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

Flying Witch

December 3, 2016

For every 100 or so animes that have some sort of controversial content (violence, gore, sexual references, sexual depiction, slapstick comedy, over the top comedy and parodies, taboo topics, etc), there will always be one series that has that effect to detoxify all that corruption. Cleanse the soul before we repeat the vicious cycle again. From Aria The Animation to Tamayura and Non Non Biyori, now I am proud that I can add another of such anime to the list. This season’s anime of comfy goodness is Flying Witch. Don’t let that word fool you into thinking this might be some supernatural and evil stuff. I assure you it is none of that. No doubt the main character is a witch, there is no malign intent whatsoever. This slow pace and calming series is so simple that I am even finding it hard how to summarize its plot in a single sentence. Uhm, let me try. The daily experience of the said witch having a home-stay in her relative’s home. Close enough.

Episode 1
Makoto Kowata and her black cat, Chito (Cheetos?) arrive in a sleepy rural town in Aomori. Thankfully she bumps into Kei Kuramoto who proceeds to take her back to his home as she is bad with directions. Kei introduces Makoto to his little sister, Chinatsu. Of course she cannot remember who she is. Kei even plays a prank on her that she is her real mother! Instantly Chinatsu hugs her! Turns out Makoto is their second cousin and will be staying with them from now on until she finishes her training. Chinatsu is suspicious of Makoto at first because she talks to her cat. As Makoto needs to get something from the general store, Kei sends Chinatsu to show her around. Chinatsu didn’t want to do it unless Makoto buys her a doughnut. While shopping, Makoto spots a broomstick and tests it out. She sits on it and floats! Believe it! You’re not dreaming! Meanwhile Kei is picking up liquor from Nao Ishiwatari, his classmate whose family runs a liquor store. She heard about somebody staying at his place and is suspicious when she learns it is a girl. Hmm… Then Makoto and Chinatsu come floating down on their flying broom. I think Nao is in shock that she can’t reply properly. And Chinatsu is so happy she flew that she just couldn’t shut up. It’s like she’s got an Energizer battery installed. During first day of school and at the entrance ceremony, Nao learns that Makoto is a witch and officially one (15 years old is its legal age). The reason she is staying at Kei’s place is because her parents want her to finish high school as being a witch doesn’t pay bills these days. Nao fears that she might be in trouble since only relatives should know a witch’s identity. Don’t worry. There is no punishment in knowing whatsoever. As Kei has appointment with his old friends (karaoke party), he has Nao accompany Makoto home. Along the way, Makoto wants to get a special plant as apology for startling her yesterday. It may look like she is pulling out some radish and something feels odd when she tells you to cover your ears. That’s because she pulls out a freaky mandrake!!! Its scream echoes throughout town!!! OMFG!!! So this is the present Makoto wants to give her as proof of their friendship? No thanks…

Episode 2
There is a tall mysterious owl mask guy at the door. Chinatsu shuts the door on him! Good girl. Although he means no harm, she is not convinced and continues to draw the doors. Makoto then goes to talk to him and knows that he is a messenger. He has finished his job and heard there was a new witch in town and wanted to pay a visit. Makoto somewhat dispels Chinatsu’s suspicions when she explains he is the messenger of spring. Like a fairy. Makoto gives him small pieces of mandrake as reward for his hard work. As apology for scaring Chinatsu, he gives her a small pot of flowers. Lovely. She wonders if he will come by again next year. Makoto has this weird dream whereby Nao swam all the way in her clothes just to show her a little mark on her neck that says ‘super lucky’. It is no surprise when she tells her about it, Nao is so at a lost. But it is believe since ancient times that a witch’s dreams have a reputation for being prophetic so could it be Nao will have some kind of luck? On the way home, they see lots of flower buds called bakke growing on the roadside. As they are edible and Makoto has never had one before, Kei picks up many so that they can cook at home. But Chinatsu hates this dish and she’s starting to act like a grumpy old man. Despite Makoto eating the delicious bakke, we see Chinatsu’s painful contorting face as she watches Makoto consume the plant. My, must be that bad, huh? Meanwhile Nao waits at home, eagerly waiting if a handsome customer would be coming in any time soon. Keep waiting…

Episode 3
As part of her training, Makoto talks to Chinatsu’s dad, Keiji that she needs a plot of land to study plants and farming. There is one at the back but it is covered with weed. Grandma used to tend it but nobody touched it ever since she died. So get ready and start pulling those weeds. There has got to be a better way for Makoto than using brute strength and then landing on her butt. While they take a break, Makoto sees a pheasant and tries to catch it. No luck. Chito tries next but the pheasant is WALKING FASTER THAN THE CAT!!! They resume clearing the plot but I don’t think it is big enough to plant all the vegetables Makoto wants. Keiji comes to check on their progress and praises them for doing well. Then he spots the pheasant and tries to catch it too. Failed. It flies away this time. Catch the pigeon, catch the pigeon… Some full Arabian garbed lady greets Chinatsu outside her house. By this time she isn’t shocked anymore after seeing so many weirdoes. Seems she knows Chinatsu and everybody else, though they have a hard time remembering who she is. She waits for Makoto to return. Makoto is shocked to see Kenny the cat around. She belongs to Akane who is Makoto’s elder sister and quite a famous witch. She is travelling the world and was wondering how Makoto is doing and decided to stop by and visit. She gives everyone raw resource presents from Africa. Really? Does Kei need Libyan oil? Akane notices Makoto has not used magic since she left home and only once (that broom riding incident). Although there is no danger, if she doesn’t cast any, her magic will weaken. Akane will demonstrate an easy magic. It involves using a strand of Chinatsu’s hair, writing incantations on an envelope, burning it and splashing water over the fire. It summons a crow. Not sure if this is science but I’ll believe this is magic. She lets Makoto try. Everything goes well till something feels wrong when there is black smoke and crows circling it. Am I watching The Birds?! Akane realizes Makoto used her own hair instead since a witch’s hair is quite powerful. Akane needs to get back to her travelling since she left her camel behind. She promises to visit them again and disappears like the wind.

Episode 4
With sakura blossoming everywhere, Makoto and co visit the stalls. Kei didn’t want to enter the haunted house but the girls force him. Everyone came running out for their lives. Are witches scared of monsters or ghosts? Makoto then decides to have her fortune read by this fortune teller, Inukai. Can Chinatsu shut up about spamming her with questions? Once Makoto writes her name, Inukai becomes delirious and seeks more info about her address, etc. Inukai reveals she is a witch and has been here for 5 years. But she has no plans on becoming Makoto’s friend. Inukai reveals her true face. She is a dog lady?! Apparently a year ago she was having some drinks with Akane whom she knows as an old friend. During their drunken stupor, she ate her magic chocolates and turned into this ever since. Although she does change back into human form at night but this form in the day took a toll for her personal life. Because Akane never stayed in the same place, Inukai stayed here in hopes she would come back. But now her sister is here, there is hope. Unfortunately Akane doesn’t carry a handphone nor do any family members know her whereabouts. All is not lost since Makoto brings her home to concoct konpeito to temporarily turn her back. Well, it got worse because she is now 100% a dog! Thankfully the spell doesn’t last long as she reverts to her furry humanoid form. As she laments, speaking of the devil, Akane returns! And she had the cheek to say she was waiting at her fortune teller stall just now and nobody was around. Before Inukai could start her blame game, Akane reminds her this transformation was her doing. That night when they were drunk, Inukai pestered her for snacks. Against her advice, she scoured her bag and found the chocolates and ate them. Now you remember? Although the spell will eventually wear off (it has been a year…), nevertheless Akane has been on a journey to look for a spell to reverse it. Inukai apologizes for the trouble before taking her leave. Since it is night time, we get to see her beautiful human face. My, she might be just Kei’s type. Lesson of the day: Drink responsibly.

Episode 5
Curious what a cat goes to in its day? You’re in luck. Chinatsu decides to be the curious cat as she follows Chito wandering throughout town. From the many odd places they go, it finally ends up in a spot whereby a few boys are burying something. Chito then seems to beckon her to come. When she does, she falls into the shallow pit! Chinatsu realizes Chito knows she has been following and feels pretty happy about it. Meanwhile Makoto is still going through her boxes. She finds a date written on an unopened jar and realizes this was when she made pickles. The family has pickle as lunch and when Chinatsu returns, they see her all messed up but she won’t tell them what happened. It’s a secret. Later in the afternoon, it is Makoto’s turn to follow Chito since she knows it has finished exploring the town. At first Chito brings her to the same places. But things get a little different in the sense a dog chases them and they bump into Nao. They follow her to deliver liquor to an old lady who seems to know Makoto is a witch. Makoto is doing a bad job trying to hide it. Granny knows because when she was young there used to be a witch and her black cat walking around town like this. But after marrying, she lost contact with her. That witch also taught her many charms and one of them worked: She married the man she loves! Unfortunately she doesn’t know which spell as she tried many of them and one of them must have worked. Chito’s adventures resume to that buried spot. Makoto digs up a box containing several items and books containing secret plans! It seems it is a time capsule. Not wanting to invade its privacy, Makoto buries everything back. They finally go home and it must be a tiring day. Because they see Chinatsu sleeping and has been so for several hours and dreams like she fell down into something. If you think that’s bad, Akane has been sleeping the entire day!

Episode 6
Makoto feels tired while riding and floating with the broom. Akane teaches a trick that she shouldn’t levitate the broom but herself. It makes things much easier. After Chinatsu hears more witch stories from Akane, she becomes interested to become a witch! She is begging her to be one! First she must get permission from her parents. So Chinatsu goes to have the talk with them. They agree! But Akane doesn’t feel like taking a disciple right now. With Chinatsu still begging, Akane sums it up this way. She will show her lots of witch related things and deeper aspects of the witch world in which she can experience like meeting other witches. Only then she can decide if she still wants to be a witch. So for now she is a witch apprentice. Happy Chinatsu then greets Makoto since she will also be studying along with her. Of course she has to keep this a secret from others. When asked why she would want to learn magic, Chinatsu replies she wants to turn cars into pumpkin carriages, control toys and make candy houses. That’s a start. Later Akane is going to teach Makoto and Chinatsu a spell called Curious Candy (Okashi No Okashi). After drawing a pentagram and magic circles, they have to wait till the candles burn out. It’s going to take some time. Once done, Akane makes Makoto a guinea pig to try a candy. Nothing happens at first. But when told to look at the action movie Kei is watching, she starts crying! It is a spell that has one crying after seeing anything! And it will wear off in an hour! Woe is her! Daring Chinatsu would love to try it out and eats the other snacks. This one sends her laughing in delirium! So we have a cry-baby on one hand and a nonstop laugher on the other. It’s mass hysteria! Too noisy for Kei to concentrate! I wonder how they’re going to help mom, Nana cook in that state. When Keiji returns, shortly he is both crying and laughing as he accidentally ate both snacks. Real hysteria. It must be hell.

Episode 7
Nao is to meet up with Makoto, Kei and Chinatsu to go pick wild edible vegetables in the forest. She thinks Chito has put on weight and teases it. Because of that Chito rides on her back and whips her forehead with its tail. Cats have feelings too! Nao almost insulted it again when she learns Chito is 17 years old. That is in human years. This makes Chito like grandma, right? Oops! At the forest, Kei lays down the grounds rules. But the all-important bell to alert for bears he forgot to bring and left it back home. Makoto and Chinatsu pick up a frog. This scares the hell out of Nao as she dislikes the amphibian. You can say her scream could scare away the bears. Back home, they cook the vegetables. Chinatsu tries to be brave and eat them. She still doesn’t like it. Akane suggests having cake at a cafe run by a witch. Kei, Makoto and Chinatsu make their way there only to find a dilapidated house. But there seems to be instructions how to enter. After they do shrine-like rituals, the house suddenly appears well and decent. There seems to be nobody around and weird notes keep popping up to communicate with them. Makoto calls Akane as she explains that there is a shy ghost working as a waitress! It feels pretty odd talking to nothing and then suddenly a piece of paper pops up as reply. Makoto uses a magic trick to make the waitress visible. As they order, they also learn a bit about her like she was born in the Meiji era (around 100 years ago). The waitress gets embarrassed when she realizes they can see her (they described her kimono). This causes her to be clumsy. She only manages to face them again when she wears a scary mask.

Episode 8
It must be weird having Hina the waitress stare as you eat with that scary mask. The cafe owner comes back as Hina brings Anzu Shiina (the owner’s daughter) to greet them. Makoto has a wrong impression that she is the owner. Because of the high level magic used to masquerade the cafe, she believes she is using the same magic to mask her real age. So when Anzu’s mom comes in, Makoto is surprised and tries to hint at her that her magic has worn off. Big panic comes when Anzu is also in the picture. Did she use some clone technique?! Once everything is clarified, they learn more about the cafe. It has been around for 200 years and serves customers from the other world. That is why there is a barrier to mask it. A couple of ladybugs enter. Seems they are regular customers and are even a couple. I guess there is nothing much to do around here so Makoto and Chinatsu chase the ladybugs. The bugs leave. Although they don’t pay in cash, they help protect the farm by warding off bad bugs. The next customer is a floating veil (Hollow?). As explained, it is the Veil of Darkness and its job is to usher in night time. Thus at this point of the day, it will hang out in the cafe. Since it is friendly, Chinatsu makes friends with it and gets a candy. Next customer is a fox. Its fur is so fuzzy that they can’t help molest massage. Your eternal question of what does the fox says is answered. Makoto believes it is “Kon, kon”. But then it barks like a dog. For real?! Meanwhile Akane and Kenny rent a boat in Vietnam. She is here for a little experiment as she pours a drop of potion into the sea. Not only has the ocean turned monochrome colour but the sky and cliffs too! Just like a Chinese ink wash painting? She wants to take a picture but nobody is around. She gets this idea to teleport home, wake Makoto up from her sleep just so she could help take a photo. Still daydreaming? Next day, Makoto thought that dream was weird. Akane gets drunk with the boatman.

Episode 9
Makoto learns Nana is a picture book author. Later Inukai drops by with her hamster familiar, Al. Think Chito wants to eat it? I don’t know. Petting its head makes it feel even more nervous… To make up for the trouble the other day, Inukai gives them sweets and will also read their fortune. Because these good people don’t have any real life problems, she decides to read their fortunes for tomorrow. It involves holding many colourful stones and then throwing them and see where it lands on her fortune telling chart. After writing down key words (I noticed some are pretty negative like meaningless, useless, folly, unnecessary, etc), Inukai tries to decipher it in a positive light. For Makoto, she might encounter a problem after leaving the house. But if she overcomes it, she will be greatly rewarded. As for Chinatsu, she may discover a new side of herself and it will become something she treasures. Next day after school, Makoto brings Nao to see her farm. It is growing well. Till Makoto points out the mandrake she replanted! She even wants to pluck it out for Nao! No. Please stop. She doesn’t need it. Really. Akane gives Kei lots of funny teasing face and noise. It seems she thinks Nao is Kei’s girlfriend. But when they both dismiss it coolly, she puts on a scary disappointed face. The girls then go pluck ripe radish. Since they believe it has beauty and weight losing properties, they are eager to start eating them. However some of them are spicy. Before going to bed, Makoto remember Inukai’s fortune. Just then a paper crane enters her door. It is a message from Akane to meet her in the living room. Chinatsu and Kei also got the message in similar fashion. She has returned from Burkina Faso and has souvenirs for them. So Makoto gets this lousy t-shirt and Chinatsu a large tribal mask? The girls then think this might be what Inukai’s fortune was referring to.

Episode 10
Nao dreads the cooking class. Yeah, she cooked at home a long time ago and it turned into a disaster. Ever since she always had trauma about cooking. Bad enough they have to make hamburgers. It is painful and scary just to see her cut onions. Of course slowly with Kei and Makoto guiding her, it isn’t as bad as she gets the hang of it. They add the final touches and voila! Yum. Looks good to serve and eat. Nao thought she saw a finger but Makoto points out it is a cookie she made called Witch’s Finger. It will look even real when if baked. Finally when they are about to dig in, they realize they forgot to cook rice. Akane joins the rest to go thin apple trees in some grandma’s orchard. I mean, it’s not like she has anything better to do today, right? So their job in thinning is to snip away flowers that would zap away the nutrients for the apple. My, there are lots of flowers. For a tree! Don’t worry. Many hands make light work. I’m sure everyone is getting the hang of it. Makoto notices a small nest of bees. They don’t sting and are used to pollinate flowers as they collect nectar. Unless they are in a bad mood, they bite! You mean bite and not sting? During break time, Makoto shares her Witch’s Fingers with everyone. Tasty of course.

Episode 11
One misty morning, Akane waits for a tall dark figure. He is the newspaper deliveryman from the other world and of course the news articles are those that cannot be found in the ordinary human world. It is a popular subscription among witches. An article states that the sky whale will be passing by the area. Akane, Makoto and Chinatsu gear up to watch it as they ride on their brooms. A special cream is rubbed over their eyes so they can see it. After flying up close to it, they ask for permission to land on its back. They explore the land and ruins where ancient civilization once lived here. They also meet Anzu exploring as she is a historical buff. It is time to go when their stomach growls. After saying goodbye to the whale, Akane invites Anzu to their place for breakfast. Anzu knows Kenny and they click. Because that cat has travelled around the world and studied anthropology! Kenny is also Anzu’s teacher! Woah. And you thought things wouldn’t get stranger by now. Kei takes out his tools to make pancakes. Anzu has everyone impressed as she explains the history of pancakes and how it makes its way to Japan. Impressive! Anzu realizes she forgot to call mom about her whereabouts. Shortly after, her owl familiar, Aurore drops by with a message from her mom to Akane. What could this special message be? A bill for the stuffs ordered at the cafe. My, what a large tab. Please pay up. Wow. Did they really order a hell lot of things from the menu? Did they throw some sort of party? I mean, 28 cups of coffee and 30 cups of black tea among the items?!

Episode 12
Makoto finds her old witch robe. She puts it on and of course she doesn’t fit and rips it. Time to go make a new one. First she has Nana draw a map to the textile shop. Well, Makoto is so bad at directions, you think she knows how to use a map? At least Chito is here to guide her as they fly across town. When they are in the area, they have to search the shop by foot. Luckily Nao is doing her delivery so she is able to point her in the right direction. Looking through the textiles, she notices one with prints looking like Chito. Its eyes even glow in the dark! Back home, Makoto takes Chinatsu’s measurements. It will be a surprise. Before she gets to work, she reminds her about that crane folklore. Don’t peep. But instantly she opens the door! Why? Because that is what happened too in the story. So Chinatsu watches and helps Makoto sew a witch’s robe. Makoto is making one for Chinatsu and she looks like red riding hood if you ask me. Kei almost got freaked out when he sees Chito’s prints glow in the dark. He pretends to become a doughnut when cheeky Chinatsu casts a spell. Now she wants to eat him?! Late that night, Akane comes back home drunk after a drinking session with the guys preparing for the festival and then another one with Inukai. It seems Akane reminds her about the mandrake parts she left behind and forgot to clean up. As they look for another missing piece, Makoto finds it but it starts moving. Akane then picks it up. It is an earthfish. You know, fish that swim and live in the ground… They must be attracted by the festival atmosphere. When a school of them pops up, Akane pours them sake and feed them snacks. Akane and Makoto talk about things. Like Makoto will soon need to hand in a status report to the association since coming here as well as Akane not travelling much lately since she feels hanging out here is like home. When the earthfish are happy, they start floating and glow in red like beautiful red orbs. Too bad Akane is too drunk and sleeps on to watch and Chinatsu has dozed off. Only Makoto witnessed this amazing phenomenon.

Flying Witch Petit

Short 2 minute ONA specials animated using CGI and in chibi form of yet another peaceful day in the Kuramoto household.

Petit 1
Makoto mixes herbs with her tea for Chito for detoxifying effect but accidentally burns her own tongue. When she tastes the tea leaf believed to be from Myanmar, it tastes like grass.

Petit 2
Chinatsu tries to scare Makoto using an April Fool’s prank. Didn’t work. Makoto mentions she thought she saw a white kitten under a car. As much as she called it, it never responded. Then Chito picked it up and it turns out to be a white glove.

Petit 3
Since Chito has memorized the layout of the house, Makoto hopes Chito can guide her to the kitchen. Instead it leads her to various other rooms in which it is interested from a cat’s point of view. Finally they arrive at the kitchen but Makoto has forgotten why she needs to come here in the first place.

Petit 4
Makoto and Chinatsu celebrate Akane’s birthday. Though, she is not around and is travelling through Africa. Not to let it go to waste, they let Chito be the guest of honour. As they are about the blow out the candles, Akane returns from her trip.

Petit 5
Akane teaches Makoto a spell that would magically lock her notebook. First she has to write 13 digit numbers on her eraser and then chant it over her notebook. Now she has to recite that number if she wants to unlock her notebook. Since Makoto can’t remember well, she writes the ‘password’ on the notebook which renders the spell useless.

Petit 6
Chinatsu is having a hard time with her kanji drills. Akane teaches her a trick. For example, the kanji for ‘fast’ looks like a witch riding a broom. Chinatsu is impressed as she asks more and more kanji words for examples. How come all of them have a broomstick? As its reasoning gets more absurd, I guess Akane has run out of lies explanation so she leaves Chinatsu to do the rest on her own.

Petit 7
Makoto tells Chito about her camellia oil she uses to maintain her broom. Because it makes the broom sparkle like hair, she dreams that she can apply this and open a hair beauty salon. She’ll become a famous beautician in no time!

Petit 8
Makoto sees Akane and Chinatsu sleeping. She hears them sleep talking but wonder if they are really asleep because they seem to be responding to Makoto’s questions. After Chito joins in sleeping with them, Makoto also follows suit thinking that they might be dreaming the same dream and she could join in on that. Good night. It’s still high noon…

Good Witch Of The North
Do you feel fresh and detoxified? Cleansed of your corrupted anime sins? Well, at least I sure do. I don’t know if you can call that a crappy ending but let’s face it, there isn’t really any plot to lead us anywhere. Even if Akane throws up that witch association thingy in the final scenes, I don’t think it is going to cause any big stir whatsoever. I mean, there is nothing that would be constituted dangerous and a threat to these characters, right? Even bee stings don’t kill! Okay, maybe a small bee bite won’t stop a human heart and just give you the prickly annoyed feeling. So generally everybody is as happy as they are from the start till the end. That means it is a happy ending, right?

Basically if you look at the overall plot and pace of this show, many of the episodes feel like they could be episodic and standalone in nature since many of the ‘stories’ in each episode is pretty random. Of course I don’t mean you can watch in any chronological order since some of the supporting characters introduced have short recurring roles in later episodes. But other than that, this series could have been just about anything. Instead of a witch, it could have been a vampire or a zombie or even a werewolf living the slow paced life in Aomori. Because all we see is just Makoto and the rest of the gang doing random daily stuffs that would bore the hell out of you or make you smirk at the calm and soothing pace they do things.

So yeah, this series is mainly boring or interesting depending on your interests and tastes. There are no mind blowing twists to the plot, not a single fanservice element and certainly no violence to go with. Okay, I am not sure if pulling out that mandrake constitutes to violence because you know, its scream sounded like it was so in pain… Ouch. Overall, it hardly has any surprise to spring on us. Heck, even the supernatural elements aren’t that scary even for my scaredy cat level. Some may look a bit different and out of place but they are not at all spooky.

Speaking of the supernatural magic of witches, they are shown very sparsely and some not even visually. For instance the crying and laughing magic prank from Akane. You don’t see any magic effects from it. Like as though you just put random objects in seemingly arranged order and then when they start crying or laughing it feels more of a psychological effect. You know, hypnotism? So don’t get your hopes up to see high level magic explosions or casting effects because the most we will likely get are witches riding on brooms. And the occasional Akane drawing her magic circle to teleport. In fact, seeing them pulling off these small feats of magic won’t make you go ooh and aah.

Despite the series having hinted there are a few witches around and proof that there are other worldly denizens moving about in the area, there is no further mention or exploration what this other world is all about. Witches it seems are painted as good beings instead of wicked ones. At least from the ones we hear in the series. And every normal human who has heard about the existence of such witches don’t give a damn about them. In the sense that they don’t make a big fuss like reporting to the press or uploading to social media if a UFO is spotted. No, seriously. They’re just cool with them. Witches? So what, right? And speaking of something relating to technology, noticed how nobody in this town has a handphone? Land line still works! You rarely see those nowadays, huh? Ah, the wonders of the simple life.

Maybe it was discreetly working with our psychological state all the time. We have been told or at least how we interpret this series as a peaceful and relaxing pace so when the slightest comical bit pops up, we tend to find it funny. This little magic is perhaps why we find the series funny and amusing. Like when Inukai temporarily turned into a full dog or Makoto shocked at Anzu having a clone of herself or Akane receiving a huge surprise bill, these little short bursts in surprise is what makes the series fun to watch at times and breaks the mundane and ‘unexciting’ pace in general. Such funny moments usually hit you spontaneously when you least expected it. You might not go LOL but it is sure enough to make you smile.

Considering the already tranquil pace of the series, the characters themselves aren’t much and you can say that they are as boring as the plot. But remember what I said about the series working on our psychological state. Because everything is so laidback, you don’t even hope that there would be some kind of character development for any character. They remain noticeably the same from start till finish. So it is both a good and bad thing that although the characters do not change much (or at all), they are still likeable in their very own charming way. Definitely this calm and soothing pace has really gotten to us by this time. At times it might be a bit unrealistic too because nobody here has real life problems! How we wish we to have such blissful life! Perhaps the most ‘stressful’ problem was Inukai’s transformation. But she learns to accept and live with it and it isn’t all that bad. Well, at least it staves off annoying guys who want to hit on her, which could be problematic seeing she is a natural beauty. Oh wait. Does this anime and town even have such sleazy guys in the first place?

So for a main character like Makoto… What can I actually say and explain about her? A normal girl. Part witch. Not a powerful one. Happy and cheerful. Life is a bliss. And the occasional bad with directions but nothing disastrous. I guess it says everything all there is to say about her at least in this series. Since the series doesn’t even delve into flashbacks and back stories of any of the characters, you will only get to know the minimum and the rest feels like a mystery. I mean, of all places to complete her high school, why did she come all the way from Yokohama (which is in the south) all the way up north to Aomori? Is this where her old life was and if she was to complete her high school might as well be in a place she is familiar with? And besides, why didn’t she complete high school? Does this mean she is actually older than Kei? You see, Makoto and some of the Aomori residence know each other and that was a pretty long time ago. Again, her back story is never explained so we are forced to ponder these questions for eternity unless… Also, is it a bad thing to lose all magic as a witch? Is it wrong for a witch just to become an ordinary girl? It isn’t like Makoto is going to lose sleep over it the way I see it.

You could say that Chinatsu is the liveliest character seeing that as a young kid, she is quite energetic, bubbly and curious. Sometimes she might seem annoying with her scatterbrain but it beats having a near emotionless and expressionless character. Like Anzu? Almost. Chinatsu has seen quite a number of supernatural things since so she just blatantly accepts them in her life whenever she comes across one as opposed at the start where she was a bit sceptical. Since Chinatsu is an apprentice witch, I hardly see her doing any magic practice. Is it possible for humans to become witches? At least it seems so here seeing if nobody says it is impossible, it must be possible then. Then there is carefree Akane whose life goal seems unclear. She travels around the world (currently Africa seems to be her main destination) and when she feels like it or wants to rest, she comes back to the Kuramoto’s home to sleep. If she is not doing anything in particular, you can find her sleeping. Or drinking. That’s like half of the time we see her, right? Otherwise all I could see her role in this anime is to add a little spice by teaching or demonstrating her magic.

Kei is supposed to be a normal guy but as quoted in the anime that since he lives with a witch and knows about them, he is way past normal. An unnormal normal? And Nao is like the third party character you get at times if you don’t need Akane to join in the fun. (Because Nao and Akane only get to know each other quite late in the story). It’s like she is just there for the company because after their task is done, she returns home and rarely joins them in the aftermath. So maybe that is why this series is boring because it lacks any romance that some viewers might be hoping for. Kei x Nao or Kei x Makoto (I know they’re second cousins but what the heck). None of that came close. And perhaps that too is a good thing since it won’t spoil the comforting story with cheesy romance. I mean really, fancy seeing Makoto blush and become a clumsy girl because of that? Yeah, I can’t imagine that either.

Other minor recurring characters like Anzu and Inukai serve to give a bit more variety to the series. Though some like the messenger of spring I thought would play a slightly recurring role later, it seems he only appeared once. Same case for Hina (although hers was spread out over 2 episodes as that cafe arc was conveniently ‘divided’). Nana and Keiji are laidback parents that they would let their kids do just about anything as long as it is legal. You thought they would protest to something like Chinatsu in becoming a witch but instead they support her. Another reinforcing statement that witches aren’t that all bad. So I suppose it is a good thing that parents let their kids do what they want and not restrict their dream. The weird thing (and perhaps running joke) about Keiji is his thick accent so much so Makoto cannot understand him. It’s like he is talking Greek! Don’t worry and don’t feel bad. I can’t even understand a normal Japanese conversation at all! Nearly all Japanese sound Greek to me! It is a good thing his kids don’t take after his accent.

Last and not least the cat familiars. I suppose it is not a must that cats are to be a witch’s familiar seeing Anzu has a cool owl. At first it seems funny to see how witches are able to communicate with them seeing that the cats only meow one or two lines. Then it’s like they could translate an entire sentence out of it. But remember, these cats might be another supernatural being form in this series. They could be highly intelligent creatures and even surpassing humans. Take Kenny’s case for instance. While it might sound absurd or even mind boggling how a cat can do university-like study and research, it might not be in the form of how we humans conduct so. I mean, who knows, right?

Art and drawing feel soothing to the eyes too. Nothing that are too colourful and vivid nor would anything be gloomy and dark. Since the setting takes place during the spring and summer times at Aomori, it captures the bright and sunshiny feel of those seasons. While character designs may not be unique and many of them looking quite ordinary (is that K-ON!’s Azusa that I see in Chinatsu? Did Inukai come out from Dog Days? Is Makoto a grown up version of To Aru Kagaku No Railgun’s Saten?), at least the backgrounds and sceneries are quite lovely to look at. It is after all the sleepy picturesque town in Aomori. CG is also used but that is only minimal and restricted to the sky whale and earthfish so it isn’t that jarring. This series is animated by long time veteran anime studio, J.C. Staff so you might see similarities of their art style trademark here in some of their other works such as Shokugeki no Souma, Nodame Cantabile, Bakuman, Honey And Clover, Kimi to Boku and Nabari No Ou.

For a calm and soothing drama, the voice acting isn’t anything special since well, almost everything is calm and soothing you would rarely get a burst of emotions. Sometimes a bit from Chinatsu’s liveliness and the ‘loudest’ of them all being that mandrake’s creepy scream. A handful of recognizable seiyuus include Yuka Iguchi as Anzu, Takahiro Sakurai as the messenger of spring and Kikuko Inoue as Nana. The rest of the casts are Minami Shinoda as Makoto (Cain in Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu), Eri Suzuki as Chinatsu (Milinda in Heavy Object), Shinsuke Sugawara as Kei, Kana Aoi as Akane (her debut role), Shiori Mikami as Nao (Akari in YuruYuri), Mari Hino as Inukai (Shinkawa in Shirobako), Hisako Kanemoto as Hina (Ika in Shinryaku! Ika Musume) and Mitsuru Ogata as Keiji (Amano in Miami Guns).

Apparently the animal familiars too have a dedicated seiyuu to them! I thought it would be just randomly picking one of the main seiyuus and asking them to meow like a cat. Instead we have Ai Kayano as Chito, Ayane Sakura as Kenny and Ari Ozawa as Al. From the sound of it, it doesn’t sound like it is tough trying to purr like a cat but since the cats themselves do not meow that often, sometimes I feel it is a bit wasted to have dedicated seiyuus just to voice them. Not that it is a bad thing but just saying…

The opening theme, Shanranran feat. 96 Neko by Miwa despite being a fairly lively piece still manages to give an overall soothing and comforting feel. It is catchy enough to make you want to sing along or at least do that weird clapping dance that some of the characters do in the opening animation sequence. Nichijou No Mahou by the duet of Minami Shinoda and Eri Suzuki as the ending theme is a slow piece and another embodiment of the series’ calm and soothing pace. In fact many of the BGMs I hear also follow this suit. Some have that comical feel and others that mystic touch but even so mostly are the serene type and nothing dramatic. Although it is unfortunate that none of them can match the awesomeness of the soundtrack in Aria The Animation, they are still worthy in their own right.

Overall, this is really one of those ‘healing’ animes that is recommended for everyone even if such boring and calming pace isn’t your cup of tea. The plot is simple, the characters are not complicated and yet interesting, and the animation isn’t flashy but still excellent and close to realism. All you need is to do away with all that unrealistic high expectations and hype in order to truly enjoy this anime. Sometimes it isn’t that little supernatural magic that makes things interesting but rather the simplicity and minimalistic joy in the things we do in everyday life. That is the true magic of this series. Now, if there was only a little magic spell that I could learn to make chocolates and candies out of thin air…

Kuma Miko

October 2, 2016

They say the grass is always greener on the other side. The opportunities from across always look more bountiful than the ones before you. That is why many from the countryside and rural areas always try their luck by heading out to the urban city in hopes in improving their fortunes and life. Take for instance our main character in Kuma Miko. A young girl always stuck in the deep remote and mountainous village because of her job as a miko for a local legend. It is only natural for her to yearn the city life. Imagine all the things girls her age would be doing had she been living in the city instead of being cut off from the rest of society and civilization. Sure, we can always imagine things. But the big question is, is she ready to handle all that and have what it takes to live in the city? You know how the city isn’t as rosy as it paints itself to be, right? Thus this series is about our protagonist going through her daily life as she prepares for the day she will be ready to take on the city. The other question is, can she really do it in time?

Episode 1
A girl treks through a mountainous area of Kumade Village filled with bears. One creeps up on her. Will it be her doom? Instead he welcomes her home. Machi Amayadori is a miko and Natsu is a big brown bear. She wants to go to a school in the city but he shows his ferocious fangs that are not acceptable. He gives excuses of the dog-eat-dog world the city is especially Machi who has grown up for so long in the mountains, she has a country complex. However Machi claims this village is so boring and she can’t take all that crap anymore. Now it’s Natsu’s turn to cry (crocodile tears?) as he reminisces the little girl he always has to console. What will he do if she is gone? Like Machi cares… Therefore he is going to give her a quiz to see if she has got what it takes to live in the city. Don’t worry, they’re easy ones. But how come they feel like trick questions? Like what you used to get into train stations. Watermelon? Apple? Bananas? Sure, Machi got lucky picking the green one but the next question, how the heck would she know that OIOI is pronounced as Marui?! In short, Machi doesn’t know. So the only viable thins is for a girl to get mad at the bear.

The police are on a patrol and see a bunch of kids. They warn them about the bears in the area when Yoshio (Machi’s cousin) claims he is the village’s health department officer and is supposed to give those kids a tour of the place. The police relent since the villagers never take the bear warnings seriously like as though bears and humans here have co-existed in peace for a long time. Back at the shrine, Yoshio begins his lame picture story telling. But when the boys claim it is too boring, he takes out the original traditional book. Suddenly Kaori jumps up and screams words like “Sexual harassment!” and “Don’t touch me!”. OMG! Triggered?! Future feminist?! Yeah, this book tells about the virgin maiden sacrificed to the bear. In other words, bestiality rape scene. But later parts of the story reveals the bear fell in love with the maiden, mended his ways and worked for her. Thus the beginning of the co-existence of humans and bears at Kumade. The real surprise here is that bears can talk. The kids are in for a shock when Natsu serves them drinks. They fear him more since he is not in the mood of being touched. Since Machi didn’t want to play along to this, Natsu is forced to drag her out. Seems Machi is too shy to face them after that erotic rape story. The kids are impressed as Natsu continues talking. They want to brag to others but Yoshio warns them this secret cannot be leaked to outsiders or else you’ll be punished. The conversation goes on normally till one of the kids asks Machi this curious question… Was she raped by the bear???!!! Of course she vehemently denies it. Making it even more embarrassing is that Yoshio thinks Natsu did rape her! Not sure if he is trolling her. All that fervour calm down when Natsu says he is neutered. But this still has left Machi with a very red face.

Episode 2
Machi often cried when Natsu had to leave for his hibernation. That is why he stopped hibernating. Well, Machi doesn’t remember all that… But she is still bent on going to the city. As proof, she takes out an MD. However Natsu knows where this is going. He tells her MDs are no longer in production. Somebody needs to be updated. When all else fails, attack the bear! Use violence till he relents! Natsu okays her to go to the city but first she must learn about society and stuff. So he writes he first task: Go buy a HEATTECH from Uniqlo. She has 2 days from tomorrow. Machi gets right on thinking what to do. However she is stuck in thinking what kind of clothes to wear. A mission impossible? What the heck is a HEATTECH too? She starts thinking Uniqlo is a hardware store and HEATTECH is some sort of heater. Yeah, she almost asked Natsu a stupid question if it explodes. As she sets out, she meets her first obstacle: The wooden bridge is broken. It can only be fixed tomorrow. Natsu breathing down her neck with a reminder: Only 1 day left… Fortunately he isn’t so bad as he cuts down a tree to let her cross over. Since her bicycle is missing, she sees aunt Etsuko (Yoshio’s mom) who lends her Yoshio’s bike. No wonder nobody wants to use this bike. Such embarrassing chair… As she rides down the mountains. Suddenly everything breaks apart! I mean everything! She jumps off before the bike hits the tree and dismantles itself! OMFG! That was scary! Yeah, the only thing that isn’t destroyed is the chair…

Feeling hopeless, Machi cries for Natsu’s help. But she knows she has to depend on herself at times like these and got to push on. She braves up and treks through the mountains in hopes she will reach something. Well, she did. Yoshio and his friend Kameji “Matsu” Komatsu fishing. They agree to give her a ride there. I guess she has to bear with their incessant teasing and other quirky habits. Like her misconception of HEATTECH and Uniqlo. Yeah, they’re even making jokes and taking pictures of Machi making her purchase like as though she is some sort of celebrity. Once she is done with the task, she can no longer hold in her frustration and beats them up outside! Holy sh*t! There is only so much a limit a girl can take. Back home, Machi spots a gloomy look. She felt hopeless during her journey. Yeah, she sure is, Natsu agrees to it. Machi is shocked when Natsu mentions he expected her to go to Uniqlo via Yoshio’s car. When she proudly shows her bruises, Natsu gets serious. He nags her about the dangers of the mountains and her inability to come back after the bike broke. Like a child not wanting to hear her nagging mother, she mentions she bought HEATTECH so what’s the big deal? She passed, right? Yeah, she passed. Though, Natsu doesn’t seem too pleased. Asking her to show HEATTECH, she strips open her shirt! She is wearing this heater t-shirt underneath her miko garment in which Natsu doesn’t like her doing so. Yoshio comes home and wonders where his bike is. For all he knows, a lone chair sitting deep within the mountains…

Episode 3
Natsu wants to teach Machi more stuff about the city but apparently she is too lazy. Where has all that enthusiasm go? So she says she is tired? Yeah, putting with those blokes’ harassment was really an ordeal. To Natsu’s surprise, she wants to perform the kagura dance, something that she never liked to do. After setting up and starting the music, WTF is this exercise song! Natsu is mad! Stop! Stop! See, it is cloudy now. The gods must be mad. Taking a break, Machi mentions she is just an ordinary girl with no powers doing what grandma told her to do. On the contrary, Natsu mentions she does have powers when she was young. I don’t know about that trance but it looks funny although it was scary to Natsu because she pulled out his eyelashes! There are other trance moments too and naturally she can’t remember them is because she was in a trance. When Natsu mentions about the similarities of the trance and those DJ nightclubs, it gives Machi motivation to get up and dance again! Woah! Such energetic dance! She almost knocked herself out by banging into a tree. At least Machi is now motivated to do a proper dance ritual. At the end of it, Yoshio has brought them cake and drinks. Well, I don’t know if bears can eat cake but apparently it tastes horrible to Natsu. Machi falls asleep, tired from the dance so Natsu follows suit. He wakes up when he starts to rain. It seems Machi is dancing via that exercise track! OMFG! The lightning just struck the tree! It’s on fire! Machi is still dancing! Stop it! STOP IT NOW!!!

Machi is going to give Natsu a haircut. He has a bad feeling about this. Feeling like being decapitated? He runs away when he feels the scissors poking his flesh. But here comes Yoshi with a few miko dresses for Machi to try out. It seems there was a contest to design summer clothing for her and with the few entries, Machi is to put them on so the judges can pick a winner. Machi is quite interested in the Ainu tradition but these blokes have no further information about it and it feels disappointing. But she is encouraged thinking the dresses might have Ainu design. However the first one is an idol outfit! What the heck is this?! Machi punches Yoshio when he peeks to see the commotion. However he fights back about the ‘discrimination’. So why Natsu can see her in her undies and not him?! Why the discrimination between humans and bears! Yeah, it looked like a rape scene, Yoshio pinning down Machi… Anyway, Machi puts on all 4 outfits as the judges Natsu, Yoshio and Etsuko decide. All have conflicting views especially Natsu and Yoshio in some sort of disagreement over everything. But the most disappointed is Machi because none have any Ainu designs! She returns to her usual dress and refuses to become their dress-up doll.

Episode 4
Eventually Machi wears one of the designs as she participates with the villagers in a ritual. They too know all about it since they were spying during the judging and Yoshio showed the pics from his handphone. Everyone then starts to discuss and have their own opinions about each of the design. Not only Machi isn’t pleased but perhaps the gods too since it is starting to rain heavily… Later as Yoshio delivers sushi to them, they talk about the dance being made public. Machi disagrees to it and definitely won’t do it if Natsu isn’t with her. Even more so she won’t accept somebody substituting as Natsu’s part. It makes Yoshio wonder if Machi is dependent on Natsu. So Machi thinks about it and it dawned to her that she might not survive without Natsu. To prove it, she can turn on the TV! And play some video games! Okay, maybe a little bit of challenge there. Then she wonders if Natsu can survive without her and goes to spy on him. He is doing fine. He is even high-tech using sensor keys to lock doors! Machi feels bad for having such thoughts. As she goes to apologize, Natsu praises the technology Yoshio introduced to him. Machi just goes with the flow and agrees to it.

OMG. Machi is standing next to this delinquent, Hibiki Sakata and feeling very afraid! She should be because Hibiki beats her up! Machi tries to be calm and escape but Hibiki catches up and more abuse! WTF?! Till Machi cannot hold it in anymore and starts crying. Natsu comes by and our poor miko girl seeks solace in his arms. Hibiki is Yoshio’s childhood friend and claims she just wants to talk with her. Apparently Hibiki is often misunderstood because of her actions. Besides, they know each other for a long time. Hibiki wants to take Machi to shopping. I guess Machi has no choice but to agree. And Natsu thought it was just cute, girls having a girly time together. Hold on tight. Hell is coming. Biker girl Hibiki, the ride of your life! Literally. Machi feels comfortable at the Shimomura department store but is head butt out of her daydreaming. Again, Machi is forced to pick clothes and be Hibiki’s dress-up doll. But when Hibiki is having trouble choosing hers, suddenly Machi falls into a trance and it is like she knows everything about Shimomura. Their sales, their area size, their cost cutting measures and efficiency that lead to cheap affordable items! Wow. It’s like she is an employee or some industrial spy! More explanations about their exclusive rights that even make Hibiki change her view on them! When a dress she wants doesn’t have her desired size, Hibiki is about to give up but Machi tells her there is another Shimomura store in the next town. Quickly they ride there and thankfully there is stock. There are also other items in this store not available in the previous. This makes Hibiki to believe that Machi might become a Shimomura expert.

Episode 5
OMG! Who are those trendy girls making villagers’ heads turn as they walk past?! Cool background music too! It’s like an ad for Shimomura. Natsu is happy for the girls but Machi has to go change since a job has come up. Natsu hopes Hibiki could hang out with Machi more often but she denies it and if Machi wants to play with her next time, she’ll teach her adult stuffs. Let’s hope no drugs. Machi seems to be reeling from her experience with Hibiki so Natsu tells her to express her feelings to Hibiki if she enjoys it. A father caught his son, Shouta stealing and is taken to Machi as punishment. He is locked up in a cage in a cave with Natsu. Oh dear. See how Natsu is violently tearing apart the wood? Shouta has reflected his actions but it seems he needs to stay with Natsu for a night! Oh sh*t! As long as you don’t bother Natsu, he is pretty much preoccupied with the toy offerings from the village. The boy gets the fright of his life and passes out when Natsu approaches close to him. Actually Natsu just wanted to ask Machi for an instruction manual for an appliance. Oops. They overdid it. So as they take the boy back with Yoshio, Yoshio learns that Machi has already gone shopping with Hibiki. But how does he know they went to Shimomura? Because he told Hibiki to bring her there. Before any more juicy stuffs could flow out, conveniently here comes Hibiki to shut everyone up and deny everything. So you mean Hibiki didn’t do all that for Yoshio? Really?

Back home, Machi and Yoshio are so dense as they discuss Hibiki’s actions. Of course Natsu knows that Hibiki likes Yoshio and the mere mention of it has delinquent abusing big bear and warning him never to say those crazy stuffs. Hibiki still doesn’t get the hint and Yoshio has just stopped thinking. Wouldn’t it be easier for Hibiki just to say her feelings? DON’T YOU DARE SAY IT! Because Machi gets the wrong idea that Yoshio is troubling her and offers to work together to defeat him, Natsu takes Machi outside for a much needed lesson. He wants her to learn this supernatural power called reading between the lines. Sensing the atmosphere and feeling of others without ruining the mood. So he acts out as a tsundere. Machi doesn’t get it. Even roleplaying as Yoshio and Hibiki, Natsu’s actions of hugging and saying “I hate you” only confuses Machi. Is Hibiki trying to kill Yoshio? In his last attempt, he hints there is someone Hibiki likes and shows the dire situation Yoshio and Hibiki are in now. What should Hibiki do? The correct answer is to send Hibiki home quietly. But guess what Machi does? She goes to strangle Yoshio as she misinterprets he is the obstacle to the person Hibiki likes! Frustrated Natsu spells out word for word that Hibiki likes Yoshio. Yoshio didn’t hear that properly and Hibiki knocks him out with an elbow to the gut! Then she abuses Machi and warns her not to tell anybody about this or else… Her fear of delinquents just got worse. Later Natsu and Machi talk in the bath. She still can’t believe there is someone who likes Yoshio. Yeah, you better believe it. She wonders if she will like a man herself. But Natsu can only think of Machi being abused and her body used and thrown away by sleazy scumbags. He wants her to stay in the village forever. Get real.

Episode 6
The villagers are discussing ways to attract visitors but they don’t understand what the young ones want and ask Hibiki for advice. It seems there is this cool place called Village Vanguard where youngsters can check out cool things. And since the villagers know nothing about this, Natsu decides to send Machi to go to that store with her mission to get him a DVD. Think of it as training for her city life. But does Machi even understand what vanguard means? We see how much of a country bumpkin Machi is. She doesn’t know how to ride an escalator and she keeps thinking store clerks do not want her business because she is not trendy! Once outside Village Vanguard, because of the weird items on display, Machi starts becoming scared. Is this a witchcraft shop? Yoshio tries to push her in but she resists and causes a tantrum. Embarrassing if you consider the onlookers wondering what the heck is going on. It reaches unbearable point as Machi punches Yoshio in the guts and runs for it! She almost stumbles into the path of a handsome guy but he carries her like a little girl. It got too much for her to handle as she faints.

Natsu is not happy over this failed mission but Machi is clearly traumatized. He is going to lecture her about this embarrassing incident that would only decrease her chances of living in the city but Yoshio deflects the blame back to him. Wasn’t it Natsu’s fault for sending her out to do something like this that is too much for her to handle at this point in time? Seeing how scared she is still, maybe he is right. It is no joke that Machi is still crying and scared so Natsu now becomes guilt-ridden and scared. He apologizes, he kneels but Machi is still the same. Oh sh*t. It is going to become double troublesome if you have a panicking bear in the house. He waits outside her room as Machi cries herself to sleep. Natsu remembers the past whereby he was sick and Machi took care of him. He tries to cook porridge for her but you know about bears’ paws and knives. The clumsy commotion has awakened Machi. He takes this chance to sincerely apologize to her for saying all those mean things. But Machi this time blames herself and it is not Natsu’s fault. I know she wants to release some steam and learn from her mistakes but is she trying to flip the table?! Oh, please don’t! I guess this means Natsu has to bear the brunt as Machi takes out her abuse on him. Yes, this is his atonement. This is his punishment. He will bear this sin. All bear puns not intended… Next day, Machi is looking refreshed and rejuvenated! Wow. And Natsu… He is like so dead and lifeless… What a wild night it was… Yeah, I hope all that beating was worth it. It better be.

Episode 7
Machi chops firewood so Natsu reminds her that with technology like electricity, they should take advantage of it. However Machi still prefers to continue the traditional way. This makes Natsu remember she has been doing this since young without a single complaint. If she isn’t doing this for hobby or vent her frustration, what is it for? Because if she could, she wouldn’t want to do this hard labour too. She claims she isn’t good with appliances but wouldn’t mind trying if there was one. Thanks to Yoshio’s connections, they got a rice cooker. Being the noob she is, it is freaking odd to see a bear teaching a human how to use an electric rice cooker! Because Machi carries the pot with chopsticks (fearing there would be electricity all over), of course she fumbles. Before they know it, the place is on fire! Machi is rife with guilt that she can’t do it so Natsu tells her to not give up. In the end, they manage to have their perfectly cooked rice. It was boiled over fire by the way. When Yoshio comes by to tell Natsu and Machi that there will be a job ritual soon, the duo are in shock because nobody told them there would be one. Furthermore, granny is away at the hotspring and they have to prepare for one now in which nobody knows which ritual it is. As Yoshio goes to gather more information, the duo start preparing the hall. In the end, the ritual job is kikase. Natsu is supposed to give a speech to show that he is powered by the gods and channelling their thoughts. Natsu isn’t thrilled since Machi won’t have a part in this and is taking it easy. And what is he going to talk about? Improvise. So here is Natsu talking to the old people and trying to sound more ferocious and threatening as suggested but you know what? Screw all that. He talks about the good of technology and internet! You old folks should make good use of it! Sadly, Machi wasn’t paying a single attention and you wonder if the old people understood what he said. When Yoshio returns to his office, his chief shows a flyer about a contest for ideas to revitalize the village. Yoshio becomes passionate with some ideas that he believes this village lacks confidence, pride and presentation. The chief gives him handle this although he doesn’t have to be serious. Just enough to show the higher ups they are doing something and make them look good.

Episode 8
Machi makes cold water rice and she thinks she is the best there is till Natsu makes an Italian version of it using herbs she never even knew! Don’t be jealous. They let Yoshio taste to see who is better and although he claims both are good, Machi senses something suspicious when he points out hers is better. Could he have an ulterior motive? True enough, he is asking her to use her cooking skills for this village. He explains there is a part time job of cooking food samples that she could help out in promoting the village’s specialties. If learning experience and money didn’t interest her, then perhaps a trip to Sendai or Tokyo might. See the glitter in her eyes now. But since there is a weird outfit she needs to wear, she disagrees but Yoshio restrains her and tries to force her to sign an agreement! WTF?! Rape scene?! Natsu hints for Machi to take this job as she could go to the city. Though not impressed, she reluctantly agrees when the guys mention miko outfits are the trend now in Tokyo. But Machi soon realizes she has been deceived by Yoshio. It isn’t a supermarket in Tokyo or Sendai but a nearby neighbourhood. What’s more, he left her alone in search for other places. Even worse, a supermarket employee is breathing down her neck, staring at her to do her job! Trauma mode on! She feels like running home to her furry forest animals but remembers that there would be consequences worse than death. She tries to use her meek voice but it is so soft that nobody heard.

She is about to give up but Hibiki is here. She didn’t want to help out but seeing those tears that read please-help-me in her eyes, Hibiki tries to be the decoy to lead people to her stall. Unfortunately with Machi being so quiet, Hibiki further abuses her and the other customers think the delinquent is bullying her. After Hibiki leaves, Machi is on her own. She tries to summon her voice again but this time she sounds like she is in some sort of execution! Horror! A few people sample and buy her product but it is back to the usual. Going to give up again, Yoshio is back. Learning the trouble she went through, he puts on his smooth operator skills and before you know it, everyone floods the stall curious to try the food. Wow. In the end, Natsu is impressed she stood her ground and did her job that wasn’t suitable for her in the first place. He thought she would ditch it and come back home. But Machi is motivated by a few comments of customers and would try again. But Yoshio mentions there is no need to continue the job anymore since the part timer for it is back. As he praises her first job with a hitch, Machi can’t help sense he has an ulterior motive he is up to something else.

Episode 9
Hibiki didn’t want to join the villagers in a meeting to discuss the village’s revitalization. But why did she? Because Yoshio is there. But it isn’t much of a discussion since Yoshio decides to do a commercial and the villagers agree to it. He has hired Usui as the director. Isn’t he the local farmer who got hospitalized? Isn’t he still on IV drops? So they take ideas on what products to promote the village and cheeky Hibiki suggests Machi as the mascot girl. Oh dear. You’re going to hear complaints how she doesn’t want to do it. But with Usui giving the thumbs up, I guess that is settled. Machi argues Natsu should do it but he can’t because he is the cameraman and the secret the village cannot reveal. But with Yoshio begging this commercial success will heal Usui, well, little girl has no choice but to do it once. Then there is another problem: Sponsor funds. No money how to make commercial? Hibiki thinks the old lady Tokuyama who sells clocks and glasses may have a hidden stash. Yoshio goes to negotiate with her and she agrees on one condition. Our villagers are at the hotspring site for the shooting. Again, Machi complains she doesn’t want to wear this swimsuit. Can’t back out now, right? Then there is this horrible storyboard sketch from Usui on how the ad should go. Looks more like a horror comic… Yoshio tells Natsu to focus on the watch and glasses that Machi is wearing. Yoshio takes auditions from the villagers but eventually settles for Hibiki despite she didn’t even audition at all. The others include Etsuko and Shouta. Nepotism? Filming starts and even for a girl like Machi can tell, isn’t the stupid dance make her look silly? Not in Usui’s eyes! After many takes, the shoot is done but Usui feels it lacks some sort dynamic excitement. Etsuko suggests singing and has written a song for the village. That’s it! Silly but fun song. As time is running out, they have to practice fast and manage to get it done in a single take. Yoshio works hard into the night to edit the video to be submitted to the station tomorrow. It is a big deal for the villagers to gather and watch their 30 second commercial. As it plays, suddenly certain scenes are cut out and replaced with Tokuyama’s store. In the end, Hibiki is furious that this entire ad is just a commercial for that granny’s store. Well, Yoshio’s hands are tied as that was the condition. But the villagers are celebrating in happiness they get to be on TV. I guess all is not lost. However… Usui suddenly gets up and proclaims… This is not his work!!! Then he collapses. Call the ambulance! No signal…

Episode 10
Machi is standing in the rain listening to her music. Natsu thinks something wrong must have happened in school because she does this when it is so. Apparently everyone in school has that item: Handphone. She didn’t bother too much about it at first but it soon got to her. Yeah, she is the only one without such hip gadget. Please note there is still no reception here. Thus Machi bugs Natsu for a handphone and even explains the careful thoughts she has given for wanting to live in the city. As long as she is sheltered here, she will be naive. Natsu then picks out an old handphone model from the offerings. Wow! Also there is a tablet as it instantly connects to a video conferencing with Yoshio at his office. Please note the difference between signal reception and internet connection. Learning Machi wants a handphone, Yoshio quizzes her. You bet Machi is going to think he has some ulterior motive and wondering if this question is a trick question. Yeah, he wants her to appear as an idol in exchange. Machi claims this old model handphone can be hers but she doesn’t know anything about a SIM card so it is pretty much useless. Luckily Machi gets the answer right and the new handphone is all hers. Wow. Look at the dazzling light of technology! Hey, I thought she is bad with appliances with buttons? I guess this doesn’t count? Next day, Machi shows off her new handphone like a pro. Shouta and the rest are in awe. Yup, the star for the day.

There is always a reason why Machi refuses Yoshio’s request. It is sensible that this time Yoshio wants her to be an idol. You know what? This guy is so desperate for her to change into this idol outfit that he forcibly strips her! OMG! Rape scene?! Of course we understand he has pure intentions but he has got to stop treating Machi like his pet! Hibiki is sleeping there and wakes up. The first thing she sees this ‘rape scene’ is to beat the hell out of this guy. Yoshio suggests Hibiki to be her manager and Natsu agrees thinking she needs more interaction with girls. Machi only agrees because she uses her ‘ability’ to read between the lines this might get Hibiki closer to Yoshio. And so here Machi is on stage as an idol. Man, 3 extreme idol fans? Scary. She is so nervous and singing off key but you know the extreme fervour of such fans. Go Machi, go! While taking a break, several guys from the next village badmouth Kumade. Worse, Tamura the old hag warns of some beastly curse. It descends into some name calling, name shaming and insults flying. At the end of the day when they leave, the Kumade villagers aren’t sure if they have the motivation to revitalize the village. And the busy idol fans have to move on to the next event… Abandoned? But then a spark of inspiration hits Machi. She starts questioning her motive to become an idol.

Episode 11
Machi is doing her rituals properly and Natsu thinks that idol stint must have scared her. Personally he would prefer it this way. When Yoshio receives word that Machi has been selected for the idol finals in Sendai, you can bet the entire village is getting hyped up that Kumade is going to be famous. It would be if not for this little problem: Machi doesn’t want to become an idol! How determined is she? She tied herself to the pillar! Then she runs away and sits at the cliff to do some soul searching. Natsu of course plays the pivotal role in convincing Machi to think about this opportunity. He has her remember all those city missions that she cleared (those embarrassing failed stints, if you look at it another way) and if she clears this last mission, she will be acknowledged as a city girl. Yoshio is definitely dense but even so he too realizes (finally) that Machi doesn’t really want to do this sh*t. So when she returns, he apologizes like hell and would accept any punishment. But Machi has changed her mind and will participate. This is music to Yoshio’s ears as suddenly all that guilt flew out the window and he is back to his annoying self. After Hibiki beats him up, Machi’s idol training begins. Since when did she sign up for Hibiki’s Spartan training? Okay, the usual jogging for stamina training and speech practising on stage. But tongue twisters too? Come that day, the villagers see them off with high hopes. You can tell all those reactions of Machi as she sits a real train for the first time. Meanwhile Natsu prays at the shrine for the peace of this village and their success. But he soon realizes he is a selfish prick and wants Machi to stay in the village forever and hopes everything will break down and have her return here.

At Sendai, it is an eye opener for Machi. She is at the idol backstage and meets many idols. Although they are very nice and polite but in Machi’s eyes she sees them as evil competitors mocking her country bumpkin status! During the rehearsal, the other idols do well. Naturally to Machi this means the bar is set very high and pessimism starts to sink in. She can’t do it. She is so nervous that when it is her turn, she bloopers by banging into the microphone, mispronounce some words, trips and falls hard when she tries to go away and worse of all, that silly vision of evil idols berating her as a useless countryside girl. It’s all in your mind… Machi then runs off stage with Yoshio and Hibiki chasing close behind. Yoshio tries to coax her to return but perhaps he did the unthinkable as he touches her shoulder. Her trauma instantly lit up as she punches him in the gut! This must be a very painful one. As Hibiki tries to restrain her, the policeman mistakes Hibiki as a delinquent trying to harass Machi and arrests her. A classic case of judging a book by its cover? This allows Machi to run away as she keeps calling Natsu’s name for help.

Episode 12
Natsu feels bad for making such wish and wants to go rescind it. But he gets a call from Yoshio that Machi is missing! OMG! Did the bear nearly died of a heart attack? Natsu then races down the mountains faster than a horse to Matsu’s place. He wants him to drive him to Sendai now! Yoshio and Hibiki continue to look for Machi but to no avail. Natsu uses his GPS to trace Machi and it seems her last location is at some departmental store. The duo search there but still cannot find her. That is when Hibiki chides Yoshio for being too persistent in trying to revitalize the village at Machi’s expense. Is revitalizing the village that important? Yes it is. Etsuko made that miko outfit, Natsu helped with her performance, Matsu made that banner and Hibiki helped train her. Everyone in Kumade has high hopes and is rooting for her. Hibiki agrees to look for her but with a condition that it is Machi who decides on whether she wants to continue with it or not. After they leave, it seems Matsu was hiding nearby and conveniently heard everything. Machi gets a little confidence boost when a little girl thinking she is an idol gives her some encouragement. A big traffic jam into Sendai. No time to waste. Natsu gets out and starts running. Won’t anyone notice? Yeah, the bear is so fast that they didn’t even notice. Or is everyone on their handphones? Damn technology… By the time Natsu is already in town, he realizes he is not in any disguise. He fears everyone will panic. Fortunately today’s generation thinks he is such a realistic mascot that they want to take pictures with him! Yeah, so I guess he is not much of a threat.

It is Machi’s turn on stage but she is nowhere to be seen. Before the host can change the programme line-up, here comes Machi. She is nervous at first and as usual, her delusion has her see the people as evil assholes throwing stones at her! That is when Natsu gives out a loud scream. Machi hears it and the scenery changes back to her hometown. It boosts her confidence because she can continue her dance ritual like she always have. All in her mind? At the end of the beautiful dance, Machi continues to see the crowd as evil people throwing stones at her! Yup, I think it is all in the mind. Back home when Yoshio and Natsu pretend to ask how Sendai was, Machi cowers in fear and explains as it is as seen in her delusions! She has decided. She is not going to a high school in the city! Say what?! Is Natsu happy or sad? Wait. Is that a recording app? I guess this means Natsu is freaking happy about her decision that he hugs her. Bear hug? Both of them hug each other in relief like nobody’s business while blurting out how much they love each other. Eww… Weird scene. Felt like a little bestiality… The villagers celebrate this successful event and although Machi didn’t come close to winning, at least she got a special award trophy. Yoshio continues to work hard to promote Kumade. Lastly, Natsu and Machi are living in the comfort of their shrine and anything they want from the city, they can just order it via internet shopping. All hail the internet!

OVA 1
Taking place during Natsu and Machi’s younger days especially that hibernation incident. When the snow falls for the first time this year, it is time for Natsu’s hibernation. As it came 2 weeks earlier, the elders still have no choice but to do a traditional farewell ceremony for Natsu’s hibernation considering last year’s fiasco whereby Machi refused to be parted from him. Yoshio is also drafted to help out for the first time. He in turn drags Hibiki into it since she is here (to return his manga). Machi and Natsu talk about the dreaded separation again. They don’t want to be apart. Machi suggests hibernating with him but that’s not possible because it is cold around. She’ll freeze to death. To make him stay away, Machi puts clothespin all over his body, glues his eyes open and forces him to drink coffee! Torture?! Natsu can’t stand this and breaks out. Naturally they get into an argument and it ends with Machi running away. Then Yoshio comes in to tell him that they are holding the ceremony tomorrow night after Machi falls asleep so she won’t feel so sad. That night, Machi apologizes for today and sleeps with Natsu. Next morning she wakes up early to cook something before spending the entire day with Natsu. Night falls and after Machi falls asleep, Natsu goes with the villagers for the ceremony. But then Machi wakes up and upon realizing Natsu is gone, she rushes out while taking her bento. Hibiki tries to stop her but Machi bit her finger! The cold slows down Machi till she eventually collapses. Natsu thought he heard Machi’s cry and rushes back. He finds Machi fallen on the snow. She gives him the bento she made so he won’t get hungry when he hibernates. Natsu is touched but carries her all the way back seeing her body is getting colder. Ever since that incident, Natsu ditches hibernation and the ceremony scrapped. It sure brings back memories for Natsu remembering this. After all, bears in zoos don’t hibernate. The biggest slap in the face is that Machi doesn’t remember a single shred of it.

OVA 2
This takes place after Machi’s idol contest in the city. A staff thinks Natsu is a real mascot and brings him to a nearby backstage because this is where the local mascot contest is. Natsu doesn’t think this is a good idea since he isn’t a real mascot to begin with but Yoshio believes this is a good chance to increase the village’s reputation. Naturally the organizer don’t see his name on the list. But she thinks they omitted it and puts his name as the last entry. Don’t you dare pin that number on his skin… It’s his real skin! During the rehearsal, Natsu is nervous, bumps his snout on the microphone and trips when it is over! Déjà vu? Wow. He really mirrors Machi. At the backstage, Natsu has doubts about continuing this but Yoshio has a way to make him stand out and coaches him on it. So when Natsu goes out on stage, he does his cute dance to a lame tune sung by Yoshio in the background. The crowd loves how cute he is! It is no wonder he won first place. So back at the village everyone celebrates the double achievement. They think Natsu is God and thus that’s why he won first place. The TV replays the contest with Natsu giving his final words: “Mokyuu”. WTF?! I don’t know. It was Yoshio’s idea. But Machi is shocked to hear that Natsu’s victory allows him to advance to the national level of the mascot contest to be held in Tokyo. Tokyo?! This bear is going to Tokyo?! Wait a second there… Natsu tries to change the subject and goes to bring some drinks. When he returns, he sees Machi already prepared her bags and stuffs. She’s going to Tokyo too.

For Bear-tter Or Worse, Just Bear With It
Aww… And they lived happily together. Big bear and little girl. Hugging and cuddling each other till the ends of days. The end. I guess that beats living the stressful life in the city, huh? Well, not too sure if Machi is giving up her high school in the city dream forever because you know, it could be just the spur of the moment that she decided not to go back to that scary place. It could all change again in the future. But we leave that for another time. If they make another sequel, that is. This entire series is just about a country bumpkin girl testing waters before making her permanent move to the city and in the end finds that it isn’t really one that suits her. It is a good thing she went through all that because had she instantly hoped on board, it will be the point of no return and the start of a tragic tale, a bad end. Thank goodness that never happened as long as Natsu is looking over her.

If you look at the series’ comical points, they aren’t really that over the top and during moments without any funny stuffs, it can get a little boring and slow. So if you are looking for really insane slapstick comedy like Teekyuu or those that parody the hell out of everything such as Gintama, you’d find that this series is just a pale comparison. But sometimes you do not need to have all those exaggerated jokes just to make things funny. This series has its jokes in its own pace and with the slow and sleepy stride of this village, it is only befitting that the funny scenes are paced so.

Although the characters in this series are small, you will still find something to love about them even though some are just annoying. You can’t hate them at all. Because of the focus on a handful of these main characters it is one reason why the series works as you can see the dynamism and interaction between them. Especially the tag team duo of Machi and Natsu. It already looks like an odd pairing from the start but with Machi’s antics, lack of confidence, anxiety and Natsu somehow has to deal with it all and even play the role of a motivator sometimes, it never gets tired seeing how the two interact. Therefore in place of the simple and sometimes silly general plot, the characters do a reasonable job in distracting you from the story about a girl who wants to go to the city but has to undergo trials to prepare for it but fails miserably as it only serves to induce her trauma. Yeah…

Machi is an interesting and lovable girl. She is shy, naïve and insecure in many ways that makes you think that she isn’t cut out for the city life at all. True. The peaceful and sheltered life in the remote mountains may have seemingly given her a wrong idea that she can take on the city. You know, girls and kids in general her age always think they know and can do everything, right? If she were to go to a high school in a city right now, she would quickly end up being a bully victim. As seen throughout the series, many of the attempts can be considered as big fails and even end up as an internet memes. This is where the fun and funny moments come about as Machi is forced to quickly reconcile the vast difference of reality and her expectations. Usually she ends up getting overwhelmed and scared and tries to run away from it all. She wants to go home. Nothing safe and sound like home where everything is familiar, eh? Despite all the ‘hardships’, tears and embarrassing moments she has faced, well, isn’t it a good thing that she barely pulls through all of them? Try harder again next time? Though, it felt like she did mature a bit in the end, but eventually she returned to being the timid Machi that we all knew from the beginning. I guess some things never change.

Natsu as Machi’s guardian and companion is a much cooler and mature character albeit he too is not perfect and has his shortcomings. The big irony is that he is more knowledgeable about the outside world and even technology compared to Machi and perhaps the other villagers. A bear whose intelligence and high-tech skills far exceed human capabilities? Well, he isn’t a god for nothing. Because when you have a bear that talks, it is already a sign of intelligent advanced lifeform. At least for this anime. It is safe to say that Natsu has been Machi’s saviour many times because who would Machi find solace whenever she faces her toughest ordeals yet? Not too sure about the past where Machi seems more reliable and cooler when Natsu was a cub. Or was it just a time of innocence and then as she grows up, life gets to her despite living in the mountains and thus her current behaviour. All I can say is that Natsu has been there for Machi, her ups and downs so I can’t imagine the duo being separated for long periods of time. That is why you can’t blame Natsu for being against Machi to live in the city. He knows she cannot defend herself and thus yet another irony of a bear protecting a girl from the dark side of human nature. Wow. This series sure has such subtle themes. Even better for him when Machi has abandoned her dream so he can be rest assured that Machi will stay put. Uh huh. It’s like this saying, never seen a ghost, not afraid of the dark. Yup, that sums up Machi’s ambitions in the end.

Yoshio could be the weirdest and most dense character in the series. He is hard to hate even though his annoyance makes you feel like you want to punch him in the gut. His intentions are always good and for the wellbeing of Kumade. However his approaches are the ones that are questionable. It is like he is in a world of his own. This guy is so dense that he couldn’t take a hint when others especially Machi vehemently disagrees to do something. You know, he thinks that she is just nervous and needs a little push and convincing to get something done. I suppose he can’t tell when a girl is scared and when she says she doesn’t want to do it, she really doesn’t want to do it.

Topping the list of him making things worse is his seemingly sexual harassment. Some may not be fond of such scenes that make it look like pedo and child sexualisation. You have noticed a few times that this guy would boldly undress Machi like as though she is his plaything (can you call Machi in her undies as fanservice?). Despite not having that perverted look, that dense poker face look is annoying enough. Furthermore, when Yoshio wants to make a point or calm one down, he tries to touch you! No wonder our little girl in the first episode was screaming sexual harassment and not to touch her! It is more evident that an office colleague of his is also afraid of his ‘sexual harassments’. If this guy was to live in the city, you can bet that he will be arrested and thrown into the slammer in no time and even have his name recorded as a registered molester. Therefore with poor Machi being weak and unable to fight back or get away in time like those other ladies, she is often more violated and thus adding to her list of never ending traumas and miseries. That is why from time to time this guy needs to have a good punch in the gut. Uh huh. Nice punching bag.

Last but not least of the main characters, Hibiki isn’t a bad person per se and like how Yoshio would be misunderstood as some sort of pervert in the city, the same misconception can be said for Hibiki as one would easily classify her as a typical delinquent. The mind boggling thing here is how she got her delinquent attitude. Unless she was born this way. But I am assuming that she doesn’t live in the big city assuming it takes hours to travel and it won’t be feasible for her to travel to Kumade every day unless you’re telling me the power of love makes her do so. And since there are no other delinquents in Kumade that I could see of, the only logical explanation why she is acting like a tough aggressive chick is to hide her feelings for Yoshio. Yeah, love is weird. But considering how dense Yoshio is, even if she acts all feminine and drop hints before his eyes, he still won’t catch it all. So sad to know that his first love will always be Kumade. Maybe it is because of this stress that Yoshio doesn’t realize her feelings that she sometimes take out her frustrations on poor Machi. Thus that eternal bad mood look.

The other villagers are rather okay too like the dreamy Etsuko and the casual laidback and always laughing Matsu. I think Kumade has only 3 children who are younger than Machi (among them are Kaori and Shouta). It makes me wonder if they are the only kids in school because you never see other children around. Could their school also be single class despite it looks like it has multi storeys and classrooms. Besides, I don’t see any other students there. Besides, I only see Yoshio and Hibiki as young adults as the rest are elderly men or senior citizens who usually plough the paddy fields.

An interesting and amusing segment is one before the next episode preview called the Totally Cosy Yonkoma Theatre Kumamiko-chan. In a yonkoma style animation, I mostly notice that it is either about eating or food. For some reasons, Machi is reduced into some character who is just munching away or bugging Natsu for some food because she is hungry. So she can’t even feed herself? Well, the most important thing is to enjoy their meal.

Art and drawing are pretty decent. They may look simple but only it is because the setting is in the remote mountainous village. Hence sometimes the background sceneries of the forests and greeneries may look a bit like water colour painting. But it won’t stand out and be jarring since the characters are vividly animated although their designs are mostly simple. I suppose Machi is the only one having the most ‘complicated’ design because of her miko priestess outfit that has a few Ainu motifs. This series is a joint production of 2 studios. The relatively new EMT2 whose only works so far consists of Ame-iro Cocoa and Fudanshi Koukou Seikatsu and the relatively experienced Kinema Citrus who brought us Barakamon, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Black Bullet, Yuyushiki and Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka S2.

At first I was in a dilemma wondering if the voice behind Machi was Kana Asumi but it isn’t. Or could it be Yukari Tamura? Not really either. At some points she does sound close to either. Turns out to be Natsumi Hioka (Kotetsu Katsura of Witch Craft Works) behind Machi’s voice. She did a good job in making sound cute and insecure all at the same time. Even if Machi is such a flawful girl, that cute and perfect voice of hers makes you want to pity and root for her even more. If you are familiar with Bleach’s Sado, not to say that he totally sounds like that character here, but you can identify Hiroki Yasumoto as Natsu thanks to his low voice. He is quite cool playing this bear character. Eri Kitamura is identifiable as Hibiki since she sounds like one of those delinquent or high and mighty roles she sometimes play like Ganessa in Freezing, Ami in Toradora and Odagiri of Yamada-kun And The Seven Witches. Kazuyuki Okitsu voices Yoshio who did Nagare in K and Andre in Prison School.

One of the most wonderful things of this series is the very enjoyable, addictive and highly catchy ending theme. Kumamiko Dancing by the duet of Natsumi Hioka and Hiroki Yasumoto is the song that takes the cake. It could be the catchiest anime song that I have heard in recent seasons. I can’t think of what genre this song falls into at this point but what makes it so good and hip are the perfect combination of Hiroki Yasumoto’s low (sexy) voice, Natsumi Hioka’s high pitch (cute) voice, the appealing drum beats as well as the background vocals that altogether blend in seamlessly with the great tune of the happy song. I’m not sure if I can consider this song similar to those black gospel choirs. With cute funny lyrics (“No reception, no signal but we have Wifi”, “The convenience store is not that convenient”) and the very cute isometric gameplay-like visuals, I believe it is one of those songs that I will never tire to hear for many years to come. This is really good. Not to say that the opening theme Datte Gyutte Shite by Maki Hanatani is bad. It is also cute and lively in its own rights but after hearing the awesome ending piece, it pales in comparison.

Overall, a nice and enjoyable light hearted comedy series if you have had too many comedy settings based in high schools, clubs and the slums and want something different for a change. If you can get past those seemingly pedo jokes and ‘child abuse’ moments, it is a nice slice of life series for everyone. It goes to show that in the countryside there are as many funny and amusing matters to go around and not necessarily making living in the outskirts as boring nature and backwater stuff. Just like Non Non Biyori but even cooler because you have got a talking bear! Remember, laughter is the best medicine. Natsu may not be as cute as his other more popular bear counterparts like Care Bears and Paddington Bear or even Winnie the Pooh and Yogi Bear. But Natsu shows that he can look and act (mostly) like a bear and still have a human heart and soul. Doesn’t that want to make you move out of the city and live with him in the mountains?

Oshiete! Galko-chan

September 10, 2016

I am sure that each one of us when hit with puberty and going through that ‘awful’ phase, our curiosities about our own bodies and especially of the opposite gender would make us ponder over such issues. Many of us would be too shy and embarrassed to ask such questions. Who do we look for to get our answers? Don’t worry, people. Look no further for Oshiete! Galko-chan is here to answer your curious needs about the female body. Ah yes, which guy wouldn’t be interested to know more about the female body and anatomy. Unless you’re gay… But that is besides the point. This series addresses some (but not all) of those pressing and embarrassing issues that you were too afraid to ask before in fear of being ridiculed, shamed and labelled as a pervert. Myth or fact, this show covers it (but don’t expect it to be comprehensive) in an entertaining way that doesn’t make it look like you are watching some sort of serious documentary. Edutainment? Despite the series mainly discusses about the female body, it isn’t only intended for guys as girls can safely watch this too. If only there were such series back in those days to find out more about the birds and bees…

Episode 1
Galko doesn’t think the size of the boobs can affect one’s areolas. So Otako has her draw 2 circles on the tip of the balloon. When she blows it up, see how the circles enlarge? Galko often comes in late for class. Everyone thinks she is out with a date last night but actually she spent watching the entire 26 episodes of an anime all in one night. Galko thinks boys are dumb when they ask her about her big boobs are so because a guy kept massaging them. But when Otako questions how she even knows that is true, she cannot answer back. Galko reads passionately a paragraph from the literature text. While everyone impressed with her voice acting and the way she reads it makes it very interesting, Otako can only note that the topic has students only memorizing kanji and infer answers from a set of questions so reading passionately doesn’t help at all. Galko suddenly stops reading halfway through. It seems she knows there is a kissing scene coming up. After class she reads the entire story and can’t help feel emotional about it. Does the thickness of eyebrows have an association with pubic hair? With Otako discussing the possible link, Galko excuses herself to the toilet to cut her eyebrows. Since she accidentally cut them all, she decides never to come out till they grow back! Noticing the boys doing kanchou, it reminds Galko she was also a victim of one but rather the bully’s fingers broke and was hospitalized! Isn’t that not the way how kanchou supposed to work? Despite knowing how much her butt will hurt, Galko continues to enjoy her spicy food. It’s because she thinks she is having constipation now and will be fine. True enough next morning, her ass hurts like hell. Otako offers her a cushion and then explains how the membranes in your ass and tongue are the same. Only difference, butts don’t have tasting sensory so it can’t taste sweetness even if you put sugar. And Galko actually tried it out? For the question if girls have hair on their butts, we see them talking about multiple ply toilet paper as well as cheap places having cheap quality products. That is why you can’t recycle using a single ply toilet paper because it gets tangled in your butt hair! Galko is late again as usual for morning class. As the day goes by, Otako notices Galko gets more active. Could it be that she is just not a morning person?

Episode 2
Do virgins only use pads while non-virgins use tampons? The question is whether you want to insert it ‘there’. As Galko is still sleepy in class, Otako suggests doing a headstand after she gets up. Of course that is supposed to be a joke but Galko really did it and she started experiencing nose bleeds. After giving her an energy drink, Galko finds it tasty and drinks more. However this means she has to go to the toilet since the stimulant stimulates her bladder. Otako then explains why women have weaker bladders than men because of their different body structure. Most essentially women have smaller bladders because of the uterus. The next time Galko goes to the toilet, Otako and Ojou time how long she takes to return and then bet whether it was a big or small issue. Now it is the guys’ turn to discuss about girls. What about them? Their coloured panties! Because pure girls like Ojou, they can only imagine she always wears white. Girls like Otako would wear some animal prints and naughtier girls like Galko would wear coloured or flashy panties. They believe why girls wear coloured ones is so that it wouldn’t look easily stained when they show it to guys. Then each of them imagine their interaction with Galko and definitely think she likes them. Galko makes some curry bread. The reason is that if she bought them, she would have to use her own allowance but if she makes them, her father would give her money. Because she used the term ‘papa’, everyone had the wrong idea the kind of father she was having. Otako wonders the need to cook these days as food is so easily available everywhere. Ojou claims she loves cooking but her overprotective parents disallow her to hold a ‘blade’. You mean a chopping knife? As Galko talks how tough it is to make bread, Otako asks about the softness of its dough. She compares them to her boobs and the boys get the wrong idea so embarrassed Galko dismissed it that she was just talking about it in general. Otao sees how Galko’s boobs are pressed against the table. Later he goes to the supermarket to buy dough and knead them so that he could have a feel how boobs are.

Episode 3
Galko just had her tan. Wondering if her nipples are tanned too, Otaku yells out that they are tanned so Galko dismisses them and explains about the pasties she got so they are still pink. Anyhow the guys overheard it… When Ojou walks past the guys, they smell this sweet scent and wonder if she used an expensive soap. Otako might smell like a new textbook but the guys don’t find it too bad. As for Galko, they smell something attractive from her. Could it be the scent of love? When Otao talks about this mecha anime he just watched, the other guys think he is lame. But Galko heard about it and suddenly becomes interested. She also likes that anime and spends time talking to Otao about it. The other guys note how they must watch this anime… Otako decides to play a trick on Galko. She talks about girls with big boobs have inverted nipples. Galko didn’t make that surprised reaction as Otako expects. Was the topic too complicated for her to understand? Then Otako continues to exaggerate about the bad points of having inverted nipples since a mother can’t feed her newborn. Suddenly this makes Galko cry as she gets up and runs away. She is upset that Otako is implying she can’t be a mother. For the next few days, Galko is absent from class. Otako feels bad but maintains her pride. Till Ojou talks to her about hiding her feelings. Just go and apologize to her. Otako is outside Galko’s house and she has armed herself with knowledge about inverted nipples. Yeah, she read the entire encyclopaedia about it so she is an expert on the topic! When Galko doesn’t answer the doorbell or her call, Otako fears the worse. She panics and states the truth about mothers with inverted nipples can still be moms. More importantly she discloses how happy she is to be friends with a pretty and popular girl. She is very sorry for that prank. Turns out Galko was just sick and recuperating. Otako wonders if she can still be her friend. Does she have to ask a question when the answer is so obvious? Galko invites her in for tea then.

Episode 4
Otako praises Ojou’s slim hands. This has Ojou unintentionally praise Galko’s big hands. Galko flusters and proves she does not by putting it against the palm of a guy, Supoo. I wonder if he is going to ever wash that hand of his. When Otako spots a pubic hair on Galko’s shirt, this time she is more careful and thinks if she should tell her as she does not want to make her cry like last time. Unfortunately Galko dug her own grave when she herself says aloud she spotted a pubic hair on her shirt. Of course this catches the class’ attention so she corrects herself that it is armpit hair. Ojou gives Galko a shoulder massage. She is told to mind her loud moaning but when she tries to muffle her moaning, it sounded quite erotic. Ojou also gives Otako a shoulder massage and it makes her make a weird sound. She hits the spot? Then they talk about having bigger boobs means more prone to having shoulder problems. Otao then tests it out by dangling a couple of bottles over his shoulders just for feels. Galko gives sweets as cough drops to her classmates. Otako wonders why she has so many of them. Apparently she got them in exchange for helping her friends with minor stuffs. Galko tells Otako if she ever needs anything, she can ask her. So does she have a pad? Or even a condom?! Yeah, she’s just messing with Galko as usual. Ojou overheard them but got the wrong idea of the ‘rubber’ they are talking about. This means Ojou nonchalantly explains the ‘rubber’ (hair bands) she always carries around just in case as she uses them often. They come in different colours too! Imagine her embarrassment when Otako tells her what they were actually talking about. Otako and Ojou later tease Galko about girls with big boobs have big areolas. Because Ojou has a cousin whose boobs are as big as Galko’s and so are her areolas. Otako exaggerates it to be as big as a tyre making Galko to fluster like mad.

Episode 5
The eternal question if boob size is inversely proportionate to intelligence. Iinchou (class rep) seems to think so and believes Galko must never have thought about it or give any thoughts to anything else. She is surprised when she sees her entering an essay competition on how to eliminate war on Earth! When Galko praises Iinchou’s essay to be something deep and thoughtful, Iinchou thinks Galko have written something even deeper. Charao gives Otao and Supoo a shopping mall quiz that turns out to be a psychological test. They are surprised since it evaluates accurately their personality. Charao then decides to use this test on Galko. But he finds it hard to concentrate when he can’t help look at her delicious parts while she gives her answer. Galko then tells this to her test but eventually she doesn’t have an answer because Charao never told her. When Otako is amazed Galko can pack lunch since she is not a morning person, Galko reveals it is her sister who does it. Flashback reveals Galko promised she would wake up in the morning so that she can watch a late night show. Too bad she is a sleepyhead in the morning and her sister as expected takes care of everything. Otako then asks if sisters borrow stuffs from each other. Galko confirms it since they are similar in size and even borrow her school uniform. Otako flusters and wonders if her sister really borrows her school uniform for that. It took a while for Galko to realize what she is implying. Back home, Galko confronts her sister about this so big sis explains how she uses it in foreplay and takes it off before sex! Well, her boyfriend takes it off. Galko regrets hearing all that.

Episode 6
Otako spots Galko with a new lipstick. Time to mess with her head. Do you know the colour and shape of one’s lips represents a person’s genitals? Galko took the bait and is now more conscious than ever. For the rest of the day she tries to hide her lips while she analyzes the lips of others. So conscious that she is making funny faces now and then. When Otako tells this to Ojou, she commends them for being brave to know what they look like because she herself is too scared to check it out. This only makes Otako fluster. Galko wears a vest despite being hot so that her bra won’t show through her shirt. She gets tricked to inform that she is wearing a bright red bra today since Otako tells it to Ojou. Galko was at the lingerie store but couldn’t find lingerie the store sells now that is her size. It has to be custom made. She bought 3 period panties for a special price. Despite not cute, might as well get something cheap since they might get stained anyway. Ojou then talks how she gets her lingerie measurements via personal designer. Galko wants her to come along the next time she shops for lingerie. The trio meet up. Otako dresses casual, Galko like a slut (at least that is the first thing that comes to our dirty minds) and Ojou in her formal kimono. After shopping for clothes, they go watch a foreign movie. The scene turns into an intimate love making scene. Otako is very conscious about this and wonders how her pals are holding up. Surprisingly they have a serious expression. Could it be that Otako is the only perverted thoughts? Later when they talk about that scene, Galko nonchalantly mentions she too would like to one day passionately make love with someone like that. Otako’s face now turns red like a traffic light.

Episode 7
If you wonder if big boobs float on water, you can thank Galko for confirming that. The friends are at the pool in which Ojou won as a prize from a raffle. Galko wonders if tampons will absorb water and expand inside. Otako assures they are waterproof. Galko tries to tease her as the tampon master but it has no effect. Galko shows her off her shaved armpit. Silky smooth. She realizes she forgot to shave down there since her pants are hard to come off. Ojou notices Galko’s bikini is showing too much skin so Otako reminds her that because of her big boobs, she can only adjust the size with the straps. A young boy named Kuseta gets lost and bumps into Galko. Since he misplaced his wallet, she treats him. Kuseta was actually here with his mom. Because his fellow female classmates tease him as mama’s boy, he got embarrassed and ran off. Speaking of them, here they are to tease him again. Galko wraps herself around Kuseta, making him like a million dollar winner. The bullies got ‘scared’ and back off. Galko hopes Kuseta will reconcile with his mom. He still thinks she is an embarrassment so Galko scolds him he should never feel so about his own mother. In class, Otako is baffled that Ojou is as tanned as Galko since the latter did apply sunscreen. Galko realized too late she took the wrong spray and it was some kind of pheromone spray. This somewhat explains why younger boys tried to hit on Otaku at the pool. I mean, a kid young enough to be her brother is asking her to be his wife?! The tan is also a pain for Galko because now she has sun burn and getting into the bath is a painful affair. Kuseta is dreamy and thinking only about Galko. His bullies feel jealous and order extra milk to make their boobs bigger.

Episode 8
You’re not a guy if you don’t rank the girls in your class who has the biggest boobs. Doesn’t Galko win hands down? Not quite. Because there is Nikuko who is a very fat girl and has monstrous boobs too. Thus the cup size is determined by the difference between over-bust and under-bust instead of overall size. Surprisingly Galko suggests Okako to them too. She is a tall girl and because she is always slouching, the boobs of this occult fanatic don’t really show. With the guys staring at her, she feels she is being watched… By a ghost?! Ojou and Otako notice Galko looking at her nails. She does keep them well maintained but it seems she has also written her shopping list on her wrist?! Galko can cook thanks to some transparent glove. However her sister ‘ruined’ it by telling her something extra about it. You know, some girls prefer to masturbate this way instead of using devices… When Iinchou notices she has a cracked fingernail, Galko will not let this slip by and quickly gives her a manicure treatment. With the guys playing a dumb game of pinpointing the nipple, Otako teases Galko one can find her exact nipple spot if you just hold your earlobes and go straight down… You tried that, didn’t you?! Galko makes a fuss when she realizes her bangs are messy. Bomuo doesn’t understand why she would be so concern with something petty, criticizing if the economy would plunge just because of her hair. But he still notes her big boobs. Next day, he comes to school with his hair quite messy. His mom didn’t say a thing and just smiled. Bomuo feels so embarrassed but that is when Galko comes to the rescue. She fixes up his hair nicely with her accessories and even makes Charao lend his expensive hair gel (or else she’ll reveal an embarrassing secret!). Despite Bomuo noting he doesn’t care about the hairstyle, after school he goes to the shop to buy that hair gel. It’s really expensive. When he comes home expecting his mom to say something, all she ever does is just smile and stare the entire way…

Episode 9
Because Galko is communicating via sign language and this annoys Otako, she purposely misinterprets and says aloud how she dislocated her jaw by training to put a man’s thing in her mouth! There, she finally spoke. Turns out she watched an American show last night and a character had crooked teeth. She was horrified when she see her fixed it via braces. Now Galko is quite concerned and tries to hide them. But next day, she can’t help show them off as she has seen a vampire show last night. When Galko talks to Otako about African Americans in movies, Ojou wants to join in and make some sort of joke. Uh huh. She started talking about colours of tits and vagina. Huh?! Then when they talk about hymen breaking due to horse riding, Ojou flusters and couldn’t come up with anything. I’m not sure about Galko scaring and then apologizing to people. Why is she mad? She found out she gained 200g! Otako is in disbelief because that is considered nothing. In fact you lose that much by peeing. And if she wants to lose weight, start off with those boobs first. But Nikuko interjects that it doesn’t work. She lost weight before but nothing changed and her boobs remained the same ever since. The guys start wondering if her boobs were that big before. Skinny girl with big boobs? There is a manga with a character having a pierced tongue. Galko wants to read it but is scared each time she has to see this character. This has Otako asking if she was scared when she decided to pierce her ears. Galko remembers her sister freaking her out with lies about drills when she first said she wanted to pierce them. When Otako tries to tease Galko of another old wives’ tale about earlobes, it seems Galko already knows it and turns the tables on Otako that she believes in such rumours. Otako then proceeds to tell a horror story how a woman wearing big earring hoops had it caught by a passing van and tore off her… You get the idea… Because of that, Galko becomes scared and tries to protect her ears. Her friends revise their plan and show a picture of Buddha who once pierced them as a prince. Those holes bring wisdom and happiness. The simple minded girl is back to her happy self again.

Episode 10
The boys are complaining when the teacher makes them do laps. But when they see the girls running and how much Galko’s boobs bounce, they start praising running is the best. Is that so? The teacher tells them to run another 10 laps! They continue to observe Galko’s violent jiggling boobs but they are surprised to see Nikuko. In fact, she is faster and because of her good running posture, they stay stable and don’t bounce about. Galko sees Otako and Charao talking and wants in but is shooed away. They discuss about this habit of Galko always wanting to butt into something but can’t handle it subsequently. Otako and Charao continue their talk on hair loss for men that are mostly genetics. Otako mentions about girls liking guys with close cropped hair. Something like Supoo’s. Charao thinks it is grade 3 hairstyle but Supoo dismisses it to be grade 4. Supoo remembers a baseball game he was in. The opposing team’s school was cheering very loudly. But he remembers Galko cheering his name at the top of the voice. It made him happy. Charao notices Galko staring at him. When she takes him away, it is actually to clean his curry stains on his jersey. So that was bugging her so much? Oh, also his zipper is open! Charao notices Galko is wearing a men’s shirt. He starts fantasizing that she must have woken up after having a steamy affair with a man last night. Say, her shirt was spilled with wine? Thus she borrowed his shirt. Thus he keeps wondering who her boyfriend is. Despite going out with his junior girlfriend, his entire thoughts throughout the karaoke session are filled with the mysterious guy Galko was with. At the end of the day, Charao wonders if she still has time because he got some rubber. She flusters and slaps him. When Ojou notices the men’s shirt Galko is wearing, Otako explains about her broader shoulders and big boobs which make them fit better. Charao’s girlfriend couldn’t believe he is such a pervert but Charao sends an apology text and mentions how important she is to him and so she is back to loving him once more.

Episode 11
Otao leaves the infirmary once he feels well. On his way back to class, because the hallway looks so deserted, he finds it unusual. The he spots the girls coming back from swimming class and goes into hiding. Maybe he needs to go back to the infirmary as his anaemia is coming back… A girl watches Galko order her coffee like a pro unlike herself who is flustering. Then she watches her burn her tongue. She continues to observe Galko reading a manga that is written by her favourite author. She watches Galko flusters because it becomes hardcore BL in the middle! Otako didn’t understand when Galko texted her something about the fancy toilet paper in some cafe. Next day, the teacher is talking about different types of toilet papers used by different civilizations throughout the ages so Otako teases Galko how cultured her text was yesterday. The class votes on which movie to watch. Galko suggests a lesser known direct-to-video movie. But because she cannot explain it well (thinking it would be spoilers), her movie garnered the least votes. Ojou cheers her up that they can watch it at her place. Galko is grateful and also suggests having a slumber party. Otako packs her stuffs and some animes to bring over. There is one that is ecchi as she keeps thinking if only she herself would fluster. She brought it anyway. Another dilemma is if she should bring pads. She has this weird thought that Ojou might have a chamber full of different pad collections. She’ll bring hers just in case. The girls had a very fun slumber party. Only shocking part is that while watching the ecchi anime, only Galko started flustering. During the screening of the movie in class, the trio fall asleep. Too much slumber partying?

Episode 12
We go back in time a little when our new students are just a week into their first year. Otako observes how students quickly form into their respective groups. She considers herself an outsider and doesn’t belong into any one of those cliché groups. She prefers being alone. Till Galko tries to talk to her because she is always reading alone. Galko sounded a little bit rude pointing out she is like an otaku. Otako just got up and leave and left a stinging rebuke for her. When the class is at the library, Otako observes Galko mixing in with the rest and believes this is supposed to be the way. Suddenly she feels her biggest period ever is coming. So big that she can’t move as she sits on the floor. Galko happen to walk by and she immediately understood what is going on and takes her to the toilet. She even gives her medicine for her cramps. Otako is grateful but wonders why she didn’t call for the teacher’s help. The teacher is a guy. He is the kind to panic when confronted with such womanly things. They started talking about things and surprisingly enjoy each other’s company. Most important of all, they realize that they shouldn’t behave or live in a way based on how they look or do. So can a gyaru be friends with an otaku? Why not? Otako then teases her as a virgin and this makes Galko fluster. Ojou overheard their conversation and finds it interesting. She wants to join in. Sure. Why not? And that is how the trio become friends. Throughout the term, Galko continues to barely arrive in class before it starts. Otako notes this habit of hers and her reply is that if she comes to class early, it means she can talk more often to her friends, right? A touching moment, something that would fluster Otako but it is ruined because Galko falls back to sleep on her desk. Well, I guess it is the thought that counts.

Tell Me More About Sex, Please?
So now can we move on to proper sex education? I am sure most of us would be very much to learn more on this topic. Hehehe… But this series isn’t exactly porn or close to it but it still makes you wonder if this and other early sex education and awareness would be effective in countering porn is yet to be seen. Anyhow, this is actually a smart and intelligent series in its own right. You’d be surprised to learn a thing a thing or two.

It is tempting trying to label the topics in this series as some sort of cheap fanservice. After all, in today’s world where everyone can be offended by everything, talking about tit colours and pubic hairs sound like another one of those subjects that would raise the ire of politically incorrect people. It is as though such aural fanservice (in place of visual fanservice) is to attract viewers to watch the series. In many ways, this series has tried its best in providing something educational but yet in an entertaining way. Instead of getting really technical and spouting terms that young teens would not understand, the depiction of the normal lives of high school students in their daily affairs seem to be much more realistic and something that all of us can relate to. After all, we adults have gone through that phase before. Unless of course you have been brought up strictly, cut off from the outside world and society, but that is a different story altogether.

Therefore seeing Galko’s busty chest might automatically have many saying that her huge racks are only for fanservice purpose. This is partly true since what other better way to talk about the myths and facts of boobs if they do not stand out in particular (no pun intended). Not to say that flat chests are excluded but there is a higher chance that something visually more obvious and appealing would be ‘easier’ to talk about. At least for guys. Unless you are a petanko fanatic, you don’t often hear guys talk, discuss and compare girls with smaller boobs, right? It is the same argument for the few panty shot and lingerie scenes scattered throughout the series. Because again, what kind of guys aren’t interested in what colour of a girl’s panties, am I right? Unless you’re gay…

I feel tempted to make a handful tit and nipple jokes but I don’t see the POINT of it! Haha! I thought of RACKING up a few boob jokes but I guess such jokes wouldn’t get any SUPPORT! Haha! How do you guys keep ABREAST of things if you don’t talk about these things? Haha! Okay, okay. Enough of it already. Sorry, I just wanted to get it OFF MY CHEST. Hahaha! Alright, better stop. Don’t want you people to make dick jokes in retaliation, TIT for tat. Hahaha! Okay, seriously. No more boob jokes. I promise.

Even if there are many other issues that aren’t addressed (I suppose teen pregnancy falls in a totally different category) or the ones that do so aren’t exactly comprehensive or accurate, at least it creates some sort of awareness that one might have or not knew in the first place. And whether or not you will apply such knowledge somewhere in your life is again another different story. At least you know, right? So mainly it is either people might fluster or feel awkward when they hear such topics (either because they are too pure/innocent or they didn’t see it coming) or you can be like me, no reaction and putting on such a serious monotonous face throughout the series. Yeah, this means I am mature, right? :-).

Besides some of those embarrassing body questions posed here, another great lesson that we can learn is that despite many of the characters here look like some sort of stereotype, they are still human beings. Despite everyone has a different body size and build, some basic bodily functions still work the same. And of course, to never judge a book by its cover. Considering the characters here to look and act like your stereotypes, it is for illustration purpose and supposedly the setting of this series. It is true that we tend to immediately pigeonhole at first sight but once you get to know each other, race, skin colour, religion and even your political beliefs take a back seat. Strength in diversity, no? But I still can never get close into the circle of those hot beautiful chicks in my class… :’(.

Although the characters themselves aren’t much, they are likeable even though all of them can be considered as stereotypes because typically at least you have known one of them to be so in your life, right? It makes them relatable. Despite the fact the characters are also aptly named after their stereotype traits or personalities, it gives you a rough idea and you can pretty much tell what kind of character that individual is. I mean, which high school doesn’t have the character who is the jock? What about the most popular guy in school? There is always that very fat person too, right? And yes, the nerd. Every class has to have one. The only stereotype missing here is the gangster-cum-delinquent type. Hmm… I don’t this was necessary in this kind of anime in the first place. Despite each character having their apt names, it is hinted that they do actually have a real one (as seen in the final episode). But I guess when you’re friends, you tend to call each other by your nicknames.

As for our main trio, ironically you get to more about them during the opening animation credits because in each episode there will be a different narration of what their likes, ambition and their characteristics in addition to the generic narration of their main personality. It will be grinded into your head that Galko is a sharp tongued but good natured popular girl, Otako who often sits at the corner of the class but is ironically somehow friends with Galko and likes to tease her a lot, and finally Ojou an airhead who somehow hangs out with the duo and tries to get closer to them. So don’t miss out on the opening or you will miss such ‘great details’. Come to think of it, it does seem odd that very different people are good friends. Not that there is anything bad about it but how often do you have a trendy popular girl, a frumpy nerd and a rich, strict noble upbringing girl together as best friends?

The art and drawing of the series feel okay. The character designs look generic but this is mainly to cater to their character stereotype. But I somehow feel that the colours are quite vivid and rich. Hmm… How should I explain it? Somehow I feel that they put lots of quality into the colouring and hues of the animation that is why the characters mainly look bright (visually) and lush. Perhaps this is the most richly coloured series I have watched in recent years and the most under the Feel studio’s portfolio of other animes like Locodol, the Da Capo series, Jinsei, Fortune Arterial, Outbreak Company, KissxSis and Dagashi Kashi.

It is one of those times when I squealed in delight because the first voice that opened the series in the first episode (and also for many other episodes) is no other than Mamiko Noto!!! She might not play a physical character in this series but rather the narrator. I guess it would be a waste if she were to just be the voice of the narrator and thus any onomatopoeia sound effects are also made by her. For a long time I almost forgot that she can still sound this cute and lovely rather than being casted as the older and motherly female characters or characters that need that kind of husky voice these days. Worst of all, characters that could be killed off! Oh yeah. How do you kill off a narrator anyway? All hail Mamiko Noto forever!!!! <3.

Surprisingly for a short anime, there is quite a reasonably long cast list considering the many characters there are in the series despite many of them just making a handful of cameos. While there are identifiable ones like Yoshitsugu Matsuoka as Otao, Takahiro Sakurai as Charao , Daisuke Ono as Supoo and Youko Hikasa as Galko’s older sister, some that aren’t so recognizable (at least in my books) are Azumi Waki as Galko (Sanae in The Idolmaster Cinderella Girls), Miyu Tomita as Otako (Yume in Aikatsu Stars), Miyu Takahashi as Ojou (Megumi in Shokugeki No Souma), Ayaka Suwa as Iinchou (Tokaku in Akuma No Riddle), Juri Kimura as Nikuko (Aoi in Shirobako), Yuko Iida as Okako (Mei in Witch Craft Works) and Makoto Furukawa as Bomuo (Saitama in One Punch Man). The opening theme is YPMA Girls by the voices behind Galko, Otako and Ojou. It is one of those generic lively girl group anime pop but it isn’t entirely that bad. At least for this genre.

Overall, this is quite a reasonably good anime and addresses some of those bugging questions that have been burning for your entirely teen life that were never answered. Were you red faced and feeling some sort of inner discomfort after watching the series or did it activated your horny drive instead? This is one of those few animes that take the ecchi and fanservice genre to a different level and don’t make the entire series looking like a generic sleazy, cheap, cheesy fanservice title. It goes to show that you can still make a proper anime under such category and still be as entertaining and perhaps even more so than sitting through an entire boring lecture about the human reproduction system. No, it isn’t dirty. Only your shallow mind is. Knowing such things doesn’t make you a pervert in general.

Otherwise would there be any other way we can get proper education about the birds and the bees? Oh yeah. We can always get our sex education from porn all over the internet, right? Let’s face it. Porn is everywhere! If there is one thing lacking realistically in this series, it is about Galko and her friends finding out about porn on the internet. It would be amusing to see their reactions when they are exposed to free internet porn. Oh yes, porn. The biggest misguided sex education in the world. Then we need more of Galko-chan to tell us and debunk our flawed insights on sex. I hope I didn’t rub this the wrong way :-). Whoops, sorry. Hey, at least it isn’t a boob joke. Almost fell into a booby trap there. Oh, damn it!

Aria The Avvenire

September 9, 2016

Wait a minute. I thought it was over? Too good to let it go? Well, I suppose it was good enough that Aria The Avvenire was produced to celebrate the 10th anniversary since Aria The Animation first broadcasted over the airwaves. Wow. Come to think about it, it has been a long time. Feel so old… Feeling so nostalgic. Ah, I guess that is why this is another reason to bring back up this series for one last time (assuming this would be the last one). Those who have watched the series and loved it would have fond memories of all the miracles, meetings and character bonding the series had to offer. Now we get to relieve it again with its 3 episode specials.

Episode 1
I’m not sure of President Aria’s plan in making friends with seagulls with an equally ugly seagull doll. No wonder he gets pecked! As Ai has been promoted to a Single, she sets out for another practice with Akari. So this sets another flashback as Akari tells to Ai. When Alicia was still active as an Undine, Akari noticed her busy schedule. At this rate she won’t get a moment’s rest. Then she spots Akira outside spying. Seems she is here to give Alicia a present for her faux birthday. Unlike on Man Home (Earth), Aqua (Mars) operates on a year with 24 months. This means everyone has a second ‘fake’ birthday. She doesn’t mind waiting but it seems there is change in the schedule that increases Alicia’s workload. Thus Akari hopes Akira can help her practice during this time. At the end of the day, Akira mentions how pathetic and nostalgic she feels about this. The trio used to be together all the time when they were Singles. When they became Prima, they hardly had time for each other. Times they spent together were precious. She doesn’t want to go back to those days, it is just that she really wants them to get together for today. Then a miracle happens. Alicia is seen rowing in front of them. Making it better is Athena is also in the picture singing. Akira then tosses her present like throwing a baseball. Nice catch. The best present would be their radiant smiles. Ai is encouraged by Akari’s story. She wonders if she could find her own friends like she did and those before her. Of course she can. Because Aqua is the planet of miracles. Even their meeting is a miracle itself.

Episode 2
Ai wants to show Akari a miracle. Flashback to what happened. While Ai and President Aria were rowing their gondola, they spot a mysterious cat shadow in the alley. They think it is Cait Sith and went to go after it. As hard as they follow, it led them to some unknown part of town where they stumble into Azusa B. McLaren of Himeya and Anya Dostoyevskaya of Orange Planet who are looking for the same thing too. They know all about Ai since they researched her since they are curious about the new girl at Aria Company. The trio agree to look for Cait Sith together but to no avail. So as they take a break at plaza, Ai notices the duo are training together so she requests if she could join them. But of course. And that is the miracle that Ai is telling Akari. The miracle of Cait Sith granted her this miraculous meeting. Akari still believes Cait Sith is watching over them. Time for her to tell her experience in meeting Cait Sith for the last time.

When Akari told Aika she couldn’t see Cait Sith anymore, she thinks it is because they are becoming adults so the first step is to stop seeing things they see as children. Then Alice brings them to one of the 7 mysterious of the town. There is an unfortunate stone where everyone avoids stepping. It is believed to bring bad luck. Alice immediately jumps on it and nothing happens. She explains she has been doing this since young. Perhaps it doesn’t work on her. Perhaps this is an experiment to see if it anything would happen to her friends? After Aika and Alice leave for their work, Akari gets curious and steps on it. You know what they say about curiosity and the cat. At first nothing happened but suddenly she drops down into the stone! Then she finds herself free falling from the sky above the town! Also falling with her is Cait Sith. She is happy to see him again and wants to do so in the future. However Cait Sith hints this is the last time they’ll ever see each other. Akari is sad but he points out he will always be in her heart. As long as you remember, right? Akari hopes she will always stay with her in her heart. Cait Sith hugs her as they plunge into the river! I think smashing into the river at this speed is like hitting a brick wall… But when Akari opens her eyes, she is on a gondola with President Aria. In her hand is a pendant from Cait Sith proving she did meet him for one last time. Now Akari shows the pendant to Ai and they believe the lights inside it must be miracles. Akari feels that despite saying goodbye to Cait Sith on that day, she was able to see him again thanks to Ai. Could it be the feelings of love awakened this miracle?

Episode 3
We go back in time to see Alicia putting up a recruitment poster outside. Shortly after, she receives her first applicant. We all know who that is, right? On the phone, Akari was a bundle of nerves. The first time Alicia laid eyes on Akari, she was attracted to her and knew she would be the one. In the present, Ai continues to hang out with Azusa and Anya. They vow to work hard to become a Prima. With the rainy season, they realize the Aqua Alta phenomenon is around the corner. Next morning, Ai is ecstatic to experience her first Aqua Alta as the ankle deep waters flood the area. Akari would love to spend the day with her but it seems Ai has her own plans. Looks like lunch and dinner will be on her own… Ai then meets up with her friends. By noon, Akari receives mail from Ai to meet. It seems the young ones have planned a celebration feast for their seniors. Not only them but the Water Fairies as well. Except Athena couldn’t come. As the celebration goes along, they notice Alicia has fallen asleep. She has been tired from working with the Gondola Association and trying to change things for the better. We see her dream how the association guys visit her numerous times to convince her to join them. At first she declines but their persistence has her curious and interested. Though, she vowed to train someone enough to take over her company. And she wanted to take her time to slowly nurture her. So we have more flashbacks of their time together, the happiness and the sadness of their meeting. When Akari was ready and promoted to a Prima, it was time for Alicia to move on as she can’t stay in the same place forever. Her time that had stopped had begun to move again. Alicia wakes up and tells the rest of her wonderful nostalgic dream. Their discussion turn to Athena whom they lament would have loved to attend this party. Then a miracle happened. They hear her trademark singing. There she is. I guess she could make it after all. What a happy end to the day. Now everyone can look forward to more miracles in the future.

Embarrassing Nostalgia Is Not Allowed!
Sniff, sniff. Yup. It wasn’t anything much except that it played very well on my nostalgia. So well that at times I could feel tears welling up and that squeeze in my heart thinking back about the old scenes (although I have mostly forgotten many of them). This special stays true to its Aria-style of storytelling and doesn’t break the mould. Like I said, it is mostly to play on old fans and viewers’ nostalgia. For newer audiences, they might be bored to death and not understand a thing or what the heck this is all about. But then again, this special was intentionally made with such old audiences in mind.

And yes, it goes without saying that they played again all those cool and easy going BGM soundtracks. From Aqua to Tenki Ame, they are very familiar tracks that would instantly evoke nostalgia for those who heard and love their brand of music (like yours truly). It is nice to hear them once more. Even the opening themes are the familiar Undine, Euphoria and Spirale. Ah yes. More nostalgia at your service. So if you think that the music for all the specials are just rehash of old music, there is a new music for it and that is the ending theme, Piacere by Shiena Nishizawa. Another calm and soothing (read: Beautiful) slow piece that is in line with the Aria songs that you have heard so far. And do I need to mention the awesome backgrounds and scenery? Still breathtaking after all these years.

As for the characters, everyone is the same and kind soul like they are on this planet. Nobody are vicious criminals because if there were, they’d be in the wrong anime! So anyway, this special now gives Ai the focus and introduces a couple of new characters who would no doubt as expected become her friends. I guess there is this trend that Undines have to follow throughout the generations. Uh huh. One budding Undine from each company becomes close friends with each other. We can’t have more than that since Aria Company always and will only have a single apprentice at any given time. For the rest of the Undine veterans, some may feel they lack much screen time but with only 3 episodes to spare and they want to bring the focus to a new generation, I guess I can pretty much forgive that.

Despite the nostalgia hype in this special, there is also a small amount of sadness it brought out. For fans, you would know it is very subtle in Athena’s case. Her seiyuu has passed away many years ago and thus you would notice that her character doesn’t have much appearance and if she does, she does not have lines. Besides, her singing voice (even in the TV series) was done by another singer and the lines you hear in this special are actually taken from the TV series. No new recordings for her. RIP Tomoko Kawakami.

Overall, this series only holds a special place in the hearts of fans who have watched the entire series in the mid-2000’s. Newer generations might not hear of this gem and would just go, “WTF is this piece of boring sh*t” but that is understandable seeing there are too many animes these days and so many just fail to live up to decent expectations. Although there is not much of a story in this special, that is where the miracle of nostalgia starts to weave its magic and work on our senses. That is why even though if the plot offers nothing new and no new direction (despite the constant ‘reminders’ and ‘spamming’ about the wonderful future the characters will have and miracles to meet), the wonderfulness of the TV series of the bygone era was there, still in its effect. It may be so too if they ever make more of such specials in the future. Yes, this is one truly miraculous series that has stand tested throughout time.

Sore Ga Seiyuu OVA

June 10, 2016

So… WHERE THE HECK IS MAMIKO NOTO???!!! I thought they did this OVA because they felt bad in leaving out my favourite seiyuu and thus Sore Ga Seiyuu OVA was supposed to be their redemption. But alas, it was not meant to be. So they’re not sorry they left her out?! Oh, who am I kidding? I didn’t really think this series would have an OVA in the first place. Albeit it only lasts for 15 minutes…

Petit Uchiage
Our girls are having their day off and they are really excited to spend their time well at this hotspring inn. Sorry folks. No full fanservice here. The most you can see is their butts, which really amounts to nothing. In the hotspring, Rin said something cute that made Futaba hug her. Their hotspring enjoyment includes watching a hero show. The funny part was how Rin was being taken as ‘hostage’ by the baddie but Ichigo punched him! Not too sure if she is jealous for not being picked since she was quite enthusiastic about it. As they go buy souvenirs, they pick their favourite mascot straps. Rin picked a creepy one but with her voiceover, she could make it sound super cute. The trio continue to play out a scene using those mascots till they realize a couple of young kids are watching them. Embarrassing? In fact, the kids are quite in awe and want them to continue. In the midst of that, an employee spots them. I suppose he is a big fan of Earphones from the way he reacts after seeing them. They are then taken to the president’s room whereby Masumi Asano hopes the girls can put on a live performance at this place. At first they are unsure but with Ichigo having all the hype that this can be their bonus event, they are in. That guy couldn’t be happier… It boggles me how they can print flyers of their performance so fast. And thankfully instead of choosing cheesy mascot outfits for the performance, at least the t-shirt of the inn is better than all those crappy options. I mean, you want to go for that Playboy bunny suit? And so their performance begins much to the delight of the crowd. Futaba has a little tripping but it isn’t any big deal. She is a funny girl, right? They also host a lucky draw event in addition to singing. What a swell time. On the bus trip back, Futaba notices the kids sleeping holding a signed group photo of Earphones with them. Can they actually sleep like that?

No Event Is Too Small For A Budding Seiyuu
Well, I can’t say I am impressed (because no Mamiko Noto). But it isn’t a total disappointment too. Because really, what else would you have expected? In any case, this special episode is just something extra for the fans who bought the final volume of the BDs instead of anything that is groundbreaking in terms of development or characters. So it goes to show that you do not have to have flashy mega concerts in big cities around the world just to be famous or become famous. Earphones doing an impromptu performance at a small hotspring inn may not even be news or reach the edges of the internet but at least for all those who are there, they are happy in seeing their performance. It is perhaps little gestures like this that go a long way and such little gigs that make unknown units into famous stardoms. So… How many more hotspring performances will they need to perform on their day off so that a scout could spot them and give them their big break?