Once again, it is time for another Fate series. But this time we’re not going to go down that typical 7 mage Masters and their 7 summoned Servants fighting a battle royale. As we know, with the Fate universe and lore being so deep and huge, sometimes they have branched out to other genres even though it is non-canon. From slapstick comedy to even a cooking theme, now we have a detective theme, Lord El-Melloi II Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note. Hey, if Pikachu can do it, so can Fate! But this time it won’t be Shirou as the main guy playing detective but another wuss, Waver. Waver?! This weakling who was Iskandar’s Master in Fate/Zero is now the main character? Got to give some other characters some chance and love sometimes. This series takes place 10 years after the aftermath of Fate/Zero so you bet Waver isn’t going to look like some weak boyish wuss but a matured hardboiled teacher. Time really do change some people. A lot.

Episode 0
Lord El-Melloi II FKA Waver gives a lecture about mirrors and how it doesn’t reflect its image, the reason why some symbolize them as deities. Later he is praised by the other teaching staff for his work. We learn it has been 10 years since Waver fought in that Holy Grail War in which Kayneth perished. Waver then rebuild the modern magecraft theory and despite taking on Kayneth’s title, he is just merely a substitute until Reines El-Melloi Archisorte becomes of age to take over it. Waver returns to his room where his disciple waits, Gray. Waver is mad that staffs are trying to force him to take a stance in Clock Tower since it is all about power struggle. Because he nonchalantly curses them (though he doesn’t mean it), subsequently he experiences a few mishaps. Even more compounded when Gray’s stray cat keeps annoying him. One day while out in town, they spot the stray cat dying on the streets. Somebody ran over it. Waver despite never liking the cat, still takes it back to nurse it. Unfortunately it passed on and he buries it while lamenting he never had the necessary powers nor was he there on time when needed. Gray dismisses this and has always believed he was there for her. Gray then hears a cat purrs. They realize a cat’s shadow has been embedded onto Waver’s shadow. Calling his other students for help, Flat Escardos and Svin Glascheit, they detect the source of the curse to be the car that run over the cat. It seems the car owner has also latched the curse not only onto the cat but Waver too. This means he will suffer the same fate as the cat. But the culprit miscalculated because he didn’t know about Gray’s ties to the realm of death and had she not noticed it, Waver’s wounds would have been more severe. It would be easy to just counter this basic curse but doing so, Waver will never know the perpetrator. So they chase this guy down and manage to capture him. Waver laments that the real mastermind behind this will never be known because as Reines interrogated him, that guy never met his client and had his memories altered. He believes somebody is trying to kill him just because of his title. Again, Waver laments about the misconception of being saved. It’s all just in the mind. Again, Gray dismisses it because she is grateful he saved her. It is definitely the same for the cat. After coming to terms that fighting alongside Rider (Iskandar) was easy, Waver is resolved to fight his own battles from now on.

Episode 1
7 years ago, Reines interrogated Waver to force him to reveal why he borrowed loads of money to buy Kayneth’s class. After that Holy Grail War ended, Waver headed to Babylon, the city where Gilgamesh ruled and Iskandar died. However he was captured by a Clock Tower dropout, Barzan and put in some cell. In the same cell is his old friend, Melvin Weins. In short, he was scammed and locked up too. It seems Waver borrowed money from Melvin to go to Japan in exchange for some great story. I guess that Holy Grail War wasn’t it. But it was at that time Waver discovered how Kayneth died brutally. After they bust out, they stumble into Barzan and his team forcing other tricked people to dig for Iskandar’s tomb. Waver decides to level this place. He distracts Barzan by mocking the third rate magician he is while Melvin casts some spell to destroy the balance and let the evil spirits do the rest of the dirty job. The duo then fled and left Barzan in despair. Waver although is still heavily indebted to Melvin, still wants to borrow more money to buy Kayneth’s class. He feels responsible for his death and wants to take responsibility. Though, he has no collateral or guarantee to pay it back. Melvin is amused by his words. Of course he will lend him. In exchange, be his friend! Uh oh… And the rest is history. Still, Reines wonders why he is really doing it for since he is barely keeping the class afloat for 3 years. Despite not being a favourite student of Kayneth, he learnt a lot from his class and he doesn’t want to deny the opportunity to study to other students who used to be like him. Reines is amused with his serious answer and even more so he begs to spare his life. That’s because there is something he needs to do in the name of that king. Reines didn’t bat an eyelid to take advantage of his unfavourable position. First, she wants him to take on the debt by the El-Melloi faction. Next, try something to fully restore the magic crest of Kayneth that was almost destroyed in the Holy Grail War (it is said it will take 3 generations to fully restore but by that time the family will be in ruins). Lastly, be Reines’ stand in as Kayneth’s successor. As she is deemed too young to be taken seriously by Clock Tower, she will have Waver warm the seat and do things on her behalf until she comes of age. Waver is shocked at this large request but will accept it with the condition ‘II’ is added to the title. He might not like Kayneth as a person but he still respects him as a mage. After all, there is someone very important he is chasing after. Now in current time, Reines and Melvin visit Waver with a job that could help repay some of the debt.

Episode 2
Mary Lil Fargo was Waver’s student. Her family is a branch of the Animusphere family. Recently her father, Ernest suddenly died and his body dismembered. Many mages have thrown in the towel to solve this case so Reines believes Waver is fit for the job because he is poor and if he solves this, it will help reduce his debt. Waver and Gray head down to the mansion and meet the people who are there during the night of Ernest’s death. They are Mary, Alec (Ernest’s nephew), Fernando Li (Ernest’s friend and fellow researcher) and Claire (maid). He also investigates the site of the murder where Ernest’s dismembered bodies are scattered throughout the central hall. Some talk about astrology and how the 7 planets represent the 7 body parts. Waver believes everyone is a suspect. Alec owes Ernest money. Fernando is interested in his research. Mary would inherit both wealth and research. Claire was physically abused by the master. Lacking evidence, he goes to talk to Mary for more information and it seems Ernest is trying to do research on eternity. Because it is a mage’s dream to reach the Root, a human’s life is too short and that is why mages entrust it in their magic crest and pass it down their generations. As Waver continues to piece the puzzle together, Alec has been found murdered. Then Waver has everyone gathered in the hall as he explains his findings. From what I understand, Ernest is trying to become an immortal himself so that he could reach the Root. Therefore his dismembered body parts corresponding with the 7 planets is part of his plan in turning this mansion into a workshop designed to give himself eternal existence. Waver finds a hidden spot and summons out Ernest’s ghost. Ernest thinks this isn’t enough yet and wants Mary’s life. Waver leaves it to Gray to settle this. Using her familiar, Add, they transform into some grim reaper and destroy the ghost. In the aftermath, Waver talks to Mary. He believes she knew what Ernest was doing all along and that this experiment was doomed to fail since it was unstable and a deviation from the family’s traditional practice. Why did she not stop him? If Ernest achieved immortality, her situation would never have changed. She would have been kept in this cage for the rest of her life. And hence this was to prove that nothing is eternal. Ah yes, the lesson of how everything changes and people are no exception.

Episode 3
Waver is investigating an electrical malfunction at his favourite tea shop. While it might look like rodents have chewed the circuits, the staffs did call for pest control. However one of them went missing and the other was cowering in fear, claiming he witnessed something horrifying. As Waver treks deeper into the sewers to follow the monster footprint, he realizes a mage might be conducting a workshop underneath and that the monster is feeding on electricity to become bigger. And then… Waver gets attacked by a bunny monster! Gray then calls Flat. She is worried that Waver has not returned since his investigation. Don’t worry. Flat will get to it. Svin is jealous that Gray called him. Well, there is an obvious reason why she didn’t call you. You don’t have a handphone, right?! The trio head down the sewers and find an injured Waver. He managed to stave off the creature for now. Svin takes Waver back out while Flat and Gray investigate further. The duo stumble upon a skeletal corpse believed to be of the pest control. There are other skeletons too. This must be a feeding ground. A monster attacks but they are able to trap and destroy it. Finally they reach the workshop of Gueldoa Davenant. He doesn’t think he has killed innocent people because their lives are to serve his cause for him to reach the Root. When he has his bunny army surround them, cue for Waver and Svin to make their grand entrance. Waver then explains the source of his magic and deducing his goal from it all. Not that I really understand. This shocks Gueldoa a lot because he never thought he would know this much. Eventually, Waver points out that it is because of modern times and they are living in the age of information, thanks to the internet and news, he was able to put together the pieces easily like the surge in electric power and recent missing people. Above all, he has wrote in to some zoology magecraft department to strip Gueldoa of his position and they agree it. Gueldoa is in despair and gives up. After he is arrested, Waver reveals that half of his explanations were bluffs and they would have been done for had Gueldoa decided to act with force. Later Reines sees Waver as she has Luvia to inform him on her investigations regarding the Holy Grail War: Two positions for Association participants have now closed.

Episode 4
Wills Pelham Codrington, son of the recently departed Trevor seeks Waver’s help. Trevor was known as the greatest necromancer as he converted a wasteland into a workshop. However the workshop went berserk and many in the family died via lightning strike. The last was of course Trevor himself. If this incidents continue, the workshop will be taken by the main Codrington family. The rest he will tell when they arrive at the mansion. Upon arrival, Wills is arrested by Hishiri Adashino from Policies. It seems Waletta of the main family who is sent here to ascertain Trevor’s death, tried to summon Trevor’s spirit residual but there is no trace of that left. She accuses Wills of erasing all evidence and so happen that Wills has been present at all other deaths too. Wills says it is a misunderstanding. He did try to summon Trevor but failed. Waver believes it is all circumstantial evidence and since a lightning storm is locking them in, he will investigate and present his findings with evidence. Waletta is against this because modern magecraft has nothing to do with spirit evocation. But as Reines points out, it is the spirit evocation department that requested them to handle this case. Later Wills sees Waver who wants to know the other thing he wants to talk about. After sprinkling some magic dust, Waver is able to see a fairy. Wills claims he was born with that ability and everything a fairy appears, somebody dies. He knows it is some sort of warning but wants to know what is the fairy warning him against. Reines and Gray stumble into a secret underground passage. As they trek deeper, the power starts to affect Reines’ Mystic Eyes greatly. However guardian spirits start attacking thinking they are grave robbers but luckily Shishigou is here to save them and get them out. Reuniting with the rest, Shishigou explains he was taking the underground graveyard so as to avoid the storm above. He is a close friend of Trevor and came to express his condolences. Later Waver thinks he found the connection between lightning, Mystic Eyes and graveyard and goes to do some research to confirm something. Late that night, Gray comes knocking on Waver’s room. What’s the emergency? Waletta has been struck by lightning!

Episode 5
Wills is unable to summon anything from Waletta. Hence Adashino still suspects him and cordons him in his room. Waver will continue to investigate but needs Shishigou’s help to see this through. As Shishigou and Gray gather some research materials, they are being attacked by a Black Dog, supposedly evil spirits or fairies. To Shishigou’s surprise, Gray despatches it with her scythe. Reporting this to the rest, Shishigou wants to know about Gray’s Mystic Code. Waver reveals the scythe is just a disguise and its true form is a spear of King Arthur, Rhongomyniad. Waver then has everyone gathered to conduct a ritual that summons the fairy. Now she can talk because thanks to some combination of powers between Wills’ Fairy Eyes and Reines’ Mystic Eyes. Waver reveals the perpetrator is Trevor and this entire workshop is actually a weapon. Thus the lightning strikes weren’t accidents but premeditative murders. The workshop summons a Black Dog to kill humans in which they will be turned into another Black Dog. It is Trevor’s wish to control artificial fairies to serve under him. But why was Trevor murdered? The fairy admits she killed him because she heard how he was using them for his nefarious ends. But that did not stop the ritual and that’s why she sought help. And something about Wills in love with the fairy?! The place is then under attack by Black Dogs. Apparently Waver realizes too late that his ritual has an effect on Adashino’s barrier and opened up a gate to the other world. They go destroy the ravaging Black Dogs but since they are too many, Waver requests Gray to use her Rhongomyniad. Despite defeating the big mother, the gate is still open. Is it too late? Not that Wills can do something about it. But Waver doesn’t want him to sacrifice himself by going to the other side. Unfortunately, Wills being in love with the fairy claims he isn’t going to die but just join Trevor, Waletta and the rest on the other side. Thanks for uncovering this mystery. In the aftermath as everyone leaves, Adashino shows the results of her investigation. It seems Trevor created Wills’ eyes to be the foundation of this workshop. It is thought that one is born with Mystic Eyes but Waver remembers Rail Zeppelin, a phantom train that buys and sells such eyes. Adashino hands him a copy of Rail Zeppelin’s materials and Waver is not so pleased that this is Policies’ aim in the first place.

Episode 6
Gray notices Waver sometimes in distress so she goes to ask Reines what happened during his participation in the Holy Grail War. But first, Gray must accompany her shopping. At Carnac, it’s like Gray has become her dress up doll. Having fun? They stumble into Luvia. Apparently she is the new owner of Carnac and has done quite an extensive and lavish redecoration. Luvia offers to give them a tour of the place. Basically a high class girls hanging out, huh? During that time, Reines tells about that Holy Grail War and also Iskandar who had a tremendous effect on Waver’s life. Suddenly it’s like the trio are transported to another dimension. They’re still inside the store but nobody else is around. It seems they are trapped and their current magecraft cannot get them out. So as they ponder who would be targeting them, it eventually dawned to them that there might be no perpetrator and this might just be an accident. Because so far there is no moves from the perpetrator and it would be suicidal to target them together in the same place. Because of the extensive and lavish redecorations, that could be the trigger and it created an excessive reaction. They head down to the basement whereby there is a statue that Luvia has placed some magic on. This is to spur customers’ impulse to buy. It is an expensive lesson for her to learn from this as she prepares to destroy it. However, security bots pop up. As this is her store, Luvia will take care of this. Pro wrestling moves?! So much about the perfect security system. Is Luvia enjoying herself? After destroying the statue, they return to normal time. On the way back, Reines deduces that the trio are seen as valuable treasures so when they were leaving, this security barrier activated. Gray doesn’t have high self-esteem so she doesn’t see why but Reines points out that she holds the most important Noble Phantasm ever. When Gray returns to Waver, he looks even more distress. It seems the mantle of Iskandar he keeps in a box is stolen. In place is a note inviting him to a banquet. It is from Rail Zeppelin. He hopes Gray can come with him.

Episode 7
As Rail Zeppelin was created by some super vampire group, the guests are all going to be supernatural. Waver is accompanied by Gray and Caules as he recognizes some of the familiar faces like Adashino, Fernando and Yvette L. Lehrman (one of his students). Also on board is Olga Marie Arsimilat Animusphere, the daughter of the Astromancy Lord. She quickly warns him not to get in her way of the auction. Everyone is startled with the presence of Karabo Frampton as he is from the Holy Church. But calm down. He is here to participate in the auction too. Meanwhile Reines calls Shishigou and tells him about the stolen Iskandar mantle. She wants him to investigate and has Luvia as his assistant. She can’t use magecraft to solve this as she suspects an inside job. Waver tries to find who sent him the invitation but to no avail. Instead, he receives a letter of him snooping around believed to be from that thief and wants him to meet at some place. Olga then talks to Waver. He is willing to listen since it concerns about the next Holy Grail War. As there will be a very high class Rainbow Mystic Eyes on auction, she wants to get her hands on it. So if somebody else outbids her, she wants him to outbid that person. Even though he is broke? Because of his status as Lord, nobody would dare challenge him. She promises to reward him handsomely. She has her assistant, Trisha Fellows demonstrate her Mystic Eyes whose properties is premonition. Gray is suffering from motion sickness so Karabo gives her an apple to help with the nausea. The moment he touches her hand, he sees her past and realizes she isn’t a Mage. Trisha talks to Waver and has researched about his participation in the previous Holy Grail War. Because it was a life changing event for him, she cautions him about getting the Rainbow Mystic Eyes. To have Mystic Eyes is to accept and be bound by them. So please consider if he ever wishes to buy one. With Gray still fumbling to give her gift to Waver, and that guy still reminiscing to meet Iskandar even if there is a chance he might not remember him, suddenly they hear Olga’s scream. Trisha has been decapitated!!!

Episode 8
Olga blames Karabo and tries to attack him but is knocked out. Karabo conducts autopsy but couldn’t see much. Waver also conducts his autopsy and suspects Karabo is only here because he wants to sell his Mystic Eyes. Karabo admits that but even his Mystic Eyes wasn’t able to tell him the perpetrator. Oddly, Trisha would have taken action had she saw this coming. This means the killer is one who is invisible from time, past and present. Olga continues to show her displeasure, thinking this is Waver’s plan to make her family owe him one. Calm down, girl. You think everybody is out to get you? Later Waver confronts Adashino and suspects her motives on Rail Zeppelin. He cannot think of a reason for her to be here. Adashino tells him the sponsor for Gueldoa and Codrington are the same person but stops short in saying if that person is involved in Rail Zeppelin. Waver and Gray go meet the person who wrote that letter. Woah. Who this hot warrior chick? She isn’t the one who stole Iskandar’s mantle but the vassal of that thief. Anyway, she seems disappointed to see the kind of person Waver is and is going to kill him. Waver can tell she is a Servant. Gray protects him only to be hypnotized but luckily is cleansed by her scythe. Waver is shocked when she reveals herself to be Hephaestion, Iskandar’s confidante. She unleashes an attack to kill them but Waver cuts part of his hair to stem the flow of her thunder. Waver laments never knowing such a person who served under Iskandar before passing out. Turns out he has some burns on his body. Caules does what he can to heal him. Olga stops being a b*tch for once as she hands over some druid elixir to hasten his recovery. I guess they’re even now? Reines calls Luvia to tell him about Waver being injured but is interrupted when Melvin barges in. He is dismayed she never told him about Waver being invited on Rail Zeppelin. But no matter because Melvin is going to join Waver. He has used the financial powers of his family to get himself an invitation.

Episode 9
Olga learns about Hephaestion but finds it odd that a Servant is able to materialize and maintain her memories outside the Holy Grail War. Flashback on Waver’s lesson regarding some invocation theoretically makes it possible. Whatever. Olga also deduces that Waver isn’t here to buy Mystic Eyes but to find the thief who stole Iskandar’s mantle. Somebody forces the train to change tracks and now it has entered the forest known as Child of Einnashe where dead apostles reside. After coming to a full stop, several mages try to burn a path for the tracks but were promptly killed by the forest. Olga decides to hole herself up in her room until this situation is resolved. She reminds Gray that she isn’t her ally and will figure out Trisha’s murder herself. Shishigou meets up with his old friend, Jean Mario Supinerra who is now a celebrity chef. Trisha’s decapitation is similar to that headless corpses case in London. Clock Tower and the Holy Church limited any broadcast of it and confiscated what little that was broadcasted. He heard that there was a girl who wanted to hear about it. That girl is Trisha. Gray thought there is a zombie outside her window but it turns out to be Melvin! The forest attacked his helicopter but he miraculously survived. He wants to know who hurt Waver but looks like Karabo and Yvette have come to seek their help to move the train or otherwise risk the auction being cancelled. They have asked others for help but they refused and barricaded themselves in their rooms. While Yvette detects the leylines, Karabo will use his swords as markers and activate the tracks. Gray is supposed to come with them but she has to attend to some other more important business. Facing off with Hephaestion, that is. Olga finds a weird dimensional spell in her room. Activating it, the head of Trisha drops out! Karabo’s side has marked enough trees and head back to the train. But no sign of Gray. She’s going to take down Hephaestion right now because if she lets her escape, she might return to hurt Waver.

Episode 10
Gray is saved by Hephaestion? What the heck is this about warriors should be dying on the battlefield? I don’t get it. Anyway, Hephaestion views them as same but when Gray questions her about reprimanding Iskandar through her actions, Hephaestion forcefully makes her reveal what she saw in her dreams. Luvia and Shishigou now talk to Mary who is Trisha’s old friend. She claims Olga was abandoned by her father who was then obsessed in researching about the Holy Grail War. This also made Trisha research into this so as to find out why he abandoned his daughter and if this had any relation to the serial murder case 7 years ago. It is also noted that a man without a heart as he was named was also doing that research based on Olga’s father’s request. With that, Luvia has an idea who that person is. He has a step sister who is on board Rail Zeppelin now. Gray slides on Add back onto Rail Zeppelin as it leaves the forest. Adashino has gathered everyone to listen to her deduction. So she’s taking over Waver’s role? She admits the method used in Trisha’s murder is the same as that serial killer incident. From what I understand, Trisha was decapitated in a different place. Calling Olga as the witness, she shows everyone Trisha’s head. Because Trisha saw that she would be decapitated she opened some dimensional pocket to let her head fall into it when that happens. Hence her head is still alive when it dropped out. The last word she uttered was “Karabo”. I don’t really get this part as Adashino deduces Karabo sliced the air and since the train is travelling in a predetermined path, it made it easier for Trisha to be decapitated when she reached that point. Before Karabo can be accused as the perpetrator, Waver returns to call Adashino’s deduction just as delusions because she failed to establish a motive for the crime. At the same time, the deputy of Rail Zeppelin pops up to take Karabo’s Mystic Eyes as already informed. This has Waver think that Adashino planned this out in good timing so that Rail Zeppelin could back up her deductions. Later Waver asks Karabo if he was that serial killer. He cannot remember and it might be due to the effects of the Mystic Eyes forcing him to see what he does not want to see. If only he had his Mystic Eyes now, the truth can be revealed. Sure, they can buy it back at this auction but does Waver have that crazy amount of money? Don’t worry. What are (filthy rich) best friends like Melvin for?

Episode 11
Waver finds it odd that despite Hephaestion claiming herself to be Iskandar’s aide, he has not seen her once in his Noble Phantasm. Waver then goes to ask Olga for help and she gets emotional about I don’t know what but she hates them all. After Waver tells his own story, I guess it’s best just to cooperate. And something about Olga talking about everything to her seems fake like as though it is an afterimage. Shishigou pulls Flat and Svin from their special classes so they can conduct some new mission. Waver calls Luvia to note his suspicion on Olga’s father who seems to know about the Holy Grail War because that is a very tightly kept secret that only a few mages would know. It is no doubt that somebody made him move and got Trisha killed when she was investigating it. Waver takes a look at the leylines of the world and now he suddenly realizes everything. Something to do with Hephaestion being a woman or not inside Iskandar’s Noble Phantasm. But rather something is claiming to be Hephaestion. The auction begins and the attraction is the Jewel class Mystic Eyes. It’s like everybody against Adashino since each time somebody bids higher, she outbids them. So much so Melvin has to call a break because he is worried if Waver have that much money. After pulling some strings, I guess Waver has got a few additional funds to keep bidding should the price go higher. The auction resumes. High enough that Adashino backs down. However Waver finds himself with intense competition with Yvette. By the time Yvette bids 500 million, Waver uses this chance to explain about Trisha’s death since a second break isn’t technically allowed. He draws a conclusion that Trisha and the murders 7 years ago all have missing heads. Bringing in Trisha’s head into the room, from what I understand, it is the same perpetrator and that person decapitates the head so as to gain control over the Mystic Eyes. Showing some little Buddha statue that Olga showed him that was with Trisha’s head in the other dimension, this is used to block and interfere with Karabo’s vision. Adashino knew about this, that’s why she hid this important evidence. Trisha saw she would meet Karabo so she boarded this train to get answers from him regarding that serial murder. But she didn’t see this coming and lost her life. The same culprit who manipulated Karabo and the one responsible for the serial murders, only 1 person can do that. Suddenly Caules is bound.

Episode 12
Is Caules the culprit? Actually this person is impersonating him and the real one shows up with Reines. Thanks to Luvia, Flat and Svin combining their effort to spring launch them into Rail Zeppelin. It’s the only way to get there without an invitation. Huh? Waver knew this Caules is fake because his healing was perfect. The impersonator reveals himself to be the previous head of modern magecraft, Dr Heartless. With a name like that, it’s no surprise you can tell he is that man who got his heart stolen by fairies. Heartless also funded Yvette and had her cooperate with him. That is why Waver also had Adashino cooperated with him. The rest of Waver’s deduction I don’t really don’t understand but from what I can pick up, it seems Heartless can create his own Holy Grail. Or at least a variant of it. Thus killing Trisha and obtaining her Mystic Eyes was just an addendum to seek the Holy Grail War. Due to the leyline distortion when Rail Zeppelin clashed with Child of Einnashe, this allows him to summon a Heroic Spirit. This might not be enough to summon a Holy Grail War because the leyline must be in contact with Japan or something so Heartless needed something else like a Master of a previous Holy Grail War like Waver. Heartless then summons Hephaestion to attack Adashino before she can restrain him. Waver deduces that since the Holy Grail is fake, Master is fake and Command Spells are fake, it could only mean that Hephaestion is a fake Heroic Spirit. Something that Heartless calls this class as Faker. That’s why Hephaestion introduced her name instead of her class then. As for her different appearance and why she wasn’t in Iskandar’s Noble Phantasm, she is more like a shadow double for Iskandar. Hephaestion is like the residual image of the king, a magic double who protected the king by fabricating his appearance and existence.

Heartless and Hephaestion flee seeing they don’t want to risk fighting and destroy all the Mystic Eyes. Yvette won’t go along since she’d rather serve her punishment rather than living life as a fugitive. Waver and Gray aren’t done yet. Confronting them on top of the train, Heartless gives back the stolen mantle. Heartless orders a retreat but Waver’s deduction further provokes Hephaestion as she wants to kill him. Waver deduces about Hephaestion not being in Iskandar’s army is because she hates his army. Something about she is some dead twin and wasn’t given a name. When Iskandar wanted to give her a name, she refused. While Gray fights Hephaestion, Heartless summons Child of Einnashe to grind Rail Zeppelin to a halt. Karabo joins in to fight Hephaestion. He has gotten his eyes back since the auction is annulled. Olga and the other mages cast their spells to rain some magic meteorite to burn the forest. The conductor loads in a pair of Mystic Eyes to turn Rail Zeppelin into some mean cannon and blasts the core of Child of Einnashe. Hephaestion uses her Mystic Eyes to freeze Karabo and Gray. After disposing Karabo, she is going to do the same to Gray but Waver was waiting for this perfect timing as he drops that Buddha statue, enough time for Gray to land a fatal slash. In this final combat, Hephaestion rides her chariot to charge at her. Gray then unleashes all limits to fire Rhongomyniad at her. I guess (fake) Iskandar’s chariot isn’t as great as King Arthur’s spear. Vaporized!

Episode 13
Waver and Gray are recuperating fine. Waver could’ve healed faster had not Flat, Svin and Yvette bug him all the time. I suppose this finale is meant to tie up some loose ends but as usual, I don’t understand most of them. For those that I do, probably it isn’t that important. Like when Waver meets and talks to Adashino, all I understand is that Heartless is Adashino’s brother-in-law as they come from the same orphanage in Norwich. Melvin talks to Gray and tells her he is in possession of Waver’s magic crest. Because Waver shouldered the debts, it is only right for Melvin to be his tuner. Also, Melvin continues to call Waver by his name instead of his title because he might be lonely. It’s not like he is going to be a Lord forever, right? This makes Gray realize that this won’t last forever. A promotion ceremony is held for Svin as he has achieved a high ranking rank of Pride. Then we have a lengthy talk between Waver and Gray. Ultimately, Waver announces he will not partake in the next Holy Grail War. It might settle things personally for him but not for Iskandar. Hence his battlefield is not over there as his mission is now to uncover Heartless’ ploy using Faker. After Gray manages to give her gift to him, Waver hopes she can continue to fight alongside him. Her answer isn’t surprising. As Waver sleeps, Gray has this thought of stealing a kiss and would have done so had Add not teased her. Waver dreams a transient dream of meeting Iskandar. He believes he can’t stand beside him yet because must achieve all the pain and glory in real life as Lord El-Melloi II. Iskandar has only one thing to ask of him: Did he have fun during his journey? Yes. It was fun trying to follow his legacy.

Ghost Files: Spiritual Evocation Detective
Like they say it isn’t the destination but a journey. It might be over for this spinoff but not merely so for Waver by a long shot. Hence it is still a long and winding road ahead for Waver as long as he holds on to his Lord title. In a bid to somewhat become acknowledged as Iskandar’s equal, boy, he sure has gotten through a lot of sh*t. Knowing the kind of guy Iskandar is, whether Waver succeeds or fails to achieve it, he will surely accept him for who he is. So it’s mostly about Waver battling his own inner ghost, huh? Oh well, nothing is more a worse enemy than yourself.

As you would have expected from me, I am not really a fan of the Fate series and after watching so many of its spinoffs and alternate stories, there is still much that I do not understand about the lore nor do I ever felt that interest to go read up on more of it. This means that I am scratching most of my head as I watch Waver crack one case and another. I will not say that the cases are extremely complicated and it feels like they are just basic and simple. Because I am sure they don’t want to turn away viewers who aren’t very familiar with the supernatural terms by coming up with very complex and convoluted script. Hence when Waver explains his deductions, it feels as though he is reading it out of the script because he seems to be so damn observant and he can grasp everything and then explain to us once he has all the evidence and pieces of the puzzles put together nicely. That is why the format is not mostly a whodunit but rather a whydunit. Also, because I am not very accustomed with supernatural terms, hence many of Waver’s deductions come off as hogwash to me. I’m like, “What?! Don’t understand. Whatever”. It’s sad but yeah, that is how I mostly feel while watching all the episodes here.

Hence the storyline and plot isn’t anything much except about Waver and his assistant Gray going about solving supernatural cases. That’s about it. The first half gives us a taste of what this series is going to play out so that we can expect more or less something of this manner for the second half, which of course in itself is the main arc for this series. However I am left to ponder if I was somewhat deceived by the initial summary that was partly my reason to pick up this series. You see, earlier on there was this synopsis written that Waver received some inheritance note and is forced to participate in a battle of wits that includes other characters such as Luvia. Strangely, I was waiting for this to happen. After a few episodes in and I still didn’t see this part coming in, so I was thinking maybe they will reserve this for the final arc. And then Rail Zeppelin happened. No inheritance war whatsoever. So as I am at the penultimate episode, I decided to check online again if what I read was true. Oh damn, the synopsis is entirely different now! Just a general synopsis of Waver and Gray taking on cases assigned by Reines. Did I remember it wrongly? Were my eyes deceiving me? Was there some magic magecraft foul play involved? Well to be fair, when the anime first aired, nobody knew if the anime adaptation will follow the novel in which that inheritance battle synopsis came from. So I guess it didn’t turn out that way, huh? So much for me wanting to see Waver go on head to head with Luvia. Instead they somewhat cooperated here.

Watching this series feels a bit refreshing than all the other main Fate series that I’ve watched. In the sense that this is heavy on the dialogue and there is not much battle scenes. I suppose when you don’t have Fate in your title, you can expect the genre to also somewhat deviate and not be of the action fantasy adventure kind. Yes, there are some fight scenes here but they are short and lack the oomph that is much more prevalent in the Fate series. After all, like I’ve said, this series isn’t an action battle to begin with. Even with the short action scenes, they are just to partly accommodate the flow of the story. For instance that action scene of Black Dogs attacking our characters. That was just pretty average if you ask me. Same case when Gray battled Hephaestion. They put in lots of flashy and powerful effects but it’s nowhere near the level of action if you have seen other Fate series. WTF Gray’s activation by releasing her levels of restrictions, is this some sort of transformation scene?

On to the characters themselves, I suppose the biggest change has got to be Waver because he really looks like a different person altogether than the one we know since his debut in Fate/Zero. In his bid to chase after the hero he greatly admires, this inspires him to take on a thorny path with lots of difficulties. Adding to the burden and debt, now he has to take on the title of Lord El-Melloi II that comes with its benefits and (but mostly) risks. Just to warm up the seat until Reines comes of age. Waver being a hard-bitten magecraft teacher in a way looks a lot cooler than his youthful version. It’s not everybody’s cup of tea to have a main character who looks sullen and sounds gloomy but I think it works very much for Waver especially in the line of work that he is doing. Can you imagine if this guy is as lively as Melvin? Yeah, I think I will find it hard to take him seriously too. Though, sometimes you can see him put on a grimace because the frustration and annoyance is too great for even him to stay cool. So Waver, continue being this Waver. A lot of him has changed since but some things don’t like his obsession to chase after Iskandar’s shadow. I can understand why. Because I too felt that he was the best Heroic Spirit then and it’s a shame he didn’t win the Holy Grail War.

Isn’t it strange for a Fate series to note have a Saber character even if this Saber class is not the main character? Ah well, I guess this is what Gray is. She is like some sort of Saber in disguise, no? At least that is what I can gather from I have seen here. Unfortunately this adaptation doesn’t do well in delving a lot about Gray and her past or what she is supposed to be. Because of that, sometimes I find her annoying because she puts on this grim exterior and has this worried look on her face that screams if she could be of any use to her lord. She follows him around because she is grateful for saving him. That’s it. That’s all we know about the relationship between them. Want to know more, go read the sources. This series doesn’t have enough episodes to delve deeply into that. Yeah… I know there is more than meets the eye especially with that little familiar Add who seems to run his mouth with mockery whenever he gets a chance. But for now, Gray looks like a hesitant assistant who is filled with uncertainty and doubt that her only salvation is when Waver somewhat acknowledges her or something of that sort.

As for the other characters, I guess I can say that they are still not fleshed out properly either (what to do with only over a dozen episodes?). I believe they want to put the focus more on Waver doing his detective work and that’s the reason why these other characters fall wayward to the side. Like Reines I believe she is supposed to be an important character because in the future she will take on an important seat and title. But in this case as far as I can see, she’s like some snobbish brat who likes to get on Waver’s goat sometimes. It’s like she gets her kicks in seeing her ‘big brother’ filled with anxiety and frustration. Hey, he is the one who is bearing all the responsibility, right? After all, if he can’t shoulder all this, he is not worthy to shoulder that title in the first place. Yeah, Reines’ bad personality will be the least of his worries. I don’t believe Reines is actually a bad person and is quite capable herself. Just that there was no chance to see her flex her talents. Otherwise she wouldn’t have let Waver temporarily take her future seat in the first place.

I don’t think Flat and Svin would be important supporting characters but they feel so irrelevant and it’s like as though when the plot commands it, they are just pulled in to get what’s going. So having Svin getting promoted doesn’t really serve any purpose except to tell us for a fact that Waver’s lessons have not been all for naught because there is somebody who have surpassed him. Like Waver himself noted, a huge burden has been lifted off his shoulders. And what’s with it with Svin’s fascination with Gray again? Sorry, no love triangle and romcom whatsoever happening here. Then there is Melvin who looks like he is some sort of comic relief character. But don’t laugh too much because this guy looks like he has got pockets so deep that it makes the Black Hole look like a baby! Being so filthy rich is meaningless unless you can seek some sort of thrill. That’s why he is such ‘great’ friends with Waver. The only source of entertainment who never fails to live up to his standards. Just name your price and you can have it. Just in exchange bring him your greatest story. Then there is Adashino from Policies who is a big mystery herself. This snake woman makes it hard to tell if she is friend or foe due to the way she acts and talks but from what I can tell I’m glad she is at least on Waver’s side for now. Though, she still likes to get on his nerves probably just to see him winch.

One thing that is still awesome for this series is its visuals. Yes, it is very high quality that is on par with Fate/Zero. I thought it was Ufotable helming this series but I was wrong. It was Troyca who did Re: Creators, Aldnoah.Zero, Yaate Kimi Ni Naru and Sakurako-san No Ashimoto Ni W Shitai Ga Umatteiru, animated this series. The backgrounds, sceneries, hues, characters and effects are nicely well done to say the least. They’re quite nice to look at as distraction if the plot is too confusing for you to follow. I know. I’m guilty of that sometimes. Some characters do look weird like Gueldoa looks like some scrawny guy who has been fasting for months and some of the mages on Rail Zeppelin really have weird heads. Was that an elephant head or toad head that I saw? Luckily not important characters so don’t really care. And of course Gray having that striking resemblance to Saber only looking a little different because she covers her head with a hood so you can’t obviously tell. Because I’m so used to how Luvia looks in Fate/Kaleid spinoff, looking at her here looks a bit odd. She is more refined compared to that dumb cute chibi look. Why does Add remind me of an even meaner version of Mario’s Thwomp? Is Yvette and spunky and livelier version of Fukumenkei Noise’s Alice?

Also another winner for me are the opening and ending themes. Starting The Case: Rail Zeppelin as the opener is one of those rare instrumental pieces. If it sounds all too familiar it is because it is written by the legendary Yuki Kajiura. And you can tell her trademark style of music permeating throughout the BGMs of this series. Sometimes I feel that they have this one kind sound because they mostly ‘sound the same’. Fortunately I didn’t get bored after all these years hearing her craft her trademark style into Mai-HiME, Tsubasa Chronicle, Sword Art Online and Princess Principal. The ending theme, Hibari by Asca is lovely as sad sounding as it is. This beautifully slow and sad melody is to my liking and somewhat fits the grim nature of this series.

Previous seiyuus are retained for recurring characters like Daisuke Namikawa as Waver, Shizuka Itou as Luvia, Minori Inase as Reines and Kenji Nomura as Shishigou. New ones include Reina Ueda as Gray (Akane in SSSS.Gridman), Yuko Minaguchi as Adashino (Yaone in Saiyuki series), Daisuke Hirakawa as Melvin (Makoto in School Days), Madoka Yonezawa as Olga (Ui in K-ON!), Eizou Tsuda as Karabo (Lay Dawn in Fairy Gone), Seiichirou Yamashita as Svin (Kakeru in Orange), Miho Okasaki as Yvette (Rimuru in Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken), You Taichi as Hephaestion (Anzu in Prison School), Kumiko Higa as Trisha (Ginta in MAR – the other Ginta, that is), Hisako Kanemoto as Mary (Erina in Shokugeki No Souma) and Tomoaki Maeno as Wills (Junichi Tachibana in Amagami SS). While I recognized Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Flat, Jun Fukuyama as Heartless and Youko Hikasa as the auction master, the one that surprises me most is Daisuke Ono as Add. You mean that’s really him?! Damn, I sure pigeonholed him as Sebastian type characters from Kuroshitsuji for a long time. Apparently this isn’t the only time he voices characters with strange voices. He did so too like Nendou in Saiki Kusuo No Psi-nan. Unrecognizable.

Overall, this series particularly blending in detective work isn’t for everyone even if it has great visuals and soundtrack. Especially for casual viewers who know nothing much about the Fate universe, jumping in without any sort of prior knowledge can be detrimental to one’s enjoyment. This might not be the best detective themed series (Detective Conan, Kindaichi Shounen No Jikenbo should be the titles you start with if you are so ever interested in getting into this genre) but it gives a new refreshing variety on the Fate series. Just like warm up before the next Fate adaptation. Speaking of which, Fate/Grand Order started airing after this one finishes. Oh well, back to the familiar territory of 7 Masters and their 7 Servants duking it out in a battle royale over the Holy Grail. While some things are solved via violence, others like in this case as Waver showed us can be solved with a little use of the grey matter. It’s a good thing this one only lasted for a single cour because any more of it I wouldn’t be care about whodunit, whydunit or howdunit. More like I’m-dun-with-it and what-the-I-dun-even…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gyakuten Saiban S2

June 15, 2019

Matta!!! Wait a minute!!! You mean after that cheesy and mediocre first season, nobody said “Igi ari!!!” for another season?! Nobody objected to it?! Maybe somebody did but objection was overruled. I guess not because Gyakuten Saiban S2 went on air in late 2018. I suppose the game that this series is based on is still popular as this second season adapts the third chapter of the game. Oh well. Time to find more contradictions and truths. And how cheesy and mediocre they go about it. Can’t argue with that. It’s the court of law we’re talking about.

Episode 1
Naruhodo is about to review his case for his trial when he is knocked out. When he wakes up, officer Mako Suzuki pins her hope on him to set her free. However, Naruhodo has lost his memories! In the courtroom, Mako is accused of killing a fellow officer who is also her boyfriend at the park. Yeah, the case must be coming as a shock to Naruhodo as he learns everything on the spot! Not bad for a guy who just had amnesia. With Itonokogiri giving his witness testimony, Naruhodo is guided by his instincts to cross-examine. Even if his brain doesn’t remember, his body does. So he notices the discrepancy in the evidence like how her boyfriend spelt out her name wrongly and using his right hand when he is a left hander. This would have set her free if not for the prosecution calling another witness, Moroheiya Takamasa. Hmm… Isn’t this guy the one who knocked out Naruhodo? He claims to have witnessed Mako killing her boyfriend. However it soon proves his sight is in doubt as he can’t see well without his glasses. Earlier on, he lost his handphone but Mako was the one who picked it up and agreed to wait and give him back so he must have misheard her name. Even if Takamasa’s glasses were found on site, what motive did he have to kill her boyfriend? Before Takamasa walks free, here comes Mayoi with evidence. A name list of conmen that Naruhodo told her to put together. Yeah, he can’t remember all that. Because Takamasa’s handphone contains info of other fellow conmen, when he saw Mako, he thought she called the cops (her boyfriend was still in uniform) and panicked. Takamasa claims his handphone is still with him and it is just coincidence it looks like the same model as Naruhodo’s. Just then, Naruhodo conveniently gets his memories back and remembers him knocking him out to take back his handphone. So he has Mayoi call his number and the handphone in Takamasa’s hand rings. With that Takamasa is found guilty and arrested while Mako is declared innocent. You know, Takamasa must be so dumb. He killed a cop but couldn’t do the same to a lawyer and at least give him some time to run and avoid this mess? Yeah, his own carelessness that’s what got his ass caught. Not Naruhodo’s skill. Oh Naruhodo, you’re the one who has all the luck, not Mako who claims herself as the goddess of luck.

Episode 2
A phantom thief named Kamen Mask has been stealing rare artefacts. One of them being the urn from Kurain Village which is being exhibit at a local exhibition. You bet Mayoi and Harumi want Naruhodo to turn detective and get this important urn back. At the exhibition, Kirio is working to manage the place. She reveals she did receive a calling card 10 days ago that a priceless exhibit will be stolen. She never thought it would be the urn because the appraiser appraised it at zero value! Then comes in the supposedly world famous ace detective, Aiga Hoshiidake whom Kirio also hired. He rants about being Kamen’s arch rival and even confronted him last night when he was here to steal the urn but let him get away to lure him into a false sense of victory. A call just come in. Kamen has turned himself in?! This guy, Yuusaku Amasugi is pathetic, weak and lame?! And what’s this? He claims he lost the urn?! WTF?! Plus, he has a wife, Mareka?! She claims her husband is a big fan of Kamen. Because of his timid nature, he looks up to such ‘heroes’. She knows he is being framed and hopes Naruhodo can defend him. This doesn’t sit well with the sisters as they claim they are the victims. They think Mareka is lying but Naruhodo believes she might not. So they go their separate ways to investigate. The sisters try to believe in Mareka and head to her house to investigate. Meanwhile Naruhodo visits Aiga’s office but he isn’t in. So why let himself in and despite knowing it is against the law to go through his belongings, he is going to do that???!!! But Aiga returns. Knowing Naruhodo will defend Yuusaku, he tells him he will also be taking the witness stand and put an end to Naruhodo whom he thinks is Kamen’s accomplice. Because you see, the prosecutor is a prosecutor whom Mitsurugi acknowledged as the best in the country, Godot.

Episode 3
Is Godot being disrespectful drinking coffee and even questioning the judge? Yeah, he claims he hasn’t lost a trial but this is his first trial! Technicalities. The trial begins with Yuusaku taking the stand and he wants to be proclaimed guilty! However Naruhodo is here to proof he isn’t Kamen. That is where Mayoi comes in to bring Yahari as a witness. He is working as a security guard and can proof that Yuusaku was also an ex-worker of the security firm, KB Security. Based from the access card, Yuusaku went to his previous employer’s building the night the urn was stolen due to a blackmail letter Mayoi found at his place. With the KB Security being 30 minutes away from his home, hence Yuusaku cannot be at the exhibit at that time. Even with Godot admitting that, now Naruhodo thinks the only person who can steal it is Aiga. He is called in as a witness as Naruhodo accuses him of being Kamen. Wait a minute. He did that without any evidence?! And he admits it too?! Thank goodness for Mareka bringing in the urn supposedly from Aiga’s office. However can she prove it was from there? Naruhodo believes he can. His own fingerprints are on it. Because Kirio cleaned the urn to make it look valuable, Naruhodo might not have looked inside the bag that contained the urn but he did touch it. Before the judge could ask the bailiff to dust for fingerprints, Aiga starts laughing like a madman. He also admits he is Kamen and doing this to find a worthy rival. I guess you can’t rival that sort of genius by creating one yourself. With Yuusaku declared innocent, however real sh*t is just about to begin. Because Godot comes in and claims the CEO of KB Security, Kurobei Busujima is murdered at the same time Yuusaku went there. Yuusaku is detained again on grounds of murder. Everyone is left in shock as Naruhodo could sense some sort of calm and deep hatred from Godot.

Episode 4
Although the urn is back, Mayoi noticed the writing on it has returned to its original position. Harumi will take it back to Kurain Village to ask her aunt. Then Kirio comes in to confess that she was the one who broke the urn. She tripped on some paint and tried to put it back afterwards. She moved a statue to cover the paint but on the day Naruhodo came to investigate, the statue was moved. The only person who could move it was Aiga but why did he did it? They head down to KB Security to investigate. Itonokogiri points out Busujima’s body was found in the safe. There is also a button on it that would send an emergency buzzer to the security room but that night no buzzer was heard. Apparently Busujima dabbled in some shady job of selling info too, probably why some want him dead. Heading to the security room that Yahari was supposed to be on duty, on that night he snuck out to go hit some chicks. Checking the log again, there was indeed a buzzer that went off on the night of the murder. Yahari is so getting fired… Next they visit Yuusaku to get his statement. He claims after getting the blackmail letter, he went there. I am surprised an ex-employee still has the access card. But upon entering the room, someone knocked him out and the next thing he knows, Busujima’s body is lying there. He hid it due to his panic and turned himself in hoping the theft incident would be his alibi. Yuusaku admits that all other Kamen incidents were his doing. However after his first job, somebody must have spotted him and continued to send him blackmail letters. Those letters also tell him his next raid and you could say the heists are all planned. After he deposits the heist, he waits for the money to be delivered. Yuusaku did all this for the money as Mareka loves to spend. With that kind of wage he earns, stealing is the better option. He once told her he is Kamen but she didn’t believe him. But definitely he didn’t kill Busujima. Next they talk to Mareka. They learn she fell in love with Yuusaku at first sight. She was working at the bank when a robbery happened. Weak Yuusaku who was a security guard somewhat (pathetically) saved her. With Harumi returning, Naruhodo seems to have pieced the puzzle together. But tomorrow’s trial is a battle of speed as Aiga is facing his own trial next door. He must drag Aiga here before his verdict is handed down.

Episode 5
Godot explains Yuusaku’s motives. In order to get money for his wife, he stole confidential data from KB Security. He was caught and fired by the CEO. Hence he murdered him. Yuusaku maintains he was knocked out upon entering the room. Everyone hears for the first time he was in Kamen’s disguise during that night. How could he forget such important detail? Naruhodo argues that only because Yuusaku/Kamen was out cold, he could not have heard the very loud buzzer. Because he would have run away instead of placing Busujima’s body in the safe. All to frame Yuusaku. Naruhodo believes the killer is Aiga. If he is accused and found guilty of theft, he cannot be charged with murder. The key is to drag him here before his verdict is passed. Aiga is summoned to this trial as Naruhodo shows the picture proof of Kamen stealing the urn that night. However this was taken a few nights before the incident. The picture shows the time but not the date. Furthermore, when Kirio moved the statue to cover the paint, Aiga panicked and moved it back so as to line up with his alibi. Even so, Naruhodo cannot prove he is at KB Security that night. Oh my. Is Aiga going to walk free and be charged with a lesser crime? I guess Naruhodo must be praying hard for a miracle. That miracle is Chihiro! Time for his ghostly mentor to motivate him to think harder. She hints Aiga said too much that proved his downfall. Because Aiga praised Yuusaku as Kamen’s biggest fan and even went to meet him on that night, Naruhodo points out that nobody knew Yuusaku was in Kamen’s outfit until today. Aiga praises this brilliant deduction and as a reward, we now need to know the whole story. I don’t know why Aiga was hiding in the dumpster when Yuusaku did his first gig as Kamen because Yuusaku went to the back alley to toss away his outfit. Aiga then devised a brilliant plan to blackmail him. Part of his bigger plan for an ace detective to fight a phantom thief and captivate the world. One night he got a bit careless and stole a ring from Busujiuma. The CEO discovered it and blackmailed him. Hence Aiga decided to use Yuusaku and frame him with Busuhjima’s blackmail letter. Once Aiga is done bragging, it’s the slammers of despair for him. With Yuusaku not guilty, he might be a free man but laments he has lost everything. Don’t worry. Mareka forgives him. She finds him brave for admitting to his crimes unlike that detective who was a coward and being sneaky. All’s well, ends well. Until Harumi thought Naruhodo was trying to flirt with Mareka. Loli power knocks out a lawyer!

Episode 6
Naruhodo and Mayoi are trying to do an ad for their firm. Lame… Samurai lawyer?! WTF?! Anyway, this is a flashback episode on Mitsurugi. 3 years after his father’s death, he is now living under Karuma’s household. Mei was more of a cute loli than a sadistic b*tch. With Mitsurugi unsure of following his father’s footsteps, Karuma is contemplating of sending him to an orphanage home! I guess he doesn’t need a useless adopted son. But after watching a few of Karuma’s victories in court, Mitsurugi did find some inspiration albeit not enough to make it his life’s ambition. One day at the shopping mall, his dog simply ran off. Mitsurugi listens to his radio for some hints. It seems his dog chased another bitc-, I mean female dog. Then this fat cow woman claims this lost dog is hers. However it is growling at her. Mitsurugi doubts she is the owner but she mentions about some of its traits. With no further evidence, Mitsurugi releases it to her. Of course we could tell this sneaky b*tch just wants to claim the reward for the lost dog. But she made a mistake by humming a song from Signal Samurai. Mitsurugi questions where she heard that song. Because it was just recently played over the radio. If she claims she has no kids, how did she know it was from a children’s TV show? Because Signal Samurai ended 3 years ago! And if she is the owner, she should pay him the reward as he was the one who found it. Fatty is mad and wants to get violent but thankfully Karuma is here. Do you want to settle this in court? Think not. This event made Mitsurugi firmly want to be a prosecutor. Karuma cancels that orphanage plan and realizes when he took him in 3 years ago, it wasn’t just out of guilt. It was to see what path this would lead to. Mayoi uploads the lame video online. Yeah, Americans think Japanese lawyers are crazy! However the video has only 1 like! It is hinted Mitsurugi saw it and liked it. So this dude is in USA now?

Episode 7
Itonokogiri barges into Naruhodo’s office to claim a phony has been using his name to defend clients and lost! It’s right here in the magazine?! It happened a month ago! WTF?! Nobody verified this for so long?! Not even Naruhodo knew about it?! They go see the accused and to their surprise it is Mako! At first she is mad at him for his amateurish defending but soon realize how different the phony was. You mean she never realized it then?! Anyway she relates her story. After quitting the force, she worked as a waitress at a café. There was a table with2 customers. She saw one of them lacing a cup of coffee with poison that killed the other. She was so shocked that she fainted. However everyone testified that there was only 1 customer at that table and that the poison was found in Mako’s apron. Mako is sure there were 2 of them as she served them. Naruhodo will get her a retrial. First they visit the café in which the gay French chef, Kaoru Hondobou. His testament is the same except for the fact he forgot to mention a medication bag of the victim in the previous trial! As the retrial begins, the victim, Takao Oka is a programmer and it is believed he was hearing a radio that announced the lottery ticket’s winning numbers. Hence Mako is accused of killing him to steal the ticket that was found in her possession. Also, Godot has examined the medication to be applied as cream and not eaten. Because the day before he got into a fight and busted his left ear. The judge doesn’t see any reason to prolong this trial but Itonokogiri won’t give up (because he’s in love) and has arranged a witness to be cross examined by Naruhodo. Shouhei Igarashi was the only other customer there and testifies the same. However Naruhodo believes he is an unreliable witness because he claims Oka used his left ear to listen to his earphone and left hand to drink from the cup (evidence shows he used his right thanks to the coffee lip stains). Even more so when he couldn’t describe Mako from the front and only from her back, which is very ambiguous. He also can’t identify the ketchup stained apron Mako was wearing that day. The judge postpones his verdict for both sides to find more evidence. As they leave, Naruhodo notices a messed up scooter. Then this hooligan threatens him not to touch it and takes off with it. So this guy is the phony Naruhodo?!

Episode 8
Checking the café again, in the kitchen there seems to be bottles of aromatherapy. But one of them stinks so Itonokogiri will take it back for testing. Naruhodo hears Hondobou talking to Urami Shikabane outside. From what is deduced, it looks like she is from a loan shark company and he borrowed money from her. Then at the park, they see Igarashi sitting around. Since he was pretty annoyed at the retrial, time for Chihiro to pop up and make this pervert talk again. He maintains what he said and also when the murder happened, Hondobou told him to call the cops. So he left the café and looked around for a phone for about 10 minutes. He also knows Hondobou has borrowed money from a loan shark. Naruhodo and Mayoi head there and are greeted by Urami. As they wait, they rummage through the stuffs. No warrants whatsoever. They find a CD and an invoice by the Shikabane Group worth 1.5 million Yen. Also there is this suit that looks like Naruhodo and it is confirmed this phony is the one, Toranosuke Shibakuzou. He is quite the ruffian but is very lovey-dovey with Urami who claims he saved her from a car accident and she owed his life to him. They are forced to leave. Returning to Itonokogiri, he reveals Urami is the only granddaughter of Gonta, the head of Shikabane Group who controls the black market in Japan. Also, Oka had also taken loan under them and as a programmer if he can’t pay back that loan, he would have used his skills as repayment. The CD contained a virus. Going back to Mako, now she reveals there was another customer other than Igarashi: Urami. They go ask her stuffs and even though she claimed Shibakuzou paid her operation in full out of love, Naruhodo can tell he was only doing it because he cannot defy Gonta. His messed up scooter proves he was the one who banged into the car and the expensive invoice, most of it was ‘compensation’. Urami sadly admits she knew it all but wanted to believe it was truly love. Because a person’s life is hanging on this case, she gives Naruhodo a medical papers. As they leave, Shibakuzou returns. He wants to pick a fight with them when conveniently Itonokogiri tackles him. He will handle this ruffian and wants Naruhodo to go save Mako.

Episode 9
Itonokogiri returns with the lab results. The bottle is the ear cream medicine but has unknown fingerprints on it. Trial resumes with Hondobou being called to the stands. As he testifies, Naruhodo calls his bluff. Because of the lottery radio programme Oka was listening it couldn’t possibly ended so soon. Because Igarashi wouldn’t have witnessed the crime then as he was not in the café yet. Naruhodo claims that Mako and Igarashi’s contradicting statements are both true because they both witnessed different events. This means Igarashi witnessed a re-enacted scene. Hondobou admits he helped hide the body but did not kill Oka. However he will not name his employer or he will be finished. Naruhodo believes it is Shibakuzou since Hondobou took out a loan with his company. Shibakuzou is called to the stands and is shown the medical papers. Behind it is written his appointment time with Oka. After Oka was killed, Mako fainted. Oka’s real body was hidden as Shibakuzou pretended to be Oka while Urami pretended to be Mako just to re-enact the scene to Igarashi before putting everything back in order. All this elaborated setup just to frame Mako. Godot argues if Oka had won the lottery, there is no reason for Shibakuzou to kill him as his winnings is more than enough to cover his loan. But Naruhodo points out that it isn’t the money Shibakuzou is after but the virus programme. You see, he also owes Urami’s medical bills that amounts to millions. If Oka won, this means his debts are cleared but this will leave Shibakuzou in a lurch. Had Oka lost, he would have given his virus CD as collateral and this is worth millions! Thus he poisoned Oka and stole his CD. To cover this, he pretended to be a lawyer to frame Mako. But even if Itonokogiri returns with fingerprint evidence it belongs to Shibakuzou, it doesn’t prove his anything because they are supposed to meet and hence the fingerprints are given. But when Naruhodo tries to explain the poison bottle containing his fingerprints, Shibakuzou foolishly denies the one in hand and describes the bottle. How does he know what bottle the poison was in? Even if he claims he saw it in the last trial, this forces him to admit he pretended to be Naruhodo. This stupidity brings an end to the trial and Mako is declared a free woman. Shibakuzou is taken away. He wonders why Urami betrayed him. As a Shikabane, they always get their payback.

Episode 10
I guess they wanted to make a spoof of the Murder On The Orient Express. Naruhodo, Mayoi, Itonokogiri and the judge are invited to ride Silver Star. It is a luxury private train made by Avery Richman from Goldstruck Republic, the typical foreigner who loves Japan that he bought up their railways and made his dream come true. Naruhodo and Mayoi are served by Rick Steam as he explains all the workers on this train are from Richman’s country. The train departs. Mayoi and Itonokogiri are on the same childish level to play some bomb squad game with their toy communicator. Is this allowed? Oh well, dinner time. A blizzard builds up and the train suddenly stops in its tracks. Itonokogiri sees a fireball and is shocked to think it is some human soul. The train starts moving again and it seems they have picked up Richman himself. All the employees now brandish machine guns to take away any communication devices from the passengers. Some are confined to their rooms and those in the dining hall have the ‘honour’ to meet Richman himself as he explains things. You see, he was convicted for murder in an American trial a year ago and is sentenced to death. Gee, how did they go ahead with this Silver Star thingy then without knowing this?! Anyway, Richman conveniently just naturalized as a Japanese and was hence being transported but managed to escape with the help of his people. What he wants is a retrial as all the evidence against him during that trial were false. You mean right here on this train instead of a proper court? Yeah, this train even has a court room! That is why he invited all those related to his case for this ride. He heard of Naruhodo’s heroics and he will be his defence attorney. The prosecutor is Yusaburou Saiga, an American prosecutor. This retrial will be broadcasted to a certain place and in the event if Richman is still found guilty, he will accept the verdict. Mayoi excuses herself to the toilet to contact Itonokogiri who is being grounded in his compartment. After learning everything, he tries to get to the courtroom but a clumsy employee shoots and a stray bullet grazes his arm. When he tries to get to the dining coach, it is missing.

Episode 11
Saiga fills in the details of the trial. Yendol Kanesky was the secretary general of America’s trade federation and was killed on stage while giving his speech at the yearend ceremony. It is believed Richman shot him since Kanesky saw Goldstruck Republic as a threat to America’s economy and wanted to kick him out. When police restrained him, they found the pistol with him. Richman insists he did not have a gun then and although the murder weapon was registered to his name, he claims someone had stolen it. Other witnesses mention a waiter with bandages on his right hand dropping an ashtray before the gunshot was heard. Before that, he also spilled champagne on an old lady in wheelchair. Suspiciously, he followed Richman to get the cloth to clean. That waiter is Gale Gaelic and before they could call him to the stand, a fire breaks out in one of the rooms. After putting it out, to their shock, Gale’s dead body lying there! Meanwhile Itonokogiri is being treated by Regina Locomoti who apologizes for accidentally shooting him (Richman gave specific orders not to harm anyone). He needs her help to contact to the outside world and gives his word he will not tip off the Japanese police who are looking for Richman. Hence he sends a message to Mitsurugi. Saiga insists in preserving the crime scene but lets Richman in since he needs to identify the witness. Upon opening the door, the body is gone! Is the retrial going to be postponed? Naruhodo and Saiga talk. Saiga might be a prosecutor but he prepares cases for indictment and doesn’t stand in court. Learning that Mitsurugi is Naruhodo’s rival, this brings back memories how Mitsurugi was the only one who could defeat him during his law college days. Because of that he ran away to America?! He only came back for a vacation but got this invitation. Mitsurugi is researching the records of Richman’s initial trial when suddenly agents tell him to come with them to see the chief prosecutor. Mitsurugi can see that there are malpractices of Richman’s trial including strange cross examinations and unnatural evidences. So if they claim America’s justice system is perfect, why summon him here when he is just looking up the records? Actually it is to show the live broadcast of the retrial. Meanwhile as Itonokogiri waits for Mitsurugi’s reply, he hears a thud outside. It is Gale’s body!

Episode 12
Itonokogiri connects to the trial room and shows Gale’s corpse. Teleportation? When he mentions about that fireball soul, Naruhodo and Mayoi remember seeing something like that. When the train went dark, it was to celebrate granny’s birthday. However one of the candles fell and burnt the cloth but was luckily put out. That was probably the fireball. Itonokogiri could only see it because they were at a path where there were several tracks. It was at that moment the coaches changed positions and hence the dining coach is not missing but went to the back. Saiga calls all this pointless but Naruhodo points out he is able to pinpoint Gale’s murderer. It is Saiga. The one they saw in the room is fake and somebody was just pretending to be Gale. When the fire broke out, Saiga went to inspect it first. When they re-examined it later and the corpse gone, the perpetrator was hiding behind the door while everyone was in shock before sneaking. The only person who appeared after that was Rick. With Naruhodo calling out Rick, he apologizes for this betrayal and admitted he was cooperating with the American law enforcement. He was asked to buy a gun with Richman’s fingerprints on it. The killer who shot Kanesky was indeed Gale and he did near Richman to frame him. Even the cops were in on it as they planted evidence in Richman when frisking him. Rick was once again put up to do this as he was threatened by Saiga or else he will expose his betrayal. Although Naruhodo believes Saiga killed Gale during dinner time when nobody was at the passenger coach, what evidence does he have to show Saiga’s motive for killing him?

This is where Mitsurugi comes in. He shows the report that Saiga’s name in charge of building this case. Gale was a key witnessed but during the American trial, he was cancelled by Saiga as an unimportant witness. This is to hide the proof that he was at the centre of the conspiracy. Even America’s chief prosecutor is disappointed at Saiga for dragging their good name through the mud. Even if Saiga says he did as the top brass ordered him to, that is precisely the reason why he will be severely punished. You see, Gale was an assassin hired by the federation. Hence there is no justice in this but only blood money. Cornered, Saiga is forced to tell the truth. When he was invited for this ride, he didn’t expect to see Gale too. They talked and it seems Gale had this idea of turning this into some blackmail stint. However Saiga didn’t want to himself to be exposed and quickly hatched a plan to kill Gale in another coach and hid his body. Gee, this assassin must be pretty rusty to be killed by a lawyer. Because Saiga didn’t foresee this retrial and others would be suspicious of Gale’s disappearance, that was why he wanted some time to prepare and that was to blackmail Rick into partaking in this plan of his to pretend to be the fake corpse. Now that Saiga is apprehended and Richman is pronounced innocent, it’s not over yet because Richman has put bombs on this coach! He has everyone evacuate but will go die himself in this explosion. This is why he rearranged the dining coach to be the last. He is resolved to do this no matter what the verdict was. Although this retrial proves his innocence, he thinks it will change nothing. However the chief prosecutor apologizes for the mistake and vows to give him a fair retrial. Oh my. Another retrial? At least this one is official. And with that, Richman realizes he needs to live and evacuates with the rest. With Itonokogiri is now a train driver and speeds up before the dining coach explodes! I guess we have had enough twists and drama for today.

Episode 13
This 1 hour special tells how Naruhodo became a lawyer. Yeah, he was accused of murder when he was a university student. Kikuzou Nonda warned Naruhodo about the girl he is dating, Chinami Miyanagi. Yeah, she’s Kikuzou’s ex. An argument broke out and Kikuzou ended up dead. Chihiro was tasked to defend Naruhodo and ironically she’s pretty nervous while Naruhodo being quite the chirpy lad. Amazingly, Chihiro devastatingly lost a case a year ago and never set foot in court until today. Man, she sure took a long time to recover. Naruhodo is accused of killing Kikuzou by way of shoving since the latter was holding his cough medicine (Naruhodo is currently sick). But can a fall kill a man? Turns out actually he was killed via electrocution by a nearby broken cable and this is supported by the university lab losing power at that time. Since this doesn’t prove Naruhodo’s intent to kill, the prosecutor then calls Chinami who witnessed the event. I guess she’s so cute that any guys would not hesitate to believe her. Anyway Chihiro finds flaws in her testimony. Because she said everything happened so fast, there is a discrepancy in the time of Kikuzou’s death (since amazingly his watch stopped at the same time). Hence there is a 10 minute gap from the electrocution and time of the stopped watch. Chihiro further accuses Chinami of wanting to frame Naruhodo. Apparently this isn’t their first meeting and Chihiro met her before. Plus, half a year ago, Chinami was in a trial that accused her of poisoning a lawyer. However she was set free as the supposedly poison was not found anywhere. But dumb Naruhodo interjects. He remembers that trial was the day they first met and he fell in love with her. She even gave him a weird pendant. Yeah, this guy wouldn’t shut up about his love and that’s where Chihiro has got Chinami cornered. Chinami poisoned the lawyer and then gave the poison in the form of a pendant to Naruhodo. Because as one who is not related to the case, he was not searched at all. Dumb Naruhodo objects to it all as he can’t believe his love cannot do all this. Especially obtaining very specially made poison. Oh yes she can. Her ex was a pharmacology student and hence had access to all sorts of poison. Dummy lover boy can’t believe it that he runs away!!!! WTF?! Can he do that in court?! Of course the bailiffs brought him back.

Chihiro wants the pendant handed over to be analysed. Guess what? Lover boy swallowed it!!! WTF?! WHAT THE FFFFUUUUU???!!! However, Chinami is b*tch laughing because since he is still alive, this proves it isn’t poison. So did the poison lose its potency after 6 months? Chihiro now desperately telling Naruhodo to tell the truth. So I guess no more evidence so taking his word as the truth? Naruhodo feels bad for acting this way when Chihiro has gone out of her way to defend him. Hence he is going to tell the truth, something he has not told the courts. I see only now his conscious prevails over his boner. When Kikuzou told him to stay away from Chinami, he warned him about some poison she stole. And last night he found some poison stolen too. Naruhodo didn’t believe this and shoved him. He ran away soon after but got worried and returned. He saw Chinami by his body and she told him to keep this a secret. With this, Chihiro puts together the pieces. Because Naruhodo did not want to give her the pendant back, she planned to poison and kill him. It’s the reason why she dated him. To get close to him and poison him. Chinami in b*tch mode now admits she is the killer but without evidence, she cannot be thrown into the slammer. That is when Chihiro shows the definitive evidence of the cough medicine bottle. This is where the poison is. Chinami’s testimony as witness for the 2 guys was a lie. She was the one who cut the cable. It took her some time to move the body and this explains the time discrepancy. She was about to put in the bottle that she stole earlier from Naruhodo but that dummy came back. No choice but to hide the evidence, she left it in Kikuzou’s hand. If she is so certain that there is no poison in here, drink it. At that moment, Chihiro is about to turn into some evil vengeful spirit???!!! But she goes back to her nice girl mode and admits her defeat. She is taken away but warns this isn’t the last she will see of her. Naruhodo is declared innocent and although sad about his love live, he has to move on and is motivated to become a lawyer to help a friend. Chihiro pays a visit to her senior lawyer in coma in hospital. She is glad she has finally avenged his poison case.

Episode 14
Oh no. Not again. This time Harumi broke a giant conch seashell that Mayoi gave her. So she pleads for Naruhodo to help her find this special seashell that seems to be available only at this certain beach and not tell Mayoi. Flashback shows that Harumi and many other women of Kurain Village are forbidden to step outside of the village. Harumi saw a photo of the sea and wanted to see the real deal. Even when Kimiko warned Mayoi not to do it, she secretly took Harumi there. Of course Kimiko found out and was reprimanded, giving Kimiko more reason to badmouth her mom and Chihiro who did the same thing and look what misfortune it brought to the village. Harumi regretted causing her trouble but Mayoi didn’t mind and gave her the seashell to remember this day. As Naruhodo and Mayoi continue to search, they stumble upon a little shrine. Oh look, it’s Mayoi taking a break from whatever ceremony. She relates how her first view of the sea was also here when Chihiro brought her here. Yes, this seashell was from Chihiro to her to commemorate that day. This only makes Harumi feel guilty. So they let the loli run off like that? As they eat ramen, Naruhodo realizes the uniqueness of the seashell is because it is actually a bowl! Hence they buy this bowl and give it to Harumi. However she prefers this old broken one since it holds lots of memories. Cue for cousins to emotional reassure their sisterly love. I wonder if they can get a refund for the bowl. More flashbacks after Chihiro gave Mayoi this seashell. Yeah, she was clumsy and dropped it. Although it was only broken in half. After that Chihiro told Mayoi that she wanted to leave the village and become a lawyer to find the truth about their mom. With a heavy heart, this means she had to throw the village head’s responsibilities to her but Mayoi accepted and will support her.

Episode 15
Going back more in time to witness Chihiro’s first trial. She’s nervous as hell as rookie and it doesn’t help her senior, Souryuu Kaminogi (definitely Godot) leaves teasing hints for her to think through. Anyway, Chihiro is to defend an escaped convict, Michiru Onamida. He is on death row for killing a girl (Chinami?) by throwing her off a bridge into the rapids 5 years ago. He claims he was framed but the policewoman who arrested him then, Yuki Miyanagi testified so. A few days ago, there was an accident transporting the convict. He escaped and wrote a note to Yuki to meet and cleared things up. However she is instead killed. The meeting place was at the same bridge where the murder took place. With Mitsurugi as the prosecutor, Chihiro has a hard time but manages to decently hold her ground. She argues Yuki who was stabbed in the back and bundled into the car wasn’t wearing a white scarf as per instructed so as Onamida could identify her. But Mitsurugi points out a damning photo of them meeting on the bridge and she is wearing a white scarf indeed. He calls the witness who took this photo. Chinami? However she goes by the name Satoko Mukui. Chihiro argues from her point of view, she wouldn’t have known Onamida put the body in the trunk. Hence she accuses her of being the murderer. Because Onamida says he drove off and had no time to put the body in the trunk, this only means that Satoko killed Yuki beforehand and planted her body in the trunk. She was also impersonating as Yuki as in the photo (the camera was on timer) as Onamida could not recognize Yuki and that’s why he wanted her to wear a white scarf as identification. If Onamida had killed her, why not just dump the body in the rapids below? So much easier. This is Satoko’s plan to frame him. Satoko uses her girly innocence to score some points. But what motive does she have to frame Onamida? Kaminogi then points out the girl he killed 5 years ago, Chinami was Yuki’s sister. However her corpse was never found and if she was alive today, she would be around Satoko’s age.

Episode 16
From what Satoko says, it sounds like as though she knows what the memo between Onamida and Yuki states. Because the memo also pinpoints Chinami’s name and to go public with the truth, Chihiro is fully certain that Satoko is Chinami. Chihiro requests Onamida to testify and tell the whole truth. 5 years ago when he kidnapped Chinami, it was actually a setup staged by the sisters. Onamida was Chinami’s tutor and was very much in love with her. As Chinami’s family had an expensive jewel, they thought of staging this kidnapping. The plan was for Yuki to make the transfer but she betrayed him. After Yuki shoots at Onamida’s arm, Chinami herself dives off the bridge with the jewel. Onamida passed out from the shock. He was then tried and sentenced to death thanks to Yuki’s lies. Onamida spent these years wanting to know why she betrayed him. That’s why he broke out to find the truth before he dies. He insists he didn’t kill her. Hence Chihiro points out that Chinami too had a motive to kill Yuki because they were going to go public with the truth. So with her silencing Yuki, it is a trap to frame Onamida and keep the jewel to herself. For the past 5 years, this guilty conscience must have weighed heavily on Yuki’s mind too. So right after Onamida called, she panicked and called Chinami. This had Chinami came out with another devilish plan that sealed Yuki’s fate. Chinami laughs it all off. He calls Onamida’s testimony a lie and that she changed her name because as a kidnapped victim once, she went into hiding. At this point, Chihiro has no evidence to prove the kidnapping was staged. Kaminogi hints to her even if there is no evidence, someone’s testimony can be used. Hence Chihiro needs Onamida to tell the whole truth. First he asks if Chinami betrayed him. Chinami says this only to him: Her life is in his hands. With that, Onamida testifies the person he met on the bridge was Yuki. As for why he came 30 minutes earlier, it was to go to a special place. He and Chinami made a promise 5 years ago and she brought a memento to represent their vow. He went there to get it. At this point, Onamida starts coughing blood. He has swallowed the poison from the memento. How the f*ck did he even bring this into court?! The promise was to trust each other till death. If not, drink the poison. Onamida fears he cannot keep the promise and might kill Chinami. Onamida’s death left a deep scar in Chihiro’s heart. It was a day nobody won nor lost. Maybe for Chinami because she gets to strike again…

Episode 17
Naruhodo accompanies Mayoi and Harumi to the mountains to Hazakura Temple where the latter duo will undergo training to boost their spiritual power. They meet the head nun, Bikini (yes, that’s her name) as well as another trainee, Elise Tenryusai. She is a fortune teller who is also a famous children’s picture book writer. Harumi is a big fan of hers so she is delighted to do stuffs with her. Elise has an apprentice, Mathis who is out painting. Naruhodo and Mayoi then check out the area. Hmm… The bridge looks like a familiar suspicious crime scene… At the inner temple, they stumble into another meek nun, Ayame. Naruhodo is puzzled that she knows him. Mayoi then notices a hanging scroll and is shocked to see her mom’s image. Wait. If she says she recognized it because of the Kurain symbol, what makes she think that’s her mom since she herself said she couldn’t recognize her? Then they meet Mathis. Yahari?! So he dislikes himself and is trying to find a new personality via painting? That night, Naruhodo bumps into Ayame again. He requests she take off her hood. OMG! Chinami???!!! It could be just coincidence since Chinami is still serving time. She gives him her hood as good luck. Naruhodo has a feeling that she definitely knows him and will ask her more tomorrow. However in the middle of the night, a scream is heard. Naruhodo rushes out only to see Elise stabbed by a sword in the back. Thankfully Bikini isn’t another corpse. Just passed out from the shock. She tells him to call the cops. A landline phone near the bridge? But the bridge is on fire. He believes Mayoi is stuck across due to her training. He runs across but the wood gives way. He falls down into the river. Don’t worry, he is still alive and somehow in hospital. Just caught a cold. I don’t know why but he has been looking at Chihiro’s case of this. It seems Ayame has been arrested for murder. But surprise! Mitsurugi returns! Yahari called him and told him (and everyone) that he is dead. Naruhodo wants Mitsurugi to defend Ayame on his behalf. The prosecutor now playing the defence? Mitsurugi sees her in detention. She maintains she has never met all of them before as she has never left Hazakura. She explains she saw Bikini and Elise together after dinner. After that, Ayame didn’t leave her room until the incident happened. Mitsurugi still believes she knows Naruhodo because he acts strange whenever her name comes up in their conversation. Ayame tells the truth that she deceived him 5 years ago and is doing this nunnery as repentance. She might not want to see him again but Mitsurugi points out he is still hurting. Until she tells him the truth. She promises to tell him the truth and Mitsurugi agrees to defend her.

Episode 18
Mitsurugi visits the site and with Itonokogiri’s assistance, he learns the bridge caught on fire because lightning struck it. Elise’s body had bruises, consistent from the fall from her room. Then interviewing Bikini, her statements are in line with Naruhodo. At first she was accompanying Mayoi but because of her bad back, Ayame brought her back to the main temple to rest. When she came back out, she saw the murder incident. Next, Mitsurugi interviews Yahari. However this painter is obviously hiding something and won’t tell. So he runs away. WTF. Also, Harumi has been missing and was last seen in Elise’s room. The trial starts and Mei is the prosecutor. Because a prosecutor can’t be a defence lawyer, hence they changed the judge. WTF?! Can they easily fool him like that?! Isn’t Mitsurugi famous?! Yeah, just say it’s your imagination. WTF???!!! Bikini gives her witness testimony but is quickly overruled by Mitsurugi since it contradicts about Ayame not leaving her room after 10pm and hence never been to the inner temple. Bikini is very sure she saw Ayame because of her usual getup. Again overruled because she gave her hood to Naruhodo. With a warning to tell the truth, Bikini explains at about 11pm she saw hoodless Ayame stabbing Elise from the back. While this might sound like a guilty verdict for Ayame, Mitsurugi objects. If Ayame truly stabbed Elise with the sword, the entire sword would be covered with blood instead of just the tip. This could mean the sword wasn’t the murder weapon and despite Ayame’s fingerprints on it, doesn’t prove her as the murderer. Although Bikini believes in what she saw, she didn’t actually see the murder being committed. She already saw the sword was already in Elise. As for the real murder weapon, Mei argues that there were snowmobile tracks near the river and it could have been thrown in here. The rapid currents make it hard to retrieve. Bikini testifies that only Ayame had the keys to the snowmobile. Because Ayame will not confirm, her silence is confession. But before the judge can hand down the guilty verdict, here comes Yahari to object! He is going to save his beloved Ayame. WTF?! Can he do that?!

Episode 19
Yahari says the snowmobile wasn’t to commit murder but to inform everyone about dinner. Mitsurugi notices a 45 minute gap when the lightning struck the bridge and Yahari calling the police. So Yahari was so inspired by the bridge on fire that he was sketching it?! Yahari reluctantly shows them what he was drawing. The bridge on flames and somebody flying over it?! That’s supposed to be Ayame?! That’s why she didn’t need a snowmobile?! Unbelievable! Yahari also picked up a crystal believed to be from Ayame’s hood at the foot of the bridge. It has bloodstains on it and he thinks Ayame fell and injured herself. Mitsurugi objects to his testimony. Because his drawing indicates Ayame was wearing her hood, unfortunately she gave it to Naruhodo. Also, the crystal is too big to fit on her hood and proof shows it was from Elise’s staff. Mei argues Elise didn’t leave her room that night so Mitsurugi points out the possibility that the murder didn’t take place at Hazakura. She was killed somewhere else, her body brought back to the temple to make it look she was killed there. Sure, it might take 10 minutes from the bridge to the temple but that’s what the snowmobile is for… With this deadlock, this is what Mitsurugi has been aiming for. Due to the inconclusiveness of the case, the judge has to adjourn this session and order a new investigation. With Mitsurugi’s job over, he passes over the baton to Naruhodo. Is this guy okay to do the job? Mitsurugi updates him about the case while he goes investigate Ayame. He felt he has seen her somewhere before. With the bridge fixed, Naruhodo and Itonokogiri head across. Naruhodo finds a new lock at the inner temple. And then Harumi pops up. She feels guilty for what happened and then runs away again?! WTF?! Naruhodo notices curry on the hanging scroll. If that is not bad enough, Godot returns since he will be facing him as the prosecutor. He explains the trick lock can only be open by the person who set it and that was Ayame. Godot then explains how he died once but it took a lot of effort to bring him back. Read: Hospitalization. He hints that without his mask, he cannot see. Investigating the stone lantern, there is no snow around the base and it is believed this is the murder scene. With Mayoi still missing and possibly stuck inside the inner temple that temperatures could reach below freezing levels, Godot accuses he will send another woman to her death. He accuses him of killing Chihiro. Despite the baddie was prosecuted, this will not bring Chihiro back. Godot believes Naruhodo who was there was the only one who can protect her. He hates it when he calls Chihiro his mentor but he robbed his life. That is why he will never accept Naruhodo. Oh Naruhodo, not the time to be in despair now. Then he sees Mayoi’s name on the stone lantern.

Episode 20
Itonokogiri explains because Mayoi’s name was written backwards, it could mean it was written from the victim’s point of view. Hence the police believes Mayoi is the killer. More discoveries as Naruhodo picks up Elise’s pendant and realizes the mark of Kurain on it. Also, an almost burnt note that spells out this crime in detail! Talking to Bikini, he notices her strange way of addressing Elise. Bikini reveals that Elise is actually Maiko! She came here a week ago because she was worried about the bloodline of the main family is dying and was here to stop it. Because only the main family can become the head, there are assassination plots from branch families. Like last year’s case that involved Kimiko. With this revelation, here is another one: Ayame is also Kimiko’s daughter! Not shocking enough? Ayame is the younger twin of Chinami! Damn, it feels like they’re making this up. When Kimiko’s husband realizes they cannot become the family head, he took the twins and left but decided to give one up to look after Hazakura. A short earthquake occurs. Worried Naruhodo heads to the inner temple only to see more locks! Ayame decides to try and unlock them but it will take some time. Come back tomorrow. That night, Mitsurugi returns. He is investigating Elise’s staff and what do you know? There is a hidden sword in it! It’s covered with blood! You mean he never tampered with the staff like he did now with Naruhodo? Off to the forensics. He has also researched about Ayame. However he tells Naruhodo the heart breaking news that Chinami cannot be implicated in this case. Because she was executed last month! Is Naruhodo confused or sad?

Naruhodo then returns to talk to Ayame. Because he knew he talked to her before the bell rang and that she was also seen at the inner temple, this could mean there were 2 Ayames! WTF?! He explains actually somebody channelled the spirit of Chinami by a medium. Impressed with his deduction, she knew about this but never said a thing because as a traitor who was supposed to be part of that fake kidnapping, she was afraid to be implicated and hence don’t want to get in Chinami’s way. This kidnapping was supposed to be Chinami’s revenge against her father who abandoned mom because she couldn’t be the head. Naruhodo asks one last question. Did Chinami say anything about a guy she dated after that poison case? Yes. She hates him. Oh well. The truth hurts. Let’s hope he can get over it for good. Naruhodo then sees Harumi hanging out with Yahari. He thinks she channelled Chinami. The note was written by Kimiko for her. Because her vocabulary isn’t that good, she misinterpreted a line and hence threw curry on the hanging scroll. Harumi reveals she visited Kimiko the last time and was told about this to help Mayoi. Damn, Kimiko planned all this even before being put in prison? However she claims the seal on the note was already broken. Meaning, somebody else read it first. More revelations as Harumi says after dinner, she didn’t go to Elise’s room but went to the inner temple. She was supposed to help channel Chinami’s spirit but couldn’t summon her no matter how much she tried. The only explanation is that somebody else channelled Chinami’s spirit already. Meanwhile Kimiko in prison is relishing that Harumi has done her bidding well without knowing the truth (how does she know? Did Chinami’s spirit report to her?). Once this is over, Harumi will become the next head.

Episode 21
If Ayame will be testifying today, who will be trying to unlock the locks? Mei?! Can she do it?! The trial begins with Godot pointing out Ayame would like to confess to the crime. She admits to being an accomplice of covering the crime up to cover for Mayoi. She lied about not heading to the inner temple that night. When Mayoi was getting ready for her training, Elise showed up and attacked her. She took out a small knife to stab Mayoi but Mayoi stabbed her back in self-defence. Naruhodo objects to her testimony as lies. He shows the staff that has a hidden sword. Also, Elise is Mayoi’s mother. What intention does she have to kill her daughter whom she has not seen for 17 years? Naruhodo is puzzled why Ayame is trying to frame Mayoi. However Godot also shows the small knife with blood on its tip as the murder weapon. The blood is currently being analysed. However Godot panics when he cannot see that blood writing on the stone lantern. Ayame claims she moved the body to the main temple via snowmobile. However Naruhodo points out another contradiction. The bridge was on fire. He has proof that the corpse was ‘flown’ over. Remember Yahari’s drawing? It’s a complete contradiction. Huh? Describing Yahari’s drawing of the bridge is slightly different, it is because Yahari was drawing it upside down as he was sleeping when he saw the incident. This means the ‘flying’ body was actually being swung under like a pendulum. Where to get a string that long? The wires of the suspension bridge is long enough. Furthermore, bruises on Elise’s body as well as her crystal being knocked off from the landing impact proves this. However, who is to receive the body? Ayame. Wait a minute, if she was sending the body, somebody has to be there to move it? That’s right. It’s Ayame. Remember, she was seen by Bikini at the main temple. Are you confused? Naruhodo points out there were 2 Ayames. Hence he claims the Ayame here is not Ayame but Chinami! She might be dead but this is not impossible for those in the spirit channelling trade. Also, Ayame gave her hood to him that night. But at the same night at the inner temple, she was seen wearing it. Showing the burnt note that was written by Kimiko, Naruhodo points out Ayame switched place with Chinami during that short period of earthquake before the addition of multiple locks. That is when Ayame drops the act and reveals herself to be Chinami. Remember me, boys? I’m back.

Episode 22
Chinami doesn’t even try to hide her identity. She’s dead after all. What can they do? When Chinami was in prison, it was easy to see Kimiko as she told her the plan. This entire plan was to kill Mayoi and install Harumi as the next master of Kurain. Chinami agreed to help as she too had a personal agenda against Chihiro. However she died and the only way to get her revenge was on Mayoi. Chinami tells the whole truth. She was materialized about 9.30pm, put on the hood and switched places with Bikini. Taking the dagger from the store, she cornered Mayoi at the stone lantern and tried to kill her. Strangely, she had no memories after that but knew Mayoi stabbed her because she was the one who wrote Mayoi’s name on the stone lantern to cast suspicions on her. The next time she wakes up, she is inside the inner temple’s cave. She couldn’t get out because of the lock and it took her hours. When she finally did, Ayame came by. Chinami forced everything out of her, tied her up and put multiple locks after that. At that point Chinami realized she was under the assumption that Harumi was the one who summoned her. However it then dawned to her it was Elise. How else to explain Elise’s body lying at the stone temple? Mayoi must have felt so guilty of killing her mom that she killed herself by jumping into the river. Naruhodo objects that Mayoi isn’t the person to do all this. Godot receives a call that the locks have finally been removed. They only find Ayame inside. No Mayoi. With Chinami screaming victory, Naruhodo realizes there is 1 possibility where Mayoi is. Who is channelling Chinami now? Definitely not Harumi because she is here in court watching. Therefore Chinami is possessing Mayoi’s body. Chinami is distraught because who could have told her such a plan? Nice timing for Chihiro to return! Via Harumi of course.

Although Chinami claimed she was stabbed by Mayoi, Chihiro says that Mayoi passed out before her. Hence the real killer was the one who stabbed her. Chihiro left a note for Mayoi what to do and the best way to protect herself from Chinami is of course to channel her. She had to do it fast because otherwise it would be Harumi who would have channelled Chinami and it would be very tragic if the loli killed Mayoi. Naruhodo calls Chinami a failure since all her plans ended up that way. Yeah, it happened so many times that it is not funny anymore. They used her own quote against her. Even though it is impossible to punish the dead, Chinami will forever be a weak loser and she lost that chance to redeem herself when she was executed. Chinami is mad but Naruhodo and Chihiro shoo her out of Mayoi. That was easy. The judge is about to hand his verdict to Ayame but Godot objects. Elise’s killer is still unknown. This means putting Mayoi on trial but since she is unwell, the court will take a short recess until she is ready. Naruhodo tries to get Ayame to tell her the truth. She admits she did receive orders to take the snowmobile to move Elise’s body but refuses to say the killer’s name. Naruhodo talks to Chihiro one last time before the trial resumes. They know the killer knew the plans all along and was on the side of the inner temple as the bridge was not crossable then. The rest is up to Naruhodo to think. The judge discloses the blood on the weapons. It is the staff. As for the knife, at least it is not the blood of Elise. The trial resumes and Mayoi is back on the stands. Again.

Episode 23
From what Mayoi says, Naruhodo believes she knows who the real killer is but is trying to protect him. But how can she identify him clearly when there is no light? There are some things you can identify clearly in the dark. Naruhodo has the courtroom off the lights. What do you see? Godot’s visor’s lights! He also deduces that Godot cannot see red colours on white backgrounds, that is why he cleared the snow around the stone lantern. As for his motive to kill Elise, it is rather he protected Mayoi. She is after all the younger sister of his love. Time for Godot to tell his side. He was smitten by Chihiro because of always putting in the effort. It all began going downhill when he got poisoned by Chinami. When he came out of coma, Chihiro was already dead. Hence he only had 2 reason to live. It was to see what kind of man Naruhodo is and to protect Mayoi. After Kimiko got arrested, Godot knew it wasn’t over by a long shot. He went to Kurain and eavesdrop and found that note. He could have destroyed it right away and end it there but he wanted to play along with Kimiko’s plans. That is when he contacted Ayame and Elise to cooperate. The plan would have worked well had Harumi be with Elise that night but instead she went to the inner temple. Hence Elise had no choice but to summon Chinami first. Godot hid himself there just to make sure Mayoi was safe. The rest he leaves up to Naruhodo to finish. Even with Mayoi pleading not to, is she trying to obstruct justice?! Anyway, Naruhodo points out the knife has Godot’s blood. Mayoi objects since he was trapped on the other side, how could he have changed his clothes or hide his wounds? It won’t be impossible if that would is behind that visor! Because Godot saw Chihiro in Naruhodo’s vigour, so he is admitting defeat?! Godot now admits that he doesn’t really hate Naruhodo but himself as he was the one who failed to protect Chihiro. Instead of facing the truth, he ran away and hid behind a mask. Him becoming a prosecutor perhaps wasn’t just to save Mayoi but his own broken soul. He isn’t sure of it now if it was the motivation to protect Mayoi when he stabbed Chinami with the sword and in return Chinami slashed him with her knife. Godot praises Naruhodo for never running away from Chihiro’s death. Is Godot crying blood?! Oh, must be his wounds opening up.

Before the judge hands down the verdict on Ayame, he gives her a chance to say a few last words. She apologizes to Naruhodo about her twins’ despicable act. After all, they only met twice. The first time she gave him the bottle and the second was when she killed Kikuzou. So the 6 months they’ve been dating was actually Ayame taking her place! She didn’t want Chinami’s soul to be further tainted and hence offered to do the job to get the pendant back. However she became impatient when Ayame couldn’t accomplished it. Ayame feels guilty for deceiving and hurting him but Naruhodo has always believed in her. Even now. Damn this episode trying to make us feel the feels with people crying? Mayoi, Godot and now Ayame. So the case ends with both lawyers drinking to a cup of coffee? Cheers! The judge declares Ayame not guilty. Good for Naruhodo, even Mitsurugi congratulates him. Mayoi is reunited with Harumi and Naruhodo’s confidence boosts even further with the voice of Chihiro praising how he saved everyone. Something that she couldn’t. Damn, I hope this doesn’t mean he is the next Jesus Christ! Because if so, igi ari!!!!!!!!!! And Chihiro hoping they would meet again? I hope she didn’t mean when he dies! But don’t you worry. With more court cases coming up, you bet Chihiro will materialize from time to time to deceive the judge help Naruhodo out.

Hung Jury: Verdict Not Returned
May those dead souls rest in peace. I suppose justice is served. Even if God doesn’t bring divine retribution to you, Naruhodo and the Japanese justice legal system will! Even if you’re dead! Haha! Damn, I sure love it if reality really operated in such a way. I suppose Godot won’t be facing his trial in killing Elise because you know, he killed her in self-defence. And because he cried tears of blood that suddenly turn into normal tears (is something spiritual messing with our vision?), I think this gives him a free pass to say that he isn’t guilty of whatsoever and absolve him of his crimes. Yeah, he convinced us enough not for him to think that he would be convicted. Godot sure played everyone. Damn, I sure love if the courts use emotions and feelings to decide!

I wonder why this season had such an odd number of only 23 episodes but I figure that if they split up that one hour special, they would still end up has 24 episodes just like last season. This season feels more like, uhm, how should I put it, like as though everything is related. Especially with many of the characters in many of these cases. We also get a few flashbacks on the past of our main characters and to our surprise, Naruhodo had a girlfriend? Last time I said how this world is so small that some witnesses were recalled twice in separate cases. It also feels the same here with Mako being accused of murder twice! Same detective to work on the case. Same judge. Same defence lawyer. Same verdict. Wow. Is this what you call a precedent?

Hence just like last season, it follows the familiar pattern of how the trial proceeds. You wonder why they can’t bring out the damning evidence and explain it all and instead they present whatever evidence they have now and then one thing leads to another. I know it is for entertainment purposes because everything that has been said or shown will have some sort of consequences that is evident as the next lead in the case. No red herrings. Or at least every dead end clue has a reason to it. Otherwise it’s like wasting your time with unrelated facts. Everything presented is somewhat related, I suppose. I guess it is only logical if you want to get from A to C, you have to get through B first. So once all the evidence and the circumstances are presented in a way that the guilty party has no way out, then comes the verdict. Wow. If only real life cases were this simple and easy.

And I’m starting to see the power of igi ari. Because when you nail the person giving testimony, you can see such superb special effects that blow the person away! Yeah, everyone has their own special unique reactions but I guess the more damning your counter evidence to the lies, the greater the effects will be so much so that a hurricane can blow and destroy the courtroom! And then be fixed back to normal in the next scene like as though everything never happened. Must be all imagination, huh? No wonder the lawyers are waiting for this chance to point out igi ari. Yeah, but it gets unbelievable with spirit mediums now trying to cheat the law. Are there law provisions for the dead?

Chinami feels like the biggest link and factor linking to almost everything that had happened this season and what probably led to her ultimate defeat. She feels like the ghost of the past that keeps haunting you forever. Hence she is this season’s biggest antagonist and thorn in the side of justice since the final arc is the longest trial in the series, spanning 7 episodes (most trial arcs only last the most at 4 episodes). How convenient. She had a twin to fool us and pull a fast one. But I saw it coming from a mile away when Mayoi went ‘missing’ in the last trial arc and it wasn’t really Ayame on the stands. Uh huh. If I was the lawyer, that trial would have only lasted 1 episode as I would have pointed out Mayoi was being possessed by Chinami who isn’t Ayame on trial. But then again, I would have been chided for lack of evidence for that conclusion. I suppose my guts aren’t conclusive evidence enough. I wonder if Kimiko the great mastermind has another plan up her sleeve seeing this one failed. Like as though she saw her first plan failed and quickly made this backup plan just in case. And what if Plan B also failed? Maybe she too thought of having Plan C… Yeah… Please don’t let her be executed and come back as another vengeful spirit as the ultimate move. We’ve had enough of that this season already.

But you know, it really gets a bit silly with the final trial that they bring in spiritual factors as evidence but then again, logic isn’t supposed to be the strongest evidence here. Get what I mean? Remember, in the court of law, evidence is all that counts and most important. Therefore whoever has the evidence and the better logical argument of it has a better chance in winning the case. So with such spiritual factors being hauled into the trial, not to say it is all BS, crap and illogical. At least in this world’s setting, the existence of spirit mediums and channelling are valid. All that is left is to connect the dots. Yup. Going by this logic, you can still charge a ghost with murder so long you can present your evidence and convey your points. After all, this isn’t the weirdest thing that has happened in the courts for this series.

Having said that, I still feel the courts here are somewhat of a joke. So much so that people don’t really take this seriously and the courts feel more like a place where people come in to discuss what happened. Uh huh. We see almost everybody acting so disrespectful while the court is in session that you wonder if the circus is in town. Uh huh. Witnesses (AKA clowns) who can even tell off the judge or barge into the middle of a testimony, Mei still whipping everything, Godot even drinking coffee and getting his cuppa like as though some hidden bartender slide it into his hands. All this would never fly in reality and you would be charged with contempt of court! And everything in the end looks like a spectacle, an entertainment. For us viewers, of course. But if you put yourself in the shoes of these characters, you would soon understand why the courts all look like a big farce. I guess now the judge has seen spirits possessing and leaving a body, why is he not surprised about Chihiro? Oh yeah. Spirits are eternal. Can come back temporarily via medium. Okay. Cool with that. WTF?! As long as you are assertive enough, you can really control the court. Not the judge. Yeah, you be the judge of that. You can fool him all the time if you’re convincing enough.

The biggest slap in the face was my understanding that when you are accused of both crimes and if you are found guilty with a lesser one, you cannot be charged with the other. WTF???!!! Haven’t they heard of the rule of being charged with multiple accounts and crimes?! So they’re saying that if I kill somebody but have no proof to charge me for it and instead charge me with damning evidence that I stole a little boy’s wallet, I cannot be charged for murder? Are they saying I can get away with murder?! Oh my! No wonder we see perpetrators being so confident in courts because they think they can get away with it! And they would if it’s not for that meddling Naruhodo…

Lady luck must be smiling on Naruhodo so many times because he has been freaking lucky to have won all his cases so far. And that lady luck takes the form of Chihiro. Case in point when he lost his memories in the first episode! Damn, he fumbled his way successfully! I dare say he has not lost any cases at all. At least not the very important ones. With his impeccable record, this guy’s reputation would have soared and many would have sought his services. I don’t know about his wealth status but he still looks pretty same. I mean, I don’t really see him riding his bicycle and wearing his mini backpack. But thank goodness his sense of justice is still so great so I suppose he isn’t blinded by money and greed. But overall, Naruhodo mainly remains the same. In the sense that he still panics and looking around thinking hard for clues when the prosecutor corners him. Sometimes Chihiro helps him but more than often, he manages to figure out the contradiction. Yeah, the courts also feel like a big game of objection. This season feels personal since Naruhodo has to deal with his former lover who turns out to be one scheming b*tch whether dead or alive. Thank goodness his sense of justice is strong, eh?

The last time I said Mayoi felt like a useless character. She still is. Still the happy go lucky girl who is always at her own pace and sometimes the way she nonchalantly does things, you can say it might put Naruhodo in jeopardy. If he ever loses a case, there is a good portion that Mayoi is to be blamed. And so Mayoi in this season once more feels like a damsel in distress. Last season she was accused of murder and even kidnapped in that season’s final arc. Now, she went missing and is still accused of murder! Do you not agree with me that trouble should be her middle name? WTF Harumi trying to set up Naruhodo and Mayoi as a couple? I think that would be the greatest disaster ever! Their romance better not happen! Igi ari! I’d rather see the cheesy romance between Itonokogiri and Mako. Hopefully the latter is slowly opening up to this clumsy guy. By the way, since it was the real sweet Ayame that dated Naruhodo, are there chances of them getting back together again? I suppose everyone has moved on. It would have been a different battle and a more complicated one that the law doesn’t cover… ;p.

With Mitsurugi and Mei missing sorely this season, it felt that their temporary return was only so to satisfy fans that they are still around. I mean, these are important characters too, right? Last season saw the rivalry between Naruhodo and Mitsurugi going head to head on opposing sides. This time, Mitsurugi has to abruptly return from his trip to America to side with Naruhodo in a few cases. Yeah, they should already join forces already. At least Mitsurugi had a reason to make his cameo but Mei feels just forced. She was really unnecessary and only for some slight variety. Because if Godot was the prosecutor Naruhodo faced every time, that would be so suspicious. Like as though there are no other prosecutors in the land. Sure, there are but they aren’t as famous or even noteworthy.

Godot as the other new main character, yup another weirdo. Like what I said about almost everything about this season feels related. So Godot is on a grudge mission to defeat Naruhodo because he couldn’t save his junior. That’s very grand of him blaming Naruhodo for something that he could have a slight chance of preventing but how is Godot himself any different? Because for him to let his guard down and got poisoned by Chinami, that says it all. He is no different. Now he looks like some sort of robo knight with those strange visors that supposedly gives him sight. Sure, he finally admitted his mistakes and made his peace with Naruhodo. Was he just playing the villain? Because while I thought of mostly seeing him as one who just wants to get in Naruhodo’s way, but what if all those objections are just a way for him to ‘teach’ Naruhodo to think harder? As I’ve said, Naruhodo still feels like a rookie lawyer and probably that is what pisses Godot off so he has to tell him off he hates his guts for him to improve. I mean, it’s not like Godot is a bad person. Just bitter. Like his coffee. Haha! Oops… Damn, can he still drink coffee in court? Just act a bit tough and scary and the judge will be too afraid to question you. Besides, that other judge we have for ‘variety’, is his brother???!!! Damn, I thought he looks like some bearded troll! Not kidding! Santa guy and troll guy as judges… This is really some f*cked up justice system. Trivial note: I have a theory why Kaminogi chose Godot as his new moniker. As I know kami is Japanese for god. And ki is the general word for tree. Hence, god of tree. God of t. God-of-t. God-o-t. Godot. Geddit?!

This season with Rina Satou helming as the voice of Chinami and Ayame, she really sounds sweet and devilish both at the same time and even depending on which mood she is playing. Next time when I remember her other gentle anime characters like Minami-ke’s Haruka and Sunohara-sou No Kanrinin-san’s Ayaka or her tsundere type character like a certain biribiri character in a certain scientific railgun series, I’d be sure to remember this very devilish and sly character that may send shivers down my spine. And Hiroaki Hirata as Godot, I figured he needs a break once in a while as that Straw Hat Pirates’ cook. As for the art and animation, still weird as usual with some character designs really weird. Like Aiga being some sort of nightmare Pinocchio. And the worst offender of it all: The horrible CGI of the observers.

This season’s first opening theme, Never Lose by Tomohisa Yamashita feels more like some mild techno dance music. Not to say that it is appealing but I guess it is much better than the second opener, Reason also by Tomohisa Yamashita. Because this techno dubstep song sounds so gay! I know the singer’s voice is soft and the first opener also sounds a bit gay but it isn’t as bad as this one. It has gotten bad enough that some of the English words and tune are now stuck in my head!!!! GET IT OUT!!! Even odder, we see all the main characters doing that trademark objection finger pointing pose. IGI ARI!!! MAKE IT STOP!!! Halca sings Starting Blue, the first ending theme. A lively tune with some synthesizer effects. Come to think of it, much better than the gay openings. But I suppose the best one and the biggest shocker is the second ending theme, Beautiful Days by Coala Mode. This is quite a beautiful slow ballad and even though it doesn’t match the frenzy and illogical pace of the series but after all that court madness, I think this is a great song to listen to and wind down.

My overall sentiments for this season mainly still remains the same as last season. Lots of cheesy but fun moments especially how the court systems and the lawyers arguing and duking out feel more like a big showpiece to show how cool you can object. At least they know how to entertain and amuse us with their legal rhetoric and style. Sadly, it wasn’t the contradictions and the truth that awed us ;-). I would want to object to another sequel should the producers decide that another season should be in the works for being an insult to the legal system (heck, like I know anything about it) but I figured my objections would be overruled anyway. Besides, it could be fun to see more igi ari moments from Naruhodo and the bunch of clowns lawyers taking their stand and day in court in the name of justice. Are they making a mockery out of the justice system? Goes to show how complicated the legal system has become. Igi ari!

Here I thought Kujira No Kora Wa Sajou Uta Ni Utau OVA would give some much needed answers and continuation to the TV series. But it turned out to be one of those high school fillers! Damn it. So they just take the characters of the series and put them in some high school setting that only lasts 10 minutes per episode. This isn’t really unique as many animes have done in this in the past. Oh well. Can’t complain. Might as well watch this and get some laughs.

OVA 1
Chakuro is running late for school thanks to his habit of writing down records. Outside school, he sees a new girl standing outside, Lykos. He hears her murmur how much he hates school. When class starts, Shuan introduces Lykos as the new transfer student. Lykos is unable to introduce herself as she claims she has no name. Since ‘Lykos’ is written on her shirt, they assume it is her name. Shuan begins class but starts playing a video. This has the students grumble and complain he should really do his job properly. However Shuan even thinks of tossing away responsibility and work, making the students grumble even more. Later as Chakuro and co try to talk to Lykos, she stays indifferent and continues claiming she hates school. Chakuro can’t let her be and will do something about it. Hence with Suou as the student council president, they take her around school. But they stumble into the delinquent students, Ouni and his gang. It seems their goal is to get out of this school and into the real world. But why is Ouni being studious?! He claims that they don’t know much about the outside world and if they head there without much knowledge or preparation, how long are they going to last? His gang is so touched that they all started studying. So they’re like honour students now?! Seeing them so makes Lykos laugh a little. When the rest see this, Lykos brushes it off and runs away. Chakuro is then visited by a spirit (Neri) who claims that if he doesn’t become friends with Lykos, nothing will change. He vows to do all that. With everything able to see Neri, Chakuro is disheartened that this wasn’t some enlightened moment he thought it was supposed to be. What’s this about Neri being the toilet spirit?! Following Neri’s advice, Chakuro and co hang out and have lots of fun with Lykos. Just when Chakuro thought things are looking up, Lykos then tells him there is something she hasn’t told him yet. She sounds so ominous saying that…

OVA 2
Araphne’s class is strict and forbids freedom and individuality. Therefore when Ryodari tries to break tradition and vouch for freedom, he is punished. Then Orka tries to be a smartass too. He asks how long Araphne has been a teacher. 3 years. Oh yeah? Orka has been a student for 10 years!!! Araphne reprimands him otherwise he will be expelled. Can’t have that so he stands in the hallway with Ryodari. When Lykos sees them, she runs away. Then she reveals the truth to Chakuro. Orka is her brother and that’s why she hates going to school. Yeah, there were rumours circulating how he refused to graduate. Shuan explains the Peter Pan syndrome that Orka doesn’t want to grow up. He understands because he too doesn’t want to work! With Shuan revealing the world is about money and connections, this scares off Lykos. She doesn’t want to be like Orka or Shuan. Damn right. With the marathon festival here, Orka hijacks Suou’s speech to throw down a challenge. It will be their class against each other and the winner gets to take 1 student from the loser’s class. It seems Orka’s aim is to take Ouni but that delinquent will not give up without a fight. Oh, Orka ‘persuaded’ the old fart director to approve this farce. When the race begins, Orka sits out and leaves his class to do all the running. Of course Ryodari plays dirty to stall Chakuro’s class. Then it turns into an ugly brawl. Lykos is touched that her friends are doing this for her. It is hinted Orka never graduated so as to wait for Lykos to reach high school and go to school with her. Siscon!!! It is night fall and Suou thought he is last to reach the finish line. But as pointed out, he is the first! Because the rest take the wrong route, they are now trying to settle it with other ways. All ended in draws. Looks like they’re going to have to go at it again… Chakuro is glad that Lykos now finds school fun.

The Lost Records Of The Mud Whale School
Yeah… It was funny and cute in its own silly way to say the least. Nothing really serious that would have any impact on anything. Especially the ‘mystery’ surrounding Lykos turned out to be nothing more than her big brother with a notorious streak of not graduating. I mean, could she have gone to another school? If you say they are all on the same Mud Whale, I beg to differ since we see the setting as a normal town. A much bigger place and not some limited confine like the real Mud Whale as seen in the TV series. It’s just the school name as Mud Whale. Unless it is the only school in town. But it’s a good thing that Lykos is now joining in the fun despite I don’t really see much of Chakuro doing anything (maybe it’s all in the snippets). It’s only 10 minutes, what do you expect? Chakuro said he will continue to record this high school life but I just wonder if it is just part of his many fantasies. I wonder how many more alternate settings are there. How many are recorded. How many are not recorded at all. Some things are perhaps destined to be forever lost in history and annals of time. That’s why it’s a shame that I feel that despite this OVA being ‘recorded’, in no time it will soon be forgotten…

Persona 5 The Animation

January 13, 2019

From my last Persona blog (heck, it was the only one), I stated that Persona 5 was one of the good games (although not entirely perfect) to have graced 2018 (even though I didn’t play it and heard it mostly from all the hearsay over the internet) and hence why I started my Persona adventure with Persona 4 so that I can watch Persona 5 The Animation. Because I was never familiar with the Persona series, I thought the plot were related but it seems this series is just like the Final Fantasy series and each instalment are not really related in terms of story and characters although the basic setting is somewhat the same. So did I waste time watching Persona 4? Well, I did have some fun watching that prequel and I would at least have an idea of some of the workings of this universe while watching this one.

Episode 1
Ren Amamiya makes his steal as a Phantom Thief. However when he escapes, he gets ambushed by the authorities waiting. He is arrested, drugged and beaten up to spill the beans. Sae Niijima takes over the case and tries to help Ren. She tries to make him remember the events that transpired. The other world and the stolen hearts. Flashback shows when he arrived in town, he noticed a strange app in his phone. Yeah, some strange fire demon! Delete the app. Sorry, it’s still there. His destination is a café run by Soujirou Sakura who leads him to the attic storeroom where he will be staying. It seems Ren ran into trouble with authorities and now has a criminal record. The court transferred him here and his parents agreed (like as though they got rid of a nuisance). Sakura took him in partly because of money and warns the slightest trouble, he will kick him out. He will stay here for a year under probation. That night, he dreams of being in prison. Actually as explained by Igor, this is the Velvet Room and it reflects his heart. This doesn’t bode well for his future and only ruin awaits. Next day he is taken to Shujin Academy where he will begin his schooling. Is it me or does the principal look like Kingpin? On that day there was a subway incident and the first call card from a Phantom Thief. Everyone thought it was a prank but it wasn’t so. The target was the school’s alumnus who was an Olympic medallist and now the school’s gym teacher, Suguru Kamoshida. Ren remembers waiting with Ann Takamaki as she was picked up by Kamoshida. Soon after, he and Ryuuji Sakamoto head to school but they thought they took a wrong turn and entered a strange Palace. Strange knights knock them out and they are imprisoned. They are shocked to see Kamoshida as the king. He didn’t like how Ryuuji insulted him and orders his execution. Ren is so scared that he could only watch helplessly Kamoshida beating up Ryuuji. Before he is killed, Ren’s a voice asks if his actions then were a mistake. Since it wasn’t, Ren now has the resolve. The painful transformation into a Phantom Thief leads to the summoning of his Persona, Arsene.

Episode 2
The duo manage to escape and return to reality. With them being late for school, worse still, Kamoshida starts badmouthing them and there’s nothing they could do about it because it’s partly true. Nobody becomes Ren’s friend due to his reputation and looks like only Ryuuji is his ‘pal’ as they are birds of the same feather. Ren hears rumours to stay away from Ryuuji as he could bring trouble. There are also rumours that Kamoshida uses physical violence on his volleyball club members so Ryuuji wants to use something like that Palace experience to bust him. Well, Ren can bring him there again. That is what that app is for. To go to that alternate Metaverse. Inside the Palace, they see prisoners being tortured. They also free a talking cat, Morgana who tells them more about this place as well as the alter ego of their rebellious side called Persona. They come face to face with Kamoshida but as Morgana explains, this is not the real him but his Shadow, an embodiment of his true dark desires. Kamoshida reveals the truth about Ryuuji’s past. Once in a track club, he used violence against Kamoshida who was supervising the club then and as a result of his actions, dragged his friends into it and caused the disbandment of the track club. Ryuuji accuses him of using violence on them just because he didn’t like them. Ryuuji falls into despair and feels there is no way out of this. Until Ren tells him to stand up and fight did Ryuuji feel something rebellious inside him bursting out. Yup, he has his own Persona too, the pirate Captain Kidd. Even Morgana has his own Persona, Zorro. Together they defeat the guards but when a sexy version of Ann appears, Ren makes the call to retreat. Can’t defeat the king of his Palace in this state? Ryuuji hears out the truth of Ren’s probation. He tried to stop a rape scene and ultimately hurt the rapist who is a top cop. Ren was arrested on false charges as revenge and it didn’t help the victim stayed silent. Ryuuji is touched by his story and his righteousness. They become good friends.

Episode 3
Ren and Ryuuji try to talk about the guys about the abuse but they all brush it off and call it part of training. They think of talking to the girls then so they approach Ann and her friend, Shiho Suzui. However Ann refuses to allow them and doesn’t want her friend further involved. Later Ren overheard Ann on the phone with Kamoshida. It seems he is threatening to cut Shiho from the volleyball team if she doesn’t go out with her. Ann realizes Ren is eavesdropping and although doesn’t like it, pours out her troubles. From her story, it is definitely Kamoshida using Ann with the excuse to get Shiho a place in the team. Hence the rumours about them dating are somewhat true. Ren and Ryuuji are shocked that Morgana can enter this real world but in the form of a real cat. A talking cat! He tells them to use the Palace to ‘reform’ Kamoshida. However there is a risk and they might end up killing the real Kamoshida. The guys might not like that guy but they don’t want him dead either. They try to find another way when suddenly Shiho jumps off the school building! Well, she survived. Though in coma. At this point, Ryuuji confronts Yuuki Mishima of the volleyball club because he was the one who was seen with Shiho, asking her to see Kamoshida. They confront the jerk but they have no evidence of his abuse. Worse, Kamoshida will have them all expelled soon. This calls for desperate measures. Time to head into the Palace. Morgana explains how the Palace connects to one’s heart. So if they make it disappear, Kamoshida will become a good guy and even confess to his sins because he cannot bear the weight of the guilt. Good news, he won’t remember them doing this. Bad news, if they rid of the wrong emotions or everything in its entirety, he will die. However the Palace is on alert as the real Ann strayed into it and got captured. Shadow Kamoshida threatens to kill her as Ann falls into despair upon learning she will take the blame if Shiho dies. Time for Ren to work his magical words. Is she giving up? Do you not want him to pay for Shiho? And with that, Ann revives. A Persona of her own, Carmen. Whipping woman destroys the Shadows although Shadow Kamoshida escapes again. The quartet return to reality as they form a team to solve this case and exchange contacts.

Episode 4
Call cards are placed all over school indicating Kamoshida will confess to his crimes. Sorry, Ryuuji. Nobody is appreciative of your designs. Of course that gym bastard isn’t happy with this and suspects our heroes. But he believes this will not get far as they will be expelled. The quartet make some preparations before storming into the Palace. It seems they must steal the treasure which is the core to be successful. It has a time limit so they must be fast. Infiltrating the Palace, they need t a key to stop the traps. So happen this guard has this weird key (makes it stand out?). The guard turns into a fairy. It seems nice to them until she realizes she isn’t part of Kamoshida and drifted in the sea of human hearts. From now on, Pixie decides to live inside them. More accurately, Ren. In the throne room, it is not easy to steal the crown treasure as Shadow Kamoshida has got it heavily guarded. He transforms into his monster form to fight them. Ren got knocked out by an attack. This takes him to the Velvet Room where Igor agrees to help him. Yup, he is given a new Persona. With this, Ren fights back and Ryuuji knocks off the Shadow’s crown. Weakened and cornered, the Shadow begs for mercy. He gives excuse he was pressured to live up to expectations but Ann is not impressed. He gave in to his selfish desires and took everyone’s dreams away. She wants to kill him now but this will not prove his crimes. She wants him to admit and atone them. With that, the Shadow admits his loss and will do as she says. Time to get out before the Palace crumbles. Back in reality, Kamoshida shockingly admits all the wrongdoings. He wants to atone by killing himself but Ann tells him not to run. There were so many things Shiho pretended not to see before she jumped. All of them have to live with that regret. Kamoshida obediently agrees and will surrender himself to the police. The friends are delighted this worked well and the best news of all, Shiho has woke up.

Episode 5
Goro Akechi is a famous high school detective. Yeah, he’s handsome to boot too. I guess that’s why girls are approaching him and some asking about the Phantom Thieves case popping up in their school. Meanwhile our Phantom Thieves trio are splurging at the buffet. Kamoshida’s treasure turned into some gold medal that they sold for quite a sum. Even if it’s fake. But at the buffet, they stumble into impatient people and those who quickly blame them despite not in the wrong. This has them think the world is filled with such adults. You only realize that now? Hence they get excited to form a group to cleanse them like how they did for Kamoshida. Yup, they’re calling themselves The Phantoms and Ren is their leader. They even have cool nicknames like Joker (Ren), Skull (Ryuuji) and Panther (Ann). Mishima has somewhat created a website for Phantom Thieves called Phansite as apology for his actions. There are lots of people putting encouraging words as well as those putting in requests. So they try to take up a request like this stalker case. Morgana leads them into Mementos. Consider this alternate dimension a public version of a Palace. So it’s like a subway? And Morgana can turn into a bus? Did they take inspiration of this from Totoro? They find their way to the stalker, Natsuhiko Nakanohara who is upset he is only being persecuted while the other party gets away. But after a while, Nakanohara gives up. Just like that? His change of heart allows new passages to open up in Mementos. Morgana explains he has no memories of his origins. Trying to investigate this made him lost in Kamoshida’s Palace. He believes solving this mystery would return him to his original human form. The gang gets motivated as they lay down more ground rules for how they should operate. Ren helps out at Sakura’s café. Sae and Akechi come in as customers. Later the Phantom trio have a feeling of being tailed. Could it be Akechi? Morgana warns them to be careful as they are now leading double lives. When they smoke out the culprit… Who the f*ck is this gloomy dude?

Episode 6
Yuusuke Kitagawa has been taken in by Ann’s beauty ever since he laid his eyes on her. As the pupil of art maestro Ichiryusai Madarame, he wants her to be his model. Expecting something else? They are given free tickets to his art exhibit this weekend. Madarame sounds like a nice and mature guy. Yuusuke shows Ann around but there is one artwork he tries to steer her away and even though she praises how good it is, he doesn’t seem happy. Later on the Phansite, there is a rumour circulating about a certain artist plagiarizing his student’s works and taking full credit for it. Also, he abuses them physically. They pay a visit to his shack to confirm with Yuusuke about the rumours but he vehemently protests. Even Madarame is polite and humble answering this and allows them in. In Yuusuke’s room, he shows them Madarame’s maiden art of Sayuri (why do I feel is the Japanese version of Mona Lisa?) that swayed him to take up arts. Also, Yuusuke had no relatives and Madarame took him in as his own. You could see why he is indebted to him. Our gang is about to drop this case thinking the rumour is a dud but then the app resonates. Could there be another Palace at this place? Might as well check it out. It is a huge museum and as Phantom sneak in, they see several portraits. One of them being Nakanohara. Conveniently they hear the monologue of Shadow Madarame that he really steals his students’ works. Because they flee, he breaks them so as they won’t defy him. As for the only student left, he will work him until he dies. They again confront Yuusuke about this and Yuusuke once again doesn’t like them accusing his master. Though, he did admit his master is in a slump and offered his works to help him out. So that isn’t plagiarism? He kicks them out and doesn’t want to see them again. Back home, Ren gets a message from Mishima that Nakanohara wants to meet a Phantom to help solve this problem of changing someone’s heart. Incognito, Ren meets Nakanohara who reveals he was a student of Madarame. Not only he stole their works but takes full credit for it. There was another student too but he committed suicide. He doesn’t want this to happen to the last student remaining. He asked if it was painful to stay with Madarame and was told he wanted to leave if he could. So it’s no surprise Phantom is going to set things straight.

Episode 7
So did Yuusuke allow Ann back in just because she agreed to do the nude? While investigating, they find a strange door inside the museum that had to be unlocked in the real world (which is inside Madarame’s house). This might contain Madarame’s dark secrets. And hence Ann ‘agreed’ to do the nude. No wonder she is wearing so many layers of clothes. This is to buy time for Morgana to pick the lock. Seriously, a cat’s paw trying to pick a lock? No wonder it’s going to take time. So when he is done, Madarame just got back. Inside are all Madarame’s paintings and the most shocking ones are duplicates of Sayuri. Madarame claims he went into a slump after the original one got lost and started painting copies in hopes of regaining his former self. But then they uncover the real one. Yuusuke can tell it is so because he studied the art very well and this was the painting that inspired him to walk this path. Madarame threatens to call security. Good timing for them to fall into the Metaverse. Yuusuke is in shock and refuses to believe at first until Shadow Madarame pops up and rants like a true villain of his evildoings. Yup, he created false rumours of Sayuri being stolen so he could sell copies to the rich. It’s all about money. The kicker has got to be when Madarame reveals he took Yuusuke in not because of the goodness of his heart but to nurture his talents and milk him like a cash cow. Yuusuke is so disillusioned that with this realization he summons his own Persona, Goemon. After a short fight, Shadow Madarame escapes. The rest don’t want to give chase because even if they defeat this Shadow, it will not change a thing. That will only happen when they steal his treasure. Back in reality, Yuusuke talks to them of his dilemma. He is now kicked out of Madarame’s house and has nowhere to go. Although this looks like the case of biting the hand that feeds you, now that Yuusuke’s eyes are opened, he wants to pursue the truth and expose Madarame’s wrongdoings. So let’s welcome the newest member of Phantom.

Episode 8
Calling cards are left everywhere to announce their steal. As Phantom prepares to steal the treasure, Shadow Madarame has it heavily guarded. Everywhere except from the top! Yeah, just do a Mission Impossible and run! Too bad this treasure is fake as Shadow Madarame smoked them out. But he made the fatal mistake of showing them the real treasure. The original picture of Sayuri. It is slightly different as the woman is holding the baby. Shadow Madarame’s blabber mouth has him reveal Yuusuke’s mom was his student and she was the original painter of this picture. The baby here is of course Yuusuke. His mom had a frail body and had a seizure before Madarame. He thought of stealing her works and let her die. Yuusuke’s talent was a blessing and that’s when it dawned to him it is better to rob future brats of their works who don’t talk back. He transforms into a monster that shoots ink that weakens you upon contact. Solution? Splash it back at him! The weakened Shadow pleads for his life as usual but Yuusuke won’t kill him and tells him to end all this and use his own art for once. In reality, Madarame makes a tearful confession of his wrongdoings all on camera. The public is abuzz not because of this confession but rather Phantom has struck again. As Yuusuke can’t stay in Madarame’s place or the dorms (because lack creativity), he wants to stay with Ann! WTF?! Did he decide on that himself?! Morgana suggests living at Sakura’s place. That old dude easily agrees because another troublemaker doesn’t make any difference. The friends celebrate with their own mini party. Yuusuke wants to know about their past since they know about his. Ryuuji tells of his dream to join a track scholarship to ease his single mom (dad left the family went he was young). Then the incident of using violence over Kamoshida. Mom was called and all the teachers were against her. She sat there quietly and Ryuuji cannot forget that look on her face when she apologized. As for Ren, I guess it is too long a story so we won’t hear it now. Everyone agrees all of them had it rough and perhaps that’s why they came together. They make a vow to bring corrupt adults to justice and go as far as they can. Next day, Yuusuke decides to leave and stay at the dorms as he realized what he needs is more human interaction. He leaves the Sayuri painting at the café as thanks.

Episode 9
Although Phantom has been gaining more popularity, there are some still sceptical of their motives. Ryuuji finds a tantalizing maid service poster in his box and has Ren and Mishima join in on this ‘maid research’ (it is to let loose some steam since they need to study to avoid their grades dropping and hence people suspecting them of being Phantom). I WANT IN TOO!!!! Because Ryuuji’s next door neighbour at the dorm has moved out, it is the perfect place to call for maid service. So when they do so, Ryuuji and Mishima chicken out and leave Ren to face with the cute maid calling. But Ren recognizes that voice. Isn’t Becky his homeroom teacher, Sadayo Kawakami? While she is being a cute maid (F*CK!!! I WANT TO SWITCH WITH YOU, REN!!!!), Ren manages to keep his face hidden. I guess Ren didn’t want any service (WTF????!!!) so Becky is about to leave and frustrated Ryuuji (you tell him!) almost screamed and Becky thought she heard a recognizable voice. That is when she sees Ren’s face. She admits the truth and thinks he heard this from their other teacher, Chouno. Since this will be bad for both of them, she hopes this incident will be forgotten. Ren later tells Morgana of this and of course the cat is surprised his teacher is moonlighting. They wonder if Kawakami has a bad relationship with Chouno. Seeing which, Chouno is reprimanding Kawakami about not attending meetings. Ren goes to ‘help’ her under pretence he needs some questions answered. Chouno immediately believes Kawakami has been avoiding meetings to help her students. Because Ryuuji still has problems with his fellow track members who are trying to form a new track team, Ren calls for that maid service again. This time at his place but only after Sakura closes his café. He tells her about Ryuuji’s case of why he punched Kamoshida as his mother was insulted. Now Kawakami understands Ryuuji’s case better. She informs the new track team’s advisor is to be Yamauchi who was close to Kamoshida. Ren goes to spy on Yamauchi who seems to be doing some shady stuffs like leaking info on students that Kamoshida told him before. Because of that, the track students gang up on a supposed traitor but Ryuuji steps in to quell all that by showing his forgiving side. He has put that Kamoshida’s past behind him because the worst part is not having a place to belong to but to lie to yourself and be a crappy person. He must be so confident that he offers to be punched to make them feel better. Yeah, he didn’t expect them to take up the offer. Did he specify how many punches per person? No hard feelings but they’re even now. Later as Ren and Kawakami talk, she updates him that the new advisor will be a former track coach coming back after the track members told this to Chouno who used her influence to stop Yamauchi from becoming the new advisor.

Episode 10
The class is invited as guests to a TV station where they watch Akechi being interviewed. He talks about Phantom needing to be put on trial because they are taking the law into their own hands (even though exposing the villain is another matter). Had they believe in real justice, they should not be doing what they’re doing now. But the issue at hand is how they change people’s hearts. Was it forcefully? If they have that ability, there is a possibility they might use it to commit crimes. Of course our Phantom friends continue to believe in their own justice and will do things their way. Meanwhile, Makoto Niijima, the student council president has been tasked to find the identities of Phantom by the principal. She is disillusioned since she was never told why and not to further question. However she targets Ren and his groupie as they are gathering suspiciously. She confronts them after thinking they have some trouble and she could hear them out. Ann distrusts her because of Shiho’s case in which the council didn’t do anything. Likewise, Makoto throws it back to her as Shiho’s closest friend, she didn’t do anything either. Their views on justice clash. But after school, Makoto summons Ren. Ren has no choice but to bring her to meet the other Phantom members. It seems she has a recording that proves their identities as Phantom. But she will not report them and wants to make a deal. In exchange for deleting this, she wants them to show the justice they speak of. She wants them to change the heart of a local yakuza leader who scams and blackmails people. He also uses his men to force students hanging out in the alleys of Shibuya to be drug mules. Makoto and Ren test this out and the rumours are true. Because Makoto won’t give a name, the rest think of a way to get so. The internet and media won’t help. They remember the journalist, Ichiko Ooya who was trying to snoop around Madarame’s case. Ren goes to meet her and in exchange for a name, she wants to interview students who were abused under Kamoshida’s reign of terror. After suggesting Mishima, the name he is looking for is Junya Kaneshiro. Now they’ve got a name, they need to look for his Palace. It’s ‘easy’ to find because that guy considers the entire Shibuya as his source of income. Yup, the entire Shibuya is his warped Palace. Not to mention that high tower mansion right smack in the middle.

Episode 11
Akechi wants to talk to Makoto about the Phantom Thieves but she is reluctant. Flashback shows her father was an upright officer but was targeted and killed in the line of duty. Hence it is a lot of stress for her sister, Sae who is working as a prosecutor. Because Makoto asks if their father would have sided with the Phantom Thieves as they make the bad confess their crimes, Sae snaps at her about being useless. Makoto goes to bug Phantom to see if there are any updates. Since useless is her taboo word and they find her pushy, she tries to prove a point by taking a risky action by meeting Kaneshiro’s goons and forcing them to bring her to them. Funny, they never check if she is using her handphone to record their conversation? Makoto meets Kaneshiro but is quickly outwitted when he knows what she is doing. It gets worse when Phantom come by. As they are in a bar, Kaneshiro takes a snapshot of them and threatens to send it to their school. If they threaten him or report to the police, he will ruin them and their families. Plus, he gives 3 million yen to his girl as excuse to relieve his stress and wants them to pay up or else. He lets them go as Makoto tells about her desperate case and situation. She realizes and admits she is useless. Morgana has an idea as they have become Kaneshiro’s ‘customers’, it is easier to access his Palace. They bring Makoto in so I guess it saves a lot of time explaining since she is a smart girl. Shadow Kaneshiro offers them to use their bodies to pay off their debt. Because he runs his mouth of wanting to make Sae his personal slave and then abandon her when he is done, this irks Makoto so much that she summons her Persona. Uhm, Johanna is a bike so that makes Makoto a hot badass biker girl?! A few kickass moments before they have to escape because security is tightening and now that they know how to access here, they’ll come back to steal his treasure next time. Back in reality, Makoto finds the irony of joining Phantom when she was supposed to investigate about them in the first place. It might look awkward between the sisters now since they are on opposing sides but she is confident normal investigations won’t reach this Metaverse.

Episode 12
in between trying to find the location of the treasure, we see Ann sincerely apologizing to Makoto for blaming her during the Kamoshida incident and they both call it even and become friends. Girl power when they both kick ass that it makes the guys shiver. Also, with Makoto being a bit socially awkward, Ren helps her to blow off some steam via hanging out. So when they have finally found the treasure, it has not materialized yet and must put forth the calling card so as to materialize it because the perpetrator will sense some danger to it and hence protect it. Phantom confront Shadow Kaneshiro as he turns into uhm, rapper fly monster?! Here’s his iron piggy vault. Cybertron? Piggytron?! Phantom cooperate to take down the Shadow and as usual, he confesses about all he wanted was a place of belonging and hence money was the only thing he has. But to take advantage of others? Looks like the place he will belong is the prison. However Kaneshiro warns them of another person who can enter Metaverse and taking advantage of it by doing what he wants. A person wearing a black mask who is more powerful than all of them. Back in reality, Phantom thought they have 30 million yen as reward from the treasure. Turns out to be fake money. Soon Kaneshiro calls Makoto to erase the debt and picture before turning himself to the authorities. Makoto presents her findings to the principal in which he is unhappy she finds Phantom as just. She resigns from this job. Back home, Makoto learns Sae isn’t happy despite Kaneshiro being caught. Because he confessed, nobody could take credit for his downfall and there goes her chance for promotion. Makoto thinks she has changed.

Episode 13
Some politicians have been arrested but it isn’t the work of Phantom. It is thanks to Akechi. Akechi visits Sakura’s café and talks to Ren. Again their opinions of Phantom clash as Akechi is still suspicious of Phantom’s methods. Yuusuke is in a slump so he seeks Ren’s help to find inspiration. He wants Ren to be his bodyguard as he finds his inspiration in Mementos. When he submits his work for competition, however Akio Kawanabe the director of the Japanese Art Support Foundation calls it mediocre and empty. But later he apologizes for his comments because he was hoping to give him some sort of motivation. Knowing Yuusuke is in a slump due to financial restraints, he is willing to provide materials and even a studio for his creativity to run wild. However Yuusuke realizes the catch that his art sells because of his good looks and this is not what he wants. Yuusuke will not allow this to taint his pride and the deal ends here. Later Ren is confronted by Akechi who has been doing some investigations after Madarame’s case. It seems Kawanabe is a shady person himself as he was friends with Madarame. After having young budding artists into a shady contract, he extorts them to cover costs of exhibits, etc. It would be a shame if Yuusuke falls into this trap again. But how is this related to Phantom? Because with such crimes, Phantom will no doubt move. As a detective he wants to nab this first and requires Ren’s help since he has no solid evidence. Ren agrees to help. So Ren finds himself juggling between helping Yuusuke finds his inspiration and Akechi solving the case but often hits a dead end as Akechi cannot trace where the money went. When Yuusuke hears the other Phantom members about their opinions on art, Yuusuke has his eyes open further. He realizes he will now draw to give hope to others. Next time when Ren sees Kawanabe and asks about several companies (supposedly where the money went), Kawanabe isn’t sure what he is talking about. The culprit turns out to be his secretary as Akechi nabs him before he could destroy the documents. Yuusuke enters another competition and wins it. Even Kawanabe admits he deserves to win. His provocation was to encourage Yuusuke. Admitting he was friends with Madarame, but they both had a fall out. Kawanabe offers to give him financial support with no strings but Yuusuke declines citing he has friends who will guide him if he is lost.

Episode 14
Now that Sae has heard what Ren says, it has become personal and believes in Phantom’s form of justice. We see Phantom change the heart of an online stalker. Although this episode sees how Mishima got screwed after meeting Ichiko in her drunk state (Ren’s answer to his grumbles: Off the handphone! Best function ever) and Yuusuke realizing it is hard to cut off Madarame totally even though he is scum because he is still family (for he raised him), the big bulk goes to Makoto still trying to find her place and expand her horizon as she hangs out more with Ren. In some shady parts of town, she inadvertently becomes friends with a fellow schoolmate who is moonlighting in this part of town, Eiko Takao. Makoto knows very well she is being scammed by her host club boyfriend, Tsukasa. Very much evident when she starts asking to borrow money. Makoto is bent on opening her eyes because it somewhat relates to her father’s death. He was investigating a syndicate preying on young girls when the accident happened. Despite the ‘proof’ Tsukasa only sees Eiko as an ATM as he cannot remember her name, Eiko still refuses to believe. And then Makoto slaps her to tell her she knows the truth but refuses to accept it. She complains she has nobody else. Only Tsukasa looks at her. With complaints about a certain host club guy scamming girls flooding Phansite, time for Phantom to move in as we cut to the chase to see them defeat Shadow Tsukasa. Eiko now finds her place with her friendship with Makoto. Makoto thanks Ren for everything as now she has finally decided how to live her life. She will become a police and help the weak like her father. Although the irony is that she is a Phantom Thief now. So uhm, she is going to catch herself?

Episode 15
An international hacker group, Medjed claims that Phantom is evil and want to bring them to justice. However they offer them to join their side and if they reject, the hammer of justice will find them. Of course Phantom is suspicious and unsure to take this seriously. Further info on Medjed shows they aren’t as just as they claim since they hack corporate info and use them as blackmail. In class, a strange phenomenon occurs. Everybody’s handphone except Ren’s start ringing for a short while. Back home, Ren gets a message from the perpetrator of this prank, Alibaba. Alibaba knows everything there is about Phantom and has a job for them. There is a certain person whose heart needs to be changed and in exchange, will do something about Medjed. Ren shows this to the rest and of course they are shocked. It is possible that Alibaba hacked their accounts since their chats are mostly online. Makoto advises to do important chats face to face. When Ren returns, there is a letter addressed to him. It is supposedly a calling card from Alibaba. However Alibaba seems not to be aware of the procedures and the things they need to know in order to steal hearts. First they require the target’s name. After thinking for a while, Alibaba says the target is Futaba Sakura. Alibaba wants them to do it now and threatens to expose them to public otherwise. As more info like keywords and Palace are needed, Alibaba thinks they are dodging the issue. After thinking, Alibaba decides to call off the case and will not expose them. Don’t pursue this any further. This leaves Phantom confused and unsatisfied. They ponder if Futaba is somewhat related to Sakura.

When Ren returns, he hears Sae threatening Sakura about some custody revoking thingy if he refuses to divulge some information. Something about abuse and domestic court and everything is in his favour if he just cooperates. Ren tries to ask but he is no mood to tell. The rest of Phantom is further puzzled because they think Futaba might be Sakura’s child and she is the one abusing him? Otherwise why change her heart? After all, they can’t imagine Sakura being an abuser. Moody and rude maybe but not an abuser. That night, entire Shibuya area has a blackout. Next day, Medjed claims responsibility on this. They claim Phantom has failed to respond and give them a last chance. Otherwise they will attack Japan via this method. It is possible that everyone will blame Phantom for this but as Ren notes if they give in, their justice will fail. Thinking if they could contact Alibaba again, Makoto reads again the chat. Could it be that Alibaba is Futaba? Needing more information, they head to Sakura’s house (since the café is closed). Good thing it is raining because it’s an excuse to barge into the seemingly dark house for refuge. Then the lights go out and they hear a scream. Makoto is most afraid as she clings on to Ren. Cheesy jump scare moment as Makoto meets eye with the ‘scary thing’. Don’t worry. Just Futaba. But so scared that they both screamed. Hilarious?

Episode 16
Futaba runs back to her hiding and Sakura just came back. Sakura feels it is time to explain things. Futaba is the daughter of an acquaintance. Her mom, Wakaba raised her as a single parent but is always busy with work. One day she killed herself before Futaba’s eyes and Sakura ended up taking custody of her. It was hard at first but slowly she opened up. However a few months back, she started getting scared and locked herself in, claiming she heard voices of mom looking at her. Investigating further, it is confirmed Futaba is indeed Alibaba and does have her own Palace. They try to talk to her outside her room (although, more like online chatting) but she believes her room is her tomb that she will die in. This is the keyword that takes them to her Palace. A huge Egyptian pyramid. It seems Phantom are not in their usual uniform since Futaba does not see them as the enemy. Inside, they see Shadow Futaba as the pharaoh queen. They also hear voices blaming Futaba as her mom’s killer. Shadow Futaba believes her mom is here and will die here. After she disappears, Phantom transforms into their uniform, a sign indicating she has considered them the enemy. Because of Futaba’s unstable state of mind, she leads Phantom deeper into the tomb and they almost get killed by traps. They see movies leading up to Wakaba’s death. Futaba blamed herself for wanting attention as she always had to eat alone but brushed her off citing work. In the final room where her treasure lies, Shadow Futaba says they need the real Futaba’s permission for it to open. Shadow Futaba appears before the real Futaba, asking her if she intends to blame and shut herself forever. Is she going to avert her eyes to the truth forever? If so, she will kill Phantom in the real world. Ren and co try to get permission to enter her room. They enter but she remains in hiding in her closet. After convincing her to trust them, she jumps out in awkward fashion, pleading them to steal her heart.

Episode 17
Apparently Futaba got the wrong idea about stealing her heart this way. Back into the closet. They leave their calling card before returning to the Metaverse. After Futaba reads it, it is like the permission Phantom need to proceed beyond the locked room. They face off with a sphinx with Wakaba’s face. As pointed out, this isn’t a Shadow but just Futaba’s cognition. Futaba cannot stand hearing those accusing voices as she barges out of the room and stumbles into the Metaverse and hence her Palace. With the accusations continuing, basically her Shadow is lecturing her that she knows the truth all along but continued to be in denial. She blames herself for existing, hence taking Wakaba’s precious time away from her research that would eventually result in her death. All the accusations are just excuses to justify why mom died. Once she has gotten over it, time for Futaba to get her own Persona. Uhm, tentacle rape into a UFO?! She creates cool weapons for Phantom to use against the sphinx until they defeat it. After it is over, the real Wakaba appears. The kind mother she has always been. They reconcile and Futaba moves on. As for her treasure, it is empty and Morgana deduces Futaba herself is the treasure. Back in reality, Futaba is fine but fast asleep. No major injuries. Just tired. Hey, this is commendable for a shut-in who just expended considerably a lot of energy! Sakura is so grateful he gives the gang tickets to Skytree. Enjoy yourself because today is also apparently the day Medjed will hack Japan. Nothing happens… When Ren returns, he sees Sae leaving. Sakura lets him know she is here to find out about Wakaba’s research. With a click of a button, Futaba hacks Medjed’s website and it’s all over the news! So easy?! Futaba explains she is the original founder of Medjed. Because she used her anonymity, others started using that moniker for themselves. She didn’t stop them because it was growing to be bothersome and let them be. She tossed away that name and now goes by Alibaba. In short, Medjed is probably a loose organization filled with weaklings. On to something more serious, Futaba believes her mom wasn’t killed in an accident but murdered. She wants Ren help bring the perpetrator to justice.

Episode 18
Futaba is invited to join Phantom and she doesn’t hesitate to say yes. Because Futaba’s social skills are still awkward, the friends take turn to hang out with her. Enough for her to ‘graduate’ to hang out at the beach. I guess it’s time we need our beach episode. At the end of the day, Futaba opens up more on her mom. She was into cognitive pscience. In short, she was researching a theory relating to the Metaverse about the other cognitive world that affects one’s behaviour in reality. Thinking she was trapped in that labyrinth and there was nothing she could do about it, that’s why she sought Phantom to steal her heart. Wakaba didn’t throw herself onto an oncoming car but rather she collapsed. Futaba tried to research and hacked online to find more about mom’s work but none was found. Like as though she never existed. Hence her reason to join Phantom is to find her mom’s killer rather than changing hearts. The rest don’t mind since she is one good hacker. Perhaps Futaba still has a long way to go to be independent socially. She thought she could hang out by herself at the mall but started to panic and freeze. If not for Ren and Ryuuji passing by, she could have cried until kingdom come. With Futaba joining them in Metaverse, it seems Mementos is growing bigger the more people love them. Their reputation skyrocketed after the Medjed incident. Sakura opens up to Ren about his regret that Wakaba told him she felt that she was going to die. Had he taken her more seriously, it wouldn’t have happened. Hence taking in Futaba was his form of redemption. But it looks like Futaba is not the only one having current problems. Ann got setup by a fellow model and her role usurped by her while Morgana starts having anxiety about being a cat. A cat has worries?! I guess this proves Morgana could be very much a human before.

Episode 19
Futaba gives Makoto a special USB that can bypass all passwords to copy whatever computer she inserts in. Thus Makoto uses it to download Sae’s investigation data. Meanwhile our gang is on a school trip to Hawaii! Aloha! Nothing really much going on here except them having fun like they should. An incident of Ren saving Hifumi Togo, a pro shogi player from American guys who want to flirt with her. Also, Ann got shut out of her own room so she had to sleep in Ren and Ryuuji’s room that makes it all so awkward. Meanwhile the principal is panicking as whoever is sponsoring him decides to cut ties. It doesn’t help when the media is trying to hound the school about Phantom ever since Kamoshida’s case. When the gang returns from Hawaii, they hear the principal has been killed in a street accident. We have seen that he has been hypnotized to the state of a mental shutdown that it made it look like he committed suicide. Of course no students sympathized with the principal’s death since it is an open secret he tried to cover up Kamoshida’s case. However the odd thing is that everyone now thinks this is Phantom’s doing and they are resorting to killing. Futaba reveals some of her findings of Sae’s investigation. Kunikazu Okumura, the CEO of Okumura Foods seems to be benefiting the most from the recent cases of scandals and competitors resigning. There are rumours that those around him have mental shutdown. Morgana and Ryuuji want to quickly take this guy down but the rest don’t want to rush in and do more investigations first. This leads to the group being split and oddly Morgana and Ryuuji getting into a heated debate. Morgana will take on this job himself. Too bad he fails. I guess no cat is an island. Meanwhile Sae and Akechi are in desperate need to turn around their reputations as the people still side with Phantom than them.

Episode 20
Morgana has a new Phantom Thief partner? Thanks to Futaba’s hacking, she manages to easily find keywords to access Okumura’s Palace. They see robots being worked to the bone and if they fail, they are thrown away. Then here pops up Morgana and his partner, uhm, Beauty Thief? At first they thought she is the culprit as she wears a black mask but after lots of bloopers between the cat and her, it looks more like one big goofy uncoordinated act. They have to flee when security arrives. Ren and co quickly deduce that Haru is the one behind Beauty Thief and she is Okumura’s daughter. It seems everybody has a lot to say about her father and hence she entered his Palace to find out the real him. That is when she stumbled into Morgana and they become a pair. When they offer to help her, she rejects them because they couldn’t even do anything to help Morgana. When Haru returns, it seems her father just finished making some calls that would allow him to enter the political foray. He wants her to get more acquainted with Sugimoto, the son of a politician whom she will marry just to advance his political goal. Yup, that’s what father shamelessly said. Phantom meets Morgana in the Metaverse in hopes of mending their relationship. It looks like everything is heading for the better until Ryuuji overdone it by saying that taboo word of useless. Back to square one. Sugimoto comes to pick up Haru (father approved putting GPS on her!). He doesn’t like her hanging around this parts and needs to teach her a lesson to avoid a scandal. But wouldn’t this cause a scandal? Morgana tries to bite him but got kicked. Ouch. Morgana’s cries must be so loud that Ren and co could actually hear and rush to the spot! Not wanting further commotion, he lets her go but will report this to her father. Back at Ren’s place, they nurse Morgana but the cat still wants to go his own way after viewing himself as a burden. When Haru asks why he wants to become human, Morgana says it is his reason to stay. Not being part of Phantom means having no place to belong. He wants to stay here forever. I’m sure the friends don’t need any reason for him to stay. And with more cheesy friendship assurance, Phantom is back as a whole. Haru also takes this chance to be honest as she blurts out how she hates that Sugimoto creep. And everyone has a good laugh. But more woes for Haru as her father has been indicted and he unofficially puts her in Sugimoto’s care.

Episode 21
Haru tells her friends about the forced marriage. As to why her father became ruthless and cold hearted, the trigger is believed to go way back to when grandpa was still the company’s president. However he still run small cafes and prioritized the customers’ smile. Sometimes he even gave free food. Because of that, the shop closed down after losing revenue and he passed away shortly. Her dad started prioritizing profits after he took over. They venture into the Palace to see Shadow Okumura. Uhm, a space alien robot Dracula? He blatantly gives Shadow Sugimoto the permission to do whatever he wants to Haru so long he gets his foothold in politics. Shadow Sugimoto transforms into a robot to fight them. I suppose this part is necessary because Haru needs to awaken her Persona, Milady to kick ass. Returning to reality, the friends ask one last time if she really wants to go ahead with this because once her dad changes heart, there will be lawsuits and she will be branded as a criminal’s daughter. She doesn’t mind all that. When Okumura receives a calling card, he is not cowed and instead goes to the police. Phantom enters the Palace to steal his treasure. Shadow Okumura gives Haru one last chance to join him and of course she won’t, Phantom as usual combine their Persona powers to take him down. Shadow Okumura becomes very remorseful for his wrongdoings. However he isn’t the one behind the mental shutdowns and merely requested to eliminate competitions. Before they can grill him further, the Palace crumbles. But it is a guy in black mask that kills off Shadow Okumura. In the aftermath, Okumura becomes withdrawn and shuts himself in his room. The friends celebrate this success at the amusement park. Originally the company booked it for its employees but cancelled due to the scandal. Since no refund, might as well enjoy themselves. Yeah, the whole park to themselves. Conveniently it is time for Okumura’s live press conference. He confesses abusing his workers and everything. But before he gets to the important part, suddenly he bleeds black ink and collapses?! WTF?! Oh sh*t! Meanwhile Sae has become more engrossed and obsessed in nabbing Phantom and she thinks the recent incidents will be her ticket to glory.

Episode 22
Okumura is dead. Doom and gloom. Ren and co are feeling sad but it gets worse. Just when they ponder if they are responsible for Okumura’s death, people are now turning against Phantom and posting that they are criminals. People’s allegiance are so fragile thanks to the internet. Meanwhile Sae has been entrusted with the position to solve this Phantom Thieves case by her senior. It is a big job and she goes into overdrive mode to work hard (despite she is already overworked herself) as she views this as her big promotion chance. The police even starts interrogating students from Shujin and Futaba’s hacking shows that somebody used the Medjed’s name to hack into the Phansite to make it Okumura as the top target for them. Hence, the culprit had planned to blame them from the start. They literally danced into his palm for the last couple of months. For now they must lie low. Mishima is displeased with all this so he shows Ren a photo of an up and coming actor. He is cocky so he hopes Phantom could do something about this dude and restore their reputation. Ren is such a good listener that a chance meeting with Hifumi has them becoming shogi friends. She hears out what he wants to say. So as not to be all doom and gloom, Shiho even thanks Ren for all the encouragement he and Ann gave her. When Phansite makes a big announcement that anyone who attacks Phantom will be punished, it’s time for Phantom to head into Mementos to confront Mishima’s Shadow because Ren can tell it is Mishima’s cry for help. In short, he is jealous he too wanted to be noticed and be a hero. He wants them to change his heart but Ren tells him not to quit and face himself. Yeah, they just left like that. In reality, Mishima feels so much better. He doesn’t want to shut down Phansite as long as there are voices crying out for their help. On a bright note, he has also started writing a documentary on Phantom to record all their doings. He will always support them.

Episode 23
For the school’s cultural festival, it seems the students voted unanimously for Akechi to be their special guest. They’re tired of the constant police surveillance and interrogation and want this princely detective to help out. At first Makoto thought they should lie low and not attract any attention but then decide if they are going to need police intel, might as well try to talk to him via this panel. Recently Akechi who was suspicious of Phantom now seems to be supporting them as if gives his interviews on TV. A day before his supposed appearance, he visits the school grounds just to check out. This ‘funny’ scene where he ate a spicy takoyaki and he became so comical! WTF?! Abort mission. Time to go home. At the panel, the students quickly ask if Phantom was behind the murder of their principal. Quickly, Akechi dismissed that Phantom would murder and in fact he knows their identity. A well timed phone call has him take a break. But this is part of his plan to call Ren and co to discuss. He knows they are Phantom as he has photo evidence of them ‘disappearing’ into Metaverse. He knows they are not the kind to murder. Because recently he managed to enter Metaverse and stumbled into the man in a black mask who tried to kill him. Desperate to live, Akechi summoned his own Persona to escape. Because the police has decided Phantom is the culprit, Akechi would like to strike a deal to help them. In exchange he will turn a blind eye to all they have done. Otherwise he will hand in this proof to the police. Sae is now pressured to solve Phantom’s case and is only given a month. Because of that, it is announced there is a 30 million yen bounty on them. Phantom has no choice but to work with Akechi. He gets straight to the point that he wants to change Sae’s heart as he has discovered her Palace. At this rate she will fabricate evidence and pin the blame on an unrelated culprit. Changing her heart would also protect her because if the real culprit finds out she is the one investigating all this, they will target her life and she is perfect to place the blame on Phantom. Changing her heart will also restore Phantom’s reputation and a warning not to mess with them. With them backing off, it will only be a matter of time Akechi catches the culprit. This also means this would be Phantom’s last mission. They ask why Akechi is so hard up in pursuing this justice. He admits it is a petty grudge and contempt for a certain someone. It is a reason why he came to them for help.

Episode 24
Sae’s Palace is a courthouse and a casino? Because she thinks going to court is a must win. Unless you’re the house, you will often lose at the casino… Shadow Sae (is she auditioning to be part of KISS?) pops up before them and even tells them where the treasure is as she believes in a fair fight. But to get to the top of the building, they need to earn a member card. Their reconnaissance ends for today and we get to see Akechi kickass with his Persona, Robin Hood. But there is another problem brewing. Sakura found a calling card in Futaba’s room. Man, Futaba is running away and avoiding Sakura at all cost! Although Sakura acts normal, the rest feel to avoid treading on this topic if it is not brought up by him. But it gets worse as Futaba’s uncle walks in and is asking for money or he threatens to take Futaba back. He is confident the court will be on his side as blood related has higher priority than legal guardian. With Futaba in depression, she can’t perform as usual in Metaverse as Phantom keeps losing their bets in the casino! Sakura later talks to Ren about Futaba’s case. After her mom died, she was tossed around between the relatives for a place to stay. Her uncle was the last to receive her and treated her like dirt. Sakura couldn’t stand it and decided to pay him off to take guardianship over her. With this problem coming to light, Akechi personally wants to help Futaba because he too knows what it feels like from being tossed from home to home as he was from the orphanage.

The next time uncle comes to ask for money again, Sakura declines both options to pay him or give Futaba. Nice timing for Akechi to come back with his investigations showing he lost money due to bad investments. Stupid uncle tripped himself but blames Ren for pushing him and is going to sue them. Soon, his lawyers come knocking on their door. They look like they have the upper hand since Sakura wasn’t exactly a good guardian either. You know, that time Futaba was being a shut-in and he didn’t do anything about it. But luckily for them, Morgana tells Futaba that Sakura is in trouble. So she runs all the way down to the café to say how she has been happy living here since. Even Ren answers them that he too has been happy ever since living here. The lawyers are happy to hear that seeing they received unfounded nasty reports on him but seeing this for themselves, they believe he has not caused any trouble. Now that this case is solved, Sakura wants an explanation about the calling card. Futaba tries to explain without giving away too much. However Sakura hints he knew all about it. I mean, a shut-in suddenly wanting to go after meeting Ren? What about Yuusuke who came and left a painting? He knew something was up. But rest assured, he will keep this a secret as he owes it to them too for taking care of Futaba. And now that Futaba’s uncle has officially dropped his case to get Futaba or the money, Futaba is on a roll again. Phantom is now able to win their games and earn enough for a member’s card to challenge Sae.

Episode 25
However even getting the card and even upgrading it, they need coins to access the next floor. So, fight more monsters to earn coins? That’s like RPG grinding, right? Of course with risky games means higher rewards and Ren was able to pull off one big fight by himself and earn the necessary. However despite all the hard work and getting enough coins for the next floor, the coin requirements to the final floor is astronomically high. Their trial would never end (somewhat a reflection of Japan’s court cases that the accused is often 99.9% found guilty). But thankfully Akechi had foresight and initially had the original card and used it to make bets. With them winning so many trials, I guess they don’t have to slog and have just enough to finally reach the treasure room. All that is left is to place the calling card. Akechi suggests placing the calling card in the last minute because Sae is a realist and she would be on guard. Last minute infiltration will most likely to get her materialize her treasure. It is decided to place the calling card 2 days before the investigation. Makoto awkwardly hands the calling card to Sae, claiming it is from the mail. Sae is of course not pleased she is now branded a criminal by them. This only makes her go into overdrive mode to catch them first. Conflicted Makoto can’t help but cry but assures she will always be on her side. When Phantom finally face off with Shadow Sae, she complains about the injustice that befell her father that put a lot of pressure on her. That is why she is so certain justice will always win. Well, depending on how you define justice. Phantom attack together as Makoto tries to open her eyes and convince her to remember the reason why she went into public prosecution in the first place. Eventually they defeat her and her treasure is her father’s investigation diary. However it seems somebody tipped off Phantom and the enemies have surrounded the Palace. Ren decides to distract them while the rest escapes.

Episode 26
Riot police storm into the Metaverse to capture Ren. For the next few days, the news is abuzz about the captured leader of Phantom although Ren’s identity is still kept in wraps. As the rest of Phantom gather (naturally the sullen and gloom mood), Akechi has used his connections to determine where Ren is. He believes that somebody leaked info to the riot police about the Metaverse (how the f*ck do they even enter?! Do they have the app?!) and that the guy in the black mask could just be a pawn for the true mastermind behind it all. It seems Sae has also been taken off the case and now the police is fully handing it. Akechi’s plan is to sneak in and take Ren away. It’s the only option. As too many of them might make things harder. Now that Sae has finished her interrogation with Ren, she tells him she can get him a lighter sentence if he confirms the name of his accomplices (wasn’t she paying attention to his long flashback?!). Nothing but silence. Not even if there are any other partners he is working with or if Akechi had a hand in this. All he says is that this is for justice, sticking to the right path. Even if that means not ratting out his friends. Sae’s time is up and she knows from the direction of this case, she won’t get credit. Ren asks if she is giving up on justice. Then he tells her to show some person the Smartphone. This part is very unclear because Ren was collaborating with Morgana and Futaba on this particular plan that only Ren can pull off and it has to be precise. With Ren playing the pronoun game, Sae seems to realize what he is saying and cannot fathom his goal. Too bad I don’t! TELL ME! After Sae leaves, she bumps into Akechi and it is his turn to interrogate Ren. She shows him Ren’s Smartphone but keeps it as it is proof of the investigation. When the guard lets Akechi in, Akechi steal his gun and shoots him! Then Akechi shows his true colours. He shoots Ren in the head and makes it as though both killed each other and walks away.

Behind The Mask: The Art Of Stealing Hearts
What the f*ck?! WHAT THE FFFFFUUUUUUUU??????!!!!! This has got to be one of the worst endings ever in the history of anime?! It can’t end like that can it?! Is this what we get after sitting through one of the longest ever flashbacks of anime?! You thought Hinamatsuri or Tenjou Tenge was bad but this takes the cake. Of course I knew this couldn’t be the real deal because Akechi being the traitor wouldn’t just quite cut it. I mean it would have been the biggest shocking twist and fans would have poured scorn all over it. So of course to satiate my curiosity, I went to do a bit of research and true enough, there is more to meets the eye than this betrayal. So it is all linked to some up and coming rising politician. Yeah, Ren isn’t really dead. Just some illusion and whatever f*cking cognition Metaverse thingy. I suppose those who played the game will only understand and know about this as this would be the next target and arc in this series. But as far as the anime goes, it ends here and I would say it would be pretty much unfair to have that kind of ‘shocking’ ending and leaving viewers in a lurch. If this is some sort of way to get people to buy the game and find out, well, I just read the details over the internet so it didn’t work.

Well, the story if you look at it overall is pretty much the same and if I should say, somewhat bland. Just like its predecessors, a bunch of kids who believe they can rid the corrupted adult world with their concept of justice and do so by entering another world. This is a formula that stays largely the same in every arc even for this season alone. They just present it to us in a different way, using different characters (by putting them in the limelight) and using different settings. But at least this season is not as crappy as in Persona 4 because when they started bringing in that God thingy, yeah, that was the straw that really broke the camel’s back. Hence Persona 5 is somewhat tolerable because they didn’t bring in this God-like factor and everything that has been done was the direct effect and consequences of our Phantom kids themselves.

Of course when you continue to compare the setting with Persona 4, Persona 5 has a lot of things to deal with and hence you can’t really make up sh*t. I mean, not to say that this season is so much better but when you consider the previous season takes place in a very sleepy town compared to this season’s metropolis Tokyo, there are a lot of other factors to take into account to keep the realism. Because the backwater town of Inaba with hardly anything exciting going on in the townspeople’s lives, hence those kids in Persona 4 were able to run around as they pleased like as though they own the town. Sure, the ones in Persona 5 too feel like that but Tokyo is such a big city and really, who gives a f*ck?

This is perhaps the reason why nobody really gives a f*ck when Phantom departs from reality to enter Metaverse. I mean, do you not notice when they head into the Metaverse, it is often during daylight and in crowded public places? With so many people around, do nobody even notice this?! Sure, they want to give a different setting of the other world instead of being thrown into TV by midnight. Heh. Who watches TV these days? I guess everyone is so glued to their Smartphones that they don’t even see Phantom entering Metaverse. Not that Phantom wore any disguise when they head in. Just their usual plain clothes. I suppose when you have a big sprawling city, everybody is minding their business and don’t want to get involved even if they witness a simple crime. Not my business. Yeah, that’s the sad reality of today. No wonder the world is so corrupted.

And even though the internet was filled with fervour of supporting Phantom, this no-action by those very same people who instigate over the internet are the reason why Phantom is able to get the job done without anyone coming close to finding out who they are. It’s just so right under their noses. I wonder if time in Metaverse flows differently because if Phantom spend a lot of time there (assuming they do a lot of requests), won’t people in real life wonder where they have gone? Oh right. I forgot people don’t care especially Ren and Ryuuji are like outcasts so nobody is really going to bother.

Because of that kind of ending, unlike Persona 4, this season feels unfinished and have so many loose strings, you might even get lost of keeping track of them. Of course many of the questions would be answered if you play the game but let’s keep this focused on the anime side. Like the man in the black mask that is supposed to be the primary antagonist or another pawn, his identity is never really known. Heck, we don’t even know if Morgana was a human or Shadow or just some mutated cat. Ren’s so called rehabilitation in the Velvet Room is also left hanging. Did he manage to break out of the prison in his heart because of good behaviour or not? And since there is no extra episode like they did in Persona 4 , I guess as far as Persona 5 is concerned, anime viewers will definitely be left having a bad aftertaste in their mouth. Having no closure (at least in the season proper) is one of the worst things for a viewer to experience. (Edit: Actually they did release a special. I hope the Dark Sun special released recently would help clarify things).

Character wise, despite the entire casts are new, they feel like recycled and reshuffled from Persona 4. Ren = Yuu (main leading male character), Ryuuji = Ryousuke (the rascal), Ann = Yukiko (beautiful babe), Makoto = Chie (tomboyish), Futaba = Rise (the otaku, just switch from idol to hacker – but their Personas in the battlefield are similar: To obtain info), Akechi = Naoto (detective prince), Morgana = Kuma (animal mascot), Sakura and Sae = Doujima (I guess they needed to split the father figure as well as the overworked one hot on the heels of our heroes). I guess by elimination would Yuusuke be the alter ego for Kanji? Just swap out gay sexuality for abuse. Besides, aren’t many artists gay? Or at least they look so. So sorry, no Nanako loli this season but at least we got Makoto as imouto (barely).

But I believe this season the characters don’t feel as much annoying and retarded as its predecessor. For example, Ren who might still be as quiet and taciturn as Yuu, at least he does not feel like a retard like the latter. Although Ren does feel a bit gay because you know, he is soft spoken and with that kind of sissy bespectacled looks, it does give off that kind of impression. There is also less annoyance in Morgana compared to Kuma whom we all remembered as some weird bear whose other main role is to try to be a lady killer. Though, Morgana’s character suffers the most compared to the others because there is a lack of back story of who Morgana really is. Just a mind boggling question about Morgana: Is it some sort of trigger that once you enter Metaverse you will be able to hear this cat talk in reality?! Basically the characters in Phantom have their moment of spotlight but once their problem is resolved, it is unlikely they become in focus again. But a few distractions especially in the later arcs like that pertaining to Futaba’s family (her jerk uncle trying to take her away) try to give a bit more of the spotlight to them but then again, it feels nothing more like just distractions.

Futaba as a hacker feels more like a convenient plot device. Because since she is just so good in her hacking and could even fend off Medjed even though they’re just fake bully pussies (I wonder if this is a subtle reference to today’s Antifa…), I’m surprised that she didn’t even hack into the Pentagon yet just for fun. Even if the anime portrays Akechi as somewhat a traitor in the end, because after all, him being part of Phantom and as the latest member feels a bit shady. He is the only one who met the guy with the black mask and with him having connections in the police force, it makes him the likely to betray. But I just want to point out here that at least this detective is a better one compared to his predecessor. That’s you, Naoto. Maybe we don’t see him working on how he gets his clues but at least it is better than Naoto who was annoying when she was in a pinch after hitting a dead end. If only there were clues. or hints…

Some of the other supporting characters outside Phantom feel wasted. For example that Hifumi girl. I was wondering why they introduced her since she had no really specific role in the series. I am not sure if she has a greater role in the game but in this anime she really felt wasted and unnecessary. It’s like as though Ren needed some more female companions and I suppose she is the only one who gets to play shogi with him. I thought she would be a new Phantom recruit because it also felt quite formulaic that after every major arc that Phantom changed the heart of their target, the one they helped will usually join them. So I guess Hifumi didn’t have her own problems big enough for that to happen. Mishima also feels the same. Even though he is an ardent fan of Phantom and manages to help manage Phansite, he just feels more like a mini informant. I suppose Ren and co are too busy checking in detail the website so it must be a good thing they have somebody around to point out the important stuffs.

Also Becky feels really wasted. Just when I found a nice maid character to like, looks like she has no problems too that would warrant Phantom to help out. Becky, can you please leave your number so I can call you for a much needed maid service? And there was that nurse who sporadically checks on Ren’s health. Like what the heck is it for? And that Ichiko journalist? Can be done without. Even that good politician who gives speeches that nobody listens except for Ren? That fortune teller girl? Don’t try to put in so many stuffs that don’t matter! What happened to Sugimoto? Was that short fight of this sub-boss in Okumura’s Palace it? It’s strange how Okumura’s death, Haru doesn’t have to marry this jerk, which is good since she prefers hanging out with Phantom than be kept as his trophy wife or something. Many of these characters look like minor but important characters. They could be or they could be not (at least in the game) but sometimes I wonder if they are necessary since the anime was going to end like that.

Probably why this season doesn’t feel as annoying as the previous one is because it lacks annoying running jokes as well as the lack of any romance. Persona 5 have their own small brand of weird jokes but it is nothing you’ll laugh out loud. Just maybe a little chuckle. I’m sure those who have watched Person 4 would remember that strange Chinese food delivery girl, Aika. There was this running joke she could delivery her beef bowls to you anywhere at any time without fail. And there is a super large serving of her beef bowl which is supposedly endless because nobody has ever finished it. Persona 5 has cut out that sort of nonsensical distractions and it is no wonder why I partly feel that this season is somewhat gloomier even though there was no mysterious fog. And of course no Kuma as a joker comical character to fool around, hence making it absolutely 100% no chance of ruining the scene with his fail flirting. Also, no other annoying characters like that slut teacher and proud ugly fatso in Persona 4…

I suppose with the kids being too focused on trying to change the hearts of corrupted adults, that is why there is no romance factor here. Not sure if it is refreshing but thankfully the plot was still interesting enough for me to not even notice there was none of the romance factor until the season ended! I can’t really imagine if Persona 5 really put in some romance factor because the one in Persona 4 was cheesy. There were some episodes there that subtly hinted the girls trying to vie for Yuu’s attention! I guess we didn’t want to remember how bold Rise was with her love for Yuu. Or that side love story of Ebihara girl for her Ichijou basketball dude (that Eiko one felt more like a friendship side story for Makoto). The closest the romance that I ever notice is Makoto for Ren. You’ll notice that a few scenes has them hanging out together and the final arc since Makoto was really torn about saving Sae but I might just be over reading things.

This season’s Velvet Room feels a lot lacking. It shows Ren being a prisoner as opposed to Persona 4 whereby it is a first person view in some limo. This Velvet Room also feels very disjointed to the story and I can’t help see how it supposedly connects Ren. But I suppose it is an excuse they need for him to get his Persona and proof himself. Yeah, so why the others don’t go through this same thing? Why does Ren get ‘special treatment’? And just when you could actually see Ren is doing well in his new life, he is still a prisoner in the Velvet Room. Like nothing has changed. So was he putting a mask to hide is true feelings all the while?

The fight scenes might be one of the staple elements in the Persona games but it is not a strong one in the series. I believe it is not really the focus here in this season too. Although you can see some of the visual elements of the battles borrowed and following the game closely, the fight scenes are just enough for Phantom to show us that single fight move their Persona does. Not that I can see the difference anyway. Besides, just like last season, it is never explained why Ren gets to have multiple Personas. I am not sure if it is a good thing but this season didn’t even explain at all. All of a sudden Ren shows off a new Persona which he never uses again. I know last season never explained it too but at least there was this moment to tell us he would be getting a new Persona. This time around, it suddenly appears. Not that I can see how important it is because as long as Phantom defeats their Shadows, it is all that matters. It is also a good thing that they replace glasses with masks because at least each has different designs unlike Persona 4’s same ol’ glasses that just makes them look nerdy and weird. It’s a nice reverse setting of instead of putting on glasses to see through the fog, you rip off your mask to unleash your full potential that your mask is holding you back. Cool.

For the art and animation, everything looks much gorgeous and better compared to Persona 4. The characters and backgrounds do look a lot better and with higher quality and as said, they borrowed some of the visuals from the game. Even the Persona and Shadow designs are much better. Although they still look ridiculous at some point, at least it is not as comical. At least they look badass and play their part to kick ass even if it is for a short moment. Persona’s 4 school uniform might look weird with those stitch lines so I can breathe easy that this season’s school uniform doesn’t look that weird. Okay, I take that back a bit because the pants or skirts have this plaids pattern and sometimes I thought they resemble more like pyjamas than school longs. Seriously. But is it me or does their school look like a prison facility because of the mesh wirings over the windows! Yeah, the school looks boring and gloom enough to even give off that feel. Kawakami’s clothes as a teacher is just weird. In the sense that she dresses so casual that it seems to ring this feeling that she doesn’t want to be here doing this teaching job. Yeah, I suppose she looks much better in a maid outfit! Huzzah for that!

I’m also glad that this season that they decide to use a real cat instead of a weird looking bear whenever the animal mascot comes to reality. I suppose everyone in a big city will eventually get suspicious if for example Morgana in reality takes the form of a very strange but cute looking cat. Sure, it would garner some fans but we saw how annoying Kuma was even in his handsome human boy form (I can’t complain then when Morgana transforms into some monster bus). So it is a good thing that Morgana remains a cat but I just have to live with the fact that a real cat is talking to the kids. Others might think weirdly of them because from an outsider’s perspective, it’s like as though this group worships the cat and ‘talks’ to it although others can only hear it purr. Although the other character designs are good with lots of bishonen and bishoujo, I have this odd feeling when I looked at Futaba. She looks oddly familiar… Aha! She looks a bit like that Inkling girl from Splatoon!!!! OMG! I’m serious! No wonder she is the most popular waifu among fans of Persona. Or maybe she is just so socially awkward and shy that it makes her irresistibly kawaii. On a side note, Ren’s bruises during his interrogation makes it look like he has some sort of incurable skin disease. Yucks. Looks awful (effect wise, that is). Really.

Probably the higher quality in animation is due to the fact that it is done by CloverWorks, a relatively new studio. Although Slow Start is the only work I have previously seen done by them, it seems they are trying to animate other anime series that no one expects will be having a sequel. At least not at this point. Because they are also doing the final season for Fairy Tail (although joined with A-1 Pictures and Bridge) as well as the second season of Gyakuten Saiban and the upcoming Fate/Grand Order. Persona 4 was animated by AIC A.S.T.A. and perhaps most of us then expected Persona 5 to be animated. Just not by this company.

For the voice acting part, when I say it feels like Persona 4, what I meant is that there are lots of seiyuus that I recognized! Persona 4 too had many famous seiyuus but that was way back in 2011-2012. In the current year I would have thought that there would be new ones taking over but apparently they decided to use veterans to please me. I am so delighted that I could really identify a big majority of the main characters like Jun Fukuyama as Ren, Mamoru Miyano as Ryuuji, Nana Mizuki as Ann, Tomokazu Sugita as Yuusuke, Rina Satou as Makoto, Daisuke Sakaguchi as Mishima, Yuuko Kaida as Sae and Jouji Nakata as Sakura. It is only Haruka Tomatsu as Haru that I failed to recognize as I haven’t been hearing a lot of her recently. So forgive me? Not! The only seiyuu who returned to this series is Aoi Yuuki. In Persona 4 she was Aika (who was of an anime only character) but now she upgraded into a main character role as Futaba. Lastly, Ikue Ohtani as Morgana. Ah, yes. It is good to finally hear her voice other than a yellow electric mouse or a tanuki. Oops, I mean tonakai. Although I have heard her voice in a few other series, but I guess she is only as memorable as Pikachu or Chopper. Hopefully Morgana would be added to this list because you know, a cat. The only other main character I didn’t recognize is Souichiro Hoshi as Akechi (Kei in Onegai Teacher, Goku in Saiyuki series, Nagi in Tenjou Tenge).

However there is one character whose voice that I seem not to find fitting or at least to my liking. That is Igor who is voiced by Masane Tsukayama (Gol D Roger in One Piece). The Igor in Persona 4 sounded mischievous despite his voice sounding very gay. And that’s not a bad thing. However in Persona 5, he has this very low and evil voice and even if they want to make him sound like a creepy character, it doesn’t. Because he still looks like that same ‘comical’ Igor. You see, Isamu Tanonaka who was the original voice of Igor passed away even before Persona 4 was animated. Hence his lines are fixed and that is why we needed Margaret to ‘explain and elaborate on his behalf’. Maybe that is why this season Igor doesn’t need any beautiful assistant this time and has 2 cute loli prison guards (which I just found out are voiced by Aki Toyosaki!) to keep Ren in check. Still, I didn’t really find this new voice for Igor fitting. Hmm… Doesn’t Sae look a bit like Margaret? Perhaps that was why when I first saw her I was confused and thought she was her.

The rest of the other casts are Mai Fuchigami as Kawakami/Becky (Nagisa in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Akemi Satou as Shiho (Shiori in Kanon), Yumi Uchiyama as Ichiko (Momiji in Binbougami Ga), Yuji Mitsuya as Kamoshida (Tofu in Ranma 1/2), Yukitoshi Hori as Madarame (Robert in Blue Gender), Hirohiko Kakegawa as Okumura (Mihawk in One Piece), Takahiro Fujimoto as Kaneshiro (Martinez in Oretachi Ni Tsubasa Wa Nai), Minako Arakawa as Wakaba (Judia in Ragnarok The Animation) and Tomomi Isomura (Shouko in Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu).

This time, all the songs are sung by Lyn. However they have this same feel like those sung in Persona 4. Many of the songs have this jazzy feel and beat to it whether it is fast or slow. It feels energetic but not enough for all that jazzy energy to burst out. Like as though in a way it is subdued. Also, the songs are all in English since the lyrics are written by Benjamin Franklin. No! Not the founding father of America coming back to life to give you words to the songs!!! Ah, such coincidences. Anyway, I prefer the first opening theme, Break In To Break Out compared to the second one, Dark Sun. Both are good but the former sounds cooler and fits the pace of the series much better compared to the latter which I feel suits better for a spy themed series rather than a phantom thief one. As for the ending theme, I also much prefer the first one, Infinity as it is more fun and catchier with those funky bass lines (although the synthesizers make some parts of the song sound a bit sissy) compared to the second one, Autonomy which just sounds too casual and relaxing. Some of the insert songs like this one, Life Will Change sounds more like a song fitting for your morning aerobics exercise and Last Surprise which is just too jazzy. Rivers In The Desert also feel it better suits a spy series or if you planning to do some workout than Personas fighting Shadows. They still sound good in their own right but I’m wondering if it is fitting to be put in battle scenes.

Overall, still a much better than Persona 4 and of course that dumb The Golden that comes after that. Although I did enjoy this season a lot despite some of the bland and same ol’ stuffs as well as things that were not fully explained, there were many comments I read over the internet that don’t seem to like it. It’s like the internet is split in liking this adapted series. I guess they played the game and found it way superior to the anime. Well, too bad for them. I know, this season is not perfect and there are a few other anime during that season that I liked better (Golden Kamuy, Hinamatsuri, Boku No Hero Academia S3, Shokugeki No Souma: Totsuki Ressha-hen, Overlord III, Jashin-chan Dropkick, Asobi Asobase, Angolmois: Genkou Kassenki and yes, even Back Street Girls: Gokudolls). Nice music, nice visuals and favourite seiyuus lending their talents can only go so far when the plot and characters are just so much just as average.

Well, it goes to show that with the power of the internet, it isn’t very easy to change the heart and even opinions of the public. Everyone has a different version of justice. Doesn’t it make you feel like wanting to go post on Phansite and just request Phantom to change the hearts of weeabo whiners?! All masking anonymously behind their keyboards… Like as though this show is doing them a favour by not living up to their standards. Where is the justice, man?! Me, I’d be a lot happy to have some little Becky maid service… YOU CAN’T CHANGE MY HEART FOR MY LOVE OF JAPANESE ANIME MAIDS!!!

Oh no. Here I go again. Despite knowing Kyoto Teramachi Sanjou No Holmes is going to be that kind of series that involves solving mysteries or whatever cases that need that sort of detective intelligence, and that I wasn’t going to watch this as it isn’t really my cup of tea (although I do watch this kind of genre before), here am I doing the opposite. Why? Because damn the promotional poster of the series really had a really pretty girl on it! I never learn after all these years. If anime producers know this weakness of mine, they are going to put every promotional poster with a super bishoujo. Heh. That will get me to watch all the animes in the season no matter how much the story sucks. At least I have a pretty face to admire as I sit through the dozen episodes…

Episode 1
Aoi Mashiro is a depressed girl in spring. Until she stepped into an antique shop in Kyoto, Kura. Currently the shop which is a government licensed appraiser, is run by Kiyotaka “Holmes” Yagashira. Originally formed by his grandpa, Seiji who is overseas most of the time and his dad, Takeshi who is often out running errands, hence Holmes is left to run the shop. It has been 2 weeks since Aoi has been working part time here and sometimes Holmes gives her lessons on the antiques. Holmes’ nickname comes from his surname which has the word ‘home’ in it. One day, a strange man comes in to appraise some bowl. Holmes appraised it as fake and the man is not happy. In fact, Holmes can even tell from the way he dresses and acting that he knows this bowl is a counterfeit and came in here on purpose to make a quick buck thinking this young lad is inexperienced. On the contrary. That dude runs away after being busted. Aoi thinks of Holmes as an upright person since he considers counterfeits as blasphemy to those who love art. Flashback 2 weeks ago when Aoi came in, instantly Holmes could tell her situation with precise precision! He can tell she just moved here 6 months ago and has stolen something from her family to be appraised and sold. Damn this guy is sharp. Sure he isn’t some kind of psychic? Although he cannot buy from minors, he can still appraise it. He finds a couple of very beautiful paintings. One of them he could appraise at a couple of million yen but the other so rare he couldn’t put a price to it. Leaning it belongs to her late grandfather who loves to collect antiquities, Aoi further reveals the reason of trying to cash it in is to buy a train ticket back to Saitama. The guy she was dating wanted to break up. That is to be expected given their distance. However he soon found a new girlfriend who happens to be her best friend. Hence she wants to go all the way back to give them a piece of mind. We interrupt your crying as Holmes tells the story behind one of the scroll paintings. A baby who was given away and raised by another but then the real parents came and took it back. In reference to what Aoi is doing, now she feels ashamed for trying to sell her grandpa’s treasure just to go back. Holmes offers her to work here so she can earn enough to go back. After all, he believes she has a good eye. Or maybe just a gullible girl to do his bidding. Seiji returns from overseas and meets Aoi for the first time. He returned because of the word of convincing counterfeits making its rounds in antique shops lately.

Episode 2
One of the main festivals in Kyoto is a procession parade. A woman with wisdom, grace and social standing will be chosen as the Saio-dai to be carried on a palanquin for the procession. That lucky girl is Saori Miyashita. However there seems to be a problem as Saori, her sister Kaori and grandma enter Kura for help. Saori has been receiving a couple of threatening letters for her to step down as Saio-dai. Reading the letters and learning how she found them, it is hinted that Saori’s jealous friends might be the one behind this. Saori remembers being announced as the chosen one. While everyone in her flower arrangement club was happy, except her 2 friends. Obvious angry face is so obvious. They haven’t spoken since. Holmes request to speak to her friends but at the flower exhibition, she leaves Aoi alone to talk with them to find out more. But it won’t take long before they start running their mouths and even hoping their family business will go bankrupt. Holmes then arrange to meet Saori and the rest next morning before the procession starts. He reveals the one who wrote the first threatening letter is Kaori. Because the procession is very costly, he knows Kaori was concerned with the family’s financial standings as she attends a public school compared to Saori who attends a prestigious university. When Saori was announced, she hope of using this letter to sway her parents’ thoughts but it didn’t work. The second letter was written by Saori herself. He can tell the difference because of the difference in effort put into the letter! All by observing their different works at the exhibition?! Saori admits her goal is to become friends like they used to and by writing such letter she hoped they would get worried and be nice to her. Kaori is most upset for her resorting to such silly reasons and thought she was worried about the family finances too. She wants Saori to become Saio-dai so that her friends would one day boast they were once her friends. With this case solved, it’s time for the procession.

Episode 3
Holmes takes Aoi to hike Mt Kurama but it became an errand for them when Takeshi told them to visit a late friend of his, Kajiwara as his family had ‘issues’. While taking a break, Holmes knows Aoi has saved up enough to return to Saitama but she seems hesitant to go. Holmes explains he once had a girlfriend in high school. But he kept their relationship pure. I guess she must have been bored so in their college years, she went out with an arrogant guy. That’s why Holmes could understand how Aoi felt. When he learnt his ex-girlfriend is going to marry that arrogant guy, he felt relieved. Because if it was her destiny to find happiness in that guy, she would have left him eventually. So his advice to Aoi is to follow destiny naturally instead of forcing it. Arriving at Kajiwara’s estate, they are introduced to Kajiwara’s wife, Ayako and their sons, Fuyuki, Akihito and Haruhiko. As the secretary Kurashina explains, Kajiwara left 2 wills. The first one regarding the division of his assets. The second one to be opened a few months later. When he did, it was a vault containing 3 scrolls each for his sons. However the appraiser said they were reproductions and had no value. The issue is that all 3 scrolls were burnt. Holmes knows the culprit (what?!) but lacks proof. So he talks to the sons asking about their feelings of their inheritance portion. He also asks Ayako about not getting any although Kajiwara left her an aquamarine ring. As for how Kurashina met Kajiwara, he was once from a bike gang but saved his life from a thug who was upset with Kajiwara’s works. Holmes still finds it hard to explain why the culprit did it but explains why Kajiwara left the scrolls to the sons. It seems there is a hidden meaning for them to achieve greatness. But before he could explain Haruhiko’s, Ayako stops him and admits she was the one that burnt them. She claims she was mad she wasn’t left anything and never realized there was a message behind the scrolls. As Holmes takes his leave, Akihito and Fuyuki still want to hear his opinion on Haruhiko’s piece. Long story short, Haruhiko is actually the son of Ayako and Kurashina! Ayako didn’t want that known and thus burnt the scrolls. The reason the second will was opened later was because Haruhiko just turned 20 and it was probably that he has come of age to be told this. After all, Kajiwara knew of this affair and that’s why he left the aquamarine ring for her that symbolizes freedom to live her own life. Holmes further stuns them that he knew Haruhiko and Kurashina are related from the first time he looked at them because of their similar ears!

Episode 4
The Gion Festival is here and Aoi has nightmares of her ex-boyfriend, Katsumi dumping her and dating her friend, Sanae. Geez… Aoi is so damn lovely in her yukata that Akihito cannot resist to sexually harass her in a playful manner? Not if strict Holmes can do something about it. Later a girl named Izumi visits. Aoi eavesdrop and believes she is Holmes’ ex-girlfriend as she talks about having doubts of marrying her now boyfriend. Apparently she also gave him some Copenhagen plates to be appraised. The story goes that her boyfriend often cheated on her and whenever she threatened to call it quits, he always apologized and said sorry. Until they became engaged he gave her these plates. This makes her question if she really wants to go through this. Izumi also left Holmes a tea cup with leave patterns on it. Aoi is worried as she talks to Holmes. No, not about Izumi. It seems her old friends are coming here for the festival and want to meet up. Thing is, she might bump into Katsumi and Sanae who are coming too. Hence she is in a dilemma. Holmes advises her not to worry so much. I guess it works for a while if a handsome guy is saying it. So Aoi meets up with her friends but soon realizes it is a set up. They hope to hear out Katsumi and Sanae. They both apologize and put up some pretty cheesy humble act. That is when Aoi felt betrayed. She never had friends and nobody cared about her. She tries to put on a brave front but she is moments away from breaking down when Holmes arrives. The way he nicely takes her away makes Katsumi think he is her boyfriend and suddenly he gets jealous! WTF?! And suddenly jealous Sanae slaps him! WTF???!!! Hey dude, it is you who downgraded to Sanae who looks pretty plain but Aoi upgraded to hot Holmes. Aoi thanks Holmes for helping her out of the situation. He too could see this underhanded tactic because if they truly wanted to apologize to her, they would have done it themselves instead of hiding behind friends. Okay, cue for Aoi to break down in his arms. Back at Kura, Aoi believes she has deduced the meaning behind the cup Izumi left. From what I understand, a hidden message that she still loves him and hopes he will notice. Holmes did reply with a poem since she looked like was hoping for one. From what I understand, it was to tell her to go talk things out with her parents and related parties before regretting it all. Izumi stormed out sulking after that. Aoi starts to fluster thinking he has gotten over Izumi and moved on to her.

Episode 5
Holmes is not pleased he saw a fake piece in an art museum. Like as though it was placed there to test appraisers. Akihito seeks Holmes’ help because he is doing some travel blog show at some temple and is not doing so well. Holmes declines at first since there is the internet and books he can look up to but with Akihito begging and probably that triggering word of how much the art his father left him meant so much, Holmes relents. Besides, he has business at that temple tomorrow too. Along the way, the guys talk about girlfriends and such and Akihito believes Aoi is a good girl for Holmes. Holmes describes the ugliness when Aoi first came in to Kura in tears as it reminded him of himself after a breakup. Akihito is so touched that this seemingly gay scene amazes all the fujoshi around them. Is every girl in Japan a fujoshi? Holmes might not be into women but he definitely isn’t gay! They meet Ensho the abbot who shows them around a few of the temple treasures. But the real case begins as he brings them to meet the vice abbot, Unsho and Shoan. After the head abbot left for a study meet, a strange letter stating their dragon has been stolen was left. They check around all their treasures with dragon but nothing is stolen. Hearing about Holmes’ reputation, they contact him. He requests to see all the abbots’ sample handwriting as the letter is handwritten. At first it looks like the head abbot but Holmes first explains about fake being fake and well trained appraisers can tell because they can sense the malicious intent when the fake is created. But there are cases now where fakers go into a trance and act like the real creators, hence hiding the malicious intent to deceive.

Suddenly Holmes strikes Ensho with his fan but he blocks! He is the true perpetrator. He knew it since the first time they met. Because Ensho knew who Holmes was despite this is the first time they met. Also, Holmes sensed that Zuiryu scroll he showed was fake and it wasn’t stolen but swapped. Ensho is impressed as he explains he mastered the art of counterfeit a long time ago. But he got bored and decided to turn over a new leaf. When an old counterfeit friend told him about an appraiser exposing his fake bowl, Ensho felt his counterfeit passion stirred again. He did all this just to test him. Satisfied, Ensho escapes. Holmes tries to give chase because he hates such people who give art a bad name but Unsho stops him. Ensho has ninja abilities! Although they know about his past and abilities, they thought he was ready to move on into priesthood. Holmes might have hurt his pride but at the same time it made him happy like as though there is someone who finally acknowledged him. As they can’t fill the void his spirit, perhaps this exposure may ruin him and he find something new beyond that. Ensho’s purpose in life could be an object lesson for Holmes. Back at Kura after Holmes tells everything to Aoi, he further deduces Ensho’s path in this life. A close family member took him in after realizing his ability to counterfeit. That family member might be an artist too and that inspiration might have made him pursued the path of art. However something happened after he mastered the art and perhaps was driven out. Holmes realizes Ensho has stolen his fan and not steal it because he is confident he would come take it back. No matter what, Holmes will expose all of his counterfeits.

Episode 6
Aoi is invited to celebrate Seiji’s birthday. Holmes introduces her to Rikyuu Takiyama who once worked at Kura but went to France to study. She also meets his mom, Yoshie. Damn anime can make mom in her 40’s look like your big sister! Apparently Yoshie is Seiji’s girlfriend! Age gap is not a problem in love! Since everybody is happy, I guess that’s that. With Aoi dressing a bit casual, Yoshie offers to ‘beautify’ her. They talk about the several important guests at the party that includes the pantomime entertainers, Masamune brothers. Aoi learns Seiji once appeared on a TV series but quit for good. Apparently he appraised a vase of a famous magician, Don Kageyama to be fake. It caused a ruckus as the producer wanted him to say it is real but he won’t budge. That was it for him and the cameras. Guests are able to view the treasures in a room and Rikyuu steals Holmes thunder to explain a beautiful vase’s origins. Aoi is left to lock up the room after the guests leave to start the party. A long speech by Seiji. After that, a producer is seen trying to get Seiji back into show business but he is warned not to further anger him. It’s his birthday after all. A large crash is heard from the room. Oh, that vase is broken. Don’t worry. Seiji examines it to be fake and has Holmes explain it. Is it me but why is the vase the only thing that is not behind a glass counter like the rest?! Anyway, Holmes explains the vase has already been switched before Aoi locked the room. There are multiple culprits. Somebody to distract them and another to switch it. Oh look. The real one is just hidden beneath the table. The culprits are the Masamune brothers. It seems they want to get back at Seiji for humiliating Kageyama whom they consider their hero. They want to ascertain if they are fake appraisers. By playing poker?! Holmes agrees but before even looking at his hand, he knows he has lost. He observed the cards he got were picked not from the top. It was rigged from the start. When one of the brothers try to attack him because he mocks them as imposters, Rikyuu judo throws him. So this is what he mastered in France? Seiji apologizes for saying harsh things to Kageyama but does not regret calling a fake a fake. That would mean warping history. What is fake cannot be genuine. The brothers understand now and thought Seiji hated Kageyama. With this over, it’s back to the party. Aoi is amazed when Holmes showed his scary expression because it is proof of how proud he is to the one he loves. He looked cool With Holmes being nice to her, it only confuses her because he isn’t his usual nasty. So she was expecting this? She’s been working with him too long…

Episode 7
Akihito gets invited to Yanagihara’s birthday. It was Seiji who got invited but since he can’t come, Holmes will be his substitute. He decides to bring Aoi along and Rikyuu isn’t pleased. However Holmes can’t have everyone go and close Kura. Besides, didn’t Rikyuu said that he is best suited to protect this place? At the party, Yanagihara has all participants play an appraisal game. Professionals are refrained from playing. Thanks to her time spent at Kura and Holmes being a good teacher, Aoi got every piece right and wins a trip to some hotel in which Yanagihara teases she can go with Holmes. But the game is not over as Yanagihara wants Holmes to appraise this painting as genuine or fake. It took him a while before he says it is fake. After explaining why, Holmes wants to know who sent him this painting. It seems a guy named Moria (as in Moriarty?) wanted Yanagihara to show this to the youngest appraiser. He also left a round mirror as a gift. This makes Holmes mad as he storms out. Holmes know Moria is Ensho and set all this up. The mirror and the painting is a clue to where Ensho is right now. It’s some temple. True enough he is there. Ensho has Holmes explain what gave his deception away before going on to explain about his father being a painter and every time he couldn’t finish a painting deadline, he will have his son finish it up. Until he died, Ensho decided to retire into priesthood. The story is pretty similar to as Holmes deduced. Ensho attacks Holmes with the fan but he is able to grab and break it. Ensho notes he can’t retire yet and his life’s mission is to humiliate him. A slight distraction has Ensho escape like a ninja again. Holmes gets upset upon seeing the word ‘victory’ on the fan. He realizes Ensho has won this time and he had lost. Despite using his knowledge and right answers, he did not see through him. Aoi gives him the motivation to not lose to him next time Ensho challenges him. You bet he is going to be a better appraiser the next time. Seemingly cheesy romantic moment ruined by Akihito calling out to them. Well, I guess that wasn’t needed.

Episode 8
Holmes’ friend begs for him and Rikyuu to help work part time at his newly opened café for a few days. Because all the waiters are handsome guys, they’re sure to bring in the customers. Holmes didn’t want to do this until he hears how Aoi’s grades have been slipping since she started working here. Because of that, mom warns she will have to quit working and will go to a cram school. Holmes feel the need to take responsibility and will help tutor her whenever she is here. Thanks to that, her grades when up and mom even invited him to her home to thank him. This is Holmes’ first time in a girl’s room. He has never been in Izumi’s room since her parents are totally strict. Holmes admits he is a noob in love and cannot judge everything objectively when it comes to that. When they go visit the café, it looks like Izumi is there waiting. Another problem. After breaking up with her ex, her parents match-make her with another guy. During their engagement party, she noticed he left and came back in an hour. She saw on his handphone a text from his ex-girlfriend threatening to ruin their party so he supposedly left to go appease her. However leaving from Matsugasaki to Momoyama in an hour is impossible no matter what kind of transport you use. Unless a teleporter? She wants Holmes to break his alibi. But first he has her gather some evidence before he draws up his conclusion. Aoi visits Holmes during his work at the café and there is a damn long queue of girls waiting to be served! With Izumi gathering the necessary, she even brings her fiancé, Tachibana to listen. This is what Holmes deduced. His ex actually lived nearby so he snuck out to withdraw some money and head there to apologize and settle things with her before coming back. Tachibana notes even if his theory was true, everything is over with his ex. Surprisingly Aoi snaps. She tells him he is acting in bad faith to both women. The point is that he lied and if he continues to do this, he will never be trusted. Just tell her the truth. Wow. Her tears must be so convincing. Even more convincing when Izumi too is crying. Yeah it sucks to have both women crying. So he comes clean about all this. Holmes’ theory is true and his relationship with his ex was already on the rocks then. He used this new engagement as excuse to break up. But he did truly fell in love with Izumi and feared she will leave him had he told his past. With this settled, time for another seemingly cheesy romantic encounter for Holmes and Aoi. He gives her tickets to a botanic garden. Free pass all year! Not sure if this is what she wants. But she gives him cookies she baked. Threw him off a little? The cheesiness ends when Rikyuu just finishes his job and interrupts them.

Episode 9
Aoi is invited to Seiji’s house for a New Year party. Along the way, she and Holmes stop by several temples along the way. It wouldn’t have been ruined if Akihito wasn’t there. And so it becomes a threesome. Since Aoi is interested to see his room, Holmes shows her. A bit messy with books all over. I take it he likes to read but has he got no proper place to put them? Maybe he needs to have his own library. During the party, Akihito who is trying to hit on Yoshie ever since finally realizes she is into older men. Devastated. I guess he couldn’t brush it off as a joke now. Don’t say they didn’t warn you. Meanwhile an uninvited guest creeps in… As the party starts, Seiji and Holmes have the guests play a game. They need to decipher some clues and find a golden key in which they will receive a prize. Akihito thinks it is located in Holmes’ room since he saw him putting something there. Upon investigating it, it is that fan. Repaired? Could it be Holmes cannot find himself to throw it away? Then they heard a commotion downstairs. It is Ensho and he has already found the key. It seems he didn’t barge in but got Seiji’s approval to participate. After explaining how he found it, he is disappointed it was too simple. Well, it wasn’t designed for him. Ensho has Holmes play an appraisal game. This time if he thinks it is fake, he must smash or slice it. First up, two bowls. He smashes both. Then a painting. Right up cut it up. Finally another rare painting. Sliced in half. That is when Ensho says that is the real deal. With everyone in shock and Ensho laughing, soon he admits this is just a joke. Gotcha. It’s fake. It was priceless to see Holmes’ face reaction when it was so. Ensho isn’t the only one who can be nasty because Holmes fires back that he created all these fakes as a way of trying to get Holmes to acknowledge that he is the one who did all this. Both guys pulling each other’s collar? Only for Aoi to tell them to stop fighting since the game is over. Ensho takes his leave but notes this is far from over. Until next time.

Episode 10
The usual gang celebrates New Year’s Day at Kura. Aoi and Holmes later pray at the shrine. Because Aoi thinks Holmes might be doing something romantic to her, she flusters and changes to subject of wanting to learn more about tea bowls. My, shy, aren’t we? He then takes her to a coffee café and confuses her with the local terms so she had some black coffee instead of with milk. So that is what they call fresh coffee here? Aoi learns that Seiji is not married to Yoshie because grandpa divorced with his first wife very early and didn’t want to keep things official after that. As for why Holmes isn’t interested in having a girlfriend (are you gay?!), becoming Izumi’s girlfriend was just out of curiosity and maybe that’s why it ended up in disaster. As they leave, what a coincidence they bump into Seiji’s ex-wife. She invites them to her place. Since he is still playing detective, I guess she needs them to solve some paranormal case. Say what? You see, she has a bisque doll that Seiji bought for her as a gift. Recently she moved it from her shelf to the living room for her granddaughter. At first it was all cute but she soon started getting terrified it is cursed as she saw tears around its eyes, heard wailing sounds and it moved from place to place! After Holmes asks a few questions, he knows it is not a poltergeist event and is manmade phenomenon. When Seiji divorced her, it was when she was sick and he blamed himself he cursed her and it didn’t help that the shaman said it was bad karma. After the divorce, he bought her the doll as his replacement. It is a sign that he is always thinking of her. Her current husband might be jealous that her heart had been with Seiji all the while even if she was married to Seiji for only 5 years and her current husband for 50. That is why her current husband cries each time he sees the doll (you mean the tears landed exactly over its eyes?!) and when he hears granddaughter come in, he drops the doll and leaves. Also, he thought of moving it around in hopes of hinting to her to give it back to Seiji (since Seiji has another matching pair back at Kura). With grandma realizing Seiji’s true feelings, I hope she won’t be gunning for a divorce. Thankfully, no. She gives the doll to Holmes to be returned to Kura and hopes her husband will buy her a new one. She also hints to Holmes and Aoi to be honest with their feelings. No reaction. Looks like the density is so thick… The dolls are together once more back and Kura and somehow Aoi can’t help fantasize the dolls as them as a happy couple… Oh well, it’s the thought that counts.

Episode 11
Holmes are Aoi are invited to a book reading event on Valentine’s Day by a famous author, Aigasa Kurisu. There, they meet some of her acquaintances like her editor Takeshi Hashimoto, friends Suzuka Iijima and Kumi Ooishi, photographer Masashi Oda and Kikuchi and private detective Komatsu. Kana Inoue, the younger sister of Rika (Aigasa Kurisu is just her penname) enters and starts reading. However it soon turns into a murder mystery as it reads somebody was trying to kill Rika and she did not commit suicide. Kana explains somebody tried to hang Rika outside the building but the ribbon broke and the tree broke her fall. When Rika woke up, she told Kana somebody was trying to kill her. Hence Kana heard Holmes being the great detective to help figure out the mystery behind this. Holmes agrees and hopes they will spread the word he isn’t a great detective. Holmes takes each of their statements. So we learn that Rika along with Suzuka and Kumi started writing stories together, Rika had a crush on Oda but went berserk after learning he was dating Suzuka, Hashimoto tried to calm her down but she turned his attention to him. At this point, Komatsu can’t stand this farce and leaves. Holmes tries to ascertain the few background checks he did and even if he didn’t say, Holmes now has his answer. Yeah, he knows who did it but has no proof. Care to explain, please. First he has Kana read a confession note Rika wrote. It seems Rika isn’t the only writer as there are other ghostwriters. Holmes deduces Aigasa Kurusu is a combination of a few people. Namely, Rika, Suzuka and Kumi (Aigasa being inspiration from Agatha Christie and Kurisu from the combination of their name).

After Rika won the award, all were happy at first but Rika felt guilty about using their ideas to get the award. Emotions exploded when she discovered Oda dating Suzuka and hence hired Komachi to expose her friends’ past. After another confrontation, Rika vowed not to write again. Hashimoto doesn’t want to let his golden goose go and did his best to console her. She did a background check on him and discovered he is married and flew into a rage again. When Hashimoto learnt about the Aigasa Kurisu combo, he came out with the idea to make it look like she killed herself and let the ghostwriter come forward to gain greater renown. So Hashimoto came out with the plan, Suzuka and Kumi executed it, Oda set up the location and Kikuchi corroborated as witness so as not to get involved. Hence all of them are directly or indirectly involved. Now they are hounding for proof, Holmes tells them to hear it from Rika herself. Here she is in the flesh! She heard everything from the hidden camera in Kana’s pendant. She pulls out a gun. That is when everybody starts accusing each other and all the real truths come out. Like Suzuka purposely dated Oda just to piss Rika off and Hashimoto never believed they could surpass as Rika’s successor. Rika then fires at Hashimoto. Gotcha. Just a toy gun. Now that she has known the truth, she is contemplating whether to turn them to the police or not. So as not to spoil tonight’s Valentine’s Day, Aoi gives Holmes handmade chocolates with Sherlock prints. He is delighted since Valentine’s Day is his birthday too. But Holmes start thinking Aoi doesn’t like him to the point she hates touching him? She quickly touches his hand as proof she does not. Oh, just remembered, he gives Aoi her appraiser gloves as present. I guess she earned it.

Episode 12
Holmes and Aoi are invited by Sakyo (Rikyuu’s dad and Yoshie’s ex-husband) to his grandpa’s estate for an appraisal. Sakyo’s other brothers, Tsukasa and Kazuhiko all look different and it is no secret all of them had different mothers. Also here are other appraisers the brothers hired for this like Keiko Fujiwara who is a curator of a museum in America (is this some sort of battle declaration when she kissed Holmes as a form of greeting?) and would you not expect Ensho? Ukon Saitou doesn’t view Aoi as a great appraiser and puts her to a test. As expected, she passes after appraising some tea bowls. He apologizes for his rudeness and has her team up with Rikyuu. You see, Ukon has all of them here to determine his successor. After his first wife died young, he had his sons raised by different mothers. Each with their own abilities. Hence he wants to test them as the one who can guess which treasure is the most valuable in the house will be his successor. Their appraiser assistants are only allowed to observe. Appraising the various treasures around the house, Aoi also notes the appraisers’ body language as they observe. While taking a break, Keiko talks to Aoi and hints that Holmes once spent the night at her place. Aoi got so worried she ran away? While thinking alone, she is approached by Ensho who is curious of why Holmes values this worthless girl. Ensho is getting a little aggressive on her when, you guessed it, Holmes comes running to give him a high kick! Blocked! Holmes denies that they are dating and the showdown ends when Kazuhiko calls for Ensho. Aoi tells Holmes that what Ensho said about her is somewhat true. Something in regards to her ex-boyfriend wanted to make love to her but she rejected him. Hence he dumped her because she was too prudish. Holmes assures she has not done anything wrong and shouldn’t blame herself. Is this a sneaky way for her to get him to hug her? I don’t think Aoi is that kind of person.

Ukon hears their answers. Tsukasa and Kazuhiko have their pick but why is Sakyo’s empty? He saw the mirror and believes that the most valuable treasure are themselves! WTF?! Ukon scolds him he already told them it is an object and not humans. This isn’t a trick question! Sorry, no plot twist. Like as though he knows Holmes already knew, he has him explain the family’s greatest treasure. To cut it short, it is some sword that supposedly belonged to Mitsuhide Akechi. Yeah, Holmes should have become his successor. Later Rikyuu apologizes to Aoi for always being mean to her. He felt she had stolen something important to her but now makes peace and considers her his successor. Aoi then eavesdrop Holmes and Ensho talking about the real valuable treasure in the house. Ensho thinks it is some pot but Holmes says it is a screen painting. Ensho admits his lost today as Holmes further mocks him how he can never understand the works of that painter (who doesn’t leave traces of his works behind) because of his desire to create fakes and be acknowledged. After Ensho takes his leave, it’s like Holmes knew Aoi was eavesdropping. She asks why he is always rubbing Ensho the wrong way. He wanted to make him mad in hopes it could clear some of his clouded mind. But in fact, Holmes is actually jealous of Ensho’s talents. Aoi believes both men are jealous of each other. She asks about his relationship with Keiko. He did stay over but only because she had some rare books and it took him all night to read them. What relief. It is then Aoi realizes she is in love with him. We knew that like the first episode. I’m sure she would have wanted to say it aloud but he notes how beautiful the moon is tonight. I guess you can’t argue with that. Aoi will definitely lose! Anyway, she won’t tell him for now as she wants to treasure the time spent with him. Status quo the best. Akihito comes barging into Kura and begging to Holmes to help solve some case of his friend. But he is ignored as he goes out with Aoi instead. Hire a real detective please and not use some free service, okay?

How Do You Appraise The Value Of Love?
Oh well. If I really put my standards low and do not nit-pick and ask some hard hitting questions, I guess this series is quite watchable. Really. It is not that I was bored nor I was really confused. Maybe because my brain stopped trying to overanalyse and just accept what is being said and told. After all, how can you counter and go up against the greatest appraiser-cum-detective of all time? I mean, do you really have what it takes to argue with this guy? I’m not up for it. Better just sit back and listen to what he says and accept his words. I am very sure Holmes isn’t the kind of guy who cheats, right? Yup. Because of his reputation and trustworthiness, I am going to believe everything he says, word for word. No questions asked. No doubt at all.

But still, I need to bring and weigh in some of my experience while watching this series. Especially the value of the treasures and art that are being displayed. Because I really know nothing about the art world, everything that is being said especially about its history to me sounds like crap. Like as though they pull it out from the air and make it sound so convincing. As I am not into this kind of thing, I do not know how to appreciate this kind of value of art. Hence with all the tea bowls, vases, paintings and sculptures presented, my first impression would be, “Oh. I guess that looks okay”. And the rest were like, “Meh. Whatever”. You see, art is a very subjective subject and it depends on the eye of the beholder. Just like beauty. So while some may find this certain treasure to be artistic and beautiful, to me it just feels normal. And because a majority of expert appraisers put a high value on it, hence this piece of crap (sorry, that is what many modern contemporary art feels like to me) suddenly becomes high in value. But then again, we are dealing with ancient artefacts and while it holds more value (because the creators are dead), people like me who aren’t into the world of art would just brush it off as anything extraordinary. Oh look, a vase. Nice patterns on it. That’s all. Don’t start spouting all that historical crap and its creator thingy because it would start to feel like history lessons.

This brings me to my next point on what is considered fake and genuine. To the untrained eye, one cannot tell the difference. But does it really matter? Even for example if you bought a fake and thought it was real, does it matter? If it does, it was probably the thought of being scammed that you paid millions for something that isn’t real. Hence while watching this series when they play the game of true or fake, I was like, “What the f*ck is the difference?!”. Can’t tell. And boy, Holmes sure knows his work and history very well for he is able to just tell everything with precision. Like as though his brain is a computer and has recorded all the data of every art piece in the country. Like as though he produced the script of this series or even created that fine ware himself, he can instantly tell the fake from being genuine. We get it. A fake is a fake. But does it really matter? I mean, really, really, really matter like your life depends on it?

So if a creator only created one single artwork that became famous overtime, does it matter you need to have that real thing in your establishment? For example, Mona Lisa. I’m sure the original one is sitting in Louvre, France. So if your café is themed after Mona Lisa, do you need to have the real one? Or would a replica suffice? See what I mean? And for those rich people who enjoy collecting such genuine arts, I guess it must be the pride to have the only artwork ever in the world to sit in your mansion, huh? Not that I understand it either.

Anyway, in view of all this, if you really want to do your research on the history and values of the art works featured here, be my guest. Hence every episode of this series feels more episodic in nature than one continuous story. Sure, we have that cheesy romance between Aoi and Holmes in between (more on this later) but I guess when you are in this sort of genre, solving mysteries become the core and pillar. Thus this series follows a particular banal pattern. Holmes gets invited to appraise something. Aoi tags along. Some sort of incident relating to the art piece. His keen observations and a few questionings has him solve the entire puzzle and he makes it look so flawless in doing it because it’s like they don’t want to waste our precious time while hearing him explain. Damn this guy is so f*cking good, he should be considered as Japan’s living treasure! In later parts of the series, real detective work was mixed into like that bisque doll and Rika’s case instead of the usual art appraising works. I suppose Holmes needs to live up to his detective namesake as well even if he doesn’t like it.

Hence the characters, what else can I say? Holmes as the main character is so flawless in his appraisal of art that he could be God himself. Like as though he is a producer of this series and can tell what is going on next. In order to give him some ‘flaws’ in his character, he is a bit sarcastic but in a polite manner. Therefore the punch line of Aoi always quoting him as nasty. Really? This is nasty? Man, you haven’t really seen real nastiness and that nastiness of Holmes is just 1%. Aoi as his apprentice sometimes feel redundant. She is like a character that is needed to play up some romance drama factor and if this show was Holmes being lone wolf going around appraising and solving mysteries, he still would have been successful without Aoi’s presence. I guess we need her character so that she could observe and learn as well as sometimes as a reason for Holmes to explain to us viewers. And the way Holmes says “Subarashii” whenever he appraises a fine art, does this somewhat mirrors to one of Sherlock’s famous quote, “Excellent!”?

The beautiful works of the art pieces make a perfect excuse and cover up for their feelings for each other. We can tell right from the start that they like each other but conveniently the appraisal thing always gets in the way. Every episode there are short moments hinting of that as we see them spend some time together. Usually Aoi flustering as she starts overthinking. Can’t blame her. She’s a girl at that age. So when want to confess and start dating? Oh dear. From what she said at the end, looks like it’s not anytime soon. What is with that Keiko distraction anyway? Like as though that Keiko character was only needed just to push this narrative. Aoi having issues with her ex-boyfriend at first serves as a mask to be confused about her feelings for Holmes. I mean, they already broke up, right? With Aoi upgraded to Holmes and her ex downgraded, it’s like Aoi eventually won the lottery. Now she gets to be around beautiful people and beautiful things. Wow. Love and life so beautiful. And because their blooming love is going to take an awful long time, does it tell us that you can’t really put a price on love? Oh yeah, one diamond ring is enough to seal it! Haha!

The other supporting characters don’t really make a great impact. For example, I don’t know why they had to introduce Rikyuu because the most he does is trying to lap up to Holmes, afraid that Aoi would take him away from her. Thank goodness Holmes isn’t into this shota gay thingy. I don’t really see the relevance of having him around unless you talk about some really minor stuffs like with him around, at least Aoi can now accompany Holmes around as they have somebody to man Kura. Hey, it’s not like Takeshi shows his face around often, right? Even Seiji makes more appearance than this dad because with his connections, at least Holmes gets to attend various events on his behalf. Akihito feels like the comic relief dude of the series because it doesn’t make sense why he would often stick around Kura. With Yoshie in the picture, it seems like a legit reason for him to hang around here more often but other than that, his character isn’t really pivotal to the plot and can be done without. Many of the other characters only appear once in that episode, never to be seen ever again. Yeah, I suppose they don’t want to ever cross paths with Holmes again.

Sad to say that the best character that I want to vouch for is Ensho. Like every main character, he must have a natural enemy to rival his work. Too bad Ensho does not appear in every episode and when he does, he gives the series the much needed tension and drama which is much better than that aforementioned cheesy love drama between Holmes and Aoi that went nowhere. Now, I’m not vouching for Holmes x Ensho gay time but I would really like to see them pit their brains and clashing personalities. Something that is rarely done. With Ensho around, Holmes will always be on his guard as there is no telling where this imposter might show up. But I’ll bet if Holmes is there, he’ll be there. They missed an opportunity to call him Mori-Art-y. Get it? Art? Okay, maybe not. Is it funny that Holmes always knows Aoi is in danger and goes to rescue her at the very precise moment? Or is it because he wants to be where Ensho is? Boy, this is going to be complicated and strange if this love story extends to this part. Say, whatever happened to the issue of bold counterfeit agents trying to con appraisal shops? That sounded like an interesting plot but I guess when you have Ensho being the best in his field, this promising potential is discarded.

As mentioned at the very start of this blog, the reason why I watched this series is because of a certain beautiful someone. Oh Aoi, you’re such a cutie and hence many of the characters have this bishoujo and bishonen look. After all when you have a series about artworks, it is best that you make good the aesthetics as well. Not only the characters look good but the background and sceneries too. As this is set in Kyoto, the natural environment as well as the many shrines are a sight to behold. Not to mention the many treasures featured. I didn’t do my research but I believe they are real. So if they look real enough, the reproduction of these works here are they considered as replicas? Anyway, they look decently good but if you ask me if I really want to own them, not really. Don’t want to have to collect dust too. Hey, I got no servant to dust them every day!

This series is done by Seven who specializes in doing short series like Okusama Ga Seitoukaichou, Ai Mai Mi, Danna Ga Nani Wo Itteiru Ka Wakaranai Ken, Recorder To Randoseru, Strange and Morita-san Wa Mukuchi. Perhaps doing full length animation isn’t their forte. Not to say this series is that bad but I guess it is better than the other series I watched, Ousama Game The Animation. Oh, this studio also produced quite a few 2D porn… Maybe that is why the romance in this anime felt cheesy. Because it didn’t lead to porn… Just kidding!

I recognized a few seiyuus here, namely Kouji Yusa as Ensho (I have a feeling this guy is starting to enjoy voicing villainous roles like in Lord Of Vermilion and Nanatsu No Taizai: Imashime No Fukkatsu), Rikiya Koyama as Seiji, Sayaka Ohara as Yoshie and Yui Horie as Saori. The other casts are Kaito Ishikawa as Holmes (Iida in Boku No Hero Academia), Miyu Tomita as Aoi (Kuina in Hinako Note), Sanae Kobayashi as Rikyuu (Xing Huo in Tsubasa Chronicle) and Ryouhei Kimura as Akihito (Kodaka in Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai). I somewhat like the opening and ending themes. Like the opener, Koi Ni Saku Nazo, Hara Hara To by AOP is a blend between anime pop and traditional music, which makes it quite fun to listen. That kind of feel that somewhat reminding me of the best opening theme in Kyoukai No Rinne. Hosoyuki by Wagakki Band as the ending theme is not bad either. It is more dramatic and ups the use of the traditional instruments like the koto or shamisen and shakuhachi in the background. I kept wondering why it felt similar to the ending theme in Sousei No Onmyouji as Hotarubi was sung by the same band!

Overall, not one of the best series out there even in its particular season. It was only watchable to me because of all the beautiful aesthetics but the story and characters are otherwise just mediocre. Making it incomprehensible if you are not the least an enthusiast in the art world, at least the Japanese one for this series. Every appraisals made by Holmes feel like the ‘reward’ for sticking through that episode and like I’ve said, the appraisal explanations don’t make sense unless you know your stuffs really well. I doubt that many anime viewers could even guess it or know what is going on. To be fair, Holmes does not live up to the greatest fictional detective because he never intended to be one. So I guess he is better off doing what he does best and love in appraising fine art. Going back to elementary is most excellent.

Kokkoku

October 21, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Persona 4 The Animation

July 29, 2018

I heard that Persona 5 as the video game was one of the very few excellent games to have come out in recent times. If you’ve been following the video game industry even casually, you would know the state of the industry with all the anti-consumerism tactics and sh*tty and unsatisfying games that hit the market. Not to say that I have played any of the Persona games ever in my life, but with so many rave reviews even from the western side, I thought of giving this series a chance. Yes, Persona 5 even got adapted into an anime subsequently but I’m starting off with Persona 4 The Animation first. Persona 3 was adapted into an anime series as well but I’m too busy watching other animes to go back that far. Heh. After all, all the Persona sequels are not related to each other so I wouldn’t lose much. Oh right. I might be just plain lazy…

Episode 1
Yuu Narukami arrives in the sleepy backwater town of Inaba and is picked up by his mom’s brother, Ryoutarou Doujima and his daughter, Nanako. Back home while unpacking, he hears a strange voice in his head. Why do these kind of voices make you feel pain? At school, Chie Satonaka and Yukiko Amagi quickly become his friends. It seems everyone has to be careful because a woman’s body was found skewered on a TV antenna. Doujima a police detective is investigating this case. Next day, not sure how Yousuke Hanamura crashed into a garbage bin but with Yuu pulling him out, he wants to thank him with a treat. Chie wants in on this. They talk about the rumours of Midnight Channel in which if you watch alone the TV at midnight on a rainy day, your true love will pop up on the screen. That night Yuu tries out of curiosity and is almost sucked in! But could it be just a dream? He tells this to his friends but they find it hard to believe. Especially his TV was too small to fit him. Chie suggests getting a bigger TV and since Yousuke’s dad is the manager of an appliance store, well you can see where this is going. There, the news coverage is played over the recent murder. The witness who found the body was their classmate, Saki Konishi. It’s a reason why she was absent today in class after all the attention was on her. When Yuu touches the TV screen, his hand seems to go through. With Yousuke panicking, the trio get absorbed. They find themselves in a strange misty land. They start running from whatever they think is chasing them until they bump into this strange bear (balloon?) creature, Kuma. He tells to escape because the Shadows are here. He passes them a pair of glasses and runs away. Yeah, those Shadows are here. Yuu could see them when he puts the glasses on. When they are cornered by those perverted licking Shadows, it’s like Yuu knows what to do when the strange voice speaks to him. Yeah, he knows the magic word of Persona that summons his fighting avatar and kicks ass! Man, it’s like he knows how to work this thing all along. Feeling good about your new power?

Episode 2
Kuma accuses them for barging here and riling up Shadows. He throws them back into the TV and they return to reality. Yuu notices a poster similar as the one in the room of the other world. Misuzu Hiiragi is the wife of the man who had an affair with Mayumi Yamano, the murdered woman. Could she be connected to the murder? Next day, a creepy guy, Mitsuo Kubo bugs Yukiko to go out with him. She rejects him and he gets mad and runs away? An emergency meeting is held. The principal announces Konishi is dead. Yousuke is in shock because he has a crush on her. He tells his friends about the Midnight Channel. He was curious and tried it. He saw Konishi’s face. He thinks the one you see there will die. The only way is to go back into the TV to find out more. Yuu agrees to go with him. As they enter, Kuma is not pleased they have returned. He accuses them for throwing people here. He can tell when they do so because this place is foggy. When it is not, the real world is foggy and that is when the murders happen. Yousuke didn’t like his accusations and unzips him! Empty?! Putting this egg bear back together again, he agrees to believe them but hopes they could help him solve the culprit who throws people here. As they move along, they hear voices of people badmouthing Konishi as well as some family argument. But the one that cuts the sharpest is Konishi herself revealing she never liked annoying Yousuke and was only good to him as he is the son of a manager. Yousuke denies all this and this materializes a clone who is actually a Shadow. He reveals or the hurtful and embarrassing truths about Yousuke in which he denies. The more Yousuke denies all that, the Shadow becomes real and takes its own Persona form. Yuu summons his Persona to fight but Yousuke is still traumatized by all the hurtful truths. And then Yuu punches him! Because all that matters is he loves Konishi. That was enough to wake his eyes up. As Yousuke starts accepting himself, the Shadow ‘dies’. Now it becomes his Persona. The guys return to the real world and Yousuke wants to work with Yuu to solve these murders.

Episode 3
Chie is worried as she cannot contact Yukiko. Worse, she thinks she saw her in Midnight Channel. Thankfully she gets a call from her. She was busy attending to a surge in non-reservations staying at her family’s inn. To make sure if it was here, they watch the Midnight Channel again. This time a clear view of Yukiko in a princess outfit ‘announcing’ how she wants to snag a hot guy and a harem of them before running into a castle. Next day, for some dumb reason, Yousuke brings a couple of toy samurai swords to show it off to Yuu. Naturally they get arrested by the police station but get bailed out by Doujima. They learn Yukiko is now suddenly missing. A police detective, Tooru Adachi mentions they have been contacted by the family to look for her. He carelessly says about rumours that Yamano who was staying there got involved with the manager who is Yukiko’s dad. She might be laying low for some reason. Chie almost blows her top had not the guys calm her down and leave. The best way to solve it is to head back into the TV. Chie so eager to protect her friend rushes in as she leaves the guys to fight the Shadows. Inside a room, Chie hears Yukiko’s voice. She hates her name and existence until Chie came along and brought meaning to her life. In short, Yukiko views herself as useless while Chie as superior. Chie is surprised to see a clone of herself. The Shadow claims Chie enjoys being superior over Yukiko since she envies Yukiko’s beauty. As expected, Chie denies all that and this gives the Shadow its Persona form. Chie is paralyzed from the denials and the guys have a hard time fighting the multiple Shadows. Until Yousuke snaps her out by saying their friendship was real. Yeah, that was it. Although the Shadow becomes weaker, it is still a tough nut to crack. Because Yuu is the main character and so called chosen one, he gets a sign to summon another Persona. A chibi Jack-O-Lantern? It burns through the Shadow. Chie accepts this inferior part as herself and now gets her own Persona.

Episode 4
The friends are rushing to find Yukiko. They find her. Not. That’s her Shadow. The real one is of course being trapped in a cage as we see her mundane life of being busy helping her family inn or being saved by Chie. When the friends arrive, the Shadow relishes her princes to come save her. Time for Yuu to activate a new Persona so a cue for the Shadow to attack Chie. As expected, the more the Shadow rants about the truths, the more Yukiko denies and this materializes the Shadow into some monster bird. This is by far the creepiest Persona ever. It gets stronger as it claims Chie isn’t the prince she is looking for who will whisk her away from it all. Time for this episode’s Yuu’s words of realization: Chie may not be her prince but she did come to rescue her. Yeah, the Shadow just got madder. With Yukiko still rejecting herself, Chie has something to say. She admits she always envied her as she has everything she wanted. Good grades, good looks and guys hitting on her. That’s when she felt good when Yukiko depended on her. Yukiko continues to lament she is not strong as she thinks she is. Unlike her pet bird who escaped on its own when she forgot to lock its cage, Yukiko doesn’t know how to escape. Chie acknowledges they aren’t what they think to other is. She too has her own horrible side. All she wants is for them to be friends. And with the cliché power of friendship, the Shadow starts weakening. Yukiko breaks out of her own cage as the guys finish off the weakened Shadow. Both girls come to terms with each other as Yukiko admits she created this princess persona as a form of escapism. With her accepting her flaws, she gets her own Persona. I think this is by far one of the better looking ones.

Episode 5
Chie has Yuu help out her friend in the basketball club, Kou Ichijou. It seems they are short on members. Yeah, that guy is so obliging. Worse, everyone else in the team isn’t interested in basketball especially the manager, Ai Ebihara. So obliging Yuu is that he ditches school with Ebihara to go shopping with her! Okay, so he thought she was going to get stuffs for the basketball team, but still. He learns she likes Ichijou and is forced to find out his type of girl. He obliges. Guess what? Ichijou likes Chie! Ebihara heard that and is so depressed that she wants to kill herself! After Yuu stops her, he learns about her bullied past and hence the reason she did what it takes to become popular. Ebihara wants him to take responsibility and date her. Yeah, he obliges even though he doesn’t want to. Is no a hard word in his vocabulary? Heck, they even ditch school to go date! More like queen control. You know something is wrong when Yuu hangs up on her! But he has to be that good guy so he shortly calls her back to apologize. WTF. When Chie thinks he is being mistreated, Yousuke misinterprets she likes him and tries to set them up. So she pops up at the basketball club and receives those piercing stares from Ebihara. In the locker room, Yuu hears from Ichijou he might quit after the next game since he parents don’t approve of being in the club. So if he wins, he will confess to Chie! Oh dear. As the match gets underway, Ebihara and Chie start arguing and get into a slapping fest! OMG! Why isn’t anybody noticing this b*tch slap and focusing on the one-sided match? Until Yuu spots this and tells them to stop since this is Ichijou’s last match. Too bad their team lost. In the aftermath as they eat, Yuu apologizes for not living up to his expectations. But Ichijou is okay since he changed his mind. He loves this game and will not quit. So until he wins, he will confess to Chie. Looks like I can see a losing streak… With Chie opting out since she isn’t compatible with a certain person, Ebihara has turned over a new leaf and tries to be a better manager. She thanks Yuu for it and gives him those photo prints whereby she tried to kiss him. Ugh. You can keep that.

Episode 6
Kanji Tatsumi is rumoured to beat up a motorbike gang and became their leader. Such badass guy holds a cute bunny strap?! So weird… Doujima calls Yuu that he will be working late on the case and cover for his colleagues so he won’t be home. This means Yuu has to take care of Nanako. Don’t worry, she gets to hang out with Yuu’s friends. She shows her mature side when the friends learns her mom died in an accident. She doesn’t mind it all since she has dad and ‘big brother’ and that she is having fun now. Later the friends converge to talk about the murders. Yousuke deduces the targets have something in connection with Yamano. They agree to keep watch on Midnight Channel as they believe it is a warning for their next target. Not sure about who got the balls to interview Kanji because the camera crew got attacked. Yeah, he appeared on the news. And what are the chances he appears on Midnight Channel too? The friends know his family runs a textile shop and as they head there, they see Naoto Shirogane just leaving. Kanji isn’t back yet and Yuu notices a familiar scarf. They remember it from Yamano’s room in the other world. Kanji’s mom tells them Yamano specially ordered it. When they leave, they see Kanji speaking to Naoto. Kanji misinterprets Naoto is being gay for him!!! He spots the quartet spying on them and getting the wrong impression so they flee. It is suggested they keep watch on him and his shop. Yuu and Yukiko keep watch over his shop while Yousuke and Chie spy on Kanji and Naoto. Because they are bickering, Kanji spots them. Time to run. It becomes one farcical chase and even more nonsensical when some beef bowls Chie ordered from Aika Nakamura, she really come delivering them on her scooter! Scooter can match their running?! Even got time to pay and get change?! Oh, screw this. They manage to lose Kanji and Chie gets to enjoy her meals. Just leave the bowls… Where to leave them? If you think that was bad enough, wait till Yuu sees this shocker on Midnight Channel. Kanji acting as some macho gay guy!!! WTF???!!!

Episode 7
Doing more investigation, Kanji’s mom says her son recently beat up bikers because they were too noisy around the area. Outside, a boy is looking for Kanji. Apparently he lost a bunny strap his friend gave him. Kanji promised to make him one. Yes, he made this almost perfect duplicate with his own hands! He is here to thank Kanji but too bad he isn’t around. Talking to Naoto, he says he was just asking Kanji about his recent activities. Because he point out bluntly he is acting weird, this makes Kanji acting even weirder. Naoto feels as though he is trying to hide a complex. Letting Kuma smell the bunny strap, it leads them to a gay bath… Oh sh*t… The guys have a bad idea about this. Yup, Shadow Kanji is being so gay that they summon their Personas! Better get this sh*t over quick before they lose their minds. Meanwhile Kanji is faced with his Shadow. The latter as usual spouting the truths about him disliking girls and likes boys instead. All of course he denies. Yuu and co are hesitating to open the door to this but I guess the inevitable has to happen. They’re here to save Kanji, right? Their worst nightmare with the gay Shadow being even gayer. When Kanji denies it, as expected the Shadow turns into its gay Persona. Oh God. More Shadow gay macho men! Is this going to be something like Chou Aniki?! Those gay guys are masochists too so whatever pain the girls deal them, they love it! More serious gay sh*t when the macho men loves swiping the guys’ butt and they piss off the girls by showing no interest in them. It’s already so hot in this sauna and it’s getting hotter with their blood boiling. Also, time for Yuu to do his usual because now he gets to combine his cards to create a special Persona. Also, he tells Kanji he likes his bunny strap because it is cute. It makes Kanji happy as he beats and defeats his own Shadow! Kanji accepts the fact he fears being rejected and trying to be a coward making everyone hate him. He then gets his own Persona that looks manly instead of gay. Phew. Kanji now joins Yuu’s groupie as he wants to find out who pushed him into the TV.

Episode 8
The school goes on a camping field trip. Yousuke almost died thanks to the curry Chie and Yukiko made. Apparently they went to buy everything spicy and other stuffs they think should be in curry. Like coffee. No wonder. As Yuu brings Yousuke to get some medicine, Naoki Konishi who is in charge of the supplies is not happy to see them. Right off the bat he tells them he hates them. They return to the rest and looks like they called Aika for delivery help. Lunch is saved. They talk to Kanji about Naoki. He knows him as they are childhood friends but doesn’t know more about him since they are in separate classes. He does admit after his sister’s death, he seems to be acting different. So what better way as Kanji brings Naoki himself to them and ask directly. With Yuu being too straight, Naoki is glad of this change in pace as he explains how everyone is trying to be overtly nice to them but keep their distance. He feels better after letting this out and apologizes for hating them for not even knowing them. The friends now discuss the patter of the murders and it seems those who appear on TV being interviewed are the likely targets. At night as they sleep in the tent, the guys are worried with Kanji sleeping with them! Didn’t they accept him? Yes. But not at night. Together! To prove he is a manly man, he decides to barge into the girls’ area. Yeah, they’re encouraging him. Meanwhile Chie and Yukiko can’t sleep because their fat classmate, Hanako Ootani is snoring like hell. So when Kanji crashes into them, they run to Yuu and Yousuke’s tent. The teacher is passing by so they have to hide under the covers. Close proximity. Then they put a barrier in between when they sleep. As though it wasn’t cram enough already. Yeah, they can’t sleep either. But is this better than being gay? As for Kanji, he is a dead guy as Ootani crushes him and uses him as a bolster. Next day, Yousuke forces the girls to wear swimsuits from his shop as penalty for the curry incident. Yuu’s comments blushes them before making them outrage (because their body still has the potential to mature further) as they kick the guys into the river. Kanji nose bleeding not because of the sexy babes… Then they notice upstream the teacher who drank too much last night is vomiting… Oh sh*t! On the way back, Ootani confronts Kanji. Is she going to confess? Unfortunately she turns him down as he is not her type. WTF???!!!

Episode 9
Rise Kujikawa is a famous idol. Then she suddenly quits! Shockwaves! So she goes back to her hometown Inaba because her grandma runs a tofu shop there. I know she shouldn’t overdress to make herself more suspicious but she’s like walking everywhere without any disguise so naturally everyone knows her. Then of course she feels somebody is stalking her and she quickly runs. Turns out to be Yuu returning her dropped handphone. I guess he didn’t want to attract attention by screaming out to her. Yuu and co talk about Rise who might also be a murder target as she fits some criteria. They feel keeping a watch on her would also help debunk theories that the murderer is targeting only those related to Yamano. That night, Rise appears on the Midnight Channel. The friends are split if it is her. The difference? Boobs. The guys go to talk to Rise at her tofu shop just to warn her she might be stalked. But she’s not alerted or anything because she is used to this kind of stuff. Later Doujima comes by to warn her of the same thing but she already knows thanks to those guys. This only has Doujima suspicious about high school kids coming to warn her before he does. So the friends now watch her and think this otaku nerd watching her in a suspicious way is the killer. They chase after him and tackle him down before the inspector arrests him. Case solved? Yeah, something doesn’t feel right. Is the murderer this nerdy and wimpy? Meanwhile Rise was left in Yuu’s care. Conveniently a thrown away magazine with her as the gravure idol in it. They rip off pages and make origami. Yeah, Yuu does it better. She tells him that idol version is not her and no one looks at the real her. That night, Rise still pops up on Midnight Channel. Back to the drawing board. They think it is a form of warning from the killer or his mind of the person he wants to attack next. Rise will be transferring to the local school and is here to do the paperwork. With reporters outside, thanks to Yuu, he shows her another escape route. Naturally her tofu shop is also swamped with reporters. Then they meet her manager, Inoue. He cannot accept she quit although she is adamant she won’t go back to being an idol. When he says the movie she was supposed to star in now goes to Kanami Mashita, Rise gives that worried look. He is now her new manager. Rise is being a dick when Yuu tries to ask nicely if she is lying to herself but is blamed for being like everyone else and that he doesn’t know her. Well, that idol you was fake, right?

Episode 10
Rise is on the Midnight Channel again. This time she is teasing us she’ll strip and bare it all! Next day our friends head into the TV only to find Kuma depressed because they haven’t been visiting him often enough. Must be beary lonely… Anyway, helping them to find Rise’s scent leads to a strip club. Oh sh*t. Shadow Rise continues to tease everyone with her strip show. First she starts off with pole dancing. Since nobody is getting a boner, the Shadow introduces the real Rise as her special guest. Others summon their Persona to fight but are kept at bay by other Shadows. Rise rejects herself and makes her Shadow upset as she claims if none of them is the real her, which one is then? Finally when Rise fully rejects it all, her Shadow becomes a Persona. It can scan the weaknesses of other Personas and give their just desserts. While our heroes are getting owned, Kuma suddenly turns Super Saiyan?! He is worried if they die, he’ll be alone again. So he charges straight into it and explodes? Don’t worry. Kuma lives. But he is now like a limp balloon? I guess everyone is praising about his bravery as Rise comes to accept that there is no real her. All of her other personalities makes her, her. Yup, she got herself her own Persona. Just when you think it’s over, Kuma’s evil creepy Shadow rises and threatens to destroy everything. Heck, it does so anyway as it questions what the truth is. Kuma is sucked into it as Rise uses her Persona to track Kuma. Inside, Kuma rebuts his Shadow about being lonely and finding his true self. When Yuu destroys the core, Kuma returns. Kuma laments he doesn’t know who he is and hopes to find an answer. The friends assure he is not alone and will help him find the answer. Oh, Kuma gets his own Persona too. Yuu sends Rise home as she agrees to join them to find the culprit. She is glad she has made this place her home as she hugs his arm. I think I know her motivation to stay…

Episode 11
Kinshirou Morooka is found dead. He is Yuu and co’s teacher. The friends are now demoralized since he didn’t appear on Midnight Channel. They get a shock to see Kuma in their world. Apparently there’s an exit and never thought of going through until now. So nobody else is freaked out with this mascot? Okay, cute enough not to be suspicious. Asking him about Morooka’s death, Kuma has never noticed him being thrown in. This has them wondering if the killer got impatient because they have been thwarting murders from the TV and he decided to do it on the real world. More shock when Kuma takes off his head and there is a cute boy inside! It seems he grew a body so he could score with Chie and Yukiko. WTF. I guess for convenience of the plot he can now wander around in this world without suspicions. As Nanako shops and is about to take a food, Kubo cuts in front of her and takes it while calling her rude. Something untoward would have happened had not Yuu stepped in to send that guy running away. The friends stumble into Naoto again as he explains he is a detective being hired by the police to help solve this case. He asks Yuu about Morooka not appearing on Midnight Channel but he too isn’t sure. Morooka’s replacement is Noriko Kashiwagi. She looks more like a slut and porn star… Damn this class is always screwed. From an idiotic moron teacher to a sexy slutty one. Kubo once again tries to get Yukiko to come with her but with her other friends, Kubo is chased off. To vent his frustration, he posts on the internet that he is the killer but nobody takes him seriously. This makes him even more pissed and determined to prove it all. The friends feel sad for Morooka dying like that despite never liking him. Then here comes Naoto to tell them the culprit is identified. Yeah, he doesn’t know who it is except he is a high school student (I won’t be surprised who). Too bad it is game over for Naoto since the police has terminated his services. The friends now wonder if their gathering will end too since there is no more they could do. Not if Yuu would have it otherwise. No harm checking out Midnight Channel again. What do you know? Kubo pops up and taunts everyone to catch him if they can.

Episode 12
It’s time to go hunting. Since his castle is like a video game, they have to clear the level to get to him. When they do, they see Kubo trying to deny all that his Shadow has done. Suddenly change in scene. The case is over and the friends are now shopping for ingredients for their own aftermath party. Though the friends assure they will still meet up like this, as the days and weeks pass, slowly they drift away with their own stuffs like Yukiko busier than ever helping her family inn and Rise suddenly closing down her tofu store and moving away without telling anyone. Yuu all this while could feel something is off. One night the Midnight Channel just didn’t appear but what appeared is a creepy baby (cousin to the one in Half Life?) claiming he is empty. Scared Yuu tries to summon his Persona but nothing happens. Before he gets killed by the baby, he hears Yousuke’s voice calling him and is pulled out of this illusion. Yup, we’re still fighting the boss baby. It’s like Yuu’s revenge as he summons all his Personas to showcase and defeat it. Hey, since when did Yuu obtained a whole load of new Personas? With them being victorious, Kubo returns to his normal state. They ask him if he did the murders and he admits them all. Once he did that, his Shadow vanishes. He is arrested and the case is closed. It is said he did the murders for attention. Yuu worries the friends will disband seeing there is no more incentive for them to gather. On the contrary, they still want to gather like this. I mean, they’re friends, right? With that, they have their aftermath party celebration via omelette rice cooking competition. All the girls suck to say the least. Not sure if Nanako has a zombie taste bud since all of theirs taste nice. Of course the best and the winner of it all is Yuu.

Episode 13
Nanako sees a lost fox in the rain and leaves her umbrella (and apron) with it. She then notices that Yuu has been coming home late and tired. I’m sure she doesn’t want to bug him and hence the excuse for her to follow her favourite anime detective, Loveline to go snoop about. She should know better than to follow Kuma’s nose because all he smells is great food! Next day, she bumps into Yuu’s groupies and they too are worried about him since he has recently not hang out with them. They look for him all around town but nothing. But they stumble upon weird Kuma who talks and acts funny before bolting. The next time Nanako spots Yuu, it is with a woman! So young already starting to get depressed? She tells the guys and the next time they go spy on him, he is indeed with a woman but a different one! And she has a child! Now the girls find out and they’re bent to get to the bottom of this. What woman they see him this time? A really old granny! Things are getting weirder. But it gets more depressing for Nanako since she has a chance to ask him but just couldn’t. If not for that accidental bumping with Naoto who advises her that detectives don’t give up, she wouldn’t have gotten her detective spirit back. So during the festival as Nanako looks for Yuu, she helps many others along the way. When she finally finds him, great timing for the great fireworks display. Though not explained, I’m sure Yuu was helping others. Nanako understands this and believes Yuu has been putting smiles on everyone’s face.

Episode 14
This episode explains what Yuu has been doing all along. After learning Nanako lost her umbrella, he decides to buy one but realizes he has no money. What to do? Part time job. Which job? Strangely, the fox hands him a wish plaque as well as the notice board seeking help for a private tutor. The troubled kid, Shu doesn’t like school as he is a bully victim. This leads to Yuu also landing a day care job after a friend learnt he is tutoring. A fight broke out between rich boy and poor boy regarding a broken toy. When Yuu tries to break them up, looks like he broke the toy further. He takes responsibility to pay for it. Yeah, it’s going to cost him… On another day when all the kids start fighting, he pacifies them by dressing up as Kuma. Yeah, it was hell. Even more so bumping into his friends. At the shrine, he hears an old lady falling down after being victim to a snatch thief. He sends her to hospital and her injuries aren’t serious but the cute nurse tries to hit on him. Too bad his job is more important. Next day when he is about to visit granny, the nurse on her off day flirts with him and brings him to a bar where she rants about her troubles as a nurse and is contemplating quitting. Yuu resumes his visit but is now met with poor boy’s mom. She too tells him her woes that this is not her real son but from her husband’s previous marriage so it’s awkward for her trying to be his mom.

Now that Yuu is ready for the visit, granny is discharged. She tells him about wanting to leave this town as it has too much memories of her late husband. She throws away the comb from her late husband. Yuu sees it stuck to a giant fish. Hence he orders a fishing gear from the TV shopping channel and fishes all night! Yeah, he might have cleaned up the entire river pulling out junk. Eventually he needed his Persona to take the comb. At the festival, he sees granny and returns the comb to her. He noticed she became sadder after throwing it away. He then sees Shu stealing the fireworks because his friends continue to taunt him so he wanted to ruin their fun. He gives him a board game that he could play with a friend instead and will go return the fireworks and apologize with him. Poor boy and rich boy get into a fight. Rich boy’s mom mocks poor boy’s mom for being a poor parent. Poor boy tries to beat her up but backfires. His mom protects him as she starts bleeding. Yuu calls the nurse on how to apply first aid. The night is saved with Yuu returning the fireworks in time. All that he has helped thank him as well as helping them realize what is most important. Yuu finally joins his friends at the festival but Kuma steals the show by dating all the girls. In the aftermath, Yuu has enough money to buy the toy. But what about the umbrella? The fox shows a hidden stash of money underneath the shrine’s donation box. Enough to buy Nanako’s umbrella. The fox then gives the umbrella to Nanako and even puts back her original strap on it. What a wonderful day indeed.

Episode 15
Naoto will be a transfer student at their school and will be staying here due to family issues. The school soon goes on a field trip to an artificial island but it isn’t anything like the school trip they imagine. Long boring lectures and tours of the facilities and then their lodging is what seems to be an ex-love hotel. Yikes! The girls are okay playing around with the rotating waterbed but the guys… Can’t shrug off that gay prejudice of Kanji, eh? Next day, do we need some Yuu-Chie time after he witnesses her saving a weak kid from being beaten up by ruffians? Rise brings them to a bar where they see Naoto drinking alone. They serve alcohol to minors? And let high school kids enter? Oh well, it gets ridiculous because some of them really get drunk like Kuma, Rise and Yukiko. Yuu is like having the best talent to be a host club guy. Too cool! So drunk that they play the king’s game that includes an awkward moment of Chie having to sit on Yuu’s lap before the other girls tussle over Yuu. So weird… Then they want Naoto to reveal his embarrassing past and in exchange he wants them to tell theirs. So he is just the fifth generation of family detectives who help the police. Sorry if you’re expecting more. He asks them about their involvement in the TV murders but he isn’t going to believe them about being thrown into the TV and fighting Personas. Can’t blame the alcohol because he confirms this place hasn’t been selling them for a year after some drunk incident. So WTF did some of them get drunk with then?! Next day, some of them have a hangover as they eat ramen before their trip back. Because Kuma ate too much and being a dick, they threaten to leave him behind. Yeah, he can’t cover his ticket back…

Episode 16
Naoto appears on TV to discuss about the recent murder cases in Inaba as he feels something is off. The friends also feel something off because he isn’t the kind of person who would attract attention even if it’s for a case. Naoto explains to them his theory of what he finds off. With a long period between the second and third murders and with some of the friends being kidnap victims but somehow managed to survive, he initially believed one of them was the culprit. But Morooka’s death broke the killer’s pattern as he wasn’t kidnapped nor has he been on TV. He is the only one whom the police identified how he died (Yamato and Konishi’s cause of death is still unknown). Like as though the police wanted to quickly close the case. Naoto noticed the interesting thing they said about going into the TV to rescue kidnapped people. Midnight Channel is back with Naoto appearing on it. He claims of doing experimenting on himself and walking a new path in life. With Naoto now missing, the friends discuss reopening the case. They believe Naoto made himself as a bait to be kidnapped. They also wonder if Kubo took the fall for the real killer. They split up to go find more clues about Naoto but nothing conclusive. Yukiko notices the townspeople acting strangely. They’re like happy and talking about others but also afraid of something. Inside the TV, they manage to sniff out Naoto’s whereabouts. A secret lab? Oddly, they see Naoto interrogating his Shadow and make it cry! Of course the tables are turned when the Shadow pinpoints about truth and delusions. Something about still being treated like a child when his detective abilities are not needed. Then the biggest revelation of them all: Despite his masculine name, Naoto is actually a girl!!!! Naoto is taunted that he can never become an ideal man when he is never one to begin with. With this rejection, the Shadow takes its own Persona form. But don’t get zapped. Because you’ll turn into an old hagged person!!! Old man Yousuke…

Episode 17
Yuu fights the Shadow until he too is turned into an old man. The Shadow now wants to operate on Naoto as it rants about Naoto’s ineptness to make friends since young. Time for plot convenience as Kuma knows a way to reverse the aging. Some Persona power of his to revitalize the youth back. The counterattack is successful and with the Shadow defeated, Naoto comes to terms with herself. It isn’t that she wants to become an adult or a male. She wants to become the best detective. With her own Persona, welcome to the gang. Naoto remains the same male dressing despite everyone else knowing her true gender and some mocking her but she ignores them. With Naoto’s kidnapping, it proves the real culprit is still out there. Naoto could faintly remember his kidnapping. Someone grabbed him by the back and covered her mouth. She was thrown in a sack and carried. Though not a word was spoken, she could tell the culprit is male and is working alone with no accomplices. There was also a short time between she was kidnapped and thrown into the TV. As for Kubo, he killed Morooka out of jealousy and perhaps trying to be a copycat killer for attention. But the question remains how he knew about the TV world. If Kubo knew about it, why didn’t he kill Morooka the same way like the rest? He might not know how the real killer operates and nobody in their right mind would view that world as suitable for murders. Kubo’s act verifies that the position of corpses are just what happens when someone is killed over there. More clues could have been revealed if Naoto had the courage to ask Kubo himself but couldn’t because she was scared. Wait. This activates some crush in Kanji? Oh wait. He has been showing such signs ever since they met. Naoto has everyone undergo a medical check-up to see if going to the other world has some sort of effects. Everyone is clean. Except for Kuma. X-ray shows he is empty! So how the heck does he stand upright without bones? Don’t tell me it is air because he doesn’t move like a balloon. We take a short distraction with the possible revelation of the girls’ 3 sizes but are left to our imagination when it is hinted Naoto’s measurement isn’t what is stated on paper and in reality. Also, Kanji admiring and singing praises about Naoto feels weird. This prompts him to be himself and help others understand him better. Naoto receives a love letter in his locker from a girl. But since it isn’t related to the case, she isn’t interested in reading it.

Episode 18
There is a hit and run in town. Though it is of course but won’t cause any waves, such cases are close to home for Doujima since his wife, Chisato was killed in a similar fashion a year ago. When Yuu tries to get some bandages, he finds a hidden photo containing Chisato. As Nanako explains, after her death, dad hid away all her photos and never talked to her about it (Nanako is unaware of how Chisato died). Doujima is so focused on this case that he is willing to return to work while Nanako is in the midst of having stomach cramps! Don’t worry it’s not lethal but still… She wonders at this rate if he could attend her PTA. Yuu goes to talk to Doujima about it and learns why he didn’t tell his daughter. Chisato was on her way to pick up Nanako when the accident occurred. By the time he found out, Nanako has been waiting at preschool all by herself. You mean the staffs just left a single kid there? As there was no cold witness on a cold day, Doujima was worried as a detective, he had no clue till this day on catching the culprit. More ‘woke’ questions from Nanako as she asks Yuu what happens when you die. You go to heaven. I bet that’s where mom is. She also wonders if her dad is the real one as he treats criminals more important than her. Man, she’s got a point. One night as Doujima comes home tired, when asked about the PTA, as usual he can’t make it. This is the final straw. Nanako starts crying about him caring about criminals more than her. A little arguing ensued. Then she overheard her mom died in a hit and run. It hits Doujima when Nanako says he isn’t a real father. This is mind boggling because she runs away and 2 adults lost her?! How far can that kid run???!!! I MEAN SERIOUSLY!!! They think she wants to go to heaven but thankfully find her at the riverbed, the place where the family used to pick flowers. Doujima wants Yuu to talk to her as he is more family to her than him. But he asks if he is going to run away again. Doujima mans up and talks to her. Get ready the tissues for an emotional father and daughter reconciliation. In the aftermath, Doujima spends more time with her, even turning this random day today to be their family day. Uh huh. The day they become a real family. And he is also available to attend her PTA. Wow. Conveniently happy ending is so conveniently happy.

Episode 19
School cultural festival. Yousuke suggested their class to do a group dating café as a joke and everyone except Chie seems to accept it! If that is not bad enough, Yousuke without permission enters the name of his female friends in a pageant contest. With Yuu’s 30 minute explanation on pageants, I guess the girls can’t back out now. As revenge, Chie enters the guys’ names in a cross-dressing contest. This is sure going to be fun. During the preparation, Yuu befriends a struggling trombone player, Ayane Matsunaga. She is having troubles trying to get her act together since her club will be playing during the festival and she is supposed to replace the role of an injured senpai. Yuu and co try out the group dating café. It’s so weird when they all know each other. It gets weirder when Yousuke asks their ideal type only for himself to almost start falling for Yuu!!! WTF?! They’re not even drinking alcohol! Time for more trombone drama with Matsunaga continue to screw up in practice. Luckily her senpai returns and with everyone’s approval, she gives her role to him. Yuu can tell she isn’t happy with this so what else this nice guy has got to do but listen to her love for music. He takes her around the festival until Ebihara hijacks him so she could do some love life fortune telling? The event we’ve been waiting for! Okay, not. Time for our guys to step up for their cross-dressing. Kanji is the worst Marilyn Monroe ever, Yousuke a creepy high school girl, Yuu a delinquent girl (somehow the girls love his badass-ness) and Kuma as Alice In Wonderland. It’s no surprise Kuma wins it and since he’ll be the judge of the beauty pageant, he announces it will be a swimsuit contest. Oh yeah! See the girls in their swimsuits! Now this is what we’re waiting for. However the hall isn’t filled with people since Kanami is in town doing a shoot so many ditch this to watch that. Yeah, only losers see this pageant, right? Ironically we won’t get to see Naoto in her swimsuit because she is so shy (but enough to give Kanji nose bleeds) and she won!!! WTF?! Power of imagination? While Rise accepts her loss and even says whatever Kanami does isn’t her business, she can’t help feel disappointed. Yuu as usual tells her it is natural for her to be upset. Being Rise is part of who she is. This gives her motivation to return to showbiz next spring. She invites him to be her manager but he declines.

Episode 20
Yukiko invites Nanako to stay at her inn seeing Doujima had to be away. The rest misinterpret this and invite themselves along. The guys notice something strange in their room but couldn’t put their finger on it. When they decide to hit the baths, they are shocked the girls are in there. I wonder if there are endless supplies of wooden buckets for them to throw at them. Why the hell does Yuu think standing their ground is such a good idea?! Retreat! Eventually Yukiko realizes it was her fault since she mixed up the bath times and it is supposed to be the men’s turn. So the guys later try again at another section and end up in the wrong one again. Did they not read the sign this time? Yukiko is faced with a bunch of reporters who are trying to coax her into doing a special programme of her cursed inn. When she refuses, they badmouth the inn and this causes her to snap and tell them off. They threaten to air this but had to back off when she threatens back about complaining to their sponsors. Since the girls still haven’t got over the guys trying to peek at them, they continue to label them as perverts. Even Nanako is starting to think Yuu and Kuma are one. Back in their room, they realize this was the room that Yamano stayed. Now they can’t sleep. With everything not going their way, I guess Yousuke gets this last ditch attempt to sneak into the girls’ room. They get excited when they first go through their stuffs before lying next to them. Then something feels odd. The girls sleeping there are actually fatty classmate and slutty teacher!!! OMFG!!! In fact they are so deprived of men that they want them to stay!!! Monsters unleashed! It didn’t take long this time for Yuu to issue the retreat order. Phew, that was close. Their chastity still intact. Thank goodness. Later Yuu talks to Yukiko that she is going to take an exam to obtain a licence to run this place. The irony was how she wanted to leave this place. After the battle with her Shadow, she felt she wanted to protect it even more. Flashback a few days ago, Yuu received a letter ordering him not to save anyone anymore.

Episode 21
Naoto tried tracing the letter but its source cannot be determined. Seeing that it was sent directly to his mailbox, it could be the perpetrator is closer to them. That night, Midnight Channel pops up but it is unclear who the person is. Next night, Yuu receives another letter. This time it warns him if he doesn’t stop, someone close will be killed. Doujima sees this and wants an explanation. Wow. Even if he is family, Doujima won’t break protocol and interrogates him at the police station. Yuu tells the truth about Personas and Shadows but obviously Doujima thinks he is lying. So Yuu is going to stay in the lockup tonight?! Nanako calls Yousuke about Yuu receiving a weird letter before dad took him to the police station. Oddly, there is a TV in the lockup because it is Nanako’s face who pops up!!! As deduced by Naoto, Nanako may not be seen on TV but heard. A politician who often appeared in the news and visited Nanako’s school used to quote her anonymously. She is on his way to check if Nanako is still in. By the time the guys come to get Yuu, they tell him Nanako is missing. Doujima rushes to go find her. I don’t know how weakling Adachi could lock up all the other guys in the same room. The girls want to bust them out but I guess it makes more sense to explain what’s going on than resort to violence. When Naoto checked the place, there was no break in. Hence the culprit is someone she knew and Nanako opened the door herself. Also, the culprit must be carrying a huge TV in his car. But who would carry something big without others noticing it? Yuu realizes it is a delivery truck. Coincidentally in this small town, the local delivery company only has the same deliveryman every time. It seems that guy matches the police profile too. Taro Namatame was a city council secretary before becoming a deliveryman. The guy who also had an affair with Yamano. With the puzzle of the pieces together, Adachi lets them out. He then calls Doujima about it. Super coincidence the delivery truck was just passing by. Police chase! Delivery guy is so panicky that he swerves his truck to force him off the road. By the time the friends come, Doujima is lying bleeding on the ground. The culprit is gone. There is indeed a TV in the back of the truck. Yuu becomes desperate to save Nanako. He is calmed down that if they fail, who else is there to save her. Naoto discovers a notebook left behind. It contains the names of all the victims (except Morooka). It also states he discovered the existence of a new world and must save people. Yuu is determined to save Nanako after seeing the letter she dropped that congratulates him on his test. Even more determination when Doujima leaves it to him to save her.

Episode 22
What is this heavenly garden space? Namatame takes Nanako and run. How far can he run? I can’t believe he runs faster than the group of young people. Anyway, they still got time to talk. Namatame claims they are the killers and he is the one saving them. Cue maniacal laughter so an immense amount of Shadows could absorb into him and transform into a terrifying Persona. Yuu rushes in to save Nanako but gets mind controlled. Namatame uses his Personas to keep the rest at bay. I guess Nanako’s voice gives them the much needed distraction for the rest to pound Namatame. The power of lolicon is strong with Yuu rescuing Nanako from Namatame’s clutches. At this point, the other friends are mind controlled. Not too sure about this spirit of Doujima giving extra power to Yuu to power up and summon a golden dragon? Is this Dragonball reference? With everyone free again, they take down Namatame for good. However Nanako is unconscious and is wheeled into ICU. Everyone is anxious and starts blaming themselves if they hadn’t listened to Namatame’s rant and instead went straight rescuing her, this wouldn’t happen. Yeah, in TV world, everyone always talks first action later. So I don’t blame you guys for that… But it’s the power of believing in her because many days later, Nanako is recovering and police interrogation has Namatame admit to the kidnappings and killings. He regretted to all he did and was just scared. Adachi lets in a little secret from their investigation that it seems Namatame was also trying to make advances on Konishi. The fog is thicker than usual in their world. The people are concerned and some have gone a bit crazy thinking it contains some sort of virus. When the friends put on their glasses, they see a clear view. Could it be the fog is leaking from the TV world? Kuma is sad that since the case is over, there is no more reason for him to stay. Of course they welcome him to stay anytime and this makes him happy. Hey, I thought they’re supposed to help find his origins too? As the friends discuss the Christmas present they should pick for Nanako and the party for her release, Yuu gets a distressing call. Nanako’s condition has suddenly turned for the worse. Yuu is allowed to be by her side as he tries to desperately assure they’ll always be together. But Nanako’s heart stop beating… Nanako!! NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 23
Let the tears flow… :’(. Doujima heads to Namatame’s room and is going to kill him! I guess screw being a detective once your only reason to live is gone. The friends hear something going on in his room and enter. Hey, what happened to the police guys stationed outside? They think he is trying to escape. All get mad at him when Midnight Channel pops up. A Shadow version of Namatame taunts them that the law cannot touch him. He dares them to kill him because alive or dead makes no difference to him. Naoto gets this idea to throw him into the TV. Yuu picks cowering Namatame up and is prepared to do so. The girls are against this but the guys want him to continue. In the end, Yuu couldn’t do it because it would make them no different than him. They must calm down and rationally think about this. So far, they have not heard from Namatame’s point of view. They discuss about Namatame’s motive to kill Yamano but couldn’t deduce anything motive since he was separated from his wife then who also knew about Yamano. It’s getting late so Yuu calls it a day. He then breaks down in a way we never seen him before. Only Yousuke’s around to lend a shoulder to cry on. Next day, the friends continue their investigation despite realizing Kuma has not been with them ever since. They wonder if he ‘saves’ people by killing them but if so, doesn’t that make the rest after Konishi failures? Yuu notices something strange about the warning letters. Like as though they were written by different people. They go talk to Namatame and he is willing to tell them the truth since the police refused to believe him. After his scandal was exposed, he returned to his parents’ house to hide. He saw Midnight Channel in which Yamano was seen in danger. After she was killed, he thought Midnight Channel was an SOS from her. When Konishi popped up, he recognized her as the daughter of the liquor store. He tried to warn her but she refused to listen because obviously any normal girl would think he is some sort of crazy dude. After she died, Namatame got this idea of throwing victims to the other world and then take them back out once things blow over and went around his rescue mission as a deliveryman. As the rest continued to live, he thought his mission was a success. He realized too late that one from inside could get out on their own. Kuma realizes he doesn’t belong anywhere and vanishes. Then a miracle happens. NANAKO LIVES!!!! Plot convenience???!!! Who cares?! She’s alive so the rest can breathe easy and have motivation to solve this case. As Naoto thinks the culprit is one who has connections to Yamano and Konishi as well as in a position to observe their investigating actions periodically, Yuu thinks he knows that person who fits all that criteria. I think so too…

Episode 24
Kuma now remembers. He is a Shadow from this world who took on a form of its own and made himself forget he was a Shadow. He is back to being happy after learning Nanako survived. Do we have time for Yousuke telling Yuu how much he envied him? So the make them equal, he wants to be punched? Wow. Yuu did just that! But does it change anything? Heck, he even says equality for them is when they both punch each other! Do we have time for fist fighting?! Must be their weird way of reconciling. When the friends and Doujima head to the hospital, they hear from Adachi that Namatame has been relocated. They start asking him several questions about his meetings with Yamano and Konishi and the warning letters. He plays dumb but when they accuse him of being the culprit. Because when Naoto read the notebook, Adachi felt relieved. At this point the police had no idea there were other attempted murders related to the case. Adachi brushes it all off and runs away. Where could he have disappeared in this room? See that TV? Ah… Inside the TV world, they cannot find Adachi but Kuma. He tells the truth about himself but you think they care? They welcome him back and this motivates Kuma to help find Adachi. They find him or at least his Shadow. He claims this world will soon seep into reality and humans will turn into Shadows. Adachi shows us what happened. When he confronted Yamano, he knew she lied about the affair with Namatame. After all, Adachi liked her. When she resisted, he threw her into the TV. He then talked to Konishi and tried to blackmail her about her meeting with Namatame. She resisted and got thrown in too. After Konishi’s body was found, Namatame called the police. Of all the people who picked up, it was Adachi. So he called his story a bluff and told him to save them himself. He did all this because it was interesting. So when Kubo wanted to take the blame, Adachi feared the game would be over. He threw Kubo inside the TV so the game would continue. Adachi and his Shadow clones fight the friends just to see whose world will come out triumphant.

Episode 25
Adachi claims the world is such a boring place. That’s why everyone is going to turn into Shadows and live like a zombie. Isn’t that even more boring? He talks about people fearing reality that is why they yearn for all the fakeness. He claims the friends are the same like criminals. They seek some thrill to their boring lives and hence playing this detective game. Even if Adachi is caught, so what of it? Everyone will still think Namatame as the killer. Of course the friends deny all that bullsh*t and call him a kid throwing tantrum. So cliché that bad guys lose their cool and hence their dominance. Plot convenience for them to fall and good guys to win. They beat the crap out of him. Adachi knows this is the end and tries to kill himself but the Shadows possess him. The big boss of all Shadows, Ame No Sagiri is a giant eyeball and the master of the fog. He claims all this doing is because this is what humans desire. More talk on how humans turn a blind eye to reality and rather live on in darkness and false imagery. Everything was his doing and went according to plan. Except for the parts they beat up their own Shadows and turn them into their own Personas to fight. That’s why he wanted to test them and see if it is worthy to put his trust into it. Everyone fights in vain as Yuu gets absorbed. But thankfully with all the bonds with his friends, this allows their Persona to evolve and become better looking versions to help pull Yuu out. Then he gets the honours to summon all his cards into some demon Persona and dismantle the eyeball! Now that he has seen their proven potential, he backs down. But warns if mankind so desires again, he will return any time. The real Adachi prepares for the worst to be killed by the kids but of course they tell him to be punished by the laws of their world. That’s how it works. In the aftermath, the friends see off Yuu at the train station. So he is leaving? As though he came for a case and left when everything is over. Nanako so sad that she confesses she wants to marry him when she grows up?! Okay. But no shady stuffs while she is under-aged.

Episode 26 (Special)
This adapts the true ending from the game. The friends are preparing a farewell party for Yuu. Oddly, the day restarts again and this time Yuu reads a letter for him. It is from Adachi serving his time in prison as he mentions about someone giving them strange powers to enter Midnight Channel. Yeah, why write such a vague letter with no answers? I suppose this is to prompt our friends to do their own investigation. The day restarts again as this time as he remembers when he first came to Inaba, he had a strange dream. He remembers stopping by the gas station and the gas attendant talked to him. He makes his way there and it is revealed the attendant is the one who gave them this power. All by just shaking hands. He transforms into his true form, Izanami and reveals he created the Midnight Channel although he has only been observing after that. It seems Midnight Channel shows what you want to see and the hidden side that everyone wants to show others. Hence a ‘window’ to peek and cater to both. Because like what that eyeball said, humans only want to see what they want to see. This is what the fog represents. With Yuu refusing to believe it all, Izanami shows him the truth. He is fighting a monster Persona in which all his friends have become victims of Shadows. This is the truth. Because Yuu cannot handle this, he chose to live in his own version of the fog and happiness. Hence Yuu succumbs to this and continues to relive that Groundhog Day over and over again. He looks ‘happy’. Until Margaret snaps him out of it and is disappointed in him. Not sure what is happening because it’s like she is sending Personas to attack him but with Yuu hearing the voices of all those who support him, he gets back all their Personas. Then he sees his own Shadow who admits his fear of being alone. That’s why he doesn’t care if it is all an illusion as long as they’re with him. After accepting his Shadow, he returns to fight Izanami. This time nothing could stop Yuu. He is no longer alone and will show mankind’s true potential. With his evolved Persona, he defeats Izanami and dispels all the fog. The TV world returns to its original beautiful state. The friends are alive and happy to be reunited with him. Now that Yuu is free to see the world, hence he leaves Inaba on a journey. His friends bid him farewell and promise to wait for him, believing in the bonds of their friendship.

The Golden Animation

Apparently there is an alternative version of this series that came out 2 years after the original aired.

Episode 1
This first episode plays out in the exact same fashion as the first original one. From Yuu’s arrival to Inaba to the school he enrols, to watching Midnight Channel, entering it, meeting Kuma and summoning his Persona for the first time to kick Shadow ass. Only difference is the appearance of a new character, Marie from time to time. In the epilogue, we see Margaret officially introducing a bashful Marie to us and Yuu is tasked to show her around Inaba. He just got here too so is it like the blind leading the blind? Anyway, Marie is a bit distrusting since she has no memories of her previous life whatsoever (why does this sound so familiar). Since she likes the wide space of Inaba, she puts herself in Yuu’s care.

Episode 2
Yuu introduces Marie to his friends and goes along with the premise that she is his old friend from his old school. A month down the road, Yuu has gotten his bike licence. Doujima gives him his old scooter. Yuu receives a call from Chie to accompany the girls shopping next Wednesday. Unfortunately Yousuke shortly calls him after that to fix next Wednesday to ride their bikes to go pick up girls. Since he isn’t given any space to reply, looks like he is double booked. But he has the perfect plan. As Yousuke’s plan starts first, he will go with him. He is supposed to meet up the girls in the next hour and will give a few minutes provision to go to them. And then he will return to Nanako and have dinner with her. Yeah, a perfect plan that will offend nobody. It starts out fine at first but the guys fail at picking up any girls. Just when it’s time for Yuu to leave, Kanji won’t lose out and it becomes an hour-long battle to see who can hit on the most girls. Yousuke is in a pinch but he decides to use that hour-long battle to go to the girls instead. When he arrives, he sees Chie and Ebihara fighting over the last skirt left. They enter an hour-long fashion competition and make Yuu the judge. Oh boy. So Yuu has to run in between both places, trying to hit on girls while judging their fashion sense (he is calling all of them as draws!). In the aftermath, he is dead tired and knows he is running late for Nanako’s dinner when she calls to tell him that dad is going to return for dinner too. In the end, Chie and Ebihara’s fashion contest is resolved by Marie who coordinates suitable clothes for them. Now they’re best of friends. Yousuke wins the pickup contest with a single number. However that number belongs to Ootani! Did he slip up somewhere?! The moment she sits on his bike, it breaks apart!!! And she got the cheek to tell him to up his game if he wants to date her. Double loss? By the time Yuu returns home, he is close to dead and has missed her dinner.

Episode 3
Beach episode. Our friends (minus Naoto) head to the beach during the summer vacation. Looks like everyone has got bike licence now. Time for our girls to parade their cute swimsuits. Until Kanji had to ruin our eyes with his Speedo. ARGH! MY EYES!!! Perverted Kuma tries to make nip slips but end up doing one on Kanji!!! Damn this guy is now indecently exposed!!! Are you trying to rape my eyes???!!!! When the girls are coming back, they have to quickly use seaweeds to hide his modesty. It only serves to enhance his perverted image. During the break, everyone tries to ask Marie lots of questions to get to know her but this upsets her. She runs away but Yuu talks to her about things and before your know it, they reconcile. Marie talks to Margaret about being aware of one’s true self. Because of that, she uses a video camera to record the friends’ answer regarding about their true selves as well as other stuffs. Each giving their own version of what it is that also serves as some sort of motivation to Marie. After watching the fireworks, they play their own sparklers. Yousuke is now talking about their next winter vacation plans and everyone is surprised but happy that Marie seems enthusiastic to join them next time.

Episode 4
Marie discloses to the friends that she is an amnesiac character. Of course they are eager to help her uncover her memories since the cops aren’t interested in such trivial cases. The only clue she has is a weird comb. They see Daidara the craftsman’s thoughts. He can’t pinpoint its era and feels it is out of this world. It is then Marie starts feeling pain in her head and collapses. She wakes up only to hear the friends talking to a granny about a comb not a suitable gift as it contains the words death and suffering. Next day, Marie seems okay enough to go shopping in her friends. However she got distracted by a comb stall and before she knows it, she is lost. She panics, worried to be alone. The friends start looking for her and Yuu eventually finds her at the reception. Immediately she takes his hand and walk away. She tells him she was scared because the person was asking about her real name and other stuffs. All of which she knows nothing of. She is afraid because she can’t remember anything. When Kuma is seemingly working to fix a quiz show stage, Yuu gets this idea. When he goes to talk to Marie, it seems she has almost given up on finding her identity and doesn’t care. So he ushers her down to the stage where Kuma as the quiz show host and the rest are participants. At first Kuma asks weird questions that Marie doesn’t know. But soon she is able to answer familiar ones. In the end, Marie wins the quiz and she realizes these are what memories are supposed to be. She is happy with the new ones she made and does not bother too much with the unknown.

Episode 5
Yousuke might be in trouble. He might be transferring school! It all began when Kanami was supposed to be a temporary local police chief at Inaba but it got cancelled. His dad was already planning sales and promotion from his store and with this cancellation means the end of them. He hopes Rise could be Kanami’s replacement. At first she didn’t want to buy after hearing this, I guess she relents. But with a condition that all of them join them on stage as her backup band. Hence our friends pick up and practice music instruments. They are all amateurs except for Marie who seems to be natural with the electric guitar. With Naoto deciphering how to read musical scores, everyone is motivated to play on. WTF?! Can you read scores that easy?! Marie is so obsessed in making memories that she won’t stop practising, causing her fingers to be sore. After some pro advice from Rise to take care of herself and be on tiptop condition, the practice continues until they really nail it. On the day of the concert, Rise is late to show up. Yuu gets a call from her that somebody has posted fake news she is making a comeback and holding a hand shaking event, hence a large fans gathering outside her house. Chie has an idea so she runs down there and points out to this fake Rise to give those dumb fans a wild goose chase. With Rise still not turning up, the rest hit the stage with Marie taking on vocals duty. The bewildered crowd soon accepts her and before you know it, Rise joins them on stage. In the aftermath, the friends celebrate a successful concert as well as the good sales the store made. The fake Rise turned out to be Ichijou in drag. I guess he isn’t the only one who is happy. Marie realizes she was so absorbed into this that she didn’t realize she was making memories. Eventually all this will become memories. Later when she watches Nanako leave, she starts to feel pain.

Episode 6
Why do they even need to give Adachi his own episode which is just a poor flashback one? We see Adachi arriving at Inaba as a new police officer stationed here. He has got this look on his face that screams I-wish-I-wasn’t-here. Late on his first day, Doujima lectures him about principles in which he doesn’t even give a damn. You know, the usual Adachi shrug. He follows Doujima to solve local cases and it is clear his heart isn’t in it. Heck, during the briefing, he mispronounces names so much that the team had to correct him all the time! Then one night he discovered Midnight Channel and it sparked some devilish thoughts. We briefly see scenes of him confronting Yamano and throwing her into the TV, subsequently doing the same to Konishi when she rejected his advances. Fast forward to present day, we see Marie chasing after Adachi (the source of the pain, she thinks) but loses him. When Yuu asks why, she isn’t sure and warns him to stay away from him. Then this weird scenes of a grandma treating Adachi like her substitute son as he coincidentally shares the same first name and almost looks like him. Good things come to an end when some other hot guy takes over the role. It wasn’t that Adachi was happy when she treated him, but it sure looks like he isn’t either now that this bugging old woman is out of his life. Because of that, Yuu accompanies him because he wants to help those in need! He even makes him lunch! At this point I think Yuu is the creepier one. One night, he tells and asks Adachi about Marie’s warning so Adachi talks about betrayal and stuffs. Hence it is better not to get involved or do anything from the start since it might later turn out worse. So when the kidnapping of Nanako happened, we hear Adachi’s monologue that he blames Yuu for it for trying to play detective. Did he make a pun on his name? As in, I told Yuu… Yeah, that’s the title for this episode too.

Episode 7
We’re still continuing this? Heck, even the episode title is warning and insulting us, “It’s cliché, so what?”. Taking place during the events of Nanako in coma, Yuu has got a hunch that Adachi is the culprit. So he goes to see him in the other world where Adachi tells him off that he was the one who believed in whatever version of Adachi he saw and now he gets disappointed when he isn’t so. After half a season gone, finally we get to see some Persona fight. As they clash, we have a glimpse of Adachi’s lifestyle. Not to say he was a loser but he doesn’t achieve much and is always on the side-lines. Underachiever. Since Yuu has a glimpse of this too, I think he is overwhelmed by it all so when Adachi fires a warning shot telling him to go home to his friends, he did just that. Too easy. Then he talks to Marie as she tells him about how searching for her memories became creating new ones. More about bonds and trusts but hey, they warned us about being cliché. She gives him her comb to keep because whether searching or creating memories, it is definitely going to be with him. With renewed confidence, Yuu and his friends return to fight Adachi. More about bonds and believe. Yeah, what did they tell us about being cliché? So Personas fighting turn into fist fighting. Yuu turns Adachi into a punching bag. Man, his cheeks are so bruised! Adachi even feels lame that it ended this way since they have the same power but why did he lost? Bonds. Ah… Cliché… Before they can go home, the giant eyeball hijacks him but it doesn’t take long before he defeats him. Meanwhile Marie is being told that the fog is her place. Looks like she remembers now and she fears she cannot stay with her friends anymore. So much about making new memories. She disappears along with the comb.

Episode 8
Yuu tells separately each of the girls (including Naoto, minus Marie) to keep their schedule open on Christmas Eve. This makes them nervous as they start thinking if he wants to confess. Naoto overthinks that Yuu wants to kill them?! Even more so when she sees Yukiko with a knife (present for Yuu), Rise wanting to blow him away (cooking, that is) and Chie ‘killing’ Kanji (she is watching a crappy kung fu movie with a character that sounds like him). Of course the plan is for the guys to cook on Christmas Eve and not let the girls turn this into a poison night. On that day, it seems the other guys have their own commitments and are unable to help Yuu. Kuma is kind enough to send some help. Each of the girls arrive at different times but instead of finding out Yuu’s feelings, he sends them to do errands. The help Kuma sent is Ebihara. A moth freaks out Chie as she accidentally throws tomato at her. A fight breaks out and with all the clumsiness, tomato spills everywhere. Oh, I can see where this is going. Finally Naoto arrives in a protective headgear. Sure she didn’t forget to wear the thickest armour? She misinterprets this ‘bloody’ scene as the girls being ‘killed’ and only made worse when Yuu returns with a knife in hand. Time to freak out. The murder scene might turn into a zombie scene with the girls waking up. The event is postponed next day. At least they get to celebrate with Nanako. But our disgruntled girls secretly take it out on Yuu for all that misunderstanding. The friends enjoy New Year’s Day and playing in the snow. Too bad Yuu got sick a few days later. I know the friends are kind enough to accompany him when he is sick, but it feels like a weird ritual that all of them are sitting around him. I mean, give this dude some space! Then he dreams of Marie. He doesn’t remember him but she does about him. Sadly, she promises she won’t forget about him and disappears. He wakes up in cold sweat and tears.

Episode 9
As Yuu will be moving away in the spring, the friends go on a skiing trip to make their final memories. In the hotspring, they remember the times spent together but it feels like there is something missing. Then while going through the photos of all their outings together, they find it weird that there is a gap in the middle of the group photo. They start to get scared it is a ghost photo of something. Remember that video that Marie took that interviewed all of them? Yeah, they’re watching it too and it brings back memories. But… Who is recording this video! Freak out time. Cue for blackout to stir up some screams. When the lights come back on, they see Kuma trying to eat all their snacks. The girls think this is his prank and beat him up. But Yuu believes there is someone else besides them that they have forgotten. Instead of being gloomy and racking their brains, they return to the snow for more skiing. Yuu spaces out and crashes. He is lost and the snowstorm makes it misty like the other world. Then he sees a familiar figure and goes after her. He starts to remember memories of Marie (though it is just her silhouette). Then her comb is somehow in his hands and he remembers her. Good thing there is a cabin nearby. Good thing all his worried friends manage to find this cabin and are relieved he is alive. Comb is still in his hand. Yeah, they remember who Marie is. Oh, conveniently it’s Midnight Channel time. Why the hell is there a TV in this remote cabin???!!!

Episode 10
Yuu hears Margaret’s voice that leads him into the TV. I wonder how he can fit in if the TV is quite small. Margaret tells him about bonds and truth. Not that I want to understand anyway. Yeah, I’m averting my eyes at this point. As his friends have arrived in this world but separated, Yuu uses Margaret’s power to help reunite. Along the way, the friends notice this strange surreal place. They are like places they have been with Marie. As Margaret continues to lead Yuu, she tells him about this Hollow Forest ahead. Marie has sealed herself and will forever cut herself from the rest. This is proof she has remembered all her lost memories. Because this forest isn’t completed yet, this is a reason why the friends are still able to connect with her. But once it is done, nobody gets out. Forever. This means if Marie seals herself for good, they will all forget her for good. The friends stumble into Marie (is she a clergy?). As usual they tell her to come back or tell them whatever problems because they’d be willing to listen to but she remains stubborn. She reveals her reveal name as Kusumi No Okami and is the same as that eyeball creature. In short, she is a spy sent by the gods to check on the humans. That is why she is in human form to blend in. Yuu reminds her about that comb promise she made. It descends into a childish baka argument before she has had it. She believes she is doing this for their good and out of her own consideration. I guess it’s not appreciated. She summons a few Shadows so that we can see some Persona fights. After the tough battle, they still insist to bring her back. Marie is even more annoyed. I think even more so when they spew that because-we-are-friends crap. Her denial is so strong that her Shadow engulfs her. Oh well, time for another round for their Personas to bust her out. But what’s this?! Everybody gets owned?! That’s unexpected. So much about the power of friendship. For now.

Episode 11
Marie further reveals about the fog. It is the gods’ goal to control it. Ever wonder why it never go further than Inaba and fog the entire world? That’s because Marie’s body absorbs them. Each time she dies so, it starts killing her and she feels like going insane. Hence her ‘consideration’ of saving the world and dying all alone in this Hollow Forest. BS. Even Yuu knows it. He wants Marie to say what she really wants. And after all that bugging (but of course) she finally says she doesn’t want to die and for them to help here. There. There’s your cue and permission to go save her. The power of friendship revives the other friends as they evolve their Personas again to kick ass. Yuu being the hero of course jumps into her Shadow, cuts down whatever stands in his way to rescue Marie. Gee, Marie looks so happy to be rescued by him. As though she is expecting and wanting it so badly. Now that she is saved, the epic hug could last longer had not Rise b*tch about it and this cliché of the place collapsing. As they all run out, they start laughing over Marie’s usual complaints. Yeah girl, you so funny when you tsundere. Just in time when they get out, the TV breaks. Phew. I guess nobody is going back there ever again. Marie lets Yuu know about the voice she heard in her head. She doesn’t know who but finds it familiar like the same voice she heard after they defeated the eyeball monster. She brushes it off and thinks it might be her own voice. They play snowball fight with everyone timing up against Yousuke. Great team effort. Some naughty fanservice potential when the guys try to peep at the girls in the outdoor hotspring. The fence comes down and both sides see each other naked. No prizes to guess what happens. But does Marie have lightning powers as she zaps them?! I didn’t know she had that. Nanako gives Yuu a ghostly chocolate for Valentine’s Day. Yeah, the girls thought her how to make it… Run, Yuu! But seeing how innocent she is, he feels bad if he doesn’t. The clincher is when she thanks him and says how much she loves him. Yeah, don’t worry. He eats everything! It’s a miracle he survived. Then he goes to see Marie who has her own Valentine chocolate for him. The box is pulsating… Is it something living?! Oh boy. What you gonna do? Because she is so cute and shy trying to give it to him, leave it to Yuu to finish it all. I’m starting to believe Yuu might be a demon (not god) since he survived that too. When Yuu hopes she won’t go away again, she tells him the irony of him going away in spring. She hopes to stay here forever.

Episode 12
As everyone prepares to celebrate Yuu’s farewell, Marie realizes she is turning translucent! Kuma has this idea of everyone writing down their wish and put it in a time capsule. When the loudest thunder strikes, Marie again becomes translucent and is now possessed by Izanami who claims Marie is part of her. She tries to strangle herself to kill Marie but since there is resistance, Izanami decides to test their faith. So Yuu is summoning his Persona for one last Shadow fight. Yuu cannot believe the truth about Marie and Izanami originally as one being. Yuu is in a dilemma to save his friends caught in her Shadow grip. With Izanami spouting more crap about averting eyes to the truth, she tells him the only way for him to live the way of life he wants with Marie is to shield his eyes from the truth and live a lie. It sounds tempting but before Yuu could give in to that, Marie tells him not to fall here. She tells him only the truth can defeat Izanami but he is not willing to do that because Marie will disappear. She assures him she will not. She will become one. A God. So that is not good enough for Yuu because she won’t be with her friends? Oh, don’t worry. She’ll always be around watching them. You know how God is always omnipresent, right? With this resolve, Yuu won’t hesitate anymore. The duo walk towards Izanami and their light barrier dispels any Shadows that try to attack them. Marie realizes she wasn’t disappearing but was merging with Izanami. Marie’s wish to protect wishes and Izanami’s wish to grant them made them separated due to their conflict. Yuu’s wish is for everyone’s heart to light up so as to lift the fog covering their hearts. Marie and Izanami become one. Marie vanishes with her last smile to him. The day soon comes for Yuu to leave. But a few months later, he returns. Apparently Doujima was so busy that he forgot to pick him up. Yeah, go hang out with his friends. Too bad their ploy to surprise him failed since he noticed the commotion on how to do so (note, Doujima was also in on this surprise). Looks like all of them have a little change. Like Naoto looking a bit more feminine. But the biggest change is Kanji. He looks like a nerd! Almost unrecognizable! Everyone celebrates his return at home as they show him another surprise. On TV, Marie is now a weather girl. In precise timing, she takes this chance to confess her love for Yuu! She must be damn confident he is watching this right now. Kuma wants to open their time capsule but Yousuke disagrees. A struggle has the lid open. Everyone officially welcomes Yuu back. Yuu’s wish reads he wants to stay with everyone forever. Hardly surprising.

Persona: Through The Looking Glasses
I keep wondering why Yuu had to leave Inaba in the first place only for him to come back a few months later. Heck, it’s not even a year and his return is greeted like as though he has been away for years. Yeah, the town must be so boring besides him, huh? So did he go to other towns and liberate them from their local fog and gods? Or this could just be the so called happy ending because Yuu gets his wish and everybody gets to be together again in the end. Happily ever after. Yeah, they ‘killed off’ Marie but somehow turn her into a weather girl. I am thinking people’s memories must be manipulated along the way for them not to question her origins. She just popped up like that. Now she’s telling us the weather. It’s always sunny here. And in our hearts! Just kidding.

Personally, the story seems pretty ordinary and nothing special. A group of kids in a small town playing detectives because the local authorities couldn’t be bothered in solving the mystery. I guess even when you have a workaholic like Doujima but the rest of the department are so useless, things can never get done. So having teens go into another world to summon an alter ego of theirs sounds like some sort of action battle fantasy. An excuse to put up some fights for entertainment value. But more on that later.

The original Persona spends its first half gathering the usual suspects for Yuu’s groupie. It always follows the same predictable pattern because who else in this world doesn’t have problems? If we could only face our problems and accept them so easy like them, the world would have been such a better place. Unfortunately in reality there is no such conveniences. Escaping to a fantasy world through a TV is only possible in our heads. So once all that is done, the second half tries to focus on catching the real culprit with a few fillers in between. Even halfway through the series, I could guess who the real culprit was. I’m not kidding. Because having a kid doing all those murders doesn’t seem to add up and you can sense something amiss when Kubo has been acting so strangely that even kids can tell he is a bad actor. But not our high school heroes here. Not until the plot tells them something is wrong that they start thinking the real culprit is someone else.

So when they pop up Namatame as the supposed culprit, I was pretty sceptical because if you do a murder mystery genre, it would be very unfair to the audience to suddenly introduce a character we never knew of as the killer. Yeah, so Namatame might look crazy but him being the perpetrator? Who the f*ck is he, I asked. Even pinpointing lesser casts who are close to non-existent like Kanami (who again?) or perhaps bringing back to dead like Konishi for super shocker effect would be so unfair. And true enough when Namatame wasn’t the real culprit, the true culprit, the final boss came to light. And he it came to no surprise to me. In fact I was going, “I told you!” repeatedly in my head. Mind you, I didn’t read any spoilers. The fact that Adachi has always been acting strange in the sense that he is carefree and slacking on his job, plus given the fact that he is one of those few characters who appear decently enough, makes him the biggest indicator to be the perpetrator. The cliché of the culprit is always the one right under our noses. I know Aika could be it but for this series, how can you make a cute takeout delivery girl the baddie! That’s too cruel! Yeah… So wow to myself. I could go solve murder mysteries now. Move over, Naoto. I’m the new detective prince in town!

But the oddest and weirdest plot of the story has to be the gods watching over the humans. Yeah, the world is such a huge and big place and they choose this sleepy small town as their main observation for humans?! Earth may be a small tiny place to the gods but then again, why not pick at least like Tokyo? So by summing up the general behaviour of mankind based on the actions of a few in this small town, it really makes you think if the gods were just trying to find the lamest excuse to destroy Earth. And of course based on the script, we must have a good ending and hence the incredulous logic that a group of high school teens using the power of friendship and trust, to even make the gods change their minds and let mankind live longer! Damn! These kids should just be gods.

If the original Persona’s story was just okay to me, Golden was even worse. Yeah, I don’t even know why they needed to make this alternate setting so that we could have just a new character and a bunch of fillers in that season. Yup, even though half of Golden’s episodes feel like fillers, they are ‘essential’ to the plot because it is a reason to make Marie feel conflicted about the memories she made with her friends. Even if that is the ‘plot’ for Golden, it still feels pretty weak. No wonder I read many Persona fans didn’t like this Golden spinoff alternative in the first place. It was crappy and only serves to increase the power of friendship BS. Besides, with half the number of episodes than the original Persona, with all those fillers you don’t even get to see any decent Persona fights until the final few episodes. Not even cutie pie Marie could save this disastrous sequel. Heck, she didn’t even want to save herself until her friends ‘forced’ her to.

There are quite a few no brainers or questions to ponder in the plot but by the end of it, I couldn’t remember them. Blame the fog? Me being lazy? Okay, here’s one. About Midnight Channel. It is said to appear at the stroke of midnight. Sure, it never fails to pop up on a rainy day. But what if I adjust the clock forward or backwards? Can I still watch Midnight Channel? And I’m not sure if it is a joke because Yuu has multiple times said he could record it. We never see proof because he could have just showed the police but then again, the kids want to solve them themselves, right? Then there’s the time Yuu and Doujima lost Nanako because she ran away from them after hearing the truth about mom. How far can a little girl run and 2 adults loose her who was within their sight a second ago? Oh right. Who could forget the super unbelievable miracle of Nanako coming back to life. Nanako is God!!! Then there’s that ‘drunken’ bar episode and everything else in Golden relating to Marie… Oh boy, better leave it as it is.

The characters are a mixed baggage. Each of them has their own personalities and traits. They’re both likeable and annoying at the same time. Like Yuu as the main character, he has this dense aura around him. He is also blunt and honest to your face. He is no saint either. Because when the guys get naughty like wanting to go peek at girls, Yuu doesn’t hesitate to actually join in! As Yuu isn’t a talkative character, sometimes the way he speaks makes me feel that it is as though he is some sort of retard. Even Kuma sounds better than him. Really. Go listen to Yuu’s way of talking. I bet this is why it matches his blunt personality so well. So in the initial episodes when Yuu was giving his soon-to-be-friends his honest advice, that is like supposed to be the lesson of the story or episode, I guess. Yuu could be a good counsellor or something since his words always gets through. If it doesn’t, he’ll make sure until it does!

As for the other characters in Yuu’s groupie, we can sum it up for them like this: Yousuke the best friend and joker of the group; Chie the tomboy; Yukiko the cool beauty with a laughing fit thanks to her bad sense of understanding jokes; Rise the washed up idol that nobody cares anymore; Kanji the manly gay boi; Naoto the cross-dressing failed detective wannabe; Kuma the cute animal mascot that could also double as another comic relief character. And Marie, I guess they needed some eye candy and cliché amnesiac character. I want to note something on Naoto as a detective. She basically fails in her job. At times she might sound she has a clue but that’s mostly stating the obvious or something so general that it doesn’t go anywhere. She is practically the most useless character in terms of relevance to the role among the groupie and perhaps only exists to serve as Kanji’s boner material and to prove he isn’t 100% gay. Yeah…

Too bad for anyone hoping to see some romance or love triangle but I had a feeling it would happen. No it didn’t. If it did, perhaps it would have diminished further the quality of this series. There are a few moments of Yuu having a short moment with one of the girls during those fillers but nothing really conclusive. Save for Rise who is the boldest in declaring her love for Yuu. If she was still an active idol, I bet Yuu would have received lots of death threats. Perfect for more Midnight Channel cases. But that’s another story. Now with tsundere Marie in the picture, the competition might just get heated up. Oops, ran out of episodes. Maybe next season with more fillers would do. If there are any. Now that Marie has confessed on TV and the whole town know, Rise better step up her game if she wants her senpai so badly. Oddly, all the girls are bad cooks and this has become a running joke of the series because they really make killer dishes. Not sure they really know their cooking sucks but I think they do because I am suspecting that they get their kicks by tormenting the guys with their food. Kashiwagi and Ootani might be a great complicated factor if they got added into this love mix equation. Slutty teacher wants to f*ck to prove she’s still available while fatty girl thinks she is so damn high standard that guys don’t deserve her unless you’re qualified. Yeah, those 2 are like the minor running gag and a big danger red alert signal to our guys.

Then there is the super innocent and cute Nanako for those who are lolicons. I want to believe that Nanako is a strong girl for her young age because she seems to be taking everything in stride. From her mother’s death to whatever problems her onii-chan is facing. Not sure if she is a kid and is not aware. But I remember the part the girls were having a cooking contest and she was tasting them. Didn’t feel anything. Is she a mini god or something? Heck, she did come back from the dead once. In many cases I believe Nanako is the central pillar to everyone because see how worked up Yuu became when she got kidnapped? His friends treat her like their little precious and even workaholic daddy changed his ways to spend more time with his home alone daughter. Yeah, screw work. Not that the cases can be solved anyway. Lastly about Aika, I thought she would play a prominent role and be part of Yuu’s group but I found out that she is an anime-only character. So I guess the running joke about her is how she can deliver her takeouts anywhere without fail and some mega beef bowl that is so endless that nobody has ever seen the bottom of the bowl.

I also want to mention about the Velvet Room that is often served as the starting and opening scene in many of the Persona episodes. We see that long nosy guy, Igor and his beautiful assistant, Margaret (literally beauty and the beast) talking to us. Actually it is the first person view of Yuu. Not sure what crap they are talking about bonds and trusts created on our journey because I certainly do not really get it. Maybe Persona fans can understand but a casual viewer like me, I’m so lost. Sometimes Velvet Room will be empty and you know some serious sh*t has gone down. Then for the first half of Golden, we get to hear Marie’s narration of the poem she likes only for her to snatch it back in embarrassment and reprimand us for reading it without her knowledge. I guess this part is only necessary so we can fawn over how cute Kana Hanazawa sounds being a tsundere. Kawaii!

On a trivial note, I wonder if there was a spelling error because in the original Persona, the next episode preview is termed as “Next Scent”. Wait. What? You mean, next scene. Maybe they’re trying to hint this about Kuma’s sniffing abilities. Not that I can see how useful it is either. Sure, Kuma’s sniffing might lead our friends to where they needs to go (because the plot says so) but I find it weird that this is so. A play on words? At least the next episode for Golden is termed as “Next Memories”. Also, not sure about that ability link for Yuu as the original Persona’s mid-intermission. Every episode we see Yuu’s ability of either courage, knowledge, diligence, expression and understanding go up by one level until everything is maxed out. Not that I can see how he increased those stats in the anime but even at the end whenever he is at maximum level, he still feels the same. Uh huh. Even before that he could pull out so many Personas so I’m not sure if this radar chart is accurately accurate. But hey, he is the main character so he has to be.

Originally the Persona game is an RPG-like game mixed with simulation but they also spawned a couple of fighting games. What I want to say is that when the friends summon their Personas to fight, the fight scenes are not that entertaining. Just a few oddly designed oversized characters slashing and slicing their way through various plainly designed Shadows. Short enough for it to be over and get on with. But the oddest part is how Yuu has managed to gather so many of his Personas (based off from the tarot cards) without even us knowing. I guess those scenes from Velvet Room must be it. Because it is like when conveniently needed, Yuu will power up and use that new Persona. Too bad they are used mostly once or twice and then never used again. It is annoying because it makes him look so powerful with so many weapons at his disposal and yet he uses them for a short while. Yeah, we can’t even remember many of them.

On to the art and drawing, I find them mostly satisfactory but the one thing that kept bugging me in the original series is the tone and colouring of the characters’ face. What do I mean? When I first watched this series, I find it really obvious and odd that there is some sort of weird shade on their face. Imagine this. Like as though the characters went to the beach to tan but only covered their eyes. Yup, it looks like they had tan marks over their face except for their eye regions. Are they some sort of reversed raccoons? If this is the series’ art trademark, it certainly feels weird. However come the Golden, the good news is that this is done away with and although the art and drawing are much brighter compared to the original (because it is mostly foggy and dark), the quality takes a dip. Like as though the characters are now looking slightly simpler and Kuma who is already looking comical in his bear suit, looks even more comical with the simpler drawing. No wonder this season feels crappy.

As for the designs of the Personas, I have to mention that they are the weirdest looking ‘monsters’ ever. They could even be creepy in my books. Maybe except for Yuu’s main Persona because he is main character so his Persona has got to be designed like main character-ish too. It’s like the group sat down and tried to brainstorm for some designs. They want them to look badass and mighty but with time running out, they just go with whatever they had. So watching the bunch of Personas even in action sometimes made me think that this is what happens if this was a darker version of Pokemon if they evolved even further. To be fair, their evolved version designs look much better although it is a shame that they are not often used. I suppose it is fair in the sense that your first being won’t be that good looking but when you try harder and level up, your stats in terms of abilities and aesthetics would also look better.

As for the human characters, no qualms about their bishoujo and bishonen design. But I’m just wondering why Chie and Yukiko are allowed to wear a different set of clothes as their school uniform because nobody seems to be complaining. Sure, it’s to make them stand out but really, the school authorities don’t seem to care? Okay, upon closer look they might be wearing a different coloured sweater over it but all the time? Also, I find their school uniform design a bit funny because it has this lines all over that makes it look like it is not completely sewn or the sewing wasn’t done properly and hence you see all those ‘stitch lines’.

On a trivial note, having them wearing glasses so they can see better in the fog and as a device to summon their Persona, I thought it makes them look a bit like nerds… I think the idea of having glasses is symbolic for one to have a clear view if everything looks blurry but I have perfect vision and putting glasses on only makes me dizzy! Also, if everything else fails, maybe they’ll just look smarter in glasses…

There are many recognizable seiyuus lending their talents here. Probably since this is an ‘old’ anime where most of my favourite recognizable ones are still around as compared to recently where they are slowly retiring one by one. Yeah, feeling old and having nostalgia. Anyway, the recognizable ones include Yui Horie as Chie, Ami Koshimizu as Amagi, Showtaro Morikubo as Yousuke, Rie Kugimiya as Rise, Romi Paku as Naoto, Kana Hanazawa as Marie, Sayaka Ohara as Margaret, Tomokazu Seki as Kanji, Aoi Yuuki as Aika, Yuko Kaida as Yamano and Tsubasa Yonaga as Naoki. I also recognized Kappei Yamaguchi as Kuma but I want to note that throughout the series as that beary character, he sounds so gay ~kuma! Maybe that is how the character sounds but I can’t help feel with that kind of fun voice, it makes Kuma so gay even though he is a (almost) lady killer. Perhaps Ichijou is a minor character, I didn’t recognize Daisuke Ono behind it.

Other casts include Daisuke Namikawa as Yuu (Rock in Black Lagoon), Akemi Kanda as Nanako (Asuna in Negima series), Unshou Ishizuka as Doujima (Bunta in Initial D), Mitsuaki Madono as Adachi (Kon in Bleach), Kouji Haramaki as Namatame, Kanae Itou as Ebihara (Sanae in Shinryaku! Ika Musume), Hina Nakase as Konishi (Ran in Tayutama), Hitomi Nabatame as Kashiwagi (Rokumon in Kyoukai No Rinne), Tsuyoshi Takahashi as Kubo, Ryou Agawa as Ootani and Osamu Ryuutani as Morooka. A special mention for Isamu Tanonaka as Igor. I read all his lines are taken from previous recordings because he passed away a year before the original Persona went on air and hence he is credited as special performance in the credits. Rest in peace.

Many of the songs in the series are sung by Shihoko Hirata (unless stated). Honestly, the hip hop and funky beat songs seem to fit the series’ themes better. Like Pursuing My True Self (special opening for first episode), Sky’s The Limit (first opening), Beauty Of Destiny by Shihoko Hirata featuring Lotus Juice (first ending), Next Chance To Move On (Golden’s opening), Shadow World (Golden’s special first episode opening) and Never More (final episode 25 ending) but this one sounds more like slow hip hop. They are mainly sung in English. Therefore I somehow feel rock pieces don’t feel right. Maybe in battle scenes but for opening and ending themes, not so much. Like Key Plus Words (third opening), Dazzling Smile (Golden’s ending), True Story by Rie Kugimiya (special opening for episode 9). The special ending theme for that Loveline episode, Koi Suru Meitantei is as cute as you would expect Yui Horie to be.

But slow pieces like The Way Of Memories -Kizuna No Chikara- (second ending) isn’t too bad. True Feelings is a slow piece that is okay as special ending theme. However when they play this in a couple of important battle scenes, it sounds so out of place. I think they want to prop up the feels but I still feel weird hearing this slow song played during heated battles. Believe it or not, Subete No Tamashii No Uta by Shoji Meguro is an instrumental piece. No, it is more like an opera piece with the soprano belting out quite a nice one.

Overall, the series is just average. Just slightly above average since I’m feeling generous. Kids going around solving murder mysteries and fight mysterious beings with their strange alter egos is definitely not the best ingredients for an anime out there. Maybe it works in the game but when you adapt it to anime, it loses its shine. This is why video games and TV or movies cannot and do not mix or go well with each other. The anime has its own funny moments for laughs but otherwise the blatant power of friendship saves the day, saves the people, saves the world feels kinda ridiculous. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting to go watch Persona 5. I’ll still go watch that and expecting more or less the same thing. This series might try to teach us about accepting who we are and not give a damn about what naysayers say about you. So with that said, can I accept this series as just average then? Everybody wants to live a lie that suits their preferences, right? Yeah, what the fog ~kuma?!

Imagine wandering aimlessly in the vast ocean of a dry desert. No, I’m not talking about the Mad Max movie franchise. Instead, Kujira No Kora Wa Sajou Ni Utau has a small island nation that drifts meaninglessly seemingly for eternity through the unending sand ocean. Depending on how you view life of its peaceful citizens, it could be heaven or literally hell. Of course all that boring peace is shattered when more truths about their little island and the world outside is revealed. So much for having life’s a beach.

Episode 1
A funeral is held for Benihi. After putting her in the coffin and dropping it into the sand ocean that ‘devour’ it all. Chakuro as the archivist painfully records this down. As narrated there are over 500 people living on this floating island named Mud Whale as it drifts to the sea of sand. There are some people who could use magic called thymia and these people are called Marked. Those who cannot are called Unmarked. The other difference is that Marked ones have shorter lives compared to the Unmarked. Hence the latter group is mainly reserved for the chieftain and elder councils who are the leaders of Mud Whale. When an island is sighted, Chakuro and Sami become part of an expedition to scout it. They explore the surroundings and it looks like there were civilizations around but mostly abandoned. Chakuro stumble upon a strange girl who tries to kill him. Luckily she was already weakened and a simple use of thymia knocks her out. He brings her back to his team who are all shocked to discover there is another human. The mission is cancelled as they return to Mud Whale. Sami decides to call this girl Lykos based on the name on the clothes label she is wearing. More shock for the inhabitants of Mud Whale when they see Lykos. She agrees to go with them peacefully and not resist since she is the only survivor. Chakuro and Sami show her around like the infirmary to treat Marked people when their physical strength start to deteriorate. Taisha brings Lykos to the elders as she has Chakuro follow Suou to deal with the bowel moles. That’s a fancy name for prison. Those who break the law will be placed in this underground area whereby thymia somehow doesn’t work. Ouni is the leader of a group of young delinquents who are often repeat offenders. Their goal is to get off this island in search of greater freedom. Upon release, they hear about Lykos and are eager to get her and get off the island. The elders interrogate Lykos but she will not answer unless they answer her questions first. Seeing that she has no emotions or remorse for some killings, they believe the world out there still has not changed. There is no point continuing this conversation as they restrain her. Chakuro has been eavesdropping outside when Ouni drops in to kidnap her. He gets dragged into his plot as he has Lykos take them to her island.

Episode 2
Lykos shows them a grave of everyone on this island. Deep inside a ruin, she shows them a strange bubble creature called Nous. They feed on emotions as nourishment. Ouni is desperate and willing to trade his emotions to get off Mud Whale. He tries to touch it and when Chakuro tries to stop him, he sees memories of Lykos. Luckily Lykos pulls them out. They return to Mud Whale where the duo received their punishment. Down to the bowel. But Chakuro doesn’t have to stay long and is soon freed as he was dragged into this by force. Neri is tasked to serve Lykos. But the latter’s concern is getting back on her island as she can’t live without it. Chakuro then ‘kidnaps’ Lykos so that he could bring her to watch the locust swarm phenomenon. Sami gets jealous Chakuro pays more attention to Lykos than her. As they watch the phenomenon, Lykos tells Chakuro part of her past. She was enrolled in a military prep academy at a very young age. She learnt to toss away her emotions then. Chakuro knows from the memories he saw. Lykos can’t understand why it hurts so much now. Next day, Chakuro and Sami tend the fields. Suou goes to check on Lykos but Neri believes she is under stress. She requested to have an audience with the council but they refused her. Suou uses his authority to go speak to her. Lykos warns they have to escape from this place at once. This place has been targeted and all sinners will be hunted down. Strange men with clown face mask pop up on the fringes of Mud Whale as they indiscriminately open fire! Sami uses her body to protect Chakuro.

Episode 3
Chakuro cannot believe Sami is dead. The slaughter of the Mud Whale people continues. As explained, it seems their ‘sin’ is to keep complete and thorough records. Hence they will be eliminated and this elimination will be recorded as lesson to others. Some of Ouni’s pals get killed. I guess he is the only badass kid who can just take on those clown soldiers. Meanwhile everyone else gathers at the square. Suou takes control since Taisha is dead and there are no response from the elders. It is suggested they retaliate and fight back but Suou maintains they should not use violence. Wait till he sees Ouni killing off those soldiers! No mercy! I wonder if some of the soldiers are dumb. They wait for Chakuro to finish crying over Sami before slowly prepare to kill him. I don’t think some of the soldiers can fight too. Chakuro simply fights back and breaks one of their masks, revealing his face to be just a teen. Lykos tries to stop the madness and is recognizes by one of the top soldiers. He wants her to return with them but she refuses. He thinks she has lost her mental faculties without the restraint of Nous. Lykos is the younger sister of Orka, the commander in charge of this extermination. A crazy guy, Ryodari is happy to see Lykos again. He is a bloodthirsty maniac as he defiles Sami’s corpse and when Chakuro tries to stop him, he gets beaten up and then get mocked for crying. An order is heard for the troops to withdraw. Also, Orka orders Lykos to become a sample to test the effects of this place on the body. Looks like she gets her wish of staying here. Later Ryodari talks to Orka about using his sister as a guinea pig. He wonders if he is using her to attain power because he will become some provincial governor if this mission succeeds. He brushes off he is looking for political power and his objective lies somewhere else. Ouni returns to the group to get some medicine and at the same time inform that those soldiers will return to kill them all. He captured a couple of them and made them spill the beans before killing them. Their goal was to only collect the ship they found the girl on. The next day, a mass funeral is held for the departed.

Episode 4
Suou is summoned by the council to be made the next chieftain to replace Taisha. However he will have his first and last duty. The council has decided to sink Mud Whale and everyone with it and Suou is to lead everyone to a proud death. It is better than being murdered cold blooded. Suou cannot accept this and so he tries to pry more. He learns that their ancestors committed crimes and have been exiled to this sand ocean. Looks like it is time for their execution. As he tries to ask more, he is knocked out by Shuan and thrown into the bowel. Chakuro is carving on the wall as Ginshu tries to cheer him up by making him her little brother and teach him self-defence? Neri then sees Chakuro. She tells him the sand ocean is beautiful because of all the souls of the dead. She shows him a ball whereby all the souls of the dead appears! There’s Sami too. Can he receive a kiss from the dead? He wants to go with her after she admits she wanted to become his wife but she tells him he has a duty. Then he sees Taisha telling him his role to tell the truth. More weirdness as Chakuro experiences some inter-dimensional universe. He sees Ouni covered in blood, Suou in a cage and Lykos being sad before being brought back to reality. Neri then tells him of the council’s plan but before he can save everyone, there is someone’s heart he must free. He goes to see Lykos who is repenting what happened. He believes in her and needs her help. They discuss how the council plans to sink Mud Whale when they don’t have control over its direction. Chakuro remembers a forbidden section in the bowel. First, Chakuro gathers his allies. Masoo, Rou and Nezu agree to join him but they don’t have the strength to defeat the guards guarding the bowel. Chakuro tries to seek Ouni’s help but he has lost hope and doesn’t care. Chakuro thought he just couldn’t find the right way to protect everyone and got slapped for trying to profile him. I guess they have to barge into the bowel themselves. Thank goodness they have Masoo’s might. But with reinforcements, Chakuro used his ‘bond’ with Ginshu to turn her against her allies. Too bad she got caught after they head down. They fear facing Shuan as he is the strongest but he walks past them. Turns out Ouni was following behind and Shuan wants to fight him. Rou and Nezu go find Suou while the rest head into the forbidden area. Lykos tells Chakuro this place should come to no surprise as this place too has Nous. Yup, there is one. Sitting on a giant rocking chair.

Episode 5
Lykos further explains that every ship has a Nous. It is like the ship’s heart. Killing it will sink it. The council arrives and orders its killing. Is there a more efficient way than just shooting arrows? But the Nous is in pain as the entire Mud Whale begins to shake. Shuan doesn’t care about living so Ouni tells him off not to decide his life for him. Lykos tries to protect the Nous and an arrow hits her. This shocks everyone. They thought she was the enemy who plans to sink them but why is she trying to protect them? She claims people here are this world’s hope. One of the council, Hakuji refuses to believe that as they are descendants of sinners. Chakuro then snaps back the BS he is saying because it insults the deaths of others. Lykos came from the outside but yet grew to love the Mud Whale. He is fed up of running and doesn’t want to lose hope. Everyone then changes their mind and help Lykos get treated. Neri reveals to Hakuji she was the one who led them here. The Mud Whale then returns to normal after Neri returns to her ‘mom’ the Nous. Suou doesn’t need jailbreak. Hakuji release him. Taisha’s aides make Suou their next chieftain. They do not trust the council anymore and take him to see Lykos to reveal more about the outside world. The Empire has 8 such ships in addition to a mothership. Still, taking out the current one, Skylos will deal a significant blow. There also other ships-cum-countries navigating the sand ocean but none know the existence of Mud Whale that is better known to the rest as Falaina. This ship is different than others because the Nous cannot devour their emotion. Their ancestors rejected that notion and that was their sin, hence the Empire imprisoned them. Everyone learns Falaina as a barbaric country because of the people refusing to throw away their emotions. Now that the Empire has the technology to traverse the sand ocean, they can’t risk Falaina falling into their hands and won’t accept or forgive the sinners. The only choice is to exterminate them. Suou wants to make friends with other countries to help fight against the Empire. Lykos will help if this is his wish. Suou then addresses his citizens about hope and then tearfully pleads for the Marked ones to help use thymia in their fight despite feeling guilty about trying to save them from their brief lifespan. Ouni mocks him for being weak because the Marked ones already accept their cursed fate. All he needs to do is order them to fight. So is Ouni helping them? Yes.

Episode 6
Because Marked ones will rapidly lose power when they reach their late 20s, many children are now undergoing training to fight the upcoming invasion. Elder Rasha tries to hint something at Suou. They may have killed his sister and hate them but the children might end up having to kill someone tomorrow. It is him who decided on that. She even accuses Kuchiba for being next to Taisha and yet he failed to protect her. Sure, he argues back but she lets him say anything. Either way, the cursed children of Mud Whale will finally be saved. Flashback shows Ouni one day popped up on Mud Whale. Nobody knew who his parents were nor what group he came from. Nibi tried to make him an underling but got his ass handed to him. They were thrown into the bowels and that is when their friendship and groupie started. Now, Nibi still hasn’t given up on getting on the outside world and will take Ouni along with him. Suou tries to unite the people to fight against the enemy. Too bad Rou and Nezu completed their giant sand throwing machine and dump it all over him. Suou got ‘mad’. He starts throwing sand back and everyone thinks their sand throwing festival has begun and do the same. It’s one of those weird festivals whereby they throw sand at each other regardless of status the entire day. Weird. Of course the other significance pertains to the souls of the deceased melded into the sand being returned to them. Shuan’s wife is deeply saddened her husband doesn’t care if she dies in the battle. Chakuro thought he saw Neri but she is actually her twin sister, Ema. Neri is currently healing mom. Ema hopes he will keep his promise to protect Mud Whale and live with everyone here forever. Do that and she will tell him all the secrets of Falaina. During the sandstorm, Suou goes over the mission to fight the invaders and survive. But this is just a plan to buy time for another group led by Tokusa to infiltrate Skylos and destroy their Nous. The strongest thymia users like Ouni, Ginshu, Chakuro and of course Lykos are part of it. Nibi wants to join despite not chosen. Before departing, they hear a strange sound. Lykos recognizes it as the mothership. They are here.

Episode 7
With the enemy attacking, the team make their haste departing to Skylos. While the Mud Whale citizens fight back, it is unbelievable to think that anyone can aim and shoot straight in this bad sandstorm. Worse, some even shoot right out in the open! WTF?! Some kids steal the dead soldiers’ weapons to give it to Suou. Is he having cold feet to go out there and fight? Lykos and co have snuck into Skylos as she leads them to its Nous. Chakuro finds the interior of Skylos made of the same mud like Mud Whale. Their intrusion is anticipated with the guards getting in their way. But Skylos’ commander, Araphne instead of ordering to capture Lykos, wants her slaughtered with the rest of the invaders. But don’t worry. Those guards are so weak and useless as though their role is just to pop up and die. So is it necessary for Ouni to go into some super hyper mode to successively take them all down by himself and wow the rest? With the enemy breaking through Mud Whale’s central tower, Suou has a change of heart to go out and fight. Hakuji defends the kids and gets slashed. The weird part is how he still have the strength to push those USELESS guards (in shock, I suppose) off the ledge!!! I see, score some brownie points before he dies. Tells his regrets and love of Mud Whale to Suou. Taking too long that Ryodari had to kill him. Even if Suou is mad, he can’t fight against him and gets beaten up. I guess Ryodari must be so bored with everyone being a zombie that he stalled enough time for Shuan to pop up to face him. As Lykos and co edge closer to the Nous, she feels something odd. Colourful stained glasses? No guards further pursuing them? The team then split itself up to guard the door in case of reinforcement (Chakuro, Ouni, Nibi and Ginshu) and the other to move forward and destroy the Nous. Buoyed with confidence, the moment they open the final door, the guards were waiting and fire. Everyone in this group dies except Lykos and Urumi.

Episode 8
Lykos tries to take on the squad commander, Pagoni. I don’t know how Ouni was so fast and sneaky that he was able to hold Pagoni hostage by his neck when he was in the centre of his squad! Ouni wants Chakuro and Lykos to head to the Nous but then, more guards. Araphne shoots Ouni. In the leg. Meanwhile Ema dances and strange creepy ghost hands surround the Mud Whale people, dead or alive. This allows Suou to peek into Ryodari’s heart. He was ostracized by his own people since young since he was different. He was able to have feelings despite all the procedures. His family were ashamed of him and when he tried to tell them about the hearts he saw, they shut him down. They should have let him finished his sentence because the hearts he saw are all the twisted desires of humans. And that’s how he became as twisted. Ryodari and Shuan’s fight is interrupted by Suou who offers him to live with them if he found his own world painful. Only to be interrupted by Shuan striking him down because he disagrees extending an olive branch to the enemy at this point who has killed many of their kind. Killing interrupted by Suou who wants Shuan to help a friend instead of killing an enemy. Ryodari fears death for the first time and tries to escape. He stumbles upon equally scared kids. He is being scary wanting to play with him so they shoot him until he drops into the sand ocean. Meanwhile Ouni’s groupies are split, arguing among themselves if Ouni is just a dog for the Unmarked and that the Unmarked are risking their lives for the Marked. Kicha remains hopeful Ouni will come back. Speaking of him, Araphne mocks him and his kind that they are unaware of their own sin. He accuses them of regressing instead of advancing their culture after 100 years in exile and not knowing what has happened on the outside world. They are even unaware why they have short lives and it isn’t their ancestors’ sins is what makes them guilty but what they bear themselves. The sin of a meaningless existence.

Episode 9
Don’t know why Pagoni was just slashing and wounding Ouni instead of killing him outright. Because of that, Nibi had enough time to rescue him. Then they both go on a killing spree. Yeah, those guards just stood there to be slaughtered. They could have been on a streak until Araphne shoots Nibi. Yeah, I guess the guards are useful enough to only kill a corpse. Ouni becomes so angry that his thymia goes berserk. He is using his thymia to kill everyone! So badass that his thymia kills Skylos’ Nous, Olivines. With that, strange creepy growth appear all over Skylos. Not sure if Ouni is so sad or high on his thymia that he is in an alternate dimension as he sees a young Nibi on a boat with his dead groupies. Talk of goodbye and Nibi being satisfied doing things with him to pull more heartstrings. Ouni cries for the first time and it’s goodbye forever. Meanwhile Chakuro too has his own hallucination. He is before Olivines who wants to make a deal. Offer all the emotions of the people on Mud Whale to the great Nous, Anthropos and he will give this weird shell called Kokalo that belongs to Anthropos. Bring it to Ema and the people will advance to a new stage. Chakuro probably doesn’t want to get involve but Olivines restrain him and let him experience some pain. Don’t like pain? That’s because your mind says so. Don’t want it? Just need to alter the heart a little. You see, all Nous suck people’s emotions and only share pleasant wants to make them seem like they truly belong to. Olivines tries to tempt them especially Lykos but Chakuro stays strong with this proposal of rewriting their sorrows with the power of Nous. He questions back what about the memories of everyone else then? Especially those who have died. They might not be around but there are proofs that they lived. Olivines gives him Kokalo. It doesn’t matter if Chakuro agrees to the deal. Olivines is interested to see the decision he makes. Returning to reality, the survivors make haste to get off Skylos as it sinks into the sand ocean. So what happens to all the Skylos guards on Mud Whale? They commit suicide and jump off the edge! Yeah, saves time. Suou is glad to see Chakuro and the survivors returning.

Episode 10
A mass burial is held for the departed. Even the enemy soldiers. Man, do they have enough caskets? But the saddest is Shuan’s wife as she took her own life. That guy didn’t even see her off and told somebody just to cut part of her hair as memento. Then he goes somewhere alone and ‘cry’ while being admonished by Rasha his mom. Ouni is recuperating but Kicha blames Suou for picking him to be part of the team? But what about Nibi then? He wasn’t picked but got killed. Anyway Suou assures her this time he will protect his people by trying to avoid fighting. Lykos tells the council that they might be safe for now because with Skylos’ failure, this will make the Empire a little cautious in attacking them and Orka will be brought before the emperor, Ekklesia for punishment for losing a Nous. This is just her opinion and she knows Orka will not go down without a fight. Meanwhile Orka isn’t fazed to face his disciplinary action and knows what is going to say. Apparently Ryodari is still alive in his chamber. Orka wants him to become his lowly jester because by becoming his possession is the only way he could incorporate him into his plans. I mean, he wants to get back to the fun on Falaina, right? Put on those jester clothes and be as gay as your fellow jesters! Kokalo turns into some critter and runs rampant throughout Mud Whale. A small ship fast approaches Mud Whale by Lykos can tell it is not the Empire due to its flag. It lands and the small entourage has the misfortune to see Suou butt naked since he was bathing nearby. Getting the wrong first impression of this nudist colony. Rochalito (his full name is so freaking long but Suou remembers!) of Amonlogia plans to annex Mud Whale, much to Suou’s disagreement. He thought they were equals. Rochalito and his men show their technological prowess however Shuan and the other thymia users can easily overpower them with numbers and magic since these people cannot use thymia. Time to surrender. They are treated to local food in which Rochalito devours them all and yet calls it disgusting. Is it their lingo that disgusting is yummy? So disgusting that he wants to bring the entire Mud Whale’s field back home. Meanwhile Chakuro sees Ema and seeks answers as promised. Ema enables Kokalo as it turns into giant wings. You see, ships like Skylos are able to steer in any direction unlike Mud Whale because the helm is stolen from the latter. Kokalo is that helm. With this, they are now able to sail wherever they want.

Episode 11
Orka is brought before the council. They accuse him that Falaina’s aimless drift was good enough as warning to their citizens but Orka came up with this bright idea of exterminating them and failed. He and the survivors of Skylos will die. Orka laughs back at their short-sightedness. He reminds them of their ancient story of how heaven tore part of itself and scattered it down to the world. The Rain of Katharterio also brought about evil. When the world was purified, they praise the Nous, the body of God and offer their past mistakes and hearts in exchange for their power. It is then 2 species of man were born, angels of Nous and those who aren’t. More popularly known as Marked and Unmarked respectively. However there is a third kind called daimons. They are the strongest warriors created by the Nous’ power. They are considered legends and non-existent because they have been made to forget them by the past. Ouni is a daimon and with his appearance, Orka considers him and his kind a threat to the Empire. He then shifts the blame to Araphne who insulted and provoked the daimon. Araphne panics and when he thinks Orka is going to take out a weapon to kill him, he shoots back (although missed). Orka just took out documents as Araphne gets arrested. Orka then blames the council for appointing Araphne for this mission so they too are partly responsible for this failure. Orka claims the second Rain of Katharterio will fall in the new chapter of history. He believes the world must be purified again and doing so they must control the daimons. If they keep executing those who failed to kill the daimons, who will there be left to kill them? Orka believes he is different than others and can succeed. He puts the nail in the coffin for Araphne as he is the only one to blame for the failure because everything was at his sole discretion. With Araphne taken away, the council agree to appoint Orka as the next commander and let him do as he sees fit. Orka then goes to see Astali, the commander in chief. He wants to make use of another ship, Karcharias and if he gives the okay signal, the council will not object.

It seems the Marked ones all saw a weird dream of Olivines. This dream allows them to help use Kokalo and guide the Mud Whale. Rochalito shows Suou the map of the sand ocean. He points where the United Kingdom of Siderasia is and Amonlogia is one of the many countries under it. They are fighting against the Empire. The Mud Whale is currently stuck in this vortex area. Due to the current patterns, rudderless Mud Whale is doomed to sail in circles. This area acts like a natural prison and is rumoured to other nations as an evil region that is why many stayed away. Rochalito’s ship was travelling in this direction but was shipwrecked and stumbled upon Mud Whale. Now they are able to escape the currents and return to Amonlogia. Later Rochalito confronts Lykos as she is different from others on Mud Whale. He is curious why there are so many young people on Mud Whale. Could it be a plague? She reveals the biggest secret about Nous. It normally eats emotions and in exchange gives them thymia. However Mud Whale is different. In order to grant the Marked ones thymia, it eats their life force. Cliché moment as Chakuro heard that and becomes upset, running away. Soon, the council summons Suou and the Unmarked ones. They too know about this secret and have been preparing for this day of truth. Well, it sure didn’t come out of their mouths first. Suou might be shocked but this doesn’t change the fact he still needs to protect his people.

An uprising is heard. Shikon and Shikoku, the twins and frequent tenants of the bowel mole are causing a ruckus. They are claiming themselves as the new leaders of Mud Whale. They try to convince the Marked ones they should take control of their lives and freedom instead of the Unmarked ones. The people are not easily swayed and has accepted this way of life. But they argue that many of those who died are Marked ones. In fact, Hakuji is the only Unmarked one who perished. The Marked ones had to put their lives in danger while the Unmarked ones hid safely somewhere. Though the people argue because they lack thymia and would only be in the way, the twins add this is all the more reason why they are just a hindrance. They always hold them back. At this point some of them are having second thoughts. Ouni interjects but they are not afraid and call him a lapdog for the Unmarked ones. They seem to easily overpower him and try to convince him to join them since he is a monster who killed many. Once more, reminding the people they have the power to change their destiny, they will no longer be insulted or stepped on.

Episode 12
Ouni rises up. His weird powerful aura makes the twins scared. He tells off all those who depend on others should just pray quietly and play their toys. With that, the rebellion ends and the people scatter. Masoo’s health is deteriorating fast. He thinks he has done all the killing and bringing it along with him to the sand ocean so the people of Mud Whale had their hands clean. Kuchiba disagrees. They’ve started a new journey and he wants him to get back to work? Meanwhile Orka is going to see Astali but is attacked by his assassins. Ryodari kills all of them (I think partly his bad singing too) but Orka knows this was just a warning since they were easily disposed of. Ryodari seems to be fawning over Orka like a little gay boy. It’s his only ticket to get back to Falaina. Orka seems to threaten Astali to gain control of Karcharias. He is certain he will accept his demands because it is all part of his plan not only to obtain Falaina and daimon boy but to then steal Anthropos and create his utopia. A sad day for Mud Whale as a funeral is held for Masoo. Chakuro reminisces about his times with grandpa and Sami and the reason why he wants to keep recording. Suou gathers everyone and reveals the big secret how their Nous steals the life force and hence shortening the lifespan of Marked ones. As many are shocked, this gives another opportunity for the twins to stage another revolt. They even attack Suou and would do the same to traitors who defend the Unmarked ones. Until Ouni steps in again. He tells them off so many Marked ones died in the battle, so are they saying they were tricked and died for no reason? It doesn’t matter if you are Marked or Unmarked. Everyone who died here died for Mud Whale. He will never forget that they lived. Suou adds their ancestors didn’t hide this for their own safety but rather they didn’t want the Marked ones to live or lament their fate of shortened lives. Mud Whale is now crossing a highly turbulent area that acts as the cage for this vortex prison. Don’t worry. We have Kokalo to steer us out. Apparently Lykos is still blaming herself over what Chakuro overheard. He has to assure her he is not now (though he was at first). He doesn’t think blaming Mud Whale for everything is the answer. There. Feel better? A testament to that is how Lykos would rather live here and abandon her homeland. Well, looks like Orka is shipping out now. Mud Whale escapes the vortex and makes its way to Amonlogia.

Circle In The Sand: Children Of The Damned
Ugh. As I feared. Unfinished. Sort of. But I suppose if this season was just to explain the mystery of the Mud Whale going around in circles, I guess they have accomplished their mission and broke out of it. A new chapter and direction is in store for them and that will be another story to tell. It will definitely be a whole new world for Mud Whale as they sail into uncharted territories, meet new nations, make new allies and for sure butt heads with the Empire. Come to think of it, if they throw in all those other elements and turn this story and world into one big cauldron of mess, this series will look and feel very different to what we know when we first started from. The world of this series was only confined to the small space on Mud Whale and suddenly now we have ventured to the vast unknown. Just like a tiny story part of a bigger anthology. A drop of water in the ocean. More accurately, a grain of sand in the desert.

I believe the overall story and plot are a very missed potential. The setting and the initial mystery of the series are quite intriguing and interesting at first. Seeing this is a fantasy genre, naturally there are a few things that viewers would need to learn in order to familiarize themselves with the world. Though some of the points are unfolded in due pacing, there are many others that are still not, hence the very disappointing ending that this adaptation unfortunately ended at. Although I was anticipating some sort of twist or the kind of mysteries that would be unfolded (like what the Nous really are and why Mud Whale couldn’t steer freely by itself), somehow its revelation didn’t come as surprising or shocking to me. It is not that I predicted the answers but when the answers came about, I was like, “Oh, so it was like that. Okay. No big deal”. There wasn’t this oomph in the revelation that would bring about the excitement and anticipation after following the series. It is probably because of the Skylos invasion arc. I find that arc to be dragging out a lot more than necessary so it took away some of my enthusiasm despite I have a feeling they were trying to put in some drama and the feels there.

Of all the unanswered questions that I have in my head for this series, the biggest mind boggling one came in the form of Kokalo. Now, before Olivines gave Chakuro a Kokalo, didn’t Lykos already had one? I mean, when Chakuro and his crew first scouted and landed on Lykos’ ship, didn’t one followed them back? I mean, if you think about it, this critter is also a Kokalo, right? So why didn’t Lykos reveal or let them know that this is her ship’s Kokalo? She might not reveal it at first because of trust issues but as we have seen, she has grown quite attached to the people of Mud Whale. So why didn’t she really tell them? This is of course I am assuming in a big way that critter is a Kokalo. It has to be. They look so similar! Don’t tell me Skylos’ invasion was the distraction and thus the reason because Skylos had given Mud Whale a few days of leeway before their execution. Shouldn’t Lykos then use this Kokalo of hers to steer Mud Whale away? Don’t tell me she forgot… Don’t tell me that Kokalo didn’t make enough cameo appearance because it certainly did show itself up from time to time hanging around Chakuro. Thinking back now with all that has happened, had she done this in the first place instead of letting Ema do the honours, I believe a lot of people on Mud Whale could have been alive. No doubt Skylos would still be around and probably continue to hunt them but they would have saved a lot of casualties and also prevented a mutiny as well as Orka turning into his next phase of ‘world saviour’. But since we never see that critter becoming the sails, I guess it isn’t one for the job and just serves as some forgettable animal mascot.

But one of the interesting things to note with the direction of where the plot of this series is going, it makes me think and wonder if this is the price to pay for Mud Whale if they ever have true freedom. Just look at them after obtaining their new freedom to sail wherever they want. Suddenly this newfound power and liberty has some delinquents going up against the older establishment despite being short-lived. And you thought Mud Whale has wandered so long in the sand ocean and finally found its path but they are back to wandering again, this time with a leadership and no-confidence crisis. I bet those twins aren’t going to back down so easily yet and if they can do it a second time, they’ll wait for another right time for a third. After all, if Suou told Ouni they are heading to Amonlogia to find friends, what are the chances the twins would do the same for their own cause? So it looks like it is as much a blessing as it a curse for Mud Whale. Besides, I am still confused if their ancestors’ sin was due to not wanting to give their Nous devour their feelings or whatever carefree culture they developed while in exile. Not really sure. But don’t care at this point. Also interesting to note are the emotions on people that set apart cultures. Would you rather toss away emotions and live a boring mundane life (which is redundant because without feelings you wouldn’t know) or would you rather retain them but risk feeling negative and bad emotions sometimes? I guess that is what defines us as humans. Or not.

As for the characters, I couldn’t help feel that many of them are a big disappointment. Especially the 2 main characters, Chakuro and Lykos. From what I can see, the duo hardly move the plot of the story and barely stay relevant. Chakuro seems to look like the protagonist because he is appointed Mud Whale’s only archivist. That is why he is such a ‘precious’ and ‘important’ person. Uhm, couldn’t they have appointed more people for this post? What do you mean you do not want inconsistencies in your recordings and notes?! Oh, right. Put all your eggs in one basket in recording Mud Whale’s history. Sure, Mud Whale is such a small country that having 2 archivists would make them both so free because you know, many hands make light work. Is the writing system on Mud Whale that hard to master because I only often see Chakuro recording and reading. I don’t see other Mud Whale citizens do that. Are many considered illiterate? Besides, sometimes I see Chakuro writing on walls. It isn’t like he ran out of paper or anything. If this tradition of writing on walls goes on, the entire Mud Whale would be one big public archive. Anyway, because of this protagonist aura Chakuro has, this gives him a free pass to be the person to go to when there are revelations of stuffs like the Nous. Apparently you can’t tell other citizens first because no, no, no, we must tell the archivist first so he could record it all down at the precise second which the revelation was made. F*ck those records. And yeah, him being a Marked one makes him feel like a lame ass weak character because people who keep records are nerds and hence wimps, right?

Lykos also feels disappointing as the leading character and I can see her as to no more as a device to advance the plot. She surely took her time in revealing some of the secrets one by one instead of all of them at one go. Being a foot soldier of the Empire, I am sure she would at least know some of the workings or secrets but she seems to only say such revelations when the time calls for it. Blame it on no emotions? Heck, she is showing more emotions than she was when she was found. So much so it feels like some sort of device to stir up some emotional drama. Too bad it got a little annoying in the end. Afraid that the people of Mud Whale can’t take in too much information at one go? Oh sure. Let’s wait for another day and in the meantime there will be other distractions like the invasion of Skylos and the twins trying a coup detat. She hardly does any fighting like during the invasion into Skylos and it was a missed opportunity to show if she was a badass like she was when she was first found but unfortunately, she had to be idle and stand aside so that they can showcase Ouni and make him as one of the pivotal points in the story.

Speaking of Ouni, despite making less appearances than Chakuro and Lykos, he feels more of the silent protagonist type doing things at his own pace and more badass than the duo. We can see why (though sometimes being some emo kid makes him look more annoying and reducing his enigmatic badass feel). Because of his delinquency, I guess that is why he is being reduced to just a supporting but that might change assuming the series gets another season. Ouni’s past and revelation as a daimon isn’t so surprising because he was obviously so different than the rest including his own bowel mole groupies that there was obviously something about him that doesn’t make him local. His past overall is still shrouded in mystery after all.

Suou tries to be a strong new chief of Mud Whale but I can’t help feel sometimes that he is just so weak and that makes him gay. I don’t know, he sounds gay because of his frail expression. I understand he has been thrust into this leadership position suddenly for the first time and with the events that occurred, he needs to make a quick and steadfast decision for his people. His actions and decisions are noble and with good intentions. But if this was set on anywhere else in the world or in another parallel universe, I don’t think his weak voice would have reached the people.

Orka might sound like a typical cliché crazy villain of wanting to cleanse the world but because of his radical and crazily bold ideas, it makes him very much interesting. Not sure if he has his emotions eaten by Nous because he sure displays a colourful one during his verdict at the council. Almost as if he was this close to become a mad man. Only, the council couldn’t pick it up because they had no feelings and no brains. Haha. Anyway, with him being the main antagonist, it will be pretty much interesting to see the lengths he will go and the means he will do to achieve his goal. Ryodari is pretty crazy too but more of the annoying kind. Oh why do they have to bring him back alive for future plot purposes instead of leaving him dead? Ultimate humiliation? I suppose so. Now that he looks comfortable being Orka’s little gay boy joker, things are going to get crazier.

There are so many other minor characters that feel that they don’t matter. They are introduced and then make their cameo from time to time so as though you won’t forget about them. Not that I can see how relevant they are to this season but it is as though they are just setting a stage for these characters in case they need more character developments in the future. Like Shuan who is the top fighter of Mud Whale. You know nothing about him except he has a scary looking eye kept hidden behind his eye-patch. The way he acts and speaks make it as though he might be no different from the people and soldiers of the Empire because he lacks emotions. I mean, have you really seen him in full blown emotions before? Sure, he smiles. A little. He cries too. A little. Like as though he is trying so hard to do them. Then there is Ginshu who is only there because we need some spunky girl who needs to have this big sister complex to somebody, namely the main protagonist. Not sure if it is this series’ running joke because Masoo and Kuchiba are always butting heads. And they make it so obvious that Masoo is going to die because of his pain acting up from time to time. All aboard the last death stop of the season. RIP Masoo. What are Rou and Nezu for again? Supposedly Chakuro’s best buddy and his groupies but rarely with him.

The fight scenes are meh. Disappointing to say the least. I don’t expect anything flashy from the thymia users and perhaps it is a good thing because it would then be very jarring to see peace loving Mud Whale people suddenly pull off flashy moves they probably have never done in their lives because you know, violence is forbidden on Mud Whale. Probably the more ‘exciting’ one is between Shuan and Ouni but that is still average at best. But the most disappointing and at the same time ‘hilarious’ fight goes to Skylos invading Mud Whale. Also the dumbest soldiers ever sent to just exterminate a little moving island. They’re like clowns moving at the speed of snail. It feels like they are video game enemy NPCs, waiting their turn to fight or just stand there to get killed. What a joke. No wonder they wear jester masks! You’re supposed to laugh at them when you kick their ass? And supposedly a ship like Skylos is supposed to house the best soldiers and yet we have all of these lowly foot soldiers who look the same by the way and we couldn’t care less too by the way, to have so mediocre and amateur skills that even a kid without martial arts training could beat them. Right, my pet hamster could even do a kill streak here. So if you get seriously killed by them (not counting the genuine surprise attack), you deserve to die. Useless soldiers. They all should become Orka’s gay jesters instead.

One thing I would like to note is the unique art of the series. I’m not saying that it is such a masterpiece but at least the sceneries are considerably breath taking. Even though it is all just mainly sand and sand and more sand over the blue skied horizon and rocky terrain on Mud Whale. The backgrounds have this sketch-like visual to it and this makes it quite unique to look at. This is after all a fantasy genre so I guess it is okay. The character designs are a bit simplistic but animated in conventional 2D. It doesn’t clash with the sketch-like backgrounds and that is quite good. Otherwise it would be a dizzying experience if that happens. Also, with the backgrounds mainly in boring colours, the slightly colourful character designs help alleviate some of that monotonous. I guess Suou is the only guy with green hair so you can easily tell from afar that he is your chief. Yeah, characters like him need to stand out visually. But why only those in the vigilante corps like Shuan and Ginshu get to wear cool and different outfits (Chinese-like design) unlike the rest who wear clothes that make them look like normal peasants?

Voice acting feels decent with me recognizing a few like Natsuki Hanae as Chakuro, Akira Ishida as Orka, Mikako Komatsu as Ginshu and Hiroshi Kamiya as Shuan. I never realized it was Aki Toyosaki behind Olivines’ voice. Lack of lines? Too soft her voice? But yup, that’s her. Other casts include Manaka Iwami as Lykos (Chiaki in Gamers), Yuichiro Umehara as Ouni (En in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!), Nobunaga Shimazaki as Suou (Sousuke in ClassicaLoid), Ai Kakuma as Neri and Ema (Miyako in Imouto Sae Ireba Ii), Kenn as Rochalito (Jinbei in Mushibugyou), Daiki Yamashita as Ryodari (Midoriya in Boku No Hero Academia) and Hisako Kanemoto as Sami (titular character in Shinryaku! Ika Musume). The opening theme is Sono Saki by Ririko. Sound rather okay and not too shabby in its own right. But the one that takes the cake is the ending theme, Hashidairo by Rionos. It is a very slow and lovely but sad sounding ballad. It stirs up some emotions hearing the sad but hopeful lyrics as well as the animation that is just plain sailing through the endless sand ocean.

Overall, this series is interesting at first and has the potential to do better but let down with its characters and the direction of the plot. Because a dozen of episodes feel like it did not do the series justice and could have been better had they extended it for another cour. Still, it feels like this season has something missing to it that makes it hard to just really want to love and learn more about this world. Hardcore fantasy genre lovers might feel disappointed and casual ones would stay long enough just to satisfy their curiosity but not enough to make them want more. I mean, of course we want more answers but the direction this season was heading, it didn’t make us hungry to find out more. It’s like, if there is another season, we’ll see about it. Otherwise that’s that. Like as though the adaptation was created so that at least there is some sort of record, some sort of history left behind of this series for us ‘lucky’ ones to have watched it before it slowly sinks and gets devoured forever in the sands of time. I think this series shadows and could apply to today’s age of the internet and I fear it is slowly resembling and coming to that. So much data in the sea of web… Man, there’s going to be lots of Byte Whales out there going in circles… All together now sing with me: Circle in the sand/ Round and round/ Never ending trip is what we’re bound…

Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou

April 28, 2018

Imagine a free and easy tour around the world. You can take your time going wherever you want and do the things you want to do without ever having to stick to that strict and tightly scheduled tour guide. No tourist gimmicks or frauds to worry about too. Best of all, it is all for free and without money! Wow. A deal so good, so where can you find such great tour? Well, there is a catch. Only if the world has been devastated and you are the last humans left on Earth! Oh my. That escalated quickly. Basically this is what Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou is. A pair of girls only have themselves for company as they slowly trudge through the devastated civilizations, scavenging what they could use for survival while trying to find meaning and hope from it all.

Episode 1A
Chito AKA Chi and Yuuri AKA Yuu are riding their bike-cum-tank vehicle, Kettenkrad through a large abandoned factory. They have been going through this place for days that Yuu is complaining about the darkness despite it was her idea to explore this ‘hole’. Plus, they are running low on rations and fuel. Who knows how long they’ll have to trek through. They take a break and fall asleep. Chi dreams of some war they were in and what it looked like their superior sent them away. She wakes up crying. Then she notices a breeze. If they can follow it, it might lead them to a way out. Eventually they do so and finally find the exit. They’ll finally have some light! But it’s night time. Funny, the light at the exit was so bright that I thought flood lights were shining at it. Anyway, the starry sky is definitely a sight to behold. Don’t mind the decimated city below, no siree. To celebrate their exit, they have some soup. That’s already a luxury given the circumstances. So nice and warm! Yum!

Episode 1B
The duo are having target practice. Uhm, I know there is nothing to kill but aren’t they wasting precious bullets? After that they explore the devastated battlefield and stumble upon a tank. It’s like a graveyard for these war vehicles. They ponder the question if food was scarce back then, shouldn’t more food be produced instead of weapons? Oh well, you know mankind making wars the utmost importance to food. Then they stumble into a bomber plane. They search its contents and Chi believes the explosives are more useful than guns since they can use it to blow up walls or obstacles. But the best discovery ever: Rations! Man, I hope they’re not expired. They load as many as their vehicle can carry. Not sure why they are trying to make the plane fly by turning its propeller and of course they failed. It made them hungry. Have some rations. They equally split it until they realize there is a last odd piece. Chi thinks of splitting it but Yuu snatches it and points her rifle at her! OMG! This is war?! When Yuu gulps the whole thing down, Chi gets mad and beats the crap out of her! I suppose they have moved so much that now they are hungry again. So hungry that they eat snow? Mmm… Not bad. I thought there were so many ration packs? Unless they want to ration the rations…

Episode 2A
The girls are moving through some thick blizzard. Yup, they’re lost. They even wonder if they’re dead and this is the afterlife. Not really. You’re supposed to feel warm and good in that. And it’s freezing now. They arrive at some abandoned facility. Looking around, they noticed a pipe doesn’t have snow covered and some hot liquid is leaking. Yuu shoots at it. Many times. Miraculously the ricochet didn’t hit them. Finally it goes through and comes gushing out is hot running water. Time to take a nice bath. Is this heaven? Not a good thing to say since they just ‘came back from the dead’. But how or who is using this hot running water if there was no one around?!

Episode 2B
While camping for the night, Chi writes in her journals as records. She then explains to her carefree friend the importance of books and pivotal to mankind’s progress. Too bad many have to be sacrificed as fire fuel. Yuu wasn’t listen and tossed one of her journals into the fire! Chi quickly saves it but it is burnt badly. After smacking her, Chi immediately goes to sleep. I guess that means not talking. Next morning, the snow has stopped and everywhere is covered in thick snow. Chi isn’t mad and tells Yuu to move on. When Chi reads her journal, she sees a scribble from Yuu. What’s this? It’s a sleeping face of Chi! Doesn’t look like her at all. Yuu is being bitten by the drawing bug and wants to draw more. Too bad Chi tells her not to waste paper…

Episode 2C
The duo are at a big dam. Apparently with the warming days, Chi can tell the exact moment melted snow will gush out from these giant pipes. They leave their vehicle and trek down to some island rubble because apparently today is a good day to do laundry. While they wash their uniform and Chi talks about oceans, suddenly something caught Yuu’s attention and it made Chi trip into the water. Apparently she caught a dead fish. Well, this is their first time seeing a fish. Of course they want to eat it but if this is their first time, how do they know how to cook it? They take turns eating it and it tastes good. Thankfully it doesn’t taste like chicken. Hmm… If this is their first time eating fish, why didn’t they get choked by the bones and how do they know how to eat one because they actually picked to bone clean. No meat left. Just perfect shining bones.

Episode 3
The city is divided by a huge chasm and the girls can’t find a way to cross over. They then spot a live cigarette butt on the ground. Somebody must still be around! As they be alerted, suddenly the building next to them explodes! Luckily they survive and they are shocked to see another person. He introduces himself as Kanazawa and was trying to get himself across so what better way than to blow up a building and use it as a bridge. Yeah, almost killed them had the timing been slightly off. As the girls’ goal is to get to the tallest tower on the other side to get to the next level, Kanazawa hopes they could let him ride across with them. But crossing isn’t easy since Kanazawa and Yuu have to clear the debris for Chi to move Kettenkrad across. After they managed to do so, Kanazawa has maps that pinpoints exact locations like the refuelling station. It seems he used to make maps of this area before the bridge was destroyed and went around on his bike till it could no longer move. His maps allow them to head to the tower. Although the tower has real mechanisms for an elevator, nobody actually knew how to make it work and made a makeshift one outside. Looks flimsy but thankfully still working. Chi has acrophobia and laments why no safety parts were installed and they ‘quip’ it was probably a waste of resources. When you worry so much that this elevator might tilt and fall, it is sure to jinx it. Yeah, it happened. Kanazawa manages to stop it in time but his bag of maps slide off. He is crazy to jump off to grab them but the girls grab him. Sadly his hard drawn maps scatter below. Now he laments why no safety parts were installed. Yeah, waste of resources probably. They manage to fix the elevator and get to the top. To ease Kanazawa’s depression, they share their rations as they watch the beautifully lit street lamps on this level. Kanazawa then gives them his camera and part ways. He plans to head north and continue making maps. The girls continue their journey to the centre where the brightest light is shining.

Episode 4A
Because Kanazawa didn’t teach them how to use a camera, the girls experiment taking pictures with it. So much so they crash into a little stone statue! Don’t worry, no big damage. It goes to show that you should not take pictures and drive! They continue their journey to the bright centre. They rest at night as Chi tries to figure out more on the camera. From the reducing number, it looks like they can take around 52,000 more photos! Chi has figured out how to use the timer so the girls stand a pose for a picture.

Episode 4B
The girls arrive at the building in which the brightest light supposedly originates. There are lots of those stone statues so Chi thinks this is a temple. Confirmed when she reads writings on the wall that this temple is dedicated to Gods for the afterlife. Yuu doesn’t really like this afterlife paradise and Gods thingy because the hotspring bath seems like a better paradise. Suddenly Chi’s lamp goes out. All dark. Yuu is stunned and tries to call out to Chi but no response. She fumbles around and ponders what she will do without Chi. Then she trips on Chi. Why didn’t she say anything? She wanted to see her reaction. Wait. In this darkness? Suddenly bright lights light up the place. Hmm… A huge God stone statue, weird shape frames hanging about and a fake pond with fake lily pads and fake fish. I guess this makes Yuu even more disappointed because what is the point of making everything so nice like this when it is still all fake and disappointing. Nobody knows what the afterlife is. Chi reminds her what she said earlier about the afterlife being a dark world. That is why people created this temple with bright lights and fake things just to feel better. Yuu notes she felt more at ease after finding her. Yuu then realize the God statue looks a bit like Chi. So is Chi a God? In that case, she must offer her food to God. Please give me your food. No way. Now Yuu thinks herself as God. Nope. I can see where this is going… Please give me your food. No way. Food now! No, no, no…

Episode 5A
The girls enter a residential area and ponder about houses. They enter a room and try it for size how people used to live in one. They start fantasizing the things they want if they have a house of their own. Quite a vivid but yet simple desires. They stay for the night and the next morning continue their journey. Yuu suggests making their vehicle a moving house but Chi rejects it outright.

Episode 5B
Chi dozes off at the wheel and if not for Yuu smacking her up, they would have crashed into the wall! Folks, remember not to drive when you’re tired. They take a break and play a game of balancing rocks (discount jenga). Yuu won 10 times in a row and Chi always blame the wind. The next game they bet on their ration and again Chi lost. Then they take a nap as Chi has this strange dream. She is balancing on a giant rock while a giant Yuu tries to blow her off! Chi then falls into the ocean and finds Yuu as a giant fish trying to eat her! Because if Chi was going to get eaten, wouldn’t it be better to be eaten by her best friend? That’s one messed up logic. Luckily Chi wakes up from this nightmare and since Yuu is sleeping noisily, Chi stuffs a rock in her mouth! Take that!

Episode 5C
It starts raining in this abandoned concrete steel beam ‘graveyard’. They take shelter in some makeshift cave. Bored Yuu starts hitting things with a metal pipe and the echo becomes unbearable. This has Chi quip about echo because it is empty. Like Yuu’s head. Yuu then cheekily hits her head to prove she too is empty but Chi strikes back that hers is even more. As they gather water, they realize the raindrops make different sounds on different objects. So they gather what they can and make music! Sounds a bit cacophony at first but then it sounds good enough (and an excuse) for us to listen to their rainy song. It ends when the rain stops.

Episode 6
The Kettenkrad just broke down. Chi is having a tough time fixing it and Yuu won’t help. She’s lazing around and loving this feeling of helplessness! I guess it’s better that way. If Yuu tries to help, she’ll make things worse! They notice a plane flying by and a person chasing after it. As they catch up, they realize the plane is a mini prototype and was made by Ishii. She was so engrossed in testing its flight that it took her a while to realize they were standing right next to her. Chi asks her help to fix her vehicle. She could but in exchange they help her out. She takes them to her base which is an abandoned plane hangar. She shows them a real plane she is making and is almost at completion. She plans to leave this city and if they help her fix it, she’ll help them with theirs. Ishii lets them take a bath and treats them to delicious potatoes (that’s all the rations she’s got). She also tells them she found blueprints of planes of the old technology and so far as to say alien technology. So she has been gathering the blueprints and making one. After the girls help fix the plane, Ishii helps fix their vehicle. Then it is back to putting the final touches on the plane. They celebrate and she lets them have more yummy potatoes. They ask where she is going and it seems she saw some city on a bright clear day. She must use this nice and warm weather to get there or there will be no chance. The chances might seem remote but it is better to die trying than die along with this city. The girls see off Ishii as she starts and takes off in her plane. Ishii thanks them for not only helping her but also witnessing this because doing so will definitely make it go down in history. The girls are delighted seeing the plane take off to the edge of the city. But then it just dismantles in mid-air! OMG! It looks like a blooper but it’s just tragic! However, don’t panic yet. The girls see Ishii floating down safely in a parachute. That’s what you call thinking ahead and making preparations. Although disappointed, Ishii couldn’t help smile and feel better that the burden is off her shoulder. The girls wonder why she is happy so Yuu thinks she has resigned herself to the feeling of helplessness. Feels… So… Good… The girls pack up and make their way to the next level while Ishii slowly floats her way down to the lowest level.

Episode 7A
Following Ishii’s map to a ration production facility, looks like the girls are lost in some pipe labyrinth and the worst part is how Chi is being scared walking on the pipes because they’re really high. Yuu comes to the rescue to help guide her but the more they trek forward, the darker it gets and Chi realizes she forgot to bring her lamp. That is when they realize they are really lost. Chi will not rest in the dark and forces to trudge forward. Despite warning Yuu to watch her step, it is Chi who falls through a metal fatigue portion of the pipe. Hey, there are lights down here! There are even arrows guiding them. I guess they somehow missed the path that Ishii travelled inside these pipes as Chi laments if only life has such arrows to guide them.

Episode 7B
The girls finally arrive at a potato farm. Thrilled of course. They explore more of the facility and upon sliding down the chute, they arrive at its production site. Yuu messes around with the switch and makes Chi run like a hamster on wheels because otherwise she will be grinded and squashed by the machine! They deduce this machine grinds the potatoes into powder. Noticing sugar and salt packs, Chi remembers these are the ingredients used to make rations. They decide to use what they have and make their own rations. First they kneed the grinded potatoes before stretching it out and then cutting them. Now to bake them. Sorry Yuu, you have to wait a bit longer for it to bake properly. Once it is done, they taste their hard work. Delicious. Sweetness is happiness indeed. So as not to waste the remaining ingredients, they bake more. Yuu gets creative by making her rations in different shapes and also faces of those she knows.

Episode 8A
The girls are in some huge strange area. Rows of slabs that are actually lockers. So far they found a few useless items in the ones that they could open. Trekking on, they stumble into a stone statue. Yuu is relieved to see it that she starts taking pictures. This prompts a conversation about Kanazawa whom Yuu almost forgot about! They talk about the likelihood of never meeting him again when Chi realizes the lockers have name on it. It was too small to read. It’s not that they forgot about the things they put in here but rather it is so they wouldn’t be forgotten. Hence these lockers are actually graves. But seeing this world has no one else left, who would pass by and remember them? Maybe that is what this statue is here for. Chi believes they should return the things they took back to their rightful graves as it would be meaningless for it to leave this place. Good luck trying to remember where they took it from.

Episode 8B
The girls are going up an endless tower in a spiralling fashion. It is so hypnotic that Chi almost fall over a broken path. Luckily somebody built a detour outside. Too bad it looks flimsy. Will it support the tank’s weight? Only one way to try out. Chi sums up her courage as they move on. However their worst fears come true as the nuts and bolts start loosening and falling apart! Step on it! They manage to detour back inside the tower before the flimsy scaffolding breaks apart totally. They finally reach the top and Chi is glad they can go back to their usual fashion of sleep, wake up, eat and travel. This makes Yuu quip that perhaps their life is like a spiral too.

Episode 8C
At the tower top that has abandoned buildings and rooms haphazardly built so close to each other, they examine a room as Yuu finds a strange antenna. Not sure with the moonlight, she goes a bit crazy and starts smashing things with it. Then she hits Chi. Payback time. That is when they discover a few bottles of beer. Under the moonlight, they drink beer for the first time. Another bottle? Oh no. Chi is drunk. Is it lesbian time? Yuu attributes this to the power of the moon. Then both girls merrily dance like a carefree drunkard under the moonlight while humming in the strangest but funny fashion. While they’re at it, Chi now dreams big and wants to go to the moon. Oh, she is eating Yuu’s hair too! Next morning, Chi has a big hangover while Yuu is like nothing as usual.

Episode 9
Arriving in some area, they notice the machineries are still running. This has them pondering if there is life. What is life anyway? Then they get a shock when a big robot crosses their path. AT-AT Walker rip off? Luckily it passes and they continue. Also more pondering if machines are life because that one seems to be running on its own. Then they stumble in an aquarium. A fish! Sorry, you can’t eat it. Says this mini AT-AT Walker spoof. In exchange of not eating the fish (to Yuu’s disappointment), it will tell of this place. It seems this mini robot and the big one are the only operating AI machines around. The small one does maintenance and the big one does the construction so they are safe from any harm. As Yuu wants to swim, it lets them used an unused aquarium tank. This place was a fish production facility. Of course it was abandoned and this is the last fish. No, you still can’t eat it. After Chi does the laundry, she takes a dip. But in her underwear instead of being naked? Well, there’s somebody watching. You mean the robot? Yuu forces her in as Chi panics because it is deep. She almost drowns but is saved. Not after that weird fish dream. Next, they feed the fish and talk about evolution and stuffs. Yuu helps feed the fish and thinks they can be friends! Hard to believe her with that drool. The robot suggests the girls sleep between the pipes since warm water is running through them. More talk about how the robot is as alive as humans perhaps because of empathy. A big rumble wakes them up before the big robot breaks in and starts tearing the place down. Mini robot communicates with it and it seems it will continue to deconstruct this area deemed unnecessary to preserve materials. Yuu is mad this means the fish will die as the debris will contaminate the water. Yuu then wants to save the fish. You mean not to eat it? Yes, save it. Mini robot tells its weakness so Yuu becomes the heroine to drop explosives there. This makes Chi wonder if they are killing something despite being a machine. It all depends on your definition of life. Yuu succeeds and the destruction stops. Mini robot says now the fish’s life is prolonged a little. Yuu then wonders if life means something that has an end. Mini robot stays behind and can only stop the water leaks. The girls part ways and hope they will live a long life. Bye fish.

Episode 10A
The duo board a huge train. During its long journey, they ponder about moving and rotation, hence the talk of how fast Earth is spinning that just confuses Yuu. They see a broken clock and hence begin a conversation about time. Noticing their time is constrained by food, Yuu is happy to note that as long as they have food, they can move forward.

Episode 10B
The girls disembark after a long journey. They have been travelling in this facility ever since they got on this level so they wish it’s nice to see the sun. Yuu picked up some strange radio but the transmission isn’t clear enough to hear the voices. Though, Chi believes it is what is called music. They arrive at an elevator and after taking the fast express trip up (it could almost kill them), they finally get to see the sun. The radio becomes clearer but it is playing a sad song. Because of that, the red colour dusk also makes them feel sad. Especially Chi starting to cry. Maybe she looked at the setting sun too long so her eyes are itching?

Episode 10C
Arriving at a very devastated battlefield, they follow the source to get some water. They take a break as Yuu ponders she would like to eat fish. Especially the one in the aquarium. Eat it, then save it and now eat it again? Yuu then spots a strange critter in one of the pipes. After luring it out and capturing it, they think this creature is a cat. Well, personally it looks closer to a mole rat, this strange alien critter. But we’ll go with cat for easier reference. Oh, they call it Nuko so I’m going with it too. Guess what is on Yuu’s mind? Can we eat it? Bake or roast?! Somehow Nuko can communicate via the radio albeit it is just repeating what they say. Chi believes it is best to leave it behind. Can’t eat anything that talks. But after a while, Nuko starts following them. It takes a liking for Chi so she decides to let it follow them since it is nice to add to things (they’re always losing things so this is a nice change in pace). I guess Yuu can only see it as some food as she starts rubbing on its smooth body…

Episode 11A
Nuko loves eating bullets! The bigger the better! Also, it seems to have learnt quite a few words and is able to converse basically with the girls. At a tank depot, Chi sees a book on a ground. She is fascinated with it although she cannot understand its language (it’s in English and about war). She decides to keep it so Yuu ‘admonishes’ her about picking up useless stuffs since that is what Chi always told her.

Episode 11B
Arriving at a strange machine where its mechanism is still running, the radio picks up a song and Nuko can pinpoint its source. As they head over there, they talk about culture and ecology. Yuu questions the need to wear helmets since it isn’t like anything will hit them. If anything would, it just means they’re very unlucky. You don’t say because debris start falling on them! Thank goodness for helmets, right? Suddenly more debris start falling and they manage to get out of there in time before a giant robot comes crashing down! Then inside a building, Nuko seems to be able to act as some power source and powers up the HUDs of some control room. Yuu is fascinated with the button and presses one. A missile destroys part of the city! Feeling fun, she presses another one in which a huge laser beam razes the entire horizon!!! Oh sh*t!!! Are they trying to subtly hint that this is what happens when power falls into the wrong hands? While Chi is shocked, Yuu starts laughing at how funny it is! Chi punches her! Oh. Not funny. With the sea of fire raging, they sleep where they are. Chi looks through the photos and drawings. She sees the similarity between Nuko and the stone statues. Could they be…?

Episode 11C
Nuko seems to like eating fuel too. Because it can eat like anything, they wonder if it will eat them too. Then they discuss about the food chain as they enter a strange area of strange windmills. At the end of this area, Nuko points out the source is definitely coming from this huge landed submarine. Nuko seems to be able to unlock locks and it is still okay when it gets squished by heavy things. The girls head inside to further explore.

Episode 12
While looking around and talking about loneliness, suddenly the camera starts synching with the control board. All the pictures they have taken pop up on screen. They notice other folders containing photos that were taken by Kanazawa. They are filled with life and many people. For the first time they see a video. In fact I think for that few minutes they saw the entire history of mankind! From birthdays to funerals to sports events to court sessions to concerts and eventually the big war. Wow. The duo must be in shock. But they could quip how less lonely they feel. They dream of how grandpa made them go on a trip in the midst of the war as they are smaller and able to fit into smaller openings. Plus, with a small body size, they require less food. Next morning as Yuu wakes up first, suddenly there is a huge Nuko next to her. Suddenly it eats her and leave! OMG! Chi panics but feels the need to go after her. In the meantime, flashbacks of their time together. Outside the submarine, she sees the giant Nuko sunbathing with Yuu sticking out? Then she is spat out. Yeah, she might not taste good. It then starts talking to them (telepathically?). It claims it does not eat living humans and only ate her radio so it can communicate with them. This is also why they used the equipment on this ship. It transforms into its true mushroom form. More of its kind pop out nearby. It seems their role is to ingest weapons and devices that produce high energy. Those that are unstable like bullets and missiles, they ingest and dismantle them internally into a stable state. Once they have ingested all of the weapons, Earth will go to slumber and so will they. As they have surveyed all the higher levels, it seems the duo are the last humans left! Thanking them for bringing the little Nuko back to them, they want it to come along with them as they must travel in a group. Nuko is reluctant and prefers to stay with the girls but they want it to return to its group where it has friends. Nuko returns to them as they all float away. The girls note the world is going to end but don’t care as long as they have each other. Yuu believes the singing voice is from them. The world is going to end, probably that’s why they’re singing a sad song. After the Nuko group leaves, all devices in the area stop working. The girls pack whatever food they have and prepare to leave for the higher level. They hope to find something there. Yuu suggests maybe they’ll aim for the moon once they get there.

On The Last Leg Of A Lifetime Tour
Let’s be honest here. This series is walking a fine line between intriguing and boringness. Although personally I feel that it is currently on the former, there is always that danger at any moment where I could fall into the latter and never recover. But the ending somehow leaves a bit of a bittersweet ending for me instead of being confused. It is sad to hear that the girls are the only ones left but what about Kanazawa and Ishii? Are they dead? Well, I supposed those Nuko aliens have been going from top to bottom and haven’t met other survivors at the bottom yet. At the same time it is a good thing that the girls have seen this end of the world thingy in the same if not a new light. Because they have been together for the longest time and will be till the end of their lives so what difference does it make? Carry on, girls. Carry on. After all, there is nothing to stop them in doing whatever they want.

Watching this series somehow makes me think that this series blended in a few ideas from past anime series. Having a pair of main characters just travelling about with no particular destination in mind? Did that already in Kino No Tabi. Mankind being devastated by war until nobody is left and eventually the end of the world? Sounds like Saishuu Heiki Kanojo to me. Military girls in a post-apocalyptic world? Reeking a little of Sora No Woto here. In a way Kamisama No Inai Nichiyoubi too because of a seemingly dying world that has been abandoned.

One of the most intriguing and baffling things about this world that kept bugging me is the people. I mean, where are they? What happened to them? Although it is greatly hinted that mankind could have destroyed themselves in a war but if that was so, where are all the bodies? You see the girls entering the supposed battlefield and find all sorts of destroyed weapons, vehicles and debris. But none in the form of human corpses. Therefore I must be thinking that everyone has just got up and left. They abandoned the place. But to where? However my conspiracy theory is that this situation seemed like everyone has been abducted by aliens! I mean, look at this way. In what reason did everybody had the same idea to just abandon the town and leave the facilities running? Oh yeah, we don’t care anymore. Let’s just leave the machines running and get out of here. No time to switch them off. No, siree. Besides, in areas which are not directly affected by the war, many of the abandoned buildings and things left behind look dilapidated over time instead.

This also has me ponder on how long have the place been left abandoned. How long have the girls been travelling. Watching through their endless journey, it also made me question what kind of technology they were exposed to. Because there were so many current day items and stuffs like clocks and videos in which the girls are unfamiliar of. Chi somewhat knows it because of the books she read. This either show that the girls were never exposed to such simple inventions (and could have been living a very sheltered military life) or if the technology in this world has advanced so much (proof of all the weird automations and machineries everywhere). But if it was the latter case, such objects should not be lying around anywhere and would have been stored in the museum or something. Hence how long has it been since the duo have not have any proper contact with other humans? Were they also raised isolated?

Hence there is this short animation clips lasting 1.5 minutes each known as Shoujo Shuumatsu Jugyou, which transports our girls to a normal modern day classroom. With a dozen episodes to go with it, our girls are the students in an empty classroom while the ‘teacher’ of the episode would be one of the items or things that was the main focus in the episode proper. While some episodes we have quite a brief but educational and insightful information such as aerodynamics and photosynthesis, others are just mainly about fooling around while trying to make sense of things. I bet this is all just a dream because if a fish could talk and even a dead fish only in bones too, I figure out this must be all a fantasy in Yuu’s head. Oh right, the stone statues don’t talk… Well, thank goodness they get a graduation ceremony in the final one. Sort of.

Also, the other mind boggling thing is how many of the machineries are still in good running condition. I mean, you see that certain places the girls go, there is still running water and food that are not expired! It might show that it has not been long since mankind disappeared but then again when you look at all the abandoned stuffs and building, it really shows that time has made its mark on those manmade objects. Sometimes it is like trolling with us if there are any life nearby. Then something would pop up and scare the sh*t out of us. And then for once we could see Yuu could put her rifle to good use. If not, Nuko’s food fodder it will be. Or it could all be just red herring because nothing eventually happens. A let down?

So many questions and yet so little answers. My guess is that this series is not meant to solve the riddle of what happened to mankind. You are to draw your own conclusions on what have happened because it doesn’t matter what happened to civilization of the past. Even if there are records but nobody to notice them, it is as good as vanished and gone forever. So I suppose one of the interesting aspects of this series is that some of the things that Chi and Yuu ponder along the way based on their logic and understanding of things, it makes you think for a while that from their perspective, it could be true too. However it is not such a deep thought that you would lose sleep over with. More like shower thoughts for you to ponder a bit and then you move on. Because if you try to answer to every question in the universe, what is the meaning to life then? Yeah, another thought to ponder upon.

There is not much on Chi and Yuu themselves for us to know more about. We don’t get to see anything deep from their past that brought them about their current situation. Because if almost everyone in this world is gone, how on earth did they become one of the very last few survivors? Did they miss the boat or something? Maybe they were playing in some rabbit’s hole when Armageddon happened or when aliens abducted everybody. Even if they were sent away, did all the missiles and bullets miss them in their escape? I mean, they had to drive Kettenkrad along, right? Personally, I feel that duo have emotions like robots. Chi is pretty obvious but Yuu despite being the troublemaker and the ‘livelier’ one, her enthusiasm too feels robotic. Even when Chi is afraid of heights, somehow I couldn’t feel that fear of hers is genuine. Perhaps it is genuine for her but watching her in fear doesn’t make it look so convincing. Perhaps they have not interacted with other humans for so long that they lose their ability to have a myriad of emotions. Sure, they have each other but they know each other inside out so well that it makes them like robots.

But still, watching their little banter among themselves can be quite amusing because after not seeing any human interaction for so long (can we all live without a minute of social media nonsense these days?), it is still good to know they haven’t entirely lost their entire humanity. With Yuu being more blunt and honest about her thoughts, personally I see her as the more amusing one. As long as have food, everything is okay. Or rather, she sees food in almost everything! Well, can’t argue with that. I am not sure if it would have been better had we know their goal in reaching the top. Wherever that is. Is it to find another civilization? From the final episode we clearly know the situation. But still, it doesn’t change the girls’ goal. But I suppose we never get to learn their true goal because like the saying goes, it isn’t the destination but the journey. That is why we get to enjoy and be intrigued at the adventures they go through. However the saddest thing that I can think of now is that assuming they are the last humans on Earth and if they are now happy with each other’s company, I wonder what will happen if one of them dies… Too grim and dark to think further! Come to think of it, I don’t think being lesbians can produce any offspring although as females they have that capability. Heck, I don’t think the girls know what being yuri is. Unless they stumble upon such manga… Common sense dictates their natural instincts would kick in but given the nature and direction of this series I don’t think procreation is anywhere on the top of their list either.

It would have been a really boring affair if this series only had the duo as the only characters in its entirety. So that’s why for a little variety and surprise (if you may call it that), they stumble into a couple of more humans. Too bad we don’t get to know more about them and they are only featured prominently for that single episode they appeared in. It is unfortunate that all of them have different goals and hence do not eventually travel together. It shows that perhaps this world devastation is not as bad as it seems to be. Because if it was, wouldn’t the survivors be happy to find other survivors and band together? Kanazawa and Ishii were already travelling alone and have their own goals to achieve. By going their separate ways, it shows that perhaps the world void of civilization isn’t so dangerous after all. Yeah, man is the most dangerous thing in the world and looks like the world has rid them all of it and hence true world peace!

Hmm… Is it me but do I see a trivial pattern here? In every third episode, the girls encounter somebody or interact with some artificial intelligence? But… Then the Nuko encounter broke that combo. And of course the final episode that has a myriad of other humans although they are all confined to the playback of the video. Is this consider human interaction too? Well, if it made the girls feel less lonely. Hence the biggest questions from the final episode stems from the origination of Nuko. What are they? Are they aliens? I don’t think they are the ones who ended humanity as it is greatly hinted the war did. If they only appear after the destruction of mankind, why are there various (creepy) stone status of them almost at every level? Are they some sort of ‘God’ because they eat and stabilize dangerous weapons? If they are really cats evolved, that could be scary. Nui… Perhaps these are what you call the guardian angels of Earth. They clean up the mess and menace that is made and known as men before everything goes into slumber and perhaps another millions of years before any life form can have a chance of evolving and living again. Besides, how did that little Nuko got separated from the main pack again?

I have this mixed feelings of the art and drawing style. At first glance, the girls look cartoonish. Somehow they look like characters from Hidamari Sketch, that chibi trademark look. But with the girls looking this simple, it somehow takes away the gloom and doom of the world’s devastated settings. There are many scenes in the series where it is dark as well as this eerie sense of emptiness in the sense that everything is just abandoned. Personally, it would have had a scarier feel had the girls look more like your typical conventional 2D Japanese anime girl. So having them looking this way takes a bit of the tension and avoid making you be depressed and blend into this forsaken world. Yeah, sometimes I feel that there are jump scares waiting to scare the hell out of me. Even those stone statues look helluva creepy if you give it too much thought. Although their drawing is so simple and didn’t put any effort into coming up with at least a decent design. Looking at you too, Nuko. Its mushroom form feels like, WTF. Honest. But this world is also strange enough as the cities are built upon layers and layers on each other. It makes you wonder how far into the sky the civilization has tried to reach. This series is animated by White Fox who did Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka, Akame Ga Kill, Steins; Gate, Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu and Jormungand.

I believe this is one of the very few animes in which there is a very few number of casts involved. Gakkou Gurashi comes to mind. Although Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 has only 3 main casts, there were other very minor background characters. And this series would have been a record 2 seiyuus only, Minori Inase as Chi (Rem in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu) and Yurika Kubo as Yuu (Hanayo in Love Live!) had they not met other characters during their journey. Of course the final episode with all those videos and different unrelated people making a short cameo in it, can it be considered as racking up the seiyuu list? I think not. While I recognized Akira Ishida as Kanazawa and Yuuki Kaji as that mini AT-AT Walker rip-off, the most surprising one to me is Kana Hanazawa as Nuko! OMG! Is that really her?! Damn radio interference that interfered with her voice so I can’t really recognize it’s her! But hearing it again and knowing it is her now, so true that it is really her behind it. No wonder there was this sense of familiarity behind that voice but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Slightly reminding me of those days when she did the titular character in Potemayo… The other cast is Kotono Mitsuishi as Ishii (Boa Hancock in One Piece).

Ironically for a show that is mostly slow and mundane, the opening is quite lively and cute. Sung by the main duo, Ugoku, Ugoku has all those cute sound effects that would have your feet tapping a little too. Because the girls do a little jiggle themselves in the opening animation credits. But the most amusing one goes to the ending theme, More One Night by the same duo. A cuter, livelier and catchy piece because of this hip hop and rap feel infused into this song. So if you’re feeling gloomy from the overall of this series, just hear this piece because it will definitely brighten up your day and also make you want to get up from your seat and do some embarrassing dance. Thank goodness nobody is here to see me rave this big fail. The special ending song for that raindrops and final episode, Amadare No Uta is also not bad and quite creative using different beats in the background. But for many of the other BGMs in the series, most of them have this melancholic feel. One of the more ‘conflicting’ BGMs is the one with angelic choir-like voices. They feel so out of place but yet so calm. Like as though everything is dead and this is heaven.

Overall, despite looking like a slow boring show, it is not entirely one and it keeps you intrigued with the mysteries of the world (unless being a bloodthirsty action junkie is your thing because this series has nothing of that sort). Though it served like a double edged sword because it is those unanswered questions that helped keep the romance of this series alive but at the same time that unsatisfied feeling that we will never get to know them. At least not in this season. Despite the pensive mood and the very desolated world, we get to see how a pair of youngsters manage to keep surviving on hope (and food too). It makes us want to dream and think putting ourselves in their shoes, what will we do if we are the last humans left on this planet? I’m sure we’ll have fun going ballistic doing all the things we want without restriction before reality hits us if this is what we want from life. But you know what? I would prefer to be the last surviving human on this planet with nobody else compared to be the last surviving human in a zombie apocalypse! Free and easy at my own pace indeed. I would definitely sign up for this final world tour package for the ultimate peace and quiet (hooray! No social media spam!). It is not that we’re scared of being alone but rather we are not alone!

Houseki No Kuni

March 25, 2018

This is going to be a gem. Literally. Somebody had this bright shiny idea to take several gemstones and give them human personalities. Hence you get this anime Houseki No Kuni. Oh, you bet these characters made out of precious stones are going to be very precious and priceless. As a matter of fact they are. Because aliens from another world constantly invade their peaceful land and try to kidnap them to be brought back to their planet where they serve as decorations! Holy cow! It sounds as ridiculous as it is interesting. So these jewel people have to fight and stave off the invaders before they end up as someone’s ornament. Is this the price to be paid for freedom? I guess this is even more valuable than all the gemstones you can find and collect.

Episode 1
Phosphophyllite AKA Phos is frolicking around when she is called by Master Kongou for a job. Meanwhile the Lunarians begin their attack as Morganite AKA Morga and Goshenite AKA Goshe intercept them. Kongou explains the enemy often come here to harvest them as jewellery as decoration on the moon. There are only 28 of them but the Lunarians are infinite. As many of them work in pairs and different jobs, there was none whom he could rely Phos on. Kongou goes down to the field to see Morga and Goshe defeated and their gems being harvested. One power voice shatters the enemies away. Phos is also shattered. Therefore he brushes off Phos’ idea of wanting to join in battle since her hardness level is only 3 and the job she is most suited for is compiling their encyclopaedia. It is a job that requires creativity and intelligence. Phos is not happy about it but it is this honesty that Kongou has her for this job. Rutile the doctor puts the pieces back on them. As long as they have enough pieces, they won’t lose memories as their bodies are home to microscopic organisms. Phos tries to get the duo to help her get out of this boring job. So Goshe suggests swapping places. In her rashness, Phos takes her sword but quickly tumbles. Thankfully she didn’t break. They suggests asking Cinnabar if she wants to know more. However she has not met her before as she is always on night patrol. It seems that she is the only one who can see at night and unlike the rest of them, she doesn’t need to feed off the sun. Also her silvery poison can destroy anything it touches. It seems like the perfect fighting machine but only 1 problem: Lunarians never invade at night. So a meaningless night patrol?

Phos decides to make Cinnabar her helper but she needs to find her first. She keeps looking until dusk and when she sees her, she is in the midst of fighting off Lunarians. Despite in a dilemma of not wanting to kill her surroundings, she continues fighting them to protect Phos. Phos tries to save her when she falls off the cliff but her hands break. Later Cinnabar reveals she is the weakest of the lot and has only a hardness level of 2. While getting fixed up by Rutile, she further explains to her how gifted Cinnabar is but because of this flaw, they are forced to put her in the night. At least in a way it gives meaning to her existence since all of them cannot die, they have to face these problems till they find an answer. Later Phos returns to that spot and Cinnabar isn’t amused she hasn’t learnt her lesson of how dangerous this area is. Phos hear her wish to be taken by the Lunarians. At least she will be of use as decoration. They never showed up until Phos did. Cinnabar helps a little in Phos’ compilation as Phos vows to find something better for Cinnabar to do. So stop saying she wants to go to the moon. Later Cinnabar notices Phos has dropped her notebook. She sees her own hand mark on it when Phos tried to save her. It makes her emotional.

Episode 2
As narrated, a shooting star visited this world and fractured into 6 moons. All life forms fled to the sea or shores but those who were late sunk to the depths of the ocean. They were consumed by microorganisms and over time became gemstones before rising to the surface once more. Phos is now bugging Jade and Euclase for some ideas when Rutile interrupts to give an unwanted impact test on Jade to test her hardness. In tip top condition as always. Phos volunteers to have one but Rutile shoots her down. She knows she is one of the weakest. Bummer. To get her off her back, Jade tells Phos to find Diamond AKA Dia since she might have some new fighting moves. Indeed she goes to bug her as Phos plays out her sob story of being stuck in this job. But then the Lunarians arrive. Dia goes on the offensive. She looks impressive swinging back those arrows. However Phos feels something isn’t right. What is that cracking sound? To her worst fears, it looks like Dia is cracking. Luckily Bort is here to save the day and easily destroy the enemy. Dia explains 10 is the maximum hardness level as all of them in the diamond class are. Dia might be tough but is fragile under impact. Unlike a monocrystal like her, Bort is some sort of microcrystal synthetic and no impact will shake her. Thus the hardest of them all and the one true diamond. A weak diamond is not a real diamond. Sometimes Dia has this thought if only Bort wasn’t around…

Bort then angrily approaches Dia and rips off her arm! It makes that cracking sound. Bort is mad she told her not to fight because of her body condition and yet she did. Dia doesn’t want to always be protected. Phos foolishly tries to vouch for Dia but Bort doesn’t appreciate her antics. Calling her a nuisance, she is going to get rid of her when a new enemy appears. However it passes them and hovers across the school. Say, isn’t Kongou in the midst of meditation now? A giant shell crashes near Jade and Euclase. Bort attacks the enemy and tells Dia to stay out. Because there is nothing she can do. Bort easily cuts down the enemy. Jade and Euclase leave Phos to research on this shell and of course she tries to weasel her way out of it but fails. Suddenly the shell springs to life and devours Phos. She feels hot and cannot move. As the others try to save her, it seems whatever touches this snail causes them the melt. Not even Bort can get close. They think this might be a new weapon sent from the moon. Bort tries to call out to Phos but she isn’t answering. Phos is gradually melting and dissolving into nothing as she laments for someone to save her or else Cinnabar will never be free. Worry about yourself first than others, please.

Episode 3
Dia notices that the some parts of the shell has turned in Phos’ colour. She believes Phos was trying to show the snail’s weakness. She slides down to tear out its guts. In the aftermath, a little docile snail appears in its place. The rest go dive underwater where the shell has fallen to find traces of Phos but to no avail. Where has she gone to? Noticing how annoying this little snail is, could this be Phos?! They had to break Rutile’s break to get help but eventually Dia can’t leave it with her because she wants to dissect it! Dia begins to wonder if Phos’ transformation was she took her advice literally about changing from within. Yeah, looks like it. Dia shows the new Phos to everyone but nobody really cares about turning her back. Maybe she is better this way? Dia also starts to wonder if she is better off like this because she will not have to worry and bother anyone anymore. Cinnabar does her night patrol and thinks Lunarians are here. But all that bright is just Dia as she has fallen asleep. Do diamonds shine this bright in darkness? Dia introduces Cinnabar to this snail and hopes she can find a way to turn Phos back. But like the others, she too believes she is better off like this. Dia remains positive (or perhaps she took it all the wrong way) thinking Cinnabar is in love with Phos or something. As Cinnabar explains the various snails around the land, it then dawned to Dia on a way to save Phos. Could it be that Phos has turned partly into the shell? So she runs back and gathers her comrades to pull the shell out of the water. Then for every piece of that coloured pieces they chip it out for Rutile to put them back together again. Voila! Phos is back! However she is not happy with the snail and tries to attack it! She is so comical that everyone laughs and believes the snail is smarter than her! Phos seems to be arguing with the snail while everyone else wonders who she is talking to.

Episode 4
Kongou finally wakes up from his sleep meditation. Jade reports what happened but since Bort took care of it all, everything else is fine. At first I thought Phos was having so much time adlibbing the snail. Turns out she is the only one who can telepathically communicate with Ventricosus. Because of that, everyone thinks Phos is having a mental breakdown talking to herself. Even Rutile wants to tear Phos apart and rebuild her to regain her sanity! After Kongou learns about Ventricosus, Phos misinterprets what she says to him. Ventricosus wants to date this hunk but she translates that as wanting to be his slave! Kongou feels the need to maintain equal amiable relations and since Phos is the only one who can understand, she is made to look after it. Phos then asks about Cinnabar’s pointless job. Kongou reveals that she was the one who suggested doing the night job. He is still finding a way to solve her problem. Ventricosus suggests coming with her back to her home in the sea as there is a creature that looks a lot like them and might offer hints. Hence Phos steals some powder from Rutile and Red Beryl (who needs it to finish her new uniform) so as to go underwater. She is caught in the act and Kongou forbids her to go there. She argues it is for the encyclopaedia but he tells her to finish the hills first. He has not gotten a single report from her since.

Ventricosus grows weaker seeing it needs food instead of sunlight to replenish itself. They talk about life and death and with her wish to see her home one last time, Phos decides to go against Kongou’s warning and venture into the sea with Ventricosus. She then turns into her beautiful almost humanoid form. If this is The Little Mermaid’s Ursula and how she looks like if she was hot? Well, almost. Ventricosus talks about the legends of her people. Once this world were inhabited by creatures called humans. Everything endured for 5 moons until the sixth one came. They took to the sea and split into soul, flesh and bones. What she meant was they split themselves into 3 species to survive. Ventricosus’ people, the Admirabilis are said to have come from their flesh. The bones are said to have struck a deal with other life forms, gained longer lifespans and returned above water. The soul is said to have found ‘new lands’ and now they seek the flesh and bones to bring about a revival of humans. The soul could be what we know as Lunarians. Because the soul have no other enemies and lust for battles, it may speak volumes of what humans once were. If that is the case, the rest of them have changed for the better. After almost a day, they arrive at supposedly Ventricosus’ home. Nothing. Barren. Tired Phos lies down to rest when Ventricosus apologizes she has someone important to her as Cinnabar is to Phos. Lunarians’ arrows attack and shatter Phos. It seems Ventricosus has made a deal with them to offer Phos in exchange for her brother, Aculeatus.

Episode 5
A search party is held for Phos. They believe she went to the sea and true enough there are footsteps leading there. Phos is fished out by the Lunarians. Ventricosus is not happy they want her to lure more before they return her brother. When she refuses, they attack her. A large Pokemon-like creature pops up. The Lunarians attack it and in pain it attacks them and cause their entire ship to crash. It turns out to be Aculeatus as he turns into his humanoid form. Dark tentacle prince? He notes they must escape now as word of this would have reach the moon. He praises Ventricosus for using Phos to rescue her and pulled it off without handing her over. After hearing that, Phos can’t feel mad at them. She agrees to be used as a negotiation tool in exchange Cinnabar is kept out of this. Kongou sees off this girls as they head into the sea. Cinnabar watching from afar is trying to convince herself she is not part of this. Then a weakened and repentant Phos washes up behind her. For some reason she doesn’t tell the rest and drags her back to the school. Because of that the others are still out there looking for Phos. They tire easily as they are not used to underwater. As Rutile heads back to get more materials, she trips on Phos. Oh dear. Looks like everyone is trying to help put her back together and quick because they hear the thunderous steps of Kongou! Be fearful! Then they all go hide as Kongou’s scolding is enough to shatter some bits. However he has her rest and will hear the rest of her report tomorrow. And with that report he calls off her encyclopaedia research. As Phos lie motionless, most of her parts are recovered except her legs. There is a couple of bones from the Lunarians’ ship that was washed up with her. It is some sort of quartz called agate. Rutile is unsure to use this as her legs. She tries it out but Phos cannot still walk. A bit of bad news as Phos cannot remember some of her comrades like Jade. Don’t take it too personally… As Phos struggles by herself, thoughts of Cinnabar flashes across her mind. Suddenly she stands up and vows she cannot be weak. Well what do you know? Now she can walk! Even better, run faster than Sonic!

Episode 6
Yellow Diamond and Zircon are being chased by the Lunarians. Zircon protects the former and shatters. Yellow takes her back to Rutile to be fixed as they talk about Zircon being the second youngest after Phos and Yellow as the oldest of the lot, they don’t even know what they’re fighting for anymore. Yellow notices Phos is gone and goes look for her. She finds her but is she running away from her? Actually, her legs are so fast she can’t control where she wants to stop. Yellow challenges her to bump into her. This allows Yellow to catch her. Phos thinks her true potential has awakened and wants to join the battle. I believe everyone has their doubts so Kongou has Obsidian hand him the smallest sword. Phos can’t even carry it. Looks like only her legs powered up. He asks why she is so eager to help. Simple. She wants to help because he is special to her. Don’t blush now. Kongou has her team up with Amethyst for the lookout job. He wants her sea report. Wide and big… Can’t blame her. She doesn’t remember much. But when she mentions humans, Kongou becomes shocked. End of report. Yellow introduces Phos to Amethyst. Seems she can split herself into twins called 33 and 84. Phos is eager to go on a patrol with them for the first time. Too bad her first day has exerted so much energy trying to wield the sword. Let’s hope she can keep up the next day. On the third day, she is just tired and slacking. Too tired to move. When the twins suggest practising her sword fight, she springs to life. Too bad she will have to learn on the spot because Lunarians are here. The twins show how adept they are as they easily slice through the Lunarians, even the big boss. Unfortunately they let their guard down as they get devoured by a trap. Phos could only watch helplessly and in shock as they crumble. Luckily Bort arrives in a flash to take out the ship and it is ultimately Kongou’s super gem shot skill that destroys it. Bort angrily confronts Phos and demands an explanation.

Episode 7
Though the twins are pieced back together, Phos prostates herself before them. She was scared that she couldn’t move. But they apologize too as they got careless and were trying to set an example. Alexandrite AKA Alex barges in and wants the twins to tell if the enemy’s blades were made from Sapphire. They can’t remember much and think Phos would as she saw everything. But looks like she has run away to do some reflection time. She sees Cinnabar on her patrol but dare not face her. As winter is near, the ladies setup the place for hibernation. Light is weak and it will only tire them. If Lunarians attack, Kongou and Antarcticite will help protect the place. The latter exists in liquid form but when the temperature drops, her body crystalizes. Once Antarcticite is up, she goes to get her annual hug from Kongou. Only, Phos is watching! Can’t sleep. Kongou decides to pair them up, much to Antarcticite’s dismay. Even she knows how useless Phos is. Halfway trekking, Phos is already tiring out. So crawling the rest of the way there? She is shown a huge ice floe. When the sea freezes, segments with microorganisms from the sea floor will wind up like that. After it sinks, it pops up again and makes a shrieking sound. This eerie sound is when the icebergs collide and it is their job to cut it down to avoid disturbing their sleeping comrades. They are once called sinners by Kongou. See how Antarcticite easily break them apart. Phos whines but also tries. Most of the time she breaks herself. And she already tires about doing the same thing every day. Why not just leave the disposing of ice floes entirely to Antarcticite? She is doing fine on her own, right? One day while cutting icebergs, she thought she is going crazy when the iceberg talks to her. Although they do ‘talk’ but it is in a language they can’t understand. Plus, they don’t speak on their own will. Gee, Phos can understand them now? Antarcticite reports Phos helping out nicely. Her only complaint is that her arms should have matched her legs. Phos has this weird idea of cutting her arms but backs off. Then she hears the iceberg trying to convince her to do so, even bringing Cinnabar’s name into it. Phos accidentally slips into the water and when Antarcticite pulls her out, both her arms are gone.

Episode 8
Antarcticite dives in to find them but it’s like those icebergs have this conspiracy to crush her. In the end, she couldn’t find her arms and she blames herself for being careless and not used to working as a pair. Kongou doesn’t blame her but Antarcticite still feels at a lost over this huge blunder. He tells them to head to the Chord Shore. It is a place where all of them were born. At this place is a huge rock where deposits from the sea work their way up over millions of years to be born here again. Currently there are only gold and platinum all around but they are extreme soft but heavy. No harm trying. It seems Phos’ body accepts it but she is having trouble pulling around all that weight. Suddenly it goes berserk and starts engulfing her. At this time, the Lunarians attack. Antarcticite fights them. Back at the school, the Lunarians are trying to impede Kongou with traps. Antarcticite continues fighting a new type of Lunarian as reported by Alex. She is slowly breaking up from its hook traps. Eventually she manages to use enough might to overcome and destroy it. She is still alive but chipped from head to toe. Also, Phos is now trapped in her own gold box cell. Antarcticite tries to break her out and Phos is complaining how rough she is? Yeah, gold can be quite hard… Suddenly Antarcticite shatters from a Lunarian attack. Phos’ screams are muted by the gold (forming hands to cover her mouth). Antarcticite’s last words are to take over her winter duties and not make Kongou lonely. The Lunarians pick up pieces of Antarcticite. Phos becomes so mad as she commands the gold to do her bidding. She breaks out and the gold now forms part of her body. They look like replacement arms and extended parts of her body. The gold also automatically protects her from attacks (like as though it is now part of her blood stream) as Phos races to rescue Antarcticite. But they are all in vain as she falters and chips off in the end. Kongou catches her. Phos is sad Antarcticite suffered for her. Kongou says the blame is his to bear.

Episode 9
Spring is looming. What’s this? Phos has a makeover? New hands. New hairstyle. New serious personality. New abilities. Super kickass?! OMG! Is this really Phos! She could easily take out the Lunarians herself! Although the weight of the alloy is straining her body, Phos refuses to rest as Kongou suggests, she continues to work on Antarcticite’s behalf. She goes to ‘talk’ to Antarcticite (all that is left of her) about her day. She has fears sleeping in which she would see visions of her. A trauma she is still reeling from. Phos even sews Kongou’s new robe. When spring arrives, the other ladies awake from their slumber. At their usual meeting, everyone is shocked that Phos is now different. Phos uses her new abilities to describe the events that day. At first it freaks out everyone but soon everyone is so awed with her that they want to touch her, experiment with her and if you’re like Bort, want to cut her up! However with all the amazement, there seems to be one minor flaw: Phos doesn’t remember who Cinnabar is. Phos’ popularity rises as the others start chasing her down like a super idol star while she expends energy to run away. Even Kongou is telling them to line up for a piece of her! OMG! Can this monk joke?! Must be some sort of lesson about great power comes a sense of solitude. You mean not responsibility? Just kidding. But is Kongou also referring to himself? Phos stumbles into Cinnabar. Doesn’t remember much but not like the latter cares anyway. Phos ponders she used to dream fighting out here but now realizes it is really dangerous work. When Lunarians show up, it is Phos’ turn to show the Amethyst twins how easily she could kick ass. While they are so amazed with the new Phos, not everyone is because Bort certainly doesn’t look impressed. No longer the strongest, eh?

Episode 10
Phos is sure in demand. She explains in detail to Alex the Lunarian she fought. Then Bort wants to team up with her so they could cover each other’s weaknesses. Phos thinks for a while and eventually agrees to that. She tells Dia about it and she looks shocked. But Dia accepts it since she was the one who asked her to change so she can’t complain. As news of Bort and Phos’ teaming up spreads, Dia is the hardest hit. She might say she is okay but from the looks of her dejection… A new massive Lunarian appears. It seems to be stuck in the rift it is trying to break through. Bort and Phos attack it but its multi-hands and very hard impenetrable skin makes it all the more difficult. Bort then takes Phos to retreat as the Lunarian chases after them. Bort has Phos ring the bell 6 times. This is not to call for reinforcements but to signal to everyone to hold their positions. Her plan is to draw that Lunarian their way as they go and wake Kongou up. As it starts chasing them inside the school, it then disappears. Because this plan hinges on everyone to be outside school, if somebody is still in here, the plan is screwed. And the Lunarian’s ‘disappearance’ could be it found one of them inside. And that one of them is Dia. Shocked at the new Lunarian, she makes a run and hides from it. I don’t know why she just couldn’t run outside but running around inside while barely trying to avoid being caught. Bort and Phos are checking if there are any others inside. Alex is but she tells them she saw Dia being chased by a Lunarian. Through with running, Dia thinks she has to settle this herself and faces the enemy. It didn’t take long before she realizes it is a bad idea. She is smacked and struck, each time bits of her body pieces breaking off. Bort arrives too late to the rescue as she is now gravely incapacitated. Bort and Dia realize how important they are to each other. Bort prepares to face the Lunarian who has now split itself into two.

Episode 11
The Lunarian splits itself up. One attacks Phos and Alex. When Phos is restrained by it, Alex turns into some berserk Tarzan and slashes it apart! Split personality? Phos then helps Bort with the rest but the more they cut up, the more it revives… Into cute little puppies???!!! WTF???!!! Too cute to kill! Then it runs all over the place bugging the other girls. So cute!!! Eventually everyone picks all of them up and puts them in a cage. Then it turns into that original Lunarian. It starts attacking them but in a playful manner. Phos tries to lead it to Kongou but gets caught. When Kongou appears and the Lunarian attacks, Kongou gives a series of dog commands like sit and roll. It obeys! Its name is Shirou?! When everything calms down, Phos asks Kongou if he knew about Shirou. Not really. Huh? Phos thinks hard about the possibility of Kongou and a Lunarian when she bumps into Cinnabar. Oh, there’s a little pup with her too. When Phos notes Kongou might be hiding something, Cinnabar says everyone knows about it. Well, at least they have their suspicions but they choose to believe in him no matter what as their unspoken agreement. Phos feels the need to know the truth but dreads the courage she needs to go ask him. When she returns, she sees Shirou cuddling up to Kongou before vanishing. Returning to the moon? Not quite. Just found its peace. Phos sees visions of Antarcticite and to her worst fear, it hints that she too might know about Kongou’s secret. Kongou asks Phos about her partnership with Bort. Excellent. Everyone should team up with her once. Phos needs answers so what better way than to wait for the Lunarians to show up. For 10 days they never did. Heh. It’s like they’re trolling. Rutile informs her the Dia is back to normal but is jealous she didn’t get to cuddle a puppy but Beryl made a replica for her so all is well. When Rutile mentions she is still looking parts for Padparadscha, Phos is glad she still remembers her. She used to be Rutile’s partner and second strongest after Bort. But with holes in her body, she is now in comatose state. Rutile kept modifying her body in hopes of waking her up and this is how she became a skilled doctor. After they find more parts of her popping up on Chord Shore, the moment of truth… Padparadscha opens her eyes.

Episode 12
Padparadscha is feeling fine. After 231 years and 300,000 operations? Phos talks with her about her wish to talk to a Lunarian so Padparadscha tells her she wants Rutile to stop treating her and take that burden off. That would provoke some kind of reaction in ways one will never imagine. So for the truth to reveal itself, be calm and be mindful of your actions. Right after that, she collapses and goes back into slumber. Zircon is being partner with Bort. She feels so scared? Even when ignored, she feels scared in fear of doing something wrong. Hence she goes to ‘harass’ Phos for answers! The next time Zircon talks to Bort, the latter tells her that her weakness is Yellow because she is trying to protect her and utilize her full potential. She needs not concern herself when with her and should give all she’s got. Phos sees the old notes that Kongou once taught her. Too bad she can’t remember much of them. Not sure if she goes to have some trivia quiz with Alex about Lunarians because the latter looks worn out after that. Phos asks if it is possible to talk to Lunarians. Not sure. Not enough info. Asked if Alex likes Lunarians as she keeps thinking about them every day, researching is the only way to overcome her condition because Chrysoberyl was taken from her before Phos was born. So she thinks about them so as to never forget that hatred. As it is dusk, Lunarians start appearing. Phos engages them and tries to make one of them talk. Well, if she didn’t strangle it. When it looks like it is eking out something, Cinnabar destroys them all. Later that night when Phos looks for Cinnabar, the latter runs away! Phos is always a foreboding of something bad! Since when did this turn into a comical chase? Anyway, Phos has got a new job for her. A job that she can only do. Oh Cinnabar, don’t get picky and technical with the words she used now. Anyway, that job is to help uncover the truth about Kongou and the Lunarians. The more Phos tries to get closer to the truth, the more off things seemed. She can’t tell if she is looking the right way anymore. Cinnabar won’t help if she has not thought out what she’ll do if Kongou turns out the opposite. This is why Phos needs her for she is prudent and smart. She’ll come again to ask but Cinnabar hints that if it is just teaming up, it’s okay. Eh? Why acting so shy? Phos gets called by Kongou as she reminisces her old and simple spoilt self that she is now envious. She sees Kongou and remembers Padparadscha’s words to be calm and mindful.

May The Phos Be With You
It sucks. I mean, when you have so many questions at this point and this is how it ends, it sure really sucks to not have that satisfied feeling when the series ends. Sure, you can tell me to go read the original works which are chapters ahead and there could be more revelations but then again, they could have adapted it to 2 cours? Right. Who am I to order people around when I don’t have money, precious stones or gold to my name? All I am saying is that the mystery and plot thickens late in the series (when Phos became more mature and responsible) but it piles up so much and things don’t go everywhere (plus the fact the other jewel girls aren’t even bothered to look further into this despite knowing because status quo in life is the best), it sounds interesting as it is giving the series a direction to where it is heading but all comes to a grinding halt because a season we can only have a dozen episodes. In short, too many questions and potentials but no answers.

Not sure if I am missing the plot here because despite the synopsis saying about these jewel girls protecting and fighting off the Lunarians as the basic setting, all I can see the rest of the series is about Phos trying to find her reason for existence. While that is not entirely a bad thing, it feels like the plot isn’t going anywhere. As though this entire series is about Phos’ transformation from someone immature into someone with responsibilities but still retaining some of the quirks that will always make Phos as Phos. The other aspects aren’t too clear like the origins of the world (which was briefly touched about by Ventricosus) and the island that they are currently occupying. We have only heard from one point of view and assume the Lunarians are the villains but what actually goes on the other side? What does their world look like? Is the setting we are initially told the truth then? There is more than meets the eyes to this. At least those are the sentiments I feel and thoughts meandered while trying to watch and understand what is happening. There are parts which are supposed to be funny like Kongou’s interaction with Shirou and how he jokingly told the girls to line up to ‘harass’ all-new Phos but somehow these just pass off as odd. Because Kongou doesn’t look like the kind of person who can joke. Seriously.

The characters are a hit and miss. Phos gets the big bulk of the screen time and as I have said, the entire series is about her trying to find what she is suitable for and then her slow transformation from just a completely pure gemstone into an amalgamation of various other alloys. Always the carefree and my-pace character among the group, she is like the joker and comic relief character compared to the rest. Sometimes it is funny, sometimes it is annoying. She wants to go into battle so much but is always side-lined but it took the death of just one of her comrades to wake her up. Suddenly she became so responsible and matured overnight. A totally different character. Like as though she had some sort of personal bonding with Antarcticite. Maybe. There wasn’t anyone else to keep her company during those cold winter days when she just couldn’t sleep. I suppose that is a good thing since we get to look at the new Phos with new powers. Literally from zero to hero. I’m not sure if there is something being hinted that gems change under pressure. Heck, I know nothing about them. Then there is this personal of mission of hers to help Cinnabar. It seems to get side-tracked every time. As though it is never going to happen. They keep trolling us each time they meet just to somewhat remind us but nothing comes out of it. Even right till the end, it just hints to us they may team up but nothing more. After all, Cinnabar has grown tired of her night patrol and needs to escape this ‘hell’.

Kongou is the mysterious of the lot as he is the leader among the gemstone ladies. Funny, I always have this thought that he is human just because he is male (I believe everyone is genderless but since the gemstone girls look so feminine…) and dresses like a monk. He acts differently from the rest as he needs to sleep and meditate. However I don’t see him eating… He could have very well be a gemstone too because his name too already suggests it. Adamantite, the hardest gemstone around. There is always an air of mystery that makes you suspect if Kongou is more than what he seems to be. He might look like he is defending the girls from Lunarians. But in the hints peppered throughout the series, could it be that he has some connections to the Lunarians? Could he be one of them and defected? Worse, this conspiracy theory that Kongou may be the real villain who kidnapped the gemstone girls and the Lunarians are just trying to take them back to their rightful place! Horror! After all, why is he the only one alone on this planet? The reason he treats his precious girls with care is because, well, which idiot would abuse and roughly treat their precious stones?! Treat them with care… ‘Coz you girls are looking so beautiful…

As for the rest of the other characters, only a handful receives their due screen time. Like Bort who is the strongest is often using her brute strength and a little boorish and uncouth as compared to the kind and gentle Dia. Then we have Rutile the mad scientist who likes to break things apart as her experiment, Beryl who loves designing their team’s uniform (not sure if I can consider those as hot pants they’re always wearing) as well as Alex who has this knack for sketching Lunarians and now we see she has some sort of a berserk personality. Then there are Jade, Euclase and Amethyst who stick around more often but can’t find any reason to remember them. There are other gemstones too but they make their appearance so miniscule that they are just forgettable. Heck, I don’t even know their names. As for Cinnabar, it’s like she is going through some brooding phase as she is always trying to be the lone wolf type. Every time you see her, it’s like “Oh, it’s her. She’s not going to join in anything else as usual”. It’s like they can do without this character but need her from time to time to prop up some drama for Phos.

You may be wondering if the series was going to use gemstones as their theme, why are they naming many of their characters after gemstones that we have never heard of and are hard to pronounce? Yeah, try pronouncing and even spell Phos’ full name the first time you see it. It was once stated that the likes such as sapphire, ruby and opal did once exist but were taken away by Lunarians. So when a gemstone is taken away by the Lunarians, it will never rebirth again on Chord Shore? Not really sure how this works too. Too complicated for my simpleton mind. Hence on this planet we are stuck with gemstones we never probably heard of in our lifetime like Phos and Bort because the popular ones were taken away and introduced to us on a commercial scale. Oh wait. There’s diamond who still isn’t captured… So unless you are a gemstone enthusiast, such names won’t ring a bell. Heck, if you love gemstones, I’m sure you’ll find the mid-intermission eye catch screen a little informative as it lists a few details of some of the gems like its category, formula, crystal system and Mohs scale. Yikes. Too technical for me. Not going to bother.

Ventricosus and Aculeatus are perhaps the only original organic living organisms on this planet. They are another bunch of interesting characters with their own ulterior motive but sadly after the end of Phos’ kidnapping, they have gone to parts unknown and are mostly forgotten. It gives the possibility of other living creatures in the depths of the ocean. Because from what I can see, the island is just a pretty small place. The ocean is vast an endless and there might be other islands and countries with other lifeforms out there. You may never know. There might be another island filled with other gemstone ladies living their life in this similar fashion.

The obvious factor which catches your attention at first is the visuals. It is entirely done using CGI. This isn’t the first anime using such animation style as it was previously done in Sidonia No Kishi and Ajin. Though I didn’t see both those titles thus this series is considered my first. It won’t be the same high level quality as Pixar or Disney but it is pretty decent. After all, at this age of modern computer technology, there is no excuse for putting up crappy CGI effects. Also, when you have characters in the form of gemstones, CGI sounds like the best option to make them shine and have those shiny effects. The animation might look a bit odd especially the movement of the characters but keep in mind that the characters aren’t really humans themselves. They are more like the shinier versions of golems. One of the mind boggling ones is the hair of the characters. Sure, they are made out of the same gemstone material but yet they wave in the wind like as though they are soft like real hair? Doesn’t make sense. But still, the overall feel of the animation is smooth and fluid enough that only nit-pickers would see faults in them. Otherwise newbies may be awed and casual viewers like me won’t really bother going into the high specs of the quality.

One thing I would like to note about the designs of the Lunarians. It looks like their designs are mainly taken after deities or gods of the eastern culture especially of the Buddhism and Hinduism side. Seeing that I come from such cultures, hence the looks of those Lunarians sometimes looks a bit scary to me. I guess back when I was a child, you get scared and traumatized for life after hearing ghost stories from your grandmother. Even more so when you visit such temples that often houses such deities and statues everywhere so as a kid it could be quite creepy. It gets even creepier when the BGM when they appear is played. Oh, those traditional bells really do give me the creeps still even if they aren’t that scary in the first place.

Action wise, it is pretty decent. After all, when you’re bored with all the drama and the shenanigans of Phos, the fights with the Lunarians are pretty okay. Thanks to the fluid animations and some of the camera angles, it makes the fights a little more enjoyable. You get to see the girls slicing the Lunarians in half and it is like the former is on some semi-god mode on because even if they sustain heavy damage, they can’t really die unless you have every piece of you taken away and not pieced back together. Phos having new powers and being a gemstone version of Mr Fantastic (stretchable limbs thanks to her gold alloy), it is fun to see what kind of creative ways she’ll fight the enemy.

There are quite a number of veteran seiyuus lending their talents here. The most notable ones I recognized are Jouji Nakata as Kongou, Saori Hayami as Goshe, Mikako Komatsu as Cinnabar, Rie Kugimiya as Alex, Chiwa Saito as Ventricosus and of course to my utter delight who else but Mamiko Noto as Euclase. Ayane Sakura was unrecognizable as Bort since she was doing her angry low voice instead of that stereotyped bratty high pitched voice that I am so used to. At first I thought Satomi Satou was behind Dia but was actually Ai Kayano (Inori in Guilty Crown). Tomoyo Kurosawa did quite a versatile job as Phos from her naughty and carefree days into someone who is serious with bits of sarcasm. If her character sounds all too familiar somewhere because Kumiko from Hibike! Euphonium also sounded somewhat in this fashion. Just without all the initial hype.

The other casts are Yumi Uchiyama as Rutile (Momiji in Binbougami Ga), Ayahi Takagi as Jade (Chris in Senki Zesshou Symphogear), Kanae Itou as Amethyst (Sanae in Shinryaku! Ika Musume), Maaya Uchida as Beryl (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Mariya Ise as Antarcticite (Levi in Fairy Tail), Junko Minagawa as Yellow (Ryouma in Prince Of Tennis), Mutsumi Tamura as Morganite (Sonya in Kill Me Baby), Romi Paku as Padparadscha (Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist) and Yuko Sanpei as Aculeatus (Sasha in Seikon No Qwaser).

Personally, I find the opening theme, Kyoumen No Nami by Yurika to be a little weird. Maybe it is the little effects of the song. Plus, when you have the animation in CGI style, all those gemstones floating about in the screen sometimes it feels a bit trippy. The kaleidoscope of gems… But it is not as weird as the ending theme, Kirameku Hamabe by Yuiko Oohara. Is it me or does the singer is singing in such a way that makes the song sound flat? Also, it sounds like she is trying to hold her note a little longer than it should, hence it sounds like she is trying to sing her lines without resting and in a continuous seamless manner. I don’t know, I just feel that way. The special ending for episode 8, Liquescimus by Tomoyo Kurosawa is quite a sad piece as it is very fitting for the demise of Antarcticite. There is one BGM that attracted my attention and also ‘scares’ me a little. The one that uses the traditional Chinese string instrument like the erhu. It is calming and different to hear a piece that is Chinese-like but at the time sending a little shiver down my spine because this is the kind of song back in my younger days I heard watching some sad Chinese period soap drama.

Overall, this series is visually beautiful and stylish in terms of CGI. The plot and story might not be sufficient for this season and some might feel it leaves a lot more to be desired. Like yours truly. Perhaps the slow and careful build-up of the characters and outline this season might leave some unsatisfied and some yearning for another season. But I suppose it is better than rushing and squeezing everything into a dozen episodes and ruin the overall sentiments. After all, if you want to do this series, better do it right from the start. I believe the cost in using CGI for this series must be costing an arm and a leg. Figuratively speaking. They’ve put in so much effort to make this series so it would be a blow if it was severely underrated. I mean, people love shiny things, right? Like gamers love that pseudo-gambling loot boxes thingy, right? Guys love their shiny new sports car, right? The age-old idiom of diamonds are a girl’s best friend still rings true, right? After all, do you not see how happy a woman’s face lights up when you give her something shiny like a diamond ring? Oh wait. Somebody has to fork out the money… Sometimes all that glitter is not gold…

Ousama Game

March 3, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Owarimonogatari S2

January 19, 2018

The end is finally here. After 7 years of animating every story and chapter in the Monogatari series (more than 10 years if you want to count the start of the light novel), we have finally reached the final part in Owarimonogatari S2. The ultimate showdown with the mysterious antagonist and entity known as Ougi is what I believe is this finale will be about or at least most focused on. And some other stuffs too. Isn’t that why they split this final season into 3 arcs with 7 episodes? I just hope that I can understand the important stuffs in this long running and long winded and convoluted story. I’ve come so far so it better be! Or it will be the end of me.

Mayoi Hell

Episode 1
Taking off from right where the final episode of Koyomimonogatari ended, Araragi is so glad to see Hachikuji that he molests her! He feels her! He licks her! Time for her counterattack to bite him. Araragi explains all the things that has happened since the last time they parted. She corrects him that this isn’t the shrine he was killed at or the park they first met. He is in the lowest level of hell! His sin is saving a demon. So it’s not the case of her appearing before him but him appearing before her. Though he is in shock, what is more shocking is that means Hachikuji is in hell too?! Not sure about kids going to hell if they die before their parents. She was piling stones at the banks of hell but someone who supposedly knows everything told her he is coming. Hence she was able to make her way here to pick him up. Hachikuji is going to bring him to that person so they could resurrect him. Along the way, they go through several important decision points of what-ifs over the series had Araragi chose differently. Like had he not saved Shinobu then or becoming friends with Hanekawa or saving Senjougahara from that fall. Because for that last one had he not, Kaiki would then soon return to town and Senjougahara could have gone back to him. Then there is something about Yotsugi being Hachikuji’s successor. This prompts Araragi to note about balance as he once had a debate with his sisters about one trying to correct mistakes is different than doing the right thing. After all this talk, Araragi realized that the person he wanted to talk most about is Ougi and finds it strange her name didn’t cross her mind all the while. They have finally reached their destination. A shrine. The person who told Hachikuji of Araragi’s arrival: Tadatsuru.

Episode 2
Refresh your memories that this guy was killed by Yotsugi in Tsukimonogatari. He claims being killed by her was all part of a bigger plan. A plan to fall into hell ahead of time and to prepare resurrecting Araragi. Tadatsuru further reveals his true self died a long time ago and the one Yotsugi killed was a puppet he controlled. Nobody else knows this except Gaen and Oshino. He has this skill to create dolls and after creating the one called Yotsugi, he parted ways with them. But Gaen kept pressuring him so he hastily tried to come up with a forbidden technique. A doll named Tadatsuru. But he failed and this is where he ended up. Despite so, he continued to ‘live’ through his dolls. He faked his own death because last month he received a request to solve the anomalies happening in town. Araragi and Shinobu are part of the targets. However in Gaen’s network, they were considered harmless. Request or not, Tadatsuru had to make them his target and hence pulled off that kidnapping act. Had he not done so, he wondered if he could have escaped unscathed. He heard from someone else that was the middleman between him and Gaen: Oshino. He contacted him and made him feel like a free man. At that point, he realized his identity as a doll was known and it was probably a threat to make him do his bidding in which otherwise his real identity will be exposed. He argued as long as the duo are left alone, nothing will happen. That is, until a special case like when they collude among themselves and Araragi continues to turn himself into a vampire. If such events were to happen, he would receive a request to hunt down vampires. He was told to forget his past grudges and seek contact with Gaen as she cannot move and must hold her position. But in reality, things went exactly like he thought it would. So when the request to exterminate them came, it scared him. He also found it strange that Oshino didn’t want to do this on his own if it concerned him so much. He thought of playing along with his game.

A thread drops down from the sky. It is Araragi’s ticket back to the real world. Miss this and he will forever be stuck suffering in hell. Araragi continues to ask if he could have just turned down the request. Tadatsuru wanted to do this to find out their intent as well as this was a necessary measure to stop Araragi’s progression into a vampire. His role as the bad guy made him fit for this job. Araragi seems to be stalling his resurrection as he spams more questions. Like the shrine and park he was supposed to be. Tadatsuru explains that park was previously the name of that shrine and over the years due to corruption and misspelling, it became named so. Since Araragi feels guilty to be resurrected, Hachikuji punches him. He can say all that because he hasn’t experience true hardships yet. Still, he feels there are many more deserving to be resurrected and with him getting this, it is as though he is cutting the queue. Hachikuji without a doubt believes he has all the right and should be the first in line. Yeah, after naming all the parts of girls he loves, if he isn’t alive, he can’t cherish girls at all! Not quite exactly what she intended but that’ll do. After all, he was someone who loves being alive and has come back from the brink of death, narrowly escaping them many times. As Araragi gets pulled up, he can’t stand the fact Hachikuji will be left behind to continue piling stones in hell. It is like he shoved her aside to be resurrected. He can’t stand the fact to be parted with her again so he grabs her along as the thread is pulled up. Tadatsuru lets him know one last thing. The enemy who requested Araragi to be exterminated is Ougi. Gaen welcomes him back and even more so bringing Hachikuji along. With Shinobu ready to pounce on her throat, she backs down since Araragi is back and there is no need for needless killings. Araragi knows that in all cases, this will be bad as he wonders if Hachikuji fulfilled the conditions for the darkness to be triggered. With Araragi’s miracle, Gaen thanks him they have a slight advantage because the lost girl pawn is what she needs. For now, he has to go take his entrance exam. He can still make it. Everything will be settled before graduation and with White Day tomorrow, it is perfect timing to end the story of this town where a white snake once reigned.

Hitagi Rendezvous

Episode 3
Araragi narrates his love for Senjougahara. Then she makes a surprise by breaking out of her character and proposes to date tomorrow. And since they haven’t been with each other for so long, let’s cram 6 months’ worth of it into that date. But taking up the whole day is impossible as by evening she needs to be back for the main event which is to have dinner with her father. Back home, Araragi talks to Yotsugi about this and she’s like hinting she wants to tag along. He asks about Tadatsuru since he sent his regards to her but she doesn’t really care. There is this discussion about Kagenui not returning. What will happen to Yotsugi? In that case, she will forever follow Araragi. Yotsugi suddenly plays dead when Tsukihi barges in to take her doll back, accusing Araragi for taking it without her permission. She can tell he will be going out on a date with Senjougahara tomorrow but don’t worry about her, she has become best friends with Sengoku and plans to hang out with her. When Araragi goes to Senjougahara’s place, it isn’t only her Hanekawa hairstyle that surprises him but she has a driver’s licence! While he was studying for his exam, she too was studying and taking a different kind of exam. She will drive him to their place of date, the planetarium. More surprises in store for him as she mentions Hanekawa contacted her and has found Oshino’s hiding place. Or at least she narrowed it down to 2 possible places. But since Senjougahara wasn’t interested she didn’t listen properly. Senjougahara also reveals she consulted with her about today’s date and such. Araragi learns that Senjougahara’s dream is to learn astronomy. She has been fascinated with the universe and the stars for some time. Especially the space map that isn’t your ordinary 2D world map. It is in the shape of an ougi (hand fan). Araragi didn’t react to that word.

Episode 4
Since mentioning that name, I guess here pops up Ougi. This is definitely Araragi’s dream as pointed out. Ougi points out the Hydra constellation being the biggest among the 88 and how it reminds her of Shinobu because of its immortality. There is also another snake constellation, Serpens that isn’t part of Hydra but also has something to do with immortality. It is also the only constellation that is split up into the western and eastern parts. Despite being ‘split up’, in the middle there is this snake charmer, Ophiuchus dubbed Asklepios the sage magician. His medical skills were so remarkable, he was able to bring the dead back to life. And that itself is a sin and against all rules as he was struck down. Yotsugi is one of those resurrected and all parties that resurrected her (Tadatsuru, Kagenui, Oshino and Kaiki) will have to pay a price and had curses placed on their bodies. Hence, the question is what kind of penalty Gaen will pay for reviving Araragi from hell. Then she talks about the difficulty in doing the right thing since there are also attachments along with it, right or wrong. As long as you are right, you shouldn’t be doing the right thing. And if a mistake always comes when you try to do the right thing, everything balances out to zero. Thus Kagenui and the Fire Sisters’ brand of justice isn’t doing the right thing but correct mistakes and injustice. Ougi also considers herself as that type and it is her role to eject those who have broken the rules. As it is time to wake up, she hopes he will make the right decision. He asks her true identity but she can’t say much now except that she is the principles of the universe. The good news is that she doesn’t have to be concerned with him anymore so long he doesn’t do what Gaen tells him to. With Shinobu in her complete form and Hachikuji lost in this world after resting in peace, she really hopes he will make the right decision to forsake them.

Araragi wakes up with Senjougahara lying next to him. It must be a tiring day at the planetarium. But they continue their date doing various things. Including a bowling and karaoke contest in which she suggests a penalty game whereby the loser must swear absolute obedience to the winner. In both instances, Araragi won. I don’t think he’ll be making any lewd requests as she is hoping. But she did make him carry her like a princess all the way back to the car. Then stopping by the seaside, she then talks how ‘disappointed’ she was. As today is White Day, she had been hoping perhaps he was planning some sort of secret surprise for her. Nothing. Sorry. I guess he is forced to pledge his absolute obedience to her for life to stop her from killing herself. So the first thing she wants him to do? Call her by her first name. Araragi realizes maybe that is why she set up the penalty game. If not for opportunities like these, it would have been something he would have never been able to say. He calls her by her name with ease and so does she. When Araragi reaches home, Ougi is waiting at his gates. She was being ‘considerate’ not to interfere with his last date. He corrects her. His last date in high school. When he tries to ask why she wanted him exterminated, she brushes it off as false accusation. There is no way she would hurt him. So what about his decision? Without a doubt he will not forsake Shinobu and Hachikuji. He isn’t sure if it is the right path but it is one he must take. Ougi is ‘disappointed’ he hurried in his decision. She would like him to voluntarily withdraw but that will be going over her boundaries. She corrects his understanding of her: She is not the darkness. Ougi lets him know that she has one regret in spite of all that is to happen. She has to do it even if she has to put everything else aside. She must fall into Gaen’s trap. She pleads to Araragi to help fight on her side.

Ougi Dark

Episode 5
All the players are at the park. Gaen, Shinobu, Hachikuji and Yotsugi. All getting ready… To play baseball? With Shinobu in her true completed adult form, she ‘bullies’ Yotsugi with her might for all the insult she has thrown all this time. After Araragi returns the talisman to Gaen, she reminds they must exterminate Ougi who is the main enemy tonight. Will she show up? She has to. Otherwise she will not be Ougi and there will be no more other chances. But first, Gaen narrates a little history of the shrine. 400 years ago when Shinobu visited Japan and crashed into the sacred lake, it was more like a blessing as she ‘took over’ and became the new local god. Previously the gods that were worshiped at the lake took the form of a water snake as well as the mountain snake for the minority faith. Gaen’s initial plan was to enshrine Shinobu as the god of the shrine. Before she continues, she wants to hear Araragi’s stance since she brought him to pull off a miracle but a disaster could also happen. He would like to do something for Hachikuji and Shinobu especially the former who might be swallowed up by the darkness at this rate. Of course he is also worried about others around him. Gaen notes since he isn’t concerned of his own safety, they can come to an agreement. As for Shinobu’s stance, if could really desire it, it is to return to her young girl form.

Now Gaen goes into the minimum requirements needed to meet all their objectives as well as exterminate Ougi. As said, previously Gaen wanted to enshrine Shinobu as a new god but now Hachikuji is a better fit. I mean, for one to go to hell and come back, that has got to be legendary, right? Otherwise, the other options are she goes back to hell again or she gets swallowed up by the darkness. But can a snail replace a snake? Heard of a 3 way stand-off? A stand-off between a snake, frog and slug. Araragi finds the slug familiar as he remembers the fake apparition Kaiki used on Sengoku. A slug is closely related to the snail. All Hachikuji needs is to swallow the talisman to become god but if Araragi doesn’t want her to become so, it’s his call. This has him prompt to ask maybe they have mistaken Ougi as the darkness. Gaen says she already knows. What gave him the impression she was one? Perhaps it was the way she talks and acts that over time he came to that conclusion. Gaen explains although Ougi isn’t the darkness, she plays its same role. So if they leave Hachikuji as she is, the darkness might reappear in town. But if Hachikuji becomes god, Ougi might play that darkness role and attack her. That is why they must exterminate Ougi or the story will not end. Araragi doesn’t appreciate she keeps using the word extermination, like as though Ougi is an apparition. Well, she’s got news for you, buddy. Ougi is indeed a normal apparition!

Episode 6
When asked on what basis she called Ougi an apparition, she asks back on what basis he calls her Ougi. Just because she called herself so, he believed her. It is true that her relation to Oshino is a lie and the reason she derived that name is a little complicated. So what is she? Right now, an unknown. Gaen’s initial plan is to slay her with the demon sword she created, Kokoro Watari AKA Apparition Killer. As a specialist, she can use a standard approach to exterminate Ougi. Does she mean she predicted Ougi’s appearance? Not quite. But she had seen something familiar. Though, it was her older sister, Tooe who is Kanbaru’s mom who experienced it first-hand. Her personality somewhat reminds her of Araragi. So she wants him to be the one to do the job. He must disclose Ougi’s true identity to cause it to collapse. Apparitions who lie about themselves get swallowed by the darkness especially Ougi who is playing the darkness role, the punishment will be most severe. Araragi agrees to not save Ougi but on one condition she tells him her true identity.

Meanwhile we take a detour to see Tsukihi helping Sengoku with her manga. After she’s done, she leaves but waiting at the doorsteps is Ougi who offers to give her a ride home. They talk on several things like Tsukihi being satisfied living in the present. This has Ougi noting that she is dependent on others as her family is keeping her family alive. Otherwise she would have died during summer break. Tsukihi notices she is going the wrong way so they stop to check for directions. They are at the abandoned cram school so they check it out. Ougi talks about the suspense in mysterious novels and when the mystery is known, everything is no longer fun. She wishes things in reality were like this. But Tsukihi has a different approach. She thinks it is more dangerous when the culprit is discovered. Because the real story only begins when you know who they really are. Knowing the true identity may not be correct as there might be a bigger twist. Ougi is enlightened that true identity may be seen as right body. Ougi mentions her true identity is unsightly. Ougi has unfinished business so she has Tsukihi take her bicycle to go home. Because now she meets Araragi who is waiting for her. He wants to know what they were talking. Well, she didn’t get to finish her job at talking. Knowing Tsukihi as a phoenix is beyond what she can handle. A monster can be exterminated once its true identity is disclose but not Tsukihi because she has the eternal love of her brother. But she knows she herself will get exterminated once Araragi discloses her true identity. She hints she has been pleading for her life by asking him to side her. But it looks like Araragi has chosen not to. Ougi notes that is the right decision. Even so, she wanted him to decline that. It is then Araragi discloses Ougi’s true identity: Ougi is himself!

Episode 7
Gaen explained the apparition called Ougi created by Araragi. It was how Tooe created an apparition called Rainy Devil. You could say Ougi is Araragi’s desire to criticize himself. It was last August when he learnt the meaning of darkness and what is wrong is wrong. Then there is some incident with Shinobu and Kanbaru that I didn’t understand or have forgotten. But mostly can’t understand. It is Oshino from Shinobu’s name that Ougi originates from. The argument of Araragi creating an apparition to attack himself stems from the guilt from helping all the other girls. Like when he helped Shinobu first, he wanted to face the consequences. When he became friends with Hanekawa, he worries if he is worthy if he could live up to her feelings. Like when he helped Senjougahara, he ended up dating her and wondered if he was taking advantage of her weakness. It is all because if it was unfair to use his immortality powers freely. That portion of his mind manifested itself entirely in the form of Ougi. Ougi still has some things left undone like Tsukihi. That is why Gaen used her as a lure. She might have no evidence and only speculating but Araragi knows himself better than anyone else. That is why it must be him who discloses Ougi’s true identity. It is a battle among himself. End it with his own hands. After all, killing himself for the sake of others is something he does every day.

With this revelation, a black hole appears to suck in Ougi. Araragi is shocked that Ougi knew this would happen and yet she came. There are some fights you have to fight even if you know you’re going to lose. At least she was able to make his youth right. In that case, he doesn’t want what is right. They note some of the cases they were right or wrong. And since Ougi will be disappearing, it shows Araragi was the one who is right. It might not be the end of his life or the world but perhaps the end of one of his many stories. As they say farewell to each other, suddenly Araragi has a change in heart. He saves her from being devoured by the darkness at the expense of losing his entire right arm! Remember, he is no longer an immortal but a normal human. Ougi is shocked he would do such a thing even for a person who brought nothing but misery to him. This makes him the worst person ever. But Araragi corrects her. He saved himself. Because all the girls saved him. What is the point if everyone saved him and he didn’t save himself? So they’re going to die together? Until Oshino pops up! In the flesh! And here comes Hanekawa running in, collapsing while trying to catch her breath. Ougi is shocked that she really brought Oshino back from Antarctica. The moment Oshino acknowledges Ougi is her niece, the black hole disappears. This signifies Ougi’s existence as herself. With that, Araragi’s youth comes to an end.

In the epilogue, before Araragi leaves for his graduation, he talks to Karen about what she finds justice to mean. Helping others. He advises her to start helping herself too. I am guessing he doesn’t want another apparition to pop up because of that. A lesson well learnt? On his way, he meets Hachikuji who has now become a god. He teases nobody is going to visit her and the town will be left godless. Well, there is always him. He can visit her shrine, her home any time. Previously, Gaen talks to Shinobu as she heals Araragi’s arm about wanting to be sealed again in Araragi’s shadow. Her reason is that she is tired of fighting and wants to be harmless. Originally she planned to retreat to the mountains and live a secluded life after healing his arm. But seeing Araragi declined to turn back into a vampire, it is only right she declines her own desires. And also, there are no doughnut shops in the mountains. At school, Araragi talks to Hanekawa. She has no time as she will be leaving soon. It seems in order to bring back Oshino, she sold off a bit of her brains! Don’t worry, they’re a good institute so she needs to chase them to get it back. They deduce if Oshino was in Antarctica, Kagenui must be in North Pole. Yotsugi wanted to go there but Kagenui declined so she’ll continue to live in his house. Oshino and Gaen has again left. Hanekawa teases the good vibe between Araragi and Senjougahara. Walking upstairs, a troubled girl zooms pass them. Hanekawa and Senjougahara tell him to do what he needs. Looks like he is willing to skip his own graduation ceremony to help this random strange. Maybe he’ll let the girls pick up his diploma for him. He passes Ougi along the way as she notes he hasn’t change. On the contrary, he says he is but no matter how much he changes, he will still be him.

The Be-All And End-All Of The End
Well, guess what? It isn’t entirely the end of the end yet. There are more stories that came out after this but those are like additional side stories. As far as this one is concerned, the main story has ended. So far, nothing has been said yet about adapting those works but what are the chances that SHAFT will adapt them seeing they have adapted all of the arcs of the main story so I guess that if they ever run out of new projects in the future, I have a hunch they can fall back on this one. Like they say, the end of a story only heralds the beginning of a new one. Yeah, and some people say they can’t let this series end and rest in peace. How could they? Not when you have a cult following.

So let’s get back to my thoughts on this finale season and the series overall. As usual, not to say that I have understood everything completely and entirely but well, I guess it was good enough to not leave me with unanswered questions. Heck, more accurately I have mostly forgotten about the previous stories and seasons so I can’t really recall. Can’t be confused if you can’t remember a single thing about it. So the biggest twist in revealing the true identity of Ougi didn’t blow my mind away but at the same time I was a bit surprised. It was the biggest moment that I have been waiting for ever since Ougi appeared. Because of all the confusing stories and plots, it is mostly why I never could have guessed she was Araragi’s apparition. Hardcore fans may have picked up clues along the way and guessed it but I was busy having my brains thinking about the story so I didn’t bother about thinking Ougi’s identity. When I think back a little, it does make sense why Ougi is Araragi. Like especially when she often claims she doesn’t know anything but it is him who does. That should have been the biggest hint.

To say that the final season was a long winded story to end it all is not exactly entirely accurate either. Because you know how fast everything could have ended without all the long winded story telling in between. I suppose that is the main charm of this series. Despite being confusing at times, the way it is executed and told are interesting in its own way. That is why they were able to drag out stories into many episodes and spanning many arcs (also to confuse simpletons like me). Imagine if all the other arcs in the Monogatari Series had not been this long but just a few minutes, I don’t think that would have quite cut it. That is why the Monogatari Series is named so. It is the way they tell the stories. Like I’ve said, it is still overall confusing but I consider it to be done in a good way. I mean, being confused and interested are 2 completely different things. Despite my confusion in trying to piece together the pieces, I was not bored and kept watching. That says a lot. Kudos to the series and those who wrote and produced it.

In view of all that, sometimes I feel if the ending of this season and the overall could be somewhat unfashionable. Actually I am myself to blame for expecting some sort of epic fight and showdown with Ougi. Yes, I actually expected there would be some sort of battle! I mean, when you have Gaen and Shinobu gathered in your ranks, it looks more like a mini army ready to take on the last boss, right? After all, expect the unexpected. That’s me trying to sound smart and look like I’ve learnt something from following this series but failed. But no showdown in the form of fist fighting, sword swinging or spell casting. Staying true to its roots, all we see, or rather hear, are just words and dialogues. Like they say, some battles can be won without lifting actual weapons. And just like that, the big story comes to a close. I suppose it tried to give us a good ending as well because we presumed Ougi had been a villain but she wasn’t and is just a dark side of Araragi. So a good ending has to be given to her as she now exists as a separate entity on her own. It also gives closure to Oshino’s whereabouts (as well as Kagenui’s), otherwise we will be forever wondering where the hell that guy has been and further speculate if he is a ghost or just a figment of imagination in Araragi’s mind. Even if his appearance was just bloody short, he played an important role to help end this particular story.

So you can say that the entire story was about Araragi fighting against himself and it is quite true if you piece together all that has happened. Each time he helped a girl in trouble, you could see there is some sort of guilt forming after that. It would have been even worse had he not helped them because a more terrifying apparition could have formed from the guilt of turning a blind eye. It’s like he is in a catch-22 situation, damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. So while he deeply cares for all those around him, it is a bit odd that he questions himself if he has the right or worth to do all that. I wonder if this is the extreme case of being humble. Imagine all the trouble that has happened in town just because of one guy’s guilt. I know life generally isn’t a bed of roses but this is taking it to the extreme.

But thankfully it all turned out right for him and the girls as we can see. Senjougahara is his lovely girlfriend (not a crazy tsundere and yandere type), Hanekawa is still his friend, Kanbaru is still his respectable (but pervy) senior, Sengoku doing fine with her manga (no longer a crazy yandere if you remember and a scam victim), Kaiki is dead (no more scamming others but I don’t see him anywhere in hell), Hachikuji perhaps won the biggest share of the lottery as she is now a god, Yotsugi is pretty much harmless staying his place, Shinobu is still loyal to him and pretty much harmless staying in his shadow, and finally his sisters are doing fine at their own pace and continued to be loved by him. Not forgetting Ougi is now her own existence herself. Things cannot get better than this, right? I guess it is pretty much a good ending after all that has happened. Well, I was just thinking why Ougi still looks as creepy like as though she popped up from some horror novel. Couldn’t they at least ‘normalize’ how she looks? Nah. Maybe not.

In the end, this series has been one very compelling tale. It is filled with lots of curious and interesting things but at the same time a very confusing and long winded one. For those who weren’t taken in by the storytelling, at least creative and unique art and visual styles are certainly there to catch your eye. Don’t blink or you might miss something funny or creative. There are also the good voice acting as well as the many different variety of theme songs, some of which are quite catchy and were my personal favourite (Staple Stable, Kimi No Shiranai Monogatari, Platinum Disco and Renai Circulation to name a few) but others didn’t really attracted me. With this, another long story chapter has come to an end. It felt really hard to say goodbye and suddenly it prompted me to remember another similar series made by SHAFT that had ended a long, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. Oh man. Still remember that one? I suppose whether we like it or not, stories need to end and find a closure otherwise a new one cannot begin. Unless you prefer to eternally watch reruns. I wonder what kind of apparition would form from that…

Koyomimonogatari

November 10, 2017

Oh dear. I have forgotten about this. Initially I thought Koyomimonogatari would be some sort of a recap series. I didn’t even know how I ended up coming to that conclusion seeing I had no information or done any research whatsoever. Perhaps it was the synopsis that is about Araragi who goes around helping his female characters and solve their problems at hand. You know, their oddity problems that we have seen throughout the Monogatari Series? Of course I realized I was wrong. Had not the second season of Owarimonogatari series came out, I would never have remembered to watch this. Besides, each episode is only 12 minutes long. A departure from the standard half hour episodes of its prequels.

Episode 1: Stone
Hanekawa talks to Araragi about a stone statue in school that could be the school’s ghost story. The thing is, the stone was there all the while and not the altar. Over these 2 years, it’s like somebody turned this stone into an altar and something like something to be worshipped. Could it be an oddity? So Araragi talks to Oshino about this and the question is not whether it is an oddity because it is being worshipped but rather it’s being worshipped because it is an oddity. Araragi is confused since they mean the same to him. So as Oshino has him draw the shrine for him, Araragi mentions it looked familiar but can’t put his finger on it. Oshino tells him to ignore all ghost stories at the moment and try looking into the school’s curriculum. Araragi goes back to talk to Hanekawa for more explanation. She mentions a few art clubs in school and one of them being woodwork. Apparently a student created a little house but it was deemed a failure after something went awry. Instead of bringing it home to only be thrown away, he decided to sneak it in to the school’s garbage. Speaking of which, it is near that altar. Hence that house became the stone’s altar. Because of that, the house and stone complement each other. The house became a shrine and the stone became a worshipped object. Hanekawa is relieved and thanks Araragi for it. It seems Araragi is that student who made the house and put it there. Immediately he properly throws away the house. He thought his thoughtless actions turned this stone into an oddity. Perhaps it turned from a normal stone into the stone statue he needed and from there into an oddity. Then he realizes something amiss. The stone is actually just a piece of concrete.

Episode 2: Flower
While walking on the streets together, Senjougahara spots a bouquet of flowers on the roadside, an indication an accident had took place. However she saw the same bouquet on the school’s rooftop. The funny thing is, throughout its history, there has been no deaths whatsoever. Talking to Oshino about this, from what I understand that such places where high accidents and deaths occurred could be due to geographical and location reasons instead of the supernatural. While no deaths may have occurred at school and it might look like the bouquet is like a curse asking for future accidents to happen, could it not be the opposite? Araragi thinks about this and tells his conclusion to Senjougahara. It is some sort of control or protective charm to prevent accidents. When people go up and see it, they would think that some sort of accident occurred and would be careful. Hence, something like a warning. Also, they misunderstood the whole thing. If something had actually died, the flowers would be placed on the ground instead on the rooftop. Because Araragi dangerously climbed to the rooftop to ascertain the bouquet as per instructed by Senjougahara, the school has taken drastic safety measures. They’re really spending to establish a new fence. He hopes the school would never find out as in addition to his expulsion, they might link it to Senjougahara who suggested it. So instead of making this a secret between them, she wants them to forget about it.

Episode 3: Sand
Araragi stumbles into Hachikuji in the streets. He tells her Oshino has left town and they talk about Araragi’s debts. He claims he has cleared them all or at least returns the money he borrows. Hachikuji decides to sell him a ghost story for 50 Yen. So cheap? Well, that is all that story is worth. She tells him a sandbox at the playground has a face of a demon. No matter how you mix it up, it will eventually return to that demon face. Could it be the work of an oddity or human? So he goes to investigate it. The demon face is there as he messes about with the sand. Nothing happens so he goes home. He then gets a follow up call from Hanekawa who just got a report from stalker Senjougahara on what he was doing. She is ‘mad’ at him for not following this up thoroughly. There is a third option on what causes this: Natural phenomenon. Not just wind or rain. So Araragi goes back and digs the entire sandbox and he finds a fissure at the bottom. This crack is what made the demon face and the reason why Hanekawa was ‘angry’ was because of the danger if the crack gets bigger and kids continue to play in it. Time to alert the park’s manager. He notes the scariest isn’t oddity or human but nature. Because it is both as scary as the oddity and human.

Episode 4: Water
After cleaning Kanbaru’s messy room, Araragi takes a bath. She teases him about some erotic stuffs but then tells him a mysterious story as it isn’t so much of an oddity story. The bath he is in, apparently when his father was young, he would see the face of his fated one in the water’s reflection. Back home, Senjougahara calls him and her first words are for him to die for being at Kanbaru’s house. But since he says how much he loves her and all that, she rescinds her death sentence. Telling her what Kanbaru said, Senjougahara comes up with her interpretation. As the surface of the water reflects but not as perfect as a mirror, it could be possible that Kanbaru’s dad mistakenly saw a reflection of himself as a woman. Of course when he grows up and he becomes more aware, that reflection stopped showing up. So it is when he met his wife he remembered about this. Hence in romance, you tend to look for someone who resembles you. To summarize, if Kanbaru’s dad’s explanation was right, Kanbaru would have seen her fated partner. If Senjougahara’s explanation was right, then the image could be her mom. He calls Kanbaru to ask what she says. Her boobs. And she is excitedly explaining how it always thrills her. Hang up…

Episode 5: Wind
Sengoku is at Araragi’s place to party. It’s just the 2 of them… As this takes place in the aftermath of Sengoku being conned, they talk about how rumours spread. Because from what she heard it wasn’t from the conman himself but rather the wind. You mean in that literal sense? They further discuss if you want to spread rumour, it is faster to let someone do it because if you leave it on its own, won’t that just be a coincidence? So Araragi goes to talk to Kaiki about this. He confirms he doesn’t have any wind power or that sort. In fact, it is not the wind but a windless condition that is important for rumours to spread. When something is popular, something else isn’t. A conman targets not the wealthy but those who are dissatisfied. Those whose hearts are in disarray and nothing to rely on are easy targets. That is why he came to this town to prey on school girls. However it is not because his conned them into buying into his charms and caused deterioration in human relations. But rather they feel their human relations have deteriorated and jumped into buying his charms. Now that Kaiki has let him know his trade secret, he wants a fee for it. Did he just get conned?

Episode 6: Tree
After rubbing her boobs on her brother’s head, Karen takes this as a chance that he must listen to what she says. It’s so nice being a woman… At first he isn’t interested but with her fierce personality showing up, he’d better. It seems that there is a tree that popped up behind her dojo. The funny thing is, nobody noticed it until recently and because of that, they feel it is something ominous and want to chop it down. Of course Karen is against this but she has no power to overturn this decision. So Araragi sees the tree and assures he will help Karen solve it. And by that he means begging to Hanekawa for help! Pushing his responsibilities, eh? He will allow her to do anything with her own boobs! WTF?! Hanekawa likens this panic to pandemic-like level. There is one way to solve this. In the end, the tree is not cut down because Karen told everybody that tree is the same wood that made this dojo. So when you consider a pandemic spreading, it will spread until it cannot spread anymore. So what they did was shift the goal post. The next step of fear is reverence. Now that everybody thinks the wood is what made the sacred dojo, nobody will be foolish enough to cut it down. They feel bad it is a lie because in actual fact there is no way that tree’s wood is the same as the dojo’s. Because of that, there is a possibility they might create an oddity out of it. An oddity that watches over those undergoing training.

Episode 7: Tea
Tsukihi tells Araragi that there is a ghost in her tea ceremony club however there is no evidence of it. Well, duh… If no evidence, no ghost! If you want Tsukihi to stab your eye with her pen then you better give her a better answer. You see, her club has only 7 members and everyone insists that there is this ‘eighth member’. They laugh at her for saying it is a ghost so she fells insulted that they believe the ghost more than her. It all goes back to her asking him if he believes in ghosts. He doesn’t. He believes her club members are wrong. She should stay the way she is and stay true to her own correctness. Tsukihi accepts but she doesn’t look satisfied. Later Araragi talks to Kanbaru about it. She wants to help Tsukihi because they deal with oddities so they understand what it’s like. After all, Tsukihi who is trying to deny oddities is sacrificing herself for reality. There is a way to satiate her although it involves deceiving her. So Araragi tells Tsukihi that everyone believed in the ‘eighth member’ for Tsukihi’s sake. As Tsukihi often takes the club’s inventory as she pleases and so as not to make this a big fuss where they will get club activities suspended, hence they hypothesized and ‘eighth person’ to account for the shortfall in inventory. Tsukihi immediately buys it and is satisfied that it was her selfish attitude that was the ghost. She’ll let herself fall for it. After Araragi tells Kanbaru about this, she wonders whom Tsukihi let herself being deceived by. Is it Araragi or her club members?

Episode 8: Mountain
Ougi and Araragi are trekking up the stairs to a shrine on a mountain. It is believed the shrine built there was a mistake and Ougi wants to fix the problem of its balance. This is the shrine that Araragi and Shinobu were last summer and they tore up the place. Ougi talks about snakes being gods as well as their nature and what it represents. Also, this shrine used to be in a different location but it was transferred to this place. However the issue is how the people relocated the shrine here with minimal construction since the steps to this place did not exist before. Also, no supernatural powers were used. Just normal humans. It was the ‘moving’ that was very annoying. Back at his home, Araragi tells this to Sengoku and she is able to deduce the answer right away. The spot where the shrine was built, they cut down the trees there and used the wood to make the shrine. That way, they didn’t need to carry heavy lumber up the mountain. Wait. Wasn’t the shrine relocated? What ‘moving’ meant was the bodies of worship. Basically it’s like shifting to a new building and keeping its original name. They ponder if the shrine would be rebuilt again. Araragi doesn’t think a new faith will be born then but rather it will continue. Sengoku maintains optimistic if it is rebuilt, it would stop being a place for bad things to gather and the snake god would return to it.

Episode 9: Torus
Shinobu is delighted there are doughnuts for her to eat. However, they look different from the ones she usually gets from the store. Well, these are handmade by Senjougahara for Araragi is motivation for him to study for his exams. Shinobu then asks weird questions like the doughnut’s hole. Not really trusting it, Shinobu eats one to test for poisoning. Tastes good. However she thinks it has delayed effect and wants to experiment on the rest. At this point, Araragi believes it is her ploy to eat all his doughnuts. Hand it back or else. Then it turns into some talk about negotiations and secrets. Hence a game is suggested. She will hide the doughnuts somewhere in his room for 5 minutes and he has that same time to find them. He can it the doughnuts he finds and those he could not will belong to Shinobu. Of course he is sceptical that she can eat all of them in that time span and he will never find them. Shinobu assures she will stick to her word. In the aftermath, Araragi calls Hanekawa and tells her about this. He found 3 of them but the last one was never found. He could only think Shinobu ate them. Hanekawa points out that the doughnuts were of different size. It could be that she hid the smaller one in the larger one and used the fillings as adhesive. After all, the evidence is now in his stomach. Why did Shinobu do this? Wasn’t her goal to eat the doughnuts? For her to abandon that goal and being selfless were the points she was trying to teach him: Love.

Episode 10: Seed
Yotsugi wants Araragi to help her find something or she’ll not stop harassing him. Fine. So what is it that she is looking for? Well, she’ll know when she sees it. So the reason she roped him is because he is comparatively taller than her and she might need to look at a view from a different perspective. However they are not going to piggyback ride one another. She makes him stand on her finger like as though she is hoisting a flag! Some chatter I don’t really get it as they walk around town looking. Yotsugi mentions something one is looking for but may lose sight of it when you start looking for it is a smile. In the end, they couldn’t find what she wanted. Araragi calls Hanekawa for answers. She asks him a question what is hardest to find. But his answer doesn’t matter. Then she asks what is easiest to find. Same thing. So what Yotsugi wanted to find was nothing. You can’t find something that doesn’t exist. This is linked to what is easiest to find and for that, something needs to stand out. Nothing stands out more than a person searching for something. So why was Yotsugi trying to make him stand out? Earlier in the year, there is a person in town he shouldn’t have met. Same thing for that person. So by making him stand out like that, people avoided him and hence Araragi avoided contact with Kaiki. Yotsugi didn’t want him to worry and nothing happened thanks to somebody’s consideration. Thus it is possible that the nonchalant consideration is the hardest thing to find of all.

Episode 11: Nothing
Araragi calls out Kagenui to fight but gets his ass handed to him! Apparently he wants her to train him but she notes he will die before he gets to learn anything. That is why she sent Yotsugi to his place. He feels uncool for girls protecting him. That’s why he can’t move carelessly and so do the girls. Araragi asks why Yotsugi always refers to Kagenui as her sister. She will not tell. However if he manages to land one shot on her, she would. So he goes back and seeks Karen’s help. He’ll fondle her boobs if she does. I mean would she rather let her boobs be fondled by someone she doesn’t like? Anyway, based on him being a useless person, the only right way is to run. She points out that he has been thinking on how to hit this person instead of whether or not his question will get answered. So it isn’t about him winning but how to lose gracefully. He should think about that himself but if Karen was in his shoes, she will try to think of a way that won’t make it so obvious. And so Araragi comes up with this dumb plan of getting a toy gun. After all, Kagenui did say one shot, right? Be it a punch or a bullet. He is expected to lose as he makes his way to face Kagenui. However he realizes she is gone.

Episode 12: Dead
Kagenui has been missing for a month but Araragi continues to visit the shrine every day. Also, ever since all oddities, rumours, gossips, ghost stories, urban legends, you name it, all has stopped. Like as though everything just died. One day Araragi sees Gaen before him. She tells him Kagenui has been defeated. Rather, she had been eliminated in order to render Yotsugi powerless since she is her master. There are 2 possibilities now. Either Yotsugi continues to serve him is an ineffective bodyguard-cum-doll or Yotsugi will wake up to her human side and protect him on her own free will. She then points out about Shinobu. Recently she has turned nocturnal, a sign that she is moving away from being an oddity and can’t protect him 24/7. Talking about shogi how if you try to protect all pieces you will lose as pieces except the king are needed to be sacrificed to win, since Araragi doesn’t consider himself as king, the problem is that this town has no king now. This means nobody wins or loses since there are no more rules. That is why many problems are happening. With that vacant spot, Araragi believed Kaiki was to fill it. Oshino could have filled it with his spiritual stability and Gaen by only her appearance. She entrusted this to Araragi but he failed. Putting Yotsugi close to him as a restraint also failed. Kagenui is missing, Kaiki isn’t showing up, Oshino’s whereabouts are unknown and the situation is at a dead end. Thus she has no choice but to act. So she is going to stop it by putting an end to Araragi’s actions. Araragi may not have intentions to act but without Yotsugi, he has that potential to act. Besides, he has his other side that is most likely to act. Either way, that potential for him to act makes it dangerous. But she has a solution. He must die. She cuts him down with the original Oddity Killer sword that was supposed to be eliminated a long time ago. Araragi wakes up in a strange place. Before him is Hachikuji who jokes that today’s punch line is about him failing to go take his exam and thus he failed.

Paranoid Story
Oh well. What a fine mess that Araragi has gone into. Since this is relatively a Monogatari Series, there are some parts which I don’t really understand. It is perhaps more ‘enjoyable’ for me compared to the other series is because it is short and each episode are not related to each other. Even the penultimate and final episodes are not technically related to one another. Each stories are standalones so if you don’t really see them in order, you won’t lose much. Of course if you haven’t seen the entire Monogatari Series, you’ll still be at a lost. I guess I’m the worst since I have been following it since Bakemonogatari and still can’t come to understand the deeper aspects. Although I did find out that each of the stories here are actually in chronological order throughout the Monogatari Series’ timeline and they do play important roles in the Owarimonogatari instalment. Too big of a gap for me to put the pieces together.

Now, the other aspect that makes it much different than the other entries in the Monogatari Series is that how each of the ‘problems’ are not supernatural or oddity based. While it might sound and look like one, the eventual answer (or punch line-cum-epilogue as narrated always by Araragi) has nothing to do with the supernatural but using common sense. In fact, some of the answers I could actually guess correctly and because of that I feel smart and proud! As though like it was trying to tell us that we might be just overthinking stuffs as the solution is just a simple one. Making us paranoid, huh? So perhaps this might be the point that either fans will love or hate. As Monogatari Series has been dealing with great supernatural and oddity stories all the while, to have an entry that has nothing to do with it feels like a slap in the face. On the other hand, this non-supernatural solution gives a fresh take and twist and easier for dumb people like me to understand and enjoy.

I would love to dub this series as Koyomi No Harem No Monogatari (Koyomi’s Harem Story) since each episode dedicates a ‘problem’ to a girl in his unofficial harem. You can tell which girl is featured from the opening credits animation (more about this later). Though, the some of the girls do appear more than once later in the epilogue punch line segment to help Araragi answer the question at hand. With that said, I noticed that there is a girl that hasn’t popped up. Remember Sodachi Oikura who made her debut in the first season of Owarimonogatari? Remember that childhood friend of Araragi? Not a single appearance of her. I guess this means she wasn’t meant to be part of his harem since at the end of her story, she transferred away to another school. Also, there was another girl, Rouka Numachi from the Hanamonogatari section but I suppose she was more involved with Kanbaru than Araragi so it’s understandable she isn’t in here. So these cute girls aren’t in his harem but Kagenui and Gaen are? Oh wait. Why am I assuming they are part of his harem?!

Speaking of the opening credits animation, they are nothing new as they are taken from the openings from previous instalments. Some of the catchier ones I remember vividly like Senjougahara’s Staple Stable, Sengoku’s Renai Circulation, Tsukihi’s Platinum Disco, Shinobu’s Mein Schatz and Yotsugi’s Orange Mint. There are no opening themes for Kagenui and Gaen since I suppose sh*t was going to get real. Ah, so I suppose they aren’t truly part of Araragi’s harem anyway. Wait. What the heck am I thinking? The only new song is the ending theme, Whiz by Trysail. Sounds like your typical genki anime pop. Just average and nothing extraordinary.

Overall, this series could be a hit or miss depending on how you like your Monogatari Series. It is somewhat like a light appetizer before the main dish that would see the end of the entire series. This little series entry did give me some motivation and hope that I will be able to enjoy the final instalment although in reality I doubt the opposite will be very much true. Unique or confusing, every story is up to each of us to interpret and come to our own conclusions. If only the solutions to the supernatural are as easy as this, the story itself would not have been so interesting in the first place. Araragi getting into all sorts of troubles and hence making the stories in all the series amazing and interesting, is that an oddity itself?

Gyakuten Saiban

February 11, 2017

After several video games, a handful of spinoffs, a live action movie and countless of parodies, Gyakuten Saiban (or better known as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney in the west) finally receives its anime adaptation. Albeit the 24 episode anime series is only adapting from the first 2 games of the series. So if you ever dream of ever becoming a lawyer but couldn’t just because your understanding of the law sucks, you can draw inspiration from this series to be one. Or at least satiate your obsession of watching courtroom dramas. Or maybe we just wanted an excuse to say “Igi ari!” (“Objection!”). Yeah, that felt good, doesn’t it?

Episode 1
A man kills a woman. In order not to be suspected, he plans to pin the blame on somebody. Ryuuichi Naruhodo is a rookie defence attorney and is about to make his first court case appearance after getting his badge 3 months ago. Chihiro Ayasato is his boss and wouldn’t miss his first case which is homicidal for the world. The suspect is Masashi Yahari who is Naruhodo’s best friend. Because the media accused and painted him as a killer, this was a reason why Naruhodo became an attorney. He knows he is a good man but has the worst luck. And worst attitude. Takefumi Auchi is the prosecutor as he presents evidence of 22 year old model, Mika Takabi in her apartment. She was killed by a blunt object which is a sculpture made by Yahari given to her as a gift. Naturally his fingerprints are all over it. It doesn’t help with Yahari acting like an uncivilized idiot and making it even more suspicious is the accusation Yahari may be jealous of Mika’s current boyfriend and killed her in a fit of rage. He was after all at her apartment on the day of her death. I wonder why the defence attorney didn’t speak on his behalf and let Yahari just rant his mouth like that. Auchi calls in an eyewitness who is no doubt that real killer, Hoshio Yamano. As a newspaper subscription seller, he accounts how he saw Yahari left the apartment before he stumbled upon the body. Naruhodo cross-examines him and holes in Yamano’s story surface when the difference in time contradicts his story. He said he found the body at 2pm when the autopsy report listed it as 4pm. There was no other way to tell the time since there was a temporarily blackout. The time is told from the sculpture since Yahari created an in-build clock inside that can tell the time once you turn the head. However Naruhodo’s cross-examining comes to a halt when he cannot prove if the clock was running slow on the day of the murder. He thought he has lost when Chihiro hints to him to think from a different perspective. Naruhodo comes back with proof from Mika’s passport that she recently returned from USA. That time difference was enough to indict Yamano as the culprit and free Yahari. The real story goes as Yamano is a thief who robs from his subscribers when they are out. At that time Mika had just came back and he took the sculpture and whacked her head. Yahari is grateful to Naruhodo. He gives the sculpture to Chihiro as gift. That murder weapon? He thought Mika never loved him but on the contrary they think she did because why bother bringing something bulky all the way overseas?

Episode 2
Chihiro invites Naruhodo to dinner at the office since her little sister, Mayoi will come visit her. When he comes at the appointed time, he finds the office in a mess and Chihiro’s body lying slumped against the wall. He sees Mayoi cowering in fear in a corner. Detective Keisuke Itonokogiri and his police force arrive. They see a blood written word that spells Mayoi’s name on the back of the receipt. He is convinced she is the culprit and arrests her. Next day, Naruhodo talks to her at prison. He learns she was visiting her sister because she wanted to show her the sculpture. Her odd outfit is because she is a spirit medium although just an apprentice. Her family has always been well known in the spirit arts especially the women. Of course since she is still a trainee, she can’t really contact her dead sister yet. She wants Naruhodo to contact her lawyer, Soraonsuke Hoshikage because Chihiro said to contact him if anything happens. Although Naruhodo wants to defend her, she doesn’t think he can because when she first saw how he looked at her at the murder scene, she was convinced he saw her as guilty. Naruhodo agrees to contact Hoshikage for her and that lawyer accepts the case since Chihiro was his student. Naruhodo returns to his office to find Mayoi’s dropped handphone. It has the conversation with Chihiro the other night. Itonokogiri thinks Naruhodo is Mayoi’s defence lawyer and wants him to give up. There is no chance for him to win since the prosecutor is Reiji Mitsurugi. He has never lost a case ever since becoming one at the young age of 20! After hearing the only witness, Shouchiku Umeyo is still living at the hotel opposite, Naruhodo sneaks in to find some clues and discovers a strange screwdriver, a cufflink and a wiretap. He gets a call from Hoshikage that he can’t take up the case anymore and can’t even refer to another defence lawyer. He knows he can’t give up on Mayoi because she is in the exact position as he was when he was young (kids finding him guilty without proof). Naruhodo informs Mayoi who knows she has been abandoned. But she sees how hard Naruhodo has been trying for her. His notebook contains many numbers of other lawyers. All do not want to take the case except for a couple. He is going to try contacting them. Then they just screw all that complication and hire each other. It works, right? At the court, we see the vast difference between the lawyers. Mitsurugi is swamped with reporters, arriving in a sports car and has tons of reputation behind him. Naruhodo arrives alone on his bicycle and is basically a nobody. Yeah, David versus Goliath. The duo come face to face in the courtroom and it seems they know each other not because of media coverage.

Episode 3
Mitsurugi calls Itonokogiri to the witness stand and testify how the sculpture was used as the murder weapon and it was Mayoi who did it because of her name on the receipt. DNA lab proves it was Chihiro’s blood. However Naruhodo counters that with the contradiction in his police report that states Chihiro died immediately so there is no way she was alive to write it. Mitsurugi says his report is outdated as a second report this morning amended that she was almost nearly dead. WTF?! Umeyo is called to testify. She saw the murder happen from in her hotel room. Although she testifies the time of the murder, Naruhodo has the sculpture examined that inside is empty. But how could he tell it wasn’t removed after the murder? Mayoi’s handphone has a conversation that Chihiro states she removed the clockwork on the morning of her murder. Umeyo panics and slips out she was hearing on the conversation. Naruhodo shows the wiretap and she mentions she was doing it on somebody’s orders and has nothing to do with the murder. Naruhodo takes out the cufflink to confirm if her hirer wears this. This is when Mitsurugi asks for permission for the case to be adjourned to tomorrow since there have been new evidences surfacing and need time to investigate. After Umeyo is arrested for wiretapping, Hoshikage comes to see Naruhodo personally. He feels sorry for running away and shows a picture of Masaru Konaka. The cufflinks match so could he be the man? As explained, he is the president of Bluecorp, a company that collects information but in reality digs up dirt and then blackmails you to keep it a secret. He is not arrested since he owns businessmen, politicians, the police and judiciary. Man, it’s like he owns the country! Hoshikage can’t go defy him either. Chihiro has been on his tail for many years now. Naruhodo returns to office to find files on Konaka but they are missing. So he goes to see him at his office (faking an American accent?). Konaka is trying to pain Umeyo his secretary as passing the buck to him so Naruhodo deduces he murdered Chihiro on that night and stole all the files on him. That is when Konaka decides to testify at tomorrow’s court and give juicy details. He is going to make Naruhodo as the one who killed Chihiro! Dumb Itonokogiri was called in to arrest Naruhodo. Mayoi is set free but is shocked to see Naruhodo now swapping her place in prison.

Episode 4
The court resumes as Naruhodo defends himself. Konaka takes the witness stand to testify he was in the hotel room with Umeyo and saw how Naruhodo killed Chihiro. But Naruhodo catches his contradiction when he said he heard the lamp dropped and smashed to bits during the murder. Because based from the hotel’s view, he couldn’t have seen the lamp at the corner and if he had never visited the office before, how did he know what was there? He only knows it because he murdered Chihiro and the lamp was in his sight. Konaka is cornered but Mitsurugi breathes new life by mentioning about the wiretap. Somebody must have entered the office to place it there. Konaka chances his story that he did enter to place the wiretap and thus knows where the lamp is. Of course Konaka’s actions were wrong but will be tried for this another day. As Naruhodo further cross-examines, he cannot break the deadlock and is in danger of being given the guilty verdict. Mayoi prays so hard for help that Chihiro now possesses her body to give Naruhodo a little push. She points to the receipt. Naruhodo presents this old evidence and has everyone look at the date of its purchase. It was bought a few days ago and if Konaka claims he wiretapped weeks ago, he couldn’t have because the lamp wasn’t there. Cornered, Mitsurugi wants to postpone the trial again to perform another inquiry but Chihiro scribbles something and throws at Konaka. It is the list of all the people he blackmailed. She remembers it all in her head and can read them out if he wants. He stops her. Anything but that. He’d rather admit he killed Chihiro than to have the list known. The judge declares Naruhodo and Mayoi not guilty. As Mayoi’s power is not strong, Chihiro will have to go but before that he tells Naruhodo to meet at the office. There, he finds Mayoi ready to work for him since she heard her sister’s last voice to take care of the place.

Episode 5
Mayoi is a big fan of the famous Steel Samurai series. However one morning on the news he has been arrested for murder. The one who played the main antagonist in the show was killed, Takeshi Ibukuro. How ironic. The superhero killed the super villain. Naruhodo and Mayoi go visit Saburou Niboshi (the actor who plays the hero – doesn’t he look like Wolverine?). He states on the day of the murder he had morning practice, then lunch and fell asleep. He overslept and by the time he arrived for rehearsal, the body was there. He is suspected because his samurai spear was impaled in the victim’s body. The duo visit the studio but are stopped by this grandma security personnel, Kaoru Ooba. She is a fan of Ibukuro who played the villain so it says a lot… Itonokogiri is also here investigating and believes Niboshi is really the culprit because from the map, Niboshi had to pass through this security post in which Ooba confirmed only he did as she was keeping watch all the time. As she can’t stop her nagging, a boy trespasses the area. The guys fail to catch him as he escapes but drops a scrapbook. It seems he is a big fan of the series too. After all the investigating, the court is in session with Mitsurugi as Naruhodo’s opponent again. Ooba is called to the stand but she rants about everything that we couldn’t care less to hear. She has photographic proof from the security camera that Niboshi passed the post to commit the murder. If it really shows him, Niboshi is done for. However it is somebody in Steel Samurai’s outfit and how could she tell it was him beneath that costume? During morning practice, Niboshi sprained his ankle and the picture shows him walking limp. Naruhodo notices this is the second picture taken. The first picture taken was deleted by her as suspicious. It is believed to be that trespasser kid. Seeing a kid can’t hold that spear which is quite heavy, he is ruled out from the suspect list. Niboshi is in danger of being declared guilty so Naruhodo takes up Mayoi’s advice to suspect someone else first so he suspects Ooba as the killer. Because she is watching the footage, other than Niboshi and Ibukuro, only she knows Niboshi sprained his ankle. During Niboshi’s nap, she might have donned his costume to hide her identity from the camera. This earns the case to be adjourned tomorrow as the judge tasks Mitsurugi to interrogate Ooba. Naruhodo feels bad for implicating Ooba but the old woman blows her top and will speak the truth. She was told not to mention there were other people at the studio on that day.

Episode 6
She was told her not to reveal those stuffs so obviously. Naruhodo views that in light of such, he obtains permission to adjourn the court and look for more evidence. Talking to Niboshi, he too knows there were other people but was also told to keep quiet. He also knows that boy sneaking around the set a lot since he is a Steel Samurai fan. Though, Niboshi didn’t tell him his identity to not ruin his dream. Revisiting the studio, they see a nerdy guy who turns out to the director. He brings them to the scary producer, Sakura Himegami who tells them no one here could have killed Ibukuro since everyone was trapped here on the time on his murder as the head of the studio’s mascot fell and block the path. Investigating the head holds true as there was a time stamp. As they leave, Ooba is back and berating Naruhodo for accusing her. She was quickly released because when they fit the Steel Samurai costume on her, it didn’t fit. Naruhodo calms her down by pretending he is also a fan of Ibukuro’s movies. Ooba won’t say an accident happened on studio 2 involving Ibukuro 5 years ago. But the boy, Kyuuta Ootaki sneaks in again and Naruhodo catches up to him. Mayoi returns his scrapbook as Kyuuta brags about Steel Samurai and all the photos he took at his events. This means he saw the murder but gets upset to see Steel Samurai killing the bad guy. Naruhodo realizes photos on the murder day are missing. Kyuuta deleted it. But he recounts meeting Steel Samurai and shows the pose he did for him that day. However Naruhodo can tell that is not Steel Samurai’s pose but the villain’s. It is then Naruhodo understood what happened. It is actually the bad guy defeated Steel Samurai. That’s why Kyuuta deleted the photos. Naruhodo explains it was Ibukuro who was wearing Steel Samurai’s costume that day. He knew of Nibushi’s injury and faked it. On his way, he saw Kyuuta calling out to him and accidentally gave his villain pose out of habit. Naruhodo mentions Steel Samurai’s catchphrase of justice to help Kyuuta reconcile with the fact as a fan, he cannot avert his eyes from the truth. He admits he deleted all but one photo. With this photo, Naruhodo confronts Himegami and believes she killed Ibukuro at studio 2. However she refutes him because Ibukuro was killed with a heavy spear that she is unable to carry and why would she kill her main star that brings in the money? See you in court tomorrow.

Episode 7
Himegami is called to the witness stand. Despite Ibukuro’s murder happened during the meeting time, there was a 15 minute break in between. Then they examine the spear. If Naruhodo cannot even carry it, how can Himegami? Naruhodo objects that the spear isn’t the murder weapon because it was broken and thus stabbing it through that thick costume is not possible. However Mitsurugi counters that if he cannot produce the real murder weapon, his case is as good as over. When all seems lost, Kyuuta suddenly barges into the middle of court to emotionally rant about justice. While the guards restrain him, Ooba quickly gives a photo of that accident at studio 2 five years ago to Naruhodo. Ibukuro accidentally killed a co-star and worse, a paparazzi took a photo. Himegami of course covered it up and had Ibukuro work under her with low pay. After Kyuuta is ushered out, Naruhodo resumes by presenting this new evidence. The picture shows the dead co-star being impaled by the fence’s spear, implying Ibukuro may have been killed in the same way. Ibukuro has had enough for being used so on that day he borrowed Steel Samurai’s costume to go kill Himegami. A struggle ensued and he died that same way. But how can she move the body and do everything in just 15 minutes? Especially that mascot head blocking the path? She hid the body and did it in stages. Although Himegami concedes to Naruhodo’s theory, unless he can show proof how, he still hasn’t won. That’s the rule of this court game. With no more proof, she is about to leave. Surprisingly Mitsurugi calls her back to testify again about what happened after the body was found. She called the police, she went back to her trailer and went home. She didn’t bring her script along for rehearsal because she didn’t think it was going to happen. Not after the murder. Again Mitsurugi objects and finds her claims odd because like as though she knew there was a murder. She claims Ibukuro was injured and thus a reasonable reason why she expected there was going to be no rehearsal. Naruhodo bounces back that she wasn’t there and how would she know he was injured. The director told her. Unfortunately he was at the rehearsal and knew who was injured. And that was Niboshi. Himegami gives up and admits she murdered Ibukuro. Niboshi is declared innocent. In the aftermath, Niboshi thanks Naruhodo who in turn thanks Mitsurugi for his actions. However Mitsurugi did not expect to see him again after all these years and is now saddled with unnecessary feelings of uncertainty and confusion. He hopes never to see him again.

Episode 8
Naruhodo thought he would have a big case for Christmas. Santa is going to grant his wish. It might seem normal on the news that a body by the lake was found. Till they announce the suspect is Mitsurugi! Obviously Naruhodo sees him and wants to defend him. Mitsurugi dismisses him and views him as an amateur with beginner’s luck. Well, he won all his 3 cases, right? Mitsurugi will not hire him and tells him to stay out of this case. At the lake investigating, they meet Itonokogiri and his team collecting evidence. Itonokogiri is not pleased sin the police has settled for Mitsurugi as the killer. The story has it that around midnight, 2 men rowed to the middle of the lake. A gunshot is heard. 5 minutes later the police came and since Mitsurugi was around the vicinity, he was arrested. Apparently there was a witness so that is why the police came quickly. However any more information is classified. Itonokogiri hopes Naruhodo can help Mitsurugi because no lawyer dared defend him. Also, Itonokogiri heard Mitsurugi praising Naruhodo after his handling of Steel Samurai’s case. Also nearby is Yahari setting up some bun stall. In this dead place? Yahari is shocked to hear Mitsurugi as a suspect because they were all classmates. His father was a defence lawyer but is stumped why Mitsurugi became a prosecutor instead. This lake is also famous for a monster like Nessie. They call it Hyosshi. It is no surprise there is this photographer, Natsumi Oosawagi is camping there with her hi-tech camera and equipment to snap the elusive creative. She took a couple of pictures during the night of the murder but won’t show it to them and gives excuse she needs to report it to the police. Naruhodo sees Itonokogiri to get the autopsy report. The victim died instantly with a point blank range shot. Mayoi has seen this guy before since she saw him at Hoshikage’s office before.

They go visit Hoshikage and he confirms Yukio Namakura once worked under him but left a long time ago. This might be related to the DL-6 incident 15 years ago. The victim was Mitsurugi’s father, Shin who was shot to death. He was an excellent defence lawyer who could go head to head with the greatest prosecutor of all time, Gou Karuma who never lost a case in his 40 years of service. On the night of a trial, that murder happened. Mitsurugi was also there witnessing his father’s murder. After the murder Karuma adopted Mitsurugi and became his mentor. The culprit was taken to court and Namakura was the one who defended him and proved his innocence. With no leads on the case, the case went cold and unsolved for 15 years. It may be Mitsurugi’s motive to kill him. This case alone also ruined many people’s lives. Including Mayoi’s mom, Maiko. The police was desperate and used a spirit medium to channel Shin’s spirit to find the culprit. However Namakura exposed this secret and Maiko was labelled as a fraud. She disappeared from the public eye later. Hoshikage apologizes he was the one who leaked this secret because Konaka threatened his firm. (Remember, Bluecorp collects information). This was the reason why Chihiro decided to become a lawyer and despite knowing all this, she still worked under him. She built a steady case against Konaka but was unfortunately killed. They go back to talk to Mitsurugi again. Seeing Naruhodo is this far in the case, he lets him know what happened. Namakura wanted to meet for the first time in 15 years and agreed. They set out by boat and after hearing a gunshot, he realized he was alone. He doesn’t know who did it and picked up the pistol without thinking. After Mayoi’s plea to find the truth, Mitsurugi relents and allows Naruhodo to defend him. But he must be careful because the prosecutor is no other than Karuma.

Episode 9
Court is in session. Karuma is so powerful that even the judge is afraid! Uh huh. It’s like we don’t need the judge at all because Karuma calls the shots! First he calls Itonokogiri to testify what happened. Further proof shows Mitsurugi’s right hand fingerprints on the pistol and the ballistic markings of the bullet matches the gun. Making Mitsurugi even more as the killer is that he is exercising his right to silence. Next is Natsumi as she testifies she heard a gunshot and then another one shortly. She also shows a picture as proof. Two men on a boat with one of them having a gun in hand. Karuma declares this case as over and wants the verdict handed down but Naruhodo wants to cross-examine and agrees with Karuma’s condition to ask only a question. He asks what she saw and not what the photo shows but Karuma ends his cross-examining. Mayoi objects and claims the lake was foggy that night and the photo is unclear and she refused to elaborate whether she saw the 2 men. Natsumi then asserts she clearly saw Mitsurugi because she had binoculars. This changes her testimony as Mayoi is thrown out of court for contempt. This at least gives Naruhodo a lease of life to continue cross-examining her. Because the judge overrules Karuma’s objection. Naruhodo argues that Natsumi’s equipment takes a photo if react to loud noises. So when she heard a loud bang, she was looking for Hyosshi instead of a boat. She also has an enlarged version of this photo. Although still unclear but Naruhodo can tell Mitsurugi isn’t the killer because it is seen shooting with his left hand. The judge adjourns the court for them to continue investigating. Mayoi is bailed out thanks to Mitsurugi. Back at the lake, Naruhodo sees Natsumi who realizes being on the stand wasn’t as fun as she thought it would be. When they see a tank floating up, Naruhodo has a hunch about Hyosshi. Because it belongs to Yahari’s stall (has his name on it), he believes he was using the tank to pump air into his balloon. But it pumped too much air and the whole thing became a rocket landed in the lake. Thus the mistaken photo of it being Hyosshi. Natsumi is shocked that her dream is deflated. As she packs up, she gives them the first photo she didn’t submit to court. It is all dark and nothing but the lake. She also tells them the one who called the police was the old man who lives in the boat rental.

Episode 10
They visit the old man who thinks they are his children. Because of his failing memory, he shows his parrot, Sayuri who remembers things for him by repeating words it was made to remember. The old man recounts he heard a loud bang and looked out his window to see 2 men on a boat. He couldn’t see clearly but when the boat returned, the culprit walked by his window. As he is relapsing between naps, Naruhodo can’t get a good statement out of him. It is then Sayuri keeps spamming not to forget DL-6. Naruhodo visits the police station to get the case files on DL-6 but it seems Karuma has just borrowed them. Luckily the Itonokogiri has copies. The trial resumes with the old man called to testify. But this time he remembers and sees clearly the culprit’s face who walked past and he is no other than Mitsurugi. Naruhodo argues the gun proved his innocence but Karuma argues he might have worn a glove then. With the judge already giving the guilty verdict, suddenly Yahari leaps in. The judge reverses his verdict because it is his duty to prevent an inaccurate verdict. Yahari testifies he was also out on the boat that night to find his inflatable. He returned to the dock and heard one loud bang. However he isn’t sure how gunshots he heard because he was listening to the radio. However Naruhodo realizes from Yahari repeating the radio lines, it occurred 10 minutes before midnight. Unlike Natsumi’s photo, the time showed was 10 minutes after midnight. This means there were 3 shots fired that night. Naruhodo explains the truth behind this case is to frame Mitsurugi. The one Mitsurugi was on the boat wasn’t Namakura but the real murderer. He was killed prior to that (thus the first gunshot). Then he dressed up as Namakura and pretended to meet up with Mitsurugi on the boat. The second shot was to draw other people’s attention. After the third shot is fired (which is also a fake shot), the killer pretended to be shot and dropped into the lake, therefore making it look like Mitsurugi had done it. So does this mean Naruhodo knows who the killer is? Sure, but not his name because he never told anybody. He is that old man. They want to bring him back but it seems he has already fled the court house.

Episode 11
The judge adjourns the trial to tomorrow as he cannot hand down the verdict like this. Back at the office, Naruhodo tells Mayoi why he wants to help Mitsurugi so bad. He was once accused of stealing the class’ lunch money since he was the only one sitting out of PE. Even the teacher believed he did it. Mitsurugi told them off for accusing without evidence. Yahari also supported his decision. Ever since, they became close friends. But after Shin’s death, Mitsurugi transferred away and Naruhodo at that time didn’t understand. Many years later his name popped up in the newspapers. Naruhodo tried hard to contact him because he is now a prosecutor when he clearly remembered Mitsurugi wanted to be a defence lawyer like his father. So the only way to get to know the truth is to enter the same field as him. Itonokogiri calls to say they have caught the old man at his boat rental shack. They examine his place and the only thing suspicious is his safe (thanks Sayuri for the code). They see a letter addressing to get revenge on the 2 men who ruined his life. Naruhodo is very sure there is a mastermind behind this. Short flashback shows Mitsurugi, Shin and an officer trapped in a lift. Running out of air, the police officer is panicking and threatens Shin to stop breathing his air! Mitsurugi didn’t like what he saw and picked up a gun… The trial resumes with the old man brought back. He claims he was buying food for Sayuri and didn’t mean to run. Naruhodo shows the letter but since there is no name of the sender and recipient, Naruhodo is going to link it to DL-6. He calls Hoshikage as the witness.

On that day, there was a blackout and 3 people were trapped in a life. When the power was back on, Shin’s body was found dead. The officer, Koutarou Haine was a court bailiff and accused of shooting Shin. He pleaded not guilty. When the case hit a dead end, the police resorted to Maiko. Shin’s spirit said it was Haine who shot him. Namakura defended Haine and claimed that although he fired the gun, the severe lack of oxygen in the lift made him unsound of mind and cannot be held responsible. Haine was acquitted. However he was vilified by society and a year later his fiancée committed suicide. If Haine was innocent, he must have also resent Shin for accusing him of murder. Naruhodo believes this old man is Haine but he is not saying. They can take his fingerprints but he has burnt them many years ago. That is when they bring Sayuri in. Mayoi cross-examines the parrot. Testing it could answer questions, everything goes well until the important part where it stays silent. It might be that Karuma had retrained it? But Naruhodo points out several evidences. From the records, Sayuri is the name of Haine’s fiancée and the code of the safe corresponds to the date of DL-6. As Karuma tries to overthrow and object Naruhodo’s case, that is when the old man gets up and admits he is Haine. He has already achieved what he wants to. 15 years ago when Namakura was his attorney, he refused to listen to what he said. He wanted him to plead guilty in shooting the gun despite he did not in hopes of saving his fiancée and the only way of getting him acquitted. However it did not change a thing as everyone still treated him as a murderer and Namakura washed his hands off everything, not wanting to be bugged again. Sayuri couldn’t take all the pressure and killed herself. Ever since he lived his life away from the public while dreaming he would get his revenge someday. As for why he targeted Mitsurugi, ask that man himself. With Karuma even agreeing that Mitsurugi is innocent, the judge declares him innocent. Before he adjourns the court, suddenly Mitsurugi objects. He reveals he is the true culprit of DL-6.

Episode 12
Mitsurugi explains his recurring nightmare. Dark, hard to breathe, a gunshot heard and a terrible scream. During the court’s recess, Mitsurugi tells Naruhodo why he became a prosecutor. Because of Namakura’s forced shady acquittal, he started hating criminals and defence lawyers. Karuma was the one who reached out to him and taught him that justice should be perfect, cold hearted and a merciless hammer to be used upon all. So he made up his mind to become one to make criminals atone but perhaps he was just escape the sin he committed. However Naruhodo still believes in him and not his ‘nightmare’. The court resumes as Naruhodo argues Mitsurugi was just describing his recurring dream. He was at the court on that day to observe his father taking on Karuma in a court case in which the latter won. When the blackout occurred, help didn’t arrive for hours and the air was running thin. When Haine attacked Shin, Mitsurugi picked up and threw the gun at him. A gunshot was heard and he blacked out. He doesn’t remember clearly what happened after that. If Haine said he didn’t shoot the gun, it could only mean Mitsurugi was the one who fired it. Photo evidence on that day shows 2 holes. One in Shin’s body and the other in the door. Although the report said the gun was fired twice, there was only a bullet and it was lodged in Shin’s body. Naruhodo claims the second bullet was taken away by the real murderer. It is because the bullet hit the murderer and if he was shot at the time of the crime, he would’ve been forced to take the bullet. Records might say nobody else was shot at the court that day, but what if that person was injured? That person is Karuma because Hoshikage told him he took a day off after Shin died as shock. It was the only day he took off in his entire career. But what if he was forced to take a day off like a bullet was lodged in him? But it would take more than a day to recover from a surgery to extract the bullet. So the bullet is still inside his shoulder! Wait. 15 years?! No infection?! Using a metal detector, it is confirmed there is something lodged in his shoulder. But how can he link it to DL-6? Naruhodo can compare the bullet in Shin using ballistic markings. However the evidence is gone!

That is when Mitsurugi fakes a collapse to stop the verdict. Sneaky… He knows Karuma hides disadvantageous evidence in his office so they have to sneak in to get it. Because the office door has retinal identification, he can only help Mayoi go that far as he needs to reappear in court. It isn’t enough time actually. Because Yahari is impersonating as Mitsurugi! Nobody buys this imposter stuff! Throw him out! Mitsurugi returns in time and Mayoi shortly after as she presents the bullet. With the evidence at hand, Naruhodo orders the bullet to be extracted from Karuma. He starts screaming and that is the scream Mitsurugi remembers. Karuma explains what happened that day. He was at the court’s record room which was near the elevator. A bullet was shot through the door and lodged into his shoulder (when Mitsurugi threw the gun, it went off once). When the power got back on, Karuma saw 3 people unconscious and seeing Shin was one of them, the thought of getting revenge on someone who could taint his reputation was great. He picked up the gun and shot Shin knowing that nobody would knew the killer. That’s why Shin’s spirit thought it was Haine to protect his son. Karuma laments he was pierced by the bullet a second time but Naruhodo says it was the truth that pierced him. Mitsurugi is acquitted as he thanks Naruhodo for sticking with him. He says it is to repay that lunch money incident. Then the real culprit for that is also revealed. Yahari stole it?! No wonder he was on his side… I guess Naruhodo is going to become a prosecutor and sue him! In the aftermath of this case, Mayoi decides to leave and train to become a full-fledged spirit medium.

Episode 13
A flashback to Naruhodo’s past with Mitsurugi and Yahari. Although Mitsurugi was in the same class, Naruhodo never talked with him. One day when Yahari found a stray dog, it had money in its mouth so he exchanged his snacks for it. It was the same day Naruhodo was sick, exempted from PE and saw the envelope funds that belonged to Mitsurugi on the floor. A classmate saw him and that is when they accused and started the class trial. You know the rest. With the dog following Yahari around and since none can take it in, Mitsurugi uses his detective skills to locate the owner since the box has partial address. However the owner feigns ignorance and doesn’t care a bit. Nobody is going to take a kid seriously despite citing the law. As they cannot just abandon it, Mitsurugi asks his father if he could keep the dog. Of course he can. The trio continue to become best friends and as explained, Yahari gave the money he found to the police but Japanese law states that if nobody claims it in 3 months, it is his. Thus Yahari treats his friends to play games where he won keychains of Signal Samurai. They commemorate their friendship with this. Shortly after DL-6 happened, Mitsurugi moved away with Karuma. Karuma didn’t want him to bring the ugly keychain and threw it away. Naruhodo and Yahari were too late to reach him but saw the keychain on the dustbin. Yahari took it as a sign Mitsurugi was no longer friends with them but Naruhodo continues to believe Mitsurugi wouldn’t do something like that. Yahari also wants out and throws away his keychain. The same night, Mitsurugi ran back to his old home to get his keychain. You mean Naruhodo was waiting there for him to show up?! I know he believed in him but he actually waited?! What if he never showed up? But anyway the friends reconcile (including Yahari) and they get their keychains back. In present time, Naruhodo is glad their friendship has never changed and their case has finally reached a closure. However it might be the beginning of a second goodbye because Mitsurugi leaves a note in his office that he chose death.

Episode 14
Naruhodo accompanies Dr Tetsurou Kirisaki to Kurain Village, Mayoi’s hometown. The case is about his nurse misdiagnosing his patients and causing all of them to die. However she died in a car accident and this leads the press to believe he killed to silence her. So he is going to use a spirit medium to make her confess that she did it. Wait. What?! How is that going to work? And he brought a gun just in case? At the village, they are met with Kimiko (Mayoi’s aunt) and Harumi (Kimiko’s daughter and thus Mayoi’s cousin). As they wait in the room, Natsumi is also there since she believes there is going to be a big scoop in this case. When Mayoi is ready, Kirisaki follows her into the channelling room whereby Kimiko warns nobody is to enter and disturb the ritual. While they wait in another room, they hear gunshots. Running back and breaking the locked door open, they see Kirisaki dead and what it looked like a possessed Mayoi shot him. Kimiko will handle this and wants the duo to quickly call the police. When Itonokogiri arrives, Naruhodo wants to see Mayoi but as said by Kimiko, she is unconscious after the channelling ritual ended. Gathering all the related parties, there is another guest around when the murder happened. She is Nodoka Hanaka, the one who referred Kirisaki to this place and is also the younger sister of Mimi, Kirisaki’s nurse. After the police is done with their investigation, Naruhodo and Natsumi check the crime scene. It is learnt that Kirisaki was stabbed and shot. Noticing a hole in the wall, Naruhodo wonders if a shot missed since he heard 2 gunshots. Kimiko further explains when a weak and inexperienced medium is in possession of a higher level spirit, tragedies like this can occur. Naruhodo then talks to Harumi (who pretty much believes in him because she heard so much from Mayoi and got the wrong idea he is Mayoi’s ‘special someone’). She gives him a key she found in the incinerator. It is believed this is the only key to the channelling room and Mayoi was the one in possession. Bad news when Mayoi is taken into custody by the police. Naruhodo believes she is innocent since she isn’t the kind to kill. But can the law believe that a spirit possessed her and killed the doctor? Just like the first time they met, it is déjà vu again when Mayoi seeks Naruhodo’s help to defend her. At the courthouse, Harumi was so worried that she came alone to help. How is she going to help? Itonokogiri warns Naruhodo the prosecutor is Karuma’s successor. Another prodigy who has never lost a case? Yeah, until they face off with Naruhodo, right?

Episode 15
Mei isn’t only the daughter to Karuma, she might be worse than him. How the f*ck can she bring a whip into the courtroom?! Is the judge a masochist to allow it? And what the f*ck she just whips anybody she doesn’t likes?! Anyway Mei calls Itonokogiri to give his witness testimony as he describes how the murder probably took place. The gun and knife has Mayoi’s fingerprints on it and it is confirmed Kirisaki was shot point blank as there is gun powder on his forehead. Mei gives Naruhodo a chance for his client to plead justifiable self-defence. However he rejects it since it still means Mayoi committed murder. Mei has Itonokogiri continue his testimony with a damning evidence that Kirisaki’s blood was all over Mayoi’s ceremonial robe. Naruhodo notices a bullet hole on the robe’s sleeve. It proves that Kirisaki tried to shoot Mayoi. However Mei points out since Naruhodo rejected her self-defence plea, this means this evidence bears no relevance in this case. But wait. If both were struggling at close range and a shot was fired, there should be gunpowder on the sleeve. Since there is none, it means Itonokogiri’s statement has contradictions. Natsumi is called as the next witness. She explains after hearing a gunshot, she rushed to the room and snapped a photo. It shows a different person in Mayoi’s robe and Kirisaki’s dead body. But as explained when Mayoi is acting as a medium, she will take on the form of the channelled spirit. Since Naruhodo knows how Mayoi works, he cannot lie and thus the picture is not Photoshop or whatsoever. Naruhodo points out a contradiction in the photo. Mayoi was wearing a headband but this person was not. Could it have fallen off? Harumi is certain the headband fits 100%. This means a different person committed the murder. But if that is the case, where did Mayoi vanished too considering nobody could get in or out of the room during that time. A locked room mystery. Naruhodo is in a pinch. Harumi prays hard enough for Chihiro to possess her and hint to Naruhodo about the proof that someone enter or leave. Naruhodo brings out the key he found at the incinerator. If Mayoi only had this key and if he is in possession of it, this means Mayoi might have left the room before the murder took place. If Mayoi committed the murder, there was no way she would have time to throw it away as Kimiko quickly ushered her away. With this impasse, the judge adjourns the court. As Mayoi praises Naruhodo and Harumi, Naruhodo feels that Kirisaki’s death and Mayoi’s framing has been a planned setup. You don’t say because it looks like Kimiko has got a hand in this…

Episode 16
Naruhodo accompanies Harumi back to her village as there is also something he wants to investigate. He asks her whereabouts during the murder. She is reluctant to say but eventually reveals she was playing near the hallway but accidentally broke an urn containing the village founder’s ashes. She pieced back the entire urn until the gunshot was heard. She never told anybody in fear she would be kicked out. Kimiko mentions about Maiko who went missing after that incident. She believes she will never come back and in a few more years she will written off as dead and a new head will be chosen. Naturally Mayoi is supposed to be the next head but with the murder charges… The way she says it makes it more suspicious. She warns Naruhodo not to come close to her daughter again. Naruhodo investigates the incinerator. He finds a piece of Mayoi’s cloth in it and realizes the key wasn’t intentionally thrown in there. Since Mayoi kept the key in her robe, the culprit threw the part of that robe into it. Naruhodo sees Natsumi lurking around and catches her. Why the heck is she hiding in a box? Naruhodo also notices a similar bullet hole there. Natsumi talks to him that she mainly suspects Nodoka. She learnt Nodoka was hospitalized for 6 months and was supposedly in the same car as Mimi. While Mimi was burnt to death, Nodoka managed to escape alive but was badly burnt. She underwent a major surgery to reconstruct her face and the doctors used her driving licence as reference. Naruhodo wonders if Nodoka could pull this all off alone.

He then talks to Nodoka about that night in the car with Mimi. She was asleep and when she woke up, the car was in flames and in her reflex she opened the door and jumped out. Harumi is shocked to see the police take away Kumiko. She assures she is just going with them to help them with the case. Naruhodo tells this to Mayoi who feels bad for bringing trouble to her clan. She lets him know that it is tradition for the eldest daughter of the clan to become the head. However Maiko broke this tradition. Although she is the younger sister to Kumiko, her spiritual powers were greater and thus became the next head. Naruhodo pleads to Harumi to channel Chihiro during the trial. His plan is so that she wouldn’t have to hear what happened what comes next in the courtroom. As the trial resumes, Mei changes her statement by claiming Mayoi left the room after murdering Kirisaki. She can proves this by calling Kumiko to the stand. She testifies that after having Naruhodo call the police, she tried to take Mayoi and sever the spirit’s possession but was attacked and left unconscious. She saw last Mayoi leaving the room. This proves Mayoi fled the crime scene. She never said this because she didn’t want to bring shame to the family but finally decided to bring the truth out to the light. It is believed Mayoi ran and talked to another person. Mei calls in her second witness to testify: Nodoka.

Episode 17
Nodoka testifies she was sleeping in the room when she saw her sister (remember, Mayoi was still possessed). Mimi told her she didn’t die in an accident and was murdered by Kirisaki, that’s why she came back to take revenge. After that Nodoka took her back out pass the hallway. Naruhodo cross-examines and finds holes in her story because Harumi was fixing the urn during the entire time. She could not have missed her since she was occupying the entire hallway to fix it. Naruhodo claims Nodoka was inside the channelling room all the while. She already hid there before the murder took place. There was a box behind the folding there before it was moved to the storeroom. Natsumi’s photo of Mimi with blood on her clothes is the real Nodoka and not a possessed Mayoi. This was how it went. Nodoka hid inside the box and when the ritual began, she drugged Mayoi and stabbed Kirisaki. While she is trying to move Mayoi into the box, Kirisaki with his last ounce of strength fires a shot. Since he missed, the bullet hole from the angle he shot corresponds to the folding door, sleeve and box. Panic, Nodoka used the gun and finished Kirisaki off. That is when the rest come in. Of course Nodoka couldn’t have pulled this off by herself. She had an accomplice who is no other than Kimiko. How else would she get the ritual clothing? When the murder happened, Kimiko ushered the rest to call the cops so that Nodoka could move the box to the storeroom and Kimiko throw the clothes into the incinerator. Nodoka then used the back way bypassing the hallway into the room where she pretended to sleep. Mei objects why Nodoka would go to such complicated lengths to do this. Besides, there was no proof Kirisaki set up the accident.

After Chihiro encourages Naruhodo to believe in himself, he cross-examines Nodoka again but this time during the crash. She claimed Mimi was sleepy while driving and why didn’t she drive when she too had a valid licence? Because Mimi didn’t want her too since it was her precious American car. That itself is a dead giveaway because American cars are left hand drive and since Nodoka mentioned she exited from the left, it could only mean she was in the driver’s seat. Naruhodo further claims the person here is not Nodoka but Mimi. The public believed Mimi is dead but was she? Because Mimi was badly burnt, the surgeons used Nodoka’s driving licence to reconstruct her face. As Mimi was responsible for the medical negligence, Kirisaki’s spirit channelling would have failed because Mimi wasn’t dead in the first place and thus exposed she is alive. That is why she had to go through this complicated procedure to silence him. Mimi admits her real self. She was close to discarding her old identity. The burden of medical negligence and killing her sister was too much to bear. When she first stepped into Kurain Village, she sought Kimiko’s help to fake the channelling. However Kimiko had a better idea and suggested this murder. The judge will have Mimi and Kimiko go on trial for another day but this case proves that Mayoi is not guilty. There goes your perfect record, Mei. Kimiko tells Naruhodo that she intends to have Harumi inherit the head of her clan and she is not going to give up yet. With Mayoi cleared, she returns with Naruhodo.

Episode 18
Naruhodo and Mayoi attend a circus act and are awed by the top magician’s performance, Maximilian “Max” Galactica. Next day, the morning news reports the ringmaster has been murdered and Max is arrested. Mayoi being a big fan of Max wants to go defend him. Seeing him at prison, Max explains he is probably suspected because he was the last person who saw the ringmaster. They were discussing about his salary since Max is the one drawing the crowd. The ringmaster left shortly but never returned. Naruhodo has doubts whether he should take up this case since he doesn’t fully trust him, much to Mayoi’s dismay. They investigate the site whereby the meet the ringmaster’s daughter, Mirika. She is not distraught with her father’s death because she believes he is now up there with the stars as with their beloved pet lion. Then they investigate the crime scene as Itonokogiri explains the ringmaster’s body was slumped over a heavy wooden box that is currently being investigated. However they realize that only his footprints were in the snow. If the perpetrator killed him at close range and left no footsteps, could it mean the killer can fly? And the only person who can do this is Max. They interview the other circus members and everyone seems to hate Max because of his obnoxious attitude. None side him. They are about to talk to Ben the ventriloquist but he is looking for a ring can can’t talk thanks to a pain in his head. That is when Tommy the clown reveals it was Max who smashed a bottle on Ben’s head. Tommy has been in this industry for 20 years and founded the circus with the ringmaster. He too suspects Max.

Checking the ringmaster’s office, they see a document pertaining to Max’s salary increment. Then they go back and question Max about it. The document was dated last week which means he already has an increment. This trust issue has Naruhodo unable to defend Max. But the magician becomes desperate and starts pleading not to be abandoned. He tells the truth that the ringmaster called him to discuss about his attitude and not to fight with others including his recent hurting of Ben. Max knows everyone hates him and he too looks down on others as they have no ambition and staying in their comfort zone. Max has spent 10 years perfecting his magic and won the magic championship last year. Naruhodo decides to defend him. Going back to the circus, a monkey steals his shiny badge. He chases it to a room, puts up a monkey fight till it escapes. They see the room has lots of valuables including a bust of Max and a ring. When they leave, Rilo (Ben’s puppet) requests the ring back. After giving it to him, Rilo lets them know he was at the crime scene and saw Max and only Max passing through. However Naruhodo finds contradiction in his statement. Because if he had been there at the crime scene, he should have seen another person passing by: The ringmaster. His statement proves that there is someone else went to the crime scene. His eyewitness account is not enough to declare Max guilty. But Rilo isn’t throwing in the towel as there was an eyewitness who saw something crazier who will be appearing in tomorrow’s trial.

Episode 19
The trial begins. Itonokogiri is called to give his testimony. We already know what happened but the additional info is that inside the box is just a small bottle of pepper. Tommy is next to give his statement. He recounts seeing Max flying. Max argues he was ‘flying’ only because of the thin wires. As the scene was not set up for magic tricks, the judge postpones the trial for them to get more evidence. Naruhodo talks to Max again and it seems on that night, the ringmaster offered him to wear his clothes since it was pretty cold outside. So could it be Tommy saw the ringmaster who was actually Max. Naruhodo returns to the crime site. He notices the building and room above it is where he faced off with the monkey. Talking to the person who lives in that room, Acro was once the acrobat but had an accident a few months ago and is now wheelchair-ridden. Mei then comes in to take in Acro as he will be tomorrow’s witness. Mayoi wonders why Mei is being harsh with Naruhodo. Her aim is Mitsurugi. She accuses Naruhodo of ‘killing’ him. Although he left a death note, she believes he is still alive. She is certain that if she defeats Naruhodo, Mitsurugi will come back. Naruhodo goes to talk to Tommy who on the morning of the murder saw the ringmaster very mad since there was an odd memo on the board. As the memo is now missing from the board, Naruhodo searches the office and finds it in the trash bin. There are no names but it is addressed to the murderer and called him out to meet. Showing this to Tommy again, they believe something happened here that is connected to the murder. Tommy reveals Bat, Acro’s brother and acrobat partner who was in love with Mirika. He’d do anything for her. While they were fooling around with a lion stunt, it went awry. Acro tried to save him but to no avail. The ringmaster shot the lion. Bat is in coma and Acro was hospitalized. When Mirika sees the memo, she recognizes it. Actually she found it in her pocket and is unsure how it got there and thus put it on the board thinking the owner lost it. Naruhodo now understands this tragic mystery. The trial resumes the next day and Acro appears to give his statement. He was sleeping and saw Max flying up outside his window. Naruhodo cross-examines him since there is contradiction. Because Max’s hat was found at the site, there was no way Acro could have seen it with him. Naruhodo accuses Acro as the mastermind behind this crime and murder.

Episode 20
Naruhodo with the help of the rest re-enact the murder scene. The ringmaster’s target was the box. Since it was too heavy to be lifted, he squatted to try and lift it back. But that is where the murder weapon was dropped directly on his head and killed him. The only one who can do this was Acro who was living directly in the room above the murder scene. The murder weapon is a bust of Max which he won in last year’s championship and thus the mistaken identity that Tommy saw that night. But if Acro is wheelchair ridden, how did he setup all this. It is his pet monkey who has a penchant for stealing shiny things. Mei is surprised that the circus members are now siding with Max when they were so against him. Previously Naruhodo showed them the salary negotiations letter. Max wasn’t just seeking his own increment but he wants everyone else to have a similar increment too. This shows how much he cared for the circus. Despite proving everything right, Naruhodo has yet to prove the motive for this murder. Why would Acro kill somehow whom he treated as his father? Naruhodo didn’t want to do this so he shows the memo. Bat was wearing a scarf that Mirika gave to him that contained pepper. So when Bat did the animal trick by putting his head into the lion’s mouth, the lion sneezed and that was when the tragedy happened. Therefore Acro’s real target was Mirika. As Mirika often took care of Acro and brought food to his room, that was when he slipped the note into her pocket. Since she is unaware of what that note meant, she posted it on the board. The ringmaster probably knew about it and went there in her place. Because of Acro’s condition, he couldn’t ascertain if he killed Mirika that night.

However Acro counters that he doesn’t have the proof linking him to the murder weapon. Is there proof that Acro dropped the bust on the ringmaster. Mei even argues that the police searched and catalogued every item in the circus they searched but found no bust. Naruhodo knows where he hid it. It is underneath the blanket of his wheelchair. Because the police was searching the place, all personnel was removed and because Acro and other circus members were sent away during the search, the bust has also gone along with Acro. Acro removes his blanket and there it is, the bust. He admits to the murder. He further explains Bat and Mirika were very close. Bat played a pepper trick on Mirika and she sneezed nonstop. So she too wanted to play that trick back on him that day but tragedy struck. Acro became mad when he heard Mirika unconsciously made an insensitive remark on Bat (something about becoming a star in the sky) and that’s when he hatched his murder plot. Mirika is very sorry and apologizes to him. But Tommy tells her the reason why Acro wanted to get away with murder instead of disappear is because Bat is still in coma and wants to be there when he wakes up. Mirika promises to be by Bat’s side till he wakes up. The circus gets back on its feet and everyone is surprised that Max is back with them. Since the circus is aiming to become the best and everyone has forgiven him, there is no reason to go their separate ways. Lastly, we see Mitsurugi just off from a phone call with Itonokogiri. Looks like it is time for him to come back.

Episode 21
Naruhodo, Mayoi, Harumi and Niboshi attend a hero show award at a hotel. Nickel Samurai beats Jammin’ Ninja for the coveted award. Also at this show are Yahari working as a reporter covering the event and Ooba as the security. Oh my, this old hag now doesn’t stop talking! There is supposed to be a show by Nickel Samurai after the awards but the announcer announced its cancellation due to unforeseen circumstances. After Mayoi leaves to answer a phone call at the front desk, the rest snoop around and thanks to Itonokogiri’s blunder, he reveals there has been a murder. Ironically it is not Nickel Samurai who got killed but Jammin’ Ninja or more accurately Isao Fujimino, the actor who played him. Again the hero is arrested for murder? More accurately Shingo Outorou who plays Nickel Ninja. Shortly after, Naruhodo receives a call from a person known as Koroshiya. He claims to have kidnapped Mayoi and his demand is a no guilty verdict on Outorou to guarantee Mayoi’s safety. Naruhodo speaks to Outorou to represent him but that his agency already has called some big shot lawyer. After hearing about Koroshiya, Outorou agrees to let Naruhodo represent him. He claims he and Fujimino are rivals but in a healthy way so there is no way he would kill him. When asked about the confession he was supposed to make at the show, Outorou isn’t sure what he is talking about since he left most matters to his manager, Kirio Kamiya.

Naruhodo speaks to Kirio who found Fujimino’s body. She was in his room to remind him the show is going to start soon as he was to be part of Nickel Samurai’s act. Ooba is also doing her own investigation and she believes Kirio is a vile woman who sets up scandals to make Outorou’s rivals lose face. There was a case before. In short, Ooba is a fan of Jammin’ Ninja. Examining the murder scene, a knife is stabbed in Fujimino’s chest and Outorou’s fingerprints are over it. Mei is also there but she is more concerned in whipping her whip around and blaming Naruhodo for smashing her perfect prosecution record. Just do your job, lady. Afterwards, Koroshiya calls Naruhodo that he will be giving him a ‘present’ for tomorrow’s trial. As Mei leaves the police HQ, she got sniped in the shoulder! Everyone is shocked when Itonokogiri barges into the courtroom to report this. Koroshiya calls Naruhodo again if he likes his ‘present’ and of course it is his turn to get a no guilty verdict. Naturally the judge will postpone the trial. However Mitsurugi returns! He has memorized the facts of the case and will prosecute Outorou by his own method. Naruhodo doesn’t look too happy that he is back. What about him choosing death over a year ago? He admits his past self is dead. Well, lawyers have a way with words… He went to do soul searching and asked himself questions like why he wanted to become a prosecutor, why is he standing in court. Well, duh. You’re a lawyer, right? He also points the same question for Naruhodo. The trial will resume.

Episode 22
Itonokogiri testifies that based on the autopsy, Fujimino was strangled to death. The knife was only stabbed later. Of course Outorou was arrested since his fingerprints were on it. Mitsurugi argues the murder was premeditated since the knife was from Outorou’s missing and the crime scene shows the knife in his room is missing. Mitsurugi also calls Ooba who was the witness. As she is clearly a fan of Fujimino, she believes Outorou was the one who did and saw it with her own eyes that he left the room although it is stated that Outorou was sleeping in his room wearing the costume. She even has photo evidence of it. Did she stole Yahari’s camera?! But it seems the person in the photo is dressed in Nickel Samurai. Yup, she is damn sure it is him. Naruhodo objects to it because he realizes a different person is wearing the suit thanks to the height. The pants of Nickel Samurai is sagging on the floor. He believes the only person who fits this description is Kirio. She is called to the witness stand. She testifies that there were 2 Nickel Samurai costumes prepared. The one who gave the press conference and the confession teaser was Fujimino in that suit. She didn’t tell Outorou about it so clearly he is unaware. Because Fujimino was going to reveal Outorou’s secret if he didn’t win the award, Kirio refuses to further testify since it will incriminate her. Even when Naruhodo pinpoints all evidence that she could be the one who took the knife and implanted Outorou’s fingerprints on it, she still refuses to testify. Because of that, the judge is going to put off the trial for today and Naruhodo becomes desperate. Unfortunately it gets adjourned. Luckily Koroshiya gives him a last chance to win tomorrow’s trial.

Before Naruhodo leaves, Outorou gives his keys to his house so he could feed his cat. Mitsurugi sees Kirio and wants to know a certain card she is having. She found it next to Fujimino’s body. Mitsurugi then talks to Naruhodo and wants to know what is going on because clearly he is not acting like himself. He tells what happened to Mayoi. Mitsurugi believes this card has some connection. Sazaemon Koroshiya is a top assassin that special forces have been pursuing for a long time. He leaves his card by his victim to make it known he was responsible. There is another reason he does this: His duty to his clients. He dislikes his clients being accused of murder more than anything. So this could mean that Outorou is Koroshiya’s client who killed Fujimino. Mayoi is trapped in some room and uses her ingenuity of a card to open the door. Unfortunately she is caught by the butler. Naruhodo is at Outorou’s house but his butler assures the cat is fed. He feels strange Outorou didn’t mention about this. He goes back to the crime scene where Itonokogiri becomes clumsy and trips over one of the large bear plushie present. To everyone’s surprise, there is a hidden camera in it. It might have recorded the murder. So when the source of the camera is traced, Naruhodo is in shock as he sees Outorou again. The one who sent the bear present was Outorou because of his credit card receipt. The bear is a rare imported luxury. Naruhodo then asks if Outorou knows Koroshiya because he believes it is him who contacted Koroshiya to kill Fujimino and then filmed his murder with this camera. Naruhodo hopes he is wrong but Outorou starts laughing like a maniac. It’s like he has an evil split personality.

Episode 23
Outorou confirms he hired Koroshiya to kill Fujimino. The camera was insurance so if Koroshiya betrayed him, he will release footage of him doing the killing. Naruhodo knows Outorou is equally as guilty but Outorou warns if he doesn’t get acquitted, you know what will happen to Mayoi, right? Naruhodo feels lost so he sees Mitsurugi for advice. Yeah, only he can decide. Just like how Mitsurugi left a year to seek the truth, it is his turn to decide. Still fretting over saving everybody? Mitsurugi tells him they are not superheroes but just humans. Koroshiya calls Naruhodo one last time. Naruhodo hears a cat in the background and knows where he is. By the time police swarm the place, he is already gone. So is Mayoi. Naruhodo realizes too late that butler is Koroshiya. In the room where Mayoi was held captive, they see a picture of Yurie Kamiya, Kirio’s late sister who was also Outorou’s manager. Next to the picture is a note left behind by Mayoi. It’s like she is saying goodbye and won’t forgive Naruhodo if he acquits Outorou. The trial resumes with Mitsurugi presenting facts about Koroshiya as a hired killer. Naruhodo argues that Kirio might be the one to hire Koroshiya. Mitsurugi presents a teddy bear that was found at the crime scene to be in Outorou’s house. Naruhodo objects that it might be from Kirio’s orders to frame him because why would Outorou bring back Fujimino’s stuff? Mitsurugi calls Kirio to testify on this teddy bear so the court gives 10 minutes recess to prepare. During that period, Chihiro possesses Harumi to relay news that Mayoi is being held captive at a circus. There is only a circus in town…

When Kirio is back on the stands, Mitsurugi ask about the teddy bear. It’s a souvenir Yurie bought while on holiday and gave it to Fujimino whom she was dating at that time. As previously she was Outorou’s manager, she was also in love with him. However that love is one-sided. When the media got wind about their relationship, he dumped her to prevent any scandal. Because of that she was fired but Fujimino’s agency took her in and literally saved her. They were also engaged but it was called off as Yurie killed herself. It seems Outorou told Fujimino about their relationship and he didn’t like it. She left a suicide note after taking her life. The confession Fujimino wanted to make public was this suicide note. Kirio didn’t want it to go public and searched his room but to no avail. She got an idea to frame both men as revenge for Yurie so she dressed up as Nickel Samurai, took the knife in Outorou’s room with his fingerprints on and stuck it into Fujimino’s body. The suicide note is inside the teddy bear, that’s why she couldn’t find it. Naruhodo objects Koroshiya doesn’t know about it but Mitsurugi shows the hidden footage Koroshiya does. He was watching Fujimino all the time. Creepy. Naruhodo tries to buy more time to verify if the note is really written by Yurie. With the court granting more time, Itonokogiri calls back to say Koroshiya has already fled again but this time Mayoi has left an invaluable clue and he is on to it. The court resumes and tough luck as the handwriting belongs to Yurie. Mitsurugi then seemingly helps to stall for more time as he calls a new witness to the stand: Koroshiya! WTF?! The killer going to testify himself? He called Mitsurugi a while ago to do so. So he is testifying from a phone?! Can a mere phone take the stand?!

Episode 24
The judge wonder is Koroshiya taking the stand is credible. How do we know he is the real person? Koroshiya lets Mayoi speak. It is him alright. Koroshiya admits he killed Fujimino. But before he can testify his client, he tells everyone about his code of confidentiality and how he hates traitors the most. Then he reveals his client is Kirio. This is of course a lie but how to proof? This also puts Kirio in risk of being wrongly accused and sentenced. Naruhodo cross-examines him and Koroshiya made a simple mistake when he explains how he went to meet his client. He thinks Kirio is a man. Naruhodo catches him there and this proves they never met. But this doesn’t change Naruhodo’s fate because at this rate Mayoi will be killed. Koroshiya even changes his stance that he remembers making an exception accepting Kirio’s request via email. The judge is going to announce Outorou not guilty when Mei comes in to throw a CD to Naruhodo as evidence. However the judge rejects it because the murderer is already known so this evidence is useless. Chihiro hints to Naruhodo that if the judge doesn’t need it, guess who needs it? Naruhodo then shows this disc to Koroshiya. It seems this disc was duplicated by Mayoi during her captivity so she wasn’t just being a useless hostage. The footage belongs to Outorou as it films Koroshiya killing Fujimino. It seems Koroshiya also had a same exact duplicate but was told not to watch and he kept his word. After Naruhodo reveals Outorou’s untrusting behaviour, Koroshiya decides to change his target since he feels betrayed. You better watch out, Outorou. That guy now is panicking like mad. Before the judge can hand down his verdict, Outorou screams in protest. He wants to be declared guilty seeing that if he is a free man, Koroshiya will kill him! Okay. You’re guilty. Feel better? It was between the devil and the deep blue sea anyway.

In the aftermath, Mei is not happy that despite Naruhodo lost, he looks so happy. Mitsurugi is here to explain he was once lost. As a prosecutor he thought of raking up victories till he met Naruhodo. He opened his eyes to what he really needed as the truth. When he lost for the first time to him, he lost everything. He realizes the importance of relying on each other for the truth, the reason why defence and prosecutors exist. It is also the reason why Naruhodo couldn’t forgive him when he left and felt betrayed. The reason Naruhodo wanted to become a lawyer was because of what he said and when he betrayed his own words, he put aside their symbol of friendship. Naruhodo then realizes he was wrong because Mitsurugi pushed himself to find the truth. Mei still cannot accept this because it feels like both losers licking each other’s wounds. Mayoi is reunited with everyone. The sisters reuniting brings tears to the guys’ eyes. How touching. At the airport, looks like it is Mei’s turn to run away? Mitsurugi sees her off. After all that has happened, she just cannot throw everything away. Being the daughter of Karuma is hard. She still considers Mitsurugi her rival and it got harder when Naruhodo beat him. Mitsurugi respects her decision and if this is the case, they’ll have to part ways since he intends of moving forward. Mei lets out the most emotional cry we’ll ever see as she proclaims never to walk in his shadows. Naruhodo continues practising law but he is still a big rookie having Mitsurugi and the judge telling him off to rethink his argument again. Objection!

No More Objections, I Rest My Case
I certainly have not played any of the games and although I do watch the parodies that fans and random people make just for fun, something tells me that the anime adaptation isn’t as greatly adapted. In short, a little bit poor quality. I don’t know, it just feels like that. I’m not sure if they’re trying to capture the essence of the game because there are some very familiar poses from the game like Naruhodo’s trademark objection but the overall execution just seems to not live up to a decent expectation. At least my expectations. So should we vouch for another season to adapt the rest of the games or would you object and igi ari to that?

Firstly, the plot of each of the cases. I am sure that they are following faithfully to the source material but somehow I feel that the execution of trying to make the cases interesting isn’t there. What I mean is that I could actually easily guess who the damn culprit is. Because from a small pool of characters in that certain arc, who else could it be? They can’t just throw a random character we have never seen before as surprise. That will defeat the whole purpose of this setting. So a big part of the trial seems to be trying to figure out how the culprit did it. That’s right. It isn’t so much on who did it because from the various clues and testimonials, if you use your grey matter a little harder and observe the body action of some characters, it is clear who the perpetrator is. Thus most of the deductions go into unravelling how the culprit did it via the most logical cause. And once you’ve nailed and cornered, the culprit, you’ll see how many of them will be blown away by a strong gust of wind! It’s like as though a comet flew passed by and they are caught in its turbulence. Oh yeah. Great special effects. Sure, for funny moments. It made me laugh. But hardly funny anymore when you try to compare it in real life. What the f*ck am I doing this in the first place comparing?!

Next, the art and animation seems pretty mediocre. Sure, it looks like the game itself but somehow it just doesn’t cut it for the anime. The characters look a little bland and some of the character designs feel a bit outrageous. Like Naruhodo’s hairstyle I thought his hair is made out of car engine inlets or something. No kidding! I thought for him to have a hairstyle like that, his hair needs to be made out of steel. And have you seen Kimiko’s large plume of hair? I thought she can have an ecology of birds living inside it. Even the animation itself isn’t that smooth but since this isn’t an action genre, who cares, right? Oh, did I mention that there is a bit of CGI employed? Why the f*ck do you need CGI when you only relegate them to the jury (or at least the people sitting at the sides)?! That’s right. Unless they are shown up and close, you’ll notice the jarring difference and poor CGI effect of those people on the side.

I know very well that real court cases are not like this. Of course you can say that this is a game and not reality but I can’t help feel inclined to always remind myself that such as being portrayed here isn’t so in real life. Because you must have realized how lax everything is. First of all, almost everyone is such a happy person. See in the opening credits animation of Naruhodo and his team? Everybody’s smiling! Everybody’s cheering! Hooray! Oh come on. Who the f*cks would be happy to come to court unless you know you’re going to win a billion dollar lawsuit. But even so, nobody is going to be this f*cking happy like as though all this is just a game. Oh wait. This is just a video game.

You know how unrealistic the courtroom is when you have witnesses and other people fooling around like as though they’re on some variety show. For example, Ooba keeps fawning over Mitsurugi and isn’t embarrassed to hit on him right in front of everyone! If you do the slightest foolish thing and trying to be just a little funny in court, you can even be charged with contempt of court! So do you see how lax everyone is here? Hey, if Mei can bring a whip in, does this mean I can bring my rare demon slaying sword in too? Then there is also how the lawyers argue and present their cases. Because the entire court case feels like a big show and tell presentation. Uh huh. You bring in a witness to testify, then you show the court the object in contention, then you argue your points and see who has the better contradiction. That’s it. And yeah, what the f*ck are those jury for? Assuming those people at the sides are the jury because why do you need them when it is the judge who makes the verdict? Oh, also notice how these attorneys don’t carry stacks of files? In view of all this, don’t you think the court of law is pretty much lax? So long the truth matters, right?

As for the courtroom layout, I believe it is apparent in some countries that the defence and prosecution don’t face the judge on opposite ends but face each other. I’m fine with that. But notice there are no seats for them? So you expect them to stand there the entire trial duration? Looks like it because that is what they have been doing. You don’t sit down when the other attorney is questioning or explaining. You stand there and listen. Man, don’t you get tired? And to think Harumi needs a box to step so that everyone can see her. And I believe this is the biggest offender of all if you noticed. I understand how longwinded and complex each court case is so the game and this anime might want to simplify it for fun. That’s cool. But do you not notice that the attorneys do not cite a precedent case? There is none! I’m not even a lawyer and somehow I noticed this strange thing that precedents are not quoted anyhow in cases to prove a suspect’s guilt or innocence. Man, if real life courts were this easy, I think I can even feel safe if Naruhodo is my lawyer. No, seriously.

There is a personal peeve that I didn’t like when I watched the anime. I am referring to the localization of all the character’s names. Apparently when the game is adapted to the west, I suppose white people have problem pronouncing Japanese names. So they changed everybody’s name to have a more westernized names. That is why Ryuuichi Naruhodo became Phoenix Wright, etc. If the westernized names sound funny and weird itself, it is because the names in its original Japanese are also weird and mostly revolve around puns. Many people of the western side I heard welcomed the use of localization because these are the names they are used to when they played the game so it makes sense to retain them. However for me who doesn’t play the game, it was confusing at first. Because reading the subtitles and then hearing the original Japanese language of the name complicated my already simpleton mind. It’s tough on my ears and my mind because I’m hearing one thing and then I’m seeing a different thing. And since I am so biased to my Japanese side, all the names in my blog are reverted to the original Japanese names. Hah. Take that! Yeah, I have to Google each time when they introduce a new character just to find out the original name. Heh. Hearing Naruhodo sometimes pronouncing his own name was pretty funny because it means “I see…”.

I’ve talked about everything now let me talk about the characters. Naruhodo as the main titular character is a big fail as a defence lawyer! Like I said, this is a game and simplified court case versions of real life but the way Naruhodo handles each case it makes you wonder if he is well prepared. You see, when the prosecution counters and objects his claims or evidence and Naruhodo has no clues left to counter, you can see him struggling in vain to think. Think, damn it! I know it is to enhance the dramatic effects because it won’t be fun if Naruhodo has all the answers, right? So we see Naruhodo trying to crack his brains for a contradiction or something. Like as though he is praying to God to give him a sign. Yeah, sometimes God descends in the form of his beautiful but dead mentor. If it is not her, then even his rival Mitsurugi later on might point out and give a few hints. But even if Naruhodo manages to salvage it, this won’t be the last time because there will be many times and I mean lots more of similar cornering cases he will have to endure. That is why I am saying if this guy is really prepared for this job and has done his homework.

And sometimes it almost feels like Naruhodo has lady luck on his side but one with a whim. Sometimes when trying to find evidence to ‘get out of a corner’, he looks around and thinks back harder. Conveniently he finds the solution! It shows that he doesn’t know it in the first place! For him to come back like this many times it’s like he has absolutely good luck that is also fickle, right? Yeah well, when you consider Naruhodo who comes to office riding a bicycle (I guess to show us how poor he is) and wearing a mini backpack on his back, don’t you think he looks like an oversized elementary school kid in a suit?! Holy cow! It’s true! No wonder he will always be a rookie.

Mitsurugi feels like a better attorney and although he seems arrogant but I suppose that is why he is the top of his game. But I still don’t understand about him wanting to find the truth in the end. Isn’t that his goal the entire time? So in the end, if Naruhodo and Mitsurugi team up, you can be sure you are screwed. Which is what the final case felt like. It’s like the defence and prosecutor teaming up against you. But that’s the thing. You either do your job or you find the truth. And seeing how lots of things turn out in favour for our heroes eventually, I guess there isn’t going to be any fear of the lawyer profession being tainted. All lawyers here are righteous! Yeah. That will be the day in real life. Then there is Mei whom is more of a b*tch thanks to her constant compulsive habit to crack her whip. She either becomes a lion tamer or go into S&M porn. Haha! With so much anger and focusing on defeating Naruhodo, it’s no wonder why her record fell, right? And even the god of all prosecutors like Karuma will one day fall. To show Mei isn’t some cold hearted angry b*tch and still human underneath that exterior, they reduced her to tears in the end. Ugh. Was it necessary? The biggest irony for all these great lawyers who have never lost a case is that they lost to a rookie who has only recently got his lawyer licence. Yeah, lady luck is really with Naruhodo. Even if Naruhodo lost his first case at the end technically, it was still a big victory because his conscious is still clear.

Mayoi feels predominantly like a useless character because not only she was indicted once for murder, but twice! In almost every arc, she is in some sort of trouble like the one involving the assassin she is kidnapped instead. Man, this girl is trouble. Trouble is her middle name. If she manages to not get in trouble and stay by Naruhodo’s side, she doesn’t do anything much. Sure, Naruhodo is the lawyer and should be the one speaking most of the time. So why the f*ck does she need to be by his side for company in the first place? I know, an excuse to channel Chihiro sometimes. That is just the courtroom. What about outside during on-the-field investigation or just in office? This girl is seen having too much fun. Just because the cases they take up has her favourite character or TV show, yeah I suppose it gives her a reason to frolic around. After all, she is still a kid technically, right? They try to enhance her reputation by making her do something useful in the final case instead of being a useless hostage but if you think about all the things she did, it would be impossible. I mean, how did she know what to record and where the resources are? Come on. I thought she was locked in a single room but she was made to wander about? And the computer is such a vital piece of information you’d think the culprits would at least lock it or not have other files or important documents on it. I mean, how do you hide your porn files on your computer? Am I right?! Seriously, they left it out so openly that Mayoi could even do such an easy job and give our lawyers a clear victory? They deserve to lose then. Harumi doesn’t fare any better but she is not as bad since she is younger and at least less annoying than Mayoi. Maybe it is her cute loli factor…

You have got to agree with me that the judge feels like a joke character. He feels like Santa Claus is having a part time job when Christmas season is out. Haha… I know they want to make him partial since he is after all the judge but I can’t help that sometimes they make him look so silly. And in a way cute. You should see some of his old man facial expression when he is surprised to hear a shocking revelation. Or the pitiful tone he puts up when he hears the witness’ sad account. He does look kinda innocently cute for a bald guy when he looks dumbfounded. If that is not bad enough, seeing him being pushed around by Mei was hilarious enough. I mean, the highest ranking person in the courtroom allows this whipping happy woman get what she wants? Who is she? Does she remind him of Mrs Santa Claus?

But the one that takes the cake of how the judge is just a silly joker is when Chihiro makes her appearance by possessing Mayoi or Harumi. I guess this is the only reason why they bring Chihiro back. For fanservice. Those melons feel like they’re going to bust out any time of that small tight suit fit only for Mayoi. Thankfully Mayoi and Harumi’s clothes are made of stretchable rubber like the Hulk’s pants so it won’t be ripped and can revert back to normal when she leaves without having to outrage the modesty of the minor girls. Anyway, the silliest part is that Mayoi and Chihiro look very different in terms of height and even boobs (duh!). So when she physically takes over somebody’s body, the judge wonders who this busty babe is. Chihiro’s reply? Just your imagination. And he believes it! OMG! OMFG!!! Yeah, must be having a hard day at the court listening to arguments, huh? And yes, who aren’t anybody else bothered that Mayoi ‘transformed’ into Chihiro? Shouldn’t they be shocked and call some paranormal investigators? Oh f*ck. Who cares? Case solved is all that matters.

Another joker character is Itonokogiri. This guy easily falls into the dumb detective category as you can see how sloppy he sometimes do his job. Although he is a good cop and his intentions are always good, you can’t help wonder if he is incompetent seeing the way he does some of the police work. It is amazing he hasn’t got fired probably because he hasn’t made any major blunders. Thank goodness for him. Adding to the running joke of this character is that many people will have the tendency to mispronounce his name because of how longwinded it is. At least by Japanese standards. So they tend to mispronounce it as something else which makes his entire name sound funny and weird. Yahari can also be a joker character but his presence is so minor and forgettable, it makes you wonder why the heck he even bother to show up. I know it’s to support Naruhodo but really, he is forgettable in that sense.

And speaking about lawyers, judges and detectives, at this point when you have watched the end of the anime series, you might have wondered and even asked yourself if the town has no other lawyers, judges and detectives other than them! It’s so true! Because every court case our Santa Claus judge presides them. Because every crime scene that occurs Itonokogiri will be there. Because every other damn suspect needs to have Naruhodo to defend them (so okay, he is the star so it is only right to focus on him) and either prosecuted by Mitsurugi or Mei (or previously Karuma). Are there no other people taking up these professions in this city?! Jesus. Heck, it’s a small world after all when they even had to call the same witness for different cases (Ooba and Natsumi).

Voice acting is pretty decent with Yuuki Kaiji helming the titular character Naruhodo and sounds like any other Yuuki Kaiji character he voiced. Same goes to Aoi Yuuki as Mayoi with her typical cutie pie voice. The rest of the main casts are Masahi Tamaki as Reiji (Reiji Aoi in Kindaichi Shounen series), Saori Yumiba as Mei (Kyouka Iburi in Engage Planet Kiss Dum), Ben Hiura as the judge (Kazuya’s father in Gosick), Masamu Iwasaki as Itonokogiri (Iemitsu in Katekyoushi Hitman Reborn), Chie Nakamura as Chihiro (Sakura in Naruto), Misaki Kuno as Harumi (Serara in Log Horizon), Tooru Nara as Yahari (Nishida in Chihayafuru) and Akio Ohtsuka as Karuma (titular character of Black Jack).

The opening themes are sung by an all-male idol pop group, Johnny’s West. Personally, they sound so gay to me. Well, somehow I think the singing style is pretty much similar to one of the opening themes of Inu Yasha, Change The World. But hearing Gyakuten Winner as the first opening theme and Jinsei Wa Subarashii as the second one, I can’t help feel that they sound almost similarly the same like in the beat and pace. And still gay. At least the ending theme sounds better, Message by Rei Yasuda as the first ending theme is a pop ballad. It’s back to pop idol group for the second ending theme but an all-female one. Junai Chaos by Tokyo Performance Doll sounds energetically decent but nothing that attracts my attention.

Overall, this anime might be cheesy but it is still fun to watch. Because where else are you going to find lawyers who are as easy going as them and making evidence collecting and arguing statements in court look so cool and easy. Not even American legal dramas like Ally McBeal can match them. Not only that, they can prove your client’s innocence or send the perpetrators to prison in no more than 3 trial days! OMG! F*cking record time! So f*cking efficient. Well, that’s because it is part of the game world settings whereby the court has to reach a verdict within 3 days otherwise the backlogs. Which is what is happening in our world, right? You wait like sh*t and then you pay like sh*t. Time and money, that is. It really want to make me go out and shout out to the court systems of the world to follow this style. Objection to the current world’s court system! Matta! Igi ari! Heh. I just felt like saying that for fun.

Danganronpa 3 – Hope Arc

February 10, 2017

To bridge the twin simultaneous series of the Despair Arc and Future Arc, thus we have this special broadcast, Danganronpa 3 – Hope Arc to bring closure and end everything once and for all. Will the world finally be flooded with mindless hope because hope is still hope no matter how you put it. Unless that is like despair in disguise. Oh damn. I’m confused now…

Hope Floats
Hinata is seen by Yukizome’s body. He regrets the terrible things he has done with his power but because of it, he managed to bring everyone else back. Naegi is being cornered and pushed back by the elite force. But the luck of Komaeda has taken them out. It seems the Remnants are back and are now on the good side thanks to Hinata healing them back to normal. They are the ones who also helped dig out Togami’s side from the rubble. We see them display and use their talents fending off the elite force. Then they face Mitarai who is still bent on resetting everything even if it means everyone losing their emotions, etc. He claims he is not strong like them and blames himself that a lot of people died. Hinata doesn’t blame him for thinking that way but doing so means erasing history. Because it is as though they are acting Nanami never existed. Their role as survivors is to atone their sins and carry on living. Mitarai is unsure of what to do since he is always alone. Well, look no further. These guys will always be with him from now on. After a lot of contemplating, crying and breaking down, Mitarai finally finds the courage to stop the broadcast. Now you can let those tears run freely and have a big group hug. That’s a good boy. And everything is resolved without Naegi having to lift a single finger or say a single word.

Naegi returns to base where Togami shows a footage released from Future Foundation. Hinata and the Remnants are claiming responsibility on this since hope is boring and thus bringing to you this despair. Before you jump to conclusions that they are sheep in wolves’ clothing, take note that this is just an act to ‘deceive’ the world and make them think they are behind this so as not to tarnish the good name of Future Foundation. It’s like playing the villain. Nanami is heard talking to Hinata and narrating to us when Hinata entered the New World Programme. An AI was supposed to be created to monitor him which was supposed to be her. However there was no need for all that since there was someone all of them wanted to see again. Since Nanami is able to see all of them, she thinks miracle has won. The ex-Remnants leave the place via ship. Munakata warns Naegi that he is going to be a hero as the world needs one who fought despair. Can he shoulder it? If the ex-Remnants had the burden of carrying despair, then Naegi has the burden of carrying hope. Munakata also has his own burdens to carry then. Tsumiki shows an antidote that Seiko tried creating during the mutual killing game. It’s a medicine that would slow the spread of the wristband’s poison. So guessed who lived? That lucky person who was able to received Tsumiki’s treatment with this antidote is no other than Kirigiri. And this completes our full cycle of hope and not let it end in despair, right? A few months later, we see Naegi’s side rebuilding Hope Academy. Naegi is the headmaster and Kirigiri a teacher.

Hope To See You Again
Erm… Somehow I feel that there are a few parts missing here and there. Because you know, it just doesn’t explain how Hinata return back to his normal state from his super Kamukura form. Maybe there wasn’t much to it. Ushering back the ex-Remnants feel a bit rushed because they need to spend some time giving some drama to Mitarai and end it. So it ends like that? No wonder hope is so boring. And there’s this Nanami’s explanation that I didn’t get at all on how the virtual reality programme works but what the heck, as long as a good happy ending is in sight then everything else doesn’t matter. I was wondering the fate of some of the characters like Monaka because I suppose she is going to be stuck in space forever. What will be of Munakata? How will he pay his respects to Yukizome and Sakakura assuming he isn’t part of the new Hope Peak or whatever academy Naegi wants to call this new future school of his. And where are the ex-Remnants going now? They leave by ship but to where? Are they going to live on an island all by themselves seeing that they have become the bad guys in the eyes of the world? Most likely. Because you can’t blame anybody for trying to kill them seeing them walking in the streets after the despair they have caused.

And the most ‘outrageous’ of all is Kirigiri coming back to life. It feels unfair that only she is the dead one who has to return to life. She is the last person who died from the poison in the wristband but I am not sure how long it was since her death and the end of this entire drama. How long can a human body stay dead and then revive again without having any major damage to the body organs? Kirigiri looks fine to me. As though she woke up from a great sleep. And I believe it hasn’t even been a day since the mutual killings started so if Kirigiri can be resurrected, why not the rest who died from their forbidden actions? Unless you tell me Seiko only made a vial worth for one person. Too bad. But even if you think of it, if Kirigiri was administered the antidote right on time, the poison would have spread quickly throughout her body during that time interval and thus the antidote would be useless in slowing it down. I mean, if this was the case, the rest wouldn’t have died a fast death, right? So it makes no sense. Yeah, this story was written on hope, not logic.

Overall, I feel that this special episode felt a bit lukewarm in trying to end everything on a feel good note. Some bits I felt were not there but maybe they’ll show another special episode to bridge it. You know, like the big battle between Naegi and Enoshima that resulted in the latter’s death. I can only blame myself for expecting a lot after the tense and suspenseful arcs but then again, we’re all weak in our own ways. So from what I learn from what these guys said, we are supposed to accept our weakness and failures because it gives us hope? Well okay. I’m a loser otaku and have always been one for the longest time. Gee, that doesn’t make me feel better and instead just feeling more despair instead. Oh, right. I remember I’m not even a super high school level in anything. Despair seems to be so much more tempting…

If you love the original animated Danganronpa series, then we have good news for you. Make that double good news. Because not only Danganronpa 3 – Future Arc was released as a sequel, it was also aired alongside with another arc (Despair Arc) in the same season and both series run concurrently side by side with each other. Double the fun, double the despair. For this one, as its name suggests it takes place in the future after Naegi and the survivors leave Hope Peak but in the aftermath of fighting the biggest despair incident to have been brought down on mankind. However history seems to repeat itself again as this group of people find themselves in another deadly game of killing for survival. Can Naegi’s hope save the day, world and mankind once again? Can hope be unlimited like despair? Hope has never been much more powerful than prayers… If you find my opening paragraph somewhat similar to my previous blog on this series, well, you’re not seeing double. After all, I watched them simultaneously or rather together.

Episode 1
As narrated, the biggest and most atrocious despair inducing incident happened in human history. These Super High School Level Despairs fought wars that destroyed the world and humanity’s last hope was Future Foundation. They fought a bloody battle and it reached a turning point when Enoshima was killed. Humanity was victorious. However Remnants of Despair continued their activities and the war continued. At a Future Foundation branch, Kazuo Tengan is the chairman and former director of Hope Peak High School. He chairs a meeting with other executives to discuss about Naegi’s betrayal. However the rest end up arguing about the safety of this place since it isn’t on any map and how the Remnants have been increasing their attacks lately. Till Kyousuke Munakata the vice chairman tells them off and to get back on track. It seems Naegi has hid Remnants. Not just ordinary Remnants but million dollar class that served under Enoshima. Some believe Naegi put on a show to kill Enoshima to let their guard down and he was an ally of Despair all along. So when Naegi is ushered in, Juzo Sakakura immediately cuffs him and beats him up. Since he is in no position to be interrogated (thanks for those injuries, Sakakura), the meeting is suspended for the moment as Chisa Yukizome treats him. She also talks to him why he shielded those Remnants. Naegi isn’t sure but he thought at one point they had hope before falling into despair. She cautious that you can’t defeat the Remnants by being nice and that’s why they need Munakata’s decisiveness. After Kirigiri bumps into Ryouta Mitarai who is supposed to meet Tengan for the meeting, something rocks the building. They believe Remnants are attacking the place as all entries and exits are sealed off. Furthermore, all security guards are found dead in the bathroom. Once everyone gathers in the meeting room, a smoke bomb is dropped in and everyone immediately passes out. When they wake up, each of them has a wristband with a timer. A familiar laughter is heard. It is Monokuma on the monitor. Is he still alive? He ‘thanks’ everyone for Remnants’ losing streak and thus this is his way of ‘thanking’ them. They are going to play a game to kill each other. Of course nobody is going to play this game as they are all allies. It is then Munakata realizes Yukizome is missing. Then they realize her dead body stuck up in the chandelier! Monokuma adds that his killing game will determine the fate of humanity as well as the conclusion to the story of Naegi and Monokuma.

Episode 2
Monokuma explains the rules. Once the timer runs out, a sleep inducing drug will put them to sleep. However one will wake up and pick somebody to kill. So if everyone manages to find and kill the killer, the next time they sleep and wake up and nobody dies, they win the game. Also, everyone has an action they cannot perform on their wristband or else a lethal poison will be released. They also cannot take off or destroy it or else the same will be done. Good luck and Godspeed. Miaya Gekkogahara tries to hack into Monokuma but got her avatar in which she speaks through hacked instead. It seems the system is perfectly guarded from outside but somebody hacked it from inside. This further proves one among them is the traitor. Sakakura believes Naegi is the one and tries to force him to admit. Asahina defends him and he too gets violent but since Mitarai advises him not be violent on girls, he got beaten up instead. That is when Daisaku Bandai suddenly dies. His weakness is that he cannot witness violence. Of course the best course is to check everyone’s weakness but many are against of letting it be known for fear of being used against them. Munakata then has everyone pinpoint the killer. Majority votes for Naegi. Munakata tells Naegi that if he hates despair, kill himself. Since he won’t, Sakakura and Munakata are going to kill him but Great Gozu won’t let this injustice happen as he fends them off. Kirigiri releases a smoke bomb to let Asahina and Naegi escape. Asahina has to carry him and run since his weakness is that he cannot run. Gozu and Gekkogahara side with Naegi and Asahina as they fight off persistent Munakata and then lose him. It is nearly nap time as everyone scatters throughout the building. Naegi and Asahina are hiding and she is scared this killing is going to happen all over again like last time. Naegi gives her hope to trust his super luckiness. They overcame this before and know each other better this time. Nap time comes and goes. When Naegi wakes up, he finds his fist bloodied and Asahina dead.

Episode 3
Well guess what? Asahina’s blood is tomato sauce and the knife in her stomach is just a toy. Phew, right? So who got killed then? GOZU!!!!!! The plan now is to talk to everyone and Naegi can do so if he goes to the broadcast room in which Gekkogahara has regained some control over the hacking. Naegi notices Gekkogahara’s odd way of travelling in her wheelchair. He realizes her weakness is that she cannot turn right. Gekkogahara fears for her life but Naegi assures he will not disclose her secret and shows his. Asahina also shows them hers: She cannot get punched or kicked. Thinking somebody is nearby, Asahina and Gekkogahara become decoys so Naegi can carry on. He informs everyone of Gozu’s death and explains why he helped Remnants. Before they were driven to despair, they were ordinary students till they met Enoshima. Thus Naegi helped them by using a virtual rehabilitation programme, New World to restore their memories before Enoshima implanted despair in them. He talks about the need to trust each other. He is going to abandon this game. By telling everyone his weakness? Well, logically if he was the killer he wouldn’t do that, right? Of course Munakata despite calling it a fine speech finds it hollow because Naegi speaks of hope but doesn’t know true despair. We take a short detour to see Seiko Kimura having some bone to pick with the couple Ruruka Andou and Sounosuke Izayoi. Both sides accuse each other of being traitors as Seiko chases the couple down. Beast mode? As expected Munakata finds Naegi to kill him despite the latter pleading he doesn’t want to fight. As allies they should talk. Munakata chides him he doesn’t know what true despair is and he won the last time because it was a game based on Enoshima’s rules. Therefore Naegi is much more dangerous as behind his words are not hope but despair. Munakata believes in power. That is why he will make many victims as it takes to destroy despair even if it means his own death. If Naegi’s words have power, stop his sword then. Alas his shallow hope cannot stop his sword.

Episode 4
Sakakura attacks Kirigiri’s group since he believes all those associated with Naegi are traitors. However he is taken out by Tengan. Not bad for an old man. Asahina and Gekkogahara reunite with Kirigiri’s group. Mitarai feels useless and guilty as he partially injured Kirigiri during the fight. They tell him he need not be like Naegi. Just be himself. Munakata then announces he has captured Naegi and will execute him. Kirigiri knows this is a trap to lure the killer because he would have killed Naegi already. True enough, this is Munakata’s plan as he explains the rest to Naegi. He is very sure Naegi is not the killer. The worst outcome for this game is not everyone being wiped out by the killer. Because the killer would have killed everyone in one go if that was the case. Imagine if Munakata dies and nobody else is killed. Normally one would think Munakata is the killer. However there is no way of ascertaining that. This would mean the killer would easily infiltrate Future Foundation, pose as a top executive and spread despair in the name of hope. They will be controlling Future Foundation from the shadows while using Naegi as a tool to achieve their means. Tengan attacks Munakata and fights him so Asahina could rescue Naegi and take him to a safe place. Meanwhile Kirigiri and Mitarai are re-examining Yukizome’s corpse. The chase between Seiko and the couple is still ongoing. Both blame each other for their expulsion from Hope Peak. Munakata and Tengan’s fight ends in a bloody draw. Well, not actually. When they fall off the level, Tengan was pierced by a metal rod. Seeing Tengan’s resolve has made Munakata to admit he was wrong and changed his mind. He wants to know what he is thinking. Sakakura is hot on the heels of Naegi. Seeing neither Naegi nor Asahina can fight properly, Gekkogahara faces off with him. However he kicks her off her wheelchair. It seems Gekkogahara is just a robot and the real person is controlling her from somewhere.

Episode 5
Flashback reveals Seiko, Ruruka and Izayoi were friends when they were young. Ruruka was impressed by her medicine talent. However Seiko cannot eat any sweets or sugar as she has some medical condition that would kill her. This insulted Ruruka in a way since the only thing good she can do is make sweets. Over the years we see Seiko becoming Ruruka’s errand girl all in the name of friendship. Meanwhile Munakata once believed Tengan used to be stronger till he became a coward. He replies about Munakata’s naivety in thinking if he wipes out all Remnants, he can rid the world of despair. War alone cannot extinguish despair. That is why Kamakura Project was initiated. Munakata thinks Tengan is part of Remnants since this means he was the attacker. Ruruka has figured out Seiko’s weakness as she has Izayoi get some weapon (in which he discovers some secret entrance). From the way Seiko acts, she knows her weakness is for someone to step on her shadow. Ruruka can help Seiko if she eats her sweet. Of course Seiko refuses citing her condition. But Ruruka still refuses to believe that. In that case, kill Munakata. She thinks if he dies, this whole mess will end. Of course Seiko can’t do that too. When she was expelled from Hope Peak, he helped her. Seiko devours more pills to become a super ferocious beast as she takes out all the lights and then hunt down Ruruka. But their chase ended up getting caught in Sakakura’s fight with Asahina and Naegi. It gets messier when Gekkogahara returns to fire her missile. Kirigiri continues her corpse investigation to find the killer’s pattern. Tengan refutes he is a Remnant. Munakata takes his answer as that he knows the killer’s identity. For suspense, we don’t get to hear what the old man says and we see Munakata’s shock reaction. Tengan reveals his weakness: Answer questions with a lie. But Munakata won’t waver and cuts him down. Not before Tengan quickly blinds his right eye with the metal rod. As nap time is around the corner, Seiko laments how things with Ruruka turned out this way. All she wanted was a friend and did her bidding because she trusted her only to realize she was being used. Unfortunately she’ll never get to know because she became the killer’s next victim.

Episode 6
Munakata remembers his past. Just after he, Yukizome and Sakakura graduate, he tells them his plans to expand Hope Peak to overseas since there are many bad rumours about Hope Peak as an organization. When he comes back, he wants Sakakura to take over security and Yukizome to forge ties and contacts as a teacher. Making the world a better place is not his dream. It is his plan. And now Munakata might feel his plan might be a little dashed so he stabbed his sword into Yukizome’s chest? Trying to make sure she is really dead? I knew it would be too good to be true when Naegi is shocked that Kirigiri became the next victim. It was just a dream. I hope it isn’t a foreboding of something. Kouichi Kizakura follows Kirigiri and Mitarai in examining the bodies. Then they stumble upon Izayoi’s body. Making it puzzling is that Seiko’s body is also found. Is the killer breaking the rules? Ruruka is saddened her boyfriend is gone. She pleads them to take her into their group as she is a useless person. Okay. But Kirigiri will have her help them out with their investigation. Gekkogahara connects to the security cameras to find the next victim. Naegi breaks down when he sees Tengan’s body. This hopeful guy just fell into despair. He thought all he did was for nothing. Ironically Gekkogahara gives him hope that everything will be fine in the end. There is also an ‘encouraging’ note left behind by Tengan supposedly for Naegi entrusting the future to him.

When Asahina notes how she hates the game and the rules they have to stick with, it then hit Naegi they don’t have to play this game. But how can they get out if all exits are sealed? Have someone from the outside make one! Gekkogahara sets up her system trying to connect outside. It is Togami who picks up the line. Apparently he doesn’t know there is this killing game going on. There is no worldwide broadcast as claimed by Monokuma. After hearing Naegi’s story, he lets him know that a spy he sent reported that Future Foundation’s peacekeeping squad is headed towards Jabberwock Island. It means Munakata had intended to kill everyone on that island regardless of the meeting’s outcome. Since the squad only answers to Munakata, there might be a connection with what is happening at the branch and on the island. Togami has also sent his forces to the island and he will personally be on his way to Naegi. After the call ends, Togami’s subordinate wonders why he didn’t tell Naegi the truth. Because the real Gekkogahara is dead and the one with them is an imposter. Togami’s reason is that because she is close to Naegi, it might put him in danger if he were to expose her. The best thing now is to let her be and strike the one behind this. He believes the only Remnants who can do this is Monaka Towa who is hiding in Towa City. Fortunately for Togami, Fukawa and Naegi’s little sister, Komaru are there.

Episode 7
We see Monaka giving her eulogy at Enoshima’s funeral. She is blaming Naegi for this. Claiming there is still hope for despair (oh, the irony), Monaka will become Enoshima’s successor and drive Future Foundation and the world to despair. Komaru and Fukawa are pushing forward fighting an army of Monokuma troops. Komaru narrates she is neither hope nor despair but just an ordinary girl who got separated from her brother during that greatest incident. She has been waiting in this town like a video game and waiting for Naegi to end the war. The duo barge into Monaka’s tower and see Monaka on a monitor as she proclaims to bring despair to Naegi. As she sends her robots to surround them, suddenly and surprisingly she surrenders! She knows too well that somehow hope always wins. She’s done with this and detonates the place! At least half the building is still standing. Komaru and Fukawa then find the real Monaka bumming around in her filthy Monokuma trailer room. They are shocked that Monaka doesn’t want to play this despair thing anymore. It’s embarrassing. She reveals she is not the one behind the killing game at Future Foundation’s branch and although she did kill Gekkogahara, it was just to see Naegi up close and personal. She was the one that did the murder prank on Asahina. When Monaka heard Naegi talk about hope and despair a while ago, it made her realize she didn’t want to end up like him and is done with despair. Although she doesn’t know who the culprit is behind this game, what she does know is that because of Naegi, one of the survivors of Enoshima’s killing game will die. She will not say who. Monaka is bored with life on Earth and decides to head off and live in space. Blasting away into the sky! At first Fukawa wanted to follow her to squeeze more info out of her but Komaru wants them to go back. She cites Togami’s name as a good reason. You want Fukawa to do things? Always cite that guy’s name. While they think Monaka doing nothing is a form of despair, Komaru believes once she is bored staying in her room, she’ll come back. Komaru manages to hack into Gekkogahara’s system to inform Naegi about Monaka’s warning. Fukawa does the same to Togami.

Episode 8
Once the transmission ends, Gekkogahara acts like a robot. Naegi and Asahina try to leave but stumble into Munakata. If not for Gekkogahara combining with her wheelchair into some mech to fight him, the duo might not have a chance to escape. Kirigiri is still looking at every inch of the room for hints. Kizakura just dismantled all the traps set by Izayoi in the room. Because Ruruka is seemingly clumsy, Kizakura vaguely hints about her trying to form her own breakaway group in Future Foundation. Sakakura enters the room hell bent on killing Kirigiri. Kizakura fights him and manages to let him step on a trap and wound him. Kizakura’s sharp observation notes that this former boxer has been attacking using everything except his fists. Could it be his forbidden action restricts him from attacking with his bare hands? In exchange, Kizakura tells his own forbidden action: He cannot open his left hand. It must remain closed/clenched. When Kirigiri resumes he investigation, Ruruka lets off a bomb that would have sent her dropping down and to her death had not Kizakura used his hands to grab and pull her up. Oh. Did he just open his left hand? Damn. And another one bites the dust. Ruruka is going to kill all of them as she makes Sakakura eat her chocolates that will control his mind. However he fights and resists against it. Watching Ruruka’s actions, Kirigiri has deduced she was the one who killed Izayoi. He died of his own forbidden actions. It was made to look like he died via the killer’s knife. However all victims had an embedded stab in their hearts. There was none on Izayoi. It is believed Ruruka used the knife from Seiko for this deception. Kirigiri even went as far as to taste Izayoi’s saliva and tasted something sweet. Who else is a master of cooking and close enough to him? She reveals a secret door behind the shelves from the way the marks the furniture was dragged. It is believed to be an exit. Thus Ruruka’s forbidden action is for anyone who leaves the game. So when Izayoi found it, Ruruka must have panicked. Sakakura tries to open the door and leave as Ruruka desperately tries to stop him. Kirigiri and Mitarai didn’t join in helping to open the door but head out of the room. Togami has arrived outside the building. Hagakure must be happy to see him seeing we’ve seen him running around like a clown and his luck managed to still keep him alive from all the attacks. After setting the explosives, they blast away the rubble. A member carelessly activates a trap that sends the building sinking.

Episode 9
Sakakura opens the door but realizes he still can’t get out because they’re underwater! Kirigiri tells Mitarai that the secret exit was fake. This might be an identical space below and not the original room they were in above ground. When they were knocked out the first time, they were moved to the identical part below. Whoever did this must sure put in a hell lot of effort to move everyone. Kirigiri knows this because she observed some of the damage marks in earlier rooms were missing when the killing game started. She suspects Munakata as the main culprit because he was the one who designed this facility and she notices the game rules favour him the most. Kirigiri and Mitarai reunite with Naegi and Asahina. Naegi sounds like he is starting to lose faith so Kirigiri gives him the much needed motivation to continue being hope. After Munakata slashes Gekkogahara into half, he reunites with Sakakura. After a short talk about their ideals and past endeavours, Munakata then stabs him! Then he blames despair for killing him… WTF. Ruruka has witnessed Sakakura’s murder. Although scared, she thinks he deserved being betrayed. Flashback shows Izayoi after discovering the secret exit, went to seal it up and set lots of traps so no one can find it as he knew Ruruka’s forbidden action. He promised he would never betray her and assured he cares more about her than himself. Naturally Ruruka is still scared so how to you really ensure Izayoi won’t betray her? Betray him first! While they were passionately kissing, she slips a sweet into his mouth knowing his forbidden action is putting food in his mouth. Izayoi didn’t hate her and continued to love her till his last breath. It is sleeping time again. Naegi and co barricade themselves but Kirigiri thinks it won’t do them any good since the culprit has full control over the playing field. But whatever happens, she tells Naegi never to lose hope. Sleeping time is over. Ruruka has become the latest victim. So this means Naegi is alive. Yay! Mitarai is alive. Hooray! Asahina is alive. Yahoo! Kirigiri… Hey, she’s not getting up. OMFG! SHE’S DEAD!!! Death by her own forbidden action?! That is, passing the fourth time limit with Naegi alive. That doesn’t sound fair. Naegi is in despair when Munakata contacts him. He should have known of Kirigiri’s forbidden action by now. He mocks this is why his hope is useless. It is time to settle whose hope is right.

Episode 10
Although Naegi puts on a brave face, he understands Kirigiri never said anything about this for she knows he will panic and run around to help her out, losing sight of his goal. The only thing he can do now is to face off with Munakata and settle this once and for all. The cat and mouse game begins as Naegi seems to be luring him into a certain room. It looked like Naegi has taken a beating and is going to be cut by his sword but he stops short. Naegi knows his forbidden action. He has observed the times he has chased him and all. Munakata cannot open doors. So if he kills him here now, he will be trapped in this room. Naegi wants to talk and cooperate but Munakata is not convinced. He will wipe out all despair even if it means sacrificing. Naegi disagrees that is not hope. All he is ever looking at is despair. Even if he gets rid of despair, that itself won’t create hope. Munakata reveals Tengan told him the truth. There is more than one killer. Everybody in Future Foundation is a killer! It made Munakata realize that Yukizome was also tainted with despair. There was a photo of kids being massacred and she was in despair who did this. When in actual fact it was her who did it. When did she first get tainted with despair? That is why he will rid of despair even if it is only a memory. Naegi disagrees again and doesn’t want him to say that he’ll rid of others like Yukizome. He gives example had Kirigiri turned into despair and betrayed everyone and had Naegi had no choice but to kill her, no matter what he would still be glad to have met her. I guess those are the winning words because Munakata’s scream of despair could only mean that, right? As the guys sit and cool themselves down, Munakata can only lament when did they go wrong. Asahina then comes in to tell them to stop killing each other because she has found out who the killer is.

Episode 11
According to Kirigiri’s notes on her observations, she believes the victims killed themselves and it has something to do with the monitors. Naegi tests this out as he is tied up and placed next to a monitor before the next sleeping session comes into effect. Naegi then wakes up first and sees a pre-recorder video of Monokuma on the monitor. He watches some weird crap sh*t on the video and the next thing he knows, he is hallucinating and sees his dead pals from the first season. All blaming him and then tempting him to come over to their side. Naegi goes crazy as he picks up a knife dropped from the monitor and tries to kill himself. Luckily he is stopped and snapped out by Sakakura. Why is he still awake? He cut of his hand! Bloody! Naegi explains that the killer is actually the victim committing suicide. When everyone is asleep, the monitor detects the one closest via the wristband and wakes him/her up to watch a brainwashing video before committing suicide. Naegi wants his help to destroy all the monitors. Is he crazy? Does he know how many there are? Sakakura is not going to do it. He tells Naegi he hated him because he defeated Enoshima who once brainwashed him. He knew she was evil but never reported to him and this is the result. In the end, he believes Munakata abandoned him for that. When the rest wake up and learn of this, Munakata believes the only one who can set all this up is Tengan. Because he is the true Remnants. It is hard to believe that old guy is the culprit as Munakata continues that his team were once investigating Enoshima and all evidence pointed to her as the evil. But Munakata heard from Sakakura and Yukizome that she isn’t evil and he believed them despite he knew better otherwise. That is when Tengan took advantage of their weakness. Sakakura is at the breaker room and turns off the power, cutting electricity to the monitors and releasing the wristbands. OMG. That simple?! Why didn’t somebody think of this in the first place?! Naegi tells Munakata to go to Sakakura. Even though he abandoned him, Sakakura still believe in him to get him out of this game. By the time he arrives, too late to apologize to a dead body. In the aftermath, Naegi asks Mitarai about the videos because it seems as a super animator only he can make this. Mitarai is fraught with guilt but insists he didn’t do it but Enoshima stole his technology. Suddenly Mitarai gets a call from Tengan!

Episode 12
Many years before, Yukizome passed a USB containing the video that brainwashed the Remnants to Tengan. She lies she has never seen its contents. He took and kept it. Now, that call from Tengan is a pre-recorded video of him admitting he is the mastermind of this! Mitarai falls into despair as he explains how all this came to. It was his brainwashing video. He ran away then but now he won’t. Now he is going to put an end to this by showing the world another brainwashing video filled with hope. Fighting fire with fire? He can do it now since his forbidden action was the use of his talent. It seems Mitarai disagrees with Naegi’s way in overcoming despair as the former believes despair as long as it exists, humans will repeat this tragedy. He makes Asahina watch his brainwashing video and orders her to stop Naegi. Mitarai stumbles into the special forces, has them watch his video, spread it to others as well as a special order to eliminate those who gets in his way. Naegi could have been done for but Munakata saves him and hears him out. It is then Naegi realizes Tengan isn’t one of the Remnants. So he setup this elaborate mutual killing to force Mitarai into doing this? Also, the killings aren’t broadcast outside. Naegi remembers Mitarai wasn’t supposed to be in the meeting. That’s why Tengan was a bit surprised. Had Mitarai know there was going to be mutual killings, he would have used the video. Also, all the hopeful things Tengan said weren’t directed towards Naegi but Mitarai. They deduce Mitarai is going to eliminate all negative emotions with his broadcast. He is making his way to the annex where he can broadcast his video to the entire world in 30 minutes. Naegi and co rush there but are obstructed by the special forces. Now we take a detour to Enoshima and Yukizome commenting on everything. It’s like a cinema for dead people? So Enoshima explains about Tengan’s actions and the main cause of Tengan and Munakata’s hostility boiled down to their interpretations of despair. The source was Yukizome because she told Munakata to eliminate despair. There are clips of Naegi trying to ‘repair’ the Remnants in his secret location via brainwashing virtual reality but he was summoned to Future Foundation before he could learn the results. Even if Mitarai is successful, Future Foundation’s image is tarnished and nobody is going to follow it. So Enoshima thinks. She is glad despair did a good job. But Yukizome still believes even though their future is over, this is the beginning of hope. Not that Enoshima cares. They’re dead, right? Cornered Naegi is saved by bumbling Hagakure. He even suggests they surrender! Till Togami comes in and has his efficient MIBs take out the squad! Seeing Naegi in a pinch, he taunts if he is really that lucky.

Hopelessly Hopeful
Oh wait a minute. You mean it ended on a cliff-hanger? Just like that Despair arc too? Oh, I see. Looks like they are going to link up the finale with that hope arc. The final episode that converges and ends everything. I guess it is not that bad then but as far as this particular season and arc goes, I would say it is rather intriguing and fascinating overall.

Following the first season’s formula of mutual killings, this season still feels interesting since they bring in a new bunch of faces and mix old ones who survived the last killing game. The fun on my part was to guess who was going to go next while trying to also predict the culprit behind it all. Of course I know certain main characters would last longer or if not survive the ordeal. But I could never be too sure of myself either because I keep thinking that they might add and throw in some twist or revelation that the real killer is somebody else hiding outside the game (or somewhere inside the building’s super secret room) or it could be just straightforward fashion that the perpetrator could be among them.

A theory of mine for saying so is because when this arc is first introduced, there is a counter in the opening credits that always keeps track of how many players are left in the field. It started off with 16 survivors. However as I started to count and trace who those 16 players are, there seems to be one there is missing. I mean, as far as I can count and name, there are only 15 of them trapped in the building playing this deadly game. So could this extra unknown person be the real perpetrator? It’s not like we viewers would actually count who is left, right? Or do we? This is true even in the penultimate episode as it gets clearer with the reduced number of survivors. There seems to be 1 extra player but who is that person? It made me think if this was even a troll because maybe that additional person could be Hagakure who has been kept out of the building since the start of the series. Or could that other person be Monaka who is controlling Gekkogahara? Even if the android personality got destroyed, it only reduced the survivor count by one. My guess is Hagakure since his mug is alongside the other Future Foundation members in many promotion posters.

Some of the theories feel like impossible and do not make sense like Kirigiri deducing that the entire playfield is actually another very similar level below the actual building. Assuming that if Tengan was the perpetrator, how the heck can this old fart move everyone in record time without breaking his back? Well, everybody here is a super at something so it is not surprise maybe he can pull off such feat. Plus, we don’t really know how long time has passed since they passed out the first time. Then the forbidden actions on the wristbands, I wonder how it sophistically detects forbidden actions because like Bandai’s case he dies if he witnesses violence by the participants. How is violence defined? Can slapping be considered violence? Some I feel can be easily bypassed like if Munakata cannot open doors, can he just use his trusty sword to cut down the wall and make his own doors? Yeah, maybe the walls are so hard that he couldn’t. Otherwise he would have cut a hole outside and escape. Oh, they can’t. Underwater.

The most ridiculous of them all is cutting off the power to somewhat end the game. To be fair, nobody knew the monitors had anything to do with the wristbands at first but when you think about it, you can’t help feel it is just silly yet simple solution. I guess when everybody is busy killing each other, they don’t really think outside the box. Of course the mind boggling one was Tengan himself being the mastermind. So he orchestrated this mutual killing just to make Mitarai use his video? It’s such a simple thing. People had to die so that somebody would use his brainwashing talents to save the world? So this old fart is playing the role of the villain? He sure trolled us by making us think so and that he might be the final last boss till the twist in the twist surfaced. I guess it is the question of if you want to save many, a few must be sacrificed. So will Mitarai be the final last boss now? I suppose it is not good just to have all positive emotions. Because that itself is not being human.

I am not sure whether to call it spoilers or knowledge beforehand because since this arc is aired side by side with the Despair arc, many of the revelations and the character backgrounds are related. Therefore if you watch this series without watching the Despair arc at the same time, you might be confused to some of the characters’ background. For instance, the ‘complicated’ relationship between Ruruka, Seiko and Izayoi. Their story might feel like a filler and distraction to the main plot of this arc since you need to know all about the character they died. It’s like a death flag or something. But if you don’t watch the Despair arc, you won’t really understand why they hate each other.

Therefore many of the other characters’ back story and relationship greatly depend on the other concurrently running arc that tells of what happened in the past that led to the situation that is of now. It goes without saying that you need to have watched the first Danganronpa series to understand what is going on too otherwise you would be lost as the series progresses. But some like Monaka’s case feels like distraction. It was just an elaborate sidetrack to show us that there was somebody else behind Gekkogahara and to give Naegi’s little sister as well as Togami’s insane admirer some screen time.

The art and animation style remains consistent among the series. But for this one, I find the character designs to be less weird than the rest. You know, very odd looking characters that make them look cartoonish. By far, the oddest looking one was Bandai whom I thought looked creepy himself. Thank goodness he got killed off early? Gozu despite wearing a metal bull mask isn’t so bad. Oh, not to mention the pink coloured blood, one of the series’ trademark. Everything is so dark and gory so why the heck not liven it up with bright pink? And when I mean dark, some of the scenes are really dark since like the hallways and some ruined sections of the building.

Seiyuus from the previous season like Megumi Ogata as Naegi, Youko Hikasa as Kirigiri and Chiwa Saito as Asahina return to reprise their roles. Among the new casts, the weirdest one I find is Rie Kugimiya as Bandai. I know this farmer guy looks weird already but it is even weirder when he sounds all so squeaky! I don’t know if it is a good thing when he got killed off early because I don’t think I can get used to hearing him in his squeaky voice throughout the season. Recognizable seiyuus new to the line-up include Junichi Suwabe as Sakakura, Keiji Fujiwara as Kizakura and Mai Nakahara as Yukizome. Aya Hirano was behind Monaka? I guess I haven’t heard her in a long time (the most recent being Fairy Tail’s recent season) so I’m starting to forget…

The rest of the new line-up include Toshiyuki Morikawa as Munakata (Naraku in Inu Yasha), Hidekatsu Shiba as Tengan (Igneel in Fairy TailKanta), Hongou as Mitarai (Sakamoto in BTOOOM), Takako Sasuga as Gekkogahara (Hata-bou in Osomatsu-kun), Kenta Miyake as Gozu (Klaus in Hayate No Gotoku), Inori Minase as Ruruka (Nagisa in Jitsu Wa Watashi Wa), Takuya Eguchi as Izayoi (Hikigaya in Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru), Saki Fujita as Seiko (Inami in Working) and Aya Uchida as Komaru (Kotori in Love Live). Both the opening and ending themes are rock based with Dead Or Lie by Maon Kurosaki featuring Trustrick as the opener and Recall The End by Trustrick as the ending theme.

Overall, this is a great and enjoyable series especially if you like survivor genres and a fan of the Danganronpa series. I read certain comments online (read: fan boys of the game) call the anime adaptation a disappointment because certain parts were rushed and how bad its execution was. Personally I didn’t play the game so I can’t compare. Therefore for me not knowing ‘everything’, this adaptation is still interesting in its own right and I am quite satisfied with the series generally (except maybe how it ended and you need to watch another arc to complete it). So look who’s fallen into despair? It makes you wonder if hope and despair are 2 sides of the same coin. The same glass is half full or half empty expression. Both need each other to exist, like light and darkness, yin and yang. So it might get a little confusing in this series when they talk about hope killing hope and despair killing despair. It’s like saying two wrongs make a right. I guess we can only hope the next instalment would be better and the greatest (if there would be any). Where is a super high school level game developer when you need one?

If you love the original animated Danganronpa series, then we have good news for you. Make that double good news. Because not only Danganronpa 3 – Despair Arc was released as a sequel, it was also aired alongside with another arc (Future Arc) in the same season and both series run concurrently side by side with each other. Double the fun, double the despair. For this one, as its name suggests it takes place as the prequel before Naegi’s class entered the deadly survival game and details the events that led to the biggest despair incident to have been brought down on mankind. If you have not watched the original Danganronpa series, be warned there will be some spoilers here since this is a prequel.

Episode 1
Chisa Yukizome is being hired by Hope Peak’s principal, Jin Kirigiri as a teacher. She starts her first day enthusiastic but finds there are only 5 students turned up: Hiyoko Saionji (super traditional dancer – bratty girl), Mahiru Koizumi (photographer – normal girl), Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu (gangster – wait, WTF?!), Sonia Nevermind (princess – wait, huh?) and Mikan Tsumiki (health committee – hentai potential). Seeing how the class don’t get along well, Yukizome as the former super housekeeper decides to bring them along as they go retrieve their other classmates. In the toilet Nekomaru Nidai (team manager – his sh*t is so powerful it blasts through the wall!), in the cafeteria Teruteru Hanamura (cook – also super masochist), in the field Akane Owari (gymnastics – also a glutton), in the garage Kazuichi Soda (mechanic – sorry, Sonia doesn’t love you), in the animal shed Tanaka the Forbidden One (animal raiser – chuunibyou), in the music room Ibuki Mioda (rocker – is she rocking her guitar or cooking?), in the dojo Peko Pekoyama (swordswoman – don’t mess with her) and at the vending machine Nagito Komaeda (lucky – or is that unlucky?). Seeing the class is dirty, Yukizome has them clean the class while she goes pick up a couple of more missing students. One of them is Ryouta Mitarai (animator – chubby) who is trying to run away thinking she is the editor trying to force the deadline on him. Last is Chiaki Nanami (gamer) who is somehow with Hajime Hinata who is a student of the Reverse Course that was newly established last year. This course is for ordinary students but the fees are high. Hinata laments he wished to have a talent but Nanami says it doesn’t make a difference whether you have it or not. In fact ordinary people like them have greater freedom than those with talent because like for her, all she has are her games. With her students assembled (and the class clean as hell too), Yukizome is revved up that she can retrieve them the same day tomorrow. Later Yukizome calls Kyousuke Munakata to tell him she got a teaching job at Hope Peak. She assures him she will be okay without him since Munakata is planning to expand Hope Peak to overseas and won’t be around. She is grateful to this school as it allowed her to meet him.

Episode 2
Yukizome thought she has everything under control till she gets a call her class is in trouble. Owari and Nidai are fighting each other and ripping the class apart! But since they say it is for realistic combat training, she lets them continue. Nanami leaves the class believing she doesn’t mix with them since her super gaming skills will set her for life. But Yukizome advises her to make friends as it will be more fun to play with everyone. Yukizome is also doing a secret investigation for Munakata on Reverse Course. As these students pay very high fees, these funds are channelled to the board of trustees that controls the school. The issue is how the money is being used. Munakata has her investigate more as he notes if the overseas expansion is successful, it will give him a better voice. Later Yukizome talks to Hinata about why he enrols in Reverse Course. However he has low self esteem so she tells him to believe in himself. Subsequently the school’s advisor, Kazuo Tengan talks to him if he has made his decision. Not yet. Tengan is against that project because hope comes from people acting like people. Hinata is concerned his family cannot pay the high fees so Tengan tells him he can always decline and return to his normal high school and live as himself. There is nothing wrong being normal. When Yukizome returns to class, she sees everyone playing video games. Everyone chipped in to make the necessary as Nanami brought her games. She is glad that Yukizome was right that she can make friends via games. With everyone having their go at Nintendo rip-offs, Hanamura then cooks for everyone. Can’t play for hours on an empty stomach, can you? However Saionji cheekily puts Hanamura’s sexy potion into the soup and this turns everyone horny! Steamy scenes, gay scenes, lesbian scenes and sexual subtexts! It gets out of hand when Hanamura is about to rape Saionji but Nanami saves her with her super uppercut. What has Taylor Swift got to do with this?! The girls praise Nanami recuperating in the infirmary as she happily relates her uppercut inspiration from Double Dragon. Next day, Yukizome makes Nanami as the class rep. Everyone unanimously agrees so she agrees to give it a try. It lifts her spirits that she goes to invite Hinata to play a game with her. Next day in Hinata’s class, Natsumi Kuzuryu is the new transfer student. She starts off as a b*tch as you can tell how she badmouths everyone as trash and thinks highly of herself.

Episode 3
Hinata narrates his dream of attending Hope Peak. In class, Natsumi teases him since he is constantly looking at the main building. She proclaims herself as the super little sister since her brother is the heir of the Kuzuryu Gang. But if she is here, does that mean she is talentless? She hasn’t given up yet and will do what it takes to get into the main course. Natsumi is then confronted by fellow classmate, Sato who hates her guts to the very end as she warns not to pull off some sneaky move on Koizumi (seems the trio were once in the same photography club). Natsumi is not cowed as she badmouths and even threatens her with death. Typical gangster move, right? Koizumi comes by to quell the tension but even so Natsumi gives out her threats and make it sound like Koizumi is here to mock talentless people. Fuyuhiko talks to Pekoyama about his sister’s problem. He doesn’t want to jump to conclusions yet and reminds her that they have nothing between them now since enrolling here. Pekoyama is Fuyuhiko’s bodyguard and hitman. Hinata sees Sato and Natsumi arguing again. Sato is about to hit her for yet another badmouth rant but Hinata stops her. Hinata talks to Natsumi about her intimidation as he tries to advise her using Nanami’s words about life is more to just talent. But Natsumi disagrees although Hinata knows how it feels for being left behind. Apparently being with her brother and making memories with him aren’t just enough. She wants to stand by his side and be with him. Later, Hinata sees a commotion around the building and the police have barricaded the place. It seems Natsumi has been murdered in the music room!

Hinata eavesdrop Koizumi talking to Sato if she has killed Natsumi. At first Sato really wanted to kill her because she believed Natsumi was going to do kill Koizumi. However she realizes she has no talent to even kill people. So that’s that. Koizumi believes her. Hinata then confronts Sato about it but she starts panicking cooking up theories like Natsumi might have killed herself for being talentless. Then she goes crazy and runs away. Sato never turned up to class for a few days. Then her body was found. Hinata tries to enter the main building to speak to Koizumi for answers but is stopped by the head security, Juzo Sakakura. He is given an answer what happened but it felt like the authorities is trying to sweep the problem under the rug. When Hinata becomes resistant, he is beaten up. Sakakura continues to badmouth talentless people like him by making it up with money and they should just live a normal life instead of thinking they have some sort of talent. Hinata disagrees with his train thought and before Sakakura could punch him, Yukizome gets in the way. After Hinata leaves, Sakakura reminds her about her mission and shouldn’t be too involved with such normal students. Even so, Yukizome believes that was just pure violence and she should stop him as a human. He shouldn’t beat up students who don’t know anything. Sakakura warns if he digs in too much, he will be the one dying. They fear Hope Peak might be going down the wrong path and if so, only Munakata can stop this. Meanwhile Jin tells Tengan that the project about artificial hope and artificial talent has been given the green light as the subject has decided to participate. Because Hinata has finally decided to join and become everyone’s hope.

Episode 4
Yukizome informs her class about the upcoming exams. However nobody is in good mood seeing the double murders. Komaeda later pleads to her to cancel it but since there is nothing she can do, he is going to do something himself. After giving a sexy idol poster to Hanamura, this allows him to get access and up close with Seiko Kimura. He is seeking laxatives for her but because she has to entertain Ruruka Andou and Sounosuke Izayoi who are bugging her for a performance enhancing drug, Komaeda has to go get it himself. He is unsure which drug to take and lets his luck set fate in motion. After much pressure and talk about ‘friendship’, Seiko gives in and agrees to make a drug for her. Next day, there is a threatening message on the board to cancel the exam or else there will be hell to pay. Of course the authorities do not take this seriously and carry on with the exam. Little do they know there are bombs hidden in the hall’s ceiling. Ruruka serves her cream puff to the judges. Super awesome as expected. But suddenly their stomach starts to ache. Trying to find what is happening, Ruruka starts thinking Seiko intended to sabotage her and gave her the wrong drug. Seiko looks into her bag for a cure but sees a remote control for the bombs! This is when Ruruka starts accusing Seiko on just about everything. I believe they have trust issues from the start. This makes Seiko snap as she too calls her a traitor.

Meanwhile Komaeda thinks he has got everything in order. When he accidentally spills a drink and a dog drinks it, it grows into a giant! Realizing the drug he put wasn’t the laxative, he opens the bag to find only medicine. He remembers bumping into Seiko this morning and their bags must have switched. The dog runs rampage in the hall. Seiko and Ruruka panic and accidentally press the button. Boom! Hall exploded. Komaeda notes he didn’t do anything but this was the result he intended. So is this super lucky? Later Komaeda is given the talk by Yukizome. He jokes about being a trash but she slaps him. She assures he is not trash and she is his teacher. Because of this incident, Ruruka, Seiko and Izayoi have been expelled immediately. Although some are calling for Komaeda’s expulsion, he wasn’t directly involved but yet got his desired results. That takes a lot of luck. Therefore as compromise he will be suspended indefinitely and Yukizome will be transferred to Reverse Course since she is taking responsibility as his teacher. Her students are hounding for answers and if they wonder if this is a mistake. Yukizome explains that Komaeda did this in their best interest so when he returns, please give him a warm welcome. As for her transfer, she sees it as a training stint and will be back. Well, at least she is able to investigate closer the shady dealings behind Reverse Course. Oops. I don’t think that was a joke.

Episode 5
Six months have passed. Yukizome speaks to Sakakura if he could get an ID of the board of trustees for her. She explains the Kamukura Project which has begun in secret. Something big is going on since Kamukura is the name of Hope Peak’s founder. In order to investigate more, she needs an ID. Sakakura will try but if caught, he could be fired. She adds about Hinata that he suddenly quit school around the time she heard about the project. Yukizome will soon be transferred back to the main course. Komaeda has not been heard ever since but they hope to lift his suspension. When she returns to class, her students are already waiting to pop the surprise welcome. They heard from a teacher about her return and prepared the necessary. Everyone credits Nanami for pulling this together. In addition, she is the one who organized activities and supported the class during Yukizome’s absence. Other notable differences are Saionji who has a growth spurt and busty lady (curse you puberty!) and Sonia taking after Tanaka’s chuunibyou. Meanwhile Mitarai returns to his room to see a skinnier version of himself pushing to create an anime that will save everyone?! On the other hand, Enoshima returns and waits at the airport for Ikusaba. They are putting forth in motion a plan that will lead to the most atrocious despair incident in human history by enrolling in Hope Peak. There is a short narration by skinny Mitarai that he was often bullied. Physically weak, he believes anime saved him. Because he is working so hard and disregarding his own health, fat Mitarai ‘kidnaps’ Tsumiki to nurse him. He explains the truth. Both guys were living next door to each other. Fatty has no name and is a super imposter. He lives his life in the guise of others although it doesn’t last long. Noting that skinny Mitarai only wants to make anime, he views their interest overlap and requests to take over his name. Skinny Mitarai can shut himself in and make anime all he wants while fat Mitarai will take over his place. Thankfully fatty trusts his classmates so Tsumiki doesn’t have to die or sell her body. Oh God, what was she thinking? Meanwhile Hinata is in some sort of experiment. Still in a daze, he believes he will become the protagonist of his own story and someone who can be proud around Nanami.

Episode 6
At the end of Hinata’s experiment… He grows longer hair?! He is also given the new name Izuru Kamukura, Hope Peak’s founder. He will be the world’s new hope. Sakakura manages to sneak an ID for Yukizome although it has a time limit. This is also the same ID of a trustee that has recently gone missing so be careful. Speaking of that trustee, he is kidnapped by Enoshima and tortured. Yukizome hacks into the trustee’s computer to shockingly read about the project. Despite the subject will become humanity’s hope and gain every known talent in the world, he will lose his emotions, personality and ideals. It is a small price to pay to save the world. The project has already moved on to testing phase. Yukizome reports to Munakata who fears the worst thing is not the public finding out but an unscrupulous person using this for his own gain. Hope will become despair that will threaten the world. Munakata will immediately return and until then she is not to say a word about this to anyone. Enoshima and Ikusaba use the trustee’s eye at the retinal scan to enter Kamukura’s room. At first she fawns over this dude but suddenly wants to kill him for being mankind’s hope. However Kamukura easily pins her down and not even Ikusaba can do anything. He asks if he has super analytical abilities that can calculate several steps ahead, why she even tried this. Because despair is an unknown. She is bored with the world with its pre-existing harmony. Only despair sets her heart racing. Despite being overwhelmed by him, she is having so much fun. Erm, isn’t that just being a masochist? Enoshima tries to coax him to join her side. Because hope doesn’t lead to the unknown. He won’t find salvation there. Only despair can save him. Enoshima is knocked out and the next thing she knows she is in the hospital bed. It seems Kamukura didn’t tell anybody about this. He told Ikusaba to leave Enoshima a message: He will be waiting. So he is taking up her offer? Enoshima is so happy that she waltzes out of hospital. That is where she bumps into skinny Mitarai just coming in. She doesn’t know why she feels so happy to see him and starts hugging him. She believes this must be yet another fateful encounter.

Episode 7
Enoshima badmouths anime so when Mitarai counters her, she dares him to show it. Of course she is absolutely moved and no other anime crap will do! He explains how he uses everything to make such a great anime but all Enoshima must have heard was how it brainwashes others. Hearing Mitarai wants to make a better world, you don’t say because Enoshima too had the same intentions… When fat Mitarai tells Tsumiki his skinny version is missing, she goes to check on him at his room but Ikusaba sees her and kidnaps her. Sakakura tells Yukizome that many trustee members have also gone missing. Security is now so tight that he can’t get an idea of what is happening. Enoshima is providing skinny Mitarai a comfortable room to create his anime (courtesy from the trustees, if you get what I mean). Ikusaba brings in Tsumiki and they make her watch Mitarai’s anime. Touched as hell. Enoshima super analyzes the situation and forms a plan. This involves bringing Kamukura to witness something extraordinary. In a classroom where Hope Peak’s student council members, Ikusaba announces all of them to kill each other. At first they refuse thinking it is a joke but when she demonstrates by killing one of them, she gives them 2 options: Kill each other or be killed by her. For motivation, there are videos containing their darkest secrets. So if you don’t want those out… All it took is just 1 crazy and disillusioned member to start the ball rolling. Next thing you know, we see everybody killing everybody and blood everywhere. Enoshima narrates to Kamukura the unpredictability of despair that will save him a boring future. The last standing member faces off with Kamukura. Of course he couldn’t best him. A fluke made him accidentally killed himself. Jin is upset that the plan is already in motion and being covered up by the authorities just to continue their existence. Enoshima deals the fatal blow by sending a message to all the students about this project being funded by the Reverse Course’s exorbitant fees. Making it worse is how all the student council members were found murdered by this Kamukura specimen and the school is trying to cover this up out of self preservation and hide their failed experimentation. It makes the Reverse Course students accomplices to murder. Naturally all of them are enraged after reading this as a mob gathers to demonstrate against this scam.

Episode 8
With the students trying to barge their way in, the higher ups are getting worried and need to act before the government steps in. Tsumiki has turned into an obsessed worshipper and slave for Enoshima. Mitarai is unsure of how she turned like that but when he clicks a preview video in a mysterious folder, he sees footage of the student council members killing each other. He becomes sick. He thinks Tsumiki saw this and went crazy. She tries to seduce him so he can help them out to realize Enoshima’s goal but Enoshima beats the crap out of her for being a slut. And she loves it! Mitarai is scared as Enoshima explains (with video) that she plans to turn the entire world into despair. However she lacks the brainwashing power that Mitarai has and wants him to make one which is way better than his last. Mitarai tries to run but is warned she might make his classmates kill each other next. Everyone is worried that Tsumiki has not showed up in class for a long time. Even if Komaeda returns, they are not in a mood to celebrate. He then tells them he saw Tsumiki at an area. This has everyone go look for her. Sakakura is having trouble fending off the invading students. He is surprised Munakata is back and is going to lend a hand. Sakakura tries to call Yukizome but she isn’t picking up because she is busy looking for her students. Komaeda and Nanami are at the founder’s statue. By luck, he opens a secret underground passageway that leads to skinny Mitarai’s room. That guy swamped with fear as he thinks he hasn’t done anything bad yet. Enoshima and Komaeda face off. He tells her Ikusaba can’t come to her aid because he talked to Pekoyama to keep her at bay. Komaeda pulls out a gun at Enoshima. He will do anything to protect hope. He views despair as a stepping stone to hope. So he wants to test if he could kill her, it means she wasn’t good enough as hope’s stepping stone. Suddenly he senses Kamukura behind him. Komaeda pulls the trigger but it is jammed. Kamukura whispers he too has good luck. He snatches the gun from him and shoots in his chest. Luckily luck didn’t abandon Komaeda because his handbook stopped the bullet. Nanami takes a closer look at Kamukura. He’s Hinata, right? Mitarai runs away fearing for his life. That’s when he bumps into Yukizome who assures it is her duty to protect her students. She has a bad feeling about this as she heads downstairs.

Episode 9
Enoshima just warmed up introducing herself to Nanami. Yukizome throws a fire extinguisher so that Nanami can take Komaeda and leave. Enoshima explains this will be the last day Yukizome and her students will be themselves as they will fall into despair as part of her plan. She knows Nanami will call her classmates to come and rescue her. True enough, Nanami explains what is happening and despite Komaeda’s not to go against them because their despair level is off the charts, they still want to go save their teacher. Fat Mitarai reveals his true identity to everyone and also wants to join in. Munakata has done his research and no matter what, all evidence points back to Enoshima as the culprit. Sakakura will go find her and bring her back for interrogation. Yukizome is forced to watch a brainwashed student hack himself to death and then strapped down to watch a video of the killings. She is resisting hard so Ikusaba sticks some needles into her head trying to adjust the frequency or something?! Creepy! Yukizome’s students encounter the angry Reverse Course students who think by ridding them they can get their seat. Nidai and Tanaka fight them to let the rest through. Skinny Mitarai is running away and being chased by the mob. Then he trips and is surrounded. Enoshima pops up and his here to thank and say goodbye to him. She is grateful his collaboration will help turn the world into despair although he argues his works is for the betterment of the world. In the end, he is forced to run because that is what Enoshima tells him to do. Running away is his despair. He falls into a flowing river. Sakakura has found Enoshima and is going to give her a good beat down. Yukizome’s students trek down the basement filled with hope. Since Nanami and Tsumiki are at the back of the pack, Tsumiki pushes Nanami down a secret shaft. When she wakes up, she finds Yukizome by her side as she claims Kamukura freed her.

Episode 10
What a surprise. Sakakura lost to Enoshima! She then begins to mock his one-sided love for Munakata. She threatens to show pictures of him fawning over Munakata’s pictures if he doesn’t report back that she is innocent. Very unfortunately, Sakakura complies. Blinded by love or despair? Nanami is shoved into a dark elevator by Yukizome. Enoshima appears on monitor revealing to Nanami about Yukizome being brainwashed by the despair video. However she feels that she is a step away from perfection. And Nanami will be that perfection. When all her classmates finally gather in a strange room, Enoshima is on the monitor again and is going to make them watch a video called Nanami’s Punishment. We see Nanami trying to dodge all sorts of dangerous traps in a dungeon. She has already taken some damage but still tries to maintain her positivism that she will not give up. Her classmates can only helplessly watch and cannot move because of the hypnotism effect. Just when Nanami reaches the goal door, all the spikes impale her. Game over. This drives all her classmates spiralling into despair and madness. Enoshima congratulates her new ‘colleagues’ as they will bring the world ultimate despair. Nanami in her final moments sees Kamukura standing before her. She realizes he has no memories being Hinata. Even in this state, she is trying to be positive. She doesn’t want to die and continue to be with her classmates but all is in vain as she struggles till her last breath. Kamukura picks up her hairpin and couldn’t understand why tears start flowing down his cheeks.

Episode 11
Munakata is told that the overseas expansion is cancelled. No reason is given. Then he asks Sakakura about his report in which he lies through his teeth that Enoshima is innocent. Munakata has his doubts at first so he confirms it with Yukizome who also says Enoshima is innocent. It is then Munakata believes he was wrong all along. Enoshima sets off the biggest chaotic despair with all the Reverse Course students getting violent and barging into the main building to slaughter everyone. While Yukizome gives her graduation speech to her class (everybody is under some sort of hypnotic despair too) and ends it by detonating a bomb! Enoshima wonders why Kamukura asked her to erase memories of him from the memories of others. As he will meet them in the future, he wants to know if hope or despair is the unpredictable factor. That is why he too will have his own memories erased. It will be more fun that way. After that they part ways. Jin and Tengan are trapped inside the school’s building. They see on the news the worldwide chaos. While Tengan wants to escape as they can’t do anything much here, Jin wants to stay behind to entrust hope to the survivors. Enoshima ends everything by having the Reverse Course students commit suicide when they’re done killing others. Ikusaba wonders why she didn’t have them join her ranks. They might have their brains rewired like hers but they are too low specs to be of any use. She warns Ikusaba to watch out because she’ll backstab her without hesitation. Then they go join Naegi’s class. We finally get the answer to why they were barricaded inside the building is because they themselves put up the barricades. Enoshima notes Naegi’s luck and wants to test it out. He is lucky he missed getting killed by her. Enoshima rethinks her decision to kill him because she doesn’t want him to derail her plans. Yukizome’s students are somehow outside. Munakata picks up Yukizome from the rubble. As narrated, her students go all over the world to spread despair. Everything fell apart as part of Enoshima’s plan. Sakakura deeply regrets not stopping Enoshima that it has led to this. Yukizome cries crocodile tears pleading to Munakata to stop this insanity so that she can make him despair more deeply than any of them.

Zetsubou Shita!
Well, it is with mixed feelings the way this arc ended. I knew it was going to be on the tragedy side but yet I feel so unsatisfied about it. I know everything hasn’t really ended yet and the only thing that has ended is hope. Especially that final scene about Hinata and Nanami nicely meeting each other at some island resort. What the heck was that? A dream? No way, man. Please don’t troll me any further when my sentiments are already this shaky. Gosh. Am I in despair???!!! Oh my God. Say it isn’t so. Phew. At least I didn’t take up a weapon and trash everything around me. Thankfully it isn’t 100% despair because there is still hope. Turns out there will be an episode to end and bridge this as announced at the end of the final episode but that will be for next time.

Unlike the first Danganronpa series and the Future Arc, this one breaks away from the mutual killing game of picking off each other one by one. Sure, there’s that student council version of it but that lasts only for minutes and serves as an appetizer. This arc heavily focuses on Enoshima’s grand foundation in building up her plans to bring ultimate despair to the world and the unfortunate souls who became victims of her mind controlling schemes. So if you are hoping and guessing from the promotional poster arc that these would be the ‘new’ characters to kill each other off in a survival game, you’d be very far off the mark. Of course this is assuming you didn’t play the game and like yours truly came to this assumption.

This means that the class under Yukizome’s care feel like they aren’t fleshed out properly. Each has their own interesting and quirky personality that makes them all so different in every way but because we don’t mostly see them do fun things together throughout the series (like Nanami’s video game session), it feels like their initial introduction in the first episode was like some sort of trolling and has been watered down as the series progresses and focused on other happenings. So if you want to have an idea of what Nanami’s class did together, the best bet is watch the ending credits animation where there is a montage of it. Well, I’m not saying that all characters in every Danganronpa series are fleshed out. This is the case for characters who are killed off very early. However for these special super talented students, they aren’t really killed off so it makes their roles for this arc feeling a bit much more to be desired. Like as though they’re just waiting around till the final moments of the plot to become somewhat relevant.

Hence among the students of this main course class that get the most screen time or at least playing more notable roles are Nanami and skinny Mitarai. Sadly, Nanami is the only main character to die. I know you’re going to remind me about Natsumi and Sato but they’re just minor characters whom you’ll forget once this arc reaches its end. What happened to Mitarai after he got washed away? I suppose he just kept running and running and running. Supposedly strong characters like Sakakura and Yukizome who are thought to be able to put up a decent fight against despair, ironically succumb to it. At least it shows they are human, right? They too have weaknesses and not perfect. Hey, being super high school level currently or formerly doesn’t mean that you are perfect like God. You just happen to be more successful than others normally. Finally, Hinata/Kamukura felt a bit of a waste. Of course from where the plot of this arc is going, there is nothing much he can do. But I thought it was a waste to have this all-so-powerful-God like as though he is very much the last boss to fight and lose but he is just observing and biding his time. That’s all.

In one of the biggest ironies, the higher ups trying to play God and create their own artificial super level of hope instead ushered in the biggest despair instead. Normal students pay big money in return to get some sort of future hope but what they got was a big let-down and ultimately despair. That’s what happened when a large sum of money is involved. Can you now say that in addition to money is the root of all evil, it is now the root of all despair? It is no longer just a sin to be poor but sad to be without money.

Another irony is Enoshima and her love for despair. It feels like a big contradiction. If she loves despair, shouldn’t she herself be wallowing in misery, desolation and hopelessness? Instead we see her revel and taking joy in seeing others suffer and this makes her more of a super level sadist than one who is gunning for ultimate despair. I mean, she did bring the world to its knees but she is happy in achieving that goal and seeing how it is brought upon others. In that sense, she is like a hypocrite to her own goal of despair. She should be called a super high school level evil maniacal mastermind sadist instead. If she really wants to go into despair, she should look at that Nozomu guy from Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei series. That guy is truly in despair.

I am not sure whether to call it spoilers or knowledge beforehand because since this arc is aired side by side with the Future arc, many of the revelations and the character backgrounds are related. Therefore if you watch this series without watching the Future arc at the same time, you might not be missing anything out since this took place before all the Danganronpa series chronologically. It stands alone by itself. But if you do watch the Future arc, you will find that there are quite a few incidents that will be related. So you can consider this arc as spoiler when you do so. Or if you’re being optimistic, it gives you better understanding when you watch the Future arc subsequently. For instance, the ‘complicated’ relationship between Ruruka, Seiko and Izayoi. While you might think their cameo appearance might be seen as one of the few driving points in the story and insignificant for this arc, you will find and understand better about their role in the Future arc which in a way makes sense. It also makes sense to learn why skinny Mitarai is the only ‘survivor’ among his class. You’ll see what I mean if you watched the Future arc. So spoilers or knowledge beforehand? Either way, both these series complement each other.

It goes without saying that despite this arc is chronologically the first, for those who have not watched the first season’s Danganronpa, you will be greatly spoiled because we all know who the main big villain is, right? Therefore watching this prequel arc hinges on pretty much on the assumption that you have watched the first season and you pretty much know what has happened. Doing so makes it easier to connect the dots and lines and gives you a better idea and understanding of what is generally happening.

The art and animation style remains consistent among the series. This means that some of the character design feels odd. Characters with odd looking parts that make them look more cartoonish than anything. For example Hanamura. This guy is already creepy as a little pervert and with his cartoon-like face like as though he popped out from some baking mascot cover, he looks even creepier if not funnier. Soda looks more like a rapper than a mechanic. Just saying… One thing I find odd is how the other non-important students of the Reverse Course are drawn as what I call ‘blue mannequins’. Every time I see them I feel like I wanna go “I’m blue da ba di da ba die”. No, seriously. With all the blue people around, it feels like they are clones or something. I understand that they paid through their noses to get enrolled here and when they found out the truth they get disappointed and hence the blues (okay, I’m just bullsh*tting) but it just looks odd to see them drawn this way. Well, we’ve seen the odd pink blood which is the trademark of this series.

A handful of recognizable seiyuus lend their talents to this series such as Kana Hanazawa as Nanami, Mai Nakahara as Yukizome, Junichi Suwabe as Sakakura, Akira Ishida as the imposter Mitarai, Jun Fukuyama as Hanamura, Tomokazu Sugita as Tanaka, Yu Kobayashi as Koizumi, Yoshimasa Hosoya as Soda, Hiroaki Yasumoto as Nidai, Ami Koshimizu as Mioda, Ai Shimizu as Sato and Rikiya Koyama as Jin. Oddly, Megumi Ogata who voiced Naegi in the other Danganronpa series plays Komaeda here. It gave me an impression that Komaeda might be his older brother or something related in this sense as they both have that similar feel. I mean, one is with super hope and the other is super luck. Talents which are somewhat intangible, right? At first I thought Aoi Yuuki was behind Saionji but I was greatly mistaken as it was Suzuko Mimori instead (Sherlock in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes).

For the rest of the new casts, they are Minami Tanaka as Hinata/Kamukura (Conan in Detective Conan), Kanata Hongou as Mitarai the animator (Sakamoto in BTOOOM), Ai Kayano as Tsumiki (Kanade in Chihayafuru), Daisuke Kishio as Fuyuhiko (Suginami in Da Capo series), Kotono Mitsushi as Pekoyama (Excel in Excel Saga), Romi Paku as Owari (Hitsugaya in Bleach), Miho Arakawa as Sonia (Hanabusa in Akuma No Riddle), Haruka Yamazaki as Natsumi (Tomoyo in Inou Battle Wa Nichijou-Kei No Naka De), Toshiyuki Morikawa as Munakata (Mard Geer in Fairy Tail), Hidekatsu Shibata as Tengan (Igneel in Fairy Tail), Saki Fujita as Seiko (Inami in Working), Inori Minase as Ruruka (Chino in Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka) and Takuya Eguchi as Izayoi (Kon in Ixion Saga DT).

The opening theme is Kami Iro Awase by Binaria. I’m not sure how to put it but It isn’t exactly a rock piece but it is in a way. I’m confused too. Maybe because the singer’s voice of singing the song in a calm way. Watching the opening credits at first made me think Shaft did this anime because of how similar its style is to the Monogatari series. Turns out to be Lerche who did Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, Hamatora, Unbreakable Machine Doll, Saijaku Muhai No Bahamut and Maji De Watashi Ni Koi Shinasai. The ending theme is Zettai Kibou Birthday by Megumi Ogata. At first I didn’t believe it was heard because from what I can hear it sounds like a man’s voice singing this rock outfit. I thought it might be some type error. I even looked at various sources and finally the ending credits itself and confirmed it is her singing this one. Straining my ears to closely hear, I finally realize it could be her. After all, she has this low voice and this makes her suitable to voice many anime roles for young boys.

Overall, the series is pretty interesting and sets the foundation and the ball rolling for the other Danganronpa series in a chronological sense. Despite the lack of mutual killings or the main characters being killed off (unless you consider falling into ultimate despair as a metaphor for the character being killed off) the plot and turn of events make it an interesting watch. At least it is good to take heart that the writer and producers of this series are so super high level because otherwise we would be brainwashed and fall into despair. Instead we leave with satisfaction and high hopes for the series. Naturally an ideal point if you want it to be a commercial success. Because what’s worse than the world falling into despair is for your series to be ultimately cancelled and then into oblivion forever. Then it would be truly zetsubou shita!

Mayoiga

November 6, 2016

Sick and tired of your life? Can’t seem to get it right? Societal norms and pressures of society aren’t doing anything good to you? Well, why not throw it all away and start life anew in a village far, far away that doesn’t exist on any map. That way, you can live your life the way you want without anybody telling you what to do. Live life the way you deem fit and to your liking. Wow. Sounds like a good deal. This seems to be the case for Mayoiga. A group of seemingly disgruntled young people with their own problems in life deciding to run away from it all by taking this once in a lifetime tour to redo their life from scratch. A society they can call their own cut off from the rest of the world. But will it be that simple and straightforward? You know how shady and small those small finer prints are especially if you’re staking it all from an unknown online source. Because it may look like paradise at first until something sinister seems to be lurking beneath it all. And you can’t call the police or your local ghostbusters to help you because nobody knows where you are. Heck, they don’t even know if you even exist anymore.

Episode 1
A group of 30 people believed to have discovered a secret website beneath all that coding are on a bus heading to Nanaki Village. Dahara is their tour guide and host as each of them introduce themselves and their goals. Basically, many of them are facing some sort of hardship and want a new start in life. This village is rumoured by online circles where people have gone vanished but in fact is believed to start a new life for themselves. After some discuss the few theories of its existence, they start singing a weird hippo song. Really. It’s weird. As the bus takes a break, Hayato talks to Mitsumune that he is sceptical of this tour because really, everyone else is a weirdo and that it is like some tour for overly self-conscious sickos to make friends. It is believed Mitsumune escaped from the cram school his parents sent him and wants to redo his life again. Mitsumune thought Masaki is having some sort of sickness. She talks about weird stuffs before her motion sickness catches up. He returns to the bus to get some pills. He notices Lion still at her seat and asks her why she joined this tour. She is not obliged to tell him but warns and hopes they don’t end up cannibalizing each other. The bus ride resumes. They play really weird bus games like how Mitsumune needs to read out his imaginary suicide note. That is when the bus driver tells them off young ones that they don’t know about life. Doing this is just irresponsible. Everyone has varying degrees of hardship but people his age tough it out. In his eyes, they’re like babies. Angry Valkana shuts him up to do his job because they pay him to drive and not lecture. After Mitsumune has some time bomb-cum-suicide nightmare, the driver loses his cool. He starts speeding in the rain and complains about his life. Economic downturn, no overtime pay, mother calls him for money, blah, blah, blah. So you guys want to start over? How about we start over and leave this world by dying happily together in an accident? Some of the guys beat up the driver but as Masaki tries to stop the fight, the driver steps on the brakes before they crash, causing her to vomit all over him. While cleaning up and resting, they hear a weird music coming out from a clock. Koharun explains it is Nanaki Village’s traditional nursery song and Dahara introduces her to everyone as the one who discovered the village’s location. Valkana shuts her up and tells her off that she is not in charge. The journey continues and soon they will be crossing a bridge directly into Nanaki Village.

Episode 2
The path becomes bumpy and dark. The bus slides off the slope. You mean they have to push it all the way back up?! This is when the group becomes divided into encouraging the driver to go ahead when he warned them it was dangerous. Mikage then tells everyone to give their money to him. Since they are going to start a new life, they are not going to use the currency anymore. He hopes the driver will be happy and not rat out on this village. Otherwise they will testify he stole their money and abandoned them. Nanaki Village is just walking distance away so everyone starts trekking. Mitsumune wants to help Masaki but Hayato warns about his habit of falling in love easily. Lion thinks the guys are dating since they are so close but Mitsumune clarifies that Hayato is his best friend and always saved him from being bullied. The group is scared when they see huge bear treks so they make haste till they arrive at the village. Everyone is happy to arrive but something feels odd. It feels like the entire place is abandoned and not a single soul around. They split up in groups to get more clues and ascertain this is the correct village. From the dust piling up and rusted things, it is probably abandoned for a year. They start theorizing if the villagers abandoned it or all died or being executed. Maimai seems to flirt with Mitsumune. But when he is relieved that he didn’t fall for her, she takes it as an insult. Too late to apologize. Everyone is shocked when the bus driver returns. He thinks he needs to watch the kids as an adult but they think he decides to abandon his lousy life and join them. Nanko and Mikage then question Koharun. If Nanaki Village is said to be a village that cannot be located, how did she find the place? Koharun claims she has been doing intensive research and even visited sites but all were duds. One day she got a mysterious email that detailed this location. Of course that email is in her laptop and she didn’t bring it since there is no signal and wouldn’t need it. Mikage finds that unbelievable. Suddenly Valkana and his group rush back. It seems Masaki and Yottsun have vanished.

Episode 3
Everyone goes to look for Yottsun but couldn’t find him. Puuko’s scream alerts everyone. There is a huge claw mark with blood on the tree. Time to freak out. They hear growling noises too. As they run, Mitsumune trips. That’s where he sees Masaki cowering in fear by a tree. She is interrogated as she recounts Yottsun wanted to bring her somewhere. Then he spotted something and left by himself. Since he didn’t return, she tried to look for him and slipped. She couldn’t remember the rest. Many do not believe her story but Mitsumune stands up for her. The group becomes divided if they should leave or stay but unless all of them want to get out of here, the driver won’t leave. Mad Valkana tells off everyone it is this moment they find out who their friends and traitors are. A few guys go help him continue look for Yottsun. Masaki isn’t grateful for Mitsumune sticking up to her. She tells him not to do so again or he will be cut off from the group. Hayato tells Mitsumune to stop sucking up to her. It’s that I-told-you-so talk again and all Mitsumune have to do is listen to what Hayato says to avoid getting bullied. After the rest assign sleeping quarters, they go get some food. There is a vegetation farm nearby and oddly it feels as though they’ve been tended to properly till yesterday. Hyouketsu blames Jack for his overlapping character and initiates a silly argument. This has Jack returning with a hoe and tries to kill him! Luckily he is restrained and tied up. It is then Maimai recognizes Jack as her old classmate. Rumour had it that he had an attitude problem and stabbed a classmate. He was sent away for juvenile detention. Some are calling him to be executed but Valkana shows them a secret underground prison cell which he found where they can put Jack for the time being. Koharun believes Valkana is taking this too responsibly although his reply is that he doesn’t want to be made a scapegoat. Valkana reveals he was a freelance engineer and was made a scapegoat by the company when his system failed. Koharun believes he doesn’t want to be alone. Otherwise he wouldn’t have joined this tour and ignore all interpersonal relationships. That night when Mitsumune can’t sleep and makes his way to Jack’s prison, he sees Maimai. Lovepon thinks they are going to execute Jack and she eagerly wants to help. She becomes crazy when they’re not as she talks about nipping the problem in the bud or tragedy will befall everyone. She then tries to kill Mitsumune by drowning him. He manages to escape but sees a corpse floating ahead.

Episode 4
Everyone returns to the river trying to find Yottsun’s body but could it be Mitsumune just imagined things? Because it is dark and the scary roar in the background, everyone returns to the village to discuss if there was a bear or a tiger or whatever lurking around. Mikage suggests leaving this place since it is too dangerous but Masaki disagrees that they are safer here than going back. She doesn’t know why but she feels so. In the end, Mikage and many decide to leave tomorrow. Only a handful remain. Hayato is not pleased Mitsumune wants to stay and the friends argue and part their ways. That night, Mikage talks to Valkana that Yottsun’s killer might be among them. Somebody trying to live out his/her dream of becoming a mass murderer. He suspects Koharun as she knew the place and wasn’t initially on the tour bus. She might be in cahoots with the previous villagers. He also feels Masaki knows something and won’t tell them. Mikage’s group try to push the bus out but it is still dark. They can’t go back to the village now as it will be dark and dangerous then. So they start trekking as far as they can before the sun sets. As they trek and map their progress, things seems to be going great for some time until they realize they are back to where they started. They followed the map accurately but something feels off. It gets scarier when the roar is louder and they get a jump scare when they see Jack in a distance (it was briefly shown his prison cell is empty). Hyouketsu fears he is here to kill him and runs but slips. Since the driver is acting suspicious, Valkana and Koharun tail him. They see him trying to call out to somebody but nab him. Mitsumune thought he could get closer to Masaki and tells his real name. It’s Mitsumune. Instead, she cried. Huh? Mikage’s group almost drop into the abyss but spots an old rail line. Following it leads to a tunnel. But then they see the scariest sh*t ever. What’s this about a large Mitsumune Maimai saw?! Koharun and Valkana interrogate the driver of who he was looking for. Misato. His daughter who died 10 years ago.

Episode 5
The driver adds he wants to take Misato home with him. Just then Mikage’s group makes it back to the village. After checking the cell and confirming Jack is gone, everyone starts discussing about Hyouketsu who fell off the cliff. They can’t even remember this dude’s name! Mikage starts making his accusations to everyone when everyone is being inconsistent with their stories of the roar. That is when Lion freaks out. She points out Mitsumune is a ghost! Wait. What?! She saw him vanished for a while! She says she has the ability to see dead people. The driver becomes desperate in wanting to confirm Misato. That is when Mikage and co get even more suspicious and want to know more about it. Lovepon insists on executing Mitsumune and Maimai as she accuses them of freeing Jack. But since everyone is tired, it is suggested everyone hits the sack. Mitsumune thanks Maimai for standing up for him but she insists she is doing it or else she will be suspected too. Mikage, Lovepon, Jigoku and Nyanta discuss the suspicious people and plan to capture one of them to interrogate. A few girls sweet talk Mitsumune into helping to guard their quarters while they sleep. Lovepon, Jigoku and Nyanta are waiting to take him down when Lion comes to talk to Mitsumune. He praises her supernatural power but she reveals it was a lie and took advantage of him. Because the situation was getting out of hand and people were being stupid arguing over stupid things. Mitsumune is impressed and allows her to use him in such cases but she is not impressed with his goody two shoes nature of accepting and playing along with everyone. What Lion didn’t say is that she can see people who are going to die. Once Mitsumune is alone, the trio nab him. In the cell, Lovepon can’t wait to torture him. But they smell fire and escape. Masaki returns to help cut Mitsumune loose. There is something she needs to talk to him about. Suddenly there is this giant monster appearing before Mitsumune whom he recognizes as Tokimune.

Episode 6
Lovepon runs off by herself. She sees a demon mask haunting her! Flashback reveals a depraved monk used to visit her mom. In return for money to clear her debts, she offered sex and alcohol (the brand is a demon mask). Lovepon didn’t like how she also abused her mom so one day she put the bottle on the stairs to make him trip and fall down. The monk then started beating her while she screams execution. When the rest look for Lovepon, now Nyanta sees her fears. Though the rest sees nothing, Nyanta runs away when a zombie hornet is on her tail! Her story tells she was bullied by her classmates. To get her little thrill of revenge, she bought an airsoft gun and sniped at them. It was all fun till she was caught. The bullies tie her up under a hornet’s nest and started shooting at it. Now it’s Jigoku’s turn. He is running away from a gel monster?! It was his dream to join the rangers and posted his solitary training online. Though, many panned how stupid he was. To make up for his required height, he put a breast gel on his head. He failed to get in. What about Mikage? He is telling all those laughter to stop. He was in charge of promoting some toy train. He was very confident about it although the executives were cautious and don’t want to end up embarrassed with a big failure. Mikage dared gamble it will be successful so they put their trust in him. On event day, the toy trains didn’t arrive because of a simple error he made in the delivery date. No doubt Mikage got chewed out and everyone laughed at him. So now a demon train is after his ass?! The rest heard gun sounds in the forest and go look for the missing ones. They manage to round up Lovepon, Nyanta and Jigoku but all give different accounts of their stories. It confuses everyone. Koharun starts singing the nursery song and analyzes how it is all related to this. She then shows them an article on Masaki. She went missing many years ago at Yanagase Village which is the village they passed before entering Nanaki Village. They fear she might be a ghost.

Episode 7
Mitsumune had another twin brother, Tokimune. Both are like day and night. Mitsumune was neat and nice while the other was messy and naughty. Tokimune was playing dangerously on a wall when he fell off. Mom was not able to accept his death and started going crazy. She sees Mitsumune as Tokimune and the entire family has no choice but to play along. This goes on long enough till he is in high school. She became very protective of him and before Mitsumune knows it, he became Tokimune. That is why he joined this tour to live as himself. So a reason Mitsumune liked Masaki was because she was the first person who really liked his real name. She brings him to the tunnel, a place that could leave Nanaki Village. However she warns him she must confront his inner enemy and she will be waiting at the other side. She notes his hand is the warmest among the rest. Mitsumune is paralyzed in fear as he sees the giant penguin toy he calls Tokimune. Masaki just ran right through it. Unfortunately Mitsumune is too chicken to face it. But he received a punch in the guy! So is the monster real?! He runs back to the village. Mikage chides everyone for not wanting to talk about the monsters because they always avoided the subject. Everyone concludes that Masaki is a ghost bringing monsters here to kill them. Many are afraid to deal with the monsters. Maimai explains she and her best friend fell in love with the same guy. He looked similar to Mitsumune (hence, that giant Mitsumune). When she started dating him, her best friend shunned her. Her other friends turned against her and eventually she was dumped. Therefore she is not going back to society. This gives everyone hope to kill the monsters so they can continue staying here. This means they must kill Masaki. When Mitsumune wanders back into the village, everyone plays nice with him to get more details. After he tells them what happened, he is quickly put to bed. The others are getting ready to exorcise the ghost. Stakes? Cross? Salt? You think these would work? As they wait for her at the tunnel, Masaki pops up. Lion and Nanko are the only ones against this witch hunt as they go warn Mitsumune. Masaki is tied at the stake and tortured. Lovepon is obsessed about killing her but this is where many draw the line. They can’t just stab her. Hayato then does the honours to stab her as he blames her for seducing and brainwashing Mitsumune. In his haste, he cuts her arm. It’s bleeding. Do ghosts bleed? Mitsumune is not happy to see this and punches Hayato. Hayato is still bent on killing her so Masaki can’t bear to see Mitsumune suffer anymore and will tell everything.

Episode 8
Masaki has been to this village before. She followed her cousin, Reiji to find this place. He was so happy to find it that he couldn’t stop taking pictures and couldn’t wait to report this to his friends. He could have continued snapping had not Masaki reminded him it is getting late. As they leave, Reiji saw some kind of monster and ran back. Masaki saw nothing. Masaki slipped and fell unconscious. The next thing she knew, she was lying on the road. Each time she tried to climb back up, there was no village. Therefore she came on this tour to save Reiji but couldn’t find him. Everyone is startled when she mentions that there might be other villages like this but she isn’t exactly sure. As for the tunnel, she tells everyone not to go there and has a bad feeling about it. Although she went through it, she turned back halfway. But everyone still don’t believe her because she is the only one who hasn’t seen any monsters and the inconsistency in her story that she never went back home but lived in a nearby village to work part time until she chanced upon this tour. They show her the article. Because if she lived there using her real name and the article came out nationwide, don’t you think it is inconsistent? While Mitsumune protects her again, the rest are back to lynching her. Suddenly the bus driver swoops by in his bus (how the heck did he manage to get it unstuck?) and kidnaps Masaki and Mitsumune. Hayato’s shirt gets stuck in its door. Everyone plans to stop the driver before he leaves the area. But Koharun and Nanko deduce something odd from Masaki’s story. She is different from the rest of them who has not seen monsters is it because she has no psychological scar? Is it why she could run away? The driver is desperate thinking Masaki is a ghost and wants her to call Misato. Of course she isn’t. Koharun observes Valkana joining in this witch hunt. Ever since Masaki become prime suspect, everyone forgot she was a suspect. He claims he doesn’t believe everyone and was fooled to thinking he could lead a new life here. But if he is going to live here forever, he needs to know this village better and Masaki knows this place the best. As they duo make their way, they are attacked by stone arrows. They know they’re not hallucinating as they both see the same thing. Guess who is attacking them? Hyouketsu?!

Episode 9
As Valkana pins him down, Hyouketsu is still terrified and claims he was rescued by that person and just doing as told. Valkana then chases after a shady figure in the distance. The driver thinks driving through the tunnel will let him see Misato again. Stepping on the accelerator, Mitsumune sees Tokimune chasing behind and Hayato sees a zombie hand on the window! When the driver sees Misato in the mirror, he steps on the brakes. The rest exit to bus for fresh air. By the time they return, the driver is gone. At the end of the tunnel, there seems to be another village but the entire place is covered in fog. There is also a stone written supposedly by Reiji leaving a message to Masaki if she wants to go any further, accept Nanaki. She doesn’t understand what it means but has a bad feeling if they stay. Hayato wants to continue looking around and says she can look for Reiji too. If anything turns for the worse, they can always go back. After Masaki excuses herself to go to the toilet, the guys try to get a bird’s eye view of the place but it is foggy. Hayato is not pleased Mitsumune again stands by Masaki’s side. He tells him off he is not the only one with problems. In fact, his overprotective mom is better than his. Hayato’s fear is his grandma in the attic. Since young, his parents tried to groom him into an ideal child since they were living in a posh area and wanted to keep a reputation among the community. The slightest mistake he made, he was beaten and worse, thrown into the attic where a creepy picture of grandma was. He believed she was a victim too, having thrown inside here before her passing to avoid rumours of a senile old granny wandering around to ruin their reputation. Hayato did try to fight back to no avail. He resigned to live his life as their puppet till he met Mitsumune. He got a taste of freedom. As long he is his puppet, everything will be alright. Mitsumune is shocked at this truth despite he is always grateful for listening to him. Hayato wants things to stay as it is but Mitsumune won’t be deceived anymore and leaves. As he looks for Masaki, he only finds her ribbon. Then he bumps into Valkana who also wandered here. They start seeing their monsters. Valkana’s a slime monster? Mitsumune slides down a slope. Now he hears his mother’s voice. Meanwhile Nanko and Lion want to use Maimai as guinea pig. To rid of the monsters, they must overcome their mental scars. So they try to take her into the tunnel to test this theory when they are attacked by Jack. Luckily somebody punches him out.

Episode 10
Mitsumune finds himself in hospital. His dad is also there and is glad he is alive. We can see dad went through a lot of stress ever since Tokimune’s death. He tried to erase Mitsumune’s name at one point but just couldn’t do it. He tells his son to live the way he wants. Meanwhile Mikage is furious that everyone has lost interest to find Masaki. They don’t even care about it anymore. Maybe they’re tired? Some are even having a change in character. They turn on Mikage since he is acting like their leader when he is not. Enraged, Mikage goes off by himself as the rest laugh at his destiny thingy. Lion, Nanko and Maimai are brought to Reiji’s place. He can’t go with them back to the village and when he sounds like he can’t reciprocate Masaki’s love, Maimai gets upset. As Reiji brings them along, Lion is surprised Nanko and Maimai believe her that she can see people who are about to die. It seems she is some sort of fortune teller or at least that was how it supposed to be. When an angry customer called her a fraud because she bought an expensive charm to save her husband but failed, Lion was confused but her mother didn’t really bother much with it because you know, it’s all part of business. A bird’s eye view of Nanaki Village, Reiji fears the place is changing shape again. Seems he can see someone else’s monster. Because of a past so complicated, it materializes in the form of a monster. He warns them to tell their friends to get out no matter what and when Nanaki attacks, you must endure its pain. They don’t think it will be easy since the rest are bent on staying.

Mitsumune goes up the hospital roof to find… Yottsun?! He recounts he saw Nanaki while he was going to have fun with Masaki. Before he knew it, he slipped from a cliff and plunged into the river. God saved him. God? This old professor named Kamiyama. Kami, get it? Yottsun is chirpy because Kamiyama told him everything and his eyes are opened. It seems Nanaki is a term used to describe the monster of your past. Kamiyama explains he has been to Nanaki Village before and has been doing research on it. Kamiyama specializes in psychology so when he discovered this village, he was excited. He did research and presented it but was soon ridiculed. His supporters eventually left him. Sad and upset, he went to Nanaki Village and at first was thrilled to be living all by himself. And then he stumbled upon the monster. It was he evidence he had always been looking. When he tried to take a picture, he suddenly returned back to civilization. Just that easy. Because he lost Nanaki. His Nanaki was the research ridiculed by everyone. So when he proved it right, it also disappeared, cutting him off from the monster. Mitsumune thinks it is a good ending for him but is made to look closer at a photo of Kamiyama’s younger self. That photo was only taken 3 years ago! As Nanaki contains the psychological scar of the past, it also contains your soul, emotions and ultimately yourself. Losing Nanaki means losing yourself and when Kamiyama lost his, his body started aging rapidly. The scariest part is when you cut yourself from those psychological wounds, you’ll eventually stop functioning as a proper human. Speaking of which, some of the group members are feeling lethargic. Jack and Hyouketsu return to base. The letter is scared for failing his mission. He pleads to boss not to abandon him. Their boss turns out to be Koharun.

Episode 11
The driver sees Misato and begs for forgiveness. Valkana returns to the village and is pissed everyone is lethargic. Even when Maimai’s group return and tell what Reiji told them, they’re still too lazy to move. Even more so, they don’t care when Jack and Hyouketsu start shooting fire arrows. The sane ones go to confront them but Maimai and Lion become their hostages. Hyouketsu’s blabbermouth has him revealing Koharun as the ringleader. It seems she is trying to make the monster stronger and these guys believe they could help her as she told them they were special. At first Koharun wanted to use Valkana she thinks he is just honest and a coward. Speaking of her, Koharun meets Hayato who is on the verge of going insane thinking Mitsumune has run away with Masaki. Koharun pours more fuel on the fire by mentioning Masaki’s name and how she torn their years of friendship apart. This makes him go crazy and a large hideous monster pops up. Koharun notes it is growing. Kamiyama drives Mitsumune and Yottsun back to the village but he tells there are certain conditions to be met to enter it. The reason Kamiyama stayed behind is to warn others not to enter but it seems when the tour bus came that night, he was asleep. Mitsumune wonders why Yottsun didn’t age like Kamiyama. Yottsun recalls when he was floating adrift and staring death in the face, all he could think was his musician parents. He didn’t want to become a pro in classical music like them but a rapper. And make it big too. But he realized he couldn’t. As he drowns, he hit an inspiration. The lyrics come to his mind. He realizes he always wanted to be a rapper even if he doesn’t make it big. In short, Yottsun accepted his Nanaki unlike Kamiyama left his behind. Although he doesn’t hate, sometimes he could feel regrets. Mitsumune cannot see Nanaki Village anymore and Kamiyama deduces he doesn’t have enough psychological scars.

The driver knows Misato is his Nanaki. He reconciles with her and despite feeling very hurt, he hugs her and believes she is the one who is most hurt as his carelessness was the source of her death. He will not deny he has lost her anymore. This is when Reiji pops up. He believes the driver has accepted his Nanaki and has a favour of him. Mitsumune laments he can’t get back into the village when the bus suddenly pops out from nowhere almost hitting them. They see Misato for real as the driver introduces her as his Nanaki. Misato claims she isn’t the only Nanaki that can talk (as others seen so far were monsters) but Reiji too. It is time to say goodbye so Misato is glad her dad came to terms with his daughter even if the one before him is fake. She might not be able to talk to him anymore but will always be in his heart. In a blink of an eye, Misato vanishes. When the driver says Reiji told him to help Mitsumune back into the village to save Masaki (Reiji even confirmed he is Masaki’s Nanaki), it makes Mitsumune sad to think how much Masaki cared for him and since she is so desperate to save him, she doesn’t realize he is her Nanaki. That Reiji doesn’t exist in reality. The driver will send him back as he drives straight into the darkness. When the bus reaches back into the village, he is missing so Mitsumune is forced to take the steering. Masaki is still finding Reiji and sad she hasn’t been successful. Suddenly Mikage and Lovepon catch her. They are going to kill her for real as they blame her for tearing them all apart. The bus appears out of nowhere, almost ramming into them. Mitsumune is back. But don’t look now, there is a huge monster ahead!

Episode 12
Since Hayato pops up, everyone could guess this grandma Nanaki is his. Even more shocking, Nanaki is under Hayato’s control. Hayato is brainwashed and mad as he continues blaming Masaki for taking away his only friend. Then Mitsumune’s fine speech makes Hayato even more confused. He wants to be his equal. He wants to be his friend who can be there when he is in pain. Unfortunately, the confusion rises because Koharun is trying to convince Hayato not to listen to them and insists he is being deceived. This time the Nanaki goes berserk and is going to kill them all. As Hayato injured his leg, Mitsumune carries him as they make a run. Koharun picks up the walkie-talkie Mitsumune dropped. Kamiyama is trying to contact Mitsumune. It is revealed Koharun is Kamiyama’s daughter and she is doing all this in hopes of reversing her dad’s aging by finding his Nanaki. He realizes she was the one who drugged him that night. Reiji overheard her and corrects her thinking that by provoking a Nanaki she could amplify a fading trauma and prevent a Nanaki from vanishing. She is wrong because Nanaki is inseparable from oneself. Kamiyama is fine with the way things are now but not Koharun. She has always looked up to him as a researcher. Inside the tunnel when Mitsumune can go no more further, Hayato now stands his ground. He always thought he was helping Mitsumune but realized he was the one being helped. As he faces his Nanaki, they both disappear. Reiji explains Hayato has accepted his Nanaki and has returned to the real world. Masaki is happy to see Reiji again but he tells her to take a good look at herself. Masaki was always lonely and wanted a friend. And so Reiji was created as her imaginary friend. He was always with her and gave her solace. Masaki cannot accept this and runs away. Reiji tells Mitsumune to go after her while he tells the truth to the rest. Long ago, Masaki always called Reiji’s name whenever she is in pain. But recently she has started to call a different name: Mitsumune.

When he finally catches up with her, they see a shy cute ribbon critter. WTF?! Is this Mitsumune’s new Nanaki? Masaki comes clean with him that because it would look weird in front of others to have an imaginary friend, she started pretending Reiji couldn’t be seen in front of others. Reiji was also in a way made to say things she wanted to hear. She thought by coming to Nanaki Village she could be with him together. Reiji is back at the village with the rest (Jack and Hyouketsu were easily defeated by Valkana and Nanko). Although he tells what is happening, some don’t really care. A Nanaki’s roar is heard in the background. Reiji reminds them that they should know by now that as long as they don’t leave the village, they’ll be safe. Because the Nanaki who is part of them feels scared of being left behind. Remember, all of them ran away to start a new life. This means rejecting their past selves. Thus Nanaki are being rejected by themselves and not by anyone else. Everyone start to realize that each has their own hardship and believed only themselves was having a hard time. They were all just the same and easier to believe everyone around is having a great time. When Masaki accepts Mitsumune, she feels Reiji back in her heart. This means Reiji suddenly vanished before everyone’s eyes. Masaki returns to the real world and Mitsumune promises he will soon follow suit. The group is still divided to stay or leave. While a big majority want to go back, some feel they want to remain here as there feel reality is no different. The small who group who chose to remain include Koharun, Valkana, Lion, Hyouketsu and Jack. Those who left find themselves back on the bus (including Hayato, Mitsumune and Masaki). The bus makes its way across the bridge.

Lost Souls, Lost Plot
Despite the less than stellar reviews and not so forgiving criticisms from many about this series, honestly I find this quite interesting and intriguing. At least for the initial episodes till I suspected what Nanaki actually was, it started to go a little downhill. And then with that kind of ‘ending’, I think the slope went a little steeper. I am not saying that this is actually a bad anime or do I agree with those who really want their drama mystery to be oh so perfect. But it could have been a little better. How? Don’t ask me, I’m not the script writer. Hah! Trying to pass the buck here. In a nutshell, this anime is pretty decent and slightly better than the average but as the series nears its end and once the mysterious Nanaki is known, things started to get a little lukewarm.

Now, with about 30 characters in the series, you can either say it is a hit or miss. It is both mixed feelings for me. But you have got to agree that while some get more prominent screen time and even a little peek at their tragic back story, the rest felt like as though they were there just to make up the numbers. Heck, I don’t even remember some of their names till the end. Sometimes I feel that these lesser characters can be done without and that it wouldn’t really add anything to the plot or advance the story. Like a certain fatty who only loves to eat – what was his name again? It’s just slipping my mind… Something along the lines of Doraemon… And there is a pair of love birds eloping together who would make single otakus into jealousy rage because of how lovey-dovey they are that it makes you have goosebumps… Oh, I remember there is a cutie idol trying to get away from a stalker and thus on this tour. No you don’t remember? Fine. Not that she mattered anyway.

So as I said they were there to make up for the numbers because you know, it gives you an impression that this would be some sort of horror survival series. I mean, logically that is how I would think. The only reason why there would be so many cast of characters in a small group and given the setting is a mysterious isolated village, you’d be inclined to start thinking that some sort of evil force is going to pick them off one by one. And here I was, trying to even make a guess on who is next to go missing and be presumed dead. And guess what? Nobody died!!! So when supposedly presumed dead characters come back to live, you would think that it is a cheap and lazy twist but then again if you go back, those characters weren’t confirmed dead in the first place. We just assumed. So at least when we have a reasonably large number of people, our odds of suspecting somebody would be less as the suspicion will be spread out. It would be easier to pinpoint a culprit in a group of 5 compared to 30 people, right?

As for the main characters like Mitsumune and Masaki, despite getting a lot of coverage and in fact more than the rest, somehow I couldn’t feel a little disappointed when the supposed big revelation about them especially Masaki is revealed. Although everyone is a worthy suspect, it is as though the producers were trying to make us think and pinpoint there is more than meets the eyes to Masaki. The way she acts is strange and she can’t really explain herself properly, which leads to her being suspected the most. There were a few mind boggling actions from her as well especially when she tells everyone not to go beyond the tunnel but refuses to say what it is. Does she know or does she not? So it makes her all more suspicious but in the end when her revelation came to light, you wonder what that all was for. Was she just trolling us just to find Reiji? I just don’t understand. Of course being the cutest girl in the group, she can’t be the baddie, can she? And Reiji felt like a convenient plot just to end the story. Why the heck didn’t he show up earlier and save them from this despair?

Then we have Mitsumune as one of those main characters who is of the weak type. I don’t know. Sometimes he just annoys me. Maybe it is the way he always protects and stands up for Masaki despite not knowing what is wrong. Sure, it is a good thing not to jump to conclusion or to have a herd mentality but it makes him seem like he has a crush on her and she must be right in some way and thus the need to save her from being turned on by the group. Well, it is a good thing that he was right in a way because had Masaki be the ‘antagonist’, it would truly be a big slap in the face and a moment of WTF. Really.

The rest of the so called main characters (my presumption they have more screen time and impact than the rest) are also a mixed baggage. Like this Valkana dude who is so full of angst like as though he could explode any minute and his fist will start flying faster than the words coming out from his mouth. Turns out he isn’t such a bad guy after all despite his angry outlook and loud outburst at times. Though he is most prominent in the initial episodes, he starts ‘fading’ when Mikage starts to become the unofficial leader in trying to lead the group to persecute Masaki. Again, this guy also has lots of anger but he doesn’t show it on the outside like Valkana. Lastly, Hayato or Speedstar as his alias is known by others in the group feels like the catalyst to end it all because of his insecurity that his best friend-cum-puppet won’t listen to him anymore. I wanted to insert some gay jokes between them but it just doesn’t seem to fit (that wasn’t a gay joke). And there you have it, with Hayato going crazy about Masaki and making Mitsumune into a straight guy, he sets off the final epic monster boss battle that has one defeating it by just accepting it all. That easy, huh? And Lovepon is a crazy yandere character whose favourite word seems to be screaming “Execution!”. I think this takes up half her dialogue lines.

I had my suspicions on Koharun too. Because she seems to be getting more screen time than Dahara as the tour guide and she was seen to be interacting more with Valkana as the series’ passes. Again, I don’t understand about her mission to create a Nanaki to save her father and thus she experimented with the group on it. Because of that, it helped contribute to my little disappointment as how the series ended and the supposed big revelation that was to be. Not too sure if in the future she will be bringing another set of unsuspecting people to the village since she isn’t giving up on her father yet. And it is like Hyouketsu and Jack’s existence in this series is to be her lackey. Jack could have been the most dangerous character seeing he is the silent type and nobody knows what is on his mind but look at how he turns out. Yeah, we just don’t care anymore.

Speaking of the revelation that was Nanaki, maybe this is one reason why many felt disappointed with the series. Even when it is confirmed what Nanaki may actually be, I too somewhat started to feel like that. I don’t know. Maybe I was hoping for some sort of legendary monster from another world? Who’d knew that Nanaki was the fear of your past that is coming to haunt you and preventing you from leaving the village. Just like Hotel California, you can check in anytime you like but you can’t check out or ever leave. I have already had a faint guess of what Nanaki was halfway through when the group started to give different accounts of what they saw and heard. Because logically if everyone sees and hears differently, it could only be that something personal that would only allow that particular person to experience. Thus when the truth of Nanaki was revealed, it wasn’t really shocking. I just felt a bit letdown.

The only other mind boggling thing was about Nanaki Village itself. What bugged me was, were there other similar people who lived here? For how long then? More importantly, what happened to them? Will they just disappear into thin air when they lose their personality? Because it is hinted that some places in the village had people living just like yesterday and up to a year, it just boggled me how are there people living there and then suddenly vanished without a trace. They couldn’t have left because their Nanaki would have kept them in. My only theory is that Nanaki Village is cut off from our current time flow. It exists in its own time and space. The last batch of people who were here may look like they visited the place years ago but Nanaki Village, it might have been just yesterday as far as the village is concerned. After all, who knows how many similar villages are there in the first place and could it also be that for all those who chose to remain live in the same area but just in a different time flow? What I mean is that the previous batch there might be those who stayed back and they are still around but we can’t see them because they are existing in a different dimension. Therefore I am intrigued about those who stayed back. What will happen to them? And for those who went back to reality, what will happen to them too after they experienced this? A short follow up would be welcoming but I highly doubt anybody would be interested since it won’t make a difference to the overall story whatsoever.

In the end, it isn’t whether it is right or wrong for those who stay or leave. They have made a decision to move on with their choice. I am assuming those who leave have accepted their Nanaki and thus the reason why they are able to get out. It means they are willing to face reality and society once more for better or worse. I am not sure for those who remained have vanquished their Nanaki because perhaps it doesn’t matter to them as long as they don’t get out, they won’t be in danger of facing their Nanaki. They too have decided a new life in this new direction as they believe they will not have any real chance whatsoever back in society anymore.

The interesting and subtle concept this series explored is the fact all of these youngsters wanted to restart their life again for the better. It just shows that today’s generation are so vulnerable that they could be hurt by mere words and offended by everything. Heh… But the point is that everyone has their own hardships. Nobody goes through life like a bed of roses. Well, maybe those super spoilt rich kids who get all their wealth from their dads. While some of the tragic back stories we see are truly heartbreaking, it makes you wonder if life was that hard to have them make this decision to abandon reality and society. At first we might call it stupid and silly but it is not funny when it happens to you. So in a subtle way, this series might be just telling us that with everyone having their own set of problems, the only person who can overcome and defeat it (and at most accept it) is only yourself. Because if you don’t, your past will always come back to haunt you. Forever. Only when you bury the past, you can only move forward.

The other interesting thing seen is the interaction of a group of people living together. This is like Survivor material where alliances are formed and as slippery as shifting sand. We quickly see who the leaders and who are the followers are, the sane ones and the crazy ones. There are all kinds of interesting and shady characters even for a small group like this. But sadly this series doesn’t delve more on this human behaviour and psychology aspect because it would be really interesting to see everyone’s clashing personalities and even a herd mentality and so called democratic majority just to save their own asses especially when they are dealing with the unknown and that is where all your stereotype beliefs make you think crazy things. Towards the end, it feels somewhat lazy as it feels like the producers got lazy and said, “Ah, f*ck all of it!” and then turn most of the characters into lethargic people who seem like they are high on drugs. Don’t fight and resist it. Come join us. It feels so good…

Art and drawing are pretty decent but I thought some of the older characters look like high school kids like Valkana and Mikage. Their past shows they are already working in the adult world and yet when I looked at them at first, I thought they were still in high school. Thus I thought the only real adult here is the driver since he is definitely the oldest of the lot. At first, the Nanaki scares me because of how creepy they look like. Especially those surreal eyes over them. But then when I get to know what Nanaki was and how each of them is tailored to the characters’ past, it wasn’t that creepy anymore. Other than that, the sceneries and backgrounds are rather okay but sometimes there are a few scenes where it gets too dark to see anything. Maybe it is for the jump scare effect but I don’t recall having being frightened out of it although I did maintain my alertness. Phew.

The opening theme is rock based, Gensou Drive by Ami Wajima while the ending theme is Ketsuro by Rina Katahira. After the suspense of the episode, I find it a bit odd that the ending theme is such a slow and lovely acoustic ballad. Maybe after all that mystery and drama, you need a relaxing song to calm your nerves down? I also find it a bit odd that the mugs of the characters grace the ending credits animation. I suppose everyone will have their fair share since 3 characters will be featured in one episode for this part. Yeah, guarantee that no 2 ending credits animation will be the same!

Overall, personally this is an interesting series as the mystery in the initial episodes keeps you glued and guessing what is behind it all. But with many weak characters and a weak ending to boot (everyone is divided to either stay or leave and nobody died!!!), maybe this will be your Nanaki of disappointment after what started out as something with promising only to end up in an unexciting manner. It would be just freaking scary to see anime characters haunting you whenever you feel like you have grown up and wanting to take more responsibilities, ditching the anime life only to have this sort of Nanaki trapping you back in and continuing your uneventful otaku life. Maybe that is why I have never managed to break out from my otaku lifestyle over more than a decade ago… I’m truly lost in a world of my own… Well, it’s not a bad thing so far :-).

Hey, wait a minute. I knew Hibike! Euphonium was going to get a sequel but I didn’t expect they came out with it so soon. Or is it… So okay, it isn’t anything about that series but are they trying to make another ‘competitor’ for a high school symphony theme? However that is just what we assume when we read the setting of Haruchika ~Haruta To Chika Wa Seishun Suru~. Once you start watching this series, you will find how strikingly different it is. This show isn’t even a musical setting. Yes, it does involve a group of students of a high school band but that is where the similarity ends. This is more like a detective show. Say what? So put away your musical scores and instruments and instead put on your thinking caps because it is time to solve baffling mysteries of the high school from a bunch of kids who have too much time playing detective instead of practising their music. Hmm… Maybe they have got not enough members to play a proper symphony. Or they might be just too damn good either that they have time to poke their noses in other people’s businesses. What’s music got to do with it? They should have joined a detective club instead…

Episode 1
It is Chika Homura’s first day at Shimizu Minami High School and she wants to get a new start when the volleyball team bugs her to join them! She was once on a team but doing menial chores. It was tiring and she didn’t want to waste her youth like that. She thought of joining the wind instrument club to obtain a cuter persona and even had grandma bought her a flute. She meets the club’s teacher, Shinjirou Kusakabe and is surprised that her childhood friend, Haruta Kamijou is also part of this club. Apparently Chika was a big bully towards Haruta but she would have him not remember all that. The club currently only consists of 5 members. The others being Keisuke Katagiri the president and twins Kae and Sae Asahina. Thank God I’m not seeing double. But there is already an incident in the music room. Music notes written on the blackboard with red paint. There is also an ambiguous note left for Kusakabe. With the kind of white flowers next to it, they think it is a dying or revenge message. Since Chika is so blur on everything (like yours truly), Haruta explains that the music notes could be some sort of music cryptogram. Like that Art of the Fugue in which Bach hid his name inside the musical score. As they can’t figure it out, it is back to practising more music. You know Chika sucks at playing the flute when they comment she should be practising alone first. Chika doesn’t mind since she would get some private lessons from Kusakabe. I see…

Back to the music case, Haruta continues to decipher if this is some sort of substitution cipher code but it wasn’t. Time is up so they have to clean up the board. Chika decides to take a picture of this and send it to her mom. That is when Haruta notices something. He realizes everything and has solved it. It uses a simple code that combines notes and numbers to identify a letter based on a keyboard. The message is a personal love message to Kusakabe from a graduated student pouring her feelings into this message that she was unable to tell him so. Kusakabe had already deduced it a long time but as for who that student is, I guess it is best we respect that privacy. Chika never thought unrequited love could be so painful. Haruta thought he could figure something out on Kusakabe’s secret. He was a successful conductor who went overseas but when he returned to Japan, he gave that all up. He only came to this school last year to become a music teacher. Chika thought she could be early to the music room for once but Haruta is already there. Haruta believes Chika likes Kusakabe and the only reason why she joined this club. And then this disturbing thing we all find out because Haruta also hints he is in love with Kusakabe! OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Unbelievable! This is the weirdest love triangle ever!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 2
The wind instrument club is handing out flyers to get new recruits. When Chika is pushy towards Miyoko Narushima, the latter is not amused and slaps her hand. Haruta knows Narushima is an accomplished oboist and wants her in the club (in their bid to have more members and compete in the Nationals at Fumon Hall). But something went wrong and she stopped. As they try to hear her out, they become her gophers to do errands. However she is still not opening up. Talking to her friend, Mayu Nishikawa, they find out the reason Narushima quit playing the oboe: The day she was at the Nationals last year, it was the same day her little brother Satoshi died. He was hospitalized for a long time and when his condition took a turn for the worse, Narushima may have felt guilty she wasn’t there in his time of need. They pay a visit to her house and she is not really keen on welcoming them. Inside her room is a cabinet filled with puzzles that her brother loved. Haruta wonders if she had solved them all. He doesn’t think so. Not in her current state because she is carrying a burden that can never be lightened and she is doing it alone. They can help her overcome it but she kicks them out. Before that, she gives them a Rubik’s Cube. This is one which she could never solve. Because all its blocks are white! She gives them a time limit to solve it but of course she is sure they can never solve it.

The days pass and go and they seem nowhere near in solving this mystery. On the penultimate day, Kusakabe hints something and soon Haruta knows what it is. This puzzle is not punishment and was made out of love. They call Narushima to solve it with them. She narrates how Satoshi loved puzzles and she used to spend time solving them with him until she joined a band. She believes this unsolvable puzzle is his punishment for her for abandoning him. Haruta explains that this scrambled message no matter how they unscramble will always return back to square one. He never told her a solution because he wanted her to step forward from this scrambled state. With the girls holding Narushima down, Haruta then starts painting different colours over the cube to make it look like a real Rubik’s Cube. This cube is a message left by Satoshi for her to keep moving forward and to paint her own pure white world in her own colours. Shortly when the paint dries, a layer starts to peel off. A hidden message is revealed after they unscramble it. Satoshi congratulates her for solving it. Narushima becomes emotional. Soon she picks up her oboe and as promised, joins the club, much to Chika’s delight.

Episode 3
Chika is probably sucking at her flute again and thinks another personal lesson by Kusakabe would suffice. But Haruta sees through her plan and suggests calling a specialist flute instructor to start from scratch! Boo hoo! Later Chika spots Haruta and Narushima helping the drama club since the club’s president, Shunya Nagoe is Haruta’s classmate. Also on this club is someone Narushima knows, Maren Sei. He is Chinese-American and wants to leave the drama club. She is baffled why she ended up in this club since he was a good saxophonist. Narushima is really concerned that something went wrong since his dream was to become a famous saxophonist like his father. Nagoe thinks she must like him. She didn’t deny… They agree to find a way to help him and have all parties happy. Haruta shows Chika an album Maren’s musician family have produced. If they don’t look alike it is because Maren is adopted. Maren looks through his suitcase supposedly left behind by his real parents. Something about a little brother and being abandoned. When Haruta has finished writing his story for Nagoe, the latter rips it apart! This has them start insulting the other’s club and thus it is decided an acting battle on stage to see whose club is better. Haruta will have Chika and Narushima on his side while Nagoya will have his star actress, Yaeko Fujima AKA Maya and Maren as well as handicap. The competition will be an unscripted play called Exit Game. Basically in the situational act they will have to try to convince a member of the other them to leave the stage (Narushima and Maren in particular) and the opposing team trying to prevent it.

The act starts out with the 6 of them as counterfeiters hiding in a base until the time limit of the statute limitations expire. So we’ve got pretty weird improvisations from both sides in trying to make or keep the other side from getting off. Like Haruta bringing in a little doggy and Nagoe accusing one of them to be an undercover cop. Then there is the time difference on their watch