They say that if you snooze, you lose. To some, love is a game. A game whoever yields first loses because that is a sign of weakness-cum-submission and allows the other party to dominate you. Therefore it is a battle of wits to make the other party confess first in Kaguya-sama Wa Kokurasetai. Yup. Love is more than just a game at this rate. Love is war. But not necessarily that war is love. Our main characters here who secretly have a crush on each other are engaged in some twisted battle of wits to make the other seemingly look like they have confessed. When you have both donkeys who are stubborn and don’t budge because of pride, no points to guess who will turn out to be the ultimate losers. Just a matter of how long they are willing to drag out this stubbornness…

Episode 1A
In Shuchiin Academy, Kaguya Shinomiya as the student council vice president is the daughter of a conglomerate and is talented in many fields. Then we have Miyuki Shirogane as the student council president who is the top scorer. Both are awed together by everyone else so much so they think they are dating. However with that said, both of them have this twisted pride of not being the first one to confess because the one who does so is considered the loser. Hence a battle of wits in trying to make the other confess first. Hence nothing happened for months… But Chika Fujiwara, the secretary who has no idea about this battle, seems to break that pattern as she gives them a couple of tickets to a romance movie. It seemed Shirogane might be giving in when he almost sounded like he was going to invite Kaguya. Luckily he manages to turn it around by giving her the option. Kaguya could easily turn him down but all would have been for naught since she was the one who planted the tickets in Chika’s hands. As both try to mentally strategize, Chika shows another pair of tickets to a children’s movie if romance is not their type. With this chaos thrown into the mix, their brains start overloading thinking for a solution. They crave for something sweet and there is only a manjuu in the room. As they race to grab it, Chika eats it and leaves. Battle result: Both lost.

Episode 1B
Kaguya planted a love letter in her shoebox just to rile Shirogane as she thinks of going to meet this guy. She is waiting for him to stop her and when that happens, it’s her victory. Of course Shirogane doesn’t want this but uses his position that he doesn’t endorse illicit activities between a man and woman. He even threatens to tell the teacher. Kaguya fights back that she is willing to even get expelled for the sake of true love. With Shirogane using assumptions if she would go for a better guy and she mentions there could be a possibility, this is enough ‘evidence’ for Shirogane to fire back this isn’t true love then. Still, Kaguya pretends she is going to this guy and the only thing that could stop her is his teary eyed begging. Too bad it is Chika who is clinging and crying all over her not to leave! In the end, it is Kaguya’s lost.

Episode 1C
Kaguya sees Shirogane simple bento and she would sure love to taste it. However Chika beats her to it and he even shares some with her. This has Kaguya looking at her with scorn but Shirogane thinks she is mocking his miserable lunch. He tries to show off more by making Chika eat more and of course she scorns even more. If this is what Chika wants, it’s war! No more friends. Next day, Kaguya brings in a super high class bento. The duo are amazed but continue to mind their own bento. Kaguya tries to tempt Shirogane to try some but he replies he has nothing of equivalent value to give her. Kaguya feels defeated and even more so when he hears Shirogane made Chika’s bento. That’s it. No more friends for real. Shirogane quickly finishes his and leaves. That is when Chika pops an octopus wiener in Kaguya’s mouth. A taste of heaven. It’s like she’s got her humanity back and considers Chika her friend again. In that sense, Kaguya ‘won’ on technical grounds that Shirogane escaped.

Episode 2A
Shirogane bought a new Smartphone and wants to of course get Kaguya’s address without asking her. Kaguya knows his game and will not do so since it would be shameful for a girl to ask a boy his. However Shirogane shows Chika his childhood profile picture in which he will soon change. Kaguya is interested to see so she fakes her tears and cries of being left out. Panicky Shirogane shows her but realizes his mistake and pulls back. But for that split second Kaguya has seen and memorized it. She no longer has a reason to ask his address. That is when Chika points out Kaguya’s old model doesn’t support the latest app. And so they both lost today’s battle…

Episode 2B
With Chika suggesting to go somewhere for the holidays, Shirogane fantasizes the mountains as the ideal place to get Kaguya to confess to him. However Kaguya prefers the sea. Although she fantasizes of a sunset confession and using her swimsuit to bewitch him, she knows Shirogane can’t swim. She has also prepared a list of answers to counter the dangers he suggests. And when she points out the mountains has bugs which he hates, it looks like a sure victory for her. Until Chika says her body has grown and needs to get a new swimsuit. Kaguya realizes she will lose to her and switches to the mountains. And now Shirogane wants the sea?! He hates bugs more than he can’t swim. Can’t decide? Let Chika decide. What’s it gonna be? How about Mt Osore. It sounds like a place where the dead soul roams. Today’s battle ruined… Is that the same as a loss?

Episode 2C
A guy comes to Shirogane for love advice. Too bad he didn’t know he is a virgin and Shirogane fearing his reputation may come to light if he gives the wrong advice, he likes like he knows it all. Of course Kaguya is eavesdropping outside and would love to hear his opinions. So this guy wants to confess to a girl he likes, Nagisa Kashiwagi but is unsure if she likes him. But Shirogane downplays all the friendzone signs to confidently tell him she likes him. This idiot thinks Shirogane is a genius! It’s all in the confidence. Shirogane even demonstrates this wall slamming technique for size (something he inadvertently practises on the door that Kaguya is hiding behind to make her heart flutter). The guy is grateful to him but gets the wrong idea he and Kaguya are dating. Shirogane refutes that and lists down all her bad points but suddenly praises everything good about her (because now he spotted her hiding). The irony of Shirogane telling him to confess because nothing will happen unless he takes action. Don’t those words resonate with him? Oddly the guy did all that and now they’re a couple. Meanwhile Kaguya is in good mood and this puzzles Shirogane. This means today’s battle is actually a loss for him.

Episode 3A
Based on a magazine, it seems 34% of correspondence already did their first time in their teens. Although this flusters Chika and Shirogane but Kaguya brushes it off and claims she has also done it! Even to her new born cousin?! When she claims they are not raised in a loving environment, it seems this might be the confession plan she needs. She thinks Shirogane will be pressured that he still doesn’t have a girlfriend and will confess to her. Shirogane on the other hand has no experience and is a virgin but ironically popular. Hence he cannot lie and say he has. This has him ask what does her first time mean. Due to her strict upbringing that term only means kissing to her. Hence Chika explains in ‘explicit’ detail what it really means. Wow. In shock. It’s her loss for being this ignorant.

Episode 3B
Shirogane claims he knows her well so Kaguya suggests playing a game. Usually one would ask 20 questions that could only be answered yes or no. If you can determine what it is by 20 questions, you win. Because Shirogane says he knows all about her, she cuts the questions down by half. So as he asks her stuffs and puzzled by the answers given, when he asks if it is something she likes, she starts to act flustering. This has him think he is the answer. A few more questions seem to likely point to that. Is this her way of indirect confession? When he thinks of all the nice expressions she had, he also remembers she has nasty ones. His answer is Chika’s dog. Correct.

Episode 3C
Kaguya is often chauffeured to school but for some reason today, a cat is hiding and doesn’t want to come out of the car engine?! Because of that, she takes the liberty to walk to school. An experience she longs to have. Along the way, she sees a crying girl who seems to be afraid of crossing the road without her friend. She helps her do so but there are much more crossings to come. I guess after a while and she’s still crying about not wanting to be alone, Kaguya suggests even if the official group crossing is over, she can make appointments with her friends to meet and walk to school together. I guess she never thought of that. Oh look. Her friend is here and they can go to school together. Kaguya is perhaps lost but here comes Shirogane peddling his bicycle, almost late for school. He wants her to hop on because hell they aren’t going to break the school rules as student council. School rules > Traffic rules? Kaguya’s chauffeuring days return but each time she remembers that day, she smiles to herself.

Episode 4A
With Kaguya putting on cat ears as part of the party planned to welcome French students, Shirogane’s heart is racing like hell. Of course he is holding it really hard and Kaguya thinks there is no reaction. When Chika puts cat ears on Shirogane, it is Kaguya’s turn to have her heart racing. As usual, she tries to hide it hard. Kaguya suggests taking a photo and Shirogane fears she might use this is for future extortion. How about both having their pictures taken then? Not a bad deal since Shirogane will get to legally have that photo. All they need to do is smile but since they can’t keep a straight face looking at each other, they look as though they’re going to fight. In the end, Chika confiscates the cat ears as everyone start thinking the scariness of cat ears.

Episode 4B
In order to but decorations and essentials for the party, somebody has to give up their free time on the weekend to do the shopping. Chika suggests a forbidden word game in which the winner is excused from it. Each player holds up a word he/she doesn’t know and if he/she says that word, you lose. Shirogane thinks of putting the word that Chika often says. Check it out? His goal is to have Chika win so he can go out with Kaguya. But Chika starts rapping! Yo! Yo! Kaguya is not speaking and despite it’s a way to win, they’re not going anywhere. Chika then tells her sob story how she is excluded from conversations. Kaguya comforts her and says she loves her straightforwardness. This causes Kaguya to lose since ‘love’ is her forbidden word! Chika was just straight up lying! This makes it easier for Shirogane. All he has to do is let Chika win but the problem is with Chika putting up that bluff, he now has trust issues. Besides, his pride will not allow him to hurt others at the expense of his own. This means his ‘date’ with Kaguya is unacceptable. Shirogane is going to get serious in this game but then he’s out! Seems his forbidden world is ‘serious’! Kaguya has the last laugh since she understands his character perfectly.

Episode 4C
Although they have exchanged numbers, Kaguya is still awaiting Shirogane’s first text. Her maid, Ai Hayasaka knows she has feelings for him and tries to confirm it. When Kaguya says she just likes the qualities she is lacks in him and it is not love, Hayasaka wonders if it is okay for Shirogane and Chika to date. I’m sure that deadly aura means no. She doesn’t want her best friend to be taken away either. Hayasaka suggests calling since he is expecting her to text. Hayasaka then calls on her behalf. Ready or not, you’re on the line. But it is Shirogane’s father who picks up! After passing to his son, Kaguya learns he is in the bath. Hayasaka trying to fuel the fire telling her she is talking to someone naked right now! He manages to make arrangements for tomorrow but Kaguya can’t take it any longer and hangs up. Eventually he finishes his sentence via text. Finally she got her first text. But next day, it is raining heavily. Kaguya even thinks of going because Shirogane might be waiting. Hayasaka doesn’t think so. Yes he is. And it took her 30 minutes to send a cancellation text.

Episode 4D
At the party, Shirogane can only speak a smatter of French. Kaguya sounds impressive. Chika can speak fluently too since her mom was a diplomat!!! Oh no. Does this mean Shirogane is the only one who can’t speak French?! Feeling isolated. This party seems to be set up by the principal to test Shirogane if he has what it takes to be student council president. Hence he sends the French’s vice student council, Betsy Beltoise to give it all to him. She has a razor sharp tongue as she insults everything about him that would make even God cry! Fortunately or unfortunately, due to his limited understanding, Shirogane is like cool with whatever he says. The principal is shocked that he can withstand her attack! With Betsy increasing her attack, Kaguya doesn’t like what she said and counters it all equally with her French tongue. Enough to send Betsy running away and fearing Japanese girls! After the party, Kaguya feels ashamed for doing all that but Shirogane reminds her he doesn’t know what they’re talking about except that Betsy badmouthed her and she stood up for him. Kaguya then says something inaudible and this only has Shirogane pleading for her to say it again.

Episode 5A
Kashiwagi comes to ask Kaguya for love advice. She agrees. What does she want to ask? How to break up with her boyfriend! Yes, it’s that girl whom that boy asked Shirogane for advice. She claims he suddenly confessed to her and she was shocked and at a lost at that time. Now she feels their distance has been growing. Kaguya tries to describe liking someone based on the unseen traits but she’s just describing about her preferences of Shirogane. Kashiwagi could easily picked that up if not for eavesdropping Chika who wants in on this love game. First she has them imagine their love being with someone else. They don’t like it (even more so for Kaguya). That means jealousy and this proves you are in love with that person. With Kaguya not wanting to lose out and suggesting some Romeo and Juliet trope, Chika’s intervention means it gets blown out of proportion. WTF fight against the inequality of society?! Yeah, Kashiwagi believes it. In the aftermath, we see them both as a couple but doing charity work asking for donations. They were already interested in doing charity in the first place. Kaguya also sees Shirogane helping them out since they are eager to help but have no experience. This makes him want to support them. Kaguya is impressed with him and this means today’s battle it’s her loss.

Episode 5B
Shirogane sucks in sports. He is having a hard time practising for next week’s volleyball match when Chika spots him. Did she see him how much he sucks? Well, her awesome perception of him still didn’t change. But after seeing how good Chika is, looks like he is forced to learn from the master. As you can see, he continues to suck. Missing the serves and somehow even slapping himself! Chika examines that it is because he closes his eyes and hence the brutal training begins. Yup, to the point of even sleeping with the ball! But still, he sucks. When he refuses to give up because he wants to look cool, Chika takes it as there is someone he likes. She keeps bugging for a name but that is when he shows his manly side and succeeds! Hooray! Now Chika can teach him how to toss and receive. Damn… On match day, Shirogane is flawless! So cool! And Chika is having bandages everywhere, talking as though she is his mom who raised him! Victory for Shirogane and Chika!

Episode 5C
It is a rainy day and it looks like the perfect excuse for that umbrella sharing incident. This would normally work if one forgot his/her umbrella. But in the case of Shirogane and Kaguya, they both forgot! Actually both of them have it but cannot admit because doing so will be a loss. Hence it becomes a game of exposing the other’s lie. Shirogane moves first that she may be lying but doesn’t have enough info to have anything conclusive. Then Kaguya hits back. She did not see him cycle today and in fact ride the train. So if he claims he didn’t check the weather forecast, of all days why take the train? Is he lying? Please check your bag again. Yeah, this is actually Shirogane’s fault for not planning far ahead unlike Kaguya who did lots of preparation and research! It’s scary! Kaguya is moments from nailing his coffin and perhaps scoring the biggest victory when Chika comes by to lend her hers! Just ruined everything. But it saved Shirogane’s neck. So upset that Kaguya sublets the umbrella to him. He borrows just half of it. And in the end, both shared the umbrella. A tie for today’s match.

Episode 6A
Yuu Ishigami is the student council treasurer. He is good at data processing and indispensable to the council. However he wants to resign! He thinks Kaguya is going to kill him! Ishigami can tell a person’s intention just by looking in the eyes (albeit just 5% accuracy). A month ago, he found some coffee coupons underneath a table. It was set up by Kaguya to have Shirogane to go out with her. When she is about to take the coupons, it is missing. She realizes it is in the hands of Ishigami and she threatened him not to tell anyone about it or else. Then last week he asked if she loves Shirogane. Her words don’t match her wobbly actions. In that case, Ishigami plans to tell Shirogane about this and that is when Kaguya almost strangled him! He thinks she is an assassin! And then Kaguya comes in covered in blood and a knife with hand! OMG! Is she really going to kill?! Turns out she was just helping the drama club. Ishigami warns Shirogane she is just playing cute to let his guard down. They almost lost it when Chika comes in ‘dead’! Yeah, just fooling around. Shirogane tells Ishigami to have more faith in his friends. Can he when Kaguya reminds Ishigami not to give Shirogane a hard time? This means she has been eavesdropping about his resignation! Now Ishigami cannot get away from the woman he fears…

Episode 6B
Chika has them take a psychological test in love. The answer given corresponds to your love life. Of course this is a setup by Kaguya as she has read all the questions. All she needs is to get Shirogane to answer in a certain way and hence making it look like an indirect confession. Hence the question of walking in a dark place and the first person that comes to mind who taps your back is actually your lover. Since Kaguya knows the answer, she answers Chika. Ishigami fears Kaguya and names her. Shirogane is suspicious of Chika’s eager behaviour and believes this is a trap question so he answers his sister. Chika thinks he is a siscon. Ishigami now thinks he has Stockholm Syndrome for Kaguya? Don’t kill yourself… However Chika decides to look for a question on the internet. This throws uncertainty for Kaguya. In a field of flowers, how many would you pick? Just a bouquet. Shirogane will have a truck load. While Shirogane and Chika argue about this, Kaguya peeks on the answer. The amount of flowers indicate how much you love that person. Embarrassed with Shirogane’s truck load, she shuts the computer.

Episode 6C
Hayasaka ‘lectures’ Kaguya about beauty and trendy because you don’t want opportunities stolen by women who only has good looks going for them, no? She thinks nails are the in thing although she is totally off. Hence Kaguya does up her nails and hopes Shirogane will notice although she does have her reservations. She tries to make it so freaking obvious but he didn’t notice. So frustrating. Actually he did and just pretended not to. He thinks if he compliments her, it would be sexual harassment. Ishigami then notes Chika using a different shampoo. He meant to compliment but the way he said he has Chika commenting he is a creepy person. He lost his mood and goes home. Hopefully not to die. This has Shirogane give more thoughts about this. At the end of the day as Kaguya leaves, disappointed all this is for nought, Shirogane then comes up to her. He is about to comment her nails but drops the idea halfway and pedals off. This only leaves Kaguya flustered and even more frustrated she couldn’t hear him finish his sentence.

Episode 7A
Looks like that guy is back to ask Shirogane more love advice. Yeah, he wants to hold hands with Kashiwagi now. This sounds like a relatively easy question so Shirogane makes some expensive suggestions. Can’t afford it? Work! He also has sweaty palms that he needs to solve. Surgery too expensive? Work for it! Could it be a ploy for Shirogane to hire someone as extra help at where he works? Kaguya is eavesdropping and won’t allow that because she has summer vacation plans for him. Good thing or not, here comes Chika thinking she could play cupid. But after hearing out the problem, she gets disappointed at how low level the issue is. Couldn’t he just hold her hand normally? All Shirogane could do was to wish his best. You don’t need a job for that! Just will power! And with that, the guy manages to hold Kashiwagi’s hand. So easy. And Shirogane loses today’s match since he failed to recruit a part timer…

Episode 7B
Other than social standings, the school has also a caste system in terms of club activities. So those who aren’t in one are ranked as inferior. Like Ishigami. So he is complaining so much about it and is even going as far as to suggest some happiness tax. Yup, slash budget for every couple for every club! Shirogane suggests he could join even though he is in the student council because the ladies are doing it. Chika in the table top game club and Kaguya in archery. That is when Ishigami starts to badmouth their boob size in relation to their clubs. Cliché moment for the ladies to be standing behind him. He hit the brakes too late… Punishment from Chika! He’s fortunate Chika ‘forgives’ him but not Kaguya… Ishigami is now scared as he goes home to do his will… Then the girls try to argue for Shirogane to join their club. For that moment Shirogane felt like a winner because it’s like his harem fighting over him.

Episode 7C
Chika is glad Kaguya is able to smile. Long ago she always casted this cold and distant exterior. Her dream is to make her laugh like mad someday. So when Chika talks about her dog’s dick, this sends Kaguya into a laughing fury. Remember, Kaguya just started on her real path on sex education so she is like a child, laughing each time she hears the wiener word. Hence Chika notices this and keeps spamming that word just to make Kaguya delirious. Not that Chika realizes it has anything to do with the wiener word, but rather Kaguya is laughing madly. Then Shirogane comes in. Can Kaguya hold her laughter? Of course the ladies can’t say such vulgar word before a boy but Chika is going to make Shirogane say it! So what is the other word for a dog that looks like a sausage? Before he can answer, Kaguya answers with a substitute word. Each time foiling Chika’s plan so much so she gets mad and admits all she wants is for him to say that word. This shocks Shirogane as he thinks they are nymphos. He runs away and Kaguya is left to rue this misunderstanding. Chika continues spamming wiener. More uncontrollable laughing. Little do they know, Ishigami has been eavesdropping outside and gets the wrong idea of them talking about wieners. Futanari?!

Episode 8A
Shirogane’s sister, Kei visits the student council room. Since her brother is away at a budget meeting, Kaguya greets her. Kaguya then devises a plan to get close to her so she could win Shirogane’s heart. Kei is about to give some documents for Shirogane that needed checking but Ishigami efficiently points out all the errors. Kaguya then changes her tactic that she should be her friend and equal and after that long delusion, Chika comes in. What’s this? Chika and Kei doing some weird pose together?! You mean they’re such close friends? Chika’s younger sister, Moeha is in the same class with her and Kei often comes for sleepovers. Kaguya’s hope is to be her sister but with Kei calling Chika her big sister, now Kaguya’s is boiling with jealousy. When Chika suggests they go hang out together, happy Kaguya would gladly love to. Back home, Shirogane heard that Kei stopped by his student council room and asks her opinion of his members. Though she finds Chika and Ishigami to be okay, she felt nervous around Kaguya that she can’t carry a conversation around her.

Episode 8B
The test is coming up. Hence we see Shirogane and Kaguya putting up brave but fake fronts about their perceptions on last minute studying. All lies! Yeah, Shirogane has taken leave from his job so he could burn the midnight oil so as not to lose his top status. He’s been helming it for 3 consecutive terms. Kaguya may sound casual in taking the tests but deep down she is dead serious to beat Shirogane. Unlike those 2, Ishigami doesn’t care. Yeah, all he wants is to play video games and he is already no stranger to failing. Chika falls into their psychological trap to not study. During exam day, you bet our prideful student council duo are as nervous as hell and somehow doing a good job keeping it all in. When the results come out, Shirogane maintains his top spot while Kaguya takes second place like always. Humble in victory, gracious in defeat. That’s what the duo may seem but deep down, Shirogane wants to howl and do shadowboxing while Kaguya is so frustrated she wants to cry and stomp all over.

Episode 8C
A week before the test, Ishigami is already warned if he fails again, he will have to repeat a year. Kaguya doesn’t really care about him but knows this will drag the student council down. Hence she is going to make him study! Poor guy thinks she wants to torment his soul. He tried to run away but each time she catches him and hence giving up to study with her. At the library, several girls note how creepy it is for them to be together. Ishigami just gives up. He doesn’t care if he repeats a year. He was a problem child back in middle school and doesn’t want her name to get dragged just because of such rumours. Kaguya then confronts those girls about judging others. She has judged Ishigami to be worthy of a relationship with her so do you have any problems with her judgment? The girls quietly go away and although Ishigami thinks this will still give them the wrong idea, Kaguya’s priority is not to make him fail. She will not abandon him and nothing will sway her. She swears to her family name. Without him, Shirogane will be troubled. When the results are out, despite Ishigami didn’t fail, Kaguya is upset he barely passed. After all the studying this is what he gets?! I guess Ishigami thought he had a better view of her now, returns to his original stance that she is a scary woman after all. Shirogane hopes he won’t take it to heart as Kaguya doesn’t lie to herself. You can be assured that she keeps her word, come what may.

Episode 9A
A storm is going on and Chika is afraid of lightning for fear it will steal her belly button?! But Shirogane is concerned because the train service is out. Kaguya fantasizes him riding her car for a driving date. However it will seem like she is inviting him and that will not do. With Chika hinting about sharing her taxi, Kaguya shoos her away. Kaguya then gets psychological with him about skipping his job due to the storm. As he thinks about it in the toilet, Kaguya realizes the trains have resumed. No choice, she quickly swaps out a dead battery for his phone. All that is left is for her to wait outside for him to beg. Unfortunately crazy Shirogane rides his bicycle zooms past her and splashes water all over her. Next day, Kaguya has fever.

Episode 9B
Now somebody needs to hand over prints to her. Chika would love to go since Kaguya acts like a baby whenever she is sick. Shirogane starts fantasizing the things he could do to her but Chika wants to be fair and has them play a memory card game. Because of the rules she set, Shirogane sniffs out her cards are marked. The game continues anyway and when Shirogane learns from Ishigami that it could be his fault for splashing water on Kaguya that made her sick, Shirogane ups his game and sees through Chika’s other trick (placing cards in clock time positions to remember their value) to win the game. Ishigami spams Chika with shame as she goes home to ‘die’. For once it isn’t Ishigami. Please don’t kill yourself. But now Shirogane faces a new problem: What to get for Kaguya!

Episode 9C
Shirogane is astonished by Kaguya’s mansion. He is greeted by Hayasaka and because she doesn’t want him chickening out last minute, she forces him into Kaguya’s room. Looks like she really regressed into a mind of a baby. From her psychology explanation, it looks like Kaguya won’t remember this when she returns to normal. Then she leaves them alone together and hints nobody will come here for a few hours and the walls are soundproof. Please don’t do anything inappropriate… Shirogane sits by her side, feeling guilty and needing to find out her true feelings. He knows she wanted to give him a ride and if this cold is his fault. However she doesn’t know. She feels sad for always giving him trouble and never know what to do. She doesn’t know other ways and it’s the only way she could do it. Then she invites him to sleep with her and pulls him in! Shirogane’s mind is in panic but soon falls asleep because of sleep deprivation. Later that night when Kaguya wakes up, she is horrified Shirogane is sleeping next to her. She kicks him out and accuses him for taking advantage. Shirogane runs home in tears while Kaguya fears how far she has gone with him. Lucky for you, Hayasaka examines the bed. Nothing happened…

Episode 10A
Shirogane and Kaguya are in a cake standoff. Ishigami thinks it is his fault because he ate 1 and now with only 1 left, the duo are trying to be polite and let the other eat it. Yeah, they’ve been at this for hours. Time to go get some Chika help. Now the duo are drawing up the pettiest and most trivial of memories of why the other should eat it. It all comes down to feeding each other. There is still some distrust about feeding each other at the same time but when they’re about to do it, here comes Chika as she eats the cake. Punishment for not being friends! Maybe she just wants to eat the cake… Shirogane and Kaguya double losers…

Episode 10B
Ironically, it is Kaguya’s turn to seek Kashiwagi’s advice on love. The same for Shirogane but he talks to Ishigami who is the self-proclaimed love master thanks to all the manga and games he played. So we hear them talk hypothetically about that night they ‘slept’ together. Kashiwagi and Ishigami go on the offensive to blame the other party. Shirogane and Kaguya try to control and not make it seem like it is entirely the other’s fault and that they also share some partial blame. Eventually if they did nothing wrong, there is no reason they should be feel guilty about. At the end of the day when Kaguya and Shirogane pass by each other, the latter admits he did lay a finger on her although it was only on her lips. That is when Kaguya puts her finger on his lips. Now they’re even. She hopes that with this settled, they will go back to being normal tomorrow. Shirogane and Kaguya double winners.

Episode 10C
Summer vacation will be soon and it seems Shirogane and Kaguya are hinting to Chika for plans. Yeah, remember that mountains or the sea decision? It’s time to put that to an end. Of course they can’t make it look like they’re initiating the trip or it will look like an invitation, hence a total defeat. Too bad Chika announces she is going to Hawaii for a week! Shirogane tries to steer Chika and put her ‘under his control’ to do at least something together for the holidays (because without Chika in the trip, the plan will not get off to a good start) but Kaguya knows better this is impossible and hence she has regressed into a retard mode just to avoid arguing with her. Even when Shirogane argues they can have one after their trip abroad, Chika counters that she needs to study. Balance between work and play! Can’t argue with that. Ishigami then comes up with the unlikeliest comment that he wants to spend time with them since this is the only year that they can possibly do so. Hence Shirogane suggests the summer festival. Suddenly Chika wants to come! Oh yeah. Fireworks and food. That’ll be great. Screw studying! As they try to make that date free, suddenly Chika realizes that week she’ll be in Spain. She even has the cheek to blame them to go there without her. Ishigami fires back that it is she who is having fun but have the nerves to tell them not to go? Hypocrite. Chika continues to blame them and runs away. For once, Shirogane and Kaguya side with Ishigami. Looks like he doesn’t have to go home and kill himself from guilt this time. Summer festival here we come!

Episode 11A
Half of summer vacation has passed and Shirogane and Kaguya have not done anything of importance! Kaguya is shocked that Hayasaka knows what Shirogane is doing as he posted it on Twitter. Yeah, Kaguya isn’t IT savvy and needs to look up what it means. Meanwhile Hayasaka is just getting ready for her own bath relaxation when suddenly Kaguya barges in to grumble about the broken internet! Oh dear. It’s that human verification code… Hayasaka points out a few starters and then returns to her relaxation. She too is grumbling this unappreciative job when suddenly Kaguya barges in again. Twitter has banned her! No, girl. It’s a protected account. I’m sure it all sounds alien to her as Hayasaka explains about trolls. So if she sends a request, he might invite her to look at his tweets. Of course you know, that would mean making her look like she’s begging to know him. She can’t do that and will let Shirogane follow her instead. You know that’s not going to happen… Hayasaka returns to her bath again and as she is about to go into deep relaxation, here comes Kaguya again…

Episode 11B
Saburo Odajima is a middle aged man who prides himself for knowing the best ramen to eat. So when he enters and orders his optimum ramen in this small shop, he thought Chika is a spoilt rich kid who knows nothing. To his shock, she also orders some optimum combo but fails on its firmness. Saburo decides to show her how it’s done to appreciate ramen. WTF, getting technical here? However she blows him away as she eats and enjoys it at her own pace. Then he gets over analytical how this is all calculated by her for the most optimum taste ever. But he thinks she will fail as a ramen connoisseur since women hate garlic. Guess what? She eats them all and even drinks the soup! This has Saburo remember his youthful days that he too once enjoyed it like this. He supports her to go all the way. When she leaves, he gives her the thumbs up but Chika doesn’t know what the heck it means.

Episode 11C
Shirogane and Kaguya continue to languish doing nothing. Yeah, how can you expect something when all your plans revolve around the premise of the other inviting you? So we see both of them flustering staring at their handphones, hoping some new mail will pop up. Keep waiting… Although coincidentally both of them have this idea to head to school in hopes of bumping into the other, it is unfortunate that they missed each other. Hence the sad day continues. To a point where they dread that summer vacation wasn’t so long. Although the results say nobody won because they didn’t meet up, I believe they’re both losers at this rate…

Episode 11D
Kaguya narrates she never experienced a normal family and do what normal families do like watching fireworks. Thanks to others treating her special due to her wealth and status. She feels blessed to have such resources and some wonderful friends in life but still can’t do as she pleases. Kaguya is summoned by her dad to the main house. However as she waits, her dad passes by and just notes she is there before walking off. Sad. She further narrates how father never said goodnight or I love you to her but it’s okay since it has always been this way. And nothing at this point will make her feel one way or the other.

Episode 12A
Kaguya is looking forward so much to see the fireworks with her friends. However she is shot down by her servant who thinks father will not approve of it. Kaguya well knows her father doesn’t care but sucks it up and accepts her fate. She texts to her friends she is unable to come. All she can do is cry in bed. Hayasaka tweets on Kaguya’s behalf that she wants to see the fireworks. Shirogane sees this and understands. He rushes to her place. Hayasaka talks to Kaguya about giving up this time. She has come to realize that nothing in the past works. It isn’t any different now. But Hayasaka has made preparations. Kaguya manages to sneak out and get a taxi driver to send her to the fireworks. Hayasaka is now impersonating as Kaguya. Shirogane sees this and understands fully what it means. Back to the fireworks? A traffic jam has Kaguya deciding to walk there herself. Damn, she and Shirogane just missed each other. Kaguya makes haste as she prays to God that she doesn’t need romance or love. Just her friends. Too bad there is no God. When she arrives, it is over. She cries alone in the alley and wishes to see the fireworks. Better rethink if God exists because he came in the form of Shirogane. He knows how to find her since he knows how she thinks. He is going to show her the fireworks. He and the rest have made arrangements to go to the next city to watch the fireworks as it was delayed due to the rain. Yeah, the taxi driver is really going to put the metal to the pedal. Can they make it in 20 minutes? Well, if you pray hard! Just in time they reach the next city, the fireworks begin. What a lovely sight. Only… Kaguya failed to see them. Because she was so enthralled with Shirogane’s coolness that she was looking at him the entire time. Her heart was beating so loud that it drowned out the fireworks’ sound.

Episode 12B
With the school term resuming, we see Shirogane reeling from embarrassment. All those cool things he said to Kaguya then was actually out of his excitement of seeing her the first time during the holidays. Yeah, so embarrassed that he could die! When Kaguya enters the room, he fears she is ignoring him. However she is doing that because she too is embarrassed to see him in the face. They have this thinking if they cross paths, it would make a natural reason for them to talk. Nothing happens. Kaguya realizes that he might be embarrassed and tries to take advantage of this. However Chika interrupts thinking that their path crossing is some sort of formation and a game. They try again but this time Ishigami accidentally walks into it and gets chided. Yeah, he’ll be heading home to lick his wounds. With Chika teasing him, Kaguya tells her off for being an annoyance. I guess she too will be heading home in tears. With the duo alone, looks like a great opportunity. This time, Shirogane realizes that Kaguya could be embarrassed. Another path crossing has them bump into each other. Can they do it? Kaguya starts off by wanting to tell him something. However he thinks she is going to taunt him and baulks. He runs away while Kaguya gives chase. I guess Kaguya wins this time.

Pride Comes Before A Fall In Love
I know we really want to see Shirogane and Kaguya end up together. But alas if that ever happened, that will be the end of the story. End of the war. End of the romance. Now you know why some people love war and want to keep it going, eh? Hence this love war will continue to go on as long as our main duo have their pride bigger than the Milky Way. Perhaps if we look from another perspective, this is their own way of loving each other because it keeps each other on their toes.

Even with the repetitive cycle and the predictable nature and outcome of each attempt, it doesn’t feel boring or tedious at all. Perhaps it is because we see the duo try so hard and going to great unrealistic lengths before they ultimately fail. The different methods and over analytical thinking as well as over the top exaggeration effects that they conjure up in their mind are most interesting and varied. Goes to show how far and creative (AKA twisted) a human mind can go. So I guess it is fun because we expect to see some sort of punch line AKA failure in the end. My, such sadists we are. Sure, we want to see them end up together but not before we see them fail a million times. Like they say, success is 1% inspiration and 99% perseverance.

Even though at the end of most skits the narrator will announce who actually won that battle, personally I feel that overall they are still both losers! You know, you might have won the battle but not the war. Yet. So perhaps the mini victories that each of them seized in each mini battle would one day accumulated to become the ultimate victory that they seek. Hopefully by then, it would be a win-win situation. At this rate it seems to be heading for a lose-lose situation but like I said, the war is not yet over by a long shot. They care for each other but just too scared to show it.

While it is funny to see the main duo engaged in their own ‘pathetic’ war on love, sometimes we can’t help think if it is society and the environment to blame that made them act and think so. For example as highlighted in Kaguya’s case, thanks to her very strict upbringing, she lacks knowledge and what is basically common sense to common people. For example, sex education and even the internet. You think all youngsters these days are well versed in IT like as though they downloaded all the skills while they were in their mother’s womb. Therefore all this affects the way she thinks and how she acts. More revelation about her upbringing is revealed towards the end of the series and many of us would sympathize with her status. So instead of identifying her as some sort of high class prideful b*tch, her back story does help make us understand why she does everything in certain ways.

Therefore I believe that despite Kaguya has almost everything that other people would die for (wealth, status, etc), she does not have that one thing that she really needs: Freedom. My guess is that love is the only way would set her free but thanks to the twisted notion of wanting Shirogane to fall for her, it’s not going to be that easy. In fact, downright close to impossible. Hey, at least the chances are not completely zero! I mean, it is not like she wants to please her father or anything. More than so, she doesn’t even really care all that much about him. Perhaps my theory is that if she wants to rebel against him, she would throw away that dumb pride of hers of waiting for Shirogane to be the first one to ask her and instead she goes to ask him. That would be a real shocker. Things would have been so much easier that way but I guess we won’t have much of a story to tell then.

Shirogane as the other half of the problem also has his own pride but I think his is more of biological rather than those artificial wealth and status. Because males have this dumb prideful thinking of the need to be manly and anything less would be seen as a coward and hence very unmanly. It is pretty normal for guys his age to have a crush (and vice versa for girls). But in regards to Kaguya’s status in the student council as well as her family background, it can’t be more than just a simple confession. That’s why he has to put on that stubborn male pride and have Kaguya make the first move. Other than that, Shirogane is just a normal and could be a very useful member of society in the future thanks to his workaholic ways. Japan loves their people being workaholic, right?

Therefore the ‘reward’ for us in seeing their ‘pathetic’ failure is that they make those flustering faces and emotions that they otherwise never show to each other. The Japanese have a saying that all of us have 3 different types of faces. One that we show to the public, one that we show to our family, and one we only show ourselves. So seeing this sort of expression on them is like their third and supposedly truest form. Like each time Kaguya from a very prideful and arrogant position suddenly drops to an agitated emotional girl who is frustrated things didn’t go her way. It makes you go, “Aww… So cute…”. Or in her words, “Okawaii koto…”. We all smirk at this reaction and at the back of our heads we blame them that they deserve this.

The other amusing character who is a joker and wild card is Chika. Unaware of the love war between Shirogane and Kaguya, she is like the unpredictable variable that threatens to unravel and reset all their efforts so far without even realizing so. The war could have been won long ago by either one of them but thanks to Chika’s unholy intervention, everything returns back to square one. Like as though she is God’s agent sent down to prolong the war. But Chika isn’t actually a dumb girl. She is actually smart and resourceful herself. The only thing is because she is always at her own pace and that is why she might have this ditzy girl outlook. I believe that Chika has something that Shirogane and Kaguya would envy to die having. And that is the freedom to freely express herself. You can bet that life around her will be short of anything dull but also it can get as annoying as hell. Maybe the world needs more Chikas.

Hayasaka as Kaguya’s maid has this very tired look and sound. I can understand why since she has to put up with all of Kaguya’s whims and fancies. And not just your typical whims and fancies. The kind of look and sound that screams, “I wish I wasn’t here doing all this crap”. You can see for yourself the things Kaguya does and the way she thinks that often warrants a facepalm. It is good that Hayasaka is very loyal and caring about her oujou-sama but more than often she has to put up with her shenanigans and that could really get to her. For her to be working under her this long (not like she had a choice anyway), this shows Hayasaka can tolerate any sort of antics to say the least.

The other characters are amusing in their own ways but not as significant as those aforementioned. Like Ishigami who is mainly a pessimist thanks to his misinterpretation that Kaguya is out for his blood. Hence he always feels sick and the need to go prepare a will. I am guessing he never got round to it since that is what he always says when it reaches this stage. I mean, does he need to amend his will all the time? Assuming he did one. And see? He has lived for this long so all is not that bad. I think. Then there is Kei whom I thought would be a bit more prominent after her introduction but I guess I was wrong. Good thing the siblings don’t have that lovey-dovey obsessed complex relationship that is so nauseating. Last and not least, Kashiwagi and her boyfriend. Despite being simpletons, you could pretty much say that their love is successful. The irony that they sought the (crazy) advice of their seniors and then hit it pretty much soon after. Uh huh. Lesson learnt here is to go with your guts! Worry about everything else later! These 2 should in fact be a role model and lesson for our stubborn mules.

Art and animation, well I got to say that overall it looks a bit dark and gloomy. Is this to highlight the depressing war that our main characters go through? Because even the colours just have this gloomy and depressing feel. Furthermore, Shirogane and Kaguya have this ‘evil’ look on their face. Maybe that is why others respect and admire them. Even Ishigami is always the eternal doom and gloom dude like as though his end is near. Not even Chika’s bright and lively personality can blow away all that. This anime is done by A-1 Pictures who brought to us Sword Art Online, Nanatsu No Taizai, Ao No Exorcist and Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso.

Voice acting feels okay, I only recognized Takehito Koyasu making his cameo as Shirogane’s father. The other casts are Makoto Furukawa as Shirogane (Shorter in Banana Fish), Aoi Koga as Kaguya (Hanabi in Mahou Shoujo Naria Girls), Konomi Kohara as Chika (Kasumi in Asobi Asobase), Ryouta Suzuki as Ishigami (Yuuga in Dorei-ku The Animation), Yumiri Hanamori as Hayasaka (Seth in Radiant), Sayumi Suzushiro as Kei (Oono in High Score Girl), Momo Asakura as Kashiwagi (Rona in Endro) and Yutaka Aoyama as the narrator (Yamada in To Be Hero).

One of the most amazing things of this series is the opening theme, Love Dramatic featuring Rikka Ihara by Masayuki Suzuki. His voice sounds like the Japanese version of the sexy Rod Steward as he belts out this piece that could have also served as an epic theme for a James Bond spy thriller movie. It has very catchy lines that you want to sing along and it fits the theme of the series quite well. While the main ending theme is Sentimental Crisis by Halca, typical anime pop that is nothing to shout about, the more epic one is the special ending song, Chikatto Chika Chikaa by of course the one and only Chika. What makes this song so epic is the very cute and epic way Chika dances throughout. Yeah, I can see there are many videos posted imitating her dance. I’d try it out too have I not have this dumb self-consciousness that I look pretty silly and lame… But I don’t think it will be the next Gangnam Style craze since there is quite a few complicated choreography involved.

In the end, love is all about give and take. The sooner our main characters realize that his is how love is supposed to work, this battle is going to take a while to resolve. If not, never. While there are so many types of love, I think Shirogane and Kaguya may have the wrong impression on what love is. Dominating over the submissive one, is that called love? But a lot of married household follow this type of ‘love’… And it goes to show that despite all the knowledge, wealth and status one might have, love isn’t anywhere in sight. You Don’t Know Love. Can’t Buy Me Love. It isn’t that Shirogane and Kaguya are at war with each other. They are rather at war with their own inner demons. Hence this series can be said to be fun and enjoyable not because we are seeing 2 people fail hard at trying to just fall in love, but the things they do for love. To quote Meat Loaf, “I would do anything for love… But I won’t do that!”. Yup. Pretty much summarizes up what this series is about. Okawaii koto…

It sounded so much like a porn title or at least one that is fit for an eroge. Seishun Buta Yarou Wa Bunny Girl Senpai Wo Yume Wo Minai is also a mouthful to pronounce but despite its suspicious title, it has nothing to do with porn or sexual fantasies. Sort of. Despite the very alluring promotional poster of a girl in a Playboy bunny suit (probably that’s what got me to watch this). Instead it deals with Puberty Syndrome. Isn’t that the phase where teenagers go through by being rebellious against their parents, get a tattoo, listen to punk metal music and getting all emo? Sorry. Anime wouldn’t be anime if it based on all that. Maybe. But here, we have dealings with being invisible, Groundhog day, doppelganger, body swapping and personality disorder stemming from amnesia. Yikes. Am I watching the Twilight Zone?

Episode 1
Sakuta Azusagawa is at the library when he sees Mai Sakurajima dressed up as a bunny girl. Is she a ghost because others don’t seem to notice her. Then she notices him watching and tells him to forget what he saw. Can he? Sakuta has his own fair share of ‘problems’ back home because his sister, Kaede is quite clingy to him due to a trauma. But she still can make a witty quip. Sakuta: Damn you’re heavy. Kaede: Because half of it is filled with my love for you! OMG! Buranko! On his way to school, Sakuta asks his friend, Yuuma Kunimi about Mai. She was a famous child celebrity but is currently on hiatus. Ironically, she’s so famous and Sakuta haven’t heard of her? Does he not watch TV? But Sakuta finds it odd that he notices she has no friends at school if that’s the case. Apparently this school has a very strong unwritten law of ostracising people. Once you’re an outcast, you are forever considered one. That is why, Yuuma’s jealous girlfriend, Saki Kamisato telling Sakuta to stay away from him. Not that she is worried if they developed some gay relationship whatsoever. You see, Sakuta has a past reputation of fighting others and landing them in hospital. Saki has to leave in fear that she may be associated with him and become an outcast. At the train station, Sakuta somewhat ‘saves’ Mai from an unauthorized photo that a so called fan wants to take. As they talk, Mai seems to know about his reputation too although he scoffs it off as wild rumours. He never denies them because he thinks it is all part of the flow so it’s pointless to fight it. Now it’s her turn to explain her bunny girl act. She started acting as young as 6 and soon became famous. With everybody looking at her at a celebrity, at some point she wished there was a world where nobody knew her. When she started noticing people ignoring her, she thought it was just a prank. But soon more and more people are starting to ignore her. Hence she is going around places to see if the same thing is happening. I mean, the bunny girl suit is sure to turn heads, right?

Sakuta starts explaining this Puberty Syndrome thingy that has become some sort of an urban legend. To help make her believe what he said, he brings her back to his place and undresses! Rape scene?! Just kidding. It is to show him the hideous scars across his body. He isn’t sure how he got them. Long ago, Kaede got bruises all over her body but it was caused by cyberbullying. Not even physical bullying. It started when she posted on some site and got on the bad side of a popular girl. Everybody started targeting her. Then one day when she came home, Sakuta saw with his own eyes the bruises just popped up on her. That’s why he believes this Puberty Syndrome is real. The truth behind his own rumours is that he was the one hospitalized because one day he woke up bleeding. Sakuta thinks Mai should go back to showbiz and if she is all over TV, people won’t ignore her. But this hit a nerve and she stopped interacting with him since. Sakuta then sees a journalist, Fumika Nanjou who has some info not known to the public on why Mai is on hiatus. Sakuta then sees his senior, Rio Futaba to ask the possibility of suddenly becoming invisible. If it’s not Puberty Syndrome, it could be the case of Schrodinger’s Cat. After a while, Sakuta realizes why Mai didn’t come to school. Could it be nobody could see her now? He rushes home to find her sitting outside his doorstep. Looks like she can’t even buy food now.

Episode 2
Sakuta and Mai shop at the mart. If she is invisible, would others see floating things when she picks up stuffs? Apparently anything she touches becomes invisible too. Sakuta has done some research on Mai and believes there was a rift between her manager who was also her mom. She explains that despite it was written in the contract, Mai didn’t want to do a swimsuit shoot. This made her realize her mom never cared anything for her except making money off her. Even so, Sakuta believes that is all the more reason she should go back to work to clear things up. When she learns he made a deal with Nanjou, Mai warns him about taking the media lightly. He and his family will be hounded. Mai calls Nanjou and wants her to stop publishing pictures of his scar (that was part of the deal). So Mai instead is willing to give her a big scoop that she will return to showbiz soon. As she will be going back to work and have no more time to have fun, their logic is that they will go on a date? On that date morning, Sakuta is on his way when he sees a little girl crying. She lost her mom. He is about to help but Tomoe Koga kicks him thinking this lolicon is going to kidnap her! Realizing her mistake, she wants him to kick her ass back? Too bad the policeman catches them thinking they’re doing something kinky in public. They are released after having their statements taken but Sakuta is already late for his date. Luckily for him, Mai is still waiting but not thrilled.

The date is on but Mai wonders why he is going this far for her. When Kaede had Puberty Syndrome, nobody believed her. Now that Mai is supposedly experiencing one, he wants to be there for her. Mai can tell it is because of a girl. He admits there is a girl he likes. He met Shouko Makinohara and fell in love with her. It is the reason he transferred to this school as he saw her uniform. However there were no such records of her. He still likes her because she got her back on his feet when he was down. Mai shocks Sakuta as she calls her mom here to sign a contract, signalling she would go back to showbiz. However mom cannot see her! She thinks it is Sakuta who called him and is less than amuse of this prank. Heck, mom doesn’t even remember she has a daughter! This is too much for Mai to take so she doesn’t want him to pursue this further. Later when he calls Nanjou, she can’t even remember who Mai is! Sakuta thinks if they go to somewhere faraway, some might still remember her. So technically the date still continues. As they take a train to another town, Sakuta asks random strangers if they remember Mai. Nope. Never heard of her. In the small room they rent, Sakuta calls Yuuma and surprisingly he still remembers Mai. So he calls Futaba in hopes she can help solve this Puberty Syndrome. The room is so small that it isn’t surprising they share the same bed. So they exchange naughty teases if they want to kiss or have sex. It’s not happening. I know. He vows never to forget her and she thanks him for not giving up on her.

Episode 3
Even animals like this cute doggie ignores Mai. So sad. By the time they return to school, Futaba tells him the bad news that everyone including Yuuma has forgotten about Mai. Futaba believes only they haven’t forgotten because they didn’t really sleep (Sakuta couldn’t sleep a wink. He was after all lying next to a girl). Futaba continues her explanation how she is not being observed and hence the entire school is her Schrodinger’s box. There’s more but I don’t really understand. With Sakuta fearing of forgetting Mai if he sleeps, hence he is forcing himself to stay awake. Those energy drinks better do their job. Because Futaba has slept, she has become part of the statistic. Worse, he is in the midst of having midterm exams. I guess everyone is thinking he is burning the midnight oil. Man, he is looking like a zombie. Mai even thinks so and helps him tutor. Eventually he is too tired and falls asleep. When morning comes, he sees a notebook that he has written for himself. A strange bunny girl? It is safe to say that Sakuta has forgotten all about Mai and thinks this diary who wrote is all a bunch of crap. Mai’s name is mysteriously blanked out. Even Futaba gives some not to him. They’re not even sure what this observation thingy is. As Sakuta takes his final midterm exam, suddenly he starts to remember Mai. Some of the buzzwords used during tutoring start bringing those memories back. Ashamed, he runs out from the exam hall and into the field. Then he screams at the top of his voice that he loves Mai! Repeatedly! Boy, this is so embarrassing. Yeah, the entire school must be thinking how desperate this loser is. And then here is Mai. Telling him off how much of a nuisance he is. They talk (cheesy dialogue included to ‘assure’ their love) before Mai screaming at the top of her voice to dispel the fake rumours on Sakuta. Now that Mai is back to the centre of attention, it’s safe to say that now people remember her. In the end, Futaba doesn’t think that scientific methods aren’t really effective when the Puberty Syndrome is caused by teenage instability and warped worldview. As he has proven, a mere confession was enough to turn it on its head.

Episode 4
Sakuta asking Mai to go out with him. Hardly exciting since he has been saying it every day. So she’s like rejecting him every day? She says her upcoming play has a kiss scene. He doesn’t want her to do it. Is he her father now? It seems this isn’t her first kiss as she hints it was with him. Really? Can’t remember. Hints? Not telling. She trolls him if he wants to redo it. Of course. Close your eyes. He just kissed her tamagoyaki. With Sakuta also trolling he is getting less interested because she is showing no interest, she agrees to go out with him. Next day, Sakuta feels weird. Is the day repeating? Everything looks and sounds the same. So with the same conversation with Mai, he manages to do his best trolling. Since she isn’t interested, he’ll find another love. Instantly she agrees to go out with him. Later Sakuta spots Tomoe hesitating to go out with a guy named Yousuke Maezawa. Next day… Same thing! Groundhog day? He sees Futaba for a solution but apparently according to the internet, many others are also feeling they are repeating the day. She explains about Laplace demon. As everything is bound equally under universal laws, by observing every atom and using some formula, you can predict its precise location of anything. However that would require an immense time for observation and it would be useless if you cannot do it within a second. Hence Laplace demon is one who has that knowledge. So for Sakuta to break out from this loop, he must find that Laplace demon who is acting differently than the rest. So could it be Tomoe because she is now hiding underneath the table. However she too is experiencing the loop. But they have to hide since Maezawa is coming in to look for her. It seems her friend, Rena Kashiba likes him but Maezawa likes Tomoe instead. She doesn’t want to be an outcast because of this love triangle. A little struggle from the cramp space occurs as Tomoe falls on top of Sakuta. Maezawa returns and sees this. Not good. And then Mai comes in and sees this. Really bad. Don’t talk to her again. It’s over.

You think Sakuta would not worry as tomorrow will reset itself. Behold! It is 2 days later! So he goes to talk to Futaba and she ends up ranting about being jealous watching Yuuma and his girlfriend since she has a crush on him. What?! But the issue he needs to settle right now is to clear things up with Mai. It was just last month he publicly confessed his love to her. At the café where Sakuta and Yuuma work part time, it seems Tomoe will also be joining them. As Sakuta takes orders from Rena and co, they seriously asking if he is going out with her. They’re worried because this happened so soon right after Mai broke up with him. They warn him if he is fooling around. Later Tomoe wants a favour but Sakuta knows what’s going to happen. He knows she wants him to pretend to be his girlfriend at least until the first term ends. Ironically his reputation didn’t deteriorate after that public confession and is now ‘popular’ among the juniors for his guts! Since Tomoe is afraid of losing her only group of friends, they have to make this pretend date real. So go on a real date? Well, it’s not like Sakuta is bound to anything and is in fact looking forward to have fun. Late that night, Mai rings on his doorstep. Why didn’t he come to explain himself? Damn, you just never know what a woman thinks!

Episode 5
Mai hears his explanations but won’t get mad because he’ll get turned on if she does so. So she really thinks he is a perverted masochist? She still feels something odd for him to do all this. He says Tomoe’s case reminds him very much like Kaede. Since Mai will be away for a while for a commercial shoot, this is not her dress she is giving him to sniff in her absence. Rather it is for Kaede to wear. Kaede lights up and looks like they’re friends now. Sakuta asks Yuuma about Maezawa and it seems he has a girlfriend in another high school and likes to badmouth his exes. Sakuta meet up with Tomoe for their date at the aquarium. She tells him of her past as a plain Jane so he tells her it doesn’t matter what she used to be because all that matters is what she is now. Tomoe wonders why he is doing this for someone he rarely knows. I don’t think kicking each other’s butt is the answer she’s looking for. Even if he is an outcast, why still do so? He likes to be the pillar of support even if the entire world is against him. For Tomoe, she wants to be liked by everyone, at least not hated. Later Sakuta visits Futaba to ask her conclusion about this Laplace thingy. It is believed the looping was caused by her ‘rolling the dice’ until she is satisfied with the outcome. Of course she isn’t aware of this because if she was, she would have been the demon herself. Once again, Saki confronts Sakuta of talking to Yuuma. She’s also complaining about Yuuma hanging out with Futaba. Why don’t you ask them yourself? Time to cut the conversation when Sakuta sarcastically claims she is butt hurt because of constipation! Yuuma then tells Sakuta the bad news that there are rumours that he and Tomoe are f*cking like rabbits. While at the train station, they can hear people snigger this. With Maezawa mocking them, Sakuta sneers back and the jerk punches him. Sakuta fights back but plays dirty that makes him look like a fool. Not so funny now, eh? If you don’t like to be embarrassed, stop doing stupid things. And he makes the boldest declaration that would clear those funny rumours: HE IS A VIRGIN!!! He takes Tomoe and run. For a while there, she really felt like his girlfriend. She also somewhat admits she is a virgin and never had a boyfriend before. Because all her friends said they had one, she too wanted to be in and went with the flow. With Rena giving up on Maezawa, this case is closed. Tomoe wants to repay him. Simple. Just be his friend. It’s not like she could find anybody else, right?

Episode 6
Sakuta wants Mai to tutor him in a bunny suit. She does so! His grade better improve now. Sakuta then goes to date Tomoe before the start of the summer vacation. Yeah, they’re making plans on how to end their relationship. No biggies. Let’s just say he still loves Mai and they had to break up. Day is over, go home and sleep. Next morning when Sakuta wakes up, guess what? He thought it was a joke but it’s not because yesterday is repeating itself again! Groundhog day once more?! It seems Tomoe is unaware of the day repeating itself. Seeing Futaba for an answer, if Sakuta isn’t Laplace then it could only mean 1 thing: Tomoe is lying. So after a couple of more loops and dates with Tomoe, Sakuta decides to do something different. This time their date is at a shrine and after writing their wishes to make their love come true, Sakuta assures he is the only one lying. Then Sakuta wants Tomoe to drop the act. From what I understand, Tomoe might be repeating the day in hopes that he could change his feelings for her. He assures that will never happen if it is a billion times. Tomoe tries to come to terms with her feelings and end this once and for all, hoping they can still remain friends. Then she blames him for being so nice to him and hence these feelings. After all that I hate you, eventually she screams the loudest I love you. Now she can cry her heart out. Now, this doesn’t really make time flow back to normal. Heck, Sakuta realizes time has reset back to when he experienced the first Groundhog day! So everything was just a simulation of the future? Sakuta trolls Mai to be his girlfriend. He trolls and distracts him to give him a peck on his cheek! Don’t push it for one on the lips. Sakuta then sees Mai rejecting Maezawa because she hints she likes Sakuta. He assures he is still her friend but she says it is she giving him the privilege to be her friend. For the rest of the days, everything played out exactly like it happened before. And there’s some scientific explanation from Futaba about quantum entanglement on how Sakuta was the only one in the world to get dragged into this sh*t. Not really understanding this sci-fi crap theory! When Sakuta and Mai are walking home on a rainy day, they see a little girl trying to shelter an abandoned kitten with her umbrella. Sakuta offers to take it in when the girl gives her name: Shouko Makinohara.

Episode 7
Kaede must be conflicted that Sakuta might want an even younger sister than her! Yeah, Shouko is much more polite too. She does come by to visit the kitten. Sakuta sees Futaba (new hairstyle?) about Shouko’s case and she believes it must be that myth of everyone has a doppelganger. While Sakuta is hanging out with Mai, suddenly they see Futaba walking into an internet café. Does she frequent a place like this? They try to find her and since they can’t, Sakuta calls her. She picks up and this is where ‘trouble’ starts. Because Futaba just walked before them and she is not on the phone! Sakuta manages to grab her as she explains how true the doppelganger thingy is. Yup, that Futaba he met earlier was her doppelganger. And it seems the clone is taking over her life and now Futaba can’t go home and hence hanging out here. Sakuta is so kind to let her stay at his place. Will Mai approve? Nope. That’s why she is staying too. Huzzah! Kaede worried his harem is growing… But she will accept his flaws and love him! So if Mai and Futaba will sleep in his room, sorry Kaede, onii-chan isn’t going to sleep with you but in the living room all by himself. So now we get to Futaba’s sci-fi explanation of this quantum teleportation thingy. Don’t get it. Naturally. It seems she thinks she is observing herself and what happens when both are conscious in observing the other? Doppelganger situation. In case of that 2 people cannot exist at the same time theory, after all, Futaba didn’t actually see herself. That night, it isn’t Kaede sneaking in but Mai. Some moments that hint she wants him to kiss her but he blunders and the mood is off. Damn. So fragile? He tries to play psychology that he might fear women if he gets rejected. Don’t worry. She will let him practice as many times until he gets it right. But I guess it’s not tonight. Next day Shouko visits and Futaba sees for herself this little girl. Sakuta goes to school to see the doppelganger Futaba watching Yuuma playing a basketball game. Sakuta learns Futaba fell in love with him when he offered his bun when it was like a warzone for her to get one at the stall. Is that how cheap her love is? Stop with the corny cornet jokes, Sakuta. This Futaba wonders if he thinks she is a fake. He thought so but realizes both of them are the real deal. Later it’s that b*tch Saki confronting Sakuta again. But this time she shows him uploaded pictures of Futaba taking sexy selfies of herself. Is she into some shady business?

Episode 8
Talking to Futaba about this, she says she created an account last summer just to get some attention but realized there was nothing to post about. She started hating herself when her body matured too fast and got the attention of guys. Meanwhile Mai’s agency wants to ban her from dating but she puts that decision on hold so she could consult Sakuta. He agrees with it since she just got back into showbiz so it is better to be the good girl for now. I don’t think that’s the answer she’s looking for but whatever. Now Sakuta talks to the other Futaba and she also says something similar about hating herself. The problem could have been solved if they just go back to being one but they have diverged too far and this isn’t exactly Sakuta’s problem per se. You should solve your own problem. When Futaba receives a very creepy stalker message, she gets scared. She wants Sakuta to stay at her place for a while. She talks about her fear of being alone and was worried when Sakuta got a girlfriend, she would be alone again. The same case when Yuuma got a girlfriend. Sakuta gets this idea of calling Yuuma to meet up with him now by feigning Futaba is in trouble. He really rushes to meet up and this brings Futaba to tears as she is relieved to hear she isn’t alone. Then they play sparklers till morning and Futaba tells Sakuta to save her other self as she is in a much worse position than her. He returns home to sleep but the next morning, he learns from Kaede that Futaba went out shopping but never came back. Since she didn’t take her handphone, I guess Sakuta has to cycle all the way in the typhoon to Futaba’s house to ask about her whereabouts. Yeah, try the school. There she is. It seems she is jealous in seeing that group photo of them playing sparklers. She thinks the world isn’t big enough for the both of them and will disappear since her counterpart is doing a much better job of living. Sakuta doesn’t give a damn and tells her to just come for the fireworks. Just then, Sakuta collapses. He wakes up in hospital and no serious condition. Sakuta then talks to Futaba outside that it is okay to hate herself. It isn’t that his own life is tolerable either. Futaba is interested to go see the fireworks now but Sakuta points out it is not him he should be telling. She sums up her courage to make the call and the moment she says her intentions, she disappears. It seems she called her other self on line and now they are one again. The trio meet up at the fireworks. Futaba whispers something in Yuuma’s ear and the cliché convenient of fireworks make it inaudible to us. But she doesn’t want him to give an answer as she knows what it’ll be.

Episode 9
It’s the start of the new school term but Sakuta has not seen Mai anywhere. When he finally finds her on the streets, she doesn’t recognize him and finds him creepy. That is actually Nodoka Toyohama (from the idol group, Sweet Bullet) and she swapped bodies with Mai. Sakuta can tell this is Mai the way she steps on his feet! You see, Nodoka is Mai’s younger half-sister. Same father but different mothers. Last night she popped up at Mai’s place and didn’t want to go home. Next morning, they realized their bodies were swapped. Until they get back to normal, they must live each other’s life. This means attending each other’s school. I guess they have nothing to worry about since they have no friends so everything will be okay if they don’t talk to others. Sakuta talks to Nodoka about her beef with Mai. Although she looks up to her, she still hates her in some ways. I guess the best way to get it off her chest is to talk to Mai directly. She admits of living in her shadow since young. She is jealous that Mai can do things effortlessly when it takes years for her to achieve the same. Because of that, mom always yells at her she should be able to do the same. So she hates her more? The feeling is mutual for Mai but without the thoughtlessness of their dad, they would never have met. Of course Mai can’t allow Nodoka to stay at Sakuta’s place. This means poor Kaede thinking her brother is really a gigolo bringing another new girl home. As Sakuta watches Nodoka in an acting shoot, suddenly she starts hyperventilating and collapsed. Talking this out with Mai, it could be she realized the insane expectations and burden Mai had to carry and panicked. Sakuta asks Yuuma if he knows what it’s like to have a perfect older sister. So he calls Saki who reluctantly explain about hers. She was the school’s previous student council president (not that Sakuta could remember) and got into a top university. Saki doesn’t like or hate her but finds it annoying that mom always compared her to her sister. Mai gives Sakuta a spare key to Nodoka’s place. He goes there to talk to Nodoka and inform Mai doesn’t care wasn’t worried at all. He thinks she should naturally smile like she did instead of trying to put on a fake smile that imitates Mai. When Nodoka is in the bath, Sakuta is tempted to peek into the tatami closet that Mai earlier warned him not to.

Episode 10
With all the new women Sakuta brings home, Kaede thinks she must do her part of moving forward. So I guess it’s a big step for her to get out of her pyjamas and don her school uniform. Nodoka’s reshoot went well. After 12 takes. With Mai leaving Sakuta a message that father wants to have dinner with him, this prompts Nodoka to ask about his family. After Kaede was diagnosed with Puberty Syndrome, mom couldn’t take it and was hospitalized. Dad went with her and basically dumped Kaede to him. They’re living separately now and because they’re his parents, it’s not like he hates or loves them. When Sakuta meets his dad and ask for parenting advice, dad thinks he knocked up a girl! NOT YET! Dad relates they were at a lost when Sakuta was born as every day was filled with worries and uncertainties. Sakuta and Nodoka are invited to Sweet Bullet’s concert. Nodoka watches in awe as Mai performs flawlessly and even covers a member who slips up. Sweet Bullet announces Nodoka will be the lead vocals of their next single. Nodoka’s heart breaks seeing her mom congratulating Mai and so happy about it. It was a smile she had never seen before. She thinks mom always wanted Mai instead of her. So sad that Nodoka tries to drown herself in the sea! Sakuta had to convince her that Mai doesn’t hate her and can show proof. Inside the tatami closet is a box filled with letters sent by Nodoka to Mai. This is proof she still loves you. Still not convinced? Here’s Mai to explain the rest. Mai was also so busy that she didn’t even have time for herself. When Nodoka was introduced as her sister the first time, she saw the joy of her looking up to her. That motivation kept her going. It all boils down mom’s love is probably due to the hard work she put in. Still complaining? Mai slaps… Sakuta! Can’t damage her face for tomorrow’s photo shoot. When her mom congratulated her after the concert, she could felt she was shaking and was worried the whole time. Nodoka always wanted mom to praise her and make her happy since Mai was only always what she talked about. So be yourself and do what you want instead of what she tells you. Cue for full crying to be allowed now. With Nodoka accepting she doesn’t have to be like Mai, suddenly the duo revert. It’s not body or mind swapping. It felt like the weirdest CGI of shape shifting! WTF! So I guess Futaba’s explanation for the body shape shifting was the sisters envying each other’s position. Sakuta thought his lovey-dovey days with Mai are back. Too bad Nodoka is moving in! Yeah, argument with mom as usual. But more problems at hand. A photo of Mai and Sakuta is circulating. Scandal on the cards…

Episode 11
A press conference is held for Mai to explain. Japanese adults sure love the drama and romance of the young ones, eh? Thanks to Mai being open and cool in handling them, soon this case dies down. Sakuta receives a letter from Shouko to meet at the beach. I’m sure he wants to go but how can he get Mai to trust him he is not cheating on her? How does he show his loyalty? By screaming out I love you in public! Please don’t. Any other ways? How about a deep kiss? Please don’t. Okay, she’ll let him. As they leave, Kotomi Kano who was Kaede’s old friend and classmate needs to talk to Sakuta. Nice guy needs to see this so he has Mai wait for Shouko on his behalf since she recognizes her. Kotomi talks about hoe bullying was a hot issue in their old school. After Kaede transferred out, the bullies received death threats. They too stopped coming to school and this bullying issue died down. Kotomi feels guilty because as Kaede’s friend, she did nothing. She tried to forget about this whole incident and would have until that scandal dating picture of Mai and Sakuta popped up. Sakuta rejoins Mai but since it’s getting late and Shouko not showing up, Sakuta leaves a message in the sand (that he already got a girlfriend!). Hope the waves don’t wash it away. Back home, Kaede has made a list of things to do. It’s admirable considering her case even if most of them are things to do with onii-chan. When Shouko calls, she explains she was sick and also the reason she didn’t visit recently. When asked about the letter, she wasn’t aware of sending any. Kaede braves herself to try and answer the phone from Mai. It literally took all her strength to do so. Congrats! Apparently she wants to be independent because at this rate Sakuta cannot marry! Because girls who marry him must take Kaede as part of the package! Can’t argue with that. But I’m sure Mai would gladly welcome her. Sakuta dreams of Shouko telling him life is a series of trials trying to make you a kinder person. She hopes to become that with each passing day. Kaede makes an even more elaborate plan to walk outside with Sakura. Frequent breaks are the key. Once ready, she clings on tightly to him. Let’s do this. But halfway she wants to give up and before she knows it, she’s already outside. Tears of happiness. One small step for Kaede, one big step for Kaede’s future. Slowly, Kaede is able to ‘exist’ outside in longer intervals. One day frolicking at the beach, that is where Kotomi sees her. Kaede gets scared and doesn’t know who she is. That is when Sakuta reveals a secret to Mai about Kaede: She has no memories of her old self.

Episode 12
2 years ago, Kaede woke up with no memories of everything before. The doctor diagnosed that due to the mental stress, she lost her memories to escape her painful situation. Sakuta knew he was dealing with a different person because everything she did was obviously different to how the old Kaede did things. When he noticed strange bruises randomly on her, at the same time mom was starting to show signs of breaking down. Also, he got that scar on his chest. He was hospitalized but doctor couldn’t find a definitive answer and thought it was self-harm. Depressed, he snuck out of hospital and met Shouko. Her positive words moved him and gave him hope to live. So when their parents moved out, dad hopes Kaede will recover and to take her time because they will always be waiting for her. The problem is, if the old Kaede reappears, what will happen to the current one? When Sakuta hands Kaede a book from Kotomi, there is a note inside saying she wants to be friends with her again. It seemed like some part of her memories may have returned before she collapsed. Kaede is hospitalized but no biggie. Sakuta calls Mai to update her on this and he also believes that the old Kaede may be reawakening and if that’s the case, the new one might disappear. Since Kaede overheard that, she tries to expedite her wish list, especially going to school. It’s hard for her to even walk in public as she is flip flopping between wanting to give up and carrying on. Even if she is so afraid, she still wants to make it to school. Sakuta promises to make that happen but first a little break. He takes her to the zoo. This lightens up her mood. He also gives her a yearly pass for her to come here as many she times she wants. Then they sneak into school at night so she could have a ‘preview’ of what to expect. This gives Kaede motivation that she really wants to go to school tomorrow. Next morning, Sakuta is in shock because he can tell that the way Kaede acts and talks, the old version is back.

Episode 13
Sakuta calls his dad to inform him about Kaede. Currently she is in hospital to be monitored. Though no physical damage but doesn’t remember the other Kaede, the doctor deduces that the gap in memories may destabilize her so it’s best to monitor her for now. Unfortunately it is Sakuta who cannot bear this. He becomes destabilized as he screams and cries his way home. Thank goodness Shouko shows up. The grown up one. She takes him home and takes care of him. Sakuta is so depressed that he isn’t really happy to see this girl again. Hence Shouko reads Kaede’s diary from the day of her ‘inception’. From her observations of her new family to her brother bringing home new girls and the recent list of goals. She knows Sakuta has been regretting the whole time and if she doesn’t do something, he might end up thinking he couldn’t do a thing. She doesn’t want him to have regrets when she disappears. She wants him to be happy and leave lots of memories before she goes. Sakuta still isn’t convinced because Kaede tried so hard and it’s like betraying her hopes. Shouko believes Sakuta is feeling sad proves how important Kaede is to him and how much a big place she holds him in her heart. Sakuta, you can continue crying louder now. Next morning, Sakuta is still like a zombie. Shouko left a note that she has gone. Then a voice recorder from Mai has him calling her to tell what really happened to Kaede. With life slowly seeping back to him, Sakuta realizes that Shouko, both the teen and loli never appeared again. Asking Futaba’s advice on this, she can only deduce that Shouko is his imaginary friend.

Mai takes a short break from filming to visit Sakuta. Though he is happy, she sees that note from Shouko. Oh dear. Mood just sour. No matter how long he explains himself and that nothing actually happened between them, it’s safe to say Mai is still not impressed. She’s going back to work. He’s fine, right? That’s all she needs to know. Man, he sure shot himself in the foot. Looks like Sakuta is going back to depression by being clumsy at work. And a talk with Nodoka, she knows Mai isn’t that petty to be bothered with that. She trusts him. So why? Because didn’t he know it was Mai’s birthday?! If Sakuta rushes now and takes the shinkasen, maybe he can catch up with her… And rush he did. But Mai is waiting to pick him up. With all that spamming from Nodoka, of course. So they go to some place to talk things out. He apologizes. She explains she knew he needed someone to be there for him and that it hurts that it wasn’t her. Sorry for not being there when you needed me the most. Mai trolls him with a kiss but it is just to pinch his cheeks. He likes that, doesn’t he? Kaede is discharged from hospital. She must be embarrassed after reading her diary. But she still wishes to go to school and is not afraid because she is not alone.

Do You Like Horny Bunny Girl Senpai?
Well… That was a pretty normal and anti-climactic ending. Is this considered a good ending? Kaede returns to her normal original self. Hence the final episode is somewhat a 24 minute goodbye from Kaede and Sakuta coming to terms with it. Yeah well, it’s strange he only got to know the real Kaede for like 2 years and he found it hard to part ways. Was this Kaede more fun? Maybe. But super cute! Not too sure about the original Kaede but she sounds a bit mundane. Sure, for us viewers we just got to know her but it remains to be seen if the other one will return. Hence future Kaede will have split personalities and switching forth in between. Heh. I won’t count that out. But I’m gonna seek Futaba for an explanation if I ever get confused on that one.

Overall, the plot and story of this series is really nothing special. It is more of the strange predicaments that the characters are facing that is somewhat the more intriguing part. In a sense, I guess that could be considered the general story but generally it just goes something like this. Sakuta’s normal high school life is interrupted when he notices some sort of irregularity especially with one of the girls he knows or related. They try to figure out what is happening and doing something about it (which isn’t much) and the problem is solved. There. That’s just basically it. Not with a lot of fanfare so some may go, “Huh? That’s it?”.

Hence the strange phenomenon are not actually sci-fi moments if I should say. What do I mean? Although the strange phenomenon the girls experienced in this series may look like some sort of mild sci-fi situations, they are more like inner demons that the girls need to conquer and overcome in order for the problem is solved. That is why I said in my previous paragraph that they don’t really need to do anything much or anything that is too drastic. With Sakuta’s help, a lot of drama, talking and self-realization is all it takes for the problem to literally go away and things reverting back to normal. At least, that is how I see it.

Indeed, the issues at hand that the girls faced may still sound and look sci-fi worthy. However you know me, I am really dumb when it comes to sci-fi moments and stuffs. Although I still continue to watch such series in hopes of ‘getting smarter’. Ultimate fail, of course. They aren’t really that bad but with Futaba using some sci-fi mumbo jumbo, even if it is in the simplest form that dumb viewers like me are supposed to comprehend, I just can’t. My brain just automatically shut off to prevent a meltdown. Really. I believe that such theories aren’t really far-fetched and there are lots of such notions and ideas floating around the internet (too lazy to Google, of course) so I’m taking Futaba’s word that in some sense, the theories are somewhat interesting. Just not interesting to a level that I can understand them. Also, watching these girls experiencing sci-fi phenomenon isn’t anything new. Since it reminded me of Kokoro Connect, another series that deals with strange sci-fi-like situations among a group of high school friends. Also not forgetting the Monogatari series but with way less supernatural elements.

Thus the characters play a vital role in retaining the intrigue of the overall story. As I have said, many have their own issues to deal with and overall if you look at them, they’re just normal and ordinary people with nothing really interesting to their background per se. Even with Mai and Nodoka having some sort of proxy rivalry because of their mothers, this background setting isn’t exactly all that exciting if you think about it. It is just enough as a setting for the sci-fi phenomenon to take place and drive the pace of the arc to last for a few episodes. Because the series likes to plant small cameo hints in current episodes for the next arc (like mini Shouko’s appearance), so I thought Mai would be getting another arc of her own considering the media sounding like they’re going to have a field day with the scandal of her having a boyfriend. Too bad that turned out to be a red herring as it was surprisingly ended as fast as it started. Otherwise we wouldn’t have time for the final Kaede’s arc, I think.

I do find that some of the character interactions to be interesting and hence funny and amusing. Especially Sakuta who is the main character has his own brand of witty sarcasm. He isn’t exactly the most sarcastic guy in anime but saying those lines in his deadpan voice can still be funny. Doubling this ‘comedy act’ is his ‘partner in crime’ Mai especially when they started dating. Can they be one of the best couples in anime? Because they hardly use their emotions and with them being sarcastic to each other, it’s probably the glue that sticks them together (maybe the sex jokes did the trick). Then there’s Kaede who is just as cute as she is tragic. Before her arc, she feels more like a side comic relief character especially with her one liners. I can never forget her comeback of how she commented on her own weight gain as Sakuta thought. Yeah, that was pretty classic. Maybe I’m heavy too because half of it is filled for my love for some 2D waifu… And who could forget how she is always shocked with Sakuta bringing home a new girl in every new arc… Sakuta sometimes being frank or playful with his personality, I guess that is why many girls think he is such a perverted pig. Hence every episode’s next episode preview’s trademark line of calling him one. That’s my Sakuta. A total pig alright. Don’t take it from the girls. Even Sakuta himself said it to himself finally.

Sometimes I feel this series might be a sleeper harem series. Instead of having all the harem girls at once, each is given their own focus when they become the ‘star’ of their own arc. In a way, Sakuta’s harem is spread out throughout the series. But calling it a harem may be a little stretch because it isn’t like all of the girls have romantic interest in Sakuta. Not that I can see. After all, Sakuta helped them out so maybe there is. Or not. Even being Mai’s boyfriend feels pretty bland since Mai is often away ever since she got back into show business. Futaba is more interested in Yuuma, Kaede overly relies on her onii-chan more than anything and Nodoka looks up to her half-sister. There may be some feelings from Tomoe but for now they’re just remaining their status as friends (or at least butt kicking buddies). All in all, these girls are mainly featured prominently only in their arc and in others when they are not, they feel more like background characters. For example, Futaba is just some lonely mad scientist explaining what she interprets the problem Sakuta tells her. Kaede is a stunted little sister with a few traumas (can’t even let phones ring) who relies heavily on Sakuta. Tomoe is just Sakuta’s co-worker at the café and Nodoka the idol. That’s all there is to them.

Probably the TV series was too short to feature all the girls because the only one missing her own arc is Shouko. So far her presence in the series can be considered as baffling and a red herring because we are not really sure if this little girl is the Shouko that Sakuta knows or an entirely different person who coincidentally shares the same name. Or maybe she too is having her own Puberty Syndrome but is put on the back burner as Sakuta solves the others who are more pressing at hand. Or like Futaba puts it, just an imaginary friend. But we see others interact with her. What if all those are just in Sakuta’s mind and point of view? Everything is perception. So she may be some guardian angel of his since she swooped down to him in the final episode just to get him back on his feet when others couldn’t. I guess when Sakuta is there for other girls, who is going to be there for him? Therefore as far as the TV series is concerned, Shouko is still a big mystery. Maybe that is why perhaps the sequel that is coming out in mid-2019 in the form of a movie may focus on this. I thought Saki should have her own arc too seeing she is the only girl who sort of hates Sakuta. It would be interesting to see some sort of sci-fi phenomenon befalling on her because the irony of needing to rely on Sakuta to eventually get out of her predicament. Then she can fall for him. Ah, the tsundere role that every harem needs.

Art and animation feel pretty okay but sometimes I can’t help feel that it is also sometimes a bit bland. I know, characters here do not have strange body part shapes (One Piece comes to mind) nor do they have a variety of colourful hair or hairstyles to really tell them apart. For example, I sometimes get confused when I see Sakuta and Yuuma because these generic guys look so generic that I could be mistaken the other for the other. As for some of the girls, I thought I have seen them somewhere before. Like Saki whom I thought was inspired from To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Misaki. Seriously. Maybe that’s why her character is also like that. Then there is Nodoka whom I thought was Eri from Love Live but with less smiles. Coincidentally, looking at Mai brings back memories of Mai from Izumo: Takeki Tsurugi No Senki. Futaba could be To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Shinobu in disguise. Just add glasses. I’m starting to think this series may be taking its design inspiration from To Aru Kagaku No Railgun because doesn’t Shouko look like Ruiko? Take away the flowers, Uiharu would actually be Tomoe? Heck, even their school uniform resembles very closely… This series is made by Cloverworks who did Persona 5, Slow Start and the second season of Gyakuten Saiban.

Voice acting, I didn’t recognize anyone except Nao Touyama as Tomoe. I haven’t heard Satomi Satou in a long time so it was a surprise that I just found out she was behind the voice of Nanjou. She didn’t have many lines either too. Maybe I did identify her but did I forget? Huh? Oh dear. Do I have Puberty Syndrome too? Nope. Just a forgetful person :(. The rest of the casts are Kaitou Ishikawa as Sakuta (Iida in Boku No Hero Academia), Asami Seto as Mai (Asagi in Strike The Blood), Asumi Tanezaki as Futaba (Mizore in Hibike! Euphonium), Maaya Uchida as Nodoka (Eruza in Killing Bites), Yurika Kubo as Kaede (Hanayo in Love Live), Inori Minase as Shouko (Hestia in DanMachi), Yuuma Uchida as Yuuma (Yaichi in Ryuuou No Oshigoto) and Himika Akaneya as Saki (Yatsumura in Mahou Shoujo Site).

The opening theme is Kimi No Sei by The Peggies. While this rock outfit isn’t that all bad, I wonder if it is suitable for a dramatic series like this. Considering the pacing of the show, the lively pace of the rock music sometimes feels out of place since the song is a bit frantic itself. Maybe it is supposed to reflect the storm that Sakuta is facing. But the ending theme sounds more intriguing. Fukashigi No Karte has this enigmatic feel infused with some jazzy tone. A song that you would best fit as lounge music. There are a few versions of this song depending on the heroine of the arc (there is a version with all the heroines singing as a group too). Not only the way they sing reflects their character (Futaba sounds very soft and mellowed compared to Kaede’s cute style), the unique thing about the ending animation isn’t just the featured girl walking on the beach but all of them at different time of the day. Did you notice that? Like Tomoe at the break of dawn, Futaba in the dark pitch of the night and Nodoka in the golden evening sunset. Neat.

Overall, I guess this series isn’t your standard harem and romance one. It has lots of heavy dialogue and isn’t a sci-fi masterpiece too but some of the issues we see here is a good topic for discussion because let’s face it, such problems only arise because of how society treats itself (the heavy expectations of society on Mai has her wanting some private time, suppressing feelings made Tomoe unable to express them properly just so she can stay within her circle of friends, unrealistic expectations of a mother pushed Nodoka to be someone else instead of herself, cyber bullying has turned Kaede into a recluse and a totally different person). I have to admit it is mostly boring if not for the strange humour I find in their sarcasm (apparently many commenters online too didn’t find it funny). I know the Monogatari series sounds way better if you want to watch a series with harem girls having some sort of supernatural issue but that is only because it had a long run and so many stories. Otherwise, Sakuta’s normal and quiet high school life didn’t turn out the way he wants and hence, Yahari Ore No Seishun Buta Yarou Wa Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru. My Teen Romantic Sci-fi SNAFU. Rascal Doesn’t Dream Of Ecchi Romance Comedy. And still, sasuga Sakuta, buta yarou desu ne.

Satsuriku No Tenshi

March 3, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dorei-ku The Animation

November 3, 2018

Like it or not, slavery still exists even today. I suppose it is only human nature to enslave others as part of their darkest and twisted desire to display their supremacy and dominance. However there is a tool today that allows you to get anybody as your own slave without having to resort to outright violence or obvious oppression and without having society and lawmakers breathing down your neck or face the long arm of the law. At least in the anime Dorei-ku The Animation you can. All you need to do is get yourself a mouthpiece tool that looks like some imitation braces and challenge people to any game of your choice. Then when you win, voila! They’ll become your slave. It’s that simple. But beware should you lose. Then you become their slave.

Episode 1
Eia Arakawa listens out to her friend complaining how her heart broken friend being dumped by her boyfriend so he could enter into another relationship with a guy! Holy sh*t! Eia will help her get back at him and arranges a meet up. So Yuuga Oota is fine having this gay relationship with this hideous lion dude? Eia wants the guys to prove they love each other. He gives excuses about being in public but Eia immediately does it to her friend. Lesbians ok but gays no? Yuuga suggests playing a game by guessing the relationship of the couple next to their table. Eia could correctly guess at first go. They met on a dating site and the girl isn’t so keen in seeing her ugly blind date. Yuuga is impressed and since she is the only winner, he will talk to her later. Her friend gets jealous thinking he is trying to hit on her. Later Yuuga explains that he isn’t into guys and did this gig to break up with her so she could laugh about it in the future. Yuuga hears Eia’s keen observation on how she got her guess right and is excited to introduce her to a game. Interested in getting slaves with this device known as SCM? Meanwhile, Rushie Suginami, the girl in that blind date regretted meeting that dude, Masakazu Meguro. At first they share the same paranormal interest but soon he raped her after that date. Hence she plots her revenge via SCM. She meets him at the pachinko parlour and suggests playing a game. From the way she entices him, he will not lose much so he thinks she is just a horny b*tch wanting to get f*cked. The one with the most pachinko balls wins. He thought he won but Rushie takes out trays of her balls she won the entire morning. Because he agreed to the rules prior and lost, the SCM he is wearing takes effect. He is now her slave and is forced to do everything under her command.

Yuuga explains to Eia about this SCM. They look like dentures and placed behind the teeth. They engage in a duel in which the loser will become the winner’s slave due to some technical BS on how the SCM amplifies the sense of the loser’s obligation. Of course there are a few other caveats like you cannot order your slave to take his/her own life. Yuuga wants Eia to join in him in his scheme as insurance. He will not make her his slave but a partner. You see, if Yuuga challenges others and loses, the only way to get out of this slave control is via another master to verbally release you. You can take out the SCM but the effects will have you put it back and if you fight it, you’ll go crazy. Hence he wants Eia to be his partner to release him from slavery should he lose. As for why he is doing this, he wants to test himself. Eia somewhat understands the excitement in this and agrees to be his partner. Rushie relishes tormenting that fatty as he really does what she says. Punching himself in the face but short of killing himself from it.

Episode 2
Host club guy, Seiya Shinjuku challenges Ayaka Toshima in an SCM game. He lost but that is when Ayaka reveals she also knows about SCM. Now that he is her slave, she makes him reveal the truth about his feelings for her. Seems he finds her a pain and only plays nice as she spends money on him. Like a disgusting human ATM. Ayaka is sad she worked hard and multiple jobs for his company. So she lets him eat her pussy (?!) to earn her praise. She will use SCM to keep her dream alive. Hence she moves into his apartment and has him throw out all the belongings of his girlfriend, Julia Katsushika. Yuuga shows Eia an app that displays the locations of masters and slaves in the vicinity. There is a pair nearby and he is going to challenge them. That pair is Seiya and Ayaka. When SCM users are close to each other, their SCM will vibrate. Yuuga and Eia challenge them to a game. Ayaka doesn’t want to do it but after hearing Seiya out how they can win this, she agrees. In this thumb game, the last one left is the loser. Seiya goes out first. Ayaka thought it was cool but then she realizes she is left to fend for herself and Seiya looks like he doesn’t give a f*ck to help her. Could it be he wants to lose to get a new master? Eventually Ayaka loses. Yuuga then reveals Eia isn’t wearing an SCM. Had Yuuga lost, he would have her free him (but how? Is she his master already?). Ayaka rants about taking Seiya away from him. Suddenly that guy punches her to shut her up! Yuuga orders them to stop and will have them return to their normal lives and not participate in other SCM duels. Seiya returns home. He remembers his life was trash. Left to be wasted, Julia saved him. They were the perfect couple until he made the mistake of dabbling with SCM. That forced break up with Julia was heart breaking. He might be free from Ayaka’s control but he still lost someone important. Suddenly Julia pops up. He vows not to let her hand go again. However she reveals she met someone else after they broke up. Nicknamed Ryuuou, she shows his mark on her skin that proves her ownership over her.

Episode 3
Looks like Julia is also wearing an SCM. Yup, she is Ryuuou’s slave. And now Seiya will temporarily be her slave before she transfers this ownership to Ryuuou. Seiya lost because he let go of her hand. Uhm, I didn’t know that also constituted a duel. When Seiya returns to Yuuga’s group, they find lots of nude slavery pics of Julia online. Because he cannot answer Yuuga’s questions, this proves he is not his slave anymore. Plus, Julia took his SCM out (but will return it later) so Yuuga can’t challenge him for a duel. Thinking he could be a spy for Ryuuou, they leave him alone to discuss things. Shiori Adachi works as some cosplay hostess. A princess one. After work, she meets an eager fan, Taiju Nakano who manages to convince her to play this SCM game as she is interested in this slave and master thingy. Thinking it is just a toy and having nothing better to do, she agrees. But what will the play for? A couple of guys try to hit on them. Uhm, isn’t that lion head dude? So the challenge is who could get the guy to spend more on them. Man, the guys must have deep pockets to splash the cash. Near the end of their date, they meet and feed a dog. It isn’t a stray as it has a tag name, Zushioumaru. Unknown to them, it is also wearing an SCM. When they go to the guys’ house, suddenly Shiori is knocked out after drinking her drink. Realizing this is a date rape, suddenly Nakano turns the tables over! Resting at the park, Nakano reveals he is actually a guy! Shiori felt she lost to her as a woman. This activates her SCM. Suddenly this ruffian dude, Zenichi Bunkyou approaches them and wants to know who the master is. From Shiori’s words, he thinks she is the one and grabs her. He challenges her to a punching game and he punches her face until she gives up!!! After beating up Nakano and thinking this cross-dresser is also his slave, but Nakano darts for it. Hiding in an alley while regretting putting Shiori in danger, Julia offers to help but with a condition he becomes their ally. Julia brings him to meet colleague, Ataru Chuo who wants him to duel Julia as prove he is on their side. As they reach the park, they see Zenichi trying to fend off Zushioumaru. Doggie bites his balls and big bully is forced to admit his loss!

Episode 4
Flashback shows Zenichi being confronted by a few bodyguards because he refused to pay for Ayaka’s service. As he doesn’t like being bossed around, he beats them up! Muon Nerima saw this and thinks he is suitable to be his successor. He is the ringleader of the red light district. Zenichi loved the idea of women and money but is made to prove himself by wearing this SCM. For every slave he gets, he gets a million bucks. The rest is history. After beating Shiori, Zushioumaru came to the rescue. Chuo offers him to be their ally but Zenichi would rather die than be bossed around. Chuo wants to duel him but Nakano takes responsibility to avenge Shiori. The game is punch out and Nakano is holding a brick! As they clean up, they see Zushioumaru returning to its owner: Eia. Chuo wants the dog since it is wearing SCM but Yuuga tries to extract more info about Ryuuou. He is not saying anything. Yuuga offers to duel to free him from his slavery but Chuo remains cool and thinks that is a lie. Later Yuuga and Eia discuss how the dog end up wearing an SCM as well as the possibility that Ryuuou has a lot of slaves. Zero Shinagawa is a lonely guy whose life is just one big mundane routine. One day a kid wants him to help him avenge his father who lost an SCM duel and went crazy because the winner ran away and without the SCM, his brain suffered some damage. He would have duelled himself but nobody would take him seriously as a kid. Zero doesn’t want to get involved but when the kid says nobody ever believes him, this triggers Zero’s childhood trauma that nobody believed him and threw baseless accusations at him. Zero agrees to help so they meet the person to duel: Chuo. The game will be a quiz. First to get 3 correct wins. But it seems the kid is answering on Zero’s behalf. Eventually Zero answers one correctly himself and Chuo messes up on one. Does this mean Zero has won? On the contrary Chuo isn’t the one battling but the kid. He reveals his SCM. Zero loses and is now his slave. That story about his dad was made up and Zero was an easy target as nobody would care if he vanishes since he lives alone. A juicy revelation as the kid reveals himself as Ryuuou!

Episode 5
Somehow Zero could defy Ryuuou’s orders! He runs away but is soon knocked out. Although he is still Ryuuou’s slave, Zero explains that he heard a voice in his head to run. I’m sure that wasn’t the voice of God. Julia returns to report that Zenichi has disappeared from hospital and is left with a note. Written in blood by a crazy person, it is definitely a challenge between SCM users. Ryuuou agrees to the challenge to punish that person. Shiori finds out that Chuo is actually Julia’s slave. He started seeing her in the club she works. One day he saw her looking troubled so he thought of agreeing to play a game with her to cheer her up. Before he knew it, he became her slave. Yeah, he guessed the wrong colour of her pantsu. She wasn’t wearing any… Yuuga also receives the same letter and wants to take up the challenge. However Eia refuses as she believes the game has gotten more dangerous. Yuuga is disappointed. He thought she shared the same feelings and all. That was then. Now not so. She doesn’t want innocent people dragged in to become slaves forever. Yuuga even hits her! Eia still won’t cooperate and get him more slaves. Back home, Eia receives a message that Yuuga has lost to that crazy person. Don’t know why she is obligated to go save him. Turns how he set up himself. That’s not the end of it. He has ordered Ayaka to soak in an ice bath. Hmm… I thought masters cannot put slaves’ live in danger? Of course she cannot get out until he says so. Yuuga rants about his boring school and work life. Yeah, this gives him the thrills. His plan is to make Zushioumaru his slave. He doesn’t want Ayaka to wear the SCM or she won’t be his insurance anymore. That way, she will always stay by his side. No choice, Ayaka and Zushioumaru enter the next duel, an eating contest. No food on the plate? You eat the utensils! It’s painful seeing Ayaka trying to break the fork into pieces to swallow! Zushioumaru would do the same too but his mouth and teeth aren’t compatible. Eia agrees to do whatever he says but Yuuga lets the duel go on until Ayaka wins. Hope she doesn’t get indigestion. Yuuga then transfers Zushioumaru’s slave status from Ayaka to himself. Also, he reveals he isn’t that crazy person and just used that for this. Things are going to be crazier now that crazy people are going to play this game.

Episode 6
Wow. Now we hear the thoughts of Zushioumaru. Originally Eia’s pet, one day he saw a cute bitch (the female dog, mind you) and chased after it. Too bad he got lost and injured. A kind professor, Sumida took him in and cared for it. As he is a scientist researching about the brain, Zushioumaru didn’t mind becoming his test subject. He developed a mild prototype called Slave Control Method otherwise known as SCM. One night, his greedy colleague, Tsubaki Setagaya stole all that data to modify it for his own use and fled. Sumida felt responsible for this and resigned. With only a prototype in hand, Zushioumaru had this idea of wearing it because SCM vibrates when another wearer is nearby, to find Setagaya. Doggie must be real confident Setagaya is wearing it all the time. Too bad he didn’t find him. When Zushioumaru returned, Sumida had hanged himself. Zushioumaru vowed to find Setagaya at all cost. That’s when he stumbled into Shiori and then his SCM vibrated for the first time when Zenichi was around. The rest is history. Zushioumaru is happily reunited with Eia but wonders why she is with Yuuga whom he can sniff is a liar.

Yuuga is on the crowded train when a woman comes up to him and whispers she is that crazy person. She has him agree to a duel but before was drugged out and brought back to her base. Fujiko Taito introduces the slaves she has now that include Rushie, Masakazu, Zenichi and even Ayaka. Fujiko wants to know if he knows a man with a lion hairstyle. In fact he does. Shinnosuke Tachikawa was his friend and business partner. They wanted to sell SCMs but Yuuga had other ideas of using it so it ended there for them. Apparently Fujiko is looking for him because love at first sight. He saved her in a weird cliché manner from thugs. However he soon left and left behind and SCM. Her goal is to use it to find him so he can be hers. Not so fun now that you’re the slave, huh? With Yuuga as her slave, he is ordered to capture Eia and Zushioumaru. But Yuuga falls into another duel and loses. This person is Eia. She saved him so as to free him? This means wearing the SCM. At least she kept her promise even though he is a jerk. Better thank your lucky stars. Eia who was against using SCMs seems all for it now. They find another SCM user, Sachi Shibuya as Eia battle and win over her. Yuuga is afraid of how Eia is using it so aggressively. It seems Eia’s goal is to free all slaves from SCM. Although it can be as easy as the master’s orders, what about other slaves out there they don’t know? Hence she is going to enslave everyone wearing an SCM and them let them all go free. She’ll then rid the world of SCM. Wow. That’s like trying to destroy humanity to save it. I guess you have to be this crazy if you want it to work.

Episode 7
Julia narrates she loves holding hands of her parents. When they could not, other men tried to do the same via money or violence but they weren’t serious. Until she met Seiya. He was always there for her until that sudden breakup. Depressed, her tranny friend suggested a place of a friend to clear her head. But that home belonged to Ryuuou but he is always home alone as his mom is always out working. Thinking of being his friend, Julia agreed to play a game using SCM. She lost and is ordered to strip. This was the first time Ryuuou used the SCM and is amazed it worked. The next step is to go rescue his mom who is working in a red light district run by Nerima. However he couldn’t save her as Nerima says mom owes a lot of money and if he could secure 100 million yen, he might consider releasing his mom. Julia pitied him and agreed to his order to bait and catch more people to become his slave. She doesn’t mind doing this as it is their secret and hence their bond they share. Meeting up with Fujiko’s side, both agree to a duel of capture the flag in this warehouse. Aside from capturing the opponent’s flag to win, a slave goes out if any body part other than their feet touches the ground. Slaves can also hurt one another. The loser will all become the winner’s slave. We see Fujiko’s side taking the lead as she seems like outsmarting Ryuuou’s slaves. But when near Ryuuou’s flag, Julia electrocutes herself with a pool around the pool as warning. It seems one of the core rules as a slave is that they can disobey an order if they think it will kill them. Ryuuou on the other hand has quietly dismantled all the traps laid by Fujiko as he claims her flag. Fujiko admits her loss. In the aftermath, Fujiko is surprised that Julia actually electrocuted herself despite knowing the dangers even though it is Ryuuou’s order. She wonders why she would go that far for her master.

Episode 8
Ryuuou wants information on an SCM user that has a star mark. As it appeared inside a school, he wants Julia to infiltrate as a student. Fujiko also volunteers but since she is a nurse, she has the credentials to become a school nurse. They didn’t find any leads until Fujiko is confronted with Setagaya. At the same time Julia is confronted by Minami Kita who knows Julia is an SCM user and wants to duel her. Julia runs but is cut off by Setagaya and Fujiko who is now his slave. Julia is kidnapped as she learns he is the star SCM. Setagaya wants her cooperation as he wants to make this world a better place via SCM. As he tries to put in his star SCM into her, she struggles and loses her own. Setagaya is interested to see how long she can resist without an SCM. Eia schemes a plan to duel Nerima as Sachi is forced to ignore a call from her mad boyfriend, Takio Minato. Minami narrates how she wanted a better life. She mixed with the wrong company but eventually everyone around her disappeared. Until she met Setagaya who introduced her to SCM and assured she could win her freedom. She used it to enslave Nerima but notes nothing has changed. Eia comes in to duel Nerima. The challenge is to earn the most money in 2 hours. Money in the bank doesn’t count and you can’t use the phone or computer. This duel seems to favour Nerima as he has multiple businesses. Whatever. Challenge accepted. Nerima calls his men to bring in the money from his establishments. Meanwhile Minami follows Eia to a park where she sings and the people throws some lose changes to fill up a boot. But Sachi comes by and dumps hundreds and thousands of yen! Minami knows she is one of her slaves and part of her tactic. Meanwhile Yuuga disguises as a loan shark interested to loan Nerima money. 10 million. But it seems Nerima knows the catch and signs Eia’s name on it. There is a clause that says he must return all the money in 30 minutes. Crazy. Yuuga is caught and tied up. When Eia returns, it looks like she is going to lose but wait. The 10 million goes up in flames! There is a timer to set fire on it? With time is up, Eia’s 1 million beats Nerima’s 900 thousand. Eia explains the million she got was from Sachi asking donations from her friends. Phew. Otherwise the real 10 million they burn would have been for nothing. Literally all gone up in smoke. Eia reveals her plan to free everyone from slavery and destroy SCM. Nerima applauds her goal and believes she can stand up to a certain someone.

Episode 9
Gekkou Itabashi is an obsessed fan of a sadistic online counsellor, Maria Chiyoda. Yeah, he’s probably a masochist. He is ordered to spy on Ryuuou’s underlings believed to have popped up at his school. He spies on Setagaya and Fujiko’s confrontation. Setagaya made Fujiko wear a special SCM in exchange for info she is looking for. When Setagaya puts on his SCM, Fujiko immediately becomes his slave. It seems Setagaya’s SCM is also a special SCM and is able to pass down judgment and hence turning her into his slave. Gekkou got scared and ran away. Seeking forgiveness before Maria, she has another mission for him. Put on this SCM and rendezvous with her comrade, Kiyo Koto. Maria is reluctant to use him but since he can hear sounds of SCM, might as well use his talents to save her senior, Kiyo. Just have to put up with his annoyance. Ryuuou and Zero are at the school at night to investigate the disappearance of Julia and Fujiko. But before them is dumb Gekkou trying to stop them. Easily destroyed by Zero. But Gekkou thinks Zero is Kiyo. A switch is flipped inside Zero as he makes Gekkou enter a duel. Gekkou lost. Ryuuou puts on his SCM to transfer Zero’s slave to his however it doesn’t work. Zero is against Ryuuou? It seems this is not Zero but Kiyo! Chuo and Nakano arrive to help but Maria picks them up and escapes. Flashback shows Zero turning up at Maria’s place. Claiming he is Kiyo, Maria doesn’t believe him because Kiyo is a woman and died a while ago. Kiyo claims Zero is her son and her conscious somehow transferred to her. She wants her to help Zero. Going back further into the flashback, Maria once met Kiyo in prison after a minor scuffle. They became good friends when they got out but unfortunately Kiyo died in an accident. Next time when Maria visits Zero, Zero doesn’t have memories when he was out nor his mom. Soon Zero becomes Kiyo as she explains about Zero not knowing her because she died when he was young and the trauma made him lose his memories. Kiyo somehow reawakened when Zero put on the SCM. Their plan is to duel Ryuuou, defeat him and free Zero.

Episode 10
Ryuuou reminisces his normal and happy life with his mom. Until she started working more frequently and was rarely at home. Then Julia came into his life and he got to know about SCM. With Julia always by his side since, he noticed she has been starting to do a lot of things for him despite not being ordered around. Was it because of SCM? As Ryuuou is reading at a bookstore, surprisingly Eia comes to talk to him and give him her doughnut. Ryuuou wonders if she is unaware of who he is. He just had that look he wanted to eat a doughnut and thought it would be nice to share. Ryuuou initiates his plan to get Julia back. As Masakazu also went missing after Julia and Fujiko, Ryuuou’s slaves have caught him and trying to extract info. They find a message of a place to meet. They lie in wait to ambush as they see Setagaya and Fujiko appearing. When they have them cornered and as soon Setagaya learns Ryuuou is not among them, he uses his SCM to turn them all into his slaves. He then makes a courtesy call to Ryuuou that all his slaves are his now. But Ryuuou is only concerned about Julia and gets worked up after hearing how dutiful she is. To add insult, he sends a picture of Julia licking his feet! Setagaya reveals to his slaves that this was all part of his plan to bait and get them in one fell swoop. They have become perfect specimens to collect SCM data. Meanwhile Maria believes she has lost her trump card to defeat Ryuuou since he now knows about Kiyo. She thinks of putting on SCM to make Zero her slave to save Kiyo. Thinking Gekkou is at the door, however it is some crazy sniper gas mask dude as he attacks her and is going to turn her into his slave.

Episode 11
Nerima explains to Yuuga and Eia about the star SCM. After Minami enslaved him, Setagaya popped up and with his star SCM, he became his slave. He was ordered to pretend to be Minami’s slave. Setagaya made a deal with him that for every slave he gets, he will be paid. It is a win-win for them as Nerima would get the money and Setagaya the data he wants. The plan is to approach Setagaya without becoming his slave but soon they realize Sachi isn’t around. Just in time, they get a message from Setagaya that Sachi has been captured and to come to the warehouse. So when they make their move, Setagaya’s slaves corner them. However it is a trap as these are Nerima’s men in disguise. The real ones make their way in to find Sachi only to fall into a pit trap. Setagaya is impressed with his big catch but notices Eia not among the group. Yuuga pushed her away before they fell in. Now she is on the run. Setagaya is now talking to Fujiko as he explains how SCM works something like Pavlov’s Bell. As I understand, it is when you realize you have lost that you become a slave. As his star SCM gives off that similar sound, it brings back memories of your loss and thus the reason you lose before any duel is made. However this only works on people who have lost. This is why he wants to improve on it from the samples he collected. However he starts to bleed as it is taking a toll on his body. Suddenly he is attacked by people in a gas mask. Their master is Takio and he wants to duel Setagaya. In this lying game, Takio explains Fujiko is his slave and hence he knew all about the star SCM. Setagaya thought it is a lie but it’s not and loses. Flashback shows Takio hates people looking down on him but ever since he got the SCM, he hasn’t had any duels and became frustrated. His friend invited him to a cabaret in which Julia and Sachi became their companions. Takio targeted Julia but it was Sachi who lost to him. But as his first slave, he ordered her to have sex with her and realized the true potential of SCM. After a while, Sachi started to ignore him and he became even more frustrated. He bumped into Shinnosuke for a while and soon took things into his own hands. He observed the SCM map and those wearing it and targeted Maria to become his slave as he views her as an easy target. Extracting info from Zero, he found out about Shinnosuke and used it on Fujiko to become her next slave. Now Takio relishes he is the master of the most slaves in town.

Episode 12
Takio is using his slaves as target practice. Eia notices a number Yuuga left her. Calling it leads to Shinnosuke. After telling him what happened, Shinnosuke explains how he and Yuuga met (some brawl he was saved from). Yuuga became interested to form a partnership to do business with him but he changed when he learnt about SCM. Instead of selling it for profit, he became interested in them. He then took their money and run. So Shinnosuke is going to help her as he wants to settle things with Yuuga. But will the duo be enough to take on Takio and his slaves? This is where Ryuuou joins in. It seems Eia knows where Takio is thanks to a reliable source (Kiyo who is pretending to be under Takio’s control). Takio has Setagaya explain how many SCMs are out there. 23. Takio has the ultimate slave master as 18 slaves. Only Eia, Ryuuou and Gekkou are not his slaves. But as he counts them, there is 1 more missing. It is believed that Shinnosuke has it but sold it to someone else. Before Takio could start his next round of fun with his slaves, Eia pops up and challenges him to a duel. Whoever begs for their lives first loses. However his slaves capture her. Meanwhile Shinnosuke is putting homemade bombs all over the place while Ryuuou is on the lookout. Takio beats up Eia in hopes of making her lose. Soon, explosions occur all over. Takio panics and orders his slaves to come but they will not put themselves in danger through the fire, hence ignoring his orders.

Meanwhile Yuuga spots Shinnosuke. Both have a weird judo bout and it ends with both of them ‘declaring their love for each other’. I believe it is more of bros love than gay love. Takio mocks Eia’s plan to free all slaves. Suddenly Kiyo walks in and frees Eia. Takio tries to escape but Shinnosuke stands in his way. With fire everywhere, they have no way out. Shinnosuke has no choice but to carry them all and jump through the window! This scary ride has Takio scared sh*t as he pleads for his life. You lose. Don’t worry. They survive. Thanks to that flimsy zinc roof… Yeah… Meanwhile Ryuuou heads underground to try and free Julia. Other guys come in to help break down the door. In the aftermath, Gekkou arrives to help! It’s over, dude. But it’s not over yet as Eia and Ryuuou are both undefeated masters. The final duel is a coin toss. As the plot would have it, Eia wins. She frees everyone and bans the use of SCM or enslaving everyone. Ryuuou and Julia emotionally reunite. Nerima repays his dues to free Ryuuou’s mom from her debt. Nerima uses his influence to set up this fire thingy as some movie shoot but that’s not going to fool the authorities. Now he needs to think of what to do with Takio. But too bad Setagaya has escaped. He has his men search for him as he wants to repay his kindness. With everyone free, Eia throws away her SCM and returns home with Zushioumaru.

12 Episodes A Slave
So, uhm, that’s it? No plot twist at the end in which Eia suddenly changes her mind and reveals her true colours because and won’t free the slaves and instead goes on to dominate and enslave the world? Okay. I guess we will have to make do with this boring happy ending. What a bummer. But with Setagaya still free out there, even though SCM seems to be ‘disabled’ by Eia, as long as this guy is free, he can still make new prototypes and continue his game thereafter. Nerima better catch this guy quick if we don’t want to see history repeating itself again. Also they trolled us with that 1 missing SCM but we’ll never get to find out how because even if they teased us that some random stranger is in possession of it (for some reason his enslaving sadism kicked in late), perhaps another round of possible slavery and a possible teaser for next season! But hold on. How can that person with the only SCM left go around enslaving others? Well, the other used SCMs (assuming they have been thrown away) may be picked up by others. Hey, Eia freed those affected by SCM but this doesn’t mean the SCM itself would have stopped working, right? If Eia had foresight, she would have collected and destroyed them all! Oh boy. Didn’t think that through enough, did you?

Sometimes I feel that the irony that the term slavery is used in a very loose fashion because from what I can see, it is more of BDSM than anything. Or maybe it is just me having this old fashioned mindset that a slave has to be in very pitiful conditions and in chains. So having the people here as slaves feel like just being very obedient people as far as I would explain. Lackeys, if there was another word for it. Although the duels and games played here in challenges are nothing special and are just really simple, it also shows how terrifying that something this simple could actually end one up in a lot of mess. This is why the world is full of sh*t as long as there are greedy and evil people around.

While the concept of slaving people this easily using SCM looks like an interesting idea, however the pacing and development didn’t really play out nicely out here. There are so many mind boggling questions about the SCM that seemed to contradict itself that I got confused on how it actually works. Yes, on the outside it is that simple of both players putting it on and duel, winner becomes master and loser becomes slave. Then when you try to think a little more on the technical stuffs, it just gets a little confusing. For example, if a slave doesn’t wear his/her SCM, he/she cannot enter duels and risk become slave to others but if that is the case, can he/she obey their master without wearing SCM? If they are free from master’s control for this short period without wearing SCM, wouldn’t they have run far away? At least far enough never to see their master again? I was also wondering how Yuuga was going to make Eia his insurance if she was not initially going to wear the SCM. I thought only other masters can free slaves? If a normal people can do so, don’t you think this defeats the purpose of SCM? Another boggling thing is that if your master has become the slave of another master, then why didn’t Gekkou become Takio’s slave when Maria became his slave? Probably they kept this character for stupid comic relief that is pretty pointless but if you ponder this, doesn’t this break its own rules then? Who is Gekkou’s master then?

Another point of contention is how it works on animals. Even if Zushioumaru is a very intelligent dog and can understand some human commands, I feel Zushioumaru is a bit unrealistic because it feels like a human trapped in a dog’s body. It is to a point that little doggy could perfectly understand everything that has been said. This brings me to the next question if both SCM users are from different countries and speak different languages. Will it take effect? And how does the device actually detect when the game starts? Sure, it looks like when the users say the word itself but how does the device recognizes this?

As pointed out by Setagaya, a caveat of the SCM is that you really lose when your mind thinks you have lost. This means it is all in the mind. So if a person is particularly a very sore loser, even if he/she has actually lost and not think have actually lost yet, then the SCM will not work, right? You won’t become the master’s slave, right? So I guess that everyone we have seen so far in this anime are not really sore losers since they accept their defeat so easily and become their master’s slave in no time. Just like that saying, you don’t really lose a fight because you fall, you lose the fight because you refuse to get up. And hence SCMs are somewhat perfect for stubborn and sore losers who will never ever give in. Because it is all in the state of your mind. Hence the battle will never end! Makenai zo!!! Yeah, the not having a loser mentality is ever so important here. Heck, as proven in Zero’s case, if you have multiple personalities, you are practically ‘safe’ from being a slave. The more the better. Just don’t let that personality out. Ever again. Truly it is all in the mind.

If one of the rules for a slave is that the master cannot order a slave to die or at least put his/her life in danger, so what if a master orders the slave not to eat? It is not an immediate threat but if left alone, the slave will eventually die of starvation. But if the slave will take steps to break this and start eating, then think about this. If a slave deems something to threaten his/her life, he/she will not do as command. So if the slave is a wuss and a big pussy in life who views everything so negatively and cowardly, then theoretically the slave will not do anything the master commands, right? Example: Master: Slave, go buy me a beer. Slave: Sorry master, I’m too afraid to cross the street due to my past trauma of being knocked down by a speeding lorry and survived. Can’t do that. So again, it is all in the mind, no?

One of the biggest downfalls of this series is having too many characters. You see, this series has a total of 23 characters (or is it 24 because the official title says 23 slaves and me)! All of which are supposed to be an integral process and development of the overall series. Although there is some good points having this much characters, this means that some of the characters are nothing more than superficial and there to make up the numbers. This is particularly true for characters that appear early on in the series and are not really main or supporting character material such as Rushie, Masakazu, Seiya, Ayaka, Shiori, Nakano and Zenichi. Those like Minami who popped up late also felt like nothing and just to add up for the numbers. Even if they have like half an episode focused on their story, once that is over, they become just a number in the slave pack and forgotten. It makes you wonder if their story is really important. Yes, it is important as we get to see how their story connects to others and hence the overall big picture. However with too many characters and such little screen time, such characters have been reduced to become less important as the series reaches its closing stages.

Even if these characters had more screen time and if this series was expanded to 2 cours, I believe it will not fare any better and would lead to even more confusion. Because for one character, how much of a drama is there to be dragged out? Everybody has their own reasons and goals when they put on the SCM and many are as cliché as wanting money, power and dominance. Therefore if these characters were to have more limelight, it will be frustrating and the plot will further be at a loss. Because there are simply too many characters already so adding more screen time will not do justice to anything. That is why I suppose those aforementioned characters having their screen time and then forgotten is probably the best for them and for the overall story not to suffer. Although it is still that bad just to a lesser degree.

As for some of the main characters especially those who are supposed to be the big main players of this series, they don’t really impress too. Like Eia and Yuuga who started off giving us the impression that they are the main characters but as other characters are introduced, they slowly feel light they have been slightly relegated to the side. Eia seems like the main character only because of the need of a character to defeat the ‘bad guy’. Even Ryuuou somewhat loses his charm after being introduced. At first there was this enigma and mystery to the person who might be the biggest slave collector in town but after we get some important details about his past and other plot twists, he doesn’t seem so interesting after that. He is after all just a kid who longs for a real mother figure.

The only thing that surprised me was having Takio as the final boss. I was always thinking that Setagaya would be that role but I guess I was being confused and bored and didn’t pay attention for this plot twist. I mean, I sometimes keep wondering about this character as he pops up from time to time (in fact, he is one of the first characters to pop up when the series started) but never give much thought about it. Could it be just a red herring even if they show a little prominence of this character? So it’s like the ‘final boss’ keep changing hands. At least in my mind. From Ryuuou to Setagaya to Takio. It just shows that it is a dog eat dog world out there and if you’re not on your guard, somebody is always there waiting to knock you off your high throne and take over your spot.

The wild card and joker among all the characters is Shinnosuke. He could perhaps be the biggest link to all those involved in SCM despite his character being shown as some hippie or something. However his real final episode appearance wasn’t really mind blowing or exciting. Just because he isn’t an SCM user, he is that wild card and convenience needed to get the plot through the final episode. With their initial money up in smokes, I suppose Yuuga is going to have a hard time paying him back now. Hope he learnt his lesson from this little thrill he got. It’s been fun for a while. Now back to his boring mundane life.

Heck, Eia’s goal to free everyone and the world of SCMs must be so easy because it is revealed there are only like 23 of them. You mean Setagaya didn’t mass produce them?! Holy sh*t. I was under the impression that there are at least thousands of them free flowing around since Eia made that bold statement of wanting to rid of SCM slavery.  This means Eia could actually not go on an international personal crusade of every nook and corner of the world to find and destroy every single SCM. Phew. Only 23 of them. No sweat to track them all. And conveniently they are all in the same town. What a catch! Of course this is assuming Eia doesn’t know how many are there are first but in the end we see her freeing everyone like as though she knows that these are all the SCMs users ever. What an easy job. Now where did that 1 remaining SCM go to…

Artwork and animation feel like a mixed bag because I noticed the quality sometimes fluctuates between passable and mediocre. It’s not like it is heavy on the action side either. Some of the hot female characters like Julia and Fujiko, it feels like they lap up their sexiness like as though they come from another anime if you think too much about it. But I want to point out that the first time I looked at Setagaya, I was shocked to see what the f*ck is this evil version of John Lennon doing here???!!! This series is co-produced by TNK (High School DxD, School Days, UFO Princess Valkyrie) and Zero-G (Tsugumomo, One Room, Nil Admirari No Tenbin). Prior to the anime adaptation, there was a live action movie adaptation of this series back in 2014, Tokyo Slaves.

The opening theme is Kara Kara Na Kokoro by Shougo Sakamoto. He sounds a bit sleepy although I thought he had some cold when he recorded singing this song because it sounds like he is singing through his nasal. Not kidding. It’s one of those generic kind of songs that tries to give you a generic feel of the series. Like the ending theme for Kamisama No Memo-chou. I don’t know, hearing this piece somehow reminds me of Asunaro even though they are different as night and day. The ending theme is BJ by Pile. The hard rock piece feels more suitable to be the opener. The ending credits animation here feels weird because it shows the mug shots, actually the leg shots or body shots without the face shown of all the concerned characters. Like as though they are lining up for their mug shots to be taken at the police station.

Overall, this series had an interesting concept but failed to articulate and express such ideas into an appealing and fascinating series. Too many characters all trying to be linked together contributed to the messy plot of who could accumulate the most slaves. It is not a very bad anime but it is just unfortunate that it is haphazard and hence limiting the understanding and overall enjoyment. You try to keep track of the characters and the story but soon realize it is better to just forget the whole thing and watch this mindlessly like a slave if you want to get to the end. Take it from me who have been a ‘slave’ to watching anime for umpteen years now. You just stop questioning your master’s orders (in case this, the logic of the anime) and just go with the flow and accept everything as it is. It’s so much easier that way. After all, slaves don’t think and don’t defy their masters and continue to serve them no matter how crappy they are. Yup, it’s the reason why I will continue to watch mediocre animes for years to come. And I don’t even need to be subjugated by an SCM for that. I guess slavery won’t be ending anytime soon.

They say meritocracy is fair. If you have the skills and talents, it would allow you access to almost anything. But doesn’t that just increases the gap between the skilled and the not so skilled and hence a window for discrimination? Those at the top will be favoured much more than those have nots at the bottom. And so it is interesting to note that Youkoso Jitsuryoku Shijou Shugi No Kyoushitsu E has a top elite school that lets students do anything they want. Literally a paradise for any student who gets to enrol in here because you will be set for life if you do well. However the sad truth is that only the superior receive favourable treatment. I guess it is only human nature… Or would that be human habit actually?

Episode 1
Kiyotaka Ayanokouji is on a bus as he witness Kikyou Kushida trying to advice this arrogant blondie, Rokusuke Kouenji to give up his seat for the elderly since he is sitting in a priority seat. However he talks back that he is not legally bound to do that and doesn’t intend to contribute to society. Kushida asks others but nobody dared make a move. Finally a kind lady decides to give up hers. Ayanokouji arrives at Tokyo Metropolitan Advanced Nurturing High School, a government supported school to nurture futures for the future. Outside the entrance, he meets fellow student Suzune Horikita who was also on that bus. She doesn’t like that he is looking at her so he points out she is the same like him who didn’t give up their seat. She brushes him off and tells him not to assume she is the same as him. It must be a big coincidence that all these students end up in the same classroom, 1-D. What are the chances Ayanokouji and Horikita are even seated next to each other? Yosuke Hirata has this idea of everyone introducing themselves before the teachers arrive. Some participate, some don’t. Ayanokouji is profiling what kind of person they would be from their speech. When it comes to Ayanokouji’s turn, it’s boring and normal. Sae Chabashira is the homeroom teacher as she hands out manuals that lists the rules for this school. Among them include they will all live in dorms and have limited contact with the outside world as this place has all the facilities they need. It’s like a mini kingdom? Also, they will use points as currencies and each of them gets 100,000 private points at the start of every month. At the store, Ayanokouji bumps into Horikita again. He tries to talk to her but she isn’t interested in becoming his friend. More so, take his advice to buy more expensive stuffs instead of cheap ones. Outside the store, they see fellow classmate Ken Sudou being mocked by other students. He wants to fight but they just laugh and go away. Ayanokouji and Horikita ignore all this.

In a few days, groups are formed. Kushida talks to Ayanokouji and thinks he is close to Horikita. Well, he is the only one she talks to. Kushida’s aim is to make friends with everyone and was turned down by her. Yeah, need his help. So after school, Ayanokouji invites Horikita to join him at a café. When Kushida joins in, Horikita wants to leave immediately. She knows she has been setup. Kushida begs for her to be her friend and is again turned down. Horikita doesn’t mind being alone. In fact she has been alone for 9 years and never felt like so. As time passes, Ayanokouji notices his classmates skip classes or do their own thing even when the teacher is teaching. Even so, Chabashira didn’t take action and continued teaching. A month later, the classmates realize their points didn’t get refilled. So they as Chabashira about it. She tells them they have already been allotted. But they didn’t get any… She mocks them for being idiots. After listing down all their violations, she reminds them evaluates their grades and performances and points are given to you based on this reflection. Therefore she has evaluated them to be given zero points! Time to hit the panic button. She further adds salt to injury by deriding them that they think there would be no catch to this. In short, they are all worthless. They are all garbage.

Episode 2
Class 1-D enjoying themselves in the pool? It’s like nothing happened. Or are they taking their mind off from that mind blowing revelation? Flashback reveals Chabashira revealing a bit on the assessment of the S-system. She is ‘impressed’ they managed to blow all their points in a single month. She also explained about the class points they can earn and if they earn enough, they can overtake 1-C and swap places with them. She warned them for the next test, those who fail will be expelled immediately. Hirata tries to rally the rest to try and get some points but some like Sudou aren’t interested. Ayanokouji is stumped when Horikita treats him to an expensive meal. So once he digs in, she tells him their classmates are holding a study group for the tests. Only 3 opted not to join: Sudou, Kanji Ike and Haruki Yamauchi. At this rate they will fail and their class must not only lose points but gain them. Her idea is to hold a study group for them and it is Ayanokouji’s job to gather them for her. That’s why she treated him. Oh, she hasn’t forgiven him for his conspiracy with Kushida. A woman’s grudge runs deep… Her goal is to climb up to 1-A. Of course when he tries, all reject him. Time to push his responsibilities to Kushida and make her the goodwill ambassador. The eager beaver does her job and manages to have all of them agree to come! Amazing. I can’t help speculate maybe she flashed her boobs? In exchange for this, Kushida wants in on the study group. However Horikita rejects and will not entertain this any further.

Kushida joins the study group anyway. And it is off to a bad start as Sudou is mad at Horikita for calling him incompetent. He continues to mock his dream of becoming a pro basketball player since the world isn’t that easy and he lacks commitment and dedication. He quits. Ike and Yamauchi follow. At this point Horikita decides not to waste her time on them. If they are going to bring the class down, they’re better off being expelled as soon as possible. Kushida still won’t give up and this prompts Horikita to mock her motives to join this study group. Is it to sabotage her? Kushida feels hurt to hear that. That night when Ayanokouji goes out to buy stuff, he sees Horikita talking to her brother Manabu who is the student council president. She promises she will get to 1-A soon but he is not impressed. Calling her fool to come here and hasn’t realized her own shortcomings. He blames her that because she got assigned to 1-D, it is him who bears the shame. He is about to teach her a lesson when Ayanokouji intervenes. When Manabu fights back, Ayanokouji is able to dodge all his attacks swiftly. Impressive. Manabu recognizes him as the student who scored exactly 50 points in all tests. Middle ground. Was it on purpose? Coincidence. Manabu leaves as he warns his sister about mistaking isolation for independence and if she wants to reach the top, struggle with all her might. Ayanokouji and Horikita talk. As she is still persistent those 3 losers are a waste of her time, he tells her that her shortcoming is assuming others will hold her back. Isn’t it because she looks down on others that puts them at a distance from the start and got herself in 1-D? The test come and go. Every student in 1-D for every single subject achieved high scores.

Episode 3
Most of the guys are praising Kushida for saving them. Horikita wonders if Ayanokouji had done something. Flashback 3 days ago, Ayanokouji spotted Sudou getting into trouble with other students only for the fight to be stopped by Honami Ichinose who warns she will report this. Ayanokouji tries again to convince Sudou for the group study but he isn’t interested. After Sudou finishes his basketball activities, Horikita approaches to hand him summarized points. She gets psychological with him that if he stays, he gets to play basketball. Of course she is doing this for her own benefit. Ayanokouji and Kushida approach a fellow senior of Class D. He is willing to trade points for his past test papers. With Kushida being pleading in a cute way and all, I guess they struck a deal at 15,000 points. Ayanokouji’s logic is that the test questions do not differ much. In fact, they confirm it is exactly the same. He doesn’t want Kushida to reveal them to their classmates so soon as they will become desperate in trying to memorize the answer. He also makes a condition he wants her to take all the credit. With 1-D in a high, Chabashira is impressed they did well. However, she points out on the average score, Sudou has failed. Oh… Just by a point. He will be expelled. Kushida tries to find a way to save him but rules are rules. Later Ayanokouji confronts Chabashira. They talk about equality and such. He wants to buy a point for Sudou to pass. Remember, you can buy anything in this school with points. She charges 10,000 points. Can he afford? Horikita will help cover that. As they do not know the penalty of an expelled student on the class, she views the merit of having Sudou sticking around. Chabashira agrees to sell it but notes they are an interesting bunch because no Class D in this history of this school has ever advanced to a higher tier.

Later Ayanokouji talks to Horikita about doing this for herself. Because he knows she realized Sudou is weak in English so she herself purposely lowered her own score to lower the class average. So those barely passed party in Ayanokouji’s place. Kushida asks how they manage to rescind Sudou’s expulsion. He lies that Horikita argued with the teacher and none could counter her. The guys are amazed at her but Kushida feels something amiss. Later Kushida asks Ayanokouji if he likes Horikita because they are always seen together. He denies and that she is just his classmate and neighbour. After everyone leaves, Ayanokouji notices Kushida left her handphone behind. As he tries to follow her to return it, he sees this shocking display of a change in her personality. Her voice becomes hoarser as she curses Horikita while vandalizing public property. Eventually Ayanokouji is caught. She warns him he will pay dearly if he tells anyone about this. Those killer eyes… How will he pay? She is going to cry rape. False accusation? She puts his hand on her boobs. There. Fingerprint evidence. Don’t mess with her. She looks serious. Then she returns back to her bright sparkly angelic personality. At this point Ayanokouji wonders which is the real her.

Episode 4
Class 1-B has a rise in their class points. Many thank Ichinose for it. However there seems to be a system glitch today so the provision points to students of 1-C and 1-D are delayed. Ichinose calls Ayanokouji to meet so she could ask advice on how to deal with the love letter she got. When her friend arrives and misinterpret the situation, Ayanokouji gives his advice on how hard it is to confess. Wow. He sounds like a pro. In the after math, we see that friend leaving in tears. I suppose she was the one who confessed and got rejected. Ichinose feels bad she tried so hard to focus not to hurt her but ended up doing so. She hopes everything will go back fine tomorrow. An incident happened as 1-C has made a report that Sudou assaulted and injured them after basketball practice. Sudou claims he fought back in self-defence but nobody believes him since with the threat they might have points forfeiture, they start thinking he is better off expelled. As usual, Kushida rallies the class to help solve this. This means Ayanokouji is forced to help out, right? After all, he notes that there might be demerit points they cannot see since they don’t know how the system works. It might not be deducted now but in the future. Kushida and some of the guys try to find witnesses but to no avail. Ichinose hears about this and volunteers to help as she owes Ayanokouji. She posts on the bulletin for people to contact her classmate, Ryuuji Kanzaki if they have any information. An information streams in saying that one of the guys who fought Sudou, Daichi Ishizaki had a pretty violent history too. They feel something doesn’t add up because it’s like they willingly get beaten up to set up Sudou. When Ichinose doesn’t know how to transfer reward points for the information, Ayanokouji helps her. But he can’t help saw her total points of 2.6 million! How did she get so much?

Ayanokouji returns to his room. Looks like the usual gang has duplicated his key to make this hang out place. Horikita has new information. There was a witness. She is Airi Sakura and from their class. She knows because when Kushida pleaded for help from other classmates, everyone looked at her but Sakura kept looking down. However even if she is willing to testify and Sudou’s self-defence, it will not mean anything. Later Kushida ponders about what she meant so Ayanokouji gives an example. If there was a murder and 2 people were suspected. One with a history of killing before and one is a clean law abiding citizen. Who do you think would be suspected in the event of lack of evidence? So Sudou’s terrible personality makes a bad impression to those around him and his behaviour and history brought it upon himself. Since Sudou doesn’t feel he has done anything wrong, the reason why Horikita was reluctant to cooperate. The next day, Kushida tries to talk to Sakura in person. However she refuses to say anything. As she struggles to get away, she drops her camera. It isn’t working now. She continues running and mumbles something about not wanting everyone to know about her true self.

Episode 5
Sakura asking Ayanokouji and Kushida to accompany her to send her camera to be fixed? Ayanokouji can see why because the salesman is pretty shady and intimidating and Sakura needs the numbers. However she is still too afraid to fill up her details so Ayanokouji writes his instead. The guy is appalled but with Ayanokouji’s dead serious eyes, I guess there are no legal issues here. Later while they chill out, Ayanokouji observes from Sakura’s behaviour that she does not trust Kushida, thus why she confides totally in him. He tells her to drop all the burden she is carrying and just do it for her own sake. Not for others but for herself. Later Kushida drops by Ayanokouji’s room to show him pictures of a girl in sexy poses. It looks like Sakura but he cannot be sure is her. However one of the rooms looks like their dorm so it could be a big possibility it is her. This has him note that the glasses Sakura wears is fake. Back in school, Horikita tells that Sudou’s trial will be held today after school. Both sides attend and is presided by the student council treasurer, Akane Tachibana. However, because Manabu is also here, Ayanokouji feels this has hindered Horikita’s ability to perform. As the hearing begins with both sides giving contradicting circumstances and the only thing similar is how Sudou’s victims are injured, the guys start a shouting contest. And because Horikita is spacing out, Ayanokouji pinches her waist! Awkward! He tells her if she doesn’t fight, they will lose. So she begins by asking about why they brought Ishizaki into the picture as he isn’t a member of the basketball club. For insurance. He knows martial arts to fight against Sudou’s violence. If so, why were they injured so badly? Like as though they wanted to be beaten up.

Horikita then brings in Sakura as the witness. Because of her nervousness, she is grilled for not stepping forward immediately. She is even accused of being forced to act so to save Sudou. Sakura sums up her courage to show proof she was there. Inside her memory card are those sexy poses. There is one where she took a selfie with Sudou and the rest fighting in the background. However it doesn’t proof who started the fight. It is suggest that both sides compromise. 2 weeks suspension for Sudou and a week suspension for the 1-C guys. Horikita states her opinion on this. As she chides-cum-advises Sudou about the need to reflect his behaviour, this trial is supposed to free him of his guilt. In other words, she wants nothing more than Sudou’s innocence. She claims Sudou has been intentionally set up. Manabu has to decide. He notes one side is lying and state his judgment at tomorrow 4pm. However he has expulsion on his mind. Later Manabu talks to Ayanokouji because he thought he had some strategy. He did not. So Horikita just went rogue there defending Sudou. Manabu then turns his attention to Sakura. She asserts she has told the truth. Ayanokouji believes her. He dodges a quick attack by Manabu who wants to know if he can prove it. Maybe.

Episode 6
Sakura narrates she doesn’t interact well with others. That’s why she is okay being alone and putting on a mask. She masquerades as an internet idol under the name Shizuku. When one of her fans wants to come and see her, she gets scared. She then finds lots of fan mail in her letterbox and they contain pictures of her everywhere! OMG. Stalker! As Ayanokouji and Horikita ponder their next move, it then hit her that the place the fight took place did not have security cameras. As Sakura is still jittery, Ayanokouji assures to call him if she ever needs help. Using a fake email from Kushida to the 1-C ‘victims’ to meet at a special annex, they aren’t interested in talking to Ayanokouji and Horikita until they point out security cameras around. They start panicking. If their fight was recorded, why wasn’t it brought up in the trial? The school is trying to test their ability to solve this. So if this gets out, they will be charged for lying and expulsion. The only way out is to withdraw their complaint. A school can’t take action if there is none. Ishizaki wants to make a call but Horikita snatches his handphone. He gets rough but she reminds him those cameras. They give up. Sakura is walking alone when she notices somebody following her. She tries to call Ayanokouji for help but that creepy salesman overwhelms her at an alley. He claims he is her biggest fan and sent her all those letters. He is about to rape her to prove his love when Ayanokouji takes a picture of him in action. He is going to be ‘famous’ tomorrow all over the news since there are security cameras all around. He tries to escape but Ichinose has called the police to arrest him. He then rants about him being Shizuku’s biggest fan but Sakura tells him off she doesn’t consider him as one and to never see her again. With his heart broken, he switches his story and starts calling her ugly and such. Later, Ayanokouji shows the GPS in her handphone that allowed him to know where she is. Sakura then takes off her glasses and decides to stop lying. Keeping up with lies was really hard.

Chabashira calls out Horikita and wants to know what strategy she used to make 1-C withdraw their complaint. She won’t say anything so Chabashira advises her if she plans to make it to 1-A, try and understand Ayanokouji as much as she can. Otherwise it might be too late. As Class D is viewed as a place for defective people, Ayanokouji in her eyes is the most defective. Ayanokouji stumbles into Manabu. He too is surprised 1-C withdrew their complaint. Ayanokouji claims it was all Horikita’s doing. Manabu wants him to join the student council as the secretary. Of course he refuses as he intends to live a normal life without expending too much effort. Manabu accepts but warn not to disappoint him. Ichizaki and co are being beaten up by the big boss of 1-C, Kakeru Ryuuen. He is displeased they withdrew the complaint without his permission. There goes his plan to see what reaction the school will have with an expulsion. He wants the names of those who set them up. Later he crosses path with Arisu Sakayanagi of 1-A. He mocks she is already playing the queen. He tells her his intention to crush 1-D, 1-B, 1-A and then her. Because there can only be 1 ruler. Horikita confronts Ayanokouji about his idea to plant fake cameras at the annex. This is forging false evidence. She wants to know what he is thinking since he never cared for his friends so why is he doing this. Did she not forget she forced him to help her get to 1-A? Ayanokouji has only this to say to her. He will get her to 1-A as promised. In exchange, don’t pry into his life.

Episode 7
Horikita didn’t want to answer a call from Ayanokouji. But he is persistent… And when he asks if she would like to come to the pool, she hangs up. Horikita sees Hirata and Kei Karuizawa as a couple. The irony of her telling them she doesn’t need companions is that she meets up with Ayanokouji and the rest to the pool. So what changed her mind? Apparently everything looked like normal fun and games for everybody. However there is a very secretive operation going on behind on all. Sudou, Ike and Yamauchi are conducting an elaborated scheme to put hidden cameras in the girl’s changing room. Hideo Sotomura is the ‘control operative’. Wow. Those are elaborate hand signals there. With Sudou and Ike trying to keep the rest in the pool area, Yamauchi is fixing the camera but he has trouble installing them. Because of that, since the fake maintenance sign at the changing room, this means there is a long queue to the toilet near the pool and it is getting suspicious. Even more so when Yamauchi is gone for a long time. Yamauchi can’t do it so he eventually returns to the gang but switches places with Ike. Things are about to go from bad to worse because Ryuuen and his gang disregard the fake maintenance sign to head in. Ike is trapped. Sotomura signals Sudou for help as he fakes a cram to go stall Ryuuen’s side. Sudou might be caught in the middle because Sakayanagi and her gang are also here. Big showdown… That’s not over. Manabu drops in to see what the problem is. This is where Sotomura signals to Ayanokouji for help. Yup, he is in it. Ayanokouji then wants Horikita’s help. She then makes a commotion by drawing everyone’s attention by declaring how the defective class can be better than all the other classes above them. During that, Ike manages to leave in one piece. At the end of the day, it seems Horikita knew about the cameras and has the memory cards in possession. When Ayanokouji called her for the pool invitation, he also told her about Ike’s plan to put hidden cameras and then retrieve them after the pool is closed. If Ayanokouji opposed, they would have done it secretly behind his back. So it is better to let them try and fail. Horikita could have just taken out the memory cards beforehand but the interference of other classes made things more difficult. Since Horikita still prefers being alone, Ayanokouji pushes her into the pool as a joke. He tries to pull her out but she pulls him in. Then everybody gets the wrong idea and starts jumping in and splashing water. Back in her room, Horikita receives a group photo of them. She notes being alone is easier.

Episode 8
Chabashira talks to Ayanokouji that the school received a message from an anonymous man to expel him. Of course he is protected by the school rules. Unless he does something. He assures he won’t but Chabashira disagrees his intentions. If she decides he is a problem, that’s what he is. A threat? She wants to make a deal. Aim for 1-A and she will cover for him. Otherwise he will be expelled. Ayanokouji grabs her by the collar. Is that a yes or no? She’ll regret manipulating him. Don’t worry. Her life is already full of regrets. The school is on a vacation on a luxury liner. Ike decides to confess to Kushida but gets cold feet and is satisfied with calling her by her first name. Now this makes Sudou want to do the same to Horikita. I guess these guys aren’t ‘civilized’ enough to know what is on the French menu and act appropriately so a guy from 1-A tells them off. Sudou is about to get nasty when Kouhei Katsuragi warns to stop this provocation. Even if they are on vacation, they may still get penalized. He also advises the 1-D counterparts to learn some manners. Later Ayanokouji meets Horikita as she requested. She talks to him about this trip being more than just a vacation because their destination is a boarding house owned by the school on the South Seas. They are interrupted by Ryuuen who tries to flirt with her but she rejects him. He ‘warns’ her he will deal with her personally next time. His classmate, Mio Ibuki comes in to protest about his ways. She has had it with how he does things. However she is mishandled away by his ‘bodyguard’, Albert Yamada. Ayanokouji tries to talk to Ibuki but she isn’t interested. Horikita notes Class 1-C may be on the verge of collapsing. When the liner nears the island, the students are assembled on the deck. They are made to wear a wristband in place of their school’s ID. If they take it off without permission, they will be penalized. They are then given a brief rundown of what’s to happen. This will be their first special test. For a week, they’ll be living as a group on this deserted island. It is up to them to make whatever decisions. Some students are in shock to hear this. Well, vacation’s over.

Episode 9
Class 1-D take stock of their items on shore. Reading the manual, each class are given points which can be deducted if there are injuries, pollutions, stealing or even used to buy stuffs. Points can also be added if they secure certain spots on the island. The first snag hit is that some of the girls can’t use the basic makeshift toilet. Although a decent one can be bought, some guys prefer not to recklessly spend points and want them to tough it out. Hirata suggests to give the girls some peace of mind and reduce the anxiety of this test. Also, it is for hygienic purpose. As they walk around to find a suitable spot to set up camp, some volunteer to go look for spots. Divided into groups, Ayanokouji is with Sakura and Kouenji. Kouenji is so athletic he is swinging from branch to branch like a monkey! Is he Tarzan reincarnated? Too bad he goes off on his own. Ayanokouji and Sakura stumble upon a cave mouth but have to hide since they see Katsuragi coming out. Flashback shows Chabashira explaining about the secured spots. A class can occupy it for 8 hours and can only be done by the class leader who is given a card. At the end of the test, classes can try to guess the other class leaders and earn big extra points but get one wrong, the penalty will cost them big points too. Thus they can search for other class leaders and try to hide their own. Katsuragi looks like his is the leader for 1-A as they overhear his conversation with another fellow classmate. Ike has found a spot by the river. Class 1-D meets up and decides to select this place as their base. As for who should be their leader, Kushida suggests that since Hirata and Karuizawa stand out, they need someone who doesn’t and is responsible. Horikita fits that bill. She accepts the role. Class 1-D is setting up camp and the basic needs for survival nicely thanks to Ike since he has experience in camping with his family. Yamauchi thinks of confessing to Sakura and tries to look good in front of her. But they spot Ibuki bruised and sitting alone in a place. They want to help her but she refuses to accept their hospitality. Hirata then discusses the use and rationing of points. What and how they should spend it over the week as the leftover points will be added to their class points. It seems pretty decent and achievable. Ibuki is brought to 1-D’s camp and she cannot believe how nice these people are to accept her into their group. Suddenly they receive bad news. Kouenji has reportedly went back to the liner after calling it sick. This means there will be points deduction for them. It puts a damper to their plan. And what do you know? Kouenji looks pretty fine…

Episode 10
Ayanokouji and Horikita pair up to scout the island as well as the camps of other classes. Hey, there is no rule in preventing them to check things out, right? Checking out Ichinose and her 1-B, they seem to be holding their base well. It seems they are also housing a guy who was driven out by 1-C after a falling out. Next they check out 1-A at the caves. Katsuragi allows and dares them to look but if they try anything funny, there’ll be war. Finally 1-C is like having a beach party!!! They notice Ryuuen is ruling with an iron fist. He does what he wants, the way he wants it. Ayanokouji knows 1-C has spent all their special points on the first day. Because points cannot go into the negative, this negate whatever effect the penalty they will get. They’ll just get zero points, that’s all. Hence they’re not planning to tough it out all week and once they’re done, they just call it sick like Kouenji and return back to the ship. Could this be one of the correct answers for this survival? After all, the test is about the freedom to choose in every sense of the term. That night when everyone is asleep, somebody sneaks in the girls’ tent and takes a look at Ibuki’s belongings. She has the card.

Next day, Ayanokouji and Sakura pair up for more reconnaissance. Looks like 1-C’s beach party is over and everything is packed and gone. They stumble into Ichinose and Kanzaki. Ayanokouji asks if she knows anything about Katsuragi. Currently he is the de facto leader for 1-A since Sakayanagi is out (she was ill before the test started). It seems their ideals are at extreme poles and always butt heads with each other. That night, Sudou and Ibuki almost get into a fight seeing the latter remains uncooperative. Next morning, the girls wake the boys up. It seems somebody has stolen Karuizawa’s panties. Yeah, it’s a big deal… Since they suspect the guys but have no proof, Hirata will allow the boys to handle checking their own bags for privacy. Ike realizes he has the pantsu. He starts to panic. He didn’t steal it and believes somebody put in there. Panicking, he gives it to Ayanokouji. He’ll think of something, right? Funny, why didn’t he just throw or hide it somewhere else? Once the search is over and none of the boys are suspected, the girls still aren’t satisfied. Time for a body check. Ayanokouji has no way out this time as Hirata frisks him. However, when he notices something in his pockets, Hirata clears him. Later Ayanokouji talks to him why he didn’t turn him in. Hirata knows he isn’t the kind of person to do such stuffs and that is why he believes in him as not the culprit. He takes the panties and thinks would be the least damaged by being named the culprit since Karuizawa is his girlfriend. Hirata wants Ayanokouji to help find the culprit but when he does, inform him and not tell anyone else first. Because no matter who it is, the truth is best buried.

Episode 11
The friction between the boys and girls of 1-D gets worse. They want to move their tents farther but the boys won’t help. Since Hirata is such a good guy, they allow him (because Karuizawa said so). However Horikita can’t entirely trust him either and to speed things up, she recommends another trustworthy guy: Ayanokouji. Ibuki talks to Ayanokouji about the theft since most of the guys are suspecting her. She is surprised Ayanokouji believes her. Later Ayanokouji talks to Horikita. He can tell she has been sick before this survival test started. They have been holding out fine so she thinks she can tough it out. While gathering rations, he asks to see her card since he saw one from 1-A but isn’t sure. At this place? It is safer than at the camp. She shows it to him but he can’t tell if other classes have the same and each card might be assigned different colours. Yamauchi tries to tease them for being close. He dumps mud over her head! Horikita judo throws him over Ayanokouji! If she didn’t do that, he would have died! So Ayanokouji broke his fall? Later, Horikita wants to talk to Ayanokouji in private. She admits it is her fault and mistake since her card is stolen. He doesn’t want the rest to know to avoid panic. Horikita suspects Karuizawa and Ibuki. But since Ayanokouji can vouch where Karuizawa was, all that is left is Ibuki. They have to rush back seeing there is fire and smoke coming from their base. Somebody lit the manual on fire. Horikita suspects Ibuki but she looks in shock. After putting out the fire, the girls and boys accuse each other again. First a panty thief and now an arsonist. Is there a traitor among them? It is then they realize Ibuki who was just around is now nowhere to be seen. At this point Hirata is on the verge of going crazy because of all the bad luck. Ayanokouji nudges him back so he returns to take command and give orders on what to do next. Horikita has gone after Ibuki and has caught up. She wants her to return what was taken but Ibuki doesn’t know what she is talking about. She lets her check he bag but it is a feint as Ibuki starts her kung fu kicking moves on her. Although Horikita is burning up, she is still fast enough to avoid. Ibuki then admits she is the one who stole the card. Horikita has her guard down when Ibuki also reveals she was talking in a roundabout way to find out if she was the one who started the fire. When Horikita visualizes the suspect, she got kicked and knocked out. Ibuki then meets up with the person who has requested her to steal Horikita’s card.

Episode 12
Ibuki contacts Katsuragi about retrieving Horikita’s card. The latter calculates the special points 1-A can get and is set to win this game. When Horikita wakes up, Ayanokouji is beside her. She tells what happened and he tells her to drop out. She gets desperate to set things right even if she has to do it herself and curses herself for having no allies. He tells her straight she is not strong enough to do it by herself. If she can’t fight by herself, fight with another. Ayanokouji brings her to the teacher’s base and requests that Horikita be dropped out. Ayanokouji tells Hirata all this and he becomes frustrated at all the points they have collected but is set to lose. All he wanted was everyone to get along and now this sh*t. Don’t worry. Ayanokouji has a plan. On the final day as all the classes line up, everyone is shocked to see Ryuuen returning. He never left. This is what happened. On the first day, Ryuuen and Katsuragi made a pact. 1-C would transfer 200 special points’ worth of goods to 1-A as well as other info his class would find about other class leaders. For safety, Katsuragi wants proof. Hence, Ryuuen beats up Ibuki and another guy meant to be spies for 1-D and 1-B respectively. They have to look the part that they hate him to defect. After 1-C dropped out, Ryuuen hid himself on the island alone. What Katsuragi didn’t know is that Ryuuen also made a pact with Sakayanagi’s faction. Ryuuen calculates that their penalty points will be well overtaken just by guessing the leaders and that it is his victory. This is the result: Fourth place: 1-C with zero points; Third place: 1-A with 120 points; Second place: 1-B with 140 points; First place: 1-D with 225 points!!! Everyone is in shock but 1-D rejoices with this shocking outcome.

Back on the ship, Masayoshi Hashimoto contacts Sakayanagi who believes everything has gone according to plan. Now everyone is pointing fingers at Katsuragi as he believes Hashimoto has sold them out. Horikita seeks Ayanokouji’s answer. How did he do this? Simple. Horikita isn’t 1-D’s leader, hence everyone named her wrongly and lost points. Based on the rule, a class must have a valid reason to change leader. Her failing health was valid. Ayanokouji replaced her as the leader. He knew Ibuki was a spy and destroyed her camera, forcing her to take action to steal the card. He then made a deal with Yamauchi to dump dirt on her and also force Ibuki to steal the card. He then started the fire to make give her the chance to run and to meet up with Ryuuen. Ayanokouji explains how he knew Katsuragi wasn’t 1-A’s leader from that cave observation thingy. He also knew Ryuuen was on the island because when they visited his party, he noticed his radio. Ibuki had a similar one so it means she must be contacting him who is still on this island. At that point, he switched from spot occupation tactic to leader identification to earn points. He left 1-B alone because eroding their alliance in the long run is disadvantageous. Before she could find out his intentions, other 1-D students flank Horikita. They are impressed after hearing she is the reason they won and other lies they have been fed to. Later Ayanokouji meets Chabashira. He believes that man who is his father is the one asking her to expel him. All she has to say to him is that his father believes he will be expelled by his own accord. Ryuuen shows Ibuki a contract he has that he will receive hundreds of thousands of points every month till he graduates. This is provided he fulfils certain tasks and is approved by all 1-A students except Sakayanagi. This is Ryuuen’s main goal, to get this contract and he doesn’t like others interfering with it. Horikita confronts Ayanokouji again after finding out about the lies he told others to make her look like a hero. He reminds her about the allies she need. She thinks he did it for her and starts to blush. Once she thanks him, she starts sounding like a tsundere… But we hear Ayanokouji’s dark thoughts. He never thought of her as an ally. Not Kushida. Not Hirata. Not anybody. He views others as tools and will use whatever means to win.

Classroom Crisis: Solitude Is Better Than In Bad Company
Just as I feared, it couldn’t end at a point where it gets the ball rolling. Or at least when things are starting to look interesting. Ayanokouji revealing a side of his that we never knew. Okay, maybe we might get a rough idea of his character but we didn’t expect that he will have this kind of dark side. Or maybe he is just phrasing it in a metamorphic way. Maybe not.

Although generally the series itself is quite interesting, in some ways I find it a bit draggy and the pace could be a little slow at times. Especially the final arc of the season whereby the first years are thrown on an uninhabited island to fend for themselves for a week. It is almost like Survivor but Japanese high school anime style with all the drama and power play. There are some tension, trust issues and a possible traitor amidst the group and though the final episode’s explanation was quite interesting to say the least, well, too much thinking for a simpleton like me feels like a put off. So perhaps it is me for being impatient because the draggy parts of this Survivor game serves to build up all the twists and revelation in the end. But still, even if it is a bit confusing, it is still highly interesting.

I have this feeling this anime is a mix and borrows from a few other series. Since this series separates students’ abilities via classes and the lowest class gets discriminated, there is also a points battle system whereby classes can overtake that position if you have enough points to overhaul. Hence, I thought this series was some sort of comedy at first as this was what Baka To Test To Shoukanjuu was all about. No idiotic idiots around for comic relief. With Ayanokouji’s analytical narrations, it reminds me of the similar nature of the main character in Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru. Also since the last class which is where our main protagonist and focus are gets the least favourable treatment, it somewhat reminds me of a similar system in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu. Hence they work their way to prove otherwise. Competition is healthy, right? Well, not if you have really dark ulterior motives to do whatever it takes to keep those lower than you where they are.

I don’t know if this ‘scare tactic’ is a great way to get people to motivate and work hard. Because our mothers are always trying to drill into our young heads to study hard and get good grades to get high paying jobs. Otherwise you can only work as a garbage collector! See, you don’t need the government level people to tell us that. Mothers can be this strict too. You better listen to your mother’s words or else you’ll grow up with regrets regretting you should have listened to your mom to study hard then.

It also brings about the question of how this school actually grades and separates the first years into their respective classes. Because if 1-D is believed to be the most defective, should not they be allowed to be enrolled here in the first place? Like Ayanokouji who screwed up in the entrance exam, he got placed in the lowest class. Had he done better, he would have placed in a higher and better class and would things have turned out differently from him? Some like him may shine later and the school system allows him to upgrade if he does better. But remember, the other classes would have also improved. That is why sometimes making first impression and having a good start counts. Despite class 1-D being labelled as so, they are not totally useless. It could be just something that is ‘undesirable’ that the government doesn’t feel it is beneficial or advantageous to society or the nation in general. Like say, being an otaku? Something defective doesn’t necessarily it cannot be fixed. So being labelled as defective shouldn’t become a life sentence. But you know, society…

One thing interesting about each episode title is that they are based off a quote from a literature of various European philosophers. Mostly I can see taken are from French philosophers but there are German and Danish ones too. The quotes itself are interesting as it tells the dark nature of humans as perceived and observed by another human from a cynical perspective. You think man is smart and superior? Everyone has their own ulterior agenda and motive and it is quite interesting to note how these quotes subtly fit nicely into the episode. It makes you think that all the meritocracy and the likes are perhaps just a big fancy term to hide something more sinister like keeping yourself in power and keeping others below you. Basically, survival of the fittest too.

Also interesting to note is the mid-intermission section whereby it will display information pertaining to the school rules and like for the final arc of island survival, guidelines of how the survival game is played out. It is quite insightful and if you didn’t catch what the rules explained over in the episode proper, perhaps this part could be useful enough as a summary to pause and read through if you are ‘too lazy’ to go back and start finding out more on the rules later.

The characters are a hit and miss. It is not that they are very likeable but I noticed that the main ones and if possible all of them have something to hide. There is a Japanese saying that everyone has 3 types of faces: One you show the world, one you show to your closest friends and family and one only to yourself. This is what basically summarizes the main characters. In short, everyone lies or at least doesn’t seem to have that trustworthiness or the ability to trust others. Like Ayanokouji who looks like a sluggish guy who prefers not to get involved in anything but eventually gets dragged into it, we see snippets of flashbacks of his young past during the course of the series. It could be some sort of tragic child experiment since he eventually became the only one left. Despite his lethargic facial expressions that is even reflected in the way he speaks, he is a very capable and sharp person. Like as though this is a façade to conceal something and his set of extremely high level skills. You know what they say about being clever to hide your cleverness. He has got this great vision and has planned ahead to stay many steps ahead. Because so, I get this feeling that Ayanokouji could be the biggest antagonist of them all. Much darker and more brutal than Ryuuen or Katsuragi. Yup. He may be the bad guy and has taken us all for a ride making us think he is the main character. Who says main characters cannot be villains?

Then there is Horikita whom at first glance many would love to call a b*tch because of her high and prideful attitude. She thinks she is smarter than many others and I can’t blame her if she thinks so. Because if you have inferiority complex, you’ll never get to the top. And it looks like she is in a hurry to get there. So you might think that this is all Horikita has to show but as we have seen, there is a totally different side to her when she faces with her big brother. She admires him but the feeling is not mutual. So until she gets to the top, she’ll do whatever means necessary (legally of course) to get there. It feels like she has this big brother complex too because her rush to the top is so that she could gain Manabu’s acknowledgement. Like that’s her end game.

This dozen of episodes are too short to do justification to the many characters even for the main ones. If Ayanokouji and Horikita already have this much focus but yet we are still clueless about them, imagine the other characters. Like Kushida who isn’t really a nice girl and has a very dark and evil side that unfortunately Ayanokouji had the misfortune to come across. Even there is more than meets the eye for Hirata. He might look like a reliable and nice guy but we saw him at breaking point at one time. Again, it prompts us to ask if he is really all that seems and is there something darker lurking beneath the surface. After all, another saying about still waters run deep rings true for most and possibly all the characters in this school. Sakura is more straightforward as she admits she does not deal well with interacting with others and hence that masking personality, the other face, the internet idol Shizuku whom she pretends to be.

Sudou, Yamauchi and Ike are also more straightforward since they aren’t the brightest and are mostly simpletons. But just because we haven’t come across something that would put their talents to good use doesn’t mean we can write them off as useless. We would never know Ike was good at camping knowledge had this survival test did not come up. I believe one of the most ‘disappointing’ characters in 1-D is Kouenji. Because this vain guy is so full of himself and he cares about no one but himself. He is the least cooperative among the 1-D classmates and he looks more like a sleeping villain biding his time to take centre stage. I thought he would play some sort of a major role or at least something like Ryuuen but Tarzan boy for now is just in a world of his own. Just admiring his good looks, not giving a f*ck about the rest… You’re so vain, you think the song is all about you…

Although Class 1-D gets the main focus and it is unfortunate that we do not get to know the composition of the rest of the class (because again, the dozen episodes are not enough to squeeze everybody in), the other classes of the same grade too are interesting to watch. And it is unfortunate that there is not enough time to flesh out all of them. All we know that 1-C is currently being run by a dictator, there is some sort of secret power struggle between 2 opposing factions in 1-A and perhaps the best and most peaceful class is 1-B but they lack being perfect thanks to their homeroom teacher who is a klutz and drunkard. And that I mean of the cute anime girl kind of klutz and drunkard. I wonder when she’ll start talking about her love problems… She is the only faculty member to look so out of place because even Chabashira is no angel (a devil in disguise?) and a menacing teacher herself and she sounds like she too has an ulterior motive trying to blackmail Ayanokouji to get to 1-A. Even 1-C’s teacher looks like some sort of sneaky evil lawyer kind of person. Serious. Even if 1-B looks great and nice, if this series has taught me something, it is to suspect everyone and trust no one but yourself. They may look nice on the outside but even nice people have their problems. Just that the world doesn’t know. All these characters really look interesting with their different approaches too. It looks like they are heading for a huge collision course but too bad we won’t get to see it this season.

Art and animation looks rather okay but nothing to shout about. I just feel that some of the students here, especially the intimidating looking ones feel a bit out of place. What I mean is that they don’t really look like they are high school students. I know it is bad to judge a book by its cover but this elite school isn’t exactly a delinquent school and yeah, it houses all sorts of students of different shapes and sizes. For example, bald guy Katsuragi looks more like some sort of president’s bodyguard rather than a high school student. It’s like he got into the wrong show. The same for that black American guy, Yamada. Like as though he was hired straight out from America because he really only speaks with that American accent. It makes you question if this guy is really a transfer student. Kouenji looks more like a villain than a high school delinquent if you ask me. Ryuuen looks fit as some sort of a pimp or criminal mastermind ring leader than one too. Sudou isn’t that bad since I thought he looks like that guy from Yuu Yuu Hakusho or that delinquent basketball newbie in Slam Dunk. This series is animated by Lerche who did Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, the Danganronpa series, Kuzu No Honkai, Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku and Monster Musume No Iru Nichijou.

Voice acting is pretty normal too. Because the main character duo of Ayanokouji and Horikita sound so monotonous and deadpan, it feels like they need to talk because they have to. Therefore hearing the very lively Kushida by Yurika Kubo (Hanayo in Love Live) and Sudou by Eiji Takeuchi feels so much better since they bring some emotions to their character. And handful of seiyuus I recognized include Ayana Taketatsu as Karuizawa, Mikako Komatsu as Ibuki, Nao Touyama as Ichinose and Rina Satou as Chabashira. The rest are Shouya Chiba as Ayanokouji (Kotarou in Tsuki Ga Kirei), Akari Kitou as Horikita (Yonaga in Alice To Zoroku), Mao Ichimichi as Sakura (Bada in ClassicaLoid), Ryota Ohsaka as Hirata (Zen in Akagami No Shirayuki-hime), Toshiki Iwasawa as Kouenji, Masaki Mizunaka as Ryuuen, Satoshi Hino as Katsuragi (Saito in Zero No Tsukaima), Rina Hidaka as Sakayanagi (Ririchiyo in Inu x Boku SS), Daiki Abe as Ike, Mutsuki Iwanaka as Yamauchi and Yuichiro Umehara as Manabu (En in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love).

The opening theme is Cast Room by ZAQ. Surprisingly this is quite a catchy tune incorporating some hip hop elements in it and funky bass line. At least that was the beginning part. Then slowly it turns into some fast beat pop. But overall this song isn’t that entire bad. The ending theme, Beautiful Soldier by Minami plays to a slower beat. Also not too shabby. In the ending credits animation, we get a glimpse of the total points of certain individuals as well as the total class points. Not like it really matters because I don’t see how the class points really play a pivotal role or significant part in this anime. At least not in the current plotline. I mean, so what this guy or 1-A has this much points? It means they can afford almost anything but knowing that doesn’t really change anything.

As long as there is a ranking system, somebody has to be top, somebody has to be bottom. In trying to strive for a perfect world or system, we make it even more imperfect. It shows that all of us aren’t born with equal talents in the first place. It brings for the debate of equality versus equity. Would you rather have everyone have the same starting point (equality) or the same outcome (equity). Sometimes the sad truth is that some who genuine work so hard their entire lives will never end up getting anywhere. It makes us truly ask if humans will ever be equal to each other. Not expecting to be perfectly perfect but do we even come close to that ideal.

This series is interesting that it examines the psychological aspects of human nature. Although if you want to go into deeper and more technical and complex matters, there is a whole subject and books and researches for you to check out on your own. As far as this anime is concerned, it has interesting characters and setting but the pacing might be a little bit slow and ultimately it is too short to resolve anything in a satisfying way. So basically being human is one big contradiction itself because there will always be 2 sides of the coin and the sword will always be double edged. For everything good, there is something bad. Vice versa. So for an elite school that promotes meritocracy and talents for future sustainable generation may be good as it fosters competitiveness and as such brings out the best in people. But it also creates a dog eat dog world and brings out the worst there is just to be at the top or to just survive. You can never be perfect, but you can be better. After all, there is this saying that goes: Mankind makes living contradictory.

Gunslinger Girl

October 22, 2017

I wonder if it is considered child abuse sending little girls to do dirty jobs like murder and assassination. Wait. What’s that I said?! You heard that right. A certain government in Europe had this twisted idea to use little girls (albeit with cybernetic enhancements) to do their dirty work to eliminate people they don’t like or deemed as a threat. What kind of a sick story or joke is this? However despite this grim setting of Gunslinger Girl (no, it’s not some western spaghetti), the series does not focus so much on the assassinations they are required to do but rather their tragic story of how they cope with their emotions as they seek warmth and love just like any ordinary little girls amidst carrying out their ruthless missions from their higher ups as child assassins.

Episode 1
The Fratello, agents (Handlers) and their partners are trying to storm into a certain building to apprehend a key witness. One of them being Jose and Henrietta. They pose as a reporter trying to interview a certain person but the guy behind the door refuses them. Jose remains adamant so that guy goes out to get rough with him. Then it triggered Henrietta. She kills him! When his other comrades start to return fire, she takes out her machine gun and guns them all down with no emotions and no mercy! Flashback shows Jose was to be assigned to a young assassin girl. He asked why the agency used young girls. Something about physical modifications and brainwashing work better. So when Henrietta woke up from her slumber, she became his partner. She never rested and continued training to improve herself since he told her to become proficient quickly. After gunning everyone down and the remaining ones taken out by sniper fire, Jose calls mission control to say that mission has failed. Believing the witness is still in the building, another team is tasked to find the witness in which they eventually found hiding. Jose asks why Henrietta went berserk. It never happened before. She stood there visibly shaken. Her arm is wounded. He covers her with his coat and they go home. Later Jose talks to his higher ups. Jose doesn’t want to condition her too much since it will shorten her lifespan. Jose can get a new one once she is used up but he doesn’t want to. They think he is too emotionally attached to her. As Henrietta is an excellent assassin, it is a waste to dispose of her. They hope he can make her understand big mistakes are inexcusable. Jose remembers Henrietta was the only survivor as her family was massacred. The first time he saw her at the hospital, her mind and body were ragged. It could be out of pity that he felt he wanted to help her. After a while, looks like Henrietta finally answered Jose on why she went berserk. She just wanted to help him.

Episode 2
Jose narrates the Social Welfare Agency is a government sponsored lifesaving corporation. In actual fact it gives dying patients another chance at life with cybernetic implants and conditions them to handle their dirty work. Henrietta undergoes surgery but is warned being dependent on this would suffer from memory dysfunction. The doctor advises Jose to condition her more because trying to treat a cyborg girl like a normal girl would only result in unhappiness. Jose also tried to teach Henrietta social etiquette. But when a waiter was clearing the table, the way he picked up the utensils looked dangerous so Henrietta immediately pins him down and would have killed him had not Jose stopped her. Henrietta wakes up from a ‘bad dream’ whereby Jose in addition to teaching how to do long range sniping, lets her look up at the beautiful sky and Venus. After the surgery is done, Henrietta feels lost so she seeks advice from her comrades, Triela and Claes. They treat her to cake and tea and tell her not to worry about it. That night, Henrietta is surprised that Jose takes her to see stargazing. He isn’t mad at her. He lets her see Orion and tells of the tragic love story of Orion and Artemis.

Episode 3
Henrietta was always sick and thus never left hospital. Her parents were always arguing about this. So when she was fitted with cybernetic implants 2 years ago, she finally got to move freely. She loves her life at the agency and also plays the violin as Jose introduced her to it. She has Rico as her roommate. The girls are in their usual training when a call comes in. All training will be stopped for this next mission. The target is Mascart, a politician from the opposition party and his secretary. The assassination will take place in 1 week. Before each session, Mascart and is secretary will hole up in this hotel to scour over documents. The agency has booked the entire floor so they can carry out their mission smoothly. Rico is tasked to survey the place. As she tries to enter from the back, she meets this porter boy, Emilio. Love at first sight? Because this boy can’t stop talking and she actually listens to him! She had to cut short this meeting when her Handler, Jean calls for her. He notes her running late. Did she bump into anyone? She lies no. He reminds her to kill anybody who sees her during a job. Later Rico tells this to Henrietta. Because Emilio thought she was a musician, she hopes Henrietta could teach her how to play the violin. An amateur teaching a newbie how to play… As the mission begins, Rico enters the room as room service and immediately kills both men. When she leaves the room, she unexpectedly bumps into Emilio. He is shocked and confused to see her here in their hotel’s uniform. Rico is lost for words. How will she get out of this? Well, there is only one way. The same gun she used on the politicians will now be used on him. Sorry. Bye. In the aftermath, Rico narrates she wakes up every morning wonder if her body is still here. If it does, it is wonder to know her body still works. She loves her life at the agency.

Episode 4
Triela nudges Henrietta to summon her courage to ask Jose to spend time with her for Christmas. Triela apprehends a baddie as her Handler, Hilshire wants to ask him questions. Because he pulls out a gun, she shoots him. This doesn’t please Hilshire as he tells her not to shoot without his permission. She dares him to condition her more. Of course he doesn’t wish for that so he asks Jose for advice on how to get along with her. On a mission to Naples, the duo are supposed to search for a retired Mafia boss, Mario. He has been running around Europe but rumours have it he is back here. Their job is to bring him back to the agency for protection as he is a valuable witness to testify against the mafia organization, thus why the mafia are trying to hunt him down too. Hilshire and Mario were also ‘associates’ and know each other. They manage to get him and though Mario agrees to go with them, he needs to do something here now. As he is cuffed to Triela, she has to accompany him to toilet. He tells his story that he once trafficked kids in Amsterdam and that was when he met Hilshire working as Europol’s investigator. He let him escape for insider info. Hilshire was fired when found out and subsequently joined the agency. Slick Mario gives Triela the slip, chaining his end of the handcuff to the stall while escaping himself. Mario thought he has lost her when the mafia aides surround him to bring him to their boss. But Mario is confident as he knows someone dangerous will show up. True enough Triela comes rushing down and raining bullets on them. In the aftermath when she asks why he came to Naples, he wants to see his daughter. After the trafficking, he considered quitting and reflected on all the bad things he had done. He sent her Christmas presents every year but this year he vowed to give it to her in person. Triela lets him go and will report to Hilshire as she lost him. When Mario asks about her parents, she doesn’t remember except that she was found in the Amsterdam trafficking. Hilshire heard all that so Triela is surprised when he is nice to her when he asks what she wants for Christmas. He got her a teddy bear as per requested. Strangely, Mario also sent her a teddy bear present.

Episode 5
Jean sees his former military police captain, Claudio Raballo to bring him out of retirement to the agency. He is given Claes to handle. As he trains her, he finds she isn’t a sharpshooter and has her shoot until she hits every target. So when she hasn’t returned in a day, Jean tells him about how each girl is different and how it takes time for implants to grow accustomed to implants. Raballo realizes Claes has been shooting since yesterday! He goes to get her. Back in his room, they talk about the books they love to read. Currently Raballo is reading on how to plant vegetables. In case of aliens invasion. Seriously? Then he takes her out fishing. She learns his limp is due from a gunshot during his days as a police. In the agency, they look like proper teacher-student. But outside, he takes her fishing and they bond closer. It’s their unspoken rule. One night on a mission, Claes is to handle a few subway punks. Unfortunately she killed them (though, permitted) but she herself got stabbed (pulled her gun too slow). During training, Raballo notices Henrietta inconsistent. When a bullet is stuck in her gun, he slaps it away from her. Because he scolds Jose, Henrietta gets ready to attack him. Similarly, Claes goes to defend him. All calms down when Jose tells Henrietta to stop. Once Jean learns about this, he thought the girls need to have several pages rewritten. A few days later, Claes heard Raballo is quitting the agency. He claims he just needs some time for himself. Though he has been training her to become stronger, he feels uneasy with it. He gives her his key to his room to read all the books she wants as well as glasses so that she will be gentle when she puts them on. Shortly, Jean comes in to tell Claes that Raballo is dead in a hit and run accident. She goes into shock. The higher ups deem her useless but the scientists have some use for her. Claes tells us she doesn’t leave the agency grounds nor participate in missions. Instead she is a guinea pig for whatever experiments the scientists have in mind. As she takes Henrietta to grow vegetables, the latter asks if she is lonely without a partner. She’ll die if Jose is not around. Claes with confidence tells her back that she will decide if she is lonely or not.

Episode 6
Jose talks to Enzo about the recent bomb disarmament in a subway and one near the national museum. Enzo feels odd because it was too easy. Like as though they are amateurs or a distraction for something else. Then they go spy on Enrico Perdini, an ultra-left terrorist in the Republican Faction (RF) responsible for last year’s bombing incidents. Henrietta eavesdrop on their talk. Something political. Something about funding. So there is an entire team tailing Enrico in hopes of catching him in the act of meeting up with the bomb makers. Enrico might have given Enzo’s men the slip but he didn’t realize men from the agency still tailing him. They are unsure of his intentions because he is walking around Rome like as though he is going sight-seeing. When Enrico returns to his hideout, he calls the bomb makers, Franca and Franco. They are not pleased their meeting is in Rome where it is the jurisdiction of the agency. He wanted to scout the place and believing their hands are full now focusing on the museum, he wants the bombs delivered at the appointed time tonight. Franca and Franco don’t really like to deal types like Enrico since he is a lost cause but since it is an order from the higher ups, they have to do it. They wonder if they should send him fake bombs. When Enrico’s men stake out for the appointed meeting, they notice something strange about the traffic. No cars are passing. A distance away there has been an accident. Could it be a cover up for a raid? Enrico has his men outside investigate but they are taken out by Henrietta and Triela. Then they storm into the place to take out the other men. Henrietta poses as a lost scared girl to get close to them and take them out. Enrico is finally cornered and gives up. In the aftermath as Jose treats Henrietta to gelato, they accidentally pass by Franca and Franco. They are relieved Enrico got arrested. Thinking that Henrietta belongs to a well to do family, it is girls like them that RF is supposed to protect.

Episode 7
Jean and Rico posing as a salesman and his sister on a business trip, meet Filippo Adani who is an accountant and also on vacation here in Firenze. Filippo seems knowledgeable in the arts and even accompanies them to an art museum. Jean notices a couple of men spying on Filippo and also making shady terrorism orders. On pretence to go make a phone call, Jean interrogates one of them in the toilet. It seems they are from RF and are following Filippo to eliminate him and recover Bigliazzi’s private ledger. When they leave the art museum, somewhere in the alley they are surrounded by those men. They threaten to kill innocent people if Filippo doesn’t hand over the ledger. Filippo is about to do it to spare Rico’s life but that isn’t necessary. Jean and Rico go into action and shoot them dead. They start running when more men come chasing. While they hide, Filippo explains why he is wanted. The ledger exposes Bigliazzi’s funding to RF. Also, he heard about their terrorist plot that they didn’t want it leaked. Filippo loved arts but his father wanted him to become an accountant like he wanted. So he gave up his dream of being one. But being an accountant he discovered his father dodged tax for 20 years and funding terrorist groups. He couldn’t take it anymore and ran away. Knowing Bigliazzi was in cahoots with the police, if he was going to be assassinated, he wanted to see Firenze one last time. They continue to make a run but Filippo gets shot in the hand. They manage to make it to Jose and Henrietta waiting for them. A car chase ensues. So as not to involve the tourists, they had to drive to somewhere deserted before the girls could return fire and stop the chase. Filippo thinks he is done for and is glad he visited those cities one last time. He is tired of living. Rico thinks it would be a waste if he dies. It would be better if he drew paintings in this world and besides, Firenze is such a beautiful place.

Episode 8
Dr Fernando Bianchi examines Henrietta. Despite saying she is okay, he wants her to control her emotions. Next he examines Angelica. First he lets her see pictures and see how many she recognizes. When asked about the pasta story, she doesn’t remember. Bianchi then talks to Jose and Marco Toni (Angelica’s Handler). He wants Jose to have more faith in Henrietta while Marco to renew his former interest in Angelica. However Marco is frustrated. He worked hard to teach Angelica a lot of stuffs but those conditioning doctors made her forget everything. Marco continues to treat Angelica indifferent and tells her to do more training. Flashback reveals Angelica was almost killed by her parents. Her father’s factory had gone bankrupt and prior to that he took out a life policy on his daughter. The worst, right? At that time, Marco was hired into the agency upon Bianchi’s recommendation after getting fired for his failing eyesight. He is introduced to Angelica whom the doctors just saved from death. As he accompanies her, he starts telling her the pasta story to divert her attention away from the pain. Didn’t work. But she would like to hear more of it. As Marco’s unit rarely sees any action, they spend more time trying to come up with that pasta story! Marco also had a girlfriend who is a children’s storybook writer, Patricia. Because of the secrecy of his job, he can’t tell her much except to care for a child and telling her stories. One day, his unit members got into a fight. Angelica tried to stop them and got slightly injured. At the same time, cybernetics were introduced and Marco’s unit was sent into action. After the successful mission, the unit members apologize to Angelica but she doesn’t remember them. Marco became devastated. Patricia broke up with him although she heard from Bianchi about the pasta story and turned it into a book. Now Marco doesn’t tell Angelica the story anymore. He doesn’t want to think his actions were in vain but she no longer remembers the story.

Episode 9
Once Lauro gives the okay sign, Elsa barges into the room and guns down everyone Rambo style! Wow. She also takes pictures of evidence as ordered. As Elsa is also one of those cyborg girls at the agency, she rarely mixes with the rest and always stays in her room by herself. She only sticks closely to Lauro. Lauro talks to Jose that they are working together for the next mission. It is to take out a local police chief. Lauro killed an officer of his as warning but he remained stubborn to back down and even threatened to reveal the agency’s existence. Thus the agency has approved his assassination. Henrietta goes to Elsa’s room to talk to her. However Elsa has nothing to say to her and warns if she gets in Lauro’s way, she’ll kill her. Asked why she is being a lone wolf, Elsa asks back if other cyborgs are your own partner is more important. As Lauro is most important to her, nothing else matters. She will use all his time for him. She claims the rest do not have love. Henrietta protests because she loves Jose too. In that case there is nothing more to talk. As they set up their sniping position, Lauro could see Elsa quite eager. They have one shot to pull this assassination. Elsa watches in envy how close Henrietta is to Jose. As the target pulls up, Lauro notices Elsa not focusing. Heck, her gun safety is still on. This forces Lauro to order Jose to switch with her. The target is perfectly taken out with Jose hitting the first time followed by Henrietta just to make sure. Time to escape. But Elsa only stood there in shock. Lauro calls her useless and leaves her there.

Episode 10
Henrietta is surprised Jose is taking her on a trip to Sicily. Did something happen? Elsa and Lauro were found murdered in the park. The murderers have not been found yet. Henrietta looks at it in a positive light since Elsa will now forever be with Lauro. Jean and Rico spearhead the investigation. He believes the culprits could be from RF, the southern mafia or another government agency. Pietro Fermi from Section 1 (another section of the agency) is told by his boss that this is the best time to put some pressure on Section 2 (Handlers and their cyborg girls) because he ultimately wants this section closed. So he and his assistant, Eleanora Gabrielli do their own investigation and mostly they ask Jean lots of questions regarding the agency and the Fratello. Fermi tries to test what Jean said is true about the cyborg girls so he throws a coin at him. Rico swiftly grabs it and points her gun at him all within a blink of an eye. Further investigations showed that Elsa fired 2 shots but the bullets are missing. Fermi and Gabrielli visit Elsa’s room which is drab and empty. Then they go talk with Triela. So far the cyborg girls aren’t really sad over Elsa’s death because she was a loner and how close she was to Lauro. Jean receives the results from the bullets that killed Elsa and Lauro. It hints that this is going to be troublesome. Jean suggests hiding the ballistics info and blame it on malfunction. That way the pressure on them would stop if they admit it is their own mistake. They will report it is Elsa fought and died for her master. Further investigations show the blood sample of the murderers found at the park belonged to suspects from RF. Fermi asks Rico if she would gladly die for her master. Jean interjects that it is only natural they do so. Thus Rico replies if he says so, then so be it.

Episode 11
Fermi and Gabrielli head to Sicily to visit Jose and Henrietta on holiday. They know where they are because Triela told them and also to learn better about the Handler and cyborg girls’ relationship. Jose has Henrietta cook dinner but since he hints it won’t taste tasty, Gabrielli supervises her. They have to buy ingredients so they go out shopping. Along the way, a snatch thief snatches Henrietta’s bag. She chases after him and when she catches up, grabs him by the neck. Gabrielli uses her police authority to stop what is happening. She lets the thief go if he returns the handbag otherwise she can arrest him as he reeks of marijuana. The handbag is important to Henrietta as Jose bought a camera for her. Meanwhile the guys talk things out. Jose explains about the conditioning of the girls and how Handlers are free to condition however they want as long as they get the job done. Though he doesn’t condition Henrietta much nor forces her to love him. Either way, Fermi finds it disgusting to have a partnership like that because even if it doesn’t look like much doesn’t make it acceptable. Jose agrees. Fermi is also suspicious that everything sounds too convenient. When Elsa and Lauro were found murdered, suddenly they knew who did it. As Jose explains about the cyborgs’ enhanced abilities, Fermi didn’t like how he was trying to paint the girls protected their master. It may be the truth but it isn’t right. In the end, these girls are just normal teens. Is Jose saying he would be okay if Henrietta dies for him? When Gabrielli tries to tell how Henrietta should act like a girl, she starts crying. Jose was trying to do the same to her. She knows she is strong enough to kill people. As a cyborg, she cannot be useful to Jose as a normal girl. She knows how Elsa died and has the rest gathered. First she asks if Elsa loved Lauro. Definitely. Did Lauro love her back? Not really. He was too busy focusing on work. Imagine having an unrequited love. It was too much to bear for Elsa after realizing he would never feel the same way. She shot him in the back before turning the gun on herself. Henrietta even demonstrates this! Jose and Fermi rush to grab her gun. Phew. What a scare. She assures she will never do this because he is so nice to her. Later Fermi says he won’t tell this to his boss because by now Section 2 must have destroyed all evidence. Flashback shows Elsa did that because Lauro didn’t remember named her here at this park. He didn’t really care about it.

Episode 12
Angelica sprains her ankle during training. The higher ups don’t really like since after Elsa’s incident and now this. Since they have been producing results, they are allowed to continue for now but can’t keep covering for Section 2 forever. Jean briefs the team of their next mission. RF plans to abduct Caterina Sanctis, the daughter of a powerful senator. It is suggested to use one of the cyborg girls as decoy in her place. This will lead them to their hideout and they will wipe them all out. It is risky but they need results. It is suggested Claes will be the decoy. The plan goes well as Claes is abducted and the terrorists have not figured out who she is as a ransom note to the senator is made shortly. Claes is calm and reading her book while being watched over. Franca talks to her and because of her mature answer, Franca hopes she can teach these idiots a lesson. One, she believes these blokes are planning not to let Claes leave because they are letting her see all their faces. The agency has tracked Claes being held in the mountains. They make their haste and preparations stealthily and give the terrorists the element of surprise by gunning all of them down! Claes isn’t going to be a damsel in distress. She overwhelms her watcher and then takes out the electricity. Angelica defied orders and runs to rescue Claes. At this point she isn’t in her room. A terrorist catches her. Although luckily Claes returned and killed the terrorist, the stray bullet injured Angelica. As she is stretchered away, Marco scolds her for being reckless. Angelica recovers and the girls wish her well. But she doesn’t look happy. Suddenly out of character she bursts that they’re all going to die without knowing the truth. If Marco is going to treat her coldly, she might as well die now. Claes slaps her. If she wants to die, then go ahead. She shouldn’t have saved her then.

Episode 13
What Angelica said still bothers Henrietta. Marco apparently overheard that so now he is on a personal mission to find Angelica’s old dog? On Jose’s advice, Henrietta pays Angelica another visit. It seems Angelica is reminiscing about Pedro, her old dog. Angelica might be losing her memories because shortly she says she didn’t realize Henrietta was here. And subsequently when Claes visits to apologize, Angelica doesn’t recognize who visited before her. Henrietta confronts Marco that Angelica is talking about Pedro. Can we help find it? Marco says don’t bother. He doesn’t know where her old dog is. Henrietta hopes Marco could go see Angelica even if he can’t do anything for her now. Just be with her. He then asks if she is afraid of dying. No. Not afraid fighting and dying for Jose. Does she resent being given a mechanical body, a gun and a short lifespan? If he pities them for that, he is mistaken. This may be conditioning but she is fine with it. Even so, she is still fine with it and believes Angelica feels the same way. While the girls go watch the meteor shower that night, Marco pays Angelica a visit. She is happy to see him. She wants him to read that pasta story and amidst Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Angelica closes her eyes and sleeps… Forever? :’(.

Il Teatrino

Episode 1
A demonstration in Rome turns ugly and violent. Section 2 is monitoring the situation and predicts the Republicans may use this as an opportunity. The Fratello are sent in to observe. An explosion occurs near Jose and Henrietta. He is just slightly injured but no biggie. They notice one of the police officers backing out and running away into a van. They give chase by borrowing Priscilla’s Vespa. Too bad she won’t get it back in one piece… The van is guided into a small alley whereby the Fratello ambush them. Some are killed on the spot while some are injured and taken into custody. Back in the agency, Henrietta visits Jose’s room but he isn’t in. Creepily she starts hugging and smelling his shirt while lying on his bed. Then she sits in his chair. What is she? Goldilocks? Then she opens a present he supposedly bought for her from France on his table. It is a golden kaleidoscope but underneath it states it is for the person he loves the most, Louise Antoinette Rolle. Must be his girlfriend. Don’t feel too good now, eh? Henrietta tells Triela and Claes about it. Claes explains that person must be dead over a century ago. That name belongs to a French writer’s lover in which he based one of his stories on her. The name of that character was Henrietta. Thus the present is for her. Relieved Henrietta goes back to Jose’s room to apologise but he isn’t mad about somebody leaving a mess in his room and takes her to see the stars. Later it is revealed Claes lied about this story. She made it up because the kaleidoscope wasn’t invented then. That present is most probably fake too.

Episode 2
When Pinocchio was a young boy, he was tasked in assassinating someone. After a bit of a struggle he kills him but his daughter witnessed it. Hesitating initially, Pinocchio eventually kills her. Now all grown up, he continues his assassination ways. He meets up with his uncle, Cristiano who wants to send him to Montalcino to work with a few people in a new big mission. Later Cristiano talks to a few other guys to plan halting the construction of the Strait of Messina Bridge. Cristiano is drawing up plans to bomb it and will have Franca and Franco part of it. Franca and Franco meet up with Pinocchio. Franco knows his specialty is knives but still doesn’t trust him. He wants to test him as he pulls out a gun. Pinocchio is confident he can still take him down at this distance and use Franco’s old leg wound to his advantage. Still want to test him out? Pinocchio goes out shopping to make dinner. Aurora is a girl who is always following him and wants to help him out with whatever chores. This time Pinocchio tells her to stop following her around because she is annoying. Nothing good will come if she hangs around him because he is a naughty kid like Pinocchio. Franca tells Pinocchio about the job of blowing the bridge. As it is still under construction, there are only the pillar bases. If an amateur tries to blow it up, it wouldn’t take down a structure this size. Also, leaving jobs to other people will often get unnecessary people involved. Apparently Franca doesn’t consider herself like other terrorists. She only approves of necessary murder otherwise she is just an outlaw. Pinocchio feels sorry that her gentle ways in choosing who to kill will only be a hindrance. Just as Cristiano is everything to Pinocchio because he raised him, Franca is someone who gave Franco a goal. Good news we see Angelica alive and well recovering. But she still feels awkward with Marco. They will be heading to Milan for an operation soon.

Episode 3
Hilshire and Triela are tasked to head to Montalcino to look for a missing public safety member, Cohen who was on a mission looking for Pinocchio. They bribe the receptionist to book the same room Cohen stayed. They look around for clues as Triela spots a Pinocchio storybook in his suitcase and reads it. Aurora is outside Pinocchio’s place but nobody is in. Triela talks to her and learns indeed Pinocchio is renting this place. She drops a microphone in her basket. Triela returns to Hilshire and continue their stakeout across the place. Aurora lets herself into Pinocchio’s place. Nobody is in. She sees and picks up a gun on the table. Franca thinks she is one of those government’s assassins and tells her to drop it. She becomes scared as Franco disarms her. Aurora pleads to Pinocchio for help but he ties her up. Hilshire wants Triela to get ready and break in instead of waiting for back up and despite not knowing how many enemies are inside. Pinocchio is going to kill Aurora since she knows their identity. Franca disallows it. When Triela comes busting in, the guys split up to give her multiple targets. Eventually she and Pinocchio had a fist fight. He is faster than her and knocks her out! Pinocchio wanted to shoot Triela with her own gun but his past trauma prevented him so. Hilshire confronts Franca but she too gives him the slip. The trio ultimately slip away in their Alfa Romeo. Pinocchio realizes he dropped his pendant from Cristiano during the scuffle. Triela is awakened by Hilshire. Though he views everything as fine (Aurora is safe and they got away with minimal injuries – but Cohen’s body was found in the wine cellar), Triela is not happy that as a cyborg lost barehanded! She lost her cool. Hilshire sees the pendant and picks it up. Franca tells Pinocchio to forget about the pendant. No matter how memorable an item is, it can never replace the real thing. What is important is in the heart.

Episode 4
Bruno might look like a good husband and father but his job is disposing bodies of those killed under Cristiano’s orders. Since Marco and Angela will be on Pinocchio’s case, he drops by his old police department to meet an old friend to get some info. His hands are tied but he’ll try. Since Priscilla and Olga are here to watch over them, Marco might as well has them help him out. Marco wants Angelica to give her gun case to Priscilla and doesn’t want her to go into action. Because Marco is busting some punks’ ass in the alley for more information. Bruno sees Cristiano as they discuss about the government who has been illegally arresting them and then trying to pass a law to make their actions legal. At this rate, Italy will turn into a warzone. Cristiano hopes Bruno can meet with Pinocchio after his vacation. Marco continues his busting, this time taking down a few guys in a hideout. Angelica is acting strange. She grabs Priscilla’s wrist to the point she crushes it! It took Marco to snap her out of it. He realizes she needs her medicine. After he feeds her, he can’t understand why she is acting so as she has been taking the prescribed medication as instructed by the doctor. Priscilla hopes Marco won’t tell this to Jean because she thinks he’ll put Angelica back in hospital again. Later Olga tells Marco about Angelica’s strange behaviour. She believes he didn’t show her enough love. This is her first time in a while she is on a job so please show some consideration. The agency go into action to corner and take out Bruno. Luckily his car is bulletproof. For some dumb or desperate reason, his assistant winds down the window to fire back and gets shot. Could have stayed safe inside. Bruno crashes the car. The airbag saves him but he is unconscious. Rico is supposed to kill him but is interrupted by Angelica who happily tells her how Marco praised her for doing her best. Huh? The jobs not over, right?

Episode 5
Flashback shows after Marco got injured, he was discharged from the police force. His then girlfriend Patricia was very concerned although he seems optimistic about his new posting at the agency. She would have preferred the gentle him when he was on the force but he wanted to see how far he can go. Now, if it seems awkward that a dumb assassin tries to go up close and assassinate a politician and then got taken down himself, it is all just a plot set up to rile up and flush our those terrorist with some fake news. One month after the Milan incident, Angelica is still clumsy undergoing training. Marco still isn’t as kind as before since he believes the Angelica he knew was gone forever. Triela continues to fret about her loss to Pinocchio. Hilshire buys her a new gun till she can get her old one back. Patricia meets up with a reporter, Leonardo Conti. He tells her about the agency is actually an intelligence agency run by the government and that Marco is part of it. Patricia knows that. Not because Marco told her as she can tell since he always had to work hard every day for special operations. Thus it was probably that broke them up. Though, Patricia blames herself for hurting him. However Patricia doesn’t know the agency is using child assassins. Leonardo suggests teaming up to uncover the truth. They go round interviewing various people but it feels like their answers are all premeditated and the same. Leonardo is seen making a call to some guy about some kidnapping stint to draw a certain party’s attention. Leonardo and Patricia bust into supposedly a hideout of the agency. The place is empty. Leonardo is ambushed by Marco who is shocked to realize Leonardo knows a lot about him. Even more shock when he sees Patricia with him (so is she). He tells her to get away from him as he is part of the terrorist group. Leonardo then takes Patricia hostage and says he was just using her. Leonardo mocks Marco for conspiring with the government to commit crimes to the point of dumping his girlfriend. At a deadlock, Angelica busts in to take him down. Patricia wants answers but all Marco can tell her is to stay out of this. It’s not like he ended up this way because he wanted to.

Episode 6
Franca, Franco and Pinocchio take refuge at Franca’s winery currently being looked after by an old couple. Franca calls Cristiano to update about their situation. He tells her they are going to go ahead with the kidnapping job of Isabella D’Angelo who is the chairwoman for the Messina bridge project. He wants her to contact Nino Feretti since they know each other. Henrietta puts up a violin play for Isabella. She is amazed despite being a cyborg, she is still human-like. However she cannot accept that she is used to do the government’s dirty work. She is explained that the cybernetics technology used on her will help save many lives in the future and perhaps find a way to cure Isabella who is paralyzed from waist down. Rico was a bit rough on the kaleidoscope and a part breaks. This makes Henrietta mad. Jose takes it to repair in hopes the girls will reconcile. The repairman is no other than Nino. He assures he can fix it in 3 days. Jose tells Isabella that her life is being targeted. He sounds harsh telling her to turn her eyes away if she doesn’t want to see dirty things (the girls were preparing their guns before her). Isabella thought Jose is a scary person since he lost a loved one. Henrietta disagrees and calls him the kindest person ever because he sent her kaleidoscope to be fixed. Asking if Isabella hates terrorists. She once did a long time ago. Now she has lost her conviction. She thought of following her late husband’s will to complete the bridge but now isn’t sure if it is worth the blood it has shed. Jose and Rico apprehend Isabella’s bodyguard who is a sleeper terrorist. They will use him in a sting operation.

Nino is met by Franca. She wants his help to make bombs for the bridge despite hearing rumours he has quit. However he isn’t interested. Not even avenging his brother. Franca gives her contacts in case he changes his mind. When Nino and Leone are scouting Isabella’s movements, Nino recognizes Henrietta coming out. After receiving word that some of their men got arrested, Nino knows the risks are too high and wants them to pull out of this operation. Some of their men are disgruntled. Leone explains he knew Nino from university days. Along with his brother they used to make bombs and blow up anything but one day his brother got killed by the police and Nino became a coward ever since. They decide to go ahead with the operation without him. They thought they could kidnap an old paralyzed woman but Henrietta and the agency gun them all down! Franca meets Nino at the train station. He is leaving. She doesn’t like it but he believes she’ll understand one day. He asks her what she is fighting against. When will she be satisfied? Even if she has avenged her father, who must she kill until she has reached her goal? Better to consider this now while she has the time before she turns into an old dog like him who has lost the ability to run. Henrietta is happy the kaleidoscope is fixed but is told Nino has already quit.

Episode 7
Flashback shows Franca (whose real name is Caterina) was in the same university as Patricia but she decided to drop out to sue to country to free her father. She was also the one who hooked up Patricia with Marco. Her father was wrongfully imprisoned for crimes he did not commit and he died in prison. Instead of searching for the truth, she decided to go for revenge. She then went to find Franco (as told by her uncle Angelo Marinov) to learn making bombs but Franco was in depression since his grandpa who taught him how to make bombs just passed away. She was adamant to be his disciple despite he told her to be a nun if she wanted to change the world (and she slapped him). Franco then introduced Franca to Nino and his brother. It is then he gave her this Franca nickname. In present time, Franca is spotted by some agents. They recognize her as a wanted terrorist. So they stage a car breakdown and pregnant woman going in labour act to get her to stop. She is sharp enough to fight back but is overwhelmed. She is taken to their hideout where one of them beats the crap out of her. It is his revenge because one of her bombs gravely injured his pregnant wife who still has shrapnel inside her tummy and lost a few body parts. She tells him everyone carries their own grudge. Don’t think he is special because of his own issues. More beat down. Franco realizes the tracker on Franca has stopped for a while. Time to go save her. So they barge into the hideout with Pinocchio slicing his enemies and Franco giving ‘special treatment’ to Franca’s basher by pumping lots of lead into his body. Subsequently the authorities have to clean up this mess. A bomb trap was placed underneath one of the bodies. Had not Henrietta reacted swiftly, a lot would have died. Though, some agents and Triela got injured. Pinocchio is glad Cristiano is here but soon becomes sad since he wants to see Franca. Even more frowning when Cristiano learns he hesitated to kill on a recent job. That means an assassin is already at the end of his job. However Cristiano puts back some smiles when he commends him for saving Franca.

Episode 8
Because Claes don’t get much screen time, this episode is dedicated to see her daily life. She wakes up crying after dreaming about her times with Raballo. She has been reading books about minerals so she is somewhat quite interested with some meteorite stone. Not sure if the girls have to buy their own food because at the cafeteria, Beatrice is looking hungry. Claes could offer her food but she’ll make her work for it. And that’s helping with her garden. Then she goes for her usual lab experiment. Because she has also read about Scarborough Fair, she ponders its lyrics’ meaning. Be prepared to be spammed hearing this song throughout this episode. Not a bad thing, though. Heck, Claes even plays this on the piano. Then Jean takes her to watch some nature documentary. She asks if one cannot cry even when sad. That’s how she is feeling now. She can’t cry watching this show but yet she shed tears while sleeping without knowing it. Claes then visits the shooting range and watch some practice there. Then she goes join Priscilla and Angelica on the former’s Vespa. I guess they’re small enough to fit all 3 of them. At night, Claes draws a painting as she ponders more about Scarborough Fair’s lyrics. Next day, she continues her gardening. She finds an odd mineral in the soil. Beatrice doesn’t understand why Claes finds doing this fun. She doesn’t even understand the concept of fun. She feels nothing. So how can Claes feel fun? She believes someone taught her a long time ago.

Episode 9
Many years ago when Jose was going to leave to join the military police, his younger sister, Enrica didn’t want to be left alone. Although their parents and Jean will be around, she didn’t really like them because they were always too busy about work and never cared for her. She too wanted to join the military police to be with him but he told her it is better she became a harpist. Jose goes to see an old friend from the military police, Marcantonio. They talk about the old days like how Jose and Jean quit over some incident and the broadcast went crazy about it. A car bomb outside rocks the place but aside from the initial shock, everything else is okay. Jean and Rico then track and hunt down the bomber. They force him to bring them to his hideout where they discover high grade military bombs. Somebody must be smuggling them out. Because he won’t talk further. Jean gives Rico permission to beat the crap out of him till he talks! Jean learns from his superior that Colonel Ganny, commander of the Morize commissariat might be smuggling those bombs out. It isn’t mere coincidence the terrorists are very well equipped recently. If only there is proof of that, the agency will mark him for assassination. Jose talks to Bianchi about all he ever does for Henrietta is talk about myths and stars. Presents he gave are out of obligation. It feels empty. Bianchi doesn’t think it is a bad thing since that child needs to be loved. It reminds Jose of Enrica’s case of loneliness. The agency set traps to ambush a military truck suspected of smuggling. When they fail to surrender as warned, they go all out and shoot back. Man, the girls really riddled the truck with holes! Overkill! Jose is shocked and sickened to see the driver is Marcantonio. Later it is discovered that Marcantonio has been smuggling weapons from Ganny. They now have permission to assassinate him. So what it looked like Jose and Jean being good Handlers dressing up their girls so they can enjoy the opera, they are actually on the job to assassinate Ganny and his subordinate who are also watching the opera which is also about revenge and murder. Italians love tragedies, they say? The mission is successful. Too bad the girls didn’t get to see much of the opera, though.

Episode 10
Flashback shows Victor Hartmann (Hilshire’s real name) wanted to do field work in Europol as he wanted to stop child trafficking. However his boss refused him and showed him a snuff movie. Movies that murder people for entertainment. While many are fake, some are real and it involved kidnapped children. He became disillusioned at how evil the world is. Similarly, Rachelle Belleut a doctor who is sick of seeing children corpses teamed up with Hartmann to take matters into their own hands. Triela isn’t pleased that she needs to babysit Mario’s daughter, Mimi. Seems she wants to do more training and her loss to Pinocchio has hit her hard. Eventually she can’t disobey orders and with other agents, they watch over her (it’s like she’s under house arrest) while Mario gives his testimony at a trial in Naples. Triela and Mimi get acquainted with the latter asking if she likes Hilshire. Shock at first, Triela dismisses of anything like that since they can’t have such a relationship. Hilshire visits Mario. The trial is going well and is expected to end without a hitch. When it ends, Mario plans to escape overseas. More flashback when Hartmann and Rachelle stormed into an Amsterdam trafficking. In a gunfight, Rachelle was seriously wounded. They stumbled upon a child victim, Triela. It made Hartmann sick but Rachelle refused to give up and did CPR on her. When Triela revived, Rachelle died. It’s like they transferred life force? Triela is in a training with some army commando who is Hilshire’s acquaintance. Because she is still bitter about her loss to Pinocchio, she can’t concentrate and gets easily beaten up. He promises to turn her into an unbeatable warrior in 2 weeks. Triela then undergoes her usual maintenance but this time will receive a new leg implant. It is 100% effective thanks to the experiments done on Claes. During the operation, Triela is seen to shed tears. When she wakes up, she tells how she dreamt of her mom. The way she describes her seems so much like Rachelle.

Episode 11
When Cristiano was still a hitman, he and his best henchman, John wiped out an entire family perfectly as ordered. Cristiano stumbled upon a hidden cellar in which a child was locked up there. He decided to adopt him. It has been a few months and Pinocchio has gotten used to being a grape farmer. If life was only this peaceful till the end. Pinocchio talks to Franco about getting used to this life because it dulls his skills. He then goes on to explain his story how John was his teacher and taught him assassination techniques. He loves drinking and was believed to be an ex-CIA operative. However one day he just suddenly died from a stray bullet. Pinocchio views Franca and Franco as good people and it would be a waste if they died like John. Franca gets a call from her uncle to update her that Cristiano has lost his position. Thanks to the halt in supply of bombs and the failed kidnapping, the higher ups wanted somebody to take the fall. He advises her if she still wants to continue what she is doing, cut ties with him. Talking to Franco, he knows they could be at a disadvantage if Cristiano goes missing because the Milan group will then cooperate with the government to hunt him down. But there is a way to reinstate Cristiano’s position. They need to blow up the bridge as soon as possible. Although it is still at an early stage, with the stock they have, it is enough to do some damage. Information gets leaked to the agency about Cristiano and the Fratello is mobilized. Franca and the men drive to the bridge. It is heavily guarded and the Fratello teams are there. Flashback shows Cristiano didn’t like the idea John taught him assassination skills. John thought he had a natural talent for it. He did it on a whim and Cristiano can’t be one to say since he adopted him on a whim too.

Episode 12
Henrietta spots something off at the base of the bridge. Franca and Franco are boring holes and planting their bomb supplies. She shoots at them but Pinocchio attacks her. He sticks a knife in her shoulder. Nothing happens. Though, I suppose she can’t shoot straight at him since he escapes with Franca and Franco via boat. Franco gets shot in the shoulder. Then he activates the bomb. It didn’t do any damage to the bridge although it gave out quite a lot of smoke. On the way back to the vineyard, Pinocchio apologizes to Franco for hesitating to shoot. He explains when he first killed, there was a girl who looked like Henrietta. He killed her. It made him scared to point a gun at a girl. They decide to tell him about Cristiano’s case so the early next morning, Pinocchio leaves for his uncle. Triela visits the house where she fought Pinocchio and lost. Why do this to yourself if you’re only going to have bitter memories? Cristiano is surprised Pinocchio is here. He heard Cristiano will be arrested by the police and wants him to leave. But Cristiano doesn’t intend to and wants Pinocchio to escape. Pinocchio is willing to fight here and die for him. He owes his life to him for saving him from that cellar and gave him a name. Since Cristiano remains stubborn, Pinocchio threatens to kill everyone here! WTF?! The Fratello begin their operation to take in Cristiano and kill everyone else. They barge into the place and gun down everyone. No chance to even let them fight back! Triela gets her rematch with Pinocchio when they come face to face.

Episode 13
As their fight gets underway, when Pinocchio hears Triela telling Hilshire to go find Cristiano, he ditches the fight to find his uncle. He finds his uncle and is appalled he still hasn’t left. Cristiano tells him that he has decided. He will hide for a while so Pinocchio should escape too. The mind boggling thing was why didn’t they go together? Because of that, Pinocchio returns to his fight with Triela and Cristiano tries to get away with his butler but he was killed by Rico. Rico shoots at his shoulder before taking him away into their car. As she is loading him, she is run over by another car! Not sure if this is a joke if women are terrible drivers with Franca behind the wheel. After they load Cristiano, they make a dash for it. This is where it gets super silly. Jean informs Marco the target is heading their way. So Marco has Angelica snipe them. She got a few bullets into Franca (although not her vitals) but Franca steps on the pedal and I don’t even know how the car ‘flew’ over them!!! Was there a ramp somewhere???!!! And they lose them???!!! Franca is fast passing out. You can’t take that corner at high speed. Off the rails. Off the cliff. Into the river. We return to the bloody and desperate dogfight between Triela and Pinocchio whereby anything now goes. He gets madder when he sees his pendant in her possession. He shoots her a few times with her own gun but she survives. But it’s her turn to be mad because of that. Is she going to lose again? In the end, they knock each other out. Or so it seems from this point of view. In the aftermath, Rico reports they ‘failed’ the mission. Cristiano’s mansion is searched all over but no evidence was found. They believed he deleted all and anticipated them to raid. Also, the car in the river, no bodies were found. Rico and Triela are heavily injured but not fatal. Triela sits next to Pinocchio’s dead body. She stabbed his heart with a broken knife. She finds comfort in Hilshire’s arms and hopes he would praise her for win. At what cost? The other girls also get their ‘praise’ from their Handlers.

Jean visits the grave of Sophia. He sees Fernando there but the latter isn’t happy Jean is here. He blames Jean for Sophia’s death in the sense that he didn’t avenge her. Jean apologizes but Fernando punches him. Jean notices his political affiliation with the opposition and warns him not to get involved. Fernando won’t listen. So what does Jean have anything to do with them? Jean was supposed to marry Sophia. After Fernando left, Jean calls Jose that he is acting strange and to tail him. Business as usual. This leads them to discover Fernando is trying to ambush a place that a terrorist is hiding out on his own. Luckily Marco busts him before the rest storm in to apprehend the terrorist for more details. Rico wakes up from a nightmare where Jean abandoned her when she became useless. Jean takes Rico to Venice for their next mission. He explains about the Republicans originally wanted to divide Italy into 5 parts: Milan in the North, Rome, Naples, Sardinia and Sicily. With the Milan faction trying to unite all north, there is a breakaway faction, the Venetian faction who wishes for autonomy. Arriving at Milan, they meet Alto Meyer who helps them out with some information. Night falls and they begin their mission. Rico does her usual, storming into some baddies’ place and killing all of them. They obtained easy data from their laptop about the organization. Seeing how calm they are and the bloody mess everywhere, Meyer is sick to his gut they can act normal after all this. Next day, Jean and Rico continue chasing and gunning down more terrorists. When Rico seems to get hit, she falls into the sea. Jean instantly dives into rescue her. During evening, Rico loves how beautiful the sunset is but for Jean, it always makes him sad.

Hilshire accompanies Henrietta and Rico on their vacation. They pass the Messina Bridge which is on schedule to be completed. Meanwhile Triela is depressed? After defeating Pinocchio, what else is left of her existence? Or maybe she didn’t get to be with Hilshire this time. Henrietta and Rico return to their respective Handlers once the trip is over. Jose gives Henrietta a nice dress to wear. When Jean sees it, he is in shock. Let me guess. It belongs to Enrica, right? Flashback shows Jean was about to leave for Rome for training but Enrica didn’t want him to go because of the promise they along with Jose to go on a boat ride. Too bad his training is more important than sister time. Then it gets creepy because while Jean is reminiscing about his past, the ghost of Enrica haunts him! OMG! Is this turning supernatural now?! I want to say Jean is seeing things but ghost girl did mention that she died. She blames Jean for being the bad brother while comparing to angelic Jose. Jean never thinks about her except avenging Sophia. However she now feels Jose is being cruel for giving her dress to another girl. She wonders if he has found someone to replace her. Jean ‘agrees’ because this is his way of always thinking of her. Had he not done that, he couldn’t have lived what would have transpired then. If she wants to hate somebody, hate him. Jean is snapped out when Rico calls him since she finds it odd he is like talking to somebody but nobody’s there. Next day, Jean tells Jose about that ghastly incident. Was it a ghost or a dream? He asks if Jose still remembers that boat promise. Of course. Jean hopes they could do it later with Henrietta and Rico. Can this be simply atoned like that?

Sending Girls To Do A Man’s Job
Oh dear… What a boring end to the series that started out as something interesting. Forgive me if you are going to hear a lot of comparison between both seasons because they are very different to each other in almost every aspect. So different that if you have watched the first season and have gotten somewhat used to its style, you will be in total shock to see the total change and revamp in Il Teatrino. Yes, very different. Although Il Teatrino didn’t match up to the first season, it still was passable. Barely. However the couple of OVAs really killed it. It was unnecessary and did nothing much to develop anything except bring forth more questions like what happened to Franca and Franco. Because if they have been simply killed off, that would have ended there as it is but now they are missing. So? Possible clash in the future. Too bad there aren’t any more seasons. And what is with this Enrica thingy in the end? It is not like it resolved anything. It’s like they had no more ideas for the OVAs and inserted something so random just to milk our moneys out of the BDs. But that’s not the point.

The first thing I will compare is the main story of both seasons. In the first season, we are mainly concentrated on the main girls of the Fratello. We see their past and flashback as well as how they currently cope with their current Handlers. Although the bulk is on Henrietta and Jose, the rest have their bit of fair share of screen time. Thus many of the episodes in between feel like standalone fillers and does not have a real proper plot. Come the second season, there now seems to be a ‘plot’. Although this ‘plot’ seems to be dragging out too long because if you think about it, it’s just mainly about the agency trying to track down Pinocchio’s team and preventing the bombing of a bridge. So much so this dragging out that they had to insert some fillers, detours and flashbacks halfway through the season before ending it all.

The next and perhaps the most shocking difference is the characters. One can obviously tell how ‘lively’ the girls are in Il Teatrino compared to the original. In the first season, the girls were like lifeless robots. Even if they show a bit of emotion or smile a little bit, it looked fake and sometimes forced. This is not a bad thing given the situation and setting of the story. It is a rather gloomy and grim world they are in after all. Then when Il Teatrino arrives, all of a sudden they are so lively! OMG! It’s like the doctors tweaked them to be livelier than ever. Take for instance Rico. I remember she was the taciturn sniper at first. But in the sequel, she is totally an active kid!!! WTF?! I noticed that when Henrietta or Rico answers or acknowledges their respective Handler, they have this boring and monotonous robotic tone to it. But now they have this lively feel in their voice like as though they are happy and looking forward to do their bidding!

Given that Henrietta had more focus in the first season, I suppose they try to give Triela a little more in Il Teatrino. Thus the reason why I felt why Triela had more presence in Il Teatrino due to her ‘grudge’ with Pinocchio than Henrietta especially towards the end since Henrietta was on ‘vacation’. Then it is Rico’s turn for the short OVAs albeit nothing really deep about her. I don’t know. It just feels so odd seeing the girls as cold killing machines during the mission but during off missions, they are like little sisters with brother complex trying to seek their Handler’s attention and blush each time they get praised or having something nice done to them (Henrietta and Angelica are the main offenders). Like as though everyone should have just retire and play house for the rest of their lives. You like little girls? Sure, pick one and ‘groom’ her the way you like. Spend more time with her. Treat her nice and good. She’ll love you back. Just mind a few cybernetic parts. If only reality was that easy.

Even their Handlers feel different. The most drastic one is Hilshire. I remember this dude as a taciturn guy who doesn’t show much of his emotions. But in Il Teatrino he is like more open and showing obvious concern for Triela. It’s really a big change. Even Jose who seems like he is ‘forcefully’ trying to be nice to Henrietta in the first season, in Il Teatrino he feels like her big brother! I think it is a bit annoying that in the second season whenever we get the chance to see Henrietta being treated nicely by Jose or something nice happens to them, you can see her nice little girl smile and relief like as though she’s a dog getting her reward. So while it seems more and more like Jose is genuinely getting used to treating Henrietta nice, it could hint that he might have been trying to use her as Enrica’s replacement. Either he has gotten over her or sees Enrica in Henrietta but calls her by a different name so as not to evoke whatever that painful incident. Like as though trying to make amends by spending time with the little sister that should have been. And Jean seems like a no nonsense guy with no emotions dedicated to his job. So they try to give him some guilt trip with Enrica just to show something. Something. Whatever that is. And since when did Marco sound more like a talkative young uncle?

The rest of the supporting casts don’t really matter because they’ll either be relegated to the background which is unimportant or if they are the bad guys, there is a high chance that they will be assassinated. Yeah, saves so much money and time compared to sending them to prison and awaiting trial because you have got to feed and house them and the likes. Whoops… Also, it saves brain power to think whatever happened to them. Unlike Franco and Franca… Just kill them off. Hence for the rest of the members at the agency, they aren’t really memorable. If so, perhaps for weird reasons like Priscilla who seems to be a lolicon (though not very obviously) and it is only okay because she is a woman. If she was a guy, imagine the backlash… Even a few other girls at the agency aren’t that memorable. I read there were a few that appeared in the manga but made only a small cameo in the anime. So like Beatrice, her brief introduction, a few missions here and there before being totally forgotten, I now only remember her as Claes’ garden lackey… Somebody should feed this girl enough. But really, lots of characters in this series do come and go. You hear them in one episode and then never to appear or be heard of again. Mostly getting killed off.

The most jarring and obvious difference that you will notice if you start watching Il Teatrino is the art style and visual. No doubt that both seasons are animated by different studios with the first season being animated by Madhouse (Death Note, One Punch Man, Black Lagoon) and the second by Artland (Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn, Senran Kagura, Mushishi). As we have gotten used to the first season’s style, Il Teatrino comes as a big shocker. The first season was so dull and gloomy in its colour that you could actually feel that the whole atmosphere was just dreary. It really fits the theme and mood of the series. Then comes Il Teatrino and it makes you go, “Why the heck is everything so much more colourful?!”. In fact, everything is so much brighter that it doesn’t reflect the grim assassination world that the girls live in. I have a hunch that it is supposed to match the ‘lively’ characters because had either one aspect be dull and the other be lively, it would be so contrasting that it would be confusing.

Heck, even the characters are looking a bit slightly different. They look so much more like your anime character. Okay, I might sound a bit confusing here but in the first season with the characters looking lacklustre and lifeless, suddenly they have this anime-like ‘life’ infused into their looks. Get what I mean? Okay, let me give you an example. Jose might not look like a typical Italian and a Japanese big brother in the first season, but in the second season, he looks even more like a Japanese big brother than ever. Get it? Okay, how about this. Henrietta looks more like an anime girl in Il Teatrino than in the first. Because the first season, the characters’ eyes are so lifeless and like zombies unlike in the second. Yes, the girls had those dead eyes and it really gives an impact when they respond even with emotions, they still feel lifeless. Though, I think the girls in the first season looks a bit ‘fat’. At least their faces. In conclusion, having such a lively and bright art style and colour doesn’t really suit and fit well to what it was already established. Besides, doesn’t the second season poor animation quality feel like it sucks?

Another major overhaul is the voice acting. In fact, the entire main and supporting casts are replaced in Il Teatrino. It is no wonder why the usual girls and their Handlers sound so off and different. And so much livelier. It really makes them out of their character from the ones we are used to from the first. I wanted to note how happy I was hearing Mamiko Noto’s voice as Elsa even if she was just cameo. And then… The horror… THEY KILLED OFF HER CHARACTER!!! OMFG!!! DID THIS ‘CURSE’ EVEN GO BACK AS FAR AS THIS ANIME???!!! WHAT THE F*CK IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE???!!! That was my true despair… Then like as though to make it up for my despair, they reinstated Mamiko Noto not as Elsa but as Patricia. They tried to troll me when they took her character as hostage because I really thought her Patricia character was going to die too. Phew… I believe Mamiko Noto is the only cast from the original season to be somewhat recalled for another role in the second. I forgive you for making such amends (even if it’s not intended).

The opening theme for the first season, The Light Before We Land by The Delgados is strange by itself. Totally sung in English, this slow rock has its overall pace remind me of The Beatles’ A Day In Life. The weird slow lazy-cum-dreamy voice the singer sings and drags her voice somewhat reminds me of John Lennon singing that song too. Even the way the electric guitar is played strikes a familiar chord. Even though this song is strange, at least it beats Il Teatrino’s opener, Tatta Hitotsu No Omoi by Kokia. Too much like anime pop that it doesn’t fit with the theme of the series. At least the first season’s ending theme, Dopo Il Sogno by Opus has this Italian soprano lady singing this dramatic and tragically- sounding piece. Not bad actually. Il Teatrino’s main ending theme, Doll by Lia is a slow ballad although I somehow feel this song is much suited for an anime produced by Key like Air, Kanon and Clannad. Seriously. There is also a version sung by Aoi Tada but they sound so close that I couldn’t hear the difference. She also sings a special ending theme, Scarborough Fair. The special ending for Il Teatrino’s final episode is also very Air-like too, Human by Lia.

The action bits are not the series’ strong point nor is it its main focus. What it does is just to complement and show us the gruesome things the girls have to put up. So expect lots of bullet holes and dead bodies to pile up. As I have mentioned in the poor animation style in Il Teatrino, hence some of the action scenes feel a bit cartoonish and poor quality. Thus the grimmer and darker first season has better looking gunfights that complement the overall mood.

Instead of sending in the army, they should just send these girls to do the job in taking out a dictator ruling his country with an iron fist or the drug cartel running their huge fields of marijuana. And if the world complains about them, I guess the girls can be sent to silence them either. No difference than being the villains themselves. So it goes to show how controversial the use of such young girls can be and how deadly it would be if they fall into the wrong hands.

Overall, the first season has set the pace and tone of the series and only for the second one to someone diminish and ruin the enjoyment. Not to say that Il Teatrino sucks but it sure could have done better than what has been seen. Like as though it downgraded itself and made it worse. Thanks a bunch, OVAs. But the thought of giving young girls a second chance in life but doing dirty jobs is something that will make you think hard if such life is worth living or they would be better off left for dead in the first place. Whatever your stance or standards, at least these girls have a chance in life no matter how small or minute it is. That is all that they need. Oh, and lots of love too. Because aside from all the cybernetic implants and enhancements, they still have the heart and soul of a human. And the irony is that it makes them more human than us who are completely of flesh and blood. Maybe it is that imperfection that makes us human.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017 EVERYONE! Ah, time really flies. Maybe I am getting old. Just like in previous years, I hope to watch more anime and hopefully they won’t suck as much. Yeah, maybe I should just change my taste and lower my standards, eh?

After the confusing I-don’t-know-what-this-season-is-all-about-or-heading-to sequel that left me more confused than ever, especially that kind of cliff-hanger ending that didn’t resolve anything but only raised more questions, I was sceptical if I should watch Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru Zoku OVA. Not too sure if I would understand what is going on if they decide to wrap and explain things up. The good news? This OVA isn’t all about that. It isn’t a continuation of where that ‘ending’ left off. I suppose that is good enough for me. So instead, this OVA is about Hikigaya ‘dating’ his girls. Oh yeah. That at least I can understand. I think.

Sugar, spice and everything nice… Thrice!
Woah! What?! Iroha meeting up with Hikigaya on a date?! What’s going on?! Yup, we’re as surprised as Hikigaya. Apparently yesterday she requested him to help out for a job. Since she put on her cutie smiley face, there is no way a guy like him can say no, right? So this ‘date’ is because Iroha believes Hayato is going to get busy so she would like to introduce some light casual fun. Is this just an excuse to date him? Oh wait. She makes Hikigaya say that this was his idea. So on their ‘date’, they first hit the movies but it seems they want to see different movies and Hikigaya is cool with that. Let’s watch what we want and meet back here once it finishes. I guess Iroha isn’t going to take that so change of plans. Playing ping pong? So Iroha is trying to make intimidating sounds during her smash but hits it all over the place. Trying to even cheat on the score? In the end, Hikigaya obviously wins but sly girl worms her way out that although she agreed for him to treat her if she won, he didn’t say anything about she treating him if he won. Loophole… Not that Hikigaya wants a girl to pay for him anyway. Next, Hikigaya takes her to a ramen store. I don’t know, she looks so disappointed. Hasn’t she eaten ramen before? She hates to admit it but it tastes good. Next, he takes her to a café for desserts. They see the student council vice president and secretary coming out together. She thinks they are dating and I’m not sure how Hikigaya’s comments made Iroha think he is trying to hit on her. Oh right. We got to have her usual annoying trademark on him. In the café, Iroha has Hikigaya take a group photo with her. He is getting quite conscious of how close his face is to hers. At the end of the day, Iroha’s criticism on just about everything landed him with zero points. But 10 points for being fun. I guess messing with him was it. I’m sure he finds her annoying at this point. However to show she isn’t a sly b*tch, she thanks him for today’s good reference.

Next day in the clubroom, Iroha thanks Hikigaya and the other girls are just giving that look. Iroha is here to request making a free newspaper by the student council. It will contain articles like places to hang out and restaurants with good food, etc. Thus yesterday’s ‘date’. She shows them the photos she took of the places they visited. But it’s that jealous look when they see the picture of Iroha and Hikigaya close together. Having fun, aren’t we? Not sure if Iroha was showing that on purpose as she now tries to give excuse on how he was trying to help out with the coverage. Since she claims it isn’t done yet, she wants them to help out too and take some pictures. Why looking at Hikigaya? I see. He must come too. So this time Mr Lucky Hikigaya gets to ‘date’ Yukino and Yui. They look through various clothing shops and there’s a lingerie store Hikigaya tries to avert his eyes but it’s like Yukino is keeping a close watch on him and matching his actions. Huh? Then he sees the inevitable of the push up bra on sale. So what? That’s pretty normal, right? Unless you see it with a girl… The rest of the outing feels quite normal. Iroha is satisfied with it. She wants to take a group photo of them. Hikigaya feels shy about it but relents. Yui’s nice smile, Yukino’s dumbfounded looks (?!) and Hikigaya’s typical sarcastic face. That makes a good photo? Hikigaya narrates he might not know how to define this club yet but it isn’t as bad as he thought it would be.

Date A Live Wire
Uhm… Okay, I guess… No, wait. ANNOYING! So I am thinking this OVA is a much needed excuse for Hikigaya to go on a ‘date’ with his ‘harem’ because screw everything else. Iroha is given more limelight because we just need to be annoyed by her sly ways. It is like trying to warn us guys that if you have this kind of girlfriend, DUMP HER IMMEDIATELY!!! Cute on the outside but devilish on the inside. In normal circumstances, normal guys don’t really want to put up with this annoyance so it is a sign to get out of the relationship or be trapped forever as her eternal punching bag-cum-slave. They didn’t really have to put Yui and Yukino’s ‘date’ in it because it somewhat felt forced. Like as though if they dedicated this entire OVA to Iroha, it would be unfair to the main duo. Besides, I don’t think we can stand it any much longer if their outing lasted the entire episode because as it is it already takes up more than half of the OVA. Yeah, I think it’s better to show some boring outing with the less radical ones than continue with an irritating foxy girl. Well, I figure that’s why some girls are sugar, spice and everything nice but at a price!

Time to get more analytical and critical comments from the point of view of a loner. Time for more ‘psychological lessons’ from a lone wolf’s point of view. That is why we needed another second season, right? Well, not too sure if I really needed another lesson from Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru Zoku but just in case I can find something related, maybe this will help. Since I am still a loner after all these years, might as well. I think. Though, I am not placing much confidence in learning a lot since the first season had lots of stuffs that I couldn’t understand albeit it was still amusing to listen and note what our main protagonist had to say and comment. So I hope this time around, things will be easier to my ears and I would pick up something or two.

Episode 1
School cultural festival. While the band is performing in the hall, there seems to be some bust up between Hikigaya and Hayato. The usual boringness at the Service Club. They talk about their upcoming school trip to Kyoto. Hayato then brings his friend, Kakeru Tobe. He wants to confess to Ebina without the risk of getting shot down. Hikigaya isn’t too confident about his prospects because he also experienced something similar before. They try to list down his good points. I guess they can’t. They then try to list down what Ebina thinks of him. This means calling her in person to find out. Like the true fujoshi she is, she wants to see Tobe and the other guys get down and dirty! The plan now is to create an atmosphere during the school trip for Tobe and Ebina to get together. During the trip, the duo are paired together during many sightseeing but nothing much happens. Hikigaya and Yui are paired together to keep an eye on their progress. Late that night back at the inn, Hikigaya and Yukino were talking when Hiratsuka brings them along out of the inn so she could go buy some liquor. They could get into trouble if somebody finds out. So they just need not to let anybody find out, right? I don’t know why but after she reaches her destination, they drop off and she lets them walk back together.

Episode 2
Before Hikigaya left on his trip, Komachi had a list of things for him to buy. She’s really looking forward to it. The second day of the trip, the same usual routine. Then at the magazine store, Yumiko hints that she knows Hikigaya is trying to do pull off something with Ebina. Whatever it is, she doesn’t like it. Because it is going to change things as it is now and she likes the way things are now. Later, even Hayato confronts Hikigaya about this. He likes things to be status quo. Because if this gets messed up, once you lose something, it’s gone forever. The bamboo pathway will be the perfect place for Tobe to confess. He is nervous as he waits for Ebina while the rest of his friends hide and watch from afar. Then Ebina arrives. Hikigaya who has deduced that this confession is doomed to fail from the start puts forth his plan. As Tobe fumbles in his words, Hikigaya quickly goes up to him and usurps his sentence. Hikigaya claims he has liked Ebina for a long time and wants to go out with her. Ebina then shoots him down and says she is not interested to be in any relationship now. Although it did save Tobe some face, he still won’t give up on her. Besides, she did say she isn’t interested now. Who knows in the future? Despite the friendship between the friends remain status quo, Yukino is not very happy with Hikigaya’s method. Perhaps Yui too. She’s crying how he could be so smart but yet couldn’t spare a thought for how someone else feels. Later when Hikigaya talks to Ebina, he knew that when Ebina talked to them at the Service Club, she wanted to prevent Tobe’s confession. She must have talked to Hayato too or else why would he be acting so strange. Ebina adds that she likes the way things are now. If she were to date someone, it won’t work out because she’s rotten to the core. That’s why she hates herself. But it might work out if it’s with him. He cheekily replies he might fall for her in that case. Hikigaya narrates about people having things they hold dear and do not want to lose. That is why they lie. But the biggest liar of them all is himself.

Episode 3
Komachi can tell something has happened. Hikigaya brushes it off. She continues to bug him. He tells her off. Fine. Back at the Service Club, the strain between Hikigaya and Yukino can be seen. Hiratsuka then brings in Meguri. Seems her friend, Iroha Isshiki has been nominated to run for student council president although it was meant as a prank. Now that it is official, she doesn’t want that. So why not just lose? She can’t. She is the only candidate so far. The only hope is for a vote of no confidence, something she also doesn’t want because it’s embarrassing to lose that way. Hikigaya thinks of somebody writing a bad speech for her. The question is who is going to write it for her but even so, don’t you think it will also affect her in addition to the speech writer? Yukino does not favour this idea. Since it cannot be solved today, Hiratsuka calls it a day and the find the solution another time. Yukino then wants Hiratsuka’s evaluation of who is leading (remember, the purpose the ‘trio’ joined this club was so that the winner could have the loser do something). It’s a tough call. Hikigaya is a step ahead with his results. Yukino is best for her long term vision. Yui has made some contributions too. In short, it’s a draw. No clear cut leader. In that case, Yukino believes they don’t have to use the same methods. She thought Hikigaya was like her, they hated superficial things above anything else. At the café, Hikigaya bumps into Haruno. Or rather, he forces him to accompany her. Then Hikigaya’s old female classmates happen to see them. One of them was the one Hikigaya tried confessing to and failed, Kaori Orimoto. I guess he is forever in that friend zone thingy since she coolly brushes it off that was all in the past now. Haruno then calls Hayato to come by to entertain the girls. Because it’s fun. I don’t even… Next day when Hikigaya arrives in the clubroom, the girls are already mapping out their plan with Iroha. But Hikigaya interjects that what they’re doing is only making things worse because it makes the candidate like a puppet. The difference in methodology has him clash with Yukino again. The tension got bad enough that he just got up and leave.

Episode 4
Haruno is like God. She calls Hikigaya and knows about his spat with Komachi and even about the invitation he turned down from Hayato when Kaori and her friend invited him to hang out with them. And like the God she is, she forces Hikigaya to turn up for that invitation. So they watch a movie, go shopping, bump into some classmates, all the while you noticed those girls are having fun teasing Hikigaya, right? And then at the café, Yui and Yukino pop up. Hayato called them. He is tired of them running their mouths over Hikigaya because this guy is more than they think. They shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The girls just get up and leave. Bye. Yukino mentions they were called here to discuss about Hayato running for president. Haruno who has been spying (and probably loving it) then makes her presence known. Seems there is some sort of high level tension between the sisters despite all the politeness, you can just feel they hate each other. Something about Haruno mocking Yukino that she doesn’t need to do anything and get her hands dirty. Others will do it for her. When all the ladies are gone, Hayato tells Hikigaya why he is doing this. To fix something he broke. Something about pinning his hopes on him and the need for Hikigaya to realize his own worth. He needs to stop sacrificing himself. Hikigaya disagrees with all that and doesn’t need his pity or force his ideals on him. He is not like him. He is always alone by himself. Next day, Hikigaya learns from Hikigaya that Yukino is running from president. She hasn’t told anybody yet because she wants to know what Hikigaya will do. When he confronts Yukino about it, she claims she is doing it not because of what Haruno said and on her own volition. Because she has so much free time in this club and she is familiar with the student council duties. Because their ideals clash again, Yukino warns him about overestimating and thinking too much of himself. Later Yui talks to Hikigaya that she too is running for president. Despite she believes Yukino will be the best student council president and improve the school, but it will be at the cost of the club that she has come to love so much. Sure it’s only the club? So by becoming president, she can do things half heartedly as nobody has expectations of her.

Episode 5
Hikigaya and Komachi can’t stay mad forever. So when he needs her for advice and she is all big smiles, they patch up after each apologizes to the other. Even Zaimokuza is so willing to hear Hikigaya out (after all that bugging). Komachi even brings Saki and Saika as ‘reinforcements’. They don’t like the idea of Yukino and Yui fighting each other especially Komachi who would love for them to remain at the club. Even if Hikigaya has got a job, Komachi makes him think if Iroha is more important than those girls. Hikigaya thinks about Iroha wanting to maintain her image and that his approach was wrong. The only way is to renegotiate with Iroha. Hikigaya and Zaimokuza did some sneaky preparations first like creating a fake campaign website to drum up the number support for Iroha. Of course it would be deleted once it is all over but so as long as nobody discovers this entire lie, it won’t be a problem. Next, Hikigaya talks to Iroha and asks her opinion on Hayato. He explains that those who nominated her won’t even vote for her and would be laughing hard when she loses. Doesn’t she feel the need to get back at them by winning? He shows her the list that he was making her copying. The list that contains names that support her. That’s quite a lot of names there. As Iroha still isn’t convinced she’ll do a good job despite the sweet perks as mentioned by him, what sealed the deal is that she is able to ask Hayato for advice or even order him around. With Iroha’s case solve, Yukino and Yui are still being stubborn to run. So he shows them the list and mentions about the campaign account. With that, they have no more reason to act. After Yukino goes off to inform Hiratsuka, Yui thanks Hikigaya for working hard although he as usual denies it. Iroha eventually becomes student council president. Hikigaya gives her motivation to do a good job since Komachi will be enrolling here next year. Iroha takes it as his creepy way of trying to hit on her.

Episode 6
Things return to normal. Their routine returns to normal. But it feels forced. Like as though they’re putting in a lot of effort just to keep up with it. Then Iroha comes in with a problem. There is a Christmas event that they need to work with Kaihin Sougou High School. Iroha wanted to turn down as she has her own programme but since Hiratsuka said she needs to do it, I guess she’s here. Hikigaya kicks her out saying that this is the student council’s problem and not theirs. But this is his way of not wanting the rest to get involved. But why doesn’t she ask for Hayato’s help? Don’t want to trouble him? So bugging Hikigaya is okay? So both schools meet to do brainstorming. Coincidentally, Kaori is from Kaihin and is sitting in this session. It seems Kaihin is the only side putting forth their ideas while Iroha has no idea what they’re talking, just nodding and putting up her sweet smile. Of course, Hikigaya having his own sarcastic monologue comments. Iroha’s own student council team doesn’t think highly of her as they rather do the work procedures themselves. Then Hikigaya uses flowery terms for his idea that he doesn’t understand himself what he is saying just to match the moderator Tamanawa (also Kaihin’s student council president) and his annoying hand movements. Oddly the moderator got that and I’m pretty sure Hikigaya is just as lost as Iroha. After the session, Kaori talks (tease, rather) to Hikigaya about the girlfriend he broke up with (how could he if he never had one in the first place?) and how he might be targeting Iroha. She starts laughing upon knowing those girls are from his Service Club.

Episode 7
Komachi’s present list. Electrical items? Yui seems to be worried if Hikigaya would be coming to the clubroom. Since he will, she’s happy all over again. Iroha didn’t turn up for a brainstorming session so Hikigaya thinks she is held up by her club activity and goes to get her. But talking to Hayato in his football club, seems she has already left. Hayato knows about Iroha’s problem but didn’t help since she didn’t ask. Besides, isn’t Hikigaya the one whom she relies on? The brainstorming good also got a bunch of elementary kids to help out with the Christmas decorations. Among them is Rumi. Hikigaya confronts Tamanawa about short listing what they need to do because they have not much time but he doesn’t want to narrow their views. I don’t know what they discuss this next. Hikigaya and Iroha walking back, bump into Kaori. From the way they say things, Iroha gets the hint that something happened between them but is left hanging about the details. Hikigaya continues to work hard and streamlined the activities that are possible and impossible. Most of them the latter in terms of budget wise. Tamanawa’s answer? Let’s discuss it too. Reminder: Only a week left and if they don’t get started even with the shortage of manpower right now, it’ll never be done. Wanna discuss that too? Hikigaya sees Rumi making Christmas decorations alone. He helps her out. On his way back, he bumps into Yukino. Seems she knows he is helping out Iroha but since it is on his free time, it is not that he lied about it. After coming clean about their own methods, Yukino suggests he take some time off from the club. Because if he is trying to look out for them, he is wasting his time. He can stop forcing himself. Because if this is all it takes to break them apart, they were never close in the first place. Therefore he doesn’t have to force himself to turn up anymore.

Episode 8
Hiratsuka picks up Hikigaya to send him home but she detours just to hear him out. He mentions about the problem at hand. Tamanawa and Iroha are scared of being the cause of failure and thus this collective brainstorming. The initial problem was nobody wanted to pick a leader to shoulder the most responsibility. Hiratsuka praises him for knowing what people think but not knowing how people feel. Then there’s a bunch of other advice she mentions like hurting others, emotions and some other sh*t that I just couldn’t get because I was too bored watching… She thinks he doesn’t need to worry about Yukino or Yui because somewhere down the line, they’ll change. It might or might not be him. Hikigaya notes if he was 10 years younger and met Hiratsuka 10 years earlier, he would have fallen in love with her. Hikigaya returns to the club, shocking the girls. He is requesting for their help but Yukino thinks he got into this mess himself and should clean up after himself. He is about to agree to that so Yui gives them her piece of mind that it isn’t his fault in the first place. There’s some sort of argument about not understanding each other if one doesn’t say it and it is bringing both girls to tears. Even more shocking, Hikigaya is actually crying while he blurts out what has been his wish the entire time. I believe it is genuine mutual understanding. If you don’t get what he said the entire time, don’t blame you. Because Yukino also doesn’t understand! But the situation is worsened as she runs out crying. It’s now or never so Yui pesters Hikigaya to go chase her. So at the rooftop, Yui also assures she doesn’t know what the heck Hikigaya said. Or what the heck is going on. But she knows currently she hates the way things are now. Time for the girls to get emotional. Girl cry. Girl hug. And so Yukino agrees to accept Hikigaya’s request.

Episode 9
Thanks to that, Hikigaya feels so embarrassed that he could just die right now! And Komachi doesn’t believe this identity crisis crap of his. Yui and Yukino sit in the brainstorming. Let’s say it was even enough to give Yukino a headache! So when they relay their findings to Hiratsuka, she gives them 4 tickets to some amusement park. She got it at some after wedding party. They’re supposed to use it to do some research. Yukino doesn’t want to go since it is crowded but Yui begs her. With Hikigaya mentioning he needs to get gifts from Komachi there, looks like they’ll be going. Since Yukino has a season pass, they have an extra ticket. Who is Iroha going to invite? It’s no surprise. Hayato. Somehow his friends too tag along. We have scenes of them having fun and some talk about stuffs that don’t really interest me. I wasn’t paying attention. Sorry. There is this ride that Tobe wants to pair up with Hayato but Iroha and Yumiko tell him to butt off. Ebina suggests Hikigaya help mend Tobe’s broken heart and make it Hikigaya x Tobe! Don’t worry. Hayato eventually chooses Tobe. I can’t believe guys prefer being gays… At night, there is some parade but Yukino wanted to ride some ride that she has been afraid of so Hikigaya accompanies her. More talk that was so boring that I failed to even listen to a word they say. I can’t be bothered to replay those lines again. They might have missed the parade but Yui at least got photos of it. Now it is for the fireworks display. It could have been a memorable one if not for this little matter. Thanks to the fireworks drowning out the sounds of everything else, it looks like Iroha and Hayato said things to each other. It ends with Iroha running away in tears.

Episode 10
Hayato confirms he did reject Iroha. Something about there is more than meets the eye about Iroha’s feelings. I suppose Hikigaya has to ‘take responsibility’ by accompanying Iroha home. From what I understand, she still hasn’t given up on Hayato and ‘blames’ Hikigaya for making her change so she has got to stick with it. Hikigaya calls his side to do something about the endless meeting. He knows it will fail because everybody gets their say but nobody is making any decisions. So when Iroha mentions about putting up a play, as usual Tamanawa goes into his usual crap mode. That is when Hikigaya tells him off about inflated egos and sweeping the problem under the rug. If that doesn’t convince him, now it is Yukino’s turn to tell him off about his meaningless prattle and his fun of playing upper management. If this goes on, they’ll never create anything. I’m not sure in between the scenes but the Christmas event finally takes off and proceeds without any hitch. After Hikigaya and co make their prayers at the shrine for New Year’s Day, Komachi wants to leave big brother alone with Yukino. Since he doesn’t get it, she insults him (his first name is also considered an insult word?) and this makes Yukino laugh. This is also because Yui and Komachi are planning to do something about Yukino’s upcoming birthday. While Hikigaya and Yui are choosing a present, they bump into Haruno and Hayato. The latter duo are together since their parents are good friends. Haruno then calls Yukino to come over. She is about to hang up but Haruno passes the line to Hikigaya. I guess she has to come then. Shortly after when she arrives, Yukino’s mom is also here. She wants them to come along for Yukino’s birthday party. Yukino doesn’t look to happy but is forced to. Hikigaya glaring at Hayato indicates that it might be partly his fault.

Episode 11
When the friends are trying to decide which stream to pick, suddenly somebody mentions about the rumours that Hayato is dating Yukino. Shock! Not as shock and annoyed as Yumiko. Iroha should have known better than to ask Yukino herself because she knows they aren’t dating or anything. Iroha notices more and more girls are trying to ask Hayato out ever since the rumour as Hayato was not associated with anyone before. Like he belonged to everybody. And now here comes Yumiko. Yeah, I think she’s got a real problem. She’s trying to hold in her b*tch anger while Yukino is trying to control her sarcasm. So keep calm and just talk what is going on. Yumiko feels Hayato is acting strange and distant. Hikigaya could guess she even knows this won’t last forever and wants to be besides him. Because Hayato has not made it clear which stream he chose (the cause of all this anxiety?), Hikigaya asks him directly and of course no clear answer. Yukino probably put aside her pride to even ask Haruno but she tells her to think about it herself. So when Haruno forces Hikigaya to walk her home and asks about his attempt with Hayato, she thinks Hayato is hoping for a certain someone to find him. During the school’s cross country run, Hikigaya confronts Hayato again. This time he irks him be saying Yumiko was a convenient way of keeping away other girls. He tells him to pick sciences as it will be the only way to be freed from everyone’s expectations. Many girls don’t choose this stream too. Then there’s some talk about groups naturally breaking up and thus he doesn’t have to betray everyone’s expectations and nobody will get hurt. Hayato’s answer: He hates him. He feels inferior to him. He can’t stand losing to him. That’s why he won’t do as he says. Hayato eventually wins the race and during his victory speech, thanks Yumiko and Iroha, dispelling those rumours. Hikigaya got hurt during the race. Yukino treats him in the infirmary. Some talk. A catalyst for their faces being close enough to… Oh, is Yui eavesdropping at the door? Nah… Then a party to celebrate. Hayato notes Yukino has changed. Hayato mentions his unwillingness to pick. Because if you are given a set options to choose from, can you call it your decision? That is why he refused to pick and choose. That’s the best way he believes to go about things. Hikigaya forgot to say this to him too: He hates him. On a side note: Hayato went with liberal arts.

Episode 12
Valentine’s Day is coming. But everybody knows Hayato won’t be accepting chocolates from girls. This puts a damper on those who’d really want to give it. Yui starts flustering when Hikigaya asks her if she is free someday. I guess she needs some time to think about it. I’m pretty sure it’s not what it is she is thinking. Iroha is seeking their help to make chocolates. They know her purpose so they tell her about Hayato’s policy. So she’ll settle for Hikigaya? Yui and Yukino feel creepy when they realize Hikigaya knows about Iroha’s birthday. Now here comes Yumiko. Request to make handmade chocolates too? Oh, here comes Saki too with the same request although it is her little sister who wants to try. Before any hostility could blow up between Yumiko and Saki, Hikigaya suggests instead of doing this for Valentine, they could hold an event where they make chocolates and have the rest test taste and eat it. It’s a great idea since all of them can make together without making any obvious ulterior motives and they can act natural too. Yukino and Yui can help teach all of them. Iroha has got Tamanawa and his side to join in. Unfortunately, Iroha has also called Haruno to come. When Kaori asks if she had given Hikigaya any chocolates before, all the concerned girls are all ears. Nope. None. In that case, she’ll give him some this year. Those annoyed looks. This has Haruno mentioned Hayato got some from Yukino before. He mentions it was a long time ago. Haruno then teases Yukino about making chocolates to give to somebody. This causes her to be clumsy with the utensils and awkward with Hikigaya. Yui saves the day by showing off her cool balancing of utensils. The event goes on quite well. Till Hikigaya tastes Yukino and Yui’s chocolate. Haruno then stirs up trouble that she is disappointed that this is their way of spending time together. She finds them boring and lame and prefers the old Yukino. Night ruined. It is going to get worse when Yukino’s mom arrives. She heard from Haruno about her future plans. She feels responsible and might have erred in her decisions letting Yukino do as she pleases. She fears she might go down the wrong path at this rate. Yukino will explain it all to her but wants her to leave just for tonight. Then there is Hikigaya’s narration of us dictating others by our own stereotypes and finding something genuine.

Episode 13
Yukino made some cookies for Yui but when the latter notices none for Hikigaya, Yukino gives some like as though she’s doing her a favour. Things get awkward between Yukino and Hikigaya. It is made worse when Haruno is here to accompany Yukino home as instructed by mom. Then there’s some b*tch talk about Yukino being herself so Yui assures her they are giving this a serious thought. Haruno agrees to let her be for now. They gather at Yui’s place. They think Yukino should sleep over here for tonight so when Yukino calls Haruno for this, she knows this means Hikigaya is around and wants to speak to him. She really just knows how to ruin it. Late that night when Yukino can’t sleep, Yui suggests going on a date. Next day after Hikigaya sees off Komachi for her entrance exam, Yui contacts him to go on a date. It’s not what you think. And certainly it is not going to be a double date with those ladies. Let’s just call it a casual outing to the aquarium. There’s some talk about things in between, but I didn’t really get it. Finally the biggest question of what they’re going to do from now, Yui looks like she is going to admit something. She hands Hikigaya her cookies as thanks for fulfilling her request then. Calling herself a coward who plays dirty, she has already decided. If they figure out how each of them feels, they won’t be able to say the same. Thus she wants her final request to fix their problems. Yui says she knows how to fix Yukino’s problem. And that itself is the solution to their problem. But if she wins this bet, she is going to take it all. Hikigaya notes Yui might have the right answer all along and accepting it would be easier for all of them. Before Yukino can answer to that, Hikigaya interjects. He is saying how this is wrong for her. Yukino is going to put her future in the hands of another, which is totally unacceptable. He wants Yukino to solve her problems herself. Since he doesn’t want vague answers or superficial relationships and be left with nothing, he wants them to think and struggle to find the right answer no matter how many times they go wrong. Yui had a feeling he would say this. Yukino reminds they still have his request. She also has one. Care to listen to it?

Yahari… Ore Wa… Wakaranai!!!
Seriously. I admit. Again. I had a hard time trying to enjoy this anime! Wait. That is just an understatement. In fact, I don’t think I enjoyed this season. I couldn’t understand what the freaking hell is going on. All I know is that, everybody has some kind of problem. Problems that they had to face and overcome. Problems that I don’t even understand what is it all about. Then there is some sort of disagreement between Hikigaya and Yukino’s method. Each has their own way of doing things but the end result of it is somewhat similar. So I’m not sure what happened if they just accepted their different ways or not because if they are still sticking around each other, it means they must have worked out something, right? Even more puzzling is that I know that there is some sort of hostility between Yukino and Haruno. There is some sort of tension within her family. But not hostile enough for the ladies to get physical. I just don’t get it. Maybe it is because I have mainly forgotten much of the first season and thanks to my sentiments this season, I didn’t really go back and read it again to pick up if I missed something important. I didn’t really care anymore. All I knew was I wanted to just finish this anime and get over with it. Move on. Thank goodness I’m here. Yeah…

Making it even worse is that cliff-hanger ending. Can you even call that an ending? It just leaves you hanging. Maybe smarter audiences will be able to guess what the problem is and what Yukino’s request is about. But for a dumb guy like me whereby watching and trying to understand what is happening is already damn hard enough, ending the season at such a state makes it even worse. I need to be told what is happening to at least have a chance of understanding or I will forever be stuck in unanswered riddle land. Heck, the final episode was just a big drama between the trio. Aside Haruno and Yui’s mom, the entire final episode was just them making the appearance (all other characters ‘killed off’?) and about them contemplating about their current status (I think) and where would they take it all from here. What would they do? I don’t know. From the looks of it, I think they are going to try it out till it works. Besides, if you want things done, you better do something about it instead of wishing for a miracle to happen and the problem to fix itself.

Sad to say, I have to assume while I am watching this season, that I am actually a newbie watching this series since I do not remember a lot of what happened in the first season and couldn’t connect the stuffs (if there was any). Therefore I am not sure if Haruno is the villain of the series. Despite her eternal sweet smile and gentle tone, she manages to pick the right words to irk Yukino. Not too sure if she is trying to make Yukino realize something with this method of hers, I’m not sure. Is she playing the bad guy for her sister’s sake? Not too sure. Whatever it is, it sure made Haruno look like a total b*tch in my books. A selfish b*tch who seems to take pleasure in watching others suffer. Whoops. Was that too harsh? Well, she seems to love calling and teasing Hikigaya for her own amusement (perhaps she views him as something different) and perhaps it is because she is a woman (like any in the real world) don’t really get to the point and dumb guys like me have to think a lot trying to figure what she is getting at but never got quite close to the answer. In the end, I don’t really know what she wants. The old Yukino? Can you please be clearer? No? Well, just my luck. The fact that she always had that gentle sweet sounding voice but her words sting always make me feel that a full blown out high pitch screaming is going to explode any time. It is ironic that the sisters do not ‘fight’ or even ‘spat’ as Hikigaya puts it, but I think this kind ‘argument’ (can I term it so?) is still as scary if not worse than if they get physical or raise their voices.

With this season, somehow I feel that Hikigaya’s psychological analyses were not as amusing and interesting as he once spouted last season. I don’t even remember if this season he had said more of those this season. But I do know this time that I don’t really quite understand many of them. Even if there were some funny ones and those that I ‘understand’, I would have probably forgotten by the time I reach the anime’s end. Oh wait. Not even that far. Even before the next episode starts. That bad? Yeah. To me. Sadly, as his comments and sarcasm were one of the funny points of the series, it has become a bane this season trying to understand what he just said. Sorry, I just couldn’t understand.

I also can’t see the relationship between Hikigaya, Yukino and Yui as the Service Club members going anywhere. Like I said, there is some sort of disagreement between their way of doing things. Sometimes I even forget the reason why the trio was in the Service Club in the first place. Hiratsuka reminded us for a while by giving her own unofficial records but it all feels like back to square one or never moved at all. Yui also reminded us in one of her final narrative but I think with time running out, there is nothing more that can be done for this season. And I think the problem theme of this season is about staying the way as it is. Surely the gang are having fun at how things are right now. Status quo. We’d love things to stay the way it is forever. But reality dictates nothing lasts forever. And so perhaps this thought of trying to preserve the current moment as long as possible becomes the big issue of the entire series. Yui wants the Service Club members as it is. Hayato and his circle want their friendship to stay as it is.

Iroha seems to be taking the spotlight this season as a new character. Noticed how she spends an awfully lot of time at the clubroom? Not too sure if she really has that much of a problem that needs some help or she is just there for a certain guy. Yeah… My guts tell me she secretly likes Hikigaya although continuing her crush on Hayato seems to be just a big façade. After all, she feels like a tsundere to Hikigaya in this case. Because at times she will warn him about trying to hit on her and mock about his weird non-existent fetish. Speaking of her retorts to Hikigaya, I find them more amusing and understandable than Hikigaya’s serious narration.

Some of the minor supporting characters from the first season didn’t really make an impact this season. For example, that girly looking Saika. The only reason why he makes his limited appearance from time to time is to remind us of that running joke that whenever Hikigaya is with him, he has to control and remind himself that Saika is a guy and not to fall in love with this pretty boy. That’s about it. Saki feels even worse. Making even less screen time, she is mostly forgettable and the show would go on even if she didn’t appear at all. Same case with that chuunibyou fatty, Zaimokuza. Maybe the producers don’t want us to forget them but since they have no important role to play here, thus their limited appearance. The same idea that had me thinking why Rumi was brought back into Hikigaya’s life again. It could have been a random girl but I suppose we need a reason why Hikigaya decides to spend a little more time and help a loli.

Not too sure if there will be a third season and what made me say that is the possible fruition of the love comedy that the series carries in its title and something that I was looking forward to instead of this psychological drama. I am speculating that there are a handful bunch of girls that secretly has a crush on Hikigaya. Some subtle hints of Yukino and Yui although nothing confirmed. Therefore the final episode from my perspective feels like a big troll of this. There were a number of scenes that would make you go, “Will she say it or will she not?”. With their ambiguous body language and facial expressions, it is all the more reason why it was a big troll since nothing conclusive was actually said. I am not psychology or love-cum-romance expert, but I can say that the trio hold some sort of degree of feelings for the other.

Yui and Yukino might be the main runners if ever this romance race comes true but don’t forget the other potentials like Hiratsuka too because Hikigaya may be into older woman if you remember his comment about marrying her if he was born 10 years earlier. Remember Ebina’s cheeky statement about things working out if it is him she is dating? Can I take that joke seriously? I deduce Saki too seeing that reaction she had during the chocolate making and testing stint. Iroha playing the tsundere and Kaori as the ex-flame sending mixed teasing signals of possibly coming back to his life may just add some spice to it. I might add Rumi for lolicon and Komachi as siscon to expand the harem but I’ll leave that to my fantasies. If I ever have time to think about it ;p. And then maybe even Hayato for some gay tropes ;p.

This season’s opening and ending themes aren’t that appealing to me either. Usually when a series fails to keep me interested in its story, plot, characters and everything else, the themes would be the saving grace of the series. Sadly, this isn’t the case and thus my overall views of this sequel plunging even deeper. Nagi Yanagi, who sang the opening theme for the previous season, again takes up that same role for this season’s opener, Harumodoki. The song is not really that bad but it just feels like another generic anime pop. Just like last season, Saori Hayami and Nao Touyama do a duet for the ending theme. This season’s Everyday World doesn’t live up to last season’s Hello Alone. It wasn’t as attractive enough. Just like last season too, there are ballad solo versions of Saori Hayami and Nao Touyama singing this song. Not too my liking either as both versions are slow ballads as opposed to the main’s pop style.

Overall, a disappointing and frustrating season simply because I just couldn’t understand. For those who do, I believe you will find a lot of character development amidst the dramatic moments and other stuffs that gives this romcom genre a different breath of fresh air (not too sure if I am deceived about it because I just don’t feel so). This season sits well for those who really understand the deep and slightly complicated stuffs instead of those relying on slapstick comedy and shameful fanservice to retain its audience. After all these years, it only goes to show that those kind of elements for romcom would be my typical cup of tea. And I’m sure with lots of similar otakus like me around the globe, they’ll keep making lots of those for years to come. Yes, such love comedies are once again on course in making the world on collision course with tragedy. The kind of tragedy so sad that you’ll find yourself laughing so hard at. Just sad…

P/S: Can I make a request? I hope the next season would be easier to understand. If it ever happens…

Zankyou No Terror

February 28, 2015

Is terrorising part of the new ‘culture’ today? The world has definitely changed a lot ever since post 9/11 terror attacks that still rings fear in the hearts of many even till today. We are further reminded of how truly terrifying terrorism is with the series of Zankyou No Terror. Well, if you watch anime, that is. This time and again (but of course), Tokyo is the object of terrorism. But not by a well-known international terrorist organization but a couple of teenage kids! Doesn’t that feel like an insult? At least it goes to show that terrorism doesn’t ‘discriminate’ but comes in all types and forms. However with these bunch of kids terrorizing Tokyo, planting bombs in places and giving authorities a chance to solve riddles that would lead to the bomb’s location, is there more to the eye for such young ones to have nothing better to do and so much free time that they could terrorize Tokyo? Are they doing it for fun or is there a hidden message behind it all?

Episode 1: Falling
In the snowy prefecture of Aomori, a couple of guys in a very well coordinated plan steal some plutonium from a nuclear fuel processing facility. Six months later in Tokyo, Arata Kononoe AKA Nine and Touji Hisami AKA Twelve are on their way to their newly transferred high school. Twelve sees Lisa Mishima in the midst of being bullied by her classmate girls who want her to jump into the pool. Looking like fun, he jumps in. Lisa sees the warmth of his smile but at the same time the ice cold piercing stare of Nine. Meanwhile a couple of guys lazing around instead of doing their office job, Kenjirou Shibazaki and Mukasa checks out videos on YouTube and they see a couple masked boys calling themselves as Sphinx predicting some darkness befalling on Tokyo after 3pm. Despite the cold exterior, Nine seems pretty popular with the girls. They want his handphone number but he can’t give it to them because he doesn’t have one. Or does he? Damn Twelve for texting him to meet right now. They see Lisa heading into the toilet with her bento. Is she going to have lunch there? No. She doesn’t feel good and dumps everything into the toilet bowl. What a waste. Back home, Twelve asks Nine about Lisa having the same look in her eyes as the orphanage kids. He replies they are weak and died. They were weak and couldn’t save them. But now they aren’t. Nine and Twelve are in a high rise government building planting funny plushie dolls in strategic place when the electricity in the entire area goes out. They hasten their planting as everyone grapples about without any sort of electronics working. Shibazaki remembers about the video and wants Mukasa to show it to him again. Did the prophecy come true? Lisa sees Twelve so the latter gives her a plushie and tells her to hold it until he says otherwise. When everything is set, the plushie starts melting and explodes. Nine believes everything went according to plan but Nine mentions not quite. Lisa saw him. He gave her a plushie just in case. They can save or kill her anytime. Nine wonders if he is trying to recreate that day for him. If it ends his nightmares. Nine calls Lisa and gives her 2 choices. Die where she stands or become their accomplice. Because she doesn’t want to die, Nine guides her as to where she should move. Placing the plushie before a wall, it then explodes to reveal a big gap. Twelve is waiting down there ready to catch her. Ready for the big jump? Just remember the swimming pool. Here goes! The area is in chaos as part of the building collapses. Twelve brings Lisa back to Nine as she is being told she made the choice to be their accomplice on her own. There is no more turning back.

Episode 2: Call & Response
When Lisa returns home, her very insecure mother thinks she never answered her calls as she feared she will leave her just like her dad. A task force is created to investigate this terrorist attack. Kurahashi of the Investigation Bureau’s Section One is heading this task force as they analyse all the details they have from the site devastation (they’re lucky not to have any casualties), the video which could be an ill-timed prank, the culprits may have been related to the 25 minute blackout, and the most interesting is the explosive analysis. Thermite reaction is based on the mixture of certain compounds together in which can lead to very high and extreme degrees of temperature in a short time. The materials are easier to find than making gunpowder (because it is used in wielding). The bombs are placed strategically where the building’s structural complex support it. The compounds are hot enough to melt the steel and the water sprinkle that was activated react the compound further and causing a steam explosion. The building at this point cannot support its weight and collapses. This terrorist attack is unprecedented but the analyst is baffled that a bomb was used made in traditional TNT. It’s like as though they are trying to leave a message. Words of “VON” are printed of it. Kurahashi knows what this means. He fears if this is related to that incident, the country will descend into panic. Meanwhile Nine impersonates as a ramen delivery boy and plant his takeout delivery in some police headquarters. And nobody gives a damn or a hint of suspicion.

Everyone is abuzz when Sphinx uploads a new video. They claim that the explosion was theirs and there is going to be a second one. But they give the police a riddle to answer. As they discuss, Kurahashi believes the culprits calling themselves Sphinx have roots more in the Greek myth than Egyptian. If you are familiar with the Oedipus story whereby an oracle foretold a father his son Oedipus would kill him and a series of events led that to happen. Without knowing he killed his own father and then marrying his own mother, once he found out, he could not bear the sin and gouged out his own eyes. On his journey he met a Sphinx who told him a riddle and the wrong answer would mean he will be eaten. The riddle is similar to the culprits in which the answer is human. So the next target is a place with lots of people? Thinking it is an address, they believe the DNA research facility is the target. Meanwhile Lisa is reading the story of Oedipus when Twelve plays that Coke-Mentos prank on her. He then warns her that she might be their accomplice but not one of them. Rat them out and she will die. Shibazaki calls Kurahashi to give his opinion on the riddle. There were 2 versions of that myth. Because the culprits mention 2 legs in morning, 4 legs at noon and 3 legs in evening, the answer is Oedipus. He began as a human, became a beast when he did those sins and walked with a cane after becoming blind. And since they said it is a riddle for the police, the numbers 2-4-3 coincides with the Roppongi’s police station address. Right at that moment the bomb goes off. Too late. Kurahashi tells him a highly confidential matter about the stolen plutonium. The same mark was found on a bomb casing fragment after the government building explosion. He believes those 2 are really intent on standing against this country. He wants Shibazaki to come back.

Episode 3: Search & Destroy
Hamura doesn’t like the idea some guy from the archives is going to lead them. But they trust in him because he was one of the best detectives of Section One. Twelve wonders if their riddle was too hard to solve but Nine believes the police are on to them as he saw counter-terrorism units in the news. After this one, they will know. Police are reviewing the footage from the CCTV of Nine entering the Roppongi station. Kurahashi gives Shibazaki a sketch picture of what is supposedly the culprit (with a fake name of course). No photos because apparently someone deleted it at the facility. The police interrogate an experienced crane operator about making such mistake. He won’t talk till Shibazaki comes in and mentions about his gambling habit and a certain debt collector who didn’t show up. He starts panicking and confesses. Seems he was offered 2 million yen to do the job from some anonymous online user. He got half of it when he accepted. The curious part is how the culprits know his account number without asking (of course theirs is a fake account) and it is as though they are purposely leaving traces of evidence behind. Then a new uploaded video from Sphinx with yet another riddle. They have until 10am tomorrow before the bomb blows off in a building next to the dwelling god who solved the riddle. Shibazaki analyses the culprits’ words and actions. It may have something to do with Oedipus, local shrines and swollen foot (the meaning behind Oedipus’ name). Meanwhile Lisa cannot stand her insecure mom’s shake up and runs away right before she discovers. Bye-bye.

When Mukasa is playing some online game slaying dragons, it hit Shibazaki. He is requesting some bold move that would seem provoking the culprits. Although he would like to take responsibility but in reality it would fall on his commanding officer (Kurahashi), he hopes Kurahashi would do something to take the blame. Hope this idea better works. Shibazaki uploads a live video to answer Sphinx’s riddle. Using Oedipus origins he wasn’t a god and his mother descended from a water dragon, coupled in with some versions had him limped all his life, he figures they are referring to the limping dragon called Arahabaki. It has roots in the local myth and although a god of war, metal working and feet, at one point it had no shrine to call its own and wandered. Thus his feet got tired and started limping. There is an Arahabaki related shrine here and it is the Shirahige Shrine in Katsuhika ward. Showing the abandoned building next to it, the bomb diffusing squad is seen dismantling the bombs safely. Shibazaki then continues to be provocative. He warns not to get carried away with their childish behaviour. What they are having isn’t a toy and if they are planning to use that trump card, he will hound them to the ends of the earth! At that point, the police cut him off as it is deemed a direct provocation and too dangerous. Well, that is why Kurahashi is to take responsibility, right? Nine and Twelve are impressed they manage to deduce this time and they notice that with the squad wearing hazard materials suits, it shows they have definitely linked them to the plutonium theft. Hamura talks to Kurahashi about who this Shibazaki guy is. 15 years ago, a secretary of a Diet member jumped off a hotel balcony. Top brass said it was suicide but Shibazaki didn’t buy it. He investigated and linked it to some conspiracy of a faction leader who once worked at the Metropolitan Police. So that is how he ended up in the archives since he has a family to feed. No choice, he had to accept top brass’ decision but he hasn’t forgotten or let go of it.

Episode 4: Break Through
Lisa is now wandering in the streets. Look at the endless miscalls from her mom! Scary! It was a good thing she ran away, huh? The police are in another briefing of the materials used in the bombs and how the culprits use fake identity and credit card to buy things from a legitimate company. In short, ironically the more clues they have about them, the less they seem to know. Shibazaki goes to Aomori to see Yoshihara Ebisuno, the person who employed one of the culprits. He shows the sketch to get more information. The kid doesn’t talk much, always have a headphone on listening to music from cold country and when asked about his dad, he kept silent. After he returns, it seems many people don’t remember even him working there. Like as though he is a ghost. Shibazaki believes no matter how good they are in erasing evidence and tracks, they can’t erase human memory. Besides, he was there just to have a feel of what the scenery they saw, the air the breathed and the sounds they heard. Sphinx uploads another video and wants the police to play their game to beat the bomb. Or else the invisible bomb will go off. Using the Oedipus myth again that he descended the staircase to Hades, it seems the internet is like an underworld and there is a link that connects them to a page where a timer is counting down. They need to input the correct password, which is the name of the person who the sayings are referring to. They have till midnight. Oh, and no cheating. The police work hard and they have gathered from surveillance camera. They deduce the same person entering Roppongi station and some building to be the same. They’re going there. Hamura tells Shibazaki they have found the culprits’ hideout and to stop keying in the password. However Shibazaki leaves the raid to him and continues inputting because this time the culprits told them to stop the bomb instead of finding it. Hamura is pissed with his attitude because he is just like those kids, thinking this is a game.

Nine knows Twelve has been keeping tabs on Lisa although he promised not to get involved. He can tell she has run away from home and thinks there is a chance she might go to the police and rattle them. So Twelve goes to see her and although she wants to be left alone, she has no place to go. She felt like an idiot. Back then, she thought of running away with him and expected to lead her out of this world. Didn’t happen. Expected too much. Will anybody take her away? She runs away but into a couple of police who question her for being out this late. Twelve zooms by on his bike and Lisa doesn’t hesitate to jump on and ride off. Meanwhile a full police and SWAT team are swarming a building. It just hit Shibazaki that one of the clues of “Know thyself” and when he entered his name, the password is correct. However the bomb doesn’t stop. A footage shows the police squad storming into the building and because they cheated, the invisible bomb goes off. All the classified information on the terrorist attacks is uploaded onto the social websites. You lose. Lisa asks Twelve if they are going to destroy the world. He laughs. She laughs. Hasn’t felt this good laughing for a long time, eh? When Twelve brings her back, Nine immediately says no. Twelve argues she could be an asset as she is an unseen face but Nine doesn’t trust her. They have no time. For dramatic effect, Lisa collapses. I think it’s real.

Episode 5: Hide & Seek
Lisa wakes up as she hears the guys talk. Nine doesn’t want to keep her and once her fever is gone, out she goes. She will be a liability. Twelve is kinder since he believes she has nowhere to go but Nine reminds him nothing good comes to those associating with them. Suddenly all their handphones ring. I don’t know if Lisa did anything but she was told she was lucky because it was connected to the fire extinguisher. Had the fuse been connected, the bomb inside it will explode. She faints upon hearing that. Back to dream land. Meanwhile a pair of American FBI agents sees Kurahashi. Nine and Twelve disguise as maintenance service and place a fire extinguisher with the bomb in a train. When they come home, they smell fire! Lisa cooking?! Does she know her cooking is smoking the entire room?! And what does she mean she messed up a little?! That’s basically total cooking failure! Nine accuses her of trying to prove her worth so she could say. However she is still feverish and is sent to bed. Twelve notes at least it is better than their food at the orphanage. He can’t remember the taste and as though eating was a task. Sphinx uploads another riddle for the police. The place where the angel receives FEZ 5889 punishment. Shibazaki instantly recognizes that number. It is the police file records. Since they have hacked their system and data, they must have got their past data too. Looking through that archive, it is a report about corporal punishment of a high school making its student run in the sweltering heat for arriving late. Looking at the Bible this time about Samael which is also known as the red serpent, what does a snake look like in real life? A train. And the red train belongs to the Shinjuku line. Twelve wonders if the riddle is too easy this time. Nine purposely make it so that Shibazaki can figure out the bombing connections. And he already did. All the locations that the bombs were placed, the head of that building or organization once participated in a seminar known as Rising Peace Academy, a non-profit organization seeking to promote interaction between the government and people. It attracted lots of important and influential people.

As the 8pm deadline looms, Nine is baffled that there is no report anywhere that action is taken to remove the bomb. They notice all their handphones are experiencing interference and thus no signal. Shibazaki confronts Kurahashi about their no-action. Seems orders from the top said it would send a special assault team and the rest will be on standby. This means they are to do nothing. Before a mass murder can happen, Nine tries to hack back into the train system to find out where the train is while Twelve is on his way to remove the bomb without being seen. They deduce somebody is behind this interfering with it all. As though that person doesn’t want the bomb to be stopped and let it blow up. Nine is surprised he cannot trace the train as multiple IDs of the train appear. Somebody is feeding them fake data. Suddenly his laptop is being hacked externally. Nine remembers traumatic memories of the orphanage and thinks he knows who is behind this. He uses a new laptop to hack. When he determines the train’s position, he quickly dashes out because he is the nearest. Once the train stops at the station, Nine drops a smoke bomb and the public panics there is a bomb as they rush out. Nine goes in but sees a girl sleeping with her headphones on. As he tries to reach for her, the bomb goes off. Don’t worry. They’re okay. Nine and Twelve’s handphone rings a message. They know it is her. Five. She has found them.

Episode 6: Ready Or Not
Five is pretty happy herself since she is confident she can catch Nine. In another police briefing, it is reported there are no casualties although many are injured. Also, Kurahashi mentions the FBI are going to be on this case and to give their full cooperation. Another nightmare wake up for Nine. Discussing with Twelve, they believe she wants to continue the game they started back then and won’t let them get away this time. Lisa wants to help. Instantly shot down by Nine. He shows her footage of the train’s bombing. This is what they do. Can she do it? The best she can help is to stay out of their way. Shibazaki talks to Kurahashi when he was summoned away halfway in the previous briefing. He explains he went to the top brass’ office. The top dogs were quiet as he was introduced to FBI agent Clarence and a nuclear researcher, Five. They know plutonium was stolen and the American government is very concerned and those culprits are the ones planting the bombs around. They have solid evidence of that. Kurahashi wants to see those evidences so he can arrest them but Five laughs and ridicules him. They were running around and they couldn’t even catch them and worse, they let their data get leaked. Best joke of the year. Shibazaki knows what they’re doing the other day is to force the culprits to reveal themselves. What happens if they are pushed to a corner and decided to use their trump card? Not good. Soon another Sphinx riddle. But it’s not from our usual duo as a certain somebody is impersonating as them and sending the riddle of Julius Caesar going to Arab to everyone’s handphone. It is easily deduced as some Caesar code. Using the numbers, it is the coordinates of Haneda Airport. A second message is purposely misspelled as “VON Voyage”.

Nine and Twelve know what she is doing and they are caught in a catch-22 situation. Because if they go there to stop the bomb, they will be caught in the act. If they don’t and the bomb goes off, they will be blamed. They can’t go out and reveal anything because it’s the terrorist’s words against the police. Who would you believe? Shibazaki is suspicious about this Sphinx’s message. Is it really them? The chief calls everyone to gather and another top order not to do anything. Don’t do anything you’ll regret. Shocking, eh? On pretence to get food, we know Shibazaki is not going to sit still. But Hamura and the other guys also know he is going to do something and ‘joins him for dinner’. Nine and Twelve know that the airport is laced with CCTVs everywhere and must move on the assumption that they are being watched. They need someone they won’t recognize. Ah, clumsy Lisa coming in… No. Just no. Oh, come on. They need someone to act like an amateur and who best fits this? Lisa puts her foot down that she wants to be part of the group and will do anything. Okay. But they’ll be moving separately. The guys infiltrate as airport maintenance members. Five and her crew are keeping close tabs. Her underlings are so slow in retrieving data that she does the job herself. She traces them quickly as the personnel records do not match. Are they getting sloppy? Once they change their outfits and appear at the lobby, the screen changes to the layout of the airport. It is divided into squares and Nine recognizes this is chess. She wants to play chess using the airport as the board and also continue that game from that day. Their winning move will reveal the bomb’s location. Nine does a mental image of the moves and soon the guys separately make a dash to their next spot. Let the game begin.

Episode 7: Deuce
Shibazaki and co arrive but they see numbers on the screen. He thinks the terrorist is playing games with somebody intended with and that they are here. They also deduce the message from the fake Sphinx was intended for the real Sphinx. It could be somebody from the police planting the bomb and they are better off looking into what the police are doing. As they snoop around, they find the airport staffs have been told to show those on screen by the police. And there was a big police truck coming true. It must be hiding somewhere so as not to attract public attention. Twelve manages to escape from the cameras and hide in the blind spots. Enough time to change into police attire while Nine continues to run around playing the chess moves. It’s time for Lisa to make her debut. Can she do it? She’s a bundle of nerves. While Twelve enters some computer main server terminal to mess with something, Lisa sets off a flare in the toilet which in turn sets off the alarm. However Five spots Lisa because among the crowd, she is running away and so nervous she is that she bumps into everybody. Caught you. When Five notices the discrepancy in the time in the video and in real time, she rushes out but Nine points a gun at her. He knows where the bomb is. She also can tell how Twelve switched the cameras to recordings 5 minutes earlier and is now heading to the bomb. However she also knows there is someone who caused that diversion. Five didn’t know he made friends but this means his weakness has increased. She will make sure she will have the best seat for the fireworks. Clarence catches Lisa and points a gun at her. Come with him. The airport police arrive and open fire but Nine escapes. Five tells her goons to stay put. She didn’t order them to move.

Nine meets up with Twelve but it seems the bomb is not at the spot. Suddenly Lisa calls Twelve. A man brought her into a plan and locked her inside. The bomb is here and it is moving towards their location. It is the reason why the bomb couldn’t be found. It is a moving bomb. Who is piloting? Nobody. They know somebody is auto-piloting the plane and this can only be done at the control tower where Five would be. However they cannot go close to it as it is heavily guarded. Nine thinks of causing a scene to evacuate the public. But what about Lisa? They can’t abandon her, can they?! Only one thing left to do. Nine calls Shibazaki and tells him about somebody setting up the bomb to frame them. He wants to use him to get into the control tower to stop it. It is for both their benefit to stop the bomb. Never thought he heard a terrorist say that. Shibazaki and his men push their way through but only Shibazaki get through. Nine drives a cargo cart while Twelve calls Lisa to do the necessary preparations. She opens the hatch and needs to jump but the bumpy ride causes her to slip. Don’t worry. She is hanging by the harness she made. Now it’s too tight to untie. Shibazaki reaches the control tower and points the gun at the control guy to move the plane away. Five is not happy her plan is derailed and is going to make him regret this. Lisa unties herself as she falls into Twelve’s arms. They steer away and the plane does so. Once time is up, the plane explodes. Shibazaki sees Sphinx below (in their mask of course) and he can’t chase them since the panicking control tower members are blocking the exit trying to escape. He is only left in frustration as they got away. Five isn’t defeated yet. She has got her hands on Lisa’s student ID card and won’t let her get away next time.

Episode 8: My Fair Lady
Shibazaki and co are being reprimanded by the chief. Everyone is suspended for 3 months and off the case except for Shibazaki who will be suspended indefinitely. He tries to mention about somebody framing Sphinx but the chief won’t hear a word further. Hand over your badge. Shibazaki talks to Kurahashi and it seems the latter had to go through a lot to reduce his punishment. They know that woman is going after her. Who is she? She doesn’t look like some mere nuclear scientist. Kurahashi tried finding out but everything points to her being transferred from ISA, an intelligence agency. So what is a spy doing in a plutonium theft case? Lisa wakes up alone back at the hideout and is warned not to go outside. However she receives a courier package. A message says, “BOMB”. Oh sh*t! The guys are coming back from an errand wondering if they should change their hideout since Lisa’s face is known. Then they see Lisa rushing out before the entire building goes boom! Clarence warns Five about going too far because their priority is to secure the item. Nine and Twelve use an abandoned video game centre as their new hideout. Twelve wonders if they should quit while they still can. Nine wonders if he is scared because of Lisa. He should remember where they came from and has he forgotten what they must do? Lisa could have died then and all the more reason not to let her get involved anymore.

Shibazaki does more research on Rising Peace Academy and there was this Athena Project they conducted. He visits Mukasa to request a file of some politician’s kid involved in some assault case that was settled out of court. He then goes to see him to seek more information about this programme of providing special education for gifted children. He won’t say and claims some national secrets act. Shibazaki mentions about his son and shows picture proof he might be at it again. Blackmail? Well, he is already going to get fired so he couldn’t care less. From Mukasa, Hamura finds Shibazaki and joins him in his detective work walking from one place to another to question people regarding taken children from the orphanage over the country with high scores from a test. Oddly nobody seems to know where the children end up but a nun they questioned remembers a government official handing her his card. Shibazaki calls his cyber crime unit’s colleague, Kinoshita to snoop around on the name of Souta Aoki. It is discovered that Athena Project involved pharmaceutical companies, neuroscience research labs and vanguard medicine organizations. The project was cancelled 7 years ago. Twelve sees a letter from Lisa. Goodbye note. She must have heard how a burden she was and ran away. But Five is watching her from the street CCTVs. As she wanders in the street, several agents pick her up. Lisa wakes up in Five’s place. She knows all about her from running away from her mom and running away from the boys. She wants to help them but if they unleash their next plan, there is no going back. So tell her everything. Lisa spills everything from the time she met them at the government building and the choice of dying or become their accomplice. Five tells her she should be better off dead. She further insults her as a stupid girl dragging the guys around. Lisa tries to be tough. She can do anything to her be let the guys walk free. However Five tells her that nobody cares about her life in which an ant’s life is worth even more. Does she think they have a future? Nine warns Twelve about looking for Lisa. They receive a message from Lisa’s handphone. It’s a picture of her. Instantly they know Five has got her and it is a trap. It’s different this time. They have no time. It is precisely why he is going. Nine pleads him to stay. Don’t leave me? Unfortunately he chose the girl over his best friend. Doesn’t this seem like real life?

Episode 9: Highs & Lows
Nine is in his secret lab making preparations. Shibazaki and Hamura are at Aoki’s house. This widower looks helluva gloomy. I can guess why. Shibazaki wants to know more about Athena Project but Aoki mentions the name of the former deputy minister of health and labour. He died 3 years ago because he wanted to bring those responsible to face prosecution. This is warning that they walk away now if they want to walk freely in the streets. Shibazaki won’t and tells Hamura to go away. He won’t either. But see his shaking hands taking out the recorder? The explanation begins. Aoki mentions about savant syndrome, condition that demonstrates abnormal capabilities in a certain skill. In exchange for being good at that skill, they often pay the price in the form of an inability to communicate with others. The goal of Athena Project is to find a way to artificially bring a person to a similar savant syndrome state. 26 children (all without names and only identified with a number) with high IQ scores were taken as test subjects since a pharmaceutical company at that time stumbled upon some drug. When Rising Peace Academy found out about it, they launch this project, poured funds into it and hired the best scientists all at a place called Settlement. Because the drug was only effective in children no older than 5 years old and a normal person could not withstand the drug’s effect, their bodies and mind became broken and eventually died. When the US government discovered this 7 years ago, they intervened and cancelled it. Only 1 child survived and was the US took custody of her. However there were 2 others who escaped. They set the facility on fire and ran away. That was 8 years ago. Today they would be 17 if they are alive. They might not have enough time left in this world. He said all this now because he knew eventually someone like them would turn up or else he would have carried it to his grave. Hamura becomes upset that he can say all that with a straight face. He is not human. Aoki agrees. Merely just a pawn powerless to oppose the hand that moved him. And the hand was? Dr Shunzou Mamiya. The politician guy who demoted Shibazaki.

Twelve is seen entering the amusement park. He sees Lisa tied up in a Ferris wheel carriage and wearing a bomb vest. At that moment, the timer begins and the wheel moves. 8.5 minutes. He remains calms and tells her to do the same as he tries to disarm the bomb. One down, more to go… Clarence isn’t pleased of what Five is doing because no matter how pro a bomb diffuser is, nobody can diffuse so many bombs in such a given time. If he is killed, they will lose their lead on the item’s location. She tells him to shut up. She has a big headache right now. Traumatic nightmares? Or stress, I suppose? Lisa apologizes for causing them trouble all the time. Don’t be. Twelve apologizes instead that he got her into this. He shouldn’t have picked her up. He knew this would happen eventually. Lisa makes her resolve. She wants him to save himself and go to Nine. He needs him. There is something they have to do so go do it. But he won’t leave her. Five calls him and says what they stole wasn’t plutonium but a nuclear prototype developing in secret. Let’s make a deal. Tell us where the location is and she’ll stop the bomb. She further plays mind games with him that he betrayed Nine for Lisa and is he going to let her die in front of him? Because Nine isn’t going to forgive him. But if he doesn’t want to tell, it’s fine. They can die like lovers. In the dying seconds, Twelve blurts out the bomb in a school locker. The special squad storms into it and Nine knows Twelve has tattle on him. He takes what is needed and escapes. Five becomes desperate and orders Nine’s capture at all cost. Target lost. Those headaches coming back again? Yeah well, she collapsed. I guess playing such a game can be too stressful if it doesn’t go your way.

Episode 10: Helter Skelter
While Five is in ICU, Nine turns himself into the police. At first nobody believes till he puts on his mask. It’s him! Nine only wants to speak to Shibazaki but since he is suspended, Kurahashi will listen in his place. Nine has a demand. He wants a press conference at 8pm where he will tell all. Kurahashi tells his top brass about this but they don’t trust him. However Kurahashi will take full responsibility. Plus, this is the first time Sphinx has demanded something and has been keeping their word every time. When Five wakes up but still weak, Clarence told her Nine has turned himself in and she is not too happy. She will not let anyone else have him. Meanwhile Shibazaki goes to see Mamiya. Hamura wanted to come along but was sent on a wild goose chase to buy cigarette packs for him (he should have guessed something is wrong when he visited 8 outlets all of which not having the cigarette brand he specified! 8 freaking shops!!!). Shibazaki is ready to face whatever consequences as the frail and sickly Mamiya explains about Japan still reeling from their lost dignity when World War 2 ended. They wanted to create people with superior intelligence and senses, raise talents that would far be more useful than any weapon. That was what Athena Project was for. The project failed but he considers the children gave their lives for the country’s good. Shibazaki tells him to cut the bullsh*t about the country’s good because they took away their childhood and destroyed their lives for their egos. News of Sphinx’s press conference reaches everyone. Lisa and Twelve are bumming around. What are they going to do? Twelve takes her to an amusement park and they have fun? Twelve fears he has betrayed Nine and cannot face him. Lisa for once ‘scolds’ him that she was happy when he came for her but now his partner is in trouble. If he goes to Nine, she is sure he will be happy too.

Shibazaki requests to speak to Nine but Kurahashi can’t do that. Only a selected few get to interview him and that Shibazaki is suspended. However he slips him the secret location of the press conference. Clarence calls the top brass and ‘understands’ that they rather negotiate with terrorists instead of assisting the US government. Can’t answer that, can’t he? Five suggests taking it by force but Clarence reminds their relations with the Japanese government have been strained since the airport incident. Five believes an attack by an unidentified armed force will do the trick. Five takes over the operation and has all police vehicles leaving the stations traced. An unidentified van attacks the escort but it is empty. A decoy. This tactic allows Five to eliminate and determine the true escort that Nine is in. She drives like a hell driver to personally get him. When she is up to the van, she opens fire, deflating a tyre and killing the driver. Kurahashi in the other front seat has a hard time steering and crashes. With all the officers out, Nine frees himself and starts running. But here comes Twelve on his bike serving as a distraction. Before he crashes, he drops a bomb that puts their car out of commission. Clarence points a gun at Five. He is taking her off the mission. He has enough proof to dismiss her after her various illegal conducts. While he is messaging to his men, Five shoots him with her hidden gun. Five comes chasing Nine in her car but the latter shoots back, enough to make her crash. Walking up to him, Five says she has never managed to beat him. That was all she wanted. However the time she had left was far too short and it was because of him she managed to live this long. He was her reason for living. Now it’s time for goodbye and hopes to see him on the other side. So live for her. She quickly kisses him, walks back to her car and fires at the tank. Boom! It is already 8pm but Nine hasn’t shown up at the press conference. Suddenly a video of him is seen on all screens. In this pre-recording video, Nine mentions the press conference is cancelled thanks to outside interference. This message was set up to play automatically if this happened. The last bomb that will go off at 10pm is a nuclear bomb. No one can stop it. Goodbye Japan. Nine takes off his mask at the end of the video.

Episode 11: VON
As the mass evacuation of the region begins, Lisa finds Twelve messed up and treats him. Shibazaki believes something is off. Sphinx isn’t just any terrorist because so far they have not killed anybody and have a specific goal. His daughter calls him, worried if he is in the midst of evacuation. He assures her he will after he has done his work. I guess you can’t beat a workaholic. Because his daughter is taking some physics subject in university, he asks if it is possible for a nuclear bomb to detonate without being killing anyone. As long as it is detonated in the air and it was done before by Americans. How will a nuclear bomb get into the air? Hamura deduces via balloon. So the police start scrambling for any balloon launched during the announcement was made and found one that matches. Although the radioactive will disperse into space, the electromagnetic waves will still cause a massive blackout. But there is another problem. Airplanes in the area are not equipped with electromagnetic protection and if get caught will crash. The US army is probably the only one with such technology. So it is a race to get all 250 planes in that are to land immediately! Even a couple of JSDF jet fighters are sent to chase it but the balloon has floated up so high that they can’t follow. Lisa is relieved that Twelve is fine. So what else better than to spend the rest of the time together and wait for kingdom come. Twelve explains they were raised in that dark orphanage without knowing their parents. Even when they escaped, it has always the 2 of them. Nobody needed them. That’s why he wants to thank her. By 10pm the bomb explodes. Everyone is awed by the big explosion in the sky. The most different ‘fireworks’ they have seen if I should say. Subsequently all electricity and anything electronic are cut. In the darkness, Nine sees something like Aurora lights in the sky.

In the aftermath, Nine visits the abandoned orphanage and hammers to the ground a wooden tombstone for Five. Lisa and Twelve arrive and the latter wants to explain but Nine knows only he was the one capable of throwing that bomb. Thank you. Friendship reconciled. What are a bunch of kids going to do hanging out at this place? Play ball (Lisa is a joker) and listening to music. But it seems they’re not just hanging out for fun. They are waiting for Shibazaki to come and he doesn’t disappoint. He deduces this is where they came from and wanted to show the world about this place. With everything that has happened, everyone’s attention is on them because they will be curious who is Sphinx and where they come from. Given the magnitude of it, nobody can sweep it under the rug. Creating this was their goal all along. They intended to get caught. The duo add that they needed someone who would figure it all and catch them. That person is Shibazaki. He is their Oedipus. He arrests them as Twelve mentions Lisa is just a hostage. Suddenly American choppers hover over the place. How did they find them? Nine takes out a detonator and threatens to blow up a bomb in a nuclear power plant. The army relay his message back to their boss (Clarence?) but he tells them to carry out their duty. Even if the bomb is real, there is nothing they can do as the mere existence of someone knowing the truth about the airport and highway incident will put them at a disadvantage. But spare the detective because if he accuses the Japanese government, the attention from them will be turned away. Twelve is shot and killed. Nine is furious and is going to press it but Shibazaki signals he will talk to him. He convinces Nine they have put their lives on the line and not to waste it. Everything will be revealed in the trial. Nine gives the detonator to him and leaves everything else to him. And most important of all, don’t forget them. His final headache gets worse and he collapses. A year later, Project Athena becomes known to the public and the world as Mamiya and Aoki are in a high profile prosecution. Lisa prays at the grave of Nine and Twelve. Shibazaki is on his way to do the same and stumbles into her. Lisa tells him she has asked Nine about the music he was listening to. It was from Iceland and the word VON is the Icelandic word for hope.

Terrorizing Our Hearts And Minds
OMG! OMFG! I just feel so sad. My heart just sank so much that I was just in tears when it all ended. But to summarize my feelings for series, it was a blast! Pun not intended but it was very awesome. Including the explosive finale. Uhm, pun intended? Every minute of it was just intense and interesting that when it was over, I couldn’t help feel a sense of emptiness. Yup. One of the very few series that actually made time fly. I want to say that this series is perfect but in reality, there it isn’t so because there may be a few points it made me left pondering like the lifespan of the orphanage trio. I’m not sure if they know exactly when they will die but it feels like they know they have not long to live. But where were they between the closure of the project and orphanage and now? Why did Five eventually choose to show up after all these years? Maybe she doesn’t know the whereabouts of Nine?

And now that everything is over, is Lisa living back with her crazy mom again? After all that craziness has happened, perhaps her mom’s case is just a mild one? And did Shibazaki and his fellow colleagues just get a slap on the wrist because after all the dangerous investigations that are akin to opening the Pandora Box, they should have been in some sort of trouble. But I guess with the world now focusing on this atrocity, I guess they are not in focus right now. Ah, so many of such questions but despite all that, I believe this show is still superb and the execution and flow of everything was greatly and nicely done. Easily this would be one of my favourite series for not only this season but all-time as well.

Curiously enough, the flashback of Nine, Twelve and Five’s past during their time at the orphanage isn’t given much prominence. I thought with the flashbacks and snippets of it from time to time, ultimately we would see the entire picture somewhere at the end or maybe an entire episode dedicating to it. This was not the case. I suppose just like Project Athena itself, these aren’t given much focus and somewhat just serve as a means to an end. Because basically if I think about it, there might be nothing much to it and I don’t think I want to see a bunch of young children getting tortured and going through so much pain in addition to the terrorizing pace of this series. They were just sufficient enough to drive the story forward. Besides, I don’t think it will be fair to suddenly jump on us that there is another survivor (which of course there isn’t). I don’t know if my heart can take it if that kind of twist happens.

The interesting aspect and main draw of this series are the riddles, its execution and the race to solve it before anything untoward happen. As the riddles from Sphinx are deeply rooted in Greek mythology and the Bible, it seems that in order to understand and connect their riddle, you need to be well read and knowledgeable in these areas. For a person like me who know nuts about anything, in a way it takes away some parts of the enjoyment because you’ll need it if you are going to fully appreciate and understand where they are going and what they are implying. Shibazaki himself is a smart guy and experienced detective although I am not sure if I can say he is knowledgeable about such stuffs because from what I can see, he spends lots of research time on it although it does not show here.

So it is not the case of him suddenly pulling out answers from the air because we have a limited air time in each episode or something. This way, it makes the series go at a faster pace instead of wasting time wrecking brain power trying to guess if it is correct or not. Because my guess is that most of us won’t really arrive at such detailed and cleverly thought out answers like him. I think. But don’t you agree? As for the riddles themselves, they are worthy enough to keep you guessing and hold your interest till it is solved. The action parts are lesser but still intense and exhilarating enough in its own right. The ironic part is that there were no casualties! No deaths! Until the penultimate episode when Five took desperate measures. I think it is safe to say the police escort became the first victim followed by Five and finally our Sphinx duo.

The characters are excellently portrayed, each with their own flaw. It is a bittersweet tragedy for the fate of the duo to end up like that but either way, they know they have not much time left. So they weren’t just a bunch of kids messing around with everyone just to have fun or just for the sake of wanting to get attention or making a mark they were here and lived on this planet. True, they wanted attention not because of selfish reasons. All they wanted was a place to belong. All they wanted was for people to remember them and the atrocity that took their very lives and existence that would otherwise be forever lost in the darkness of history. I suppose this was the only way to get people to talk about you and become some sort of sensation. Because otherwise, nobody gives a f*cks about you or anything else in this world. And Lisa was the first person to do that. That’s why even though when they initially don’t trust her, she is eventually worthy enough to be saved.

It is debatable if their methods of getting attention is right or wrong but you notice that they don’t mindlessly kill people and at times, they become heroes and saviours instead! Therefore it is ironic and ‘interesting’ to see ‘terrorists’ start saving people. It’s like seeing the devil forgiving and saving people from their sins. They know what they want and a mindless bloodbath massacre wasn’t it. After all, they are not such bad or rotten guys like those corrupted people at the top when you get to know them. So who are the real antagonists? Sphinx? Five? The people behind Athena Project? I think I know the answer for this one. It goes to show that terrorism itself comes in different forms, shapes and sizes. And in most unlikely of places where you least expected them to be. Especially in Five’s case where you could say that terrorism comes in the form of a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Lisa feels like the weakest link among the group. Heck, for the first half of the series, it feels like she is irrelevant to the storyline when Sphinx were playing the main antagonist. You even question why the heck did Nine give her a choice of becoming their accomplice or die because after that, he leaves her out of from their operations and she is reduced to an unimportant character bumming around. As though it would have been better if she was just left for dead. Just like every other character, Lisa has her own set of problems. All she wanted was to belong somewhere, a place to call her own. I suppose her own home is out of the question because who would want to have such insecure psycho mom? She thought hanging out with the duo would be a better option but it didn’t actually solve her problems. Eventually she grows ‘important’ enough for the guys to see differences in what they consider important and this affects the choices they make and its outcome. Despite playing minimal roles even that airport accomplice help and getting abducted by Five are considered minor, Lisa is still an important character and helps drives the plot of the series.

Five is easily one of the most vile and despicable antagonist that viewers would love to hate. Aside from her twisted goal, this woman really puts the fear in you. Yeah. Literally resonating terror within you. She is intelligent. She is strong. She is domineering. She is dictating. She gets what she wants. You can never beat her. You can never stand up to her anyhow. You can never win (at least not if you’re a wuss of a weak heart because really, she isn’t for someone with a faint heart to deal with). Because she is one cool cat who won’t be cowed or easily swayed by your pathetic thoughts and opinions. Hers is always superior. No doubts about it. Thanks to her no compromise attitude, it makes her go as far as possible. Basically she is like a one (wo)man show who can do everything herself although she prefers her lackeys to do some of the mundane jobs like monitoring the CCTVs and such. Therefore she is no pushover and truly worthy to be one of the ‘best’ antagonist of all times. Don’t mess with her. Enough said. And thinking about all the things she did just to get Nine, she might after all be in love with this dude in a twisted way. Yeah. That.

Shibazaki is also a cool guy and a great detective thanks to his experience and his own belief on justice. Just too bad that the system didn’t like it and set him aside. Even guys like him are powerless. But at times like this, this is where guys like them set out to do what they have to without looking back. Unlike many who would simply jump to conclusions, he thinks deep and hard because as we know, terrorists think differently unlike others. It is great for the police to have this guy on their team. Even Sphinx acknowledges him. Mukasa might seem to be falling into the dumb cop category because of his obese appearance and his penchant to spend time playing video games, watching useless web videos and eating doughnuts (ah, classic cop favourite) instead of doing his archiving job and sometimes it is as though his role is to be some sort of comic relief. However if you look closely to it, there are a handful of times when he becomes Shibazaki’s ‘saviour’. At the most unlikely of times, when Shibazaki is often stumped on Sphinx’s move, unintentionally Mukasa gives him the most important clue that propels him to take the next step. So he is not that all useless.

This series also teaches us a good lesson in making us think what is morally right or wrong. There are so many scenes that just make you stop and question if it is right or not. The most obvious one coming from Five and Clarence’s operative measures. Despite coming from a so called trusted government agency, Five’s obsessive actions just to get Nine makes her act like the biggest terrorist and thus the main antagonist for the second half of the series. Even more so, she uses her authority and deploys all the resources at her fingertips just to catch a guy and at the expense of the innocent public. Most of us would definitely scream abuse of authority and muscle arming to get what she wants but if you were in her shoes, what would you do? Then there are others like the top brass of the Japanese Metropolitan Police kowtowing down to the American counterparts. They become silent when Big Brother starts issuing directive. For the sake of diplomatic relations, eh? Well, yeah. Again, what would you do if you were them?

And of course some morally challenged stuffs that our other characters do like Shibazaki who really goes all the way out and even uses the controversial blackmailing technique just to get what he wants. Is this the right way to do it even though it increases the chances of him nailing the culprits? Were there other better options? But would it be as fast and effective? And when cops get suspended for disobeying a direct order and go off themselves to do what they believe is right instead of standing around and waiting for stuffs to happen, it throws everything off in what you believe in righteousness and justice. Then there is Kinoshita from the cyber crimes unit who is supposed to prevent cyber crimes and not conduct the crime itself. We can see him deliberating on this morality issue because of wanting to hack and snoop on Shibazaki’s request as he has a loving family to think about. I’m sure you can guess the dilemma he has to go through. And don’t get me started about Lisa as a bully victim at the start.

The art and drawing has a surrealism feel to it. It is not your standard anime bishonen and bishoujo looks with characters having cute wide sparkly eyes and the likes. At first it reminded me how much the art resembles Aku No Hana although this series was not done in rotoscope fashion as in the latter. It isn’t Zexcs animating this but MAPPA, the studio that produces animes like Teekyuu and Sakamichi No Apollon. Still, the characters look and lean more towards realism than your typical anime art style. One reason could be because of the very gloomy and dull colours. It creates quite a depressing atmosphere over the city and ultimately the anime itself. This isn’t actually a bad thing after all since after watching too many ‘colourful’ animes (colourful hair, colourful eyes, colourful clothes, colourful casts of characters, colourful etc), this is somewhat a ‘wake-up’ call.

Also, I want to add that because of the surrealism, some of the characters look from just plain to downright inhuman or should I say, ugly. The ‘ugliest’ of the lot goes to Mamiya whom I thought at first impression looks somewhat like a little monster. Serious. Some felt weird like Five’s white semi-afro hairstyle that enhances her creepy effect and to a certain extent, Twelve’s smile if you stare at it too long, you might find it creepy. Serious. And Kurahashi’s buzz cut make him look a bit funny… Serious too!

You know how they say that stereotyping is bad because it leads to assumptions. That is what I did as I expected the songs of the series to be rock or metal. I don’t know how to put it because they sound really weird which also adds to the creepy effect. Trigger is the opening theme by Yuuzuki Ozaki of Galileo Galilei fame. It is slow and well, just creepy. Same case for the ending theme, Dare Ka Umi Wo by Aimer. Creepy and ominous. Even the insert songs especially those that are sung sound just as creepy. Oh yeah. Creepy is the word of this series. However the instrumental piece for the final episode is so sad and it was the big reason why my heart sank. It was just sad :’(.

On a trivial note, thanks to the ‘tough’ riddles that Sphinx provided, I can’t help notice that each episode title (which is in English), has a letter coloured out in red as opposed to the rest. It got me thinking there must be some sort of riddle and clue here so I decided to ‘join in’ to solve this puzzle in hopes I would be amazed at myself for achieving something which I normally would. As I gathered the alphabets and symbols, I couldn’t piece together anything because it just doesn’t make sense. Heck, I even searched online and found a site with all the theories and conspiracies trying to decode of what it might imply: Terror In Analysis. How aptly named. However… Although it is very well thought out and thoroughly analysed, it is one freaking long analysis to read! And as usual, I’m too dumb to understand it all but kudos with such great work even though in the end, everything might be just pure speculation and just a wild goose chase to throw us off. Yeah, blame ourselves for assuming things and then getting paranoid just thinking too much about it. They were just screwing with our minds and nothing much ado about anything actually.

Eventually it all boils down to this. Even terrorists are humans too. Unless they are downright mad and are big time sadists, such big time act of terrorism isn’t actually done for fun. Heck, it is never really fun if you are the one at the receiving end. This anime is one of the terrorism themed shows that make you delve into the mind of how terrorists think. Even if not deeply but it gives you a perception on the way they work and how they outsmart the system. That thought itself is terrifying, isn’t it?

So even if you hate the notion of another terrorist themed series or have some sort of phobia of watching this type of genre, I would strongly recommend watching this one because this series isn’t just some over the top exaggeration action hype kind of show (because some believe explosions are everything there is to a great action movie). There is a great deal high quality entertainment-cum-enlightenment in this series that you would rarely find in animes or other TV series these days. This one has some brains, a level of maturity and in a way connects to our emotions in the most realistic ways. It will definitely resonate in our hearts for a long time to come. It is one of those shows whereby you will eventually root for the ‘villains’ not because you sympathise their cause, have Stockholm Syndrome or have something against authorities just because for the sake of doing so, but rather it makes you reflect on ourselves as humans and the things we do in life. Despite the sense of hopelessness and all the anarchy, conspiracy, lawlessness happening around the world today, little things like these gives us hope that there is still hope and future for mankind. Bomb voyage!

I only have myself to blame if I set high expectations of something and then it turns out not what I expected it to be. Just from the glimpse of the words in the title that include ‘Love Comedy’, I thought this would be some sort of nonsensical love comedy slapstick. After all, when love comedies go wrong, it could only mean that, right? Besides, the other clincher that had me thinking that this would be that slapstick comedy is the ridiculously long title. Yahari Ore No Seishun Love Comedy Wa Machigatteiru – My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU. The main title itself sounds long and suspiciously funny. And they had to add the second title with that SNAFU abbreviation. Google it if you want to know what I mean. If the title doesn’t sound funny, I don’t know what is. Or maybe it could be just me. Yeah. It’s just me, I guess. Heck, even the episode titles are long enough that I thought the producers were lazy to come up with one and just took a sentence and made it the title.

Even if the show didn’t turn out to be a slapstick comedy (I got to stop using this word too often in this blog or else I feel somebody might get irritated and annoyed a lot), I thought I should connect and find this enjoyable in a way because the main protagonist is a loner. Otakus are loners, right? Well, this guy isn’t an otaku but he already is a loner. At least if you look at it from society’s point of view. Thus the main motivation to watch this anime is not the love comedy that you thought it had (heck, I don’t think there is much to begin with), but rather the analytical and critical comments that our main guy depicts from his point of view. It is interesting to note how he sees them and analyzes them based on his own experience. So what happens if he meets another loner character but with a different personality and set of ideals? More interesting and critical comments from different aspects of course. The psychological lessons (if I should call them) should prove an interesting watch and refreshing view on how society works from the point of view of a loner. At least this makes up for the lack of slapstick comedy that I was hoping for.

Episode 1
Hachiman Hikigaya narrates about the ‘evilness’ of youth and how the norms of society mould around it. This guy. Very negative and pessimistic perception. It was supposed to be an essay about looking back at his time in high school and he deservingly gets reprimanded by his language teacher, Shizuka Hiratsuka. Hikigaya even has some wise cracks but teacher is no push over to show who is boss. As punishment for writing such crap, he is taken to the Service Club to meet Yukino Yukinoshita. Hiratsuka wants Yukino to fix Hikigaya’s attitude of being rebellious and a loner. When they are left alone, there is an awkward distance between them. Yukino continues to read her book in a corner while Hikigaya starts analyzing about their prospects of being friends. In order to avoid that from happening, the fastest way is to make her hate him. Too bad he got no balls to do that since she is giving that intimidating stare back at him. While maintaining their distance, he asks her about this club. It is some sort of community service whereby the members reach out to help those in need. Yukino is the only member and now Hikigaya is the newbie. Both of them have different ideologies on friends and there’s sarcasm in every sentence they say. Since this is going nowhere, Hiratsuka decides to hold a contest to see who can serve better. The winner gets to order the loser around. Initially Yukino declines but caves into Hiratsuka’s ‘cheap provocation’. Hikigaya has no say whatsoever. Hikigaya discovers despite Yukino being popular, she reveals she was once a bully victim. Because it is her popularity that becomes the source of jealousy for others to bully her.

Yui Yuigahama walks into the room since Hiratsuka recommended her to come here if she has any request. She wants their help to assist her in baking cookies for a boy she likes. Let’s say when the girls made it, it turns out to look more like charcoal. The problem would be easily fixed if Yui stops cooking but I don’t think that would solve the problem. Yui’s confidence is low so Yukino tells her to stop comparing herself with others because it’s embarrassing to blame her own weakness on others. Despite her harsh words, Yui takes a liking because she was being honest. Hikigaya has an idea and will show them how real handmade cookies are made. When he is done, he lets the girls taste them and they find it ordinary. Yukino finds it awful so Hikigaya wants to throw it away. Not wanting to waste them, Yui thought it wasn’t that bad after all. Hikigaya reveals these cookies are actually made by her. He starts telling his own experience how he thought a girl liked him but got embarrassed when it wasn’t him. The point? Guys are simple creatures. They get the wrong idea just from getting talked to and be happy to just get handmade cookies. He will be moved if he sees her trying her best so it doesn’t need to taste good. The girls don’t believe him and start throwing things at him. Yui gets motivated to do it on her own. Next week, Hikigaya and Yukino ponder if Yui’s effort went well. Yui enters the clubroom to hand them her cookies as gratitude. She would also like to help out with the club.

Episode 2
Once again, yet another sarcastic outlook on society acting in packs by Hikigaya and comparing it like the animal kingdom. He wants to be a bear. Because bears are loners. Say what? And yet again, another reprimanding from Hiratsuka about his misguided essay on how animals live in the wild. She asks his opinion on Yukino. He hates her. Noting their twisted personalities, she is worried they might not fit into society, that’s why she wants to keep them in one place together. A group of students gather around popular Yumiko Miura. Yui has problem talking to her that she wants to eat with Yukino instead with her groupie. Hikigaya didn’t want to get involve with this internal strife but he can’t help it after seeing Yui on the verge of tears while the b*tch dominates the conversation with her arrogance. Then he changes his mind after seeing her deadly aura that tells him to shut up or else. Yumiko continues to chide Yui for not being able to say things straight till Yukino enters the picture, wondering why Yui is late for their lunch meeting. Yukino’s sarcasm ticks off Yumiko for forcing her own beliefs on others. Everyone senses the tense atmosphere so it’s a sign to get out. Yui and Yumiko are left in the classroom so they somewhat reconcile. Although Yui thanks Hikigaya for standing up for her earlier, she isn’t happy he was eavesdropping outside with Yukino. I thought they were waiting for her to finish up things?

In the clubroom, Yoshiteru Zaimokuza. He is waiting for Hikigaya and has a serious case of chuunibyou. I don’t blame Hikigaya if he claims he doesn’t know this guy. Since Yukino points out the Service Club does not grant wishes, he downgrades for them to assist him. Take over Japan? This guy is creeping Yui out with his sick delusions. Anyway as pointed out by Hikigaya, he is acting out his chuunibyou because he shares the same name of some shogun so it’s not entirely a fantasy. Because Hikigaya’s name is based on some god of war, that’s why Zaimokuza calls him his comrade. His request isn’t actually to cure his chuunibyou but to get their opinion on a fantasy novel he is writing. He wants to enter it in a contest. Since he has no friends, he can’t get any opinions. The trio take back his script and read. So boring that well, I don’t know if they are lacking sleep or just fell asleep. Except Yui. Because she didn’t read it. I think in a way it spared her the ordeal. Yukino tells him straight all the bad points. I think everything is. You don’t want to have her as your book review critic. After going through that torture, I can see why Yukino has lots to say. And guess what? The story isn’t actually finished either. When it’s Hikigaya’s turn to comment, he just asks which story he copied his work from. That’s just mean, no? Although Zaimokuza is depressed, he is happy to have received feedback and got the balls to even ask them to read his work again. If he gets a new idea. Yeah. Writer’s block. Next day, Zaimokuza gets ahead of himself thinking if his work would win an award, turn into anime, get a voice actress he wants and marry her! Sure. If he ever writes his story first.

Episode 3
Hikigaya gets his wish when he is the odd one out during tennis so gets to play alone. That’s like playing squash, right? Yui joins Hikigaya to chat when he is enjoying lunch by himself. Can’t let a guy eat in peace? Their classmate, Saika Totsuka joins in. If you’re wondering, he is a guy. Trap potential. Enough said. I hope Hikigaya’s gay instincts won’t awaken because there is this lovely flowery effect each time he sees him talk. Saika hopes Hikigaya would join the tennis club since the seniors are about to retire and their club isn’t that strong. Talking to Yukino about this, she is sceptical about him joining because speaking from experience, the tennis club members won’t let him be part of them. They might come together as a team in finding a new mutual enemy in him. When she studied abroad, they tried to eliminate her. Because of that they were so fixated on that instead of improving themselves to surpass her. Yui brings Saika to the club as the latter requests for them to help with the club practice. Yui is disheartened when Yukino points out she isn’t a formal member because she never wrote in a formal letter. Yui is accepted when she quickly writes one. Yui and Saika undergo training under Yukino’s eyes while Hikigaya is just erm, watching ants. Is this more interesting? Yumiko and her groupie see them practise and she is interested to play. Since Yumiko is close to confrontational, Hayato Hayama tries to solve it amicably with Hikigaya but the latter gets sarcastic about Hayato having good looks and popular with the ladies and thus used to getting what he wants and now he wants to take this tennis court. Thus a competition is decided. They will play doubles and the winners will get to use this place during lunch and help Saika with his practice.

Yumiko-Hayato goes up against Yui-Hikigaya. Yumiko proves she is no pushover because she once made it to the prefectural tournament during middle school. Yui sprains her ankle so Hikigaya just wants her to stand around while he does something. Do what? Go on his knees and beg for forgiveness. WTF. However Yui brings Yukino to replace her. The usual mockery between the girls before they square off. Gradually, Yukino dominates the game however as the game drags on, she finds herself running out of stamina. She leaves it to Hikigaya to settle the score. For real? She may have spewed gaffes and insults but has never lied. From what Hikigaya explains, due to his time spent alone, he always played tennis by himself. So he has learnt to analyze and use to wind for this magic shot of his to even the score. Hikigaya serves a high ball, a technique he always uses when he plays by himself (so it makes it look like he is playing himself as his own opponent). Yumiko tries to get it but is in danger of running into the fence. Hayato saves her and this has the spectators cheer on them like lovebirds. Hikigaya’s win is totally ignored. Saika thanks Hikigaya but he says he should be thanking them and not him. Hikigaya notes the God of romantic comedies must be screwing around with him for this homo pairing (Yui is all over Yukino too). I suppose God heard his complaint so makes it the way Hikigaya wants them by having him walk into the clubroom while the girls are in the midst of changing and they throw the racquet at his face. Ah, classic. That’s how it’s done.

Episode 4
We are introduced to Hikigaya’s little sister, Komachi, lively but a little ditzy. As he cycles her to school, he remembers on the first day of high school, he got involved in a car accident after trying to save a dog and spent his first few days hospitalized. That’s when his loner syndrome kicked in. Yet again, Hiratsuka reprimands Hikigaya for another crap essay about wanting to be a full time house husband. Rewrite it again. Or else. She reminds him of the workplace survey and to be in groups of three. In the clubroom, Yui gets permission to have Hikigaya’s number. They’re friends, right? But Yui can’t believe he has texted girls before. From what he says, the girls can tell the girl he texted ignored his mail and to stop averting his eyes from reality. Hayato enters the clubroom seeking for a request. He shows them chain mails about bad rumours of his friends. He doesn’t want to find out the culprit but just make this stop. But Yukino insists that the perpetrator must be caught because the only way to stop this is to eliminate that person. She speaks from experience. So she really eliminated the source? Hikigaya thinks the workplace visit must have got something to do with this since that is when the rumours started circulating. Seeing that Hayato is a popular guy, the culprit may be one of them trying to kick the other out so they could be with him. Yukino has Hayato list down the personalities of his friends but it seems she twists and rephrases their good points into negative ones! Wow. That’s some deep analysis and she’s pretty good in that. Or she’s just sceptical about people having good points. Since there isn’t much conclusion from the descriptions (how could they?), Yukino suggests Yui and Hikigaya to observe them since they are in the same class.

Yui goes first by asking Yukino and Hina Ebina via girl’s talk. However they misinterpret she is interested in them and pester her to spill which one she likes. This somewhat turns on Ebina’s yaoi switch because she gets excited about the thought all of them being gay and gunning for Hayato’s ass. Dangerous girl… Now it’s Hikigaya’s turn as he uses his observation skills for the job. He notices how Hayato is mixing so freely with them and they are as lively as they are. He is interrupted when Saika comes by to ask if he could be part of the group for the workplace visit. Hikigaya asserts he has no guy friends (I thought he sees Saika close to a girl?). When Hayato goes to talk to Hikigaya, the latter realizes a vital clue. He makes his revelation to his pals about Hayato’s friends being his friend. But among themselves they are just mere acquaintances or friend of a friend. In short, whenever Hayato is around, they become lively but when he is away, none of them speaks to each other. He even proposes a way that will have them become friends and won’t fight anymore. That move is to make all 3 of them in the same group for the workplace visit. In no time the trio are chatting with each other normally. Hikigaya just dragged out Hayato, the source of the ‘problem’. Since Hayato is not in any group, he hopes Hikigaya could join him. Saika too. Because he has been bugging him for it from the start. Hikigaya ponders if this is friendship but when everyone sees the workplace Hayato wants to visit, they too want to visit that place and Hikigaya as usual is ignored.

Episode 5
Hikigaya tries to give excuses for his tardiness to Hiratsuka. Being late = justice? She doesn’t buy that crap. Speaking of problem kids, here’s another one waltzing in late: Saki Kawasaki. Hikigaya bumps into Yukino, Yui and Saika studying at the fast food outlet when Komachi brings her classmate Taishi to them. He is Saki’s younger brother. He has a request of them and is worried about Saki who has changed this year. Before you can blame it is Hikigaya’s fault from how she changed into a nice model student into a seemingly delinquent that returns home in the wee hours of the morning, because this trouble only began coincidentally when they are put in the same class this year. So Yukino suggests using some animal assisted therapy to draw out her inner kindness by using Hikigaya’s cat and make her adopt it. However Taishi calls to tell them she is allergic to them (but Yukino seems to be having a fun time with it). They watch Hiratsuka trying to get Saki to talk about her problems and think about her future. However Saki shoots back she’ll never understand due to her being single and all that. That must have hurt her heart very badly. Yui uses Hayato to help Saki but he got rejected. Hikigaya can’t help laugh his ass off. Popular guy gets rejected? Nobody’s perfect. Komachi calls her brother to tell him Taishi heard Saki got a call from a weird café named Angel or something. There are only 2 cafes in town that opens up till the wee hours of morning. The first is some maid café. Because Hikigaya doesn’t know much about this, he calls Zaimokuza for help. He should know better. But who else can he turn to? The girls are dressed in maid outfits. Sorry for those who would love to see the trap in maid outfit, be sorely disappointed. Although you get to see it shortly through Zaimokuza’s delusion. I don’t even want to think about it. Since Saki’s name is not on the shift schedule, they conclude it is the other café located on the top floor of a posh hotel.

Only Hikigaya, Yukino and Yui enter because they have the dress to look like the part. They see Saki working as a bartender. Yukino and Saki talk in codes in which Hikigaya was kind enough to translate to Yui (and us) that what they are implying is because minors are prohibited to work this late, Saki may have lied about her age. Saki hits a nerve of Yukino when she mentions she wouldn’t understand a thing since she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. If her family’s business is not her concern then hers should be too. When they leave, Hikigaya tells Saki to meet them at the fast food outlet tomorrow to talk. Saki is surprised to see Taishi there too. Hikigaya makes a guess why she is working. In short, she needs the money to go to college and doesn’t want to burden her parents who are both working. Komachi adds that both their parents work too and since she hated coming back to an empty house, she tried to run away once. However it was her brother who came after her. Since then, Hikigaya always started coming home earlier (and partly as Yukino pointed out, he has no friends!) and this made Komachi feel better. So the Kawasaki siblings somewhat reconcile realizing they don’t want to burden each other. As they leave, Hikigaya learns from Komachi that Yui is the girl who frequented the hospital to give him snacks when he broke his leg. Yup. It was her dog he saved. After the workplace visit, Hikigaya confronts Yui to tell her that saving her dog was just coincidence. He would still be a loner even if there was no accident. That’s why he wants her to stop being nice to him. There is no reason for her to feel guilty and responsible for what happened. Quit being nice to him out of guilt. Apparently he made her cry… We hear Hikigaya’s narration why he hates nice girls. Something about having expectations of it only to end up in some misunderstanding and a lie. That’s why at some point he stopped hoping and as an experienced loner, he won’t fall the same trap twice. When it comes to losing, he is the strongest.

Episode 6
A week has passed and since Yui is acting like normal, Hikigaya thinks the problem has blown over. Not quite because Yui hasn’t been showing up at the club either. Hiratsuka suggests Hikigaya and Yukino to have a battle royale. With just 2 people? She thinks if they want to recruit others, it’s fine. What about Yui? Although she hasn’t quit the club yet, her absence is a sign that she is as good as gone. Hiratsuka throws them another task to find another member by Monday seeing based on her observation that they are more active when they have more members. Yukino talks to Hikigaya about getting Yui back and a certain date that is Yui’s birthday. She wants to celebrate it and give thanks and asks Hikigaya to go out with her. To buy Yui a gift of course. Komachi tags along too but she went off herself since she has tons of stuffs to buy. Is she really shopping for the present? Because Yukino’s sense is different from ordinary high school girls, she allows Hikigaya to get close to her for today. In other words, act like her boyfriend. Hikigaya knows Yukino won’t lie and thus no misunderstanding should arise. Just act. That’s it. Halfway through their browsing, they bump into Yukino’s older sister, Haruno. Of course she is interesting in prodding them about their relationship. Especially Hikigaya. Since they’re not, she hopes if they do start dating, they should come drink with her. A dog is seen running towards them. Yukino starts feeling scared and hovers closely to Hikigaya. The dog seems to like that guy and jumps on him. The owner turns out to be Yui and she misinterprets Hikigaya and Yukino’s closeness despite trying to put up a brave front that it is nothing to her. Yukino wants her to come to the clubroom on Monday to clear things up. There, because Yukino and Yui are being ambiguous with their words, both are talking about different things (one about birthday celebration and the other about dating celebration). Hikigaya spots this and clears this up. Yukino gives her present as her birthday and token of appreciation. Hikigaya also gives his but in addition to her birthday, this is to call it even. This is for saving her dog and her guilty feeling. He didn’t do it to get any favours. Of course Yui says she didn’t do this out of pity or guilt. She doesn’t know how to explain so Yukino does the honours. Hikigaya had no intention of helping Yui and Yui had no recollection of pitying him. Everything was wrong from the start. Hikigaya’s decision to end it here is correct so they can start anew since neither of them was at fault so there’s no cause of argument in the first place. Yui opens Hikigaya’s present but finds the collar a little too tight. That’s because it’s for her dog…

Episode 7
Hikigaya ignores spams of calls and texts from Hiratsuka. So when he takes a peek, it’s about some activities for the Service Club. Each succeeding text gets shorter and scarier. Is it a wonder why she is still single? As Hikigaya sarcastically puts it, she loves him too much. He agrees to accompany Komachi to Chiba but it turns out to be a ploy from Hiratsuka using her to get him to meet up with the rest of the club members. They arrive at a summer camp, they will be doing a communal service as camp counsellors for the kids. Since Hayato’s group is also here, Hikigaya thought he’s not here to make friends with them (as part of Hiratsuka’s plan to make the Service Club members more sociable). Hiratsuka puts it they don’t need to be friends. Just learn to live and deal with them smoothly without fighting or ignoring them. While they are helping out with the kids, they notice a loner girl among the pack, Rumi Tsurumi (mini Yukino?). Although Hayato easily talks to her (as Hikigaya puts it, so smooth that it’s creepy) and brings her to mix with the other girls, pretty soon they ignore her and she’s back fidgeting with her own gadget alone. While making food, once more they notice Rumi doing things alone. Hikigaya and Yukino go talk to her. Yukino as usual with her icy harsh words (Rumi could equally match her if they go on). Yui is better in trying to persuade her to make friends but Rumi insists she doesn’t need such memories and can get her own new friends when she enters middle friends. Yukino tells her the girls who ignore her would end up in the same middle school and with other people from other schools as well, she’ll receive the same treatment. Rumi explains this isn’t the first time they shunned people but usually they’ll soon be on talking terms. She doesn’t know what she did wrong to get shunned for so long.

The counsellors along with Hiratsuka discuss about Rumi’s case and want to do something about it. Hikigaya recognizes that being alone isn’t bad. The problem is she is forced to be alone due to others’ ill will. Hayato wants to do what he can but was quickly shot down by Yukino. He looks pretty saddened with that reply. Yukino thought they would help if she just asks but Yui points out it isn’t as easy. She won’t even ask even if she wants to because Rumi might feel unfair she got help since no one else did. Everyone continues to discuss till Ebina comes up with this idea that no girls would hate homos! See where this is going. They shut her up but the argument heats up between Yukino and Yumiko. The latter chiding the former about her f*cked up attitude. The rest thought Rumi is just disillusioned and hard to blend in but Yumiko thinks she is more like looking down on them and got shunned because of her arrogance. Yukino throws this back at Yumiko. Before a full fledge cat fight can happen, Hayato tells her to stop. That night Hikigaya can’t sleep because he is aroused hearing Saika murmuring his name in his sleep! Creepy! He goes out and sees Yukino staring at the sky. It’s that sarcasm again wishing for him to just sleep forever. She is out here because she got into an argument with Yumiko and she was reduced to tears. While Yui is consoling her, thus she is out here. Yukino reveals she and Hayato went to the same elementary school. Their parents knew each other. His father is the lawyer of her family. Anything involving the family’s reputation falls under her sister’s job. She feels herself as a replacement. Nevertheless she is glad to have come here.

Episode 8
Hikigaya is so happy he could die because Saika requests for his handphone number. Now his handphone is more than just an alarm clock or time killing feature. As the kids have the day free before the kimodameshi tonight, the counsellors set up wood for the bonfire and then play some water at the nearby river. This is your chance to catch the girls in their swimsuit. Hikigaya sits out since he didn’t bring his and sitting next to him is Rumi. She wonders if Hikigaya has friends in elementary school so he starts calculating some theory of his about the probability of them being still friends down the road. Grim. Rumi’s mom kept asking her if she gets along with her friends and wanted her to take some pictures. But she feels she can’t do it as she is shunned. It’s miserable but she can’t do anything about it because did it to others before. Since it’s useless to try again, she thought it’s okay to stop trying since she thinks she can’t get along with them anymore. Hikigaya concludes she has already given up and about people judging others based on their own stereotypes. The problem is the world cannot change so it’s you who will have to change. How to do that? Be the god of your new world. For kimodameshi, the counsellors find their ghostly costumes more like for cosplay. Is a wizard a monster? What the hell? They get down discussing to solve Rumi’s problem. For Hikigaya it is easy. Since the problem is human relationship, destroy that and the problem ends. Because if everyone is a loner, there will be no wars or suffering.

Kimodameshi begins and Yui is so cute than scary that the kids are laughing at her! Rumi is in the last group and as usual, she feels isolated. They meet Hayato and Yumiko in their normal clothes. Weren’t they supposed to be monsters? They tease them when suddenly the counsellors act like gangsters. Because they don’t like being made fun of, they’re going to teach them a lesson about respect. This causes the girls to start feeling afraid. I guess acting like gangsters is far scarier than ghosts, huh? Although they apologize, Hayato says he will only let 2 pass and the other 3 to be left behind for their punishment. They will decide who will stay. Everyone first singles out Rumi and she doesn’t resist. When it comes down to the quartet, Hayato and Yumiko start getting scarier and they are forced to choose among themselves and start blaming each other. This is part of Hikigaya’s plan to split them apart because of some society norm that lays the blame on others and subordination. In the end, 3 of them gang up to single out Yuka but they have to decide the final one. They are threatened not to tell because they know their faces. All that’s left now is to pop out and say “Gotcha! You’ve been had”. However Rumi uses her flash camera to blind them and takes the girls to run away. Hikigaya concludes even though she is not their friend, she still wanted to save them, which makes her pretty much a real friend. So it’s an odd atmosphere for the quartet during the bonfire. Hiratsuka is impressed with Hikigaya’s technique but it could’ve been risky had it not gone well. Only the lowest of the lowest can come up with such low method. Is that a compliment or insult? Yukino notes no one will thank him (in which Rumi didn’t even say a word) but it’s not like he is doing it to get something in return. He thinks as long as some good can come out of it, they can still forgive you. Even Hayato has something to say. He experienced a similar situation himself back in school but he stood there and only watched. He wonders if it will be different if Hikigaya went to the same elementary school with him. Probably not. Just another loner. The camp ends and before everyone parts at the school gates, Haruno is here to pick up Yukino. She teases Hikigaya and Yukino being an item and is relieved Yui is just his classmate. She was worried she’d be in Yukino’s way. I think she’s just joking. Haruno knows Hiratsuka because she was once her student. When Haruno tells Yukino their mom wants to see her, she leaves with a sad face. Yui points out to Hikigaya if the limo looks familiar. He feigns ignorance. Because he well knows that was the car that almost ran over Yui’s dog he saved and got him hospitalized. They never saw Yukino for the rest of summer.

Episode 9
As thanks for taking care of Yui’s dog, she invites Hikigaya and Komachi to watch the fireworks. But it is Komachi’s ploy to hook Hikigaya up with her by feigning she can’t go, have stuffs to, blah, blah, blah. She wants him to go with Yui to get some stuff for her. Hikigaya isn’t dumb and he knows where this is going but can he say no when little sister is giving him that evil glare? Hikigaya waits for Yui (stumbling her way in with her yukata) at the train station. There are a few situations that might have given rise to a certain flag but Hikigaya will not be cowed into such destiny or fate. He thinks he is not an ordinary guy, otherwise he would have fallen for her. At the festival, Yui stumbles upon her classmates. They think they’re on a date though Yui maintains it’s not like that. Hikigaya sarcastically notes if it was Hayato, everything would have been totally different. With the crowd building up and the fireworks starting, they bump into Haruno and she takes her to the VIP seats. She is here to represent her father whose job is to deal with the government lot. Haruno whispers to him that it’s not good to have an affair though he asserts it’s not. All the more reason why she can’t let this slide now. Talking about Yukino, Haruno mentions she wants to attend a public university for sciences nearby. She has never changed. Always matching. Always hand me downs. Yui wonders if she dislikes her sister. On the contrary she loves her. What about Yui? She does too but it’s hard to tell sometimes but she’s nice. Haruno hopes they can continue to stay that way because in the end they all get jealous and avoid her. When it’s time to leave, Haruno offers a ride home in her limo. Hikigaya is hesitant to enter so Haruno assures there aren’t any of those accident marks. She realizes she might have said the wrong thing and says it wasn’t Yukino’s fault either as she was just sitting at the back. Hikigaya doesn’t sound convincing when he believes Yukino didn’t cause the accident and won’t dwell on the past. Hikigaya walks Yui home. They talk about some things are better left not known. Yui believes he will still step in to help regardless of whether he knows who he is helping or not, accident or not. Like how he saved her. Yui wanted to say something but was interrupted by a call from her mom. School term is back. Hikigaya and Yukino meet for the first time in ‘ages’. They didn’t say anything much before parting. Hikigaya narrates he loves himself and never hated himself. But right now he is on the verge of that because the Yukino he has known was always beautiful, honest, unable to lie and independent. He always admired her, chose to expect things from her, chose to know her and then got disappointed. He still can’t accept the fact Yukino lies and that’s why he is starting to hate himself.

Episode 10
Hiratsuka forces Hikigaya to become the male class rep for the cultural festival. As for the female rep, Minami Sagami seems ‘reluctant’ but volunteers when nobody else does. At the festival committee meeting chaired by the student council president, Meguri Shiromeguri, she wonders if anyone would like to volunteer to be the chairwoman. She thought Yukino would be ideal since her sister was once on it. However she wants to be only a committee member. Sagami volunteers once more seeing this is a perfect opportunity for her to grow. Yukino plans to suspend all activities for the Service Club until after the festival when Sagami and her friends enter to request for assistance for the festival. She agrees as long as it’s within those boundaries. Yui didn’t like this setting but Yukino says she is doing this alone and is more effective this way as she has an idea on the job scope. During the meeting, Yukino becomes the vice to Sagami and she is handling things more thoroughly than the chairwoman herself. Makes you wonder who the one really in charge is. Hikigaya’s class is doing a play. Thanks to Ebina and her yaoi theme between Hayato and Hikigaya (“Must gay!”). Since Hikigaya is on the committee, she settles for Hayato and Saika. When Hikigaya goes to the committee, he sees Haruno wanting to participate. Yukino doesn’t sound happy but she’s not the one who is approving. With Sagami waltzing in late, she learns of what is happening and agrees to let Haruno in. Maintaining relationships with people in the region? Sagami then makes a suggestion that will have the committee enjoy the festival and get a little breather. Yukino doesn’t approve since they are short of time and manpower. Sagami thought to keep personal matters out and think about what everybody wants. Hayato then comes in to hand in his group’s participation. He can tell Yukino is taking care of everything and knows things will turn into a disaster soon and should rely on others before things get out of hand. Hayato offers to help out and though Hikigaya thinks this work delegation is okay, it makes him wonder if doing everything by yourself is wrong. Why should someone who has been alone for so long be criticized? Relying on others is important but from what he sees is that everyone was relying on others in the first place. Sagami arrives late again and this time Yukino reminds her about her responsibility to stamp the approval. Because such duties can be easily done via proxy, Sagami gives her this responsibility of approving it on her behalf. Because Yukino takes home most of her work, she ends up with a cold the next day and is absent from school.

Episode 11
Hikigaya calls Yui about Yukino being sick. So they go to visit her home to talk. Yukino asserts she is okay and can work from home but Yui isn’t happy the way things turned out. Yui hopes she could rely on them instead of others. Yukino says she would one day but now it’s a difficult time for her. When Yukino is back for the festival committee, they discuss the slogan for the festival. There are some weird ones and when Sagami comes up with hers, Hikigaya indirectly teases hers. So he comes up with his own using the word ‘person’. Based on the kanji writing, it he talks about slacking off and the use of sacrifice in which he points out that everyone has been shoving work to him and using him as a scapegoat. Haruno laughs like mad. Yukino also tries to hide her laughter and once she composes herself, she rejects his notion and ends the meeting. Later Yukino talks to Hikigaya about his weird method trying to make everyone see they are not working their hardest by making excuses. Next day, the committee starts working harder. Haruno talks to Hikigaya how he made everyone his enemy by playing the villain. In a way, it made them united against him so if he works harder, it might just motivate them all to work even harder to surpass him. Yukino then dumps more work on him. On the day the festival starts, the opening ceremony seems to go well till it is Sagami’s turn to give the opening speech. She falters badly due to her stage fright and is obviously nervous. The festival gets underway and Ebina’s yaoi play is a freaking hit among the girls! She could have soaked the floor with her blood… Yui has lunch with Hikigaya and he wonders what the girls talked that night when they visited Yukino after he left early. Nothing much. Yui decides to wait for her and thinks she is trying her best to approach them and talk. But she won’t wait for someone who won’t try even if you wait so she won’t and will do it herself. Hikigaya wants to pay for his portion of lunch and since he insists on paying her back, he realized too late that Yui had asked him out. Meanwhile Sagami has locked herself alone in the toilet cubicle. She seems depressed of her inability to do anything.

Episode 12
The festival is now in its last day. Haruno as the conductor puts up a flashy and amazing jazzy orchestra performance. However Hikigaya and Yukino learn that Sagami is missing and without her, they can’t close the ceremony because only she has the results and figures for some awards needed for it. Once Hayato learns of this, he is willing to put on another performance to buy them time to look for her. Even so, Hikigaya is not confident if he can find her in that time. Yukino then asks Haruno for a favour. There is no penalty in rejecting it but merit. Do so and she will be indebted to her. With that, Haruno accepts her favour and the girls will put up a band performance. Haruno on drums, Meguri on keyboards, Hiratsuka on bass and Yukino on guitars. Now all they need is a vocalist and Yukino hopes Yui can do it. She is more than glad to do so. Hikigaya needs to narrow down the places to search for Sagami and calls Zaimokuza for suggestions. He finally finds her in one of the suggested place, the rooftop. She seems pretty frustrated and putting up a tantrum of not wanting to do her job. That’s when Hayato and Sagami’s friends enter the scene. They asked around and heard from somebody who saw Hikigaya went up here. Hayato’s friendliness and kindness to request Sagami to come back seem to be working. It’s like she’s totally changed. Is it because of him? But Hikigaya decides to do things his own way and plays the villain again. He tells Sagami off that she is doing it for the attention and just wanted somebody to tell her she is not doing a horrible job. She wanted to be like Yukino, acknowledged and relied upon and that’s why she jumped in to take the chairwoman title so that she wanted to watch someone else work and boss them around to feel superior. That’s what she meant about her personal growth. He pours further salt to her injuries when he says he doesn’t give a damn about her but is the first one to find her. This means nobody was looking for her in the first place and it shows her worth. Hayato roughs Hikigaya up to tell him to shut up. Sagami is consoled by her friends and brought back. Hayato wonders why Hikigaya can’t do things differently.

The makeshift K-ON! band has just finished their performance. Sagami closes the ceremony but she fumbles due to her nervousness. At the end of the festival, Hikigaya’s ‘heroism’ has spread throughout school and he becomes the school’s most hated man. Hiratsuka notes his amazing ideas but just can’t find the words to praise him for it. All she can say is that saving someone is not an excuse to hurt himself. Even if he denies this, she points out that there are people whose heart breaks each time they see him hurting himself. Hikigaya returns to the clubroom and finds Yukino alone. They aren’t joining the after festival party. After Hikigaya’s new reputation, you think he is welcomed? I’m not sure if Hikigaya is putting up a brave front saying he likes this kind of fame too. Yukino says they think similarly but he disagrees. They’re completely different. Maybe that’s why he feels their conversation is always refreshing. Before he gets a chance to finish asking if they could be friends, she rejects him. She told him before it is impossible for them to be friends and is not lying. He notes she can lie all the time like what he does. Yukino knows she wasn’t lying because she didn’t know him well. Now she does. Yui comes in to invite them to the after festival party but each give their excuses that they had to complete their work. Yui is more than happy to wait for them to finish.

Episode 13
Service Club seems to have a request made on their website. Somebody is seeking for advice and ideas how to make the sports festival a blast. That somebody turns out to be Meguri as she enters the clubroom. Because nobody replied her, she figured out of visiting the club directly. After seeing how successful the cultural festival was, she thought of doing the same for the sports festival. Since she has hard time remembering names, she is excited when she manages to remember Hikigaya’s (after not-so-nice comments from Yukino and accidental ones from Yui). She is quite close to him that it makes Yui jealous. So Meguri brings the trio to the committee to give some ideas. Each time someone comes up with some event, somebody shoots it down. Trying to play safe? I mean, the reason why they can’t hold a bread eating competition is because they might stoke the wrath of those who love rice. WTF?! So the ideas get more and more silly that they didn’t make any progress. Thus Hikigaya suggests that they get their ideas from somebody outside the committee. What was he thinking when he roped in Zaimokuza and Ebina? Passionate as they are, it seems their ideas went through. How come I feel worried? On sports day, Meguri is excited and thanks them because it is going to be so much fun. She is on the same red team with Yui, Yukino, Hikigaya, Zaimokuza and Saika. Every other supporting character you know is on the other white team. Zaimokuza’s idea is a slightly twisted cavalry version. The female generals are dressed as modified Saber of Fate/Stay Night. Why? Because he likes it! I wonder if they can move in that armour. Anyway red team wins it with Yukino being skilled in taking those headbands.

As for Ebina’s idea, it is some bringing down the pole thingy. I’m not sure about the mechanics but in order to prevent the other team from bringing down your home pole, you must stop the other players from advancing. This means boys piling on top of each other, right? See where this is going? Hikigaya hatches a plan by making Saika the team leader. See the guys getting charmed by his feminine looks? Man, this is ‘dangerous’. And then, he has Zaimokuza rally those without motivation with his whatever-the-hell-he-is-passionately-ranting speech. As the game starts with both sides trying to prevent the other from reaching enemy home base, Ebina gets all lively in commenting her favourite stuff. As part of the plan, Zaimokuza starts getting dramatic and this distracts the white team. They’re thinking what the hell this mad guy is doing. This allows Hikigaya to easily waltz over to the enemy’s base because after years of being an experienced loner, he has somewhat developed this kind of ‘stealth’. However, Hayato has been watching him and stands in his way. He orders some of his underlings to hold Hikigaya back and knows about his decoy plan. But Hayato is left surprised when Hikigaya gives the signal to Zaimokuza. He rushes towards to pole and pushes it down to win it for his team. Hikigaya was just a decoy for a decoy. Geddit? Saika is so happy that he hugs Hikigaya. I think that is the climax for Ebina. However at the end of the day, the red team got disqualified because Hikigaya used a bandage to camouflage his red headband as a white one. He thought nobody would see but in fact, everybody saw it clearly! So much about his stealth. So as our Service Club members look forward to next year, Hikigaya had to pour cold water suggesting they might not be even on the same team. Yukino thinks it is better that way since it will be interesting if they become enemies. Hikigaya ends with his typical narration that the day after the festival is just like any other ordinary day. There are things you can’t do over in life and whether you like it or not, life goes on.

Hikigaya narrates his negativity on marriage. It’s like death, right? Till Komachi makes tomatoes for him, he starts complaining and she comments he’ll never get married this way. But having a little sister is as good as being married? At the Service Club, Hiratsuka announces they will be helping out in some ways for a bridal magazine. The local government, bridal shops and hotels are banding together to make marriage look more appealing to youngsters but seriously, why does the Service Club have to get involved? No straight answers from Hiratsuka. Because she’s an inexperienced single? Marriage virgin, if I should say. I guess the rest have to give in seeing she’s going to break down further if they continue questioning her. Hikigaya suggests writing fake articles but even so that will take time and effort. Since Hikigaya or Yukino cannot come up with ‘normal’ ideas, they have Yui the normal one give her suggestions. Well, not good. How can everyone? Nobody got married at this age. It is decided that they will conduct a questionnaire and limit it to their class since the deadline is very close. Just by reading the ‘honest’ comments, you can tell who they are. Guess who is concerned about the Hayato x Hikigaya pairing in marriage? Uh huh. Yukino suggests next to get a teen who went through similar experience. That person also is also an expert in performing a thankless job of taking care of a useless deadweight. Hikigaya would really love to meet and get to know this girl. Turns out to be Komachi. Disappointed?

From Komachi’s point of view, she suggests to increase wife points. Huh? What’s that? To sum it up, she’s going to have the girls undergo some bridal crash course. First, cooking. Yui’s hamburger turns out to be some deadly blob. Zaimokuza hits instant death upon putting it in his mouth. Hikigaya doesn’t have to do it because he is so bent in protecting Saika’s smile, he swallows everything! Not because he doesn’t want to hurt Yui. Yukino and Hiratsuka’s cooking are simply delicious. Next is a quiz but Hikigaya is taking part too since he plans to be a house husband. For each question Komachi throws, everyone answers based on their personality (‘best’ answers go to Hikigaya), which is totally off mark to what Komachi has in her answer. Either realistic or naive. Lastly, the girls have to dress up in a bridal gown. The surprise package, Hiratsuka looks stunning in one! It’s like she’s a different person! Komachi is about to announce the results that everyone failed miserably and she herself as the winner. But because Hiratsuka is giving her deathly stares, she chickens out proclaims Hiratsuka as the winner. It ends with everyone having a group photo. Ah, this is what a harem should look like. The main guy marrying his sister, his friends and his teacher. Just so sad Hikigaya is disappointed since he didn’t get to see Saika in a wedding dress…  Back home, Hikigaya starts working on the article as fast as his can since the deadline is looming and has been given a warning by Yukino. He comments no amount of preparation could prepare one from the unforeseen grief in marriage. But everyone has a right to be happy. To prepare for such, one must work for the best possible outcome. Wow. He sounds like a marriage expert. In conclusion, all ladies must stake their claims on all promising future house husbands out there waiting for them. I guess he is trying to advertise himself.

When Life Gives You Lemons…
Seriously. I admit. I had a hard time trying to enjoy this anime. I know I said the psychological comments are the interesting aspects of this series but there is only so much this factor can play in contributing to my enjoyment of this series. Maybe it is because of that expectation of wondering where-the-heck-is-my-love-comedy-slapstick riding at the back of my head and hoping somewhere in the series there will be this super twist in the pace. I’m even amazed of how I even come up with that kind of hope. By the end of the first episode, something tells me that this is going to be what the series is about. The kind of characters, pacing, plot, development… Everything else. And true enough right till the very end this is pretty much how this show is about. A couple of loners in a club using their own perceptive and suggestions to help out what is requested.

Hikigaya’s psychological analysis are amusing and interesting, sometimes amounting to hilarious the way he puts them. Because most of his comments have this negative outlook and sounding to them, sometimes they sound more like sarcasm. It reminds me of that Kyousuke character from Ore No Imouto Ga Konna Ni Kawaii Wake Ga Nai (coincidence this anime had a long title too?). Come to think about it, don’t they look suspiciously similar too?! The hairstyle and that big frown on their face that says “I wish I wasn’t here”. Even the way they talk and the way they rebuke are somewhat quite similar. Yeah, they have sisters too although their personalities are poles apart.

Though sometimes it was hard for me to understand Hikigaya’s analysis, each one of them is nevertheless interesting to hear and note. It makes you go “Aha!” or at least ponder the point he brings up about how society works. It certainly grabs your attention (at least for me) and somewhat refreshing to hear them as they are from a different point of view, especially if you could consider Hikigaya’s approach to it as pragmatic. I think it is. If you think about it, it is not the fact if he is wrong or right but how close and true it is. Sometimes thinking further over it can be just scary at how society works. This guy should take up a psychology major and become a psychologist. Well, it might be hard if he still carries on his negative outlook. Also to note in Hikigaya and Yukino’s comments are the choice of words they use. Sometimes it makes what they say have an impact or it just makes you wonder. Like how Yukino didn’t eventually consider Hikigaya as her friend, but as an acquaintance. Is there a big difference? Well maybe to linguist but to a normal guy like me, they’re about the same, right? Unless I didn’t know something about friends not being ranked as close as acquaintance. Maybe just like “-san” and “-sama”.

It is also amusing to hear the way Yukino analyses and comments especially most of them are somewhat indirect jabbing towards Hikigaya. It’s like she has a knack and talent for running him down since she is quite ‘skilled’ in doing so ever since the day they first met. It’s like as though it is her destiny. If this was really a funny series, the duo would definitely make a good manzai comedy combination. If not, I feel they can actually go on with this pattern for a long time: Hikigaya makes a statement. Yukino gives her thoughts and sometimes doubles it as some sort of ridicule aimed at him. Hikigaya retorts. See the pattern? From the looks of it, with the very different ideologies and experience they have, I’m sure this process can go on forever repeating itself. If that happens, I don’t know it will be interesting or boring and thus harder to comprehend anymore.

Speaking of the characters themselves, there isn’t much to focus on but sometimes it leaves you wondering if there is more to it. Certainly Hikigaya and Yukino didn’t change much during the duration of this show. Still the same loners but brought together under circumstances. It’s hard for me to say that despite they’ve got each other’s company, it feels like they are still alone. There is an invisible wall between them even though they are just sitting right across each other in the clubroom. You can say that their interaction is like company to each other but to me, they’re there just because they had nothing else better to do. So in the end, did they really improve on their character or did they just realize even more how a pain society could be? Of course there is Yui to liven things up but the duo are still like how they were and it pretty much doesn’t change things. It feels like her existence was probably to break the tension because you know how bad it can get if 2 loners carry on such exchange throughout the series. Hikigaya thinks nobody cares about him or looks at him but as we see that many of the characters like Yui, Saika, Hayato, Haruno and his sister Komachi do make a decent amount of interaction with him. That’s quite the attention for a nobody, no? Despite Yukino’s holier-than-thou attitude and twisted sense of responsibility, though it caused lots of misunderstandings and made enemies, there are some like the cast of characters who are able to tolerate it. It shows that they accept her for who she is. Can you imagine Yukino or Hikigaya without that attitude of theirs? Strange, no?

I know some of the characters have their past but the way it was illustrated here makes it as though there isn’t any impact on anything. At least for this season. Like when Yukino’s limo almost ran over Yui’s dog and caused Hikigaya to save it and ultimately his hospitalization and loner awakening character, maybe it is such fate that brought the trio together. So Yui being nice to him and all was just out of guilt. And when he didn’t want her to be indebted in such a way, was it really the end of it after her birthday? It was like they got over this little incident in the past and in subsequent episodes, it doesn’t feel like there is such a ‘scar’ anymore. It is mentioned that Hayato and Yukino’s family shared some sort of connection. So? Any implications as far as the plot or development are concerned? Maybe that is why this popular guy always seen trying to help them out. I don’t know if I could say if opposite attracts. He too has his own past guilt and maybe he wants to atone it in some way. His ideal and approach differ very much from Hikigaya to the point that one might compare them with Hayato the angel and Hikigaya the devil based on their actions and words. So you want sugary words or the harsh facts? But I truly believe Hayato is a nice and kind person. He is sincere in helping out but maybe he just lacks the resolve to do them compared to Hikigaya because this guy has after all been there, done that and is not afraid to lose. He’s got no reputation, right?

Say, after that Sagami’s case, he became the most hated guy in school, right? How ironic for the hero to play the villain just to distract everyone’s attention from her failure. Then in the final episode, it doesn’t feel like that. I’m just speculation but well, at least it’s good that the students here do not keep a grudge. And what happened to Sagami after that festival chairwoman duty flop? Maybe she went back to her unnoticeable life. Do we really want to know? Same feels for Saki. I thought she’d appear more often after her case was solved in the same episode. But she was reduced to a mere side character, appearing on and off so as not to forget she still exists. Yumiko too. Come to think of it, ironically Hikigaya as a loner that no one notices or cares about, he is the protagonist of this show. Then there is Zaimokuza who is still passionate in his chuunibyou. Ebina’s true colours totally flaunting all the way whenever she gets the chance with her must-gay personality. I guess any kind of guy would do because during the sports festival’s pole event, I figure many of the guys aren’t as handsome or a quarter as good looking as Hayato and yet she gets stimulated seeing males being pressed against each other. So would old men do for her too? I don’t want to even think about it.

Hiratsuka could have been as quirky if not quirkier than our protagonists if you get to know her more. Maybe odd people flock together. Now that we know her taboo topics include her age and single status, make sure they don’t leave your mouth or else you’ll get what’s coming or see her go into depression mode. Not the best model teacher around but she does show her caring side especially the advices she gives to Hikigaya after the actions he take to solve a request. I don’t know if Haruno really finds Hikigaya’s suggestions amusing or not because she laughs her ass off at first but something in the way she comments them to him afterwards makes it feel like as though she is not really amused with his sh*t and there is sarcasm in her tone. Sometimes too, the things she says make her sound like she has an ulterior motive but so far so good. Maybe it’s just me. Is she really serious in making Hikigaya and Yukino a pair or is just one of her whims?

At times I feel Saika’s presence in the anime is just for that little running gag for Hikigaya to comment on his almost awakening trap fetish. I think every guy in school would too. That kid looks and acts so girly that it is no doubt is sending the wrong signals to Hikigaya. And he knows it too (I suppose he is taking it the wrong way too as a joke). The way he starts fantasizing all those sparkly sparkles and lovely frame roses around him, if that aren’t signs of him moving towards the trap direction, I don’t know what to make of then. That’s why I think if there are no other side distractions, Hikigaya could easily (and gladly) fall for this trap. Just listen to the comments he makes after their conversation or interaction. Then in this case I think this would become the love comedy that went wrong. On second thought, I don’t think I want to see this trap or yaoi thingy. Funny as it may be, it’s not my cup of tea.

Something trivial that has been bugging me. Hikigaya, Yukino and Yui pose for the mid-intermission and the thing that ‘annoyed’ me was how the trio put on their big frown. Well, at least it is quite obvious. I would understand that Hikigaya and Yukino’s frown would stem from their behaviour but Yui too? Yui not smiling? What is she mad at? Well, at least it proves that the ladies look prettier if they smile. That goes for Yukino too. I can’t say the same for Hikigaya too because he would just look creepy as seen in some of the scenes throughout the series. Really. It’s like he is really forcing the smile and doesn’t look natural. Really, believe me. Another trivial thing I notice is that many of the characters have their first name repeated in their surname. Yui Yuigahama, Yukino Yukinoshita, Saki Kawasaki, Meguri Shiromeguri, Rumi Tsurumi. If not something that closely rhymes like Hina Ebina or Shizuka Hiratsuka or alliterations such as Hachiman Hikigaya and Hayato Hayama. Is this some sort of inside joke? Are they trying to hint something? Also, I noticed that after some sort of event or request complete, a new sticker is seen pasted on the clubroom’s door sign. I wonder where they’ll stick once it runs out of space.

The casting seems pretty decent and depicts the characters as they are. Takuya Eguchi did well in making Hikigaya sound like lethargic and uninterested when he starts commenting. Like as though it’s not that he wants to analyse but is forced to. It’s a little different from the livelier roles he played such as Kon in Ixion Saga DT and Yoshiharu from Oda Nobuna No Yabou. That deadpan voice of Saori Hayami perfectly fits the personality of Yukino. There is that distinct uniqueness in her voice (sometimes I think of her as Mamiko Noto’s clone) that makes some of her characters sound, uhm, deadpan. Like Ikaros in Sora No Otoshimono, Azuki in Bakuman, Leviathan in Zettai Bouei Leviathan. Nao Touyama as Yui, I thought she sounded so much like Chiho from Hataraku Maou-sama. There is this similarity in their liveliness. Other casts include Takashi Kondo as Hayato (Train in Black Cat), Ryoka Yuzuki as Hiratsuka (Tokiko in Busou Renkin), Mikako Komatsu as Saika (Marika in Mouretsu Pirates), Mai Nakahara as Haruno (Mai in Mai-HiME), Marina Inoue as Yumiko (Kana in Minami-ke), Minako Kotobuki as Sagami (Tsumugi in K-ON!), Aoi Yuuki as Komachi (Madoka in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica), Ami Koshimizu as Saki (Horo in Spice And Wolf), Nozomi Sasaki as Ebina (Nanami in Bokura Ga Ita), Azumi Asakura as Meguri (Asia in High School DxD), Nobuyuki Hayama as Zaimokuza (Ikkaku in Bleach) and Sumire Morohoshi as Rumi (Seira in GJ-Bu). The opening theme is Yukitoki by Nagi Yanagi and I find it not as appealing as the ending theme, Hello Alone, a duet by Saori Hayami and Nao Touyama. There is slow ballad version of Hello Alone featuring only Nao Touyama but I prefer the faster rock pop version. I wonder if the ending credits animation is some sort of yuri fanservice of Yukino and Yui.

As you have probably guessed, the series tries to touch and address several social problems such as peer pressure, victimizing and group bullying. Though it doesn’t go deep into the main problem, it gives us an idea of how bad it could affect people. Both the victim and the perpetrator. If it is not stemmed early, the future generation’s society will have to deal with difficult and hard to reverse social ills and problems. Or you can turn into someone like Hikigaya or Yukino. At least they didn’t become delinquents or psychopaths. Just ‘hardened’. While Hikigaya’s methods of reverse psychology are not encouraged since it doesn’t guarantee it would work (thankfully it went well in this anime), at least he tried to do something rather than closing an eye and letting it slide. Or maybe does it because he had to since he was tasked to do so. Either way, it is much better than just not doing anything. That’s the funny thing about humans and society. It’s either eat or be eaten. Power corrupts and more so when you have the numbers on your side.

Sadly with so much turmoil in the world, you wonder if there is going to be hope for society and the future generations to come. Would the world be a better place if we had more Hikigaya or Yukino around? Well, without society, I think they’ve even lost a meaning to exist. They do so and act the way they are because of what society is now, right? If everybody was a loner, there won’t be society to begin with. Lethargic. That’s what I feel now despite should have been enlightened by a lesson or two from a fellow loner. I suppose just like society, it’s hard for a person to change drastically unless something awfully drastic happens. If you don’t change, do you expect society to change? Maybe the world should have more of Yui and Hayato instead. Happy, cheerful, kind, helpful and good looking. Yeah. Dream on. Definitely don’t want the world to have more of Saika or Ebina. It would be a very screwed up world then. Not just love comedy went wrong. A love comedy disaster in the making and heading for collision course with tragedy!

Hen Zemi

April 14, 2012

Humans. A very complex species that is very hard to understand. That is why we have topics like sociology science to study the human behaviour and characteristics to further comprehend how the human mind works as an individual and a group in society. Well, even though that I am one of the Homo Sapiens, I consider myself naive in knowing my own species. Except for maybe all the bad parts in general. So I thought what a better way to help me understand humans a little more than to watch Hen Zemi. Okay I admit. It was just an excuse to watch this very odd show.

This series is also known as Abnormal Physiological Seminar and revolves around a group of students in the above mentioned class or seminar. When you see the word ‘abnormal’, it should have been an indication that whatever research that the class does won’t be by the book. Yes, what you’ll see here are mainly very strange and odd researches. So weird that it may look perverted in the eyes of others. So bloody unusual that it will definitely look disgusting to the eyes of ‘normal’ people. Really. If you want to know what I mean, just watch it. But you have been warned. If you can’t stomach some of the researches (albeit not graphic) you might want to consider watching something else.

Of all the students in this class, I guess the most ‘normal’ one would be Nanako Matsutaka. You’d be asking what is a normal, nice and shy girl doing in this class filled with absolute weirdoes? Well, one thing. She is in love with Komugi Musashi who is a student in this seminar. I guess when you’re in love, you’re pretty much blinded. She may be in this class just to be close to him but perhaps she didn’t read the fine print of the class she is signing up for. Yup. Lots of sexual harassment-like assignments and eccentric classmates that confuse her make her daily life a living hell. Can she make the grade? Sit tight and grit your teeth girl. You’re in for the ride. The other peculiar students in this seminar include Miwako Mizukoshi (has lots of perverted fantasies to the point she can actually fantasize and drool right in front of everyone), Yesterday Taguchi (a degenerate manga artiste wannabe), Hishiyasu Ichikawa (punk rock bassists and with a passion for filming) and Makiko Gregory (the elusive half Japanese half British blonde). Their professor is Kenji Meshiya and when I first look at him, I thought he resembles like those ugly monster orc creatures you’d see in RPG games…

Episode 1
Matsutaka is on her way to class but was stopped by Komugi as warning. Seems if she heads down the flight of stairs, she’ll risk getting her skirt being taken by Ichikawa who is doing some experiment of rare pictures and showing them around from the kindness of his heart. WTF?! Komugi isn’t the nice guy he is. He gives Matsutaka a choice to either be indebted to Ichikawa in helping him complete his research or him for warning her. Matsutaka thinks hard about her choice and after all, she joined this class because of him. She never did well even if her weird research of farting in the bath may raise an eyebrow or two, Meshiya failed her. Her embarrassing explanation didn’t even help. So if she wants to pass, she’ll have to simulate a live indescribable fart to him. Meanwhile Taguchi is trying hard to finish his manga deadline since Makiko isn’t here to help him put in the colour. He is further bugged by the flies in the room, in which is part of Mizukoshi’s experiment in raising fruit flies in her auditory canal using her ear wax?! DISGUSTING! Mizukoshi is the top student and Matsutaka is being told to learn from her. This has Matsutaka think that Mizukoshi and Komugi are compatible with each other (Komugi’s last experiment was wearing diapers underneath his pants in public) that’s why they are going out together. Taguchi seems to be interested in researching borders so he convinces Matsutaka to touch his finger. Then he concludes that there are no borders between her finger and tits and that it will be alright to touch them. Mizukoshi really wants to volunteer herself for this one. Makiko shows up so Taguchi has her fill in the colours of his manga page. Outside class, Komugi goes talk to Matsutaka. Since Komugi has Netorare (NTR) fetish (obsession of seeing your girl going out with other guys), he doesn’t mind Mizukoshi hanging out with the other boys. He continues explaining the importance of true value and roundabout imagination which is better than straightforward truth. This causes Matsutaka to feel embarrassed. As for the favour, he wants her to treat him to dinner. I’m not sure about his choice food which made Matsutaka’s face go redder because it has something to do with her period.

Episode 2
Matsutaka and Mizukoshi walk in and to their surprise see a guy in some perverted cosplay with Makiko. That guy is Yuji Horii and is Meshiya’s senior whom he respects very much. He is famous for making some adult game called Pinal Mantasy back in 1998. Never heard of it. But currently he is living in a hut by the river and only contacts Meshiya when he needs money. Eh? In contrary to his nickname the White Wizard Holy, it is nothing near anything holy because he is nicknamed so due to his love for bukkake!!! The gang go out for a drink and it seems Horii takes a liking for Mizukoshi due to her perverted fantasies. See how hard Matsutaka is trying not to listen to their sick conversation? Horii talks about fishing. A different kind of fishing. The kind where you hang your naked body with hooks through your skin! He thinks Makiko’s white skin is perfect for it. Moving on to Horii’s living-by-the-river, actually his hobby and his real job is to find people like them for corporations. Seriously? For now Horii wants them to study under the guidance of Meshiya. Makiko notices all the customers gone. Looks like they went outside to puke after hearing their sick conversation. Later all the seminar students gather for a nabe meal. But it’s not going to be just an ordinary nabe. They have to put something odd in it. Let’s just say everyone brought something really odd. Except for Matsutaka’s bananas which are considered normal. So when the lights go out, they’re supposed to put the ingredients in. That’s when Ichikawa realized that in this darkness, they’re supposed to do something. Mizukoshi already lost herself in her sick fantasies as Matsutaka was told to move her legs because Komugi dropped his chopsticks. Then he mentions about being able to see her skirt even though it’s pitch black. Though Matsutaka feels embarrassed this concludes that embarrassment isn’t always something external but internal. With that, Matsutaka starts unbuttoning her shirt and wonder if Komugi could see what she is doing. However time is up and the light goes back on. I wonder what would happened if she had undressed halfway. So we see Ichikawa playing his bass naked and Taguchi trying to suck his own dick!!! Inside the nabe, only Makiko put in her underwater motor… They were also supposed to put in the tampon but Makiko used it. She thought of giving it to them to use, causing Ichikawa to puke. In the end when everyone has a beer, Matsutaka wonders why hers felt warm like body temperature. Komugi’s pants are unzipped…

Episode 3
Matsutaka and Mizukoshi are handing out flyers advertising the seminar wearing hot stuffy animal mascot suits. However Mizukoshi is enjoying it because she’s wearing nothing underneath! Matsutaka goes back to the classroom to cool off but finds it locked. Komugi is there and since he notes that Taguchi has the key, he leads her since it’s hard for her to see properly in that suit. He buys her a drink and she refuses to take off the headgear because she is embarrassed that he’ll see her sweaty and sticky forehead. However Komugi also has sweat fetish and really likes her smell. His smooth talking convinces her to allow him to take off the headgear. But it’s just a ploy to show a newbie, Anna Katou the kind of research that this seminar is doing. So Matsutaka was just being used… Anna is being introduced by Meshiya as a new student. Due to her red head, Matsutaka thinks she’s an ex-delinquent. Everyone has their turn introducing themselves but did everybody forget Matsutaka was there? Yeah, her turn was skipped. Anna is pretty nervous in introducing herself but when she sums up her courage, she blurts out she never had a boyfriend in her life. Taguchi and Ichikawa discuss if this is a big joke (because she has big boobs and besides, delinquents making it into college?). Taguchi gets kicked in the face by Anna. Well if they find it all too weird, then shouldn’t she be in this seminar? Taguchi starts fantasizing about an after-school meeting with the delinquent and smells her shoes but was beaten up again. After Komugi asks her about some question that he asks every girl just to see their reaction (something about letting it inside them), Anna blows her top and wonders is an inexperienced delinquent that weird. Since she promised not to hit, Taguchi and Ichikawa answered yes. Matsutaka feels she is somewhat similar to her. After class, Matsutaka talks to Komugi as she wonders why is Anna trying so hard to be seen as an abnormal person. He thinks it’s a test of courage. He throws back the question to Matsutaka of why she entered this class. She couldn’t answer. Matsutaka thought he’s going to give a romantic answer but it turns out to be a desire to eat raw liver. Meanwhile Anna is determined she’s going to lose these shackles she had for the last 20 years as this seminar is her only hope.

Episode 4
Anna and Matsutaka are heading towards Horii’s house as invited. They see Makiko outside and she cut her finger while cutting vegetables. Inside, they see the guys arranging food over Mizukoshi’s naked body! She’s using herself as a giant platter! As they dig in (Mizukoshi just loves the pleasure of chopsticks touching her body), Meshiya opens his New Year speech about media manipulating the meaning of crimes. Which means people like them have to be careful on what they do. Anna and Mizukoshi find it hard to eat off her body. Then everyone finds out that Horii is Mizukoshi’s new boyfriend. Horii wants new girl Anna to drink from Mizukoshi. She is rather reluctant and he actually was going to cut her with his samurai sword! She is saved when Ichikawa dived his entire face into the sake. Meshiya concludes that he did so to protect a classmate so he tells Horii that bloodshed during a feast is forbidden. He agrees and puts away his katana. Komugi then feeds Mizukoshi and tells her that he’s gotten over her. Then he has an idea for their first experiment of the year. He wants to see how many meat Mizukoshi can eat. I guess he hasn’t gotten over the grudge. Everybody starts force feeding her because Meshiya will give every participant an ‘A’ as goodwill. Taguchi thought Komugi spilled his sake but Horii can tell that this ‘final tears of vexation’ isn’t hidden seppuku but hidden ejaculation. He acknowledges Komugi as a true man. Matsutaka wonders if she has a chance with Komugi again.

Episode 5
Anna visits Ichikawa’s house to discuss the seminar and despite his mom knocking on his door and being told to go away, she opens anyway as Anna sees him naked playing his bass in front of mannequins! I guess mommy has seen this so many times that she isn’t the least surprised. Ichikawa is being rude to his mom and his guest but mother plays it cool. This is the first time her son has a girl over so she’s quite nervous. She leaves to get pudding as requested by her son so as not to interrupt them. Anna is here to discuss about their next project which will be done in pairs. They will be first and she got the map to his house via Taguchi’s map (amazingly she got here despite the horrible drawing). Then she hands him a package that Taguchi forgot to return to him. Upon seeing the adult mags, he throws it into the bin. Anna picks it up and a condom drops out. They both try to get it and their hands touch. Ichikawa’s mom happens to open the door (the store is out of pudding as she reports). Ichikawa continues berating his cool mom as she thinks Anna should stay for dinner. Since he can’t let the guest eat her sh*tty food (OMG!) he has her order the finest bento. Ichikawa tells Anna that the reason Taguchi is doing this is to tell her that Ichikawa is a big boob lover. That guy is probably jealous because Anna is cute though he has Makiko and can’t do anything himself so if she’s going to get taken, might as well set them up so he owes him one. In short, he’s trying to get on her good side by showing how much he cares for his friends. Anna deduces Ichikawa as the only child and for her she has an older brother, also a delinquent and toughest in Kanazawa. Because of him, no guys got close to her. Though that is the cause of her ruined love life, it’s better off than some guy who is stuck in his teenage angst years because his parents are so kind. The duo had a standoff and their faces are so close that it may look like they’re kissing. Oh, mom saw that too. Back to their presentation’s topic, Ichikawa has an idea of going along with Taguchi’s plan to see his reaction. He was about to suggest about doing it when mum again pops up. This time he blows his top. Anna leaves but why is she keeping the condom? Next day, Taguchi asks Ichikawa about his present. Taguchi is shocked to hear that he has used it as Ichikawa further mocks how tiny his buddy is seeing the condom was too tight. That must really hurt, right?

Episode 6
Matsutaka is sick and resting in bed. After smelling her own body sweat, it never dawn to her that Komugi was unzipping his pants next to her! His logic is that since he has trouble urinating which leaves a spot in his boxers, he wondered what she would say if he put it over her face! I think Matsutaka’s fever isn’t going to go down with this shock. Plus, seems Komugi has a duplicate key to her room! And he is the last one to finish the experiment. What experiment? After Komugi takes a picture of them with his secret camera, he shows her several pictures previously taken in secret by the others in her room! What the heck are they doing and violating her stuff?! Especially Horii and Mizukoshi doing something really unholy on her bed! Though this assignment by Meshiya has been on for about a week and the rest taking turns, Matsutaka feels this is too much and trespassing and using her as research material. However Komugi says that this is all to help her since she failed her last assignment. Matsutaka hides herself under the blankets and refuse to let Komugi satisfy his sweat fetish. She agrees to get out after she has change. But his experiment isn’t over and will record himself helping her change. However Matsutaka has discovered him so technically he is disqualified. All that can change if she cooperates. He plans to ditch his original experiment and complete the scenario of taking care of her while she’s sick. But the catch is instead of pretending to be asleep, she must behave that as if she knows that he is changing her clothes while sleeping. So Matsutaka has no choice but to cooperate (probably she’s still hanging to that little chance that he may like her back). The next few seconds are omitted. Once Komugi is done changing, Matsutaka feels very embarrassed. Then Komugi starts coughing. Looks like he caught her sickness. Three days later, Meshiya is impressed with the turn of events in which Komugi trespassed Matsutaka’s room and make her take care of him after catching her cold. And all Matsutaka got was just a pass. Now she’s going crazy that Komugi’s the only person she can marry.

Episode 7
In class, Taguchi seems down though his manga was published. Makiko explains to Matsutaka she isn’t sure if it’s because of the promise. Flashback reveals Taguchi was excited and Google about comments on his manga but saw comments it was boring. Makiko thinks he is trying to show his weak side hoping she’ll do whatever she wants with him. Matsutaka is worried Taguchi may let do perverted stuff on her like be in a train without panties but Makiko notes she already done that. Taguchi mentions he’s supposed to fondle her breasts and the thing is he has never done it. Matsutaka remembers that in one of the assignments that Taguchi has done that kind of stuff (on Mizukoshi). Then it’s revealed that it was Makiko who suggested it. Makiko asks for Komugi’s opinion on Mizukoshi (some perverted stuff) and then notes that Taguchi also had done the same on her while she’s sleeping. Taguchi tries to explain the precision work he loves doing so much so Makiko tells him to do what he wants and strips her top. Taguchi gets upset that this is what he want to do and runs away. Makiko leaves after him. Matsutaka asks Komugi about what Taguchi really wants to do and as explained, it is something like co-dependency. Something about excessive emotional or psychological reliance on a partner like ruin your own life for the sake of someone else. So the reason he’s hopeless is because he avoids fulfilment and doesn’t do anything as he is afraid of things falling apart. I didn’t understand the rest of Komugi’s explanation but the way he saw the magnitude Makiko’s ‘greed’, it turned him on. Makiko catches up to Taguchi and as they hold hands, they promise to kiss when things like meteor falling down or another alien race takes over the world.

Episode 8
Meshiya shows his class a video of a woman playing with balloons. I don’t understand how this is related to collective unconsciousness as he points out. In short, a perverted unconscious fetish lies dormant inside of everybody and a person’s pervertness is defined during his/her childhood. He has them share anecdotes of their childhood. Taguchi relates how a girl came to bath with him and he got distracted by her boobs. Makiko couldn’t remember hers so Meshiya thinks some trauma caused this self defence mechanism to make her have amnesia. Ichikawa was being bullied and it’s the same for Mizukoshi as she was forced to confess to an ugly guy. Meshiya notices Komugi enjoying it so he mentions about making Mizukoshi crying like then would be awesome (turning that pervert on). Komugi’s anecdote turns out to be a complete messy relationship. His father is his grandfather and is the son of his father’s wife and grandfather. Get it? Soon after, the seminar ended. Anna wonders why she thought of her brother back then. Meshiya rejects her report and later when she talks to Ichikawa, he excuses himself to go film a documentary. The kind where there are violence and beating up. Yeah, Anna tagged along to see. Ichikawa explains the heart-wrenching documentary about cross-dressers and masochism. Ichikawa’s job is to film private matters on demand and he doesn’t want Anna to tell the rest since this will be his thesis. Seems Anna has her own embarrassment and wants Ichikawa to help out. She dresses up as a maid and has Ichikawa film her. However it’s not coming out. What’s not coming out? When she greets customers in this form, she has urinary incontinence. Ichikawa guesses that since her report was rejected, she wants Meshiya to reassess it with a video included. She also thought she could rid of this useless obsession. Ichikawa vows to take that obsession and turn it into something meaningful. As Matsutaka heads to class, she is surprised to see Anna in a maid outfit serving them. Meshiya though rates her highly but notes he could’ve rated her higher if she had done it before him. Anna seems confident and notes the word ‘hen’ in ‘hentai’ stands change.

Episode 9
Ichikawa visits Anna’s room. He spots her diary and wants to read it. She claims she forgets things easily. The reason she called him here is to suggest if he wants to live a wild life with her for a week. Yes, it’s part of the assignment for the girls as they have to make their summer as rotten as ever. With Makiko choosing not to bath and Mizukoshi selecting living with kitchen waste, she got this by elimination. But Ichikawa isn’t thrilled. She prefers her to call over another guy and will tape it for her. He says abnormal is a method not a purpose and since her brother is at fault for making her a virgin, why not let him take responsibility. Anna starts telling how her brother may be the toughest delinquent and was somewhat relieved when he was with her. She discovered that he was only saying he is the toughest so guys would stay away from her so she ran away from home. She loved him back then and would’ve done anything. Ichikawa doesn’t buy her story and leaves. He also tells her to get a decent boyfriend. Outside, he sees a letter addressed to Anna. Suspecting something amiss, he dressed up as a lover and meets Anna’s brother and pretends to be Anna’s lover. That night, Ichikawa visits Anna and tells her he has met her brother. And he doesn’t look like a tough guy. He shows her the letter which has her handwriting and read what was inside. Anna insists she didn’t write the letter so he wants her to let him read her diary. Later when Ichikawa passes her the letter, she opens and finds it empty. But behind the seal is the address of her family’s home. Ichikawa mentions he scouted this address for 4 days and observed a naive looking guy coming in and out. He deduces she lived in Kanazawa her entire life till she entered college. All what Ichikawa is saying seems to be shocking Anna. From the diary he has read, some pages have the same sticker seal. The pages are written in Kanazawa dialect and there are photos of random delinquents. Referring to his ‘interrogation’ with her brother, he mentioned Anna was always tormenting him. She entrusted that letter to her brother and told him to send it to her when she needed it. He also said Anna wanted to remain naive. By receiving the letter, she probably focus on the pages with that sticker in hopes of finding a way to be normal (brother mentioned about her acting out another personality but once she returned to normal, she always giggled insanely). So from what I understand, Anna has a split personality. Anna always wanted to change and wonders if she has gone back how she used to be. Ichikawa feels she would’ve reverted back to normal in no time. He mentions about her great potential for the seminar and suggests doing it if she doesn’t return to normal. In class, Meshiya reintroduces Anna to everyone. She was a separate identity created by herself to enter the seminar. Her past records and Ichikawa’s videos have confirmed its credibility. Anna discards her red hair and looks forward to work with them. Ichikawa gives back Taguchi’s condom.

Episode 10
Matsutaka is disheartened to know that Meshiya has a folder in his computer with her name in it. It’s filled with lots of photos that are going to be posted on an amateur porn site! Mizukoshi relishes the time when she and Komugi used to take photos of them in the middle of action and posting it online for total strangers to see. Though they uploaded it in real time, it was deleted once done. When Anna comes in, she sees a bottle drink and asks for permission to have a taste. The rest think it’s an indirect kiss but nevertheless she goes ahead. Meshiya knows Anna has observed everyone’s reaction to the indirect kiss so she accounts her analysis and she is spot on in evaluating what was on everyone’s mind. So when it’s her evaluation on Ichikawa (something about him having a hard time discarding her old identity), Ichikawa decides to tell her the truth. That bottle was actually used by Komugi to attract Matsutaka’s attention and not her. Because the last time she tried to steal an indirect kiss and he was wondering if she would try again. Of course she wouldn’t because his pee was in the bottle the last time. Though Anna is taken aback, she mentions how delicious it is. But as Ichikawa points out, this time it is blended with Taguchi’s milk serum. This has Anna running out of the room. Taguchi is thrilled that Anna said it was delicious (Matsutaka felt relieved she didn’t drink it this time). Komugi explains about indirect bonding and how professionals can experience sex over a time lapse simply by walking into a place where a woman was moments ago. Furious Anna rushes back in and inserts the bottle right into Taguchi’s mouth to let him taste his own indirect blowjob. Then she unties her hair and proclaims she has returned to herself before the indirect kiss. This causes Ichikawa to go crazy, screaming like a mad person.

Episode 11
Matsutaka enters the class to see the guys turning the room into a sauna. Derived from how a group of manga guys worked so intense in the dead of winter that their body heat was enough to provide warmth. As explained by Meshiya, everyone is trying to be Wanakin Skywalker (?!) by abandoning their desires for a month and they are in their 20th day. So I guess this means the slightest deviant thing would turn them on. Taguchi accidentally drops his handphone at Matsutaka’s feet. He gets turned on and drops his pants! He felt reborn? Behold his red saber? Then he climaxes by just imagining Matsutaka in her undies. Meshiya feels this training is going out of control. Taguchi admits that he has fallen to the Dark Side and by using the Force within him, he will challenge the record of consecutive ejaculations. He agrees but warns he must do it by himself with no aid. Everyone except Taguchi and Matsutaka leave the room. She has to observe because she needs to put it in her next report. Oh, the horror Matsutaka has to endure. Power after power. It’s no surprise that she’s rather ‘dead’ after the experiment. She is so tired she doesn’t have enough energy to put up with Komugi’s jokes. So Taguchi got 13 ‘powers’, beating Komugi’s personal record of 10. Matsutaka wonders if he will try it on her and if this would work on him. She flips up her skirt but his eyes were focused on Anna’s boobs. He wasn’t listening to Matsutaka so she got upset and tells him to ask Anna to help him out instead. Next day, Meshiya is disappointed that everyone has fallen to the dark side. When Komugi mentions he achieved 15 powers, Taguchi doesn’t believe him and is confident Matsutaka can vouch for him. But when Anna mentions she can make guys ejaculate just by looking at them, Taguchi seeks her help to beat Komugi’s record. Matsutaka snaps and is going to kill him.

Episode 12
Matsutaka thinks Komugi is going to do something romantic to her face when it’s just him noticing about her earwax. He wants to clean her ears. At the park, Matsutaka puts her head on his lap while he starts digging. Though embarrassed, she still feels good. Then for the next ear, she thought of getting up over to his other lap but he insists on doing it on the same lap. Now she is more embarrassed. Komugi’s dirty comments didn’t help (“It’s so dirty like as though somebody came in your ear and left it all there”). At the end, she took up his advice of handing it as her report. Though she passed, now Meshiya wants to dig her ears and this time she is experiencing pain. Later Taguchi enters the room to see Komugi shirtless. He has Taguchi help put a wet compress pad on his left shoulder he injured yesterday. Taguchi felt odd in seeing the body of a naked man. After that as they sit together, Komugi notes this is the first time they’ve been alone together in this room. Since Taguchi denies Makiko is his girlfriend, Komugi wonders if it would be okay if she confessed to him instead. Though Taguchi couldn’t care less but his body reaction seems to be like as though he is breaking down. After suggesting all the other girls, Komugi says that he can tell who wants to be embraced by him. He pushes Taguchi down and is okay if they do it. Oh sh*t! He is willing to do this BL experiment as Taguchi panics. But who couldn’t be more panicky than Matsutaka who is hiding behind a wall observing them all. She halts the experiment and Komugi notes they could’ve kissed if not for her interference. But it seems Komugi is killing 2 birds with 1 stone. While Matsutaka was observing, there was a hidden camera to record her reactions. He suggests they can continue later and Matsutaka be the camerawoman. No thanks!

Episode 13
The gang are heading towards the hotspring inn and are split in 2 cars. Matsutaka and Makiko have to put up with Taguchi and Ichikawa noisy rock singing and their dangerous sliding and weaving in between the traffic on the highway! Makiko is just cool eating her food and offering some to Matsutaka. She couldn’t because she remembers she forgot to go to the toilet. Then they talk about dipping into the hotspring which is a mixed bath and the unsanitary and unhygienic act of soaking anything else but your body. Because Taguchi said something disgusting, Ichikawa puked outside. While speeding! Then Makiko mentions something about her period starting today so Ichikawa responds with some physics thingy that it’ll never leak due to the water pressure. All this is worsening Matsutaka’s condition. In the other car, the rest are wondering how Horii is supposed to reach the destination when Mizukoshi receives a call from him to pull over at the next stop. She calls Taguchi but speeding Ichikawa already passed it. Matsutaka begins to worry. Blaming him for it, Ichikawa eases on the peddle and goes slow. Now she wants him to floor it to the next stop. Komugi’s car stop at the next stop and with instructions, they open the trunk to see a bag. Inside it is Horii half naked! He almost froze to death?! And he planned to stay like this all the way? Continuing the journey, Horii wants Mizukoshi to warm him up via joining energy. You can make a good guess on what it is. The next car was shocked to see their act so Meshiya gives them a death stare to mind their business. With Horii feeling much better and warmer, he notices Anna totally ignoring him and not taking the horny subway express with them. He thought she is worse than before but Meshiya explains certain things had happened. Anna continues to give Horii the cold stare. Komugi asks if the man they love most were to die, what would they do. For Mizukoshi, she would do it with the corpse (this fact even aroused her). They get message from Taguchi that there is an accident ahead so traffic is not moving. Things are getting bad for Matsutaka but it is what is getting interesting for the rest. She can’t hold it in any longer so Makiko offers her to do it in a food packet. She assures the foodstuff in it won’t go to waste (mind the pun). I guess she has no choice but to attend to this emergency call of nature. Once they arrive at the hotspring, Horii notes how good this foodstuff taste. I don’t know if it’s real or not. And everyone has a good time soaking in the mixed bath.

Before the TV series, the first OVA was released. Though it is almost 30 minutes long, it is split into 3 short segments. In the first part, Meshiya fails Matsutaka for yet another disappointing assignment. There goes her autumn outing session. So it’s either redoing it again or putting on men’s clothes and get sprayed by water. Between the devil and the deep blue sea, huh? She chose the former. While walking her way home, she thinks back why the heck she joined this seminar. Plus, the assignment that was given to her is to research if having sex would make her beautiful. You read that right. And she failed because her research didn’t include any raw sexual experiments. Matsutaka felt a panty dropped on her head and thought some lady dropped her laundry. To her shock, she sees Komugi up on the pole trying to steal panties with his fishing rod! Part of his remedial assignment he says? Waiting for the time of the day when human eyes adjust to the dark so they can’t see? Well, he should be glad that Matsutaka was the only one who caught him red-handed. He shows her his bag filled with female underwear! Fruits of his hard labour?! Apparently his assignment is to research the lifestyle of a panty thief. He is supposed to steal them and use it as bait in his room while observing the thief stealing it. But stealing? Can’t he just buy some? Well, for realism and Meshiya wouldn’t approve of him using ‘fakes’. But even so, stealing? Komugi surprises her if she would give hers. But he was just pulling a fast one and asks for her assignment topic. It’s a little embarrassing to say out, don’t you think? He suggests that they should do her assignment together. Matsutaka’s heart is beating in this give and take situation but first, he wants her panties. Then he borrows her handphone to snap several shots of her. Why is Matsutaka willing to do it all obediently? Remember, she’s in love with him. So about the sex part? He doesn’t know what she’s talking and goes off. Next day, Matsutaka gets called by Meshiya and she thought it will be another earful. However he is impressed by the turn of events. Seems the picture Komugi took was sent to him. He is aroused by her erotic position? But good thing he’ll turn a blind eye to her assignment. Then when she mentions about Komugi’s assignment, Meshiya says he didn’t give him any this time. Oh dear. Does that mean…

In the second part, Matsutaka wants to ask Mizukoshi something over lunch but she refuses giving diet as an excuse. When Komugi turns up, Mizukoshi runs away. So I guess he’ll have to do, eh? She’s asking about appealing part time jobs so he suggests getting contracted with a faeces farm! Really! The kind where they really eat your sh*t! How can he coolly talk about faeces over lunch? See how the others around lost their appetite?! Anyway Komugi did do that job once. Komugi learns Meshiya handed Matsutaka another one of those assignments. Sexual perversion in the workplace. I’m sure she can really find lots of them especially in offices. Komugi gives more examples with the first couple relating to poo and his personal one whereby he did a part time job as a pizza delivery and ‘sauced’ the pizza! Though he was just acting. Continuing his examples with eel farms (the disgusting way they eat and were used on a female worker in a bathroom) and the candiru fish in the Amazon (believed to go into other creatures’ ‘holes’ and eat them inside out. That’s why women who swim in the Amazon where chastity belt). I guess Matsutaka couldn’t take more of it and later pukes at the toilet. And to think Komugi was so calm explaining all that disgusting stuff while stuffing food in his mouth! She hears Mizukoshi in the next cubicle and tails her out. Mizukoshi meets Komugi to give him her package. Don’t tell me it’s her waste… I’m not sure if Matsutaka couldn’t tolerate anymore of this disgusting talk or felt jealous that she walked away. Mizukoshi receives her pay from Komugi and truthfully asserts she really wanted to do it with him. But he’s not interested in it. Meanwhile Matsutaka again fails her assignment because Meshiya isn’t happy she turned her research into some poem. Candiru boy eating the miniscule feelings in my heart? WTF?!

The third part sees Matsutaka being called by Ichikawa for an assignment. He asks her straight if she knows what NTR means and if she would sleep with him or if not Komugi. You can tell her reaction to that question. The reason he’s asking this is because of his interested in porn footage. He shows one with Mizukoshi and Taguchi engaging in sex!!! OMG!!! Matsutaka is shocked because she thought Taguchi is in a co-dependency relationship with Makiko. Ichikawa lets her know the truth that his ultimate desire is to rid of Makiko. Matsutaka goes crazy over the fact that Mizukoshi is doing it with another guy since she and Komugi are going out. But taking a closer look at the footage, she sees Komugi happily peeping on their unholy act. Ichikawa says Komugi has NTR. Matsutaka gets more explanation of NTR from Meshiya (that guy really knows his stuff) but he asks her about her reaction if her boyfriend had sex with another girl. It’s not just a simple no that he is looking for. It’s about how he caresses other girls and does other perverted things differently than her. I’m sure Matsutaka got enough of Meshiya’s ‘guidance’ and leaves. Outside she meets Ichikawa and Mizukoshi. The latter reminds him not to pull off pranks on his juniors and it seems he has spy cameras on his shoes! But Mizukoshi knew he was filming up her skirt and didn’t say a word because she knew he would upload it on the web (cue for her to fantasize and drool). She even thinks she should upload that NTR footage. Matsutaka has had enough of them and excuses herself. Soon Komugi and Ichikawa come by and he’s got some juicy footage of it all. They are confident they will get high grades for this assignment. Meshiya also agrees because this assignment has fulfilled everyone’s abnormal taste with Taguchi’s dedication to be a degenerate, Mizukoshi’s abnormal masochist image, Ichikawa’s cold blooded filming skills and Komugi NTR fetish. With Matsutaka’s innocent reaction that was pretty good, he will also give her a high score for participating. However he wants to know which one of them this idea stems from. The students are stumped because they thought it was the professor’s. Meshiya reveals an anonymous person sent it to him in a letter and thought it was one of them all along. Well, I can think of one more person in the seminar that is missing from this picture. As Matsutaka laments the weirdness of this seminar and how she doesn’t fit in, she sees Makiko. She confronts him about Taguchi and Mizukoshi but it seems she already knows about it. Matsutaka wonders which part of that pervert she likes but she points out that is not the case because the kanji word for love and weird are almost similar. As the other students try to figure out who was behind this idea, Taguchi starts panicking and thought Mizukoshi just wanted to f*ck him. He gets punched. Taguchi narrates how he longs for the day Makiko will show courtesy to him but that is on a groundless assumption she never abandons him. Though he likes taking risk, he still needs insurance and Meshiya’s instructions were supposed to be that. Now that the idea came from an anonymous person, he is afraid this will lead to a misunderstanding to Makiko that he wanted to do it with Mizukoshi. Yeah, I guess that blonde is the big mastermind behind it all, eh?

This OVA came out after the TV series ended and as usual is split into 3 parts. The first segment sees Anna in a crowded lift. Naturally everyone reacts when they hear a fart. Anna admits as the culprit even though she wasn’t and receives piercing stares. This is part of her report but Meshiya fails her because it seems she wasn’t enjoying it! Yeah, only weirdoes would. Then he shows her Makiko’s report that was observing Anna doing the experiment! It was accepted! Anna confronts Makiko about making her the subject of her experiment. Worse, Makiko admitted all the farts came from her! Anna apologizes for being useless but she notices a different smell in Makiko’s fart. She asks if she is eating properly. Makiko shows her some meal from Mizukoshi. Seems she is a helper in her part time job and in an experiment to see if one can make poo smell like used rag to wipe spilled milk. WTF?! Who cares. She got the money. Anna can’t understand how she can be so calm with these weird experiments so Makiko tells her about some school she saw on TV. That school used Spartan-like techniques for a summer camp by making students doing tough and embarrassing stuff. Lots of boys and girls cried and left. The last kid standing held a refreshing aura. She wonders if Anna would like to feel like that kid. Plus, if she doesn’t like what she’s doing, she doesn’t need the guts needed for it. Anna dismisses she is running away and is doing it to change. Anna relates how her precious teen years slipped away because of her famous delinquent brother. Makiko treats her to lunch and boy, Anna is so drunk to the point her dirty secrets are coming out. Like blaming her brother for making her remain a virgin. Makiko looks pretty good to her so Anna kisses her on the lips! I’m sure the shop owner is pretty much shocked. Then Anna passes out as Makiko orders another bottle of sake.

In the second part, Matsutaka runs into Komugi on a hot day. She is a little nervous because she heard from Taguchi that Komugi and Mizukoshi had separated. Since Komugi is standing higher than her, he lets her known of her ‘clearly visible’ part. I guess in this heat, it’s natural not to wear a bra, eh? While Matsutaka is clearly embarrassed, Komugi continues about the people especially guys naturally and unintentionally exposing their private areas and that it is natural instinct for everyone to focus their eyes on that part. This is sex appeal? He goes on about girls covering their parts they don’t want to see most with a piece of cloth called panties. Matsutaka can’t take this anymore and forces him to join her to drink beer. She feels guilty for doing so but keeps reminding herself he and Mizukoshi are already separated. But then again, he’s not the kind of guy that’s bound too much either. For several moments, Matsutaka let her guard down and Komugi got a peek at her breasts. So he starts discussing about boob size but that doesn’t matter when you’re doing it because all you’ll be doing is feeling, fondling, licking… Then he mentions about the importance of nipple size. He analyzes Matsutaka’s and describes Mizukoshi’s, whom he can even tell how it smells! He advises Matsutaka that if a guy comes up to her for advice, he needs to change his perception of nipples preference first. That’s because he doesn’t want to see them both hurt! Nipples are like missile buttons? Yeah, make a good consideration before you press them. Once Matsutaka confirms he and Mizukoshi are no longer together, he is grateful to her as his seminar partner and is going to close up any love affairs for the time being. Matsutaka thought things would get awkward after the separation and that he would target Anna next. But he says taking notice of one’s own fault is a wonderful aspect of love. Then they drink up and cheers. To her nipples. Next day Matsutaka waits at the rooftop thinking back that it wasn’t just her nipples that was just visible to him. She starts thinking Komugi called her out here because he wants to go out with her. Actually it’s just a setup so that Taguchi and Ichikawa could film her undies from beneath.

In the final part, Matsutaka sees Mizukoshi talking to a boy before their next class. He seems disappointed. But it seems Mizukoshi is drooling over her fantasies about how guys would use her image as a tool for their carnal desires every night. They even develop fantasies for their partner that they wouldn’t even touch. Talking about Mizukoshi’s future, she wanted to become an idol before. Matsutaka thinks a gravure idol suits her. As for being a newscaster, she feels she wants something freer and not tied down because by being an idol she get to do fan conferences (fans not washing their hands and shaking hers in hopes of making her pregnant! WTF?!). After all, guys are like animals. They prefer to release their semen inside a woman’s body like they naturally should. Otherwise they would feel so empty. Then her handphone rings and Matsutaka is shocked that Mizukoshi but a rotor inside her, ahem, and it stimulated her when it rings. Earlier on she left a message in the boy’s toilet to call this number at this time. As part of her experiment, that guy earlier on, she was to send an erotic mail that would make her look like she mistook him for another guy. She’ll act like she will accidentally find out the mistake and plead that he should act as if nothing happened. This is to see the reaction of that guy at every step. Mizukoshi thinks of taking a picture of Matsutaka’s nipples and using it as hers to send the mail. This has Matsutaka wondering if Komugi had used her like how Mizukoshi tested on other people. She says she was planning to give her a chance since she’s not doing well in the seminar. Mizukoshi is still bent on taking her nipples but Matsutaka notes the difference in their breast size. She only plans to make the top part visible so not much difference is seen. After getting assurance this won’t be leaked anywhere else, Matsutaka reluctantly exposes her tits for her to snap. Mizukoshi looks behind and realizes a heavily panting guy at the far back of the class to be the one who rang her. Matsutaka wonders if this guy she is sending the mail is her boyfriend so this accidentally reminds Mizukoshi about her breakup with Komugi. She apologizes but Mizukoshi is okay with it seeing strange and love are 2 separate things and is able to switch between them. As for punishment for reminding her, she tickles Matsutaka. In the train, Matsutaka is nervously standing next to that texting pervert who thinks Matsutaka is the girl with the rotor. Yeah, he seems excited. Actually the rotor is with Mizukoshi and she’s enjoying the stimulation. As for that earlier guy, he too is in the train and sees Matsutaka’s nipples and thinks it belongs to Mizukoshi.

Love = Weird = Perverted?
Hmm… For most of the explanation part, I have to say it was hard and I couldn’t really understand what they’re trying to get. I’m no sociology student so should I blame that part for not being able to comprehend their clarification? So in a way it takes the fun out while I’m watching the series. The only thing that I see in these series is the weird and outrageous experiments that won’t ever be useful in our daily lives. I’m sure there are tons of human reactions for every situation, making lots of possibilities. But to conduct such disgusting experiments and enjoying it is another matter. It won’t be my place to call everyone perverts but it’s just too odd not to. Sure, these weird experiments are supposed to be a method and not purpose as said but the way they are doing seems to indicate that they live to do it. Well, if you don’t love doing something, you won’t be able to do it wholeheartedly, right? That’s why a bunch of oddballs and abnormal people are best suited for this field of work.

Amazingly it boggles my mind to know that Matsutaka can still last so long in this seminar. Is her love for Komugi really burning that strong? She gets sexually harassed every day in the name of research and even if some of it goes overboard, reporting to the police never really did cross her mind, did she? It’s a wonder she didn’t die of heart attack too. Don’t say the experiments she has to put up with and do herself. What about all those rejected papers by Meshiya? Shouldn’t that at least give her a hint that she isn’t cut out for this kind of class? Which means to say, that despite her innocent and normal appearance, to be able to withstand all that makes her a weirdo too, right? Right. I guess without her, the seminar will not be as fun and lively as we know because everyone loves using her as a research material and enjoy seeing her reactions. Who better than to pull of those natural shocked, distressed, upset, flabbergasted and traumatized reactions and expressions but her. That’s right Matsutaka. In that sense you are an invaluable source of data and information for the rest. Don’t take it the wrong way. Besides, if she really does hook up with Komugi for good, do you think he will change? I foresee the worst that he may do more unholy experiments on her! Better think twice if you want to make this guy your man.

Of all the weirdo students in the seminar, Komugi has got to be the coolest. He is not afraid to show his perversion and when he does, he is very cool with it. You could say he is quite good in what he does. Be careful if you want this guy as your boyfriend because he loves seeing his girl doing it with other people. Makiko also seems cool but the fact that she is so is because she rarely puts up any emotions. Her voice even sounds deadpan and monotonous. But her research methods are still as ‘lethal’ so don’t underestimate this quiet girl. Mizukoshi’s drooling fantasies are quite disgusting if you ask me. She easily salivates which looks rather repulsive. Then she puts on a moronic face that indicates she is in paradise. She is not afraid to do any kind of sexual experiments and even loves doing it whether you are her friend or total stranger. She may be every perverts and those with high sexual drive’s ultimate fantasy but for many other ‘normal’ people, we have a term that may describe her well. It’s called “slut”.  No wonder she and Horii are going well with each other because they are really over the top perverts. That semi-bald guy may be a senpai in Meshiya’s eyes but to me he’s just some dirty old man. Really. I don’t understand Anna’s split personality and her determination to change. Was she that desperate that this seminar was her only cure? Rounding up the group is the noisy Taguchi and rude Ichikawa. You can’t have a lively group without this bunch of clowns. I’m not sure if Ichikawa and Anna are going steady since there are a few episodes that hinted they work well together. Same thing for Taguchi and Makiko but that is only because they are in some co-dependency relationship (something which I don’t understand either).

The drawing and art of this series somewhat make the characters look a little like the chibi type. Well I won’t say it is totally horrible but it’s not that good either. So much so I had trouble differentiating between Mizukoshi and Anna. Especially when the latter loses her red head after her split personality was revealed. Ironically, I find the TV version’s art and drawing to be way better than the OVAs. The OVAs were just unrefined that it was obvious. And you thought that OVAs should have some quality but I guess in some cases it is the opposite. The only difference is of course the censored scenes. You get to see tits and other suggestive scenes in the OVAs as compared to the TV series which are either strategically blocked, cut out, replaced, altered or zoomed. Of course you can view all this if you buy the DVDs. Especially the altered scenes in which if you watched the TV series, it feels like it doesn’t make sense. Take for example the scene whereby everyone uses Mizukoshi’s body as a platter. In the TV series, you thought Mizukoshi’s body was that big because all you can see in the background is just some plain brown backdrop. But if this was the DVD, you can see the contours of her body and other parts. Another example is when Komugi ejaculated in his pants. In the TV series you do not see any wet spot on his pants so you might be puzzled why the heck Horii spotted him do so when there is no patch there. Then altered scenes like Mizukoshi’s clothes were being torn to bits by dogs instead of remaining clothed.

I’m not sure what kind of job that these people will do once they graduate. I just couldn’t imagine devoting themselves into doing such disgusting experiments in which ‘normal’ people would consider as a waste of time and money. Just what Meshiya is trying to achieve with researching all these weird behaviours? At least I know you should never do them in real life. Anywhere, anytime, to anybody, anyhow. Before you start condemning or stereotype such people, let me remind you that we are all weird in our own ways. Some are just weirder than others. And if you open your eyes, you can find many weird and funny stuffs happening all across the globe. One may even be happening right in your backyard now. Maybe I should try out an experiment of my own. How about watching animes for 24 hours straight without eating and sleeping? Nah. I wouldn’t enjoy that.