fun stuffs. Nothing but study. She scored great during the mock exams but during the actual day, she had to help grannies in trouble. Barely reaching the hall in time, she panicked and it ended with failure. Depressed, she saw Ai’s interview of not giving up and working hard and that reignited her passion again but we all knew what happened. Reminiscence interrupted when policeman speaks to her. Yeah, déjà vu again. Zombie! Luckily Koutarou is here to save the day. They talk and as usual, Sakura is being pessimistic because with everything bad always happening to her, she thinks it is best she doesn’t become an idol. She doesn’t care about his plans to save Saga and they can go ahead without her. Well, if that is how you feel, so be it. Be stuck in feeling like sh*t for the rest of your life. Although technically she’s already dead. Sad Sakura resigns to her fate but Koutarou returns! He hasn’t given up on her yet! With more big intimidating words, he says he will never abandon her.

Episode 12
Sakura reluctantly returns to the group but sits out during practice and remains depressed. During handing out of flyers, she is surprised there are fans who come to greet and praise her. Still, all meaningless to her. More depression. Sighs. Do zombies really feel depressed? I guess Tae can’t take this anymore and attacks her! She brings her back to the rest as they try to motivate her. However she doesn’t appreciate it because she can’t remember a thing with them. Time for Yugiri’s slap and lecture. She reminds her that it was her who motivated them to get this far. If Sakura says she doesn’t want to be with them on stage so they can succeed, they rather be on stage with her and fail! Sakura returns to practice and amazingly her body remembers the moves as she was the one who practised a lot. When the mirror cracks, Sakura almost returns to her pessimistic ways but the rest punch it broken. She isn’t the only one with bad luck. They’re all dead. So let’s see what a bunch of bad luck zombies can do! Meanwhile it is hinted that Koutarou was Sakura’s classmate and not sure if it was her who introduced her to the world of idol because he was enthralled by her smile. Franchouchou go up on stage at Arpino. The hall is full and Franchouchou dances to the crowd’s delight. And then signs of bad omen. Uhm, the tree just crashed into the window. Isn’t it a sign to leave? No matter. Continue performing. Then the roof starts collapsing! Don’t mind. Continue. And then the entire stage collapses!!! Damn! Does God really want them off stage?! With everyone in shock, but slowly Franchouchou gets back up (because Koutarou’s slow clap?) and get back to singing! And then there is enough power for music and lights to make them continue their outstanding performance! Hah! Take that, God! You can’t bring down our zombie girls!!! Back stage, the girls are happy that Sakura has her memories back. She apologizes and hopes they can be together. Koutarou spoils their party and tells them to get their asses back on stage to give the crowd an encore! Franchouchou forever! Final cliff-hanger: The journalist finally has put the picture together about the members of Franchouchou. He smells something stinky going on…

Saga Living Dead Idol
OMG! My guts! My dear guts! You were so right! I love this series! This series was amazing! Although it is not a masterpiece but I enjoyed a lot of it. So you see, sometimes all you need to do is give that first chance and everything else will fall in its place. Man, I don’t know what I would have been missing had I really skipped out on this one. By the end of the first episode, I was already hooked and loving the zombie girls as I really wanted to see how far they can go and achieve in their new zombie life. I mean, hey, it’s not like you get to see and hear zombie idols every day, right? We have idols who are from outer space, idols from the spiritual world and all other walks of life. But have you ever heard of a zombie idol? Yeah…

Sure, this series has its ups and downs. It is not perfect after all. I realized that I have built up some sort of expectations for this series as I go along. Probably that is why I felt a bit ‘disappointed’ when the series ended. Before I knew it, the series has already reached its end with its dozen of episodes. Eh, you mean this isn’t going to go on for another cour? Oh well, maybe they need time to cook up some more plots and storylines as this series is an original anime series and not based on any manga or game.

So perhaps my initial disappointment of certain parts left unexplained is unfounded. For example, we have some of the episodes that flesh out the girls’ past and their trauma. Not really in depth and detail but it is sufficient enough to give you an idea of their past. Therefore I was somewhat disappointed when it ended because I realized doesn’t Yugiri have a past of her own? Was she left out? After all, all of Franchouchou members died in an untimely manner so it would have been interesting to see how Yugiri as the ‘oldest’ member died. Poisoned by a fellow jealous courtesan? Can’t say she died of old age because she is such a beautiful and young woman in her zombie form so she must have died during her youthful days.

But the biggest dissatisfaction in terms of the character comes from Tae. I thought this zombie girls was some sort of secret weapon or trump card to Franchouchou. And that they will leave it to the final arc of the series to finally transform her and give her a conscience like the rest. Maybe she has some secret laser cannon in her belly to shoot aliens out of the sky? Haha! Freaky. Unfortunately, she remains a retard for the rest of the series. It is not a bad thing but it is hard to say if Tae being a retard is cute or annoying. Maybe a bit of both. You see, Tae isn’t completely mindless zombie like how they are in the beginning. As the series progresses, you will find that Tae is capable of listening to orders and even doing the simplest of tasks. It is just that her intelligence is not as ‘high’ as what we would considered as ‘civilized’. Hence Tae feels more like an animal moved by instincts rather than complicated goals and ambitions like the rest. Even at this point I myself begin to wonder if Tae actually becomes conscious, would she still be the Tae we all have gotten to know and love. Tae will always be Tae so a change in character would only be for a shock twist.

I also had this thought that Franchouchou will face an enemy. No, not another rival idol group but I had that idea too. The fact that there was a journalist that seemed to be curious about them, that died out after Franchouchou’s status elevated to become angels. Therefore the danger of Franchouchou’s real identity being found out puts a risk on them as the pesky journalist intends to get to the bottom of it all no matter what. This is hinted in the final scene cliff-hanger so if this series gets another season, my bet is that this trouble might soon follow for our zombie girls. After all, we have seen them defy acts of God trying to kill them! And yet they stand back up. Ah, the perks of being a zombie. Did God forget zombies can’t technically die just like Him? Hence I think even in the worst case scenario the journalist did expose them, the most he could do is kill their idol career. But I guess that would be like being dead because Franchouchou is only alive being idols. Let’s hope that never happens.

My next trivial nit-picking is regards to whether or not zombies feel anything. Whether it is physical pain or emotions. Well, from what we have seen here, the zombie girls do experience different types of emotions from happiness to depression. I don’t know, I’m not well versed in zombies so I have always thought they would be dead on the inside and have no feelings. Even if the lore here allows for the zombie girls to have feelings, it feels rather inconsistent. For example if their heads or body parts drop off, do they not feel any pain? It’s like they don’t feel anything in this department but at the same time they can feel happy or depressed? Ironically, if zombies don’t need to eat or sleep, we see Franchouchou doing so, would it be like redundant? I mean, do zombies get tired? I thought in this state your natural limiters are off? I don’t know. So in regards to this topic, it feels somewhat inconsistent to me. But one thing is for sure, Franchouchou is more alive as zombies than they were as humans! Oh, the irony. It must be those magic patches. I gotta get me some of those patches too!

One of the most interesting characters that you would love to hate but also love to love is Koutarou. This guy is like everything. I don’t know if I described him properly but he feels like larger than life. You got to love his loud and flamboyant ways. He is always at my pace and you don’t really know what is going on in his mind. From certain angles, he sounds like a big bully and drill sergeant because of his constant yelling at Franchouchou for whatever reasons. I’m not sure being loud = motivation. It’s not like the zombie girls are death, right? RIGHT?! He also uses big words but it feels it lacks any sort of meaning. It’s just like for show. It’s not what it means, it’s how he says it. That’s why when he starts ranting out loud, the girls don’t really understand all that he mean but it certainly makes you feel that there is something big going on. Although he looks like he doesn’t give a damn at what you say, many times he does care for his girls. It’s not the usual cutie tender loving love that you would expect. More shouting and nonsensical ranting. And then when he surprisingly goes into his soft speaking mode with advice that really hit you, before his words can sink in, it’s back to that loudmouth comeback or whatever. Gotta love this guy or what? Yeah, better get used to it. GOT IT???!!!

Koutarou is also one of the mysterious characters because although he says his goal is to save Saga from depopulation, it feels like there is an ulterior and hidden agenda beneath it all. If he wants to revive Saga and bring youths to the prefecture, are zombie idols the way to go? Could it be this zombie idol thingy is just a cover to fight the zombie apocalypse! Gasp! Plot twist! Maybe that’s what the opening credits are hinting… Yeah. Now you wonder why Tae is just legendary Tae… After all, it is not really explained why he chose these particular zombie girls and even more curious and baffling is how he brought them back to life. How did they all (except for Tae) regain their consciousness about the same time? How long and where were the dead girls preserved? How did Koutarou get their hands on them (because if you consider Yugiri as the ‘oldest’, her body must have been preserved somewhere, right?). So all these questions make Koutarou sound even more suspicious and shady than he looks even if he already told us to use our imaginations and stereotypes to come to our conclusions. Uh huh. Maybe he doesn’t even know. But because of his flamboyant, my pace and ‘charismatic’ (*puking*) ways, we let it slide and go with his flow. Can’t argue with him, no? No. Don’t argue with him if you know what’s good for you! This guy is damn good in persuasion and if he does sales, I’m sure he’ll make a killing.

For the Franchouchou girls as I have mentioned some of them in my previous paragraphs, the different backgrounds of the girls are amusing and interesting. We see a glimpse of some of their past but it is sad that we didn’t get to see Yugiri and Tae due to Sakura ‘hogging’ the final arc for some ultimate drama and plot device to further enhance the bonding of the Franchouchou members. My favourite and most touching story goes to Lily. That was almost a tear jerker and sad story of her father and her son, uhm, daughter? That one really pulled my heart strings. It was sad, it was inspiring, it was bittersweet, it was overall heart-warming and lovely.

Oddly, I know that some of the Franchouchou girls are not that famous (Yugiri’s dead for a long time so obviously nobody knows her, Junko’s fans may have forgotten and moved on) but if you consider Ai and Lily who are considered popular enough especially the former, it is mind boggling to think that nobody actually thought that Ai looks like the dead member of Iron Frills. Looks like her, sounds like her, but she’s dead, so nah, can’t be her. Since the Franchouchou members’ stage name are numbers (like Sakura is Number One, Saki is Number Two, Tae is Number Zero, etc), so it helps in masking their identity. But don’t tell me fans aren’t dying to know their real names? They have a webpage, you know? Or do they think that being mysterious idols and not knowing everything about them (otherwise it makes you look like some creepy perverted stalker knowing every inch of their detail) has some sort of charm to it?

As for the other side characters, Romero seems a bit wasted as the series’ mascot. I am not sure if everyone sees this little zombie puppy differently. Because they see it as a vicious dog. Otherwise from our viewers’ perspective, it is just a cute harmless puppy whose bark is properly cuter than its bite. There is also a running joke of that lone policeman dude. He has the bad luck of stumbling into our zombie girls and gets freaked out and whipping out his gun. Heh. Has he ever seen zombie movies? But one would wonder if he ever learns from this because this scene happens and repeats almost always the same. I assume this guy is single so he makes cheesy pick up ‘arrest’ lines and when he realizes the zombie face of the girls, he goes berserk. You would think that he has seen this so many times, he would have at least taken some precautions or stop doing his night patrol. Maybe it is all a dream. Yeah, must be bad luck to have the same kind of recurring dream all the time! It is also amazing he doesn’t experience any sort of trauma after a few encounters. From the way he freaks out every time, I think if I was him, once is enough for me to get out of the police force! There is also a couple of death metal hardcores who have become fans of Franchouchou and it is just odd to see them still in their death metal makeup and all. Shouldn’t they be dressing closely to match their favourite idols? Nah. Maybe they still want to keep their death metal identity.

Being a show that is about saving Saga, of course there are going to be some promotions of what the prefecture would offer. The most blatant one would be that Drive-in Tori chicken shop. I am not sure how famous this restaurant is in the prefecture but I can bet that its popularity or at least the number of people knowing about it after watching this anime has skyrocketed. Guess what? I saw a simple Q&A on Google that asks if there are zombies in the area! WTF?! Of course, the answer as expected: No, there aren’t. Aside from this hogging and taking a big chunk of the promotion of Saga, there are also others like foodstuffs and local arts and crafts. But these are mainly featured during the mid-intermission eye-catches.

Being an idol themed series, one of the biggest highlights of it all is of course the songs (mostly sung by Franchouchou). While not every song is my favourite but some of them are quite memorable. For instance, the opening theme Adabana Necromancy. The song might feel a bit out of place because it sounds like a song very much suited for a sentai series! Even more so, the animation has the girls in clichéd coloured tokusatsu style fighting zombies! Yeah, it’s that awesome. After all, Franchouchou not only sings songs that are so pop idol generic. They branch out into many other genres and hence these types of songs are my favourite. For example the dissing rap pieces of Dead Or Rap and Saga Arcade Rap, the lovely tribute ballad of To My Dearest, the badass delinquent-like Tokkou Dance and even that head banging death metal Youkoso Saga E! Actually, not to say that I love that death metal song, but it is so funny and with the girls doing their head banging, it’s just hilarious to watch and listen. Other pop idol songs aren’t too shabby too like the techno synthesizer filled Mezame Returner and the rock revival piece of Yomigaere but not really as amusing and entertaining to hear compared to the rest. Oh, I almost forgot another song I prefer, the ending theme of Hikari E is another slow lovely ballad. But sometimes it sounds a lot like a graduation song.

The best voice acting goes to Mamoru Miyano as Koutarou. This guy really rocks in his role. Like as though he was born to voice this character. He played it so well to perfection that I can see no other seiyuus replacing him for this character. If you think Show By Rock’s Shuuzou, Soul Eater’s Death The Kid and Tada-kun Wa Koi Wo Shinai’s Kaoru defines his lively joker voice, wait till you hear this one. Kudos and hats off to Mamoru Miyano! I suppose Kotono Mitsuishi has the ‘easiest’ job as Tae (Boa Hancock in One Piece). Just moan and sound like a retard all the way! Oh well, once you think about it, it’s not easy to do that for the rest of the series and still maintain your sanity.

Oddly even Romero has someone behind its voice. So is this technically the easiest voice acting role? Anyway, sometimes Romero’s bark doesn’t sound like an authentic dog and more like some gay dude climaxing (serious! That’s what I thought sometimes!) as zombie pup is voiced by Yasuhiro Takato (Gluttony in Fullmetal Alchemist). Other casts are Kaede Hondo as Sakura (Kon in Urara Meirocho), Asami Tano as Saki (Sarah in Love Live! Sunshine), Risa Taneda as Ai (Yukina in Strike The Blood), Maki Kawase as Junko (Ingrid in Hyakuren No Haou To Seiyaku No Valkyria), Minami Tanaka as Lily (Mary in Kakegurui), Rika Kinugawa as Yugiri (Takako in Orange) and Hiroyuki Yoshino as the policeman (Saruyama in To Love-Ru).

Art and animation are pretty standard. Everything is bright colourful while our Franchouchou girls look cute even in their zombie forms. Even supposed ‘horror’ moments like when the scene goes exaggerated in showing them as horrible zombies, they still look cute instead of frightening. But there is one aspect of this that is ‘frightening’. Yeah, the use of horrendous CGI! Not sure if I got used to it because I don’t seem to mind it (thanks to me having fun watching the series) but I’m wondering if this is the current standard of the industry as many idol dances are now using this CGI output. This anime is animated by Mappa who did Shingeki No Bahamut series, Teekyuu, Punch Line, Banana Fish, Zankyou No Terror and Kakegurui.

Overall, never judge a zombie flick by its cover. A lesson learnt. For now. This is easily one of the best series of the season. It is funny and it is heart-warming all together in one package. The irony of zombies bringing life to this anime is very much underrated and underappreciated. I hope this series gets another season to flesh out the characters and plot properly. And then we can see Franchouchou not only taking over Saga, but the rest of Japan and hopefully conquer the entire world! After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And Franchouchou can only grow from strength to strength without having to worry about dying all over again. Now, if only they can do a cover of The Cranberries’ Zombie, that would be so perfect and legendary…

I guess this is what procrastination does. But better late than never, right? And so finally I decided to keep my promise the last time and watch the next season of Pretty Rhythm, Pretty Rhythm Dear My Future. At this point it feels like ages and there is a risk that I have forgotten a lot about the first season. But thankfully new characters and somewhat new plots so I don’t have to remember that much, right? But still, it builds on the old one. Oh well, time to tuck in and watch 51 episodes of the second season and remind myself why I felt like a little girl while watching this series. Hey, sometimes you have got to get your inner feminism out once in a while. Okay, that wasn’t particularly a good reason.

MARs on top – Haven’t you heard? It has been 3 years and now the group has become the best Prism Stars in the world! This means Pretty Top is the best Prism Star producing school and Asechi is raking in all the cash. Too bad all the money in the world still cannot land her a man…

Mia Ageha – Perky and energetic girl who self-proclaims to beat Aira and become the number one Prism Queen. Very confronting if you ask me. The type that shoots first and do the thinking later. This means she doesn’t know anything despite sounding like she does so that we can have the cliché moment for the rest to explain to us viewers what they are. 100 points for her confidence in everything even if they all seem baseless and impossible.

Prizmmy – Uhm, are those budding idols wannabe in 3D are now reanimated into 2D for this season? Not sure if they are taken after their real life personality but I don’t think so. Anyway, along with Mia, the rest include Reina Miyama (always butting heads with Mia), Karin Shijimi (galactic happy girl of the group with 8 ‘clone’ younger brothers) and Ayami Ooruri (shy girl who loves taking notes).

Pretty Rhythm Studio – The real life segment of Prizmmy at the end of each episode. Hosted by the quirky McKensaku while being watched by young future budding future Prism Stars, Prism Friends, we see Prizmmy compete in various small time competitions which is of course a way to promote the series’ merchandises.

Pair Charms – Last season we had Pair Cheer Mascots for MARs. This season Prizmmy has Pair Charms. Supposedly cute little doggie (or was it squirrels) mascots that allow them to transform into accessories to help Prizmmy in their Prism Shows. Good think they don’t talk or they’ll be as annoying and making jokes like Pair Cheer Mascots. By the way, they still are around. So is Pengin sensei and Yamada desu.

Prism Ace – Jun in disguise like as though he is some discount version of Tuxedo Mask. Comes and goes as mysterious as the wind. Supposedly to give the girls some motivation and thoughts (he speaks in his usual riddle fashion anyway) and Mia is the only one not to realize he is really Jun underneath all that getup because she is so having a crush on this handsome masked dude.

Prism Act – Apparently doing Prism Jumps aren’t enough in today’s Prism Shows. Prism Act is some sort of revolutionary show. I don’t know. I don’t see the difference. Prism Stars continue to dance solo or in groups and do perfect Prism Jumps. Yeah, they make it look so easy now.

Don Bonby – The flashy and eccentric afro emcee for every Prism Show.

Dear Crown – A new fashion store opened next to Prism Stone store owned by Shou. Korean owner and designer, Yun-su. Nice and cool guy who respects and treats Aira well that you can smell some love rivalry coming up between Shou and Yun-su. Yeah, it makes Shou look like a jealous dick each time he gets confrontational but Yun-su is just cool! And we already have the first shots fired when Yun-su gives Aira a crown gift after her Prism Show on stage (why does he make it look like he is proposing to her on his knees?) and jealous Shou just rushed down to give his own gift. A showdown between 2 hot guys and a very jealous Mia despite not related to it all.

Twinkling Future Star – Mia’s first successful Prism Jump developed out of her jealousy to top Aira. Now she’ll rake in the cash for Asechi…

Fan Call – Apparently now fans can vote with their handphones for a certain Prism Star and rate on several aspects like dancing, singing and fashion. It is going to be tough for Prizmmy since they are relatively new and a nobody. For the sake of the plot, Prizmmy managed to get enough Fan Calls to make their Prism Show debut.

Korean invasion – Apparently there will be Korean transfer students coming to Pretty Top in an exchange programme. Oddly, they come in one by one instead of at one go. As if, to focus an extra episode on them. Yeah, I thought it would never end the way Asechi keeps introducing a new Korean student. Thankfully there are only 5 of them. They are Hye In (Mia’s best friend and practice maniac), Shi Yoon (usually spaces out and is it me or does her normal horizontally striped clothes motives make her look like a prisoner? But she has the prettiest smile when she is at her maddest!), Jae Eun (airhead girl who often ‘tastes’ the sun among other things? Like reptiles bathing in sun? WTF? *Gobble, gobble*), Chae Kyoung (celebrity girl from a rich family and Yun-su is her older brother) and So Min (strict perfectionist girl who hates wasting time but sometimes a big cry-baby). Why do they all speak so fluent Japanese? Their manager is Michelle who looks like Asechi’s clone…

Who’s the leader – Apparently Prizmmy as a new unit needs to pick a leader. Yeah, everyone ones to be the leader. As usual, they’ll do a Prism Show and the one with the most Fan Calls will be the leader. In the end, each girl top their respective sections in the Fan Calls so no clear winner. Though the rest decided on Mia since overall she had the most Fan Calls, she rejects that notion because of Aira’s ‘advice’ that being a leader doesn’t suit her. After all, it’s not like Prizmmy needs a leader as all of them are unique in their own ways. Until they realize Aira’s ‘advice’ was just her being indecisive so now everybody wants to be the leader again? Make up your minds!

Battle over Aira – The guys are at it again. During a press conference, Aira hinted she would like to try Yun-su’s clothes but Shou will not accept that and hence a competition. Too bad we see Shou stressed up and being a dick, refusing help from others while Yun-su is just scoring points with his cool zen whatever. This is a ploy to help Shou get back on his feet since he hasn’t been progressing lately. Ironically it took Mia to snap at him for him to open his eyes. He leaves it late for his inspiration to spark because at the last minute before Aira is forced to go with Yun-su’s design, here comes Shou with his. She picks his because over this logic Yun-su’s design makes her feel like a goddess which she isn’t. She wants an outfit so she could help make the audience feel happy and Shou’s design matches her current self. Expect more future showdowns.

Mad Mia quits – Gasp! For real?! Mia wants to quit Prizmmy and Pretty Top and blames Aira too?! Sneaky Asechi will not let her go and tarnish her company’s reputation. So she must do a Prism Show battle with Aira. If Mia wins, she gets to leave. Strange logic but it makes sense that if you are better than the best, you can go. During the Prism Show, Mia slips but manages to pick herself up and finish it. Too bad Aira wins by a mile. Fortunately Asechi gives Mia the chance to quit but now she won’t because after all that training and friendship thingy, she understands how much fun it is to work with everyone here. Then everyone realizes this argument started because Aira accidentally ate Mia’s melon bread. Good news, all that is in the past now. Bad news, Asechi just repeated that mistake. Is the option to quit still open?

Training camp – The first held for Prizmmy, MARs and the Korean quintet at a hotspring inn. This whole camp thingy serves to make the Koreans realize they aren’t as good as a unit despite individually they are better. Unlike Prizmmy who are opposites. They suck individually but come together as a group. Makes me think what did the Koreans do all the while since they arrived at Pretty Top? Uh huh. Just watching Prizmmy and MARs in Prism Shows only, eh? I don’t think this is how exchange programmes are supposed to work. Okay, they might have been training behind the scenes.

Stand Up Girls – No, not related to Wake Up Girls. Another contest that is not related to Prism Queen Cup. The winner receives some Symphonia Boots Stone. Guess what? Nobody has won them. And past winners only won the replica. Oh, did I mention that nobody knows who or why this Symphonia series was created? Just f*ck.

Back and forth – Prizmmy is selected to participate in Stand Up Girls. What I don’t understand is that Mia somehow didn’t like something among themselves, drags the rest back to Pretty Top just to see the Koreans practising hard, some self-realization criticising to realize whatever the heck it was and then go all the way back to the competition arena in time for their turn. WTF?!

Miraculous Idol Wake Up – Prizmmy’s first successful Prism Act together at Stand Up Girls that has them winning the competition and receiving the Prism Stone of the REAL Symphonia Boots! So unbelievably wow.

Inspiration hug – Yun-su is stuck on his design. So to get inspiration he hugs Aira in a crowded café just because she smells nice?! Thank goodness that sure did the trick. Thank goodness Shou isn’t around because my hunch says it could have gotten uglier…

Vivvy – A Pair Charm in the form of a black cat. Always butting heads with Pengin. So the quintet only get 1 stinking mascot for all to share? This one talks and she is going to be the Koreans’ mascot because…

Puretty – The group name the Korean girls will debut under. Pure + Pretty + Purity = Puretty? Is that pronounced Pure-tty or Pu-ree-tty? Guess what? In their first Prism Show to celebrate Prizmmy’s victory, they manage to perform their Prism Act at first go! All that practice behind the scenes must have paid off.

Love at first sight – By now we all should notice that Reina has a crush on Itsuki whom everybody seems to be unaware at this point he is Aira’s little brother.

Working love out – Apparently Itsuki finds Mia’s lost handphone and in turn leads him to practice Prism Jumps with them and even becomes a surprise guest in their Prism Show! And you thought he wanted to become a doctor but looks like he has got talent in this area. I see Reina is handling her prince charming very well despite this is the first time she has ever gotten this close to him for such a long period of time. Obvious fawning is so obvious that why isn’t anybody annoyed?

Side jobs – Apparently a few fillers to make our young idols gain some experience. Like doing a live broadcast in Mion’s magical girl show, working at a zoo for a day and at the same help revive its financial situation, and a performance at an island resort (to play up some So Min childhood trauma for being adrift at sea apparently).

Symphonia Series Festival – A mid-summer festival where top girl groups compete in various stages and the one accumulating the most number of fans will receive a rare stone of the Symphonia series.

Wacky races – The first stage of the Symphonia series has Prizmmy and Puretty battle it out in some giant mecha race battle that is also a weird obstacle course. Although both teams cross the finish line first and get the honours of both performing their Prism Show, the fans voted for Puretty because of their ‘amazing’ last spurt idol power during the race that made them caught up with Prizmmy. Crap.

Easter egg hunt – On a luxury liner, teams must find Prism Stones but only those who find special ones are allowed to perform Prism Shows in the end. You thinking what I’m thinking who gets to perform? Although Puretty aces by finding lots of Prism Stones, Prizmmy seems to fall into traps and that just makes them a hilarious watch and hence increasing their Fan Calls. In the end, both of them perform but Prizmmy wins this round. It turns out the perfume Shou made for Prizmmy enhanced their performance while Yun-su was preoccupied with Aira and didn’t make a proper outfit for Puretty. Oh my.

What’s eating Hye In? – Apparently, low self-confidence when she tries to compare herself to everyone. Of course, a little pep blunt talk from Mia and confidence booster from her teammates, this allows her to do a solo Prism Act that wows everyone. Yeah…

Symphonia Top of Wings – I’m sure you’ve already guessed who will win the Symphonia summer series. Yup. Prizmmy. So as not for Puretty to be left out, Hye In wins the MVP and gets the Symphonia Dress of Awakening! How many parts do they cut the entire legendary Symphonia outfit into?! Because now they are going to aim for the Symphonia Skirt. I wonder if there is a Symphonia Pantsu… Whoops!

Yong Hwa – One of the best Prism Stars and Yun-su’s childhood friend. Has this ability to see who loves who. Girls love him (save for our heroines) and because of him loving everybody, Prizmmy calls him Mr Trashy.

How do you mend a broken heart – Reina falls into depression after seeing Itsuki ‘date’ Aira. Even more so ‘confirming’ it from his own mouth but that’s what you get for being vague with your words. With Yong Hwa’s idea to shout out the name of the one you love, it enhances Prizmmy and more so Reina’s Prism Act. And of course, they learn Aira and Itsuki are siblings. Big relief. Fooled big time.

Yong Hwa x Itsuki – I don’t know how Yong Hwa sees some potential in Itsuki and wants him to become his Prism Star partner. Looks so gay… Because constant hugging harassment… Ugh, so gay… Well, if there is money to be made…

Silver screen debut? – Chae Kyoung’s mom was a famous actress but retired young. Now Chae Kyoung has been selected for her movie debut but she has fears of standing on stage. Wait a minute. Isn’t Prism Show not considered a stage? Anyway she is forced to choose between becoming an actress (hence fulfilling her mom’s wish) or become a Prism Star. No prizes for guessing which she chose because otherwise Puretty would have to be disbanded permanently. No hard feelings but Yamada became her silver screen replacement?! The director sure has bad taste…

Prism Quest – For some reason, Prizmmy and Puretty enter the Prism Stone Maker and end up in some RPG world. An excuse to give the Pair Charms for some lame screen time to save the girls from prison before using their Prism powers to defeat the evil king and earn the Symphonia Skirt. The real original one. Woah! You mean it was in there all along?! Who the f*ck put it in there?!

Grateful Symphonia – Kei returns just to warn Asechi about this. Apparently Grateful Symphonia is the greatest Prism Act that all Prism Stars aspire to achieve (gee, why doesn’t everyone know about this then?) but a world of Prism Act that nobody has seen (oh, I see… Then how would they know?) and must never step into (no wonder nobody’s been there).

Foreboding of a coming storm – Grateful Symphonia was also made by the greatest designer to ever live and promotes the shows from the shadows. Should we be shocked that it is Asechi’s father, Kintarou? So much so he rigged Prism Shows and crushed her rivals to let Asechi win during her heydays. Kei left him to protect her and now Asechi must stand up to him if she is to protect her girls and guide the Prism Show back to its proper path or risk contaminating it with greed.

Black & White – Kintarou made a pair of black and white Symphonia Dresses and he had a Korean actress, Myeong Ja (Yun-su’s mom) to represent them. However she wasn’t good enough and that’s when Kei entered the picture and wowed him. He came up with the idea of Prism Shows and casted both women in the dresses to make money. To a point he wanted Myeong Ja to quit as an actress and be a Prism Star. She didn’t want that and left. Kei was swayed by his sweet words and took up the role. Until Asechi was born his true nature began to unravel more. He wanted to turn her into a Prism Star at a tender young age when Kei was against it. Everything else is history and ever since he would do anything to make Grateful Symphonia a success, using many and discarding those who outlive their usefulness. But all ended in failure. It has grown to a point where he now hates Prism Shows. Oh, the irony.

Road To Symphonia – Oh great. What we just need. Another Symphonia series competition. This time groups of three would enter as a team and the prizes are Symphonia Hairband of Elegance and Symphonia Necklace of Resplendence.

Money talks – Asechi is torn to enter her Prism Stars as the competition would clash with Crystal High Heels Cup. Until she realizes there is money to win and more publicity. And hence she will be reshuffling Prizmmy and Puretty into new units while making it Prism Stone versus Dear Crown.

Shuffle – The new units are: Team A (Ayami, Reina and Jae Eun), Team B (Karin, Hye In and Shi Yoon) and Team C (Mia, So Min and Chae Kyoung). Also, Shou and Yun-su will be competing among themselves to design their outfits.

Can’t teach an old dog new tricks – Team A stumble into an old man trying to do a Prism Jump and failed. Because his wife in her younger days looks like Reina (and him looking like Itsuki), you bet Reina is going to help them. A love story that transcends barriers and social status, he hopes the girls can teach him how to do a Prism Act to commemorate their 50th wedding anniversary. Even better, they’ll do it for him. It is a new and excellent Prism Show, turning the old couple back to their younger heydays to perform their own Prism Act. Team A is now renamed as Sprouts.

Wedding bells – Haven’t you heard? Rhythm and Hibiki got married. That was 18 months ago! WTF?! Married in secret, I suppose. They plan to tell the world when Rhythm reaches 18 years old. Only her MARs pals know about this. And of course, Team B who accidentally eavesdropped.

Opposition – Asechi was initially opposed to the announcement since there is nothing in it for her (it’s all about the money for her) but with the blessing and support of MARs and Callings (as well as Rhythm’s parents hidden marriage thingy if you remember last season), what else is there to oppose? Also, Kanon has been in Rhythm and Hibiki’s way for so long that Team B tries to help Kanon get a boyfriend? Of all people, they choose Yong Hwa? Not matching of course. But Kanon has known this as Hibiki told her. She was just in denial and did her best to interrupt them but it looks like the day has come where she must face reality.

Angry mob – Apparently the crowd didn’t like it when Rhythm and Hibiki announce this. How do you calm such a mad crowd? Team B putting up their Prism Act of course! Oh yeah, all of them choose Yun-su’s design. I guess there is another angry jealous guy now. Now everybody accepts the marriage and Kanon calling Rhythm her sister. Happy ending indeed. Team B is now renamed as P&P (stemming from Prizmmy & Puretty).

Creative block – Team C can’t come up with lyrics to their song so they have the designers design them first and they’ll based their lyrics on it. The designers too are stuck so Shou watches Team C practice while Yun-su talks to Aira. And there is Aira’s flashback on how she is on the verge of quitting as a Prism Star after almost losing her touch to entertain audience. But with Shou on her side, she gets her touch back.

Love block – And now the biggest stumbling block goes to Aira and Shou’s romance because as pointed out by Rhythm, Shou will never tie the knot or go anywhere if he fears getting hurt. And it’s Aira’s fault never telling him her feelings? Man, love is so complicated.

Chopped liver – Looks like Team C is side-lined when Yun-su designs a costume for Aira instead and then confesses he loves her. Shou so mad. Oh my. The rivalry is going up a notch this time because both guys won’t let Aira go.

Love & Mix – Apparently the gay Prism Star team consisting of Yong Hwa and Itsuki. So Itsuki finally decided to become a Prism Star, huh?

The season of love is Halloween? – Love & Mix uses Halloween to debut and also puts forth the theme Trick or Love. Being dressed up helps to easy confess to the one you love? Well, if it was easy for Reina since dense Itsuki keeps trying to help her. Good luck trying to keep her cock-a-doodle-doo sanity intact. Eventually nobody confesses to anybody because the importance of the theme is about falling in love, not being in love. Huh? No wonder Mia going berserk to the other girls because she didn’t get to confess to Prism Ace-sama…

The Apprentice – Of all teams, Yumemi had to pick Team C to be her master. Initially they reject her but she sucks up to them real good so I guess they take her under her wing. Despite her dream to be the centre of attraction and a Prism Star, something feels odd about her dream. She sucks in all Prism Show areas. To cut things short, her dream is a different type of star: She wants to be an astronomer and discover a new star. With this, Mia announces her challenge to Aira to make their dreams come true.

Biggest upsetCosmos (Team C’s new name based on the initials of their name) has more Fan Calls to Aira and wins! Well, my theory is that Aira keeps singing the same song and dance but Cosmos as a new team has new song and dance moves so I’m sure this is why they captured the hearts of the audience. But don’t you think it will be weird if Yumemi names a new star after Cosmos? A Cosmos in the cosmos… Confusing…

Ninja warrior – Apparently Mia beat Aira was because she had more Fan Calls from non-permanent fans. Hence Asechi plans to train them even more by having them do warrior training? Sending the shuffle teams to different villages to perform Prism Acts.

Gates of hell – Bonby somewhat hypnotized Hye In to seek the Grateful Symphonia’s stage. So during P&P’s Prism Act, Hye In got mesmerized to go into some creepy door that definitely spells disaster. Thanks to the power of friendship (and wind), she returns to reality.

Love omelette – Sprouts not only help a closing down restaurant get back up but also help its chef and employee get back together. Best part, their Prism Act has them propose and marry each other! Man, all I gotta love are those free omelettes they served…

Dancing with the Prism Stars – Cosmos want to do a Prism Show at an elementary school where Mia’s homeroom teacher still teaches. Because dancing is incorporated into PE and she can’t dance, Cosmos take the liberty to teach her how to dance. Of course their methods fail. In the end, you can’t force a dance and all you need is just to remember flashbacks of never give up. Yup, for the teacher and students, you don’t need to be good at dancing. Just dance how you feel! Heh. It’s not like they’re going to become world class Prism Stars anyway.

Torn between 2 designers, feeling like a fool – It has gotten to a point where Aira just can’t concentrate and is clumsy in her practice. While Yun-su is honest, Shou remains as he is, giving lame excuses he is happy Aira wears his designs. We know that’s crap, right? More woes for already torn Aira when she is forced to choose one of their designs before the big competition.

Heartbreak goodbye – So Min always had a crush on Yun-su. Was she wise to know she cannot best Aira hence the need to tell her feelings and get over it? Only, she had to do it via Prism Act and let everybody know. But they don’t care. Similarly, none of all that flashy extravagant for Mia because Prism Ace just says goodbye in the most boring fashion. True heartbreak…

Losing its shine – MARs and Serenon are supposed to enter the Crystal High Heels Cup but Aira (brainwashed by Bonby as usual) declares during the press conference that MARs will be participating in Road To Symphonia. This makes Serenon also want to participate in that. Yeah, everyone else has also entered this Symphonia contest.

Dress to kill – So which dress did Aira pick? Apparently MARs shock everyone by wearing the latest Symphonia series’ dresses. So mysterious. So evil. Wah! It’s shooting evil red beams!

Butterfly effect – Butterflies in your eyes? Aira dares enter the butterfly door and opens a whole new world with lots of butterflies. Yeah, it was the best butterfly show ever.

Landslide victory – Needless to say, MARs wins Road To Symphonia with a huge margin of Fan Calls.

The end of days – If you think that was the happy ending, think again. Immediately Aira announces she will not participate in anymore future Prism tournaments. Bonby reveals his true identity: Kintarou! Why am I not surprised? Those who suspect are too late to do anything. With Aira no longer participating, this means there is no more need to have tournaments because there are no competitors who will be worth their calibre against them.

Welcome to the dark side – That’s not all. Aira along with Mion and Rhythm announce their resignation from Pretty Top to join Kintarou’s Symphonia Corporation. Wow. Signing air contracts in front of everybody? Yeah, Asechi loses her income (hope all that money she made is enough) and the guys loses Aira. That’s what happens when you wait too long. Aira ditches you dudes.

Sky High Symphonia – Another Symphonia selection organized by Kintarou. He is so kind to give Pretty Top a chance to get MARs back if they get more Fan Calls. Otherwise, Pretty Top teams will have to join Symphonia Corporation if they lose. A tempting challenge to take on but it is obviously a trap. So how? Serenon vows to rescue Aira claiming their eternal rivalry with MARs gives them the right.

Break down that door – Violence never gets you anywhere. If you compare Serenon’s Prism Act, it does look a bit violent. Kicking football hattrick and unicorn piercing… Yeah… That is why they couldn’t break down that door and save Aira trapped behind it. Aira even lectures them about it. Well, looks like Serenon are now Kintarou’s pawns.

Failed Mix – It is Love & Mix’s turn to save Aira but apparently not even brotherly or family love could make her change her mind. Damn. Now Love & Mix is under Symphonia Corporation? Hey, at least Itsuki and Aira are ‘together’ in the same bad company.

Mother knows best – Everyone except Prizmmy head to Korea to find out more from Myeong Ja about Kintarou. Apparently she has never hated that guy and Yun-su was under the wrong impression she did. Therefore the mysterious Symphonia Dresses he designed couldn’t be filled with anger and hate. She knows him well enough as a guy who lived by his dreams. Even when they broke up and she was heartbroken, she would have been consumed by hatred had she continued wallowing in sadness. Prove that she was still able to love, she met and married Yun-su and Chae Kyoung’s father.

Love will save the day – As a hint that the designs reflects the designer’s heart, Yun-su realizes his designs have been filled with hatred and anger to get back at Kintarou. Though this might reach Aira, this will not save her. You need the power of love! This is why you designers are in a slump. For the sake of the same girl, for once Yun-su and Shou cast aside their animosity and agree to work together to bring out the shine in Prizmmy and Puretty as well as save Aira.

Pretty Symphonia Remake – Yun-su and Shou combine all they’ve got to make their Symphonia Dresses for Prizmmy. Despite each of their dresses are based on their strong character traits, they look the same to me only differentiated by the colour code. Personally I think this is also one of the worst designs…

Reach for the stars – Prizmmy manages to pull off their Prism Act of Road To Symphonia. They manage to see Aira but she isn’t leaving as she is enthralled by its light that reaches the end of the universe. Yup, that’s where she wants to be. Not sure what scary vortex scared Prizmmy away and return to reality. The results are very close but MARs ultimately won (Kintarou isn’t happy because there is a rival Symphonia Dress to match his originals and MARs didn’t evolve to the next stage as he anticipated). Oh no. Prizmmy now under Symphonia Corporation? All up to you now, Puretty…

Earth-chan – Yun-su and Shou come put all their love, heart and soul ain giving Puretty a Pretty Remake. It’s got all the elements that makes up Mother Earth like the land, sea, star, sun and sky. Uhm, don’t they all look the same except for the different colour code?

Reach for the end of the universe – Puretty is able to reach Aira. But with them combining their spirit, love and friendship, they take Aira to the end of the universe. So amazing that it brings Aira back to her senses. I guess this means with their superior designs, it is Kintarou’s loss. And now everybody goes back to Pretty Top. Yeah, the loosest contract ever.

It’s all about the money – Kintarou being the sore loser, reveals how the Prism Shows were all about the money. He shows proof of all the buyouts that made Asechi a Prism Queen. WTF?! You think anybody cares?! Wait. Everybody now hates Prism Stars?! WTF?! Even if Kintarou revealed his nefarious plans to destroy Prism Shows because Grateful Symphonia is no longer possible?!

Karma is a b*tch – Right after that, Kintarou gets a heart attack but it’s like a slap on the wrist because he still survives. It’s like as though karma was telling him to shut up instead and not rush his evil plans.

Indefinite hiatus – With negative receptions rising for Prism Stars and anything related, Asechi has put all activities on hold in order to protect the girls.

Can it! – Prizmmy thought of doing a guerrilla Prism Show to win back the audiences’ heart but unfortunately they start throwing cans. Although Mia is injured, nothing hurts her more than not doing any Prism Acts.

Love Live, Muse – Prizmmy and Puretty combine and do their Prism Act after their heartfelt speech of their love for Prism Shows. Thankfully the people are gullible so they’re back to loving them and giving them all their Fan Calls. Yeah, that was easy.

Redemption – Asechi announces that her teams will participate in Grateful Symphonia to show the limitless potential of Prism Shows. To take responsibility for all that fiasco, she will resign after this. Hence she also announces the Symphonia Selection Final. Our Prism Stars will face off in an elimination match in which the winner will be appointed the centre. Despite looking like a team format, only one person from that match will advance to the final.

MARs vs Prizmmy – Aira pulls off that super amazing Aurora Rising to stun everyone. Until Mia’s dress transforms into the Symphonia Dress of Passion as she does the nebula exploding Prism Act of Passionate Symphonia. It goes without saying that Mia obtains the most Fan Calls.

Unmotivated – Apparently Hye In is worried as she is the only one whose Symphonia Dress did not evolve. Also, Serena and Kanon have lost their motivation since MARs lost. So they decide to support Kaname to become the centre.

Serenon vs Puretty – Nothing really new if you ask me for Serenon. But some drama kicked up before Puretty’s turn. Seeing how awesome Serenon was, Hye In wants to quit for good! Her pals decide to support her to become the centre so she changes her mind to perform. Well what do you know? During her Prism Act, her Symphonia Dress of Starry Sky kicks in as she does the glittering nebula Prism Act of Starry Sky Symphonia. It goes without saying that Hey In gets the most Fan Calls. Yeah, those wearing those legendary Symphonia Dress seem to be the winners…

Rivals or friends? – I know Mia and Hye In will face off with each other in the finals but must they choose between both? Can’t they just to the cliché and pick both? Because of that, both stay away from each other and their friends and do some reflection of their past with each other before getting over it and doing their best. Drama for nothing.

Mia vs Hey In – Their Prism Act is so awesome that it takes them back to their past as they dig up their time capsule meant for each other in real time and in front of everyone to see! I mean, really?! Such a great performance that the audiences are silent! They can’t decide who to pick as the winner! So leaving it up to God?

Not really related – Guess what? In another twist, it is revealed Jun and Asechi are not siblings! Kei narrates after Asechi left and she was heartbroken, she met baby Jun and her parents at the park. Subsequently they were killed in an accident and Kei felt the need to take care of Jun as the only survivor as some sort of assurance and proof she still loved her daughter. So Jun is like her substitute child?

Back to Buenos Aires – The stage for Grateful Symphonia because apparently that’s where the goddess of Prism Shows resides.

Goodbye seems to be the hardest word – When Michelle tells Puretty that they’ll be going back to Korea to make their debut after Grateful Symphonia, Mia doesn’t like this one bit. She becomes selfish and stubborn because she doesn’t want to part with Hye In. So what does she do? She runs away! Her logic is that everyone will be together if the show isn’t over. WTF?! Eventually she is found and brought out of her hiding after Hye In says some really touching words. It brought Mia to tears and shocks everyone because she apologizes. Never expected that from her, eh? So contagious that everyone too starts crying and hugging.

Awakening of Symphonia – It seems the road to the finals are divided into several stages. So it begins with Mia and Hye In as the main characters going through a journey as they meet other characters who show them the way. This is one big messed up fantasy if you ask me. Uh huh. The longest Prism Show ever. It also seems this entire show is displayed throughout the world. Just look up to the sky and watch the free show.

Live drama – Heck, we even take a detour to settle the love triangle between Aira, Shou and Yun-su. We see the guys in their princely outfit in a sword fight. It’s like they’re saying all the things they have wanted to say to each other all the time. Long story short, Shou wins because he is able to say all the right things. Even more so when Aira confesses she loves him and together they are able to love the world again. A big cheesy crap if you ask me but at least this puts to rest the love triangle. Phew. Now can we move on?

Emotional Mia – Not sure how Kintarou managed to interrupt and try to stop the duo. Mia’s Prizmmy friends rope in to help them push through but at their own expense. This turns Mia into an emotional wreck. No more selfish Mia? Friends over being number one? I guess we need some emotional drama to ramp it up as we approach the final.

Turn to the dark side of reality – Thanks to that, Mia is not interested to become the centre because she realizes becoming number one is not worth at the expense of her friends. Yeah, took you almost an entire year to figure that out, eh? Perhaps with this negative emotion, it allows Kintarou to disrupt and show them reality. Uhm, their despaired and fallen Prism Stars crucified on trees? Wow. This is getting dark for a show of this genre.

Rebuttal – Mia isn’t going to have all that negative sh*t from Kintarou so she tells him off about his boring life and tells everyone about the bright beautiful future they will have. Mia has forgone her selfish ways and throws Hye In into the door to become the centre.

Always lonely at the top – Hye In is in some weird abstract dimension. Even though this is supposed to signify she has become the centre, she feels lonely. She wouldn’t have gotten her if not for her friends.

The power is yours – With Mia’s selflessness, everyone is so touched by it that they start spamming her with Fan Calls to power her up. This even powers up the fallen Prism Stars as they send Mia to Hye In.

Double centre – With both of them wearing tiaras, I guess even the goddess can’t decide and made them both as centres.

Flower power – With their new powers, the Prism Stars turn the entire world into one big flower field. Oh, don’t forget the butterflies! I wonder if this is vandalism. Who cares? Everybody in the whole wide world is so filled with hope to even bother the desecration of national monuments now covered in flowers.

Repentance – So powerful that Kintarou who has been complaining about he doesn’t need a future or bragging about his creations suddenly comes to see the light. With that, he comes to his senses and since everyone isn’t a dick, they forgive him. Even bad guys can be reduced to tears.

Glimpse of the future – The power has us view the characters’ possible future. Let’s say they are all bright and happy. I want to note that Itsuki becomes a successful doctor and this means he didn’t continue being a gay pair to Yong Hwa. And with that, the longest Prism Show comes to an end. Phew. Good riddance.

Happily married ever after – Finally a wedding ceremony for Rhythm and Hibiki.

Marry me – Guess what? Jun proposes to Asechi! Now I see why…

Leaving – Wow. So many people leaving. Yun-su is leaving for Paris and Yong Hwa will follow him. So this this mean the end of their gay Love & Mix relationship? Well, Itsuki hints if he becomes a sports doctor, he can follow him around. Gay hug! Shou and Aira leave for New York. As promised, Asechi quits her post and doesn’t care about money anymore. She leaves Pretty Top in Mion’s care. Of course we have Puretty leaving back to Korea.

Last goodbye – Big goodbye means big tears and big hugs, right? You tend to believe it because Mia is crying. Heck, even Pengin and Vivvy reconcile.

A place we’ll always meet – No, it isn’t the internet that will connect Prizmmy and Puretty. As long as they do Prism Jumps and Prism Acts together, they’ll meet each other in that fantasy dimension!

Always be number one – I think that’s a wrap, folks.

Tales Of Symphonia
And so the world continues to revel and be happy with our Prism Stars performing at their best. Bravo. Now not only Japan but Korea too will have their very own Prism Stars. Yeah, it looks like the only places in the world producing Prism Stars. Not America. Not China. Not Europe. I believe that Prizmmy and Puretty are so good at their game that they should do Prism Shows in each other’s country. Why is it only in Japan that they could do Prism Shows? Isn’t it an international event that everybody just literally looked up to the stars when they watched the Grateful Symphonia? That way they could always visit each other and never felt that they have said goodbye to each other. Or better, shouldn’t they just all combine into 1 big group and give AKB48 a run for their money? Oh right. AKB48 can’t do Prism Jumps…

Fortunately or unfortunately, this season doesn’t actually make me feel like a little girl. Maybe I have been numbed throughout the years watching a number of controversial themed anime series so watching this doesn’t affect me. Furthermore, this season might have come out back in 2012, which isn’t a long time but in anime years, that feels like so if you’re watching at this point in time. So yeah, while this series is definitely aimed at teenage girls (just watch enough of the end segment Pretty Rhythm Studio and you’ll know what I mean), it isn’t just exclusive confined to that age group and demographic. I mean, if yours truly can even watch it, it has got to be one of the ‘safest’ animes to watch out there, right? Hey, don’t be surprised to know there are a lot of guys out there who like that rebooted version of My Little Pony.

As I have said this series is mainly aimed for teenage and young girls, looking at the overall storyline and plot at this age makes it feel cheesy and generic. After all, what else could you do when you have a bunch of Prism Stars jumping around on stage? It follows some sort of pattern that feels really similar to the first issue. Some issues here and there and there is nothing that could fix it by having a Prism Show at the end. And then for the climax, we have the generic one dimensional ‘bad guy’ trying to ruin it all but with the help of friendship and Prism power, a happy ending is much guaranteed. I wonder if these kind of stories would resonate with younger audiences these days.

I figure that the production of this season came during a time that the K-pop wave was enchanting the world with its sexy dance choreographs, artificial Korean beauty and manufactured K-pop music. That’s why we have quite a number of Korean characters in this series. Otherwise, why no other nationalities? So it turns out that Puretty in the anime also has a real life version. Yup, those are real Koreans because you can tell that their Japanese are not as fluent as their anime counterparts. But ganbatte. They’re definitely getting there.

It seems Pretty Top is the only company that produces the best Prism Stars out there. Because all the while, we see only their girls performing in competitions. Yes, there are other Prism Stars (and weirdly named too) but they are all quickly side-lined and you’ll never hear from them again. It’s like Pretty Top has a monopoly over the Prism Shows and they could just host and organize any performance they want because Asechi knows that her girls will win and definitely bring in the dough. So is nobody getting bored that Pretty Top’s girls are owning the scene? Why the heck would they? They are so enthralled with the same thing and having fun, so why bother with something new?

This brings me to talk about the Prism Shows and the likes. They are bloody repetitive. Uh huh. Just like in the first season. It is very so at the beginning since the songs are pretty limited. Hence in every episode that is guaranteed to have a Prism Show, we see the girls dancing to the same tune and even to the same dance moves. Sometimes they just change positions or outfits but overall they are the same. Heck, even the audiences who cheer and give their Fan Calls are recycled scenes! It makes me wonder if these people have no life and will only attend Prism Shows. As the series progresses and more songs are introduced (especially during the shuffled units), we get a little bit variety but overall, they’re still performing the same thing over and over again. Have a new song? Spam it to the max until we get a new one!

Also, the same Prism Shows, Prism Acts and Prism Jumps sometimes feel like one big drug fuelled fantasy. Uh huh. Because the appeal of all this in the end is for the girls doing something so out of this world. I mean, swimming with the dolphins? Riding on a lion? And flying through the universe?! Man, it is getting ridiculous by the moment. Exaggeration is an understatement. I still don’t see what’s so special about it even if all of this are just special effects. But since they’re magically showing it from their hearts, it must be real, right? So if you think last season’s Prism Jumps were pretty exaggerated, you’re in for more this season. Still, personally the Prism shows are like one big form of ecstasy hiding behind the name of entertainment. No wonder people aren’t getting bored. But will they eventually die of overdose? Heck no. I believe the audiences have this herd mentality. They are also unable to think for themselves. When Rhythm and Hibiki announced their engagement, they became mad. For no reason. And when Pretty Top’s units were being transferred to Symphonia Corporation, nobody bats an eyelid. Sure, they voted for the better Prism Show but do they not realize what they have done? And when everything is alright, they also share the laughter. Whatever.

Okay, I’m not going to delve too deep into the characters because as I can see, they’re made for this genre so there has to be that friendship kind of thingy. Mia being the loudest, always in her own pace, the troublemaker and the one who proclaims she will always be number eventually realizes that she is nothing without her friends. With Prizmmy and Puretty being the stars of this season, it feels like too many of them. Although each of them have a few dedicated episodes, it is nothing that deep. Because at the end of the day, their friendship and Prism Star status will always save the day.

I wonder what happened to Callings? I don’t remember them retiring from the scene but with Shou being the solo guy, it makes me wonder what happened to Hibiki and Wataru. While we know that Hibiki is married to Rhythm, what about Wataru? I thought he was into Mion? Yeah, I guess becoming her deputy at Pretty Top is the only thing we’ll remember him by. But even so, these 2 guys were sorely missing during the Grateful Symphonia arc. At least when Aira turned to the dark side, these 2 were nowhere to be seen. I mean, Hibiki’s wife just went over to the other side, does he not have anything to say or do? It’s like they’ve forgotten about them because even if they somehow appear more often, what role could they possibly helm? Because this season we want to have that cheesy love triangle distraction between Aira, Shou and Yun-su so better not let the other guys get in the way or it might look unfair and disadvantageous even though that sounds ridiculous.

I also noticed that Pengin, Yamada and Pair Cheer Mascots looked like they are going to appear decently enough but during the arc of Aira’s defection, they too are missing. So what happened to them too? I thought all of Pretty Top was going to rally and help her but Pengin being one of the most important top wigs (pun intended) of Pretty Top, shouldn’t he be there? Of course their characters are more for comic relief and during such ‘tense’ moments, their funny appearances might just ruined the mood and confuse people. I also feel the Pair Charms are just useless and are there for the cute and kawaii effect. They just help to transform Prizmmy into their outfits and that is about it. I still feel that it’s unfair for Puretty to get one but I guess having a talking one offsets the quantity. Besides, I feel Vivvy’s existence is for Pengin to have a comedic rival in which the bird will lose most of the time. Mammals > birds.

A few more characters to comment. I don’t even understand why they need to have that revelation that Jun is not Asechi’s real sister. Like, how does this even affect the entire story? I guess we need something shocking from this guy who continues to speak in dramatic enigmatic lines. Oh right. So that we could put an end to Asechi’s eternal curse of ever landing a man. I see what they did there. Damn plot convenience. Now that they are no longer siblings I guess they can legally f*ck each other. Oops, I mean date and marry each other. I can’t believe nobody could see Bonby’s real identity as Kintarou. I had a hunch when Kintarou’s name was first mentioned. When you see that fake afro emcee having that typical scheming face, you know something is wrong. But I keep wondering if in the early episodes, shady characters that closely resemble and sound like him are Bonby in disguise. After all, he supposedly set up things that led to Grateful Symphony. I believe Asechi was too blinded by money to even tell he was her father and Jun wasn’t even that smart to guess. I mean, nobody checked his fake resume and the likes? Kei and Myeong Ja also feel inadequate like as though they are there just to fill in and connect some of the plot. Otherwise you see them hang around and it is pretty odd especially for Kei, you hear her spouting some negative lines just to prop up some drama.

Kintarou is just a one dimensional villain who decides to take out his own issues because of his failed dream. In short, if he can’t have it, nobody will. That’s why you hear him spout all those crappy lines about having no future. Sure, you don’t want to have a future that’s fine by yourself. But must you impose it on others and ruin the fun? Unfortunately for him, he didn’t die a hero and lived long enough to become a villain ;p. Not sure about his sanity at the end because the last montage shows him living a simple farm life although he still retains bits of his madness. I keep wondering why Yong Hwa’s character is necessary and the only reason is to have some gay scenes with Itsuki because Callings are like no more and it is more of a jealous rivalry between Shou and Yun-su. Otherwise, Yong Hwa is pretty much a useless character and is to give a little Prism Show variety with Love & Mix. Come to think of it, that name even sounds so gay… And now that they’ve somewhat disbanded, will it be Yun-su x Yong Hwa! And in Paris, the city love!

I also need to mention a bit on the real Prizmmy. If last season they were training to become a proper idol unit, this season we mostly see them doing mini contests of their own in which they accumulate points throughout and the winner gets to record her own solo song. I’ll spoil it, it’s Karin. After all, I feel that among all her peers, she is the most natural and cheerful. So hats off to her. Is it me or is Mia the weakest? Like in, almost everything. Such a big contrast from the anime Mia. Of course she won some mini contests like the rest too. Other than having mini contests, we also see them visit places as well as hanging out with Puretty. They too sometimes report their activities back in Korea so it’s a little nice change in pace. Oh right, don’t forget the blatant advertising to sell their Pretty Rhythm merchandises and products. So check out their website, ne!

As in its previous seasons, part of charm are the songs. Some of the songs are quite nice too. Like Cheki Love by Puretty (also serving as the second ending theme). Even though this song is overflowing with girlishness and cuteness, I can’t find myself to dislike it. Heck, I am even addicted to singing its very cute lines! Simple and cute! Oh sh*t. Can’t get that song out of my head! Yeah, it really exudes all the typical elements for a K-pop. While Shuwa Shuwa Baby also by Puretty (fourth ending theme) also has the same sentiments, it is not as catchy as Cheki Love. But still, it is quite a nice and catchy piece in its own right.

The best one from Prizmmy is Dear My Future ~Mirai No Jibun E~ (first opening theme) which is aptly the theme of the series if you ask me. The rest from Prizmmy are rather okay. Like Brand New World (second opening) has a mix of hip hop and rap, the same with Body Rock (third ending) but has auto-tune as well as Panpina (fourth opening) but with special effects, My Transform (second ending) has an edgy techno pop beat. Life Is A Miracle ~Ikiterutte Subarashii~ (third opening) is the only one of the themes not sung by the real Prizmmy but the anime Prizmmy. Sounds generic idol pop if you ask me. Personally, the worst song is Thank You (also worst named) by P&P. I don’t know, each time I hear this, my hair stands on ends. Cheer! Yeah~ X2 by Cosmos doesn’t resonate with me as I have this feeling it is a song better sung on/by Love Live. Out of all the shuffled units, I suppose Mirage Jet by Sprouts sounds better because of its jazzy theme.

As you might have noticed, the anime version of Prizmmy is voiced by people. Professional seiyuus in fact. This is better because the real ones you can hear their voices aren’t really trained even during the Pretty Rhythm Studio segment you can hear the obvious difference. Sure, they are good at singing but when it comes to normal conversation you can tell they’re not trained for voice acting. Handling their Prizmmy counterparts are Rumi Okubo as Mia (Astolfo in Fate/Apocrypha), Natsumi Takamori as Reina (Mei in Another) and Minami Tsuda as Karin (Yui in YuruYuri). Shockingly I never realized that Ayane Sakura was behind Ayami. She sounds too shy for me to recognize. Or maybe I wasn’t really paying attention. Better start taking notes to note how she actually sounds in this shy mode. Memo, memo…

Even the Puretty side has professional seiyuus because otherwise you could hear their Korean accent in it. I wasn’t sharp enough so I didn’t realize the one who voiced Kaname, Serena and Kanon also voiced Hye In, Jae Eun and Chae Kyoung respectively. As for So Min, she is voiced by Marie Miyake (Ringo in Mawaru Penguindrum). Shi Yoon is voiced by an actual Japan born Korean, Kim Hyang Ri. If there was something familiar about the ridiculous screaming and liveliness in Bonby’s voice, it is because it is Shigeru Chiba and I still remember him voicing such characters like One Piece’s Buggy, Sasuke in Ranma 1/2 and Yotsuya of Maison Ikkoku. Yong Hwa is voiced by Minami Takayama (titular character in Detective Conan series) and Noriko Hidaka playing Myeong Ja (Kikyo in Inu Yasha).

Oh well, looks like this is it for me. My journey for the Pretty Rhythm series ends here. Phew? Big relief? Because this series is still going on strong in Japan with ongoing spin-offs even until this day. Are they going to have idols using instruments in the next season as seen in the preview? I won’t be there to find out. So forget about the third and fourth seasons (Pretty Rhythm Rainbow Live and Pretty Rhythm All Star Selection respectively), because there’s that PriPara spin-offs that are entirely a whole series of its own. This is like the idol version of Pretty Cure (another old series I once watched at the beginning but then stopped watching eventually). I bet it is going to be more of the same. Introduce a new budding character with great dreams. There are her new friends and other characters into the mix as well. Old returning characters make their cameo and they all can happily dance, sing and jump on stage to give us that ultimate entertainment. I guess I’ll just stick to ecchi high school romances. They’re a safer bet and my form of entertainment. Damn I have no future…

Girlish Number

May 6, 2017

Oh wait. Didn’t we have a seiyuu themed anime a few seasons ago? That wasn’t too long a time I believe. And now we have another anime series about the seiyuu industry? Just like that series about a group of young girls making video games. Similar theme but different in anything else. But there is something that makes Girlish Number a whole lot different than Sore Ga Seiyuu or Love Get Chu. Instead of all the happy-happy and bright moments in the voice acting industry, this one has darker elements. Don’t worry. It won’t go so far as about abuse of workers with long working hours with no overtime pay or sexual favours if you want to advance your career. It is about a young and new seiyuu who thinks she can take the voice acting industry by storm and be bloody famous. Reality is not so straight forward like her delusional dreams. And slowly it starts to sink in and hit her when it does.

Episode 1
There is an event for fans of some anime or game. It is ending so the seiyuus have their final say on stage. Among them is Chitose Karasuma who is a newbie in the industry. She only holds a minor role. The event ends with the 2 main seiyuus who play the main heroines singing, Momoka Sonou and Kazuha Shibasaki. At the backstage, Chitose can see all the drama and different world these people put up. From b*tching about to gossiping, this is really a rotten dark side to the industry. Even Chitose has her own sarcastic comments about everything. There is a party after the event but many big names can’t make it. Chitose wants to go although her manager who is also her brother, Gojou wants her to hold back. But they attend anyway to make up for the numbers. Then there is this music producer guy, Kuzu who waltzes in like he owns the place. He didn’t even attend the event and is already late but I guess his charisma covers everything. Back home, Gojou gives Chitose a check video for tomorrow. Chitose blames she has no major roles on Gojou for not doing his job properly to get better roles for her. It’s a reason why she isn’t famous. Yeah, she also blames the studio for making anime that they know won’t sell. So being a seiyuu sucks? That’s great hearing from someone like you who hasn’t passed a single audition. Gojou relays the good news that he has got a slightly bigger role for her albeit still a small one. However it is not based on manga but a light novel, something she isn’t quite pleased.

She goes to do her job despite there is only one line. Accidentally she crosses Kazuha’s path during the job. Kazuha calls out to her after that but lets her go since Chitose is acting all dense and innocent. Chitose talks to Momoka and finds her snooty too. When the typical otaku looking author talks to them and invites them to dinner, Momoka quickly gives lots of excuses why they can’t and promptly takes Chitose to leave. Momoka advises her to decline such things flat out. Otherwise they will never take her seriously. Despite a bit of sarcasm between them, the duo become friends. Not sure if they’re just acting either. Kuzu is talking to Gojou and the agency president, Nanba for a new project. He seems to want Chitose as a new idol despite she doesn’t sing. Why? Because his music guts tell him she is perfect. And Nanba just agree with everything he says because he is some big shot music guy. When Chitose gets called by Nanba, she thinks she has done something wrong. She learns she will be helming the role of a main heroine of an anime based on a light novel, Kusure. Although she doesn’t read light novels, Kuzu doesn’t mind as long as she has talent and is cute. Ah, those words seal it. Now she is laughing with them. Only Gojou isn’t…

Episode 2
Chitose thinks she is now a main star and acts high and mighty. Meanwhile Kuzu and his team are in a discussion with the author. It seems there is a disagreement in which the anime will design the characters. Due to lack of time, it is suggested to do a PV to hype up the audience. At the staff meeting, Chitose meets a fellow friend and newbie from the training school, Yae Kugayama and fellow seiyuu Koto Katakura. Chitose seems shocked she isn’t the only cast to be playing the heroine. If she had read the light novel, she would have known it is a harem genre and there will be 5 heroines. The other 2 are helmed by Momoka and Kazuha. Kuzu tells the trio they will be forming a unit to sing Kusure’s song and make their CD debut. While Yae and Koto are being modest, Chitose thinks she has hit it big although she is probably the biggest one who can’t sing. While waiting for taxis to head to the launch party, the newbies talk with each other. Chitose doesn’t know who Momoka’s mom and is supposedly a very famous seiyuu and her dad is a famous director. Need to Google it, huh? Chitose thinks she has won big time after learning that many other famous seiyuus will also be appearing here (although they are just cameos for one or two episodes). When all the 5 main girls are here, the staff meeting begins with Towada telling them the schedule of the PV event. Yae being her first time panics and doesn’t quite understand so she goes over everything again. But it’s just another day and another job for veterans Momoka and Kazuha. Kazuha seems to dislike talking about projects that she hasn’t record yet so Momoka tells her to get over it. They still get paid. Kazuha replies that for Momoka’s case, she never has to worry about anything. The girls go on the stage to give the fans a preview of Kusure. Although everyone loves it, is it just me that I find the animation quality to be obviously HORRIBLE!!! The event went smoothly and panicky Yae is so relieved that she confides in the arms of Chitose that it’s all over. Good job, right? Kuzu wants to go out to celebrate but gets an emergency call. Looks like somebody is mad with the PV… So while the veterans quickly take their leave, the newbies celebrate by themselves. Koto makes a toast that despite they debuted at different times, here’s to a future where they’ll disappear at the same time. Wait. You want to disappear? Oh right. Nothing lasts forever. Kuzu and his team find themselves in an emergency meeting with the author regarding the character designs. What did I tell you?

Episode 3
It seems there were no changes to the design as promised. So how is Kuzu going to fix this? This is all just promotional material! The real stuff will differ! All the seiyuus are at the recording studio. They are introduced to the author who is so soft that you can’t hear a single damn word he says. Chitose takes her lines. Despite she is confident in her work, it is obvious that she is stiff and sucks! Meanwhile Gojou hears from a colleague that the production of this anime is on shaky ground. There has been some disputes and some of the production people aren’t interested in making this series in the first place. At the end of the recording session, Chitose thought she could go out drinking with her friends. However Gojou holds her horses. They’re staying back to do retakes. Chitose has to do several retakes and personally she barely differs from one to the other. Because the veterans have other plans, they record first and Chitose usually is the last to do the retakes. You’d think she would have reflected on herself. But guess what? She thinks nobody realizes how valuable she is! She even blames society for this problem and not herself! Till Gojou tells her part of the true picture behind the scenes that Kuzu didn’t pick her for her talent but for a certain song in mind. It starts to get to her when she remembers seeing all the production people’s less than amused reactions on her work. Chitose continues to record and do retakes. The author is not pleased but the sound team knows this is Chitose’s limit. She can’t do any more than this. Just accept it? Oh well. At this time reality hits Chitose hard. She is depressed as she figures out she is the one who doesn’t get it. May Gojou add more to that? She’s talentless and she sucks. No experience, not very smart and her personality is trash. What he admires is her never give up personality. She would like to improve herself so he suggests talking to the sound director. Then she talks to Momoka for advice like drawing out similar past character roles and adjusting. Or she can just imagine a character because if she has a better idea of it, she’ll start sounding like it. Chitose does more homework by watching videos. So when the next recording is in session, she vastly improves that everyone is in shock! Like a totally different person. So much so that they’ve got free time at the end! Yeah, no retakes. However veterans like Kazuha and Gojou know that Chitose is just following things and this is making her acting dull. But Momoka doesn’t see an issue with it. If this is what they want, what’s the problem?

Episode 4
Chitose is a famous seiyuu with many fans! Ah, such angelic personality too. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is because she is just dreaming. Even more embarrassing she is sleep talking in front of everyone. There is an event that will have the girls sing the TV version of the song which will be also live streamed. Of course Gojou hears the ‘good news’ that Kuzu plans to make them sing the full length of the song with the excuse that this will increase their appeal. The reason for this is because of this bad news: The first episode wasn’t being able to be finished on time. He plans to show the PV and bits of the first episode. When Gojou relays this to the girls, the first one to baulk at this sudden change is Yae. Can’t do it? You have to. Yeah, just when you thought Chitose has learnt something from being humble, she’s back to her usual confident personality. And I mean that from an obnoxious point of view. On stage, the girls strut their stuff. After the PV is shown, the fans are shocked because it is exactly the PV they saw previously instead of the first episode they had expected. Chitose thought she could step in and hype them up but no reaction. Momoka and Kazuha help her out and soon the crowd is revved up when the girls start singing. Seeing how hyped everyone is, Kuzu and Nanba thinks this promotion method really works and should do it more often. Kuzu praises Chitose for a good job and is on her way to being famous (checking her social media right now). Gojou has a bad feeling when Kuzu comes up with an idea to do live streaming events every month. While the newbies relish in their possible future being famous, it is gloomier and heavier discussion between Kazuha and Momoka. Kazuha feels all this is stupid and is disappointed in herself. Although Momoka accepts it because this is what the crowd wants, Kazuha is glad the author didn’t show up. He would never have accepted this. Or maybe he knew and didn’t want to turn up. Chitose and Yae meet and hang out with Koto before going to her place to celebrate and watch the first episode airs. When it starts, it leaves the girls in shock. Koto is unhappy how much it sucks. Chitose is obsessed in getting more followers on her social media. Despite the fans criticizing the awful anime, they praise Chitose’s character as their saving grace. Now she thinks she is hell of a popular. Kuzu and Nanba are already talking about their next big project involving a large scale next generation audition.

Episode 5
The opening song sells for 10,000 copies. Chitose is so happy that she lets it get to her head and back to her lazy ways. Famous now, is she? She’s even calculating the royalties she’ll get. Gojou thinks it is more of the writer of the song than the one who sung it. So while Chitose brags about this achievement to Yae and Koto, the latter wonders about the most important thing: The anime. Because they hear how people are now saying the anime is crap and the opening song was the only thing good. Plus, some of them are pitying the seiyuus and those who aren’t so forgiving are calling them crap as well. When the girls record for the last episode, Chitose tries to brag to the veterans about the sales. Of course Momoka has done so many that she practically forgot about it. The author gives them a bouquet of flowers as thanks but he doesn’t seem to be quite happy. Chitose overhears the production team arguing about some problems regarding the last episode. But it’s not her problem! Kuzu and Towada have to answer to the executives as Kusure is making a loss. Kuzu shifts the responsibility to Towada to report it since this is under his jurisdiction. All eyes on him now… Chitose isn’t fond of attending an event that has them hand out DVD copies of Kusure with an autograph and handshake of the seiyuus. I mean, who is going to buy an expensive DVD with this cheap novelty, right? Surprisingly there are a decent amount of fans and they manage to sell out their portion. However Chitose isn’t too thrilled because Momoka and Kazuha has got a lot more fans waiting in line than theirs. It seems the anime production team is losing interest and can’t even finish the last episode. Worse, there is an announcement that a second season is happening! OMFG! The author has been ‘damaged’ so much that when he hears about it, he becomes happy thinking this is the first time his work is going to get an anime treatment! Yeah, that disaster was totally erased from his mind. Never happened. When Gojou returns, he sees Chitose crying. It’s real. Seems she has seen nasty comments on the internet bashing how bad she is. Can’t take the heat? Gojou has surveys from the past events in which she can go through and improve herself. But she doesn’t want to do that! She only wants to see the ones that are praising her! She even questions why she is the only one getting bashed when she did nothing. Yup, I think she answered her own question. Kuzu and Towada are drinking out their problems. Kuzu realizes with all the condemning, at this rate he can’t use up all the budget if they end up in the red. But don’t fear. He has a secret plan…

Episode 6
How does Kuzu avoid the wrath of his management? He takes the girls and his team to Okinawa to film bonus materials! Chitose fears the cameras but after learning this isn’t live stream and that means people who only pay will see the release (you’re a horrible person), she’s back in the game. So we see the girls in their swimsuits prancing around for the footage. Nothing too fancy or scandalous. That night the girls go drinking. Koto talks to Kazuha that she is already 26 and this is her last chance. If she doesn’t make it big now, she thinks of going home and getting married. Kazuha is drunk and for the first time we get to see her with emotions. She gets into a pillow fight with Momoka but Chitose joins in via underhanded tactic of throwing the sheets over Momoka and then slamming her with the pillow. When Kuzu returns, all he can get is a lousy box souvenir? This isn’t going to cut it… Momoka returns home to see her parents talking to a couple of production guys. They are planning to do a mother-daughter theatrical all-stars version, Pure Para. While her parents seem to be supportive of Momoka, she isn’t quite happy herself about this. The newbies are doing an audition. Koto has spent quite some time in the recording as the staffs want her to try out other roles. She can’t stay for dinner with Chitose as she has other jobs. Wow. She’s moving forward. Time for Chitose to do her best. However she came out of the recording room as fast as she went in! Holy cow. Obviously she lost the role and she blames political casting and death to record companies! Chitose attends a wrap up party for an anime she had a minor role in. She wasn’t too thrilled despite the lavish setting and food. Till she won the TV lucky prize draw. Then she goes to the wrap up party for Kusure. She is already having high expectations but what the heck is this small and dark hall? The food is paltry and not many people come. Do they even give their attention to Kuzu speaking on stage? Yeah, no lucky draw prize either. Kazuha gets drunk again. Kuzu and his side later have their own after party. He and Nanba are already looking at the list of seiyuus for their next generation audition. When Towada mentions what about the second season of Kusure, they leave it in his hands! You’re on your own. Literally.

Episode 7
Chitose and Momoka send a drunk and emotional Kazuha home. She doesn’t seem to have her key but luckily mom is home. Mom hopes she would treat her friends with hospitality instead of just going straight to bed but thankfully they’re leaving. Chitose notes Kazuha doesn’t have any friends. Look who’s talking. The point is, Kazuha has been like that since coming here and it proves how tough the industry is. Chitose mentions her parents were also against her going into this industry. Gojou did it but didn’t make it and they tried to use this to dissuade her. Kazuha’s mom pays a surprise visit to watch her daughter and the rest do their radio programme. Despite her being the best mom, Kazuha is very embarrassed and not appreciative of her presence. It gets worse with Kuzu trying to act like the charming gentleman. Fail. After the job, though mother doesn’t have any problems about Kazuha doing this, Kazuha still keeps reminding her that this is all part of her job. Everything was just promotion. What is worse to have your friends eavesdrop on you? Father calling at the same time. Mom wants her to speak to him but she won’t. Wait. I take that worse thing back. Nothing is worse than Kuzu snatching the phone and talking to dad on her behalf! Oh no! He thought praising every part of Kazuha would be okay (including her boobs). Too bad dad didn’t like and blows his top. Naturally. Guess what? Kuzu passes the phone to Towada to clean up his mess! Towada even has to kneel and apologize before the handphone! As Kazuha’s mom leaves, Kazuha wonders why she would go out of her busy schedule just to see her. Couldn’t she just drop a message? There are lots of things she can tell just by looking at her face. With this issue, they worry he might show up on site at Yamagata, a trip they’re supposed to take as part of the work. Who else but Koto to talk to Kazuha about her problems. Meanwhile Chitose is upset that Gojou won’t give her permission to go on this trip despite claiming she is the leader of the unit and for work. She even goes as far to say she is a crappy small fry newbie with no work and has all the free time in the world! Care to review your script if you’re so free? Yae and Momoka attend the same audition. Yae feels they have become great friends when she could call her by her first name. As Kazuha meets up with Kuzu and Towada for the train to Yamagata, she is surprised to see Momoka.

Episode 8
Apparently Chitose can’t come due to some reasons and she is blaming it on Gojou. Oh thank God. No Chitose for this episode! Arriving at the inn where Kazuha’s parents work, the moment her father steps in and before Kuzu can complete his sentence, they throw him out! Yeah, we know how he ruins things. Towada and Kazuha’s manager quickly apologize although father is still displeased but maintains his hospitality. They give him see the recently bombed Kusure that Kazuha worked in but Kazuha lashes out they should have at least got a better one. Father shoots back as an actress she shouldn’t badmouth her own work but her reply is that she has been working in this industry long enough to know their worth. In that case does she mean she is worthless? Maybe that’s why she had to resort to that swimsuit fanservice to sell it. Father tells her to go back to Tokyo since she has already assimilated there. You know what? Yeah, she’ll go back there. Bye. Not so fast says Momoka. They’ve already prepared to stay. With dad telling to leave her foolish daughter to do whatever he wants, this time mom puts her foot down. Since they are paying customers, they can’t shoo them away, can they? So the rest of the episode sees Kazuha and Momoka walking around the small town as they talk things out. Despite Kazuha’s family problems, Momoka still envies her. Yeah, she has her own problems as she is not picking up a call her manager, Mutsumi Kawahara who has been trying to contact her since. Even Kazuha had to lie when they texted her if she knows anything on Momoka. Momoka goes on to explain how her parents were decent to her but after she debuted as a seiyuu, they stopped telling her things. So what’s the problem? It makes Kazuha envious of her. Momoka finally decides to return the call but since mom is there, she talks to her. Momoka has decided to decline the role in Pure Para unless they personally offer it to her. Mom respects her wish as they are both professionals. In that case, she’ll just take Momoka’s role. When they return to the inn, Kazuha’s mom reveals father was being harsh to her because he was concerned. When Kazuha became a seiyuu, father did a lot of research on it. As parents they will always worry for their child and it is also their job to believe in them and wait. Next morning when they leave, Kazuha makes peace with her father. They realize they forgot to buy a souvenir for Chitose but that doesn’t really matter. Meanwhile Chitose’s only short appearance and she is fuming the girls didn’t reply. Maybe it is because of the time difference?

Episode 9
The recording of Kusure’s second season starts. Even Chitose has lost motivation but unlike Kuzu she can’t run away and still has to do her job. Kuzu thought he could give excuse of coming in late (or not coming at all) but Towada replies they have already wrapped up recording and are now in a party. Yeah, you’re not needed. Nobody even cares about him. At the party, Nanba brings in a new seiyuu, Nanami Sakuragaoka. She has been observing the girls at work today. Like a newbie, she treats everyone politely and with respect that it makes Chitose brag about her own ‘achievements’. Please don’t give false hope. Best of all, she sincerely talks how she loves Kusure and everything behind it. This motivates everyone to make the series great again. This should be the way. Everyone chats and gives ideas like how it should have been. As the girls continue their job, Chitose doesn’t seem happy because it looks like he online popularity has declined. The staff members wonder if they can go ahead with work without Kuzu because as long as Towada is here, everything should be okay. Towada hopes Kuzu can make it in time. He wasn’t like this. Before he joined this agency he worked very hard. He still believes Kuzu will come back to help them. Don’t bet on it because he is enjoying the company of a hostess. However he sees his former colleague, Shakujii who mocks Kuzu for becoming and failure and loser after leaving the company. The difference is obvious. Shakujii as you can see is successful. What else can a makeinu do but run away with his tail between his legs? So when Towada gives him a timely reminder call, first thing Kuzu screams out is to save him! Yeah, this guy has no backbone anymore. Chitose is certain she will pass this limited audition because her birthday is coming up and it will be the perfect gift. WTF. Sorry to rain on your parade but Nanba says that won’t be happening. He is going to give the audition role to Nanami. Remember how Chitose started out with this kind of favour? It’s time for Nanami to get hers and Chitose to fly the nest. Gulp. Gojou disagrees as Chitose isn’t even secure in anime what more do narrations and dubbing. Nanba reminds Gojou that he got a lead role at this age. Every youth has the right to dream. It is his job to sell that dream. Oh, he will assign Gojou to be Nanami’s manager and Chitose will be assigned another one. Of course despite looking very worried, what’s a self-centred b*tch to do but to complain about this ‘scandal’. Whine, whine, whine. Yeah, it’s everybody’s fault except her own. Uh huh. She thinks Gojou’s job is easy. Depressed… Too bad she won’t get her birthday present from Gojou tonight.

Episode 10
Chitose, meet Juuzou Matsuoka your new manager. He is so passionate about work and just look at her disgusted face. It feels as though he parachuted into the wrong anime. If it was a sports shonen genre it would’ve been okay… But Gojou isn’t totally going to hand over Chitose yet and Matsuoka will for now be his aide. Even so, Matsuoka loves to pound in the idea of hard work and starting from the bottom, something that doesn’t sit well with lazy Chitose. For example, if you miss the train, what next? No, you don’t call a taxi. You run! Get your ass moving! Gojou sees Nanba and they talk about the progress of the other girls. But when it comes to Chitose, you know it is real sh*t when Nanba starts talking in a serious voice and manner. Because Nanba quotes Gojou who once said it himself that Chitose has no talent and that many could replace her. He has waited long enough for her to improve and since there is none, his job is to cut out those who don’t. Get the picture? Gojou has no words for that and could only cling to the faint hope that Nanba gives that he’ll wait a little more and see. Wow. Time for somebody to wake up. Chitose and the girls are practising for an event. As usual, her nonchalant behaviour irks Gojou. You can see his very disappointed face. Chitose overheard there would be a surprise after the event and she thinks it is for her birthday. However it turns out to be Nanami’s debut CD. That is when Chitose starts to feel down. It’s starting to get to her. When she returns to the backstage room, she is taken by surprise when they give her a birthday surprise. Even so, she is still reeling from the depression and her happiness is ‘fake’. You still not happy? When they leave, fans are giving Nanami their support. They also give Chitose their cheers but because she unenthusiastically reply them, they note she has turned cold and might be better off retired. As Gojou sends lively peachy genki Nanami home, Chitose walks home with gloom doom written all over her face. Meanwhile Kuzu is doing silly things like trying to win some fish measuring competition to best Shakujii. He couldn’t. Another depressed guy. He gets a much needed call from Towada to come in to work for help. They still need him? Of course. Because now he takes this as a sign that he is NEEDED! Back to his illogical reasoning again. I don’t know what he’s saying here. Whatever. At least he is motivated to come back. Still depressed over at Chitose as she listens to Gojou’s past voice acting in the dark. She can still comments he sucks. Like herself. It makes her think why he quit voice acting despite all his bright words of hope.

Episode 11
Gojou reads a letter supporting him and Chitose. He narrates about the different excuses people have when they quit. Meanwhile Chitose continues to be depressed. During the recording session with everyone paying their attention on Nanami, this even makes her more so. It is so obvious that she doesn’t want to join the girls for dinner. Yae can tell and talks to her that she is also working hard. But I guess that’s not enough to pull her out of depression. So much so Yae goes talk to Gojou and hopes he could tell Chitose she is doing her best. It would be better if she told Chitose herself but she thinks her words are cheap and as her brother he would have better impact. Even Koto talks to Gojou about her own past with changing managers and agency structures that she made her thought she might quit. But thanks to a great manager, she is able to still be here. The girls feel awkward at dinner without Chitose. Obviously they have to discuss about her because they know something is bugging her. They fear she might quit but keep their hopes up that Chitose is erratic. After Yae speaks up her support for Chitose that she might be just dense in a professional sense, Nanami also reveals she admires and like Chitose. Despite her earlier works are crappy, it still made Nanami fell in love with the character she played. Meanwhile Nanba, Kuzu and Towada have a drinking discussion about promoting Nanami further. However they also feel like taking a big risk to bet on Chitose. After Gojou leaves Chitose presents from others, she speaks up about how reality is hitting her. She really thought how long people will support her. Her next role is just minor and fears people will soon forget about her. She thinks people are looking at her now because she is new. What happens when she is no longer new? She knows about her own rotten personality but can’t help it. She wants to like herself. She wants others to keep liking her. I guess with those real tears, time for Gojou to play the nice big brother. After listing down her negative traits, what makes Chitose and him different is that she has people supporting her. He doesn’t when he quitted. Because he calls her amazing, she wants him to spam that line! Say it again! Now go into specifics! Can’t… We know she is back when she says this awfully familiar tone, “There is something wrong with the industry if someone like me doesn’t become popular”. Yeah… Let’s hope her vow to work hard and be popular is real this time.

Episode 12
The snow has grind all public transports to a stop. This means Chitose will be late. She is meekly trying to explain herself but all Matsuoka can say screaming at the top of his passionate voice: DO YOUR BEST!!! So Chitose screws all that crap and makes a run towards the recording studio. Everybody waiting there is anxious because if they don’t get the dubbing session started, the broadcast will be cancelled! Kuzu will have it even worse because he’ll be fired! So Kuzu tries his charming talk to arrange another date but after being reminded how this amounts to breach of contract and that sum of yen is looking to be pretty large, Kuzu assures he’ll definitely get this done! Finally Chitose arrives! Hooray! It is awkward at first facing her fellow friends. But then she starts off her apology with stating the obvious and self-realization like she isn’t anybody special and can be replaced. But she hopes that it will be a win-win for everybody. I guess to show that she is still cool, she tells Nanami not to do her best and watch her being awesome! At least Chitose’s words have given the author some hope to continue writing his material. The recording goes well as well as other production stuffs. You think Chitose would have learnt her lesson but on the day of an important event, she is running late again. This time it is purely her fault because she overslept. But she’s blaming stocks, politics and society for it! Run out of excuses, huh? Gojou has seen this coming and has sent Matsuoka to go get her. Wait a minute. I thought they’re going to run together so why the hell are they taking a taxi? Because it’s jam like hell! Same thing for Kuzu. He is running late after oversleeping but Towada expected this. He is so used to it by now. Chitose finally makes it to the event hall on time by foot and the even goes on perfect. In the end, everyone enjoys drinking at the bath, talking about the anime and the likes. Good points and criticism, all their honest opinions are in. Then the worst possible combo that could happen is that Kuzu and the author have come up with a new project. Yeah. We can do this! What crazy sh*t will they come up next? Don’t laugh. This was somewhat how Panty And Stocking With Gaterbelt was conceived!

B*tch Number Calling
I am in a dilemma to call this series boring or insightful. Maybe it is somewhat of both. Because this series doesn’t tell you the workings of the seiyuu industry which I hope I would see some but there wasn’t anything close to it. Furthermore, this series might resemble more of a ‘fairytale’ than in real life because when you have a newbie and a producer with f*cked up attitudes, causing such problems and are still around, it feels more like an insult when everything always turns out fine. I mean, no big screw ups that would have ended their careers are closed down the production house or the series being cancelled. It always works out and everyone is still happy in the end. That’s not realistic, right?

Unlike Shirobako that gives us a glimpse on how an anime is produced from start till end, this series doesn’t give us any insights on how to be a seiyuu. This is of course isn’t the plot of the series itself. But I believe that what they are trying to tell us is that this industry can also be a cutthroat competition. With so many up and coming seiyuus these days, staying relevant is very hard. Not just in this industry but the entertainment industry as a whole. I believe even in real life if a singer was famous last month and didn’t do anything to make ripples with his/her presence, he/she will be fast forgotten. That’s why with Chitose whose goal is to become famous (can’t say it is an admirable ambition but it’s natural we all want to be popular), she gets worried when she doesn’t land big roles. I believe by today’s standards, Chitose who is already sucking big time will be cut off immediately instead of being retained and waiting for her to turn over a new leaf and shine again. Only established celebrities have the luxury to do that but even so not very guaranteed. Once word goes around and the fans leave you, you’re finished.

Chitose is a character whom you’ll love to hate. However she isn’t despicable enough to make you really want to hate her. Maybe slap her a little sometimes. What makes her refreshing from many other cliché protagonists is that she is really so full of herself. Because of this less than desirable arrogant and cocky delusional behaviour, this is what makes her amusing and interesting. I can’t say that I really like her attitude but she is the main reason why this series is somewhat ‘interesting’. Had she been a typical goody-two-shoes like any other main characters, this series would have been as boring as hell. Because when you have every episode title named after her state of mood or circumstances, it tells you a lot about her. I mean what is your impression when you read titles like “Chitose the Braggart and the Voiceless Scream”, “Blasphemous Chitose and the Usual Story”, “Cocky Chitose and Shattered Popularity”, “Chitose Falls into Darkness and Disappointed Kuzu” and “Wavering Chitose and Determined Gojou”. Not very remarkable for a main character who has more than half the titles in such negative state.

Okay, so it was kinda mixed feelings when Chitose fell into depression because on one hand I was really shouting inside my heart how much she deserved it and hoped this would make her open her eyes but on the other hand I was really pitying her. I really felt bad when she actually went down in the dumps. I mean, despite her arrogance, she is still human. It is naturally for a person like her to dream of being big and famous but she doesn’t put in the hard work to justify it and often blames everything else but herself. She really thinks she is God or something. I am sure this attitude of hers we can connect in real life from the many experiences we have with such people. In the end, it took quite some time for her to realize or at least get the gist that being popular and number one is mostly hard work and perseverance. Just like respect, it is earned and not something given.

I can’t say much about the rest of Chitose’s fellow seiyuu colleagues, though. It doesn’t feel like they have a very deep storyline and it is only as though to give some sort of variety and distraction from Chitose. I mean, we have got to take a break from her whining, right? However back stories like Kazuha’s family problems as well as Momoka’s background from a family famous in the industry are just scratching the surface and provide nothing too deep. I mean, who doesn’t have their own problems to deal with? Because other than Kazuha’s inability to hold her liquor and Momoka who is cunning buy constantly worrying trying to step out of her parents’ shadows or the fact positive Koto has been in the industry for quite a while but never making a real impact, there is nothing more we know about them.

Most amusing one is of course Yae because of her very nervous and timid nature. At first she loves cowering behind Chitose for just about anything that scares her. It makes you wonder why she is in this industry in the first place. Because of that, Chitose loves teasing her sometimes with really mean sarcastic words leaving Yae to be even more ruffled than before. It feels like Yae is being masochistic for Chitose’s mockery? Though Yae does improve and doesn’t get anxious too often, she still maintains her trust and believe in Chitose. A true friend indeed. That is why Chitose should be thanking her lucky stars for having such support. Even if Kazuha and Momoka are bratty like her (but to a lesser degree because at least they are responsible), they still value her as a seiyuu colleague.

Ah, there’s always the new girl in town like Nanami because with all the hot attention on her but it’s like a new toilet seat. Not to be insulting but you understand the hype when someone new, fresh and promising breaks into the scene. I believe Nanami is very genuine in wanting to work hard and all that but sometimes I have this sceptical feeling if all that passion will fizzle out through the years. I mean, most of us started out like this positive outlook, lots of hopes and dreams only for reality and life to f*ck us all and bog us down to be cynics. Because of her super positive tones, it really makes me wonder the magnitude of her becoming like Chitose once she realizes she has fallen out of favour. I know all this won’t be happening and I hope it won’t but I’m just curious to know since she is so innocent even way past Yae.

Because take a look at Gojou. He was once famous and now what happened to him? I don’t think it was that bad to leave him in some sort of trauma because otherwise he wouldn’t let his sister be in this industry then. He must have realizes something and perhaps cut his losses before it got worse. Who knows? He might have been worse off had he continued being a seiyuu. Therefore Chitose as I have said is blessed to have such people around. Without Nanami entering the scene, she might have continued being a b*tch whom she plays to perfection in real life. Nanami literally and indirectly hit her where it hurts most: Her popularity.

Even more despicable than Chitose is of course Kuzu. Ah yes. Ironically his name already means crap and his attitude even reflects it. This is the guy whom all of us have met at least once in our life. The kind of guy who uses smooth words to make it sound like everything is alright. Nice words to paint a very bright picture and future. But when the real work comes around, he shoves that responsibility upon others and goes to be merry all by himself. The worst kind of person to work with. Thankfully Towada is competent and responsible to clean up his mess. Things would have fallen apart real quick if this guy isn’t around. At least with this experience I believe Towada has levelled up in dealing with this kind of sh*t.

Kuzu is like Chitose in not putting in effort into his work. Unlike Chitose who falls off the popularity radar, Kuzu falls out of favour from his colleagues as they can work and go ahead without him. Fall into depression, need some encouragement to get back up his feet and although changed but still largely the same person he is as we know. Don’t you see a pattern with Chitose and Kuzu here? Nanba I thought he was just some sleazy higher up who knows how to only laugh and agree with everything but as we see that he is also a serious guy and closely watching his talents in his agency. He lets the young ones take control of their destiny and when they sometimes go out of orbit, he has a little advice that guides them back to Earth. He is not the big guy in his agency for nothing.

While the art and drawing may not be that outstanding and your typical Japanese anime standards, if you want to compare it to other similar seiyuu themed animes, this one is of course the better looking one. The girls here have this bishoujo look unlike Sore Ga Seiyuu or Love Get Chu whereby they lean more towards the moe and kawaii look. Therefore I want to say that beneath all their cute pretty girly faces lies scheming b*tches that could be worse than the modelling industry. Animated by Diomedea who did anime series like Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Mayoiga, Akuma No Riddle, Kantai Collection, Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu, Handa-kun and Kodomo No Jikan.

Many of the main voice acting casts aren’t household powerhouse names. At least not in my books. We have Sayaka Senbongi as Chitose (Mumei in Koutetsujou No Kabaneri), Eri Suzuki as Momoka (Milinda in Heavy Object), Saori Oonishi as Kazuha (Aiz in DanMachi), Kaede Hondo as Yae (Miyoko in Handa-kun), Yui Ishikawa as Koto (Mikasa in Shingeki no Kyojin) and Amina Satou as Nanami (Yuuka in AKB0048). Kazuya Nakai is recognizable as Kuzu. Hearing him as this slick lazy producer is refreshing as it is odd. Because hearing him in roles like One Piece’s Zoro and Gintama’s Hijikata, serious and no nonsense (almost) characters, hearing him as Kuzu just makes him sound so gay. Really. I’m not sure if it is intentional because it sounds like Yotshitsugu Matsuoka is playing a character with the same name like as though he is playing himself (no, not masturbation lah!!!!) but I haven’t hear him go into such passionate mode for a long time. The other recognizable one is Sho Hayami as Shakujii whose low voice still gives off that assertive and dominant impression. The rest of the other casts are Yuichiro Umehara as Gojou (En in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love), Takuya Eguchi as Towada (Koikawa in Mushibugyou) and Kenyuu Horiuchi as Nanba (Kinemon in One Piece). Too bad no famous seiyuu cameos like in Sore Ga Seiyuu.

The opening theme, Bloom is sung by the main female quintet of the series. This makeshift band is also named after the series too. Sounds like a typical all-girl anime pop music and nothing too special. The same quintet also sing the ending theme, Ima Wa Mijikashi Yume Miyo Otome. I find this song to be quite weird. Especially some parts of the song I am not sure if they are making some sort of sound effect with their voices despite the rest of the song is more of rock. Then there is this strange dance that the girls do in the ending credits animation. Well, they’re not so much dancing since it is still pictures of them in weird poses. It feels like they are in some cheerleading squad or some sentai victory group pose or something. At least the song for the final episode, Ashita E No Tochuu De doesn’t sound weird. Just a typical all-girl group anime pop song.

Overall, this anime might look like some sort of warning to budding seiyuu wannabes. You might have a great voice but if you aren’t so great if your personality stinks. You can go out of the industry as fast as you come in if you do not stay relevant or even push the wrong buttons. Casual viewers might not really find this to their liking since the main character is already so b*tchy and by the time she turns over it is already too late. The damage is done. And in the end, she is still basically the same person. That is why Chitose can only be Chitose and excels at being herself. Because if you really want to see real b*tch drama, look no further than today’s reality TV. All is not nice and glitter as it seems.

If you can’t get enough of your low cost idols, whoops, I mean local idols, you will be glad to know that there are a couple more episodes to satiate your appetite, Futsuu No Joshikousei Ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita OVA. Yeah, because super large and famous groups like AKB48 (and all their other moniker spin-offs) and those super sexy K-pop girl groups are just so far out of reach and overwhelming for insignificant fans for us to keep up. So what a better way to continue giving our appreciation to small local units with the same big love we always have for them in the same way other fanatics and hardcores and diehards would for their gigantic untouchable angels.

Episode 14
Nagarekawa Girls are holing a Christmas fair at a local shopping centre. The crowd just loves teasing Nanako… At the backstage, Nanako is surprised that everyone holds a birthday surprise for Yukari. Isn’t her birthday on the day after tomorrow on Christmas? Yes but the staffs can only meet her after Christmas. So on Christmas Eve Nanako tries to go buy a present for Yukari but couldn’t decide on any. She sees Yukari shopping there with her friend and can’t help but spy on them. Afterwards Nanako meets up with her friends for their own Christmas Eve party. They exchange presents and recount stories how they first met in school and became friends. Meanwhile Yukari is having a high class Christmas Eve party with her family and other clients while Mirai joins Yui at her home. Before midnight, Nanako plans to surprise Yukari by dropping by in a Santarina outfit. But bad luck ensues. Yukari didn’t answer her door, Nanako realizes she left her handphone at her friend’s place and not to mention she brought the wrong present! Oh, she finally realizes that Santarina outfit is too thin and since it is snowing, it’s just freaking chilly. Hey, at least she wasn’t stopped by any policeman on patrol thinking she might be some sort of hentai weirdo. Slipping and landing on her butt ends her misery because Yukari is seen coming back. She ushers her into her apartment and after Nanako tells her happy birthday, she breaks down in happiness. They have their own little party and since it is late, Nanako stays for the night. Sorry people, no tantalizing yuri scenes. Next morning, Nanako’s friends along with Mirai and Yui arrive at Yukari’s place to celebrate her birthday. Another round of partying. I hope they won’t get fat at this rate. They watch the beautiful snow covering the town during sunset and renew their motivation to do better and more events and shoots for the coming year. Nanako then realizes she forgot to call her mom that she would be staying here. Don’t worry. Yukari already did that last night. Nanako is left to ponder why Yukari is on good terms with her mom. And she won’t tell.

Episode 15
Nanako is impressed the PV Awa Awa Girls made on TV. But she doesn’t believe Nagarekawa Girls will ever get to do one. You know how irony works, right? Because suddenly she gets a message from her uncle that they’re going to do a PV. Damn. The rest of the girls also get the message and since they have no idea how to do a PV, they decide to call Awa Awa Girls and get some hints. Basically, lots of hard work and difficult stuffs but the rewards at the end are satisfying. Well, don’t freak out so much, Nanako. No job is worth doing if you don’t put in the effort. So when they get their briefing from Saori, they realize all they have to do is wear their uniform and go around shooting video clips of the town. That doesn’t sound so PV. Then uncle explains they are shooting more of a PR video that will shoot gourmet spots that will sell the town. So apparently typed wrongly PR for PV? Are we supposed to be disappointed or relief? So as they go about their usual shooting, uncle gets this feeling that they are stiff and something is missing although the girls have been doing their usual. Guess what? He lets them think on their own and come up with ideas! WTF?! How irresponsible can he get?! Don’t blame them if it comes out something crappy. Like Yukari’s idea of focusing on Nanako’s cuteness. Nothing about Nagarekawa. Or like Nanako’s idea of being saved from drowning, eating cake and remembering a certain place in Nagarekawa. That would only make people remember about the girls and not the town. Tough, right? A bunch of kids see Nagarekawa Girls filming and interact with them about their shooting. Then they realize Nagarekawa Girls interacting with its citizens is the charm. So they go around shooting at various local tourist spots before editing the final cut. On the day their video is supposed to be released, turns out it will be simulcast worldwide. It turns out to be a big music video. Well, everyone we see is singing the theme song. So part MTV, part documentary, part trailer and part advertising. Yeah, it feels like a mix of all that. And this cheesy tagline at the end: Good town, good people, Nagarekawa! Ugh… Yukari and Nanako wonder the impact of their worldwide broadcast. You know it is successful when a couple of foreigners come to town and instantly recognize them. Welcome to Nagarekawa! Wow. Absolutely flawless English.

They Really Tried To Keep Up The Hype
Well, if you are really a fan of the series and Nagarekawa Girls, only you can appreciate this couple of episodes. Otherwise if you are like me, there is nothing really special except to see Nagarekawa Girls going about their usual routine but in a different theme. A Christmas and PV setting this time. It offers nothing new so if you are really expecting something different, prepare to be disappointed. It’s basically almost the same formula. You get your nearly intimate Yukari x Nanako scene in the first OVA and with the second one it is to remind us this is what they’ve been doing in the TV series. And Nanako still keeps mispronouncing her own name on stage due to her nervousness and everyone is like laughing about it because it has become a staple running joke. Overall the OVAs feel like an extension to the TV series just that these episodes are set almost a year apart from each other. Yeah, they’re really trying to keep the interest alive, huh?

Sure, I can consider this series to be one of those calming and soothing animes without all that violence and sex or other controversial stuffs that a majority of them are these days. However there was nothing really that special to tug my heart that would make me consider so. Heck, it even took me a while after finishing watching the OVAs to make me realize if I should consider this as the same level like Non Non Biyori, Tamayura and more recently Flying Witch. You see, the latter duo might be as boring as f*ck too when you look on a general level. But at least there was something underneath all that boringness that appealed to me. Non Non Biyori had the countryside simplicity and a certain eccentric loli. Tamayura had splendid sceneries. Flying Witch, uhm, light hearted magic? But as far as Locodol is concerned, nothing of that sort tugs my heart. I’m sorry to say this but they still haven’t converted me into a fan of theirs as I find them unexciting and bland. Yeah, I’m just watching for nostalgia’s sake.

So what is only new is the opening theme, Rainbow Baton by Nagarekawa Girls (but of course) as well as the first ending theme, Seinau Yoru Ni and the second ending theme, Seishun Say Cheese. Both are sung by the main quartet girls. They’re pretty decent as an anime pop but nothing that attracts me. So while these OVAs aren’t that bad and they are one of the few safest animes to watch, it all boils down to if you want to see a bunch of cute girls promoting their town with an equally cute (or is it creepy) humanoid fish character. Well, there is one way they could evoke my interests again and by 100%. Just dress up as maids! And you can bet they’ll have all my attention in the world. They don’t really need to try that hard then.

Miss Monochrome S2 & S3

August 20, 2016

I wouldn’t have guessed it that Miss Monochrome would get another season. Not one but two seasons this time. I guess a couple of OVAs over the years must be the foreshadowing of things to come. After all, our famous android idol wannabe still hasn’t reached her goal yet in surpassing her idolized idol. Well, we know it is not easy and seeing there are 2 seasons to cover all the adventures for her to stand out more and to stand atop next to Kikuko, the path to become an idol is a long and arduous journey. Even though each episode is only about 8 minutes long but it is at least twice the duration of its first season. Yes, even androids have it tough in the idol world.

Season 2

Episode 1: Reignition
Monochrome is doing well. Well, if you consider living in a one room apartment using newspaper as blankets as good. Hey, at least the weather is perfect. After recharging herself, she thinks of a way to surpass her rival idol, Kikuko to become a super idol. From mannequin acts to part time job at a convenience store, what else is needed? Surprisingly for the first time, Ruu-chan speaks! He says to increase her fan base by going on a tour and make her first album. She goes to talk about this to Maneo and although he knows it is impossible, well, you’ll never know if you don’t try. At least they’ve got optimism. And I think they got this first album thing wrong… Because they compile a photo album of Monochrome’s past acts! And the nationwide tour? On a rickshaw?! Only old ladies seem to be interested in buying the photo albums… But behold! It is sold out! Then it hit Monochrome that tour means a live concert. This means she needs an arsenal of songs. Back to the drawing board.

Episode 2: Promoter
Having the idea of holding a concert is great. But who is going to help promote it? That is why they need a promoter. Herald Mana! She’s back? To help be Monochrome’s promoter? Hey, what about her 19.3 billion debt? Don’t talk about the past! The future is now! So if she gives her 700 million and makes it to a round number of 20 billion, she’s all set. Where are they going to get money for this scam promotion? They can’t lease the convenience shop that’s for sure. If that is the case, Mana will go return to work as Kikuko’s manager. Thanks for nothing. So they go look for a promoter. I think Monochrome has got the wrong idea that a promoter means pro motorist! So here she is at the drifting circuit looking for that promoter! She spots one (since it makes her heart beat) and races with her. We meet this meek girl, Yayoi. Thanks to their drifting race, Monochrome is able to write a new song! Yayoi has experience working in a small recording label but it was never successful. That’s why she takes out her stress via drifting. She is happy to be appointed as Monochrome’s promoter. Timid and clumsy, but when she is behind the wheel, she becomes a foul mouth speed demon! There she goes…

Episode 3: Guitarist
Yayoi is fast. And I mean really fast in getting things done. So when Monochrome mentions the kind of venues she wants to book for her concert, Yayoi is gone and back in the flash and has already sealed the deal for the venue. I didn’t know Monochrome know how to joke because she wanted a big venue that could house 700 million people. Yayoi already got it done and manages to change it to 150,000 small venues. As for the songs that she will be singing… Hmm… How come they are all anime songs that Yui Horie sung? Aha… Monochrome would also love to dabble in different music types like metal, jazz, reggae, rap, opera, etc. Now for her band members. It is suggested they need a good guitarist to draw the crowd. Conveniently, they hear the sounds of a great electric guitar play. At the back of the store, Akiko who is Monochrome’s co-worker is jamming like a pro badass during her break. Guitarist found.

Episode 4: Goods
Monochrome and Akiko are doing well in their practice. Yayoi discusses with the rest the goods they would like to create to sell at the concert. Monochrome sure comes up with lots of weird ideas and you wonder if she is just joking. From a monochrome Rubik’s Cube to dark lights to towels and just about everything. T-shirts, stationery, posters… You name it, everything she wants. But not a guitar pick as suggested by Akiko? After Yayoi gets a move on to start making those goods, Monochrome tells Maneo she also wants an action figure. She believes her fans want them and she’ll be one on her own merits. I don’t know what happened or if Monochrome misinterpreted something because she turned into a bear! For a while, the hunting guys surround the convenience store but we cut all that crap and just jump to the happy conclusion that she is able to become a real one eventually.

Episode 5: Scout
Yayoi has returned with the towel goods. Monochrome likes it a lot and wants to charge a price enough to buy a house! Just kidding. After winning Wooser awards for being the best mannequin, the production meeting begins. They need to find other band members like bassist and drummer and give them some solo time. Akiko shows off her awesome guitar skills. But Monochrome tells everybody that nobody else needs solo time. This is her concert and nobody shall bask in the limelight. A foreigner heard Akiko’s awesome play and wants her to play for him. Shortly, Akiko quits her job, follows him to America and releases a successful guitar album. What have you got to say now Monochrome? With the band members issue still persisting, suddenly Ruu-chan is heard playing music so Monochrome not only makes as her band member but the DJ table and lighting. All in one! But she doesn’t mind giving him solo time? Too bad it was cut short due to time constraints.

Episode 6: Showdown
Despite Ruu-chan can do almost everything and save money, he can’t be a backup dancer. While Monochrome is in her usual mannequin act, the producer introduces them to a group of idol who just made their debut, Caramel. They are roped in to do the mannequin act with her. But when Monochrome hears them wanting to surpass her as their goal, it really irks her. But hearing that she is like the senior to them, she likes the ring to it and would gladly teach them how to be one. And so it goes without saying Monochrome is a natural but the rest can’t hold their positions any longer. Why do they even pick hard poses? But Monochrome tells them not to give up and observe her. Monochrome changes her position but is this allowed during the film? Some scenes do not focus on them so it is their chance to change position as the audience will not notice it. Caramel tries it out and their move changing act felt like one big slow-mo dance. Monochrome feels she wants to become the reason these girls look up to. She will be their Kikuko. They will stand out more. And that is how the backup dancers for the tour were chosen.

Episode 7: Again
Monochrome and Caramel continue their mannequin practice at the park. Then they discuss about changing outfits between songs. Yayoi mentions about a request to work in a programme and it would be good to couple in with their album and concert. Maneo points out that Monochrome has appeared in that wake up surprise before (although that show was put on hold indefinitely) and maybe she can do it again. The surprise wake up crew enters Monochrome’s room. They see the ‘mannequins’ but do not bother. As they try to surprise wake up what they think is Monochrome sleeping underneath the covers, it is actually Ruu-chan. Monochrome and Caramel spring to life. But they are creepy as hell, moving like horror movie ghosts! Crawling on walls too?! How did they do this?! It really scared the hell out of the crew. In the aftermath, Monochrome considers this a great success although that show isn’t broadcasted. Caramel is helping out at the convenience store but this worries Maneo about the labour cost. Don’t worry, Yayoi has already a job request from them after a surprise wake up crew referred them. Turns out to be a wax mannequin haunted house and they are doing their scaring perfectly. They should make this their day job.

Episode 8: Requiem
As Monochrome is about to recharge herself, suddenly an explosion and pops up before her is a handsome, uhm, battery? Shocking? Indeed. Claiming to be her fated friend, he takes her out and recommends several high quality batteries. Then they go adventuring around the world with their power of friendship. Get it? Power of friendship. I guess they went too far and got lost in the desert. There is no convenience store to recharge and Monochrome is fading fast. Battery did the only thing a friend would do. He recharges her at his own expense. Oh, he is non-rechargeable. Shocking, no? His last wish is to be recycled so that one day he could meet her again. He is a battery after all. Shocking, right?

Episode 9: Publicity
Preparations for everything is going well. Monochrome uses her 3D printer to print out the set where she will perform. Wow. A big amusement park. It will cost 150 billion. Yayoi eagerly goes to negotiate but is of course shot down as the production doesn’t have that much money. Using projection mapping, they can do some publicity stunts like photos for the tour items. Nearby, Kikuko’s crew are recording her music video. Monochrome meets her idol for a short while as Mana suggests an image change because Monochrome’s photo shots look bland. And so her image change only involves hairstyle changes from the ludicrous afro and Mohawk to the more typical girl hairstyles. Eventually she settles for a ponytail. Doesn’t look that all different, right?

Episode 10: Seventeen
Monochrome wants to know the difference with Kikuko and so she becomes Sherlock Holmes to deduce that. But first she needs to practice. Yeah, her elaborate scan of a woman can even reveal her back story as a spy and her future getaway! After almost 5000 practices (in which all were successful case solving materials), are we ready for Kikuko? With Maneo, they spy by joining her production crew as Monochrome only stares… Deep stares… Finally it dawned to her that there is only one question that she needs to ask Kikuko. But for that they have to wait in line for her handshake event. A queue so long that it takes more than 53 days for their turn!!! OMFG! So what is the difference? Kikuko responds that she will always be 17 years old! Why? Because her fans want it and so every inch of her body will forever be 17! So motivating that the entire country clap their hands. Now Monochrome vows to share that same dream and will forever be 17. It will be the most important thing ever like a religious doctrine. Hey. I thought androids don’t age… And hasn’t Monochrome been the same since the start of everything?

Episode 11: Innerspace
Monochrome is doing well in her practice. When Yayoi suggests trying another dance, Monochrome downloads it from Ruu-chan. But Yayoi clumsily drops her pencil and when she goes get it, accidentally unplugs the wire. Monochrome is now malfunctioning. Spinning like a DJ? Spinning and throwing Wooser? Spinning plates as a clown? You get it. Spinning is the theme. Ruu-chan then inserts his wire into Yayoi’s mouth to transmit his thoughts (how is this even possible?). The abnormalities occurring in Monochrome’s body will be big trouble if they don’t do something. So they have to go inside of her and repair her. With Yayoi riding Ruu-chan, you know what this means. So they’re shooting bugs like flying through Death Star? Anyway the problem is fixed and Monochrome is back to normal. She thanks her for the good work and Yayoi could feel a deep bond forming between them. Monochrome then reinstalls the programme but history repeats itself. Yayoi drops her pen and as she goes to grab it… Oh no… Not again.

Episode 12: Crisis4696
Preparations for Monochrome’s first album tour, Black Or White is progressing well and on schedule. It is becoming true that Maneo cannot help cry. But Monochrome tells him not to because it is all fated. But is the next thing that comes along fated? Because Yayoi says there is a big problem. She placed orders of several goods that go into tenths and hundreds of millions! They’re overflowing the city! Monochrome did mention to Yayoi about making those extreme numbers but before she could say it was a joke, Yayoi already left and placed the orders. If they cannot pay their dues by the end of the month, the company will go bankrupt and Monochrome will kiss her dream goodbye. Still insisting that she needs to become an idol? It seems the amount owed is 19.3 billion Yen. Hmm… Doesn’t this amount sound familiar? Very familiar indeed… And then Mana pops in because she heard they are in trouble. Aha! So fate does exist.

Episode 13: Monochrome2
In full emotion, Mana claims she is here to repay her debts to her. She will buy all their glow sticks for about 4 billion Yen and then sell them at Kikuko’s concert for 400 billion Yen, making a cool profit of 396 billion Yen! But there is still the 15.3 billion balance. Akiko returns from the midst of her tour to help. She feels indebted to Maneo for giving her the convenience store job and wants to pay back. She will buy all the remaining items like towel, t-shirts and preserved food at 15.3 billion Yen. The recording label now debt free and this must be fate too, huh? You must be wondering how Monochrome’s goods bearing her name will be used by Akiko. She donated them to refugees and thus Monochrome’s name has become celebrated as a great philanthropist. Monochrome hands out tickets for her first concert to many like Kikuko and Mana. A little girl buys her ticket and greatly looks forward to it, making Monochrome happy. And so her destiny to stand out more begins!

Season 3

Episode 1: Diskjockey
Monochrome and her team are on Mt Fuji to pray for their album’s success. She is in deep meditation when she sees a vision. She realizes there is something missing from their line-up. They lack a DJ! Are you serious? I think she isn’t joking. The reason being that in case if she runs out of battery during her concert, a DJ can continue to entertain the crowd while she recharges. Great idea. Why not just ensure a full battery then? Anyway, she has Caramel to spin to see if they have got what it takes. I don’t think a balancing act is what she meant. Heck, even Maneo has a go. I don’t think she is looking for a ballerina. As Yayoi drives them around in search of the elusive DJ, they stop by a patrol station. Monochrome sees the station owner wiping the car windows and likes his circular motion. That’s it. You’re hired, Mr DJ.

Episode 2: Exercise
I guess Monochrome and her team are going to think big now after releasing their album. Go on stock listing and opening more convenience store branches? Aside that, in order to stand out more and surpass Kikuko, Yayoi suggests more visibility. Monochrome then jokes about producing 7 billion samples. One for everybody! Aside the cost, if everybody had one, nobody will be left to buy it. Instead of giving out samples, she decides to hold a concert with her clones. However they notice the kids are more attracted to some silly yakisoba bread skit nearby. I’m sure Monochrome wants to attract children too but remember that demon getup from the first season that scared them away? She better not try that again. Another suggestion to increase her visibility among children is to do exercise. To do that, she needs gymnastics. And so Monochrome enters all gymnastic competitions and won all gold medals! Wow! Yeah, how could you beat a robot anyway? Now the convenience store is hanging all over with her medals! Maneo then made an exercise song of it and it becomes a big hit among the kids.

Episode 3: Mister
One morning, Monochrome gets this curiosity to put the battery in reverse despite knowing well it is not advisable. After all, it is human’s nature to do the opposite. She is not even human… She does so and what happens? She transforms into a guy! OMG! Mister Monochrome! Not only that, his personality is a total opposite as he is shy and wants to remain secluded. But he is a hit among the girls. So shy that he doesn’t want to go on stage and sing but the girls love him even more. Soon his reputation as an idol booms and becomes popular among the girls because they just feel like they want to protect him. But one day he can’t take it anymore and digs a hole so deep that no voice could reach him. I don’t know how the body was found but Miss Monochrome is back and learnt her lesson of never putting the battery backwards again. Meanwhile, her guy counterpart becomes a legend and his fan girls hope one day he will come back so they can protect him.

Episode 4: Appeal
A Star Wars opening narration parody to remind us that long, long ago in a far, far away past, Monochrome made a promise with Kikuko who is now reborn as the top idol. Yayoi wants Monochrome to change into her mascot costume now because they are going to enter a mascot grand prix. However Maneo says the outfit is only half dry. But it would be a waste if they pass up this long awaited chance. Monochrome’s meditation has her come up with a brilliant idea: Create a new mascot out of card boxes. Brilliant… She has Maneo wear and appeal to them this strange card box outfit. He sucks so much that even Monochrome quipped they can’t even appeal to old ladies! Beyond their wildest dreams! Yayoi suggests making the mascot shorter and with a few modifications, well, this one looks slightly better. Monochrome has a staring contest with it. She finds this danboroid perfect. Although they were too late to enter the grand prix, danboroid helps in distribute flyers and is a hit among old people. Yeah…

Episode 5: Girlfriend
Monochrome realizes Kikuko has lots of merchandise. Now she wants to do cross-promotion to stand out more. Maneo returns with news that the gaming company wants Monochrome to write a song to be used in their game. The theme shall be a Christmas one. Leave it to Monochrome logic to travel deep into the forest to find a Christmas tree so she could find inspiration to write one. Then she decides to go to Finland to seek Santa Claus’ advice on Christmas. So this guy doesn’t live in North Pole? He suggests she go to high school like in that game. Monochrome becomes a student and becomes attached with the teacher whom she calls Master Chris. But she had to leave for a journey overseas. Then it hit Monochrome. Master Chris… Master Chris… Christmas… Get it? With this new song, she demonstrates it before the producer. She is impressed and approves this cross-promotion which will be released during Christmas.

Episode 6: Fisherman
In preparation for their live concert, Monochrome and her team are at Okayama. A Caramel member has a friend who could rent a venue for dirt cheap and her relative runs a hotspring inn so they stayed for a bargain. Real cost cutting measures, eh? Caramel soaks in the hotspring and dream of some gay liaisons of Maneo and a male acquaintance! Yikes! Meanwhile Monochrome stumbles upon a man who pops out from a tuna (parody to Momotarou). He is Magurou and cannot stop moving or else he will die. As he needs to keep moving forward, this word clicks with Monochrome so they become best friends and move forward ahead together. But their friendship is short-lived as Magurou wants to head out to sea in his boat and catch tuna. Monochrome cannot follow as the salt in the sea will rust and leak her battery, leading her to be short-circuited. And so they have to part ways while moving forward their own path. Monochrome might not be able to handle salty water but she seems to be doing just find soaking in hotspring water.

Episode 7: Disguise
After the successful concert in Osaka, Monochrome and Maneo go sightseeing. They hail a cab but a limo pulls up. It is Kikuko and Mana! They are here to preview their concert venue at Super Osaka Dome. Monochrome invites Kikuko to go sightseeing with her and since the top idol has never done so due to her busy schedules, she agrees. But she is so famous that she will be recognized instantly. Don’t worry. Monochrome has a solution. Kikuko wears Monochrome’s mascot outfit. Then they hand out flyers to promote Monochrome’s album. Working while sightseeing? They even visit a place called USJ, which is actually Wooser jamming up the entire place. At the end of the day, they had so much fun and Kikuko thanks her. She will be heading off to America for a film next. The moment she takes off her suit, a fan spots her and you know what happens when all her fans come rushing, right? Luckily her jet is here to pick her up. Ah, life of the rich and famous.

Episode 8: Project
On her way home, Monochrome picks up an abandoned kitten. After nursing it back to health, the kitten speaks! She is Catora and to show her appreciation, will bring Monochrome to her world. In this beautiful fantasy world, Catora mentions there is an idol contest where it could help make her stand out more. Hmm… Those other contestants look strangely familiar to Caramel members… It is Monochrome’s turn as she does her impression of a mannequin. Everyone cheers her perfect act of a mannequin! The king announces the contest winner… Ruu-chan! Why?! He is impressed with his vacuum abilities to suck in garbage and trying to make this world a better place. He is so touched that he must win the contest! Catora feels bad for Monochrome but she can try again next time. It is when Monochrome is shocked that the cat is talking! She wakes up back in her home thinking it was just a dream. But isn’t that Ruu-chan with the king’s crown?

Episode 9: Unity
After another successful concert, Monochrome and her team relax. But while they are boating, Monochrome has been spacing out when suddenly she calls for a meeting. First, she reminds them about the tough competition of being idols. Then she points out their faults during the concert which are just minor faults like being off by a few milliseconds, a few millimetres further or even a little weight gain! It is needles to point out that Monochrome and Ruu-chan are perfect… Of course Caramel argues they are humans and tend to make mistakes. However Monochrome reminds them about the aim to be top idols and that they must be perfect and aim higher. This of course sends Caramel into depression but Maneo knows her harsh words are to remind them that people tend to forget their roots after getting popular. He agrees to act out with her. Therefore Monochrome puts on her perfect mannequin act with Maneo praising it. Caramel sees this and realizes Monochrome has been strict for their sake. Instantly they remember their original goal and join the mannequin act with her. They’re going to stand out more this time.

Episode 10: Radio
Another successful concert in Sendai. Monochrome is now wearing an eye-patch because of chuunibyou? The gang are excited for a music programme the very next morning at Tokyo. But it seems they missed the last train. With the programme on the verge of being cancelled if they can’t make it, Monochrome isn’t pushing the panic button yet. They have Ruu-chan to catch the bullet train. But his battery died! So why need to bury him?! Too far as a joke! Monochrome then takes off her eye-patch for her chuunibyou power to summon… Cows? Too bad they can’t grab any of them. Running out of options, Monochrome then makes an unscheduled appearance over a local radio about her plight. A fan listening was kind enough to send them back to Tokyo where they made it in time for the music programme.

Episode 11: A
During an interview, Monochrome’s answers are pretty obvious that the fans actually expected them. Because of that, she falls into depression. Can she? Or is she just waiting for Maneo to ask her so she can tell all about it. Monochrome feels she needs some unpredictability that would surprise her fans. So they discuss some shock factors like turning Ruu-chan into a girl, suddenly inserting a different anime into this series or trolling viewers with a fake Miss Monochrome: The Movie trailer! When Ruu-chan almost falls into the pond, this gives Monochrome an idea. In the next interview, Monochrome mentions a big surprise for her fans. Suddenly the trapdoor opens and everybody drops down! She calls it a great success. The platform soon rises back up and you bet the fans did have the biggest shock of their lives.

Episode 12: Distress
After a successful concert at Sapporo, Monochrome stays back to promote an album. She meets a fan, Umio Kita who praises her for everything. His fiancée, Michiko Hokkai is also a big fan and calls her but her line suddenly cuts dead and she sounded like in distress. Because she is mountain climbing, he panics that she is trapped at the peak. With the bad weather, the rescue team cannot proceed. Umio falls into despair as Monochrome and Ruu-chan take flight to rescue her. Can’t leave a fan dead, right? They find Michiko unconscious and they take shelter in a cave. Michiko comes to and is grateful for the rescue. As she is feeling cold, Monochrome lets her wear her outfit. Monochrome then sings her lullaby to let her sleep. It’s a rock song???!!! Ah well, since she is a fan, it is music to her ears. Monochrome’s rescue efforts make headlines the next day and because of that, her outfit is flying off shelves as the next fashionable clothing.

Episode 13: Monochrome3
Monochrome and Chrome perform in their final venue of their first live tour. Needles to say, a resounding success. At the backstage, a little girl thanks Monochrome for a fun concert. She promises she will come to her concert if she organizes more. Monochrome is happy she made another promise and will keep them no matter what. A party is held to celebrate the success of the first tour. Kikuko and Mana praise and thank Monochrome for inviting them to her lovely concert. They renew their rivalry and Kikuko is confident they can compete as top idols in the near future. Monochrome gives her thanking speech by naming everyone involved. After all, she couldn’t have done it without them all, right? But it is not over because she will stand out even more and sets her sights on bigger targets. Like getting a turnout of 469.6 billion attendees! How many humans does Earth have? Or does the universe have that much aliens? Everyone chants out Monochrome’s name, believing her dream will come true. Well, if you believe in Santa and aliens, why not Monochrome becoming a top idol?

Standing Out To Be Out-Standing
And there you have it. Monochrome making great progress and development in becoming the next top idol that would rival Kikuko herself. But personally something this season feels incomplete because I was hoping there would be some sort of development or showdown between Monochrome and Kikuko. And I mean competing as top idols. After teasing us with their intriguing past in the last season, I was really wishing to see something of that sort happen (helping Monochrome out during her stints doesn’t count) but as it turns out, Monochrome still has a long way to go before the epic final showdown. So more seasons or OVAs in the future? Well, if that is what it takes for her to stand out.

Although this might be trivial, the one thing I couldn’t understand is why this series is split into 2 seasons despite being aired back to back. Unlike some anime series whereby they air the first cour, take a season or two break before airing the second cour after it. The fact that this series restarts its episode numbering in the third season unlike those other animes which continued their episode numbering from where they left off before the break. So I just don’t comprehend why they didn’t treat it like a continuous series with 26 episodes as many if not all of the episodes feel episodic in nature.

With more episodes in store and even the increase in its duration per episode, Monochrome has definitely more time to shine and do her silly attempts to stand out more. Yes, her quest to stand out more has been repeated so often that it is like as though she wants us to remember that fact that she will do so. Uh huh. And it feels they are playing that joke for us to expect all that in one of the episodes. Monochrome is making steady progress in standing out but I have a feeling her standards to reach there is so high that it might take an awful long while.

I know Monochrome has been a funny android since day one. But what I didn’t expect is how her character can actually try to make jokes! The kind of jokes where she makes unrealistic demands of something before Maneo reminding her it is not possible and then she retracts that statement and says it was just joking. With a robotic face. So we aren’t entirely sure if she was just being sarcastic or really pulling a fast one. It was also hilarious to see her misinterpret certain words like tour and album. Such puns also catch us off guard as it is not what we would expect either and the effect is perfectly executed. Ironically as an android who has lived longer than any civilizations, she has yet to understand the human culture and the current era. Yeah, humans are so complicated that even androids can’t comprehend.

Other characters aren’t too shabby like Maneo who will always be supporting and trying his best to provide what Monochrome needs to achieve her goal. Then there is newcomer Yayoi who provides some comic relief as a naïve, gullible and clumsy woman. She literally believes every demand that Monochrome wants and she is so freaking efficient that before Monochrome could cut her off as a joke, she already has them delivered! Maybe it is thanks to her devil driving skills that makes her deliver them fast! With Ruu-chan as the equipment provider and Caramel as her backup singers, all of them don’t particularly, wait for it, stand out because otherwise it would be an insult to Monochrome by stealing the limelight. Yeah. That android will get jealous if you try to stand out more.

This means that also owing to the episodic nature of the series, many characters come and go and appear only for a single episode. Like that male version of Monochrome, that battery dude, the talking cat from the other world and that fisherman guy. But like I have said, this is so that Monochrome can hog the centre stage of each episode and be the star so she can, you’ve guessed it, stand out even more. Even if her tactics look silly and sometimes fail, but in a way it brought about other changes like that refugee thingy and snow mountain rescue attempt. As such it serves to enhance and make popular Monochrome even more. Mana isn’t such a bad girl because after swindling Monochrome of her money in the first season and running off with it, it seems to make our blood boil again when she returns even trying to trick Monochrome to part with her money. Then all is forgiven when she helps out to clear her debt later. I guess you can’t hate everybody eventually in this series.

There have been a few trivia making its appearance here like that Initial D parody whenever Yayoi gets behind the wheel. But more importantly the handful of Wooser cameos in a handful of episodes. As I have watched all 3 seasons of the Wooser series, I now understand a little of their little cross-over. In fact, Wooser too did make his cameo in her first season. After all, both anime series are animated by the same studio, Sanzigen.

The more I hear Yui Horie as Monochrome, the more I am starting to believe that she can actually pull off that cute robotic voice naturally instead of using special effects. And sometimes in my extreme case, I believe that she is actually an android! Okay, I’m just kidding but she is just so convincing in her Monochrome character that by not believing it feels like I’m in denial. Heh… I don’t even know what I’m saying. While the casts from the first season is retained, new ones are of course added. Especially Kana Asumi who is very much recognizable as Yayoi. She displays both her different sides of her voice with the clumsy version and the tough racer chick version. I thought it was going to be different when they decided to give Ruu-chan a voice, especially no other than Hiroshi Kamiya behind it. However his speaking roles are only limited to what I noticed as the first and last episodes of each season and they are just short sentences. In other normal times, he would be beeping as usual. The members of Caramel are voiced by the famous seiyuus themselves and you would have noticed when they are also suspiciously named after them. Like Yui and Kana. You know who they are, right?

Another one of the baffling things why I never understood this series split into 2 seasons instead of listing it as a 26 episode series is the opening and ending themes. At first I thought they were going to use the same opening theme Black Or White all the way since it was still the same opening well past halfway into the third season. Oh, please note that Black Or White isn’t some sort of rip-off or cover of the song with the same name by Michael Jackson. This song is as catchy and retains the trademark of Monochrome’s robotic voice which I believe what makes the song great. Despite the chaotic and crazy euphoric beat of the song, the only ‘downside’ is how the song suddenly comes to an abrupt halt. Like as though they ran out of their allotted time for the opening theme.

I would have preferred they retained this opening theme but with only a quarter of episodes left in the third season, they changed it to Miss Monochrome Taisou. This song might be a slower beat as compared but I didn’t like it very much since it sounds quite weird and feels like a song for kids. Besides, Monochrome and the other characters are doing weird exercise-like dances just makes the entire experience feels odd. The ending themes also follow the same appearance as the opening themes. Step By Step sounds like your typical idol song as well as Kimi To Boku which only makes its debut with only a quarter of episodes in the season left to go. But at least both ending themes don’t sound bad. It goes without saying that since this is Yui Horie’s show, she sings all of them and could even compile an album with songs sung with her robot voice. For the record, in this aspect my favourite one will still always be Coloring from Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai.

Overall, these seasons of Monochrome are still as entertaining and even perfect if you are a huge fan of her or Yui Horie. It goes to show that being an idol is not a bed of roses because even androids have it tough. Or could it be that anybody in this era can be famous so as long as you put your face up in social media and upload videos there. Or post dumb comments… And of course if you really do aspire to be an idol, this series is not meant to be a guide on how to achieve it. In the end it is still hard work, perseverance and effort. Because at the end of the day, these qualities will never betray you. Just remember to set your goals reasonably, okay? Yeah, where the heck are you going to get 469.6 billion fans anyway? Not even Anpanman has such many characters… :-).

I didn’t expect that they would make a spinoff of this series. The amusing thing about Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R is that it is a spinoff of a spinoff. Get it? Because Nurse Witch Komugi-chan Magikarte Z was actually a parody spinoff of that darker horror anime series, Soul Taker. So in a spinoff of a spinoff, we have entirely new but yet familiar set of characters and somewhat familiar setting. It is like they take the names of the characters in the former series and give it a whole new role like as though this is another parallel world. So expect the same kind of slapstick comedy for those who have watched the former. A spirited middle school girl turning into a magical girl to save the world (if not at least her city) from monsters while still trying to balance her school and idol life. Haven’t we seen this trope somewhere before? Oh yeah. Sailormoon, right? Or even Ilya… Almost…

Episode 1
Komugi Yoshida is a famous idol as she sings to her cheering crowd. At the end of her concert, the venue is hijacked by an alarm clock monster. Is this some sort of children’s sentai show on a big scale? Turns out to be a dream as Komugi smashes the clock. Now we know why people do that, huh? On her way to school, it seems she is some sort of an ‘idol’ herself because the town folks like this kind and helpful girl despite she is also a klutz. Maybe except her homeroom teacher, Misuzu who is crushing her face for being late! She’s the kind who uses hand grips as training and doesn’t fear doing it before her students. Be careful. I wonder how Komugi still has her cute face after that strong grip. Anyway, her best friend-cum-classmate, Kokona Saionji is a very popular idol. She has good grades and even part of the student council. Currently she is into acting. The perfect role model for Komugi to achieve her dream. On her way back, Komugi helps a strange rabbit from being bullied by a stray cat. Usa-P considers her kindness as the chosen one to be the legendary Tombo-E Girl. What girl again? If it is shocking enough to hear this weird rabbit talk, wait till you hear how he explains the ‘benefits’ of becoming Tombo-E Girl. You need to transform into an embarrassing outfit to use magic. No way! Better run Komugi. But Usa-P latches onto her as her hairpin. Komugi is also doing part time job promoting some pharmaceutical products. Looks like her fans are only old guys dancing to her tune. Hope they don’t sprain their back… After that, Usa-P pops up and is convinced with Komugi’s act that she is really the chosen one. Before she could refuse, she spots a little cockroach approaching. She becomes paralyzed and is screaming for help. Usa-P takes this devilish chance to agree into becoming Tombo-E Girl in exchanging for ridding the bug. Of course. Anything. A little blow makes the little cockroach fly away forever.

Komugi is suddenly picked up by Kokona’s driver, Toranosuke Matsukawa who claims that the film Kokona is currently shooting now, the director has decided to suddenly ad a cute middle school girl character. So you’re in luck Komugi. This is your big break! At the studio, Usa-P senses a monster materializing so in order not to alarm the others, Komugi has to excuse herself and hear out the rabbit and his mumbo jumbo. What the heck is with all the lame naming sense? Now she has to recite the magical words to transform. What parasol chloroform, uhm, tenipole what the heck? Cue card please? The film monster is wrecking the studio by turning everything goofy. Now Komugi faces off with it. She finds the magical nurse outfit cute than embarrassing. Komugi easily defeat the low level henchmen by swinging her magic wand around. As for the film monster, she is guided to use some magical beam to destroy it. A card known as Fan-C Card drops out from the monster. Komugi realizes she has been late for her shoot but when she returns, it is over. So who played her part? Matsukawa! That’s one freaking lame disguise! Your abs are showing, dude! The director must be real blind to be convinced that was her! Poor Komugi, her big break will have to wait. Back home, she is disheartened she cannot just quit because there are 108 Fan-C Cards to collect! I think Usa-P lied when he tells her if she does so she will turn into a cockroach. Buckle up for the ride, girl. She kicks him out realizing he is bathing with her.

Episode 2
A little flashback on the setting. Demons appeared in the Fan-C World and wreak havoc. Then that legendary girl defeated and sealed them in Fan-C Cards. But one day the princess accidentally dropped them down a fountain that connects to Earth. So if the cards will transform into a monster if they touch anything. Something seems to be stalking Kokona… Thankfully nothing untoward has happened yet but she still can’t shake that feeling. So when her agency president who is also a super idol, Ai Mitaka finds out about it, she increases the security around her school and dorm. It will be too late if anything happens. Kokona reminisces her past whereby she told her parents she wanted to become an idol. They gave her blessings and if she is going to do it, might as well be number one. There is a traffic safety event in which Kokona performs as an idol on stage. Part of the stage team for this event are Yuto Tachibana and Tsukasa Kisaragi as well as Komugi in a weird pink panda mascot outfit. At the backstage, Kokona couldn’t help feel being stalked again. Another close call when a hammer almost falls on her. In her dressing room, she is confronted by this weird tanuki, Tanu-P. He claims he has been watching her for a long time and notes her kindness and all. Even her lovely navel. Yup, sounds like stalker material to me. So we have flashback montages of the stalking scenes to confirm that this cute weirdo is the one ‘stalking’ her and in his haste to hide from being spotted, accidents almost befall on Kokona.

A Fan-C Card has just turned a police car into a monster. Usa-P ushers Kokona to transform. Looks like her lunch has got to wait. Tanu-P explains the need for Kokona to become Tombo-E Girl but you know what is most surprising? Kokona instantly accepts! Even shocking Tanu-P himself. Well, she figures he must be in some sort of trouble and need to help out. Hey, I don’t think she is given what to say and she flawlessly says her magical words for transformation! What Marisol sparklism, uhm, penifore what the f*ck? Komugi blunders in handling the monster and could be done for if not for the appearance of a magical maid! OH YEAH! MAGICAL MAID!!!!!!!! Usa-P is not amused and it seems the cute animals hate each other and in some sort of competition. Kokona seems weak in handling the low level baddies. But then it activated a dark switch of hers… She turns into a sadist! OMG! She is whipping everyone to submission! She’s enjoying it to the max! After destroying the monster with her beam, Komugi couldn’t care less about Usa-P in stealing the card since the case is solved. However Kokona being the bad girl she is makes Komugi stuck in her green slime. When Kokona reverts to her original self, it seems she has no recollection of her stint as a magical maid. But she does feel somewhat refreshed. You have no idea… Once Komugi frees herself, she realizes she is late getting back on stage. Look who has replaced her role? Matsukawa! Couldn’t anybody see the difference?! Later, Ai tells Kokona that the stalker case has been resolved. The big mama of her dorm caught one sneaking around. So there was really one…

Episode 3
Although the magical girls are friendly with each other, the critters are not. So yet another rivalry to see who catch the monster first. But when they arrive, it is gone. Our critters know this is the work of fellow rival, Neko-P because his paw prints are at the scene and he must have gotten a really strong Tombo-E Girl. Flashback to a week earlier, we see Tsukasa being popular among the girls in her school. She is a lead star in a detective series that co-stars Kokona and Yuto. Hey, Komugi has got her screen debut. At least as the dead victim! When Kokona talks to Tsukasa, Komugi chats with Yuto who wishes to get closer to Tsukasa as friends. When Tsukasa goes home, we see her true colours. Casting away her tomboy nature, her room is filled with girly stuffs and plushies. She chats with them all. Seriously, this girl needs real friends. As she dresses up and heads to the rooftop, that is when Neko-P appears before her and is amazed by some kindness of hers. The rest is history. So we get to see her singing in concert and it seems she likes the life of fighting monsters. It makes her feel like her true self. After another series shooting (again Komugi plays the dead victim), a monster alert is detected. This time Komugi and Kokona are at the scene first but the monster carp is too much for them to handle. Then here comes Tsukasa as a magical sister to save the day and kick ass! Her super beam easily destroys it. The girls are impressed and make friends but Tsukasa leaves first. While she is hanging out at the top of the studio, Yuto comes to talk to her. She flusters and runs away (almost giving away her real name). But he hopes he gets to talk to her again at this place. Back home, Neko-P warns Tsukasa about revealing her true identity. Failing which she cannot become a magical girl anymore. She’ll be careful but is happy she is a magical girl because as long as she is one, she can see Yuto again. She hopes another monster would appear soon.

Episode 4
Komugi is eager to enter a Miss Kunoichi Contest because the winner gets to be the model for Edo Mansion’s sign next year. So you bet Komugi is going to train hard. But walking stealthily? Everyone in town knows… Even worse, she is late for school and gets her usual punishment by Misuzu. After school she even does more ninja training but it makes you wonder if she is making a fool of herself. Komugi and her family tag along to Edo Mansion where the contest is going to be held. I suppose her parents need to rekindle their old flame on their first date here while little brother, Kotaro is more interested in a special show Kokona is going to appear in. While Komugi goes to prepare herself, her family watches the special show. Uhm, does Kotaro have a fetish for Kokona’s navel?! Then they go over to cheer on Komugi as she and other contestants play ninja-like games. Not too sure if it is pure luck or Komugi’s training that paid off as she advances to the finals. Meanwhile, the slimy frog mascot of Edo Mansion, Oedon has been possessed by a Fan-C Card. Before the finals, Komugi is nervous. Kokona and Yuto are there to give her encouragement. Especially Kokona telling her that Komugi won’t be Komugi if she isn’t having fun. Komugi is in dead last as the final race begins. But then the mascots sense a monster alert! Usa-P wants Komugi to go get the monster but since she wants to win this race badly, Usa-P pressures her to finish it. See Komugi zoom past all the contenders till the final stretch where they are surrounded by Oedon clones! Since the commentator says it is not in the script, I guess you know who they are. Kokona and Tsukasa aren’t faring well since they are caught in its slime. Too slippery to maintain balance. With her family cheering, Komugi gets her courage to dash past them and take the scroll that wins the race. At that moment, all the clones merge into one big Oedon monster and the crowd thinks it is trying to celebrate with her. Usa-P signals for her to transform. And thus our magical nurse saves the day with her super lotion beam. Kokona is eager to get her prize and to her dismay, I guess she never expected the sign model to mean a big panel where you put your face through so you can have your picture taken. Bummer.

Episode 5
Ai has good news for Komugi. For the first time she has a role in a drama series that has lines and is not a corpse! Wow! However when Ai sees her zero score for midterms, she takes it back! Oh no! Easy come, easy go. As told by Matsukawa, Ai was looking out for her since she was once an idol with hectic schedule and never got to go to school properly. And thus it is suggested to hold a study session at Komugi’s place. Hey, Kotaro is so sharply dressed. What gives? Aha… Tsukasa didn’t really want to come but since Yuto will be here, I guess this is the only way she’ll get close to him. Tsukasa isn’t pleased with the instant interruption from Komugi’s mom and Kotaro but when Yuto pops up, she becomes a nervous wreck. As usual, Komugi is lazier than anything and each time Yuto has to scold her to get things moving. But this only makes Tsukasa jealous as she sees how close they are interacting. Sharp Kokona senses Tsukasa has a crush on him. Tsukasa and Yuto are left alone when the duo went to bring in more snacks (is it break time again?). A series of flustering leads Yuto to fall over her and his hand over her boobs. Luckily they regain composure in time before the rest come back. While Komugi is dense, Kokona has an idea why their faces are so red. Finally a group photo to commemorate the study session. Tsukasa feels uneasy since Yuto is close to her. Komugi is confident in doing her tests. Unfortunately, monster alert! She needs to defeat it but hasn’t done her test yet. Eventually she manages to excuse herself that she needs to go to the toilet. Once she has transformed, she sees Kokona already taking on the line machine monster and destroying it. Was she even needed? Now head back for the test! In the aftermath, Komugi scores zero! Oh no! All the hard work! It seems she put all her answers in the wrong column. Had she not, she would have scored 56 marks, her personal highest. But Misuzu is understanding enough. She thinks Komugi was unwell during the test and would ‘remark’ her papers if she attend her special Spartan training. Alright. She’s game for it. But who knows… Why in the world does Komugi have to lift weights while reciting English words? WTF?!

Episode 6
Tsukasa is happy yet down. It seems there is a swimming meet for idols. Despite not very fond of the idea of wearing a swimsuit, she wants to show it to Yuto. Meanwhile, Komugi has finally landed a speaking role and not a corpse! At least being an alien is better than nothing. Tsukasa is down once more seeing Komugi and Yuto chatter away. Her driver thinks of cheering her up by talking about this Buri Bara card his son likes but Tsukasa totally has no interest in. Yuto and Komugi also join in the conversation. Then it hit Komugi about this super rare card they’re talking, Chateaubriand. She bugs Kotaro to give one since he has two. At first he doesn’t want to but thinking he could be introduced to Kokona and get into her good books, he gives it. Komugi visits Kokona’s dorm but found the wrong room. It is Tsukasa’s room filled with girly stuffs. Tsukasa who just came back is disheartened she has discovered her secret. Therefore she is going to threaten her to not reveal her secret but then this thought crosses her mind. What if this is a chance for her to become her true self again? Thus she will work hard and win the MVP at the meet and then make her announcement. So dense Komugi agrees to wait. At the meet, the usual water and pool games the idols play. The producer talks to Yuto and wants him to unstrap the bikini top of the girls so as to increase ratings. But then a Fan-C Card falls onto his swimming trunks. Yuto turns into some green metal bug who becomes a serial wardrobe malfunction maniac, cutting off not only the girls’ top but the pants of guys! Gender equality? Komugi is spared because the monster doesn’t cut school swimsuit. It aims for Tsukasa and cuts her diving/surfer suit. Komugi was fast enough to give her bandages to cover her breasts. Tsukasa then transforms to defeat the monster. Yuto is freed as Tsukasa pulls him out from underwater. At least she got to hug him. In the aftermath, Yuto doesn’t remember much but he has a hunch Tsukasa saved him and thanks her. It made her think she would love to stay this way a little longer. Conveniently the meet is cancelled and so she couldn’t win the MVP too. When she meets Komugi the next time, Komugi hands her the Chateaubriand card. She still thinks Tsukasa’s secret is that she is a fan of the card. Tsukasa is annoyed and just brings her to her room to let her see for herself her true nature. She hopes she can keep this a secret and would repay that bandage thingy one day. In that case, Komugi suggests singing with her and Kokona since it is her dream to sing together at Tokyo Skydome.

Episode 7
Komugi’s friends see her enter Tsukasa’s room and they think they must be having some sort of relationship. They eavesdrop and hear ambiguous stuffs like Komugi touching soft and round things but then big mama chases them away. Oh, Komugi is pressing marshmallows. Next day in school, the friends get the wrong idea since Komugi sounded ambiguous too. They were talking all night when they were interrupted and fought (a monster). Komugi won at the end. Her friends think Kokona was the rival and she lost out in her bid to be Tsukasa’s number one. Speaking of Kokona, here she comes. But with her navel exposed? Since they don’t quite like her indecent exposure, she then tries wearing a moustache followed by some funny raw food (I thought it was a worm!). The last straw came when Kokona is interviewing a retired Olympic marathon gold medallist, Kakeru Michio and she added weird words at the end of her sentences. Michio blew his top so the programme had to be cut. As Tsukasa talks to Kokona, it seems she is trying to find a persona because lately girls with specific personas get all the attention and if she doesn’t have any, she is afraid she will not become a top idol. Tsukasa gives the best advice of not wishing what she doesn’t have but instead to develop a certain trait. For instance, Tsukasa is always cross-dressed as a boy in many parts because it is what she does best. So what is Kokona best at? Komugi’s clue that she is always hardworking gave her an idea. After apologizing to Michio, Kokona gets motivated to enter a local marathon race. She trains hard with others supporting her. Come race day, Kokona is keeping a good pace. Of course a monster appears but luckily Tsukasa and Komugi quickly take it away from public view to fight somewhere isolated. They both cooperate to defeat it although the cutie mascots are still at each other’s throat. Kokona must be a masochist to love struggling since she finds it fun. Because of that, this gives almost everyone motivation. From studying to even a paraplegic grandpa to stand up! OMG! Kokona the miracle worker?! Even Michio cannot stand it and wants to come out of retirement to run! And so everybody starts running! Aliens and robots included! OMG! This makes Kokona realizes that with everyone supporting her, she doesn’t want to be the best idol anymore but the idol only she can become. She reaches the finish line much to everyone’s delight. Best of all, Kokona remains as herself.

Episode 8
Komugi is chasing a white bear monster that changes everything to white through the mountains. The rest of our young idols are doing a hotspring report but the director thinks they are stiff and unnatural. They think a bear is coming through the bushes but it turns out to be Komugi all messed up. So tired and dirty, she quickly jumps into the hotspring and gives the best review of it from her heart! Cut! The director will take her report then. As Komugi joins them, she almost gave away that she is a Tombo-E Girl. This has the other furries telling their respective magical girl if Komugi is that magical nurse. Based on their observations on how klutzy she is, they don’t think she is. They play ping pong and Yuto buys them ice cream. It is that gloomy feeling again when Tsukasa sees Komugi sharing her ice cream with Yuto. Yuto observes Tsukasa is somewhat dissatisfied and thinks he can help cheer her up by organizing a kimodameshi. Yuto and Komugi head out first. But then a monster is sensed. Komugi excuses herself to go back to the inn so Yuto will continue himself. His plan is to scare Kokona and Tsukasa so they will get close to each other and deepen their relationship. Kokona and Tsukasa walk their separate ways since they need to transform alone. So when Yuto sees Tsukasa coming alone, he also senses a bear (that monster) from behind. While Komugi tackles it in the background, Yuto grabs Tsukasa and pushes her down to hide. At first she is shocked at this development but soon learns why he is doing so. Eventually Komugi defeats the white bear monster and is the last one to return to the inn all messed up. The rest think she got lost again. As Kokona and Tsukasa soak in the hotspring, Tsukasa’s mind is elsewhere thinking about that close proximity. So when Kokona asks if she likes Yuto, Tsukasa answered yes before realizing her embarrassment and starts flustering like hell. It is no big deal to Kokona as she has been observing her actions. She gives her hope that Yuto sees Komugi as his little sister so there is a chance for her. Kokona senses Yuto just coming into the hotspring on the other side and takes Komugi (who just dipped in) away so that the duo could talk privately.

Episode 9
Komugi’s hotspring report is shown all over Japan. It becomes a hit that the inn experiences good business. You just really want to try it out, eh? Because of that, Komugi is delighted she has more hotspring reporting jobs. Though, she has to run to all the hotspring areas. Why? Because if Kokona can run, so can she! And so Matsukawa becomes her ‘motivator’ as she runs from a hotspring to another. But her tiredness made it all worth it. Then there is a rundown hotspring she is so supposed to cover but she was so tired and tripped that she brought down the entire structure! Oh sh*t! Next day, she thought she is going to get scolded by Ai but instead she heard her saying she is getting fired. Matsukawa sounded happy. Komugi is so sad that she runs through the entire shopping arcade screaming about it. Yeah, everybody now knows about it. Those old guys feel down too. So they head over to Ai’s office to plead not to get Komugi fired. However the decision is final. Too bad guys. And Ai doesn’t even know what the heck all that was about but she said it with confidence. So what do old guys who lost their wives have nothing except their granddaughter, drinking, reading, travelling, movies, ceramics, mixers, golf, fishing, photography, mountain climbing, sushi, tempura, social work and volunteer work have got to live for if they don’t have Komugi??!!! Yeah, that’s pretty much a lot of things to live for… They won’t let this slide yet.

Komugi is still down and if you’re wondering if she can do her job as a magical nurse, well, let’s say she took Usa-P’s words to take out her frustrations on the yawning monster. She gets even violent when she thinks the monster is mocking her being fired! OMG! She is beating it up so brutally that it cannot be shown! Even Usa-P is scared! Oh my… In the end, she is about to resign to her fate of not being idol material when her friends bring her to a stage. It is made by those old guys and they want her to sing for them. Even if she is fired from her agency, she will always be their idol. Can’t disappoint your fans now, can you? So we hear Komugi sing as she realizes the tremendous support from her fans and vows never to quit being an idol. Ai, Matsukawa, Kokona and Tsukasa happen to pass by and see this. When ask why, Ai seemingly confirms about Komugi’s dismissal though she had intended to make it a surprise. More puzzling, she congratulates her on being fired. Now, before you can hate her, remember that Buri Bara card game? Since it is getting an anime adaption and Komugi went to audition for a role, she got a part. The characters are named after meat parts of the cow and she got the neck part (kubi means both neck and fired). Now you understand? As for the destroyed inn, it was scheduled to be torn down anyway. The owner even sent a thank you note for saving the hassle. All is well, ends well. But Komugi may need to explain about this ‘illegal’ concert…

Episode 10
Tsukasa makes sweets for Kokona and Komugi and she is good at it. However she doesn’t want them to tell others as she has that tomboyish image to keep up in the public’s eyes. Kokona then mentions about the school’s legendary rainbow cupcake and if given to one, they will be friends forever. You bet Tsukasa is going to do that. After doing a promotion for a White Day event, Yuto remembers Tsukasa giving him Valentine chocolates although she said it was obligatory (yeah right). He ponders if he should return the favour. So he asks Komugi what kind of sweets Tsukasa likes. Not wanting to reveal her secret, Komugi replies otherwise. Any fool can pick up her unconvincing lie. Tsukasa finishes her filming fast so she could join her friends to make the rainbow cupcake. As she cannot reveal her expert baking side, Kokona and Komugi are forced to distract the other friends so Tsukasa could make the necessary adjustments that would otherwise spoil the cupcake. Even if it means Kokona taking all the credit at the end. Of course the friends are eager to know whom Tsukasa is going to give her sweets too. Kokona or Komugi? The big battle to end it once and for all? A monster appears by smothering girls in sugary sweet cream. When an uninspiring announcement is made that a pervert is near the cooking room, Tsukasa dashes over to check if the cupcakes are alright. But first, Misuzu uses all her wrestling moves on the monster. She’s raring to go! While she basks in victory, the monster escapes but is short-lived as the magical sister finishes it once and for all. Good news the cupcakes are still intact.

I’m not sure about this WTF scene because some girls not only give Misuzu their cupcake but when her to do a wrestling move on them! Are they masochists?! In the end, the friends never knew whom Tsukasa gave her cupcake to but they notice they are as friendly as ever. Yuto couldn’t find the kind of sweet anywhere (as described by Komugi’s lie). He is contemplating not doing so when he bumps into Kotaro who seems to want to buy a gift for Kokona in return. It is the thought that counts. This makes Yuto know what he has to do. Yuto gives it to Tsukasa at the backstage before their event. Tsukasa is surprised but happy. But that turn into dismay when the gift turns out to be squid ink?! WTF?! Hey, it’s the thought that counts, right? Yeah, according to some fictional island, giving such squid ink on White Day means he hates you! Oh no! She loses motivation to give the cupcake but Neko-P seeing how hard she has put in her effort will help her out. Thus Tsukasa in her magical sister form gives Yuto her cupcake. Kotaro gives Kokona his present and she too has something for him. Same for Komugi for Usa-P. How considerate. But it is damn spicy! Tsukasa is going to resign to the fact she can only be Yuto’s friend as a magical sister but Neko-P has done more homework because he found some region that giving squid ink on White Day means friends forever. Yahoo! Such a happy blissful girl. Yuto eats the cupcake and finds a familiar taste. It tastes like Tsukasa’s style.

Episode 11
Lilia hates being alone. Komugi and her friends are talking about Supernova Lilia, a top idol from America. Seems she is going to make her debut in Japan soon. When Komugi and Kokona head to the studio for their usual filming, they are shocked to find the filming has been cancelled. Apparently some agency took over this slot of filming and will use another idol. Yeah, big money talks too. I guess one programme cancelled is alright, right? Wait till they find out the other shows they are doing are also cancelled! Because those slots are also bought up by that idol agency! Okay… We still got Buri Bara, right? Right before the press conference, Ai had to relay the bad news the entire anime is cancelled! OMG! Don’t tell me that agency has bought that anime slot. Yup. A new anime called Lilia Paradise will be in place of it. So let me guess, this new idol is going to take over Japan this way? With the entire day free, Komugi hangs out with Kokona and Tsukasa. They bump into a lost girl who is clearly Lilia in disguise. It took a while for Komugi to recognize but she is absolutely thrilled when she does. Lilia knows a lot about them since she watches their shows. They have fun at the park together till her agents come to pick her up for a press conference. Lilia aces in all the events and later invites Komugi and co to her concert at Tokyo Skydome. Meanwhile our furry mascots are on their way back to Fan-C World to give an update about their progress. All of them are at a tie with 35 Fan-C Cards each and there are only 3 more cards left. They sense a monster but when they head to the scene, it is over. Could it be some other magical girl beat them to the scene? They don’t know who since neither summoned their Tombo-E Girl. They sense another monster but this time get a real beat down. Animal abuse! OMG! Have you seen them being smacked down like that?! Worse, this monster steals all their hard earned Fan-C Cards. I’m sure we can pretty much guess who that monster is… Meanwhile Lilia’s much awaited Tokyo Skydome performance begins.

Episode 12
When our girls return home to their respective rooms, they are shocked to see their furry mascots beaten up. Too bad Komugi didn’t miss Usa-P while he is gone. After being told what happened, each see an idol magazine in which Lilia is in an article. They recognize her as the monster who stole their Fan-C Cards but the girls don’t believe. To be certain, they hang out with Lilia and our animals are surprised she doesn’t emit any monster signal. Everyone attends another Lilia concert. A monster is detected and this time they spot the camera monster. Better be quick because this monster has the ability to see through clothes with his infrared! Our magical girls transform and hop on stage as everyone thinks this is part of the performance. Before they could do anything, Lilia’s teddy bear activates and combines with her to become a magical idol. The monster is defeated and with Lilia having all the Fan-C Cards, she will now use it to grant her desire. She wants the entire world to become her fan. Not just every damn human or animal on this planet but aliens too! Komugi and co claim this isn’t the way to win the heart of fans but Lilia is not all ears. So our furry mascots tell our magical girls to combine their power for an ultimate move. This means doing a concert of their own to snap everyone out of their spell. Yeah, whatever. Once it is over, it is raining Fan-C Cards and our mascots are fighting among each other to swoop them all. Meanwhile our girls transform back since it is mission over and they are shocked to realize the other’s true identity. Right under their noses… … Then they laugh it off. No big deal, eh? Yuto has seen them transform back too as he confronts Tsukasa being a magical sister. He is glad because he was hoping they were the same person. All of a sudden, Tsukasa admits she loves him. He too replies back he loves her! Woah! Too fast?! Komugi never knew… A few days later after the set is repaired, Lilia continues her awesome concert. The princess of Fan-C World, Hime-P uses her power to animate her teddy beat so she won’t be lonely. Our fury mascots return to Fan-C World and man, they look hot in their bishonen form! They praise Hime-P all they want and did she give them the green light to do something naughty to her? When you have a princess this sexy… Komugi narrates the aftermath that Lilia became busy so they rarely meet up but still do. Kokona trains hard for marathons. Yuto being selected for a swim meet and will be based in USA for 10 years. Tsukasa hopes to follow him there. And Misuzu… She became a pro wrestler! Oh, Buri Bara is back on schedule and dubbing is about to begin. Komugi returns to her normal life till she trips on Usa-P again. He claims there is another threat and she needs to transform into a powered up Tombo-E Girl R.

Go, Go-Mugi De Go!
It was indeed a brainless fun series. I would love to leave it just as that. Because eventually they never explained what the heck that R supposed to mean. Revolution? How is Komugi revolutionized here? Revived? If she dons her magical nurse outfit again, would it means she would be reviving her magical girl career? Yeah, one of the biggest trolls of this series. The characters aren’t too deep and the ending just felt rushed just because it is already on its last episode don’t necessarily help but this show was meant to be silly on all accords so if you want to complain about all that, you’re barking up the wrong tree. You’re not supposed to expect all those here.

If you want to complain about the lack of plot, I guess technically you can do so. But with all the silly slapsticks going around, I’m not really complaining. Although it does feel a bit predictable and repetitive sometimes because the entire series is basically about Komugi and her friends going about in their daily lives, herald the-monster-of-the-week, it gets is 2 minutes of appearance to disturb the peace before being destroyed by some magical beam our magical girls chant with equally insane magical lines, heck even the monster has his final words before being destroyed, when all it is said and done all is well ends well. Period. What more do you want?

Therefore the supposedly magical girl fight scenes aren’t much either. Because the monsters are just so damn comical than threatening that it looks like even the police could have handled it. Only difference is because they might not have the proper tools to take off the Fan-C Cards that are stuck on them. Otherwise you do notice that many of the monsters, their habits and personality after being activated by the Fan-C Card are not really threatening to the world or even to the town itself. Like as though the monsters are made to look and act more docile so as the show can be suitable to be watched by younger audiences. You don’t say… There are a handful of those fancy terms (pun probably intended) but I don’t really give a damn since my brain power wasn’t turned on. I don’t think you’ll miss a lot as long as you understand and remember the frequently used terms.

As there are similarities with the previous series, there are some differences too so as not to make it feel like a blatant shameless rip-off. Most notably that the previous series has its antagonist in the form of viruses but this time they turned it into some card capturing thingy. Just like Ilya, eh? The former had the titular character having a secret crush on the fellow male idol. Our Komugi here it seems their relationship is more like siblings. Also, Magikarte Z only had a magical nurse and a magical maid. Now they added a magical sister to make it a trio. Instead of magical girls being heated rivals with each other, they are rather friendly in both sides of their alter ego. In fact, there are no heated rivals like in Magikarte Z even within the same idol agency. So no b*tch fights to see. And if you remember that tanuki, Posokichi that doesn’t really talk, right? Tanu-P has his fair share of lines and is mostly polite and gentle. I think there could be more but I’ll stop here before nostalgia ‘kills me’. Heh…

Character wise, you can argue they are pretty shallow because how you see them here is how they will be for the rest of the entire series. Like Komugi being the cheerful but clumsy girl, Kokona the polite girl but hides a dark sadistic side and Tsukasa despite being a tomboy is actually a true feminine down inside and yearns for love. You could say that the romance between Tsukasa and Yuto feels pretty much forced and an added distraction to everything. Because all the while Tsukasa have been just so shy to say out her feelings and when it is over, she got the courage. Where did she get it from? Oh, who cares, right? I thought Yuto would be the ultimate twist. You know, he might be the good looking guy but in the end, the culprit who has been unleashing havoc with the Fan-C Cards. Nope. Not even a complicated plot like this for this series. He is just another normal guy. Lilia’s character feels forced too because it was like as though they needed to introduce a new character just for our main trio to unite or something. I don’t even know why her teddy bear was evil in the first place or making her do all that bad things unless it is being possessed by some Fan-C Card. Ah well, this series isn’t good in explaining all those stuffs so you’ll have to accept things as they are.

The furry mascots too aren’t much themselves except to play the roles as comic relief and looking cute while doing so. There is supposed to be some sort of animosity between them but even when they get into an argument, it doesn’t feel threatening but cute seeing how comical they are in the first place. I mean, how can you take something so round so seriously threatening, right? Usa-P is supposed to be a pervert but as I see it here, I don’t think he is as bad as Mugi from the predecessor series. It is a good thing they don’t turn that scene of him joining Komugi in the bath and then she violently kicks him out into a running joke. Come to think about it, no doubt Usa-P is male, but he is some rabbit mascot for heaven’s sakes. So why does Komugi treat it like a real guy in the bath? As long as you’re male, you have that potential… You’ll never know… Better to be safe than sorry. I believe all of them probably got a crush on Hime-P, the reason why they are in competition to do this job and win her affections. In the end, nobody cared who won and all of them got the same sexy love from her. I think.

The rest of the minor supporting characters feel the same and are just there. Whether or not they are of big importance it doesn’t matter. Like Kotaro whom you would remember as Komugi’s brother who has a big crush on Kokona. The same case for Misuzu because her iron claw fist is a devastating move she uses on her students and in the ring. Komugi’s quartet classmate friends feel generic except that rapper girl who talks only in rap language as the only one that stands out from what would have been a typical group of bland friends. Then you have Ai as the caring president and Matsukawa as the loudmouth motivation guy who tries to give Komugi positivism if she is down. I thought it would be a running joke for him to take over Komugi’s place whenever she is away fighting monsters but that was thankfully stopped after a couple of times. The same case of Komugi always playing a corpse. Yeah, a joke like that even gets old even in a silly show like this.

The one big thing that mind boggles me is the fact how our main trio of magical girls cannot seem to guess the other magical girl is their close friend. Okay, I will give them the benefit of the doubt that their magical girl outfits has some sort of screen block that prevents them to identify clearly the other party. Yeah, right… The same reason why many cannot identify Superman and Clark Kent as the same person despite the difference is just a pair of glasses. Even if this theory is true, you would have noticed that their furry mascots have been tagging with them whether they are in normal form or magical mode. As they are there either way and given the fact that the furries know their rival, shouldn’t they have guessed when in normal mode that, say, Kokona is the magical maid? I mean, if Tanu-P is with Kokona and also with the magical maid, shouldn’t the math have been done? Are they that dumb? Or are they too busy trying to fight for the Fan-C Cards just to notice this trivial thing?

Drawing and art are okay with all the bright vivid colours making everything looking so lively and cute. Komugi and Kokona’s magical girl design for this spinoff looks as similar to their predecessors. There are slight differences enough to differentiate them but that is if you have a keen eye for detail because for a casual viewer like me, I was just thinking how freaking similar they look. Like as though they cut, copy and paste the designs and all and were too lazy to come up with a new one. I mean, this show is already a spinoff so there needs to be some similarities to the design. I didn’t think it would be this similar. I may be wrong but recently in the past few years I have noticed that dance sequence these days are starting to use CGI. Because those are how the singing and dancing scenes of the idols are here. Although I won’t say the difference is very jarring but you can tell at a glance. Are hand drawn dance animations hard to draw these days? Maybe with all the jumping around, imagine how many frames you are going to animate… So why not use technology! Not magic, mind you! But I have to hand it to them that the transformation effects and whatever magical effects during the fights are still pretty decent.

It goes without saying that with an entirely new spinoff, the entire casts are also new. This means you’re not going to hear that voice behind Pikachu and Chopper… If you watched the predecessor, you’ll know what I mean. Despite this is Kei Tomoe’s debut anime role, she did quite a good job to make Komugi sound like a clumsy klutz. Everything about her voice absolutely fits her character well. I thought it was Yu Kobayashi behind Tsukasa but it is in fact Makoto Koichi, another new seiyuu in which this anime series is also her debut. The other casts include Erii Yamazaki as Kokona (Roboko in Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku No Zvezda), Yasuaki Takumi as Yuto (Tsukasa in Plastic Memories), Daisuke Namikawa as Tanu-P (Rock in Black Lagoon), Ryota Takeuchi as Neko-P (Shiro in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Uki Satake as Lilia (QT in Space Dandy), Shizuka Itou as Ai (Haruka in Amagami SS) and Kenta Miyake as Matsukawa (Sydonay in Shakugan No Shana). Oddly or not, the only seiyuu from the previous Komugi-chan series is Haruko Momoi. She was the voice of the titular character then but now she is playing as Komugi’s mother. It makes me wonder if this is grownup Komugi of the old series since my paranoia is making me see little shades of her. Then again, what happens to all magical girls when they grow up?

I love the opening theme, Ready Go!! sung by Magical R which is basically the main trio magical girls. It is a very lively and catchy piece and you can’t help but sing along to its catchy lines as well as it makes you want to get up and jump and dance. Sometimes it isn’t enough that I had to replay the opening scene just to hear-cum-sing along again. “Everybody here de Lucky de Go! Everybody say de Lucky de Go! Everybody jump de Lucky de Go! Let’s Go! Go! Go Ready Go!” Oh yeah. Are we ready to sing that one more time? The ending theme is Ame To Namida To Otome To Taiyaki by Shintou Otome and is also not bad and catchy in its own right. It has that cheery sunshiny feel to it (despite the animation is mostly raining) and a little bit of cute rapping. There are also insert songs sung by our magical girls. They are rather okay as they are mostly idol-like songs.

Overall, this one is for the old fans for nostalgia and for the newer ones who want to laugh without cracking up their brains over deep twisted plots or convoluted characters with equally convoluted pasts, this series is perfect to take away the Monday Blues with some silly magical girl action and comedy (and a little magical girl dance) before heading back to that stressful reality of yours. So if you think your job sucks, try putting yourself in Komugi’s shoes. A young girl needing to juggle between her school life and saving the world. If only magic could make reality so much more fun.

Tantei Kageki Milky Holmes TD

November 28, 2015

OH YEAH!!! THEY’RE BACK!!! It is good to know that our adorable dummies detectives are back for a third season (fourth, if you considered that side spin-off as the third). Therefore I couldn’t really wait to get my hands on Tantei Kageki Milky Holmes TD seeing the ‘amazing’ kind of track record they have. Oh yeah. Milky Holmes. The name that rings shame and disgrace for true detectives all around the world in real life or fiction but brings joy to all those who enjoy their silly antics (like yours truly) as they stumble their way to become the world’s greatest detectives. And I hope they’ll take many more years for that. Haha! So, will they become True Detectives or will they become Totally Dummies at the end of it all? Isn’t that what TD is supposed to mean? Oh heck, I can’t wait any longer. Bring on mah dummies!

Episode 1
Fans are enjoying the idols’ performance when suddenly they cannot sing anymore! Even baffling is that all records of their voice are missing from CDs, tapes, files, etc. Could this be the job of a phantom thief? Phantom Thief Empire? Well, a personal call from Arsene reveals they don’t steal music. And so Kokoro takes it upon herself to find the culprit before her eternal rivals Milky Holmes does. She and her partner, Keiko are now suspecting Marine Amagi who is the most popular idol in the country now. Especially her Song of Miracles which is billed as the top song ever. As explained by her Producer and Manager, Marine possesses Toys that allows her Elements to take physical form. They have the ability to attract people who listen to it. As Marine has been singing this song with her Elements since young, there is no way she could be the culprit. Further observation on Marine shows that she is a kind hearted person among her peers. During her live concert, the same tragedy strikes. How can somebody steal her ability right in front of all the cameras and fans? In fact, all of her Elements have been stolen too. Feathers thought they can help but here comes those bumbling Milky Holmes! They know who the culprit is! Who?! KAZUMI???!!! WTF?! She is arrested and sent to prison! Meanwhile Marine’s fortunes turn for the worst. As she cannot sing, she retired and started appearing in variety shows but that itself didn’t make her go anywhere. Manager thought she should do something else but Marine has always bent on only becoming a singer. That is why she will swallow her pride and quit. I don’t know if Kokoro is making a joke because she says if Marine retires, she’ll arrest her?!

Then Milky Holmes pop up to announce that Manager is the real culprit behind this. She forced Marine into a corner and stole her confidence. Something about this lovely figurine of poor Marine that will be selling like hot cakes. Wow. So cute. Let me have one! Ahem… Manager shows her true colours but even surprising is Melodia, one of the Elements popping out from her cleavage. Melodia then challenges them to play a game with her. In this alternate dimension, if they win, they can have Marine back or else she will stay here with Melodia forever. So in this silly obstacle race, Milky Holmes do all they can to win it. Don’t even ask about that silly logic because Manager had bigger boobs that makes her float so the rest sting themselves to ‘inflate’ certain parts and do the same. In the end, Sherlock wins in. Kokoro is about to arrest Manager but Melodia says it is not her fault. When Elements were stolen from Marine, they were sucked into the person closest to them. Melodia couldn’t understand why but she felt she wanted Marine all to herself. Manager admits she did try to push Marine hard and because of those feelings it made Melodia go berserk. With Melodia returning to Marine, they notice her voice returns a little. This means if they gather back all her other Elements, she’ll regain her voice again. When Marine lost her Elements and Song of Miracles, she gave up but Milky Holmes taught her never to do that. Wait a minute. Those bungling detectives teaching somebody lessons in life? OMG. The world is going to end?! Yeah, they don’t even remember the incident where they lost their Toys, live in an attic and all those shameless stuffs…

Episode 2
Kazumi is finally freed from prison… See how much life it took out from her? You better sincerely apologize you Dopey Holmes! So they discuss about the other Elements. As Melodia points out, it is impossible for them to live outside humans so they must have been absorbed and living in other people. This confirms it. Kokoro is a big fan of Marine and is drooling while watching her video. Pink Lovely Doom appears before her. Oh God. It is that IQ bragging running joke… Pink Lovely Doom knocks her out. Not so smart now, are you? Milky Holmes thinks the culprit is the one who is jealous of Marine’s songs. Her idol mates are the prime suspects. Holy cow! Manager has brought hundreds of them here! How many of them exactly in this band? They wanted a million members… And Sherlock starts accusing one by one they are the culprit. Damn clones… Producer has a dubbing job for Marine. She accepts the monster voicing role but fellow idol Senna is not pleased because Marine already lost her voice and she hasn’t been fired yet. Does she think doing a movie will help her return? Sorry but Senna won’t help her. Instead, Miki Hojou would gladly help out Marine. Haven’t finished accusing yet, Sherlock? As they head for the audition, suddenly this idol gate crashes. Mayu Hanasaki looks suspiciously like Kokoro… She sings her Perfect Song in which it is so perfect that Dummy Holmes give her a perfect score. Even dumber as they are, they think this weird mascot, Capriccio is an Element. She badmouths Marine cannot sing but since Mayu’s beeper is beeping like Ultraman’s low energy warning, it’s time to go. Later as Milky Holmes try to have Marine name all her Elements (obviously she can’t because there are so many of them), Marine feels sad because she doesn’t want to go back to a place where she is not remembered.

And so the final showdown for the audition pits Marine and Mayu in a wrestling ring. Nero becomes the commentator while the rest are Marine’s assistants. Mayu unleashes some handshake power but Cordelia knows how to counter it. Now she fights back with some handmade sweets move to put Mayu out of commission. She is about to target Capriccio but Marine feels pity. In this distraction, Cordelia is owned as Capriccio reveals about the dog-eat-dog-world in show business. Survival of the fittest. Might is right! Marine becomes mad. Idols don’t need power. They need love. And she’ll prove it to her. She transforms into some Sailormoon spoof and with her Idol Shoulder Fist punches Pink Lovely Doom out of the Capriccio costume. Shocked that she is not an Element? Well, she never said she was one. She reveals that her goal is to find the phantom thief who stole Marine’s Elements. For that phantom thief to do that means they must be powerful. It is now a race to see who will find that phantom thief first. With Pink Lovely Doom gone, Mayu’s mask falls off and everyone recognizes her as Kokoro. No memories of what happened? Well, at least Marine wins the audition. Stronger and motivated, she vows to reclaim all her Elements and won’t give up. That’s the spirit. During the monster dubbing sequence, she tries her best to roar but sounds so meek and cute. Can she muster up a real roar? RAAAAWWRRR!!! OMG! She sounds like the real deal!!!!!!!!

Episode 3
Marine and Miki are in some curry promotion shoot. But she has to do several retakes. Getting sick of curry? Milky Holmes has no decency to even try their own curry in front of her. When Producer mentions about some shrines job, Marine instantly accept it. Milky Holmes doesn’t have to come but they insist. Why do they look like they’re here to have fun? It gets worse when Manager screws up their timing because they missed the flight. You don’t think they are here early because their flight is supposed to be at 1pm and now it is 3pm. 10 hour wait? You’re freaking late! No choice, they start trekking through the desert. They miss the only bus whose frequency is only once a day. Milky Holmes starts becoming idiotic as they continue their misadventures. Even more annoying is how they sleep talk about how rich they are. I can understand why Marine is so freaking upset if they are really here to protect her. Yeah, she can’t really believe these girls are detectives. When they reach a local Indian-like city, they learn the prince has some sort of obsession for curry and those who do not satisfy him will be imposed very big tax. First thing Milky Holmes does? Let’s go eat! Can’t work on an empty stomach! But they become scared seeing this magma curry and start pushing it around. Now you see their true colours, Marine? You have every right to be upset and walk out! Dummy Holmes doesn’t want the curry to waste and start licking the ground!!! ALL TOO FAMILIAR!!! Their curry is more important that they realize too late Marine is gone.

Marine conducts her own investigation but the guards capture her and throw her in the dungeon before the prince pops up with some business with her. Milky Holmes sneaks into the palace easily since the guards are pretty occupied in catching a pair of phantom thieves intruding the place. They are Feathers and this is just a diversion. You think those guards care if they are detectives or thieves? Stick ‘em up! With Cordelia’s Toys, they manage to trace Marine in the prince’s throne room. Marine is surprised to hear that Milky Holmes is here to save her and she feels bad for abandoning them. It seems the prince is possessed by the Harmony twins from Elements. As usual, another game on. The one who can make the best curry wins. Milky Holmes gathers the ingredients but because Nero wants to use the sacred cow meat, she gets chopped off! There goes her appearance for the rest of this episode. After both sides finish, the prince starts tasting. The usual super exaggerated effects when he tastes the Harmony twins’ dish. No reaction from Milky Holmes so does this mean the Harmony twins won? Surprised! He announces Milky Holmes as the winner! But why? He lets Marine tastes it and she could taste all the hard work Milky Holmes put in. She realizes this effort was because they never gave up on her. The Harmony twins reveal the prince was not at fault as they were attracted to his power and passion for curry. Of course his strong feelings for it mean they went berserk. The Harmony twins return to Marine and the prince is kind enough to lend his private luxury jet for them to return. They can’t help feel somebody is missing… Oh Nero…

Episode 4
Marine and Milky Holmes get lost in the forest while trying to find a hotel. Don’t ask. Milky Holmes see an old lady passing and thinks there must be a cottage nearby and rushes straight to her. But they end up in a mansion of a lady named Sakiko Kinumiya who claims she has been living here all by herself. She asks for Marine’s autograph since she is a big fan of hers. Actually she is a fan of one hit wonders. Milky Holmes misinterprets what that means and seeing they can live the luxury life, they agree to work for Sakiko by getting all 88 stamps. So we see them participate in variety game show challengers against other one hit wonders in Sakiko’s amusement park. Meanwhile Sakiko and Marine watch them on TV as Sakiko praises the perfect one hit wonder Marine is. However Marine doesn’t want to be that and wants to continue to sing. This irks Sakiko so she imprisons her in an iron helmet trying to brainwash her. Milky Holmes is on a winning streak but have to face a video arcade master. The one who scores the most points in 3 minutes wins. Nero thought she can do a better job but when she realizes she is lagging behind and tries to use her Toys to change the scoring system, it shuts down and reboots. Game over? Suddenly Feathers drop in to help. They claim their chipmunk teeth are magical accessories that allow them to beat any game. Don’t worry. Their hand is so fast that the score keeps adding up at incredible speed to make a comeback win! Milky Holmes wins! Now they need 1 more stamp. Unfortunately nobody knows who the 88th person is since there are only 87 of them. Have they been cheated? Oh, but here comes Sakiko to introduce Marine as her newest one hit wonder member. Suddenly Shout, one of the Elements pops out from Sakiko. They’re going to play a quiz game about rock. I don’t know. They have to choose between food and daily items. What do they have to do with rock? I don’t understand Shout’s explanation either… Oh heck, was it supposed to make sense? In the end, it is a draw. Milky Holmes gets their final stamp and is happy to join Marine in her luxurious one hit wonder life. However Marine has been trying to fight against this. She doesn’t want it to end here and wants to continue singing. Her determination is so great that she breaks out from her iron helmet. She is emitting a light brighter than any one hit wonder. The light of a true star! Shout is impressed with her enthusiasm and returns to her. It is revealed that Sakiko wanted to test Marine’s talent to see if it’s real or not. But thanks to it, Marine knows what she wants now. But Sakiko’s obsession with one hit wonders is true. Because she used to be one and wished that moment could last forever. She kept it all in her amusement park.

Episode 5
Marine will be starring alongside Carol Dodgson in Spygirl 4. Producer thought it will be a good opportunity to show the world she can do more than just sing. However the director sees them and there is a threatening letter to Carol. She is a total b*tch, badmouthing Milky Holmes for not being serious as her bodyguards (because Nero asked for her autograph) and she doesn’t want to be friends with Marine. I guess when you’re a big child star like her, you don’t want to mix with have-beens. Later the director reveals Carol is on the edge right now as today is her birthday but she hates celebrating and wants to continue working. It has been hard for her to work with adults and she doesn’t have friends her age. Milky Holmes didn’t know they are to play stunt doubles and get into trouble in the forest, running into a bear and falling off a cliff. But it seems Milky Holmes isn’t goofing around. The autograph Nero got, they have analyzed it and realize the perpetrator is the same. Shortly, Kokoro is called to the scene because the director receives another threatening letter. Milky Holmes has Carol follow them into the forest. Suddenly Sherlock points a gun at her and tells her she is their hostage! What gives?! Then they got hide in some cave as Feathers give them some delivery goods. Milky Holmes happily dancing around the bonfire? Marine is sorry for what is happening to Carol although she has no clue what Milky Holmes is up to. Carol scorns her for losing her ability to sing. She’d rather die than go through that. Looking at Marine pisses her off because it reminds her of her future self. She grabs the gun to fire a warning shot but it’s fake. Turns out this is a surprise birthday party Milky Holmes planned. Carol is not happy. She doesn’t want to celebrate. Milky Holmes is puzzled that she wrote a threatening letter to herself. They think she has been working so hard every day and can’t make friends or even celebrate her birthday.

She admits she did write that letter but it’s not because she doesn’t want to work but to ensure her status as an eternal star. She was going to disappear forever after filming but now she’ll take all of them along with her. Then one of the Elements, Rhythmic pops out. In this wonderland dimension, Rhythmic explains time stops here because Carol doesn’t want to grow up. As she is a child actress, she’ll be worthless when she grows up. Marine argues she is wrong and this isn’t what Carol wants. She doesn’t want Rhythmic to steal her happiness. Rhythmic decides to play a game and if they win, they can have her back. So they’re playing a game of jenga. Milky Holmes is going to lose on their turn when Sherlock hypnotizes Cordelia to be a block. It fooled Rhythmic so when it is Carol’s turn, Cordelia is hypnotized back to normal and the blocks crumble. In the aftermath, Rhythmic points out Carol is not the phantom thief. She felt scared that if she can’t be with Marine, she can’t make people happy. Same for Carol. She feared of growing up and relied on Rhythmic. After Rhythmic returns to Marine, Carol talks to her that she often listened to her Song of Miracles when she is going through hard times. That is why she had the director casted her in this movie. But for Marine, after seeing how Carol placed priority in her acting, she realizes she didn’t give her singing the same importance. Therefore no matter how hard it gets, she wants to go back singing. Carol requests for her autograph by Marine can’t give it to her now. Not at least she can sing again. But they can be friends. Kokoro then arrests Milky Holmes because they wrote a dumb threatening letter to pay them a year’s supply of fish cakes and bananas. Yeah, who else could write such a joke?

Episode 6
It must be a bad day for Kokoro. She is sick but still has to go to work since her G4 pals are also out sick. Worse, Milky Holmes is here to visit! Not enough energy for a retort? Keiko suggests cancelling their traffic safety course but Milky Holmes would gladly help out. So they do a poor impersonation of G4 and I don’t think they’re fooling anyone. The kids are not impressed. Even the old guy (who is Arsene in disguise) tells them to do it properly! Milky Holmes sees Producer and the rest watching a video. Did Marine upload a video? No. This is an impersonator. Despite the butt hurt comments, this video has 7 billion views! At this rate she will become more famous than the real one. Sherlock knows who the culprit is. It is Miki! What kind of joke is this?! Thanks to this commotion, Marine finds out about this. Sad girl. Milky Holmes gets cracking on the case. Nero calls Feathers to help find out about Nerima Tenkujo, the one who uploaded the video. They finally discover her location. Despite looking like a duplicate of Marine, she is just a plain girl without all that makeup and accessories. Seems Nerima is a big fan of Marine and believes she must make more videos for her. Besides, she is not doing anything illegal and the site she uploads the videos have permission to use her music. The real Marine pops up and she believes it is not Nerima’s fault as it was herself who lost her Elements to begin with. Nerima starts talking crazy that since everyone has forgotten Marine ever since she lost her singing, she will become famous in her place. All her fans will love her in her place! Sherlock throws a tantrum that this will make Marine feel sad so Nerima throws down a challenge. She will upload a new video tomorrow. They will also upload a video and if they can get more views than hers in a week, she will delete the videos. If they lose, they will resign as detectives. They think being a video star is easy, huh? Well, Sherlock’s Kamaboko walking through a box only nets her double digits. Same case with the rest on filming whatever that was. At least Hercule got 10,000 views because she was unintentionally reading a fairytale in an erotic way! Plus, it was tagged as an adult video.

Nerima is glad those Dummy Holmes are no match for her. She has already amassed a billion views. But she sees the people talking about a new video that is all the rage. It is Marine dancing. Even more worrying is she has gotten over 900 million views. Nerima then decides to use her secret weapon. By pressing F5 key, she will refresh the page and add to the views! But nothing happens. That is when Milky Holmes caught her in the act. They have replaced her keyboard with all F5 keys! They knew she was the culprit after noticing her F5 key has been worn out. Nerima becomes upset. One of the Elements, Dancing pops out. Time for another battle. They thought it is going to be a dance battle but it turns out whoever can be a real boy wins. Dancing transforms Nerima into a girly boy to flirt with Nerima. Could have almost stole her heart had Milky Holmes not snap her out of it. Not it is their turn, Nero could have fitted the part well but they decided to pick on Hercule and turn her into a guy. That banchou outfit is so unconvincing. However Hercule makes her move. She isn’t just being a real boy. She is manly! Look at her Adam’s apple! Well, actually the cough cold deepened her voice since Hercule caught a little flu from Kokoro. Dancing admits defeat and returns to Marine. Nerima laments all she wanted was to support Marine. But Marine has learnt a valuable lesson from this. Idols need their fans to believe in them. Milky Holmes thinks they can make Marine more famous by uploading secret videos of her. You want to know why Marine is embarrassed and has had it with this worthless crap? It is a video of her sleeping. Aww… So cute…

Episode 7
The first thing Marine sees when she walks into office… Milky Holmes arguing among themselves… About lemon and friend chicken… I’ll spare you their argument details. Marine is disappointed because she thought they taught her about getting along at that Indian kingdom but this only puts oil on the fire. Because Nero remembers she was left behind and nobody cared! The argument intensifies… Later Marine talks to Miki about this and Marine is confident she won’t give up yet. That night as Nero goes to apologize to the rest, surprisingly they apologize first. Wow. Friendship back on track so fast. Next day, Nero has some weird rosy dream and when she is wakes up for a bodyguard job, she starts acting girly! Marine thought she could diffuse the lemon-fried chicken problem but to her shock, Milky Holmes doesn’t care about it anymore. What just happened? Milky Holmes will be Marine’s bodyguard as she heads to a TV drama set. She will be starring along with Hiroko Tenma whose beauty has never aged since 10 years ago. There are rumours she might be a vampire. Because so, they think Marine is in deep trouble to be her next victim. As they make their way to the set, they get horrified by Tenma coming out of the coffin. Useless Holmes minus Nero all fainted. Turns out the crew was just rehearsing. When Tenma looks at Nero, something between them click. Once the rest of Milky Homes wakes up, they are shocked to see Nero in a traditional Japanese outfit and she has agreed to become Tenma’s adopted child! It is because she looked like her child she lost a long time ago. Of course they are sad because this would mean the breakup of their partnership.

Of course Marine heard rumours from other staffs that they never knew she had a daughter. Manager heard another rumour that Tenma adopted a daughter 10 years ago but there was a boy she often took along with her to shootings but one day she stopped bringing him. Could it be she is really a vampire? When Milky Holmes goes to see Nero because they miss her (really), suddenly coming out from her is one of the Elements, Poemi. They are going to play a traditional Japanese quiz game. I don’t know how this one works but Nero is taking a great lead. Marine makes a comeback after getting that determined feeling. And then when she answers about being a true mother, Tenma as the host gives her maximum points for her to win the game. When Nero is back to normal, she genuinely apologizes to everyone. Everyone is getting emotional. Group hug! Poemi returns to Marine. Later it is revealed the rumours on Tenma were true. She did have a son and Nero looked very much like him. So she mistook Nero for a boy? The daughter she adopted 10 years ago was her maid. Tenma realizes she has been neglecting her and wants to restart as a true family. Her son somehow left and she treated her as his replacement. This time she’ll be her true daughter. Milky Holmes get brutally honest about Nero’s character and here we go again with their silly argument…

Episode 8
Kobayashi calls Milky Holmes that there has been another case of a stolen Element that is similar to the case they have been working on. This means Milky Holmes and Marine are off to London! They meet Oscar who may look like a pretty boy but is actually a woman. She comes from a family of making the finest tea and her only Element, Noblesse has been stolen on one stormy night. She has her butler, Andrew let them taste the tea. Although it is delicious, Oscar views it is not enough. Ever since Noblesse has disappeared, she couldn’t make the best tea anymore. She feels she doesn’t deserve to inherit the Duke of Twilight title and become the head of the family. Her aunt, Jeanne suggests giving that title up to her goofy son, Nicholas since he is a boy. But Professor Cline Nevalt, the famous tea critic believes that cannot be the case since Elements stay with those who are suited to be the next Duke of Twilight and gender has nothing to do with it. Milky Holmes gets cracking to find Noblesse. That night Marine sees Oscar and cheers him up with her Elements. He notes that having an Element is proof of talent. He felt that because Andrew was always there and tasted the tea for him. Marine mentions about his funny glasses so Oscar laughs. He explains Andrew used to play with her a lot but one day she had an accident and he saved her. This caused severe lost to his vision and if he doesn’t wear glasses he cannot see anything. When Marine goes back, a knight armour threatens the detective to take her friends back or else. But Cordelia comes to save the day as the armour runs away. She knows who the culprit is and calls everyone to gather.

Putting back the armour that was situated in the front hall that everybody can use, it seems only somebody small can fit into this. It couldn’t be Nicholas or Jeanne and the obvious person could be no other than… Cline! WTF?! This guy is wheelchair ridden, can’t you see that?! They believe he is faking his disability and egg him to stand up! Nope. Wrong deduction again! Cline now plays detective. He has Marine remember the knight’s words. He mistook her for a detective and miscalled her Hercule. It is obvious, isn’t it? It is no other than Andrew! So the butler did it, huh? He has to take off his glasses to don the tight armour. Noblesse then pops out from Andrew. She wanted to relieve Oscar of her burden. Now they’re going to play a game. If Milky Holmes can get out of this living maze, she’ll return to Oscar. They have a time limit and the maze can change. Cordelia sees some plant eating bugs in Cline’s hands and uses it to make the maze open a path to Oscar. Noblesse tries to stop them but Marine summons her Elements to make a beeline to reach the finish line. Noblesse reveals Andrew did not steal her. On that stormy night, she went to hide in him so as to relieve Oscar’s burden of being the next head. But Andrew feels responsible. He is always jealous of Oscar and Noblesse being together. He thought she would love him if Noblesse was gone. Oscar cannot believe this and fires him. After all these years and he doesn’t know her feelings. Oscar believes Noblesse chose him that night. Andrew hugs her, will quit has her butler and make her his wife. Everyone enjoying this romantic drama? At the back, it seems Cline can actually walk but he is Kobayashi in disguise.

Episode 9
Cordelia suggests using Ouija Board to help find the next Element. Wow. Is it really working? Because it point to some casino island and a new international casino branch to be opened by Scarlett Ohada. With the hospitality of the prince (Milky Holmes pigging out his curry meal), they make their way there and the moment they land, Sherlock is being struck by some android girl, Ann Gardy. They attend the opening ceremony as Milky Holmes uses Ouija Board to find the Elements but since it predicts numbers for them, Milky Holmes becomes greedy and starts gambling. Marine meets Miki who is here to do an opening gig. Marine then sees Milky Holmes being taken away because when their winning streak turns into losses, they start borrowing from loan sharks to repay their debt. And they kept losing… Noir the Black Dealer wants to play a game with Milky Holmes as instructed by Scarlett. They thought if they can beat her, the debts will be erased. Nope. Element Decrescendo pops out from Noir. If she loses, Decrescendo goes back to Marine otherwise Noir will take all of her Elements. First they play poker. Noir is confident her four-of-a-kind will win it since Milky Holmes only has weak hands. But she didn’t expect Marine to get a Royal Flush! Next game has cards with girls claiming they are 17. But one of them isn’t. Which? Marine is going with her guts but she accidentally sneezes and picks up another one. This proves to be the correct card. Wow. Such incredible luck. In the final game, Marine must walk across a panel in which certain tiles are loose. If she falls down, it’s game over. Noir believes she will lose because a column of tiles are all loose. However Marine jumps over and wins it. Marine and Milky Holmes hurry back as they want to catch Miki performing. Noir laments her failure to Scarlett. Although Scarlett says she has fulfilled her duty and was no match for her unnatural luck, Scarlett views Noir as useless and wants her to leave. This is her only home. Where is she to go? Not her problem. If you’re wondering where Ann has been all the time? She’s been playing the slots and has won buckets loads of chips! This is enough to repay Milky Holmes’ debts! Scarlett then makes a surprise announcement that there is going to be a wonderful show and needs Marine’s help. Once she goes up on stage, the roof opens and Marine is sucked up along with Scarlett into the ominous sky.

Episode 10
Noir explains Scarlett is now on the floating island that was once created by some super civilization. Scarlett has been strategically opening her casinos so that it could channel its power to this casino island to summon the floating island. There is a Levistone on that island with incredible luck that those who possess it will never have bad luck ever. Scarlett plans on ruling the world with it but to get that stone, you need incredible luck and who better than Marine has that. The catch is, in the process Marine’s psyche will be destroyed while Scarlett will be unharmed. But how are they going to get up there? Ann has a special dimensional hole inside her locket that will allow them to get there (the floating island is filled with flying sharks so it’s impossible to get close via plane). Ann reveals she is a guardian of that place and it is here duty to prevent any sort of awakening. Since a great effort of concentration of bonds is required to keep the hole open, Hercule, Nero and Cordelia stay back to let Sherlock, Miki, Noir and Ann float up. However Scarlett’s henchmen are here to break that concentration. Fear not. This is where Feathers comes in to help. Once on the floating island, Scarlett lets loose traps to keep the girls at bat. During a robot attack, Ann takes damage and it exposes her mechanical arm. Though, she can still function like normal. Once they reach the main room, Noir tries to convince her mother to let her find Levistone for her. However Crescendo the Element pops out from her. They deduce she has been attracted by Scarlett’s greed. Time to play a game. Sherlock and Scarlett engage in a Yugioh card game parody with nonsensical and crazy moves. Sherlock wins at the end but Scarlett continues attacking them. Shouldn’t Crescendo be back to them? They think Scarlett’s greed is so great that it is forcing to keep Crescendo by her side. Miki then uses a bold move to grab Crescendo away from Scarlett. Scarlett reverts to normal and Crescendo returns to Marine. Everybody leaves the island but Ann won’t. She will stay here and be on standby till her next mission. Sherlock is sad since they have already become friends. Ann says goodbye but Sherlock corrects her it should be see you again. Ann returns to her pod and goes into slumber mode while Sherlock with tears in her eyes holds Ann’s locket.

Episode 11
The media hounds Miki and ignores Marine. But something else bugs Marine. When Miki grabbed Crescendo, she noticed she used her Toys. Could it be? Because that phantom thief who stole Marine’s Elements popped up, Kokoro is upset that the media has such information and the police didn’t! My, slacking aren’t we? So she orders to do a search for all the people at the casino having Toys. Yeah. There are so many of them… Keiko stumbles upon Miki’s data and they see something… When Producer has a new song for Marine, she won’t sing it till she gets all her Elements back. Marine tells Milky Holmes about her mom who wrote the Song of Miracles. Though she passed away when she was 6 years old, it holds many memories. Milky Holmes suggests they look around places Marine went with her mom. So at the outskirts of a town where she used to live with her mom, Milky Holmes mistaken this landlady to be Marine’s mother! Weren’t they listening? Inside a closet, they see a scribble of Marine and her mom. Marine insists she didn’t draw that but they discover something shocking: Miki is also in that drawing. That is when Marine remembers Miki is a childhood friend and used to play a lot together. How could she have forgotten? Even more shocking news: Miki in a TV interview announces that she will be going solo and sing the Song of Miracles. So Marine returns to the city to confront Miki. Miki never said anything because Marine was a big star and hard to approach. Now that she remembers, Miki says the song belongs to them. Marine knows Miki is the one who used her Toys to steal her Elements. Miki admits her Toys is separation and uses her power on Marine to make her start back at square one again.

Miki is about to perform live on TV when Kokoro barges in to arrest her but is quickly restrained by the staff. Not even Milky Holmes can save the day. Who can then? Elements! How can this be? Although Miki broke their bonds once, Marine came back for them. Their bond has been revived and stronger than ever. Marine knows Miki has her final Element. After Miki transforms into her phantom thief form, out comes Amore. She is the one controlling Miki and the true perpetrator of everything. It all started when Marine and Miki first reunited. Amore hid inside Miki and controlled her. Amore believes that Song of Miracles is holding Marine back. This is the song that always got her back because Amore is the core of this song. As long as she has this song, she cannot overcome the obstacle before her and she wanted to set her free. Milky Holmes argues she is wrong because Marine never gave up. She is now much stronger than before. Marine proves that by singing Song of Miracles without any help. She thanks everybody for helping her. The Song of Miracles now does not belong to her alone. It belongs to everyone who loves it. After Marine and Miki reconcile, Amore notes she has matured and returns to her. This miracle snows down some light sparkles all over the world. Conveniently, Keiko uses her Toys to erase everyone’s memories so we are back at square one as they watch the live performance of Marine and Miki.

Episode 12
Miki has quit and with Marine making a comeback concert, lots of people are trying to book her to perform. Did Manager screw up and double booked her? Milky Holmes feels sad that their bodyguard job for Marine will soon be over. Don’t despair. She hasn’t forgotten about you dummies detectives. She sends them tickets to her concert. Kokoro is all geared up with all the stuffs to cheer on Marine. Only one problem: No ticket! Milky Holmes gets a call for a job that Pink Lovely Doom is on the loose. So they go chase her and I think they’ve got batteries lasting longer than the Energizer bunny since they run everywhere till Pink Lovely Doom feels Kokoro’s stress is gone and returns whatever counterfeit money plate to them. All that is left is Marine’s concert, right? If they don’t get another call for a job… Oh, the handphone rings… Trying to feign there is no such number? There is only one thing left to do: Milky Holmes, split up! So we have Sherlock chasing some piggy phantom thief, Cordelia helping an old man find his missing glasses in his mansion, Nero herding sheep and Hercule babysitting. Their job goes into overtime like Cordelia ending up cleaning the old guy’s mansion only to realize the glasses were on his head all along! Sherlock corners the phantom thief and her true identity is… Twenty! OMG! The pervert is back! Not just him. Stone River, Rat and Arsene too! Is Sherlock outnumbered? Her comrades finish their job in time to reunite and make this a fair fight. So we see the detectives and phantom thief duke it out as Marine concert gets underway. I don’t know how in a jam packed stadium, Marine can see that Milky Holmes didn’t turn up at their seats. Maybe she knows where they’ll be seating but do you know how big the stadium is? And Milky Holmes didn’t get the front seats… Milky Holmes’ battle has them take on giant Arsene (don’t even ask how this happen) and they combine their Toys to summon lightning to shrink her down to size (don’t even ask about this one too). Arsene is glad to see they have improved a little and decides to let them off for tonight (since Kokoro and the police are coming). But will Milky Holmes now make it for Marine’s concert? They thought it is over when they arrive but suddenly the place lights up again. Hey. Everybody waited for them?! Who are they? VIPs? Well, at least to Marine because she is thanking the super sleuths who helped her find what is most important to her. Wait a minute. Milky Holmes has a part to sing in Marine’s final song? Now guest artists, huh? And what better way to end it all with snippets of their past adventures together. How anti-climatic…

Elementary, My Dear Milky Holmes
Erm… Uhm… What… Well… Okay… If I had to sum up about this season in a couple of words, it would be toned down. Although Milky Holmes is generally silly but it seems they fare much better than in their previous seasons because they are not as dumb as they were when we first know them. I supposed we need to show how Milky Holmes have ‘grown up’ and graduated from their academy because you realize the setting isn’t in their Holmes Detective Academy. Teaming up with an idol to help recover her lost Elements may provide a little deviation from the usual formula of Milky Holmes cracking cases to catch phantom thieves or get back their Toys (the main goal in the first two seasons). However the format of Marine and the detectives going around to find Elements, meet different people, get into some trouble, get into some challenge, learn some valuable lesson (sort of) and having the Element coming back to Marine feels like a repetitive one. In fact, each episode almost felt like fillers although they are still connected. And that kind of ending… Must the most boring ever. Sing a song with an idol to close the season. Since when did Milky Holmes become a musical genre?

Sometimes I feel that because of how less funny it was, it sometimes makes the overall story and for each episode feeling somewhat forced and if I should say, a little boring. I mean, don’t you just feel the irony that the world’s best idol is only able to sing thanks to her little Elements? Sure, it is to showcase her ‘journey’ of learning some lessons in friendship, trust, love (and anything else you can add here) but I hardly doubt that those who watch this series are in for that kind of theme. We are here for the exaggerated nonsense that made this series so lovable in the first place. We know it was stupid or doesn’t make any sense but we loved it. Without all that, the toning down the comical stupidity in favour of something a little serious and soul searching and self discovery for the main character has proven to be a big mistake after all. The laughter is toned down and in a way feels forced. Yeah, I noticed I ‘laughed’ because it was supposed to be ‘funny’. Or so I think. Well, I definitely think it was better when the story had a piggy lard boy turned god trying to take over the world instead of a soul searching idol no matter how ridiculous the former was.

One of the biggest reasons that this season is very much toned down is Milky Holmes themselves. As I have said, they are still dummies but not in a way that they can be called retarded and useless anymore. It is with mixed feelings seeing them stray away from their usual behaviour as we once knew them. It is good to see them being more responsible and useful (cough, cough) now but on the other hand, they are less funny. That’s right. This season Milky Holmes did not make me laugh as mad as before. Although there is this supposedly running joke that Milky Holmes always makes the wrong deduction and like Sherlock quick to accuse the wrong culprit, it still doesn’t match to past season’s funniness. Get what I mean? They’re funny only because of my past perceptions and memories of them so when they do something silly even though it may not be funny, my natural reaction is to laugh.

I remember Nero was being such a very ‘spiteful’ character thanks to her greed and selfishness but this time around, it is good as nonexistent. Hercule was supposed to be the brains as I remembered it but she rarely displays any of that here. What about Cordelia breaking down and going into her fantasies? Nada. I don’t know, deep down I thought without all that, their charm is somewhat lost. It is like as though they are a different set of characters only using the Milky Holmes name and looking like them. Also, Milky Holmes seems to have gotten their Toys back although they rarely use it. Heck, Toys are hardly used here. Despite the final fight with Arsene has them displaying their Toys only once, it felt force because as though it is to remind us that they have such powers in the first place. Yeah well, like you girls said right at the end, I hope you all try harder on your next case next time. If there will be next time, that is.

Another factor could be the absence of Phantom Thief Empire. They are reduced to pathetic cameos. Without Arsene and her henchmen, somehow the fun has been reduced. Because no matter how disgusting a certain nipple erecting guy is, it is always never dull to see that pervert get full of himself (that includes stripping). I mean, Phantom Thief Empire was the one trying to bring out the best in Milky Holmes but it also brought out the worst in them. How would Milky Holmes get better (or worse) without them around? So with this season the loli detectives totting around the world with an idol, it feels this group of phantom thieves are sorely missed. I know they want new characters and storyline but something tells me Milky Holmes isn’t the same without Phantom Thief Empire. Therefore the final fight with them in the last episode feels forced just to remind us that they are still around. Or it could be to pass time because you don’t want to be bored if the entire episode is about Marine’s concert and that would be like stealing the limelight from Milky Holmes which is a big insult since this series is named after them. Even if we are surprised that they get a few more minutes of screen time seeing that they are missing for the big part of this season, we are certainly not amused. Like as though this forced appearance and fight is to satiate our nostalgia about them. Didn’t work.

Also greatly absent are the rest of the G4 members. Even worse than Phantom Thief Empire, it is like the producers decided to do away with Tsugiko, Hirano and Saku and ‘killed them off’ with unknown excuses why they don’t even bother to show up for work (maybe they can’t stand Kokoro anymore). Therefore our poor Kokoro is left to do all the work herself with Keiko. You can’t blame that loli police for being so stressed up and blowing her top all the time. Yeah. Kokoro is still amusing and funny in that sense. But I also guess that they don’t want to bore us with that running joke in previous seasons about her IQ and the gold mask whacking reaction each time Sherlock calls her Kokoro-chan. It is kept to a very minimum that if you have not watched previous seasons of Milky Holmes, you won’t really get it or think much about it. Those felt like just to bring up the nostalgia factor for us Milky Holmes fans. I’m not sure about this irony because remember in the OVA, Kokoro became an idol? Here, she seems to be fawning and drooling over Marine at one point as her biggest fan although she might be a secret idol Mayu without knowing it herself. Oh, did she forget? With Keiko around, very likely. Speaking of Keiko, her motives feel lacking rather than mysterious. I thought she was going to be the culprit or antagonist somehow but she’s just playing the observing role.

Other recurring characters feel okay and nothing much. Like Feathers who starred in their own spin-off and Milky Holmes played the supporting role, it is reversed in this season with the duo now acting out the supporting part for Milky Holmes. The case of I scratch your back and you scratch mine? In fact, many of the old characters make just cameo or don’t at all. Like Kobayashi and Kamaboko appearing just for a handful of seconds while Irene, Sonia and Lily (from Alternative) were greatly missing. Not even that bomb disposal unit, Poporo. Remember that Mori Arty villain? She made mysterious motives that made us question her goals even more. Where is she here? Don’t see her anywhere. Did they forget about this character or intentionally left her out? Perhaps it is a good thing that Mori Arty never appeared, otherwise we would be sceptically questioning the purpose of it all.

New characters do not impact much. Marine as the main character feels lacking in many ways. I guess in a way her sudden fall from stardom only shows how cruel and dog-eat-dog-world the idol business may be and then rise back to the top again once she has found enlightenment. Yeah well, whose show is this season supposed to be? I figure Miki resigned to atone for what she did to her best friend and somehow when she was the mastermind or at least co-culprit as the one responsible for Marine to lose her Elements, it didn’t really surprise me because if you want to do a good ‘detective’ show, the culprit at the end must be part of the casts we know, right? It wouldn’t be fair and ethical to throw in a new character that we wouldn’t know. But I didn’t guess it was her because I was thinking it might be Senna. Still remember this girl? No? Don’t blame you. I guess her character was just trolling.

Many of the other side characters just appear for that episode and nothing more is said about them once the plot moves on. Especially Marine’s Elements who just feel shallow. No great explanation as to explain why they are absorbed into a certain person and make their dark personality goes berserk. So it is puzzling when Elements that get absorbed to people very close to them most of the time like Miki and Nero, oddly how come they do not detect them in the first place? For those who got absorbed into others, how come they end up at far flung places like that Indian-like kingdom and a former one-hit wonder in the middle of the woods? Unless they were at Marine’s concert at that time but I doubt they were given the circumstances and everything. And it is odd that after losing a challenge, they return to Marine. That’s it about them. Yeah, we don’t even know why whatever power they have suddenly make their host go wild or their dark side, thus a lame excuse for some challenge that you will know will end in a predictable outcome.

At least the art and drawing remains pretty much the same in the first two seasons. Cute girls everywhere so I can’t see any reason to complain. Almost everything is bright and vivid. In any case, Milky Holmes themselves look much better than their cameo in Futari Wa Milky Holmes. Heck, more accurately they look like they should as before in the first two seasons. Backgrounds and sceneries are okay too and nothing too shabby. At least the chibi illustrations during the sponsor screens are still funny but the final end card illustration seems pretty good although they’re all sketched by the same person, though.

As the familiar casts are retained, new ones join in. The only one I could recognize was Ayako Kawasumi as Producer and Aoi Yuuki as Carol. The rest include Emi Nitta as Marine (Honoka in Love Live), Mari Nakatsu as Miki (Nanami in Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo), Ai Yamamoto as Manager (her debut and only role) and Asami Seto as Ann (Chihaya in Chihayafuru). I know it is a pretty long list considering the other minor characters that only appear for one episode and the rest of Elements but I’m just too lazy to list them all seeing the fact that I have lost my motivation due to my overall sentiments for this seasons. Hah! I’m taking after Milky Holmes’ laziness from previous seasons!

The same quartet behind Milky Holmes sing the opening theme for this season too. Milky-A-Go-Go has that familiar feel to all the Milky Holmes opening themes that you have heard thanks to its lively and cheerful feel. The ending theme is Tankyuu Dreaming by Emi Nitta and of course sounds very much like an idol song. Thanks to the idol theme of this season, there are lots of insert songs and on average, one per episode. Although some are fun to hear, unfortunately they don’t stick very long in my mind. Maybe it is a sign that they aren’t just as appealing?

It is with great despair to see that one of my all time favourite funny, wacky, zany, crazy series has turned out into something mediocre. So sad to see this series has been added to the statistics of sequels failing to live up to its predecessor. How I missed the ol’ days of Milky Holmes. I am not saying that this season sucks as it is still decent in many accounts. It is still okay on its own but it is the comparing with its previous seasons that really dragged it down. If you are an old Milky Holmes fan like me, it is only natural to expect sequels to be greater or at least on par with its previous works. If they ever do another season of this, I just hope they remember to go back to the basics. Yes, Milky Holmes. Remember elementary… Elementary, my dear Milky Holmes.

Have you ever had dreams of wanting to be some super mega world famous idol? The kind that you see Japan and South Korea churning out in the past few years? Oh yeah. Super stardom and fame. Super idols, who wouldn’t love them and love to be them? But what happens if you can’t make it this big? Well, don’t worry. Your dream of being an idol is still intact and you can start by being a locodol. Eh? What you say? Locodols. You know, local idols. I suppose instead of reaching international heights so high that you can’t see your own hometown, perhaps it is sometimes a good idea to have locodols that ordinary Joes and Janes can admire and fawn over. Well, you got to start small and from somewhere, right? Uh huh. Sometimes when super idols grow too big, they’re untouchable to ordinary fans. That’s why you have locodols to touch your hearts locally and still provide the same idol performance and execution. Albeit at a smaller and local pace. And thus this anime, Futsuu No Joshikousei Ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita showcases of a small locodol unit of a small sleepy town made out of high school girls. They do the best they can in providing a little entertainment for the locals. But will what they do reach the eyes of the national and international level? Only time will tell.

When I first heard the term locodol, it felt really odd because just hearing and looking at this ‘new term’ itself feels funny. I took the liberty to even deduce what it could have meant. Firstly, idols that promote trains! I mean, locomotive idols, right? Choo, choo! And then it could also mean… Low cost idols! Oh sh*t! I think this is somewhat almost true if you watch this series. It would have been amusing if this term was really used if not in this anime but another spin-off or something. You don’t need expensive and fancy things to be famous idols, right? That is why you have cost saving and thus low cost idols the give you high quality entertainment! Oh yeah. Lastly, I might be crazy thinking about this term: Crazy idols! Loco is a Spanish word for crazy. Wild idols that you will love or loath! Idols that cause controversy and chaos wherever they go, rebelling against establishment but the public loves them. Ah, we can’t have these type of idols as role models, can’t we? So before I lose myself in more of what locodols could mean, let’s get back to the anime shall we?

Episode 1
Kids have it all these days. Nanako Usami is asking mother for money to buy a new swimsuit and doesn’t want to work for it. Even if the simplest job pays the cheapest, she’s still complaining. So of course she tells this ‘problem’ to her friends and since her budget is around 2000 Yen, the friends agree to go help look for one after school. Being apart from her friends also weighs heavily on Nanako’s mind since most of them have their own activities and they can’t spend time as much as they want like they used to. When she returns home, her uncle, Mitsugu Oota who is a public servant pays a visit and he has brought lots of local souvenirs of Nagarekawa like soda pop and pudding. And entire fridge of pudding? Overload. Since her uncle is in charge of revitalizing this little town, he thinks he has the perfect job for Nanako. A thousand yen per hour for only 2 hours at an event at the public pool. You up for it? She is quite interested and even asks for payment upfront. In exchange she better work harder. That’s the problem with kids like her who didn’t even ask what kind of job she is doing until the day itself. Seems she will be a locodol, a local idol. Uncle believes that with other towns having their own attractions, Nagarekawa will be left with only old people and kids when the young ones flock to other towns. So to make Nagarekawa into a local attraction, locodols are needed! He wants Nanako to become one. She can’t walk out of it now since she is paid in advance. Plus, he reads out Nanako’s dream of wanting to become an idol and change Japan’s future! As expected, a rookie like Nanako doesn’t know what to do. Don’t worry. Yukari Kohinata is a veteran and she is nice enough to cover for Nanako’s nervousness when the camera crew is here to interview them. The girls go out to introduce themselves for the opening event of the pool’s remodelling. Nanako is nervous enough to fumble on her own name. Nanyako? Sounds cute… As they introduce the new attractions of the place, Nanako continues to be nervous and mixes up her cue cards. The crowd is seen losing interest and some of them are starting to leave. It is suggested to them that they sing. Just sing anything! Yukari gets it going by singing the local anthem. When Nanako joins her, this brings back the crowd’s interest. In the end, the crowd loves it. Next day, Nanako wakes up thinking all that yesterday was just a dream. Nope. Her face is all over TV! She finds Yukari is a second year in her school and she looks forward working with her in the future. Yukari wants Nanako to deal away with the formalities and not treat her like a stranger. After all, partners are like families.

Episode 2
Yukari and Nanako are doing a news for a local pest control. Nanako messes up and wants to do a retake. Sorry, this is live. This locodol job might be getting tiring after a week. At first her family and friends were excited but then you know, it becomes a normal thing. Wondering if this is really helping the community, she asks Yukari about it. Although she is not sure, she knows nothing beats making them happy. They’ll figure it out along the way. On another job that promotes a local sweets store, Nanako becomes worried that if she says the wrong thing and sends the wrong impression, it will be her fault if the store closes down. Calm down. Try eating the food first. Nanako’s expressions don’t lie when she tastes the glorious fillings. She is so naturally herself that she forgot she is still on the air. Oh… This food reporting airs daily so Nanako is forced to do it otherwise uncle hints she can’t continue to go to school anymore. Later Nanako calls Yukari to thank her and praises for her calmness and everything. Yukari believes Nanako was so convincing in tasting the food that it made her feel of wanting to try some. One day, Nanako heads over to Yukari’s place to discuss their team’s name outfit. You’d be surprised how rich this Yukari girl is. She has the entire floor to herself. Even stepping out of the lift, Nanako gets a personal welcome from her. Nanako flusters upon spotting a yuri manga she is reading. Is she into this kind of things? Yukari treats her to so much stuffs that they might actually forget why they are here. As they try to come up with a name, Nanako can tell from Yukari’s actions that she is like a girl excited that a friend is over for the first time. Actually she is. She practised and baked all those cakes from scratch so that they could have a good time. Yukari thinks she is not as composed Nanako thinks she is. Nanako suggests they just talk casual things instead of work. In the end, they had a great time. When the duo go collect their pay, Nanako is surprised it only covers basic wages. Seems they don’t get paid for TV work and it is treated as volunteerism. Their contract only has them paid hourly wage for concerts, product distribution and TV appearances. Though it pains Nanako, there is some a little extra. The sweets store manager has written a letter of appreciation to them. Their earnestness reached him. A token of gratitude is always the best reward. Oh look, he delivered boxes of free sweets to them. Looks like they are going to get fat…

Episode 3
The duo will be getting a new partner. A mascot? What the heck is this blue blob with a scary fish behind its back?! Uogokoro is its name and looks like uncle made it their community’s mascot. Can’t he come up with something better? Oh, a lot of funding has been received so it will be a lot of trouble if this flops so it is up to the locodols to make it popular. Nanako scolds her uncle that their outfits are cheaper than this mascot. Where’s the budget?! The girls introduce Uogokoro on stage and it impresses the crowd with its back flips. However its voice changer is slightly broken and this scares some of the crowd. The girls convince the crowd it is not feeling a little well. During the break, they find Uogokoro is manned by a petite girl, Yui Mikoze. She is actually their senior in school. She gets nervous when people look at her, thus the reason she took up this mascot job. Yui laments all she can do is back flips and will never become an idol. However she is glad for their cover. Despite Yui is their senior, in the job industry she believes she is their junior. She wants to go buy them drinks and when she lets loose her mascot outfit, she has a very well endowed body. Back at school, Nanako learns their unit has been called Nagarekawa Girls. Has she read the online stuffs and local newsprint? Too embarrassed to read about herself. She learns they were called something else but her uncle managed to plead it down to this so just be grateful. On another job, Nanako’s friends, Shouko Noda and Satsuki Kashiwaba drop by to support and check on how she is doing. Noda is not impressed with the progress made and at this rate people will only remember their lameness. But they start to be in awe when they meet Yukari. At first the friends laugh at their group’s name but Yukari hopes they’ll stay to watch or they’ll regret it because Nanako stands out more than her. For once, Nanako’s uncle bought a decent uniform dress with the budget for the girls. They are doing fine with their stuff on stage and even perfectly sing Uogokoro’s theme song. Then it starts to rain and everyone disperses to take shelter. What now? Nanako becomes bold and starts stripping and does the same on Yukari. Don’t worry, they’re wearing swimsuits underneath. I guess the guys just love it. Hey, if the girls are already wet, are you going to stay dry? No sexual innuendoes intended. The event ends on a high note. See, even the rain stops. Later Nanako apologizes for getting Yukari caught up into this. No hard feelings. It’ll be her turn to strip her the next time. Noda and Satsuki are impressed with Nanako’s performance as they text their other friends to go see her perform the next time.

Episode 4
There is news that a stalker or pervert is around with incidents of idol dresses being stolen from dressing rooms. Nanako got a fright when she thought Yukari could be one because she was following her from the train station and even picked up her gym clothes she forgot. At the studio, Nanako thought she saw a stalker in their dressing room. She panics and even misspoke her words (telling Yukari in the face she is a pervert). When they return, the said pervert is nowhere as Nanako’s uncle comes in to introduce Saori Nishifukai who will replace him as their new manager. As they are shooting at a river bank, Nanako got a bit stressed worrying about the pervert so Saori calms her down and assures that the staff will do everything they can to protect them. So forget about the pervert and focus on her job to have a heartfelt smile on her face. Back home, it is revealed that Saori could be the biggest fan-cum-stalker of Nagarekawa Girls as she has lots of photos on them as well as lots of outfits she would love them to try. She begged Nanako’s uncle for it and got the job. Nanako is surprised to see pictures of her uploaded to their website. Yukari tries to brainwash her that she is a cute idol. Later Saori hands them all the fan mails that she has been keeping. Talking about the website, it seems Saori knows a great deal about it. The girls point out the suspicious photo shots uploaded like as though it is from the point of a perverted man. They wonder the kind of person who could only take those shots and present at all their events. Someone like Saori. Saori can ask the website operator to shut it down but the girls love it since the site is interesting. At the department store, a group of kids recognize Nanako and Yukari as locodols although for the wrong reasons. Noting they are getting more fans but have a long way to go, the duo decide to perform Uogokoro’s theme much to their delight. Even the store’s mascot is supporting them. Later they realize was in that mascot (she’s doing a part time job) since it was like it knew every move they made. Saori calls Nanako about that guerrilla performance and hopes to inform them next time or else they can’t protect them. Yukari believes they should inform her and everyone properly the next time because they are all on the same team.

Episode 5
After another successful event, Saori reminds the girls about their true goal as locodols to promote public relations with the rest of the world. This has the girls start thinking about the need to promote themselves externally. Part of the discussion has them state what they want to be in the future. No, Yukari being close to Nanako doesn’t sound like it. On a serious side, Yukari wants to study abroad while Yui is saving up to be a voice actress. Nanako is so impressed with their goals that although she doesn’t think deeply about hers like them, it brings back traumatic memories about her dream to become an idol. They decide their next goal is to appear on national TV and what do you know? Saori calls them to say she has just entered them in the National Cute and Loose Character Field Day which airs over national TV. Goal achieved? Feeling nervous already? Nanako becomes a little celebrity when her friends find out she is going to appear on national TV. At the studio, Yukari tries out Uogokoro’s suit but she’s too tall for it. Although this new suit is lighter, it is at the expense of the voice changer (don’t even talk about the cost). This means they cannot communicate and how are they going to promote their town? It is suggested the duo will become the interpreter. That way they will get more screen time too. Killing 2 birds with 1 stone. The girls visit Yodel Hall to try their signature tanuki cake. Yukari and Yui are ‘merciless’ in ‘slicing’ it up but it is too cute for Nanako to do so. How will she ever eat it? Later they pass by the local river in which Yui narrates a very deep back story and historical background of the town and how the mascot came about and what it represents. You get all that Nanako? Feels like a history class, doesn’t it? More insights when she learns the fish is actually the real worship object and official character (it even has a name – Mulder). Yukari even adds on to the meaning behind Uogokoro’s design and all. They are going to pray to a local god for victory but Yukari points out a little ugly statue next to a mini shrine. This is the god of luck and named Biliken from America? Oh dear. I’m so lost. Why is Nanako trying to speak English? Biliken tries his best to make others happy, just like their job. Therefore they should focus on entertaining people rather than winning. But the budget still weighs heavily on Nanako’s mind and as they pray, Yukari and Yui’s are typical of wishing happiness, fun and smiles but Nanako just prays this whole damn thing resolves itself without having their salaries cut. She’s being realistic, right?

Episode 6
The National Cute and Loose Character Field Day is here. Nanako is going to experience shock when she sees the people underneath those mascot suits. Middle aged men… The locodols have their screen time in introducing their local specialty. Nanako is already so nervous about messing up on national TV and losing out to others that she is close to being broken. Wanting to strip? Yukari calms her down and says that they just need to be themselves. Of course she already messed up her lines and stuttered her name. It’s all going on national TV… Before the mascot games begin, Nanako notices that some mascots are slightly altered. Especially that Tamahosshi. The real mascot doesn’t have such a muscular body, didn’t it? Well, Uogokoro is also altered and made lighter, right? The games begin. Uogokoro got lucky in the sumo match. Uogokoro actually trips but the opponent is clumsier and trips out of the ring. The obstacle race, the mascots are bulky with odd parts and cannot traverse obstacles easily unlike Uogokoro and this allowed the blue blob to finish first. For the tug of war, Uogokoro wins on default since the opponent is an old guy and hurt his hip after bending down. This projects a rumour that Uogokoro brings bad luck to others and the harbinger of death! Of course Yui is concerned that they will have a bad reputation. Nanako cheers her that at least they’re getting more screen time. In the tag match, all the mascots that lost to Uogokoro give their support via hand signal. Wow. Understood so well. It’s like a translator wasn’t needed in the first place. During the break, the girls wonder why Yui’s altered suit hasn’t produced good results like the rest. Saori reminds them that if they wanted to win, they would have altered it greatly. The reason the electronics were removed was for her safety. It would be great trouble if something were to happen to her. The enlightened girls are motivated to do their best and not think about winning. In the final sumo match with Tamahosshi, Uogokoro does a back flip on him and wins. Although overall, Tamahosshi wins the championship and Uogokoro came in fourth. Although Yui gets scolded by Saori for doing something so dangerous, nevertheless she is glad that the TV is highlighting her for she is the only one to defeat the overall champion. Later Tamahosshi congratulates them and is impressed they are just young girls. Nanako’s uncle picks them up and it seems they did win an award for fighting spirit. Saori can’t help herself to take pictures of them sleeping.

Episode 7
Tonight is the national broadcast of National Cute and Loose Character Field Day. Nanako isn’t really looking forward to it. Because mom bought a sophisticated recorder set. So everyone is nervously waiting for it to air. Nanako is flustering a lot when she debuts. However she is busy responding mails from her friends to watch. I wonder how they can watch and text together. Yui’s family is watching too but when it comes to the crucial part, their power trips. Everybody was leaving their whatever appliances running. As for Yukari, her family has an important event and she has to attend it. Don’t worry, she recorded it but when she replays it, she was so tired that she slept through. So the technically the trio didn’t actually watch it live. Well, they can watch the replay, right? Their national debut has made them little celebrities in school. On a day of another locodol event, Nanako thought Yui is already inside Uogokoro. Suddenly here Yui is. OMG. How on Earth? Her sister? She has no sister. I don’t think this show is going as far about cloning. So once everybody calms down, Yui explains inside Uogokoro is her understudy. Nanako jumps to conclusion that Yui is going to leave her job! Wow. She’s really crying. As really explained, because Uogokoro’s popularity has increased, this means more demand for its appearance. To ease the burden on Yui, another person is hired to play Uogokoro. This is the advantage of a mascot as you can change the player. The newbie is Mirai Nazukari, a fellow student from their school and from the acting club. Ironically a person from the acting club, shy? Although Mirai is nervous on her first job, she does well as she loves to deal with children. With Mirai behind the suit, Yui is free to provide the voiceover for Uogokoro. While Nanako and Yukari man a stall selling Nagarekawa goods, a girl from Tokyo visits them. She came to visit this town because she saw on TV how they promoted their town well. This makes them happy and they couldn’t be happier when she buys a bunch of souvenirs. Looking forward for your continued support.

Episode 8
Mirai is still shy towards Nanako and Yukari. Nanako learns Mirai and Noda went to the same middle school. Noda describes Mirai as a person with good grades and good in singing. She makes guesses that Mirai just joined Nagarekawa Girls. Either a trio or replace Nanako. Just kidding! To get further acquainted with her, Nanako takes Mirai to a karaoke joint. However they’re both too humble in letting the other sing first. Mirai couldn’t really decide and when Nanako starts singing Uogokoro’s theme, their session time is up. During a meeting with Saori for their next event, she notes Mirai’s soft spoken nature and needs to speak louder as she will have to handle movements and voice together the next time. Somehow Nanako is made to guide Mirai and become Uogokoro’s appraiser. Well, she isn’t exactly a good teacher as Mirai has a hard time trying to guess the nuances Nanako is making. On the way back, Nanako considers them as friends and for the first time Mirai is able to call her first name. However the loud speaker overshadowed everything so she didn’t hear a thing. As the training continues, Mirai’s movements of Uogokoro still aren’t there. This has her think she is not cut out to be the mascot. Because in the acting club she doesn’t stand out and just does work behind the stage. She gets an idea to do Uogokoro’s iconic back flip. Unfortunately she sprains her ankle. She gets scolded by Saori for doing it because although it is popular with kids, they are fast to mimic it. Her ankle cannot heal in time so Yui had to do both shifts, in which she is fine with. Mirai observes Yui’s movements. During the break, Mirai notices a kid watching and prevents Yui from taking off the suit. Yui thanks her for not ruining a kid’s dream and it is her attentive and considerate points that make her good person to play Uogokoro. Yui almost collapses from exhaustion. Mirai suggests taking over as she feels her ankle is healed. Mirai goes out and becomes perfect as Uogokoro. So much so that Nanako and Yukari are surprised to find her behind the suit instead of Yui. The biggest question bugging Nanako is if Yui is going to continue as Uogokoro once she graduates? Although she’ll have to retire eventually, she still can keep working while attending training school. She enjoys being with them and don’t intend to quit for now.

Episode 9
Nanako confronts her uncle wanting to clarify if he is doing something illegal! Because she heard from Noda about the ‘conspiracy’ that the locodols are all from the same school. Well, there is no other girls’ school in town. Plus, there is a reason why uncle chose her. Can she handle the truth? Here goes… She lacks feminine appeal and thus a safe bet. Shock? Surprise? Nagarekawa Girls and Uogokoro are in a day-long event that commemorates the train station’s anniversary. Nanako is introduced to Yukari’s grandpa. Does he look familiar? He was the former mayor. Holy cow! Don’t even recognize your own ex-mayor? Because Yukari has been handling the emcee stuffs, Nanako fears that if something happens to her, she’ll have to do it. She’s already shaking just thinking about it. And then suddenly Yukari collapses into her chest. This is not her usual prank. Yukari has fallen ill! This means she must rest and cannot continue her job. Although Yukari throws a tantrum like a kid that she wants to continue, Nanako becomes the strict mom that she can entrust everything to them. And as expected, Nanako fumbles her lines. Less than perfect but nevertheless entertaining for the crowd. Yeah. Saori even notes not even Yukari can replicate that. The next day, Nanako visits Yukari who is more than happy that she came. This has Yukari remember the time she first met her. She was in a mascot job for a shopping complex when she stumbled across a lost girl. In a dilemma since she is on the job, Nanako then comes by and offers to accompany the girl till they find her mother. Eventually it they are reunited and Nanako realized the shop she came for to order clothes for her high school is closed. She might be her usual emotional self but soon picks herself up. Yukari is impressed that she placed the little girl ahead of her own needs. Ironically Yukari was fired from the job. However that didn’t dampen her spirits because thanks to Nanako, she wants to help others too. Soon, her grandpa recommended her to this locodol programme and shortly Nanako was introduced since there are no other ‘suitable’ candidates. Yukari is glad to see her again and after all that they have gone through together, she is happy Nanako has not changed since. So when Nanako believes it is fate that brings them together because if it wasn’t for her, she won’t be a locodol, Yukari agrees. The next day Yukari is all healed and continues her usual tease on gullible Nanako. Isn’t it any wonder why she loves to mess with her?

Episode 10
There will be a locodol festival where all the locodols will gather and this event will be broadcasted on TV. They are excited to meet all kinds of locodols till they learn they only get 1 minute of stage time. Saori is cautious because they have other jobs that might clash with it and put a strain in their schedule. Nanako is being optimistic that after all they’ve been through, they can do this one and since this is a rare event, they have no intention of turning it down in the first place. However Saori has a condition. She wants them to write a song for it. Since they are the stars, they have to sing it instead of Uogokoro. But they aren’t professional song writers… Can’t strain the budget… Oh dear. More stress on Nanako. Start thinking this is a bad idea? But with Yukari able to play the piano and handle the song writing, Yui the choreography and Mirai helping out with the lyrics, it dawned to Nanako that she got screwed to do the lyrics. Pessimism level going up… So they talk this to Nanako’s uncle and when he mentions about royalties and money they can make when they sell a million hits, you interested now Nanako? Of course this is just a ploy and the adults very well know they will never reach a million. This is just to let them have a sense of responsibility and can’t slack off even though this is volunteerism. Even the song they write is just enough for some pocket money. More stress on Nanako when she finds out the others are waiting for her to finish the lyrics so they can do the necessary as they don’t want to impose their own vision. Mirai suggests writing on Nagarekawa Girls instead of the town. When she thinks about all the things they have done, it starts to get easy. Yup. She wrote the lyrics in 10 minutes! Uhm… Quite frank on the activities they did. A thousand yen per hour job? Showing this to her friends, they think she is some kind of masochist. They feel she hasn’t described her feelings. Nanako seeks Yukari’s company (music to her ears – like a date, eh?). They spend time talking so Nanako could have motivation to write the lyrics. Even better news is that Nanako stays for the night. Lyrics are done and Mirai props it up a little. As for practice, they use a clubroom for it but all their friends and teachers are watching with glee. Well, they’re locodols, right? Nanako’s friends are impressed. They’ve never seen her like this and start to believe she is taking this locodol thing seriously and working very hard at it. They show this to Saori who is also impressed. This has Nanako wonder who wrote Uogokoro’s theme. Her uncle. He was once in a rock band in his youth. His dream might have been shattered but not Nanako’s. Nanako has a request. She wants to perform this song for the Nagarekawa citizens first. Although not a big crowd show up, the girls still give their best.

Episode 11
Nagarekawa Girls will be running a tight schedule since they are going to participate in both the town’s summer festival as well as the locodol festival. There goes Nanako’s hopes of going sightseeing. On the train to Nagoya, Saori discusses with them about the locodol festival whereby audiences vote for their locodols and although no cash prize awaits, the winner earns some fame (read: more regular national TV screen time). Last year’s winner was Awa Awa Girls. Thanks to them, this year’s number of candidates quadrupled but thanks to Saori’s connections, she managed to squeeze them in. They check out the booth they’ll be manning and it seems they are right next to Awa Awa Girls. Glass Cute (all wearing glasses?), the idols who are selling across them introduce themselves. As the festival begins, it seems Awa Awa Girls and Glass Cute’s booths have a long queue since they are selling their locodol’s merchandise. Poor thing Nagarekawa Girls don’t have their own. Saori’s face hints that insufficient budget thingy. Damn, it’s a sin to be poor. Nanako feels down because the other booths are drawing the crowd and even if theirs did, it is mainly because of Uogokoro pulling them in. Yukari brings Nanako to the stage where the locodols will perform tomorrow. They meet Awa Awa Girls. As usual, Nanako stammers and asks weird questions although Awa Awa Girls are equally surprised to learn they work like public servants and are paid hourly. Each locodol is given some time on stage to promote their booth. Nanako is a natural in promoting their croquette specialty (at least she didn’t stammer her name this time). Thanks to her convincing display, their booth is streaming with customers who want to get a taste of it. Mirai even helps out by using her voice to bring in the customers. At the end of the day, their booth is a sell-out. Of course the rest too sold out their stuffs. Awa Awa Girls who have been observing Nagarekawa Girls in action all day feels something. Despite their booth doing well, it was their merchandise that was sold out instead of local specialties. They feel they got their priorities wrong. Learnt something? The girls return to their hotel room for a much deserved rest for tomorrow’s locodol performance. Nanako is nervous that she can’t sleep so Yukari cheekily suggests sleeping with her. Shockingly, Nanako takes up her offer and falls asleep like a baby. Now Yukari can’t sleep! Is this a dream?

Episode 12
Nanako is relishing the good food after all the hard practice. However it is back to worrying when she realizes they still have to do the closing act. Yeah, luck has it they are the last one. Even more nervous when Noda and co are here to support her. Of course they praise their great routine and everything. Not only Nanako is nervous but Saori too? Seems they’ll be running on a tight schedule and she is predicting and preparing for the worst case scenario. To ease Nanako’s nerves, Yukari hugs her and says she doesn’t have to worry about the closing act or being the best. Let’s just give our best. Of course Yukari is also nervous so does 2 nervous girls make a calm one? Awa Awa Girls want to go greet Nagarekawa Girls before their act but they overhear something from Saori. When Yukari and Nanako return, Saori has bad news and good news. Which do you want to hear first? The bad news is that with their tight schedule, they won’t make it back for their summer festival. They have to go back now or forfeit this one. But since they are adamant in performing both, this is just a little test Nanako’s uncle put them up. He wanted to hear their feelings on this and since they made it clear, he tells them to go ahead with their performance and he will do something about the summer festival. Now for the good news: Nagarekawa Girls have new outfits! Saori made them herself. Nothing to do with the budget whatsoever. It is her gift for all their hard work. When Nagarekawa Girls take to the stage, they thank their fans for their support and start singing the full length of their theme song. The winner of this festival is announced: Awa Awa Girls! Why am I not surprised? Before they start anything, they tell Nagarekawa Girls to leave first. Not because they lost, they understand they have a summer festival going on so it would be a shame for them to let them stay on. Besides, isn’t this what a locodol should be doing? Everyone gives their approval for them to leave. Awa Awa Girls hope they could do more local events. So literally the girls really rush back. It’s one tiring affair. It is late at night by the time they reach home. The local sweets store uncle picks them up and it seems the festival is not over yet. They’re waiting for them because the festival won’t be over without them. But who was entertaining them all the while? Nanako’s uncle in his Elvis getup? I can see why they really want Nagarekawa Girls. Haha! As they sing on stage, Saori and Nanako’s uncle discuss the most important talent that these locodols have: The ability to be loved.

Episode 13
It is the summer holidays and Nanako is surprised to find Yukari in her house. Mother let her in to take care of her while she is away at work. They hang out by the river and see Yui and Mirai doing some water training for their feet. Uogokoro’s suit is being sent for maintenance. Nanako gets a call from Awa Awa Girls. They are in the midst of their national tour so they thought it would be nice to drop by and see Nagarekawa Girls’ hometown. Nanako tries to give a tour of the place but she fails badly. I mean, lots of greeneries, lots of water and big huge sky… So vague… They are taken to Yodel Hall and the tonkatsu shop loved by locals. Are you trying to fatten them up? How are you going to burn all that fat away? Now that they want to go to an amusement park, Yukari knows the perfect place for the summer. But isn’t this the public pool? Yeah, the amusement spot for locals. Saori heard they were coming and prepared swimsuits for them, including Awa Awa Girls. But the swimsuits feel more like cosplay. Is Saori into cosplay? She won’t say. Can’t say… I’m not sure about this ball game contest they’re playing. They have to mention the best features of their town while keeping the ball in the air. Awa Awa Girls could keep on going until Saori had to stop them and change the topic of best features of their group. Again the same thing and more so, it is giving moral damage to our Nagarekawa Girls. But they won’t give up and take the challenge. But how come the best features of their group are all Nanako’s embarrassing things?! It ends when the children come to join them. Nagarekawa Girls see them off at the train station. Several old couples spot them and Awa Awa Girls thought their identity has been busted. But the old people are here to thank Nagarekawa Girls for their splendid performance during the summer festival. This has Awa Awa Girls think of the need to do local events next time. Back at the city hall, Uogokoro’s suit is cleaned and returned. The girls thank the guy and he feels great of helping Saori put up some of her announcement posters at his workplace. Because Nanako surprises us all of wanting to do more locodol jobs, Saori already has the next plan in motion. A concert tour accompanying the Nagarekawa product exhibition. It’s only a day trip so they don’t have to worry about the budget. Not another tight schedule. Hey, they asked for it, right? Nanako realizes that there are lots of people supporting them than she imagined. That’s why she wants to do anything she can in return for them. But she seems to have forgotten something. Her homework! Yukari stays positive because they have some time before the opening ceremony. Hurry!

They Really Tried Being Entertaining And Funny
Oh… And so it is like that. Unfortunately for me, despite this series feeling just more like those ubiquitous cute girls doing cute things. I know what Nagarekawa Girls are doing are for the benefit of their little community but since I am not from there, I don’t really find the stuffs they are doing to be attractive enough and thus this series is a little bore to me. Therefore it is safe to say that I won’t be a fan of them any time. Haha. Seriously. I know that there is supposed to be some sort of appeal when you use cute girls to promote events and stuffs but sadly this one just didn’t get through my heart. So that is why perhaps it is best for them to just stay being locodols to cater for their locals because only they know what the locals want and love. If they’re lucky, they’ll get a few outsiders to come visit the town. And like you have guessed it, no, I won’t be visiting the town either. Not because they suck in promoting it but rather I’m not the kind of a travelling person.

Therefore the characters feel a little bland and unexciting despite I believe they try to give them some personalities (maybe it is because of the idea that they are locodols, there is a need to be flashy and showy?). Because I feel that this series is mainly funny (if you can call it that) is because of Nanako’s accidental antics. From her pessimism to her stuttering, I guess to some they may find it funny. Indeed it was but after a while, it gets a bit old. So much so that you would just automatically laugh whenever she does this. It is like as though it is ingrained into us after a while. Or maybe you would just stop laughing altogether and note, “Oh boy, there she goes again…”. It’s only cute if you are really a fan of her…

Therefore, Nanako I suppose is the most amusing and funniest girl. Too call her naturally funny would be misleading either. Firstly, she is a bundle of nerves and no doubt that she is new to this locodol business, when she learns the reality of things, she cannot help to start worry and fret over it. She panics easily and jumps to conclusions. That’s why she looks funny in this state, no? Because of this, you can say that she is the most level headed among the girls in the group. This means she is practical, right? But her mood pace swings so much and she can be feeling ecstatic in one second and then suddenly plunging into anxiety over the next. She is going to lose a lot of hair by the time she becomes an adult. Then there is this running joke of how she usually stammers her name on stage thanks to her nervousness. I guess we will forever know her as Nanyako. Nyan~.

Yukari is a complete opposite of Nanako as she is calmer and level headed although at times can be clumsy. There are hints that Yukari is yuri and Nanako may just be her type, the way she fawns over her and knows a lot about her. The anime mostly revolves around the interaction between them and of course with the other characters and town people. We see them gradually learn about themselves and despite each have their own strengths and weaknesses, they stand strong and move forward because they complement each other. That is why they are a unit. Also not forgetting Yui who may be small in size but big and strong in character and determination. There is also the very shy Mirai who isn’t as bad as an unsociable person as she started out but still she is too quiet that I feel she doesn’t really make an overall impact.

But even if I don’t feel much in the character development area, at least there is something different about these girls that makes them different than other idol themed series. They are not based on stereotypical views on how Japanese idols are. You know all those cutesy and flashy act they put on stage and when they meet fans all that sort? Doesn’t it just feel so fake and artificial? Yeah well, it goes to show you here that the local girls are being themselves and that is probably why they click so well with the townspeople. They aren’t doing it for the money or fame but just for the love of their town. No doubt that Nanako is still being practical about the wage they get for the jobs, but at least she isn’t thinking about million dollar contracts and expensive appearance fees. This would lead to inflated ego and when you get money in the way of your thinking, there is a high chance you won’t be putting genuine love in your job.

Then there are no b*tchy rivalries you see in reality TV or in-fighting among themselves like you see today. Even among the locodols, they are friendly with each other (not just because they are on TV whatsoever). Therefore in this segment of not stereotyping the locodols as mini divas, I guess this is where this show stands out. Sometimes being plain without all the flashy distraction wins. Not to say that idol shows like Love Live, AKB0048, The Idolmaster and even that gloomy harsh reality of Wake Up, Girls! are stereotypes of such idols (in a way they are), but there are too many flashy elements that it makes you think that there is such a high level of aptitude to such high level performances. It all boils down to how much you want to entertain your fans.

There is no doubt that Saori is a big secret admirer of Nagarekawa Girls but over time I noticed that her ‘stalking’ tendencies tone down as she handles the girls more responsibly. Because I used to notice how she never misses a chance to snap pictures of the girls at every moment. Her finger is so fast snapping away that she could beat the texting king. She seems to have mysterious connections to just about anything to get things ready but at the pace of where this anime is going, I don’t think we will be concerning ourselves with it. And then there is Nanako’s uncle who is trying to revive the town but keeping it within a budget. It is sometimes hard being a civil servant.

Art and drawing style feels simple and nothing special although the characters lean towards this cute and simple looks. If you’re going to do a locodol show with cute girls on stage, might as well make them look cute. The uniform of the locodols also feel pretty decent and nothing really extravagant like you would expect to see famous idols wear. Practicality is the key here. Because like Nagarekawa Girls’ plain white t-shirt uniform, it might look boring but for the kind of outdoor work they do, it is very much practical. Feel is the studio that produced this anime and they have produced a handful of animes with cute character designs like Da Capo (first and second season), Kanamemo, Jinsei, KissxSis, Papa No Iukoto Wa Kikinasai, Nagasarete Airantou, Minami-ke (third and fourth season), Outbreak Company and Fortune Arterial.

Uogokoro’s design may feel uninspiring and nothing really special but what is most important is the love and important lessons he brings. And since the mascot is a hit with the kids, I guess it doesn’t really matter. Besides, it does look cartoonish enough to get kids to happily crowd around it. If you can’t get enough of Uogokoro’s limited appearance, be happy to know that the next episode preview just shows Uogokoro walking and sometimes rolling while doing his trademark back flips. Although this is very much a repeated, recycle and repetitive scene.

Voice acting feels rather okay. No big names for this one. Miku Itou voices Nanako (Sahono in Mangaka-san To Assistant-san To) while Sachika Misawa helms Yukari (Minami in Tokyo ESP). The rest of the other casts include Naya Yoshioka as Yui (Taeko in Girls Und Panzer), Inori Minase as Mirai (Suzu in Love Lab), Asami Shimoda as Saori (Rin in Infinite Stratos) and Shiori Izawa as Noda (Tanpopo in Witch Craft Works). The opening and ending themes are sung by Nagarekawa Girls (but of course). Mirai Fanfare is the opener while Mirai Shoujotachi serves as the ending (when Yui and Mirai officially join the group, their voices will be added to the song). Personally, both these anime rock pop just sounds okay to me. Oddly I prefer much Nagarekawa Girls theme song despite sounding like a generic lively anime pop for girls group. Uogokoro’s theme song isn’t that bad either. There are other songs from this series too but I don’t find them appealing (like Nagarekawa’s local theme song because it felt like some national anthem with local flavour).

With locodols having such a big fan base themselves, why are they not reaching international stardom yet? Have not any talent scouts find them yet? Even though Awa Awa Girls are more famous, I am guessing they haven’t reached an international level yet and are just more famous in more provinces judging by the fact that they lament they should have done more activities for their own town. More mind boggling, do the fans actually prefer to choose them over more famous idol units? Okay, everyone has got more than one favourite idols so it is not fair to label them as locodol lovers. Maybe on another time, they would follow bigger ones but at a local level, they follow locodols. Of course as hinted in the series that it isn’t the fact that they want to limit themselves being locodols, if they start doing those international or national level idol stuffs, it would defeat the meaning of them being locodols. Entertaining the local principality is the most important job and meaning for locodols, right? Therefore sometimes I feel that they might be caught in between of wanting to reach greater heights but also to give back to their local community. I know they can always move on and let newer ones take place but in the event if they don’t, does it mean that they will forever be stuck as being a ‘village champion’?

Overall, even though I consider my stint in watching this series to be a bore, it isn’t entirely a bad show. It’s just a simple show with nothing complicated (no villain of the series too). As goodwill for what I said, if there is another season, I would still watch it (maybe to catch Nanako’s cute stuttering). If you are tired with all those flashy idol stuffs, this series is a good ‘detoxification’ to perhaps change your expectations on your favourite idols. Because idols just like all of us are still humans. Perhaps it is our fault for expecting a lot from them and thus the pushing of limits to bring ultimate entertainment. If that is what you can call these days. So sometimes the thing is you don’t have to have super big dreams to make it. Being a local idol may sound like a small dream but hey, when you give it your all and the local people love you, that itself is already achieving the biggest dream ever. I mean, how big to you want to get? And if so, can you handle it? So if you want to believe in the power of idols, this one is one where you can truly believe in and pour in your support. What will idols be without their fans anyway?

It feels like a long time ever since Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream came out (back in 2011, that is) and I remember putting it on my watch list. However it wasn’t the case like Gintama or Haiyore! Nyaruko-san that made me delay watching it with the excuse of saving the best for last. Let’s just say a certain fansub group took their time in subbing it. And I was patient enough to wait till every episode was done before finally having a go at it. And boy do they really take their time. And now that time has come.

So what is it about this show that attracted me? Gee, it’s so old so I can’t really remember. Just kidding. Probably it was the cute girls. I thought at that time it was pretty cool for a new type of entertainment taking storm (at least in this anime). It is a performance combining ice skating, singing and fashion show all into one. Yeah. How do you like your idols prancing around in the rink doing all those stuffs and winning our hearts? I don’t know. I thought such concept was pretty interesting and cool at that time. What was I thinking? Anyway, with 51 episodes under its belt and lots of characters (don’t worry, it won’t exceed 3 digits), as usual my laziness made me constantly refer to Wikipedia for a great source of episodes and characters. And the rest below are what I think are important and memorable.

Prism Show – Currently the ‘ultimate’ entertainment show of all entertainment shows because it combines fashion, dancing, music and figure skating. Yeah. All rolled into one. Girls skate around the ring and pulling off exaggerated jump moves with effects that are so unbelievably real that it makes those exaggerated reactions in food themed animes when people taste some super food so, erm, exaggerated.

Aira Haruna – The clumsy and klutzy daughter of a baker. Believe it. She will be the next new Prism Star.

When opportunity comes knocking – Mion Takamine was supposed to be a super Prism Star. Because she didn’t turn up for an important Prism Show event, Aira happened to be at the right time and the right place and was scouted for her talent to replace her.

Rhythm Amamiya – Just like Aira, right time, right place. Okay, she bumped into her. Aira’s partner in future Prism Shows.

Prism Stones – Dresses embedded in cute little heart shaped stones that allow girls to magically don the dress for the Prism Show in a Pretty Remake.

Callings – A super boy idol group consisting of Shou, Hibiki and Wataru. Hot guys, popular guys. Enough said. Provides lots of great support for our girls. I smell romantic pairings along the way…

Pretty Top – An agency for the Prism Show with Kyouko Asechi as the president. This is where Aira and Rhythm will continue to house their skills.

Jun Takigawa – Asechi’s assistant and seems to know just about everything. If not for his way of talking in riddles and poems that leaves others baffled at times, he would have been a great guy.

Megane Akai – The coordinator and fashion designer. You go to her if you need tips on your fashion sense. Though, I am not sure if they go into some alternate dimension when picking out their clothes.

Pengin – A green stuffed penguin doll as Pretty Top’s principal? I don’t know, he sounds so gay. Especially with his macho hairy Yamao Yamada, I thought they just came out fresh from the circus. Oh, he looks so gay…

Pair Cheer Mascots – Little stuffed animals that support Aira and Rhythm. Aira gets Rabbit while Rhythm gets Bear. If you ask me, they’re supposed to be like the comic relief of the series and provide some mascot cuteness. Oddly, they have pom-poms for hands. It’s like it is forever glued to their hands. And they always end their sentences with “~jiya…” which I find sometimes makes them so gay…

Aurora Rising – The legendary Prism Jump performed by the legendary Prism Star, Sonata Kanzaki who went missing shortly after. This is a jump Rhythm is trying to do because Sonata is her mom! She believes her mom will return if she manages to pull this off.

Prism Friends – In addition to the anime segment, there is a real live action segment whereby 3 young budding girls, Reina, Mia and Karin with the guidance of Prism Navigator, Akkina guide the trio to become great idols from learning to dance as well as fashion sense. Each week you’ll see the girls learn and practice something new as they hone their skills and level up to become Prism Queen. The Pair Cheer Mascots also make their appearance but I feel their movements are stiff and robotic. Serious. Also, personally I feel Karin is the more natural one in front of the camera and Mia is just a little stiff. Please don’t take it too personally, girls. Ganbatte!

The bump – After Aira’s first jump attempt which somewhat ended successfully although her clumsiness is still obvious, she crashes into Shou. Close enough for him to peck her on her forehead!

Best rivals, best friends – Rhythm is somewhat upset that she could pull off a Prism Jump during her debut (because Aira is a klutz) and challenges her to a dance competition. Aira becomes nervous and couldn’t jump, but thanks to Aira’s great fashion advice, Rhythm heard her clothes sing and manages to pull off a Prism Jump. Now they become best friends.

Learning the basics – What does working part time serving in a restaurant, turning only left and practising stand up comedies got to do with becoming a great Prism Star for Aira? Because it helps with the balancing and spin, etc. Except maybe the stand up comedy was just Rabbit’s fetish…

Papa doesn’t approve – Aira’s baker father does not approve his daughter to become a Prism Star and would rather have her take over the family bakery business. I wonder how many more excuses she can give to her father because she’s getting more and more famous by the week. Of course he is mad to learn about it. It is understandable that daddy wants to protect her after her clumsiness almost got fatal (though it was very much exaggerated in panicky papa’s mind). This causes a little strain in their relationship. Although he attends a Prism Show just to see her, he doesn’t look very impressed. That sour face all the way… It is not till Aira gives her heartfelt thanks for his support that he changed his mind and accepted her.

It’s a small world – Well, Rhythm’s father, Ryuu and Aira’s mom, Omi knew each other before since they once worked in the Prism Show together. Back when Aira’s mom was much slimmer and a stylist and Rhythm’s dad was a famous idol.

First fight – Aira and Rhythm’s friendship is put to the test when they have their first fight. All because Aira praises Mion, somebody that Rhythm absolutely despises. This makes guilty Aira to quit while Rhythm has to man Prism Show all by herself. Since she is not doing well and Aira can’t bear to watch her so, she gives her new Prism Stones and manages to do a Prism Jump. Back together again, they aren’t just best friends, but best rivals too.

It’s not just about the dance and jump – Academic achievement is important too. Rhythm fails her test and is given the ultimatum that she needs to score at least 70 marks on her remedial test or she will be forced to retire. I’m not sure if they’re learning the right things because nobody can seem to understand Jun’s poetic lines in all subjects and Pengin is just ranting about penguins in science. Eventually Rhythm aces her test and even gets to join Aira in a Prism Show. Then they realize she didn’t score 91 but 16 marks!!! Oh, don’t tell…

Tiara Cup – The first competition that our duo will be entering. Rhythm goes as far as to cut off ties with Aira just to concentrate on her practice. She practises with Hibiki and learns there is more to winning Prism Shows. It is about having fun and making the audience have a good time. At the first round of the competition, Aira and Rhythm qualify for the next round. However Rhythm starts to have fever because last night she was so excited about the competition that she drank 10 energy drinks to practice more. She is forced to rest and Asechi even wants her to skip it. So on Aira’s turn, she goes out and wastes some time skating around just to buy more time for Rhythm to wake up and do her stint. Aira would have been disqualified under normal regulations but the judges decided to show some leniency and just subtract some points (I hope this doesn’t set a bad precedent). Aira and Rhythm are tied in first place and advance to the final round. However some jealous b*tches sabotage the girls by stealing their Prism Stones. Aira had some in her pocket and gives to Rhythm, lying she had extra sets. Rhythm tops in first place. Now that it is Aira’s turn, she heads out in her ordinary clothes. In this WTF moment, those b*tches start taunting her ordinary clothes and even throw their Prism Stones (disrespect!) at her. I mean, doesn’t it make them obvious that they’re the baddies? Aira picks up those stones and has a Pretty Remake with them. Her performance is so good that she wins the competition! In your face, those b*tches! Somebody should ban them forever. Their parade is cut short when Mion makes a surprise appearance and wows the crowd with her dance.

Blast to the past – Bear gets a glimpse of Andy, Rhythm’s teddy bear that was made by Sonata. Back then, Asechi and Sonata were fierce rivals. When Ryuu and Sonata got married and had Rhythm, they are forced to keep this family a secret (it boggles me that the media wasn’t so pushy or hounding such a famous star. Or become like a stalker paparazzi). But defeating Asechi was all that Sonata could think about. So much so she underwent an intensive and gruelling training under the strict guidance of Kei (she looks like a witch). Ryuu was against it but she was adamant. The day came when the duo enter a showdown. Asechi failed to perform Aurora Rising but Sonata was successful. She collapsed after that and almost became a vegetable. She realized she made so many sacrifices and abandoned her family. Unable to forgive herself, she left the family shortly and her whereabouts are still unknown till today.

Mion Takamine – After missing in action for who knows how long and making little cocky cameo appearances, the famous Prism Star is back and it’s not pleasant. Because she’s a real b*tch! Even her Pair Cheer Mascot, Neko is such a b*tch. They do not think twice about looking down on others while thinking very highly of themselves. While Aira adores her, Rhythm loathes her. Mion makes her return with a dazzling double performance with the duo. She is good in captivating the crowd but we all wished if she was just a nicer person…

Batopoms – A dance accessory which is a mix between a baton and pom-poms that our girls will be frequently using in their Prism Shows.

Mion the teacher – I guess she deserves it being cocky. I mean, she claims she is the best, right? So what better way than to help the amateurs in improving their singing and understanding the lyrics. She even rope in Callings to help as special tutors. Why does the special training look like a date?

Even best friends fight – Can you imagine this? Mion and Neko have their first quarrel? Because the latter is concerned with Mion pushing herself too much and she is not getting her moves right at all. What’s more, the show is around the corner. But what is irritating Mion most is that her busy father couldn’t come watch her perform. Again. Before the show, Aira and Rhythm give her their wrist watch as lucky charm. The performance is a success and she gives them back their watches with new stickers on it. Oh, she and Neko are back being pals again.

Patisserie – Prism Stars must also be good a baking cakes! Okay, so I made that up but our Prism Star trio have to help out in Aira’s parents’ bakery when customers stream in nonstop thanks to Callings advertising on it. The girls learn about keeping an eye out for others for timing. Mion is so good that Aira’s dad wants her to continue working as part time!

Take a break – Despite it is summer, the girls continue to practice hard. You know what they say about all work and no play. For Aira, the fatigue is causing her to make mistakes so Callings suggest taking a break to go to the fireworks festival. You might have guessed the couple pairings by now: Aira x Shou, Rhythm x Hibiki and Mion x Wataru. Aira thought Shou was going to kiss her when he has her eyes closed. It’s just a Prism Stone containing some yukata design.

Double Date – A summer tournament, Summer Queen Cup is coming up and Asechi is not sure who to pair up with Mion for it. Therefore Mion suggests going on a date with them to gauge who will be her suitable partner. Aira is being a happy ditz while Rhythm tries to impress her with her moves. She even asks them if they want to be her partner. Aira doesn’t mind letting Rhythm have the part while Rhythm will do anything it takes for it. In the end, Mion chooses Aira to be her partner. This leaves Rhythm devastated because her dream of performing Aurora Rising is dashed (the prize of winning this tournament is a rare Pure White Wedding Dress Stone). Rhythm continues to practice hard herself but this only frustrates her even further.

I choose yous! – Right before the tournament, Mion forfeits her place and gives it to Rhythm. This means Aira and Rhythm will be performing together in the Summer Queen Cup! Hooray! Why the change of heart? Well, she views this as the best combination because Aira and Rhythm are better when they work together unlike Mion who shines when she is alone.

Serena and Kanon AKA Serenon – The main rivals our duo will be facing at the tournament. And why do such rivals have to be so arrogant and b*tchy even though they are so damn good? Yeah, they even get on Mion’s nerves. At least it fired them up to beat them. You can’t lose to those b*tches!

Summer Queen Cup finals – Aira and Rhythm draw first blood when they get first place ahead of Serenon in the first round. But the b*tchy rivals aren’t fazed and even continues to mock them. The trio thought the win is in their bag when they spot the rival duo arguing at the backstage and that nobody can beat their friendship and cooperation. In the second round, Aira and Rhythm do well to maintain their top position. Till the final contestants of Serenon put on a sterling show stealing performance to take first place and become overall champions.

Cry your heart out – Our trio start reflecting on their shortcomings. Blaming themselves. I’m sorry this, I’m sorry that. No it’s not your fault, it’s mine… It is heart wrenching to see them cry like that but even more surprising Mion cries with them and shares the pain. I didn’t know they got this close but it’s much better when they are at each other’s throats. A beginning of a new friendship?

What a coincidence – Guess what? Aira and Rhythm’s birthday are on the same day! Furthermore, that date is believed when the Skater Constellation was visible. There is that legend saying those born under that star will be blessed by it and perform the Aurora Rising. Just like how Sonata did. Mion might not share the same birthday but she was also born under that constellation in the southern hemisphere (she was born in Buenos Aires). How lucky can you get to have 3 girls under the same legendary constellation?

MARs – In addition to Mion organizing a secret birthday surprise for the birthday girls with a performance from Callings writing a new song for them, today also marks the birth of a new idol group called MARs. Just take the initials of their first name of the trio and you have got yourself a new singing and dancing Prism Star group.

Game show debut – MARs make their TV debut. But not with comical bloopers with Aira causing the rest of the girls to trip, Aira’s father trying to interrupt the entire show (what’s with the panda outfit?), the Pair Cheer Mascots trying to get some screen time so our girls have to pass it off as some puppet show and a game show variety competition against the Serena and Kanon pair to see which side gets to do a Prism Show. To even the odds, Hibiki teams up with Serenon. This doesn’t sit well with Rhythm as Kanon tries to get close with Hibiki. In the end, MARs win and get to do the show.

The heat is on – What do you know? Even during a field trip to Kyoto, Serena and Kanon are there too. Is there some sort of conspiracy to piss off MARs? Anyway Kanon continues to be too close to Hibiki that it just makes Rhythm jealous. Even more depressing is when Hibiki agrees to go out on a date with Kanon. He said that in front of all those fan girls? Because Serenon have a Prism Show in Kyoto, they invite MARs to watch but also have them perform or they will have to pay for their ‘free’ ticket. In order to embarrass them, MARs are made to do a stand-up comedy. Aira and Rhythm suck which causes Mion to blow her top. But the audience think it is part of the joke and loves them. Because of that, they overshadow Serenon and the former forcefully takes the latter away to brush up on their comedian skills, ending Kanon’s dream of having a date with Hibiki. Don’t worry, MARs will take your place. A big relief for Kanon: Hibiki is Kanon’s brother. Phew.

The big try – Mion learns Sonata is Rhythm’s mom and the reason why she is so bent on performing Aurora Rising. Mion throws her the ultimatum to drop that idea because those who tried have failed. If she can’t, drop out from MARs. That night after a performance, Mion is going to prove she can do it. She refuses Aira’s Tiara Cup dress because she wants to do it on her own. Her jump could have ended in tragedy if not for Jun leaping in to save her. After being lectured by Asechi, Rhythm apologizes to her friends about her selfishness. But she still wants to master that jump. Mion gives her a condition that till she masters this jump, she must not attempt it and she cannot practice it in secret either.

Cheer bracelets – Cute wrist bracelets from Aira for her friends as their proof of friendship.

Meme sensei – Despite our Prism Friends making steady progress. They can’t make their debut yet as they lack the basics of singing! Oh the horror! But do not fear. Meme sensei is here to guide them on different techniques to improve their vocals, harmonization, pitch, etc. Ganbatte ne!

The singles curse – Thanks to some big stinking gyoza MARs made for Asechi as their big thanks (couldn’t they have just given chocolates instead?), she is forced to finish them and when she attends some marriage interview, the prospective guy just couldn’t take it (this fatty wasn’t good looking in the first place). Everybody keeps their distance from this stinking stench. And Jun couldn’t be much happier…

Survivor – From Prism Stars to reality TV stars. Yup, MARS along with Serenon. Can they survive the deserted island and also find a heart dolphin to do a Prism Show at the end? Well, let’s say MARs found it and even got enough time to help the lost dolphin back to its pack. And yeah, their performance even attracted the dolphin herd who danced along with them.

Grumpy old man – When you’re rising idols, you sure do lots of weird stuffs. This time MARs need to interview an old grumpy man in Akihabara that serves authentic Indian curry. You guessed it. He is grumpy. No customers. Not willing to change. Of course MARs put up their usual performance and he instantly changed. Now his store is buzzing with otaku guys who are here for his curry till it is a sell-out. Though, I would love to think it is the maid outfits that changed everything ;p. I mean, MARs in maid outfit serving you? That is the ultimate win factor, no? Or maybe that old guy just got swayed by Mion’s Honey Kiss during the performance… I’d still want to believe it is the maid factor…

Afraid of the dark – Mion is afraid of ghosts. But who could guess that Shou is afraid of the dark! It’s funny to see him clinging behind Aira…

Prism Stone Designer Contest – Aira just made a new friend, Flare Nanri. She has this knack in designing and takes part in the contest since the winner will have the Prism Stars wearing them during their performance. Since Aira’s fashion sense is great, she is made to choose the winner from the finalists. Note, she has no idea who the designs are from but there is one shiny design that stands out. And that is how Flare won the contest although she designed this ‘vitamin coloured’ dress to cheer Aira up when she is down.

The jokes on you – You know, Serenon make better comedians than Prism Stars, don’t you think? They could have won some comedy grand prix if not for a low score that an old veteran comedian, Shizuko Nakayama gave them. They confront her to watch their act but were made to do chores like cleaning the stage and giving the old folks a tour! Yeah, they do a better job in this department too. And thus it is revealed that she made them do it is to have them interact with each other more often instead of relying on theories. She didn’t want them to make the same mistake like she did 50 years ago with her late apprentice, the reason she never took in another until now. So don’t you see? Serenon make better comedians than Prism Stars? But mixing comedy with Prism Show? WTF?!

Chris Kaname – The tree whisperer… Because trees talk… “I can hear trees talking”… Somewhat knows Aira and tells her about love is hate and hate is love. WTF. Think line between love and hate. Useful enough for Aira to pacify her twin sisters, Uru and Eru who felt neglected as Aira has been spending less time with them due to her busy Prism Show schedules and practices despite today being their birthday. Hey wait a minute. Isn’t that Sonata, Kaname is travelling with?!

Nana Ichijou – Another popular idol. She recently starred in a movie with Shou. There’s this kissing scene that worries Aira. Even more worrying, she saw Nana trying to make Shou hers. Slapping him and telling him not to look at other women. She even warned Aira to stay away. What is he? Her property? As we expect, Aira goes into depression and couldn’t focus. Then rumours of Nana and Shou being steady together surface. There is even a photo of them together. Nana affirms it but Shou is told not to comment. Then Shou brought Nana to watch MARs’ show and tells her that he and Aira’s clothing designs complement each other. Nana can shine brightly on her own. As long as he is in Callings, he is not interested in romance. She left fuming. Shou went to clear the air with Aira that Nana set it all up and even arranged that photo. And the weirdest part, the kissing scene in the movie is actually done by CGI. WTF?! Such a simple inexpensive scene, they use CGI?! Are they worried about getting the wrath of fans?! Oh, Nana moved on and is not seen dating with this Hollywood star, Johnny Dapp. Johnny who?

I know all your moves – Kaname has been strangely getting along well with Aira. Coincidental meetings? So when Aira starts showing her moves, Kaname starts dancing with her and to her surprise and the rest of MARs, how does she know them well? And here is the big revelation of them all. Kaname will be Serenon’s new partner for the upcoming tournament. Holy cow! Aira, did you just show her all your moves? Yeah, cue to feel guilty and sink into depression. And who the heck is this Kaname girl actually? She outlasts practice with Serenon, nobody has ever heard her in the Prism Show world (because she is believed to be from a Russian circus) and now she’s debuting in the next tournament? And yeah… She calls Sonata her mom!

I can’t jump! – Thanks to that depression, Aira can’t even pull off any basic Prism Jumps. But leave it to her friends to cheer her up with the power of Prism friendship, flowery words like MARs isn’t a triangle but an equal circle (I can’t believe this came from Mion who was once a person who doesn’t believe in working together) and you’ll have Aira back in no time.

Pure Crystal High Heel Cup – In this latest competition, teams of 3 have only one chance to strut their stuff and win some rare crystal high heel stone prize. MARs did well but Serenon-Kaname could have done better had not Sonata doing some secret telepathy order to Kaname to pull off Aurora Rising. It failed and this messed up their dance. And so MARs wins! Sweet revenge?

It can’t be! – Asechi finally remembers that all too familiar teddy bear of Rhythm. It belongs to Sonata! Sure, Rhythm admits it but this doesn’t get her anywhere. Especially when she spots Sonata leaving with Kaname, she doesn’t give a damn when Asechi calls her. It’s like she’s invisible or something. It’s like her the end of the world.

On hiatus – Well, this Sonata thing might be affecting Asechi so she’s announcing after their Christmas Eve show, MARs will be on a short hiatus so they can concentrate on their solo performances. After making their audiences happy, now they have to convey their feelings to them? Since when did it get this complicated? Killing the goose that lays the golden egg because MARs is at the top of their popularity after winning the latest tournament. Yeah. So it must be that Sonata’s case…

Ayami – The Prism Friends… After all that practice and hard work and passing their test, they will finally make their debut! Hooray! In addition, they have a new member to make it a quartet, Ayami.

Prizmmy – The group name for the quartet. Hey wait… As in, Please Me?

Prism Queen Cup – The most prestigious tournament and highest honour one can receive as a Prism star. Aren’t all Prism Shows prestigious? To compete, one must obtain outstanding points in the competitions within the Prism Queen series. Thus MARs will be competing individually in different series.

New Year Cup – Starting off with the Prism Queen series, Mion enters this competition only to face the current and reigning Prism Queen for 9 years straight, Karina Togachi. Ever since Asechi retired (for failing to perform Aurora Rising several times), Karina suddenly took over as Prism Queen. And so Karina doesn’t disappoint and does well. Mion is nervous but after being calmed down by Wataru (this guy has got so much free time on his hands to go comfort her?), Mion wins the series. But Karina is glad because now she can retire and leave the Prism Show to the next generation. Mion also leaves for overseas to get more points from foreign competition. Don’t worry, she’ll be back in no time.

My mother – Guess who is Asechi’s mom? Wait for it… Kei!!!!!!!! Why do I have a feeling it would turn out something like this?

The tragic tale behind Aurora Rising – Asechi used to undergo strict training under Kei and was told there were angels on the rink and thus the reason she must shine hard to see them. But after their dad left, they never see eye to eye. Despite Asechi winning competitions and becoming Prism Queen at the tender age of 14, she never felt happy. Empty. Till she met Sonata and despite besting her, she felt she lost in other ways because Sonata never gave up. And so their rivalry began as they push and improve each other. Asechi never wanted to master Aurora Rising and wanted to do a jump that will surpass it. Kei didn’t think it was possible and that she won’t even master Aurora Rising. Asechi will prove it to her. Sonata then trained with Kei and returned from her hiatus to perform Aurora Rising. Although she pulled it off, she felt it was incomplete and that’s when she left her family and went missing. Asechi tried to perform it in hopes she would return but she never and retired. So now Asechi is blaming herself that Sonata’s family broke up because of her (not to mention no angels either) and since she saw Sonata back in Japan recently, she’s putting all her hopes on Aira. Do it for Rhythm. Do it for Sonata. No. Do it for her! It’s so tear jerking that even Jun cries… So dramatic…

Pure Premium Wedding Cup – The next competition in the series that Aira participates. Needless to say she wins it and got the pure premium wedding dress. I wonder if her dad is going bonkers over the thought that her daughter will get married to someone. Oh, he did. Let her go already!

Winter Snow Cup – Rhythm’s solo participation. But Kaname is also participating. As she goes first, our heroines are stunned that she starts off with Sonata’s dance moves and then perfectly imitates Aira’s moves. Meanwhile Ryuu is here to watch his daughter’s performance when he realizes Sonata is just next to him! Holy cows! Is that you? When it is Rhythm’s turn, she was warned by Jun not to attempt Aurora Rising or else she will lose everything. During her jump, she sees her mom and loses balance on her landing. Although she recovered, this ruined her overall performance and she scored enough for second place. Kaname wins the cup. Rhythm rushes to go see her mom but even more she doesn’t know who she is! Even more heartbreaking when Kaname calls Sonata her mom and they leave happily together. As Rhythm is determined to master Aurora Rising to learn what happened, she goes off to train under Kei. She takes off her cheer bracelet as first step for total change.

A friend in need is a friend indeed – After winning successive Prism competitions worldwide, Mion returns and learns of Rhythm’s predicament. As Rhythm needs to have a wedding dress to further master Aurora Rising, Mion goes to Serenon and even gets down on her knees to request for that rare stone in exchange for anything. She’ll do anything they want. Anything? Yeah… Serena couldn’t care much about the stone but Mion doing anything? Don’t pass up this chance.

Dance till you drop – Mion and Serena are to engage in a personal dancing competition to see who can dance the longest. The last one standing wins. Both are equally good and have lots of endurance but you know, Mion eventually wins it by a whisker. But the stone is not with her and she gave it to Kanon to give it to Rhythm…

Aquarium Cup – Rhythm and Kanon will be participating in this one. Kanon is willing to give her the rare stone if she wins. However if she loses, she must stay away from Hibiki forever! Yeah. She doesn’t care about the stone. Her big brother is more precious than anything. And of course, Rhythm bests her score by a whisker. Rhythm gets the stone and the best part is now they fight over Hibiki’s attention. How does it feel like to be the guy caught in between?

Seeking your parents’ approval – You do that when you ask for somebody’s daughter’s hand in marriage, right? But do you do that too when you want somebody’s daughter to perform Aurora Rising? That’s why Asechi sees Aira’s parents. Her mom is vehemently against it because it’s freaking dangerous. Daddy is cooler. He asks if Aira wants to do it (of course) and he gives his blessing and they should do all they can to support her. Then this last line of it kills everything: He doesn’t know what the heck is Aurora Rising. Mommy is going to blow her top…

The hug – Aira tells Shou about her decision to perform Aurora Rising and of course he is against it. He then hugs her for her is worried she will lose her memories. He gives her a Wedding Teardrop bracelet as a protective charm.

The secret rendezvous – We all know how protective Kanon is for her brother. So when Rhythm gives him a letter, she didn’t bat an eyelid to open and read it! WTF?! Seems Rhythm wants to meet him on Valentine’s Day at their secret place. Kanon will not allow him to do that! Since when is Hibiki her property? And so she waits (Serena must be turning into a snow woman at this rate) but it seems Kei is the one that Rhythm meets. She tells her off about her resolve (since she ditched practice like that) and had no ounce of determination unlike her mother who tossed away everything. Unless she is prepared for total change, don’t ever come back. By the time late running Hibiki turns up, Rhythm is in tears and says her goodbye. They can’t see each other again. Say what? What kind of Valentine’s Day gift is this? I know Kanon should be happy but why isn’t she?

Don’t cry for me Argentina – Mion has been participating in international Prism Shows just to find that single jump that surpasses Aurora Rising. That unique jump she can call her own. Since she is stuck in rediscovering herself, Jun takes her back to Buenos Aires where she reunites with her parents and then a hiking up the mountains to some legendary ice rink. Such a sophisticated rink in the middle of nowhere?! Don’t tell me they hike up the Andes too. Oh, Serena flew all the way here just to settle their score. And lost. New style, new jump, new self confidence and more than qualified for the Prism Queen Cup.

My mother 2 – Guess what? Jun also calls Kei his mom!!!!!!!!!!!!! This means… Jun and Asechi are siblings????!!!!!!! What freaking revelation is this?????!!!!!!

Edgy – Rhythm has been practising so hard and failing so hard that she has become a zombie. She’s so filled with anger, very rebellious with her dad, to a point blaming Aira for winning a recent Prism cup that gave her some pure tiara. Oh yeah. She even accuses her for coming over to spy on her training instead of being worried about her wellbeing. Well, there is only one way out of this.

Aira vs Rhythm – Eventually it has to be some sort of Prism showdown. While Aira is making big improvements and sprouting fairy wings, Rhythm on the other hand we know is going to fail because of her disturbed heart. Yeah. She is sprouting devil wings and being dragged to hell. The only way is for Aira to find the true Rhythm. The one that doesn’t hate her. Yeah, Aira has got angel wings to do that! Aira manages to do so but finds her a scared little girl. It’s like Aira is giving spoilers about her future, meeting great people, performing together in Prism Shows, falling in love. She starts naming all the friends they meet. Till she mentions Kaname’s name then all hell breaks loose. Rhythm is about to resign to her fate of giving up and eternal farewell. Suddenly here comes Mion with angel wings to bring Rhythm back to earth.

Cry your heart out – Now that Rhythm is back, it’s time for some tear-jerking confession from her about how lonely she was, how lonely she was. All she cared was about her disappeared mother and not Prism Show or Aurora Rising. She’s glad to have met friends like Aira and Mion.

There is nothing left to teach – Master Kei leaves it to Kei to deal with the rest. And looks like he is looking forward to it. Like as though everything has gone according just as planned…

Budokan Cup – The semi-finals will see only 4 contestants advancing to the final of the Prism Queen Cup. Mion has already qualified and this means only 3 spots are left. I think I know who will be there…

Aurora Rising Revisited – Kaname pulls off Aurora Rising successfully much to the audience’s delight since it’s the first time they’ve seen it in 13 years! However she feels something incomplete despite this move allowing her to take top spot. So what now Rhythm? Somebody mastered it before you. Do you have the guts to continue? Till Aira performing in her wedding dress which is a reminder that she wants her to be a happy bride and her way of telling her she is going to challenge Aurora Rising. Be there or be square. Oh, Aira gets second spot for that.

Aurora Rising again – Now that it is Rhythm’s turn to strut her stuff, she performs Aurora Rising but at first she seemingly is going to fail. I don’t understand what happens next since some Prism Stone she is wearing activates and she continues to make the fabulous jump that earns her top spot and thus qualifying her for the Prism Queen Cup. And during that jump she saw what her mom did (her memories, I guess)… And then she collapsed. When she wakes up, she craves for meat… Turns out she was just hungry after all that… Phew…

The hard life – Ryuu reveals Sonata’s hard life since birth. An abandoned child who never knew her parents, wandered in the streets and when somebody picked her up, she was made to work like a dog till a point she was suicidal. Then she saw Asechi performing on screen and she became her inspiration to live. She practised hard and became an overnight sensation. Sonata met Ryuu who was some street rocker and they fell in love despite protests from many. They started a happy family and became paranoid that she would lose all this happiness one day. That day came when Asechi announced her retirement. That’s when she decided to go back to the rink in fear that people like her would fade into obscurity. The rest is history. Ryuu always believed she disappeared because of him. Rhythm feels the need to tell Sonata how they feel. Because Aurora Rising has a second part.

Prism Queen Finals – It’s here!!!!!!!

Reminiscence of the past – As Kaname goes first, Sonata thinks back how she failed to complete Aurora Rising and abandoned all that is important to her. And then Kaname fails her Aurora Rising jump! She saw it. Her past too. Kaname was a poor girl in a Russian circus and Sonata who was also part of the troop cared for her. She gave Kaname her name and wanted her to call her as mom from then on. She was so kind to her. Sonata believed that one must tossed away everything in order to perform Aurora Rising and thus Kaname shouldn’t have seen anything if she had done that. Then Kei explains that humans cannot cast aside what they treasure most. Sonata believed her Aurora Rising was an illusion but Kei points out what she saw was the truth. It was the treasured moments she saw emitted from her heart. The Aurora light never lies. Sonata is stunned her Aurora Rising has been succeeded. So what has Sonata been doing for the past 13 years? Yeah, shocking isn’t it? I guess when the happiness is greater, the greater the fear that one will lose it.

Back In The USSR – Sonata quickly leaves for Russia after Kaname’s lacklustre performance (it got her a low score – I guess she won’t be champion). Kaname tries to stop her and wants her to go see Rhythm but big mommy won’t listen. So she had to call Serena for help to relay the message to Rhythm.

Aurora Rising Final – In this next part of the jump, it is so awesome that it reaches outside the rink to where Sonata is!!! Rhythm wants to show her the times she had with her dad and her friends. Immediately after that she jumps off the rink and goes chase after mama with daddy. For once Serena’s helicopter proves useful to beat the traffic jam.

Emotional reunion – Rhythm screams out all those fun and happy experiences in those 13 years. She believes it is not too late for her to come back. They can be better than a normal family, etc. I guess her daughter’s words are enough to convince Sonata to come back. Emotional hug. Emotional tears. Emotional everything. Mother and daughter reunion. So beautiful. Mustn’t… Cry… Cant… Help… Start… Crying…

Disqualified – Because Rhythm left the stage midway and her performance unfinished, the judges has decided to disqualify her. Sad but we know she won something else, right?

Perfect! – After that ground breaking, mountain rising, big bang, fairy garden smorgasbord move, Mion scores the maximum perfect score! OMG! How can you beat that???!!! Unless…

Aira! Aira! Aira! – The entire stadium is cheering loudly for her. Could it be the entire stadium is filled with Aira’s fans? Or did somebody buy them out to cheer for her? Yeah well, all the minor characters that appeared before…

Aurora Rising Spam! – If it isn’t enough that Aira had made a perfect Aurora Rising jump, it is so awesome that it kills gravity! Everybody floats! That’s not the end of it! She reconnects Asechi and Sonata to their past selves so that they can complete their Aurora Rising! Double Aurora Rising! Aira joining in makes it triple! Oh wait! She calls Serenon and Kaname to join in too! Oh, there’s room for more! Come on everybody! Do the Aurora Rising! Mion, Rhythm, Asechi, Jun, Callings, Pair Cheer Mascots, Pengin, Yamada, all family and friends, the audience and probably the entire world!!! DO THE AURORA RISING!!! FREAKING SH*T! The world is one big Aurora Rising heaven!!! They make it look so easy performing this freaking hard move. Wow!!!!! Such happiness!!!! If this is really heaven, Aurora Rising killed them!!!!!!!!!!! So beautiful that Kei’s tears are flowing like a river. There, have you had enough of Aurora Rising already?

Maximum overload – After that sterling performance, why is there a great silence from the judge? Have they died? Were they too awed to give their score? Apparently they have a hard time deciding Aira’s score because it went over the maximum permitted! How much? Let me give you an idea. The number is high enough that they don’t even know how to count or mathematics anymore! So they place it as O.T.T. Over. The. Top. WTF???!!! What kind of number is that?! Even at least infinite is a number. Oh what the heck, this is a Prism Show, not some maths quiz challenge.

The Queen of Our Hearts – Oh, I almost forgot. Congratulations to Aira as the new Prism Queen! All hail Aira!!!

New dawn, new management – The agency handling Serenon goes bankrupt (because the old fart has had enough). Thus Serenon will be working under Asechi’s care from now on.

Discovering new talents – Jun has been given the green light to find new Prism Stars given the unlimited potential he saw. Oh where oh where is he going to start travelling in this big wide world? So it’s goodbye Mion. Don’t leave me. Take me with you. Can’t take her along. Can’t defy fate. Whatever. Just shine as you are. And in Jun’s presence, there is always Wataru to comfort her when she’s down, right?

One big family – Rhythm’s family is back on track. Kaname is the adopted sister. Sonata invites Asechi for dinner. Hibiki trying to confess something to Rhythm? I wonder what will Kanon have to say about that? Ryuu apologizes to Asechi for saying harsh things. Thanks to her, their family is together again.

Graduation day – Pengin graduates the Pair Cheer Mascots since they have a guided their Prism Stars to stand on their own. Our mascots start crying and don’t want to graduate because they think they’ll be separated from our Prism Stars. Actually they are promoted and this means they will train new mascots and still be with their Prism Stars. Proof of their promotion? They just got a little bigger.

The new dream – Aira’s new dream is to make everyone smile, to make everyone’s dream come true, to show that anyone can become Prism Queen. And for nostalgia’s sake, here is MARs performing for us again!

Specials

There are as many specials as there are with the TV episodes (51 of them if you must know exactly) although each only lasts 2 minutes and are more for fun and comical purposes. Here are some of the memorable ones:

Free fruits – Remember how Aira’s fresh fruit basket jump move materializes real fruits? Yeah, papa got this idea to get endless and free fruit supplies for his cake! So do the jump! And jump again! And again! And again! And again! And again! And again!!!

She who is the brave first star – Rhythm’s catchphrase after everyone chips in a word they like and put together. Say what?

Aira and Rabbit show – Wait a minute. They’re doing stand-up comedy? Not funny! Don’t get the joke!

The voice – All new Prism Stone merchandise! Whenever you’re in doubt, all you need to do is press play on this box and you’ll hear Jun’s voice and his ‘words of wisdom’. NOT!!!!!!! I don’t even get it, those lines he says… Makes no sense…

Imagination – Because Aira is afraid to face the audience, Rhythm advises to imagine them as fruits. Her mental practice goes overboard when she starts talking and naming all the imaginary fruits. For the record, a sweet potato is not a fruit.

Mind your English – Aira helps out with Rhythm for her English make-up test. However speaking in English, Rhythm can only say ‘yes’ to everything Aira says. Yes. Everything. Yes. She also misunderstands the questions and answers them wrongly. She’s got a long way to go.

Honesty pays – When Aira accidentally drops Rabbit into some pond, Jun the goddess rewards her honesty with a gold and silver one in addition to the regular one. Then the clones start fighting with each other. Time to redo it again. She only needs the regular one. Yeah. She gets 3 regular ones! Redo it. Now she specifically needs only 1 regular one and Jun is so touched that he drops her a bunch of them. It’s raining Rabbit! Now how can she tell which is the real one?

Gyafun! – Everyone fools Aira that she couldn’t stop saying this catchphrase of “Gyafun!”. It will ultimately cause her to trip? And when everyone is infected with that catchphrase, this leaves Aira panicking. And a big “Gyafun!” when she finds out they were just pulling her leg.

Begging for a raise – Aira’s plan is to beg or cry to dad to raise their allowance till Itsuki suggests they need to be kind to mom and listen to her. When they do so, they get rewarded but it wasn’t in monetary terms. Turns out it was a plan concocted by mommy and Itsuki to have the girls quiet down and behave.

Mion the princess – There wasn’t anything special about Mion being casted as a spoilt princess that caused heartaches for her servants (Callings). Till this Jun came into her life and she starts fantasizing about him and things quiet down. Behold his cheesy lines like the world is his kingdom and thus he doesn’t come from any kingdom and was here all along. And his end laughter was freaking creepy!

The penguin song – Pengin and Yamada sing a song about penguins and despite sounding off key and horrible, they make it sound funny and sexy. But encore? No thanks!

Eat your vegetables! – Shou doesn’t like his green peppers no matter how much his mates try to make him eat it. All sorts of reasons… He then tricks Aira into eating it and the gullible girls love it.

Penguin lessons – Pengin takes the Pair Cheer Mascots to the zoo to learn about, wait for it, penguins. You guessed it. How can you tell the difference between the species? Pengin even mimics the different calls but they can’t tell any difference. So much so the zookeepers think a captive penguin escaped and start chasing him around.

An ode to papa and mama – Uru and Eru write a lovely poem about their parents for Aira and Itsuki to here. But they may have just misinterpreted their undying love because in actual fact, mama is beating up papa for his incompetence. Oh yeah. That’s love, right?

This sucks – Mion who loves cats finds one sitting in the alley. However it is not moving and it could be injured or unwell. But how will they lure it out without scaring it away? Don’t follow Rhythm’s plan of just catching it! And so they have Neko do the job but it turns out to be a bunch of socks resembling a cat’s outline. Embarrassing. Socks… This sucks…

The hidden meaning – Callings are doing a quiz show on Jun’s wise sayings. Believe me, you can never guess them. So ambiguous. So unrelated. Are those even wise sayings? For Pete’s sake that they sound more like riddles and lame puns…

Indiana MARs – Our girls head into a tomb to find a golden tiara and are set upon trials by the guardians played by Pair Cheer Mascots. Either the trials are too easy or just dumb. Selfish Mion claims the tiara for herself but the side effect has her turned into a monkey.

Mr Fix It – Asechi always blames Jun if something doesn’t go her way as she believes she instructed him otherwise. So fix it! Each time, we see Jun in his usual monologue about the stars and his tears falling like teardrops from the Milky Way. Oh so dramatic… When she finally thanks him, it’s all happiness and smiles.

The wig – When Rhythm goes to wake Pengin up, she finds his wig on the floor. So as not to make him come out of his covers, she tries to stall him to stay there while trying to get out. But Pengin is just such a talkative bird, isn’t he? Especially when he is talking about short hair and such. When he comes out from his hiding, his hair is on his head. So whose wig is this? It’s Yamada’s chest hair???!!! WTF???!!! Different colour???!!!

The gift – MARs receive lots of presents from their fans. But there is one energy buns whom they do not know who it is from. As they deliberate and are stumped to see a face as the bun’s design, nobody wants it till Aira suggests it could be Callings. Rhythm would happily take and eat it but Aira doesn’t think so and wants it herself. So what if it is from Jun? Now Mion wants it. As they share, they find it tasting too revolting. The Pair Cheer Mascots don’t have the guts to tell them it was from Yamada! Because he got that creepy prankster look on his face!

Crocodile Rock – During prehistoric times when Aira’s family is running out of food, dad hasn’t come back, the twins can’t go hunting because they’re too young and mom won’t let Itsuki the eldest son do it. I guess this means Aira has to do it. She is given the last banana snack as energy. But the river she is about to cross is filled with crocodile. She becomes a chicken and turns back but slips on her banana peel. It causes her to slide through the crocodile infested waters and up into the sky. And that is how the jump for Prism Shows began even before the legendary Aurora Rising. Crap!

Aira In Wonderland – Aira is led down the rabbit hole by Rabbit. Asechi is the mean queen of hearts and nobody can successfully entertain her. Off with your head! Okay, so she just arrested them. So when it is Aira’s turn to perform, it wasn’t her jump and spins that impressed her. It was her tripping and fall. Oh Aira, you’re such a joker…

What does that smell like? – Well, the first time Kaname was going to get a pretty makeover by Akai, she’s being an imbecile not knowing what a Prism Stone is, etc. Thankfully Akai has lots of patience. I hope. Seeing signs of close to being pissed off… And when finally she gets a pretty makeover, Kaname starts sniffing herself and this worries Akai if it stinks. She starts panicking thinking something is really wrong because she really took care of the clothes. Finally Kaname realizes that smell. It’s the smell of happiness! Phew.

Muscle your way – Once again we have Yamada singing and telling us all about muscles and the need for them to build them up. So funny… So gay… So shall we build muscles together?

Butt eyes – Asechi is not confident without putting on her glasses as Akai convinces her otherwise. When she finally feels confident in showing her glassless face, turns out she has butt eyes… Regret? And Jun is so happy he has never seen her smile like that.

A bug’s life – In the distant future and a galaxy far, far away, our girls have been reincarnated into… Bugs?! And so in their pupa form, they are being ‘coached’ by Jun the worm (?!) to transform into their beautiful form. And with the power of friendship, they metamorphose into… The same bug but only look shinier?

Happy Lucky cure – Aira is some sort of Happy Lucky angel and with Rhythm by her side, they go around curing people who are down on their luck. Instant happiness. Till she meets her match in Kei. Too depressing to work.

All convenient Japanese pass – Sonata is back in Japan after 13 years and wonders if she can adapt life here. Her first hurdle is the turnstile at the train station. She uses her pass and the gates open. She is overcome with joy and confident, too long that the gates close. Back to depression. But with her family and friends supporting her, she gets the strength to do it again. This time without wasting anytime and make a big rush past the gates. Hooray! All hail the convenient Japanese pass!

It’s how you say it – Asechi has failed to perform Aurora Rising despite her numerous attempts. Then Kei tells her the big flaw why she couldn’t… She pronounced it wrongly! So Kei coaches her to pronounce those words but it feels like she has made almost every pun out of it. Is she even trying? How hard can it be? But with Sonata’s guidance, it soon becomes a breeze. So easy to say it now!

That’s a wrap – Even if it is meant to be a final goodbye, Aira is having nightmares that everyone else is as weird as they can be. A dream? Well, the dream continues, right?

Be The Girl You Want, Not The Girl You Meant To Be!
After watching over a hundred episodes (including the specials lah!), it dawned to me that in some ways I felt like a little girl! Uh huh. There is this feeling that this show was made for little and teenage girls. Look at all the shiny and pretty girly stuffs. Thankfully I didn’t turn into a girly wimp. Heck, I’m already an otaku wimp but I’m at least not a girly wimp. Uhm… What was I talking about? Oh. This show. If you’re the kind of guy who is overflowing with lots of masculine and testosterone stuffs, you’ll definitely want to give this a miss. Or else either it would awaken your little girl within and turn you into one or you’ll go crazy and start ripping bunnies in half to get your manly fix. Heh.

Overall, this isn’t a bad show but I have to admit that despite the interesting concept, this idol type of show isn’t my cup of tea. I could feel that some of my enthusiasm waned after watching this series for too long. There were funny moments, some feel good moments, there were dramatic moments, there were magical moments. But nothing too drastic or complicated that would make this the sort of show that the general and average anime fans talk about. Unless you are a very huge fan of the series. In which I could see from the in-show Prizmmy segment that they are all young girls. So don’t you agree with me that this show is targeted for little girls?

The story is rather okay too with our girls aiming to become the best Prism Star and their journey filled with trials and tribulations. Nothing really that tough if you think about it. Because I expected Aira to become the new Prism Queen right from the start. Although it did put me off a little when they started focusing more on Rhythm and her troubled mom in the second half, so I thought if Aira was just to throw us off to make us think she is the main heroine and that the real one was Rhythm. Alas there were no surprises or twists in the end because just like such genres, the dark horse or the underdog becomes the winner. I mean, think about this. A clumsy girl who never had any experience in Prism Shows before suddenly enters the ring and defeats an internationally popular and acclaimed Prism Star and the daughter of a legendary Prism Star. And they all manage to stay friends after that. If this show isn’t for the feel good factor for girls, I don’t know what is.

As you can see, the varied characters make the series interesting (although personally not very much). They change and grow and in the case of MARs, they forge a friendship bond. Something that is a must in this kind of shows. As said in my previous paragraph, Aira who is the daughter of baker parents jumps into this world and becomes the new star. Her perseverance in training and never give up attitude makes her where she is today. Doesn’t that sound familiar in shows featuring such heroines? Oh, and she is a funny girl every time she flusters or put on that incredulous looks. It makes her look cute too :). Then there is Mion who has suddenly turned from a loner to accept and rely on her friends. She still has her pride but is better than before when she was just plain obnoxious. And of course there is Rhythm who was just desperate to do Aurora Rising so that she can see her mom. Other than that, she is quite a lively and friendly girl.

Not forgetting Serena and Kanon who are their best rivals. Every good team needs a good rival to propel and push them further to improve, right? Despite being better stand up comedians, do take them seriously because they still have the touch in making those jumps. Although personally I feel that they should be doing stand up comedy despite me not getting some of their jokes. Must be their Kansai origin or something. And there’s Kaname who sometimes feel like a retard but she is actually a simple and honest girl and her actions may cause some to feel like she is the former. Such shows need mascots and that is why the cuteness of Pair Cheer Mascots is for. They feel more like moral support for our girls but even so, I don’t see them playing more than that role besides the cuteness factor and comic relief as they just hang around on the girls’ shoulder if the girls aren’t performing.

Callings may look like MARs biggest support but from many older viewers’ point of view, you can start to tell that they are also their secret lovers from the pairings that we have seen. Isn’t that why they are always sticking around and helping MARs out? I doubt that any sort of romantic romance would blossom between them. At least not in this season. Of course even the hinting romance is not straightforward as you can see some sort of love triangle. Like Mio and Wataru, it is more like Wataru -> Mio -> Jun. One way ticket. Since Jun is so in his world (or just not giving a hoots about it), I suppose Mio can only pray and hope from afar. Just like what Wataru is. He is like the backup for Mio in case Jun’s one falls through. Like it would ever. Then there is the other love triangle between Hibiki, Rhythm and Kanon. Because little sister believes big brother is her property. Enough said. Think there is no love triangle between Aira and Shou? Well, some may not call it a triangle. Because Aira’s papa is the big main obstacle and nobody is going to get his daughter ever. Aira will always be his forever and ever. Even if she is 100 years go. He’ll never let her go. He’s like Kanon in this case, isn’t he?

Personally, Jun feels like the biggest question mark. Besides his penchant to spout enigmatic lines, his presence itself is a big mystery. Like as though he knows the things that are going on but won’t blurt it out in a straightforward manner because, well, you know how he talks, right? Therefore in this sense, he is both enigmatic and annoying. Charismatic? Maybe. Only Mion sees this part. I think weirdness runs in the family because like for Asechi, it feels like a running joke that she can never settle down or even find a decent boyfriend. At least she’s funny unlike Kei who is always having that brooding face like as though she could just pop up and surprise us that she is the real antagonist or something. But shows like this aren’t like that to scare and surprise little girls. Am I right?

Oddly enough, maybe it is just me that I feel the one stealing the limelight of the series are Pengin and Yamada. They are a funny pair. Personally I thought these 2 should have more screen time. They never fail to make me break into a smile each time have their cameo no matter how silly it is like how Pengin tries to get his face in cameras but burns. Yamada seems to have some sort of vocabulary limitation because initially most of the time he always says “Yamada desu” (I am Yamada). The way the pair interacts just feels gay although in a funny manner. I’m not sure if little girls would see this in this light but I thought this is what makes them hilarious especially with Pengin’s gay tone and Yamada’s burly chest hair. How much more gay can you get than that? Another joker is Aira’s overprotective dad who shuns his beloved Aira in doing anything related to Prism Show. And when he accepts her, he is still annoying to the point of embarrassing because he really dotes and fawns over Aira like as though she will never grow up and will always be daddy’s girl. Would you want to have this kind of father? At least we know that’s his love to her and she is being showered with love. Too much love. Thankfully mama is always around to show him his place.

Also not forgetting our Prizmmy who has learnt and grown a lot ever since the start of the series. In addition in seeing them learn, do fun stuffs, training, the promotional events the attended, the competitions they participated and all other stuffs that group idols would do, we also get to learn a few musical stuffs from them during their stint and if you have a little interest in music and a noob like I am, you find them interesting. The most interesting lessons are the one that involves Meme sensei since she briefly touches on different methods and techniques on how to improve their vocals and voice synchronization and pacing themselves to the rhythm of the beat. It was fascinating to try some of those simple stuffs myself but in the end, I think it would take more than just a mere seconds and perseverance of those exercises if I ever want to start singing confidently.

The drawing and art are of course the cute and girly bishoujo type. You can evidently see all the cute bright sparkly things that this series is filled with. During the dance sequence however, CGI is used and although it feels jarring, you’ll get used to it after seeing lots of them. At least a Prism Show or performance in every episode. This is what this series is about, isn’t it? Which brings me to this point. The girls each have their own set of moves. However they keep playing the same ones all the time that it is starting to get boring. Because the performance starts out the same but it is only the end jump that is different. So while it is cool to see the girls whether as individuals or as a team doing their dance, I thought they should put in a little more variation. But then again, if you are singing the same song, why the need of new set of moves?

This also brings me to this question. Don’t they have any other songs or dances? Because they always use the same songs and dance moves in every competition that they enter! And the audience can’t really get enough of it. Okay, so it is like seeing the same magic trick over and over again but never getting bored because of the way it is executed. The only thing that ‘changes’ is their outfits but even that is on certain occasions. However like I have said, the basic moves are exactly the same and only the end jump differs. It is as though they are doing some elaborated ‘ritual’ to reach this end stage of the jump. It’s like the moment we’ve all been waiting for. I don’t know if people will ever get bored unless you are really their fans or the songs but they could have anticipated it since you know, for example Mio is always singing this song in the semi-finals, the finals, in the last competition and will be for the next one too. Predictable.

Also speaking about the jumps, I thought that it was rather exaggerating for their jumps to actually materialize like in some sort of surrealism fashion. Having it flashy and making people hallucinate and see stuffs are already too much but acceptable since well, there should be some magic in this kind of shows, right? But to actually materialize them and become real feels like they have gone overboard. For example, Aira’s fresh fruits basket move has her actually materializing tasty fruits that the audience can actually pick and eat them! WTF?! And I believe that there are other jumps that materialize edible stuffs and chocolates and sweets. Imagine if she does this all the time, we can get free food! The agricultural industry will collapse! And for those jumps that aren’t edible and usually of the out-of-this-world and cosmic-like things such as stardust shower and riding a comet, this is too much and going too far. Since they’re real, don’t you think such big objects will crash and kill the audience? Oh heck, who cares? Then when you see everybody getting to pull off the toughest of the toughest Aurora Rising jump move that was once regarded as a death wish, you’ll start thinking that everything and anything is possible. Nothing is too impossible for these girls. Now I’ve seen everything. Yeah girls. Thanks for showing me the dream.

On a trivial note, I noticed that some of the background and extra characters, they are not fully drawn and feel like ‘coloured shadows’. Uh huh. Like as though somebody draw their outline on a coloured paper, cut them out and stand them up like as though they are in a crowd. This might be forgiven if it is only restricted to the audience. But doing this for the Prism Show judges as well?! I guess they are not as important as our Prism Stars, eh? Since I am not into fashion, I don’t really have any comment about the styling and clothes the girls wear. My typical male answer: They look okay in it. Of course as a series aimed at girls, there is nothing provoking in their dresses.

Being an idol themed series, of course part of its charm is in its songs. There are lots of songs featured throughout the series but like I’ve said, they only assigned one song per individual or group so it somewhat gets boring after a while. You hear the same thing every time they take the stage. But let’s not repeat that and get to the songs itself. Of course there are some songs that I like and some that don’t appeal to me. Those that I like include the first opening theme of the series, You May Dream by LISP (consisting of the members of MARs). This I believe is the theme of the series as it has this fun and exciting tune to it. The third ending theme, We Will Win by Tokyo Girls’ Style also shares this same sensation. Happy Go Lucky by Super Girls, which is the first ending theme is also not too bad. Prizmmy’s first feature (which is also the fourth ending theme) doesn’t sound too shabby either. Of all the insert songs, I like Mion’s one the best, Switch On My Heart as it has this playful tune in it. Following closely behind it is Mera Mera Heart Ga Atsuku Naru by MARs, then Dream Goes On by Aira (very cute and catchy lyrics) and followed by Itoshi No Tinkerbell by Callings.

Some of the songs I find it a little weird like Serena’s Wonderful World because although the rock electric guitar is good but I just find it odd for it to be sung as a song. I suppose the insert songs are tailored specifically to each character but even so, it just feels weird. Then there is Kaname’s Shall We Go. I don’t know. Her opening lines feel kinda flat. Maybe it is her character but it makes the overall song feel like it. Like a little girl singing. Nothing wrong but personally it feels weird. Hop Step Jump by MARs has a weird combination of their singing especially the ones singing the background vocals supporting the main singing at certain points. I don’t know. It feels they’re too enthusiastic bursting with energy while singing their single line that it sounds obvious. Then there is the third ending theme, Pretty Rhythm De Go by MARs. I don’t know how to describe this one but it made me had this weird feeling while listening to it. Maybe it is some of the words during the spoken part. So I guess they spam us with lots of chibi MARs to keep us distracted.

Voice acting is rather okay. My favourite is still Kana Asumi who is very recognizable as Aira. Also recognizable is Kanae Itou tripling as Kaname, Sonata and Akai. Many others also voice more than one character since there are an awful lot of characters in this series. Like Kenta Miyake doing both Pengin and Yamada (Klaus in Hayate No Gotoku), Motoko Kumai as Neko and Itsuki (Ginta in MAR), Noriko Hidaka as Bear and Omi (Kikyou in Inu Yasha), Risa Hayamizu as Asechi and Rabbit (Kumiko in Gokusen). Others include Sayuri Hara as Rhythm (Kon in Inari Kon Kon Iroha), Azusa Kataoka as Mion (Nagisa in Shinryaku! Ika Musume), Madoka Yonezawa as Serena (Ui in K-ON!), Satomi Akesaka as Kanon (Arsene in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Susumu Chiba as Jun (Kondou in Gintama), Takashi Kondou as Sho (Train in Black Cat), Kenn as Hibiki (Jinbei in Mushibugyou), Nobuhiko Okamoto as Wataru (Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu No Index) and Youku Soumi as Kei (B.C. in Vandread).

Even though I did say that watching this show made me feel like a little girl, I am not going to throw in the towel yet as I am planning to give the second season (which is long gone and probably forgotten by now) a chance. Hey. Even grownup guys watch magical girl series, right? Perhaps this show isn’t as flashy without the magical girl theme and won’t draw in those otaku guys. Still it has some funny moments, amusing moments, dramatic moments, heart-warming moments, cute moments and a few more other kind of moments that would make you feel like you’re a little girl watching a show meant for little girls. Whoops. Overall this series isn’t that bad considering it has already spanned so many seasons and a spin-off as of today. As far as this season is concerned, if you want a bit of cute idol magic and friendship thingy, this first season of the Pretty Rhythm series should be a good place to start. After all, deep down in each one of our hearts, there is this little girl waiting to burst out and wanting us to follow our dreams, right? Okay, I made that up. Make that, Pretty Remade that up. So what are you waiting for? Start following your dreams and go to bed!

Miss Monochrome OVA 2

January 16, 2015

Wait a minute. There was another OVA? I couldn’t have guessed it as there is a second episode for Miss Monochrome OVA. Well, if some random fansub never came up with it, I would never have gotten my hands on it and this limited edition OVA would have flown by me into the darkness. Something like that. So it is no harm to see more of our little Miss Monochrome as she works hard trying to understand and become the idol that she wants.

Manager
Monochrome is perfect in her role in a drama shoot. Yeah. She’s standing there steadily as a mannequin. Perfect. Suddenly she gets a call from Mana. She’s in hospital. Is she dying?! Serves her right for trying to cheat! Haha! Oh wait. You mean she is not and just got a cold? Shucks… Anyway because she is ill, she wants Monochrome to do her a favour and temporarily become Kikuko’s manager. And since Mana has faith in her, how can Monochrome say no? So with Maneo, they become the temporary manager and follow her around to her interviews, handshake events and photo shooting sessions. As tired Kikuko sleeps on her way to her next concert, Monochrome wonders why she is pushing herself to this extent. Maneo replies it is because she is an idol and she wants to show her fans the golden dream. As there is a traffic jam, they won’t reach the concert in time. Monochrome vows to protect her golden dream and carries her all the way there with all her fans (and animals?) running alongside them. Kikuko manages to put up a splendid performance and Monochrome vows to stand out more so they can compete as top idols one day. As gratitude, Mana sends a golden battery to her. However it is too powerful and she runs rampage on the props and set. Time for another big apology from Maneo…

Managing Well…
Well, there is nothing much save for it brings back some nostalgic memories of the short TV series. And a great reminder that Yui Horie is still having that cute lovely voice :). With Monochrome having a little experience working as an idol manager, hopefully this will spur her to greater heights to become a top idol. But you know with her kind of personality, that is going to take a while. So it goes to show that whatever job you do, it has its difficulties and obstacles. All you need is to put in the effort and lots of passion to make the difference. Now, I wonder if there is a job as an otaku manager…

Miss Monochrome OVA

September 5, 2014

The only reason why I can think of Miss Monochrome OVA was released in the middle of June 2014 is because FIFA’s World Cup Brazil 2014 edition. Uh huh. That’s because this time our Monochrome girl is trying her hands at football. What better way than to garner support for your favourite Blue Samurai team (if you’re a Japanese anyway) than to have a cute idol voiced by one of the cutest seiyuus in Japan. And since it is aired on her official YouTube channel, I guess that just says a lot, huh?

Supporter
While sweeping outside the convenience store, Monochrome spots a boy juggling a football. She then decides to go cheer for the national football team by uploading her performance on to YouToob (not type error). She is going to make the football team stand out alongside her as well. She is going to make a big wave and stand out more, so much so she doesn’t mind becoming Bluechrome instead of Monochrome. So the video starts off with Monochrome and Maneo telling us supporters the dos and don’ts for the supporters to cheer on their team. Like not stripping naked or using a big laser cannon to disrupt the game or even shooting down some crow (the crow is the symbol and part of the Japan Football Association’s emblem). Monochrome begins her footwork action by dribbling past her opponents, a leopard and lion. Ole! Ole! Ole! I’m sure she could have best Messi and Ronaldo or any other super star world football players you can think of. She shoots! She scores! GOOOOOOOOAAALLLLLLLL!!!!!!!! And here is Monochrome doing her cute victory dance (if only she had more facial expression it would have been the best). After uploading on the video sharing site, her effort draws the attention of a sports company and was selected as a model for a new pair of sneakers. Okay, that’s a start.

Ganbare! Nippon!
Well, I’m sure by the time my blog came out, we all know the Japanese football team’s performance, right? But as far as this mini OVA is concerned, it is still fun as a standalone itself. Even more fun if you are a football fan and a Japanese supporter so this little OVA serves its little part to cheer on for the national team more than anything else. Monochrome’s victory dance could be the next Gangnam Style if it was ever expanded and put behind a catchy dance song. If it does, then Monochrome would have really achieved her goal of being a popular stand out idol. Then maybe she can really give some real support for the Blue Samurai. Yeah, we know how they’d fare in Brazil, right? Uh huh. Forgettable… As always, they can always try again in another 4 years.

You can make an anime on just about anything these days. Even mascots. Yup. Just leave it to Japan and anime and they’ll breathe a new life into your mascots. If your mascot is famous, why not go the extra length of reaching more audience by having your own animated series? This is the case of Super Sonico The Animation. Initially I have never heard of this character although I did see some random pictures of her around the internet but my curiosity wasn’t that nosy to find out more. Till this anime came along. Uh huh. At least in that sense it made me find out and read up a little more about this mascot. Yeah. So that’s how I got to know this character thanks to the anime. But not that I have turned into a big fan of the character or anything, just that now I know. Just that.

Let me see if my ‘research’ has taught me well. I found out that the character, Super Sonico is a mascot to a visual novel game developer company, Nitroplus. Obviously I have never played lots of games, what more Japanese games in my life, therefore that name doesn’t even ring a bell. Only just a few years ago, they started organizing concerts annually so I guess that’s where they put their mascot Sonico to good use. She’s a busty pink haired girl rocking with a guitar in hand. What better way to appeal to a broader fan base than to have your character so. I don’t know if she will reach the same height of popularity as Hatsune Miku (probably the most famous and recognizable one out there) or Black Rock Shooter, but since she has her own legion of fans, it can’t be that bad, can it? And now that she already has an anime series, you wonder what it is going to be like. Turning the character into some sort of superhero and saving the world from super villains? Not really. Just an everyday life and occurrence that we see the character and her friends go through.

Episode 1
Sonico finally gets up after all the alarm clocks and cats wake her up. Maybe she could have hear better if she hadn’t had those earphones. Oh wait. Are they part of her? Sonico realizes she is running late and rushes but it’s making her forgetful of the things she needs to do first before she leaves. Along the way she meets several people who know her. When she arrives at college, she enters the wrong class. Definitely late. For the 13th time. Although she excels in her studies, the teacher laments if she wasn’t late every time, she would have been a model student. After classes, she goes straight to work. However the client has moved up the schedule so she has to start right away. She is to be their model for some of the client’s products. Honestly, I thought that bikini looked skimpy already and it feels like she might be busting out of it any time. Lots of good shots are taken but the client decides to make her wear a more shameful piece and get some photos of her in it, convincing her it is today’s trend and how she’ll be a big hit. Suddenly the client’s head is grabbed by a man in a demon mask! Who? Kitamura. Sonico’s modelling agency manager. If his scary ‘face’ doesn’t scare you, wait till you see his fiery aura and flashing eyes! He claims they are attempting to do something out of their contract. Since Sonico has done her part, the contract is fulfilled and needs to do nothing more. Besides, she should go help her grandma’s bar now. So any objections, people? Who would? Sonico serves beer to a bunch of old guys from the shopping district as well as a baseball team who are having a party in the bar and they all love Sonico for growing into a fine woman. Her cooking is still the same. Best ever. She has to leave when she gets a call from band mate, Suzu Fujimi. As she meets up with her, it seems Suzu has got a new song. Sonico is excited to hear it now. They can try it out at the studio but what about their other member, Fuuri Watanuki? Suzu has already told her earlier in person since she doesn’t have a handphone. She’s sleeping here since afternoon after having many bowls since lunch. When the trio arrive at the studio, Sonico seems too focus in trying to learn the new song. However Suzu just tells her to play how she feels to it. That is what their band, First Astronomical Velocity do.

Episode 2
The girls do an advertisement about their upcoming concert. After practising, they discuss about the ticket design and Suzu wants Sonico to wear a special outfit. It is made with some special material because at the end of the concert, her sweat will melt her clothes away! Just like ice cream? No way she’ll wear that. Fuuri gives the damning verdict that their concert is for people to hear their music and not show off how they look. Sonico’s classmates know she is handing out tickets to her concert because she always acts this nervous before the live gig. Sonico gets a call from Kitamura that he is a model short and wonders if she can be the replacement. Seeing that she has other obligations, Kitamura is okay to look around further. However Sonico wants to do it despite her tight schedule. So she calls Suzu to apologize she can’t make it to their practice today. But Sonico is putting up a gloomy look during the shoot. Will it turn out fine? During the break, the make-up staff talks to her how she got into a band. Similarly, Suzu explains to her Manager the same thing. She saw Sonico nervous in the streets. Her huge boobs were really ‘distracting’. Suzu went to talk to her about her preference in music and invited her to join the band since they lack a guitarist. She also recalls recruiting Fuuri as the drummer (she gave a flying kick to some punk who was trying to hit on her). Sonico feels better and puts up more smiles when the shoot resumes. The night of the concert, Sonico thought she was late but looks like she got here first. Actually, Suzu is on her way to pick up Fuuri in a taxi because the train services stopped so she’s stuck at the station. At the mean time, she has to buy time to entertain the audience alone. Sonico wears the improved ice cream outfit (it doesn’t melt) and talks to everyone how they came up with the band name. Breaking through the atmosphere? Becoming stars? Hmm… Okay. Everyone understands that her band mates are running late and will wait. Sonico is about to play the song they made and worked together but suddenly freezes. She can’t do it alone. Thankfully Suzu and Fuuri arrive in time to start the music rolling with Skylab Hurricane. At the end of the concert, everyone is surprised to see Sonico’s outfit melting! I guess she took the wrong outfit because the correct one was in the locker.

Episode 3
Sonico makes her way to office to check her schedule. She meets fellow loli model, Ouka Satsurikuin. Sonico’s next modelling assignment is for Yamakawa Books who publishes magazines of collected mangas. The location? The sandy beaches of Okinawa! Kitamura and Sonico arrive at the southern island and meet the editor of Yamakawa Books, Endou. They are also introduced to the rest of the staffs on this shoot that includes a famous professional photographer, Kishikawa. The night before the shoot, Kitamura and Endou hit the bar together. Yup, they’re drunk. Kitamura must be glamorising Sonico to be the best model when some guy named Kakazu heard he is some sort of a talent manager and needs a favour. Next day, Sonico works hard as a model as they from places to places around Okinawa to take various shots. Night fall when they get back to the hotel, Kakazu is waiting for them but Kitamura doesn’t remember this dude. Seems last night Kitamura agreed to have Sonico appear in a movie he is making and signed a contract for it. Oh sh*t! He tries to give excuse that Sonico is tired after a long day but Kakazu says that the staffs are already waiting. Sonico is willing to do it thinking Kitamura got this job for her so she’ll do what she can. Seems this is some sort of tokusatsu movie. She doesn’t have many lines and only appears in this short scene so it won’t be a problem. Her role is to be the scared victim being harassed by the sea monster. Hmm… The squid seems to be like molesting her… Kitamura is getting suspicious what kind of movie they’re filming so Kakazu explains that this is how they make their money. In every episode, a girl gets harassed from some monster while yelling and screaming in embarrassing situations. When the squid ups the molestation and the scene is getting ‘dirtier’, Kitamura blows his top. There’s steam coming out from his mouth! Oh sh*t! Before those hero rangers can save the day, Kitamura jumps in and takes out a katana from his back (how the heck he hides it there?!) and cuts up the monster!!! Who is scarier? Don’t mess with this guy! Kitamura drives her home as he apologizes for accepting a job without knowing the details. Sonico doesn’t mind. Although she was scared, she was glad he came to save her. Kitamura notes when she came to his office the first time, he didn’t think she would last. She might be awkward and dense but it was her smile that lights up everything. In the end, the scene of Kitamura trying to cut up the monster becomes part of the episode. Those hero rangers don’t even have to lift a finger. Thanks to their ‘friend’, Okinawa is once again saved. Kakazu is so impressed that he offers Kitamura to star in another big part! No thank you!

Episode 4
Kitamura is glad Sonico could make it for another photo shoot and done it perfectly well. She even brought her guitar. He learns this guitar, Daydream is very precious to her and got it from her senior, Kyouka “Toma” Tomano during her middle school days. However she feels it doesn’t really belong to her and may have to return it to her someday. That rainy night, Sonico receives a postcard from Toma. It made her remember the day she first met her just like on that rainy day. Sonico waited till dark for the rain to stop but was attracted by the sounds of an electric guitar. She saw Toma banging away and the latter invited her to come in and sing (since Sonico couldn’t play an instrument that time). Soon Sonico is enthralled by her guitar and hopes she can join her light music club. That’s when she started learning and playing the guitar. One day Toma decides to give the guitar to her. It was given by her alumni, her senior who chose her. Now she chose Sonico to be Daydream’s owner. Of course Sonico isn’t that good yet so she suggests if she can master the tough guitar riffs of Moonlight Star, she’ll give it to her. It doesn’t have to be today but she’ll look forward to hearing her play. Later Sonico then realized why Toma gave Daydream to her. The other band members told her Toma was going to transfer away due to her family moving. She didn’t want a farewell party because she didn’t want to feel down. Sonico rushed to see Toma and caught her right before she left her home. As they talk, Sonico thought of giving Daydream back to her as she has not mastered the song but Toma told her to keep it. She also explains the meaning of Daydream and thus wants her to pack this full of her dreams. She is going overseas for now but when she gets back, she hopes she can hear her Moonlight Star. Back in the present, Sonico requests Suzu that there is a song she wants to play. During their concert, she plays Moonlight Star and dedicates it to her senior. Unknown to her, Toma was there watching and at the end of the gig, she leaves a message that she barely made it there and that Daydream is officially hers.

Episode 5
A local small time publisher is running out of ideas of what to publish so the editor thinks Sonico could be a good cover. Furthermore, he hands this task to Sayaka Kinomoto who is very much against it and doesn’t want to cover this cow tits brat. He thinks she’s since they’re both girls, it will do. Worse, she needs to keep in line with their tight budget too. She reluctantly calls up the agency to meet and is expecting to get rejected but to her surprise, Kitamura agrees to do it. Although the coverage will be what Sonico does in her daily life, Kitamura will still have the final say of what gets published. That night she calls her fellow friend, Yuuko from another publishing company out for a drink. We learn Sayaka was writing some novel but gave up. Sayaka is too drunk to walk home so Yuuko brings her home. She sees on her messy table the drafts of whatever novel she was writing. She hasn’t given up after all. Next day, Sayaka begins her work but Sonico’s grandma had to open the door to her apartment. Yeah. All those alarm clocks ringing and still sleeping. She takes a few shots of her as payback. The cats help her to wake Sonico up but she falls back to sleep. This is going to be tough. And she’s already running late for classes. While accompanying Sonico in her college, Sayaka also interviews other students. Sonico is just like a normal person with her likes and dislikes. Heck, some students don’t even know who this model is! Sayaka asks Kitamura why Sonico wanted to become a model so he thinks she should ask her personally and it would make a great material. Sonico’s answer is that her father’s friend suggested it but her current dream is not to become a model but a rock star. Sayaka is taken to see her band mates during practice. They too have good things to say about Sonico. Then accompanying Sonico to grandma’s place, the old farts get carried away inviting Sayaka for a drink. She couldn’t resist and ends up drunk. She is taken back to Sonico’s room to rest and while Sonico is in the bath, she caught glimpse of Sonico’s notebook and realizes she is writing songs. Then she asks if her music path failed but modelling career flourished, would she quit her band? She won’t because she loves rock even if she can’t be a professional. She’s gotten lots of ‘power’ from rock and would like to give everyone back that power. Sayaka walks home pondering that Sonico has got it good because she is surrounded by good people and hasn’t taste the bitter reality of losing things along the way. However she realizes she is not to judge her and blames herself for not doing the things she loves. Next day, Sayaka is in good spirits again as she drives Sonico to college as gratitude. She’s going to do her best. Later Kitamura calls Sayaka to thank her about the great article she wrote on Sonico and her rock dream. Sayaka calls Yuuko to say that she’ll try writing novels again.

Episode 6
The girls are trying out swimsuits for their concert on the beach tomorrow to attract as much audience. Sonico is advised by Fuuri to accept this sexy one or else Suzu will put on more embarrassing swimsuits on her. And then… It rained! There goes the show. Ouka shows Sonico her fat burning cream TV advertisement she starred in that will be aired nationally. Seriously, a skinny loli modelling for a fat burning cream? I can see why… She thinks she is going to be famous and invites Sonico and her friends to come onboard the luxury cruiser where the official product will be launched. Sonico, Suzu and Fuuri and perhaps enjoying the lifestyle of the rich on this cruiser since they’re given VIP treatment. At the product launch, Kabuko Joujoji, the CEO of the company making this cream has Ouka demonstrate how to use the product. She gives everyone onboard a sample for them to try. Notice how everyone is so fat? Even Sonico and friends are ‘fat’ at a certain part… Haha! Suzu remains suspicious, though because it sounds too good to be true. Meanwhile the scientist warns Kabuko about launching the product as the clinical trials have not been finished. The cream has different after effects on different people. Kabuko doesn’t care since they can’t back out now after coming this far and will pour all the funds into this project and become giants of the beauty world. That night as Sonico and Suzu are out on the deck, suddenly… ZOMBIES!!! WTF?! Did this show turned into survival horror?! They recognized those ‘zombies’ to be those people who attended the launch. Seems that after putting the cream, they have become so thin that they become hungry! WTF. Guess who are the fleshy meat targets? Run Sonico, run! Thanks to Suzu’s drop kick, they manage to get away. Oh, Suzu was once a wrestler so her kick packs a punch. It doesn’t help when Fuuri is hoarding food and taking it with her. They want to escape via lifeboat but Ouka cuts them off first. Bye bye loli? Kabuko has the girls take refuge in her room. She tells them the product will wear off after a certain time and it is estimated that will be by midnight assuming everyone applied it right after the launch. Since Fuuri was hoarding more snacks, the zombies barge in and attack. Kabuko distracts them for the girls to escape. A few minutes into midnight and the situation isn’t returning to normal. The trio are cornered. Suzu sounds like she wants to sacrifice herself for the duo but Sonico won’t allow it and takes their hands to jump off into the sea! Just then they see everyone returning to normal (fat again?). Oh brother. What a bad call. In the aftermath, they are pulled out from sea, the products are suspended and this means the ad will be taken off. This means Ouka’s debut never made it and speaking of that loli, she’s still drifting at sea… That’s what you get for being selfish.

Episode 7
Sonico is taking a lone trip to Niigata to learn new things. In the bus she meets a woman who seems to have her own problems but Sonico chooses not to ask. The woman learns firsthand how hard it can wake up Sonico. She’s even sleepy at their destination. When they part, Sonico sees her happily reunited with her man. At the train station she is still sleepy. The conductor had to wake her up when the next train arrives and even give her the notebook she dropped. After dropping off at the station, it starts to rain after a walking distance. She takes shelter in front of a shop when an employee happens to come by. She lets her in as she observes him making glasses with the furnace. He teaches her how to make one and lets her keep this little glass bead as souvenir. Once the rain stops, she continues her journey on foot. By evening, she must be darn tired and luckily finds an inn. After taking a hot bath, she sees a poster of tonight’s stargazing party. She makes her way there in the dark only to get lost. Something in the bushes startles her but it turns out to be a raccoon. It leads her to where everyone is. She sits alongside with them and admires the beautiful starry sky while thinking back the amazing journey and the wonderful people she met. If you’re wondering why there aren’t any lights whatsoever, it’s because you’re not supposed to have any at such events. You might block out the stars.

Episode 8
Sonico goes over to Suzu’s workplace to rehearse. She meets Miina the maid who doesn’t know they’re rehearsing. As Sonico is changing, someone attacks her! Tardy Fuuri arrives to see Miina trying to open the locked door. After Manager gives the sole key to open it, they find Sonico dead! Blood all over! OH NO! Is this turning into a murder mystery?! Actually Sonico is still breathing and the gang deduce from the footmarks, she just tripped and had tomato juice spilled all over. However here comes Ena who thinks there is more to this mystery. Who is she? Suzu’s little sister who wants to be the greatest detective and annoyingly loves bugging people. Oh God… She smelled a mystery so she’s here to solve it. Sure Sonico didn’t just fall down? Since they have time to spare and Sonico won’t wake up for a while, they decide to play along with her. First, Ena takes everyone’s alibi and nails the culprit! It’s Miina! Something about wanting more money and tried to attack Manager while she is tallying today’s sales but Sonico saw her so she followed her to the changing room and assaulted her. Of course this accusation is denied because Miina is a rich girl. Of course it’s a trap from Ena for the true perpetrator: Suzu! WTF?! She’s not making this up, isn’t she? From her handphone, there are expensive stuffs Suzu wanted so she tried to attack the manager but Sonico saw her and you know the rest… But how do you explain the locked door? Manager is in possession of it and has no spare. Another trap! Manager is the true culprit! Sonico and Manager were arguing over the stage fees. They assaulted each other’s boobs and Sonico lost. After that she left and locked the door. Crap… Sonico is about to wake up but Ena wants her to go back to sleep because otherwise she can’t finish her brilliant deduction! Is she that hard up to be a detective? However when Sonico mentions her guitar, the rest notice it is missing. Oh no. Could it be she was really attacked and her guitar stolen?

Checking the place, Ena once again deduces the perpetrator came in via air vent. Using a robot. The little robot unlocked the door for the culprit to enter and assault Sonico before stealing he guitar and then locking it and going back up the vent. Or Sonico must have stumbled to lock the door herself, passed out and rolled over to the tomato juice. I must give her points for her fantasy… But if Sonico was attacked, she would have screamed, right? Then it hit Ena. Because they are going to hold a practice here, who else have they told? That person could be the attacker. Since nobody else told others, it could only mean Sonico could be the one. They check her handphone for any messages but it seems she Twitted it. Oh yeah. Everyone knows about it. Suzu tries to wake up Sonico and put an end to this but Ena is still against it. When Sonico whispers Ena’s name, the rest feel suspicious that she might be the culprit. How else would she know there is a mystery? She wanted to be the greatest detective, right? What better way than to show off her brilliance by making the mystery up herself? Prove your innocence! Ena… Runs away! The rest chase her to the stage where she shows Sonico’s guitar sitting at the corner. Everyone deduces Sonico just fell on her own. In the end when Sonico leaves, the rest find out that she didn’t lock the door. Oh no… Much later, Ena confronts Miina and knows she is the culprit. The door was never locked. She pretended it was locked and made everyone think so. She didn’t want Sonico and co to practice because if they do, they may find out the broken amplifier in which she accidentally spilled water. She saw Sonico unconscious and took this chance to hide her guitar because nobody would suspect her if they don’t know how long the amplifier was broken. Miina admits everything and wanted to tell Manager about it. She wanted to get it fixed before anyone noticed but panicked when she heard about the rehearsal. She is afraid she will get fired. Ena promises she won’t tell anyone because being a detective isn’t to catch criminals but to solve mysteries. Sounding like a pro now, doesn’t she? So who catches criminals? The police of course.

Episode 9
Sonico must be playing too much video games. Some creepy bugs appear but she gets the help of her cats. Kitty Rangers! However after defeating the bugs, they decide to bring it to her… Turns out to be a dream. Sonico had been working hard for her college’s cultural festival and they are doing some marine exhibits. To cover the cost of the exhibits, Sonico and her college friends work as maids (I thought it looked more like sailor outfits) at the festival. Suddenly the light music club president comes running to her for help. The guitarist is out sick and they have a gig at 2pm. Please be her guitarist! Okay. And then… Ouka’s manager comes running to her for help too. Ouka was supposed to do some modelling here but entered a hot dog eating contest. Yeah, she was taken away in an ambulance for overstuffing herself. Can you help Sonico? Okay. It’s going to be a busy schedule but it’ll be fine as long as it’s not double booked. The first cosplay photo shoot goes well. Sonico is embarrassed to see Suzu and Fuuri cheering on her. During the break, she learns she has been entered in a beauty contest. They confront the committee and it seems they’ve gotten her permission a week ago. Yup. She was sleepy over the phone when they asked and said yes to everything. Gulp. Can’t back out now. So Sonico runs back and forth between photo shoots and sound checks. And then another problem crops up. The cafe is doing so well that they ran out of ingredients. They want her to go buy! Oh dear, Sonico. Going to feel the burn out? Suzu puts her feet down and assures everyone to get back to their posts. Suzu knows this will happen and thus is ready to help her out. Sonico is to play in the gig whereas her friends dress up as Sonico for the other schedules. Despite the costume making them look very much like Sonico and you can’t tell the difference, at least the people can tell it’s not the real Sonico from the way they act. Unlike some clone gags in other shows… Suzu helps out with the ingredients in which she calls Sonico’s grandma for help while Fuuri enters the beauty contest but can’t take her eyes off one of the food prizes. Though she didn’t win the beauty contest and just got an honourable mention, everyone pities on this doppelganger and just lets her have the food. At the end of the day, everything went smoothly as Sonico thanks her friends. But there is one more thing left to do. Sonico becomes the host of the marine exhibit to the kids.

Episode 10
A flashback shows how Sonico picked up the stray cats that are now her pets. I thought it looked like they took advantage of her kindness and good nature… Anyway after another job, Sonico stumbles into another little stray cat. She is torn to keep it or leave it because she remembers Suzu’s words about her poor planning will lead to her house being cluttered by cats. But you know… She brings the kitten back and although the other cats would love to get to know this new one, he ignores them since he is currently getting special attention by Sonico. She decides to call this one Rice. Her other cats are called Cha, Siew, Men, Naruto and Ajitama. Glorious food… That night when one of the cats approaches Rice, he got cat-fu by him. Don’t worry about waking up Sonico. She’s a heavy sleeper. Next morning when all the cats wake her up, after she turns off all the alarm clocks, she falls back to sleep. How to wake her up? Rice claws her hand! Instant wakeup call! While Sonico is out, the cats are left to their own device in the room. But it gets boring for Rice. When Sonico returns, Rice immediately tries to dash out but Sonico stops him. Sonico talks to grandma about this and she’ll try to ask if anybody lost their cat the neighbourhood association tomorrow (the cat seems to be of the expensive kind). That night all the cats see this miracle moment of Rice snuggling up close to one of them. But when he realizes it, it’s like he turned tsundere and does his cat-fu again. One day when Sonico comes back, Rice in exact timing dashes out. Sonico is forced to look for him but not before learning from grandma who the owner is. The other cats also get out to ask their feline and canine friends for help. Rice encounters lots of problems. Almost got ran over by a truck and being chased by a dog for accidentally dropping a pot on his head. When all the cats see Rice being cornered by the dog, they do their cat combo attack that leave the dog pretty much confused and defeated. Sonico eventually finds them all and then brings back Rice to his owner who is much grateful. They see Rice’s mommy cat and thus the reason why he wanted to get out and go back. In the aftermath, Rice sometimes ‘run away’ from home but to Sonico’s place just to play with the rest.

Episode 11
Christmas is around the corner and it’s not good news for the local shopping district people. Because a new big department store opened up 3 months ago, sales has been declining. An emergency meeting is called and Suzu becomes the special advisor. Part of the plan is to have girls dressed in sexy Santa outfits. But I suppose everyone is into mature woman because nobody is looking at Ouka… The plan goes well to bring in the customers till the department store brought in idols to compete with them. Love Idol ABC Forever Mountain 109. Geez… This is sure to take away the young customers and some are already queuing in line to meet them! Some old geezers trying to wait in line too? Traitors! Furthermore, our Santa girls are freezing in the cold in such skimpy outfits. Next day, the shopping district is totally empty. Suzu comes up with a plan to have handsome guys dressed as Santa but it seems the department store have gone a step ahead. They have hired an overseas boy band, Dimension Three (D3) to come perform so say goodbye to your woman customers. Some of the girls trying to sneak out to meet them too? Furthermore, they are issuing a stamp system whereby if you get buy and get enough stamps, you get to meet and greet D3! One of the district’s regulars continues to make her purchase here. However her daughter Ayaka is pouting because her friends told her Santa doesn’t exist. Sonico and Suzu confirm that Santa does exist but they need to do more than lip service. Suzu hits an idea. Get a real Santa approved from the Santa World Association. But how they are going to do that? Sonico’s grandma makes the call. She’s speaking in English so the rest probably didn’t know about the blackmail she said. Get Santa here or else you get trouble! Business is brisk but thanks to the department store having a fallout and contract issues with D3. They won’t be coming and this angered the people. Plus, Kitamura is weird appearance is attracting the foreigners to this place. Sonico sees Ayaka fuming at the park. She is mad her dad is a liar because he won’t come home for Christmas as promised. Although mommy brings her home, this has Sonico remember her own situation where daddy didn’t show up and was alone on her birthday. When Sonico goes to pick up Santa, they find he can speak Japanese and is a local. In fact, the event is near his home. He wanted to become Santa for his daughter’s sake as he told her he really exists so he took a certified course to become one when he is on a business trip. It then hit Sonico who this Santa is. Santa is a big hit with the kids at the park as Sonico rushes to bring Ayaka over. Ayaka wonders if Santa has really got her present. Santa has her close her eyes and when she opens them, daddy is here! She is so happy that Santa granted her wish. In the end, everybody had a great time and it’s a big success for the shopping district.

Episode 12
First Astronomical Velocity puts up a New Year concert. Since it will be boring if this entire final episode would be a music video, in between songs we here Sonico becoming like a Grammy award winner thanking everybody who made this concert possible. For instance, although they had saved enough money for this concert, even hiring a bigger and cheaper stage with cheaper lightning, etc, it was the cost of the professional technician that is going to kill them. So when Sonico went back to grandma’s place and looked worried, everyone hears her out and agrees to chip in since she helped them out and now it’s the time to return the favour. Suzu had Manager supply amplifiers and even Ena helped out with the ‘mystery solving’ by providing transportation of the equipment. Sonico’s college mates help out with the promotional posters while Miina wants to stream her concert live so that all the other characters we see in this series who aren’t able to attend get to see it live. Halfway through the concert and just about starting the next song, 2 of Sonico’s guitar strings snap. As Fuuri buys them time with her guitar solo, Sonico is in a bigger pinch as she doesn’t have an extra guitar or remember where she put those extra strings. Then grandma goes on stage and entertains the crowd with her own rock rendition. Wow! This grandma rocks! Brings back memories to those old guys when she was at the peak of her idol career. Yeah, truly their goddess. The extra strings are found and tuned in time. I don’t know, I thought Sonico should have perhaps asked to borrow grandma’s guitar. Nothing like your own guitar, eh? Going back on stage, the girls continue rocking as they think back the many things that happened throughout the year (read: montage of selected scenes for this series). With the clock striking midnight soon, Sonico leads the crowd to have a countdown with her to welcome the New Year. Of course, that goes without saying that they continue rocking well into the New Year. Next day, Sonico posts a big thank you to everyone who came to the concert on a social media. And as always, waking up late for college. Some things never change.

Rock On, Girls?
Let me just say this. I think fans of Sonico will only appreciate this anime therefore casual viewers like myself who aren’t into this character would find the episodes to be, uhm, boring? That would be a strong word for you Sonico fans out there but seriously, although I do not find the anime bad, it is just that it lacks something that should retain my attention. I won’t go so far to say it was hell of a boring that I was keeping count of my yawns (I don’t think I even yawned, which is a good sign, no?), but something in this series lacks the oomph to make it memorable in the long run. I know the first thing you want to tell me is her well-endowed figure, huge busts and sexy curves which are perhaps the biggest (no pun intended) thing to attract the fan boys. But this isn’t an ecchi themed anime so it doesn’t really work as they’re not spamming bust shots or anything.

There isn’t really any plot with this anime and I can say that each episode can work as a standalone. In this sense, it causes the lack of something to look forward or anticipate. So far the most interesting episode is Ena’s debut since that episode was a locked room mystery solver and I was trying to beat Ena in her game by deducing what happened. Although I had a feeling Miina was the culprit all along, it was just a hunch and I was far off from the actual conclusion of what really happened. Sonico’s solo journey was interesting but yet a little bore to me because despite it tells her journey of self-discovery and introspection in a different pace from other episodes, her interactions with other minor characters along the way just doesn’t seem to captivate me. Perhaps the stargazing party with the beautiful stars at the end was worth the watch. With a long list and piles of animes to watch, this is one show where you’ll just feel good for the moment and then after watching a few other animes, you’ll forget about it. That’s why as I said, only Sonico fans will only know how to appreciate this series but even as an anime adaptation itself, I am not sure if it sat well with the fans. Heck, I am not that free to go looking around the internet and look for comments on this show.

I don’t know what to say about the character Sonico herself. Trying to give her some personality like being a very heavy sleeper and a clumsy airhead, I am not sure if the real her is so. But I guess it makes her lovable although generally she feels quite generic (without a guitar in hand, that is). Her band mates also feels generic and don’t stand out much (not because they have smaller busts, mind you) because Suzu as the band leader is the one who is more energetic and lively while Fuuri’s habit to stuff anything in her mouth if she is not drumming seems to become somewhat of a running joke in this series. Uh huh. She loves eating so much and just about any food gets her to salivate, it’s a big wonder why she doesn’t add on to the pounds. Maybe it all goes into her boobs. Oops. Other minor characters are okay too but nothing that leaves a lasting impression or any impact overall. Like Ouka, she is probably here to satisfy those lolicons and flat chests lovers who aren’t so into those ‘lump of fats around the chest’. And it feels like a funny running joke too about her big break debut. She never gets it. Keep waiting for that big break one day, my little dear. Grandma is the biggest supporting character for Sonico. She’s always there for her and giving her the encouragement. I guess she has the experience and knows what Sonico is going through as she has experienced it herself. Thus you can see the eternal smile on her face which gives Sonico the much needed strength and encouragement.

If I had to pick the ‘best’ character of this series, I would certainly choose Kitamura! This guy is just odd and quirky with his demon mask on but despite all that, he is a professional and cares a lot for Sonico. I certainly would love to see more scenes of him because he was just cool unleashing his katana hiding in the back of his jacket. It’s a sign that you don’t want to mess with him. Come to think of it, I think he is partly the reason why there aren’t enough fanservice in this series. We have seen how protective he is when others suggest Sonico to reveal more skin, right? So think about it. Each time we want to fantasize our own ecchi fantasies of Sonico (which guy wouldn’t with a busty girl?), suddenly Kitamura’s scary demonic mask, glowing fire hair and hot steam coming out of his mouth make us think twice if we should even dream of such perverted thoughts on Sonico. Yes, this is quite effective in a way. You can’t even have dirty thoughts about Sonico without worrying that Kitamura will be just standing behind your back. That’s why in a way it’s such a turn off. Better not have impure thoughts on the main character. Better put your best behaviour when she’s around. Or else who knows how this demon will cut you up in different ways. Thank goodness nobody died in this anime.

As music is the big feature of this anime, however I am not so much into rock music unless it is very appealing. And because I do not find the songs Sonico sang to my taste, another reason why I do not find much enjoyment. The songs are not bad actually but it is just that it doesn’t appeal to me. So for every episode it features a different ending song by First Astronomical Velocity. Since those songs do not last more than an episode, it is even worse for me to find one that is memorable. You know, when you see or hear something a few times, you may start to like it. I know I can just replay the songs again but what are the chances since they aren’t that appealing already. Probably the closest one that got the little of my attention was that slow rock ballad in episode 7 (Sonico’s solo journey in Niigata), Star Rain.

But ironically to me the most interesting aspect isn’t the songs but the ending credits animation. Sonico in CGI means her movements are so, uhm, CGI. Odd. But what is even amusing are some of the animation themes. The ‘best’ one was Sonico in some horror survival scene fighting hordes of zombies. Hmm… Sonico with a chainsaw? Paying homage to Lollipop Chainsaw? And then dancing with the zombies? Tribute to Michael Jackson’s Thriller? Other ‘memorable’ ending credits animation include Sonico turning giant size like Godzilla, dancing with other live mascots, Sonico wearing an over-sized teddy bear head, the designing of Sonico from CGI wires to her little plastic model self in which she is ‘brought to life’ and a heart-warming story of Sonico as a stray cat who became a pet of her master who is a moustachioed cat. For the record, the opening theme is fixed, entitled Supasoni.

The voice acting feels okay but there is something odd that I want to point out. I have this feeling that the producers wanted to keep the person who voiced Sonico a secret because in the end credits, it is listed the one who voices Sonico is… Sonico! WTF?! I did not look around the internet much but it seems from the comments and the lack of information, there is no official statement to say that Ayano Yamamoto is the voice behind Sonico. Even in her resume it is omitted. So how do I know it is her? Not me. Other people and fans. Many recognize her to be the voice behind Robotics; Notes and Steins; Gates’ Nae Tennouji. My theory is that if she was officially credited for this mascot girl, fan boys are going to hound her like hell and she can kiss her privacy goodbye. Unlike Hatsune Miku whose voice is created by a singing synthesizer application so there is a chance that obsessed fans who couldn’t get enough of her voice would want to see her in person to. Hmm… At certain angles, I think she looks a bit like Sonico too. The hair cut? Coincidence? Just Google her image brings up a handful of her pictures in gravure worthy swimsuit poses…

The other seiyuu casts include Mai Goto as Suzu (Mika in Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu), Mami Ozaki as Fuuri (Hana in Girls Und Panzer), Ryota Takeuchi as Kitamura (Albion in High School DxD New), Hisako Kanemoto as Ouka (Ika in Shinryaku! Ika Musume), Kikuko Inoue as Sonico’s grandma (Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama), Shizuka Itou as Toma (Hinagiku in Hayate No Gotoku), Yui Sakakibara as Ena (Hamaji in H2O ~Footprints In The Sand~), Yui Makino as Miina (Sakura in Tsubasa Chronicle), Megumi Toyoguchi as Sayaka (Chifuyu in Infinite Stratos), Atsuko Tanaka as Kabuko (Caster in Fate/Stay Night) and Kane Oki as Manager (Akie in Jigoku Shoujo: Mitsuganae).

In general, despite having a cute and well-endowed mascot, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee success of a good anime if it lacks some sort of plot (unless you’re talking about nonsensical slapstick comedy then it is forgivable that there is no plot) and lack of interesting supporting characters. Music is only if you are fans of this type of genre and even casual listeners wouldn’t go too deep into it. Ultimately, the mascot is to serve its purpose of what it is made for: Advertising the company’s product and create such awareness to the public. Sonico just proved that with her venture into the animated industry, it has at least reached a larger demographic of anime viewers like yours truly who don’t play Japanese type games. But even so, a cutie like her isn’t enough to make me want to go buy their games. Not even if she is dresses up as a maid.

What in blazes?! The only reason why an anime for women’s pro wrestling is made is because of fanservice, right? What else reason do you need to watch Sekai De Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai? And to top that, they have an idol doing pro wrestling! If having your cute pretty idol sing and prance on stage isn’t enough, here they make the idol wear tight leotards and do some body slam into the ring. If that is not fanservice, I don’t know what is. Well, that didn’t stop me from checking it out. Hehehe… And no, this won’t be some sort of musical either. What do I mean? Idols singing while slamming and grappling in the ring. No, no. That is just wrong. That is so wrong. So let’s just stick to the formula of girls doing wrestling in the ring for some eye candy fanservice. Make that lots of eye candy services. Still want to know the plot? Who needs the plot when all we care about is the fanservice, right? Oh… I said that word so much. It just shows how much of it there is in this series.

Episode 1
Right from the start you can hear the screams of Sakura Hagiwara. The kind that may get you thinking if it’s pleasure or pain. Okay, so it’s the latter since she’s in a painful submission move from Rio Kazama. How the heck did she get into this mess? Sakura is part of an idol group called Sweet Diva and she just beat her fellow comrade Elena Miyazawa in total votes for the centre vocalist position. Elena isn’t happy about it but she has to show her good faith since she’s in the idol business. Their manager Makoto Kirishima has lots of other activities lined up for the group. One of them being pro wrestling trial lesson. Don’t ask. They say it’s a pretty popular sport currently. Sakura volunteers to be part of it but Elena doesn’t want her to hog anymore of the spotlight and volunteers herself. They are at the training gym of Berserk, female pro wrestlers with real strength and part of the Shangri-La world circuit. Elena learns Sakura volunteered for this because she saw everyone afraid of taking this up. She wants to protect their group and being together with everyone is a place she wants to be. Because Elena is fooling around in the ring, Rio tells her off for doing something silly to their sacred stage. But Elena laughs it off and this task will be easy. She gets provoked when Rio calls her naive and will take on her pro moves right now. But she is made to eat humble pie after a few excruciating submission moves. How’s that for pain? Because Rio continues to badmouth those bimbo idols, Sakura couldn’t take it anymore and challenges her in their next live match. Rio accepts this as a Cabellera Contra Cabellera match. Cabe what?

Thanks to that, the stadium is packed with people. Record attendance. Yeah. Sakura’s fans. Can they see their idol getting beat up? If so, what can they do? The match starts and it seems Rio is purposely letting Sakura beat her up. But it’s just to gauge her power. It’s that all she’s got? Now Rio gets serious and shows her what pro wrestling moves are. Here comes the pain! No mercy! She even makes an embarrassing submission move on her, forcing her to spread her legs open. All the cameras snapping away… Good or bad thing? Even after all that punishment, Sakura won’t give up. She passes out when Rio uses her ultimate Sleeper Hold move. Rio wins the match and because of that Cabe thingy, Sakura must cut her hair as it is what it was bet on. This is something horrifying especially for an idol to lose her hair. Sakura agrees to it since she lost and will keep her word. It must be painful for her hardcore fans to watch. Even more painful to see her crying while her hair is being cut short. Sakura is fine with everything and could take all the insults Rio spewed until she badmouthed her idol group. That’s when Sakura wants a rematch. She will train and become a pro wrestler and beat her. Bring it! A centre vocalist becoming a pro wrestler? This is sure going to make the headlines.

Episode 2
Sakura is bent on going pro to win against Rio for she has stepped on the pride of Sweet Diva. Who will be the centre vocalist then? Will it be Elena? In an interview, she still considers Sakura as the centre vocalist and will do what she will have to do. Sakura meets the president of Berserk, Seiichi Inoba and Ryo Nishihara will be her coach. On her first day, she is put through rigorous training on par with some of the amateurs. Is this Ryo’s plan to make her see the harsh reality of pro reality and make her quit? But Sakura won’t give up with all the hardcore training. Even when Ryo throws her into the ring and does all the advanced submission moves and chokes on her. Ryo is impressed with her determination and feels she might have more potential than Misaki Toyoda. The training continues (including cleaning toilets) and although Ryo and Misaki report she has made some good physical progress, she doesn’t know the true face of pro wrestling yet. It is perhaps why she is fearless and may be blind stubbornness. It’s time to give her a test. For Sakura to make her ring debut, she needs to withstand 100 throws from 10 wrestlers! That’s what you call the Hell of 100 Throws, a Berserk special. The first throw is already a killer. 99 more to go… With each throw, Sakura gets back up, impressing the other wrestlers. They never thought she would make it this far. Rio is the last wrestler for the final 10 throws. Every pain decreases her energy and she is on the verge of blacking out. Finally on the last throw, it seems Sakura is knocked out. The rest tell her to get up or else it won’t count. And what do you know? She gets up. So now are you impressed? This settles it. Sakura will make her pro debut. Ryo knows Rio did not give it all in her last slam and held back. Why? She needs Sakura to turn pro so she can settle it all. Sakura’s first opponent will be Chinatsu Suzumoto, a second year wrestler and a promising one. Sakura puts all that she has learnt into the ring but she got caught off-guard and ended up in a Boston Crab move. It hurts so much that she could die and had no choice but to give up. Chinatsu takes the win and despite the bitter lost, both girls had fun (was Sakura? She was particularly screaming) and hope to fight each other again. Sakura’s loyal fans also cheer on her since she is way better than last time.

Episode 3
Although Sakura enters more matches, she has been on a losing streak. Yeah. 10 straight losses. To a point where her fans gave up on her. So much about their loyalty. There are only 3 of them left by the way. They too start to have doubts about her because she seems different than her days in Sweet Diva. All she ever does is give up. And so there is only 1 fan left… Would you believe it, 45 straight losses! And it’s the same move every time! Boston Crab! WTF?! So predictable! Boring as hell! Can you blame the people for booing at her and telling her to quit? Even her lone fan is made to shut up. The sell out match between challenger Yumbo Yamamoto and defending champion Misaki will decide the BWQ title. True to her looks, Yumbo plays dirty and although I am not knowledgeable in wrestling, is it legal to have her underlings enter the ring to help out? I know referees are useless but look at this one, in addition to slamming objects on her (which I believe is the ‘norm’ in WWE matches), they even use a rope to strangle her?! Or even a wooden sword?! Is this even legal?! But what Sakura sees in Misaki’s eyes is that she never gave up. After all that punishment, Misaki turns the tables. I don’t know why Sakura and the other Berserk girls didn’t do this earlier, because they should have just entered the ring and restrain all of Yumbo’s underlings. Doing so seals Misaki’s victory. Sakura is motivated to become like her. However… Despite Sweet Diva making big waves, it is still the same for Sakura. More painful losses by giving up. With 50 straight losses, she has broke the team’s new record and given a whole new meaning to the biggest loser. This has her reflect if she should just quit. But if she does, will her fans accept her back? It’s like she is running away. Where will she go if she quits pro wrestling? Next day, she is about to hand her resignation to the president but Misaki is outside and knows what is going on. She wants to spar with Sakura tonight. The duo alone begin their sparring and Sakura knows she can’t beat Misaki with strength and tries some grapple techniques. However Misaki easily gets out and grapples Sakura with the same move but with more pain. After every grapple and submission move, here comes the dreaded Boston Crab. Oh God. Not again. This is the most painful one. Sakura gives up but Misaki tells her there is no such thing as that here. They are the only ones around. No spectators, no referees. So it’s up to her to think how to get out of this if she doesn’t want her hip bones to break. Looks like the pain will continue…

Episode 4
Reporter Kanae Fujishita sees Misaki’s secret training. Misaki even gives Sakura hints to use her upper body strength to move. Move, damn it! It might seem a big relief when Misaki releases one of her leg but the Single Leg Boston Crab is double lethal as the opponent piles more pressure. But this gives Sakura a fighting chance to use her body to move to the ropes. It took a lot of screaming and yelling till Sakura finally firmly grabbing the ropes. The pain is finally over. Misaki gives her a pep talk about strength and pro wrestling. If she cries and gives up just after this much, she isn’t fit to be a wrestler. At the rate she’s going, she doesn’t qualify, right? Today’s lesson should teach her something and it also shows that she can also do it. Once she’s done it, she should be able to understand some things. Misaki then takes her resignation letter and will keep it for now. Kanae talks to Misaki about her personal training. They know she has talent but her title as idol makes her stand out too much and might be brought down by extreme bashing before she could reach her potential. If that happens, it just shows her calibre as an athlete. So in Sakura’s next match. Again… Boston Crab… You’ve got to be kidding me. The audience are pissed. They want their money back. Give up now and save them the pain! At times Sakura wanted to really give up but remembering Misaki’s words, she makes her way to the ropes. This surprises the audience and suddenly they start cheering for her! The support gives Sakura the much needed power to grab the ropes. But it’s not over. The opponent does a few more painful slams. But Sakura doesn’t give up. In the end, Sakura lost but hey, at least it’s not the Boston Crab. The amazing thing is that everybody starts cheering for Sakura! Finally, something different! Right after the match, Sakura wants Misaki to teach her to become a pro wrestling. Sure. Just prepare yourself for hell training. Right now? Yes. You’ve been warned…

Episode 5
Since Sakura is away doing pro wrestling, Sweet Diva takes another national vote to fill in the centre vocalist position. Elena wins by a mile but she is still not satisfied. Because it feels she has not beaten Sakura. Sakura’s training continues and you can see some improvements. Sakura experiences her first match from an opposing team. They use dirty tricks. Although Sakura is wiser this time (even giving her opponent the Boston Crab move), they use dirty tricks and illegal moves to slow her down. In the end, Sakura loses out on victory by a whisker. At least her fans are back to support her. But there is another good news: Her revenge match with Rio is arranged. Sakura ponders that she has trained so much and gotten stronger, why can’t she win once? Yeah. She already lost 65 times straight! Misaki advises that she lacks her own special move. How do you learn that? Well, duh! You have to find it yourself. Copying others would be a no-no too. This special move thingy has Sakura preoccupied. So much so her comrades become ‘guinea pigs’ as she tests out her special move. And that was just a casual greeting. Caught by surprise? One night thinking at the park, Sakura is surprised to see Elena. It has been a long time and they catch up on stuffs. Sakura is more worried if she can put up a good fight with Rio rather than coming back to Sweet Diva if she wins. Elena prefers her to smile so she starts dancing like they used too. Sakura joins in and then it hit her. She got an idea for her special move. The days draw closer to the revenge match. Kanae interviews Rio who brushes off Sakura as some loser stalking her forever. Sakura continues her training which I would like to say the scenes bring back uncanny resemblance to Rocky… On the night of the revenge match, the stadium is packed. Probably even more than the concert of Sweet Diva. Sakura’s Sweet Diva girls are here to support her as well as her fans. Time for the showdown.

Episode 6
At first Sakura seems to be doing great at first but she gets tricked by Rio. She does her favourite Boston Crab on her and wants to beat her this way. Sakura is able to grab the ropes but this only gives her temporary reprieve. Because Rio once again does the Boston Crab on her and this time she blocks her movements so she won’t move so easily. Sakura won’t give up despite the tremendous pain. How could she when the entire stadium is cheering her name. Sakura is able to head for the ropes and break free. Since Boston Crab won’t work anymore, Rio does her Sleeper Hold move. I’m not sure if Sakura really did pass out there or was just feigning because she comes back to live and struggles like hell to break free of her stranglehold. Rio purposely doesn’t end the match so she could slam more pain into her. Just as Rio is about to jump and finish her off, Sakura rolls away so Rio bears the pain of slamming herself into the ground. Sakura begins her counter attack and pays back Rio with a Boston Crab move! Give up? Not quite. It’s going to take more than that. Sakura even uses the Sleeper Hold move back on her. After a few more slams, Rio is getting serious not to lose and smacks her flat out. But Rio also collapses as she has taken in lots of slam. Will it be double KO? Not quite. Not when the crowd is calling for Sakura and the loudest one has to be Elena screaming her name. With both wrestlers back up, it’s time for Sakura to do her special move. She gets into an idol position that her fans instantly recognize. Rio charges but misses because Sakura ducks. Then she does a flip kick somersault! The hard double kick on Rio’s jaw knocks her out!!! For the first time, Sakura wins! The 66th match breaks her losing streak! Hearing everyone calling her name felt good, eh? Rio admits defeat and that Sakura has become stronger. But now that she has achieved her goal of beating her, what are her plans now? After Sakura’s short speech of why she took wrestling up to avenge her friend, blah, blah, blah, the journey made her realize she wants to keep winning and get stronger. She loves pro wrestling and wants to continue! This doesn’t sit well with some of her surprised fans and especially her Sweet Diva members. Does this mean she is not coming back? The hardest hit has got to be Elena. She’s really heartbroken, crying… Rio and Sakura shake hands, renew their rival-cum-friendship of the ring.

Episode 7
The world number wrestler, Jackal Tojo returns to Japan. To commemorate this special event, a special match between her and Misaki is scheduled. There is also a Rookie All Star Match that Jackal is interested to watch to see what new rough diamonds have been coughed up. This gets all the rookies motivate to start training. Want to be noticed? Seems Jackal, Misaki and Kanae know each other. They were once wrestlers in many years ago. Kanae had to withdraw due to a back injury and Misaki was Jackal’s disciple. Back then, Jackal gave the same no-giving-up treatment training to Misaki that she passed down to Sakura. Meanwhile Sweet Diva wins some top idol award thanks to their overwhelming fan support. But of course, Elena isn’t happy. Sakura could have been here together. Although the shock of her continuing pro wrestling still lingers, the Sweet Diva members agree to support Sakura’s decision. Not Elena. She somehow can’t accept it. Misaki is in another BWQ title fight. However her mind is too preoccupied with Jackal’s words that she saw potential in Sakura. She can still overwhelm her opponent while thinking all that? Unfortunately she got careless. As she climbs the ring post and is about to jump, she slips. This one has got to hurt. Misaki is hospitalized for fracturing her ankle. She will be out for a few weeks and they can’t cancel the special match. Refunding will cause them to go bankrupt. Easy. Find a substitute. She will choose one from the Rookie All Star Match. Why not choose one that is more established? Because there are none currently that can live up to her standards so it’s best to take on an up and coming wrestler. Sweet Diva does the opening gig for the Rookie All Star Match. Jackal watches every match and looks like Sakura has caught her attention especially with her somersault special that once again knocks out her opponent. Chinatsu is supposed to face an opponent from Miyabi team when suddenly a mysterious masked wrestler dubbed Blue Panther (supposedly Miyabi’s ‘assassin’) enters the ring to challenge her. Chinatsu is overwhelmed by every move of hers. In addition, Blue Panther barely moves from her spot. In a matter of seconds, Chinatsu is defeated. Sakura chides Blue Panther for hindering a match that was supposed to show their progress. Blue Panther leaves coolly without saying a word. Jackal sees that fiery burning passion in Sakura’s eyes. She has decided. Sakura will be the one to fight her.

Episode 8
Sakura does a few drop kicks on Jackal but nothing that impresses her. Jackal begins her counter attack by dishing out a few basic grapple moves and several variations of Camel Clutch followed by deathlock moves. Then here comes the Boston Crab one and even if it hurts like hell, Sakura won’t give up. However it seems Jackal eases off a little so that Sakura can fight back. With Sakura being able to move, now it’s her turn to counter attack with Boston Crab. Even doing her somersault special does not do very much damage. It’s like Jackal purposely stood there to take the kicks. Sakura does Misaki’s special move on her but that too did not work. However the next move surprises Jackal. She does a variation of Misaki’s special move. Seems Sakura did not come up with this move on the spot. During training, Misaki taught her this move as she wanted to use it on Jackal during their match. Since she couldn’t she passed on this technique to her. Jackal might be surprised but she’s got a lot of energy to be pinned down. Sakura has run out of tricks so Jackal ‘thanks’ her for showing everything she’s got. Now it’s her turn. Jackal imposes some of her special moves like Piledriver, Bow and Arrow, Meteor Suplex and Finish Hold but each time whenever Sakura is about to give up, she releases her as if she wants to continue this torture on her. But on Sakura’s part, she still manages to withstand all the pain and Jackal is impressed that she is the same as them. The kind who can inspire dreams. Sakura is taken out with Jackal’s Super Galaxy move. I guess that’s it for her. Sakura’s fans must be disappointed that she came close to an upset victory but seriously, you’re taking on a world champion and survived so I think it’s good enough. Sakura realizes many points in the match Jackal went easy on her when she could have won. It is to entertain the fans and make room for her to shine. This must be the gap between her and a world class champion. As usual, the wrestlers have to make their end speech. Sakura’s reiterates her love for pro wrestling, wants to be the strongest in the world and vows to defeat Jackal one day. That day would be in the Shangri-La circuit if she makes it that far. Later Jackal meets Misaki and knows she thought her that move. Misaki thanks Jackal for giving Sakura some great experience. Jackal also learnt a thing or two. She was supposed to finish off Sakura with her Comet Buster move but Sakura broke through with her own strength. She went above and beyond her expectations to the very end and might one day surpass them.

Episode 9
The fight with Jackal was awesome. Sakura’s speech was inspiring. And thus that is how high school girl, Moe Fukuoka got so interested in pro wrestling. She enters Berserk like her own home and plays around with the ring. She doesn’t listen to others even if it’s Rio. So she is challenged if she can take down Rio, she’ll be allowed to use the gym however she wants. With a swift kick close to the face, Rio falls down! OMG! Was she shocked by the lightning kick? Turns out that Inoba is Moe’s uncle and currently the high school karate champion. She squeals in delight after seeing Sakura and wants to train with her. Sakura will be her mentor and will accept nobody else. Yeah. Overnight, Sakura just became a teacher. She gives the harsh training she underwent like the favourite Boston Crab but Moe doesn’t give up easily. She even steals the lines she wants to say. Meanwhile Jackal visits Miyabi and sees their top wrestler, Juri Sanada. She knows she was the Blue Panther and wants to know why she crashed into an official match. Juri admits she is that masked wrestler and her aim is to fight Sakura. After a month, Moe has the chance to make her pro debut. That’s right. Hell of 100 Throws. Moe withstands all the slams and Sakura takes over for the final 10. Moe amazingly passes. She wants Sakura as her debut opponent and since she is okay with it, I guess that pretty much settles it. However before that match, Sakura must fight Rio again. Since the score is tied a piece each, this match will settle everything between them once and for all. Before the match starts, Blue Panther crashes in again and knocks out Rio with Sleeper Hold. So effective that Rio had to be stretchered away. Blue Panther reveals her aim to fight Sakura because she isn’t impressed that an amateur like her can easily get into the ring. It’s like she’s taking pro wrestling lightly. If Sakura loses their fight, she must retire from pro wrestling forever. Sakura goes against Misaki’s advice not to accept it since Blue Panther mocked her Berserk pals. She accepts the fight but with condition that if she loses, she must unmask herself and apologize. So the fight is on. But what will be of Sakura and Rio’s fight? Because Blue Panther just fled like blue lightning and Rio is totally out. You mean the fight is not now? Can the audience get a refund?

Episode 10
First, we tackle Moe’s debut match with Sakura. As it gets along, Moe is using her karate chops with her punches and kicks. Is this a wrestling or karate match? This has Sakura review back what Moe asked her. She was asked if she missed being an idol. In order to become a pro wrestler, Moe abandoned everything in karate. She knows she cannot go back to karate and is nervous. She can’t give up halfway either. That’s why she can’t stop thinking if she did the right thing. Moe catches Sakura by surprise with some of her grapple moves. However as an amateur, she didn’t know how to pace herself and loses stamina, allowing Sakura to come back. At several times Sakura wants to end the match seeing Moe is out of steam but each time she is pinned down, Moe gets back up. It’s like she refuses to throw in the towel. Sakura finally knocks her out with her somersault move. Although Moe lost, she had fun. So did the crowd. They can expect her to be stronger next time. Sakura trains with Rio before her match with Blue Panther. From Misaki, they know Blue Panther is Juri. She and Misaki were from Berserk and always competed till she left to form Miyabi a year ago. In terms of ranking, Juri ranks higher than Misaki in the Shangri-La circuit. We shift our attention to Sweet Diva for a moment. After completing their nationwide tour, they will be departing for a world tour. Everyone’s work hard and excited but Elena… And so the match between Sakura and Blue Panther is here. It’s a match both sides can’t lose. It’ll be a shame if Sakura retires. I mean, Rio is starting to like her, right? Before the match starts, Blue Panther walks up to Sakura and unmasks herself. She doesn’t need it anymore because she came this far. Guess who? It can’t be Juri because she’s sitting next to Jackal. OMG! OMG! OMFG!!!! BLUE PANTHER IS ELENA!!!!!!!!! Didn’t see this coming, huh, Sakura? Can she bring herself to fight her idol friend-cum-rival?

Episode 11
Why Elena? Why?! She’s here to take Sakura back to Sweet Diva and find out her true feelings. If Sakura wants to continue pro wrestling, she must beat her and sever ties with Sweet Diva. Because if she doesn’t have the resolve, there is no point continuing. Elena doesn’t waste any time getting at Sakura like as though she’s her worst enemy. Juri explains that a week after Sakura defeated Rio, she felt guilty for making Sakura go to pro wrestling and wanted to experience the same pain as her. It’s amazing she managed to take some time out of her hectic idol schedule to train every day. She was so determined that Juri wanted to respond to that determination and saw great expectations in her. From that day Elena donned the mask known as Blue Panther and trained hard as she felt the only way to bring Sakura back was by her own hands. However up till now, Juri was the one who donned the Blue Panther mask when she crashed into official matches. Jackal feels how similar this tragic story is. For Sakura-Elena case was something that happened to Misaki-Juri a long time ago. Elena does not relent and goes on the offensive, piling the pressure to force Sakura to give up but she won’t. The fight even falls outside the ring (only legal for 20 seconds. WTF) and Elena doesn’t even hesitate to continue her Kneebar move. More Kneebar back in the ring and this scene hurts Elena more than Sakura. But the crowd loves it because it’s not just idol bimbos in a cat fight but real pro wrestling. Hmm… Idols duking it out in the ring. A treat or nightmare? Any more Kneebar moves will definitely break Sakura’s leg. Sakura manages to pin Elena down but the referee delays in counting which allows Elena to bounce back. Seems Elena is almost at her limit. Due to the lack of real fights, she doesn’t have the stamina and experience and the signs are showing. I mean, she can’t be going around to gain such experience if she’s going to keep her double life a secret, right? Now it’s Sakura’s turn to fight back. Boston Crab for her and the Kneebar right back at her. However due to her weakened leg, Sakura’s somersault move packs no punch. Just when Sakura thought she had Elena in her grasp, the latter slips from it and pulls off Juri’s special move and locks her in a Spider’s Web. So hard the lock that Sakura passes out. Oh no. Could she be done for real?

Episode 12
The power of Misaki’s voice must have woke up Sakura. Enough power to even lift Elena still locking her into the air and slam! The exchange of blows even continues temporarily outside the ring. Elena can see for herself why Sakura is strong. There is resilience in her moves that makes her don’t want to lose. Sakura once more does the somersault but this is not to finish her. She gets on the ring post and jumps. Elena is too weak to move and takes the full brunt of the slam. The referee counts to three and Sakura wins! Now that the fighting is over, it’s time for some emotional drama. Although Elena admits defeat, she starts crying she can’t let this go. She cannot accept things as it is and really wants her to come back to Sweet Diva. She can only be herself when Sakura is around. It is her dream to compete with her and make Sweet Diva the best idol group in the world. The fans are also calling for Sakura’s return. If that’s not enough, the rest of the Sweet Diva members are here too. Sakura, please come back! However this dilemma isn’t just Sakura’s problem as she has now 2 sets of fans. The Sweet Diva Sakura fan and the pro wrestling Sakura fan. Since she can’t decide, Jackal enters the ring. She wants Sakura to come to Shangri-La where her next stage should be. Sakura would love to be on the world stage but she feels she can’t cut off Sweet Diva entirely. Jackal doesn’t see a problem. Because she’s going to do both! Because being an idol and pro wrestler involves moving the hearts of millions and Sakura has what it takes. But can she handle both? It’s not the question of can or not. She will! Because she has things she cannot abandon, don’t abandon them. Whether she makes it half-assed or not is up to her. Not just Sakura but Elena as well. She too will do both. But what about the promise of this match that the loser must retire? Juri tells her not to lie to herself. From the match, she herself knows that she wants to continue and get stronger. With the fans chanting Sakura and Elena’s name, it’s time to give their answer. They’ll do both and give it their best shot to provide first class entertainment and be the world’s strongest. That nicely said, everybody is happy. Which means the fighting ring has just become a stage for Sweet Diva to put on a concert. How convenient. Sweet Diva strut their stuff much to the fan’s delight and Sakura hasn’t lost her touch as an idol. Few months down the road, seems this is the hectic schedule for Sakura and Elena. After every idol concert, they rush (in this scene, run by foot) to the wrestling stadium. Geez, can’t they take a taxi? To say, they’ve got lots of energy to get there, get into a wrestling match and then get back for another idol concert? Crazy! But they just love it.

Specials
What is the use of having such fanservice if you don’t take full advantage of it and put it into short 3 minutes DVD specials? Although there are 6 of them, I only watched the first 5. The first 3 specials see Sakura in some sort of special training with Misaki (and joined in by other fellow Berserk wrestlers, especially Kanae who is eager to enter the fray). Yeah. A blatant excuse to see the girls in fanservice-y ambiguous moves and positions and including bare tits. Heck, there is even some sort of history from the past how this training came to be. Special 1 has them in mud wrestling, Special 2 has them in oil wrestling and Special 3 has them soaking in a very hot boiling tub. I don’t know how such training can be considered to be the final steps in becoming a true Berserk pro wrestler. Okay, maybe you have got to respect them for being able to move and grapple in such situations. But then again, remember why we are here for? For the remaining 3 specials, it is a tag team match between Sakura-Misaki against Yumbo-Hornet for the BWQ title in a best-of-three-rounds. Special 4 sees Sakura-Misaki taking the first round easily before baddies Yumbo-Hornet owning Sakura with lots of pain and take the second round. And in Special 5, Sakura’s beat up continues but she manages to tag in Misaki to deliver the decisive blow for the win. Of course Yumbo and Hornet being true baddies aren’t going to take this loss quietly as they launch a full assault on the duo. Yeah, playing dirty but that’s what this kind of wrestling is about. With our heroines in a pinch, can they turn the tables in their favour? Although I didn’t see Special 6 (as it hasn’t come out at this time), I have a good idea how it will turn out. Unless…

Scream Fest! Fellowship Of The Ring!
Well… Am I entertained? As far as this anime is concerned, then yes. Because there are busty babes and some cool wrestling moves that kept me glued to the screen instead of catching myself yawning. Thank God none of the latter. So that is why in terms of such definition of entertainment as an anime from an average otaku guy like me, yes, this series has its fair share of entertainment value. I won’t go so far to say it has top quality entertainment because I wasn’t screaming for a sequel when it ends nor do I crave to see more women pro wrestling or the slightest bit get interested in the sport that WWE of America is so famous for. And that is so much about it.

My main gripe in the series (of course I have them) is the screaming. Mostly from Sakura in the first half of the series when she is an amateur. It was disheartening and to a point annoying to hear her screaming in pain but I guess when you are in that painful submission position, it is only natural for us to be screaming out loud. Sometimes I pity Sakura for being twisted into almost such un-human-like positions but that is what wrestling is all about. But the way she screams really got to me that I had to lower my volume whenever she does that or else my family members would be thinking I am watching some sort of kinky sex video. Really! I kid you not! As the series progresses, although Sakura still screams, it is more ‘bearable’ because I guess once you have gotten too much of the same punishment, you get immune to it. There is less ‘annoyance’ in her screaming like as though she has learnt to control it as a pro.

One of the best and interesting parts of this series is the pro wrestling moves. What? You were expecting me to say the fanservice? Hold on. We’ll get to that later but I want to make a point that the wrestling moves here are interesting. At least from an otaku who knows nothing about the wrestling world. As cautioned at the end of each episodes, each of the moves seen here are real so viewers are strongly advised not to try them anywhere, anytime and on anybody. Let professionals handle it. So you can bet that all the moves are definitely real and do exist and not made up or even go as far as some sort of super power magical stunt. Phew. I don’t know if that qualifies as pro wrestling anymore. Probably I was too absorbed in watching the wrestling (and mind you, not the girls) that sometimes I feel the pain too. Get what I mean? Watching the girls bend their bodies that sometimes would make gymnastics look like child’s play, at times I could feel myself clutching my own leg, hands, body, back or whatever part I could grab on while watching the pain of the submission move. The thought of their bones may break any time also made me mine feel as brittle and could break just by watching. Not even the fanservice could save this part. For me. The body bending was just too overwhelming in some scenes.

Okay, now to the fanservice part. Being a women’s pro wrestling sport, viewers would already beforehand know that there will be lots of boobs shoots and crotch shots especially when the wrestlers do their submission move, some of them look like ambiguous sex positions. Heck, you might say that every submission and grapple move is a form of twisted S&M play! Don’t you agree? Well, if you’re a pervert you might look at it that way. So if you are unlike me who is too engrossed in ‘feeling the pain’ of the body bending moves, you might be enjoying the many zoom-ins and angles of those delicious boobs and crotch shots littered throughout the matches of this series. Thus to make up for the lack of seeing girls in their underwear or a chance to get a peak from the Sweet Diva idols (you wish), the pro wrestling ladies here in their leotard should satiate fanservice in this department. I won’t say that their outfits are skimpy but you can’t be wearing tight outfits that cover every part of your skin, right? How are you going to sweat and let your skin breath? And because we already know this is pro wrestling, the thought of seeing the ladies in sexy (if you can call it that) leotards just doesn’t cross our mind since it is already given. Pro wrestling and spandex go together.

A thing that boggles me is the body structure of the women wrestlers. Let me start off with Sakura and Elena first. They have been training for months and to be a pro wrestler, I am sure that they need to do a lot of power training to increase their stamina and strength. That translates to bulging muscles, right? Even if they don’t look like the Hulk, at least there should be some muscles or small biceps that are visible. However they don’t really seem to have that making it feels a little superficial. I know they are idols and they have a svelte body figure but in the case of Sakura who has been training a lot, you would think to at least see some muscles on her forearm or biceps. Not only them, the other wrestlers too feel the same from Jackal to Misaki. In terms of this look, the only wrestlers I am ‘convinced’ are those with huge bodies like Yumbo. Now that looks like the body a pro wrestler. Oh wait. Sumo wrestler maybe… The only reason why this effect doesn’t seem obvious is because of the outfit. It’s probably the tight leotards and the way you see their huge breasts and cleavage being shown that makes the female wrestlers look like wrestlers instead of models in underwear. Serious.

Just another point to ponder. After Elena and especially Sakura who have taken in so many body blows, how come they can still maintain their beautiful face and figure? I guess that is why this is possible in anime. Or you can say that wrestling is fake (like WWE?) and that everybody is acting. But like I have said in the previous paragraphs, the moves and techniques are real that even I feel the pain. Unless they’re pretty darn good actresses. Entertainers would be a better term. So you don’t see the bruises on their faces and body after so much grappling and slamming, does this show they have done so much training to withstand the pain? Or did they activate some fast healing spell. Just kidding. Otherwise, I think viewers would be disheartened to see pretty girls having messed up looks. Especially fans of them. Who would like to see their pretty idol getting beaten up all over? Here’s another point to ponder: For the wrestlers to take in so much pain and at the end of it love the sport? Doesn’t that make the characters some sort of masochists and the audiences sadist? Also, I want to point out about the animation of the ‘audiences’. Yes, those unimportant extras just to fill the ring just to show us the importance and value of the match. It isn’t obvious at first but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice that they are CGI. What is so bad about that? Well, it feels like there is some sort of mismatch between the CGI and 2D animation. Besides, the animation of the CGI makes the audiences look and move like puppets. It’s like unreal. It’s like lame. But since we’re not really paying attention to them, it doesn’t really matter.

Now to go rant about the characters. As we see, this is what happens to most of us. We get a little taste of something, the next thing we know, we totally dig this new exciting thing. The case for Sakura as she found her true calling in pro wrestling after a revenge match. So as not to displease the fans of both sides, they have her do both her new wrestling passion as well as continue her existing idol job. If you ask me, it sounds impossible although there is a slight chance it can be done. That will take a lot of energy (enough energy to create the universe, I supposedly exaggerate), accurate time management and one hell of a burning passion. The flame is still going strong in Sakura and now Elena as well. When Sakura first began as an amateur and made her pro debut in an infamous way of losing over 50 matches, many would have written off and lost faith in her. You might call her a dumb idol trying to be in a game she is not suited for but don’t you see? After 50 straight loses, she still doesn’t give up! This is the important thing which most people fail to see. She never gives up even at times when she is close too. Of course, there are times she really would want to give in but with a little push from her friends and mentor, she draws strength from an unknown reserve to persevere till the end. Sakura’s perseverance should be a lesson to us all about work and life. See? Who says this is a dumb wrestling anime with fanservice only? You could learn a thing or two.

I feel Elena was like being a tsundere. She really wants Sakura back but couldn’t find a better way than to persuade her via wrestling. I guess this is the only way. You have to beat her in her own game. Elena is like what most people will call a true friend and a true rival. You rarely get this nowadays. So they turned the final arc of the anime into some sort of Sweet Diva internal fighting in the form of an official pro wrestling match. Hey, it’s better for them to take out their emotions this way instead of those live reality TV footage of showing their catty cat fight backstage, on stage and off stage drama. Like we haven’t got enough of those lately. Other characters feel sufficient but nothing more about them like Misaki, Jackal and Kanae’s past or the past between Misaki and Juri. This season is mainly about Sakura. We’re here to see pro wrestling (with fanservice) and not some teary emotional drama? Sakura and Rio once hated each other’s guts now become friends-cum-rivals. Their third match is still unsettled. Moe somewhat feels like a waste of time and perhaps it is unfair to me to say that since she doesn’t get lots of screen time. She debuted after halfway through and her introduction just feels like they wanted to make a filler episode before Sakura’s ultimate showdown with fate. Perhaps she’ll shine more in the future. That is, provided if they make another season. In which, I too predict the tough and weird opponents Sakura and Elena will face when they tour Shangri-La circuit. Hmm… Tag team pro wrestling… Sakura and Elena… Has anybody thought of that for this anime?

At first it was odd for me to hear Ayana Taketatsu behind the voice of Sakura. She is fine with Sakura as an idol. It is just that when she was screaming as a wrestler that I felt weird. This girl who was the voice of Kirino in OreImo, Azusa of K-ON!, Kotori in Date A Live and even Fuu of Tamayura, screaming like that? I don’t know if I’m feeling discouraged or not. However I have to respect her for doing so because it is not easy screaming like that for half the time. Well, she certainly ‘convinced’ me that it is definitely pain (duh) in that position. Looks pain, sounds pain, must be very painful. Yeah. Duh. There are a handful of popular seiyuus lending their voice to this anime as well. Kana Asumi as Elena (putting on a serious tone like Kaoru in Tamayura), Haruka Tomatsu as Rio (putting up that hoarse voice like Ranmaru in Binbougami Ga), Kana Hanazawa as Juri (not in retard mode here), Hisako Kanemoto as Moe (no “~de geso” so I couldn’t recognize this Shinryaku! Ika Musume’s Ika-chan), Rina Satou as Kanae (sounds like a perverted version of To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Misaka especially when she narrates the next episode preview) and Eri Kitamura as Makoto (didn’t put up her trademark high voice like Rin in Kodomo No Jikan so I couldn’t recognize her and partly due to her limited appearance). Other casts include Chiaki Takahashi as Jackal (Nanami in School Days), Suzuko Mimori as Chinatsu (Sherlock in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes) and Kyouko Narumi as Misaki (Nasuno in Teekyuu). The opening theme by Kyouko Narumi, Beautiful Dreamer may be fitting for a sports themed anime like this one but I don’t find it appealing. Instead, I prefer the very idol-like ending theme, Fan Fanfare by Sweet Diva (that includes the voices of Ayana Taketatsu and Kana Asumi and the rest who voiced the other members of Sweet Diva).

It makes me wonder if Sakura is exposed to more of other stuffs, would she get addicted to it and find another new passion. I mean, had pro wrestling not be on the agenda and something else, say, motor-cross bike racing, would she have developed a new infatuation for it? Because if you think about it, just about everything from movies to sports and even books, they have a potential to entertain people. And I believe Sakura is a person who strongly believes in providing top class entertainment to her audiences. So in addition to pro wrestling, imagine if she has taken up tennis, a cooking variety show, a disaster relief and emergency volunteer, writing a novel, a leading role in the most anticipated movie of the century or even a stand up comedian. She finds all these are suitable for her and decides to go for all of them instead of abandoning them. Wow. I don’t know how she’ll manage it but I think she will burnout faster than an insect’s life. So many interesting things to do in life but so limited time. Yeah. Maybe she should consider going into the porn industry too and do some adult videos. Holy cow! Please don’t defile the pure Sakura!!!

I don’t know what people consider now as in this age as entertainment. Mixing idols and pro wrestling seems to be a dangerous combination. It can be both lethal and entertaining depending on how you see it. I hope this won’t happen: All of the 150 Sweet Diva members (that is the total amount of members including the top 5 at the forefront – I wonder how a stage is going to feature all of them) becoming pro wrestlers and as part of the after-concert, they get into a messy free-for-all battle-royale king-of-the-ring brawl. You get all your action and excitement from the singing and wrestling. Cute and dangerous girls in cute and dangerous outfits doing cute and dangerous moves. All in one just for you. I don’t think that would be entertainment anymore. That would be just sick. I won’t be watching this crap if it ever happens. Ever.

Miss Monochrome

March 21, 2014

Hmmm… Doesn’t this character look like a cross between Nyaruko and Hatsune Miku? I don’t know. That is my first impression when I saw Miss Monochrome. The chequered skirt (like Nyaruko) and the hairstyle and idol presence (like Hatsune Miku). This character is actually created and designed by the seiyuu-cum-singer Yui Horie herself. I suppose everybody these days can design their own characters but you rarely hear one doing so from the same industry. She first used this character as a 3D virtual singer in one of her concerts back in 2012 (which I didn’t attend or see) in which the character was also featured in a social network game. Now, it has been adapted into an anime albeit each episode is only 4 minutes long. As I read the synopsis, the titular character loves the monochrome style and dislikes all colours and has this goal of changing it to her favourite black and white colour. Sounds boring? Well, I’m trying to look at it from a comedy perspective and it would be interesting to see the kind of character Yui Horie came up with.

Episode 1: Fall
Monochrome has this dream again. A girl dying in her arms and a promise to meet again under some waterfall. Monochrome is living her life as a so called idol in a big castle. She has a helper named Mana to help around. After seeing Kikuko the idol performing on TV, Monochrome wants to be as popular and stand out as her. As suggested by Mana, she needs a manager. Yup, Mana appoints herself. What is the manager’s first job? Get her 19.3 billion Yen! Agreed! And so Mana took that money and disappeared. So much about loyalty. Monochrome is evicted from her castle and as she wanders around, she bumps into this guy, Maneo. Because she saw his manager card, she makes him her manager and wants to give her work. Yeah. He is the manager of a convenience store and thus begins Monochrome’s job there.

Episode 2: Heaven
Now she’s living in a run-down apartment. Her little round robot vacuum, Ruu-chan starts cleaning but due to the amount of rubbish, it gets stuck and Ruu-chan goes offline. Maneo compliments Monochrome for posing really still. Like as though she’s an android. Yeah. You don’t say… She is fine living in such an apartment because she heard from Kikuko that an idol must have a hungry soul and will work her way up. When Monochrome returns home, she shows the alkaline battery she has got. It’s better than the zinc-carbon one since it lasts longer and rechargeable. She notices Ruu-chan not moving and is sad it has ‘died’. She buries it. For the first time in her life, she learnt the meaning of sorrow.

Episode 3: Vengeance
Aliens are planning to invade Earth! Meanwhile Ruu-chan is back. I’m not sure if Monochrome put in new change of batteries or got a new model. Anyway Monochrome is admiring at some Evolta battery displayed at a shop. After another great ‘mannequin’ idol performance for the kindergarten kids (they were left confused, actually), Maneo gives her the Evolta battery as reward. She goes home to charge and feels the electrifying power overflowing her. Meanwhile the aliens begin their human hunt and target Maneo first. Monochrome sees the UFO above and with the battery, powers up including some transformation, to fire a beam at them! When she comes to, she has no recollection of what happened. Not even why there is a big hole in her roof. And thus mankind was saved thanks to Monochrome!

Episode 4: Metamorphose
Monochrome notices a nendoroid (android imitation) of Kikuko in toy stores. She thinks it is a sign of popularity and wants one. Maneo gets straight to it but of course the higher ups told him that she needs to be popular if she wants to have one. Monochrome vows to do it using her own merits. And so she shapes clay, chops and carves wood, makes a potato chop and even sculpts a Segway from iron but all do not feel quite like it. Finally she makes a giant head of herself and becomes a big hit among children. Yeah, feeling like a mascot? So popular and cute that the businessmen zeroed in to cash in on her popularity and release Monochrome’s version of nendoroid. Ironically, the nendoroid is the one that became popular instead of the real idol herself…

Episode 5: Halloween
Monochrome sees Kikuko on TV again. She really wants to be like her and have fans screaming all over her. That’s when Maneo got a job for her to cosplay in a special TV programme. As she ponders what to cosplay, she mistakes that it is equivalent to Halloween so she searches the internet for more information. She has found an eye-catching outfit. At the studio, the kids are screaming and running away from her because she is dressed up as a bloodthirsty demon! Ah, well. This is how she got people to scream for her. Of course her appearance had to be cut from the programme and Maneo is reduced to an apologizing wimp to the producer…

Episode 6: Job
As part of her schedule to become a popular idol, Monochrome has taken up lots of jobs ranging from washing dishes, pulling out trucks from ravines, acting as Prime Minister (WTF?!) and going into space. None of which has anything related to being an idol… In a drama shoot, that needs to have the protagonist jump out of a building on fire with a kid, Monochrome jumps out clutching Ruu-chan tightly. She’s never going to lose it ever again… And she isn’t the protagonist of the film… Maneo suggests Monochrome to be on the Surprise Wake-up programme to leave an impact on her audience. So the programme’s crew enter her apartment as he pretends to be asleep. Then she pretends to be surprised and wakes up. She accidentally hits her battery recharger and when the battery falls out, she starts disappearing! The crew freaks out! Because this left too much of an impact, this programme was not broadcasted…

Episode 7: Props
After watching yet another Kikuko performance, Monochrome thinks she knows what she lacks. Like the wand Kikuko is having, she thinks she needs a prop to be a famous idol. And so Maneo gives her several props… How come they all are cleaning props? Duster, broom and cleaning cloth… What the? Noting that such props do not work, Maneo suggests vegetables. Before you know it, Monochrome is cultivating her own farm land and planting lots of different vegetables. Somehow this self-sufficient lifestyle of living together with nature gave Monochrome a sense of fulfilment. The props don’t matter anymore, eh?

Episode 8: Winner
Monochrome gets a job as a race queen. However in order to stand out more, she starts racing with the cars! She wins the race! OMG! Is this even legal? Again, Maneo apologizes to the producer. But what the heck?! Nobody finds it odd that Monochrome won?! I guess because of this, she didn’t get the mountain climbing reporter job. Kikuko’s climb on Mt Fuji gets her lots of attention so Monochrome thinks she will get the same attention if she climbs a mountain. Aim for greater heights! But not a soul is there when she climbs Mt Takao. Hardly any challenge… She also climbed Mt Olympus and laments nobody was there. Where the hell is that? It’s that large crater on Mars… Is it a wonder why there was nobody around? Not even Martians…

Episode 9: Rival
Those bloodthirsty aliens are back! Oh wait. This is actually a flashback. Those aliens indeed massacred Earth and will be back once it is repopulated again. Monochrome saved Kikuko but the latter knows her time is up. She is glad to have competed with her as top idols and that they are eternal rivals. She believes they will meet again and hopes Monochrome will wait for her till she reincarnates. And so Monochrome waits throughout all the ages just to fulfil that promise. She waited and waited for a very long time, even when Earth is reborn (dinosaur period again?) and her memories have faded. Feudal peasants accidentally put in her battery and she materializes but worshipped like a God in an altar. Fast forward to her days as an idol in her castle with Mana as her helper. She sees Kikuko on TV and notes she will someday become an idol who can compete with her.

Episode 10: Fighter
Maneo once again ‘praises’ Monochrome for her mannequin performance. Is it a wonder why she’s not a popular idol? Nearby there is a convention that houses handshakes from various idols. After experiencing one, Monochrome wants her own handshake event. Yeah, well… Everybody who pays at the convenience store counter gets a long one. You’d worry if you get your change back… Soon, Monochrome shakes hands with just about everybody and everywhere. Probably some got the wrong idea because like Rocky Balboa, Mike Tyson and Hulk Hogan, they make her enter the ring and she becomes the new world champion in arm wrestling, boxing and pro wrestling. Not to mention weightlifting too. In no time, she’s accumulated lots of champion belts and trophies. But where are the handshakes?

Episode 11: Audition
Now Monochrome wants to take part in an audition. First up, the gourmet reporting that has participants react and ‘report’ the ramen taste. The judges don’t seem to find one that is outstanding till it is Monochrome’s turn. She precisely analyzes the ingredients and its calorie content. Amazing. But since she didn’t eat it, she got disqualified. Next is a cooking audition. This time she takes care to make good presentation and mind the calories. However she didn’t taste test it and it sucked big time. Disqualified. Finally there is one audition that she has passed. She is in charge of illuminating the night sky and buildings. Yeah. She really shines here. Literally. So beautiful, the lights. But not as beautiful as you my love. You can hear those cheesy romantic pick-up lines…

Episode 12: Idol
Thanks to the producer, Monochrome is able to watch Kikuko rehearse. But look what the cat dragged in. It’s Mana! Where has she been?! My, isn’t that such a big lovely and expensive ring? Every time Monochrome asks about her money, spunky Mana cuts her off and starts ranting about the gratefulness and thankfulness of whatever she’s referring to. She is currently the manager of Kikuko! When Kikuko meets Monochrome, she felt this familiarity. Have they met somewhere before? Kikuko brushes it off as her own imagination. Then something tells her Monochrome doesn’t age. Monochrome agrees. Kikuko advises that not aging is a real strength for idols and be sure to treasure it. Because Kikuko will always be 17 years old! She hopes they will one day compete as top idols. This motivates Monochrome to move forward as far as she can as an idol. Flashback to that dream again. It seem their dream of meeting already come true because when she said about meeting ‘underneath the waterfall’ (taki shita), the producer’s name so happened to be Takishita! Oh, Mana left before Monochrome could ask about her money… Bad debts…

Episode 13: Monochrome
While walking home alone, suddenly there is an old guy who seems like a flasher. Actually he is here to show Monochrome her debut CD! And so it begins Monochrome’s real journey as an idol as she get into photo shoots and the stuffs idol do. Maneo is grateful to the old guy who believes Monochrome’s hard work has caught the attention of someone’s eye. Monochrome then sings a street performance but Maneo is the only audience. However a little girl was listening and she is very happy to hear her sing. It made Monochrome want to stand out more and do her best to be an idol. And that old guy… He turns out to be Santa… Hohoho! Merry Christmas.

Miss Idle Idol
First, let me get out this grouse of mine. After watching the series, where in the world is this show about Miss Monochrome trying to turn the colourful world into black and white? From what I see, she seems to be having ‘fun’, if not trying her best to understand and do what it takes to be an idol. You see, trying to be an idol means you’re going to lead a colourful life because you will be doing lots of things and will be under the watchful eye of viewers and prospective fans. That’s why I thought the synopsis was rather misleading and it certainly has taken out the overall enjoyment factor. I suppose that’s why sometimes I don’t read what an anime is about and jump straight in to watch. I know this is just something trivial but there is a big discrepancy in the plot. A very big one. Trying to bring boringness to the world and trying to be a popular stand out idol are 2 very contrasting plots. Unless that synopsis was the setting for the social network game, which I am not aware about.

On to the series itself, the short animation is really fun to enjoy although I would advise to try not to think too deep about certain stuffs. Like how Mana can get away scot free with Monochrome’s money and have the cheek to reappear before her life again without showing any repentance. And then off she goes again. What about that curious and fateful meeting between Monochrome and Kikuko since time immemorial? What does it mean? What will the future hold now that they have met in such strange circumstances? Ironically Monochrome as an android, she can have memory failure of the most important event that happened then. I guess this shows nothing lasts forever. She just lasts longer than most things. Then prior to being swindled, she was an idol, right? But it wasn’t clear if she was famous or just a non-popular idol. Her castle that was worth billions of Yen could have indicated she was but it was possibly because the people worshipped her as something else and gave lots of donations. I’m speculating this part a lot so I might be wrong. And yeah… Maybe she isn’t sure what the definition of an idol is and labelled herself as one till she saw Kikuko on TV again that it reignited her real quest to become a real idol.

For a monotonous character, Monochrome is pretty fun and funny if you look it from another perspective. Not to mention cute too. Now if only she smiles more often… Her best ability is to play a mannequin and that is to stand still without moving for a long period of time. It’s just like shutting your appliance off, eh? It baffles people. But to me, that is just plain funny. I can think up 101 reasons why she strives so hard to be an idol but can’t even manage to get a decent number of fans or a decent start. Mostly, she has this monkey see, monkey do mentality when it comes to idols. Thinking an idol is famous because of like this, she too wants to do it. Of course she misinterprets the whole thing and somehow her impulsive actions make her veer off course often with hilarious results and in the end, don’t really make her a popular idol. Oddly as an android, she should have better understanding and analyzing about the concept of being an idol but I guess it is more complicating being human. Yeah, to a point that an android seems to ‘struggle’ comprehending our culture. But all these experiences are good for her and despite it don’t have anything to do with being an idol, at least she gains some sort of experience and some even a greater good for mankind. I suppose those pesky aliens will never destroy mankind again, huh? Yeah. Thank you Monochrome. In the end, it shows that all her hard work (random acts, if you want to look at it another way) pays off. Yeah, it took Santa to notice. Say, is Santa into idols? These so called random events and ‘things Monochrome wants to do to become an idol’ makes the series enjoyable to watch if you have nothing better to do in the short period of time and want something entertaining to fill in before the next big thing.

If there a category for one of the most unique characters ever in anime history, it would be Ruu-chan! Because this circular cleaning machine has no actual spoken lines! I don’t think I have ever heard a single beep coming out from it. It accompanies Monochrome like a shadow but is family to her. Then there is Maneo as the manager and fatherly figure to Monochrome. I wonder if he can juggle between his manager role and his convenience store job. Like they say, don’t quit your day job. Mana is a character you would both love and hate. She’s cute but she’s deceiving. And she can put on a straight face about being grateful and all that crap. Well, it’s not like she admitted stealing the money, right? I mean, Monochrome gave her the money, right? Yeah, I ask for 1 year advance salary to renovate my house and then I disappear and never show up at work ever again. Besides, had not been for Mana, this misadventure to be a top idol will not have started. It would just be confined to her dream and television for Monochrome.

Yui Horie is of course the voice of the titular character herself and she’s a real cutie voicing Monochrome. She’s voiced many anime roles too and even some as close as Monochrome. I am sure that everybody can try to make and imitate a robot voice, something that Yui Horie does here as her character. Sometimes I have this tendency to think that she can imitate a computerized voice but logically, I think she has got the help of the computer synthesizer to make parts of her voice sound computerized. Of course, she also sings the ending theme, Poker Face and you can see Monochrome strutting her idol stuff, dancing and singing in the ending credits in 3D render. Although this song has computerized vocals, I feel it is not as exciting and extremely cute as the one Yui Horie sang as the ending theme for Papa No Iukoto Wo Kikinasai, Coloring.

My guts tell me that they are making some references to another veteran seiyuu featured in this anime, Kikuko Inoue. No prizes for guessing which character she voices here. Especially that trademark statement of hers that she is forever 17 years old. Yup. She’ll always be forever 17 years old. 17 + 50 years old! Haha! Oops! I’m guessing at this rate, Monochrome and Kikuko will forever be waiting to have a chance to compete as top idols. Unless that final episode’s progress was just a fluke. Touch wood! Also making its cameo appearance in certain scenes is that mysterious and cute yellow blob called Wooser. I’m not sure about the reference about having this character from another anime. The only similarity I can find is that both animes are animated by the same studio, Sanzigen and that both shows are short in duration as well as it shows the daily issues and challenges the protagonists face and approach.

So it certainly shows that being an idol is tough and not easy. Maybe it takes a little luck too. Don’t worry about Monochrome being a stand out popular idol. It is pretty much how you define that. As of now she might only have a little girl as her first true fan but from that little girl’s perspective, she is the biggest thing and that already itself is an achievement. She doesn’t need to conquer the world to be famous. Only conquer the hearts… Monochrome may not be the biggest idol in this anime but I have a feeling that in real life, she may have been steadily garnering a sizeable amount of fans, especially hardcore fans of Yui Horie. Real idol and virtual idol? It’s like having your cake and eating it. Now, if only Mamiko Noto came up with her own character design, I would definitely become her biggest idol. Oh, I can see it already. Jigoku Shoujo AKA Hell Girl!!! Ippen shinde miru…

AKB0048 Next Stage

November 16, 2013

The fight for entertainment freedom is not over yet! We have the right to enjoy ourselves in the way we want and not become like some mindless robotic zombies whose purpose in life is to work, eat, sleep, repeat cycle before kicking the bucket! We demand entertainment! We want our idols! If that sounded really bleak in the event if the world ever came to that stage, be thankful now that a big part of the world can still enjoy their idols, be it those K-pop or American Idols whatsoever. This idol thing must still be a big craze in Japan. I don’t know, I’m not really a big follower but it must be big enough that the largest pop group in the world had their own anime adaptation and even a sequel: AKB0048 Next Stage. As if watching the big idol group of girls dance on stage wasn’t enough. As if attending all their special public events weren’t enough. As if getting to shake their hands at every handshake event wasn’t enough. As if owning every single memorabilia of your favourite idol from posters pasted right on your ceiling down to your floor and the bed you sleep on wasn’t enough. Well, it is never enough if you’re an obsessed fan. Very obsessed fan, that is. Yeah, it makes you sound like a creepy perverted stalker. Don’t give me that weird deep breathing either!

Now back to the sequel of this story, for those who have watched the first season would definitely have come to know that in this fictitious story that is based on this group, the intensity between idols and anti-idol organizations have increased many times fold as ever before. Our heroine group (or terrorist unit if you are anti them) has been going on the offensive by launching more guerrilla concerts to bring hope and entertainment to planets whose civilians are persecuted under the Entertainment Ban. DGTO have also stepped up their attacks on entertainment which forces AKB0048 to bring back the discarded General Elections and thus the enchanting but risky Centre Nova position, a position coveted by every AKB0048 member (because you get to be the centre of attraction I suppose). As if fighting against DGTO and DES machines weren’t enough. Now they have to ‘fight’ among themselves for that spot. Well, nobody said that the path to being an idol was easy. So are you ready to love your idols once more?

Episode 1
Nagisa dreams of climbing an endless stairs. Her fellow comrades start falling off when the stairs start breaking up. Acchan tells her that not only her Kirara shines but the radiance must come from within. Nagisa must have fallen asleep on the stairs after another one of those hard practising sessions. The Understudies are practising to put up another guerrilla performance. Needless to say it is another sterling performance but this time their Kiraras shine so bright like never before. Such flood of lights was never seen ever since Acchan disappeared. At the end of the concert, Tsubasa makes a surprising announcement. Due to the increase anti-entertainment efforts by DGTO, she is bringing back the General Elections. This means the Centre Nova position will also return. Fans get to vote for their favourite members regardless of their status and the top members get to be part of a new single. Some of the Understudies (especially Nagisa who is definitely against it) are torn about this General Election. Even if the battle for Centre Nova isn’t their goal, the election results will show who is top and who is bottom. There can be in-fighting to be the best. It can be quite demoralizing to know who is better or worse off than you. During the banquet, Yuuko makes her announcement that becoming Centre Nova is her dream and those who aim for that position to also do their best. When some of them are preparing to enter the hotspring, a DES machine ambushes the place. Chieri, Sonata and Yukirin are kidnapped. They are taken to Kasumigastar where the High Court is held and being put in a speedy trial. This is with the intention to subdue anti-government movement that idolizes them. News spread like wildfire throughout the galaxy that the trio are being charged in engaging in anti-government activities. During the trial when being read the charges, Chieri stands up and voices out that AKB0048’s actions are founded upon love and will never hurt others. At the same time, Tsubasa and the other AKB0048 members are preparing to launch a rescue mission. They are not amused that the trial is trying to make a spectacle of AKB0048. The lawyers try to convince Chieri if she admits she has been deceived, her sentence will be commuted. She stands firm on her dreams and beliefs. The judge concludes that they have shown no signs of remorse and sentences them to 48 years in prison. That’s when the AKB0048 girls bust in. However they did not use violence. Instead, they use DES’ attack as counter attack. Their own missiles destroy their own building. AKB0048 sing their way filled with love to rescue to trio. Back at Sagitarriusstar, the headquarters of Zodiac Corporation, Chieri’s father sees the trial as blessing. He relishes his daughter has become more useful than ever.

Episode 2
Sensei-sensei is talking funny things. Guerrilla. Gross-out. Funny faces. Huh? Due to the trial, Chieri’s popularity has soared. As some of the Understudies fear, she is pulling in lots of votes and preliminary results are showing that there is a dramatic rise in number of downloads since the announcement. So Tsubasa has the other Understudies make their appearance on a variety channel. Look at it as celebrities doing various stuffs. Like bungee jumping. Yikes! Is this all for the sake of rating and increase in popularity? I hope they don’t make a fool out of themselves. The ‘funniest’ is when they had to imitate others. And Sonata imitated Makoto snoring!!! Totally embarrassing!!! Meanwhile Tsubasa feels disturbed. When they burst in and out of Kasumigastar, supposedly a very stronghold of the government, it felt too easy. Because the Understudies aren’t doing a very good job on the variety channel, Tsubasa summons them and chides them for not being serious. Sure, it isn’t fair to suddenly thrust the camera in their face and they would prefer to hold concerts than doing this. Tsubasa just tells them to carefully reflect the purpose why they are doing this. Late that night, Nagisa catches Chieri practising hard as usual. But Chieri is not sure if she is popular due to her own effort. Kojiharu and Yukirin note that Nagisa and Chieri are the only ones left who have not finish their General Elections poster. They decide to show them a video of Acchan at the last General Election. Her radiance was shining very brightly as Centre Nova that it moved everyone including Yuuko who was still an Understudy. Soon the Understudies realize why Tsubasa put them up with such variety shows. On planets where ban on entertainment ban is the strictest, holding concerts is next to impossible that’s why such broadcasts are shown instead. Even the broadcasts are received illegally via WOTA’s underground network. So the girls are fired up to do their best in their next variety show, which is penalty dodgeball. Nagisa and Chieri finish their poster and continue doing concerts. After a concert ends, Tsubasa pops up to do an announcement of the early results of the General Election. Starting from tenth place upwards, seems Chieri is now at 9th spot.

Episode 3
Ninth place is pretty good for an Understudy to secure but why the gloom face, Chieri? Aren’t you happy? To boost their popularity before the General Elections, there will be a handshake event. One of Nagisa’s fans will do his best to help her. She didn’t understand why he would want to do that. Simple. Because she is doing her best too. While Chieri is shaking hands with one of her fans, she hears him praise her I Girl Noodle commercial. She senses something amiss and rushes off backstage to watch it. The commercial had footage of her but it’s not that she acted in it (it was taken from the trial). Of course this is illegal but Tsubasa puts it, what they are doing is illegal in the first place and have no right to complain. However her fans aren’t aware of the foul play being used in the commercial. Yuuko and Takamina renew their rivalry for top spot in the General Elections. Nagisa is amazed that Mimori can remember every word her fan said. She admits she is a fan of her fans. Although she is never in the spotlight, they see her in the shadows and shower her with their love. On the day before the General Elections, the Understudies are still worried. But Mimori is upbeat and views everyone has an equal opportunity. Chieri makes her way to a diner to meet her old butler, Yasunaga. She talks to him about the commercial. I Girl Foods is under Zodiac Group. Furthermore, she noticed all the cameras at the trial were from Zodiac Corporation. What is going on? Wasn’t her father against her joining AKB0048? Yasunaga relays a message from her father, the company’s CEO. At first he did want her to return but he soon realized her radiance as an idol that kept growing. He will no longer oppose her membership and support her with all his resources. Chieri realizes that her popularity is not the result of her own skill. She has a message for him. Refusing to let him have his way, she is willing to sacrifice her dream. Chieri doesn’t want to have anything to do with the General Elections as she doesn’t want to bring down her friends via underhanded methods. And so the results of the General Elections are here. The stadium is filled to the brim. So serious the results that it had to be sealed in a suitcase and handcuffed to the security’s hand! At least no tampering. Are we excited after waiting with baited breath? At tenth place… Mimori!

Episode 4
So you are going to hear lots of emotional thank you speeches by some of the girls. The winners cry. The AKB0048 girls cry. The fans cry. Everybody cries. Unless you’re those anti-idol group. So if you’re the emotional kind, prepare a box of tissue papers. Mimori gets the tears rolling by thanking her fans and especially Kanata as her special friend. Chieri is amazed by Mimori’s speech but she is still in a dilemma. She told Tsubasa she will make her announcement of quitting AKB0048 if she is chosen. She feels her father earned her those votes and her popularity as a result of Zodiac’s interference. Tsubasa told her all the votes were from her fans and she is about to betray them. But winners are given a chance to speak on stage and she can say what she wants. She won’t stop her. In 9th place is Youko while Tomochin comes in 8th. This shocks many because in the preliminaries, she was ranked third. After so much heartfelt speeches, Chieri’s perception of the General Elections starts to change. The fans give them so much love and if they make it onto the stage, they can also return their love. Kojiharu takes 7th and while Chieri is still contemplating those votes don’t really belong to her even though she starts realizing that because of her father’s interference, her fan base grew. Suddenly her name is announced in 6th place. She couldn’t believe it. What can she say? She is so shocked that she starts hyperventilating! She’s having a hard time catching her breath as she limps towards the stage. When she manages to calm down, it’s time for her to make her announcement. She loves them all! Her Kirara shines the brightest and she vows to continue being an AKB0048 member. Mayuyu takes 5th followed by Yukirin in 4th and then Sayaka in 3rd. Takamina grabs 2nd and the overall winner of this General Election goes to… Drum roll please… YUUKO!!! Part of her heartfelt speech includes that winning this election and becoming Centre Nova is not enough since her rival is Acchan. She wants to stay in that position and glow more radiant. She vows not to disappear. In the aftermath of the event and at the backstage, the girls continue their emotional hugs and congratulations for one another. Nagisa congratulates Chieri and now realizes why she was against the General Elections. She was afraid in becoming a spiteful person with all the competitions and comparisons. But she saw how everyone sparkled and was amazed. She vows to do her best to stand on that stage. Both their Kiraras shine so bright that it catches Yuuko’s attention.

Episode 5
While those elected are busy with schedules, those unelected are so free. Makoto is sure grumbling as usual, isn’t she? She knows herself she won’t get elected even if it’s a miracle so why the long face? Sulking… Anyway AKB0048 must gear up for another guerrilla concert on Baltistar, another planet with strict entertainment ban. While the elected members will be on their first performance, Kanata and the 76th generation will provide the defence. Because there are reports of high profile people coming in and out of a nearby asteroid, Tsubasa has the 77th generation lead an undercover investigation. First, they infiltrate a ship filled with boys forced into hard labour and take over their identities. Meeting with the lieutenant of the asteroid base, they are put under the supervision of a stupid looking beaver teeth DES private, Higashino. Not thrilled, is he? Well, can’t say the same for the girls. They’re not built for hard labour. Except for Makoto who is going all out. Because she is still sulking over not being elected. When the guerrilla concert begins, all DES members go into full force to stop it. That’s when the undercover team goes into action. Nagisa’s team is puzzled to hear AKB0048 songs coming from a room. Sneaking in, they see a very posh place and lots of important people in some party. It is actually an illegal casino and they are making bets on AKB0048 on how long they can last, etc. So on the surface they look like anti-entertainment but they are just plain hypocrites, huh? Makoto wants to investigate further but slips. This causes her identity to be busted and the base on alert for AKB0048 intruders. The girls are cornered but flushed down the trash compartment. Thank Higashino for that. Once the girls relay the big news to Tsubasa, she realizes why some DES attacks were weak. It is part of some gamble to rake in profits. Makoto is a funny girl. She is so gloomy and lack confidence that she thinks she fits sitting along with the other trash. She’s calling herself a trash?

Orine’s team hijack the main centre and discover a massive nuclear reactor in the asteroid centre. Shutting it down means cutting out all the power. The higher ups watching this are starting to make a bet if they can shut down the power in time. But with so many DES personnel around, can they make it? Orine’s team hijack a DES machine and go on a rampage. As usual, Makoto cowers out. Higashino recognizes that negativity. You can’t beat that, can’t you? This is what she comes to after he helped save them? He admits that he is a closet AKB0048 fan. But don’t tell on him. Makoto still feels useless so Higashino adds to that but tells her he voted for her in the elections. Four times! Even though she lost, it’s not about the numbers. It’s the love! Wow. She’s being told off by somebody like him. But why her? When he first saw her on TV, true to her nature she is useless and clumsy but she never hide it. He could relate it because he too feels the same way. In that sense, Makoto encouraged him a lot. So is that enough to get you going? Higashino leads her to the reactor and a switch beneath that will cut the power. For once Makoto becomes brave and even admits that although she can’t fly like others, she will fail with all her might! That’s like dare to fail, right? And she’s going to fall! Jump down, that is. She bungee jumps down into the reactor and true to her nature, she misses! First big failure? However that didn’t stop her and on the second run, she kicks the switch and breaks it! At least the power goes out and her Kirara shines brightly. Success! Sorry officials, you lost your bet. The girls escape the asteroid but since there is no power, somebody is needed to manual crank up the escape pod. Well Makoto, I’m sure you can learn something valuable from Higashino, right? He lets the girls escape and vows to always be Makoto’s fan. See Makoto? Even if you don’t believe in yourself, somebody else does. Now will you be more confident? Meanwhile Chieri’s dad isn’t fazed about the leaks revolving the illegal casino because he has issued a strict gag order. Even if AKB0048 has discovered this scandal, he is confident the data they received was worth the risk.

Episode 6
The Kiraras of succession suddenly shows the original Acchan. That means somebody is going to succeed her. Since the election, Yuuko has become even more popular. Chieri and Mimori’s popularity are rising too. Mikako becomes the group’s new camerawoman (probably it was hard for her to find a job due to the crackdown). Tsubasa still has reservations about her since last season she said something about using her power to stop bringing back the Centre Nova. Mikako assures she only said that out of spite. In the midst of the Understudies’ practice, Yuuko blows her top especially to Nagisa and Chieri because they are supposed to radiate more than this mediocrity. Ushiyama talks to Nagisa that despite her goal is to rival Yuuko, miming her won’t do and there must be a purpose to her soul. Likewise, Mikako talks to Yuuko and gives her hints about capturing radiance like snapping pictures on a camera. In addition to find clues to the next Acchan, Yuuko goes around taking pictures of her fellow comrades. Mimori’s face pops up at the Kiraras of succession. Shortly, Mimori collapses of fever. This is a sign that she will inherit a name because Tsubasa also experienced such symptoms. As standby, Tsubasa and Ushiyama choose Nagisa to replace Mimori. She must learn all the moves in a night in addition to her own performance. She’s up for the challenge. On the day of the concert, Mimori’s determination not to let her fans down has her performing alongside her elected AKB0048 members. She’s holding it out despite running a fever. Even so, her Kirara is shining brightly. During the break, Mimori is close to collapsing so Nagisa will have to take over from here. Nagisa is on par with the other girls as she sees the Kiraras of Yuuko and Chieri shining brightly. In that spur of the moment, Nagisa doesn’t want to lose out to their radiance and right in the middle of the performance announces she will shine as bright and will become Centre Nova. The crowd goes wild seeing her Kirara radiating as bright as the rest.

Episode 7
Mimori wakes up in the underground cave shrine but her fever has subsided. Ushiyama tells AKB0048 a change in their concert schedule. This time the Understudies will the one performing to mark Mimori’s debut as a Successor. Everyone is happy that Mimori has finally made it and now talk is rife on which name she will succeed. Her friends are also concerned if she would change into a different person. For this special event, we here the AKB0048 current Successors in an interview on their feelings when they succeeded. Elsewhere, we see Mikako reporting to Chieri’s father about finding the final piece required to initiate the Centre Nova phenomenon which she believes is in this next concert because the readings of dualium crystal readings were very high. A spy? Takamina talks to Kanata and learns that she long ago had such fever too but subsided. This prompts Takamina to ask what she would do if she had all the qualities to become a Successor. What she is trying to say is that, would Kanata drive her out to become a Successor? After all, because of Takamina holding on, she couldn’t advance. Kanata doesn’t know what to answer but she knows Takamina holds a special place in her heart. On the day of Mimori’s debut concert, she wows the crowd with her new hairstyle (she cut it shorter) and will now be known as Mariko the 8th. Her fellow AKB0048 girls are in awe of her beauty and performance as a Successor and are happy she transformed into a better person. Ushiyama thought Tsubasa was still the better Mariko so Tsubasa says the reason why she succeeded that name will only be known in time. But it proves that since Mimori succeeded that name, Tsubasa is still standing her (she went by that name during her gig as AKB0048). This gives hope that even though somebody will succeed Acchan, the original one must be somewhere out there. Mariko brings Kanata on stage to tell her this is where their dream begins. She hopes Kanata would be ‘greedier’ or else she won’t become a Successor. She hopes she can be one by Christmas and it will be the best Christmas present. Kanata makes her announcement that she too will become a Successor. Lastly, Mikako has determined the 3 vital factors for the Centre Nova phenomenon: 1) A concert involving combat; 2) Atmospheric disturbance; 3) Large quantities of high purity dualium crystals. Chieri’s father is happy that his Centre Nova research has made great advancement. He puts forth his plan by sending a message to DGTO headquarters to request for launch of DES mobile fleets. Their next target is Akibastar. War is coming…

Episode 8
Yuuko remembers when she was an Understudy, she protested she wanted to do more guerrilla concerts instead of boring Akibastar otherwise she won’t get the chance to stand on a bigger stage. But Acchan told her Akibastar was once laid waste by war. It took a long time to rebuild. It is a place where suffering and grief could be reborn as new hope and for all those who love entertainment. That’s why it’s not a boring space. It is the most precious and sacred than any other place. She wants Yuuko to protect Akibastar’s radiance. The Understudies could hear Yuuko practising by herself. Despite the noisy turbine sound, they could hear her singing. Chieri feels even though she was voted the best in the General Elections, it’s like as though she is not satisfied and crying. Yuuko even ditches Ushiyama’s lessons so she can practise on her own. I guess it’s not challenging enough for her. Takamina and Kojiharu worry for her and have this feeling that she is harder to approach now and is lonelier. Tsubasa tells them Acchan once had such aura. She talked to her and hoped she would rely on them more. Although Acchan agreed, she disappeared soon after. Meanwhile Mikako talks to Yuuko if she is willing to pay the great price to stand as position 0. At the same time, Chieri’s father has mobilized the DES army as they start attacking the space defence of Akibastar. He is targeting this planet because there are massive deposits of dualium crystals underground. Meanwhile Yuuko leads an AKB008 concert on Akibastar and is shining very brightly due to the advice she got from Mikako about accepting loneliness to become Centre Nova. Those who glow brightest are haunted by the darkest shadows. They’ll envy, target and try to manipulate you.

Suddenly the red alert is sounded for everyone to evacuate underground. DES forces have broken through their defence. All AKB0048 members go into action to engage the enemy. Chieri’s father relishes the second condition for Centre Nova activation: A concert in stormy weather. Well, somebody hacked the weather on Akibastar and turns it into one. AKB0048 face their greatest war yet because the girls are no match for DES. Mikako fears this is not what is agreed on and reveals Zodiac is after the dualium and Centre Nova. This prompts Tsubasa to get her girls to protect the shrine because if anything happens to Sensei-sensei, Akibastar will be done for. Akibastar is turned into a devastated war ruin when Mikako tries to activate a concert because she feels AKB0048 radiate the most during concerts. This is when they are strongest. AKB0048 hear the song and start singing and fighting their way. Chieri’s father is amazed Mikako has played into his hand because the last condition to activate Centre Nova is a life or death battle concert. Now all he needs is a torrent of emotion that surpasses it all. Tsubasa realizes they can’t win this and with a heavy heart announces they must abandon Akibastar as the enemy is after them. Yuuko is still concerned of being position 0 so she defies Tsubasa’s orders and flies straight to the stage where only the true Centre Nova is allowed to stand. After all, she made a promise with Acchan and will become Centre Nova even if it means being alone. DES forces fire at her but her glowing Kiraras protect her. They glow even brighter as it opens up a portal from above. Tsubasa realizes this is part of Mikako’s plan to open the gate so they can bring Acchan and the rest back. Yuuko’s bright light soon engulfs the entire area. When it’s over, she disappears.

Episode 9
DES has taken over Akibastar, Yuuko is confirmed disappeared and the whereabouts of AKB0048 are unknown. At least not officially. They have barely escaped via hyperdrive on the main ship. Mikako is locked in the store as some of the girls go to ‘interrogate’ her. Why is she doing this despite being an ex-Centre Nova? She didn’t think she was one to begin with. When she was about to become one, she chickened out because she saw strange aliens from another world trying to get her! She believes all the disappeared Centre Novae vanished into another world. Those who didn’t, graduated normally. However if their ambition for radiance falters for even a moment, they will lose all the radiance they had. After Mikako graduated, she became a camerawoman to stay by their side and protected them from disappearing. But inviting a DES attack? Mikako met Chieri’s father and was told about the mysterious substance called dualium that holds a certain power. He believes it can link 2 worlds. He also knew she had a glimpse of the other world when she almost became Centre Nova. Those aliens are actually Kiraras. As Kiraras react differently to humans will and amplifies their power in response, in ancient times, entertainment was somewhat a communication ritual to the Gods or other worlds. DES was trying to capture AKB0048 alive and the Kiraras for military purposes since a Centre Nova makes the Kiraras glow brightly. But didn’t what Mikako did is a contrast to what she said about protecting them? She couldn’t answer.

Later Tsubasa tells the girls that Mikako’s intention was to save the disappeared Centre Novae by opening the gate to the other world. She thought of using them to do that and help Zodiac but she was double crossed instead. The girls still have doubts on Mikako but Tsubasa understands how she feels because she wants to see Acchan again. She thinks Sensei-sensei might have the same thinking since he brought back the General Elections. There is one way they can save them and is to create another Centre Nova. Nagisa wants to take up this challenge and save Yuuko. Suzuko finds that there are no more websites on AKB0048. Have DES clammed down on it and fans bowed to their pressure? Suddenly the red alert goes off. A DES mothership has found them when they tried to established connections with Akibastar and were traced. DES launches its mini robots to attack them. The main ship is still damaged to it will take time for the hyperdrive to start up. The ship takes lots of damage and in a way it frees Mikako. She doesn’t hesitate to steal an LAS to fly away and escape. The rest are shocked that she intends to betray and report everything back to Zodiac but she buys time for the hyperdrive and fights back the DES machines. How can a single woman like her kick ass? Maybe it’s because she has a glowing Kirara and is singing. You don’t see DES doing that, right? That’s why all their missiles can’t reach her. Haha. But Mikako eventually takes a hit and resigns to her fate. Before she is going to be blown away, Takamina rescues her. Although she hasn’t forgiven her, they need all the allies they can get. With all the other girls lending their moral support, Mikako goes back with Takamina in time before their hyperjump.

Episode 10
The gang has landed on an alien planet. While the ship undergoes repairs, Tsubasa wants the girls to find out more about this planet. Nagisa talks to Chieri who is still bent on confronting her father. Nagisa tells about her own experience whereby her father initially was against her joining AKB0048. She showed how serious she was and now he is supporting her. She believes Chieri’s father will be like that too if she tells him her feelings. Orine and Yuuka are somewhat lost when a little alien creature (I thought it was Pokemon) fell into Orine’s arms. It takes a liking for her so Orine names it Mofufu. That night when everyone is sleeping in their camp, giant monsters attack them. However they leave the girls alone and only took back Mofufu. Orine wants to go save it but Tsubasa reminds her about their situation. They are running away from DES and once repairs are complete, they will leave this planet and thus not to do anything rash. However Orine won’t listen and goes off to find Mofufu along with her Lancastar friends. They see the aliens and at first Orine thought it was going to eat Mofufu when suddenly the place is under siege by DES. More precisely, Zodiac machines. Orine realizes that monster is Mofufu’s mother as it was trying to protect it. The girls research and find out this planet, Funghistar is inhabited by those peace loving monsters called Funghi. Because Funghistar has lots of dualium properties, it has become Zodiac’s mining ground. They did hideous tactics like taking Funghi offspring hostage to lure the adults out. They don’t care about the creatures and are just here for the crystal. It is no wonder they are aggravated when they see humans. AKB0048 reach the core that has a massive dualium crystal. It also serves as a healing place for the Funghi creatures. Orine tries to talk to them that they want to help them out. Seriously? Those Funghi don’t speak human language, girl.

Sayaka starts singing because if their words don’t reach them (obviously), their feelings through their songs might. When the girls start singing, I thought the Funghi seemed more aggravated than before. But when they see the little ones jumping in joy, the adults also join in and it feels funny to see them support the girls like idol fans. Zodiac machines are seen approaching and ready to attack so the girls get ready to fight back. Their singing causes the dualium and Kiraras to glow even brighter and more powerful. It is responding to their song and everyone becomes one with the planet. So great that a barrier is created and disables all of Zodiac’s machines! Tsubasa couldn’t believe her eyes when she thinks she saw Sensei-sensei in the dualium’s core. Orine now seems to be able to communicate with the Funghi. At least she knows what they are saying. They consider them their friends and give a dualium crystal to them. Tsubasa, Ushiyama and Mikako rewatch the resonance video again and realize it is the same power that Yuuko gave off. They realize the dualium reacted to their emotions to create a powerful barrier. If every member learns how to achieve maximum resonance with dualium, taking Akibastar back is possible. But when AKB0048 return, they say Nagisa and Chieri are missing. The duo have snuck on board a Zodiac ship that is returning to Sagitarriusstar. Chieri is taking up Nagisa’s advice to tell her father how she feels.

Episode 11
They sneak into Sagitarriusstar and Chieri knows moving around freely for them is impossible. So she calls Yasunaga and he drives them back to Chieri’s residence. The duo wait and relax in Chieri’s room while Yasunaga makes arrangement to see her father. Chieri somewhat knows they won’t see him soon because he has always busy with work. It’s the same when her mother and big brother died. She was always alone in this mansion and had servants as companions. Chieri first discovered AKB0048 when she accidentally peeked into her father’s PDA. She was enthralled with the footage and with Yasunaga’s help, she manages to obtain more of their clips. Chieri’s father one day took her to Lancastar as part of a routine inspection. That’s when she first met Nagisa and co. They become her first friends as she lets them know about AKB0048. We also saw them attending the guerrilla concert then and that was when Chieri wanted to become part of it. But after the concert in which a Kirara started following her, upon returning, her father knew she had attended the concert. Since she said it stopped glowing after the concert, her father dismisses her as no talent, reminding her that entertainment is prohibited and AKB0048 are terrorists. She tried to plead to him but was given the cold shoulder. When he is swamped with work, Chieri sang outside the room but breaks down since he totally ignored her. Her words didn’t reach him. However she had one fond memory of him. When she fell asleep outside after that, she noticed her father picking her up and bringing her back to her room. She felt his warmth. Although she was told that Yasunaga was the one who did it, she still believes it was her father. Suddenly Zodiac SPs barge into the room to take them into custody to see Chieri’s father. Do they need to do these to a pair of harmless girls? Well, AKB0048 is considered a terrorist unit, right? But as pointed out, this is to keep them in their custody so DES won’t find them.

Meanwhile Nagisa’s dad is brought to see Chieri’s father (recently he was given a position transfer to mining dualium). He read his report which is supported with facts that planets that do not enforce the Entertainment Ban have higher productivity than those without. He finds it fascinating. So after all that arrangement, Chieri only gets to talk to her father via video conferencing? Anyway, he has been observing her growth and is impressed with her talent. Chieri knows he only wants her to become Centre Nova so he could use her. That’s why he interfered and increased her popularity. He shows AKB0048’s ship hovering above Sagitarriusstar and can easily request for DES attack. Chieri warns her father not to lay a finger on Nagisa or AKB0048 and will do as he wants to become Centre Nova. He wants her to show her radiance and she will show her feelings to him. On her way, she sees Nagisa’s dad. She talks to him and feels envy the understanding parents Nagisa has. However he cautions her not to get the wrong idea. He never approved his daughter to join AKB0048 and believed the paths they walk were different. Despite so, they’ll never stop being a family. He tells Chieri that her father is a lonely man and doesn’t realize it. Despite hearing his twisted expression and revelling how his daughter will become Centre Nova, he feels he is just looking for somebody to walk beside him. Outside the door to her father’s office, Chieri starts singing as her radiance glows brighter. This is the radiance he has been looking for. Suddenly a gunshot is heard. She feels something is wrong. When Chieri opens the door, she is devastated to see her father lying in his own pool of blood and a bullet hole in the window. Nagisa and Chieri return to AKB0048’s ship as Nagisa consoles the latter, obviously very shaken at what happened.

Episode 12
The assassin still remains free and news spread about Zodiac’s CEO’s assassination. Chieri’s mental state is unstable and thus Tsubasa excludes her from participating in their operation to take back Akibastar. Kanata can understand what Chieri is feeling since she and Sonata lost their father. However this is no time to let emotions run high. They need to stay strong so each can achieve their Centre Nova radiance and make the dualium and Kiraras glow. Mamoru’s WOTA forces are hiding in Akibastar. The atmosphere is gloomy and the life from everyone’s eyes has vanished. Because they can’t afford to get into any skirmishes with DES, Kojiharu takes them underground where the rest are hiding out. Tomochin is sick as she notes how the people of Akibastar hate them thinking AKB0048 have abandoned them. She starts to glow. Tsubasa is furious seeing AKB0048 practice and gets riled up they can do better than that. She even starts dancing to show how it’s done. Everyone is amazed the Kiraras glow but for an old lady (sorry), she doesn’t have the stamina anymore. This gives the girls motivation to do better. So much so they radiate so much and they find themselves riding a train. They see a revitalized Akibastar. When they return back to consciousness, they realize this is the key to take back Akibastar. However Nagisa is still unconscious. And Chieri too. They are still on the dream train. Nagisa sees the familiar flight of stairs and on it is Yuuko with a very broken spirit. She is depressed that even though she saw Acchan and the other Centre Nova before her, she laments she can never reach them.

They wake up and tell the rest what is happening. Tsubasa thinks they must have seen AKB48 Theatre. Before Earth was destroyed, this small place in Akihabara, Japan was where AKB48 was born. Mikako suspects Yuuko didn’t complete her journey. Although she met the requirements to initiate as a Centre Nova, she failed to do so for disappearing as one. Say what? That important condition is a frighteningly powerful sense of unity that exceeds time and space. It is a sense of becoming one with everything. The way Yuuko disappeared was as if she was feeling alone, seeking refuge in isolation. Tsubasa prepares to jump back to Akibastar and signals to WOTA and the other AKB0048 members about their timing. Tomochin tells Tsubasa that she received a message from Sensei-sensei. The key to this operation is No Name. Nagisa apologizes to Chieri for being unable to do something for her. But Chieri has made her peace, realizing the thing she always wanted behind the door will never open if she gets consumed by darkness. With her composure back, she is confident to become Centre Nova to see what is behind that door. When AKB0048 ship jumps into Akibastar, the elected members right away go into concert mode. However all the people start throwing stones and telling them to leave, calling them traitors. Scary. I know DES’ brainwashing propaganda was swift when they take this planet but this is how far their loyalty goes? The girls are afraid and getting them to radiate seems tough now. Mikako realizes amplifying and uniting emotions also lie in the people’s heart so the dualium and Kiraras won’t react via the members alone. Everything will be futile if they can’t reach the people’s hearts. AKB0048 is sad that the once friendly people of Akibastar are now turning against them but Nagisa can’t stand and watch to end like this.

Episode 13
Despite it is a very demoralizing situation, AKB0048 still have hope in the people because it is their warmth that brought them this far. They continue to sing even if the people continue to tell them to leave. Meanwhile Yuuko sees Acchan. The latter explains all Centre Novae were summoned by Sensei-sensei, more accurately the collective unconsciousness of all living things channelled through Kirara and integrated through dualium. If entertainment disappears, people’s hearts will remain in darkness. That’s why the collective unconscious formed through dualium resonance has gathered the Centre Novae in this space outside time so that the depths of humanity’s unconsciousness will never be lost. They are the light of hope and if that light disappears, people’s hearts will be swallowed by darkness. Acchan wants Yuuko and the rest to defend that in reality but Yuuko feels she can’t do it otherwise she will never be able to sing by her side or surpass her. Acchan hugs her and shows what is going on at Akibastar now. Despite all the abuses the people hurl at Nagisa, she tries to tell them that all they want is to sing and show their love. Even if they hate them, please do not hate songs and entertainment. Nagisa suddenly radiates so bright that everyone thought they see Acchan in her. Nagisa starts having fever, the kind when there is going to be a succession. DES enforces break through the barrier. While WOTA keeps them at bay, AKB0048 continue to keep singing. Everyone is surprised that the portal opens and Yuuko comes flying out to join them singing. Yuuko communicates back to Tsubasa that Acchan told her the disappeared Centre Nova are illuminating the shadows of the heart. It is now their job to illuminate the present. She has Mikako project all her photographs she took to the audience. It is then the people realize they love Akibastar. Nagisa notes even if everyone hates them, AKB0048 will never hate them. Nagisa’s Kirara shines so bright that everybody returns to support AKB0048 while calling Nagisa as Acchan.

DES forces continue to attack. A DES member almost raped Suzuko but she was saved by Chieri. At first she was brimmed with anger thinking how her father was killed. But she calms down and starts singing. The DES member who was afraid of being cut down by her sees her light and starts believing in her! Woah! She converted him just by singing! That is a much effective way and what AKB0048 is about, right? They’re here to sing and show their love. We get a rare moment between Yuuka and Mamoru (before we forget there was romance between them). Yuuka was blown out of the sky but Mamoru catches her. He vows to always protect her and almost kissed. If it makes her radiate greater, he will always watch over her. Chieri’s singing continues to convert more DES members to see the light! So great her radiance that she is giving off that resonance of a Centre Nova. The main DES battleship receives orders to capture her or eliminate her before her power grows big. The battleship crashes into Akibastar ready to capture Chieri at all cost. Chieri says they are going to use everyone’s emotions to stop DES. Chieri and Nagisa fly towards the battleship as they could feel not only the people’s emotions but those throughout the universe resonating inside them. The DES crew are stunned to see the beauty of their radiance. So now do you believe in them? Not just a single DES battleship but every one of them retreated! All hail the power of idols! Thanks to the emotions of the people who love peace and entertainment, bolstered by countless nameless emotions, the girls sang with radiance and will herald in a new era. All the Kiraras light up Akibastar like a starry filled sky and form the constellation of hope. In the aftermath, peace has returned to Akibastar and the place is rebuilt. Although the battle with DES continues, AKB0048 continues to sing with their hearts to their fans. Chieri has become the new Centre Nova while Nagisa has officially succeeded Acchan.

The Brightest Star In The Sky: Idols!
I guess this season was pretty decent although I felt the ending could have been better. Really. I thought I would see AKB0048 turn DES into an idol loving and supporting organization but I suppose it would be unrealistic to defeat an organization that big and with so many anti-entertainment people around, it is going to take a long time even if they can pull off a miracle. Let’s look at it this way. It would be cool and a happy ending for everyone in the universe if entertainment lovers and haters would end this silly war and start enjoying the shows idols put up. But without DES around, the idols wouldn’t probably have worked so hard and pushed themselves to radiate as brightly as we see them. Not to say that they will slack or laze around without DES, but there won’t be that motivation and fire to push themselves to the limits. You know, humans work best when they are pushed to a corner and during strife. It brings out the best and also the worst. That’s why it is partly thanks to them that AKB0048 exists. Thanks to them, people under such strict laws know the meaning of hope in which otherwise many would have taken granted for.

Even so, this season is still entertaining in its own right because we have the short trial of a handful of AKB0048 members, a stray visit to an ancient planet with equally strange native creatures (watching them dance along with the idols was pretty hilarious – it’s like watching your pet dog or cat getting jiggy with it, no?) and an all-out battle between AKB0048 and DES enforces on Akihabara. It was shocking for a while to see that the fans for the moment started turning their backs on AKB0048. I know they’ve been brainwashed by DES but I thought all the love that they have built up was just washed away in that instant. It is understandable they may have felt ditched and that they may have not understood the situation of why AKB0048 had to flee and look like cowards abandoning the people, but doesn’t that show how shallow their belief and faith for them? So what you’ve been a Chieri fan for ages, attending every event, getting every memorabilia on her and even gotten up close to shake her hand whenever there is such chance. Their sudden return at the wrong time when the mood is gloomy may be provocative. But can’t they tell which is better? To have the idols doing their lively performance or continuing to live with the gloom? The people of Akibastar should know better. They’ve been living on a planet that is never short of idol entertainment and to reject them means they prefer the harsh Taliban-like conditions of DES? Come on. Think, man. And entertainment believed as some sort of ritual to the Gods? Wow. I don’t think I ever saw that coming. But I can understand a little better why Shamans or native Indians do some crazy dance every time they need to communicate with the other world. I hope my stinky lame dance didn’t just summon some sort of mischievous or perverted God…

Although there is no word if there will be another season, it isn’t really the end for AKB0048 and the rest of the aspiring idols. With Chieri now as the new Centre Nova, does this mean Yuuko has relinquished hers? I suppose so because as far as I can see, there can only be one Centre Nova position at one time. Unless you’re telling me by some miracle there are two. That would defeat the purpose, right? I also guess that to end the season so as not to let Chieri hog the limelight, they gave something to Nagisa too seeing that from the start of this series, I have a feeling that it would have something to do with both of them. So whether you are a fan of Chieri or Nagisa, I guess both end up having good tidings with the former as the new Centre Nova while the latter succeeding all-time fan favourite Acchan. Even though I am satisfied with the explanation of the disappearing Centre Novae, it’s not that I fully understand. So let me get this straight. They didn’t really vanish into the other world. More like, they become one with the universe and everything and are everywhere. So even in the deepest darkest of shadows, they’ll be singing and giving hope to everyone. Just one problem. Why didn’t their voice reach DES and all those anti-entertainment people? Maybe their hate is too strong? But as shown by Chieri, it is not impossible to convert those whom they have directly come into contact. Even Nagisa’s dad is seen cheering for her at her concert in the end. So all is not lost. People do change and can change. Although some may need more convincing than others and maybe there has to be the need of contact. Seeing is believing. In that case, AKB0048 should hold more guerrilla concerts at DES headquarters. Nip the problem in the bud, I’d say.

The only thing that still bugged me was who shot Chieri’s father. Was it an act orchestrated by DES? It is confirmed that he is really dead (and not a hoax – Yasunaga was paying a tribute at his tomb in the final end credits) and though it is heart wrenching for a daughter to see her father die before her eyes, I’m glad Chieri grew stronger out of it. Whether or not Zodiac had her hand in skyrocketing her popularity, one thing is for sure. Her fans love her true blue and this is something she cannot deny. With each of the idols having their own set of fans, the love between idols and fans are reciprocal. They exist because of each other. How can you be an idol without fans? How can there be fans if there is no idol? You love me, I love you. There’s lots of love to go around so don’t be too stingy with it, eh? ;p. Besides, an idol’s job is to sing and entertain her fans and not to fight against authority. Leave it to WOTA for that part.

Animes with too many characters and shorter number of episodes would definitely have a hard time trying to flesh them all out. So for this season, I think they try to give some decent time to the rest of the Understudies. For instance they focus the spotlight on Mimori and turning her into a Successor. Last season Kanata took most of the spotlight share at the end so from what I can see here, she is just minor. Same case I feel for Suzuko, Sonata and Yuuka. It felt they were just negligible. Then they also give single episode focus on Makoto and Orine. Despite that, I still feel that it is just so that Chieri and Nagisa do not hog all the screen time. After all, the Understudies of No Name did start out as the 9 of them. I still love Makoto and forgive me if I sound like a sadist because her clumsiness and pessimism gives her character and is what makes her funny. Because she is not ‘afraid’ to show those negative traits, it gives other losers inspiration and hope. So she’s not all that useless as she think she is. So being a negative clown too has its advantages. Hey. Am I turning into a Makoto fan? Just her antics… The other amusing Understudy is Sonata because of the way she gives her weird nicknames. Put her together with Makoto and you’ve got a manzai comedy duo. If only Sonata had more impact in this season…

The other characters are also okay. Yuuko is given more prominence among the rest of the Successors since she became Centre Nova but had to shortly disappear temporarily after that. Because of that, I felt the rest of the Successors are there just to show face. Like I said, too many members, not enough time for them to show us their love ;p. Tsubasa and Ushiyama play great support to the girls but of course the idols shine because of their own efforts and determination. Casting Mikako initially as a villain, I thought it was just a slight distraction. She’s not actually a bad person, just that she is misguided and obsessed in bringing back Acchan and the rest from the other world in which they are not familiar with. Chieri’s father may also seem like a villain since he is obsessed with making his daughter shine so he could get his hands on the dualium, it is sad that we don’t get to see father and daughter reconcile or if ever deep down in his heart he sees Chieri as a daughter and not an object. As cold as he is ever, Chieri believed he once display the warmth of a father even though it was for a short while. We would like to believe it too. But seeing the way how it tragically ended, let’s just keep believing it was like that.

As we have seen, despite the strict entertainment ban in some of the planets, there are those in the top levels who flout the rules in secrecy. And they do it without shame. I guess it’s to make us feel disgust and even more hatred for these kind of low lives. Then again, you can’t stoop too low to their level and return that hatred with hatred. It might be a long shot but it is not impossible to fight hatred with love. If only these people knew the warmth and love like these idols have shown, maybe they would come to understand better. So seeing that they enjoy entertainment in secrecy, why not stop being a hypocrite and abolish the entertainment ban? I figure that if entertainment is like a rare commodity, it can only be truly ‘appreciated’ if it is enjoyed by a selected few and not by everyone of the public. Where would the ‘fun’ be if everyone enjoys the same thing? There is also this great feeling of being in power and ultimate control when you see others in misery while knowing in the comfort of your own seat you are enjoying something that others can’t. That’s why it won’t be surprising even in the real world to find leaders being caught red handed in some scandal, a total opposite of what they preach.

Although this season features much more songs from AKB48, somehow I just don’t them as appealing as they were as from the first season. Take for instance, the opening theme, Aruji Naki Sono Koe by No Name. Although sounds like their trademark typical pop, it lacks the oomph and excitement that I heard in the first season’s Kibou Ni Tsuite. I believe my taste in music is not that sophisticated either. Similarly, this season’s main ending theme, Kono Namida Wo Kimi Ni Sasagu also by No Name, despite being a slow rock, I feel it doesn’t do better than last season’s Yume Wa Nando Demo Umarekawaru. But it isn’t that bad. Just that I didn’t find it appealing enough for it to hum in my head for days or weeks (and on and off a few months down the road) as much as its predecessor themes. Although some insert songs of AKB48 like Heavy Rotation, Beginner, Aitakatta and Shoujotachi Yo that were featured in last season are also featured again here, there are more new insert songs like Blue Rose, Chance No Juban, Korogaru Ishi Ni Nare, Oogoe Diamond, Pioneer and Ue Kara Mariko. As usual, I’m not a big AKB48 fan so they sound just rather okay. Typical lively idol songs that almost sound the same. Please don’t hate me.

The ultimate lesson of this story is perhaps love conquers all. Even so, do it in moderation. Because too much love turns you into an obsessed stalker and that is just plain creepy. I would really love to see the day when we could really stop all the fighting and wars just by singing as a ‘weapon’. You move hearts and emotions with the power of words and love instead of force and bloodshed.  If you can’t change the heart, then probably you can’t change the mind either. Till then, idols for the time being are just perhaps through a cynic’s view, some money making phenomenon or fame seeking opportunist. So many idols produced today but how many can live in our hearts memorably for the rest of our lives and for many generations to come? Is this what entertainment for the future has become? By the way, the ticket for a concert still costs a bomb. You got to break your bank just to attend one of those concerts. No money = no idol love :'(. That’s just sad and tragic.

Love Get Chu

March 24, 2013

Now that I have a peek into the hectic life of a mangaka in Bakuman, it’s time for me to do the same for those being a seiyuu (voice actor). As we know a job of a seiyuu is to bring life to animated characters and for an anime buff like me, I have heard countless of voice roles with some really good ones and well, I won’t say mediocre to others because they wouldn’t really have made it if they weren’t up to mark. Love Get Chu is about 5 different girls with different ambitions trying to aim and become a seiyuu themselves. But just like any other jobs in the world, it isn’t a smooth ride because there will be obstacles to overcome if you are going to stay or even be the best in the industry. They learn a thing or two that being a seiyuu isn’t just about the voice and of course other life lessons that will have them realize what they truly love doing. Of course, the inevitable girl-meets-boy and fall in love although they start out on a bad note and quarrel most of the time.

Episode 1
Momoko Ichihara watches with awe the anime Skater Legend Lover (Sukerabu). Five years later, she takes a train down to Tokyo in her quest to become a seiyuu. She gets firsthand experience the crowded Tokyo trains and thinks somebody’s hand is touching her butt. Actually it is some stuffs belong to Atari Maeda sticking out and his happy face mistaken for being a pervert was because he is sleepy. Momoko screams at the top of the voice enough to crack the windows! She accuses the pervert when she realizes her mistake. She apologizes when they get off the next station but goes off since she is in a hurry. She is outside the audition building of Lambda Eight when a limo pulls up before her. As pointed out by Yurika Sasaki, she is a popular gravure idol, Amane Oohara. Yeah, she came complete with a red carpet and a personal maid, Kiyoka Houjou. Yurika thinks Momoko shouldn’t praise her rivals too much since they are all here for the audition. While waiting for their turn, Momoko learns Yurika is a veteran. Well, this is her fifth time and I’m sure she had no ill intentions to mean that the first four were failures, right? Momoko is eager to join Lambda Eight because of Minato Ichinose. Who? Her future husband. Oh. Keep dreaming… Yurika tries to tell her about the harsh and strict audition procedures but her friend, Tsubasa Onodera doesn’t want her to scare the newbie because she believes ability is all that is needed and not motives. Rinka Suzuki asks the gang about the swimsuits lying around. They find a box containing swimsuits and think part of the audition must have them take a swimsuit test. Keep imagining those hot stuffs… Till a staff finds the box and takes them away after realizing it got put in the wrong audition room. It’s not for them obviously. Then Eri Daimon passes by and since Momoko wonders what the director of the series Sukerabu Amamiya is doing here, Yurika points out she also director of Lambda Eight.

The audition process begins but it seems Eri is pouring cold water on the auditioners. Like Tsubasa, she only wants to play boy roles so Eri keep insisting what happens if she can only play girls roles. Yurika is talkative and positive about her dreams in this industry but Eri doesn’t feel her baseless confidence is right and might as well give up. Amane is given a tongue twister to read and slips up so she argues her voice shouldn’t just be judged but her pretty face and body as well. Rinka is nervous and stammers so Eri reminds her she expects people who come in here to be ready and comfortable with what they’re going to do. Momoko is giving mommy back hope an update status report (I guess her daddy didn’t approve of this). Rinka goes to tell Momoko she is up next. However Rinka was too shy to speak up as Momoko heads the wrong direction for the audition. Instead of going downstairs, she went up. And up and up and up till she hits the rooftop. Oh dear. Her first audition and she’s going to be late. What will she do? She screams at the top of the voice that she is lost! Wow! Enough to crack windows and send cars off the road! Despite in a sound proof room, Eri thought she heard something and requests to turn the speaker volume louder. Then she makes her way up to the rooftop. Guess what’s the first thing she did? She punches Momoko in the gut! What was that for? She commends her strong stomach muscles and tells her she doesn’t have to come for the audition. Oh, she’s so screwed. While everyone is nervously waiting for the results, Eri and the other judges argue who to take in. A guy wants to bring in new seiyuus for the industry but Eri is not in favour of lowering their standards. Hisatoki Edogawa points out to some of the ‘weird’ traits the main characters have and thinks Eri is interested in them too. In the end, our main quintet pass the audition. Momoko is so surprised that she lets loose a deafening scream. Then she realizes she has no place to stay. Yurika suggests an old mansion on the hilltop she can stay for a few days and the rent is cheap. Upon entering, she sees Atari and remembers the ‘pervert’. Maybe this time it’s for real because his towel comes undone. Another high pitched scream, I guess. Hope this doesn’t bring down the old mansion.

Episode 2
Momoko dreams of making it big as a seiyuu and dating Minato. Shucks, it’s all just a dream. Till Atari pops up. Phew. Thank goodness it was all a dream. Momoko meets the dorm manager, Runa Narita as she learns last night ‘perverted’ incident was because Atari was fixing the shower. Had she not knocked him out cold with her bag then. Runa knows Momoko because Yurika called her. Momoko also finds out Atari is an animator and his tough job line means he is sleeping whenever he can. So when his handphone starts ringing and he’s not waking up, Momoko picks it up on his behalf and tells the other line not to bug him since he’s tired. She shuts his handphone off. Since breakfast is soon, Runa hopes Momoko could wake him up. How? Use her loud voice! What a rude awakening. Yeah, everyone is wakened up too. Maybe she should be their alarm clock. Runa introduces Momoko to the other residents. Mayu Kawamura the poor college student, Aoki Yukia the passionate sports instructor, snack bar hostess Junko Wakatsuki, studious lawyer wannabe Sendai (wondered how many times he has failed…). Momoko introduces herself and her goal to be a seiyuu. I’m sure they’re getting ahead of themselves that she’ll become famous. Momoko also explains what a seiyuu is and is glad to demonstrate. She goes back to her room to pick up her precious script book but to her horror, it’s missing. Since Runa is busy, she has Atari help her look for it. I guess he has a crush on her, the only reason why he would help out.

The script book is a precious present she received from the programme and it had Minato’s signature on it. Let’s say that’s where her dream took off. However Atari warns her the harsh realities of becoming a seiyuu as not many can become pros (hinting his own dream failure). She didn’t like his pessimism and vows that nothing is impossible because it’s like he has given up before he started. The search is called off when Atari realizes his handphone is off and is late for work. In his workplace, his colleagues are rife with rumours that he may have got a girlfriend. Momoko attends the voice training institute and the strict teacher, Mizuko Takemiya has the students introduce themselves. If you’re nervous, you’re out. Momoko is nervous but feels the need to make herself stand out so she volunteers to introduce herself. Takemiya doesn’t seem impress and has the girls know that they’re not going to be just reading lines behind a mic. She is going to grind the basics of everything into them and that includes physical stamina and body training. And they think being a seiyuu is just about the voice, eh? Takemiya warns them impatient ones usually drop out and only 10% will be accepted after all the training. Out of that, only a few can become pros. Atari’s words start ringing in Momoko’s head. Atari comes home tired but sees Momoko depressed. Runa hopes Atari could talk to her and cheer her up but I guess there is no need for it because Momoko has found her script book. It was in the wrong luggage and that baggage just arrived today from Kyoto. Runa requests her to demonstrate but Momoko apologizes that she can’t. She will only do so when she becomes a real seiyuu.

Episode 3
It’s that usual good morning awakening courtesy from Momoko again. Effective because everyone’s up. Sendai is looking up on a law on noise disturbance! Momoko notices Atari not at the breakfast table and the others point out it’s no surprise due to his work nature, he will be ‘missing’ for several days straight. Momoko thinks of being in Takemiya’s good books by coming early (keep dreaming) but she faces the same intense rivalry from her seiyuu rivals. So intense that when they try entering the door together, the knob broke! Look what you’ve done now. Takemiya has the girls do kanji dictation (write on the board what she says). Momoko and Amane suck in this but Takemiya points out it is not something bad. Because they know their weaknesses and abilities, they can do their best and improve. Momoko realizes how poor she is when she doesn’t even have money to buy a cheap book and can only afford plain water! Her bank account is close to nil! Her friends suggest taking up a part time job like some of them. Momoko speaks to Runa about her problem when Atari just came back in time. She tells him Momoko’s issue (Atari’s company is hiring part timers) but after seeing how clumsy she is, he knows he’ll be in for trouble and will only have his workload increase. So he lies his company already has enough people. But still, Runa’s worried about newbie Momoko and perhaps this kindness has Atari fooled into taking responsibility to help her secure a part time job. Atari learns Momoko did part times job in Kyoto before. Guess what? She got fired in a day. At a bookstore, she got infatuated reading Sukerabu books and at a ramen shop, she got distracted watching the Sukerabu on TV instead of serving. Momoko spots a job she likes. She’s gone before Atari knew what’s going on. He tails her and finds her working at a maid cafe. She seems pretty natural but didn’t expect her to serve him (he is in a disguise). As part of the job, she tries feeding him while he resists. The struggle has her spill fried rice over his pants. She wants to clean it and their hands accidentally met. She thinks he was on purpose trying to make her hand touch ‘that part’ and beats him up. His disguise falls off. Guess what? She got fired.

Walking back, Momoko reveals she took up that job thinking it was a good experience to act out as a maid serving her master. They pass by a figurine store and Atari passionately narrates the quality animation of an anime director, Ken Kagimoto (who is also his boss). He stops short of finishing his story because he works under his company and doesn’t want Momoko to find out for fear she might come to visit him at work. Atari’s colleague, Kumano happens to walk out of the store. He thinks she is his girlfriend. Since she continues to bug Atari about his company, Kumano tells everything. So surprised that Momoko lets loose her loud shockwave. I think a major traffic accident just happened. The trio chill out at a diner as Kumano explains Atari joined the company because of his love for Sukerabu that produces that anime (though the company is an associated company formed by Kagimoto). Atari has dreams of making something big that would move audiences like that. Atari dozes off and doesn’t wake up as his handphone rings. Momoko picks it up and the other person is anxious for him to get some job done. Atari wakes up in his workplace (Kumano carried him back) and is being told that a part timer has been hired to complete his job. In view of this, Kagimoto gives him more work and to be completed next morning. Guess who the part timer is? Yeah. Momoko. Right off the bat, she already did some mistakes bringing in the wrong stuffs. Though one of the staff, Shinsuke Yamashita is forgiving and nice, he acts cold towards Atari and wants him to get it right. What’s with the double standards? As feared, his workload goes up correcting her mistakes. Though Momoko feels bad, she will do her best with her kanji dictation practice. Till Runa points out all the wrong answers she wrote…

Episode 4
Despite the alarm clock having Momoko’s voice and not even in loud mode, it is still enough to wake Atari up and in a frantic. I guess the conditioning is already there. In class, Momoko is made to recite a hellish takegaki tongue twister. Her nervousness stems from the part when she discovered from her friends that Takemiya was a seiyuu in many famous old animes. The quintet girls are assigned to help out in an event at Ikebukuro for fans that will feature Yuumi Nakamura the singer. They are to take this chance to observe and learn from their seniors on how stars interact with their fans. Momoko is disappointed that it’s not their stage debut till she hears Minato is going to be the emcee. Though Eri warns of not being late and one screw up means you are dismissed. But Momoko is totally over the moon. In cloud nine. She’ll do whatever it takes. So happy that she waltzes into Atari’s workplace despite today being her day off (this means Atari has to do her share of donkey work, eh?). She gets delighted when Kumano gives her a box filled with Sukerabu videos. So happy with the gifts that she starts watching them till the wee hours of the morning. Naturally, this means she gets up late on the all-important day, right? Don’t stand there and get appalled. Start running! Well, can she make it? Thankfully Yamashita and Atari spot her along the way and have her get into the car. Can they make it? Well, Yamashita’s car is fitted with some rocket turbo! Oh sh*t! Hold on tight! So fast that it can drive up the walls!!! And he’s such a pro diver too! Freaking awesome!!!  But there is a traffic jam so it’s up to Atari and Momoko to borrow his double seater bicycle and peddle as hard as they can. Meanwhile the girls are worried about Momoko’s no-show and Eri doesn’t give a damn and wants them to forget about that irresponsible person because they have lots of preparation to do.

When Momoko arrives, no amount of apology would do as Eri tells her to go home (lots of ticking off included). Even when Minato and Yuumi comes in, Momoko isn’t in the mood to get all hysteric when she sees her idol in the flesh. She feels awkward when Eri introduces them to her other friends and leaves her out in one corner. Suddenly the power goes out just before the event starts. Somewhere away from the event, a crane fell and damaged the power cables. Fixing things will take too long and they can’t cancel the event as the fans are waiting. Momoko decides to go on stage and do something about it. Eri wanted to stop her but Minato wants to see what she can do. Despite not having a plan, she manages to catch the crowd’s attention. Then she flawlessly recites the takegaki tongue twister 3 times!!! Can you say all that???!!! Hats off to her for such impeccable tongue twisting! It’s no wonder the crowd loves her. Hear them give their rousing applause. So, does she work well under pressure? The backup generator starts working so the event resumes. While Momoko takes a breather at the backstage, she gets the best present when Minato pats her head. Though Eri continues to admonish her for doing what she wants, at least it’s a sign that she appreciates it since she wants her to correct that tongue twister with Takemiya’s help.

Episode 5
Rinka thinks of quitting the seiyuu business. We see Momoko up early doing morning exercise because Lambda Eight will be holding their annual relay race for trainees. Rumours have it that the winner will get her seiyuu debut because Yuumi was on the winning team a few years ago. So as Momoko and her friends train, she notices diligent Rinka not showing up. Yurika thinks she knows where Rinka is. Momoko visits the doujin convention in Tokyo and is surprised to see Rinka cosplaying in front of her diehard fans. Rinka in turn is surprised to see her. During the break, Momoko learns Rinka is a seiyuu for doujin games. However Rinka says she is doing it as a hobby and plans to quit. She got into the world of seiyuu when her friend invited her to try out voicing a doujin game. Though she got hooked and became famous among her fans, the transition into a real seiyuu is tough and not what she had expected. The last straw came when the relay race was announced. She doesn’t have the stamina and doing such physical stuff will only tire her out and be a burden to the rest. Suddenly Momoko says out a line from Sukerabu and she’s very convincing in it. But I guess she got carried away in praising that motivating scene. Since Momoko needs to leave for a job, she hopes Rinka will run together in the race. Rinka isn’t given time to reply her own feelings that she doesn’t want to join. While the friends think less rivals would be better for them, Momoko is confident that Rinka will turn up for the race.

Unfortunately come race day, Rinka’s nose is nowhere to be seen and as usual, Momoko has to plead to Eri not to disqualify them due to lack of members. She has them make Rinka as the anchor and if that point she still doesn’t turn up, they’ll be disqualified for good. The race starts with Momoko making a good start and building up a gap between the rest. Then she passes the baton to Yurika followed by Tsubasa. Their lead may just be eaten away because Amane is damn slow! Even the kids are running faster than her! If anybody is slower than her, it’s because they slow down to admire those ‘bouncy jugs’. It’s mind boggling that running that slow makes her the one catching her breath the most in the end. However Rinka still hasn’t turned up and Momoko is a second away from admitting to be disqualified. Suddenly the devil turns up. Rinka takes over the race for the final stretch but her pessimism is still there. She is about to give up when Momoko runs up besides her. She is going to run along with her to the finish line. Rinka gets the extra power to push herself and as noted by Takemiya, despite not turning up for the daily race practice, she did practice her daily seiyuu exercises so that in turn helped her built her stamina. Rinka and Momoko cross the finish line together. Later it is revealed that Rinka, who never watched Sukerabu before, went and bought the entire collection and watched it straight and thus overslept. Guess what? She is totally addicted to the show now as we see the Sukerabu enthusiasts discuss their favourite and important scenes.

Episode 6
Tsubasa rushes to class and tumbles down the stairs but is helped up by a guy. Today, Takemiya will have the girls practice a scene behind a mic with another seiyuu. The point of this exercise is to make them be aware of their weak points. Because the scene is about a girl going out on a date, Tsubasa hopes that she could take on a male role. Unfortunately, that role is already given out to Akira Shinjou, the guy who helped Tsubasa earlier on and their senior who graduated from this institute a year ago. Tsubasa starts the practice off but she doesn’t seem to be able to put the right emotions into her dialogue so Takemiya wants her to brush up before next week’s practice. Later as the girls rest, Tsubasa laments she hasn’t been on dates before, that’s why she doesn’t know how a girl is supposed to feel. I guess the other girls also claim they haven’t been on a date before. Tsubasa goes to thank Akira and Rinka hatches a plan when she observes them interact naturally. They plan to have Tsubasa go out on a date with Akira tomorrow at the park and use this experience to improve her acting. Don’t worry. Rinka has mini microphones and ear piece to guide her. Tsubasa meets Akira at the park and the plan seems to be going well be it riding the roller coaster or tea cup ride. Why does Rinka sound like she’s a pro in this area? For the setup in the haunted house, I guess the house was scary enough for the girls so why bother trying to setup something even scarier? I don’t know what Amane brought in her box but it scared the hell out of everybody and Amane herself knocked out cold. So as Rinka prepares herself as a ghost, Yurika and Momoko fool around and cause them all to fall inside the mini lake. Well, at least their scream is real. Tsubasa sees the trio in the lake and realizes she is on her own. But when she tries to fake being scared, they’re already near the exit.

Later when they pass a hero show billboard, Tsubasa reveals she always liked such animes targeted for boys and after watching so many of them, it became a reason why she wanted to voice boys’ roles only. That’s why she can’t do girls’ role. Akira says she should act like herself. There must be a girl on a date that only she can portray and the most important thing to do on a date is to have fun. So here is round 2 of their date. Come next week’s practice, Tsubasa is so convincing with her lines that it is as though she wasn’t acting! She’s like the real deal. Even Takemiya praises her vast improvement. Later her friends spy them on the rooftop. What’s this? Tsubasa going to confess to Akira? This is not an act I believe. The moment we’ve all been waiting for is interrupted when Edogawa goes to congratulate Akira for passing an audition. Seems he has landed a role of a girl’s role like he always wanted. Eh? What does this mean? Akira is a girl!!! Oh sh*t! Poor Tsubasa. Such heartbreak. Because Akira has this voice and looks, it’s hard for her to get girls’ role. Sometimes she gets mistaken as a male on the street. Akira admits she is the opposite from Tsubasa and always had an interest in voicing female roles and that’s how she got into this seiyuu business. Tsubasa’s friends try to cheer her up by throwing a party but Tsubasa has now got a new goal. Since Akira is a pro who can voice both male and female roles, Tsubasa is going to be a great seiyuu like her.

Episode 7
Yurika wakes up from a dream whereby she was bullied by other kids. Atari stood up for her so she naturally takes a liking for him. In class, Yurika flawlessly masters another tongue twisting line. While the rest has their lines memorized, only Momoko is unable to do so. Yurika agrees to help her practice but I guess this is part of her intention to visit Atari. They thought he is watching a perverted video but it turns out to be his debut as an animator for the series Magical Girl Moe Moe Moa-chan. See his name in the credits? But the girls tease him he is still an underling in the company. As Yurika leaves, she hears Momoko making a statement to Atari that if she debuts as a seiyuu, she’ll lend her voice to his animations. He teases her back that her poor voice would be a poor match to his animations. Yurika remembers Atari was good at drawing and his dream to become an animator. This made her wonder if she should become a seiyuu. He is confident she could do it and if she does, he’ll animate them. They made a promise on that. Yurika wonders if he has forgotten about it. Despite Momoko doing well in some speed speech practice, her friends had to rain on her parade that this isn’t going to be enough to pass the promotion exam and that it’s a long way to go before they can debut. Yurika hears more disheartening news how a senior’s debut fell through. Despite doing well in training, it proves that success isn’t guaranteed. A man named Kuroiwa mistakes Yurika sitting alone on the bench for someone waiting for him. She thought he’s some pervert and slaps him. Later at the cafe she apologizes for that and realizes he is from a voice acting agency. The seiyuu he was supposed to meet stood up on him so that’s why he had mistaken her. Since his agency has hardly any seiyuus and he is trying to promote new ones to the industry, he offers Yurika to debut in his agency. Of course she’s going to take this chance.

Yurika talks to Eri that she is quitting. Though she can’t give her reasons, she is confident she will not regret this one. Momoko seems to be the most devastated one hearing this news. So when the duo talk, Yurika reveals she has someone she loves. That person supported her, the reason she could come this far and thus she wants to debut as soon as possible. Later Eri summons Momoko about Yurika’s decision and I suppose Momoko is such a poor liar that she accidentally reveals the agency name. Eri tells her that Kuroiwa is one of the most corrupted men in the industry. He would con students out of their registration money with promise of debuting and make them do shady jobs that many are embarrassed to talk about. Atari sees Yurika heading into a building and is puzzled because he remembers she had lessons with Momoko. He calls Momoko to confirm it so Eri and Momoko rush to where he is right now. Yurika is in a midst of a photo shoot when Kuroiwa wants her to be more daring and strip. She refuses so he gets rough and threatening. Besides, she already signed a contract so she is his merchandise. She feels helpless when suddenly the building starts shaking. Earthquake? Nope. It’s Momoko shouting at the top off her voice! The distraction has Yurika yelling out her whereabouts. Eri’s sharp hearing has her determined the exact room Yurika is in! Atari rushes in to protect her. Kuroiwa panics when he sees Eri. He tries to worm his way out with excuses that he is giving talented seiyuus a debuting chance when Lambda Eight is so busy. Guess what? She gives him a judo throw and rips the contract. A contract made by a conman is not binding. She warns him never to lay his finger on her students. NEVER… Even the cameraman knows what’s good for him and obediently gives his camera, in which Eri breaks the memory card with the snap of her fingers! Holy cow! Yurika cries in the arms of Atari. In the aftermath, Yurika although got scolded by Eri, was also forgiven. She says she wanted to be a seiyuu so badly that’s why she rushed into being one. When they came to her rescue, she felt very happy. She makes a new promise with Atari that when she debuts, he’ll animate that anime. He agrees to her relief. Momoko guesses that Atari is the one Yurika loves.

Episode 8
Amane’s father, Heizou makes his entry into Lambda Eight. I understand he is a big star from the famous historical period series, Grand General Oedo but employing ninjas as his workers? WTF?! Anyway as Heizou talks to Eri, he wants Amane to quit voice acting. That’s because he wants her to be an actress and has already decided her debut in the upcoming Grand General Oedo The Movie. She will be featured in its series subsequently. Amane refuses to do that but Heizou doesn’t view highly of voice acting because he doesn’t consider that as true acting. Momoko has been eavesdropping and didn’t like the way he insulted the industry and crashes in to give her piece of mind. If the other girls didn’t restrain her, she would’ve him beaten up. Well, at least she gets to say and do what she wants without thinking about the repercussions. Heizou has his ninjas take Amane away. Don’t mess with them. Their swords are for real and they even used a real smoke screen to escape! Despite being told by Eri not to meddle in such private affairs, Momoko isn’t going to wait around for a miracle turnaround since their friend who shares the same dream is in trouble. So much to Kiyoka’s happiness that the quartet decide to help Amane out. Kiyoka explains Amane has been strictly raised and groomed for acting. She wanted to go into voice acting to step out of her father’s shadow that’s why she secretly joined Lambda without her father’s approval. The gang arrive in Amane’s traditional Japanese mansion. Looks like a castle… To avoid suspicions from the ninja guards, Kiyoka has them dressed as maids. Though the ninjas are sharp, they’re still dumb because they’re being fooled by Kiyoka as new employees and hope to organize a mixer. Kiyoka knows Amane is confined in one of the confinement cells but doesn’t know it in much detail. Momoko accidentally steps on a trapdoor and falls through. The alarm is set. Now what? Run! Momoko also has to do lots of running or else be done in by the ridiculous traps.  Despite Kiyoka and the rest being cornered by the ninjas, Kiyoka manages to give them the slip by bluffing about some mixer. I guess ninjas like them are so busy that they take out their schedules to compare the free days they have. The girls use this distraction to escape.

Momoko somehow wandered to where Amane is being held (she only has the script for the movie as company). The latter seems to have accepted her fate but Momoko tells her off to stand up and make him understand via her actions. If you are wondering why Momoko sounds so confident and convincing saying that, note that it’s a line from her Sukerabu series. Momoko goes off to find help from the rest but ends up in Heizou’s room. She has a showdown with him, telling him about their voice acting can also move people’s hearts. He is not impressed and sends her falling through another trapdoor. Not again. Heizou goes see Amane for her decision when Momoko crashes in from the ceiling. Where the hell does the trapdoor lead, I don’t know. Though Momoko continues to say what she wants, Heizou isn’t going to listen. Elsewhere Kiyoka and the girls are being cornered by the ninjas. This time they are hard up for the mixer! So happen they are in the electrical room. To distract, they pull the breaker switch! Total blackout! In this moment of darkness, Amane uses her acting skills and recites a line from the movie. Heizou plays along with her. Suddenly, he is transported into the movie. How can this be? Is her performance so good that he is seeing such visions with her voice? I don’t think he’s hallucinating either. Although this proves Amane can act well, her dad says she needs more improvement. But the breakthrough is that he acknowledges acting with one’s voice can indeed move people’s heart. He frees Amane and lets her do what she wants. Though Momoko doesn’t understand what has happened, she’s glad everything is resolved. Well, not everything. Because Kiyoka and the rest are hiding in the locker of the ninjas’ changing room! Of all places, why did they choose to cram themselves in such a small space?

Episode 9
Momoko thought he could go wake sleepyhead Atari up but it seems Yurika beat her to it. Yeah, 3 alarm clocks aren’t enough to wake that kid up. But why does Momoko feel so irritated? As hinted by Runa, when the rival appears, it’s survival! Momoko’s spacing out is so obvious that she misses her next stop on the train. In class, Takemiya tells her students that there will be a special promotion that will give them an opportunity to work as a seiyuu apprentice but it’s not going to be easy. Momoko may be over the moon but it’s going to take more than her cheery disposition to pass because as stated, it’s not unusual to go 3 years without anyone passing. At the park, Momoko and Yurika renew their friendly rivalry towards their seiyuu dream when Momoko suddenly remembers she forgot to take her enunciation book left behind at Lambda Eight’s rooftop. She rushes back and didn’t even notice taking the same lift with Minato till he had to point out to her that she’s that takegaki girl. Learning that she is undergoing a special promotion, he invites her for a private lesson tomorrow. You think she would miss this chance? So happy this girl that she goes to bug Atari at work and tell him what happened (including her fantasy crap about getting married to her idol). However all that happiness suddenly just disappears when Atari gets a call from Yurika to meet tomorrow. She teases him it’s like they’re going on a date but it only serves to irritate her even further. Next morning, Runa thought Momoko was going on a date with Atari but she tells him the truth. Look how disappointed Runa’s face is. At the studio, Minato starts practice off by giving her read a script from his weekly TV series he is voicing. However since one of the characters she is playing sounds close to Yurika’s name, she can’t concentrate. So much so her mind kept wandering off and worried about the date Atari and Yurika are having now. Minato tells her off that she’s not putting her emotions in and stops the lesson. He won’t waste time with a novice who doesn’t even try. Momoko heads back depressed and bumps into Atari on the way in. Obviously he could tell she is lying that her outing was fun. It descended into an argument with both of them challenging each other that the loser must do what the winner says for a day. And Runa can only sigh while watching the lover’s quarrel…

Later Momoko finds out from Yurika that she was just trying to find an old anime with a seiyuu who passed the special promotion and had Atari guide her. In the bath, Runa tells it straight to Momoko that she is in love with Atari. Just that she can’t admit it herself but if she battles it out with Yurika, it may become clear. Momoko takes up the challenge since there’s no point moping. During the special promotion test, the usual quintet are to perform via reading a script from the characters they choose. Momoko and Yurika pick characters that are main rivals to each other and it seems their outburst is very convincing. Are they really just acting? Plus, the script seems to suspiciously mirror about their feelings for a certain guy. I guess it must be very tiring ticking off the other but I guess it’s all just acting because the duo shake hands in the end. The results are out and there is one qualifier: Amane. Although she made mistakes and some slips, she had important and proper skills while standing in front of a mic and keeping her eyes on the script. She also kept in mind the balance between the other cast members. As for Momoko and Yurika, they were trying to ‘defeat the enemy’ and forgot that this is a team effort. Back to square one. Meanwhile we see how bored Runa is because she’s playing paper sumo with Momoko and Yurika. The score she kept has them at a tie. She really likes to see where the romance drama is going between them, eh? So this is perhaps why she is always so ‘busy’.

Episode 10
Obviously Momoko is depressed that she didn’t pass so the dorm residents try to cheer her up. I guess it didn’t work because she just hit rock bottom when she accidentally hit her foot on the table leg. Amane is in an audition for a major role for some anime but it seems the producers are not keen on her despite doing well. In the end, she wasn’t given the role or any minor role at all. Edogawa wanted to fight on for her but Eri feels this will be good experience for her since it was too early to cast her into audition right after passing the test. Naturally, Amane too gets depressed as she starts questioning what she lacks. Edogawa sees Momoko and co to ask if they are free to help out with a Child Girls event at West Ikebukuro. Yuumi is the main seiyuu for this show and the last minute planning has messed things quite a bit. Since Amane is there to help out with the promotion, Edogawa hopes that they can be there to support her thinking she’ll feel better if her friends are around. Plus, this will also be a great chance for them to learn too. Because Momoko doesn’t know what Child Girls is, she enlists Atari’s help to explain. Let’s say it is some magical girl anime popular with girls. At the event, Amane is surprised to see her friends. But it feels good to be back with them again. I don’t know how Momoko can move in that bulky monkey mascot outfit. The event begins with Yuumi going on stage followed by the rest. Ironically if this show is popular with girls, how come there are so many male otaku fans in the crowd?

The Q&A session, the show is suddenly hijacked by the Space Boss from the evil Galactic Alliance. Are they trying to pull off a hero-like programme? It seems these characters are from the anime Space Boss Red Ten that is popular with boys. The crowd loves this cross-over promo but then the organizers and the staffs on stage realize this is a mix up. Well, Space Boss and her underlings got on the wrong stage. Whoops. Because this isn’t in the script, Yuumi isn’t going to do this and hands the mic to Amane and walks off. Amane freezes as she doesn’t know what to do. Eri notes that despite Amane being able to read well from scripts, she is bad at adlibbing and this doesn’t make her a versatile actress. The crowd is getting uneasy over the silence too so Momoko sees Atari in the midst and starts getting into her usual adlib act. She starts off by telling the baddies this is their stage and will challenge them. Her friends follow suit. Of course being the baddies mean you can’t easily leave so they put up a defiant act. The big ‘brawl’ begins with athletic Tsubasa and Rinka pulling off some moves to amaze the crowd. Best promo event ever? The crowd totally love the girls. Space Boss and her goons ‘lost’ and leave the stage. So Yuumi, regretting you left the stage? Who’s stealing the spotlight now? Thanks to their brave efforts and the event’s success, the quartet have been promoted from trainees to apprentice seiyuus. Though Eri is still reserved that they should take their time to be moulded, Edogawa believes in them and can’t let their talent go to waste. So now that their dream has come true, they can look forward to work with Amane together again. And yeah, they’re not dreaming.

Episode 11
Momoko and her friends learn that they will be auditioning for a role as a heroine in an anime that Minato is working with as part of some plan to free up his schedule. The heroine is Misumaru and was from a popular story, Devil Sherlock. However there aren’t many lines on her. Rinka leaves. Why? She knows the role will go to Yuumi since the character fits her well. Though the girls agree but Takemiya wonders if they’re going to give up before it even starts. They should think positive or else they’ll forever be stuck like this. She hints that this may be their chance to beat Yuumi. Momoko tries to get into this Misumaru character by talking like her (she sucks), staring at her picture (she lost obviously) and doing research on the internet. Behold! The infinite amount of information on the web! Scary, huh? So surprised that Misumaru is such a popular character, she is curious enough to check out a forum with a poll to see which seiyuu is fitted to play the character. Guess who? Yup. Yuumi. Momoko regrets doing this much research because now it seems she’s like an obsessed Yuumi fan! As the other girls prepare to take on the character their own way, Momoko rents all the DVDs that features Yuumi. I guess she needs a week so she can’t return them in an hour for free. Skip lunches! She then bumps into Minato who happens to be free and requests his help to assess her lines practice. At the end of it, Minato is frank with her as she requested. He fails her! He can’t work with her! She was trying to imitate Yuumi. Worse, she’s an inferior copy! Because in the world of seiyuu, there is no need for another Yuumi! Another round of depression for Momoko so she seeks solace in Atari. He tells as a fan of Sukerabu, he submitted a picture for the entrance exam which was later used as a new character in Sukerabu. But he was told by Kagimoto not to imitate others. He shows her a magazine that has his name in the credits. Then Momoko goes to watch an episode of Sukerabu whereby the main character is in a slump and tries watching a video of somebody’s awesome move, only to be told to stop. Then she meets a clown skating and is amazed he could skate despite not being a figure skater. It’s because he believed in himself and will always skate in his own way.

On the day of the audition, Misumaru’s lines will be only “I’m sorry. Goodbye”. That is enough to determine who will take on the role. As each of the girls step up and say those short lines, when it came to Momoko’s turn (after doing lots of thinking about the character), she says that line with a happy tone! Of course it left everyone in shock and she regrets doing another blooper. The one who will be playing Misumaru is… Momoko! Though everyone is caught off guard by her unique answer, Minato for that moment saw Misumaru’s expression merged with hers. As for why she said it in that manner, she thought as the characters were parting, she didn’t want it to be on a sad note. The girls are holding a congratulations party for Momoko. Runa reads a message left by Atari to congratulate her and his confession he loves her. FOR REAL?! Oh, Runa just added that last bit. Unfortunately Eri soon calls Momoko to announce the bad news she won’t be taking on that role because despite the producers were okay with it, the author was against it and insists they use Yuumi. Because he is a big fan of hers. Otherwise he won’t give permission to use his work. All for naught? Well, it provided a good experience, no? But I guess the party will have to be put off to another time. And we see a cheeky end note, Yuumi voicing Misumaru on how she apologizes to Momoko and bid her farewell over the disappointing outcome. In a happy tone. I suppose that’s how you’re supposed to say that line…

Episode 12
Momoko’s friends are each doing their seiyuu job well. Feeling left out? Not for long. Momoko will soon make her debut in Child Girls although it’s just a minor side character. Still, she is happy to get a role. So the eager beaver arrives at the studio on her first day and is happy to see many famous seiyuus in the same room. However they seem to be ignoring her or just not too enthusiastic in becoming her friend. Don’t mind because Minato’s presence cheers her up. As a rookie, Momoko gets bossed around. First by Yuumi who wants her to bring coffee for her seniors. I guess Momoko is happy to do it. If she wasn’t this clumsy. And the producer boss doesn’t like clumsy newbies… Momoko gets another first day shock since she’ll be reading her lines based on a storyboard since the animators couldn’t finish it in time. Didn’t learn this in school, eh? How will she go about this? The recording session begins as Momoko observes the veterans in sync fleshing out their character roles (the old guy doing a falsetto voice was bloody hilarious!). Momoko’s confidence level dips when she speaks in the wrong mic and accidentally steps on somebody’s toes. Literally. Then when everybody gets ‘noisy’ (as part of the scene), Momoko feels difficult to combine their voices like that. For a simple line, the producer stops Momoko and wants her to redo it again since she’s not into her character. But the more she repeats, the more she is moving closer to breaking point. Welcome to the harsh realities, girl. Finally the producer just settled for some mediocre line since they’re running short on time and will have someone better to dub over. During the break, Momoko is in no mood to go into happy-happy mode despite Minato come sitting next to her. He reveals a deep secret that he has never told anyone: Everyone in this room started out as rookies.

The session continues and this time Momoko puts more life into her character as well as her own. Despite being told to repeat some lines, she gladly redoes them. After the session ends, the producer talks to Momoko and hoped she had put in such a performance in the first half. So is she up to redo them again? You bet. I don’t know if it’s just saying the same lines, but it took her 35 takes to get it right!!! Thank God it’s over! Well, at least they won’t settle for mediocrity. Meanwhile, Kagimoto sees his wonderful animation work and wants him to start work as a real animator. It’s not over for Momoko yet because there’s something left to be done. What’s that? To party! They do this every week, huh? But so… Why is Momoko serving them?! I guess newbies get the honour to do all the labour and serve their seniors. Then they want her to do her specialty. I guess this means her tongue twisters. Though she is flawless, many of them are drunk and challenge her back. Now you have a bunch of old people spewing nonsense! It’s verbal chaos! Lesson learnt: Don’t provoke veterans. She is thankful for tongue twisters as it was what made her become a real seiyuu. Here is another harsh lesson for her: The dismal pay cheque. A lowly figure to match her lowly status as rookie. So where has all that sunny enthusiasm gone to now?

Episode 13
There’s an advertisement on TV introducing a new idol group called Sister x Sisters from Lambda Eight. Don’t blame Momoko a blur airhead and doesn’t know who they are. The other girls don’t know what’s going on too. Even Eri is not happy about this but Edogawa mentions they have already invested a lot in it thought Yamawaki Denki is the one sponsoring them. Momoko and co are called in and they are surprised that they will become Sister x Sisters. Eri objects and wants to send out a correction notice to all media but Edogawa shows her the financial situation of Lambda Eight. It takes a lot of money to keep this training institute running and they’re far in debt. So to recoup the losses, he organized this project and it will be troublesome if Eri cancels it and ignores this opportunity. He gives her 2 choices: Shut down the training institution or promote them as idols. Momoko and the girls want to help out because they’ve taught them so much. I guess Eri okays it even if she doesn’t seem happy. Edogawa has a drink with the president of Yamawaki Denki. The latter is confident this project will succeed as he has exclusive licence for Sister x Sisters. Plus, he is confident the new age is no longer maids but sisters. Runa is happy that Momoko is part of this idol group and shows it to Atari. However he just got back late. He’s tired and thinks it’s a joke. Goodnight. Meanwhile Takemiya talks to Eri who is still opposing to this idol project. So much so she would rather go out of business than sacrifice those girls to stay in business and feels responsible for them. But Takemiya points out the girls may be willing to sacrifice themselves and should have more faith in them. Momoko works hard as an idol and has been coming home late and tired. Just like Atari, eh? So when the duo talk, I guess this time he believes. She congratulates him for becoming a real animator but it’s no walk in the park either since it’s tough. Momoko gives him and his colleagues tickets to her idol debut.

The event is a sell-out with fans waiting in line and being given prominent coverage by the media. This is going to be big. Everyone eagerly awaits the new idol group as Yamawaki Denki President introduces them on stage. Wait a minute. The girls in nun outfits? Is this what he meant by being sisters? The crowd is not pleased. Deafening silence… Apparently this is Edogawa’s mistake because he thought this is what sister’s meant! The crowd becomes restless and the girls are taken off stage. Because the President’s mic is still on, the crowd could hear him blow his top to Edogawa that he is through with this project and won’t invest a single penny anymore. He blames Lambda Eight for this failure and to take full responsibility for his loss. Momoko pleads to go out on stage and will do something about it. The crowd starts cheering for the girls. Rinka gets an idea to modify their outfit. When they go back on stage, they start off with a line worthy of Sunday Service preaching. They come out with an idea that sisters = nuns because in addition to wanting to be their cute little sisters, they will also do their best to honour God. Everyone revels in this new concept as the girls start singing. Some of lyrics are quite amusing. God = big brother? Well… The crowd totally loves them while Yamawaki Denki President thinks all this is his idea and takes the credit. Well, as long as he is happy and keep pouring in the funds.

Episode 14
Sister x Sisters are fast becoming the new popular idols. Momoko is in some talk show whereby an admired person behind a person gets to kiss her. Guess who? Well, it’s Atari! Turns out to be a dream. Should’ve seen this coming. So Momoko reminisces about the times with Atari (mostly the arguing part) when Runa comes in to inform her she got a call from her office. Damn right. She remembers she has a calendar photo shoot session today. She forgot to recharge her handphone. She’s almost an hour late already! Get your ass moving! She manages to arrive and the session begins. Though the cameraman feel Momoko isn’t the prettiest among the lot, she is the best and most natural. The girls quickly move from one schedule to another. Yeah, no breathing space but Momoko looks forward to it all. Meanwhile Atari is having it tough with his job. He has been doing retakes and the work is piling up since he can’t draw what he wants. See his dustbin filled with crumpled paper? He isn’t amused when his colleagues start playing aloud Sister x Sisters radio talk show. Everyone except him wants to hear. Yeah, maybe that’ll be a distraction. Atari comes home late that night at the same with Momoko. She’s noisy and energetic. Is she drunk?! I hope not. She wants to treat him but he’s not in the mood, especially when she’s teasing him like a kid. Suddenly she collapses and he realizes she has fever. Next morning, Momoko wakes up in her bed and feeling better but doesn’t remember what happened last night. During a recording session with Minato and Yuumi, Momoko’s manager comes pick her up because of her schedule. Yuumi is a b*tch because she tells Momoko off now that she’s famous, she can do whatever she likes and not respect her seniors. I think it is her who doesn’t respect anybody.

Atari is more stressed at work when he gets a call from Yurika. As they talk, she wants to know what he thinks of Momoko. Does she like her? Get where she is getting? Well, he shrugs off he likes her and she is just some strange noisy neighbour. That’s why Yurika doesn’t want him to hold back. When Momoko learns what happened the night she got a fever from Runa (Atari dragged her to bed and she seemed heavy. Of course. After all that partying). She feels guilty upon remembering saying some bad things so Runa tells her to rush down to the bank and to organize a party with good food. Well, the way to a man’s heart is to his stomach. At least she could him to forgive her, right? So she makes haste and is shocked to see her bank account… She never knew her pay was this high!!! No more a poor struggling girl, eh? She later invites to treat him but Atari refuses and as expected, it descends into a lover’s spat. Now they hate each other without even understanding what the other meant. Busybodies Kumano and Yamashita could only watch and sigh. Atari resumes his work when he gets an important call from Yurika. What is it that is so important that he is willing to rush out from his office to meet her at the park? She shows him a Dragon Cola bottle. Erm… Well, I guess it must be one of his favourite things in life. It seems the duo love drinking this when they’re young but it suddenly stopped production and ‘disappeared’. Atari is just happy to see such a bottle since it brings back nostalgic memories. They both have a taste of nostalgia and I think the bottle won’t be enough to satiate everything. So as they tussle to have a bigger share, Atari falls on top of her. Don’t just stare at each other. The precious drink is spilling!!!

Episode 15
Are all the otaku fan boys willing to reform and confess to their Sister x Sisters? You bet! During the break, Rinka wonders how long this idol unit will last. It made Momoko remember Atari’s words that he has no interest in idols like her. It made her pissed and fired up to do her best. As for Yurika, she remembers the night in the park. It almost led to a kiss if not for a bunch of wise cracking kids commenting on their actions. Darn. Ruined everything. He rushes back to work. Disappointed, Yurika? Yeah. She was this close to chu~. Edogawa shows Eri their schedule that will follow Sister x Sisters’ route. Or else it’s closure for the company. Since Momoko and Atari still aren’t on good terms, it’s natural they fight and ignore each other. I guess Runa doesn’t want the drama to head into this direction so she tries to mediate but becomes their messenger. I guess it must be tiring to bring insulting messages back and forth so she’ll take a last message from Atari. It leaves Momoko baffled because she doesn’t understand, “Only your voice is being heard lately”. The staffs behind the recording lines seem to be easier on Momoko now that she’s an idol. She also gets to know her other friends are each with their own busy schedule so they can’t always be an idol unit together. As a special guest on a radio programme, Momoko is a natural klutz but that is what everybody loves about her. I guess he picked up a reputation as such. Momoko is quite famous that you can say people recognize her in the streets and school girls are eager to shake her hand.

After a hard day’s work, Runa greets her and shows her a package her mom sent her. Inside, lots of nostalgic items from her childhood years. It seems Edogawa called mommy to bring such albums to the office. Apparently it’s going to be used in the next event and you know, childhood items of idols can really fetch a high price. There is also a CD in which personally Momoko dubbed herself a Sukerabu scene in which she voiced all the characters! She is embarrassed to listen to it but Runa is eager to hear it. As Momoko cowers in embarrassment about her voice that sucked at that time, Runa points out she used different voices for various people and roles. It looked like she was having fun. But recently the work she is doing as an idol, she is only using one voice and it is the only one being heard. That was the meaning of message of what Atari was trying to tell her. Momoko realizes Atari has always been listening to her. She sees a message in her old sketchbook that she aspires to have a good voice. Momoko goes to see Eri and wants to do work that involves her voice. Although it will be tough to make arrangements for her tight schedule, she already has made Takemiya as her manager. She looks forward to work with her again. Momoko is thinking of a way to apologize to Atari and spots him across the road. Then she sees Yurika passing by. They chat friendly and to Momoko’s shock, she sees Yurika hugging Atari. They leave to get food and Momoko is left to ponder this prickly feeling in her heart. We all know what it is, right?

Episode 16
I’m sure you can tell something is wrong when Momoko doesn’t have her usual appetite (she eats 3 bowls of rice as her usual serving!) and she’s being a little forgetful. Her cheery expression seems fake and forced. It doesn’t get better seeing that Yurika has been happy-happy recently. Yamashita has Kumano take over some of Atari’s retakes because at this rate, he’ll never get things done. Yurika calls Atari to meet. Knowing he is busy, she bought him some food. He has got to eat properly otherwise he can’t work. She also hints that if he has any problems, he can talk with her since they are like cousins so there’s no need to hold back. Momoko can’t focus on her voice acting and it gets worse when the role she is playing involves a childhood friend. Yeah, it’s odd that she needs to do a couple of retakes when it should be easy pie. During a variety show featuring Sister x Sisters, Rinka cheekily hints Yurika has a boyfriend. She is happy to talk about it but Momoko cuts her off and wants to tell hers instead. Then she got her tongue tied so Amane had to improvise that the person she loves or rather admires is Heizou to avoid Momoko getting further red faced. Momoko wakes up from another dream whereby Yurika snatches Atari away from her just as she was about to confess. Man, she has got to stop this kind of dreams because it makes her late for work! Worse, she forgot her script for the recording session. It’s like every seiyuu’s bible.

After the session, Eri wants Momoko to follow her. At a bar, she gives her drink a non-alcoholic sweet honey drink which is good for the throat. She asks if she is in love. She can’t answer. Bull’s eye. Her only advice is she should be her usual self. Momoko gets the hint and rushes off. She calls Yurika to tell her that she likes Atari. She doesn’t want to run away anymore and will face it head on. Despite knowing they are going out, she wants to go all-out on him too and she can’t stop these feelings. Yurika may not look happy but she won’t lose either. She manages to maintain her composure. It’s good because how would you like it if friends suddenly scream b*tch at each other? Momoko goes to see Atari but her first greeting has him completely ignore her. To get his attention, she starts saying lines from a scene from Sukerabu. Just when the atmosphere is getting good, her growling stomach had to ruin it. But at least it breaks the ice. Atari admits her heard her other voice. They both apologize and make up as Atari agrees to treat her to lunch. With that, Atari is more fired up to complete his work. Even Runa notices Momoko extra happy today. Atari is supposed to meet her for lunch when suddenly he collapses. Kumano and Yamashita become alarmed at his unconscious body and call the ambulance. Meanwhile Momoko is waiting for Atari to show up. She calls him but he doesn’t pick up.

Episode 17
Momoko gets a call from Atari’s colleague that he is unconscious in hospital. She rushes to the train station but Takemiya calls her to get her ass to the office now because they’re supposed to be getting ready for a trip to Nagoya for a radio programme. Will she choose her career or love? She didn’t board the train… Momoko tells Takemiya she can’t go because an important friend has collapsed. Takemiya advises her not to let personal feelings affect her job. If it’s family or relative she would understand but a boyfriend… So off they go to Nagoya and Yurika heard all that. Momoko couldn’t stop thinking about it so she calls Rinka to visit him on her behalf. Unfortunately she missed the visiting hours and Momoko panicked thinking the visiting was declined. When they reach the radio station, Yuumi goes into b*tch mode once more, chiding Momoko for being rude to her senior (she greet her without her usual enthusiasm). This works her up and she redoes the take all over again with sarcasm. Hey, at least it brings her back. Atari wakes up in hospital, frantic about the lost time and his missing handphone. Seems he had anaemia due to lack of sleep and overwork. To celebrate his recovery, his colleagues take him out to drink. Well, they might regret that since Atari got drunk and is blabbing his mouth off. After the radio programme, Momoko thanks Yurika for helping her regain her composure today. She goes back to the hotel and was being told by Rinka about what actually happened to Atari till his discharge. She feels relieved. She calls him but of course his handphone is dropped at his workplace. She hangs up thinking she shouldn’t be bothering him and lets him rest.

Atari is being brought back to the dorm via taxi where Yurika is waiting (I guess she didn’t know which hospital to look for). Still drunk, he hugs her but sees Momoko in her. She helps him to bed. Meanwhile Momoko is having a nice romantic dream with Atari. See the smirk on her face? Makes her look like a pervert… Elsewhere Amane picks up Rinka and Tsubasa, wondering if they have heard something from Edogawa. She is suspicious he may be doing something behind Eri’s back and has her doubts over this idol thingy as it seems a lot more complicated than before when it was first formed to save the institution. Next morning, Atari wakes up and to his horror, Yurika is sleeping right beside him! He doesn’t remember much but Yurika’s ambiguous words seem to hint that something big happened last night. “To spend my first night with you…”. Oh sh*t! How can he not remember the most wonderful time last night?! On second thought, he should be worried alright. Make that very worried. Yurika dresses up and leaves for work as she mentions she is glad to fall in love with him. Soon Momoko returns and is happy to see him back to normal. She wants to treat him to something delicious to get his energy back but he apologizes he can’t do lunch with her anymore. Why? Because he has decided to go out with Yurika…

Episode 18
Edogawa seems to be making some backdoor suspicious dealings with the person on the other end of the phone. Sister x Sisters and Yuumi are onboard a train to a fan appreciation event at the beach. Momoko is her usual lively self, checking out the swimsuits of the girls. Till she spots Yurika in a corner talking on her handphone to Atari. Tsubasa also spots her and teases her about her boyfriend in which she admits. Then Momoko lets everyone know his name and gives the thumbs up to Yurika. The appreciation event includes BBQ food for fans, photo session and a volleyball match. Even after the event, each time we see Momoko in her lively self, but something as though is not right. Like as though she is forcing herself to be happy. Back at Tokyo after another recording session, Amane talks to Momoko that she has thought about quitting Sister x Sisters because she prefers plays after all. She thought she wanted to let her know her feelings. She also points out that Momoko seems to be putting up an act hiding something from her but I guess Momoko must be a ‘veteran’ doing so and brushes it off. Atari hears rumours from Kumano that Sukerabu is going to get a sequel and becomes excited. Yurika visits the dorm and since Atari isn’t back yet, takes the initiative to clean his room. I wonder if that means drawing a love umbrella is his book. But a photo of Momoko drops out from it. Oh gosh. It’s that feeling once more. She keeps the photo when Atari returns and starts ranting the good news of Sukerabu’s sequel, which of course doesn’t sit well with Yurika. Sukerabu = Momoko, right? She wants him to kiss her. Momoko also returns and learns from Runa that Atari is back (but she was too slow to say Yurika is with him – hoping something, eh?). Can we see where this is going? I guess if you’re a guy and being ‘invited’ by a girl to kiss, you won’t let go this chance, right? He was about to kiss her but Yurika teases him she’s just joking and shouldn’t fall for it so easily because guys are the ones who are supposed to take the lead. Suddenly Atari trips and falls over Yurika! Jenjenjeng! Momoko has second thoughts about visiting Atari but she heard some ‘sound’ coming from his room. Peeking from the door, it looks as though they are kissing! Oh. Then they notice Momoko looking. Guess what? She leaves with a smile. You think that’s alright? Her heart must be breaking into a million pieces by now. Meanwhile Edogawa hands his resignation letter to Eri.

Episode 19
Momoko learns from Amane and Rinka that Edogawa is resigning. What will become of Sister x Sisters now? She is confident with Rinka around, they’ll be alright because she always helps out with the events. They observe Momoko interact with a staff and Amane can tell she’s forcing herself with her happy act. During the recording session, Momoko suddenly loses her voice! Oh no! Worst nightmare for a seiyuu! The rest thinks it is fatigue or over use of her voice but we know it’s the problem of love, right? Atari seems depressed about that misunderstood situation too so his colleagues think he has girlfriend problems and make him call Yurika to invite her out. Momoko is over the moon when Atari tells her about Sukerabu’s sequel. Yurika sees them so in sync about Sukerabu and you can tell she doesn’t like it one bit. So when she comes in, Momoko lets her hog Atari. Now it’s Momoko’s turn to sulk somewhere. And Runa has this tendency to even quip Sukerabu vs nikujaga (Atari’s favourite meal that Yurika brought over). Yurika invites Atari to go to the hotspring with her this Saturday. Runa seems disappointed when Momoko says she has a new love: Her work. Yeah, she has no time to fall in love. That smiley face isn’t just convincing. Eri gathers the girls to say that Sister x Sisters will be disbanded effective today. Also, Rinka announces that she will be leaving Lambda Eight along with Yuumi to join Edogawa’s agency. She thanks Momoko for everything because of her straightforwardness, it made her want to be like that too. Momoko still faces the same problem of her voice loss during recordings so she is advised to take some rest. Atari is called by Kagimoto and he will have a part in the production of Sukerabu’s sequel. He is happy to take the job and knows with this busy schedule he can’t meet up with Yurika. He calls her about it and though she agreed, she changes her mind when she learns he is supposed to do character design for Sukerabu. She wants him to come to the hotspring. No buts about it. She’ll be waiting.

Amane confronts Momoko to tell her that she is confused and has forgotten. The reason she lost her voice is because she is in love with Atari. From the moment Yurika dated him, she has been hiding her own feelings and putting up an act in front of everybody. If she doesn’t clear her feelings soon, she’ll remain like this forever. If she wants to continue her path as a seiyuu, she must forget about him. I guess it’s time for some reflection. Yeah, moments she spent with Atari. So I guess this means she can’t go through with it, no? Because it looks like she has talked to Eri about quitting and she’s okay with it. After all, she believes Momoko’s path is to be a seiyuu and will return one day. Atari meets Yurika at the train station and wants to clear things up. I think she knows what she’ll be hearing so she refuses to listen and goes home. But she ends up calling Tsubasa and confides in her. Tsubasa thought he is a jerk to make her cry and was going to punch him but Yurika holds her back admitting this is her own fault. So Yurika calls to meet Atari once more. He confesses he can’t go out with her. She knew it from the start because she had known him for a long time. She calls him the worse but also admits she is even worse. In addition, she reveals nothing happened between them that night. She lied because she always loved him and didn’t want anybody to take him away but made him suffer instead. He also apologizes that he wanted to properly cherish her feelings when they first dated but couldn’t answer her feelings nor make her smile. Yurika is glad that he let her know his feelings. All this ranting made them hungry so they go get something to eat. Meanwhile Momoko waits for the train that will take her back to Kyoto.

Episode 20
Atari finishes his character design and wants to show it to Momoko first. But when he returns, Momoko’s room is all emptied. Runa says she has already returned to Kyoto. He wanted to call her but Runa says it’s useless and won’t connect because she tried 2,576 times last night!!! Unbelievable!!! This manager has nothing else better to do? I know she’s worried but 2,000 over times?! Anyway, what is more worrying is that when she called her hometown, she isn’t back yet when she is supposed to. So, she’s gone missing? Eri tells her friends about this too but doesn’t want them to go looking for her because it will be useless if she doesn’t come back on her own will. They feel they’ve said too much to her but won’t wait for a miracle to happen. They go see Rinka and tell her what has happened. Rinka tells what happened during the time Atari got hospitalized, the emotions she went through and it made him realize how much she cared for him. Right now all they can do is look for her. Atari thinks to look at the ice skating rink that inspired Sukerabu. True enough, she is there but they missed her because she just left. Takemiya catches Eri reading the Sukerabu script and voice acting alone. It brings back nostalgic memories. She notes if Eri hadn’t pursued her dream of becoming an idol, she wouldn’t have damaged her voice. Eri thinks she might have been envious of Momoko from the start (because they are somewhat similar except for the clumsiness part) and hopes she will come back. The gang are searching every place that has got to do with Sukerabu but to no avail. Kiyoka thinks she might be taking a chartered bus since a person leaving town would normally do so as final commemoration. Amane dismisses it for a carefree person like Momoko. Don’t say, because there she is taking one! And the bus just passed them! Rinka feels that if she was Momoko, she would be visiting places she had memories with Atari. He doesn’t think so and there aren’t many places. It may be trivial to him but important to Momoko. Just then, Edogawa calls Rinka and he’s in a pinch. The emcee for Child Girls’ event became ill and he needs one now. Rinka will do her best to come. Where is it? West Ikebukuro. Atari realizes Momoko may be here.

True enough, there she is and the Child Girls event is bringing back memories. Edogawa spots her and begs her to help him out. I guess she has no choice. She is flipping through the script quickly and needs to memorize her lines. Yuumi just finished the first half and warns there is a little acting in the second half. Momoko feels she can’t do it. Edogawa pleads to her to be herself but she says she loses her voice when she acts and has already given up being a seiyuu. But Yuumi wants her to do it anyway and not screw up or disappoint the guests since she’s here. Rinka just arrives but before Momoko could switch with her, it’s their cue to go up on stage. Though Momoko still has stage fright, Yuumi’s prodding manages to give her the little push and carry on. All seems to be going well till the baddies take the kids from the audience as hostage. This is where she needs to act. Stage fright once more. How does Momoko overcome this? She starts narrating lines from Sukerabu! It might not be related and it seems to fit more towards herself of not giving up her own dreams and such, it was touching enough for the rest to make little improvisations and end the play with the usual bang. At the end of the event, Edogawa is grateful to her though she has made up her mind of quitting the seiyuu business. Atari gets mad and slaps her! Is this how much her feelings to be a seiyuu are? He scolds her for easily giving up after losing her voice. She slaps him and blames him as the cause. He reminds her about their promise bet. Since he has ‘won’, she must fulfil her promise. As he will be designing the character for Sukerabu II, she must audition for the heroine’s role. She accepts it and their argument-cum-face-off continues. The rest didn’t expect this because they thought they would be hugging and encouraging each other. Maybe they watched too much shoujo manga. Yurika thinks Momoko doesn’t know she and Atari had broken up. So is it okay to leave them like this? Maybe. Maybe not.

Episode 21
Despite being pissed off (see the way she cuts the radish!), Momoko rejoices when Takemiya calls to inform her she has made it past the first round of auditions to voice the heroine of Sukerabu II, Ai Amamiya. She will have to come down to the agency tomorrow and discuss further. Now Momoko is on fire (figuratively speaking. Maybe literally too) to prove she’ll be the heroine of the series. Yamawaki Denki President hosts a press conference to introduce the crew for Sukerabu II that includes Atari as the character design and Kagimoto as the director. However the seiyuu role for Ai is still unknown. This means the story has not been decided yet and the entire production will depend on the new seiyuu voicing her. So did they just waste big money for this press conference at the skating rink? Because Yamawaki Denki President just wants to show off his skating skills. WTF. Atari asks Kagimoto why he hasn’t think up of a storyline yet and wonders where his character designs went to. Though they aren’t bad, it doesn’t mean they are acceptable because it has the feel that it is restrained to the previous Ai. He wants Atari to give consideration to the new Ai and knows his Ai won’t just end there. Momoko and her friends discuss on the second audition for Sukerabu II. It might be tough seeing that nothing is decided yet as they are to freely act and create the new Ai using their skills. Eri nominates herself to be part of the panel of judges since she’s the previous seiyuu for Ai. I guess the promotion for the audition was so wide and the response bloody good that you need to have a stadium to host the hopefuls. Hundreds or maybe thousands are packed inside it that will be broadcast live. Young and old (52 year old hag wants to be a heroine?!), unknown and famous seiyuus are vying for that coveted role. Yamawaki Denki President hosts the event as he introduces some of the judges that includes Eri, Kagimoto and Atari (he isn’t pleased to have such role but his boss points out this is one way to learn).

So how do you reduce the massive amount of hopefuls? Do a true or false quiz! What the?! Is this really a voice acting audition? Unless you’re an obsessed freak about the show, you won’t really know the details of what happened in episode so and so. Thanks to Momoko and Rinka, the group of friends manage to get pass to the final round in which Yuumi is in. The final tricky question has Momoko and her friends at different ends with Yuumi. Till she realizes something amiss and they quickly change their answer. Thank goodness or else they would have failed. Unless you bought a limited edition of this series, you won’t know the true answer to this question. It might be unfair but I guess if you really want to know about the character, you really need to have all the goods, right? The next round has the final 15 girls write an essay on their personal thoughts on the Ai’s role. At the backstage, Kagimoto just takes a quick swipe and knows who to fail! Those that wrote “I’ll do my best” are instant failures because this is expected when they take on the role and should’ve written something more interesting. Of course there are a few that caught his attention. In the end, it isn’t a surprised when the usual suspects pass. Yup, Momoko and her friends plus Yuumi. Suddenly they are dropped in a middle of the sea in a small raft together. WTF?! And to think that this is an audition to voice the heroine…

Episode 22
So has the third audition stage turned into a reality series? Because their interactions and stay on the island will be broadcasted live for 3 days and will be voted by the judges and the selected 20 from the audience. The girls were briefed on their way that the island will be fitted with cameras to watch their every move. They will be judged at the end of 3 days on how they perceive and act out Ai’s personality. There is also an emergency button for them should they require urgent assistance but doing so will mean forfeiting their chance in the audition. Momoko and friends start helping out to make tent, gather water and other necessities. Yuumi just went on by herself. Shows you her character, eh? You know what they say that no man is an island. Oh, she’s a woman ;p. Momoko notices Rinka’s depression when they are collecting water. So she shoves her into a cart and they slide into the lake! Despite being a WTF scene, at least it cheered Rinka up. But the problem is, she accidentally stepped on her emergency button! She is taken off the island but has no regrets as she tells her friends she prefers being an idol singer. She was confused when she got here but thanks to Momoko, she remembers she wants to be like her and do what she likes. Yuumi wastes no time in listing down Ai’s characteristics while Yurika talks to Momoko that she has broken up with Atari. Next day, the girls see Yuumi in an impeccable acting of Ai near the waterfall. She’s really into the role. Everyone goes off their own way, trying to interpret Ai. Well, I’m not sure about Momoko. She seems like having fun. Catching fish? Night falls and Momoko hasn’t returned so the friends go look for her but bump into Yuumi. Doesn’t she get tired of acting like a b*tch 24/7? She tells them they should be concerned about themselves and who knows, Momoko may have forfeited and left the island.

On the final day, Momoko is still missing but the judges will carry out their test. They want the girls to act out different ages of Ai. Yuumi goes first and is very impressive. Soon the rest have their go and each give a different perspective of Ai (Tsubasa turned the character into a boy!). Finally Momoko is spotted on one of the cameras. Everybody rushes there to see her talking to animals!!! WTF???!!! They’re listening to her too!!! She has become one with the animals! She has become one with the island! Amazing! When she is snapped out of it, she panics upon realizing she has missed the audition. Soon the result for the final audition stage is announced. Yuumi and Momoko are the finalists. Though in normal circumstances she would’ve been disqualified, Kagimoto states that as long as one is interesting, one can never be disqualified. Atari wonders if there is a theme or criteria in selecting the heroine. Kagimoto whispers ‘Goddess of Skating’. Momoko goes to thank Yuumi for inspiring her after watching her act at the waterfall. Yuumi isn’t pleased because she painstakingly crafted all that out and she copied her so easily. She refuses to shake her hands and throws down the challenge that the real battle starts now. Indeed.

Episode 23
The one who wins the heroine’s role will be billed as the number one seiyuu. I guess Momoko is nervous but she’s putting up different faces. In front of her friends, she’s like a happy idiot who knows not the meaning of nervousness that it’s annoying. Alone in her room, she’s a worrywart. The final audition is about to start and it will be free acting. Each will perform a skit in a limited time to enact their own version of Ai. No title, no backdrop, no setting. They’ll get a little help with Minato to co-act and some background music to suit the atmosphere. Yuumi goes first and she starts right off the bat in a heated argument with her foster father who is against her into figure skating. She even slaps him! I guess she is so good in the role and into her character that we start to see the backdrops and everything. Even the icy aura emanating from her!!! Not special effects! Yuumi’s top notch acting earns the applause of the crowd. As usual, Momoko becomes discouraged that she can’t beat her so her friends go backstage to give her their support. If rooting for her isn’t enough, Yurika relays a message from Atari. He had nothing to say to her. Eh? When Yurika spoke to him last night, he can’t give any advice to her since he has to be impartial as he is one of the judges. Plus, she is already a professional seiyuu so there is nothing more he could tell her. That’s why he should just focus on what he is doing now. That’s the best reply he can give her for the audition.

Now it’s Momoko’s turn to take the spotlight. Hers is a total opposite of Yuumi’s because she portrays Ai as a lively and newly transferred student in class. A ditz and klutz who loves figure skating but knows nuts about it! Suddenly the scene changes to her skating in the ring but flops. Even her handphone bunny, Usamaru makes its appearance as a magical bunny to grant her skating powers! Then it becomes mahou shoujo-like when Minato as the baddie tries to steal the bunny so Momoko transforms into some skater girl fighter to fight him with moves that beat him up resembling very much like figure skating manoeuvres. In the end, was it all just a dream because she finds herself back in the classroom. Maybe not. Because Usamaru just gave her a cheeky wink. Maybe she was a second too long so her time ended before she could finish her final sentence. The crowd goes silent. Momoko finishes her line and the crowd applauses with overwhelming approval. I guess she is good in her own way that Minato compliments that she made him forget that he was acting. Eri knows this will be a close call. The judges won’t be able to determine this and the only person who will decide it all is Kagimoto.

Episode 24
Six months have passed and Runa and some of the dorm residents are more worried that nothing has progressed between Momoko and Atari. Momoko comes in wearing a formal black suit but the rest disapprove of it and have their own ideas (and fantasies) what she should wear for this important reunion. Six months is a long time so things have changed. Junko is going to become a mother, Yukia has passed his audition to be a sports coach and Sendai passed his law exam and is now at a boarding school to be a lawyer. Runa remembers Atari putting up a depressed expression when she asked him about Momoko. He said she had forgotten something important. Runa hopes she can remember what it was before they meet up. Atari meets up with Yukari and it seems the former is trying to get some jewellery. However Yurika is not pleased that since he has the sketchbook, this should suffice instead of the jewellery and should take this and get going. Momoko goes to see Amane during the latter’s break during a shooting of a film to ask what was that she had forgotten. Though Amane didn’t know what it was, the talk deviated as she learnt from Momoko not to be fussy and enjoy things to the fullest. Kumano is going crazy when Kagimoto tells him Atari was serious about doing something major. It leaves the poor guy laments being abandoned and all the work he has to do while that kid goes on taking the next step to ‘paradise’. Maybe he needs a little break… Momoko sees Tsubasa and is surprised to learn she is the voice of a hand puppet and mascot for Miracle Fund. The puppet is female. Looks like Tsubasa stick with her guts to follow her instincts and try something out and found out her potential. Oh. She forgot to ask that important thing. Meanwhile Minato finally confesses to Eri. He had loved her since they first met. Takemiya always knew they loved each other since it’s her job to observe others. But why take so long? He had been thinking and thanks to a certain girl’s impulse to go forward and not leave any regrets. He hasn’t felt this feeling for many years. Seriously. Six whole months to think about it? Must be serious.

Momoko now sees Rinka who is a rising idol star. As she thinks back, she remembers talking to Atari about him landing his dream job. Atari is glad to have fallen in love with her and confessed. The fireworks interrupted their kiss. Momoko feels she did forget something but realizes she is late and rushes off to meet Atari at the park. Atari arrives late and I’m not sure what he saw Momoko was doing (she was just going back and forth waiting for him) so he dives towards her like as though he saved her from something. Huh? Despite she said he could meet her tomorrow on his day off, he needs to show this to her now and at this time. He gives her his sketchbook which contains his Sukerabu II’s drawing and this is the place of its origin. The design of the character was based on Momoko back then. He has said it before and she might have forgotten but he really wanted to prove it to her, which makes it today as most suitable. He reiterates he loves her. It brings her to tears. Yet another kiss interrupted when Momoko realizes she needs to go. She has something to say but couldn’t put it clearly in words. What’s the problem? Just say it straightforward like she always has. In a loud voice, she lets him know she loves him. I guess everyone in the park heard that. That’s Momoko for you. In the aftermath, we see Yuumi and Momoko landing both the roles in Sukerabu II. Kagimoto has surprised everyone with his double heroine role. Both characters are named Ai. Kagimoto is impressed with Atari’s design that matches with the voice and bringing it alive. Yuumi and Momoko begin their voice testing at the studio.

Episode 25
In this filler episode that has nothing to do with the girls’ dreams, Heizou is in deep cohorts with Kiyoka… Momoko and friends are in Amane’s town to celebrate her birthday but they spot Kiyoka. A couple of them in fact. One carrying a sack of food and another riding a badass bike! Talking to Amane, she had seen one who was acting suspicious when confronted. They think they must be different persons and go knock on her room to ask her directly. No answer. They see her trying to sleep away and catch her. Amane says a secret word and knows this is a fake since she said the wrong answer. While gloating over it, she escaped. The girls split up to search for her. Momoko and Rinka think the one in the kitchen is trying to make poison! Tsubasa and Kiyoko stumble upon one doing odd exercises in the cave. Yurika thinks she is an alien and wants to be famous and tries to catch her! The real Kiyoka (obviously you could’ve tell by her voice and different hair colour – if you were paying attention, that is) calls Heizou that they have been discovered so she orders her to stall till he returns. Amane confronts the real Kiyoko when all the fakes stumble in to report they’ve been discovered. Oops. Busted for real. Momoko and Rinka see one in the electrical room (what was she trying to do with the power?) but are called by Tsubasa to return since the real one will explain everything. By that time, Heizou returns and says this is Amane’s birthday gift. Because Kiyoka had always wanted to serve Amane better, she hoped to have more of herself around. And thus Kiyoka Corps was created and they’re supposed to debut tonight but apparently they couldn’t sit still and went out on their own. So the one making the ‘poison’ was just trying to make her traditional natto. That was natto? The one doing funny exercises wasn’t an alien but doing yoga. So why get those who look the same? As Heizou states, if you want to do something, do it in style! Something like imitating the best. Momoko does a head count and notices one is missing but Kiyoka says there are only 4 of them. The joke that the other one they saw in the electric room is an alien. True enough, that one returned to its mother ship!!! WTF?!

While Momoko is cleaning the storeroom, she stumbles upon an old photo album of the dorm. She notices pictures of Runa even way back during post-war era. She looks the same! Could it be?! Runa explains that is her grandma and mother. They sure do look alike. Even so, did you notice their pose is the same? The way they stand and hold the broomstick! Momoko tells this to her friends and it makes Runa seem like she has lived very long. Coincidentally, they will be voicing in a series called Yao Bikuni. The story is about a mermaid washed up ashore a long time ago and was made as an offering to the shrine. A young maiden ate her flesh and lived for 800 years while maintaining her youth. But when people she knew start dying, she became lonely and went on a pilgrimage and ended up in a cave and never came out. Momoko learns from the dorm residents that Runa is out, usually alone at this time of year and they heard her say something about ‘ending it’. Momoko and her friends make their way to the shrine and though they didn’t see Runa, they see the cave about the legend of Yao Bikuni. Momoko jumps to a conclusion that Runa is Yao Bikuni. I guess she was desperate that she entered Runa’s room without permission and read her diary! Hmm… Seems simple and brief. Her sentences. Then they read one that catches their attention. “I want to eat more mermaids. I love them”. Oh dear… There’s a recent entry for yesterday and it states that it all ends tomorrow (which is today). The girls are convinced when a pilgrimage set for Runa arrives. They rush to the temple and see Runa. Momoko makes an emotional and touching plea not to leave. If she dies first, she’ll be a ghost and follow her! Isn’t that haunting her?! Doesn’t she want to go to the next world? She wants to be her friends forever. Then Momoko realizes she is in a temple and not the shrine (both are situated close to each other). It is revealed that Runa runs a memorial service for her late boyfriend at this time of year. He died 5 years ago and before his death, he promised they would see the sasanqua flowers together. That’s why she comes here around this time of year to watch them bloom. She thought she would show him the first one to appear but feels it is time to end all that. Runa is glad that Momoko cares for her. About the pilgrimage set? It’s some trendy costume! About eating mermaids? They’re small little biscuits in the shape of mermaids. Tastes delicious, no? The girls are relieved that they really thought she really ate a real one and find it delicious. Runa leaves them in horror when she admits a real one tastes good too! She doesn’t look like she’s joking…

Say It Loud And Clear!
Okay, so the ending was pretty decent. Somewhat a happy ending that meets almost what viewers would expect. They keep us guessing which of the finalist was chosen as the main heroine’s role and perhaps it was a surprise (to me) that both of them got the part. Well, I guess this should satiate fans from both sides. Imagine if both girls having a good number of fans each and only one of them got the part, wouldn’t that leave those obsessed diehard fans frustrated? Even it’s not like they who are getting the part? But what was the final audition for then? Ah, great publicity and promotion. I suppose everybody loves to see their idols on stage. And so Momoko continues her love and passion for voice acting instead of giving up and quitting. So I guess love really messes with your head and your goals because from the way I see it here (at least from a girl like Momoko), she easily gets distracted and thrown off course when she is down. Luckily she has her friends to support her and keep her going strong as she has done the same for them. That is what friends are for, right? Overall, this series has a decent mix of cliche comedy, cliche girl-meets-boy romance, cliche drama (including cliche lover’s quarrel when they’re not a couple) and some cliche insights for those who want to make seiyuu as part of their career choice. Though, you better do lots of research before jumping into this bandwagon.

As we slowly progress, Momoko doesn’t really seem to care about her ultimate dream of marrying Minato anymore. Though I felt this goal of hers is gradually forgotten, I somehow kept it at the back of my mind wondering how she will deal with this when she finally realizes her love for Atari. But right till the end, there is no mention of this so I presume that Momoko must have really gotten over her crush somewhere along the way to finally not hesitate in confessing her love to Atari. But wouldn’t others remember it since it was somewhat ‘odd’? Well yeah, I guess lots of fans around the world dream to marry their favourite idol or celebrity. Who wouldn’t? Maybe they didn’t take Momoko seriously about her dream and even so I thought Atari was going to tease Momoko about what happened to her dream of marrying Minato in the end. That didn’t happen. Perhaps he didn’t want to jinx it, wouldn’t he? What about Atari and his crush for Runa? It wasn’t obvious but you can see his body reactions in the initial episodes he likes the dorm manager. Maybe he got too busy about his work and eventually his mind filled with Momoko that he had gotten over her? Maybe. And when Minato confessed to Eri, I thought it was a little cheap. They may be voice actors and in turn veterans, which make them as good as being actors, but that scene didn’t feel convincing. Real life jitters? I understand you don’t want to screw in real life for real. Besides, the duo don’t really give us hints that they are in love with each other. Maybe that is what you call separating business and personal life on a professional level. But for Momoko and Atari’s case, it proves that couples who argue a lot at the start eventually will end up together. How long they will stay this way is another story.

Momoko is a person who would do what comes to mind first and think about later. You can say she speaks her mind. Of course except about that love part that she is ‘inexperienced’ in. So when she’s not her lively, energetic, clumsy and idiotic self, you can tell that something is definitely wrong with her. She might be a ditz and know nothing much about the industry but she makes some mistakes here and there and learns from it. Hands-on approach is one way to learn valuable experience that won’t be taught in class. Now much wiser and with some experience, she’s practically still the same Momoko that we all know and love from the beginning. She does things best at her own pace. She’d be more natural that way and entertaining. Erm, I mean lovelier. Perhaps. The best part I’ll remember Momoko for is her flawless takegaki tongue twister! I can’t beat that! Care to say it again. That was just amazing feat and for anybody who can say tongue twisters in such speed and without errors or slip ups. Coming to where she is now, throughout the series you could see Momoko experiencing a roller coaster ride of emotions. One moment she is happy, the next she can be down and gloomy. Especially the most disheartening one is when she gets chided by her ex-heartthrob Minato. Not once but twice! But when he compliments her, all that just vanishes. Because of that, you can say her mood is as unpredictable as the weather. Sometimes she gets lost and the lack of confidence makes her want to give up and quit but thankfully she’s got her friends to encourage her and keep her going.

I guess Momoko being the main focus here, sometimes the rest felt a little like excess baggage despite in the earlier episodes we see an episode focusing on them and their issues. Although we start off with the girls vying to get into the industry followed by training, the series takes a little detour with them forming the idol unit Sister x Sisters, the ‘battle for Atari’ before the final audition for Sukerabu II and of course. Especially after Sister x Sisters got disbanded, these girls I feel aren’t featured as prominently as before except Yurika who becomes Momoko’s rival for Atari’s love. Speaking of Sister x Sisters, I said it felt like a detour or distraction because even if they started out on a high note, when they got disbanded, it’s like there is no reaction in the fan world to lament over their ‘demise’. Unless you’re telling me Sister x Sisters fall from grace as fast as they rise to the top. Are you saying that people accepted their disbandment? I mean, they have too but what about diehard fans? I’m sure there will be lots of siscon and nun fetish geeks. Hah! Everybody is a sinner for being a siscon! Make a confession now! Just like Momoko and Atari, the other girls also find their niche and love in what they want to do most. Amane is slowly stepping out from her father’s shadow and making her own name in acting, Tsubasa discarded her goal of voicing only male’s roles and Rinka discovers her love for singing. Also like Momoko, Atari learns and gains experience through lots of hardship. Can you say Momoko is the cause of that? I wonder how many papers he has wasted in all those unacceptable drawings. Now he is a pro and I hope he gets proper sleep rather than falling sleeping at odd places and at odd times.

I was wondering what the big deal was when Edogawa resigned and formed his own agency. The way they showed it was as though there was something fishy and perhaps a big conspiracy was going on behind the scenes. Especially when Amane and the girls suspect it. Then nothing ‘evil’ happens. Even after he resigned and brought Yuumi and Rinka along, it felt like they never left. Because they’re usually seen at events together with Lambda Eight so it couldn’t occur to me that he’s gone from the company he worked so long with. So what he formed his own agency? How does this affect anything? There’s no real villain in this show, right? The ones in the stage events don’t count, mind you. Oh, I forgot. That Kuroiwa jerk who tried to use Yurika’s body in a con job. That’s why in the end, even if Edogawa didn’t really resign, it changes nothing. At least that is how I feel. For Eri, I wonder if she was born this way or it’s just her personality because she always seems to be negative when the girls are to do something. Maybe she really does want to look out for them and don’t want them to rush things so as not to make the mistake she made. But shouldn’t she have more trust and faith in them? I’m glad she does in the end. Takemiya is a great teacher and asset to the seiyuu industry because she’s been in this line for donkey years so her advices are valuable. It is great Momoko got her guidance from her. Kagimoto is an eccentric person who thinks outside the box Yamawaki Denki President is also another eccentric person because of the way he speaks in a lively manner and the way he adds English words in his sentence.

For Yuumi, many would view her as a cold hearted b*tch. Sometimes I feel like strangling her for putting up that snobbish act but when I think about it, maybe she’s trying to play the villain part for Momoko’s sake. I mean, how can she improve herself if she doesn’t have such a rival? Also, you would notice Yuumi being an expert and pro in this industry, she knows what to do and expect so her words may seem harsh on an amateur like Momoko who is panicking for the first time in a major event. But in the end, Yuumi too displays her softer side. Hope that is not just her acting. Runa sometimes I feel she has this mysterious aura around her or maybe it could just be me. She always claims to be busy doing something but I guess that something turns out to be something ‘not useful’ according to our standards. If she is not eternally sweeping the dorm grounds, she is seen pondering about the love drama between you-know-who. Because of her ‘love’ for that ‘drama’, her quips on that are somewhat amusing. Is life really that boring for a dorm manager? As for the dorm residents, they are somewhat forgettable and could’ve been done without. But if the dorm is void of other residents, won’t it feel like a haunted place?

Though this is a year 2006 production, the drawing and art feels okay, I thought that some of the characters especially the main girls have a little squarrish jaws, making them look a little chubby. Maybe it’s my hardware but I’m sure I’m viewing the screen as 4:3 in which the anime was produced and not in 16:9 ratio as we see recently in the past few years. Because the series is produced by Radix studio house, the art and drawing sometimes feels familiar because they have also produced animes like Lamune, Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge and Comic Party Revolution. They also produced another idol genre anime, Lemon Angel Project also back in 2006. As an anime that deals with the anime industry, I thought I would see lots of parodies. Perhaps it is my limited knowledge that restricted me in spotting the trivia because the only one that I spotted was that Lunar Angels’ poster in which the main quintet voiced the characters which are a parody to that slapstick comedy anime, Galaxy Angel. Do Misumaru, Child Girls and Space Boss Red Ten parody any anime? Maybe. There are tons of magical girls and tokusatsu series out there or they can just easily make up one just for this anime. As for Sukerabu, I felt like it was a mix between Ginban Kaleidoscope (another figure skating themed anime only with a ghost possessing the protagonist) and Suzuka (a love-drama sports themed anime) but it seems this anime didn’t make any parodies out of those animes. Not that I can see anyway.

For the voice acting department, Megumi Takamoto (Himea in Itsuka Tenma No Kurousagi, Ushio Kazama in Sasameki Koto) did a splendid job voicing Momoko. She manages to portray the different moods of the character and bring liveliness into the, well, liveliness of Momoko especially her booming voice. You’ll be blown away to bits if you’re too close to her ;p. Once more, hats off to her for that flawless takegaki tongue twister. Other casts include Yurika Ochiai as Yurika (Suzume in Hyakko, Konomi in Toheart2), Maria Yamamoto as Amane (Yucie in Petite Princess Yucie), Azuma Sakamoto as Tsubasa (Gilbert in Pandora Hearts), Ryoko Shintani as Rinka (Rihoko in Amagami SS), Kotono Mitsuishi as Eri (Boa Hancock in One Piece), Naozumi Takahashi as Atari (Ryouta Misumi in Futaru Wa Pretty Cure), Atsuko Enomoto as Yuumi (Misaki in Angelic Layer), Hikaru Midorikawa as Minato (Lancer in Fate/Zero), Masako Nozawa as Takemiya (Son Goku in Dragonball series), Kimiko Koyama as Kiyoka (Komoe in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Yasunori Matsumoto as Edogawa (Seta in Love Hina), Yuka Imai as Runa (Tomochika in Uta No Prince-sama Maji Love 1000%) and Norio Wakamoto as Heizou (Onsokumaru in 2×2=Shinobuden). As for Mamiko Noto… Actually she doesn’t have any roles here. Hehe… Just want to mention her name since she is my numero uno seiyuu. Hehehe… The opening theme, Nanairo Nadeshiko by Megumi Takamoto (subsequently sung as a group with Sister x Sisters) is quite a lively and catchy piece that at least wants to make you tap your feet. It also showcases Megumi Takamoto in addition to be a versatile seiyuu, she also sings well. The ending theme is Cry A Little by May Nakabayashi (now more popularly known as May’N) and feels like R&B.

As seen in the anime, being a seiyuu isn’t just about lending your voice in animation. It is often more than that and voicing a character is just the tip of the iceberg on what they do. Because most seiyuus have a favourable voice, many tend to end up singing. Of course there are many other side events that seiyuus have to attend and participate so it’s not really a rosy life that one can imagine. Just like any other professions, you need the passion and the love that drives you to go all the way. Otherwise, it would just be another job. Of course some talent and luck are still necessary to make it in this tough industry. Personal egos, jealousy, intense rivalry and competition are the all too familiar issues we hear about almost everywhere. Not to mention the perseverance and determination to learn and improve because if you get a little failure or disheartening incident stop you, you’re not going to make it anywhere either. True as what Minato said, everybody once started out as a rookie at one point in their lives. That’s how people become good at what they do. You won’t reach your destination if you don’t take the first step. While this anime inspires us to go and achieve our dream, we must also be realistic in achieving it. Otherwise you’ll come crashing down real hard. While the good aspect of being a seiyuu is that it improves your speeches and the way you publicly speak, it’s still tough for an introvert like me to speak out. Still having phobias of speaking in public all these years. Maybe I should take up a course in public speaking. Who knows? I may end up becoming a seiyuu along the way. Big dreams I sure have… Now, if I can only get over that ‘she sells seashells on the seashore~‘ without biting my tongue…

AKB0048

January 6, 2013

Imagine the world without the Korean Wave. Now, imagine American Idol never existed. Or all those singing and talent reality shows on TV that you see, cease to exist. No girl groups, no boy bands ever. Heck, what if there is no music in the world! Can’t imagine that kind of life, eh? It’s like having all sorts of entertainment banned. The premise for AKB0048 may remind you of the Taliban’s strict rule but only difference is that you magnify and extend this ban thingy into an intergalactic magnitude. Wow. That is really terrifying. I know in space nobody can hear you scream but to ban all forms of music too?

This series is inspired and based on the popular all-girl idol group called AKB48. Their popularity has been growing in idol-crazy Japan and their influence is of course extending to other countries as well so this anime was somewhat timely to promote and further enhance their popularity. I think. I’m not really a big fan of AKB48 so when I did a little research on the group (via Wikipedia of course), I was overwhelmed with all sorts of information that explains their history, goal and workings. So much so I became ‘scared’ in trying to understand it all. Not to mention the terms such as Kenkyuusei (Understudy/Trainees), Senbatsu (Successors) and Graduates (ex-members). All I understand is that there is a big bunch of girls singing and dancing on stage much to the delight of their screaming fans and that they hold the Guinness World Record of having the most number of group members for a pop group. That’s a total of 64 girls, dude!!! How crowded can the stage get? It makes the Korean boy band of Super Junior look like nothing. And this is not counting all their other associate acts like SKE48, HKT48 and NMB48 among the oddly named groups that sound like some computer code. Well, I don’t mind if you’re crazy over them but for me, I think I’ll just pass and if I happen to like a particular song they sing, so be it. I’m not going gaga and obsessed over them. Maybe I’m too old for this.

Don’t be mistaken that this series is based on the real life and drama of the members itself. In fact it takes place in the future of the 21st century where mankind has migrated to several planets all over the universe after Earth has become uninhabitable. Because entertainment like music has been deemed to ‘disturb the heart’, any sort of that likes are banned. Of course, there will always be a group of resistance fighters to challenge that iron fist ruling and for this sci-fi series, who no other than AKB0048 who will come to the rescue and bring hope to the hearts of people and fans with their music. Labelled as heroines by some and terrorists by others, the girls carry on fighting with the title and the spirit of the original members. This is the story of a group of young hopefuls trying to achieve their dream amidst the dangers and obstacles as they try to become the next generation of AKB0048.

Episode 1
The entertainment ban is in full force on planet Lancastar. Looks like your typical gloomy industrialized dystopian planet. Doom is so the right word. But that didn’t stop a group of 4 young girls, Nagisa Motomiya, Chieri Sono, Yuuka Ichijou and Orine Aida from secretly attending a concert that will be held on the planet. The performance of AKB0048 was awe inspiring, enough to move the hearts of everyone. Despite the attack of the DES enforcers, the show goes on because the idols themselves kick ass! They’re not just pretty faces on stage, you know. While the main idols prance around, their backup Kenkyuusei members take on the DES enforcement. Seriously, a group of heavily armed men getting beaten up by cute idols? Never mind. I root for the idols to kick ass! Woot! At the end of the concert, the 4 friends are left in amazement and they vow to become part of the group one day. For Chieri, she receives a Kirara (cute little glowing blobs). Fast forward 4 years later. Nothing much changes. Lancastar is still a dystopian world but because of that guerrilla concert, pro-entertainment activisms have reached its peak and though the ban is still enforced, some form of entertainment is allowable. Nagisa, Yuuka and Orine watch a recruitment ad from AKB0048 searching for the 77th generation of Understudies. They are going to apply and make an audition tape of themselves. Not the best but you can see the determination they put in. But it’s going to be hard for Nagisa because her father is part of the government’s Entertainment Administration (despite its name, it is actually anti-entertainment) and it would be ironic for people to catch the daughter of such a bureau chief singing. Nagisa like a typical rebelling teenager didn’t like it one bit. Mama is caught in between but eventually couldn’t help her daughter achieve her dream.

Yuuka and Orine relay the good news that they have been accepted for the audition and have been sent a digital ticket for the next round. However Nagisa couldn’t go as she knows her father wouldn’t allow her. Besides, she isn’t confident in her signing. Yuuka calls her a chicken and their friendship is strained. Nagisa tries to convince her dad but he is sticking with his guns. He fears radicals and DES forces may show up and jeopardize everything. Looking for danger is a waste of time. I’m sure that guerrilla concert 4 years ago won’t be enough to convince him either. Nagisa runs out of the house in show of defiance. At the park, she stumbles upon Yuuka arguing with her boyfriend Mamoru Kouenji. She slaps him. He loves her but if she becomes an idol, he won’t love her anymore. I guess that’s the end for them. Orine lives alone in the factory where she also works (her parents were killed when she was young) and though sad to leave this place, she’ll come back to see them again (the machines, that is). On the early morning of their flight, Nagisa makes a last minute decision to attend. She thought her mom was going to stop her but instead was given a ribbon she made herself as support. The flight is about to being as Nagisa peddles hard to catch it. Can you outrun a shuttle? It’s a good thing that her friends pull her up in time into the shuttle but remember, don’t ever try this stunt anyhow. It’s amazing nobody got seriously hurt.

Episode 2
On board the liner, the trio aren’t the only AKB0048 hopefuls on board. We have a glimpse of the very pessimistic Makoto Yokomizo (if she’s so scared, how the heck did she manage to convince herself to get onboard this ship?), the quiet Suzuko Kanzaki (seems to have a wide knowledge on AKB0048) and the stowaway bratty and child-like Sonata Shinonome (has a penchant for giving aptly weird nicknames to others). Of course, not forgetting Chieri who is very well disguised, careful not to let herself be known. Inevitably all the girls (except Chieri) meet and learn they are rivals for the audition. Sorry folks. No cat fight from the start. Instead, friendly interactions. Shouldn’t everyone be like that? They see Sonata hiding not only because she’s a stowaway, but failed the first round auditions. She’s that determined, huh? They see on the news that the daughter of Zodiac Corporation’s CEO is missing. That’s Chieri, right? An all-out search for her has been initiated and it is rumoured that she is heading to some audition. So her friends think she still hasn’t given up her dream and go to find her. Nagisa bumps into a kid (Chieri) who wants to know if she is going to turn Chieri over to the authorities if she finds her. Well, if she wants to pass the audition, she should hand her in. After all that means fewer rivals. Nagisa isn’t going to do that to her friend. However the kid signs off warning her if she doesn’t see others as rivals, there is a slim chance of her joining AKB0048.

When the girls regroup, DES enforcers storm into the liner in search of groups of girls heading to the audition. The girls make a run for it but Nagisa gets caught. It isn’t long before AKB0048 bursts in to save the day. And sing while they’re at it. Nagisa realizes her ribbon is missing and went back to search for it but gets caught again. Chieri unmasks herself to tackle the DES enforcer. Instead of happy to see her old friend again, Chieri chides her that she can’t even protect herself what more join AKB0048. Felt like a cliche when the chandelier fell over her. Nagisa won’t run and abandon Chieri and tries to haul it away. Seriously, can she? Now it’s Nagisa’s turn to reply back on Chieri’s question about rivals. True, they may be rivals. But they trust their friends and support each other. That’s the AKB0048 she wants to join. Kirara suddenly glows and as explained by AKB0048 member Yuuko, it is proof of the birth of an idol. Kiraras are testament to the presence of idols and are attracted to their aura while glowing in resonance. Yuuko lifts the heavy chandelier and guides the duo to the rest of the 77th generation candidates into safety on their shuttle while the rest stalls the DES enforcers. While catching their breath, Chieri notes that Kirara had always followed her ever since that day but it never glowed for her. She wonders if Nagisa was chosen.

Episode 3
The manager of AKB0048, Tsubasa Katagiri informs the candidates they will undergo a series of intensive selections and those who pass will only become Understudies and be invited to their home planet, Akibastar. Sonata gets the green light from Tsubasa to join the audition seeing her determination. I’m sure the girls never thought the audition will be about fighting robots and handling guns, eh? Is this what they signed up for? I mean, you can’t be an idol without being able to defend yourself especially from DES, right? Plus, Tsubasa informs they’ll be bodyguards for the upcoming guerrilla concert and will be trained to protect the current Successors’ concert. Until the end. Boy, this is going to be tough. If it’s not training, taking time off is also hell. The shower water is rusty, the food has lots of fats and they sleep in little space bunkers. Chieri chides everyone who complains and she goes off to practice hard herself. Nagisa and Yuuka go to find her and they stumble upon the Successors practising late into the night. Tensions are running high with one of them slipping up so much so Nagisa busts in to tell them not to fight. On the contrary, they weren’t fighting. It’s their way of letting others know how they’re feeling. A couple of girls want to confront Tsubasa about this combat training thingy but Yuuka tells them off about working hard. It made her realize how much she sounded like Chieri.

Preparations are made just before they are dropped off. While AKB0048 performs on stage, the candidates man their station on the lookout for DES troops. True enough, the robots came and start blasting them all! Wow. They came for an audition and not the kind of battle they expected, eh? How can you throw amateurs into battle?! They’re falling like flies! Tsubasa is observing them and makes a note of those who failed. Lots of them don’t seem to make the cut. Chieri is adamant to protect the concert and becomes the decoy for a DES robot to buy enough time for Nagisa to take it out with her grenade. But it’s not out yet and targets Nagisa. Chieri uses her body to protect her and got shot. The concert ends and as Nagisa holds dear Chieri in her arms, both girls are surprised to see Chieri alive. The blood is fake? As revealed by Tsubasa, this is only a test and training. Seriously, you think they would put amateurs in a real battlefield? Yeah, it was a way to weed out those who didn’t make the cut. Safe to say Nagisa and her friends all pass. The DES robots were made from captured from enemy crafts and this training is to also show that fighting with weapons only brings pain and hatred. However they stood their ground and protect their dream and most important of all, they showed they would be there to support for their friends no matter what. Tsubasa announces that they have successfully become the 77th generation of Understudies.

Episode 4
The girls arrive on Akibastar and they get to see the concert staged by the 75th generation Understudies. There are only 2 of them, Kanata Shinonome and Mimori Kishida. As mentioned by Tsubasa, they are the cursed generation. So many failed and pulled out and they are the only ones left. They have been Understudies for 2 years and none of them have succeeded in becoming Successors. But the girls feel the crowd isn’t really paying attention to their performance. When AKB0048 prance onto the stage, they become wild. After stage, the girls meet the 75th generation Understudies (despite their different generations, they are treated equally as Understudies). Sonata is happy to see her sister Kanata but the latter isn’t. She thinks she should go home and should not be here in the first place. They are taken around the place, the dorm and the kitchen handled by Papa Cook. There is row of pictures in the hallway of portraits of past centres. AKB0048 currently has a different centre for each song but in the past, one person took that position and led the group. It was last held by Acchan the 13th. After she graduated, the position was done away. Why? That’s what Yuuko wants to find out.

Sonata and Kanata are in another sisterly squabble. What else? Kanata is frustrated that their generation has never succeeded and at this rate she will never get revenge for her father. He was the leader of a pro-entertainment rebellion faction but was killed in action by DES. That’s why she doesn’t want Sonata walking the same path as her. She doesn’t care about singing and joined AKB0048 for revenge. She is going to be a Successor so that she can perform on the frontline and fight DES. The Understudies get their dancing lessons from the effeminate choreographer, Ushiyama. He’s strict. He is quick to point out if you’re doing it wrong. No better than combat training, eh? Ushiyama wasn’t impressed with Kanata’s motivation so he tells her off and wants her to switch positions with Chieri. But Chieri couldn’t do that and would prefer to observe older and more experienced members since she is new and will be counting on the seniors to set a good example. I don’t know how others view it as going too far since they’re not sitting well with her statement. Kanata runs off with Mimori chasing her. Mimori finds her sitting alone and starts singing. Kanata tries to shut her ears because she fears if she does so, she may start to like singing. What’s so bad about that? The more you like it the better. So Mimori weaves her magical words of encouragement, support, dreams and hard work for Kanata’s much needed motivation to get her back on her feet. And happily reunite with little sister Sonata too.

Episode 5
They’re getting used to life and routine at the dorm. Just a little bit crowded, don’t you think? Despite having their day off, Tsubasa reminds that how they make the most of their time will greatly impact their futures as the Successors’ lives are schedule down to the last minute. Chieri goes out shopping alone, Suzuko and Sonata take a bath together, Yuuka and Orine help out with Papa Cook, Kojiharu takes Makoto and Kanata under her wing to increase their feminine pheromones while Sayaka and Sae do the exact opposite of Mimori who is reeking of sexy pheromones. Nagisa follows Chieri and thought she was being tailed by an agent and goes to save her. Turns out that guy just wanted to point out the price tag stuck onto her skirt. Suzuko and Sonata try to find out more about S-Quadruple AKA Sensei-sensei (the one responsible for writing songs and lyrics for AKB0048) but was told by Yukirin that it is forbidden to do so or else… You’ll lose your belly button! Sonata believed it… However Suzuko couldn’t pass up this chance and decides to tail Tsubasa who gets a call to meet. Orine and Yuuka went to visit the house of Tomochin and oddly, everyone in her family resembles the Tomochin the 1st! Too strong the genes? Nagisa protects Chieri once more thinking some paparazzi is onto her. Turns out to be Yuuko. The girls talk and she tells them about Acchan who was an amazing person because all the glowing Kiraras would flock to her when she’s on stage. Also, all past centres have graduated under mysterious circumstances and it was believed Acchan disappeared during a concert shortly Yuuko got promoted as a Successor. Acchan took with her the centre position but that is not going to stop Yuuko from becoming a centre. Nagisa inspires to become Yuuko so as they practice their dance in the middle of the streets, it attracts the attention of the public. So all the Understudies get some words of encouragement of chasing their dreams and working hard. Suzuko and Sonata tail Tsubasa who is having a meal with Ushiyama at a roadside stall. Is this Sensei-sensei? Well, they got tired waiting and fell asleep. Apparently Tsubasa knew they were tailing all along and led them on a wild goose chase. After she brings the sleeping girls back to their dorm, she goes off to see Sensei-sensei.

Episode 6
The 77th generation just completed their promotional movie that will be broadcasted throughout the galaxy. Makoto thinks her waist was too fat… They will also be debuting in a handshake event. It is an important event for them to get to know their fans and get feedback. Their personality will impact their future. Oh, do pay attention to your clothes too. Though they didn’t buy anything suitable, Orine is surprised to receive a fan mail. Everyone is eager to see it but it turns out to be a hate mail! This kid doesn’t want her to succeed Sashiko and views her as an embarrassment and failure to this idol he loves. He tells her to give up or else he’ll bomb the event! Orine becomes shell shocked but it was too late for Tsubasa to snatch it away. She laments the screening of mails was lax and they get all sorts of mails. She points out the more popular a member is, the more haters it attracts. If they lose spirit over this, they don’t stand a chance. Besides, if you give into one hater, you’ll let tons of fans down. However Orine couldn’t focus on her practice and continues to slip up. Chieri once more said harsh words but it was for her better sake. Orine gets advice from Takamina that there will always be haters so Orine decides to attend the handshake event.

On that day itself, Orine is still shaken up but her friends remain supportive. Orine gets her first handshake from a fan in the form of a little girl, Yayoi. She gets the much needed boost to carry on the event. As the handshake gets underway, the hateful kid pops up. It’s that traumatic feeling once more. Chieri comes in between them and instead of telling him off, puts up a nice and polite gesture to welcome him to the event. Suddenly a bomb rocks the place and the kid insists it wasn’t him. The DES army is approaching and the Understudies will have to fight them off while the Successors lead the fans to safety. Orine tries to help that kid up and despite him shouting at her he’ll never accept her as Sashiko, Orine thinks back and remembers how his room is filled with memorabilia of her. He must really love her. Orine saves him from an incoming blast and wants to protect him. He is after all her first hater and if there is anything she lacks, please tell her. She’ll do anything to be Sashiko. Reinforcements for the girls arrive in the form called WOTA. Let’s say they are otaku people with armaments that can rival DES. You can’t beat their passion and love for the girls! In the end, DES is forced to withdraw and though the stadium is heavily damaged, there were no casualties. Yayoi is very impressed with Orine but for that kid, he just ran away. Soon, Orine gets another mail from that kid. Though he still doesn’t acknowledge her to be Sashiko (he notes her fighting is like a wimp), he admits her sincerity was like her. So polish up your skills and you might have some potential. Woah. A compliment from her very first hater. An experience for Orine filled with fear and kindness that she’ll never forget.

Episode 7
Some of the Understudies may get their first chance appearing as stand-ins for their Successors who are away attending a peace ceremony. Those selected are Kanata, Mimori, Chieri and Megumi Wanibuchi. However Megumi is not pleased that a younger generation got selected instead of another one from her 76th generation. Tsubasa reminds her that seniority does not play a role in the selection and based on skill. Later Tsubasa talks to Uchiyama about Sensei-sensei. It seems he has been more proactive expressing his will lately and reacting to the 77th generation lately and writing more lyrics. The unselected Understudies think of what to do with their free time but I guess they can’t sit in the same room with the 76th generation. After practice, Chieri tries to follow wherever Yuuko goes and imitate whatever she does. Including doing some embarrassing sexy pose. Nagisa saw that. She congratulates her for becoming a stand-in and when they get back to the dorm, Megumi and her girls confront Chieri. They think she has something to hide. Her dad’s company makes those DES robots and they think she’s a spy. Chieri reveals that she tried to talk to her dad about the audition but he refused to budge so she secretly attended another concert and that’s when she saw her dad’s company logo on the DES robot. That’s why she ran away for this audition and had this feeling she knew she didn’t belong here. Nagisa rubbishes that but Chieri wants to be left alone. So when practice begins, Chieri isn’t around. Kanata wants to go look for her despite Ushiyama’s protest. He cautions her that Chieri has abandoned her duty and that Kanata is close to being promoted. But as captain of the Understudies, Kanata feels it’s her duty as that comes first before being a stand-in and goes off to look for Chieri.

Takamina talks to Yuuko, Yukirin and Mayuyu about Kanata’s skills at a Successor’s level. But since they don’t know how this succession thing works, they decide to go see Tsubasa. They tail Tsubasa entering a weird shrine underneath the concert hall. Was this place ever so big? Inside a cave, they see lots of glowing Kiraras. They reflect the original members that they are succeeding. However when it comes to Takamina, it wasn’t her face but Kanata’s. Kanata sees Chieri packing her bags. She feels guilty she took the audition without mentioning what her father does. But Kanata couldn’t care less about what her father does. Despite her father was killed by DES and she joined AKB0048 to avenge his death, that all doesn’t matter now because she wants to be a Successor. It’s your dream that matters. Well, that was enough conviction for Chieri to u-turn her decision. And shed some tears while at it. Kanata hugs her and Nagisa thought she saw something yuri. Tsubasa is surprised to find the quartet within the forbidden area. Takamina wants to know the meaning of this and as explained. The Kiraras here are the Kiraras of succession. So, they rely on these cute little critters to select the next Successor? Up till a year ago, the Kirara showed Takamina’s face until it was replaced by Kanata as her power increased. It’s because her soul is the closes to the original Takamina. Since the Kirara chose her, Kanata will be the next Takamina once she graduates. Of course this means if Takamina doesn’t graduate, she won’t get promoted. But as of now, Kanata may have grown close to the original Takamina. This doesn’t sit well with Takamina. Tsubasa hopes the rest won’t tell the rest. They won’t because Takamina is their irreplaceable captain.

Episode 8
The concert was a success and as usual awe inspiring. But the next guerrilla concert will be held on Tundrastar where the entertainment ban is in full force. Kanata, Mimori, Megumi and all of the 77th generation are selected as stand-ins. Megumi is not happy that her other 76th generation didn’t get selected so Tsubasa tells her off that the 77th generation were practising hard when they were not selected. What was the 76th generation doing then? Can’t answer, no? This later leads to a confrontation between the 76th generation and the rest. Though Kanata tries to give them hope, Megumi reminds her of her 2 years as an Understudy. Surprisingly Suzuko head butts her. That pain hurt her as much as it did to Suzuko. She wants her to apologize to Kanata. Yuuka writes a mail to Mamoru that she has become a stand-in but gets embarrassed when Makoto and Sonata read it out loud. Megumi is still bitter over everything. She meets Youko, a full-fledged AKB0048 who was from her generation before she got promoted. She’s the only one from the 76th generation to become a Successor. Megumi said they used to be together but they hardly see her. You know how busy a Successor’s schedule is? Tsubasa receives information from WOTA that there will be large reinforcements from DES waiting for them. They might not have enough members to fight back but Takamina will still go ahead with the concert. They’ll put down their lives for the people who are counting on them and not let a little danger scare them. Four DES robots are detected so the girls get into their station. Takamina is having doubts if she is acting like a captain. She couldn’t concentrate and got careless. Though she is saved by Kanata, she is badly wounded from the direct missile hit. Takamina wakes up in the infirmary with Yuuko by her side. She doubts her own abilities but wants to stay on and not graduate. However she is in a dilemma because if she does, Kanata will remain as an Understudy. That girl works so hard and adores her so it seems unfair that she is crushing her dreams for her own selfishness. Yuuko says though they care for the girls, it is her own dream that is most important. Everyone in AKB0048 is chasing the same dream but that dream means something different to each of them. Her dream belongs to only herself and there is nothing wrong with that. Kanata notes she needs to become stronger.

Episode 9
Takamina is injured and even so, she wants to perform. However Tsubasa doesn’t think she can give her best performance and replaces her with Kanata. Megumi feels Youko has gone distant between them. Mimori assures her that she is still by her side because their efforts will help the Successors shine on the main stage. Megumi feels bad she has been badmouthing them so why is she helping her still. Because she’s a masochist…?! On Tundrastar, Nagisa and her friends decide to take a look at a nearby town. Gloomy. Depressing. Miserable. This is what happens when you ban entertainment, eh? Yeah, nobody is smiling. Their hearts are frozen. They see a group of little girls secretly watching a video of AKB0048 in their igloo. Once they realize who the idols are, their eyes are beam with hope and happiness. This gives Nagisa an idea to perform for them right now. Too bad it is cut short when it attracted the attention of DES enforcers but the WOTA got them. Tsubasa has come up with an idea of holding multiple coordinated concerts. The concert starts and the Understudies start popping up everywhere all over town singing. This confuses the DES enforces because by the time they reach the girls, they’re already gone. Popping up at random places also messes their coordination as they are scattered throughout the place. The main concert is going to start in a few minutes and Kanata is extremely happy that she is going to play Takamina’s role for the very first time. However Takamina shows up and wants her to take off her dress. She is adamant she can still perform her best. Seeing her determination, Tsubasa allows her. I’m sure Kanata must be very disappointed with this last minute change. Oh well. Easy come, easy go. The main concert gets underway and though Takamina is in pain, she doesn’t give in and puts on a stunning performance while the Understudies and WOTA keep DES at bay. At the end of the concert, Takamina fever reaches burning point. Despite the crowd wanting an encore, Yuuko wants Kanata to bring her to the sick bay. She should trust her friends more. Takamina notes that Kanata may have been bitter not being able to perform. Despite of that, she puts the band and performance first. She thinks the title of Takamina should really belong to her.

Episode 10
Makoto seems to be enjoying fattening food till Tsubasa announces a gravure photo shoot in their swimsuits. Oh no. Now she’s changing her mind about those ‘treasure chests’? On the other hand, Nagisa notes how Chieri has changed a lot as she has grown closer to the other girls since their return from Tundrastar. So before the photo shoot, Makoto doubts she could make her appearance. The fats ended up in the wrong place even if they’re a few centimetres apart! Haha! Seeing she wants to shape up so bad, Suzuko is glad to lend her hand. That scream doesn’t sound good. Suddenly, yes suddenly flat chest Makoto has got boobs! What the?! Did she have such a nice body before? From what Suzuko did, she seems to tape all the fats around her body and squeeze it to her breasts. I don’t know how she did that. While the photo shoot goes on, Yuuko confronts Tsubasa about the place with Kirara of succession. It’s because of her dream as the Centre Nova. Noting that Tsubasa was once part of the AKB0048 known as Mariko, Acchan was always with her. She knows she was there by her side when Acchan disappeared. Tsubasa then quit AKB0048 to join the administration team to find out about Acchan’s disappearance. Makoto revels in her photo shoot but because Sonata is fooling around, her fake pads dropped off into the water. She quickly scoops them up till she realizes she just put in a jellyfish. It stings like hell! Chieri and Nagisa are made to pose close to each other. Too close…

That night Makoto skips out in joining the rest to bath together. So Suzuko joins her and reveals her dream was not to become a Successor and has no one in particular she wants to become. As each member had their own unique traits, some advance quickly while others took their time. She had low confidence level till she discovered AKB0048. She wants to become someone like Tsubasa, someone who works to support AKB0048. Nagisa and Chieri are seen talking together. Chieri says Kirara has never glowed once in her presence and glowed only for Nagisa. Since she was chosen by Kirara, she can’t win. Suddenly they hear screams from Makoto. Actually they were screams of joy. Because of the jellyfish sting, her boobs swelled. She thinks this is her chance to get some of her pictures taken before the temporary boobs disappear. Tsubasa goes to see Mikako Noono, the camerawoman who was also known as Minami Minegishi and was once the Centre Nova. She shows her a picture she took of Chieri and Nagisa together. Even though the sun is out, Kirara shone very brightly. Mikako denies she was Centre Nova because she ran away and if Tsubasa intends to bring that position back, she’ll do everything in her power to stop her. Tsubasa seeks answers about it but Mikako’s lips are tightly sealed. Nagisa reflects on what Chieri said about being chosen and refuses to believe that this is about winning or losing.

Episode 11
A big announcement pops up right after AKB0048’s performance. The Understudies will have their debut performance back on Lancastar. Tsubasa goes over the programme for their performance and for one of the few solo songs, Nagisa is surprised that she was chosen to be the lead singer while Chieri, Suzuko and Makoto act as her backup dancers. Nagisa didn’t have confidence to take on this role but Tsubasa tells her this is not a debate. Kanata talks to Takamina and though she feels jealous Nagisa got that part, she is now happy that her comrades are rewarded for their effort. Yuuka gets mail from Makoto but it’s not lovey-dovey reply. He doesn’t want her to come back. Still bitter? Uchiyama is not impressed that Nagisa lacks the vibrant to match the solo song while the other girls chide Kanata for being pro-Takamina. Takamina this, Takamina that. If that is not enough trouble, Yuuko barges in seeking answers from Tsubasa that Sensei-sensei has composed a new song and the ones who are singing it are the Understudies. So? Jealous? So what a new song hasn’t been written since Acchan’s disappearance. This song, Yume Wa Nando Demo Umarekawaru (Dreams Are Forever Reborn) seems to have its lyrics suitable for the Understudy girls. It shows that the girls have the power to move Sensei-sensei. Yuuko is going to practice this song too even if they don’t get to sing it. Sonata and Makoto discuss about Sensei-sensei’s song writing abilities. Sonata thinks he is lazy for him to come up with a song after so long while Makoto thinks it’s a burden if he writes songs regularly because it’ll be hard to remember all its lyrics as of now AKB0048 has already hundreds of them. Chieri continues to ponder what Nagisa has that she lacks and sees Yuuko performing the new song alone. It’s like she’s obsessed with it.

Tsubasa receives report that DES and the radical anti-entertainment faction are making their move on Lancastar. Yuuka understands why Makoto told her not to come back. Nonetheless, they are going to hold a concert. Nagisa and her friends get permission to visit around town and promise to be back before their concert. The place hasn’t changed at all. Dark. Depressing. Gloomy. Miserable. Outside their old school, Yuuka is shocked to see Mamoru. He has a rifle in hand! Anyway they both start arguing till Mamoru’s teammate, Aoi breaks them up. Yuuka to her surprise finds Mamoru is a fan of Suzuko! Great. This just complicates things. Well, I don’t remember them breaking up officially. Oh, Aoi is Yuuka’s fan. They are brought into their old classroom which is now a base for Lancastar’s WOTA, which Mamoru and Aoi are part of. It’s such a pig sty but after seeing the Understudies, see how fast they clean up the space to welcome them. Yuuka is baffled because she thought Mamoru hated AKB0048. Apparently after she left, he researched on the group and gradually found himself addicted. Life is so ironic. Though Yuuka is happy, she can’t help wonder who this Aoi girl is since she is quite close to Mamoru. The WOTA leader informs that the anti-entertainment on Lancastar has grown stronger thanks to DES and many of the pro-entertainment officials have been detained. This prompts Nagisa to ask about her dad. He was arrested because his daughter became an Understudy of AKB0048. No use crying now. She defied him to go after her dream, right? Suddenly the place is under attack by DES. Mamoru wants Yuuka and her friends to escape safely so they can put up a concert and give the people strength to fight back. To confuse the enemy, they will split into 3 groups. Nagisa, Chieri and Orine are running away when Orine stumbles. Orine recognizes a mark from the factory she carved on the DES robot and becomes distraught.

Episode 12
Chieri cuts the DES robot with her light sabre and leads the girls to safety. Orine realizes she has been making DES robots without realizing it and indirectly tried to destroy AKB0048 she loves. Chieri feels she is to blame since it was her father’s company that ordered the factory to make those weapons. WOTA reinforcements arrive to help them to safety. Before the van departs, Nagisa wants to save her father because she feels it’s her fault she got detained. Kanata vouches for her since they’ve all been trained for combat. The WOTA leader notes how Kanata is like her father who was a hero to the liberation movement. The place where the girls first witnessed the AKB0048 is now a detainment facility. While the rest draw the guards’ attention, Nagisa, Makoto, Suzuko and Sonata will head in via secret pathway to reach her father. When Nagisa reaches her father’s cell, he refuses to leave. Since he is an Entertainment Administration official, he can’t risk it to be saved by an entertainer and traitor to Lancaster and will go talk to the higher ups himself. With a heavy heart, Nagisa is forced to leave empty handed since DES reinforcements are heading towards them. They seek shelter at Yuuka’s family restaurant. Nagisa still feels guilty it’s her fault daddy is in there. Yuuka’s parents say that though they manage to lie their way out, her father was pressured into making her quit AKB0048 but never gave in. Then they drive by Nagisa’s house and see it in ruins. The garden that her mom used to diligently take care off is now in shambles.

When they get back to base for practice, Nagisa seems to have lost her voice from the shock. The concert is tomorrow and they don’t have enough time. Chieri volunteers to take her place since she knows the lyrics and moves by heart. Tsubasa okays it and reduces Nagisa to a backup dancer. Takamina talks to Yuuko who is practising the new song. She hates it since it’s all about the new generation and it makes her feel that her generation is not good enough. Takamina is still in pain from her old injuries and thinks of graduating after this concert. Later Chieri confronts Nagisa and gives her a pep talk about graduating and not to quit until she has lost to her. Easy to say it to her now because she can’t talk back, eh? Before the main concert begins, Yuuka talks to Mamoru and promises to put on a dazzling performance. He says he has changed his mind. He loves the Yuuka in AKB0048 and no longer the one who isn’t in it. As long as she remains in AKB0048, he’ll be her fan. The Understudies head out for their debut performance and put all their heart and soul into it. DES is firing back with more firepower and is serious in taking down AKB0048 so much so Tsubasa had to initiate an emergency cancel on the concert. While Yuuka bids farewell to Mamoru, Mikako sees a new Kirara born.

Episode 13
The Understudies want to return to perform since their voice have not reach their fans yet. They fear they may not get a chance to return if they run but Tsubasa won’t hear any more of it. Tsubasa also reflects how she didn’t want to abandon her home planet. She thought her planet had no WOTA support and that nobody was there to see them. However Acchan thought differently, she wanted to go because she wanted to see her fans. Sonata is a little shaken up. During a fracas with one of the DES enforcers, she saw how scary his face at close up. He hated AKB0048 and Sonata thought AKB0048 was all about love and smiles. Suzuko says DES are a bunch of bullies and that they are wrong to hate them. Soon all the girls including the Successors plead to Tsubasa they want to resume their concert. Suddenly Acchan’s voice is heard. Noting their determination to reach their voices, Acchan casts a ray of light down from the ship onto Lancaster. The location will be at the detainment facility. What a better place to fight for the liberation of entertainment. Mikako leads the fans over to the spot as Mamoru frees Nagisa’s dad from prison and makes him come to watch his daughter’s debut performance. The other detainees are also freed to watch the concert. Halfway through the song, Chieri passes the mike to Nagisa and wants her to take the lead. She kept thinking of not wanting to lose to her but realized they wouldn’t reach anyone if they’re against each other. Nagisa sees her parents watching and gets her voice back to take over from Chieri. Well, papa doesn’t seem too impressed. For the encore, all the Understudies begin singing the new song. Tsubasa realizes all the Kiraras are shining in radiance. The kind that was last seen when Acchan was around. Chieri’s Kirara splits itself.

A stray missile hits the centre stage but Kanata doesn’t want to directly fight back because they’ll leave it to Takamina and the rest to handle the defence. What they’ll do is go into spatial formation to decentralize their attacks. The Understudies split up and get close with their fans. Takamina is impressed with Kanata’s decision and feels the need to lend their radiance to their performance. After all, AKB0048 doesn’t fight. They show love. Okay, maybe disarming the DES guys is an exception. They don’t kill, right? Tsubasa sees a video of the holy grounds. To her surprise, the Kirara of succession replaces Kanata’s face back with Takamina. Her strong desire to protect the members and concert may have caused her soul to reflect closer to the original Takamina. Sensei-sensei suddenly starts murmuring about Centre Nova and all the pictures of the Understudies pop up. One of them or all of them? While singing and fighting against the DES enforcers, the Kiraras serve as a barrier to protect AKB0048 from heavy missiles. The Understudies could feel they are resonating as one and are shining brightly than ever. Mikako fears they will disappear and pleads for them not to shine anymore. To her surprise at the end, all of them are still around as they take their last bow. She notices sparkles in the sand and realizes it is dualium. The reason why the Centre Nova phenomenon occurred here. Nagisa has an emotional reunion with mommy but apologizes to daddy. He tells not to unless her conviction is that weak. More DES enforcements are arriving and since they can’t risk putting more danger to fans, they have to retreat. Daddy tells Nagisa that since she has abandoned this planet once, if her feelings are strong, make sure she doesn’t falter this time. Move forward and don’t look back. I guess that’s the green light for her to achieve her dream and bring hope of lifting the entertainment ban on Lancastar. The Understudies bid farewell to their loved ones, fans and even had time to sign some autographs before taking flight. Tsubasa informs the good news to Takamina and you can see how happy she is that she’s staying put. I guess Kanata will have to wait, huh?

Idols Save The Universe!
Not over yet! Looks like the path to being an idol is a long and treacherous road ahead. So much so we’ll have to wait for the sequel in early 2013 as announced right at the end of the final episode (which is right now at the time of this blog!). Certainly there are lots of things still left unexplained like who in the world is this Sensei-sensei, why was Chieri the only one to get her own Kirara from the start and it never really shone for her ever since, what really happened to Acchan and the Centre Nova position that was done away with. Hopefully the sequel will answer some of these questions and more. Yes, you could say that I would be very much inclined to catch it when the time comes. Provided if I haven’t lost my interest in AKB0048 then. Keep your fingers (and mine) cross. Not to say I am a convert and turned into a crazy fan of AKB48.

I guess the storyline is pretty decent. What more can you expect from an idol themed show? Not to say that I have watch lots of it but I guess what better way than to show the struggles and friendship among the girls in their quest to fulfil their dream. It is pretty ironic that despite they are all rivals among each other, in the end they are one big family and help each other out when needed. So the bottom line is that they’re all friends at the end of the day. That is the true spirit of friendship and what it takes to be in a group. Especially for a big group. Otherwise you would be going solo and even so, you can’t succeed without background support, right?

I thought this series would be focused on Nagisa and Chieri seeing that initially I was given the impression that they will be the stars of this series. Along the way, it takes a little detour to focus a bit on Kanata and see how she changes from one who sings for revenge to just one who sings because she loves and enjoys it. As proven, she could be the next leader for the next generation once the current one graduates but from what I see that isn’t going to happen in the foreseeable future unless the Kirara change their mind again. Chieri also has learnt to open up a little. She learns that it isn’t important who outshines who but rather if they don’t work together, neither of them is going to shine. Makoto is easily an amusing girl because of her pessimism. Ironically that pessimism has brought her this far but not without the help and support of the rest. It’s good that when it’s time to shine on stage, she doesn’t chicken out or wilt under pressure. She just does it fine like the rest. Suzuko may not talk much but her knowledge of AKB0048 is something to be revered. Even if she doesn’t dream of ending up as part of the front line singers, this debut helps her understand better how to support future members in the future. What better way to know things work by going through them yourself. I find Sonata annoying because she’s bratty. Asking her to grow up wouldn’t be right of me because she is after all the youngest in the group. Because of the extensive members in the group, it’s hard to give the rest their fair share of time. Like those from the 76th generation. They are a forgettable bunch if you don’t think much about them. I wonder if it’s appropriate to use the term of too many cooks spoil the broth here.

As we have seen, the path to become an idol isn’t all rosy and cushy. First of all, you’d never expect to see the idol wannabes to undergo combat training, right? Even if it looks very odd to see cute idols flying machines and fighting heavily armed robots, there is a good reason why idols should learn basic and ultimately advance self defence moves. Of course it is to protect themselves, duh. Even in real life this is a must because to take precautions from obsessed and maniacal fans. Though we don’t see any crazy fans here (Orine’s hater wasn’t one to a point where he would physically harm others), it is much different in real life because there are sick stalkers lurking just about everywhere. You can’t rely on your bodyguard (provided if you have one) for 24/7 so it is always best to rely on yourself. I know military training for idols seem like pushing it but for this sci-fi series, I think I’ll make this an exception. So dealing with outside threats isn’t the only obstacle to become an idol. There are threats that are within your circle too. For this series, there is a little rivalry and aversion between the 76th and 77th generation. It’s like survival with different camps. Despite the band having boasts the largest number of members at a single time, however keep in mind that the places are still limited. You definitely don’t want to be spending year after year as an Understudy and watch younger and newer generations pass you by, right? It’s like being a university ronin, no? Fortunately this series keep the cat fights to the minimum and mounting to nothing serious. Even when the b*tches dig up dirt on Chieri about her father’s company making DES robots, a little heart wavering here and there, some little talk here and there, before you know it, everything is back to normal and the issue was as though never brought up in the first place. And the most important of all for an idol to keep her place in the team is to practice, practice and more practice. Slip up a little and you’re out. There’s a bunch waiting in line who would be eager to take your place. Despite the rosy picture painted of an idol’s life, it’s still pretty much a dog-eat-dog-world.

I don’t really have qualms about the art and drawing of this series. Cute wide eyed girls, your typical bishoujo anime style. Even some of the background and scenery of some planets really give out that gloomy and miserable feel. See? No music, no life. However something really bugged me ever since I laid my eyes on the characters. They have this heart shaped as their pupils and also the heart shape mark on their hair. It’s nothing bad actually but I can’t seem to take my focus away from it. Like as though some force is making me stare at those hearts and can’t avert my eyes away. Maybe I need lots of love? Also, I find that the faces of the graduated members of AKB0048 to have that one-kind look. They look odd. Weird. Another odd thing is that during the concert performance, the animation shifts into CG so it feels a little odd to see the ‘3D’ girls dancing and prancing around on stage. I don’t know. I thought it felt a little lame and hence it would’ve been better if they kept it at 2D.

Action isn’t the biggest forte of the series but I guess it is pretty cool to see the girls kick ass. It must be embarrassing for those DES people to have spent trillions of dollars making those anti-idol machines only to be easily destroyed by the idols’ power of love. It shows you can’t beat that with violence, eh? Funnily, all of the missiles have this strike-out, no-idols logo. They really hate idols, do they? And the most amazing part? Nobody dies! Think about this, when the DES fires indiscriminately at AKB0048, the screaming fans below are no doubt caught in between. No stray missiles? No debris? Perhaps thank the Kiraras then for protecting everyone. And shouldn’t the ordinary people be running helter-skelter when the missiles start raining? They must really believe in their AKB0048 to brave the dangers and cheer them on, eh? After all, life is already so dead with the ban, so it’s better to die at a live performance. Shouldn’t people in oppressed areas just download music (legal or not is another story) instead of risking their lives to attend guerrilla concerts? Well, attending a live concert is definitely a totally different experience. The atmosphere, the crowd, the performers in the flesh. You can’t have that with a piece of mp3 file, eh?

Thus the biggest feature of this series would be the music that is AKB48’s style. Since I’m not a fan and have not heard of them prior to this anime so I can’t really compare and comment. To me they just feel like any other idol groups. Since this show is based on AKB48, it only makes sense that the seiyuus come from the real group itself, namely AKB48, SKE48 and NMB48. These real members voice the Understudies whereas the veteran seiyuus take on the role of the successors. They include Ryoko Shiraishi, Yui Horie, Mamiko Noto, Yukari Tamura, Ayako Kawasumi, Akemi Kanda, Kana Ueda, Mai Nakahara and Miyuki Sawashiro. It was a delight for me to able to spot many of the veteran seiyuus though it is a shame that many of them only had a few lines to speak throughout the entire series except for Ryoko Shiraishi since her Takamina character had the most screen time among the Successors. I also find it funny Daisuke Ono playing as Ushiyama. After hearing him voice so many gentleman-like characters, hearing his voice as an effeminate character just really feels odd. Many of the insert songs featured such as Aitakatta, Shoujotachi Yo and Beginner are sung by the actual AKB48 members. The opening theme, Kibou Ni Tsuite and the main ending theme, Yume Wa Nando Demo Umarekawaru on the other hand are credited to No Name (made up by the seiyuus of the 9 Understudies in the anime). Maybe it’s because the group are a mix of AKB48, SKE48 and NMB48 so it’s not appropriate to credit it to a single group and thus the new unit group is formed to sing this song written for this anime.

The idea that music as a tool to save the world may seem far-fetched but that can’t be help since this is an idol genre. But indeed that it is true that despite whatever language you are speaking, music is universal. Sometimes you don’t even need to know a language to like and enjoy a song. You can sing a song flawlessly memorizing all the words of another language without having to understand what it all means but still love singing it. Take my case for anime songs. I think up till today I don’t even understand 3/4 of what I’m singing. But that didn’t stop me from belting it out right? Despite I know how horrible I sound. No wonder I can only dream to be an idol. Well, keep dreaming. So if you want to say that music heals and changes people, this might hold true in this anime because as we see how the oppressed people light up just to know that AKB0048 has descend to bring you a delightful performance. DES enforcers were so obsessed in just taking AKB0048 down that they just leave the ordinary people alone. What can they do? If they were to ring in everybody who attended the guerrilla concert, the entire planet would have turned into a giant prison. Many of the characters also changed because of music. Kanata, Mamoru and ultimately Nagisa’s father. Not that he is totally accepting entertainment but at least he sees them in a more favourable light. So his decision to stay put in jail and not get busted out was right because it would’ve send wrong signals to authorities that AKB0048 is indeed a terrorist group. All the group ever needs to do to spread the love is just to perform and sing. That’s it. Leave the military combat and defence to the WOTA (some melee combat can’t be helped if the DES enforcers get too close). Here’s a thought.

While the ban on music may seem harsh and oppressive, if you think about it, there is a good reason why this entertainment ban came into effect. Entertainment is like art. And art is subjective. What constitutes art? So for instance when wild rock concerts go spiralling out of control with the crazy fans running amok, smashing things up and rioting, who are the ultimate losers eventually? Property broken and people injured, in order to stem such atrocities, a blanket ban is imposed. It is both good and bad. Thus it depends on which side you are and how much you can tolerate this entertainment subject. So what are the chances that the same kind of riot will break out at an idol concert? Sometimes too much love can be a bad thing. Too little love is also a bad thing. Therefore the lesson here is to do things in moderation and find the right balance and mix. It’s okay to like an idol but to a point that it is just creepily obsessed that an idol must conform to your standards and so and so, that’s not good. Idols are humans too. They may be the admiration of many but they certainly aren’t your property. It doesn’t give you the right to own them even you have bought all their CDs and memorabilia.

I won’t be catching on the AKB48 craze wave any time soon. Not going into Korean Wave either or American Idol (in fact I haven’t watch any season of it). Everyone has their own taste and pace in enjoying music though I have to thank this show for reigniting my passion to sing all those old anime songs that I once used to karaoke many years back. Ugh. This is what I sound like after long periods of no practice. Horrible. Not an idol material in the first place. At least I’m satisfied listening to them as they’re music to my ears. It’s a good thing that there is no total entertainment ban in almost every part of the real world. If that happens, the idols will have to come to see you. Right now with freedom of music, we have to go see them perform. Just one problem, though. The ticket is going to cost a bomb.

Before the start of the second season which is supposed to start in January 2012, there has been a release of a special episode called Tantei Opera Milky Holmes OVA. Yes, this single episode was enough to send back flooding memories about a bunch of ‘useless’ detective lolis even if they carry the great names of their famous detective forefathers. So bumbling and retard that their clumsiness and screw ups are the source of comedy and hilarity of the series. Do we really blame their lost of Toys or is it just them?

I’m not sure if this OVA is set after the events at the end of the TV series or somewhere in between. There was one flashback scene whereby it was from the final episode of the TV series (that was what I remembered) but then again at the end of the show, there is a next episode preview, which is one of the middle episodes in the TV series. Since this OVA is about Kokoro, I remember there was one episode whereby Irene kidnapped Kokoro so could it be a continuation from there? So could this be a missing episode in between or just something random. Heck, I couldn’t care less about that as long as they bring in the laughs.

The episode starts off with Tsugiko, Hirano and Saku preparing to infiltrate a heavily guarded mansion. It is a mission to rescue Kokoro taken as hostage. Probably the guards are just for show because the trio dispatches them easily like pros and when they arrive at the main room, their shock wasn’t seeing Milky Holmes at the scene but rather Kokoro happily singing like an idol in front of happy Irene. Uh… What’s going on? Anyway everyone is so thrilled by Kokoro’s singing that they join in the dance!!! WTF?! Till they realize each other. The girls are reprimanding Irene for kidnapping Kokoro but the smart girl gives and excuse that she found her unconscious on the road. Though, she was the one who made her that way. As for Kokoro, what’s with that getup? Feeling embarrassed? I’m sure she was just making up an excuse that they took too long to rescue her and thus dressed up like an idol to catch Irene off guard. Excuses, excuses… Well, Irene had 2 reasons why she ‘kidnapped’ Kokoro. Firstly, she’s cute (everyone has their weird fetishes) and secondly, her father’s company is going bankrupt. Again? The gold that she found was confiscated by the government. So Irene thought of turning Kokoro into an idol to scrounge up some money. Well, it’s not like Kokoro approved of it. Has she got a choice?

Back at the police headquarters. Seems G4’s office has been reduced to a narrow and cramped room. After all their failures and Kokoro’s recent kidnapping, I guess G4 has fallen down the ranks and got ‘reassigned’. The room is even smaller than Milky Holmes’ run down attic… Anyway Kokoro is shouting at the top of her lungs that she’s a police officer, bla bla bla, some unimportant flashbacks, bla bla bla, something about her IQ that has lots of zeroes in it (I agree with the zeroes and not any other number) that astounds those Harvard guys. Sheesh. You’re making the room feel even more cramp! Because her teammates aren’t interested, Kokoro threatens that she may take up Irene’s offer as an idol. You know what? They still don’t care! They don’t give a damn. Not a single sh*t! Kokoro panics and throws in a desperate move by saying that they’ll be lonely without her. Aren’t they going to stop her? Not interested… So much for friends. So how? I guess Kokoro is really desperate for some assurance so much so she ran down to Holmes Detective Academy to ask Milky Holmes if they will be lonely if she’s gone. Loser… Their reaction? They are ecstatic that she’s awakened to her idol side! Yeah, Nero wants to make character goods and sell them for profit! $$$ Ching! Ching! Even worse, Sherlock will support her all the way if that’s what she wants to achieve her dream. Fine. If that is how everybody wants to be, Kokoro slams her golden mask on the ground and calls it quits.

Soon Kokoro becomes the new idol in town, mesmerizing and racking up fans faster than filing up a glass of water. She attends lots of talk shows, lots of publicity and her face is literally everywhere in town. Kokoro! Kokoro! Kokoro! Come on. You want to cheer on her too, right? Yeah, that autography and hand shaking session has swelled her right hand. And you thought texting was the only reason that could sore your hands and fingers this big. While Irene is fawning over Kokoro, her dad is ecstatic that he can finally free himself from bankruptcy with all the money they have made. Milky Holmes is part of the crowd waiting to catch a glimpse of Kokoro coming out from the backstage into her limo. Sherlock calls out to her and her natural reaction was to protect herself from her gold mask. That didn’t happen. Did Kokoro hear her at all? Well, she’s in a different world now. So different that Sherlock feels somewhat empty. But why the heck is she bumming around at the cramp room of G3 (the new name for the police girls minus Kokoro)?! It’s already so cramp, they don’t need another one to fill in Kokoro’s shoes! Yeah, she’s annoying too… As Sherlock is feeling sad that Kokoro has gone away, Henriette reminds her of her duty to become a detective and not blame her uselesslesslesslessless-ness on someone else. This has Sherlock pondering the meaning of duty and dream.

The day of Kokoro’s concert, Arsene and her team steal Yokohama’s Red Shoes Riding Hood. Milky Holmes goes into action but they weren’t startled. Instead, they’re happy that they’ve found the meaning of duty and dream. Their duty as detectives and Kokoro’s dream of being an idol. What? Kokoro sees a news report of the battle between Phantom Thief Empire against Milky Holmes and G3. Looks like deep down in her heart, she is itching to get back into the action but Irene shuts the TV and passes her the mike. It’s idol time. Kokoro sings her heart out on stage while the battle rages on outside the stadium. Milky Holmes lives up to their useless reputation by getting beaten to a pulp. I’m wondering why Tsugiko and Hirano are fighting against each other? Saku is left ‘paralyzed’ when her lollipop is taken away from her mouth. Like taking candy from a baby, eh? Then the large screen in the stadium shows the battle outside. Kokoro stops for a while and is concerned but remembers that they didn’t give a damn about her because they didn’t even try to stop her from leaving. As she continues singing, she hears Sherlock confronting Arsene. Barely standing herself, Sherlock pours out her feelings on Kokoro. She didn’t want her to quit as a police officer and wanted her back because she was lonely (who else is going to hit her with the golden mask?). However she didn’t want to stop her from fulfilling her dream to become the world’s number one idol. So in order to put her at ease and not them see them in this pitiful state (too late girls), they have got to pull it together. For the sake of her dream. But Arsene doesn’t give a sh*t and kicks her away. Milky Holmes regroups and dart towards Arsene and her men. Look how cute they are dashing in tears, no? At that moment, Kokoro’s heart twitched. She knew what she wanted to do.

Before both sides could clash, a microphone is thrown between them. A girl in a golden mask stands before them. Heck, everyone can tell it’s you Kokoro. Then she throws her mask at Arsene but it hits Sherlock! Haha! I guess it’s her destiny to get whacked by it after all. So didn’t Kokoro give up being an officer? Well, she did not say she quit (eh? I thought she did? Did she forget?). That’s right, she’s back as a police officer. Oh boy. Milky Holmes and G3 are happy to see her and rush towards her to pester her for a plan. But being the stupid heroines they are, Arsene and her men got away scot free with the statue. Bummer. Another black mark in their records. Meanwhile Irene’s dad is in tears once more because he’s on the verge of bankruptcy. Something about he flopped big time selling his assets via foreign exchange. Maybe he should just leave running his company to Irene. As for that little smart girl, she isn’t giving up on Kokoro yet. Kokoro is back with a vengeance in the little cramp room. Yes, she’s laying down her goals but why the heck is Milky Holmes doing here? How cramp can the room get with 8 lolis in it?! While Sherlock is glad to have her back, Nero isn’t too happy because without her being an idol, all the character goods she made are now useless. Yup. She’s here to hand an invoice for the materials to make the goods. Yeah, why the hell must she pay! Lastly, Milky Holmes is watching a musical programme whereby Kokoro is supposed to star in and say her final goodbye to her fans. But it turns out to be Mori Arty making her debut song. The girls are taken in by her cuteness.

Idol Reject!
Yes, this OVA definitely lives up to its hype and serves as an appetizer before the second season. I’m very much anticipating to catch that to see more useless action from the bunch. They may be useless but they’re doing it in an annoyingly cute way so I guess that’s okay :). So basically this episode has Kokoro in focus as an idol though it feels as though she’s just trying to get back at her comrades for not caring enough for her. At moments you feel that even though she’s doing a fine perfect job as one, there is hesitation in her looks that could indicate that she misses the good ol’ police job. However if you really ask me, the police could be better off without her! Yeah, she should just join the Milky Holmes and become one big bungling family. On another note, I don’t think Kokoro would be good in any other jobs she ventures in. Haha! Is that an insult! Don’t worry, we all love you as much as we love Milky Holmes. Because of their twisted never-give-up attitude, it’s hard not to cheer for them. Looks like Arsene has still got a long way to make those loli detectives back to where they once were famed for. Oh, looks like they really stole the statue for good.

I think the number 130 is the number of the series. I don’t know what obsession Kokoro has with this number but this time her IQ level in this OVA just blew up to 1,300,000,000,000!!! I don’t even know how to pronounce this number. Then there are other times this number denomination appears like shaking hands with 1,300 people and her 130,000,000 copies of her debut CDs were sold. I thought the final number on Nero’s invoice should be 130,000,000 Yen instead of 38,000,000 Yen… The Gentlemen Thieves rarely had their screen time here. But it’s a good thing because it means we see less of Twenty’s self loving and distasteful nipples caressing antics. Well, there is one scene that he is scene kissing his life size bolster. So until then, my dream is that Milky Holmes never regain their Toys and continue fumbling in every mission and earn themselves a name in the Guinness Book of Records for being the most unreliable detectives in history. Or else they can quit and try being an idol. And fumble all over again.