Hoshizora E Kakaru Hashi

August 11, 2012

Boy from city returns to rural town for healthier environment due to his little brother’s asthma condition. Check. A bevy of local girls setting the stage for a potential harem. Check. Romantic encounters with those female residents. Check. Ends up with one of them in the end. Well, you’ll have to check it out yourself in Hoshizora E Kakaru Hashi (A Bridge To The Starry Skies). Basically this is what you would expect from this anime that is based on the adult visual novel of the same name. I have seen quite a number of this kind of visual novel game genres adapted into animes so I wasn’t really putting my hopes up even though I knew deep down in my heart that this is one of the type of genres that I love watching throughout the years.

The said kid is Kazuma Hoshino and due to his little brother, Ayumu‘s asthma, the duo moved back to the countryside town Kazuma once lived in, Yamabiko. I guess with all the kinds of pollution in the big city, it would only wear out Ayumu’s weak little body. What are big brothers for if they can’t even care for their little siblings? So being the new kid in town, Kazuma will eventually encounter and make friends with the other town residents (I think it’s a pretty small population so my guess is that he’ll be able to know everybody by the end of the day or two) and as expected, the encounters and meetings he’ll get into with his friends. Okay, make that female friends. What else is there to do in this small rural town?

Episode 1
As usual, there’s always this type of flashback when a boy leaves the town. The kind of memories whereby he leaves the girl behind and the promise they’ll always be friends. Don’t worry if you can’t remember this scene because I’m sure later on it will play up again to jog our memories. So the brothers arrive at the countryside via train. Ah, such refreshing greenery and clean air. Kazuma feels nostalgic visiting here because he was friends with the previous inn’s owner. As they continue their journey by bus, Ayumu realizes they are heading towards the wrong direction. Quickly getting off at the next stop, the next bus will be in one hour’s time. Hey, what do you expect in this backwater town? What to do? Wait lah. While bidding their time, a monkey steals Ayumu’s cap. Good brother Kazuma chases after the naughty simian. It’s like the simian is leading him deep into the forest and toying with him. Hoping across rivers and even climbing trees, wow, Kazuma sure can keep up with the monkey. So once he manages to get the cap back, he realizes he is lost. He is not seeing the forest fairy when a girl, Ui Nakatsugawa is standing before him. Seems she is gathering food ingredients and from the way she explains things, she’s a glutton. Why isn’t she looking fat? Probably the countryside has better chance of burning out those fats. Haha! Kazuma follows her as she leads the way back to the bus stop. As she hops over the river stepping on the stones, Kazuma flusters upon seeing her pink panties. But he is suddenly remembered of doing the same hopping thing on this river. The flashback distracted him so he misses his step and ends up falling on Ui, kissing her. I don’t even know if this move is possible. If you think nobody else is in this forest, think again, Ui’s friend, Ibuki Hinata saw what happened and accuses him of being a pervert (including a kick in the face). His explanation of the misunderstanding didn’t convince her so Ui settles it. Then they part and he returns back to Ayumu at the bus stop. Thankfully he didn’t get kidnapped. Kidnappers in this rural area? Putting the cap back brings back another memory that he did so to that girl he left behind.

Boarding the right bus, they arrive at the inn, Yorodzuyo. Kazuma doesn’t recognize it since it has been a long time he has been here and thinks it must have been rebuilt. The inn’s hostess, Senka Yorozu knows who they are and greets them. Taking them around the place, she reveals that some parts have been rebuilt. Then she shows them their room they will be living in from today. Since Kazuma is dirty after that monkey chase, he goes to take a bath but didn’t expect somebody cleaning it, Tsumugi Toudou. He panics and bumps into Senka. She makes a snickering comment about his ‘little brother’. I guess now he can’t get married, eh? That night, Ayumu can’t sleep by himself and sleeps next to his brother while Kazuma ponders the events that have happened today. Kissed a girl, being spotted in his birthday suit. Hmm… Very eventful today. Next morning, Senka introduces them to Tsumugi who is a part time waitress at this inn. She will guide them around Yamabiko. Though Tsumugi says she didn’t see anything about him yesterday, Senka cheekily points out with that size, anyone could hardly see ‘it’. That’s so insulting to his manhood, isn’t it? On the way to school, Tsumugi learns of Ayumu’s asthma condition and they came here first to settle down before their parents. In class, Ui seems to be spacing out over that kissing incident so Ibuki suspects that to be the case. The teacher introduces Kazuma as the new transfer student. Ibuki is surprised to see the pervert and he too is equally surprised to see the girl he kissed. Fate or coincidence?

Episode 2
Ibuki didn’t want that pervert to be in the same class but what do you expect this is the only class for their grade. Blame the small population of this town. Daigo Minamikokubaru, who is also the son of the homeroom teacher doesn’t act like a student in front of his mommy teacher but like her idiotic son. She scolds him like a mommy and has Kazuma sit in his place while relegating her son to a makeshift cardboard box. Naturally as the newbie, his classmates are eager to know more about him. But Ibuki isn’t so interested in that pervert and the way she says things has the class misinterpret that Kazuma pushed down the natural airhead Ui by force in the forest. Ibuki gets close to Kazuma by sharing her textbook so that he won’t get close to Ui. During recess, Kazuma witnesses the big eater Ui is. Still not full after devouring 2 big bento boxes? So after school, his friends show him around town. Tsumugi also joins them and Kazuma’s friends are surprised to see Ayumu is this cute. Could they be related? Well, save your conspiracy theories and genetic jokes for later. Adding to the group is Kasane Toudou, Ayumu’s classmate. Tsumugi observes that Kazuma is a considerate brother because he paces his strides to match Ayumu. So the gang visit various places and the first stop being a snack store. Guess who is eating all the snacks bought? Why all cheese flavour? Other places include the sake shop, bike shop and ramen shop. Kasane as the insider girl of Yamabiko knows every detail or information. So should you have any queries or topics for gossip, she is the best person you should look for. Next stop is the viewing platform as Kazuma learns the place he got lost yesterday was the Twin Mountain. Legend has it that a god and goddess lived on its top and were so deeply in love with each other that they neglected their work. The God in heaven was angered and split the mountain into two to separate them, thus the name of the mountain. Ever since, the lovers had to call out to each other “I love you” from the summit. When they do so, their power and feelings reached the village and a huge crop formed. This is how Yamabiko came to be. The next stop is Kotama Shrine and the shrine is famed for its steep numerous steps. I don’t know why Ui and Kazuma raced each other to the top. Must be tiring, eh? At the top, the shrine’s priestess, Madoka Koumoto is surprised to see Kazuma. So surprised that she runs away. Did he scare her or what? So maybe all that running was to whip up Ui’s appetite because now they patron Bagpipes, a dessert restaurant as Ui orders a jumbo parfait. Don’t worry. She can finish all that. Where the heck all the food in her stomach go? Is there some sort of warp time-space dimension inside her stomach? As Kazuma wipes the mouth of a very satisfied Ui, she thanks her ‘onii-chan’. The rest are surprised to hear this so she apologizes that she got lured in hearing Ayumu calling his brother so. Back home, Ui ponders about this and concludes although Kazuma is Ayumu’s onii-chan, Kazuma is also the onii-chan. Huh? What?

Episode 3
Senka thought she should do some service to the boys and wake them up but what she heard coming from Kazuma’s room are ambiguous words that only yaoi fans can expand with their wild fantasies. No, they’re not having homo sex but Ayumu trying to fix Kazuma’s messy hair. On the way to school, Kazuma meets up with his friends but had this feeling that somebody is watching him. On a trivial note, Ui’s favourite period: Recess. You know why. Rumours are also spreading about Kazuma pinning Ui down in the forest. When Kazuma thought he had found the culprit who had been watching him this morning, he chases after her but bumps into Madoka. Since she has mild androphobia and Kazuma didn’t realize he has his hands on her shoulder, Madoka panics and gives him a judo throw. I hope he didn’t break his back. Later Kazuma learns that she was raised by a strict grandfather so he decides to go apologize to her at the shrine. After making up, Madoka asks if he really did push Ui down and do all sorts of things to her. Madoka is relieved once he explains what happened. Perhaps he explained everything. Including the accidental kiss. Enough to bring Madoka to tears. Wow, this guy. First he somewhat scared her. Then he freaked her out and got thrown. Now he made her cry. Suddenly Kazuma get shot by acorns. Acorns? It is that stalker, the tomboyish Koyori Toudou. She is the self proclaimed ally of justice who protects the peace of Yamabiko. So Kazuma is now the bad guy? First it was Ui, now he made Madoka cry. Madoka begs Koyori to not do anything bad to Kazuma since it’s a misunderstanding. No choice, Koyori backs down only because Madoka said so. But she warns she’ll kick his ass again if he makes Madoka cry. Then she makes some lame ‘disappearing’ move by having the duo close their eyes. Duh… Kazuma walks back home with Ui since Ibuki has archery club practice (she’s been selected to participate in the next tournament) while Daigo has extra English lessons (it’s a way to say he failed). On the way home, they meet Ayumu who happily tells them he joined the sketching club. Ui hopes to be his model next time. Kazuma checks Ayumu’s forehead to find he has a slight fever. He wants to carry him back despite Ayumu feeling everything is okay. Ui remembers how her brother used to carry her like this. After putting Ayumu to bed, Kazuma and Ui are alone in his room. She flusters upon thinking if Kazuma should check her forehead like that. Kazuma can tell Senka is eavesdropping so as he makes sure she isn’t by the door, Ui starts whacking all the snacks she brought in. I’m not sure, is she not supposed to eat them?

Episode 4
As Daigo throws a bag to Kazuma, the latter accidentally bumps into Hina Sakai. She thought he was teasing her when he called her cute. Actually he was pointing to the handphone strap she has that Ayumu likes. She leaves embarrassed while Daigo teases him about the cool beauty Kazuma just talked to. Hina narrates she was born a tall girl so nobody called her cute. So when Kazuma said that, she thought it was teasing her. During recess, Kazuma learns about the local Hikonan Race. It’s a big event for the locals since there’ll be TV coverage and the winner will be interviewed. The participants represent a local shop so it’s no wonder why they are looking forward to this race. Look it as free publicity and advertising. Guess what? Kazuma has to participate too so Senka gives him special training that turns out to be chores cleaning the inn. Is she making him doing her job? So when he starts his real training outside, Kazuma sees a groceries bag beneath a tree. Koyori who is trying to save a cat stuck up a tree thought he is a thief now. She was reprimanding all the way till embarrassed Kazuma pointed out that he could see her panties. This throws her off balance and she lands on his face. I don’t know what he was trying to do to save her to end up in that position. Kazuma learns Koyori is Tsumugi’s little sister and also Kasane’s elder sister. However he finds it hard to believe they’re related since their bust size is so different. He got a deserved kick in the shin. Kazuma helps Koyori deliver the groceries she bought for an old man, Gengoro Yamakawa or more affectionately known as Gen-ji. He thought Kazuma is her boyfriend but she dismisses this villain to be one (why is she stammering and blushing?). Kazuma learns more about Gen-ji’s family. His wife died 3 years ago and his only daughter is now married. But his grandson, Keita is supposed to undergo a simple operation. However he is nervous and refuses to undergo it. He hopes Koyori can go talk to him.

On another training day, Kazuma meets Ibuki on the streets as she doesn’t mind sharing her water bottle with him (she’s not worried about indirect kiss?) while Ui does her own training: She’s eating a huge bowl of super size ramen. What has that got to do with running? Koyori and Gen-ji visit Keita at hospital. She tries to give encouragement to him and to be in high spirits. However if that’s the case, Keita wants Koyori to win the Hikonan Race. She agrees to join and win it and in return, Keita will undergo the surgery and get even better. Hina who has a penchant for cute things, is out jogging when she sees a cute but abandoned teddy bear. She adlibs with it but gets embarrassed thinking that Kazuma has heard her. However he apologizes for not knowing she was his senior then. Kazuma runs up the shrine and sees Madoka. They talk about the race and it seems the winner will get to play the coveted Ogami (male god) part for the Fall Festival of the Twin Mountain legend. Madoka explains further how the festival of the legend is played out between Ogami and Megami (female god) as this festival is also about the God of the mountain descending to the village and uniting with one of the villagers which brings blessings. Then, when the feelings of Ogami and Megami calling to each other meet in their hearts, as proof, at the night of the festival it is said that a beautiful bridge of stars will appear in the sky.

Episode 5
Seems Daigo has a secret outfit for Ayumu for cheering to help Kazuma get through the race. The school’s sports day has arrived. Ui scores perfect in the bread eating contest, the boys can’t get their eyes off Madoka’s bouncy boobs as she tries her best to jump and reach the bread, Hina wins the 100m race by a mile, Tsumugi is so clumsy and her hips are so big that she got stuck within a ladder and for the hunting race, Kazuma got the weirdest request: Big boobs. Whose? He takes Madoka but gets beaten up instead. Then it’s Ibuki’s turn to demonstrate her archery. But she got distracted just by looking at Kazuma and thankfully nails it with the second shot (imagining Kazuma’s face as the bull’s eye). During break, Kazuma and Ayumu meet Ui’s parents. Mommy made a feast considering her daughter’s big appetite. After that butt sumo wrestling among mothers (WTF?!), the much awaited Hikonan Race begins. As the participants warm up, everyone (especially Kazuma) is shocked to see Ayumu in a cheerleading outfit, cheering for his brother. I know he looks cute in the eyes of many but it’s a big embarrassing moment for the big brother! Just when Daigo thought he is going to get pummelled, Kazuma gives the thumbs up instead. Wait a minute. He’s into this sort of thing? So the race starts and there are a few checkpoints that participants need to clear such as eating 30 bowls of shiruko soup (guess who tops in that), catching 10 eels (fanservice cue?) and the final checkpoint that they need to wear a random costume. Hina gets sexy qipao outfit but she sees Ui clumsily walking in a penguin suit. Her cute penchant is alerted and she starts chasing Ui like a mad woman. Now, that really made Ui run for her life. Koyori who is leading the race is wearing a wedding dress but trips and sprains her ankle (it’s hard to run in high heels). Kazuma (in a groom’s outfit) comes by and lends her a hand after seeing how she is determined to win this race for Keita. She initially refuses help from the enemy but seeing Ui and Hina gaining ground, Kazuma carries her like a princess and starts dashing to the finish line. Imagine the people’s surprise upon seeing them like this. In the end, the photo finish reveals Koyori as the winner while Kazuma takes second place. In the interview, Koyori encourages Keita to be in high spirits and drive away his sickness since she kept her promise and won. Keita watching the live interview has his confidence boosted.

Episode 6
Wait a minute. Kazuma doesn’t know what final exams are? Even if he is too busy moving around to study, he should know what that is. Hope he’s just pulling a fast one. So to help study for the exams, the usual suspects head over to Yorodzuyo for a sleepover study session. Hina is also here because she wants to use this opportunity to apologize to Kazuma. But she got distracted by Ayumu’s cuteness. So as the study session begins, the first thing Ui took out was her snacks! Is she serious? Is food all she got in her head? Take two. Taking a break, it’s bath time and this is the part Daigo is waiting for. Of course he got disappointed seeing that it is not a mixed bath. He expected too much I guess. Then after hearing the girls engaging in tantalizing bath time dialogues, Daigo feels the need to infiltrate. I mean, he is so turned on that he could hang the wooden bucket on his… You get the idea. Watch out for splinters. So as he climbs to the top to peep, Koyori squishes shampoo powder into his eyes. Perhaps Daigo should keep his harem paradise to his imagination instead of turning it into a reality. That’s because now he is going outside the garden but Senka has predicted this pervert. Punishment time. So after the ping pong match (the ball got stuck between Madoka’s boobs?), when the gang go to see fireflies, Ui remembers how her brother introduced the girl he is going to marry to, Kuriko. Ui didn’t like it and didn’t properly greet her. She ran away and sulked at the viewing platform. Ui came by and stayed by her side, listened to her till the end. She was afraid she would lose her brother forever but when she realized she shouldn’t feel this way, she went to search for them to apologize. At the riverbank filled with fireflies, she saw her brother and Kuriko kissing. In the end, she was so shocked that she didn’t even congratulate them on their wedding day. This flashback causes Ui to lose her appetite and definitely a big shocker to her friends. Something is wrong. Then they continue their studies till it’s bedtime. Daigo of course is disappointed once more because under this roof with 7 beauties, he had to sleep next to a guy. I suppose you can commend him on his wild imagination of the girls comparing breasts and showing off their lingerie. He should know better than to sneak out because Senka is waiting for him… In the middle of the night, Kazuma gets up for a drink and bumps into Ui who can’t sleep either. Probably she’s hungry. They both talk about Ogami and Megami’s feelings when so happen Madoka wakes up and is disheartened to see them close together outside staring at the night sky.

Episode 7
With exams over, Daigo suggests they head to Honchou, the biggest town around to have their post-exam party. Ibuki can’t tag along since the tournament is around the corner and needs to practice. Hina joins them in hopes she can apologize for real this time. At the arcade, Kazuma beats Koyori in a fighting game (the sore loser wants to settle it via real wrestling), Madoka attracts the guys with her dance moves (must be her bouncy boobs), Ui fails to get a snack in the vending machine (despite she can get the snack anywhere), Daigo tries his luck in playing a strip mahjong game, Kazuma tries his luck in a crane game and wins a rare Bobopin memento. Then he plays some Q&A dating sim with Tsumugi and the questions asked feels like sexual innuendoes. Probably Kazuma is imagining too much. Just when Hina gets the chance to face Kazuma and apologize, she got distracted by the Bobopin he gives her. Then the gang goes karaoke-ing (I guess Ui is here to order the food only). Meanwhile Ibuki can’t concentrate and gets reprimanded to do better. When the exam results are out, Kazuma failed a couple of subjects, Daigo a few more and Ui, maybe just about everything. And she’s so relaxed about it. So it’s remedial classes for their summer, eh? Since Ibuki’s tournament is around the corner, Daigo plans to for them to go cheer on her. To his dismay, Hina and Tsumugi couldn’t come as they are busy with their jobs. To him, this halves, the group’s breast percentage by half. Is that what he is here for? The gang meet Ibuki before the start and give her the encouragement to do her best. Ayumu apologizes he didn’t bring his cheerleading outfit. That’s a joke, right? However Ui feels that Ibuki is forcing herself to be cheerful. The tournament ends with a disastrous result for Ibuki. They’re supposed to meet up at the lobby but Ibuki never showed up. On the way back, Ayumu thought she just wanted to be left alone so Kazuma had an idea where she’ll be. He finds her sitting alone at the viewing platform. He hears her out that although she has been training since young, there’s always this thought that she would miss her target. True enough, that fear came true and her mind just went blank and couldn’t focus. She was so frustrated with herself that she ran away here. Seeing the tears rolling down her eyes, all Kazuma could do is to shout out from the top of his lungs that he hates final exams. This way, she could feel better in letting her frustrations out. Thus Ibuki also gives it a shot and despite yelling herself an idiot, she feels much better.

Episode 8
Ibuki hopes he could keep this a secret between them and also to call her by her first name. For this episode, it’s the much anticipated obligatory beach episode. Babes, swimsuit, the sea, the sand, what’s not to like. By now you can guess why Hina is tagging along, eh? Kazuma teaches Ibuki to swim and Hina does the same for Ayumu. Ui sees what is happening and you can say it’s not an enjoyable expression. Tsumugi notices this. Then later alone with Madoka, Madoka remembers that night she and Kazuma were together and asks her opinion what she thinks of him. Does she like him? Though she flusters, Ui says she likes him in terms of a big brother. Next is the watermelon splitting event. I’m sure nobody wants to hear Daigo’s rant and just hurry up with the cutting. Ibuki did something cheeky to test whether Kazuma’s blindfold has no holes in it. He puts his hands on Ayumu’s chest and wants him to figure out which girl’s breasts are these. Seriously, a girl would’ve screamed when he put his hands over them. So when he mentions the flatness belongs to Ibuki, it’s understandable why she hit his head with a stick. Can you blame her that when it’s her turn to slice the watermelon, she’s aiming for Kazuma instead? Ui perfectly splits the watermelon for everyone to enjoy. Daigo wonders where Ayumu and Tsumugi are and fantasizes about something perverted. Actually Ayumu is asking if there is anything she wants to buy since she is working part time at Yorodzuyo. Well, she’s thinking of working there in the future and she loves the place as well as Yamabiko. Ayumu feels he has been a bother to Kazuma but she doesn’t want him to think that way since he is trying hard to make him happy. If he wants to be grateful, he should also make him happy by being happy himself. Meanwhile, Hina is admiring the cute anemone when Kazuma comes by. Now it’s her chance. Though she apologizes, he misinterpret it’s for being late to leave the beach with them and thinks it’s no big deal. Ui asks when Ibuki got so friendly with Kazuma. She doesn’t have a clear answer and asks Ui back. But she doesn’t seem convinced that Ui was just asking out of curiosity.

Episode 9
Ui is testing a new jumbo parfait when she got the spook of her life. She thought she saw a hungry ghost outside the window but it turns out to be Hina. Kazuma finds Hina collapsed at the park due to hunger. After she regains her strength back (if she keeps up this eating rate, she can be second best to Ui’s appetite), Kazuma learns she has ran away from home after having a fight with her dad and didn’t bring anything along. Even if she did her cute puppy eyes pleading, Kazuma has his hands tied since he’s a freeloader at Yorodzuyo. However he really pities her so he sneaks her in to his room. As he goes down to get dinner, Hina takes off her clothes to wipe her sweat. Then he comes in to find a big surprise and had to make up an excuse to keep Senka’s suspicions at bay. Because Hina couldn’t let him sleep on the floor, she suggests sharing the futon. Seriously? Can they fit into it? Okay, put it sideways. Legs sticking out… Kazuma hears her out. Seems Hina wants to go study at Tokyo University but her dad is against it thinking she won’t come back. It’s true she gets dizzy smelling the liquor in her shop but she’s good at selling them. Thus she wants to study business management and use this knowledge to tell people about their different liquors. She tried telling this to him but was always cut off and yelled at. Then remembering about proper timing and all, she apologizes to him for the misunderstanding when they first met. Seeing that she has finally got this off her chest, Kazuma is confident she’ll get a chance to properly explain to her dad. Next morning when Senka wakes him up, she sees Hina sleeping all wrapped around his body! It’s not what you think! And Hina did say she had good sleeping habits… Though Senka reprimands them for not consulting her first, she’ll have Hina earn her keep and has her work at the inn. Due to Tsumugi taking a few days off, I guess this means Kazuma also has to help out. In the midst of her job, Hina’s father barges in to take her back. She is reluctant but when Kazuma comes into the picture, daddy blames him as being a bad influence to her daughter. Kazuma puts his foot down by telling him what Hina had wanted to tell him all along. However daddy gets rough on Kazuma but Senka warns of any violence in the inn. If he insists, she’ll get down and dirty too. Can’t risk that, can’t he? Daddy goes back alone and his wife has a talk to him about their daughter’s feelings to help out the family business.

But this isn’t the end yet because Kazuma is being challenged to a duel. Long ago, villagers settle their difference via tug of war at the shrine. Usually this was how it was done when 2 men fought over the affections of a woman. Kazuma isn’t going to back down and will render that old geezer speechless. A considerable crowd gathers at the shrine for the showdown. If Hina’s dad wins, Kazuma has to pack and leave town. Though Kazuma is a little embarrassed wearing the traditional outfit, he is surprised that Ayumu too donned the same clothes. Did Senka put him up to this to cheer him on? The duel starts and Hina’s mom could even make a cheeky remark if she could exchange her husband’s dirty butt with a younger one! Hina’s dad draws first blood and his immense strength almost has Kazuma crossed the red line (it means you lose if you do that), Kazuma fights back and with his youth he slowly regains ground. Though Hina’s dad is motivated on the thoughts of his daughter, age is catching up with him. Kazuma uses every ounce of energy left to pull the rope and not only it resulted in his victory, he crashed onto Hina. Hina returns home and feels daddy is still sore over his lose and hasn’t forgiven her. But mom says he challenged Kazuma despite knowing he would lose. He wanted to lose intentionally in front of her and to be able to support her without realizing it. But he took it too seriously, got his stamina drained and felt upset that things didn’t go the way he planned. Hina goes hug her father sulking in his room and mentions how cute he is when he’s embarrassed before thanking him.

Episode 10
Madoka who missed the event because she was reading books to children at the library, learns about it and misinterprets Kazuma was battling Hina’s dad over his daughter. It causes her to sink into depression so Koyori pays her a visit and thought would cheer her up. Of course when she learns from Gen-ji about the meaning of the tug of war, she storms down to the inn to confront Kazuma (who is about to start his summer homework with his friends) that he is going to get married. Of course he’s not. Koyori thinks of explaining this to Madoka when Daigo comes up with a shocking revelation. Could it be that Madoka likes Kazuma?! But why is Koyori the only one flustering? Daigo and Kasane get an idea and recruit Ui and Ibuki to help play cupid and pair the duo up. But Ibuki is not so interested and storms out with Ui following close behind. Ibuki wants to know if Ui is okay if Madoka and Kazuma end up together. They both can’t answer that either. On the other hand, Kasane and Koyori see Madoka and give her a book to read on how to date. They are going to set him up with Kazuma. Madoka is obviously nervous when she meets Kazuma (unaware this is a setup) at the amusement park. Kasane, Daigo and Koyori spy on them hoping that something interesting will happen. The date didn’t go too well for Madoka because she got frightened by the roller coaster ride, got spooked by the haunted house (despite being a priestess she has fear of ghosts) and though the petting farm may be less scary, she got disheartened when Kazuma mentions how the rabbits were eating non-stop just like Ui. Then after the Ferris wheel ride, the stalkers think the duo have kissed judging from Madoka’s body reaction. Actually she’s still nervous about the whole thing. On another outing without the stalkers, Madoka dressed in a rather near-revealing outfit (reminds me of Tomb Raider’s Lara Croft) takes Kazuma hiking to the mountains. When Madoka crosses the stream, the wind blows off her hat. Kazuma grabs it and puts it back on her head and remembers this familiar scene. Now he remembers she is the girl whom he met back then. Madoka explains she was never good in interacting with boys and always came here to play alone. That’s when she met Kazuma and felt fun playing with him every day. Now that she thinks about it, it was probably love at first sight. When she first saw him at the shrine, she was surprised and everything happened too quickly for her to explain. She thought if she didn’t say a thing, there’s a chance he would remember who she is. Even if it’s just a little, all she wanted was a place in his heart. She wore the same clothes back then today in hopes he could remember. Well, back then her hair was short, right? So I guess he can’t really remember it was her. Madoka understands his feelings and wonders if he remembers the final words he said before he left. She wants him to say them to her again even though this isn’t a farewell. She starts crying so he says they’ll always be friends from now on. Good enough but isn’t that another way of saying that she’s being rejected?

Episode 11
Daigo teases Kazuma that he rejected Madoka. Speaking of the devil, there she is and she’s not bitter about it. Elsewhere Ibuki talks to Ui about the festival that the parts played by Ogami and Megami were usually served as proposals. Though Tsumugi is taking the part of Megami, she wonders if Ui should switch place with her since Ogami is played by Kazuma. Ui has her doubts about the confession this seeing she views Kazuma as her brother. Ibuki hints that at this rate Kazuma will be taken away by Hina, Koyori or even herself. Hint, hint. Big hint there. Ui thought she was joking. We know she isn’t. That night Ui gets a call from Ayumu. Next morning, Kazuma is quickly ushered out to take a long stroll. He meets Ibuki at the bridge so she decides to go hang out at Honchou since she didn’t come the last time. So the usual. Karaoke, video games, shopping and eating. But they didn’t expect a shop to treat them like a couple since they are having a promotion for couple’s day and it’s making them embarrassed. Seems Ayumu has called Ui over so she could sketch her. Why is she starting to strip?! Didn’t she say she wanted to be his model? After Ayumu finishes his sketch, he reveals that he plans to give it to his brother as a present seeing that they’re both going out. Woah! Wait a minute. Where did he hear that from? After that advice from Tsumugi, he thought that he would draw for Kazuma and the reason he heard from Kasane that Kazuma rejected Madoka was that he liked Ui. She dismisses all that and still feels he is just like her brother but Tsumugi says Kazuma is not Ui’s brother but Ayumu’s. Ui is worried if she dates Kazuma, it’s like taking him away from Ayumu. Would he be okay with that? He may feel lonely but since it makes him happy, he too will be happy for him. Meanwhile Ibuki jokes to Kazuma about the free can drink they got because they look like a real couple. If that’s the case they should start going out for real. She’s not joking isn’t she? Then when Kazuma leaves, he thinks hard on Ibuki’s words. Then it hit him. He runs back to see Ibuki still sitting at the same spot. He quickly apologizes that if he had caused any misunderstanding if she suggested that they go out for real. If she was serious, then he apologizes he can’t. Heartbreaking, isn’t it? Even if she dismisses that as a joke, why is she starting to cry? Oh look how convenient, it’s starting to rain too. Oh, she’s under the hut. Ibuki comes back home all drenched and when her mom asked, she answers “Furarechatte”. It can both mean “get caught in the rain” or “got rejected”. Ui still wonders why she couldn’t congratulate her real brother back then. She gets her resolve to call and congratulate him. But her brother is surprised how she knew Kuriko is pregnant. He meant to break the news to her but seems she beat him. Ibuki goes to yell out her frustrations at the viewing platform. Feeling much better, she is ready to move on. Then meeting Ui, since she is still somewhat excited, Ibuki thought she got pregnant. It’s her brother. Oops I mean his wife lah.

Episode 12
Kazuma is shocked to hear that he will be playing the Ogami role in this year’s festival. He thought the winner of the Hikonan Race had the honour but even if Koyori qualified, she is still a girl (despite her tomboy character). So the highest ranked guy in the race is Kazuma and he is the all-important male representative for Yamabiko. Kazuma further learns from Daigo that Hikonan Race was a competition created to see who would play the Ogami part. There have been couples who have got together after confessing during the festival and when a couple is born out of it, legend has it an abundant harvest will be imminent. Ibuki has club practice while Daigo’s mom drags him away for being too relaxed since the festival around the corner. This means Kazuma and Ui will have to walk home alone together. Hina senses an awkward silence between them. Kazuma and the rest dress up in their traditional costumes and practice for it. Kasane is around to snap pictures so she could sell them to her classmates who are willing to pay a high price for it. Sneaky little girl… Later Tsumugi talks to Ui and wonders if she and Kazuma are fighting. Ui explains the feelings of her heart and Tsumugi concludes that she is in love. This causes confused Ui to fluster a lot. Still deny that it’s love? On the other hand, Kazuma gets his lecture from Hina. She is straight to ask him why he didn’t tell Ui how cute she is. Relating her case of how she wanted to say things but never got around it till Kazuma told her, she realizes that if there is something she wants to say, she has to say it herself. Ui couldn’t help thinking about the word of love and yes, that first accidental kiss. So much so she didn’t have much sleep. After school, Senka goes over the programme for the festival to the players. This include Ogami receiving a scroll from the angel (played by Madoka), riding the float down to the bridge to meet Megami and reading out loud to her what’s written in the scroll. So even if he’s reading the scroll, he has to put his entire heart into doing it. Then what he says will become the truth for Megami. Later as Madoka practices her moves, she gets a call about feigning illness.

On the day of the festival as the girls are about to change, suddenly Tsumugi got stomach ache. Cancelling it would not be wise so they need a replacement. Who? Ui! Can she do it? Well, since she was with Tsumugi throughout the practice, she’s confident she can pull it off. And to replace Ui? Kasane! Can she do it? Well, since she was with them snapping away throughout their practice so she must have memorized some of the moves. Hina isn’t giving Kasane much choice. “Do it or do it!”. Well, what choice does she have? The festival gets underway and Kazuma is shocked to see Ui at the other end instead of Tsumugi. The crowd is bewildered over his silence. So once Ayumu cheers him and he recomposes himself, he opens up to read the scroll but it turns out to be a love confession. Taking a deep breath, he shouts out loud that he loves Ui. She is shocked and nervous by his words so Ibuki nudges her to reply. At first Ui was too soft but as Ibuki encourages her to speak louder, finally she lets out a loud answer that she loves Kazuma too and sends the watching crowd cheering happily for them. Just what this boring town needs. A real life love drama. In the aftermath of the festival, everyone celebrates at Yorodzuyo. Daigo has to serve his drunk mother while Ayumu is a hit with the ladies! Are they trying to seduce and corrupt him? (“I actually look pretty good when I’m nude”). Kasane knew she has been tricked when Tsumugi couldn’t remember the stomach ache she had. Madoka notes to Ibuki that they got rejected. Then at the riverbed, Kazuma and Ui kiss underneath the bridge of starry skies. It may be their second kiss (and of this entire series) but their first real one.

Episode 13 (OVA)
This is Daigo’s episode. How often do you have the supporting male loser taking centre stage? Yeah, he hogs the limelight. For all the wrong reasons. While Kazuma and Ui are having fun in their date, lonely Daigo plays his online RPG game and seems the virtual friend he made is a girl named Yuuka. After class, Daigo hints to his friends to hang out together but Kazuma and Ui are part of the upcoming cultural festival committee and have stuff to do together. Since Daigo didn’t ‘understand’, Ibuki has to point out to him that he is disrupting a couple’s date. So Daigo walks home alone and he’s so frustrated that he is still single that he shouts out loud he wants to get a girlfriend. Right in the middle of the road. Oh, in this sleepy town, I guess only the birds heard him. He meets Ayumu halfway and learns his sketches and drawings will be put on display during the festival. However Daigo starts fantasizing on his own when Ayumu mentions about Ui’s near-stripping incident when she was a sketch model. Nude drawing? Only happened in his mind. Yeah, this made him want to draw to. I guess the subject has got to be a girl, huh? Then he gets an idea. He doesn’t necessarily need to draw but can take photos. Convincing Kasane to lend her camera, he manages to convince Tsumugi to be his model with the lame excuse that he has awakened to art. After school, Daigo snaps like crazy as Tsumugi naturally poses. He hopes that this will progress to the point whereby Tsumugi will strip in the name of art! Oh yeah… Then Hina’s mother and the other moms come by and learn what Daigo is doing. They volunteer to be his subject (and even strip down for him!) but Daigo made the wrong move by saying he might be into older girls but not middle age women. Suddenly the sky turns dark and the eyes of the mothers… They’ve become Terminator!!! Tsumugi could sense something bad is going to happen and excuses herself. Here comes the pain courtesy from the middle age mothers. Daigo plays his online RPG once more with Yuuka and after logging out, he notices someone posted a comment on his question on how to get along with girls. Complimenting the things she is self conscious of seems to be the answer and thinking back, he remembers Kazuma complimenting Koyori’s outfit as she is supposed to be holding a concert for the festival. He tries his luck with Madoka but her friends tell him she’s changing into a maid outfit in the locker room and since her bust is too big, she’s in the midst of fixing it. A cue for Daigo’s fantasies to get ahead of him. He thinks his compliment will allow Madoka to let him examine her boobs! Madoka gets a call from her grandpa so she has to explain the maid outfit she wears isn’t indecent. As she goes outside to get better reception, Daigo’s mom comes by and sees the maid outfit lying around. She puts in on for size to make sure it follows school regulations. Daigo is eavesdropping outside and happily thinks it’s Madoka. Then he sees her outside and wonders who could this person be. Opening the door, he saw mommy dressing up. A scene he never wanted to see in his life. He’ll have a hard time erasing it from his memories.

Walking home, he sees Hina obsessively fawning like a maniac outside the window of a pet shop. Hmm… Maybe he can hit on her too. In the spur o the moment, he dresses up in a cat costume. Isn’t the box a little too small? He thought this won’t work since it’s an obvious epic failure but what do you know? Hina actually buys it and brings him back to her room! Hina goes out to get some food so he takes off his head gear. He didn’t expect her to come back so soon and puts it back on. But it’s backwards! Hina got spooked out and in his attempt to calm her down, crashes into her. Her father goes up to check the ruckus only to see Daigo on top of his daughter. Now he’s dead meat! In class, Daigo laments his fate when Ibuki nervously asks him (like a tsundere) if he wants to go with her. Perhaps he doesn’t want to let this chance slip as he never thought the girl he considered his friend would ever have feelings for him. Of course things didn’t turn out the way he wanted because at the archery club, he becomes a target practice for Ibuki! She’s going to pull off a William Tell! What if she misses? Don’t worry. She only misses one in every ten shots. That’s not convincing! I don’t know how it happened next but it must be a harrowing experience for him. On the way home, he meets Ayumu again. Kazuma’s brother invites Daigo to his room. While he waits, suddenly Ayumu comes in wearing a female school swimsuit! Oh sh*t! WTF?! What gives? Ayumu noticed Daigo down lately and seeking Kasane’s advice, he thought wearing this was the best option to cheer him up. Oh God! Yaoi scene. Even Daigo can’t resist the temptation to do in cute Ayumu despite him being straight. Holy sh*t!!! Daigo pushes him down to the floor!!! SO YAOI!!!Then Kazuma sees what is happening. Daigo is one dead man… The festival begins as Koyori sings her heart out on stage, the customers are taken aback by Ayumu’s cuteness serving them in a swimsuit, Senka finds Madoka cute in her maid outfit, Ui is more cute than scary as a cat monster in the haunted house and Ayumu’s sketch on Ui is part of the exhibit. At the end of the festival, Daigo sits alone by himself while Kazuma and Ui dance at the bonfire. A bespectacled girl, Yuuka Dai comes up to him. She is the online girl he plays with as she thanks him for always helping her out in the game and wonders if he would care to dance with her. But of course. Finally he gets the girl! Hooray. So what is the lesson that we learn? Perseverance and persistence pays? Heck no! If you want to screw around with the harem girls meant only for the main guy, don’t. Because you’re better off dating a lesser known side character not included in the list! Haha! See, even losers like him get the girl in the end. After getting beaten up so many times, like they say: No pain, no gain.

A Starry Bridge Too Far…
Oh well. There wasn’t anything much to expect from this kind of anime. Boy-meets-girl(s) in backwater town, the friends spend some time with each other and no sudden shocking twist in the end that has him leaving the town for whatsoever reasons. Oh yeah. That would be terrible. Otherwise this anime is just average stuff and nothing much to shout about. The ending may seem rush and could have been better but what more do you expect after the guy finally chooses the girl? At least this is one thing good about this anime. Our main guy finally ends up with the girl. She becomes his girlfriend and they become a couple in the end. So we don’t have the dissatisfaction of that guy choosing nobody in the end which of course disappoints everyone. Though fans of other pairings may not like it but it’s better to have some disappointed rather than all. You can’t please everyone. Though many (including yours truly) would have spotted from a mile that Kazuma will eventually end up with Ui. She is the first girl he meets in Yamabiko. She is the first girl whom he accidentally saw her pantsu. She is the first girl he kissed (albeit by accident. It still boggles me how they can really end up in that position after slipping off a rock). Heck, she has that feeling of the-main-heroine-that-the-hero-will-end-up-with aura around her. Like it was written in the stars. Okay, so maybe that was just me. After all, I also felt that this was leading to an Ui-route.

So of all the other girls, why would Kazuma choose one who is an airhead? Even more, a glutton. I don’t know. Maybe it’s his taste so I have no right to criticise it. Perhaps girls who exude that clumsy and dojikko trait have that extra edge in the moe factor. At least this shows that not only popular, pretty and perfect girls would end up with the hottest guys in town. Okay, Kazuma may not be the most eligible bachelor but as the newbie in town, he is something fresh to the locals. Yeah, he is a hit with some of the moms and middle age- whoops, I mean young mothers. If Ui is really going to be Kazuma’s wife, I’m sure a big budget of their household expense will go into food. That girl has nothing but food on her mind. But I guess being a simpleton makes things easier and less complicated. Call it a trade-off for brains if you will. Now, if she eats brain food, would that improve her airhead-ness? I don’t think so. If Ui is the lively airhead, I also consider Hina as another airhead but she is quieter. The only reason why she is called a cool beauty in the eyes of others is because she doesn’t open her mouth. But when she does, you can tell this tall girl is somewhat a slow person like Ui. For instance, she actually spells out the definition for certain subjects even if the situation doesn’t require her to. Like when Kazuma’s in a pinch giving Senka an excuse that there is a wasp in his room (to hide Hina), she went on ranting about wasps. Heck, information that I don’t even know. Or want to know. So wasps are diurnal? Just like Ui’s obsession with food, her obsession is with cute things. So kittens and puppies beware. Don’t let her crazy cute fetish awaken. Initially as part of the official harem, Hina’s part and body action never seem to indicate that she likes Kazuma more than friends. It feels she was worried about getting the proper chance to talk to her dad about going to university, that’s all. I thought that her role of trying to apologize to Kazuma would be a recurring gag but that ended in her little arc when she ran away from home and slept at Kazuma’s place. Perhaps she is the kind of person that doesn’t succeed at first go and needs many tries before she gets it right.

The other harem girls too had their fair share of screen time so I suppose in this sense that they are given equal treatment of being ‘rejected’. Haha. As expected, Ibuki the tomboyish girl who didn’t like Kazuma when she first met him eventually turned into a tsundere and got flat out (pun on her boobs intentional) rejected. I don’t know how she came to like that guy whom she accused of pushing Ui down in the forest and doing funny things on her. Maybe it’s when he came to console her after her disastrous outing at the archery tournament. He didn’t seem like he has done much but at least by being her company, it makes her feel better. Aside Ibuki, Madoka was the other potential rival for Ui to end up as Kazuma’s girl. I guess all those flashbacks of them spending their younger days were just a distraction and just a build-up so that Kazuma could remember his forgotten memories once more. And then reject her. So would you believe me Kazuma’s taste in girls is weird? I mean, he chose an airhead over a busty miko priestess. Any (perverted) guy would have chosen Madoka over Ui any time. No, I’m not one of them ;p. And I won’t choose Ui either ;p. But one thing about Madoka bugs me. I know she has a case of mild androphobia but after that judo throw, it seems that the phobia has gone ‘missing’. After that you notice her mixing well with the other men in town like as though they’re nothing. So does she really have fear of men? Or was it Kazuma acted too impulsively? Koyori is the other tomboy and brute. Just like Ibuki, she too didn’t like Kazuma very much but after that tiny falling-from-tree incident in which Kazuma broke her fall, she started to like him. However you won’t see Koyori in trying to pursue the feelings of her heart because she is more preoccupied in helping Keita overcome his fear of the surgery. And after she won the Hikonan Race, she became a minor side character. I guess that makes it less one girl he would end up with.

Tsumugi may not have many chances like the rest and even the closest scene that she got to being Kazuma’s potential girl was the one playing the Q&A video game. Despite that, it was just Kazuma’s horny misinterpretation gone wild. She is more like the big sister of the pack and imparts advises when needed to especially to Ui and Ayumu. Judging from the poster, I knew Kasane wasn’t going to be part of the harem but it didn’t stop me from hoping. Sheesh. Anyway she’s not. All she’s interested in is getting the latest scoop and gossip in town. She’s got a reputation to uphold and what happens if she finds herself in love? How would news spread about if the insider girl isn’t around? What about Senka? She’s just like a caretaker for the brothers in this town. One thing that amuses me about Ayumu is his gullible character. I know that he would love to help out and the best he could do is to cheer on them. But to believe and take other’s advice and seriously cross-dress? Does he know no shame or embarrassment? Sure, he is a naturally cute boy that every guy and girl would love to have fawning and swooning over, but to do it over and over again in different female outfits feels like he wasn’t brought up as a proper boy. I’m not saying that he should be a macho and naughty kid. If you ask me, if he starts cross-dressing and act the way he does, nobody will see him as a boy. Yeah, he’s good in either way too. Then we can call him Ayuko… What else is there left to describe Daigo? Just like other animes of this genre, every main male protagonist needs to have a perverted buddy who is also a loser for comic relief and also to show why the main guy gets the girl instead of him. Just as not to make it really bad for him, that’s why in the OVA there is a girl that takes an interest in him. Hey, with so many fish in the sea, there has got to be at least one that suits you, right? Whether or not they hit it off or break off (I would personally blame it on her perverted behaviour), that’s another story. So next festival for the Twin Mountain legend, may it be Daigo and Yuuka’s turn to get some blessing.

Of course with this kind of series, it’s hard not to talk about the fanservice. I’m not saying that this show is overwhelmed with them but if you keep your eyes and ears peeled, you can spot some of the deeper erotic meaning. What do I mean? Sure, there are a handful of panty shots scattered here and there and of course some of the scenes with strategic censors that will only be removed if you diligently buy the DVDs. Then there are those subtle erotic sexual innuendoes with the characters in such poses. Including Ayumu. This kid is so girly sometimes you feel that if you are a straight person, your horny sense will go haywire and in a dilemma whether to get stimulated and turned on or not. That’s for the visual part. Now for the aural part, mostly you can hear cheeky comments and naughty remarks from Senka. Especially about Kazuma’s dick. And then you have some homonym words in Japanese in the sense that if you’re a perverted person, you’d probably see the double meaning in those words. Like ‘shasei’. What does it mean(s)? Go Google it to find out :). The sexual innuendoes also reach as far as the next episode preview. At least some of them. And they had to involve innocent Ayumu in it. For example, which hole in your body would be the most painful if you shove an acorn in it? Now, if you’re a dirty minded person, you would have quoted a certain hole but there are other holes in your body too, right? Like your nose hole. Then you have Kazuma’s ‘King Cobra’, something that taste like ‘cheese’ and even pink Nyanbobo. Pink what? Probably tits…

If there is one other thing that I like, it is the art and drawing of the sceneries. The setting being in the remote mountains, it is quite nice to see the luscious greens and other natural environment. I like the special effects on the water and flowing river. It feels quite real and nice that it calms my heart. Not to say that my heart was beating and racing like mad watching this show but by looking at the clean surroundings, it sure puts your heart at ease even though they are just animation. But I can’t say the same for the characters. I won’t go as far as to say that they are horrible, but the kind of drawing somewhat reminds me of another adult visual novel adapted into anime: H2O ~Footprints In The Sand~. It has its own style but I prefer my animes if they’re going to have lots of cute and beautiful people in it, to be those bishonen and bishoujo type. It’s not that both games were created from the same developer or the animes were produced by the same company either. Heck, the opening theme, Hoshizora No Horoscope by Nomico, had that similar feel and beat to H2O’s opening outfit, Katayoku no Icarus. As for the main ending theme, Dash No Cinderella by Eriko Nakamura and Ai Shimizu (voices of Ui and Madoka respectively), I feel it’s somewhat weird. Frenzy beat, some lines that are a little too fast, the girls trying to sound cute and making giggles with cutie exclamations of “Saikou!” (“The best!”) at the end? I don’t know, it’s a sign that it’s one of those songs that I won’t like since my hair was standing on ends.

Probably in an overall sense, I would rate this anime, 3 stars. Out of billions in the sky! Haha! Just kidding. If you like cute harem romance animes with uncomplicated storyline and some ecchi elements in it, you can consider giving this anime a try. Just beware of the typical cliches you’d find so prevalent in many of the animes these days. You don’t have to live in the big city to have a decent romance harem. Thank your lucky stars as long as the small village has a decent amount of cute girls, a harem, oops I mean, romance is possible. Just beware that news spread around way faster since everybody is somewhat connected. And if the parents catch you deflowering their daughters, you don’t have to wait for the festival to be sent to the stars.

Rocket Girls

January 29, 2012

Despite its name, Rocket Girls isn’t some sleazy anime title nor is it an idol-type anime aimed at young girls who aspire to be stars. Well though, it might have to do with stars but in a different context. Instead, this series if I could say is quite ‘intelligent’ with a pinch of comedy in its own way. We have high school girls living out their dreams by venturing into space. High school girls? Space? Mmm… Often those two words don’t come together in a single sentence but yes, this is what Rocket Girls is about. Sort of. So you think these girls have to be genius nerds to be astronauts because instead of doing what many girls their age are doing (shopping, gossiping, chatting about boyfriends and idols, etc) they’re into something astronomical, then you’re partly wrong because these girls too are ordinary girls. Just that they chose to do something against all odds and something extraordinary.

Initially before I started watching, I thought this was going to be something like Stratos 4, another anime whose theme is a bunch of girls riding up close to space and shoot down meteors. Rocket Girls isn’t close to this bit except maybe the skin tight space suit that shows their curves. Why make something that sexy? At first I thought it was for wind resistance but then it occurred to me, there is no wind in space! Fanservice? Probably. But this series is kept to the very minimal and not something you should look for. Oh, there are those darn aerospace terms too… There’ll be lots of them here so if you’re like me who have no slightest interest in science, physics, chemistry, biology and any other subjects that are associated with it, you’re going to go “Say that again, please?” most of the time. I know I did.

Episode 1
The summer vacation is here for Neris Girls’ Academy. So it’s no surprise Yukari Morita and her friends are noisily looking forward to it. But the strict principal has them remember the school’s regulations of being orderly and proper greeting. No fun. On Solomon Islands, the SSA (Solomon Space Association – staffs made up entirely of Japanese space agency workers) prepare for another trial run for LS-7 booster. This is going to be the 6th time and the previous 5 ended in failures. They have to make sure this one is successful because the public is getting fed up and viewing it as waste of funds. Isao Nasuda tells a colleague of the importance of this trial for future manned flights because of the need to perform maintenance for satellites in space in the long run. USA and Russia have refused to do it so they’ll be the ones who will undertake this mission and their ‘ignition’ to control space and the world. Inside the base, Satsuki Asahikawa, Haruyuki Yasukawa and Hiroyuki Mukai are making bets if the launch will be a failure. Satsuki bets a thousand times it will fail. Yasukawa doesn’t mind if it fails because he gets to go back to his Chitose Air Defence Force base. He remembers Satsuki’s harsh training of making him sit through a 20G simulation. He saw her happy face during his torment. The local Solomon Islands tribes people are celebrating that the Japanese are going to show them their ‘fireworks’. The odd part wasn’t how they love seeing the ‘fireworks’, but rather THEY’RE SPEAKING IN JAPANESE!!! LS-7 is launch but shortly it explodes into pieces. To the tribes people, the awesome ‘fireworks’ is a success as they rejoice. Obviously to SSA, another failure means another round of wasted time, effort and money. All down the drain. Back to the drawing board. Yukari returns home and is packing her stuff since tomorrow she will be leaving for the Solomon Islands.

Upon reaching Axia Island (note, this island is fictional), a Chinese guy, Chou ‘invites’ her into his Tenshin restaurant simply because Japanese people loves his food. She learns there is an airbase and wants to go over there. Nasuda is doing some recalculations. Man, look at his huge rocket ignition booster cigarette lighter!!! Calling a meeting with his staff, he mentions how their sponsor (some ministry) has decided to close their operations by the end of the fiscal year. But it’s too early to quit since there is 6 months left. He plans to use LS-5 to solve the weight problem instead of the thruster’s power. He has Satsuki analyze Yasukawa’s weight and how much she can strip him (he’s supposed to be the astronaut on the rocket if the trial is a success). Satsuki analyzes he will weigh around 55kg but Nasuda tells her to make it down to 40kg! Because of that, Yasukawa runs away from the base! It’s no joke! He rams through all the security in his humvee! Along the way, he sees Yukari and slams on the brakes. Yukari invites herself in for a ride to the base. However no time to argue because SSA’s helicopter is coming! They’re serious! How serious? They are preparing to fire missiles at him if he doesn’t stop! As Yasukawa puts the pedal to the metal, he tells Yukari to wave so they will not shoot. But they fire a warning shot! DAMN!!! Both sides aren’t giving in as Yasukawa is forced off the trek into the jungles. But Nasuda has an idea where he is heading. Yasukawa seeks a room to stay at Chou’s place till tomorrow morning. Chou gets the wrong idea after he sees Yukari with him and gladly lends him a room. Yukari wants an explanation so he says his job condition got worse, he resigned but it was rejected. Do you get it? As for he why she is here, she shows a picture of her father and is looking for him. He went missing 17 years ago while on a honeymoon, though he may look older now. Yasukawa doesn’t recognize this face. Yukari says she asked the police in Honiara but they replied there are many Japanese working there. Yasukawa agrees that there are around 600 Japanese people working there but that base was only built 18 years ago. Suddenly Chou brings guests to Yasukawa. It’s Nasuda and co. Did he betray him? Well, he values their patronage more than anything. Yeah, everybody can be happy this way. Really? Satsuki injects something into Yasukawa to knock him out as they take him away. Nasuda is interested in Yukari and has Satsuki analyze her proportions. 38kg, 153cm, 80-54-82. Wow! Just one look can tell. Nasuda gets even more excited and offers to help Yukari find her father in exchange for a little part time job. No, he’s not going to pimp her. What job then? Sit in front of a machine, answer when you get message, press a few buttons. A job so simple even monkeys can do it. Yeah, why not use a monkey then?

Episode 2
Yukari is taken back to SSA Base and underwent a full body examination. Yeah, every machine that ‘teases’ her body, she just gets so surprised. Ultimately Satsuki reports her as qualified so Nasuda is extremely happy that Yukari has passed to become their astronaut. Astronaut? Hey, this is what the part time job is? She won’t do it because for a high school girl, being an astronaut is way out of her league. How does Nasuda persuade her to stay on? He prays for her father… Oh, that sly dog. Next day Nasuda holds a meeting with his staffs and his calculations with a lighter Yukari that will propel them to success. So he wants them to train Yukari to the verge of death! Hey, who says it was an easy job. Okay, maybe the job was easy but they didn’t mention the super tough pre-requisites that come along. Yukari is made to undergo a 5G simulation by Satsuki, solve complicated equations by Kazuya Kinoshita (you thought algebra was bad, eh?), made to be a model for her spacesuit by chemist Motoko Mihara and basic survival training by Kurosu (see how far Yukari blown away after firing a shot!). When her skin tight suit is ready, she puts it on but feels exposed and the need to at least wear a bra. Motoko’s answer? Wear the bra outside. Yasukawa pays Nasuda a visit and it seems he’s a happy taxi driver. But when Satsuki comes in to report about Yukari’s solo hike, he gets upset that they’re putting a high school girl through hell and vows to bring her back. Yeah, Yukari is being dropped in the middle of the jungle and has to hike back to base within 3 days and with only 1 day worth of food. F*ck this part time job! Nasuda is going to do his part to look for Yukari’s dad and he recognizes the face in the picture. Flashback when he was shouting to the sky about his ignition dream, a local tribesman (which looks a lot like Yukari’s dad but very tanned), warned him that is the path to the spirits and he’ll have bad luck if he obstructs it. Nasuda gets a report that the wind have blown Yukari’s position over to the village of the Tariho tribe. Something isn’t good so he rushes his way there via humvee. Oh, Yasukawa’s taxi is stuck in the dirt.

Yukari is surrounded by the curious tribes people when she meets a local girl, Matsuri. Yes, she speaks fluent Japanese and even has a Japanese name. There’s a reason to it. When Yukari mentions her name, Matsuri realizes it’s the same as her father who is also the chieftain of the village: Hiroshi Morita. Bringing Yukari to see him, he looks like a hippy happy childish chief elder. Hiroshi acknowledges Yukari’s question that he came here 17 years ago. Yukari wants him to name her mother, his wife. He starts naming all his Tariho wives! Man, even going as far as to say all his 10 children with them! (Matsuri is one of the children of his many wives). Haha! This guy is really a joker. But he can still remember his Japanese wife’s name: Hiroko. Most guys in his position would’ve forgotten about it. Yukari gets upset and starts lashing at him that he abandoned his wife during their honeymoon. Her life was tough being raised by an average mom. She also mentions about the embarrassment when people asked her about her father. You know what is his reaction? He started crying at her touching story of a girl trying to find her father! Really a joker this guy! But play time is over. Yukari pulls out her gun and threatens him to come back to Japan with her. Oh, now he’s starting to panic. What about her responsibility to go to space? Screw it. Now that she has found him, she couldn’t care less about that life threatening job. However Hiroshi makes a deal saying that he’ll go back to Japan when she finishes her space mission. This way they’ll both fulfil their responsibilities and he’ll get to settle things in the village before he leaves. She agrees. Matsuri starts calling her onee-san (much to her dismay) and since Yukari is lost, Matsuri guides her back to the base. Desperate Nasuda than comes by. His worries were all for nothing when Hiroshi mentions about his daughter being here and that she’ll continue the space mission. Yeah, he’s asking for tobacco and medicine too. Yukari reaches back to base in record time: Half a day! Wow! She even beats Nasuda in a humvee who arrives shortly after. Mind boggling indeed. Nasuda takes a keen interest upon seeing Matsuri and Satsuki gives her the analysis of her physiques which is pretty much similar to Yukari’s. He offers her to become an astronaut and she happily accepts it. She loves the ‘fireworks’, eh? So Yukari, say hello to you back up crew. Oh, Yasukawa is still stuck trying to push his taxi out.

Episode 3
SSA is running LS-5 combustion test but it overheats and explodes. So much so you thought an oil processing refinery had been bombed by terrorists! Nasuda wants everyone to keep this a secret from Yukari and Matsuri. During meal time, Yukari isn’t thrilled with her healthy scarce meal that consists of everything low in calories. Possibly none. But why is Matsuri having fun making a mess with her food with ketchup and mayonnaise? Matsuri is being playful, Yukari is being noisy. Shhh!!! Yukari gets a call from her mom who is thrilled about her astronaut job. She won’t forgive her if she gives up halfway. As for daddy, she gave up on him a long time ago and it was her who went off searching for him herself. Yeah, she has irresponsible parents. In Kinoshita’s class, Yukari tops all his questions while Matsuri is the blur kid. But during a simulation, Yukari didn’t have the strength like Matsuri. They deduce while Yukari has total ability, Matsuri prevails in physical ability. On another simulation (Matsuri seems to be having fun), Satsuki notes how Yukari is slacking and at this rate, they can’t tell who is the real and backup pilot. Yukari says she isn’t aiming for space and came looking for her dad. Kinoshita knows her ‘convenient logic’ off not wanting to lose to Matsuri but want to be the main pilot. They report this to Nasuda about her clash of sense of responsibility and frustration of not wanting to lose to her half sister. Well, he’ll be counting on them to take care of the girls. Yukari gets this resolve that she doesn’t have to go to space and will have Matsuri go in her stead. Thus she treats everyone at Tenshin. Everybody eat your heart out! Hey, Matsuri going heavy on the ketchup and mayonnaise again. But in the toilet, Yukari makes a deal with Chou’s daughter, Han Rei. Every night, she wants her to deliver tasty dim sum worth around $30. But why $39? Delivery charges. But it doesn’t matter since she’s tasting a piece of Heaven and part of her plan to fatten up herself. The midnight snack rendezvous goes on till one day Satsuki notices Yukari’s slacking and increase in weight of 0.6kg. Yukari doesn’t seem too concern. But what is mind boggling is that Matsuri also gained weight. 0.7kg! WHAT THE?! See how shock Yukari is? Must be the mayonnaise! Yeah, she has the cheek to tell her to stop eating it!  Can’t be as Satsuki has taken this into consideration but it did not have any effect. One night after another midnight rendezvous, Yukari sees Matsuri singing to catch fish?! I don’t know if her sing is that effective but she caught 2! Oh, Yukari confronts her and tells her that in-between snacks are forbidden! She’s the one to say. But Matsuri knows that she has been sneaking out for snacks too because she could smell Tenshin’s all over her. She knows she doesn’t want to go to space and tried to be fat. If she doesn’t want to, all she needs is to say so and Matsuri will go in her place because daddy says it’s bad to lie. Yukari doesn’t appreciate her advice and tries to grab her fish away. They hear Kinoshita a few steps away asking them to be quiet. Yukari thought she is going to get scolded but he tells them to look at the Moon. Narrating back how he once watched enthusiastically the first man landed on the Moon in 1969. Ever since then, it has been his dream to go to space. Though he ended up as a salaryman, he still holds his dream close to his heart. With SSA, he thought he could continue his dream but failed an aptitude test. It was heartbreaking but the look on Satsuki’s face then was even more heartbreaking. Everyone in this base has a dream of going to space. When it seems she’s going to be crushed by the responsibility, just catch a ride on everyone’s dream. Kinoshita’s words have given enough motivation for Yukari to change her mind because she’ll start losing weight tomorrow. LS-5 combustion test continues to fail and explode. Did Motoko add some additional substance into it? I know, I know. Keep this a secret from the pair, right?

Episode 4
The engineers dread fixing the centrifuge and blame it on Satsuki. Yukari thinks it broke because she overused it. Satsuki seems to have that knack of reading people’s mind if they talk bad about her… While it’s being fixed, Yukari and Matsuri can do what they want as they head to the beach for some fun. They also meet Yasukawa there and he makes a few uncalled remarks on Kurosu. Be careful what you say, because that tough guy is really there. Now Yasukawa is going to get it. Oh, did I mention Kurose has a gun? Run faster! Yukari decide to visit the VAB (Vehicle Assembly Building) to see the orbiter she’s going up in. I don’t know why Yukari is being so violent as she tries to break down the locked door! Slamming and kicking it! Kurosu has to give up his chase to bring Yukari away. Man, she’s even kicking up a fuss. Violent girl. She thinks they have something to hide from her but the truth is, they can’t let a single speck of dust get into its construction. Nasuda finds out about her proactive behaviour but gives her the freedom to tag along till she is convinced. This includes their staff meeting. Yukari is being shown the orbiter by Mukai as he explains its makings, operations and the pros of conservative proven technological that withstands the test of time compared to new technology (my brain just turned off here. F*CK SCIENCE!!!). Mukai mentions about the recent failed combustion test due to some new solid fuel added by Motoko. Speaking of which, a loud explosion is heard at the nearby fuel plant. Yukari storms off to the fuel plant. As much as Mukai wants to stop her, she’s already gone in Yasukawa’s taxi. Yukari is feeling uneasy because she feels they have been holding things from her. She is worried that if the fuel explodes, the rocket will also explode too, right? And she’s going to ride it. Yasukawa explains Motoko is the source of it and her love for oxidation (what was this burning process again? F*CK SCIENCE!!!). She used to be a lab medicine maker till Nasuda ‘lured’ her away of making a liquid oxygen fuel for a hybrid rocket. He needed something cheap and with high propulsive force and if she can do that, she can do as she pleases. Of course that explosive nut straightaway accepts! Inside the plant, Yukari witnesses Motoko throwing her wedding ring for another KABOOM explosion. Motoko’s laughing like a mad scientist! Yukari barges into the meeting. Yeah, definitely not happy. She chides Mukai for being a hypocrite about his conservative technology and allowing Motoko to experiment on new solid fuels. Hey, she has a right to voice out. Who was the smart alec who gave her that freedom? Mukai responds that they are short of time and changing specifications will be risky. She wants to stop the production of the new solid fuel but an engineer wants to hear Motoko’s explanation. From what I understand, Motoko’s new fuel will be lighter than liquid fuel, which everyone thinks is impossible. Plus, the new fuel doesn’t actually need a container and burns from inside to outside, thus making the rocket lighter. Everyone gets excited of the new possibilities and recalculates. With the efficiency far exceeding liquid fuel, everyone approves the new specifications for a new and cheap hybrid rocket. Yukari is still not satisfied that everyone is changing specifications at this point and brings up Motoko’s wedding ring. But this makes them realize that the ring’s platinum as the catalyst to make the fuel as strong as that burn. As everyone congratulates Motoko, Yukari couldn’t understand a thing everyone has been saying and felt so left out. That’s why it was never a good idea to let her into meetings, right? Soon Yukari goes on a hunger strike and locks herself in her room. And she’s pretty serious about it. I thought they were happy in her losing weight but it seems if she loses more, they’ll need to redo the calculations again. Apparently Yukari isn’t being sore about the meeting but rather she doesn’t want to ride a giant bomb. Mukai tries to explain the new fuel is safer since it puts less burden on the rocket but she isn’t convinced with the ‘traitor’. Yukari’s stomach starts growling when Yukari’s mom comes by.

Episode 5
Hiroko works her convincing magic with her positivism. If using a fuel that’s never produced actual result is bugging her, then all they need to do is just get the results, right? Upon finding out they have 2 rockets, she suggests to a test on the unmanned one and then later launch Yukari. About losing their backup, she also suggests to build 10 rockets. Hey, the more you build, the cheaper the cost, right? (F*CK ECONOMICS!!!). Kinoshita notes it isn’t impossible but the most they can build is 3 rockets. Nasuda is excited with Hiroko’s ideas and accepts it whole heartedly. So I guess it’s the end of the hunger strike? Hiroko soon leaves since she’s a busy woman. She was just happened to be in the area so it wasn’t really her original intention to see Yukari. She learns of Matsuri and invites her to visit Japan once this is over. Yukari mentions if she takes the base’s helicopter, she’ll have time to see Hiroshi but she says she’ll do it another time. Kinoshita notes that they would love to have Hiroko as their pilot but because of her size, I guess not. So the engineers have to start working overtime in making another rocket. Soon news of Japan’s first astronaut which is a teenager catches the attention of the world! They couldn’t believe a high school girl would take on this role. This causes an influx of reporters onto the island. Now it’s bustling more than before. During the media briefing, Nasuda introduces the LS-5, Tanpopo (Dandelion) that will be making its journey into space. The media are a little frenzy over the skin tight outfit and are in a dilemma if they can broadcast this. Not naked but somewhat too sexy… They bombard Yukari with lots of weird questions (like if she has a boyfriend. What has that got to do with it all?). As for Matsuri’s relationship with her, Nasuda makes up a lie that she’s a daughter of a former Japanese soldier and thus a coincidence sharing the same surname. Yukari doesn’t like this but as Nasuda explains, they can’t say anything naive or will cause a scandal. Besides, something this sensational is to get a ridiculous amount of money. I can’t help think that the only reason why this received lots of media attention is the sexy skin tight suit… Yeah, sex sells. The girls are like SSA’s mascots.

Later Matsuri goes to see Hiroshi and tells him straight that Yukari’s flight is on 13th September and wants him not to place a curse and turn it into fireworks! So all the past failures were because of the tribesmen curse?! He agrees and wants Matsuri to protect Yukari. SSA runs a test flight and is a huge success. So the moment of Yukari’s much awaited debut has arrived. September 13th. Yukari enters Tanpopo with everyone making the final preparations and the media eagerly watching and awaiting its countdown. As Matsuri is giving support from the ground and going through pre-launch checks, suddenly an engineer spots an error. The flight is delayed tomorrow. The media hounds Yukari for answers but she tells them not to sweat it. I can’t believe they still can ask her weird questions like what’s for tonight’s dinner! Have they no better questions to ask? September 14th. Everything seems going fine. Till another error crops up. Delay again. September 15th. The media is wondering if this Tanpopo will ever get to fly. As usual, the team spots another error but Yukari can’t take it anymore and wants to take off, whether they like it or not. She won’t listen to reasons and gives them a minute to restart the launch or else she’ll launch the capsule herself. Nasuda confides with his staff and since they say that everything is alright, he gives the green light. Now it’s all systems go! Tanpopo soon blasts off into orbit. A nerve wrecking moment with each passing second as Tanpopo inches closer into space. Yukari tolerates all the G-force and pressure and vibration while reporting back to mission control. Finally she reaches space and everyone rejoices. However there is no report from Christmas Island as she should be passing over it at this point. Yukari looks out and sees an island but wonders if Christmas Island was this big. Well, it’s not. She’s over New Zealand!!! Oh sh*t!!! She drastically went off course big time!!! And the cause of how this screw up happened? Hiroshi and the Tariho tribe putting a curse because since it’s not the 13th, he guess it’s okay. Oh my. Hey, he didn’t break any promises, right?

Episode 6
Staying come and analyzing the situation, Yukari now regrets that she really should have quit this part time job! Action lah. The plan for her orbit re-entry will have her crash near Cocos Islands. As Yukari makes the necessary adjustments, suddenly Matsuri realizes she forget to tell daddy about the delay and thinks the failure is the works of the curse. Well, Yukari doesn’t really seem to believe in the work of evil spirits since it’s not as bad as being exploded. Till her capsule starts spinning violently. After taking control and analyzing the instruments, we learn the second oxygen tank is leaking. Fast. Though she’ll be safe if the first one remains intact, she sees sparks outside followed by splinters. She recognizes one of them as parts of the capsule. She starts to panic a little so Satsuki tells her to calm down since she can see her body readings. Yukari didn’t like that and got mad. Satsuki says she’s in her best shape when she’s mad. Referring to Mukai for a solution, he suspects some debris may have pierced through the capsule. As for fixing it, Motoko suggests using the fastener of the skin tight suit’s repair kit for Yukari to do extra-vehicular activity. With the media hounding for details, Nasuda agrees to let them know what is happening and any other relevant facts they have at hand. Yukari for the first time goes outside her capsule to access the damage. Seems there is a big hole at the bottom and radical cracks around it. While everyone is cracking their heads, Matsuri comes up with a suggestion. With 12 hours in Yukari’s life support, she wants to get Russia to launch Soyuz to save Yukari since due to the off course, she’ll be passing Russia’s Baikonur. Matsuri will go up in a third rocket to bring as much oxygen to Yukari. This will at least stretch her life support to 24 hours so in this period, Russia has to launch Soyuz. Everyone gets working while the engineers rush to finish the third rocket, Coconut. Yukari is starting to feel uncomfortable and breathing very hard. She thought she is at the end of her life when she sees a spirit before her but it turns out to be Matsuri. She puts a new pack of oxygen and Yukari can now breathe easy. Yukari is happy to see her as both girls watch the sunrise and wait for Soyuz’s rescue. However there is a problem: Soyuz can’t launch due to a breakdown. And the Russians aren’t giving a damn about it. When the girls find out about it, Yukari wants Matsuri to go home alone. But she’s not going to allow that. She starts ripping all her computer and electronics so that there’s enough room to fit both of them! Man, she’s strong enough to rip all those machines?! Those are expensive equipment, you know! Because of that, the screens down at mission control go blank as the base panics trying to find out the situation. It’s like they’re ‘blind’ now. Though the capsule may be little tight, they have to rely manually to press the buttons and levers. This is where Yukari comes in. She tops in this area. With teamwork and cooperation, they set the right coordinates for re-entry. Withstanding all the G-force, finally the capsule crashes into the water as the girls climb out to their relief. But wait. Why are there lots of people around them? Seems they did not crash into the ocean, but the swimming pool of Neris Girls Academy!!! Of all places! WOAH!!! Such precision landing?! Pure luck!!! I’m just amazed the school wasn’t destroyed from the impact it crashed. Oh, Yukari may get an earful from the strict principal for this.

Episode 7
Yukari is sure the big star now as all the girls watch in glee and excitement. The principal panics and is in a dilemma to call the fire department or police or whoever. She orders her pet honour student, Akane Miura to tell Yukari to see her. Akane is thrilled that Yukari finally made it as an astronaut. Yukari takes out the experimental goldfish from the capsule and notices that it’s not looking so well. Akane manages to get her attention to go see the principal but she screws that because the goldfish are more important. In a panic on what to do, Akane takes a look at the goldfish and realizes its decreasing level of dissolved oxygen. She quickly takes the tank and does a makeshift oxygen neutralizer thingy to have the goldfish back to normal. Is she a rocket scientist? Well, she’s from the biology club so she’s pretty well knowledgeable in this area. Then the Self Defence Force comes to pick up the capsule and the girls. Yukari offers Akane to come along since she’s the goldfish’s saviour. The principal is in total panic upon seeing the helicopters. First a spaceship, now the army. Yeah, all unwanted distractions. They return the goldfish to the professor and he is grateful that his 15 years of experiment bore fruit. Something about hitching a partnership with Nasuda to do research on some adaptation mechanisnm organ balancing thingy to solve the problem of vertigo (did anybody get what the professor said?). Later Akane asks Yukari about her experience as an astronaut and she explains the different and unique beauty of seeing the blueness of Earth. Noting how amazed she is, Yukari invites her to come see the base. Then the taxi comes as she has Akane go back to her school. Yukari and Matsuri are eating their heart out back at Yukari’s home. Well, mom didn’t cook it and bought it at some mall. Anyway they need to regain all the lost calories, right? Yukari mentions she’s going back to Solomon Islands to bring dad back and quit being an astronaut. But Matsuri mentions Akane may be sad not to see Yukari there since she’s the one who invited her. Hiroko gets this idea that she might move to Solomon Islands and live happily ever after. Yukari didn’t like the fact she faced death several times but mom says that comes with the job. Yukari goes to sleep as she can’t take anymore of this talk. In the middle of the night, she wakes up and looks up at the sky and notices how different it is. She can’t see any stars.

Next day in school, Yukari and Akane get an earful from the principal. By right she should’ve been expelled for doing a part time job which the school prohibits but decides to let this slide since the media has picked her story up (why is principal’s face so happy in the interview picture?). As for Akane, she’ll be suspended for a week for sneaking out of class. Yukari springs to her defence that it’s not Akane’s fault. Though the principal agrees it’s Yukari’s fault be she too must be responsible for tagging along. Akane is okay with the punishment but Yukari continues to beg on her behalf. The principal puts her foot down and reminds them about Neris’ proud, distinguished, elegant (and all that other crap) etiquette and that they should be more conscious of their position as high school students (b*tch!). Later both girls apologize but Yukari is adamant that Akane is the one who saved the goldfish. While Akane is astonished of Yukari being an astronaut, Yukari asserts she’s a regular high school student and didn’t want to become an astronaut. However the way she says it doesn’t seem to match her words. It’s like she’s still longing for the beauty of space when she was first enthralled by it. Despite of being suspended, Akane doesn’t regret being suspended. Matsuri picks up Yukari after school and they go jungle survival in Yokohama. Concrete jungle, that is. It’s no harm letting loose some steam once in a while. Shopping, eating, playing video games and the amusement park (people, don’t ever attempt a dangerous stunt like Matsuri standing on the roller coaster while moving!). As Yukari flips through the channels, she sees an interview whereby a fellow astronaut (she is a real life astronaut making a cameo as I later found out) acknowledges Yukari as her equal. Yukari refutes loudly and asserts she’s just a normal high school student. Back on Solomon Islands, Yukari packs up and is ready to leave. I’m sure the crew doesn’t want her to go (even if they have next year’s budget approved and could easily get work from around the world) but I guess it was a promise for her to do a one-time only job. Yeah, it’s like in order to aim for short term success, he just put the problem off later. Yukari isn’t happy Yasukawa’s taxi arrived late but she is surprised to see Akane stepping out of the car. But she doesn’t look good.

Episode 8
Seems Akane has motion sickness. What do you expect after 11 hours on the plane, 20 hours on the boat and 50 minutes by taxi! During her time being suspended, she thought of Yukari’s words that anyone can be an astronaut (which she herself can’t remember – yeah, it’s coming back to haunt you) and decided to go to space too. Nasuda has Satsuki analyze Akane’s physique and Yukari recognizes that phrase. Well, if Yukari is going to quit, they need a replacement, right? Well, she didn’t officially say she’s going back to Japan yet (when did she learn to twist her words?). Nasuda wants Mukai to make a double-seater orbiter since if there is only 1 pilot, she may not be able to do any other jobs. However Satsuki is against hiring the new girl since how can you put a person in a rocket when she can’t even handle motion sickness? Yukari brings Akane back to her room as the latter mentions how she didn’t like her life of living up to her honour student status that she’s struggling to do so. She admires Yukari for being able to live without limits. That’s why she wants to go up to space too. She doesn’t want her to quit so for the time being, Yukari brings her to the beach. While the engineers dread of making another rocket, when they see the girls pass, they get all the motivation to do their best. I guess the girls in a way provide a great morale booster to the overworked guys, eh? After their outing at the beach, they are picked up by Yasukawa who tells Akane the truth about the harsh path of being an astronaut. Should he scare her like that? He treats them at Tenshin and to eat their heart out since they won’t get the luxury of doing this. The girls take up his offer and order just about everything on the menu. He then starts worrying the impact it will have on his wallet. Man, the girls can really eat! And they’re ordering more! In the end, Akane feels queasy. I really thought she overate but I guess it’s her anaemia. Look, how can a petite girl like her eat so much? Akane undergoes the aptitude test but it seems she doesn’t have any endurance as she’s struggling to catch her breath. Then for the adaptability in change in pressure test, Akane continues to struggle but being an honour student, she can still answer questions that Satsuki poses. Though she has been warned by Yukari that Satsuki is a sadist, she still continues with the tests. But it feels like Satsuki has no heart to bully her. In the centrifuge machine, again Akane is struggling even if it’s just at 2G. Yukari is worried that Satsuki is trying to kill her by increasing another G but she tells her off that it’s not for her to decide since Akane hasn’t given up yet. In space, nobody can save you and you can only rely on yourself. Akane mentions how she threw everything to come here. Her parents totally opposed to this and she spent every last penny for a one-way ticket here. If she doesn’t get hired, she can’t go home. Eventually she passes out at 4G. Though the staffs lament her lack of endurance, Satsuki mentions her intellect and knowledge. So it’s ‘that’ for her. When Akane wakes up, she apologizes in tears about her failure. Now it’s Yukari’s turn to do some lecture. What about her dream to see the blue Earth? Didn’t she throw everything away to come here? Yukari vows to show her space and will take her there. Eh? Wasn’t she planning to quit? Well, she will. At one point. She’s really good at this now, isn’t she? Matsuri can tell she wants to go to space and realized that when she saw Akane. So Yukari promises the trio will go to space. But the next morning, Akane isn’t in her room.

Episode 9
As Yukari searches for her, she learns from Satsuki she has gone home. But she senses something amiss seeing her bags are still here and that they made a promise to go to space. Maybe it’s because of that she can’t face you? Upset Yukari goes to see Nasuda (eating potato chips with chopsticks?). He tells her she will have better chance of contacting her when she calms down. Going back to her room, she feels guilty that she may have made Akane that way. Hey, Matsuri eating potato chips with chopsticks too?! So it won’t get her hands dirty? But she eats everything else with her hands! However there is something fishy going on as Satsuki confides in Nasuda that they’re planning to keep a secret from the girls for 6 days. Training resumes as usual for Yukari and Matsuri but the former seems a little down. On the 6th day, Matsuri leaves for the southern jungles to collect rare nuts, Nasuda suggests of giving Yukari a special bonus. A security guard stops Matsuri from entering the jungle since a live firing exercise is being carried out. However she hypnotizes him to allow her! I thought it was her cuteness but the guard really seemed hypnotized via her eyes! What black magic did she use? Yukari is having a meal at Tenshin and she is obviously gloomy. Yasukawa comes in and is oblivious about her mood so much so you can say he didn’t care about his life. Yeah, he thinks the girls have a petty argument and even has his own opinions about it. Soon after, we see Tenshin like a battleground. The guys are cowering in fear behind the table as Yukari throws everything that she can get her hands on. I don’t think that wok is enough to protect you. Hey, Han Rei is on Yukari’s side. I guess as girls, she understands her feelings. Matsuri meets Akane in the jungle and even offers to eat the nuts together. Seems she is in some solo expedition. Today is the day she must make it back to base or else she’ll fail. Akane refuses help from Matsuri because she feels if she gets any help, she’ll fail. The reason she never told them was because if she did, they may sneak out to help her. As Akane treks along, she is about to give up when she spots a flock of swallows feeding on insects. Remembering Matsuri’s hint, she uses her biology knowledge to find food nearby. When Matsuri comes home, she sees Yukari in bed. Still gloomy. Still guilty. She has been thinking the reason she stayed was because she felt responsible for Akane coming here. Now that she’s not, she can go home. However Matsuri said that she met Akane in the forest, shocking Yukari. Whatever she knows, she tells. You can’t keep secrets with this girl! She’s too honest! And cool about it! Because you ask, you get. Yukari realized she has been fooled by that old geezer and sadistic vixen. Yukari goes wait at the gates and sees Satsuki there. Soon everyone from the team arrives. She realizes Kinoshita and Mukai are also in on this. As the day gets darker, they see a flashlight and a big probability is her. However Yukari can’t shout for help as this is a test. Matsuri knows the jungle well so she can guess where Akane is and the possibilities of where she’ll be if she goes in a certain direction. As Akane inches closer to the base, Yukari can’t help yell out to her. Well, it’s in a reasonable range so the guys let it pass. Finally, Akane reaches the finish line and into Yukari’s arms. Nasuda passes her. She mentions about getting a hint from Matsuri but they don’t know what she’s talking about (are they pretending?). Kinoshita considers that ‘hint’ as something that falls within her range of her intelligence and ability. I guess with the third astronaut on board, that means Satsuki can increase the training to 8Gs… Can’t wait, eh?

Episode 10
NASA needs to have their astronauts on Atlantis fix a damaged probe called Orpheus since they spent lots of research money on it and it needs to go all the way to Pluto. SSA is holding another press conference to introduce their third astronaut Akane who is also the mission specialist and 2-seater orbiter, Mangosteen. Nasuda receives some news during the conference so he leaves at lets the reporters have some Q&A time. Guess what they asked? Is knowing if they got boyfriends the only thing they’re interested in? Yeah, and the whole world is once again dumbfounded and abuzz that Japan has 3 teenager girls as astronauts. Way to go, Nippon! Atlantis’ Norman is fixing the probe when a little blunder causes him to slip the valve. It gets stuck deep into the probe’s crevice. Off all places it had to float to. Norman’s too big to get it. Houston, we have a problem. Seems when Nasuda learn of this, he already made a proposition to NASA and this will be a big chance for SSA to open up business opportunities all over the world. While the girls are embarrassed of the embarrassing photographs of them in the skin tight suits on the front page of the newspaper (on ALL the world’s newspaper, that is), they get an emergency call. During the meeting, they learn of NASA’s situation and Nasuda assigns Akane to be the one who will retrieve the valve. Hey, she’s the smallest size, right? That’s why sometimes being small is good. But Akane panics and doesn’t want to do it since it’s too soon (it’s only been a month since she’s in training as opposed to 6 months). She fears she might get in everyone’s way and wants them to call it off. Yukari calms her down and reminds her about her successful solo expedition. With that she gains her confidence and will do her mission. Yukari the captain and Akane will ride Mangosteen and rendezvous with Atlantis tomorrow morning since they need to exchange a spare part that’ll be coming from Texas. Back at NASA, mission director George Grant meets Professor O’Leary, the one who developed Orpheus for 22 years. He is told of the situation and contacts the Atlantis guys that the important thing is not a country’s interest but to cooperate since space research and development is like a gamble, he believes cooperation can guide that gamble to success (yeah, lots of money poured into it). There are no Americans or Japanese or any other nationality in space (hopefully it’ll stay that way). Looks like for now they those Americans have to swallow their pride and wait for help from those tiny Asian girls. With data from NASA, Akane practises via simulation in finding the best route to get the valve. That night she can’t sleep and calls her family but her brother Hideto picks up. She wants to apologize to her parents but was told they rushed to the shrine to pray for her safety since it’s her maiden flight. Even if they’re still mad at her, they’re still her parents and love her very much. Better make this one a success. Or else Hideto may get scolding on her behalf again. Later Akane along with Yukari and Matsuri take a stroll at the beach (because Matsuri is eating the stinky durian in her room!). Akane releases the fish they caught earlier on since she realizes they want to swim in the wide ocean. Then they admire the beautiful earthshine of the Moon (I felt turned off listening to Akane’s simple explanation…). Akane is confident she can be a mission specialist.

Episode 11
Mangosteen successfully blasts off into the sky and though Akane was knocked out, she’s okay when she’s awakened by Yukari. The Atlantis guys are amazed at the girls because they arrive in only 2.5 hours when rendezvous supposedly takes a day. That’s what you get for something small, light fast and cheap! Yeah, they are amazed at the gracefulness of the ‘angels’ as they dock with Atlantis. They get acquainted with the Atlantis’ crew, their captain, Wayne along with Louis and Gordon. As they start heading to the crevice, Wayne seems cocky that they shouldn’t start without him. But he calms himself down when Yukari points out he was the cause of the problem and when Akane helped him to get over (maybe his big size is making him move slower?). Akane spots the valve and tries to reach for it but her backpack is in the way. Norman thinks they should figure out another way but Akane will get it without her backpack. Is she crazy? Even with some saturation thingy, oxygen in her helmet will only last 3 minutes. Well, have some faith. They don’t plan to do suicide. Besides Yukari will pull her out once the time limit is up. The girls get started to pull this crazy retrieval. Even if you know she’s going to make it, we are put at the edge of our seat since she almost crosses her limit. Phew. The girls are invited inside Atlantis and the guys welcome them with lots of praises. They get to speak with O’Leary who is very grateful that their research on Pluto and Kuiper Belt will have some progress. Now it’s Norman’s turn to fix the valve but again he seems cold to the girls. Yukari notes his cockiness but Akane points out that these guys have to do 2 hours of pre-breathing before they can go outside unlike them. Norman could’ve done it via radio but he wanted to say it to them face to face. Once Norman fixes the valve, Orpheus suddenly ejects into orbit. What’s happening? From what I understand, due to a human error, its safety tag that allows Orpheus to receive remote control instructions from the ground is still attached. They need to remove it before it goes to Pluto. Sounds easy but neither Atlantis nor Mangosteen have the fuel to transfer to 3000km altitude. Wayne says there is no other way to do it but Akane insists there is. Okay, now my mind is so blur here. What I remember was, they’re going to use a two-stage acceleration of both ships to reach 3000km. However there is the problem of stabilizing Mangosteen’s payload bay, the timing of the second acceleration and Mangosteen’s re-entry at 3000km is very risky. Even if Akane had the confidence, Wayne can’t approve of this very dangerous mission and thanks them for doing more than enough. Yukari stands up for her that Orpheus is worth risking their lives for. They’re going to do it and come back alive. With both ground mission controls giving the green light, everybody gets busy.

Episode 12
NASA’s safety council terms the mission as very risky but approves it on 1 condition: The girls will do it. Satsuki is against the girls doing all the dangerous work and wants the girls to pull out. But Yukari thanks her for caring for them as well as everyone as SSA and loves them all. While Mukai and his team do test scenarios on the stress level on Mangosteen, Norman and Yukari are arguing who should do the rope work. Norman thinks they should just memorize the instructions. Then Matsuri’s necklace breaks. Oh no. I hope this is not a bad omen. Once the guys are done with the rope work, they want the girls to get into Mangosteen and will hold on to the rope.  Though the girls are supposed to do it, it’ll be alright if Atlantis keeps this a secret from Houston. Atlantis makes the necessary and final adjustments for Mango’s acceleration to rendezvous with Orpheus. Suddenly Mukai rushes in and in a panic. His face is visibly full of anxiety so much so he has a hard time saying it out from his mouth. Based on his calculations, Mangosteen will burn up upon re-entry. Oh no! What can we do?! Kinoshita doesn’t want Matsuri to tell the girls yet and have them continue the mission. Houston learns of this and O’Leary wonders if they have done a made mistake. Mangosteen is docked at Orpheus as Yukari reads the instructions needed for Akane to cut the jumper cable and release the safety tag. She successfully does so and Orpheus is on its way to Pluto. The girls are amazed by the beautiful sight of the sun rising over the Earth like as though it’s a scenery of twilight on Sahara. When they head back inside the capsule, they report they are ready for re-entry. However they can tell something is wrong when Matsuri doesn’t sound too happy. She can’t say it. None of the SSA crew can say it. Finally Kinoshita has them listen clearly to what he has to say. They are taken aback. Is there no other way? Any other way?

How come nobody thought of this but Gordon? Just like what Apollo did to land on the Moon, he wants to skip re-entry and do repeated ups and downs at the edge of the atmosphere to eliminate speed. Everyone scrambles to find the data and instructions needed for the girls to return safely. They will do 3 ups and downs but the problem will be timing and angle. Slightly off and you’ll bounce back into space forever. There are 24 checkpoint angles for re-entry. Since there will be no communication during re-entry, they need to carve the numbers onto the board. Akane remembers she gave her pen as souvenir to Atlantis but don’t fear, as an honour student, she can remember all the numbers. All accurate! Man, I already forgot the first one… Re-entry begins as they try not to waste any precious fuel. However halfway, Akane passes out! Oh sh*t! NO amount of yelling can wake her up so it’s Yukari all by herself. How then? Do some guesswork! But even so, the G’s are taking a toll on her body and she too passes out. But… these girls must be one heck of a lucky pair (or freaking lucky Yukari must’ve guessed it right) because they didn’t get fried and are floating over Yokohama over Tokyo with lots of military helicopters escorting to their safe landing. As the end credits role, a reporter is seen taking short interview of the supporting characters of the series. Some of them have the best closing lines: Hiroko: “Rather than getting in a car accident or slipping in a bathtub, don’t you think dying in space is better?”, The principal: “She said it was impossible to control because it was a space ship but to land it in a place like this (the school’s pool)…”, Yukari’s friends: “She sends us mail every day though I think it’s great to think of it as mail from space”, Motoko: “I think it would be better to do it while unconscious than awake”. Everyone continues their normal life. SSA still working hard, Hiroshi still Tariho’s tribe leader, Chou and Han Rei still running Tenshin. Well, maybe except for one. Yasukawa went back to being a pilot a Chitose. Gave up the taxi life already, eh? In no time, the Rocket Girls are back up in space for another mission as Nasuda narrates the unshakably brave Yukari’s unmatched pilot skills, Akane’s above-average intelligence and comprehension (though she may still have trouble with her physical composition) and back-up Matsuri’s sharp intuition, he is tremendously confident in SSA’s irreplaceable astronauts.

Space Girls Rock!
Surprisingly, this series is quite entertaining. With some of the dialogues witty enough to tickle your rib bones, it is funny in its own way. Yes, it’s the conversation and interaction that makes the comic relief parts funny. Otherwise, other than the drama, the talks involve complicated (to me at least) scientific explanation that no matter how many times I replay that scene, I will never get it. I know it shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to enjoy or understand what they say but let’s just say I’m not that smart. Maybe average people who do not have any knowledge about aerospace may find it difficult to comprehend a scenario but then again, not just anybody can venture into this field and work out the magic numbers and calculations. Because of all these, there is a sense of realism in the entire series, even if the terms sound like gibberish to me. Though there are some parts which boggles my mind like how Yukari’s Tanpopo crashed into Neris’ pool without at least cracking the building from that height and velocity. I know it’s water but even so, shouldn’t all the water be splashed out too? Or the fact about using high school girls because of their light weight? If this was possible, don’t you think the space agencies would’ve used them? Yeah, maybe girls at their age would rather go shopping, gossip and talk about boyfriends and idols. The realism is so because the show has got help and guidance from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency). When you engage this kind of organization, you’re going to expect something authentic, bona fide or at least close to reality and not something which is totally made up. Their reputation is on the line, you know. The drama at points can get a little tense because since it’s space, any slight mistake will send you to your doom. So for me, the space mission dramas kept me on the edge of my seat but deep down, you’d feel you want to root and support for them all the way and pray that they come back alive.

The characters are the main reason why this series is successful in its own right. Here we have hot-headed and stubborn Yukari whose self imposed mission to find her father quickly turned out into a personal responsibility to accomplish her tasks that sees a development into this area. I guess with her agreeing to go onto further missions, it proves that she is sticking around, eh? Yeah, she can go see her dad anytime at the village. He’ll always be around. That guy is the total joker of the series. Wished he had more screen time saying funny stuff especially during his ‘first confrontation’ with Yukari. That was indeed hilarious. It’s still a mystery why he left Hiroko in the midst of their honeymoon and how he ended up being Tariho’s chieftain. Hopefully he won’t make any more black magic to destroy all the rockets. Whether true or not, believe it or not, sometimes the path to the stars are sacred and when native people make a claim about evil spirits even without scientific proof as backing, you can’t say they’re entirely wrong or ignore them. So maybe Hiroshi became an indigenous person because it was some sort of a ‘warning’ to the SSA people about trying to play God or at least trying to reach Him? I feel Yukari could’ve been a much better person if not for her grumpiness and moodiness but I guess that’s where her other teammates make up for it. The ever positive and truth-telling Matsuri is a great girl and because of her Tariho tribe background, some say she gets her ‘baseless confidence’ just because of that. But hey, it’s better being positive than negative, right? And yes, if you have dark secrets, never ever tell it to her. A good upbringing by her dad, she will never lie. That’s good, right? So you can count on her never joining agencies like CIA, FBI, KGB that involves double-crossing and espionage. Akane is also a positive and very polite girl that makes up for her shy demeanour and weak physical endurance. I suppose each time they head into space, she’ll be in knock-out mode and Yukari will be her ‘alarm clock’. With these trio on board, how can you not say the aerospace industry is not getting anywhere interesting?

The other supporting characters at SSA too are amusing with each their own characteristics. Nasuda is like a business-minded boss who always wants to seek business opportunities and the need of having light and cheap crafts. What better way to do so by using high school girls, right? If he was running a business in other areas, say properties or selling insurance, I guess he can be really a successful one. Hey, he ‘persuaded’ Akane to become a part time astronaut to a full time irreplaceable asset. And he didn’t even do much to change her mentality. All his cards were perhaps laid out right. Satsuki’s sadism makes her someone you’ll dread to be with at every physical test but at times she shows she cares because it’s not like she really wants to kill you. Remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I think this is her motto. Or maybe she’s just being plain sadistic. Motoko has got that sleepy look on her face but when it comes to explosive, she turns into a mad scientist. If she was hired back in World War II, I think she could’ve been the one who created the atomic bomb. Kinoshita is the calmest of the lot and though he has his own dream crushed, he is happy to see others living it out. Mukai, maybe he needs more sleep so he won’t mix up crucial data that could’ve fried Yukari and Akane during re-entry. With these few people and other SSA staffs working together closely, this little base can be considered as a one big family, eh? As for Yasukawa, the reason why he stayed back for a little while as a taxi driver was most probably he felt that his previous job was given to somebody else better (a high school girl in this case) so he lingered on a while to see how she would fare. I don’t know, this was what I felt though he too is genuine that he didn’t want to see Yukari hurt when she was first given the job. The Atlantis’ American guys are a nice bunch too. But Norman’s cocky attitude is like a mirror reflection of Yukari’s impetuous. I guess every crew has got to have a rebellious one, right? Even if he is so, deep down he’s a nice guy and still wishes the best for the girls. Thankfully there aren’t any space-race politics in here to rear its ugly head. True that there is no nationality when it comes to space, the cooperation of nations is much needed to make it a success. If we can’t rely on ourselves, who can we rely on? Remember, to take a phrase from a horror alien movie: In space nobody can hear you scream.

The opening theme is Rise by ICHIKO. This rock piece wasn’t very appealing to me because it felt like the singer was shouting and some her lines were out of tune (though this is actually how the song is supposed to sound). It reminded me of her style in the Zero No Tsukaima series’ opening themes. But surprisingly the ending theme, Ashite Ike No Bus Ni Notte by Misae is a sunshiny catchy song. Can’t help do a little dance each time the lively ending song comes about. The special ending theme for the final episode, Waratte by ICHIKO is a fitting anime pop piece as the happy tune suits the happy ending and pace of the series. Well, at least she’s not ‘shouting’ here. On a trivial note, the mid-intermission shows the several vehicles that appear in the series like the rockets and oddly, Yasukawa’s taxi! We are informed of the few specs but nothing much in detail. Though I wished that they would have varied a little more vehicles like Soyuz (perhaps it did not appear in the show) and Atlantis instead of showing the same 3D rotating vehicle for a couple of episodes before changing to another one.

I still do not harbour any dreams of going to space or become an astronaut after watching this series. Heck, not even any interest gained in the topic of space at all. But watching space themed animes do make me feel how small and insignificant we are in this endless mysterious universe. I don’t think as an otaku, I’ll pass any of the aptitude tests. A complete failure! I may not even withstand 1G! But watching others do it and living out their dream is also in a way fulfilling and exciting. The amount of time, energy and money spent and dedicated for something that seems so easy yet demanding and gruelling. So who says a monkey can do this ‘easy’ job? On a side note, a monkey was indeed one of the very first animals that went up to space back in the late 1940s. I’ll be waiting for the day when man takes his first step on the red planet Mars. Or then again, it may be a high school girl who will be the first one that will do that job. To go to where no (wo)man has ever gone before. If that ever happens, you could say that a truly Heavenly Angel has arrived.

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