Feel that the original series did not have the obligatory hotspring scene? Also, there wasn’t enough fanservice when we have a decent bevy of beauties? I figure this was the reason Bushou Shoujo Machiavellianism OVA was created for. Now you can put away all the stuffs that is related to the plot and go with these much needed scenes since you paid your worth for the BDs.

Exciting! Five Swords’ Inn Trip
Taking place after that clash with the Empress, Yoshino calls upon the Five Swords (minus Tsukuyo) to talk about this. As each of them claim they are personally responsible for this, Yoshino believes that had they worked together, the outcome would be different. Hence to foster cooperation among them, she will send them for a school trip to the hotspring. Doesn’t make sense but whatever. It is rumoured that they can bring a student along with them. I know who that lucky guy is. And they know who they want to bring but cannot say it because of pride and obviousness and thus waiting for the other to say so or circumstances to let them. I don’t think they’ll be able to say it… Meanwhile Nomura sees Tsukuyo and since he has become her disciple, he undergoes some sort of training. Nomura receives a painful surprise from her palm. He thought it was her spirit bullet but it is actually just her putting lots of force into her movement. Tsukuyo is disappointed after a few moments of training and he claims he hasn’t recovered from the fight yet and needs a vacation. You don’t say… Meanwhile for the other Five Swords, they are still hoping but this time their sisters hope they would bring them. The situation just got worst. Just in time for Tsukuyo to come in and suggest Nomura. Everyone agrees since he defeated Amou. However Yoshino says he cannot go as he has yet to take his exams (for transferring in). If he fails, he will have extra classes and cannot go on the trip. Hence our quintet become his teachers for the day. Too bad they are arguing who should be teaching him and decide the one with the highest overall score should do so. Unfortunately all of them have the same score. A draw. Yeah, should have taught him together. Uh huh. It took the whole day to decide this and now Nomura is gone. In fact he is back at his room with Masuko coaching him! Fat tranny better than beautiful snobs.

I take it that Nomura has passed because he gets to go with them to the hotspring inn. The girls are happy and why isn’t Nomura? Because he has to carry their bags. I believe this isn’t just the reason why they want him around. Warabi being cheeky has Nomura choose a girl he likes to be with. So which did he choose? He starts to imagine… Amou! Naked sexy Amou washing her body and tempting us!!! YEOW!!! Yeah, he likes strong girls. So the rest are curious of who he imagines and it is damn if he does, damn if he doesn’t if he picks either one or none. Oddly, Nomura is having food all by himself in a small room whereas the Five Swords are like enjoying theirs in a spacious hall. Doesn’t it feel a bit lonely or empty? Heck, even their sisters are being civilized eating dinner together. Just lots of sighing they could have been with their onee-sama. Then they hear rumours that the first to enter the bath will have their wish come true. Hence Five Swords (minus Tsukuyo who just goes to eat elsewhere) fighting among themselves. Yeah, can’t they all just get along instead of being selfish b*tches? Look, even their sisters are enjoying the bath together. Our first fanservice finally when Warabi cuts off Rin’s robes to stun her when her underwear is exposed. With Satori defeating Mary due to her fencing limitations, Warabi rushes off first. Satori is close behind and both girls strip naked at this point. Does less clothes means faster and less resistance? Hell yeah, fanservice is all I know. Before Warabi could jump into the hotspring, Satori knocks her out with her sword and ‘wins’. Tsukuyo isn’t rushing as she notes there are 2 baths and can enter one that isn’t empty. Too bad she enters the men’s section where Nomura is right now. Despite being blind, she gets super embarrassed to know he saw her naked loli body. You know she is scary when she opens her eyes. Oh, there goes Nomura into the sky. He crashes into the women’s section where all the girls are now. But he is all over Satori and this was her wish: To bath with him. Now the rest gets embarrassed and get ready to kill him. Yeah, this guy can’t catch a break and this trip made it worse.

Unarmed By Clichés
Uhm… I am not sure whether I should feel let-down or not because this hotspring and fanservice cliché wasn’t cliché enough. Because for one thing, Nomura doesn’t feel like the main character here and he is tossed aside for the most part. I was expecting the Five Swords to tussle over him but that didn’t really happen. Good in a way because they have stooped low enough in the TV series that having them stoop even lower would make the obvious seem so much more obvious. But it is bad because it takes out the fun to see those farcical Machiavellianism b*tches get owned by him. So we’ve got a slight distraction of Five Swords trying to coach Nomura but never got the chance. It feels that this part wasn’t even necessary and as though they needed to add some more scenes to the running time or else this OVA would be shorter. For the hotspring inn scenes, the main draw is the girls supposedly fighting each other and the fanservice is for the ‘reward’ for sticking to the end. And Nomura becomes a tool of comedic convenience because he was so dominating in the TV series that they now need to make him as mini punching bag. Yeah, that’s it for the hotspring scene. Just like that. Like, did anything get better? I doubt they would cooperate even further. Perhaps all just a ploy from Yoshino just to make their lives interesting by throwing Nomura in the mix.

Overall, this OVA feels a bit disappointing because it doesn’t lead anywhere and it is just something extra and light for fans who really love the series. Not that it would have been a lot better if it did. Yeah, damn if it does, damn if it doesn’t. It doesn’t break any new ground or development either since it tows the line with some of the most cliché of clichés like the hotspring fanservice and the guy being struck into the sky after being blamed for seeing their oh-so-pure-bodies even though common sense and circumstances says he isn’t. Yeah, the guy always gets the blame in this kind of situations no matter how strong or intelligent you are. Perhaps this is the Machiavellianism of the series. Forcing upon us such clichés after clichés, seasons after seasons. It never ends. Hmmm… Not so bad after all. Maybe I can live with this kind of anime Machiavellianism.

Love Live! Sunshine!! S2

April 21, 2018

Seeing that the ultimate goal of saving their school wasn’t accomplished yet, that is why we need to have another season of Love Live! Sunshine!! S2. Another reason for us to keep up with one of our favourite anime idol groups and for hardcore fans to get hyped and salivate over their favourite girls prancing and dancing on stage. Can Aqours do it this time? They better. Or else we would need to have another season…

Episode 1
It is the new school term and Chika is already running late. Meanwhile Mari addresses her fellow students that Aqours failed to make it to the nationals but thanks to everyone’s effort, they manage to keep the school open. However there is more good news as there is another Love Live competition announced. But their goal now is to find a way to increase the enrolment numbers of Uranohoshi before finding their own way to shine. As they go about their daily lives, Kanan notices Mari acting stranger than her usual strange. It is revealed that Mari’s father has decided to cancel the open house that is supposed to be the draw to attract more students to enrol at Uranohoshi. This means Uranohoshi will not be taking applicants for the next year. Mari tried persuading him but he will not budge. Guess what? Chika wants to go talk to him personally now?! He is in America… Naturally with nothing more they can do, they can only imagine in gloom doom fashion had they won Love Live then. So we see Chika doing her usual bumming-cum-pondering until she gets her baseless confidence back to create a miracle. Guess what? The other Aqours members too have the same idea. They’re not giving up yet. They’re going to shine together.

Episode 2
Mari once more tries to convince her father. Even though his stance remained unchanged, unless they can bring in 100 new students, he might budge. So far they only have 10. Well, doesn’t look far, right? Only 90 more to go… Discussing about the new Love Live preliminaries, a rule is that a new song must be sung. So they’re racking their brains to come up with 2 new songs. One for Love Live and the other for the open house. Instead of putting pressure on a single person to write the songs, it is suggested they split into groups. The second years will be writing one and the seniors and juniors will be writing the other. The latter group heads for Mari’s luxurious seaside mansion and end up having fun instead of doing any work. Too tempting… Dia puts her foot down and has the venue change to hers. No fun… We see that both the juniors and seniors have very different tastes in music. So much so Chika is called to intervene because they are at odds over the kind of song they want to write! Seeing that trust is important, it is suggested they do bonding stuffs. Again we see their different tastes. The seniors are more of the outdoor type while the juniors prefer indoor activities. I guess the only true way for all Japanese people of different walks of life to bond is the bath. It certainly feels good but they hardly make any progress. As they leave, it starts raining so they take nearby shelter in a temple. Cue for jump scares… No progress still but then the roof starts leaking as they place pots, plates and pans to catch the leak. This is when it hit them. The different drops come together as one big harmony. That’s the motivation they need to come together. Coincidence or not, both sides finish their song.

Episode 3
More trouble for Aqours. Mari gets a call that the open house will be delayed a week due to the rain as the storm wreak havoc damaging the roads. Chika, it is not okay because this clashes with your Love Live preliminaries! Although held at different times, they discuss the possible travel methods after finishing one. Helicopter? Mari doesn’t want to ask her father for help since they have to do this by themselves. Luxurious liner? Whoever has this kind of cruise ship? The bus is the only possible solution but with a condition: They must go first in the preliminaries as the next bus is in 3 hours. And so all of them have to decide who should take the draw for the preliminaries. Yoshiko wants to do it but others view she has more bad luck than any other. Eventually she ‘defeats’ Dia in a rock-scissors-paper game. Behold her amazing luck! Aqours will perform as number… 24! That’s right in the middle! Hence the girls are now divided to just perform in either one. Of course nobody wants that as they want both. Can a miracle happen? Apparently Chika hits upon a great idea. Tangerines? After Aqours perform in their stylish kimono clad outfit at the preliminaries, all of them start making a dash across the mountain! OMG! Are they going to run all the way?! Not exactly. It seems in the mountains, Chika’s classmate runs a tangerine farm. They can ride some rail machine that is used to pick tangerines. I don’t know if Aqours riding it feels like overcrowding. What the heck? A turtle is faster than this machine! Then Kanan breaks a handle. It now becomes a roller coaster ride. Then they make the rest of their way by foot and manage to awe everyone at the open house. Wow. They really have so much energy after all that running. They can even perform like normal with all the energetic moves and smile. Truly idols. Truly a miracle. Truly crap…?

Episode 4
Everyone except Chika is nervous about the preliminaries’ result. That’s because they did so wonderfully that there’s nothing to worry about. Good for her. And the results are in. They pass! But of course. But here comes the real problem now. They lack the funds that would take them all the way to Tokyo. Just a stinking 5 Yen left. Of course the best next course is to work part time (sorry, Mari is not lending her fortune) but Dia scoffs off that old fashion way and suggests a flea market. It seems she has an ulterior motive. Noticing everyone is closer to Kanan and Mari, Dia too is ‘jealous’ she wants to get closer to them. At the flea market, Chika gives in to cute puppy dog eyes of little girls to sell dirt cheap while Dia makes it a hard bargain and will not sell below the listed price. Yeah, they didn’t sell much anyway. With Chika noticing something is wrong with Dia, she talks to Kanan about it. So Kanan and Mari go bug what’s bugging her. Eventually she reveals it and they couldn’t stop laughing. So at this day job at the zoo, Dia tries to be nice to everyone but they think she is mad and is suspicious of her goody behaviour. Is this really Dia? To avoid more confusion, Kanan and Mari tell the rest the deal. Somehow kindergarten girls are being let loose running all over the place. The girls can’t control them. Some even weep. Even Ruby?! And then Dia takes control of the situation and in her nicest behaviour rounds up all the girls to behave. Wow. At the end of the day, Dia feels dejected she couldn’t achieve what she wanted to but Chika tells her how everyone loves Dia for being strict with them when they slack because it makes them secure. They hope she will always stay that way. Don’t come complaining when she starts scolding the next round…

Episode 5
Riko still has fears of dogs. Especially Chika’s pet, Shiitake. One day, after Yoshiko’s mom visits Yoshiko’s mom, she left her handphone behind. She wants Riko to go return it to her but along the way Riko stumbles into Yoshiko feeding a stray dog. Yoshiko has it chase Riko around! Riko knew this was coming but Yoshiko wants her to temporarily keep this dog as her place doesn’t allow apartments. It seems the other girls will have their reasons too. So her logic is to keep it safe in one’s place who has phobia of dogs? Riko is forced to accept seeing Yoshiko has the dog chase her again. It gets a little awkward for Riko trying to feed it in her room but gets used to it. Then when Yoshiko comes by to claim it, Riko now wants it to stay?! She won’t give it back?! They end up arguing about it including the different name they have given it. It is like fate intervenes because Riko’s mom shows a poster of a missing dog. The dog is rightfully returned and the duo are depressed ever since. Heck, they are in perfect sync depressed. Yoshiko doesn’t accept this outcome and comes up with a conspiracy theory that the owner is fake! She is going to get the dog back! Riko tags along as she feels responsible for it somehow. Outside the owner’s doorstep, the moment the owner pops up, they run and hide. You mean they are going to wait there as long as it takes until the dog appears? We hear Yoshiko and her views as a fallen angel, destiny and unseen power. She might act like chuunibyou but she is also pretty perceptive of reality. She knows all those aren’t real but also accepts them. When the dog finally appears, it looks like it doesn’t remember them as it goes back in the house. I guess that ended it. I guess that’s destiny for them. Riko looks like she has overcome her dog phobia and is able to touch Shiitake. Talk about unseen power and dreams that are more than just coincidences. I don’t know. At least she learnt something from Yoshiko.

Episode 6
Time is running out. They don’t have many applicants and only a month left till the deadline. With the looming preliminaries of Love Live, there are websites trying to predict who would make it. Yeah, Aqours name is surely there. This time the polls will decide who advance to the finals. While it may do away with the anxiety of waiting for results, however this means the number of supporters you have determine your fate. How many students are enrolled at Uranohoshi again? Huge disadvantage. Because of that, Mari and Dia are bugging Kanan to resort using their last chance which is some dance choreography she came up. Kanan still has her doubts since Mari injured herself the last time. She throws away her notebook into the see but Mari jumps in to save it. See her resolve? Because Chika also feels the need to shine more than other groups, Kanan’s choreography comes to mind. Another round of bugging. If they don’t use it now, when will they? Kanan is not amused but decides to put her trust in her. But if it ever becomes risky, she will stop her even if it means dropping out of Love Live. So we see Chika trying her best to practice those moves but comes up short. Of course the usual flashback and motivation why she pushed so hard like everyone else. Even her pals come to support her. Don’t cry now. Keep trying. Close, but still not close enough so Kanan had to give her a final warning if she cannot pull it off by next morning, she’ll forget about doing it. Yeah, she’s going to take the whole night then… With more support from her friends, they remind her the most important person she is doing this for. She named everyone except herself. Yup. That’s it. Because of Chika, they are where they are now. And what are the chances Chika could pull off that move? Because now we see them performing perfectly at the preliminaries.

Episode 7
The results are out. Only the top 3 make it to the finals. And who are they? Drum roll please… Let’s say Aqours not only made it but they won the most votes!!! Thank goodness this isn’t some trolling dream. It is no surprise their view count on the internet keeps rising. But the real test is here. Do they have enough enrolment? Nope. Deadline is looming. Mari calls papa and he only gives her a mere few hours of extension. That’s like 5am in the morning, right? But right after that, the enrolment slowly rises. And then stops. This is like heart attack for them. Chika is so desperate to force invite others and even do a concert now! At this dead of the night? All you can do is believe in yourself. Yeah, believe. I guess shouting to the computer screen won’t change things either. Or screaming to the rising sun. But can a miracle happen? Because 98 enrolments and a minute left to the deadline. Come on… Come on! Suddenly applications are closed. Damn it! So close! On a side note, I want to know who the f*ck enrols during the dead hours?! Unless they’re foreigners, why would any Japanese kid be looking at the site and enrolling at this point?! Unless they are having haunted dreams to enrol or else… Damn drama… Anyway, everyone is frustrated. Especially Chika. Oh, if hard work could only guarantee victory. In the wake of this ‘defeat’, an announcement is made that the school will be absorbed to Numazu. So while everyone is putting up a brave front and try to practice because they still got the finals to win, Chika had to ruin it for everyone and cry. Okay. Nobody is in the mood either. They need some time to think if they really want to participate in the finals for the seniors, it isn’t that important. Eventually everyone believes they still want to participate. Damn you Chika for ruining things again because she doesn’t care about Love Live or their own way to shine. Without the school, there is no way to shine. I guess she complained so loud that the entire school could hear and hence give their answer to support them. They want Aqours to win the finals and cement Uranohoshi’s name as part of Love Live’s history. That is one way to save it and live forever. Not bad idea, right? New motivation, new hype. Let’s get to it.

Episode 8
Aqours is invited to Hakodate in Hokkaido as a special guests to watch the region’s Love Live preliminaries. A few antics of staying warm from the cold and keeping their balance on the wet icy ground… Before the performance begins, they go visit Saint Snow at the backstage. They renew their rivalry with the sisters, Seira and Ria to meet at the finals. Funny, it felt like a jinx because Saint Snow didn’t make the cut! It seems they made a single mistake during their act. Tough luck. Understandably Saint Snow isn’t in any mood but it is affecting Aqours too? Especially Ruby? Yeah, they heard Saint Snow were fighting and made a mistake in their last tournament too. Is this the end of them? Aqours go sightseeing and then stumble into the shop where Saint Snow works and lives. Not sure why Ruby was snooping around but she caught Ria crying in her room. Oh no. Death threats if you tell it to others. Ria then announces Saint Snow is through. She is done with anything that is idol. Later Aqours ponder about Saint Snow’s fate but Ruby seems to be the hardest hit. Because you know, big sister thingy. She almost reveals about Ria’s crying and instead ran away crying herself. WTF. Dia talks to her and it seems Ruby is worried they won’t get to sing together anymore once Dia graduates. She doesn’t want to be alone. Dia tries to be realistic. The school is closing down anyway but don’t think too much about it because focusing on the finals is what is most important. Dia was very happy when Ruby told her she wanted to become a school idol as she thought and decided it on her own. Later Ruby personally goes talk to Ria. Sounds more like reinforcement of their love for their respective big sisters. Ria too is worried about showing to Seira she is independent but screwed it up and now it has become their last song. Ruby tells her not to make it so then as she takes her to sing under the beautiful lighted up Christmas tree.

Episode 9
Ruby wants to do a performance with Ria for Seira and Dia but she needs Hanamaru and Yoshiko’s help. The quartet try to brainstorm things but since more time is needed, they get ‘permission’ to stay back while the other Aqours members take their flight home. Kanan and Mari make Dia paranoid that those young ones are definitely hiding something from them. Like as they they’re going to split from Aqours and form a new unit. Herald Saint Aqours Snow! Oh my, Dia panicked and almost caused the air stewardess to think if it’s some terrorist attack or something. The trio are in Ria’s room. They notice a snowflake crystal on her shelf. Ria explains the story how it was the symbol that made them form Saint Snow. Once they are done writing their song and lyrics, not sure what audition they had to go through so they could approve their event. Nervous, but I’m sure all that love and tears are worth it. They even make their announcement via radio broadcast. Probably the slipping up is what made it memorable. Ria seems to be hiding from a couple of classmates whom she never had the courage to talk to. Apparently she thinks they are upset for losing out on Love Live preliminaries. Yeah, with those faces I can see why… But it turns out they aren’t and are supportive of her and Seira. Wow. Sudden strike of friendship. More tears flowing… Aqours are soon called back to Hakodate. Is this just an elaborate setup so the younger sisters could give their older sisters an invitation to their event? Of course big sisters won’t miss it for the world. Time for a sisterly hug. And more tears… Looks like Aqours have also prepared a surprise and hint their new outfits are prepared. So we get to see the collaborated performance of Aqours and Saint Snow. If it was a surprise, why are they so well coordinated? Okay, maybe they had some little time to practice. In the aftermath, Ria makes up with Seira. Ria won’t keep Saint Snow going and will start a new group and find a different snowflake (why does this sound so politically incorrect?). She’ll make a school idol group that everyone can love.

Episode 10
Flashback shows a young Mari, Kanan and Dia went up to some stargazing site to make a wish on the star. Too bad God wasn’t on their side as it is cloudy and it is starting to rain. Mari was on the verge of giving up till Kanan marked the star chart for reference so that they could have their wish to stay together always. It is New Year’s Day. Saint Snow is here to help Aqours in their training. I guess this is the only way they could keep their relevance. Mari gets a call to be the director at Numazu as it would help ease the transition process. She declines since she is going to an Italian university recommended by her dad. Hence the reminder, she has 3 months left with them. Oh why do you need to trigger those worries and sadness for Chika? A little soul searching as Chika has to come to terms with reality. Mari thought Kanan and Dia would be mad at her for not telling about her plans. They aren’t because they too have their own plans and didn’t tell anyone. Now they’re even. More childhood flashbacks of them being together. One that includes Mari threatening to disown her parents if she didn’t get to hang out with the duo. They must love their daughter so much. The star chart brings back memories. Yup, even it gets cloudy and rains. They start ‘blaming’ each other but eventually Mari blames God! He is trying to not make their wish come true?! If that’s the case, she will disown Him! WTF?! That night, the trio have an idea. They gather the rest of the Aqours. Mari in the driver’s seat? Don’t worry. She’s got a valid licence. Her driving’s fine. I hope. Where to in this night trip? To see the stars. I know this series has some exaggerations but this one is totally ridiculous because we see the van flying into the night sky into the stars!!! OMFG!!!! I figure they must be high on drugs to see this illusion. At the site, looks like it’s raining. Again. Their wish is to one day be together again. So they’re going to stay here till it clears up? Haha! Or else they’ll disown God! Haha! Hahaha!!! You think the sky is going to listen to you? Haha! Haha~… Oh my… God must now be an Aqours fan because he clears it up for them???!!! Freaking miracle???!!! Is God scared of being disowned by a few cute girls? Oh yeah. So scared that he showered a few shooting stars for them to make several wishes. Now wanna bet He is going to make them win Love Live?

Episode 11
Uranohoshi prepares for its closing festival. The highlights include Mari trying to cook some premium nabe and some of Aqours see a couple of strange walrus mascots running by. Tracking them down, they suddenly disappear! Oh my. Ghosts? Still want to continue investigating in this dark storeroom? Why don’t they turn on the lights? Anyway they see the bed sheet moving and the culprit revealed underneath it is Shiitake? When the walrus duo pop up for real, it scares the sh*t out of the dog as it now rampages throughout the school. Why must it break down the arch that took lots of time and effort to put up? Anyway, Dia gives them an earful despite Chika giving explanation that Mito was walking Shiitake but the leash got loose. It is discovered that Kanan and You are behind the mascots and they are supposed to put on some show for kids for the festival. However if You has been fixing the arch, who is the one behind this mascot? NOTHING! OMFG! Real ghost???!!! The festival proceeds well. Highlights include Dia putting up a Love Live quiz and Yoshiko and Hanamaru ‘forcing’ Chika to come take a fortune because no customers. The biggest surprise for everybody is a bunch of girls release an arch made completely out of balloons to thank everyone for everything. Then they release it all to the sky. What a waste. Wouldn’t this be air pollution? What will the next prefecture say when they see balloons flying over? Oh, who cares? This is their last festival and since everyone is happy, let’s turn a blind eye. The festival ends with the students having a bonfire dance. Then Mari makes her final statement as Uranohoshi’s director. Happiness. Thank you. Emotional apology. You know the drill. But with everyone chanting Aqours’ name, everyone turns into a giant choir team and sings together. Wow. Did they sing until the wood becomes charcoal?

Episode 12
I wonder why Chika still holds that previous results sheet that has Aqours in dead last place with zero voters? Anyway, Aqours are off to the shrine to pray for their victory. They are glad to see many of their friends too have written their wish for them to win. But why the sad face when they see that there are also many other fans vouching for other idol groups to win? It’s not like they’re the only group in town, right? But this must be the only shrine in town because the board is filled with only idol victory wishes. Saint Snow is also there to personally give their blessing. Seira asks Chika if she wants to win Love Live. I thought that was a silly question even if Chika asked her previously this same question. As they stay in their inn, they are obviously nervous and pressured to win Love Live to etch Uranohoshi’s name in history. You eases the tension by having a pillow fight! We see Chika going about asking some of Aqours about why they want to win. Again, I thought it’s a silly question but I guess we need to ramp up some emotions from the viewers as they give their personal honest answers. Mostly, it’s got to do with love and pride of being part of Aqours. Of course everybody wants to win! Which team ever goes to the finals and wants to lose?! Silly! So throw away that old results sheet and chart your own path. Anyway, the next day, the big finals is on the cards. One last hurrah from Aqours to hype things up that they have come this far and all that is left is victory. From zero to one, from one to the future. Go, Aqours! We see them in their heavenly performance on stage.

Episode 13
From the banner at the start… Aqours won Love Live! Hooray! End of story. Oh wait. There’s still more? Oh right. Proper closure needed. So we see the students ‘vandalizing’ Uranohoshi walls with paints of positive messages because apparently this is their last day so it gives them the right. Then a final assembly and Mari’s last speech to officially close the school. Then everyone goes around reminiscing their times. Tears flow. Last moments together. More tears. Finally the closing of the gate in which Aqours have the honours to do so for more tears effect. Oh Chika, why make promises that you can’t keep. Because why tell everyone not to cry when everybody is already so into that? In the aftermath, spring is around the corner. The most shocking revelation is Riko is no longer afraid of dogs and has adopted one! And Shiitake has pups now. Shiitake is female?! Chika bums around at the beach. So apparently she gets to keep the banner and puts it out on the beach as it is the best place for everyone to see? Why not on some tall building? Whatever. Then with some encouragement from her family it isn’t like her to give up, Chika throws a paper airplane in which at the gust of her yell, it really flies ridiculously far as Chika chases after it. Oh, like fate playing a prank because it leads her back to Uranohoshi. Hmm… The gate is open… Chika walks around and reminisces all the things she and her pals have done in that particular corner of the school. So nostalgic that damn she’s crying now. What did I tell you about not making such promises? At the hall, she is shocked to see all the students waiting for her and on stage, other Aqours members extending their hand for Chika to join them singing as a group. One more for the road? Man, did they really plan all this and waited for Chika to show up? And Chika not knowing a thing? Okay, I understand if it’s Chika. And they expected all this to turn out exactly as planned? Okay, not surprising if it is for Chika. Thanks for the performances. Bye.

From Sunshine To Shining Star
Oh well… You know it is not over yet because… There is a sequel! Technically, a movie. Apparently goodbye seems to be the hardest word. I mean, would this be the end of the Love Live franchise? Or will they come up with another school that needs to be saved so we can have another bunch of new girls who are ‘forced’ to form an idol group to save their school by winning Love Live? Yeah. This formula is getting old. Unless you are super hardcore fans of idol themed series and one who is so into the Love Live series, then I guess the producers have got you locked in there, milking and squeezing all the money and every penny (or yen in this case) out of you. But I suppose you people won’t mind because you love your idols more than money, right?

I figure only fans of the series and Aqours can only appreciate this sequel. Casual viewers like me would have found nothing exciting or new to the table. Though, it does have its funny moments. In the sense that it felt weird that it seemed funny. But other than that it is basically a bunch of girls becoming idols in hopes of winning and achieving their goal. But if you think the Love Live series is going to be ultimately the same, this Sunshine series is slightly different in the sense of the plot that Aqours were unable to save Uranohoshi. Unlike in the original Love Live series, Muse managed to save Otonokizaka by the end of the first season. If Aqours managed to do that even by the end of the second season, I guess it would not be any different and might as well go back and watch the original Love Live series.

Therefore it gives a much needed drama for this season for Aqours to be even more relevant and work harder to achieve that goal to save their school. Thus for this series, that is why we have Uranohoshi’s final closure as the main ‘story’ while the Love Live tournament feels relegated as secondary. It works to make the feels via separation than winning something. It hits you harder on the emotions there. Hey, this show is about Aqours, not Love Live. I really felt this scene of saving their school was ridiculous because of how unrealistically the numbers were trickling in as the deadline closes. As if it was to enhance the nail biting drama that they could do it, they could do it, and they could do it. At this point you would expect the final second saving grace moment. You know, when a hero diffuses a ticking time bomb, he usually does so with a second left on the clock. Yeah… Alas it was a heart attack and heartbreak for those really expecting for good news. They might have lost this battle but they have won others, right? So it’s not so bad after all. Hey, you can’t win everything and earn a flawless victory. Life is not that rosy despite looking at how easy and fun becoming a school idol is when it isn’t so straightforward. I know they put in a lot of effort in the background that is not shown but still, they make it look like so much fun. Maybe it is for them. After all, it’s not like they want to dominate and conquer the world, right? Or do they? The other ridiculous part was ‘flying to the moon’. I know, exaggeration but really, that was too much.

Fans would be familiar with the members in Aqours especially if you have a favourite girl. This season does focus on some of them but not all of them. I feel the second years like Chika and You are mainly on the side lines while the juniors and the seniors have more limelight and screen time. There is not much changes to the characters either since Yoshiko (or is it Yohane?) is still acting like a chuunibyou, Hanamaru speaking in her weird accent and Ruby still being the shy and most timid of them all. I guess the biggest ‘change’ is Riko overcoming her dog phobia. No more Shiitake chase running joke? Okay then. Good for her. I still maintain Chika as the most annoying of them all because of her tendency to drag others into her own pace. Despite all that sunshine and super optimism, it becomes annoying when you see her spout all those flowery hopes and dreams and making it look so good. Then she tries to act tough by keeping up her positivism and cheery side when we all know that deep down inside she’s breaking up. Shouldn’t she be true to her feelings like always? Whatever. In the end, Aqours is Aqours and they certainly have found their own shine after all the moments they have been through. Their breakup is understandable as they will be going separately to different places. But can they reunite in the later years? Maybe that is all a different story altogether and it won’t be the same as now when they’re still in high school.

As part of the surprise and twist, Saint Snow who is supposed to be Aqours biggest rival crashed out early. I guess this only gives an excuse to have more friendship drama because the sisterly duo definitely have more screen time and focus. Heck, even more excuse to show their sisterly love! I suppose that is the other theme of this series other than friendship. In a perfect world, big sisters love their little sisters and likewise little sisters love their big sisters. What a big happy world. Is it me or does this worlds have only females? Yeah, coincidently those with siblings only have sisters. Where are all the guys?! They become fat ugly useless otakus possibly showing up at concerts and performances when they have to support their favourite idol group. But then again, I have a feeling all the fans in the stands are females too. No wonder you don’t hear any creepy stalker stories from this series. Too traumatic for its sunshine theme.

Artwork and animation remain consistent as the first season, bright and colourful. Cute looking girls and the use of CGI when the girls are dancing on stage. Doesn’t look too bad but it would be if you think too much about it because CGI dances seem to make them look a bit robotic. Because the setting of this place is the seaside, there are some nice backgrounds to look at. As usual, an idol themed series is all about the songs but I didn’t find any that I really like, not even the various insert songs. Well, there’s one. The closest that came to attracting my attention was My Mai Tonight. A typical group idol opening theme, Mirai No Bokura Wa Shitteru Yo with all the cute stuffs that you would expect from Aqours. The same can be said for the ending theme, Yuuki Wa Doko Ni? Kimi No Mune Ni. Of course this has multiple versions. You have the individual solo or duo versions and the big group Aqours version.

During the same season, another idol series aired with its second season: Wake Up, Girls! I am not sure if they are supposed to be going head to head with each other and pitting fans of both sides against each other. But I don’t see anything of that sort serious rivalry since there is no reason to hate or sabotage other groups as long as you love your own. Right? Either way, both have their own styles and their own fans so no big deal or cutthroat competition to see who is better. On a side note, I am neither their fans but yet I still watched both series and all their previous seasons. Am I a closet idol fan?

Overall, like I have said, only fans of Aqours and the idol genre would definitely connect and grow with the characters over 2 seasons (4 if you include the original Love Live that has no real connection with this one). You learn, laugh and cry at all their endeavours and attempts as they inch towards their dream and shine and feel the heart-warming friendship that brought them this far. But like everything else, it must all come to an end so what better way to go out in a bang and do the things you love and want to do before you can never have that chance again. Thank you Aqours for leaving a lasting impression in our hearts (at least till this season ends). Oh wait, there’s that movie sequel so looks like they’re going to be sticking around for a while. From zero to one, from one to the future, and from the future to infinity and beyond! Aqours can really reach for the stars now.

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.

Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism

September 10, 2017

Why do I have a feeling that this show is in some ways trying to pander to current feminism? In Busou Shoujo Machiavellianism where a school is run and dominated by females, troublesome delinquent guys from around the country are sent here to be corrected by them. They have to be ‘corrected’ by assimilating to their ways. Or else… No one has succeeded and the ‘peace’ reigns for a long time. Until a guy who doesn’t give a sh*t about all that gets transferred in and fights this system and winning them over in the process. Hey wait. Isn’t this just some action battle harem anime?

Episode 1
The Supreme Five Swords, Rin Onigawara, Mary Kikakujo, Satori, Tamaba, Warabi Hanasaka and Tsukuyo Inaba are discussing a new troublesome transfer student coming in today, Fudo Nomura. He was expelled from his previous school for starting a brawl. Despite knowing some sort of martial arts, he was gravely injured and just released from hospital. Kirukiru Amou waltzes in to warn them about looking down on him. It sounds like she has fought him before. She warns them about his spirit bullets. Rin says she will personally correct him before homeroom is over. Nomura is surprised to see all the girls in school armed and all boys dressed as girls! This fat tranny, Kusuo “Masuko” Masukodera warns him that the only ‘freedom’ they have is to follow the law or you have none. When Nomura enters class, Rin and her classmates immediately pin him down. Since he is unaware of what is going on, cue to explain to us how the Five Swords control the school. A bit of history too when Aichi Coexistence Private Academy which used to be an all-girls school opened up, the girls felt unsafe and were allowed to carry weapons. Thus the custom of arming vigilante groups became a custom to allow 5 girls to carry swords. Over the years, the school has become one in which delinquents from across the nation are sent for reformation in the name of coexistence. Nomura now understands what Masuko was trying to say to him but he is not going to take this lying down. He is given a choice to leave or coexist but he chose neither. He becomes fast enough to escape from his hold and escape but Rin is hot on his tail.

Rin catches and tries to cut him down with her sword but Nomura is pretty agile and adept, using his feet to defend against her strikes. Then there is this Jikishinkage School that Rin came from because she is using her breathing technique to strengthen her muscles, etc. Whatever. Nomura gets his a slash on his side face when his made a rash judgment. He brings out his iron gloves to fight her. When he is backed to a corner, she relentlessly attacks. He is waiting for her to step back and breathe but she knows he is waiting for this moment. But in that brief moment when she does, he manages to place his palm on her ribs. An air gust blasts her away, shocking everyone who is watching. Nomura is pretty confident in explaining this unnamed technique but is shocked when Rin knows it as spirit bullets. Nono Mozunono tries to hit Nomura away from her but accidentally pushes his head down. This means their lips meet! Rin becomes a flustering wreck, trying to hold in her embarrassment. She promises she will castrate him. Did he upgrade from correct to castrate?

Episode 2
Mary thinks it is her turn to teach Nomura a lesson. But her disciple, Choka U. Baragasaki who is part of the Junior Five Swords will act on her behalf. Nomura asks Masuko on how to leave the school grounds. There is a permission slip that he can only get from Rin. Plus, he must get all stamps from the Five Swords. There is also a school store that gets what you need. Of course there is a smuggler who can get you anything you want for a price. Nomura wants a cake. In class, the girls are afraid of Nomura thinking the cake is to trick them into kissing him. He wants to give this to Rin but she is absent and resting in her dorm. Speaking of her, she is mad and confused at what happened. Her temperature is fluctuating. Nomura comes in to give the cake. Now he notices her face since half her demon mask is broken. He thinks she is quite pretty behind it. Why not take it off? She doesn’t want others to look at her without her mask off. Well, you do whatever you want. He requests for the slip but she says that is only for students who are behaving well. When he mentions he wants to see her in casual clothes outside school, she immediately gives the card, hoping this will make up for his visit. He jokes that he could make up the difference with a kiss. Her temperature rises as she faints. As he tries to catch her, Nono walks in and misinterprets this rape scene. Immediately the dorm is on lockdown. Nomura tries to escape this booby trap dorm. Is this really a dorm?

He manages to get outside but is faced with Choka. She took too long in her fancy introduction that Nono catches up. There seems to be some sort of rivalry between Choka and Nono as the latter plays down the former’s fakeness of pretending to be an Italian when she is just Japanese. Nomura dodges Choka’s whip and Nono’s short stick. It might seem he is outnumbered but they claim this is level 2 punishment and the only person who made through this is another delinquent from another school, Amou. She is a rare case of a female delinquent. The duo are not in sync and can’t cooperate well together and Nomura is able to easily use his spirit bullet on Nono who then collapses on Choka. In this dire situation, before Nomura can teach them a lesson, they start crying. Yeah, everyone thinks of Nomura as a bully. In the evening, Rin gives her stamp on the slip to Nomura. But after she learns what happened in the day from her classmates, Sassa Kurasaki and Ui Migii, her temperature rises again. Choka gets her punishment from Mary but she is going to get her revenge on Nomura for laying his hands on her disciple. When Nomura enters class the next morning, all the girls are staying away from him, fearing they would get pregnant by being close. Even you too, Masuko?! With Rin breathing down his neck again, looks like she is going to personally supervise him for the sake of this school’s safety.

Episode 3
Masuko warns Nomura to be careful now that he is Rin and Mary’s target. Nomura remembers a person who withstood their punishment. Amou or as she is known here as Empress sure did. The way Masuko describes how she defeated them with her lethal hand chops makes Nomura wonder if that is the person whom he fought before. Rin comes early to get Nomura. She checks his bag and despite him trying to be sarcastic if she is going to follow him everywhere including the toilet, she plays it cool that if he wants to, she will. Mary arrives and she is not happy Nomura is under her supervision. Mary has got the wrong idea of Nomura’s rampage at the dorm, though Rin clears this misunderstanding up and assures he didn’t do all that on purpose. Rin tells Nomura to head along while she settles with Mary with a girl’s talk. So apparently as you guessed it, their way of talking is via sword fight. Rin lost since she is still recovering. Choka tries to intercept Nomura with her whip. This time he takes out his belt to render her whip useless. But without touching her, she faints. Oops. His pants dropped. Before him now is Amou. She looks a bit different than before. He tries to confirm if ‘he’ has become a girl because the Amou he knew is a boy and tried to recruit him into his gang. Amou says she is different than that person he speak of and has always been a girl. Not convinced, Nomura is going to punch her and see for himself when he is interrupted by Mary’s scream. Oops. His zipper is down. By the time Nomura looks back, Amou is gone. Amou’s flashback indicates she is indeed that person. She beat him up real good when he refused to join her. She remembers attacking him with the perfect strike that would have made him her subordinate. She wonders if she hesitated. But she will never acknowledge that guy and will kill him the next time he sees him.

Nomura is now fighting Mary through the hallways. However he has a hard time dodging her rapier as it is flexible. Each time he dodges, it can ‘turn around’ and poke him. Since she aims for his nerves, it could be a painful pricking each time. The only way is to charge straight in which as expected she stabs straight into him. However she feels her move did not connect. Thanks to the thick manga inside his shirt. Not a fearsome weapon, you say? He hits her head with it! Enough time to put his palm on her rib and do spirit bullets. Mary admits she has lost and allows him to do whatever he wants to her. Anything. So she’s expecting to be raped? But when he won’t do it, she thinks he views her less charming than the rest! You can never understand how women think! Because seeing Rin, Choka and Nono got violated, if she doesn’t get violated this means humiliation! Hey, she was hit on the head with a book. She tries to give her breast for him to fondle. Not interested? Well, he doesn’t like being coerced into it. He wants her stamp however. But she places it in her cleavage. Now he will definitely have to touch them. However he controls himself. This makes Mary rethink about her impressions of boys. They are not as bad as animals as she thinks. Rin arrives and misinterprets the situation. He is dead meat. Mary clears the misunderstanding. Her condition to give her stamp is that now she has to supervise him. Rin is not happy about this and they argue over Nomura being theirs. Erm, doesn’t this look like some romcom harem argument now?

Episode 4
Warabi just returned from Hawaii. She sees the tomfoolery between Nomura, Rin and Mary and is not pleased the mockery this has become. Therefore in addition to making Nomura her correction target, those girls will also be part of her correction. Nomura is shocked to see Masuko crucified on the flag post. Warabi is responsible for this as she claims he has been smuggling contraband into the school grounds. She then has them participate in her Death Olympics (Warabimpics?) in which they need to make their way through various challenges. If they win, Nomura gets her stamp. Good enough for him. She sends her musketeers, Tsunemi Toko, Kinue Tanukihara and Nico Saruwatari to assist them. Because the first challenge will be a sumo wrestling and they need to put on a mawashi (sumo loincloth). Choka and Nono come attacking the musketeers for embarrassing their sisters but they are quickly defeated. Rin and Mary tell them to step down as they have no choice but to participate. Nomura has no problems putting on the mawashi himself. So can the girls do it themselves? Looks like they need some help… So with each tightening and turning, they must be feeling embarrassed. Or do they like that sensation? And Mary is upset because Nomura spent more time on Rin while hers was like so fast? WTF?! Adding to the embarrassment is that there is a camera crew to film and broadcast it throughout the entire school. Nomura decides to go first. So who will be his challenger? Warabi’s bear pet, Kyobo! Man versus beast! As the match starts, Nomura lunges straight for Kyobo. He does his spirit bullet but the bear is too heavy to take the fall. Not even his hidden bullet from the back with his left hand did any good. He surprises everyone when he lifts Kyobo! Apparently he has been training sumo since young by lifting older and heavier men. Nomura must have really lots of strength if he is ranting about Warabi watching from her high horse while she drags the innocent, hurts and embarrassed others. It might look like he ran out of strength when he puts Kyobo down. Actually, he couldn’t be more thankful to whoever wrapped his mawashi because it now comes off. According to official sumo rules, that amounts to disqualification. Nomura and his girls are encouraged with their first win (though, they’re still being tsundere about the team). Warabi is in shock over this shock loss. She wants he team assembled. The games are cancelled. It’s time for war.

Episode 5
Warabi will give the stamp as promised. But he must go through the school building to face her at the rooftop. It won’t be easy since they have to get past her musketeers as well as their assistant clones. To save time, Nono and Choka help to fight the assistants. Surprisingly Satori clears a path straight up to Warabi. Despite she hates Nomura, she doesn’t want Warabi to get her way any longer. The final boss fights involve Nomura taking on Kyobo who is well versed in boxing too, Mary holding down the musketeers from reaching the top and Rin facing off with Warabi in their swordplay. Nomura thought the internet has thought him how to deal with bears. Unfortunately he got a paw punch right in his face. Rin gets injured when Warabi uses ‘underhanded’ ninja tactics in her fight. Realizing that nobody is making any headway, Nomura thanks his girls for the help. This is a way to tell them to not be afraid and just focus on the enemy before them. With renewed confidence, they easily defeat the foes. Nomura has used a lot of spirit bullets on Kyobo so the inner damage has slowly been building up. So when Kyobo starts crouching in pain, Nomura finally has a clear shot of her head and one straight punch is good enough to knock her out. The sorority sisters happily reunite. When Nomura wants to quickly put on the mawashi on Warabi as punishment, Rin and Mary are not happy. So they want to monopolize that technique of his? They start chasing him around. Oh, Warabi gives her stamp.

Episode 6
Rin seems to be wearing a different uniform and Mary putting on a new perfume. Trying something? Looks like they’ve got heaps of rivals now. Because every damn girl is fawning over Nomura ever since he looked so cool fighting Kyobo! OMG! Every harem guy’s dream! I guess Rin and Mary are the only ones putting up sour faces. It makes them less cute… Oops. Watch what you say to them. Even more disappointing, he did not notice their change. So they’re complaining and complaining about him. Yeah, it’s sickening to hear them say how they want to correct him. Next morning when they go get him, they are surprised he is waiting for them. Since he notices their difference, I guess it makes them happy and decide to start the correction tomorrow. As they do the usual checking, they find a photo that makes their blood boil. A picture of Nomura and Satomi together in bed. Naked. Scandal! I don’t think they want to hear him out even if he doesn’t remember this. Better run. They’re really going to kill you. Luckily Warabi and Kyobo hide him. After learning what happened, it is obvious this is a trap by Satomi. She is doing this because if she took him out directly, Rin and Mary won’t shut up about it and thus trying to wreck their relationship first. As long as they don’t realize this, she can plot all she wants. Nomura thinks he has a way to clear his innocence. There is a bright light censoring his dick and since he clearly remembers he didn’t have a boner then, he could steal the data as proof. But how is he going to sneak into the girls’ dorm as security has been upgraded tenfold. If he can’t sneak in, he’ll let them in. Warabi likes this plan and goes along with it.

Nomura allows him to be captured by Rin and Mary. Then they torture him to the max although his lips are sealed. When they see a hideous scar on his back, they stop. Then Warabi comes to let him out and they head to Satomi’s room to look for evidence. They didn’t find anything and believes she might be carrying it with her. Right now she is in the bath. Why does Nomura look happy to infiltrate there? Warabi cautions him that Satomi is an odd one. She behaves as though she is a mysterious creature pretending to be human. In the hallway, Sassa and Ui are passing by. Kyobo has to press and hide him against the wall. Remember, Kyobo is female. How does it feel like touching bear tits? Even bears can get stimulated! Almost busting his cover, this time Warabi goes to cover him but her ass is in his face. A little bear diverts their attention for them to escape. That little bear is Domo, Kyobo’s offspring. Searching the changing area, Warabi feels something is off when she doesn’t see Satomi’s sword. Then enters one of Satomi’s masked girl underlings, Misogi. She is said to be Satori’s right hand. Warabi protects Nomura from being hit by her blow dart. Satomi then comes out of the bath. She has expected Nomura to come but didn’t anticipate Warabi to be working with him.

Episode 7
Nomura deduces the masked girls had been tailing him for days and that is how they knew about things and dragged Masuko into this. Satomi disagrees because Masuko was helping all along. Nomura now remembers how Satomi and Misogi snuck into his room when he was asleep. After taking those scandalous photos, he wakes up but Satomi slipped a sleeping pill into his mouth via kiss. The data is in her pouch around her neck. So come get it. Meanwhile Rin and Mary are getting drunk on non-alcoholic beverages blaming a certain man… How disgraceful. Their sisters can only nod and serve. Warabi fights Misogi but the drug is taking effect and weakening her. She stabs herself to stay focus but she is at her limits. Nomura is forced to fight naked Satomi. It’s her plan to distract him. I mean, can you fight with a boner? Nomura is taken by surprise when Satomi attacks are too fast to dodge. He can’t tell what she is thinking from those dead fish eyes of hers. Just when he thought he had figured out her fighting school style, she changes it. And again. And again. He realizes she is from a school that takes a technique from separate schools. Though he is correct, Satomi shows how she could chain those different techniques into one combo. Despite he finds it hard to find an opening, there are times when he notices she gets sloppy. Then it hit him. Might as well take this gamble. He strips naked! True enough she reacts. When a guy shows his dick, girls either focus at it or stare away. Therefore he has rendered her eyes useless. Warabi defeats Misogi using her judo. Once she gets the cure from her, she beats the hell out of her. But she is in for a shock when she unmasks her. Satomi threatens to drop the data in the water. So what is he going to do? He slaps her! If he is going to get expelled, might as well do that with no regrets. She wonders if it is because he got framed, tortured or future plans ruined. No. It’s because he made Rin cry. She is amused by his great reply and finds humans interesting. He says he is human too since the last part she got mad. Yeah, she really does hate you.

Episode 8
When Nomura extended his hand to pull Satomi out of the water, she pulled him in as she heard someone coming in. Warabi’s musketeers have arrived and they see Warabi and Misogi out cold. Toko thought she could unmask Misogi but even with her unconsciousness, the grip is still strong. Tsukuyo then comes to clean things up and has the dorm lady, Eva handle the rest while she goes to settle those in the bath. Satomi hides Nomura but nothing can escape Tsukuyo’s ears. She still plays dumb there is no one around. Tsukuyo will speak to her outside in the yard as there is someone she doesn’t want to hear. Nomura comes out of his hiding as Satomi warns he cannot beat Tsukuyo as he is now and will die if he fights her. Because Nomura collapses from the exhaustion of the torture and fighting. Rin cannot sleep because all she can see is Nomura’s face. She sneaks out but bumps into Mary. They freak each other out. They probably had the same idea. Excuses, excuses. So they accompany each other to drink but can’t leave until the other is gone. It gets worse when their sisters join them. Now they can’t leave. They try to outdrink each other but their sisters just want them to quit this silliness. Satomi then comes in to tell them Nomura is resting in the infirmary (she carried him all the way there while he is naked through the dorm). How does she know that? Because he attacked her in the bath. Time for them to blow their top again. Meanwhile Tsukuyo who has a weak body has caught a cold for waiting outside and is now being nursed by Eva.

Satomi assures Nomura he told Rin and Mary the truth. When Rin comes in looking mad, Nomura fears she told them the twisted truth. But when Rin apologizes, to Nomura’s relief that Satomi did actually tell the real truth. Rin feels ashamed after Satori confessed that everything was her ploy. She allows him to do whatever he wants so he has her close her eyes. Getting ready to kiss? Actually he takes off her mask. What’s this? She would rather have him look at her naked body? He wonders why she wears one so she explains her mom told her she is ugly. Dad cheated on her and left the family. Mom must have seen shades of him in her and told her she was the daughter of a demon and to cover her face when she was around. She felt she could live without shame. By the time she left for school, she was already used to it. So when Nomura told her she was pretty, she was happy to hear it. He gives the mask back to her since she needs to decide herself when she wants to take it off. Above all, he realizes she still loves her mom despite it all. Something he will never understand since he is an orphan and never knew his real parents. Some sword obsessed old man took him in and trained him like hell. Can you believe that Rin is crying? Nomura thought it is right at this point they trade secrets. Now Mary comes in. She also heard everything from Satomi and feels ashamed. She allows him to do anything to her body. Woah. She already stripped? Too bad, instantly rejected. When Nomura returns to his room, Masuko asks what he thinks of him. Not in a romantic sense! He must be a terrible person but Nomura already knew he was the one who drugged his dinner. Can’t blame him as he only did it to protect the other guys. He considers that kind of person to be his friend. Masuko did a special service by washing his pillow case. That’s because that is where Nomura keeps his slip and looks like Masuko has got Satori’s stamp for him.

Episode 9
What’s this? Some monster stalking the trannies in the bath?! Who wants to look at them?! When they complain to Nomura, he really isn’t interested. Not sure if Rin calling him out to go to school is even worse. When word that Amou has left her room and is missing, Tsukuyo also reports how she heard she is putting on carbohydrates. With that, the principal Yoshino cancels today’s class! There seems to be more commotion at school. Warabi and her musketeers are looking for missing Domo. She wants the cub found before Satomi as she knows she’ll treat it as a rough toy. On the other hand, Mary is trying to find Choka’s wig. Wait. What?! So those killer drills are her wig? I knew there was something so unreal about them. Mary and Warabi misinterpret each other’s search (I think there are lots of bear and wig puns in it) and once they realize what the other is looking for, they start arguing theirs is more important. But looks like Nomura has got this case solved. The monster terrorizing the boys’ dorm is Domo in that wig. Everyone for the first sees Choka without her wig. OMG! So different! Barely recognizable. So Japanese… With these missing cases solved, the big problem now is missing Amou. Warabi is glad that Domo is found but is suspicious with Satomi’s lack of movement. They discuss about Misogi and it seems that Satomi and Misogi have the same face?!

They are sisters in fact as they both meet. Misogi is worried her cover is blown but Satomi the sadist slaps her for being a worrywart. Amou steps into the picture. She is describing Satomi as a monster who finds pleasure by looking down on others. Something about the need to constantly create new enemies and then take them out. She finds her pitiful. Empty. A ghost. Warabi spots Amou and Satomi’s confrontation and rushes to the scene. The fight is inevitable. Amou is able to detect Satomi’s fast draw and hurt her. Misogi tries to help but also gets attacked. Flashback reveals that they actually switched place! I’m so confused. I don’t know who is who now. It seems one sister loves looking down on the other. But when the other stole her place and everything else, it was the first time she felt how it was liked to be looked down upon others. Since then, the sisters traded place and acted like the other. Even their parents couldn’t tell them apart. Misogi, despite her face, name and future stolen by Satomi, she still loves her sister. For the first time Satomi shed tears but merciless Amou puts them out of their misery. Warabi arrives too late but she is going to clean the mess up. Too bad not even a combo with Kyobo could defeat her. As though Amou’s body is made of steel or something. Meanwhile Nomura sees Tsukuyo. He disregards Masuko’s warning she is the strongest and most feared among the Five Swords. He is going to get the last stamp and casually walks up to her. Can you say he deserves it when he didn’t see it coming, Tsukuyo’s strike at his neck?

Episode 10
Nomura is glad he is still alive although for some reason Tsukuyo says he just died. What? I don’t understand. Yoshino entrusted Nomura to Tsukuyo and is only given 2 chances of offence. He broke both by breaking into Rin’s room and then into Satori’s room the bath. His third is ignoring her summons. Nomura learns that she is actually blind but makes up for her sharp hearing and fast attacking speed that cannot be seen by the naked eye. Nomura can tell that fast draw is from a certain school since he was from that school too. And there’s this mumbo-jumbo how she deduced him as a fellow student of that school due to how he fought his opponents. She knows about his spirit bullet from Amou. She thought they were friends because on the first day she transferred, she spoke fondly of him. But she doesn’t see them spending any time together since he came here. But yet he quickly became friends with Rin, Mary, Warabi and Satori. Tsukuyo becomes upset since Nomura ignores her to go see what the commotion is on the rooftop. Amou just finished beating up Warabi’s musketeers. Warabi cannot bear to see this and wants them spared in exchange she will allow Amou to kill her. But Amou doesn’t think an arrogant soul like her can save anyone and slashes her face. An eerie scream echoes throughout the school grounds. By the time Nomura arrives, he sees defeated bloodied girls lying around. He is surprised Yoshino is standing behind him and he didn’t even sense her presence. She attends to Warabi. Her eye sights are still intact but her eyelids are injured and need immediate surgery. She can tend to the fallen but wants Nomura to take care of things happening on the ground below.

Amou now goes to face off with Tsukuyo but Rin and Mary intervene. They are going to make her explain what happened but Amou will gladly recreate that scene with their bodies. The duo are so weak that Amou doesn’t even fight them seriously. Even in defence mode she defeats them. Rin realizes too late that her entire body is one big weapon, a single blade. Now she turns her attention to their sisters. Too scared to run? Tsukuyo steps in. First she asks Nono if she is her friend. Out of fear, she says yes. Tsukuyo’s face lights up because it gives her an excuse and reason to fight and protect her friend. She’s praising Nomura for this somehow? There is this mumbo-jumbo about Tsukuyo explaining why Amou’s bare hand combat is comparatively slower to her sword. Not that I really understand or care. Amou dares Tsukuyo to come at her. In a flash, Tsukuyo cuts her in 3 strikes. Too fast to see what happened. It did some damage to Amou but Tsukuyo didn’t get off scot-free either. She too has taken some damage and her sword broke. Amou has the last laugh because she notices her sword isn’t real and is perhaps a toy sword made out of cheap fake metal. Plus, without her sword, she is literally useless as a warrior. Tsukuyo is indeed cornered but she is blaming this on Nomura somehow? Before Amou can go in for the kill, Nomura pushes Tsukuyo away. Then the 2 rivals start screaming each other’s name. Are they going Super Saiyan?

Episode 11
Flashback when Nomura first faced off with Amou. He managed to use his speed to get up close from behind and touch her. He suggested a truce and Amou was more than happy to have one. They became friends. Apparently that face off was because Nomura wanted to protected his girly guy friend. As thanks, he wanted to show him around school. Amou tried to hijack that role but Nomura turned her down. Angry, she cut down his friend! No more friends then. Now, Nomura looked like he failed to block from Amou’s attack. But luckily his thick manga underneath his shirt saves him once more. Tsukuyo interjects about cutting it. She starts talking like a tsundere perhaps he wanted to be her friend. He dismisses it and that friends aren’t people you ask things of or get particular with. It just happens. Some people you want to be friends with but just didn’t turn out that way. Nomura seems to be hesitant if he could defeat Amou. This time Rin and Mary give him words of encouragement to take her out. This makes Tsukuyo wonder if this is what he meant by becoming friends because the girls used to hate him so much. Amou warns to stall fighting her or she may get bored and aim for others. He rushes head in with his speed but Amou is able to fend it all off. Nomura thinks he is dead meat when he makes a fatal move. He is saved when Tsukuyo’s voice guided him over to her side. She then lectures his hesitation which led to his half-hearted moves. I don’t think he needs this lecture now. She hints that Amou has already told him that something will work against her. Nomura takes it as a move that will dig his own great. But he is going to take it as he has too many great things in this school going for him. Amou becomes sad that he is on their side. All she wanted was him. She viewed the world as grey and bland. Everything wasn’t enough for her so she only cut out parts with vivid colour for herself. But Nomura was bright and coloured everything she had already taken into her control. She wanted him but he may have dyed her in his colour. When did she lose sight of that? If only things could go back the way it is. No it can’t. In that case, she’ll kill him.

Episode 12
Flashback shows after Mary ‘submitted’ to Nomura, Amou saw it and her heart started aching. She messed up her room and in short we can tell she is jealous for him. Knowing she is the same as him and will not submit, she decided if he cannot have him, she will kill him! This is worse than being a yandere! Back to the fight, Nomura bares his top so when Amou attacks it, it allows him to go up to touching distance and blow her away. Of course that isn’t enough to put her down. They start beating each other up with their fists and Amou seems to feel nostalgic of this pain. It makes her forget that burning desire in her heart. I suppose this doesn’t make her a masochist. Well, they both look happy trading blows. Nomura supposedly lost but Amou catches him. She realizes he fights not to win but to show where he stands. Because the victor is already decided. Go ahead. Give it your best shot. This is his last chance. Be hers. Nope. With that, Nomura finishes her off. But right after that ended, Tsukuyo know draws her broken blade at him. It’s time to finish their fight. She realizes they cannot be friends. She is disappointed in the way he fights, his balance and stance. In short, she wants him to be her student! In exchange she can give her stamp. It is a great deal to him but knowing Nomura, he is very well going to decline. Before he can say that, those masked girls are going to take down unconscious Amou. They are quickly defeated by Yoshino as she dismisses everyone back to class.

In the aftermath, Nomura is to be expelled from school. Nomura seems cool with it. He then visits Warabi and Satori recuperating in the infirmary one last time. Rin and Mary tries to convince Yoshino about the circumstances but his expulsion cannot be reversed. Outside he is surprised Tsukuyo is waiting for him. Nomura didn’t like she accepted him as her student when he didn’t give a reply. The he finds out Amou has been expelled and making her way overseas now. He wants to go to her and doesn’t care about the rules since he is going to be expelled but is reminded he is still a student of this school until all the paperwork is done. So Amou somehow got it all done? So Nomura is forced to be her student to get the last stamp to rush down to the airport to catch Amou and have a last talk with each other. She tells him to continue being himself and do what he wishes. She remembers she forgot to say something to him during their fight. She walks up to him and kisses him! She wants him to relay the misinformation to the Five Swords that he is hers. Since when was he hers? The moment they met, he has always been hers deep within her heart. Nomura returns as Rin and Mary wait to get him (they’re dressed like they’re ready to go on a date?). They explain that Yoshino was just joking about the expulsion. Yeah. He can still stay. In exchange, Rin and Mary must tightly hold onto his reins. So they gladly ask him to coexist or leave. Neither. Everyone else is waiting at the gates and welcoming back. Nomura is glad to be back.

Unarmed By Love
And so the entire bad blood with Amou was just simply down to because she likes him?! She needed somebody to take away the pangs in her heart? Who better than the one she likes? Wow. What a twisted way to get the attention of the one you like. So even the big and baddest girl of them all is actually the first one to like Nomura. I had a hunch it would be like that. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be fun, would it? Better to be a tough kickass instead of the typical girly and charming method. Imagine Amou like that. Imagine her being girly and asking Nomura to go out with her like how a shy teen girl in love would. Unthinkable. It would send shivers down our spine. So I guess in the end, it is for the best for everybody. They beat the crap and those feelings out of each other and settle their differences before walking down their own path. After all, Nomura and Amou are so similar that they cannot coexist. That is why the saying goes, opposite attracts.

Sometimes it makes me wonder if the author knows the meaning of Machiavellianism because he might just saw this word and it sounds and looks fancy without fully understanding what it means and thus borrowed and adapted it into this title. Okay, I’m not really 100% certain of its meaning either but I have a gist about it. Because I thought it has something to do with politics but to use it in high school? Yeah well, if you look at it this way, the girls are oppressing and forcing upon the guys using their own devious principals so in a way that could be seen as Machiavellianism. I think. Or shouldn’t it be Orwellian? Whatever the case may be, it sounds like the word gives the setting and everything else some sort of grandeur and intimidating feel. Heck, I think I sometimes have trouble pronouncing and even spelling Machiavellianism correct. The way the plot this series is seen, it looks like there is hardly any Machiavellianism. At least not for Nomura.

In view of that, we see how this Machiavellianism quickly turns into a farce for the girls especially the Five Swords. Instead of correcting Nomura or even dominating him, they got dominated instead and become his ally. I wonder lackey or love slave is too extreme a term for them. This is quickly seen in Rin and Mary as they are promptly defeated as they turn from honourable swordswomen to love struck idiotic teenagers. I mean, when you have a girl who wears a demon mask and an uptight strict noble foreigner suddenly turning into depraves, it looks like they lost their dignity. At least where the school rules are concerned. The duo immediately become running jokes and humiliating fodder to play out ridiculous acts (sometimes to the point of lewdness) that only a romantic harem comedy can have like spending more time arguing with each other over Nomura. Pride won’t have them admit they like him but it is so obvious in their body language. In other words, they lost their fangs when they lost to Nomura. It is a wonder that with the fall of a couple of the Five Swords, why aren’t the boys rebelling or whatsoever? Ah, I see they have assimilated and been corrected so they too have lost their manly instincts and fangs. Hence, I figure it is a reason why a couple of tranny guys who often narrate the next episode preview and make silly puns and jokes, continuing to be the way they are instead of changing back into their former selves.

Rin and Mary might be the most obvious in their conflicted feelings with their code and Nomura but you could have guessed that the other girls of Five Swords will soon follow (because for plot purposes) albeit less apparent. Warabi compared to the duo is still more respectable since she has a pride and doesn’t descend and make a fool out of herself when it comes to matters pertaining to the heart and Nomura. In a way, she is more helpful and an ally even if we know deep down she has taken a liking for him. Tsukuyo might look like she is the ferocious of them all since she is blind and when she opens her eyes, her pupils look scary. But she may be the most misunderstood seeing that perhaps all she wants is to make friends? Because nobody takes her seriously or being afraid of her, no one is long enough to stay and chat to get to know her. And so as you can see, Nomura didn’t have to lift much of a finger to get her to his side. Also thanks to Amou for bringing forward the final boss fight.

Among the Five Swords, I think Satori is the most intriguing and mysterious due to her very alien-like nature. She is lethal and deadly despite her somewhat retarded looks and tone but that itself could be a very scary thing. I believe she is the most dangerous one Nomura had to face among the Five Swords. Even more confusing is her swapped personality and life with her sister. I know it’s simple that the sisters switched place but it still feels confusing for a dumb person like me to just think about it. Nono and Choka feel as useless as their sorority sisters ever since Nomura came into the picture. Because all they ever do is get into trouble and then the need for their sisters to get them out or exact revenge for them. In conclusion, all of the girls have their own set of issues and personal problems to deal with. It is nice to know about their backgrounds and perhaps that sad past of theirs made them closed their hearts until the right man came along.

And so Nomura can be considered the alpha male of the series because he literally breaks down the pyramid and structure of this school. In other words, no males were manly enough to even defeat one of the girls and even getting up corrected themselves. This shows they have no balls and backbone and thus deservingly get their just desserts. So Nomura like the underdog in most stories, sets out to straighten up everything and the entire plot of this season and reason for him to face off with the Five Swords is just to get their stamp approval to get out of the school grounds. Otherwise, this guy has no reason to actually fight them in the first place if he wants an ordinary and peaceful life.

Therefore Nomura can also be called a saviour, the Jesus Christ to this school as he liberates the rotting and unjust traditions. That is why he is so refreshing and cool that all the girls want him. Don’t you dare get jealous of him since you’ve got no balls to kick ass in the first place. Weaklings like you should know your place! That is why Nomura is such a badass that Amou too wants a piece of him since from a long time. Nomura doesn’t pander to anybody and goes at his own pace. He has his own witty sarcasm that makes him charming in his own way (is it a running joke he often tells others how to pronounce his name especially the accent heavily on the first syllable?). That is why the girls want him. They realize being straight has more benefits than being lesbian! If I was a girl, I would totally fall for him and want this dude to protect me always! Kyun~! And when everything is all settled, they can now fight over him in a shameless harem battle royale. Too bad not this season. That’s why I guess Nomura returned to Aichi since it is a place where he dominates! The only thing that made me wonder was, if he is the kind of guy who freely does things his way, why did he settle to be accepted in Aichi in the first place? This is assuming he doesn’t want to be sent to this correctional facility in the first place. He would have just said no to whoever those adults decided for him and walked away without a care. Maybe he thought it would be the best place for a free and quiet life? Either way, he isn’t regretting his stay now.

The action bits are decent and average, just enough to satisfy. It isn’t that bad but if you want some sort of breath taking combos or super flashy moves all the time, series like Naruto and One Piece fare better (because they have more episodes too). At least each of the fighting characters has a variety of moves that make them unique. Though, I can’t really remember them. Whenever they pull off that move, I would like “Oh, I see… Whatever”. It must be some sort of big deal because each time we are introduced to a new move, we see a huge kanji writing of that move’s name covering almost entirely the screen. Not that I could remember them either anyway. Oh, there are quite a bit of blood too so be warned…

Art and animation are decent, nothing too special. A bevy of bishoujo babes, one bishonen guy and the rest of the bunch as ugly trannies. Everything is also bright and colourful and the character designs unique enough so you won’t get confused trying to make out which character is which. This series is animated jointly by Silver Link and Connect. This isn’t the first time they joined up and produce an anime as they have done quite a few as a team before. Namely, Strike The Blood, Chaos Dragon, Inawa Kuni No Alice and Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie.

What a delight because Mamiko Noto as Yoshino!!! Last episode cameo! It really made my day. Unfortunately I didn’t recognize any one of the seiyuus but if there is one voice acting which I would like to ‘complain’, it would be Kyobo’s. Yes, even this bear has her own seiyuu despite just making a few roars here and there, Saki Fujita (Ayano in YuruYuri). Although Kyobo can ‘exist’ in both chibi and ferocious form, in both forms she sounds literally the same. In other words, her roars sound like pussy. Woah! I am not sure if it is done on purpose because in her original fearsome bear form when she makes that kind of unconvincing weak roar, it just feels so out of place. So unreal. So bizarre. Like as though Kyobo isn’t a bear in the first place. Like as though some little girl is just cosplaying and wearing a suit of a big bear.

The casts of the series include Tasuku Hatanaka as Nomura (Kaminari in Boku No Hero Academia), Yuuki Takada as Rin (Aoba in New Game), Sayaka Kitahara as Mary (Aoi Sorano in Inazuma Eleven Go), Rina Hidaka as Warabi (Airi in Ro-Kyu-Bu), Nozomi Nishida as Satori (Makina Nakajima in Macross Delta), Natsumi Hioka as Tsukuyo (Machi in Kumamiko), Eriko Matsui as Amou (Isuzu in Log Horizon), Akane Kohinata as Choka (Matsuri in Isuca), Miku Itou as Nono (Mafuyu in Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desukara) and Tetsuhara Ohta as Masuko (this guy whose profile picture looks like a tranny is the voice of Gintama’s Yamazaki?!). The opening theme is Shocking Blue by Miku Itou. It is a lively piece with lots of fanfare that befits the action spectacle of the series. The ending theme, Decide by Tenka Goken is rock based.

Overall, this series is quite enjoyable even at times when things just seemed silly (why do they even have a bear in here?) if you can cast away your political correctness because if you have that twisted view of feminism, you’re not going to like the fact how strong girls are being viewed as submissive because all they want is the D. Really. A strong guy who would make them submit. And if you think really about it, this series feels like a man hitting women into his submission! So would you still want to watch this? Of course you should. At least this feels a bit like a different harem since Nomura isn’t really a pervert (more of gentleman at times) although if the situation arises for being a lucky pervert, he’ll take it. No matter how strong women are, they still have sensitive and fragile feelings inside and they need a strong man to support and care for them. Treat them like a lady. Because no matter how tough you are trained physically and mentally, genetically you are still a female, a female and a female. Same goes for men. Get over your misguided teachings or do you need Nomura to come kick your ass and correct you? And yes, there are only 2 genders.

Love Live! Sunshine!!

March 10, 2017

Eh? Do we need another Love Live series? I thought it was all over. Apparently this isn’t exactly a continuation or a reboot. More like a spinoff. Yes, another new group in focus. At first I thought Love Live! Sunshine!! would be about the younger sisters of the original Muse forming their own group and living up to their predecessor’s legacy. This is not the case. A bunch of new faces and a new school in a different prefecture means everything would be new although we all know the concept and setting would follow a familiar pattern. The forming of a new school idol unit, their trials and tribulations as they try to achieve the ultimate Holy Grail of the idol industry. What else can you expect from this genre? Oh, right. No space ass kicking idols to save the universe here for sure.

Episode 1
Chika Takami is a second year at Uranohoshi Girls’ High School. Along with her friend, You Watanabe they are trying to recruit members for their idol club. No takers. Oddly, Chika has never been interested in clubs and stuffs before but she’s getting into it thinking that school idols are all the rage now. They continue giving out fillers and stumble upon several ‘potentials’. Hanamaru Kunikida and Ruby Kurosawa seem suspicious first. Then there is Yoshiko Tsushima dropping down from a tree and acting all chuunibyou. Ruby seems to know her but Yoshiko seems to be pretending that she doesn’t. And the trio start chasing each other, forgetting all about the idol club. Chika is picked up by the student council president, Dia Kurosawa. She is chastising her for not even applying to create the club. Yup, the club officially doesn’t exist. Besides, there is a minimum of 5 members needed to form a club and Chika is the only one on it. To pour more salt on injury, Dia is adamant she will not have any idol clubs in her school! You thinks Dia is from a traditional fishing family so anything that seems silly will not get her approval. While Chika is trying to figure out ways to get new members, she sees a girl at the pier and thinks she is trying to commit suicide. She tries to stop Riko Sakurauchi from diving in but they both fall into the sea. Later as revealed, she was only diving. The reason being, she is trying to compose a song for a piano and needs to hear the sound of the sea to get inspiration. Despite she is from Tokyo, she doesn’t know what a school idol is. Too dedicated to piano to know anything else. Chika explains about them but doesn’t consider herself as part of them and just your average Jane. Then when she saw Muse performing, she became inspired. That dazzling brightness became her dream. Riko feels Chika’s words cheered her up. As they officially introduce themselves, Riko says she is from Otonokizaka Academy, the school were Muse is from. Chika gets more motivation when You decides to join her club. However Chika and Dia are still head butting each other. Dia tries to discourage them about an original song they need to write for entering Love Live. Because this school has no one gifted in music let alone someone who can compose a song. Then it is like a miracle dropping before Chika because Riko becomes a new transfer student in her class. The first thing she asks is to join her as a school idol. Sorry, she can’t. Dream dashed so quickly…

Episode 2
Chika continuously bugs Riko to join because she is the only one who can write songs. Still no. You on the other hand has designed some drafts for costumes. I think she needs to come up with something cuter than military and police outfits. Again when Chika bugs Dia and tries to give inspiration about Muse, the president snaps for her mispronouncing their name! She then quizzes Chika about Muse’s trivia but she doesn’t know a thing. Well, Dia seems to know awfully a lot. Is she a Muse fan? Unknown to Dia, her trivia interrogation was accidentally broadcasted throughout the entire school. Later Chika tries to lure Ruby with candy. They talk about Dia who is Ruby’s elder sister who is quite against any school idols so they aren’t confident if Chika’s club will get the green light at all. Also Yoshiko has been absent since the first day of school. Chika then sees Riko by the shore again. Still trying to find inspiration for her composition but no luck. Although Chika gives her motivation, Riko still declines thinking this is part of her ruse to get her to join her idol club. Chika accepts her rejection for now. Then she goes diving with her just to try out. As you know, miracles happen when this kind of scene pops up so Riko is able to hear what she wants for her composition. Although Riko agrees to write songs for them, this doesn’t mean she has joined their club. But to start writing one, she needs lyrics. What are lyrics? You mean Chika doesn’t even know what lyrics are? Chika invites Riko to her home-cum-inn to help think up of lyrics. Meet the weird sisters, Shima and Mito and their pet dog that Riko seems to fear? Brainstorming on what to write, since Chika loves school idols, she can write tons of lines on that. Back home, Riko tries to compose her song on her piano but it seems she has some trauma. Eventually when she gets going, Chika is impressed with her composition. Guess what? They live next to each other! Didn’t Riko realize this when she comes home? Anyway Riko still has some fears so Chika allays them by reaching out. I guess it means everything is okay when their hands touch.

Episode 3
The trio are practising their dance moves. Still need more practising. They are interrupted when a helicopter flies low. Riding it is Mari Ohara and Uranohoshi’s new chairwoman aside from being a third year student too. Well, her family is a major patron of the school. Dia is not happy because she vanished a few years ago without saying anything and now she is suddenly back. Mari gives hope to Chika’s idol group. If they can fill in the gym for their first performance, she’ll approve the club and get school funding. Otherwise, they’ll just have to disband. However when they calculate, the entire school isn’t enough to fill the hall. This means they have to get audiences from outside. So Chika begs to Mito for her company of 200 employees to come but looks like it didn’t fly. They go to town to distribute flyers. While You is a natural, Chika sounds threatening. Is that a way to ask people to come to your concert? Shy Riko? What good is talking to a poster will do? Ruby and Hanamaru are there too. But they ask a more pressing issue: What is their group name? And so our trio have to think about a group name quick. Let’s say each come up with their own lame names. They can write all over the beach the potential ones but eventually they stumble upon Aqours. Feels good. Something related to water. Okay, so Aqours it will be. They don’t even know who wrote this. After that it is more flyer distribution. On the night of their performance, the trio are nervous. When the curtains rise, well, only a handful of them. You can count them all who attended. They carry on their performance but halfway the electricity is cut off due to the bad storm. They try to carry on without the music but it is so heart-breaking that Chika is close to tears. And then suddenly here comes Mito bringing her entire colleagues! Wow. Suddenly the hall is filled. Traffic jam all over the place? Well what do you know? Mito scolds Chika for putting the wrong date on the flyer. More miracles because Dia turns on the generators for backup power. The trio continue their performance to a standing ovation. Oh wait. Everybody is standing in the first place. At the end, Dia confronts them that their success is only due to past efforts of other school idols and the kindness of these people. Chika agrees but had they not done anything, nothing would have happened.

Episode 4
Mari gives the green light for the idol club to be approved. This means they have their own clubroom. Uhm, very messy. Clean up time. However they’re still short of members. Ruby reports to Hanamaru that the idol club is approved and is very happy about it. This has Ruby remember she used to act out performances of Muse with Dia. They love idols so much but one day after Dia entered high school, she started hating them and doesn’t want anything to do with it. So if big sister doesn’t like it, Ruby is not allowed to like them too. WTF?! Mari sees her friend, Kanan Matsuura and wants her to join the idol club once she returns to school. It is the reason she came back. However Kanan is not pleased. Hanamaru suggests to Ruby they try out the idol club. Of course Chika is happy but she must remember that if they don’t like it, they won’t join. They hope they can keep this a secret from Dia too. The first order is to train. But there is no decent place for them so it is suggested the rooftop. Like how Muse did it. For stamina training, they run up the mountain. Hanamaru lacks stamina and although considerate Ruby wants to wait for her, she tells her to forge ahead and not be someone she doesn’t want. Otherwise she’ll suffer. After Ruby goes ahead, it seems this is part of Hanamaru’s plan as she is scheduled to meet Dia nearby. She tells her to listen to Ruby. That’s it? Oh, here Ruby and co comes. Dia wants an explanation so Ruby explains the truth. Ruby officially joins Aqours. But what about Hanamaru? She thinks her role is over and returns to the library where she belongs. She loves books. Of course Ruby can’t have her ending like that so she is going to force her to join. Forgive me, I reworded it harshly. Ruby has been observing Hanamaru too and knows she was pushing herself for her sake. She noticed she was happy while practising too and that she loves them as much as her. Let’s be idols together. Hanamaru doesn’t think she doesn’t have what it takes to be an idol. But Chika tells her it is not the question of can or cannot. It is whether you want or not. And so there were five. When they key in their group name to check out rankings on Love Live, they rank 4999. Not bad, right?

Episode 5
Yoshiko believes she is a fallen angel and even records a video of herself doing all those chuunibyou stuffs. But it’s like her other rational personality told her to stop it since she’ll be a high school girl and it will be embarrassing. Unfortunately bad habits are hard to die out so when she first introduced herself in class the first day like that, it’s the reason she never showed up anymore. Aqours move up in their ranking by a few hundred ranks. Not bad. Hanamaru has never seen a computer before since her family runs an old temple. You bet she is a noob when it comes to all technologies. So when she accidentally shuts down the computer… Hope they saved their work. Hanamaru spots Yoshiko spying on them and calls them out. She is afraid her classmates think she is weird but after being assured they won’t remember a thing, she is confident to start anew. Yoshiko portrays herself as the graceful cool beauty. She becomes popular as her classmates would love to know her better. That’s when it goes downhill because Yoshiko starts doing her chuunibyou when they wanted her to do her fortune telling. Oops… She feels disgraced but Chika finds it cute. Thinking this is what they need to improve their rankings further, she asks her to join their school idol club. Everyone tries out the gothic outfit at Chika’s place. But her dog keeps harassing Riko so she literally jumps back home!!! She can become a long jumper if this falls through. A video of a cheesy fallen angel of them is filmed. Embarrassing, right? But it increased their rank just below the thousand mark!!! OMG! Amazing???!!! However when Dia sees this, she blows her top at this utmost embarrassment. She warns them the popularity is only temporary because right now they have dropped back down to behind 1500 as other groups also do their best to stand out. Yoshiko thinks it is the end of her fallen angel days and can live a normal high school life. After she leaves the group, the rest discuss why she was so obsessed being a fallen angel. She was just normal like them and never stood out. Then they realize they want her and chase her all across town just to ask her to join Aqours. She can continue being a fallen angel. It is who she is. It is what she loves. They accept her for all the nonsense. Chika realizes being a school idol isn’t about what people thought or how to get popular. It is doing what you love most that makes you shine the most. And with that, Yoshiko’s in.

Episode 6
Dia learns from Mari that Uranohoshi will close down and merge with Numazu. Of course Mari is trying to delay that from happening, thus her return as chairwoman. But if next year’s enrolment numbers go down, the inevitable will happen. An excuse to use idols to revive the school? Well, Dia is not going to fall for this. So Aqours also learn about this but Chika is ecstatic because they are going to follow the same route as Muse and Otonokizaka. Does she really think this path will also lead Aqours to glory? Well, no harm dreaming. Thus she comes up with an idea of doing a PV. Unfortunately they are all over the place and have no idea on what to report on what is good in their town. Mari also tells Kanan about Uranohoshi’s fate. She can keep it alive but needs her help to come back to school. Kanan is not amused she ‘broke’ into her house just to tell this but Mari reminds her she is her stalker. When Aqours show their PV, if Mari thinks it is trash, I guess it says everything. They might have put in a lot of effort but the result is still crap doesn’t make it any better. Later Chika sees Dia performing alone in the hall. She is amazed at her skills and wants her to join Aqours to help keep it open. But Dia refuses and will fight this her own way. Mari is here to harass remind her about nothing will change if she keeps running away. Dia responds she never ran away. Not now. Not then. When the school is doing community service picking up litter on the each, Chika gets an idea for their PV. They do a music video and mix it in with this communal work.

Episode 7
Aqours now ranks 99th! Not bad! The top 100 qualify for Love Live. Phew, right? Then they get mail for them to attend the Tokyo School Idol World Committee. They’re going to Tokyo! Ruby seeks ‘permission’ from Dia but is told she has already decided on what to do so what others say don’t matter. Then Dia confronts Mari about the idols going to Tokyo. Mari tells her Dia could have stopped them if she wanted although Dia is more concerned if they should fail. If the worse may come to worst, then there’s no avoiding it. So here Aqours is at Tokyo. A bunch of country bumpkin at awe with the tall buildings, the city life, getting lost, getting lost in shopping, etc. Then they run up the legendary stairs that Muse used to run up. Legendary like Rocky Steps? At the shrine on top, they hear the beautiful voice of 2 girls singing. The duo know all about Aqours and seen their videos. They know why they are here and are looking forward to it. From the way they sound, they’re like their rivals, right? And why do they have to look ‘evil’? To show Aqours what kind of bar is raised, one of them does an acrobatic somersault! Later Chika wants to visit Otonokizaka but Riko seems against it. Riko explains she doesn’t hate her ex-school. It’s just that each time she thinks of it, it’s like there are expectations to be met and all she did there was practice and in the end she failed. Chika on the other hand wonders what it’s like to have expectations. When people came to see them off, she felt happy and scared. It’s like she had to meet their expectations and cannot fail. Aqours are at the Dome where they will perform and the audience will vote to rank them. It seems Aqours will be one of teams to start first. Second, in fact. At the backstage, Ruby is still nervous and Yoshiko is still spouting her chuunibyou crap. Then they encounter those girls at the shrine again. You didn’t think they were idol rivals? They are Saint Snow.

Episode 8
Saint Snow goes first and we see their outstanding dance to the rock and hip hop mix. After that it’s Aqours. Well, we didn’t get to see their performance (to say that this isn’t their best?) but we see the girls a bit down and Chika forcing herself to stay cheerful and positive. When they are handed the results, they look for their name of course. Saint Snow ranks 9th. Hmm… Aqours not on the first page. Maybe the second page… Aha! Number 30th. Not bad, right? Well, there are only 30 teams participant. Damn. So how many people voted for them? Zero!!! OMFG! Ironically Saint Snow praises them for their performance. And then a reality check. Because they warn to give up trying to become like Muse. Love Live is not some game. You can’t brush that off easily when they say that with tears in their eyes. On the way home, Chika continues to remain positive and thinks they have done their best. Back home, their fans greet them. But when Dia comes to get them, Ruby lets loose her tears. Time for a little advice. Dia sees nothing wrong in their performance and they have certainly done their best. However there are 7,236 teams participating in this year’s Love Live. More than 10 times last year. The level of competition has risen sharply. Dia also reveals why her side cannot sing. Back then, she and Kanan pestered Mari into joining their idol unit in hopes of saving the school from consolidation. Mari was against it but eventually gave in. But after witnessing how awesome other groups are, it was their turn on stage and they froze. They cannot sing a note. That’s why Dia was against them forming an idol group fearing this might happen. And it did. Mari once more tries to convince Kanan but she continues to give the cold shoulder. Mari now breaks down in tears, wishing to take back those days of them together. Crocodile or not, Kanan is not moved. That night, Chika has a lot to think. Especially when You asked if they should disband. Next morning, Riko is shocked thinking Chika tried to drown herself! She was just thinking with the help of the sound of the sea. She has decided to continue being a school idol. Then she breaks down thinking how frustrating everything was despite trying so hard. Riko hugs her and is glad she is now honest with her feelings. Chika didn’t want to cry so as not to affect their morale. Riko assures they didn’t become school idols for her sake. They did it for themselves. Aqours renew their motivation and set their sights to improve.

Episode 9
Mari turned down studying abroad so she could continue being a school idol. However Kanan for the umpteenth time told her she is quitting. Even Dia agreed with her. Majority won. Aqours try to find out more about their seniors since they heard rumours from Dia that Kanan couldn’t sing that led to this mess. So in order to know more about what Dia said, everyone targets Ruby! The pressure! Too bad she didn’t hear much. They decide to tail Kanan. Hope they saved up their stamina because that girl can run without breaks! Then at the shrine, they see Mari stalking her again to come back and stop running away. Kanan is still stubborn and this time she gets serious. She doesn’t want to see her face again. Next day, Kanan surprises the school when she returns. Mari continues her harassment by giving her the idol uniform. She throws it away. If that is not enough, the drama grows with Mari clinging onto her like a leech. She’s never letting go! Dia can’t do anything as everybody is watching. Ironically it is Chika who tells them to stop this crap and come to the room to explain everything. Wow. Chika is so commanding! Even so, Kanan’s lips are sealed. She remains stubborn saying she couldn’t sing. That’s it. After she leaves, the rest are even more curious to know more. Now they turn to Dia. Get her! The big revelation as she reveals it wasn’t Kanan couldn’t sing. She chose not to sing. On that day, Mari injured herself. Despite Mari insists she could continue, could you imagine had they go on? It would have ended with something worse than an injury. Mari is not pleased her feelings were never sought. She turned down offers from other schools and had even everything all setup for their next idol stint. Dia adds that Kanan was always looking out and worried for her. She was worried they would rob her future and chance to achieve her full potential. Time for Mari to find that girl and slap her. Some past flashbacks as kids how they met and become friends. So time for them to settle it once and for all. Mari starts off that she too was thinking about her. Then the inevitable slap to release her frustrations. Because it was her own fault too for not being honest then, she allows Kanan to slap her. But Kanan signals a hug. Something they did as friends. Time to let out a big emotional hug. And now it is official. The trio join and complete Aqours. At the end of the practice, Kanan reveals their group was also named Aqours. Coincidence? Guess who gave this idea to the juniors? That writing on the beach. Dia has taken them for a ride too. You cheeky devil…

Episode 10
Summer vacation is here but Dia becomes the self-appointed manager to come up with training schedules for Aqours. She’s really into this. But with the neighbourhood association tasking them to work at the seaside café, there is no time for training. It is suggested that they work all day, using morning and evenings for training. Who says being an idol is easy? Chika suggests staying at her place and treat this like a training camp since they will save time on travelling. So after a little fun in the sea, it’s time to work on the seaside café. Dia again appoints herself as the manager as she delegates jobs to make their café more popular than their neighbour’s (which is raking in lots of customers). I guess they were decent but not popular enough to sell out their food and thus they have to finish them for dinner. Yeah, they have Mari’s expensive high quality seafood mix or Yoshiko’s whatever black balls… Tears of the fallen? Yeah, you’ll cry after eating that because it is spicy! The real drama begins when Chika overheard Riko’s family talking about Riko’s upcoming piano competition invitation. They are unsure because Riko has not replied. Chika discovers that the competition is on the same day as Love Live preliminaries. When Chika talks to her, Riko has already set her mind on Love Live. School idols have become a big part of her life now and is more important to her. Why do I have a feeling Chika is going to have the same déjà vu dilemma like Mari did? More Aqours training, working and improvising their cooking. Dia wants to give a history lesson on A-Rise but with Mito giving that stare, Chika quickly calls it a night because she doesn’t want the unthinkable to happen. This is what she actually said, “If we don’t cut the noise right now, the god of this inn is gonna pull my soul right out of my butt!”. Oh sh*t! Back to Chika-Riko drama. Chika has Riko play a piano piece of her least likable song. Chika likes that song. Read: She wants Riko to take part in the piano competition. It’s not like she is asking her to quite Aqours. She thought it would be great if she could go back and play piano again. Remember, playing the piano was important to her. Go on, Chika and the rest aren’t going anywhere. They’ll be waiting for her right here. The green light for permission to pursue her dream and an emotional hug. See? You can have best of both worlds.

Episode 11
Everyone sees off Riko at the train station. After that it is back to more idol training. They are impressed with Saint Snow doing well in their preliminaries but they have to worry about their own. So for idol training they have to clean the pool? I guess it builds up stamina and patience. When it’s time to practice, they realize they can’t start because Riko is missing for the opening gig. Suggesting someone takes her place, somehow everybody is looking at You. Unfortunately You continues to make mistakes all the time. This has You worrying. A much needed call from Riko to Chika as she passes on to everyone to speak to her. When it is You’s turn, her handphone battery is going to go kaput. Why does this always happen? With You obviously looking down, Mari talks to her and after a few cheeky face pinches, she advises her to just say her feelings and thoughts and not make the same mistake like she did. You had a chance to talk to Chika but didn’t have the guts. At home she is thinking of the various scenarios she can tell Chika but they are all dramatically lame. Then the much needed call from Riko to assure her that Chika is really happy to be with her and do her best for her sake. Scenes like these always make the character want to tear up, right? Get ready for more as You is already at tipping point when here comes Chika requesting to practice again with her. This time she thinks You should be dancing in her own way. You breaking down in 3, 2, 1… Let it flow, those tears. Then there is a narration why Chika wanted to become a school idol and nothing else. She didn’t want to shine all by herself and wants others to shine with her so as to spread the light that bring everyone listening to their music together. That way, everything will shine even brighter. Technically speaking. So we get to see Aqours performing as well as Riko in her piano recital at the same time. You can tell they pull off an amazing feat with the crowd applauding. Hey. Is Aqours doing the sign of Black Power? Fist in the air?!

Episode 12
Are you ready to find out if Aqours will advance to the next round? Let’s see… Who the f*ck is Izu Express?! Then they realize the list is by entry number. Oh look, Aqours is on the list! Hooray! They pass! Yes, oh my god indeed, Mari. Even better news is that their PV online is getting more views. But here is the thing that will bring them back to earth: Applicants for Uranohoshi this year is still zero! Oh God. It’s that dreaded number. So with lots of soul searching and thinking, Chika suggests they go back to Tokyo again to see what Muse has that they don’t. Back at the shrine top again, guess who is there again? Saint Snow. They talk and learn Saint Snow is following the footsteps of A-Rise. History repeating itself in a way? I guess Chika asked a stupid question so they have to tell her what else everybody enters Love Live for? To win, of course silly! Aqours then visit Otonokizaka and be awed by its magnificence. When a student of Otonokizaka (Hanayo?) learns they are trying to learn more about Muse, she tells them there is nothing left about them here. They didn’t want to leave anything behind and don’t need those things because their hearts will always be connected. Aqours pay their respect to the school. When they return, Chika has realized why Muse are so amazing. She believes Aqours shouldn’t be like them or chase after them. The amazing about Muse was how they went with nothing and make everyone’s dreams come true. Aqours should be doing things they want their own way. You suggests a hand signal for their group. It looks like an ‘L’ but from another point of view, I thought they look like a gun… Aqours jump with joy with that hand signal and their moto is from zero to one.

Episode 13
We see Aqours training in the summer as well as some of their usual antics. Oh, the number for their school’s open house is still zero. A few of their friends have noticed them practising hard so they talk about their love for their school. At first they thought that there was nothing they can do but after seeing Aqours trying their best, they too want to help out in any way they can. This has Chika thinking that despite hearing everybody saying they love this school and town, why does the number still stand at zero? No, it’s not that everyone is lying. It’s just that the message isn’t getting across. She believes Love Live is not an afterthought. Chika’s mom even returns to lend her support. Oh God. She is a typical anime mom because she looks smaller and younger than Chika! Enough to be her little sister! Aqours is motivated when the entire school wants in to help them out. Wait a minute. Do they not seriously think they can all just go up and perform on stage?! Riko had to break it to them about the rules that only registered members can go up there. Yeah, imagine if they bring the entire country… So we see Aqours having their backstage motivation before heading out to the stage for their regional competition. They start off differently because they are narrating their school’s dire straits and the formation of Aqours. Basically a dramatic summary of what has happened so far. Audiences must be confused if they are watching a play or a concert. Yeah, it lasted over 5 minutes before they get to the real singing and dancing.

Living On Love And Sunshine
Well folks, it looks like if there is a need for it, there is a chance that another sequel for Aqours would be possible. After all, they are going to become better than Muse, right? So what better way to follow in their footsteps and have another, if not more sequels. Because Aqours need to advance and win for our sakes, right? But that is for another time. As far as this spin-off sequel is concerned, personally I am not an idol fan so overall it looks and sounds the same to me. Just repackaging it in a slightly different way and mostly visually. Because it feels like an excuse to distract us that Aqours wants to follow in Muse’s footsteps and thus hiding the fact that we are watching the same plot and journey again but with a different name. Uh huh. Notice how their idol unit is set up just to save the school? How about recruiting members for the group? What about failing and falling back up? A rival to rival them and most important of all, doing their best to win the coveted Love Live title. So similar, right? Might as well rewatch the first 2 seasons of Love Live then.

As I would have guessed and told them from the start when Chika really wanted to become and follow in the footsteps of Muse, Aqours shouldn’t be striving to become like the best school idol group in history ever (for now) because Muse and Aqours are both very different to the core although on the surface they might look the same. Even if this entire storyline feels like going through déjà vu but in a different visual presentation, they are still very much different. Muse is Muse. Aqours is Aqours. They can use Muse as motivation but all Aqours needs to do is to become the best in their own way and pace. Because in that way if they ever become popular, people won’t compare them and say that they are only so because of Muse. That is like they’ve been riding Muse’s wave and will forever be in their shadows.

Well, I certainly have this weird feeling of seeing it all before but yet this season feels different. I mean, if it was completely the same, might as well take out my DVDs of the previous 2 seasons of Love Live and start rewatching them. You can tell the familiar pattern of how the girls are trying to form a new idol group and being the underdog themselves, it isn’t a bed of roses as they will face some sort of obstacle in their bid to win the coveted title. Which of course they’re still a long way to go the way this season plays everything out. Even the ‘completion’ of all the members joining and making Aqours as a whole feels like history repeating itself like Muse since Aqours got all its 9 members after 3/4 of the series. It is around that time that Muse too got completed like that albeit slightly earlier. So do you not think that Aqours is just Muse reborn in a different town?

Making this rebirth of Muse seeing more obvious are the characters themselves. Not only the fact that they have the same number of members, but somehow you could just feel that they are mostly the same characters. Just that they swap hairstyle, hair colour and personalities. And voila! You get a new set of characters for a new group. For example in the looks department, do you not think that Kanan looks suspiciously close to Nozomi? Just take away the boobs. Heh… Then there is the blonde halfie who wields a powerful position in school. Mari is half Italian and the chairwoman while Eri is half Russian and is the student council president. Then there is the joker type who was Niko and her Niko-niko smile, now we have Yoshiko and her fallen angel and chuunibyou crap. Shy girls are still around. If Muse had Hanayo, Aqours has Ruby. Next one is somewhat a bit different but I can think it is to fill in the ‘less feminine’ personality since Rin is a tomboy and they replaced that with Hanamaru the country bumpkin. In terms of roles, it is obvious that Chika is this season’s Honoka as the group’s leader and Riko is the Maki for Aqours since she is the one who only writes songs and plays the piano. Not forgetting the group’s outfit designer are Kotori and You. So do you see how they just swapped everything around and make it sound as though everything is fresh and new?

In view of this, there is not much for me to comment on the girls of Aqours since like I have said, they feel familiar but yet different. But if I want to point out my ‘favourite’ one, it would be Yoshiko because she is a funny girl. Yes, she has a screw loose in her head but she’s funny shamelessly doing her chuunibyou in the middle of public. That’s Yoshiko being Yoshiko (or is it Yohane?). Just like my ‘favourite’ one for Muse was Niko. Because she’s funny. What? You don’t think liking a person because she is funny is not a valid reason? But it seems ever since Aqours became a whole, Yoshiko as the funniest character seems to be taken over by Dia. Uh huh. I believe she is the one that had undergone the most ‘drastic’ change in character among the Aqours members. At first she was very prideful to the point that you’ll be convinced she is just a strict b*tch. But after the issue with her friends are resolved, her funny side shows up and it’s like she can usurp Yoshiko as the comic relief character. Seriously. Then there is Mari too who acts like some sort of stalker to Kanan before and after. Do best friends stalk each other like that? I’m not sure if this is a running joke because Riko is shown to be afraid of Chika’s dog. This phobia seems to be more comical than the phobia of some of Muse’s members. Because Eri was afraid of the dark and Umi was afraid of public performances. So each time she is at her house, it’s like there is this ‘showdown’ between them if it is going to happen or not. When it does, all hell breaks loose as Riko will be running for her life from this canine demon.

Saint Snow is looking to be the destined rival for Aqours although their appearance is just very minimal. It is easy to fall for the trap of trying to compare Saint Snow to their A-Rise counterpart but I believe that on the outside their roles may look like they are similar, we do not have enough information to conclude much about them. Yet. Unless you’re an ardent fan and know everything there is to know about this series. I’m not. Sorry. Is it me or do idol units need to have so many members or just minimal? I thought there would be more members in Saint Snow but it seems there are only 2 of them. Heck, even A-Rise had 3. Yeah, I know. It’s not about the numbers but the quality of their performance. Well, this dismisses my hope to see any one on one showdowns between the rival groups. What the heck am I hoping for?!

Seeing that this is an idol theme series, music plays an important ingredient. Unfortunately I’m not really into this genre so I’m just watching for the sake of ‘nostalgia’ since I have watched the previous Love Live seasons. There are lots of insert songs but none of them really makes my heart jump like the one Muse did, Start:Dash! In fact, that is the only song that I like a lot in the entire Love Live series. Nothing after that comes close to this. So the ending theme, Yume Kataru Yori Yume Utaou sounds decent and lively. It is perhaps the better song for this season if I am forced to pick which is the best song I like. Of course this song has many versions as they are sung by the different mini units of Aqours in addition to the one that is sung as an entire group. The opening theme is Aozora Jumping Heart. Typical idol song but not anything to my liking.

The casts behind Aqours are also a relatively bunch of new seiyuus making their debut or only have minor cameo appearances as background characters in other animes. So we have Anju Inami as Chika, Shuka Saitou as You, Rikako Aida as Riko, Aika Kobayashi as Yoshiko, Kanako Takatsuki as Hanamaru, Ai Furihata as Ruby, Arisa Komiya as Dia and Nanaka Suwa as Kanan. Only Aina Suzuki as Mari has ‘more’ roles than the rest like Shiori in Joukamachi No Dandelion, Kondo in Sansha Sanyou and Tokiko in Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Girls. It is rare to here Kana Asumi these days so it was quite surprising to hear her here as Shima. Kanae Itou also plays a part here as Mito but I didn’t recognize her. Apparently I found out much later that Nana Mizuki and Rie Kugimiya also made their cameos as Riko’s mom and Chika’s mom respectively. Their dialogues are so minimal that I didn’t really get to hear them properly at all. Or maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention…

The art and drawing remain bright and colourful, consistent with the previous seasons of Love Live. After all, they were produced by the veteran studio, Sunrise. So don’t expect to see any big changes in the artwork department because you’ll still have your happy-happy idol girls smiling all the way. Also, they use CGI when the girls are dancing on stage. Although not perfect and you can easily tell this is more 3D animation instead of 2D, at least the difference is not so obvious that it makes watching them perform unbearable. Yeah, at least not robotic. After all, you have to put in some effort if you want people to believe in and be attracted by idols in the thing they do best. You don’t want to fail in this all important visual area, right?

Overall, if you are still into the idol genre, this one should appeal to you. Even more so if you are a fan of the original Love Live and you’re still not over their ‘breaking up’ or ‘end’ and need something new to revitalize your love for the group and brand. Okay, I made that up but if you really enjoying cute and kawaii girls jumping up and down with perfect choreography and synchronicity donning cute and kawaii idol outfits, this series is just like any other idol genre you would expect. Well, I’m not really sure if all-girl group idols are on the decline because recently I noticed there are more reverse harem music genre series coming out recently. From B-Project to Tsukiuta to Magic-Kyun! Renaissance to Dream Festival and don’t forget the Uta No Prince-sama that already has 4 seasons. I don’t want to start a gender idol war or which side does it better but as long as their music can captivate the heart, I’m all for it. Let’s hope Aqours will make their dreams come true before the popularity of idols dies out. You know how fast the rise and fall of idols, right? Out you go if you can’t keep up with the pace. At this rate there will be as much idols there is in Japan as there are stars in the sky. I know there’s a pun somewhere I can make and connect with this… And the chances aren’t zero…


January 22, 2017

Gee, I never thought Barakamon would get some sort of prequel sequel. Because Handa-kun tells about the trials and tribulation of that calligrapher during his younger days in high school. So I thought it would be interesting to see the back story of this guy and how he turned out to be an up and coming calligrapher with a short fuse. But then I realize that everything I thought I knew this series would be was wrong. How far I was off the mark. Be warned. This isn’t his high school life that you think it is. When you realize it is pure slapstick comedy, everything is thrown off balance. If I was writing this blog via traditional paper and pen, I would have smeared right across in shock…

Episode 1A
Right from the start we are already breaking the fourth wall with the boys of Handa Force overjoyed that Handa has been adapted into an anime series. So they discuss what kind of genre it will be. They dismiss Yukio Kondo’s idea it will be a normal high school drama since he is a normal guy. Then they realize the anime has already started and nobody recorded it. They call relevant parties but they aren’t really Handa fans. They even call the production studio but were hung up. That is when they decide to do their own Handa series. Yuki opts out as the guys get starting. A few days later we get to see their effort. Let’s just say it is a lame, crappy and cheap effort that you can’t even tell what the f*ck is going on. And if you’re like Yuki pointing this out, the rest will chastise you on how freaking hard it is to make anime. Then they get a special delivery from the studio. It’s not a legal letter to sue, right? Fortunately it is the first real episode of this series. Put it on and let’s play!

Episode 1B
Everyone fears Handa in high school. He is okay with it and doesn’t intend to make friends. Handa finds a letter in his shoebox and thinks it is one of those challenge letters. He throws it away but didn’t realize he did so in front of the sender, Maiko Mori. It’s a love letter by the way. However her big head ugly friend, Juri scowls him for that, blah, blah, blah. Thinking of giving Maiko a chance and it isn’t she can harass him with this crowd around, he lets her speak. Maiko summons her courage to ask him to meet behind the gym. Handa misinterprets this as a challenge and the bad endings he will get. He can’t run now or he’ll be bullied and called a spineless pig. So in a dilemma is he that he ignores class and does his calligraphy right smack when the teacher is teaching. Because Handa doesn’t know Maiko’s name, he needs to find out via Juri but doesn’t want to directly involve her. Juri gets the wrong idea Handa’s stares mean he likes her. To her surprise, he hands her a letter to be read only alone. When she does, she finds his handwriting unreadable! Do calligraphers normally write like this? Trying to fish out some words, she misinterprets some of them like ‘love’. Now she starts thinking he really likes her. Is she betraying Maiko? So when Maiko joins her for lunch, Juri feels awkward but her cutie innocence suddenly pisses her off and come to think of it, Juri doesn’t remember a single good time they had together. Obviously as time passes, Handa gets worried that Maiko didn’t get his letter. He has no choice but to go meet her behind the gym where a large crowd has already gathered. Here for the drama? Handa Force is surprised with the cliff-hanger ending. Well, they wasted the first half of the episode, right? What about their handmade work? They decide to return it to Handa. You can bet he is so creep out when he sees the show and not understanding what the f*ck is happening.

Episode 2A
Continuing from last episode, when Maiko summons her courage to give her real love letter, each time Juri intercepts! You bet Handa can’t understand why these women are ‘wrestling’. Handa thinks he is let off when Juri tells him to go now as she talks about jealousy and the ugliness of the heart. Like hell he cares. Handa leaves as he advises them to take care of each other because friends like them are hard to come by. When Maiko breaks from her Juri’s stranglehold, she manages to give him her letter. However he won’t read it because he saw how lousy her handwriting was! Words mean everything to a calligrapher! I take it. You’re rejected. So the girls cry and lie down till they reconcile. Juri suggests taking up calligraphy so they can write nice love letters to him. After all, they are best friends and love rivals.

Episode 2B
Junichi Aizawa has always been the class rep for ages so it is no wonder he is looking forward to it. But he didn’t expect Handa to be his rival in the runoff vote. Actually Handa didn’t want to be here either. He was dozing of when other lazier boys who didn’t want to shoulder the responsibility nominated Handa’s name. In the end, the votes are tied. Everyone is okay with a simple rock-scissors-paper but Aizawa is freaking devastated this needs to be done properly. But he relents since this is what the people wanted. Handa realizes Aizawa wants to become class rep and their interests aligned. So he tells him he is going to purposely lose by putting up rock. Too bad Aizawa thinks this is some scheming tactic so he goes the other way. And loses! Handa the class rep? Not quite! Aizawa protests passionately and needs more rounds. So the next round he follows Handa’s rule and wins but on the final round, his scepticism plays mind tricks again. And so he loses again. He is crying his heart out of his lack of faith in others. When Handa voices out he resigns from his post, so why the f*ck is Aizawa still not excepting it? Handa felt sorry for him at first. This makes Aizawa realized he learnt an important lesson that he was thinking about himself and not the people. When they check Handa had actually voted for Aizawa, this brings him to tears. If Handa wants him to be the class rep, so be it. However the next day, Handa is the one who becomes the class rep and Aizawa the vice. Handa thought he was screwed. Aizawa explains that after what he said yesterday, everyone ultimately decided he should be the class rep. But Handa doesn’t even know what a class rep does…

Episode 2C
Reo Nikaido is a handsome guy who is also a model. It is no surprise girls love him. Only second to Handa. So it is natural he gets worried when girls are taking more interests in Handa because they feel that guy is just more than his looks. Yeah, you don’t know… So he tails Handa after school to find out his charm. Reo sees Handa ‘disappear’ when a group of classmate girls approaching. And then he sees him staring at a cat for 30 minutes. Does he love it or hate it? Reo tries to do the same thing but got scratched. By the way, Handa likes cats but is allergic to it. Finally they end up in a street where famous models are scout. To his dismay, his scouter and model agency, Caroline Yamauchi is here and sees Handa. Reo tries to block her view and is smacked! Caroline approaches Handa, wanting him to wear her clothes and rise to stardom. However Handa puts it on Reo (because his clothes are dirty) and tells them he doesn’t need it and please reach out to someone who does. This is when Reo realizes why Handa is different as he doesn’t flatter others or taint himself in common ways. Reo subsequently was fired by Caroline but he accepts it maturely like a man. He now realizes there is no worth being competitive or having pride. He wants to be a real man like Handa. Unknowing to him, Handa is cursing a lady standing in front of him at the bus stop. Some dark secrets should never be exposed… On an unrelated note, Maiko left a present for Handa on his table. That guy picks it up and puts it on the lost and found section…

Episode 3A
Handa is not pleased when Aizawa has him deliver notes to the class’ truant, Akane Tsutsui. But at his doorstep, this big delinquent guy is him! So what happened to the meek girly boy?! Half a year ago, he was always teased for it. He shut himself in his room and kept blaming himself for being weak. Then he saw an ad to buff himself up. He did it and he turns out the way he looks now as he pounds all the punks in the neighbourhood to become the strongest. Because he is the strongest, he doesn’t think he needs to go to school anymore. When Handa gives the notes, Tsutsui over-reads his reactions and thinks he is giving some kind of challenge. It is making him sweat and shiver! When other punks arrive for revenge, Tsutsui misinterprets Handa is fighting on his side when all he wants is just to pass him the notes and leave! When the punks try to stop Handa, they misinterpret his scary looks. Then they start ‘remembering’ all his legendary badass status. Yeah, it felt like they just plucked it out from thin air. So badass that they decide not to mess with him and run away! Tsutsui is shocked at Handa’s status too. What has happened in school since he was absent? There is a note telling him to come back to school. Thinking it was from Handa, a touched Tsutsui makes a shocking return to class. Nobody expects him to look like this. Tsutsui decides to become Handa’s bodyguard but his vicious stare is making Handa afraid. Did he do something bad?

Episode 3B
Kondo narrates the normal guy he is. Till he is group with Handa and his weirdo ‘friends’ in cooking class to make pudding. Kondo can tell Handa is nervous but the rest interprets it as his absolute order to make something themselves. As usual they get into a fight and it seems Handa then makes a huge fire. While the friends try to save Handa (splashing things on him?), Kondo is the more sensible one trying to put out the fire with the extinguisher. And yet Handa gets praised as they think he did that to stop their fighting. They’re even dumber trying out Handa’s pudding and despite tasting like sh*t, they believe this is his style! There’s room for more and they saved some for Kondo. Join the gang… And so Handa’s reputation grows with rumours spreading that he created a legendary pudding dish with a fire pillar. WTF?! And in reality this guy just dropped the pudding he bought from the store. Sad…

Episode 3C
When Miyoko Kinjo, the girl sitting next to Handa didn’t realize she dropped her eraser, Handa starts thinking she might scoff him if he returns it (feminism?). So he tosses back his brand new eraser. Of course Miyoko is very flattered but Handa thinks she is out to get him as her eraser is dirty and uh, inerasable. Handa believes his only friend is Kawafuji but tries to avoid him in school. But every time Kawafuji’s female friends are in the vicinity, Handa quickly stuck himself in a tight spot? Huh?! Handa notes Kawafuji’s popularity and he treats him the same as everyone else. That is why he is trying his best to ignore him till graduation. Kawafuji narrates Handa’s current personality was his fault. When they first met, he was a nice normal calligraphy loving chap. One day a popular senior girl used Kawafuji as a middle man to send her love letter to Handa. Not amused by this, Kawafuji told Handa that girl scorned his writing. That is when the trauma started and has been ever since despite being told it was just a joke. Kawafuji would love to tell how popular he is but is enjoying every second of it and will let him be for now.

Episode 4A
When girls think Handa is selling his calligraphy poem at the park and paste it up in class, Handa of course knows better that he never wrote such crappy poem. He needs to do something before everyone makes fun of him. Naturally Handa Force (yes, this includes you too Kondo) go out to investigate and instantly find a Handa imposter. You can tell from his bad set of teeth. Kei Hanada is also a Handa admirer and has observed him well enough to seemingly act like him. This means attracting a bunch of girls as well. Too bad they don’t know Handa enough to know he is an imposter. However the attention is too great for Hanada to handle so he shows his teeth and instantly all the enthusiasm dies down. Disappointed. Handa Force cries and feels his pain. They take him back to class to apologize but they see Handa’s writing over the poem that says if he wants to copy someone, be better at it. Hanada is so touched that he breaks down. Kondo is like, WTF. And so in his bid to become like Handa, Hanada starts off by wearing braces to fix his teeth.

Episode 4B
When Handa is spotted with a beautiful lady at the school gates, rumours fly that he has a girlfriend. Naturally this causes all the girls to start getting jealous and the beginning of the Handa bashing. So much so there is a death threat written on his table to die. When Handa Force closely examines it, they deduce it is a suicide note. Turns out that Miyoko was the one who wrote it. She is going to jump from the ledge. And doing a musical about it?! Something about Handa’s eraser he ‘gave’ that made her not able to study because she couldn’t use it (why not get another one?). And something about the guts he had to flirt with another girl when he should belong to everyone. Is Handa public property? Handa has just returned from trying to exchange his new table unaware of the commotion outside. Miyoko thinks she will test his resolve. Of course Handa is talking to his table about how irreplaceable and special it is to him. Guess who took it the wrong way? Yup. Enough for Miyoko to cancel her suicide and come back down crying. However her jealousy isn’t over yet and she still cannot get over his girlfriend. So while she cries herself, she bumps into Handa’s ‘girlfriend’. She is actually Handa’s mother and lost her way to a teacher-parent meeting. Miyoko is so f*cking relieved and that was the end of the Handa bashing. Died down as fast as it came.

Episode 4C
During Handa’s parent-teacher meeting, the teacher told his mom that he lacks sociability but Handa believes that everyone hates him. For some reason. As suggested to be sociable, Handa tries to start up small talks about hobbies and relatable subjects. As we are well aware, misinterpretations are abound. Everyone around him seems to misinterpret in a bad light of his intentions. Are they offending him somehow? Then when Handa is alone in the classroom and Kondo comes in (he thinks Handa didn’t realize they need to change classrooms), a grateful Handa follows him and starts talking about… Japan being a great place? Huh?! Kondo doesn’t even know what the f*ck is going on. Back home, Handa proudly tells his mom that he spoke to a classmate (if you can call that speaking). But seeing mom’s uninterested reaction, Handa thinks maybe this wasn’t as amazing as he thought. Doesn’t his mom always look and sound like that?

Episode 5A
Sawako Tennouji is the student council president whom all the girls love. Despite dressing like a boy, she is a feminist and will make this school a paradise for girls. That is, until she bumps into Handa and his gang and thinks just because he is male, he is trying to form a coalition against her. What I said about Sawako being popular with the girls? I take that back because they love Handa more. So she has her vice president, Rikimaru (cross-dressed as a girl?) to find his weakness. Since there is none, she’ll just make up one! She sends a couple of girls to go seduce him. They are about to go pound on him when it seems Handa might have spotted them! He talks as if he can’t entertain them so the girls leave quietly. Actually he is feeding a couple of stray cats. Sawako is upset the girls failed and even more so they are in love with him! Thus Sawako forcefully brings Handa to her office and falsely accuses him for seducing girls. His punishment is to wear a girl’s uniform for a year as she believes this will change his outlook. He runs away as the student council corners him. I don’t even know how this happened. When Rikimaru tries to put the skirt on him, Handa trips over the stairs and falls over Sawako. The mind boggling part is how the other girls pulled down Rikimaru’s skirt to reveal his ugly (but censored) panties!!!!!!!!! OMFG!!!!!!! Flashback reveals Sawako was often bullied by males when all she wanted was to just play with them. That’s why she hates them and vows a world where only girls rule. When she wakes up, she finds herself on top of Handa. Her underlings explain Handa turned and used his body to cushion her fall. So is Sawako starting to fall for him?! Till she sees Rikimaru’s panties and freaks the hell out, beating the crap out of him. Acting like a real girl now, huh? Aizawa is glad Handa is alright. But something feels wrong. Handa has lost his memories!!!

Episode 5B
Because of that, he is acting all chirpy and thinks he is hell of popular. His cringe worthy act is enough to make his Handa Force’s hair stand at ends. Unbearable. This is not the real Handa! They want the old Handa back! We see Handa trying to flirt around. It even gives the girls the creeps. For those still enthusiastic about him, wait till he wants to offer a kiss to them. They suddenly lose interest and think he is a fake since Handa is not a cheap person. Imagine if Miyoko finds out… Too late. She becomes a monster demanding a kiss from him! As Handa ponders about his popularity, he almost got killed by Tsutsui’s hammer! Apparently this is Aizawa’s method in bringing Handa’s memories back. He read it from a manga. Getting the wrong idea that Tsutsui wants to kill him, seeing other Handa Force members doing the same only reinforces the fact that he may be the school’s most hated person. As he reconciles with this fact, suddenly he snaps. He returns back to his original self but falls down the stairs. Seeing Handa’s ‘evil’ stare and grin that send shivers down their spine, Handa Force can be ‘glad’ that Handa is back. Thank goodness, right? Lastly, when Sawako wants to put a poster to warn others about the dangers of the stairs, Rikimaru scoffs her off and won’t take orders from girls. Is he now a misogynist? Well, thank his memory loss for that.

Episode 6A
Handa hangs out with Kawafuji and thinking he shouldn’t ruin his life, he disguises himself as an American? It gets worse when Kawafuji also invites his classmate, Hasegawa to hang out with them. So while Hasegawa is clueless about Handa (disguising himself under the name Hanzawa), Kawafuji can’t help but silently snigger at all the awkward moments. They play bowling, darts and basketball, all of which Handa isn’t good at and it provides good amusement to Kawafuji. And Hasegawa thinks it’s some American joke. But they manage to win the games and earn Hasegawa straps he wanted. When Kawafuji goes to get drinks and leave the duo to chat, all seems to be going fun (for real? Handa having a real conversation?), Hasegawa’s seniors come by to bully him. Feeling the need to distract them, Handa casts away his disguise. Immediately the seniors become scared and retreat! Hasegawa views Handa as so cool that he forgot who the heck Hanzawa is. Next day in school, Handa’s reputation has Hasegawa fearing him too and this only deepens Handa’s lack of trust in others.

Episode 6B
Koutarou “Dash” Higashino is the school’s top sprinter. As usual, he is one of those guys who hates Handa and blames him for some nonexistent reason. He thinks the only way to resolve this is to request a 100m race with him but he too cowers in fear when Handa walks pass him. Hanada thinks he is another obsessed Handa fan and suggests a few ways to motivate him. Hanada disguises as Handa and Dash really makes a dash! But if he can’t challenge him directly, why not make a situation leading to a race? So he starts a fire in order to make Handa run but he crawls to safety instead. After getting scolded by the principal, his manager advises him not to ruin his future all because of Handa. Think about his team and going for the Nationals! He is about to do just that when Handa runs past him the fastest ever he has ever seen. Triggered, Dash starts running to catch up with him. Suddenly Handa jumps away. Did he give up? Actually he was being chased by a mad dog! OMG! Dash now becomes the victim! But wait. The dog isn’t mauling him. It is copulating with him?! OMFG!!!!!!! And so Dash’s inferiority complex of Handa only deepens. And Handa doesn’t even know this guy’s name… He’s the worst?

Episode 6C
Tsugumi is into palmistry and likes to read palms as practice for her fortune telling. This means she wants to read Handa’s palm and asks Handa Force for their opinion. Handa overheard this and thinks helping out will add to his good karma. So in an awkward position of letting his palm out, Tsugumi reads his palm and finds something horrible… It is freaking normal! The only thing she can read out of it is his extreme paranoia level. Not wanting to put him in a bad light while explaining to Handa Force, she puts it in a way that Handa has a harsh fate. Wait a minute. Handa Force is rejoicing?! Trying to read his future, she is shocked that despite not seeing him getting married, he is surrounded by kids. How should she put this one? He won’t have a decent life! In the aftermath, Tsugumi realizes her arrogance and can ‘thank’ Handa for making her realize she is just a novice. WTF. Later as Handa rues about his fate, Kawafuji tries to put it nicely that she might have good results but purposely say it in a bad way just to trouble him. This gives Handa confidence that he is the most hated guy around. And he is loves it. WTF.

Episode 7A
Reo and Tsutsui fail their test and must take a supplementary one. Thus this is where Handa Force makes Tsutsui’s place their hideout as Aizawa guides the duo to study. However they get sidetracked in discussing if Aizawa is the top in their grade, then where is Handa? Because that guy is number one and can never be number two! Could it be her purposely fail so as not to stand out? That must be it! They’re going to study for Handa! Also taking the supplementary test are Hanada and Dash. Since it is free sitting, they argue whether to sit on Handa’s place. Yeah, it looks like a big responsibility. Everyone is shocked Handa comes in! Is he taking the test too?! Everyone can’t believe he failed and thinks he must have forgotten to write his name. True enough, that was the reason. By the way, he is ranked 25th in the whole grade which isn’t bad. During the test, everyone is more preoccupied in observing Handa from his sneeze and his noisy scratching writing. They even try to emulate him! At the end of the test, everyone has a filled experience with Handa. Huh? In the end, Reo and Tsutsui barely pass as they think it was Handa’s consideration to join them as he didn’t want to make them look like failures. Oh really? And it seems lightning strikes twice for Handa because he forgot to write his name again. Oh, Hanada and Dash failed…

Episode 7B
Kasumi Hirayama is a librarian. The place is losing its shine since nobody reads anymore and thus the budget to buy more books was slashed. However the thing that kept her going is her ‘prince’. Guess who? Damn right is Handa! He is the only one who patrons the library. Obviously she has a crush on him and her sneaky way of stealing stares makes Handa think she is some sort of stalker. She narrates her cheesy love story fantasy about him that includes using whatever budget to buy his favourite books since he is the only one borrowing them. However she hates the Handa Force as she thinks they act like as though they have privilege to be around him. However Handa Force can also guess she is a big fan of him (she would most certainly disagree). Since they are pretty sure of being experts on Handa, they assure to leave the library design to them as they will redesign it according to Handa’s taste. The place looks better now and soon lots of students start streaming in. Kasumi couldn’t be any busier as people now start borrowing books nonstop. Although she feels fulfilled, Handa has never stepped in since (because he doesn’t like being crowded). At the end of the day, Kasumi is surprised that Handa personally came to return a book. For the first time they talk to each other. She thought he was going to praise her but it is to point out the wrong book cover. She didn’t listen properly and misinterpret his words. So when he praises her for her work, she realizes he has always noticed her. That is when she tells him she will no longer order books he likes. She is going to order more book variety so he doesn’t have to come here anymore! Of course Handa takes this the wrong way and thinks he has been kicked out of the library forever when it is actually Kasumi’s twisted wish that she will go to see him instead of him coming to see her. Creepy smile?!

Episode 8
Handa’s class is going on a school trip with another school, Shiro High. They too have their own popular guy just like Handa, Asahi Ichimiya. And yup, he too has his own squad, Ichimiya Bodyguards. We see the ‘henchmen’ already facing off in the train and almost got into a fight when Handa accidentally tries to throw away his sweet but got stuck in the guy’s hair. Luckily Ichimiya uses his charm to settle it and bring his men back. Even at the shrine, these guys are trying to outdo each other for the fortune reading. I wonder how high their luck can go. Ichimiya tries to talk to Handa but because he doesn’t want to, it gives Ichimiya an impression that he is arrogant. While sleeping at the inn, Handa Force talks about the bloody history and haunted place this inn might be, enough to knock Handa out. It’s a good thing because Shiro High who is staying a floor above them drops a body dummy to scare them. Hand Force thinks Handa is so calm and just go to sleep. The tour continues tomorrow and more girls flock around Ichimiya. As usual Handa Force and Ichimiya Bodyguards have a showdown. Aizawa against Souichi Nagamasa about their nationwide test rankings. Reo against Sousuke Kojika about being the cutest. Yes, Kojika is a cross-dresser whose goal is to meet her cute seemingly cross-dressing idol. Hey, isn’t that the old Tsutsui? He is going to be disappointed… Then there is Tsutsui against Tomohiro Jomoto in a brute match. Even the plain guys have their confrontation. While Kondo doesn’t really care, Tsukasa Komichi is more obsessed in finding his place to make Ichimiya stand out more. Handa takes a picture with Ichimiya when the latter invites. However Kondo realizes Ichimiya has a deep grudge and was trying to stick a sweet in his shirt as payback.

Back at the inn, Kondo tries to distract Ichimiya Bodyguards and not let them know Handa is just under their noses. Literally. Too bad Kondo has to beat him up? He uses Hanada as decoy to chase. But you can’t fool Komichi as he is sharp. He warns Kondo and the rest not to get in the way of their leader. Ichimiya continues enjoying the company of the girls. But when they talk about Handa and how hard to get an opportunity to him, the moment they see Handa, they flock to him. Ichimiya doesn’t like this and privately talks to Handa. He is trying to get Handa to disclose what it is that is bugging him since they have pressure to put up a reputation to others. Don’t be shy, let’s talk as kings. Seeing Handa is sceptical, he extends his hand to make friends first. Meanwhile the henchmen of both sides almost go to war but when they realize the other is pretty cool, they become friends. They look for their leaders and they hear this shocking thing. Handa rejects to become Ichimiya’s friend. Before any world war can blow up, Handa explains he can’t be friends with someone as popular as him. He doesn’t want to be the target of jealousy. He should look around and already has friends. Ichimiya has renewed respect for him because he doesn’t treat his subordinates as subjects but friends. Peace is about to reign for both sides but Komichi will not accept this and tries to attack Handa! While Handa was unfortunately pushed into the river by his own guys as ‘safety’, Komichi is stop dead in his tracks when Kondo slaps him! OMG! Kondo’s mad! Stop this crap right now! Scary. Now Komichi’s crying like a baby… So with both sides even and calling it peace, there is no need to compete to see who is better. They are who they are. But poor Handa is reeling from hypothermia after being picked up from the river. This school trip sucks…

Episode 9A
Hideo Okayama is Handa’s class biology teacher. He is shocked that his frog dissecting is cancelled because of complaints from parents. He thinks if Handa agrees, everyone will follow. Oddly despite Handa doesn’t want it, it is Aizawa who is all for it. He takes it upon himself to get the entire class to approve. It’s either that or pressing flowers! Then they let Handa decide! Handa thinks everyone is mocking him and so he blurts out he loves the bizarre. Because of that all the boys vote for dissection! But what about the girls? They don’t want to do this icky thing. Maybe Handa can convince them? Handa says if they don’t want to do this, then don’t make them. But the girls interpret this as being considerate and agree to do it. In the end, it is a unanimous vote for frog dissection! Okayama is so happy that to show his appreciation, everyone will get a frog each and the biggest frog for Handa! Chaos ensues when the frog touches Handa’s hands. He is semi-passed out and wants to leave (kaeru) but the rest interprets he is being possessed by a frog (kaeru). Seeing the cruelty of this decision, they decide to let the frogs go in the river and just do pressing flowers. Meanwhile Handa is recuperating in the infirmary and is almost suffocated by the big from over his face.

Episode 9B
Aizawa is stalking watching Handa today. Suddenly he runs away and hides. Thus Aizawa believes there is a stalker! Handa Force gets pumped up to find and beat the crap out of that stalker. Since they’re so motivated, Kondo can’t bring himself to tell them they might be the stalkers! They split into groups. Kondo thinks the most suspicious one is Miyoko. Look at her eyes! But Aizawa is relieved it is her because she helps reign in all girls who want to give Handa their presents! She has earned the nickname Eraser! Since when did she level up?! She then captures Kasumi whom she thinks is trying to stalk Handa. Handa knows Aizawa and Kondo are following them and makes a run. This has Dash trying to run after him but lost sight of him since he can’t turn. Sprinters can’t turn a corner at high speed, right? Tsutsui and Reo think the real stalker is nearby but got trapped into some mad dog’s lair. So all our related Handa parties gather to continue searching for the culprit. Handa has to meet Kawafuji and knows is just over this wall. When he climbs over, he sees all of them. Thinking how troubled he has been and the need to see Kawafuji, he yells out to them about them following him every day. What did he do to deserve this?! He is going to lose a friend because of them. Don’t ever follow him again! Everyone is left in shock after Handa leaves. Did Handa just scream out his true heart? Just when you thought everybody should have learnt their lesson, Aizawa thinks Handa has been directing his outburst to the stalker! Everyone agrees! OMFG! And they think Handa referred to them as his friend. OMFG… Handa finally manages to meet Kawafuji. It seems he was the one who was responsible for that mad dog thingy.

Episode 10A
Even normal guys can get a love letter. That’s what happened to Kondo. Of course he panics. Because normal guys normally don’t get such, right? Can’t take the pressure of handling this, he tells this to Handa Force. Tsutsui thinks it is a letter of challenge since he got one during his pretty years. They called him up and shoved something down his ass?! WTF?! Handa Force is being positive supporting Kondo to go meet with this girl. Who knows, he’ll end up with a real girlfriend. Kondo then realizes despite his normal looks, because he is associated with Handa Force, even he levels up. So when he goes to meet this girl, she tells him to stop acting he is part of Handa Force and is just an average guy. That’s all. Wow… Can’t blame Kondo for feeling heartbroken. Even normal guys can get depressed. Along the way, he bumps into Handa who is suspicious of him because remember, Kondo was the one who ‘tackled’ him during the school trip. From Handa’s words, Kondo can also see he is a shy and kind person like him. Maybe that’s why he keeps getting swayed by others without realizing it. Kondo passes his flower postcard supposedly to be given to the girl as confession to him. However the blot in the ink made the words look like insults and Handa thinks it is some sort of harassment! While Kondo is glad to be part of Handa Force and will never leave it, I think Handa’s relationship with them is getting worse.

Episode 10B
Neo Sakurame, Takoyaki and Dr Psycho are part of the bishoujo club. They draw bishoujo and create bulletins on their favourite topic. All is happy and well till Aizawa on behalf of the student council decides to terminate their club. Well, there is no merit in funding them anymore and not a single of their bulletins were sold. Nobody understands their taste… He just reminds them next week’s paper recycling pickup. Recycle those manga… The trio then brainstorm to do something. How about a gender swap of Handa? They discuss his personality but it ends up sounding like the real Handa. They decide to draw their own interpretations of him and then compare. Neo decides to go talk to Handa to determine his personality. Speaking through his figurine, he tries to bait Handa into talking. Although successful, he then tries to undress his figurine but Handa covers it with his handkerchief. Handa thinks a girl shouldn’t be doing things like that even though she is a figurine. This makes Neo realize he has been treating his waifu as a slut and has found new respect for Handa. A week later as they compare their manga, Neo punches them for drawing ecchi versions of Handa. Because it is like belittling him. Well, it is to be expected if you draw bishoujo, right? Neo shows them his and they simply fall into deep respect that they don’t need cheap fanservice for a great story. The trio decide to go find Handa and seek his approval. Unknowingly they left their work on the recycle table so Handa comes in to get them. When they return and realize it is gone, they rush to chase the truck. Handa overheard this and quickly dash to get the truck to come back. His reason for doing this is because he doesn’t want to be blamed if somebody loses something important. As the trio scavenge for their manga, the wind blows the ecchi pages into Handa’s hands. WTF is this???!!!

Episode 11
You know Sawako is smitten with Handa when she announces during the meeting that the school’s cultural festival be named as Handa Festival. So obvious. Aizawa leads the class to discuss what they’ll be doing. As none can decide, they leave it to Handa to decide. But of course. There is pressure on him not to disappoint and activity choices that he isn’t good at. He runs away from it and while contemplating how he cannot make everyone happy, Sawako talks to him and requests he writes the sign for the festival. This gives Handa motivation to pick the choice he wants. By the time he returns, everyone has gone home. Apparently everyone has decided to mix in everything except calligraphy. Because it’s the thing that Handa is good at. WTF. On his way home, Handa sees some delinquents. Since Tsutsui is around, he tells him to help the victim as Tsutsui uses his all mighty fists. For the theatrical play that Handa’s class will do, Reo and Tsutsui are not happy Aizawa set them up as Romeo and Juliet respectively. They want to do the other’s. Yeah, Aizawa is King Lear. Bringing in characters from other Shakespeare works? Kondo? A normal citizen with no dialogue. As the class prepares, all Handa is made to do is just sit and watch them. And Miyoko serving him? On his way back, those delinquents want to pay back Handa but Handa Force intercepts them. Hanada and Dash’s class is doing role playing eye makeup and wants Handa Force to test it out. Handa sees his calligraphy sign being put up and gets motivated he can get through this. But when he sees the guys with pretty eye makeup, he loses all hope. That was fast. As the festival gets underway, Kawafuji and Hasegawa patron the theatrical cafe and experience a load of weirdness. From ordering ‘poison’ on their menu and watching the odd play of Romeo & Juliet while they dine. Tsutsui is hideous in all that makeup. The typical tragic love story turns into a WTF one when you have King Lear and Othello joining the brawl. It is stopped by Queen Elizabeth I. Handa in drag. Handa is already stumped in this role with no dialogue. Then he sees Kawafuji in the audience. Their eyes met. They feel for each other. Needing to get off the stage quickly, Handa screams out the need to destroy the Spanish Armada. The crowd cheers! Handa Force will go wherever he goes! It’s madness! Kawafuji just feels sorry for him. Lastly, those delinquents brought back more of their buddies for the ultimate payback.

Episode 12
Handa Force learns those delinquents from Kuro High are here. They need to find them before trouble starts. But they have bumped into Handa already. Or at least Hanada. And a bunch of Handa clones?! Hanada’s makeup skill… They threaten him to reveal Handa’s whereabouts. Although Hanada kept his mouth shut, Dash accidentally blurts his location. On their way, they bump into Tsugumi who keeps annoying them and wanting to read their bad fortune! When they arrive at the theatrical cafe, nobody is around so they wait. Actually Handa is around but just sitting behind the props. Guess who comes in too? Ichimiya and his entourage. Both sides have bad blood and before you know it, they start fighting. Handa Force also enters by this time. If you’re wondering why Handa didn’t say anything, it’s because he is focusing on his lines. Thinking it is his turn to show up, Handa pops out from hiding and screams for everyone to stop fighting! Handa returns embarrassed realizing he screwed up. But the rest take this as Handa overhearing them and thus wanting to stop them. Everyone feels guilty for being childish especially Kuro High guys who wanted revenge on Handa because they have become so weak that they lost their delinquent status. Before we even know it, the war ended and everybody reconciles.

After the festival ends, Sawako announces the best class for the festival. Naturally Handa’s class wins. Only Handa doesn’t expect it like everyone else. As the representative, he is ushered up to take the samurai helmet prize. However Handa is fearful thinking this is some prank move. That is when Kawafuji comes up and wants Handa to give it to him because his class also deserved to win. Handa is shocked of this move because it will let everyone know they’ve been friends. However everyone else doesn’t think this jerk could be Handa’s friend even if he admits it. This makes everyone think that if Handa doesn’t want the prize, they can get it. Wow. A massive brawl now. Kawafuji’s plan is so that Handa can get off stage and not be further embarrassed but Handa is still worried everyone will know they are friends and thus ‘endanger’ him. Kawafuji tells him to take a good look around. He sees everyone cheering his name although he doesn’t understand what is going on. It means you’re popular. Handa then takes off the helmet. He proclaims it is not his and not Kawafuji’s either. It belongs to everyone who worked hard for this festival. Wow! Blinding angelic light! So godly!!! Sawako sees this coming and unleash a giant mikoshi of Handa to celebrate. Yeah, we don’t understand what the hell is happening anymore. Handa Force wants him to get on it but then it catches fire! And when they say how beautiful it burns, Handa better not over-think they were trying to kill him! Next morning when Handa meets up Kawafuji for school, he is unsure how everyone will treat him now. Just take a look around you. Everyone wishes him good morning. See, not that bad, right?

Haven’t You Heard? It’s Handa-kun
Well, I didn’t really expect this series to turn out like this. As I have mentioned in my opening paragraph, I was expecting this to be Handa’s back story, one that is directly related to Barakamon. However it turns out into a pure slapstick comedy so much so it feels like there is nothing that would connect this series to Barakamon. And that they just borrowed the character’s name and his love for calligraphy. That’s all. Everything else is unrelated. And you might just think Handa here and Handa from Barakamon are just accidental coincidence. Well, not to say that it is a bad thing. Although I love how funny this series is, but sometimes it feels like deception (maybe that word is too strong to describe it) because of how different it is. Maybe this is what really happened in Handa’s school days for real. However the differences in the setting between both series are so vast that one might easily think they are different stories only with the main characters having the same name. Because this comedy series turned out okay and enjoyable, the reason why it isn’t panned as bad had it done badly otherwise.

Watching the series somewhat reminds me how similar Handa-kun is to Sakamoto Desu Ga but yet so different in ways that are so opposite to each other. Both titular guys are popular but Handa is unconscious and doesn’t know that he is popular to begin with. He thinks he is the worst and everybody hates him. Unlike Sakamoto who knows what is going on and knows what he is doing. Both guys exude an aura of coolness but in Handa’s case it is because everyone else around him has this misconception but for Sakamoto he himself knows he is cool and thus makes everyone around fawn over him. And whatever these guys do, they will always seem cool in the eyes of others no matter how negative that situation is. Cool guys can never go wrong, right? However, Handa may seem more realistic than Sakamoto because the latter can do impossible stuffs and thus everything feels so exaggerated. It makes him look like an alien hiding under a human skin whereas Handa is more relatable. I mean, haven’t we all have that deep burning hatred of not wanting to be sociable? Do we?!

The characters are lovable as they are funny. It is with mixed feelings that there are quite a number of side supporting characters. They too are likeable but with their cameo appearances now and then, sometimes I feel like it is a waste. I would love many of them to be regulars like Handa Force but the limitations of time and space don’t allow for it. Of course if all of them get their equal screen time, it would just dilute the worth of Handa and Handa Force. So I suppose in a way it is good that many of the side supporting characters make sparing cameos. Because also in a way it makes it look like Handa has a whole different bunch of followers to. With everyone being idiots and quickly jumping the gun, after all the chaos and misunderstanding everything will somehow be resolved without Handa even lifting a finger or getting involved. And he doesn’t even know it too.

Handa as the main character feels so much different from Barakamon that I expected but then again, this could be me coming up with my own perceptions before I started watching the series. Handa is still unsociable and thanks to everyone being an idiot, both sides often misinterpret the situation, leading to Handa hating and being annoyed by everything and everyone else in awe of this super cool dude. It works both ways. There are always 2 sides to a coin. Maybe that is why when Handa grows up as a calligrapher, that single moment of frustration he took it out on a VIP when his works was criticised. Not sure if Handa has put a lot of thought into what he is going to say or do but it is always open and prone to misinterpretation. Thus leading up to hilarious consequences that Handa would loathe to be.

I don’t know whether to call Handa Force as dumbass idiots or just super positive people. For the oddest and funniest reasons they become Handa’s unofficial followers. And they become one without Handa ever realizing he has his own groupie! He never did. From the seemingly smart Aizawa to the brutish Tsutsui who was formerly a pretty boy to the now pretty boy Reo, these guys only seem to add fuel to the fire and make it worse for Handa at times. You can’t blame them for being the only ones as dense. Handa in a way is partially at fault to. It takes 2 to tango. Though, it can be mostly seen as these idiots who are the ones aggravating the situation. Kondo despite being your typical normal character is the most sensible of them all. He is probably the wisest. Forced into Handa Force, this guy is the voice of reasoning that nobody listens to since he can actually see what is happening and going on. Just too bad he will forever be labelled as a plain dude.

The rest of the other characters are pretty funny too like Miyoko the self-proclaimed fan of Handa has slowly turned into stalker material and possibly voluntary servant-cum-slave at the end and by the time it ends, we’ll all know her as just Eraser. Then there is the knockoff Handa who by far is ironically the one looking the least like the real deal if he applies his makeup skills and Dash who just wants to compete running with Handa. His running joke (pun intended too) seems to be unable to completely say Handa’s name. Doing so makes him vomit. Shy and reserved Kasumi could be mistaken for a certain famous Japanese ghost if she doesn’t clean up her hairstyle. These people and more feel like an extension to Handa Force instead of part of the main team. Even Ichimiya and his entourage despite being rivals, they respect Handa for who he is. It would be good to have them ‘officially’ in Handa Force but it is good to sometimes see them operate independently of our usual idiots. The only character that is seemingly not a Handa supporter is Hasegawa. This guy seems to be like Kawafuji’s lackey. Something about Okayama remains unexplained till the end: Why and how the heck did he grow beard and moustache like as though he lived as a caveman from birth?

Art and drawing aren’t anything special. Especially if you are being drawn away and focused by the slapstick humour, the art doesn’t matter. Really. It is simple and bright enough just hovering above average. With some good looking boys and girls as well as odd looking ones (Juri feels like she came to the wrong anime). But other than that, there is basically nothing much to complain about. This series is animated by Diomedea who also did Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Akuma No Riddle, Mayoiga, Sola, Kodomo No Jikan, Nogizaka Haruka No Himitsu and Kantai Collection.

Another major reason that compelled me to say that this series is totally different from Barakamon is because they even changed the seiyuus for the character who voiced Handa. In Barakamon, the gentleman voice of Daisuke Ono graced Handa. But here, we have Nobunaga Shimazaki (Makoto Sunakawa in Ore Monogatari) as the titular character. It is only right seeing if they used the same seiyuu, it might have really feel out of place seeing the genre the character is put in. Even Kawafuji’s character who was voiced by the suave Junichi Suwabe in Barakamon is now voiced by Kazuyuki Okitsu (Nagare in K). There are a few recognizable seiyuus too like Tetsuya Kakihara as Reo, Yu Kobayashi as Sawako and Kana Ueda as Tsugumi. The most surprising one is Rie Kugimiya as Kasumi. I did recognize her but it feels a little odd because having her without her trademark tsundere high pitch voice just feels weird. I’m so accustomed to her in such roles. So as Kasumi, you just take away that tsundere voice and go monotonous all the way. That’s how her character sounds. Though, this isn’t the first time she voiced a character that isn’t of her specialty trademark.

Due to the nature of this series, there is a large cast of characters playing a lot of cameo characters. I’m just going to name a few notable ones. They are Yuuta Hirose as Aizawa (Daichi Norita in Cheer Boys), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Tsutsui (Arata in Chihayafuru), Daiki Yamashita as Kondo (Touya in Log Horizon), Kaede Hondo as Miyoko (Kukuru in Fushigi Na Somera-chan), Yusuke Shirai as Hanada (Io in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love!), Makoto Furukawa as Dash (Banri in Golden Time), Kenichi Suzumura as Ichimiya (Sougou in Gintama), Yoshitaka Yamaya as Hasegawa (Sugino in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Miku Itou as Maiko (Mafuyu in Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu Kara), Kimiko Saito as Juri (Chieko in Kuragehime) and Gou Shinomiya as Okayama (Yajima in Linebarrels Of Iron).

As epic and funnily delusional they want to make this anime, I think they did all the crazy stuffs in the opening credits animation. While the hard rock tune of The Liberty by Fo’xTails sings (and screams) in the background, we see characters adorning our titular character as well as Handa and his groupies turning into what I believe are video game characters to take on the non-existent evil in the series that is threatening to destroy the world. Epic, no? It is more toned down for the ending theme, Hide And Seek by Kenichi Suzumura. However you do notice that there will be more characters-cum-followers of Handa as the episodes go by. So when he started out as a loner walking all by himself, at the end of the series he has amassed a great deal of people behind him. Whether or not he considers them as friends is another matter but safe to say that all these affected people are now his believers.

Overall, this is one of the funniest series of the season. You will either love it or hate it depending on what you expect from this series. Of course, major disappointment from purists who wanted to watch a real serious back story on Handa but instead got pounded by the slapstick humour. But for the rest who don’t care about this, it decently tickles your funny bones whether or not you know or watched Barakamon in the first place. I don’t mind watching if they churn out another sequel. Because it may look like I am a sadist for wanting to see Handa and the rest of the gang getting into trouble and misinterpreted situations, but could it be that I am unconsciously a Handa follower now? Sure, I might not love that guy so much but I don’t hate him either. Interesting things always happen around him. Why? Because simply, haven’t you heard? It’s Handa-kun after all.

Gakkou Gurashi

February 7, 2016

Let’s say that the zombie apocalypse is here, what do you do? Do you quickly take action and provisions to survive by beating up zombies while trying to get to safer places and secure resources like how you mostly see in zombie survival movies and games? Or do you continue to live your life and start hallucinating all this never happened? The latter might sound dangerous and baffling but that is what is happening in Gakkou Gurashi. I suppose to cushion the harsh impact of reality, a group of girls continue to live their everyday happy school life like normal. Zombies? What zombies? Those are their everyday friends, classmates, schoolmates and teachers running and going about in school. So what zombies are you talking about? Well, I’m sure it is fine to avert their eyes from reality but seriously, you wonder how long this will last. How long will the bubble hold before bursting? How long before their brains become zombie chow? Oops… Don’t mean to be grim but hey, isn’t that what all zombie apocalypse is? Because no zombies are going to get up from their grave and do a Thriller dance with Michael Jackson. Aaow! Hehee!!!

Episode 1
Yuki Takeya wakes up and makes her way to school with her little pet dog, Taroumaru. She makes her way to the School Life Club where her other friends are waiting, Kurumi Ebisuzawa, Yuuri “Rii” Wakasa and Miki “Mii” Naoki. Rii makes breakfast for all of them before Yuki has to excuse herself for class duty. Along the way she passes by teacher, Megumi “Megu” Sakura whom she teases is fairly easy to miss. Yuki isn’t exactly your honour student. She’s sleeping right in the middle of class. When Mii barges in to talk to her, Yuki had to excuse herself to the infirmary by faking she isn’t well. It seems Taroumaru is missing so they need to go find him. But the dog is smart and really gives them the chase around school, disrupting various classes in session. They thought they had him cornered at the rooftop but Kurumi accidentally opens the door. The chase continues. Because they’re stepping all over the rooftop garden patches, Rii goes into her angry mode and remind them about the role model they have to be here. But cheeky Taroumaru is on the loose again and this means Yuki and Mii have to continue chasing him till they finally put him on a leash. Somehow it was Yuki’s fault in not taking Taroumaru for a walk yesterday which resulted in his hyper activeness. While Mii tries her best to get Taroumaru for her, that dog never bats an eyelid for her. Try again next time… Then we have Yuki making her heartfelt speech about how much she loves them all. She returns to class and describes to her classmates about Taroumaru’s recent naughtiness and they thought she was describing her kinky perverted boyfriend! Now for a dose of reality. When Mii barges into class to call out to Yuki, it seems in reality the class is in ruins. There is nobody around and Yuki is just talking to herself. Her friends, figment of her imagination. Outside the entire school and probably the entire world is overrun by zombies. But Yuki continues to see the pretty skies and clean surroundings… Creepy? And I mean the girl.

Episode 2
Kurumi remembers she joined the athletics and track club because of a guy she likes. But it looked like he raped her. She still reels from this nightmare today. As usual, Rii cooks breakfast for all and after Yuki leaves, Mii mentions about her worry for Yuki as she saw her talking to her ‘friends’ again. She thinks she is in danger as there is one time she wants to go home. But Rii assures her that Megu is with her. They are not psychiatrist and the best they could do now is watch over her as it is unfair to tear someone away from a life they enjoy. They wonder how far this infection has gone. There might be hope to be rescued if their town is isolated but they are unsure if the world is already infected by now. Kurumi sees a lone zombie walking closely at the border of the safe zone. She distracts it so she can smack it with her shovel. However thoughts of her ex-love distracted and almost had her killed. Since it is the summer, Yuki wants to do kimodameshi. So at night, they climb out of the safe zone and make a stop at the store (still loaded with goodies) before proceeding to the library. Oddly when night falls, the zombies disappear. But there is one lurking in the library so when Megu and Yuki spot it, Yuki is on the verge of panic but Megu guides her to be calm as they hide and not make a sound. She assures Yuki her friends will come to her aid. Rii and the rest distract the zombie away with their sound before Kurumi strikes it with her shovel. Yuki is reunited with her friends and they praise her for staying calm. They make their way back. Kurumi remembers her crush turned into a zombie and she had no choice but to kill him. Although she wakes up in cold sweat deep in the night, Yuki’s soothing call of her name calms her down and she returns to sleep.

Episode 3
Megu narrates the events on that fateful day. As usual she wakes up and makes her way to school, not noticing the many ambulances and police cars passing by. She’s pretty occupied about her mom thinking she’s not fit to be a teacher and the vice principal reinforces that as he thinks she is too friendly with students. Megu oversees Yuki doing a retake of her test and at the same time gives Kurumi some love advice. When she gets a distressing message from her mother, it is a video clip of the chaos happening. Isn’t this very close to where she is? As Yuki wants to go home, Megu brings her to the rooftop instead where Rii tends to the garden of her horticulture club. Shortly, she receives a call from her colleague to stay safe at the rooftop and not let anyone in before succumbing to her fate. There is a loud banging on the door and Megu starts fearing the worse. But since it is the voice of Kurumi, she lets her and her heavily injured boyfriend in. They look over the horizon. The chaotic scene. People turning into zombies and infecting the rest. There are explosions and fire in the distance. It’s getting traumatic for Yuki. When the zombies start banging on the door, they shove a locker to block them. That is when Kurumi’s boyfriend awakens as a zombie and attacks her. In her instinct, she picks up her shovel and repeatedly beats his head. This devastating scene is only put to a stop when Yuki hugs her crying. Megu ends the narration that many people may have lost their lives but as long as she is here, she wants to keep the girls safe. Yuki wants to go camping. Don’t worry. It’s not out in the woods. Just a tent in one of the classrooms. Since it’s not appropriate to talk ghost stories, how about love stories? Yuki is bugging Kurumi as the latter mentions about her consoling her after she broke up with her crush. Yuki doesn’t quite remember it. The thought of all of them will be graduating crosses Yuki’s mind. However she feels sad that Megu will still be here. Mii notes that they all love Megu very much.

Episode 4
As they look through Mii’s picture album, they spot somebody else she drew. It is her friend, Kei Shidou. Now to go back to the events of that day from Mii’s perspective. Their class ended early so Mii and Kei hang out at the mall. They meet Taroumaru who belonged to an old lady. Suddenly the panic alert is sounded and before they know it, dead bodies and zombies start piling up. They hide in the changing room and that’s when Taroumaru come to them. They thought it is injured as there is blood on him but they realize it belonged to granny who is now a zombie. For the next few days, they hole up in some storeroom. There are enough rations to keep them going as they wait for help. Unfortunately help never arrived. However Kei expresses her wish to leave because eventually they can’t be staying here although Mii objects. Besides, how would help know if they are here? Then one day she just decides to leave and leaves her CD player in Mii’s care. After she’s gone, Taroumaru can’t stop barking so Mii yells at it to shut up before realizing she overdid it. Maybe that’s how doggie got scared of her. Meanwhile back at school, Yuki also wants to go outside but Rii mentions about the club’s policy that they cannot leave school. But what if it is for a field trip? It has never been done before and what better way for their club to set a precedent. Besides, Yuki already wrote a letter to Megu and she gave her permission. As Megu hasn’t driven in a long time, looks like Kurumi will do it. First, she has to run all the way to the car park while smacking zombies. It took her a while to recognize Megu’s care. Once all of them are in, they bust out of the school like as though it is a happy ending from a movie. Oh, can Kurumi drive? She got the skills from playing video games. Oh sh*t… Hang on, girls. Megu, so sorry for your car…

Episode 5
Taroumaru is also gone. Mii thought it was him banging at the door but it turns out to be a zombie. She continues waiting since Kei promised she’ll come back with help. Yuki and co arrive at the mall as part of their field trip. They go to various sections to get necessary stuffs. This is when Kurumi bumps into Taroumaru as he follows her back to the rest. Yuki takes an instant liking for him. After they had their fun trying outfits (hey, technically they have the entire mall to themselves), when they pass by the cinema, Kurumi heard a different kind of sound. She thinks it is not a zombie and most probably Taroumaru’s owner. As she peeks into the cinema hall, there are lots of zombies waiting. Now they have to run! Yuki starts falling into trauma but luckily they take refuge in a children’s area for Yuki to rest. Kurumi mentions the cinema was barricaded in to keep the zombies out. This means one of the people was already infected. Kurumi wants Rii to promise to take her out if she ever gets infected. Mii heard some sort of commotion and starts packing her bags to leave. However there are zombies everywhere. Yuki and co are about to leave the mall when she hears some sort of voice. She wants to go back and check but the rest thinks she is hearing things. Taroumaru breaks free and the rest follows him back in. When Mii is trapped on a piano (I suppose zombies can’t climb), she yells out for help. That is when the rest sees her. Yuki becomes desperate to save her but it is Kurumi who is doing all the shovel smacking action. Then Rii releases some loud alarm accessory to confuse the zombies. The girls take this chance to escape out. Mii asks if they have seen a girl her age but unfortunately no.

Episode 6
Mii is brought back to school. She learns Taroumaru was the one that lead the girls to save her although doggie still hates her. Yuki and Megu take her tour around the school. Yuki really likes the idea of Mii treating her as a senior. Mii thought the school is unaffected but when Yuki takes her to the music room, despite Yuki as we know acts as though nothing happened, Mii sees the decimated blood soaked room. But there is one pressing question Mii has to ask Yuki: Who is Megu? OMG! Megu is another figment of her imagination?! Later Rii and Kurumi explain the purpose of their club and how Megu was their teacher. She is gone now. In their attempt to escape, she sacrificed herself to block out the zombies. They made a grave on the rooftop in honour of her. So Yuki isn’t seeing ghosts of Megu. To her, everything has never happened. Megu is still alive in her eyes. That is why she continues to cheerful attends class and activities. Rii wants Mii to play along while she is here. Although Mii doesn’t like the idea, she agrees in hopes to understand Yuki better. Then Yuki comes up with an idea for having a sports day. Mii couldn’t understand the need to do such ‘useless’ thing but as agreed, she has to play along. Later Kurumi talks to Mii about Yuki who comes up with things right when they need it most. Like the field trip to the mall. Although it is good to think about the future but sometimes it gets them nowhere. Of course it is also not good not to plan. Somehow Yuki is the one who has the answer that is neither acting nor thinking is the right choice. Mii tastes a good meal for the first time and somewhat feels relieved that she would rather have Yuki acting like Megu is still around. She remembers Kei’s words before she left about being her life being so important that she was willing to spend her life stuck here. Back then she was just merely existing than truly living. Mii feels she can look up to Yuki as her role model. Later Mii pleads to Rii that she wants to join this club. Without hesitation, Rii extends her hand and welcomes her.

Episode 7
Mii starts seeing shades of Kei in Yuki. Although Yuki continues to have ‘nightmares’ of Megu, Rii is more concerned about the coming winter. Yeah. Winter is coming. As they eat breakfast, the talk about the car ride then suddenly has Yuki conflicting with her memories. Megu’s car only had 4 seats and if they picked Mii back… Oh dear… The trauma is starting to creep up so Yuki quickly goes to ‘ascertain’ the event by ‘asking Megu’. Maybe it is Megu’s ghost or just her figment of imagination as Megu calms her down and saying people tend to have vague memories. That is why she talks to others and keeps a diary. That way the vague memories can be visited again. Even when one is no longer around. Yuki returns to her ‘normal’ self again. When they find a stationery set, Yuki gets an idea to write letters. But since they cannot go out to the post office, Rii suggests sending straight from school via balloons and pigeon. I guess Kurumi is going to have some fun trying to catch a pigeon. Catch the pigeon, catch the pigeon! Mii comes back with a helium tank. So the girls write a few letters and Yuki writes one about all of them graduating. That night, Mii talks to Rii and shows her a key belonging to Megu’s staff safe she found. Rii keeps it in hopes they’ll get out of here one day. Next day, the girls are ready to send their letters. However Yuki and Kurumi get into a dispute about naming their pigeon so Rii has them compromise with the name Arnaud Hatonishiki the Second. Arnaud what? They happily release the balloons and pigeon as they flutter away in the wind. One of the letters is written from Mii to Kei, addressing how she is fine and making new friends. She points out Kei was right as life outside is wonderful. She hopes they’ll cross paths again one day.

Episode 8
Yuki is trying to catch Taroumaru to bath after he got dirty. But since they’re making a mess all over the halls, Rii isn’t going to be pleased… The girls talk about graduation and the things they’ll be doing after that. Not sure whether Rii was hallucinating too because she was talking to Megu and they came up with the idea of forming a School Life Club in which Megu instantly made her the president. They select the student council office as their clubroom and to commemorate the founding of this club, they take pictures. As Megu is their advisor and must not be left out too, Rii takes a group picture of her. Megu turns out in the picture. Not hallucination? That night, Mii talks to Rii about how this school is strangely equipped with very good equipment from solar panels to emergency food supplies. Like as though it is prepared for people to live here for extended periods of time. Rii is also curious and believes Megu’s key might hold the answer. They go search the staff room and Yuki joins in when she thinks it is some sort of treasure hunt. However she keeps fooling around and it makes Rii sad. She is holding that photo of Megu and wonders if Yuki has forgotten what happened after that. Turns out that photo is real but shortly after that, the zombie attack and we all know what happened to her. Just as they’re about to give up, Yuki thinks she has found it. The cupboard they had checked and found nothing, it seems it contained a hidden panel. Ah, a safe. Inside contains a safe and some list. However Rii is shocked to see a manual about emergency evacuation and wants Mii to wake up Kurumi right now. As they read, they find the contents shocking. Something to do with biological weapon and methods on how to tackle the survival of the human race like quarantine and discarding certain emotions.

Episode 9
Instead of cracking their heads over it, why not just enjoy the next day cleaning the pool? Water basin actually but what difference does it make? It all started when the girls minus Yuki were talking about this manual and if Megu knew about all this. Signs pointed that she didn’t as instructions said to only open when an outbreak occurs. They go through the manual and see blueprints of underground shelters they never knew existed. That is when Yuki comes in and suggests cleaning the pool since Taroumaru once again got dirty (the basin is filled with algae since nobody tended it but the fish still live, though). So after cleaning it, they have lots of water fun. Mii notices how Rii is very familiar with the school’s solar panels and sophisticated water filters. As an active member of the horticulture club, it only makes sense that the club members know these things to grow their crops. They soon talk about how this school is so well equipped that perhaps the outbreak was in fact predicted. However Kurumi will not have them talk this since they’re here to have fun. So back to the pool and even a water gun fight showdown between Kurumi and Rii. At the end of the day, Taroumaru doesn’t hate Mii as much before. Making some progress. Deep into the night when everyone is sleeping, Taroumaru wanders off to the basement. He starts barking at a familiar zombie approaching… OMG… Megu?!

Episode 10
Mii notices Rii is sad on rainy days. It was the day that they lost Megu. After the outbreak as they set up barricades and expand their territory, they got careless. At that time they didn’t know the behaviour pattern of the zombies. Seems they love to take shelter when it is raining. The zombies surround them and Megu sacrificed herself for them to escape. That was also when Yuki changed her behaviour. They also notice the number of zombies has increased. When Yuki comes in to look for Taroumaru and the dog is nowhere to be found, they decide to look for it. Kurumi remembers memories of Megu while looking. Then she sees Taroumaru’s paw marks leading to the basement. Fearing the worst, she heads down and thought the dog is safe. To her horror, it starts attacking her. The shovel saved her a few times as sad Kurumi distracts him and locks him up in a room. She wants to seek revenge on the zombie that did this to him. Well, I’m sure she would have smacked the zombie had she not be Megu. Her mind is playing tricks. Kurumi thought of killing her but she just can’t. That moment of hesitation is just all it takes. When Kurumi returns to the rest, seems she is already wounded. She apologizes to the rest as they start trying to treat her wound. Kurumi is in great pain. Although not fully transformed yet, you can see her skin starting to. From the way she says things, Mii is devastated that Taroumaru might have succumbed to his fate too. Kurumi continues to experience horrifying nightmares. Luckily she is chained and handcuffed to the furniture. Rii is in a dilemma whether to kill her or not. Mii read the manual that the shelter where Megu was spotted from contained medicine. Mii wants to go check on it although Rii vehemently objects. Mii says Kurumi faltered because Megu was there. It won’t affect her. But as Mii picked up the shovel, thoughts of Taroumaru run through her head. Now she breaks down. Can’t do it too, huh? As the rain grows stronger, the zombies from outside now break in and could even topple the reinforced barrier. As for Yuki, reality may be starting to sink in…

Episode 11
Zombies are now all over the place. Mii could have been done for had not Yuki come to her rescue and then seek safety in a classroom. As the zombies mess around with everything, the power is now cut. Mii wants Yuki to goof off like usual but Yuki feels being insulted. This gives Mii the courage to head down and get the medicine. Don’t leave without the trusty shovel. She wants Yuki to stay here in case Taroumaru returns. You know that’s not going to happen, right? Mii realizes that she is not strong enough to smack the zombies dead. So it tells you the monstrous strength Kurumi had, eh? Mii uses Kei’s CD player and other sound diversion tactics to slip pass the zombies. Meanwhile Rii is close to becoming crazy. She remembers talking to Kurumi if those zombies had awareness. Kurumi didn’t think so because it wouldn’t feel right. That is why Kurumi wants her to promise if that ever happens to her… So is Rii ready to kill her? Mii is at the basement. Ah, there Megu is standing right in the middle like the final boss. Mii runs back out and apparently zombies can’t duck since the shutter is only halfway open. Mii takes this opportunity to tell Megu how her students are doing. And because they’re living just fine, now she can rest in peace. Mii gathers all her strength and smacks Megu’s head. Finally she finds the medical supplies but looks like the electricity is totally out and the place is now going into reserve mode. The zombies have gathered here and Mii locks herself in the room where Taroumaru was trapped (oddly he just ran out when she opened). This situation reminds her of the mall. Could it be history repeating itself? Rii of course cannot do it and is on the verge of losing herself. She screams for somebody to help her (it’s not going to make Kurumi’s pain any better anyway). That is when something inside Yuki wakes up. Megu’s ghost encourages and guides Yuki to the broadcast room in her bid to save her friends. Along the way, Yuki relives memories and past visions of her. Some memorable, some heartbreaking. Each one of them has Megu giving Yuki words of encouragement and the strength to go on. Finally when Yuki has come to terms with reality, she says her goodbye to Megu and moves on.

Episode 12
Yuki fights her way through the zombies but eventually their numbers are too many. Just as she is about to become zombie food, Taroumaru saves her. Despite little doggie having retained bits of his memories, eventually he starts attacking her. She uses her hat to cover his face as she hugs and laments how cold he is. Arriving at the broadcast room, she announces that school is over while narrating her love for this school. As they have deduced the zombies may have some sort of attachment to the living, like why zombie students continue to return to school because they love it, it’s like they don’t have their minds anymore but there’s something deep down inside that makes them want to return. Yuki’s announcement closes on a sad note that all good things must come to an end and hopes to see everyone again one day. Next morning, Kurumi wakes up fine. A jab has been administered into her arm. Looks like she is very much healed. You can see how relieved everyone is. Making it even sweeter is also the fact Taroumaru is also healed. Mii is very grateful to Taroumaru and promises to take care of him, etc. Unfortunately Taroumaru steadily weakens and it comes to a shock everyone that he passes on. They bury him next to Megu’s plot. Yuki now clearly remembers Megu’s last words that she was glad to be their teacher. That is why they don’t have to be strong and hold back their sadness. She wants Mii to remember Taroumaru’s last words. Did that dog speak? No, but you can tell from his eyes during his last moments he was saying thank you. Time to let the tears flow freely again.

The girls analyze their situation and know their limited resources and backup power will not last. They also discovered a map that marks another evacuation centre that is situated near some university and big corporation. They believe Megu was working hard to leave them this clue. The only worry is that if there are other survivors and would they be welcomed. Worst case is that they will be a lot worse than the infected. Yuki interrupts by showing bite marks on some food label. It is too small to be from Taroumaru so they think there must be another dog. They believe that dog must be hiding in the basement, the reason why Taroumaru went down there in the first place. As they have made up their mind to leave this school, Rii says their last activity is to hold a graduation ceremony. In this low key self prepared ceremony, our girls take this rite of passage to graduate and say goodbye to this school. Mii begins with her speech followed by Yuki. And of course, more tears. Only a zombie can remain emotionless in such times, right? The quartet now hop onto the car and start their journey. Oddly, the area is still clear of zombies. Except one lone zombie making her way into school. It is greatly hinted (although not confirmed) that she might be Kei. We see the other dog at Taroumaru’s grave and a survivor picking up one the dropped balloon letters about the girls.

In A World Of Their Own
It is hard for me to pinpoint exactly my sentiments. Overall, seeing how the girls go about in their continued fantasy of normalcy somehow feels draggy and boring. It is only those nail biting moments when they are having close shaves and encounters with zombies that it becomes ‘exciting’ and heart pounding. Of course there are some interesting bits like why the school is fully equipped like as though it is anticipating such disaster and who are the ones responsible behind this if this epidemic is not a mere accident and what would they stand to benefit from doing this. Unfortunately, not having them answered by even a single bit and raising our curiosity and intriguing level to all time high is what I personally feel makes this series a letdown. Even with that kind of ending of our girls taking their first step to leave the shelter didn’t offer any sort of closure whatsoever. It’s like a new chapter of their life is beginning. Interested to know more? Wait for the next season then, buddy. Yeah. That kind of feeling. After all, nobody ever said this show was about going to be a happy ending despite ‘ending’ so, right? Heck, I thought in my worst case scenario of lazy writing, everything is just a hallucination and that the kids are all high on drugs! No sh*t!!! Yeah, sweet dreams to them…

To be fair, this isn’t entirely a horror genre so we’re not going to turn this into another bloody sexy High School Of The Dead clone. After all, killing zombies isn’t the main goal of these girls. This isn’t your usual cute girls doing cute things trope either as it weaves some dark elements into the theme. I mean, smashing zombies aren’t something we can call cute, right? To say it provides an insight on what to do whenever you are trapped in a certain location during a zombie apocalypse isn’t entirely accurate either. Because as already stated, the school is equipped with state of the art facilities and it is like heaven for those who wish to live the safe but boring life. Therefore what the girls are doing by living out their daily life to the fullest is what I feel the best for them. There is any lack of information about the epidemic and how far it has spread so instead of being little heroes that history will never recognise (because there won’t be anyone around to record them!), might as well live their happy life in this little delusion of theirs. That is for the best if you look at the situation that is in store for them.

There are heart pounding moments when the girls come close to the zombies are when the hordes are close enough to turn them into dinner. I suppose this is to jolt you up from the streak of boringness and to remind us from time to time about reality. It’s like fantasy and reality just living next to each other and a thin door just separating them as reality continues to knock hard. It gets really close when Kurumi screws up. But I guess she holds out long enough for the medicine to reach her. Yeah, after hours of screaming and turning your best friend psycho. Phew. Close shave, eh? Can’t fathom a group without her, right? It would be just shocking and vile just to kill a character off like that even though if we just sufficiently love the characters. Eventually if the characters are not much, you can’t help root for them to stay alive and hope they come out in one piece after one horrifying encounter after another.

In a way, seeing them live from day to day as shown means we don’t get enough back story of the characters very much. Most probably all of them are just ordinary girls until this zombie wave came about. They get stronger for each day they survive and of course without any doubt, their friendship and bond growing close and solid. They have to. There are nobody else left alive near them so unless you want to be friends with zombies, you better be on good terms with your friends. Because if you think about it, the most dangerous thing to human’s survival isn’t the zombies but your fellow other human. A thinking human with ulterior motive is very much dangerous, right? You get the idea but we’re not here to discuss about that.

So for our main characters, I guess for a bunch of middle school girls, they really do a good job in surviving this long. Despite their seemingly delusional lifestyle, each of them are in a way ‘broken’. You might think they need psychiatric help but too bad there aren’t any shrinks around at this moment. So it’s like substituting their stolen childhood with this? At least it is free therapy :). Though, they only have one shot at it. At first Yuki might seem like an annoying retard for her tendency to avert her eyes from reality and continue frolicking in her happy dream world. Sometimes it gets to you that you want to smack her head for her to wake up and face reality. But then again, if she could handle reality, would she not have gone into such a mode? This is the best way for her to handle the trauma of whatever is going on. She is after all just a little girl and for her to and her friends to be exposed to such atrocities at a tender age, I think it is best for her to stay delusion until she is ready and strong enough to move on. Yuki is also the mood setter of the group thanks to her very cheerful disposition. She is also like the luck goddess because the on-the-spot decision she makes without any thinking has saved the girls a handful of times.

The shocking thing (and probably the most shocking of all twists) was learning that Megu was already dead. There were a few hints that nicely indicated that there was something odd about her. Like why her faint presence is the running joke of the series, why nobody bothers to correct themselves to call her Sakura sensei instead of Megu-nee despite her constant gentle reminders, why she never joins the girls together in many of the activities and the damning revelation is why she let Kurumi drive her car instead of driving it herself. So if you put all this clues together, it particularly makes sense that Megu is no longer around. But I keep wondering if she is still indeed around in the form of a ghost that continues to help and guide Yuki. Sometimes it might be a figment of her imagination but sometimes it sounds ‘too real’ for Yuki to have that sort of imagination. Personally I want to believe she is in her ghost form but because Megu turned into a zombie as seen, it makes me wonder if she can take on a spirit form considering being a zombie is neither alive nor dead. The undead. So technically can your soul pass over if you are a zombie? Hmm… Something to chew on. Not brains, mind you! Generally, Megu is a very nice teacher that everybody would love to have. She’s been there for Yuki physically or not and has guided her out of a lot of sticky situations. Even if she knows about this epidemic one way or another, my guess is that she still wants to help them and would even sacrifice her life for it.

I suppose every group must have the ‘muscle’ person so Kurumi closely fits that description. Having a shovel in hand has become a trademark and it feels really odd to see her without one. Or her without her twintail hairstyle. I am assuming that since she has played driving video games, she must have played shooting games as well. Because I’m thinking if she had a gun, she would be doing Resident Evil style in killing zombies, blasting off their heads. That would be much easier and badass, wouldn’t it? While Rii starts off as a very cool and calm person (even when being very angry and threatening, her calm demeanour but deadly aura will scare the hell out of you), a big sister that keeps the group together, most probably it is her way of dealing with the trauma of the current events by bottling up her feelings. And then when the possibility of Kurumi becoming a zombie comes hitting home, she starts losing it. All that pent up emotions maybe just exploded like a time bomb. Mii I thought she would fare better if she smiled more often but seriously, who could keep up a smile in this zombie apocalypse? Oh, the other club members are doing just fine smiling… Mii might be passive in many ways but she is still an important member of the club. Every living member is important. So it was really sad to see they had to kill off an intelligent doggie like Taroumaru. Hmm… Maybe they want a change of mascot and will pick up some other little furry along the way.

As Kei once said herself, it is better to try living than just existing. That is probably the best advice that anyone has said in such a desperate time. What is life if you do not live it to the fullest? What is life if you do not live it like on the edge? Kei’s true fate is unknown but even if she has gone to become one of the zombies, I’m sure she had a blast before succumbing. And I thought it would be a cruel joke the moment she splits from Mii, before she can ‘relish’ in her newfound freedom, she just got bitten after taking a few steps. Haha! Whoops! Sorry. That is why Mii is probably confused to see the School Life Club members doing quite ‘dangerous’ stuffs from time to time like leaving their comfort zone for a field trip and the likes. Nothing like a good adrenaline pumping, eh? Mii might be separated from Kei and who knows when they’ll ever meet again but you can bet Mii has taken up her advice to live to the fullest. Life is more thrilling that way. And you know what Forrest Gump said about life being a box of chocolates… Just no chocolates in this setting :’(.

As mentioned, this series is not about the zombies but rather how the girls live their daily lives and deal what is before them. Therefore I cannot help think about the characteristics of the zombies. It just baffles me. I don’t think they are really zombies. I believe the series has not mentioned them about being zombies. It is just me using this term to refer to those walking dead. So it is rather odd to see that you know, zombie students hanging around in school, wandering aimlessly and when it is time to go home, they disappear and go back. Go back home and do what? As assumed, they are not totally dead and still retained certain parts of their memory. Thus the reason why student zombies continue to go to school and adult zombies head to work. And since they’re like the undead, will they continue doing this routine forever? And for the medicine in the basement that Mii brought back, I am not sure if the medicine works for zombies who are already too advanced to be turned back but I guess they run out of those to try it on the rest. Yeah, she just brought back enough for the shovel woman and doggie.

The other odd thing I find about the zombies is the penchant for them to attack our main girls wherever they are. Sure, they are attracted to sound and rush over as soon as they hear the slightest faint. But there are many times when our girls happen to arrive on the scene and then the zombies start attacking. It is like they know they are not their undead comrades and do not hesitate to lunge at them. It is like they know where they are and some lie await for the right moment to spring on them. Like in a video game. Get what I’m saying? Maybe this is to add to the suspense and scare jump effect. I’m not sure if they can smell but they certainly can feel because I didn’t know that zombies don’t like the rain and try to keep out of it! After all, how much do we know about these zombies? Heck, we don’t even know how all this started? Like as though this zombie setting is an excuse to have a peek on the daily lives of a handful of middle school girls. Because from where the series is going, it isn’t going to end either. Maybe they’ll find another type of zombies and another group of survivors… Yeah, next season, buddy?

The drawing and art are rather okay. The girls are your typical cute and moe characters to enhance the cuteness of everything. Sometimes they look like they came out from those cute girls doing cute things genre and suddenly being thrown into a horror survival series. Because don’t you think a young teacher like Megu looks too cute to be a teacher? Sure, this might be the norm in animes but like I’ve said, the girls look like they just came out from some comedy and slice of life series. Interestingly, the zombies are animated using CGI. You can see the way they drag themselves one kind. Yeah well, many zombies do look the same. Do we care? So cut and paste, shall we?

Voice acting, there isn’t anything special. I guess it has come to a stage where veteran seiyuus are slowly fading away and new ones taking the centre stage. Therefore it will be some time before I start recognizing any of them. If they stand out. And hopefully when I do, they won’t go into ‘retirement’ and a new wave of seiyuus comes to the fore. So we have relatively newbies voicing the main quartet such as Minori Inase as Yuki (Suzu in Love Lab), Mao Ichimichi as Rii (Kazumi in Gokukoku No Brynhildr), Ari Ozawa as Kurumi (Nozomi in The Rolling Girls), Rie Takahashi as Mii (Kaon Lanchester in Comet Lucifer) and Juri Kimura as Kei (Eruna in Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku). Veteran Ai Kayano is the voice of Megu (Inori in Guilty Crown). You thought an animal character without any dialogue would be an uncredited role, right? Yeah, it seems they casted another veteran seiyuu to play what is seemingly the ‘easiest’ voice acting role. Well, try barking only for the entire series. I’m sure you’ll go crazy before the zombies get your brain. Yeah, Emiri Katou (Akatsuki in Log Horizon, Kagami in Lucky Star) takes on that role of that cute yapping canine. At least she won’t be turning into Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s Kyuubey. Thank goodness…

The opening theme, Friend Shitai by Gakuen Seikatsubu (basically the quartet from School Life Club) starts off with what I feel is like a zombie themed piece. Then it turns into your typical lively anime pop song. There are a few ending themes. The slow pop of Harmonize Clover and After Glow are sung by Maon Kurosaki (interestingly, although she makes a cameo by voicing a minor background character in this series, the only other series she also voiced also as a minor background character is that other school zombie themed, High School Of The Dead). Initially I thought that slow lovely 40’s-like English ballad as the insert song and special ending theme for episode 4 was sung by a Caucasian. Surprisingly, it was Kaori Sawada. Wow. She sounds sultry and good enough to be passed off like an English woman.

Overall, this show has its hits and misses and because I am still hovering between boredom (seeing too much typical moe girls genres has somewhat numbed me) and interesting (why do they have to leave the interesting bits unanswered?), I am going to take the middle ground that this anime doesn’t suck but do not put too much high hopes about it. If you are in a dilemma to want to watch series with cute daily slice of life but at the same time you want to be slightly spooked, maybe this series would have the right mix in making your heart go ~kyunnnn~ one moment and then giving you a little goosebumps the next. I don’t know. At least that is what I experienced. And I hope I don’t have to experience such terrifying zombie apocalypse ever. Because my dangerous delusions would probably kill me first before any zombies could get me. But then again, aren’t we all living in some sort of zombie apocalypse right now? Everyone is so ‘dead’ facing their Smartphones and iPhones 24/7… Well, if there is one thing that this series proves, it proves that daydreaming isn’t entirely a bad thing… P/S: I’d rather stay and wait till kingdom come in my safe zone rather than venturing out to the unknown. That’s my kind of ‘thrill’ :).

When you have saved your school from closure, what else is there for an idol group formed to just do that as their initial goal? It will be a total waste for them to disband so I guess since they are already here, why not give it a shot and try their hands at Love Live again? And yeah. This is what the second season is mostly going to be. But wait a minute. Didn’t they fail to enter the last time? Well, it’s back by popular demand! Wohoo! I figure that is why we are having a second season. After all, this is going to be their last time together. Gasp! Last time together? What are you saying?! Oh girls, even if this will be your last performance together, you will always be in our hearts, right? Well, if you are a big fan of them. I’m not ;p.

Episode 1
Thanks to the increase in enrolment, Otonokizaka Academy will continue to operate and take in new students next year. Hooray! Honoka has been installed as the new student council president and why, we even have a musical version of it as she sings her way through the school corridors and fields! It might just be her imagination because the moment she took the microphone to address the crowd, she forgot all her lines. Now she can’t laze around since Umi is being as strict to get the jobs done. This is going to be tough work… Never knew the student council was going to be lots of work, eh? Hanayo stumbles upon some shocking information. She gathers everyone and they run around everywhere in school trying to find Honoka. After all that running that could have made them great marathon runners, they finally find her and relay the shocking news: There is going to be another Love Live! Thanks to the popularity of the last one (which was won by A-Rise), this time the competition won’t be based on popularity rankings and will go by regions. Think of it like those sports anime, inter-high competitions of each region will slug it out before the top teams qualify for the Nationals-cum-finals. Their hopes are extinguished when they realize they have to fight A-Rise for a spot in the next round. They’re from the same Tokyo region and this is the most competitive idol region across Japan. This sucks. Well, you’ll never know if you don’t try. Just when everyone gets hyped up to join, here comes Honoka pouring cold water on it. She doesn’t think they have to participate. Say what?! This is an atrocity! They interrogate her and her it seems she is more than happy to sing and dance together. They don’t need some fancy competition, right? After all, their goal of keeping the school alive has been achieved. So to prove her point, she takes her groupies to hang out with her after school. See how fun this is? Erm…

Of course the rest cannot accept this as competing in Love Live has been their dream and they believe Honoka must be overwhelmed by her student council duties. Honoka’s sister, Yukiho is also appalled she doesn’t want to enter. She hints that she and Arisa will enter Otonokizaka next year in April, the same time this next Love Live will start. You know what this means? One rainy day, Niko challenges Honoka to a race to climb the stairs. If Honoka wins, they’ll not participate in Love Live. Niko makes a great start (by getting a head start) but trips. Then the rest tell her the seniors like Eri, Nozomi and Niko won’t have time anymore and since Love Live is only open to students, do you know what this means? If they miss it, that’s it. Even if they get eliminated in the preliminaries, at least they can say they tried their best. After all the motivating talk by her friends, Honoka is back to her usual self and agrees to join. Honoka then becomes God. GOD?! Because she is so happy that she yells to the Heavens for the rain to stop and it did!!! F*CKING HELL, NO WAY!!! The sun is even shining through the clouds! What does this mean? As long as you’ve got the determination, you can do anything! Even stopping the rain?

Episode 2
First obstacle… For the next Love Live, they cannot use songs they have sung. That means only new songs because if so, many will be covering songs of professional idols. Everyone turns to Maki… Oh no. What does this mean? Another training camp! Maki is such a rich girl that in last season they went to her beach villa. Now they go to her other villa in the mountains! Everyone is so captivated by the scenery that they forgot to wake up Honoka who was left sleeping in the train! Nobody even noticed… So in the villa, Maki will be composing songs, Umi writing lyrics and Kotori designing their dresses in their respective rooms. However the pressure is getting to them… Writer’s block? We take a slight detour when a squirrel steals Niko’s wristband. Along with Rin, they couldn’t stop running downhill and amazingly miss all the trees and bushes. Am I playing some sort of platform video game here? Eventually they fall into a river. Back at the villa, the rest notice how quiet it is. Then they realize. Maki, Umi and Kotori have escaped! They’re sighing outside! Oh, the depression! I guess the pressure got to them. So it is decided they split into groups and help them out. Eri and Niko will help Maki compose songs. Honoka and Hanayo will help Kotori with the designs while Nozomi and Rin will assist Umi. Despite the luxurious villa, they have to spend their time outdoors in the wild and as far away as possible. No distractions? But seriously… They’re already facing some hitch. Because the temptation to sleep for Honoka and Hanayo is too great to resist! Rin cannot believe she has to do mountain hiking since Umi is such a big crazy climber. How many more mountains will they climb? And Eri has a fear of the dark… So well, it doesn’t seem any progress is made as we see the groups soaking in the hotspring, lying outside watching the stars and having campfire roast potato. Eventually Maki, Kotori and Umi couldn’t sleep and walk back to the villa where they finally find their groove. Next morning, the girls return to the villa and find the trio asleep. At least there is some progress. When they return, they start practising and Niko suddenly realized she has been had. That damn squirrel still got her wristband!

Episode 3
Due to the large number of participants, each idol team can choose a venue for their performance which will be uploaded live on the internet. However they only have one shot at it. Although the top 4 schools of each region will advance, Muse is disheartened to know they still have to face A-Rise. What’s the big deal? So what if they are guaranteed top spot? There are remaining 3 spots, right? As they need to stand out and attract viewers, the topic of sexy dress comes into discussion. Umi and Eri stand for it and might be willing to drop out! Oh no you don’t! First thing to do to garner support is to broadcast throughout their school their ambitions and goals. Umi and Hanayo are also made to do their introductions since they are naturally shy. Then Honoka had to scream into the microphone to rev up everyone. Did your eardrums explode? They go searching around the school for a venue they had not performed before. Zilch. Looks like they performed everywhere. They can’t do it in Akihabara since it is A-Rise’s turf and doing so is like declaring war. While the girls are admiring the promo video of A-Rise outside their school, UTX High School, suddenly the group leader of A-Rise, Tsubasa Kira takes Honoka by the hand and runs into school! Is this some sort of abduction?! The rest go after them and they meet the other A-Rise members, Erena Toudou and Anju Yuuki who welcome them to their school. Hanayo wants their autograph…

A-Rise mentions they know all about Muse since they have been keeping an eye on them since they can feel they are a team of rare calibre. They note Honoka in particular who is shining brightest out of the 9 of them. They know Muse so well that they can explain each of their good traits! What are they stalker?! Maybe except for Niko… Doesn’t she have any good traits? Maybe… Thanks for the flowers. Niko was a big fan of A-Rise before Muse was formed. A-Rise doesn’t hesitate to say they will not lose to them. Despite being the country’s number 1 idol, that is in the past. They want to continue staying as a group that can please the audience better than anyone. That’s why they won’t lose. But why do they look so shocked when Honoka says they won’t lose too? Is it that determination in her eyes? Was it they never expected her to say that and quietly bow down to their dominance? A-Rise allows them to use their school for their performance venue. The preliminaries are here. A-Rise struts their stuff first and they’re pretty damn good that it might just be the demoralizing factor for Muse. This is what happens if you see somebody’s video and pay too much attention before your act. They’re getting negative already that they can’t measure up to them. So are they giving up? Hell, no! You’ve come this far so give it your best shot! So it’s Muse’s turn to perform their flower maiden concept performance and it seems A-Rise is pretty impressed too.

Episode 4
Everyone is nervous. The results of the preliminaries are out. Those qualified in descending order: A-Rise, East Heart, Midnight Cats and… Mu… Mu… Mutant Girls?! WTF?! What kind of idol name is that?! Turns out to be Honoka’s dream! But it could be a premonition because the same thing happens for real. The top 4 in descending order: A-Rise, East Heart, Midnight Cats and… Mu… Mu… Muse! For real?! Yup. It’s them. Hooray! As the next contest is in December and only one of the 4 may advance, this means they need to practice hard and beat A-Rise. However they notice Niko is missing. It seems she can’t come to practice and have something important. They tail her to see her shopping for ingredients. Could it be she has a boyfriend? When they are spotted, Niko runs. And man, she’s good at running. Thanks to her non-existence boobs, she managed to slip through tight places. As Muse is contemplating what is wrong, suddenly here comes mini Niko! Did she turn into a little girl? Actually she is Niko’s sister, Kokoro. She knows them and takes them hiding and running from who knows what. The paparazzi? Then the biggest shock the girls get to know from her mouth: They are Niko’s backup dancers! Eri calls Niko but she’s not picking up the phone. Kokoro brings them to their home and meet another little brother, Kotarou. Yeah. The backup dancers are here for a visit. The girls then realize something amiss. The posters of Muse have been heavily edited with Niko’s face cut and paste as the centre! Her room is filled with such Photoshop pictures! And she’s good!

When Niko gets home, she’s got some explaining to do. However she runs again after seeing Umi’s death stare. Unfortunately she won’t get far as she bumps into another sister of hers, Kokoa. Niko tries to fool around. They’re not amused. So they can accept that her parents are away for a business trip and she has to take care of her siblings and thus can’t practice. But why the lies of them being backup dancers? She won’t say since it has always been that way. This is her house and what she says is none of their business. The girls leave as they ponder what she meant. Eri remembers when Niko was a first year, she wanted to be an idol. To her siblings she must have been a super idol but when thins fell apart, she couldn’t tell them the truth. She tried her best to be a school idol and even handed out flyers but since Eri was busy with student council work and wasn’t interested in becoming an idol, she didn’t give her much attention. Niko continued to go it alone despite lack of audiences and her other members quit. If she had reached out to her then, would things have turned out differently? One day, Honoka surprises Niko by bringing her siblings to school because they said they wanted to see her on stage. Niko is dressed up like a super cute idol and as Muse takes the stage, Niko announces that this is the last time she will sing as herself. She is not quitting but from now on will be performing as Muse. She is going to be a new person. Her dream is to be the number one idol in the universe and she shines brightest when she is in this group. This is not the end but a new beginning. So let the performance begin.

Episode 5
Honoka, Umi and Kotori are having a field trip at Okinawa. Too bad it is raining heavily. There might even be typhoon. Honoka trying to be a shaman to cast away the rain? I think she is more suited to be an idol putting the sun in the heart of her fans! Yeah! So Rin has been selected as an interim leader to practice for a fashion event this weekend. At first she is reluctant and has no confidence but with the rest putting a lot of faith and encouragement in her, she takes up the job. She’s nervous on her first day and she believes the rest pushed this job to her because they didn’t want to do it. Her confidence is all-time low that she believes she is not the cutest like the rest and not fitted to be an idol. Hanayo laments she might not have gotten over it. During elementary school, she was often teased by boys as she was dressed kind of boyish. Then more woes. Thanks to the typhoon building up, the return trip is cancelled. Honoka and co will be stuck and this means Rin’s leadership is extended. To her horror, as the leader and centre, she is required to wear a girly bridal dress during the performance. She can’t take it and snaps. How far can she run? Anyway she still thinks she can’t do it and so Eri suggests having someone else as the leader. Hanayo is suggested and Rin doesn’t hesitate to entrust everything to her. But Hanayo wonders if she is really okay with this. She is. Really? Yes. As in really, really? Yes. Really, really, really for sure? No doubts about it. So the girls practice like usual and Hanayo even calls Honoka to tell what happened for advice. Come performance day, Rin is shocked that the rest wants her to be the leader. They have practised their coordination so that Rin can be the centre. More words of encouragement and believe why they put their trust in her. Probably Hanayo’s statement sealed the deal. She is the girliest of the girliest, cutest of the cutest that she wants to hug her to death! Is Rin some furry animal? Rin dons the wedding costume and goes out on stage. Safe to say, the show is a success. Better still, Rin has got more confidence now.

Episode 6
Akihabara will have a Halloween theme and Muse is invited to participate as well as A-Rise. Although this is not a ranked performance, it will be a great chance for them to boost their popularity and catch up to A-Rise before the next elimination round. And since they’re going for impact, that scary look on Umi’s face indicates she’s really going to give them the greatest impact they’ll ever have. Some of them attend a live interview on the streets of Akihabara but couldn’t match up to the enthusiasm of the host. Eventually it is A-Rise that takes the spotlight. Umi comes up with the idea of impact by having them introduce themselves dressed in different club outfits. I don’t know. Does it feel like they’re just fooling around? Next idea has got to be the funniest. They try to become another person! It’s hilarious to see Umi as Rin, Hanayo as Niko, Nozomi as Honoka, etc. I won’t say they’re perfect but it’s very close. So much so the original is just appalled. Do they really act like that? Yeah. Everyone so weird. Then this is the ultimate impact and change. Thinking they shouldn’t promote themselves as idols and something wilder, Muse suddenly becomes… KISS!!! Hard rock, punk rock ass! It’s scaring away people! Oh yeah. They really made an impact. And now the chairwoman calls them to her office for an explanation. So wanna perform for the rest of their performance in this outfit? No way! Back to brainstorming. Since it still doesn’t get them anywhere and with no time left, they have to start making costumes and other stuffs. So in the end, everyone becomes themselves. They got so infatuated trying to renew themselves to match A-Rise, they probably forgot that each of them are unique and are best the way they are. And the best part is how they all come together, learn and accept one another. Muse puts on a sterling Halloween performance and gets motivated for the next round. Meanwhile Yukiho is lamenting reorganizing the disorganized books and volumes in Honoka’s room. Then she sees a letter. It must be something big that it is enough to make her go into shocking I-can’t-believe-it reaction spasms.

Episode 7
That letter is actually Honoka’s physical measurements. So? She gained weight! Despite doing some exercise, Honoka is still lax about losing her weight. So Umi gives her a dose of reality by making her wear their idol outfit. That scream… Traumatic… She gets lectured that the extra weight will make her movements sluggish and affect her performance. Thus she will undergo a diet! And while they’re arguing about this, they notice Hanayo happily enjoying her big onigiri. It’s the rice season! Notice something else too? Yeah. She put on weight too! And so the duo undergo strict dieting regiments courtesy of Umi the merciless. One day you’ll thank her. So run! Keep running! Tire easily? That’s because you’re dragging all that excess weight. More running! However along the way, the rice shop seems tempting. Hanayo tries to resist but Honoka persuades. In the end they lose out. So there is a big suspicion that the duo start looking forward to their runs. Then Umi discovers this folly… In the aftermath, Umi reports that Hanayo has got her weight back to normal but Honoka did not. I guess back home, she continued eating like no tomorrow. Suddenly students from the art club come in. They are perplexed that their budget was approved even before the meeting. Kotori realizes it was her mistake. She put it in the approved bin prior because of all that distraction going on with Honoka’s dieting. This is going to be a big problem as the word has spread around. Eri and Nozomi can only do so much so the trio work hard to find a solution. At the meeting with all the club representatives, Honoka admits their mistake, apologizes and hopes they can request to withdraw it. She continues explaining that this year the school avoid closure but has lesser students. Thus the budget isn’t much and they have draft and formulate allocated funds that would meet 80% of their respective club’s requirements. It won’t be much but please bear with them and hopefully this amount will increase if the enrolment for next year increases. I guess it wouldn’t seem nice after seeing them bow their heads and put in all the hard work. So everyone agrees to it. Best ending of all, Honoka lost weight because she has been working so hard that she skipped meals. Now that her weight is back to where it original is, she’s going to start eating! Oh no you don’t, says Umi!

Episode 8
Muse is in an interview but Honoka got fired up an unknowingly fires the first salvo that they’ll win! But the issue now is that they need a new song for their next performance. Nozomi suggests a love song since they never had one before. Well, everyone is looking at Umi. She’s the lyricist, right? And everybody is so tense in wondering if she was in a relationship before. She has not. Relieved? Something feels wrong… Maki doesn’t think they can master it in time but Eri and Nozomi don’t want to give up yet. So they try imagining and mental pictures about romance. What’s the camera for, Nozomi? Well, I just thought Maki played the tsundere part to perfection. While Niko was trying to show off her acting chops (the girls aren’t impressed) and something steamy is about to happen but the camera’s battery went out. Good thing? Because Eri and Nozomi continue to want to work on this, Maki suspects something strange. Why are they pushing so hard? No, I don’t think she has this hidden agenda of joining A-Rise. So the next group discussion on romance has them watch a cheap romance movie. Some are so touched, some are sleeping, some just unimpressed. But the most exaggerated one acting like it’s some horror movie is Umi! Turn it off! So can the idea of a love song materialize in time? They’re up against A-Rise so petty tricks like this won’t work. Then it’s like Nozomi has given up and it’s okay if they do their best with the songs they have. Eri doesn’t feel comfortable with her decision. So Maki later confronts the duo and although Nozomi won’t tell, Eri reveals Nozomi’s dream. She wanted all 9 of them to make a song together by linking their words and feelings. That’s why she suggested a love song. Nozomi continues that Muse is a miracle to her. She has always lived alone and changing schools frequently that she doesn’t have any friends. Till she met Eri was like her personality but distanced herself and couldn’t fit in because of her strong identity. After they became friends, they still couldn’t reach out the other people like them. But now those people are connected in a group sharing the same feelings. It would have been nice if it was a song but it doesn’t necessarily have to because Muse has some achieved something big and her biggest dream came true long time ago. Maki calls the others over so they can all discuss the new love song everyone will help contribute. Yes. Maki will write a new one. Everyone learns of Nozomi’s dream and loves her even more.

Episode 9
It’s a very snowy day and tonight is the final preliminary round. So we see some of the Muse members having their sisters wishing them the best. Then everyone meets up but the new student council trio have the school’s open house to take care off so they won’t be there so early yet. At least Honoka is calmer and cooler this time in handling it all. The other 6 head to the stage venue where the final preliminary will take place. Very big. Very grand. So awesome. They also meet A-Rise there and as usual, the declaration they will not lose. Who wants to lose anyway after coming this far? And now for the big drama problem. The snow has been falling all day that it is wreaking havoc on all transportation. It is about to get worse. This means Honoka and co are stuck at school. Oh dear. An hour till the competition starts. Silly? Desperate? Crazy? But you have got to give it to the trio because they are going to walk through that thick blizzard just to get there! So freaking cold! Yeah. It felt like an eternity just reaching the school gates. When the blizzard simmers down, the trio are amazed to see many of their school mates shovelling a pathway to their venue! Serious! The entire way!!!!!! No way!!!! I mean, yes way!!!!! The damn blizzard almost wiped out their hard work. I know you’re in awe with their steadfast but can you get a move on before the snow piles up again? And so running there has never been faster (isn’t it supposed to be slippery?). Muse finally reunites. Honoka becomes an emotional wreck as she hugs Eri. Crying so hard. Crying so loud. So cold. So scary. Brave girl. And we have everyone to thank for who made this possible. Finally it is time for Muse to put up their snowy white performance and their brand new song called Snow Halation. Thank goodness the snow has stopped. Otherwise how to catch their dazzling performance and for every one of their supporters, friends and family to come watch them.

Episode 10
The freshmen and sophomores of Muse meet up at the shrine for New Year’s Day (the seniors are helping out with Nozomi’s shrine). Maki is the only one turning up in a kimono. I guess the rest didn’t bother to dress. Was there any consensus on that? Along the way they meet A-Rise. From the way they tell Muse to win Love Live must really mean that Muse has won the final preliminary round! There’s a plague as prove sitting in the room! OMG! Congratulations! When Arisa tells Eri her wish to join Otonokizaka to join Muse, this has them thinking they need to get the group together and discuss their future. As Muse practises, they also discuss the next round that they’ll be in. Almost 50 groups will compete and it will be much harder since it will be online as fans will be selective of only the groups they like. As the large number of participants, it is impossible for fans to remember them all and thus many have came up with a catchphrase. They need one that captures their own uniqueness as well as the group as a whole. Time to crack their brains. Later Tsubasa speaks to Honoka. She admits A-Rise’s defeat since all was fair. They’ve been pondering about their future since winning Love Live is no longer their goal. Tsubasa can’t help think about the reason they lost. They’ve practised as hard as them, they had great teamwork as them and certainly have won the hearts of fans with their great performance as them. In fact they believed they tried their hardest and gave their best yet. So what went wrong? You asking Honoka? She doesn’t even know where to begin. So Honoka seeks Umi’s advice and she thinks it may have something to do with the catchphrase they’re looking for. Can Yukiho help? She doesn’t know why but Muse makes her feel like she wants to root for them not because Honoka is her sister or a local group. Muse then makes mochi as thanks for their friends’ support. Niko coming up with a bad pun catchphrase. Something that takes the cake. When Honoka sees the board of wishes at the shrine, she notices most of them are well wishes for Muse. Suddenly she gets inspired of the catchphrase that perfectly describes them. The reason they could go so far, accomplished a lot and still keep on going is because of these people and their support. They try their best, the fans support them, they move on and make their dreams come true little by little with everyone’s strength. This is what it means to be school idols. This is what it means to be Muse. And so their catchphrase: Making dreams come true together.

Episode 11
Arisa is so over the moon that she passed her entrance exam into Otonokizaka. Yeah. She can’t wait to join Muse. Although Yukiho passed too, she doesn’t seem too happy. Even Honoka thinks she should be shouting and screaming banzai. Because Yukiho lets loose this bombshell question: What will happen to Muse after graduation? Umi has now a lighter practice regime since their priority now is to stay healthy. However the girls cannot help avoid the topic of what happens to the group after the seniors graduate. Everyone has their opinion. Some say carry one and some wonder if they should. Eri thinks it is Honoka who has to decide since it is certain that the graduation will happen and they can’t continue working as school idols. Arisa continues to be an eager-beaver and shows off the moves she has learnt. Ready to join anytime? Then Yukiho asks her. What is it that she loves so much about Muse? I don’t mean for her to sound like a sourpuss… Arisa does a lot of thinking and then she confronts Honoka. She has made her decision after Yukiho’s words made her realize something important. She won’t join Muse. She loves Muse when they are the 9 of them and since she is not part of it, she’ll aim to create a school idol group she can belong. Soon, Honoka calls the rest of Muse to hang out. She thought a change in pace might do the group some good. So they really enjoy everything they want from playing games at the arcade, shopping at the idol store, bowling, zoo (imitating penguins and flamingos?), art museum (imitating statues?), praying at the shrine, amusement park ride… Wow. It’s really a fulfilling day. Finally the all-important sunset view at the riverbed. Then the inevitable. Honoka has discussed with her friends and despite their different opinions, everyone came to the same conclusion. With a heavy heart, they announce to the seniors that after the performance, Muse will disband! Because Muse will always be the 9 of them. No more, no less. As expected, everyone starts getting emotional when Honoka realizes they’re going to miss the last train. It was just a ploy to distract them because they won’t stop crying if they start. They take a final commemorative group photo. I wonder how everyone can fit in that cramp booth. Heck, can everyone’s face be seen without something funny happening? After all that laughter, I guess the real inevitable stuff has to happen. Hanayo starts the ball rolling when she starts crying. Oh no! Don’t you start now! Ah, what the heck. Let it flow! Don’t hold it in! Cry all your heart out! Tears flowing, lots of hugging, oh man, such emotional scene. That was really good, right? And with that behind them, all that is left is to practice. A week left to their final performance.

Episode 12
Niko is given the honour to represent Muse and pick from the lots (the performance turn I suppose). I guess it is favourable so it’s not surprising she wants to brag about it but the rest don’t pay much attention to her. After more practice, then it hit Hanayo. This will be their last practice together. Oh no. Please, don’t start it. Niko won’t have history repeat itself and wants them to focus on Love Live. After they pray at the shrine, it seems they haven’t the heart to go home. Honoka suggests they have a sleepover at school. Kotori is able to get her mom’s permission. She’ll overlook it this time since applications need to be submitted 2 weeks prior. Yeah. Don’t spoil their fun. Cheeky Nozomi reveals Eri’s phobia of the dark but this darkness is perfect moment for them to look at the stars. They head up to the rooftop and see an amazing sight of the city lights. Honoka shouts out at the top of her voice, the feelings she wants to convey and she has had since meeting all of them. Morning comes and it is the day of Love Live. The stage is even grander and bigger. Before Muse’s turn to perform, they make their last preparations and drive to give their best. Let’s make it awesome. And they don’t disappoint when they go on stage. After their sterling performance and last bow, they can’t contain their emotions at the backstage. Lots of hugging. Lots of tears flowing. Looks familiar this scene? And then they here the crowd calling for an encore! All their friends and family are supporting them. Even A-Rise. And so out they go again on stage after changing into another outfit. Can’t disappoint their fans and supporters, can’t they?

Episode 13
Honoka is a happy girl because she’s done with her farewell speech. Everyone meets Niko’s mom and younger siblings. Then they see Niko putting up a very kiddie behaviour, pestering her mom to come see something. Guess what? There is a trophy that they won Love Live! OMFG! THEY WON!!! But Umi has got a long face because Honoka is late to come clean up the student council room. Nozomi spots a new (temporary) hairstyle while Eri continues to linger and fell attached to her old student council room she will be missing soon. Honoka gives her a big hug and a thank you speech enough to almost make her cry. That’s a no-no before the ceremony. At the graduation ceremony, this time Honoka is well prepared and ever ready. She also talks about her love for music. With Maki on piano, she even sings a song dedicating to the seniors. The other younger Muse members join them and soon everybody. Don’t worry if you don’t know the lyrics. Just hum along! Later Niko clears out the clubroom. It feels almost empty because most of the idol stuffs are hers. She makes Hanayo the new club president. Who else has a better knowledge on idols? Can’t burden the student council trio either. Reluctant at first, she accepts after support from her friends. With Rin as leader, Maki is made vice president too. Nobody is left out. The seniors want to take a last look around the school and Honoka thinks they should all go together since it’s their last time together. Since she said the taboo word, she is made to treat them all drinks. Yeah, it tastes so good when someone else pays. They visit the alpaca stable (expecting offspring!), the auditorium, basking in the grassy field and finally the most frequented place: The rooftop. Yeah. Lots of memories coming back, eh? As the seniors are about to leave school one last time, suddenly Hanayo receives a big news. So big that she can’t say it here as she drags Honoka back into school with the rest curious enough to chase them. So what is it? Another season? Another Love Live? Or just this ending musical performance for us? And someone please tell me where this place Honoka announced they’re going to go together, a place that we’ve never seen to make our dream comes true? Tell me! I’m such a dumb guy…

One Last Hurrah… And Sweet Victory!
Well, even if there is no more future sequels or spin-offs, the real Muse will still be around and doing their usual stuffs that they have been doing since. So is this a fitting farewell to another idol themed anime or this is just the start of a new beginning? One thing for sure, they have left an impact in the hearts of many with their own unique music and dances. After 2 seasons of Love Live and Muse antics and adventures, I suppose it is time the curtains come down because you know, things don’t really last forever or will they go on forever. Even this idol thingy will die out one day. But hey, let’s not talk about that. As far as this series is concerned, although I am still not a big idol fan nor can I see myself converting into one in the nearest possible future or reincarnated life, there are some funny moments, dramatic moments, friendship moments, heart tugging moments, draggy moments, yawning moments… I know, this show isn’t perfect or it will be my cup of tea, but at least I have this same feeling as them, that satisfied feeling that I can move forward, leave it all behind and be proud of it. Although all I did was just watch 2 seasons of it ;).

There was this dilemma of mine whether or not Muse was going to win Love Live or even make it to the preliminaries. Because from the structure of the show (how far could you go with just over a dozen episodes?) and the way they are focusing on other stuffs instead of preparing for the competitions, it had me thinking that maybe they won’t make it after all. Then they’ll focus the rest of the remaining episodes on something else. Maybe the other characters. Because for each time, we are shown that they are being normally happy in the aftermath. Like the outcome of the competition didn’t matter. It feels like a ploy to get our guards down before they plop the biggest and shocking news that they made it through. It keeps you guessing about the results. Did they win or not? Did they pass or not? Why are they acting so nonchalant like as though it didn’t happen at all? And then the news. And it was absolute sweet victory that they won the Love Live. Icing on the cake. Perfect parting gift. With the lack of hurrah and bravos surrounding their victory, it’s like to make you think it never happened because you don’t see anybody ma king a big deal out of it. I mean when they defeated top favourites A-Rise, shouldn’t the idol world media and paparazzi be hounding them? So I suppose with this season, it is like revenge for making for last season’s failure since the first season was more about to save the school, which was the main reason why the idol unit was formed.

Unlike last season where there is this danger of them being disbanded, this time around they are disbanding for good. It is with mixed feelings that they do so because Muse can only be with 9 of them and nobody else. It may be a trend today of replacing band members, adding new ones or kicking out some but nothing beats the original. Sometimes when you change members so often, it is like a different group and might as well disband the original one and form a new one instead of using the old name. Also, I think that if they want to continue being Muse is also possible. I mean, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have to be high school students to be idols, right? They might not have to compete in school idol competitions anymore and maybe in some other competition criteria. So I don’t see the idea of them disbanding and stopping becoming idols just because some of them are graduating. It’s not like they’re not ever going to see each other ever again, right? Right?! Unless…

This season also sees some episode focusing on some of the members like Niko’s household, Rin temporarily having a go as the band’s leader and Nozomi’s wish. It’s great to see some character development for them although overall the characters still largely remain the same as we know them from last season. For example, Niko is still the biggest joker and the comic relief of the group. I guess every group needs one like her. In that sense she is my favourite because she makes me laugh with her antics (even if it is not on purpose), no matter how much everyone ignores her or she doesn’t realize her Niko-Niko Smile is looks quite embarrassing (but you have to give her points for doing it every time). And there are some sides you don’t see about her every day… Funny… So Niko, you’re really the most amusing girl of the bunch and please don’t take it to heart because I really love seeing you when you get all funny and stuff.

Then there is Nozomi who is a little devilish sometimes. For instance, the time when everyone was chasing down Niko, Nozomi can’t squeeze into some tight space because her boobs were the major blocking force. So she sends Rin to do the job and you can see her satisfied smirk on her face! It’s like she’s got revenge on something. Eri continues to be the kind and gentle person unlike her strict ways in the previous season so much so you might have forgotten she started off as a cold person then. Same case with Umi’s fear of performing in public. Maki although is mixing well within the group, she still sounds a bit distant from the way she speaks and all. A bit tsundere too… As usual, you can’t beat Hanayo’s enthusiasm for all things idol and her love for anything that is rice, Rin’s energetic or her penchant to talk like a cat (~nya) and Kotori is getting better in designing her outfits for Muse. Lastly there is Honoka who has turned from someone incapable and unreliable into someone more responsible and mature although basically she is still the same fun and loving person we know. Naturally that is why she is unofficially the leader of Muse if I should say. It’s like she has dramatically changed this season and before you know it, she’s much more than the person we knew from last season.

The drawing and art remains the same as last season. This means the use of CG effects when Muse is taking the stage. Although not obvious but you can tell the difference. I won’t say it is horrible. It feels rather okay. I mean going from 2D to CG, that transition takes some time to get used to. The dance choreographies are also okay. As I said, I’m not a crazy idol fan so I don’t really know how to appreciate such moves. But hats off to them and every other idol group, real or fictional for coming up with such dance routines, step designs and arrangements. It really takes lots of effort and practice to get them right and look perfect. I don’t remember about last season but for this season, I can’t seem to help but notice the pink blushes on the characters’ cheeks. It is like a permanent feature on their face and at times I just can’t take my eyes off it. I just kept staring at it. I know, it makes the girls look lovelier. Can’t argue about that, can’t I?

Music as usual plays a big part of the series but honestly for me who isn’t really a big fan of idols, I can say that they sound rather okay the most. I won’t go crazy about it. Sore Wa Bokutachi No Kiseki is this season’s opening theme and sounds like your typical pop idol girl group with lots of energy and passion in it. Donna Toki Mo Zutto is the pop rock ending theme and just like in last season, despite there is only one song, there are a few versions of it. Nine of them to be exact because each of the Muse members will have their turn taking the lead singing this piece (albeit you’ll only be hearing that version once). Sometimes you can guess who will be singing it by figuring which of the characters has the most focus in that particular episode and you can see that character being highlighted right at the end of the animation. The rest of the insert songs are okay. A-Rise’s ones are also not too bad but still my favourite remains the first insert song of Muse from the first season, Start:Dash! I wish they would at least play it once more again here but the real Muse unit has got lots of songs under their belt.

Somehow watching the end of this makes me feel that this series and Muse in particular have come a long way despite it is only 2 seasons long and only a year in this anime’s context. But yet we have seen them achieved so much, grown so much and bond with each other so much that even the sharpest blade or scissors will not make the slightest cut on their string of friendship. And when they turned the final episode into one last (almost) dramatic farewell episode, thank goodness they didn’t spam the tears again (unlike in the couple of penultimate episodes where the tears flow freely) because who knows I could not even have hold it in although the final episode wasn’t really on that high level of emotional scale. Because you know it is already going to end. You know it is goodbye. The inevitable has arrived. But don’t be afraid. Because once you reach there, you’ll remember all the memories and the good times they have brought to us. There’s plenty of that to get us through for the rest of our lives. Thank you and horosho!

Can’t get enough of idols? Don’t worry, there are lots of them going around in Japan to fill your idol craving. So many of them that it’s just scary to think of its magnitude and effect it will have. Thank goodness I’m not idol crazy. Anyway, after my stint of AKB0048, an idol themed anime based on the world’s biggest idol unit, here am I once more trying my hands at another idol themed anime. Don’t get the wrong idea that I am starting to have a thing for idols. But what makes Love Live! School Idol Project different from AKB0048 is that this is more grounded to reality. Yes. No futuristic setting. No hi-tech equipment and tools. No magic. No missiles and gun fires. No idols kicking butt. And most important, no oppression and ban from government on anything idols! Wohoo! Idols are free to perform wherever and whenever they like.

So, if there is nothing that threatens the sanctity of idol groups, what kind of storyline will the anime take? Will it be interesting? That depends on how you like to look at your idols. For our group of idol girls in this anime, they need to stop the closure of their school. Heh. How can that be interesting? I’m sure many of us do not feel any more connection with our school (like yours truly and guilty as charged) but for our girls here, they love their school and despite still in high school, they don’t want to see its future shut down just because of low enrolment numbers. Welcome to the real world. Money talks. Numbers are everything. Logically if many people start enrolling, the school can’t shut down, right? So what better way than to attract people to their school by becoming school idols and sing their way into the hearts of the people, right? Everybody loves idols, right? It’s the current craze now, right? Right?! And so, this is the basis for what this anime is about and the reason why they sing and dance, aiming to become top idols.

Episode 0
In this preview episode, we are given an introduction to the series such as the seiyuus that voice the main heroines of this show, the various and numerous promotions and events that led to the inevitable production of this anime and also clips of some of the featured songs and their dance moves. We also have a glimpse of their live concerts whereby the seiyuus of the anime characters and have been voiced by the same person ever since this project’s inception. Talk about lots of consistency, dedication, hard work and perseverance. Not only their voices have been the same but the moves and dances have been also identical in the anime. Lastly, the final promotion of each of the heroines about the anime itself. That’s 9 times over, right? So if you are a very big fan of female pop idols, yeah, there are lots of events, activities and merchandise to grab. So are you ready for the love of your life?

Episode 1
Otonokizaka Academy will be shut down due to the low enrolment number. Honoka Kousaka fainted when she realizes this is not a dream. There goes her high school life she is looking forward so much. In denial, she really thinks it is a dream. Till she sees the bulletin board again. There, depression once more. She is concerned that because she has not studied, the closure of this school means she has to take an entrance exam for another school. That’s bad, right? But as her friends, Umi Sonoda and Kotori Minami put it, the school is staying put till all of them graduate. Even so, they feel bad that the first years will have no juniors below them. The student council president, Eri Ayase and her vice president, Nozomi Toujo ask Kotori if she knew anything about this beforehand since the board chairwoman who announced Otonokizaka’s closure is her mother. She knew nothing. Honoka feels it is wrong for the school to just ‘disappear’ so she thinks if the school’s enrolment increases, it won’t have to shut down. What is it that this school has to attract students? Well, their long history doesn’t seem that great. What about their past clubs’ achievement? Nothing great either. In fact, there is even one scandal of disqualification… When Honoka returns home, she is disheartened her little sister, Kotoha is applying to a different school. Throwing a tantrum won’t get her anywhere because Kotoha too knows it’s a waste of time trying to apply into a school that is going to shut down. Honoka is adamant she will stop the school’s closure. Yeah. Then pigs will fly. Early next morning, Honoka surprises everyone by getting up early and leaving on her own. Actually she is going to scout UTX High School (the school Kotoha is going to apply) and is enthralled to see why so many are flocking over. It has a group of female pop idol, A-Rise doing the promo. Astounding. That’s when an idea hits Honoka.

In class, Honoka tells her friends about this idea of forming a pop idol group to attract students and thus preventing its shutdown. Because based on her minimal research, schools with popular idols attract more students. Umi is not fond of this idea despite Honoka’s persuasion they get to wear cute costumes and shine brightly but negative Umi is not convinced. Being an idol is out of the question for her. Meanwhile Eri and Nozomi see the chairwoman. They too voice their displeasure of the school’s closure. She tells them instead of worrying about trying to prevent the closure, they should focus on efforts to improve the quality of time remaining for the students. In short, there is nothing they can do. Honoka is attracted by the piano and singing of Maki Nishikino. Instantly she asks if she is interested to become an idol. Instant reject. Umi couldn’t concentrate on her archery club because she kept thinking about the possibility of becoming an idol. It really throws her off her target. And balance. So Kotori talks to her and then shows her how Honoka is trying to learn some dance moves by herself. It’s tough but she’s not giving up. And so the trio hand in their application to Eri to form an idol club. Eri is sceptical of them forming one since they are in their second years. Besides, they need 5 members to officially form a club. Borrowing words from the chairwoman, hastily throwing in ideas to prevent the school‘s closure won’t change its predicament and they should be focusing on their time left here. Despite the disappointment, Honoka won’t give up yet.

Episode 2
Honoka hands in her request to Eri for permission to use the auditorium for their concert after the entrance ceremony. Eri remains sceptical but Nozomi takes the trio’s side. They just want to borrow it and not use it for club activities, thus the student council have no right to object. Kotori designs their outfit but Umi objects because she feels the skirt is too short. Besides, she thinks her legs are too fat. Honoka suggests they go on a diet then. But the first order is to come up with a name for their idol group. Let’s say they have a bad naming sense that would make them sound like jokers. So Honoka gets an idea to put a survey of what their group is to be called. It will also garner interest in the group as well. Next is to find a place to practice and since every place possible is filled with people, the rooftop is their only option. But they can’t get started because they don’t know what song to sing! Heck, they don’t even have one! Hanayo Koizumi sees the idol poster and is interested but this shy girl is taken away by her tomboyish friend, Rin Hoshizora.  Niko Yazawa also looks at the poster but with a contempt look on her face. Umi visits Honoka’s home and is appalled that the duo have forgotten about dieting since they are munching away the snacks. Are they serious about becoming idols? Honoka tells them about Maki and her piano and wants to invite her. Then they try to persuade Umi to write lyrics since she used to write poems when she was young. She is forced to because the rest sucks. Yeah. That puppy dog eyes really did help convince her. In exchange for doing this, she will be in charge of their practice schedule. Showing them a clip of A-Rise’s dance, they have lots of stamina and are able to smile while prancing around. She makes Honoka do some push-ups. Easy? Now try doing it while smiling. Tough, no? And so Umi becomes a Spartan in training her buddies to build their stamina by running up the stairs of the shrine. They see Nozomi working here part time as a miko priestess.

Honoka looks for Maki and once again tries to persuade her. Same answer. Not doing it. Why? She just doesn’t want to. Then Eri steps up to talk to Honoka. She wants her to stop this. Their school has never had an idol group before and if this plan backfires, what will others think? That’s why she wants her to stop acting as though saving the school is easy. This throws Honoka off her feet and she starts feeling gloomy that it is not fun and games like she thought. They are running short of time and have not begun on the many preparations. Honoka’s confidence receives a major boost when her other classmates agree to help her out whenever they can. She is even happier when she sees a suggestion in the survey box. It is the Greek alphabet of muse. And so it is decided that they will be called Muse (because writing this alphabet would be a pain for this blog). Honoka goes to look for Maki again and once more she is awed at her piano playing. Again she tries to persuade so Maki tells her reason why she doesn’t want to join because it feels the kind of music they sing isn’t serious and lacks depth. She is more into classical and jazz. Of course Honoka says being an idol isn’t easy either and has her do push-ups while smiling. Then she gives her Umi’s lyrics and wants her to read it. If she is not convinced even after reading it, she will stop bothering her. Honoka praises her singing, the reason why she would love to have her composing songs for them. That evening, Maki sees the trio doing their stamina training and realizes their resolve. She sends them a CD of a song she wrote and the trio are very impressed. They also note their online idol ranking has gone up a notch with a vote. They can thank Maki for that. Yeah. Rank 999. Only 998 more spots to the top.

Episode 3
As the trio continue their training, they spot Maki spying on them and ring her in. Although she is still in denial mode, they let her listen to the song they wrote that they have recorded themselves. In school, a couple of girls recognize Muse because of the video uploaded on the internet. Honoka is happy and is going to give a little sneak peak demonstration but she finds Umi suddenly ‘missing’. Seems she is hiding because she has a fear of performing in public. The best way to overcome her phobia is to let her help them out handing flyers for their concert tomorrow. So they think. She’s more scared than ever. Just think of them as vegetables. Looking weird, eh? It might be demoralizing that nobody is interested in taking a look at their flyer but Umi hits the first one: Hanayo. She thought of taking the short cut and giving all her flyers to her. There’s not short cut to success. Back at Honoka’s home, Kotori shows the dress she has made. To Umi’s dismay it wasn’t what she expected because the skirt is still short. Umi pulls out of the group and says they only have themselves to blame. But when Honoka starts spouting about the hard work and effort they put in, blah, blah, blah, Umi feels bad and changes her mind. Next day after the school entrance ceremony, the trio continue to hand out flyers. But it seems to be tougher than thought since many of them are interested in joining other clubs. Just before the concert, the trio put on their idol costumes. Honoka and Kotori are appalled Umi is wearing track bottoms. Looking very odd. They pull down her pants and make her look in the mirror. And then psycho her how cute she looks. Hanayo wanted to attend the concert but pushy Rin takes her to go look at some sports club to join.

Moments before the curtain rises, Muse is ready to give their best performance yet. And they are going to go all out before the sell-out crowd… Oh… Nobody… Not a soul! Man, this is very disheartening. Honoka is on the verge of tears but tries to put up a brave front. Her classmates feel bad for her because they did all they can to help and yet nobody turned up. Suddenly Hanayo runs into the auditorium. She is puzzled because she thought there is supposed to be a concert. Did she enter the wrong hall? Muse gets their confidence back and to perform even if it’s just one spectator. But that number won’t stay for long because as they perform Start:Dash!, they are soon joined by Rin who came rushing in to look for her friend and is amazed at the performance. Nozomi is listening outside and also catches Maki doing the same but hiding behind a corner. Eri is watching from the broadcasting room while I do not know if Niko has been hiding within the seats of the auditorium all this time or just snuck in. At the end, everyone is awe struck by their performance. But Eri had to pour cold water on their efforts because she doubts continuing this would make a difference. But Honoka insists they will keep singing and dancing. She hasn’t felt like this before and wants to keep believing. They’ll keep trying and do everything they can to get this feeling out there. This feeling in their hearts that brought them here.

Episode 4
Hanayo would love to become an idol as it is her childhood dream. However she feels she can’t as her voice is too soft and shy. Honoka and co are at the alpaca stable and see Hanayo as the caretaker. They remember her as one of the audiences at their concert. Honoka becomes pushy in asking her to join. Or desperate rather. I hope she doesn’t scare her off. When Rin asks Hanayo what club she wants to join and can tell she wants to join the idol club. Hanayo doesn’t have the confidence and asks about Rin herself. Rin considers herself tomboyish and thinks she won’t fit in. Later Hanayo sees Maki secretly taking a Muse recruiting flyer but notices she dropped her student ID. Meanwhile Eri goes to see the chairwoman about wanting permission for the student council to save the school because she thinks the idol group would just make the school more unappealing. The chairwoman disagrees and shows Muse starting to gain popularity because somebody uploaded their video on the internet. Hanayo arrives at Maki’s big mansion to return her student ID. Bringing up the topic of Muse causes Maki to be clumsy as she bumps and crashes into her furniture. Is she interested in joining the idol group? Maki says it is impossible because it is decided she will go to a medicine school so music is over for her. But she did hint that if Hanayo becomes a group member, she’ll help her out once in a while.

Hanayo then goes to Honoka’s home. She opens the room door and sees Kotoha trying to make her breasts big! Oops. Wrong room. In the next room, she sees Umi in her delusion performing to the crowd. Hanayo thinks she is done for when the girls corner her. Can she really forget that embarrassing scenes? Once everyone gathers, they see the uploaded video and wonders if Hanayo will join them. She is still unsure so the rest tell her about their own flaws and would have easily failed in becoming professional idols. But as long they have motivation and a goal to aspire to, they can keep trying. They don’t expect an answer from her now and hope she could take some time to think about it. Although Hanayo tries reading aloud in class, she embarrasses herself by biting her own tongue. Later Maki talks to her and practises with her to speak up her voice. When Rin enters the scene to pester Hanayo to join Muse, I don’t know how it becomes a competition between Rin and Maki to be the one who will take Hanayo to them. WTF. Does she have a say in this? Apparently not because they drag her there while arguing about it. At the rooftop, Rin and Maki give all the encouragement to Hanayo to join. In her own voice she finally expresses her wish to join Muse and they gladly accept her. Why are Rin and Maki crying like as though they are seeing their daughter growing up? Anyway they are not to be left out and Muse extends their recruitment to join them. Care to be part of the idol group? For them to be so defiant at the start, suddenly they just accept? As Rin and Maki wake up early for the training (this is going to be a daily affair), they see Hanayo casting away her spectacles and using contacts instead. She looks cuter and less nerdy this way.

Episode 5
Kotori thinks someone is stalking them. It turns out to be Niko but she tells them all to break up! Muse prepares to practice at the rooftop but it is rainy season. Bummer. Honoka and Rin thought they can practice in the rain but wouldn’t that make it more slippery? Unless you’re as athletic as Rin, maybe. At the fast food joint, Muse tries hard to think of a proper place to practice. And then Honoka just remembered. It takes 5 members to form a club and they have 6! Unknown to them, Niko is spying at the next table and she is appalled Honoka only recently thought of that. The rest realize she is the one who is stealing their fries and burger! Honoka is more concerned about her fries but Niko reminds her to break up as they are a disgrace to real idols before running off. Honoka takes her club application to Eri but she turns it down. Seems the school already has an Idol Research Club and it only has a member. Although it takes 5 members to form a club, once formed, it doesn’t matter how many members are left. Due to the school closing down, they want to discourage the formation of clubs and as long as this one exists, she won’t approve it. Nozomi suggests talking to the sole member of this club. Guess what? Yeah. Niko is the president of this club. Surprised Niko first locks herself inside the clubroom. Then she makes a run and escapes via window. Rin chases her but she ultimately bumps into the alpaca.

Muse is let into the clubroom and they are astounded to see Niko an avid collector of anything school idols. She even has the rarest Legendary Legend of Legend Idol box compilation. Suddenly Hanayo becomes miss-know-it-all. Getting down to business, Niko knows they are here for the merger talks and rejects them instantly. Although they don’t want to disband her club and just need a place to practice, Niko won’t listen. It is not that they practice and train hard every day. It’s because they lack persona. What persona? Niko demonstrates her cutsey Niko-niko smile move. Cute? Or just embarrassing? She believes such persona is to give fans what they want, idols need an appropriate persona. After that she kicks them out. Nozomi has anticipated this so she tells Muse that Niko was once the school’s idol. However she set the bar too high and everyone quit. Niko envies them and since her criticisms prove she takes an interest in them. Niko continues to stalk Honoka and friends and doesn’t believe how close they are. But she herself feels lonely like she’s missing out on something she wanted. One day when she enters the clubroom, she is surprised to see Muse waiting for her and eagerly awaiting her consultation of the next song they will sing. Wait a minute. Did Honoka just include Niko as part of Muse? I guess you can say Niko accepts being part of the idol group because she mentions that training from now on will be tough. Her first advice is that idols aren’t there to show people their smile, but make people smile! Remember that! And so Niko begins training her peers and starts off by doing the Niko-niko smile. She’s strict but she looks happy.

Episode 6
Nozomi goes around helping Muse with her interview to increase their publicity. Honoka is all for it while Umi is against it. Eventually she has to agree… The secret video of Honoka dozing off in class and being lazy… Is this what she bargained for? Feels more like invasion of privacy. We know what Eri will say if she sees this. Niko tries to put up her cutie idol act but what Nozomi wants is to film them in their natural state. Well, I thought Niko’s natural state looks pretty artificial too. I guess nobody is interested and left her to act all by herself. Nozomi continues to film and interview Muse but the way some are shy, uncooperative or just fooling around, it doesn’t seem it will give a good impression. So Nozomi films them while they are at their best during practice. One hour of hard dancing and singing without complaining. Nozomi visits Honoka’s house. Honoka’s mom tries to frantically put on some makeup seeing the student council is here. Honoka wanted to introduce Kotoha but they see her trying to fit into her belt. Just one more hole… Nozomi talks to Honoka about her contribution to Muse. Since the songs, lyrics and even dance steps come from other members, what mostly Honoka does is lazing around and getting wowed from watching other idols online. This makes her wonder how come she is the leader of Muse. Is she? And so Niko calls a meeting with Muse to decide the group’s leader. I thought Niko was the self proclaimed one since she is the president of the club, right? Apparently not. Niko gets all passionate in telling the traits of a leader. Get the feeling she is hinting herself? Why the sudden emphasize and need for a group leader? Because the leader will take the centre position. The rest ignore her and continue to be split in either Umi or Honoka as the leader. Honoka has no qualms if Umi takes over. She doesn’t care if she is no longer the centre since they’ll still be working together as Muse. As everyone is split, Niko tries to hint herself but is completely ignored. Does she want it that bad? Then why not just say it?

And so looks like Niko takes the hard way in determining the leader. First, a karaoke competition whereby the one who scores the highest gets to be it. Niko has already chosen the songs she is confident and will do well and tells those who aren’t interested to not participate since less rivals, better her chance. Guess what? All of them scored above 90 points. Good thing those practices paid off, eh? And they didn’t even take it seriously. Next is the dancing at the arcade challenge. Niko has the same confidence she can beat those amateurs at this game. Guess what? They all did well on their first time. Good thing those practices paid off, eh? Lastly, the aura test. Say what? Whoever finishes handing out their flyer means they have an aura to attract others and thus the winner. Niko is confident since this is her forte. But Kotori finishes first and Niko in dead last. Good thing those… Uhm, never mind. In the end, nobody really stood out and are more equal in the overall score. I see Niko, your chances of becoming the leader is pretty slim. So do they still need a leader? Honoka doesn’t think they should have one as they have been practising and singing just fine without one. She suggests they all take turns. Everyone gets to be the centre. This sits well with everyone and Niko even agrees (she has to). Of course, everybody knows that Honoka is their unofficial leader because she doesn’t let things get in her way, does what she finds most interesting and does it without hesitating. A video of Muse singing is uploaded. Nozomi shows it to Eri who remains sceptical. Nozomi just told them what she feels and hopes Eri would acknowledge them. They will be better if she helps. But Eri tells Nozomi to help them herself. She can’t because her cards state that Eri is the person they need most. Hanayo rushes to the clubroom to tell everyone some big news.

Episode 7
The big news is that there is going to be a Love Live event. The top 20 school idols of the nation will compete to find out who is the best (it will be streamed online too). Hanayo is thrilled that she wants to attend all those concerts but doesn’t have confidence about Muse’s participation. What’s more, Umi says their position is too low for them to qualify. To their surprise, checking their stats again it seems they have been picked as a rising school idol group. There are lots of encouraging comments on their video. Even Maki has fans from other schools waiting outside the gates. As a condition to participate, they need permission from the school so they head towards’ the chairwoman’s room. She agrees but Eri is against it since she herself said they shouldn’t sacrifice their school life for the school. But the chairwoman doesn’t see any harm for them to enter. Eri then demands that she too wants to help save the school but was turned down. Eri thinks she is siding them and leaves. The chairwoman has 1 condition for them to participate: All must not fail any of their subjects. Easy, right? Well, Honoka, Rin and Niko don’t seem to look so good. This is going to be tough. Honoka is so bad in maths that she thinks 7×4 = 26. She took 5 seconds to calculate that. Not good… Rin is weak in English but doesn’t feel the need to speak a foreign language since they’re Japanese (excuse, excuse). Niko asserts she doesn’t fail anything. I don’t think she can fool anybody on this one. So Kotori and Umi will help Honoka while Maki and Hanayo will help Rin. As for Niko, Nozomi will do the honours. Because if she fools around, she’ll give a breast rub she’ll never forget. I never knew Nozomi could be this scary. She might be enjoying it too. Umi sees a girl, Arisa watching a video of Muse that wasn’t uploaded before. Arisa is a fan of Muse and it was recorded by her sister. Who? Eri.

Umi talks to Eri and finds out she is the one who uploads all Muse’s videos. Never crossed her mind she would be the one since she is so against it. Without it, Muse would never have gone this far and got lots of viewers. But Eri doesn’t want her to get the wrong idea. She uploaded those videos to prove Muse wouldn’t get to their fans. However it backfired. She still thinks they are not cut out to represent the school and won’t acknowledge them. Even if they get more popular. Because she views all idols as amateurs, including A-Rise. Umi wants to talk to Nozomi (catching her in the act of molesting Niko’s boobs for fooling around) and wants to know why Eri isn’t fond of idols despite seeing them dance and sing. Umi is shown a ballerina clip of young Eri dancing gracefully. The shock is too deep for Umi as she understands why Eri said that. It made her think what they have been doing all the while. She heads to the student council’s room and hope she could request her to teach Muse to dance at least half as good as her. But Nozomi says that will have to wait and something more important comes first. The exam is in 5 days. If Nozomi wasn’t a demon making the idiotic trio study like hell, Umi becomes demon instructor number 2 because she is going to stay at Honoka’s house till the exam. Not letting up. The exam results are out and thankfully all of them pass (Honoka just barely but a pass is still a pass). It would be tad sad if such lovely girls won’t get to compete in Love Live. Muse is now motivated to seek the chairwoman’s permission but they hear a shocking statement. Outside her office they hear her telling Eri that the decision is final that Otonokizaka will stop accepting student applications next year and will shut down.

Episode 8
Honoka can’t believe it and pleads for more time. What the chairwoman meant was, in 2 weeks’ time they will be having an Open Campus. Middle school goers will have a look around their school and if it is poorly received, Otonokizaka will shut down. Eri will be taking action to ensure events for the Open Campus. But it seems the suggestions suggested by her fellow members seem boring. Is there any other attraction? Yeah. The school’s alpaca.  Oh, she got spit at. As Muse practise, Umi thinks this won’t do and their dance lacks impact. They discuss about Eri who is a great dancer and if you want to compare their dances, of course theirs look amateurish. Honoka feels she wants to get Eri to help train them to dance. Though some are against it, I guess there is no harm in trying. Eri reads her practice speech to her sister but Arisa finds it boring. Is this what she really wants to do? Honoka asks Eri to teach them to dance and she accepts seeing they are popular enough and thus willing to help out. Eri remembers the heartbreak of failing to be selected despite her magnificent dance. Of course she lost out to someone better but the bitter feeling still remained. Eri starts her Spartan training by making them do basic muscle training, stretching and balancing. Rin looks like she is having trouble. She’s in trouble. Shows how unfit some of them are. At the end of the day, she feels they aren’t up to it and tells them if they can’t keep up with it, just tell her sooner so she doesn’t have to waste time on them. Honoka thanks her and hopes she could continue to teach them.

Eri’s dilemma continues. She hears Arisa listening to Muse and enthralled by their efforts and it cheers her up. On the next practice, Eri has doubts whether Muse will improve or not so Honoka says they’re doing it because they want to and they want to save the school just as much as her. Eri leaves but Nozomi confronts her to ask what is it that she wants to do. She always thinks about others but never herself. She’s only trying to stop the school because she feels it’s her duty as student council president. Perhaps that’s the reason why the chairwoman won’t let her. Eri blows her top. She says she would have done something if it could get her somewhere. She starts crying lamenting it is hard for her to join the group now. As she sulks in her classroom, Muse comes to extend their hand for her to join. They heard from Nozomi and should’ve just told them sooner. Though Eri still has her pride, Nozomi knows how to work her way around to convince her. And so, Eri becomes the eighth member. There is even more delight in store because Nozomi becomes the ninth one and Muse is now a whole. Why is she joining now? She’s going according to her cards. Muse as the name suggests refers to the 9 signing goddesses. She is the one who came up with the group’s name. Muse puts up their performance in front of the middle schoolers on Open Campus and they really love their performance.

Episode 9
Due to the welcome response, the decision to shut down the school is postponed. Remember. Just postponed. Another good news is that Muse now has got a bigger room for their club. Thanks to Eri joining them, their popularity skyrocketed and sits at 50th in the rankings. But lately Kotori can’t join them for practice and always leaves early. A new shop selling memorabilia of school idols opens in Akiba. Muse is surprised they even have their own. Is this legal? But Niko seems to be frantic she can’t spot one with her own face on it! And when she does, look how happy she is. They see a picture of Kotori in a maid outfit on sale. And then Kotori comes by in a maid outfit to request that photo be taken off. Once she realizes her pals, she pretends she doesn’t know them and makes a run. She can outrun the rest but she can never beat Nozomi. She knows where she is and threatens a breast rub if she resists. That always works. As explained, she is known as the legendary Akiba maid Minalinsky. It’s mind boggling they don’t even know. She started doing this part time maid café job around the time Muse was formed. This is to change herself. She still feels she can’t do anything compared to her friends although they know very well Kotori has done her fair share of things. Eri notes it is normal that one usually feel they have no talent. But in a way it makes them work harder and improve themselves. Soon Eri announces they will hold a live performance in Akiba. Despite being the stronghold of A-Rise, they’ll get good publicity if they pull off a great performance. And so she entrusts Kotori to write the lyrics of their new song since she knows the place better than the rest. Since everyone is having high hopes for her, she reluctantly accepts.

We see Kotori write… Cute words… But it doesn’t make sense or at least connect. I know she’s trying but… Chocolate parfaits are delicious… Crisp Crepes I want one… Five toed socks feel nice… If you lay out lots of macaroons it is all colourful and makes you smile… Because of that, Kotori has a hard time concentrating in class and at this rate she might go crazy. That’s when Honoka decides to do brainstorming together. So our trio of second years work part time at the maid café with their other Muse members as customers. What better way than to find those words by experiencing the place itself. Kotori shows why she is the legendary maid with her gracious service. I want to be served by her too! Umi who is still afraid of meeting people is doing a more traditional maid’s job: Washing dishes at the back. Aren’t maids supposed to do this kind of jobs? She gets some encouragement from Kotori. She’s like a whole new person when she dons the maid outfit. Honoka gets an idea that she should just use the words that she talks with her friends or anybody in her lyrics. With that, Kotori’s mind flows better as she pens down the words. Muse then puts up their live performance with all of them in a maid outfit and it is a success. The trio also gained lots of experience being a maid. At the end of the day, Kotori wonders how long they’ll be together. She’s sad everything will end in 2 years. Honoka assures her that they’ll always be together. It makes her feel so much better.

Episode 10
Honoka thinks it is too hot to practise. Excuses, excuses. So she comes up with this idea of having a summer camp. She suggests having it at Maki’s villa. Since Eri gives the green light, I guess Maki has no choice but to seek her parents’ permission. Before they depart, Eri has them practise calling each other casually and do away with the senior-junior thingy. Maki’s villa is bigger than everyone thought. Who’d knew she was this rich! Umi has come up with a very rigorous training schedule. 10km swimming followed by 10km running? Wow. Is this Spartan training? I know they’ve got less than a month for the Love Live competition but isn’t this too much. So our lazy trio (that’s Honoka, Niko and Rin) try to worm their way out and they manage to get everyone to have in the beach. Eri approves of it since it will help bridge the gap between them. Nozomi films them as part of the PV. Nozomi notices Maki not mixing with the rest so she goes talk to her despite she is being herself, she actually wants to get along with everyone but just can’t bring herself to express it. Why is Nozomi sticking her nose in her business? Because she knows someone who is very similar like her. Niko surprises everyone that she can cook (despite saying earlier on she has a chef who cooks for her and thus doesn’t know a thing). After that wonderful curry meal, they want to go watch the fireworks. However Umi wants to practise after that. Still giving excuses not to? Since everyone is divided, they go soak in the hotspring before going to bed. It’s going to be a long day of practise tomorrow. However nobody can sleep. Except Umi. She’s already out. They hear something munching away and it turns out to be Honoka. She thinks eating snacks can help her sleep better? Maybe put on more weight, yeah. Nozomi initiates a pillow fight and blames Maki as the source. In no time, it’s every girl for herself. I can’t believe Umi can sleep through all that racket. Till the pillows hit her face. Now she has awakened into a demon! Regret waking her up? Her supersonic pillow throw is enough to put out unfortunate souls into deep sleep! Scary! She is taken out by Nozomi-Maki combo. Nozomi notes Maki is more casual with everyone now. The first light of morning comes. Maki wakes up and sees Nozomi looking over the horizon at the beach. Nozomi tells her how she loves Muse a lot and doesn’t want any member to fall back. Although it was the second years who created Muse, she has been watching them since and has an emotional attachment to the group. The rest of the girls wake up and watch the beautiful sunrise together hand in hand.

Episode 11
Muse has climbed their way to 19th and they are ecstatic if they keep it up, they’ll qualify for Love Live. Of course they can’t rest yet with the many school idols below 20th place not giving up yet since they are approaching the home stretch. This means more practice. Also, Eri suggests to do more performances (since doing something special won’t cut it at this point in time) and to use the upcoming cultural festival as their platform. Because Niko wanted to do something so badly, she ends up being the one who will pick the auditorium for their performance. She didn’t know it was via lottery style. Muse watches in baited breath as she spins. Can her luck bring it? Well, no. No auditorium for them. So depressed. Like it’s the end of the world for some. And some blaming Niko for screwing up. I hope that’s just a joke. They start thinking about other places to hold their performance and the only viable place is the rooftop. Although people down there can’t see them, Honoka suggests they sing out loud and this will attract people to come up and watch them. Great idea. And so the rooftop it will be. Kotori seems to be having her own dilemma. She has received a letter and asks her mom for opinion. She says it is up to her to decide. In another discussion, Honoka suggests of practising a new song that she heard Maki wrote. Do they have time to practise new moves? Honoka just wants to do her best. This means extra solo night training by her own initiative. She even comes up with new moves and works the hardest. Umi is concerned about her for practising up till so late and hopes Kotori would talk her to her senses but she says it’s up to Honoka to do what she wants. That night, Honoka and Umi call each other and think Kotori is acting strange. But Honoka thinks she is just excited for the performance. Honoka continues her midnight jogging even if it’s raining. Subsequently Kotori calls Umi about her dilemma. On the day of the festival, Honoka wakes up a little late (thank her mom for that, otherwise she would have slept through the day) and finds she is sick. Oh no. To make the day worse, it is raining. Honoka hides her illness (seriously, her friends can’t tell?) as Muse gets dressed up. They can’t back out now after they’ve come this far. They are only here because they kept pushing themselves and all they have to do is their best. Kotori doesn’t want to shock the group and will wait after the performance to announce. I wonder if it’s a wise idea for Muse to go out and dance in the rain. I hope the platform is not slippery. You know what can happen with all that dancing, jumping and moving about. Too bad you won’t get to see the effects of idols’ clothes being heavily soaked. Get what I mean ;p. Right after the first song ends, Honoka collapses. Though everyone panics, weak Honoka still won’t give up. She wants to sing the next song. The show must go on.

Episode 12
Muse cannot carry on with the performance and some of the audience start leaving. The girls pay Honoka a visit at her house and she’s recuperating fine. But Eri informs they will not be participating in Love Live. The chairwoman told them to reflect on this and what their original goal was. After discussing, Muse decided to abstain from participating and withdraw themselves. They are no longer in the standings. Eri also says it is no use blaming things now. Everyone is to blame. Honoka didn’t manage herself better and everyone else for not noticing. I bet they didn’t even notice this one: Kotori is seen packing her things at home and is sure she will tell Honoka about it tomorrow. Honoka is depressed back in school so much so Kotori doesn’t have the heart to tell her. Niko couldn’t bear to see it and sends Nozomi to do her breast rub. It always works. As they are out of the running for Love Live, they can take their practice easy and still perform, though they are not in a hurry to do so. They receive the good news that there is an increase in applicants for next year’s intake. Which means the school won’t be closed down for at least another year. Happy everyone? Yeah, but why isn’t Kotori? Umi advises her the longer she puts it off, the harder it gets. Niko celebrates with the rest of Muse about their school’s revival. She’s making a speech nobody wants to listen. Because Kotori continues to be indecisive, Umi decides to tell everyone on her behalf. Kotori will be leaving to study abroad in 2 weeks to study costume designing. She didn’t want to break their spirits and decided to tell them after the festival. Once she leaves, she won’t come back at least after she graduates from high school.

Honoka is upset she never told her. They’re friends, right? But she told Umi, didn’t she? There were many times she wanted to tell her but Honoka was so focused on Love Live. She wanted to tell her after the festival but she collapsed. She wanted to discuss it with her to make a decision since she is her first friend. Kotori runs away in tears. Umi says she may not actually want to go and struggled so long to make a decision probably she was thinking about Honoka. She wasn’t trying to keep it a secret either. Later Honoka mails to Kotori to apologize she never considered how others felt and only thought about herself. But it’s too late now, huh? Though Honoka continues to be depressed in class, Eri calls her up to the rooftop. Muse plans to do a final performance together for Kotori’s farewell. But Honoka blames herself if she had only took note of others, this wouldn’t have happened. Eri chides her for taking all the blame. It won’t do them any good now. Getting depressed won’t get them anywhere. Besides, there’s always next time for Love Live. But Honoka’s morale is so low that she wonders what is the point of competing since they’ve already reached their goal. Besides, they’ll never beat A-Rise. This upsets Niko because she joined them since she took this seriously and believed in her. If she is serious in what she just said, Niko is going to beat her up (only to be restrained by Maki). Is this alone enough to make her lose all her motivation? Eri asks what Honoka will do now. She will quit being a school idol. Umi won’t allow her to have her way and slaps her. Where has the Honoka she knew gone to?

Episode 13
Kotori and Honoka has not talked since and the latter continues to put up a gloomy facade. Eri has put Muse on hiatus and this does not sit well with Niko. Umi goes talk to Kotori and from the way she says things, it is too late for her to turn back now. Oh, really? With so much free time, Honoka hangs out with her friends and at the arcade while playing a dancing game, she is reminded of her times practising and dancing as Muse. After parting ways with her friends, she meets Niko, Rin and Hanayo practising by themselves. Though Muse is on hiatus, nobody said they should stop being a school idol. Don’t you remember? Niko loves idols, the reason she is doing this. She loves the kind of idols that motivate everyone to work hard and asserts her love is different than her half-hearted one. The rest love to have her back since she was the one who started this. Later Eri visits Honoka’s home to apologize about putting Muse on hiatus. Eri talks about herself. People view her as strict and calm but she finds herself hesitant, indecisive and always wanting to cry. However she hides her weak side and wishes she could be like her who is not afraid to show what she feels. Honoka thought her the courage to move on without fear of change because back then, her hands saved her. Kotori’s mom sees her daughter off alone at the airport. It’s better this way she doesn’t see anybody or else she won’t stop crying. Umi sees Honoka at the school’s auditorium. Honoka is here not because of Love Live but her love for singing. She admits being awkward and selfish but wants to keep going. Umi starts laughing. She says she has always been causing them trouble. They can never get her to listen to reason. Take a good example how Umi was forced to join this idol thingy whether she likes it or not. However due to that, she always takes them places. Great places where they can’t go on their own as they lack courage. She is mad not because she didn’t notice how Kotori felt, but rather she was denying how she truly felt. After a short song, Umi tells Honoka to get Kotori. Didn’t she decide to leave? Just like Umi, Kotori wants her to be selfish and wants to be led by her. She found favour with a famous designer and no one would tell her to stay. The only one who can be selfish with her is… Honoka rushes her way just in time to the airport to grab Kotori. She wants to be a school idol with her even if they end up pursuing different dreams one day. Easy as that, Kotori goes back with Honoka just in time for Muse to put on a concert in front of a full hall. At the end, Honoka makes an announcement of Muse Music Start.

This one only lasts 15 minutes. It begins with Hanayo being freaked out after hearing Maki’s weird dream of being chased through the dark corridors and getting trapped. Later when Maki goes to play the piano, she notices a key without any sound, as she tries to take a closer look, she is scared out of the daylights when she sees a little girl standing by the piano. Because of that, she becomes absent from Muse’s practice the next day. That scared that she turned ill, huh? The girls think of visiting her after practice. When they leave, Eri remembers she forgot something and returns to her classroom to retrieve it. Suddenly it turns dark. Colourful stage lights fill the path as she chases after silhouette of that little girl. When she comes out, Eri is reunited with the rest of her friends, they are surprised that the day has become night! They think they are inside some dream. Then that little girl pops out to confirm it. She is Maki in her young age (Niko is devastated she is cuter than her!). She says they are all interesting as they are very close together. She also says this is a never-ending party. As the fireworks light up the sky, she adds that she has known them for a very long time even before they became Muse. Before she could complete her sentence, she transforms into her high school self. She herself is surprised to find herself here but the rest are amazed of this magic she pulled. Did she? They are certain this is her dream. As for what little Maki wanted to say, it was that she always liked them all. Now we have a full length song and dance video of Muse. WTF. I don’t get it. What’s this OVA about? Unless it’s just a prelude and introduction to this song Music Start which happens to be their sixth and latest single.

S.O.S. (Save Our School)!
Guess I had a feeling it had to end this way. There is no way that a group with cute girls would just disband and end of a story. There is no way that a member would go far away and be separated from the rest of her friends. How else would they make a second season then? It would be impossible to be an idol unit via long distance relationship. It just wouldn’t work. By the way, a sequel has been scheduled to be released somewhere in mid 2014. Fans of the group would definitely rejoice on this news but for me, just like my stint with AKB0048, I’ll still be hanging around to see how far they will climb and eventually become top. The sequel is like giving them a second chance to participate in Love Live since they totally missed this one out due to a little ‘internal misunderstanding’. Maybe it is a good thing too that they didn’t get to participate because it gives them more time to practise and hone their skills. So for a big part of this season, we mainly see how Muse gathers all its members and from what it started as an idol group to save the school (and have already achieved it), they turn their sights to a bigger goal by becoming the nation’s top school idols. So that’s why I have this feeling that the sequel will see Muse take on all-time favourites A-Rise and even if they don’t take the crown from them, at least they will make it known that they have put up a good fight and letting the A-Rise trio that there is another idol group who isn’t so far behind.

Each of the characters has their own personality and with a variety of them, it is easy to see why they shine. A mix of different types of personalities has a great impact in the diversity of the group. You may have fans liking a certain character but in the end, they still love the group as a whole. Honoka is unofficially the leader because of her cheerful outlook and not afraid to let her feelings known. Some may say she’s selfish but I won’t say that it is to a point that makes her a dictator. Even if she seems pushy about it, eventually it is the other girls who agree to her ways, right? So it’s not totally her fault. It’s just that moment of weakness she had in the end that knocked her balance off a little. Because she has helped those in need, now it is their turn to help her back. Out of all the girls, the most amusing one is Niko. If I should say, she is more like the group’s joker. Not to say she is always like one but because of her child-like tendencies, the way she acts and thinks-she-knows-it-all makes her an amusing girl. But her passion for idols is genuine and you can’t pull a fast one on this area. She knows her idol stuff like the back of her hand. Nozomi acts like the big sister of the group, watching and keeping an eye out for them. Her breast rub technique makes her a character that has extreme sides. We can do it the nice way or the hard way…

Eri is one character whom I feel has undergone the most change. Before Muse was a whole, she was always playing the strict no nonsense student council president, not please with what Honoka and co are doing. It’s understandable that she has an image to put up with. Deep down in her heart, she perhaps had always wanted to be part of Muse but because she keeps delaying, the cold image of hers becomes harder to shake off. When she has cast away all that and become part of Muse, she becomes a better person. Heck, I think she looks prettier when she constantly smiles! Better than that serious frown she always had. Umi has also changed because she doesn’t fear performing in public as much as she does before. Maki also learns to mix well with the rest of her friends and Kotori definitely looks better if she has that dreamy look instead of that indecisive one. Was it really that simple? She just wanted a friend to tell her not to go and she won’t? Well, this girly thing I really don’t understand but it’s not my place to say. Rounding up the rest of Muse are the shy Hanayo and tomboyish Rin. With such a variety of characters, how can you not love them? Even the side characters are lovable themselves though I don’t think they’ll ever be part of Muse. Kotoha is a funny girl whenever you catch her in the act of some dieting or self slimming down stuff. Arisa exudes lot of moe while Honoka’s friends are truly friends because they help support her through times.

Hardcore fans would already know this by heart since it is common knowledge but since I only knew about this group via anime, I only learnt that the girls of Muse (in reality, the name was picked via handphone poll – heck, many of the costumes, hairstyle and position are determined via handphone poll) are played and voiced by the same people ever since their inception back in 2010. It’s like they’ve planned this for a long time and anticipated this would eventually happen. I guess this is only right since Muse also have their own fan base (and growing). Fans of a certain idol wouldn’t really like it if some character in the anime is voiced by a different person.  Based from the episode 0 I’ve seen, they have put in quite a lot of effort by staging various promotional events, live programmes and concerts to keep fans coming back for more. They’ve come a long way and you could say it is quite a successful project. Some of the members went on to lend their voice in other animes like Honoka’s Emi Nitta, Kotori’s Aya Uchida, Umi’s Suzuko Mimori, Niko’s Sora Tokui, Eri’s Yoshino Nanjou and Hanayo’s Yurika Kubo. Maki’s Pile, Rin’s Riho Iida and Nozomi’s Aina Kusuda only have this anime as their debut in voice acting. As for the rest of the supporting characters, they didn’t use big veteran names of the seiyuu industry since many of them don’t ring a bell to me (sorry) but they’ve got some experience in the industry. The only veteran seiyuu I recognized from the list is Kikuko Inoue playing as Maki’s mother.

Music plays a big part of any idol themed animes. I won’t say that I totally love their songs and moves, I just find them rather okay. I’m not an idol person so don’t hate me for that. Still, I think they sound pretty good and enjoyable. Of all the songs that I have heard and featured in this anime, the one that I like most is the insert song, Start:Dash! Well, at least I thought it made me tap my feet to its nice tune. The opening theme is Bokura Wa Ima No Naka De by Muse (who else?) and sounds like your typical energetic and happy idol song complete with its own unique moves for this piece. Kitto Seishun Ga Kikoeru by Muse (seriously, you’re not thinking it would be some other group, aren’t you?) is the ending the theme and although it is still the lively piece, it feels less energetic compared to the opening theme. Although this is the only ending song, there are many versions of it. I mean, with 9 members in Muse, there are going to be a version which is sung by only one of them or a duet and so on. The combination is endless although hardcore fans would know the ‘permanent members’ when they are not singing together as a whole and when they break into smaller units of 3. In my opinion, I think they sound better if all sing the song. Because some don’t really sound good if they’re singing solo… Whoops. I’m not the one to say…

The drawing and art of the anime is of course vividly bright and colourful. You can’t attract people having dull and monochrome colours, can’t you? In the course of the anime, you get to see Muse performing in some of their trademark costumes and perhaps even more in the next season. To add to the realism of the dance and choreography, CGI animation of the girls is used just like how it was done in AKB0048 too. At first it may look odd since we have been watching the 2D version for quite a while and then when the performance begins, it shifts into 3D animation. The difference won’t be very much but it is noticeable. More importantly, the animation using CGI is smooth so it doesn’t make Muse feel like a bunch of robots dancing on stage. Of course not the entire song is in CGI mode as some parts are still in 2D animation. This anime was produced by Sunrise and Aikatsu, another idol themed anime was produced under them.

Despite this series lacking all the action and sci-fi stuffs compared to AKB0048, this is still quite an enjoyable show. Unless of course if you aren’t into idols and music, then you may have considered a bunch of girls forming an idol group to save their school from closure to be tad boring. If you’re thinking that this show is intended for girls, I have a feeling it is targeted for mainly males instead. I mean, the main gender group that would love an all-female idol group would be guys, right? There would be girls too but don’t you think all that sexy dance moves and sexy outfit are to attract males? Is it their singing and dancing that we are more interested or is it something else? Well, sometimes I feel that for those who can’t make it to their favourite idol concerts (or even afford it), perhaps this is a reason why this anime is created. So you can watch it from the comfort of your room. But then again, which crazy idol fan doesn’t have every collectible and memorabilia of their favourite idol group, know every darn trivia about them and attended every concert or other events they organized?

Chitose Get You

April 12, 2013

The last time a young elementary school girl had hots for her teacher was Kodomo No Jikan. If you want a less horny and more innocent version of that, then that would be Hanamaru Kindergarten. Well, Chitose Get You seems to sound awfully familiar too. But the guy she is in love with isn’t really a teacher but an office worker working in the welfare department. Still, the basic premise is there about a young little girl having romantic feelings for an older man and trying to win his affections while he puts up with her obsession. Then there are the other characters and love rivals that revolves around them and the plot. So if you want to see what this young girl is up to, then you might want to sacrifice 3 minutes per episode just to find out the antics and troubles she gets into.

Episode 1
11 year old Chitose Sakuraba lets us know she loves this teacher of hers. She is willing to skip class to go see him today. However, there’s always this ‘evil’ teacher, Asako Fuji who stands in her way of her beloved. And this fantasizing has got her into trouble. She’s already knocked out Hiroshi Kashiwabara while Asako stands by, ready to punish her. Guess what happens to her cheeks? Later in class when Misaki asks why she is so into him, Chitose interrupts Asako’s class and heads right to the front just to explain! It all happened one day when she was attacked by a vicious dog. Actually, it seemed like she was playing with a cute puppy. Then out of the blue her beloved came. Their eyes met. The dog attacked him. More like it playfully jumped on him and stole his shoe. He ran after the dog. Her ‘saviour’ left without a word. She was left with a fluttering heart. Chitose realizes too late she interrupted Asako’s class. It’s punishment time. Not even her saviour can save her from this.

Episode 2
Chitose complains to her friends that despite having her, Kashiwabara is attending a marriage meeting. Those are for desperate people, no? Then she badmouths Asako for putting off too long and thus the frustration of having no boyfriend at her age. Guess what? She’s standing right behind you! Chitose and Asako are shocked to see each other at the marriage meeting. Apparently Chitose is here to accompany Kashiwabara. Asako thinks she’s here to get in her way. She has a word with Chitose and pleads for her to go home. However Chitose teases her that she’ll fail anyway and deservingly gets a noogie. After she goes home, Asako talks to Kashiwabara and apologizes about Chitose. He is kind enough to say that it shows her students care for her. Her heart string is tugged and instantly she tells her mom this is the man she wants to marry! Back in school, Asako and Chitose have a fiery showdown over Kashiwabara. Stay away from my man! How did he even get involved?

Episode 3
When Chitose tells Asako she doesn’t want to be treated like a child, she replies it can’t be help since she is one. Then she flaunts her boobs just to show why she is an adult followed by a childish victory laughter. So who is the child around here? Next morning she wakes up wondering what to wear. She decides to put on her adult clothes since she’ll be dealing with Chitose. However she finds she cannot fit. Thus she settles for a one piece dress. Her colleague, Kouhai comments it doesn’t show off too much. Then comes in Chitose wearing a cute one piece dress too to woo her beloved. The duo look at Asako. Kouhai quips that if you get lazy, you have to put a different kind of effort.

Episode 4
Chitose and Hinako Hiiragi remember giving their father shoulder massage vouchers for Father’s Day. They tease Misaki she bathed with daddy. It isn’t long before Misaki goes off fantasizing. Later she asks Asako what she gave her father. Because it wasn’t vouchers or bathing, she thinks it is something more extreme. Anyway she can’t decide on a present to give to her father. She tried asking him directly but feels it is something she can’t give as a present. He told her not to get married. Then Chitose asks Asako who is better, Misaki’s dad or Kashiwabara. Misaki suddenly turns into a devil thinking Chitose likes her dad! If not, does she hate him?! No way out! Scary!

Episode 5
Hinako loves to cosplay. I suppose she’s the extreme type. When Misaki wanted to feed the rabbits, there Hinako is dressed as a rabbit too. So she doesn’t like carrots… Later she dresses as a wood. When Misaki falls off into the stream and get her clothes wet, luckily Hinako brought spares. An acorn suit. Hinako in a fish suit even sings a song for her. Lastly Chitose sweeps all the dried leaves together. Hinako now in a sweet potato outfit sits in the pile of leaves. Everyone already goes home… Isn’t it getting cold?

Episode 6
Asako’s class are outdoor sketching. She sees Misaki concentrating too hard to sketch her dad that she her pencil snaps! Hinako may obediently seem like she’s sketching but upon further inspection, she is sketching her own thumb! Technically, this is what you call pencil sketching, right? And we all know what Chitose will be sketching. Guess who this handsome hunk is? Since she’s doing something ‘illegal’ in the middle of class, Asako takes her somewhere for her punishment.

Episode 7
The class will be having a fire drill. Hinako is in a monk outfit. That’s supposed to be fire proof? Besides, Chitose is in a fireman’s suit while Misaki a Sengoku general. WTF. Kouhai presses the fire emergency button and thanks heavens she’s a teacher (otherwise you’d be in trouble for that prank). That felt good, eh? As everyone slides down the chute, Chitose had fun and wants to climb back up to do it again! Then she teases Asako that she’s scared since she didn’t slide down. Asako agrees. However Chitose crosses the line when she accuses that she might get stuck. Pissed Asako slides down just to prove it but then everybody saw her panties. When counting the heads, they realize Hinako is missing. I don’t know how she got to the rooftop and is chanting weird lines.

Episode 8
Chitose visits Kashiwabara at the welfare department. He wants her to play with her friends instead of coming here. She understands and leaves. Soon she returns and plays ‘hide and peek’ with him. Whenever he feels somebody is watching and turns his head, Chitose goes hiding. Then he goes over to check it out and to his shock, Chitose and her entire class are hiding there! Which means Asako’s class is so empty… The brats are hurling Kashiwabara with adult questions like if he has kissed or like little girls. Suddenly Asako barges in and like the monster tries to get her students back to class. Panic rages throughout the room to the point it becomes decimated.

Episode 9
When Asako is late, Chitose thinks of an excuse to sneak out and call her. Oh, here she is right at the door. During the test, Chitose can’t seem to concentrate but when it’s lunch time, she’s full of energy because today’s lunch is pudding. She decides to show it to Kashiwabara but Asako didn’t think so. Later Chitose complains to Kashiwabara that adults have it easy as they don’t have tests to take. But his superior, Shige mentions that he too gets graded on his performance. And it seems he isn’t doing well for being thick headed and inability to take jokes. Chitose tells him to work hard for their future but he didn’t take it positively so Shige minuses a point from his evaluation.

Episode 10
Shige has written his Tanabata wish: Kashiwabara to work 5 hours overtime. In class, Chitose wonders if Asako is going to wish for a boyfriend. She better not get on her nerves. Chitose ponders what to write because marrying Kashiwabara and having a lavish honeymoon is already a given thing (counting her chickens?). Because Asako hasn’t wrote one, Chitose writes for her. Guess what? It’s a wish to get married at some point this year. Here comes the cheek pinching punishment! And because Hinako adds “Recycle” to it, she to gets the same punishment. In the end, Chitose didn’t know what to write so she just draws a love triangle on the strip and hangs it up.

Episode 11
Chitose once again receives the punishing end of Asako’s cheek pinching. Hinako suggests to know thy enemy if she wishes to defeat the enemy. This means to spy on Asako. Chitose and Misaki sneak in to staff room find anything that would be Asako’s weakness and good news is that she is not back. Bad news: She’s back now! Horror scene! The duo returned messed up. Mission failed. They then decide to scare her with what they are afraid of like cockroach and snake but Asako shows no sign of weakness. Suddenly Hinako shows a photo and it sends Asako panicking. She has a bunch of those shots too. Asako grabs them all and takes a breather in the toilet. The pictures turn out to be her blowing kisses to Kashiwabara. Little devil… Hinako uses the PA to ask her if she wants to data too. NOOOO!!!

Episode 12
It’s the pool lessons but why is Hinako in a carp outfit? She can’t swim… So can this make her swim better? Asako advises to relax her muscles and the human body will naturally float. Because Chitose is badmouthing Asako, she throws her clipboard to knock her out. Here’s a good demonstration of how the human body floats. Later Chitose continues to tease Asako that she doesn’t want to swim because she is worried about wrinkles. Not wanting to lose, Asako reveals her bikini outfit underneath but goes into hiding since it is against school regulations. Chitose goes to report to Kashiwabara about this and he thinks it sounds good. Meanwhile Hinako ponders how to wear a full scuba gear.

Episode 13
Asako wonders if Kashiwabara will ask her out to the festival. Unfortunately it is Kouhai who called her to ask her out. She’s free, right? Chitose and friends are at the festival too. Asako remembers her happy childhood at festivals and seems to be reliving them now. Having fun, aren’t we? The real competition begins during the shooting game. Kashiwabara realizes he is in sh*t when Chitose and Asako start pointing their rifle at him. Then it becomes all out war when the girls start firing at each other. They are interrupted when the fireworks lit the sky. In the end, they won so much prizes (maybe all of them) that they don’t know what to do with it.

Episode 14
Asako wants her students to pick a book at the library for a reading report. Each time Misaki picks a book, Hinako hints in sign language that the cat character will die in the end! Lost motivation… Meanwhile Chitose fools around by drawing flip cartoons in the pages and using books as domino blocks, much to Asako’s ire. Just when she had picked a book, it is a book to learn about sign languages. For dummies. How can you write a report on that? Then both ladies start trading insulting sign languages at each other. I guess Asako needs to get noisy in her punishment so she brings Chitose out of the library and you can imagine the rest.

Episode 15
For the sports festival, Hinako is in a cheetah’s outfit but she’s the slowest. Misaki is fawning over her daddy all the way and Kouhai is making cheeky comments over the microphone. During the tug of war, Kashiwabara cheers on Chitose and this gives her immense strength to win it for her team. Then for the three-legged-race, he wanted to cheer for her too but was immediately stopped by Hinako because she doesn’t want to die yet. During the lunch break, Chitose gets permission from her mom for Kashiwabara to join them. Mommy hints that her lunch isn’t the only thing that is delicious. She is delicious too. Oh no… Later when Chitose asks for the photos of the sports day, turns out that every one of them are pictures of Kashiwabara! No Chitose… I guess this means another rivalry…

Episode 16
Speaking of rivalry, Kashiwabara’s niece, Mika is clinging on to him. Yeah. Another girl with plans to marry him. Their lovely time is interrupted when Chitose comes crashing in. Mika is introduced and Kashiwabara hopes Chitose could play with her. In exchange, he will treat her. Suddenly Asako snatches Mika away to play with her. This leads to the duo arguing over who should play with Mika. Despite Mika putting up a polite facade, she’s sizing up her rivals. Asako may have a nice body but she’s old. She must be more careful of Chitose instead. She thought she could get mischievous with Chitose but it seems her plans backfired but unsuspecting Chitose. Whether getting her hands squeezed or being taken for a scary spin ride at the park. Mika thought she’s going to die! I don’t think Chitose is that strong. Unless Mika is a wuss…

Episode 17
Kashiwabara treats Asako and Chitose to a fancy restaurant. Of course it isn’t going to be a peaceful meal. Chitose interrupts each time Asako wants to say something. They even start throwing forks! When Chitose starts tossing her greens to her, the ninja-like knives hurling begin. Behave yourselves! At the end, Asako wanted to ask Kashiwabara to invite her out again but because she was too shy, she couldn’t say it. Smart alecs Kouhai, Hinako and Misaki had been watching them and comments there has been no progress, bringing ultimate embarrassment to Asako.

Episode 18
Misaki is eating snacks despite knowing it’s not allowed. Apparently her dad wanted her cheeks to be fluffy. WTF. So when Asako finds out, she blows her top because it interferes with her dieting. Eh? What? Apparently Kouhai commented she put on weight. Asako also throws it back to Kouhai that she too had put on some weight. Then they start pinching each other’s belly and it ends with a jogging challenge. When Asako’s stomach begins to growl, Misaki offers her snack in which Asako promptly refuses. Chitose fantasises she’ll get a nice body and attract Kashiwabara but Hinako starts patting her body and notices there are lots of places where she doesn’t have weight. Hint, hint.

Episode 19
While on his way to school, Kashiwabara unintentionally sees Misaki’s skirt being hooked up by her bag. Chitose tackles him like an American footballer to avoid him peeking. Though Misaki feels embarrassed, Chitose reprimands her for trying to seduce her beloved. Then they ask Hinako how to be more like a girl. Misaki mentions a teddy bear so Hinako right away gets into a bear outfit. She then mentions about showing one’s natural behaviours and mannerism. As example, she lifts Misaki’s skirt! Totally wrong! Chitose then asks Asako if she is a girl. Technically she says she isn’t. When she tries to lift her skirt, she gets whacked! Maybe more like a brute woman she is. Later Misaki goes to apologize to Kashiwabara for this morning’s incident. However he doesn’t remember a single bit. Notice the bump on his head? He can’t even remember why he had such a bad headache.

Episode 20
When Asako learns that Chitose is at it again bugging Kashiwabara about Christmas, she storms down to the office to kidnap her in a Santa sack! Kashiwabara then compliments her Santarina outfit that she is wearing for a school event. Chitose plans to give a ribbon as Christmas present. How? She ties it over her head. Asako snickers that it won’t work since she is too young so Chitose hits back she’ll be 16 years old in 5 years time, the legal age she can marry. Asako visualizes Chitose all grown up having a nice body and feels devastated. She gets this idea to tie the ribbon on her head too but all the girls kept staring at her. It doesn’t make her look young. Kashiwabara finds a couple of Christmas presents outside his doorstep. He could guess the smaller one is Chitose and the larger one is Asako. They’re both inside it… Don’t even ask.

Episode 21
Chitose helps her mom spring cleaning. She notices a box filled with love letters. Those were from her school days. Hey. There’s another box filled to the brim with love letters too. Those are after she got married. Oh… Wouldn’t that make dad jealous? Precisely. That’s why she can’t throw them away. They stumble upon Chitose’s old baby clothes including diapers. Mommy wants to put it on her! Misaki comes by to play but she sees Chitose in trouble. She’s pleading for help! Looks like mommy is forcing all the old clothes on her. Don’t look!

Episode 22
Asako and Kouhai are hanging around together. Bored. No money or place to return on New Year’s Eve. What to do for a couple of woman to get drunk? Chitose and friends pay a visit to Kashiwabara’s home. But he is not in as Mika said so they leave. They don’t care about Mika, huh? Mika joins them to visit Asako’s place and because Chitose is annoyingly ringing the bell, the drunkard mistakes them from the pizzeria or the soba shop. She slams the door and dismisses class. Scary. Probably Kashiwabara had the nicest and quietest time of his life…

Episode 23
At the shrine, Misaki prays in hopes she won’t get into more trouble with Chitose this year. Then the bell Chitose rings comes loose and falls on Misaki’s head! Maybe God didn’t hear her prayer. Asako punishes Chitose for New Year nuisance right at the shrine. Later Chitose hopes the priestess could show them how to exorcise ghosts. She can’t since she is a part timer but she knows how to knock out men. Why are Asako and Chitose eagerly awaiting to take notes? Asako donates a hefty sum as it includes her prayers for the girls’ health. Till Chitose asks her if she should be praying for marriage instead. Shut up! Mika shows off her kimono. Likewise Hinako her… Dragon outfit? Cosplay? No. That’s her New Year outfit! After the little ones leave, Asako forks out another hefty sum to buy a marriage charm.

Episode 24
Kashiwabara narrates his day in life working in the welfare department. The main highlight is of course energetic Chitose come crashing in. To a point where he becomes ‘famous’, got a new ‘position’ (to supervise Chitose) and a gender divide (women hate him while the lolicon men support him). As always, Asako would come barging in to reprimand and bring Chitose back. He narrates he did have a marriage interview with her but had to turn her down since he has no time to think about marriage now. He hopes she will find happiness. I think it’s because he witnessed her violence… Talking about Mika, despite being his sister’s daughter, she is living with him and acts like an old woman. Despite arguing on the phone with Hinako, he thinks they get along pretty well. That’s why he always prays that his days would be quieter. Not likely, buddy…

Episode 25
Asako agrees to the girls’ request to come to her home to make homemade chocolates. While Misaki and Mika are true learners, Chitose and Hinako fool around by trying to smash the chocolate with a hammer, melt it fast with a soldering tool, putting excessive adult taste in it and trying to make a chocolate sculpture! Mika and Misaki’s first attempt at putting on the icing didn’t go well but Asako encourages them. Their packaging also needs work and one could have mistaken Mika’s wrapping to be a football! Lastly, Chitose and Hinako reveal their giant chocolate statue of Kashiwabara! Asako pretends not to see this.

Episode 26
Valentine’s Day is here as Chitose rushes to give her chocolate to her beloved. She sees Mika on her way to give hers to. Seems there is a promise made that he will have to date whoever gives him chocolate first. And so the battle to outdo each other begins. Chitose uses Hinako (in a heart chocolate suit) as shield but Mika smashes her giant chocolate statue with her baseball bat! Both sides start throwing things till it destroys Misaki’s chocolate for daddy. Oh no… She turns into something scarier than a ghost, vampire, werewolf, zombie, Terminator, monsters all combined together! Oh sh*t! OMG!!! Horror scene! No way out! They thought they’re saved when Asako comes in but she was instantly knocked out!!! Now no one can save you! Don’t play play! She’s mad! Even the Hulk would tremble in fear! OMFG! Is that a beam coming out from her mouth????!!! Now, Chitose and Mika didn’t become chocolate since they’re all covered in brown. Rather, they got burnt to a crisp! Yikes! I think you know the lesson here. Yeah, even the signage got blown into half.

Loli Love
Short animes like these usually have the dilemma of being too short and thus nothing much happens. It felt something like that for this series but it probably wouldn’t have worked if it was the usual anime duration of 24 minutes. What else more can you do with this kind of genre and storyline? Therefore I think 3 minutes for each episode is just fine and since the plot isn’t something where you would really have to crack your brains over, it is more than sufficient.

It might be my fault for expecting more from this anime because at first I thought I was going to see in almost every episode Chitose trying to get his hands on Kashiwabara. However it doesn’t feel like that at all and most of the other episodes feature Chitose and the other characters in their antics and thus it makes this get-Kashiwabara goal like a secondary plot. Besides, we don’t see Chitose coming up with scheming plans to steal his heart. It is usually just her barging in and talking to him. Right in the middle of her class. I wonder how she does that. We don’t see any horny attempts to seduce her man so if you want fanservice, you’d be sorely disappointed. Whoever said this was a fanservice episode anyway? Unlike Kodomo No Jikan’s Rin, we don’t see Chitose harbouring any horny thoughts either. But she does fantasize a lot about him.

So for Chitose, her love for Kashiwabara may be real but it makes you wonder if it is just admiration because she addresses him as big brother. So can it be her love for him is of the brotherly type despite telling us she loves him romantically? Besides, isn’t it common for girls her age making promises to marry an older guy when they grow up? Even if that guy is their own father? Then when they grow up, many would have forgotten about it and for those who don’t, well, I guess that would be good material for anime stories to tell. Kashiwabara despite being Chitose’s main love interest (as well as Asako’s), doesn’t seem to make many appearance. I won’t say his appearances are all cameo but it feels like he is a side character. Then again, it could have been my expectations. So that nice guy is being patient since Chitose is also a kid. Would he have given a different treatment if she was a high school girl? Maybe then his colleagues won’t see it the same way and a different setting would have come to mind. With this bunch of noisy girls around him, is it any reason why he can’t find time to settle down quietly? He is already busy at work, he will be extra busy at home too. But thank goodness he is no lolicon. And to think Chitose keeps barging in, he would’ve developed some Chitose sensor along the way. Apparently not.

Since Asako also likes Kashiwabara, her shyness doesn’t seem to get her anywhere. There are only a handful of scenes whereby Asako and Chitose showdown with each other for Kashiwabara but even so that is nothing that I would consider extreme. Therefore the romance part in getting his affections feels secondary to the other antics. It feels like a running gag that Asako punishes Chitose with her cheek pinches. Chitose doesn’t learn and I suppose she should have developed some immunity the way she gets them pinched very often. Her cheeks should have been thick as a rhinoceros’ skin. I have a feeling Asako would be getting a heart bypass at an early age since Chitose is the main source of pissing her off on just about anything. I thought Mika would play an active rival since her appearance but it seems she is rather docile. Maybe after her ‘loss’ to Chitose, she doesn’t dare mess with her. Speaking of Kashiwabara’s love rivals, I think Chitose’s mom could be a potential too but come to think about it, I think she’s more of a flirt with any men she sees. Her countless love letters should be a hint. She could even be a man eater. Maybe that explains why Chitose got hots for Kashiwabara. It’s in their genes.

Hinako and Misaki as Chitose’s friends feel like slight distraction but also add to the overall fun. It is creepy enough that Misaki already has obsessive father complex but what makes her even scarier is if you break that love of hers. I don’t think no matter how hard you pray to God, you will not be helped and God bless your soul. As for Hinako, her expressionless face, voice and tendency to wear random and weird outfits reminds me of another character with similar traits. Doesn’t she look like Hiiragi from Hanamaru Kindergarten? There’s a very uncanny resemblance to that…

We all know the saying that love knows no barrier and that anybody from different race, nation, religion and age could even fall in love. Sure, it’s a wonderful thing but will society accept it? If Kashiwabara accepts Chitose’s love as genuine, he might be regarded as a lolicon and there would be serious consequences involving the law. Chitose can wait till she reaches the legal age of 16 but then again there is the risk of him being snatched away by Asako or some other woman. Five years seem like a long time for those who are eagerly waiting. And while they’re at it, there’s no harm in coming to see him every day at his office, right? Just don’t skip classes…

Is it a must feature that all flash based animation should last approximately 4 minutes or so? Is it something about the production costs that only allows them to make short animations? Oh heck, I was only speculating that last bit. But whatever the reason, Honto Ni Atta! Reibai Sensei (literally means “It Really Exists! Spirit Medium Teacher”) is one of the few flash based animes to be released over the internet like Haiyoru! Nyaruani and Double-J. I read the synopsis that wasn’t much and came to conclude that there was no harm in watching this series. After all, I would expect nonsensical randomness from such short series. 22 episodes x 4 minutes = 88 minutes, which is nearly one hour and a half hours of my time wasted if I chose to watch this. Hah. A big part of my life is ‘wasted’ on animes so this is no different. So to sum it up what this show is about, it’s about this school teacher who is into this occult thingy. She knows everything there is to know about the other world, the world of the dead and spirits but yet knows nothing about our own, the world of the living. Can you smell something funny happening here especially she’s a teacher to a bunch of equally weird students.

Episode 1
Akiko Yoshii is looking forward to her new school term as a middle school grader. She is also getting a new homeroom teacher, Juri Kibayashi. But the boys decide to play a nasty trick by locking the door with a broom. If that doesn’t work, she climbs in from the window and coming in like a ghost! Scared the spooks out of everyone! After introducing herself, Akiko asks her hobbies. First, Juri picks student seat number 4, Saito as demonstration. Then she chants a spell to call his ancestors. Look at all the spirits flying about! A spirit possesses Juri and is going to curse them all for awakening her by tearing them apart and eating their innards! Saito can’t believe his ancestors were that evil! As the spirit further describes how she’s going to make a meal out of them, Juri reverts back to normal and introduces some wonderful beef stew. WTF?! Probably too WTF till Eri Nitta passed out. Juri then says her hobby is communicating with the dead. Eri had just awoken and doesn’t feel too good so Juri casts as spell on her. Suddenly Eri becomes rude and dominating. Seems Juri has endowed Nobunaga’s spirit within her so that she won’t pass out! Oh, now ‘Nobunaga’ is torturing the boys! In that case, Juri puts another spell on Hinako Wakamiya and this time she turns into Mitsuhide! Soon the class is on fire and like a battlefield. It’s chaos! What a crazy way to start the new semester.

Episode 2
Looks like they have to start the term by rebuilding the classroom. But the class isn’t happy that the next period will be PE because of Juri, they have been doing PE all day long when she burnt the classroom down! However there is something more distressful going on. It seems someone has stolen the girls’ bloomers. But not every girl. Those ‘ugly’ ones were exempted. Juri sees no reason in why someone would steal them till she learns it could fetch a considerable price on the internet. So she decides to look for the culprit who stole the panties. Oops, she meant bloomers. First she has everyone close their eyes and warns them not to open them. Then she starts off with a fake spirit chant that scares Saito. So back to the real thing, she tells the culprit to raise his/her hand and promises she won’t do some paralyze thingy late at night and other haunting curses! Was she going to do all that?! Shortly, somebody’s hand is raised so Juri thanks that person for the honesty and will keep it a secret between them. But she is giving away hints about that person! Who has a big sister who graduated last year? When everyone is allowed to open their eyes, Juri says the culprit is a tengu. Do you think they will buy it? Later that evening with all the bloomers in her possession, Juri remembers Eri’s word about fetching a price over the internet. When Akiko comes in to get them, she is shocked to see Juri trying them on (so she could get a feel why it’s so special) and goes insane! Yeah, she was just a step from being reported to the police as a pervert. Well, all she got is interrogated by the faculty staff.

Episode 3
Scientific Nagara doesn’t Juri much and thinks there are tricks to her occult ways. She thinks her spirit summoning is due to dead bodies buried underneath the class! Since the physical examination is coming up, Nagara is confident that her elite class will never lose to Juri’s unscientific one (insert maniacal shrieky laughter here). Akiko tries to calm both teachers down as there is no need for hostility but it seems Juri got pissed off and accepts her challenge to settle things during that examination. The first round is the hearing test as Nagara boasts how her class spoke no more than 10 decibels during lessons. Plus, her students are given vitamins that improve their peripheral nervous system. Juri chants her spell and one of her students start hearing the voice of her deceased grandma!!! Round 2 has them in a vision test. Juri sends feral girl, Chinatsu Akagi to the battle front since she has 20/10 vision. However she starts crying as tears well up in her eyes and couldn’t see a damn thing because Nagara is reading a sad story. With both sides even, it now comes down to the final weight examination. Juri has lost interest and doesn’t want to go on so Nagara had to beg her to continue by giving her deep friend roll if she wins. Juri makes a u-turn decision. Sheesh… So the winner of this challenge will be the one whose weight is the heaviest! The more the better, right? Juri summons a pair of big demons (bigger than the school!) and won the contest! The scales broke… Yeah, Nagara pretend she didn’t see anything. Later as Juri chews on the fried roll, Nagara still things those demons are huge heavy costumes. Akiko thought they can settle this again next year but they’re not going to do it anymore since it’s too much effort. Akiko is appalled that they may actually get along well. In a weird way, they do think alike.

Episode 4
A cat named Kuroneko and other distressed cats are gathering to consult the great Cat King. This is Kuroneko’s first time so he hears about Cat King’s unfathomable strength and wisdom. Upon learning Cat King is black like him, he is ecstatic that even black cats can become king seeing black cats are frowned upon society as bad luck. Once Cat King arrives, Kuroneko is shocked to see her as human! It’s Juri! She’s the cat king?! But the other cats feel Kuroneko is being disrespectful. After all, they see Juri as a cat! Are they blind?! Or they too feel Cat King takes a different form other than a feline? So the cats take turns to tell her their troubles and she earnestly replies them. Well, all I can say is that her ‘consultation’ seems pretty normal, if not odd. Ignore them? Stare into space? When it’s Kuroneko’s turn, Juri notes how black he is, like an epitome of a curse! Shock! Worse, the other cats think she is praising him! Kuroneko starts crying because no matter what he’ll still be hated. Juri tells him there is nothing bad being black because that is what makes him unique. The moment he assumes that it is bad, it becomes bad. Don’t be pessimistic and just love yourself. Kuroneko is overwhelmed over her words. But when Juri starts saying his legs are short, plump, with eyes that looked like he ate a human, like as though he’s a cat goblin, he goes into a further shock. Yeah, splitting in half. The other cats applause over Cat King’s ultimate praise. Well, if you have learnt anything from Juri, don’t take it as an insult.

Episode 5
Juri introduces her class to a new transfer student, a blonde named Emma. However the way she talks seems to be like in those olden samurai days! Akiko even thought she summoned a spirit to possess her. Of course she did not! Then Emma and Chinatsu have a lively conversation of “Nice to meet you (insert ascending number here)!”. Akiko fears they may have another idiot. They ask about her hobbies and it seems she loves playing video games. Plus, she has every game console possible. Even the ones that will have things pop out of the screen. WTF?! Since she plays too much, her parents usually hide it and so she has to go searching for it. Akiko thought Motoko Mihoro was knowledgeable about games seeing she knows the games Emma plays. But it’s due to the fact she resells them. However Emma has a problem that’s bugging her every night. Each time she sleeps, she often feels paralyzed. Juri overheard their conversation and confirms through Emma’s spirit guardian (she has one?!) that Emma does indeed has sleep paralysis. Needing to stem this problem before it gets out of hand (leading to pain and stress, that is), she has her guardian spirits report to her if ever that happens and also Akiko will gladly help out. That night when Juri is playing cards with her spirits, she receives the sleep paralysis report and rushes her way to Emma’s room along with Akiko. In the dark room, they see her uncomfortable and mentioning her body can’t move. When Akiko turns on the light, they are shocked to see all the video game pads’ wire entangling her. So that’s why she’s paralyzed? No wonder they’re so pissed off. I guess she’s really an avid gamer. Yeah, she might be having a nice dream too…

Episode 6
Juri explains the supernatural being called Zashiki Warashi (child-like beings that reside in homes). Why? Because she has one as a new transfer student in her class! Oh no. More weirdoes. She is Kame and once lived in an inn. Unfortunately it burnt down and she was hungry and lonely till Juri picked her up. Hope Nagara and Vice Principal don’t find out. Whoops… Too late. They come into her class to reprimand her of whatever ruckus but couldn’t see Kame! Looks like only children can see her. Seeing nothing is wrong, they leave but with a warning they won’t let her off if she causes trouble next time. Kame took this as an insult and decides to ‘upgrade’ the school! Oh sh*t!!! Uhm… So what was upgraded? Well, the clock turned digital. Huh? Kame goes on an ‘upgrading spree’ other things in school. Whether or not useful, that depends. Portraits of Bach looking realistic? Science lab water faucet gushing out with full water force? Principal’s statue looks so macho? And yeah, Juri has one too. She became such a beautiful person! Not only she is polite but has discarded her occult fetish! Nagara and Vice Principal thought she was causing trouble again and barge in. However they are taken aback by her proper teaching manners but couldn’t recognize who the heck she is. Kame felt guilty that she caused trouble for everyone and decides to leave school with a heavy heart. As she leaves and the rest in tears over her departure, Akiko reads a magazine about Zashiki Warashi. They don’t remain in one place for a long time and is always on the move. But the place that loses them will experience horrendous tragedies, unfathomable damage and your father may even elope with a lover! Quick get her back!!! And so, Kame gets to study and stay with the class. Phew. Major disaster averted.

Episode 7
A bunch of alien cats, Captain, Tonto and Sagan are on their way to Earth. Only 61 days and 18 hours left. Though Captain was excited when they left their home planet (actually he was crying), he’s feeling bored because well, everywhere looks the same in space. Hoping something exciting will happen, suddenly a robot zooms pass them! Doesn’t it resemble Gundam? Displaying it on the monitor, Captain thinks this robot is more robot-like than he thought. So now what? Attack! But they don’t know if it’s friend or foe? Well then, surrender! What? Why? Okay, how about chase after it? But if they do so, they don’t have enough fuel to reach Earth. The robot inches closer and gives out a distress signal. Viewing the robot’s cockpit, they see a distressful jellyfish alien (let’s call him Jellyfish for convenience). Captain can’t believe this alien could make a humanoid robot. But they still have to help him. Meanwhile Juri’s class don’t believe about this alien story she just told. Well, it was from her dream this morning. Make that prophetic dream. There were the words “Prophetic Dream” on the top right corner of her dream that’s why she believes in it! Because Juri wanted to help them badly, she turned the entire day into self study and wants to return home to help the aliens. Seems Principal is an occult freak too and wants Juri to continue her story while Nagara dismisses that unscientific crap. Meanwhile, the cats hear out the Jellyfish’s story that he was supposed to attend his daughter’s big wedding day and was in danger of missing it due to his Economic Class Syndrome till the cats came along to help. He gets emotionally grateful and won’t forget their kindness. Back on Earth, Saito mentions since the alien’s problem has been solved, there is no need for her to return to communicate with them. Juri’s mood changes to an upset one as she tells the class to return to their seats because she is going to start her lesson.

Episode 8
Nagara is bloody pissed that Juri and her girls are using the chemistry lab for their nabe session. Japanese people’s way of socializing? If not for Nagara’s growling stomach, she would’ve shoo them away and not join them and let this tiny bit slide. Suddenly the lights go out. As explained, this is going to be a yami nabe and they must eat the first thing they pick out from the pot. The winner is the one who doesn’t give up. For the first round, the girls got sweet things, Emma gets a crab meat, Juri a horseshoe crab and Nagara a kokeshi doll!!! For the second round, the girls got a little nice slice of meat while Nagara got… Hinako’s handphone?! WTF?! How the hell did that phone got in there? And she got it for her birthday present?! Before the third round starts, Juri senses something amiss because Emma seems to be getting the good stuff. Though she denies, her secret is busted when Chinatsu gets hold and breaks her night vision goggles. The third round has the girls pick out mushrooms. Poisoned mushrooms from Mihoro. Stomach pain coming… Nagara wants to stop all this and get medical attention to them but Juri wants them to continue seeing that they’re the only ones left standing and wants them to settle this. Plus, the girls don’t want her to mind them and end the battle. Viewing them as making such a mature resolve, Nagara won’t let their efforts go to waste and accepts the challenge. At the end of the fourth round, Juri is knocked out because she bit something spicy while Nagara got half a pineapple. Flipping over the other side, there is a fruits carving that wishes her happy birthday. As revealed, this is just a setup for her surprise birthday since they know she wouldn’t accept a proper invitation. As they all wish Nagara happy birthday and Juri calling a truce today, Nagara informs them today today’s not her birthday. Oh man…

Episode 9
There’s this delinquent in class called Wanibuchi. He’s troubled. That’s because he likes Eri and is having trouble confessing to her. Please note Eri is still possessed by Nobunaga’s spirit. The next class is home economics cooking so he is resolved to tell her his true feelings. He has already taken care of all the obstacles for tomorrow’s class. Beating up a guy who is supposed to be paired with her? Yeah, take his place will ‘ya. Akiko and Hinako are worried about Eri because that scary Wanibuchi is in Eri’s group. But Akiko says not to worry because he won’t turn up for today’s cooking class. Speaking of the devil, there he is. Eat your words! Seems the plan is putting sweat in the cooking. When everyone tastes and finds it terrible, he will step in to eat everything and say how good it is. This will have Eri confess to him. Hey pal, you can stop daydreaming now. Juri once again takes the easy way out, telling her students to refer to the manual for their class. Some kind of teacher, eh? While the class are in a commotion, Wanibuchi takes this chance to start his plan but Chinatsu puts an entire tin of machine oil into the pot! The entire room is on fire! Wanibuchi panics but was told by Eri to complete their delicious stew together since that is what he promised. At first he couldn’t do it due to the flames but slowly he gets the determination to do it right now. Promising to complete this, Wanibuchi shouts out loud that he loves her. The class continues to be burnt to a crisp (again) while Eri gives out a maniacal laughter. Yeah, nobody thought of evacuating? In the aftermath, Eri confronts Wanibuchi about his love confession. She thought he loved the over-burnt charcoal stew. NOOO!!! Yeah, she wants him to eat it too. NNNNOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!

Episode 10
The cat aliens arrive at Earth and Captain notices its pathetic state. He thinks it should be run by higher beings like them (cue for maniacal laughter). They come into Kuroneko and are surprised there are cat beings like them on this planet. After introducing themselves from Planet Tuna-Mayo and their goal to invade Earth, seems Kuroneko tries to escape from this conversation. Captain wants him to bring them to his leader instead. To their shock, it is Juri the Cat King! A human as the king of cats? Kuroneko decides to play along with the other Earth cats to say these aliens are mad. Juri tears off Captain’s antenna and throws it away! Sagan and Tonto are appalled and think this is a sign of war but Captain (after retrieving his antenna) feels they must be calm and be diplomatic. Once again introducing themselves, their origins and their goal, Captain feels the humans aren’t fit to rule this planet that is blessed with sun rays and plentiful resources as they are exploiting it. However he will give the cats special treatment after enslaving the humans. Juri isn’t amused seeing the cats already have the freedom to do and eat what they want. The other Earth cats agree seeing cooperating would be very troublesome. Captain thinks they need to force them to cooperate when Juri again tears and throws away Captain’s antenna! His subordinates go after him and regroup. Captain reminds them that their motivation for this mission isn’t money or women but pride. Then they see an old lady giving free food to the nearby cats. Sagan and Tonto feel the cats have been totally brainwashed under the human’s control. But Captain couldn’t resist the temptation, throws away his antenna and goes join in the meal! WTF?! So where is the pride he was talking about?!

Episode 11
Hinako doesn’t really want to come to the Tanabata festival with her friends seeing she didn’t like the embarrassing yukata her mom bought. Juri and Nagara are at the festival stalls to keep a watch on the students but it seems Nagara will need to devote her time watching out for Juri who is really taken in by the festival’s spirit. They meet Saito and his friends as well as Chinatsu, Akiko and Hinako (forced to come). The guys are complimenting Hinako’s nice yukata but she thinks she’s being laughed at and runs away. Chinatsu goes after her. The guys fantasize about Mihoro in a mini yukata simply she has not enough materials to make it but to their dismay, she’s working at a stall instead. And getting paid for it. Nearby, they here Eri’s maniacal laughter because she is enjoying herself at the shooting gallery. She’s shooting the stall owner to see him dance instead of the target prizes!!! Chinatsu finds Hinako and scares her? Poor girl has had enough of it and runs away again. Meanwhile Juri and Nagara are at the Tanabata tree and see everyone’s wishes. Though unscientific, Nagara decides to write a wish just for fun. The teachers realize they both wrote the same wish for all their students to stay healthy. But soon that turns into disgust when they realize they share the same feelings. Oh, Hinako also wrote her wish. She hopes none of the wishes will come true! Oh dear.

Episode 12
Juri has her class listen up to something important. One day there were 4 guys who decided to do a kimodameshi (test of courage) at a haunted place and waited for 4 hours but nothing happened. They decided to go back but one of them mentioned something did happen. Apparently they could hear the rain the entire time when they’re supposed to be in a tunnel. Juri blows her top when there is no reaction from her students seeing this is supposed to be a scary story! Well, it’s the hot summer and she thought of telling a chilling ghost story to take away the heat. Saito decides to tell her how a real ghost story is done. One rainy day he forgot his umbrella, he decides to take a bus but spotted one waiting that wasn’t stated in the bus schedule. When he steps in, he realizes all the passengers are spirits of the dead! While the girls scream in fear, Juri is unmoved since she sees all those things every day. She throws down a challenge if they can scare her, she’ll let them skip doing summer homework. Thus begins an impromptu ghost story contest. In the middle of class. Mihoro starts off with a story of her neighbour who decided to her hometown during the Bon festival. After packing and leaving her apartment, she felt a chilling cold up her spine she never felt before. She hurried away and 2 weeks later when she return back to her apartment, she saw something terrifying: She left the air-cond on! Saito starts laughing but reprimands Mihoro she shouldn’t be telling jokes. But at least Chinatsu is scared by the ‘scary story’. Emma steps up for her turn.

Episode 13
Since Saito failed, he gets double the homework! Now it’s Emma’s turn for her scary story. Starting off with a couple of young pretty ladies at a prom (oh, the horrible drawing!), they talk about their pretty dresses and partying till they see a horrible girl wrapped in a horrible outfit. The story is cut off seeing Emma is taking too long with the intro story. Nagara comes in to chide the class for being a nuisance again. But once she learn if she can scare Juri so that she will stop whatever she’s doing, she takes up the challenge. She starts out with a good student with good grades who somehow ended up doing some unexplained mixed-up long-winded equation-cum-formula. How the heck is anybody supposed to understand that?! Suddenly the candles are blown up as Juri mentions their ghost story telling has attracted the spirits of the dead. Nagara rubbishes her claims as Hinako starts collapsing. The other kids start to feel nauseating. Juri offers to help but Nagara doesn’t want her to worsen the situation. Trying to find a scientific solution, she concludes it is carbon dioxide poisoning and opens all the windows. She tells the students about the pros of science and reasoning that the occult could never replace. However the students are still feeling sick and we see Juri exorcising the spirits. Nagara faints… Now do you believe? I guess occult is much scarier.

Episode 14
Akiko accidentally enters Nagara’s science lab instead of Juri’s room to seek an advice. However she can’t possibly tell Nagara that she wanted to ask Juri if her last life was a bug! Feeling guilty she started the conversation, Akiko decides to go with the flow and chat with her about their class lacking behind in studies (this is what Nagara thought she came here for). At the same time, Nagara can’t help about her instant noodles she is cooking and was about to eat. Both sides continue to ‘waste’ time talking on topics they probably wish the other will end soon. Akiko is going to miss her drama rerun and Nagara her perfect noodles. So when the conversation finally ended, Akiko’s rerun has already ended and Nagara’s noodle is absorbed in so much water. Mmm… Why does it taste good?

Episode 15
Kuroneko is wondering if he should eat the takoyaki and risk getting fat when suddenly a ugly starving cat, Maru comes up to him for food. Kuroneko learns Maru was once a pet cat but when his owner moved, she forgot all about him and was left behind to fend for himself.  A couple of girls are noting how ugly Maru is so much so that Kuroneko looks cuter. This has Kuroneko start feeling good all inside. I mean, an ugly person is put next to an uglier person, the former would look ‘better’, right? Because of this, Kuroneko takes Maru under his wing as he teaches him how to steal fish from the market. But since Maru is too weak, Kuroneko even shares his fish. But all this is just to make himself feel good. Kuroneko continues to take care and teach Maru the ways of their lives for several days. Then he realized Maru is fattened up, looking much better. The same couple of girls now comment how cute Maru is and that the black one ugly. Oh, it’s hurting inside. They even think of taking Maru back but Maru bares his fangs to scare them off! Maru didn’t want to go live with such owners seeing they insulted his master. Without Kuroneko, he would have never made it. He goes on singing praises about him and they were about to have an emotional hug when Maru’s filthy rich mistress comes looking for him. She regrets her actions and really wants him back. However Maru couldn’t abandon his master but Kuroneko tells him to just go because he’s a nuisance to him and that he is better off without him. Maru thinks his lies are always kind and takes up his words to return to his owner. However this is Kuroneko’s true feelings. Haha. Even cats have grudge.

Episode 16
Captain is adjusting to the nice life on Earth when Jellyfish returns to thank them because he made it to his daughter’s wedding. He feels the need to repay their kindness but why are Captain’s eyes looking like dollar signs?! Jellyfish knows their mission to conquer Earth and shows his name card that his line of work is Discount Conquering. He has lots of those Gundam robots lined up outside Earth and can vaporize the planet in 2 seconds! The cats panic but Jellyfish is eager to wipe out the humans so Captain and his team have an emergency meeting. It’s true that they initially wanted to conquer this planet but vaporizing it means they will no longer enjoy some of their favourite things. Sagan suggests all Captain has to do is refuse his offer. Nervous Captain goes back to Jellyfish and I guess he twisted his own words saying his subordinates don’t want to conquer this planet and to at least torture and tease the planet before conquering. Therefore they don’t need any assistance. Still, Jellyfish doesn’t feel right if he doesn’t help so he leaves a Gundam for them in case. Yeah, it will vaporize the planet in 7 seconds! Elsewhere Juri is explaining to her students about the weird dream she had about the Earth being vaporized. Of course they find it hard to believe. But the point of this as Juri points out is that people are unknowingly being saved and the giant robot that was left behind at Odaiba became a famous tourist attraction… Yeah, I find it hard to believe too.

Episode 17
A bank is being robbed and held hostage by a couple of robbers (We’ll call them Cowboy and Blondie for easier reference). Among the hostages include Juri, Saito, Principal and 3 sisters known as the Misfortune Sisters. Poverty? Bad Luck? Death? Oh sh*t! While waiting for the getaway car, the robbers want the hostages to stash the cash into the bag and it seems Principal agrees to help them out. As explained by Juri, due to the Stockholm Syndrome, when a person is together long enough with the baddies, he/she will sympathize with their cause. But it’s not even half an hour… Principal notes that the cash in the vault consists only of bonds from some poor kingdom which has gone bankrupt just a second ago. Poverty sister’s work? Yeah, Blondie’s wallet is also gone. Hey! The kingdom’s head looks like Steven Seagal?!  Because the robber accidentally got rough with Bad Luck sister, suddenly Principal and the robbers start looking like sick zombies! Now it’s Death sister’s cue. A sniper who can calculate the Earth’s rotation starts shooting at them! Plus, the TV news mentions an incoming meteor! It will slam into a certain bank. Oh sh*t! Time to evacuate? Blondie tells Cowboy that they should head to a beach down south if they make out of this safely.  The duo suddenly bust out wanting to be arrested. Wow. They’re crying, repenting and prostrating! Want to catch criminals like these next time? Just send in the trio of Misfortune Sisters!

Episode 18
Juri and her class are at the beach. But she is going to make the kids do a kimodameshi! They have to make their way through the spooky dark forest to the lighthouse and write their names in the notebook she left there. Since there is an odd number, Saito will be doing it alone! He pleads for Juri to come with him but she gives an excuse she is drunk and that he can take her familiar spirits with him instead! While the rest are freaked out by the real spirits, seems Eri is having the thrill of her life slicing those spirits with her sword. Can she really cut them? Along the way, Saito meets a pretty girl named Kanako as she agrees to accompany him. Kanako finds this fun as she has never played with friends her age. Mentioning she is always sick and that she just recently moved here. Meanwhile Juri is having game with her spirit when she receives a message about Saito. Saito and Kanako reach the lighthouse to see the beautiful sunrise. Kanako has a favour to ask from him. She wants him to be her friend. He agrees and in her happiness she gives him a seashell necklace as commemoration of their friendship. While Saito tries to find something to give her in return, Kanako vanishes as the sun rises! Oh sh*t! Don’t tell me! Juri rushes in only to learn Kanako is gone. She explains Kanako is a ghost. She was sick and came to a hospital at a cape but couldn’t recover in time and passed away. She wandered around trying to find a friend and since Saito befriended her, her soul is at peace and went to heaven. Saito couldn’t believe that because she had just made a friend but Juri says that’s all she needed and also knew well that she would fade out of this world by doing so. What the heck is this melodrama ending? Till we see Eri still enthusiastically slashing the spirits. Yeah, they all got done in by her. No mercy!

Episode 19
Tonto and Sagan are trying to come up with ways to defeat the Cat King in order to conquer Earth. But Captain seems to have found 5000 followers! Serious?! Why does he have a laptop?! This could only mean… Oh great. The ‘followers’ are more like cat lovers posting comments on the site! Why is Captain tweeting back?! Is he serious in conquering Earth?! However he seems to have found a weakness for Cat King: Squid. Tonto and Sagan think Captain is going to do something horribly cruel with the squid to torment Cat King however Captain is such a weak-hearted cat almost puking at their suggestions! So how? Seeing squids are humans’ popular food source, based on his internet search via Ggoole (it’s not a spelling error!), in olden times, if you give a squid to a cat, it will not be able to stand due to some toxin. But how will they cook it? Again based on Ggoole, they have to remove its cotton. Cotton? Squid has cotton? Captain tries his luck but got black ink squirted over his face! After struggling with the squid and managing to make several sumptuous squid dishes, Juri and the cats offer their thanks for the feast. They look like full and satisfied customers. So what went wrong? As narrated, the substance called Thiaminase which is toxic to cats becomes harmless when heated. On a side note, Captain’s followers increased to 10,000 supporters on his profile with comments to do his best for world domination. F*ck yeah! He loves it!

Episode 20
Juri, Chinatsu, Mihoro and third year delinquent student, Akira Yajima are on their way to Mt Cat. Akira has lost her cat, Romeo and was introduced by her childhood friend Mihoro to seek Juri’s help since she is into the occult. Since Romeo and Akira have been together since young, this could mean that Romeo is quite old and his sudden disappearance means he may be at Mt Cat, a place where cats gather, live, train and bath. But any human who becomes lost there will be possessed by cats in human form. Juri didn’t want to help out but with Akira forcing her to help (can you fight that delinquent stare?), I guess she has no choice. Juri wonders if Romeo has forgotten about her seeing cats who come here have abandoned their lives with humans. Akira has proof that Romeo is quite close. A picture that shows Romeo looking like a delinquent and scratching her?! Scars of love? Juri warns not to be fooled by the cats even if they seem polite and kind because it’s just a ruse to deceive them. But it’s epic fail from the start seeing the cat inn owner warmly welcomes them! The girls are invited to dip into the hotspring but were warned in time by Juri they must not or else they will be turned into a cat because the water is from a cursed spring. Then walking through the souvenir halls, they are tempted to eat the delicious snacks. But again Juri cautions them not to fall for the cats’ tricks and eat them as they too will transform into cats. Akira sees Romeo but he doesn’t recognize her. Did he really forget about her?

Episode 21
The cats think they are here to kidnap Romeo and attack them by splashing the cursed water. Romeo seems to be enjoying the fun splashing the water too!!! Mihoro and Chinatsu got splashed and a part of them turned into a cat. Juri got so pissed off that they want to turn them into cats so badly that she transforms into a cat and attacks them back. Romeo accidentally splashes on Akira but she didn’t turn into a cat. Seems it is just regular water. The cats are restrained and Romeo hasn’t forgotten who Akira is. But he tells her to go home instead. There is another reason Juri didn’t tell them why cats come here. That reason is to die. Romeo would be 80 years old if he is human and he didn’t want Akira to see him in such a miserable state. He tells her to get a new kitten but Akira tells him to screw it because there is nothing wrong of her taking care of him till he dies. She wants to be with him. Romeo notes how independent she has grown to be. Someone who was once a cry-baby. He laments they were born on the same day and raised together but can’t be together forever. He has a last wish for her: Let him say goodbye with a smile. Akira cries all the way on the train back home. Juri comforts her with a tale that there’s a legend that cats change their fur in heaven to return to their owners. Chinatsu instantly cries over that touching story!!! WTF?! Isn’t she overreacting?! Akira is confident she will get to see Romeo again.

Episode 22
Hinako for the first time is walking back with Mihoro and Chinatsu from their summer remedial class. Usually she never liked walking home with others. Chinatsu spots Kuroneko sleeping on the street (I thought it was dead!) and took the liberty to draw white outlines like as though it’s a murder scene! The trio stop by a shop to get ice cream but Chinatsu is disheartened her soda flavour has been sold out. She settles for the cola flavour instead while Mihoro shares her coffee flavour with Hinako. They continue their journey after having their fill. At the tracks, Hinako part ways with them since her home is in the other direction. Hinako wanted to say something more than just waving goodbye but couldn’t bring herself to say it. So a normal goodbye is good enough for her. Hinako meets Juri on her way. Juri notes how Hinako reminds her of herself during her younger days. She thinks they are pretty alike but Hinako doesn’t think so.

Honto Ni Hen! Yabai Sensei (It’s Really Weird! Oh No Teacher)
Eh? So it ends just like that? Well, I’m not saying it is a bad ending seeing the nature of this series which has no real plot whatsoever but I feel it could have ended on a better note. At least have all the characters in the final episode as a big final goodbye. But then again, that is my opinion and I shouldn’t have high hopes on flash based animes. Even if this anime is supposed to be about this teacher and her hobbies in the occult, it doesn’t seem to be that overwhelming. I mean, due to the random antics, you’d be trying to understand what is going on rather than be preoccupied with that premise. Yes, we have the subjects of spirits and ghosts touched in nearly every episode but as a break in this format, some episodes were pretty much focused on the cats and those aliens. I don’t see how they are related to Juri and her class besides as a variety and side distraction.

Each of the characters has their own peculiar habits that make them likeable (not to mention a weirdo). Like the sporty and cheerful Chinatsu whose emotion can instantly swing from happy to sad if you tell an arguably sad story (even if it wasn’t sad in the first place). Hinako is people shy, Emma the funny foreigner with penchant for video games while Mihoro is so darn poor that the things she do feels like a joke but nevertheless always smiling (albeit a little creepy). Doesn’t anybody get concerned seeing Eri has been possessed by the spirit of Nobunaga since the first episode?! So Wanibuchi still likes her even if she’s a different person? Maybe it’s the inside that counts. Yeah, good luck pal trying to get the warlord to fall in love with you. I thought Akiko would be the ‘main’ character but she was somehow ‘absent’ not in just the last or few couple of episodes. If I remember, the last episode she made her actual screen time appearance was in episode 16 whereby she went to talk to Nagara. Speaking of that science teacher, I feel she using her scientific approach is just an excuse to join in Juri and her class. She may not show it and it may not look like it but deep down I have this feeling that she really wants to be part of the fun. See how she’s always coming to Juri’s class whenever they make a ruckus? If she really wanted to tell them off, she really, really, really would have. Say, what happened to Kame? I thought with the class deciding not to let her go, I thought she would be a regular, if not making cameo appearances. But I guess she just made a one-off appearance only just like Maru, the Misfortune Sisters and those foreign bank robbers. The bunch of alien cats are a bunch of jokers. Invading Earth is such an easy job but due to Captain’s faint-hearted nature, I guess it is better for them to blend in as Earth’s cats and live off the kindness of kind humans, eh? They can add their names to the list of failed invaders like Ika Musume and Sgt Keroro. I wonder how Juri ended up as the Cat King too. Did she possess some cat spirit? Is she a reincarnation of a cat? It’s odd that every cat except Kuroneko and the alien cats see her as one. But I guess she has no qualms being one either.

As I found out, the seiyuus voice multiple characters for this series. At least 2 of them. For instance Kaoru Mizuhara (Gisen in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls) does the voice of Juri and Kuroneko. Maybe it saves cost? But seriously, I wasn’t paying attention the voice acting closely enough to really tell that they are voiced by the same person. But they did a good job in sounding like different characters. Others include Akiko and Nagara by Miyu Matsuki (Yoshinoya in Hidamari Sketch series), Chinatsu and Captain by Nozomi Sasaki (Nanami in Bokura Ga Ita), Eri and Kame by Emiri Katou (Kagami in Lucky Star), Emma and Tonto by Ayano Yamamoto (Nae Tennouji in Steins; Gate), Mihoro and Sagan by Ikumi Hayama (Matsuoka in Mitsudomoe), Hinako and Maru by Mai Fuchigami (Maekawa in Denpa Onna To Seishun Otoko), Wanibuchi and Romeo by Yuuki Ono (Pin in Kimi Ni Todoke) and Saito and Jellyfish by Shinya Takahashi (Masao Murasako in Shiki). The only seiyuu who voiced a single role is Ayana Taketatsu (Azusa in K-ON!) as Akira. Yeah, I can recognize that voice anywhere as long as she sounds tough or reprimanding. There are 3 ending pieces for this series and are all sung by Meaw. I don’t know, they just sound weird to me. The meow-ish Pair being the first one for the first half followed by the upbeat “lalala” Owakare Bayashi and the final casual dreamy Neko Kuronikuru lasting for a meagre 3 episodes!

Next time you have a teacher who can communicate with spirits and do exorcisms, make sure you don’t get her to be a medium to communicate with your dead ancestors. You might be finding out a thing or two about the skeleton closets in your family that you really don’t want to know. Would you like to be haunted by the ghost of your past so to speak? And if she is the kind who loves dancing, she would summon up the undead and zombies and do a Thriller dance ala Michael Jackson! Besides, what the heck is Juri doing as a teacher when she can open her own business as a spirit medium? She is so friendly with some of them and can even play a card game with them! By being a teacher, what is she trying to teach her students? Hell, is she even properly teaching her students? When you can see dead people at any time, I guess you can say that every day would be a ghostly affair. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.

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