Houkago Teibou Nisshi

November 27, 2020

Time for another season of cute girls doing cute things. What’s the theme for this season gonna be? Fishing. Wait. What? Say that again? Yes, fishing. You mean that boring, time wasting activity that old men do as pastime?! Hahaha! Don’t kill me. I suppose fishing isn’t one of the very exciting and trendy activities there is in the world and that’s why Houkago Teibou Nisshi is this season’s theme to help bring some enlightenment and awareness about the wonders of fishing! I think so. That’s why they use a bunch of cute high school girls as their main characters, right?! I mean, really. High school girls having such great enthusiasm in fishing? Sounds a like a fairytale… Okay, there may be such in the real world but I believe it’s rare.

Initially, I didn’t want to watch this series because you know, fishing. Boring. Yeah, you know me. High school slapstick ecchi romance harem comedy is always my style forever. So yeah, sorry fishing girls, gonna pass you up on this one. And then… The damn Corona virus hit. Lots of animes of the season got postponed. Oh well. Maybe this is fate. I’m fated to watch this series after all. And so I put it on my watch list. Only for this series too to get the postponed treatment after 3 episodes!!! Oh sh*t! You mean now I’ve got to play the waiting game just like fishing if I want to really finish the dozen episodes?! Oh man… Gotta be patient… It’s a fishing theme after all…

Episode 1
Hina Tsurugi just moved to the small seaside town. As she takes a stroll, she tries to enjoy the new environment. Too bad the sea bug had to freak her out. Later, she thought she saw somebody having stroke. She tries to rush to her aid but falls flat on her face. Turns out that Yuuki Kuroiwa is just preparing to fish and her line is all tangled up. As Hina is good in handicraft, she is able to untie it. Kuroiwa then invites her to try fishing. After a while, Hina pulls up an octopus. She is frozen in fear as the octopus is stuck on her leg. Kuroiwa gets this devilish idea. Please join her fishing club if she wants this octopus off her leg. Better make a decision quick before this turns into tentacle rape! And so Hina is forced to say yes. But it is too much for Hina to handle when Kuroiwa kills the octopus since she’s going to make sashimi out of it. She wakes up in the clubroom but once again faints when she sees her cooking the octopus. After the opening ceremony at Umino High School, Hina intends to reject the application but can’t bring herself to do it. Outside the clubroom, Natsumi Hodaka is glad to see Hina and hugs her. Who this girl?! Don’t remember her? Natsumi refreshes her memory during their childhood days. Yeah, she was way tanned those days. Hina is introduced to the other member, the taciturn Makoto Oono who is not only physically big but also big with those ‘twin peaks’. With Kuroiwa joining in, the Teibou girls introduce each other. Yes, the quartet just make up the entire fishing club. Hina finally gets the courage to decline the application. Kuroiwa is cool with it but please try fishing out once, okay? Hina may regret it since she said yes too soon. And so we see Hina’s official fishing debut. Being a noob at fishing, of course you’re going to hear her complain as she is taught how to mix the chum and bait as well as the stinky fish smell. But once she gets the hang of it, Hina looks like a natural in fishing out those small fish. And she catches a bunch of them. Then they fry and eat their catch. Yum. At the end of the day, Kuroiwa asks how it was. It was fun. And definitely we all know this has been the hook, line and sinker when Hina says she wants to stay here a little longer. Yeah. Welcome to Teibou. Hina might spoke too soon because that sea bug once again freaks her out. So she changed her mind and wants to quit?! Not so fast!

Episode 2
Hina’s mom is surprised Hina caught lots of fish. What about the handicrafts club she wanted to join? Oh well… It just happened. Whatever makes her happy. Even dad remembers during his time Teibou already existed. Probably the same time when the school was established. He remembers lots of weirdoes in it. Yeah, Hina can relate. We all know Hina isn’t the athletic type so she sucks during the physical tests. Then she realizes the clubroom is far away from the school and that she has to cycle quite a distance. The young ones enter the clubroom only to see Kuroiwa lazing around. What excuse of today’s physical tests she said? Before Hina starts to have disappointment over this club president, Kuroiwa gives Hina a few tangled reels to untangle. This is the club’s tradition for newbies to join. You bet Hina is all excited to do it. Also, Natsumi teaches her how to disassemble the reel so as to clean and maintain the inside. When Oono arrives, she puts a stop to Kuroiwa’s dastardly plans. There is no such tradition. Kuroiwa was just lazy and trying to use Hina to untangle her mess. To appease the situation, Kuroiwa gives Hina her own rod and reel. Wow. But sorry, none for you, Natsumi. Hina gets her first fishing lesson from Oono. She tries to cast but the hook ends up on Natsumi’s skirt! Is this your fishing cliché moment?! Because Oono’s technical terms explanation is confusing the hell out of the newbie, Kuroiwa explains and demonstrates it in an easier way. Yeah, shockingly she can sound this reliable. There seems to be some sort of conspiracy because each time Hina casts her line, it somehow finds its way to Natsumi! Does she have some sort of homing device?! Does Hina have a grudge on Natsumi?! It might sound silly but the seniors borrow a buoy, draw Natsumi’s face on it to make it Hina’s target. And what do you know? Hina can actually cast straight now! Unbelievable. Then they continue fishing until sunset. Natsumi thinks she has got a sea bass although it got away. The seniors think big fish might scare away Hina so to be considerate, they claim it might be a small fish. They return home and everyone is dead tired. Natsumi has the last laugh as she shows Hina a scary picture of a frilled shark instead of a flathead.

Episode 3
Hina does research on the flathead since the Teibou girls will be fishing for one tomorrow. They load up their trolley with all the necessary tools to head for the sandy beach as that is where the flatheads usually are instead of the rocky base where their clubroom is situated. There, Hina gets more lessons on the hooks as well as how to tie the line for her rod. Hina starts to get traumatized thinking if the flathead will be a big one. The rest assure to only worry about catching it first. And of course, with her weak physical, there’s no way she could catch a big one, right? Isn’t that assuring? So as they wait for the elusive flathead, it seems all Hina ever picks up are just seaweed and trash. Not making any headway, Kuroiwa gives her some advice on how to fish since fish aren’t as dumb as you think. So make the bait less lifeless and make it move in a more irregular way. Time for Hina to close her eyes and use her imagination to catch the flathead. All is going well and will she reel it in finally? Nope. Just another seaweed. Thank goodness she’s a bad loser so she’s not giving up. Oh Hina, you cursing the flathead? And then finally when a catch puts up a real struggle, it is confirmed that it is a flathead. Hina does all she can to reel it in. Could have fallen into the water had Oono not catch her. Is there a pun to this? Hina managed to reel the flathead in after it tires out from the struggle. Everyone praises her for a good catch but Hina starts crying because she was scared over the whole ordeal. Yeah, everyone probably so confused that they laugh it off. You guys, this is serious! But the ordeal isn’t over for Hina yet. Since she caught it, she must fillet it. Since she is too scared, Kuroiwa allows Oono to do it on her behalf. However she must kill it. Oh sh*t. Hurry up. Don’t prolong the fish’s suffering. Can this weakling do it? Or are they going to starve tonight? Well, we didn’t see how she do it but she did it. Because now they all have a great meal. Say your thanks to the great catch of the day! It’s all worth it when we see Hina’s pleasant face tasting the delicious fish. They thought of honouring her by giving her a flathead’s head soup. WTF this ugly mothef*cker?! Yeah, this only scares the sh*t out of her. Oh well. Enough trauma for today.

Episode 4
When Hina mentions she doesn’t have a hat or jacket, Kuroiwa shows off hers. Because it is such lame fashion, Hina won’t be caught dead in wearing one even if Kuroiwa wants to give it to her. So you bet the Teibou girls are going to accompany Hina to town to shop for a set. Wow. Such variety. Spoiled for choices. But they’re all too expensive! Welcome to the real world and capitalism! Then she spots a cute jacket that is just slightly cheaper. If she gets this, she won’t have enough for the hat. So the rest tell her to buy just the jacket and get the hat next time. On their way home as Hina thanks them for accompanying her, they then hand her a hat which Natsumi bought just for her. How nice. Until Natsumi mentions that she bought it in hopes Hina won’t leave the club! That sure ruined their mood. The seniors are smart enough to at least lie they truly meant it as Hina’s present. Natsumi dug her own grave… We see Kuroiwa explaining and showing Hina the bait and line needed to catch a squid. Natsumi demonstrates and she thought she got it on her first try. Turns out her line snapped. As they patiently fish the whole day, no squid turning up. But right before they head back, they spot one. The juniors try to bait it but apparently this squid is smart. Or they’re just not good enough to trick it into taking their bait. Hence Oono shows it to them how it’s done and voila! She’s got the squid. Be careful not to get too close or its ink will splatter all over. Oops, too late for Hina. But hey, didn’t the jacket served its purpose? Okay, okay, luckily it is washable. With the catch, the girls are going to have squid sashimi. But they have to kill it first, right? Yeah, thankfully it is Oono’s catch so she kills it. And such a delicious fresh squid sashimi they have. Mmm…

Episode 5
Hina is happy the stain on her jacket is finally washed off. With the low tide, Kuroiwa takes her girls to go catch some clams. Hey, not fishing but still technically part of fishing. Geddit? Natsumi tries to be funny and rub her hands all over Hina. Hence begins one of the slowest and weirdest chase through the mud. Suddenly they both get stuck. Kuroiwa won’t help them since they didn’t listen to her so she warns them to get out fast or else the tide comes back in and they have to call a helicopter to pull them out! Yikes! After lots of panic and falling into the mud, they somehow manage to get out. Hina realizes at first the mud felt yucky but she is now starting to like its feel. Hina then catches the biggest clam ever. This sure certifies her as a lucky fisher. Then as they head back to grill their catch, Kuroiwa hears a certain sound and has everyone pack things up and just bum around. Entering the clubroom is their advisor, Sayaka Kotani. She thinks the girls are hiding something and because Oono is a bad liar, eventually the clams she is hiding is busted. Now Sayaka wants to eat them. The juniors doesn’t see what’s wrong and invite her to join. Bad move. Because Sayaka now calls off work and gets her supplies of beers! Yes, she is obsessed with beer and is only here because she has no money and can get her snacks for free! Kuroiwa has the juniors take responsibility as they are forced to serve her. Damn, Sayaka so drunk. This is like a horror movie! Hope Hina doesn’t get traumatized and think of leaving the club… Oono finishes cooking them and in no time Sayaka eats them all! OMFG… True to her drunken demeanour, Sayaka starts crying and wants to kiss and marry?! Ah, I see. She’s still single… After she falls asleep, only then the Teibou girls get to eat what has remain of their catch. Hina has the honour to eat that giant clam of hers. However she stalls too long as Sayaka gets up and devours it in 1 big mouthful!!! OMFG… Then she leaves like as though this is her father’s house. Thanks for the free food. Hina close to tears. Let it go, girl. Hope she doesn’t get traumatized (again) and think of leaving the club (again).

Episode 6
Once again, Sayaka barges into the club to beg (demand is more like it) that she wants to eat horse mackerels. Yes, it’s that time again when she is broke and is not showing the slightest remorse that she needs to secure tonight’s dinner. After all that bugging, Kuroiwa relents but it seems Hina has that bad feeling since she is looking with her with those foxy eyes. First they head to Takohigeya to get the supplies. I think he is Natsumi’s grandpa or something since he knows her quite well. Once done, they head off fishing and they manage to get a great haul of around 300 of them. Of course here is the part that Hina dreads. She is going to have to gut them. Oono demonstrates and to a newbie, tearing out fish guts looks like a horror move. So in between screaming and freaking out, she better hurry if they want to eat those horse mackerels. More freaking out when Natsumi helps Hina’s hands to tear them! And then Hina psychos herself to make the fish look like stuffed handicraft dolls. Yeah. Just dismantle and take those parts out. Hey, she might look like an automated zombie but at least she is no longer freaking out. On another day, Hina’s parents plead to Hina to catch more horse mackerels for them since they’re hooked on it. More work for Hina but since they praise her a lot, I guess she’s going to prove it to them. She heads down to Takohigeya to get supplies herself before doing the fishing alone (she suddenly realizing how heavy the stuffs are. Better be thankful to Oono). To her shock, none of the fish take the bait. This happens a few more times until Natsumi calls her to find out she is fishing alone. In that instant, Natsumi arrives. Yeah, her house is just nearby. Got bored playing video games with her brother, eh? WHAT DO YOU MEAN FISHING > VIDEO GAMES???!!! Anyway, Natsumi could clearly tell Hina used the wrong and bigger hook size as well as a more rigid rod, the reason why she couldn’t catch any. Hina doubts Natsumi’s advice but when she tries it out, it works! Now you believe? Natsumi remains humble since Hina is an amateur. One day she’ll get better. But of course it’s good to have fun too. Hina returns home but is dead tired from dragging her haul.

Episode 7
Hina found a weird bait from her grandpa’s fishing toolbox. So she asks Oono about it and she happily explains all she knows that it is a special bait for rock fishing. Certain fish like scorpionfish love hanging out in the crevices of rocks and this is where this special bait comes in. You bet the Teibou girls are going rock fishing next. Since they have to do rock fishing at rocky places, safety first so please put on a life jacket. Hina is disheartened when she learns the usual bait is worms. WORMS! But thankfully they can used sliced squid today. Phew. Hina couldn’t catch any so Oono’s advice to catch at places where many often overlooked, especially gaps near the pier. Instantly she snags one! As she has trouble taking the bait off, Natsumi shows-cum-teases her in doing so. Need to hold the mouth. Here comes the usual trauma again. With Hina struggling, Natsumi relishes the priceless facial expressions she puts on. That’s one for the album. In the aftermath, the girls learn Oono is always wearing a life jacket because of an unfortunate incident whereby she accidentally fell into the sea. Luckily her dad saved her. Ever since, she is always wearing one but unfortunately because of that she can’t swim. On another day, Hina is suspicious of studying at Natsumi’s place but the latter is actually a smart girl so Hina is going to be under her guidance. At her place, Hina is surprised to see Natsumi in glasses. Looking smart, right? Natsumi’s mom is glad to see Hina, though Hina doesn’t remember her much. It’s that moment where all kids just feel their parents just want to embarrass them in front of their friends… The duo study, get some lunch and then return to more studying. Hina also shows Natsumi handicrafts she made from her fishing lessons. Quite creative. Then they watch a video of some guy fishing using yarn bait. It makes them interested to try it out.

Episode 8
With the rainy season, it’ll be dangerous to fish at sea. Natsumi and Hina are shocked to hear from Kuroiwa that they do have a clubroom inside the school compound. Turns out she was just trolling them and the ‘clubroom’ is actually just borrowing Sayaka’s infirmary. With some of their fishing gear here, the young ones are glad to hear that they will be going to fish for freshwater prawns. If you’re interested, they talk briefly about it and the kind of bait that is designed specifically to catch it. It’s payback time as Kuroiwa raids Sayaka’s fridge to take some food as bait for the prawns. Whine and b*tch all you want! But I guess they have to give her their share of catch later. First, they head to the store to get a fishing licence. Apparently certainly rivers are off limits. No casual fishing as it is observed by the fisherman’s union. So once they get that in order, it’s prawn catching time. Under the bridge, Hina is devastated as her bait gets easily broken. Kuroiwa shows her the tricks and ropes of this patient game. Hina returns to her fishing but the same thing happens over and over again. So this is what frustration feels like. Of course she doesn’t give up and with more advice from Kuroiwa, finally Hina nails it. Too bad she keeps bragging in-your-face to the prawn that it breaks loose from its bait. Next time don’t fool around. Now that Hina properly catches one, she has to touch it with her hands to put it in the box. Squishy… As the rain picks up, they call it a day as Kuroiwa calls Sayaka to come pick them up. Initially she refuses but after hearing they will share some prawns with her, she’ll be right there now! Though, they can’t eat it today and must at least wait till tomorrow so as the dirt within them is filtered out. Hina and Oono ‘host’ a cooking show with the prawns as the stars. Ironically it is Oono who is doing most of the cooking. I guess Hina still can’t stomach killing those prawns and cooking them alive! As they enjoy their food, Kuroiwa tries to get sneaky and get Sayaka to help sponsor yearly permits. However when she talks about getting beer too, she drops the subject and the girls quickly hope to finish their food and go home. Yeah, nothing comes good from a drunkard!

Episode 9
Today the school has CPR practice sessions. Hina sucks at it. But the next one is the swimming practice with their clothes on. This is the big one that Oono dreads. But don’t worry. Sayaka will guide the Teibou girls. She has the necessary skills to train them so don’t be afraid, especially you, Oono. Easier said than done. After having Kuroiwa demonstrate how to relax and float in the water with clothes, Oono is still a scaredy cat. Seeing her clinging on to Kuroiwa reminds me of Shaggy holding up Scooby Doo… Kuroiwa tries to convince her that her big busts are good floatation devices! But I don’t think that’s going to cut it. Even with a bottle float, Oono is still scared and almost crushes it. Sayaka then introduces some floatable belt. Basically if you drop into the water, like an airbag, it will pop up into a floatation device. Oono summons up her courage to jump into the water. The belt works. Too bad she had to jump ON Sayaka! KO! I think Oono’s fear of the water is reduced a little. The belt looks like fun so the rest put it on and jump in too. But again ON Sayaka?! Triple KO! However the Teibou girls will be paying dearly because Sayaka only had budget enough for just 1 tank and since the trio used it, better pay her back 3 times! Later as the girls fish by the pier, Hina being clumsy as usual drops her fish. A heron swoops nearby. Hina lost the stare down as the heron steals her catch. Oh, going to be rivals with the bird now? As explained, herons usually wait nearby humans to steal their catch. Then another clumsy move has Hina letting the same heron steal her catch again. Grrr! However upon closer look, she realizes the heron has several toes missing and somebody’s line is stuck on its other leg. Kuroiwa explains irresponsible fishing has led to many such birds becoming victims. With that, they all lost their mood to fish and head home while picking up trash. Hina searches online and is shocked to see the kind of stories on this. Yeah, it’s like looking at war time articles, eh? You bet she can’t sleep and is going to do something about it. In short, she needs the help of her Teibou girls to help catch the heron and get the line off. Yeah, just need to put her mind at ease. Kuroiwa already got the permit to catch wild birds and necessary equipment so they’re good to go. The rest hide nearby while Hina plays the bait. I don’t think the heron cares about her bad acting but it fell for the trick. The rest catch it as Hina quickly removes the line before releasing it. Happy ending. Next day, Hina’s rivalry with the heron resumes since the heron is back and has that anticipated look on its face that Hina might feed it something. Yeah, the bird is the smart one.

Episode 10
So… Hina is bored fishing the same fish? Wanna fish something different? Looks like Kuroiwa has an idea but look at that foxy looks in her eyes… You better be prepared, Hina. You asked for it. And so our girls try bobber fishing. Basically it is fishing without a reel and it is usually a very long rod and line. As usual, some basic lessons about it and since they only have 2 such rods, the seniors let the juniors gain some experience. Because of the variety of fish that Hina fished out, cue for Oono to give basic explanation about its species and its colours like the wrasse or sea bream. And the most ‘hated’ fish in such bobber fishing is the puffer fish because it has teeth sharp enough to snap your line and even when you catch it, it’s not like you have the expertise to take out its poison, right? At the end of the day when they seemingly didn’t catch anything, before Hina could pack up, Kuroiwa gives her a longer rod for her to cast it deeper at the bottom. Something bites Hina’s line and seeing how much she struggles and finally pulling it out, it is a big horse mackerel. Apparently Kuroiwa was waiting for this moment since it is the time when it usually comes out to feed. So waiting it the entire day has paid off. Heh. I would have just arrive at this hour and fish it out… In the aftermath, Oono has to carry Hina back to the clubroom since she got woozy from the tension of trying to put the fish out of the misery. Yeah, she snapped its neck and lots of blood oozed out. Hey, at least she didn’t faint. So it’s a big improvement. With their big haul of horse mackerels, they plan to make sashimi out of it. As usual, Oono and Hina guide us in doing so but of course, Oono doing most of the presentation and the part that needs to cut and clean out the guts still horrifies Hina. Oh dear. It’s her turn. Time to psycho herself… Ah damn, didn’t go well… Part of the plan is to dry the rest overnight so they can eat them tomorrow. Just when they talk about not letting Sayaka know about this, here she comes!!! BUSTED! OMFG! WHY YOU JINXED IT???!!! Looks like the taxwoman is here… Next day, you think the Teibou girls coming in early to get a head start is a good idea? Why, Sayaka too comes in early for she thinks they might get a jump on her!!! She’s going to get her share still! This time she has brought a box of drinks. Though, most of them are beer. Also, she created her own little smoker to smoke some meat. Wow. You mean Sayaka is a hunter?! I never would have guessed… Time to dig in and enjoy the sashimi.

Episode 11
Hina catches a spiney. Natsumi thinks she should throw it back since it is poisonous and it stinks. After doing so, it is much to Kuroiwa’s dismay. Of course, lesson time from Oono on how to remove its spines and the likes. After surviving that ‘horror cutting’ lessons, now you can see why this spiney isn’t as bad as you think. Yeah, don’t judge a fish by its scales! Back home when Hina’s parents made tempura for dinner like how they used to when grandpa was around, this makes Hina interested in wanting to catch some whiting. Telling this to her Teibou girls, they put up a strange reaction. Hina thinks it is time to be assertive here so when they bring her to Takohigeya to get the bait, now Hina is squirming in fear. Yeah, live ragworms as bait!!! HORROR!!! Eventually Takohigeya tells her there is an artificial bait for those who are afraid of real bugs. Next, Hina is tasked to pick up some gear but since she knows nuts, Takohigeya is ready to help. Explaining the whiting’s habitat and the kind of gear that one uses to catch it, Hina and the rest are ready to catch some whiting. As it lives in the shallow end of the beach, the girls can’t help play in the water until Oono remembers them about fishing. Hina is almost spook to death since the artificial bait almost looks like the real thing. Yeah. Realism. She manages to pass this stage and gets straight to fishing. All she needs to do now is wait for them to take the bait. But by the end of the day, she catches nothing! Hina gets depressed even more so when the rest managed to catch a big haul. This is serious. Hina really depressed and actually thinking of giving up fishing whiting! With the stares of the rest, cue for Kuroiwa to give her pep talk. It seems today’s lessons on how to catch whiting is only suitable for those using live bait. There must be a way for those using artificial ones, right? So back home, Hina uses the trusty ol’ Google to look up for answers. It’s a treasure trove. Now she’s so enlightened, she can’t wait till tomorrow to catch some whiting.

Episode 12
You bet she is so eager that she has already made preparations, leaving her Teibou mates just dumbfounded. Damn, she even talks to them on what she learnt from the internet! Well then, in that case you go catch first. And certainly eager beaver Hina casts her line while the rest watches. However despite getting lots of tugging, none take the bait. Because Hina has been so at it ever since, Natsumi has to stop her to take a break or she’ll pass out from the heat stroke. From Natsumi’s words, Hina somewhat gets a hint that there might be something different to what she’s doing compared to the video, that’s why the whiting aren’t biting. Something about the size of the whiting here are smaller so she adjusts her bait and before you know it, she catches her first whiting! Yatta! They have a good meal and nothing tastes more delicious than the fish you catch yourself. Kuroiwa is glad that Hina is able to have fun because figuring out the ropes oneself is all part and parcel of learning. After the midterm exams, Natsumi heads to Hina’s house as promise to make a mackerel plushie with her. Speaking of which, ever since Hina’s family moved back here, this is the first time Natsumi comes to visit? Yeah, Hina’s mom so happy to see her. In her room, Hina teaches her some handicraft work. Well… Not bad for a first timer. Barely. Natsumi wants to give this to Hina as thanks but obviously she wants Hina’s better made handicraft. Next day, Oono is impressed with the plushies and wants to learn how to make one too. Since when did Hina has a set of handicraft tools in the clubroom?! Kuroiwa sees this and although she’s not interested in making them, she thinks of selling them! Hey, got to think of ways to increase the club funds. Hina then tells them about the handicraft club she wanted to join. Well… She was shocked to see all of the members are guys! Hardcore! Damn, so out of place! So was it a good thing she joined Teibou?! So as the Teibou girls happily think of what to fish next, oh boy, here comes Sayaka complaining she has been left out. So she wants a plushie too, huh? And so our Teibou ladies continue to happily fish for the rest of the semester.

Good Things Come To Those Who Wait, But Better Things For Those Who Work For It
Good news: I didn’t fall asleep at all while watching this! Bad news: I didn’t learn nor remember a single fishing lesson right till the very end! It is quite expected for a series to ‘end’ this way. Not really an ending since life goes on as usual for them but what else could have happened? Too bad no new members joining the club so it saves the headache about the club’s existence for next year. Hence no need for some unwanted drama that is not related to fishing. You know, the emergency crisis of the club shutting down! Phew. Just nothing but mostly fishing all the way till the very end.

I don’t know if it’s a joke or sarcasm or actually the real thing because I read quite a few anime watchers calling this series the anime that saved the season and it’s in line to be up for the anime of the season award. Heh. Are they trolling us or are they really fishing enthusiasts disguising themselves as anime fans to prop up the score of this series and make more people believe that fishing is really a good thing? Either way, the storyline and plot are relatively simple and it is not something that one should rack your brains over. It is either relaxing or boring, depending on your stance on this fishing theme. After all, by reading the synopsis already, one would have a general idea on how this series would turn out. A group of happy girls fishing. That’s all. A couple of newbies joining the club for good measurement so that viewers who aren’t well versed in the fishing line can also have some explanation. That is all. What more do you want or expect?

Because of how calming and down to earth this series actually is, I suppose for older audiences like myself, one could have easily remembered another fishing themed anime that came out way back in 2012. So you older people out there remember about Tsuritama? Yeah. That was one weird show. Instead of having cute girls, we have, uhm, hot guys? Sort of. Even more bizarre, while fishing might be the main theme of the series, the series itself deals with a lot of aliens, the supernatural and conspiracies! Yeah, it was one really weird and messy show. It wasn’t a real fishing show, I guess. So with Houkago Teibou Nisshi, I guess this is officially the first real fishing series? Sort of. But yeah, like I said, it is more down to earth and relatable to Tsuritama anytime. No mysterious immediate danger from the ocean threatening to destroy the world!

Like I have also said, this series brings some exposure and enlightenment on the world of fishing. As I can see, there are some very basic lessons and tips on how to fish certain fish, the different types of gears from hooks, reels and baits to fish different types of fish. Because I am not a fishing enthusiast, what they said are all alien to me. Though, I’ll mostly be somewhat in ‘awe’ because, yeah, I didn’t know you need that kind of gear for this kind of fish. I thought one fishing line fits all! Uh huh. How ignorant of me. Nevertheless, if this series managed to get you hooked on the world of fishing, I’m sure there are other dedicated websites and magazines out there in the real world to further gauge your interests. So good for you. Now you can waste your time going fishing outdoors at the nearest beach or lake instead of watching anime indoors in the comfort of your room! You know me, I’ll still stick to the latter ;p. For more variety, at the end of every episode just before the end credits, the characters will recite a haiku regarding the etiquettes and tips about fishing. Remember to mind your fishing manners and responsibilities when you cast your line and even after!

Character wise, it is safe to say that the main characters have their own unique quirk and charm. They might not have a very deep history but at least they are likeable for a series like this. For instance the newbie Hina, she’s your typical newbie who is totally new in the line of fishing but also somehow possesses an uncanny talent for fishing. Her running joke is that despite her love for her new hobby, she is still afraid of some of the basic things that are necessary in fishing such as handling of those yucky baits as well as filleting a fish. It’s like a person who wants to be a surgeon but is scared of blood and cutting up. Yup, that’s Hina. Surgeon sturgeon Haha! Oops, sorry bad unrelated pun. So I suppose every human in this world isn’t perfect and has their own weaknesses. For Hina, it’s those squishy bugs and the part she needs to gut and clean the fish. Hey, you can’t taste the fruits of your success if you don’t work for it, right? At least from what I can see, Hina is getting better at handling this since she doesn’t faint and has found ways to bypass it. Though, she is still very much horrified by it all. Oh well. Be patient. One day you’ll definitely overcome it.

An advantage of Hina bringing home the catch, mom can save money on food and cook lots of delicious fish dishes! Of course from time to time we need to be reminded her of Hina’s original favourite pastime since she hasn’t totally discarded her handicraft hobby. Even so, her new works are all fishing based. Something she can fall back on if there are no fishing days due to bad water or something. The irony that the handicraft is filled with males while the fishing side has all girls. It’s such a topsy turvy world today where the stereotypic gender lines are blurred or erased rather. I can’t imagine the direction Hina’s life would have taken had she really joined the handicraft club. Maybe she’ll become the head honcho and turn those manly guys into effeminate trans! Thank goodness for fishing, eh?

Then there is Kuroiwa who looks like the biggest slacker of all. It feels like she is only in this club so that she could laze around and do nothing. Because you do notice that most of time that is what she does. Even when the club is out to fish, she’s just sitting on her lazy chair and lazing around. It’s like she’s just playing supervisor or something. However to give her credit, she actually knows her fishing stuffs well. My guess is that if she has to tell the young ones what to do, they’ll never learn. So letting them figure things out and only advising them when necessary, I guess it’s her style of leadership. Then there is Oono who is like a giant gentle. Thanks to her, Hina can get by most of the filleting. Her running joke is that she can’t swim despite loving an activity that involves being near a body of water. This is the same case like I mentioned about the surgeon who fears blood. Also, it’s like as though Oono is like a One Piece’s Devil Fruit eater. Heh. Her special ability is her fishing but she can’t swim in exchange. So I guess that takes care of the reason why she always wears a life jacket whenever she goes fishing. Other than visual variety of course. It’ll be boring to see the Teibou girls all wearing exactly the same uniform, no? Not forgetting Natsumi, can’t say much about her as her tomboyish nature has her love to tease Hina and see her squirm. Kuroiwa too but she’s more passive. Natsumi is bolder and more daring but she doesn’t have as much fishing luck as Hina.

Last but not least, Sayaka. Oh man, where do I start? In terms of character, she is even worse than Kuroiwa since she actually doesn’t hide the fact she likes to leech off the girls’ catch. No money? I guess saving is an alien term to her. I guess the club girls have to deal and put up with her because which other teacher would gladly be the club’s advisor? If only she could just slow down on her beer drinking fest but I suppose that won’t work on a hardcore beer lover. I believe Sayaka has her own merits too but all these obvious bad points cover them up and that’s why she’s never going to find anyone suitable to be married to. Oh damn. Another subtle running joke about single women like her, huh? So those in the fishing line or even hunting crazy guys not attracted to her? I guess it says a lot about her then.

I know fanservice isn’t the main ingredient in cute girls doing cute things genre and it still isn’t so in this series. But I can’t help feel that they try to troll us in some of the very few scenes like when Natsumi tries to pull down Hina’s pants when both were stuck in the mud. I suppose that was the most ‘exciting’ feel we’ll ever get to encounter other than the thrill of fishing. Will she pull down her pants or not?! Come on… COME ONE! Nope. Trolled us good. But it got our attention. And technically the pool episode… Just a lifesaving drill. I don’t know, anybody out there feeling the hots for Sayaka in her swimsuit? I know I didn’t… What’s this again about Oono’s boobs being a good floatation device? Trying to get our innocent giggles, huh? And who could forget Hina’s line hooking up Natsumi’s skirt the first time she tried to cast. Did that make us subconsciously hoping to expect more of such clichés in the future? Or maybe it’s just me…

Art and animation are pretty fine. This is after all a very calming and relaxing anime. You can enjoy the picturesque backdrop and sceneries if you find the fishing activity a bit boring. But yeah, the art and animation may be simplistic but it’s also quite nice to look at and sometimes a bit surrealism. Same for the character designs. Cute and plain. Hina looking like your typical wide eyed heroine, Kuroiwa the cool slacking vixen, Oono the taciturn bespectacled character and Natsumi like one of those tanned little brats like Love Hina’s Kaolla. For some odd reason, in rare cases when Sayaka opens her eyes, I can’t help think that she looks like that certain girl from High Score Girl… Characters like her better have her eyes closed because when they open them, you know some magical spirit will summon a demon to shatter the earth! Just kidding. You know sh*t will hit the fan when she opens her eyes. Not forgetting the fish and fishing tools that are supposed to be the star of this series. They are given the focus and detail too but you know me by now. Still can’t remember what a horse mackerel looks like…

For the voice acting, using relatively unknowns are the best for this kind of anime. Kanon Takao (Aku in Maou-sama Retry) helming Hina may sound a bit raw but it gives her character some sort of realism especially for a newbie who just got into fishing. The rest are Yuu Sasahara as Kuroiwa (Akari in Tonari No Kyuuketsuki-san), Satomi Akesaka as Oono (Esdeath in Akame Ga Kill) and Natsumi Kawaida as Natsumi (debut role). It’s nice that I could find veteran seiyuus I recognized here such as Ami Koshimizu as Sayaka and Shigeru Chiba as Takohigeya. The Teibou quartet sing both the opening and ending themes. While Sea Horizon as the opener sounds more like your typical lively anime pop, it is the ending theme that takes the cake. Tsuri No Sekai E is quite a catchy and funky jazzy piece with its cool bass lines and piano accompaniment. It makes you want to snap your fingers and shuffle your feet. Not necessarily get you into the mood of fishing but at least you can enjoy this song if you’re still not into all that fishing. There are also a lot of soft and fun BGMs peppered throughout the series for your calm and easy listening. And I think there is one with Celtic based. Cool.

Overall, this is one of those calming series that is on par with Aria The Animation and Amanchu. An easy simple pacing anime that is easy for anyone to enjoy even if you’re not a sliver into fishing (unless you’re hardcore corrupted and beyond saving). It has this healing effect to cleanse all that toxicity in your soul after watching crap animes. I might not understand the calm and relaxing feel of the real fishing but I do understand the ones I watch from this kind of series. I don’t think this series might get another season just like how many of the previous cute girls doing cute things never did. Just a passing fad. I would be surprise if they did, though. And just like my past records and history, after watching such a relaxing series, I’ll go back and fish out more toxic and weird crap to consume. This haiku perfectly sums up my sentiments…

Fishing such a bore,
Waiting feels like forever…
Give me fanservice.

Now you know why high school slapstick ecchi romance harem comedy is the hook, line and sinker for me! I’ll always fall for that bait anytime!

Kakushigoto

August 30, 2020

Everyone has secrets we want to hide from everybody else. That’s just typical of human nature. Also, many of us love watching porn. We only feel so because all the porn stars are not related or somebody we know. What happens if they are? What is the relation of porn and secrets, you ask?! Well, Kakushigoto is an anime about a father who writes an erotic manga. Not surprising. However it is a secret he wishes to hide forever from his only daughter and you can imagine the consequence if everybody knows you’re the daughter of an erotic manga, right? Now you know why there are some things that are best left hidden. Until it gets exposed of course…

Episode 1A
As narrated, Kakushi Goto is a mangaka. Not just an ordinary mangaka. Let’s say Balls Of Fury is a dirty one filled with adult content. And it’s quite popular. You see, when his daughter, Hime was shortly being born, the doctors and nurses instantly recognize him and are amazed of the slutty content he draws. Since that day, he vowed to hide this profession of his from his daughter. He fears she may be traumatized or start hating him. One way is that he goes to work dressed up nicely in a suit. But when he arrives at his workplace, he takes it all off and puts on casuals. He also warns his assistants, Aogu Shiji and Kakeru Keshi of this. Even Hime’s teacher, Ichiko Rokujou who is a big fan of his, goes all out to lie to other classmates to cover Goto’s job. Goto receives a call that he will get a new editor, Satsuki Tomaruin. He waits but he never arrives. Until his assistants point out he may have gone to his home. Goto rushes home and to his fear, sees him sitting in the living room with Hime. Worst, this guy is wearing a t-shirt of his work! So as Hime goes to make tea, Goto wants Tomaruin to do hand gestures to signal to Hime the kind of job he does. Unfortunately with all those weird signals, Hime gets the wrong idea. Not sure how she can figure that kind of gesture to be a piano teacher, but whatever. At least his mangaka job is still safe. That night, father and daughter talk as they note the word mushoku can both mean jobless and colourless. Hime looks on the positive side that if something is colourless, he can still put in some colours. Also, Hime knows words like CEO is because she has been watching the late night business channel. Time to make sure she goes to bed.

Episode 1B
Goto saves a cat from drowning. He refuses to give his name to the ecstatic crowd for fear he would be found out. Goto then learns Hime’s tanabata wish is for daddy to become somebody important. So he and his assistants brainstorms on how to do that. But assistant, Ami Kakei suggests doing some dark fantasy known as mango. Hence Goto sees the master of dark fantasy manga, Katsuhiro Fujita for ideas but since he is an idiot, he should’ve known better. Another assistant returns, Rasuna Sumita. She just returned from a reunion and people think she is hell of an important for being a mangaka assistant. So with Goto thinking he just needs to become famous, the obvious solution is for his secret to be out. That would 100% make him famous. Back to square one. Hime’s friends (Silvia Kobu, Riko Kitsuchi and Hina Tomi) want to get to the bottom of the cat saviour. As self-proclaimed loli detectives, they try to track his whereabouts. Since he was last seen over the hills, Hime says daddy told her there is some monster called Oshapi who lived there and it is off limits. They misinterpret it as some fancy people. As they head over there, I guess the tranny dude, Mario got offended for being called one. He chases them down so Goto sees this and throws his floatable at him. Silvia recognizes the floatable as the one the hero used to save the cat. Off they chase him. They end up in a strange dark place with strange people talking strange words. It’s just a famous coffee chain… Thinking such people’s weakness is manga (because there is no manga here?), they throw one in Goto’s face and run away. Although it’s one of Goto’s manga but hey, at least his identity is still safe. Later back home, daddy asks Hime why she wanted him to become important. She thought it would make him happy. Yes, he is happy but you what makes him the happiest? For Hime to grow up big and happy.

Episode 2A
When Keshi enters, he sees everyone trying to make gyoza! Aren’t they supposed to finish the manuscript with the deadline in 6 hours?! Too bad he got pressured to make them too. But fortunately, they managed to meet the deadline… Waste of time to save time? As Goto is free tomorrow, he can take Hime anywhere. However she tells him she has a class trip to the beach. I guess he was too busy to take notice she told him about a month ago. And hence Goto has his assistants go on a company trip. Actually he is worried for Hime so the dilapidated house they’re staying is just next to the beach Hime’s class is visiting. From time to time, he goes to check on her. He tells Ichiko about this but she gets the wrong idea that he finds her cute when what he meant was Hime. Fearing Hime will get bullied or be left behind, Goto buys the biggest beetle to let her catch and even calls some famous Indian curry guy over (because his son is his fan) to secretly make the curry she is making tastier. Then it hit the feels when some boys wonder if Hime learnt how to wash rice from her mom. Oh sh*t… But Hime just plays it cool. This has Goto asking Ichiko about Hime as she is sometimes spacing out. She thinks she might be choosing not to think too much about some things. When Goto returns to his assistants, they are all bored to death! He promises fun in the beach tomorrow. But then… It’s raining heavily! Oh no! Electricity goes out! No internet too! What to do?! So bored!!! Then they find pieces of empty sheets. Time to just draw! Because of that, Tomaruin finds their next submission to be very interesting.

Episode 2B
Every year, Goto conducts a drill in case Hime ever comes by. Yup, everyone hides and tries to act like some businessmen in an important meeting. When Goto takes Hime to the festivals, he has her wait a while first. Because he sees a stall selling bootleg items of his product! A character from one of his less famous manga, Tights In The Wind. He complains to Tomaruin to do something about it. He goes talk to the seller. He is mad he thought it was going to sell but none so far. Tomaruin tries to relay the good news but that’s not what Goto wants to hear. So Goto talks to the man himself. He’ll buy everything! Wow! But wait. There are more stalls selling more bootleg of his stuff. Hence he has to buy them all! And those sellers think they are so popular they are going to double production by next year! Yeah, Goto better have the money to buy them up twice!

Episode 2C
When the alarm sounds, it is not a drill but it could be that Hime is outside! So after everybody gets into position, turns out a couple of cops received reports that suspicious people entering here and they think there is some shady cult going on! They search around the area to find suspicious stuffs. But when they discover weapons (props as reference for their manga work), they start thinking they want to overthrow the government! They don’t’ believe he is a mangaka. The assistants start thinking that they may have been illegally assisting Goto in this and surrender! They also plead for Goto to do the same so that he could receive a lighter sentence. Do you not want to see Hime forever?! Oh sh*t! Better surrender! Only Rasuna points out a picture of him as a mangaka did the police apologize and go away. Yeah, it was a published photo of him in the nude! Back home, Goto now notices the yukata Hime was wearing at the festival. How sewn it for her? She thinks it is daddy. Apparently she found a closet containing many boxes labelled via age. Thankfully she only opened the box that is her current age (10). Hime is excited thinking daddy can sew anything. Can’t let his daughter down. I guess he starts taking sewing lessons from Mario…

Episode 2D
In this epilogue, we see Hime as a teen. She had found out what daddy draws for a living. She doesn’t blame him for not telling her. It was that she never tried to find out because she was afraid of finding it out. If she did, she can’t help think there are many other things she didn’t want to know. She opens the closet to see more boxes labelled via age.

Episode 3A
With some of his assistants having injury, Tomaruin finds Yuma Ato as temporary replacement. He is very efficient but Goto finds this troubling. Because before they know it, Ato goes on to make his own manga and debuts! Meanwhile Hime brings her friends home. Hina being the rich chick isn’t used seeing a single storey house. She wonders if Hime is poor. Oops, wrong word. When Goto comes home, he is shocked to see Hime trying to do some of the house chores rather than hiring a housekeeper like they always do. However she claims that they are poor and should save money! Goto almost gives himself away by saying that he makes more than a salaryman. But anyway, Hime wants to do some of the house chores herself. This has Goto freaking out about the concept of being poor when he isn’t. With Shiji still injured, Rasuna suggests using high-tech PC equipment to draw their manga. Goto agrees to use this method but he needs some time to get used to using a computer. Rasuna his teacher now? She also teaches him how with manga being so international, they can hire people from overseas to help. So this background scene they got someone from Indonesia to help… With Hime hurting her finger, Goto doesn’t want her to do anymore housework. Call the housekeeper. In exchange, she’ll ask the housekeeper to cook whatever she wants. So this strange this is because Nadila is from Indonesia… Hime gest permission from daddy to cook. It’ll be alright as long as Nadila is with her. Yeah, the recipe just got modified…

Episode 3B
Goto runs with Hime so as to prepare for her sports day. Realizing he is out of shape, he thinks he needs to exercise more just to hide his job from his daughter. Because mangaka do not have stamina, right? Apparently there are many other jobs that don’t require stamina but… When Goto comes home, there is a high school girl in his living room, Naru Senda. Thinking she is his fan, he signs an autograph for her. However it is not what she wants. In fact, she claims Hime is her fan. You see, she is an idol wannabe but others don’t think she can make it. Only Hime praised her while singing at the park. Goto is interested to hear more since his next work involves idols and he is stuck. Hence Naru feels very appreciated that he hears out her story. Goto tries to learn cooking for Hime’s sports day. So his instructor, You Shiokishi thinks he is trying to hit on her because of his romantic fatherly lines. It’s the same for Kumi Joro whom Goto bought flowers from. And then Ichiko gets the wrong idea because Goto asks her if Hime should need a mom. She definitely thinks this is a proposal. She gets embarrassed and runs away. Need time to think, huh? During the sports day, Goto doesn’t mind Shiokishi and Joro cheering alongside him for Hime. However both women are in dead serious competition to woo Goto! Not that he could obviously see, though. But the angriest one is Ichiko. She thought she played him by bringing these young women. Back home, Hime wonders why daddy brought all those people. He thought the more the merrier but apparently Hime hints that she too wanted to spend some quality time alone with him.

Episode 4A
We see a teen Hime rummaging through the numbered boxes. She notes that there are more of them in this place back home. She was told mom labelled and put stuff in to commemorate her age but they didn’t so it was confusing to her. But they were all precious to her because it made her feel that mom was around.

Episode 4B
So is Goto’s real name Kazushi? Well, that’s actually his fake real name. Huh? Making the mistake of using his real name instead of a penname, he came up with this name for public purposes. So he warns his assistants to think carefully about getting a penname. Apparently Kakei has one and she isn’t telling! Goto sees Hime doing some fortune telling based on the strokes of one’s name. Doing the same for Goto, it seems he has the best of all luck. Unless he is in an artistic job like mangaka… Asking for the Kazushi one, it sounds lonely… Later Goto talks to Ichiko about Hime’s name. She finds it easy and nice to remember unlike others who are hard to pronounce. You know how mad the parents will get when you mispronounce them, right? Also, there are kids named after fictitious characters so Goto won’t let that happen. Then he hears someone calling her kid named after one of his characters. Turns out to be her dog… Goto agrees with Tomaruin that he can get a penname now. So when Tomaruin presents this idea to his boss, he of course rejects it. That is only for those who haven’t debut. Doing so now means ruining the brand name, etc. Then they ask if there is a shady fortune teller around. Because of that, many brainwashed mangaka want to change name and eventually drop their job to worship some new god. Tomaruin goes to Goto’s home just to check and what does he see? Hime and Nadila praying?! Apparently Nadila is teaching Hime this is how they do fortune telling back in her homeland. You summon the spirits! So they think Tomaruin is the summoned spirit. Yeah, looks like that CEO dude back in the first episode! But Tomaruin is smitten with Nadila. He goes back to report nothing suspicious. Also, he wants to change his name to CEO! His boss thinks he definitely got brainwashed. Hime tells daddy about the ‘spirit’ she saw today. Though, Nadila seemed disappointed. But she told Hime not to worry because a powerful guardian spirit is watching over them. Goto understands what she meant and although he doesn’t believe in ghosts, he’ll make this an exception.

Episode 4C
Hime wonders if daddy is bad in drawing because she never seen him so. You don’t say… Apparently she has this sketching assignment. Goto’s assistants remind him that he is bad in sketching sceneries. At least his identity won’t get busted, right? Goto isn’t satisfied with that and draws a better one! Then Keshi wonders if he will colour it. Why? Because he notices his manga never had colour before. Another can of worms opened! Now he wants to colour! Please don’t! Because of his pride to earn Hime’s respect, he decides to take an art class. To his surprise, Naru is the teacher?! She thinks he is here just to secretly see her. Hope she will keep this a secret. The art class, not that they’re dating… So turns out his sketches look so manga-like. As he leaves, he bumps into Ichiko who thinks he is conducting art classes. Then it hit Goto. What if Hime gets her sketch disqualified because Ichiko thought he drew for her when she actually drew it herself? Oh no. So he has a favour to ask of her. Please come with him to the zoo this weekend. She’s up to anything that sounds like a date. So we see Goto bringing Hime to the zoo to sketch an animal. Can’t pick one? How about the tiger? It seems Ichiko’s job is to watch them as this is proof that Goto didn’t draw for her. So much about the date. Then Silvia and Hina are here. Ichiko tries to hide what she is doing but this leaves the lolis the wrong impression her boyfriend died and she got so heartbroken and is dating by herself. They promise to behave better! In the end, the tiger never came out so Goto says to use their imagination. Goto’s tiger so manga-like… But Hime drew a picture of them from the tiger’s perspective. Goto then uses this new tactic for his manga. His assistants are impressed except for Rasuna. It looks more like some low budget film… Hime frames up that picture and Goto feels he has seen it somewhere before. Oh, that’s right. His late wife with new-born Hime visited the zoo and at this spot, they took a picture of themselves. Hence he wonders if Hime’s drawing was from the perspective of his late wife.

Episode 5A
Tomaruin requests Goto to be a judge for some newcomer award. He refuses. But at home when he learns Hime is doing her duty because if she doesn’t, everything else crumbles, Goto gladly takes on the job! Keshi shows Goto his manga but Goto finds it hard to understand since the introductory is too long. So he advises if readers can’t grasp it all in a minute of holding their breath, they won’t bother. So how does Keshi improve? By improving holding his breath! He missed to point… Tomaruin sends boxes of manuscripts to Goto’s house. Goto is mad since Hime might find out. Turns out a box just contains a manuscript. Next time Tomaruin sends, it is to his office. Couldn’t he just send a PDF file? Tomaruin complains he can’t do too many things at once! Goto gives serious comments in his judging. Tomaruin thinks of livening things up and adds LOL at the end of each comment. Thanks to that, everyone thinks he isn’t taking this seriously. Tomaruin isn’t fazed and tries to divert the blame. He also views himself of having a job he doesn’t want. It is revealed nobody wanted to be Goto’s editor and Tomaruin got the short end of the stick for that job. Back home, Goto tells Hime that his most important duty has been raising her well. And that there are still a lot of new things he is learning as of now.

Episode 5B
Goto finishes early and buys Hime’s favourite candy. Something she is reluctant but gladly accepts. Then a call from Tomaruin. Looks like there is trouble during the proofreading department and his work can’t be approved. So he needs to redo the last few pages by 5am as that is the limit the printers will wait. After all, the manga industry is in decline and such printing isn’t the priority of the printing company. What is then? That candy snack box! As a hotel is prepared for Goto to stay and finish, he is worried about leaving Hime alone since Nadila will be only there by 6pm. Tomaruin assures he will look after her! He meant Nadila?! So as Goto’s assistants slowly stream in to help finish the manga (no, this is not a bathrobe party!), Tomaruin is seen stalking outside Goto’s house. Nadila leaves and this bastard tails Nadila! Then Naru drops in and wants to stay. Apparently she got into a fight with her parents and ran away from home. Learning Hime is home alone, all the more reason to stay. Goto calls Nadila if she could stay longer but she apologizes as she has her next client to go to. Just after that, the next client calls to cancel. So she goes back to Hime. At this point, Hime thought someone is looking at them (Tomaruin) so Naru thinks it’s a stalker. That jerk even left a weirdly packaged present. Nadila thinks it’s a bomb! Ichiko catches a suspicious Tomaruin but he claims he knows the family. She asks the girls if they know this guy. This stalker? This CEO? This spirit? Multi-talented genius my foot! Goto finishes in time and heads home after all the other guests have left. He is worried seeing Hime not having enough sleep. Hime then shows him some can of toys she wanted that she got from all the candies she got that she submitted. So she hopes he won’t have to buy anymore for her. Yeah, she just had those guests finish them. But Goto thinks she loves it and must buy more for her! Later Hime gives daddy a gold medal she made in class. Here’s to the best dad! Aww!!! So touching! But Goto can’t help think she will one day grow up and fall in love with another guy. Then he’ll be relegated to a silver medal. So he writes the date so he won’t forget he won this gold medal today. So if he ever gets a silver, he can still bear with it. On second thought, he wants to always win her gold medal!

Episode 5C
Continuing this epilogue where a teen Hime finds those numbered boxes that mom supposedly left for her, she recognizes the handwriting belonging to daddy and this means he was the one who left her the rest of the boxes.

Episode 6A
Naoto Date sends Hime a backpack. It seems he does so every year and they have a cupboard full of it! So who is this dude? Well, Goto won’t tell us for now. But to him, this guy is a stranger. He finds it wrong for a stranger to do so because giving a child a backpack is a privilege and not an obligation. Because Rasuna makes similar comparisons of privilege to the manga industry, this inspires Goto. Yup, working is privilege! So let’s work harder, everybody! Yeah, everyone so brainwashed. Now that Goto has become a workaholic, he accepts job requests. So much so he doesn’t know how he accepted this autograph session that clashes with his outing with Hime on Sunday! Can’t cancel it. It’s all over the internet. Later Goto meets this Naoto dude and wants him to stop sending her backpacks. It seems Goto is still holding some sort of grudge so Naoto asks him if Hime came back with a man whom she wants to marry and that man is the author of Balls of Fury, would he allow it? Goto vehemently objects. Case in point. Sunday’s plan work out for Goto. As he will be taking Hime to Kidzania, adults aren’t allowed in this kids’ theme park so during that time he can attend the autograph session which is in the same building. Goto gets cold feet seeing a long queue. Too bad it’s an autograph session for a local mascot. With nobody in line, he thinks there will be hired people just to attend this pitiful session! Well, the first one to show up is Ichiko! Always his #1 fan. As for the other people, Goto thinks they are paid to do this. Although he asks them questions about their job, he keeps thinking it is related to this paid stint. Some of his fears allayed as he receives fan mails. The session continues. Is it me or are there lots of young kids as his fans? Then there is a father and son who love his work and they’re proud of being his fans! But Goto still can’t bring himself to reveal the truth. Suddenly his worst nightmare! Hime is here! Ichiko quickly switches with him on pretence that this is adult’s version of Kidzania. Fortunately or not, Hime doesn’t recognize daddy in this casual getup and goes look for him. Safe… Back home, Hime has got a present for daddy after using Kidzania’s currency to get him one. But she knows this doesn’t compare to the cost of the theme park’s entrance fee. This has Goto wonder how long he can do his mangaka job.

Episode 6B
The epilogue continues with Hime opening a box and finding manga manuscripts. She finds it boring. Very boring. It’s just about a daily life of a father, mother and daughter. But it is this mundane life that she always dreamt of.

Episode 7A
Hime wants a dog and has also memorized its Ten Commandments. Because of that, Goto’s assistants are also happy. As Hime will be in school, Goto will have no choice but to bring the dog to work, right? Then they draw parallels about taking care of a dog as well as a life of a mangaka. I guess you’ve got to take care of them till the end. Later Goto learns that Ichiko also has a dog and it has gotten her through tough times. This has Goto thinking that because Hime has no siblings, she might be lonely. Meanwhile the little detectives heard rumours of Ichiko seeing a guy. She she’s starting to settle down? Well, they think she is being duped! Time to investigate! Goto realizes the danger when others approach those walking their dogs. He fears he will be recognized. Oh well, here comes the little detectives! Thankfully their eyes are all on Ichiko’s dog so Goto is able to safely escape. Heck, they didn’t even know he was there. Looks like Hime is jumping the gun of trying to train herself using a leash. Even Goto’s assistants have bought a dog cage! Too bad Goto had to disappoint them that the dogs up for adaptation are all taken. Sadness! We’ve been betrayed! Goto relays the sad news to Hime but she seems okay with it. She heard old wives talk how no one will be there to take care of pets so she thinks it will be unfair to neglect theirs. Goto then decides he can prove that. He rushes out to find a dog but here comes Naoto to give him a dog. Meanwhile Keshi finds a great painting of Hime and a dog in the storeroom and hangs it up in office. Hime is happy when daddy comes home with a dog. Now she wants to sleep with it? How many more years can a fully grown man sleep with his loli daughter? Oh well. Can’t let the dog sleep together too or daddy will squash it. Oh well. But next morning as Goto wakes up, Hime slept close to him. Still daddy’s girl. When Goto goes to work and sees the painting, he reveals that this is not Hime but her mom during her younger days and this painting was done by her father. Also, the dog in the picture is the ancestor of this one. Fourth generation, huh?

Episode 7B
There’s a discussion how assistants how draw long enough with their mentors, their art starts to imitate them. When Goto returns home, looks like Naoto has given a grand piano gift! Apparently this comes with the dog and he wants Goto to find Hime a great piano teacher. Back to work, there is a newcomer who seems to be using the same art style as Goto. He is flattered at first but soon it is used often. Later talking to Ichiko on this subject, she mentions it is more of owners taking after their pets rather than their pets taking after their owners. Hence Goto wonders if the same can be said for Hime. Later Tomaruin with news that the editors have actually requested to make the newcomers’ art look like Goto’s. However not this Goto but another more famous Goto. Since they didn’t have time to redraw it, they just went with it. Yeah, it became a hit with fujoshi fans. Goto then tries to imitate this style, giving excuse if the pupil outshines the master, then the master will copy the pupil! As for Goto’s request in finding him a new assistant, Tomaruin asked around but no one wants to be Goto’s assistant. Aside drawing dirty manga, there is this conception that no one will debut under him! Hence Goto wants his assistants to debut in 6 months! But then again, wait till he finds a capable assistant before they debut! Hime taking piano lessons from Mario? Holy cow! What’s this death metal song???!!! No way! Better really start searching for a good mentor.

Episode 7C
The epilogue continues with Hime’s friends continued to worry about her now that she has discovered the truth. They are also shocked to see Ichiko. It’s kinda weird to see her in long hair and in a dress other than a jersey! However she brings good and bad news.

Episode 8A
Goto wants Hime to give doggie a name. Though she gives it a temporary name, he wants her to give it a proper one because it means they’ll be like a real family. Lost at first, only when she misinterpreted words from the receptionist, she decided to call it Roku. She is happy with it as it sounds good. This has Goto remember how Hime was named by the family’s head. Back at work, Goto notes how drafts look better than the polished one. Can’t surpass the initial vision? So Tomaruin suggests publishing the drafts. Good idea! Of course it got rejected. Goto then notices the painting still not returned yet. He decides to do it himself. After putting back in the storeroom, he finds another painting. It is one that has Goto, his wife and Hime eating together at the table. He almost goes crazy of wanting to surpass this initial vision and almost killed himself?! Hime brings a classmate home to see Roku. Kayo Aiga views Hime as her saviour because as a new transfer student, nobody talked to her until Hime did. Thanks to her, she now has some confidence.

Episode 8B
Hime has no school today because of its founding day. Goto regretting he wants to spend the day with her but has work. With a certain manga celebrating its anniversary, it seems that only now everyone realizes Tights In The Wind has reached its 100th chapter. Goto tries to hint of some anniversary promotion to Tomaruin but he just couldn’t get it. Besides, even when pointed out, he was never interested to begin with. Goto returns home and it looks like Hime is hiding something? Could it be a love letter?! Well, she’s at that age already… Oh my. How is papa going to fare? So the next day he tails her and finds out that she is meeting a girl and declining her birthday invitation (because daddy told her to say no?!). Later they talk about this and Hime also partly wanted to decline because had she accepted, she had to invite her to her own birthday party. That means more work for daddy. But daddy tells her that is precisely the reason why they need to do it. They have to celebrate things when they can. So next year she can invite her friends and he’ll throw her a big birthday bash. Goto tries to take more cooking classes from Shiokishi but it seems males cannot be accepted anymore due to cases of them trying to flirt with the teachers. But she can give him a private lesson… Hime accepts the birthday invitation and then invites all her friends to her birthday. When she comes home, she sees daddy with Shiokishi. Is that the look of confusion? Later Hime hints that she still wants to celebrate a birthday party with just daddy. Don’t worry. Daddy has his own birthday too, right? Oh, Roku too.

Episode 8C
The epilogue shows Hime noting this house looks exactly like the one they used to live in. She realizes was meant to be for her and her parents to live together. We also see Rasuna talking to Tomaruin briefly why Goto worked in such a roundabout fashion. Something that he wanted to forget and drawing in the countryside might draw attention. Because of the memories in this house, it is a reason why he built an exact same one in Nakameguro.

Episode 9
Goto’s assistants are motivated to work hard as they look forward to the year end party hosted by their company. Goto is reluctant to go until they keep bugging him. Okay, okay. We’ll go. But when Goto talks to Tomaruin about it, he says there will be no such lavish hotel party and it will just be an izakaya and karaoke. Save cost. Bummer. Seeing his assistants are so hyped, Goto can’t bring himself to tell them. Then they talk about lots of people having sensei as their titles. Some even to a point that it is a mockery. So a virtuoso is the next highest title? When Tomaruin lets out the truth, you bet Goto’s assistants ‘died’. Yeah, office looks like hell. However Rasuna thinks they still can go to such party but it is hosted by another manga company. Goto is reluctant because it was his old company and many of those he knew has transferred out. But Rasuna reasons that he can bring Hime along without her finding out his true job. Okay. Let’s go to this one then! As both parties are on the same day, Tomaruin is forced to bring somebody since Goto hasn’t showed up. Goto tells Hime about this party and would have her come with Nadila. Later Tomaruin passes an invitation to Nadila and didn’t explain further, assuming she already knows about it.

So on the party day, you bet Hime and Nadila turn up at the karaoke. Yeah, Tomaruin drunk. He calls Goto. He runs over to get Hime! Luckily Tomaruin is drunk so Goto’s mangaka identity is protected. Yeah, he’s no sensei but a virtuoso. Now they’re in the real hotel party, because Tomaruin is dangerously here to try and make a name for himself, he might risk editors of this company coming for his neck thinking he would steal their talent. Anyway, he learns from Goto’s assistants how mangaka and editors are dressed. Based on this, so the first person he gives his name card to is… Hime?! Oh sh*t! Goto the bodyguard takes him away for a good scolding. As Hime has already picked up his name card, luckily she thinks he is scouting her as a model of a magazine. Apparently she has other name cards too. Goto realizes he might have put Hime in danger. There are scouts of talent agencies here as well and mangaka are most likely lolicons! As he tries to get her out, news have already spread that a spy is here. Get this Tomaruin dude! All exits are blocked. Hence they dress Tomaruin as a frumpy mangaka for his getaway. Goto is then caught. Because of Tomaruin’s name card from Hime, people mistakes Goto as Tomaruin. Worse, his suit makes nobody believe he is a mangaka. OMG. They rip his clothes?! Until an old editor recognizes Goto. Everyone apologizes and they’ll reimburse his suit. Goto then sees his own editors here. So they’re here to say hi? No more rivalries? Times a-changing? Goto went through hell for nothing… At the end of the day, Hime is a very happy girl and Goto intends to keep hiding his identity to protect her smile.

Episode 10A
Hime ate all the chocolates she has been saving for Valentine. She felt bad about it so as repentance, she wrote the kanji for crab 100 times. But soon things are looking up before Hime wins the grand prize via raffles, a trip to Izu. Goto can finish his manga chapter and use the rest of his days as vacation but he gets lazy about it. But because Hime won that prize, now he is working as fast as he can! Then there’s this argument about mangaka can’t go on long or far vacations because they are often called back for some revisions. Another reason is because they also fall sick. Guess what? Goto falls sick! A year’s worth of sickness, huh? So his assistants including his ‘harem’ are here to take care of him. Noting how Hime wrote the words of repentance that eventually came true (because the Izu trip has all-you-can-eat crabs), they also decide to do the same. Only, it looks like some death sutras! Tomaruin thinks Goto is seriously going to die!!! Goto, please don’t blow your top on him. You’ll only make yourself worse. Anyway, thankfully the next morning he feels better. Yay! Trip won’t be wasted. But taking a closer look at those ‘sutras’, many of them had writings of wanting marry him! Oh, I bet I know those are from whom.

So father and daughter (and dog too) check into the Izu inn. Apparently Rasuna and Kakei are also here so Goto has them go watch Hime as she dips in the hotspring. As an ero writer, he knows too well about creeps who want to peep on women… But that won’t happen since Hime finishes fast so that Roku won’t be alone. Later Goto stumbles into a sealed room claimed to be under renovation. However the hostess refuses to tell him anything further except some famous author once used it. During dinner, it seems all the guests suddenly got up and reveal their secrets! Stupid or puny, at least it lifts the burden off their shoulders! Now it is Goto’s turn. They pester him to reveal his secret. As he is about to do so under peer pressure, suddenly Rasuna’s scream is heard. She accidentally opened the door to the sealed room so the hostess is forced to reveal it is actually haunted! Another secret exposed? That author’s ghost who died in that room appears every night to complete his unfinished work, so to speak. Later that night, Roku runs into that room. Goto chases after it and finds the culprit could just be a civet. Then he sees the author’s stuffs left on the desk. He gets this idea if he gets possessed, maybe he’ll be famous. So he sits down at the desk and gives it a try. Meanwhile a few boys are going to take photo evidence of this ghost… Then they see Goto working at the desk… HOLY SH*T!!! Next morning, Hime talks to daddy about the ghosts. Apparently she knew about it because of the morning ruckus. Though she is scared, but she also thinks it is nice to have them around. So the world is populated with ghosts and that’s why they’re invisible and we go through them? Though a picture of that haunted room pops up on social media, it is just a very blur outline. But many doesn’t think it looks like an author anyway…

Episode 10B
More Hime flashbacks as she remembers the day daddy came home and told her he got a new job. That meant he quit his mangaka job but why? More Tomaruin and Rasuna chatter as we hear them confirm he did quit because he wasn’t popular anymore. He couldn’t make anyone laugh anymore. It seems he could be hiding something from his readers. Then there is some article about some tragedy at sea and the sad part how that tragic private life is revealed to the public that became a fatal blow to his job.

Episode 11A
Hime wants a family meeting?! So this has Goto, Tomaruin and Ichiko coincidentally meet and talk about the pros and cons of a meeting. Uhm, isn’t this also considered a meeting? Later daddy learns that Hime wants a meeting to talk about a birthday party. When Tomaruin tells Goto that the editor in chief wants to take him out to dinner (because he remembered so), Goto gets the idea that he will be fired. So when Tomaruin talks to the chief about this, he too gets the wrong impression that Goto is unhappy and wants coloured pages. So we see both of them awkward at the dinner. As they put their words ambiguously, we know they’re not on the same page. So the chief agrees to the coloured pages and Goto thinks he is letting him go out with a bang. This has Goto thinking that eventually axed series will be forgotten and the bills will pile up and dwindle the savings. Something that is starting to happen… Goto tells his assistants about this and they’re not surprised. They knew it would end one day and even if they’re out of a job, they look positively that they want to try new things. Hence we see them motivated doing the last chapters for Tights In The Wind. So much so, these chapters are pretty interesting! Nothing to lose, right? After handing in the last chapters, Goto remembers his meeting with Hime. At the old well? Oh well. Can be considered as a water cooler tank as the little detectives said. Goto fears Hime has fallen in but why is she screaming if she’s not? There’s a voice coming out from the well! OMFG!!! Turns out to be Tomaruin. He lost those final chapters to the wind and was trying to get them back. Yeah, he fell in the well. Thankfully, Rasuna never gave him original copies so she still has backup. That is when Goto learns Tights In The Wind won’t be ending. Breaking this news to his assistants, all of them get dejected! There goes their plans… And with that, the series tanks in its popularity. What a short inspiration of madness. Anyway, Goto and Hime have the birthday meeting back in their home. It seems Hime wants lots of fried chicken and needs daddy’s help. Okay. And so we see Hime celebrating her birthday with her friends and other characters. Yup, lots of fried chicken. Eat up. Later that night, father and daughter celebrate their own birthday alone. He gives her a present and she hopes they can celebrate this for years to come.

Episode 11B
We see Hime going through the photo albums of this birthday party. Then she spots a key and a map. A note says that some secrets lie here. You bet she is going to find out what those secrets are.

Episode 12
As we hear Hime narrate what we already know so far, suddenly a guy pops up and claims he is her half-brother! Surprise! Rest assured, they are not love children of their father. In fact they are half siblings. This half-brother is the son of a famous kabuki actor and is one himself. And the secret is that Goto is actually the secret child of a kabuki actor and his mistress! Yup, Goto could have actually been a kabuki actor. But I’m also confused because they did also say that half-brother’s mom is also Goto’s younger sister. Am I missing something? Anyway, Hime’s grandpa who was a famous traditional Japanese art master was against Goto marrying his daughter not because of his manga job but rather their incompatible art form with kabuki. Naru is now a journalist as she tries to get to the bottom of this. She interviews the person whom Goto was last working with. It seems the magazine had printed loads of copies. An accident happened when the stack of magazines Goto was trying to move became unbalance and fell over him. He became comatose and has been in hospital like this for a year! Then there was this incident when his wife got lost at sea after Hime was just born but when the official rescue stopped, Goto continued to use his own money to keep the search ongoing, believing she was still alive. The costs added up and he had to sell the house to keep things going as he took on odd jobs. This was then picked up by the media and the people started mocking him and he quitted when some commented they can’t laugh at his manga anymore (Tights In The Wind was wrapped up nicely). Now Hime has this amazing skill she inherited from grandpa. Her half-brother was the one who gave her the key to this place. In fact, it was Goto who came to his mom to ask her to sell the things in the house if something ever happened to him. She didn’t sell it so as to let Hime know what daddy was doing for a living. As he parts, here comes Ichiko and friends telling Hime the good news: Goto has woke up!

The bad news however… He has amnesia?! Not quite. He doesn’t remember anything that happened for the past 7 years and still thinks Hime is a 10 year old. How come? It was probably the time he had the most fun. It is sad that he doesn’t recognize this teen Hime. So in order to not let Hime see him in this pathetic state and not overwhelm him with the shock of reality, the rest decide to play along and continue his Tights In The Wind manga! His hospital room is now a manga workshop? Goto has a request of Hime and wants her to help take care of his daughter back home since Tomaruin is just being useless. Sure. She plays along too. As Hime talks to Ichiko and friends, she realizes her father is most happy drawing manga. So she decides to let him be this way even if he doesn’t remember her. You sure? You look so sad. I guess Goto’s assistants are also more than willing to continue this charade because it’s been so long they’ve seen him this happy. So when Hime talks to Goto about him being happiest staying this way, he corrects her that what will make him happy is to see Hime grow up and healthy. This is when Hime realizes what she needs to do. She calls her friends to help her bring back all the manuscripts from the house to show it to daddy. Shocked, he reads them all as his memories slowly return. Hime, is that you?! Welcome back, daddy! Of course he is embarrassed to see that Hime has learnt his secret. But Hime points out that she too has a secret. Yes, she is drawing manga albeit not a dirty one. She’ll be keeping this a secret from daddy for a while. Aww, like father like daughter. Meanwhile to pay for the medical bills (subsidized by Hime’s grandpa anyway), Goto is proposing some manga to Tomaruin. In Rasuna’s office. Yeah, she made it big now as a mangaka. But Goto brushes off Tomaruin’s idea of a mangaka who draws dirty jokes and tries to keep it a secret from his daughter. Not so sure about a manga based about his own life.

You Can Hide Your Identity But You Cannot Hide Who You Are
Ah well. I was prepared for the worst but thankfully, that ending can’t even be called bittersweet. Just sweet and lovely. So most of the burning questions have been revealed, certain pieces of the puzzle being put together and I suppose father and daughter will resume their normal daily lives. Of course with some secrets intact. After all, what are humans? A miserable little pile of secrets! You can credit Castlevania for that quote!

If you have watched Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, the first thing that will strike you is how the visuals like the character designs are closely taken after that series. It is no surprise that both series are written by the same author, Kouji Kumeta. You bet you are going to see shades of similarities in the character designs in both series. Especially our main character Goto who is like an alternate dimension of what Nozomu would be if he wasn’t a teacher but a mangaka! I guess in both universes, this guy would be in some sort of despair! HAHAHA!!! And maybe the other characters are reincarnations from Sayanara Zetsubou Sensei like how Hina could be Nami, Riko and Kakei could be Chiri, Silvia could be Kobushi, Ichiko could be Maria and Hime could be (gasp!) Rin! Curiously, I wonder if Mario from Mushikago No Cagaster copied this Mario here. Blonde tranny with the same name… Hmm… Suspicious… Other than that, the art and animation are pretty simple and because of that, it looks a bit cartoonish at times. Unfortunately this anime isn’t animated by SHAFT so you’re not going to see their trademarks. Instead, Ajia-Do produced this (Shuumatsu No Izetta, Nintama Rantarou, Honzuki No Gekokujou).

While the jokes and its execution may remind us of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, it isn’t 100% copy and paste as it is not as heavy as the aforementioned series. This means you are not likely to stop and pause and read all the lines and examples that Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei exclaimed during their many seasons it has. After all, Kakushigoto isn’t a dark comedy to begin with and is just a light-hearted comedy for the family and soul. Aww… But of course some trademarks of the author still remain such as the names of the characters are named after references pertaining to the manga industry. I thought Keshi was the only one I got because that name meant erasing (in which his character’s job is just to erase draft lines) but I later found out it meant constant motivation. Yeah, your Japanese vocab and puns need to be strong if you want to really understand the meaning behind those names. Like the more obvious Hime who could initially mean princess but its other meaning is secret/hidden. And Tomaruin I thought he was more like stop (tomaru) + ruin (as in, STOP AND RUIN YOUR DAY! HAHA!) but what the heck, his name means stop the presses? Oh well…

Fuelling conspiracies that this series might be an alternate universe of Sayonara Zetsubou is not only the fact that Goto looks like Nozomu but he is also voiced by the same seiyuu, Hiroshi Kamiya! Hmm… Suspicious… The only other seiyuus I recognized are Ayane Sakura as Kakei and Natsuki Hanae as Tomaruin. A pleasant surprise for me as Mamiko Noto’s cameo as Hime’s mom! Yay! Oh wait… Dead character… Oh no… OH NO… Don’t start the trauma… PLEASE… The rest of the other casts are Rie Takahashi as Hime (Mash in Fate/Grand Order), Kiyono Yasuno as Rasuna (Nejire in Boku No Hero Academia), Maaya Uchida as Ichiko (Rikka in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Rikako Aida as Naru (Riko in Love Live! Sunshine!!), Ayumu Murase as Keshi (Kazuo in Hatsukoi Monster), Taku Yashiro as Shiji (Ryuuji in Darwin’s Game), Emiri Katou as Nadila (Aura in Overlord), Ari Ozawa as Silvia (Lynn in Plundere), Azumi Waki as Riko (Maika in Blend S), Kaede Hondo as Hina (Sakura in Zombie Land Saga), Shiho Kokido as Shiokishi (Olminu in Drifters), Yumi Hara as Joro (Albedo in Overlord) and Daisuke Namikawa as Mario (Waver in Fate/Zero). I want to note that the weirdest one goes to Roku. Whoever voiced this doggie character, I don’t know, the way it ‘barks’ sounds like a sissy human trying to get an orgasm or something!!!!!!! I’M SERIOUS!!! Even if Roku is meant to be a funny dog, this is not how a dog should even remotely sound! Ever!

While there are some funny skits throughout the series, the ones that I believe that are most interesting and heart-warming are those interactions between Goto and Hime. There are some funny moments between father and daughter too but the clinching moments are those really touching scenes between the two. It makes the series a worthwhile to watch even if you aren’t into the jokes or don’t pretty much understand them. The father and daughter relationship here is really a gem. Heart-warming as it is, it is also heart-wrenching because of the fact that by the end of every episode, the epilogue teases us with bits of mystery being revealed at a snail’s pace. Something must have happened. Hime has found out the secret or something of that sort. Hence it is not the question if Hime will ever find out Goto’s secret but rather what happened to them in between. The epilogue only makes us want to know more about the secrets and what seemingly that has happened that made it turn out such a way. Yeah, the cliff-hanger is unbearable! Yeah, Hime changed from a lively young girl to a lifeless gloomy teenager! I can’t bear this change!

A dozen episodes isn’t enough to properly flesh out the characters. As said, the father-daughter relationship is the most memorable part of the series so you’ll remember the series by them rather than by the other characters who are more often misses than hits. So like Goto who is trying to be a good father to raise his only daughter but the fact that he has to hide his profession makes his job harder. I’m sure every father’s worst nightmare is when his little princess starts to hate him. Furthermore, writing an erotic manga is not an honourable profession in the minds of many to begin with. Hime on the other hand is trying to be a good daughter and she knows daddy isn’t having an easy time raising her all alone. She tries to be considerate and all and of course in doing so, she comes off more as so cute that you can’t help want to cuddle her. Oh damn, do I sound like a lolicon?! The family has lots of secrets so there are lots of wild conspiracy theories but I’m not going to bring them up here to spoil Hime’s innocence. Maybe the mild ones like if the family has secrets and are coincidentally named as secrets, could mummy’s name be Naisho?!

So only mommy’s outcome wasn’t really solved but considering the teaser of this Goto’s secret being slowly revealed in the epilogue, I was thinking there would be some sort of punch line. You know, everybody sad that Goto might be missing but then suddenly he turns up last moment from a vacation! Some misinformation everybody thought in the first place, courtesy of Tomaruin. Haha. Thank goodness it didn’t amount to that because it sure would have sullied and ruined all the build-up and effort that we have so emotionally invested in. Of course my other extreme grim outcome is that Goto had actually died! Yikes. I don’t think I’m prepared for that kind of shocking truth either. So yeah, it might be a little cliché that Goto got into a coma, woke up and doesn’t remember anything for some finale drama but after lots of emotional heart pulling strings, he finally remembers it all. Ah yes. Who doesn’t love a good father-daughter bonding and that building blocks are what helped sustained them through thick and thin. As long Goto and Hime are together, all is fine in this world of secrets.

The only other notable character is Tomaruin. This guy is like the Squidward of this series but not as bad as that octopus. Though he is lazy and not well motivated in his job, he doesn’t have ill intentions. Although mostly it backfires and he deserves it. Sometimes it feels like Tomaruin is like many others, wrong people in the wrong job and hence that kind of don’t-care attitude and just doing the minimum and necessary. He is a nightmare for all budding mangaka. Then there’s Ichiko (is catching suspicious people her part time job?) whose running joke is to seemingly get trolled to be married by Goto or being asked out by him. At this point she should know that his thoughts and concerns are all about Hime. But oh well. Don’t give up. And there’s this mini harem who are fighting over Goto when they get chance. I suppose Goto isn’t going to lose to these women because the only women important in his life is Hime! It’s so evident since Goto has never even thought of remarrying. And just like that, those women all ‘died out’ and nowhere to be seen in the epilogue.

Other characters are just pretty okay. They’re not that all bad but they’re not entirely that interesting either. Like Goto’s assistants. They have their own little quirks but that’s about it. Nadila being Hime’s part time caretaker is just to fuel some creepy one-sided romance for Tomaruin. Naru, we need a high school girl somewhere, right? Lolis and mature women already take up the bulk. And Mario, what happened to this tranny? Maybe he isn’t a supporting character to begin and is just one off. I guess we also need trans people because today’s era is so woke and PC sensitive. How do you like your mini representation? With all that said, perhaps with more episodes and future seasons, these characters could be better fleshed out?

Chiisana Hibi by Flumpool might sound like your average pop music but seeing how it fits perfectly the father and daughter relationship animation, sometimes it hits the feels. The more interesting one is the ending theme, Kimi Wa Tennenshoku by Eiichi Ootaki. It is a reminiscence of classic rock n roll. The opening of this song reminds me of The Beach Boys’ Help Me Rhonda or rather, one of the early ending themes of Gintama, Mr Raindrop. And the verses sound like a Christmas song! Anyway, this song is quite nice to listen once in a while since it gives off that old classic rock n roll nostalgic feel.

Overall, this series is simple, funny and pleasant. Especially the endearing father and daughter moments that might leave you with bittersweet feelings but mostly that lovely feeling of satisfaction. It isn’t as dark or complicated as Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and it is something that a wider range of audience can enjoy. So for better or worse, some secrets are meant to be known and it’s no secret that this is one of the few enjoyable series of the season, seeing that Corona virus delayed a lot of other animes in the season. Goes to show that father and daughter relationship could keep the virus at bay! Not sure if this series can get another season but I’m sure they won’t keep mum on this forever. After all, it is no secret that the manga itself has already ended in mid-2020 right after the TV series ended! Gasp! Not the end of the world I assure you. And that’s no secret. It’s just life.

Heya Camp OVA

August 7, 2020

Rin fans who felt cheated that she didn’t appear in the short spinoff, be glad that she takes centre stage here in Heya Camp OVA. That’s right. If you also felt a bit cheated because there was no real camping in that one, well, uhm, this OVA might provide you with that fix until the next season arrives. Also, it is not just 3 minutes long but 11 minutes! Hah. More bang for your buck!

Sauna, lunch and reverse trike…
When Rin returns home, she realizes her bike is missing but in place is a trike. It seems her dad has sent it for yearly maintenance and got this on loan for the time being. So how is Rin going to go camping tomorrow? Why not ride this trike then? Even if she has a motorcycle licence, it is still valid as long as it is still within the 125cc range. Rin rides it and finds it fun. First stop is the public bath facility. As per suggested by Saitou, you have to do a few cycles of hot bath, sauna and cold bath in order to feel some rejuvenation. Hot bath is fine. Sauna can’t read or do your Ipad because of the steam. And the cold bath is really freezing! On a cold day! After a few cycles, Rin feels some sort of rejuvenation coming from within… Not! It’s her stomach growling. Time to go get some food. I guess that bath has worked up an appetite so she really enjoyed her tempura dish. She wonders if this hunger is part of the rejuvenation process. Then she goes to the mart to get her camping necessities. After that she heads up to the mountains to begin her camp. Talking to Saitou about the rejuvenation, Rin doesn’t feel anything near but it felt fun on its own. Saitou isn’t sure either because it took her a few tries to feel it. We see Rin cook some delicious grill sandwich for dinner. Yum! Then as she sits by her campfire, she realizes this is the kind of rejuvenation she is familiar with. And of course maybe she’ll hit the sauna again on her way home.

Sometimes The Most Productive Thing You Can Do Is Relax
Oh yeah. Are you feeling all rejuvenated? Hopefully. My only regret is that I can’t get a taste of the food Rin ate here! Oh damn! This isn’t a cooking show! So basically this OVA isn’t anything much and perhaps its main point is to help rejuvenate you with the easy going aspects seeing that we’re going through this Corona virus pandemic crisis. Too bad no camping outside in real life! But we’re more than happy to see our girls camping once more when the next season arrives. Possibly by next year. It would be about the time our Corona quarantine would be lifted and we can go outside and do the things we love again. Might be the new normal for all of us but it’s the same ol’ camping for these girls.

Koisuru Asteroid

May 23, 2020

The last time we had an anime that is based on the constellations and the stars was Sora No Manimani. Yeah, that was more than a decade ago. However, that series wasn’t really about cute girls doing cute things. Uh huh. You have some weird high school romance via the theme of constellations and stars in the background. Don’t want all that crap, huh? Then be glad with just the cute girls doing cute things astronomy version in Koisuru Asteroid. Yup. A bunch of cute high school girls rekindling their old promise to find and name an asteroid together. Aww… How cute… If only finding and naming an asteroid was that easy.

Episode 1
When Mira Konohata was young, she was at a town camping trip and met a boy named Ao who was very knowledgeable about the constellations. They became acquainted and promised to find an asteroid to name. That was the last time she saw him, though. Now Mira is a high school girl. But her dreams are dashed as the astronomy club has closed down! Don’t worry. As teacher Yuki Endou puts it, it has combined with the geology club to become earth sciences club. She is the club’s advisor. Along with her friend, Moe “Suzu” Suzuya, they try it out as they see the awkward ‘confrontation’ of the newly merged club. Mari “Monroe” Morino is the president from the astronomy side with first year Ao Manaka while Mikage “Sakura” Sakurai is from the geology side along with Mai “Ino” Inose. Sakura’s attempts to lure Mira to her side with gems fails as Mira is adamant to be on the astronomy side. When Mira tells of her promise, this has all of them realizing that this Ao is that same Ao from Mira’s past. So Ao is actually a girl?! Yes, Ao still remembers Mira. Both get quickly acquainted. Promise back on track. Ao has trouble speaking since she looked tomboyish as a kid and many teased her about it. Suzu is optimistic that they’ll get along fine because she is Mira’s childhood friend. That night they call each other just to point out Mercury and Venus in the sky. Got to start from somewhere. Next day, the girls convene to discuss about club activities. Oh, Suzu won’t be joining since she will be busy with other stuffs. They discuss about the club budget that will also determine what kind of activity they will do for the cultural festival. Because of their difference in expertise, there isn’t a single activity that they can exactly do together. So to attract more people, they think of writing a newsletter. Now the problem is what to call it because both sides of the divide have their own ideas that sound pretty bias to their specialty. Eventually, Ao comes up with the best name: Kirakira. As it means sparkle, both stars and gems share that quality.

Episode 2
Endou organizes a riverside BBQ so they can have a rock hunting activity as well as stargazing later. She also ordered some bread from Suzu’s bakery. Normally Suzu would have left after delivering the bread but after seeing how cute Ino is, she decides to stay for the extra benefits. Sakura guides Mira in picking the rocks. Woah! Almost picked up dog poo there! In the end, she picked up too many rocks that made it impossible for her to carry. Oh well, catch and release. After the sun goes down, Monroe sets up the telescope so that everyone can see Mars and Jupiter. They also talk about the constellations as Ao shows her talent in some asteroid history. Yup, they’ve been naming asteroids long ago and there are about 500,000 named asteroids currently! They also see a few shooting stars. By the time Endou got out of her car (because staying outside was too freezing), the meteor shower show is over. Back at the clubroom, they are discussing on how their first print should be. Mira is in a dilemma to write an article. What if it makes someone interested and that someone soon finds and asteroid and names it before her?! WTF?! Is this what it’s all about?! Mira writes her article but since she has writer’s block, she asks her sister, Misa for advice. She points out what she has written feels bland. Damn, she fell asleep while reading it! Poor Mira felt so insulted and storms off. Though, Suzu points out it was her fault in the first place. How does it feel to work something so hard and then get rejected? With Ao asking for illustrations, Suzu suggests drawing so Mira gets an idea to draw inspiration from Greek mythology. The earth science club’s first print is out. Suddenly there are lots of people who want a copy. You can thank Misa for promoting it. She is after all the student council president. Only then everybody realizes Mira is her little sister. Damn. To celebrate this success, Endou gives them tickets to enjoy themselves at the hotspring. They talk about the different mineral properties in such baths around Japan. After the bath, a couple of old ladies talk to them. It seems they know about Endou as she used to be a regular customer. It was her only way of de-stressing from her stressful teaching job. Mira realizes how hard it is to be a teacher so she buys a souvenir for Endou when she returns as appreciation.

Episode 3
Suzu has to keep tabs on Mira and Ao studying for the remedial tests. Otherwise they’ll be talking about astronomy stuffs. Suzu wants to show Ao the secret manga Mira draws but of course embarrassed girl won’t let her. When Misa enters, Suzu flusters. It seems she admires her for some reason. Misa meets Ao for the first time. Even so, she finds her familiar. Aha. The main protagonist whom Mira based in her secret manga. Not her too! I guess Mira won’t let Ao read that manga. Ever. When Mira gets too close to Ao to see her reaction, it is Suzu who gets jealous and shocked instead. Mira gives Misa a rock as a good luck charm. She proceeds to create a mini altar for it! Mira and Ao help Suzu at her bakery. Maid outfit, I approve! With Suzu’s Spartan training, they’ll get by. Later, Suzu’s little sister, Megu joins in. Man, she’s a bit tall… Growth spurt? Because of her tomboyish traits, she is more suitable in a butler outfit. And you can tell the place is busy and packed with people. At the end of the day, the girls are paid. Mira wonders why there is much more than usual. It’s because Suzu has taken lots of secret photos of them! Megu had to apologize on behalf of her sister… When Mira and Ao are walking in the streets, they see Suzu and Ino together. It seems they are following Ino’s map to somewhere. Eventually the duo are busted. They learn Ino has Suzu accompany her in exploring some enclave based on this map. Because of her love for maps, it’s the reason she joined the geology club. They might be different specialty but they’re still related somewhat. After finding the landmark, they take a break as they learn more on why Ino is so into maps. Apparently a friend introduced it to her and she has been hooked ever since. Mira wants to try treasure hunting too so Ino will draw a proper map for them. No Mira, not on your hand. Back home, Ino tries to do so but hits a dead end. So she calls Sakura for advice. Whatever she draws for them will be their treasure. Next day, she gives Mira and co a treasure map for them to find after school. It leads them to the treasure, a group picture of that landmark they took together that day. Mira and co had fun and Ino is glad she could share this fun with them.

Episode 4
Is everyone so hyped up for summer camp at Endou’s grandma’s house?! Trolled you girls! They can use grandma’s house to save on lodging expenses while they go visit the geology museum and JAXA. At the geology museum, Sakura has a field day looking at all the exhibits. Remember that stone that Mira found at the riverbed? She accidentally split it and she thought there was some fossil in it. They are also here to ascertain that. Unfortunately the experts say it is a pseudo fossil. Yeah, some geological explanations. But not all is lost because if you really look closely, there is some small fish scale there so there is still some fossil in it. The geology girls are happy when then expert gives them a full detail list of the geological map where they found the stone. Next day, they visit JAXA. Even watching the intro video has Mira and Ao crying like babies… Monroe seems to be shy so Sakurai asks the experts on her behalf on certain space things. At the end of the day, returning to grandma’s place, since grandpa is also a fan of space, he sets up telescopes for them to see the moon. Then grandma shows them a recruitment poster of Shining Star Challenge. Endou once participated in it but couldn’t find anything. Too bad this year’s entry is already closed. Endou had a dream to find and name an asteroid too. So why didn’t she know about Mira and Ao’s dream? Well, she was sleeping during their club meeting… No reaching the stars for now so they complete the night playing sparklers. Before going to bed, Sakura commends the astrology side for having dreams. You see, it is Monroe’s dreams of becoming an astronaut. Because she was nervous about it, that’s why she was asking on her behalf. Sakura doesn’t find it embarrassing because it is better than her who doesn’t have any. Ino then realizes she wants to do something so the next day, they take her to the map making centre. You can tell how happy she is when her eyes sparkle like that.

Episode 5
Beach episode! Suzu notices Mira getting close to Ao and hence jealousy? She challenges her to see who could be Mira’s best friend. First challenge: Serving her favourite food. Doesn’t matter, Mira eats them all. Second challenge: Who can swim and reach to her the fastest. Better hurry or the riptide will pull you under. Final challenge: Riding a banana boat? Yeah, everyone falls off. In the end, Ino tells them why not all of them can be best friends. That could work. And that’s it for our beach episode. Bummer. On another day, Mira goes with Sakura to a mineral show. Lots of nice stones but Mira can’t go off by herself since some staffs speak in English and only Sakura can speak Engrish… I’m sure Mira would love to buy all the rocks but budget constraints… Eventually she got a few nice ones. Back to school, the girls see Sayuri “Eve” Ibe hanging outside their clubroom upside down and trying to peek in! Along with Ayano Usami, they are from the newspaper club and Eve’s plan is to find any scandalous material to blackmail clubs! Newspapers not selling well? This girl is more stupid than Mira so you bet Monroe has recorded that self-proclaimed statement she said out loud and proud. Hence Monroe ‘blackmails’ Eve to help them provide an exhibit for the cultural festival. After a few discussions, they decide than a boring (drilling, that is) exhibit would be good. After a mini experiment demonstrated by Endou, everyone else suddenly comes up with cool ideas on how to make this an interesting boring (oxymoron?!) exhibit. But! Sakura pours cold water on it. She is being pessimistic it won’t work and that they can’t ask others to help them. Endou doesn’t mind. Even if it is not the real thing and their mock exhibit will look haphazardly, it would be a waste to just scrap it all completely. Got your positivism and motivation back? Thought so.

Episode 6
Sakura and Ino start their boring activity. As in the drilling. Eve and Usami come check on them and noticing they lack the manpower, they seek the baseball club to come help. With the raw man-power, the boring is done quickly. Endou gets the honours to extract it but some parts ended up broken and out of shape instead of a cylindrical one. Hey, they’re using a cheap makeshift machine, right? Meanwhile our astronomy girls are making planet models. We hear Monroe thanking her grandma as she is the reason she is interested in this. After finishing the models, the best reward is to look at the real moon up in the sky. Oh, I take that back, the best reward is Suzu coming by to give them some nice pastries. Without Sakura here, the girls go ‘out of control’ with Suzu carrying Ao and Monroe snapping away like mad. The festival is here and what is even better than a double of geology and astronomy exhibit? Why, a maid café!!! I approve!!! Looking beautiful in those maid outfit, girls! Endou isn’t their first customer and just to check on them. Also, she tried out all the food on the menu. Yeah, she’ll be back by snack time. As the day goes by, we see several visitors coming in and the girls trying their best to provide the best service and information to them. Even Misa visits but can Suzu stay calm and not resort to bribery or anything? Eventually family members start visiting. Ao’s mom wants to take a picture of her daughter in a maid dress and for the first time everybody hears a high pitch shriek never heard before. At the end of the day, the event is a success and the girls are tired out. But there’s a surprise in store. Monroe and Sakura announce that they would be stepping down as their club roles. Don’t worry, they’ll still be around as normal club members. Hence they pass the leadership to Ino. Yoroshiku ne, buchou. You bet Ino is in shock. No more sleepy, huh?

Episode 6.5
WTF?! Are astronomy and geology so hard a subject that we need to have a recap episode???!!! We better learn our constellations and minerals if we want to see the rest of the season!!!

Episode 7
With Ino as the president, Mira becomes the vice and Ao the treasurer. Yeah. That’s all the members, right? Then there’s the issue of Kirakira being sold out because Misa named the koi in the inner garden? Ino is still sad and nervous of her new position. So as not to be sad forever, the club has a request for astronomy viewing from the neighbourhood kids. It is hard for Ino to get them to be quiet and focus but thanks to Suzu and Megu handing out treats, they become good kids. As the kids are awed with the constellations, Ao notices one of them, Haruka not particularly interested and bored. But after talking to her and giving some motivation, her enthusiasm is back on track. While the event is a success, back at the clubroom, more woes for Ino since all the pictures she took turned out blurry. One day, Ao is sick and didn’t come to school. Mira and Ino are of course worried for her. Suzu then advises on how to cheer her up but it is a trick because Mira realizes too late this pick up line she says before Ao just made her look more like a fool. Embarrassing! In no time, Ao recovers and returns to normal school activities. Monroe helps Ino on the blurry camera picture problem. As she is still having trouble, Monroe gives her some hope that there is software to retouch and tweak it. Of course Ino doesn’t have to force herself to use something totally new and alien if she feels comfortable in using an older and more familiar technology. Sakura comes in with the good news that her application to her first choice university went through. Apparently Monroe also applied for the same university albeit they are taking different majors. They are supposed to wait after the juniors finish their exams so as not to add to their anxiety but I guess it’s too late. Especially when they see Monroe acting strange the day after. So Sakura warns them to act normal and not show their worrywart face before Monroe when she comes by. Ino tries to do things on her own instead of relying on her senpai. Hence she talks to Endou if there is still time to apply for this earth sciences competition.

Episode 8
Ino enters the local earth sciences Olympiad. The winner will represent the nation for its international version. Nervous at first, she meets a fellow participant, Saeki and they become friends. As the test starts, Ino finds some of them easy and some not so easy. I guess Saeki is a genius because she breezed through and used the remainder of her time to sleep. In the aftermath, Ino scored awful but she is glad to have met and learnt from other people outside the club. The girls then prepare for a nabe for Christmas. Only, it is laced with spicy chilly! Only Monroe and Sakura can handle to spiciness. Then they all go up to the roof to watch the stars. Monroe and Sakura then give their juniors a photo album. They compiled all their photos of their time together. Too touched that Ao starts crying?! During New Year, the juniors visit the shrine. It is then Ao reveals that she is moving away because her dad has had a job transfer. It will be during spring break. Mira is most affected as she goes into shock! She’s actually panicking! What about their promise?! Ino tries to calm everybody down and think rationally. Hence she calls for an emergency meeting with her fellow club members and the newspaper duo too. It is to discuss on how to support Mira and Ao’s goal given the current circumstances. You thought Mira being depressed for being a bad friend is bad enough. Why, Suzu is worst! She comes in and kidnaps Ao! Let’s elope!!! She’s serious!!! When that failed, the discussion resumes and Ao wonders why they’re doing so much for her. Oh silly. You should’ve guessed it by now. We’re friends! We love you! And then here comes Misa to give her input. She asks if Ao has ever talked to her parents about not wanting to move. She didn’t because she thought as a child, her opinions don’t matter. Mira suggests putting up a fight and not give up. No, not throwing a tantrum like a child. Because Misa will be going to a faraway university, she suggests Ao propose to her parents to live at her old place with Mira. Wow. That sounds like a (yuri) dream come true!

Episode 9
Ao talks to her mom. Must be all those emotions in her words that mom will talk again with dad tonight. Also, a call from Mira’s family that they too are open for discussion on this. I think we know how it’ll turn out. Sakura sees Suzu so that she could learn how to make Valentine chocolates. She claims it is obligatory chocolates but we know better. This has also Suzu think about her own predicament about giving chocolates to a certain someone. Sakura gives those chocolates to her club members while Suzu finally gets a chance to give hers to Misa. Filled with her feelings. With Monroe giving the good news that she has passed her entrance exam, time for a short reminiscence of Monroe and Sakura first joining this club and they butt heads a lot. The girls take a commemoration photo and exchange presents. Monroe sees their photo album and didn’t realize she was smiling this much. Fact: Nobody has seen their own face with their own eyes except through mirrors or pictures! During spring break, Ao moves into Mira’s house. However because Mira opened a present meant for her without Ao’s permission, they got into a fight. Oh dear. Off to a bad start. And what’s this about their differing theories on how the moon was formed? Oh my. But it doesn’t take long before the girls reconcile because it’s that kind of show. As the new school year starts, Mira and Ao happily try to recruit new club members. Only, Ino tries to stop them because they haven’t got permits for recruitment yet! So uhm, illegal solicitation?!

Episode 10
Suzu spots a new hairstyle. Does this help cope with Misa’s absence? Before Ino starts her plan to recruit more members (because Mira’s true intention: Get more club funding!), suddenly here come a couple of new first years interested to join! So lucky. Meet Chikage “Chika” Sakurai who is Sakura’s little sister and the one Ino met at the local earth sciences Olympiad, and Yuu “Nana” Nanami who attended their school’s cultural festival. Of course there is Megu but Suzu brings her here to check things out. When Nanami notes their last festival wasn’t helpful enough, Nana further explains that she isn’t interested in astronomy or geology but meteorology. She wants to know more about the weather and climate to help others. Mira and Ao also get ready to enter the Shining Star Challenge that has them require to write a short essay. To welcome the new members, the seniors buy food for a BBQ. Too bad on that day it rained… See why meteorology is so important? Thanks to Endou, she managed to find a small open hut so as not to let this BBQ go to waste. Nana also elaborates on her dream to learn meteorology because 3 years ago her relatives got involved in a flooding incident. Though no casualties, the damage was high and she doesn’t want to see that sad looks on their face again. By trying to predict the weather and natural disasters, she hopes to save many. Seeing she is so serious, Chika gives her a stone to help calm her down. So this girl is more of into geomancy than actual geology? This club is getting weirder. Once the rain stops, they see a lovely rare phenomenon. WTF is this circumhorizontal arc?! So it’s a horizontal rainbow, huh? Come night fall, the weather is nice for them to set up a telescope to see the moon. A few days later, good news for Mira as she passed the first test for the Shining Star Challenge! But… Ao failed! Oh my. Bummer. That sure killed the mood. But instead of wallowing in despair, here is a live streaming video of Monroe and Sakura to lecture them on using this to learn and improve. So the gang sees off Mira and Endou at the airport. They’ll be flying to Okinawa where the challenge is. But wait. What’s this?! Ao is also coming?! Did nobody see her and this coming?! Who sponsored her air ticket?!

Episode 11
It seems Ao didn’t do this on a whim. She had help with her friends booking tickets and so as well as gotten permissions from her parents. As per Suzu’s advice, she didn’t tell them because Endou would certainly reject. Ao gets permission to be an observer like Endou once the necessary paper work is done. The Shining Star Challenge group first take a lecture. We are introduced to some of the participants and in particular Asuka “Tomorin” Tomori and Shiho “Makki” Makita. Yeah, because they are the ones who will be getting along with Mira and Ao. After the lecture, the group is taken to tour one of the few large antennas throughout Japan. Some explanations of how this digital telescope works… After that, the group splits into further groups. Our girls are on the optical group and their next tour is the observatory. Because Tomorin is not prepared to take notes, she ropes in Ao to join in. Permission granted. Ao is one lucky girl. More astronomical lessons on how to conduct observations… Then it is time to look for an asteroid using the hi-tech software. Is this what they’ve been waiting for? However as bad weather is looming, they don’t have much time so they start early. As Endou has been here many times, she reminisces about those young days with her friends. One of them is now an astronomer overseas. Endou laments she failed to find an asteroid but instead she found something else more precious: Encounters with other people. We also learn Makki isn’t particularly interested in astronomy. As she wants to be a school counsellor, she wants to expand her horizon and meet many new people. So that answers our question why she is interested in Ao’s ‘brain’. As for Tomorin, she is more interested to meet Neon Amane, a famous idol who is into astronomy in person. With the bad weather persisting, looks like they can’t go on looking. Sad news for Mira and Ao. So instead they practice looking using past photo data. Yo girls, don’t be impatient in trying to find an asteroid so fast. They get the chance the next day as the weather clears up. You can thank you buddies back home for making a bunch of teruterubouzu.

Episode 12
More lessons and the search for their elusive asteroid continues. During that, Tomorin and Makki ask the duo about their dreams and their future beyond that. Mira believes that in the event if they have achieved their dream, they hope to find a new one from there. The asteroid search continues and to cut things short, they didn’t find anything. Maybe next, next, next, next, next time. They present their findings and of course they had a lot of fun and educational experience. With the end of the Shining Star Challenge, our girls return to their respective homes. Of course for Mira and Ao, returning to their earth sciences club and relating their wonderful experience to everybody waiting. Ao takes this chance to thank everybody for making this possible that would be otherwise impossible by herself. With their spirits high, Endou gives them access to the school rooftop so they could watch the stars. What a beautiful night as they could see Jupiter and at least 4 of its moons. And then cue for flashbacks of what they did throughout this series which serves as some mini montage recap or something. Yeah. We’ve come so far, right?

Keep On Rocking: Dream Big, Shine Bright & Sparkle More!
At least they have an excuse to continue staying together because they haven’t fulfil their promise yet. Who knows what new dream they want to achieve after naming their asteroid. Finding another asteroid and naming it after their senpai! Yes! That would be great! But until then, you girls keep on your great efforts while we anime viewers bow out and go watch something else. Heh. We’ll see you again once you get another season. If that actually ever happens! Yeah, I’m starting to think the possibility that they would have a higher chance of finding and naming an asteroid rather than this series getting another season!

Well, I can’t say that I am totally disappointed. Because I already set my expectations so right before I started watching this series. As expected just like any other cute girls doing cute things genre, there isn’t anything much to expect and hope for. It’s not that bad. But the story and plot isn’t anything particularly special. The usual bonding of a small group of friends in a club as they move forward and achieve their goals and dreams. That summarizes up this series as well as other shows of the same genre nicely. So if you’re expecting some plot twist or some amazing storyline here, you’d be very much disappointed. I’m such a veteran in watching so many of such shows in this category for the past few years so I’m quite ‘numb’ to its overall ambiance.

Having said that, I guess the characters play an important role in making the series interesting seeing it lacks a main plot. What else can I say about the ragtag weirdoes of this club? Everyone has their own quirks that make them cute. Their dynamic interaction among each other makes the club and the group livelier and thus enhancing the quirkiness of the group. So lots of cute and funny light hearted moments that would make you grin a little otherwise those not really used to this kind of pacing might find it awfully boring. It’s like they want to create some awareness about astronomy as well as geology but personally I don’t think it is going to make many interested. After all, those are very tough subjects and you can’t just simply get in just because on a whim you became interested after watching this show. It doesn’t work like that. Interest and passion are one thing. Perseverance and hard work are totally another and this is where all the time and effort goes to. So think you still want to find an asteroid or star now?

Sure, this series does have some very basic introductions and explanations about the stuffs, theories, concepts and equipment relating to astronomy and geology but just like I always said, those are just touching the tip of the surface and if you are truly interested to further your interest in such subjects, it is best to go do your own research. Because there is only so much an anime can bring out and introduce you to. The rest is all up to you. So while it is a good thing to see that these young girls here do show interest in their related fields, I fear that some might get the wrong idea that they make it look like very easy. It’s not. Knowledge of the stars and the rocks comes from many years of studies and research and while some of the girls here do possess that sort of knowledge, they make it look like it is so fun and easy. It’s not. Okay, maybe I’m being pessimistic here. After all, when you really love a subject, you definitely put more passion into it and it shows. Something feels wrong if you don’t like a subject and explain it to others half-heartedly. So yeah. Astronomy and geology looks quite the fun subject only because these people are really so into it. And if you really want more explanations on such topics, short ONA episodes were released during the run of this series should enlighten you further. If you missed them, don’t worry, they’ll be included in the BDs and DVDs so you can pay you 2 cents worth to get your cute girls explain those hard stuffs to you ;p.

So interestingly, not all the characters share the same passion and goal. It shows that despite the umbrella theme of astronomy and geology, there exists various branches, subcategories and divisions under them. For instance, Ino’s interest isn’t really about geology and rocks but rather to make maps. Hence the only closest club that could get her close to her dream is this earth sciences club. And then we have Nana who isn’t interested in the stars or asteroids but rather the weather which of course sounds more helpful than looking for bug chunks of stone in space. To each her own. So whatever their dreams may be, they are sure starting off on the right steps and especially it is best when they are still young and have the passion and energy. So suck it up Mira and Ao. You’re in for the long ride to find and name an asteroid. Heh. You don’t think you could just easily find one while you’re both still in high school, eh? Be prepared to painstakingly put in time and effort to look for that UFO in space. You might become grandmas and still not achieve that dream. So are you prepared for that? The answer is obvious, no? And don’t laugh at them wanting an asteroid named after them. It’s not uncommon. There are many animals, theories, concepts named after people, you know…

This also means having myself being confused over the several terms. Yup. I thought I knew what astronomy was. Until I realized that there is a big difference with astrology. Yeah. Now I’m freaking confused! You mean it’s not the same? Never actually thought about it… Then there is astrophysics… And geology with geomancy. Oh dear. Got to revise those definitions again.

Mira and Ao’s relationship feels pretty normal. It’s not like they really spam it in our faces that they are really that close. Sure, lots of moments that they do things together ever since Ao got into this school. This isn’t a yuri anime, no? Wait. Is it? That’s the potential of cute girls doing cute things genre. You might step into that yuri boundary and with Ao and Mira meeting new people and having new members, it feels like their yuri harem is expanding slowly like the universe! HAHAHAHA!!!! Oops… Sorry… Thinking about it, I bet trying to find and name an asteroid is just an excuse for them to stay friends. It could have been anything else. But nope. Something hard like an asteroid to keep their friendship going on for years to come. Will it end once they do? I don’t think so but this reason sometimes feel like a shallow justification for their friendship. Which isn’t. On a second note, Mira loves giving everyone a nickname. I am assuming this means she is friends with them, no? So why is Usami the only one who doesn’t have one? Not friends?

Other non-earth sciences related characters sometimes I feel their characters just play a comical role. Like Suzu who is supposed to bring comical relief to the group. Well, if the earth sciences group isn’t too comical enough for you, here is a bread girl who extremely loves cute things and worships Misa. I wonder how long distance relationship will work out for her. Don’t worry. It’ll work out. Somehow. And then you’ve got the newspaper club duo who often hang out at the earth sciences club just for some scoops but I have this gut feeling that they want to join the club, just that they’re already in one. So there are no other clubs to bug? I suppose there isn’t an interesting mix of a club out there with (cute) weirdoes compared to this one. If you remember, there was a club during the festival that did some death game! I want to know what it was all about and happened to that club!

The art and animation lean towards the cute side. So don’t get too overwhelmed to see cute girls sparkling with all the cuteness. You thought astronomy and geology are pretty dry and hard subjects so they pretty much inject lots of colourful stuffs in here so as not to make it look dull. Wow. If only the subjects were that easy… But still, nice skies and rock formations to look at in certain scenes. Anyway, this anime was produced by Doga Kobo who specializes in lots of cute girls doing cute things anime (or at least anime with lots of cute looking girls) such as YuruYuri, New Game, Gabriel Dropout, Himouto! Umaru-chan, Watashi Ni Tenshi Ga Maiorita, Uchi No Maid Ga Uzasugiru, Anima Yell, Mikakunin De Shinkoukei and Sansha Sanyou. So don’t be surprised to see if some characters look closely like other characters in those aforementioned animes.

Voice acting, didn’t recognize anybody. Not even Nao Touyama as Sakura. Probably wasn’t paying too much attention… Anyway, the casts include Tomoyo Takayanagi as Mira (Mikan in Machikado Mazoku), Megumi Yamaguchi as Ao (Hifumi in New Game), Maria Sashide as Ino (Hana in Watashi Ni Tenshi Ga Maiorita), Sumire Uesaka as Monroe (Sanae in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai), Reina Ueda as Suzu (Ayado in 3D Kanojo Real Girl), Lynn as Endou (Kirisu in Bokutachi Wa Benkyou Ga Dekinai), Sumire Morohoshi as Nanami (Koyori in W’z), Konomi Kohara as Chika (Kasumi in Asobi Asobase), Mai Fuchigami as Misa (Ocoho in Radiant), Aoi Koga as Eve (titular character in Kaguya-sama Wa Kokurasetai), Megumi Nakajima as Usami (Kaede in Kampfer) and Natsu Yorita as Megu. The opening theme is Aruiteikou by Nao Touyama. Sounds rather okay for an anime pop and quite fitting for this series. It is a pop ballad for the ending theme, Yozora by Minori Suzuki. Somewhat reminds me of Sora No Manimani’s Hoshikuzu No Surround and of course I still prefer the latter.

Overall, if you want a relaxing anime about friendship and moving forward with your dreams, this series could be that motivation to also make you realize that instead of sitting here watching animes and doing nothing, you too can get up and go achieve your dream! Yes, my dream is to watch as many animes as I can so I’m really fine and in the midst of achieving it, thank you. Otherwise, this series is just your another cute girls doing cute things for the season and to some a big yawn fest. The only time when I am consulting the stars is so to predict the lottery number and looking for rocks only in search of gold or precious stones or metals. That’s where the money is! Hey, gotta be a realist too, you know.

Heya Camp

May 1, 2020

Yo! Yo! Hey ‘ya! Hey ‘ya! Wassap my brothers and sisters! How ‘ya all doing today? Just kidding. That’s the impression I got when I heard that is the title of the second season of Yuru Camp, Heya Camp. Technically it means room camping. So does this mean we’re through with the outdoors and now they’re trying to do cheaper camps inside buildings? After all, with the coincidental pandemic of the Corona virus, have to take precautions and stay indoors, avoid as many contact with society and most important of all, wash your hands clean. So are we still going camping or what?

Episode 1
Nadeshiko finds a canned tuna in the room. Is it for food? Suddenly a wild boar enters! Today’s lesson: Canned foods can be used as emergencies to distract wild animals. Of course this is all just a figment of her imagination. It is Chiaki and Aoi who come by. Noticing the canned tuna in her hand, they note it can also make good oil lamps. Later when Nadeshiko shows some houtou food she made, Chiaki believes she has completed the Yamanashi Kids’ Stamp Rally. Haven’t? So what are you waiting for? Visiting various hotspots and collecting the stamps earns one a year’s worth of steamed buns! Let’s go, go, go!!!

Episode 2
First stop for the stamp rally is Mt Fuji centre. After that, the girls eat a dish in the shape of Mt Fuji. It seems the more they eat, it becomes the shape of whatever mountain they recognize it to be. Finally it becomes the shape of Europe’s Matterhorn before finally being devoured. As it is cloudy, they can’t see any of Mt Fuji at all. But seeing that they love Mt Fuji so much, they can imagine its outline and still enjoy the ‘view’. Hey! Is this turning into Yama No Susume???!!!

Episode 3
Now they are biking at Kawaguchi lake. They also meet a biking couple who request their help in taking some photos of them. Once done, they show the girls an album of the sceneries they have been on their bike. Hence the trio after getting their stamp, they wonder if they will look back at the stamp rally like this when they’re grown up. Maybe.

Episode 4
Before we forget about Rin, today’s episode focuses on her day in life. Don’t worry. It won’t take long. After getting up and eating breakfast, she goes to work but gets ‘surprised attacked’ by Saitou’s dog. Saitou keeps Rin accompany at the bookstore. She draws a picture of Nadeshiko. Rin doesn’t find it look anything like her and notes it is just simulacrum (the brain perceiving 3 dots as a face). Then she draws one on Rin. Brings back ‘scary’ memories? Going home, she got ‘surprised attacked’ by a pine cone that flew into her face. Mom is making nabe and looks like grandpa has given them salmon. Rin loves this ‘surprise attack’. As she puts the ingredients into the pot, then a simulacrum face pops up. Surprised?

Episode 5
The girls are taking a tram up to Kachikachi mountain. They talk about the local folklore on how it got its name. It seems there was a race between a rabbit, tanuki and turtle. Sounds familiar? Anyway, the rabbit and tanuki tried to outdo each other like the rabbit trying to annoy the tanuki by snapping flintstones (hence the ‘kachikachi’ noise and thus the name). But eventually both failed and the slow and steady turtle won. Kachi! The girls take pictures with the tanuki and rabbit statue. Hmm… Where’s the turtle? Anyway, after getting their stamp, they enjoy the delicious dango while enjoying the picturesque view.

Episode 6
Heading to their next stamp location, Nadeshiko learns that Aoi and Chiaki aren’t really childhood friends and only met each other in middle school. After getting a stamp at a place with sakura trees, Chiaki remembers this was where she came for her first year at middle school. Then at a bridge, Chiaki further remembers during the summer of their second year at middle school, they were having some fire swinging procession. Yeah, looks dangerous. Aoi accidentally flung it and almost hit Chiaki. That was the moment they actually talked to each other and became friends like how it is today. And then at the vending machine, also more memories of how Chiaki won an extra can and shared it with Aoi. But I guess now they can’t replicate that luck. Oh well, drink still enjoyable, though.

Episode 7
Oh no! Taihen da! Nadeshiko lost that stamp rally sheet! They search everywhere, the possible places she could have lost it but to no avail. All that searching makes them hungry so Chiaki brings them home to make houtou. If you don’t know what this dish is, I guess they try explaining it to us. At least the last time the dry houtou they made at Aoi’s place. Last time Chiaki made hers, mom made it free for all and threw random stuffs into it. Even so, today they’re going to have the freedom to make a freestyle houtou as long as they have the right noodles. Of course with Nadeshiko having a big appetite, this cheers her up a lot. Meanwhile an old biker dude (Rin’s grandpa) finds that stamp rally sheet on the roadside. What kind of guy would literally stop just because some little flyer by the side caught his attention?! Oh yeah. This place is so clean that there is barely any litter…

Episode 8
The trio are now soaking their feet at the footbaths. Wondering why this place is called Golden Feet, Aoi tells of a legend how a pair of golden sandals appeared before a farmer. He tried to walk away with it but was too heavy and left it there. Of course it is a blatant lie but the foreigner seems to love it and wants to hear more! Aoi then smoothly adds more lies that includes some feudal shogun hiding his favourite houtou here. Foreigner even more impressed. So lies are okay if you make them smile? Isn’t that what many lies are?! Hope this won’t come back and bite them later that will eventually lead to tarnishing Japan’s image! Later the trio try some hotspring snack. Nadeshiko then tries to pull a fast one that she has gold instead of raisins inside it. Of course Aoi could tell he lie right away because of her fake Kansai accent but notes they often work better because it sounds softer. Really? Nope. Aoi just lied and pulled another fast one on her!

Episode 9
Chiaki spots a Mt Fuji pattern on an item. This prompts her to ask the question from which angle this mountain was drawn. Based on it, it looks like it is from Yamanashi. One win for Yamanashi! Then they stop at a tuna bowl shop. Aoi explains this item is a featured one in Yamanashi despite it doesn’t border the ocean. In fact, it is Japan’s second largest consumer of tuna. The first being Shizuoka whom it neighbours. This prompts Chiaki to ask Nadeshiko whose side she is on. Of course Nadeshiko can’t choose and loves both places. She feels like she is like Mt Fuji, straddled between both prefectures. Yeah, she’s like the bridge to both places! Enough talking. Let’s go get some tuna bowl. Only, they have no money… :’(.

Episode 10
Chiaki suggests making a camp video. From buying food to trekking to the site. However they stumbled upon something scary! A cult worshipping table cloth???!!! Blair Witch Project this isn’t?! Gotcha. Just one of Chiaki’s lies but it was enough to scare the daylights out of Nadeshiko. When the trio visit the cave, Nadeshiko was awed with the surroundings until she realized her pals aren’t with her. Panicking, she runs out into the woods and almost got lost. Thank goodness for Rin nearby. She hands back the stamp rally sheet. Wow. Did they write their name on it? How did she know it belonged to them? Nadeshiko is glad to have it back. She thought she’d never see this again. All those visits not wasted since they stamped on a different paper so now they can cut it out and stick back here. So is it too late for Rin to join in the stamp rally quest?

Episode 11
The trio are on their last leg in getting the final stamps. The last one is at some outdoor public bath. There. Finished! They then soak in the bath and have a pleasant view of Mt Fuji. Then this is the real shocker: Nadeshiko actually knows that this entire stamp rally was a setup by Chiaki and Aoi! Wow. Such an amazing feat how they rush ahead and try to put together the necessary things. No wonder Nadeshiko spotted them during their ‘assembling’. Of course she doesn’t mind because she gets to go places and taste lots of great food with them. Once they leave, Nadeshiko suggests they should go camping. FINALLY! SOMETHING RELATED!!!

Episode 12
They’re finally camping! Albeit just in their school grounds. Nadeshiko asks why they did the stamp rally in the first place. Well, they’ve been camping nonstop since she moved here so they thought it would be nice to help her familiarize with the area as well as introducing places that they love to hang out. Wow. Nadeshiko almost close to tears. Watch out. Don’t overburn the marshmallow! Nadeshiko thanks them for the nice gesture. As they can’t really camp outside for the night, it’s camping back in their crammed clubroom. Next morning, Nadeshiko has created her own stamp rally and wants them to join her exploring her recommended spots. How sweet. Looks like it has lots more places to explore. Only, Nadeshiko printed the stamps backwards. Wait. How the heck can she print them so fast? More importantly, is this going to be a hiking anime from now on?!

Take A (Yuru) Hike!
When I first realized that this season only had 3 minutes per episode, I was totally in shock. How could they have downgraded a laidback camping series from a full TV length to just a few mere minutes? Why, they feel more like shorts and specials worthy to be included in DVD or BD purchases! What atrocity! I thought this was really a downer. Then I realized after watching finished this season that this isn’t actually the second season of Yuru Camp. The REAL AND ACTUAL season will be scheduled and coming in 2021 and this just some side spinoff. Phew. I thought they really tried to troll us because there is no camping whatsoever at all! Not even in a room! They should call this the hiking show or something. But thankfully, it’s good to know at this point that the REAL AND ACTUAL sequel will be coming next year.

So now that I’ve got that out of the way, the negative essence has subsided a lot. Yup. I was going to give a lot of sarcastic comments and opinions about this short because it didn’t really live up to the fun, casual and relaxing first season. It lacked a lot of things so much so I thought they cut things down and produced it just to make a quick cash grab. After all, the first season has its own charm despite not being a mainstream anime.

Essentially this spinoff sees the trio of mainly Nadeshiko, Chiaki and Aoi going around the Yamanashi prefecture and well, collecting stamps. It feels like one big promotional tour of the prefecture as we can see some of the local attractions as well as food being shown here. Is it visit Yamanashi prefecture year? Or did the local tourism board paid the studio to do this blatant advertising so as to bring in tourists and the money? I’m sure those are just my speculation and made up lies but whatever it is, the promotion was decently done and they didn’t really spam it in our faces to really come and see the place. Looks good. Very picturesque. Maybe one day I’ll visit there. When I have the money to travel, that is! :’(.

It is also weird for this series not to have all the main characters together. One will obviously notice that Rin is sorely missing and not part of the Yamanashi mini tour. It’s like they want to leave her out and make us forget about her as she makes cameos worse than background minor characters. While it is fun to see the trio together, it just feels missing without Aoi. Even more so, Saitou. If this was an actual second season, the criticisms would have been harsher. Not to say I’m giving them a free pass either but it would have been a lot more fun had the quartet (or quintet if Saitou is in) are together and doing fun things.

But it is really mind boggling how Chiaki and Aoi go all out their way to set this mini trip up just for Nadeshiko. My point is that, how fast and far must they travel and do all the bothersome things like setting up the table and desk? It’s just not plausible no matter how I think about it. Even assuming Yamanashi is such a peaceful prefecture and no idiot would be curious enough to mess those unmanned stamp desks, this is still too much mind boggling to process. No wonder Nadeshiko found out and just kept quiet. They’re so cute trying their best to set it all up for her. Now that it is Nadeshiko’s turn, I guess no point hiding it and just let the cat out of the bag. They’re so eager to hike, huh? Well, before one can really camp, one must still hike to the camping site. So I guess hiking is part of camping eventually. Hey wait. So is that year’s worth of steamed buns a real reward or not?! Oh well. I’m sure they got something more everlasting than that. Yeah. But still… Steamed buns…

One of the great things this season is the ending theme, The Sunshower by Asaka. It sounds like a great country music and that feeling of wanting to lie down on the grass and just enjoy the rest of the nice weathered day go by. This song definitely makes my day. No opening theme here since this spinoff is so short. Oh yeah. You remember that Jackson 5’s spoof of I Want You Back? Yeah, same singer. Now she’s going for a more calming country style music. Hmm… I have this feeling I heard this tune somewhere but I just can’t place my finger on it… Maybe it is just me thinking too much.

This spinoff doesn’t bring much to the table and it felt like they trolled those who were expecting some sort of camping but instead we got hiking and sightseeing. Yup, no camping tips and tricks here. Even if this feels a lot lacking, it still has its own cute and calming charm that should prepare us when the REAL AND ACTUAL second season finally arrives on our shores. Hey at least the girls got out and experience the natural fresh air and seeing places. Unlike us lazy otakus ‘camping’ in front of our comfy chair and comfy room watching (not necessarily comfy) animes. Is this what true Heya Camp really is?!

Tesagure! Bukatsumono

October 13, 2019

Atarashii! Something new! NOT! For some reasons, Tesagure! Bukatsumono is supposed to be the kind of anime that I would definitely have put it on my watch list but never managed to do so. I don’t know how I missed this series that aired way back in 2013 but I guess many years later my random search on the internet over what potential ‘past’ animes to watch led me to stumble upon this. The plot is just about a group of girls talking about the common and generic tropes of clubs and giving their new ideas about it. Yeah… Sounds boring… Maybe that’s why I skipped it… But since here I am now, perhaps those new ideas might sound interesting and funny.

Episode 1
Yua Suzuki, Hina Satou and Aoi Takahashi are trying to recruit members for their club. They contemplate of letting a normal boy join to turn into some harem but by doing so means they can’t do girly things anymore and it will be awkward. Hence they snag Koharu Tanaka to join. She didn’t even know how the heck she ended up joining either. She is still unsure to join this one as it was her goal to join her club but after seeing so many presentations, all of them were boring so she isn’t sure anymore. The rest explain this club is for her and is different than the rest. They don’t have anything in particular to do so they think of the things they want to do via trial and error. Hence they are like groping to do things and testing to see if they are interesting. Thus tesagure bukatsubu literally meaning a groping club. Now that Koharu is convinced to stay, they brainstorm their first activity. They think up the first things that come to mind about baseball. All the cliché stuffs like how the main characters act and look as well as how such typical baseball tournament stories go. Then they come up with new rules for a new baseball club. That rule is flexibility. So it’s like anything goes? From what they should do after winning and their dress to the cheerleaders, speak your mind, girls. Then they experiment with blind baseball by calling clones of Mobuko Sonota to join in as the opposing team. The players are blindfolded but are guided by directions by their teammates who aren’t playing. Just like that traditional blindfolded watermelon splitting. Safe to say, they fail badly. Oops, did they break a window? Blaming bad instructions, huh?

Episode 2
The girls visit Koharu’s class to find out where she sits. Since she sits in front and in the middle, they thought she was supposed to be the main character because main characters always sits next to the window! Koharu worries when they mention they can read her thoughts. In the clubroom, Koharu discovers the club isn’t official. They submit every year but it gets rejected. But of course. So they’re operating illegally? Anyway, just like last episode, they brainstorm about football. All the clichés and stereotypes of football in anime and manga. Then they come up with new rules for the sport that includes carrying the goalpost to the ball and digging holes?! It’s time to experiment with it so they call Mobuko to help out. It is revealed that they are all sisters! Must be one horny dad to f*ck his mom and give birth to sextuplets for 3 consecutive years!!! Anyway, today’s football rule is that when you receive the ball, you must recite a haiku. Not sure if the poem isn’t any good you can get a yellow card by the referee?! And even if the goalkeeper catches the ball but a bad haiku means it is considered a goal?! Weird. Thankfully real football doesn’t follow this.

Episode 3
Koharu tries to pinpoint the typical and cliché anime girls in their school like twins with opposite personalities and the rich girl. However the rest point out they are totally not and just normal people. But I guess Mobuko’s the exception… This time the club in discussion is shogi. They dispense their views on the game before imposing the usual new rules. They include the pieces acting as a wish plate, moving a piece with a non-dominant hand and the pieces themselves having some sort of drama like the generals on both sides are actually going out with each other! As they prepare for the experiment, Koharu learns that despite not being an official club, thanks to Yua being in many other clubs, she has influence and thus their club has a clubroom. This means Yua has also got some clubs to create a giant shogi board and pieces. The twist of this game is that Twister rules are incorporated. Yeah, it’s damn hard to play with your ass blocking that space! Weird positions! You lose if you can’t maintain your position. Truly, this game isn’t for the weak!

Episode 4
When Koharu learns that Yua is also the student council vice president, she starts worried about her school life since her perception on them as well as the disciplinary committee is strict people. Her friends dispel that misconception and that they are actually nice people. Koharu feels relieved and is amazed to see them having colourful hairstyles like main characters. Later Koharu worries that because their club is only all girls, people might get the wrong impression. The rest then start to tease her that they may just be yuri and start getting yuri on her! Don’t get your hopes up on a foursome… Next they discuss about the tea club. Like before, their views on what they think the club is like before making their own rules such as putting in milk and bowls that look like pantsu! Then the rest seem to pester Yua to do something about the tea club but she jokingly denies and doesn’t want to do it. Eventually she does a weird cha-cha dance?

Episode 5
This is inevitable. The topic about boobs! Or at least their uniforms make it so their boobs are protruding. This is more obvious to those with big busts like Hina so for those washboards like Aoi, better keep praying harder. So which club will be today’s victim? The cycling club. Their usual views on it like their uniform and the typical and cliché cycling tournament. And the new rules they come up with include having to bang their thighs with each other like butt sumo (WTF is this gay piece of sh*t?!) and cycling with heavy weights attached to their bikes. Aoi somewhat ‘wins’ as the best rule since she makes a pun of coins dropping and bicycle (both pronounced as ‘chari’).

Episode 6
We jump straight into the girls talking about the wind instrument club. Lots of clichés about characters in this club like siblings, harems, ex-girlfriends, indirect kissing, superhero suits and rich loli magical girls?! Are they serious?! And those are all their ideas and not new rules yet? So the new rules they come up include blowing while having hay fever, only waving sticks, playing inside a pool (a pun for suisou as both wind instruments and water tank sound the same) and spooning while playing the instrument. Everyone later tries blowing a wind instrument and as expected, they all suck. If it was a real weapon, it could really kill…

Episode 7
The cafeteria is crowded and the queue is long because shortage of workers and the new cafeteria lady is unsure of the pricing. Wow. Aoi telling her off what the real prices are? In the clubroom, the girls discuss about the newspaper club. All its cliché perceptions of its characters to the girl who has a crush on the protagonist and the guy who always has the latest scoop. Of course the moral dilemma of exposing the truth. Eventually it is all just a dream of the protagonist’s father? New rules for the club include reporters need to get special training to post comments, using more emoji and having adult content. Later the girls experiment with karuta. The twist is that they must quickly pick out an embarrassing picture of them taken secretly. Is it me or are there a lot of secret embarrassing Koharu pictures? Because of that, she couldn’t snatch a single photo and Aoi is the winner with the most.

Episode 8
Maid cafes are a staple in school cultural festival. With so many around, they realize they all come from the same chain. Is this a franchise? The girls talk about the tennis club. The weird scoring system and the strange ways they use the racquet. They also talk about the clichés of tennis clubs in anime like how everyone looks like an adult and that’s why the protagonist looks like a kid with hidden talents and all. As for the new rules, they include having a sudden death match with only a single point scored, wearing embarrassing and used panties while playing and putting vinegar on their hands as sterilization (a word pun based on tennis) while those on the bench make sushi.

Episode 9
The theatre club isn’t spared. Their perceptions on it include the club having national tournaments like sports clubs and extra actors for minor parts get weird credited nicknames. Clichés in anime include the protagonist memorizing all her lines after reading the script once and there is a direct correlation in her improving acting skill as well as her real life romance. New rules for the club include everyone having to repeat their lines twice hence making the play twice as long, the audience never sympathizing with the heroine and all actors continue to put up and act to hide their real personalities even during rehearsals. Yua has lots more on her list but it’s too dangerous and the rest just vetoed her ideas. Later they try acting out on stage. Wow. So dramatic. So funny. So lame… No wonder Koharu feels embarrassed at the end of the play.

Episode 10
The cliché moment of a couple always getting stuck in the gym storeroom after the last person locks it. Hence that is why when Yua and co pass by, it is a rule that the next person who passes by must unlock it. True enough, a couple comes out thanking them. In the clubroom, the girls discuss about idioms that contain eyes and mouth. Aoi seems to be particularly unimpressed that eye idioms have more positive connotation that the mouth idioms. So they substitute both parts to make new idioms and then make a hero story that is based on mouth idioms. With everyone getting really creative with the mouth idioms, it leaves poor Koharu so confused because the hero sounds and acts like a typical villain! And Aoi doesn’t even care anymore. Before we forget today’s episode we haven’t talk about a club yet, this time they talk about themselves which is basically the slice of life club. No need further introductions so let’s get down to the new rules. When Yua suggests she is God, Koharu misinterprets that she has died! Certainly not the punchline or answer everyone was expecting! I guess that’s enough for today. Later they experiment with scavenger hunt shiritori. They are to bring items to the hall. Yeah, they really bring in weird items including strangers. Koharu so confused…

Episode 11
The girls tease Koharu aloud that she might wear panties with holes. Oh my. Did that guy hear it? Yua even goes over to tell him all about it but it seems he didn’t catch all that. That’s because the cliché of main character guys will never know girls’ secret! To further prove it, they tell him more of Koharu’s embarrassing stuffs and he still doesn’t get it. But Koharu still embarrassed… For this special edition, Mobuko joins the club as a guest. This time they talk about the astronomy club. So mysterious that they don’t even know where it is located. New rules include lovers must address each other as Hikoboshi and Orihime and everyone must make their appearance with a comet trail. I guess the club is so mysterious and nothing to talk about that they have time to talk about another club: Cheerleading club. Tight shoelaces, hairstyles and leaving pom pom strands all over. New rules include doing cheerleading in the most unlikely of places like funerals and courtrooms, using pom poms as powder for armpits and wearing loose panties that might fly all over during their cheerleading. I’m sure that will earn them lots of points! The audience will definitely cheer harder!

Episode 12
With Yua and Hina graduating, Koharu notes it will be just the 2 of them. But Aoi notes this club will always have 4 people. When the seniors return, they pack their stuffs and Koharu stumbles into an album containing application forms with weird names. It seems those are failed applications for their club and were always rejected because they couldn’t decide what the club is supposed to be. Then they ask if Koharu has found a club she wanted to join. Well, despite finding it hard to keep up with them, she somewhat finds it fun. Koharu learns that the club’s only rule is to go through trial and member to figure out what the new members want to do. Hence that is why they talk about creating new rules for clubs. Yua hands over the presidency to Aoi while Hina hands over her vice presidency to Koharu. However Koharu cannot accept all this. After hearing all that, there is no way she can be the vice president of this crazy club. This club will not do without Yua and Hina. She begs them not to graduate. This heart breaking scene only reminds them about themselves as they too did this to their graduating seniors. Damn, I thought this would be comedy but now it’s turned into a tearjerker after this big emotional group hug. Hence Yua suggests creating new rules for this tesagure club that includes everyone must laugh at the president’s proposal and everyone acting like Koharu. They note that even though it is sad not to have Koharu around, they prefer to have the one and only Koharu instead of multiple clones. And so Yua and Hina graduate. Aoi and Koharu’s first role is to fill up the application form for the club. Why not call it tesagure club? That’s something new that nobody has thought about.

Encore

Not enough tesagure for you? Don’t despair. Here’s the second season with more ideas coming your way!

Episode 1
We hear Koharu narrate the meaning of her name and the reason why she wanted to join a club. It’s basically a summary of the first season as she also introduces her other club members and their personalities as well as highlighting some of the things they talk then. Now it is time for Yua and Hina to hand over their presidency and vice presidency respectively to Aoi and Koharu. Some last words and also the logic behind the creation of this club was always to find something and to focus on who the members spent time with rather than how they spent their time. Just like history repeating itself, Koharu doesn’t want to graduate and everybody starts crying in a big group hug. OMG. I thought this was supposed to be a comedy and not a tearjerker!!! Again! During recruitment day, Aoi is slacking as Koharu tries to wake her up and warn her other clubs might steal their potential members. And then Aoi starts ranting about the clichés in manga that characters don’t age and that they should follow this trope. What does this mean? It means they’re bringing back Yua and Hina to the club! I guess that’s why they also called this season ‘Encore’.

Episode 2
Since they’re really going down with this repeat route, they talk about the discrepancies and inconsistencies from various sources and media. Hence the most common ‘acceptable’ excuse is of course parallel world! Also, because there were requests for less animation for this episode, hence our girls will be less animated and having less movements. Enjoy your lame slideshow. The girls talk about the stereotypes of the basketball club before moving on to their new rules that include the referee blowing his whistle randomly and for weird reasons as well as everyone wearing loose trousers and the game turns into dodgeball when some music is played.

Episode 3
They’re going to do less animation for this episode too! Yeah, it’s alright as long as they can make it through. All though there will be slightly more animation this time, you will notice how they used recycled scenes from past episodes and sometimes the art gets very sketchy and no colour. Anyway, they talk about the judo club. Yeah, the club with smelly men. Not sure how they go about making puns of names before going on to make new rules like they have to put their full name on the uniform, giving cute names to all the painful moves and wearing nipple stickers the same colour as the belt. Later they experiment by making judo clothes that are hard to grab. One is too slippery because it is made of eel! And shocking too! Another is made of tissue paper! It’s breaking up! Too bad we can’t see any of this because remember, less animation. We’re stuck outside the gym and relying on our power of imagination!

Episode 4
Arts club. Yeah. Those talented nerds. They discuss the different types of people in arts club which we might find cliché and typical in anime and manga. As they move on to the new rules, because Hina makes some incomprehensible pun, the rest find it really hard to understand. WTF, butt drawing? It took a while for her to explain and this only worsens the pun, making Hina ‘mad’. I guess it took up too much time so let’s go over to the experiment. They will be playing shiritori but using art. Uh huh. They must guess what that drawing is and draw their answer. Unfortunately their drawings are so freaking abstract that you will never be able to guess! Yeah, maybe they are just bad artists. Koharu is the only art whom they are able to guess because she is simple. After double checking the real answers, it seems by coincidence that all their artworks are coincidentally shiritori related! So this is real art? So when it is Koharu’s turn, her simple art is guessable but unfortunately she lost. Shinkansen…

Episode 5
Volleyball club. A bunch of masochists, right? After mentioning the few types of typical volleyball characters, they move on to the new rules such as the players wearing ballet dancers’ uniform, allowing players to pick up the ball that has touched the ground for 3 seconds and using human heads as the ball. WTF?! For the experiment, the volleyball game they play has a twist. There are building blocks of cities on each side of the court. They must return the ball while defending their city! If the buildings get destroyed, they lose points! Safe to say, Koharu’s side decimated their own city with all the reckless moves. And if they’re too careful, they’re too slow to return the ball. And Mobuko’s side is like having extreme dexterity and flexibility. None of their buildings were demolished! I know who to call to protect my city when a kaiju appears.

Episode 6
Broadcasting club. Stereotypes about the people in the club. They even take the chance to blatantly promote their soundtrack. When they talk about the different types of main characters in such club and the stammering they usually have, Hina acts them all out. For the new rules, looks like they only have time to hear Koharu’s idea of everyone speaking with squeaky voice after inhaling helium gas. That’s because everyone is so amused with Koharu’s ‘ability’ to imitate her helium gas voice that they want her to continue imitating it. Is this going to be her regular character from now on? Don’t think so.

Episode 7
Koharu thinks that this school is safe because of the surveillance cameras around. Until the rest points out its special features of shooting white beams. They demonstrate by flipping Koharu’s skirt, here’s your white beam censor! Damn, the girls must really feel so safe! Except Koharu. She gets violated as the rest keeps flipping her skirt. Hey, at least security is working. What do you think about the rugby club? Burly idiots! They discuss the absurd rules since they are unfamiliar with it. Also a gender bender rugby club filled with stereotypic cliché girls. New rules for the club include when a tackle is made, a hug must be given. Hence name change to hugby!!! Then they go on talking about balls and the players being gay…

Episode 8
Not a club this time. They talk about the cultural festival and its clichés. So when they talk about its new rules, the only idea came about is locusts descending on the festival. Because the rest of the time they are talking what locusts and other types of bugs are. Just keep the place clean! During the festival, because coincidentally all the members of the light music club is out, our girls have to substitute them. Do they even know how to play instruments? Well, they start talking jokes and puns, turning this concert into a stand-up comedy show. Hey, as long everyone is laughing. They end this with a song. But because they can’t play the instruments, they play the CD while pretending to mash their instruments. I guess the fun part is just singing the lyrics. So it’s like an idol concert? But holding instruments? And Aoi is like when she lost her drumsticks, she just starts banging the cymbals around like a monkey. Having fun, aren’t we?

Episode 9
Koharu wants to buy a birthday gift for a friend but doesn’t know much about her. Hence the rest suggests asking the best friend of the main character. Because he knows everything! The girls talk about the quiz club. Yeah, why to smart people always wear glasses? The interesting part comes from them creating a romantic comedy story in which all questions are given several multiple choice answers. So how will the story end? A) Good ending; B) Bad ending; C) All this is just a dream; D) Series cancelled! As for the new rules, Yua suggests everyone has to answer in a very shy and embarrassed way. Then she tries to bait Hina into saying some embarrassing words but that girl has some wisecrack answers and a tough nut to crack.

Episode 10
Starting on a different note, the girls try to answer Yua’s riddles but most of them end up as puns. This leads to the origin of the riddles especially that famous sphinx one. You know, the creature that changes the number of legs throughout the day and the answer is man. Because of the ambiguous choice of words, the reason why many don’t get the right answer. Hence they reword it in a simpler and more understandable way that makes the answer way easier to guess. However the question and task itself becomes boring. I guess they chatted too much on this and realize they haven’t talk about any clubs yet. Not really a club this time as they talk about the sports festival and immediately comes up with new rules. One of them being items must be very hard to obtain. Because Koharu gave degenerate answers, the rest believes she has been broken since joining this club and this means she’ll do fine when a new person joins the club! For the experiment, Yua combines riddles with sports day. When she asks a riddle, they’re supposed to pick an answer from several sketches. All wrong! I guess it is harder than it seems.

Episode 11
Are school teachers always this young? Only in anime! And why are they always single and love getting drunk? They go directly ask one and although she confirms all that, she lets in another secret: She is a lesbian! Oh Koharu, you mean to look so shock? With Mobuko and her sisters joining in this session, they talk about the kendo club. It leads to them giving them different nicknames and the only new rule is to fight with bamboo swords soaked in boiling water. Then they discuss about the rakugo club in which instead of having a storyteller play all characters, each character is played by a different person. Also, instead of the story finishing in one telling, spread it out into 12 different stories!

Episode 12
We go back to a year before when the club was headed by Mio. With Yua and Hina, they were recruiting members. Mio spotted Aoi sitting alone and invited her to join but Aoi will not join any clubs whatsoever as she views them as stupid. She thinks all those relationships between club members are fake. Just people pretending to be friends. But of course, Mio dragged her to join the club. So Mio cut her a deal that they will find something to do in the club that isn’t stupid and in turn Aoi agreed to join and try out for a year. Man, that’s a long time. But it got off on a bad start as Aoi realizes the club’s name sounds really stupid… But as we can see, Aoi slowly joins the ‘stupid’ conversation like girls in her class being cliché and stereotypical (for instance, girls being fat) and making new rules for the amusement park. Eventually Mio graduates and she hands over the leadership to Yua. As for Aoi, she didn’t care if the club was stupid or not. Thinking if something is stupid or not seemed stupid now. Is she saying she has also become stupid? Just kidding. But Mio’s parting philosophical ways about freedom and acceptance has everyone crying hard. Especially Aoi. She realizes this is the first place who accepted her for who she is. Because if you accept everyone as they are, they will learn to accept you for who you are! So deep! OMG. I thought this was supposed to be a comedy and not a tearjerker!!! Yet again!!! Aoi doesn’t want Mio to graduate but alas she leaves her in the capable hands of Yua and Hina. It will be their turn to create a place for someone else. In present time, our girls are now doing another recruitment drive. Koharu is still nervous and panicky but Aoi, she’s a cool cat. Just do whatever you want!

Purupurun Sharumu To Asobu

Well, technically they didn’t do a third season but this is still a third season if you consider this spinoff as one. And what better way than to add more characters and to double the running time equivalent to your standard anime.

Episode 1
Aoi and Koharu are trying to recruit new members. Because Aoi’s dream is to do a collaboration anime, hence they pull back Yua and Hina for another season! Thanks to the publisher having bigger budget and their airtime has increased, they think they can get away by calling this a spinoff. After all, in the end everything will be just a dream, right?! So folks, meet our Apprentice Goddesses of Purupurun Charm. Their anime hasn’t been adapted yet but their casts have already been chosen. So this is also part of a collaboration to make Charm achieve their goal to become an anime? So they start things off by trying to plan what to do for each episode. It is going to be tough since the Charm side have different schedules, considering their seiyuus are popular. After briefly introducing themselves, they then discuss about how to talk to each other. Hence it turns out with everyone suggesting Koharu talk politely to everybody from now on. Must she change her character? They also discuss what kind of show Charm should do. So it’s like going to copy tesagure style? After all, remember they can just brush it off as a dream. So to start off the next segment by falling asleep so they can start Charm’s segment. This is a dream, right? And here it is, Purupurun Charm, 5 girls with elemental powers who bring harmony to the universe that includes parallel worlds existing within the same dimension. But we see Rin Arisugawa narrating her normal high school life with friends, Hiina Usami and Kanon Izayoi. Yui Enjouji is their senior and she loves to tease Kanon because of her short stature. Joining in their discussion is Tomomi Okonogi, a half Russian who arrives in a tank. So what they discuss about? Female type battle robots! Even having new rules for them like being flirted via wall slam and taking custody of their kids. Hiina loves walls slam and has Rin act it out with her? Then it is back to the original tesagure quartet as they think what else to do with this collaboration. So they think of a new one frame slice of life manga. With an empty speech bubble, they make adlib speeches for it but mostly talk about boobs.

Episode 2
Our tesagure girls talk with their Charm counterparts about their debut. They give their mix comments about this unique yet lazy adlib system. In order to give everyone a proper introduction and since a normal highlight episode would be just boring, they suggest doing it via musical style. But first with start off with our Charm girls discussing various topics like the kind of goddess they would like to become and the things they would like to do now. Then they get a cue to talk about the gymnastics club. A few awkward moments as they try to discuss new rules for it. Yeah, probably they’re beginners so we let them off the hook. But it gets awkward as Rin keeps mistaking Hiina for Tomomi so much so she has to be reminded before she does it again. Now we return to the tesagure girls. New viewers, don’t worry if you don’t know what the show is all about as it is done in a musical fashion! However the scenes and dialogues aren’t new. What they do is take an excerpt from a previous episode, the girls read their lines by singing it in a strange musical fashion. From tennis club to newspaper club to rugby club and arts club, now do you understand what this anime is all about? And if you want to sing along with them, just in case the songs are all sung in E Major. So just to let you know, okay?

Episode 3
The girls talk how this third collaboration is most important as the Charm side relay their thoughts on the first 2. It is also a blatant chance by the tesagure girls to promote and sell this anime’s DVDs. The Charm girls discuss about each other’s strong points before discussing new ideas for a job interview. This leads to them acting out a reverse pressure job interview in which the interviewee puts back the pressure by counter questioning the interviewer. They even try it out with Kanon and Hiina being quite the pro. Back to our tesagure girls, this time they talk about the table tennis club. Since a lot of rules overlap with the tennis club, hence it is perfect for this spinoff. Today’s discussion is slightly different as they borrow the table tennis’ table and they discuss things while they play. But they end up laughing most of the time and can’t play well. Then they just sit down and talk about the new rules for the club that includes using ping pong balls as bubbles in a public bath and the net caught a boar or tuna. Even more interesting, Playboy bunny girls use their stockings as net and keep the ball warm in their cleavage! Is this some sort of special themed brothel?

Episode 4
The girls are now thinking of doing a song collaboration and their own character songs. The Charm girls talk about Hina’s new Smartphone followed by new things in their life. This irks Kanon since Yui and Tomomi are bragging about their new growth in boobs and height respectively. Later when Yui can’t attend the meeting, Yua sits in for her as they talk about new things for a villa. Ideas include having 30 toilets, the walls and roof are see-through and everybody who lives there are naked. Back to the tesagure girls, because the school is going to have a new school song and hence encouraging students to submit lyrics, first they talk about ideas for a new school song like deer gathering when you start singing and the teacher got so into playing the music that he would end up smashing the instrument. We then hear how the school song plays out before the quartet list down words they want to say and fit into it as lyrics. It’s like they want to incorporate everything so yeah, the song’s lyrics turn out to weird. Very weird. From hot guys running around in this paradise to survival of the fittest and a strange confession scene. Sure you girls aren’t writing lyrics for some dramatic pop music? Yeah, nobody wants to be caught dead singing this during the opening ceremony!

Episode 5
With last week’s Yui sitting in, they girls now think of shuffling themselves for this adlib collaboration. But we start off with the Charm girls first. Rin is having problems studying so the rest chip in to try and help her to study. But as expected, Rin can’t focus as she wants something sweet and eventually falls asleep. I don’t think dreaming is going to help her do her homework. Later, Mio and Hina replace Yui and Tomomi as they discuss about new field trips. Mio has trouble reading kanji so not so sure about the hypnotic field trip she is talking about. Then there’s also stores that sell souvenirs run by teachers so they can pocket the extra income and students are divided into some kind of order for the field trip. Next, the tesagure girls visit the haunted house. Surprisingly, it is Aoi who is very scared and clinging on to Hina for dear life while the rest are like laughing their asses off over the great props and actors. Yeah, really weird and funny. Back at the clubroom, they are joined by Yua and Mobuko as they discuss new ideas for a haunted house that includes a haunted house like a giant maze, ghosts announcing beforehand that they’ll pop up to scare you and a hot male ghost who escorts you all the way. Sorry, no hot girl ghost if you’re a guy. You still get a hot male ghost escort.

Episode 6
With the success of last week’s shuffling, Yua wants the shuffling to continue in this episode. To add to the fun, they’re going to add collaborative character songs. But first, we see Rin having a toothache. With Hiina giving advice on how to deal with it, I guess Yui eating her sweets on behalf isn’t going to do any good. They talk about other oral hygiene care before Yua and Aoi replace Tomomi and Kanon to discuss new dentist rules that include the dentist grinding away your budget, the dentist says “Tooth” in every sentence, the drill used is of the multiplication kind and a female dentist having large boobs in your face and hence den-tits. The tesagure girls ride the Ferris Wheel at the amusement park. Hina has fear of heights and thinks this is unsafe. You mean the roller coaster is safer because it has seatbelts? As their carriage reach the top, it is clear that Hina is not feeling too well. The wind is blowing hard and the other girls take this chance to tease her like hell like rubbing her thighs since she is being a quiet girl. Then Yua tries to pretend to be her boyfriend and calm her but it just made it worse. Kanon and Tomomi join the tesagure girls to discuss about new Ferris Wheel ideas. This includes each carriage is equipped with amazing equipment like a shelter, saying gondola many times fast turns it into a dragon (it’s a pun, try it), you can’t ride it without being introduced or referred by someone and riding to the highest point allows one to see all hidden things going on that one is not able to see normally like the staff rooms.

Episode 7
For the first time, all of the girls are here at the same time to record a collaboration. Since they can’t do a swimsuit fanservice, Hina suggests some werewolf kind of fanservice. You know, some yuri girl turns into a werewolf AKA Yuriwolf to terrorize the other girls in the dorm? Not one but 2 Yuriwolves! In this Danganronpa style trial, we see all the girls (minus Tomomi) having a trial and discussion to pick out the Yuriwolf. Based on initial votes, the suspicions fall on Kanon. As they deliberate, we hear them all saying they love men or something like that. It sounds like everyone is picking on Mobuko as she emotionally tries to rebuke all their accusations. Once the trial is over, the one with the highest vote is ejected from the trial. That person is Kanon! One night passes and it seems the Yuriwolf’s victim is Mobuko. Hence the next day’s trial resumes with Koharu now being a suspect. More deliberation and accusations. Yeah, keep asserting you like men… Because of that, everybody gangs up and even voices out to vote out Koharu! So it is no surprising she gets ejected from the trial. Now, if both Kanon and Koharu were the Yuriwolves, there would be no more victims and the game won. However when night falls, Yui has become a victim. Hence the trial resumes and now the suspicions fall on Yua.

Episode 8
The trial continues with more deliberation. This time, there seems to be an argument over Aoi and Hiina being the fortune teller. And both are trying to make their case that they are the genuine fortune teller since they did some readings on the fortunes of other girls. When the votes are in, Aoi and Hiina have the same number so both are given a little more time to speak and make their case. In the end, it is Hiina is voted out. If Hiina was the Yuriwolf, the game would end and the girls win. But that night it is Hina who gets taken out by the Yuriwolf. Therefore the trial continues with Rin now being suspected. Obviously we see Yua and Aoi ganging up on her and even voicing out they’ll vote her out. And yes, Rin is booted out. With Yua and Aoi left, it is announced that the Yuriwolf team wins! The truth is revealed: The Yuriwolves are Aoi and Koharu! The fortune teller is Hiina. The girls discuss and go over things and we see that Aoi is a pretty smart and scheming girl, befitting her Yuriwolf role. From what I understand, she eliminates all the smart ones first and leaves the dumb ones in the end! Is that insulting to Yua and Rin?! It’s one reason why she took out Hina so that Yua can somewhat side with her. Yeah, some club. As for when Koharu was eliminated (it is said she was unanimously voted out), why did Aoi not cover for her? Nah, she was useless and never needed her at all! Damn she’s scary and badass! With some time left in this episode, it is revealed this Yuriwolf version we just saw is the second one. There was an earlier and first version hence we are shown a digest version of it. It’s a bit crude and less refined than the second one we see. Not sure who the Yuriwolves are since they teased the extra materials might be shown on BDs. But I theorize since Aoi was taken out early in the game, maybe that’s why she sounded so scheming in the latter.

Episode 9
Due to the success of the Yuriwolf episode, this time they’re going to take it easy. So, back to normal chatting? They talk about the movie they saw last night and this leads to Kanon revealing she has never been to the cinema as she doesn’t want others interrupting her show and Tomomi aiming to go watch movies alone and pick a time where nobody is around. So the Charm girls decide to go watch a movie together. Hiina is trying to hold back her tears but to her surprise it is Tomomi who started crying. The rest? They fell asleep! Yua and Koharu replace Tomomi and Rin as they give new ideas for movies like screening 2 movies side by side, soaked chairs and chairs that become toilet seats if you need to answer the call of nature. The tesagure girls are at the zoo. They are amused at a pair of meerkats interacting one another. Are they making out?! Keep snapping those cute little critters till your folder is full of meerkat photos! Only Aoi and Tomomi are present at today’s discussion as they talk about ideas for a new zoo like animals having boring names and the zookeeper keeps throwing dung. Aoi being Aoi seems to make Tomomi laugh a lot as well as confusing her so Aoi admits she is somewhat shallow and superficial and her words don’t really have deep meaning. Are we supposed to be amazed?

Episode 10
The beauty salon cut Kanon’s bangs too short and so she’s mad and will do what it takes to shut it down! Calm down. The rest try to give words of encouragement but they said too much and eventually it just depresses her. Yua and Hina sit in for Kanon and Hiina to discuss new rules for a beauty salon that include a slot machine that determines your hairstyle, the hairdresser has a short temper, the hair iron is a sandwich making machine and everyone is naked while giving shampoo. The tesagure girls visit a farm. Everyone is so admiring the cute chicks until it starts pooping on their hands. Still cute, though. Then they visit the horse who coincidentally has the same name as Aoi. Yeah, some teasing on which Aoi they’re calling. And Hina ‘bullying’ the horse by trolling it and not giving its food. Kanon and Hiina join the tesagure girls to discuss new rules for a zoo. But this format will be different and will be played out via cards and haiku. The first 2 lines are determined by picking out a card. Then each of them will finish off the 3rd line with their card in hand. Hilarity ensues. So we have horse riding, some Indian elephant, a zookeeper and some dirty joke summary? Probably sometimes the meaning is so random that they find it funny.

Episode 11
With nobody’s schedule lining up this week, Yua notes that everyone’s lines were recorded separately buy edited together. Hence they think of a new dubbing collaboration. One whereby they show old footage but add new voice recordings. But it won’t just be any normal voice recordings. They will be given a theme or separated into categories and those who fall into that will do the voice over in that particular way. For example, those with light coloured hair will talk like a heavy metal shouting while those with dark hair talk like an old woman without dentures. Hence the entire episode despite having recycled footages, the way the tesagure and Charm girls narrate their lines in different modes is refreshing and of course funny to hear. In the end, the last recording has them do the style they like the most that they have done.

Episode 12
Mio hosts this first (and last) Tesagure Grand Prix, the girls will be divided into groups and face off in an individual comic dialogue contest. The winner of each block will advance to the finals and Mio will also pick 2 other losers to join in the finals in which the ultimate winner will receive money as well as something to commemorate her as the main character of the series. In the first block we have Rin, Yua, Yui and Koharu. Tomomi is absent. The topic is to mention the 8th mystery of the school that barely missed the cut to become part of the 7 legendary mysteries of the school. After a few weird ideas, the winner is Koharu. Surprise?! In the second block, we have Aoi, Hiina, Mobuko and Kanon. Surprisingly, Hina is unable to attend because she is sick. Yeah, Aoi already calling her out for faking her illness (note, she isn’t). The theme is the cafeteria lady looking down on you because of some situation. But this theme is so boring that even Aoi calls for the 8th mystery one. I suppose she wants to get the poop jokes off her chest… The winner of this block goes to Hiina. Surprise?! Aoi calls it rigged until Mio chooses her as one of the losers to advance. Not rigged now, huh? Also somehow Tomomi is also picked. In this final face off, they hear a song sample in which they must fill in the remaining lyrics. In the end, the winner goes to… Koharu! Surprise! My opinion is that she could have sealed the win by breaking the fourth wall with a song that this series is about to end. A fitting ending theme for an ending theme? So the final scene shows Koharu waking up in a classroom and noting she is still the new girl after all this time. Is that how she becomes the main character?

Trash Talking At Its Finest
So… Uhm… Did they miss out discussing about the archery club? What about the hockey club? Not even the chess club, huh? Well then… So… Uhm… That’s it? No more new ideas outside the school clubs too, huh? I guess there is a limit to everything then. That’s why they didn’t talk about politics and give new ideas for it. Heh. Don’t want to earn the bad side of those people in power, huh? Yeah, also we don’t want current culture politics permeating and seeping into our animes!

It is with mixed feelings if I should say I enjoyed the series. First of all, there is obviously no plot so everything hinges on the dialogue on the characters. And you know me, after years and years of watching Japanese anime, I’m still having trouble with my Japanese vocabulary. Yeah, this is even watching it with subtitles. I doubt there would be a dub version of this because it would really be a pain in the ass as many of the conversations would be lost in translation. Not that I would even think of watching a dub. But anyway, what I am trying to say is that even with subtitles, I am still struggling to understand what the girls are trying to say. Meaning, I don’t really get what they mean. Sure, some are funny and made me laugh but at other times I am just left scratching my head to just comprehend what it means.

As you would have known, this series is totally adlib. There is no particular script to follow as we hear the seiyuus talk to their heart’s content on whatever the theme and topic of the episode was. But sometimes there are some parts which I do feel like it sounded like as though it is scripted. I could be entirely wrong and even so, this proves that the seiyuus are just as talented in making it sound natural and so while my puny ears and brain can’t seem to pick up and tell the difference between natural adlibbing and scripted. Not sure if the adlibbing talent is perfected but the same anime studio went on to produce Himote House back in 2018. That was also another anime that was based on adlibbing rather than from a script.

As for the ideas that they discuss in each episode, sometimes I feel that they aren’t really ideas. How should I put this? The new ideas are just supplementary to what is already existing. For instance an example of my own, waiters serving customers should now all tell jokes. Sure, that itself is an idea but it is not like it is to improve customer service or the waiting profession. So how is this an idea for a new waiter/waitress of a restaurant? See what I mean? Of course in the end, these are all just jokes and not meant to be taken seriously. But what I am trying to say is that they are more trash talking than brainstorming. Whatever pops up in their mind, they just say it. Anything goes. While some are funny, like I have said, some are mind boggling and this is even true because sometimes this new idea leaves the other girls stumped and the one who present the idea has to somewhat explain it further so the rest could understand. So it’s not like the ideas is new, it is just that they are ridiculous and absurd, hence no sane person would really think about it unless they want to come up with some twisted joke.

Aside from talking about culture clubs and sports, the spinoff tries to bring something new and discuss other things outside of school (I wonder if the visit to the haunted house, amusement park and zoo are also adlib). While this is refreshing, I still find the Yuriwolf game to be the most interesting and exciting of all the other ‘boring’ discussions. The only problem was yet again, my inability to understand some of the things that they discussed. I was trying to piece together what they’re saying and never really got a chance to even make a guess who the Yuriwolves were. I know I could have paused and think but nah, that might ruin the experience. WTF did I just say… Even though they tried their best to expand and prolong it to 2 episodes, the game mechanics I felt could have been better explained but I guess things have to move along quick because if given time, thinking and planning would have made the outcome very different and may not be exciting anymore.

Can’t say anything much about the characters. Since it’s the ideas that we’re talking about, the characters aren’t really given much of a prominence. Sure, some of them have their personalities but it is nothing major nor would it influence anything. Maybe except the ideas that they throw out. For example, Yua is the perverted one while Hina is the calm and intellectual one. Then you have Aoi who started off as one who has the penchant of making puns in every ideas she said but then she started turning into some kooky member. Like as though she is a few steps away from being an official mental asylum patient. Then there is Koharu who is the naïve and gullible one but she could be even more perverted than Yua especially it is no secret that she likes hot good looking men and doesn’t even hide this perversion of hers. Looks like she is already at home and blended in well with the club.

Sad to say for the Charm girls, I guess this series didn’t help increase their popularity so their own anime never really took off. Hah. What a big joke then. Their debut ended before they could even start. They might be new characters making their first appearance in the spinoff but sadly I don’t know much about their personality at all compared to the tesagure girls. Is Rin supposed to be the dumb one? The one who also eats a lot? Kanon definitely looks like the oujo-sama type while Hiina the intellectual type. Because you know, glasses. Can’t put my finger on Tomomi except that she is half Russian and Yui as the bisexual personality is what gets stuck in my mind. Oddly, during the Charm girls’ discussion, the tesagure members can be seen as eavesdropping and commenting on their talk outside the building. A reminder that this is still a tesagure show? One thing to note on Tomomi, I’m not sure what is the deal with her character or her seiyuu as she is often missing in some, if not the important segments like the Yuriwolf and Tesagure Grand Prix. Not sure if there is any scheduling conflict but it feels like we’ve been cheated without her character around and the fun lessened. That’s why there’s always an apology recording after that. Oh well, show is over. Now you’re free to do anything else you want. Plus, the tesagure girls being the veterans in this adlib area, have more experience so they own the Charm girls any time.

Last but not least there is Mobuko and her clones, oops, I mean her sisters and sextuplets. It would have been much easier to say they are all clones because saying they are sisters and sextuplets sound so far-fetched. Not even fantasy sci-fi writers could come up with this absurdity. Anyway, Mobuko seems to be like the fringe member of the tesagure club and only pops up whenever she is needed to. Hence, the only place where she has a decent limelight is the next episode preview (which isn’t so much of a next episode preview by the way) of the spinoff. In this segment, we see various and all her various incarnations from grandma to professor to her versions of herself from the future and even a demon king all come together for who knows what. Definitely a mob of Mobukos. Yeah, maybe that’s all the screen time she can actually get so they squeeze it all into this nonsensical section here. No matter how many of you there are and from what time period, stay united, Mobuko.

Art and animation are entirely used using CGI. I won’t say it is hideous but because this isn’t some highly intense action packed series, you won’t really feel the difference here. Although Yaoyorozu produces this series, I believe it is the same Bouncy studio who later did Himote House. Yeah, the CGI quality didn’t really improve. And by making it a joke and also breaking the fourth wall, hence we somewhat accepted that the low quality animation is okay. So low that the girls are the only things that are animated. Everything else is pretty much not animated. Heck, other unimportant extra characters are just some coloured shades and even if there are those drawn properly, they aren’t animated and are just like paper cut-outs. Yeah, this is definitely new. Not sure if there is rotoscoping because like in the spinoff when the girls visit the zoo, the animals are animated in somewhat a surreal way.

Voice acting department, I guess they’re all really talented despite I don’t really recognize them all. For them to pull off the adlib parts flawlessly, I wonder if they have done a few takes before because it all sounds perfect. But I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and believe they are really talented seiyuus. The casts are Asuka Nishi as Yua (Shinobu in Kiniro Mosaic), Satomi Akesaka as Hina (Esdeath in Akame Ga Kill), Karin Ogino as Aoi (Nyarin in Himote House is her only other voice acting role), Koharu Tanaka as Koharu (Momoka in Sabagebu), Kaoru Mizuhara as Mio (Misao in Lucky Star), Shiori Mikami as Rin (Krista in Shingeki No Kyojin), Mikako Komatsu as Hiina (Neko in K), Rumi Okubo as Kanon (Chinatsu in YuruYuri), Natsumi Takamori as Yui (Yuzu in Sunohara-sou No Kanrinin-san) and Sumire Uesaka as Tomomi (Sanae in Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai). I wonder if Reina Ueda as Mobuko (Ayado in 3D Kanojo Real Girl) got the raw end of the stick. Sure, all her Mobuko sisters and other incarnations are voiced by her. Even the credits page ‘spammed’ her name next to all voiced characters. But then again, being the character with the least proper screen time, I guess this makes it up to show her versatile voice acting. Especially that spinoff next episode preview.

For a series that spans 3 different seasons, they sure used the same opening theme, Stand Up might be the original for the first 2 seasons sung by the quartet of the tesagure club but in the spinoff, Yappari Stand Up is pretty much the same song but just add the quintet of the Charm girls. This song is kept ‘fresh’ because each opening line is different and is just a short line of something random and nonsensical. First season’s ending theme, 12 Kagetsu by the tesagure quartet feels a bit out of place. Not saying that this slow and lovely ballad is bad because it’s not bad enough but after hearing all the nonsensical ideas, hearing them sing this song just feels a bit weird. But not as weird as the bad CGI of seeing them doing some dance in the snow!!! Second season’s ending theme is also basically the same but some change in the lyrics, Sorezore No 12 Kagetsu.

The main ending theme for the spinoff is Shikisai Crossroad by the tesagure and Charm girls. Another slow and lovely ballad that doesn’t sound too shabby. If you’re tired of the CGI animation, at least you can see the girls in overly cute chibi fashion in this ending credits animation. There are lots of special ending themes for the second and spinoff season but they only last a single episode. These character and collaboration songs reflect their characters so the song is somewhat tuned to them. I think my favourite one was the rock piece Aoi sang. The entire lyrics just went, “Lazy Lazy Lazy Lazy Lazy Lazy Call Me Lazy”!!!! It’s so lazy that it’s new!!! The rest felt like generic slow ballads and anime pop idol style and anime rock outfits and didn’t really attract me.

Overall, a rather okay anime for me. The crazy ideas are supposed to be the jokes and punch line that are to make you go laughing till your stomach hurts. Well, some of them. Because in some jokes you can hear the girls really laugh out loud. Unfortunately with my limited vocabulary, it really does limited my ability to understand and appreciate all that they have contributed. Yeah, sad that I don’t even understand some of the dirty sex jokes and puns they made. Maybe I should join the club and the members can brainstorm and find ways for me to improve my Japanese. Aha. I got a new idea on how to improve my vocab. Watch French or American animated cartoons dubbed in Japanese! And then my interest suddenly shifts to western animation… No way! But that is so new and atarashii, right?!

Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan

July 26, 2019

A sequel to an anime that I have never heard of? Rinshi!! Ekoda-chan is apparently the sequel to Genki!! Ekoda-chan that was aired way back in 2011. It must have been one of those very obscure animes and I would have probably given this anime short the skip too had not the synopsis sounded intriguing. The titular character is a woman who drifts around Tokyo through various jobs and even relationships. This series is a take on cute girls who use their cuteness and affect stupidity in order to try and score against men (against whom the author is constantly fighting). I guess it really is a dog eat dog world out there when the competition is so intensely insane. But this series isn’t going to be a typical continuous series like many others. Each episode is directed by a different director and hence like a standalone, you can see their different interpretations and results on this take.

Episode 1
* Ekoda has been working at a bar and people always make assumptions she is 3 years older than she looks. This makes her worry that she looks older than she is supposed to be.
* Ekoda while changing manages to catch a lizard (after 20 minutes) and makes it as her pet.
* Ekoda works so tirelessly at the bar that the only way she can replenish herself every night is… sumo wrestling with a dog?! Sure it wasn’t sex?
* Once her family wanted her to help out with some family business but she ended up driving all over the crabs on her trip. What did her boyfriend think? What a waste of crab meat…

Episode 2
Ekoda ponders about the structure of a baby’s body that made them able to survive plane crashes. However all these thoughts are just to distract herself from her boyfriend who is brazenly talking to his other girlfriend on his handphone! He even has the cheek that he is not cheating on her! But there is a reason why Ekoda tolerates this. She has been waiting and ‘fighting’ this long battle and if she gives up now, all this would be for naught. She knows he is the problem but if she starts telling herself that, it renders this long hanging on as meaningless. Then she asks if he would like sex. Nah. He has to wake up early tomorrow. The problem now is to whether sleep facing him or away. The former makes her look like begging but the latter makes her look like sulking. Facing upwards looks like some desperate pathetic compromise. In the end, she sleeps facing him.

Episode 3
* Ekoda is now a cat girl! She observes a girl who loves animals. Including eating steak… Maybe it’s just her.
* Ekoda’s big sister thinks she knows everything but she doesn’t know she eats in her sleep because Ekoda herself has tried feeding her so!
* A guy tells Ekoda how all the school girls here would be married or have migrated overseas in the future. And then, some will have died… WTF?!
* Ekoda tries to order a hamburger but the waiter keeps messing up her order.
* A friend talks to Ekoda about her sexuality. As she is unsure about BDSM, she bought some ropes and boiled them to soften it up. However her dad accidentally ate it thinking it was oden. It has been awkward between them ever since.
* Ekoda’s rule of doodling is to draw fish on rice omelettes, put paw prints on condensation and draw happy faces on knees.

Episode 4
Ekoda is always fine being alone when young. But as she grow older and saw on the news how a celebrity died, it made her worry if she’ll die lonely. Well yeah, she knows her boyfriend is brazenly having another girlfriend. So she ponders about relationship issues and feels that her boyfriend doesn’t even acknowledge her existence considering he knows her ‘warm living insides’. Then she finds out from his friend that he already broken up with her girlfriend. You mean to sound that shocked? She confronts him and why didn’t he tell her? It’s none of her business. Oh, there’s this other girl he wants to date… And he finds his new date nothing new. Ekoda blames him for fooling around. Likewise he does the same. Her excuse is that she only changed into so because he didn’t become her boyfriend. And that is why he didn’t want to. That must have really hurt Ekoda. She is devastated that she has now become a ‘ghost’.

Episode 5
Ekoda fears this lizard would crawl inside her (?!) so after painting herself with body paint, she captures it and it now becomes her pet. But now she has the cockroach to deal with! A battle begins and as she tries to throw a knife, she missed and instead her lucky bamboo became unlucky, cut into half. She manages to trap it in a paper bag and then microwave it! Extreme! But now what? Mosquito attack! Yeah, her room is like a pig sty, no wonder so many bug invasions. Will Ekoda smack the blood sucker? Will Mosquito get the better of this giant? Accidentally Ekoda releases the lizard as it violently eats the mosquito. Then the lizard escapes. Alone again. Naturally. Even more so when Ekoda realizes she stepped on her favourite bun. Summer has ended.

Episode 6
Ekoda returns home after a long day at work. She strips all her clothes till she is in her comfortable birthday suit. She cooks and drinks in the privacy of her own room that makes you think that she might be acting like a typical middle aged man. Then she gets a call from a friend to hang out. So she dresses up and puts on makeup and heads back out. She narrates that unlike middle aged men, she acknowledges she is at the prime of her life and is attractive enough to make the flowers around blush. She still has dreams, hopes and other battles to fight through.

Episode 7
Ekoda wakes up from this weird dream with red threads of fate everywhere. She panics and looks at her boyfriend’s hand. No red thread. I guess he’s not the one. Then more weird dreams of red threats connecting everything as she is trying to find her own. Sometimes she gets too tied up in them. Then there’s a time she was drowning in the sea of red threats and some monster was about to eat her but luckily her mom and sister reel her up. Too bad the string broke and it’s down into the monster’s mouth. What a way to wake up from another weird dream. It is then she realizes her familial bonds felt more real than any other fated connections she might have.

Episode 8
Ekoda’s friend, M is attending a drinking party. Everyone is trying to figure out what Ekoda does and they have very different ideas. Albeit they think she’s an amazing person. They ask M about it but it’s not like she’s her babysitter who knows everything about her. When another member comes in and talks about seeing Ekoda somewhere, M cuts short her night and leaves. Returning home, she sees Ekoda eating alone. Looks like she cooked for her boyfriend but that guy stood up on her last minute again. M joins her and thankfully didn’t invite Ekoda to the drinking party that she was supposed to. There wasn’t anybody interesting. I guess that’s why they love their curry meat as it doesn’t cancel on you or badmouths you. But you can’t marry meat and can even get fat. Ekoda is confident she’ll get back to normal again later.

Episode 9
A unique first person view of Ekoda as she works as a customer service call centre for a life insurance company. With so many waiting calls and people calling with the strangest and most bizarre reasons (including disgruntled calls), I guess her only reprieve is the nice view across her window. The colleague sitting next to her is equally noisy and her superior seems to be a pushy one. And then a storm. The lightning is scary enough to cause a blackout. Is this the norm because everyone is like doing an evacuation drill. Although the power comes back, the boss tries to tell everyone to get back to work. Some really losing it and the next door colleague is just going crazy before returning to her duties. It’s utter chaos. Ekoda feels like running away but eventually picks up a call. A mother’s son has STD… Here we go again… Sighs…

Episode 10
Ekoda in weird marionette animation and musical. Basically the song is about what really Ekoda is and that Ekoda exists inside us all. We are Ekoda! The final full body marionette of Ekoda, why does she remind me of The Nightmare Before Christmas’ Sally? Somehow seeing blue characters now give me the chills. Megamind, Avatar, Smurfs, the rebooted Genie from Aladdin, that horrendous Sonic the Hedgehog…

Episode 11
Ekoda is in a bar and some guy who sounds like he is some sort of budding musician is trying to get her to join his gig or something. We can tell from Ekoda’s face that she isn’t really interested but she isn’t that mean to tell him to go f*ck off. On another night, this time this guy can’t stop chatting about himself and how he got into this music genre and its history or something. Boring. You can tell Ekoda once more has picked up a useless guy. But all this didn’t dishearten Ekoda as she continues to do what she’s doing. Maybe she’ll hit the Mr Right one day?

Episode 12
Ekoda realizes she has turned 24. But screw all that because ignorance is how you survive today! Right on! Unknown to her, a peeper is happily watching her via his viewing scope from across. As Ekoda watches TV about knife demonstration and laughs at the impossible cutting, she realizes her boyfriend hasn’t called her recently and could it be that she has been cut off?! Not sure what this weird cat girl idol dance is all about but whatever. Ignorance, right?! Then she realizes the peeping tom is watching and then dares him by baring it all. Can you see the bear in her pubes?! Look at all you want you creepy bastard! Gochisousama?

Naked And (Not) Afraid
So which Ekoda am I? I don’t know. I’m not a woman who loves frolicking around naked so I don’t know which Ekoda I am closest to. Heck, I’m not even a woman! Excuses, excuses… Speaking of excuses, I guess I was expecting the final episode to end with a bang. You know, saving the best for last. But it is just like any other standalone episodes and nothing really that mind blowing. Except maybe Ekoda may have awakened and transited from a closet pervert to a full blown exhibitionist. I suppose there is nothing more turn off for a peeper for a target who knowingly dares you to look. Yeah, where’s the fun in that. Ekoda may not be winning in her life but she’s doing it at her own pace. Ekoda being Ekoda is just Ekoda. Heh. I don’t even know what I’m saying now. Ignorance is to survive!

With only 3 minutes of running time in each episode, a simpleton like me who jumped into watching this series without reading the original manga source would definitely be lost. I mean, they have to cram everything into that duration and have to tell what needs to be told in that same length. Therefore there are many skits that I don’t really understand and I’m just like, “Okay. Whatever”. Essentially I believe that all showcases somewhat the challenges and issues faced by Ekoda in her everyday life. Mostly about her relationship blues. After all, Ekoda like many other women do long for a man to lean on and be supported in her life. Not to say that Ekoda is a weak woman but that is naturally a woman’s instinct. So what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger? I suppose that is why the series’ title included rinshi which means near death. Well then, fight on, Ekoda-chan!

Not sure if it is clickbait to get people like me to watch since one of Ekoda’s most prominent feature is that she loves to be naked. At least within the confines and comfort of her own home (notwithstanding the final episode somewhat). But don’t worry. This isn’t even hentai or close to ecchi. You can circumvent that by not drawing tits! Yeah, that always works. I don’t think Ekoda is an exhibitionist but by I believe being naked somewhat symbolizes the freedom that she longs for. Because by wearing clothes especially uniforms, you are then chained and bound by the rules of whatever the role or job that uniform or clothes encompasses. Even if it is for a short moment, Ekoda can be by herself, for herself with that freedom she enjoys, oblivious to the world. Then it’s back to dolling herself up and trying to get herself a man. The vicious cycle continues. I guess eventually she has to go back to the system. Or maybe nobody can really escape it.

The irony of having a 3 minute short episode is the special interview segment that comes after it. Uh huh. It lasts way longer! A full 24 minutes to be exact! As each episode has a different director and seiyuu, this interview segment discloses their thoughts on just about everything. Their views on the anime, the character to even their opinions on working with each other and how relatable Ekoda is in their life. It is quite comprehensive if you really want to know more about this stuff but I have to admit, I skimmed through this part and didn’t watch the whole thing. Yeah. Don’t want to fall asleep listening to their outlook on just about everything. No wonder I’m so blur after watching this series. Not that I would understand it any better if I sat through that whole 24 minutes! I mean, when you have this segment longer than the actual series itself, you gotta make it worth by expressing and saying all that you want to say that is on your mind. Sometimes it feels ‘wasted’ because they put so much time and effort in the interviews but the actual anime is just 3 minutes. Ah, I see even producing an anime short has lots of challenges going on in the background. But what do I know? I’m not even in the anime industry.

And isn’t it just weird, pairing an old man director with a young cute, beautiful seiyuu? Feels like an after porn shoot! Haha! Oops, sorry. Crossed the line there. But yes, it does feel a bit odd. Of course some seiyuus are veterans so they’re also showing their age but not as hagged and ugly as the male directors. Old men in Japan don’t really take care of their appearances, huh? On a trivial note, the only seiyuus I recognized participating in this series are Romi Paku and Ami Koshimizu. Damn they didn’t employ Mamiko Noto and she would have been perfect for the role of Ekoda. Oh yeah. I can already imagine her in it.

But this interview segment isn’t all about the boring talking. At the end of this segment, we have a glimpse to see how they make the episode in focus. However the interesting ones are those who didn’t employ the usual traditional 2D hand drawn style. For example like that marionette episode, it is quite interesting to see the equipment and how they do it to make the visuals look so surreal. Quite fascinating. Otherwise those traditional hand drawn ones are just your typical artist sketches and adding colour and final touches before that scene becomes the official and final cut.

With different director producing an episode each, it is hard for me to pinpoint which is the most interesting one. They have their hits and misses. Each has their own quirky weirdness (some call it creativity). From the very sketchy frame-like episode 11 (like as though it isn’t finished and still at the editing board) to the rotoscoping technique in episode 6 and of course that live action marionette in episode 10. In terms of visual, my pick would be episode 9 because of its first person view. I don’t know, I seem to be quite fascinated with this visual style since you don’t often have series that is entirely from a first person perspective. In terms of the ‘storyline’, episode 5 is most amusing and interesting because Ekoda vs the bugs! That was really funny. The most WTF is episode 7 because everything is so abstract, I don’t know what is going on. The most thought provoking would be episode 2 as Ekoda contemplates if should tolerate the tomfoolery of her boyfriend despite him shamelessly having another girlfriend and not even trying to hide it. Episode 4 comes in a close second and her relationship with her boyfriend can be easily checked as Facebook’s ‘complicated’. Episode 12 is the closest I can somewhat relate to. At least in the sense that ignorance is the key to survival! Oh yeah. I wonder myself how I got this far in life… Thanks Ekoda, for that one :-).

Each episode also features a different ending theme. Some of them are quite nice to hear. For instance, the jiving Broadway-like Ukiyo Ni Hana by Shoose (episode 1), the dramatic Yume Ni Yowasarete by Sho Hayami (episode 2), the interesting enka take of Mukudori Bojou by Hiroshi Kitadani (episode 6) and the lively Numa by Masayoshi Ooishi (episode 10). Hard rock ones feel somewhat weird like Naked Echo by Araki (episode 3) and Ganbarima Sengen by Gero (episode 5). Not as weird as the weird Ito No Yume by Noristry (episode 7) that sounds a bit like cacophony. Other okay ones include Sora Omoi: Dattan-jin No Odori (episode 4), the slow ballad of Roudousha No Ballad by Asa (episode 8), Koi Ga Hajimara Night by Yuusuke Kobayashi (episode 9), the soulful lounge-like Tokyo Shinobi Saki by Piko (episode 11) and the generic rock beat of Dear Gemstones by Yuuri Matsuoka (episode 12).

Overall, not really a bad anime but despite being a unique styled anthology it still isn’t enough to make me really want to love it or wish there was more or another season. It’s just, how should I put it, strange and peculiar. You mean, unique? Nah. More like strange and peculiar. Because at the end of the day, it’s not like I understand very well Ekoda’s heart either. Maybe Ekoda just simply wants a man to love and I’m just overthinking if there are lines to read in between. Even if Ekoda doesn’t have the advantage of those ‘birds of prey’ girls, as long as she knows this by heart she’ll do just fine: God made women beautiful so that men could love her. Also, God made women foolish so that they could love him!

Fumikiri Jikan

August 17, 2018

We are always constantly moving along our journey and trying to reach our destination. In what circumstances do we only actually stop? Well, one of them is at the railroad crossings. Hence, Fumikiri Jikan is a compilation of short stories and happenings as people wait at the railroad crossings. So put down your Smartphone and feel the excitement as you wait for the train to pass! You might be surprised at the weirdest things happening around especially at railroad crossings. Of course, no suicide cases please.

Episode 1
Ai dislikes the idea of wasting youth and right now they have to wait for the train to pass. Tomo dismisses that idea like falling in love since there isn’t anyone else but them here. Ai agrees since there are no guys but Tomo disagrees with a passion that women can fall in love with each other too. Ai tricks Tomo into screaming the name of the person they love when the train passes. Hey, it’s not like anybody can hear, right? Too bad Tomo screamed hers but Ai didn’t. Ai double checks with Tomo if she misheard her screamed her name. That’s when Tomo admits she likes her in a romantic way. Every day she waits here anxiously with her thinking about this unrequited her. She asks if she would like to share her youth with her. I guess this youth thing has come back to bite her since she isn’t sure. Tomo doesn’t need an answer right now and until she does, she hopes to come to school with her like usual. Ai fears she will be too conscious and awkward from now but Tomo notes this is just another form of youth. Welcome to youth? Not so keen on this youth thing right now, eh?

Episode 2
Tanishi sees Eriko Majima waiting at the railroad crossing. Just like how all the guys in the school says, everything about her is just so sexy. Hence he purposely comes to wait with her at this crossing just to admire how beautiful and sexy she is. Especially those rumours that she wears a skirt so short but you can never see what’s underneath. Then when the train passes and the wind threaten to lift up her skirt, he realizes he got unconsciously toyed with this idea. He thinks she has done a lot of adult stuffs and a virgin like him won’t stand a chance. She then notices him and talks to him, sending him into some paralyzing ecstasy. Even more so when she fixes his crooked necktie. He continues to be paralyzed with the sexy effect and will definitely come here to wait again tomorrow.

Episode 3
As the teacher waits at the crossing, it is not rare he sometimes bump into one of his students. This time, Kurobe from the disciplinary committee. He is in a dilemma to say hi because he doesn’t want to be known as a teacher who ignores his students. On the other hand, Kurobe is praying hard to be ignored. Worse, he is saying his inner thoughts out loud. When he ekes out a high pitched yahoo, Kurobe tries to hold back her laughter. He thinks she is disgusted because his own daughter views him as a creepy old man. This only makes it funnier for Kurobe but she is worried if she continues to ignore him, her report card will be affected. She tries to say something but she fumbles because she is still trying to control her laughter. Teacher misinterprets that she is booing him. At this point she bursts out in laughter. She notes him as a spacey technician but he doesn’t get it.

Episode 4
Takashi and Misaki Komaba are siblings and despite being next to each other waiting at the crossings, they communicate using their social media instead of speaking! Is this the future of relationships? He thought they should be talking normally since they are close but she denies anything about it. To show they are strangers, she starts using his first name but it backfires because only lovers would do that, right? The more they ‘talk’, the more she feels ‘harassed’ and starts calling him names. Takashi remembers a time when she used to love him and want to marry him and the likes. Of course she denies. She crosses the line when she tells him to go die. Takashi remains silent and doesn’t reply. She gets worried that he is actually mad. With no further reply, Takashi sees her cute nearly crying face and finally replies he was in the toilet. It brings so much relieved to her face. Oh, he didn’t go to the toilet anyway.

Episode 5
Goth girl, Fukutome is screaming at the crows?! They somehow bump off her hat. She goes on complaining about this neighbourhood and bugging parents and as she bends down to pick up her hat, she feels a sharp pain from her back. Could it be the sprain from bending over? Stuck in this position, her worst fears come true when an old classmate, Saito recognizes her. She tries to dismiss him that he has got the wrong person but this guy knows all her habits! Is he a stalker?! He claims he is a big fan of hers and follows her on social media in which she is quite active. Such a big fan that he has some picture of hers as his wallpaper! He also poses with her thinking this pose is using the solar energy to recharge! He then admits he used to like her. He goes off and will message her sometime. Fukutome is still left there in shock.

Episode 6
While waiting at the crossing, Akemi notices a weird guy staring at her from behind the bridge rails! It seems he was drunk last night and fell asleep on the streets. When he woke up, he found himself without pants. So please help and give him anything to wear. Will this paper bag do? Too small. Still exposed. How about these stockings? Tight fittings. See through skin tone colour. Don’t think so. But better than nothing. To repay his gratitude, he gives her a hassaku orange that was in his hand when he woke up. She doesn’t want it but he insists and tosses it to her (while making hassaku puns). Then she too inadvertently makes a hassaku pun.

Episode 7
Utako thinks she has some poetic awakening and thinks she is good at haiku. So as she waits at the crossing, she thinks of penning her thoughts down about the railroad crossing. Sounds decent but she realizes it doesn’t follow the 5-7-5 format. With a few extra syllables and rounding it up, it becomes 10-10-10 and the kanji for 10 looks like a cross, so triple cross haiku? Sounds cool until she realizes it sounds unintelligent and chuunibyou-like. Returning to the original format, she thinks of adding snow with railroad crossings. Sounds decent until she realizes both don’t match each other (because snow causes train services to stop). She adds love into in and realizes the pun of that word. Sounds great? Nah. Sounds bad too. Maybe she should give up being a poet.

Episode 8
More texting hilarity from the Komaba siblings. Yeah, they’re talking about crapping in the pants and Misaki having weird stamps just for him. He thinks she loves him so much since she only uses the stamps that way. He asks if she has friends since she is always alone waiting with him. She says she has and is only doing this to keep him company. She asks the same thing about him but more specifically if he has any girlfriend. None. She looks happy and is going to reply an excuse to accompany him when a couple of girls from his class invite him to karaoke. He would gladly go with them had not Misaki stopped him. I guess he can’t go then. He gives an excuse that he has things to do. What things? You mean accompany his sister? Nope. Going to crap in his pants.

Episode 9
An elderly guy, Saiki waits at the railroad crossing. He remembers this place that he hasn’t been since he was a student. He used to wait here while going to school. Remembering the nostalgic memories, there was this girl who waited across always reading a book. He fell in love with her at first sight and when the gate arm goes back up, they pass each other and go their own way. It’s a one-sided love. He even took the liberty to name her Yoriko and doesn’t even know her real name. After watching her in this manner through the seasons, he finally wrote a letter about his feelings for her. He gave it to her and told her he didn’t need a reply. Just letting her know was good enough. That was the end of it. He wonders what happened of her through the years and what she had thought of him. Suddenly he sees Yoriko standing there. She has not aged! Exactly the same! OMG!

Episode 10
We hear from Yukiko’s side that she loves reading books while waiting at the crossing. Suddenly a guy popped up to her and gave her a letter. Although he didn’t mind getting an answer, she never had a chance to reply whatsoever. Saiki instinctively calls out to her and she responds! Asking why she has the letter he wrote, she found it while organizing her mom’s belongings. So she is a splitting image of her daughter. Phew. That puts to rest she is a ghost or something. Silly me. Yukiko further adds her mom is a writer and left memories from when she was a student in essays. Since she likes them, she brought her book and letter to reminisce about her. Then this coincidence. She wonders if mom led to this meeting. She lets him read the book of what supposedly happened here. It does brings back some memories as cheeky Yukiko asks if it makes his heart skip to see the image of her mom in her. It makes him awkward thinking about a relationship between an old guy and a high school girl. Even if his relationship didn’t blossom back then, he doesn’t think there will a chance of a love story happening with this age gap. Could it?

Episode 11
Tanishi is once again enjoying the ass view of Majima. Too sexy! He starts fantasizing the other person she is communication on her handphone is her boyfriend and all the erotic things they did together. Yeah, he got jealous thinking of that. Despite realizing he is no match for her, he thinks that being short has an advantage as he gets to view her nice ass unlike tall people. Majima seems angry after her handphone reply. Her angry looks is also sexy. Thinking something bad must have happened with her boyfriend, he realizes it is wrong to think badly of others. His only way is to apologize silently behind her. But as he bows, he sees more of her delicious ass. So sinfully good! So sexy! He thinks of the need to apologize more but this time prostrating himself. What do you think he will see at this angle? Sexy level is over 9000! Majima then spots him and he gets flustered. Sexy time over.

Episode 12
Ai is now panic thinking about Tomo’s confession. The problem is not her confession but the kind of person Tomo is because she gives people weird nicknames and equally reads books with weird titles. Ai blames partly herself for suggesting that lover shouting game so when she finally asks Tomo about this awkwardness, Tomo admits it is. Ever since that confession, Ai has been distancing herself form her so Tomo thinks she disliked her. It made her feel she lost everything and regretted how easily she confessed to her. Wow. It’s getting dark and it’s like blaming Ai, no? When Tomo wants her to forget everything, Ai hits back she mustn’t turn her back on youth. She explains she was avoiding her because she felt embarrassed rather than creepy. She admits she has zero relationship experience, not even guys. So does this mean Tomo has a shot at her? Well, no competition, right? Ai hopes to give her some time while she sorts out her confused feelings. But then Tomo says something we can’t hear because the cliché train passes by. It leaves Ai very embarrassed because Tomo confessed to her again! Uhm… Surprise!

Stop, Wait, Ponder, Then Go
That’s so much about it. Although it wasn’t anything spectacular, it could even be ranging at just average and normal. This is just one of the few stories that happened at a certain railroad crossings. There are many of such crossings in Japan and throughout the world. Boy, how many more other funny and weird stories have we missed out? Oh, it’s like saying railroad crossings are the next happening place and sometimes a place for shower thoughts. Oh well, every place has its charm. But I still agree that it is an awkward place for romantic confessions. Even if you’re yuri. And also because cliché loud train passing to drown out the words so you can’t properly hear. Such great timing…

Well, the stories themselves aren’t much but for that short duration, they are interesting to watch. No overly complicated plots or twist, just bite size amount for us to enjoy. Therefore for those who argue that there is nothing much because of how random many of the skits are and how short each episode is, well, you have been warned when you read the series’ info and synopsis. It all boils down to how well the episodes are played out. Because there are some anime shorts that are just horrendous. Looking at you, Alice Or Alice (that aired in the same season as this one). For Fumikiri Jikan, I personally feel they are sufficient and satisfying. No questions asked. After all, it is already said they are random stories. You can’t piece a bigger plot from it all, can you? I don’t really want to turn this into some conspiracy theory.

My personal favourite story is the one involving the Komaba siblings. They are so close to each other in proximity but yet choose to communicate with their Smartphones. It’s like it is part of their body and can’t do without. The interesting and amusing parts are watching them interact with each other via messaging. Little sister is being tsundere but actually has brother complex while big brother trying to be cool and possible enjoy baiting and seeing little sister react this way. They probably have the best punch lines and jokes in the series too. Maybe they should have a mini spinoff of their own.

For the rest of the other characters and story, you could say they are a blessing or curse because they had to stop at the railroad crossing. Like Tanishi who got to enjoy some ass fanservice from one of the sexiest girl in class. A curse for Fukutome because she had someone see her in an unfortunate position. Broken body. Broken ego. Broken reputation. Some like Saiki managed to rekindle the flame of his past and put a rest to the mystery about the love of his life. Some like Utako trying to find inspiration but failing on an epic scale. These myriad of stories definitely makes waiting at the crossroad less boring. For viewers, that is. But I’m not going to wait at one just to see interesting happenings. Might get arrested for acting suspicious.

Art and animation are pretty okay since it is produced by Ekachi Epilka (say that name again?) in which this series is their first and only production so far. Voice acting is rather okay too for a short series. Norio Wakamoto makes his came as that hassaku uncle and it is nice to hear his voice after a long time. Same for Yukari Tamura as Yukiko. The other casts are Sayaka Senbongi as Ai (Chitose in Girlish Number), Yui Ogura as Tomo (Tomarin in Teekyuu), Kazuki Matsunaga as Tanishi, Yuri Komagata as Majima (Shirayuki in Mikakunin De Shinkoukei), Mariko Honda as Kurobe (Yuuko in Nichijou), Mitsuhiro Ichiki as Takashi (Kazuya in Freezing), Suzuna Kinoshita as Misaki (Mitsuki in Ousama Game), Nazuna Haruki as Fukutome, Kazusa Aranami as Akemi (Tomoe in Da Capo III), Yuu Ayase as Utako (Quetzalcoatl in Centaur No Nayami) and Ken Narita as Saiki (Sesshoumaru in Inu Yasha). The opening theme is the same name as this series and is sung by Yuri Komagata.

Overall, the series isn’t a masterpiece but it certainly doesn’t suck. Short and non-continuous is what makes it fun and enjoyable. It feels like it could have added more episode and cours but then again, the question of whether it will lose its charm because of all the randomness despite each story being unique. But I shouldn’t be asking for too much. After all, you’re not supposed to stay long at a railroad crossing. You move on once the boom gates lift. It is true that life isn’t about the destination and the journey. But one shouldn’t stop too long at a single place. Just like life, you have to move on, move forward ahead. Somehow I have the urge to sing the Bee Gees’ Railroad song… Yes I’ll walk by the railroad anytime, anytime/ Walk by the railroad anytime/ Tell my women that I miss her/ That I can’t wait to kiss her/ ‘Cause I’m walking by that railroad till I’m home…

So you weeaboos think you know it all about Japan, do you? Think you can name a few anime, manga and video games, you’re a master of knowing all that is Japan, do you? Oh yeah? Think by saying the general knowledge history of Oda Nobunaga makes you the same as local Japanese, do you? Well, I’ve got some news for you buddy. You don’t know anything yet. Especially the Gunma prefecture of Japan. Gun-what? Not Gundam. Gunma. Strap onto your seatbelts because we’re going to tell you all you need to know about Gunma first. Now do you think you know everything about Japan? Heck, Omae Wa Mada Gunma Wo Shiranai!

Episode 1
Nori Kamitsuki is taking a train as he is moving to Gunma. He remembers his friend, Otoya Todoroki lives there as he texts him about it and is looking forward to be in the same school as him again. However he texts back to not come here as no one who comes to Gunma returns alive. Poor Kamitsuki got so scared that he starts seeing everything in a different light. The train is now creepily empty and the ‘devilish’ conductor forces him to the front coach where everyone is. Then he sees how everyone here talks and acts like gangsters and he fears this is the evil miasma from Gunma! He thinks of getting off and turning back on the next stop. However the doors doesn’t open despite the train stopping as it continues its journey! Hold on to your seatbelts for this one way ride to hell! As stated in the fact of this episode, the doors do not automatically open after a certain station and must be done so manually. Huh? Why the trouble?

Episode 2
As Kamitsuki introduces himself in class, suddenly the class gives him that evil stare when he says he is from Chiba. Kamitsuki tries not to be bothered with it until when it is time to start the class, he rises and bows. Immediately his classmates turn against him! WTF just happened?! It seems in Gunma you do not stand and bow. You stand, attention and then bow before sitting! Because of that they think he is a spy and tie him up with their stretchable udon. He is taken to the detention room as fearful Kamitsuki desperately tries to call out to Todoroki.

Episode 3
The students are discussing this spy issue like as though it’s a really serious matter. More serious than North Korea wanting to nuke US, I tell you! Kyou Shinooka reminds them their best way to flush out outsiders is their Jomo karuta. If you are a Gunma native, you will be able to recite all 44 cards without mistake! And this crane stance thingy too. Kamitsuki tries to eat his way out from his udon bind. Before him is Todoroki. However he is the class rep and he tells them to give him eat yaki manjuu.

Episode 4
As explained, yaki manjuu are buns with no fillings but covered with thick and very sweet coating. It is sold almost everywhere in Gunma and basically the prefecture’s soul food. Therefore those who are not from Gunma who taste it will reject this sweetness and sometimes it will result in death because their brain cannot handle it! OMG! Is this a true fact?! After the yaki manjuu is stuck into Kamitsuki’s mouth, this is the first time he is tasting it and he loves it!!! Typical anime food theme exaggeration animation scene with him breaking out of his binds and feeling the yaki manjuu merging with his body cells to be one! Everybody is relieved and now treats Kamitsuki as a friend as they think he is a local. Kamitsuki is grateful to Todoroki and thinks he gave him this fake yaki manjuu to fool them. However Todoroki isn’t aware of that. Both give each other that dumbfounded stare… You mean it wasn’t? Oh…

Episode 5
After a day, it seems Kamitsuki has gotten used to the local customs. Yeah, he blends in well. Shinooka then talks to him as she finds out he moved around the country often. As she has him talk more about himself, it is as though she is trying to catch him when saying certain words. Finally when she offers to be his special girl and he accepts, she then shows her true colours. She knows he doesn’t know a single one of Jomo karuta and used a honey trap to confirm he is an outsider. She is part of this JKJ group and will never accept him as a Gunmateer.

Episode 6
First, Todoroki explains the history of Jomo karuta. After the occupation of America after World War II, Jomo karuta was made to lift the people’s spirits. Many lives were sacrificed to compile this treasure as those Americans viewed it as violation and promotes dangerous ideas. As time goes by, locals learn to love it that this is literally drilled into children’s head (fact states they are forced to learn them). So we have lots of local championships of Jomo karuta and there is one interview with young Shinooka giving a passionately heavy and deep statement about the trophy she won has the weight of the blood and tears of Gunma’s history and those who don’t understand it are not fit to be human! So JKJ is Jomo Karte Jugend, an organization consisting of members who are champions of the prefectural tournament. This elite Jomo karuta group (basically just a bunch of people good at karuta to Kamitsuki) does not consider many who do not achieve this as true Gunmateers. Todoroki vows to protect him at all costs. As long it doesn’t bring danger to him. Kamitsuki knows better than to rely on him so he starts by learning more about Jomo karuta.

Episode 7
Gunma is also famed for its strong winds. Kamitsuki enjoys riding his bicycle as the wind pushes him. But be careful not to be pushed off into the fields. He passes by a kid heading in the opposite direction. He has had it in going anywhere because of the strong winds and is going to stay where he is. When he laments about the harsh life in Gunma, Kamitsuki agrees and flashbacks to all the ‘hardships’ he has been through. Yeah, he hates Gunma too. But when he gets back, mom treats him to tasty potatoes dried from the wind and Todoroki inviting him to a group hanami. Kamitsuki has forgotten all the hardships and now loves Gunma. Gunma banzai!

Episode 8
Mom has Kamitsuki go borrow some videos from his old friend, Minoru. He tries to remember the kind of friend he is. Because Gunma has no coastline, the prefecture doesn’t have any beaches. Hence when Kamitsuki once brought him to a beach, he becomes overly excited. Then he couldn’t stop ranting about how unfair it is for Gunma who loves the sea but ironically the sea hates Gunma as he further quotes statistics that there are more swimming related accidents from Gunma than any other prefecture and how the locals appreciate sashimi and tuna more than others with its massive annual consumption. Wow. This guy is really from Gunma.

Episode 9
Kamitsuki visits Minoru at his school’s sports festival. He learns that the teams are not named by their colour but their surrounding mountains. Yeah, it feels like teams are out to kill each other for blood! Also there is Ieti from JKJ but she is harmless as he explains that Shinooka isn’t all that bad as she seems. When Minoru has Kamitsuki join in a scavenger hunt, it seems Shinooka is also in this game but on the opposing team. She quickly declares a mock battle between Gunma and outsiders and will bring him down to his knees by JKJ to make him an example to others.

Episode 10
In this scavenger hunt, Shinooka has to get some jelly. It isn’t Gunma native but its biggest factory is based here. As for Kamitsuki, getting some local sweet snack is hard so as he tries to change his item, some guy passes him some shimonita green onion. This freaks out Kamitsuki at first because it sounds like some perverted vegetable (shimoneta) and how often does one associate leeks and buttholes, right? He needs to take it to the finish line but Shinooka stands in his way. In his bid to make Gunma accept him, he charges straight at her and then slides through between her legs. The onion’s leaf tickles her, uhm, let’s say sensitive area. It is no surprise Kamitsuki gets slapped. You were expecting some sort of romantic twist?

Episode 11
Kamitsuki is in a shop that has lots of vending machines. Before he knows it, this guy forces him to watch a video of its history. Apparently Gunma has the highest concentration of vending machines and inside shops nevertheless. It all goes back to the Cold War. Fearing Agent Orange might spread to Japan, precautions were taken to have buildings constructed with minimal walls to be converted for military use if necessary. Vending machines were installed as convenient entertainment as they are harder to steal. Hence such buildings were built based on military strategies and national security! It is said that if Gunma falls, Japan will fall! Defend Gunma at all costs! Since when is Kamitsuki drafted into the Gunma military?

Episode 12
As the gang is driving up Mt Myogi to visit its shrine, suddenly they are met with an accident. They find themselves in heaven and overheard angels talking about their death was premature. Knowing God will never promote them if their deaths are a mistake, they agree to send them back and ask where they come from. They proudly say they are from Gunma and were currently at the Myogi Shrine. But they find themselves in this strange creepy land. We are told birch trees might resemble bones but how come there are demons in the sky?! WTF?! This is the punch line: The angels are baffled why the gang wanted to go to Planet Myogi Shrine! Yes people, there is a planet discovered and named after this in 1988! Todoroki believes they don’t know Gunma yet but Kamitsuki knows better. They’re not in Gunma at all!!! Yeah, maybe true Gunmateers can only see 2 suns in the sky…

You Don’t Know Japan At All!
Oh well. I’ve got to admit it. After watching this series, I still don’t know anything about Gunma! Haha! Because more like in one ear, out the other! But I do know that the last episode features a lot more BS and crap even though it is trying to nail a point that those seemingly sci-fi stuffs are true. And yes, I believe it is also crap that if you die in Gunma, you would go to heaven and meet bungling angels who are more concerned of being promoted rather than sending back the souls to the correct place. Sure, the universe is such a big place but did they not check where their souls are harvested from? Oh well, if they say Myogi, then it must be Myogi because there is only one Myogi place in the entire universe the angels know. Damn you angels, you don’t even know Gunma!!! I’m sure the locals will even kick angels’ ass for this. Yeah, no wonder the misconception of Gunmateers being scary…

I have to say that even if this series is interesting in its own mini way, this is still one big blatant advertising for the prefecture. Although I am not sure how effective it is, I can say that this series has a better chance in promoting Gunma than, say, Urawa No Usagi-san (which is supposed to promote the city of Urawa in Saitama prefecture). You can tell some of the promotions they do at the end of each episode, a segment called Straight From The Farm! Gunma Love. From their food and strange culture that is featured in the anime, it shows and further proves that they didn’t really make up those stuffs. Nothing says like seeing is believing. They even had the mayor and governor in person say a few words. So I guess they are really trying to promote the place. Or maybe desperate because the mayor and governor’s textbook answer of inviting people to come visit Gunma.

If Gunma is considered weird, you haven’t seen the rest of Japan yet. It will get even weirder the deeper you discover. You will find that even among Japanese themselves, there are some cultures that are so alien, you will even wonder if they are Japanese to begin with. Hence Gunma being uniquely weird and at the same time being as Japanese they can get is the same with everywhere else in the world. It is a big world out there after all. Hence if you want to know even more and deeper about a country’s culture, you can’t rely on the generalized tourism brochure to get your details. What makes a better tourist guide than a local who has lived his/her entire life in that area.

Back to the series itself, well uhm, nothing really much else I could talk about. The plot is basically a tool to advertise Gunma. The characters… Kamitsuki feels like a personification of an outsider making his stay at Gunma. Hence all the culture shock that this poor dude will feel just because he isn’t from Gunma. I don’t know if that constitutes to racism since Gunma people as seen by JKJ do not welcome outsiders well. Safeguarding culture is one thing but how can others appreciate your culture if you keep it so locked up? Might as well close off Gunma to the rest of the world and form your own country! Hope this won’t happen.

Todoroki is forgettable. I thought he would play somewhat of a role to help Kamitsuki or at least something that would justify his existence. It feels like he could be a nameless friend for Kamitsuki and the series would still carry on as usual. Perhaps Todoroki doesn’t want to stand out as much as he is not a true Gunmateer and by being flashy, there is a chance that you might ‘offend’ locals by not portraying their expected expectations. So better to keep a low profile. As for Shinooka, if she is what normal Gunma people are like, she’s doing a good job scaring others from her prefecture. I thought JKJ was going to be somewhat of the antagonist because they sure seemed so with their pure Gunma only ways. But I guess they don’t want to distract us from such ‘extremists’ and focus more on the wonders of Gunma.

Something tells me they want to set up some short romance between Kamitsuki and Shinooka. The episode in which she baited him wasn’t it. It is that challenge during Minoru’s school sports festival that I started having this feeling. She may be giving an excuse to show what a true Gunmateer is but it could just be a distraction and way to get his attention. No matter where you come from or what culture you are brought up in, love is love! No barriers. Not even prefectures. Ieti also feels redundant because clearly the series could have been done without her as she played no important role.

Art and animation are pretty standard. They don’t put much effort into the details because it’s just promotion, right? If you want to see the real deal, come down to Gunma yourself! But Kamitsuki looks like a tired guy. Could it be he tried to fit into the Gunma culture and the result of burning the midnight oil made him look like that? Hopefully trying to become a Gunmateer won’t kill him first. I don’t know, for some reason, Shinooka reminds me of Nel from Bleach. Even more so when her JKJ group dons plan white mask.

Voice acting we have the bare minimum. Gakuto Kajiwara as Kamitsuki (Asta in Black Clover), Jun Kasama as Todoroki (Heracles in High School DxD Hero), Aya Uchida as Shinooka (Kotori in Love Live) and Yui Ogura doubling as Minoru and Ieti (Tomarin in Teekyuu). One thing I like is the ending theme of this series, So Happy by Aya Uchida. It is cute and catchy. Could be Gunma’s theme song if you ask me! The ending credits animation showcases more of the popular tourist attractions and landmarks in Gunma.

Overall, this isn’t the best series to promote Gunma at all. I did say it is better than a certain Urawa series but that doesn’t make it good. This series is still some sort of advertising and perhaps its anime format is to try and pique the interests of otaku viewers. Though, if you are really interested and serious in touring Gunma, you would have done other and better research before getting down to it. Otherwise this series if you think too much about it, it feels like trying to make a mockery of Gunma and outsiders because of the clash in culture and lack of understanding. In other words… Culture appropriation!!! Damn, you really don’t know Gunma yet for sure! Say the people who don’t even live in Gunma or Japan. :/

Amanchu Advance

August 4, 2018

Man. I’ve never expected Amanchu to have another season. But here it is, Amanchu Advance as its second season. Another dozen episodes of calm scuba diving and underwater submerging tranquillity. Could they really be going the way of Aria and have more sequels? Whatever the future for this series, they’re taking it slowly and at their own pace. Enjoy the moment. Always look to the future with hope. Imagine a series about diving teaching you all these stuffs.

Episode 1
Teko and Pikari are supposed to meet at grandma’s place. When Teko (riding on a scooter) arrives at the intersection, Pikari starts running! Probably Teko is a safe rider so Pikari beats her to the ‘goal’. Next time she’ll start running when she reaches the bus stop. After hearing Teko’s narration on her gratefulness of meeting Pikari that changed her life, the girls have to help out with grandma since the beach house is packed with people. Later after another round of diving with customers, Pikari suggests the siblings to join her in a hot bath boat provided by the facility. A hot bath? In this summer heat? No thanks. As Pikari soaks alone, she notices the customers (a group of old guys) getting into the next tub. She realizes she forgot to wear her bra and hence a possible nip slip. Thank goodness for her handphone as she calls her friends. Due to them being busy at the moment, nobody picks up. She ultimately texts for help. Ai finally sees the message and tries to help her. She didn’t realize she is topless as she tries to pull semi-conscious Pikari out. Will the old men have the best view of the day? Thankfully here comes Teko distracting them with free pork soup before putting back Pikari’s top. Safe. Too bad Makoto got kicked by Ai for nothing. To thank Teko for this, Pikari suggests a BBQ tonight. They go shopping and some like Mato help contribute to the seafood BBQ. During the party, Chizuru sends Teko a picture of a steak in hopes of making her jealous since coincidentally her side is having a BBQ party too. What a downer. Later Pikari and Teko talk alone about their worries that one day they will soon have to part and the fun will end. I know it’s good to prepare but they’re taking this so seriously. Pikari in denial refuses to let that happen! Can’t envision a future without them together, eh? But since there are lots of things they want to do, they can’t imagine that yet. Even if that day comes, they’ll be sad. But they’ll think of all the fun times because fun is infinite. Yeah, whatever logic fits the bill to beat the blues. Cue for awkward confession they like each other.

Episode 2
Pikari sees a local boy near her place. She goes diving with him and shows him an octopus nest. Although impressed, he won’t tell his name. Back at grandma’s, Pikari sees the fireworks festival poster and invites her friends to come. She’ll make it real special for them. Next time Pikari sees that boy again and knows he is trying to find the octopus nest but couldn’t find it due to the change in tide. She will lead her there in exchange he tells his name. Kokoro Misaki. Pikari fawns over his cute name. That’s why Kokoro didn’t want to tell her. Kokoro sees an eel trying to hunt at the octopus’ nest. The eel ‘warns’ him. Now we see a short epic battle of the octopus fighting the eel! Kokoro feels sad he can’t help the octopus but is relieved when the octopus mom returns to her nest safely (but with some bruises). After they part, Pikari realizes too late she should have invited Kokoro to the festival. On that night, With the exception of Teko, the rest didn’t come in a yukata, disappointing Pikari. Pikari doesn’t see Kokoro around and Teko starts worried and overthinking about her new friend but comes to terms that Pikari is the type who can easily make friends. Thanks to Pikari’s hard work, the friends get front row VIP seats to watch the fireworks. It’s such a good view that they shower her with praises. Pikari loves it. Keep it coming… This fireworks display has Mato remember her own when she was young. She was too short to see so an old woman lifted her up to watch the magnificence. She gets to see this similar scene again thanks to Pikari. Next day, Pikari finds Kokoro at the usual spot. However he is depressed. The octopus mom is gone. Kokoro investigates but tries to stop desperate Kokoro trying to swim further to find it. She tells him the harsh cycle life of an octopus. Its mom will fast until its offspring hatches. In the end, it will always die. If the nest is unlucky, predators will find and eat it. But all is not lost as the nest hatches and they get to see the wonderful phenomenon of small translucent octopus babies scattering around. It’s like their own underwater fireworks.

Episode 3
Mato teaches Teko how to use an underwater compass on land. She seems to handle it well. Until the real test. Because she has to do it underwater alone and without Pikari. Gulp. Visibility is very limited as Teko sums up her courage to make her first step. All goes well until she realizes she is alone. Can’t see anyone. Is she lost? She starts overthinking and close to panicking that she has messed up. She thinks of quitting by rising up to the surface but after thinking Pikari might be disappointed with her, she continues. She remembers other lessons like observing her surroundings and the ripple marks on the sand. It leads her back to her pals. Success. When they are cleaning up on land, Teko notices Ai and Makoto not packing up yet. That’s because they are going for night diving. Of course this spooks Teko and she declines joining them. At night, Teko and Pikari see off the siblings as they show off their bright lightings to be used. They are awed to see so many divers and their lights as it reflects off the surface of the sea. Despite Teko having a better view on night diving, she is still scared of diving in darkness but hopes to overcome that. Mato finds Teko up early next morning. She massages her feet to help relax her body. Since Teko still has low self-confidence on the things she does and always keep dreaming things, Mato tells her all the good stuffs she did was reality. Writing them off as dreams would be a shame. She can’t change the past but can change herself and the future. Teko is now further motivated to overcome her weaknesses and relishes all her special memories are real. Well duh. Can’t be dreaming this entire time, right? Her next goal is to get her advanced licence.

Episode 4
Summer just went by in a flash. Don’t worry, autumn is here. This means sweet potatoes! Yay! At the shopping district, Kokoro spots Pikari but doesn’t want to call out to her. Too bad she spots him and now hangs out with him. Meanwhile, can Teko suddenly tell the future? Because she can tell the things that are going to happen around her! Then she realizes this is a dream. She is cool about it. Because she takes a broom and flies! OMG! Has this series become so boring that they resort to this? Heck, even the girl next to her is shocked at what she saw. As Teko confirms to her that this is a dream, she even teaches her how to fly! Uhm, Flying Witch? They fly all over town and to the park where they see the autumn sakura. On the other hand, Pikari hears out why Kokoro has been depressed all day. Somebody teased her and scribbled her about having octopus lips. Pikari trying hard not to laugh… When Kokoro says he is going to find the culprit and smack him, Pikari thinks he will regret it. So she takes him to see the autumn sakura. Well, it’s not really in full bloom but just small patches. But better than nothing. Before Teko and the girl could tell each other their names, the latter disappears. Teko takes this as she has awakened from her dream first. Shortly after, Teko too. She realizes this place has gotten so boring relaxing that she fell asleep. Then she calls Pikari and tells of her experience. Both are awed about the coincidental autumn sakura they saw. Teko notes that autumn has many wonders of its own but the best is that you have someone you can share the joy with. So let’s go find more wonders!

Episode 5
Mato tells about the legendary mermaid who helps those in a pinch. If you are friendly enough, she will take you to Ryuugu Palace. So our diving enthusiasts take a dive in the ocean. Teko is awed by the air rings the friends made to her. As they continue diving, suddenly Teko feels she is rising. She panics and the more she struggles, the more she rises. Thankfully Pikari and Mato bring her down. Back on land, Teko feels ashamed for failing. Due to the different level of the seabed, she had to get rid of excess air to maintain her buoyancy. She panicked and had she rose too fast, the nitrogen in the air of her suit will build up. This could be fatal and worse, when Teko was trying to swim downwards, she raised her feet and that’s where the air built up. She learnt a valuable lesson today but it’s a bit hard for her to get over the depression. Pikari’s little sister, Kodama visits. Teko learns she too has a diving licence and technically her senior. But she hasn’t dived with Pikari for quite a while since big sister often brings trouble so she maintained her distance. Pikari is embarrassed when Kodama and Teko prostrate to each other to take care of Pikari. Awkward… The gang goes diving in the sea again. After Ai and Makoto dive to deeper depths, Pikari and Teko spot a turtle and follow it. Mato then sees something swimming fast zooming past her. She thinks it is the legendary mermaid. However… It’s just a big fat grandpa?! But Mato decides to take a gamble and has him take them to Ryuugu Palace. He agrees! This dude really swims fast! Is he really human?! The ladies are awed to the colourful seabed teeming with ocean life before bringing them back. Back on the boat, Ai feels jealous she couldn’t meet that legendary mermaid. Mato has this fuzzy and warm feeling she has met that ‘mermaid’ before. We see that ‘mermaid’ turns out to be Pikari’s grandpa. This weird looking guy has become a legend now…

Episode 6
It’s the Halloween! Teko is dressed like a cute princess than anything scary. And Kokoro is a cat girl? Too bad he had to stumble into Pikari. So cute! Teko and Kokoro meet for the first time. Pikari leaves them together to get drinks. An awkward silence. Teko starts overthinking about taking the lead and when Pikari returns, both of them are so relieved. Ai and Makoto are doing an event. However nobody is participating despite the prize of a large octopus plushie. Maybe that’s why. But Kokoro seems interested… They make up some suggestions of adding extra prizes but the one that suddenly catches everyone’s attention to participate is a kiss from Pikari! Woah! See the long queue! Suddenly Teko steps in. She is going to protect Pikari’s lips! So mature? In this scavenger hunt, they have to get the item listed in the random piece of paper without letting the people know they are part of a game. It looks like an intense showdown between Pikari and Kokoro. Both have it tough. People rather be tricked by Kokoro than give him what he wants and Pikari is too scared to approach a guy, turning into a stalker and making that guy nervous! Somebody is stalking you! So when both eventually get what they need to, they are neck to neck racing towards the finish line. In the end, both cross together. Kokoro gets her plushie and Teko gets her peck from Pikari. Pikari also gives one to Kokoro. They’re joint winners, right? But did Teko and Pikari suddenly fall asleep because they realize that they are in dreamland when they could start using magic. The duo then have a Halloween dance with Teko being the prince and Pikari the princess. They snap out of their dream and realize they are in a hot Jacuzzi tub reserved by Mato as reward for their hard work. Don’t you think floating off into dreamland and then only snapping back out in a different place is a bit dangerous?

Episode 7
The students are working hard into the night as they prepare for the school’s cultural festival. But Mato knows something many don’t and she hopes Peter will not mess with her students. Teko and Pikari head to Ai’s class to sell drinks. They only have mostly gourd juice. Ugh… Their homeroom teacher, Mamoru Towano is kind enough to buy them all for his students! Damn… Ai goes to buy another drink to wash off that gourd taste (since Pikari ‘forced’ one upon her). Sitting alone on the stairs, she notes how different and quiet it is at night. Then this Peter guy pops up and wants Ai to slack off with him. She refuses and trips. I don’t know how she could do a somersault like that but Peter saves her and they both land on their feet. Ai felt as though they were both flying for a while. She thinks she owes him one and follows him as he brings her through the corridors of the school. It brings back some nostalgic memories like as though she is reliving her school days. This has her thinking if she could stay like this forever. At this point, Mato learns that Ai is missing. The girls heard she went to buy a drink but never returned. Peter asks Ai if that is how she feels. Sort of. Ai knows that despite all the fun times, it will eventually end. When Peter decides to bring Ai, this is when Mato has found her. She warns Peter not to do anything to her but he says he is only trying to fulfil her wish. But with Ai letting go of his hand, he assures he only takes those who really wants to go. He walks away. Mato brings back Ai to the crowd as confused Ai tries to find out more about Peter. He is a nasty ghost of the school and takes away those who doesn’t want to grow up. So… You mean Peter as in Peter Pan? Ai feels the shivers but tries to brush it off as untrue. Mato adds that the place where she bought the drink is the top floor. You cannot go anywhere further. That is where Peter went. Mato carries on that Peter tried to take her away once when she was a student in this school. He hasn’t aged since and looked exactly as he was.

Episode 8
Ai says Peter’s name and Makoto wonders who. Poor guy gets beaten up for nothing. She falls asleep and dreams of Peter. She wakes up and makes a dash. She trips on a can but luckily Towano breaks her fall. She gets up and continues her dash towards the vending machine. She falls asleep and enters the dream world. It is day time and everywhere is flooded ankle deep. There is nobody around either. She wonders if she has gone back in time since a candy store that closed when she was young is still open. She then spots Mato. Or at least during her days at a student. She thinks Ai is a stray and wants her to leave. But since Ai knows her, Mato explains the truth. This is the dream of a baby left at a shrine. Powerless, all he could do was dream an endless dream called Neverland and live forever. That’s how this world came to be. People who dream started straying into this world. As many people come from all walks of life, the baby takes all their info and memories and ‘grows’. He is Peter and formerly the shrine was only his world but now he started to expand it by his will. Mato knows this because she asked Peter herself. There is a flying ship in the sky and he believes that is where Peter is. So how do they get up there? They fly up there! Can you transfer experience of flying? Sure Pikari heard from Teko the expert dreamer but that doesn’t mean she can do it? Oh heck, it’s a dream so they can. Mato first met Peter during her graduation and she didn’t want that day to end. He showed her his world and she visited many times. The ship is spilling water and if this keeps up, the world will be closed off eventually. Nobody will come here again. Peter thought to expand this world by bringing outsiders but Mato was against this idea. This made him sad as he told her never to come back here again. She never saw him again and wished to do so to tell him what she couldn’t then. On the ship they see Peter. He shows them a room that leads them to a shrine where the baby continues to cry. This is the source of the flooding. The more he expands the world, the more it leaks. So he is going to stop bringing outsiders and close it forever. Mato agrees but will stay with him here. That is what she wanted to say. After they hug, Ai is forced out of the dream. Her other friends are puzzled she is sleeping here. Ai starts crying and asks Teko how to continue a dream. There is something she must do.

Episode 9
Ai is stumped that despite Mato spilling out her feelings, Peter pushed her away and holed himself inside Neverland. With Teko and Pikari agreeing to help out, they give instructions on how to dream again. Man, it’s that easy. Ai is now back in Neverland but Teko and Pikari are there too. Well, they did say they will help her. Don’t worry, Makoto is guarding them for those curious enough to get close. Flying back up to the ship, Peter’s cat is trying to close the door on them but Teko and Pikari hold it long enough for Ai to go through. At the shrine, Peter is shocked to see Ai. She knows he loves Mato and hence pushing her away so as not to drag her into this world. It is that same love why she kept returning. Since Peter is dense about love, Ai confesses she likes him! Is that just an example? If Peter wakes up, he will go back to that baby and harsh reality. Neverland materialized thanks to this cat snuggling up to the baby. Ai will not stay by his side. She wants him to wake up and cry with all his might so someone might hear and find him. Peter is okay being alone as that is how it all started. Ai disagrees and knows he is still crying out of loneliness. Since he created Neverland, he can end it. As this is the town they are in, she is sure they will someday meet. Peter has come to terms with this and agrees but notes she like everyone else will forget this dream. She promises she won’t. Ai regains consciousness as Makoto is by her side (the duo returned to class). As Ai leaves, she feels she is forgetting something until she sees Mato, she remembers. She talks to her and assures Peter will never show up again because he has awakened. Mato starts to remember too. Growing old means her memories were getting hazy, huh? They then see Peter’s cat and it is trying to lead them somewhere. The shrine. They are disappointed to see Towano there. However he knows about Peter’s story. The mother of the abandoned baby returned shortly to take him back after changing her mind. He grew up to lead a normal life. He always thought Neverland was just a hazy dream. But what convinced him to be real? When Ai tripped and accidentally showed Peter her pantsu as well as her tripping before Towano. Pantsu activated those memories! Ai leaves the adults to be alone. Awkward at first, Mato then pinches him for not saying anything. Would you believe it if he did? Ai is left in tears and heartbroken. So she really loved Peter? Who else but her brother could lend a shoulder to cry on? They return to school and the mural theme of Peter Pan is finished.

Episode 10
Teko is going to stay at Pikari’s grandma’s place overnight for the New Year countdown. It’s not just her but the rest of the friends. Mato, Ai, Makoto, the cats and even Kokoro. Oh, Kodama too because of her pyjama party with friends failed to materialize. Great food, great games. Such a great time. When the rest hear Kodama is still hesitant to join the diving club, she gives excuse she doesn’t want to follow her wandering sister around. Since they have time to midnight, grandma decides to tell stories from her youthful days. She was diving for pearls but got hooked on scuba diving. Those days, scuba diving wasn’t sophisticated. She was scorned and laughed at by other fishermen. Nevertheless she continued to dive and explored the seabed to her heart’s content. One day she was at the edge of her exploration area. But she saw something that piqued her interest. She decided to go further. It was then she discovered a beautiful spot that eventually became one of the most famous diving spots in the area. It was also thanks to all the conditions that were right that enabled her to find this gem. The kids are awed but the point of all this is to do what your heart wants to do. So diving is still an option, right? Too bad everyone fell asleep before midnight and missed the countdown. Teko gets up early and has a chat with grandma about the many things she wants to do as a person despite her flaws. Everyone wakes up in time to see the first sunrise of the year. Teko gets a call from Chizuru and Akane who are doing the same. Great timing. Mato decides they should all visit the shrine now.

Episode 11
Pikari is sick. And today is her birthday. Teko has this idea to visit her at home but outside the school gates, she sees Kokoro sneaking around. Of course he is here to give Pikari a present but she is absent. Kokoro remains distant to Teko despite after showing each other their present for Pikari. Teko suggests a ceasefire since it is Pikari’s birthday. They have the same idea of getting her a star shaped birthday cake. Upon arrival at her doorstep, it seems grandma points out a ‘problem’. Grandpa, mother, father, brother and sister all brought cakes! So with theirs, there are literally 4 cakes! But Pikari is so happy she cried tears of joy. Can she celebrate while sick? Oh screw it. Just do it! Kokoro was reluctant to say but eventually tells his birthday which falls on Hinamatsuri, a day for girls. Later Teko knows Kokoro wanted to ask Pikari for a request. Hesitant at first, he finally reveals a burn-off event he wanted her to attend. It is an event where they burn dead grass over the hill before planting new ones. So Teko organizes her diving club members to come on that day as surprise. Kodama is also here and brought her friend, Kotori whose father is a staff for this event. If Kotori looks familiar, it is because she is that girl sharing the weird dream with Teko. As the gang tour the hills, the smoke may be thick but how the heck did Teko get lost from the rest since there is only a path to follow?! Because of that, she bumps into Kokoro in the midst of his job. It is then Teko realizes he is a boy. She always thought he was a girl trying to be a macho man! Insult? When Teko realizes that his love for Pikari is of the man type, Teko wants to support him! Is this embarrassing? Even getting help from the ‘enemy’? At the bottom of the hill, all participants get ready to burn a fire barrier. Being noobs, Teko and Pikari almost falter only for manly Kokoro to save the day. This is when the rest realize Kokoro is a boy. Ai still in shock denial… Here is another shock: Kotori is Kokoro’s older sister. It’s such a small world…

Episode 12
All Teko needs is to select one more diving elective and she will get her advanced diving licence. As the gang take their usual dive, Teko snaps some photos of the sea life. But back on shore, the photos of course turn out to be less than satisfactory. Mato suggests underwater photography as her last elective but surprisingly Teko wants to do night diving. Kodama and Kotori will soon be first years in high school. Pikari assumes Kodama will join the diving club but little sister reminds her that isn’t a given yet. Although Kotori expressed her interest to see Teko, Kodama might only do so to accompany her. Then there is more talk about their worries that the fun will someday end but you know what? Why think so much? Just go all out and have fun like they always have! Teko prepares herself for her night diving. To her surprise, Pikari has brought Kodama, Kotori and Kokoro as her cheer and watch squad. Teko takes a dive with the rest. She is awed at the different view of the seabed. The gang then gather, switch off their lights and wait a while. Once they get accustomed to the darkness, they start to move. Doing so causes the planktons to react and hence lighting up like as though they are fireflies. Back on land, our divers are treated with grandma’s great pork soup. When Kotori asks if Teko was afraid, she replies of how cool everything was. She might be a bit exaggerating to say how everything is so magical and fantasy-like. Maybe. From her perspective. But it’s reality. With grandma assuring how everything will be fine, this has Kotori excited to join the diving club. In that case, Kodama too. Yay. All the gang’s here now. At the start of the new term, Teko and Pikari are fortunately in the same class. They read each other’s letter to the other. As expected, lots of thanking and the things they look forward to do together.

Subnautica: Diving Deeper Into The Abyss Of Friendship
Just like last season, I wasn’t expecting anything much for this sequel. Hence the same eternal dilemma of whether to classify this series as absolutely boring or just calming healing anime. Or both. The usual ‘shenanigans’ involving our usual suspects especially Teko, of experiencing new firsts and realizing things (meetings, partings, etc) as she identifies and overcomes her weakness at the same time. From the looks of it, it looks like she still has a long way to go. That might sound forever if you compared in today’s fast moving world and standards but in this sleepy coastal town, doing it by her own pace is justified. At least we can all agree that Teko is somewhat closer to her goal now than where she was when she first started, right?

I might have said this anime is the same boring and/or calming effect like last season. However, there is one ‘shock’ factor that I did not anticipate. It is the supernatural part. Yes, Peter’s arc was to a point nostalgic and even spooky for me even if it is not meant to scare any daylights out of you. This small supernatural arc reminds me of Aria The Animation’s second season, Aria The Natural in which that season was filled with supernatural stuffs. It was a little scary now that I think back of it. Thus there was this fear that there might be some spooky supernatural stuff just to spring in some surprise but alas, nothing of that sort. Heck, even that Cait Sith makes its cameo appearance. It made me wonder if both these series are relate din the same universe! Both series are written by the same author so there is that possibility. Making it even more possible is that there is no timeline in dream worlds. Anybody from anywhere could pop up in the same dream of someone simultaneously. It’s a mystery nobody can really explain.

Thinking further about how Peter is Towano gives me headaches because it is like that time paradox thingy. Towano only managed to survive and live on because of Ai from the future being persistent in saving him from staying forever in a closing dream world. So if the future Ai have never done that, Towano wouldn’t have existed today. Ai and Towano might not be directly related or effecting each other in their lives but imagine the things in life that Towano had done, those small little ripple effects and consequences that might have not led to Ai or any of the other characters’ birth or coming into existence. Great. I’m getting a small headache trying to reason this. But not sure if it is plot convenience that Towano and Mato don’t remember this until the final moments. Especially Mato who knows about Peter, she should have at least remembered Ai since she has been in her class for a few years! I mean, when she thinks of Peter, she should know who Ai is, right? She was an integral part of Neverland, at least in its dying moments, which is one of the crucial moments of the dream, right? Therefore brushing it off as a dream before coming to terms it was real, yeah it feels kinda convenient.

Another surprising element for this particular arc is how Ai was thrust into the limelight for once. It was always Teko and/or Pikari who has been hogging episode after episode. Therefore this mini arc saw a nice little change with Ai becoming the main character for a while. It was surprising as well as lovely to see another side of Ai that we don’t often see. Because we all remember her as the one who always kicks her brother for every and no reason at all! So perhaps we see the power of love changing Ai for the better? Yeah, it was heart-breaking too at first when Ai’s love couldn’t be materialized. But I suppose in the end we all would prefer the spunky Ai we all know. Thus I could also say that this arc has the most ‘interesting’ episodes for this season, if not the entire series itself.

Many of the characters remain the same from last season. I would mainly be repeating myself again. Despite having said Teko still has got some ways to go and things to learn, I surmise that in this season I believe she has achieved becoming an expert dreamer. Yeah, that ’nonsensical’ flying dreaming episode sealed it. It’s like telling me, if she can’t get her open diving licence, at least she can be a dreaming expert. You don’t need any sort of licence for that! Just your imagination! But don’t laugh. Because remember what John Lennon sang in Imagine? You may say I’m a dreamer/ But I’m not the only one… Yes people, the world needs not more professionals, pros, specialists, masters or experts, but dreamers! Now that she has gotten her advanced licence, she can go on to dream further. So don’t worry about fun times going to end. If it comes, it comes. You will cross the bridge when you get there.

Come to think of it, the cats aren’t very prominent here either. As though they don’t want to get in the way of our main characters. They’re just hanging around and in case you need to be distracted for a while, you can watch them do whatever cute things they are doing. Hence no proper episode that focuses on them this season. Not that it matters anyway.

Kokoro as the new character adds a little more variety. Because of all the girliness we have seen in our main characters, Kokoro is more of the stubborn and manly pride type (like as though he was supposed to turn out female but God screwed up in the end and made him male last minute). Only made ambiguous by his gender. My guts told me he is a male and there were some ambiguous elements to try and confuse us and make us think he is otherwise. Well, I suppose Kokoro eventually being officially male is supposed to be the surprise factor that shocks our main characters? You know what they say on how strange the truth is. But let me get this straight. Teko when she thought Kokoro as a girl, viewed her as a love rival for Pikari? But now that she knows Kokoro is a boy, she supports him to be Pikari’s future lover? Okay. Perhaps that is no rivalry in that way. It’s a win-win situation for everybody because Teko can have her lesbianism friendship with her while Kokoro will be able to get a straight and healthy relationship with Pikari. Once he reaches the legal age, that is.

Kodama and Kotori feel somewhat irrelevant here since they don’t have many episodes for themselves and only limited screen time. Like as though they are just introduced in case there is another season, then they can appear more. Hence having setup Kodama having some sisterly issues feels like this is going to be her ‘challenge to overcome’, which I predict it won’t be overly complicated (sisters get into some small quarrel, reconcile, best sisters ever in the world again) before she would becoming a diving member once more. But now that they are part of the diving club, we should hear from them often. I doubt that they will be replacing Ai and Makoto because even if they have graduated, they’ll still be around as alumnus and alumna.

It goes without saying that the main draw for me to return watching this series is the BGM music. Yes, those lovely and calming acoustic guitar pickings that could rival those in Aria The Animation. Although this season has its own brand new album, many that I hear sound like taken from the original series. But that’s just because maybe I wasn’t paying attention enough. But I do notice that there are much more variations to the Umi To Sora piece. It is like this has become the main theme of the series. Nevertheless, most of the BGM pieces are still calming and fun to listen.

Last season, Maaya Sakamoto who did the opening theme now sings the ending theme, Hello, Hello. It’s a cute and calming song and if the series itself doesn’t have more Aria x Ohime love, this is where you’ll get your cat love spam. I guess it is better than last season where Aria spends most of his time in this part of the animation chasing after Ohime. Now they’re like a couple. Minori Suzuki sings the opener, Crosswalk. It tries to have that same feel as the previous season’s opening theme, Million Clouds. It is also nice in its own right but I still prefer Million Clouds. With last season’s seiyuus maintained, new ones joining are Ai Yamato as Kokoro, Aya Suzaki as Kodama (Kaede in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu), Ai Kakuma as Kotori (Miyako in Imouto Sae Ireba Ii), Miyu Irino as Peter (Ritsu in Mob Psycho 100) and Hiroki Takahashi as Towano (Hisoka in Hunter x Hunter series).

The art and animation still remain consistent as last season. The background and sceneries are gorgeous to look at if you find the story and plot too boring to follow. Also, the characters still have that trademark Pac-man face for comical purposes. But I find Kodama’s Pac-man look to be a bit strange because it makes her look sleepy. Those half covered eyelids must be it. But the oddest looking character is Pikari’s grandpa who looks so cartoonish that as though he popped out from some cartoon. I thought he might be some sort of spirit and it boggles my mind how someone this big can move so much agile and quick in the water (possibly faster than dolphins too). Maybe he is big because of all the air and buoyancy inside his body? Nah! Also, we see Pikari’s grandma in her young hot youthful days. It makes you wonder how she became so hagged like as though she is another person now. Maybe all that scuba diving and being in the sun through the years caused her skin to be like that?! Remember people, take extra precautions when being exposed to the elements.

Overall, this sequel is pretty enjoyable if you love the first season despite the same recurring themes that some would find boring. Not really sure if this series would go on to have more sequels and spinoffs like Aria The Animation but you can count on me putting it on my watch list if they ever get produced. Especially those irresistible acoustic guitar picking BGMs. Time to add more of those pieces to my personal library. Still not into scuba diving for laidback leisure (if this what this anime subtly intends us to explore) but with those great pieces of music, it’s more than enough laidback time I need. More than enough toxic cleansing and healing I need before I head back into the pitch black and corrupted wild seas of anime. Hope this is enough ‘air’ to get me through till the next season arrives.

Yuru Camp

May 27, 2018

Hmm… More girls doing outdoor stuffs? The last time we had that was a group of girls climbing a mountain. So now we need a group of girls doing camping? Okay. That is what basically Yuru Camp is all about. And no, not that camping in first person shooter video games, mind you. At first I thought YuruYuri had some sort of spin-off but taking a closer look, everything else is so different and unrelated. Next time don’t jump to conclusions after reading half the title’s name and make assumptions. Sorry, can’t help it. Not after that sinfully ecchi Nanatsu No Taizai and that misleading Zero Kara Hajimeru Mahou No Sho fantasy.

Episode 1
Rin Shima peddles her way to the campsite. She sees Nadeshiko Kagamihara sleeping soundly on the bench with no care in the world. Ignore her. At the lake, Rin sets up her tent and starts reading a book. She doesn’t want to like a fire despite the frigid cold as she doesn’t want it to be smoky or have things catch fire. But eventually night is falling soon so she has to go pick up some acorns and dry wood to start a fire. Get your notes ready as we have some short notes on how to start a basic fire with these items. She takes a break and heads to the nearby toilet and now sees Nadeshiko ‘moved’. She’s sleeping on the ground now. Night camping goes well. Then another toilet break. But a big scare of her life as Nadeshiko is crying before her! Scary! Run! Being chased! Back at her tent, Rin hears Nadeshiko’s story that she just moved here. She cycled here to see Mt Fuji but got tired, dropped everything and slept. She forgot to bring her handphone and doesn’t know her own number. She only has a deck of cards and an empty stomach. Want some curry ramen? Cough up some cash. Just kidding. It’s on the house. Please don’t pay in instalments. After having their amazing dinner, they are able to witness the majestic beauty of Mt Fuji on a clear moonlight night sky. Then Nadeshiko remembers her sister’s handphone number. Sakura comes to pick her up while apologizing as well as being thankful to Rin for taking care of her idiot sister. I think Rin feels a bit bad seeing Sakura shelling out some sisterly abuse. Rin gets kiwi fruits as well as Nadeshiko’s number as her reward. The new school term starts. What are the chances Nadeshiko goes to the same school with Rin? Maybe it might be the only school in town…

Episode 2
Nadeshiko is all excited to join a club. There are only 2 outdoor clubs. The other being hiking seems athletic so she’ll choose this more relaxing one. Since nobody is in, she sifts through the stuffs and got caught red handed by Chiaki Oogaki and Aoi Inuyama who think she is a thief. With the misunderstanding cleared, they welcome her to the club. I guess they need members badly. Why is their clubroom so cramp? Apparently they are using an old storage room and since their club only has 2 members, I guess they don’t need to take up much room. Of course their activities are all outside. They show Nadeshiko a tent they’ve bought. Almost a thousand yen and it might sound expensive, wait till you see other tents that range into tenths of thousands! This will do. So they try building a tent in the school courtyard. As it is right across the library where Rin is stationed, she realizes Nadeshiko goes to this school. She doesn’t want to associate with her and hides her presence. Her friend though, Ena Saitou decides to go help the stooges fix their broken tent (I guess that’s what you get for being cheap) and then points out to Rin for reference. Oh no. Here comes Nadeshiko running towards Rin. Warning. Idiot alert! Idiot alert! Thank goodness for the window. I’m surprised it didn’t crack. On a clear sunny day, Rin sets up another camp with the majestic Mt Fuji in sight. As this site doesn’t allow fires on the ground to prevent the grass from being burnt, she is mulling over renting a fire stand but that will cost her. Rin remembers Nadeshiko inviting her to join the outdoor club but she showed the most disgusting rejecting face. Yeah, she prefers her camping solo. Speaking of the devil (or idiot if you prefer), here comes Nadeshiko! Let’s camp together and make nabe too. How did she find her? Saitou told her.

Episode 3
Nadeshiko was camping outside her own house when she receives a message from Saitou on Rin’s whereabouts. So she hitches a ride on her Sakura’s car to head there. Nadeshiko makes the nabe and it is warm and good to eat on a cold chilly day. Rin apologizes for being rude the other day so Nadeshiko hopes she could join them the next time. But for now, the club has got lots of supplies to get. Is that why Chiaki is getting a part time job at some liquor shop? The duo stay out to gaze at Mt Fuji at night. Not sure how or when, Nadeshiko is now sleeping in Sakura’s car. Just in time for dawn to arrive so that she could see the first light of the day over the mountain. Too bad it got too comfy in her seat that she fell asleep. Then she goes into Rin’s tent to continue sleeping. And it is rise and shine for Rin. I guess she got a ‘souvenir’ in the form of taking a picture of Nadeshiko’s smug sleeping face.

Episode 4
The outdoor activities club trio are taking stock on what they have for camping. They go through a catalogue of sleeping bags but with a lot of them pricey or unsuitable, I guess they have to experiment with the cheap one they have. How does it feel? Cold. When they add aluminium foil and cardboard box, it really starts to feel warm. Only one problem: You’re locked in and cannot get out. Yeah, you look you are ready to be shipped to a foreign country. So they get all the other items they need and then prepare for the day to hike to their campsite. At first Chiaki and Aoi are kind enough to offer to help out carry Nadeshiko’s stuffs since she brought the most and it looks heavy. Yeah, it is really heavy and they’re regretting it. Maybe they should ask her carry theirs? Don’t worry. Only a few more metres to their next pit stop. Too bad it’s uphill all the way. I don’t think anybody is going to give them a ride at that short distance. Thankfully they manage to reach the place. A nice beautiful view and of course pampering themselves to the ice cold treats at the nearby café. Meanwhile Rin has begun taking a journey to Kirigamine for a solo camp. Resting at a café, she finds some of the items expensive. Will she have enough money after saving up for essentials? Well, she just got paid so I guess no harm to splurge a little. The trio are making their way to the hotspring when Nadeshiko receives a message from Rin about her whereabouts. It is a link to a live camera at an intersection and Rin is waving hi! Hoping for a reply?

Episode 5
The trio just dip into the warm hotspring. Ah… So nice… Rin is just so jealous as she makes haste to the nearest hotspring. It’s 2 degrees, you know… After the bath, the trio get tempted to snack and rest since there is plenty of time to hike to their campsite. Rin finally arrives at the destination and hotspring here she comes! Oh… What’s this? The establishment is closed?! FFFFUUUU!!!! Adding insult to injury, the scene overlooking the town from the mountain top is covered with clouds. Rin will not give up and decides to look around to camp and make food. After all, she can still go to a hotspring on her way home. The 3 Stooges finally wake up and realize they have overslept! Rush! Rush! Rush! Luckily they arrive in time and begin setting up their tent. They use a Swedish torch in which logs tied together are filled with a kindling in the middle and its burning make it look like a giant candle. Looks good and different at first till the aluminium wires snap and the logs fall apart. Good thing nobody got burnt. They cook and enjoy dinner before retiring to bed. However their tent is too cramped for 3 people. So they draw a lottery. Well, Nadeshiko got the raw end of the stick as she gets to sleep alone. Thus she bugs Rin on how she is doing. I don’t think she is sleeping if she could reply. With her pals already fast asleep, Nadeshiko braves the cold night to head to the scenic top and take a picture of the beautiful town lights below to send to Rin. Amazed by its view, Rin also reciprocates but I wonder how long Nadeshiko had to wait since Rin had to ride and then hike up to that place (her tent is a bit far from that site). Next morning, everyone make preparations to head back. And Rin finally got her taste of hot bath.

Episode 6
Rin finally receives her ordered a package: A compact campfire grill. Now she can have campfires at places that do not allow burning on the ground or grill meat. Dear Saitou, this is not a small offertory box. Rin wants Saitou to help deliver souvenirs to Nadeshiko. Do it yourself. Well, she doesn’t have to walk all the way to the clubroom since Nadeshiko is found sleeping on the floor in the library! After learning she has this grill, she invites her to go camping with her this weekend since Rin offers to test it out. With Sakura chauffeuring them, it seems Nadeshiko’s intention to head to Lake Shibire is to investigate Chiaki’s claims that there is some legendary fish there. It may taste good over BBQ. I see. They stop by the supermarket to get some supplies first. However all the meat they want aren’t available. Only pork ribs and kalbi. Looks like BBQ is in season. I guess chicken skewers and Hamburg steak are their next best option. At the counter, they see Aoi. She is currently working here part time. Meanwhile Chiaki is surveying the next possible site for the club’s camping trip. She sees a classy old man cooking a classy meat in front of his classy but simple tent. He spots her and invites her to taste his meat. Nothing hentai, mind you. Delicious enough that it makes her consider want to buy a pan. Rin and Nadeshiko arrive at the lake in which they need to head to the campsite by foot. Rin heard rumours that this place has some cow ghost. Say what? Oh, Nadeshiko is paralyzed in fear now.

Episode 7
Nadeshiko makes a prayer at an altar. It better worked. Oh, that classy old man turns out to be Rin’s dad as he packs up and returns home. Like father, like daughter? Rin and Nadeshiko set up their tent. The latter then explore the surroundings. She visits a couple of campers nearby. She is impressed with their tools and believes they are veterans. Because the girl is somewhat drunk, Nadeshiko minds their business and leaves. Oh, that girl is his sister. Rin has a hard time trying to start the fire with her coal. Nadeshiko gets help from the camper neighbour as he gives a different and easier to burn coal type. It might not last long compare to Rin’s one but at least the fire can be started. Camping is saved. Night falls as the duo start cooking their nabe while wrapping themselves in blankets to be protected from the cold, making them look like some secret society members. They share it with their camper neighbour and the sister is still drunk. Did she not stop? I can see a few bottles on the table… Rin and Nadeshiko start grilling their meat. The true event they’ve been waiting for. Once they have their fill, the coal is still burning so they continue to use it as campfire. Rin asks about her life before coming here. She used to live in the outskirts of Hamamatsu and on a clear day she could see Mt Fuji although very small. That’s why she was so happy when she could see it close up. Also, she fell asleep during the car trip and couldn’t see Mt Fuji close up, thus the reason she went biking on that day. When it is time to sleep, Nadeshiko wants to sleep alone but Rin doesn’t want her sleeping space to be so cramp. You’re on your own. When Rin couldn’t sleep, she takes a night stroll. Suddenly a cow ghost appears before her! Yikes! It must be the fastest sprint back to her tent. We all know it is drunk sister but I can’t blame Rin since it was too dark. Has Rin ever prayed so hard? The longest night ever for Rin? Fortunately nothing came about for the rest of the night. But the next morning, Nadeshiko finds Rin sleeping next to her. What did she say about sleeping together again? Nadeshiko snuggles closer to her.

Episode 8
Chiaki shows Aoi the mini table and other assortments she got. During their last trip, they spotted a couple with fancy tables and chairs enjoying their time. Yeah, the trio only had a candle on a tarpaulin. So sad… But the mini bowl is too small to hold anything decent and because it is made of wood, there are lots of don’ts instead. The duo then experiment in using an iron pan with Saitou helping them out. They also discuss the next camping trip for Christmas. Aoi says she’ll be spending it with her boyfriend, shocking Chiaki. Just kidding. The ultimate troll. But Chiaki trolls her back when Aoi mentions she spends Christmas with her family, prompting Chiaki to be shocked she has a family?! They invite Saitou to come for a day trip too. She is not sure as she hates the cold but it sounds fun. She will tell them after the exams. After the exams, Chiaki and Aoi take Nadeshiko to an outdoor equipment shop, Caribou. She is warned that many of the items here are expensive. They are at awe with the variety of burners and lanterns but I suppose they can only watch and hope to come back with enough cash to buy it. At least the shopkeeper is nice enough to let them take pictures of the items. The trio then get some mats that will help them keep warm while sleeping on the ground. As they talk about working to earn money to get more stuffs, it reminds them of a teacher named Minami Toba who is rumoured to love drinking and hence the nickname Miss Chug. Nadeshiko has a feeling she met her somewhere. At the end of the shopping, the trio get nice and warm delicious steamed buns nearby. Nadeshiko couldn’t resist eating them and goes to buy more once she finishes. There goes her savings to buy the next camping equipment. Maybe the buns are that good because Aoi does the same… Screw camping, maybe they should just have a steamed bun eating club.

Episode 9
Rin invites Nadeshiko to camp with her at a riverside. Eager beaver wouldn’t miss it for the world. Too bad next morning she is down with a cold. She thinks she is okay but Sakura stops her. If she says she’s not okay, then she is not okay. Oh well. Rin is used to solo camping. But when she arrives at the place, it is cordoned off. With no alternative, she turns back. As she is resting, she meets a fellow camper who informs her that the road to that campsite is always closed. To preserve the nature of the area, private vehicles are not permitted and there is a shuttle to take them there. Before she leaves, she gives Rin some tea to keep her warm. So Rin returns to take the right route and path so as not to waste her trip. She sends pictures to Nadeshiko. As Rin visits a temple that worships dogs, Chiaki comes to visit Nadeshiko. Chiaki is supposed to make some food for only Nadeshiko but her whole family now anticipate her cooking. Can she live up to their expectations? It is way better than expected. Rin’s trip now takes her to a hotspring. Is her hotspring revenge still not over? She orders an insanely huge katsudon serving. So full that she starts dreaming this strange dream that a dog ate her salad bowl and Nadeshiko is some sage on a journey to defeat some monster monkey. I hope the food isn’t drugged. Rin wakes up from her sleep and realizes she overslept! I know the place lacks staff but nobody thought it was a weird a girl just slept at the table for hours? She could have been dead for all you know…

Episode 10
Oh dear. Rin is running late after oversleeping. She is rushing on her bike. Ride safely. As she nears the campsite, she panics because the road is blocked. Taking a detour means a few more hours. She calls Nadeshiko for help. Luckily Chiaki is able to help by telling her to just go through the blockade but push her bike. Eventually she manages to reach the campsite and sets up her camp. She might have to use a bit more energy chasing down her tent and other items due to the windy forecast. Can you say that setting up her camp was in-tents (intense)? Haha! Sorry. After dinner, Chiaki calls her to explain she found out that roadblock was forgotten by the construction workers. She thought it was odd there were no signs to say why it is blocked and it was only occupying half the road. Chiaki invites her to join their Christmas camp. Sorry. Nope. After that Saitou calls her as Rin updates her situation. Saitou tells her she is invited to their Christmas camp and hopes Rin would reconsider. At school, Saitou tries out the outdoor club and as practice, they do a dry run for their Christmas camp. Saitou wonders if they are going to exchange presents then but the girls are too poor to buy gifts at the moment. And nobody is going to believe Chiaki’s philosophical crap that Christmas comes from the heart. Nadeshiko suggests showing hospitality as their present like cooking for each other. Meanwhile Toba dreads over being a club advisor because this cuts into her drinking and foreign drama series time. She sees the outdoor girls burning outside and misinterprets they are starting a fire. She goes to lecture them but they tell her they got permission from Oomachi. They go to see him and he thinks of letting Toba handle the outdoor club since has so many other clubs on his hand. Wait, what? The girls rejoice! Toba regrets. But she can breathe a little easy since this club isn’t that busy and she doesn’t mind a little camping once in a while. When Rin suggests the Asagiri Highlands for their Christmas camp, Toba could think of bacon and beer as the best fit. This prompts Nadeshiko to remember her as the drunk lady!

Episode 11
Christmas camp is here! Toba, Chiaki and Aoi are the first to arrive as they register at the reception. Toba is already out drunk. Rin arrives next but do not see them so she walks around on her own until Nadeshiko arrives. Rin gets a text from the duo that they are at the nearby dessert station. This prompts Nadeshiko to be hungry (although she just had lunch) but since she is short on cash this month, Rin helps make s’mores (marshmallow biscuits). Wow. They look delicious! Chiaki and Aoi have bought some firewood but since it is too heavy to carry back and Toba is drunk, they ask Rin for help. Her scooter is a big help but it seems that she leaves one bundle for them to carry back since it is already too heavy for her bike to carry. Take it slow and easy… Saitou announces her arrival by ‘sending an assassin’. That’s her dog, Chikuwa dressed as a bunny? Immediately it hides under the warmth of Toba’s seat. To lure it back out, Saitou gives Nadeshiko a chicken sausage. Now she has to run for her life. She is still at it when the girls finish making their camp. Heck, there are other kids joining in on the chase. More mayhem when they add frisbee into it. When it is evening, Toba has awakened from her slumber. They give her cocoa but she adds rum with it. The girls then start making sukiyaki for dinner and fully enjoy their meat. Except for Toba who might be regretting she didn’t bring more liquor along. To add to the fun, all of them dress in the Santa outfit they brought. This is a Christmas camp, right? But they soon realize they look like a bunch of mall Santas gathering after work. The sukiyaki affair continues with tomato added. But then the gas goes out. Nadeshiko is supposed to have extras but she realizes she forgot them. Horror! Toba has a spare but it too soon runs out of gas. Are they doomed and tomorrow’s breakfast is not possible? Don’t worry. Rin will ride to the nearest convenience store and get some stuffs. The camp is saved.

Episode 12
Time skip? Because it is like 10 years in the future with the girls camping and drinking alcohol. They talk about Nadeshiko who is now the CEO of a giant firm in USA. The BS ramps up with Nadeshiko arriving in a flying tent! Damn her imagination is so vivid and she’s not even drunk. As they take a bath, they ask Toba about her brother. She corrects them that is her little sister and she is often mistaken as a boy due to her tomboyish looks. Damn I knew I was right! Paranoid Nadeshiko now wants to ascertain if Chiaki is really a girl! But Rin still cannot put her finger on that cow ghost she saw then. Once everyone is done, they tie up their hair like Rin’s bun. Except they make Nadeshiko’s one look like a cactus… Not sure if they are spoiling the outdoors camping fun because now they watch tons of videos on Chiaki’s mini iPad. Can they see all that with the campfire in the middle? As they hit the sack, Nadeshiko and Rin talk about their future like finding a job. Nadeshiko thought she spotted a slow UFO but Rin thinks it is a satellite. Next morning before dawn breaks, they get up to make breakfast and just in time to enjoy the sunrise peeking out from Mt Fuji. Then they pack up return home. Saitou looks like she is being hit by the camping bug as she borrows a book on one. However she still won’t join the camping club. One day, Nadeshiko tries solo camping. She is proficient enough to be independent but a few slip ups here and there. At the site, she messages Rin about it and coincidentally she too is doing solo camp. She has this idea to take a picture of their campsite and guess where the other is. When Rin sends hers, Nadeshiko is baffled to see her tiny self in it. She then realizes Rin is right behind her. Coincidence? Great campers think alike? But so much about solo camping.

Episode 0
This short takes place before Nadeshiko joins the club. A time when Chiaki and Aoi just got the clubroom. They are surprised it is cramped and messy like hell like a storeroom. What do you expect? Aoi borrowed a camping magazine from the library so the duo relive their camping fantasies with the featured items. Until they realize how costly all of them are. This has Chiaki wonder why special camping items are needed instead of ordinary household items like bringing your own knife (looking like a murderer), bringing your own futon (looking like a thief) and cooking your own food (with a lighter?). Chiaki relates camping with her family once when she was younger. She loved it and wants to do it again with her friends this time. Aoi finds some poles in the room and turn it into some makeshift camping tripod. They then go through all the boxes in the room and use their imagination to turn what they can find into some lame hobo camp? Not going to fly. They find a cheap tent online and even though it is out of order, no harm in trying to place their order now in hopes it will be available for next week’s Golden Week. At least this is a start. They get confident and dream all the great camping things they will do from now on. But then, autumn has arrived and they have done nothing… Keep dreaming…

Hora Camp
Although this special loosely means BS Camp, at first I thought I thought it was Horror Camp… It is for Nadeshiko… It all started when the outdoor club girls are talking about different camping styles in different countries. If it sounds unbelievable then it is only because it so. When Aoi has those weird eyes (why do they remind me of Amanchu?), it is a sign that she is talking crap and nonsense. Later Nadeshiko is shocked when Aoi has shrunk! Mini Aoi? Even her boob size has gone smaller. Then the real Aoi pops up. This is Akari, her little sister. What’s she doing here? Asides cosplaying as her sister, she is here to officially apologize about the mix-up Aoi made between the sobau (type of bird) and soba udon. She joked sobau don that a dish was made using this bird and hence lots of calls rang to complain about it even though it doesn’t exist. It’s hard to wonder if they are sincere since both sisters are making those eyes. When Akari asks Nadeshiko about the view of Mt Fuji from her prefecture, Akari suddenly puts a face of displeasure. Apparently there is a conflict from the Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures of the better view of Mt Fuji that could lead to war! Nadeshiko starts getting scared when Aoi says how she’ll be branded a traitor and locked up forever but you can tell they’re pulling her leg. Those eyes again… Later when Rin pops up to says she’ll be moving to Alaska to devote herself to winter camping, Nadeshiko isn’t buying it and knows it is Akari as Rin. Yeah, Rin can’t be this small. But suddenly a bigger Rin enters (Sakura in disguise). At this point Nadeshiko is not only shocked but scared because everybody else also follows Rin’s buns and surround Nadeshiko. Horror! She calls the real Rin (comfortably snoozing away in the library) desperately trying to find out which of them is her.

Survival Camp
The girls are going to Australia for their camping! Thanks to Saitou’s dad’s friend who helps pilot them there in his private jet. It’s like Saitou jinxed it by saying this is going to be safe because the instruments are starting to go out of control. Heck, the pilot says no worries even with the alarm ringing like hell! I’m sure he doesn’t want to scare cute little Japanese girls. Too bad all of them already bailed and parachuted away! WTF???!!! IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE???!!! But thankfully they landed on a deserted island. At least God is giving them a survival chance. At the end of the first day, they manage to make a decent camp. However they have no food and some are already starting to eat imaginary bananas! Is this what you call going bananas? I guess everybody take turns eating a strand of emergency ramen until there’s no more. With everybody thinking how this would be like a survival camp, can’t do that on an empty stomach, eh? Only Saitou is sleeping like a baby. It’s like she says f*ck all this and just go with the flow. Next day, probably God didn’t want our cute girls to starve so they manage to find a bunch of real bananas! More luck as Rin manages to fish a huge fish and they also have coconuts for drinks. Now their fun survival camp can begin as they cook different varieties of banana, make a banana frisbee, go diving and even Rin is surfing on a plank?! OMG?! Pay your homage to the Banana God! As they continue to relax, suddenly it dawned to them this is no survival camp. They are really stranded! I wonder how far their voice can reach if they scream at this very edge of the island? Yeah, maybe they are at the wrong end because this deserted island seems awfully close to Japan. Mt Fuji? And yeah, only Saitou is the one still sleeping like a baby.

Camping No Susume
Sorry girls, watching this anime didn’t make me feel like wanting to go camping or even do any outdoor activity. I’m feeling so lazy that I could even fall asleep at my desk right now. Is that a fancy way of saying that this series is boring? If you are that bloodthirsty adrenaline junkie or perverted kind of person, just saying… But I’m not that cold hearted of a person and despite its slow pace of nature, I can still find the calmness within to appreciate this series. After all, I already know what I am getting into when I decided to watch this anime.

The plot and story might seem boring because it is just a group of high school girls camping outdoors. But when you compare it with another series in that same season, Ramen Daisuki Koizumi-san, this one fares better because at least this has substance. That ramen show felt like a big advertising for ramen. Sure, this one also tries to promote camping (because who these days aren’t glued to their Smartphone screens and the internet?), but this is done with at least some story and character development, albeit a bit. Of course if you are really interested into camping and a newbie who wants to try this out, there are other better and comprehensive sources to do so. This series no doubt has some camping hints, do’s and don’ts in every episode but those are just the basics. Nothing too deep and complicated. After all, the best way is to get experience yourself.

The series might try to paint camping as fun and easy but it is as true as that. If you have the basic tools and knowledge, (don’t forget your basic etiquette too), you can make a pretty decent camp. So for what you see here are not exaggerated feats. You can pull off the same things they do. It sounds ridiculous at first using high school students going camping and it looks possible only because it is anime. But we’re not slaying dragons, fighting Satan from hell, piloting mechas to stop a takeover or busting evil machines from another dimension so mostly everything here is believable. Yeah, no skimpy outfits too. This is one of the few shows where girls really cover up! Sometimes from head to toe. Literally.

I keep drawing parallels between this series and Yama No Susume. You can obviously see both series have young school going girls doing an outdoor activity. Mt Fuji seems to be the centre of attraction too. Whether it is hiking up or camping before its magnificent view. To show the minimal and decency that any normal person could do such things, hence you see affordable equipment and tools from both series get (as well as comparing more expensive ones) as they make do with their budget for a simple climb or camp. Don’t forget the dynamics of their interaction and friendship bonding in the wild that makes both series such a calming one to watch.

The characters are lovable especially with Nadeshiko being the resident retard and glutton of the pack. I feel that without her, the group of camper girls will not be as interesting and lively. Yes, we have Chiaki but she only plays the comical parts when the time or scene calls for it. Nadeshiko is like, you can expect something overtly funny from her most of the time. At least a simpleton like her makes her honest in her emotions and thoughts.

Rin is also interesting because she started out as an introvert and solo camper. But with persistence (AKA continuous bugging) from Nadeshiko, she too falls under her influence and becomes open to the idea of group camping. She still has her reservations but at least she is slightly much better than before. Saitou is also an amusing character although it feels she has this enigmatic aura around her. Her interactions with Rin over the social media feels a bit weird. The jokes she makes to Rin feel subtly one kind but not cheesy or distasteful. It’s like she is the wait-and-see kind of person and prods Rin from time to time if ever the need arises.

Toba feels like a character who screams I-wish-I-wasn’t-here-doing-this. My guess is that despite being forced to be the advisor of this club, she generally has no qualms about it because she gets to drink all she wants in the wild. I mean, who is going to stop her? She can get drunk without being a total nuisance unlike in society. But just don’t leave your liquor around and turn curious bears into rampaging drunks terrorizing campers. Boy, that sure escalated quickly. Last but not least, Chikuwa as the animal mascot of the series to ramp up the cuteness and kawaii factor. Wow. Camping life so perfect. Good scenery and spot, good food, good tent, good friends and a good furry pal. Camping out is so much fun, doo-dah, doo dah…

Now, you have got to agree with me that for most of us who have heard the opening theme, at first we would all go into ‘shock’ of how similar its opening theme, Shiny Days by Asaka sounds to Jackson 5’s I Want You Back. OMG! Did they just freaking rip off the opening solo part from it???!!! I mean, heck I thought they were actually going to play I Want You Back!!! Yeah, I am already seeing memes over the internet of our camping girls having afro hairstyles… But yeah, because of this song, it makes it quite fun despite the rip off. Damn, now I think they should have just totally ripped off the Jackson 5’s song instead of spoofing it. Yeah, I really feel like singing that song. From now on, this song will be associated with camping! In line with the calming pace of the series, the ending theme, Furu Biyori by Eri Sasaki is a very slow and calming piece. Sometimes it makes you want to sleep. Not in the boring sense, that is.

I believe one of the main draws of the series is also its BGMs. There is a variety of them and some of them are to my liking. Mainly there is one or two that sound close and worthy of being an Aria The Animation or Amanchu BGM! Not kidding. The very soothing guitar picking does bring back memories of those series. Others that caught my attention include the fun whistling-cum-banjo-picking one. Yeehaw! Then there are a couple of flute BGMs that make it sound like as though it has some Irish or Celtic influence. Even though you’re camping in the countryside, hearing such music can transport you into the magical fantasy world of your own imagination.

Voice acting feels pretty fine and laidback. Well for most of the time whenever they’re not flustering or panicking for comical sequences. Aki Toyosaki is very recognizable as Aoi as she sounds like one of her trademark characters (Yui from K-ON!). I could barely recognized Marina Inoue as Sakura (and at first mistakenly thought it was Yoko Hikasa) as she has been slowing down in the anime scene lately. At least, not in animes that I have watched. Didn’t manage to recognize Nao Touyama as Rin too as I haven’t been hearing her as often lately. Oh, Shizuka Itou is behind Toba’s voice. Am I so laidback that I can’t even recognize her now? The other casts are Yumiri Hanamori as Nadeshiko (Hanako in Anne Happy), Sayuri Hara as Chiaki (Rhythm in Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream), Rie Takahashi as Saitou (Akua in Renai Boukun) and Akio Ohtsuka as the narrator (titular character in Black Jack).

The art and animation for the characters are pretty standard. But it is the background and sceneries that take the cake. They are beautiful to say the least. This is after all a camping series. The sceneries like the lake, the forest landscape and Mt Fuji are hand drawn and if you don’t focus too much, they sometimes look like a real photo shot. It really gives a sense of calmness while watching this series, taking a break away from the hustle and bustle of the city life. Animated by C-Station, a relatively low key production studio who only have a few titles to its name, namely Seikoku No Dragonar, Starmyu and Hakyuu Hoshin Engi.

Overall, if you are tired of all the anime crap produced throughout the seasons and the current season has too much anime of being anime, perhaps this could help rejuvenate and renew your beliefs that not all anime series are bad. While this might be considered as boring at first and on the outlook, you’ll find that there is a calming and soothing charm to it even if you are not into camping nor an outdoor person. It is so comfortable that I don’t want to go outdoors and continue to sit back in my comfy chair and comfy room continuing to watch (not necessarily comfy) animes. I think I can get used to this sort of ‘camping’.

Slow Start

May 19, 2018

Here we go again. Time for the cute girls doing cute things trope for the season. Uh huh. So what is the setting this time for Slow Start? Apparently our main character missed the important high school entrance exam and is now a year behind. Her new school mates are not aware of this but she is hell bent in trying to catch up with everyone else. Yeah, that sounds like a yawn fest but if this is cute girls doing cute things, they’ll try to cover that up with some friendship bonding thingy that will have you squealing in all the cute and moe fashion. Gyah~!!!! So kawaii!!!

Episode 1
Hana Ichinose receives her first year high school uniform from her cousin-cum-roommate, Shion Kyouzuka who is excited to take pictures of her in it. Hana gets message spam from her mom about her first day. After the entrance ceremony, Hana sees Eiko Tokura reunited with a petite childhood friend Kamuri Sengoku whom she has not seen since kindergarten. That’s because Kamuri has not grown too. Hana feels lonely as everyone else has already made friends. Even more so when she sees Eiko introduces Tamate “Tama” Momochi to Kamuri. When the homeroom teacher, Kiyose Enami begins class by having everyone introduce themselves, Hana is first on the register. Being shy on her first day, she didn’t put much enthusiasm in it. Enami then realizes today is Hana’s birthday. Embarrassed, surprisingly everyone claps and wishes her happy birthday. Later, Eiko, Tama and Kamuri give her birthday presents and one of them includes a road safety charm given out for free at the train station. They become friends and decide to show Hana the sakura trees at the station. Along the way, they discuss the origins of their name. While Hana is simply from spring season, Tama is embarrassed to be called her full first name as her parents named her after that folklore box. Kamuri is also an unusual name and it might be derived from some crested serpent eagle. The girls would love Hana to tell them more about herself but since she only moved here a year ago, she can’t say much. Hana invites them to hang out there sometimes. Back home, Shion celebrates her birthday as well as her first day at school. She can tell Hana is in a good mood and has made friends. Aside the umbrella present from Shion, she also gives that road safety charm. Going to school will sure be a lot safe. Before going to bed, Hana calls her parents to tell she has made friends and doing well. Next day at school, Hana fears her pals have forgotten her name as they keep calling her as yesterday’s birthday girl. Luckily they still do. It is just that the birthday part had a great impact on them.

Episode 2
Flashback a year ago, when Hana was supposed to sit for the high school entrance exam, she got mumps followed by high fever. She was forced to miss it and got well after it is all over. She became disheartened about being a year behind all her friends so mom suggested to go live with Shion who is the landlady of her uncle’s apartment. In a new environment where nobody knows her, it will be good to get a fresh start. The friends are eating lunch together. They tease Hana for perhaps dating Shion since she made quite a lovely bento. Eiko’s little sister always makes soup for her. Despite studying for her entrance exam, she goes to great lengths to cook for her. This triggers Hana to rap Eiko to take better care of her sister. Yeah, she feels so strongly about entrance exams. When Hana returns home, she apologizes to Shion she can’t go out with her. WTF? The girls are having a physical sports test. Hana is of course very unfit. Kamuri seems to be able to run faster than the average (less wind resistance?) so a girl who is impressed with her starts praising this and that, scaring the hell out of Kamuri. Luckily Eiko was there to ‘save’ her. Hana continues to flop in many of the tests. Until the final hand-grip-strength test she finally nailed a normal score. However she starts to have cramps. Her friends immediately head to the infirmary to get some compressors but soon get distracted with the new ice cream vending machine. Mmm… Nice ice cream. Meanwhile Hana is still in pain so they think some banana flavoured ice cream would help. Didn’t. It tastes bad too. Luckily Hana soon recovers. However she might not be when she hears the test will continue into afternoon too. As the friends go home, Kamuri just wears shoes without socks. It is an odd sight since she is often wearing knee socks. Hana has a hard time trying to tell Shion not to make bento that would give her friends the wrong idea. Well, Shion gets the hint although she says it right in her face she knows how much a pain she is after living here for a year. Ouch. And so the bento now looks like they have broken up.

Episode 3
The girls are discussing what they’ll be doing for Golden Week. Eiko leaves for a while when a girl from another class calls her. This makes Kamuri shy even around Tama and Hana. So when Eiko returns, Kamuri gives her a big hug! Like as though she has never seen her in years… Tama suggests hanging out on Golden Week so Eiko thinks it would be better to form a study group as the test is around the corner. Even Hana agrees! You lose, Tama. Since they want to see Hana’s place, she agrees to make her room their study group session. During the week, Hana’s parents visit her and are glad she is doing fine. The next day, Hana’s friends arrive. Even after a year moving in, her room is so empty. Well, she always goes to Shion’s room for meals. But what does she do in her own free time then? Study. Oh. Before they get to that, Eiko and Kamuri surprise the duo with a happy birthday confetti (oh great, now the ‘clean empty’ place is all messed up). Although today is not Tama’s birthday, hers and Hana’s fall in the same month so they think it is good to celebrate it before their study. They also give a proper birthday present this time, twin teddy bears. When Kamuri notes they are now the same age, Hana starts crying. Uhm, I don’t think that can be passed off as tears of happiness. Blissful moment is here when they have some cake and start feeding each other. Then the study session begins. When Eiko leaves for the toilet, Kamuri again becomes shy. The duo try to ask questions but she gets scared and runs. Tama starts chasing her! Luckily Eiko returns and hence the ‘bullying’ ends. The friends leave at the end of the day and they hope to come back again even if it’s not to study. Hana opens her birthday present from her parents. It is a beautiful snow globe and she puts it next to her teddy bears. At least her room is less empty now.

Episode 4
Shion forgot to bring a package for Hiroe Hannen, the tenant who lives upstairs and since she is busy with cooking, Hana offers to do it. But knocking on Hiroe’s door for the first time is scary because Hiroe thinks this is a scam. The last time was a busty woman (Shion) and before that an old man (her uncle). When all calms down, Shion introduces the duo. Both are nervous and shaking while shaking hands. It seems Hiroe is staying here as she is studying for the entrance exams. However she failed them all and is still failing! Hana knows the feeling. You know it is too good to be true because it is just a dream when Hana tells her friends about her situation and they quickly accept her. Hana sends another package to Hiroe. She feels like invading her privacy although Hiroe invites her to stay for tea. As she doesn’t have much, she always orders via online. Besides, she can’t just go out to the convenience store as she has no proper clothes to wear. Flashback reveals Hiroe was a top student and had everything going for her until the day she took her college entrance exams. It was snowing heavily and she got stuck for 2 hours. Everything went downhill from there and that’s how she ended up here. Yup, Hana knows that feeling and reveals her similar situation. To improve her makeover, Hana thought of lending her clothes but it’s too small. Shion? Let’s say it is too roomy in certain areas. So she calls her friends to help. With Eiko exerting her dominance over her, I hope Hiroe doesn’t get traumatized. Hiroe has a complete makeover till the others almost doesn’t recognize her! Cast away all that fanciful makeover, Hiroe looks quite decent. Now they are all able to go out and help her shop for proper clothes. Bought quite a lot. Those salespeople must be really pushy. Oh right. It’s her first time outside since. At the end of the day, Hiroe is thankful to Hana for being ‘dragged’ out of her room. Otherwise she would never have changed. This motivates Hana to tell her friends her situation when the time comes. Well, take your time. Hiroe is now able to go out with confidence and looking presentable.

Episode 5
Looks like Kamuri forgot to wear her skirt to school! Hana is panicking so much that the rest don’t need to panic. Besides, it’s not like she forgot to wear her pantsu. Everyone wears pantsu underneath their skirt too, right? No big deal. Problem is solved with Eiko lending her gym shorts. Tama theorizes she forgot to put on her skirt is because she had dirty thoughts of Eiko. This leads her to show photos of Eiko that were being sold at dirt cheap prices in middle school. Tama doesn’t need them anymore and gives it to Kamuri. Oh yeah, she’ll frame them up. However Eiko feels something off. The Eiko she saw last year looked different. She had long hair unlike in the photo which has short hair. Hana also has this similar feeling because she too thought of seeing someone that resembles Eiko. Meanwhile Enami is wearing sweatpants because the head teacher told her off for wearing some skirt. Tama remembers about the inspection of checking for flashy panties and teases Eiko she might be wearing them. Enami wants her to show her panties! If not, she flips up her skirt! All okay. First time seeing Eiko having a mental breakdown. Don’t worry. Her mental gauge is restored with Kamuri’s petting and hug. Later the friends discuss the possibility of Eiko having a doppelganger. And something about if all of them meet, somebody has to die! Gullible Hana believes them?! Then they think they saw her clone. Kamuri approaches her. Looks a bit different. Eiko? She says yes?! Real Eiko pops up. OMG?! Doppelganger?! Actually, this is her little sister, Miki. She replied so because she thought it was the right thing to do, which isn’t. Kamuri relates last year’s experience when she thought she saw her on the street (it was Miki). She tried to approach her but she was on her handphone. All she heard was the school she might be going to and that’s who she applied here. It was a big gamble because there might be a chance she won’t even enrol here. Anyway, time for their usual big hug that brings tears to the gullible. When Miki mentions she will also be taking the high school entrance exam this year, this triggers Hana as she thinks her breath could jinx her. How long can she hold her breath? Not long. I don’t know how Miki interpreted this to be educational.

Episode 6
Because Shion will be away for a reunion, Tama will be staying with overnight with Hana. Shion and Tama are being dramatically polite with each other over Hana that Hana is embarrassed and confused. Later the duo go pick up Eiko and Kamuri. On their way back, they pass by an eel shop and this brings back memories for Tama who once worked at such a place. It was less than pleasant since lunch wasn’t provided. Didn’t think she could eat eels for free, huh? But since Tama is on a tight budget, she can’t splurge. So she often cooks for her grandmothers and this has the others praising her. Tama is surprised because even though she wanted them to praise her, she didn’t think they would be this serious. They chance upon Hiroe who is coming back from a convenience store. However she is back in her jerseys. I guess she has gotten lazy and hence forgot her fashion sense. They help her regain that sense and in exchange she helps them with their homework (this sleepover is still a study session). Thankfully she hasn’t lost her touch but the rest didn’t think she was this good. What were they thinking of her? They take a bath, have dinner and play a galge (somehow master Eiko aces all the girls so fast). When it is time to sleep, Tama wants to tell ghost stories. Oh, Hana looking scared. Eiko’s lazy story is that she doesn’t remember everything but only everyone dies in the end. Hana is already scared! That night, Hana can’t sleep because she kept thinking how a loose screw she found in her room could topple the apartment. Tama assures her the building’s structure isn’t that flimsy. And something about comparing dating simulations to how different everyone is and hence Hana is an admirable girl for doing her best to live on her own. It puts Hana’s heart at ease. Next morning, there is an indent on Kamuri’s face. She claims it is Eiko’s hard nipples! But Hana fears it is the curse of the screw! It is actually the button on Eiko’s shirt. Hana then finds the loose screw origin. It comes from a switch cover. Why was Kamuri having it?

Episode 7
It’s Eiko’s birthday and everyone gives her hairpins. She’s wearing a bunch of them on her head too. Enami too has a cheeky one: A paper clip. Eiko then cheekily bends it into a heart shape but Enami isn’t a fan of that so she ‘warns’ her to remove all her hairpins before the start of class. Enami might have a weird sense of humour but this is what Eiko likes about her. So she likes hard to get type? One morning, Enami wakes up back in her apartment fresh from last night’s hangover. Enami is sleeping on the floor with her hands gagged! Oh my. What just happened? It seems she had too much of a drink with her friend last night. Eiko saw them and offered to bring Enami home. Enami’s mind was fuzzy and all as she didn’t oppose to Eiko staying. Fearing she would do a prank while she is asleep, she told her to put out her hands and she’ll tie it. Enami feels guilty about it and this only serves to make Eiko laugh as she loves the sight of Enami looking meek. Enami freshens up herself and they have coffee. Eiko thinks of going home to bath but Enami smells her and thinks she smells good. Eiko felt embarrassed and leaves. Like as though she was winning and then suddenly Enami pulled off an upset move and wins it. So in school, Eiko is a bit cautious when Enami is going to get close to her. Later Eiko takes Hana to her secret spot. Panic trigger. Because it means something dangerous is going to happen? Eiko assure it isn’t something like that. Eiko reveals the necklace that Enami is wearing is made by her. She likes making accessories and seeing her wearing them makes her feel happy. I guess Hana was so touched that she started crying. This is Eiko’s first time telling this secret to others. That means you’re the first, Hana. This prompts Hana to wonder if she could share her secrets with her friends.

Episode 8
Hana is supposed to have class duty today with Nanae Takahashi but ends up late. Although Nanae is cool about it, it only worsens Hana’s guilt. When Hana’s friends learn about it, they also learn this is the first time Hana talked to Nanae. In fact, she has never spoken to half of her classmates before since there was no chance as a reason to. Hence the friends help organise the other classmates to introduce themselves and talk to Hana. Looks like Hana could normally talk to them. No big deal. At the end of the day she writes her report on this and hands it in to Enami who advises her she doesn’t need to go out of her way just to talk to people. She is who she is and it is okay. Hana and co are thinking about getting new swimsuits. I guess the flat chests are up in arms when Eiko mentions hers don’t fit anymore. Mob mentality! At the store, Eiko tries a daring one that flaunts her body. Hana tries out a cute one while Tama wears a weird one with stars. As for Kamuri, she already bought hers without trying. Apparently she tried hers during the same time with Eiko and was hiding behind her. On the way home, they ask Hana if she can swim. Nope. Now she acts like a retarded penguin? Is she trying to prove a point that she’s not a penguin? The friends promise to save her if she drowns. They also plan before their next outing to the beach, perhaps they could stay over at Hana’s place. Next morning at school when Hana sees Nanae, she is anxious at first but decides to greet her as planned. And when she says hello, everything from then on flows smoothly. There, it wasn’t so hard, was it?

Episode 9
The girls are so looking forward for tomorrow’s beach trip. Too bad, it’s raining cats and dogs. Wow. It’s like the end of the world for Hana and Tama. But don’t worry. Eiko has this idea of not putting their swimsuits to waste. They can wear it in here instead. Hopefully no peeping toms. Tama is concerned that Hana’s boobs are growing so Eiko gives hope by saying if her chest hurts, it is a sign they’re growing. Hence Tama beats her chest like a gorilla. When Hiroe visits to give lychees, she sees this unholy activity. They won’t let her leave and force on an extra swimsuit on her. While Eiko’s swimsuit has lots of strings for decoration, Hiroe thinks hers is the same and pulls it. Almost gone commando over there! Shion then visits after hearing a commotion. Oh. Closes back the door. Time to panic? Yeah, maybe she’ll kick you all out for good. But then she returns in a swimsuit! I take it she wants in. I guess it is hands down she has the biggest boobs. Shion suggests they can go swimming in a nearby hotel’s pool. The adults go have a body massage while the young ones take to the pool. Hana can’t swim but even wading in the shallow end makes her scared. They also help teach her how to swim. As Hana is resting, she accidentally drops Eiko’s bracelet as it rolls into the pool. She panics and wants to get it and puts on a float. How the f*ck did she get stuck like that? But if you think about it, if she is going to dive in, why the heck does she need a float? Anyway, Tama gets it so Hana doesn’t have to. Eiko thanks Hana for being concern despite not knowing how to swim. When it is time to change, the girls except Eiko realize they forgot to bring their underwear. So what’s the problem of wearing it underneath your normal clothes? No, Eiko is not going to lend you hers. Luckily thoughtful Shion has bought some but they are a bit showy. Only Hana has a problem with it because it literally has a hole at the back despite it is supposed to be some pattern. Hiroe’s has lots of string so Shion assures it is for decoration and pulls it. Commando part 2!

Episode 10
Hiroe is at Hana’s doorstep. She looks a bit messed up and a bit panic as she screams Eiko’s name. OMG! Did Eiko rape her?! This is what happened. She was trying a shirt Eiko bought her but couldn’t decide to tug it in or leave it out. Panic, she called Eiko for help. She is fine either way and let her decide before hanging up. Poor Hiroe got so confused and with her bad coordination, that’s how she ended up looking so. Now she is bugging Hana for an answer. Too pressured to answer! Hana runs to Shion and makes it look like Hiroe was going to rape her! Shion has her answer but it looks like she might be turning into a different character. Eiko stops by to help out. She explains she was out shopping with her sister so she wasn’t free to entertain her call. As Eiko leaves, she gives Hana a flower hairpin. Next day in school when Hana bumps into Enami, she talks to her about her dilemma about keeping her gap year a secret from her friends. She feels uneasy doing so. She fears that if she tells, the status quo will change. From Enami’s perspective, things will not change either way. Just don’t overthink it. When she returns to her friends, she gets a shock when Eiko mentions about Shion saying about the gap year thing. Actually she was referring to Shion taking an unemployed gap year. Hana realizes she was too preoccupied with herself to even notice this. Talking to Shion about this, she mentions she did so to focus on becoming a landlady. Hana wonders what Shion will do after this. So I guess need some cousinly bonding as they bath together and Shion giving her a shark pyjamas for her to sleep. Weird… Hana asks more if she would continue to remain as the landlady. Shion admits she was stressed while trying to find a job especially all he friends already got one. She is still mulling over it. It was lonely at first being the landlady but at some point she realized it suited her. She could have met many people if she works but she likes it for who she is now as a landlady. More reminiscing when Hana first came here to stay. She was quite shy and Shion tried to make her feel at home. Hana cut her hair as Shion said it suited her well. Hana is thankful to have her as her landlady. This has Shion motivated to continue as a landlady. She notes everyone staying here is experiencing some gap year. They should call this the Gap Year Apartment. Hana disagrees with hers but it’s lights out.

Episode 11
Hana is sad that they won’t see each other during the summer vacation. However they have plans like visiting the fireworks festival. So prepare your yukata and get ready to gear up for more fun. First up, all the friends meet at Tama’s place as she introduces them to her mom and grandma. Then they head to the mini vegetable farm to pick up some fresh vegetables. They enjoy their tomato but Hana doesn’t know how to eat it and almost stain her white dress. So hang a plastic bag over her ear and eat it? The old ladies help the young ones put on their yukata. They note Hana as a very kind person. It makes her face beam with pride but this somehow embarrasses Tama because of some flag like a dating sim whereby a character’s favourability goes up? Huh? At the festival, they bump into several of their classmates. One wants to hug Kamuri and another one had her sandal broken and when Tama uses her handkerchief to temporarily tie it up, she insists she does not. Please take back your handkerchief. Shion and Hiroe are also enjoying themselves at this festival. It takes a great deal of burden off Hiroe’s shoulders about her college stuffs that she is stressed about. The quartet stumble into Enami. She claims she is on patrol duty to watch the students but something tells me she’s a bad liar. A little adult moment when Eiko wipes ice cream off her face and instinctively Enami licks her finger! System shock for Hana. The girls play sparklers and Tama wants to know the wish they made at the shrine. The rest won’t tell but Hana notes hers was more of thanks because school has been fun for her every day. Cue for terrific fireworks display. Tama and Kamuri return with a stash of seemingly super big fireworks but they turn out to be some mini black snake fireworks that soon sputter out.

Episode 12
Hana receives an envelope from her mom that contains some money. Hana starts crying but is not tears of joy. She thinks mom doesn’t want her anymore! A quick call to mom as she assures her that this is her allowance as Hana is now a high school girl and would love to get her own clothes. In school, Hana discusses with her friends if it is strange to wear clothes that mom picks out even though she is at this age. Each has their own opinion but essentially to each her own. They agree to go out shopping for clothes together. After a tiring day, Eiko hands Enami a candy. It is the type she likes but as she pops it in her mouth, the head teacher calls her. Enami puts the candy back into Eiko’s mouth and tells her to hold it for her. Of course by the time she is done, the candy is also gone. Eiko hints the taste is still in her mouth and gets a knock on her head. Eiko actually had another candy but I guess teasing tastes better. Hiroe tells Hana that she has registered herself for a summer course and shows off the school uniform she is wearing from Shion. But Hana notes that it is summer vacation so nobody is going to be walking around in those clothes. That night, Hana had a strange dream whereby Shion the spring fairy has her choose between a gold or silver Tama. Since she wanted neither, she praises her for her honesty. Her reward is that all of her friends reveal they have a gap year. In turn, Hana also reveals the truth and everyone laughs it off. But it’s not the same in reality as Hana regrets believing all that in her dream. Hana and her friends make good their promise to shop for clothes. Then they buy coloured teddy bears to represent their friendship and unity. Hiroe is before the summer course building and she has cold feet whether to turn back and procrastinate. Excuses, excuses. Thankfully she sums up her courage to take the first step. As promised, Hana takes a photo of her newly bought clothes with Shion to mom. Shion distracted her so please forgive that slightly funny face.

Slow Moving…
Sure, Hana’s happiness is slowly moving along but my real main concern is how long is Hana going to keep a secret her gap year? I know it is not really of a big deal or issue to me but it is one that is plaguing her throughout the series. That is why it is still remained a secret. Hence if she procrastinates and delays it year by year, by the time she is an adult and assuming she is going to reveal her big secret then, would it really matter? Yeah, it would have been like, it happened so long ago, girl. Why now? Why should I care? Or she can take this gap year secret to her grave and nobody could ever find out. Just live the rest of her life with that anxiety that someone would find out…

As usual, the plot doesn’t really matter and if you have seen this kind of show seasons in and season out, you can expect very much the same. Just presented in a different way and setting. Hana starts out as a socially awkward person because of her ‘disability’ but because after spending time with her closest friends, she feels at home and starts to open up more. The girls bond and grow their friendship to a point that this could be the best point in time for their memories. Uh huh. Don’t expect much from the storyline except for the girls in their daily shenanigans that also provide a few chuckles.

Even though a one year difference might not seem much but during schooling years I figure it feels very much like ages for a young person (after all, how long has a young person started living in this world?). With bullying and ostracizing on the cards, it feels like starting from a young age people like Hana has already learnt to lie. It is a situation of damned if she does, damned if she doesn’t. But knowing the trend of this anime and the friends that she has made over the year, she would have very well known that her friends are not the kind to start mocking her because she is a year older. Maybe they’ll tease her about it but won’t go so far as to intimidate or tease with ill intentions. I mean, let’s face it. We have seen generally the characters of Eiko, Kamuri and Tama. Are they the kind of people who will do such a thing? If so, they are not worthy to be her friends. But I am betting 100% that they aren’t.

Therefore Hana being scared to tell them their secret despite this sometimes feels it makes no sense because she is so just for the plot device. If she is quite comfortable and feeling at home with her friends, perhaps it is time to let the cat out of the bag? But then again when you think further about it, no matter how close you are to a person, perhaps human nature and guts will tell us to still be wary and not tell all of your secrets. I mean, what is human, right? Nothing but a miserable little pile of secrets! Oops. Wrong series. If her friends are her true friends, then revealing her secret would be best described as the people who matter don’t mind and the people who mind don’t matter.

About the characters, they are as generic as they can get in this kind of genre. Nothing out of the ordinary. But I guess I need to be a little fair too because these been-there-done-that type of characters give the series its own charm. In the sense that it is likeable in its own right as with other cute girls doing cute things series.

So like Hana as the main character has some sort of flaw to overcome. Hence in her bid to play catch up, she becomes the panicky type so as not to get her secret busted. Because it is greatly assumed that if you are a year older, you should know a lot of things, am I right? Yeah, kids always think they know everything. I can understand why Hana doesn’t want to look dumb before her friends but it also makes her look more gullible. Despite her slow start, she is making steady progress. But just like in a race, if you are catching up from behind, you need more stamina and power to draw level. Will Hana run out of steam by the time she does so? Will she even reach the finish line? These questions will not be answered this season. For now, just keep running.

Eiko stands out as a lady killer because it is her character’s personality as well as the series’ running joke that she can land any kind of girl with her natural charms in any second. If she was a guy, I figure the other girls would just die swooning over her. It is no surprise since Eiko has quite a mature body and is a little bold when it comes to ‘flirting’ (in the loosest sense). It is hinted that Eiko might have a thing for Enami since she is probably the only girl who won’t easily fall for her charms. With a face like that, is it any wonder why Enami is still single? Haha! Oops. Sorry. But I’m wondering because she is seemingly the most mature for her age, could it be that Eiko too holds a secret that she is a veteran gap year? Like that dream? Is she really 20 years old? Nah. Then there is the obligatory shy and emotionless petite girl Kamuri. It feels like either she is part of Eiko or Eiko is part of her because without that tall girl around, she ceases to function properly. Rounding up the quartet is Tama who is the usual obligatory noisy one. Yeah, every group needs one like her so as not to be seen as too boring because the other trio are like mellow enough that sparks cannot be lit.

Adding variety with other characters outside the circle are Shion and Hiroe. Fellow gap year residents staying in the same apartment feels like it is really staying true to the idiom of birds of the same feather. With Shion playing the big sister role and Hiroe who is already a ‘veteran’ being behind, Hana would have all the support she needs to get through this. With such people around her, she just cannot fail. I mean, she can’t right? Isn’t that why Hana got sick on that important day and then who knows what the heck she has been doing for the rest on the entire year. It isn’t like she is hibernating or anything. So call it a blessing in disguise that this delayed start of hers abled her to meet such wonderful people. I am sure she would have equally met others her age but there’ll be no setting for this series already. It will be overly generic already.

This brings me to wonder has Hana’s old friend really kept in touch with her? I mean, assuming she has normal friends back in middle school, shouldn’t they feel something is wrong when she ‘disappeared’? Oh right. She never told them so we won’t know if they have been fervently searching for Hana. New places, new faces. Hana is so afraid to go back to her old place in fear of the negative reception (she thinks) that it’s like as though she is living a life via witness protection agency. Just short of changing her identity. It would have been a much darker story if we see their side of the story. Her old pals looking for her in vain but became worried sick and disillusioned when they cannot ascertain if she is alive or not. Imagine if they bump into Hana and her new friends on the streets. It will be interesting to know the kind of reaction everyone will put up especially Hana.

The art style and animation feels so generic like other similar titles in the genre such as Hinako Note, Blend S, Sansha Sanyou, Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka, Ebiten, Acchi Kocchi, GJ-Bu and Wakaba Girl that sometimes I get confused if I am watching the correct anime. Especially Hinako Note because Hana has a very uncanny resemblance to the titular character. Oh great. Even their names sounds close enough for me to get confused. Heck, both are also similar in this characteristic trait that they are somewhat not good with other people. No wonder I’m so confused! Is it me or does Kamuri resemble Chino from Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka? Or Eiko like Blend S’ Miu? And Tama like Kyouko from Ebiten? By a long shot, Hiroe reminds me of a chibi version of Morioka of Net-juu No Susume. Animated by A-1 Pictures who brought to you many of your favourite animes like Sword Art Online, Kuroshitsuji, Nanatsu No Taizai, Ao No Exorcist, OreImo, Saenai Heroine No Sodatekata and Fairy Tail.

Voice acting feels generic. Nothing extraordinary that catches my attention since I recognized none of the seiyuus since the main casts are mainly newbies. The voice talents include Reina Kondo as Hana (Kaede in Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS), Tomomi Mineuchi as Eiko (Yae in Yakiniku-ten Sengoku), Maria Naganawa as Kamuri (Tamaki in Stella No Mahou), Ayase Itou as Tama (Arisa in BanG Dream), Mao Ichimichi as Shion (titular character in Space Patrol Luluco), Maaya Uchida as Hiroe (Eruza in Killing Bites), Manami Namakura as Enami (Saya in Dagashi Kashi) and Tomori Kusunoki as Miki (Hazuki in Marchen Madchen). The opening theme, Ne! Ne! Ne! by STARTails (the main quartet) is a typical lively anime pop befitting such genres. Same case for the ending theme, Kaze No Koe Wo Kikinagara by Sangatsu No Phantasia although it goes by a slower pace.

Overall, nothing spectacular as usual. Everything that is charming is mostly confined within the anime itself. It is okay, not that bad, not too shabby but it is not memorable in the long run. By the time the next season rolls out, the next cute girls doing cute things for that season would have overshadowed this one. So having a slow or delayed start isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, what’s the rush? But don’t take too long and start idling because it will be much worse when you then turn into a NEET. It will not be the case of slow start anymore but rather, never finished. It is worse than never starting at all.

Mitsuboshi Colors

May 18, 2018

Did Ichigo Mashimaro get some sort of revival? No they did not? Okay. Must be my imagination. Because seeing the poster of Mitsuboshi Colors instantly reminds me of that show. So if you’re into cute girls doing cute things, this is another one of those series falling into that category of the season. Only this time we lower the age of our cute girls. Yup, lolicons rejoice. Our main characters are young girls who go around town doing errands and protecting their town from evil. I knew I shouldn’t have believed it at face value when they said the policeman was the bad guy… It’s not that kind of show…

Episode 1
In the base of Colors, Yui reports a big problem but Sacchan and Kotoha aren’t interested till she mentions about a cat that looks like a panda. When asked to draw it, she draws it like a monster! Thinking they need to slay it, they seek the local police dude, Saitou for help but he shoots them down for having too much time on their hands. He feels guilty when Yui starts crying. He dispenses information about a panda-like cat who has been bothering the people by stealing stuffs. So if they can catch it, they can protect the peace of this town. They go on the case and find it but to no avail. Sacchan thought she could crawl around to get a cat’s eye view but this unleashes Kotoha’s sadism as she steps on her head. Eventually they find it hiding in their own base because they remember it stole something from it and did a stakeout. Saitou wants them to take care of it because if left to him, he will have to leave town forever. Saitou thinks he has washed his hands off this case but the girls promptly ‘thank’ him to pay for cat food. The cat is now named as Colonel Monochrome. The trio bought a rocket launcher from Oyaji’s shop and threaten to shoot Saitou for being corrupt! We know it’s fake but it looks real and Oyaji has a reputation of selling really strange things. They fire but nothing happens. Saitou notices the launcher has a safety button and tells them all about it but snatches it from them. Now he will blow them to smithereens! Only Yui is crying? Does she know what smithereens is? The girls call for a strategy meeting but eventually run away. Saitou fires and its head really launch! Though, it’s fake and Sacchan catches it by her hand. She throws it back to him and it hits his crotch! I guess that ‘exploded’. Saitou grovels in pain while Kotoha steps on his head… Victory. Oyaji brings a safe to Saitou’s police box. It seems a perpetrator left this and a message to whoever gets to crack the code, gets a treasure inside. Colors are excited to solve this case. But they need to solve the riddle of what ‘pan’ cannot be eaten. From bread to trying out puns of frying pan, panda and even panties, eventually they got it right as the code is underneath a panda-like mailbox. Inside the safe is a cat bowl. The mastermind is Oyaji and he noticed the girls went to his shop looking for a food dish for Colonel. Now he leaves it to Saitou to bring the heavy safe back. But the girls are now not happy because the bowl doesn’t look treasure worthy.

Episode 2
Sacchan has Yui dress up as an oni and then make her count because they’re going to play hide and seek. The moment she is done with that, they ditch her and go hang out somewhere else. Poor Yui… Because Kotoha is playing a game that allows her to earn more passes to more similar players are nearby, they decide to hang out at the station. Saitou catches them loitering around and has this idea of getting rid of them by telling them to head to another place with lots more of such passes. He is so happy that they’re gone. Yui is scared she can’t find her pals and starts crying at Saitou’s box. Better tell them where they are before others think you are being mean to her. When she finally finds them at Akiba, Sacchan didn’t even really care. Not even Kotoha. She’s glad she has gotten all those passes. Colors are supposed to help clean up the shopping district. Instead, they see no trespassing signs and think there might be some murder cases behind it. They defy those signs and head into those no entry zones. Each time, a guy tries to tell them to get out but this only reinforces there is something going on and to further defy. In the end, those forbidden places are so because there are wet paint. Yeah, Colors ran around town and it is easy to see their footprints and where they went. Sacchan mom gives them natto. However she warns them not to throw it in the pond. There goes their whatever weird plan of cleaning up the pond. Huh? In the meantime Sacchan and Kotoha enter some weird looping shiratori word game among themselves that loops between only earthworm and moose. At the pond, they meet their friend, Nonoka who learns of their intentions. I guess they saw on some TV how they throw sticky-like substance to filter the water. Not going to work with this one. Sacchan somehow messes herself up with sticky natto all over. In the end, Yui starts crying because she feels guilty of unable to fulfil her promise of cleaning up the pond. So eat the natto as not to waste it? Then Yui comes up with this revelation that maybe it is okay for the pond to stink and in return, the day is saved and mankind is saved. Huh? Then it’s back to that mindless shiratori loop between the duo like as though they’re not giving up on some word war…

Episode 3
When Sacchan’s mom calls her, they rush down to her fruits store to see what the big problem is. So the problem is she has unsold bananas? Yeah, if none gets sold, they’ll be eating bananas for days and nights! Horror! So she wants them to sell them all and in return they’ll get a reward. So the girls get excited to sell them. Like how they trick Oyaji to taste one and then buy a bunch. Oh, he also has to buy the bunch they are eating! Sneaky. Sacchan tries sneaky but not illegal ways to sell them while Yui starts crying because nobody buys hers?! Well, some gullible sympathetic people did. And the ‘best’ part is how they ‘defeated’ a few yakuza guys and sell on their turf. With one bunch left, they decide to sell it to Saitou. He won’t buy it. A granny asks for directions when suddenly Kotoha feigns pain in her stomach and accuses him of police brutality! Others follow suit and grandma believes! To stop the commotion, he buys the bunch. With all the bananas sold, the girls get their reward, which is some creepy cabrilla monster costume they’ve always wanted. Then they go ‘attack’ Saitou but he saw it coming from miles and locks them out of his box. I’m surprised granny didn’t die of a heart attack seeing them. Oyaji gives Colors a bomb. They’re supposed to cut the correct wires or else the town will go boom. But first they need to decipher the clue to which coloured wire they must cut. It says cut the same colour as the eye in the middle of the shopping district. So they go down to the market to see if there are shops selling eyeballs. Not sure about Sacchan as she goes around asking people about poop. Even getting philosophical about how all living things once pooped and how everyone will die and become poop. So deep… Eventually Kotoha realizes the answer. She dangerously climbs on top of the shopping district’s sign. AMEYOKO. Get it? A-“ME”-YOKO. That’s the ‘eye’. It sure did caused some commotion with everyone watching. Oyaji praises them as the girls become ecstatic as they have saved the town yet again. The epilogue shows that if the girls cut the wrong wire, the bomb will shoot out some stink juice. Too bad Saitou bore the brunt.

Episode 4
When Sacchan receives a mail from Nonoka, they quickly rush down to her bakery. A big case is going to happen. As they try to find out which level of seriousness her case is, Yui somehow talks about poop disappearing to where if you don’t poop it out and when you do somehow they end up back in your stomach later. So magical… So deep… Anyway Nonoka claims somebody is going to take over her shop. Oh look. Here is that person. Momoka, her big sister. Momoka doesn’t know how to use a handphone but she has Kotoha act as an intermediary for her to break up with her boyfriend or stalker who keeps calling her! Brutal! Anyway, Momoka’s dream is to take over dad’s bakery after she graduates. However, the thing that has Nonoka disagreed was that Momoka wants to sell onigiri. Of course Momoka made a condition that she must be able to produce dad’s flavour if she wants to retain this shop. She has done so and lets them taste it. Kotoha is smart to let her pals taste how yucky it is. Momoka can’t let her run this shop with bread tasting like that so she lets Colors sample her multi-flavoured onigiri. An instant hit. Now they are on her side. Traitors! Yui and her school are participating in a local parade. Kotoha and Sacchan come to watch her. After the dragon troupe, not sure why Sacchan got disappointed with some baldy parade. Then it’s Yui’s school. Later they see Saitou but since he is working hard and not slacking, they think he is an imposter and leave him alone. After the parade, the pals meet up so they can head to the festival organized by Yui’s school. They see many wearing twinkling pendants so Sacchan teases Yui she can glow like that. Yui makes her face ‘glow’ but feels insulted when they ignore her. They get those pendants and continue to have fun at the festival. Sacchan’s mom picks them up when it’s over. Yui’s pendant stops twinkling so Sacchan quips Yui can sparkle on her own. Yui reluctantly demonstrates with that ‘glow’ face but it leaves everyone speechless and dumbfounded at this lameness that they want an explanation. Yui regrets that everyone should have ignored her instead.

Episode 5
Oyaji dropped a box of retro childhood toys. The girls explore some of them but it looks like Kotoha has taken a liking for the kendama as she whips everything like a nunchaku. Later, Sacchan starts crying after reading a sad story about an elephant died of malnutrition. Just so to make an elephant pun? Yui reads it and genuinely cries followed by Kotoha. They get this idea to visit the zoo to protect them from starving. I guess kids their age can enter free of charge and run around wherever they like. We see Sacchan making a few animal puns along the way while Kotoha tries hard to hide her giggling. They see a tiger eating a big bone and the only big guy they know is Oyaji. Is he dead?! Yeah, this zoo has not much food that they had to sacrifice Oyaji for tiger fodder. They visit many of the other attractions and could identify the common animals. Then they get stumped by this shoebill. Never seen an animal like that, huh? The girls even own some of the adult staffs with their kiddie logic. Like even if the tiger was eating cow bones, it is still bad to sacrifice other animals to feed! A panda’s meal may cause thousands but some people’s daily eating expenses are just a pitiful fraction of that… At the mouse petting farm, they learn mouse can multiply quickly but since there isn’t many here, they think they are being sacrificed as food! Of course it isn’t but since the guy looks a bit like Saitou, they can’t trust the face of a liar! These kids… With more Sacchan animal puns, they finally realize to head over to the elephant’s section. They look pretty okay. Sacchan throws an apple as it chows it down in one bite, impressing them. With everything happy and okay, when Yui tries to make an animal pun, nobody finds it funny. Oh, didn’t they read the no feeding the animals sign? I wonder if this story would turn dark if the elephant died from the apple and the girls are now blamed for its death! OMG! Koroshi-zou… Sorry, bad pun…

Episode 6
Colors are trying to find edible plants in the park and eat. From the book, a dandelion would be good. They also find some blue flower and clover to the mix. So after Kotoha goes to get a pot for them to cook, time to dig in. Tastes horrible. But of course. Then they get scolded by Saitou for trying to cook in the park that could start a fire. Colors are in a meeting to identify their weaknesses. Sacchan points out Yui’s weakness as a cry-baby. Well, she is denying that. While crying. Sacchan tries to fix this by making her wear a fake moustache and change in her speech. Nope. Failed. Yeah, I think she is just making fun of her. Sacchan points out her own weakness is being too cute. Kotoha smacks her face to fix the problem. As for Kotoha’s problem, Sacchan will not let Yui say that secret. Since curious Kotoha insists, with a smile Yui says she sucks at video games. The biggest shock! Have you ever seen Kotoha going into such fit? But in the end despite her weakness, they all still love her. I don’t think it makes her feel better. Colors are wondering why the statue of a last samurai is famous. They think it is photography so they head to Oyaji to buy a little toy car for Colonel to take pictures? What’s this plan to take pictures of panties and be made into a statue?! Oyaji comes up with a better plan to take all kinds of pictures. One of them should be amazing. The girls bet if they don’t get one, they get to take a picture of him without his sunglasses. So around the shopping district they go as Colonel randomly snaps. In the end they found one in which they want it to use as a killer move against Saitou. But Oyaji shows them a picture that could be their next big case. It is a picture of that cabrilla monster! Obviously superimposed but it got Colors hooked on it. Too bad it is curfew time so the girls give up and go home.

Episode 7
Have you seen Yui this annoyed? I mean, Kotoha has been playing her new game for a few days and has not cleared the first level. Yui is so annoyed that she mocks Kotoha she’ll never clear it till she becomes an adult and will clear it for her! I don’t know how Sacchan resolved this because now Yui is crying and begging for forgiveness. Colors are tasked to pick up trash. So they think they can kidnap Saitou in this small plastic bag? Not going to work. He then tells them a trick to quickly finish their job. Find a recycling bin and put all the trash in theirs! Sneaky… Later Colors smell something stinky. They think it is a corpse and run all around town to find it. What would other people think? Plus, do you not think corpses would answer? It is discovered that the gingko nuts are giving off that stinky smell. They collect a bunch of them and then pelt Saitou’s police box with it! Yeah, now the place stinks. With the town in Halloween mood, the girls decide to play a zombie game. It seems Yui must defeat the zombie boss while the rest go and create more zombies. How do they do that? They write on a piece of paper whoever reads this will become a zombie! I guess some people are so bored that they play along. After waiting a while, Yui goes to look for the zombie boss. She’s a bit confused to see some people as zombies. And then she reads the paper. Oh no. Is she now a zombie? But wait. There is a way not to turn into a zombie. Strip down to your pantsu and scream something embarrassing. Will she do it? Will she not? I think she did. Twice. Finally at the park where all the zombies gather, Yui avoids becoming one of them by closing her eyes and then heads straight for the zombie boss (some wooden doll) and kicks it away. With that, everyone is freed from the zombie curse and they praise Yui as their saviour. Do they even know what is going on? I don’t think they do but they felt fun. Really? That was fun? Whatever. Meanwhile Saitou anticipates Colors to play a prank on him. But they never show up. I guess that stinky durian chips trick is going to waste.

Episode 8
Sacchan thinks of finding a new member so they can have a tsukkomi. Yui claims she is good at that part but apparently the rest don’t think so after her lame comeback. So the place to search is the museum? At the rocket exhibit, they think it belongs to Saitou and try to steal it. Too bad the guard stopped them and they got an earful. Next is the taxidermy section and Yui was gullible enough to believe the story of backdoor deals for these animals to not move and thus can’t go to poo. Next up is the dinosaur exhibition. The curator notes they are interested in dinosaurs like him as he explains to them about the T-Rex. I don’t think Colors can just take its bones… With their recruitment drive failed, Yui makes another lame comeback when the duo claim they should visit the next museum in England. Colors find a raffle nearby. It seems you need to buy from selected store and earn 5 tickets to allow you to have a spin for the top prize to Hawaii. Since Nonoka’s shop is on the list, they go bug her. Of course she won’t give them for free and knows they will only mess up if they help. Kotoha comes up with this brilliant blackmail plan that she must give them the tickets not to help and mess up! Win-win situation! Nonoka is so confused that she gives in! OMG! It works! With 3 tickets in hand, they need the balance. Sacchan has this idea to get loads of free pocket tissues being distributed and then trade them. Well, Yui is too shy (till the point she forgets why she is doing this), Sacchan is being annoying and Kotoha being sneaky by trapping and luring people. In the end, they failed. They think of turning their tissues into pocket tissue missiles and their first victim is Momoka. She gives hers in exchange they don’t throw their tissues at others. With enough to spin, not sure if Yui is panicking as she spins the wheel with all her might. So what prize do they win? A pocket tissue! Disappointed? Pocket tissue attack!!!

Episode 9
With a coin each in an eye and one over her mouth, Sacchan is now One Coin Sacchan! Anyway Colors pooled their money so they could buy a weapon?! I wonder what 1500 yen will get them. There is a real weapon store but luckily the owner doesn’t sell to kids. So Colors go to Oyaji instead and with this right price, they get walkie-talkies each. Yeah, have fun. Colors go pray at the shrine as Sacchan and Kotoha pray for the evil to run amok in their town! Their logic is that Colors only exist because of them and with evil around, they can keep the peace. Yeah… Then they spot Colonel and decide to tail where it goes. It looks like it is walking all over the place and the girls are just trying to keep pace. Yui loses her hairband along the way but I guess it is better to follow the panda cat. Eventually after that long walk, it leads them back to their base. Oh, it has got Yui’s hairband too. Then off it goes. Looks like Colors are beat for now. Next time, Colonel. We’ll discover your private life! After eating cookies from a tin, Colors decide to use it as time capsule. They need to bury in a place big enough that they’ll remember and dig it up in 10 years. So Saitou’s police box? Thinking he is the greedy type who wants to steal their treasure, they change their mind. They find the largest tree but Nonoka wonders if the tree will still be around as the park is constantly under construction. She adds her stuff to the time capsule, a photo of her young self eating bread. Colors find it creepy she carries it around with her… Before they bury, Nonoka raises the question that the tin will corrode in 10 years. And so they give it to Oyaji to keep. Yeah, he is the biggest thing they can remember. Oh, he better be alive in 10 years when they come back for it. Are they implying he is that old?! Those rascals… Ah well, 10 years will zoom by in a flash. Or they’ll just forget…

Episode 10
Colors play around in the snow. As they sleep in it, they realize they just missed a poo! Sacchan wants to cover all those poo traps but the rest have a better plan. Threatening to pelt Saitou with snowballs. But there’s a catch. One of the snowballs has poo in it! Hide in your police box while you can! When Colonel brings in a shrine plaque that says “Your secret is out”, Colors think their base is discovered. So they go on a covert mission to head to the shrine to find more clues. I don’t think they know what covert means. Because this involves Sacchan using herself as a sexy distraction while her friends run past him. Sorry, he’s not a lolicon. At the shrine, they see the caretaker. However with the wind almost blowing off his wig, they think this might be the botched secret and tell it right to his face about his baldness! Sacchan’s mom calls Colors as there has been a ‘robbery’. Somebody took their maneki neko and left a note they took it. Colors take up the case to go find the culprit. They try Oyaji’s place first but he doesn’t have any maneki neko that is familiar to Sacchan. Having no lead, they return to their base to discuss their strategy. Taking a look at the note again, they notice a strange powder as well as some weird scribble. When Kotoha gets it, she is usurped by Sacchan. Angry Kotoha loli wrestles her and banishes her never to speak! They head over to Nonoka’s shop as she admits she is the ‘thief’. Actually the maneki neko belongs to her. Sacchan wanted to borrow it but she never returned it. The ransom note was just a normal note to note that she took it back. I guess her handwriting is so bad, hence that garbage doodle. It’s supposed to be her name. I guess Sacchan now has permission to speak. Apologies solve everything. Sacchan then cheekily asks Yui if she was really cute while she was quiet. Just normal. That has got to be the longest period Sacchan ‘shuts up’. Do we like it that way?

Episode 11
It’s hay fever season so expect sneezing. But the one badly affected is Nonoka. Colors try to help her overcome this allergy that she doesn’t want to admit. When she is about to sneeze, Kotoha punches her in the gut! Oh sh*t! Pain is real! It looks freaking weird when lolis are beating up a high school girl! Nonoka beat down! So much so Nonoka admits her allergy and heads off to see the doctor. Now Colors want to avenge Nonoka by destroying all the trees in town! Never knew there were so many trees, eh? But they can’t simply knock down good ones so they go find bad ones. Like the one where they buried their time capsule. I think they’ll break down in pain before the tree will even move. Not a scratch. Momoka is passing by and sees Colors ‘abusing’ the tree. She learns what happened and tells them cryptomeria is the tree that Nonoka is allergic to. So are there any of such trees around? None in this park. This means Nonoka’s allergy is all in her mind. This means Nonoka is a liar. While poor Nonoka is going to get owned by lolis again, at least all the trees are safe. Phew. Colors use their walkie-talkie to play hide and seek again. Yui is it but since she doesn’t want to hear where the duo are hiding, she starts making weird noises to drown out the noise. She goes in search of them but bumps into Saitou. Evil policeman spoils it for her and tells her where they are hiding because he saw them. Yui manages to find Kotoha hiding openly at the station. They then go look for Sacchan but they better hurry because she sent a mail that she can’t breathe… They see a fallen cabrilla monster as Kotoha beats it up. We all know it is Yui in it. I think she’s dead… Because the cabrilla monster is between panda statues, they think the town is being taken over by them. So they rush off to find Yui… Girls, I think you really missed her…

Episode 12
Colors are doing an interview with some of the people in town they know as part of their guide. Taking turns filming and interviewing, we see them interviewing Oyaji (we find out his real name is Daigoro Kujiraoka) but bad camera angles and the guy being too big tires Yui’s arms. There is also an interview with Sacchan’s mom. Daughter praising mom to be pretty and with all the flattery going on, Kotoha zooms in on Yui’s cringe face… Also Nonoka trying to promote her bread and for Saitou, they play a prank by stealing his bicycle and answering a phone call on behalf. Kids, do not even try this. Colors are supposed to head to a granny’s shop for some case but instead got distracted and played at the playground. Colors want to buy mini castella so they get permission from Sacchan’s mom to sell strawberries to people at the hanami. Sacchan impresses with her smooth talking so I guess the rest are fired up to sell them all. Well, if Kotoha doesn’t crash into people’s party (but they still feed her because she is cute) or lie about curing baldness, it would have been one ‘boring’ affair. And I believe everyone is buying from them because they know who they are. They have a last box left to sell so they target this guy who is depressed after failing to land a job. I’m sure it’s natural he wants to talk about his problems since the girls approached him but they tell him straight they don’t care about him! It’s about us! They then force him to eat a strawberry for a special bonus. And that they mean scattering sakura petals all over him. It makes him feel better and motivated to try his luck at the next job. Learning he only has 500 Yen left, they deviously sell the last box to him at that price. Yeah, you’ve been duped. Happy Colors are able to enjoy their mini castella. Lastly, we see Colors dragging a futon into the middle of the park, lie in there and sleep. It’s part of their surveillance thingy too. Saitou doesn’t even bother because this is peaceful, right?

Himatsubushi Colors
And so the town is once again kept peaceful thanks to the heroic and tireless efforts of… Saitou and the rest of the townspeople! Haha. You think I’m going to say Colors?! They’re just running around having fun. I mean, take a look at the last episode whereby they just did the unthinkable of sleeping in the middle of the park with people in broad daylight. Nobody cares because WTF. I’m sure the town knows them well to leave them alone because there will be hell to pay if you disturb them from whatever they are doing. Let sleeping lolis lie.

The series is kept funny with the charms of Colors. Is it because they are little girls running around town like as though they own it, the reason why we see them as being cute instead of annoying? I am pretty sure that Colors are of the age where they attend school. At least kindergarten. But why don’t I see them ever going to school? Does this series take place during an entire summer vacation? Oh, now I remember that Yui has a school she attends but we don’t see Colors attend any. That is why you see them so free running around and doing what they want. They’ll need all that when they grow up because oh boy, I’ve got news for them when they reach adulthood or even their teens. Thus everyone in town who knows them let the girls roam freely because otherwise there would be responsible adults who get worried seeing unsupervised children running around and send them to the police box and whoever their parents (we only know Sacchan has a mom) will have their kids taken away by the agency for child neglect.

So our adults in town let these 3 kids run around and do as they wish. So much so they think they are some sort of heroes of justice and protecting the town when they are just having fun with so much time on their hands. Heck, they might even get away with murder for all we know! It’s so peaceful that the only times when peace is broken is Colors doing a little mischief. I mean, do they even have any homework to do besides to go bug the few familiar characters in the series? Uh huh. I’m so jealous these kids really have all the time in the world. So much time that they actually are arrogant condescending little brats who go around bugging others in the name of justice and peace. In a way it is a good thing they are just kids and nobody takes them that seriously. I fear they might grow up to be delinquents if they continue to have their way and nobody teaches them to tow the line.

Yeah, Colors have even so much more time on their hands that basically the next episode preview (termed as Colors Evaluation Meeting) lasts for about a minute. Even for the final episode (well, technically it isn’t a next episode preview). It might not be that long of a time but generally most next episode preview lasts 30 seconds at most. Time wasting? Yes, this segment has them talking about crap and nonsense that we’re supposed to find funny. Because lolis are doing it so it better be. Oh yeah, did I mention that for a small group of girls, they really have a big and cool base of their own. What kind of kids their age have this kind of decent base to hang out any time they want?!

The trio making up Colors are charming in their own ways but still utterly generic. Because in such groups you have the typical troublemaker as we see in Sacchan. Other than the dumb ideas and logic this girl conjures, it is like she is trying to establish herself as the ‘poop girl’. Because in every episode you can guarantee that she says some unko line. Having a little girl who loves to say sh*t makes you raise your eyebrows of what kind of parenting she has or the influences she got. Then you have the gullible cry-baby who is no other than Yui. She might look the weakest but her strongest point is being brutally honest in your face. Even if she doesn’t intend it to be. Finally a seemingly emotionless girl, Kotoha. But she sounds more like tired perhaps for half of the time she is seen holding her handheld console and trying to beat the game. Yeah, she really looks like she is struggling so could it be that she really sucks?

As we all can see, Saitou isn’t really the evil policeman that Colors paint him to be. I am thinking that if he tries to convince them and play the good cop, they won’t even believe it. Their minds have been ingrained to think he is a bad cop. But having so much fun with each other, aren’t we? So he goes with the flow to play along with Colors and pretend to be the baddie. After all, in such a peaceful town you can catch him yawning a few times. Thanks Colors for help alleviating some of his boredom. But I’m sure he prefers to stay out of whatever schemes they have in mind for him. To him, a day without any pranks is definitely considered peaceful already.

Nonoka looks like a Colors’ fan since she is one of the few people whom Colors bug frequently. Or at least bump into often. She too has her own quirks like not admitting the allergy she has until some awful beat down by lolis make her take a hard look at reality. And why can’t a bread shop have a bit of variety and sell other stuffs? If Kotoha sucks as much at her video game, then Nonoka sucks a lot at bread making. I can envision her shop closing down soon if nothing is done. Don’t bet on Colors to save the day then. Momoka is more mature but when you’re dealing with little girls like everyone else, you have to play their game and at their pace.

Oyaji is quite the gentle giant. He is nice man looking out for Colors (though not through direct 24/7 supervision). The only thing you’ll remember him for is his weird sunglasses collection. In every episode, he wears different sunglasses designs. No 2 designs are the same. I guess this is his trademark. Speaking on this topic. It seems I also notice the same for Kotoha as she wears different hats most of the time. Can’t say all the time because I didn’t notice this until halfway point.

Adding more to the cuteness and kawaii factor, what could be as adorable and even more than lolis? An animal mascot! No, I’m not talking about that hideous cabrilla monster outfit that Colors have this weird liking for. It’s Colonel the panda cat. I thought it was pretty unique to have a cat that looks like a panda but it doesn’t play any prominent role in this series. Not even that single episode that it was focused on. That wasn’t anything much. Perhaps to keep the mystery of Colonel’s origins? I don’t think this cat is even Colors’ official pet.

The main reason why I thought this was a revival or spin-off of Ichigo Mashimaro is because of the character designs. When I first saw Yui, I thought she was Chika. They look bloody similar! Heck, I even saw shades of Miu in Sacchan. Also, Nonoka in a way reminds me of Nobue. So yeah, the very simplistic art style of the series is the big reason why I thought so. However both series are not even related to each other despite the general plot being generally similar (in the broadest sense) and are written by different authors. Like a decade apart when they first published. One thing I noticed about the art and animation is its bright and vivid colours. Among all the anime series I have watched in that particular season, this one stands out as the brightest of them all. Not to say it is glaring but you notice the colour stands out. Also, the background and sceneries of the town and park look real enough. Like as though they took pictures of the street and used them here. It is filled with a good amount of details and this adds to the overall vibrant looks of the anime.

Didn’t really recognize all of the seiyuus here. The main trio are pretty convincing voicing their part as lolis. But then again, most Japanese voice actresses tend to have this shrieky voice that all of us have come to identify with. So we have Yuuki Takada as Yui (Aoba in New Game), Marika Konno as Sacchan (Niwaka in Akiba’s Trip The Animation) and Natsumi Hioka as Kotoha (Machi in Kumamiko). Other casts are Ayaka Asai as Nonoka (Hazuki in Hibike! Euphonium), Hisako Toujo as Momoka (Miko in Animegataris), Atsushi Tamaru as Saitou (Ayato in Gakusen Toshi Asterisk) and Tesshou Genda as Oyaji (Kaido in One Piece). The main trio of Colors sing the opening and ending theme, Colors Power Ni Omakasero and Mitsuboshi Colors Honjitsu Mo Ijou Nashi respectively. Both songs are quite lively and fit the theme of the series as well as the happy and carefree state Colors are in. Hope they will enjoy a happy childhood.

Overall, this is a simple show of 3 young girls having fun in the town they live in. No over-exaggerating plots or twists or even lewd jokes. Except for all the poop remarks that Sacchan made. Even so, we forgive them just because it comes out from the mouth of a little girl. Yeah, we’re going like “Cute…” instead of “Watch your mouth, buster”. If Non Non Biyori is about girls having fun in the simplest way in the countryside, then this series is about (loli) girls having fun in the simplest form in the urban area. A bit more exaggerated due to the wild logic and ideas they have but I guess we can look at it as a good thing because it shows how creative they are? Well…Childish you might say but hey, they’re acting their age, right? And nothing says total peace when you have a town with girls who are able to go around and have fun as they wish without anyone having to worry one bit. Keep and carry on protecting the peace, Colors.

Not too sure how I would have lost since I didn’t watch the few movies that released before the second season, Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shou. Heck, I didn’t even see that chibi zoo spin-off series thingy either. Hopefully not much since the title says it is a new chapter, right? Even so, I guess I wouldn’t care since I’m not really a fan of them. Whoops. So what am I doing here watching the sequel anyway? Oh, just sticking around to give them a chance and see if these idols can steal my heart. Just kidding. Didn’t even know the second season was coming out so I got surprised a bit and decided to take a look.

Episode 1
Ayumi Hayashi, Itsuka Atsugi and Otome Morishima uploaded a fan video of a WUG dance. As narrated, WUG won the Idol Festival in 2015 but I-1 snatched it back the following year. This year, with the bad economy looming, idols aren’t spared from the effects. In fact, I-1’s Sendai theatre will soon be closed down. However as Tange puts it, they can’t afford to worry about other idol groups as they are still literally unknowns in the idol industry. Therefore she wants them to go out to do promotion stuffs as their target is releasing an album in 6 months. A next big gig arrives. WUG will be performing on a national programme, Song Stage along with I-1. Before WUG’s turn is up, Airi realizes she forgot her scrunchy. She has to rush back to the dressing room to get it. This causes a bit of a hold up. This scrunchy was made by Yoshino as recycled item from their old idol outfits so it is like their group’s good luck charm. No major delays as WUG goes up on stage to perform. At the end of the programme, WUG apologizes to I-1 for the hold up (their appearance was after WUG). However Moka Suzuki (I-1’s new petite centre) didn’t find it amusing and scoffs off at them they’re not fit to be professionals. While Airi feels a bit down, it was a good thing she had it because without it, she believed she would have messed up. But since everything turned out alright, no need to be so depressed about it. Meanwhile a group of hardcore idol fans converge to discuss the horror of several bands disbanding. They know I-1’s popularity is declining and as fans of WUG, they still aren’t as successful. They vow to do everything they can to help WUG. Matsuda gets a rude awakening from Tange because she has decided to do a national tour and has already got them Sendai stadium.

Episode 2
In addition, Tange wants WUG to live together in a dorm. It saves time for them to be late so often. After all, many of them have already graduated from high school or living by themselves. Better group cohesion, I guess. After WUG move into their new dorm, they meet the nice landlady who hands them the keys to the place. She ‘warns’ them about a ‘freeloader’. Just a fat cat named Zunda. Careful not to get on its bad side. With Tange planning on more solo TV projects for WUG, she wants to promote Minami as a sea squirt lover. Say what? Why does that sound so hentai? Don’t worry. It’s not. Together with Kaya, they appear on a local food show along with other guests like that tweedle dee and tweedle dum pair. Although the girls might be cute but the fatty duo are far more interesting and entertaining to watch. When they are teased they will grow fat with all the food they’re eating, this enrages Kaya so she shows it to them by devouring all that is in front of her! She’ll show them an idol can lose weight as fast! It was impromptu and probably she regretted it but since everyone loved it, everything’s alright. When Ayumi talks to her friends about this show, it seems most of them aren’t that interested. Because the new craze now is V-dols. Virtual idols from an app. With Kaya and Minami taking on more food eating programmes, Kaya is starting to feel a little sick. I’m guessing she has put on weight because she doesn’t want to eat with her other members and she gets mad when Minami continues to snack like there’s no tomorrow. Yeah, this girl probably didn’t even put on a single gram after all that eating. Kaya tries hard to control herself (though, she often sneaks out late at night to eat) and not let others know but eventually they find out and to Minami’s relief, it wasn’t the fact Kaya hated her. So the girls convince her not to skip meals and eat properly since their regular dance practice can burn more calories. So Kaya screws it all and WUG as a whole starts enjoying their snacking. Meanwhile the producer is asking Hayasaka about his composition of I-1’s new song. Don’t feel like writing it.

Episode 3
Miyu and Nanami are assigned to appear on a talk show. They must be feeling weird and lost with the eccentric host ‘talking nonsense’ and is trying to get them to do the same. Though, their I-1 counterpart does it better and more natural. Meanwhile Yoshino heads for a photo shoot. The photographer isn’t too thrilled that she isn’t posing very idol-like (maybe it’s the weird way she smiled?) but the next idols really motivated him and Yoshino is like all forgotten. Airi is doing a local mini segment on TV and again the producers are telling her to be more idol-like. Miyu and Nanami’s appearance is aired on show. However their part is totally cut out like as though they were never there! WUG then discuss among themselves about this obstacle they’re facing since Tange isn’t very clear when she told them about the important working in solo. I bet she wanted them to figure it out themselves. Miyu has this idea to do her own web series once a week after watching Kaya. This is to help her so she can do better on the talk show again. We see other WUG improvising and doing their best like Minami now sings after she tastes her food and Yoshino being naturally clumsy for a swimsuit photo suit. It makes her more interesting and the picture livelier. Above all, she’s having fun. Airi is turning heads because she is wearing a shark headgear for her TV segment. All this makes them stand out a little. Tange wants Nanami to do a musical. She isn’t interested at first as she is done with this kind of thing. She wants to stick being an idol but since there is no law saying idols can be on musicals, I guess she has to. It’s not bad once she tries out the audition. The most shocking job comes to Mayu as she will be co-starring alongside Shiho.

Episode 4
As the drama shoot begins, the duo also answer questions from the press conference. Both maintain their professionalism on questions pertaining to their ex-centre roles in I-1 as well as their current onscreen roles that pretty much differs from their own personality. Mayu’s schedule is now packed as she puts in the effort. During a shoot, Mayu seems to have trouble in focusing her lines. So while they take a break, the drama’s writer comes to talk to them. Mayu gets some clarification on certain aspects of the script before the shoot resumes. Ayumi and co look through an audition for extras for the drama. They get hyped up to apply but first Ayumi needs to convince her mom. You know how kids will say anything (like doing everything) just for this once in a lifetime chance. But a ‘scandal’ breaks out. Moka sprained her ankle after falling through the stage during a performance. Hence Shiraki announces Shiho will be temporarily returning to I-1 to replace her. Hence the drama schedule will be heavily revised. Ayumi and co are on set being filmed as extras. They try hard to not be nervous although they are just background characters in the film. Ayumi got too nervous that she dropped her lip balm but Mayu coolly picks it up and returns it to her. Meanwhile Shiraki and the executives are in one of those high powered meetings. Things aren’t looking good especially sales of I-1 continue to fall (in addition to Moka’s fall – Sorry, bad pun). They will need to relook and overhaul everything. Ayumi is so motivated that she announces she wants to become an idol.

Episode 5
Moka’s feet has recovered so she is able to perform again but Shiho will still continue to perform with the main I-1 group. Ayumi and co are looking through the ads to see if there are any idol recruitment drives. None. When Shiraki walks in while the girls are practising, you know something big is going to happen. In a bid to take I-1 to a new direction, he announces a couple of girls from other units to be transferred to the main unit. Because that unit they are in will either be absorbed into others or shut down. Oh, they have to keep working because their new song is released next week. Don’t rest! Don’t complain! Don’t think! Man, this is starting to sound like a cult. When Shiho learns of this, she couldn’t focus on her acting and makes some obvious mistakes. But after talking with Mayu, she steps up her game and before you know it, it’s a wrap for this drama shoot. At the party, the producer answers Mayu’s question that she asked prior that he purposely casted Mayu and Shiho together to attract attention. But he also did so because he saw potential in them and they surprised him in many ways. Tange now wants WUG to hold a fan club meet. How? That’s for Matsuda to go figure out. Discussing with the girls, they come up with touring Sendai with the fans in a bus. It’s going to be like a school trip. Ayumi and co applied for this and now they are training hard in their walking. Looks like they’re catching their breath a lot more than they’re going to catch WUG. Haha… A couple of producers approach Green Leaves to request WUG to do a song which is going to be part of a full album of a V-dol that will be officially debuting as one of its agency’s entertainers. A Japanese major debut is planned as well. They also heard Hayasaka will be part of it. Speaking of him, he doesn’t seem interested in composing a new song for I-1 because he is occupied with a certain ‘girl’. Shiraki receives report of the sales of I-1’s new song. Didn’t hit the million mark again.

Episode 6
Due to a scheduling delay, Minami might not make it in time to join the rest on the bus tour. Something about a chef needing inspiration and hence a 2 hour meditation? Worst case scenario they might have to perform without her. So the first stop of the tour has the fans needing to find WUG dressed in their animal outfits and once they do, they get a stamp. After lunch, Minami still hasn’t arrived so they bring forward the dance lessons with fans first. With time running out, WUG then performs without Minami. Noticing Minami fans would be disappointed, Nanami has this idea of changing into her animal outfit during the performance. It works because you can’t see one’s face clearly in that gear and it’s not like the fans are very close to the stage. Too bad the secret is out when Nanami trips, revealing her face. She tries to recover, the fans find it funny and some may even convert to be a Nanami fan! Thankfully, Minami has just arrived. Thanks to the super express cab Tange had her ride in. The fare is going to be pretty expensive… Guess who is going to have to pay? WUG performs as a whole and to the delight of their fans, they announce their upcoming album on sale as well as a national tour. In the evening, Airi got separated and lost to her way to the bath. She stumbles into the staffs’ room and like any normal fan who discover their idols’ outfit… And then she hears someone coming… Mayu trips upon entering the room. But she never questions why the outfit was placed in such an odd fashion compared to the rest? Yeah, Airi is wearing-cum-hiding in it. Because Mayu spilled her tomato juice, it looked like she just murdered the animal. Just when Mayu realizes someone is inside, she thinks it is Yoshino and takes her to the bath to wash it off. She’s not even curious why this ‘Yoshino’ was doing here in the first place? With all the steam in the bath, Airi manages to slip out and sneak out. Only after that the real Yoshino pops up and Mayu asks her about it. Not that Yoshino knows what she is talking about anyway. Next day when the fans get their stamp from WUG, Mayu remembers Airi as an extra from the drama shoot. Airi is so touched that she declares aloud she wants to become an idol too. Best of luck. Being too happy-happy is detrimental to our health so now it’s time for something ‘depressing’. Shiraki has summoned his entire squad of idols and he will have them ‘reborn’. Is he going to turn them into mindless killing robots? Haha! Oh no…

Episode 7
A special edition that some call it episode 6.5 because this live action episode and features the casts doing behind the scenes stuffs such as interviews and playing some weird variety game. Not sure if this is lazy (because it’s like they can’t meet this week’s deadline or the overall story this season is too short) or creative (because nobody expected it, at least not me) but it breaks the usual pattern of 2D animation all the way as such specials are only reserved for BDs. Although I didn’t watch the entire episode and just snippets of it, overall it feels like a very big promotion for Ayumi and friends’ characters as they eat up a lot of the screen time… Hmm…

Episode 8
The bus tour is a success and preparations for WUG’s big concert is on schedule. However Matsuda points out a big problem: The seats are not filling up. Tange’s usual answer is to have him to fix it. It’s his job. Who picked the Sendai stadium in the first place? I-1 announces a Christmas performance at Tokyo Dome. We see Shiraki announcing to his ‘army’ about the forming a brand new selection unit in which will have its own centre. Moka is not happy as this means she will be replaced. Was it because of her injury? Partly. Shiraki claims that even though it isn’t her fault, a true centre must have luck. He also switches captaincy between the units. One of them is a shy girl so this makes her even more fearful. More bad news as Hayasaka tells Shiraki straight he isn’t writing I-1’s new song because he doesn’t feel like it. Ayumi and friends enter Green Leaves to request to become idols. However Tange shoos them away as they aren’t recruiting. Sad but Tange believes people who claim to be the biggest fans of something are just naïve. Good thing or not, they won’t give up. Matsuda has just received 4000 printed flyers of WUG’s concert. How to distribute them? Ayumi and co take the liberty to do so but it’s a cold world out there as nobody gives a sh*t about them. Tange is mad at Matsuda for allowing them to do so but he says they whisk the flyers away before he had a chance to do anything. Tange asks them to smile. Creepy… She tells them the importance of an idol’s smile during tough times. Since they cannot do it, they’re not cut out for it. Sorry. Sad ending again. Ayumi practises smiling until she gets her mom’s ‘approval’. This lifts her spirits as they continue distributing flyers. This time with more positive results. At the end of the day, their cheeks are sore with too much smiling? A little boy trips and is on the verge of crying. Ayumi tries to help him but trips. Everyone laughs at her since her face is messed up. Gee, everyone is such a sadist… Hearing positive comments from the boy’s mother, they get motivated to continue distributing with even bigger smiles. Then they go back to Tange and beg again. I guess with all that pestering, she has to give them an audition chance. After having them introduce themselves and show their dancing talent, Mayu’s comments on how she saw them work hard has Tange make them idol trainees. Is it alright to make middle school girls idols? Of course. When there is money to be made! And so WUG now have juniors training under them.

Episode 9
Tange has spent so much on this and it better work. Otherwise she’ll run away! Oh, Tange. You really make the ‘best’ jokes. Soon she hounds Matsuda to get working because they still need a song from Hayasaka. Sure, but what can you do if he isn’t picking up? And it’s Matsuda’s fault?! Meanwhile the juniors’ first task is to clean the office… It builds up stamina. Free labour put to good use. Or maybe she is just abusing her authority and understaffed. Mayu gets a call from I-1’s Megumi. She is crying about being made the new leader and the several changes in I-1 that is scaring the sh*t out of her. There are also rumours the Hakata theatre will also be closed. And when complained, they were told it isn’t their job to think on this. All Mayu can say is that Shiraki will not do something that doesn’t benefit I-1. WUG will be doing a short commercial for departmental store, Nyaon. This will help boost their image and sales for the concert. Miyu then overhears Tange and Matsuda talking about the stagnant ticket sales as well as their concert day clashing with I-1’s tour. Talking to the rest, Yoshino decides to ask them directly but gets scolded by Tange to continue practising if she has time thinking about this. Then Tange scolds Matsuda for making them worry. They should be thinking about performing at the concert and not worry about ticket sales. That’s their job! She’s got a point. WUG does their best to stay positive on the matter. A group of executives just finish watching a commercial about a virtual idol that will be released soon on all media platforms. They hope Hayasaka could write songs for them in the future. Although he agrees, he doesn’t look that all interested. Oh look, it is Matsuda calling and bugging again. I guess it is like saying perseverance pays off because soon out of the blue, Matsuda gets a mysterious email from Hayasaka. He has written a new song for WUG! Only 1 condition: They must write the lyrics. Hayasaka wakes up from some past nightmare about his band breaking up since he didn’t agree with the lyrics and quitted. WUG gets help from some veteran duo who also meet their juniors for the first time. Then a breaking article pops up. Hayasaka is spotted on a trip to America and he might be staying there to work.

Episode 10
WUG is trying to write the lyrics. Not as easy, huh? Not sure what Nanami’s current job is but she has to supervise lots of children. Lots of naughty children. Did she just give up? It hit a nerve when Minami thought it is great to work with children. Because a star of some former would be appearing next week as a guest in Nanami’s show, Minami would like to ask more about her. Nanami thinks she is bragging and this causes a rift between them. With all of them having different work, they have barely any time to practice together and set a date when they are all free to do so. Moka is not happy that Shiraki has dropped her from the new I-1 line-up. Crying won’t get you anywhere… You think Miyu is joking when she asks Tange to hire a housekeeper. It’s not that she’s lazy, most of the house chores are done by Airi who is the least busy. At this rate, she worries she might collapse. Okay. Cue for the trainees to step up and provide more free labour. Mayu notices Shiho depressed lately. She talks to her as she reveals Shiraki wants her to quit her unit, Next Storm. She feels sad about it because she worked so hard to get there. Ironically she now understands how Mayu felt when she quit I-1. Accompanying Shiho means Mayu is late for WUG’s group practice. As promise to Shiho, she can’t tell the reason. Mayu then misplaces her scrunchy at a busy time. The trainees notice this and offer to look for it. But a rift has formed between Yoshino and Mayu. The former accusing the latter of being more dedicated to I-1 than WUG (she continues to be late). She also notices she hasn’t been wearing her scrunchy lately. Luckily the trainees find it (damn Zunda keeping all those junks in his whatever nest). Mayu sheds some tears, Airi suggests writing a shared journal among them. Nanami and Minami are back on good terms and this gives Yoshino a good idea what WUG is about. Individually they are weak and lacking but when united, they become stronger by influencing each other.

Episode 11
The virtual idol named Vdol makes its debut in America. There will be a concert using the world’s first virtual concert system via app that is designed by an American company. Look at the white dude all smiles. And the Vdol’s song is written by none other than Hayasaka. WUG reads this on the news but they have other matters to deal with. Because Hayasaka rejects their lyrics and wants them to come up with something new. Time is short as they have less than a week before their album goes on sale and then kicking off their nationwide tour. Hayasaka and the Americans celebrate their 4th placing debut but why is Hayasaka not happy? He then gets a mysterious call from a strange anonymous person. More woes for WUG because the stage they are supposed to be appearing on is cancelled. Apparently Vdol’s sponsors are sponsoring that stage. Tange believes it will all work out. But does she have to abuse Matsuda? Yoshino then gets an idea they should hold a guerrilla concert at several places like parks and rooftops. Matsuda is against it since they are now somebody but Tange approves of it. The only condition is that they have to do it a limited budget. And guess who has to help them out? Matsuda at your service… In small groups, WUG holds their guerrilla concert much to the surprise and delight of fans. Nothing beats real idols, eh? WUG still has problems trying to come up with the lyrics. Then Miyu sees an ad of Namahagez’s concert nearby. She goes to say hi and they remember the good times they battled during the competition. They have not disbanded despite their agency has closed down. They are now freelancers and work part time to get funds to hold small concerts. Miyu gets this idea to help advertise their concerts. The idea of helping one another has WUG realize what they should write as their lyrics. They finally finish it and what is Hayasaka’s verdict? They pass. They can have the song. Hooray! Think it’s all smooth sailing from now? Think again. Because Vdol buys out the Sendai stadium and converts it into Vdol stadium that is scheduled for a performance on Christmas Eve. Uhm, that’s the day of WUG’s concert, right?

Episode 12
WUG kicks off their nationwide tour. Though, they are still left without a final venue. Shiho confronts Shiraki about the closure of her Hakata side. She is told she has a chance to become the centre again but she is somewhat unhappy. She agrees but hopes to go back to Hakata one last time. She meets her fellow members and tells them the bad news that they are breaking. They don’t want this but what other choice do they have? With no one refunding their tickets for Sendai, WUG is happy to note that their fans still believe in them and will work hard till they get the final venue. Mayu gets a call from Megumi. She tells of Shiho might quit I-1 to keep Next Storm together. Mayu wants to go talk to them and Yoshino agrees on a condition that she also comes. So the girls meet and they ask if this is what Shiho really wants. She should talk to him again if she is really prepared to quit. So Mayu goes to bug Tange to arrange a meeting and with WUG ‘pressuring’ her, she gives in and calls Shiraki. And so that guy could only spare 15 minutes of his time just to talk to Mayu alone. They have very differing views on what it means to be an idol. Shiraki insists I-1 doesn’t need friendship. Hard work and strong mentality are all it takes. If Shiho wants to leave, then leave. You can’t reach the top if you rely on others or swayed by your feelings. Shiraki ends the meeting but little do they know, a paparazzi has taken a photo of them. Soon it hits the magazines about this ‘scandalous’ meeting. Rumours fly that Mayu will quit WUG and return to I-1. Oh well, I’m sure true comrades and friends will believe in them. With Shiho released from her contract, she manages to save Next Storm as Shiraki’s ‘parting gift’ to her. Also, Moka becomes Shiho’s replacement as the candidate for the new centre. Not happy? A chance is still a chance. Shiho calls Hayasaka about her departure from I-1 and also to tell something is happening to WUG. Then Hayasaka calls Shiraki to come up with some ‘mischief’. WUG has some good news. They finally find a venue: The old Sendai airport. The huge land is barren and empty. Looks like more costs to erect a stage. So WUG helps out by picking up trash? This is going to take some time. WUG manages to successfully have many idols perform simultaneously on Christmas Eve. Then they bug and Tange so their apprentices can debut. At first she disagrees but after another round of ‘pressuring’, she gives in. That easy, huh? But the only condition is they will only be WUG’s opening act. Hence she has to bring out a song Twinkle wrote for them. WUG tries to come up with a name for the trainees’ new unit. Noticing how they’re always running around, it is decided to be Run Girls, Run (RGR). I guess it beats having just an alphabet and number.

Episode 13
Tonight is the night where many of the idols will perform simultaneously. A lot of people in Japan must really have no other plans but to attend concerts nationwide, eh? We see I-1 going about with their performance first. RGR is nervous before their debut so WUG helps calm them down by giving them scrunchy. Feeling part of the team now? Naturally they are still nervous and slip up on stage. In their bid to recover, they look so funny that the fans love them. Ah, you can’t go wrong as long as you’re cute girls, right? They manage to recover and do their number. And now it’s time for the main event with WUG performing a montage of their songs for the next 8 minutes of this episode. Then the other idols elsewhere like Next Storm and Namahagez get only a second of clip because we’re not going to show everyone, right? Hayasaka calls Shiraki and it seems he was the one who helped WUG find a concert venue. Even more surprising, it was Shiho who called him to help out with this. Hayasaka then asks him a question the difference between human and virtual idols. To him they are all the same. So I guess to prove what Hayasaka is going to say or why human idols have their own charm, something happens during the concert. WUG’s microphones suddenly get cut off while the Vdol just suddenly vanishes! Yeah, blame the cold snow for messing with the equipment. So the fans for the Vdol will have to wait while the technicians get it to fix back but for WUG, they continue performing and they improvise by getting closer to their fans and performing in their stand. Hayasaka thought letting the perfect idol debut with his songs would be the best way to maximise his music potential but learnt that was wrong. At the end of I-1’s concert, Moka is chosen as the next centre. Apparently she doesn’t look happy. A surprise guest appears on screen then. Rather, guests. Because all the other idol concerts pop up. This is also part of Hayasaka’s doing. Shiraki then answers back by making his announcement. There will be a new idol festival. In the aftermath, Hayasaka returns to Japan (because it’s more fun there). Shocking news as Moka steps down as I-1’s centre because the real battle for it will be postponed until the new idol festival. I-1 has also rescinded their seeding and will participate in the preliminaries alongside other idols. WUG is ecstatic of this news but leaves rookies RGR in a lurch because now they are rivals! No more nice girls?

Virtual Wake Up Call
It would sure be interesting to note about this next new idol festival since the Vdol would also be performing! Well, even if this may seem like one sided because machine is virtually perfect but it all boils down to the number of fans you have. In a way, you can be ordinary idols, famous well known idols, obscure idols, idols from another nation, idols from outer space or spiritual idols for all we care. As long as you can capture the heart of your fans, you’re a true top idol. Well, that’s the only thing interesting for me to watch and see if there should be another sequel. Otherwise, this sequel didn’t really offer much especially for casual viewers seeing the biggest struggle for WUG was trying to maintain their relevance and getting their final concert filled. Yeah, the lyrics writing thingy didn’t really seem that all bad. Personal and individual struggles are not on some epic scale that would shake up anything or cause any concern. Remember that ‘scandalous’ meeting between Mayu and Shiraki? Now that she has put up a great performance I guess all is forgotten and forgiven. If only the real world was this good…

I don’t see this season’s plot as exciting despite the virtual idol being the biggest threat to the dwindling idol industry. For a casual viewer like me, despite WUG being the main stars of the series, I just don’t feel that they are going anywhere. Sure, they are struggling to stay relevant in a time when everything is so online that even idols are now in digital form. They might have made a name for themselves but I am figuring they are not as big as say, AKB48. Because I get this feeling that they are just popular locally at Sendai instead of nationwide. Then there is the struggle to keep the group’s cohesiveness together. Although considered a small group by today’s standards, having 7 members in a group is still a feat to manage as each individual is unique. That problem is partly solved as they are living together in a shared dorm now. But other than that, with a few small arguments here and there that doesn’t matter, ultimately they reconcile in no time and there is no big internal strife that would put the group in danger or risk any of them quitting or falling out. Thank goodness. Thus, nothing pretty much exciting if you want to look in terms of the plot and character development because the past season (and perhaps the movies) have done all that. It’s just more WUG happiness to appease fans.

Aside WUG, it looks like I-1 is going through a major change and shift as well. We don’t see much of it because this isn’t their show so it is understandable. So the problem with super huge groups like I-1 as you can see is the cohesiveness of the overall team. Though not shown, I believe not every single member is close to every other single member. So many members like as though Shiraki who only remembers all the members via a given number (he doesn’t even address them by their name unless specifically forced to), is raising a mini army to take over Japan via singing and dancing through our hearts. This guy really makes his I-1 training camp look more like a boot camp. I suppose when you have so many members, you can’t have everyone voicing their opinions because that would split the group and hence who better to play the ‘dictator’ than the man himself. Sometimes Shiraki’s ways might be too harsh, cold and soulless but if you think deeper into it, there might be some truth in it especially about idols not needing friendship. It is still a cutthroat industry so this one is really 50/50 depending on your ethics and morality. So now I-1 is going through a rough patch and their past glories won’t save them unless they innovate. Good times don’t last forever. But so do bad times.

Which brings us to this new Vdol phenomenon which is sweeping the world at a feverish state. Like a new toilet, it is the talk of town. A different experience that excites everyone. But just like trends of anything and everything, eventually this too would become boring and either slow down or phase out. So our idol girls of the flesh and blood kind will really need to work harder and innovate if they wish to stay relevant in the industry. After all, there are pros and cons of both traditional idols and virtual idols. For the former, you can at least get a physical handshake at special events! You can’t touch your virtual idol’s hands, can you? Not even with the latest high-tech VR equipment. Yeah, those are just so artificial…

With Shiho now on her own and running her own freelance little unit, let’s hope that she would be much happier this way. Looks like history is repeating itself when Mayu first quit I-1 and formed WUG, eh? Will Next Storm cause another blistering storm or just fizzle out? I thought Moka would also quit I-1 in view of all this but I suppose she’s just stepping down as the centre. Sometimes I think it is like a slap in the face, she got what she coveted the most but since she didn’t get it the honourable way she wanted, she doesn’t want it. Uhm what? A win is still a win, it’s not like she cheated or anything. Did she? If not for Shiraki’s greater vision to make I-1 the centre of all idols, her actions could have been shot down and fired for all we know. So count your blessings that at least in this anime, idols get to compete with each other fair and square. And we fans still love you all! True fans or true suckers?

I believe this season tries to introduce a group of young WUG fans that turned into their apprentices. Unfortunately they don’t really make an impact. In the first half of this season, you see them bum around from time to time, admiring and dreaming the great idol life. And then once they join as trainees, they fall further into the side. Maybe that is why in order for them to have more screen time and for us to be more ‘acquainted’ with them, unlike last season whereby the next episode preview is done by WUG’s seiyuus, this time we have the seiyuus of the trio narrating and talking whatever. But I guess perseverance pays off because they finally have their own little unit now. Oh, I almost forget about Zunda. I am guessing this cat is supposed to be the series’ mascot but its appearance is so sparing, it can be done without anyway. I mean, it’s a cat and does what it wants. Screw your deadline, just feed me and give me a place to sleep. I show my face once in a while to remind who your lord is and for all you slaves to fawn over. Right. We need to ramp up more moe cuteness. Cute girls + cute fat cat = Epic cuteness!

Ironically, the more interesting characters are the adults. Like Tange who still is the very sly slave driver with connections. She gets lots of this crazy ideas on a whim for WUG to do like as though she came up with them during one of her drunken sessions. Really. Thank goodness it all pays off somewhat. She talks with stern confidence whether she agrees or not. That’s why she makes a good top level manager. She gets things done. Only problem is that she loves taking out and ‘abusing’ Matsuda and piling up all the work on him. But hey, he too somehow manages to get things done so I guess it isn’t that bad. Too bad Matsuda feels like a wuss pussy like last time for being pushed around a lot by Tange but I suppose somebody has to do the job and it isn’t the girls in the agency. Yeah, who is the only guy in the agency? Despite taking out on Matsuda, she gets easily pressured when WUG demands something. Of course it’s for the better of the group and plot convenience and Tange will be viewed as a b*tch if she doesn’t give in to their demands. After all, don’t want to be blamed if they failed, right? On a side note, there is a bunch of WUG fans who are always plotting their next support for WUG at a diner. They usually get too loud and causing a nuisance around them. Are there better places to meet up?

Last but not least, Hayasaka. This talented guy is still as eccentric and whimsical as ever. Because of his tremendous song writing talents, he gets to do what he wants because apparently nobody in this age writes song anymore except him. So they have to pander and beg him but it all depends on his mood. Feel like it, okay, write it. Don’t feel like it, delete everything, drop it, quit, whatever. Clips on his past insights should be interesting and perhaps would enlighten us on how he came to be this enigmatic and erratic character he is today. So he already had his hands in writing songs for his own group, a famous idol group, a lesser known and upcoming idol group and now the virtual idol. What is next? What is the perfection he seeks that will satisfy his heart and soul? Only Hayasaka will have the answer to that. And looks like he has to return to Japan to find it. Where else in the world has produced more interesting idols than Japan? Oh, right. There is South Korea but that’s on a totally different league.

Not too sure if this season was supposedly the battle of the idols because in that very same season we had the sequel to Love Live! Sunshine aired. So will it be WUG or Aqours? Because I am fan of neither groups and considering I have watched both series including its first season, I can’t tell if there is supposed to be any competition between them. Although in the similar idol industry, the settings are just too different if you want to make them go head to head with each other. It’s like they don’t need to compete with each other in the first place and are sufficiently standing on their own feet without the need of trying to outdo one another. After all, both idol groups have their set of dedicated fan base and unless you want to really delve into the dark and dirty idol world, let’s just assume that everybody is just happy with their own favourite idols without the need to resort to low level mudslinging and name calling.

The opening and ending themes feel like spiritual successors of last season. 7 Senses as the opener is your typical lively idol piece while Shizuku No Kanmuri as the ending theme again feels out of place because of its slow ballad style. Though it isn’t bad and not to say that idol groups don’t sing slow ballads, but I still can’t help feel that it just sounds weird as an ending song. There are a few insert songs too but since I’m still not into them, I guess they didn’t sound that attractive to me.

Overall, looks like idol fans and true blue WUG fans would only appreciate this sequel that would otherwise be just boring and average to other casual viewers. In an age where technology is so rampant and one by one jobs that were once manned by humans are slowly being computerised, nothing is left safe at the hands of so called modernisation and development. Hence the only interesting thought this season provided me is how even idols are in danger of being replaced digitally, which isn’t so far-fetched a reality. Let’s just hope in the event if real traditional idols really die out, they won’t resort to shady stuffs in a desperate bid to stay relevant like releasing sex tapes and making adult videos. You think porn is safe from automation? There are sex dolls now! What a time to wake up and be alive.

Blend S

March 17, 2018

Here we go again. Here I go again. It is time for another anime to be choked with all the moeness of moe. This season will be Blend S whereby a group of girls work in a café and each of them has some sort of personality to serve the customer. If you like tsundere, we sure do have one. If your tastes are sweet girls, you’re in luck. If you prefer big sisters, we have one too. Little sisters? No problemo. What’s that? You want a sadistic girl? Uhm… Erm… Oh… Oh look. Just in time. We have hired a new who is naturally just that just for you. So order away you lousy piece of sh*ts! You’re really going to get that extra bang for your buck… Definitely value for your money.

Episode 1
Maika Sakuranomiya is in despair. A notice came. She didn’t get the job. It puts a damper on her plans to save up and go study overseas. One day in town as she ponders if her face was weird, she was making faces in the reflection of a café’s window. Apparently the café owner, Dino likes her cute looks and harasses her in. Don’t blame her freaking out thinking he must be some kind of pervert as he nose bleeds before her. The good news is that she gets to work here as a waitress. The catch is she has to be a sadist to her customers. Oh, think she can’t do it? She’s a natural! Unwittingly. This café has its waitresses act according to their personality. Like Kaho Hinata who is a tsundere. The other is Kouyou Akizuki who is a kitchen staff along with Dino. Maika’s first day on the job is nervous. But because of that, she looks naturally sadistic and is a hit with those masochist customers! Maika is thrilled to learn Dino is a foreigner from Italy as it is her dream to go overseas. She’s in love with other countries, not you, Dino. Next day, Maika sees Dino being abused by loli Mafuyu Hoshikawa. She is the café’s supervisor and is reprimanding him for slacking. She might sound gloomy and negative but as a waitress here, what is her personality? A lively little sister! Onii-chan! Maika accidentally sees a picture of Dino being kissed by a hot woman. Embarrassed, Dino explains this is his aunt and the kiss is a form of greeting. Italian, right? Maika’s innocence only serves to excite Dino but make the other piss off at him. After work, the girls hang out at the arcade. Kaho excels in the dancing simulator. Lots of people are gathering not to watch her excellent moves. It’s those bouncy twins! Viva those twin peaks! Kaho also excels in the crane game so devilish Mafuyu has something she wants her to get. Next day, Maika thought of giving Dino a peck as a greeting. It’s sending the wrong signals…

Episode 2
Maika tries to practice her sadism. Sounds like she is cursing… Unknowingly she is sitting on Dino. Must have had the best dream ever? Maika thought of smiling more at her customers. But you know how scary it is. Because of that, she is raking in lots of fans! When Dino is speaking English to a foreigner customer, Maika wishes to eavesdrop so she could learn some English. Too bad that scary smile… The gang then has a meeting to come up a new item for the menu. It is side-tracked with Akizuki complaining this café needs more female customers and of the yuri kind. Dino suggests bringing his girlfriend. He has no girlfriend. Kaho? Only online friends. Sad. Then they experiment with Kaho and Maika feeding each other sweets. Maika takes this too seriously that she turns on her sadist mode and almost ruins everything. Kaho spent all her pay on the arcade. Hence her tons of prizes. One of them is a prized magical girl figurine that Mafuyu and Dino want. Ready, fight! Mafuyu won. When they get back to that new menu item discussion, everyone is now heated up to compete. Whoever wins this will get a wish of theirs granted. Serious. They are split into teams but Mafuyu isn’t thrilled she is paired up with Maika. Mafuyu doesn’t like how Maika has no ideas since she is agreeing to everything she says. Maika eventually gives her opinions. The new item on experiment is served to the customers. Despite Mafuyu-Maika’s parfait tastes horrible, the customers think it is her limited time sadistic special! Are they happy or not? So we learn it is made out of salt, vinegar and tabasco. Eventually they still win because the customers ‘like’ it. But too bad it can’t be put on the menu. They are entitled to a prize but Maika believes she has already got it. No prizes for guessing that valuable prize. But for Mafuyu, the next day she forces Maika to cosplay that magical girl outfit and starts snapping like crazy. Yeah, she is her prize!

Episode 3
Learning that Dino likes anime, Maika is interested to learn if Italy has their own anime. They do but he isn’t interested in them. Because no black hair Japanese girl. Dino learns her fascination with other countries stem from her very strict and traditional Japanese background. To his horror, she is bored with it! So one day when father brought home a foreigner guest, that was when she became interested. But her scary looks got her kicked out from the room. So that look goes all the way back… So much so she wanted to dye her hair blonde but her parents misinterpreted she wanted to be a delinquent and shot it down. There is also her first love and staring showdown with the statue of KFC’s colonel. And not to mention when she learnt about Santa Claus, she wanted a chimney so she could capture him! You heard that right. Dino can’t miss this chance when she offers him her lap pillow. A win-win situation as she gets to fiddle with his blonde hair. When the rest enter, they misinterpret he is sexually harassing her. It gets worse when Maika looks like she is crying but it is from the numbness of her thighs. Later Dino is thrilled when he asked Maika out and she agreed. He didn’t count she called Akizuki and Kaho to come along too. At the end of their outing, Maika and Dino gave each other the same bear strap. After the café is closed, Maika notices a customer left behind a magazine. She freaks out upon seeing it. Let’s say it is some erotic high school bondage. Kaho is left curious and it is killing her since Mafuyu confiscates it and won’t let the underage see. As it is left in the staff room, Kaho thought she had that chance during her break but is caught in the act. The next day, the customer didn’t come back to claim and since they can’t throw it away, Maika suggests asking the customers indirectly. Too bad with that evil face she is asking them if they like bondage or how they would like their girl in sailor suit done in! Eventually a notice is written and placed outside the café. After closing time, a woman comes in looking for it. This shocks Maika so much that she is literally close to being dead. Welcome to reality.

Episode 4
Maika is shocked that bondage magazine lady is working here! Folks, welcome Miu Amano. Maika literally dies again when Maika reveals she is the author of that magazine. Since her secret is out, this is the reason why she wants to work here as it makes things easy. Also, she is trying to look for new material for her latest work. She usually does yuri and BL but is trying her hands at normal love in which she finds it hard to find. Akizuki asks for her autograph since he is a big fan of her doujin. Miu is the big sister type and this makes Maika wanting to step up her game. She actually wants to be like her but unwittingly becomes even more sadistic. Depressed, Dino thought of consoling her but she is back to her usual sadism. Watching the duo, Miu suddenly has new ideas for her new material. Later she learns they aren’t dating but relishes the idea of their relationship being status quo because if he is rejected outright or they end up together, the interesting story will be over! At the end of another business day, Dino reads out the comments some of the customers have for the girls. Mafuyu is of course the most popular. Miu might have a new awakening hearing ideas about the guys being together. As for Maika, the customers want her to be even more sadistic. Can she do it? Mafuyu suggests having her say a few curse words. Not working. Dino then suggests everyone help train Maika into a sadist. So they make her watch very sadistic shows, play very sadistic games and read very sadistic materials. I wonder if this is going to traumatize her. And now it is time to show the fruits of the training. Behold! The new sadistic Maika! Uhm, does she not look like a dominatrix queen? Dino becomes her masochistic slave and since this is going to turn the café into something entirely different, they tell her to smile in which Maika could actually put up a sweet smile. Not sure if this is what the customers want. But her feet is still on Dino’s head while she happily squeals she doesn’t need to be this sadistic. Or does she?

Episode 5
Miu is selling a new doujin based on Maika and Dino: A sadistic maid and her weakling butler! With the café trying out different hairstyles, when Kaho teasing unties Maika’s hair and suddenly it ‘explodes’ with static electricity! So she helps tie it up ponytail style. Customers seem to like this style and this makes Maika happy. But when they comment they still prefer the old style, this activates her sadist mode. Kaho and Akizuki are somehow ‘hiding’ as they play their game in the staff room. So engrossed that they didn’t know Dino has closed the café. It took them a while to realize that the place is dark but even so, started arguing about their favourite character. So when they realize the door is locked, is it time to panic? Akizuki calls Dino but he isn’t picking because that Italian is happily walking Maika home in the rain. Kaho’s handphone battery is almost dead… No choice, they hang out and remember how this scene looks pretty familiar to some manga or game. Then they realize a certain manga and game is out today. Panic now! When Dino returns, he hears strange banging noises. Ghost? When he opens the door, the duo quickly run out to do the necessary while blaming him if they fail to buy what they want. Next day, Maika calls in sick. She walked home in the rain after he sent her to the train station. Dino is beating himself up for not giving her his umbrella. So they visit her huge traditional Japanese home. No doorbells… Dino looks around and since he is acting so suspiciously, he almost got arrested by the police. Eventually Maika’s elder sister, Aika opens the door. She is shocked Maika has friends! They are also introduced to Kouichi, their elder brother. He too is shocked Maika has friends! Recovering Maika talks with her friends when Aika comes in to serve tea. Seeing Dino is a foreigner, she serves a few of them. Not wanting to be rude, he drinks them all. Oh, there are more types she can prepare for him. Sadistic? Then Kouichi comes in with his various snacks. Hard as a rock. I don’t think those are tears of joy. Then they start interrogating Dino of his relationship with Maika. Yeah, they want to know the weather, what they were wearing and the exact words said! This causes Maika to blow her top as she goes into her sadist mode to warn them. Wow. She must be the scariest sadist of them all for them to cower in fear like that.

Episode 6
The gang head to the mountains for an outing. Too bad indoor people like Akizuki, Kaho and Miu are ‘dying’ outdoors. Dino becomes the BBQ manager grilling meat for all. But Mafuyu brought an entire tuna? Mafuyu might be of legal age but watching her drink beer is so conflicting. Miu has her own drinks: Energy drinks. The deadline for Summer Comiket is coming… The next outing would be the beach but Maika doesn’t have her own swimsuit and she suggests Dino come buy one with her. He almost lost control of his driving and killed everyone… Even Aika is shocked Mafuyu is going on a ‘date’. At the store, unsure of what swimsuit to buy, Dino texts the other girls what would look good on Maika. All sorts of suggestions… He thought of asking them what swimsuit they have but all reply back as sexual harassment! As Maika remembers she gets sunburn easily, Dino proposes to wrap up with clothes that make her look like a suspicious person. It’s not even a swimsuit anymore. Eventually Maika settles for a regular outfit that comes with a swimsuit. Dino almost died of blood loss. So here we are at the beach and Akizuki is being ‘intimidated’ by Kaho’s sexiness. He is not used to such 3D godliness, I guess. It really scares the sh*t out of him when her humongous boobs are too close to his face. And there is Miu concocting some sort of tentacle hentai of Akizuki when he is buried in the sand. Burst out! Maika hugs Dino’s hand as they wade through the water. Dino loves this sensation as her boobs are also touching his hand. Till he sees her scary face… Later as they walk along the beach, Maika realizes she has a small burn on her feet. Dino panics and goes overboard to treat it. Must take care of delicate Japanese skin! Eventually her entire leg is bandaged like as though she broke her leg or something. Later a tiny band aid will do and Maika notes she had lots of fun today and Dino looks ‘big’ because he helped her in so many ways.

Episode 7
Kaho returns to the beach and is all tanned. This makes Dino think Maika will be the same. Nope. Still as fair. Dino then comes up with an idea and the next day, the entire café is now like a tropical jungle! So authentic… How the heck did he get all those props done in a night? Despite a small place, Maika can even get lost showing the customers to other places than their seats! Mafuyu is in a monkey outfit and acting like one while Miu is being lewd with the banana. Even Akizuki gets lost. In his frustration, he accidentally touches Kaho’s boobs. However he gets disappointed! So much so he ‘heals’ himself by touching Dino’s chest! WTF?! It only gives Miu some weird inspiration. After the café reverts back to normal, Dino notices they are out of strawberries and goes shopping with Maika to get them. However the supermarket is out of stock. Dino doesn’t mind because this feels like a date. Head to the next supermarket. Also out. Is there some sort of conspiracy because all strawberries are out of stock! But Dino doesn’t mind since it prolongs the ‘date’. They’ll go over to the next town then! Finally there is 1 strawberry pack left. But Maika and a young girl grab it at the same time. Because of her scary face, poor little girl cries. Mommy comes running. Dino apologizes on her behalf. Because of his good looks, the girls are taken in and give him the last pack. On the way home, this prompts Maika to believe she is not cut out for this job. Dino comforts her and praises all the lovely things about her. But does he have to say it aloud passionately? Looks like he got arrested and will be spending time in the police interrogation. With the café being so busy, the girls are stressed up and accidentally act out of their assigned character. It prompts them to think of hiring another staff. Akizuki wants a man and this only gives the rest weird ideas. What he meant is another guy to help in the kitchen. Dino brushes that idea off and will never hire another man for fear he might become his rival! Akizuki argues with him that he rarely doesn’t do anything in the kitchen (Dino’s untapped potential is a fancy word for being lazy. Oh, and their argument gives more inspiration for Miu) and hence Miu suggests cross-dressing and swapping their roles. The girls look good in waiter outfits. This means the guys have to wear waitress outfits. Gee, why do they have the right size for them too?

Episode 8
Folks, meet cutie idol wannabe Hideri Kanzaki. Wait a minute. Dino, what do you mean you aren’t going to hire her yet?! He worries her character overlaps with Mafuyu’s loli grandma type. After getting his ass stabbed by her and the insistence of others, he agrees. Hooray! Since there are no extra uniforms, Maika lends hers. Hideri is quite a hit with the customers. When a cockroach is spotted and the girls start squealing, Hideri coolly smacks it with her hand and throws it out! It is then revealed Hideri is actually a guy! So why this cross-dressing thingy? He believes God made him look cute so it is his dream to become an idol. In his first step to that, he wants to gain fans here first. Otherwise he will have to inherit his family farm in which he doesn’t want. As Dino sucks in picking up girls, Hideri offers to ‘coach’ him on how to do it. Just compliment how cute he is. Easy, right? Not for Dino. He is eking it out like as though it’s the end of the world. But all the plans backfire. When Dino compliments Maika, she thinks she is not up to her sadistic role. He tries to help her but interferes with her work. What about showering her with gifts or anything she wants? She takes it as a ‘last supper’ sign and is going to get fired! When he is going to confess straight to her, he changes what he wants to say. Maika thinks likewise and also mutually replies the same. Are we disappointed or relieved? Miu stumbles into Hideri in the streets and they go shopping for clothes. Because Hideri thinks of himself as super cute in almost any clothes he wears, this irks Miu a lot. Soft punches to the gut? When Miu notices Hideri needs to go to the toilet, he disagrees idols don’t go to toilets. Wanna get punched? Hideri is reminded to go to the correct toilet. This makes all the men wonder if they entered the wrong toilet in the first place. Hideri didn’t buy any clothes in the end seeing they’re too expensive. How about making his own? They’ll be out of fashion when the season is over. Miu has this idea to ask Mafuyu for clothes she doesn’t need. Hideri thinks it is kindergarten clothes. But it is a lot worse since Hideri is forced to wear a magical girl outfit and realizes too late he is their plaything while they snap pictures like crazy. It is going to get even worse when they bring out those kindergarten clothes…

Episode 9
Maika finds an abandoned dog and brings it back to the café. Because everyone has their circumstances why they cannot keep it, looks like they are pressuring Dino to do so. Even if it has does begging eyes resembling Maika’s, Dino is in a pinch. Akizuki thinks Dino will have a valid reason to keep it since Maika can come visit him every day. Oh, Dino lives only upstairs of the café. Time to put away all those otaku stuffs… Eventually after all the pressure, Dino agrees to keep him until its owner is found. Now what she we name it? Owner. Who is the boss around here? Apparently Dino learns the harsh way that raring a dog is no easy feat. Almost biting off his figurines and bugging him to go for walks as early as 5am, his late night anime life is ruined! I guess the only reward he has is that Maika will bake him sweets every day. So with Maika starting on it, Aika wants to know how far her relationship has progressed and decides to visit her at her workplace. But must she come with agents and in a limo? Aika mistakes the café’s month special collaboration cake as their wedding cake. She calls Maika for every unimportant thing until she has to be told off. Is that sadism part of her job or personality? Dino thought he is screwed when Aika wants to talk to him directly. Oh nothing. Just encouraging him. When Hideri teases Maika might be an outsider because her eyes look slightly different than her siblings, Maika actually starts to believe it is so. Dino tries to calm her but almost gets killed by Aika!!! Where did she get that spear?! She thought he made her cry and jumped the gun. But still, he gets threatened to protect her or else… After Aika leaves, Kouichi is seen crying in a corner lamenting Maika didn’t invite him. Everyone starts to notice Dino is getting fat! No, it isn’t late night snacking. But soon the culprit rears her head. Oh look, Maika is giving him today’s pound cake. Yeah… Maika feels guilty for messing with his health but Mafuyu says it is okay for her to continue giving him sweets. Somebody needs to work out… Oh no…

Episode 10
Mafuyu coldly rejects a customer who confesses to her. She explains to her colleagues that their height gap as well as the way he asked her was the reason. They try to have Dino do some romantic simulation on her but it’s not working out. Back home, we learn Mafuyu’s reason why she doesn’t want a boyfriend. Dating boys would cut her free time to watch kids’ anime in real time. Kaho just failed her maths test so why is she playing video games instead of studying? Well, her mom warned her if she fails the make-up test, no more video games! So by her logic, she is playing all the video games she can! No wonder Mafuyu is mad. Time to be the Spartan teacher. Even more so after she learns her Tablet is filled with nothing but games (no matter what excuses she gives). Kaho puts in more effort after learning Mafuyu changed her shift times so she could tutor her. With Kaho burning the midnight oil, the bags under her eyes are visible. This won’t do to serve customers so Mafuyu helps apply some makeup. As the girls experiment with the makeup, sly Hideri makes Akizuki enter the room. Now he becomes their experimental subject. How does Akizuki look now? He’s like a girl! Did they just redraw his character? Anyhow, he looks creepy considering his mismatched body and face. Dino notices Maika’s makeup applied by Mafuyu. He tries to compliment her but accidentally comments she looks like a camel. Fortunately (or not), she thinks camels are cute creatures. Kaho tries to make Akizuki notice her makeup. But he breaks her heart saying she doesn’t look that all cute. What he meant is that she is already cute enough without makeup. This is where you are supposed to be tsundere… Kaho scores quite high in her make-up test. She is grateful to Mafuyu but is sad she won’t be seeing her on this regular basis again. You don’t say because Mafuyu is telling her she must continue studying hard so as to not fail again. I guess this means more Spartan teaching… Said too soon, Kaho. Too soon… Say goodbye to video game time.

Episode 11
Maika goes out with Dino to walk Owner. Does this feel like a date? The park is filled with families so Dino thinks they look like one. He is surprised when Maika also thinks the same and thought she read his thoughts. It seems Owner is smitten with a fellow dog (let’s call her Lassie). Even dogs can be scared of trying to court their love? Maika will help Owner as they go talk to her. Too bad they put up the scariest smile. And that’s the last you’ll see of Lassie. Kaho is down because due to some error, her game data was deleted. Akizuki brushes it off, making her upset and even more depressed. It soon starts affecting her work. Her customers notice this and gives her a present to cheer her up. Akizuki feels bad and makes a parfait for her but seeing she is back to her cheery self, he feels awkward and makes Hideri eat the parfait instead. Later Kaho learns the truth from Dino and goes apologize to him. Akizuki then reverts into a tsundere in accepting her apology. Maika accidentally trips over Hideri. Dino sees this and misinterprets the scene. In fact, he is jealous. As he separates them, Hideri teases him about his jealousy so Dino says he could corner her if he wanted to. Maika doesn’t understand what it means so he has a hard time trying to explain. Cheeky Hideri then pushes Dino as he corners her to the wall. This is what cornering means. Too bad she misinterpret it is some sumo push. Not romantic at all. Now Dino falls into depression and after a little pep talk from Hideri and Akizuki, he tries again. Too bad he freezes up again before her and starts overthinking. Because of that, he gets in her way as she tells him in her sadistic voice to get the hell out of her way! I think Dino is done for. Depression beyond recovery. Of course that won’t last forever as later Maika corners him to make him swoon. Why are all the guys so sissy this episode?!

Episode 12
It’s snowing. So? Dino brings them to a skiing resort! Mafuyu and Miu are shivering from the cold. Miu warms herself up on Hideri and it’s of course her ploy to get kinky ideas for her story. Hideri is excited the kind of story he will be in. Belly punching fetish? Dino is cool in snowboarding. Looks like he has the chance to show off to Maika and teach her till Mafuyu slides by and is as cool as him. Now the rest wants to learn from her! Hideri tries to play the clumsy person to gain sympathy but gets snow piled all over by reckless Dino. At the end of the day, the gang take a bath in the hotspring. Maika feels Dino has done so much for her and wants to repay him. On the other hand, Dino is planning to confess to her but he gets that chance sooner than he thinks when he bumps into her outside the bath. As they talk about things, the rest start spying on them. When Maika leans on his shoulder, he takes it as a sign. A few chickening outs before he finally confesses. Too bad she is asleep. What a waste. He carries her back to her room so the rest have to rush back. Why are they catching their breath so hard? Kaho’s slip of her tongue has her reveal they were spying. Next day, Akizuki assures everyone is supporting for them but Dino pouts he won’t confess anymore. It’s not because he is sulking but under those conditions if he can’t, it means God doesn’t want him to and will find another chance. So he is blaming God? The rest notice Maika looking red. She is not sick as she reveals she had an embarrassing dream last night whereby Dino confessed to her. Only, it wasn’t. They wonder if she had replied in her dream. Yes. She replied she loves him. And also how she loves the rest. I guess it’s not that kind of love they were hoping for. Maika feels bad every time Dino has to apologize for whatever reason. Here comes that sadistic mode to make him stop… Back at the café after they have finished their Christmas sale, they all finish their leftover cake. Dino takes this chance to tell how Akizuki and Kaho were the first staffs and they were so awkward with each other that it’s hilarious. Beating him up won’t change history… Next is Mafuyu and when he approached her, she called the cops thinking he is a lolicon! In the end, he ‘kidnaps’ her back to the café. It seems this rough method was Maika’s experience too. Dino feels bad about it but she is glad he did so otherwise she wouldn’t have been working here. She has met wonderful people and made great memories so it’s no surprise she loves them all. Hey, that’s a pretty nice smile.

Bland Silly…
What else can I say? Nothing really special for me. Season in, season out, lots of moe anime series come and go. A few will be remembered, some just for a while and others will forever be lost and wandering in the back, the dark far reaches of my memories forever. Yup. This series looks like it is heading for the latter.

Just like any other moe series that depend on their characters, there is relatively no plot whatsoever. The general synopsis could be the entire plot of the show. That’s it. Like Hinako Note. A group of girls running a café-cum-bookstore and part of a small theatre group. See their quirky daily life. Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka. A group of girls working in a coffee house or tea house. See their quirky daily life. Urara Meirochou. A group of girls studying divinity. See their quirky daily life. Pan De Peace. Girls + bread. See their quirky daily life. Hence if you have seen one, you will certainly almost see them all. So for Blend S, it is pretty much the same and following this pattern. A group of people and most of them young girls working in a café. See their quirky daily life in the service industry. That’s about all.

The characters are cute and all but as one who has seen so many in such genres, they hardly make an impact. Sure, each of them has their unique traits and characteristics but they hardly excite me anymore at this point. Main character Maika is a nice girl and naturally a sadist if you think about it. Because she does have her cute face when she isn’t trying to be nice. It is only then you can see her sadistic side pop up. So the lesson here is not to overdo it? Maika turning into her sadistic side when she didn’t intend to is the most often played out joke and staple funny moments of the series. Mafuyu can act all nice but is naturally an emotionless and possibly a sadist as bad as Maika. Kaho the lively one… Boobs! Oh, we have to add a BL enthusiast and a cross-dresser too because traps are probably a current trend today. Basically all these girls a freaking good actresses as they play out their roles given to them. On the other hand, you can think of it as their other hidden personality.

So as not to feel this is some sort of harem anime, that is why there are 2 main male characters. But is it me or do I notice that the kitchen staffs are only always manned by 2 guys. Take a look at the Working main series and spin-off. Only 2 males all the time. They have more waiting staff than those making the foods in the kitchen. Not sure how busy the café is at times but waiting is relatively an easier job compared if you are working in the kitchen. Food preparations need to be done before the shop opens and you have to make the food that is being ordered.

We know there is some sort of romance trying to happen between Dino and Maika. More appropriately for now it is just one way street. Despite their different cultural backgrounds, their cultural preferences also clash so you wonder if they would eventually hook up or not despite all the shenanigans and fails (mostly Dino’s). Because Dino as a foreigner is one of those typical anime foreigners who love the Japanese culture. Maika on the other hand comes from a typical traditional Japanese household. Too much of it and she becomes sick of it (sort of) and yearns for the culture of the west. Reminds of that particular character in Kiniro Mosaic… Well, let’s wish those two all the best. Like they say, opposite attracts. It’s a good thing Dino didn’t make that no romance policy in the workplace because he would be the first to break those rules. Speaking of romance, there is another one happening too and obviously it is Akizuki and Kaho. One can guess a lot from their body reactions with each other. Sometimes it gets a bit frustrating as you want to scream to them just get over with it and date each other already. After all, they both love playing games and are almost the same in the tsundere personality.

Art and animation style are obviously of the moe type. Girls so cute you want to squeeze and hug them like your bunny doll. Just kidding. Don’t do that. But you get the idea. Therefore you can see hints of the moeness in the characters from other similar genres like Gochuumon Usagi Wa Desu Ka, Ikoku Meiro No Croisee and Kiniro Mosaic. Maika is so Hina Doll-like she looks like many of the main characters from these series. One look at Kaho I thought she was Mai from Musaigen No Phantom World. Sometimes I mistake Hideri for being a Nyaruko clone… This series is animated by A-1 Pictures who are more famous for Sword Art Online, Ao No Exorcist, Nanatsu No Taizai, OreImo, Kuroshitsuji, Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso, the Working series as well as the Uta No Prince-sama series.

Didn’t recognize anyone from the voice acting department as many of them are newbies. They are Azumi Waki as Maika (Galko in Oshiete! Galko-chan), Tomoaki Maeno as Dino (Junichi in Amagami SS), Anzu Haruno as Mafuyu (Moka in Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun), Akari Kitou as Kaho (Kana in Tsuredzure Children), Atsumi Tanezaki as Miu (Mizore in Hibike! Euphonium), Sora Tokui as Hideri (Nero in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Akizuki (Ban in Nanatsu No Taizai), Rei Matsuzaki as Aika (Nagahide in Oda Nobuna No Yabou) and Shinki Satou as Kouichi. Both the opening and ending themes, Bon Appetit S and Detaramena Minus To Plus Ni Okeru Blend Kou respectively are sung by Blend A (Maika, Mafuyu and Kaho) and are your typical lively and genki anime-like pieces that fits this genre like a glove.

Overall, if you still love the cute girls doing cute things and that moe passion in you is still burning as strong as ever, this series should rank quite high in your books. If you are like me who is starting to find such genres a little blend, not even the combined personalities of the sweet, tsundere, big sister, little sister, idol and even sadist could help serve a better dessert. It’s all in the service, I guess. Okay, okay. This series isn’t that bad per se since I can sense Maika starring with killing intentions over my shoulder. I don’t want her to poison my gateau au chocolat cake. But if I may suggest there would be a bunch of maids, I’ll take and order everything this instant! That kind of blend I would definitely consider as ‘S’ for superior!

Sakura Quest

February 11, 2018

What’s this? An anime about reviving an old dying rural town? Boring… But if my guts tell me anything, it is to never judge an anime by its synopsis. Okay, I’m guiltier because I judged it by its poster cover. Seeing how 5 cute girls are going to help revive a town with an aging and declining population, this is going to be fun, right? And hence in Sakura Quest, we are going to see them come up with all sorts of ideas and think out of the box in their bid to bring in more people to visit this rural town in the mountains while trying to maintain local traditions.

Episode 1
When Yoshino Koharu was young, her dream was to become a queen. But reality hits her hard because after 30 job applications, she has been rejected by all. Then she receives a call from Momonga Promotion Agency that there has been a job request from a client to be a spokesperson for a rural town. With nothing to lose, she packs her bags for a day’s trip to the mountainous rural area of Manoyama. Alighting from the train, there is a group of people holding a banner welcoming her. They are stumped to see Yoshino. Apparently there has been a mistake. The grumpy old boss, Ushimatsu Kadota has actually requested for Yoshino Tsubaki, a famous idol (whom Kadota is a great fan of). Too bad. She died 8 years ago! So the blame game starts. Whose fault is it? I guess somebody’s bad handwriting has some misinterpret Tsubaki that can also be read as Koharu. With all the costs taken into account, I guess they have no choice but to go with this plan. Yoshino gets to know a few other staffs working on the local tourism board like Shiori Shinomiya. Manoyama is supposed to be some Kingdom of Chupakabura but it is like a dead ghost town and many of its inhabitants have this sour puss looks. Not so friendly… At the castle where all the old people gather, Kadota starts the coronation ceremony to make Yoshino the queen. After a little party with the old folks, Shiori drives her to the cabin where she will be staying.

She finds Maki Midorikawa sleeping there. Because Yoshino doesn’t know what she is getting into, Maki shows her the truth. Uploaded online is the recent coronation ceremony that says Yoshino will be queen for 1 year! Instantly she calls her agency she didn’t sign up for this. Too bad if she had only read the finer prints of her contract… Still, she won’t take it and tries to go home. The only bus in town can’t take her to the train station. Yeah, there’s a weird wandering minstrel riding it… Better to walk. When Kadota learns she is trying to go home, he puts his plan into action. Dressed up as a chupakabura and pretending to attack Shiori in this lame act, naturally Yoshino runs away. Ignore that sword in the stone right in the middle of the road. Because their act is so pitiful, Yoshino just plays along and smacks the chupakabura with her bag. That really hurt for an old guy. No choice but to stay here, Yoshino learns how some of the people really love their town and want to invigorate it again. Locked out from the cabin, she decides to stay at the castle. She looks through the old photos on the board during its heydays. One of the group pictures here has young Yoshino as the queen. Then she remembers she has been to this place before and the reason why she wanted to be one. So she dresses up as a queen and sleeps on the throne. Next morning, Kadota sees this and believes she has made up her mind to become queen. Well then, looks like he has already going to make her work.

Episode 2
Yoshino is now tasked to sell manjuus. However another miscommunication error a thousand boxes! Blame game again… Kadota throws down the challenge for her to sell them all in a week. If she can, she is allowed to leave. Shiori meets Maki for the first time, she recognizes her as some extra in a popular detective movie. Her character seems to be popular here. Yoshino and Shiori walk around town to personally talk to people to buy them. From the bus driver Takamizawa, café-cum-fortune-teller Angelica, the grumpy waitress Erika Suzuki, the even grumpier old hag Chitose Oribe, the merchant board head who is always at odds with Kadota, nothing sold. They talk to Oribe’s granddaughter, Ririko since she is an occult maniac to find out more on chupakabura. Yoshino gets an idea to upload this onto the website by staffs Minou and Takashi Yamada points her to a web designer living in the outskirts. Meet Sanae Kouzuki. Her house is a dumpster and I hope she likes the company of bugs. Not. After telling her their issue, Sanae comes up with a plan to design a fancy website. After that they set up a tent to sell the manjuus in front of the castle. First day results: Not enough hits on the website. What does this mean? Nobody came to buy. So they try to tweak the headlines with symbols and somehow make it the queen’s fault. Second day results? Shiori’s family came to buy out of pity. Well, that’s a start. Maki suggests making a video. So we have this lame but excusable chupakabura slaying video that turns the monster into delicious manjuus. The results? Only the wandering minstrel came… A week has passed and with less than 5 boxes sold, I guess Yoshino failed. So are the girls going to eat all of it? Well, if it’s to fight depression… Mmm… They taste good.

Episode 3
So Yoshino’s failure and punishment is to ride around town? Nobody’s watching this parade… Yoshino sees Maki meeting her brother, Kousuke. She tells him she isn’t going back to Tokyo. As Yoshino has planned to stay here, she has her stuffs moved from Tokyo. As there is a regional mascot contest, Yoshino is nervous preparing for the interview although she has a script in hand. But when the interviewer asks questions not in the script, she starts to fumble. She feels down because it makes her realize she doesn’t know much about Manoyama. She tries to talk to the old people but you know how cranky some of them can be. Some of the young ones don’t really mind the slow pace of this town. Some just honestly hate it. Like Erika. So brutally honest. Yoshino learns that Manoyama’s old mascot based on the town’s specialty vegetable called Kabura Kid. However it died out very fast and during that time since UMAs were popular, that is why chupakabura became the thing. At the mascot competition, Kadota realizes his chupakabura mask is missing. Somebody accidentally threw it away. Blame game… The other girls try to find where the Kabura Kid costume is and I can’t believe they could do it and run all over the place in such a short time while the competition is still ongoing. When they finally find it, they drive as fast as they could to the competition grounds. At the same time, Minou and Takashi have found the chupakabura mask in the dump site but it stinks. So either wear the stinky mask or the torn Kabura Kid costume. At this point Yoshino puts her foot down. It doesn’t matter, she realizes by talking with the people, they don’t want the town changed. So she goes up on stage. A chupakabura wearing a kabura headgear? Then she starts her endearing speech about the town and how neither mascots were popular. So what it is that is important? Something that Manoyama holds important. What is it? She doesn’t know. But she wants to find that out with the people over the next year as their queen. In the end, the girls have a little party of their ‘success’. I guess third from last isn’t bad. Yoshino agrees to stay here for a year but with a condition that Shiori, Ririko, Sanae and Maki become her cabinet ministers. She feels she can do it if they are with her.

Episode 4
With the truck dead, the girls take it to this mechanical maniac, Busujima AKA Doku to fix. He is impressed when Yoshino manages to activate some robot jukebox. Must be her hands with some hyaluronic acid. What?! He also takes this chance to test out some exoskeleton that would help make lifting and carrying heavy things easier. After seeing the beautiful ranma woodwork, Yoshino wants to promote the wood carving district. They meet Tatsuo who runs a wood carving shop. He is eager to help but his pupil and senior, Kazushi isn’t impressed. After a few discussion, they get this idea to combine traditional art with cutting edge technology. So they test out the exoskeleton and fit it with ranma carvings. While it may look good, it isn’t practically as the wood could get in the way and break easily. Then they have another great idea. Transform a wooden Buddha statue into a vending machine! Wow. It’s really so cool! This might work. With all the hype of its potential, it is cut short when Kazushi scolds them to stop their shenanigans. Some of the old folks like Oribe are protesting of this blasphemy to mix their tradition with this futuristic sacrilege crap. The girls feel sorry because it’s like doing the same thing of making a sushi flavoured soda (something Doku did). Yoshino and Sanae got to apologize to Kazushi and sincerely wants to help promote Manoyama’s wood carving. They thought he would understand since all of them came from outside Manoyama. However Kazushi points out Sanae came here because she ran away from something difficult. He came here and knew what he was facing. He is different. When asked to name the wood he is using, they can’t. How can they promote something they don’t even know? Sanae feels depressed as she talks to Yoshino how true Kazushi’s words are. When she was in Tokyo, she worked nonstop to meet deadlines. Even when she isn’t performing, there will be someone else to replace her. Unlike Kazushi as he is the only one who can do what he does. That’s why she can’t argue back. Since she can’t put her heart into this, she wants to quit and can’t do this anymore.

Episode 5
Yoshino and the other girls take this chance to learn more about wood carving while Sanae bums around searching for a meaning. Running away again? Yoshino has this grand idea to turn the local wood carving into something likes Spain’s Sagrada Familia. They’ll call it Sakura Pond Familia. Plus, this big project once attracting the eyes of the world will attract more people and more jobs because people will come here eager to contribute to the sculpture. However this plan is rejected by Kadota. Just one big problem: They have no money! Tatsuo shows Sanae shoes made out of wood carving. He was inspired by Cinderella. Though this might make purists Kazushi mad, he doesn’t care. It seems the ranma Kazushi is working on, the owner who requested it just died and got cancelled but he continued to work on it. Stubborn. Sculpting is just a job and not getting paid is pointless. The girls are pondering who could be their ideal artist. Could it be that wandering minstrel? They look him up on the internet. Real name is Alexandre Cena Davis Celbidache. So sophisticated. Just call him Sandal. He is noted for some awesome street art. They think of asking him but sees him getting picked up by the police. Maybe not. Biggest joke of the day… After Yoshino shows her sketch of what her grand sculpture is to look like, they go source for funding. Yoshino sees the wooden shoes and after talking with Sanae about jobs and being praised, Sanae is motivated to help. She suggests using crowdfunding. But where to put this sculpture? As many people arrive at Manoyama at the train station, it is like the gateway to the world. They can make its interior like the Sistine Chapel. First they go to talk to Kazushi. It will take more than their knowledge about wood to impress him. Sanae knows a way to ensure Manoyama’s sculpture remains here without compromising his ideals. The ranma he is working on when finished, is placed at the train station’s entrance. The first step. Many more to come in the future. Yeah, they won’t be alive to see it completed. But guests arriving are certainly wowed by the magnificent carving.

Episode 6
A film crew will be here to film a shoot at Manoyama. Everyone is excited it will give the place a much needed PR but Maki isn’t pleased and opts out. Yoshino meets 3rd assistant director, Fujiwara. He hands her a list of things to do from securing permits, extras, food, etc… I guess showbiz isn’t that easy. So they go look around for locations to shoot. At Oribe’s confectionery, she didn’t like how Kadota told them they could shoot her so she chases them away. Till Ririko points out their manjuu was going to be in the film and if they aren’t, they’ll use the chupakabura ones instead. Come back! When the director, Sonoda finally arrives, it seems he ones this abandoned run down house as the final day of the shoot because he is going to burn it down! Is that in the script? Shiori protests since it is haunted but Sonoda likes it even more. Shiori will handle to seek permission from its owner. Surprisingly she is more than happy to get rid of it. So she lies she is unable to contact the owner. So Yoshino has other abandoned house they can try to use but Sonoda insists on that one. The town folks are here when the shooting begin. They have famous actors like Taiga Hayama and Moe Sawano. This zombie flick looks cheesy… More problems when an actress scheduled to arrive tomorrow has injured herself. Yoshino thought Maki could step in but she gets angry and rejects. Sanae isn’t pleased about this so she is going to lecture her. But she sees Moe talking to Maki who is her senior. Moe admires her acting but is surprised to learn she has quit the theatre and is unsure of her acting future. Sanae talks to Maki as the latter reveals Moe was able to make her big break because she did weird things on variety shows like eating a cicada. Maki couldn’t and realized that is the same of having an abusive employer. All Sanae has to say is that if she rejects the world she passionately pursues, it is disgraceful. Also, she needs to apologize to Yoshino.

Episode 7
Ririko seems to be very nervous as a stand-in. It is too late to switch or else production will stop so Maki goes to advise her. She nails it the next time. Yoshino receives word from Fujiwara that they need to reschedule some scenes. Because it is going to rain, they will be shooting tomorrow’s indoor scenes today. This means she has to round up all the elementary kids to play the mini zombies. Maki asks Kousuke for a favour and he manages to do it because mainly of their father who is the vice principal of the school. Maki isn’t impressed because she doesn’t want to see dad. Sanae thought she could stop those kids from fighting but instead one slaps her butt and all starts teasing her ass. See Ririko back away slowly… Maki finds Ririko in her old classroom. Ririko thanks her for the advice. Maki once went to this school and wanted to act in the Snow White play but ended up playing a tree. The abandoned house holds special memories for Shiori as an old lady who recently passed away used to stay here. Yoshino confronts Shiori about lying so Shiori tells her off that she is one to say for abandoning her own hometown. Eventually they both apologize and Shiori has to come to terms that the house is going either way. Later Kousuke has Maki watch an old play from her class. Dad was in charge of filming and only focused on Maki. He got scolded by the principal later. Sonoda is on a whim changing the script again. He wants the lover to dive into the burning house. Although many disagree, Moe wants to do it. Her agent reminds her this is dangerous and she has no replacement. She still wants to do it. Maki will be her double. She might be taller but if they film it from an angle, it can be done. The house is set on fire. The cameras are rolling. Maki rushes towards the burning house. It looked like she jumped in but there is a hole outside the door where she leapt into. The take is fabulous and with that, the filming ends. That’s a wrap. Fujiwara goes to thank Shiori for the house. Because Yoshino told him to put it in the special credits of its owner. The girls celebrate their hard work and the next day as Fujiwara promised, he has referred Manoyama to other directors. Yoshino eagerly picks up the call only to hear the eager beaver wanting to shoot a big time movie about car chases and blowing up temples. Looks like somebody oversold them…

Episode 8
The girls meet Shiori’s older sister, Sayuri who is a paediatrician. With the family making great food, Yoshino wants to make Shiori as the leader of the C-Rank Gourmet as they are working for an exclusive dish for Manoyama. Of course Shiori declines as she has no confidence. This prompts memories of some failed hamburger many years ago. So the girls come up with strange combo dishes… They won’t win any hearts in cooking anime shows… As Sayuri is leaving town due to her work, the family eats out at a fancy restaurant. This place is run by Kumano, Sayuri’s old classmate. He went to France to study to become a chef and recently returned to take over his ailing father’s ramen shop in which he turned into a French restaurant. The grandparents didn’t hesitate to ask Kumano to pick anyone of their 2 granddaughters when they learn he is still single. He modestly declines as he would be wasted on them but Sayuri didn’t think so. The girls with Kumano try to catch some fish. With their bare hands? The girls think Shiori and Kumano have good vibes together. They also try to incorporate some French ingredients from his list but more weird dishes came out. Shiori’s father talks to her about the future. He wants her to live the way she wants although Shiori prefer things stay the same. So Shiori talks to Sayuri about this. Thanks to their parents and grandparents providing for them, they have nothing to worry about. But things won’t last forever. Shiori learns Sayuri was interested in Kumano but because she thought he lived in a different world, she felt hard to approach him. Funny, because Shiori thought Kumano said the same thing about her. Oribe storms into the office to complain the C-Rank Gourmet is on the same day as the annual summer festival. Yoshino feels guilty since she didn’t consult the board of merchants beforehand. So they all go to apologize and as usual, Kadota isn’t really sincere. Oribe voices her opinion. Kadota always did things his way. When he changed Manoyama from the kingdom of kabura to chupakabura and tried to sell weird manjuus based on it, she tolerated it all because the ingredients were locally made. Now he is trying to revive that crap but using ingredients from the outside (despite the cost being cheaper). Kadota argues all that matters are bringing in the tourists or else nothing would happen. Yoshino thought of taking responsibility by cancelling C-Rank Gourmet but Shiori steps up to take responsibility as the leader of this project. She will think of something to put smiles on people’s face.

Episode 9
Shiori herself is surprised. She took action because she wanted to help Yoshino. While eating at Angelica who is serving soumen to everything, Shiori then hits upon an idea. She proposes to have a soumen expo as well as a contest for the best soumen in which the winning dish will be made the official dish of Manoyama. This would be in line with the summer festival’s theme. Oribe agrees to this. Yoshino goes around soliciting participants for their expo’s booths. At Kumano’s restaurant, they taste his great French toast. It was the dish that changed his life. He was making it in school and Sayuri tasted it to be good. That was when he decided to go to France and perfect it. The only problem was French toast was created by an American. And so he became a French chef. But the day he left for France, Sayuri didn’t turn up. Funny, because Shiori heard her sister said the same thing. So before Sayuri moves out, Kumano talks to her and it seems they were both waiting at the same station at the same time but how did they not meet each other since the place is small and you can’t possibly miss each other. Yoshino has some creative idea to make the expo more exciting. Looks like she is collaborating with Doku on something big. As Shiori is racking her brains, she freaks out realizing she got the date wrong. Then she realizes this calendar is last year’s. The expo is a hit. Before the winner of the contest is announced, Yoshino has a few words to say. Actually, she is in her swimsuit as she shows off this huge soumen machine. It’s like a video game whereby you try to catch soumen and eat them. It’s messy. Doku is operating behind. Shouldn’t he automated this part too? I think this will only resonate with kids. Many of the people love Shiori’s happy soumen and seek her permission to incorporate it in their own menu. Kumano is at the expo and is given a note to meet Sayuri and the calendar. When they meet, both are perplexed until Sayuri sees the calendar. Looks like she got the date wrong and she waited on the wrong day. They laugh it off as Kumano invites her to his restaurant to try out his perfected French toast.

Episode 10
There is going to be some romance tour of Manoyama. Basically a matchmaking programme. Sadly, only 3 ladies from the city sign up. Kadota wants Yoshino to help input some ideas and make those women settle down here. Looking through the programme, most are cheesy. Are they even trying? They suggests a tour of the sake brewery, fireflies and a stay at an old-style house. Feeling something is missing, it is also suggested they put on a traditional Manoyama dance. However Ririko decides to opt out since she isn’t good with traditional stuffs. Flashback shows she has always been a weird kid. Because of that she is always by herself. Yoshino and Maki welcome the 3 ladies. I’m sure if they’re here to find a lover, any hot guy would do. Like Takamizawa. Too bad he is married. The town is bustling because the next town’s singles club heard about it and came here. All men. Boy, this looks like an awkward den of predators. They have lunch at Angelica’s place to meet up with some of the guys from the local singles club who signed up for this. Erika can’t help take a sarcastic swipe at those old hags and Sandal starts playing a cheesy wedding song with his violin. Night fall, they have BBQ in the open as Yoshino and co put on the Manoyama dance. Kadota then narrates about its ‘origin and legend’. Long ago there was a dragon who lived here but hates revelry so the dance and song keep it away sealed in some shrine. Suddenly it rains so everyone starts running for cover. Some of them stumble into a small shelter that has a dragon statue. Could this be part of the legend? It looks dirty and nobody has been taking care of it. The lightning scares them and accidentally breaks the statue. Oops… Do we have a bad feeling about this?

Episode 11
Doku has fixed the shrine. But it seems strange things are happening. The throne room is messed up. Did the dragon come to visit? Also, Ririko is sick after catching a cold from the rain. At the rock climbing facility, one of the girls thought somebody is watching them. Could it be Sandal? But he reveals a surprising history to Yoshino. His great grandpa visited here for business and fell in love with a local woman. However he brought her back to his country where they got married. Hence Sandal is 1/8 Manoyama. Yoshino believes this is a great love story for this tour. While having a lunch break at a restaurant, the waiter brought an extra glass of water because he thought he saw an extra person with them. A guy with big eyes and beard. Could it be a dragon? When Yoshino goes to check on Ririko, she is chased away by Oribe who blames her for getting her involved. It is revealed that Oribe’s son married a woman who came from outside Manoyama. Because she couldn’t stand the place or want to take over Oribe’s shop, she left. Dad followed her. But after Ririko was born, they divorced and dad was shortly posted overseas. Therefore in Oribe’s eyes, her son was tricked by an outsider and that’s why she doesn’t like them. While visiting the wood carving shop, as they take photos, one of them pops up a weird character behind. A dragon?

Later Yoshino and Ririko meet outside. The latter has discovered an alternative but forgotten tale of the local dragon tale. The people wanted to learn more of the dragon and danced around the fire. However this scared the dragon. When the people realized they were wrong, the dragon had died of loneliness. They wrote a song to comfort it. The song is mostly forgotten. Hence Manoyama is a place that accepts outsider. Yoshino thinks this would be a great inclusion for tonight’s final tour but that is when Ririko snaps back that she is not like her. Yoshino is everything that Ririko cannot do. She feels nobody understands or accepts her. Surprisingly Sandal is singing that dragon song. He learnt it from mom who learnt it from grandma who learnt it from great grandma. She used to sing it to him when he cried. Yoshino manages to persuade Oribe to come see Ririko’s performance tonight. One of the girls realize somebody is watching and it is revealed a big beardy guy who is her ex. So they’re getting back together? He couldn’t let her go and tailed her. Last night’s lightning scared him as he fell into the pond and he took refuge at the throne room. Once everyone gathers, Yoshino tells a brief story of the alternate dragon story. With Sandal on his guitar, Ririko sings the song. It gets better with fireflies lighting up the place. The next day, everyone sees off the ladies at the train station. They would love to come back next time but isn’t so sure about marrying and settle down here. What about the couple who just got back together? Well, their parents are against them marrying. Ririko suggests eloping here and hence another great idea that Manoyama is a town for elopers is born. Really?

Episode 12
The 20th anniversary of the Kingdom of Chupakabura is coming up. Kadota introduces them a host of a famous TV show who in turn introduces his network’s director, Amamiya who is also a Manoyama native. He plans to do a show on how the girls are going to revive the town. It’s like a reality TV, right? So we see the cameras rolling on them in almost everything they do from meetings to the fieldwork. Is Shiori trying to look smart in glasses? However with everything feeling so normal, Amamiya can’t find elements that would make viewers get involved. Yoshino didn’t like how she is being called normal. Some of the girls learn Yoshino was here as a young kid and thought this would help spice things up but they decide it could be a pain and just to keep it a secret. With sponsorships not hitting the target, the girls are forced to contemplate on sizing down. Luckily Amamiya has managed to bring in some good news. He has managed to get Ptolemaios, a popular rock band to come perform here. Wouldn’t that be costly? Don’t worry. His network will cover those expenses. It’s not a bad deal since they are getting free advertising too. Because they are a little hesitant, Amamiya blows his top for giving excuses. This is a great chance for them so why hesitate? After filming a short promo of the town, Yoshino and co talk to Oribe and the other merchants. They are seeking additional help and funding. This does not sit well with many of them because they already have their hands full with the festival and it is pretty convenient for them to be asking this. Is this the much needed drama and tension needed for the cameras? But it is suggested that since people will be coming from far and out of their way here, why not make it worth their while and give discounts? With some agreeing to this, Oribe approves to help out with the funding since they have some reserve funds. If they don’t use it for this, when will they? Besides, if they’re going to do it, do it right. Deep in the night, Yoshino is woken up by Maki and Sanae. They see lots of early birds camping for tomorrow’s show. It’s going to be crazy.

Episode 13
Talking to the campers, it’s not like they want to camp out here. There are no proper lodgings. But beware of bears! Next day, the girls greet Ptolemaios. They look so dead. Must be the long journey. Soon the people come streaming in. Takamizawa must be shocked that there is a long queue for his bus and is full for the first time. The day events go well until it is time for Yoshino and co to do the quiz event. Due to delays from Ptolemaios, their concert started shortly after the quiz show is about to begin. This means the clash of events as the crowd starts streaming out to go watch their live concert. Well, the quiz show must go on despite the few people remaining. However, with Ptolemaios playing so loudly, probably the whole of Manoyama could hear them. Especially the quiz show next door in which people had a hard time hearing Yoshino asking the questions. After Ptolemaios is done with their show, the quiz show reaches its final round in which Sandal won?! He wins a trip for 2 to Guam. Who would he like to bring with? Kindaichi the policeman???!!! I know they are singles with no luck with women but do they have to be this gay?! At the end of the day, a small celebration party is held. It is considered a success when you consider they fulfil a year’s worth of tourist quota in a single day. But the true problems arise tomorrow. Garbage everywhere, the town is as dead as before (like as though the people just vanished) and the most heart breaking of them all is all the coupons handed out are thrown away. They thought the show would give them some reprieve but let’s just say the power of editing has the girls feel down as it doesn’t show what it is truly needed. Even if the programme is considered a success with many viewers, the girls ponder if this is what they wanted. I mean, how many people would come all the way out here again? Yoshino is hit hardest because they got all excited by Ptolemaios and the TV show and they should have learnt that reviving the town isn’t just about getting people to come. She questions herself about what she has done for the last 6 months. So is she going to quit again?

Episode 14
Yoshino takes a break and returns to her hometown. Same with Sanae and Maki but they’re bored and feeling more like outsiders. Yoshino meets up with her friend who is working in the government department of supporting new residents. She suggests how Manoyama an important strategy to revive a rural town is to have permanent residents instead of temporary ones. Then she meets up with her younger sister, Nagisa who is still schooling. She thinks she is having an easy and carefree life but gets ‘jealous’ when she finds how normal it is. How normal you ask? She has a boyfriend! Sanae meets up with her old colleagues who try to persuade her to come back to the city with the interesting projects they have but Sanae currently prefers where she is now. Likewise, Maki goes out drinking with Moe who proposes they both can hit it big with a director who is trying to find talent in his next project. Yoshino and Nagisa are at the local festival. Yoshino catches up with some of her old friends before her parents join in. She learns mom isn’t from this area and dad managed to show her the beautiful side of this town while they were dating. Meanwhile Shiori and Ririko are going around checking out abandoned houses as they have this proposal to turn them into B&B style. However they remember Kindaichi’s warning that there were suspicious people spotted loitering around them. Don’t look now but here they are! They’re speaking Spanish! True Spanish! Those guys try to be friendly to them but obviously they don’t understand a single word of Spanish and freak out!

Episode 15
Yoshino and the rest are back. But back at the castle, they are shocked to see Shiori and the rest partying with those Spanish people! Apparently they are from a group called Cryptid Twelve whereby they go around the world in search for unsolved supernatural mysteries. The Chupakabura has recently got their attention. See those local single guys trying to impress the Spanish chicks with their broken ‘Engrish’… Yoshino feels good to be back as she knows she has a place to return to. But this prompts the question of what she will do when her term ends. Speaking to Ririko about it, it never crossed her mind to leave Manoyama. If she did, grandma would be lonely. With the Cryptid members here, they are looking into the B&B issues. Because they are foreigners, there is this language barrier that prevents locals from cooperating smoothly. So how long are they staying? Until they find the Chupakabura. That’s like, never? At least until the drying event. It seems tomorrow they will drain the water from Sakura Pond to clear up some black bass problem by drying it out since it will cause some damage to the ecosystem. Plus, it hasn’t been done so for 70 years. While it will take some time and the people are excited about it, Kadota doesn’t look too happy. As this is the request of Cryptid, he is probably letting it happen (Cryptid believes Chupakabura is related to the kappa who lives in the water). This event has made several more Cryptid members wanting to come here. This means lodging problems. But Yoshino is unsure of this is what Manoyama wants for its rejuvenation as she wants to avoid making the same mistake during the festival. There is a house owner who is the only one who registered as B&B so Yoshino and co head over to clean up. That night, a camera picks up something moving in the middle of the pond. Cryptid makes a move. It turns out Kadota is drowning! Man, he can last that long? He is okay although is hospitalized. The girls wonder the rational of him jumping into the pond in the middle of the night and it could be some old ghost story. Doku calls Oribe about what Kadota did. Something about that thing from 50 years ago is back. Something Kadota desperately doesn’t want that existence to be known by everybody and hence the ‘drastic measures’.

Episode 16
The girls hear a loud crash. It’s Kadota unconscious at the wheel and he crashed into a pillar?! Did he escape from hospital? He has fever since he was running in the rain too. Back to the hospital. Next day as they investigate, it seems the car was tied to a rope trying to pull something out from the lake. Ririko then shows the rest an old photo. Kadota, Oribe and Doku were once in a band during their high school days. As they ask Doku for the story, he reveals they were indeed in a band named Garage Band. They had a pretty good song with good lyrics but singing in Manoyama won’t turn any heads. Because their parents will not allow such a thing, they decided to run away and make it big in Tokyo during the night of the festival but Kadota didn’t turn up. Instead, he went to cause trouble by singing on the float during a procession on Sakura Pond that caused everything to tumble into the water. Thanks to that, the festival was never held again. Not that it was popular to begin with. That’s why Kadota was allowed to stay here. In the end, only Doku went to Tokyo himself for college. The band broke up and Kadota and Oribe were at odds ever since. Further research about this old festival reveals it was to worship a dragon shrine. It was located where the pond is before it was then relocated after the pond was created. Hence the procession was held over the water.

More flashback reveals Oribe suggesting to Kadota to run away to make it big at Tokyo since Doku is going there to study. However Kadota had second thoughts. He kept wondering if Manoyama was no good for him before her realized he wasn’t going to run away anymore and thus that crazy act of wanting to wake up everybody to make this place interesting. Ririko talks to grandma that she wanted to leave Manoyama once. She heard from Doku and her amazing voice. Oribe couldn’t remember much of it as she advises it will be the same for her too. When you get old, you stop caring about all your dreams. That’s why before it happens, she should get out there and do whatever she wants. With the pond fully drained, they see whatever that lump of decaying stuff there is. The guitar and shrine float must have been ‘fused’ together. Can’t tell. So this is what Kadota might want to pull out to prevent everyone from remembering that embarrassing past. After Cryptid Twelve leaves, Yoshino talks to Kadota if he would like to revive the old festival because seeing how the people had fun gathering at the dried up lake. She proposes to Minou but he is sceptical as they are lacking the budget and manpower. For the first time, Shigaraki stands up and speaks. There are 3 sacred treasures needed if they want to revive the festival. It is essential for the festival to be held. However their whereabouts are unknown. Challenge accepted.

Episode 17
Reviving the Mizuchi Festival is going to be a challenge. The staff, hanging drum and golden dragon are missing and not even the old folks know anything about it. But they discover a lead that an old cultural anthropologist professor might know something about it. However he lives far deep in the mountains of Warabiya. Rennosuke Suzuhara is a bit eccentric and grumpy. He toys with them about wanting to revive the festival and hints one of them is residing in a store of a certain traditional house. Yeah, they he didn’t say it was his so the girls go on a wild goose hunt to ask other old residents of Warabiya. Nope, they don’t have it. They soon hear complaints from them and directing their frustration to Takamizawa since there are plans to cut the bus routes to Warabiya. It costs over 10 million to run a bus a year and they’re not getting the numbers. Yoshino and co go discuss with Suzuhara and the other old folks. They give their opinions but Suzuhara shoots it down with realistic facts. When Sanae suggests moving out to a denser place, Suzuhara comments about the people working hard to earn their right to live here. Breaking up a community is like breaking up a culture. He points out he is also from Tokyo and has no connection or special feelings to Manoyama. But unlike her he already has roots here. He suggests Sanae to use her expertise. Hence she comes up with the idea to teach everyone how to use iPad and technology! They might get a little carried away talking how technology will soon have driverless busses and this causes a kiddie fight between Takamizawa and Erika! A local live streaming channel is also created for the locals. But at this point all the problems also pop up because you know, the toxicity level is rising. Who says old people can’t be nasty too? Yoshino sees Suzuhara about this problem and since the time is right, he is going to take her hostage. Soon an online video of Suzuhara and the old folks of Warabiya is streamed live. They are putting up a rebellion to protest the removal of bus routes to their area. Are they annexing themselves from the Kingdom of Chupakabura? Yoshino has ‘joined’ their cause.

Episode 18
Yoshino calls the rest and says she is voluntarily becoming their hostage. She feels very needed. Sanae realizes they have been set up since as Suzuhara lists a bunch of demands. That night Maki goes to deliver some of the beer and snacks as part of the demands (because the old people are also going to record themselves having a party as nobody is going to listen to you if you only whine and complain). A little bit of booze and now she’s partying with them. Next day, a makeshift sign stands out at the entrance of Warabiya. They are calling it now the Republic of Warabiya. Ririko films the residents going about in their daily lives as per the demands while Sanae talks to Suzuhara. He knows he can’t do this forever and his plan is to make people in Manoyama aware of the problem. He also knows this village won’t be here forever and hence wants to record its culture before that happens. He will rescind the withdrawal when the time is right. With the old folks adept in using IT, Takamizawa hopes Sanae could teach him too. Yoshino continues to stay with the old people and they really want to pledge their loyalty to her if she ever replaces Kadota. They joke about this being a fairytale like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Sandal the prince? Right, he quips back the prince come riding on a bus! Next day, Takamizawa surprises everyone with an app and new business model, an on-demand bus. Let’s say this is very much like Uber. In this van, you use the app to pick what time you want to be picked up and to where. Long ago Takamizawa had this idea and proposed it to his company but back then it would cost a lot since an operator is needed and the idea was shelved. Now with technology, it is so much easier and cheaper. Though, this experiment is only confined to Manoyama for now. With that, Suzuhara makes a video to rescind the withdrawal. Suzuhara then leaves a cryptic message on the forum board on the whereabouts of one of the treasures. Sadly, that night he suddenly passes away! A funeral is held and he has left a will donating his property to the municipal government. Sanae sees a stack of books in a corner and learns he has been researching about this town every day without fail since he came 20 years ago. She realizes this is what he meant of putting down roots. The girls learn the name of the previous owner of this place (the same name on the forum board) and find the staff right next door. It’s too heavy for them to carry. Well, there’s the on-demand bus. So convenient.

Episode 19
The search for the drum leads the girls to an old school that has been closed down for a decade. Uh oh. Ririko and her ghost stories… Everyone freaks out even more when they see somebody. Well, it’s Maki’s dad. Let’s say they are on bad terms. Very bad. As the school’s ex-vice principal, he still keeps it running since it is not abandoned. After hearing what they are looking for, he shows where the drum is located. But it is badly damaged and it will eat up a lot of their budget just to repair it. Before they leave, Yoshino sees a beautiful mural but learns it will be torn down the year after the next. Yoshino creates a proposed committee to revive Mizuchi Festival. They are travelling the routes proposed for it. As the reason for this festival is lost, Yoshino needs a better motivation to bring people here. Kadota helps out as atonement as he still feels responsible for ‘destroying’ this festival 50 years ago. That’s why he tried like a madman to help Manoyama on his own. But looks like he has to start back from her. Thanks to her, he has no choice but to face it. Maki makes a rare visit home. It gets worse when dad comes home. Argument. Something about Maki dropping out of college to go into acting that didn’t turn out too well too. Mom had to stop them since today is her birthday. Maki also receives a letter from a famous director in Tokyo for an audition. If she is successful, she’ll get bigger movie roles. However she is not interested (the application was just to pacify Moe) and this upsets Kousuke as she is wasting this chance. Yoshino and Sanae discuss in turning the closed school into some lodging for the festival. Ririko is trying to upload her dragon song online for others to know but has doubts so she seeks Maki’s advice since she has experience as an actress. The other girls soon learn from Kousuke about Maki’s opportunity. They want her to take it. Yoshino drills it into her head she will regret it if she doesn’t. Yoshino might be doing her best as the queen but she doesn’t know what next year will bring. For Maki to know what she wants since young is amazing. So don’t waste it. Maki changes her mind and manages to catch the last train to Tokyo.

Episode 20
The audition results are in. Maki is happy when her name is called. Too bad those called can leave. Although she failed, she feels better about it somehow. Really? Why are you crying? I guess this means Maki is free to help Yoshino and co. Learning the school never had a proper closing ceremony, they plan to do one and contact those graduated and moved away to attend. Since it is snowing, lots of people are feeling depressed. Sandal can’t paint outside, no one rides Takamizawa’s bus and nobody patrons Angelica’s café. Yoshino has this idea of allowing Sandal to use a room of the school as his studio in which he totally loves it. They send in the closing ceremony proposal to Maki’s dead. He agrees to get approval from the education board. Also, there is going to be a play about a blood soaked Santa? It’s one of the school’s famous urban legends. Maki becomes the director of the play and they get a few of the locals as actors. The alumni of this school turn up for this closing ceremony. The taiko drum performance starts it off before this Santa comedy play. The wow factor that had the crowd giving them a standing ovation is the feature of the mural in the end. Yoshino then makes her closing speech. She surprises everyone that she has this proposal to use this school as a base to spread Manoyama’s culture. Instead of demolishing the place, they can revive the halls and open it to the public. And so the closing ceremony becomes an opening ceremony. Everyone applauses to the great idea. Maki is now inspired to do a play for that dragon song. They can incorporate it into the Mizuchi Festival. The drum is taken away for repairs. Funny, because nobody asked for it to be repaired. It seems a mysterious good Samaritan under the alias of Santa ordered for it and paid it in advance. Christmas comes early for Manoyama? But Maki has an idea who that Santa is. Thanks papa.

Episode 21
Shiori is surprised that there is a hitchhiker flagging her car down to go to Tokyo. In this snow? Turns out she is Erika and running away from home! She is brought back to the dorm as they ask why she wants to run away so badly. I guess she’s had it with this crappy place. She makes it sound so easy that she can survive in Tokyo. Yoshino convinces her to stay here for the time being and do more research first. When they go tell Angelica about it, she didn’t even realize her daughter is gone until she rushes back to see the runaway note. Oddly, Erika still has to attend school while in the midst of running away. As Maki sends her, she tells a story that ends with a cliff-hanger. She’ll continue the rest after school. Too bad Erika might feel she has gotten the raw deal because it is Shiori who picked her up. Shiori is a bit down ever since Erika’s rant of this crappy place. Shiori couldn’t understand why as she has lived her entire life here as well as all her family and friends are here. Therefore Shiori thought she might be the odd one out and only one who thinks this way. She tries to find out Erika’s reason for leaving this place. Simple. She can’t see herself growing old in this empty old town. It scares the hell out of her.

Yoshino is going around talking to individual shop owners about the festival’s revival. In fact, it isn’t just a revival but a brand new one. When she stumbles upon a closed café, Noge who runs a bookstore from across tells her it has closed down a year ago. Yoshino doesn’t mean to be rude but asks the businesses of the shopping district doesn’t look good. Noge tells her it is just to support themselves. Many move out because their children grew up and got jobs in the city. As for why they don’ rent it out, all shop owners live above their shop lot and won’t like strangers walking in just like that. After all, many don’t want their lives changed. Even if there are new stores opened here, will Yoshino shop here? And how often? Though she says she would but looks like for a big chunk of it is that she’ll visit the supermarket. Shopping districts aren’t relevant anymore. Ririko and Maki overheard Takamizawa and Kindaichi talk about some legendary treasure supposedly grant you a single wish they buried long ago as kids. It turns out to be the golden dragon. Together with Noge, they buried it because they couldn’t decide on a wish. And until they do, all of them have to come together and piece together a secret code to open it. Yoshino feels a bit uncomfortable as a foreigner she came to Manoyama to change and revive things. From Noge’s talk, she wonders if she is forcing others who only want things to remain as they are. Just like Warabiya’s case. Are they being pushy? Shiori becomes most vocal as she argues she was born and raised here. She will never stop loving this town. They agree to find a way to make the shopping district relevant again. Yoshino receives a message from Takamizawa that they are going to dig up the treasure. Too bad they need to decode the code that looks like a long incantation list.

Episode 22
Looks like they can’t remember how to crack the code. It’s going to take a while. Erika bugs Maki to complete the story. The moral of it is that wishing for something isn’t enough but one needs to be resolved too. This only serves to make Erika angrier. Later Shiori talks to her and thought a little about what she said. It is true she might not know about reality and it is good that Erika has a dream. But she should wait till she is grown up a little to achieve that. Erika doesn’t want to be dead in this town but Shiori assures her everyone here is living. Erika experiences pain in her teeth and it looks like her molar is going to drop out (baby teeth should drop out at a younger age but some drop out later). As there are no dentists open now and no pain killers suitable for kids, is internet the only hope? I suppose doing the pressure points on her foot is aggravating the issue. Ririko called her grandma who then called the pharmacist at the shopping district to open the store just for this. After this is settled, Yoshino feels a bit bad. She never shopped there and usually got her medications from the supermarket. I guess this is the special service only local shopping districts can provide. A call comes in from Angelica that her son, Anji is missing. In this snow, everyone goes to look for him but to no avail. They think he might want to find the treasure’s location as his wish is for Erika to return. Not here either. Kindaichi gets a call from Sandal asking how to brew tea. He found Anji at the park and brought him to the police box and he is asking for tea.

After returning Anji to Angelica, Erika returns home and he hopes she will not go away again. The adults advise her she can still make her dreams of opening a clothing shop here and can talk to one of those shuttered store owners to take over. Erika goes ‘berserk’ complaining nobody is going to wear nice and cute outfits here. I mean, are you going to wear them while tending the fields? Only the monkeys and cows are going to compliment you! If that’s the case, Anji promises to open one here for her. This has the adults think they need to get their act together and to make kids feel they want to live here. After Erika eats a cookie, her molar falls out. Erika resumes her waitress job. Still grumpy as ever. Shiori hopes they can go to Tokyo together. No thanks. She’ll go herself. Shiori has this idea to hang lanterns outside the shops at the shopping district so it will seem inviting even though they are closed. With Doku installing LEDs in them, there’s no fire risk. Takamizawa and co finally crack the code. They dig up the treasure… Just a toy dragon! Oh well… They return to see the beautiful lanterns illuminating the shopping district. Another lesson learnt: You can’t wait for someone else to grant your wishes. You have to do it yourself.

Episode 23
Yoshino sees the CEO of a famous pastry franchise, Belem. As he is a Manoyama native and attended that closing ceremony, he wants to help the town’s revival and open another branch there. While this is good news, they think it would be a problem convincing Oribe since you know, another rival confectionary. Surprisingly but not she agrees since it is for the greater good of the shopping district. The only thing they need now is one of the shop owners to rent it out. However it is no good as many live on the second floor are not willing to do so. There is only 1 person who doesn’t live above the shop and elsewhere: Akiyama. When Yoshino and co visit him, he declines them. Plus, Oribe visited earlier and he too declined her. The girls didn’t know they would hit this roadblock. Erika learns Belem is opening here and really wants to work at that place. She loves their pastries. Well, at least we know that will be her reason to stay. She gets aggressive suggesting those not operating their shop should just hand over! Oribe calls an emergency meeting with everyone to discuss the fate of the shopping district. As Noge is opening a café at the abandoned school, once that place is popular, she thinks of disbanding the board of merchants. Their way of doing business is outdated and they don’t want to force others who don’t want to stay open. Everyone then turns to Akiyama and pressures him to rent it out. Oribe stops everyone from pestering as Kadota makes Yoshino say something. It seems she too agrees of not forcing everyone. Sure she wants to revitalize Manoyama but not in a way where some loses. This is not revitalization but just development. They should come together and think what each of them can do for the shopping district.

It is then Akiyama says he doesn’t want to go through that again. Many years ago when he rented his shop to an outsider selling accessories, he was happy and helped out anyway he can. But 6 months down the road, he disappeared. Akiyama was the bank’s guarantor so you can imagine what he went through. He told nobody except Oribe because if he did, the board of merchants’ contempt for outsiders would grow stronger. All he wants now is to be left alone. One of the old guys then decides to rent out his shop because compared to Akiyama’s story to his own pathetic reason of not liking sweet smell is nothing. Yoshino thanks him as Akiyama asks her why is she doing so hard for Manoyama when she is an outsider. That’s because Manoyama took her in. Kadota finally says sorry to Oribe for that long outstanding grudge. She moves on and keeping up with this feel good momentum is that the board of merchants decides to officially join the Mizuchi Festival. Yoshino gets Noge’s permission to borrow his toy dragon for it. To get a real one costs a lot and this toy dragon is still a dragon. With everything looking so bright, there can’t be anything bad, right? Well… Here comes Kadota with bad news. Those guys in suits seen around Manoyama from time to time, looks like there are rumours that Manoyama will be absorbed into Tomikura.

Episode 24
Kadota reveals he was invited secretly on the absorption council. It is a dilemma for everyone because it will bring life to the place but weird things will happen like renaming of things. Although they will get better government services, Manoyama will also become a minority and their voices will be hard to hear. But for now the importance is to preserve Manoyama’s culture and hence the revival of Mizuchi Festival. Amamiya comes down to warn them that the TV host will be coming to propose changes to the dragon play. It seems he wants to replace the lead actors with idols and this means Ririko will not sing as intended. This also puts them in a dilemma because the exposure of this show will allow many others to know more about Manoyama. When the TV host is here, Kadota loudly protests against it. He will not accept his proposal because they are trying to revive a tradition and if they’re going to do it, they’ll do it their way. And that’s that. The Manoyama citizens put up their own videos to the countdown of the festival. Things are looking up with more and more people supporting and funding it. But Yoshino’s pals bring up the topic of her leaving at the end since they overheard her agency called her recently to discuss the end of her contract. Yoshino might consider returning to Tokyo and get normal jobs. After all, you get used to it and you can find inspiration anywhere. But she thanks them for helping her through the year and giving her lots of inspiration. As they are cleaning the shrine, clearing the moss on the stone reveals names of those who created the Sakura Pond. Among them are Sandal’s great grandparents. Despite the hectic schedule, everyone manages to surprise Yoshino with a birthday cake. The festival proceeds well and the old guys get to carry the shrine with ease thanks to Doku’s exoskeleton. When Kadota learns about the names on the rock, he gets an idea to make sister cities out of Manoyama and Sandal’s hometown and use it as leverage against the absorption. Well, what do you know? Sandal follows Mayor Naumann on social media and lucky him. Currently he is on a vacation in Japan and enjoying every moment of it. Kadota is going to get him here and drives his car all the way to Kanazawa! Oribe fears he might destroy the festival again but Yoshino puts her faith in him that he will return before the dragon play.

Episode 25
Kadota is at the place but he needs to put on something recognizable. Chupakabura mask? He is scaring others in search of Naumann. Naturally he gets arrested. Thankfully Naumann is looking for directions at the police box. As the festival runs its course, Yoshino is surprised her family is here to visit. When Kadota is taking too long to return, they get a call from him that his car run out of fuel. Shiori goes to get him and this is one of those occasions the on-demand bus is useful. They manage to get them in time but since most of the roads are blocked, they have to make the rest of the way via foot. During that time, Naumann gets lost but thankfully he wanders into the parade carrying the shrine and even takes part in it! The dragon play proceeds smoothly with Ririko singing a beautiful rendition of the song. In the aftermath, the staffs celebrate. Kadota and Naumann are like good buddies now. The girls talk about their future. Like Ririko she plans to go see the world after this but promises to come back. Yoshino has also decided as she expresses her love for Manoyama as her second hometown. Early next morning, Yoshino sees Kadota. A year has gone by in a flash as he quips it is better she leaves now or stay too long and she won’t be an outsider anymore. But what is he going to do for the next queen? Don’t worry. He too has decided. Yoshino’s final speech as the queen is recorded as she conveys the beautiful town of Manoyama and how it changed her. Then, Kadota makes his speech how Manoyama forgot its cultural roots and needed a queen to remind them. As it is every individual’s responsibility to pass on Manoyama’s culture and change-cum-adapt to the times, they do not need a queen nor the Kingdom of Chupakabura now. He hereby relieves the queen of her duties and disbands the kingdom. Later, Yoshino and her pals plant a tree symbolizing them. Shiori has a dream to keep planting sakura trees to turn Manoyama blooming with them. Everyone sees Yoshino off at the train station. Probably the entire town lined up along its path to wish her goodbye. The most touching one is Kadota who reduced Yoshino to tears as he tells her she will always be welcomed here. The Kingdom of Chupakabura now has been renamed as Sakura Pond. Although Yoshino has left Manoyama, she didn’t return to Tokyo or her hometown. She is now starting to help another town possibly located in the tropics.

Home Is Where The Heart Is
Despite the overall feel good and heart-warming overall, I have mixed feelings wondering if Yoshino should have stayed at Manoyama or not. Now that she has left to help revive other towns, it is like as though her mission is completed and hence there is no more reason for her to stay. Thankfully without her now, the people of Manoyama can go on living better lives. Had Yoshino stayed on, she would have become part of them and things would go on happily like they used to. But there is this sort of danger when one gets so used to it. Complacency sets in and history might repeat itself again. Who knows? It’s all good feelings now because it worked out but in the future, nobody could tell. So perhaps leaving Manoyama was the best option since she came to do what she needs to do and that’s that.

Surprisingly but not, the story is not boring as I was predicting it to be. It might not be the best story or series for the season or the year but this series is definitely entertaining and worth watching if you have too much fantasy adventures, violent blood spilling action, shameless fanservice comedies and the ubiquitous high school settings. Maybe it is an original anime and not based on any manga or game. Though the plot of reviving a dying town might not sound appeasing, the more interesting aspects are how the various characters of the town go about and do their best in a bid to make Manoyama a better place to live and visit. Yes, it isn’t just about bringing in outside people to stay temporarily or longer but also a plan to improve and enrich the lives of the locals.

So I’m glad that it is mostly a win-win situation for everybody. Manoyama might not have become as popular and attractive as Tokyo but it retains its charm of a traditional and easy going countryside town. I mean, let’s be realistic. You can’t have everything and be the best town ever. Manoyama is Manoyama and it doesn’t need to be another hectic and bustling Tokyo or Tokyo v2. Even if all the old people of Manoyama has kicked the bucket and do not live long enough to see how well Manoyama has grown, but the legacy and effort they put in would surely be remembered for a long time to come. Of course, proper recording and the young ones continue to uphold the traditions play an important role too.

Speaking of realism, I know I am being a little sceptical here but the way I say Yoshino and everyone going about doing their job promoting ideas feel like they are too easy. It’s like child’s play. Maybe there are lots of preparations going on behind the scenes that are not shown here and since I don’t come from such a sleepy town, I do not understand or feel such sentiments. Maybe in this small town, things get moving a bit faster because of the closer community that is fostered. The gap between rank and file isn’t large and everyone is like family here. Therefore seeing Yoshino and her cabinet ministers easily getting approval and getting things done with ease sure makes it look like it is just so easy in managing a small town. Of course there are some problems and challenges faced but in the end it always turns out for the better. I mean, doesn’t it sound like a fairytale. I know this is just anime and we all love a good ending but like I said, blame my scepticism and the harsh reality that made me think so.

Also, now that Yoshino has decided to go on a revival spree (assuming she does this for the rest of her lives), assuming that all the dying towns in Japan are revived again, Yoshino feels like some sort of angel, doesn’t she? A town gets touched by her ideas and efforts and gets the revitalization they pretty much needed. Theoretically that would sound awesome as this means no dead or dying towns in Japan ever. But just the realistic problem of the people visiting and making those towns lively again. Assuming the population of Japan is somewhat ‘fixed’ and if they are interested to check out certain towns, this means deserting another. Sure, we can assume this rotation thingy like visiting this town today and another town tomorrow. If people are so free to visit towns, does this means mega cities like Tokyo would soon be dying? Because you know, you just cannot create people out of thin air. They need to come from somewhere. So revitalizing a town in the sense of bringing more people could mean turning others into dead town. So by the time Yoshino finishes her entire revitalization across Japan, Manoyama might be dead again. This is of course I am assuming in extreme cases. Of course revitalizing doesn’t mean bringing in the crowd. It is also about culture preservation and documentation which I believe is what Yoshino is going to do.

Although the characters are lovable and they will grow on you that in the end you would love to support all of the Manoyama citizens in the end, I feel that they aren’t too deep. After all, the main priority is to revive Manoyama and if you get too many character development and drama in between, it might be very distracting. So I believe there is a right mix of how the characters are portrayed, played out as well as how they grow along with this town. Like the ex-city girls Yoshino and Sanae, they were mainly finding a place to belong. Even Maki could be said to be one because after failed attempts in the showbiz industry, this is where she ends up but it is all a blessing in disguise if I should say so.

So for Yoshino who became the queen of Manoyama, like anybody who has spent their time and devotion to something, they will naturally grow attach to it. I won’t say that Yoshino does a perfect job as the queen but she does try her best. It is that the reason why the people of Manoyama loves and respects her. She earned it. Thankfully I want to say that most of the stuffs she do turn out positive because if she fails, I am guessing her head would roll. But that’s another story. Yoshino puts dedication in her job better than most representatives of their districts because after all, what has she got to lose? She is in this for the long run but that will soon look like something short turn once you start having fun and loving it. As an outsider, probably it is one reason why many of her suggestion works and hence a perfect example of what thinking outside the box is. After all, Manoyama gave her a chance when so many in Tokyo did not so why not repay that opportunity? Now she has gotten the experience and has found her true calling in reviving other similar towns. Yoshino the Reviver. Hmm… How does that sound?

As for the rest of her cabinet ministers, there isn’t much I could say about them but they provide the support that Yoshino needs. It is a good thing Maki is around because she is like the handywoman of the group as her little experience here and there allows her to be knowledgeable and handy about almost everything. Sometimes I feel it is like a little running joke because it is like she knows everything but yet didn’t make it big. Then there is Ririko who looks like she is stuck with that deadpan emotionless face and an occult freak but many times she helps out her team when they are stuck with the folklores and researches she has done. Shiori is the liveliest of the group and a local girl who loves her town so much. Last and not least, Sanae might look out of place in the sense that in this backwater town, do you need an IT specialist? I mean, if you look at her specific job of handling the IT side, it might look like she is the most redundant. Heck, having Doku as the ‘science’ guy is pretty much sufficient for this town. And of course as we have seen Manoyama embracing some sort of technology so all is not lost.

If I have to point out the most interesting character of them all in the series, it has got to be Sandal. This guy is cool, enigmatic, positive and very calm in his very own way. Sometimes I feel like he is the angel that watches over Manoyama! No kidding. Because do you not feel that sometimes he is the saviour in certain times likes when Anji got lost and who was the one who found him? This wandering artist also has his own funny charm and wit and you can hear it mostly at the end of the next episode preview where he makes a short quip of things. At least it makes you break into a little smile. So why is this guy bumming around in a sleepy town like Manoyama? I believe it has got to be more than just his ancestral roots since he did come from a western country town. Only Sandal himself knows the answer to that.

However if I had to pick a favourite character, it had to be Erika. Yes, this grumpy but realistically honest girl is one of the fun characters to watch. Her comments really sting you but only because it is the truth. It is with mixed feelings that I find it sad she hates so much this town she spends all her life in (and doesn’t hesitate to badmouth it) and wants to get out but because of this, I find her really funny and lovable. I suppose Erika is at an age where she thinks she knows everything and can handle everything by herself. Hey, at least I’ll give her points for being confident even though her simple plan wouldn’t be so easy if she ever goes through with it. Sadly Erika doesn’t get as much appearance and even though there were a couple of episodes towards the end that puts her in the short limelight, I guess it is better than nothing. So I am guessing one of the biggest motivation for her staying is Kousuke. There are hints she likes that guy and since this guy is dead set on staying in Manoyama to become a taiko drummer, there’s her motivation to stay back as well.

For the other residents of Manoyama, I guess they’re pretty okay. Like Doku and his crazy inventions that are mostly more of aesthetic than practical and Takamizawa who doesn’t get bored being the only bus driver around town. At least he gets to wear his suits. I believe Kindaichi isn’t the only policeman in this town but I only see him around most of the time. Not forgetting Kadota and Oribe who are at odds for so long that seeing them on good terms is just a bit awkward. Who’d knew that the crazy backstory of them was the cause of this long standing tension (and the death of a certain festival). So I guess Kadota must have been regretting it all this time and turned into a grumpy old geezer trying to make amends by reviving Manoyama with his crazy antics, something that is always opposed by Oribe. I also want to mention about a staff in Kadota’s office, Shigaraki. This guy literally has no dialogue (until that one time he stood up and spoke which surprised us – and the last time we will hear of him speaking) and he has this big freaking frown on his face that says I-wish-I-was-not-here-doing-this-job. Yeah, how can a person on the tourism board be this unhappy looking? The kind of face that would scare kids and be good enough for children’s horror stories. He doesn’t even move much from his seat and at one point I was starting to think if he was just part of the office’s furniture.

The art and animation are pretty decent. Nothing much to shout about but it is still pretty much okay. Young people look pretty but the old folks really look, uhm, not so pretty. Just old. Sorry. I mean, it really shows age has really caught up to them. If the art style also feels so familiar it is because P.A. Works produced this and they maintained their trademark character designs as seen in many of their previous works such as Shirobako, Glasslip, Tari Tari, Hanasaku Iroha, Charlotte and True Tears. This is a reason why many of the characters look so familiar like as though they are that character from a different anime in an alternate world. For example, Yoshino has this close resemblance to Shirobako’s Aoi, Erika looks as close like True Tears’ Noe and Shiori having this close similarity to Glasslip’s Touko. Also to note, because of this at first I thought Sakura Quest and Shirobako are almost similar because it follows the story of 5 girls trying their best to complete something in their industry. Well, generally speaking.

Voice acting… MAMIKO NOTO MAKING HER CAMEO AS SAYURI!!! Nothing else needs to be said. Just kidding. The cast list is very long as there are many minor and background characters popping up in almost every episode. Too bad I only recognized Hiro Shimono as Yamada, Mikako Komatsu as Sanae and Youko Hikasa as the young high school girl version of Oribe. I thought Tomokazu Sugita was the voice of Minou but it turns out to be Daiki Hamano (Yatoji in Re: Creators). But the most surprising seiyuu among them all is Sandal. He is not voiced by a Japanese native but a foreigner! Surprise, surprise. This character again. Though he is not the first character voiced by a foreigner that I have heard but it has been a long time since I heard one. No wonder he sounds so different that it is refreshing. Sandal is voiced by an Indian, Vinay Murthy who is of course proficient in the Japanese language and this is so far his only anime role. Oh right, there is another foreigner here but only as cameo in the final episode, Eric Kelso as Naumann. I also believe actual foreigners were also hired as those Spanish people.

The rest of the other casts are Ayaka Nanase as Yoshino (Osamu in Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi), Reina Ueda as Shiori (Jasminka in Little Witch Academy), Chika Anzai as Maki (Reina in Hibike! Euphonium), Chiemi Tanaka as Ririko (Tsuji in Sansha Sanyou), Atsushi Ono as Kadota (Blitz in Re: Creators), Maki Izawa as Oribe (Hatobane in Kujira No Kora Wa Sajou Ni Utau), Kazuhiro Yamaji as Doku (Eugen in Granblue Fantasy The Animation), Katsuyuki Konishi as Takamizawa (Laxus in Fairy Tail), Nanako Mori as Angelica (Eiko Yamano in Knights Of Sidonia), Tomoyo Kurosawa as Erika (Kumiko in Hibike! Euphonium), Masashi Nogawa as Kindaichi (Rakshas in Berserk), Youji Ueda as Noge (Usui in Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei) and Yuusuke Kobayashi as Kousuke (Subaru in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu).

All the opening and ending themes including the few insert songs are sung by [K]now_Name (it looks like not only the naming of groups these days are getting ridiculous or creative as they put it but the way they use symbols and all too). The first opening theme, Morning Glory has this hip and playful feel to it but the second opener, Lupinus doesn’t appeal much to me since it is more of pop rock. The first ending theme, Freesia is also quite good as well as the second ending theme, Baby’s Breath with the former being hip and the latter having this calming and sunshiny beat.

Overall, this series is still a great watch despite not one of those hyped and mainstream titles. It is one of those hidden gems of the season or year. Those who watch it would definitely find it satisfying in the sense that you get to learn some life lessons and the broader and more meaningful concept of family or community. And those who are working would resonate well that after a hard day of work, it is always well worth to see the fruits of labour grow. Like the old saying, sometimes you might not end up where you want to be but you will always end up where you are were meant to be. And for Yoshino, she has found her place of calling. A place she could really call her home. Welcome home, Yoshino. Wherever she may happily be.

Centaur No Nayami

January 20, 2018

Again? Another comedy series that involves monster girls? After Monster Musume No Iru Nichijou and then Demi-chan Wa Kataritai, now we have Centaur No Nayami. At first I wanted to skip this one thinking that monster girls aren’t my cup of tea. Especially now we have a Centaur as the main focus, she looks a bit scary even if the general art feels cute and all. Then I decided to give this a try because I too am curious what Centaurs worry about while growing up in a normal high school life. Wait. What?! I’m interested to know about a Centaur’s life. Thanks to that internet thingy…

Episode 1A
Himeno “Hime” Kimihara kisses Nozomi Gokuraku. Everyone is shocked. Despite this is just a play, should she really have done it in this practice? Apparently her script says the kiss is a must. Well, somebody’s handwriting is there. The one who passed her the script was Makoto Komori. Previously he was supposed to play the prince but when it is discovered he rigged the vote, he was replaced by Nozomi. There goes his kiss for Hime. But the question is, would Hime have really kissed him? The rest notes Hime has always being playing princess roles is it because of her name? The preparation and practice goes well. The actual play also goes well. But no real kiss. Except the props they were standing on start to collapse due to Hime’s weight. Luckily Hime uses her agility as a Centaur to save herself and Nozomi. Once landed safely, Nozomi pecks her on the cheek. Everyone loves the play and they get great praises.

Episode 1B
There is some origin of the evolution of ‘humans’. Sounds like sophisticated BS. But anyway, these dominant humans evolved into 4 groups: Fauns (or those with long ears or tail), Angelfolk (dragons include), Centaurs (Weretigers were included but became extinct) and Merfolk. There is also a tragic past how these people discriminated against each other as well as the possibility of amphibians evolving. Kyouko Naraku has no stamina in running. Though, she can eat all she wants without getting fat but she is really ‘flat and straight’. They wonder how fast Hime can run so she demonstrates. As fast as a horse. Too bad she forgot how to stop and almost crashed into a car! An accident could have happened! Despite her horsepower, she is the slowest of the Centaurs and a klutz in all other areas. When the midterm exam results are out, Nozomi is devastated. She scored 299 overall and those scoring below 300 have to take supplementary lessons and make-up tests.

Episode 2A
Nozomi is unsure if the model on this magazine is Hime. Mitsuyo Akechi confirms it is so. She then tries to blackmail Nozomi to become a model for her as she hints working part time is against school rules and will get her expelled. No choice, she goes to her home only to discover she has been set up to wear her cosplay outfits. She doesn’t want to do this anymore till another blackmail how expelled students will find it hard to get letter of recommendation. Later Nozomi asks Hime if she is hiding something. No, not the extra doughnut you ate. Apparently Hime’s mom’s friend is an editor-in-chief of a magazine and since there were no Centaur models around, she begged her for this role. But isn’t it against school rules? Not if you don’t get paid! Of course Hime doesn’t plan in going into modelling since she finds the editor-in-chief’s eyes scary. She would prefer to be a veterinarian, fishmonger or medical research. Later Akechi’s lesbian partner, Michi Inukai whispers a juicy detail to Nozomi who then confronts Akechi about working part time in a maid café. Now she threatens her of expulsion but Akechi is confident she won’t because she is her friend. In that case, is Hime her friend? She runs to hug her. Yes she is.

Episode 2B
It’s such a cold day so Akechi teases Manami “Tama” Mitama by wrapping herself around her warm angel wings. This encourages Kyouko and Nozomi to lie themselves on Hime’s back. Looks funny and embarrassing as they keep walking like that. This prompts them to remember a time where they visited the school for Merfolks and the place is obviously submerged in some water. The Merfolks are quite beautiful people but of course both sides were curious with each other. Like how the guys were trying to hit on Kyouko. Despite being almost naked all the time, their biological construct of course differs from others and can stay warm in the cold water. Meanwhile Takamichi Koma is always seen carrying the Mermolk, Ruru Shizuura. They get teased by their friends but they soon realize why he keeps doing this is because Shizuura is his childhood friend, beautiful and has boobs. You girls just lost. Later Shizuura wants him to buy a Centaur-like robot that will help her walk around instead of him always having to carry her but it’s too expensive.

Episode 3A
Hime’s young cousin, Shino comes over to visit. As they take a walk, they bump into Tama and her triplets little sisters, Chiho, Chinami and Chigusa. The triplets are the kind who love to kiss to show their love so when they try to kiss Hime, Shino puts a stop to it. Nobody kisses her Hime but her! And so at the park, Shino explains all she knows about what is love. But when they ask if their big sisters kiss each other, they say girls don’t kiss each other when they grow up. Till Akechi and Inukai pop up and show them how it’s done! And then pecks Tama on the cheek! Another form of love?! Tama beats her up. Poor leek got damaged… And when Akechi wants to kiss Hime, Shino blocks her. Now the triplets want to kiss Shino. She doesn’t want it and runs away. And so begins the world’s slowest chase… Luckily they end up being friends and play with each other. Nothing naughty there… Though, they get all their clothes wet and their sisters have to come pick up after them. Back home, Shino is still confused and asks Hime about the meaning of girls kissing. Maybe she’ll understand when she grows up. Hime thinks that is when she’ll have boobs as big as her.

Episode 3B
The triplets aren’t happy when they need to watch over the house since Tama has some work and needs to go out. Tama has to explain about society. Not really in detail but their dad has to work to earn money and can’t stay home all day to play around. So that’s what weekends are for? In exchange, the triplets get to call some friends over and play. While doing so, their youngest sibling, Sue suddenly falls ill. They believe she is always so when she runs around a lot. So instead of playing outside, why not play inside! Meanwhile Tama is in her student council meeting and she is rushing for time. She wastes no time in admitting she needs to be home by a certain time to cook for her family. This stem from her stubborn late grandpa who always put his dojo first. When he was on his deathbed, he called out to wife and wanted to go home. That was when she decided to put family first. When Tama goes home, she gets mad at the triplets for letting one of their friends look after Sue while they go play. Well, they kept their promise by staying at home. At the end of the day, the triplets realize something eerie because there seems to be an extra friend whom they didn’t invite nor showed up late. Dad thinks it is a zashiki warashi and it’s a good spirit.

Episode 4A
A guy gives Hime a love letter. But in the train? But she gets scared and runs away when her stop is here. So her friends later talk to her why she acted so. Turns out a trauma she had when she went on a school’s field trip. You know those cows? Those udders? A kid teased her she had them. To put it bluntly, she is worried about her vagina. Well, can’t blame her because, can Centaurs see their own crotch? With this complex, she can’t date anyone. Nozomi assures they will show theirs and they can check hers out. Twisted. But if it is what gives her peace of mind… Nozomi goes first. Looks… Unused… Nozomi then forces Kyouko to show hers. Erm… Hairy? Let our imagination go wild! Finally they check Hime’s. Uhm, beautiful? With her fears allayed, the next time the guy gives her the letter, she is able to take it with confidence. However when she reads it, she gets disappointed. The next time when he waits for her answer, she rejects him. Her friends find out why. The letter wrote and described her big and beautiful boobs.

Episode 4B
Nozomi is being lazy. She doesn’t want to study so Kyouko and Hime are forced to make her do so. Even so, Nozomi lacks the motivation. So they play psychological with her that if she stays back a grade, they couldn’t do things together anymore. Well, that did the trick. While studying, Nozomi thought she saw a UFO. This leads them to discuss about aliens and more practically, those reptilians who live in Antarctica who possess technology that the rest of the world doesn’t have. The next day as they head to school, they notice the place is tight on security. Even more so at their school. In class they notice an extra table. Could it be an important transfer student? Yes. It is Sassassul “Sassu” Quetzalcoatl from Antarctica. Hime is tasked to show her around. She’s scared. Yeah, those snake eyes are scary…

Episode 5A
Hime must be wondering if snakes like to eat horses. But she faints upon seeing Sassu’s fangs! Later as she wakes up at the infirmary, her friends learn her fear of such stems from an old movie about a reptilian eating a Centaur, spitting out her skin and masquerading in it! Yeah, pretty traumatic. But is that a Psycho reference? Sassu comes by to apologize and explains she was just trying to smile. Yeah, it was sure a scary smile. So when they tell her about that movie, they go and watch it. Is Hime’s trauma going to be reactivated again? Well, it was scary enough for both girls to hug each other. At the end of the day, Sassu dismisses some of the myths like how their jaws are too weak to bite like that and they cannot kill via constricting like snakes. Asked if she is going to sue to movie producers, Sassu says the reason she is here is to quell such myths. She hopes they can be friends. She smiles and once again Hime passes out. Maybe she really needs to work on this.

Episode 5B
The classmates are spamming Sassu with questions. She explains them all to quell all the myths surrounding her people like they are more warm blooded like birds rather than reptiles and the unfounded claims that they rule the world from behind the shadows. When they try to ask her love life, it all turns back to something pedantic again because only the queen can lay eggs and they themselves are not sure about emotions and if it were to be the same as the other humans. Back home, Sassu sees the news that an American ship was sunk near Antarctica and this causes some tension between both nations. She feels guilty about it and tries to hide her face in public? Well, she looks like attracting more attention looking like a burglar. Hime and co talk to her about it and assure everything would be fine. It’s not her fault to begin with. Also notice her strange clothes which she based on monks, they take her to shop and buy some clothes. Sassu hangs out with them. She hopes to understand more about others. Not because of work but because as duty.

Episode 6A
It must be one of those days Hime got up from the wrong side of the bed. Despite mom keeps pestering, she still wants to tug in and there is this ‘fight’ with dad over the use of the toilet, causing her to run late for school. Oh well… In school, she and her friends talk about their hairstyles because for some races, it is really troublesome to keep them looking good. This also extends to some races with hair on their tail. Hime’s friends then notice her red hair which is supposed to be rare for Centaurs. She claims she got it from her mother’s side. Once a teacher detained her thinking she dyed it but he got arrested for discrimination! Yikes! Hime relates the supposed story that her ancestry was of a royal family. A princess got kidnapped from Japan and taken to Europe but her siblings chased all the way there to bring her back. There are many other exaggerated legends like how an arrow sunk a ship but even if it sounds far-fetched, there are some records of it.

Episode 6B
Kyouko is like the secretary to her father and is very strict in making him meet his deadline for a publisher. It is a good thing because otherwise he wouldn’t have gotten any work done. Yeah, looks like she is his life manager as well, doing all the cooking and such. Meanwhile Tama arrives at Kyouko’s neighbour to help solve a cursed box she is having. This is a way for her to make ends meet for her family. When she returns, her siblings are sleeping and father is cooking. What she proceeds to ask dad is quite thought provoking. As he alternates between a contractor and painter, she asks if he is really a painter. He thinks she is implying if it puts food on the table. But what she meant was when he is off work, the kids are asleep. He should be using this time to paint. Inspiration, he says? She then tells him if he is a painter, he should continue doing so if he hates it and when even his daughter hates him for it. Can he be both? But does he have the talent to manage both? If he isn’t dedicated on being a painter, this means he is working as a half contractor too. It also means it makes him a lousy father and is trying to earn compensation on Sue due to her medical conditions. Wow. So deep… At least Hime is having it easy sleeping and being pampered by mom.

Episode 7A
The triplets meet Sassu for the first time. They are fascinated and can’t help toy with the ‘dinosaur’. Snake being toyed by kittens? All of them head to the pool. If you are curious how a Centaur puts on its pants, be fascinated on how they do so here. Oddly Sassu is scared of water as falling in one back in Antarctica means certain death. Her kind also lack sweat glands so they don’t bath. Then the triplets naughtily bring her into the shallowest part of the pool. Well, she’s still alive. The triplets want to follow Shino to another section of the pool but Tama stops them since that area is only for Centaurs. They pout as they learn swimming under Tama as Shino learns under Hime’s guidance. When it is done, the triplets sulk when Shino wants to play with them. But all return to their playful self when she starts splashing water on them. On the way home, the young ones get sleepy but luckily there is enough ‘manpower’ for each one of them to carry each of them. But when Hime starts to feel sleepy… Nobody is going to carry that heavy half horse back home.

Episode 7B
Hime and her friends are part of the occult club. The club’s president, Buchou wants them to stay here overnight and tell ghost stories. He is inviting Towako Yachiyoda too. The girls think this is his subtle way to ask her out but he says she won’t come if it is just the 2 of them so she won’t feel so lonely if the rest come. Not only that, they can gather scary stories, submit it as their activity and hence the club will receive increase in funding and budget. Killing 3 birds with a stone! If this is the real reason, it just sucks, right? So I guess everyone is in since they’re interested to hear what kind of ghost stories they can tell. Towako also tags along but she isn’t really impressed. So we hear lame ghost stories from Kyouko and superstitious stories from Sassu. But the lamest has got to be Buchou’s because he is talking about some ghost of an extinct dinosaur animal and the punch line is to show his ‘scary’ face. In all cases, Hime freaks out and almost chokes Nozomi to death. In the end, Towako can’t put up any more with this crap and wants to go to the toilet but wants somebody to accompany her. Is she scared? She denies but nobody seems to believe her…

Episode 8A
Hime is part of the archery club. But her junior, Ayaka Wakamaki doesn’t seem to like her as she doesn’t look serious in her practice. Plus, a tournament is coming up so Ayaka tells her to put more effort in it although she won’t be putting her hopes too much on her. This hostility stems from a past tournament in which Ayaka was doing badly and Hime tried to cheer her up by doing a funny face. It only distracted her. But it worked on Shino… At the tournament, Kyouko knows for a way to motivate Ayaka. She whispers to Hime to make a bet with Ayaka. If Hime loses, she will have to date her. Oh dear. Now Ayaka is only more distracted. She is only thinking of what to wear during the date! Is she tsundere?! I think so. Ayaka gets serious and focuses. Her date is on the line. In the aftermath, Hime and Ayaka go on a date. I guess she really won. Hime’s friends are hiding and tailing them but because of Sassu, I guess they are easily spotted.

Episode 8B
Those Merfolk guys must be really lucky. The females actually swim around topless and it is nothing to them. They just put on something to cover when other races visit. So some Merfolk guys are still looking at soft porn of other races. Why? Because it is fun when you have your boobs covered! You lucky bastards! I think these guys love flat chests too because their favourite is the idol, Eri. It must be the way she acts embarrassed too. Eri for the first time is tasked to sing for a festival as celebration to a local god, Tamon. As she starts singing, a good sign is when man-dolphins (aren’t they just dolphins?) start swimming and dancing about. However they get scared and run away when the waves get violent. A large monster fish appears and proclaims he is Tamon. The elder recognizes it as an imposter and takes Eri to swim as far as away. He tells her the god they worship is only a rock as living gods can’t exist among them. They head back to shore to report to the coastal guard. Well, those snake people coastal guards examine it but I’m not sure what they do with it. Meanwhile Sassu talks to her friends about gods but they don’t really believe such exists. Nozomi thinks of asking Tama the ‘master’. At first she is thinking of brushing it off but has this devilish thought of how she can ‘defeat’ them (source of income seems to be the key) and tells them how they exist because of all the good luck charms they bring. Meanwhile Tama’s father thought Sue is playing alone. However he can’t seem to see this ‘god’ kid she is playing with. Anyway she beats him flat.

Episode 9A
Hime notices this frog guy, Jean Rosseau recently all over in advertisements online. He is a president of a conglomerate company as Sassu explains his past of how he was picked up by a French missionary after being found almost dead in the jungles. He was brought up and discovered has quite the intelligence. He went on to achieve greatness to where he is today. He will soon be giving a speech at the school. But first we see him in one of his daily dealings. Like meeting and making a deal with a president of another company. Then he dons his traditional tribal wear to visit his tribal folks. However they believe he has been corrupted by the mammals. Rosseau is sad that their warring attitude is what makes them like mammals and his advice to coexist with others fall on deaf ears. After giving his speech at the school, he accidentally burns his tongue on hot tea.

Episode 9B
OMG. What is this?! A remake of the Holocaust?! Nazi Centaurs beating up Angelfolk Jews?! Actually there are all species on both side of the divide. We focus on a young Angelfolk boy who has been sent to the concentration camp and being worked to death. He learns about discrimination as he watches other prisoners gang up and beat a Centaur dude for colluding with the Nazis. One day, Angelfolk boy thought he was going to die after he didn’t have the energy to continue working and is taken away by Centaur guy for a beating. However he gives him his food portion instead. He can tell kids like him are good guys and must live to make the world better. He knows he himself will not survive the war. If stays a prisoner, get executed. If freed, executed as a traitor. Soon the liberation army liberated the camp. Angelfolk boy finds Centaur dude hanged by dissatisfied fellow prisoners. They were going to hang him too thinking he is a traitor but a soldier protected him and even adopted him into his family. He is now an old guy and president of a company who just made a deal with Rosseau.

Episode 10A
What’s this?! Sassu on a date with Taito Nakafumi? Cue for Hime and friends to tail them. No matter what disguise Hime puts, she’ll always stand out. Also hot on the tail of this date are Sassu’s SPs but they’re being very stealthy about it. Oddly, they are at the art museum as Nakafumi’s view about art is enlightening. For instance, watching a famous movie 10 times won’t give you 10 times the satisfaction. That is why some art remains abstract and subjective so they don’t capture its actual essence. After all, it is up to everyone’s interpretation. Hime accidentally bumps into Tama there. Hey, is she on a date with a guy too? Too bad they have not enough resources to tail both dates so they continue with tailing Sassu. Then the biggest fear: Are they going to a love hotel?! Are you curious how a snake person makes out with another species? The SPs begin implementing their plan for ‘juvenile protection’. Thankfully or disappointingly, they walk pass the love hotel and into a used bookstore. Next day in school, Hime and co learn about Sassu’s ‘date’. She was trying to understand different forms of art. Not that she quite get it either. Meanwhile the guy Tama was dating is actually a girl.

Episode 10B
Now we see what happened on Tama’s side. She went out with Makoto Omaki and the triplets were pouting they had to stay home while she goes out on a ‘date’. On the way because there are punks trying to hit on girls, Omaki’s boyish looks make it the perfect cover to make them look like as though they are a couple as they hold hands. After Hime bumps into them, Omaki is interested to tail them but Tama reminds her they’re here to visit the art museum. Tama asks Omaki’s advice about her dad being a painter. His art is average and he doesn’t want to paint abstract art but remain painting normal stuffs. There are many students who draw better than him. He too isn’t bringing in much income because if he is to be an illustrator, he has to draw as clients request but he draws as he wishes. So he is doing it as hobby. Tama feels bad and cannot tell him to stop because he has been doing it even before she was born. Omaki tells her she is being soft on him. She might be shouldering responsibilities of an adult but technically she is still a kid. Wouldn’t it be weird for her to plan out her dad’s life? Having faith to support someone is important too. Tama feels better and when she gets home, she gives dad her support to continue his painting. Next day Tama thanks Omaki for her advice.

Episode 11A
Sue is so cute that others want to kidnap her! The triplets relay a few cases whereby a friend’s dog wanted to keep her and a random little girl suddenly wanted to become Sue’s older sister! We see Shino trying to explain to her kindergarten friends about the different flowers as well as shapes. I guess it must be confusing for a kid but well, don’t give up. Next day, her friend is shocked that the flowers are gone. Although the teacher explains it as weed, she is still sad. Till Shino explains the seeds are somewhere and will one day bloom as flowers again. Wow. Shino more adult than the adult? And now she knows what it is like being a grownup and that how hard it is for Hime to be a big sister. Remember kids, don’t neglect your studies!

Episode 11B
The triplets teach Sue how to move her tail. I think they’re teasing-cum-bullying her because of their longer tail, they can make other shapes. Tama assures them when the triplets were younger, they had very short tail too. This leads them to discuss holes in pants and skirts so they are able to move their tail freely without any wardrobe malfunction and discomfort. Tama shows a younger toddler self so the triplets cheekily ask why she didn’t stay this cute. Otherwise she wouldn’t be able to cook and take care of them. When Sue calls Tama the prettiest girl in the world, the triplets disagree. They think this will get to her head as they preach about there will always be someone better. So if you think you’re important, there’s always someone important. Not sure if they’re trolling when Tama says father is most important of this house and they go into deep thinking! And so begins the triplets’ goal to find other pretty woman. Their kindergarten teacher? Nope. Hime and friends? Not really. They even think Nozomi is a boy! That is insulting. At the end of the day, they won’t give up and believe the world is so big and there is bound to be someone prettier. Yeah, they won’t leave it at Tama being the prettiest. Otherwise one day she’ll grow up to be an ugly old hag. In that case, the triplets and sue will be the prettiest. Really? If they be good girls and do as they’re told. I don’t think they look too convinced about Tama lecturing them again.

Episode 12A
RPG version! Hime the archer, Nozomi the fighter, Kyouko the mage and Sassu the dancer? Oh, priestess. They fight through hordes of monsters and earn meagre coins. Then there is this slime monster that serves as tentacle rape. I think Kyouko purposely doesn’t want to help them and leaves it late till their armour is all eaten. They reach the final boss who is Tama the queen. Queen as in the dominatrix kind? They ‘defeat’ her after noting her fake boobs thanks to all the padding. She runs away in defeat as the place crumbles. Turns out it is a story written by Akechi. They ponder the point of it all and Akechi ‘agrees’ it is somewhat useless to have some of them wear bikini armour because they have no boobs…

Episode 12B
The girls are holding an arm wrestling tournament. Hime is the favourite as she is the strongest. Given her monstrous Centaur strength, she hears others whispering about that natural gorilla strength of hers and purposely loses. But nobody is buying it and warn her if she does so again, they’ll personally inspect if her boobs are real! Replaying her match, she instantly wins! Brute force! The tournament is down to the last 4: Hime, Tama, Nozomi and Inukai. Nozomi takes on Tama and after putting up a fight, Tama wins. A mother’s love beats the strength of a dojo. Hime vs Inukai. No contest. Hime easily wins! Again! Too bad Akechi’s love isn’t enough to stand up to brute force. Finals. Hime vs Tama. As it begins, Tama looks like she is struggling. A lot. Hime isn’t breaking into any sweat. And then the inevitable. Hime wins. Looks like brute force overwhelms a mother’s love. Hime is declared the winner but her answer of why they’re holding this tournament is never answered. Because final episode shenanigans?

The Centaur Of Attention
Can I say this series falls under the category of cute girls doing cute things? Even if you tell me the definition of cute, I’m going to say that despite the girls here are cute but they aren’t cute in my books. Oh. I just confused myself. What I’m saying is that they might not look scary but if I were to imagine myself to date any one of them, I wouldn’t. Discrimination!

Therefore there is really no plot or storyline throughout the series. When it first started, we are already thrown into this very odd world and as we learn a bit more as we go along. And of course, it had to end in a somewhat familiar fashion where there is no closure or anything that would hint of something really ominous. You know, like say, a darker species trying to wipe them all out! Too bad we don’t have any of that so basically every episode is the same slice of life but infused with some supernatural creatures. If you’re not into this, you’ll definitely find it boring as it does fit the characteristics of what constitutes to be a cute girls doing cute things genre. Which is still pretty odd for me to call it so.

However not all the episodes are pretty boring. Heck, let me just be honest. There was only 1 episode which was really interesting. It was that Holocaust one. It was really different than the boring high school daily life as we get to see a different aspect of life in the past although the story is hardly new and is probably a rip-off from some other war story. Heh. Even when they are different species, they fight among each other. This also prompted a provoking thought mentioned here that even if they look exactly the same, humans will pick on something else to fight over about like different clothes, etc. It is so damn true. I guess that is why humans will always be humans.

Before I go into the other aspects of this series, I want to point out something mind boggling about the setting of this series. All the creatures and species here are referred to as humans. Yeah, it gets weirder and weirder. I am not sure if they evolved from us actual humans or this is completely a different and alternate world where the term humans is generally referred to all the intelligent life forms on this planet. Oddly enough, they do sometimes make reference to their animal appearance like snakes or frogs so this shows that such animals exist in this world too, right? So it’s like a rose is still a rose no matter what other name you call it, except this is the visual version of it. Humans will still be humans no matter how different they look physically. Here is another odd thing. In addition to these humans, the animals are not just animals. What I mean was, did you notice that normal dogs in this world has 6 legs?! WTF???!!! Like as though this is the aftermath of some sort of nuclear fallout and hence everyone got mutated into something weird but history worded it in a nicer way called evolution. Keeps us all from freaking out, eh?

Sometimes this series feels like a bit of propaganda. With a few types of humans, it is made clearly how any sort of discrimination towards the other kind is forbidden and illegal and it could land you in prison. Hmm… Are they trying to imply something in the real world? No wonder I can see why everyone is living so peacefully and not insulting each other the different race they are from. I’m sure that all the characters you see here don’t give a damn about it either. You see interracial marriages and hence siblings coming out mixed as in the case of Tama and the triplets. Sure, discrimination is bad but sometimes they really make it sound like it is the end of the world if you ever cross that line. Because if you noticed Sassu has lots of SPs working in the background and almost everywhere just to keep watch on her. I am not sure if she is aware of it but it feels like as though if something bad happens to her, a world war will erupt. It feels like they’re taking this discrimination thing a bit too far although in some ways it is good to keep certain people on their toes. Never take peace for granted!

Speaking about Tama’s household, it brings a whole new question of how different species can mate and produce offspring. Because screw science and DNA, right? I guess this is why they coin the term humans for all of them here. Despite you looking so much like an alien, as long as you are man and woman, you are able to f*ck each other and form a whole new family. Yeah, I don’t know if I am supposed to be curious or utterly horrified to think how it looks like when one species f*cks another kind of species. Definitely weird.

On to the characters of the series, despite they have their charm points, overall I still find them boring. Hime doesn’t steal the limelight and I believe she doesn’t even get half of it although it feels she takes up most of it compared to the other characters. So instead of giving us a dozen of episodes showing what Hime worries about, we also see the other struggles of other characters. Which is sometimes a bit odd considering that this series is called. But it isn’t like Hime is having a hard time in life nor is she facing some sort of crossroads in her life that makes her stuck in a dilemma to choose. We see a bit of insights like how Centaurs wear pants but nothing so much as thought provoking. Heck, if Hime was a normal human instead of a Centaur, I’m sure her troubles are no different than a normal girl.

Tama is the other character given the most prominence because of her family household. She acts like the responsible adult given her circumstances but she is still a child legally and isn’t as perfect as you might think of her to be. She isn’t such a strict uptight person you first thought. Like I’ve said, her circumstances has her to be more responsible than carefree than her classmates. If I had to point out the best character of the series, it had to go to the triplets. They’re the funniest because of their kid-like honesty and hence the sarcasm in the innocence. They are cheeky in that sense and in a way it makes them cute. Hey, they’re just toddlers!

For the rest of the other characters, well, not so much leaving an impression in me. Like Nozomi who is tomboyish and Kyouko who seems to have that sly and ulterior motive. Sassu is the transfer student on the series as she tries to understand the ways of the human culture. Then there is the lesbian pair of Akechi and Inukai whom you’ll slowly forget they are ever one in the first place as well as Shino who has this big sister complex. For a short series, it does have a lot of other characters although they only make their appearance once. Like that Koma and Shizuura case. They appeared so short and that their part could have been done without. Like as though they are there just to fill the remaining duration of the episode. I thought they would play some sort of role later on but looks like they have been forgotten. Even that Eri Merfolk story also feels out of place because at the end it just made me go, “So what?”. What happened to Ayaka? Wasn’t she going to be some sort of lesbian junior to Hime? I guess we don’t need any more lesbian couples. Did Buchou get Towako in the end too? Remember Sue’s real imaginary friend? No? So do I. Hence many of these once-only characters feel like fire and forget.

Talking about the art and animation, it is leaning more towards the cute aspect and this is one of the elements that I find conflicting within myself. This is more of a personal taste than anything since this aspect is rather okay and not too bad. Seeing these supernatural creatures is definitely odd for me especially if the setting is a normal high school setting. Because like Hime as a Centaur, to me she looks pretty ‘intimidating’. I like my girls to look like bishoujo, cute and kawaii so someone like Hime just doesn’t quite cut it and not really pleasant to my eyes. Discrimination! At least she doesn’t look as scary as those in Monster Musume No Iru Nichijou. Still, seeing other characters with ears, tail and wings still somewhat puts me off. But the scariest of the lot has got to go to Sassu because she really looks scary with her snake head and eyes like as though she is some sort of alien ready to pounce on you if you let your guard down. Discrimination! Okay, okay. Call me a racist if you love to as long as I don’t have a girlfriend looking like this because it’ll give me more nightmares and fuel my fears instead of giving all my love, get what I mean? Haha! Oops.

Another surprise I discovered is that this series is animated by Haoliners Animation League. They produced mainly series that has Chinese setting and influence so it threw me off with this one since this series has nothing very Chinese-like. Of course the original manga it was adapted from was written by a Japanese. I don’t see many of their other works being that crappy and silly To Be Hero still as my favourite. But this series, it was definitely a surprise to know it was from them.

A bunch of large seiyuus lend their voices to this series. But I’m just going to state the main ones. The only one I recognized was Yukari Tamura making her small cameo as Eri as the rest are mostly newbies. They are Seria Fukagawa as Hime (Touko in Glasslip), Yuuki Kuwahara as Nozomi (Tooru in Kobayashi-san Chi No Maid Dragon), Haruka Shiraishi as Kyouko (Kirie in Himouto! Umaru-chan), Yuu Ayase as Sassu (Stylet in Frame Arms Girl), Yuna Kamakura as Tama (Ema in Yugioh! VRAINS), Emi Miyajima as Akechi (Mayu in High School Fleet), Honoka Kuroki as Inukai (Ruise in Seiren), Akane Kiryu as Shino and Atsumi Tanezaki tripling as the triplets (Mizore in Hibike! Euphonium).

The opening theme is Oshiete Darwin by Purely Monster. Yes, there is a cute all-girl idol group by this name. I’m not making this up and initially I thought that was the name of the group formed exclusively for the seiyuus of the main casts to sing. But the song is a typical lively anime pop piece that you’d expect from an all-girl idol group to sing. However the other surprise is the ending theme, Edelweiss by Asaka. Sometimes it feels out of place but yet it is curiously interesting. This is quite a dramatic piece that you would not have expected to hear in at least this kind of genre. Even more so, the credits animation shows only Tama like as though she is an angel going through hard times. Really weird. But interesting, though.

Overall, this is a very strange anime. Although mostly light-hearted moments, it has some thought provoking moments as well but the characters in the form of supernatural mythical creatures and calling themselves as humans are somewhat a put off for me. I guess a real and impartial person who isn’t a racist can only see past the physical and skin deep aspects and enjoy this series. And to answer your question why I decided to watch this anime because of the internet arousing my curiosity of Centaurs recently… Because I wanted to know how Centaurs masturbate given their body structure and all. HOLY SH*T!!! NOW YOU CANNOT UNHEAR THAT!!! Curse you internet! And curses, Hime didn’t really address that question of mine in any of the episodes. I really hoped she would at least give a hint instead of making me look for the answer on the internet. Sighs… Hentai no nayami…

New Game S2

December 30, 2017

More girls making video games? Nah. Just another sequel of cute girls making video games, New Game S2. After that OVA that had our team of girls fully rested at a snowy resort, it is time to get back in creating the next big game. More drama, more bonding relationships, more new characters and more or less the same thing. We’re here for the cute girls doing cute character designing and programming, aren’t we?

Episode 1
It has been a year since Aoba joined Eagle Jump. She is nervously practising her introduction lines since she will be a senior. However Rin tells her they aren’t hiring any new staffs this year. Made a fool out of herself. Well, she isn’t the only one. Her other colleagues too think the same thing with Hajime full of zest while Hifumi is scared the newbie will be a meanie. With that, I guess Aoba will still considered a newbie. At this point of the year, their company isn’t busy so the staffs have some free time before the next project. Kou suggests going for flower viewing tomorrow. Hadzuki catches a glimpse of Hifumi’s smile so she can’t help join in the girls’ conversation and suggests they could help by coming up with some ideas of their own. Nene meets Umiko. It seems she has programmed a game but it is filled with bugs. She is slowly understanding the role of a programmer. Umiko agrees to help in some parts and Nene thinks she has talent. She hopes she could keep this a secret from Aoba. Hadzuki and Rin have a one on one meeting and evaluation with the staffs. Like Aoba who is wondering why the company is all females. Our age old question finally answered because like Hadzuki says, if she hires a man, he might steal Kou away! That’s a joke, right? We hear their wishes like Aoba wanting to make lots more of other types of characters, Hifumi wanting to get over her social anxiety, Umiko threatening not to change anything or she’ll flick the hell out of her forehead, Hajime handing in her own game proposal and Yun being a worrywart comparing herself to others. The ladies enjoy their flower viewing and at the end of it, Hadzuki makes an announcement. The plan for the next project is almost finished so she would like to hold a character design competition. The winner will be the character designer for that game. Aoba is excited to participate.

Episode 2
Aoba begins her character design but lacking ideas, she goes to ‘spy on the enemy’. This means looking to Kou for inspiration. Because Hajime has been watching a show all night long and is sleepy at work, the rest mistook it as overworking. Hifumi gives her some sweets to invigorate her. During the first round competition, participants go upfront to present their character designs. As Kou presents hers, Hadzuki comments the art is good as always. However it is too similar to Fairies Story. They want to create a new world and since she was free to design anything, she was expected to experiment a little more. Too bad, all rejected. When Aoba presents her, there is one design she accidentally slipped in based on a character in a sleeping bag. Hadzuki likes this and hopes she could fix it up by the next competition. Aoba is ecstatic but she notices Kou’s sad face. The next time Aoba goes to Kou for advice, she didn’t mean to say it this way but because she notes she hasn’t had anything done so far, Kou lashes out at her she just had everything rejected and had to design from scratch. Awkward. Aoba feels conflicted about it as Yun tries to cheer her up by saying that she herself is the lamest and hasn’t improved much. Still, Aoba is sad she didn’t want to see that sad face of Kou. Of course Kou also feels bad for that. Rin talks to her about it and they want to believe for what is best for Aoba. So Kou goes to help Aoba with her character design and all the anxiety between them blows away. So when the second round of the competition arrives, Hadzuki is fascinated with Aoba’s design. Though, it is primarily a collaboration between Aoba and Kou. Hadzuki decides to go with this prototype character but the final call will still depend on the art director. This means there will be 2 producers for the next project. Congrats to Aoba and Kou.

Episode 3
Kou checks on Hifumi’s animal character design as she has trouble deciding on the fur texture. She thought of making it more realistic but Yun disagrees saying it will cause a few problems like processing issues. This makes Aoba feel odd. It’s a character she designed and yet she can’t help out with the suggestions. Hifumi notices this and talks to her. Aoba shouldn’t be worried since she is inexperienced in 3D modelling. Well, that sure hit a nerve but it’s a fact. Nene and Umiko are respectively having programming issues. However, nothing like a few debugging to solve it. When Hadzuki talks to Umiko about accepting one’s failures, I guess this is her subtle way to plead that she wants to make some feature changes. I hope she hasn’t forgotten the promise whereby Umiko will flick her forehead. After taking ‘damage’, Umiko tells her the reason for doing so wasn’t about changing features but her heart for making excuses. If she had acted more apologetically like Kou, the flicks would be gentler. For real? I guess she didn’t learn. The girls bought bento for everyone to share. Kou comments how it might taste better than Rin’s so she gets annoyed while eating it. Hadzuki tries to feed Umiko. When she eats it without much hesitation or reaction, everyone is left surprised because they’d never think she would do it or at least be embarrassed. She has been working so long here and knows of Hadzuki’s antics. She would have gotten used to it. Also, ‘training’ by Nene previously… Speaking of her, she invites Umiko to her college to help continue with her debugging advices. It still has its problems but Nene has to continue to work hard and not be a lazy bum if she doesn’t want Umiko to walk out on this entirely. Umiko then tells her about Aoba. Thus Nene calls to congratulate her.

Episode 4
Hajime is in the toilet trying to buy online the tickets for the events to Moon Ranger. I guess the competition is so hot that the website crashed! And when it is back online, it is all sold out. Poor Hajime. This is found out by Yun who chastises her about ditching work for this. Later Hifumi heard about it. It seems she has managed to buy one and offers to give it to her. But Hajime can’t accept it so easily since Hifumi was the one who did all the hard work buying it. Subsequently Yun has an extra ticket for Hajime. Her father was supposed to go with her and her younger siblings but he isn’t interested. So guess who the lucky girl is? Hajime and Yun’s siblings are so hyped. They’re really like children. So I guess that makes Yun the adult, huh? Hifumi also attends the event but a different time slot, she bumps into Aoba and Nene who are also there for the event. Back at the office, Hifumi catches Kou smiling. So they begin an odd conversation about it and Kou ends up fooling about with her. Rin sees this and gets jealous with this misinterpretation. Hifumi can sense Rin’s resentful aura so she tries to steer the conversation that would make Kou support Rin. Like the beef stew she made, Rin would make it better. Unfortunately Kou likes Hifumi’s so much that it can’t get out of her mind. Oh no… Hifumi thought she could do some peace offering by giving the recipe to Rin. Accepted but she still wants to know what they were talking. Hadzuki wants Kou and Hifumi to meet her shortly. After a while, Umiko is angrily looking for Hadzuki. Looks like she made more changes. In the meeting, Hadzuki suggests Hifumi take over Kou as the character team leader. As expected, nervous, low self-confidence, the fear of disappointing everyone but with the support and words of encouragement, she accepts. Now here comes Umiko to bring Hadzuki away for another meeting. Hifumi fears this is what she’ll have to face. Especially Umiko’s wrath. Heard Hadzuki’s scream there. Oh sh*t… The results of the prototype is soon announced by Christina Wako Yamato who is the producer from the publisher. In other words, the highest ranking person around. With the positive feedback, they will continue making the game into an alpha version.

Episode 5
Hifumi has to go around checking the progress of others. It’s going to be scary… For her, that is. Since she is quite lenient, they better work hard not to miss the deadline themselves. One day Yun is a bit late to work due to some family issues. Feeling guilty, she wants Hifumi to scold her! Hifumi acts out one of her cosplay characters. Is this yuri? Aoba certainly had the wrong idea when she sees this before the embarrassed duo pull away. Hajime is stuck and the ideas aren’t flowing. She talks to Hadzuki about her general idea so she suggests asking Aoba and Yun since they handle the character and monster designs. At first she didn’t want to because of her pride. But when she puts that aside, her friends have a lot of ideas flowing. Now she is bragging it to Hadzuki. Let’s hope she won’t too full of herself. Aoba is trying to design the final boss of the game which is an adult queen. She seeks Kou’s advice but is told to think for herself since she would just copy what she will say. Then talking to Hadzuki about it, her idea for the queen is an ill little girl who is mean to others because of her loneliness. It gives Aoba some ideas. When she finishes and shows Kou, it looks great but Kou’s looks better. Aoba feels she’s bullying her… Aoba is happy to receive a message that her high school friend, Hotaru Hoshikawa has returned from studying abroad at France. She shows Rin some of the photos of their time together. And then there is one where they kissed! OMG! Not French kiss and just on the cheek. It’s a French greeting. So Aoba and Nene meet up with Hotaru as they hang out at the hotspring inn. Hotaru must have gotten so used to this greeting that she nonchalantly does it to her friends. Maybe she just wants to harass them? This evokes Aoba’s inner demons as she uses her perverted excuse to grope boobs as her form of greeting. It’s chaotic…

Episode 6
As Aoba is in charge of key visuals, Kou teases and scares her that her art will be the main face of the series. This means she will be tied directly to the sales figure of the game. Pressure… It has been 6 months and Nene has finished her game. She calls Hotaru and Aoba to meet up and surprises them with this. The surprised look on Aoba’s face was priceless and worth it for all her hard work. Now to play the game. Hmm… Graphics look cheap… But the girls had fun playing it. Aoba can tell she put a lot of effort into it. It makes her remember her own key visual job. Pressure… Aoba sits in the meeting with the rest. As Yamato reveals, the publisher is having high hopes for this new game, PECO. Being a new IP, they want to start securing sales and promote it as soon as the alpha version passes inspection. This means Aoba has to start on her key visuals. But there is one catch. Aoba will not be doing the key visuals. They want Kou to do it. Kou protests against this but Yamato says the credits will not be changed. Rin gets madder when Aoba meekly agrees if this is what they want. If Kou won’t draw, they’ll hire a famous illustrator to draw it. Aoba finally speaks her mind and hopes she gets a chance. Hadzuki approves her competition again with Kou for the key visual but the outcome will still be fixed even if she draws better than her. This is so they would feel better. Aoba goes into serious focusing mode as her friends are ‘scared’ to talk to her. She stays late to finish her work. Kou wonders had she not helped her during the competition, she would not be in this situation. Aoba doesn’t want to be treated like a child and besides, she requested for this. If things get bitter (like this black coffee she’s drinking?), she can handle it. When Kou shows her work, Aoba is awed at how magnificent Kou’s key visual is. So great that she starts crying?! Is this a sign that she has lost? Well, not sure if I can say she handled that well. Of course in the end, Kou’s art gets featured on the back cover of a magazine. We see Aoba’s not-too-bad visual too as it sits on her personal board.

Episode 7
Aoba isn’t sure why she needs to come with Umiko for an interview to hire a new programmer. That’s because the applicant is Nene! The friends are surprised to see each other. It might be awkward for Nene but Aoba is trying to control her snickering because it’s rare to see Nene on her good behaviour. Aoba asks a few questions like why she decided to work here (her part timer job as a debugger had her impressed with the company’s atmosphere and all). Once she has no questions left, Aoba is excused. So is it worse for Nene to be alone with Umiko? She’s overthinking. Because Umiko passes her for handling it well. As she is still studying, she will be offered a part time contract for 3 months. Umiko tells her that her programming skills aren’t up to standard yet but she negotiated with the company president to let her in. So do your best. She has high expectations. Is it okay for Nene to cry now? I mean, nobody really had expectations of her. Yamato talks to Kou to hand her requests from various companies. It increases her workload but it is also her job to promote the game. Mozuku then ‘attacks’ Yamato. Seems she had catnip in the charm that Hadzuki gave her. When Aoba tries to help her up, she screams not to touch her! Everyone is confused so Yamato explains she is not good with handling people close to her. Aoba tries to break the ice by talking about her French ancestry but that greeting kiss topic makes it awkward. Aoba is excited that new interns will come to work here. This means some of their places will be shuffled. Hifumi requests to sit next to Kou. Aoba is excited when she sees the new interns at the company’s doorstep. While Tsubame “Naru” Narumi is lively and friendly, Momiji Mochizuki is a bit unfriendly. Overlapping with Hifumi’s character? Naru will be under programming and Momiji under character design. When Momiji meets Kou for the first time, she nervously lets her know she admires her work and all. Overlapping with Aoba’s character? Momiji thought Aoba’s desk is where Kou sits seeing all the PECO designs there. But Kou clears the misinterpretation about the misleading advertising. It is Aoba who is the main character design. Momiji then connects the dots and realizes why certain art of PECO seems silly. Realizing Aoba is the same age and her and has done some amazing work, Momiji is fired up. But why does she look like she’s trying to challenge her? Well, if she could only get Aoba’s name right. She becomes embarrassed after Aoba corrects her.

Episode 8
The girls need to think of a place for a welcoming party. Better think fast before Hadzuki gives her own ideas. Oh, too late. She has the girls dress up in cat maid outfits and practice. Yeah, she can’t stop pressing the shutter button. Hifumi who is showing Momiji around sees this. That disgusted stare means she doesn’t want any part of this sh*t. Hadzuki manages to make Momiji dress as one (was she being baited she could take on this challenge?) before Umiko comes in to drag her away. Eventually Kou randomly chooses some burger and steak stall in which Aoba’s face lights up. She really wants to eat here. Umiko, Nene and Naru’s side are getting along well. But at Kou’s side… Everyone’s so stiff! Anyway they manage to break the ice talking about nicknames. Momiji doesn’t join the others for lunch and usually brings her own big onigiri. Aoba feels it is a bit difficult to get close to her since she is still reserved. Hadzuki points out Kou was like this so Aoba fears Momiji would turn into another Kou by sleeping in her panties! Hifumi talks to Momiji. She manages to break the ice by showing her pictures of Soujirou. Pets always do the trick. On another day, Momiji brings a smaller onigiri for lunch. She reveals her goal to earn more money so she could buy and eat more meat. Hence her lunches are often brought from home as she fears she would spend them all. Currently she is sharing a rented space with Naru. They come from Hokkaido. Later, Momiji is trying to hint to Aoba that she is a talented top grade genius like her. However Aoba isn’t cowed and could accept her challenge not to lose confidently. This isn’t how Momiji pictured how it should be. She starts feeling strange. Could it be love? Back at her office space, Momiji is glaring at Aoba’s work. Damn it’s good. Is that the look of dissatisfaction or jealousy? Why so serious?

Episode 9
Hajime is at a hero show with Yun’s siblings. Her old high school friend, Akki happen to be here so they catch up a little bit. When asked what Hajime is doing, she replies a designer. Well, not technically a lie but not accurate either. Later Hajime talks to Yun how she was an otaku in high school and tried to hide it. Yun feels a bit jealous that back then Hajime looked quite feminine and had some decent knowledge of fashion. Yun then shows her own photo of her during high school. Promise don’t laugh. She looks like a nerd. When Hajime decides to reveal her true otaku self to Akki, it seems she already knows it for a long time. Yun is surprised to hear Hajime cut her own hair short. Yun thought of wearing those glasses again so Hajime also copies her. Don’t they look smart? Momiji shows a game she did in school and it is pretty impressive. Maybe she just wants to be praised. The newbies are given some work to do. Naru learns how Nene became a programmer and from what she told, it looked like she got in here via connections. This doesn’t sit well with Naru as she vows to get in on he own skills. This makes Nene feel bad but now Naru hates her?! Momiji might look serious at work but back home she is a bit loose. She sounds like she loves eating. While Naru takes a bath, she hears Momiji’s scream. Looks like there is a black bug lurking around. Oh no. It’s hiding and making those scuttling sounds. Any moment now going into panic. Because they have no insecticide or magazines to whack it. Basically, no weapons and defenceless! So how are they going to handle this ‘threat’? Instantly, Naru takes Momiji’s bowl and covers on it! Now it’s Momiji’s chance to run out to buy insecticide. Hurry! Because of that, the next day Naru takes off since she has gotten a cold. Momiji arrives at work wearing her pyjamas top. She doesn’t mind it when Aoba points it out until she draws attention to her unkempt hair.

Episode 10
Naru creates a daruma mini game inside PECO. Hajime tests it but feels something is not right. Till Aoba points out the need to add other NPC players. She makes the changes and although it is better, this time Momiji points out how the NPCs could identify the player as the imposter from such angle. Time to rework it again. Because it will take time and hence deadline of importance, Naru wonders who will be responsible if the game is not delivered on time. Hajime might be a full time staff but Naru is still on probation and this affects her evaluation. Umiko learns of Hajime’s constant request change and advises Naru to blow off stress. A chance to introduce her to the world of airsoft? The final change is made and they show it to Hadzuki who loves it. She even suggests a few more features. More changes, I guess? Nene has finished her ball maze game. It has some bug in the end but she thinks it’s okay. Since Umiko and her debuggers are busy, she goes to bug Aoba. Too bad she is busy too. Returning to her place, she spots Naru having glitches. She can’t say because Naru also knows about her glitch and advises her to finish it properly if she is a pro. Nene thought she could weasel her way out by adding more special effects but it is going to be easier said than done. Eventually she finishes it and Umiko tests it. The easy mode seems pretty okay but the hard mode crashes since she has trouble incorporating those random special effects. Umiko passes her since she did complete the main project within the stipulated time. With the deadline looming, Umiko will have Nene use her debugging skills like last year. Get ready for more work! On the way home, Aoba and Nene talk about how they have improved. Aoba can’t forever depend on Kou. Rin talks to Kou who stays back late to finish her work. They talk about the changes that have been for everyone. Kou gives Rin a watch as a thank you present since nowadays she is hardly at her desk and always out. But Rin starts getting mad since Kou plans to sleep over in office and strips right away. That part of her has never changed.

Episode 11
Naru finishes her task fast and this earns Umiko’s praise. That smirk at Nene… However Nene spots some bugs so Naru tries to quickly fix it and ‘warns’ Nene not to tell Umiko. Nene takes the break at the cafeteria. Since Momiji is there, she asks about Naru. Sounds like a hardworking and reliable girl. Till she learns Naru’s parents were against her going into the game industry and wanted her to take over their inn. Therefore Naru had to work hard and finance her own living just to prove she can make it. If she cannot secure a job at Eagle Jump, it’s game over. Nene also talks about Aoba. She was playing around until her senior high school years till Hotaru came along and sparked an interest in the arts. Umiko calls Nene not because she is slacking but rather there are many bugs found in Naru’s programme. That’s why she managed to finish so fast and did not check. Naru feels bad. She thought this is the end of the road. Surprisingly Nene encourages her to fight on. As they have a deadline to follow, they have to work to patch things up and depending on how fast they can do, the mini games will be cut if they can’t fix it fast enough. Naru wonders why Nene is helping her. Doesn’t she hate her? At first she did but after hearing her family story, she wants to support her. Naru apologizes for being jealous and stubborn. So everyone puts in the effort and works overtime. Those energy drinks sure come in handy. In the end, it is all fixed and Umiko passes Naru and offers her a renewed contract to work here. Meanwhile Rin overhears a conversation between Kou and Yamato. Kou is going to leave Eagle Jump to work somewhere else. Oh no… With the game completed, the girls test PECO. Seems pretty fun and good. Everyone is having a good time. Except Rin. She’s really fidgeting and feeling uneasy…

Episode 12
Everyone is here for the pre-release event of PECO. Momiji finally learns the truth that Aoba was the one who designed the key visual but the higher ups wanted Kou for promotional purposes. She realizes Aoba went through a rougher patch than her. As Kou takes centre stage to introduce the game, she improvises and credits Aoba on the design of most of the characters. Later at backstage, Kou drops the bomb that she is quitting to go to France to hone her skills. This obviously leaves Hadzuki and the young ones in shock. She told Rin a bit earlier so she’s able to ‘handle’ it. Hadzuki tells her to come back when she’s done. But don’t take too long till she gets old! Nice one. Aoba is also reeling from the shock and forces herself to accept this. During the party to celebrate the event’s success which also serves as a farewell party, Umiko is also interested to work for another company that Yamato’s sister works. Yamato is even getting ready her contacts but Hadzuki stops her. She isn’t going to lose more of her precious paradise! After the party, everyone sees the face of Rin they have never seen before. She starts crying that she doesn’t want Kou to go. All Kou has to say is to hope she keeps watching over her or else she won’t be able to leave with a smile. A week later as Aoba arrives for work, she thought Kou is still around when she should be catching her flight today. Nope. False alarm. Just Mozuku. Momiji then walks in and sees her close to tears. She is going to bring her to say her real goodbye to Kou. Because it looks like she still has regrets over it. During the train trip, they talk about Kou like Aoba’s first impression of her when seeing her sleeping in the office in her panties. Pretty much the same irresponsible person then. Arriving at the departure hall, they see Rin in the midst of giving her a farewell lecture? With Aoba starting to get emotional, Kou hugs her as she thanks her for making her realize she needs to get better. After watching her work so hard, she realized she has gotten complacent. That’s why she is going overseas to learn more so that she can move further up. In gaming terms, that is like upgrade, right? They both promise to become better. By now, the whole gang has also skipped work to come say goodbye. After the plane takes off, Momiji realizes after Naru reminds her about her internship results. Oops. Looks like Kou forgot to evaluate her and left. Don’t worry, Rin says she passed. Another week later, PECO goes on sale and out girls go buy them. Hotaru being kiasu and buying all versions and editions? Aoba hopes to work harder so that everyone can work together again making great games.

Same Game, Next Level
Well, looks like it is Aoba and Momiji to be the next Kou. Life is just like a game. You can’t stay in that same level and do the same things all over and over again. You have to level up and move on. So even though it is sad that Kou is no longer at Eagle Jump, I’m sure as part of the game developing community, everyone will still be connected. Things may change again in the future. Kou may or may not come back and Aoba may or may not stay on. But we’ll cross the bridge when we get to it. For now, things are looking good for the company and the future of the young ones seeing the initial success of PECO. I mean, they are already dreaming of making the next game based on what they really want it to have.

The character development this season is fairly decent. While there is nothing too deep, I feel that because they have to spread the focus on some of the characters, some of them feel like they have shorter screen time. For instance, Hifumi. Ever since she got promoted, we hear very much less of her. This is compounded by the fact that Hifumi herself is a quiet girl herself so you don’t hear much of her originally and even so in her meek form. Even much lesser when Eagle Jump hires a bunch of newbies and the focus then shifts to them.

Even Rin seems to be featured less ever since she has gone corporate. It’s like she is sticking around because of Kou. But then that dramatic heart-breaking news of Kou quitting and hence no more yuri time? When everything seems to be going so well and easy at Eagle Jump, this kind of news that an employee is hopping ship and even Kou lashing out at Aoba seems like something serious. It provides the much needed drama for our characters to grow and to tug our heartstrings. So like I’ve said, there are some character development but it is just minimal. It just shows that after a year, there have been some changes to the positions of the characters and their job roles and how they moved forward. Otherwise, their overall character remains pretty much the same. I mean, you can’t expect the girls to remain in the same position doing the same thing again, right? Might as well go watch last season again.

The introduction of new interns and a ‘veteran’ newbie halfway through this season brings a refreshing direction to the series. Each has their own reasons and goals for coming to Eagle Jump. Like Momiji who looks up to Kou like how Aoba once was and her seemingly unfriendly outlook overlaps with Hifumi. In some ways I thought she was Hifumi’s character replacement since the latter now has less appearance, do not fear all those who love poker face girls because here is Momiji to substitute her in her absence. Something like that. I’m sure competitiveness is in their blood since right away Momiji and Naru begin making ‘enemies’ out of Aoba and Nene respectively. Considering their background and how they came about and ended up here, maybe that is why they need to prove their worth if they want to stay in this company. But once they get to know each other, it’s just another day at work. After all, everyone is working on the same project.

Nene is still my favourite character because of all the ‘troubles’ she brings in addition to that very cute squeaky voice that spells mischief. Surprisingly, she took on the challenge and became quite a decent programmer and is considered a pro veteran debugger. It feels like she was bitten by the debugging bug (no pun intended) last season and hence she decided to hone her skills and becoming one. Therefore I also feel that perhaps she is such a subtle masochist and loves getting scolded by Umiko, she came to apply for a job at Eagle Jump. Well, if she was that scary in the first place, she wouldn’t have done so. So rather she came here for that instead of to be with Aoba.

Umiko also seems to be less in trying to ‘recruit’ people to play airsoft. With so much programming to go, maybe there is no time to play her favourite outdoor activity. With her guiding Nene, I guess this eats up some of her time. She might play it at other times when we don’t see her but we don’t see her trying to bug others to accompany her playing the game.

Lastly, the pet mascots of the series, the cat and the hedgehog. Mozuku still hangs and bums about in the office like a cat boss. Hardly anything and just for some furry relief. Otherwise it is the most carefree character ever in the company. In fact, I think it is also the most bored seeing everyone is mostly too busy to give it some attention all the time. But from time to time when it crosses your path, it’ll surely make your day and relief some stress because who can’t resist petting a fat cat or play with its paws? Too bad Soujirou feels like it made even less appearance this season because I remember Hifumi often confides in her pet about her troubles at work but the hedgehog just don’t give a damn and all it cares is just to be fed. Why not? Hedgehogs can’t talk!

Mentioning how carefree Mozuku is prompted me to notice how easy going the employees at Eagle Jump are. I have not worked in a game company or seen one in action but the way they portray the girls doing their job seems like they are stressful. I know we don’t see everyone in every department but as for those we can see, it’s like there is no real stress to it. Everything looks like in order and is going well. Even during times when they rush, they don’t look all that stressful. Maybe women can handle stress better than men? I’m not saying the characters have it easy. There are tough times too but the way they portray it feels like as though making games looks like such an easy thing. Well, when you have bosses like Hadzuki who has free time to come mess with the girls, I guess everything is not that bad and under control. Well, at least everybody is dedicated and hardworking. Also, looks like my question to last season on why the company hires only women is somewhat answered. Workplace romance is going to affect productivity. But lesbian pairing is better than straight pairings? Whatever. Just make a good game.

Fourfolium (basically the quartet of Aoba, Hifumi, Hajime and Yun) who sang all the themes last season, return again to sing all of them. This season’s opener Step By Step Up has that same energetic and lively feel like in the previous season’s opener. This season we have 2 ending themes. The first one being Jumpin’ Jump Up which is also another genki piece and the second one being Yumeiro Compass which is a moderate rock pop. Adding to the existing casts are Arisa Suzuki as Momiji, Hitomi Oowada as Naru (Sana in Alice To Zoroku), Kaori Nazuka as Yamato (Nunnally in Code Geass series) and Manaka Iwami as Hotaru (Chiaki in Gamers).

Overall, if you enjoyed the first season, this season feels like an extension that adds a few new things but hardly changes the main core nor are there any major shakeups. Also, for those who can’t get enough of cute girls doing cute things, making video games version, this season will be very much up your alley with all the bright and vivid colours as well as the overly cute girls working in a company (thank Hadzuki for that – and his paradise is likely to go on as long as she can stop them from leaving). Hence this second season feels like something equivalent to cosmetic extra content rather than mandatory paid DLC or microtransactions that are needed to complete the game. Let’s hope this series doesn’t cut out content that should have been in it originally just to make an extra quick buck. Oh wait. Isn’t that what OVAs are for?

Amanchu

November 3, 2017

Initially I gave Amanchu the slip and really did not intend to watch it for the foreseeable future. Mainly because it is a scuba diving theme. Hah. Scuba diving. How boring. Right?! Plus, looking at the promotional poster, I thought some of the characters had this ‘scary doll look’ like that Zatch Bell character. I know, I know. I didn’t look close enough but at that point I didn’t want to scare myself despite knowing this diving themed anime would mostly be a very calming series. All that changed when I learnt that this series is somewhat a spiritual successor to the Aria series because they are written by the same author! OMG! Instant nostalgia hit! Must see this!

Episode 1
Just before Hikari “Pikari” Kohinata goes scuba diving, she smells her grandma boiling pork soup. Later, Futaba Ooki arrives at the seaside via her scooter. She seems depressed as she has just transferred here. As a newbie in the area, everything is new for her. Grandma talks to her and treats her to a drink. She realizes Futaba will be enrolled in the same Yumegaoka High School as Pikari. Futaba is awed by the waves of the sea and it lifts her spirits. Pikari returns and the other guys in her group are so freaking awed by the sea it’s like they’ve turned into a new character. At the point, Futaba has left on her scooter. Next day is the new first term of the semester. Pikari sure knows how to attract attention as she marches in with a whistle in her mouth and lets this strange cat, Aria ride on her head. Pikari and Futaba’s shoe locker are next to each other. They see a fancy card in it. Pikari is excited as it is some sort of map designed by their teacher to make it more exciting. It leads them to their classroom. Futaba is amazed at the beautiful chalk drawing on the board that indicates their seat. Pikari says it is their teacher’s love. Guess what? They both sit next to each other. Their homeroom teacher is Mato Katori as she has the class introduce themselves. Futaba is very nervous. What will she say? She flusters and just says her name. Pass. When it is Pikari’s turn, she starts whistling! Is this her way of leaving a first impression? She needs to get smacked by the teacher. Then she passionately introduces herself including her passion for scuba diving. While the students line up to get their textbooks, Pikari admires Futaba’s beauty, making her blush. Because of her thin eyebrows, she decides to nickname her Teko. In return, she wants her to call her nickname. Teko notices Pikari’s zipper open. She denies it while zipping it up. Teko notes even she can get embarrassed. Teko might still be anxious of the many firsts she will experience but is confident she will get used to it.

Episode 2
It’s going to be a lovely day for Pikari to go to school. Riding the bus, she doesn’t realize Mato is sitting behind her. So she opens the window and the wind messes with her hair. Pikari wants to press the stop button but Mato beats her to it. Mato gets down with her and wonders why she stopped at the shopping district instead of riding all the way to school. She woke up early so as to see the lovely route to school. Then it descends into a race to see who can walk to fastest. Pikari takes a big lead but then Mato has the last laugh: She hitches a ride with a motorcyclist. Is this cheating? Pikari won’t lose out and takes the shortcut through the woods. So imagine Teko’s shock when she is taking a picture of the sky only to see Pikari suddenly entering her frame. The landing is painful so when Mato tends to her, they realize they are both enthusiasts in scuba diving. Now they are best friends! Teko is left wondering how weird Pikari is. With the club recruitment drive next week, depressed Teko believes she’ll join none for the rest of her high school days. That is, until Pikari drags her along to the scuba club. Looks like somebody is already there. Aria? Pikari nicknames it Tea and believes it isn’t just an ordinary member but the club’s advisor. Pikari then explains the difference between the wet and dry diving suits. Before Teko knows it, they already try on the suit. Pikari dives and floats in the school’s swimming pool as Teko ponders how she has been dragged into her pace all the while. But she notes the fun she has while watching her do stuffs. It makes her heart beat in excitement. Teko takes a deep breath and dives in too. Pikari mentions about how the border of the body and sea cease to exist when diving. When that happens, she would like to think they were all born from the sea. She hopes Teko would try diving with her. Those sparkling eyes in her looks of anticipation… Well, no harm trying. She’s already gone this far.

Episode 3
Teko tries to make friends with others but since she is still scared, I guess another day. Luckily she still has Pikari around. On their way to school, Teko tells Pikari she came from Tokyo. Everything is still new to her so that’s why she is afraid to make new friends. She finds it strange herself that she is usually bad with talking about herself to others but yet can tell it so easily to her. Pikari admits she too is bad with talking to others. Probably this explains about her being scatterbrain. Because Teko is still worried if she can make friends, Pikari takes her to a street filled with sakura trees blossoming. She quotes from grandma about thinking to be happy then you’ll forever be happy. Besides, doesn’t Teko have her as a friend? Teko feels much better. The duo are now trying the scuba club as trial members. Mato as the club’s real advisor is waiting inside. First, she asks if they know something about last week’s intrusion. Somebody intrude here. Gulp. Teko is scared but Pikari quickly admits it was her. She gets smacked by Mato. Even more afraid, Teko also admits she was here. I think Teko looked so meek so Mato smacks Pikari on her behalf! Mato starts her first lesson by explaining about external and internal air pressure. The deeper you go, the less air you have in your lungs and other areas with air as it will be crushed. So the key is to keep breathing. But like the ear which cannot breathe, how do you clear it? There are a few ways as Mato has Pikari demonstrate them for beginners. Mato tests Teko about the most important rule in diving. At first she doesn’t know the answer but thinking harder and from the hints she just learnt, the single inviolable rule is to keep breathing. Teko starts breathing and it calms her mind while thinking the new experience she will have in this new town. This in turn makes Pikari excited and hopes Teko could join her diving together. Even happier when Teko calls her nickname for the first time. Teko narrates she was always waiting and praying for someone who would call out to her. She hated her cowardly self who could only wait. But even those feelings became a piece with meaning.

Episode 4
Teko will be observing Pikari dive with a couple of customers, twins Ai and Makoto Ninomiya. She learns of Pikari’s dream to become a full fledge diving instructor one day. Teko observes how everyone checks each other’s gear before diving into the sea. She talks to Pikari’s grandma and learns that the visibility of the sea at this time of the year isn’t good. She gets worried but luckily Pikari and co return safely. They swap their tanks and go back for another round. When they’re done, they start washing their gear. Pikari is embarrassed to see she left her panties out. She tries to telepathically communicate with Ai about letting her have it (since she doesn’t want to Makoto to know about it). Not that she understands but she allows it. Then it turns out to be a head hood for diving. Pikari frantically calls grandma for the customer’s number. Teko will have her first dive at the school’s swimming pool. Pikari and Mato will dive with her. After putting on the full gear, of course it feels heavy but it won’t be once she starts diving. Teko finds she is floating and it proves that the buoyancy works. After a while and a few dives, Teko can’t help emerge since she is not used to water getting into her mask and panicked. It also causes her a bit of breathing difficulties. Although she remembers Mato’s lesson on how to clear it, the water quickly seeps back in. This makes her scared and lose motivation. She wants to get out but Pikari continues to believe she can do it. If she doesn’t try, she’ll never do it. But Teko continues to remain scared so Pikari calms her down she is here with her. They go back underwater and Pikari helps her get rid of the water seeping and this gives Teko her confidence back. They manage to dive to the deeper end of the pool. When they return to the surface, Pikari is very happy they did it together. But when Teko tries to leave the pool, she has no strength because the suit has absorbed water and has become heavier. Time to work on those muscles.

Episode 5
Teko’s muscles were aching since but has recovered. They are expecting to do more scuba diving but Mato tells them to go job and build some muscles. I suppose Teko needs lots of practice. She’s slow and even catching her breath. Pikari runs ahead first and bumps into the twins. Ai is impressed with Pikari as an instructor and even wants her to join the diving club. Pikari remembers they are the senior members Mato told them whom they have never met yet. When Pikari tries to tell them this and Makoto reminding Ai that the club has already 2 new members, Ai starts to beat him up! She will not forgive those members for trespassing the club! Oh sh*t. By the time Teko catches up, Pikari fears things will get worse so she takes her away to explain. Ai remains stubborn she won’t meet her new members. When Mato says they are nearby, she runs off to find them! Teko and Pikari arrive to explain themselves so Makoto tells them to go home and won’t be blamed. Too late. That monster has returned! RUN!!! Hey, Teko is running pretty fast this time. Eventually Ai catches up and realizes who they are. How will the showdown end? Pikari prostrates herself and apologizes. Teko explains how Pikari brought her to the club that sparked her interest in diving. This leaves Ai in a lurch because it looks like she is the bad guy now. Ai might not admit it but you can tell she accepts them as she is going to beat the basics of diving into them by calling their first emergency meeting. In the classroom, Pikari asks straight up if Ai is still mad. Not really. To prove her sincerity, lunch is on her. Or at least Makoto is paying. As they discuss, Ai wants Teko to get her open certification as her first step to become a diver. This will allow her to dive with a buddy even without an instructor. You bet Teko is motivated to do that. When Pikari doodles sea animals in a chibi form on the blackboard, Ai counters that by drawing a surreal version! Makoto joins in and adds some effects and eventually Ai is roped in to colour. It turns out to be a masterpiece. Ai claims this is the first sea that they dived together. Sea of colours? After taking pictures, they erase it.

Episode 6
Today Teko will be having pool lessons with Mato. Alone. It only makes sense since the rest already have their licence. Feeling lonely? Well, the rest are actually hiding and watching from afar so once this is over they will give Teko a surprise congratulation. Teko is scared when Mato wants her to fill her mask with water and then discharge it. She is made to do it many times and it is to help her overcome her fear. Once she is done, she is now stripped all her gear and is told to go swim laps. However there is 1 big problem. SHE CAN’T SWIM!! WHAT???!!! Oops, Pikari and co got busted. So they realize why she is always afraid of water leaking into her mask. So as Mato test her to swim with fins without sinking, she sank immediately! End of today’s lesson. Teko feels down as she believes she is holding everyone back. Mato then suggests taking them for a drive. Actually Mato just wants to take her car out for a spin… At the station near the port, Teko talks about her gratefulness to get into the world of diving. They get embarrassed when Mato comments about their self-discovery and friendship. Teko feels she still isn’t as good as she should so Mato advises her not to take her own wish or ambition too seriously. It’s good if she has it but there is also nothing wrong about following someone else’s suggestion at first. As long as she keeps moving, she’ll be sure to find something. Pikari has found some ribbons whereby they can write their wishes and hook it up along the shrine. Teko writes her wish to dive 150 metres and pass her pool training. It might look simple but at least it is a wish she can grant by her own power. Pikari won’t let Teko see hers because it is embarrassing. What did she write? Her wish for Teko’s wish to come true.

Episode 7
It is the rainy season and the humidity is messing with Ai’s hair. Look at how many pins she has. But has she got to take it out on Makoto? He has more pins on his head… Mato watches Pikari seeing off Teko to her pool training. Then she notices Pikari sneaking off in the wrong direction. She tails her to the train station. Since she is deep in her thoughts, Mato is discovered by Pikari. So what is the meaning of this? When the time is right, the train passes by a lovely field of hydrangea flowers. It’s only for a moment so hope you see all its beauty. So Pikari just got this train trip just for this? Yup. It is the only season where they bloom best. Now that the rainy season is over, it is hot like hell! Is the end of the world coming? Club activities are out since it is a time for students to study for their exams. But the diving club quartet are bumming around in school. Pikari leads the gang to stretch their hands in the sunlight to test its warmth. Mato isn’t impressed so she has them play Red Light Green Light with Makoto as It. In this heat? We see Teko is really good at the game. She survives and wins most probably Makoto had to choose his sister. Not thrilled, Ai decides to play again with her being It. Again Teko is naturally talented in this game. Ai can’t even get her! Finally Mato decides to join in the game. It looks like Makoto and Teko won but Mato throws her slippers at them! Anything the It possess and touches you counts. Was this part of the rules? Mato is so happy with her victory, it prompts the rest to think she is the most child-like among them. So this is a lesson that even as adults, searching for answers can be still fun.

Episode 8
Makoto sees a letter in Ai’s shoe locker. She takes the letter and quickly runs! So when he finally manages to ask her about it, she points out to some baseball guy who wrote the letter. She finds it odd because they don’t talk much so why did he write that letter? She hasn’t read the letter yet but what are the chances it is a love letter? Makoto is shocked to see Ai blushing. So when she starts to read it, suddenly she has this unimpressed looks. She runs away! Actually puts the letter back. It seems the guy have put it in the wrong place and was meant for the other girl sharing her shoe locker. Ai claims she didn’t read the rest of the letter and stopped once she read who it was addressed to. Makoto fears for that guy’s life as you know what his sister can do. But he can’t be worried about him, Ai is going to take it out on him! Surprisingly she did not. Instead she acts cool and deduces that guy must be so nervous thinking about the letter that he put it in the wrong place. It takes a lot of strength to do all that. Ai is glad seeing others putting effort to make others happy and in a way grateful to him. Makoto notes that he is able to see the other side of Ai he never sees. However she returns to her old self beating him up. Back to worrying about her future. Later Ai cleans up Makoto’s messy locker in which he hordes stuffs from long ago including a magazine about diving. She notes worrying about his future. Teko hates the physical examinations. In the hall, she gets separated from Pikari. Because of that, she becomes clumsy during the examinations. So with Pikari around, it looks like she could do it decently. During the 50m race, Teko starts great. Wow. It’s like she can run now. However halfway she loses steam. Like as though she gave up. When it is time for the 1000m race, Teko gets scared and starts thinking negatively. But Pikari has a solution. First they start last and run slow to conserve energy. When the final lap is announced, they sprint all their might to surpass those ahead. In the end, they achieve quite a decently high position. As they catch their breath, Pikari realizes something about Teko. Could it be she is a sore loser? Even so, she is a lovely sore loser and respects her more. Uhm, is that supposed to be a compliment?

Episode 9
Teko continues taking pictures. Each one of them carries precious memories and she sets it up so each time she on her handphone, a random photo will pop up. When Ai suggests a group picture (Makoto is excluded of course – he need to take the picture), the memory card is full. As suggested, Teko should transfer out the data for more space. However it’s not that simple. It’s like the end of the world for her. Don’t laugh. You don’t know how deeply attached and important each of those photos are. Unlike us who keep taking and never once see them anymore :’(… Teko further remembers when she moved here, her friends sent her a handphone strap as a birthday present. Even if Teko was happy, she couldn’t help felt sad because it marked the start of separation. She felt lonely. Teko was a lonely girl who just existed until a couple of girls in middle school became her friends. Middle school? That late, huh. So she learnt the wonderful things of friendship and came to appreciate how precious it is. That is why even with the simple push of a button to transfer her data, she just can’t do it. She gets a call from her diving club to meet. There, Pikari then hands her a present. Ai takes her away to lecture her about suddenly giving a belated birthday present and putting Teko in a spot. Well, we can all hear you. The present is a digital photo frame. She can put her memory card here and display all the photos she has taken. Problem solved. Geez, I thought they would have got her a new handphone… Nah, this is cheaper. Now that she is able to snap more treasured memories, looks like life will continue fine and dandy as usual. Oh, Teko is crying? Tears of joy. You’re welcome. Teko continues snapping as usual. She picks up a call from her old friend. Looks like they have lots to chat and catch up. At this rate, it’s going to be full soon…

Episode 10
Teko and Pikari are at Ai’s house to pick her up so they can go out together. They are at the bookstore to pick out a log book. The designs are too cute and they are spoilt for choice. Then they go buy swimsuits. Once done, Pikari invites them to her grandma’s place so they can have fun in the sea (and probably test their newly bought swimsuits). After that, Teko talks to grandma about her treasured memories and how grateful she is for meeting Pikari. But she feels sad she has nothing to give her in return. She advises about the blinding light when stepping out from the darkness after a long time. But the light isn’t the one making the scenery. Everything has been there from the start. The light didn’t do anything. As long as she doesn’t block out Pikari, she will shine on her own. Later Teko talks to Pikari about feeling lost. Even if she passes her pool test, she isn’t sure if she will be ready. But she is really excited to go diving with everyone. She wonders if she’ll hold everyone back or worthy to be her friend. Pikari replies she sometimes get lost too. That feeling means you are dissatisfied with where you are. Therefore feeling lost is a good thing because is an opportunity. A chance to have more fun. So if you’re lost, then let’s go. Teko takes the pool test. Mato times her. After clearing 100 metres, she manages to float on her back for 10 minutes (this is her specialty?). With that, Teko passes and can now go diving with everyone. First stop, the sea!

Episode 11
Teko and Pikari see Aria walking off a path. They try to follow it but the path becomes blocked. At least for humans. Wondering if cats have their own secret path to walk and that Pikari doesn’t know every inch of the area as Teko thought she would, they decide to have their adventure of discovering new and unknown places together. So as they travel the path less taken, they see a crow bullying a little kitten! Shoo! Shoo! Time to squeal our hearts because the kitten is so cute rolling around! But time to head back to reality because they wonder if it is lost or abandoned. They notice it is hungry. Nothing like the internet to help search what cats eat. They head to the convenience store to buy milk and then go back to grandma’s place to make it. Kitten is crying tears of joy? Of course the problem now is what to do next. Teko’s place doesn’t accept pets and Pikari’s mom is allergic to cats. Oh, grandma can’t keep it here too. They could ask their classmates to adopt it tomorrow but for now, Teko will secretly let it live in her place for tonight. Next day in school, Mato senses something strange when the duo anxiously keep going back and forth from the club. Then they got busted for hiding the kitten there. Mato reminds them about the responsibility needed if they are to save it. Teko starts thinking how the kitten is just like her. Lonely. Because Pikari pulled her out of that, she wonders if she can be the kitten’s Pikari. Of course she could. As they try to look for anyone who would adopt it, the principal (black afro guy?) pops up. He is the owner of Aria and noting that Aria needs a bride and the kitten is female, he wants to adopt it. And since the cats like each other, case solved.

Episode 12
The diving club members head to a beach where it is the holy land for first time divers. This is also for Teko to do her sea practical. After checking the gear, the swim out to the buoy. While getting ready to dive, Teko realizes one of her fins is missing. Is it already over? Luckily a kind diver found it and returns it. Sliding down the rope to the bottom, they see lots of other divers there too. After experiencing and watching the marine wildlife, it is time for Mato to test Teko for her sea practical. From mask clearing to buoyancy to hand signals, Teko looks like she’s got it all under control. Surfacing back up, Teko can’t stop talking excitedly about her experience. Later Mato informs Teko about her sea practical’s result. She passed and is now presented her very own C-card, the badge of an open water diver. Of course, we must have that Teko-Pikari talk with Pikari describing her past self as one who was afraid of love and empty. She hated herself for that. Now she has totally changed and a complete opposite. She wants to find out more things to love and show them to Pikari. Because now Teko has come to love herself, this Pikari means Pikari will love her too. I hope that isn’t in a yuri sense. They look forward tomorrow. Fun for all, all for fun? What the heck. Let’s just go!

OVA
Teko’s friends, Chizuru Himeno and Akane Mizunashi visit her. They are happy to see each other after a long while. When Teko introduces them to Pikari, she is in fact very eager to be their friends. Pikari will be their guide today and guide them around. During lunch, the friends can tell Teko is fitting in nicely and their worries were baseless. After touring a few scenic spots, Teko asks her friends if they would like to do guided scuba diving. It felt like they’re waiting for this moment and eagerly say yes. Pikari calls Mato for it. When Chizuru thinks about this diving thing, she starts to lose her balance. Pikari catches her. However Chizuru feels something wrong. A tingly feeling in her heart. Something uneasy. She decides to hide it for now. Next day before when they go diving, Mato has them sign a form. They are not too pleased they have to fill in their weight… And a contact number in case something happens… Teko assures them everything will be alright because there are 3 certified divers here. After putting on their gear, Chizuru learns from Pikari about Teko’s nickname. She is not impressed. After diving in, Chizuru starts to feel pain in her ears. She stars panicking that she is going to die! Luckily Pikari tells her how to clear it. Pain instantly gone. However, it is panic once more when Chizuru starts spinning uncontrollably. Till Pikari takes her hand to join everyone else. Here she sees the beauty of the deep sea. It is like a piece of heaven. Back on land, while Akane enjoys every bit of it, Chizuru takes this chance to complain how it was hell! But everything was worth it in the end. She then explains at first how she was worried that Teko was a different person than she knew. She was jealous that Pikari had stolen her friend away but realizes Pikari is a great person. In fact, she realizes the Teko here is the real Teko. So yeah, it was fun. Thank you. As they leave, Pikari hopes they would come back again. Even if she did not ask, they will. So until then, please take care of Teko for them. Ai is full of regret when she learns Teko’s friends went diving with them. She really wanted to join in. Please don’t kick your brother for that missed opportunity.

ABZU: The Depths Of Calmness And Friendship
Well… Yeah… While writing this, I am having mixed feelings if I am bored or just filled with calmness. It’s a bit of both and that is why I am having trouble of deciding if it is one or the other. But you know me, it can be both. So honestly, this series didn’t really inspire me or anything because I am not really interested in the world of diving (the thought of sea creatures still scare the hell out of me) and there were many times I caught myself being distracted by something else that is not on my monitor. Therefore the only reason why I have this calm and ‘satisfied’ feeling is perhaps because of the nostalgia factor and how much it brings back memories of the Aria series. So in a way you could say that while I was watching this series and in the midst of being calmed by its overall theme, it was more of the unconscious thought of relating all this back to Aria that made me continue to watch this series to the end without complain. It’s like I’m watching Amanchu but my mind and heart is actually seeing it as Aria. Uh huh. Amanchu, the HD version of Aria, so to speak.

Forgive me if you are going to hear me compare a lot of Amanchu with the Aria series. Both series have so much in common but yet they are so different and unrelated to each other. For starters, the Aria series is more of fantasy as its setting was on a colonized Mars that looked very much like modern day Venice. Whereas here in Amanchu, the setting is based on the real location of the Izu peninsula. I believe there is a website out there that compares a few scenes from the anime with its actual real backgrounds and locations. Therefore even if both series had the same calming theme of friendship and overcome one’s fears, Amanchu feels more relatable and realistic as it is set in a real place. You can visit Izu any time you want but you can only visit Aqua and Neo-Venezia in your head. Or rewatch the Aria series again, that is.

There is basically no real plot in such healing anime series like this. Therefore its drive focuses mainly around the main characters and what they do. Hence the drama of friendship and overcoming your inner obstacles might a big yawn fest to those who aren’t into this kind of genre but hey, you have been warned or at least guessed when you read the synopsis. You did read it, right? So just like in the Aria series, the real charm is in its characters as they slowly transform and learn from the bond and everyday interaction that we see. So a big portion of the series ironically isn’t underwater but above ground and on dry land.

It might look like nothing much because Teko for start is just a new girl in town and naturally like everyone who has left a place they were so comfortable with for something new, there are fears if she would find her place and settle in. Well, Teko must really be a lucky girl for finding eccentric Pikari. Thank goodness she didn’t get into any bad company. I know it is impossible for this series since basically everybody are good people. Assuming that. Although Teko still has her fears and worries, she slowly opens up thanks to Pikari’s ‘guidance’ but that is only half of it. You might want to guess the other half is the other people but I lump them in the same half as Pikari. So this other half I am talking about is Teko herself. She gave herself a chance to change for the better. She might not have drastically changed and she is overall the same Teko we know at the start but she is better off in the end since she has lesser insecurities or at least more positivism than before. And yeah, Teko is like the Akari of the Aria series…

Pikari is in the same boat as Teko. But because she shows a lot more exuberance and confidence, it feels like she knows what she is doing. But then again, maybe not. I feel she is like the mix between Aria’s Aika and Akari since she can be cheeky but at the same time an airhead. Teko and Pikari make a great pair not for yuri reasons. They are like best friends who complement each other. Because at this point it is just odd to see one without the other. So could it be that their meeting was God sent? I mean, we don’t really learn the reason why Teko transferred here. So for them to meet each other has got to be the work of God and miracle, right?

The other characters are pretty okay in their own right. Like Mato the nice teacher and diving instructor. Then you have Ai who feels like she was ripped off from Aika because of her cheeky personality. It’s like a running joke and the only thing you’ll remember about the twins is how she loves to kick Makoto for absolutely every and no other reason. Everything is his fault. Kick him. If nothing is his fault, then kick him too. Please people, twin brothers are not meant to be abused like that. If this was the real world, Makoto might have murdered her and dumped her body in the ocean! Yikes! That’s why I say everybody here in this anime are so goody-goody.

Last but not least, Aria. Somehow I feel they want to leave some sort of Aria series legacy by having a cat named after the president of a gondola company as well as suspiciously looking as lame (sorry) as him. Aria doesn’t really intrude or interrupt the flow of the series and is just there for some cute factor, hence its very minimal appearance throughout the series. Though, ever since the kitten joined them in the final few episodes, Aria seems to be hanging out almost everywhere with them. Speaking of the kitten, I thought she was going to be like some sort of a running joke with reference to the Aria series. You know, President Aria was always trying to impress Hime but never gets her heart. Sad. I thought the same thing here because in the ending credits we see Aria ‘chasing’ after the kitten. So it turns out they really do like each other. Well, now it seems the kitten has this habit of sneezing. Is this a running joke too? I’m sure we’ll all goo “Aww…” when it sneezes because cats do it so cute, right? If it isn’t sneezing, it likes to suck on something…

Now, the biggest thing that hit me for my Aria’s nostalgia is the background music. They have this very similar and hence nostalgic feel to the many songs in the Aria series. Especially those gentle and calm acoustic guitar pickings. Oh man. I instantly fell in love with them when I first hear them. These background music are the ones that take the cake and the part which I love the most in Amanchu. I really need to scour the internet for its tabs so I can play them on my guitar too! Even if the guitar style is similar, they aren’t composed and played by Choro Club. Instead, they are composed and performed by Gontiti, a pair of Japanese acoustic guitar guys with lots of their own original compositions a decade ago. Also, there is a song in Amanchu that uses the voice as its instrumental piece, thus further reminding me more of Aria’s Barcarolle. In line with the calming theme of the series, both the opening and ending themes are also calming as you can get. A song worthy to be part of Aria’s theme if Amanchu never happened and Aria got another season. Million Clouds by Maaya Sakamoto as the opener and Futari Shoujo by Tekopikari (Teko and Pikari of course) as the ending are calming enough to complete your peaceful day.

Voice acting isn’t anything particularly special. Ai Kayano is the one of the 3 casts who played a role in the Aria series who also got a role in Amanchu. As Teko here, she was Anya in Aria The Avvenire. I think she did a good job in voicing Teko and make have that sound of insecurity in her character as well as the hope that she can overcome it. It feels like they want to pay homage to the Aria series because they had Erino Hazuki who voiced Akari returning as Akane and Chiwa Saito who voiced Aika returning as Chizuru. No wonder they sound a little familiar. Heck, their character’s names also suspiciously sound related to their Aria character they played… Hmm… Embarrassing remarks are not allowed! No, they didn’t say that but I wished they did. The other casts are Eri Suzuki as Pikari (Chinatsu in Flying Witch), Saori Oonishi as Ai (Aiz in DanMachi), Yuuichirou Umehara as Makoto (Mitsuhide in Akagami No Shirayuki-hime) and Shizuka Itou as Mato (Hinagiku in Hayate No Gotoku). Even Aria has his own seiyuu, Yurika Kubo (Hanayo in Love Live). Easiest lines ever. Shockingly I discovered Kikuko Inoue as the voice behind Pikari’s grandma. Hey wait a minute. I thought she is always 17???!!! Why does she sound like a real grandma here! No wonder I can’t sniff her out! Whoops…

As for the art and animation, nothing really too special. I would like to point out that the sceneries and backgrounds are gorgeous although I won’t go so far as to say they are masterpieces that should be displayed next to Mona Lisa. They are indeed nice to look at but not so much that it puts you in a trance that you really want to go live there now. At least not for me. Oh, remember what I said about the ‘scary doll look’ in my opening paragraph? Well, turns out it is this series ‘Pac-man’ look. And boy they sure have a lot of them. So it isn’t that scary once you get used to it. But it feels a bit odd that they put up this face for almost half the time since Pikari is being her usual idiot so that’s her Pac-man face and Teko is being nervous so that’s her Pac-man face. And yeah, the others too have their own Pac-man face.

Overall, this is beautiful series about friendship but with a scuba diving theme. There are a few lessons you can learn about scuba diving but it is just the very basics because if you are really interested, there are proper channels to pursue. Otherwise the series would be just one big bore. Personally, I still prefer the Aria series over this because of nostalgia and the fantasy setting although this isn’t too bad either but like I have pointed out, I’m not really into scuba diving. Also, Aria had more episodes and seasons so there was time for proper development and pacing to give it a proper ending as well.

I recommend that all of us watch such calming and healing animes once in a while. Because we definitely need some inner cleansing after watching Titans eating humans, females bumming out each other with their bums into the pool, lonely people trying to steal each other girlfriend/boyfriends, high school kids trying to lose their virginity, noisy rock music, warring kingdoms trying to outdo each other and a hell load of other anime controversies that could only be so because anime. So it’s like this series is trying to tell us sometimes we need to take a dive deep enough where it is quiet to clear our minds. Then we find our true inner peace… Embarrassing remarks aren’t allowed! Oh yeah? Screw that because when in doubt, let’s go!

WWW.Working!!

June 17, 2017

How do you take a familiar series but make turn it into something fresh and new without changing the main plot and setting? Why, you replace the old characters with new ones! Some sort of retelling or reboot, you say? Well… Erm… Let’s say it is an alternate setting spin-off. Because that is what WWW.Working!! is. You take all the characters from the previous seasons you know and then you replace them with new characters that you never hear before. Same place. Same plot. Same style. Voila! New alternate setting sequel. Thus if you are not familiar with the Working!! franchise, do not worry because you do not need to go back and watch all 3 seasons of the original. Anybody can jump in and watch this without having to know anything. Good for newbies as wells as fans who want something new out of something familiar. And producers to milk more money from us. See how this is working now? Sorry, bad pun…

Episode 1
* Daisuke Higashida walks into Wagnaria to look for a part time job. Kenichirou Sakaki the manager interviews him on his reason to work. Well… He doesn’t want to work! His father’s company went bankrupt and since dad has no more allowance to give him, better find a job. How depressing. Heck, the family even made a pun about dad and bankruptcy (both pronounced as ‘toosan’). I guess his case is so pitiful that he lands a waiting job here.
* Higashida is given the ropes by Hana Miyakoshi. She seems like a nice girl at first but then gets violent easily. Yeah, Sakaki gets punched for nothing.
* Higashida’s next creepy experience is with Sayuri Muranushi. She’s greeting nobody at the door… Serving water to nobody at the table… Talking to nobody? Oh sh*t… Apparently it is believed an old grandpa ghost keeps patron Wagnaria and only wants her to server him. One day she wasn’t around, there were creepy writings and warnings all over to demand her back!
* Kisaki Kondou is your badass girl. She smokes and takes time out as she likes. Has she ever really work? But don’t take this slacker for a bimbo. She is actually pretty smart! Until she meets her match in Higashida. This guy is pretty smart too.
* What is a rich girl, Shiho Kamakura working as a waitress? She is so bungling and the only way she believes could solve everything is giving stacks of money. That’s because Yuuta Shindou’s father owes a lot of money to her father. He is working to pay off his father’s debts but that isn’t the worst part. Because he once rejected her before this debt thingy, it is like some sort of revenge as she has got him under her thumb doing every whims and fancies she wants. Queen control…
* Higashida has more problems to deal with. His family is still taking it easy since dad still hasn’t found a job. They even pay a visit to Wagnaria. He wants to kick them out but a good kick from Miyakoshi to remind him to treat all customers well. At the end, father forgot to bring his wallet and hopes his son could cover for him. Saw this coming from a mile…
* Miyakoshi wants Higashida to promise to eat the chocolates she makes. Sounds bad. Hearing Muranushi’s ‘bad review’ doesn’t make it any better.
* Shindou thought Shiho bought all these presents for him. But they are to give to other people and he has more chores to do. Any leftover money she can keep it. Sad guy…
* Higashida sums up his courage to eat Miyakoshi’s chocolates. He almost died! She feels bad and wants to throw them out but Higashida can’t risk any more victims and will take them all home. Miyakoshi is super happy and might be getting the wrong idea about this.

Episode 2
* You think Shiho is kind enough to drop stacks off money on Shindou’s hands. Money strapped on to a bowling ball… Poor guy…
* Miyakoshi forces Higashida to help her study for the test as his White Day response. Because if her grade slips, her mom won’t let her work here anymore.
* Everyone is shock to see Kisaki bringing in her own baby Hime to work. Flashback reveals Sakaki noticing a group of mothers at the table for a long time. He thought they should have brought their kids along. Kisaki took this advice literally. Oh, baby Hana is smarter than Miyakoshi!
* Kouki Saiki enters looking for a job. However he doesn’t understand Japanese despite his parents are. Blame living overseas for a long time. With Kisaki translating, apparently his friends filled up the application as a prank. He showed up and thought he could quickly go home. He should have been rejected but somehow he is hired! Oh dear. How can he even communicate… Luckily Kisaki can coach him but this means Higashida is still forced to coach Miyakoshi.
* So when Higashida tells his parents a friend is coming over, they jump with joy. They are so happy he has a friend. A friend. Is this an insult? So when Miyakoshi arrives, mom and sister really give her to big welcome.
* Higashida tries to teach her but she can’t keep her attention. Her mom is a famous cooking TV personality and she wonders why bother to study if she is going to take over her role one day. Is she sure she is going to inherit all that?
* One of the kitchen staff, Takuya Kouno decides to quit. Because wouldn’t it be cool for one of the founders to quit first? He becomes a customer so his fellow kitchen mate, Masahiro Adachi tells him how cool it would be if he was the first to come back. And with that, Kouno is back again.
* When Muranushi is serving a group of rude customers, grandpa ghost becomes mad and this scares the hell out of them when Muranushi communicates with him.
* Adachi and Kouno thought Muranushi would be more pleasant if she smiles. She notes that no one reacted well and when she does, Adachi froze. Personally, I think it wasn’t creepy but it does make her look pretty. So what’s so bad about it?
* Flashback of young Shindou stumbling into sad Shiho alone. Her mom died of an illness. Shindou sounds cool when he dispenses advice about money as the root of trouble. So when they parted, Shindou told directly to her father how lonely his daughter is and to spend more time with her. He thought as a kid his words won’t make a difference. Next day, Shiho looks for him and it seems she has given up looking for other friends and wants to be with him. This time with bodyguards watching closely everywhere. Then she tells him his father owes him a lot of debt. If he marries her, she’ll get papa to write off the debts. However he rejected her. This shocked her but now he regrets saying it. Kisaki thinks he could try to seek forgiveness by asking to marry her. Unfortunately he loses courage and instead wants her to kill him. It’s no fun if he requests it himself…
* Miyakoshi is displeased that even Higashida gives her homework at the end of the tutorial. She leaves crying and Higashida’s dad gets the wrong idea his son did something to her! Later Miyakoshi relays the good news that her mom allowed her to keep working. But she didn’t pass the test. She slept through it! Mom was so worried when she spouted American states on the day of the tests so she just let it go. Higashida’s effort went to waste…
* Saiki has learnt a bit of Japanese but it seems Kisaki has trained him to be his gopher to do chores on her behalf.

Episode 3
* A weird customer, Miri Yanagiba walks in. She is wearing a scarf in this hot summer. Maybe she is a ghost? Higashida continues to be in denial and thinks it is still summer! But she may not be a ghost after all since everybody can see and hear her. But Higashida still being a sceptic asks her straight if she is dead or alive and earns Miyakoshi’s beating.
* Higashida notices Yanagiba is from his school since she is wearing their school uniform. It gets even odder when Muranushi notes that she is the granddaughter of ghost grandpa!
* Yanagiba explains she is prone to getting sick easily and got a cold before the school’s opening ceremony. She is hospitalized but when she is discharged, she doesn’t want to risk getting bullied since it is too late to make friends now. Higashida blows his top when he learns Yanagiba is actually in the same class with him! Next day Higashida talks to his classmate, Rui Nagata and hopes he can introduce her to this girl to be friends.
* Kouno drags all the Wagnaria staffs to play kimodameshi. Also with Shiho’s help and her bodyguards dragging the rest. So they are paired up and must walk through and drop stuffs, the usual. But be warned. There might be something lurking in the woods… Much scarier than a ghost. A bear! Saiki is tasked to create the pit stop but since he can’t read, he thinks this is some human trafficking activity!
* Shindou is glad he is paired with Kisaki but with the power of money, Shiho switches with her. The nightmare continues…
* Adachi sees Muranushi’s creepy smile again (personally, it still looks decent) and freaks out. With Saiki freaking out too, they believe the bear is real because he is saying something like stealing food from the pit stop.
* Higashida is paired with Miyakoshi. Although he doesn’t find his own family amusing, Miyakoshi seems envious of his. Her father doesn’t live with them and mom always works late. Flashback reveals mom used to cook rich food for dad. So when he developed diabetes and wanted her to cut down, she took it as an insult and will never cook for him again!
* More misery for Shindou when Shiho remembers a similar event of him leaving her alone and it hurt her heart. It is already sad enough to see Shindou shed real painful tears. He sincerely pleads to start over again as friends. She agrees and will let him make up for all the pain and suffering he caused her. In the form of monetary damages. Nothing is forgiven… So when he sees Higashida coming by, he is pleading for Miyakoshi to help rid of the ‘monster’ instead of the bear!
* It is revealed the ‘bear’ is actually a raccoon. Kouno is tied up and left in the woods as everyone leaves. Payback time. Don’t be too loud. Bears are attracted to noises.
* Higashida brings Nagata to Wagnaria to talk to Yanagiba. However Yanagiba prefers to cling to Higashida and do other stuffs.
* When Nagata asks about Miyakoshi because she was in earlier but is now gone, Higashida says she went home due to a cold. Nagata misinterprets what he says next because he makes it sound like Miyakoshi is crashing at his house all the time. Every day she comes over and gets clingy with him and refuses to let go. Then there is the trouble of coming up with a name and paperwork to fill out. Birth registration? Actually Higashida is talking about Conbini. That’s the raccoon’s name. Miyakoshi adopted it as her pet but since her place doesn’t allow pets, Higashida is keeping it at his place for the time being. You don’t think Miyakoshi wants him to fatten it up to eat it, no?
* Just when Yanagiba accepts Nagata as her friend, she gives her permission to come back here again. This makes Higashida mad because she is supposed to go to school.

Episode 4
* Shiho’s harassment seems to be escalating. Miyakoshi tells Muranushi to say something to her. Shiho isn’t bullying him. Seeing his pitiful state only makes her want to tease him more! Muranushi accepts her reasoning?
* Kouno asks Adachi if he likes Muranushi. That reaction… However that pain in the heart doesn’t seem to indicate anything of a love sickness…
* Higashida seems to only be disrespecting Miyakoshi. It can be traced back to that Valentine’s chocolate… Miyakoshi disagrees and believes she will become a good cook like her mom. She might be but what about in person? Let’s say she is unrefined. Miyakoshi somewhat badmouths about mom. Don’t look back now but she is standing right behind you! Seems she is supposed to have dinner here with her husband tomorrow. She sounds like a tsundere. Like mother, like daughter? At first she thinks Higashida is making fun of her and disrespecting her. But upon learning he is the guy who ate her daughter’s chocolates, she respects him and wants Miyakoshi to marry him! Hey, you can’t be picky, right?
* So Higashida must be damn surprised to see Miyakoshi at his place as early as 5am! Mother sent her here to be looked after by him. Sorry, can’t rewrap and send her back to the returns section.
* Nagata is walking her dog and gets the wrong idea seeing Higashida and Miyakoshi out together so early. She gets the wrong idea and spies at them as they go pray at the shrine. No, it’s not to cure Miyakoshi’s stupidity but her cooking!
* Miyakoshi changes her mind to be good at cooking to wish for Higashida to eat her cooking for the rest of his life! This is what a thousand yen is worth? Higashida empties his wallet to wish for Miyakoshi’s cooking to be better. This is not him being kind. It is for his survival. If it fails, she owes him back!
* Nagata is discovered and she is so confused with everything so she makes a wish to understand their relationship better and make it simpler.
* Miyakoshi talks to the rest about making wishes that come true. Muranushi doesn’t believe in ghosts and Shiho believes in money more than God. Kouno stays positive and gives some hope for why shrines exist. This gives her motivation to make chocolates. Oh no. If somebody has to die, they blame Kouno for it.
* You can bet Higashida is gloomy. So he has to take this out by saying he hates Yanagiba? Twice?! But he hates her not enough to not make her eat those chocolates?
* Muranushi gives Adachi her chocolates. He has a bad feeling about this especially the ambiguous words she says that sounds like she likes him. But then again, half of them are lies. Which half?!
* Shindou’s torture continues because Shiho gives him canned dog food as chocolates… Poor guy…
* With Miyakoshi bugging Higashida to eat her improved chocolates, he prepares himself for death as he pops one in his mouth. He instantly ‘dies’ from the curry and bitterness! He is screaming in his ‘death’ and St Valentine cannot even save him! Why? Because Higashida prayed to the eastern gods and St Valentine can’t do anything about it from his western side. Wasted prayer…
* Nagata wanted to give her chocolates to Higashida. But seeing the state he is in, she gives it to Yanagiba. She then pops it into Higashida’s mouth and he instantly loves the real chocolate!

Episode 5
* Due to the failed wish. Higashida wants Miyakoshi to pay him back. She pleads for discount but Shiho tells him not to show mercy as a debt collector! Shindou pleads for him not to become one or else he will turn into a certain monster! She can hear you…
* One of Shiho’s bodyguards, Tasaka is desperately looking for her since it is his job to make sure she doesn’t kill Shindou! Apparently he is Sakaki’s junior from the same high school as he explains Sakaki was a real badass delinquent. But with a cat on his head! It’s hard for everyone to believe this.
* Muranushi wants Adachi to go out with her. To the art store. It’s too heavy for her to carry the items herself.
* I hope Saiki has gotten the hang of Japanese but does he remember their names? He mispronounces Muranushi’s name and in turn she mistaken Saiki to be Adachi. Not sure whether on purpose or not. Because of that, Muranushi is going to put on her sad smile but Adachi won’t let her. She thinks he only wants her to smile for him. He just checkmate himself.
* Miyakoshi is not happy none of the workers know how to properly smile. When she tries to make Kisaki smile, she wants her to pay if she is going to do that.
* Another harassment from Shiho as she shows Shindou a new sword she bought from her allowance. Saiki tries to tell her off and this pisses her off enough to want to kill him! But you can say his amateur grasp of the language is a blessing because he praises Shiho’s beauty instead, leaving her stunned. She lets him live.
* Muranushi is not pleased her mom visits her at Wagnaria. She will be out for an exorcism job and won’t be here and is here to pass the house key. Adachi is surprised that she knows his name. No, he isn’t wearing a nametag. She might also be able to read his mind! She also knows he has seen Muranushi’s smile even though she has not told her about it. She tells of an old classmate who saw her smile and began behaving suspiciously. Thankfully he is still alive today. Barely. Adachi is more worried when she gives him talismans just in case. And he won’t give it to Muranushi who offers to give it back to mom later. Just in case.
* Yanagiba wants to know the pairings in Wagnaria. The obvious are named. Kouno is pointed out as the third wheel. Yeah, everyone except him is part of a pair. Kouno argues it is more like the guys are imprisoned against their wills.
* When Miyakoshi describes badly about Higashida, Nagata tells her off she should take responsibility once she has fallen for someone. If she doesn’t like him, she shouldn’t have given him her chocolates. So she is saying if she wants to give him her chocolates, she must fall in love with him first? Miyakoshi feels bad and will take responsibility. She will feed him her cooking till he turns back to normal! She wants her to teach her cooking! This makes Nagata feel devastated and partly responsible for this outcome as well as confused because they are supposed to be love rivals and now she has to help her out.
* Higashida bumps into Muranushi’s mom. She warns him of a young woman he knows well in possession of something lethal. An exorcism will require both effort and sacrifice. Failure to do so means the end of the world! Higashida believes she is the real deal.

Episode 6
* Shiho throws losing lotteries to Shindou. Maybe one of them is a winner… Then she rants about how she gives hope to losers and it is that little glimmer that will have them check all the lotteries. Well, Shindou did win 300 Yen and is genuinely happy to have this bonus to pay back his debt. However this only pisses Shiho off.
* When Muranushi gives Adachi her chocolates, he faints! It gets even worse when Muranushi overheard Adachi talking to Higashida how he compares her chocolate like watching a horror movie. It is obvious she is mad despite her poker face. Adachi goes into damage control mode by saying her cooking is still much better than Miyakoshi (you mad, girl?) and he promises to stop acting like he has seen a ghost around her. This makes her feel better as she gives her creepy smile. I don’t know how he got the power to withstand that.
* As Nagata helped Miyakoshi to make her chocolates, she is confused who she is supposed to root for. So when Miyakoshi lets Higashida eat them, first he claims this is not Nagata’s fault at all. Then he collapses. With a smile! Back to that St Valentine dude. Even he tells Higashida to overcome Miyakoshi’s bad cooking by falling in love with her! And so he tries to make this change but Miyakoshi finds Higashida’s sudden change in kindness creepy. She also vows to feed him with all sorts of things other than chocolates from now on.
* It is obvious that Nagata worries about Higashida-Miyakoshi relationship so Yanagiba gives some motivation to hang in there. But what worries Nagata more is the fact if her love for him works out. What will she do?!
* Tasaka and Daichi Saitou are here not to watch over Shiho but to protect Shindou if anything untoward happens. It seems Saitou knows Muranushi but she doesn’t remember him. They were classmates 10 years ago and all she remembers is how he like flipping girls’ skirts and bullying her. So one day she decided to straighten him and smiled at him. He became depressed ever since. Yeah, he still is. As Saitou is getting more dismayed, Shiho beats him up and lectures him about his place. Yes, there is a ranking chart to see who ranks where in Wagnaria. At least her bodyguards are above Shindou. Shiho is surprised that Muranushi apologizes to Saitou for whatever trouble she has caused. Saitou can’t take this anymore and runs away.
* As he bums outside expecting to be fired, here comes Shiho to mock him about his unrequited love for Muranushi and thus settling for his negative attention to torment Muranushi. Also, she won’t fire him and will place him to be always be by Muranushi’s side knowing that he would be useless around her. Enjoy the happiness and suffering of being next to her!
* Higashida is glad Valentine’s Day is over and doesn’t need to eat Miyakoshi’s chocolates anymore. However she insists he needs to eat her cooking till she becomes better. But when he claims he prefers her as the failed chef, she tells him she doesn’t need him to like her. This in turn triggers Higashida to be mad as he makes a joke (?!) and will never eat her cooking again. He no longer has to live in fear of that. He shoots back that he doesn’t want her to like him either. This leaves Miyakoshi depressed and confused.

Episode 7
* It took Kisaki for a while to recognize Saitou as he was in the same high school with her. Of course she only remembers him as being bullied.
* Saitou thinks he Adachi is a ‘comrade’ because he is also another ‘victim’ of Muranushi. Because Adachi shows restraint and denies it, Saitou calls him a traitor.
* Shindou is tired of being harassed. So desperate he is that he is begging Hime for food! Instead, Kisaki gives her lottery tickets to him. A few days later, it seems the lottery tickets hit the jackpot as well as a few consolation prizes! The prize money is enough to clear his debts and set him free! Obviously Shiho heard this and isn’t too happy. She starts crying and goes away. Don’t fall for those crocodile tears! Shindou feels bad and even more so when Kisaki asks if he would really want to end it this way. This prompts him to give back the tickets but Kisaki will not accept them back.
* Shiho is really sad and crying over this. Saiki thought he could cheer her up but his mispronunciation of ‘cheer up’ as ‘pay up’ makes her mad.
* Guilt ridden Shindou decides to give away the tickets to Kouno instead. The latter is stumped because the tickets expired a year ago! Yeah, what a coincidence the same winning numbers came out this year too.
* Shindou tries to ease Shiho’s ‘suffering’ by saying he lost his tickets. She doesn’t really believe him but to show her forgiveness, he clears part of his debt. 500 Yen discount. So cheap… Hey, any amount will do for Shindou.
* Miyakoshi still wants Higashida to eat her chocolates. He won’t. So? She threatens to beat him up. Nicely. He threatens to call the cops.
* Miyakoshi becomes desperate enough to eat her own chocolates! Yup. She’s ‘dead’. For the first time she meets St Valentine. And bullies him.
* Higashida feels Miyakoshi might die for real and there is only one way to save her: Eat her chocolates! Yeah, meet up with St Valentine again. He isn’t appreciative when St Valentine spews out his repent about trying to make him fall in love with her.
* Nagata is probably halfway trying to confess to sleeping Higashida when he wakes up. After Miyakoshi comes back too, angry Nagata lectures them for 3 hours about making her worry and recklessly using their lives like that. Wow. She’s really mad. And Miyakoshi who has never been scolded by a customer before can’t help sob all the way home.
* Not too sure if Shiho and Shindou’s relationship have improved a little because she gives him a canned food for his repentance. Hey, at least it isn’t dog food.

Episode 8
* Higashida thinks the chocolates must have damaged Miyakoshi’s brain because now she wants to date him! So she feels bad about making him eat her cooking. Like that would give him a peace of mind. And she thinks of having Kisaki as their advisor? Seriously she has never had such romance and doesn’t give a damn. Anyway she gives it a shot. Escort each other to and from work and go out to nice places. Only to Miyakoshi that sounds cool.
* Poor Nagata had to hear Higashida explain why he is dating Miyakoshi. Heartbreak? He adds it isn’t for long and they’ll soon break up. He isn’t in love with her nor hates her so they’ll break up when things get cold. Nagata chides him for his planning because at this rate he will really hurt Miyakoshi. So she is sticking up for her?
* After Nagata’s lecture, I guess Higashida takes Miyakoshi out to an arcade. She sucks in the crane game so Higashida the pro shows her how it’s done.
* On another outing, Miyakoshi this time has a handbook as recommended from Muranushi on how to date. Only this time Miyakoshi is pushing for a kiss! Instantly Higashida bolts and left her with the bill. It’s even more embarrassing when she can’t pay and had to call her mom to do so. And then a big scolding after that. Next day Higashida apologizes and pays back his due. But it gets worse when Miyakoshi wants to give him her chocolates so he quickly says goodbye.
* Miyakoshi asks Muranushi for more tips on dating. Unfortunately Muranushi has never dated before so she can’t. She suggests dating Adachi. Instantly he rejects! Oops! This has Muranushi ‘advising’ Miyakoshi that not only she lacks experience but rejected even before being asked out. So please consider Hidashida’s feelings once in a while. And Miyakoshi thinks she could cheer her up by saying to not let Adachi’s rejection get to her.
* Adachi tries to reconcile but Muranushi thinks he hates her so much that they shouldn’t talk. He is desperately enough to say he loves her. For the most part. She gets mad and wants to know the percentage of how much he loves her. You’re on your own.
* An old friend of Shindou visits. She would like to bring him a present next time. Shindou immediately hopes to get rice and salt! This is how bad his life is…
* Adachi tries to look for Muranushi but she is gone and there is only Higashida. Adachi advises him to treat girls nicely or he’ll end up a scumbag like him.
* Next time when Miyakoshi gives Higashida her chocolates, he accepts. However this one she didn’t make herself and bought from the store. Apparently it isn’t enough because she wants him to eat it right now. Of course it isn’t going to taste that bad but he thinks his taste buds have gone weird.

Episode 9
* Muranushi calls in sick. Because of that mysterious hauntings start appearing in Wagnaria like the bloodied clipboard! I think I know who’s behind this.
* Adachi is made to go visit her but at her doorstep, her little brother answers. Adachi gets scared when he hears him saying how right mom was that Adachi is to blame for Muranushi’s cold! Mother doesn’t really want to let Adachi see Muranushi in fear he might get possessed. Not her cold.
* When Muranushi allows him to enter, it is to play a prank of tripping on a wire and a basin dropping on his head. He is appalled she hasn’t gone to the hospital and mom didn’t take her because she hates such places.
* Feeling the need to do something to make her come out, Adachi asks if she would like to go out with him. Suddenly she has the strength. She collapses in his arms and can’t take it anymore. She’ll go out with him. To the hospital. And so Adachi and Muranushi are now officially dating but Kouno and Kisaki wonder if he forced himself on her.
* Poor Shindou. No money so no food. Observing Kisaki feeding Hime, he wonders if she is lactating. She gets the wrong idea he wants to drink her breast milk and beats him up. What he wanted to ask if it is a good idea to feed her daughter since she is smoking.
* Shindou is desperate enough to ask Adachi since his family runs a sushi restaurant. If he and Muranushi gets married, he hopes to get leftovers. Adachi’s hesitant answer makes Muranushi mad. Because she thinks he doesn’t want to marry her.
* It’s Yanagiba’s turn to come down with a cold. However she is staying at Wagnaria! Higashida doesn’t have the heart to kick her out but since he can’t take care of her, he has Nagata do it. Miyakoshi gladly welcomes Yanagiba’s stay since she gets to test her porridge. Not so fast…
* Yanagiba and Nagata try to communicate with Saiki whose butchered Japanese is still hopeless. They think it is to help improve his Japanese. They let him read a relationship advice column and it only reminds them of their similar unrequited love with Higashida.
* Yanagiba thinks Nagata is always coming here because Higashida tells her to. It was true at first but with him dating Miyakoshi, she now views her as a friend. They’ll still be friends no matter who he is dating. This has Yanagiba jab back this only shows how much her love for him really is. Nagata is still worried about him and would like to help make him feel better. Although we know most of his anger is usually towards Yanagiba. Maybe Nagata is also stressing herself out thinking Higashida will die over Miyakoshi’s cooking.
* Now that Yanagiba has returned to normal, Nagata caught her cold. So it is only right for her to visit her this time. Yeah, she’ll go anywhere except school.

Episode 10
* Miyakoshi’s mom got really mad when she learns her daughter and Higashida are dating but do not love each other. It’s different for Higashida’s family. They’re so happy about it that they’ve already picked a name for their child.
* Shindou notes that Shiho should just marry Saitou. They will have a family, kids, nice house and everything. Then he wishes to see that all burn down and getting torn apart! Hwahaha! Then he falls into guilt to think like that.
* This makes him think back about the time he rejected Shiho. Before that happened, his friends were teasing him and his dad was shamelessly trying to borrow money from his friends! He even wanted him to marry Shiho to solve his debt problems. So when Shiho popped the question, he was thinking of how despicable dad’s behaviour was and blurted out no. Of course that affected Shiho very much and the rest was history.
* Now he regrets saying that. So he is bugging Kisaki and telling her his problems? You want a solution? She suggests calling her without honorifics. Of course that didn’t work and he got beaten up and nearly died. That was Kisaki’s way to mess with him and get him off her back.
* Because of that, Shiho is in a bad mood. Tasaka and Saitou know something is wrong and have to fix this. They talk to Shindou to ask him to talk to Shiho. He better do it or else if her father finds out, all of them will die!
* Part of the plan is for Shindou to act as his previous tough self. They use Shiho’s beat down as excuse for him to revert to his old personality. Shiho is upset as his tough talking persona and doesn’t believe a person can change personality after a mere beat down. But when Higashida relates about Miyakoshi’s chocolates, maybe this is real?
* Shindou continues to do the tough talking as she quietly listens. When he gets rough at her, he finds pleasure in this sadism. He thought this might be a trap but Shiho looks afraid and weak! For real?! Shiho starts crying that she prefers spending time with the old him when he didn’t treat her like a rich girl. Then he changed and started avoiding and hating her like everyone else. She bullied him because she wanted him to change back. But nothing changed. Shindou becomes a smooth talker and promises things will get back to normal after his debts are cleared. He is about to kiss her but Saitou beats him up for going too far. I guess this is where it ends.
* A few days later, Shindou continues to regret what he has done but is thankful he is still alive. He can’t help think that any choice he chooses will end up in his death. Even the matter of calling her name has become a life and death matter. If money can only solve it… He had to bug Kisaki again so she points out the root of this problem who is no other than his dad. But easier said than done because he disappeared a long time ago.
* Funny how fate works because on the way home he bumps into his dad! He beats him up for the trouble he has caused. Realizing he has not changed a bit (because he is still thinking about him marrying Shiho and thus everyone wins), Shindou tells him to get lost. He’s done. But come home because mom has been worried sick.

Episode 11
* Miyakoshi is such a noob in dating that she is bugging Muranushi for advice. Even when pointed out how should she feel if he is seen talking to another woman (which is right now), Miyakoshi’s reply is that it is rude for him not to seat the customer! Yup. And you wonder why they are going nowhere.
* Suddenly Miyakoshi tells Higashida that she is going to stay at his place tomorrow for a night! Guess what? His parents suddenly won a trip and his sister will be having a sleepover study session at her friend’s place. Home alone with Miyakoshi! That is what he is scared of!
* But you know what is scarier? Miyakoshi saying she is going to eat her own chocolates to go ask St Valentine for advice! Is she toying with her own life?! She instantly ‘dies’ and St Valentine isn’t too happy to see her. Yup, the same abuses. He can’t give her any advice on love. Disappointed?
* Miyakoshi gets the scare of her life when Higashida is also here. She thinks he ate the chocolates from her mouth and thus a kiss. She feels so bad that she wants to eat her own chocolates and die. Uhm, aren’t they already ‘dead’?
* When Higashida wakes up, he notices she is gone. She must have gone home herself. His sister comes in and mentions seeing Miyakoshi in tears running out of the house. This doesn’t look good…
* And so guilt ridden Miyakoshi bugs Muranushi but she slips away and leave it to Shiho. Miyakoshi asks about first kiss. Shiho flusters like hell. It gets worse for Miyakoshi since Shiho says she is keeping it for someone special.
* When Higashida comes to apologize, Miyakoshi gets the wrong idea thinking it was the kiss when it is actually the chocolates he meant. Apparently he didn’t eat the chocolate from her mouth as he kept previous leftovers. Yeah, it came in handy at times like these.
* Miyakoshi thinks about it and can’t let her mom worry since this is between her and Higashida. So she needs to settle this. Why does she look menacing like she is going to beat him up? It’s payback time? Suddenly she apologizes and gives him her savings book. Too bad she forgot her PIN (actually it is on the front cover itself). Higashida realizes the misunderstanding but won’t say anything to correct her since he loves to see her apologize sincerely. But he has to cut it short since it is getting too dangerous when she goes overboard. She finally learns the truth but still decides to compensate by treating him. Shocking, eh?
* Higashida realizes the dilemma of letting her keep the savings book since there is a high chance this idiot might lose it but it is not right for him to keep it too. So he gives it to her mom but she gets the wrong idea when Miyakoshi mentions it was supposed to be his compensation but he wouldn’t take it.

Episode 12
* Higashida wonders if Wagnaria is going to be alright. Because everyone seems to have problems. Shindou worried about his dad, Shiho talking about organs, Adachi looking depressed and only worsens when Miyakoshi with that dumb look apologizes to him because now she feels better after he let her feelings known to Higashida.
* Shiho is talking about organs because she wants to know how many organs can a man live without. Because she wants to harvest them and clear somebody’s debts! Will Saitou be kind to donate his?
* Because Adachi continues to be depressed, Muranushi invites him to her house. So what does it imply when a girl does that when her parents aren’t home? You talk about breaking up! Expecting something romantic, weren’t you? It makes sense because you can’t be talking about breaking up in public, would you?
* Adachi expresses he doesn’t want to break up with her and reveals that misunderstood situation where he saw Miyakoshi on top of Higashida. This makes Muranushi smile and laugh that he was concerned over such trivial matters. But wait. Her smile doesn’t scare him. Could it be he finds it exciting now?
* As Adachi leaves, he quickly pulls Muranushi close to him and kisses her! She quickly slams the door. Next day, he thinks she is going to kill him because she has a knife in hand!
* Guess what Saitou has brought in? Shindou’s dad! He caught him at the pachinko! This makes Shiho draw her sword at Shindou. If he knew the whereabouts of the real debtor, why did he stay silent? He can’t abandon his family even if he is useless. This makes her heart skip. Although, she thinks a little sacrifice is acceptable.
* She is further impressed with him and will abandon her own family to be with him. Saitou is worried because her father will kill him. She suggests bringing Shindou’s dad home instead. In one fell swoop, that is how she ‘killed’ those 3 guys.
* Higashida has to mediate for Shiho’s case. He asks her to go back and think about it as her dad has taken care of her all the while. Too bad she has given all her cash and credit card to Saitou and can’t receive money anymore. As she has run away from home, she is now living at Wagnaria. Shindou can’t bring her to his poor family or he’ll be killed. So he is going to live here with her?
* Saitou manages to come back alive. Shiho’s father would have wanted to kill him had not he used Shiho’s whereabouts as his insurance. He also brought Shindou’s dad to him and he got an 8 hour lecture. From the way he says his fate, Shindou thinks his dad was thrown into the sea.
* Shiho has no idea what to do. Thinking that there is nothing between them now, she confesses to him like old times. He finds her cute when she is not sadistic and hugs her. He then pushes her down but his common sense prevails. But Shiho wants him to show further proof of his love. He just pecks her forehead. They can do the rest when everything is settled. She is further awed and continues to fall for him. But he is scared of the kinder Shiho and prefers her to dominate over him?! So used to being a masochist, eh?
* Saitou brings Shindou’s dad in. He’s not dead by the way. It seems dad found his calling as a fisherman and hauled up a fortune enough to cover almost all his debts. Unfortunately he wastes it all on horse racing. He won enough to cover all that is owed. Then he blows it all in pachinko. You can’t blame Shindou for punching him. Twice. He wants to borrow Shiho’s sword to finish him off. But Shiho is so impressed that he is trying to settle this for their future that she grows flowers on her head?
* Finally Higashida finally asks what is bothering Miyakoshi. She wonders if St Valentine will be alone without them. He assures not to worry about him so she thinks she can be Higashida’s life saver if her cooking improves.

Episode 13
* Higashida dreams of St Valentine saying goodbye. Does this means he won’t appear anymore? Miyakoshi is worried this means they can’t come back from the other side. Thinking of dying again? Somehow she is motivated to cook more. She is serious and you can see the real motivation in her eyes. This makes Higashida worried since she feels responsible for making him her taste tester.
* One day she comes in lifeless. Something is wrong. When he walks her home, he finds a dark aura coming out from her house! All she did was cooking, right? I don’t even begin how to explain the filth and mess just from it. Miyakoshi is really sorry and repentant she sucks this much. She considers herself a failure as a cook and human being. Since this cooking is so much worse, it makes the chocolates seem better. She assumes this will be the last time and wants him to take a last bite so they can say goodbye to St Valentine.
* Despite the chocolates taste bad, he didn’t die. This is when St Valentine descends on them. Wait a minute. Maybe they are already dead! Just kidding. St Valentine came to their world just to tell them that their mutual thoughtfulness has brought about a miracle. Now they don’t have to put their lives in danger and cross over to this side. He gives Miyakoshi his last advice: Just stop cooking.
* 6 months later, Miyakoshi has grown her hair long since Higashida says he prefers it. Nagata on the other hand has cut hers short. It’s her way of giving up? I guess it will be less confusing the next time if she falls in love again. Yanagiba views her as such a great friend that she has decided to give up on going to school forever.
* Shindou is working at some construction job and Shiho is really treating him super nice. It’s like she is already his wife (she has since returned to her home). They could have gotten a bit romantic if not for the bodyguards firing a warning shot to remind him to get back to work. This prompts Shiho to note that money is fated to keep them apart. He counters it by saying it was money that brought them together! So cool!
* Adachi talks to Muranushi during her break time that he is going to quit and go work in his family sushi restaurant. The more he talks, the more knives she puts on the table! Before she takes it as a sign he doesn’t want to see her, he invites her to come work with him. He would love to keep continuing be with her. She goes blank for a while but notices he is nervous while saying this. And also missed her chance to blush. She hugs him agrees. Her smile doesn’t scare him anymore. Now to go tell Sakaki about quitting…
* Kisaki seems to be teaching Hime about money. Yeah, she’s flaunting it at Sakaki. Kisaki shocks him by doing her job for the first time. But she leaves Hime in his care.
* Miyakoshi has finally cooked! Instant noodles! Higashida comes in and drops the bombshell. Let’s break up. WTF?! While he puts on his usual poker face, Miyakoshi goes through a lot of emotions. She ultimately blames herself for turning him like this.
* Once that is done, Higashida drops another bombshell: Please go out with him. Apparently their first date was based on the understanding to improve her deadly cooking. Now that is done with, he wants to start anew. Is Miyakoshi happy or embarrassed that he loves looking at her depressed face? He explains he found it a waste of time about her cooking mishap but that slowly turned into amusement. He finds it funny she getting flustered and embarrassed. He might not be able to say he loves her but he doesn’t want any other guy to have her. Happy Miyakoshi gets motivated to work and bring his smile back.

Please Take Your Job Seriously
I have to admit that this spin-off sequel hardly made any impact on me. I find it hard to view it better than the original or worse off. On par then? As because this is basically a gag anime, the style of jokes and how everything plays out to the interaction of the characters have this very familiar feel. It doesn’t break any new grounds. Therefore once you get to know the characters’ personality and traits, it is more of recycling the same gag again and again. Like how people who ‘died’ eating Miyakoshi’s chocolates will go visit St Valentine. Higashida must be his frequent customer at this rate. Miyakoshi doesn’t learn and tries her cooking again another time. Hence it is hardly exciting because it feels familiar but in a different form. In this case, the characters. Because with them being so wacky with their own personal issues and drama, you hardly see them do their waiting job properly. I wonder if this is the curse of Wagnaria.

Of course the final episode tries to show us that there are changes and ‘development’ among the characters when they make a u-turn from all the running jokes that we have we spammed with to give the characters a new direction and a breath of light. No more death defying cooking from Miyakoshi, no more pitiful bully victim from Shindou, Shiho’s an angel, Saiki’s Japanese has improved a lot although some accent still remain, Adachi and Muranushi quitting and even the unexpected lazy Kisaki starts to get her ass moving and do some real job. Heck, even that grandpa ghost that patrons Wagnaria for Muranushi has even passed over peacefully. So instead of blaming the characters for being stale and being predictably the same from start to finish, I figure that is why the ‘changes’ for a somewhat feel good ending and throw us a bit off our balance. I mean, we’d be downright annoyed to see the tiring punch line of Miyakoshi poisoning Higashida with her poison cooking as the final scene to end the series, right? I guess the only one who didn’t really change is Yanagiba who still refuses to go to school. Some things never change.

Speaking of the characters, they might be new faces but if you have seen the previous seasons of Working!!, you can tell that they are just a different reincarnation of those characters. Just mix up their personality and their physical outlook and voila! You have a bunch of new characters. I am very sure veteran viewers would start to compare the old and new characters like how I did. Like Higashida is similar to Takanashi but without glasses and without all that liveliness. Instead, the broodiness of Satou is now in him. The lively idiot who was Yamada is now in Miyakoshi. She was also Wagnaria’s eternal freeloader (one who stays there) and she is replaced with Yanagiba (though she doesn’t stay, she can be viewed as one as she eternally hangs out here) and for a very short while, Shiho. The lazy Kyouko is now replaced with slacking Kisaki and Kyouko’s lack of facial expression goes to Muranushi. Though, both the managers remains useless and powerless. I can’t say Adachi and Kouno are clones of Satou and Souma as they are more toned down. Remember Yachiyo always holding a sword? It’s Shiho’s turn now. Remember Taneshima as the cute little thing? Yeah, we have Hime, St Valentine and the raccoon now. As for the physical looks, Miyakoshi looks a lot like Inami and Shindou looks like Satou’s long lost brother. I could go on with the list but I think you get the point.

Thus the new characters they may be charming and cute in their own way, they fail to somewhat resonate in me because like I have already said, they are just a new look for something familiar we know. Despite having slightly more characters than its predecessor, some characters feel like they do not really make an impact like Sakaki whose presence is so scarce that it is hard to remember this guy has ever existed. I don’t know, are managers of Wagnaria lack any iron will? Kisaki also doesn’t feel like anything impactful because she just slacks, smokes her cigarette and watches over Hime. Even the newest guy Saiki isn’t anything more as he becomes Kisaki’s gopher and is reduced to a comic relief whenever a joke needs to be done in language barriers. Because Kouno doesn’t do pranks or have an evil heart like Souma, his limited jokes makes him feel irrelevant and boring.

Then there is Yanagiba who has completely made Wagnaria as her home and Nagata’s one-sided crush to add some little drama but hardly impacted anything. Saitou also has his one-sided crush on Muranushi but that feels irrelevant too since I see his job as mainly to prevent Shiho from going berserk with her sword on Shindou. Others side family characters like the carefree family of Higashida (if only real life everybody was this happy), Muranushi’s exorcist mom, Miyakoshi’s professional chef mom and Shindou’s gambler dad add a little colour and variety but hardly memorable in the long run. But in a way it won’t be fair to compare these characters to the original since the predecessor had 3 seasons to flesh things out. Thus if Higashida’s quirky family isn’t memorable compared to Takahashi’s sisters and mom, a single season here proves that minor characters like them need more screen time to capture the viewers’ hearts. I wonder if Higashida’s dad has already found a job because otherwise why would his son continue to work at Wagnaria… Or maybe Higashida has some sort of motivation to stay this long as a part timer? I can only think of a killer cook…

So I can greatly theorize that the reasons why some characters aren’t prominent and not impactful is because the series is trying to focus on the 3 pairs of couples: Higashida-Miyakoshi, Shindou-Shiho and Adachi-Muranushi. That is way these pairs get so much screen time played out between them and sometimes the joke repeats itself and drags out so long that it gets a bit boring. At least the romance got somewhere even though it is just by a bit. Better than Takanashi being a punching bag for Inami, right? You know it will be the running joke of the series when Miyakoshi’s cooking is so bad that it kills and over the series she tries to improve on it but only makes it worse before finally giving it up completely in the end. Good riddance? Then we have Higashida who is trying to tolerate her behaviour just because he can’t be the bad guy and become a full blown jerk. It is supposed to be another running gag as he makes his comebacks against the idiot but it becomes annoying after a while to see them interact. Did all those poison cooking turned him into a masochist and fall in love with her? Ah yes, perseverance pays off. If you don’t succeed at first, try and try again. Because a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. Oh Miyakoshi you sly girl…

But the character that really made me ‘feel’ the most and having the most ‘impact’ on me is Shiho. Surprised? Well actually, at first she started out looking cute and all. But slowly when she starts showing her true colours of being a sadist over Shindou. I really didn’t like her being a bully over Shindou even if it was for comedic and character development purposes. She was fast becoming the most hated character in the series in my books. Sure, she might be acting tough in hopes that guy would go back to his original roots whatsoever. But I can’t really stand the way she asserts her dominating personality over what is clearly a very pitiful guy in very dire circumstances. Reminds me of today’s feminism… Therefore I want to say that I admire Shindou for being a strong dude who has to be strong and tolerate her bullying but then again I keep thinking he might just be a masochistic idiot despite crying in our faces each time he faces Shiho’s cruelty. Even if Shiho did change for the better in the end, the damage was done. I just couldn’t see her in a new light. That flower-popping-on-her-head girl thingy feels so fake and artificial.

So the only couple that really made a big leap in terms of advancement (if I should call it that) is Adachi-Muranushi pair. Again, there is this running gag of Adachi being fearful of Muranushi because he once saw her scary smile. He tries to avoid her, she tries to understand, they meet, it usually doesn’t go well, sometimes it ends with misunderstanding, usually Adachi is left feeling with more depression or regret, repeat cycle. They are the only couple who kissed for real and officially dating (the other 2 pairs only got it going for real towards the very end). Sure, you can argue that Shindou and Shiho have that childhood promise but it wasn’t anything officially and they’ve been dragging this issue with lots of assumption for years. With Shiho always at the edge of turning into a yandere, do you think real love existed in the early parts for them? Higashida and Miyakoshi may have dated but everything about their relationship is so artificial since cooking was the main factor for them to see each other. Therefore it makes Adachi and Muranushi being the most realistic even if it by means still a long way to go.

It might be a no brainer for me to say but the artwork and animation style remains very close and similar to its predecessor since it is done by the same production company, A-1 Pictures. That is why I have said before some of the characters look similar. With everything in bright colours and looking almost cute, it might look like a show for younger audiences but I doubt it would be once you get to know Shiho’s behaviour. And Kisaki smoking on TV is bad for kids, right?

Yuuichi Nakamura fits as Higashida since I have this stereotype view on his voice playing characters who get mad like Gray in Fairy Tail and Kyousuke in OreImo. Well, he certainly didn’t blow his top as much as his other character roles but I always have this feel that he might just go into that outburst. Great emotional control? On the other hand, Haruka Tomatsu is recognizable as the lively idiot Miyakoshi because she sounds like her other similar character roles like Punch Line’s Rabura. Also recognizable was Sayaka Ohara as Muranushi’s mom. It was shocking to learn that Nana Mizuki was behind Kisaki’s voice. I would never imagine it was her. She sounded so different. I think. And Youko Hikasa was behind Muranushi?

For the rest of the casts, they are Kensho Ono as Shindou (Hakuryuu in Magi), Sora Amamiya as Shiho (Akame in Akame Ga Kill), Kouki Uchiyama as Adachi (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Hiro Shimono as Kouno (Keima in The World God Only Knows), Momo Asakura as Yanagiba (Ayumi in Charlotte), Ari Ozawa as Nagata (Sakura in Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun), Souma Saitou as Saitou (Kain in Kyoukai No Rinne), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Tasaka (Andre in Prison School), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Saiki (Rom in Show By Rock), Kousuki Toriumi as Sakaki (Cecil in Uta No Prince-sama series) and Hideyuki Umezu as St Valentine (Akadama in Uchouten Kazoku).

The opening and ending themes have that familiar ring to the themes in the previous seasons of Working!! Eyecatch! Too Much as the opener by the trio of Miyakoshi, Muranushi and Shiho has this very familiar vibe to the cute and lively openers that you have heard in this series. Like as though it is just a variant of it. But we wouldn’t mind it since we’ll be distracted with all the wackiness and catchiness. The ending theme is where the guys show their singing chops just like in previous seasons. Muchuuryoku Fever by the trio of Higashida, Adachi and Shindou have this fun carnival feel to it. The final episode is a variant with the aforementioned female trio joining in for one big group song.

This might be trivial for me to bring up at this point but when I first heard about this sequel spinoff, I was expecting the series to take place online looking from the title. You know, maybe a virtual café or something? Maybe that is why I didn’t feel any excitement since there are no online elements as the place is the same ol’ Wagnaria. Maybe WWW is actually the visual representation of the heartbeat rate of Higashida as he has to deal with Miyakoshi’s poison and the weirdoes in his workplace. Really. So far so good for him, right? He died many times and came back alive. He also had to put up with lots of workplace drama. His family is sh*t. And here he is still maintaining his sanity. And I thought only the internet can screw you over in such a short amount of time.

Overall, not really a bad anime per se but it wasn’t anything exciting to me either. Same style of jokes and setting in the form of new characters might be able to fool new anime viewers who are too lazy to go back and watch the original Working!! series. It is still entertaining and cute if you look at it as a series on its own but older viewers cannot help but keep comparing it to the original because of so many similarities. Different but it’s same yet different and similar. Yeah, it’s confusing. You don’t know whether to like it or to call it crap and be disappointed. It’s like you ordered normal fried rice but they brought out paella instead. Or maybe they just messed up your order.

New Game OVA

June 16, 2017

I guess to remind others that there is another season for the series, hence New Game OVA is released in conjunction with that. Oh heck, maybe it is to milk more money to get fans to buy and complete the collection of the series with this unaired thirteenth episode. Make that a hotspring unaired thirteenth episode. What does a group of game designing girls has got to do with hotspring anyway? Who cares? Sometimes geek girls need to show off their natural assets and let some steam lose once in a while.

My first company trip…
As reward for recently completing their recent project, the designing department gets to go on a company trip to a ski resort. However Aoba has fears of skiing because she flopped badly when she was young. So the next morning when Hajime is looking forward for the gang to ski, Aoba opted to stay back in the hotel. However Kou also wants to stay out. They notice something isn’t right with her so Rin takes Kou back. Turns out she is sick so she can’t join them. Aoba wonders if she should still go skiing and that is when Hifumi offers to teach her. Can she finish her bread first before saying that? The quartet are geared up to start skiing. But Umiko is here too. Her programming team is here doing a survival game. Care to join them? No thanks… Suddenly skiing seems to be a better option, no, Aoba? At first Aoba is panicky, worried she will fail just like in her dreams. But when she realizes she is alright, she overcomes her trauma and is happy skiing with Hifumi. She’s doing pretty alright. After all that cold outdoor activity, it’s time to hit the warm relaxing baths. Read: Fanservice. So we have them stay in the sauna. Oddly, Aoba seems to be a sadist because she made a mini snowman and then lets it melt in the sauna! Then there is the outdoor hotspring which is supposed to be the main fanservice draw. Don’t hold your breath… Anyway, we see Aoba again being a snowman killer because she ‘interrogates’ it and lets it melt in the hotspring! WHAT DOES SHE HAVE AGAINST SNOWMEN???!!! And she isn’t even drunk! Well, Hifumi is a little and wants Aoba to join her but Aoba declines since she doesn’t drink and still underage. Yeah, thank goodness. Who knows how many snowmen she’ll start killing. On the other hand, Kou has recovered and goes drinking with Rin and Umiko. Umiko shows her unruly side when she gets drunk. Yeah, threatening the oyster with her gun when it doesn’t open up? As everyone turns in for the night, Aoba feels her first company trip was a lot of fun. The gang hopes to do it again. Well, after you have completed your next project, we’ll cross the bridge when we get there. Aoba hopes Nene could come the next time. Speaking of her, she is having her own fun of soaking in her own bathtub. Who says you can’t be together and still not have fun?

Drunk Women And Snowman Killer…
Sighs… Didn’t feel like anything much. Just the gang frolicking around and having fun. Uh huh. That’s what they’re supposed to do, right? They’re not supposed to go overboard when relaxing. But then again, I shouldn’t have placed such high expectations on the OVA in the first place. What was I thinking? Even the fanservice feels like a bit of a let-down. Yeah… No bare tits. Okay. So we want to make this series clean. Showing some skin and cleavage are acceptable. So going a bit too far to see real tits might be crossing the line, going overboard and too shocking especially for the kind of series New Game is supposed to be. So the only amusing thing that broke the monotony of it all is Aoba’s shocking side of torturing poor cute little snowmen. Although it is not that bad, it is a side of her that you don’t normally expect. It goes to show behind that cute innocent face lies a much crueller sadist that is bursting to get out when given the chance. Oh, how I would love to see such twist and conspiracy theory playing out in the next season. But then again, I should keep in mind what this series is supposed to be really about. Aoba designing secret animations of NPCs dying and getting tortured… Woah. That game I would want to buy.

Oshiete! Galko-chan OVA

April 28, 2017

Got more puberty questions that you want to ask or seek to know? Don’t worry. Because there is more. At least one more episode. Oshiete! Galko-chan OVA is back to answer some of those questions that you are too shy to ask an adult, confide in your best friend, consult an expert or just too lazy to just Google or post it on Yahoo Answers. I guess with so many such questions, thus the OVA blows up to quadruple the running time of the TV series. Yup, 28 minutes! Get your pen and paper ready just in case…

Is Summer Vacation Real?
* A young girl is watching a movie (magical girl with glasses?) as she notices Galko enter. She has her own stereotype of this b*tch that she won’t understand this kind of movie. At the end, she thought she had fallen asleep but Galko is actually crying in deep tears! So amazing?! Such deep meaning. Little girl had to offer her tissue…
* A librarian notices Otako often borrowing books. He notes the usual subjects she reads like history. This makes him wonder if she has any friends. Then he sees a book on the topic of sex jokes. Maybe this is to tell some jokes to her friends?
* Galko is taking medication for her constipation. She thinks it is making her stomach stick out so she wears her old school uniform to hide it. The buttons come bursting out. I think it is because of her boobs… Then as she tries to eat spicy ramen, that is when she needs to go to the toilet. At this moment? After letting it all out, she finishes and enjoys the ramen.
* Otako texts Galko the need to work out her abs to help with her constipation. She tries sit-ups and the key is to lift enough till she can see her tummy. She can’t. Damn those boobs blocking!
* Galko is doing pedicure and painting her toenails when the delivery rings at her doorstep. This means she has to crawl all the way to the doorstep and the delivery guy is surprised to see this awkward scene. Like porn scene? Galko is glad to receive swabs that clean her belly button.
* Galko hangs out with Otako eating pizza. The latter explains how pepperoni pizza sometimes is a slang for big tits. But she quips Galko’s would be Morteau sausages. Too bad she doesn’t know what that kind of sausage is. This has Galko wonder why boys do not care about their own nipples.
* Galko wonders if both people wearing glasses will have difficulty kissing each other. They try testing it out but it got awkward so they drop it.
* They note Ojou is away for a family holiday. But they got a postcard from her from the North Pole. Do they have post offices there?
* Charao and his friends hang out together. A girl notices how close they are and starts fantasizing.
* Nikuko plays indoor football. Her opponents look down on her because she is fat. However Nikuko is able to move fast and scores! Sonic Meat?! Galko notes how some people who are big and fat are still fast. Just like hippos in real life. In fact, hippos are fast in real life too.

* Galko and Otako are invited to Ojou’s piano recital. When they show the invitation card, the receptionist suddenly calls the agents who then escort them to their seats. VIP treatment? As they watch Ojou play, she is sparkling with magic!
* The trio then have lunch together and Ojou calls curry udon. The rest wonder if this would ruin her beautiful dress. However she is eating quietly and with elegance. Magic sparkles too!
* Otako’s brother visits the shrine supposedly the area where some mecha movie he liked was filmed. He walks around but trips, exposing all the porn magazines in his bag. The miko priestess who is Galko’s sister, picks them all up for him. She isn’t offended since there are no pictures of penis or vagina.
* Agemi thinks Iinchou is the kind who doesn’t do homework and instead reads other books. Looking at the thick book she is reading she thinks smart people like her are on a different level. Iinchou was actually looking for a photo about World Heritage sites.
* Okako is on a journey trying to find out more about the occult. It leads her to a normal shrine. Nothing happening till she sees some muscle skull doll. She gets inspiration and plays rock music?!
* Charao’s girlfriend is at the lingerie store thinking she needs to take their relationship to the next level after Charao was bold enough to bring a condom. She is shocked at all the skimpy lingerie and the last person whom she want to meet, her sister is there doing her own lingerie research.
* Galko’s group, Iinchou’s group and Okako’s group all happen to bump into each other at the same time outside the karaoke box. They all go karaoke together. The more the merrier. You’d be surprise the types of songs some can sing.
* Kuseta is at a service and told to stop playing his handphone game although what he got was just a message. As he excuses himself, he trips and bruises his knee. Galko is there to help apply disinfection. When he tells her about the lecture he just got, she says adults too didn’t like getting lectured when they were kids. This makes Kuseta feel that he dislikes adults treating him like a kid (isn’t he one?) but if he is going to grow up to become that kind of adult, he doesn’t want to become an adult at all. Galko hugs him and hopes he won’t forget those feelings today. I think it would be extra memorable since the wind blows up Galko’s skirt. Yup. Definitely remembering today.
* Galko and friends go to bed excited about starting a new school term tomorrow. They look forward to talk with each other.

Is It True That Every Girl’s Dream Isn’t To Find The Perfect Guy But To Eat Without Getting Fat?
Safe to say that even after watching this OVA, I still won’t understand how girls think! Not in the most precise manner at least. I bet it is the same for every guy. So this OVA doesn’t really give much of an insight to the trouble of puberty and are more like short skits complied into one long episode. It is still entertaining nevertheless but if you are looking for some sort of lesson to learn, start looking elsewhere. I mean, we just learnt that we guys can’t understand girls, right? Please don’t kill me.

If you are familiar with the characters in the TV series, you would feel at home in this OVA since they are mostly relatively the same character as they are. Therefore don’t go judging these girls by their looks because Galko isn’t certainly a tanned blonde busty bimbo or Otako isn’t a nerdy loner or Ojou who isn’t just an airhead rich girl but possessing many talents. The other supporting characters also make their cameo but it feels they are just for slight distraction and little variety rather than anything that has a direct bearing on the overall. After all, this series isn’t just about the main trio and the other supporting characters are like other stereotypes you would find in your life.

The human mind and culture throughout history is a very weird and mysterious subject. There is nothing specific to define or studies that would have one glove size that fits all. Different people have different opinions based on the input they get and the environment they grew up in or influenced. So we might have stuck to the wrong perception of things for the rest of our entire lives. Like how Disney movies keep giving girls unrealistic expectations about dreams. Or how porn gives guys unrealistic ideas on what a girl really wants. Don’t worry, as long as we’re learning. Are we? Or do we need Galko to come teach us some?

Yuyushiki Special

April 21, 2017

Hold on a second. I thought this series was dead? So when Yuyushiki Special came out in early 2017, I was really surprised because it has always been almost 4 years since the TV series ended. And with not a very good impression on me since all I remember was the boredom in sitting through the dozen episodes. Then they come out with this special like as though they want me to remember the boredom back then with another new episode of boringness. Of course I have the option of not watching it but what to do? My nostalgia sensors were ringing (even if it was for the wrong reasons) so I can’t let this slip by. Maybe things have changed. Maybe the jokes are better. Maybe I should give this a chance. A few minutes watching into the special and then I saw the title of the episode… Too late… Having that sinking feeling now…

Annoying Someone And Being Annoyed By Someone
* Yuzuko always wanted to shout “I love you” to Yui. Yukari? Soak in a bathtub with her school uniform. Yui? Eat sukiyaki. With her clothes on of course.
* They email a photo of Yukari riding Yuzuko like a horse. Its caption reads “Driving without a licence”. Do you learn how to drive like this at the driving school?
* Yui talks to Yukari about how some people’s hands go up when they try to explain. Yukari falls for this trick so Yuzuko takes advantage by hanging her bag over them.
* Yuzuko is hungry and wants Yui to get her something to eat. She’s not saying what so Yui had to guess. She came with all the correct food. Maybe she’ll just eat anything.
* Yuzuko tricks her friends into making them think she has caught a bug with a handkerchief. No bug! Oh, but there is. It is squished dead.
* Yuzuko feels like kicking Yui. But Yukari softly kicks her leg but her own leg is in pain? Is she trolling us? Yui is annoyed by this but as Yuzuko says, if they don’t annoy her, they will have to annoy Aizawa! Yui in that case would prefer to be annoyed then. Though, Aizawa wouldn’t mind being annoyed. Are you annoyed? Because of that, Yuzuko will continue annoying her like a fan. Is this domestic violence?
* They later look up its definition. The duo try to follow its definition by messing around and annoying her but without bad intentions and then also making up for it. I think blowing your warm breath doesn’t quite cut it.
* Aizawa is afraid to come into the club since Yuzuko is fiercely denouncing the person outside as the enemy. Bread faction? When she does come in, she is made to sit on Yui’s chair. Okaasan comes in to talk with Aizawa. This prompts Yuzuko to have Aizawa call Okaasan her mom. Because Yuzuko likes the sound of it.
* They ask how Okano became friends with Aizawa. Because she is cute. How about Hasegawa for Okano? Because she seems pitiful.
* Yuzuko wants to clean Yui’s ear. However she would rather have a curry party than that. The duo agree to that although they would still want to clean her ears.
* Yuzuko tricks Yui into doing some finger hook thingy. Yukari can’t help laugh her ass off.
* Next month is Yukari’s birthday but Yuzuko is already asking what to do for her birthday next year. Again Yukari can’t stop laughing.
* They discuss about the definition for the idiom ‘there is no way of knowing what is in the demon’s jar’ (impossible to predict the future) and come up with all sorts of silly ideas on what is in it.
* Yuzuko suggests going on a trip and making a memorable one. Of course by that she means Yui will have to take care of everything. Can’t Yui have fun like them too? Isn’t watching them have fun good enough? They thought it was her only source of happiness! You kidding her?
* Yuzuko wants to take a bath and say “Choo Choo!”. Yui thought her parents would be worried if she said that but nothing would be more worrisome if she said, “I wanna die!”. As the friends leave, Yuzuko just wants everyone to say “Choo Choo!” when they go to the bath for the sake of world peace. Peace is never having her annoy me again. And they quietly enjoy a nice hot bath.

Being Annoyed Bored To Death…
Just as I feared. The special wasn’t anything special. It was still as boring as hell. Sure, I did quip at the few silly jokes (bad enough that it had to be funny) but that wasn’t enough to label this special any better than the TV series. It is sad that because my overall sentiments for the TV series were already low, that mentality will be stuck with me for the rest of my life and thus the special will have to do way better than this if they really want my opinion of the series to change. For instance, it would have been way better and more interesting if this special actually come to realize that conspiracy theory that I mentioned in my previous blog on how Yui’s friends are just imaginary friends! Oh yeah. Imagine how shocking that would be. I would have understood why it didn’t turn out so but now I wished it would even if it was a lie. All for the sake of being entertained!

There is nothing more for me to comment on as the characters remain the same from what I remembered. Yuzuko is the main troublemaker and the crazy oddball as well as Yukari as her accomplice. They are supposed to be the idiots that make the series funny. Yui on the other hand is supposed to play the straight (wo)man and for most of the time have this annoyed looks on her face. I understand it can really get to you when you have such annoyed friends. Is it me or is Yukari breaking out laughing a lot here? Is this some sort of conditioning to tell us it is funny and make us laugh? I know I didn’t. Because it’s like saying Yuzuko is an idiot. Whatever she does, you must laugh. Not funny. Just annoying. Other characters like Okaasan, Aizawa and co make their cameo appearances that didn’t amount to anything much so that we could remember this series is more than just about the trio.

Overall, if this special was to rekindle any sentiments for fans of the series and perhaps to make another comeback and a sequel, it certainly didn’t work for me. It still felt boring and despite a 27 minute of running time, it felt like I sat there for an hour. Maybe I’m so bored that I am already going crazy. Just like how Yuzuko is a reminder that inside everyone one of us, we have a crazy side making us say and do crazy things. That’s why I hope I can leave this series behind in peace by saying “Choo Choo!” once it is done. CHOO CHOO!

New Game

January 14, 2017

We have gone behind the scenes on how your weekly manga magazine is published. Then we have gone behind the scenes for a comprehensive understanding on how anime is produced (and scared the hell out of us lazybones who thought animes were easy). Then there are a few seemingly behind the scenes or the lives of seiyuus wannabes. And now it is time to come full circle to complete Japan’s famous modern age pop culture and exports: Video games. Ah yes. Would you like to know the workings behind a video game company? Then New Game might be the anime to watch if you are interested in becoming a programmer or designer of your own game. Well, at least that was what I thought at first. Because you know how games are usually marketed greatly with all that hype till the real deal comes out? Yeah… Now, I’m not going to spoil anything for now for this anime but this anime more of revolves around a group of girls working in a video game company and their antics/obstacles they face at work. Sort of.

Episode 1
Aoba Suzukaze just graduated from high school as she is eager to start her first day at work at a game company, Eagle Jump as a graphics designer. She is nervous but meets art director, Rin Toyama. Taking her work station for the first time, Aoba thought she heard a monster but it is Kou Yagami sleeping in her panties! Rin introduces her as they try to guess each other’s age. You know how animes screw up our perception of a character’s age, right? Aoba learns that Kou is the character design of her all time favourite game, Fairies Story. This makes Kou her boss now. After Aoba is introduced to the other staff, it seems it isn’t so well for the rest of her team members. They act funny and seemingly ignore her. Even when she introduced herself to Hifumi Takimoto, she didn’t respond. Aoba also sees a fat cat, Mozuku that belongs to the game director, Shizuku Hadzuki. She brings it to work since it is bored and might stir up trouble at home. Hadzuki is so laid back that her assistant, Umiko has to shoot BB pellets and take her away to remind her the meeting is starting. Aoba returns to work and it seems Hifumi converses with her via instant messaging. She isn’t good at talking and this is the best way she can converse. As Aoba has little knowledge on 3D programming, Kou gives her a thick textbook to read. You’re on your own. Seriously?! But with Hifumi’s help, Aoba manages to get by. During lunch time, the other team members are shy in trying to get Aoba to go out lunch with them. Eventually Hajime Shinoda asks her. But Hifumi declines to join them as she has never gone out to lunch with anyone. So Aoba joins Hajime and Yun Iijima for lunch. Back to work, Aoba needs to go to the toilet when Kou sees her sitting by the hallway depressed. Because she lacks an ID, she can’t enter certain rooms. Kou is quick to blame Rin for not processing an ID card for her but gets shot back when she was supposed to get a picture of Aoba in the first place. During the break, the girls talk about how the busy period is coming up. Hifumi dreads it because it means going home late or not at all. Like Kou who sleeps over here. Might as well call it her second home. But Kou is amazing since she does the workload of a few people. At the end of the day as they clock out, Aoba asks an important question that she couldn’t: What game are they making? Fairies Story 3. This gives her more motivation to work harder as this was this game that got her interested in becoming a graphics designer.

Episode 2
Aoba has gotten used to things at the office. But she still can’t get used to seeing Kou wake up in her panties. Yeah, the office is really like her home. As Aoba gets to work, Mozuku comes to fool around, Naturally Hadzuki also does the same and cheekily wants Aoba to ‘punish’ her! When Aoba finally asks Hifumi when she could join them for lunch, she replies she normally don’t as she has lunch back home. Why? Because she wants to eat with Soujirou. Her boyfriend?! No, her pet hedgehog. Oh… Aoba tries to encourage Hifumi to smile but she just looks weird. Very weird. So when Hifumi returns home to Soujirou and puts up a decent smile, the hedgehog ignores her. Is the hedgehog a moody one in the first place? Because of that, Hifumi ‘complains’ to Aoba that she got into a fight with Soujirou. You make it sound so ambiguous… Kou gives Aoba her first assignment and that is to design and create NPCs for the game’s villagers. But soon the designing team head to the restaurant as Aoba’s welcoming party. Kou then drops the question probably everyone would love to hear from Aoba: Does she have a boyfriend?! Flustered at first, she says no and asks the same question back at Kou. She flusters even more than her. So blame work? Rin doesn’t sound happy. Worse, she gets drunk and admits she has no boyfriend. Hifumi has issues ordering (because it involves using her voice, I guess) so Aoba helps order on her behalf. However she mispronounces some of the kanji and there are a few options in ordering this alcohol so eventually Hifumi has to speak up. Aoba gets curious to try Hifumi’s drink but is luckily stopped in time since it is against the law for people under 20 to drink. When the restaurant is about to close, Kou suggests another round. Rin and Aoba agree while Hajime takes sleeping Yun home. At the bar, Aoba thought she could call a harmless drink like a pro but didn’t realize it has alcoholic content.

Episode 3
Aoba wakes up late and you can bet she is panicking she’ll be late for work. On the train as late as her is Yun. Once alighted, they make a mad dash and Aoba is much slower than Yun! Kou chastises Aoba, Yun and even Hifumi for being late at the same time. But when they explain Aoba tripped and all her belongings fell out, they were helping to retrieve them and thus the reason they were late. Kou feels embarrassed for lashing out at them and won’t record their tardiness but still has them submit their late report. These noobs don’t even know how to write an official report as they even put down their real reason for being late (hence Kou can’t write it off) including with emoji. Once Aoba is done with her character model, she shows it to Kou. Although it is good, there is still the issue of shading and the character’s face being stiff. She shows Hifumi’s work as comparison. Aoba has to redo it again. Down at first, when Mozuku comes to play with her, Hadzuki hints she can play with it all she wants whenever she is feeling down. This gives Aoba motivation to work hard. But each time she submits, Kou rejects and has her redo it. This makes Aoba push herself as she works real hard and stays overtime to get it done. It’s getting late and she still hasn’t finished. So Rin had to stop her and walk home together. She advises her about this is what working life is all about. Normally the one she sent in this morning was okay. Aoba is confused if it is okay or not. Rin’s reasoning for Kou for her to redo her work is so that she doesn’t get complacent and not be satisfied with the normal line for what’s okay. Thus there is lots of expectation from her. Aoba gets a call from her childhood friend, Nene Sakura as they talk and update each other on their current lives. While talking about the NPC Aoba is designing, Nene’s input gives Aoba the much needed idea for a change. When Kou wakes up the next morning, she sees Aoba already at her work station. She has completed her design and shows it to her. She passes. Although it took her a week, Kou gives her next deadline to design another one in 3 days. Aoba isn’t sure and pleads for 4 days. However Kou intends to have her finish in 1 day! So is this the infamous can’t-go-home thingy that Hifumi fears? Well, if you finish you can go home…

Episode 4
Kou thought everyone has left so she takes off her skirt and makes herself at home as always. She didn’t realize Rin was still around. Be glad she was the only one who saw her. Since she missed the last train, she’ll be staying here too. They talk about stuffs like if the game will sell but all that is important to Kou is that the game must be good. Just when Kou is going to get back to work, the worst fear of every programmer ever: The computer freezes! FFFFUUUUUU!!!! Ah well, time to start back at square one. Next morning as Rin wakes up and sees Kou sleeping in her panties, she gets this curiosity if sleeping with them would feel refreshing. So she takes off her skirt just to try it and what do you know? Kou saw her! Embarrassed? Be glad she was the only one who saw her. Just then Aoba just came in. I suppose she was too focused on work so she didn’t see them. However she heard weird sounds and checks it out. The most shocking discovery ever. Because Rin was trying to hush Kou, this ambiguous scene looked like they were having some hot lesbian make out! When everyone is talking and nobody is listening… Later Rin gives everyone their pay. This is Aoba’s first paycheque. Aoba is surprised if she should get this much. She earned it for staying late and completing her tasks. Chirpy Hajime tells her to keep up the good work and she might get a raise. Looks like she got one herself. Rin also talks to them about their yearly evaluation. Apparently Hajime isn’t from the same design team as them but the animation. It’s because her department lacks space so she is put here. Then they talk about what they did about their first pay like Hifumi bought cosplay but won’t elaborate further. Because spending your first paycheque is important as it leaves behind memories, Aoba is advised to think carefully about it. Hey, it’s her money. On her way home, she contemplates about clothes but realizes this suit her parents bought her was pretty expensive. So she ends up buying cake for everyone. Meanwhile Kou and Rin take a break by heading to the spa. Yeah, those ambiguous actions make it look like they’re making out. Rin thought Kou is going to ask an important question but it turns out to be a question all women hate: Did she get fat? Time to die…

Episode 5
Hajime shows Aoba the animation work she did on her character design. When Rin’s tablet pen isn’t working, it would be feasible to ask around if any other department has extra but Kou sends Hajime and Aoba to go buy one. At the store, Aoba realizes she left her wallet back at her table. It is worse for Hajime. She might have dropped it! But good news when Aoba returns to get her wallet. She saw Hajime’s wallet on her table too. Somebody’s getting pretty absentminded lately. Hajime is so happy that she acts out of character and this freaks out Kou. Since summer is here, the temperature outside is sizzling. Aoba wonders why Yun still wears long sleeve. She can’t say but the real reason is to hide he flabby arms. Since the office’s air-conditioning is getting too cold, Hajime turns up the thermostat. Yun is sweating like hell but thinks this might be good as she can burn some fat in this heat. Obviously Kou can’t take the heat so she turns down the thermostat. This cycle repeats a few more times before Kou decides to hide and catch the person in the act. Yun feeling comfortable fears she won’t burn away the fat and goes adjust the thermostat. Kou catches her in the act and since Yun can’t say the real reason, it makes her more suspicious. Then Hajime pops up and claims she is the one who was adjusting the thermostat. Because Yun also wants it hot, she claims majority wins. But it is going to get hotter when Rin blows her top when they are fooling around. As long as they cannot compromise, no one is allowed to touch the thermostat. Period. Wow. She’s also the coolest too. One early morning when Aoba is in early, she sits on Kou’s chair. Hifumi almost got the wrong idea if she has some sort of weird fetish. They talk to Rin about Kou’s old personality because it seems when she first started working here, she wasn’t very sociable. But ever since, she is starting to improve herself and just being true to herself. They’re glad they are getting along well with her. Aoba contemplates how she should act before Kou but Hifumi gets depressed thinking it would be hard for herself to change. When Kou enters, Aoba notices a big bag. She is going to stay here for a few days and it carries her clothes and other essentials. It seems she finds it easier to work at night. Aoba thinks she still doesn’t like interacting with people but nevertheless voices her support. Meanwhile Hifumi talks about the need to change her character to Soujirou. Screw you! Leave the hedgehog out of your human problems! Just feed him the food and not tease him!

Episode 6
With Aoba finishing her task, Kou hands her a new character design task. This time there is a specification list and unknown to Aoba, the character is modelled after her! Her character has a crueller fate: She dies! Aoba later tries the demo version of the game which is of course still work in progress. It really feels her hard work and everybody else’s come together seamlessly. When Hajime fantasizes about becoming the boss of this company, Kou quickly cuts her off and says she’ll quit the first thing! Everybody else too. On Aoba’s day off, she meets up with Nene to go see a movie, Moon Ranger. Because Nene looks younger than she is, she thought she hasn’t made any friends and thus the reason she accepted hanging out with her. You think too much… Of course the duo can’t help act like kids at times and even the staffs think they are as they look the part. Aoba finishes her popcorn and Nene offers her. But when she comments how fattening it is, Aoba puts her temptation on hold. Note: The movie must be screwed up if they have this alien baddie dude wearing a bra!!! Back to work, Aoba notices Rin and Kou are called for a meeting. They discuss what goes on in there and it seems the directors and other department leaders will sort out any issues faced. Then Aoba throws in the question of what if there are really issues. Will production get stopped? Hopefully not! Once the duo are out of the meeting, they relay the bad news. As Rin has miscalculated, her team needs to work overtime or come in on their day off. Of course they will be compensated monetarily. While the rest opt for coming in their day off, Aoba decides to stay overnight with Kou. But after a few hours working into the night, she has already fallen asleep on her table. Kou nudges her to go sleep since she bought her sleeping bag. However Aoba finds it hard to sleep since the figurines are like staring at her. So why go bug Kou about this? Just go sleep in the meeting room. Next morning when Kou wakes up and prepares for work, she realizes Aoba is still in the meeting room. She quickly knocks on the door to wake her up as employees are starting to stream in. She’s still sleeping…

Episode 7
Umiko sees Aoba and gets straight to her point that her character models are causing errors. All of them. This is causing the programming department she is in a big headache as the errors pile up. Aoba never thought there was anything wrong because Kou never taught her about it. This annoys Umiko about Kou for not teaching stuffs to her junior. Aoba hears a scathing comment when Umiko notes all the graphics department cares about is looking good. When Aoba asks Umiko for her surname, she is reluctant to tell. Till Kou shows up and calls her Ahagon in which Umiko instantly fires into her. She is from Okinawa and her family name of course makes it sound weird. She wants Aoba to call her given name. She will call her by that. Once Aoba has fixed the errors, Umiko returns to thank her and also apologize for being mean. To make it up, she gives Aoba a real shotgun shell! This is where Umiko starts ranting her love for airsoft and Aoba has no way of getting out of this conversation till Kou jumps in. So they decide to give her airsoft thing a try. At the rooftop which is supposedly her training ground, Umiko is seriously all geared up. It’s like she’s going to war. Once the rest suit up, Umiko demonstrates her deadly accuracy. Then Umiko and Kou get into a western style duo but end up pumping bullets into each other. Aoba isn’t sure if they get along well or not. The staffs are given a medical examination at a hotel. They see how ‘traumatized’ Kou is and this puts them under unnecessary pressure. Although Hifumi is attended by an old experienced nurse, the trauma causes her to act unnaturally. Aoba gets a panicky young and new inexperienced nurse. So much so Aoba is the one telling her to calm down! She’s clumsy too! Watch out for the injection! I don’t really know how she passed her nursing exam. Because of this, Hajime and Yun pray hard to get the old nurse. Unfortunately she is going out for a while. Holy sh*t… The young nurse is so panicky that Umiko got annoyed and just did the injection herself!!! Badass! Yun thought her tummy size was okay when her measurements were taken. Then when she hears the nurse praising Hajime’s tummy, she gets jealous. Yours not good enough? Once the examination is over, some head back quickly to work because it is that time of year where they’ll get busy. A time where they also hire part timers for debugging. But what does airsoft has got to do with this since Umiko tries to persuade Aoba to try it out in her spare time. She’ll pass.

Episode 8
College’s out for 2 months for Nene and she’s bragging about it to Aoba. She doesn’t get the summer off… Nene sees an ad for part time debugging for Eagle Jump and applies. Umiko is in charge of newbies and she almost fired Nene for being late on the first day! Because Umiko is trying to look for Aoba, this suspicious act has Umiko think she is a corporate spy! When Aoba spots Nene, she instinctively goes to hide. Thinking she wants to surprise her, Aoba acts well enough to make her presence known but enough to make Nene think she hasn’t noticed her. As Nene tries to approach her, Umiko catches her thinking she is snooping around. You sure you’re not a spy? After Aoba explains and introduces Nene to her seniors, Nene gets straight to debugging. During lunch time, Aoba introduces her other colleagues to Nene and they think Nene looks like a kid. Hadzuki as usual has a habit of jumping in and even teases if Nene was a spy, she would really divulge all the company secrets since she is so cute. Nene spends the entire day testing and now she realizes how tough this job can be. Umiko thinks she is slacking but sees her notes of bugs so she’s actually doing her job. When Kou is suddenly in despair, it turns out somebody ate her pudding in the fridge. Oh my. That guilty look on Nene’s face. Yup. She was the one. To apologize or to keep quiet… Later Rin sends out a company-wide email for the pudding thief to see her and promises she won’t scold. Wow. It has gotten that serious? Nene is in a dilemma to turn herself in but couldn’t help imagine the repercussions on Aoba. She runs away before Rin. Next day, Aoba buys Kou a pudding for her hard work. Nene is visibly guilty and Rin can guess why. She goes back to the fridge to see another pudding and an apology note from the supposed thief. Rin then hypothetically speaks how the thief secretly came to apologise yesterday. Despite her email making it hard for her to apologise, she can tell how sorry she is. She hopes everyone won’t be so harsh on her. Nene once thought the company is a scary place but is glad Aoba is surrounded by great and kind people.

Episode 9
Nene tries to look up an NPC’s skirt. She did it! It works! Umiko is not happy she is fooling around and is supposed to report this bug but Hadzuki explains this is a hidden feature in the game. Rin is feeling unwell so Kou takes her back and nurses her. Because of that, the other girls start chatting and even Nene joins in. Hifumi feels the need to tell them to get back to work and by the time she is ready to do so, Umiko has already lectured them all. Umiko then talks to Nene why did she come work here in the first place. Is it because her friend is working here? Nene replies Aoba was in a dilemma to pursue her studies and instead decided to come out and work to fulfil her dream. She is just worried for her wellbeing having being her friend since young. She promises she won’t screw around in a company that Aoba treasures working at. Later Umiko tells of a change in schedule because the wiring company is scheduled to come in tomorrow to check the cabling and wires so the girls will not be able to use their computers. Nene is glad this means Aoba will have some spare time. However Aoba realizes the importance of the schedule and with lots of corrections to come in the next few days, she decides to sleepover to cover for tomorrow’s work. The rest of the girls also have the same idea. We see them working great for the first few hours but then exhaustion starts to creep in. Hifumi then suggests going to a nearby public bath. Girls relaxing in the bath… Nothing much to see here… Next morning, Aoba feels refreshed and has slept well. She makes her way home and calls Nene. With how good Aoba sounds, Nene gets the wrong idea she fooled around last night! Kou is also out of the picture as she has got Rin’s cold and Rin hasn’t recovered enough. Nene brought this fate upon herself because as she is admiring the gun collection in Umiko’s station, she accidentally dropped her cake on the table. Now Umiko has Nene transfer her PC next to her table so she can keep an eye on her and make sure she concentrates on her debugging work. No more playing around! Aoba can’t help you this time.

Episode 10
Aoba comes in early to work on the weekend and on the way she bumps into Kou. They bought doughnuts on sale for the rest of their colleague but it seems Hifumi has also done the same. Aoba notices that the company’s policy forbids part timers to work overtime especially on weekends because otherwise they might get paid higher than the staffs! This has Aoba wonder if this wages law is just a loophole for cheaper wages! She might have opened a can of worms as Kou wants to ‘talk’ to her about this… Aoba and Hifumi go give some doughnuts to Umiko’s department who is swamped with work thanks to Nene’s diligence in spotting bugs. As thanks, she wants to give them a bullet shell. No thanks. Better go before she persuades you to join in another airsoft game. When they return to their place, Hajime and Yun have also bought doughnuts. More doughnuts overload when Rin and Hadzuki also bought some. However Hadzuki has bought senbei to go with it. Sweet and salty treats. Can they finish all of that? When Nene comments about Eagle Jump’s weird working policy to work on weekends, Aoba shoots back that the college life must be so easy and laidback. No reports to write that she has to come work part time? This causes a rift in their friendship. So Nene talks to Umiko about it. Aoba does get mad. Well, at least when she saved her from boys bullying her. For lunch, both avoid inviting the other. Aoba has to make do with Kou since Rin ‘dumped’ her too while her other colleagues are busy. Nene feels bad while eating alone so Umiko hints there is still time left till end of break time. This has Nene rushing to go find and make up with Aoba. Too bad she is out for an errand. When they finally meet, Nene trips and is literally flying! Funny! A cue for them to patch up and become best friends again. You can tell it worked when Nene’s mood is ultra happy. But then she accidentally trips on the power plug and disconnects Umiko’s PC!!! OH SH*T!!!! Did she save her work? Anyhow she is still going to get it!

Episode 11
Kou has Aoba and co visit the game expo today since Fairies Story 3 will be on preview. It will be good experience for them. We get a glimpse of its trailer and it is no surprise Aoba and co are astonished. They get motivated when they hear positive feedback from the crowd so when they return, they put in their best for this final stretch. Hifumi has been ‘missing’ since she was doing cosplay at the expo and even ‘testing’ the game there. One day Aoba forgot to pick her suits up at the cleaners so she had to pick another for work. She can’t decide and eventually let her mom decide. Thus she looks a bit different when Kou sees her. But Kou is going to get her own dressing down by Rin for a photo shoot. Kou dislikes dressing up since she doesn’t look too feminine. Eventually whatever tricks Kou pulled, she still has to change and get her photos taken. She looks decently cute and even Aoba noted it wasn’t some photography trick, the reason why she couldn’t recognize her when she first came here! Is that an insult? Umiko is already stressed with all the errors and programming and here comes Nene with another debugging report. Well, not her fault. She has Nene go buy drinks and snacks since everyone else will be staying over to finish it. I guess Umiko still doesn’t trust her and sends Aoba to keep a watch on her. Nene thinks buying the expensive energy drinks will help. You don’t know how wrong it is because Umiko blows her top. The fatigue must be getting to her. But when she tries it out, her tiredness is gone! Miracle? Nene and Aoba try it but their taste buds are like children. Since this is the last day for part timers, this means today (or the dead hours of the morning) would be the last for Nene. Wow. It’s like an emotional goodbye as Nene hopes Aoba’s colleagues will take care of her. It’s not like the end of the world or they’ll never see each other again. Yeah, Nene is crying the hardest…

Episode 12
Aoba and co are outside the game store as Fairies Story 3 goes on release today. Although the company has given each staff a free copy, why do they need to stand in line? Because you buy the game, you get limited edition of freebies! Uh huh. The company had to cut cost so the staffs only get the game. Nene and Hajime are so in sync with each other it’s like they’ve been friends forever with the same thinking and actions. It seems they have gone to different stores to get different editions of bonus goods. Despite the company has some recordings, I guess it is the experience of waiting in line at stores that counts. So happy they are that they accidentally disclose some information about the game’s final boss. This causes a few around to hear them. Panic then sets in especially for Rin because they could be fired if they leaked game info! Oh no. It is already spreading on social media sites! Oh sh*t!!! Thankfully those comments are those from people who stayed up all night to clear the game. Phew. Imagine what Umiko would do to Nene if she actually found out about it… Umiko shows them an article interviewing their company for this game. What’s so special? A picture of a feminine Kou! Everyone wants to buy the magazine now but Kou is swamped with embarrassment.

There is a post production party and all those involved from developing to marketing the game are invited. Nervous Kou gives her thank you speech followed by Hadzuki before they toast. Nene joins the raffles and won a prize: A military rifle. Looks like her fate will always connect her back to Umiko. Although Nene doesn’t like her prize very much, she takes on the challenge to research about the gun and will disclose what she finds in the next debugging job. However Umiko says that won’t happen since the company will be outsourcing debugging to another company. Nene so sad… Umiko gives her some hope in the form of her name card to contact her if she needs to get in touch. Hadzuki approaches Kou because she wants to promote her as art director as Rin plans to become a producer and work with the current one. However this leaves Kou very shocked like as though she didn’t see this coming and didn’t want this in the first place. Hadzuki tells Aoba that Rin once helmed that position during Fairies Story 2. She worked so hard but didn’t get the desired results. This led to frustration and clashed with those around her. It caused a newbie like Aoba’s age to quit. It was a bad experience for Kou. Aoba then goes to talk to Kou feeling depressed outside. After getting her to sign on her game copy, she thanks her for everything. She might not know much about her past but the way she is now, she can respect her as her boss. This means Aoba is going to stick with her thick and thin. This gives Kou lots of hope as she returns and joins the party. But Kou and Rin might have too much to drink as a surveillance camera catches them sobering up on the roadside while Aoba tries to negotiate with a policewoman. And then Nene came by with her gun… Oh sh*t!

Game Over. Restart Or Sequel?
Well… If you really want to know what goes on behind in the workings of a game company or at least how a game is produced, then you’d be sorely disappointed. Because after the great insights that we have seen in Shirobako and the trials and tribulations in Bakuman, this one didn’t even come close. Sure, we see some graphic design and some programming but those are so minimal that they don’t even matter. I am not sure if I can classify this show as the cute girls doing cute things genre because programming games aren’t really the cutest thing especially when you have all the headache of debugging and testing to do. Besides, the way they are seen doing their job isn’t in a cute fashion either.

Therefore watching this anime in hoping to learn something great feels like what big AAA games in the west are now these days. They play on your hype with all the great marketing and advertising and when the real deal comes on release day, nothing but disappointment. Now, I’m not saying that this anime is bad but partly I myself am to blame for hoping that this series would be something like this. Also, I didn’t really read the manga that this anime was adapted from so I didn’t really know about the plot when I decided to jump in and watch. Did they say something about how games are made in a game company? Nope. My fault. Even the synopsis didn’t say anything about it. Just about a newly hired girl and the rest of her colleagues working in a game company. That’s all. I guess I read too much and misplaced my hopes too much. While it does bring in the occasional laughs, there isn’t anything ground breaking to expect either.

At least where this anime is concerned, everything for the production to the release of the game seems to go on quite smoothly. I doubt it would be such a happy and smooth ride in the world but let’s not get mixed up with reality for a while. So to see the girls finishing up all their work and meeting the expected deadline is indeed a happy ending and thus a feel good factor to end the season. Heck, better than being stuck in development hell, right? So whether or not Fairies Story 3 will be a commercial success is another story because well, money brings in a potential for a sequel, right? I’m sure the Fairies Story isn’t planned out as a trilogy. But that’s just me speculating on things.

The characters… Some of them are interesting but some are boring. Personally, I find Aoba’s group of colleagues to be boring although they have varied personalities. Because like Aoba she just feels generic. Although as the newest girl in town (or in this case the company), it feels like she has settled in very quickly and before you know it, you’d think she has been an old staff like the rest. Well, it is good to always fit in and adapt to your surroundings. Other than that, nothing really stands out about her except for the irony that her small stature sometimes has her being mistaken as a middle school student. Oh, and the fact she dresses up nicely in her formal suit just to do character design. Because people doing her kind of job are usually dressed very casually like you see as the rest of her colleagues. First impression counts, right? I guess this dispels that game developers are hippie people with unkempt long hair and jeans.

Aoba’s friends in the same department are also boring. Hajime loves the sentai genre and loves buying its props while Yun is your typical girl concerned about her weight and thus has to diet. Hifumi is the obligatory shy girl of the series who loves to cosplay but the only amusing thing about her is her penchant to talk it out with her pet hedgehog who really is the ‘star’ among the duo. Because the hedgehog don’t really give any f*cks what she is saying and is only interested in what she feeds him. If he was blue and had shoes, he could have run away and far from her, get what I’m saying? Haha! As for their seniors, I only remember Kou as the girl who sleeps in her panties in office. Really. Rin? Nice girl. That’s all.

Therefore the most interesting character of them all in my opinion is Nene because of her tendency to cause trouble whether it is her fault or not. In a way, she brings life to the department that is already plagued with overworking, late nights and trying to meet deadlines. Yeah, she should just quit college and get hired here quickly. Life at Eagle Jump would be more interesting then because she is the joker of the series with many of the laughs coming from her antics. Only the constant supervision of Umiko should put her in place. The mere presence of her would send shivers down her spine. Uh huh. It is the case of being constantly guilty. As though Nene must always have done something wrong. Speaking of Umiko, calling her the series ‘antagonist’ might be too far fetch. Because her job is one of the most stressful considering she has to debug and reprogram any problems found. You don’t want to release of game full of bugs on your release day, would you? Oh yeah. Just release a day 1 patch… So by being the meanest of the lot (that itself might be an overstatement), she keeps those who are laidback in line. To show that she is not merely a working robot, we see her have interest in airsoft. Another sign not to mess with her because nothing is more dangerous than a girl with guns.

Last but not least, Hadzuki. I noticed this very laidback director has a penchant of popping up just about anywhere. Like as though she has this teleport ability. But when she does, she has some good advice or treats. You might be asking if being at the top must be very relaxing for her. Well, you don’t know what you see. It could be a whole lot worse than everybody else’s job. Or it could be the easiest. We don’t know because we are never shown what she really does in her office. Or if she is even there to begin with.

I’m not trying to be or sound like a sexist here but do you not realize that the entire Eagle Jump company is only made out of females? Do girls make better programmers? I don’t think that is even a valid question. It’s like saying only guys play video games when there are as much girls out there who play video games too. Even the staffs in other departments are all females. Does this company have a female only hire policy? Well, as I learnt later on, Hadzuki does have a penchant for cute girls and thus the reason why her staffs are all females. Is this why she always goes to ‘disturb’ the girls at work from time to time?

Art and drawing style aren’t anything much to shout about too. Because all the girls look cute enough as distraction and to focus on them. Especially in some episodes we get our pantsu fanservice because Kou likes to strip down to her undies whenever she stays overnight at the office. Yeah, might as well since the office is like her second home. Or is it her first? With bright and vivid colours and backgrounds, it sure makes this anime about making games looking a lot happy instead of being stressful. I mean, I haven’t seen how real programmers look like when they’re rushing for deadlines, but I believe they can’t be looking all this cute and their best from start to finish, right? Right?! This series is animated by Doga Kobo who also did Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Plastic Memories, YuruYuri, Himouto! Umaru-chan, Love Lab, Luck & Logic, Sansha Sanyou, Koihime+Musou, GJ-Bu and Mangirl.

Voice acting, I didn’t recognize anybody despite there are a couple of seiyuus I should like Eri Kitamura as Hadzuki (also doubling as Mozuku) and Youko Hikasa as Kou. The rest of the casts are mainly unknowns or newbies such as Yuuki Takada as Aoba (Rin Kurosawa in Aikatsu), Megumi Yamaguchi as Hifumi (Koharu Nanakura as Aikatsu Stars), Megumi Toda as Hajime (Yuzu in Sakura Trick), Ayumi Takeo as Yun (Eri Sajou in Aikatsu Stars), Madoka Asahina as Nene (Mai in Pan De Peace), Chitose Morinaga as Umiko (Karen in Shomin Sample) and the only veteran being Ai Kayano as Rin (Mashiro in Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo). Both the opening and ending themes are sung by Fourfolium (basically the voices behind Aoba, Hifumi, Hajime and Yun). Sakura Skip is the opener and sounds like your typical all-girl group idol pop while Now Loading as the ending theme also sounds like your all-girl group idol music but with a hint of rock in it. Well, both songs don’t really appeal much to me.

Overall, this is still a fun and enjoyable anime. It just didn’t meet my personal expectations that I thought it would be workings of a game company. But still, a good anime to watch if you want to watch cute girls doing something. And that something here is making games. Next time when a game is released and you critically called it bad and one of the worst games ever played, just remember the hours put in to develop and making the end product despite all the numerous glitches, bugs, crashes and falling short of expectations. But then again, I’m not going to tell game developers how to do their job. A bad game is still a bad game no matter what the problem is/was. And how dare you charge a full retail price on such a lousy game?!

Amaama To Inazuma

December 23, 2016

If you can’t stand all those food themed animes because they usually have their setting and storylines via competition, then Amaama To Inazuma may be the best solution for you food theme lovers out there. Tired of all the exaggerated food reactions as well as the over the top dishes that can never ever be replicated in real life? Let’s try to keep things simple because in this anime it is just basically about a single father and his young daughter trying to cook different variety of food and dishes that are not for the rich or 5 star hotels. A meal good enough for his growing daughter. As you know how picky kids at their age can be with their food. A good normal and hearty meal that a decent and normal family that can enjoy. Get ready to whet your appetite without all those flashy exaggerations.

Episode 1
Kouhei Inuzuka is a single parent to his daughter, Tsumugi since his wife died 6 months ago. We see them wake up, prepare themselves and head to work and school like usual. Inuzuka is a teacher and his colleague, Momoya wants to invite him out for drinks. Of course he declines citing he has a daughter to look after. The other teaching staff is also worried if they are eating right since Inuzuka is a bit thin and most of the time he buys convenience store food for Tsumugi. One day as he brings her to the park, they see a girl, Kotori Iida eating alone and crying. Actually it wasn’t the fact Tsumugi startled her but rather the rice she ate was so delicious. Kotori also explains she wasn’t supposed to be alone. Her mother was supposed to join her but cancelled last minute. Unfortunately she ate all the rice herself and there is none for Tsumugi to taste. So she hands her name card belonging to her mom’s in which she runs a restaurant. They can come over for some food. One night, Inuzuka returns home to see Tsumugi putting her face so darn close to the TV. She is watching a cooking show and wonders if mommy will make such good meat. Even more heartbreaking is how she tells daddy to call mommy to go make some. Naturally it becomes dramatic as daddy picks up Tsumugi and rushes her all the way to the restaurant. He calls beforehand and hopes it will stay open for them. Wow. Really like as though it is the end of the world. Luckily Kotori is still waiting, though her mom has gone out. She has them wait while she goes to boil rice. It is taking a bit too long so Inuzuka tails Kotori out when she seemingly takes a break. He hears her frantically calling her mother for instructions how to boil rice!!! Eventually she manages to get it going as he notices her school uniform. In fact she is from his school and in his class! Didn’t realize that, did you? Perhaps the wait is long enough that Inuzuka even dozed off dreaming about his late wife’s delicious cooking. Then it’s ready. It tastes so f*cking good! And it is only rice. Nothing else. So good that Inuzuka even cries! Such great home cook food. He promises to Tsumugi that he will make delicious food every day. But Kotori has a request. Please make and eat dinner with her.

Episode 2
Of course Inuzuka would have his reservations why she said so since it would be weird for Kotori to be eating with strangers. But with Tsumugi looking forward to it and the girls putting up a ‘cute’ face, well, he’ll think about it. Daddy tries to make decent breakfast next morning but Tsumugi is already excited to eat at Kotori’s place. So in school Inuzuka asks an older teacher on Kotori’s background. Her parents divorced when she was young. Her mom is rarely in her restaurant as she has a cooking TV show to attend. He suggests Inuzuka talk to Kotori’s mom and then decide on what he wants to do next. Inuzuka gets permission from Kotori to come tonight since she is sure her mom will be in. So when they arrive, they see her kneeling. This isn’t a sign of welcome but apology! Looks like mom cannot make it again. Last minute change in plans. Naturally Inuzuka will have to come another time but Tsumugi is already making herself at home so I guess Inuzuka has to help stay and cook as Kotori already bought the ingredients. Inuzuka and Kotori cover each other’s weakness. Like Kotori has phobia of kitchen knives and Inuzuka isn’t a good taste tester. I guess the duo work long enough that Tsumugi has drawn enough ‘drawings’ to plaster over the wall. Is this an art museum? They might not be able to make Hamburg steak that Tsumugi likes so much but at least the pork soup and rice weren’t bad either. Not only it tastes delicious but it makes Inuzuka happy to hear them say so. All in the name of making Tsumugi happy and dream come true. So Kotori can expect them to drop by again next time.

Episode 3
Kotori finds a note her mom has left. She will be appearing on the morning show. That is right about now. But you know what abomination Kotori saw? She appeared on the show wearing a sailor uniform! Meanwhile another abomination is going on. Inuzuka burnt his breakfast for Tsumugi. At least the miso soup is still good. Inuzuka already has a tough time trying to decide his next meal for Tsumugi. Suddenly there is a call from the day care she got into a fight with Mikio. Seems he accused her of stealing clay (it was given to her) and when she pushed him, her hand scratched him. Both refuse to apologize. Mikio’s mom is fiercer as he makes Mikio apologize. However Tsumugi will not accept and continues throwing a tantrum. Inuzuka has no choice but to carry her home. Wait a minute. She wrapped her head with her shirt the entire time?! How the f*ck is this oversized worm going to breathe? She feels a bit better when he talks to her back home. But the next night when they patron Kotori’s place to make her favourite Hamburg steak, Tsumugi isn’t excited. She hasn’t gotten over this morning’s reconciliation with Mikio. So they try putting up a funny show as they make but it is not working. Till Inuzuka realizes maybe he needs to listen to what she has to say. Looking her in the eye, Tsumugi then talks her heart out. She wonders if she is a bad girl but daddy knows better that she isn’t. With this episode over, Tsumugi helps them in making Hamburg steak. Tasting the first delicious bite brings her to tears. Such big teardrops? Wow. It’s like some soul cleansing dish. At the end of it, they remember it is Inuzuka’s birthday today. I guess there were more important things to handle than his birthday, right? Kotori is devastated she didn’t know and she wants to feed him her food? Too bad he ignores her because father and daughter enjoy a good lovely family hug. Aww…

Episode 4
Momoya gives Inuzuka a bunch of vegetables from his countryside family. Double that since Inuzuka’s mom also delivered a bunch of them. But you know what this means to kids who don’t like vegetables, right? Like a typical kid, Tsumugi hates green peppers. So bad that she cries the moment she pops them in her mouth! Talking to Kotori about it, she mentions about a child’s tongue being sensitive. This has Inuzuka remember his own vegetable episode whereby his brother ‘traded’ his meat for his vegetable. Kotori can also relate how her mom would encourage her to eat vegetables she didn’t like and thanks to that she can now eat anything. Kotori will make gratin and this is of course to hide the vegetables chopped up into tiny sizes and hide them in a béchamel sauce. Inuzuka allay Tsumugi’s fear for the red pepper despite coming from the same family as green peppers. Then the amateurs try to make béchamel sauce and almost flopped. I’m pretty sure Tsumugi’s rain dance wasn’t the reason why the sauce was saved… The gratin is finished by topping off tomato cherries that Tsumugi likes. As expected, it tastes good. Tsumugi bit a green pepper but seems to handle it better this time by covering up with something sweet. And we learn she is a sneaky girl because when she feeds daddy, she was hiding the rest of the green pepper underneath the cheese topping! Well, at least she finished her bowl.

Episode 5
Kotori sees Tsumugi following a stranger. She tails them and sees him buying various snacks for her. He lets Tsumugi eat them at the park. However she notes Tsumugi not wanting doughnuts. Because she thinks it is difficult as a snack. The last straw came when Kotori sees him giving her a cigarette. She blows her top. In good timing, here comes Inuzuka. Kotori tells this man was kidnapping Tsumugi and going to give her a cigarette. You mean this chocolate stick? Inuzuka explains he is Yuusuke Yagi, his high school friend. When he is unable to get Tsumugi to the day care, he calls Yagi to help out. Before they part, Kotori gets an idea to make doughnuts at her place tomorrow. As usual, the trio make the preparations but this one might take longer since they need to have the dough rise up. So they hang out at the arcade for a while before resuming their doughnut making. When they fry it the first time, they fail since it is burnt badly as they didn’t keep watch on the temperature. Luckily they have a few more to spare and they redo their frying again. This time it turns out like what it should be and enjoy their hard work. Tsumugi laughs and finds it funny that her doughnut she made did not have a hole. Then she says she thought doughnuts were difficult since she doesn’t know if it is a snack or meal. But from now on she knows it is something happy she eats with daddy. Aww… See, you made daddy almost cry.

Episode 6
Shinobu Kojika is Kotori’s best friend and classmate. When she delivers something to her and enters her restaurant, she sees Kotori cooking with Inuzuka. Naturally Kotori thinks she will get the wrong idea about this like how Tsumugi gets the wrong idea she is a customer. After hearing her out, Shinobu agrees to help Kotori cook and sets a date for a party. This excites Tsumugi as she starts creating invitation cards. Of course daddy says she can’t do that. Imagine if unknown kids turn up at Kotori’s place. It’ll be awkward, right? He doesn’t want to cause unnecessary trouble to everyone. So can invite or not? Inuzuka remembers they used to have a mini party at their place so he says they can have 2 different parties instead. She can invite her friends to their home on another date. This makes Tsumugi even more excited. So the usual suspects turn up for the gyoza party. Also invited thanks to Tsumugi’s (lame) invitation is Yagi. He could leave if he is unwanted but I guess it would be a shame if those ingredients go to waste. Besides, the more the merrier. For the rest of the episode, we see them preparing and making the gyoza. During the break, Shinobu personally talks to Kotori about her intention in doing this with her teacher. It’s not like she got any wrong idea about this but she understands why she wants to do this slowly and carefully. This means Shinobu pulls Yagi out from the cooking to let Kotori, Inuzuka and his daughter enjoy the cooking moments together. And of course the gyoza turns out good and delicious. Enjoy the party.

Episode 7
Inuzuka is sick and needs to sleep in. So what is Tsumugi going to do? After watching a magical girl show, she packs her stuffs and leaves home to become a Pokemon GO player! Just kidding! But she leaves her home and goes on a journey. Along the way she sings a cute shark song and encounters mystical adventures that are just all in her mind. Thank goodness this isn’t a busy area. Things go well for her until she accidentally bumps into a guy riding his bicycle. The irritated guy tells her to watch where she is going. Well, it was her fault in the first place not seeing where she is heading. When Inuzuka wakes up and realizes Tsumugi is not around, he bolts out to look for her. Tsumugi has reached Kotori’s place but the front door is locked. Luckily she is upstairs and heard Tsumugi’s call. After telling what happened and getting peaches (because you eat peaches when you’re sick, right? And they were all out of them), Kotori accompanies Tsumugi back. They see Inuzuka searching for his daughter. When Tsumugi gladly calls out to daddy, the biggest shock ever when he yells never to go out of the house alone! This shock was so bad that Tsumugi starts crying. Making it worse is that she is throwing tantrums and doesn’t want daddy’s hug! He wants to bring her back but he refuses and clings on to Kotori! She’s really causing a fuss! No choice, they head back to Kotori’s place. An awkward moment between father and daughter. Inuzuka explains he was so worried when Tsumugi went missing and has her promise never to do it again. She apologizes and they reconcile. So touching that Kotori wasn’t watching the rice and it got burnt. So they can’t eat it anymore? It is suggested to make gohei mochi by kneading the rice and grilling it. You know the drill by now. Hmm… How come it looks like Paddle Pop? Sticky rice on a stick? Next morning, Inuzuka is feeling all better and even better that the recent strained relationship looks as if it never happened at all.

Episode 8
Inuzuka takes a day leave from school and this makes Kotori worried if he is still sick from the other day. In fact he is attending Parent’s Day at Tsumugi’s day care. As he is the only male parent there, he feels a bit awkward and out of place to talk to the other housewives. When the parents are supposed to participate with their kids in a game, Mikio suddenly needs to go to the toilet. The kids start laughing. But it is more touching than funny when Tsumugi says she will wait for him to finish because they rarely have lots of people here today. The whole class agrees to wait for Mikio to finish his business. During the telephone game, Mikio purposely tries to make a poop joke for everyone to laugh. Despite the kids laughing like hell, they claim it isn’t funny. Huh? Back home, Inuzuka hears what every father would someday hear her daughter say: Mikio told her he wanted to marry her! Of course she rejected him. Phew? He notices the stain on her bag and wants to get her a new one but she doesn’t want any since this bag was done by mommy. For this reason, this leads to Tsumugi proclaiming she wants to eat squid and yam since mommy once done it before. So here they are as usual preparing the ingredients. Although Inuzuka doesn’t recall any family recipe, Kotori has her mom write down the basic one so it wouldn’t stray too much. The highlight of the preparation is that slimy and weird feeling trying to clean out the squid. Then there’s the part Inuzuka tries to cut the yam and it slipped out of his hand. Good thing he didn’t cut himself but this brings a little traumatic memory for Kotori because something similar happened in the past and it ended in a bad way. So of course the dish is delicious and no complaints. There are even leftovers that should taste even better if refrigerated over the night. Inuzuka talks to Tsumugi about wanting to cover the stain on her bag and gets ‘permission’ to ‘participate in what mommy made’. The result is a cute picture sewn over the stain and the bag looking as good as new.

Episode 9
The day care is having a special sleepover for the kids. Before the parents leave, they join their kids in making curry and then play sparklers together. When Inuzuka goes home, he gets an idea to make dry curry next time. He calls Kotori about it as she asks if they had any recipe or ingredients the family used. Inuzuka looks around and finds his late wife’s curry recipe although it is only 3 pages long. While preparing to make curry, Tsumugi wants to cut the carrots thinking she has experience in using the children’s knife during the sleepover. Daddy disagrees because it is dangerous but she kicks up a fuss. No choice, he lets her do so but under very tight adult supervision. Each cut is like filled with suspense. Phew. She made it. Then the grownups realize there are green peppers in the recipe, which is a must for this curry dish. They’re afraid Tsumugi might not like it and asks permission?! But Tsumugi shows her mature side as she already knows and accepts it. The result of their hard work is of course a delicious curry meal. While eating it, Inuzuka has fond memories where his late wife would cry if she cooks curry because she had to cut the onions. The funniest part is how she always wears Inuzuka’s glasses to make funny faces and become dizzy. Tsumugi also remembers this but soon it gets a little heavier as she realizes mom is never coming back and starts crying. Inuzuka thought of stopping to make curry altogether since it would remind Tsumugi of this but she disagrees (head butting his chin?!) and says she’ll still eat it.

Episode 10
During the hot summer, Inuzuka brings Tsumugi to the beach. However it is so hot that she is not in the mood. Kotori and Shinobu are probably dying from the heat too when Kotori gets a message from Inuzuka if they could drop by shortly and fillet a fish. Inuzuka explains that it was too hot for Tsumugi so they decided to go home. On the way back, they met a family fishing and the kind souls gave them some fish. He called Yagi first but he was busy with his lunch customers, thus the short notice to come here. Since nobody knows how to fillet a fish, you can always thank YouTube for the instructions. While cutting and cleaning the finish, the most amusing part is seeing Tsumugi being amused by daddy cutting up the parts and removing the innards. She can handle the blood! And at the end of it, Tsumugi amusingly points out how the fish from the ice box turns into its cut up parts before ending up in their tummy. It’s scary, fun and amazing. Just wow. With lots of fish left, this time they mix it with Tsumugi’s favourite hamburger patty complete with rice. Yagi joins the party late when they are almost done. They have also made crispy senbei from the fish bones. Tsumugi loves it and while the grownups are distracted talking to Yagi, they realize all the senbei is gone! Tsumugi, you quick little fingers. You can say not a bone was left.

Episode 11
Tsumugi gets into a fight with her friend, Hana because they want to play the same character, Galigali for the play. Kotori’s class will be doing crepes for the festival but upon learning another class will also be doing them, they discuss to differentiate theirs and Kotori is roped in to research different kinds of crepes. When Inuzuka tells Tsumugi they’re going to have a crepe party (part of the taste testing experiment for Kotori’s school festival), Tsumugi is not impressed and lambasts daddy only thinks about food and not girls! WTF?! Even more cringing is how she throws a tantrum underneath his vest and it seemed from this point of view she is doing a blowjob?! WTF????!!!!! She tells what happened with Hana so Inuzuka as well as Hana’s mom settle the matter and as decided, Tsumugi will play Galigali. The usual gang gathers at Kotori’s place to make crepes. Tsumugi sings a crepe song and then draws crepe to show she knows her stuffs. And it seems it is also to let others know her daddy is more interested in food than girls. WTF?! She really said that?! Everyone is in shock so Yagi tells her not to take it out on others. Besides, all daddy ever thinks about is her. Tsumugi feels bad and apologizes. They continue making crepes and as expected it turns out delicious. Since Tsumugi still has doubts with her friendship with Hana, Inuzuka shows her this woolly and fluffy Galigali outfit he made that will impress her. Next day she shows it to Hana and the entire class becomes impressed. Worked like a charm. Kotori’s crepe stand is a huge success as well as Tsumugi’s play. Hey, aren’t there a few more Galigali characters on stage? It’s not like it has limited places, right?

Episode 12
It’s not Inuzuka’s snore you’re hearing. It’s his stomach! It’s getting late and he is tired so Inuzuka and Tsumugi are going out to eat. Because she has never tried okonomiyaki before, she is excited. But all that died when she realized it is already done and they do not do the mixing. Even more so when it has green peppers. Now that she is sulking, she heavily puts seaweed flakes. Daddy tries to stop her but everything spills out. Full blown crying in 3, 2, 1… Eventually they have to leave. So when Inuzuka tells Kotori about this problem, they decide to make their next meal as okonomiyaki or else Tsumugi’s first experience of it will be bad. For the first time Inuzuka thought he could finally meet Kotori’s mom, Megumi. But turns out last minute changes so she’s no-show again. Damn. Yagi is also disappointed. He heard that she would be around and came. He wants to leave but Tsumugi is clinging on to his leg and begging him to cook with them. As they prepare, Yagi will not allow Tsumugi to help him since it is dangerous. Tsumugi accidentally spills the cabbage bowl and now she is all sulking. Time for daddy to give a nice talk. Inuzuka says he hates to scold Tsumugi (wow, she really looked surprise to know that) but when she has done something wrong, he has told her he will scold her. Before you know it, Tsumugi is back to her usual self, apologizing to everything. This time she joins in and has everyone singing a weird mixing song. Whatever. As long as everyone is happy. When they put the finishing touches, suddenly a surprise guest pops up. It’s Megumi! She finally finished her work and made it back in time. Nobody expected her, right? Surprise! Finally, they officially meet. Tsumugi is now a shy girl? They have an okonomiyaki party and Tsumugi finds it more delicious than the store. Why? Megumi points out it is made with lots of love for Tsumugi. Nobody is swooning… Inuzuka almost choked… Other than that, everybody had a swell time. Good food, good company.

Heart Filled With Warm Fuzziness But Stomach Still Empty…
I have to admit. This is actually one boring show unless you are in for the cooking and food they make as well as Tsumugi’s cuteness. Those are the only 2 selling points of this show. Nothing else. But even so, I wouldn’t say that the food featured here are really that appetizing. At least it did not make me want to take a chomp out from my monitor, which is good in a way because it shows that I am not influenced or ‘drugged’ by the series. But then again, because it lacks all the flashy exaggeration you see in other food themed battle animes, this is most likely the reason why some of the dishes dished out here don’t really make you hungry.

Each episode is simply divided into 2 parts. With the first half being some sort of ‘story’ for the episode in which would lead to the second half in which you will see mainly Inuzuka and Kotori preparing the dishes while Tsumugi just sits around staring and watching only displaying her cuteness. Though, to be fair, she does help sometimes but only if daddy is supervising like a prison warden. Haha. Because I am not a cooking aficionado, I can’t really say if the explanation of the way they prepare the ingredients to make the dish is comprehensive. I mean, it is not like if you want to make such dishes, you’re going to play this episode and watch them as you make. In a way, this series isn’t meant to be one of those real cooking shows you see on TV usually hosted by celebrities these days. You can learn something by watching them read out the instructions on how to make the dish (because all of them are noobs too) but not while making as you watch.

Therefore if the food preparation scenes aren’t whetting your appetite, it is the heart-warming interaction of Tsumugi and her father that may pull your heartstrings as we see daddy looking out for her daughter in the best possible way by making meals they can enjoy together. You know what they say about families that eat together, stay together, right? So if you don’t find the food as the star attraction of the series, maybe Tsumugi’s cuteness that will be spammed in every episode to be your likely source of ‘entertainment’. But Tsumugi’s bubbly and liveliness isn’t out of touch with reality and sometimes her character is something we can relate to in real life because she does get upset and throw tantrums in very weird ways too. In a nutshell, even though Tsumugi is still young, she is handling life well for a kid her age. She still has her own peculiar habits and dislikes but that is quite minimal and nothing problematic in the long run.

Inuzuka is doing a great job as a single dad and my deepest condolence to him for having a cruel fate of his wife being taken away at such an early stage. I wanted to say Inuzuka’s character as a single dad is a bit unrealistic because when young husbands lose their young wives, many would fall into depression and the stress levels will build up. Thankfully Inuzuka didn’t fall to this darkness and end up doing child abuse. But the way he seems to be handling it seems fine. He occasionally looks tired but that is all. Is working as a teacher less stressful than a corporate office job? I know Tsumugi is generally a good girl and thus he has lesser problems in dealing with discipline but that’s the thing. Does it seem a little unrealistic in a way? Well, I don’t want to be too negative and hard on him. I’ll just say he is doing a good job always having Tsumugi in mind and hope he keeps up with it. Of course there was this one time Inuzuka blew his top and screamed at his daughter for doing something dangerous but that was to be expected, right?

Kotori might feel like an odd mix between the father and daughter. But the reason why she is in this mix is because her case is somewhat an opposite. Although Tsumugi lost her mom, she is still showered with her fatherly love. It is not for the case of Kotori whose celebrity mom is always away from home, leaving Kotori to always be lonely and thus becoming a loner is only natural. Without the warmth of a parent, do you think she will cope well of having friends at school? Thank goodness she didn’t get into bad company since she is a shy girl to begin with. Therefore cooking with Inuzuka and Tsumugi feels like she is making up for the lost time that should have been with her own mother who is by the way a divorcee. Ah, broken families coming together via cooking. What a heart-warming story indeed. Sorry if you want to see some sort of illicit teacher-student relationship blossoming and then Kotori becomes Tsumugi’s step mother. Sorry. This is not that kind of anime.

Shinobu and Yagi feel like extra characters that don’t really need to be here and could be done without. But to show that Kotori and Inuzuka aren’t really loners at all and they do have other friends to support them. Besides, isn’t it always boring to see the same people cooking? Isn’t that why cooking shows sometimes have celebrity guest stars to cook with? So while the duo don’t really offer anything new to the storyline or even have an impact on their lives, at least by having company it makes a difference. Well, the more the merrier they say. I thought I was going to comment on Megumi being the greatest disappearing act ever since she is never able to turn up. Then they surprise us with that final scene. At least she pops up once. Even though it took her 12 damn episodes to do so but it’s better than nothing.

Art and drawing style feel decent. Although this series is mainly drama, they didn’t really stinge on the artwork. The characters may look simple but they are still decent enough to be considered as your standard Japanese anime characters. Even the backgrounds are decent. There won’t be any poorly produced water colour paintings or rushed oil painting jobs just because we are focused on the characters and the food, nobody is going to notice the background. They are decently drawn and animated and their quality is simple and good as the characters themselves. Tsumugi is the only ‘weird’ looking character because her messy hairstyle makes her look like she is some sort of mini Medusa but without the snakes. No, seriously.

This series has a relatively small cast (aside from the other background minor characters) so I’m glad to say that I could proudly recognize half of the main cast! Achievement! At this point now, I am able to recognize Yuuichi Nakamura as Inuzuka, Saori Hayami as Kotori, and Haruka Tomatsu as Shinobu. Even though Megumi isn’t part of the main cast, I’m going to still put her in since I recognized Satomi Arai’s voice behind that character. Yagi is voiced by Tomokazu Seki is the one I didn’t get. But the most interesting and convincing voice acting goes to Rina Endou as Tsumugi. If she sounds like an authentic kindergarten kid, it is because she is only 10 years old when she voiced her character. She was the voice of Hina in Barakamon too. An amazing feat for a little one but this isn’t the only time a young child has been scouted to voice a young character. My other experience was in an anime series, Aishiteruze Baby and Usagi Drop. Instead of adults portraying as kids, I believe it adds to the authenticity and reduce the fakeness that anime has crept into our minds of how young children sound in animes over these years.

The opening theme is a delightful and exuberating piece. Perhaps trying to captivate on the cuteness of Tsumugi. Harebare Fanfare feels like you need to sing it in a cute and boisterous manner if you want to match the same level of cuteness this series has to offer. This song is sung by MimimemeMIMI, oh wait, how the f*ck do you pronounce this tongue twister again? Are they all pronounced as the same syllable?! The ending theme is Maybe by Brian The Sun, a soothing pop piece that will sooth your ears after soothing your stomach. Well, assuming if you are full after watching the episode.

Overall, this isn’t the best food themed anime there is and certainly not the best anime in terms of single parent (see Usagi Drop if you want to know what I mean). Everything here is light hearted from the characters to the plot (very thin, even thinner than your sliced abalone) to the food featured. It is just a simple story with simple characters and simple food. So this anime is more of a light hearted snack that shouldn’t be leaving you full as you leave but at least an enjoyable experience nonetheless. It goes to show that you don’t have to make very fancy food that will mess with your palate. Even the simplest form can be equally satisfying. Next time when you see an uninspiring dish and have to eat it, just think of all the work and labour that goes into it. Even the simplest food takes some effort. Having said that, I still can’t take spicy food. And please, no bitter or sour stuffs. Only sweet chocolates, please.

Amaama To Inazuma