Banana Fish

May 5, 2019

Oh no. With a name like that, Banana Fish really sounds very fishy and the kind of anime that I think I would clearly stay away from. Because the promotional poster and its synopsis seem to hint of some possible gay yaoi BL thingy. Banana Fish. BF. Boyfriend. Uh huh. Handsome American boy meets handsome Japanese boy in America. Uh oh. I can see where this is going. And even more so when I read that the main character is a sex toy to some old powerful guy. Yikes. However my guts were ringing like hell and telling me it wasn’t going to fall into that bias stereotypic of mine. It was going to be different. A lot different. Homosexuality, child trafficking, child pornography, paedophilia, drugs, street gangs. Wow. Welcome to America, people.

Episode 1
Nearing the end of the Iraq war, a group of Americans are resting and hoping they will go home when one of them, Griffin Callenreese fires and kills many of his own men. He is taken down but still alive. The only thing that comes out of his mouth is “Banana Fish”. In current time, Ash Lynx meets a dying man who hands him some pill and address. Noticing a few punks chasing this dead guy, Ash learns they were sent by Dino Golzine. He goes to see him and is upset about not keeping his promise not to kill anyone. Dino says he was a rat and it was necessary to take him out. Ash returns to his home as Skip informs him that a couple of Japanese guys are coming to interview him for their article on street gangs. Meanwhile the scientist informs the worst to Dino that something precious has gone missing. Want to bet it’s that pill? We see Griffin in Ash’s care. Although he is a vegetable and can say nothing but Banana Fish. This intrigues Ash because that dead guy also said the same thing. Ash sees Dr Meredith to analyse the contents of the powder in this pill. Dino of course suspects Ash has gotten something that belongs to him and summons him for questioning. Ash plays dumb but Dino isn’t convinced. So when Ash returns home, he knew Dino has sent his men to search his place. With the men finding nothing, Dino believes Ash is being careful and assigns Marvin to take care of it all. Hence Marvin makes a deal with Ash’s rival, Frederick Arthur. The Japanese photographers, Shunichi Ibe and Eiji Okumura meet the NYPD guys, Antonio Jenkins and Charlie Dickenson. Meredith can’t make head or tail of this drug. As for Banana Fish, it is from a short story of JD Salinger. In the story, if you see a Banana Fish at sea, you feel like dying. Ibe and Eiji set foot in Ash’s turf. I guess young Japanese guy isn’t sure of the American custom and still trying to be the polite Japanese, he asks Ash for permission to look at his gun! Surprisingly Ash does so. Skip believes Ash takes a liking for him since he never lets anyone touch his gun. Ash receives a distress call from Shorter Wong to get out of here now because Arthur has rounded up some guys to get him. Yeah, he should have called earlier because they’re now busting the place. However Ash soon realizes he isn’t the target and that they’re after Skip. They also kidnap Eiji too since he is with the boy. Ash borrows Shorter’s bike to give chase.

Episode 2
Ash confronts Arthur and Marvin. He is forced to throw down his gun to save the duo but Arthur now punches him as payback (for damaging his fingers). They are then imprisoned but because Marvin is such a gay pig, he wants to f*ck Ash in exchange of putting a good word to Dino. Ash pretends to allow him but once the fatty lets his guard down, Ash beats him up and they all escape. Too bad they hit a dead end. Eiji isn’t breaking the steel pipe to fight back. In fact, he is going to use it to jump over the barbwire brick wall! Yeah, he was once a pole vaulter. Eiji is successful and Ash is amazed of this beautiful ‘flight’. Of course Eiji lands hard. Wooden crates break his fall? Thank goodness it didn’t pierce him. Bleeding Eiji manages to call NYPD before losing conscious. Eiji might feel bad he left Ash and Skip behind but with the details, Charlie can move in and act now. Before Marvin could take Ash away, Shorter and his gang arrive for some gang fight. Marvin points his gun at Ash but then shoots Skip. Charlie arrives too late. Ash is mad as he chases Marvin. By the time he arrives at his place, he sees Marvin’s dead body. A gun on the floor. Oh no. Too late. The police are here. You’ve been setup. Evanstine interrogates Ash and this bad cop tries to provoke Ash into talking by taking out all the child porn material that they found in Marvin’s room. You see, Ash was one of his porn child actors. Evanstine plays a cruel video of that porn scene of Marvin doing in a young Ash. Hence there is motive for Ash to kill this bastard. Luckily Ash holds in his rage but is taken away. Evanstine is on Dino’s payroll as he reports to the big boss who in turn makes a call to a judge under his payroll too. Charlie tries to talk to Ash but Ash already knows what kind of fate is in store for him. Especially Dino owning a team of big shot lawyers. Charlie hopes Eiji could talk to Ash seeing he trusts him but Eiji being a lousy liar, Ash somewhat envies Eiji for being able to ‘fly’. Eiji is so touched that he comes out crying?! Yeah, he can’t force this guy to talk. More bad news as the judge has sentenced Ash to state prison. Their only hope is Max Lobo who is imprisoned there. Ash is ushered in and all the prisoners are making wolf calls at this pretty boy. Ash the target? More like his ass would be the first target!

Episode 3
Charlie makes a plea to Max to protect Ash. Luckily they are cellmates as Max tries to be friendly with him but Ash knows the pitiful columns he writes for a certain newspaper. As Max shows him around, Garvey tries to make a move on him. Ash loses his temper and beats the sh*t out of this guy. He is thrown into solitary confinement but that didn’t rough him up or make him repent the slightest. Ash remembers ever since Dino took him in when he was young, he has been waiting for a chance to be free. But to do that he must go up against him. Knowing the drug is the cause and key to it all, he needs to get word to Meredith and Griffin to stay away from it. But how? He is being closely watched. The phones tapped and the letters will be scrutinized. It looks odd that Ash allows Garvey to f*ck him up in the library. In the infirmary, he requests for a pill for his headache. Ash learns that Max also knows about Banana Fish. Somewhat. He believes Banana Fish is a person. There was some guy who wrote an article on the Iraq war. It is unclear if Banana Fish is an individual or an organization but it is connected to drug trafficking. Oddly, the rumours died out after 2007. Max supposedly knows this guy but Ash points out he is already dead. Max is also after Banana Fish as he had a friend who was seriously messed up by a bad drug. When Ash learns his friend is Griffin, he knows Max is the one who shot Griffin, his brother and put him in this vegetative state. Ash isn’t his real name but Aslan Callenreese. Ash blames him for leaving Griffin there to die although Max has done everything in his power to help him. Griffin can’t even recognize his own brother, will he even recognize Max? When Ash gets out, he will kill him. When Eiji comes to visit Ash, it seems Ash flirts with him and before they go, kisses him!!! This gay moment is only because Ash slipped a pill into Eiji’s mouth. Eiji knows something is up as he takes a look at the message inside the pill. He wants him to go to a shop in Chinatown and meet Shorter. Just say Ash sent him and tell him what he gave to Meredith to hide it somewhere. Max is affected so much that he sees Griffin in Ash and almost tries to kill him! Eiji enters the shop but is told that person is not around. Eiji isn’t careful as he isn’t aware Dino has sent spies to tail him. And since he said the doctor’s name… Before he knows it, he is confronted by Arthur.

Episode 4
Arthur threatens to kill the doctor if Eiji doesn’t talk. He spills everything and yet Arthur is going to kill. He is going to make Ash pay by taking away everything precious to him. Luckily Shorter is here before anyone dies. After getting the drug, Griffin miraculously got up. But Abraham Dawson panics to see him alive and shoots him. In the commotion, Arthur and his men escape. Meredith treats Griffin personally and can’t bring him to the hospital or the mafia will track him. Max changes cell? Yeah, some bull guy is now Ash’s cellmate and he wants to get gay with this guy. Ash isn’t a pushover and beats him up and would have killed him had not worried Max returned to stop the fight. When Eiji is finally reunited with worried Ibe, he mentions about Griffin saying Banana Fish when he saw Abraham. Meredith kept some of the substance and believes it is something like LSD but it symptoms last longer. Even way past 24 hours. The lab rats went aggressive and killed each other. It might have something to do with the recent strange suicide cases. Ibe wants Eiji to return to Japan now as it is getting dangerous. Eiji will not do it despite Ibe is only concern for his safety. What will Ibe say to his parents if he really gets killed? Worst scenario happens as Griffin dies. It is suggested they don’t tell Ash for now so he won’t do anything stupid like breaking out of prison. Charlie then calls Max to tell him this. Meanwhile Ash is being beaten up by Garvey as per Dino’s orders. Of course he fights back and when Max comes to break them up, accidentally mentions about Griffin. I’m sure Garvey won’t bother Ash for a while after sticking a fork in his crotch! Ouch! Ash pesters Max about Griffin and uses that betrayal psychology to talk. Max says Griffin is dead. Ash is in shock and beats up Max if he tries to get near him. Max has had it playing Mr Nice Guy and fights back. I guess this got nowhere so the duo go back to their cell to talk (Max transferred back?). Max tells how Griffin was his buddy. But the Iraq war totally did him in. Friend or foe were alike and he couldn’t take it and relied on drugs to get through. Ash in turn tells him all he knows when he was first handed the pill and address. Ash was fortunate to be brought up by Griffin and without him, would have starved to death. After the war, he was so weak he couldn’t even take a piss himself. But that is all over now. Griffin isn’t around anymore.

Episode 5
With Jenkins pulling strings, Ash is able to get out on bail. So as Charlie picks him up, Ash puts up an act of wanting to see Griffin so Charlie tells him the truth. More crocodile tears to let Charlie’s guard down. Then Ash steals his gun and kicks him out of the car. Charlie and Ibe struggle to contain him but Eiji decides to side with Ash and drives the car away. Meanwhile Arthur bugs Dino about this Banana Fish. Dino says that it is not a human but a drug. A drug that will change the world. Ash reunites with Shorter who wants to help Eiji with his fight against Dino. Ash was reluctant at first but since Shorter has a reason to go up against Dino and Ash can’t do it alone, Ash allows it. Even Eiji too. He was forced to retire from pole vaulting due to injury. Ibe saw him depressed and decided to bring him to America. Because he feels responsible for all this, he wants to see this one till the end. Ash gives Eiji a gun and teaches him how to sue it because when the fight starts, he won’t be able to protect him. Then Ash goes to see some Chinese corporate guy, Lee Wang Lung who seems to be on bad terms with Dino. He will help those who goes up against Dino and is more than willing to lend Ash a truck as per his request. Ash then explains about Club Cod. It’s not a seafood restaurant. It serves humans. In this secret club, Dino is the head and runs the operations of selling young boys to other prominent figures. That way, he makes a profit and has control over them. The club catches young runaway boys and sell them. They are drugged so they can’t run and only have a few years to live. Dino is always here in the middle of every month. Max just got out of prison and he goes to see Ibe and knows Ash will be at Club Cod. When Dino arrives at Club Cod, Ash begins his move. Shorter drives the truck to ram into the area. WTF Ash standing atop the truck and shooting?! Yeah, he got Dino’s shoulder. If not for Arthur’s men sniping Ash (on his shoulder), it could’ve been bad. A gunfight ensues in the chaos. Max and Ibe arrive and tell their friends to escape via jumping into the sea. Even after escaping, Ash still wants to continue picking a fight so Max punches him out and they all take refuge at his place. Dino orders his men to capture Ash alive. He doesn’t care what they do as long as they bring him back to him because Ash is his.

Episode 6
Ash and co return to his father’s home in Boston. Although stepmom Jennifer is happy to see him, Jim isn’t. Ash only wants the keys to the house Griffin used to stay and they’ll leave once the truck is fixed. Jim continues to dislike his son and considers his friends as manwhores. Ash relates that he and Griffin were born to different mothers. In the house, they find an old album. There is a photo that has Abraham’s picture in it. It must have been Griffin’s old platoon. Locating this dude, they find out his address similar to the one Ash was given. He lives in LA. As Jim continues to have bad blood with Ash, Eiji gets mad. I guess it’s time for dad to reveal how things turned out. When Ash was young, there was a military veteran who lived up the hills. The kids loved him and he coached a baseball team that Ash was in. One day, Ash came home messed up and he knew what happened. He was taken to the police but since everyone loved that army dude, they blamed Ash for seducing him. Hence Jim had no choice but to tell Ash that if anybody tried to same thing on him, just allow it but make him pay for it. A year later, Ash shot that guy with Jim’s gun. When cops searched his house, they found bones of children in his basement. Although Ash wasn’t found guilty of anything, Jim sent him to his sister’s place but subsequently he ran away. That night, a couple of guys enter the store just when Jim and Jennifer are about to close. Turns out they are Dino’s men and they take them hostage to lure Ash out. Ash has no choice but to give in. Lucky the fast thinking of his friends distract them for a while. Ash is able to fight back but unfortunately Jennifer was shot and killed. Jim was shot too but only in his shoulder. After killing Dino’s men, Jim tells his son to leave now as he has a friend to call the ambulance and cops over. Jim puts his fingerprints over the murder weapons so as to clear their name. After learning Ash is up against a big mafiaso who killed Griffin, Jim gives his blessings. No time for father-son reconciliation as they have to get running. Meanwhile Dino sees Wang Lung and informs how his Banana Fish will have no impact on his business. In fact, he is willing to relinquish some European territories to him next year. All he needs is his cooperation to catch Ash. He wants that kid because he has 2 journalists with him and will stop at nothing to stop to leak. Since they are heading to LA which is under Wang Lung’s territory, Wang Lung will send his men Yut Lung for the job. A week later, Ash and co arrive at the city of angels.

Episode 7
The gang stops by at Max’s home. Max is happy to greet his son, Michael but his ex-wife, Jessica is still mad at him. Because she is acquaintance with Ibe, she lets all of them in. So apparently this short detour is because Max wanted to leave a birthday present for Michael. After doing so, they head to the address but see Yau Si assaulted by some thugs. They manage to chase them off as they learn Yau Si is Abraham’s nephew. Of course, Yau Si himself is adopted. You didn’t think Caucasian parents could suddenly give birth to an Asian kid, do you? Currently, his father is missing. They check his room and find it messy. Ash hacks the computer to find more info about Banana Fish and they all realized it is a drug. Meanwhile Shorter who was sent to find out more on Yau Si because Ash finds him suspicious is now in a conflict. He was told by Lee Hua Lung (Lee’s younger brother) to be the traitor and report Ash and his buddies or his sister, Nadia dies. When he returns, he gets rough with Yau Si and demands to know the truth. Then he sees his dragon tattoo, a seal of the Lee clan and realizes that he is Yut Lung. Yut Lung drops his soft spoken demeanour and reminds Shorter that he will now take orders from him. Ibe remembers their visa has expired so Ash plays the bad guy to go tell Eiji he needs to go home because from now on it’ll get dangerous and he’ll just be in the way. Eiji accepts his fate but can’t help feel sad about it. Max knows Ash is going back to New York, the reason why he also wanted Eiji to leave. It might be Dino’s turf but it is also his home. Yut Lung orders Shorter to kidnap Eiji as bait to lure Ash. Shorter is so mad he wants to kill him. But he can’t. He still feels grateful for the Lee clan for helping his family survive in a foreign land. But not anymore. They are the same like Dino. Meanwhile thugs barge into Jessica’s home.

Episode 8
The thugs call Max to bring Ash over if he knows what’s good for his wife and son. Ash has Shorter stay behind to guard the Japanese as he feels something is off because if they wanted to lure them out, they would move the hostages and set a trap. When Ash and Max arrive, the police are already here. Jessica and Michael are fine. The cops came because earlier on Jessica was on the phone with a friend and he alerted the police. Yut Lung begins his move as he poisons Ibe and uses his acupuncture needles to knock out Eiji. While Eiji is out cold, Ibe can still see and hear. Yut Lung wants Ibe to witness all this so he could tell Ash what happened. By the time Ash realizes Yut Lung is the traitor and rushes back, they’re already gone. Another stranger pops in. But he is Alexis and this is supposed to be his home. Meanwhile Shorter regrets his actions but vows to protect Eiji. While waiting for the transit to New York, Arthur shows up to bring them back. Shorter threatens to take Eiji’s life and then himself if he does funny stuffs. Dino sees Senator William Kippard and Colonel Thomas Holstock to assure them about the perfection of the drug for their next experiment. After Alexis injects a serum to cure Ibe’s poison, he shows them a secret science room. The PC was dummy and he was staying in some condo after noticing strange men were tailing him. He came back because the sensor went off after being hacked. When the brothers were still in college, they thought of making drugs to make money. They accidentally created this drug. It wasn’t just some hallucination drug but induced all your emotions and nightmares to a maximum point. Russians once made a hypnosis drug but it was unreliable. Banana Fish makes it 100% reliable. So if you tell a person to kill immigrants, he’ll start doing it. Alexis got scared of its potential as a friend they tested on died but Abraham continued testing it out on soldiers serving in Iraq. So now that he has joined up with Dino and make a deal with the US government, Dino will become to top dog in the underworld. Alexis as a scientist couldn’t bring himself to destroy the drug. I guess the price to pay for that is everybody punching him. As Yut Lung reports to Wang Lung but failed to obtain the drug’s data, Wang Lung is displeased he didn’t do so as he thinks this makes him inferior to Ash. Yut Lung is all dolled up to become Dino’s plaything but Yut Lung as an ulterior agenda. He will never forgive his brothers for killing his mom and now it’s time to destroy them. Thugs enter Alexis’ home and apprehend the guys before burning down the entire place.

Episode 9
Yut Lung is dressed up as a woman and given to Dino as a token of friendship from Chinatown. He wakes up Eiji and the latter couldn’t believe Shorter had betrayed them. Shorter is then turned into a lab rat and injected Banana Fish. He is brainwashed by Abraham to fear Eiji and the only way out from this nightmare is to kill him. But Dino will save this show for Ash. Not sure if Dino had his fun with Yut Lung and Eiji because Ash has arrived. First they have a wonderful dinner as Dino praises the wonderful merchandise Ash was when he was under him. Meanwhile, Sing Soo Ling is now the leader of Chinatown after the elders banished Shorter. He and his gang are trying to make a deal with Ash’s gang led by Alex to fight against Dino. Once dinner is over, all the guests are taken to the execution room where the show is about to begin. Dino watches it from above with Kippard and Holstock. Shorter and Eiji are brought in. With Arthur’s command, Shorter soon picks up a knife to kill Eiji. No amount of yelling could snap him out. He must kill Eiji to get out from this nightmare. After that he will kill himself or live forever being haunted. Eiji is reduced to running and just when you think Ash’s screaming got through to Shorter for once, could it be coincidence? In this short lapse of Shorter getting his conscious back, he pleads to Ash to end it all because he can’t bear the suffering anymore. Shorter returns to his killing machine mode. But just before he is going to kill Eiji, Arthur releases Ash’s chains to hand him a gun. To save Eiji, Ash quickly shoots Shorter in the heart. Abraham is glad the brain is still intact as he could analyse the effects on the brain cells. Ash and co feel awful and only Arthur is laughing like a madman seeing Ash suffering.

Episode 10
Dino and Arthur leave that night for an important event. Yut Lung then relays an important info to Hua Lung. After that he goes to talk to Ash who isn’t in any mood. He leaves a key as a chance for him to escape. He accepts his fate if the next time they meet, Ash will kill him. Sing and Alex attack Dino’s residence. With that racket, Ash makes his move to escape. At the armoury, he tells Max and Ibe to escape while he goes to rescue Eiji. Yeah, Ash is going to gun down those henchmen mercilessly. It seems the next presidential candidate got killed by his secretary before taking her own life. So this is the event that Dino and the rest of the American bigwigs are waiting for? But when Dino hears Ash has escaped, looks like this has become the bigger issue. Sing interrogates a guy about Shorter and can’t believe Ash killed Shorter. In that case he will pay. Yut Lung confronts Abraham and paralyzes him, telling him that Ash is going to come for him like the devil. Ash finds Eiji and busts him out. He promises to protect him. After gunning more men, Ash stumbles into his gang. He gives the orders to destroy all the cars and take Eiji with him. Ash is going to retrieve Shorter’s body. For once Eiji listens and wants him to come back safely. Ash enters the lab and sees Shorter’s body being experimented. Horrified, he becomes mad and pumps all the lead into Abraham until there are no more. Ash then burns the lab and the body. Sing comes in and has the wrong idea. Ash is still in a bad mood and tells him to get out. Stubborn Sing fights him and loses but is let off by Ash. Sing returns to his men. Yut Lung picks them up and will let him off the hook by telling his brothers that he saved him. Sing hates to admit that Ash is much better than him but when they fought, he didn’t even see him as the enemy. He is still trying to know why Ash killed Shorter but Yut Lung will tell the reason one day.

Episode 11
Dino’s mansion is razed to the ground and he now has reporters tailing him. You bet he isn’t in the mood and even more so his favourite pet has escaped. Ash returns to his gang’s base. He orders them to find more info about the gangs who have aligned with Arthur. Eiji observes how Ash’s words are their law and they obey without question. But this isn’t the side of Ash he knows. Making it weirder as he spends more time with him, he learns Ash is afraid pumpkins due to a Halloween prank gone wrong. Is there some sort of bromance brewing between them? They laugh, chat and tease each other like nobody’s business. Oh right. We should expect this. More bromance drama when Ash wakes up at night after a nightmare. He relates he killed for the first time when he was 8 when a man tried to rape him. It still haunts him. With so many blood on his hands, he is still scared especially with Shorter’s death. Eiji comforts him and promises he will always stay by your side. Ash breaks down and cries on his lap. Next day, Ash meets Max. His first plan is to buy an expensive condo. He needs Max help to sign the contract as he is a minor. Where does Ash get all that money? It seems he has used Dino’s accounts to sell stocks and plummet its value. He also knows his secret fake accounts overseas and has wired it to somewhere else. Dino just got all this news and is looking real shocked how someone could hack all his details and use it in his name. Well, when he was f*cking Ash, Ash had a different idea. He planted a spyware in his computer and got all the access and passwords. Now that this has caused a huge damage to the foundation, Dino will have to answer to the dons and won’t be on Ash’s tail for a while. Ash wants Max to find out more about the secretary who used Banana Fish to kill the presidential candidate. Ash buys a condo right next to a building that is owned by Dino. Although Eiji will be cooped up inside this condo for his own good, Max believes Eiji will be his Achilles heel. Dino prepares to leave the country as he gives Arthur his last chance to capture Ash alive. When he comes back, he will strangle him with his own hands.

Episode 12
Arthur is mad. Looks like Ash’s men has been going around killing his. Ash then dares confront Dino at the airport just before his flight to declare war. He thought getting rid of him was the answer but now he will stop whatever he intends to do. Later Ash goes to see another gang head, Bloody Cain. He wants him to stay out of the war between him and Arthur. Cain isn’t obligated to do as he says but as long as he doesn’t hurt his men, they’re cool. Ash and co continue to mercilessly kill rival street gangs even if they surrender. So much so the news’ headlines are hogged with the increased number of gang killings. This has Eiji worried about him because it is not the Ash he knew. Ash insists that power is everything. This tension causes a rift between them but it won’t last long because you know, Japanese are quick to apologize, right? Besides, their bromance is blooming so it can’t break just because of this minor tiff. Cain sees Ash and tells him Arthur met with him to make a deal to become an observer between them. Ash accepts it even though it is a trap because eventually he has to settle things with Arthur. Ash lets Max see a few photos of the bigshots coming in and out of Dino’s building. In addition to Kippard, there is Arthur Smiles who is the White House’s chief of staff. With Holstock, Ash deduces America’s plan to turn Arab into their puppet state. Because America’s official stance is against terrorism there, they will use local terrorists to plot a coup detat. The new government will then ask America for military support. This sounds ridiculous but with Banana Fish, it will be easy. The mafia comes in with the money by investing in heroine distribution in Kafghanistan (WTF type error on purpose?!) that is responsible for 90% of the world’s distribution. Dino will control the underworld with this. When Ash returns to Eiji, he has set up a Halloween party! Pumpkin theme! After the party, you wonder why the guys are asking each other if they have a girlfriend. Does it really matter? Eiji doesn’t but Ash admits there was a girl he liked when he was 14. Too bad she died as someone got jealous thinking she was Ash’s boyfriend. Boy, that escalated quickly. The world won’t let him mingle with normal people anymore.

Episode 13
Flashback shows Ash and Arthur clashed over territorial disputes. Although Ash won, Arthur played dirty and tried to shoot him. Luckily he was such a bad shot that Ash could quickly severed his fingers. Ash and Arthur meet at an abandoned railway line to settle. Cain is joined by Sing as observers. As the fight start, Ash hears the sound of a train coming. He realizes this is a trap as Arthur’s men have hijacked the train and try to gun everyone down mafia style! With Sing throwing Ash’s gun to him, he makes every headshot count. Arthur has his men retreat but Ash manages to sneak on board. Does Arthur have unlimited goons at his disposal? Seems Ash is killing a train load of them. Does Ash have unlimited bullets? He doesn’t seem to need to reload. Meanwhile Eiji wakes up and realizes Ash is gone. Ash’s men are here to take him to the airport and Eiji knows Ash is up to something but decides to obey. Too bad the men can’t keep this a secret and tell him what’s going on. Yeah, now Eiji wants to go to Ash’s side. What’s this about thinking back when Ash told him about death? The times Eiji heard Ash cried numerous times in his sleep calling for his mama? Was it something to do with his tormented childhood and the killing of Shorter? Was his tough leadership a way to cover up his fragile soul? Wow. So many questions. Don’t think they’ll be answered by the time he reaches there. Anyway, Ash just gunned everyone down! Only Arthur is left. He didn’t kill him because he wants to give him a chance to fight? Okay. So on the railway lines, it is a free show of 2 men trying to kill each other with a knife. When Eiji arrives, he calls out to Ash. That distraction gave Arthur a chance to slash across his guts. See what you do, Eiji boy???!!! But Ash is strong and fights back enough to slit his throat. And to finish and make his death permanent, Arthur falls down to the asphalt below. Ash rules! I guess everyone so engrossed with the fight that they didn’t even hear the police coming. Looks like everyone’s getting arrested.

Episode 14
Ibe has doubts if he should separate Eiji from Ash. He brought him here to escape the stiffness of Japan. He thought separating them would protect Eiji but now he feels it would do them more harm. Looks like Ibe will miss his flight too when he sees the gang fight on the news. Ash undergoes surgery and miraculously survives despite the doctor only put the rate of success at 50%. Sing and Eiji are bailed out thanks to Yut Lung. He updates Eiji about Ash’s surgery but the bad news is that Dino is coming back soon. Must have heard the news. Yut Lung tries to tell Eiji off that Ash needs no friends and people like him are just in his way. Eiji admits it and this surprises Yut Lung feel like he wants to crush him. But for now Eiji will be his prisoner. Man, Ash has got 4 hot nurses wanting to look after him and he hates it?! WTF?! Oh, right… Anyway, Ash is soon tasked to take some psychiatric test but he shows us why his IQ is 180 by stumping the psychiatrist with some advanced maths formula. Kippard views Ash a threat and wants him taken out. That night a nurse comes into his room and Ash can tell she is not one of the usual nurses. He can ‘smell’ she is not a real nurse due to the lack of antiseptic smell from her. True enough, she tries to kill him but he fights back. He threatens for answers but she kills herself. Kippard won’t give up but will leave Ash in the hands of Dr Mannerheim who runs a mental health institution. This means having the CIA taking over this case from Jenkins and Charlie. Max visits Ash to tell him he plans to expose the story of Ash stealing from Dino’s accounts upon his return. He has the connections to do so. Ash is soon taken by the CIA and blindfolded. But he can tell where they are headed from the direction the vehicle turns as well as the surrounding noises. Next day, the shocking report all over the news that Ash has died after being transported to the mental health institute.

Episode 15
Yut Lung goes to see Eiji if he is okay but Eiji is smart enough to hide and then hold him as hostage to gain his freedom. Outside, they believe that Ash isn’t dead and if so, Yut Lung will continue to be Ash’s enemy. This means coming after Eiji. With Dino returning and hounded by the media, Max masquerades as one of them and tells him he was the one who leaked the story. Dino hides his surprise when hears news of Ash’s death and orders his men to check. Max and Ibe see the live autopsy of Ash. Looks like the real deal but Max knows better. It is just a kid that looks very much like Ash. True enough, he is being tested by Mannerheim. He is then introduced to a docile patient named Adam. Friendly, right? He actually raped and killed 3 nuns! Thanks to Banana Fish, he is now docile. Mannerheim brings Ash to his lab where there are lots of brain and spine samples for testing. But Ash gets riled up upon learning one of them belongs to Shorter! I thought he burnt it clean? Did he not? Mannerheim concludes by showing him a retarded Alexis. The goal is to control scientist but maintain their intelligence. That is why Ash is heaven sent for this experiment. Ash is then drugged out. Meanwhile Eiji almost gets attacked by a couple of guys (do these people like kawaii Japanese boys?!) but is luckily saved by Sing. He is taken to his place as Eiji explains the truth of Shorter’s death. Before Mannerheim could begin his operation, Dino barges in and wants this to stop. However the CIA guys tell him his place that Kippard is in charge now. Dino has fallen from power as the Corsican Foundation that funds this institute has taken him off the list and put Baron Zakharev as the new person in charge. Though, Zakharev as a newbie still has Dino assist him. Dino then waits for Ash to wake up. He is disappointed he has become this weak so it’s no point killing him. He wants Ash to get back to his usual strength. That is when he will hunt him down and corner and kill him. Max finds out about Kippard as a big investor in Corsican Foundation. Good timing for him, the institute gives a monthly tour and that is like tomorrow. Meanwhile Ash acts like a horny flirty gay boy in front of the camera. Are the guards gay because they are watching in shock. Until Ash throws the sheets over the camera. Obviously the guard who went down to check is gay. He came alone and left the door open to check on him! No surprise Ash gets the better of this dumb guard and steals his stuffs.

Episode 16
Dino lets Zakharev take charge to see how he handles this. And so Ash manages to evade the dumb guards and even knocking out those who come close enough. This is even when the ward is being locked down. He manages to make his way to even take Alexis with him. With the tour cancelled, Max and Ibe take this chance to snoop around. Even they too can bested a few guards before being captured and they play dumb about getting lost. It’s amazing Ash could carry a heavy luggage (Alexis) especially this unbelievable scene whereby they were hanging on the edge of the elevator’s exterior. Ash manages to pull Alexis and himself up! Super genius, super handsome, super strong! So much for this hi-tech security facility because they escaped via garbage chute. The only non-secured place. Heh. Ash is about to make his escape when he sees Max and Ibe being escorted. Now he has to go back and save those old geezers! Why do old geezers have to slow him down?! Anyway, Ash manages to knock out the dumb guard to save them. And they have the cheek to say they came here to rescue him. The trio disguise themselves as a doctor (Max), nurse (Ash) and corpse (Ibe). A horny doctor tries to flirt with Ash and gets punched! Damn Ash looks so hot even as a woman! They steal an ambulance and make their final escape. Zakharev is frustrated Ash has escaped. He is not amused when Dino admonishes him for never being ready to handle this. When Zakharev threatens to make him pay, Dino shoots him. Dino built this project and nobody is going to take Ash but him. Ash learns that Eiji is missing. Looks like now he has to go find and save him even though he is worn out. Otherwise he cannot stop worrying.

Episode 17
Ash returns to his gang. Glad to see him alive. But once Ash finds out what Eiji told Sing, he gets mean with this Chinese dude to keep Shorter’s murder a secret. Eiji had to make him stop. A little bit of tension before the guys made up. Bromance hug? Sorry girls. No kissing. Dino is called by Yut Lung. He sees Hua Lung drugged like a zombie. Yut Lung has done his research on Dino’s Banana Fish project. It seems Yut Lung has carefully planned and killed one of the board members of the foundation. He can kill the rest of them so Dino gets back control of it. In return, he wants Dino to kill the rest of the Lee clan including their wives and children to stop their bloodline. Yut Lung further shows him a garden. He can tell Banana Fish is made out of some mutation of a plant’s alkaloid rather than being 100% pure chemical. Ash won’t even tell Eiji to go home because he knows he won’t listen. Plus, even if he does, he gets worried. So there’s your reason to begin a bromance? They hang out together and Ash does research on drugs and stuffs at the library to even come up with the deduction that Banana Fish isn’t purely all chemical synthesis. All the while, Ash could sense someone is watching him but cannot tell. Is his guts playing a prank on him? True enough, there is someone stealthier than a ninja observing him. He is Blanca, Dino’s retired (now coming out of retirement?) subordinate. Apparently he is here to decline Dino’s request but when he tested and saw how Ash’s Spider-senses was tingling, he is now curious to see how formidable he is. Blanca accepts the job. Ash shows his findings to Max and his colleague, Robert. They report Abraham’s condition. His brain’s neural pathways have been damaged but the doctors cannot determine if drugs did it. If only they could find a causal relationship. Hence Ash goes to prostitute himself by becoming Kippard’s f*ck boy. Damn this fatso is also into young kids! Was he so aroused that he couldn’t even recognize Ash? Too late when Ash reveals himself. The cops aren’t looking for him since he is officially dead. Ash wants Banana Fish but Kippard is willing to die than sell out his country. So much for patriotism when Ash shows him a scandalous photo of Kippard having sex. Probably it’s from Dino. Before Kippard could say anything, Kippard gets sniped between the eyes! Nice handy work from Blanca. Ash immediately hides and knows the sniper is a very professional one to take this shot from afar.

Episode 18
Ash is puzzled that Kippard’s death is not reported in the newspapers. His suspicions confirmed when he sees the news that Holstock just died in a car accident. This is no more than just a coincidence. Then he realizes the only person who could pull this off is Blanca (a book he left behind as clue). In fact, Blanca is staking out opposite the apartment and even showing Dino and Yut Lung Ash’s ‘hideout’. Ash tries to test waters as he stands in front of the window. When Eiji comes in, Blanca snipes at him but only gives flesh wound. Then a personal call from Blanca to confirm it is him as well as Yut Lung to confirm he hired Blanca for this job. Ash is to come for a negotiation. Otherwise Eiji dies. Hence we get one last bromance of Ash and Eiji as the latter invites him to Japan once this is over. And yeah, Ash’s protection of Eiji grows even more solid. When Ash arrives at the negotiation point, Yut Lung gives him a gun to shoot himself. Immediately Ash takes and does so! Everyone is shocked but of course the gun is empty. Even more shocking as Ash asks for a loaded gun! On to serious matters, Ash is to hand over all their data on Banana Fish as well as Abraham. Then he is to go back to Dino’s side. Do all this and Eiji will be safe. Damn, Ash agrees! Yut Lung is in shock he is willing to throw everything away for a boy. Hey, you say it, he do it. What’s the problem? But Ash has only a request and that is to fight Blanca. Can this guy go up against the man who trained him how to fight? Nah. We see Blanca moving like a butterfly and Ash like a baby! Blanca privately talks to Ash and thought he had gotten over his past. He wants Ash to give up Eiji and return to Dino where he will have everything (I thought Dino said he will make him suffer like a prostitute?!). When Dino had Blanca taught Ash how to fight, he was reluctant to do so but realized it gave him a place in the world. He doesn’t want to lose him and ruin himself. Ash will not go back to everything that is fake. Better to be alone than with fakes. At least he is happy with 1 guy who cares about him. Ash’s plea is for Blanca not to hurt Eiji. No can do. He will do the job he is entrusted. So Ash returns to take Abraham, leaves some cryptic message to Ibe like it’s his last goodbye. Then he holds up Max and Meredith to get the data before giving it all to Yut Lung. Yeah, Ash looks so dead now…

Episode 19
Yut Lung wants Blanca to work for him now that his contract with Dino is over. Blanca refuses citing he is retired. Yut Lung won’t give up yet because he is obsessed in killing Eiji. Eiji sees Sing so he could take him to Yut Lung whom he believes knows where Ash is. Yut Lung tells everything and blames him for all this. So please kill yourself. But Eiji is done blaming himself and if he is going to kill to protect Ash, he’ll do it. We see Ash in some ruthless high level talks to use Banana Fish in Kafghanistan and the Maliban (?!) just to show the world America’s might even if it means abandoning their troops. Ash might sound deadly but behind the scenes he dreads doing this. This isn’t the prostitution thingy he signed up for. Well, he isn’t selling his body but his soul. So in some sort of protest, he refuses to eat and this takes a toll on his body. Sing tells his gang that Dino is going to hold a party to celebrate the recent victory of the courts dropping his tax evasion charges. They are going to use this opportunity to sneak in and save Ash. Yut Lung interrupts Blanca’s flirting with the maid. He mentions Blanca’s real name and his shady past as some elite force in Kazakhstan as well as his dead wife. Dino tells Ash about the big announcement at the party that he will make Ash his successor and son. However Ash cannot stop laughing and mocks people like him only sees him as some sex toy and dirty toilet. Is this what the American dream is? Dino beats him up only to be stopped by the doctors. He is going to teach Ash everything and make him his chaste wife. When Blanca and Sing visit Yut Lung, they apprehended an assassin who failed to kill Yut Lung. He poisoned himself. Luckily Yut Lung got a flesh wound. It seems Blanca is here to agree to his deal to be his bodyguard although the only condition is to protect him. Blanca then reports to Dino that he has made a contract with Yut Lung because he knows his past. Eiji and Sing begin planning their party ambush. The more the better because Cain’s side joins in.

Episode 20
At the party, Ash is temporarily blinded so he can’t see well. Sing’s side crashes in to cause panic. Eiji then points his gun at Dino. Ash recognizes his voice and is stunned he is doing something this reckless. Dino takes Ash hostage to see if he dares shoot. Well, Eiji shoots but only gets Dino’s shoulder. He missed at this range?! At least enough for them to take Ash and run. I can’t believe Ash can still be a sharpshooter at this point. It’s fine if he can even shoot with his eyes close but with all those noises? While the men keep looking for them above ground, they are actually hiding in an abandoned underground station. But when Ash realizes that everyone has gathered here, he orders all to get out because the sewers are like a maze. True enough, their pursuers come chasing them and trying to corner them like a rat. Eiji tries to be the bait to get Ash out. Cain knocks Ash out to bring him back to his base but Ash won’t be grounded. Hence Ash is spotted trying to take refuge in the museum. Yeah, museum has bad security. Heck, none at all. Yut Lung decides to catch him without Dino’s help. He gets to see how formidable Ash is when he snipes at his men. Unheeding Blanca’s advice to stay put and play the waiting game (because Yut Lung wants to catch him first), he sends some of his men inside and they got panicked by the darkness as Ash slaughters them all. Blanca knows this is Ash’s plan to draw himself attention as this means Eiji is still underground. Too bad he has just been caught. With Cain and his men driving by to do some chaos, Ash takes this chance to take Yut Lung hostage. Bad timing as Eiji and co are also brought here. Ash wants him to bring the hostages in if he is ready for negotiations. Eiji and all his men for Yut Lung. Blanca agrees to his terms and when both sides are exchanged, Ash and Blanca take pot shots at each other. In the aftermath, Yut Lung is shaken and Dino heard about what happened. It’s his turn to take charge of hunting down Ash.

Episode 21
Sing limps back in and he is very worried about his men being taken hostage by Yut Lung. He wants to go rescue them or they’ll be killed. It’s time for Ash to work his magic again. Once they find where they are being held, they bust in. Everything ended so easily that Ash feels something is off. Why were they held in an obvious place? If they were important hostages, why were there so few guards? This is all part of Dino’s plan as he shows Edward L. Fox the fruits of his labour of raising his ‘son’. Ash and Max reunite for the first time since the former’s ‘death’. Max needs his help to infiltrate a gay club run by Frank Zareb AKA Frog. He used to round up boys for Dino. While Dino doesn’t use pictures to blackmail his clients and only serves as insurance, Frog does otherwise. Ash is forced to rekindled unwanted memories of Frog and his men taking dirty pictures of him as a kid. Ash is tempted to kill him but with Max stopping him, they only get the pictures of victims. Ash wants Max to use his photos only since he is dead but Max just burns everything. Frog is later killed by Fox. When Cain’s men start getting killed, they thought it was Dino’s men. But Ash felt something strange about the way they attack and weapons they used. Some research and info digging reveal they are former elite soldiers who served in many missions and are officially dead. Their regiment leader is Fox. People like them love war because it allows you to legally kill. With Max and Robert targeted, Ash advises to put some guard for their family. Better still, Jessica joins in! So it’s safer to leave their son with some other relative? When Eiji asks Ash of putting himself in the enemy’s shoes, Ash starts to realize their viewpoint. The killings are to stir up the chain of command and see how the leaders act. True enough, they spot the soldiers taking formation outside their hideout. Ash has everyone divided into several groups and plan their several diversions and exits. They are to meet at the pier in 48 hours. The battle begins. Ash does what he does best at surviving. However that may be cut short because Fox has got Max and his side captured. They use them to lure Ash out in which Ash shows himself.

Episode 22
While Max and the captured are taken elsewhere, Fox interrogates Ash. It seems Fox wants Ash to join him and they can rule the world via the foundation. Of course Ash laughs at this and vows never to submit. So Fox’s idea is to rape him?! Why are all the old men so gay here???!!! Saved by the call from Dino. Because as Fox goes to answer it, his men continue to abuse Ash. Fox’s carelessly threw his unextinguished cigarette butt means Ash used it to burn the ropes and kill those men! With Eiji and co charging in, Fox and his men escape. Ash is shaken from all this but a hug from Eiji calms him down. Lao Yen Tai, Sing’s right hand man argues with him about being submissive to Ash. He will not accept this. Also, he is secretly working with Yut Lung and although he wants out, he is forced to continue because this is the only way he could protect Sing who is also his half-brother. Max and his men interrogate Max for the important data but he remains stubborn knowing he will at least be kept alive as bait to lure Ash. Ash and Jessica manage to get that data Max stored safely in the vault. Jessica goes through it and sees the incredible data that would turn the White House upside down. Some of Lao’s men want to kill Ash and Yut Lung gives them the green light although he knows they can’t but at least they may kill Eiji. Blanca against Yut Lung’s orders goes out to find Eiji because that Japanese boy must not be allowed to die. Another moment of bromance between Ash and Eiji. Yeah, they’re talking how they would love to experience the other’s lives. I guess we got some free time that Eiji teaches him some basic Japanese. Was the bromance too good that they didn’t notice Lao’s men entering to shoot?! If not for Eiji’s quick reflex, Ash would have been gone. But Eiji gets some lead in his guts. This turns Ash into a monster as he guns them down mercilessly and continues to do so even when they’re dead! Eiji is glad Ash is safe before losing consciousness. There, you wanted to trade places. Now you got it. Having fun?

Episode 23
Eiji is taken to hospital and a frantic Ash wants to go with him, only to be stopped by Blanca. Ash is still stubborn but is told that by doing so, they will only link Eiji’s relationship to him and make him a criminal. Frustrated Ash calms down but he has no time to rest. He summons everyone for a rescue mission. Before that, Sing apologizes for his men’s betrayal and will take responsibility. This means a one on one fight with Ash after this is settled. Lao cannot accept this and runs his mouth. Sing punches him and that’s it for Lao. He calls it quits. Ash agrees to Sing’s demands seeing he had that determined death in his eyes. But inside Ash is breaking as he keeps worrying about Eiji. Since when is he religious and praying to God to take him instead of Eiji? Blanca returns to Yut Lung and is forced to listen to his tragic story. His father was the most powerful man for overseas Chinese. His mom, a poor street vendor became his mistress when she was just 10. He was 65 then. When Yut Lung was 6, father suddenly died. Yut Lung is forced to watch his brothers rape and kill his mother. Thus Yut Lung believes he has the right to hate. And so like Ash, they are just demons underneath a beautiful face. He wants to tell him that he cannot be saved. Not by something so fragile.

Blanca resigns from Yut Lung’s employment. Now it’s his turn to tell his story. During his time in his elite force, he lacked emotions until he met his wife, Natasha. The government opposed their marriage but it was the first time he defied them. When he was away on a Crimean mission, she was killed. A terrorist group claimed their doing but who knows it could be the government. That is why Blanca opposes Yut Lung from taking Eiji from Ash. He learnt to hate but not to love. One cannot be loved unless you love. At least Ash knows this. I guess resignation accepted. Just go to your freaking Ash. And so Blanca did and have him hire him as his ‘driver’. But before they head to the mental institution, Blanca takes him to the hospital to see Eiji one last time. Because cops come to check on him every midnight, he must make it quick. Ash sneaks in and is sad to see Eiji sleeping. He says goodbye but Eiji could recognize that voice and musters enough strength to wake and tell Eiji to go. What a teary goodbye. Outside the mental institution, Ash tells Blanca his plan. He collaborated with Jessica to leak data on Banana Fish to the media (because either way, he knows the hostages will be killed). Because of that, Dino is now forced to suspend activities as he goes into damage control mode. Dino orders Fox to guard the place and kill all the hostages and send it back to Ash. As Dino and his entourage leave, they are ambushed by Ash’s men. Dino is taken hostage by Ash. Fox sees this and tells Mannerheim to give all the research data and drug samples to him. Ash takes Dino back to the institute as a bargaining chip for the hostages’ release. But Fox confronts him and gives his answer: He shoots Dino!

Episode 24
Fox orders his men to plant bombs all over the facility before they make their getaway. However Ash manages to escape despite being anaesthetized. Fox orders the lockdown of the facility but looks like somebody overwrite it. Dino?! Oh Fox, you failed in your mercenary teaching to always make sure somebody is dead. Jenkins and Charlie see Eiji in hospital. They say that thanks to Max’s evidence, an official investigation on Club Cod will begin. Ash will not be charged as he is the victim and they’re here to hear his side of his story. Too bad Eiji doesn’t know where he is. Cain’s men are in a gunfight with the elites to rescue their comrades. But it is Jessica who is badass, diving in and making her shots count. Like wow WTF?! Only in American where divorced couples can find romance in danger and want to remarry again. Good for you, Max. Sing neutralizes a few guards escorting Mannerheim. The doctor runs off by himself and is unfortunate to become Ash’s hostage. However he is shot and killed by Fox. I thought this guy wanted to tame Ash because he sends a helicopter unit to fire like hell! Is he that confident Ash won’t die from this?! Thanks to Blanca being a great sniper, Ash can have his one on one fight with Fox. Fox stabs his shoulder but Ash conveniently grabs a power tool and drills into him. Because one of the dying elites set of the bombs early, this blows Sing off. Ash has to rush to save him and tells him to just drop the Banana Fish samples. Hollywood cliché but Ash making this mistake of not making sure his enemy is dead? Yeah, Fox tells him to drop the kid or else. It’s Ash’s lucky day as Dino shoots Fox in the head. I guess Dino knows everything is over for him. So he just falls into the sea of fire. Sing doesn’t understand why Ash saved him. Had they kill each other, somebody else would have profited from it. Let’s just end everything right here.

Next day, the White House issues an official apology in light of government officials buying young boys as sex toys. Sing confronts Yut Lung and pulls a gun on him. Yut Lung accepts his fate but Sing won’t kill him despite ranting how he trusted him not to betray their Chinese brothers by teaming up with Dino. He was just jealous of Ash being able to open up to Eiji. It’s time to move on. Things in Chinatown have gone so out of control that it isn’t safe anymore. He hopes they can bring order back. Ash sees Blanca who will leave for the Caribbean tomorrow. Ash is okay in not seeing Eiji off. He always knew he was always trouble to him but couldn’t accept it. He describes Eiji as a warm person, a kind and honest person who completes him. He considers him his friend and if they never meet again, at least he could think about him. When Sing visits Eiji, he realizes Ash hasn’t visited him. Eiji gives him a letter for Ash. But where to find him? He is sure he is at the library. Sing is mad that Ash didn’t see Eiji one last time. Ash doesn’t want to get him involved again. Sing is willing to be his messenger but no words from Ash. The usual gang see off Ibe and Eiji. The latter finds it sad that Ash didn’t come but at least his gang members are here. Sing lies to put Eiji at ease by telling Ash wishes him well. Ash reads the letter. It writes of the different worlds they live in. But he is glad to have come to America because he met him. He never felt scared of him the first time but rather he felt he was hurt. He has always thought of wanting to protect Ash from that loneliness he is drifting towards to. At this point I guess it made Ash want to rush to the airport but Lao stabs him! Instant karma as Ash shoots him dead. Ash returns to the library and ‘sleeps’. Finally he can ‘sleep’ with a smile. The last lines of the letter reads Eiji’s will always be with him and although he says goodbye to America, he won’t say goodbye to him yet. He believes they will meet again. The greatest friend he ever has. :’(.

Gangstas Of New York
Damn, that ending sure hit hard and it was a very bitter pill to swallow. Despite so, it was really a bittersweet ending. Ash and Eiji didn’t get their final bromance together and although I was really sad that Ash died in the end, it was the only way left for him. After all, he has already achieved what needed to be done and unless he wanted to go back to his thug life, I think in a way that would make Eiji sad. Therefore Ash’s fate has finally come full circle. You live by the sword, you die by the sword. The irony of Ash surviving so many near fatal wounds and this is how he goes out? It is sometimes the most least expected thing that kills you. And for Ash, that is when he let his guard down thinking about Eiji. It’s also sad to think that Eiji left with a wrong impression of Ash’s fate but it’s better for him to return to Japan with a positive thinking. Not much good will be done if Eiji goes back home crying and broken hearted. Maybe he’ll learn about that much later when the news reaches him. Hopefully he will be ready. And even if the tragic fate that the greatest bromance brothers friends can never see each other again, it is good to know that they will always be each other’s best friends, heart and soul.

The plot and pacing of the story are surprisingly interesting. Overall, I could say that there was never a dull moment while watching this. Sure, there are moments when it is slow and the showcasing of the bromance between Ash and Eiji that serves more for building the bond between them rather than some cheap yaoi stuff everyone else thought it was going to happen. From the discovery to the hallucinatory drug of Banana Fish to Ash fighting against Dino and his organization, the ultimate path of this story is Ash trying to find salvation and freedom in his tragic and fragile life. Seeing him going through that journey was an amazing ride thanks to good execution of the story.

At first it keeps us intrigues as to what Banana Fish is in the first place. But once it is revealed what it truly is, the story didn’t lose its momentum as it shifts to the struggles of Ash and Eiji and what they must do next. Hence the title of this series may ironically be prominent in the first half of the series and become some sort of an extra thrown into the back burner of our minds in the second half, but with other developments and potentials keeping our minds preoccupied, this super drug would be the least of our problems when so many other factors come into play.

Ash as the central character is one whom viewers will mainly root for. His character is given ample and a lot of screen time to develop and flesh out properly. At first Ash might look like an overpowered character (but without any super powers) because of his sharpshooting and very keen observation. Besides his good looks, he is also very intelligent and knowledgeable in just about everything. Not forgetting his personality that can range from being suave and charming to tough and determined gang leader. Everything about him is almost oh so perfect save for his tainted past. When you discover the atrocities that Ash had to go through since young and the need to survive, it makes all his ‘overpowered moves’ to seem more justifiable. That is why in a way Ash is a lot relatable to us than other fictional characters with superhuman powers. The struggles of an exploited young soul and the decisions he is forced to take to survive in this dog eat dog world all rings too familiar in this sad reality of ours. Too bad a lot of us aren’t as hot as him :)… :’(.

Ash always looks strong on the outside but inside he is fragile and breaking down and this shows the human side of him because those who don’t know him would have automatically labelled him as a monster. Many of us could relate this kind of character to somebody we know. Like our mothers. Always being the scary drill sergeant but deep down just a caring delicate soul. This double face is perhaps the best way for Ash to survive. The only way he could be a leader to his men, a post he never wanted to have and stuck with forever.

Eiji is not as prominent as Ash but he is both the glue and hammer that holds him together while at the same time that frees him from his shackles. Ironically he is also Ash’s strength and weakness. Hence many of the situations that they are caught in danger with can be attributed to Eiji. It is that dilemma situation of because of Eiji was there, it happened. And also because Eiji was there, things got to work out the way it should. Hence Eiji is truly a catch-22 situation for Ash. But I believe that Eiji’s presence has brought a lot more good to Ash than bad. Ash wouldn’t have been able to fight against the oppressed had not Eiji come into his life. Yes, they faced many dangers along the way but that is only expected when one is defying the norm and fighting for your own freedom.

On the same tragic side with Ash but on the opposite end of the polar is Yut Lung. Unlike Ash who seeks salvation, Yut Lung takes the path of destruction. It might be his way to fight from the shadows because his specialty is poisons, he doesn’t go head to head with Ash. Hence it might seem cowardly that he tries to target Eiji to get to Ash. Unfortunately for Yut Lung, Ash always manages to step a few steps ahead of him. That is why Ash is more successful than him in terms of survival. Not to say that Yut Lung isn’t a survivalist but since he inherited his wealth from the Lee clan, he thinks money gives him the power to control. It is true that Yut Lung too has a tragic tale of his own but he isn’t the only one. Hence he has this shallow thinking of what demons like them should act and do. That is why many of Ash’s actions take him by surprise like the time Ash didn’t hesitate to shoot himself when Yut Lung told him to despite the gun is not loaded. Ash was prepared to do what it takes in what he believes in. Can Yut Lung match that determination? That’s why Ash could ‘progress’.

Dino as the main antagonist is also a formidable one instead of some old fart who has power, money and influence and a taste for young boys. Sometimes I thought it was silly when both Ash and Dino were so close to finish each other off, they decide to put it on hold because it is not their ideal way of killing the other. Back to waiting for that other perfect chance. It might sound silly but I looked at it from another perspective. Dino had poured in so much effort to raise his ‘best son’ and he surely had doubts of just killing him like that. Even if Ash is already hell bent on going against him, Dino had all the power and resources to just end Ash’s life like that. But he couldn’t. Because of all the effort put in, he needs to get that ‘satisfaction’ and squeezing him to the last drop before Ash kicks the bucket. And I believe it’s the same for Ash. Not that he has hopes for Dino turning over a new leaf.

Even if Ash ends this quickly by killing Dino, he would not have the chance to expose his secret heinous experiments and thus the vicious cycle goes on. Bringing Dino himself down might be just short term and wouldn’t do anything good. That is why Ash went to great lengths to bring down his organization so that a repeat of creating future monsters will not happen. Otherwise with Dino just gone, another monster would just step in to replace him. Thus the vicious cycle repeating once more. That might happen seeing Dino too met his fate. Glad it wasn’t the aptly named scheming Fox too. Imagine trained elite forces getting owned by street gangs. All that greed for money and power must have really brought their downfall, huh?

I have not much to comment on the other characters but they do play their minor role albeit not much. Like Sing who feels pretty much underused and looks the part because he was thrusted as the Chinese’s leader in a short notice after Shorter’s death. It is to an extent true what Lao said about him becoming Ash’s dog but remember, he was the only one who saw how fearsome Ash could be. You really don’t want to make enemies out of this guy. Literally, Ash could have been America’s representation for shooting at the Olympics. He never misses. Never. Ever. Then there is Blanca who also looks like another overpowered character. Because if Ash who already looks overpowered and cannot best his mentor, what does this say? But instead of being the ruthless mercenary he once was, Blanca plays the voice of reasoning especially to Ash when his head gets clouded each time Eiji is unwittingly involved. Hence somebody like Blanca prevents Ash from making an irreversible mistake that would have ended their bromance a little too sooner.

Max and Ibe feel almost irrelevant in the second half. Though Max did do a few things to help out Ash, Ibe overall feels more like an excess baggage. He is just a setting for a reason why Eiji came to America. Call him a poor guardian because he reluctantly lets Eiji run all over the place but if Eiji is being this stubborn determined to save Ash, what else can he do? It must be one of those longest trips to America for a Japanese. Until Eiji resolves this matter with Ash, looks like they’re looking for an extended stay in America. Remember to extend the visas again. I never had hope for Jenkins and Charlie to be useful cops. Being on Ash’s side doesn’t make their character any good because they look more like useless cops and totally absent in the second half of the series.

There are many social issues tackled by this series that rings so much closer to home and reality because it is still prevalent today. Especially child trafficking, child pornography and drugs. It feels like as long humans exist, these will never end and will carry on forever. Because as long as there are corrupt politicians and the widening gap between the rich and poor, you bet that the latter will definitely be exploited. Money makes the world go round. Everyone has their dark secrets. Too bad a lot of old ugly men here are portrayed as paedophiles. And politics of course. What a dirty word that is today. In the case of street gangs, I guess it is for the sake of this series’ plot that white boys, black guys and the Chinese all come together to fight against the common oppressor. Where are the Latinos, dude?! Internal gang struggles don’t seem to play a big issue with Ash being such a badass that he should’ve been a politician and change the whole political system upside down. Not that I think Ash cares about America as a whole either.

You can’t have gangs and organized crimes without some sort of action. So to say the least, they are entertaining and also satisfying to see Ash gunning down his enemies although sometimes it can get a bit unrealistic because he goes on and on, wave after wave like as though his invincibility AKA God mode and unlimited ammo cheat code have been activated. Although there are lots of blood and deaths here, it is not as gory compared to say, Shingeki No Kyojin. It’s pretty mild to say the least. But this series isn’t shy in killing a lot of characters off. As shockingly early and young as Skip to the typical cliché of villains like Dino and Fox eventually meeting their demise at the end. Some I never expected such as Shorter (not at least on a short notice) and some receiving their just desserts (somehow I just really wanted Abraham and Kippard to just f*cking die). Sorry, no double lovers’ suicide for you fujoshi fans out there.

The art and animation don’t feel like your typical conventional Japanese anime. It is more realistic compared to those sparkling wide eyed anime characters. Sometimes it feels like an American production doing a joint venture with the Japanese to produce this ‘cartoon’. I would also like to give points for the detail of the background since there are details being given attention to that makes you feel that the setting is really in America rather than a Japanese version of what they think of America is like. Of course it is not exactly a masterpiece since there are some scenes that are considered low quality. At least during scenes when they focus on the drama in front and not wanting our eyes to wander to the backdrop behind. To say the least, at least the animation is fluid during scenes that matter. This anime is done by MAPPA who did Shingeki No Bahamut series, Kakegurui, Zombie Land Saga and Yuri On Ice.

Voice acting I only recognized Jun Fukuyama as Yut Lung and a very meek Rie Kugimiya making her short-lived cameo as Jennifer. I thought Max sounded so familiar and it took me a while that this is the voice of Sanji of One Piece (Hiroaki Hirata). Initially I was mistaken to think that Tomokazu Sugita was behind Arthur’s voice but it turned out to be Yoshimasa Hosoya (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin). Same case of mistaken identity to think that Sho Hayami was behind Blanca’s voice although it did sound a little off. It was Toshiyuki Morikawa instead (Julius in Black Clover). My condolences to Unshou Ishizuka as Dino because he passed away in August 2018 from esophageal cancer. Since Banana Fish ran its cour in the second half of 2018, I wonder if he recorded all his lines before succumbing. I thought they would be replacing him with a new voice (like how it was done in Tada-kun Wa Koi Wo Shinai). I may be mistaken because I have this perception that seiyuus lend their talents a week before the episode airs or at least do a few episodes worth of lines to save time. Otherwise how do you think long running shows like One Piece can go on forever? But I suppose it is easier for shows with 1 or 2 cours seeing that the script has been laid out and fixed assuming there are no unforeseen surprises.

Kudos to Yuuma Uchida (Edogai in Golden Kamuy) in bringing out the life and various moods in Ash that it makes his character really sound convincing. I want to say the same for Kenji Nojima as Eiji (Yuuto in High School DxD) but he sounds very gay and weak most of the time. Really. The other casts are Shouyo Chiba as Sing (Koutarou in Tsuki Ga Kirei), Kenyu Horiuchi as Fox (Kinemon in Once Piece), Kenta Miyake as Blood (All Might in Boku No Hero Academia), Rica Fukami as Jessica (Sailor Venus in Sailormoon), Yasumichi Kushida as Kippard, Takashi Nagasako as Meredith (Gale in Soul Link), Makoto Furukawa as Shorter (Banri in Golden Time), Shinji Kawada as Ibe (Shino in Naruto), Souma Saitou as Lao (Utsumi in SSSS.Gridman), Yuu Hayashi as Abraham (Michizou Tachihara in Bungo Stray Dogs), Hidenari Ugaki as Alexis, Shuuhei Sakaguchi as Hua Lung (Kawachi in Yakitate! Japan) and Hisao Egawa as Wang Lung (Saigou in Gintama).

The opening and ending themes have this feel like they are songs from America bands. I know the world has integrated so much into a melting pot that it’s hard to tell but my first impression in hearing these songs is that they aren’t your typical Japanese anime pop or rock. The first opening theme, Found & Lost by Survive Said The Prophet is a total hard punk rock piece with all that typical insane screaming vocals. Hearing this song somewhat reminds me of Linkin Park. Or at least this is the kind of song that the American rock band would sing. The second opening theme, Freedom by Blue Encount is also a rock outfit but it feels a lot more toned down than the first one. The first ending theme, Prayer X by King Gnu has some hip hop elements in it although it is more of a slow one. It sounds fitting when you think about the state of Ash’s mind. Honestly, I prefer this one compared to the second ending theme, Red by Survive Said The Prophet. Though this slow rock is also fitting in terms of Ash’s state of mind, but hearing this piece sometimes make me feel I’m listening to some cult song because of that weird chorus vocals. And some of the lines sound weird too.

Overall, this is one of those animes that shouldn’t be judged by its promotional poster and synopsis. AKA the age old adage of don’t judge a book by its cover. It is surprisingly interesting and entertaining despite many of its unsavoury themes like drugs and child pornography. The bromance between the 2 main characters might look like clickbait for some yaoi moments but it is a good thing that those remain as delusions in our heads (except for that prison kiss that would most likely be the most yaoi you’ll ever see). It’s not a gay story (thank goodness) but a story of 2 guys rather. A story of revenge and redemption amidst the corruption and politics. If you like animes with an interesting story, tragedy and badass stuffs, don’t brush this one aside. After all, bananas and fish are good for you because they are filled with potassium and omega-3 acid respectively. Better this than drugs. And remember people, don’t do drugs.

Mahou Shoujo Site

August 12, 2018

What’s this?! Another dark battle royale magical girl series? So, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica + Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku + a little punch of Jigoku Shoujo = Mahou Shoujo Site! Fukou da ne… Well, if the plot of magical girls fighting each other doesn’t sound too original, please bear in mind that this series was written during the height of the popularity of Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. I guess now it has only been given its anime treatment. Better late than never? Bored of all the sparkling goodness and clichés in typical magical girl series? I guess we can’t get enough of magical girls killing each other. Hontou ni fukou da ne…

Episode 1
Aya Asagiri tries to kill herself at the railroad crossing. She couldn’t. Every day she thinks of dying. But I don’t think everyone else cares either. At school, she is bullied by a group of girls led by Sarina Shizukume. Heck, even the teacher and other classmates don’t care and turn a blind eye. Toilet break isn’t exactly fun for Asagiri too. Yup, more torture. Her only reprieve is a stray kitten by the bridge. Heck, kitty gets better treatment from Asagiri. Wanna bet the bullies find out about this? It is no different back home. The focus is on her brother, Kaname. Her parents praise him for his grades and intellect. But behind his gentle demeanour, Kaname abuses Asagiri! He ties her up and punches her guts! This is to let off steam for living up to their parents’ expectations. He blames her for that and at least be useful as a stress reliever. That night, a strange Magical Girl Site pops up. It offers magic to her but she shuts it down seeing how creepy everything is. Next morning on her way to school, more misery is added when she sees a certain kitten killed at the tracks. Asagiri is surprised to see a weird gun in her locker. Then more abuse by Shizukume and her groupies. Yeah, they’re so bored of it that Erika Kajima calls her senpai, Shouta Arai to rape her. Asagiri runs away but is caught. Moments before being raped, Erika reveals she killed the kitten. This makes Asagiri mad as she whips out the gun and fires. They disappear. But later it is discovered their bodies have been found near the tracks. Asagiri is fearful that she might have killed them and will be arrested. She tries to find the site again but error 404. With Asagiri ignoring Kaname, looks like his stress is pent up and can’t concentrate on his studies?! Shizukume confronts Asagiri and demands what she did. Asagiri maintains her innocence but she doesn’t believe it. She is going to scar her face when suddenly time stops. Fellow classmate, Tsuyuno Yatsumura comes to her rescue. She claims she is a magical girl and so is Asagiri after receiving a ‘magical stick’. Yatsumura positions Shizukume to slice her own neck. She will tell Asagiri all about Magical Girl Site as she needs her.

Episode 2
Yatsumura further explains her magical stick stops time and Asagiri is able to move because she added her name to a list of exceptions. Asagiri’s power is instant teleportation and she witnessed that ‘murder’ thingy. Yatsumura believes it is their destiny as magical girls to weed out bad people so she shouldn’t feel bad about it. Of course Yatsumura didn’t make Shizukume kill herself but enough to put her in critical condition. Back at her room, Yatsumura explains more about the mysteries. The site owner is unknown but it seems if you accept the magical stick, you are bound to the site rules. Also a note of caution not to use the power so much because it drains your life. There’s an indicator on the arm. Once it runs out, you die. Yatsumura is also here to warn her that there are other magical girls out there. She once worked with a fellow magical girl, Rina Shioi who would gather information on other magical girls. Suddenly someone is killing magical girls and taking their magical stick. They started investigating her and dub her Magical Hunter. Suddenly Shioi disappeared. Her body was never found but before she disappeared, she sent her a picture of what Hunter looked like. Creepy mad as hell. Yatsumura hopes they can cooperate and catch Hunter. As proof, she will protect her tonight. This means no S&M torture from Kaname. Safe. One day after school, Asagiri is stopped by a busty girl. Before she knows it, she is trapped in a magical barrier. Too late for Yatsumura to activate her time stopping magic. This girl is of course Hunter but she looks different. She used another magical stick to alter her appearance. Hunter wants to kill her and all Asagiri could think of not using her stick to get back at her is because she doesn’t want to kill her? With assurance from Yatsumura she won’t, Asagiri fires. It is believed wherever the victim is teleported is based on Asagiri’s will. They catch Hunter and interrogate her. Yatsumura knows she is Shioi as she is reacted to the Hunter moniker when nobody else uses it. Shioi reveals she went around killing others to get her stick as well. The more the better to survive when Tempest arrives. Before she faked her disappearance, she met the site’s admin. She was told the arrival of Tempest on a certain date would bring an end to this world and create a new one. Before she could reveal the important juicy parts, she starts coughing blood. Is this the doing of some magical girl too?

Episode 3
Keisuke Naoto is an obsessed fan of Nijimi Anazawa who is part of a famous idol doggy group. Shioi is in comatose state and the doctor is unsure if she will wake up. Yatsumura believes using too many powers at once caused her to fall into this state. This has them think about why they were chose to be magical girls and Asagiri to ask about Yatsumura’s past. She won’t say but snippets show she found her parents dead. Asagiri has this idea that one of the magical stick may be able to fix Shioi’s condition. As they go through the list. They see a familiar face. Isn’t that Nijimi? Asagiri has this idea to attend her handshake event. When it is their turn, Yatsumura will stop time and then Asagiri will teleport them to a different area. Not sure why they even need to meet her. Couldn’t they just freeze time and teleport? Nijimi is very excited to see other magical girls. After explaining their purpose, before they could ask her magical stick’s ability, she is whisked away by her managers to be brought back to her fans. She gives them an appointed time and place to meet. In her apartment, they see her zombie fans as slaves. She reveals her power to mind control others. Her magical stick? Magical pantsu???!!! Yatsumura knows her power is dangerous and useful, hence the need to get her on their side. When asks if she knows other magical girls, Nijimi becomes upset. Mikado was a magical and best friend until she got killed by Shioi. That’s why if she sees that b*tch, she’ll kill her!!! Scary. Nijimi also reveals she hides the indicators with concealers and she bleeds ‘somewhere else’. The duo leave but not after Nijimi uses her power to exchange contacts. Shizukume is vengeful to make Asagiri pay. Conveniently she is a few doors away from Shioi’s room and she sees Asagiri coming out from there. Possible heard a few important lines in their conversation for future plot purposes. She enters the room and is shocked to see the site admin who is sad that Shioi is disqualified. Aha. A replacement… Kaname must have had it for straight nights without abusing his sister. So he secretly checks her computer and finds frequent visits to the Magical Girl Site. Still error 404, though.

Episode 4
Nana, the site admin invites Shizukume to become a magical girl for revenge. She reveals it was the duo who caused the death of her friend as well as the hideous scar on her neck. She wants Shizukume to succeed Shioi as Hunter and collect magical sticks. She gives her a yoyo as her magical stick. With that, Shizukume can access the site and see the countdown to Tempest. Oh, her yoyo slices things like hot knife through butter. Asagiri reveals her bullied past to Yatsumura. As a transfer student, she is often weak and shy. Shizukume did help her out in several moments but Asagiri continued to remain so. Hence the whole bullying started just because she didn’t say a simple thank you? Sick. Yatsumura tells her to stop blaming herself and be strong. She is not as weak or worthless as she thinks. When Yatsumura returns home, she coughs blood and collapses. Meanwhile Kaname’s grades are slipping to a point dad becomes mad and beats him up! In the streets while other girls swoon over him, in his mind they are nothing but scums. At the convenience store, he buys a drink but Naoto the cashier suddenly goes into shock. News of Nijimi’s sudden retirement. This makes Kaname mad as this is the epitome of the worst kind of scum, validating their lives through others. Asagiri feels good today. The bullying stopped ever since she came into her life. Jumping the gun too fast. Because Shizukume is back! Oh no. Yatsumura is absent and what’s this? Nijimi is a new transfer student in her class?! Oh sh*t. She’s waving at Asagiri. Later as they talk, Nijimi says she retired from showbiz to concentrate on finding Mikado’s killer. That is more important than disappointing her fans. Yup, she still wants to kill her badly. Oh sh*t. Shizukume conveniently eavesdrops this and later confronts Nijimi to mock about her revenge plan. Then she shows a picture of Shioi. You looking for this girl? Asagiri visits Yatsumura’s place. No answer. Door unlock. She is shocked to see Yatsumura collapsed. She is still conscious and attributes this to overusing her power. She forbids her from calling the ambulance in fear of anybody finding out this strange guy chained in her room. He is the reason she became a magical girl. Flashback shows this guy snuck into her home and killed her family but left her alive so he would return to see a prettier grown up Yatsumura. She has been living in fear of him since and one day she discovered the Magical Girl Site and obtained the power. Revenge was all she had to live for.

Episode 5
Asagiri cries for her and promises she won’t be alone. Heart breaking moment with Shizukume coming in to mock them. She also tells them about letting Nijimi know about Shioi. Shizukume begins to cut them up but luckily they’re not stupid to stay where they are. Too bad Yatsumura’s killer got split in half. There goes her revenge. Yatsumura still has a trump card. Nijimi calls Shizukume to complain she can’t kill Shioi because there is a magical barrier protecting her. Yatsumura used several magical sticks to activate multiple powers at once. But this causes to Yatsumura to pass out from exhaustion. Shizukume tries to kill Asagiri but it looks like she wrecked the entire room instead. Asagiri takes over using the magical stick to erect a protection barrier. With her bent on protecting Yatsumura as her only friend, Shizukume calls her a hypocrite for killing Erika and Shouta. This time Asagiri won’t be cowed by her words. She blames Shizukume for all the bullying and never knew the hell she has been through. The feeling of wanting to die every day but couldn’t because was too scared. The place starts crumbling and before the ceiling could crush Shizukume, Asagiri fires her gun to teleport her back to school. Shizukume may be conflicted about her enemy saving her but she still won’t back down because of this and has something important to do to survive Tempest. Casualties are high as rescue teams work all night to pull out survivors. They are shocked to see a barrier protecting Asagiri and Yatsumura. Not sure how they got them out of it as they are wheeled into ICU. Asagiri’s parents are there. They are assured she is in stable condition but looks like Yatsumura is going into cardiac arrest. Nijimi is left frustrated why she couldn’t kill Shioi. If Shizukume kept her word but as though somebody else knows about her wanting to kill her and is trying to protect her. Then she connects the dots. It’s those ‘friends’. Anger level just went up another notch. Kaname is ‘worried’ about Asagiri. I mean, if she dies who else is going to be his punching bag, right? Nijimi is at the door and wonders if Asagiri is in. Damn those killer eyes… Meanwhile eye-patch girl walks into Shioi’s room and prepares to kill her.

Episode 6
Naoto follows Nijimi to Asagiri’s place and is devastated to see her coming into contact with Kaname. But what’s this? Nijimi suddenly falling in love with him?! Is this real or deception? Although on the outside we see them nice and good to each other, deep down in their heart they show us their true colour. Well, both have a bone to pick with Asagiri. Kaname decides to use her in his plan because with this ‘blessing’, he now has a reason to see Nijimi again. Kosame Amagai slits her own wrist and lets Shioi drink her blood. Shioi instantly wakes up. Being a bit pushy for answers, Kosame starts cowering in fear but after taking her medications, she calms down. Kosame reveals she is also a magical girl and her power is healing to those who drink her blood. Since she loves to inflict self-harm, cutting herself is no problem. Yatsumura and Asagiri wake up fine. Friendship time is interrupted when Shioi shows herself and introduces Kosame. Thanks to emo girl, this is the reason why their injuries are totally healed. Kosame continues explaining the juicy stuffs. There are many other Magical Girl Sites each with its own admin. But every site leads to the same revelation of Tempest. She further shows them more info on it. Tempest indeed is going to destroy the world. However there is a way one can survive. Offer the negative energy of humans to the King. They can be collected and stored via magical sticks and during the day of Tempest when one offers it, the one with the most negative energy will survive. But this means magical girls being given their own stick will start killing each other to fill up the meter. Also, if they used the magical stick too much, they’ll die. This means, the sites never intended for them to live. Kosame needs their help to join them. Their plan is to catch a site admin and make them spill more about Tempest. But first, Asagiri and Yatsumura need to find their magical sticks lost in the rubble. Since Shioi blames them for losing all her hard work, she lets them search for themselves. I think it’s going to take a while. We take a break with Yatsumura thanking Asagiri for defending her. Now her reason to live isn’t for revenge anymore. Asagiri surprises her parents by returning home and also plead for Yatsumura to stay with them for the time being since she lost her home. Kaname is suspicious about the ‘magic’ of them being healed and does his own research on the sites. Nana and the other site admins convene and are not amused nosy girls are poking too deep into the site’s secrets. What’s the solution? Kill them off! Damn, lots of dead magical girls…

Episode 7
Kosame reminds them that despite she is able to heal their wounds, it doesn’t mean their life is prolonged. They will still die during their teens from the use of magical sticks. We see Asagiri and Yatsumura sleeping together and talking about the future they want but sorry, not hot lesbian sex. We are introduced to some of Kosame’s magical girl groupies. The yakuza, the rich girl and the bully victim because he is a cross-dresser. Nijimi confronts Asagiri and Yatsumura. But first they tell her the truth and circumstances. She agrees to help find the site admin only if they let her kill Shioi with her own hands. To make matters worse, Shioi becomes a transfer student in their class. Instantly Nijimi is going to jump and kill her but luckily Yatsumura holds her down and has Asagiri take off her magical pantsu! The guys must be revelling in joy in this confusion. Yatsumura takes the magical pantsu and hides it. After they get yelled by the teacher, they converge at the park to meet Kosame’s groupies. They introduce themselves as well as their magical sticks’ ability: Sayuki Ringa (katana hardens anything she wants to cut), Mikari Izumigamine (broomstick allows her to fly fast and far), Asahi Takiguchi (necklace boosts physical abilities like speed) and Kiyoharu Suirenji (ring enables telepathy). Not surprising, some have bad blood with each other. They discuss the strategy to kidnap a site admin. Shizukume meets up with Nana who wants the magical sticks she gathered. But she won’t give them back and will use them to kill those girls. Nana fires a warning shot not to stick her nose where it doesn’t belong or she’ll die too. Asagiri is so kind to bring Shioi to stay with her. I guess Yatsumura won’t have any lesbian monopoly on her tonight. Definitely for Kaname too. During the bath, Asagiri gets a call from Kosame. Sounds like bad news so much so Asagiri starts crying. She has a favour to ask of her.

Episode 8
Naoto blames Kaname for stealing his Nijimi and vows to kill him. But what’s this? Our magical girls get to enjoy time at the beach? Does this series badly wants fanservice? I guess with the end of the world coming and the final battle with Tempest looming, why not enjoy ourselves first, right? So we see the girls having fun, more of Asagiri and Yatsumura thanking each other and this outing was planned by Asagiri because that call from Kosame told her that Yatsumura has not much longer to live after using too much of her magical stick. Later they realize somebody has broken into their locker and only stole Nijimi’s magical stick. Kiyoharu reads everyone’s minds but finds none of them as the culprit. But we’ll soon know as Naoto confronts Kaname and is going to kill him. Flashback shows Kaname using his suave skills to persuade Nijimi to disclose some magical girl stuffs. Kaname orders him on his knees and without skipping a beat, Naoto grovels before him. Wait a minute. If he has no vagina, where does he bleed from?! Does his balls bleed/! Kaname revels in his power as he shows off wearing Nijimi’s pantsu just to piss him off. My, what big dick he has! Plus, no bleeding? Kaname then orders him to walk into the ocean and stab himself in the heart. What do you know? Asagiri is watching this and very terrified. As she returns with her friends, she sees Kaname staring at her. On no. That sick look and smile… On the way home, Asagiri is terrified if her friends find out because they will kill him. After all he has done to you and you still care about that bastard? Wow. Such a nice girl. She is in a dilemma on what to do buy Kiyoharu has read her mind and knows what is going on and would like to resolve this as peacefully as possible. Detective Kiichirou Misumi and his police pick up Naoto’s body. As they investigate, he finds everything about his suicide off. He then sees a picture of Nijimi written all over with death threats addressing to Kaname. Nijimi is glad to meet Kaname but there is something he needs to tell her as he whispers into her ear…

Episode 9
Sayuki takes some of the girls to stay at her place. It’s her yakuza mansion. Definitely safe with all those thugs around… Meanwhile Kaname is at Nijimi’s place and the latter is fawning all over him until he uses the magical stick against her. She is begging for her life but Kaname views her as useless. As he orders her to hang herself, Asahi under Kiyoharu’s mind control barges in and beats him up. But with Nijimi still obedient to him, he turns the tables on her and tells her to kill Kiyoharu. Mikari rushes to Sayuki’s place to tell the bad news. Kosame cuts herself to heal Kiyoharu but there’s not enough blood. She would love to cut herself but Asagiri takes responsibility for this and uses her blood to save Kiyoharu. She reveals the truth about what she saw. But they’re not out of the woods yet as Kaname strolls in. Hello ladies. All of them are under his command as he takes it all out on his sister. Sick guy licks his sister’s hand with the cutter to heal himself. As he orders Nijimi to collect the magical sticks, Kiyoharu manages to telepathically talk to Nijimi and snap her out of Kaname’s control. She tells her to pretend and find a way to catch him off-guard. However realizing she has been duped by him, she cannot contain her again and charges at him only to be slashed. When you die, you always reflect on your life. In the case of Nijimi, she loves performing in front of others because she loves to see everyone happy. Reality hits hard when her debt ridden dad kills himself and the debt collector threatens the family. Hence Nijimi turned to the Magical Girl Site in hopes of reversing this disaster. Looks like she won’t get her chance. In her final attempt, she breaks a bottle and stabs into Kaname’s throat. Panicky Kaname tries to get the cutter but some invisible figure prevents him. Then the place is shrouded with smokescreen. When Asagiri wakes up, she sees all the other girls around Nijimi. She’s dead. Healing won’t work anymore.

Episode 10
Nijimi is such a big shot that a public memorial service is held for her. Misumi is talking to asking Asagiri’s parents who are worried about Kaname’s disappearance. Meanwhile Asagiri is as usual wallowing in depression and regret. Only thoughts of Nijimi until she realizes she needs to become stronger. About time. As she tries to find her lost magical stick and vows to protect everyone with her life, Shizukume confronts her. During Nijimi’s funeral, Asagiri surprises everyone by turning up. Later she turns her gun towards them and fire. Shortly, the building they are in collapses. It seems Nana is in cohorts with Misumi to kill them. He is the guy who stopped Kaname as he was tasked to retrieve his magical stick. He assures her Kaname is dead but it looks like he is kept alive, tied up somewhere. Now his job is to retrieve those dead magical girls’ stick. Luckily they are still alive as Asagiri teleported them somewhere. She tells them the site administrators are trying to kill them and knows about it because of Shizukume. The rest are shocked to see Shizukume joining their side. However Asagiri wants them to hand over their magical sticks. She wants them to drop out of this fight and return to their normal lives. It is her fault this mess started and she will atone it herself. But even if they give their magical sticks, that doesn’t delete the fact that they are still magical girls and will still be targeted. When Asagiri sounds too desperately desperate, Yatsumura slaps her and has her remember her initial promise about not doing this alone. With a little pep talk that they all share the burden and the pain, Shizukume gives them back their missing magical sticks. As for why she is siding with them. At first she was engaged by Nana to kill them all had they survived the explosion. Those site administrators don’t see them as people and discard them when they are useless. She is done being their pawn. They gear up to prepare taking down the Magical Girl Site.

Episode 11
The girls lay in wait to ambush a site administrator. They have the details because Yuka Sumikura who runs a blog site, uploaded details of how she is going to get a magical stick (too bad she’ll be waiting forever). But soon as her post gets uploaded, it is deleted. Possibly what she written down is true. At the school building, they wait until Ni shows up in which Shioi pounds her with her hammer. Uhm, she only lost a leg? Shioi rants how based on all the data they’ve collected, they could tell site admins have certain protocols to follow and areas assigned. That’s how they lay this bait. Yeah, it won’t do you any good spilling out those details as Ni attacks. To show how powerful she is, she kills a dumb guard passing by. Instead of being afraid and calling for backup, he called out to the monster and paid with his life. Ni turns her attention to Asagiri but she teleports her to the rooftop where Shizukume is waiting as she cuts her to pieces before Shioi finishes her off. This decoy is part of their plan. They are shocked when the corpse turns into a human one. Could it be that site admins are humans? I don’t know, but doesn’t the corpse look a little like a robot? Meanwhile, the other magical girls are being hindered by another side admin, Hachi. She is able to clone herself and keep them at bay. How long can Sayuki keep fending off her sword attacks? Back to the rest, they are confronted by Nana who claims she has been watching them. She made Ni a decoy to lure them out. Now she is going to kill them. At first Yatsumura seems dumb enough to let her destroy her magical stick. But when the timing is right, she initiates a barrier to protect her friends while attempting to cut her with Shizukume’s yoyo. Uhm, in exchange for taking in all those shots, she only cut off an arm? Yeah. Failed. Hence cue for Yatsumura’s last words. Thank you this, thank you that. She knows she hasn’t got long to live either. Goodbye. Dead. Cue for Asagiri to go berserk and scream over the death of her best friend. In another plot twist, in the base of the site administrators, Ichi welcomes the latest member to their circle: Yatsumura!

Episode 12
Nana tells Yatsumura about all the misfortune and hate building up in this world. Because of that, Yatsumura’s accumulated negative energy is deemed sufficient to be fed to the King who will then release Tempest onto the world. The King is the world’s most unfortunate girl and the plan is to wipe Earth of malice by evolving humans into something malice-free. Those who cannot adapt will die. Asagiri teleports her other friends away. She intends to be with Yatsumura but suddenly she comes back alive! Nana explains she is now an administrator but since she is not full-fledged, she needs more negative energy to become one. And that person to feed her that is Asagiri! So it becomes a strange hide and seek game. You think friendship talk is going to save the day? Can Yatsumura even hear her? Oh well, cliché time. Asagiri then shoots her own heart while Yatsumura strangles her. Did she go back in time to a young Yatsumura? Not sure, there’s the magical girl mark on her wrist. With assurance to always be with her, it dispels whatever fear she has as Yatsumura regains her consciousness. She is sad to see Asagiri’s lifeless body before her. But then, plot twist! She still lives as they both shoot at Nana. Nana claims unfairness as they used their magical sticks to free other magical girls. She asks if they are unfortunate souls. They reply they became magical girls out of misfortune but their misfortune is for nobody to decide. Therefore they are not unfortunate. Yatsumura resumes time and lets Nana get hit by a train? That killed her? Fatality! In the aftermath, more good news because Sayuki-Mikari combo somehow manage to cut down Hachi while Shizukume lives thanks to Kosame and Shioi donating blood to her. Meanwhile the administrators are talking about this mess but Ichi says they can be replaced. Meanwhile in Misumi’s lair, there are lots of magical sticks hanging up his wall. But here is the worst part. At least for Kaname. Because his butt is going to get raped by him!!! OMFG!!!!!!!!! And meanwhile too, Asagiri and Yatsumura live a happy lesbian life? Not if Ichi narrates how he hopes misfortune will befall on them because they have taken on the malice inside people’s hearts, boasting the misfortunes of the past have given rise to happiness in the present. This is an unforgivable sin as it dents the King’s plan.

Warning: Visiting This Site May Harm Your Life
Oh, you poor unfortunate soul. Fukou da ne, fukou da ne… I am not sure if this is the end at all. Asagiri and Yatsumura successfully killing the site admin who has been a thorn on their side doesn’t mean Tempest will go away. Sure, it looked like a bright sunny day after their victory with the other magical girls coming out alive and a bit scathed, that’s all. They sound like everything is over. But this only delays slightly the coming of Tempest so by a long shot, everything is far from over. Hence with this ‘happy ending’ this season has closed, it just doesn’t feel right. To a point that I think the main goal was just to defeat Nana and our main duo can happily frolic with each other. Wow. So fortunate finally, you girls. Oh right. Who are we to determine the misfortune of others, eh?

Although it started out pretty slowly and interesting, I can’t help feel that halfway through it was like dragging things out. Perhaps I was having the mentality of magical girls killing each other and when I wasn’t seeing at least a magical girl dying per episode, that was probably what got my goat. Yeah, I’m such a sadist… Can’t be help. I expected to see more than just spilled blood in this kind of series! Sure, there are dead magical girls in almost every episode. But those are just minor characters with no name whom we will never care. Those kind of magical girls are the ones racking up the body count. Then trying to find more allies to fight against the inevitable Tempest, hence the detour of trying to capture or even kill a site administrator feels lacklustre. It feels more dragged out than something that would maintain and pique your interest. I wonder if this series would have done better had an extra cour being given. Because a dozen episodes feels too short considering the pacing and direction of this series.

Even the big antagonist’s plot of trying to bring a disaster to the world in hopes of saving humanity by destroying a big chunk of it doesn’t sound original. Hmm… Where have I heard this kind of plot before? Oh, right. From Code Geass to even Sousei No Onmyouji. Heck, even Thanos from the Marvel universe has this same intention. Higher powers claim they have the moral right to obliterate weaklings and create a world without all the negative emotions for the ultimate world. A world lacking that negative emotion. It should be perfect but our heroes and heroines place more important on status quo than anything. That’s why the world continues to suck and soak up all the hatred.

The series also tries to deal with some dark themes. A lot of them. From incessant bullying to even to domestic abuse and even depression (woah, that man rape at the end wasn’t entirely expected), however they aren’t addressed in a serious manner. Did the magical power of the magical girls somehow interfered and made it less relevant? Because you see, even as Asagiri became some sort of a punching bag for Shizukume’s groupies to bully, this is supposed to score some sympathy points but the way she takes every beating like as though she extends her life force from every hit makes it feel unrealistic. If that wasn’t enough, we have her older brother who often lets off steam with his nightly visits. Yeah, he is just short of raping his sister. Maybe in time he would. Hence with Asagiri being casted as powerless (before she was a magical girl), it makes it look like one S&M fest with her bullies enjoying tormenting her while Asagiri ‘enjoying’ every moment of blows she has taken in. And the bullying stops because she became a magical girl. Felt more like plot convenience to me.

The characters are boring and uninspiring. You don’t feel like you want to root for them and only had to because they’re the good characters and out of sympathy. Like I have said with Asagiri as a veteran bully victim, she doesn’t feel like the main character and only felt so because more screen time is given to her. She has hardly changed and is mostly the same guilt ridden girl from the start. Only this time she has Yatsumura to care about. Therefore her noble attitude trying to protect and save her because the power of friendship reeks cringe. Maybe it is natural for Asagiri since Yatsumura is the first person who ever treated her closely to a human being. So it’s understandable Asagiri puts her on a pedestal and trying to show her worth as a friend instead of being some useless victim.

Copying Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica’s fashion, the biggest twist is revealed to be the site administrators were once humans. That’s like how the witches in that anime were once magical girls, no? I have always kept it in the back of my mind that Yatsumura might not be the good person that she seems to be before Asagiri. Because I was thinking that at one point she might betray her. All this playing friendship and being nice with her is just part of her bigger plan. After all, all magical girls have their own goals so it is not surprising Yatsumura has hers. Now, my theory is that the criminal that Yatsumura has been slowly torturing as revenge is dead, even though it is not Asagiri’s fault but she had an indirect hand in ending that reason to live. Words are easy and would you believe if a human could get over a long outstanding grudge just after a mere realization of friendship? Especially in this dark series? I’m not putting my faith in it yet. So even if Yatsumura is true blue in her friendship towards Asagiri, perhaps the ultimate betrayal to Asagiri will come in the form of her being the next site administrator. Well, she did became temporarily one but that BS friendship crap ruined it all. Instead, Asagiri did apologize and say something about ‘betraying’ her but I didn’t get it. So is it true that they have no malice in their hearts now? Damn, I didn’t think it was this easy.

The problem with the other magical girls is that they don’t feel too relevant. The new ones they teamed up with halfway through still feel like a ragtag bunch only put together because of a common cause. They do play minor roles like Kiyoharu’s telepathy thingy but any more than that, it usually boils down to Asagiri and Yatsumura. The rest I can’t even remember their names properly. Like that one who runs fast, the one who rides the broomstick and the emo girl who is tempting who cut herself. Seeing that they don’t have any backgrounds or given such prominence as Asagiri or Yatsumura, I was thinking they could be sacrificial goats. However, even if the plot did not turn into a big battle royale and became a big cooperating team to take down the menace, well, it certainly didn’t go the way I expected as seen in Avengers: Infinity War. Oh heck, why not just kill off everybody and be done with it.

You thought Shizukume would be a thorn in the main group’s side. Unfortunately she decides to put aside their differences and join them against the site administrators. I don’t know about you, it feels disappointing. I thought it would add another layer of hostility for the group seeing they have another threat to deal with. Even if she wasn’t around to join in the final battle, it didn’t matter. Perhaps to show some solidarity among the magical girls to fight for the greater good? Thank goodness it tuned out alright, didn’t it?

Kaname is more interesting than these girls because of his sick and twisted mind. This guy is a narcissist who thinks he is better than everyone. There is a saying that goes if meeting one or two people, they might be an asshole. But if everyone you meet is an asshole, you are probably the asshole. Could not be so true in Kaname’s case. But he isn’t different than everyone and is as low as a scum like those he thinks they are. Otherwise, why would he need to abuse his sister just to keep his sanity and grades? This already shows he has a flaw and ever since Asagiri turned into a magical girl, the stress keeps building up that it finally explodes. This guy could be a serial killer had he not have school obligations. Kaname is such an interesting guy that the next episode preview is about him talking in his thoughts. It usually starts out very nice and polite until the punchline in the end that reveals his darker side. But too bad he became Misumi’s sex toy so not sure what will turn out of him. Just desserts? Yeah, this was what you have been doing to Asagiri all the time. Just short of penetrating her but now you got a hot guy sticking it deep into your ass. Yeah, his hole so big, bigger than the plot hole of this series! HAHAHA!!! I don’t even know why Misumi’s character exists except for this final disturbing part that doesn’t bring us anywhere. Maybe it is to subtly tell us now Asagiri can sleep soundly now that her brother is tormenting?

One of the biggest mind boggling issues comes in the part where Kaname was trying to kill the magical girls or at least get revenge on them. At least his sister. You remember the part where he had them all under his control. And he is just a command away from silencing them. Even if Nijimi had stuck a broken bottle in his throat, a little more struggle is more than enough to finish them off. But no. Instead, Nana sent that detective to stop him. Then she wanted them dead and thought of killing them herself. So instead of letting this mad brother do the job for her, she let them lived and then wanted them dead soon after? Does this make sense? Are there rules she has to follow through? Heck, she even failed to kill all of them. Yeah, I suppose it is to provide some tension, drama and drag out the plot.

I have a feeling they want to keep some sort of mystery about the site administrators, hence we don’t know nothing about them aside that they wear weird creepy masks and are named after numbers. Also, they might be human. Yatsumura being incepted doesn’t mean all of them could be considered as once humans. Even if the site administrators are scary and powerful, it isn’t like they are so powerful or omniscient like God. Because if they were, our main magical girls wouldn’t have given them such a hard time. Like when they baited and lured out Ni who suspected nothing. I don’t believe she was playing along. And Nana who should have killed them off during Nijimi’s funeral, does she not know that they are not dead? Always check the bodies… Even some of them do not get along among themselves and just like the ragtag bunch of magical girls, they’re just there for a common goal and share the same common powers.

The fight scenes as well as the magical sticks feel pretty meh. It’s a good thing that they are not confined to its user and anybody can own and use them. Otherwise it will be a pain and boring to see the same girls using the same magic sticks, something that most of them often do. So once in a while, we see them use a different stick other than theirs but fights don’t often last that long. Maybe except that Shizukume vs Asagiri-Yatsumura at the apartment one. But I’ll give points for the pantsu being a magical stick item. Never really saw that coming. The other mind boggling thing is that when Kaname was wearing them, he did not bleed like other magical girls. Is it because he is not a magical girl? But it doesn’t make sense because you can use the item because you’re a magical girl and not an ordinary person. Otherwise, I’m sure the girls aren’t dumb enough to be bound by the rules of being a magical girl and can still use them while remaining ordinary. Also be warned that there are lots of blood spilling in this anime. But I am assuming those who are watching this have no aversion to blood and want to see more.

I have mixed feelings for the art and animation. The characters have this cute or strange feel to them. Like Asagiri who looks like plain Jane but with those bags under her eyes, it looks like she does not have enough sleep. Maybe. Being kept awake by Kaname’s abuse certainly has a toll on her health. Oddly, Asagiri somewhat reminds me of Alice from Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku. Others like Yatsumura and Nijimi look a bit cartoonish so it is a bit contrasting to the dark theme of the series. It is the site administrators that look scary and could easily give one nightmares. Thankfully I didn’t get any. Their monochrome appearance and the lack of animation enhance the surreal look like as though are paper cut-outs inserted into the animation. This is Production doA’s first anime series (the other being the Gochuumon Wa Usagi Desu Ka Dear My Sister movie) so cut them some slack?

Voice acting also doesn’t feel anything special. Yuko Oono as Asagiri (Shiori in Toji No Miko) certainly makes her character feel she is at her limits. Nobuhiko Okamoto feels at home playing the psychotic Kaname since this feels like his other similar characters, namely Accelerator in To Aru Majutsu Index. Aoi Yuuki also has a role here as Hachi but it was tough to spot her not in the voice I could identify with. Other casts are Himika Akaneya as Yatsumura (Tamarai in ReLIFE), Haruka Yamazaki as Shizukume (Ruka in Hayate No Gotoku), Aina Suzuki as Shioi (Mari in Love Live! Sunshine), Yuu Serizawa as Nijimi (Yumemi in Kakegurui), Ryusei Nakao as Nana (Mayuri in Bleach), Yumi Hara as Kosame (Albedo in Overlord), Eriko Matsui as Kiyoharu (Isuzu in Log Horizon), Mao Ichimichi as Sayuki (titular character in Space Patrol Luluco), Kaede Hondo as Mikari (Koyume in Comic Girls), Lynn as Asahi (Maya in Sabagebu) and Tatsuhisa Suzuki as Misumi (Eishirou in Sora No Otoshimono). And last but not least… Mamiko Noto as the King!!!!!! OMFG!!! Only one short line in the end!!! Maybe this show is really taking after Jigoku Shoujo in some ways. Imagine if the King turns out to be Enma Ai… Oh boy, scary or insulting?

I have this feeling that the opening theme, Changing Point by iRis wants to sound as epic as Connect, which is the opening theme for Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. Heck, the name sounds familiar to Claris who sang that song. Note that Himika Akaneya and Yuu Serizawa are part of this 6 member idol group. Well, it certainly tries to copy and have that feel as Connect but doesn’t live up to the hype. Or at least my standards. In other words, didn’t find it attractive enough to like it. The ending theme, Zenzen Tomodachi by Haruka Yamazaki isn’t anything special either. Maybe that is why they try to distract you with that live animation of a pair of girls (Asagiri and Yatsumura, I suppose) doing this weird dance on the rooftop. Open classroom? Are they doing some sort of demonic summon ritual or are they being possessed? But that weirdness cannot beat the animation of sperms flying in the air!!! WTF??????!!!!!!!! SPERMS!!!!! YOU SAW THAT RIGHT!!!!! What does a male reproductive cell has got to do in this predominantly female series???!!! I guess normal people don’t know how ovaries look like. But then again, why sperm? Why Japan? Why?!

Overall, I wanted to like this series not because I want to see dead magical girls who end up killing each other. Okay, maybe part of me wants that. Uninteresting characters, draggy plot that didn’t go anywhere far and unexciting twist ended up being its greatest demise. However with the thought that it is trying to compare itself to Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica and it came out 6 years later partly diminishes its potential to be greater. Heck, I still prefer Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku by a mile. Let’s hope in the future they can come up with better magical girl stories otherwise magical girls would only be reduced to nostalgia and taken over by nonsensical ones involving guys (looking at you, Mahou Shoujo Ore and the Binan series). When that really happens, it would be most unfortunate. Yup, we definitely decide our own misfortunes and misery. Fukou da ne, fukou da ne…

Violet Evergarden

July 22, 2018

Wait a minute. Saber with mechanical hands? And she goes by the moniker of Violet Evergarden now? Of course I know it’s not. But another funny thing because in the same season that Fate/Extra: Last Encore ran its course, there were 2 other anime series in that season in which the main character looked like Saber. One of them being in Grancrest Senki (yes, Siluca looks very much like Saber in my books but in skimpier outfit) and the other one being this series. So I heard the setting is that the war has ended and hence this Saber-like titular main character who was once part of the military, finds a new job and rebuild her life while trying to find the meaning of love. ‘Mysterious words’ left behind by her late beloved killed in the war. I also read that some tissues are needed if you want to sit through this. Oh…

Episode 1
After the war, Violet Evergarden finds herself in a hospital. She writes to Major Gilbert Bougainvillea the need to return to active duty but if she is having a hard time grasping a pencil, I’m not so sure. Claudia Hodgins who is Gilbert’s colleague, comes to retrieve her but Violet keeps insisting about Gilbert. Each time, he tries to change the subject or ‘assure’ her he is alright. I think at this point we already know his fate. As she is discharged, she checks through her belongings and finds the emerald brooch from Gilbert is missing. She becomes frantic and wants to search for the gift Gilbert gave her but Hodgins assure he will find it for her. Arriving at the port city of Leiden, the capital of Leidenschaftlich, he leaves her in the care of the Evergarden family. Since she is still clumsy with her hands, taking off her bandages reveal a mechanical one. She is not used to it but assures in time she will. She is given a pair of gloves. As Hodgins leave, Violet is not satisfied and demands an answer why Gilbert put her here. She insists she can still fight after some retraining. He says the war is over. In that case, she wants to be disposed of if she is no longer needed. She considers herself as Gilbert’s tool. Hodgins changes his mind and has her follow him. He explains he is no longer with the army and has set up his own business. A postal and ghostwriting service. He will give her commands in Gilbert’s stead. He puts her in the postal division and has Benedict Blue show her around. Being the kind who executes her orders perfectly, she literally takes his words and even does night time deliveries! Hey, need to deliver all the letters, right? Hodgins has to stop her and talk to her about things. Asking her last orders from Gilbert, she says it is to run away and live free. And there is also that I love you she is eking out to say. Violet is still confused over his words so Hodgins says taking her in is his way to make amends for Gilbert. One day she’ll understand what he is saying. Violet hears a client using the Auto Memoir Doll (ghostwriting) service. This brings back memories of her with Gilbert during the war. Because she wants to know what I love you means, she wants to work in this division. Flashback shows Violet frantically trying to save Gilbert’s life. But he knew his time was up and ordered her to stop. He uttered those final words before breathing his last breath.

Episode 2
Short flashback shows Gilbert was introduced to Violet by his older brother. She was found on the north eastern front. Violet is introduced to Cattleya Baudelaire who is the best Doll in the company. Other Dolls include Iris Cannary and Erica Brown. Violet is tested for her aptitude using the typewriter. She is hitting it so hard that she is forced to stop. Painful to watch. But Violet isn’t the only Doll facing personal issues. Iris and Brown feel bored since joining the company. They have done nothing but type addresses as Cattleya takes all the best customers. They want to write exciting stuffs. Cattleya tries to flirt with Hodgins to purposely piss off Benedict. Violet sits next to Erica during her ghostwriting job. Since Violet is honest and straight, she actually comments on the direct implication of the client’s words instead of rewording it nicely. Especially when a client becomes angry that the letter is written in a way that makes it sound it is his fault. When he gets violent, Violet reciprocates. With customers complaining, Hodgins has to talk to them. One afternoon when Cattleya is out, a fancy lady is looking to use their service. Erica lights up upon knowing she wants to write a secret love letter to a man she loves. However her recent experience has her hesitating if she should take the job. Too bad Violet usurps her and will take on the job. But soon that lady comes back fuming because the letter she wrote made her sound obnoxious and arrogant instead of being subtle and hinting she wants him to pursue her! No wonder the man was pissed. Cattleya talks to Violet who has realized she has failed to understand. Cattleya says about the 2 sides of words and what is spoken isn’t necessarily all there is to it. It is human’s weakness to test others to reaffirm our worth. Violet and Erica do some soul searching why they want to be a Doll. As for Violet, she wants to know what I love you means. Thus Erica goes to plead to Hodgins not to fire her as her typing skills are exceptional. Despite earlier on she didn’t think Violet would be a good ghostwriter, she views herself as the one who isn’t suitable, that’s why she spoke on her behalf. Erica narrates the history of the typewriter, invented when his wife became blind. Now it becomes a symbol of ghostwriting. As this story touched her heart, she hopes one day she could write letters that touch the hearts of others. Violet is surprised when Hodgins has found the emerald brooch. He claims somebody stole it and was lucky to find it on the black market. In actual fact, he used up the company’s funds to buy it. Cattleya has her suspicions of it and has Hodgins spill the beans.

Episode 3
Violet attends the school that trains Dolls. She is like a robot when the teacher asks to type and hence she needs to be specified how fast and how many words per minute. She awes everyone with her mechanic hands and her insanely precise typing skills. Violet befriends fellow Doll trainee, Luculia Marlborough. It is no surprise Violet always tops in her grades. A little detour as we see Cattleya and Benedict being loggerheads with each other. Violet and Luculia become partners in a ghostwriting practice. While Violet’s letter sounds more like a military report, Luculia decides to address hers to her parents. However Violet makes it sound like a soulless report and hence the teacher admonishes her for not writing a letter. Luculia takes Violet to a rooftop to show her the beautiful scene of Leiden. This reminds Violet that Gilbert told her he hoped she would see the beautiful city of Leiden. Luculia finds her drunk and injured brother, Spencer getting into a bar fight. She brings him home. He doesn’t care. Luculia can only cry in silence. The teacher gives pins for those who graduate as a fine Doll. Luculia is one of them. Violet is not. This has her question why she went to that school for. It makes her realize she can’t understand her client’s expression and hence is not fit to be a Doll. Luculia decides to help Violet in ghostwriting again. She wants her to address it to Gilbert whom she is always talking about. Learning she wants to know the meaning of I love you, Luculia reveals the truth about her parents. They’re dead. Spencer is the only family she has got. During the war, he was posted at a front where it rarely sees action. As the war nears its end, that front got penetrated. Their parents were visiting there then. He was filled with regret he was unable to save them. Despite he became a handicap, she was always happy he at least came back alive. All she wants is to thank him for coming home, which never got to tell him. This might have hit Violet’s heart as she begins to write. Spencer got himself into another fight. His military instincts has him almost beat up Violet but she is here to deliver Luculia’s letter. I guess we know Violet has levelled up if he is crying. When Benedict and Cattleya seems to be on good terms, Violet thought they were fighting. Yeah, they end up fighting. Damn. She just instigated a fight? Next day, Luculia brings Violet to the teacher. She has shown her the letter she wrote. The teacher views her as fit and gives her the pin. Wait. Just 1 letter like that? What if it was a fluke? Luculia is very grateful for Violet’s help. Hodgins is impressed of her progress.

Episode 4
Iris is ecstatic as she gets her first ghostwriting request from her hometown of Kazaly but from an unknown woman, Sara Florent. In her happiness, she trips down the stairs. Although she injures her arm, her fall is broken by Violet. Now she has to accompany her to ghostwrite. When she meets her family, it is obvious Iris tries to exaggerate that she is a successful ghostwriter while trying to hush Violet for correcting. It seems Sara is the name of Iris’ great grandma and the request was actually made by her mom. She wants to write invitations for Iris’ birthday party. Iris is not pleased learning most of the invitations are guys. You know what kind of party this is when mom starts hinting she is already of that age. Iris demands Violet do not send an invitation to one of the guys on the list, Emonn Snow. But during her party, Emonn shows up. Violet checked with her mom and she said to send it. Party ruined with Iris showing that angry face and locking herself in her room. Violet learns from Iris that Emonn was the guy who rejected her. Yeah Violet, care to elaborate out loud what it all means? Now she’s crying. When mom tries to talk to her, more screaming and blaming. After Violet apologizes for not reading her feelings thoroughly, I guess Iris cools down and tells the whole story. She always loved Emonn and confessed to him on the day they graduated from school. But he rejected her as he could only see her as a childhood friend. It broke her heart so much that she couldn’t stay around here and left for Leiden. This has Violet noting that confessing requires a lot of courage. Violet suggests writing apology letters to all the guests. This includes Iris’ parents and you can tell it is a heartfelt apology and sincere gratitude in a way. So Violet’s ghostwriting isn’t a fluke. You can tell when her parents are moved to tears. Too bad Violet will charge Iris for that and won’t give a discount. As they leave, Iris receives flowers from her parents. I guess now we know why she is named so. She was born when those flowers were in full bloom. This has Violet remember how Gilbert named her. He spotted a lovely plant and decided to name her so in hopes she would grow up to be a lovely person worthy of that name instead of a tool.

Episode 5
Hodgins sees his former commander and is told another war might break out as some countries in the north do not accept the peace proposal. Drossel and Flugel are 2 enemy countries and they will be entering a marriage of convenience. Hodgins sends Violet to be the ghoswriter for Princess Charlotte Abelfreyja Drossel as she will exchange public love letters with Prince Damian Baldur Flugel. Violet is introduced to Charlotte by the court maid, Alberta but Charlotte is not happy with all of this one bit. She questions Violet about her age because it seems there is a 10 year gap with Damian. As Violet is unsure with the concept of love, this only upsets Charlotte. She even demands her to show some emotions! Hope she doesn’t regret it… Violet ghostwrites her first letter. Wow. It’s really beautiful. Damian also equally replies. Charlotte is not happy things didn’t go her way and kicks up a fuss. Alberta has to remind her of her position and how she won’t be around once she is married. Charlotte insists she should be since she has been by her side ever since birth. Their public love letter exchange captivates the people and this goes on for a while until Charlotte is fed up of it all as she believes Damian has a Doll writing those letters. She explains to Violet how royalties have their marriage arrangement as soon as they turn 10. So her birthday party looked like a big meeting for a prospective husband. Nobody cared about her feelings. She was crying outside till Damian showed up and consoled her. As he spoke from his heart, he captivated her. Soon the war broke out and talks of marriage was put on hold. She studied on the benefits of the marriage between their countries and is happy to receive his official proposal. But her problem is that she doesn’t know his feelings. She is worried they might not get along. Violet suggests writing the letters herself and she has gone out of her way to talk to Damian’s ghostwriter and they agree to this. Charlotte and Damian write from their heart. The letters sound less flowery but remain true to their hearts. Their weaknesses, fears and all while assuring they still love each other. It captivates the people too and it feels like as though they are watching a real live drama! In the end, Damian proposes they meet and he officially proposes to her. She accepts. Hooray! Charlotte has matured and looks stunning in her wedding dress. Her only regret is that Violet isn’t around to see her wedding. Violet meets up Cattleya on her way home. She was the ghostwriter for Damian. She owes her for convincing Damian. When Violet steps back on Leiden, she is confronted with Dietfried (Gilbert’s brother) and he is not happy she has become a Doll. He is not amused that someone who has taken many lives is now writing letters to bring lives together.

Episode 6
Many Dolls from all over the continent gather at Shaher Astronomy HQ. This means Violet meets up with her old classmates like Luculia. As the men’s usual job in the manuscript department is to preserve old, rare and poorly maintained books, last month they received a huge number of those. Hence the Dolls’ services are required. A man is paired with a Doll for the job. He will read and she will type. Leon Stephanotis is paired with Violet. What are the chances of a guy who doesn’t like Dolls… Yeah, you’ll slowly see him being taken in by Violet’s beauty as well as her skill. Violet is so efficient that they’ve completed 3 days’ worth of work in a day! Man, that guy is sure going to have a sore throat. One day, Leon hears his colleagues trying to tell Violet that he is wasted on her due to his circumstances. Thanks to her honest nature, it doesn’t get through her. Seeing his ‘natural face’ after hearing that, it’s funny how Violet replies she too has this kind of ‘natural face’. Leon summons the courage to ask her to go stargazing with him since Alley’s Comet (Haley’s Comet?) only comes around once in 200 years. What a major coincidence. Too bad the bread was squished to parts unknown for this invitation. While waiting for the comet, Leon explains what his colleagues said was true. His mom was a travelling performer and married a local. He had a happy life and dad’s job was travelling around the world to collect rare books. One day he vanished and the search was called off after 2 years. Mom decided to go look for him and was never seen again, much to Leon’s dismay. That’s why mom is very important to him. It’s Violet’s turn to tell him she has no blood relations but a certain man who cared for her for a long time. Hearing her talk about him, he asks if she would rush to his aid if she finds out he is in danger despite putting herself at risk. Her hesitant to answer is not because of how to answer him but how to apologize to him. That man means the world to her and she would rather die than lose him. I take it he is rejected. Before he could say the obvious she loves that guy, here comes the coincidental comet. The Dolls leave after the enormous work is complete. Leon sees off Violet. He admits he always wanted to follow his dad’s path but thought by being in this manuscript department, he could wait as long as needed for his mom to return. Thanks to her, he has changed his mind and wants to travel the world no matter how dangerous. He hopes they could meet as travellers one day. When that happens, he hopes she would still go stargazing with him. The odds of that might be even more astronomical than Alley’s Comet but he is glad he won’t hesitate anymore for she gave him the courage to take the first step out from the room he locked himself in.

Episode 7
Violet’s ghostwriting skills now take her to the nation of Genetrix where she will ghostwrite for Oscar Webster, a considerably famous playwright. However arriving at his home, his place is unkempt and he is not in good health. He prefers drinking than starting on his work. Plus, he treats her like a maid to do errands! Violet does so much but eventually puts her foot down and gets their work started. She types as he speaks the story but there are still many plot holes. When Violet finds a beautiful parasol, he suddenly wants to be left alone. Then when he sees her use it, she reminded him of someone dear. He snaps and hits it off her hand. He tells her to leave but she apologizes as she lacks the ability to understand whatever he is hiding in his heart. Oscar says he is trying to complete a story told by Olivia, his daughter. After his wife died of an illness, they moved here. However her days were numbered too and they lived as much as they could until she died. He lost all hope. Oh dear, Violet is so sad that she cried! She understands how it feels to lose someone and never getting to see them again. Once they both regain their composure, they continue finishing the story. It seems one of Olivia’s wish was to show she could walk on water across the lake to dad. Oscar didn’t think Violet would actually try and do it! OMG! Is she really walking on water???!!! This scene sparks lots of emotions inside him. Trying so hard to hold back the tears… :’(. Oh, Violet manages to skip 3 times before sinking. Damn I thought 1 was even impossible. Once her service is over, Oscar gives her the parasol. On her way back, she starts thinking words said from Dietfried, Gilbert and Hodgins and it makes her feel conflicted. Landing on Leiden, her former Evergarden family greets her. At this point this is where Violet finds out Gilbert has died as the mistress mentioned about his soul resting in peace. Violet storms back to confront Hodgins about his lie. He didn’t have the heart to tell her. He explains she was found alone alive outside the church. Perhaps moment before the bomb took Gilbert out. Although his body was not found, his dog tag was there. Violet takes this as a sign that Gilbert is still alive and refuses to believe otherwise. She runs away in tears.

Episode 8
Violet forces her way into the military to see Dietfried. Is Gilbert dead? He says yes. She says no! So what do you want to hear? But Dietfried feels mad. How can a heartless tool feel sorrow he thinks. As Violet makes her way home, we have more flashbacks. When Violet was found, Gilbert treated her kindly unlike Dietfried. Hence he took custody of her. Bringing her home, Violet was sceptical at first but gets used to his kindness. Gilbert was ordered to bring Violet to the frontlines to fight. He cannot disobey and in worse case, just abandon that tool. Well, well. They should just send in Violet as a one (wo)man army as she swiftly and efficiently kills the enemies in the most lethal way. Violet has reached Gilbert’s home. Is Gilbert around? Uhm, well, here’s his grave. Oh, it must be a coincidence the tombstone has the same name as Gilbert. The flashback continues. After Gilbert names her Violet, she showed some reaction and understanding. He trained and thought her how to read and write. To show his gratitude, we wanted to get her an accessory. She pointed out that emerald brooch because it has the same eye colour at his and looking at it moved her heart. Honestly she thought his eyes were beautiful when she first saw them. Moments before the final battle, Hodgins was posted to their same unit. He felt uneasy with his promotion because his family was the main funder for the war. Knowing this could be the last battle, Hodgins planned on quitting the army and open a store. He hopes Gilbert to come work for him but he wouldn’t want to. He teased he should hire Violet instead. Violet mistook this as Gilbert may not want her anymore and put her under Hodgins custody. They never got to finish this talk as the final battle soon begun. Gilbert’s troops were at the frontlines storming the enemy’s fort. Lots of casualty and even one whereby they were surrounded and ambush. Even if Violet was superhuman, there was no way she and Gilbert would have gotten unscathed and return to kill of all them. Anyway after a hard fought battle, Gilbert signals the victory to the reinforcements to storm the fort. But shortly after that, the enemy shoots his face.

Episode 9
Violet will not abandon him and carries him away despite under enemy fire. Heck, even if she lost both hands she still insists! And then that final heart wrenching scene we all knew. He tells her to live and be free and the confession of I love you. Confused Violet wants to know what is love (Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me-… Oops, sorry) but the place soon collapses. Now Violet is at the remnants of the site looking for Gilbert’s body. Hodgins is here too as he reveals the enemy tried to bomb the place in their final attempt. Gilbert must have pushed her out of the explosion. Everyone in hospital lied to her Gilbert was alright because she seemed more concerned about him than herself. Before that final battle, Gilbert strangely asked him to take care of Violet should anything happen to him. He didn’t see her as a tool but was worried over her future as an ordinary girl. Violet follows him back although they have to take a detour as there is a little unrest from the anti-peace faction in the town ahead. Violet is back but she holes up herself in her room. So sad that she is seeing visions of Gilbert interacting with her. Of course it all comes crashing down. Frustration sets in. She breaks stuffs. Tries to strangle herself. Can’t. Interrupted by the old postman guy. He has a letter for her. Because Benedict injured his feet, Violet is asked to cover his delivery. Violet does so and notices the people receiving the letters very happy to receive them. Once done, she returns to read her letter. It is from Iris and Erica. They wrote as they are worried over her wellbeing. Spencer requests Violet to be his ghostwriter to write to Luculia that he is doing fine and found a job. Thanks to her, he got back on her feet. Violet also notes the letter she received was her first one. It made her happy. Violet sees Hodgins and asks if it is alright for her to be a Doll and live on. Why is Hodgins crying? Oh wait, me too. He says all the horrendous things she did cannot be undone. This goes the same when she is a Doll.

Episode 10
Anne Magnolia sees a beautiful large doll (Violet) walking into the house. She is amazed she can talk, drink, etc. Seems her dying mom hired her to type letters for a week. Anne spends some time with Violet during the break and one night as she is tuning her mechanical hands, Anne tries to ask who the letters are addressed to since it couldn’t be her dad as he died in the war. However Violet is unable to disclose that information. Client confidentiality. Does a little girl know what that means? Over the next few spaces, we see Anne bugging Violet for things. She reveals to her that she actually wanted her mom to do those things but Violet keeps spending time writing those letters with her. Thus she wants Violet to stop taking away the time mom spends with her. Of course she can’t do that and this only frustrates Anne. One day, mom shows signs of weakening that she almost collapsed. Distraught Anne wants her to stop writing those letters in which mom insists they are very important to her. Anne is unable to understand and snaps that she knows she is dying and will be left all alone once she is gone. She is upset she is willing to spend her limited time writing letters than with her. Anne runs away as Violet catches up and talks to her. More heartbreak to see Anne cry and blame herself for being a bad girl, the reason why her mom isn’t getting any better. On the last day as Violet leaves, Anne realizes Violet is human and has soft skin (aside her hands). She is warm, gentle and kind. The seasons come and go as Anne spends more time with her mom. As expected, she passed away. Unsurprisingly for me, it is revealed the letters mom wrote are addressed to Anne. Each one delivered on her birthday. Anne reads them as it brings much tears to her and us. Fast forward we see Anne grown up into a lovely woman, married to a lovely husband and has a child of her own. The main point is that no matter how far apart or long it has been, mom will always be watching over her. I don’t want to sound like a jerk but it is revealed that mom wrote 50 years’ worth of letters. But man, she must really be confident her daughter will live that long. I mean, in this age and era… Hopefully she would. When Violet returns to HQ, she starts crying to think how lonely Anne would be when her mom is gone. She was holding back her tears all the while. Yeah, that poker face of hers worked for once. Oops, sorry. Bring me some tissues too, please :’(. Cattleya comforts her that it will be the letters she wrote that Anne will read.

Episode 11
Violet overheard Hodgins and Cattleya talk about a request for a Doll at Ctrigall’s Menace base. It seems that country has just plunged into a civil war as some wants the war to continue. Of course Hodgins will not send his Doll to the battlefield but what do you know? Violet secretly takes up that offer and heads over there. There, the people aren’t willing to send her right into the battlefield. Furthermore, Menace base is completely surrounded. Violet notes a steep hill that is less protected and the only way is to fly a plane and parachute down. The idea is so crazy that the pilot decides to do that just for her. The enemy is preparing to ambush but they got ambushed instead. All were killed except Aiden Field. He desperately flees but is shot by a sniper. Though, he still lives. Not too sure if allies or the enemy finds him and is about to kill him but here comes Violet dropping in. She dodges bullets to bring them down! One of the soldiers recognizes Violet as a killing machine so he tells his men to leave. Must be really fate and coincidence for Violet to meet Aiden. In the cabin, Aiden insists she writes the letters instead of treating his wounds. Okay. So, uhm… Air typewriter? She can memorize them in her hands. First, he has the letters addressed to his parents and hopes he would be reborn as their child again. Close to death, he now has another letter addressed to his childhood friend and crush, Maria. He really loves her and wants to return home to her. He doesn’t want to die but he is weakening by the second. Violet plays as his beloved Maria before he dies. Next morning after she buries him, she makes a detour to deliver the letters. The parents and Maria break down. When they thank Violet for bringing him back, this dismantles all the tears Violet was holding back. Now she is crying along with them :’(. She apologizes she failed to protect him :’(.

Episode 12
Remnants of the anti-peace faction are planning to disrupt a peace treaty signing ceremony. Hence the army assigns Dietfried to ensure this ceremony proceeds. Dietfried sarcastically replies he is now sent to clean up the mess after the original troubleshooter who was his brother is dead. Cattleya and Benedict are to accompany the ambassador for the ceremony. Dietfried is also there and although he is relieved Violet is not on this mission, he still doesn’t miss a chance to badmouth her. Benedict stands up for her and believes her letters she wrote has given a lot of hope to many. Violet is taking a plane back when she spots several explosions along the rail. Up ahead is a train station where the ambassador is on. Violet must have a damn good eyesight to spot Cattleya and wants to drop down here right now! She tells Cattleya what she saw and with Dietfried hearing this, he wants to know the details. He realizes the rebels plan to disrupt several spots along the line before finally attacking the train directly. They will pass a point where they will pass a long tunnel which took a long time to construct. There will be no repairs along this stretch and if the tunnel is bombed, it will take an awful long time to be repaired again. When Violet wants orders, Dietfried is not happy she still wants to be ordered like a tool. I guess there is no other way or transport so the train still continues its run.

I know some rebels infiltrated the train but how did the other rebels climb on board later? Without the other guards knowing? Furthermore, they even detached the train and all the guards are in the last carriage. That’s why mom said never to put all the eggs in one basket… Dietfried will go stop this train and wants her to protect the passengers. She insists she will not kill. I know it’s cool to see Violet fight the baddies on the train top but it’s unbelievable she takes her not killing motto to the extreme that she saves knocked out rebels from falling off the train! Don’t mind getting a few injuries from that. Yeah, some talk about the war and how the rebels felt betrayed and it never ended for them, blah, blah, blah. Then her brooch falls off during the fight. Right into the hands of the rebel leader. It’s her Kryptonite because now all the rebels gang up and beat her up. Why don’t they just throw her off instead of wanting to cut her head? Because of that, Dietfried is able to show up and shoot and throw them all off! Now he is pissed, chastising her that she even failed to protect herself. Is this the woman Gilbert died to protect? He tells her to die but she wants to follow Gilbert’s orders to live. He calls her a deadweight and the reason Gilbert died. She killed him. Violet responds that she too wanted to protect Gilbert. Amazingly rebel leader is still clinging on the edge. Anther rebel fires a mini bazooka. Violet protects him. For once her metal hands come in handy to deflect it.

Episode 13
Wow. A few more shots and her whole arm comes off! Must be worn from all that use. Rebel leader tries to jump off but Violet kicks him back! She almost loses her brooch but Dietfried catches it for her and returns it. Rebel leader thinks he has the last laugh because the train will be passing through a bridge in which a couple of bombs are placed. Dietfried tries to stop the train. Normal brakes don’t work. Violet operates the emergency brakes. With one hand. Then she jumps down to try and pry the bomb out. Oddly, Benedict handles the other bomb as he jumps down and flying kicks it off into the river!!! OMFG! Is he a super soldier too?! Meanwhile Violet can’t even pry it and her arm is tearing apart! Must be one strong glue. Eventually it comes off with her arm. Don’t worry, Benedict saves her from falling. Damn this guy must really be a super soldier. With the ceremony a success, true peace reigns. With Violet back with new arms and ghostwriting, she is advised by Cattleya to write a letter to herself. She doesn’t know what to write so we have this flashback of her with Gilbert before the final battle. She thought he wanted to transfer her away and had no use for her. Because she insisted his orders are everything, he scolds her that if he had seen her as a tool, he wouldn’t have taken her in. He tried to explain the sad and frightened emotions she has right now but she doesn’t understand. He blames himself turning her like this. As Violet is still unsure what to write, Hodgins just tell her perhaps a sentence would do.

Violet is surprised when Dietfried wants to see her (sorry it’s not Gilbert). He takes her to his home to meet his senile mom who thinks Gilbert is still alive. Violet assures he is still alive and shows the brooch. Mother tells Violet it isn’t her fault and is not her burden to bear. Dietfried had many times told to give up on him but as his mother how could she? He is definitely alive. In her heart. Even if it is painful to remember him, she will think about him the rest of her life so as not to forget him. Okay Violet. Try not to hold back your tears so I can cry too :’(. As she leaves, Dietfried gives his final orders for her to live and then die. Best Violet reply ever: She doesn’t need orders anymore. The Air Show Day must be popular since people write letters and a plane randomly drops them all over town and you pick up whatever you read. Interesting ones to note are Erica hinting she has someone she likes, Benedict wanting to take over Hodgins’ position and Cattleya reading aloud Hodgins’ embarrassing letter that he consider his staffs as his children and himself as their papa. Of course we hear Violet’s letter addressed to Gilbert. It might sound she is still in deny that she believes he is still alive somewhere out there. That is because she will continue to live and if she so happens to chance upon him one day (hopefully not in heaven), she will let him know she now understands a little what I love you means. Damn Violet, you crying some more makes me wanna cry some more!!! Oh what the heck, a little more tears wouldn’t hurt.

Episode 14 (OVA)
Taking place when Violet is a ghostwriting noob, Violet attends an opera concert. The conductor, Ardu Morini notices her in the crowd. That kind of beauty definitely stands out. At the backstage, Ardu introduces Violet to Irma Fellicha, the opera singer who hired her ghostwriting skills. However Irma wants to use the alias Marieta to write a letter addressed to a man named Modest. Here’s another catch: She wants Violet to type it out herself. Of course Irma had to reject her many times as it sounds like a military report, outdated and repetitive. Each time Violet tries to do more research but ends up getting rejected. So much so Violet stands at a corner unsure what to do! Like a dunce? She tells Iris and Erica about it but they themselves can’t help out with this complicated task. When Violet meets Ardu, she is told Irma isn’t writing a letter but the lyrics of a song that she wants to sing at the climax of the next opera. Violet tells this to her colleagues and indeed it looks more like a screenplay. Benedict suggests all of them pitch in to write a large letter for the song. I know many hands make light work but too many cooks spoil the broth… Keep trying. Meanwhile Ardu sees Irma and tells her he has already given up but she insists she hasn’t. When Violet shows the ‘masterpiece’ to Ardu, he believes this might be what Irma is looking for. He brings her to watch Irma rehearsing. Violet finds it strange that the opera’s setting is in current times instead of traditional. It is supposed to signal to the people that they live in an era that war is over but the people’s hearts are frozen and cannot move on. The climax is for the protagonist to read the letter but Ardu couldn’t write something of that calibre to convince her. It was when Ardu’s friend, a teacher of a school who trains Dolls recommended Violet. Yes, she is that teacher who coached Violet.

In order to know more about Irma, Violet follows her? Stalker? When Irma learns that Violet has someone dear from the military, she starts to reveal her own. There was a man she was in love with, Fugo. He is Ardu’s son. He promised that he will come back but you know, war doesn’t discriminate against its victims. He is currently listed as missing and Irma hopes he would return despite knowing the overwhelming odds he would not. She just can’t give up. Oh, they’re at the train station as they watch relieved couples reunite. Cue to pull heartstrings. As Violet ponders about all this, the old postman guy, Roland talks to her. He mentions about letters are meant to be delivered otherwise they are returned to the sender. This doesn’t mean it is because they work in a postal company. Roland shows her a warehouse filled with lots of returned letters. Violet is shocked to read some of them. All of them containing “I love you”. Letters that will never reach its intended reader. Now that Violet has an idea, she starts typing. She shows it to Irma and this is what she wants, so much so she cries. Nobody would have thought of the day Violet could actually write this. Not even Violet herself. We hear Irma singing this lovely song on stage, incorporating the words of the letter. Violet and her colleagues attend the opera that ends with a standing ovation.

Evergreen Feelings Via Letters
Sob, sob. Sniff, sniff… Maybe I’m getting old. How long has it been since I have watched an anime that has very long periods of sadness or one that continues to force the tears out of my eyes right till the end. A real tearjerker right till the end. That mixed feelings of sadness as well as happiness when we finally reach the end of the series. It isn’t even a very tragic or sad show to begin with but it really touches your heart. When a journey ends, a new one begins. This is very much true for the titular character herself. But I guess for us, that is as far as we can accompany her on this journey. Any more we might need another load of tissues. I don’t think my heart and eyes can take it any more of the crying.

The overall story might sound ordinary. A fighting machine trying to find the meaning of love and trying to live as a normal human being while coming to terms with reality. Thanks to its pacing as well as how the story is being told, I was never bored and more intrigued to know more about it. Okay, not to say that I was 100% glued to the screen and watching with baited breath anxious and eager to know what is going to happen next. But it was done well and interestingly enough for me to stay put and hoping to find the answers along with Violet. Not the answer to whether Gilbert is dead (that question is still up in the air considering the excuse of his body was never found), but to whether Violet could actually overcome this obstacle that is hindering her progress in life and move forward. Thankfully she did. It would have been a real tragedy had she not and I believe it would not have sit well with viewers. We watched Violet from the start and hoped to see her grow as a character and to see her forever dwell in her past and self-destruct would be an insult.

Therefore some of the episodes might feel like standalone or fillers. Especially when Violet is sent to somewhere to ghostwrite. It may look disconnected at first but if you watch closely and connect the less than obvious dots together, you can see it all forms one big story for Violet. Thus every ghostwriting job is not just to fill in the extra screen time but it helps advances the plot and the direction in life for Violet. I might be getting old because the later episodes where Violet is despatched to ghostwrite like Oscar and Anne’s episode, it gets even more emotional for me to watch and it really hit close to home and pulled the heartstrings.

I’m sure the series is subtly hinting about the use of letters to convey feelings. With electronic technology so advanced in our world, old fashion letters are dying out. Who sends love letters these days? Let alone postcards or greeting cards. Do we even send them? So the theme of letters and typing them using the typewriter (I bet a lot of youngsters of the new generation don’t even know what this is. They’ll probably think it is some fashionable and bulky keyboard) makes this series stands out on its own. That is why I am thinking that the producers of this series whom I read went as far as to create their own alphabet system (actually, just change the Roman letters into some other pattern), if we were to live in this world, we would definitely be illiterate and need a ghostwriter! Quite impressive. Also, having such alphabets mean we can’t clearly proofread what is on the letter and criticise any inconsistencies in its contents. Damn…

As you know, Violet as the main character who is even the name of this anime is given a lot of the limelight. She is the main focus and is given a lot of development and screen time to flesh out her character. Before I get to her, what I want to say is that many of the other characters in that sense feels a bit neglected. Of course we have Iris and Erica being given an episode to focus on their own issues but that is only if it involves Violet somehow. Hence the other minor supporting characters feel like they are not significant especially those at Hodgins’ company. I was wondering about the feud between Cattleya and Benedict and if there was any chemistry between them or even Cattleya with Hodgins but those might look more like distraction than anything. After all, if we get too deep into those characters, Violet will not be fleshed out properly so I’m going with the reason that these characters don’t get too much focus for the benefit of Violet. Yeah, you can’t have everything.

Violet as the main character is an intriguing watch. We see her transform from an emotionless killing tool into one that could think for herself. It is both interesting and heart wrenching to see her go through life and the circumstances stacked against her. She might not be in the most unfortunate of circumstances but we could ‘blame’ Gilbert being the main obstacle in her life. Her life basically revolves around him. Gilbert knows how dangerous that would be and tried to set her free. It is sad to see her not being able to get over the death of Gilbert at first but as you know, she can’t keep crying over his dead body. Oh wait. They never found it. Only with the acceptance of Gilbert’s death could Violet move on as the thought of any chance of him returning to her is the biggest reason why she is being held back. Thank goodness for all those ghostwriting experiences, right?

Talking about Violet’s ghostwriting skills, at first it was amusing to see Violet as a very blunt and straight in your face character. Making it even more amusing is how she can say it with that poker face. Violet looks so much more beautiful if she smiled often and just eking that out feels like hitting the jackpot. Because it is most of the time that poker face or her crying face. It was unbelievable at first that she could pass her ghostwriting school with that fluke letter. It remains to me as the only unbelievable part of the series (there are many more like that skydiving down to the train to warn her colleagues but this is by far the most farfetched one) only because to advance the plot. Imagine if we have to wait a few years for Violet to turn pro, we aren’t that patient, are we? Sure, she learns fast but just like how there are things that can only be conveyed in letters (and vice versa), there are some things you can’t master overnight.

Therefore Violet becoming a ghostwriter is no surprise a blessing in disguise to the lives that she touched. She might still have her problems but she helps bring the emotions of loved ones together and bring them hope. Sometimes it feels like before she could solve her own problem, she has to help others and learn from it. Only then she has earned enough experience to move on. And hence we see Violet being freed from the chains known as Gilbert and living her life not because he told her to but rather because she wants to. I figure that Dietfried being the ‘antagonist’ and the only one who hates Violet (even enemies who fought her don’t want to mess with her) doesn’t really hates her. He might seem like putting the blame on her for killing his brother but I feel that it is more along the lines of him blaming himself for being unable to prevent his death. Violet was the convenient tool to channel that sadness and anger. Every time she says Gilbert’s name and to the point of seeing her face, the pain of remembering his dead brother is too much to bear. Because Gilbert and Violet became somewhat inseparable until his death.

One last thing about Violet, although she did made some improvements, her past is ultimately shrouded in mystery. Conveniently she is given that amnesiac treatment so that we are not tied down to that cliché when a main character starts remembering her past and then she goes berserk or something changes. Hence her past does not bog her down in this sense as fat as this series is concerned. While in a way that is good, this also gives a problem for those who really want to know how Violet came about. How did she became a killing machine that is so adept in fighting and killing, she could have been the one (wo)man army to take down nations whoever her superior is. So, who trained Violet to be that indispensable fighting machine? If it is the military, wouldn’t they want to claim her? Remember, it is claimed that she is found. So did some alien drop her on this continent and left? I think it would be an insult if they ever make a back story of her with something like that. A princess from an alien world being exiled. Yeah, that would really be unsettling.

Oh, a question I pondered for a while: How come the medical technology here is just advanced enough to give Violet her mechanical hands and move it like as though it is her own. I don’t know the medical state and technology now in the series but it still looks ancient enough because there are still people dying of some disease that could have been prevented or at least treated with our real world technology. I’m not a medical expert but this is what I feel. Because of that, sometimes I think that Violet having mechanical hands is just a minor novelty. Just to get people who see her for the first time to be in awe and fascination. Because imagine if she has normal flesh and blood hands, the story and plot will still proceed as normal without any fuss but it would be less stellar because no robotic hands. It’s not like her mechanical hands hide some machine gun or buzzsaw, right? Besides, before she had mechanical hands, she was already moving faster and punching and kicking harder than any ordinary soldier and only got the pair after the war ended. Besides, I don’t see other amputee soldiers. Did Violet only get special medical technology because she’s beautiful? Because if there were other soldiers fitted with mechanical arms, you’d be seeing them around and the military would try to reuse them again as long as you’re not dead.

On a trivial note, flowers seem to be the theme of this series as many of the characters are named after flowers or have relations to them. Obviously as we see how Violet was named so, but do you know in the language of flowers, violet means innocence and the thought of love? Yeah, that seems to fit Violet’s image very well. As for Cattleya’s surname, French author Charles Baudelaire wrote a book called Les Fleurs Du Mal (The Flowers Of Evil). Speaking of names, I find it odd that Hodgins’ first name is of a female. Cattleya teased him once about it but I was really curious to know the history behind his name. Maybe his mom wanted a girl but a boy came out instead. Some mysteries we will never know…

Aside the story, the other biggest draw of the series is the art and animation. Everything is really gorgeous and breath-taking. The sceneries, backgrounds, the lighting effects, the weather and even the characters too look quite good. It is a nice eye candy if you like your setting to be post-war European style. Of course with this anime being produced by Kyoto Animation, there seems to be many character designs that seemed taken from their other works. Most notably, Hibike! Euphonium. So aside the very Saber-like design of the titular character, for most of the other characters I can’t help think how all of them looked like from that said anime. As though the brass band has been disbanded and now they find themselves with jobs in this world. For example, the young Anne looks like Hazuki and Charlotte has that uncanny resemblance to Yuuko. Doesn’t Cattleya look like Asuka without the glasses while Benedict and Shuuichi might be long lost relatives separated by a different anime? This might be a long shot but I do see Kumiko in Maria. But aside all this, the artwork is quite beautiful and to behold.

Voice acting helps in bringing out the drama and emotional side of the series. They’ve done quite a good job in portraying their characters. Like Yui Ishikawa who does a fine job as Violet, you might wonder why her poker face and voice is familiar. That’s because she was also the voice behind Shingeki No Kyojin’s Mikasa. Damn, I can see the resemblance between both characters. Casts that I recognize are Takehito Koyasu as Hodgins, Minori Chihara as Erica, Kenjiro Tsuda as Damian and Youko Hikasa as Irma but I couldn’t for Haruka Tomatsu’s Iris. On a side note, Ayako Kawasumi who was the voice of Saber, made a cameo as Anne’s mom.

The rest of the casts are Aya Endou as Cattleya (Miyuki in Lucky Star), Hidenobu Kiuchi as Dietfried (Ryouhei in Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn), Daisuke Namikawa as Gilbert (Rock in Black Lagoon), Kouki Uchiyama as Benedict (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Azusa Tadokoro as Luculia (Kotori in Gokukoku No Brynhildr), Sumire Morohoshi as Anne (Seira in GJ-Bu), Megumi Nakajima as Charlotte (Ruri in Sacred Seven), Mami Koyama as Alberta (Balalaika in Black Lagoon), Subaru Kimura as Spencer (Gian in Doraemon), Shintarou Asanuma as Aiden (Tsuda in Seitokai Yakuindomo), Yuuto Uemura as Leon (Juugo in Nanbaka), Satoshi Taki as Oscar and Takuya Inagaki as Emonn.

The opening theme is Sincerely by True. Rather and okay song. Fits the pace of the series well. But the one that takes the case is the ending song, Michishirube by Minori Chihara. This is very slow and lovely ballad and if you’re not ‘strong’ enough, you might end up crying listening to this. Thankfully, I didn’t. I don’t want to sound like I’m complaining, but since this is Minori Chihara we’re talking about singing this song, personally I have always found her voice to be one kind when she is singing. It’s not as bad like, say, Nano Ripe but it is something more on that lines. Also another beautiful song is the special ending theme in episode 9, Believe in by Aira Yuki. Even more powerful and emotional as it is played befittingly as the turning point for Violet. Violet Snow by Aira Yuki as the final episode’s ending theme stirs up even more emotions with its emotional ballad. Damn, everything so perfect to make the tears flow so easily!

Overall, this is a very beautiful and emotional story. Great story that would move your heart and almost to tears as well as instilling hope even in times where we could see there is nothing but losses and hopelessness. Despite I’m calling this series beautiful, it still isn’t perfect nor it is a masterpiece since it looks and sounds so beautiful that it fits more like a fairytale. So beautiful that it seems so fake? But inspiring nevertheless. Violet may not have truly grasped the meaning or love but she has naturally given to many others the warmth and love she sought to understand. In that sense, she is already loved. The love she was looking for has always been around her. You don’t see love. You feel it. Some things you just can’t really explain it in words or letters.

Fate/Apocrypha

May 6, 2018

Not really sure if they want to animate all the stories and spin-offs in the Fate universe. Because after the awesome Fate/Stay Night remake (or rather the other routes that was animated), now we have Fate/Apocrypha. Not being a Fate fan, as I understand this Fate story takes place when somebody stole the Holy Grail during its third war and hence there was no conclusion. It re-emerges during the same time when the original fifth edition was supposed to happen at Fuyuki. This time the organization who stole it declares war on the Mage Association and a new and different Holy War format begins. It is not just ever Master and Servant for themselves but each faction possessing each Servant class against each other. Well, the more the merrier?

Episode 1
Kairi Shishigou makes his way to the office of Rocco Belfaban, the head of summoning. We are told of the Holy Grail War system but that system collapsed during the third edition when a master tricked the German army and stole the Holy Grail. Its whereabouts are unknown and hence the subsequent Holy Grail War never happened. However recently it has been found. The Yggdmillennia clan of Romania declared they have it. Darnic Prestone Yggdmillennia who fought in the third Holy Grail War as a Master is believed to have kept it hidden for 60 years. He looks like he didn’t age… With that, Yggdmillennia has announced they will be seceding from the Mage Association and forming their own. Though 50 of their elite mages were sent to retrieve it, they were all slaughtered. Only a Servant could have done this. Shishigou will not become a Master in this next Holy Grail War. He will be the Master of the Red Faction. In the previous system we know, 7 Masters and their 7 Servants fight each other in a battle royale. Now, it will be 7 on 7. 7 Masters and their 7 Servants of the Red Faction (representing the Mages Association) against the 7 Masters and their 7 Servants of the Black Faction (Yggdmillennia clan). Rocco hands him a rare artefact that would enable him to summon a hero from the English history. The Red Faction’s supervisor is a church priest going by the name of Shirou Kotomine. Darnic talks to Avicebron (Black Caster) who is the unparalleled master of the golem arts. He is using homunculi as his servants to create them to avoid draining his power. Avicebron’s dream is not the Holy Grail but the original giant of the legends of his people. Completing his Noble Phantasm is all that matters to him. Several of the Yggdmillennia clan Masters summon their Servants. Shishigou finishes summoning Mordred (Red Saber) who is the heir of King Arthur.

Episode 2
Flashback shows Jeanne D’Arc being burnt at the stake after being accused as a witch. All she could do is pray to her God. Astolfo (Black Rider) is a cheeky and lively one as he seeks to get to know everybody else. The rest of her summoned servant comrades are Chiron (Black Archer), Frankenstein (Black Berserker) and Siegfried (Black Saber). Their Masters are Celenike Icecolle, Fiore Forvedge, Caules Forvedge and Gordes Musik respectively. Under the command Vlad Tepes (Black Lancer), they officially begin their war. All that is left is for the Jack The Ripper (Black Assassin) to arrive from London. Looks like she is leaving a trail of bodies in her path… Mordred warns Shishigou not to pry further into her past. Legend has it she betrayed King Arthur and killed him. Her wish is to pull out the legendary sword. That is all. Gordes is mad when Siegfried doesn’t tell him his wish since he has none and has accepted his death which was necessary. Shishigou goes to see Shirou. The latter introduces his Servant, Semiramis (Red Assassin). Shirou hopes to share knowledge and mentions they have identified the fifteenth Servant also known as the Ruler class whose role is to ensure a balanced Holy Grail War. Shirou wants them to meet the other Masters but Shishigou believes he can do this on his own and will take their own path. After they left, William Shakespeare (Red Caster) enters in his poetic fashion to inform that Spartacus (Red Berserker) has gone on a rampage alone to the Black Faction’s fortress to fight. Shishigou and Mordred are in one of Yggdmillennia’s towns. They are immediately surrounded by golems and homunculi. Despite their victory, the Yggdmillennia clan is watching to test their aptitude. Karna (Red Lancer) is summoned by Shirou to eliminate Ruler (Jeanne) who is bound to get in their way.

Episode 3
A homunculus sees how his other failed kind gets wasted. That fear breaks him out of his containment as he weakly crawls out. Meanwhile Astolfo is bored being sexed up by sex-crazy Celenike and goes off on his own. He stumbles upon that homunculus who collapsed from exhaustion and brings him to Charon’s room (since Celenike might just barge in anytime). He doesn’t intend to tell Avicebron or his Master, Roche Frain because it’s more fun that way. Karna engages with Jeanne but Siegfried pops up in time to protect her. As the Red and Black side fight, Gordes hopes for Jeanne to join his side but she remains neutral and will not interfere. We see snippets of Siegfried as a dragon slayer. He was hated by his country who wanted him dead. He accepted that in hopes his death will put an end to the war. As the sun rises, it seems Karna is considerate enough to note Gordes will not last. So they agree to put their match on hold and withdraw for now. Gordes would love to show Jeanne their base but she too declines. When the homunculus wakes up, he is already given something to think about. Because of his limited life (he will die in 3 years), it is best he decides what to do with it. Caules tries to get to know more about Frankenstein. Legend has it her master feared her after creating her. She chased him down in hopes to create another one like her for company but he refused. In the end, she killed herself via self-immolation. Caules’ wish is for the Akashic Records but if any of his family members die in the battle, his priority is to revive them. On the other hand, Fiore talks to Chiron about his wish. It is to regain immortality after Hydra’s venom robbed him for it. Fiore also tells him her ‘selfish’ wish. As she is paraplegic, implanting new legs means losing her mage powers. She wants both. As Spartacus inches closer to the castle, ignoring all warning shots, Vlad will have Darnic come up with a strategy that will turn him into their pawn.

Episode 4
Spartacus happily destroys all the golems as Atalanta (Red Archer) and Achilles (Red Rider) watch from afar. They feel odd to have not seen their own Masters’ face and have been ordered into this battle. Vlad easily disposes of Spartacus and has Darnic try to force a new contract on him into their faction. Siegfried and Berserker are tasked to intercept Atalanta and Achilles. Gordes is not amused that Siegfried is fighting for enjoyment. So he forces a Command Spell to make him use his Noble Phantasm. However he is promptly stopped by Darnic who admonishes him for wasting his Command Spell. With Chiron providing excellent range backup, the Red Faction duo are forced to retreat. During all that commotion, Astolfo tries to sneak the homunculus to escape. But nothing escapes the eyes of Avicebron as he informs everyone to bring that precious specimen back. Gordes and Siegfried intercept them. Astolfo fights Siegfried so the homunculus could escape. Gordes corners him and the homunculus fees the desire to live and prepares to fight back. Gordes panics and uses his magic might to strike back, killing him. When Siegfried wants to help the homunculus, Gordes opposes and is knocked out by him. Jeanne enters the scene, confused with the in-fighting. Siegfried was swayed by Astolfo’s words to help others on their own will and instead of just doing orders as Servants. To atone for it, Siegfried sacrifices himself and gives his heart to the homunculus. His wish for Jeanne is to keep him free. Siegfried disappears but with no regrets. The homunculus returns to life, shocked that he is still living. Jeanne introduces herself and swears to protect him.

Episode 5
Jeanne checks the homunculus and hears Siegfried’s heart is working fine. The other Masters and Servants seeking an explanation and are shocked to learn Siegfried died in this fashion. Jeanne reminds them this homunculus will not join the fight as he is unwilling. However he is not totally unrelated as he has Siegfried’s heart. If everyone attacks Jeanne, they will definitely lose. So Vlad offers her to join them but she remains neutral. As long as they fight honourably, she will not intervene. Astolfo is punished by getting his hands cuffed? That’s like a slap on the wrist. His last advice to the homunculus is to live since he is now allowed to. So the first order is to name himself. He settles for Sieg in honour for the one who gave his heart. Then he teaches him about food. Shirou learns that despite they lost their Berserker, the enemy’s Saber is also gone. They’re confused to what might have transpired. Astolfo is lightly tortured by Celenike. Not in the mood for sex? But Vlad intends to release Astolfo soon as punishing one who won’t repent is useless. Besides, it looks like they can re-contract Spartacus on their side. Their next problem is Jack The Ripper because her Master is found dead. Looks like some crazy woman is in possession of her and they’re playing house as mother and daughter. Jeanne explains to Sieg she wasn’t summoned by anyone but the Holy Grail. However she couldn’t construct her own body and is currently possessing the body of a French girl, Leticia who answered her plea. Even in battle, her body will not be harmed. She notes her failed summoning shows something is wrong with this war. Could it be she is summoned here not as a judge but for some other purpose? Sieg is still unsure what to do with his freedom. She suggests going back to where he came from. What about his other homunculi comrades? Noting he just didn’t want to die and his comrades never had the will to leave, she tells him never to return there. Jeanne leaves Sieg in the hands of a kind farmer, Serge. This is where they part. She knows she lied to him as he tells him to live peacefully because she has saw visions of him dying in the battlefield. She intends to fight that fate even if it means throwing away her wish. Shirou sees the other Masters of his faction. He tells the Holy Grail War has ended and that they have won. As part of the agreement, they will give him their Command Spells.

Episode 6
Flashback shows Mordred killing everyone to force Arthur to relinquish to throne. Unfortunately she got done in as Arthur tells her it is not because she is the son of a witch that she did not do so but rather she lacks the qualities to become one. Shishigou and Mordred are on site to investigate the case of serial murders. As told by El-Melloi II, all those who were killed were actually mages. They also have their magic drained. It is safe to assume this is a work of a Servant. It couldn’t be from their faction since all Red Servants have been summoned. It would be odd for Yggdmillennia to let this happen in their own backyard so it must be some third party. Shishigou then goes to the morgue to check on the corpses. All of them have their hearts gouged out. Looks like the perpetrator is bulking up on magic by eating them. As mages are being targeted, they are the perfect bait to lure them out. So that night as they wander about town, a strange fog suddenly shrouds the place. They are forced to get out since it is poison gas. Once in the clear, Jack could have almost sliced off Shishigou’s head without him suspecting anything had not Mordred reacted fast enough. Mordred and loli Jack engage in combat but the latter uses her agility and speed to her advantage. An explosive arrow fired by Chiron breaks them up. Jack has sustained injuries and escapes but Mordred is now targeting Chiron. She intercepts him and he knows better if he wants to win this, he cannot do it without injuries. Shishigou on the other hand encounters Fiore who is walking around in her exoskeleton that makes her look like Dr Octopus. She warns him to leave this place and will overlook his trespassing violation. Guess not. Shishigou surprises her by being reckless like throwing a grenade and then ramming her with a car! Is she done for seeing that all that’s left is for his bullets to reach her.

Episode 7
As expected, Caules saves her. Archer knows he has been cornered and will lose so he informs Fiore to retreat. With that, the battle ends. Sieg asks Serge the meaning of freedom. I suppose gramps have lots of experience but no definite answer because it is up to Sieg to find out what it is. Jeanne enters Shirou’s church but finds no one. She needs to meet him. Speaking of the Red Faction, looks like what’s left of their Servants have all gathered. It is time for the final fight but Shakespeare says he will not fight since it is not his style. He just wants to watch this battle and record it. So how is the Red Faction going to fight? Semiramis uses her Noble Phantasm. This floating fortress is actually the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Cool. They have the walking undead skeletons for the grunts too. The fortress stations itself near the Yggdmillennia’s castle. Vlad leads the Black Faction’s Servants and gives them roles in their upcoming attack. Sieg has thought hard and looks like he has decided on what he wants. With that, Serge allows him to leave (not knowing what it is but then again, why should he) and do as he wishes. Oh, take this belt of his with you. Conveniently it can fit his sword.

Episode 8
Atalanta destroys the homunculi and golem horde to clear the path for Achilles to bulldoze through. Then she supports Karna in his fight against Vlad. Vlad has the power of his homeland and he is powerful because the locals see him as a hero but Karna is the Sun God and has very strong armour. Achilles is stopped in his tracks from the golems. Then he tries to trace Chiron and face him. Once he does, he gets the shock of his life. Flashback shows Chiron was Achilles’ master as he taught him the ways of combat. He was then told about his heels as his weakness. He might be an immortal hero but his heels are still mortal. Sieg returns to the battlefield and helps treat a fellow wounded homunculus. He plans to help as many as he can and hopes to free them. They return to the castle since most of the rest are out fighting in the battlefield. Semiramis is not thrilled that Shirou is itching to join the fray. If he dies, her plans will fall apart. Shirou explains he wants to know if God is testing him. If He doesn’t allow his way, he will die. If everything goes well, it means He approves of his will and thus his wish upon the Holy Grail to grant mankind mercy and comfort. Semiramis then gives him permission to fight. Semiramis now deals with Astolfo who has flown close to the fortress. Mordred is mad that she is late to the battle so this gives her an excuse to drive madly? Hold on tight! Avicebron barely manages to make Spartacus under his command and convinces him that the Mage Association are the oppressors. He sends him out to destroy them. Frankenstein is thumping the undead in her path. She then stumbles into Shirou who offers her to join his side in place of Spartacus.

Episode 9
Darnic narrates he went to Japan to steal the Holy Grail. He got the Germans’ cooperation and then betrayed them. Now that he has sufficient magic, he will be able to open the gate to the Roots, the means to fulfil wishes and become the victor. Frankenstein rejects Shirou’s offer and fights him. Shirou will welcome her if she changes her mind so he fights with a sword that Shakespeare has tempered with. Crazy Spartacus crashes into Karna’s fight. Karna needs to concentrate on Vlad so he has Atalanta take care of him. I don’t think a few arrows into him can work. After all, Spartacus has very quick regenerative abilities. Sieg frees all the homunculi in the lab. Astolfo approaches Babylon but is shot down by Semiramis. Not sure if Sieg has super zoom vision because he could see Astolfo falling down. He is in a dilemma to go save him because he has to see through his responsibility of saving his brethren. The other homunculi assure they can take it from here. The permission Sieg needs to go to Astolfo’s aid. Mordred’s reckless driving almost crashed into Astolfo. I’m surprised that car which has been trashed can still run. Shishigou lets Mordred fight Astolfo as he gets out of here. Jeanne is trying to meet Shirou but Semiramis is trying to prevent that. Jeanne knows the Red Faction are trying to kill her and feels something is wrong. It would have been understandable if they wanted her aid to join their side but to rid of her? As Semiramis cannot stop her, she reports to Shirou so he has to flee and return. Frankenstein surprisingly pursues him so Shirou leaves it o Shakespeare to buy some time. He casts a spell on her. She sees her tragic past whereby her creator hated her. All she wanted was to be loved but he kept rejecting her and calling her a monster. So it was confusing when she sees him extending his hand and wanting her to stop fighting. She goes berserk beating the crap out of him. Caules is forced to use a Command Spell to calm her down. The enemy has escaped. Mordred learns and mocks how Siegfried pathetically died. This riles up Astolfo and he won’t forgive her for making fun of him. Semiramis’ powerful magic is still unable to stop Jeanne. So Shirou relays to Atalanta to lure and send Spartacus to fight against Jeanne. Mordred is about to finish Astolfo. But look who showed up? Sieg is going to fight Mordred?

Episode 10
Astolfo is not amused. He didn’t save him so he could die saving him. So much about the freedom to choose, huh? Now that they are both liabilities, they could have been toasted had not Caules using another Command Spell on Frankenstein to attack Mordred. But after all that hammering, nothing happens. Frankenstein is incapacitated after Mordred counter attacks. Then she kills her off. Now Sieg is mad. Amazing his puny sword can put a dent in her armour. Too bad he too gets killed off. Right in the heart. Oh, now Astolfo is getting mad. Wanna have a go? Shishigou interrupts her to remind her if she had ascertain Frankenstein is dead. Oh, body missing. Frankenstein sneaks up on her and restrains her. Caules uses his final Command Spell so that Frankenstein could release all her limiters and do a suicidal Noble Phantasm move to take out Mordred. After all that power explosion, just a big crater. Mordred is still there. Frankenstein’s gone. Caules can only regret he should have expected the enemy too has Command Spells. During the blast, some of Frankenstein’s power went through Sieg. This means Sieg seeing visions of Siegfried who lived his entire life trying to grant others wishes till his death. So what is his wish? Siegfried asks that same question back to him. Then a sword stuck in the ground appears before Sieg. He is told to pick it up. He can’t. Siegfried asks his reason for fighting. He doesn’t know. He just wants the power to help others. With that, he pulls it out. Mordred and Astolfo are shocked to see Siegfried before them. Is he revived? More accurately explained by Shirou, he possessed Sieg’s body. A normal human would have died but being a homunculus makes it possible. Not sure if Shirou is being overconfident because he doesn’t intend to help Mordred as he thinks Siegfried will not last long. Shishigou suggests using a Command Spell to enhance her skills for this fight. Both Sabers clash. Time to power up. Is this some light sabre show now?

Episode 11
Atalanta leads Spartacus to attack Jeanne. His Noble Phantasm is to transfer any damage receive into power. This explains why he is now some ugly ballooned monster. Mordred is not pleased her Noble Phantasm didn’t wipe out Siegfried. But he has taken enough damage and is at his limit. This means he reverts back to Sieg. Shishigou tells Mordred to get out of there. Looks like Spartacus is going to explode from all that power. Jeanne’s barrier protects and saves a lot of lives and damages. The impaling and burning fight between Vlad and Karna comes to an abrupt halt when Shirou calls Karna to come back. Something happens back at the castle. It looks like Babylon is stealing the Holy Grail. Darnic did not expect this. He narrates about the prophesized downfall of the Yggdmillennia clan 80 years ago. His dream of becoming a first class mage vanished. He made many allies, betrayed them and feed on the souls of others to extend his own life so as to get the Holy Grail. He will not let anyone else have it. Vlad, Chiron and Avicebron infiltrate Babylon. They face off with Karna, Achilles and Atalanta. Vlad’s rematch with Karna seems a bit off. Vlad notices his power is not working well here. Indeed. This is not his territory. Flashback shows Vlad talking to Darnic about the ridiculous fantasies of people throughout the generations that tainted his legacy. His wish to win this war is to erase that disgrace. He warns Darnic never to use his Command Spell to force him to use his Noble Phantasm even if he is at the verge of defeat. Darnic agreed at first but looks like he has a change of heart. What he protects is Yggdmillennia and what he wants is the Akashic Records. For that he needs the Holy Grail. Sorry, Vlad. Gotta use the Command Spell.

Episode 12
Flashback shows Shirou knows Darnic and has waited 60 years of hardship to finally end all this. Oh, something about Iri being dead too. With Vlad not at optimum, Darnic reminds him about his Noble Phantasm. Of course Vlad is not pleased and sternly reminds him. However Darnic will not let his wish slip away and reminds Vlad of his place as a Servant. Then he uses a Command Spell to make him use his Noble Phantasm and turn him into the legendary Dracula! Vlad attacks him and tries to suck his blood but this is all part of Darnic’s plan. Using another Command Spell, he has their souls fused together. Now Darnic and Vlad are one as Dracula! Dracula then bites and infects other homunculi and turn them into similar familiars. The other Servants join forces to take him down but he is formidable. Jeanne arrives and understands the situation. She bestows the Servants power to take down Dracula in this temporary truce. The epic fight is formidable but when it seemed Karna is going to deal the finishing blow, suddenly the Red Faction’s Servants start to weaken. It looks like Shirou has extracted the Noble Phantasm from the other Masters. I thought this was already done? And of all times, now? Jeanne tries to chase down Dracula as he makes his way to where the Holy Grail is. This is where he encounters Shirou. He is shocked he is still alive because he should have been dead during the Fuyuki Holy Grail War. Uhm, surprise?! Shirou then uses his purification swords to purify and turn him into ashes. When Jeanne arrives, she is shocked to see Shirou. He is actually a Servant and also of the Ruler class. She asks why he is breaking the rules. Because he couldn’t help anyone if he was bound by them. Jeanne wants to know what is his plan, the plan of Amakusa Shirou Tokisada. To save all of mankind.

Episode 13
Astolfo has a bone to pick with Sieg. But in the end, she is glad he is alright. Too bad now Celenike has got a bone to pick with Astolfo for sullying her name. Shirou argues he has planned and waited for 60 years for this chance to happen so there is no way in hell he is going to turn back now. With the other Servants present, Achilles and Atalanta want to know what happened to their respective Masters. Shirou tells them about the Command Spell transfer agreement that makes him their Master. They don’t agree and attack. Semiramis and Karna protect Shirou and feel the need to make clear a few points. Shirou starts off by suggesting Chiron and Avicebron defect. Celenike uses her Command Spell to force Astolfo to kill Sieg and wants to see his tormented face. When Sieg opposes, she torments him. Celenike is about to use her Command Spell and detail how he should kill him slowly when she is suddenly decapitated by Mordred for being too noisy! And then she leaves. WTF? So she killed her but not Astolfo because technically she is noisy and not the enemy? Why was she nearby in the first place? With Celenike dead, Astolfo is going to disappear but Sieg wants him to make a contract with him. Somehow he has Command Spells on his hand and will be her Master. No regrets? Okay. Then it’s done. Avicebron agrees to join Shirou on a condition he doesn’t hurt his Master. Avicebron will put his dream above pride and morality so Chiron turns on him. Mordred joins the fray by attacking Shirou. She considers him the enemy the moment he tried to deceive her Master. The fight lasted long enough for the rest to escape. With that, Avicebron makes his contract with Shirou. The other Yggdmillennia family members are arguing with the homunculi defectors who want to live. Just in time for Sieg to join in and argue on their behalf that they don’t need salvation but the freedom to choose. Oh, also why does Astolfo introduce himself as his Servant sound like he is his boyfriend or something? Fiore gets word from Chiron about Avicebron’s detection. She needs to warn Roche but where is he? Happily giving Avicebron some component he asked for.

Episode 14
Shirou retreats now that he has the Holy Grail. Jeanne must be having a headache now that Sieg is Astolfo’s Master and he can turn into Siegfried too. She has no choice but to accept him as a participant in this battle. As though he is going to listen to her if she says no. Avicebron uses Roche as the core for his ultimate golem. Roche is very disappointed of this betrayal as he looked up to him as his teacher. Don’t say Avicebron didn’t warn you he was never interested in the Holy Grail in the first place. With Roche absorbed into the golem, Avicebron begins bringing paradise to this world by destroying it? So his Eden is turning the surrounding areas into some creepy forest? The other Servants attack the golem but it’s not use. It absorbs. Especially life. Touch it and it absorbs you. Although Chiron aims and kills Avicebron, the latter is not worried. His role was already over when he activated his golem. He puts his trust in it to bring forth paradise. Jeanne has an obligation to destroy it since the golem is beyond the scope of the Holy Grail War. However she lacks enough strength to take it down and time is running out because when the surrounding area is turned into Eden, the golem will become immortal. Fiore needs Chiron to use his Noble Phantasm when the time is right but he needs at least one more Servant to help out. Jeanne summons Mordred to assist. Chiron relays his plans how the Servants have their specific roles in taking down the golem and this includes Sieg temporarily turning into Siegfried. In short, the battle ends with all of them playing their part well and destroy the golem’s core before it could reach immortality. Jeanne is worried about Sieg but he looks fine. Later Fiore meets Shishigou. For now they team up.

Episode 15
Achilles and Atalanta are back in Shirou’s side but have questions. They are assured their Masters are safe as they all reveal their wish upon the Holy Grail. Shirou begins detailing his plan to save mankind. Meanwhile the Yggdmillennia clan is holding talks with Jeanne and Shishigou about Shirou who might know a way to make the Holy Grail grant his wish. This means if he has this twisted idea that salvation is killing everyone, the Holy Grail has the capability to do that. Later Chiron talks to Caules and asks if Fiore is fit to be the leader of Yggdmillennia. He is talking about if he could really kill someone. Caules tells him about some pet dog she used to have. It was forbidden in a mage’s house but she tended and loved it. Then when it died, she started crying. Chiron tells Caules he will be the only one left to support her after he is gone. Jeanne replenishes Command Spells for Shishigou and Sieg. She warns Sieg not to use the final Command Spell. Because his situation is a miracle, the last one would cause a problem. There is no such thing in this world as a free miracle. This prompts Shishigou to remember his own family shame as he tells it to Mordred. Something about his lineage became great necromancers but it was also a curse. Kids they adopted and try to pass their magic crest poisoned them instead. His wish is to have descendants. Shishigou and Mordred will again travel and act independently from the Yggdmillennia. Their plan is while they are busy fighting the Red Faction, they’ll sneak in and steal the Holy Grail. Achilles and Atalanta discover Shakespeare knew about Shirou’s plan all along. He is helping because it is interesting. Interesting because despite all the suffering and losses he has gone through, he is still going to save mankind and not abandon them.

Episode 16
There are black patches over Sieg’s body. Chiron examines him and it is believed he is slowly transforming into Siegfried. As he has transformed into him twice for a total of 5 minutes, the magic inside his heart is mixing and eating away his body. But they can’t tell him what to do. It’s his choice. We take a detour to tackle Jack’s case. She has been on a killing spree and last night alone she killed 8 mages and gouge out their hearts. Fiore has to seek Jeanne’s help since they lack the manpower and have to solve this in 3 days before they attack Babylon. The problem is, Chiron and Fiore cannot remember Jack’s face and think her Noble Phantasm that leaves no impression. Investigating the death site of one of the mages, Caules uses his trance to see the mage’s final moments. This means reliving the excruciating pain. Noting that he has been tortured before he died, Caules then realizes that Fiore is in danger. He calls her but cliché signal is out. It seems Jack was torturing some to find out codes to disable the castle’s security. You don’t say because Jack is already here and using her poison mist to kill those who inhale too much. Don’t look now Fiore because here’s Jack! Right timing from Sieg prevents Fiore from being Jack’s latest victim. With reinforcements coming, Jack retreats but vows to kill Sieg next time. At this point Fiore already cannot remember Jack’s face.

Episode 17
The plan is for Jeanne and Sieg to be decoys to lure out Jack before other Servants take her out. It is believed Reika Rikudo is currently her Master. She was supposed to be a sacrifice for the original Master but she turned into a serial killer instead. Jeanne and Sieg experience life in this little town. Jeanne learns Sieg volunteered for this mission to avenge his fellow homunculi. He has no regrets as Jeanne relates she threw everything away but was eventually burnt at the stake. Despite all, she still believes in the good of people. Meanwhile Achilles questions Shirou’s goal to save all mankind. He calls him a liar because he claims he got this goal after being betrayed and killed. Should he have hated mankind even more? He once hated everything but for the sake of mankind’s salvation, he had to throw away everything. Even his hatred for his killers. This means he will save all mankind, whether good or bad at all cost. Sieg poses a question for Jeanne that if Shirou knows a way to save mankind with the Holy Grail, shouldn’t Jeanne help him? She believes all of them as a Heroic Spirit aren’t supposed to lead mankind but merely guide them. Jeanne doesn’t hate those who burnt her at the stake. She can’t. That’s why she still protected Sieg despite being useless. Sieg feels grateful that he wants to repay her with his body? Wait. What?! Awkward talk gets interrupted by poisonous mist. Looks who is here. Sieg goes to save a woman who claims she lost her child. She turns out to be Reika as she shoots him in the heart. Somehow he doesn’t die so she runs away. Jack fights Jeanne but is shocked when her lethal strike doesn’t kill her. Something about resistance to curses is one of her abilities. Jack plays dirty by throwing in innocent civilians. However she is injured in the leg with Chiron’s arrow. She manages to get away as Reika carries her off. However Reika spots Atalanta and uses her body to protect Jack against her arrow. Right in the heart. Jack becomes distraught and pleads to her not to be left alone so Reika uses her remaining Command Spells to have her be fine without her. After that Atalanta fires a shot in Jack’s back. But Jack gets back up and explodes? Now they go back in time and place where Jack was living in hellish conditions.

Episode 18
Understandably Atalanta is freaked out with so many children surrounding her and wanting to be loved. Flashback on Atalanta’s past, she was tossed away by her father for simply being a girl but saved by Artemis. That is why she is kind to all and vows to love all children. Sieg is also haunted seeing this nightmare, especially the children of London being killed or rather consumed by River Thames. He becomes disillusioned with this world where nobody helps nobody. Jeanne too sees this but she is not scared. Although the children want her to save them, she will not and will destroy them. Atalanta cuts in and argues the children are not evil but victims. Jeanne agrees that she is not a saint as many view her as because she too has tainted her hands with blood. This world they are seeing now is just an illusion created by spiritual residue and by ‘saving’ them only means continuing their suffering. Atalanta still refuses to believe and is still murder. The children then confront Jeanne to confirm if she would really kill them. Yes. So you can move on. The children agree to be destroyed by her. Hmm… Feels like exorcism? Jeanne is disturbed by Jack’s last words that she finds her pitiful too. Atalanta is now broken, accusing Jeanne for abandoning the children. As she tries to fight her, other Servants enter the fray. Atalanta escapes and won’t forgive the evil that is Jeanne. Sieg is still confused. What he saw were normal humans, not mages. Jeanne explains the evil of humanity. If she was not burnt at the stake, she would have continued to kill others. She hopes he will not judge people and not give up thinking they cannot be changed. Hating is easy but loving is very hard. After all the despair and disillusionment, she still hasn’t given up. Sieg wonders why Atalanta calls her evil. Good and evil are complex and it depends on where you stand, your view will be different. Sieg had believed the world was always beautiful until that nightmare. While that will forever stay in him, he will not give up in finding the answer he seeks.

Episode 19
Yggdmillennia is planning to assault Babylon as soon as tomorrow but the best plan they can come up is an attack via plane? Easy target. Astolfo then mentions he has a Noble Phantasm that would nullify all magic. Just that he forgot its name. But he knows the condition to summon it and it is on a moonless or new moon night. However that will only happen in 3 days and by then Babylon would have left their airspace. Caules talks to Fiore who is indecisive. He notes this fight will make or break her as a mage. He is hinting she should just be a normal person as she cannot handle death. Remember that dog story? She sure does. Otherwise, where would it have to go? So that’s why. Is it an insult or compliment if he prefers her to stay as a useless girl? They do a process to transfer her magic circuits to him. Painful and why must it be that dog episode? Anyway it is successful and Caules is now the new head of Yggdmillennia. For those who have been wondering if Astolfo is a guy or girl, this confirms it. Jeanne had the misfortune of seeing him stepping out of bath. Shriek at the dick… Sieg and Astolfo bump into Mordred in town. Sieg asks her bluntly about humans. To her, they are not worth saving. Sieg loves humans until Jack’s episode. He is now unsure. Mordred chides him as there is now right or wrong answer. You do what you want, how you want it. Astolfo asks if she would like to be a good or bad king. Good of course. Later Astolfo tells this to Jeanne. He believes Sieg should continue to love people. This prompts Jeanne to ask if he fancies Sieg but is asked back the same question. Why is she blushing? With Sieg still hesitant, Jeanne has to remind him Sieg is Sieg. He is wonderful as he is and doesn’t have to be a Servant or Master. Later Jeanne continues to ponder and worry about Sieg. She can’t help wonder why she doesn’t want him to fight or die so badly. Can I guess this is the work of love? Mordred asks Shishigou for advice to be a good king. Well, he hasn’t served one but here goes. He believes he must face her father even if she hates and adores him. If she wants to surpass him, then analyse everything. This upcoming battle would most likely be the last. Once it’s over, he’ll get his pay and Mordred will get his wish to challenge the sword and be king.

Episode 20
Caules leads his team to go after Babylon. Gordes and other homunculi are left in charge of the castle. Sieg believes he will not return here regardless if they win or lose so he says goodbye to his fellow brethren. Caules goes over the plan to intercept Babylon. Before Shirou heads into the Holy Grail to begin his salvation, he uses a Command Spell to Shakespeare not to write a tragedy about him. After Shirou leaves, Semiramis questions Shakespeare if he wants to see Shirou succeed or fail. He throws that question back at her. She would like him to succeed. He chides her for a textbook answer. Hence she gives her true answer that she would like to see a holy man fall into despair. But more importantly she wants to see the sight he wishes to see so much. How far will he go? How much will he show her? Shakespeare recognizes this adoration as unintended love and would definitely be a hit play. She would have killed him if not the enemies have arrived. Uhm, an army of Boeing airplanes? I am guessing they are all on autopilot mode. Semiramis gives orders to the other Servants on their roles. However Atalanta rejects hers. She wants to take on Jeanne. Achilles assures Semiramis he will cover for her part. The battle begins with Achilles having his rematch with Chiron while Atalanta becomes obsessed in taking down Jeanne. If they’re taking down so many airplanes, I wonder if the people below would be scared thinking it is raining crashing airplanes. Chiron questions Achilles’ goal to follow Shirou’s mad plan. Achilles replies he has been shown it is a worthy bet. Shirou isn’t annihilating men nor selecting who to live. Chiron calls it foolish because it sounds impossible. If that is the case, shouldn’t the purpose of the Holy Grail make the impossible possible? Chiron immediately understands what Shirou is doing. Shirou is going through a field where dead souls are trying to corrupt him but since he has casted away his hatred, he waltzes through until he reaches Heaven’s Feel. A priestess pops up and asks if he would like to activate the Third Magic. Shirou wants to make all of mankind’s souls turn material.

Episode 21
Chiron and Achilles are at odds with each other’s ideals regarding Shirou’s method in using the Holy Grail. Somehow Astolfo remembers his Noble Phantasm’s name and is able to chant it and nullifies Semiramis’ Babylon lasers. Since Karna is hot on their tails, Sieg transforms into Siegfried to keep Karna busy and his wish to fight Black Saber again. Astolfo then goes on a laser destroying spree but not without taking huge damage. He crashes into the garden area and Semiramis would have killed him had not crazy Mordred crashes her jet onto the place! Achilles invokes his Noble Phantasm to turn the area into his advantage. Both men decide to fight each other as warriors. Literally a fist fight. That soon turns into a boxing match. In the end, Achilles is able to deal the finishing blow to Chiron. Before Chiron dies, he unleashes his Noble Phantasm. Something about his Sagittarius constellation which means his bows will always be drawn and doesn’t need to call it. A beam strikes Achilles and although it doesn’t kill him, it takes away his immortality. Now we go back to Atalanta who is still b*tching about killing Jeanne. In her desperate attempt, she uses an item to stab herself in the heart to activate her Noble Phantasm, turning into a beast.

Episode 22
Sieg runs out of fuel to keep Siegfried materialized. Karna then calls out Caules and needs him for a favour. He wants to rescue their original Masters. They might have dropped out of this war but they are still the ones who summoned them. Caules also has his demands that if he cannot defeat Siegfried, he must let them go since it will be unworthy of him to defeat low level foes. After Caules has secured the Masters, Karna tells Sieg of his original promise to fight Siegfried. And hence Sieg transforms once more for a powerfully epic battle finale. Back to more Atalanta b*tching, Jeanne will not deny her wish to save all the children and have them live in a happy world. But she cannot condone her resorting to evil methods to achieve that. The fight is interrupted with Achilles taking over. He has Jeanne move along while it is time for him to put a stop to Atalanta’s madness. Jeanne confronts Semiramis and believes her wish to rule the world after Shirou saves it is a lie. Because an empress is unneeded in a saved world. More Karna-Siegfried epic battle. The tables are turned when Astolfo uses Achilles shield to help Siegfried. Prior to this, Achilles after his victory over Chiron, gave his Noble Phantasm to her as promise made to Chiron. Not really sure what this whole world thingy Noble Phantasm this is but it made Karna one step too late as Siegfried stabs him. Karna is satisfied to have fought like a hero the entire time. We also end Atalanta-Achilles fight as both their attacks take each other out. Atalanta knew her ways were wrong and wouldn’t save the children but what else could she do? If abandoning those children was the right choice, this world isn’t worth living. Even so, Achilles wanted to stop her from falling. Another 2 Heroic Spirits bites the dust. Yeah, I guess time’s running out so it’s time to let 3 Red Faction Servants die now. Jeanne has no time to chat with Semiramis as she makes her way to Shirou. Semiramis warns her of meeting Shakespeare as it will be her undoing.

Episode 23
Mordred and Shishigou walk into Semiramis’ throne room. But it is a trap to assault them. Mordred throws out her Master as she fights Semiramis’ sorcery. But the poison in the air overwhelms Mordred. Semiramis wants her to abandon her Master and join her as her knight. This has Mordred reanalyse her wish. She realizes it wasn’t to become king but to end her father’s solitude. She thought by becoming king would allow that. Mordred’s goal now is to defeat Semiramis but needs Shishigou’s help even if it costs her life. He barges back in and injects her some kind of drug that turns her into wearing a sexier armour? Heck, it’s more powerful and much more with Shishigou using his last Command Spell to defeat the king. Mordred slices through the monster and into Semiramis. With the battle over, Shishigou knows his days are numbered after the wounds received from Semiramis’ shot. Master and Servant have one last talk (and smoke) together with Shishigou revealing his goal wasn’t to find an heir but a lost child. Likewise, Mordred tells him what she has realized. After Shishigou dies, Mordred disappears. Jeanne encounters Shakespeare who initiates his Noble Phantasm. Jeanne finds herself in several locations of her life like the village which she has to say goodbye to her mother and the bloodied battlefield in which she accepted she will never die in peace. Things start to change while being brought to her burning stake. It is Sieg at the stake instead. Jeanne claims this isn’t so but Shakespeare says he is only merely reading from her memories and hence the killing of Sieg is her wish. The final scene is the Castle of Tiffauges, the fort of Gilles de Rais. He is also here in the flesh and as a Servant. He shows her a severed head of Sieg. Don’t really understand about this equal love of humanity thingy here and if she really loved Sieg, she would have done anything to the point of cruel to stop him. Jeanne trembles in fear while her inner voice regrets not telling her clearly that her heart was right.

Episode 24
So Shirou’s salvation is for mankind to lose their selfishness? Okay. Whatever. Out from the Holy Grail, Shirou is now dressed like a shogun? Shirou and Gilles continue convincing Jeanne about their salvation of mankind. Till Gilles had to say Sieg’s death. Time to wake up. Speaking of Sieg, here he comes. She is sorry he had to come to see her even if it means ending in his death. Shirou offers her one last chance to join forces with him and save mankind. No more evil and people will stop suffering. Time for Sieg to give his 2 cents worth of opinion. Something about good can turn evil and making mistakes is not a sin but just sad. He might be weak but wants to strive to become someone others can be proud of. So touched that Jeanne cries. She rejects Shirou’s offer claiming his salvation doesn’t give strength to the struggle but only crushes it. Gilles is shocked this won’t bring him salvation after all the innocent kids he slew. She tells him there is no way to repent. Even if God forgives him, his victims will not. So just accept his punishment? Because if mankind becomes immortal, they lose faith in their own potential and life would be meaningless. They just merely exist in an unchanging world. I guess talk is over. Fight time. Gilles decides to fight by Jeanne’s side after she lets him hold her flag. Short thank you from Jeanne to Sieg about opening her eyes before she powers up. Gilles defend her till his death while she prays when Shirou attacks. Although the fire blast damages part of the Holy Grail, Jeanne has taken too much damage and ‘dies’. Now Sieg is mad. Revenge? Astolfo comes to his aid but Semiramis holds her down powerfully with Shirou’s Command Spell. Now for a sword fight. With magic. Sieg amazingly is able to keep up and fight like a madman. As though he is like a Servant but maintains his own character. Caules realizes Sieg is displaying abilities of Frankenstein. When she died in the blast, it seemed she transferred her powers to Sieg who was caught in it. She has been fighting with them all along. Shirou might have stabbed Sieg but he unleashes a similar suicidal Noble Phantasm like Frankenstein.

Episode 25
Shirou wakes up on Semiramis’ lap. He is still dying, though. He wonders if she is mad for losing. She forgives him as she has lost as well. She wants to know if he succeeded, how he would have gotten away with tricking her. Well, if apologizing won’t work, he would give his life to her. Semiramis kisses him as her gift. After he dies, Semiramis disappears and Babylon dramatically collapses. Sieg and Astolfo are inside the Holy Grail. The priestess confirms them as the final Master and Servant, hence wining the Holy Grail War. Sieg’s wish is to undo Shirou’s wish. Sorry, no can do. Shirou has used most of its resources for that. The result will soon spread to the whole world in which mankind becomes immortal but lose their curiosity and be bound to the land. So much for granting wishes. So what can it grant? Sieg notices his hand has turned into of a dragon after all his Command Spells are used. He has a wish that the Holy Grail has enough power to grant. Astolfo is against this since it is a fate worse than dying. This is not the reason why he saved him. But it’s his wish. As his last order, he wants him to live in his stead and help others in need. Astolfo rides furiously as he takes Caules and Leticia out. Shakespeare is madly and happily writing until the entire Babylon crumbles. He calls it a happy ending. A dragon carries the Holy Grail. It is Sieg who used the Holy Grail to transform himself into one. As the Holy Grail has created immortality, he will take it to where it is not needed on the other side of the world where people cannot reach. Only the evil dragon Fafnir can do that. In the aftermath, Caules joins the Mage Association. They would have banished him for carrying the Yggdmillennia bloodline but I guess it’s not the time to fight after what happened. Uh huh. This incident put a scar on their reputation. Astolfo parts with Leticia and then sets off to see the world. Epilogue shows Jeanne finally finds Sieg the dragon. Touching him turns him back to his human form. She won’t leave him anymore and they will begin a new journey together. Before they leave, she confesses she loves him.

Fake/Apostasy Appall-Crap-Haha
So many mind boggling questions for the last episode. First, how can the Holy Grail claim Sieg and Astolfo are the last Master and Servant left? Wasn’t Shakespeare still around? If you mean last Master AND Servant together, yeah okay, maybe. But still, that is like breaking the rules, right? You need to be the last one standing to earn the right to wish upon the Holy Grail, no? And if Shakespeare’s Master is Shirou, why is he taking him so long to disappear? Shouldn’t he vanish in about a few seconds after Shirou died? How can Astolfo who is a Servant remain in this world if his Master is gone? Okay, technically he is a dragon but that’s not really him, right? Right?! Even so, that Holy Grail War has ended so Astolfo should go back to his era too? Why does he have the right to stay here? Master’s orders? I didn’t know that overrules the rules of the Holy Grail War. And what’s with this lame ass dragon transforming to hide the Holy Grail somewhere? You mean in another world or dimension? And now that Jeanne touched him and he turned back into a homunculus, who the f*ck is going to watch over the Holy Grail? If you’re saying that nobody will ever reach this place so why the f*ck was he guarding it in the first place? Besides, doesn’t the dragon look like he is sleeping on the job? Could he have just left it there and flown off? Oh right. Then Jeanne wouldn’t find him and they would forever keep missing each other and we won’t have that cheesy ‘romantic’ ending. Somehow I feel that spoilt the general vibe of the series although I was expecting it somewhere but not like this.

Generally if you look at the whole story, it is basically almost the same as in all Fate stories. At least the ones that I know (the adapted animes that I have seen, that is). The Holy Grail is the only device that could make your dreams come true the fastest way and in exchange for that, everyone coveting that cup must fight a battle royale until one is left standing. This spin-off is no different although the presentation and the storyline that goes about it is presented in a different way.

It starts off with the anticipated and usual Red Faction versus Black Faction. Pretty standard. But knowing this series has more than 2 dozen episodes, you will definitely know that something is up. There will be twists along the way. I mean, you really want to drag out the fight between both factions right till the end? Hey, this isn’t Dragonball series!!! Halfway through we see the breakdown of the Factions and both sides have their reservations that blurs the lines. While that is a good change in direction, somehow I feel that the mini arc of Black Assassin before the final showdown feels a bit of a diversion. I felt it could have been done without it because had Jack been a normally summoned Servant and part of the Yggdmillennia family, it would have been boring. With Jack being the wildcard, she is like the unknown variable that could spring some surprise. But personally I don’t find it surprising and like I said, a distraction. Unless it was to give Atalanta a reason to be mad (because you need a reason to take down a Servant instead of a mindless death in battle) as well as opening Sieg’s eyes about the cruelty of the world. I know he was just born a few days ago but could he have guessed if he is fighting this war? Sure, no innocent civilians were harmed so I guess that was the turning point.

Curiously I tried to find out why this alternate storyline is called Apocrypha. Thanks to my lazy Google ability and lack of interest in the series, I just search the meaning of the word and formed my own theory-cum-conclusion. Apocrypha means writings that have unknown or doubtful origins and is used to refer to Biblical texts. As this Fate spin-off isn’t from the actual timeline, hence this alternate setting could be one of those unrecorded and unidentified stories. You can say it is like a standalone. Thus there could be many other unrecorded stories and spin-offs of the Fate series that we are unaware of if you go by this theory. Uh huh. If the authors and creators decided to milk more money and don’t have anything fresh and new, they can just turn a what-if scenario and make it into a spin-off. It is after all might not be canon. And then it can also give hardcore paranoid fans to list down more conspiracy theories and how it all links. Not that I care anyway. On a side note to ponder, since the Apocrypha word popped up big and obvious in the final scene of the last episode, could it be that of everything that happened in the series, only Jeanne’s confession for Sieg is apocryphal?

From the promotional posters to the opening and ending credits, it is quickly established that the main stars for this series would be Jeanne and Sieg. I find it odd that despite this is an alternative setting, war still needs some sort of a ‘referee’. I mean, come on. This is a war so what the hell is the need to ensure there is balance on both sides? Because if both sides have the same power and tactic, it would end in a stalemate. A war is one by a side because of superior power, numbers or tactic so why again do you need a Ruler class here? Sure, this isn’t exactly a cruel war and one big tournament if you want to go so far as to look at it that way but still, having somebody to balance the fight just seems odd. I mean, this isn’t like a boxing match if your opponent tries to hit you below the belt, the referee steps in to stop. So Jeanne’s class here feels more like the referee in WWE… I guess since this is the Fate series, the main hero would always be someone who looks like Saber. That is why Jeanne is designed very closely to that. And since Sieg is technically living because of Siegfried the Saber class, there you have it, both technically Saber related main characters.

For Sieg, it is funny that a homunculus is trying to be more human than most humans themselves. And he is only a few days old. I suppose we were all once like Sieg when we were younger. We thought and wished for the world to be better place but as it turns out, it is still a sh*tty and hell place to live. That’s the meaning of life. So this brings to me the case of Shirou’s salvation. Time and time again when such good versus evil concept is brought up, the villain’s twisted answer to save mankind via such method is frowned upon despite it looks good theoretically. Maybe I’m an adult, that’s why I seem to connect more to what Shirou wants to save mankind than Jeanne and Sieg’s version. Sure, everyone might be some lifeless robot who is happy. No evil so technically no good as well. But if you’re living in such bliss, what that all matter? I mean, ‘good guys’ tend to believe that the current state of the world because it is evil, there is hope, we can grow to overcome it, blah, blah, blah, sounds more like they want people to suffer because that makes human, human. That kind of logic does not resonate with me nowadays. To them, that is not living. So are they the big sadists? Is living much sweeter after overcoming your sufferings? Maybe for you and a few lucky people. But for the many others who are not so lucky (Jack and those innocent children), I think they would just tell the world to f*ck off. Can we all just be happy and not sad? Not this way according to the logic of heroes.

Oddly, there seems to be small hints of Jeanne and Sieg hitting off as a couple. Because we lack Shirou x Saber (or Rin or Sakura, depending on who you support), hence we need that kind of romance too in this alternate timeline. I know it would look weird if a Ruler and a homunculus would get together and just date. Sometimes when the series gets to such scenes, sometimes I just find it cheesy. Because you know, Jeanne’s stance over loving everyone equally as well as Sieg not really being a human so it’s not like he totally understands the concept of love. But then again, most of us humans don’t either. So was the final scene some sort of salvation in this sense? Like I said, it did ruined a little the enjoyment as the series comes to a close. I mean, almost everybody’s dead or gone, might as well reunite the lost lovers.

Shirou certainly looks cool and badass compared to the Shirou in the original Fate timeline. Who could forget that hilarious and dumb people-die-when-they-are-killed line that became such a meme and joke. But the Red Faction which is supposedly the ‘good guys’ look more like a bunch of baddies because of Shirou disabling other Masters who are so sad that they couldn’t even get 10 seconds worth of screen time unless they are unconscious. Like as though Shirou is the dictator and commands the rest of his Red Faction’s Servants. On the other hand, the Yggdmillennia clan is supposed to be the ‘bad guy’ as they stole the Holy Grail decades ago but they look more organized. It isn’t any surprise since they are a military clan. And then they got just desserts when they got the Holy Grail stolen from them. So he waited 60 years for this to save mankind and it is all for naught? Well, it shows that mankind cannot be saved. Sad… Now I know why Jesus never made his second coming.

Commenting on some of the Servants, let me start off with some of them not really displaying their abilities in the class that they are supposed to be summoned in. The obvious offender in this category is Semiramis. She is supposed to be the Assassin class but yet display so much more abilities as a Caster. Then there is also Achilles who is supposed to be Rider but he prefers fighting with his lancer. Doesn’t that make him a Lancer class? Karna doesn’t feel like Lancer class though although he does fight with his ‘lance’ but because as the Hindi Sun God, we often see him using his flames in battle.

Because Arthur was turned into a woman in the Fate series, I expect that some of the Servants would have a gender swap too. Like Frankenstein. Now we have a sexy version of that monster. It is the same case to for Astolfo but something was very off. My guts were tingling that Astolfo might not be a woman. The paladin of Charlemagne sounds so girly and acts like one so there is a high chance this character might be a girl. Heck, there was one time Astolfo was wearing casual clothes and it is for ladies. Even if the character is so flat chested, so much more other anime female characters are also like that. Don’t judge and anime gender by the size of the chest! So Astolfo had to be a woman, right? My guts still tingling. And then that shower scene confirms he isn’t otherwise. I guess all you Astolfo fans who fapped to him thinking he was a she and now this, you must be so disappointed. It could be that Astolfo is just a cross-dresser…

Mordred as the Saber class feels like a delinquent version of the Saber we know in the original Fate series. Because Saber classes are like the main heroes, I always had this thought that Mordred would also be something like this. But she turns out to be a wildcard of the Red Faction instead. I didn’t see it coming that she and Shishigou aren’t the last ones standing. It feels like they are extras and their non-compliance and being solo from Shirou’s groupie makes them feel so. Siegfried who is of Saber class strangely becomes the first Servant to die but so as not to make him a waste, hence he lives inside Sieg and is called out whenever the time needs him to be. Imagine a Saber class who is an all-rounder to go out first. While it is not impossible but it is certainly weird because this is supposed to be the most coveted class by all Mages and being just that just shows the Master’s incompetency. Isn’t that why fatso Gordes got him? I also thought Darnic and Vlad would be the final boss but they only made it halfway. They sounded so important but I guess when Shirou ramps up his badass and goal, he becomes the new antagonist.

As mentioned, Jack feels more like a distraction since she was not part of the Black Faction’s line-up and serves to add some sort of variety and spice to the story. It would be just boring if the Yggdmillennia had all their Servants summoned in nice fashion order. The most ‘useless’ Servant award goes to Shakespeare who just wants to watch and witness the play unfold before his eyes. Sure, he had a role in the final battle but even that he wasn’t really even fighting. But it would be just odd to see a playwright having fighting abilities. Shakespeare kicking ass or slashing with a sword? No way, man. The ‘saddest’ Servant goes to Spartacus because not only he went berserk (living up to his class’ name), I feel he has the shortest amount of screen time compared to other Servants. He came in, got mind controlled to the other side and then died. Like as though they needed some big bang and explosion of this series. Oh, speaking of this…

Talking about the action parts, it still does not disappoint. They are quite good to watch but I tend to notice that in order to make the battles so powerful and epic, there are lots of explosions. Big huge explosions that if your bass and subwoofer audio was set on to maximum, there would be aftershocks and you might even feel the vibration shaking the floor. Mine was set at a decent mid-level and I could already hear and feel its effects. Who knows if it was set to maximum would my house collapse? Would my neighbourhood think it is some earthquake? But yeah, lots of explosions as proof that the clash is so epic. This is what happens when powerful power crash into each other. Literally, crash boom bang.

Next I want to mention about the artwork and animation. Unlike the other Fate series remake, this one is not made by Ufotable but A-1 Pictures (Ao No Exorcist, Sword Art Online, Fairy Tail, Nanatsu No Taziai, Kuroshitsuji and OreImo). Although the artwork is still fine but it is not as grandeur as Ufotable. But I noticed this one has a drop in quality especially during fight scenes that are fast and furious. Like as though they were doing a rushed job and because this fighting scene is rapid and swift, they are counting on viewers not to notice it. And even if they do, they are hoping we will shrug it is off as because everything is so fast that it looks like lines but should be thankful that everything isn’t just simple lines. Well, I think that isn’t a good excuse, assuming that was the reason behind it.

Voice acting feels fine with some recognizable ones like Natsuki Hanae as Sieg, Miyuki Sawashiro as Mordred, Koji Yusa as Karna, Nobuyuki Hiyama as Darnic, Junichi Suwabe as Siegfried and Mai Nakahara as Reika. But the most surprising one to me was Saori Hayami as Atalanta. Never throughout the entire series did I realize it was her! She sounded totally different than how I usually knew her that I was having a hard time believing if it was her. Even trying to hear her dialogues again I wasn’t 100% sure. The other surprising one is Ai Nonaka as Frankenstein. It has been a long time I haven’t heard from her as I thought she has retired. Of course, Frankenstein didn’t have proper lines in the series and had only screams and groans that makes her sound like some retard until her final moments. I once thought Aki Toyosaki was behind Fiore but something was off. She wasn’t. Fiore is voiced by Chinatsu Akasaki (Yasuna in Kill Me Baby) and from my past experience, her voice resembles closely to Aki Toyosaki.

The other casts are Maaya Sakamoto as Jeanne/Leticia (Ciel in Kuroshitsuji), Kouki Uchiyama as Shirou (Ichika in Infinite Stratos), Rumi Okubo as Astolfo (Aguri in Gamers), Kei Shindou as Semiramis (Kuro in Kodomo No Jikan), Shunsuke Takeuchi as Chiron (Yamato in Nanbaka), Makoto Furukawa as Achilles (Banri in Golden Time), Kenji Nomura as Shishigou (Kugayama in Genshiken), Tetsu Inada as Shakespeare (Gamagori in Kill La Kill), Yuusuke Kobayashi as Caules (Subaru in Re: Zero Kara Hajimaru Isekai Seikatsu), Ryotaro Okiayu as Vlad (Byakuya in Bleach), Mitsuru Miyamoto as Avicebron (Steven in Kekkai Sensen), Emiri Katou as Roche (Aura in Overlord), Sakura Tange as Jack (titular character in Cardcaptor Sakura), Toru Ohkawa as Gordes (Roy in Fullmetal Alchemist), Shizuka Ishigami as Celenike (Mito in Shokugeki No Souma) and Satoshi Tsuruoka doubling as Spartacus and Gilles (Caster in Fate/Zero).

The first opening theme, Eiyuu Unmei No Uta by Egoist tries to sound epic and all but I just find it as weird. I don’t know, it sounds like the singer sounds a bit off key while singing. It doesn’t match with the choir voices in the background and in fact it clashes and makes it sound a bit like cacophony. Ash by Lisa as the first ending theme is my favourite among all the themes. The tune and pacing are to my liking and makes it quite fitting as an epic ending theme. Come the second opening theme, Desir by Garnidelia turns into an anime rock and it gets weirder for the second ending theme, Koe by Asca. Its beginning has short bursts of the violin play and the rest of the song feels like it is fitting for a drama filled anime instead.

Overall, this might not be the best Fate series I have ever seen but it is still quite a good watch and a different as well as refreshing if you are tired of the usual characters from Fate (the orphaned Shirou and the Arthur’s Saber, that is). If you are not into the convoluted Fate lore and stories, perhaps the action bits would be enough to satisfy you. When you compare this spin-off to the might original Fate series, considering the awesome Fate/Zero and the Unlimited Blade Works TV reproduction, this of course falls short of all expectations especially to hardcore fans of the series. So maybe that is why this was better left off as an apocryphal version. Dubious, unknown, not canon that would spoil the original fun. If fans were in this timeline of this series, they would have wished for the Holy Grail to save this series instead of mankind. Yeah, I think it’s better to have our people-die-when-they-are-killed Shirou version.

Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi No Togi

January 12, 2018

What, what WHAAAAAAAAT????!!!! OMG!!! I thought it all ended?! But here it is, the fourth season, Jigoku Shoujo: Yoi No Togi! I never knew it would happen since it has been 8 years since the third season last aired! Why now?! What is this nostalgia they’re playing at?! Hell, what do I care? As long as I get to hear Mamiko Noto again I’m more than happy to watch this horror series, the only horror series that I will ever approve myself of watching. But hmm… There is a catch. In its synopsis it is already stated there will be 6 new episodes and 6 ‘reminiscent’ episodes. Oh no… RERUN!!! Ippen shinde miru ka?!

Episode 1
Shizuka Mayama is constantly being bullied by her classmates. At least on the social messaging service, everyone calls her names. Especially a gasball since she is chubby. She thought of calling Enma Ai. She wants to send a few to hell but is told only one at a time. The harassment continues and Mayama would definitely have played into their hands if she responded but Yukawa ‘saved’ her by distracting the teacher’s attention. Yukawa hangs out with her and they both become friends. After lecturing her about continue to get involved by listening to the nasty harassment, she invites Mayama to join a social messaging she created only for loners. The only other person is Yokota. Mayama seems a lot happier messaging in this group. She even gives suggestions how others should die. Enma Ai and her team continue to watch over her when a strange girl pops up before Enma Ai asking her if she is sure about doing this before disappearing. One day, Mayama sees her classmates acting strange. There is a laptop on her desk that reveals the loners’ conversations. Thinking Yukawa couldn’t be the one, Mayama heads over to the next class to find Yokota. She isn’t sure what she is talking about and laughs. Then she finds Yukawa also badmouthing her in the other conversation. With anger building up, Mayama contacts Enma Ai. She is now given a straw doll. Then she goes to confront Yukawa. She reveals that she was the one who started this harassment because she found her annoying (like always apologizing for no reason, etc). But she didn’t think it would turn out this bad and would die out. She felt bad and became her friend. Mayama is not convinced since she still posted bad things about her. Yukawa denies it was her. Maybe it was Yokota. But Mayama says she met her and that’s how she knew Yukawa and Yokota are the same person. She pulls the string. Yukawa suffers a handphone nightmare with an app deleting all her innards before being sent to hell. As Enma Ai rows her to hell, the strange girl views all this is wrong. Enma Ai doesn’t care. This is work and has nothing to do with it. Mayama becomes badass in the aftermath, not caring about anybody. It is revealed that there is another person with the same Yokota name in that same class. A boy.

Episode 2
Enma Ai gives Haru a straw doll. But she gives it back as she cannot do it. Hone interviews a famous comedian, Nanako. Her comedy partner is Haru. She looks like the dumb and clumsy type and is always doing Nanako’s bidding. However behind the face of the public, the roles are reversed. Haru is the brains and Nanako is her obedient subordinate. Sounds more like an avid fan girl who is grateful for picking her up. The strange girl continues to bug Enma Ai. When Wanyuudou asks about her, all Enma Ai says is that she has forgotten her own identity. Ren becomes their manager as he continues to observe them. One night as Haru is racking her brains for new materials, Nanako mentions she saw her former partner in audience. He might have quit show business but seeing how Haru has become famous, maybe he wants her back. Wow. Yandere look… The next time she sees him, she wants to report a stalker. After all, he once abused her and all. Haru is crept out seeing how clingy Nanako is and slaps her. She accuses her of sleeping with the producer to get her first gig. Later Nanako goes to see what new materials she had come out with: None. Haru goes to see her former partner to complain how weird Nanako has become. He finds it odd that she was the one who picked her up and now she doesn’t want her. Flashback shows how Haru saw Nanako in a lame act on stage. For some reason she asked her out for a drink and a weird partnership formed between them. Haru was able to do it because of Nanako but now she feels she is a baggage. She realizes she has become like him in abusing her. Haru goes home and starts anew, discussing new materials with Nanako. After doing another successful show, at the backstage, Haru pops the message they should break up since she is at her limit. But Nanako views this as her being abandoned since she wants to get back with her old partner. Haru assures he has nothing to do with it and also doesn’t blame her. But what’s this? Nanako has a straw doll in her hand?! Nanako believes she won’t be happy even if she quits comedy and that’s why she doesn’t want to live anymore. Haru realizes Nanako has always understood her. Of course. She is her partner. Nanako pulls the string and promises she’ll be there soon. Haru will be waiting too.

Episode 3
Each of the grownups in the Nagata family have some sort of disturbing personality problem. So it is hard for the young kids, Akira and Arina to live in such a sick family. It’s literally hell. One night, Akira sees his mom pulling the string on the straw doll and the next day, grandma is gone. Akira talks to Arina about this so they decide to do something. They call the adults their parents who have an affair with as well as their eldest sister’s bully victim. They want them to help send them to hell. Once they’re gone, the siblings will inherit the assets in which they will distribute to them. However they throw caution that the penalty outweighs the benefit because they themselves will go to hell. Besides, they know they are afraid of going to hell themselves and therefore requesting them to do it on their behalf. It’s a no go. One day, eldest sister brings back home their cousin to live with them. She has an affair with him and he too has a nasty personality. When the parents try to tell him to go home, he becomes violent and beats them up. So he is hurting them for hurting him by not being sensitive to his feelings? Crazy. Akira is okay with the abuse he puts up with him but he line is drawn when he tries to rape Arina. After the parents left home with their ‘respective reasons’, the cousin gets even more violent with the kids. After tying up Akira, he goes to rape Arina. That was the last straw. I mean, he got a straw doll. He is going to send the cousin to hell. At the same time, the bully victim also has one and plans to send eldest sister to hell. They discuss how they have found the resolve to do this because as long as those demons are alive, somebody will suffer. They are going to sacrifice themselves for their sakes. Besides, knowing they will go to hell, they won’t be afraid what kind of person they’ll meet after this. They pull the string. In the aftermath, Akira and bully victim team up to murder the latter’s tormenters. Hey, it isn’t murder if their body isn’t found, right? Akira’s parents never return home and Arina continues to be a vegetable. Sad…

Episode 4
At a retirement home, Sakura is being lamely scared by a fellow senile old woman, Tamie. I’m sure she’s just fooling around as it looks funny than scary. Unfortunately the abusive workers beat her up and bring her back to her bed where she is tied up. Sakura tries to save her but is also abused. Thus Sakura seeks Enma Ai. She has lots of people she wants to send to hell but since she can only send one, that person is Saeko Yanohara who is the facility’s director who covers up the abuses and profits from it. Working in this facility is Tsugumi. She is one of the few kind workers but has no power to stand up to authority. Wanyuudou also disguises himself to investigate and he and Sakura clicked since the latter thinks he looks like her former school teacher, her first crush. Oh, the flame is still burning strong in these old people? I mean, Wanyuudou seriously takes a liking for her? He talks to her why she never reported this to her family members. She doesn’t want to worry her family as she does not worry about them. She asks him about hell and if it is right to curse someone at the end of one’s life. One day, Wanyuudou sees her collapsed on the floor and her hands dirtied. She wanted to watch the sakura trees bloom. So he brings her there. One day when Saeko brings the reporters to show them how good her facility is, Wanyuudou is shocked that Sakura has lost her memory. Tsugumi attends her and it seems she still remembers. She hints to the old guy that Sakura has forgotten whom she wants to send to hell and it is better this way. Another facility staff tries to expose the cruelty of this facility in front of the reporters. That is when Tamie happily says Sakura keeps a diary of all the abuse. That night, Saeko and the workers storm into Sakura’s room, abuse her to look for the diary. They only find the straw doll as she tosses it out. Wanyuudou realizes Sakura buried the diary near the sakura tree that day before losing her memories. Tamie comes in trying to save her but gets abused too. Wanyuudou put back the straw doll and this time Sakura is able to reach it and pull the string. In the aftermath, Sakura looks calmer now that she is in the hands of Tsugumi.

Episode 5
The strange girl slowly remembers herself as Michiru. There is a joint funeral of 3 families whose sons died. When another family comes to pay their respects, they are shooed away and they blame them for their son, Satoshi is the only one who survived the tragedy. Flashback shows the family are transporting their sons on a trip. Not only they bullied Satoshi but they disregard safety advice from his parents. Then an accident happened. Those with seatbelts on are still alright. Those without are flung out and it’s a horrible mess. Michiru feels sorry for Satoshi as she could relate to him. She lives in the feudal era and her father helped bring electricity to the other tenants. The landlord is not happy about this. So his son and his friends try to lure and push Michiru into a pond but they drowned instead. She is the only one who survived but her family gets accused for killing the boys. The villagers even turn their backs on them. Therefore Michiru thinks it is wrong for innocent Satoshi to be sent to hell since one of the boys’ mother has written down his name. Enma Ai tells her she’ll have her answer once she remembers everything. Continuing the flashback, as Michiru’s family has been ostracized, she goes around to find food. However she is lured and trapped in the landlord’s shed where they left her to die. Michiru uses her last ounce of strength to climb to the top window to place a wind chime. Her parents searched for her for days but couldn’t find her. Then they hear strange wind chime sounds and follow it to the shed. They break down the door and see her. At this time, the landlord and villagers are going to burn down the place. Father tries to reason with them that they will be charged for murder but nobody’s listening. Yeah, if the police can’t find any evidence… The shed is burnt down and father instantly died after taking a blow to the head when he tried to fight back. Michiru believes she has remembered her memories and her decision still doesn’t change. She is pleading to Enma Ai to stop the mother to send Satoru to hell. However the mom throws away the straw doll. Enma Ai explains when your situation changes, your allies change too. What is right or wrong is no more than a person’s feelings. There is more that Michiru hasn’t remember fully yet. When her mom died trying to protect her from the flames, Michiru let out a curse. The flames then burnt everyone down and eventually the entire town. She has committed an unforgivable sin and must atone for it by becoming Jigoku Shoujo! That is her answer.

Episode 6
Michiru refuses to become Jigoku Shoujo and she believes Enma Ai has been persistent in trying to turn her into one. She denies and says it is this spider from hell who wishes it. She doesn’t believe and leaves but the rest knows no matter how much she escapes, she’ll come back here. Tetsuya and Yui are dating and soon he pops the question. Happy story, right? However Yui has been visiting JT every midnight but never goes through with it. Yui then takes Tetsuya to see her father in hospital. He is in coma and on life support. She reveals the truth. Her father once ran a food delivery service. One night 5 years ago he was assaulted and left for dead. Although the culprit was caught and sentenced to only 3 years. Yui noticed Tetsuya who was supposed to be the culprit’s colleague not satisfied and left. Yui then worked in his company to find him and learn the real truth. The only clue was he had a mark on his chest. Of course it was hard and she was about to give up and by accident she spotted it on him. Tetsuya reveals on that night, there were 5 of them. A couple were drunk and when they accidentally bumped into Yui’s father, they got violent and beat him to a pulp. The rest were too scared to stop. The ringleader is Kogure who is now the president of the company. Suzumura is his accomplice but he is no longer around. He died in an accident shortly after that incident. Michiru has been spying on this case so Enma Ai notes it is for her to decide. Yui is going to enter Kogure’s name in JT but Tetsuya stops her. He doesn’t want her to go to hell. He knows about it because he was the one who sent Suzumura to hell. Shortly after that incident, Suzumura raped his sister who worked in the company. She was threatened not to tell and Tetsuya only knew about it after she hanged herself and left a note. Tetsuya contacted Jigoku Shoujo and immediately pulled the string. Tetsuya is going to set things straight. After quitting the company, he goes to the police station. However Yui contacts JT. Michiru is now Jigoku Shoujo???!!! She doesn’t hesitate to pull the string. We see Michiru in action. Is it me or does she look cute than scary? Yui is satisfied it is over as she unplugs father’s life support. She is shortly arrested. Tetsuya is disheartened to learn what happened. All she can say is that she is going to hell with Kogure while her father goes to heaven. Now Satoshi sees Michiru and wants to send himself to hell, thinking he would be trouble around his parents. Of course that isn’t possible so Michiru tells him how sad his parents will be without him around. It might be impossible now but do it for his parents’ sake. Please smile too so that one day they can meet in heaven. Kikuri is mad because Yamawaro has ‘dumped’ her to be Michiru’s assistant. After all the constant abuse? I can see why.

Episode 7
Mamoru Hanagasa is a talented baseball player. Lots of girls admire him. Lots of his comrades admire him. Away from the prying eyes, Hanagasa beats up fatty Shinichi Muroi and frames Daisuke Iwashita that they were fooling around by the river and accidentally pushed him over. So when Iwashita sends Muroi home, he has to pretend and go with Hanagasa’s story. That was the last Iwashita saw of Muroi. He never come to school and a few days later, the school announces he has sadly passed away. At his funeral, everyone blames Iwashita as the culprit. Even his own father punches him for it. Hanagasa also pays his respect but he is a good actor shedding crocodile tears. It gets worse when the detectives want to question him because autopsy reveals Muroi had ruptured organs. Iwashita panics and runs away. Later that night he contacts Jigoku Shoujo and is given a straw doll. Next day he confronts Hanagasa to take responsibility. However he won’t and even ‘thanks’ them. Due to this, he doesn’t need to play in the tournament and it would save his shoulder. He did plan this all on purpose. Iwashita cannot accept this anymore and pulls the string. And so we see Iwashita’s baseball torment as well as his judgment from the Jigoku Shoujo team. He remains arrogant till the end and does not own up to his responsibility before being sent to hell. Hanagasa has disappeared and others are talking how a witness came forth to reveal he beat up Muroi with a baseball bat. Iwashita moves away to his aunt’s place and notes it will take time for him to settle down.

Episode 8
Namiko Todaka is the wife of the local branch manager and beware those who crosses her path. The unfortunate for Keiko Yasuda as she has been harassed and living in fear. Even her daughter, Haruka is not spared from the harassment by Todaka’s daughter and her friends although to a lesser degree. The harassment even reaches her husband who for some reason gets accused for no reason by the branch manager. One day the harassment got too much as Todaka sent a guy to harass her at home. When Haruka comes home, she sees her mom unconscious and gas building up in the closed area. She starts to have a grudge on that woman and contacts Jigoku Shoujo. However Enma Ai warns her she cannot save her mom and only provide revenge. After understanding the T&C, Enma Ai shows her what happened. One day they were walking home, her mom saw Todaka making out with a man from her window. Todaka spotted her and became enraged. Soon, she framed her mom by hiring guys to make it look like she had a fling with them. If she exposes this, she will implicate Haruka too. Haruka witnesses her dad beating mom up and not believing what she says. Haruka cannot take this anymore. Her family is ruined so she pulls the string for Todaka to face hell. In the aftermath, her mom smiles more often and it is rumoured Todaka ran off with another man. Her daughter becomes the talk of town and is ashamed of what her mom did. Almost a target for bullies. Haruka notes her life might have become better for now but knows she’ll have to pay a price once she dies.

Episode 9
Akane Sawai locks herself in her room despite her teacher, Yoshiki Fukasawa keeps knocking on her door to talk to her. Ignoring his pleas, she only contacts with an online friend known only as Cheppo. With Fukasawa being persistent, Cheppo suggests she try contacting JT. Of course Sawai is in a dilemma to pull the string. We see Fukasawa constantly doing this is because the vice principal has been pressuring him. Truancy is bad for reputation. One night, Sawai is surprised he visits. So she finally explains about the hell that is society. You have to put up with something even if you don’t want to do it. When she can tell he has been pressured because of his reputation, he blows his top and yells back to not speak like she knows everything. He realizes his outburst and apologizes. He then admits all that and leaves. This makes Sawai even more confused. She doesn’t know what to do. She seeks Cheppo’s help but she too is unsure. Next day, everyone is in shock that Sawai turns up to class. Later Fukasawa talks to her in the teacher’s room but had to leave for a while to attend something. Sawai then contacts Cheppo but notices Fukasawa’s handphone ringing. To her horror, Fukasawa is Cheppo! She demands an explanation so he takes her to an abandoned house where he admits he is Cheppo but unaware Sawai is the person whom he is corresponding with. He explains he never knew why kids skipped school until he became a teacher. After she lets him know she entered his name on JT, he wants her to send him to hell. He is tired of it all and wants to be at peace. Really?! Hell is peace? Sawai is unsure at first but as she observes, Fukasawa continues to teach but the students never paid him attention and he often gets lectured by the vice principal. She finally pulls the string. Fukasawa is glad to see Enma Ai who then shows him the consequences of what he has done to Sawai. I guess he didn’t know she is going to hell too as he sees her crying and murmuring how she will join him there. Too late to regret now. He’ll forever be in regret.

Episode 10
Wanyuudou hitchhikes with a truck driver on a coastal road as he reminisces his past on this path. But the truck driver asks him if he has heard of JT. Because at the end of this road there is a stubborn old man living alone in a house. He refused to move out despite being given compensation and it is believed he is being greedy. Because of that, the road has to be built around it and this has caused accidents and death. The truck driver’s younger brother died in an accident here. Even after that, the old man refused to move out. The truck driver entered his name in JT but Jigoku Shoujo never came. He is going to avenge his brother by himself. Meanwhile Hone stays at the old man’s house as a wandering traveller. She learns all his family is dead and he is the last one left. He tells her he was born in this house, lived all his life here and wants to die here. People think he is greedy but even if they relocate him, do they expect him to live in a new environment with strangers? The old man starts coughing. The truck driver is going to ram into the house but that is when Enma Ai appears before him to hand him a straw doll. He wanted to pull it but he was a second too late. The old man has died. He doesn’t believe it and still wants to crash his truck. Till he tries to avoid Kikuri and had not Wanyuudou stop it, he would have died in the same place as his brother did. Soon the truck driver sees the old man’s peaceful body. There is a letter addressed to him in which he leaves all his property and compensation of his brother’s death to him. The house then ‘dies’ along with the owner and collapses.

Episode 11
Akira Kitakami keeps staring at Mitsuko who is manning the electrical shop. It’s not that he likes her or anything. Maybe he does. But the thing is, her husband Seiji is very abusive. He thinks she is trying to seduce that kid and always tortures her. Worse, Akira secretly spies on this torture. Even when Mitsuko is slow in answering the phone, he tortures her. Akira contacts JT but is still unsure if he should pull the string so he talks to Yuzuki for help. He is confused why Mitsuko doesn’t run away and keeps staying by his side and take in all the abuse. Maybe this is a form of love? Ultimately Yuzuki tells him to not get involved. One day he visits the store again and this time he is serious in wanting her to run away from that creep. He will help her if needed. She is reluctant since he will always hunt her down. Too late. Hubby’s back. He gets even violent in beating her up. Pipsqueak can’t even take him down. Trapped beneath the rack and Mitsuko continues to suffer, his only way out is to pull the string. It’s over. Next day, he comes to see her again. The store is still in a mess but Mitsuko is missing ever since.

Episode 12
Kaede Inao is believed to have a fox spirit named Gon that does as she wishes. So when a classmate sends in a curse request and it becomes true, Inao who was once a loner and ostracized is now ‘famous’ and getting all the attention she wants. With friends requesting curses, she does them and it all turns out well and as per wanted. Of course the Jigoku Shoujo team know there is no such spirit and all that has happened are merely coincidence. One day a classmate wants her to kill a stalker and nothing happened to the stalker, Inao becomes more and more desperate and her classmate is starting to get impatient and threatens to expose her as a fake. Inao went to great lengths and performing ridiculous rituals just to get this stalker killed but in the end he still breathes. Now even more desperate, she contacts Enma Ai and pulls the string even before she could finish reading the terms of the contract. With this case ‘solved’, the classmate is so glad the stalker has disappeared. Oh, she lied about the stalker and just didn’t like his face. Now she introduces a friend who has a request of someone killed…

To Hell With Everything!
WTF???!!! Is this how it ‘ends’???!!! I’m sure many viewers and long-time fans would be cursing the producers for deceiving them about this season. Yeah, rerun half the season with old episodes and call it a new season. I have this bad feeling so many people are contacting Jigoku Shoujo to send them to hell. Furthermore, the way it just suddenly ‘ends’ without further explaining about that Michiru’s case rubs further insult on wounds. More on that later.

After a long absence, watching the same old formula of vengeful people sending others to hell still feels interesting and intriguing. Yes, it worked on my nostalgia side too. The new stories are nothing new or original, at least not that it brings in any fresh ideas because it is still people with twisted vengeance and motives sending the ones they hate or ‘love’ to hell. They also try to put this mysterious Michiru girl in the mix. At first it sounds interesting because you’ll be guessing who this girl is and what her connection is to Enma Ai. And when her past and all is revealed, she is supposed to become the next Jigoku Shoujo? Or at least another colleague? Erm, didn’t they try that in the third season whereby Yuzuki was supposed to be the next Jigoku Shoujo but that didn’t happen and hence Enma Ai continued to helm that role?

But it was most mind boggling, confusing and disappointing to see how Michiru’s story ‘ends’. Because she has been against Enma Ai’s ways and refused to become Jigoku Shoujo. And what do you know? Suddenly she becomes Jigoku Shoujo in the end! WTF?! How the hell did that happened? What exactly happened?! Did the master of hell brainwashed her into accepting her role? Well, the only good thing Michiru became one is how Yamawaro is now her subordinate and this should shut Kikuri up. Yeah, I love seeing that annoying brat getting tormented now that the object of her bully has gone over to the other side. That’s the best way to get back at someone who has been tormenting you ever since. They’ll only appreciate it when they find themselves no one and nothing to torment anymore. Come back!

The way the new episodes ‘ended’ just to pave way for the reminiscence episodes is one reason why I felt disappointed with this season generally. Not only did I not get enough explanation about Michiru’s end result (maybe it is just that, Michiru becomes Jigoku Shoujo. The end), the reminiscence episodes are just reruns of an entire episode from previous seasons. Damn copy and paste. Are they trying to hint something here using this method? Well, this isn’t the first time a series does this as Gintama did it in one of their seasons. A few other animes have also done this but that is more of a recap episode rather than entirely copy and paste. The only difference that prevents it from being 100% copy and paste is that at the start of each episode, we see a mix of paper cut-out and real life animation of the Jigoku Shoujo team in a bar reminiscing one of those old episodes. The only good part about this segment is how Kikuri gets owned and bullied, her plans backfired because of her brattiness. It’s like getting a taste of her own medicine. They should have just made this part longer and renamed it, Kikuri Gets Bullied. Anyway, watching the reruns in a way made me feel mixed. Because I couldn’t remember a damn thing! It was as though I have watched this for the first time! Serious! I didn’t actually recall any of these episodes. So I was going like, “Did I see this before?”. Only that truck driver episode I remember hints of it but still I forgot many parts of it.

Because I vaguely describe such episodes in a sentence in my previous blog, it didn’t help jog my memory. Yeah, I was even being lazy then. Therefore if they rerun the entire 3 seasons, I might as well have watched like as though it is new since I have already forgotten about them. So I believe this reminiscence episodes are like teasers for audiences new to anime so that they can go back a decade to watch the original seasons. I also feel that this fourth season is like the producers and writers ran out of ideas and thus they needed some reruns. This is also why the fourth season is the shortest among all the other seasons at it only has a single cour to it whereas all first 3 seasons were double cours. Heck, this fourth season had only half of an actual cour. More people being sent to hell, more back stories of the Jigoku Shoujo team to find out and the other third party who is trying to stop them. And this is why Michiru as the new character and latest addition to the Jigoku Shoujo team feels wasted and disappointed.

In a way, the reminiscence episodes aren’t so bad since it brings some nostalgia as we get to see the entire old process of how Enma Ai and her team fly into action. Right down from handing over the straw doll to the person who called her and saying the T&C, to that mysterious granny’s shadow who is always turning the spinning wheel and when the string is pulled we see again how Enma Ai puts on her kimono as well as Wanyuudou’s fiery face on the fiery wheel fly over the horizon to take the targeted person to hell. But still, it is overall bad for the series because if we wanted to watch reruns in HD, which is already available a long time ago, we would have gone watched them.

I tried to come up with conspiracy theories of why certain episodes were selected for the reminiscence arc. As much as I scratch my head about it, I can’t find a connection. Because some episodes show young Tsugumi and some show Yuzuki. It is truly copy and paste. So if you have not watched previous seasons and wonder who these girls are, you’re going to be very much confused. I thought the episodes were multiples of 3’s but one of them broke this combo. Damn. That was the closest I could find. Or maybe they just selected them at random. Just to screw with us. Even if we were told there are 6 new episodes and 6 reminiscent ones, we kept hoping one of them would be different and especially when it reached the final one, there would be something absolutely different. We were wrong. Why oh why do I even ponder about this kind of things?

Of course there are a few questions that I once asked in the previous instalments of this series and it made me ponder again but with no real answers in sight. For example, I remember asking what if the time isn’t exactly midnight, can you still contact Jigoku Shoujo? What I meant is that if you turn your PC clock back or forward, will you still be able to contact her? Because we always see people connecting to JT right on the dot. What if multiple people hand in their request at the same time? Assuming they are at the same location in a similar time zone. Because you know, there is only one Enma Ai who has to give the straw doll and explain the T&C. Now with Michiru joining the team, I guess it lightens the load. But you know, human grudges are so endless and it is unrealistic that there is only 1 request per night. And some who requested do not pull the string immediately but they wait for a few days. So what happens in between those days while the team is waiting? Besides, the Jigoku Shoujo team has only ‘limited staff’ and hence limited number of straw dolls Enma Ai can hand out. Imagine if there are 100 people who request a grudge that night. What do you mean that won’t happen? Imagine the aftermath of a football match in which a controversial goal was given and hence a controversial victory to the traditional rival. Yeah… There’ll be thousands who are going to hell tonight! They should have been addressing such questions rather than putting in those reruns.

Art and animation for the new episodes seem to be updated as they are sharp and vivid. There is a stark difference when you compare and watch to the reminiscence episodes. You can see how a decade changes stuffs like technology. Imagine just 10 years ago we were still using CRT monitors and television. 10 years ago we didn’t have Smartphones with apps and the latest were like those Motorola Razr flip phones. Heck there is even landline phones! Rarely see those today, right? And USB pendrives were like 8MB!!!! That’s so big at that time!!! Wow. Really nostalgic.

As for the voice acting, I still love Mamiko Noto all these years and this is probably one of the earliest anime series that I watched featuring her that made me fell in love in her voice in the first place. It’s really nostalgic. Her character might be saying the same lines over and over again and her other dialogues may not be varied but I never get tired of her voice. More Jigoku Shoujo anyone? More like, more Mamiko Noto for me!!!!!!!! Oops. Anyway, as for the opening theme, Noise by Mio Yamazaki feels odd. It is such a lively rock piece. I shouldn’t be surprised because previous seasons of the opening themes like Nightmare, Tsukihana and Sakasama No Chou has this lively feel to it. Like in all season, Mamiko Noto sings the ending themes. This season’s Irogami still has that creepy feel that makes it feel that it is a good thing she isn’t a full-fledged singer? Hey, I love her voice but not exactly when it comes to singing.

Overall, I still love the Jigoku Shoujo series and mainly it is because of Mamiko Noto. But if you’re talking specifically about this fourth season, I would say it is disappointing. It only seemed a bit better because of the nostalgia factor that hyped me up. Having reruns in already a short cour isn’t the good way to go and the new story itself as well as the new character isn’t satisfying enough. Maybe the hint is already in the series’ name itself. The series is already at its twilight. If this is its way of going out with a bang, it sure wasn’t it. In conclusion, it goes to show that people never change. The grudges will always be there. The vengeance will always be there. The money milking drive from nostalgia will always be there. The suckers will always be there. When are we ever going to learn? Curse you all! O pitiful shadow bound in darkness, bringing torment and pain to others. A soul drowned in sins. Want to try dying for once? No thanks. I’d rather keep my soul in case the next season comes around.

The synopsis was interesting. The setting about 500 years have passed ever since humans have been extinct, wiped out by the ferocious and mysterious beasts. Survivors are all living above the ground in floating islands. A small group of young girls are the only ones who can wield ancient weapons and fight off against the beasts’ invasion. However their unstable lives means that death can be knocking on their door any moment. The last living human awakens from his long slumber and decides to become their father. Paternal instincts kicking in? Are you sure he isn’t just a lolicon? Jokes aside, this series focuses on the bond between them and what it means to be a family and protect the ones you love. If only the title of this series wasn’t freaking long enough and to make it look like some harem anime: Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasuka Isogashii Desuka Sukutte Moratte Ii Desuka. Or SukaSuka for short. Literally, why is it even asking if you are busy to save us at the end of the world? Do we have time for romance when the world is being destroyed? Maybe they’re trying to hint to us something about love will save the day…

Episode 1
Chtholly is chasing a cat who stole her badge throughout the slums. Though she catches it, she loses her balance and falls several storeys. Luckily Willem Kmetsch was passing by and catches her. However the citizens are animals and upon knowing they do not have fur or horns, they intimidate them to leave. Willem quickly takes her to a shop to buy a witch hat to conceal herself. He would gladly guide her to the port to leave this place but it seems there is a place she wants to go. They manage to get to a tower that overlooks the heart of town. Once her wish is fulfilled, she hopes he would forget him and then parts ways. Willem hangs out with his friend, Grick who tells him of an easy military job he can make lots of money with no skills or experience. Just as long as you are trustworthy. Willem rejects since he wants to live freely. But since he keeps pestering and ‘threatening’, I guess Willem accepts this military warehouse caretaker job. On the fringes of Sky Archipelago Regles Aile, Island 68, he arrives and makes his way to the base but is attacked by a petite girl, Pannibal. She is then called out by Chtholly for simply attacking. Looks like we meet again.

After getting showered and dressed at Orlandry Merchant Guild’s warehouse, Nygglatho greets him. He isn’t too fond to see his old ‘friend’ and thinks Grick set him up. But Nygglatho is just glad she gets to take care of him as she explains this warehouse is jointly run by the Guardian Wings Military and Orlandry Merchant Guild. On paper they need caretakers from both sides and Nygglatho represents the guild while Willem represents the military. She wonders if he would stay on this island because the previous 2 caretakers didn’t show up after the first day. She can arrange for accommodation away from this island but he’ll stay. He is just worried she will stab him in the back and eat him. I mean, really eat him. Don’t be fooled by this lovely maid. She is a troll (as in the beast) and Willem thinks she is trying to fatten him up and eat him someday. They cut short their conversation since several little girls are eavesdropping. Nygglatho tells them to return to their rooms are she’ll eat them. Willem better be careful… In his room, those girls again bug him but he allows them in. He meets the acquaintance of Pannibal, Tiat, Collon and Lakesh. He answers all their questions before Chtholly has them return to their rooms. After they introduce themselves, what Willem wants to know that this place doesn’t look like a military warehouse nor does it seem to store weapons, but more importantly why are little girls living in this place. Chtholly hints that both questions are related. They are the so called weapons and he is going to be their caretaker. Flashback 526 years ago when Willem was a young lad. A girl who refers to him as father is talking to him about the final war he is about to fight. She hopes he has something concrete to hold on. A reason for him to return. Or else she can’t send him off tomorrow without a smile. So how about butter cake. A super big one for his next birthday. Well, I’m sure that wasn’t the answer she was hoping for but it will do. However that wish will not be fulfilled since a year from then, humanity was wiped out.

Episode 2
Willem cannot believe all these kids are weapons. Some of them are afraid of him, though. Ithea teases Willem to be a lolicon and he plays along. When Nygglatho licks him just to taste him (?!), he gets an idea. He makes pudding for the kids and they love it. Thanks to that, they open their hearts to him. Kids are so easy and honest. Ithea continues to tease Chtholly for thinking about Willem and Nephren notices Chtholly cherishing the hat he bought for her in the closet. When one of the girls, Almita falls off the cliff to retrieve a ball, Willem is shocked that she does not mind her injuries despite bleeding. Even the other kids aren’t worried and continue to have fun. It dawned to him that they do no regard their own lives. He wants Nygglatho to tell him the truth so she brings him down to a vault. 500 years when the 17 beasts were created by emnetwihts, they destroyed all humans including their creators. Everyone has been living up in the floating islands in fear of them ever since. Inside the vault are swords called carillons or dug weapons. They are the only weapons capable of fighting the 17 beasts. But only emnetwihts can use them and if they are all gone, who is using them? Those girls are leprechauns, fairies who have imitated emnetwihts since ancient times and can use their weapons like one would. Their bodies were made as weapons to be expended in battle and fear no death.

Willem notices that Ithea and Chtholly have been gone for a few days. He picks them up when they returned. Their armour obviously ragged. He knows they have gone down to fight the 17 beasts. He knows nothing much except what Nygglatho told them. Ithea admits they are just disposable lives using emnetwihts weapons. Chtholly wakes up in the infirmary, surprised Willem is nursing her fever. She says that in 5 days she is going to die and hopes he will be nicer to her. It seems after centuries of fighting the 17 beasts, fairies are able to predict their attacks with accuracy. In 5 days, Island 15 will come under a powerful timere attack. The beasts cannot fly but a timere can release parts of tis body into the air. Although she knows it cannot be defeated using conventional methods, a fairy wielding a dug weapon can take it out at the cost of her life. She can use it to blow herself up to do some serious injury even if she can’t kill it outright. She wants Willem to kiss her as her final request. Willem seems disappointed that is all she asks for. She throws a tantrum believing she insulted her last wish. What’s wrong with wanting fond memories before she dies? She wants to leave a mark. To remain in someone’s heart. She continues sulking so he kisses he forehead. Then he strips her so he can give her a back massage to alleviate some poisoning symptoms. Is that pain or pleasure?

Episode 3
Nephren notices Willem looking through the file storage late at night. She helps him look for files on timere. Next morning, Chtholly wakes up very embarrassed what happened last night. And then when one of the girls tell her that Willem is now sleeping with Nephren, it’s that yandere look on her face. Going to take a peek… Well, technically she is sleeping on his lap. Chtholly thinks Willem doesn’t understand their struggle. They fight, open Fairy Gate and die. So Willem challenges her to a dug weapon duel. Surprisingly she is easily defeated. He lets in a little secret that the swords use the enemy’s force against them when it hits the blade. Because they don’t know the basics, all they can do is swing around with brute force. She should find a better fighting style that doesn’t involve self-destruction. Chtholly refuses to accept this because it means the deaths of other fairies were in vain. Willem then collapses and starts bleeding. Flashback shows a young Willem almost defeating a beast. However the spells he used became a curse. The beast goes into slumber for a century while Willem becomes petrified. Willem wakes up in the infirmary with Nygglatho nursing him. Nygglatho tells the girls how she was helping a group of salvagers and found Willem frozen in some underground lake. When they freed him, he went berserk and spoke a language they couldn’t understand. Some babel talisman he had helped them communicate. After calming down, they realized he is the last human or emnetwihts as they are called, left. Too bad those girls don’t really get that sad back story. Instead they excitedly rush to Willem and bug him about his heroics. Nygglatho chases them out with that I-will-eat-you look.

Chtholly still cannot accept it all so she takes a night flight but bumps into a patrolling military airship. First Grade Officer Limeskin takes her in a treats her well because her kind is considered ‘heroes’. She tells of her dilemma. Because of his different method, she is now somewhat scared of death. Limeskin tells her about resolve and resignation which are basically the same thing. All warriors have wind in their hearts. She returns only to see Willem doing maintenance on her dug weapon, Seniorious. Not sure about the mumbo jumbo about this sword but there’s a cool light show while in the midst of the maintenance. She tells him about her talk with Limeskin. Because she doubts herself to become strong, she takes up Willem’s earlier offer not to become one. He tries to give her a reward as motivation. Just name anything you want. Except marriage of course. In that case, how about making butter cake for her? Sounds familiar… An older fairy used to make it for them when she returned from battle. It’s no longer on the menu and Chtholly can’t make it. Willem agrees to bake it for her so please come back alive no matter what.

Episode 4
It has been a month since Chtholly, Ithea and Nephren went to battle on Island 15. Willem will continue to wait and believe in them. But he still can’t help waking up from this nightmare that they are no longer around. Currently Willem is taking Tiat to the city of Corna di Luce on Island 11. As Nygglatho explained, when young fairies have harbinger dreams, they are sent to this city for check-up. Since they have time, they look around the city and Tiat is having so much fun since the city is mainly used in many romance movies. Yeah, there was a lizard romance movie she just saw… As the check-up proceeds smoothly, the doctor had to tell why this is necessary to Willem since Nygglatho didn’t say a thing. Not all fairies can wield a dug weapon. Those with such dreams are said to be able to and thus the check-up is to tune them so they can fight as adult fairies. As dug weapons are too precious and the 17 beasts too powerful, they don’t want to force immature kids into battle as it would be pointless. The check-up is also necessary because as fairies are unnatural beings, some may lose their minds and go crazy. But for Tiat’s case there is no need to worry. Tiat has to stay overnight for tuning. She is eager to grown up. Willem wonders if she understands what that means because it denotes becoming a soldier and going off to battle. Willem stays at the military HQ. Next day, a lady named Phyr bumps into him and thought Willem can help her arrange a meeting with Limeskin. He apologizes that dragon dude is away fighting and has put up barriers that prevent any communication. Suddenly there is a commotion. Reports have come in regarding the battle results on Island 15. Willem rushes to get more information. It seems the defence has failed. Willem goes into shock. Shortly, Limeskin, Chtholly, Ithea and Nephren return! Not too sure about the delay in report or something. The moment Willem sees them, he uses some supersonic flash move so fast that no naked eye could catch him to hug Chtholly! My oh my! Well, if the battle didn’t kill her, his monkey grip hug sure would. Oh wait. She’ll die of embarrassment first! So I guess the rest are teasing this emotional boy and he only lets go and calms down when he takes a roll call. Yup, they’re back. But there’s a surprise in store for Willem. Not really. Should have seen this coming because Chtholly slaps him.

Episode 5
Flashback during the battle on Island 15. Chtholly was going all out in fighting the beast. However it spawns quickly. Unfortunately it spawned a never-seen-before creature and thus Limeskin called off the mission and to abandon the island. At that time Chtholly experienced some sort of creepy dream. As Limeskin explains this to Willem, Chtholly blames herself for the failure. If she had blown herself up maybe they would stand a chance. Phyr then comes in to see Limeskin. Despite calling him uncle, she is the daughter of his close friend who is the mayor of this town. Her father has received a threatening note from the Assassination Nights that they will kill him if he goes ahead in some policy. Limeskin cannot help her and suggests Willem. He turns down even before he has to hear what he says. He doesn’t intend to play the hero. There is a citation where the military cannot interfere with politics and Willem’s perception that those on the justice side aren’t any better off as they tend to use violence and force to legitimize their righteousness. Either way, Willem doesn’t care. Oh, time to go pick up Tiat. That doesn’t stop Phyr from following them. Because Tiat is hungry and smells some nice stall food, Phyr takes them to a proper and better place. Phyr and Tiat click because of how much they love the place. Strangely, it becomes a sightseeing tour with Phyr becoming their tour guide.

After a while, they are surrounded by the Assassination Knights. They plan to kidnap Phyr as insurance. These jokers… Anyway, Willem knew they were following them and was using Phyr as bait. Willem then uses his hand as an air gun and shoots them! For real? Luckily the golem guards are here to round them all up. Willem snickers and the girls think he really looks like the bad guy here. Willem gets thanks for nothing since Phyr slaps him for using her. Then she chides him for rubbing her belly when they first met (albeit accidentally) because there is some sort of romantic connotations to it. Then she storms off. Looks like she won’t be needing his help anymore. On the way back, Chtholly knows the trick to his air gun. It was just a distraction and he was shooting coins from his other hand. As his student, she knows his fighting style. She knows he wants to return to fight. That is what they are here for as they’ve on all his battles. Willem admits he spent years waiting for death, wanting to go back to those waiting for him. Meeting them has changed him. He now has a place to return. With them returning alive, it brings him happiness. Chtholly then admits that she loves him. Before they could step into the airship, Buronny Maxi from the military police wants Willem to come with him for there is someone he wants him to meet. Not interested. Till he mentions the name Souwong Kandel. It made him stop dead in his tracks. Chtholly knows the implication of this and presses hard for Willem not go. She threatens to get mad. And then cry. Well, still not enough to stop him. He promises to come back but it feels hollow.

Episode 6
Willem is shocked to see this old sage is Souwong. Likewise that old fart is shocked to see Willem alive. So all the years he cried for nothing? It’s funny to see the duo jabbing each other and Souwong sounding so gay with his comebacks. But how can Souwong still be alive for 500 years? He did die in that battle. But before that he placed a curse on himself and altered his life force. He cannot die of old age or injury and is no longer human. Souwong wants to bring him to see another person. On the holy grounds of Sky Island 2, there is something familiar with this huge talking skull. Eboncandle was the beast Willem fought before being petrified. Souwong would gladly slap him to see if this is just a dream. Eboncandle was also shocked when he woke up in this form. Willem learns that in order for the survivors to escape the 17 beasts, Souwong and Eboncandle used all their powers to levitate some of the ground that became the floating islands as we know today. Somehow that power lasted till today. The 17 beasts were originally biological weapons born as a result of an armed cult’s failed research. You could say that humans did destroy the surface. Souwong considers Willem indispensable to their plan to take back the surface. The plan is to attack the 17 beasts themselves. The battle might require all resources from all the cities. Though they can produce fairies, their problem is the shortage of usable carillons. However this touched a nerve in Willem. Flashback shows Chtholly going crazy with her crazy dream. It caused her to cut the island in half! And right now she is going crazy and losing herself.

Souwong continues explaining that fairies are borderline unstable ghosts. Souls of children not realizing they are dead wandering in the world. He considers them not as living and with his necromancy skills, allowed him to produce fairies from them. Their short lives make it ideal for combat as they produce explosive venenum. But if they generate too much, memories of past lives can eat into them causing mental disintegration. Willem is not please he takes lightly their sacrifice. He doesn’t care about Souwong’s desire to return to the surface or take it back one day. I mean, who will they return to? Who is there waiting for them? He cares more about the fairies who will die soon than the world’s future. Because Regles Aile is a place everyone calls home. Buronny comes in with a report that Chtholly’s mind has start disintegrating. Anxious Willem immediately returns to her side. He is shocked to see her in vegetative state as Ithea says she kept her promise as long as she could. She should have died in battle but because she wanted to see him so badly, she held out. Chtholly is in some abstract wold, following a girl name Elq. Chtholly doesn’t remember who she is but remembers there is something important to do and returns. You can see Willem and Nygglatho’s shock when they hear Chtholly starts talking about Willem giving her many first experiences. From her first tower view to her first loss in battle, it is no surprise he should be the first one to fall in love with. We can do the talking later because hugging and crying out loud is more important. Miracle of love?

Episode 7
On a survey ship, Rhantolk and Nopht are a fairytale about humans as the biggest mistake God made since they created beasts that destroyed the surface. Grick then comes to greet them as his way of thanking his ‘bodyguards’. They are interested to know more about these beasts because they threaten the existence of others but they are also the very reason for fairies to exist. Nygglatho examines Chtholly. She concludes that her body isn’t of a leprechaun right now because her blood had no reaction to whatever chemical that was mixed in. Chtholly is worried it may be a side effect of the coma as strands of her hair are turning red. Other than that, she feels healthy and good. Until things settle down, she wants her to stay away from dug weapons. So what good is a fairy who can’t fight? Nygglatho suggests getting married. Willem’s contract will expire and they need to drill into his head that this place is his home, his family. Since Chtholly is not confident, Nygglatho gives a little push or rather a warning to be quick or some other girls might snatch him. And so Chtholly gets her wish granted as Willem bakes her a butter cake. I’m sure it isn’t so good that she starts crying. Ah, the good taste after having fought a tough battle. Chtholly continues her normal life but has to live with Ithea constantly teasing her about her romance. Nygglatho has Willem and Limeskin meet up. Dragon dude looks weird in casual clothes because he is suspended from service for losing a battle. They talk about Chtholly’s future. As she is not a leprechaun temporarily but on paper she is still a fairy, this means she cannot be discharged nor turn down a sortie. Can Limeskin adjust the line-up? He could but the order might come from someone higher. Willem wonders if Souwong has any influence in the military. He is the top adviser. Willem wants it to send a report that makes it sound like in order to research leprechaun physiology, Willem has chosen Chtholly as a test subject. Souwong will take this as an indirect way of him to be given responsibility of her and will agree thinking he can make him owe him. Willem thinks the problem is to replace Chtholly but he doesn’t know that they have more battle ready fairies. In addition to Ithea, Nephren and Tiat, there are Nopht and Rhantolk too. Right now they are on the surface. A beast attacks a military outpost but Nopht easily cuts it apart.

Episode 8
Willem is ordered to see his superior, Goldey Mogtaman on Sky Island 49 for a mission. He has to transport a huge airship down to the surface where the team there is researching the ruins. As they have found a large quantity of emnetwiht relics, thus a large transport is needed. He gives him see a journal of the ruins. Willem recognizes some of the landmarks. It is his birthplace, Gomag City in the Imperial territory. But it is the dug weapon, Lapidemsibilus that he is interested in. After that he accompanies Chtholly shopping and she likes the idea other people think they are a couple. He tells her he is going to the surface and picked Nephren. He is tired of waiting for others to return. Lapidemsibilus has this ability that keeps its wielder in top-top condition so it might help with Chtholly’s health. This means she too wants to come along with him. While he tries to dissuade her, she is practically stubborn, citing his own words that she too is tired of waiting others to return. Heck, she even got permission from Goldey. But Willem only knows that happened because he thought Chtholly is his lover and many officers usually bring their secretaries on trips.

Willem and Nephren overslept as they do research on Lapidemsibilus. With Ithea waking them up, she didn’t think Willem had a chance with Chtholly but he indicates he has liked her from the start. Starting to look like a real couple, Chtholly gets mad when she finds out he was ‘sleeping’ with Nephren again. That guy considers Nephren like a daughter but when Chtholly asks if she was the one in Nephren’s shoes, Willem would throw her out immediately then. No food for you. Willem then talks to Nygglatho and she tells Willem that Chtholly’s worries are because she views Nygglatho as a rival. Him treating them the same means he sees her as a girl. Nygglatho also rates him highly as a man and doesn’t mind being with him. She would love to be part of his life and family. But since Chtholly’s happiness is her priority, she won’t be going all out right now. Willem has a despicable request: He wants to pretend he didn’t hear all that. All the little girls are rushing out to watch the shooting stars. They’re fooling around on the roof when Almita falls off. Willem uses his supersonic speed to try and catch her but it is Chtholly who is faster as she used her venenum. The kid is okay and Chtholly a bit messed up (though she can’t seem to remember Almita’s name) but it is Willem who is most emotional and worried mad about her. As she is no longer a fairy, he is worried there is no telling what the effects on her body are if she takes such risks. Chtholly brushes off this issue and is confident she will return to normal in no time. But during the bath, she starts to see that creepy dream again. At the end of it, more of her hair has turned red as she remembers Elq.

Episode 9
It might look like Ithea is trolling Chtholly when she asks who she is. But it’s her way of checking if she still remembers. Thankfully yes. Ithea advises her not to remember those past memories and not to exert venenum and trigger it. She might have come back this time but nobody can tell the next. Ithea also tells her a story of a girl she knew who lost her memories and woke up in a strange place. That’s actually herself when she was first brought to this place. So luckily that girl kept a diary which recorded her past self. She wanted to kill herself but it would meaningless so to atone for all that she took over as Ithea without letting anyone else know. Chtholly is motivated to live like there is no tomorrow. With Collon sick for a while, Willem hopes Chtholly can put this talisman charm underneath her pillow to help heal her. But once Nygglatho learns he dismantled part of Seniorious, she blows her top. Dug weapons aren’t toys! Sure, but Collon’s health takes priority. Can’t argue about that. Chtholly talks to Willem about his old home. What was life back then? How was food there? Did he love someone? Do you want to go back? Well, it was 500 years ago. This place is now his home. On some snowy night festival, everyone celebrates by dining and having fun inside since it is too snowy to do anything outside. Chtholly knitted scarfs for all the little ones as presents. Then she dresses up bride-like and cue for Willem to compliment her and ask her whatever. Willem also receives a letter from Phyr thanking them for their help the other day and hopes they can visit again. The day comes when Willem, Chtholly and Nephren leave for the retrieval and rescue mission. They bid farewell to the rest as Chtholly narrates that she actually has lost half her memories of these girls. She was just pretending and putting up a façade. She wonders if she really falls apart, will she still be Chtholly. Right now she wants to hold all those feelings close to her heart because one day it will all disappear too and there will be nothing left of her. When they arrive at the ruins, Nopht talks to Nephren and is sad thinking Chtholly had died. She regrets never getting along with her. When Chtholly says hi, Nopht freaks out and runs away thinking she is a ghost!

Episode 10
Rhantolk and Nopht meet Willem for the first time and are surprised he is an emnetwiht. But Willem needs a favour of them. So he is giving Nopht a back massage? Feels good, right? Rhantolk is sceptical but when it comes her turn, why does she sound more erotic? Thanks for the back massage but Rhantolk won’t give her trust easily thinking this must be his way to trick women for his evil intentions. Whatever. As they talk about the 17 beasts and if their source was from a biological weapon, there must be some sort of organism used as a base. Willem goes down to the base camp to meet Goldey. He sees Grick arguing about sending another expedition deep underground to grab more relics. Grick is against it because it is dangerous, the reason salvagers work in small groups. But what’s done is done. Willem now has to sort out the relics haphazardly chuck into the storeroom just to find the dug weapon. Several beast officers are making fun of Chtholly as more than just Willem’s secretary. But then when she starts cleaning the place spick and span, they respect her. Heck, they become her lackeys to clean the place! Their love increases when she cooks for them and even sews their clothes! Damn you Willem, you better treat your future wife good! And when Chtholly’s intention of coming down here with him is just because she wants to be with him, man they’re crying in envy that she’s too good for him. When a small tremor hits the place, Chtholly experiences that creepy dream again. This time a name, Lillia pops up. She sees Elq in a room. Lillia Asplay, a knight in a sword has taken some serious damage barges in to kill her. She wants to save the world for the one she loves. Chtholly wakes up in her room. She is glad she still remembers herself. Then she goes visit Willem who is tuning Nopht’s dug weapon, Kinslayer. He shows her Lapidemsibilus. He believes it will be the end of her memory loss days. When Willem doesn’t find anything wrong with Kinslayer, he realizes something is indeed wrong. You see, Kinslayer is a dug weapon that is used to only kill humans and yet Nopht uses it to slay the beasts. Remembering Rhantolk’s words, then it hit him hard, the true culprits who are making the fairies suffer. Immediately he hugs Chtholly and though she tries to console him, he springs another surprise by asking her to marry him! He is thankful she helped him find what he wanted, something he wanted to protect, a home to return to, a reason to live. In return, he wants to make her happy.

Episode 11
Chtholly asks Rhantolk the meaning of happiness. Well, to each her own. Now Chtholly can’t really look Willem in the eye in fear of rejection. As they go down to the ruins, Grick guides them. They see an old poster about the forces of the visitor, Elq Hrqstn. Legend has it this world was once home to gods. They attacked humans to wipe them out. The gods in the poster are Carminelake, Jadenail and Eboncandle. The ground caves in and takes them along. Others on the surface are being attacked the beast. They follow the underground cave dug by the underground team and it only leads to their massacred bodies. Chtholly starts acting strange. She hears Elq’s voice and flies off on her own. But the rest manage to keep up and find themselves before a crystalized Elq. At this point, Chtholly’s hair is 95% red. As the place is caving in, they have to run. Chtholly is unresponsive as Willem carries her out. He is by her side as she lays motionless in a bed on the ship. Chtholly is watching the faceoff between Elq and Lillia. After Lillia stabs her, she collapses. Elq explains to Chtholly that humans tried to destroy the world. To prevent that, the 3 gods watching over the world sent in an army to wipe them out but failed because a human hero killed their master first. Their master is Elq. Then they turned into beasts and destroyed everything. Elq says she is the last of the visitors who died as a child. Elq is also the name of Chtholly’s soul. Ever since Lillia killed her, she had been dreaming of becoming like he to put her life on the line fighting for those she loves. That is what those leprechauns are. And just like all dreams, they will vanish and be forgotten. Nopht and Rhantolk are feeling great as they slice the beasts. Thanks to that dubious massage… The beasts also break into the ship but luckily Nephren is around to take them out. Unfortunately she too is at her dangerous limits. Now Willem is seeing a vision of his younger self berating him about he doesn’t care about her at all. He just used a substitute to wield Seniorious. As he couldn’t keep his promise to Almaria, he made a new promise to Chtholly instead. He never saw her for who she was and kept treating her like a child. Willem denies as all he wants is to make everyone happy. He notes he has failed his promise again and after kissing Chtholly, a beast breaks in. Wrong place, wrong time. Somebody needs to get their ass whipped. Elq further explains that by now Chtholly’s mind and body have been replaced with Elq’s. However since she made it here, it prevented her from disappearing completely. Since she still remembers her joys and sorrows, Chtholly is still Chtholly. She remembers Willem…

Episode 12
Willem goes on a killing spree while he regrets being powerless to save anybody. Even if what he is doing now is useless, the only thing he can do is fight. After he saves Rhantolk from being beast fodder, he collapses from his injuries. But a few minutes later he wakes up to return to the fighting. She wonders if emnetwihts are stupidly this strong since he fought without any weapons. He tells he was one of the chosen warriors to fought enemies and saved people. It was his dream so he learnt how to fight and even tune dug weapons. However he realized it isn’t enough to save anybody. Not Almaria. Not Lillia. Not Chtholly. As Chtholly is watching Willem fight with Elq, she wants to fight one last time but Elq protests seeing she will completely lose her emotions and memories and disappear this time. She knows. But she has something to say to him one last time. Nephren is already at her limit. She expends a vast amount of venenum to save the ship’s crew. But now the ship is losing altitude after losing a few engines. Nephren slides off but Willem won’t allow it and grabs her. She warns him her Fairy Gate will open and the explosion will take the ship down. He doesn’t care. He’ll figure a way out. Desperate, is he? She tells him it is a leprechaun’s job to save others. Willem has done a lot to save them already. She lets go and plunges. But Willem still won’t allow it and dives down to grab her. Nopht is also down and heavily injured. Chtholly wakes up from her slumber (her hair now fully red) and takes Nopht’s dug weapon. Nopht tells her not to do it but Chtholly believes she cannot be happier anymore. Because she is already the happiest girl in the world. She jumps down and expends great amount of venenum to cushion Willem’s fall. Then she goes off to fight the beasts on the ground. While doing so, we hear Chtholly and Willem’s thoughts on how they meant a lot to each other, how happy they were together, etc. The beasts finally kill Chtholly as she explodes. Chtholly’s last words for Willem: Thank you. In the aftermath, Limeskin pays respects to the fallen Chtholly and Nephren. Rhantolk and Nopht recuperate in hospital with the latter complaining noisily. Nygglatho and Ithea watch over the young ones who are slowly growing stronger but taking their seniors’ death maturely. Souwong wonders if Willem is dead because he cannot trace his pulse signal. Finally, what looks like to be a new ‘useless’ world, a young baby with striking resemblance to Chtholly is born.

Remember Me The One Who Lives There, She Once Was A True Love Of Mine
I promise myself I wouldn’t cry… But I’m just bad in keeping them… Sob, sob. I am still reeling from the shock of the tragedy. Despite I had an earlier hunch that it would turn out so but I thought I could do a Willem that something would turn around and change things. However in addition for me being sad, I was also left confused with the confusing ending. We are not sure if Willem had died even though Souwong gave us a big hint. Besides, Willem was left down on the surface. Could he have survived? But the most confusing one is the rebirth of Chtholly. Not sure if this is another world or the same world or maybe a flashback at the beginning when Chtholly first came into this world. This series could have been tragically lovely but with that WTF ending, that reduced a lot of points that I would have ultimately given to this series as overall.

Despite the setting of the end of the world, what we mostly get and expected are the deep drama and romance especially between the main characters. Each of the characters might be a little cliché like Willem as the moody guy, Chtholly the tsundere, Nephren the emotionless one, Ithea the lively and cheeky one and Nygglatho the big sister and mother to everyone. Ultimately it boils down to a slow and steady romance between Willem and Chtholly. Unlike most male protagonists in this kind of genre, Willem isn’t a dense guy. He knows it but just finds it hard to show it. Sometimes it gets annoying and it makes you want to just scream to them to just be honest with each other. Sometimes it gets heart-warming to see some of the moments they spend with each other. Their relationship isn’t perfect and they do stumble a lot along the way.

So basically it’s like taking the end of the world to finally make their love shine through. Not exactly the end of the world but the end of their lives. In a way, that is like the end of the world, don’t you think? Too bad I can’t vouch for a harem because imagining Willem with the other young girls makes him look like a lolicon. Oh heck, him playing and taking care with them already makes him look like one. It’s sad that Willem during his final moments were if he was still filled with all the regrets he couldn’t save anybody. I wonder if this would turn him into a ghost and wander the surface and kill beasts? Nah… He can’t be reborn too because only fairies can do that, right? Humans all go to hell! Sorry, just kidding… Just trying to ease up a little on my sadness. I guess finding Lapidemsibilus didn’t help at all.

I can’t help but feel sad for Chtholly sometimes. Her fate is already sealed from the moment she came into manifestation. Even more so when she initially accepted her fate to die in battle. Though Willem changed all that and she got to experience love, that isn’t without its shortcomings. It is heart wrenching to see her go through the mental torture of just trying to stay sane and herself. Seeing her in anguish over her mental breakdown was just disheartening. You will never know when she will forever disappear and it could be any moment. Thus this makes her very fragile and even the more reason why she needs to cherish every single moment she has right now. It is sad that they cannot be with each other anymore but assuming if Willem is dead, then I could at least be at peace that they are reunited in death. Also assuming that new born Chtholly is not canon. So it goes to show that the most important aspect about loving each other is not how long but how much you do for each other within the limited time you have. If they really knew their time would be up for real, would they have sped up their romance? Well, better to have been in love than not love at all.

There are other interesting plots and developments in this series but given the fact that the focus is on the drama and romance, it feels side-lined. It would have been interesting to see the entire flashback of how humans actually destroyed the world and then some of them becoming the basis and source of the 17 beasts as well as what happened subsequently. It would have been interesting to see more about the past life of Willem before his 500 year slumber. It would have been interesting to see the plans Souwong and Eboncandle have in mind to take back the surface. It would have been interesting as well to know how fairies and leprechauns are actually made or come into manifestation. I’m sure they don’t come from an egg. Many of these stuffs are mentioned and explained briefly throughout the episodes so it doesn’t get in the way of the main important stuff. But I feel that the entire story as a whole would be better if they were given some attention too.

One of the other confusing gripes that I have with this series is the naming of its episode titles. I didn’t read the light novel so I’m not sure if it has something to do with it. You see, when the titles for each episode get displayed, the English translation of it differs. A lot. So much so they mean a different thing altogether. Maybe in the broadest and most general of sense but if it was me, I wouldn’t have come up with that sort of title. Yes people, my Japanese is decent enough to understand (and sometimes read!) what the simple title means. For example, an episode that I would have translated as “If this War Ended” (Kono Tatakai Ga Owattara), its English translation was “Starry Road To Tomorrow”. Huh? What about “Disappearing Past, Disappearing Future” (Kienai Kako, Kieteiku Mirai)? “No News Was Good News”! WTF?! I can sense some relatability with “Please, Do Forget It” (Douka, Wasurenaide) with “Evidence Of Existence” but how did “My Happiness” came out from “This Time It Shines”? And this is the ultimate of it all: How do you translate “The World’s Most Happiest Girl” (Sekai De Ichiban Shiawase Na Onna No Ko)? “Chtholly”!!! I know it makes sense but really… The only one that sounded reasonable was “Home Sweet Home” coming from “I’m Home” (Tadaima Kaerimashita). (Edit: I later found out the mid-intermission had stated these second titles).

There are some action bits in here although it is not the main and strong focus point of the series. It gives a reason to see young girls in dug weapons cut down regenerating beasts and blood spilling everywhere. So it isn’t that exciting since we just see the girls (whenever possible) how they just swing the dug weapon around. We don’t see the special properties of each dug weapon and it is a shame since there are a few of them and the only ones believed to be the only thing that can take down the 17 beasts. The action also somewhat signals a sense of danger that the girls can die any time so there is some grimness in this necessary bit.

Art and drawing fare well. Since it is a fantasy setting, the floating islands and the building and town structures take on more of a European feel. Despite the grimness of the overall world (because it feels like everyone is living in fear that the beasts below might somehow invade the skies someday), sometimes it feels out of place that the leprechaun ladies are so colourful in their physical appearance. Yeah, each one has a different natural hair colour that distinguishes one apart from the other. I thought it looked like some magical girl idol show. The designs of the dug weapons I can say they are creative at least from my perspective. They look badass enough and I wished I’d see more of them. Though the ‘lines’ in their blades sometimes make it look like as though they are on the verge of being broken.

When the first episode played a rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s Scarborough Fair, it was a very lovely cover of it by Tamaru Yamada and I thought it would be the opening theme for the rest of the episodes (though the song was more of an insert song). I really love that piece so much so thinking about this series automatically makes me hum that song in my head! Not to say that I really loved Scarborough Fair but it is one of those decent songs that I would hear if I ever wanted to listen to something from Simon & Garfunkel. Unfortunately Dearest Drop by Azusa Tadokoro became the series’ opening theme for the rest of its duration. For a romance fantasy like this series, playing a lively song doesn’t really quite fit into the atmosphere and narrative of it. It just feels so out of place. Especially the way this song ‘ended so suddenly’ makes it a whole lot weirder. Luckily I get my wish for Scarborough Fair to be played again albeit in the final episode during Chtholly’s final battle. It was powerful. It was sad. RIP Chtholly and Nephren. There are other slow and lovely insert songs throughout the series which have this tinge of sadness to them. The ending theme, From by True isn’t so bad as comparison although it is still a rock piece and personally I feel it still doesn’t fit into the overall mood of this series.

Generally the voice acting is rather okay and nothing really special. Those recognizable are Kikuko Inoue as Nygglatho, Juurouta Kosugi as Limeskin, Cho as Goldey and Mugihito as Souwong. I couldn’t recognize Shigeru Chiba behind Grick since he wasn’t in his usual like One Piece’s Buggy or Maison Ikkoku’s Yotsuya. Same for Rina Satou as Lillia since she has very short and limited appearances. The other casts are Ryohei Arai as Willem (Dorgon in Lance N’ Masques), Azusa Tadokoro as Chtholly (Kotori in Gokukoku No Brynhildr), Akari Uehara as Nephren (Yuuko in Nyanko Days), Machiko as Ithea (Nishiyama in Sansha Sanyou), Tomomi Mizuma as Tiat (Mei Yuzuha in Aikatsu), Kazusa Aranami as Rhantolk (Grenda in Robot Girls Z), Inori Minase as Nopht (Carol in Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX) and Takashi Matsuyama as Eboncandle (Lovro in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu). The only voice acting that stood out is Hikari Okada who plays Elq. If you ever wonder why she sounds like an authentic 5 year old, she is. Okay, I don’t know her real age (not explicitly stated) but she is still definitely a kindergarten and at most an early elementary school kid. I never knew a kid’s voice could be so creepy especially when she is as Elq inside Chtholly’s head voicing those creepy dreams. Enough to give me nightmares! Lesson #1, when you hear an innocent child voice in horror movies, run! That’s why they’re so effective in scaring us.

Overall, this is a surprisingly good take on the drama and romance genre of a fantasy setting as opposed to the other real life high school or young adult type. Even when everything seems depressing and no hope but only the end of the world in sight, the notion of love pulls everything through somehow. If everyone can live every day and love everything as if it is their last, the world would so much be a better place. Boring maybe. Sometimes I think the humans of the old here lack love and that’s why they even bested the gods and destroyed everything including themselves. These people really do want to see the world burn down. No wonder other creatures term humans as emnetwihts because it sounds like dumbwits or twits or twats. Oh well. I guess they won’t be around to be offended by that.

Saishuu Heiki Kanojo

August 25, 2017

Imagine if your girlfriend is no ordinary girl. I mean, every guy considers their girlfriend as extraordinary but what if she is really not ordinary. As in, she is a weapon. A weapon of mass destruction. A weapon that could destroy the world. Would you still date this ‘monster’? For the leading guy here in Saishuu Heiki Kanojo (Saikano), he would. Because the story in focus here is not how many enemies she kills or what ultimate forms of weaponry she could transform into and have. It is the tragic and human factor as the couple try to love each other as a human and staying as human beings while the inevitable war rages on. Will their love blossom and save the day or will she lose her humanity and become a mindless tool for destruction?

Episode 1
Shuuji is at a cold decimated place where he first met his girlfriend, Chise. He spots their exchange diary and thinks back of those good ol’ days. He narrates Chise isn’t particularly an outstanding student. Clumsy, weak, bad grades except history and have this penchant to apologize. Despite walking up the steep slopes is a daunting task for her, she still wants to as she wants to get to know him better. It has only been 5 days since she asked him to go out with her and they have already started exchanging diaries. Of course he finds it embarrassing to put his thoughts into words. Chise is relieved when he handed it back to her but to her disappointment it says he can’t do it and wants to meet up with her after school. Nervous, thinking it would be a real confession, Shuuji drops the bomb that he wants to quit this dating thing. It’s not her fault. He isn’t good at this. Chise is of course heartbroken but then she too spills that she doesn’t want to do this. What? Now she’s blaming it is his fault? Well, she always wanted to know what it is like to be in love. She asked her friend Akemi and even read manga but nothing came close. Since she admired Shuuji for a long time, Akemi thought she would just try to ask him out. Nobody knew Shuuji would accept it. I mean, would a guy normally turn down a cute girl? Noticing how awkward everything this is, they start laughing instead. Shuuji suggests giving this a chance since they have already started dating. So what’s next? A kiss. Seriously? Serious. They kiss for the first time and they could hear each other’s nervous heartbeat. They continue to hang out with each other. One day a school outing at Sapporo, Shuuji and his friends are shopping for stuffs. Suddenly they feel the earth vibrate. Earthquake? Actually in the distance, jet fighters. They’re not from Japan. Before they know it, it starts bombing! The chaos gets worse when local fighters enter the scene and other than buildings falling apart, fighter jets are also crashing down. Shuuji sees a flash that takes down the enemy fighters in no time. His heart resonates with it as he tries to chase it down but gets knocked out by an explosion. When he wakes up amidst the rubble, he is shocked to see Chise with weapons protruding from parts of her body. She apologizes this is what she has become. In shock, he hugs her but couldn’t hear her heartbeat.

Episode 2
A week after the air raid, Shuuji and Chise dating like normal? Like as though nothing of that sort happened? Well, Chise has told Shuuji about the weapon implants in her body. Nothing they can do about it, right? Chise also has to keep a pager in case of emergency calls from the military. Like now. Despite tens of thousands dead and much more missing, Shuuji and his friends make a vow not to speak about it because one of their friends was killed. Shuuji is reading the exchange diary and reads about Chise being apologetic about the events that have happened. Because she needs to keep this secret weapon from everyone else, it was a reason why she was embarrassed to be seen by anyone, especially him. She lists down his kindness and forced smile that sometimes make her sad. He rushes out to get her but catches her in her weapon form. Upon realizing he is watching, her embarrassment causes her to revert back to normal. After noticing the scars on her back, he scolds her for coming home like that. He regrets trying to ignore reality which only makes Chise suffer. Although she can’t tell anyone else, Shuuji says as lovers, it will be their secret. One day Akemi tells Shuuji to look after Chise better because it seems like she is going on a diet. When he finds her, she seems to be eating like a glutton in secret. She apologizes she can’t take it anymore. She thought if she fast, she would become weaker but it didn’t. She is afraid of what her body is turning into. Shuuji hugs her. Perhaps a kiss too but Chise won’t allow it. They’re watching her. Not sure whether it is Japan or some other nation but she can tell. Shuuji suggests running away. How far can his bicycle take her? The enemy detects her on the move and she can detect them coming for her. She tells Shuuji not to look behind but ahead. That’s because her body is starting to turn into a weapon. It then fires missiles to destroy the enemies. As they take a breather, the military now is looking for her via helicopter. Chise has this thought of shooting them down but Shuuji stops her. Chise kisses him and apologizes there is no weapon that doesn’t kill. Maybe it would have been better if she dies. I’m not sure what Shuuji is thinking but is sex the proper thing right now?! But then this huge hideous scar over her body might just be the biggest turn off.

Episode 3
Chise is crying how she cannot hear her own heartbeat anymore. She regrets being like this and wants to disappear. Even so, she is in love. She wants to live. Shuuji to gets emotional explaining he wants to live with her and all. He suggests running away. So they go home and pack their bags and leave just like that. Wow. Their parents are sure too busy to even care. However Chise gets a notice from the army to sortie to Osaka now. She doesn’t want to go but they warn her she is the only one who can save lives and if she refuses, this place would be targeted next. Shuuji waits at the station but she never turned up till morning. Her clothes are torn and there are bruises everywhere. All he does is hug her. So I guess plans to run away is put on hold. They head to school the next morning and act as though all of last night never happened. Along the way, Shuuji seems to notice his senior, Fuyumi heading in the opposite direction. Akemi talks to Shuuji because Chise seems to know him acting strange lately. He tells her about Fuyumi so Akemi wants him to talk about this to Chise instead. Flashback shows Shuuji somewhat made out with Fuyumi. When hanging out with Chise, she gets another sortie. This time she really wants to go but Shuuji can’t allow her to change in the middle of the street. She enters an abandon house to do so and blasts off in the sky. However the blast impact made a nearby lady on her bicycle fall off. Shuuji goes to help her and realizes too late she is Fuyumi. She is so happy to see him. He brings her back to her place to treat her minor wounds. It is obvious she is trying to flirt with him so he reminds her he already has a girlfriend. And what’s this? Fuyumi is married?! Well, she is blaming her husband, Tetsu for this. He hasn’t come back in 2 months. She’s lonely. As Chise goes on a rampage, she remembers the night Shuuji wanted to run away with her, something inside her broke. The mechanic told her she will never be the same again. Shuuji thinks himself as a cruel man to be cheating on Chise. When he was with Fuyumi, he forgot about Chise. That made him felt easier with her forgotten.

Episode 4
Shuuji and Chise go on a date. It must be a cheap date at the coastal area since they lost their wallet. It seems Chise didn’t bring her pager as she didn’t want it to interrupt their date. Everything goes fine until the evening when they walk home. Shuuji notices how cold her hand is and wonders how human is she left. Then before them is a roadblock. The army has found her. Time to go. Shuuji wanted to give his piece of mind but Chise holds him back. It’s okay. She goes with them and the last thing Shuuji saw was her smile. Mad Shuuji can only run. What does he do next? He goes to sleep with Fuyumi! As she was starting to make out, he suddenly starts crying. He is saying how much he loves Chise and wants to protect her. Uhm, is it wise to mention another girl’s name when you’re with another girl? Chise returns to the base after another successful mission. Some of the soldiers are awed to see her in the flesh. They are reprimanded by Tetsu who is the squad leader for being disrespectful to their superior officer. As they rest, Chise talks about Shuuji and how his scolding somewhat makes her feel alive. It makes her believe she is still human. Her comrades try to cheer her up that because of her fighting, they are still alive. Chise suddenly detects the enemy stealth weapons targeting her. Thanks to that, her comrades have enough time to take cover as the place explodes. Chise transforms and we see how much it hurts her. As she takes down the enemy, she realizes the need to save and protect people. Maybe then she would get praised by Shuuji. Maybe then things would go back to normal. When the mission is over, Tetsu praises her for another job well done. However she wants him to kill her. She can’t stand this anymore. She was a fool to think she could protect anything. Tetsu prepares to shoot her.

Episode 5
Chise breaks down and changes her mind. She wants to live despite killing so many. Tetsu also changes his stance. He tells her not to worry because nobody can stop her so she can’t die. He tries to cheer her up by telling about his wife. Despite he might die soon, he still wants to go home and hold her because he loves her. So Chise decides to live since she has someone she loves. But in class, she starts acting strange and everyone laughs at her when she says there is going to be an earthquake soon. This forces Shuuji to quickly run out and smash the fire alarm, prompting everyone to assemble outside. He then tries to find out what is happening to Chise but she tells him to run and not watch her transform. At first he takes up her advice. But after the building is blown up, he returns to her side only to be freaked out to see how she transforms. Not really sure if it failed since Chise reverts to herself albeit she is acting callous as though she is sick of everything. All he can do is hug her. She then reverts to the usual Chise. As she tries to explain, he shuts her off about apologizing. It seems the army is here to get her. He doesn’t want her to go but she must. She is now dependent on maintenance and medicine. He wants her to meet him tonight at the observation hill as he has lots to say to her. After that he returns to his friends and tells them Chise is taken to a hospital. Akemi is still mad and slaps him. He slaps her! Obviously a blood curling cry. And then his friend Atsushi punches him. The guys talk it out as Atsushi plans to quit school and get drafted as there is a girl he loves he wants to protect. That night, Chise breaks her pager as it is ringing emergency just to go meet Shuuji. Because of that, Tetsu’s position got attacked and one of his men is left dying. Tetsu is forced to hear his regrets and his wish of being killed by Chise then he doesn’t have to suffer like this. Tetsu shoots him to put him out of his misery. Chise is now confronted by the army who begs her to come. She wants to keep her promise to Shuuji although they say reconnaissance did not find Shuuji there. She still wants to go and when they turn their guns on her, she warns them if they are willing to blow up this town. They try to convince her more people will die if she doesn’t come but to her it is no different. Be it enemies or the people she loves, more will die and she will still feel pain. So she goes off to look for Shuuji but cannot find him. She sees clips that he is at Fuyumi’s place! Why that bastard! She doesn’t want to see it and continues waiting. When she wakes up by dawn, Shuuji is cuddling her but she knows he lied.

Episode 6
We see a short flashback of Shuuji’s unfaithfulness with Fuyumi. More like she seduced him but it’s no excuse, right? So when Chise finds Shuuji by her side, she tried to kiss him but he pushed her away. She started crying and just wished of going back to being just classmates. So as they lie around, Shuuji starts saying how he would like to have sex with Chise but each time he sees that face and scar on her body, he fears it would be painful. Chise doesn’t want to hear any more of this but he continues. He had sex with Fuyumi before and just did. Because he reminded her of her boyfriend, she started crying each time she looked at his face. So he thought he can’t ignore her if she needed his help? WTF. Now it is Chise’s turn to have her say. She is his girlfriend, damnit. She too has lots of things to say but is holding back. Too bad she has this face she is born with and the scar proves she is human. If he wanted sex, why didn’t he just say so. She too would like to have sex with him even more than Fuyumi. After being late for school, they break up. Later Shuuji talks to Atsushi and he too got rejected by Akemi as she loved another guy. But he still wants to quit school and be drafted to protect her. Chise continues to go to school and fight wars as if it was a normal routine. Akemi hopes Chise would reconcile quick with Shuuji but don’t want to hear her lover’s quarrel problems. Because Atsushi continues to talk with Shuuji about fighting the enemy and dying, he tells him off to die. He is going to grow old and die anyway. The question is, you don’t go to the battlefield to die. You go there to kill. Can he kill for Akemi? Shuuji is actually mad about himself for being weak and only thinking of his own helplessness while pretending to be Chise’s boyfriend. When they walk back, they hear the familiar sounds of air raid close by. Atsushi runs to find Akemi. Shuuji can tell it is Chise helping out before things got worse. When he sees her wandering in the streets, he immediately hugs her. She tries to push him away as they are no longer dating but she succumbs to his kiss.

Episode 7
As they try to seek comfort in each other, when Chise looks at the burning patch over the mountains of the enemies she downed, she assures Shuuji that the enemies died instantly and didn’t feel pain. This causes him to give her that worried look. She becomes sad and goes away. Next day in school, Akemi talks to Shuuji about breaking up with Chise but he says that they just went back to being classmates. She remembers Chise telling her about it and that she doesn’t want to fall in love again. However her feelings for Shuuji won’t disappear and she still loves him. Shuuji wants some advice to understand Chise but Akemi tells him off can a man really understand a woman. Later Shuuji meets up with Chise. They talk about Akemi and the war. Chise wonders if he will still love her despite being a killing machine. He does. He suggests skipping school tomorrow to go to the aquarium. But the next day, he finds a letter from Chise that she had to break their promise. On call again. Although she is glad to have fallen in love with him, she wants them to go back being classmates. She hopes he won’t be afraid of her the next time. Atsushi is now drafted. He sees for himself the situation is far worse than he thought he is. The negativity and fear of the new recruits. However he keeps hearing some of them talking about this ultimate weapon called Chise. He asks around but they can’t describe well. Of course Chise is scheduled to give a speech to these new recruits after another mission. Too bad Atsushi got lost and won’t be seeing her speech in person. Chise seems to be eager to go on the next mission. But when a personnel tells her they are now ordered to be on standby, she begs to go fight. She doesn’t want to rest. She wants to get stronger. Meanwhile Atsushi continues his asking about Chise and this leads him to Tetsu who is the lone survivor of Chise’s squad. But demoralized Tetsu isn’t interested in knowing him since he is going to die anyway. He doesn’t want to know more dead people. Meanwhile Shuuji makes his way to the aquarium. This is proof that Chise isn’t useless and has protected them. See those sea lions and dolphins? They’re still alive! So don’t say you’re useless and can’t protect anything. He believes there is something they can still do and protect.

Episode 8
Shuuji continues to ponder his existence as he notices his classmates are slowly thinning out. Atsushi seems to have adjusted to his army life. Till he hears one of the new recruits in his batch just died in a skirmish. Reality hits him hard. That night, Tetsu thought he heard somebody nearby. It could be the enemy. He goes to check it out but only finds crying Chise. He lets her sleep in his hideout and the next day hangs out with her. How does it feel to use their military authority to ‘steal’ a military bike just to go on a date? Shuuji didn’t like the way his friends easily talk about life and death when it could be Atsushi out there dying. Later Akemi talks to Shuuji about her worries that Atsushi got drafted just for her sake. She feels uneasy about it and is bothered by it to the point it scares her. Then Shuuji slaps her! Don’t talk about Atsushi like that! What Akemi meant was she hates herself for feeling like this. How could she live knowing that Atsushi killed somebody for her. Shuuji replies or wrong, Atsushi fought to protect her. While Tetsu waits for Chise in the dressing room, an enemy plane flies close by. This causes Chise to be in pain as she tries to suppress her transformation. Tetsu tries to calm her down and hug her. She only does so when he kisses her lips. On the way back, Tetsu wants her to go home but she refuses to make any more promises. She can tell peace will not last more than 3 days in this town. Negotiations have failed and the enemy will advance here. More people are going to die and their army’s strength is significantly down. That night Chise sleeps at Tetsu’s place. She allows him to kiss her because he is going to die after all. Shocking? Also, an earthquake hit the town deep in the middle of the night.

Episode 9
I guess Tetsu is going to make out with her. I mean, he is going to die, right? Chise kept asking him if this is love but he won’t answer. This prompts her to say Shuuji is the same. He lied to her about loving her despite being terrified. That’s why they go back being classmates so they wouldn’t hurt each other. She thought by being in love she would have a reason to live and makes her human. Tetsu lectures her about men and women and right now he is the only guy in the world who sees her as a girl. He lets her go and when she returns to base, she collapses since it has been 2 days she skipped maintenance and medicine. Her signs don’t look good. Another earthquake rocks the town and the next morning after Shuuji carries his mom to the relief centre, he passes by Akemi’s place. He sees her little sister outside who pleads to him to go see Akemi now. Insider her room, Akemi is very injured and bleeding everywhere. She wants him to come close so she could tell a message from Chise. However it is a prank as she kisses his lips. She confesses she loves him. The guy she likes is him. Atsushi knew about this because she told him when he confessed. Now that she is dying, she sees no reason to hold back. She continues talking about Atsushi. Because of all that, she gave her body to him when she wanted her first time to be with Shuuji. She doesn’t have a body of a woman now. Shuuji wants to take a look. He forces his way. Pervert! Then he lies through his teeth saying how beautiful it is. Is it me or does this guy like scarred bodies? Akemi then tells of her dreams to do things together like going to university and getting a car licence. She fears dying now but after coughing up all that blood, she finally finds her peace. Later Shuuji carries mom back and apologizes for not doing anything. She rubbishes his nonsense and that there is nothing greater for him to be alive and being born. Meanwhile Atsushi’s platoon is attacked. He is the only one who survived. He goes crazy because there is a hole in his Akemi picture? Can’t blame him. When the fighting gets real, Atsushi becomes a coward in hiding. He realizes he wants to live and see Akemi now. Another soldier takes him to run. Tetsu is injured. He decides to go back to Fuyumi’s place to die. To his horror, enemy soldiers camping there! The enemies escape but before them is Chise the weapon. Time to unleash that great light of death.

Episode 10
When Chise enters, she sees Tetsu dying. He is in pain and thinks Chise is Fuyumi. He kept calling out to Fuyumi to kill him to end his misery. She can’t. You don’t think allowing him to touch your boobs will make things better, would it? Okay. Maybe. So after all that screaming and drama, Tetsu finally dies after confessing his love for his wife. Chise’s only regret is that he never called her name. I mean, could you blame him? She is grateful he treated her as a girl all this time. She promises to deliver his letter to her. Then she returns to being a killing machine and obliterates another town. Not sure if Atsushi got caught in that blast. Meanwhile, Shuuji’s school is hosting a little party, supplies from Akemi’s dad. Hey, better than gloom and doom, right? Dad talks to Shuuji and gives him a wine he bought, saving it for the day Akemi would be old enough to talk about her love, future, etc. But she reached the finish line before him. He thanks Shuuji for being by her side during her last moments. Apparently some soldiers want to stop the party. In Shuuji’s head, he really wanted to tell them off they didn’t do anything to help them and that many of their friends also died. Instead, he prostrates himself and begs them to allow it. Chise leaves Tetsu’s letter and ID at wherever Fuyumi is staying. She breaks down upon knowing he is dead. Meanwhile Shuuji is being confronted by Kawahara, a guy from the military who gives him what is left of Chise’s medicine. He laments it is only a matter of time before she succumbs to her fate. Now that Tetsu is dead, Fuyumi finds Shuuji and wants him to make out with her. She’s not giving him a choice. She forces himself on him! Man, this would be great if times were good. But visions of Akemi staring at him freaked him out. So he gets rough with Fuyumi? Might as well. But Fuyumi doesn’t like it?! I thought she asked for it? Now he rants about being unable to protect her, blah, blah, blah. Then she slaps him and laments how she preferred the old simple minded him. That’s it. Sex’s over. Bye. Now Shuuji rues his old school boy fantasies of her. That was the last time he saw Fuyumi. Next morning, Shuuji sees Chise back and waiting for him at the school gates. They act like they’ve been a happy couple for ages and hang out with each other like as though no f*cks were given to the world.

Episode 11
Shuuji and Chise elope for good. It has been 5 days since they left town. Not sure where they are but they are living the ‘happy’ couple life with Shuuji working in a fish market and Chise drawing a long queue at a ramen store. Must be the clumsy girl factor… It seemed like forever their happy days. And of course the awkward sex moment. Shuuji even seemed to skip work just to make out with her! Oh yeah! Might as well since you can’t tell when you’re dead next. Luckily the good part ended before a small war exploded nearby their area in which temporarily awakened Chise. So the next time Shuuji sees her nose bleed, she claims she’s still being horny to cover up. Oh well… One day when Shuuji’s colleagues realize Chise didn’t show up for work, he immediately runs home to see her collapsed on the floor. He sees her medicine has run out and uses his stash from Kawahara. When Kawahara visits the ramen store, Chise uses some telepathy to communicate with him that what he is doing is meaningless as she is trying to spend as much time with Chise. So Kawahara goes to talk to Shuuji next and hopes he can convince Chise. You see, he believes the only way to save her is via war. He is surprised when Shuuji shows him the stash of medicine he gave not used up yet. That won’t last long and Chise will turn into something far more dangerous. Shuuji says Chise is his wife and if there comes a time, he will kill her himself. So Shuuji tries to fix up a bike so he can get away from this place and go picnic with Chise. He has his colleagues help him out. He later gives his medicine stash to Chise. The people find it odd that the same music is playing over the radio like as though someone is broadcasting something. But Chise starts to feel nostalgic with this song. She remembers it is a song Shuuji hums when he is in good mood. Chise then loses control over her senses and unsure if she is still human anymore. The picnic will never materialize since bombs are now dropping over town! Damn the bike got destroyed. Shuuji rushes back to Chise and sees her in the midst of transforming. As she is breaking down and panicking, he tries to hug her but gets zapped. He wonders if this is the kind of pain she faces daily. With Chise spouting regrets, Shuuji reluctantly says he is going to kill her. That calmed her down…

Episode 12
Of course Shuuji can’t kill her. Thankfully Chise returns to being docile. Shuuji takes on the role of nursing Chise. Lots of I love you stuffs here. Although she has lost her voice, he can still understand what she is trying to tell him. After her medicine has finally run out, she collapses. Shuuji carries her out as he calls out to Kawahara. He knows he is around. Yeah. There he is. And the army too. It’s like they’re waiting for this moment to bring back Chise. All Shuuji is concerned is if she will live. Oh, she will survive but he doesn’t know in what form. At this rate she will become an immortal killing machine. He doesn’t blame anybody and it is nobody fault. After that, Kawahara shoots himself. Shuuji returns to the room and reads Chise’s diary. An entry tells him to return to his family. So he returns to his town and at the observation hill, he reads more of Chise’s diaries. The ones she wrote when they started dating. I don’t know how long he took but suddenly Chise returns! However she doesn’t remember him. Oddly she starts crying and feels emotions in her heart. Shuuji explains he is her boyfriend, etc. Because of that, she wants to have his baby?! That escalated quickly. And she wonders if reproduction is a scary thing. And she’s scared of it now that Shuuji really wants to get it going?! OMG! Her arm just came off! She’s not even doing a handjob! Chise wants him to stop since she has this sensation of wanting to kill. So he scolds her that he wants to live. As they cuddle close, she could hear his heartbeat, proof that he loves her. Amidst all the sadness and tears, they continue making out. Yeah, what else is there left to do?

Episode 13
Shuuji once hesitated if he should leave his mom. Dad told him to do what he needs to do as he is a man now. Don’t worry about mom. He’ll take care of her. Mom is sad that all of Shuuji’s friends in his picture are dead. But dad is proud that he has grown up to be a fine man. Speaking of which, Shuuji continues to make out with Chise! Maybe no wonder dad is so proud of him. Just kidding. When all that is done, Chise recites wars of the past that prophesizes the end of the world as well as her desire to stay with him forever. However she reveals the end of the world is really coming. It is already for the other half of the world and soon it will reach here. At first she thought of killing Shuuji and all those she loves to prevent them from suffering but she decides to protect them to the end. Then she flies off to continue the war. Shuuji really starts getting scared when the end of the world is before him. Calling mommy and daddy won’t help. Heck, Akemi is already gone! Shuuji is engulfed by the tsunami. However shortly he finds himself alive in an empty white space. He realizes Chise did all she could to save him. As he hugs whatever is left of this giant part of Chise, he hears Chise’s voice (apparently apologizing for everything). Well, she isn’t in a physical form but inside his heart. This way they can stay together, love each other forever. Suddenly the world is back to normal and Chise back to her human form?! Well, it might all be in Shuuji’s mind and this could be for the best. Because what better way than to live out the rest of your in your own fantasy than some empty gloomy world. Because Chise confirmed that he is the only one left alive in this devastated world! The end of the world he heard was Chise’s heartbeat. So with the duo happily reliving their good times, Shuuji is glad that they will continue to love each other and live on.

Another Love Song

Taking place in the early days when Chise is still an incomplete weapon and starting to date Shuuji, it tells of the story behind those scenes as not seen in the TV series.

OVA 1
Lt Colonel Mizuki is another ultimate weapon created by the military. After another successful mission, she returns for repairs. At that time Chise was a new weapon prototype and she could hear Chise’s inner thoughts. Because she sees how clumsy and goofy she is, plus she keeps thinking about Shuuji, Mizuki doesn’t acknowledge her as a proper soldier. She is shocked to see Chise transform and instantly flies off to battle when an enemy attack is detected. Mizuki wanted to volunteer to fight in her stead but they won’t allow her as she is injured. Plus, this is a chance to see if Chise has what it takes to protect the city. Otherwise they will not win this war. Mizuki remembers she was the only survivor as her entire battalion was wiped out. Because she is willing to fight and die to avenge her comrades, she is introduced to Director Minamoto and Dr Wada who then turn her into a human weapon. One day Mizuki confronts Chise and chides her to know her place that she is no longer human since Chise was trying to leave to see Shuuji. However Kawahara allowed her since she has done her job and the superiors have approved it. So when another attack occurs, Mizuki wants to go instead. She saves Tetsu (whom she knows from their days in the battlefield) from death and destroys the enemy although she has taken heavy damage. As Dr Wada puts it, Mizuki has reached her limit and her growth as a weapon has stopped. She will die if she takes the same damage again. Minamoto isn’t fazed. Mizuki is just an experiment and stepping stone as Chise to become an ultimate weapon. On another mission, the enemies (English speaking hippies?) are confused seeing goofy Chise coming down on the battlefield. However when they realize she is a monster, they start firing. Against Chise’s will, she activates into a weapon and kills them all! H-bomb?!

Mizuki confronts the higher ups about using Chise as an ultimate weapon as that girl has no will to fight as a soldier. Minamoto tells her Chise has the power that she does not. Mizuki wants to be stronger then is told she has reached her limit unlike Chise whose potential is unlimited although she still cannot control her will. Mizuki is not pleased that her only use is her intelligence. Will that end the war? Kawahara explains Chise’s body was the only one at that time to adapt to this human weapon technology. One day when Chise is detected to have run away with Shuuji, a search team is called to bring her back as the enemy is attacking soon. Mizuki wants the search to be called off since she is a weapon and will go to find Chise herself. That night when Chise plans to run away with Shuuji for good, she is confronted by Mizuki who wants her to fight for them as there are countless soldiers and civilians dying. Chise tells her off if she wants to save them so badly then do it herself but is told back she wouldn’t have to ask her if she had the power. Chise dares her to kill her and take her power. Mizuki wouldn’t have hesitated for a second if that power transfer was possible. The clincher was how Mizuki paints the war will reach here and her loved ones will die if she doesn’t fight. She is not ordering her but pleading to her. And so Chise has to break her promise to Shuuji and go fight.

OVA 2
Tetsu’s men ask him he is a decorated soldier and should’ve gone home instead of fighting. He remembers someone asking him the same thing (Mizuki). She was somewhat thankful to have met him and he never knew a superior who cared so much about her soldiers. Too bad she died fighting after he shortly left her squad. Apparently she reassigned him so he could be with his wife. He gave his lighter to her. As Chise continues to fight, Mizuki could hear here sad thoughts calling herself a monster for killing so many. She wants it all to stop. When she tells this to the higher ups, Dr Wada says she has been overdeveloped. The weapon cells are taking over Chise and she will be unable to control it and will attack anyone who attacks her including their allies. But with Chise taking further damage, Minamoto orders Mizuki to take care of her. She could hear more of Chise’s cries. As Mizuki tries to stop her from fighting, Chise goes out of control and destroys him, injuring Mizuki in the process. Even in coma, Mizuki could hear her thoughts, especially Chise crying that she just confessed her love and wants to live. When Mizuki wakes up, she has a heart to heart talk with Chise. She says whether she fights or not, the outcome of this war may not change. So if she is sick of fighting, it is okay to run away. Please be with the one she loves in the end and don’t have regrets. Chise also encourages Mizuki to confess to the one she loves. If Chise can, Mizuki could too.

Mizuki complains to Minamoto about Chise killing and destroying countless of people. Thus Minamoto tells Mizuki to take her place in which she doesn’t hesitate to go to war. Tetsu’s side is trying to hold back the enemy. He gets blown away although it is not fatal. Mizuki enters the scene, gives back his lighter and drops a tear on his face? Can’t bring herself to kiss him? Had they met a long time before, she would have agreed to marry him. Mizuki fights the enemy and although Chise can sense and wants to go help, Mizuki warns her not to. She tells her she is not a weapon but in love. This means she is human. She wants her to live for her love as human. Goodbye. Mizuki blows herself up along with the enemy. After Chise broke up with Shuuji, she became a workaholic and started going into battles without resting. Then one night she just storms into Minamoto’s control room, blames everyone for their nasty tricks that caused many innocent children to die. As she has made a promise to Mizuki, she is going to be with the one she loves in the end. She blows up the place before flying off back home.

A Weapon’s Love Song
Well… It was really a tragic and sad ending no matter how you look at it. Shuuji being the only one left in the world is as good as being dead in the first place. His delusions of living the peaceful lovely life with Chise might seem like a relief but remember, all that is just fantasy and in his head. I know it softens the impact of the harsh reality (does it even exist?) but to me that is as good as dead. From the way everything was going, it was no surprise that I had predicted the end of the world instead of a happy ending. Right from the start I knew that there was never going to be a happy ending. It was like Romeo and Juliet except with the world ending. From the rate they are starting to kill off everyone is also why I had expected this to happen. Yeah, it saves the trouble of me asking what happened to so and so. Now the world can finally find peace. Yup. Rest in peace and pieces! Haha! Oops…

The inevitably tragic and depressing drama between Chise and Shuuji is played out wonderfully although I have to admit that at times I caught myself feeling bored by all the drama. I mean, if you were expecting to see Chise killing enemies and adding to the body count as the main focus, you have to look elsewhere. So if you are not prepared for the unusual high school love romance drama between a guy and his weaponized girlfriend, you’d be bored to death. Uh huh. The irony of dying from boredom even before Chise destroys the world…

Thankfully I have some humanity inside of me. Because watching Chise trying to keep her humanity was just sad and painful. I do feel for her that she is trying so hard to maintain her human side and trying to resist of becoming a mindless killing machine. As much as she tried, it is just sad to know that the inevitable will come. It is just the question of how long. Therefore they’re hammering into us the power of love that keeps us from totally turning into the dark side. The power of love that is the only light that we cling on and gives us hope that Chise desperately clings on as her final salvation to retain her humanity. But I believe that she really fell in love with Shuuji not as a stepping stone to keep her humanity. She genuinely loves Shuuji and her love gives her the strength to carry on. Had she not took this initiative to become his girlfriend, the world would have ended much sooner. Even as a weapon, Chise can be said to be more human than all those fighting this war as she is trying hard to maintain it instead of going all out to kill.

Shuuji may look like he doesn’t do much but if you put yourself in his shoes, what can he do? As a powerless high school kid, he is confused and conflicted by all the current events affecting him. He might look like a sex maniac seeing that at times he just wants to have sex with her but perhaps if sex is the only thing he can do to help reduce her stress, so be it. And sometimes he seem desperate to have sex so as to calm her down (and making that whole scene look like rape), but you’ll never know when you’re going to die so might as well have sex now. To human is sex. Sort of.

Other supporting characters add to the complication and drama between Shuuji and Chise and sometimes feel like a side distraction. Because too much Shuuji-Chise may become boring. So what better than to add in some spice of love triangles. For instance, let’s make Shuuji feel torn with love/sex-attention crazy Fuyumi. And when she’s gone, now let’s throw in Akemi having a secret crush on him before she dies. Her painful death was just sad. Just seeing the desperation of a human trying hard to cling on to her last ounce of life and all the regrets at that final moment. You might call me a sadist at this point because I was expecting Fuyumi to commit suicide from all the depression and emptiness. But end of the world took care of that for me. I guess seeing every character die would just be too depressing.

Remember one of Shuuji’s friends who died in the Sapporo raid? Over the few episodes, they sometimes show his girlfriend going rogue hanging out with another older guy. Then they kill her off when she decided to go on a communist hunt and kill an enemy with her own hands but they killed each other. Just sad. I don’t even know why they need to show us this part because she is really irrelevant to the whole story. It’s not like Shuuji ever talked to her because he just kinda observed and saw her around (she quit school ever since) and got him thinking about stuffs. Lastly I want to note that this Kawahara guy he is always seen worrying and wiping his sweat with his handkerchief. Like as though he has done the biggest crime and feeling the guilt of it. Yeah well, everyone is guilty directly or indirectly in this war.

The thing that kept bugging me throughout the series is the kind of enemy that they are fighting. Throughout the entire series I was wondering who the enemy were. I know this is not important in the series as because as said, it is to focus on the relationship and drama between Shuuji and Chise, the humanity and love song between them. Therefore whoever the enemy was, it wasn’t really that important. But I can’t help still speculate about them. At first it was unclear if they were fighting aliens because when you need to create a super human weapon, aliens invading must be it, right? Then slowly it turns out they are fighting their own fellow men. Not too sure if Japan is facing a civil war or foreigners but it is most likely the latter because of that horrendous accented English heard in the OVA. So why are they fighting in the first place? I guess we will never know. It is just a setting so that we could have this tragic love story. In the end, men must be so dumb to fight until what it looked like their own manmade Apocalypse and destroyed everything. Good riddance, right? I also wonder how many enemies there are because no matter how much Chise kills, they seem to be keep coming and coming. It’s like the entire world versus Japan? The last bastion of safe space?

The other thing is how much weapons that the military has stored inside Chise because it feels like her body has some sort of black hole or alternate dimension thingy as she is able to store tons of missiles! It feels like sci-fi crap but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. You know how much mystery is shrouded around military technology especially weapons, right? I also wonder if Chise has her innards all taken out because all I can see are wire/tentacles that look like they have a mind of its own and are going to kill anybody who messes with her. So assuming if she has no more innards to fit all that, does she still have a brain and heart? Screw logic. As long as it kills… I know it is bad of me think of a pun for Chise but I can’t help it to ‘distract’ me from the gloominess. Because I was thinking each time if Shuuji asks Chise if she is alright (heiki), Chise should answer yes she is a weapon (also pronounced as heiki!). See the pun there? Haha! Whoops. Jokes over. Back to more crying.

One thing that really irks me is the very horrible and horrendous drawing and art. In know this came out way back in 2002 and the art style resembles closely to other anime series at that time, namely Chobits. I know they want to put some quality into the storytelling and the drama but visually speaking it looks horrible that it makes me wonder if they really put in effort at all. Everything from the characters to the background looks so plain, simple and dull. I know it is to paint a gloomy picture about the war but if you take a closer look at just the characters, they don’t really feel and look like human. I mean, sure they are human (perhaps with Chise as an exception) but for example, take a look at Shuuji. When I first looked at this guy, I thought he was some sort of cat human! He’s got that strange and odd look on his face that makes it look so weird. Usually I would forgive retro animes for their old school art but this one came out at the turn of the millennium and it was below average. It just sucks. Good thing Chise did us a favour and helped ended the world. Because a dark empty and blank space is what this series truly deserves in this category. This means the horrendous scar on Chise’s body doesn’t look that all scary… Also, there are many scenes especially in the latter half where the war gets more brutal and grimmer, the scenes are too dark to see anything. It could be my hardware or my eyesight but I’m pretty sure it isn’t.

Voice acting sounds pretty okay but nothing that spectacular. Chise and Shuuji sound a bit like a robot at times but I think it is because they are nervous and confused. But it is really pitiful to hear her in sad mode. It’s like the series’ ploy to pull some heartstrings. Or maybe Chise is just too convincing as an inevitably tragic girl. I only recognized Shinichiro Miki as Tetsu here. The casts are Fumiko Orikasa as Chise (Rukia in Bleach), Shirou Ishimoda as Shuuji (Shiyuu Kusanagi in Tsubasa Chronicle), Yuu Sugimoto as Akemi (Catherine in Gintama), Miki Itou as Fuyumi (Fujimura in Fate series), Tetsu Shiratori as Atsushi (Zancrow in Fairy Tail) and Ai Orikasa as Mizuki (K.K. in Kekkai Sensen). Both the TV opening and ending themes are sung by Yuria Yato. Koisuru Kimochi as the opener sounds okay as a generic pop but the breathy slow ending theme, Sayonara has this sad pitch to it despite it sounds lovely in its own right. Even its title feels like some sort of spoiler to the entire series. For the OVA, Mayonaka No Niji by Akira Asakura as the ending theme also follows this pattern. However this has more a lovely romantic feel to its slow beat than sadness.

Even if you are not into this kind of anime, this old classic is still powerful and has a handful of lessons we could learn from. For some, get ready a few box of tissues. This isn’t about the atrocities of war and how dumb humans can get in killing each other. It isn’t about creating the most sophisticated and ultimate human weapon. It is seeing who can keep their humanity during these dark times and at such times it is a test to see how human we are. That is why we have the power of love inside of us to use at such times but the choice is always in our hands to make. Remember, somebody once said that in war, it is not who is right, but who is left. I guess this anime really answered that question… And also, somebody once said the goal of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his. Looks like this anime has answered that too for everyone. What a fine mess, no? Looks like the love song became a dirge.

Ga-Rei: Zero

May 28, 2017

Somehow my inner sadism kicked in that time so I was searching for anime series that had its entire or most of its main and supporting casts getting killed off. That is where I stumbled upon Ga-Rei: Zero as I read in the first couple of episodes all the main characters got killed off. And that’s how I decided to check it out to see how bad it could be and if everyone would just die in the end despite I am not really into supernatural themed animes. What? You don’t approve of my terrorist mind set? So what are you doing to counter the real life terrorism? Forget it. Fighting humans isn’t as scary as fighting evil supernatural beings like in this series. Oh wait. On second thought, maybe I take that back… This series is a prologue to the manga, Ga-Rei (which never got animated) and tells the events that led up to the setting of the manga (which I didn’t read).

Episode 1
Tooru Kanze and Natsuki Kasuga are at the graves when they receive a call to sortie because those paranormal spirits are up to no good again. The 1st Special Division of the Ministry of Defence’s Supernatural Disaster Prevention Agency arrives first and takes out most of the small Category C fries. Till the Category B dinosaur monster burns them all alive. That is when Tooru, Natsuki and the rest of their unit arrive to kick ass and save the day (or in this case, night) because they have better equipment and arsenal. Meanwhile the higher ups are not pleased that their division is almost massacred and aren’t too happy the 1st Platoon of the 4th Special Division under the leadership of Kiriya Konparu of the Ministry of Environment won the battle because now their unit is like a laughing stock. Just when the 4th is about to pick up the pieces, they receive another distress call of another appearance of Category B appearing in another part of the city. Although there are barriers around it, it won’t hold much longer. Standard protocol means they need to use Reisui (holy water) and then finish it off with Mani bullets but according to Mami Izumi’s calculation, 200 tons of water is needed for that exorcism. As suggested by Konparu, if they cannot carry the water, bring it to the source. So while the unit has done all the necessary setup, Natsuki leads the monster into a giant water shaft. Once she is in position, Tooru is supposed to snipe. However a butterfly distraction has him missed and this puts Natsuki in danger. She is injured and although the monster is taken care off, the shaft is about to burst with water. Luckily the other guys get them out. With the mission complete and the team resting, suddenly they are attached by Category A. Everyone gets massacred! Mami got possessed and shot Konparu in the head before turning the gun on herself. Tooru remembers the tragedy whereby his girlfriend turned into a ghoul and he was forced to shoot her. Looks like he would be meeting her in the afterlife as he got his head sliced by Yomi Isayama!

Episode 2
The Disposal Unit is stuck in a gridlock traffic jam. But screw trying to be secretive so they ram through the traffic to get to the scene where another Category B is running rampage. After luring it into a trap, they let Kagura Tsuchimiya finish it off. The higher ups are discussing the high casualties tonight. It basically means their forces are as good as eliminated. While trying to reel from this embarrassment, Ayame Jinguuji, the Chief Minister of Environment and her secretary, Kiri Nikaidou come to ‘forcefully’ have both sides cooperate with each other. Had they done this from the start, things wouldn’t have turned out so bad. She reveals information and the map of the Kantou area whereby Category A spiritual disturbances are spreading. While the medics are picking up the corpses, they suddenly turn into Category D zombies and start attacking. The Disposal Unit goes into action but then they are shocked to see Yomi and her Ga-Rei, Nue before them. She was once their comrade but went missing. Now she is classified as Category A and must be annihilated. Yomi leaves the zombies to play with them. The boss allows Kagura and Noriyuki Izuna to go after Yomi. They split up to look for her in the underground tunnel. Kagura is attacked by Yomi though the former tries her best not to fight her. When she is forced to do so, Kagura bests her. Because she is her old friend, Kagura is unable to kill her even when dared. For this reason Yomi cannot forgive her and still hates her. Yomi fights back and spurns Kagura to do the same when she badmouths about Noriyuki as a coward (Noriyuki is supposed to be her fiancé). Kagura thought she could kill her via some pipe explosion but Yomi is not Category A for nothing. Kagura is caught by Nue. Yomi is upset when Kagura still calls her onee-chan and then slashes her.

Episode 3
Time to go back 3 years in time when they first meet. Kagura’s parents are very powerful and famous exorcists. But a mission gone wrong has her mother died in duty. Thus her dad has to oversee things like inhering the Ga-Rei Byakuei that she had and leaving the care of the branch family to Naraku Isayama, Yomi’s father. Thus Yomi is assigned to support Kagura from the shadows. Yomi is quite lively and friendly but you can’t blame Kagura for not feeling like doing anything except training, which is what she has been doing always. Kagura lost a mock fight with Yomi and needs to reflect deeply on her loss seriously thanks to her strict father’s upbringing. Yomi won’t have any of that and teaches her how to chill. She wants Kagura to address her as her onee-chan. As much as Yomi wants to be with Kagura, sometimes she receives calls for a job. This leaves Kagura sad because her words eerily echo like her mom. And now she is dead. Feeling bad, Yomi decides to bring her along and let her see what they do. She is introduced to her unit in the Disposal Unit consisting of Noriyuki, Kouji Iwahata, Kazuki Sakuraba and twins Nabuu and Nabuu. Yes, they both share the same name. You can’t tell them apart either. Yomi might regret a little bringing Kagura along since Iwahata gives her a special sword, Michael 12. After the mission, Yomi gets an earful from her father never to do such things again. Kagura felt bad and in view of this, Yomi gives her a bracelet as charm since she can’t follow her on the job. Yomi explains she personally requested to look after Kagura because she always wanted a little sister. They can be sisters from now on. Can they? Because Naraku isn’t Yomi’s biological dad and is adopted. But since he treats her like his own daughter, she wants to return his feelings. Therefore she will inherit her fate as the family’s exorcist, the reason for her existence.

Episode 4
Kagura must be real bored in school. Luckily the Disposal Unit often calls her in the middle of class to go for missions. Though, Kagura hates to lie to the teacher that she has to leave to attend her sick mother. We get our first taste of lesbianism when Yomi kisses Kagura as they are fooling around eating the Pocky stick. Sakuraba gets kicked in the face for watching them but why didn’t Iwahata get the same treatment? Because he is gay! Kagura watches as Yomi exorcises a giant spider demon. But when she cuts it into half, the demon parts threaten to fall on a civilian woman. Had not Kagura been there, it would have been her doom. But it wouldn’t make any difference because Yomi knows this woman was trying to commit suicide. She is advised to not waste her life. Kagura does maintenance on her sword. She is freaked out by this weird naked afro old man. Michael Kohara is a famous blacksmith and the one who made Kagura’s sword. He is impressed with its radiance. Then he takes a look at Yomi’s sword, Shishi-ou and takes it back to further refine it. For the time being, Yomi needs to pick a temporary weapon. Hmm… Michael has created lots of weird weapons labelled with English names and numbers. A chainsaw? A boiler room? Yomi eventually settles for an iron. Douglas 28? After practice, the girls detect supernatural activities nearby. They head into the underground tunnel to fight… Pineapple demons? With tentacles! They are shocked to see that suicide woman. She has turned into Category D zombie (she killed herself jumping in front of a train). Also, she has infected others. Kagura is hesitant to kill them because they were once humans. Luckily, her father is here as he summons out Byakuei to devour all of them. In the aftermath, Kagura gets lectured by her father about doing her responsibilities as an exorcist. All is not gloom as he tells her to become stronger.

Episode 5
Naraku gives Yomi his wife’s dress. She is happy to receive it. He also wants to talk to her about her engagement to Noriyuki. He knows they don’t like each other but if this continues, those involved will be hurt. He wants to hear her feelings. Because he has raised her like his own daughter and for the sake of improving both families, she sees no reason to object and accepts this marriage. Kagura could smell perfume on Yomi and teases she is going out on a date with Noriyuki. But when that guy enters, he mocks about the sh*t smell! Kagura covers for her and says it is her perfume. Noriyuki gives some advice to not put so much or she’ll smell like some old lady so Yomi splashes coffee over him. When he realizes the perfume is from her, he thinks she is pushing it on Kagura. The duo summon their beast ready to fight but Ayame puts a stop to it. Yuu, Naraku’s younger brother is against him handing over to Yomi is the next heir. Though Yuu has no right as he abandoned the family mission long ago, he simply doesn’t want it to go to outsiders. After all, he has his own daughter, Mei. But Mei doesn’t wish for him to stand up for her as Yomi has earned the trust of others. Kagura gathers the Disposal Unit to form a plan to bring Noriyuki and Yomi close. Her plan is to have them act as ruffians and attack her and let Noriyuki save the day. The thought of being devoured by her Nue is a no go. Iwahata doesn’t think it is a bad idea if they break up. Because Noriyuki might consider him! Ayame has a better plan… She sends Kiri to meet with Noriyuki and when Yomi comes by, she starts flirting with him to make her jealous. No reaction. The flirting gets lamer. Yomi then buys a can to throw it at him. Finally reacted? Then it descends into a big quarrel before they start slapping each other. Before it gets worse, Kagura comes pleading in tears to stop. She apologizes this is her fault and just wanted to see them get along. They feel bad but Kagura wants to see them make up with a kiss! Noriyuki is willing to do it but Yomi isn’t and judo throws him. That night, Yomi dresses up and talks to Noriyuki like mature adults. They wonder if they can quarrel like this forever.

Episode 6
Yomi and Kagura are fighting a spirit that could imitate their physical looks, abilities and whatever they say! It’s getting irritating. Sure, they manage to defeat it. But how about they take on a bunch of them now! Thanks to Mei, the task is solved but Mei lectures them about inheritance qualifications. This makes Kagura feeling down. She returns to her father since she got word he is exhausted from the exorcism missions recently. He explains the inheritance of Byakuei and the protection of the seal. Once you are contracted to Byakuei, you cannot be unbound from it till you die. Mei is looking for the culprit unleashing high level spirits in the vicinity. She finds Kazuhiro Mitogawa, a kid with a Sesshouseki and attacks him but nothing happens. She is easily stabbed and rid of after he reads her heart that contains jealousy, anger, hatred, loathe and pride. Kagura’s friends are staying late at school when they witness a murder. They try to hide from the killer (in the locker?) but when they are caught up to, Kagura saves them. At first she is hesitant and in shock to see the school nurse being possessed but had to sum up her courage to kill her. Kagura throws up after that. Her friends are surprised to see her.

Episode 7
The Disposal Unit cleans up the school. Kagura is obviously shaken but her friend seems less merciful as she seeks an explanation of everything. As Kagura’s mental state isn’t stable, it is suggests she goes on leave and Yomi the same as to give her emotional support. Naraku wishes to pass on his position to Yomi since anything can happen to him at this age. During the next family meeting he will certainly announce his successor and he wants Yuu to handle the arrangements. Kagura returns to school and they have a new school nurse. I believe Kagura’s pain is just more than physical as she kept crying. Then when she visits the former school nurse’s grave, her friend continues to be mad at her. She is pissed that Kagura is crying at her grave despite she is the one who killed her. She dares Kagura to kill her next. It gets worse when Kagura doesn’t say anything. And then she tells her to just hit her if she feels like it. And suddenly all of them come to their senses and time to let the tears flow with a big hug. Wow. Thank goodness reconciliation was this fast and easy. She then explains to her friends about her family responsibilities and fate but they find it weird and would have accepted it if she herself wanted to do it. Kagura trains with Yomi and the latter advises her about not listening to others and to do what she wants. Thus she takes this chance to go hang out with her friends. As Kagura’s mood is improving, Yomi talks to Noriyuki that she might not need her anymore. Yomi feels that Kagura has been blessed with all the powers when she is born into the Tsuchimiya family. She is already carrying great talent since birth unlike her who can only envy and dream to have those powers. Noriyuki notes that she worked hard to get where she is now and has the best swordsmanship of any current exorcist. They are surprisingly about to kiss but the damn cliché handphone ring stopped them. Kagura calling her to update her outing with her friends? Huh? I guess it took too long so Noriyuki just kissed her! Thankfully the conversation was already ending. After Yomi hits him, they continue to kiss. Strange… Happy Kagura returns home but finds something odd. As nobody is home, she looks around and to her horror finds Naraku lying in his own pool of blood. Time to fall into shock again. After calling the ambulance, Kagura waits for Yomi to return. Time for Yomi to feel the shock too. At the hospital, Yomi gets scolded by Yuu about her whereabouts since she was difficult to contact. However Mei tells Yomi to say goodbye to her father first. Reality hits Yomi hard when she confirms his body.

Episode 8
Gloom and doom at Naraku’s funeral. At the family meeting, Yuu announces he will be taking over his brother’s post as the head of the family but since he is unable to perform the family’s work, Mei will do it in his stead. Although Yomi protests that this isn’t Naraku’s will, Yuu fires back to her about not being able to protect her father and was flirting with a guy during that time. Yuu as the head is also not approved by some like the Izuna side because this puts their arranged marriage between the families at jeopardy. Adding insult to injury, Mei and her father are moving into Naraku’s home and she wants to use Yomi’s room. Where will Yomi stay? In Kagura’s room. Basically, it’s like kicking her out under the pretence for her to be independent. You think that is worse? Mei wants Yomi to hand over Shishi-ou as Yuu deemed her unqualified to wield it for failing to protect Naraku. Yomi has no choice but to do so. As Mei revels in possessing Shishi-ou, suddenly visions that she was killed flash through her mind. She is suddenly fraught with guilt of what she has done. She starts bleeding as Kazuhiro tells her to accept all those negative emotions. Then the Sesshouseki will answer her. She realizes the stone is embedded in her chest before getting absorbed. Kagura prepares to leave the home. So last final yuri fling with Yomi? Several Category B demons are spotted. The Disposal Unit faces some competition with the Special Tactics Squad under the Ministry of Defence. Yomi also makes her way but she is confronted with Mei. She fights borrowing Kagura’s sword. Yomi is shocked to see Mei’s arm regenerate after cutting it off. The Sesshouseki is healing all her wounds. Mei then goes on an anger rant how she was jealous about Yomi. Because Naraku took a nobody in, the privileges that should have been hers went to Yomi. That is why she hated Naraku for it and admits she killed him. Mei is about to kill Yomi when she starts bleeding everywhere. She fears Sesshouseki is being taken away. In that confusion, Yomi overwhelms her to get the upper hand. Mei then reverts to her original self. She pleads for her life but Yomi is filled with hatred and kills her. Shortly Mei is confronted with Kazuhiro. He explains he didn’t turn Mei so but merely pushed her in that direction where her true feelings were. He wonders if she wants a Sesshouseki. Then he kills her.

Episode 9
Yomi is wheeled into ICU. The doctor diagnoses that despite her vital organs were spared, her tendons were severed as though they were explicitly targeted. Furthermore, her right eye and vocal chords are destroyed. She can never live a normal life again. Noriyuki is visibly upset his dad cancelled their engagement. I mean, is he willing to take care of a handicap for the rest of his life? As Mei’s body is also found, it is concluded Yomi killed her as blood stains on Yomi’s sword are confirmed to be hers. 2 months later, Yomi suddenly wakes up. Ayame asks a serious of questions including the meeting up with Mei (Mei did contact her) and Yomi killing her out of personal emotions. This makes Yuu angry as he draws his sword at her. He backs down when Kagura intervenes. Flashback to Yomi’s talk with Kazuhiro. She noticed his Sesshouseki which is supposed to be a fragment of some demon fox. They are supposed to be sealed by the Tsuchimiya family and used in exorcism. Kazuhiro’s one is a more potent and unsealed. He found it at Vatican City. It is revealed those special supernatural counter measure units created by the ministries are some sort of cover up for their slip-up to search for this missing stone. Kazuhiro is trying to find a person suitable to inherit this stone. Mei wasn’t it. Yomi might be it. She has high spiritual power and intense hatred. As Kagura takes care of Yomi, it seems she avoids the subject whenever Yomi wants to meet with Noriyuki. More bad news when Noriyuki’s father comes to personally tell her their engagement is off. If that wasn’t bad enough, Kagura’s tears and ‘whining’ how all this sh*t had to happen to them and wishing for a normal life didn’t make things better. Unwittingly, Kagura says everyone in the agency suspects Yomi in killing Mei but Kagura solely believes she wouldn’t kill Mei out of hatred. Would she? I think it is a bad pun trying to say how speechless Kagura is… From worse to worst, Kagura leaves crying. With Yomi’s emotions in disarray, Kazuhiro comes in and teases her with Sesshouseki. He rubs the stone all over her body for instant healing. All her senses are coming back. He further teases her about her true suffering that needs to be eliminated. By the time Kagura comes back, Yomi has already absorbed Sesshouseki and fled.

Episode 10
Noriyuki turns into a workaholic as he investigates who killed Yomi. Kagura goes into breakdown mode when she tells HQ about Yomi’s disappearance. Too late to regret about how Yomi supported and took great care of her when her mom died now. Yomi visits Yuu and kills him. Kagura’s father confronts Kazuhiro as the source of all the evil spirits in the vicinity. But Kazuhiro doesn’t intend to fight and flees. The next scenes are exactly what we have seen in episode 2. Not sure if there are any extra scenes. But this time we branch off when Noriyuki and Kagura go to find Yomi in the underground tunnel. Noriyuki faces off with Yomi. She ‘b*tches about him not visiting her once in hospital although he claims he was busy searching for her killer. She wants him to kill her. Because he won’t, she has taken Sakuraba as hostage. If he doesn’t want him dead, kill her. Sakuraba pleads to kill her. Yomi pleads to be killed. Because Noriyuki is still a pussy and hesitates, Yomi kills Sakuraba. End of the road. Coward. Then Yomi goes to fight Kagura, scenes we’ve already seen before. The last time we were left off with a cliff-hanger that Yomi supposedly sliced her. But it is actually to fend off an attack by Kagura’s father. Daddy’s here to save the day again? He thinks she has doubts but Yomi dismisses it as she doesn’t have them anymore.

Episode 11
The Ga-Rei beasts fight each other. Kagura’s father manages to pin Yomi down. All that is left for Kagura to do the necessary but she hesitates. Because of that, Yomi orders Nue to attack her and father has no choice but to use Byakuei to protect Kagura. In turn, he receives the inflicted damage and Yomi cuts him down. She couldn’t finish him since Kiri becomes her opponent. However Yomi’s Sesshouseki starts acting up so she abandons the fight. It’s no use for Kagura to regret over what happened. Her father is now in ICU. Similarly, Noriyuki falls into depression and blaming himself that he is like a vegetable. Yomi seems to be regretting what she has done. She tries to kill herself but her body has some sort of barrier. Kagura’s father gets weaker as Byakuei tries to set free. Knowing he has not much time left, he tells Kagura the truth. All heirs in the Tsuchimiya family have short lives. This means Kagura too will die young. Because he doesn’t know how long he would live, he wanted Kagura to mature fast, hence the harsh training since young. Like how it should have always been, father and daughter have a heart to heart talk for the first time. Meanwhile, Ayame and what’s left of the Disposal Unit confront Yomi. Ayame shows us why she kicks ass as her wheelchair is filled with high-tech weaponry. In the end, this is the damage report: Kiri gets stabbed, one of the Nabuu twins gets eaten by Nue and Iwahata gets blinded. And still no scratch on Yomi. Kagura’s father feels his time is up and passes the seal to Kagura in which she reluctantly must accept. Time to grow up. After Kagura embeds it, Michael sees her to give her the upgraded Michael 13 sword.

Episode 12
Yomi continues to kill everyone who pursues her. When she’s not killing, her Sesshouseki weakens and allowing her to wallow in regret. Kagura is able to trace Yomi because their Sesshouseki is resonating. Iwahata and Nabuu fend off the ghouls and zombies to let Kagura face Yomi. The girls talk about family and Kagura somewhat admitting she was being useless and didn’t at least try to help Yomi. When words fail, violence reigns. Yomi overwhelms Kagura and then brags about those she killed. Then she mocks the death of Kagura’s father because it means Kagura gets to possess the most powerful Ga-Rei. This makes Kagura mad and able to fight back but she is still no match. Yomi flees when Noriyuki helps out. Then he reveals his cowardice and why he couldn’t kill her despite Yomi telling him to. Kagura meets up with Yomi again for another fight. This time their clashing is a convenient tool for reminiscing their good times (read, recycled clips). Yomi narrates her true wish is Kagura. She wants to protect her from everything. Even if it means eliminating herself. At this point Kagura is able to stab Yomi. Yomi praises how strong she has become and apologizes for all that has happened. When Yomi truly dies, the surrounding Category D zombies would be the least of Kagura’s problems. In fact she is filled with rage as she summons Byakuei to devour all of them. Looks like for the first time she is doing her exorcist job seriously. Kazuhiro notes how one emotion was enough to turn everything upside down. He is unsure if Yomi’s emotions were strong enough to overcome Sesshouseki or if Sesshouseki really granted her wish. Either way, he is in no rush and will wait for the right time. 2 years later, Ayame takes care of Kiri who has a child-like state of mind. Iwahata and Nabuu are working their ass off under a new old hag boss. Noriyuki becomes some hippie fortune teller?! Kagura’s friends never knew what happened to her and as she is classified as missing. In reality she is going around doing her exorcism role and she has a moody youngster as her disciple whom she passed her Michael 12 to.

Killing In The Name Of Love? Yandere!
So everybody didn’t die as I had hoped. What a sadistic creature I am. But as you might have read from my opening paragraph that I am here only because for the massacre. It is also a good think that I didn’t have Sesshouseki while watching this show because who knows I might just go crazy under its influence and start a mass genocide in real life. I know, silly of me to think like that, right? Well, nothing is so much as impossible now. Not after Donald Trump won, right? Oops! No outside politics in this anime and blog, please! So other than all that killing, I guess watching mild yuri bonding and how good girl gone bad with some evil spirits in the mix isn’t my cup of tea.

I read this series had some sort of relation to Tokyo ESP. I do remember characters like Tooru and Natsuki making their cameo in the latter and that’s all. Here feels the same too but only difference is that they got killed off here! Also, this series also follows a similar format to Tokyo ESP in the sense that the first episode starts off great with some great action and then the rest of the episodes in the series is just a huge flashback. It is like as though a bait for you to draw you in. And people like me who can’t drop anime series that suck halfway will have to watch it till the end. Well, even though this series isn’t really my cup of tea but at least it wasn’t as disappointing as Tokyo ESP series as a whole.

A big part of the focus is on Yomi and Kagura which makes some room for some mild yuri development (Iwahata being gay feels like a distraction and little comic relief). However with the majority of this series as a flashback on the events that prelude the manga, I don’t really feel both these girls as close enough. They do hang out a lot or at least when shown but personally I just don’t feel that closeness that would have made them like, how should I put it, inseparable sisters. Even at the end when they have this big sisterly hug and all, it felt like it was too late to leave any sort of impact. Like as though Yomi had been trolling Kagura and everyone else the whole time just to kill her.

Because firstly it mostly feels like Kagura is a weak girl. She is just reeling from her mom’s death and she looks like she is still trying to adapt to her new surroundings and lifestyle. Yes, she does somewhat get used to life with Yomi and following her on missions but I just have this feeling that she didn’t really settle in comfortably and fully moved on. Because the main bulk of all that stems from Yomi. It only took her father’s death to get it going and Yomi’s death to complete and come full circle for her to move on and become stronger.

Which brings me to my second point to talk about Yomi. I believe she is quite a strong character and a likeable one in a lot of aspects. She is like the big sister whom you can depend on and that is probably why it makes Kagura look like a weakling. Because in most instances it is Yomi who makes and takes the first assertive strike. Kagura is like someone following in her shadows. Like any other humans, Yomi too has her limits and weakness. So it all goes downhill when her adoptive father is killed and evil reared its ugly head to take advantage of that. It was quite a bit of a sad thing to see such a talented and promising girl like Yomi to suddenly fall into the dark side in a snap of a finger. It’s like it is so easy to become evil. All you need is some object of hatred and voila. Welcome to the dark side.

If you’re saying that Yomi isn’t strong in the first place for succumbing to evil, mind you that Yomi had to battle a lot on her plate before that. She has to put up with some of the family members not accepting her as the next heir as she is an outsider and thus facing jealousy from others as well as her own about Kagura. There is also the pressure of her in repaying Naraku’s debts to train herself to be worthy of that heir. That is why it isn’t so much about Kagura needing a big sister to get her through life but rather as Yomi admitted she wanted a little sister most probably to take some pressure off her heavy responsibilities. The death of Naraku only aggravated things further and the spur of the moment hatred spiralled it out of control.

Because the story continues into the manga, it isn’t accurate to paint the rest of the characters as insufficient. Especially this series is named after the supernatural beasts, they are unjustifiably lacking in the overall story here. This is after all a prologue to the main series. Oh heck, lots of them died too so you don’t have to worry about them in the future. But as far as this prequel series is concerned, I guess they are rather okay. Like Noriyuki who is supposed to be Yomi’s fiancé and we are first given the impression that both of them hate each other to the max but after that failed date setup, it is like they suddenly love each other. So did the setup actually work? It feels ironic for Noriyuki’s case because now that he loves her so much, when she turns to the dark side he is unable to kill her. Does this mean he lacks his love for her? This led to his partner getting killed and indirectly Kagura’s father’s death. Now I know why the tagline for this anime rings, “Will you kill someone you love because of love?”. It’s just complicated thinking about this.

As amusing and eccentric Michael is, I was hoping he would make more appearances but I guess he is just supporting. Because how often do you get to see an old white haired afro guy always clad in nothing but a loincloth. Heck, sometimes I can’t help think he is what Colonel Sanders would be if he hit the gym and turned to crafting swords and making weapons instead of chickens. Really. Ayame and Kiri for most of their part feels like they are always in their office keeping track of spirit appearances. They mobilize their unit to do the exorcism until there aren’t enough manpower so they have to go to the field themselves. Noriyuki becomes one of the most redundant character ever. He let his colleague die and then he couldn’t really finish the job of killing Yomi. So what good is he? So bad he is that it is a good thing he didn’t end up as Iwahata’s gay partner. Holy sh*t! What am I saying?! So is his ending justified? Not that I care anymore.

Action scenes are just average. It is just to supplement whatever drama and plot that is going on. Don’t put your hopes up to it. At least Tokyo ESP’s first episode was an adrenaline rush. This one is milder in comparison. Characters do not have a wide variety of set moves because mostly you see Yomi swing her sword, Iwahata using his drills entrenched as his hands and Sakuraba using his briefcase as a machine gun. Yes, a briefcase that comes with a CD player that plays mantra songs to help in the exorcism. I kid you not. And Ga-Rei beasts just, uhm, devouring?

Art and drawing feel rather okay and since this series came out in 2008 (almost a decade from where we are now), I guess my ‘retro’ opinions make it say that they are fine for that era. The characters like the females have this bishoujo look so that you won’t be totally frightened by the supernatural spirits which are, uhm, okay they are not really scary and some look funny like a bipedal Stegosaurus on fire and one resembling a giant wheel! Even the humans turned zombies aren’t that scary either. My only gripe with the visuals is that many of the scenes are quite dark especially the action scenes because it seems those evil spirits only come out to wreak havoc at night. This series is produced jointly by AIC Spirits (Girls Bravo, Tokko, Sasami: Mahou Shoujo Club) and Asread (Shuffle, Mirai Nikki, Yuushibu, Corpse Party).

Voice acting isn’t anything spectacular. I only recognized Minori Chihara as Kagura (barely) and Norio Wakamoto as the Nabuu twins. The other casts (many of which also played roles in Tokyo ESP albeit different characters) are Kaoru Mizuhara as Yomi (Gisen in Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls), Shinya Takahashi as Noriyuki (Kogure in Tokyo Ravens), Mai Aizawa as Ayame (Minene as Minene in Mirai Nikki), Maki Tsuchiya as Kiri (Megane in Morita-san Wa Mukuchi), Ryouko Tanaka as Mei (Kurugaya in Little Busters), Minoru Shiraishi as Sakuraba (Sakamoto in Nichijou), Tetsu Inada as Iwahata (Ioryogi in Kobato), Mugihito as Naraku (Wombat in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love), Takkou Ishimori as Yuu (Sengoku in One Piece) and Hirokazu Hiramatsu as Michael (Nakanojou in Nichijou).

To show Minori Chihara’s singing chops, she takes on the opening, Paradise Lost which is filled with lots of techno beats. Sometimes it makes for a good dance song and I wonder if it is suitable for the genre of this series. It is Kaoru Mizuhara’s turn to sing the ending theme with Yume No Ashioto Ga Kikoeru, a slow rock. Don’t be fooled by the ‘bright’ tune of the song because the lyrics are very powerful as she sings about hate, sorrow and destruction. Yeah, there is even one line where she goes “I hate this world”. There are also a couple of insert songs that I noticed. Reincarnation – Last Harmony by Yozuca and Faylan is a slow and sad ballad with the strings playing to full effect. Tamakui by Fairy Empire has this gothic feel to it. Though, it isn’t as naughty as Ali Project’s songs.

Overall, not really one of those animes that would stand out or have anything ground breaking or unique. Although I am not a fan of the supernatural genre, I have a feeling there are better supernatural themed series out there. This anime feels like it is to appeal to Ga-Rei fans and those who are interested to find out more and the continuation of the story in its manga form. Other than that, mild yuri and good girl turning bad and killing off everybody including main characters don’t really quite cut it in my books these days. If I had that kind of girlfriend, I would be screaming down the yandere route before my blood becomes the new paint for the floor and walls. Yeah, yandere. That is what you really call as killing someone you love because of love.

Orange

May 7, 2017

Imagine if you received a letter from yourself from the future telling you to do certain tasks that will change the future you have yet to experience. I guess this means your future must be real screwed if there is a need for your future self to do this. Of course at this age and era, one might easily brush this off as a prank. I mean, do you still believe in chain letter curses? Oh, right. Many gullible people still do. Anyway, Orange has this premise as a high school girl one day receives such letters instructing her to take action that will avert events that would lead to a friend’s depression and ultimate his death.

Episode 1
Naho Takamiya narrates she just turned 26 years old. But her life is full of regrets. We go back 10 years in time when she was still in high school. She mysteriously receives a letter from herself supposedly from 10 years in the future! At first she was sceptical but soon as she reads the letter, every content it stated started turning true. Like how today there will be a new transfer student into her class, Kakeru Naruse. The letter is trying to help her avoid the mistakes she will make and thus will chronicle events that are about to happen and the choices her future self wants her to make. Kakeru easily fits in with Naho’s group that includes Hiroto Suwa, Saku Hagita, Azusa Murasaka and Takako Chino. They chat, laugh and eat together like as though they’ve been friends for many years. There are a few days Kakeru didn’t turn up for school and the letter didn’t state it. Naho’s first letter request is when the class will play a softball tournament and she wants her to be the pinch hitter request. She regretted greatly when she refused. It is the same day she fell in love with him. That day comes and surprisingly Kakeru comes back since the guys in her class are also in their own football tournament. Naho now has to decide when her classmates comes requesting her to be the pinch hitter since the opponent changed theirs the last minute. Naho remains unconfident. However they back down when Kakeru tells them her foot is hurt. Azusa takes the job and this makes Naho think seriously. The pain in her foot will go away but the regret won’t. She then steps up to take the batter. Miraculously she hits home run. They win. Adding to the good news, the guys too win their football game. Naho hopes her future self will have 1 less regret. Kakeru treats Naho’s foot later and he praises how cool she is. He hopes to play football next year to be cool like Suwa. Back to the future, Naho is married to Suwa and has a beautiful baby. She narrates to her past self that she has got lots of happiness and joy before her. She doesn’t want her to carry that burden of regret for the rest of her life. The letter indicates that Kakeru is no longer with them 10 years in the future.

Episode 2
Suwa tries to bug Kakeru to come to football practice because he heard from Naho he claims he is better than him at the game. Suwa’s loose shirt button comes off and luckily Naho has brought her sewing kit to sew it back. The girls watch the guys practice football. Naho sees how cool Kakeru is. At the end of the match, Suwa begs Kakeru to join the club. It took him 10 minutes to give an answer. He’ll join but on a provisional basis. The letter states on a certain day, she wants her to give Kakeru her homemade lunch. Naho makes the necessary preparations and of course her parents are suspicious. Found someone, eh? Finally? However at school she has the jitters and couldn’t give it to him. Even when he nudges her, she gets a bit jumpy. He understood and said no more and immediately leaves. Naho blames the letter for making her conscious about it and wished she never read about it. Another chance meeting with him subsequently, she decided to run but Kakeru calls out to her and wants to walk home with her. She agrees but is stumped on what to do next as this wasn’t stated in the letter. They talk about a few things and when Naho asks why he is reluctant to join the football club because he is good in it, that is when Kakeru replies his mom died. She committed suicide on the day of the opening ceremony, that’s why he was absent for a stretch for the funeral and the move. He promised his mom he wouldn’t join a club. Naho realizes the implication because the letter stated she shouldn’t invite him on the opening ceremony but she did anyway. She realizes the importance of the letter was to erase her regrets. She needs to be there for Kakeru when he is down. Naho then gives Kakeru her homemade lunch. It makes him happy and Naho promises to make him lunch every day. He jokes she is like his mom. At least he is smiling. In the future, Naho meets up with her friends to go somewhere that has to do with Kakeru. The letter adds Kakeru died in an accident and everyone regretted the fact knowing he could be saved.

Episode 3
The letter states she wants Naho to make Kakeru join the football club even if she has to force him. Because a week later he quit. But it looks like she doesn’t need to lift a finger because Suwa has bugged him so many times that Kakeru finally relents. As Kakeru has joined the football club, he enlists Naho’s help for a wakeup call for certain mornings. At 5am. Everyone notices that their senior, Rio Ueda has been trying to talk with Kakeru numerous times. The letter stated Ueda will confess to Kakeru. One day Kakeru asks Naho if there is someone she likes. She had to say no. Then she asks him back. None either. What about Ueda? Well, he likes her looks. Is that an answer you’re looking for? When Kakeru lost a bet and has to go buy drinks for his friends, they see Ueda coming up to him to talk. They can tell she is trying to ask him out so when he comes back they pester him for the details. All Kakeru says is that he’ll give his answer after the break. As Naho continues to ponder about this, she remembers the letter saying Kakeru slipped a secret message inside the eraser’s cover she lent to him. Had she noticed it, the future might have turned out differently. Naho is about to take off the cover but she got distracted by cleaning duties. After she is done, she remembers it and resumes. She sees the message of Kakeru asking if he should go out with Ueda. Noticing there is still time, she quickly writes a response and rushes down to put the message in his shoe locker. Safe, right? Unfortunately when she returns to class, her friends are witnessing Ueda talking to Kakeru. He must have gave some sort of answer that made her feel very happy. Naho leaves dejected and Suwa can tell she is in love with Kakeru. When Kakeru returns to his shoe locker, he sees Naho’s reply. “No!”. Oh dear… Naho returns home reeling with regret. In the future, the friends are at the site where they buried their posterior letters of what they want to be when they grow up. Let’s say they aimed too high and didn’t come close. Suwa reads Kakeru’s letter on his behalf but all it states are messages for his friends. None about himself. Everyone feels sad thinking Kakeru perhaps have known he himself had no future. They regret had they watched him more closely, they could have saved him. If Naho could redo the past, she’d definitely run straight to him.

Episode 4
The friends are visiting Kakeru’s grandma whom he lives with. She knows them all despite this is only their second meeting (the first was at his funeral). That’s because Kakeru always talked about them especially Naho. With Kakeru dating Ueda, the friends hang out by themselves. On the next school day, Kakeru wonders why Naho didn’t wake him up. She thought he already has a girlfriend and it won’t be right for her to do that. Also, she didn’t make him lunch. He thanks her for all that she has done. Ueda seems to love clinging to Kakeru whenever she gets the chance. Like as though she is trying to tell the whole world they’re an item. Naho is in a dilemma as she reads the future letter. It tells her to answer to Kakeru when he calls her and to talk to him instead of waiting around. Of course Naho feels she can’t do that. Then when Kakeru calls her, Naho feels the need to respond but seeing Ueda in the picture, she runs away. Like the letter, Naho continues to avoid Kakeru. And another one comes true when Kakeru after saying goodbye to her, he gets into a fight with Ueda. When Naho responded to his goodbye, Ueda accidentally bumps into her. As she was unapologetic, Kakeru helped Naho up. This made Ueda mad. She screams at the top of the voice like as though she wants the whole world to know that she doesn’t want him to speak to other girls. He ignores her and Ueda runs away crying. It’s the same for Naho too. She runs away crying. But she soon bumps into Suwa. This isn’t in the letter so is the future changing? He tells her to stop running away. She blames herself about them fighting and maybe she shouldn’t talk to him like they used to. Suwa replies they are friends so what is wrong with that. Kakeru wants to talk to her too but if she is running away, how can he? It made Naho realizes so she rushes to catch up with him to talk. Kakeru thinks of breaking up with Ueda. After dating her, he realizes there is someone else he likes more. Although he says it is a secret, I think we can guess who that person is.

Episode 5
Naho realizes the future might be changing as some contents in the letter doesn’t happen. Like when all of them supposed to walk home, this time only Kakeru walks home with her. They hang out more often like studying at the library. Although Kakeru has broken up with Ueda, he is still on friend terms with Naho. After the teacher hands back their test results and since some of them barely made the average, he explains about time travelling because his advice (or was it joke) for them was to go back in time to study more. I wonder if those students can understand his rocket scientist theories he put forth. When Hagita counters it with his own, the teacher explains another conclusion that will somewhat satisfy it: Parallel worlds. This has Naho thinking because if so far if the letters have been predicting what is happening despite she took corrective steps, does it mean her future won’t change? Naho’s last text to Kakeru before he passed away was to thank him. She wonders if he read it. There is that cultural festival promise they made that never happened although the letter did state that there are some memories she wants to retain like watching the fireworks. So Naho sums up her courage to invite him and he agrees. Azusa and Takako make it clear to Suwa that they are supporting Naho to be with Kakeru. He agrees but didn’t say he would also help them out. During the cultural festival as Naho and co clean the pool, Naho takes a break but Ueda wants to speak with her. She confirms Naho isn’t dating Kakeru. Noticing the nice hairpin she has (Kakeru gave it to her), she wants to have a look but Naho won’t allow. Ueda’s groupies then corner her. Luckily Suwa as around so he quickly takes Naho away. He brings her back to Kakeru who then puts some band aids on her hand (those bullies tried to get rough with her). He knew because Suwa told him. Naho remembers the letter stating to thank Suwa whenever she had the chance because he is a dear person who saved her heart. She couldn’t be happier doing so when the chance calls for it.

Episode 6
Kakeru asks Naho among them, whom she would date. She couldn’t answer. But when Azusa asks back the same question, he can’t tell. While Ueda won the popularity contest, I am not sure how the boys’ one works because Hagita won with just 1 vote courtesy of Azusa. Naho is supposed to meet up with Kakeru for the fireworks but Ueda and her groupies force her to do some work or else show her the hairpin. What’s a poor girl got to do but some menial labour. Luckily Azusa and Takako were nearby and take over. Ueda thought she could take advantage of this and meet Kakeru but Hagita leads her astray by telling her Kakeru is waiting at the clubroom for her. Naho manages to join Kakeru although the fireworks just ended. Naho answers his earlier question of all the guys she would go out with him. Kakeru also answers it would be her. Naho decides to read the future letters to find the date of Kakeru’s accident as she was too scared to do so. However she finds out saving Kakeru from the accident wasn’t enough because he committed suicide. In the future, it was his grandma who gave them a letter left behind by Kakeru. He wanted to go see his mom in heaven and apologized and made his suicide look like an accident. Thus Naho is determined to save Kakeru from his regret of not being able to save his mom. She accompanies him during the Bon festival and as per the letter, she tries to ask him about his mom. At first he was reluctant but eventually opens up. As his mom had mental health problems, it was a day she was to be admitted to a new hospital. It was that day he was supposed to go see her but his friends asked him to walk home together. Due to her mental instability, she felt useless and insecure. That single event led her to commit suicide. It was also why the letter told Naho not to invite Kakeru to walk home on that day. Naho realizes it is her fault. Kakeru continues he prayed to God to seek forgiveness from his mom but he still regrets it. Kakeru went home early and Naho felt she couldn’t do anything to save him. She feels the burden is too much for a single person like her so she thought of asking Suwa’s help. But he already knows what her dilemma is. Because he also got those letters.

Episode 7
Showing her his contents, it is almost similar. But unlike her, he didn’t read it immediately and only after he joined the football club. The next important event is his upcoming birthday. Suwa pretends to ask his birthday and when he reveals it, the friends want to throw him a party. So they bug him for what he wants. Not necessarily a present but what he wants. I don’t know. It feels like Kakeru’s want is like a joke. Ueda confronts Naho again. She tells him she will give him the sports bag as present. Luckily Azusa and Takako are here to keep her from being a bully. Takako tells her straight that Kakeru enjoys being with Naho more than her. After being threatened she will expose her bullying ways, she gives up. The girls talk to Naho and hope she can just be honest with her feelings and tell Kakeru. In the future, Naho finally knows when her friends tell her that Kakeru was always in love with her all the time. The friends celebrate Kakeru’s birthday. Suwa’s present is flowers?! Yeah, Kakeru asked for that but that was a joke. He then gives it to Naho. This is as stated in the letter and also as per instructed, Naho asks why. To cut that long flustering drama short, he confesses he likes her. Naho didn’t give her answer though her friends are bugging her to at least make sure to answer him. Suwa later talks to Naho because the day Kakeru attempted suicide is closing in. It was the day after Valentine’s Day where he met up with his Tokyo friends and he told them about his mom. While cleaning the class, Suwa tells Kakeru straight to not hang out with his Tokyo friends but them. He then discloses he knows about his mom. As best friends they should talk to each other. Kakeru can’t because he wants to laugh with them. But can they laugh together without knowing what he is going through? Asking if he has thought of dying, Kakeru answers yes. Every day. He feels it was his fault mom died. It’s painful. Suwa then tells him about his own nagging mom. It’s painful too. And that’s natural. He hugs him and wants him to stop regretting it because it’s not his fault. Naho then answers him that she loves him. Please don’t die. She doesn’t want to lose him. Despite the tears and smiles, there was still a hidden sadness they don’t know.

Episode 8
Kakeru decides to cancel hanging out with his Tokyo friends and hang out with Suwa. While playing football, Kakeru collapses. It isn’t life threatening but it’s still worrisome. When the friends tease him for making his girlfriend worry, Kakeru denies Naho is his girlfriend as they haven’t gone out yet. He is worried he might hurt her or won’t be happy while dating. He’s already considerate about her feelings already, right? Naho and Suwa talk about Kakeru collapsing and it is not in the letter (it’s still coming despite Kakeru has lived?). But the letter still states about him spraining his ankle during the relay race and for his sake they need to do something so he won’t be part of it. So when Kakeru gets selected as the anchor, Suwa hopes he could swap places. But since Kakeru wants to do this, they relent. However seeing how worried they are, he changes his mind. He is about to bring this up to the teacher when all his friends volunteer to take part in the relay. Yeah, Hagita was forced even he is the slowest poke in the entire school! It’s not about winning. It’s about having fun together with Kakeru! So Hagita calls Azusa for a special training. Yeah, it seems amazing he gets slower and slower! But there’s something Hagita needs to tell her. Hmm… We have a few scenes of Kakeru and Naho together but nothing really materializing. It’s like they’re too shy to take it to the next level. Azusa and Takako confront Suwa and wonder if he is hiding something from them. When Naho is worried about Kakeru, Suwa tells her not to rely on the letter but on her friends too. So she confides in them about Kakeru’s strange behaviour of holding his hand out to her with a sad face. They laugh since they know it’s him asking her to hold his hand. After Naho reveals she got future letters from herself and needs their help, this is when the rest too reveal they have also got those future letters. Even Hagita (so it wasn’t a confession? Dang…). Naho realizes her friends never changed in the future and that they all have the same goal to save Kakeru.

Episode 9
Azusa thought the letter was a prank and didn’t believe it at first till some of it came true. From now on, they pledge to help Kakeru be happy. So by supporting Naho means bugging them to hold hands? Doesn’t it feel awkward? But it’s worth a few laughs because Naho stumbles in her thoughts. Based on Azusa’s letter, during her birthday she got an umbrella as present from Hagita. Because it rained that day, she lent it to Kakeru thinking he would share with Naho but instead the boys share on umbrella and the girls with another. She wondered what would’ve happened had she not lent her umbrella. So this time after getting her umbrella, she finds an excuse not to use it as it looks cute. Nobody is willing to share their umbrella with Kakeru until Naho offers hers. Kakeru and Naho walk home together but they accidentally drop the umbrella and got soaked. They take refuge in a shelter as Kakeru says he would like to go out with her if she says yes. During the sports meet, the friends had their parents over as support except Kakeru. The letter wants them to bring a relative of Kakeru so he won’t feel down. Imagine to Kakeru’s surprise when his grandma is here. However as the event progresses, Naho notices Kakeru is still gloomy. She might have done something had not mom bug her to show which guy she has a crush on. Kakeru’s gloom is so obvious that the friends know he is still hiding something from them. They don’t know what else to do if he doesn’t talk to them. During the boys’ pole toppling event, all the girls (including from the opposing team) swoon over Suwa’s abs. Hagita won’t lose out and uses permanent marker to draw his own! Funny enough to make Kakeru laugh. Suwa then talks to Kakeru if he is worried other guys would date Naho. He isn’t because he isn’t sure if he can be around for her. What if Suwa dates Naho? He doesn’t mind it either and supports it. Because of that, after the event when Naho tries to treat some of his bruises, he gets edgy and won’t let her touch him. Kakeru is bothered by this but Suwa knows this is heading in the right track.

Episode 10
As the sports meet continues, Kakeru continues to be gloomy. So the friends gather to discuss again and it seems in Hagita’s letter it was stated that Kakeru sprained his ankle and during the race he fell. He insisted he was fine and went on. They go to help Kakeru lifting some sports equipment and his ankle sprain is starting to show. When they show concern about his gloominess, that’s when he reveals his mother had died. He thinks she is sad right now and shouldn’t be laughing like he doesn’t give a care in the world. The friends say they are also sad to see him like that. Azusa cheekily gives him hope when she points out Naho was watching him instead of the games. Kakeru gets his ankle treated but he still insists he can run despite the doctor told him to rest. He wants to run with them. Before the race starts, they thought of giving Kakeru motivation to win the race with Naho giving him a kiss. Otherwise Suwa will get the kiss! Okay. Kakeru will win it then. The relay begins with Suwa giving them a big lead. Of course Hagita blew it. The baton passing to them symbolizes a message they want to pass to Kakeru that they’ll all still be together 10 years from now. This gives Kakeru a big boost as he comes from behind to win it! In turn, their team wins the overall event (as opposed to the letter which stated the opposing team won). Grandma congratulates Kakeru and his friends. It reminded her of his kindergarten years. No matter how many pictures mom took, he never smiled until he won the final race. She was so worried until he smiled, she was overjoyed. Kakeru gets his reward by making a quick kiss on Naho’s cheek.

Episode 11
The friends are wondering if the kiss reward has been given. Seeing their shy reaction, I guess it’s done. In the future, the friends are talking about the possibility of another future where Kakeru and Naho are married. However Naho disagrees because even if Kakeru was alive, she would still marry Suwa. Back to the past, the friends are making arrangements to visit the shrine on New Year’s Eve. However Suwa opts out seeing he has something to do. After Kakeru and Naho leave, Takako smacks Suwa for lying. She thinks he is trying to change the future since in the letter he came. Kakeru and Naho got into a fight and Suwa comforted her. It was also when he confessed to her. Suwa rubbishes all that with that parallel world thingy. Kakeru died so Suwa married Naho in another world, not this. Thus he has vowed never to tell Naho how he feels about her. Naho is also worried that she will fight on him on that day. She said something insensitive about his grandma who is sick. So the friends minus Suwa hang out together. Kakeru and Naho leave early and he tells her about his worries about grandma getting sick. When Naho tries to assure him grandma will still be around in 10 years, this made Kakeru snapped. How could she be so sure? He is still reeling from the fact he didn’t know how much mom was in pain and still blames himself for killing her. That’s it. It’s over. He doesn’t want to talk to her anymore and goes home. Meanwhile Takako calls Suwa to get his ass over here to confess to Naho. Apparently the friends have now changed their stance to support Suwa for Naho. They don’t want to change the future to affect others! WTF?! I know they’re trying to be considerate but how sure are they? Suwa goes to talk to crying Naho as he assures her to keep moving forward. He promises to bring them both together if it means hauling Kakeru’s ass back to her. But for now Naho needs to call him back. However Kakeru doesn’t pick up her call and smashes his handphone! Naho thinks she is responsible for Kakeru’s death.

Episode 12
A flashback from Kakeru’s perspective. He disliked how much his mom made decisions without consulting him. He hated her for it. He is like a rebelling teen. So when he became friends with Naho and co, he was curious about Naho because she reminded him of himself. Perhaps this is a timeline where the future never arrived. Because Kakeru was blamed in the football club so he quit. He met up with his Tokyo friends and told them about his mom’s suicide but they laughed it off. During the relay he fell and his team got last place. He wonders if the world would be the same if he died. After all, the group of friends were originally 5 of them. Kakeru contemplates of his confused and mixed feelings for Naho. When he is clearing his old stuffs, he sees his mom’s old phone. He reads a message that she replied to him (I think she just didn’t send). It addresses her concerns for him. She knew how much he loved his father but had to divorce him because he was a violent man. She noticed he was being bullied in school that is why transferred to another place. Because she didn’t want him to get hurt, the reason she didn’t want him to join clubs. She apologizes for never considering his feelings and is always the one hurting him. Sorry for getting in the way. Once Kakeru realizes all this, he cycles out. Now he believes it is all his fault and ponders about death. Will it clear your sins? Probably he is looking at the sky instead of the road and got hit by a vehicle. So that’s the light he saw? Sorry for the bad joke. Now in current time we hear from Naho’s side. Nothing really much except she is worried about him. They did apologize for that New Year’s Eve argument. But she is still so affected by it that she couldn’t pay attention in class and starts crying. In the future, the friends meet and talk. Still trying to blame that had they done something Kakeru would still be alive? They talk about going back to redo the past about parallel worlds and black holes. Despite Hagita dismissing all that, the rest continue. They are interested to write letters and deliver it to that Bermuda black hole. Although they won’t know where in time it will end, they have no choice but to make a miracle. Naho talks to Kakeru to wait till Valentine’s Day. She doesn’t care if he hates her. She doesn’t want to lose him.

Episode 13
Naho has made chocolates to give to Kakeru on Valentine’s Day. As per letter, she has numerous times to give to him but couldn’t find the courage. So when she finally does, she makes a dash but has the bad luck to bump into Ueda. Her chocolates are damaged. Ueda tries to intimidate her but Naho won’t be cowed and continues to go meet Kakeru. At first he didn’t want to accept but gives in. He explains he has been avoiding her since that incident as he is afraid to hurt her. Realizing she has been running away all this time, she confesses she would like to go out with him. He is afraid he will hurt her and cannot make her happy but she doesn’t care. But once they talk things out and she hugs him, most of the fear dispels. The friends are happy especially Suwa who believes this world exists to make Kakeru happy. The next few scenes show Kakeru and Naho hanging out with each other and being close. Kakeru finally admits he loves her. Later the friends still convene because they need to make sure Kakeru doesn’t die. They think about destroying his bicycle when Kakeru comes by and they quickly hide their letters. Hagita gives him a gay hug that sends everyone laughing! Well, at least he diverted his attention. In the future, Suwa talks about if there were no parallel worlds. This means if the letters they sent back and they manage to save Kakeru, the letters would never have been written in the first place. Paradox thingy. Hagita adds even if there are parallel worlds and they managed to change their past, it will branch off to a different future. Either way, this future they are in now, they will never see Kakeru again and nothing will change for them. Thus they decide to write letters to save Kakeru in a parallel world.

The friends are waiting at the intersection supposedly where Kakeru met with an accident. So far he has not shown up. In fact, Kakeru has already read the contents of his late mom’s handphone. So when Kakeru didn’t show up, the friends head to his place only for Kakeru’s grandma to tell them Kakeru just dashed out. Oh dear. It seems he didn’t ride his bicycle and went by foot. The friends frantically try to find him and when they do, this time they witness him being hit by a truck! Oh no! But thank heavens he is still alive. You know how I know he is still alive? Because there is no blood! They scold him for this suicide move so Kakeru says he wanted to die so he could go apologize to mom. Of course he couldn’t do it. He asks how they know about this so they show him their future letters. It seems not only letters from themselves but from them to Kakeru too. He reads their future thoughts on him. They still regret losing him after 10 years. Everybody makes peace and time for a big group hug. Walking Kakeru home, they wonder why he didn’t take his bicycle as stated in the letter. Because somebody trashed it. Oh, who’s the culprit… Don’t play dumb. The friends write letters and bury them as time capsule. When they wonder if there is a future of Suwa and Naho married, Suwa vehemently objects. But he notes it would be nice if such a future exists. Kakeru thanks them for saving him and Naho says if he ever feels living is painful, they’ll come save him again and again. Well, I hope they can without those future letters.

Orange You Glad How Things Turned Out?
Well… A happy ending? Or should I say a happy alternate branching future? It seems to prevent any sort of tragedy from either side of time, I guess we have the current time line and the future one to be deemed as good ending. In addition to Kakeru being able to continue living, the future whereby he remains dead is what I still considered a good ending. Because had the past changed as an effect from the future to affect the future (bear with me, I’m getting confused of what I’m saying too), this means it would be like an insult to erase the deeds of the friends in the future who took the trouble to write letters to be sent to another parallel past to save Kakeru. Their future no more. And Suwa and Naho’s baby who has got nothing to do with this time mess suddenly ceases to exist. Not good, right? Before I confuse myself further, let me just sum up that I find this series boring. Yeah. Got to get that out of my chest now or else I might regret it like 10 seconds in the future for not saying my mind. You can never be too sure about the future…

Honestly, this is actually one drawn out love drama series. It could have been just an ordinary one had not the premise that involves letters from the future. I suppose it was the only thing that held my interest because despite the drama, it was burning at the back of my mind of how these letters actually reached our characters in the first place. It made me think if this was just another parallel world because of that time travel paradox thingy. You know, if you change the future by altering the past, if that future no longer happens, how can they send it back to the past to change it? Exactly like what Suwa had theorized. So while this entire series’ goal might be to save Kakeru, but it feels more like a long romance drama between Naho and Kakeru as they sort out their feelings and ponder the action that they are supposed to take. And on occasion, Suwa gets in between. That’s all. The so called sci-fi elements are just a distraction and something minor compared to the big romance drama you are going to see for the rest of the series. I mean, if you want to think how they got the letters to the past (don’t tell me they really went to Bermuda), there would be endless and mindless conspiracy theories to come up with. Maybe they just hand it to Doraemon. Yeah, that’s much believable.

Despite the very small casts of characters and centering on this little group of friends, I am not impressed with the character development at all. It is one big reason why I find this series to be boring. Now, a big chunk of the focus is on Naho and Kakeru and as I have already said, actually there isn’t really much that is going on between them or around them and that is why the drama is drawn out longer than needed. Because Kakeru has his own insecurities, he is trying to overcome the blaming of himself over his mother’s death. It makes him hesitant to want to enter a relationship with Naho for fear of repeating his mistakes. Naho on the other hand is also as hesitant as Kakeru because she is trying hard to deal with the letters. Yes, Kakeru isn’t the main problem for her but rather those letters. It makes her more conscious than ever. She thinks too much about everything. This in a way affects what actions she needed to do. You can’t blame her since it’s like reading your own prediction and naturally anyone would be scared to death. You’d be cautious even if the letter is proven to be from your future self. Especially when future Naho often uses the word ‘regret’, all the more reason why high school Naho gets cold feet every time. In the end, both of them are just running away from their problems till they can face and overcome it. Yeah. It’s that simple. But it’s not if you’re in their shoes.

I believe Suwa isn’t the third wheel but he like the other friends in the group just don’t feel that impactful. Yes, you could see their beautiful friendship and bond. But as far as the story and the plot of this series is concerned, it isn’t really much. I’m thinking it is to hide the fact and to serve as a twist because I didn’t see this coming as all of them has got letters too. So had they try to take proactive action like we see for Naho, it would have made us very suspicious from the start. But I think it will still catch me off guard seeing that I am already finding the series boring halfway. So for Suwa as Kakeru’s best football buddy whatever, so as to be fair to this guy, the reason a movie called Orange: Mirai was released subsequently to tell the story from his perspective. It takes place after the TV series as he supports Kakeru and Naho’s relationship (as I read from the synopsis). Given that I’m already bored with the series, I don’t think I want to waste over an hour on this one. Not sure if this would affect my own future if I find it boring or exciting but I guess I’ll have to contend with this choice and the present I have made. Oh, did I mention that was a live adaptation of the series nearly a year prior to the anime? Definitely not keen on that one.

I want to say Hagita is the most amusing character because he sounds somewhat creepy. Because the focus is mostly on Kakeru, Naho and Suwa, poor chap doesn’t get a lot of decent screen time. It is like he is mostly ignored until he really needs to speak up or say something. What I find amusing about him is how the friends usually love to tease him and he has all this weird comebacks at them. Sometimes I want to say he is this series version of Gintama’s Shinpachi, the voice of reasoning that nobody listens to. Yeah, he is the most underrated character of the series. There are a few scenes that may hint he and Azusa have a thing for each other but it could be that because they are so close friends, they take jabs at each other like it is their nature. Maybe they do get married in an alternate future.

The thing that confuses me most is the letters. Now think about this. If let say that Naho or somebody else did something as the letters suggested and successfully change the outcome, this would mean that at least some part of the future is changed. But how come the future letters that keep coming after that still talk about many events that has happened in the supposed original timeline? Maybe one or two won’t change the entirety of the future but doing a bunch of them I believe would have at least branched out the future to another possibility. Does this mean that no matter how many of these events they changed, the future that leads to Kakeru’s inevitable will remain unchanged? It’s like nature will find a way to return back to its ordinary course. Unless you’re telling me that in another parallel future, these letters are sent from there. Then isn’t it that still the future hasn’t changed? Perhaps the things they do are not great enough to turn the future enough. For example, if you can’t have coffee, then have tea. Either way, your thirst will be quenched. See my point?

And to think that the friends remember vividly the date of those events! I know you can still roughly remember what happened but the date of when it happened either? 10 years in the future?! Man, I can’t even remember what I ate for breakfast. Their regret must be really strong to really remember those dates better than history dates. Maybe a reason for this confusion of mine is that the series goes back and forth between the current and future timelines. It might be easy to spot this difference but as for the current timeline, they might jump months ahead before jumping back. It’s hard to tell since they are still in high school during that period.

The art and animation I want to say they are quite impressive but this can only be said for the backgrounds and sceneries. As the location is away from the bustling Tokyo city, the lush greeneries and the summer skies are quite a nice view to look at. However the animation for the characters are sometimes inconsistent in quality. I noticed that sometimes they are decently drawn and at other times they are just having lower quality. It isn’t that obvious but if you focus just enough, you can see the difference. This series is produced by Telecom Animation Film who did Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation, Moyashimon, All Out and the Chain Chronicle series.

Voice acting feels okay, nothing too extraordinary seeing this is mostly drama. Kana Hanazawa is instantly recognizable as Naho. There is this insecure and vulnerable feel in her voice that suits her character well. Also recognizable is Ayane Sakura as Ueda. Normally she voices bratty sounding girls but this time she really makes her character sound like a total diva b*tch. I also hate to do this again but upon knowing Mamiko Noto played Kakeru’s mother… Oh God. Why do I have to relive this trauma of her character being killed off?! This time it’s suicide?! I’m fine she’s playing motherly roles in recent animes I have watched like Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso and Comet Lucifer. But to keep continue killing her?! How many times must she die over and over???!!!! PLEASE STOP!!!!! Oh, screw that. Nobody’s going to listen to me anyway.

The rest of the cast of characters are Seiichirou Yamashita as Kakeru (Bunta in Shoujo-tachi Wa Kouya Wo Mezasu), Makoto Furukawa as Suwa (Banri in Golden Time), Kazuyuki Okitsu as Hagita (Nagare in K), Natsumi Takamori as Azusa (Miyano in Tanaka-kun Wa Itsumo Kedaruge) and Riku Kinugawa as Takako (Liddy in Hundred). The opening theme sounds rather okay, Hikari No Hahen by Yuu Takahashi. Mirai by Kobukuro as the ending theme is a slow pop ballad and the song feels powerful and impactful on the series. It’s sad yet heart-warming to hear. There are a variety of BGM from nice acoustic guitar pieces to lovely string ones and some piano renditions.

Overall, unless you really like romance dramas, watch this then. Otherwise the time travelling or tiny sci-fi elements feel like a ploy to pull you in and watch it. It also tries to tell you how the power of love and friendship can save a life and future, which isn’t a laughing matter because even in real life we hear this sort of stories from all over. It is just too bad that we only have this single life and timeline to go through so we will never know how the alternate might turn out. Moral of the story: Live the moment! Thanks to this anime, I am for the time being constantly thinking about my alternate future. The kind of regrets I will have since I chose to pass on watching that anime. Would I have been better off or would I be even more disappointed. Yeah… My future is doomed either way. No wonder my future self never sends me those letters. But then again, it might be a sign for me to live the moment!

Grisaia No Rakuen

April 2, 2016

It is time to end the trilogy. Well, if you can consider that single episode 50 minute special as the second season. The first season felt like a typical dating game simulation and drama with Yuuji helping out the girls sort out their problem. The second season delves deep into the origins of Yuuji and how he ended up as to where he is now. And so with Grisaia No Rakuen, the tables are turned. Yuuji is in some sort of trouble. The girls cast away their damsel in distress role and decide to repay Yuuji’s debt by mounting a big rescue operation. Can they do it? As they aren’t your typical ordinary girls, what more girls who have been saved by Yuuji, impossibility isn’t an option. I don’t think it is even in their vocabulary. The homestretch of their intertwining fates reaches a conclusion…

Episode 1
Yuuji’s past continues. After he was rescued by Asako, JB didn’t like the idea of taking him in to live with her in a little cottage in the woods. Yuuji is still unresponsive and suffering from trauma. Till a point that I suppose Yuuji rejected her tough love and would rather cower behind JB. He prefers the blonde to feed him and such. Asako then brings a puppy for him as companion. He calls it John although it is female. The 2 bond and it brightens up Yuuji’s life very much. One day, Asako shocks JB that she wants to resign from the force. Something about her worsening vision and she cannot snipe long range. She might become an instructor of a school but she’ll take Yuuji along. Asako continues to train Yuuji. One night Yuuji asks about Asako’s job. She is from the Japanese-American unified anti-terror organization called Central Intelligence and Research Second (CIRS). To put it short, they take out bad guys. She lets her try using her sniping rifle. He nails it the test and is given his own sniping kit. Yuuji now becomes her disciple to learn sniping and this is when he starts calling her his master. One snowy day when Asako is out, a bear breaks into the cabin and kills John who was trying to protect him. Yuuji panics and didn’t use his gun well. He chases after the bear and tries to fight it. Of course it might seem like a no match but Yuuji’s survival instincts kicked in. Killed or be killed. He improvises to blind the bear and then mercilessly shoots it down like a pro. Then he sees the bear’s cubs. He realized the mother only wanted to bring back food for its offspring but laments it had to be John. Yuuji considers himself useless because he couldn’t protect something precious again but Asako didn’t want him to blame himself. After burying John, Yuuji vows to become strong like her. He wants to live a life where he can be useful to someone. That way, he can die with a smile on his face. Asako mentions that despite training from her and Oslo, he is still somewhat like a killing machine. That’s why he cannot kill anything without her order. Asako will not take this ‘safety pin’ off and lets him know about the cost that is needed to raise and train a good for nothing kid like him. That’s taxpayers’ money and it’s coming out of her own paycheque. Therefore she sets a goal for him that he is only allowed to die after saving lives of 10 citizens. But since he is half a man, 5 would be enough. If he can’t pull the trigger for his own sake, that’s fine. But become a man who can pull the trigger without hesitation for the sake of others.

Episode 2
JB couldn’t believe that Asako and Yuuji have gone as far as to sleep with each other! Asako then makes JB do it too after making her drunk! Not really sure if he was a monster in bed… One morning, Yuuji picks up Asako’s phone on her behalf. There is a mission she must accept and cannot reject so Yuuji does it on her behalf. Although a success, JB isn’t happy because this feels pretty similar to what Oslo has been doing. But Yuuji states that he did it on his own will. JB brings Yuuji for a long talk. That is when Yuuji decides what to do with his life. In his first step to become part of CIRS, Asako sends him to America for training. He becomes buddies with this tall black dude, Daniel “Danny” Born who can’t seem to pronounce his Japanese name well. So Yuuji is referred to as Shorty. Yuuji gets ‘special treatment’ from her training instructor, Agnes Garrett since she is friends with Asako and owes her a lot. Yuuji shines in the sniping department so much so many think he is a splitting image of Asako. Fellow trainee, Milliela “Millie” Standfield (another American who can’t pronounce his name – calls him Genie for genius) is jealous about him (because sniping seems to be her only best field) and calls him out to fight. No, not punch her in the face but a sniping duel, silly you! She will believe his skills if he can nail a shot with a weaker weapon. It is not impossible but it is tough. Because her dad once believed to had nailed it too. However he was a drunkard and naturally nobody believed his ramblings. Yuuji calculates the wind and then nails the shot. You believe now? How does he do it? He is a genius, remember? At the end of their training, Yuuji and his comrades are sent to the battlefield.

Episode 3
Danny is dead?! And by normal accident?! We go back during their active duty on the field. Danny heard they will be getting a new partner named Robbie the Immortal. So they go check him out and wants to use the PC so they shoo away this otaku guy playing his eroge! Turns out this otaku is Robert Wallson AKA Robbie the Immortal. How in the world? He loves playing hentai imouto games… Imouto… Immortal… It got kinda stuck there… Yeah, this team is screwed… Yuuji seems to be suffering from trauma too. Even when he snipes a bird out of sport, he starts vomiting and shivering soon after. If this is only animal, what will the effects be if he kills a human? Completing their group of misfits are Edward Walker (a fellow sniper trained under Yuuji) and second lieutenant Justin Mikemeyer (I guess the scars of war has got him talking nonsense, especially about his PA, Alison who is now dead – who the hell is going to serve his coffee now?). This Bush Dog platoon encounters enemy guerrillas in the front lines. The initial plan was to return fire and evacuate after reinforcements arrive. But now they have to hold their ground. It is suggested for Yuuji to kill some of the enemies and because nobody wants to leave their partner behind, they’re staying to help Yuuji. With only 9 bullets for him, he has to make all count. Justin then makes Yuuji close his eyes as he rants about all his comrades and that his enemies are not humans. He gives him a choice to kill or watch his friends get killed. Therefore he gives him permission to kill and will shoulder all the responsibility. Yuuji calmly snipes and hits all without missing. Justin then makes Yuuji sleep and rest. When he wakes up, reinforcements have arrived the enemy retreated. At the end of their service, Yuuji prepares to depart for Japan. Millie felt sad for him leaving. Danny teases her to say her goodbye and she already did it the day before. It would be weird for a woman he rejected to follow him around. The only thing she can do is wish for God to give him luck and the world’s happiness. Yuuji returns to waiting Asako and it makes him somewhat happy to see her face (they already had sex on the first night of his return?). He wants to give his entire life to her but she doesn’t need it. Yuuji narrates his final training for his certification. And then that Vancouver terrorist incident in which he rescued Chizuru. That was the last time he saw Danny.

Episode 4
After Yuuji succeeds Asako’s position, he is posted to Colombia for a guard duty. But JB calls him to come back quick because Asako has collapsed. Something about her capillary ruptured from a past mission and drug treatment over the years only complicated it. When he returns home and finally gets a chance to see her, he starts getting emotional and crying. Never seen him in this state before. At least not as a grownup. Long story short, he doesn’t want her to leave him alone but she tells him to go find his own destiny. One evening when she asks about the stars, that was the last time she breathed. Yuuji falls into depression but Asako’s words and orders that he needed to save 5 people gave him the motivation to go on. JB can’t stand this pathetic sight and soon allowed Yuuji to move into her condo. Both relying on each other although none had any idea how to deal with it. One day, remembering Asako’s words about a trip, he decides to go on one and will let wherever the wind takes him. He thought it might be a good chance to discover what he is looking for. Borrowing Asako’s bike, he rides all over Japan until the bike died! Yeah, not even the motor can outlast Yuuji. It took a fellow biker to mention about the youth he has got (the reason for his mindless wandering) that it made Yuuji want to come home since he thinks youth is something that he is missing. After visiting Asako’s grave, he mentions about trying out a normal high school for his youth. The rest is history as we know it. Yuuji is about to leave JB’s office when Chiara comes in with a possible information leak. Yuuji’s girls have also read finished his past. They feel awkward to face him. Yumiko suggests to face him like how they normally do. Yuuji gets a call to undertake a special mission. He cannot refuse and failure is not an option (Yuuji seems to have been recommended for this job by a certain person). He is to snipe an illegal immigrant considered as a threat to the nation as he arrives at the harbour. When the target is in sight, Yuuji is paralyzed in fear that this guy is Oslo! Trauma overcomes him. And it is like Oslo knows Yuuji is watching because he lip-synch that he is back. As Yuuji has failed, there are orders to restrain him no matter how dirty the method is. Yuuji’s girls see the news of a terrorist organization lead by Oslo has attacked an embassy. What is shocking is Yuuji’s name popping up as one of the perpetrators.

Episode 5
There is footage of Yuuji shooting inside the embassy. The girls seek Chizuru for answers but she tells them what she knows. Yumiko deduces the government using Yuuji as a bargaining chip against Oslo as he might have some sort of fixation on Yuuji. Chizuru then informs them the school is closing down due to lack of funding. The girls then find a secret room in Yuuji’s room. It has writings on the wall about them. But one mentions about finding a place to die as he has successfully saved 5 people. Then a call from JB to confirm that the report of Yuuji being a terrorist is inaccurate but even so he hasn’t been cleared of this suspicion. Although he is being held in a facility, he personally requested not wanting to see them as he doesn’t want to hurt them anymore. Of course the girls won’t just sit around and do nothing. They want to save him. But why are they staring at Yumiko? I suppose this means she has to get down to work and use her resources and connections to get information. You can tell Makina and Michiru spent the entire night awake because they’re fighting over the sweet bean jelly and licking it in an erotic way. Even Sachi too. She’s making porn comments. What they have found is that Oslo has brought some weapons of mass destruction into the country. As for where Yuuji is being held, Yumiko is still working on it. She is seeing one of her informants, James Okada. Hey, isn’t this Robbie? Well, that was his old name. He is now running some soba store but his imouto fetish is still f*cking there. He confirms Yuuji is being used as a bargaining chip but even this guy isn’t worth risking for the smuggled WMD. It is a bit more complex and bigger goal. From what I understand, the government has this super intelligent AI system called Thanatos with a semi-organic computer as its core. So super intelligent that it could affect and intercept just about anything digital. Only a few people know about this system being tested and one of them is Oslo. He wants Thanatos but the government of course can’t hand it to him and thus the reason Yuuji is used as a sacrifice. Chizuru announces the final day of the school and will discuss about their future. They are prohibited to discuss this among themselves to form collective decisions. At the end of the day, all the girls minus Michiru get ready to make their move. After saying their last goodbye for the school, Michiru comes running late and blames them for trying to abandon her. They threaten to leave noisy girls behind so she panics and continues being a klutz and clumsy. Yuuji is placed in a room with a strange computer. To his shock, a hologram of Kazuki materializes before him.

Episode 6
Where will the girls be staying? In a houseboat?! That is all Yumiko can afford via the internet. Yuuji cannot believe she is Kazuki so he asks a question that makes him believe: What is her favourite food? Yuuji. Kazuki laments she wanted to save him from Oslo but had not the strength or body to do so. She explains Oslo’s objective is to destroy her as she is Thanatos with his smuggled nuclear isomer bomb. Yuuji is an important sample to Oslo as he is the only survivor of his drug experiment of child soldiers he trained. Kazuki would like to report his location and assassinate him and although this would mean sacrificing himself, he would do it. Under the guise of Thanatos, Kazuki calls the girls who are making no headway in their plan via Yuuji’s number. She tells them about Oslo’s plan as well as their plan to sacrifice Yuuji to stop him. Thus she contacted them so that they will rescue Yuuji. As there are no other better plan, they agree (just shut up and agree, Michiru). Next day as they follow steps to go get their untraceable handphones for communication, before Kazuki starts telling them the details, she asks Yumiko if she loves Yuuji. As the other girls have declared their love for him, the plan would be jeopardized due to her unclear feelings. Without hesitation, she answers a solid yes. Look at the other girls’ smile. I think she’ll be teased after everything is over.

As Yuuji only knows what Amane told him on that fateful day, Kazuki continues the story. After she let Amane escaped and was pinned down by the other girls, it seems Sakuma is still level headed and wants Kazuki to be kept alive as their chance of survival will be higher. Sakashita opposed this and when Sakuma knows that she has still been doing it, Sakashita panics and rants about the need to keep everyone alive. Then she snaps and stabs Sakuma. When Ibuki learns Sakuma is dead, she goes crazy and stab Sakashita. The only way to stop her was to hammer a rock on her head, killing her outright. As the other girls now cannot walk, only Ochi and Kazuki are the ones able to move. Ochi reveals that although he buried the girls, he secretly went to dig up their corpse and ate them. Sakashita saw this and cried in silence. He doesn’t want Kazuki to blame her for all this. Ochi then starts vomiting and Kazuki can see from his symptoms of multiple organ failures and bacterial infection. All could be traced back to the venison meat they ate. A few days later, the other girls died. The duo are only left. Ochi believes in damaging their corpse to hide evidence although DNA testing will reveal the truth. It doesn’t matter to him. So long his body is in one piece, he will gladly take the blame. After Kazuki leaves a message for Amane, she collapses. After Amane’s testimony, the investigators return to the site. Ochi has died and Kazuki had the bad luck to be sent to a hospital under CIRS. That is when they decided to use her brain tissues and everything for Thanatos’ development. With Robbie as the main researcher, Kazuki was ‘awakened’ 3 years later and slowly regained her memories. By the time she remembers she had a little brother, it was about the same time Yuuji enrolled into Mihama. He realizes it was Kazuki’s doing that got him in. Yuuji doesn’t want to hear sorry from her anymore as this Oslo case is personal and will settle it his way. Oslo wants Yuuji badly because of his rare specimen. He wants to perfectly reproduce his genetic assembly again. Oh, looks like his butler is also named Yuuji and looks very closely to him too.

Episode 7
Kazuki explains the need to fund their mission first. This means the girls will have to earn a collective sum of 100 million in a short time. No, we’re not selling Michiru! They’ll be using some snowball effect to generate funds. While Yumiko takes care of investments, Kazuki wants Makina to sell her prized limited edition slot car that will fetch a very high price in the market. Say goodbye to your toy. Amane has to rent a car and memorize some complex routes. What about Michiru? Don’t worry. The essential of the plan is for her not to understand the plan. What??? Sachi then accompanies Makina to see some old guy to get a high calibre sniping rifle. It’s pink? The grumpy old man shoos them out as soon as their business is done because the kids remind him of Asako in her younger days. Everyone does their part well. Michiru must have had a whirlwind day. She travelled the world, met all kinds of people, made all kinds of contracts, bought and sold stuffs. Before she knew it, the money was already rolling into their account. Now that the plan is going well, Kazuki informs the girls some of the details to rescue Yuuji. They will rescue him during his transfer from HQ. The only uncertain part is the route that the higher ups will choose on that day. Chizuru is by herself at the bar when she gets a call from Kazuki who offers her a site to make a new Mihama school. She’s in. JB is having lots of free time (not too sure if she is under house arrest) and is surprised she gets contacted by Kazuki. Likewise, Oslo’s plan is also proceeding well. On the day of the mission, Yumiko as the commander is given the honour to make her speech. Well, great speech. Only 1 problem: I don’t understand what it all meant! Right, Michiru? Yumiko felt embarrassed that the rest ‘bullied’ her with their comments.

Episode 8
Makina muscles her way with threats to get a hotel room. She is supposed to snipe the escort cars from here. Amane collects a custom vehicle (a mini pickup truck) while Michiru collects some package from Yuuji’s old friend. Sachi shops for ingredients to make weapons as long as it is not firearms. Yumiko is left with the decision making. She also notices that Kazuki might disappear halfway. There is possibility the main system will be suspended and in the event she falls into Oslo’s hands, she is all the more reason not worth saving. Millie tricks a pilot to steal his uniform. When Yuuji is being escorted, the plan is set in motion. Before Makina could take out the vehicles, Oslo’s men intercept and kidnap him. Yuuji is placed with some bomb bracelet. Attempts to take it off will blow up the place within 1500 metre radius. Only Oslo has the key so even if he escapes, he will still have to go back to him. Makina begins by firing a warning shot. This has Oslo’s men step on the pedal. Of course this is part of the plan to take out the vehicles. When all vehicles have their fuel leak, Sachi throws a smokescreen and then knocks out all the guys. Yuuji is shocked to see her. But no time for that. Reinforcements are arriving. Amane’s pickup truck is here and with Michiru helping to load Yuuji in. Thanks to its small size and Amane’s extensive knowledge of short cuts and places, they manage to escape and pick up Makina. Oslo learns of this but he is not panicking yet.

Their location is found out so Oslo sends a helicopter to target them. Amane must be one hell of a driver to dodge all that shooting and explosions. She can be a Hollywood stunt driver! Communications with Kazuki are cut off since the administrator detected some unauthorised commands. Now they are on their own. Thanks to Kazuki’s backup plan, this is where Millie’s piloting skills come in hand as she shoots down the enemy. The girls are contacted by Robbie as he informs them a way to save Kazuki. In computer terms, unplugging the cable to the hard drive and taking it away before the virus can infect. The problem is, somebody needs to carry the core out. Don’t worry. Kazuki prior to this has already thought about this. This is where JB comes in. Easy as pie as she ejects Kazuki from her capsule. Wow. That is Kazuki and her real entire body! Only just a mechanical hand. And you thought she’d be carrying away a brain, eh? As all the exit routes are sealed, the only way for Amane to travel is via the sewer. This will lead them out to the sea where Yumiko’s boat is waiting. So with the nitro booster on the truck, hold on for your lives! They land exactly on the boat! I can’t believe at that speed, impact and firepower, the boat didn’t sink or explode! WTF?! A submarine emerges and everyone gets to see Kazuki in the flesh for the first time. Maybe except for Amane. Hi, long time no see.

Episode 9
Amane is so happy to see Kazuki that she clings on to her like a leech. She had to promise to spend some time with her later because their work isn’t particularly over yet. Seems this submarine isn’t going to house Yuuji and his harem. There will be a few others on board too. Currently the captain of this submarine is Justin and there is also the very unsociable woman, Zoey Graham who happens to be Robbie’s wife. Zoey confronts Yuuji but he doesn’t remember her. She relates an incident whereby a journalist who was on Oslo’s tail, picked up an injured girl. But that girl was feigning it and then killed him. That journalist was her father. Yuuji was that ‘girl’ and under Oslo’s orders. Zoey wants to kill him but Yuuji promises to come back and die at her hands once he settles his score. Besides, if she kills him now, the bomb will rip apart this ship. Chizuru is picked up and she cannot believe Kazuki has made her the owner of this ship. Yes, this ship is named Mihama. The floating school? Can she do this? Yuuji talks to Kazuki who tells her their destination is a privately owned island in Micronesia that Asako bought. After her death, the rights transferred to Yuuji. He then slaps her for making him worried. I guess this is the only time. Now or never. So he cries within his sister’s arms. She gives him 2 choices. Cut off his hand and follow them to live in paradise or go back to settle things with Oslo. Of course he chooses the latter. But because Kazuki is being picky with the way he should ask her to find Oslo’s position, he got irritated and is going to teach her a lesson. I hope it is not something sexual…

When Millie gets onboard and is about to hug Yuuji in her happiness, he punches her in the face!!! In front of the other girls!!! Can he do that?! Well, she is the only girl he got physical with. Yuuji wants the girls to escape while he settles things with Oslo. The girls are worried that all their rescue effort is wasted but he assures them he will come back. Michiru, who has been the butt of all jokes throughout the series, usurps everyone by giving Yuuji a kiss on his lips as good luck charm! SHOCK! Get this b*tch! JB is not confident Yuuji can defeat Oslo because Asako failed to get him. Something about a fight between them that earned Asako that injury that she finally succumbed to. Although killing Oslo won’t bring Asako back, the relief from killing that bastard will be satisfying. Millie flies Yuuji to Oslo’s ship. The rest of the girls aren’t going to sit and wait for his return. Kazuki suggests settling things with Thanatos once and for all. Since there is an underwater cable that operates its auxiliary power via tidal generator, she wants Michiru to cut it while Sachi pilots the crane. Agnes is not happy to be called in every time there is some problem with Yuuji. Well, she is her superior despite only being so at the navy. CIRS is at a lost on what to do with Oslo’s case and that is when Kazuki calls in to speak to Agnes. But knowing these guys have no balls and direction, JB plans to leave the ship and return to HQ to take charge. At first she wanted Millie to take her back but since there is an arrest warrant for her, Zoey will go back with her. Besides, she can’t leave her husband behind. Yuuji sneaks onboard Oslo’s ship. It would hardly be any surprise because he knows Oslo is expecting him.

Episode 10
Yuuji is now onboard and kills all the soldiers and makes them look like trainees. I suppose Oslo can’t risk losing more of them so he sends his Yuuji clone to do the job. Meanwhile, Michiru has done her job but she is stuck in the suit. I have a feeling it is Sachi and Makina still have a grudge over that kiss so they’re making her suffer by letting her get stuck in there and when they remove her, they use a mini chainsaw! Yumiko communicates with Agnes about the terrorist and bomb threat being diffused. Not sure if it is fake because JB said she had to lie to the media. Then there is talk between Amane and Kazuki about Yuuji. Amane won’t hate him ever because she has vowed to share his sadness and pain many times fold. Kazuki is saying something about creating Eden for Yuuji to repay his debts but it could just be a grand foolish ambition of his little sister. Yuuji now faces off with his clone who reveals he is a test subject from the Design Soldier Project, a human replicated from his genes although his hair and eyes were taken after his sister. He wants Yuuji to use some drug booster like he always have during missions but he refuses. But after force injecting him, it begins the high stakes of fast fighting action, both injecting the drugs to boost their capabilities a few times. It ends with Yuuji scoring the victory, stabbing him in the heart. He makes his way to Oslo’s room and he clearly isn’t interested in hearing his ranting about his expensive experiments. He engages him in no time. Better kill him quick and take the key as 5 minutes is only left. Oslo uses Asako’s sword to fight him and throws him the ultimatum to come back to him. You know Yuuji’s answer, right? Just when Oslo stabs him, Yuuji refuses to die and grabs him tightly. He uses an ordinary pen to stab the back of his neck. There. Good as dead. After setting his bracelet free, Yuuji slowly makes his way out. But he weakens and is losing his sight. That is when he sees a vision of Asako, telling him to live. It becomes his motivation to get out but can he make it since the bomb goes off.

2 years later on their private island, looks like everyone is having fun. Except Michiru who still has to study under Kazuki’s guidance. Why? Because she is stupid! Chizuru relays the good news that Mihama has been rebuilt albeit smaller. And it took JB this long too to get all the appropriate licence and approval. Yeah, 2 years later they get to return to their normal school life. Do they remember where they left off? It seems Yuuji is still alive and talking to Yumiko who reveals CIRS has been dissolved due to that screw up but a new organization is being formed (headed by Chiara) and they plan to summon Yuuji back as an instructor. Will he go back? Well, he has had enough of guns and killing. He asks Yumiko if she would like to go back to Japan. There is no point going back to where there is no Yuuji. She reminds him how everyone was worried about his condition. Yuuji notes it seems he isn’t allowed to die yet because after that bomb, he was seriously injured and took him around 6 months to get him back up to normal. Yumiko tells him even if God allowed him to die, they would not. So please continue living for their sake. For Yumiko’s sake. Sorry Yuuji. You can’t die yet. Again. Everyone is about to take a commemorative group photo at Mihama. The girls start arguing who should stand next to Yuuji. Oh boy. Big headache. Lastly, the biggest shock and troll ever revealed. The mechanical hand of Kazuki is actually just a toy and she was wearing it as a joke!!!

Special 1
When Yumiko is about to go into the bath, Yuuji also comes in. She tells him to get out but the other girls are coming in. Afraid of her tarnished reputation if the girls find out, she takes him to hide in the locker. As usual, our long awaited fanservice of free tits (Amane groping Sachi’s boobs). Yumiko then realizes they are stuck in such close proximity and starts to feel embarrassed. She becomes very conscious that their bodies are touching and pressing against each other in this tiny space. I guess this becomes such a turn on for Yumiko that she cannot hold in her horniness anymore and decides to do something steamy. But that is when the other girls finish their bath and Yumiko realizes why the heck did she need to hide with him in the first place?! She could have just hid him and gone in normally with the rest!

Special 2
Now it is Millie’s turn for fanservice. She sneaks into Yuuji’s bed to seduce him. She’s not the only woman here. Somebody else is also doing it in the next bed. Actually it turns out to be Robbie playing his imouto game! It didn’t go his way so he starts screaming. That is when Agnes barges in to warn him to pipe down. This has Millie hide under Yuuji’s blanket. Then she feels something big and hard. She starts sucking on it and likes the taste. She can’t hold herself any longer and wants to do it with him. Turns out she wants to share this chocolate bar. Then she teases him if he would like to eat the bar or eat her. She shows her tits. Agnes barges in again and catches her red handed. The entire squad is reprimanded. But Millie didn’t learn her lesson because she cheekily says to Yuuji that they can do it again at dawn.

Special 3
It is summer time and I’m not sure what is Michiru’s reason about this date being in the winter so she is wearing her coat and sweating like hell. Wanting to take a commemorative photo with Yuuji, she enters a photo booth and following the orders of the machine, she takes off her coat and poses sexily, letting shots of her boobs and butt being taken. I think it’s getting pretty hot in here especially Michiru feeling somewhat horny too. When she is about to kiss Yuuji, she realizes she has been misled by the machine and they leave. It is greatly hinted Sachi is the one behind this naughty shoot as she has got her hands on the sexy photos of Michiru in her handphone.

Special 4
This one must be embarrassing enough that Yuuji had a sack over his head! It was an incident with Sachi and Makina… Yuuji woke up one day to find himself tied to the bed. Then those devilish duo popped up in their bikinis with the intention to taste his unripe fruits. At the same time, they’ll send him to paradise island. Yikes! Sure this isn’t a hell hole? So we see Sachi licking and sucking a strawberry while Makina does her bit of rubbing and stroking the banana in an ambiguous fashion. I’m not sure if they are real fruits or they are just imagery substitutions for something else… Then to duo combine their hand action on the banana till loads of cream splatter across their face! Gosh. Can a banana do that?! And they’re ‘blaming’ Yuuji for ‘producing so much’. You beast! Suddenly they hear Amane calling for them, wondering if they have seen her fruit and cream plate in the kitchen. They panic and try to put things back. When Amane enters the room, she sees Yuuji tied to the bed, the fruits on the plate over his crotch while the cream was just messy splattered everywhere (reminds you of the aftermath of something naughty, eh?) and a sack over his head. Holy… Sh*t…

Special 5
Amane is taking a hotspring bath with Kazuki and will do anything for her. Kazuki tells her to be careful of using that word but Amane says it is proof of how much she owes her. In that case, Kazuki requests for a massage. So if you are tired of Yuuji hogging all the porn-like action, maybe this girl on girl action will give a much needed variety. Uh huh. Amane is massaging Kazuki’s back, butt and boobs. She must be damn good to even make her squeal like that and close to climaxing. Then the ultimate boobs on boobs massaging that sends both into ultimate ecstasy! Then Yuuji comes in and sees the lesbian act. Quick. Think of something to get out of this sticky situation. Amane: Would you like to join us? WTF???!!! Oh Yuuji, you didn’t get any action here but you still get invited.

Seeds Of Salvation And Life
Indeed it was as interesting as the prequels although this season is mainly divided into 2 big arcs: The continuation of Yuuji’s life story and the big rescue operation the girls mounted to save the man they love. Sometimes I wonder the logic of splitting it into several seasons because I feel even they can fit everything into a 2 cour season without any breaks in between. Because the start of the third season felt like a direct spill over from the second season. Even with this, the remaining episodes of this season are the same number of fingers an ordinary person has on both hands. But I’m not going to fret over this whatever strategy they had in mind of splitting the seasons, but as far as this season and the overall series are concerned, they are still a great watch right till the very end. Well, almost.

The only complaint I had for this season is the very short fight between Yuji and his clone and even Oslo. I believe they have been building up Oslo as a very dangerous villain even at the end of the first season. They show him like a guy who will go to great lengths just to get Yuuji back. And then the final showdown that took place in the last episode lasts only around 3 minutes! Heck, even the fight with his clone lasts a bit longer. Around 4 minutes. Yeah, I actually kept count. So I was like, “What the f*ck?! It is over this fast?!”. I even believed that with Oslo as such a sly and scheming guy, he would be one hell of a tough cookie to take out. In what I call the biggest irony ever, he is killed not by guns or knives, but an ordinary pen! I know it is to show how resourceful Yuuji is and that you do not need to do dramatic kung fu fights to wear out the enemy and give him some sort of flashy death. But you know, having this perception that Oslo is supposed to be some sort of awesome final boss, this one just really felt disappointing. Oh, did I mention we are running out of air time?

If not for this very rushed final boss fight, the season finale could have been much more enjoyable. Hey, I’m not saying they should drag out the fight for 2 episodes, but at least half an episode doesn’t seem too bad. And for that kind of harem ending of Yuuji and his girls living in paradise island, I know it sounds ridiculous despite all the setup prior to this made it sound eligible. Made even f*cking better is that his sister is still alive. But I’ll let it slide because after all that killing and hard fighting, I think this kind of fantasy is forgivable. Really. This guy who lost everything at the start got almost everything back again at the end. So what is there to complain?

Besides, why would you focus on the big bad guy while you can instead focus the limelight on what Yuuji’s harem are going to do to rescue their man? After their salvation from the first season, it is great to see them repaying their debt to rescue him. Therefore, they weren’t just damsels in distress and sitting around for something to happen. They make it happen. Maybe they were damsels in distress in the first season but thanks to Yuuji, they have a second chance in life and they have matured along the way. They have indeed come a long way from the first time we get to know them and have definitely grown to very likeable characters. Though, still questionable characters.

Even so, they remain largely the same with their identifiable traits such as Makina’s foul mouth ranting to the twisted maid Sachi. Yumiko is the calmest and coolest of the lot although she is not as cold and unfriendly as before. Amane feels less sexy this time because Yuuji is not around for her to take out her flirting. Heck, that guy was separated from the girls for more than half of this season. Last but not least, Michiru has cemented her status and role as the comic relief and resident idiot. I guess in every group, there is the need to have some kind of whiney monkey that needs to be picked on. Maybe that is the only way she’ll stand out. Because compared to the other great chores and stuffs the other girls do, Michiru’s role pales very much in comparison. It’s like she is the extra. Perhaps somebody you need to make you smile when the going gets tough. Because that is what Michiru’s character is primary all about here. So I suppose to even the odds, she gets to be the first one to steal Yuuji’s kiss at the most precious of moments! Take that, the rest of you.

JB plays a crucial support to Yuuji after Asako’s death. Sometimes you wonder if all that bickering, teasing and insults against each other was the thing that made their relationship work all these years. Even when times she isn’t supposed to be supporting him, she’ll break protocol and do so anyway. Is this her love for him? What is love anyway? ~Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more~. Haha! Anyway, I don’t suppose JB can be part of Yuuji’s harem seeing they already engaged in sex before. Isn’t Yuuji the guy whom she lost her virginity to? Oh Yuuji. You have a wide trope of girls in your harem. High school girls, loli, maid, idiots, sister and even seemingly MILF type. No wonder it’s such a paradise. The other character that felt lacking is Chiara. I had this assumption that there would be more than meets the eye to this girl. Perhaps a future threat or ally or something. Turns out nothing of her. Just red herring?

I feel Yuuji’s old American pals although they play important roles in assisting the girls in his rescue, I just felt it was somewhat rushed. Maybe it is because we didn’t see what they did in the background so it feels like they only made their short cameo. Not too sure why they didn’t continue to live on Yuuji’s paradise island and continued their current job. I thought they became blacklisted ever since that incident but unless you tell me there were no records or proof or evidences of their part in it all were somewhat erased. Because I’m sure what Millie did in stealing a helicopter is a major offence in the military and yet at the end, she is seen continuing her pilot duty. But other than that, they are really a fun bunch of oddballs who can’t seem to pronounce Yuuji’s name right and giving him all sort of nicknames.

The fanservice shots are seemingly much reduced this season seeing where the plot is heading and it is like a rare find if you ever get to see one. Also maintaining from last season, the very unique wide screen resolution of the episodes. Unless you do not fancy seeing black lines on the top and bottom of your screen, this should provide a refreshing and different visual from the ubiquitous 16:9 wide screen angle.

Reprising her role in singing the opening theme in the first season, Mao Kurosaki does it again here with Setsuna No Kajitsu. A lively and upbeat piece that fits the series well just like how the last season did for its own. However hearing this song oddly reminds me of Senki Zesshou Symphogear songs. It must be the beat, tempo and style. But this season doesn’t have ending themes that tailor to the girls. Although we still have multiple ending themes and based on the arcs, they are sung by Yoshino Nanjou (who also sang the general ending theme in the first season. Tasogare No Starlight for Yuuji’s past continuation arc has lots of techno mixes that makes it good for a dance song (at least for the beginning part) while Kimi Wo Sagashi Ni for Yuuji’s rescue arc though sounds slower in comparison, is still upbeat and lively. Something a bit similar like the opening theme. But no Symphogear reminder. My favourite piece for this season is Fission which only appears for 1 episode (the fifth one). Although by Hitoshi Fujima, the entire piece is actually instrumental. Maybe that is why it sounds good.

Overall, the Grisaia series is quite a good story to follow and watch as a trilogy as a whole. Interesting characters and intriguing plots will keep you occupied on a journey that sometimes feels like a fun joyride and sometimes a bumpy drama filled ride. Unlike your typical harem and dating game routes whereby the guy goes out his way to help the girls with their own issues – the game usually has the player picking a girl’s route to end up with but the anime not wanting to stoke tensions between fans of certain pairs would go for status quo – the girls settle their dues by helping him out when their roles reversed. In a way, the best logic and answer for a harem route, don’t you think? You can finally reap the fruits of your labours you have worked your ass off so hard then.

So awesome the prequel that I guess that had to remake the TV series again. Yes indeed. Fate/Zero was just mind blowing and epic that another remake was in order. However they are not going to redo the original Fate/Stay Night series that debuted back in 2006. In fact, the remake is the Unlimited Blade Works movie. Therefore this remake is actually Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works and follows the route of this version. Hmm… Something was wrong with the movie that they felt the need to redo it again? As I found out, the original Fate series and movie were done by Studio Deen. Fans of the series didn’t like the ‘poor’ quality that it was adapted. Well, when you consider how superb was Fate/Zero, everything before that pales in comparison. Making it even horrendous was the fact that the UBW movie was a very condensed version of the route and thus the many disappointments and the disappointed. Thus when a new studio, Ufotable took over the production of this series and made the prequel fabulous, it was time to do some justice to that UBW movie and thus the expansion and the need for this TV series. Either way, I know it is going to be just awesome. I know. I can feel it.

Episode 0
In this hour long prologue, if you’re a fan of Rin and Archer, this is your episode. Rin goes to school one morning as she notices the clocks are an hour fast. No wonder the school is void of students. It’s an hour early! She notices this happened after she found her father’s pendant. She meets Mitsuzuri from the archery and then later that douche bag Shinji tries to flirt with her but she just tells him off and this pissed him off (he deserved it). Then she notices Shirou helping Issei to fix some heater. Coming home from school, Kirei left a message on her phone in hopes that she would participate in the upcoming Holy Grail war but she’s not really thrilled to hear his voice. In her father’s basement, she is set for the summoning ritual. She does what is needed and a loud crash is heard from her living room. To her disappointment, it wasn’t Saber she had hoped to summon but Archer. However Archer is not amused that a mere child is his Master and just tells her not to get in the way of his fight. Rin is upset that she is looked down so she uses a Command Spell to order him to listen to her every word. Archer is impressed by her tenacity and agrees to serve her loyally. As for the Command Spell, it is wasted since her command was too vague. At least she has 2 more… Rin wants to know Archer’s true form to formulate strategies but unfortunately he is a bit amnesiac. Archer thought Rin is ready to get down to business but the first thing she tells him to do is clean up the mess he made. I guess Rin overslept so much so Archer has taken the liberty to even make her breakfast! Surprisingly good? Rin decides to show Archer around the city before they make their important contract.

They arrive at an abandoned park where the last Holy Grail war had taken place. There is also a little talk on some of the terms like Heroic Spirits for the uninitiated but those who are familiar don’t need to even bother about this. They sense somebody watching them but they cannot detect who. They then have a bird’s eye view of the city. Archer asks about her wish for winning the Holy Grail but she doesn’t have any. She’s participating and winning it as it is her family’s dream. Archer also asks if there are other mages in the vicinity. Rin notes there is one family but they are a shadow of their former selves and do not even possess sufficient mana to become a Master. That night, Rin discovers there are several insignias placed around the school grounds. This is dangerous because if activated, it will harvest all the souls within the field. For a person doing this, it could mean that person is trying to summon a Servant. They realize Lancer was watching them and this leads to the much awaited fight between Archer and Lancer. Their fight is interrupted (thus saving Archer’s life when Lancer is about to use his Noble Phantasm) when they realize there was a student still on site and has witnessed this. Lancer races to catch him and to eliminate the witness. By the time Rin catches up, that student is already lying in his pool of blood. She orders Archer to tail Lancer to at least find out about his master. She is overcome with guilt over this innocent student’s death. But there is a way she can still save him. She uses her father’s pendant. Later back at her home, Archer reports his failure to follow Lancer. But now the thought if Lancer’s Master learns the witness is still alive, will he not send Lancer back to kill him? They rush back and Rin is not going to allow her hard work of revival go to waste. When they arrive, they see before them is Saber.

Episode 1
The proper series begin but also another hour long. This time the events are set in the same time as the prologue but from Shirou’s side. We see his daily morning life, Sakura always comes over to cook for him and Fujimura (who is also his landlord). Shirou as we know is such a good guy who doesn’t know how to say no because he takes up small job requests to fix things like the spoiled heater. He still has nightmares over what happened to Fuyuki City 10 years ago and continues to ponder how to become a hero of justice. When he notices Sakura’s bruises, Shirou believes Shinji must have abused her again although she denies it. He hears more about that douche bag about his temper in the archery club, taking it out on newbies. When Shirou visits the archery club, he is attacked by a club member who mistakes him as Shinji. She apologizes after realizing he is the guy who fixes things for free. How the heck could she mistake that jerk with this guy? On the way back, he passes by a house that has been cordoned off by the police. There has been a murder and the entire family except the youngest child was killed. This reminds him how Kiritsugu adopted him right after that devastating incident. That is why he hates it when people tried so hard to save others but to only die in the end. Is he selfish to wish from everyone to be happy with smiles? Even more frustrating was Kiritsugu once said that one cannot save everybody. Shirou believes salvation isn’t limited to certain people.

Sakura requests to take time off and won’t be coming to make Shirou breakfast. I think she’s going to need it. At school, Shirou sees Shinji flirting with a couple of girls. He wants to talk to her about Sakura. Not interested. And since Shinji thinks he is falsely accusing him and then retracted his statement, how about making it up by cleaning up the dojo. I mean, he likes to help out, right? Yeah, it’s Shinji’s turn to clean but he rather go flirt and leave the dirty job to this good Samaritan. And this guy really cleaned the entire dojo! Sparkling clean, man! It is already night time by the time he finishes. That is when he heard some clashing sounds in the school yard. He takes a peek and is shocked to see super characters fighting. That is when he is discovered. He makes a run for it but Lancer finds him and stabs him in the heart. After being resurrected by Rin, he is surprised to find himself still alive although very much in a daze. He goes home thinking he could rest but he narrowly avoided Lancer’s attack. He tries to fight back but despite pulling up a surprise tactic, it is still weak and definitely no match for Lancer. He runs to his shed and I’m not sure what kind of ritual he did or maybe it was just all coincidence that everything was in the right place. Saber is summoned. Saber fights Lancer as the latter uses his Noble Phantasm move. Luckily for Saber, she managed to escape with her life. For Lancer, that move has to end with a kill and since it did not, he takes his leave. Shirou is still confused what is happening so Saber goes to hunt down Lancer. This is when she comes into Archer and starts fighting. Shirou wants her to stop and accidentally uses his Command Spell, irking Saber very much. Rin is surprised to see Shirou but greets him as a start.

Episode 2
Rin uses her magic to repair Shirou’s house and is impressed he fought off Lancer before summoning Saber. Then she explains to him about the Holy Grail war, the Master, Servants and all the other terms that veterans would have known by heart. But for further explanation, she takes him to go see Kirei at the church. Kirei is somewhat surprised but delighted to hear Shirou’s name. The kid is not interested in this fight but it seems yielding his Master status is not as simple as walking away. Shirou has lots of questions about the Holy Grail and Kirei has his answers though it is hardly anything satisfying. Like how all the Masters fight but it is the Holy Grail that chooses who wins. So I guess there is no sharing business of the cup. Although it is not in the rules that one doesn’t have to kill another Master, but when a Master is killed, the Servant vanishes. This is of course the fastest way. Also as Master loses his status if all his Command Spells are used. Shirou would love to use them all up right now but Kirei calls him a coward if he does so. But if he wishes to do so, so be it. After that, Shirou will be sheltered under his protection in the church as this is part of his job to oversee the war. Shirou learns this is not the first Holy Grail war and since the cup can grant any wish, what happens if it falls into the wrong hands? The only way is for him to win it himself to avoid it being fallen into such evil. Still not convinced? How about this. Did you know that the last Holy Grail war was the reason Fuyuki City burnt down? That convinced you? Kirei adds about the previous winner who thought he could summon the Holy Grail without fighting but that foolishness made it incomplete. Therefore obtaining the Holy Grail is meaningless till you settle things with other Masters. Shirou agrees to fight in this war and then confirms with Saber to be her Master in which she swears her loyalty to him. Now that Shirou is in the game, won’t that make him and Rin enemies? Well, she’s giving some reason about repaying her debt. Some sort of ceasefire between them for the next 24 hours. Why don’t you just admit being tsundere? However before them is Ilya and her Berserker.

Episode 3
No magical girl Ilya here. Yup. After 3 seasons of magical girl loli and a prequel that she had almost close to zero screen time, it’s hard to get used to seeing the original cruel bloodthirsty Ilya. She sends her Berserker to crush them and while Saber engages in close combat, Archer provides artillery support as he is stationed from a building block in the city. No matter what moves they pull, Berserker is like an immortal! You can’t kill him! Not even a scratch! Even more shocking is how he can move fast and agile! Was he supposed to be a tank character? Isn’t this like cheating? Big strong guy who is fast and invincible and can adapt fighting without his cleaver. Like the final last boss you can never defeat! Shirou gets mad that Saber is fighting Berserker herself (because they pledged to fight together). Oh really? You mean you can fight that hulk? Sure you won’t get in the way? Rin tries to sneak attack on Ilya but she’s ready for him. Her tricks didn’t work and this disappoints Ilya that this is all she’s got. Rin could have died had not Archer supported her. Then she bumps into Shirou and takes it out on him. Why so mad? She saved his life and he is willing to throw it away like that? Why does she care? Oh, she has a lot to care. Yeah, I know… They see Saber continue to take on Berserker at the cemetery. This is part of Saber’s plan because fighting in the open without any cover is like suicide. However at a place like this, she cannot count on any support from Archer. Like his arrows would deal any permanent damage anyway. Saber uses her Noble Phantasm to kill Berserker but oh look, he resurrects! Did he have a cheat code on?! Shirou senses Archer is going to use some awesome arrow so he takes Saber to run for cover. That arrow causes a fiery mini atomic bomb explosion in the area!!!!!!! Of course Berserker survives it and without a scratch. Ilya calls it a day and for Berserker to return. Seems she is quite interested in Archer now and would let them live. She thought of getting the boring ones out of the picture first but now her plans have changed. See you next time. Maybe all that excitement has made Shirou starting to vomit blood…

Episode 4
Ilya’s maids are not impressed she did not kill her opponents even after risking Berserker to show his Noble Phantasm. Don’t worry. Berserker’s Noble Phantasm cannot be destroyed. Besides, she wants to make Shirou suffer like Kiritsugu. Thanks to Shirou’s fast healing, his wounds are gone. Rin continues to give Shirou a free pass to live simply because it’s not her policy to kill somebody sleeping and that she didn’t feel like it. Whatever. Shirou talks to Saber and he learns about identities of Servants and why they must be kept hidden because once it is known, it becomes their weakness. The same case for their Noble Phantasm. Because Shirou is not an experienced mage, others may read his mind so Saber cannot tell him her true identity. He is fine with that. When Shirou is made to bring Fujimura her lunch, Saber wanders around the school and it looks like something tense is brewing when she sees Kuzuki. Luckily Shirou finds her. Saber sensed something different about that teacher but nothing to be alarmed about. Imagine Fujimura and Sakura’s surprise when Shirou says Saber is staying at his place. Sakura asks Fujimura if she will allow it. She okays it and considers it as home stay. Oh, Sakura… Even more so when Shirou hopes they can get along. Oh, Sakura… Meanwhile, Rin and Archer are destroying skeleton familiars. They uncover a room filled with poison gas and believe the culprit is a woman and the Servant is Caster. With the recent coma cases, they deduce the flow is originating from Ryuudou Temple. Rin wants to put an end to this before Caster flees so Archer notes she tends to choose the hardest battle and ignore the easiest ones. Yeah, she is giving excuses that she can take out Shirou any time and ignoring him as long as he stays hidden in his home. So what if he decides to become a real Master and kill her? Then she’ll kill him. Yeah? Can she?

Episode 5
Shirou manages to convince Saber to stay home and replenish her mana instead of following him to school every day. He then hears from Issei that Mitsuzuri didn’t come home after yesterday’s practice. A witness saw Shinji was the last person who talked to her but Shinji is absent today and they can’t get a hold of him. Sakura couldn’t give any definite answers as she rarely sees her brother these days. With the recent events, all club activities after school are cancelled and students are to go home. But Shirou decides to play detective. Rin confronts him and is not amused at how big his idiocy can get. He is walking around without a Servant like as though he is having a death wish. Unable to tolerate all that, Rin is now going to kill him. Not feeling tsundere today? Or has she turned yandere?! Shirou escapes her magic attacks but before she could kill him, they hear a girl’s scream. They find her unconscious and drained of her blood. As Rin tries to heal her, Shirou felt something bad. A target meant to strike Rin, Shirou uses his hand to block! It’s bleeding like mad but he decides to go play hero and go after the culprit. In the woods he is confronted with Rider. She traps him but before she could finish him off, Rin comes to his rescue and Rider flees. With what has happened, Shirou has the guts to ask Rin if she wants to continue their match. Let’s end it here for today. She treats him back at her home. They talk about that girl who almost became a Master’s victim to strengthen his Servant. Rin suggests calling a truce because she wants to deal with other Masters first. Good idea. We’re tired of hearing her giving tsundere excuses not to kill him. When Shirou casually reveals his magic arts, Rin is not pleased to hear such information because a mage will always try to hide it. Shirou’s views are different especially when he starts talking about his father who is a real deal mage. Rin has her views too but believes Shirou’s late dad puts his role more of a father first instead of being a mage.

Episode 6
Rin orders Archer to escort Shirou home although the latter is not too thrilled about it. He also learns that Archer does not covet the Holy Grail. That may just be peculiar to Saber for Servants have no free will and are just tools. Shirou is relieved that Mitsuzuri is found though in a daze. Since it is getting dangerous late at night, he wants Sakura to stay here for the time being. Shirou talks to Saber about the truce with Rin till the Master at his school is discovered. Saber helps train him for hands on combat. When Shirou talks to Rin, he discovers an insignia hidden in the bookshelf. They go around deactivating it. Before Shirou goes home, he is confronted by Shinji who claims he was the one who put those insignias for insurance. He wants Shirou to team up with him but of course he refuses. Because Sakura is staying at this place, Shirou promises he won’t rat out to others about this conversation. Threads tangle Shirou as he sleeps. He wakes up from a weird dream only to realize he is now in Ryuudou Temple. Caster has caught him and is not going to kill him right away. She is going to extract all his mana via removing his Command Spells so she can implant them on her Master. She admits she is the one behind the cases of people fainting as she was testing out this extracting move and building up her mana. Saber senses Shirou in danger and makes her way but at the gates of the temple she is confronted with Assassin. He does not hesitate to reveal his identity. He stops her from reciprocating as his blade will tell him all he needs to know of his enemy. If she wants to pass, then force her way. Before Shirou is dead meat, Archer sets him free. Now be wary the wrath of a furious woman.

Episode 7
Shirou and Archer are shocked to hear Caster revealing Assassin is her Servant since this is somewhat like breaking the rules. Then Archer and Caster start their fight. Shirou being the useless derp almost gets killed when Caster targets him and Archer has to save his ass again. Their fight continues and it ends when Archer uses his mighty arrow technique that pierces through her barrier and blasts her out of the sky. Saber is puzzled that she cannot break through Assassin’s defence despite his weaker physique. As Assassin has sensed things are not going well for his Master, he is going to use his special move. A move so fast that it cuts Saber down. Fortunately she survives this fatal blow. Caster is healing from her wounds and wonders why Archer spared her life. He was just testing her and that his objective was Shirou? Caster finds them interesting and alike although they vehemently disagree. She wants them to ally with her but they of course refuse. Archer would like this match to be called a draw since he is here on his volition and Rin did not send him so he has no reason to kill her. After she leaves, Shirou is mad Archer let her escape. Even more shocking, Archer wants Caster to continue what she is doing by reaping the mana from innocent people. She is doing this so she could defeat Berserker. Once done, Archer will take care of her. Shirou will never agree to this plan to sacrifice others but as Archer drills the harsh reality to him, if Caster wins, it would be more than this city that will suffer. Thus his logic is to keep that sacrifice minimum and sacrifice only this city. This does not bode well with Shirou because it reminds him of Kiritsugu’s words. Seeing only hypocrisy in Shirou, Archer strikes him down! Despite the bloody scene, Shirou still leaves and crawls his way out to the temple gates. Saber abandons the fight and catches him. Assassin allows them to let them go because he admires her loyalty to that inexperienced Master. Besides, it will be a waste to defeat her when she is not at her peak form. Saber is grateful and promises to settle this another day. Archer tries to strike them but Assassin defends them. While they fight, Saber and Shirou make their escape. As Saber patches up Shirou back him, he lets her know of Archer’s vile plan although Saber finds it funny he is speaking ill of somebody for the first time. She believes Archer is not a cruel person as seen from the purity of his technique with his fight with Assassin. Shirou wants Saber to help train him swordsmanship to fight and not just for exercise.

Episode 8
Shirou wakes up from a dream that he turned into a metal hedgehog! Actually, blades are piercing through his body. Although he makes improvement in his training, Saber is jealous he is basing his style on Archer instead of hers. The guys in school are surprised to see Rin waiting outside their class. And when she beckons Shirou, the ultimate shock. I know she’s tsundere but why is she acting like his girlfriend? At the rooftop, apparently Rin’s behaviour was because she had to use another Command Spell to stop Archer from killing him last night. Rin also learnt that Shinji is a Master and that he wanted to team up with her. Of course she turned him down and even cheekily said she already had Shirou. Rin won’t attack Shinji yet as he has no power as a Master. However she is shocked to hear when Shirou tells her he is the one who put up the insignias. Too late, Shinji has completed the ritual and now the school is under an evil barrier that is slowly sucking the life force out of the other students. As the undead golems are proving to be a pest, Shirou would like to return the favour and now uses his Command Spell to summon Saber. With quick lightning speed, she dismantles the horde. Shirou wants her to fight off the undead while the rest go to stop the magic source. Shinji gets cocky but when he sees someone approaching, he turns chicken and runs away while letting Rider handle the threat. Saber faces off with Rider but she soon realizes that it is Caster behind that façade. When Shirou and Rin find Shinji, he is cowering in fear in a corner. He insists this is not his fault. In the room, they see Rider dead! The barrier dissipates. Rin tries to force the face of the Rider’s killer out of Shinji. But that chicken sh*t guy believes he is no more a Master and thus they are the ones who should be afraid as they’ll be targeted. The students are still alive. Rin thinks of calling Kirei to handle things from here. Saber reports about fighting Caster. It proves she hasn’t left the temple. Rin is surprised Shirou is calm and can still think of the injured. It would have been impossible for her. It is no big deal to Shirou. He is used to seeing dead bodies. Why the shell shocked face, Rin?

Episode 9
Archer finally arrives when everything is over and since Rin didn’t like how he took his own sweet time, she still needs to fill him the details. He views Rider as weak and useless and this irks Saber who wants to challenge him to a fight. But they cool their heads and agree to investigate more and find Caster’s Master who is probably under the Servant’s influence. Back home, Saber wants to sleep close to Shirou after what has happened. He has no say. Despite just in the next room and a sliding door between them, I don’t know why Shirou finds it hard to sleep. Shinji runs to Kirei to seek refuge. Learning that he is the first Master to go out this way, he starts blaming everything especially the weak and useless Servant he was given. Kirei asks him if he still has the will to fight. Because he is lucky there is still one more Servant. When Shirou goes to school, Rin immediately grabs him. What’s with the moody mood? She believes Issei is Caster’s Master since he lives at the temple. As he doesn’t want her to do the investigation on him, he’ll do it. But he’s not going to ask him straight in the face, right? So how? Inside the room… Shirou tells Issei… To strip!!! OMG! This is just so gay wrong! Of course he feels violated but even if Shirou can’t find Command Spells on him, he can’t tell him why he did so. On the way home, Shirou spots Rin spying a distance outside Sakura’s house. She then forces him into hiding. They see a blonde guy standing outside her house. Rin wonders if this is the guy she saw Sakura talking to earlier (he was asking for directions). After he leaves, Shirou reports about his findings on Issei. She believes him since he is not the kind to lie. Rin then asks the odd question of a family member being given away for adoption without their consent. I think Shirou doesn’t understand the question well. So if that person is happy, then everything’s alright I suppose. Fujimura talks to Saber about Shirou’s childhood days and especially about Kiritsugu. This turns into a topic of why Shirou is obsessed in becoming a hero of justice. He can’t explain it well either. Is it because he is afraid of something? He just feels irritated remembering bits of this.

Episode 10
Rin dreams of how Archer became a Heroic Spirit. A lone survivor atop a hill with blades. Archer doesn’t think Shirou is a winnable material and thinks Caster would be a better person to team up. However Rin will not categorize herself the same with that monster. She will honour her pact with Shirou. Are you sure it isn’t about anything else? Shirou learns that Issei is close to Kuzuki and looks up to him like a big brother. When Rin eavesdrop that Kuzuki also lives at Ryuudou Temple, she wants to know if Kuzuki has been acting strange lately. He mentions that Kuzuki is going to get married soon as he introduced and brought his fiancée to live at the temple with him 2 weeks ago. Rin suspects Kuzuki as Caster’s Master and wants to test him. Late that night as they wait for him on his way back from school, Rin shoots a light magic burst at him. Caster protected him. Caster thought being out in the open was bad idea but Kuzuki thinks otherwise because they have caught their prey. Shirou then asks Kuzuki if he is being controlled by Caster. As an honourable man who would not condone to Caster’s doings, if he is under her control, he will only fight Caster. If so, this means he is equally a killer and would show no mercy. Although Kuzuki says this is the first time he heard of this, however what Caster does is none of his concern. Lives of other people do not matter to him. About this Holy Grail war, he will not participate in it and allows Caster to do whatever she wishes. Saber attacks Kuzuki but she is caught off guard by his punches infused with magic. It’s very damaging that it sends her flying and unconscious! Caster offer to deal with Saber and the Masters handle each other. Well, Rin got knocked out with a punch. Shirou is still standing after taking in a few. He has to. Otherwise Rin will die if he gets knocked out. Needing a cool weapon like Archer’s swords to fight, suddenly he materializes them with all his might. Saber revives and could have had Kuzuki’s head had not Caster saved him. Kuzuki wants to withdraw for now. Rin is baffled she never knew he had such magic. He admits he can do projection but it was so weak and empty Kiritsugu told him to focus on his fortification magic instead. Meanwhile Shinji happily meets the blonde, Gilgamesh as he has gotten another chance from Kirei to participate. He wants to team up to kill everybody and get his revenge on Shirou. But Gilgamesh tells him not to concern with other Masters if he truly wants the Holy Grail and there are other matters to attend to first. He reveals his wish for extravagant luxury but this world is overflowing with that and too much of it is sickening.

Episode 11
Shirou feels some pain through his body as he tries to hold it in. He starts noticing his left hand slightly numb. The school is abuzz because Kuzuki calls in sick. Rin makes a surprise visit to Shirou’s house since he forgot their usual meeting. He almost shut her out! Surprised to see her here? With Saber, they discuss about the possibility of Caster will self destruct and destroy the temple if cornered. Fujimura is shocked to see Rin here but Rin is slick enough to threaten her back so she shuts her mouth. Shirou continues to accidentally drop and break plates so they think he is tired and have him rest. Rin talks to Shirou about their different family lives as mages. Then she gets mad over his personality since he is considerate to everyone else except himself (WTF?). So does this mean she is staying at his place for the night? Don’t worry. She already got permission from Fujimura. Later Saber knows something about his left hand so he tells her about it and she thinks it might be the after effect of that projection. Archer is surprisingly here as he heard from Rin about his projection. He offers to see what he can do and as he analyzes his back, he detects nothing life threatening except that when he did the projection he opened something that was closed. With mana suddenly flooding his circuits he never used, it sends them into a state of shock, thus the numbness. He puts in some mana to recover him. He knows a lot since he had a similar experience himself. Shirou questions his ideals so he explains about Shirou’s worthless ideal to save everyone is just fantasy. Saving others is not true salvation. Since he has no desire to save himself, he will repeat that cycle till he dies, clinging on to ideals that aren’t his. In the end, he can neither save others or himself. Shirou still thinks that is wrong.

Episode 12
Another hour long episode. Your ears are not deceiving you when Rin wants to go out with Shirou! She tells him straight they’re going out on a date! Fujimura’s not shocked or anything. Because she too has a date herself! Actually that is paying a visit to Kiritsugu’s grave. Shirou is being like a douche trying to rephrase that he’s just accompanying her. Can you be just as cool like Saber? Though she’s just following them as their bodyguard. Nice fund date outing. Rin isn’t a parasite and has made sandwiches for lunch. So that explains the mystery of the missing bread from Shirou’s pantry. Though he could have just stopped there and not comment unnecessary about his thoughts that he thought she ate them as midnight snack. As they take the bus back, they feel something strange. There is no bus driver and the bridge falls apart. Though safe from the crash, they realize they are sealed in a barrier made by Caster. She has water golems attack them. How do you cut water anyway? They cannot make any rash moves because Caster has Fujimura as hostage. She makes Shirou an offer. Work under him and she’ll release her. Refuse of course. Rin is surprised to hear Shirou’s past an as an adopted son of Kiritsugu and thus Caster’s deduction he hates the Holy Grail, which in turn why he wants to claim it as compensation. In fact, she claims she can summon the Holy Grail right now and it is not necessary to have a Servant left. Therefore Shirou can avoid all the fighting he is against. However he still refuses to team up with her and wants Fujimura released. In that case, she will have his Command Spell. This will strip him of his Master status. Shirou is willing to have his hand ripped just to save Fujimura’s life. Saber and Rin cannot standby any longer and attack. However Shirou uses his Command Spell to stop Saber and in this moment, Caster uses her Noble Phantasm that negates all magic to stab her. Command Spells now appear on Caster’s hand and Saber is now her Servant. Caster orders reluctant Saber to kill Rin. Thankfully Archer finally breaks through the barrier and lets them escape.

Back home, Rin discuses with Archer why he is rooting for Saber instead of Caster. They agree the need to defeat Caster as top priority. Fujimura is healthy and under a sleeping spell. No threats, though. Archer believes her pact with Shirou is over since he is no longer a Master but she doesn’t think so. Until he says the fight is over, the pact is still intact. Did she just shift the goalpost? Shirou stumbles out from bed in his weakened state. He sees the familiar pendant and realizes that it was Rin who resurrected his life. Now he falls into super guilt that this is a debt he can never repay. Caster tells Assassin to guard to temple gates and her Master while she is away. Because he says something about doing this behind her Master’s back and doing it in hopes her love will reach him, she rips apart his chest as warning! Seems Caster is going to find a new base now that she has Saber (thus not really needing Assassin anymore who is just insurance) and claiming her prize ahead of schedule. She goes to see Kuzuki at the church. He claims she is breaking the rules by appearing on this neutral ground that no Heroic Spirit should be. But she believes the rules have changed when she shows him her Command Spells and Saber as her Servant. As for the Holy Grail summoning thing, Caster said that single Servant remaining rule refers to the big Grail. It doesn’t apply to the lesser Grail which she wants now. Since he refuses, she sets her golems to attack him. He has got nice kung fu chops and his blades to save his skin but how long will this last? Weakened Shirou looks for Saber and he wants to save Saber. Rin tells him it doesn’t matter to him anymore as he is no longer a Master. Being the stubborn mule he is, she tells him straight that he is a wreck without Saber. Already powerless himself, how is he going to rescue Saber? No more Saber, no more Master, no reason for him to be involved in this war. Stay out or die. You think Shirou has always been a good listener?

Episode 13
Saber is being tied up at the chapel and trying to resist Caster’s will. Though it would be just a matter of time… Kuzuki discovers Caster’s doing and wants her to explain why she did this without his authority (I thought he gave her permission to do as she please?). From obtaining Saber from her master to attacking the church to get the Holy Grail but to no avail, long story short, it’s all for his sake. Anyhow, he doesn’t care how she did it but as long as he gets the results. Rin and Archer make their way to fight Caster. Rin will take on Caster and wants Archer to concentrate on Kuzuki. She believes this is the best strategy. Once they get Saber back, they can reform another pact with Shirou. So as they begin their fight, surprisingly Archer protects Kuzuki from Rin’s shots! What is the meaning of this? Archer knows Caster’s true identity as Princess Medea. He wants to form a pact with her. Of course this is for his own goal but Caster agrees to play into his hands and make him her Servant since she wouldn’t be much of a mage if she cannot control him. The Command Spells are forcefully taken from Rin. Kuzuki targets her. Shirou who has been watching all this jumps in to be a hero but I guess he is still recovering so he couldn’t put up much of a fight. Archer wants Caster to let them go just this once as condition for him to join her by his own will. Of course if they cross their paths next time, they’ll be dead meat. Archer doesn’t want Rin to be angry at him. After all, Caster is the superior Master than her now. Rin promises she won’t give up and will defeat Caster to take him back. Then he’ll regret it. Shirou tries to console her but I guess it only makes her cry. So now she blames him and wants him to take responsibility? By hearing her beating up herself the useless person she is and couldn’t get things done when it matters? Shirou returns the pendant since he has one similar to this that was left by his side when Lancer killed him. She wants to know the real reason why he saved her. The real truth… He likes her!!! Tsundere girl doesn’t believe it but it’s true! Believe it! Shirou admits he does have feelings for her!!! Wait, romance at this time?! I suppose it’s the only way to mend broken hearts. Still, she is grateful for saving him.

Episode 14
Shirou explains why he is fighting in this war. Although Rin still opposes his idea, she can’t say no since after he saved her. Plus, she knows better of his stubbornness. So they’re still partners? Hey, I thought they should be a couple! On a serious note, they think of aligning with other Masters. Since Ilya is the only one they know, they head to her villa in the forest. A flashback on Caster’s past. She was a Servant to some guy whose family is new to this mage thing so he is only participating to increase the family’s prestige. He demonstrates his research that he pours his money and time into by sacrificing fresh lives to create mana. But Caster saw this as inefficient and demonstrates with ease her power. Impressed but jealous, he uses his Command Spell never to use her Noble Phantasm on him. Later he goes to complain to Kirei about Caster as Medea and wants to switch Servants. He has a letter he wants Kirei to give to Lancer’s Master to dispose Caster. When he returns, his lab is all in flames. Caster has burnt it down. If he is willing to listen, she will bring him to a place where the Greater Grail is. He is not interested and uses his Command Spell to kill herself. Nothing happens. He uses it again. Nothing. Because Caster’s Noble Phantasm is nullifying magic, although she cannot use it on him, she used it on herself. Then she kills him via some illusion. Shortly, Lancer comes in to finish her. As she lies dying outside, that is when Kuzuki picks her up and hears her story. He agrees to be her vessel. Rin and Shirou are outside Ilya’s forest but it is laced with magic barrier traps. Ilya is not happy her maids opposed to bringing them in to talk so she tells them to go capture them instead. However Shinji drops in at the courtyard. Still full of himself and looking for Berserker, the maids scare him off but that is when Gilgamesh appears. Shinji is his Master. He gives them a chance to go away but they viewing him as the enemy and attack. They died a bloody death. Ilya bursts in with Berserker. Mad that her maids are killed, she orders Berserker to kill him. Gilgamesh relishes fighting this legendary battle to alleviate his boredom.

Episode 15
As the epic battle rages on, Ilya believes Berserker cannot lose for he is the strongest. Time to have her flashback. After events of Fate/Zero, Ilya was anticipating Kiritsugu’s return. However some evil spirit in Iri’s form told her he betrayed them all and died. Ilya was then brainwashed that Kiritsugu had a son and that they are able to kill each other in the next Holy Grail war. So she undergoes painful surgeries every day to install magic circuits in her body. She finds a pool where it lies dead maids. Ilya hates this war as they explain they are just tools to achieve the Holy Grail. Ilya is told that she is the fines creation the Einzbern made and cannot be replicated. For if she loses, the Einzbern will give up on this thousand year research and they will be freed from their obligations. Ilya grew up to be a cold loli, not even caring when Sella and Liz became her personal maids. Berserker is summoned and she views him just as a tool for the Holy War. She even thinks herself as enough to win it. She experiences pain while trying to make a contract with Berserker. Then she just abandons him and wanders into the snowy forest. Hungry wolves target her. Before she can become their meal, Berserker saves her. It is then she realizes he moved not because of the contract or this Master-Servant thingy. He protected her on his own will. Since then a bond formed between them. Back to the battle, Gilgamesh has killed Berserker enough that he is on his final life. He mocks the big guy he would have stand a chance had he forsaken his Master but Berserker continues protecting her. In the end, Berserker is trapped by Gilgamesh’s Chains of Heaven and stabbed to death. Heartless guy then blinds the loli and kills her outright. Shirou is extremely mad and wants to jump in but Rin is using all her might to shut him up. Gilgamesh almost gets a heart attack when Berserker breaks out and lunges at him. Gilgamesh’s defence saves him and kills the big guy. Now that Shirou can scream at the top of his voice, what is he going to do? What can he do?

Episode 16
Gilgamesh tears out Ilya’s heart just to make sure. Shinji is being a jerk in taunting Shirou and offering Rin to join his side. He gets rejected again so he wants Gilgamesh to kill them. However he won’t since they have run out of time. Any further and this heart prize will ruin. After burying Ilya, Rin chides Shirou for his twisted ideals and wants him to spill what happened 10 years ago because right now he is broken. You know that Kiritsugu saving him story. Then they talk about Gilgamesh whose every weapon is his Noble Phantasm. They get defensive when Lancer is here. But they start arguing for the other to take cover. Since when this is a lover’s quarrel? Rest assured, Lancer isn’t here to fight them but to team up with them to defeat Caster’s little army. I mean, who else is left to team up seeing Lancer’s Master even don’t want a douche like Shinji. Shirou still can’t trust him since he was almost killed twice but with Lancer waxing lyrical about Rin, Shirou agrees. But he has a condition for him to be trusted: Don’t make passes at Rin! OMG! Is it romance time now? Rin could just blow up in embarrassment right now! Archer talks to Kuzuki about Caster’s wish. Kuzuki knows it isn’t about freedom but to go home although she herself isn’t aware of it. Lancer and the kids make their plan to fight team Caster. Lancer is to face Archer and although there is the risk Lancer might fight 3 Servants, he knows Assassin won’t be at the church where the big battle will take place as he is bounded at Ryuudou Temple. Lancer is concerned if they can defeat Caster themselves. Rin believes she can blindside her. Now at the chapel gates, Archer stands before them. Lancer and Archer clash so the duo rush in. Rin takes this chance to say this pendant is the only one and was the one Archer returned to her on the day he died. That’s all she wants to say. What? No confession?

Episode 17
Caster asks Kuzuki why he doesn’t have any wish. Something about his past living like a robot despite having free will to choose what he does. Therefore it is strange to have something to wish for now. Now that Rin and Shirou have entered the scene, Rin tries to mock Caster’s lame fashion sense and such. Their ploy is to separate them but Kuzuki knows it well and is not giving in. Well, time to get down to fighting business. But first we take a peek at the awesome battle between Lancer and Archer. It ends when Lancer uses his Gae Blog to strike at him. Archer activates his ultimate defence shield, Rho Aias. Wow! An atomic bomb-like effect! Although Archer survives, he is gravely injured. It’s safe to say who has won the match. More importantly, they notice Caster is not watching them anymore. That’s because now we go watch the less epic fight. It’s so mismatched if you think about it. Shirou is having a hard time trying to keep Kuzuki at bay while Rin employs her magic tries. However Caster sees through all of it. But perhaps this is just a ploy to make Caster think Rin has run out of magic gems because Rin then uses magic to fortify her body and beats up Caster with her fist. A mage would never have expected that. But before Rin can deal the winning blow, Kuzuki stops her. Did Shirou failed? Kuzuki wants Caster to wake up Saber now when Archer betrays and attacks Kuzuki. Caster protects him and gets stabbed. Kuzuki promises to fulfil her wish in her place but she says it has already been fulfilled. With Caster gone, does Kuzuki have any reason to fight? Well, he wants to finish what he started. Archer easily kills him. Since the church is crumbling, the slab falling on him saves the trouble of Archer dirtying his hands further. Rin has her suspicions of who Archer is because he said Shirou’s same words of trace on. If you think it’s over, think again. Archer misses in killing Saber. Then he tells off Rin that she is still not his Master. Now he is going to kill Shirou.

Episode 18
Archer answers Saber’s question about his pride as a hero. He has none and only foolish regrets. He regrets being a hero. Saber is weak as she fights Archer. Shirou takes over and is equally the same. Rin then recites the oath for a pact in which Saber agrees to become her Servant. Saber is now powerful enough to fight on par with him. They both talk about each other’s twisted ideals. Archer then shows them his true nature by unleashing Unlimited Blade Works. They are transport to a different reality. A hill covered with swords and giant cogs in the sky. Archer mentions he isn’t a swordsman or archer and was a mage in life before he became a hero. This world is all he has left and is his Noble Phantasm. After Shirou fights off his arrow of swords, they are transported back to reality. Archer has taken Rin hostage. He is not at full strength to take them on now and since he can last only 2 days without a Master, she is like insurance. Shirou tells him to take refuge at Ilya’s castle because if his objective is to kill him, Shirou also has something to say to him. Rin dreams of Archer’s sad life and deduces who he is. As I understand, Archer worked hard and thought his efforts would make others happy but he wasn’t rewarded of that and betrayed and exploited even after death. Although Heroic Spirits are summoned from across time, the rules didn’t say about summoning into the time when he lived to the city in which he once lived. Rin knows a fool who would sacrifice himself for others and would voluntarily do so in the afterlife. He sold his peace after death believing he could save more lives but in the end was betrayed by everything. Including his own ideal. So when Rin wakes up, she tells Archer about Shirou despite his naivety, she thinks that itself is sweet because it changed her. Shinji is at the scene but he is not here to fight. Archer tells him he can have Rin once he settles his score with Shirou by dawn. The douche agrees to wait and will gladly have her by then. Shirou has rested well. Time to go save Rin. He tells Saber he will fight Archer and wants her to stay out of it. He has a feeling that he knows who Archer is. I guess Lancer is bored so he decides to join this quest too.

Episode 19
Shirou deduces about Rin’s pendant. There can only be one of its kind. As she used it to resurrect him and had no other catalyst to summon a Servant, this means it was the Servant that held the catalyst and was summoned. As a Heroic Spirit can be someone who will exist in the future, Archer’s identity is the alternate future Shirou. Lancer offers to save Rin as it is his Master’s orders. Shinji is harassing Rin as his plaything when Lancer beats him out. He will free her and she is free to do as she wishes after that. Kirei opposes to that as he reveals himself as Lancer’s Master. He reveals his plan of deceiving Rin for 10 years as an important pawn. He needs her as a vessel to summon the Holy Grail and that’s why he entrusted Lancer to take care of her. From what Kirei says, Rin figures out he killed her father. Then you hear her spill all those uncouth insults at him. Shinji reminds Kirei about their agreement and that Rin is his but Kirei has important business with Rin. He wants Lancer to kill Rin as a vessel doesn’t need a heart. Lancer won’t do that and says he’ll have to use a Command Spell for that. Very well then. Why, he has got tons of Command Spells! He orders Lancer to kill himself! Archer talks about becoming a Heroic Spirit not on his own merits and only posthumously. Something about Shirou becoming a champion of justice and when Archer became one, he knew it was a mistake. Saber explains her goal for the Holy Grail is to undo a mistake she did but failed to do so and did not reach her ideal. Shouldn’t Archer be the realization of Shirou’s ideals? Archer explains after his death, he became some sort of guardian out of time to safeguard human history as a tool. He killed so many that he couldn’t care anymore. He just didn’t want anyone to cry. That is when it hit him Shirou’s ideals were shallow. It’s impossible to save everyone. It drove him to despair. He throws a sword for Shirou to kill himself. The ideals he had were ridiculed. All those he wanted to save were killed. He is sick of cleaning up the mess and repeating this eternal cycle. His only hope for this to stop if the hero never existed. Never born. Saber argues Archer will continue to exist as he exists out of time. True. But there is that possibility. Even if it doesn’t, at least this world will not appear a certain champion of justice. After Shirou confirms Archer’s regret, he is now certain they are both different beings. Whatever Shirou does, he won’t regret it. If Archer is his ideal, he’ll just have to get rid of that misguided ideal. Enough talking guys. Time to fight.

Episode 20
Kirei is going to take Rin’s heart. Sorry Shinji. Your protests are ignored! But before Kirei could kill her, Lancer stabs in the heart! Lancer wouldn’t have been much a hero had he die that easily. Shinji thought he has the last laugh now that it is only them. Still being the jerk. Because Rin still rejects him, he is going to kill her and make her submit. Lancer beats him up. Still not dead? Shinji thought of calling Gilgamesh to kill him but that blondie is nowhere to be seen. Now you’re screwed. Lancer just scratches him and that coward runs away for his life! Lancer and Rin talk about a few things before he burns the place to take Kirei along with him to hell. Back to Shirou and Archer’s fight, although the latter is clearly superior, Shirou’s ability to master his past abilities will have him catch up in no time. I suppose it is time for a change in scenery so Archer invokes Unlimited Blade Works again. As Shirou takes a beating, Archer continues to berate him of his hypocrisy and ideals. Shirou is just someone who is trying to copy the ideals of a dead man who has failed to live up to. As Shirou is struck down, he is left to believe all that Archer has said had been through. Though, he feels that he is forgetting something. After seeing all of Archer’s pain and killings, Shirou is finally at the scene where he was pulled out from the rubble of the great fire by Kiritsugu. So the thing Shirou thinks he has forgotten was about the true wish for this hell to be undone then. Even if his life becomes hypocritical and a machine, he will still continue becoming a hero of justice. After he pulls out a sword, all his wounds are healed. Something to do with Saber’s scabbard, the link that Kiritsugu implanted in them to save their lives. Despite their severed contract, it still continued to protect him. Shirou mentions his body is built of blades. He might lose to anyone but he won’t be beaten by himself. His heart was weak thinking of accepting Archer’s words. But now he realizes being right isn’t everything. He doesn’t care about that. He will become a champion of justice.

Episode 21
Archer has had it with this stupidity. There’s more talk about this ideal rejection. As for Shirou, even if everything for him is fake, he still finds it beautiful. But he knows his dream wasn’t a mistake. Shirou charges up to Archer. I guess due to old sentiments, Archer was unable to strike him as Shirou stabs his guts. It is Shirou’s win. Even if this matter between them is over, Archer is stabbed by Gilgamesh’s swords. In the biggest irony of his ideals, Archer saves Shirou out of harm’s way to get killed and then tells him to save the day. Well Shirou, you’ve always wanted to play the hero of justice, right? After mocking about originals and fakes, Gilgamesh and Saber meet for the first time in 10 years. He explains he remained in this world and took this form after the end of the last war. He explains the entire process of summoning the Holy Grail is nothing but a farce and pretext. What the mages wanted wasn’t the Holy Grail but its contents. However they were unable to fill it. As the Holy Grail must be filled with the highest and purest mana, that is why Masters and Servants were summoned. The more sacrifice, the better. When the Holy Grail burnt down the city in the last war, Gilgamesh was caught in it and he saw its true nature. It is actually a weapon perfectly tailored to kill. Therefore Gilgamesh’s desire is to eradicate all humans in this era by using it. If humans are wiped out, how can a king rule without any subjects? He wants to find those who can survive his hell. Those who do are worthy to be ruled over by him and those who don’t, well, that’s just too bad for those weaklings. Gilgamesh won’t kill them since he has slain his true target. Their lives are worth less than soot to him. He warns Saber to act quickly because he will soon produce the Holy Grail and rain down hell on this world. That Shinji dude is still alive? Yeah, he is blaming Gilgamesh for his minor injury he got from Lancer among other complaints! After mentioning Kirei is dead, he wonders how the Holy Grail will be materialized since they don’t have a vessel. On the contrary, Gilgamesh knows a Master whom he can sacrifice. He sticks Ilya’s heart into Shinji, turning him into an ugly mass of painful blob. Good riddance. I know we can be sure this jerk is finally dead but to see him go this way… Nah! He deserves it!

Episode 22
Rin wants revenge on Archer but certainly they can’t fight Gilgamesh without a plan. She has deduced the Holy Grail will manifest at Ryuudou because of all the familiars she sent to spy, that was the only one destroyed and this means Gilgamesh must be camping there. They plan in destroying the cup before it materializes and figured out that Shinji became the vessel. On who is to fight Gilgamesh, it seems Shirou thinks Saber won’t be right for the job. So he is going to fight that dude? Even Rin thinks Shirou has a better chance against him but the problem is his overwhelming Noble Phantasms. But Shirou might stand a better chance if he were to fight him in that Unlimited Blade Works’ world. Since Shirou does not have enough mana to even open that world, Rin is going to transplant her magic crests onto him. It might be her ultimate family’s legacy but she is willing to sacrifice that for her ultimate fight. So… How are they going to do it? You have to undress, eh? Body heat transfer thing, eh? No wonder Rin looks so embarrassed. Don’t worry. It’s just their top. And disappointment if you want to see Rin in her bra because she’s just wearing a camisole that looks more like a singlet you wear casually around your house. The transplant is successful but Rin starts blaming him for seeing it. No, nothing naughty. It seems during the process, Shirou saw her secret memories. He didn’t realize he was watching from her point of view all the times she spied on him! Rin, you stalker! And he didn’t know that strange guy was himself! She repeatedly smacks him with the pillow and he still doesn’t get what is happening. Later Shirou talks to Saber and the latter vows to protect them so they both can return to this house. Gilgamesh is in his final steps in making the Holy Grail pour hell over the city. Shinji is a hideous gigantic monster although his painful face still looks silly.

Episode 23
The plan is for Saber to enter via the front gate to fight Gilgamesh while the duo sneak from the back to save Shinji. Saber notes she can only user her holy sword one more time as she is running out of mana. Rin has to split her supply of mana to them. Why you so unhappy, Shirou? Someone else tries to be a little bit heroic and that is against your policy? As Rin and Shirou arrive, they see the huge blob that Shinji has become. Plus, the Holy Grail is spilling its curses and overflowing the place. To their shock, Gilgamesh approaches them. Then who is Saber facing then? How can Assassin still be around when Caster is gone? I don’t know about this special rule explanation since Assassin isn’t your typical summoned Servant. He even mentions he isn’t that Heroic Spirit. Although that person might be real somewhere in time, they are definitely different people for that Heroic Spirit might just be a mantle so Assassin was one who was most qualified to wear that using his skills. Rin pops some booster pill so she can wade through the curses to find Shinji while Shirou fights off Gilgamesh. He tries to trace all his swords and spears but it takes quite some time and energy. The Holy Grail then starts to absorb the malevolent wishes of humanity all around the world. Because Rin has pulled out Shinji, the curse that has lost the core is now seeking a replacement and trying to get Gilgamesh. He pulls out the greatest sword, Ea (a sword so fearsome that Shirou can’t even copy it) to put it back at bay. Shirou got caught in it. No, Gilgamesh. You didn’t hold back at all. Saber is hesitating over her options as she continues clashing with Assassin. Thus he has to hint to her about the things they are protecting and therefore there should be no doubt. He hints they are both running out of time. Seeing Assassin is near transparent, Saber reveals her Excalibur as both prepare their ultimate move. Assassin strikes with Tsubame Gaeshi but Saber dodges them all and cuts him. He lets her go before he vanishes. Oh, looks like Shirou still breaths.

Episode 24
Gilgamesh mocks the faker Shirou is. I thought Shirou was done with this? Because now he is reconciling the fact that he indeed borrowed his ideals, blah, blah, blah. Anyway Shirou is still going to believe in his dream even if he doesn’t achieve it. Saber comes to Shirou’s rescue but he tells her to help Rin because he knows he can defeat Gilgamesh. But first he apologizes he couldn’t save her. He believes the Holy Grail isn’t what she is looking for and should destroy it properly this time. Shirou then uses his power to transport Gilgamesh to his Unlimited Blade Works world. Because his body is made of unlimited blades, he doesn’t create swords. But a world with unlimited swords. Even if he is a fake and can’t rival the real thing, he just needs to surpass everything that is genuine and beat him. He even mocks Gilgamesh that he is a king and not a warrior. Therefore just like Shirou himself, he is a jack of all trades and master of none. He might possess every kind of sword but he never took the time to master any of them. I guess this pisses him off now. Going to fight with all your strength now? Stranded and weakened Rin warns Saber not to touch the curse or who knows what will become of her. She even uses a Command Spell to make her stay away since she is adamant in risking her life to save her. But when Rin realizes she cannot make it to safety, she uses another Command Spell to order Saber to destroy the Holy Grail now. In a twist of fate, Archer cannot stand this pathetic state and blasts open a path for her to safety. Rin uses her final Command Spell for Saber to obliterate the Holy Grail till no traces of it are left. She did such a good job that it is raining mini golden light balls. With the contract with Rin over, Saber disappears. Shirou powers up to repel every sword Gilgamesh throws at him and is even fast enough to slash off his hand before he uses Ea! It ends with a deep cut across his body. Back in reality, Gilgamesh acknowledges Shirou’s victory but will still kill him. However the Holy Grail turns into some sort of black hole and trying to absorb Gilgamesh. It might seem Gilgamesh is trying to pull Shirou in too but in fact he doesn’t want to die yet so he wants Shirou to stay put till he can crawl out. Archer fires right into his forehead before the black hole swallows him up. Rin talks with Archer and wants him to contract with her again. Although he has no more goals, she feels bad he cannot be saved at this rate. So he tells her to look after his other self and she agrees to do that so he won’t end up a twisted jerk like him. Rin meets up with Shirou and they go home.

Episode 25
2 years have passed. Shirou still feels nothing has changed ever since. Currently he is living in an apartment with Rin in London. Seems they are studying magic at Clock Tower, the Mages Association’s HQ. Shirou is more of her pupil due to some rule. Then there is also Luvia. Her first debut in this series. Already an annoying rival for Rin, she is also her classmate and neighbour. Sparks going to fly? Shirou treats her kindly because she helped him when he was lost and was the one who found them that apartment. Rin can’t stand her any longer and requests to fight. So in this wrestling match with magic, Luvia wins. Hey, at least Rin has got Shirou to console her. Rin talks to him about his invitation to officially join the association but he is still contemplating about it. Next day, Rin takes him to King Arthur’s grave so he could properly say goodbye to Saber. Then they talk about the big wide world, their insignificant selves and how the Holy Grail war was just one of the many events that sowed the future. We jump back to the past when Shirou is in high school and in the aftermath of the Holy Grail war. Issei is fine although Ryuudou Temple is undergoing major renovations. Shinji is recuperating in hospital as Sakura continues to stick by his side. Fujimura has them gather Kuzuki’s stuffs since that guy has gone missing. Issei still despises Rin but is shocked when she hints about her romantic relationship with Shirou. He never saw it coming. Later Rin tells Shirou about her invitation to Mages Association in London after her graduation. She is allowed to take a pupil under her care. So care to go with her? He is too shy to say it so she takes that as a yes. Now back in London, Shirou is grateful that she took him along. When a teacher passes by him, he asks about his reason to study magic because he doesn’t look like a mage and as a survivor of Fuyuki City, what motivation brings him here. Simple. He wants to become a champion of justice. But of course, Shirou turns down the enrolment to join Clock Tower because he feels he cannot change his way of life. Rin is not mad and expected this although she will be thrown out in 3 years too. Shirou has a feeling he will meet the same fate as him and Rin agrees too. But the difference is how far he can go before ending up in the same destination. Since Rin hints she wants to see the world too, looks like it is Shirou’s turn to drag her around. They’ll share the fun, the pain and everything together because the future is in their hands. Lastly, Archer narrating about a certain kid and his ideals and despite all that, he continues to believe himself is right.

The Cup Of Death
It doesn’t disappoint, to say the least. It was as of my expectations as it was as great as its prequel. And no, I did not set and lower my expectations like how I do to some of the anime sequels. I just couldn’t. And it was a good thing that this remake lives up to its awesomeness. Kudos and a very good job well done. As the series has a very deep and rich storyline with multiple alternatives, casual viewers like me who do not even play the visual novel game that it is based on might not understand some of the deeper aspects of everything. Nevertheless, the execution was smooth and seamless that even though I may not grasp entirely on everything, that didn’t stop me from enjoying the epic greatness of it all. Just that maybe the ending and final episode felt a bit lukewarm with its chatty drama but I suppose there is no other better way than to wind down and end the series after all that bloody bloodbath.

As I am not familiar to the routes of the Fate series, it was quite a shocker for me at first when I it was played out that Shirou and Rin are ending up as an item. In fact, this route is supposed to have them end up together. I only learnt that the original Fate series which is also dubbed the Fate route was Shirou x Saber. And now that there have been an announcement for another production of another route, Heaven’s Feel is going to be a movie for Shirou x Sakura. I suppose that is why they need to do justice to her character seeing she was completely missing in the second half of the series. Like her character didn’t matter anymore. Especially when Shinji the douche was used as the vessel instead of her in the original Fate series.

Watching the first few episodes at first had me thinking if they were going to just repeat what happened in the 2006 production. Everything felt the same but before I know it, it soon branches off to another route with different outcomes for different characters. Most notably is how Saber has been very much reduced to a supporting side character. As said, since she isn’t Shirou’s love interest in this route, personally I feel her presence was minor and not really of a great significant importance. I mean, Saber is still important. But not in the way that her character was played out in the original series. I figure that so as not to waste this, Saber ‘reprises’ her role again in destroying the Holy Grail and become the saviour of mankind for the current era. But then it feels like they want to usher her out of the scene quickly and make way for Shirou x Rin. I don’t know. I just felt awkward that it was like this way.

Another notable character is Archer. As this route is also about him and Shirou’s other self, he ‘lasts longer’ compared to the original series where he was taken out by Berserker. There are still some things that I don’t really get between Archer and Shirou but to each his own. Though, the only thing I can’t understand is his return to help Rin and Shirou in the final battle with Gilgamesh. I thought he really died and that was done with. By making his short comeback, it feels like ‘cheating’ because there was no other way our heroes could get out of this. So how? Bring back Archer when you least expected it! I don’t know about this. It just felt weird. Maybe there is something that I don’t understand but this kind of move makes me think it feels a bit cheap especially when you bring back a dead character. But who cares, right? Archer is a likeable character, right? Yeah well… I’m more into Saber… :-).

Taking a big hit this season is Rider. Her appearance reduced to a mere pathetic state since she was killed off as fast as she made her appearance! At least last season she had that fight with Saber, revealing her Noble Phantasm. Ah well. You can’t have everything. And I thought this would also in turn ‘kill off’ Shinji but that guy lasted till the end albeit he became a pawn for unbecoming reasons. Also the biggest casualty is the fact that Ilya died! It was shocking and heart breaking to see that this loli was killed off in a cruel fashion! Because in the original season despite she lost, she continues to stay with Shirou and thus contributing to the harem factor. As a result, this harem factor is also cast aside. Ilya’s dead, Sakura is ‘missing’ and Saber is just another loyal Servant. Oh, I forgot about Luvia but that is another story. As a result, the romance with Rin feels a bit on and off. I mean, you can’t have full blown romance when you are in the middle of a war, can you? So… No kiss at the end?

Caster seems to have more screen time this season albeit her role feels like she is playing the mid-boss and middle antagonist. Unlike in the original she was abruptly killed off by Gilgamesh, Archer betrays her and takes over the antagonist and final boss role before Gilgamesh becomes the ultimate final-final big boss for Shirou to overcome. I almost forgot about Lancer. That guy’s fate in all seasons feels tragic. No doubt he has more screen time here too, the original series sees him being killed off by Gilgamesh. Now, he had to kill himself. This was somewhat the same too in Fate/Zero. Poor guy. Same case with Kirei. Although he is a scheming villain, instead of being killed by Rin’s dagger before, now he gets killed off by Lancer.

One of the greatest contributing factor I believe in making this season as great as the predecessor is the awesome visual effects. They still have not lost their touch in producing all the visual eye candy and retain many of the good stuffs you see in Fate/Zero right here. So whether they are the air particles, the smoke steam, the water ripples and even the majestic effects in the fight scenes, it really does evoke that grandeur sense and everything you see here is made in top notch quality. Even the shadow and lighting of every scene are excellently done. Very good indeed. Hence it is clear to see why this series under Ufotable fares very much better than its predecessor. This is what you call quality.

The fight scenes are still as awesome and amplifying that effect as said are the special effect visuals that come with it. You will be in for a feast for your eyes when you see Servants taking on each other and guaranteed there is no short of breath taking epic blockbuster. Even if it might seem ridiculous, but please bear in mind and remember that these aren’t any ordinary people in an ordinary fight. You can feel the power impact each time they unleash your magic or strike their weapon. Well, at least I experienced it since I was quite engrossed and glued to the screen during the fight scenes.

Another great thing is that all the seiyuus who lend their voice in the original series, reprise their role in this season. Therefore there is no ‘shock’ in hearing your characters sound different than before. Although the visuals greatly improved, there is no reason for a change in the voice acting department since everybody did a splendid job before. Thus it is good to hear all your favourite seiyuus in their usual roles like Noriaki Sugiyama as Shirou, Kana Ueda as Rin, Junichi Suwabe as Archer, Ayako Kawasumi as Saber, Shinichiro Miki as Assassin, Hiroshi Kamiya as Shinji, Mai Kadowaki as Ilya, Jouji Nakata as Kirei, Nobutoshi Canna as Lancer, Noriko Shitaya as Sakura, Rikiya Koyama as Kiritsugu and Tomokazu Seki as Gilgamesh.

The first opening theme is Ideal White by Mashiro Ayano. Although sounding like a generic anime rock piece, the liveliness and upbeat pace will get you into the mood of the series. The second opening theme is slightly less lively, Brave Shine by Aimer. But it is still a good rock piece to hear and befitting the direction of where the series’ plot on where it is heading. The main ending themes are done by Kalafina. If you are familiar with their trademark voice singing style, you will feel right at home here. Believe is the first ending theme while Ring Your Bell is the second one. While the songs do sound great, sometimes you wonder if it is just the same song with a few modifications because many of their songs basically sound almost the same. There is a special ending theme but it lasts only for a single episode. The dramatic This Illusion by Lisa marks the halfway point of the series. Last Stardust by Aimer is an insert song in the form of slow rock.

Overall, this is definitely an amazing and epic series. Even if you are not a fan of the series or even one who is into the action fantasy genre, I will still recommend to watch this series for its great epic visual effects, fight scenes, characters and while maybe not so much the plot, at least enough of a story to drive the direction of the series and its characters. Some may say not to watch the original series but I recommend doing so in order to fully appreciate the great quality of this one. Not too sure if there is going to be any more arcs that need animating (not even sure if there are other routes in the series), but I am sure I’ll be waiting to watch if Ufotable picks it up. And I do know I don’t need the wish of the Holy Grail to make that happen. Speaking of which, aren’t there better, faster and easier ways just to destroy humanity? Like, taking away internet connection? Yeah…

Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso

November 15, 2015

Child prodigies in music can go a long way. I suppose that is why many mothers try to pound music into their child from a very tender young age so that they can become good musicians in the future. Call it some sort of investment but what happens when that ‘investment’ turns bad? So much for that promising future. So happen that our main character in Shigatsu Wa Kimi No Uso (Your Lie In April) was a piano prodigy till a tragic shocking event made him lose interest and turn a blind eye to the music world, preferring to live the mundane and boring life like any boring other human being. So how do you get an ex-musician back into his old passion again? Get another musician to ignite that passion again? I’m sure not any ordinary or genius musician would do. Somebody crazy and free spirited enough to make him jump back into the passion he once left behind.

Episode 1
Kousei Arima is transcribing music notes in the music room when suddenly a baseball crashes through the window hitting him right on the head! He is bleeding! Blame his childhood friend, Tsubaki Sawabe for that reckless move but she doesn’t sound so remorseful. Somebody has got to clean this up. Of course, they got lectured by the vice principal. For an hour. Walking back with their friend Ryouta Watari, they talk about his playboy character. Lots of girls seem to like him. Kousei doesn’t understand what they see in him but as for himself, he notes girls wouldn’t want to fall for a guy like him. Yeah well, this short flashback tells us he is some sort of piano prodigy. Already playing at some high level competition at such a young tender age but he cracked during it and that was the end of his piano days. Tsubaki talks to Kousei that there is a classmate of hers who likes Watari and wants to get to know him. She plans on introducing her to him but it will be awkward if there would be an odd number of people. So she wants him to come along too. Because she is also into classical music, she thought they have something in common. However Kousei says he has not played the piano for 2 years and the songs he is transcribing are just for his part time job (for karaoke outlets, etc). Tsubaki doesn’t care what reasons he gave because it feels like he is still desperately trying to cling onto it. She thinks he is way cooler when he played the piano.

More flashbacks. Kousei’s mom, Saki had a dream of turning her son into a world class pianist. As she ran a piano school, she trained him like the Spartan way to become one. It was hell as a kid. If he did the slightest mistake, he was beaten up. But as long as it makes her happy, he didn’t mind enduring the torture. Her dream was also to have him perform in some European competition. But 3 years ago just when he finally has his sights on that competition, mom died. So maybe that is why he is still clinging on to piano. Take away that and he has nothing. Kousei waits at the park they are supposed to meet. However he finds a pair of female shoes and spats pants on a tree! Did somebody get raped? Nearby the playground, there is this beautiful girl, Kaori Miyazono is helping a bunch of kids play the melodian. Soon they engage in a mini ensemble of their own and play a simple yet beautiful music. Kousei wanted to snap a picture of this when the wind blew. It blew up her skirt. Kaori saw this. Not good. She tries to beat up this pervert (with a recorder) and accuses him as a voyeur. Sorry to interrupt your beating but Tsubaki introduces Kaori to Watari. Although Kaori gets back to her polite mode, she warns Kousei not to even mention that embarrassing scene. I’m not sure if it’s an insult or not because Tsubaki wants Kousei to continue playing the supporting role and for now he will be known as just Friend A. Kaori is also a violinist and the reason she is here is because there is a music competition in the hall nearby that she is participating in. Oh, look at the time. Time to go. Kaori takes Kousei’s hand as they make a dash there.

Episode 2
The moment they step into the auditorium, those traumatic memories of Saki pops up. I guess it is that bad. But luckily he is still in control of himself. Also, many people here recognize Kousei although they’re just whispering about that prodigy kid who suddenly went out of the scene a couple of years ago. The competition begins (Watari fell asleep right away!) and after a few competitors, it is now Kaori’s turn (Watari instantly wakes up to cheer on her!). However the piece she plays shook everybody up. She improvises the piece on her own. While this is creative, this does not sit well with head judge who feels this is blasphemy and picking a fight with the composer. Of course even if this is much more interesting than the other by-the-book competitors as some of the judges see, this is still a competition. Which means if you don’t follow a set of rules, out you go. But Kousei can see how happy she was while she was playing. Like as though winning this competition is not what she is looking for. During the break, a couple of young girls hand a bouquet of flowers to her and proclaim they have become her fans. The names of those who passed the first preliminaries are announced. Kaori made it based on audience choice. While Kousei has a lot on his mind, Watari comes to talk to him and thinks he likes Kaori. Although he denies, Watari starts blabbing about the sparkles that you can see in one’s eyes when they are in love. That is why people irrationally fall in love. Still think it is impossible for you? Well, the girl will tell you whether it is impossible or not. Tsubaki than barges in to give Watari an earful because he made one of his girlfriends cried. Better make up quick. When Kousei goes home, he sees Kaori outside the gates waiting for Watari. He knows he won’t come as he has walked home with that girlfriend and lies he might still be in football practice. She thought of going to take a peek but he lies about the club being busy preparing for the summer tournament. It might disrupt them. In that case, Kaori appoints Kousei as his substitute.

Episode 3
As Kousei accompanies Kaori at a café, after hearing a couple of young girls playing the piano, Kaori forces Kousei to accompany them. His finger play is creative and attracted the attention of the entire café but suddenly he stops. The trauma. Sorry. He can’t go on. Later, Kaori reveals she actually knows who he is. She lists down some of his accolades and his precision playing. It is the reason why many take inspiration in music and look up to him. Every musician in this generation has heard of him. He reveals he cannot hear the piano sound. It was okay at first but as he progresses, he cannot hear them anymore. But Kaori has decided to appoint him as her accompanist for the next round. No buts. Because he is still reluctant, you can see Kaori chasing and harassing him on the way to school about this! So once Tsubaki learns about this, she becomes her accomplice in harassing Kousei to make him bend and accept Kaori’s request. Yup. She went so far as to copy manuscripts of the piece Kaori will be playing and stick it all over the music room, stuff it in his locker and even back in his room and outside her window (they’re neighbours too by the way)! Kousei is stubborn and won’t give in. Kaori wonders why Tsubaki is adamant to bring Kousei back to the piano life. It doesn’t matter to her if he plays piano or not. But if he wants to quit, he has to do it on his own terms. Ever since that day, he has been trapped with no place to go. She is sure something will change if he plays the piano again. On the day of the second preliminaries, Kousei is shocked to see Kaori looking for him at the rooftop instead of being at the auditorium. Well, she’s looking all over for him. She’s still a stubborn one too. After a good beating up, he continues to give excuses why he can’t play or live up to her expectations. But she chides him that he is just running away. Kousei remembers on that day when he couldn’t hear the sound of the piano anymore right in the middle of the competition. Everyone thought he cracked under pressure and his competitors were happy to have less one rival. Kaori says they might not be the best performance but as long as there is a chance, she will still play and there will be an audience. The people who have heard her will remember her. And then suddenly she bows her head and starts crying! Please support her! Ah, tears of a girl enough to make a guy change his mind and heart. Kousei now knows what Watari told him about the girl knowing about it. Tsubaki and Watari were also finding him. After beating him up, they rush all the way there. It’s already unthinkable that they’re skipping class, I don’t know whose bicycles they stole but hold on for the ride of their lives!

Episode 4
Kousei remembers Saki’s strict lessons to make him precisely remember the scores. He heard everybody badmouthing this ‘torture’ like as though he is a machine. He felts sad that nobody understood and that he was the only one on her side. At the backstage and before their turn, Kousei is running nervous because he is trying to get a feel of the notes but is not confident. So much so he is ignoring Kaori showing off her new dress. She head butts him and tells him to look at her. Now that he is calmed down, she believes he can do this. Their turn is called and Kousei views her as the freedom. But she corrects him: Music is freedom. Once they take stage, many are shocked to see Kousei as her accompanist. Everything starts well. Even Kaori is playing like the textbook. Till she starts going creative. Then when he starts seeing visions of Saki, that is when Kousei starts losing it. His sound is so obviously out of place that even the audience can pick it up. Kousei starts panicking he cannot hear the notes. Then he completely stops. Some believe this is a good move because he might destroy the violinist’s performance. Then she completely stops. What’s going on? She wants to take this from the top again (it is permissible as long as the performance is within the time limit). She starts off solo while Kousei just sits there. Then he thinks back and tells himself to focus. Even if he can’t hear the notes, he has seen the score everywhere for the entire week. Use his imagination. He starts playing again although their sound is still all over the place. He then remembers a gentler lesson from Saki of not pounding the piano with force but to touch it gently with a smile. Now that Kousei is getting his groove, the judges can tell that he is trying to outdo the violinist! It’s like they’re both ‘fighting’ to take the limelight! But still, this is what gets the audience entranced. Kousei is glad he Kaori moved him and can hear her sound. It ends with a bang and the crowd applause so loud that you think this is a rock concert! Those people who hated him now love him? Shortly, Kaori collapses.

Episode 5
Flashback shows Tsubaki and the kids used to jump off a bridge called Bridge of Bravery into the shallow stream below. She also used to shove Kousei off. At first, he was scared but after the first try, he wants more! Kaori is recuperating well in hospital. Well, it’s Tsubaki’s fault for barging in without knocking while she is changing so why do the guys have to get beaten up? The collapse is her first time and it is all thanks to the stress of trying to chase a certain guy to be her accompaniment. Yeah, it’s your fault. Despite so, Kaori never really scolded him although he expected it. Also, he hasn’t been playing the piano since because he thought it would be the only thing he is good at. Is that a bad thing? Besides, can he forget it? So we’ve got a long drama of Kousei thinking about Kaori on how she refused to give up and supported him. We take a short detour as we see Tsubaki meeting up with her baseball senior, Saitou who is now in his high school first year. Just like any other girls, she also liked this ex-captain with lots of cool qualities. But why does she need to compare him with Kousei? Anyway, it seems she didn’t expect this. A scene that looked like Saitou confessing to her. She looks confused after that and despite all that, she didn’t feel the shining spark she expected. Once Kaori is out from hospital, Kousei sees her doing well interacting with Watari. I guess this means he doesn’t need to interrupt? On the way back, he bumps into her on the bridge. She exaggerates disappointment he didn’t get her another get-well presents so he agrees to do whatever she wants. All part of her plan? She wants him to enter a piano competition. It is his turn. He is in a dilemma to do so because he abandoned music and doesn’t deserve to be a performer. Kaori feels many musicians are in the same boat. At first they don’t want to do it but will pick it back up and start playing. That is how you make the most beautiful lie. Since they’re just 14, they should do whatever they want. To prove it, she jumps off the bridge. Kousei gets inspired by her and also does the same. He realizes that there is no way he could forget it.

Episode 6
When Kousei was young, he scraped his knee. He was crying all the way while poor Tsubaki had to carry him back. But she was relieved it wasn’t his hands that were hurt or else Saki would have killed her!!! Kaori sees Kousei’s messy piano room and tries to clean it! Then she starts getting emotional and apologizing. When she opens the window for fresh air, neighbour Tsubaki is in full view of this and gets the wrong idea. Wow. She can throw a chair across? Thanks to that, she’s pretty fired up during her baseball practice. Kaori plays an out of tune recording of Kousei playing Chopin’s Etude. He can’t believe it is him. Since she has already registered him for the competition, no b*tching about it and get practising. But first he needs to do mental imaging because he will still have to play even if he can’t hear the notes. Kousei seems struggling and suffering trying to get it right practice after practice so Kaori goes to talk to him again and why the heck does she feel bad for it? Wasn’t she the one who put him up to this? Instead, he is grateful that he met her even though this challenge is hard, at least it is fulfilling. Kousei and Kaori go to support Tsubaki’s baseball team and of course this means Tsubaki can’t concentrate on her game because her mind is being preoccupied about Kousei. She’s worried that his eyes are turning to someone else and not her? I should have guessed it. Thanks to that, not only she hurt her ankle but the team lost the game. Now it is Kousei’s turn to carry her back. They talk about things. Kousei sounds more positive now as he is going to give his best while she watches him with a smile. He comments on her light weight and she is not happy???!!! I don’t understand???!!! But anyway that sounded like a signal for Tsubaki to cry her heart out on his back. Sad but relieved. She is glad to be by his side and hopes this moment will last forever. At least in your heart. Meanwhile a couple of contenders for the piano competition are ‘happy’ that Kousei is participating because now they can get revenge for some past humiliation.

Episode 7
Feels like a horror prologue… Because a black cat is talking to Kousei asking/telling him who he is and where he is going. Watari’s friends come to support him in his football game although too bad his team lost. Watari may put up a cool front but in the toilet he lets it all go. So I guess Kousei is the only one whose ‘season’ is still alive. As he continues practising his piece, that cat trauma turns up. He reveals to Kaori that he had a black cat named Chelsea when he was a kid. It would steal his candies when he was not looking. One day, Chelsea scratched his hand. Lots of blood. Mother got up and got rid of it. That was the last he saw of Chelsea. He thought had he done something, things might turn out different. Therefore the scars left behind by Chelsea remind him of Saki. He feels he is in Saki’s shadow but Kaori says he is who he is. The next time this cat trauma shows up, Kousei isn’t that scared. Yeah, what a way to remind him tomorrow is the big day. Those kids who want their humiliation avenged, Emi Igawa and Takeshi Aiza (his towering spikey hair – is he trying to be the Super Saiyan of classical music?!), they still hold the grudge over Kousei because he ignored them. Hey, could you blame a kid for not being interested in anyone, not even himself? So you shouldn’t be pissed off when he doesn’t recognize you. He never knew you in the first place. Watari heard lots of contestants not having good words of Kousei. Kaori explains Kousei’s notorious reputation as a human metronome as he played scores to exact precision. Like as though he is made to win competitions, something that those who want to seek out more in music aren’t happy of. In other words, they’re just jealous, right? The competition starts and everyone is not spared from the jitter and nervousness. Kousei is trying to calm himself. It is Takeshi’s turn. Although he is last year’s winner, he has a darn good reason he is participating in it again by turning down overseas exposure and another piano competition.

Episode 8
Takeshi tells his teacher, Takayanagi that there is a damn good reason he turned down that German invitation and wants to play in this competition: Kousei. His goal in life is not to go overseas or play in some other big competition. It is to face him in competition again. Takayanagi can’t be more grateful for Kousei because of his existence, it brings out the best in Takeshi and matures him. So he plays a stunning piece and realizes his hands were only trembling after he returns to the backstage. He thought he could rub it in to Kousei who has been watching but he thanks him for a great play and Takeshi is flattered by that. What the heck is this bromance feel? Takayanagi goes to brag to Emi’s teacher, Ochiai but she fires back how Emi will reign supreme today. Despite Takeshi’s improvement over the years, Emi was the fickle one and went the other direction. But thanks to Kousei, the obstacle she was supposed to overcome has returned. Emi remembers attending a recital that Kousei was in. She was dozing off thanks to the super boredom when this clumsy guy took centre stage. But when he started playing, she started sitting up and was impressed. Her future was decided. Kousei made a mistake and in that short silence, Emi started to cry out loud. Now it is Emi’s turn. She starts off normally before her furious finger work becomes like the raging wave, like as if her emotions surge uncontrollably, pouring ever emotion into her play. She’s playing in hopes Kousei would return to his former self, the guy she always admired. Her sound has Kousei sees colour of red and yellow. A play that indicates anger and loneliness. And when she’s done, everyone applauses so loud that you might think this was a rock concert.

Episode 9
For almost 5 minutes of the opener we see why young Emi tossed away everything after hearing her first Kousei’s performance so that she could be the best pianist. So after that heart pounding performance, she grabs Kousei by the shirt before apologizing. Keep calm, girl! No confession whatsoever. Well, she did hint she poured her entire feelings in her piano. And now it is Kousei’s turn and everyone is waiting in baited breath. Nobody understands why he chose an easy piece seeing he can play complex ones without any mistakes. Turns out Kaori used her pencil to randomly pick this Chopin piece. So Kousei is out on stage and is about to get started. But when he sees a girl holding a stuffed doll cat, those damn traumas start coming back. He braves them as he begins his play. All while remembering how he always believed winning and being number one would make Saki feel better because that is what she always said. His achievements are the best medicine. He is doing fine until visions of scary Saki pops up. Is she trying to screw with him? More flashbacks of Kousei continue to practice and skip playing with his friends just to become the best. And naturally other jealous people start calling him names for being perfect. He always believed Saki was sick because he did not play the way she told him. One day, Saki got special permission to watch him perform on stage. Again he won and it was simply one of his best. But after the show, Saki beats him up in public for making puny errors here and there!!! She’s scolding him about practice and all that, not even caring about him bleeding all over. That is when Kousei snapped. He told her off he worked his ass hard all for her to get better. All he wanted was mom to be happy. And yet this sh*t. If she could just die… Those were the last words he said to her and shortly she passed away. It is business as usual for him as he continued playing in the finals like as though her death didn’t affect him. But each time he peeps at the special spot where Saki used to sit, he could see her and perhaps it is his punishment for not being able to hear his own playing. Speaking of which, it has become obvious right now and everyone is noticing it.

Episode 10
Everyone is starting to wonder if this is Chopin he is playing. It’s so rough and uneven. Kousei is still fighting his inner demons. Saki continuing to haunt him that this is his punishment for rejecting her dream. The way he plays now indicates that he might stop completely in the middle of his performance (which amounts to disqualification) and when he couldn’t take it no more, he completely ceases to play. That’s the end. But his thoughts are now on Kaori. The things she said to him. The things she asked him. He finally has a reason why and who he should play the piano for. He will play it for her. He then restarts his play again. Slowly it changes to one whereby everybody could hear the sparkle and the warmth of his true emotions in it. His transformation has everyone think there were like 3 different pianists playing this piece. He remembers Kaori’s words that they may not be able to give a performance they can live with but as long there is an opportunity and audience that will listen, they will play. Play in a way that people will not forget them. So Kousei is thanking Kaori from the bottom of his heart and when it ends, it took the audience some time to realize they should applause! Heck, they are even in a dilemma if his performance was good or bad. But there is no regret on Kousei’s face when he takes his bow to the audience. To him, only one person matters right now. Has it reached her? He sees visions of scary Saki at her special spot. But that soon turned into a bright sparkling smile! Trauma defeated!

Episode 11
During the break when Kousei walks pass the judges, the old guy told him a competition is a sacred garden of music and not a place for soul searching. Then he is met with Hiroko Seto, Saki’s college friend and Japan’s leading pianist. After remembering a little nostalgia with him, she teases him which of the girls he is in love with. She can tell from his playing. It was screaming of confession. But Kousei doesn’t view it like that. It was just gratitude for the girl who is the girlfriend of his best friend. His is just Friend A. Wasn’t that episodes ago? When the results come out, obviously Kousei’s name is not there. He notices the joy of those who advance and disappointment of those who didn’t. Takeshi confronts him about his sloppy play. Kousei says he isn’t slacking and was practising till he passed out. Since he is still on a journey, he doesn’t know what lies ahead. Just like them as musicians, he’ll keep going. When Hiroko rings Kousei’s doorbell and didn’t get any reply, she fears the worst. His place is in a mess and he is collapsed before his piano. Don’t worry. He didn’t resurrect as a zombie. He was playing all night till he passed out. Kaori receives an invitation to play for a gala concert. Not only her but Kousei as well. She suggests playing a chilly piece instead of something more popular because with everybody else doing the same, they’ll stand out more doing the opposite. Kousei remembers Hiroko asking him what made him took up piano again after 2 years. He described the weird violinist he met back in April. She made him see something he had never seen before on stage. He would like to see that again as a weird pianist. If that is the case, Hiroko will become his guardian and help coach him piano. Kousei and Kaori are watching the fireflies at the riverbank. He says something about setting out on a journey and keep going till he can walk by her side. But she mentions that she won’t always be around to help him.

Episode 12
Kaori abuses Kousei if he doesn’t concentrate. How is this different from Saki’s treatment? Kousei is thinking about the piece Kaori chose in which a piano accompaniment was written by another composer. Because this piece brings back lots of memories that Saki used to play while as a toddler and he used to sleep under the piano while she does that. Too bad that trauma is working up so Hiroko takes him to the festivals to chill out. He still thinks mom hates him but Hiroko explains otherwise. When he told her to die, she was actually shocked but happy that he grew up as a pianist and person. And all this time he has always tried to forget about her… Now he has to continue to play not only to mature as a pianist but to say goodbye. Kousei brings Kaori home and since it is late, her baker dad almost clobbered him till he realizes this is Kousei. Because her parents are big fans of his, they treat him to all the nice cakes. Kousei you lucky bastard!!! I want those sweets! So more ‘abuse’ from Kaori when he doesn’t ‘get it right’ so the friends chill out playing sparklers. A friend asks the musicians about their future high school plans and assumes they are going to a music college. Kaori has not thought that far. All she is thinking how is to rock the audience at the gala concert. Tsubaki perhaps got a little jealous that Kousei is close to Kaori so she accidentally pushes him into the pool. Trauma time…

He remembers Hiroko telling him about this ‘gift’ of not being able to hear himself play. Something about his technical ability to pull it off. Whatever. Then his fingers naturally start moving as he starts playing air piano. Or is it water piano? Luckily he won’t be going to his watery grave as Watari pulls him out. Tsubaki cannot be more relieved because she doesn’t want to be blamed for him being drowned in a shallow pool! But Kousei starts thinking that light can reach to the bottom is it because of the shallowness or the moon light? On the day of the gala concert, Kaori is nowhere to be seen! Kousei is panicking more than anybody else! How ironic. If you’re wondering why a ninja is here at the concert, take note it is Emi in disguise. But she can’t fool Ochiai. And you can’t fool us with that tsundere attitude claiming she is NOT here for Kousei. Hiroko tries to get the management to change the order since this is not a competition and they should be more flexible. Well, not likely. Because everybody is anticipating a lot of Kaori’s performance. Everybody. Hiroko thought Toshiya Miike would help them swap places but he won’t because stealing the spotlight as the last performance belongs to him. Then he goes on to criticize Kaori’s chaotic playing which isn’t music at all and therefore she can only blame herself for being late on this day. I guess they’ll have to cancel their performance. Although Kousei is not angry at Miike, he agrees to follow the programme but proclaims it will be them who will steal the spotlight. Kousei walks onto the stage alone. The audience just keep getting surprised, eh?

Episode 13
Hiroko used to come over to Saki’s house each time she had a fight with her husband. Be careful about the songs you sing about him because Kousei can imitate them! Upon learning Kousei can play the piano, she wants this genius to do so. Kousei heads out alone to prove that he is the best. He doesn’t play the accompaniment piece but the one that mom used to play as his lullaby. To experts, they feel he is just pounding the keys away to vent out his anger. Kousei still cannot hear the notes but he could feel the sound resonating from within. That is when his sound starts to change to a better one. Everybody is now in awe. Hiroko remembers scolding Saki for reprimanding Kousei in public. Saki regretted it but she laments she doesn’t have enough time left. That is why when Kousei first broke down, Hiroko felt she was guilty for dragging him into this and didn’t feel she had the right to be with him. In Saki’s last breath, she has always been worried about her son. She believed as long as he had the skills he would be able to support himself. She really wanted to stay with him longer but could only wonder if her precious treasure will find happiness. Kousei has always used images of Saki as an excuse to run away. She isn’t here anymore. She is inside him. At the end of his play, everybody is so stunned that they forgot to applause! He leaves the stage as this song is supposed to be his goodbye to her. At the backstage, Kousei is shaking. She could feel like his mom was touching him while playing. He breaks down wondering if he has reached Saki. Of course it did. Now that everybody has heard the best, they don’t feel like hearing anything else. Heck, even Miike is shaking in fear of Kousei’s awesomeness. But seeing his mom in the audience, he vows to do better. At least he got the audience’s attention. Watari and Tsubaki go to congratulate Kousei but Tsubaki seems loss for words. Do the feelings of the heart have something to do with it? Ochiai talks to Hiroko and she never thought she was Kousei’s mentor. They talk about the tragic loss of Saki that affected everyone especially Kousei. But if this triggered something in him, this grim path is what Kousei must take. He might have to lose someone to keep walking. If you’re wondering where Kaori is, wonder no more. Kousei visits her in hospital. Don’t worry. She looks fine. I think.

Episode 14
Kousei thought Kaori looked like Saki hospitalized in bed. His memories messing up with his mind again, huh? Thankfully Kaori is doing well and although she wanted to call him to cancel their performance, she didn’t manage to do it in time. She collapsed when she tripped and banged her head on the wall. Kaori heard from Watari about his solo performance and laughs her heart out because it just sounds ridiculous for a pianist to play in a concert for violinists. Whose fault was it? All Kousei is concerned is if she would be coming back and that if he could see her again. Nao Kashiwagi talks to Tsubaki if she is still going out with Saitou. Of course. Well, she thought she had already broken up with him. Is breaking up a trend these days? If she is still with him, what about Kousei then? Why does she have to bring up his name? Tsubaki views him as her kid brother but Kashiwagi doesn’t look convinced. Kashiwagi talks to Watari because she is worried about Tsubaki and wants her smiling again. All he can say is that Tsubaki must realize herself that Kousei isn’t her kid brother anymore. Usually you don’t realize these things till it is too late… So we have Tsubaki reminiscing her younger days with Kousei but she is always forced to play alone since Kousei had piano lessons. Now she is pondering her relationship with Kousei and Saitou. What are they to her. Does she like him? Does she not like him? Suddenly Kousei comes running to her. He is frantic. He heard from Kashiwagi that she was in trouble and ran all the way to look for her. Turns out to be just a prank and false alarm? They spend some time walking together. She notes how much she has changed. Every time their eyes meet, her heart skips. Then Kousei drops a bombshell. He is going to a high school with a music course. This means he will be leaving home. Instantly Tsubaki runs away and starts crying like somebody has died. It is that feeling again. Music is taking her kid brother away. She realizes she has always taken him for granted to be by her side. The times they spent together, she really wanted it to go on forever like this. She wants Kousei to always be by her side.

Episode 15
Tsubaki… So gloomy… So much on her mind… Can’t hide it well… So much so one evening, Saitou tells her there is another girl he likes! He thinks they’re too similar to be with each other. Is he dumping her? Well, he notices she seems uncomfortable whenever around him. So let’s break up before it’s too late. Already broken hearted, you’re going to add to her misery? See? She’s crying now. And apologizing. Odd. He is the one dumping her (out of kindness) and she’s the one crying. So she talks to Kousei about this but gets mad that he is playing his piano instead of comforting her! And when he treats her nice, she doesn’t want him to! WTF???!!! So now you wonder why it’s hard to understand woman! Anyway, crying her heart out is all she can do. It makes her feel better. Kousei seems to be in a dilemma to visit Kaori. But a streak of bad luck strikes him that includes a little girl, Nagi Aiza dropping on him! He brings her back to his home and when she wakes up, she is in awe to see Hiroko as she is a big fan of her. As she is a student from a prestigious music school, she wants Hiroko to be her teacher. If she could convince her with her piano skills. Nagi doesn’t disappoint so Hiroko agrees to do so. But there’s a catch. She makes Kousei be her teacher. Kousei yet again gets cold feet to visit Kaori. So much so she has to call and scold him about his no-show. Something about Kousei comparing her to a cat. That’s why he loves her so much. I take it. He is a cat person. As Kaori returns to her room, suddenly she feels something wrong with her body. From what I can see, her legs will not move. As much as she ‘orders’ her legs to get up, they’re just sitting there nice and pretty. Time to panic? Scream! Screaming in the hospital hallway… At night…

Episode 16
OMG! Kaori is bleeding too! Let’s hope she’s fine after that. Kousei gives his harsh and honest opinion on Nagi’s playing. Nagi believes in playing the score as it is because she views it as sacred but Kousei doesn’t since scores are just emotional works of humans. That’s why it clings onto her like shackles. I guess Kaori is well enough to sneak out of hospital and go meet Kousei. Since Watari is not around, looks like he’ll be her substitute again. This time some sort of hell shopping. Kaori is just excited in fighting for the sales bin to even helping a lost girl. Kousei is her donkey… Thanks to this, he can’t get back in time for Nagi’s lessons. Hiroko wonders why she is quick to lash out at him. She doesn’t want to lose to him. Hiroko warns her Kousei is like her son and if she puts him in danger, it will be the end of her. She agreed to take Nagi as her student in hopes of showing something else other than sorrow. Kousei knows Kaori has lied to him when she brings him back to school to retrieve her lost bag. She never had a bag in the first place. She talks about being forgotten and as he cycles her back, she starts crying. He didn’t have the heart to ask her why. As Kousei continues his harsh lessons on Nagi, she feels like slamming on his fingers and poking on his eyes. But remember what Hiroko said, right? Yeah, she even comes up with an assassination plan. But I doubt it would work since she starts crying and running away after another tough lesson. So he goes make peace with her and they indirectly talk about Kaori (hinting she is the person he likes – we all know that already, don’t we?). When everybody visits Kaori, Kashiwagi shocks them all by revealing Kousei is coaching a girl. How come she knows this but everybody doesn’t? So is he trying to cheat on Kaori? Hey, there is a hickey on his sleeve! Is he giving her some sort of ‘lesson’? Ah, cheeky Nagi planted it there to give him hell. Kaori starts scolding Kousei that he shouldn’t waste his time coaching somebody and should dedicate it to practise his piano more. It hits breaking point when she starts crying. Nagi talks about wanting to destroy Kousei. Giving him a noble sacrifice? What? She returns home and you should have guessed it by now. She is Takeshi’s sister. When Kousei returns to see Kaori again, she suggests committing double suicide?! Isn’t that what lovers do?

Episode 17
Kaori is just joking about it. Is she? Kousei becomes so depressed it is so obvious and he couldn’t concentrate on his piano practice. Nagi goes to talk to him to cheer him up or something. This gloominess also reminds her about Takeshi when he experienced something similar. When Watari confronts Kousei about being a wuss to visit Kaori, that guy breaks down like it is some serious trouble. He is at a loss what to do. It seems Kaori hinted that she has not much time left and this brought back traumatic memories of his mom. History repeating itself? As Kousei is unsure of what to say to Kaori, Watari is sure he’ll figure it out when the time comes. So Kousei visits her again. Still not sure what to say. She suggests forgetting it all like pressing the reset button. He didn’t like that. They started arguing. Keep it down. You’re in the hospital. Nagi is shocked that Kousei requests to play at her school cultural festival. I guess there is no reason to turn him down. And she revels in seeing him grovel before her. Nagi practises hard but I guess the high expectations got to her. She runs away and hides in the toilet. This scene reminds Hiroko of how Kousei became scared for the first time. History repeating itself? She calms her down about the reason why she became a pianist. On the big day, Kousei sees Nagi very nervous. Her hands are trembling. He holds it (not because this is sexual harassment) and she could feel his are shaking too. A few words of motivation before it is their turn to take the stage.

Episode 18
Everyone is shocked to see Kousei with Nagi. Especially big brother Takeshi. What is this never seen before pairing? Duh. Things start well till people notice the change in sound. Kousei is trying to steal the spotlight and putting Nagi under tremendous pressure. But she won’t give him and tries to outdo him. Watari uses his handphone as live recording for Kaori to hear. Nagi thinks back of all the hard work and dedicated practice and it is starting to pay off. She remembers she started playing the piano to get her brother’s attention. She wonders if her feelings reached him. At the end of the song, she gets a standing ovation. Kousei wonders if his has reached Kaori. I think so. She’s playing her air violin all the while. At the backstage, angry brother confronts Kousei for being so clingy to Nagi. Takeshi doesn’t like how close they are so Nagi defends Kousei that he has taught her a lot and given her lots of precious experiences. Hey, doesn’t that sound ambiguous? Takeshi is defeated and vows to defeat him at the next competition in December. After all the drama is over, Nagi can heave a sigh of relief and shed those tears she’s been holding back. At the end of the festival, Miike confronts Nagi and is curious to know why she has a close relationship with Kousei. The argument ends with him on the losing end. Yeah Kousei, you’re so famous now everybody wants a piece of you. Later when Kousei visits Kaori, she’s calling him a jerk for making her listen to his music when she can’t even pick up an instrument. Was it his fault? Kousei continues being a heartless jerk because he won’t want to see this end. Instead, he wants another chance to stand with her and perform with him another time. Time for her to dream again. You heartless jerk. You’re making her cry now. But tears of joy.

Episode 19
The doctor is telling the risk to Kaori of undergoing surgery. She’ll do it. When Kousei comes to visit her, she is not in her room. Fearing the worst might have happened, Kaori’s parents bring him to another building where Kaori is undergoing rehabilitation to walk again. They thank him for giving Kaori the resolve to go through it all instead of giving up. Tsubaki must be feeling superior that she got a B for the test that nobody expects. Till Kashiwagi brings her down by deducing it may be love. Tsubaki is worried about Kousei for not studying for the test so Kashiwagi explains that if he is going to be admitted into a music oriented school, his performance and achievement is everything because this upcoming competition is the best place to advertise yourself. Schools would want to take in the best to increase their reputation. Therefore he is trying this best in this do or die competition. So stop being jealous of music and root for him. Tsubaki visits Kousei’s home. It is in a mess since he is busy practising. She plays barber and cuts his hair. On the day of the competition, Kousei is eating his sandwich in the hallway. Emi gives him that stare. Care to join in? Takeshi who is just fresh from vomiting sees this odd scene. Care to join in? And so the 3 strange bedfellows talk about sandwiches… Well, at least it was an ice breaker. It is Takeshi’s turn to play. So while he struts his stuff, we see him narrating his past that he was always bored and tried everything, including playing piano. He met his match when he couldn’t best Kousei or Emi. Then he realized he has looking up to Kousei as his hero or something. At the end of his piece, everyone gives him a standing ovation. Okay, we get it. He has grown a lot. Back stage, they’re like friends but rivals. Even more boggling is how Takeshi warned Kousei not to make a move on Nagi but then wants him to or else people will think she isn’t cute! When all is done, Takeshi says goodbye to his mirage, his hero. Thanks for everything.

Episode 20
When Tsubaki was young and caught a cold, the kids were shocked that this gorilla got sick. But Kousei didn’t think she was a gorilla. She’s a girl. Then there is that flashback whereby Kousei’s mom got rid of Chelsea and Kousei tried looking for it after that. He couldn’t find it so Tsubaki consoled him that he was running around to look for it and couldn’t find it because he was good at hiding things. She promised to stay by his side always. Now that the sky is starting to pour, Kousei and Tsubaki take shelter nearby. She’s reminding him that Kaori is Watari’s boyfriend, blah, blah, blah. In that case, he has no choice but to fall in love with her. My, have you seen Kousei so surprised eyes wide open like that? Then Tsubaki kicks his shin claiming it was just a joke. But why run away so hard in the rain and crying? So it’s really obvious that Tsubaki almost killed Kashiwagi during baseball practice when her bat accidentally slips from her hand and almost to her head when the latter asks if she and Kousei had a fight. Not really. She just kicked his shin. Poor Kousei is more confused about women because if Tsubaki said something like that, was it really a joke? And then he got hammered by Hiroko for not concentrating on his practice. More misery for Kousei about understanding women because despite telling him to come visit her often, now she tells him not to and continue his practice. Then she calls him again just to marvel at a low flying plane. It made him think how she always bombards him with things from a different angle. It makes him want to see her. When he visits the hospital again and bumps into Watari, he tells him that he likes Kaori. Best friend smiles. He knew it for a long time. So do we, like so many episodes ago. But before they can step into Kaori’s room, they see the doctor and nurses in a rush trying to bring Kaori back. Oh sh*t… Gloomy Kousei has no choice but to leave. More trauma for the night as a stray cat becomes a hit and run victim. Kousei rushes it to an animal hospital but it was already beyond saving. He washes himself up at the park. Thoughts of Kaori flow through his mind. I guess he has held in long enough. Time to scream out in despair.

Episode 21
Kaori is now in ICU. Her condition doesn’t look good. Now, if that itself is worrying, Kousei’s depression is going to make things worse. Yup, the way he is sitting all by himself in the dark and not answering calls is making everyone else to worry. You love making people worry about you, don’t you? Even if Hiroko tries to drag him to continue practice for the competition (not because she is cold hearted but perhaps to take his mind off the current situation), he is close to breaking down. Thankfully Kaori’s condition improves so this time Kousei visits her at hospital. Despite she is trying to be cheerful, that guy puts on the biggest gloom face. Need to get smacked? As he bought the chocolates she wanted, she wants him to carry her so that she could eat them outside. She tells him she is going for the surgery which happens to fall on the same date as the competition. As usual, this guy is being gloomy like the end of the world so Kaori uses her ‘magic’ to play her air violin to get through him. So good that it sounds so real! How is that for a miracle? Shortly, she semi-collapses into his arms. She wants to know more about him and is jealous of Tsubaki who does. Then she starts crying of not wanting to be left alone. That opened your eyes, boy? Competition day is here. Takeshi and Emi perform well but can the same be expected from Kousei? Man, he looks depressed still. Like as though he has got a hung over or something. When it is his turn, the moment he sits at the piano. The trauma starts haunting him. Just like déjà vu, huh? And the crowd who was so expecting this guy to strut his stuff fell into disbelieve that he might have caved under pressure. Again. So quiet the hall that you could probably here someone sneeze. Thanks Tsubaki. Even if that is unintentional. This sound wakes up Kousei and he starts realizing all that stuffs, blah, blah, blah and starts playing. And all the ‘experts’ can hear the rich, lively yet mournful colour.

Episode 22
Everyone is watching Kousei. He pays homage to all those who have brought him to where he is now. We get the idea. So for the first half of this finale, we see Kousei play his magnificent piece and he might be so desperate for Kaori to play with him that he starts imagining her playing her violin alongside him while it snows coloured snowdrops. When the song nears its end, he becomes scared to lose her. She’s fading away… At the end of the song, he is in tears and says his goodbye. The next scene is going to stop your heart for a second because we see Kousei at the graves! Kaori’s parents hand him a letter from their daughter addressed to him. So the remainder half of this episode narrates what Kaori wrote. I wonder if she really crammed so many words into a single page… Jokes aside, it starts off with her describing Kousei’s bad habits (why do I feel this is like a standard ice breaker these days) and then how she was entranced the first time he went on stage to play like a genius. That was the catalyst that made Kaori wanted to quit piano and play the violin because she wanted Kousei to play the piano for her. When she found out she went to the same middle school with him, she was elated but didn’t know how to approach him. As he is always with Watari and Tsubaki, it made it hard for her to get in and could only watch him. Her times spent going in and out of hospital increased. One night she caught her parents crying and she knew she had not much time left. That is when she decided to do whatever she wants to leave no regrets. From the way she played her music and how she ate her cakes wholly! Despite all that, she only told one lie: She fell in love with Watari. But that lie would bring her to Kousei. She also wanted to apologize to Tsubaki and didn’t want to leave an awkward mess for someone who is just passing. She knew Tsubaki liked him and didn’t have the guts to ask her straight up to introduce him to her. The rest of the letter briefly describes their time together. At the end, she confesses she loves him. Sorry and thank you. With this, Kousei vows to continue playing piano and won’t forget her. Or else her ghost will come back to haunt him? Lastly, enclosed is a photo she held dear to her heart. A photo of her young self and Kousei passing in the background. I know Tsubaki wants to kick him out of his depression but she literally kicks his shin and scolds him about staying as his guardian angel forever! So get use to it! Sure. Okay. Who else is left anyway?

OVA
A full flashback on our piano prodigy protagonists on how they first met and spurred them to become the greatest piano rivals of all time. So we are all familiar with that scene that Kousei debuted by fumbling with his piano chair that it made Emi fall asleep. But when he starts playing, it serves more than a wakeup call. Oh yeah. She started crying out loud! It got to her so much that she walked out of the hall even before her friend’s turn and then climbed the jungle gym to announce her fate that she will become the greatest piano. In tears. Wow. It’s like she just conquered something. In another competition, Emi thought of talking to Kousei but he is so deep in his score study that he ignores her! Oh wait. I don’t think she even exists. Because Takayanagi and Ochiai love ‘pissing’ each other off, what better way for Takeshi to hang out by sitting with Kousei and Emi. He thinks he has got this in the bag until Kousei’s perfect performance proves him wrong. Takeshi practises the same piece as instructed by Takayanagi but couldn’t get it right. Feeling bored? He decides to go spy on Kousei at his home and stalking from outside, he actually sat there the whole day hearing Kousei play the same piece over and over again. This gives Takeshi renewed determination to practice harder. However it is always Kousei grabbing first place and Takeshi second. Then in one competition, Emi’s performance blew Takeshi away. She even called him the fake Kousei! It affected him so bad that he barely made the top 10. Takeshi is set in disciplining himself to become the best pianist. This means giving up football or hanging out with his friends. But when he sees Kousei jumping off the Bridge of Bravery with his friends and putting on a smile he never sees before, screw this, Takeshi is going to do what he wants and play some football. Emi is also having it hard against Kousei. She thought choosing the same piece as Kousei would beat him but she was off. Now she doesn’t care about winning or losing. She just wants Kousei to come back. Yeah. At this point that kid is like a robot. She practises so hard that her hands start to hurt. But being unable to play the piano for a while taught her a valuable lesson: She loves playing the piano. She is motivated to get back to besting Kousei once she can play again. Speaking of which, Kousei is happy today because her mom is coming to watch…

Your Melodrama All Year Round
Perhaps I am not made for this kind of genres. At first it started out interesting because of the 2 contrasting characters Kousei and Kaori have and how it brings everything together especially for Kousei. And then it started to get draggy… Because I felt the entire series was just one big long dragged out drama about Kousei trying to come to terms his weakness and then overcoming it. Especially in the first half where they spam his trauma each time he takes to the piano. I was like going, “Oh no. Here we go again. Here he goes again”. And then also, “Oh no. Not that underwater scene and Kousei complaining about the sound he can’t hear”. Not forgetting, “Oh no. He is seeing visions of dead mom again. Time for more trauma again”. So traumatic that this kid is really sweating it out when he plays. Yeah, he could lose a few pounds. Haha! It’s already a tough piece but it gets tougher with his trauma.

Please do not get me wrong here. This series isn’t bad. But I can’t help noticed myself trying to focus on the drama that is going on. That is why I said I was perhaps not made to sit and watch through this kind of genre. It only took the last episode’s shock to suddenly get me sitting up again. I never expected Kaoru to die! Even when she collapsed and her frail conditions getting worse, signs that tell that she was never going to make it, I was still in my daydreaming land because I was actually sure that they’re going to end this on a feel good note and thus a boring ending. Boy, was I surprised. Maybe fans of who have read the manga which has concluded shortly before the TV series ended, would have expected what is to come. But certainly it was a shocker to me. The series has ended and I am left in disbelief that such a cute girl is gone. Life is so unfair!!!

Now, a lot of viewers love the deep drama and romance that are being displayed between Kousei and Kaori. It could be the best in this genre for the past few seasons. That is the main draw and strength of this show. Unfortunately for a dumb guy like me, all I ever saw was a long draggy relationship between them that didn’t go anywhere and the only real confession was via letter and after Kaori’s dead. A relationship that didn’t go anywhere? I know you think I must be kidding, right? Perhaps I’m the kind of guy who is just too dense to take the hint. I can tell that there is some sort of romance building up as we see Kousei and Kaori hanging out more often (or towards the end, like how the saying goes, absence makes the heart grows fonder) but I am the kind of guy that you need to tell every inch of the detail to my face to understand. So while everybody else was touched by the subtle deep romance between them, here I am thinking it is just an annoying friendship prolonged and official-couple-status-delayed to bits. Still thinking just like Kousei that he is just Friend A and in the friend zone. I was waiting for either one of them to just say it to the other’s face those 3 magical words and maybe a big romantic kiss. Well, that kind of expectation would be just boring and predictable, eh?

And come to think of it, that one little thing that has been hindering our main characters to fall in love with each other right from the start: Kaori’s little lie! Such a big hint in the title that I couldn’t even see. It was her lie that she loved Watari that continuously made Kousei remain as Friend A. It was her lie that made Kaori in an awkward position to not pursue Kousei because that would be like serious cheating case, wouldn’t it? Watari is different. He is a playboy (even though he got dumped by whoever his girlfriend was in the end – but I don’t think he really cares). Guys have it different than girls. When they flirt with many girls, they’re a legend. Girls dating just another guy would already be called a slut. Wouldn’t want that kind of reputation, do you? But I think a main reason why Kousei took a very long time before he realizes he is in love: Because the girls just keep giving confusing and contradicting signals! Tsubaki is the main offender followed by Kaori. You always noticed that they till him one thing and then another thing. Do this but then again don’t. Make up your mind! It’s so confusing already that no wonder this guy just couldn’t understand. It might add to his trauma if it got out of hand. Yeah, understanding piano scores are easier.

Aside from Kaori, how come do I have a feeling that the rest of the girls that have interest in Kousei are somewhat tsundere. All of them. Take Tsubaki’s case for instance. Tomboy girl treats him ‘badly’ but it’s her way of showing her love. The pseudo and short-lived relationship with Saitou feels like a side distraction and a catalyst and turning point (when she gets dumped) to make her realize who the true guy she loves. Still won’t really admit it. See? Tsundere, no? Then there is Nagi who had buranko initially but as she became Kousei’s student, she becomes torn between her love for her teacher or her brother. So that’s like being tsundere to Kousei, no? What about Emi who wants to reach Kousei with her emotional style of playing? Trying to hint something? Well, I’m sure it got to him whatever it is. And by using her music to tell instead of her expressionless poker face, that’s like tsundere, no? Hah. Maybe I got confused to what tsundere means now.

The characters play a great role in driving the plot, drama and characterization of the series. Especially with Kousei and Kaori in the limelight with the rest of the supporting casts. A big part of the drama sees how Kousei breaks out from the shell that he has encased himself with. He can’t do it by himself and that is where Kaori came in with all that persistent pestering till he could finally fly with his own wings again. So is Kaori like his saviour angel? That is one way to look at it. At least with the trauma that he has been through, it proves that Kousei is just only human. Perhaps only a robot when it comes to music. But even that and especially on his return, he isn’t entirely perfect as we see him being nervous and all.

On the other hand, while it may seem that Kousei is the one big jerk who is having problems that seemingly nobody would understand, it isn’t only him who is having such worldly issues. Kaori’s crisis outweighs Kousei’s by a star. Sure, Kousei might be traumatized as kid and you can’t blame him for breaking down because he is just a kid. But when you see Kaori, after realizing the conditions that she’s in, never having said a word about it or even making it known to others, you have to be amazed at that kind of courage. You’d respect the way she does things so free spiritedly. That is why even despite the sad end to her case, because she did things her way without regrets, all is not lost. You can say that she won even though the only thing she lost was her life. She gives us the greatest lessons in life to live it to the fullest because if you don’t, what is the point of living then? Therefore if you can’t do something because of some obstacle, then you should find other means or a way around it to do so. You know, like if you can’t use your hands to play, use your feet! No feet, use your teeth! No instrument? Use your imagination for air instrument!

I can’t help think that Kousei must be a cursed person when it comes to love. Because if you noticed, the things he truly loves will all end up dead! First it was Chelsea his cat and then followed by Saki his mom. And finally after he thought he has gotten free from his trauma and found true love again, this damn sh*t happens again! Oh Lord, oh God, why do you have to take Kaori away from him now?! Why, oh why???!!! If you’re thinking why Tsubaki didn’t get this curse it is because that guy never saw her more than a childhood friend. You can’t blame him since Tsubaki is sending confused signals about her heart and the way she physically takes out on him. No girlfriend would ever do something like that to their boyfriend, right? Okay, maybe some would but the point is, Kousei didn’t see Tsubaki as a woman enough to fall in love and thus avoiding this curse. But wait! Now that Kaori is gone, who is there left to love? Oh dear… Oh my… TSUBAKI!!! NO!!!!!

Other supporting characters feel fine and have their role to play in pushing Kousei to where he is now no matter how small. Like you know, Tsubaki. Feels like her reason of wanting Kousei to get back into music again to move on feels like a cover up in her attempts to get him to notice her. Kashiwagi is probably the best side character in the series. Her poker face is worst than Emi as she tends to be straight to your face about her opinions especially when it comes to feelings of the heart for Tsubaki. Can’t blame her for putting on that expression. She must be annoyed to death seeing how irritating Tsubaki is not being true to her feelings. That is why she always makes it a point to say it straight to their faces without beating around the bush. Watari feels like sidelined but because of him, Kousei and Kaori couldn’t properly advance their relationship! And all the while we forgot about this guy (although he sleeps through concerts and instantly wakes up whenever it is Kaori’s turn on stage to become a cheering machine) because we start thinking since there is no real progress in Watari-Kaori relationship, I guess it is dusted and done and we start assuming it is Kousei-Kaori even though it was unofficial.

I thought Takeshi and Emi throughout the entire series didn’t do much except giving us some sort of variety that it shouldn’t always be Kousei and Kaori on stage. Aside from being rivals that push each other to the limits, I guess they’re pretty okay in that sense. I guess Hiroko’s return and role is so that Kousei won’t stray again and somebody to straighten him up if Tsubaki isn’t there. Why do people have to get rough on him? But thanks to that discipline, he has drawn in a lot of fans. Young fans like Nagi and Miike. Will that admiration turn into something more in the future? Let’s hope it will inspire the new and younger generations to greater heights. Finally, Saki who has been vindicated as the ‘villain’ of the series thanks to her tough uncompromising and seemingly selfish dying wish. But could all that negative view just be in Kousei’s mind as how he remembers her? Eventually when the truth comes to light, Saki isn’t a bad person himself and just like every mother in the world, loves and wants what is best for her child. So don’t go blame and hate your mom when she gets strict on you about piano or violin lessons. She loves you! Saki is both the reason why Kousei stunted and then nurture and rise again. All thanks to you, mom! Of course the rest like Kaori were there to push him but the source of it all can be traced back to Saki.

Naturally as a music genre, many of the classical compositions are the main draw in making the entire series work. Although I am not familiar with all the pieces and some of the classical composers, nevertheless they are excellent to hear. My only grumble is that instead of letting me close my eyes and enjoy listening to the music, they add monologues or the characters’ thoughts as they narrate it all while they play the piece. Oh come on! I want to listen to the true beauty of the piece! I know. Shows of this genre tend to be like that. You need that kind of drama of self realization or awakening or whatever while you play the beautiful piece. Music calms the soul, huh? True. The way Kaori ‘desecrates’ them with her own style, it is also fun to hear because seriously, it sounded so authentic that I think it is the original even though I have not heard the original before. And I can’t close my eyes while hearing the piece too for there may be some sort of ‘important’ scene while they play and I might miss it. Good for me. Keep them wide open and see all the drama that goes with it. I’m sure you’re going to tell me that if I really want to hear the original piece, just put in a CD and listen to it! Or download it from the internet like the trend these days. Yeah… Sure… But I’m not really into classical music so I’ll pass… God…

Other than the classical music, the opening and ending themes are more like anime music. Like the first opening theme, Hikaru Nara by Goose House also sounds more like a group song. Okay, passable but not that appealing. Same case for the second opener, Nanairo Symphony by Coala Mode, a moderate pop piece. My favourite one and personally the best of all the themes is the first ending theme, Kirameki by Wacci. Although not a slow ballad, somehow it draws out a lot of emotional and feel good factor in just hearing it. I like this song better and wished they didn’t change to the second ending theme, Orange sung by 7 (yes, this group is just a number! Literally) in which the dramatic style didn’t really appeal to me.

Voice acting is pretty decent seeing that this anime is heavy on the drama side. Those I recognized are Yuuki Kaji as Takeshi, Saori Hayami as Emi and Ayane Sakura as Tsubaki (I don’t know why I kept believing it was Kanae Ito’s voice behind it although I clearly know it wasn’t her but that bratty specialist). Even more delightful is hearing Mamiko Noto as Saki!!! Might just be cameo but I guess that is enough to make my day. Something about her character role that has started to bug me as I am seeing a trend of the characters she is being casted. Recently the animes that I have watched her playing minor roles… HOW COME HER CHARACTER DIES???!!! Sheele from Akame Ga Kill, Lisette in Unbreakable Machine Doll, Valkyria in Gokukoku No Brynhildr, Orlain in Aldnoah.Zero… OMG! I hope they’re not casting her as a stereotype of characters to be killed off roles! NO WAY! The rest of the casts include Natsuki Hanae as Kousei (Inaho in Aldnoah.Zero), Risa Taneda as Kaori (Yukina in Strike The Blood), Ryota Ohsaka as Watari (Marco in Shingeki No Kyojin), Ai Kayano as Nagi (Mei in Sukitte Iinayo), Mie Sonozaki as Hiroko (Viola/Violet in One Piece), Yuka Terasaki as Miike (Basil in Kateikyoushi Hitman Reborn) and Shizuka Ishigami as Kashiwagi (Ellis in Seirei Tsukai No Blade Dance).

Art and drawing are rather okay. The characters look pretty okay but something about them that looks a bit different. I can’t put my finger on it. Is it their eyes and lips? I think it is mainly the lips somehow… Of course, most outrageous character design award goes to Takeshi, the Super Saiyan of this anime! The main characters during their younger years, if I should say some of them look a bit weird. Especially Kaori who is looking so cartoonish that she is barely recognizable. And when she grows up to be such a beautiful tween, it would make every guy’s jaw drop at this unbelievable transformation. Just stunning. Sometimes the background sceneries are cool to watch like the scattering sakura petals or even the sandy beaches. Of course the instruments themselves do look gorgeous especially the grand piano and I think some of the finger movements especially on the close up during the piano play is CG employed. Because it looks to smooth to be hand drawn animation. Nevertheless such visuals are still stunning to look at.

Overall, if you like deep romance that takes time to develop between the main characters, this one is for you. Classical music is an added bonus. Despite the tragic and sad end, you will still generally feel enjoyable once everything settles down. At least this series depicts a more realistic and down to earth portrayal of musically gifted tweens who are still human enough to fall in love. Who says music prodigies and geniuses can’t find love. Under all that beautiful finger work and wonderful sound produced, they are just humans like you and me. So when musicians fall in love with each other, what kind of sound do they produce? I don’t know but I’m sure that would be the sound of love! Because I’m sure music don’t lie.

When you are at the age of a high school student but already a skilled marksman, a top notched assassin and first rate all-rounder agent, this means you must have spent your childhood years in hell training to become the best. I guess that you are only human to have emotions eventually and yearn to long the ‘normal life’. Heck, can such people ever experience the normal daily lives that normal ordinary people do? I don’t know. But this kid in Grisaia No Kajitsu asked for it and he got it. Well, almost. He is transferred to a heavily surveillance high school that has only 5 other students. All of them girls. Woah! Harem setting… So do the girls have to submit to him or risk being taken out if his whims and fancies are not met? Hey, that’s not normal! Don’t worry. That will not happen. Instead, each of the girls has their own ghost of the past and issues that sooner or later, our hero will have to deal with. That’s normal, right?

Episode 1
Yuuji Kazami is being interrogated by the police who doesn’t believe about his family history (they’re all dead) and think he is a terrorist (because he refused to have his luggage checked). But a call from some government higher up has them apologize and release him. Chizuru Tachibana then picks him up as they head over to Mihama Academy. Chizuru is also the principal and only teacher of this school as Yuuji is going to live his ‘normal high school life’ here. Including him, there are only 6 students. Gee, it’s like a ghost school. Such a big place with lots of amenities and yet only 6 students? He meets the first student, Sachi Komine dressed in a maid outfit (she even has an explanation why she is dressed so. But who cares, I dig it!). Yuuji prepares for his ‘normal’ life. Before he heads to his first class, a couple of girls bump into him. Amane Suou is trying to brush the hair of Makina Irisu? They notice Yuuji and introduce themselves although Makina is a little shy. He arrives early in class to see Michiru Matsushima practising her tsundere lines alone. When spotted, she tries to act like a tsundere (which I think it’s her original personality too) but it sounded like Yuuji is having fun teasing her. As Chizuru enters class, she notices Yumiko Sakaki missing as usual. After class has way ended, Yuuji returns to it to see Yumiko there reading her book. Seems he wants to introduce himself since they’re going to be classmates. Her reaction? She takes out her cutter and is really going to cut him but Yuuji is fast enough to grab her hand. Nice to meet you. When he returns to his room, he notices somebody has intruded it as the trap he set has been broken. Surprise, Amane is changing in his room! Yuuji doesn’t remember he ordered a stripper! Amane explains she changes here since it is faster and there is a fridge here she always uses. Amane can tell that Yuuji had some experience with older women the way he interacted with her. Well, he had an older sister. She died. Oops. Amane tries to flirt with him and upon seeing his military-like rations, she wants to become his big sister and cook better meals for him. After she leaves, Yuuji is stumped on how she got in. The room was locked. Did she pick it? Or did she have a spare key? Answer: She had a pick. In the closing scenes, we see some traumatic flashes that are too early to conclude. The other girls seem to be preparing something that would make you think they have terrorists background. Yumiko will never accept Yuuji. He gets a call for a job as he pulls out his briefcase underneath his bed.

Episode 2
Once again, Yumiko tries to sneak up and cut Yuuji! Too bad his reflexes are damn good. In class, Amane is talking to Yuuji. It would have been an ordinary talk if not for the fact she is caressing her legs with hers underneath the table… When Yuuji goes to read in the garden, he notices Makina sleeping. Then she wakes up unaware that he is nearby and makes her way. He follows her to a pond whereby she tries to feed a crayfish to fatten it up for future consumption! His calling startles her as he teaches her some basic stuffs about crayfish. She is impressed and happy to learn something. Meanwhile, Yumiko is watching and she has spent all the resources she has to find out who this guy is. The more she finds, the more conflicted the data becomes and the less she knows. Her guts tell her he is no ordinary human. Heck, she once complained to Chizuru of accepting the first boy in this school and warns of all the girls being rape victims! But Chizuru assured that will never happen. Yumiko continues to try and cut Yuuji but to no avail. She even got into an embarrassing situation thanks to that. Yuuji talks to Chizuru about Yumiko but is being told he needs to solve this himself. Trying to wash her hands off? Yuuji is also worried about himself because each time he looked at his reflection and see a smile, he becomes afraid of what he is becoming. Chizuru assures the other girls also said the same thing when they arrived (they too have their special circumstances) and he’ll get used to it.

As Yuuji, Amane and Makina head to class, there is this pretty blonde outside waving to Yuuji. He is not impressed that Julia Bardera AKA JB is here and might jeopardize his position. She too isn’t impressed that he walked all the way here instead of taking the train (that’s why he got stopped by the police) and that she got an earful from the higher ups. When he returns to class, all the girls are interested to know who that babe was. His guarantor and to put it simply, his employer who makes him do dirty jobs. They think they are in the janitorial department. Before Yuuji retires to his room, Yumiko once again tries to cut him. Caught again. But this time his strong grip and scary stare actually make her scared! He tells her to stop wasting her time and promises will never hurt her. She wants to ask his weakness but he won’t tell. They start arguing what they should call each other since he suggests they start out as friends. Yumiko remembers doing some clean up with the girls. As she was the first one here, she watched how the other girls arrive one by one. Amane came like a biker girl, Michiru in her luxury limo, Makina in a big truck and lastly Sachi on a bicycle. She might look normal but the first words upon her arrival: “Everyone kneel before me and lick my shoes!”. Said with a smile.

Episode 3
When Yuuji returns from jogging, he sees Amane picking his door lock. Is she trying to assassinate him? Spying from behind, he wonders if she is playing dumb because she is thinking of giving him a morning kiss. Then she starts smelling his shirt and jumps on his bed. She starts fantasizing something horny with Yuuji and… MASTURBATES!!! Amane becomes embarrassed when she realizes Yuuji was there. Well, at least she came to her senses before she started f*cking his pillow, right? Oh sh*t! Then there is this jogging tune he teaches Makina about Amane’s perversion… WTF?! Makina seems close to Yuuji to the point she is acting out her badass gangster character. Yuuji might think he has discovered another pervert because the way Michiru is saying such ambiguous words and those moaning in broad daylight in the garden would make anyone think so. Turns out a kitten followed her and is now attached to her. Since she can’t keep it in the dorm, she has Yuuji help her drive it away. I have a feeling he is fooling around with her as she does exactly what he says by flinging her twintails (all of them have names given by him?!). The kitten gets even more attached. Plan failed. But the kitten soon walks away by itself. Later in the corridor, for reasons unknown, Yuuji thinks he is in sh*t because he agreed to something to Sachi that he didn’t remember at all! How did he end up agreeing to let Sachi make a shark pouch for him?

It all began when Michiru’s shark pouch is accidentally torn. Wanting Sachi to fix it, the girls start talking. Yuuji went into autopilot mode knowing that girls will start talking a long time. Plus, he was derived of sleep. So whatever Sachi asked and said, he gave periodic yes and acknowledgement without understanding what she said. By the time he woke up, he is going to have a shark pouch soon. He calls Sachi and wants her to discontinue the production. But it’s halfway done. He thinks of making her do a bush dog pouch instead to buy time but it seems Sachi can do one in 20 minutes! Yuuji is left frustrated and banging the wall. Note to self: Sleep is important! When Makina comes by and Sachi just finished the pouch, Michiru takes it and gives it to Makina. She likes it and wants more. Yuuji gives it to her. Saved. Now the duo can go talk about bush dog pouches for all he cares. Later when Amane sprains her ankle, Yuuji takes her to the infirmary. She doesn’t want to be left alone and gets straight to the point. Be her boyfriend. No, he didn’t hear that wrong. She fell in love with him at first sight but he is not amused and thinks she is teasing him. In that case, why not she be his big sister? He isn’t hiring one. But since she insists, he agrees to play along. Now he has to eat big portions of food she made for him. He feels suffocated not because of the food but his overall life. He realizes it. When his master died, he tried to live life without getting involved with others. He wonders if he has the right to have such little happiness.

Episode 4
Yuuji sees Michiru at the cliff. Just trying to look at the ocean or is it because of the cat? Michiru then talks strangely about how she feels trapped in a box and has this fear of looking at the moon. She also asks a strange question of what happens when people die. Yuuji tries to explain the best he can. It is like falling asleep and not waking up. Yuuji is talking with the girls about Michiru’s possible different personalities. Yeah well, Makina and Sachi may have seen too many alien movies to think she might be one. As everyone retires to their room, a blackout occurs. Yuuji sees Yumiko scared in the dark and also a strange scream from Michiru’s room. As they hide, they see Michiru coming out in her swimsuit, walking like a zombie and her hair is covered with I don’t know what. When the lights come back on, Sachi explains whenever this happens, she has a hard time cleaning up because of some interpretive dance that has her secrete some liquid. That liquid could be hair bleach? Next day, Michiru is acting strange. Yuuji follows her and sees her writhing in pain at the park. Though, she brushes him off she doesn’t need his help and goes away. Of course he can’t leave her alone and finds her sitting at the cliff with the cat. This Michiru sounds different. She is calm and composed. She assures her health is better now and talks about that death definition he told her. She is confused if you slept that night like as though you are dead, what happens if you wake up tomorrow morning? But since she is not interested in this topic, she changes it and asks something more interesting. Does he have a lover and what is it like to kiss? His simple explanation sounds a bit scientific. She wants to try it out and he gives the green light. But even after kissing him, she still doesn’t understand. Then when she says see you later, her character changes back to the familiar tsundere we know. She flusters upon knowing how close they are, trips and got her hand stuck on dog poop! When she asks if she said something weird, he sarcastically puts it that everything she said has always been weird.

In class, Michiru is teasing Yumiko’s habit of reading and challenges her to ‘fight’. She takes out her cutter… Still not scared? Well, Yumiko flicked her forehead and that was the end of it. Michiru ‘complains’ to Yuuji who isn’t really listening. She then tries to bug him about what she did to him then. She tries to act like she knows it all especially about the meaning of the word oscillation. Since she is insisting so badly, he will demonstrate what she did to him. As his lips closes in, she flusters, pushes him back and runs away. Outside school, she tries to calm down by taking some pills. Later she baked some cookies for the cat but couldn’t find it. With Yuuji’s help, they go search for it but to no avail. He thinks since it is a stray, it will come back when it is hungry. As they head back to school, Yuuji spots something amiss on the road. The cat has been run over and became road kill! Bloody! Michiru is in shock seeing this and becomes panicky. Yuuji has a hard time calming her down as he hails a taxi. He knows the cat has not much time left. Michiru tries to look positive and that everything is going to be alright. But when the cat vomits blood on your hands instead of eating the cookies, that’s a big sign. She really doesn’t want it to leave her alone. But there is nothing more she can do but cry.

Episode 5
Yuuji finds Michiru collapsed with her room as she has taken some pills. Thanks to Chizuru’s help, she lives. She seems back to normal again but Yuuji knows it is the other Michiru. She says the real Michiru won’t return again and has fallen into darkness. Later Sachi hands over a box from Michiru to Yuuji. She wanted to open it with a chainsaw but was in a dilemma about breaking other people’s property. Yuuji later confronts Michiru again about the diary she writes to her other self in the box. Seems Michiru’s split personality was gained from a heart transplant. She reveals she tried to talk her out of death but since this is her body, she can do what she wants. Yuuji deduces if Michiru never comes back, she is free to live her life. Although that is what she wants but she wants to honour her wish. But Yuuji wants to hear from that Michiru himself and forces down those pills that she downs to suppress her other self, believing that Michiru will come out. He tells her to tell him what she wants and he’ll do anything to help. Guess what? She wants to die. If she’s going to lose everything again, might as well die. In that case, he’ll kill her. Next thing she knows, she is being buried alive inside a coffin! Don’t worry. It’s that cliff place she loves. She can die a slow death in this world she wants. Michiru remembers her strict piano teacher. Always abused just for getting a part wrong?! In school, she wanted to go kill herself by jumping off the roof but a girl beat her to it! She screamed the unfairness and this made her stop. Ironically they become good friends but soon that when she finally decided to kill herself for real. Michiru fell into shock after that because if they were best friends, shouldn’t they die together? Due to her weak heart, she was soon sent to America to do a heart transplant. Now her friend is living inside her?

Suddenly Michiru doesn’t want to die. She feels scared. But she sees her other self who tells her that she wanted to live but her life was cut short. So why is she throwing her life away? As Michiru recovered from her transplant, she realized she was a lost cause and decided to become a joker or tsundere, a personality that wasn’t her and convenient to others to keep her emotions suppressed. She didn’t need an identity. Her friend wants to spend eternity together but Michiru apologizes that she can’t. She is already dead and that she needs to move on. She can’t live in the past forever. Michiru summons all her strength to break through the coffin lid. Hmm… Yuuji hasn’t covered the hole? She is weak but wants to see everyone. That is when Yuuji helps her out. He thought she was pretty quick to u-turn her death wish. It has been 3 days since. 3 FREAKING DAYS???!!! He knew she didn’t want to die and waited for her to break out. He never thought she would decide to die. There was no plan B. Once confirmed that she is alive, she gives him a big hug. He reveals the pill he gave her was just ordinary candy. This means she came out because she didn’t really want to die. Michiru wanted to confess she loves him but turns into back a tsundere. More surprise in store for her as Yuuji drives her all the way to let her see her parents! I’m sure he has Chizuru to thank for with her connections and he has to pay her double the next time on his job. So happy that Michiru breaks down in her gratitude. Ever since, the other Michiru never came back although Yuuji notices she does come out in a while. He believes they are coexisting well. Yuuji and Michiru pray at the cat’s grave at the cliff.

Episode 6
Flashback shows Yumiko’s friends badmouthing her so she cuts one of their hands with a cutter! The CEO of Tohin Group is talking to JB of preparing Yumiko to take over the company’s position and thinks of letting her people give her a taste of fear. Yumiko doesn’t like Yuuji following her around but it seems he has been commissioned by JB to act as her bodyguard. Not to just guard her but to get beaten up if she ever gets attacked. While she is drawing at the river bank, it suddenly rains and they’re surrounded by MIBs. Since they’re not playing nice, Yuuji isn’t going to and attacks them. As they take refuge, the lightning causes Yumiko to be really scared as she clings on to him. She reveals her story. Dad married mom in hopes to bear a son as heir for the company. Unfortunately she was born. As mom’s body was weak, she couldn’t bear another child. She was condemned by everyone and became ill and sick in mind due to it. Because of their status, they have her confined to hospital but abandoned her eventually. Yumiko continued to visit her despite okay not having friends. But one day mother said this that broke her heart: Had she only been born a boy. She became very sad. Soon, dad’s mistress bore him a son and this causes mom to go crazy and commit suicide. The son died shortly due to some illness. Father then came back to claim her like as though nothing happened just so she can inherit the company. She was scrutinized by the public and couldn’t have friends. After slashing a classmate, father created Mihama Academy to hide her away and cool down. Being the heir is the only value she has but something she didn’t earn. She so happened to be born with them. Yuuji calls her story boring and although understands why she wants to be alone, this has nothing to do with him.

Father is not pleased that Yuuji fought back and threatens Chizuru to expel Yuuji or he’ll send Yumiko to study abroad. Once Yumiko learns of this, she locks herself in her room. Father and his men come to get her but Yuuji stands in his way. But the best line goes to Michiru who tells the big shot to go away since he is so busy so don’t waste his time here. Then Yumiko pops up and fires a warning shot! She bought that gun online. It’s like a hostage crisis with the entire SWAT barricading outside! Father tries to convince her he did everything for her but Yumiko isn’t buying all that crap. They were alone and he did nothing that was in her interest. Father won’t stand her insolence and walks towards her, braving her warning shots. He gets shot in the shoulder. He won’t let selfishness ruin the family and company. When she has run out of bullets, the SWAT thinks they can barge in but she has a grenade! Bought that online too? They never understood each other and needs to cut off their relationship. Think of it as she never existed. She lets go the pin and boom! Father cries his heart out seeing Yumiko has died. He’s really sad. No kidding. In the aftermath as he prays at her grave, Yuuji wonders why he kept the academy going. He saw a letter from Yumiko to remain at it is. It was her first and last request. Father feels grateful to Yumiko she put her life on the line to teach him something that he will be thinking for the rest of his life. After he goes, we see Yumiko still alive and heard everything he said behind a tree. Although she still hates being born into the family, she is happier to be born to her parents. Goodbye, father. Yuuji talks to JB and it seems all the men were in cohorts planning this. Although Yumiko’s first shot was real, the rest were duds. Yuuji sniped and hit away Yumiko’s bullet that hit dad. It was his bullet that hit his shoulder! WOW! SO AMAZING! And of course, the corpse was actually fake and planted. Yumiko wonders the real Yuuji although he says he is just a normal student. He can tell she has changed now. She is more attractive. Yeah. Nice smile too.

Episode 7
Sachi notices that despite Michiru being her usual silly, that level has reached new heights. Yumiko too. But their silliness seems to be cheerful, like as though they are free from some burden. Even Amane and Makina have gotten closer to Yuuji. Ever since he came, they changed. It must be Yuuji’s doing somehow. After Sachi temporarily gets sick for staying in the hot bath for too long, Yuuji takes leave from class to visit some town. Michiru is not pleased that an upcoming test is announced so she hopes Sachi could get rid of tests. Oh dear… Be careful of what you say since this girl will take on your request and complete it. She accepts the task and ever since has been holing up in her room. Amane talks to Yuuji about this and everyone is worried she is acting strange since the bath incident. Yumiko asks if he has heard about a girl who blew up the school to avoid taking a test. If he hasn’t, she’ll stop right now. Yuuji assures he’ll do all he can so that harm will not come to Sachi and the girls. Days leading up to the test, we see Sachi burning the midnight oil doing her research in how to make bombs! I don’t even know how she got lots of gas tanks in her room. And she’s psyching herself to be a good girl… On the night before the test, she places all the bombs around the school. She sets the timer but then the rest of the girls come into class. They claim Yuuji called them here. Sachi gets worried and tells them to leave quickly. Time is running out. They think she is really acting weird this time. Due to Michiru’s clumsiness, a bomb rolls out from the desk although they didn’t see it. Sachi grabs it moments it is due to explode. It didn’t. Yuuji then comes here just to inform that they are here to check about the tightening of school rules before summer vacation. And since everyone is here, that’s great. Now return to your rooms. Except for Sachi whom he wants to talk to. She was so scared that she wet her pants. But why didn’t the bombs go off? Yuuji has tampered with it to freeze when it reaches zero. Wait. How did he even…

Yuuji remembers Sachi. He first met her when they were young at that town’s park. He went there to ask around about her and luckily her uncle does. Sachi relates her story. Her parents were very proud to have Sachi as their daughter and loved her very much. But they got too busy to spend time with her so she often spent time to forget that loneliness at the park by spending time with him. On her 10th birthday, they decided to spend the entire day with her but she was not happy. It was like they’re trying to make up for all the neglected times. She ran away to the park but soon regretted it. She rushes back to them when she heard them calling. I thought this part was unbelievable. Because who would ever stop right in the middle of the road to greet their child?! Surely they got run over by a truck! Father died and mother went into coma. She felt that accident happened because of her selfishness. That is why she needs to be a good girl. Yuuji mentions thanks to her, he also remembered something about his time in that town. He was having problems with his family but she distracted him with her selfish whims. He is sure her parents were torn between work and her and eventually realized spending time with her is more important. It wasn’t her being selfish but what they wished for. A child’s whims are sometimes a cause for joy. And since she saved him, he is also indebted to her and prepared to repay her kindness. Yuuji is going to detonate the bombs to cover the evidence. Wouldn’t it cause some commotion? After he sets them off, the fireworks in the background provides a great distraction and cover up. Yuuji takes Sachi back to her home. She is sure mom still hates her but there are letters wishing her happiness and thanks for being their child. Sachi will try to visit her mom in hospital more often. Her recovery signs are very slow but for sure. Sachi has a selfish request she wants of Yuuji: Hug her a minute. That will be more than enough.

Episode 8
Makina suddenly wants an upgrade! She wants Yuuji to become her father! She is buying him for 70 million Yen! Wow! An amount he can’t refuse? Talking to JB, he is keeping that amount for safekeeping and since they’re not getting married, JB won’t press further. However she tells him her family have been politicians for generations and Makina is the eldest head of the family. Her father was the accountant of the Defence Ministry but died a few years ago in an accident. He wants more information and although JB doesn’t like it, she’ll see what she can do. What kind of daughter head butts her father in the guts and then kisses him like a lover?! Holy sh*t! That’s Makina for you. Chizuru informs Yuuji more about Makina’s family. The women are the one holding real power in the family. There was some corrupt politics. Makina’s dad stumbled upon some information and tried to inform the Cabinet but an unfortunate incident resulted. It was Makina’s kidnapping. Following that, she was diagnosed with some mental illness and cut off as the family heir. Her little sister, Sarina replaced her. However Yuuji finds an information odd. He was sure Makina was the only child. Since he is her father now, Yuuji imposes military training on Makina! Well, she’s accepting it. For the summer holidays, Makina wonders if Yuuji is going back to his hometown. He doesn’t have but he is going to visit the grave of his master, Asako Kusakabe in Yamanashi.

As they make their way there, Yuuji describes about Asako. He first met her 5 or 6 years ago. Every family member had died and he was taken in by his father’s acquaintance. However he turned out to be a villain. That is when Asako turned up and saved him. He continued to live and train under her and ended up going to America because of her work. Without her, he would have been dead a long time ago. She gave him a reason to live or at least a reason not to die. Unfortunately she died before he could repay his debt. At the grave, Yuuji introduces his ‘daughter’. Makina happened to spot Sarina and her MIBs shopping in the street. She remembers Sarina’s father was a stranger to her and that this little sister was never told about Makina’s existence. After Makina walks past her, a bomb detonates the car Sarina just got in. Makina is fine and put to bed back at the dorm. Yumiko has got little information that Sarina was the target and Makina just happened to be there by coincidence. He should find out what is happening in her family. Once Makina wakes up, Yuuji informs her Sarina is alive but in hospital. He assures he will protect her and will not leave her behind. Shortly, he gets a call from JB to come to HQ. There, her secretary, Chiara Farrell seems to be interested with Yuuji and tries to flirt with him but was made to leave. JB has a job for him although Yuuji reminds her he can’t kill anyone right now, the reason why he went into reserves. But as he takes a look at the file, he is shocked to see Makina’s information. This is his target.

Episode 9
Makina still has nightmares of her father being killed before her eyes. When he came with a ransom, he was shot and told that the one who set him up is no other than his wife. Makina spent several days next to her father’s corpse… It seems Yuuji has taken Makina and are now on the run. JB’s operation team is on the hunt but it is not easy facing Yuuji. Flashback reveals Yuuji didn’t want to accept this mission but was told he would be taken into custody. So he lied he accepted the job. He then told the other girls that Makina’s life is in danger and they needed to go into hiding for a while. They wished goodbye, Michiru ‘lending’ 2000 Yen and Sachi giving Makina an apple sapling. She is told once the fruit blooms, everything will be over. A sign of hope. Of course JB meets up with Yuuji to tell his foolishness if he can shake off the Irisu family by running away like that. She explains they are afraid of Makina because of her super memory. Apparently Makina memorized all her father’s documents on the family’s corruption and they believed Makina was supposed to be suffering from some sort of illness and started worrying when they hear she is recovering. Last night, Makina called her mom, Kiyoka to cut a deal and threatened to expose her dirty past if her sister’s safety is not guaranteed. Because of that, she is being targeted. However Yuuji will protect her and is ready to die for that. He dares everyone to come and kill him. Because he too will not hesitate to kill. Yuuji isn’t just a sitting duck hiding. He makes mock calls because he knows he is being wired just to test their response time. Just when the rented place they are hiding is discovered, the units all move in. And you should know by now that Yuuji isn’t going to play fair either. The room is then filled with gas from pesticides. This confuses the heat signal. Where are they hiding? In the freezer! Those SWAT guys should have also known better not to simply pick up suspicious stuffs. Because when they do, the room explodes! Yuuji and Makina make their escape by hijacking a supply van which is not tagged with GPS. They ditch it after securing a safe distance.

Makina realizes she forgot to bring the sapling with her. Although Yuuji told her to forget about it, while he was out taking care of those agents, he returns only to find her missing. She is back at that place looking for it. Well, it’s not harmed a bit. An agent spots her but she is no damsel in distress as she employs a little trick and even pins him to submission. Unfortunately another agent shoots her in the guts. Then they start to kick this defenceless little girl! Well, hope you had your fun because now papa Yuuji will show no mercy in killing you. He takes Makina and sends her to hospital but JB is before him and orders him to put her down. Makina is in hospital with Kiyoka by her side. She hopes her internal organs are not destroyed because of Sarina’s critical condition. Yuuji disguises as a delivery boy to enter Kiyoka’s corporate building. He then shoots and kills her! No mercy! It is reported in the news that Kiyoka’s killer was chased and shot by police but died on the way to hospital. JB talks to Chiara about the aftermath how their organization has bought a powerful blacklist (the corruption files) and has been promised a mutual guarantee of safety. Yuuji knows JB once again helped him out. He goes to pick discharged Makina. Everything on Yuuji has been dropped considering what has become of the original clients who are no other than the Irisu family themselves. Yuuji took them on and came out alive. Yuuji and Makina return to the dorm and all the girls are happy they are back. Oh, Michiru wants her money back…

Episode 10
JB sends Yuuji back and gives a cheeky peck on his cheeks. Did anybody see that? Sachi… Oh God… She’s promising her lips are sealed and would allow him to do the same to her! She wonders if she’ll be raped next… Oh, Sachi… Amane is waiting in Yuuji’s room like a wife. But he prefers the bath first than her… Then Sachi sends an image of that kiss to Amane… What is this? Amane thinks it is Yuuji’s plan to make her jealous so Yuuji tells her to close her eyes. He really kisses her! What was that for? Oh, that was their first kiss. Was that just for fun? Yuuji assures he will not do something so reckless without following up. Since it was Amane’s decision to fall in love with him, he cannot promise to make her happy. He agrees to be her girlfriend on a condition that if he dies or disappears, she must forget him within a year. She accepts but also wants to know if she likes him. That runabout thing he said about not understanding those feelings, to cut things short, he likes her. She is so happy that her legs start feeling weak. She even hints getting naughty with him but he doesn’t want her to get carried away. Now Yuuji wants to know the real reason why she wants to go out with him so much. Does he know who Kazuki Kazami is? My, that is the most shocking facial expression I have seen on Yuuji’s face! Of course he knows her. She is his sister. Amane is her classmate and fellow basketball club member. 6 years ago there was an accident involving her club. Amane is the only survivor. She kept this secret because she couldn’t bear to tell it to him when they first met. She shows him a diary that details everything that happened 6 years ago. Flashback time.

As the girls are returning from training camp, the bus tyre bursts and lost control, went over a cliff. When Amane wakes up, it was the first time she spoke to Kazuki. She is cold and sarcastic probably because Amane was sitting on top of her. As the duo gets out, Kazuki throws a psychological question who to save first. Personally, she will save the girl she hates most because if saved for last, she might lose interest in saving her. Once all are out, Chiaki Sakashita, the club president doesn’t like how Kazuki is trying to give orders and be in charge. Sakashita wants Ritsu Koide to administer first aid but she can’t as she doesn’t know how despite coming from a family of doctors. Kazuki defies Sakashita’s orders and goes off with Amane to explore the surroundings. When they return, first aid is still not administered so Kazuki takes over and tells to just boil water for her. It isn’t that Kazuki has medical experience, she just got knowledge from reading books. So this is her first time? Well, better than doing nothing. Kazuki’s left hand’s pain is worsening and Amane feels guilty as she was sitting on top of it. In that case, if she wants to repay her debt, she must obey her orders without question when she asks. Once their teacher Ochi wakes up, Kazuki takes the liberty to explain the cause of the crash. Some metal piece fell and pierced the bus tyre. It was unfortunate it happened at a corner on a curved road. Sakashita thinks of waiting for rescue to come but Kazuki disagrees and should use all the energy they have right now to find a way out because their rations are limited too. Sakashita tells her if she doesn’t like her decision, she can go off herself. Surprisingly Kazuki apologizes. Later as explained, Kazuki purposely picked a fight with her and then backed down because if she didn’t, she might cave in 3 days later and break out. But now that would mean admitting Kazuki was right. Everyone sets up tents to tug in for the night. Amane sees Kazuki reading and is amazed she can remember it like a picture to read it any time she wants.

Episode 11
Things are looking fine on the second day of the disaster. Some of them try to get their handphones to higher place to receive signal and call for help but since it doesn’t work, it proves they’re in an area out of the network’s reach. Kazuki and Amane tend to a couple of seriously injured girls. Kazuki talks about the efficiency of the girls being paired to carry out errands instead of forming a group to stem laziness. When Amane says she paired up with her because likes her, for the first time we see Kazuki’s blushing face! She’s really blushing! And you thought she is the kind of b*tch who can never put up such expression. A helicopter passes but a bunch of girls screaming won’t do any help. Not even Amane pressing the bus horn. It never came back. On day three, the corpses of those who died start decaying so Ochi carried them into the forest. Kazuki tells Amane about her younger brother and how they are always compared. This makes Amane yearn to go back home. Rationing begins on day four and on day five, Koide panics because it seems she is short a carrot. Sakashita will kill her if this is found out. So as not to spread paranoia, Kazuki cuts the carrots and then assembles the pieces to look like there are enough. So grateful that she’ll repay her someday. You don’t know the kind of trouble you’re going to get by indebting yourself with her. On day seven, Sakashita thought she is doing some good by feeding injured Tamaki Hirooka but she seems forceful. Kazuki tells her off to be considerate of others. Kazuki knows why Hirooka doesn’t want to be fed. As she cannot walk, she has soiled herself and thus didn’t want any more ‘inputs’. Amane laments Kazuki never treated her this kindly. Has she? Maybe this will prove her wrong. Amane’s neck is bleeding from a leech’s bite so Kazuki sucks it out for her. Such an ambiguous scene…

On day nine, Ochi claims he has found a route to leave this place so he leaves with promise to bring back help. He’d better because he took half the rations with him. I don’t know, shouldn’t everyone come along too including bringing the injured? You can see everyone is at their limits on day ten. The continuous pouring rain and the sickening feel of eating snails really get to you. The injured are not getting any better. Even more disheartening is how Hirooka wants to die. She knows she isn’t going to make and it hurts everywhere. Amane tries to give her motivation to continue living by being in her debt and to repay it. Sure, she’ll never forget this kindness even when she dies. Malnourishment causes Haruna Ibuki to lose her mind as she becomes a retard and mentally unstable person. Two days after Ochi left, he never returned and the girls desperately do all they can to survive from eating bugs to even drinking muddy water. They pretend to sleep despite their stomach suffering from diarrhoea. Then Megumi Komori’s dog dies. Instead of burying it, Kazuki suggests eating it. This will be doggie’s last service to them. It is depressing but what else choice do they have? I don’t know why they draw lots to see who cuts it up because it’s like Koide gets the short end of the stick. She’s going crazy just thinking about it so Kazuki butchers the dog so as to let her. Shouldn’t just Kazuki do it herself? Anyway the miniscule glorious meat brought tears to their eyes for all reasons and extended their lives. Best meat ever…

Episode 12
On day 13, everyone else is turning crazy. Amane thought of giving up but Kazuki tells her it is too early for that. On day 14, Ochi returns! However he is laughing like a madman claiming he has finally got back. Looks like he failed. With a couple of more deaths (Komori committed suicide), everyone now thinks fewer mouths to feed. Ochi and Sakashita managed to get deer meat but Kazuki refuses to eat them because she doesn’t want to get hepatitis. Even if she survives, she doesn’t want to suffer. One night, Kazuki wakes up Amane to tell her that they are escaping now because help will never come. They see Ochi and Sakashita heading into the jungle deeper as Kazuki will show her the truth. They’re having sex!!! Even more shocking are the chopped up dead girls! So that’s where the meat comes from? Kazuki is so shocked that it gave their position away. They run as fast as they can but Ochi goes after them. Doesn’t he look like a demon? Kazuki smacks him with her bag. However the other girls are also looking for them. Amane is so scared to move that she tells Kazuki to just save herself. To avoid being killed by them, she is going to kill herself. However Kazuki won’t allow that and reminds her of her promise to protect her. She is going to be a decoy and hands Amane a map that details routes back to civilization and her bag with food. Kazuki is caught by the girls as Amane runs like the wind. She knows Kazuki will be sacrificed and die a painful death just to save a coward like her. But because she was so scared, she could only think about saving herself. The last time she turned around and looked back, she saw Kazuki’s smiling face. There was no hate in those eyes. Like as though she has accepted her fate. It has been days since Amane has been lost in the jungle. She thought she saw visions of her dead friends trying to guide her to heaven but that is when she finally found the road. A cabbage field before her and she ate an entire cabbage herself! Vegetable never tasted this good, eh?

Of course the demons of her past continue to haunt her even when she returned to her normal life. When the mass media interviewed her for the story, soon rumours and conspiracy theories surfaced of why she is the only one who survived. Even her classmates start tormenting her on this. She believes this is the price to pay for surviving. Amane thought she had to be punished as an excuse for a reason to live. That is when Yuuji appeared before her. She thought he would be the perfect punishment. Since she took Kazuki away from him, she decided to do whatever he wanted. So she fell in love with him out of obligation rather than affection. But now she really does love him. However being with him feels her sin is lessened. That is why she requests him to kill her. There is no other way she can be punished and no matter how much she apologizes, it won’t bring Kazuki back. Yuuji knocks her head and says if that itself is so much pain, how can she expect to be killed? He ticks her off to stop acting like Kazuki because she is not her. He understands her past and regrets but doesn’t intend to pity her. So instead of killing her, she will serve him for the rest of her life. He is her master/owner. Live for his sake. Amane hugs him in tears. But he chides her that she looks ugly while crying. Oh, she can only cry for 5 minutes! I know it’s mean but this is punishment, right? Yuuji narrates the only way to save her was to accept her fully. But she will be the only one who can forgive herself one day. He will be that punishment till she realizes that. Even if the world hates her, he will be the only one to forgive her till that day comes. Yuuji wonders if Kazuki is still alive. Because although there is an official body count, it is not like they ever found her head. Remembering about that carrot puzzle, it may seem so. Amane shows the map Kazuki gave her and judging on how detailed it is, Kazuki intended for her to escape herself. She thinks of going to visit that site again. Will it be okay? She’ll have to overcome her trauma one day. Besides, she’ll be okay with him. While Yuuji waits for her, a creepy old man named Sakashita goes up to him and proclaims he is a big fan of Amane. He was from some IT company but sort of lost his purpose in life. He realized he still got things left to do. He doesn’t want to bore Yuuji anymore and leaves.

Episode 13
At the supposed site, they dig up a makeshift grave and find a letter by Kazuki. It states everyone died from a skin disease illness they contracted from eating tainted meat. Kazuki knows Amane will be reading this a few years down the road and has only a request: To help Yuuji. This is the only regret she has and hopes one day they will meet again. So is she alive or dead? Don’t know. When they go back to the truck, Amane gets a surprise call from Makina. Similarly, Yuuji gets one from Sachi. But it isn’t the voices of those girls. Instead it is that creepy Sakashita guy! He is holding them hostage as he wants revenge on the only survivor of that incident. You could have guessed he is that club president’s father. Yuuji calls JB to request for backup. They can’t let the police handle this because they’ll know Yumiko is still alive. Sakashita starts shooting outside when he spots those SWAT team peeping from outside the school wall. Amane starts wondering what kind of work Yuuji does when she sees special operatives outside the school. However he tells her not to over-think. As they can’t snipe Sakashita because the curtains are drawn and there are no other places to do this sniping job effectively (because the school is situated next to the vast ocean), it seems the only way is to lure him to the edge of the building into the men’s toilet where Yuuji will take on the role to snipe him through a tiny window. But he has to snipe from a lighthouse 900 metres away! He can do it. Believe it. But from that angle, he will be in his line of sight at a certain spot. Yuuji knows there is a marine among the hostages and will get her to break the urinals. A Morse code is sent and Makina picks it up. She makes an exaggerated feign to go to the toilet. Michiru wants to come along too. I know she’s complaining even using the men’ toilet but it is fine with Makina. How to break it now? Due to some silly slip up, Makina trips and breaks it! Ouch. That’s got to hurt. Sachi keeps Yuuji updated because her handphone was never off when Sakashita confiscated it all. Wow. The bill is going to run high.

Once back in the room, Sakashita cannot wait any longer and calls for Amane. She enters and the plan is to make him drink till he needs to use the toilet. Sakashita continues to blame Amane for everything and wants her to make a choice. He’ll let her live if she sacrifices her friends or she can die and he’ll let the rest go. She has no regrets in choosing the latter. But this is not what he wants and beats her up. He is not going to let her die easily and make her suffer. The other girls try to make him realize he is just taking out on her and that he has no right to judge her. You think he will listen? Like any other men, he wants to rape her but needs to use the toilet first. At this point, Sachi’s handphone runs out of battery. But Yuuji spots him right where he wants him and fires the shot. Sakashita is surprised to see blood coming out from his shoulder. Amane steals his gun and returns to the other girls. JB gives the orders to arrest the suspect and rescue the hostages. Chizuru commends Yuuji for a good work done and he claims he doesn’t know if this is ordinary or not but this is his school. He reunites with the girls who are very happy to see him. A year later, an unidentified boat enters Japan’s waters. What better way than to take out the coast guards by blowing them away with your bazooka!!!

Specials

After all that gruelling and dirty job, it is time to reward Yuuji with another kind of ‘dirtiness’. That’s right. I suppose these are what these 3-minute specials are for. Fanservice moments of the girls as they take out their inner most desires on Yuuji. YUUJI YOU LUCKY BASTARD!!! And real fanservice meaning real tits are shown! YUUJI YOU LUCKY BASTARD!!! Hmm… Why doesn’t Yuuji have any dialogue? Not even a sound…

Special 1
Today, Yumiko is dressed in a sexy bunny Playboy outfit and is going to give him a big reward~pyon. She’s teasing and flirting with him, enough to make him get ‘aggressive’. What’s this? He wants her to warm up this carrot with her cleavage? As you wish… Feels good? Now he wants her to ride and straddle on a giant toy carrot. Having fun, isn’t she? Although comes to a grinding halt when Amane spots her. Yumiko tries to brush it off as rehearsal but Amane promises she won’t tell what she saw. She understands… I guess hearing her out won’t work now, eh?

Special 2
This time Michiru is relaxing on a flat at a beach. She wants Yuuji to put sun lotion on her. Okay. He could be the world’s greatest masseur. But his hands go wherever he wants. Yes, touching all those ‘dangerous’ parts. If she is against him going there, why didn’t she stop him? Enjoying it? Then it all turns out to be one big dream. Michiru must be tired enough to fantasize this in the dorm’s bath. When she gets out, she slips on the soap. She spots Yuuji soaking nearby and gets very embarrassed. She thinks this is a dream too. Only, it isn’t.

Special 3
It is Sachi the maid’s turn! She is going to wash Yuuji’s back! I know the sexy lingerie is to turn us on but why is she entering the bath with gloves and panty stockings? How can washing be effective with those one? It doesn’t matter since she uses her boobs to rub her back. Ironically it is her who is feeling turned on while Yuuji is just sitting there like a rock! Now it’s time to wash his front. Oh yeah. She’s rubbing and caressing his thick hard thing! Need to clean it more thoroughly! Well, the blacked out censors make it look like so. The irony is that Sachi is the one climaxing! She snaps out of it when she heard Michiru calling her. Be right back. Well what do you know? Turns out Sachi was washing the shower head all along. Best troll ever? That’s what you get when you wear gloves when you clean. Can’t feel the real deal…

Special 4
Makina becomes a foul mouthed drill sergeant to train her recruits how to hold a gun. But noticing their big boobs, she decides to demonstrate a training to reduce those fat lumps. This is where your fanservice of Makina comes in because you get to see her mini tits when she does her push ups thanks to the loose singlet she wears. Then there is this pole climbing training when she suddenly starts to feel good while climbing up! She’s addicted to the rubbing! However she is called by Amane since it is getting dark. Oh yeah. Fear the poles… Another way to climb the stairways of adulthood…

Special 5
Amane and Yuuji. What a lovely couple in their lovely yukata at the festivals. Then it starts to rain. An excuse for Amane to get horny, tempting Yuuji to do it. Her yukata is already wet and undone. They’re all alone, right? She doesn’t mind if it is him. You have got to be gay to refuse her… Suddenly… Wait a minute! WAIT A MINUTE???!!! When did this suddenly turn into a hentai scene???!!! Because Yuuji is fondling Amane’s naked tits!!! OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He’s good! She’s enjoying it!!! More groping! Don’t stop! And you know it is too good to be true when it turns out to be just Amane’s horny fantasy because Yuuji is actually fixing her yukata. Then she shifts the blame to him that he is trying to plant horny ideas in her head by doing this. Well, he knocks her head…

Special 6
I guess Kazuki needs to have her own special too. And here I thought we’re going to have a final orgy with the other girls. Anyway it goes back to the time when Kazuki and Yuuji are kids. They’re playing doctor. Kazuki is a naughty doctor. After she examines him, she allows him to examine her. And my, does he know how to turn her on by just using the stethoscope to touch her chest here and there. Now that she is stimulated, she can’t hold back and wants to do something more than this. So young, so horny… Then the doorbell interrupts them. Good thing because we won’t be viewing any child porn here. But Kazuki promises to play something far more interesting when she gets back. Would you like to know?

Grisaia No Meikyuu

In this 48 minutes special, we take a look at Yuuji’s past. The opener of Grisaia No Meikyuu sees a hostage drama at Vancouver Airport 2 years ago. Although the terrorist leader is shot dead, a handful of his subordinates escaped and took refuge by hijacking a taxing plane. Yuuji is a sniper positioned out in the foggy weather getting ready to take aim whenever the chance presents itself. When a terrorist comes out holding a little girl hostage, he takes the shot and hits his hand. Yuuji is worried he might have hit her although the only thing that did so was the terrorist’s blood splattered all over her face. Despite the terrorists escaped via sea, Yuuji considered this a good ending as the hostage was unhurt. Little did he know that the bullet he fired in the battlefield would one day find its way back to him. This little girl turns out to be Chizuru but she is not a kid at that time. In fact she has a driving licence to prove she is clearly an adult! And perhaps a very old one? Yuuji’s American buddy couldn’t believe it. Chizuru is grateful and would grant Yuuji anything. Anything? That is when the thought of having a normal high school life crossed his mind.

JB is going through Yuuji’s files since he is seeking promotion and narrates a little about his family background. Yuuji’s father, Ryouji may look like an antique dealer but his primary income comes from under table money of politicians as he acted as the middleman under the guise of political donations. Yuuji’s mom, Satoko is a weak person. Despite distrustful of others, the irony is that she relies on everyone else. And then there is his sister Kazuki who is a prodigy in art and her talent was discovered when she was 4 years old. It is said her works are worth millions today. JB calls Yuuji for interview and asks him about his sister to find out his true feelings for her. He once hated being compared to her and tried to avoid her because people treated him like a fool each time he is with her. However Kazuki was kind and always teaching him like how to do things with both hands (no, nothing hentai, mind you) and giving good advice like never giving up. One day, father was upset Kazuki drew a childish painting and it won’t look good to his art client. She won’t take it down because she likes it. Yuuji, perhaps wanting some sort of approval, tore that painting of hers but it’s not like father appreciated it. One day, Yuuji met this strange art dealer guy of his father, Rei Kirihara. He was given chocolates before Yuuji retired to his room. Yuuji couldn’t understand why Kazuki didn’t paint as good as she always did and lied. That is because being known as a girl who could do anything is annoying. Kazuki introduced Yuuji to manga so that he could have something in common to talk with his friends. Take a look at their father. Does he want to become like him? Eventually Kazuki ‘downgraded’ herself to live a normal quiet life. She doesn’t flaunt her artistic talents and turned down an offer to study in Paris. But still her art was the main income source and no one could argue with that. Even when she enrolled in a local high school, she betrayed her parents by not joining a fine arts club and joined a basketball club instead.

One night, she is appalled to see Yuuji just eating bread when the fridge has lots of food. I mean, his parents never really cared for him, right? Kazuki is sad that she never knew and gave her parents a long lecture! But that hardly changed anything. Father’s hatred for him became more obvious while mother now avoids him the best she can. When Yuuji made his first friend (Sachi), Kazuki isn’t amused. She didn’t remember telling him to make female friends?! I’m not sure about her decision to find an appropriate girl for him but if he ever wants to make any, make sure to introduce her to big sister. What is she, his mother? Oh, that feels true… I’m sure she is concerned about him becoming a man who makes girls cry. Kazuki continued to play ‘pranks’ on Yuuji but siblings taking a bath seems normal. Then they even kiss and that is when she taught him about incest. It’s pretty normal for siblings to love each other, right? Well, if you’re into that kind of stuff. Of course, due to genetic thingy, Kazuki explains why siblings cannot get married. As Kazuki continued to spend her peaceful days, nobody knew about her prodigy talent except him. If she had to show them, it was just to set in motion for some scheme of hers. Even their parents moved according to her will. That was the side Yuuji was scared of because he thought maybe Kazuki wasn’t human and could be God.

Until that fateful bus tragedy, Kazuki’s ‘death’ is only confirmed months later. The family fell into depression with Ryouji who pinned all his hopes on her now turning into a useless alcoholic. He abused his family especially mom. All she could do was apologize. So I guess she couldn’t take it anymore and one day ran away with Yuuji. The new home was less comfortable but as long father wasn’t around, it is already like heaven. Around a year later, father found them and is going to rape mom to produce another art prodigy. Yuuji will not stand for this and smashes his head with a bottle. Interestingly, he remembered Kazuki’s words of what hand he would use to kill. I suppose it is time to run again but Satoko gave her son all the money they had and told him to run to the station. He waited but she never showed up. He noticed ambulance heading towards his home and when he rushed back, he saw his father’s corpse being stretched away. Apparently he heard this was a murder-cum-suicide. It was traumatic for a kid to see his mother’s naked body hung from the ceiling. When he woke up in hospital, he read mom’s suicide note that was nothing but apology and why things turned out so wrong.

Shortly, Yuuji is taken in by Kirihara. But this sicko has some weird fetish. Yuuji is dressed like a girl and became his play doll. Well, life is so meaningless to him so it doesn’t matter. One day, one of Kirihara’s henchmen decided to beat him up. That is when Yuuji released his instincts and killed him. Kirihara was impressed and praised him for a job well done. He suggests he should study more and become a tool more excellent than any other instead of just holing up here as his pet. In some snowy country, Kirihara ran a school and went by the name Heath Oslo, a name that Yuuji had to call him too. This school is actually a guise for a terrorist training camp as Yuuji is trained to be one. Because Oslo favoured him, he became the target of bullies. Even more so when he had the talent for long range marksmanship. Only a fellow girl, Marlin treated him kindly, treated his wounds and shared her food. He thought at least there was still hope in humanity. Yuuji’s training intensifies with some lessons under Oslo himself as he is being brainwashed to trust nobody except him. One day for his ‘graduation test’, he must kill or incapacitate his opponent. That opponent is Marlin. Yuuji is clearly stronger as he shows no mercy in beating her up. But this brings back traumatic memories of his mom and he realized he was only becoming like his father. He became paralyzed and this gave Marlin the chance to turn the tables and beat him up. Oslo could not be more disappointed in this failure and locks him up. Even so, Marlin still came to see and tend him. But her apologies only reminded Yuuji of his mother’s. Pessimistic words that left him weak and powerless. Marlin promised to come back and see him after she ‘graduates’ but that was the last time he saw her. Later he learnt that she died in her first job after screwing up. This made him wonder had he ‘graduated’, would Marlin not have died?

Two months later, Yuuji was given another chance to ‘graduate’. But this time he had to carry out an assassination bid. His cross-dressing is perfect as he stabs the unsuspected judge from the International Court of Justice in the neck in his private hotel room. He carried out more high profile assassinations around the world. At that time JB was working with the CIA and was on the trail of this mysterious assassin known to them as ET-01. ET as in Enfant Terrible, not that extraterrestrial creature. They were stumped by his identity until that fateful night when an operation led by Asako to storm into Oslo’s mansion. They killed all the small fries but the big fish got away. They discovered an underground cell that Yuuji was being held in. Asako thought Yuuji was a girl but his wig fell off. It was the first time they met and had he not met her then, Yuuji would not have been right here today. The rest is history. He doesn’t remember much about the events of that operation as he was drugged then. As Yuuji takes a breather from this interview, we see the girls together at the dorm. While Sachi was cleaning Yuuji’s room, she discovered something. No, not his crusty underwear like you hoped for, Amane! It was shredded pieces of paper detailing the personal report of Yuuji’s past. Sachi did an awfully wonderful job in piecing back every shred! So why show it to the others? As she couldn’t help read it while putting them back together, she couldn’t bear her guilty conscience and brought it to them to read so she can make them accomplices! I guess there is no turning back now. The temptation is too great to ignore since they’re interested in Yuuji’s past that they know too little to nothing of. Take a deep breath and let’s do this. What is seen cannot be unseen.

Seeds Of Hope
Well, it isn’t over yet. I have yet to see the final series in the trilogy so perhaps I my conclusions won’t be so conclusive yet. But as far as for both seasons that I have watched, it is fair to say that the stories and plot are interesting enough. From the start you can guess that everyone has skeletons in their closet and not as ‘normal’ as they look. Everyone has ghosts of their pasts that they thought they buried but comes back to haunt them. Then a certain guy comes into their lives to help overcome it. Well, doesn’t sound original but heck, at least they make it interesting.

I don’t know, somehow I see a handful of comparisons of this series with Little Busters despite both series are made from different developers (albeit both are adapted from the adult visual novel of the same name). Maybe it is because of that Amane’s route and that bus crash scene. Both series had that. Both main characters are not are what they seem although in this case, Yuuji is more tough and badass compared to that ‘weakling’ in Little Busters. And sure, he also helps out all the girls with their problems and solves it. There is a ‘featured’ cat in both series as well.

Amane’s survival horror story seems to be the most interesting story of the lot and it really fleshed out her past. It kept me glued to my screen and seat as I was eager to actually know what will happen next. Surprisingly and to a point disappointingly, Yumiko only gets one stinking episode. Because from her cold behaviour and the only one who seems to be rejecting Yuuji (even resorting to hurting him), I thought she would be one of the toughest to crack. I knew she wouldn’t be the last one (because I was betting to be Amane and true enough it was) but I didn’t expect her to only just get one lousy episode to solve everything. Like as though it was rushed or there was nothing more to expand on it. Or the producers aren’t interested in her route and just crammed it all in one. It makes everything feel so tame about her after that. So as not to make Yumiko as the only one with a single episode, it feels Sachi is also ‘sacrificed’ with only one episode to be focused on. Why do you have to treat maids like this???!!! Ahem… But then again, you wonder how much materials they can cram into a season with only more than a dozen episodes.

I have not played the visual novel game so I am not sure that the character development in the adaptation is all fully fleshed out. Because it feels like your typical setting with every character having a dark past or some sort of issue bugging them. And that is when Yuuji the guy who can do it all, solve it all, steps in to ensure they go back in leading a normal life without worries and in turn he too would get that normal life he wanted to live so badly. What else can I say about him? He might not have the friendliest face that will get girls swooning at first sight (but you got to admit that he is considered good looking – just without the smile), but at least he has a set of survival skills that makes him badass and the toughest that will even have Terminators running back to the future crying for their mommies. Heck, sometimes I feel his insane and precision skills make him some sort of a robot. Or makers. So if you’ve got any life threatening thing bugging you, just make friends with this dude and he’ll even protect you from God’s wrath. Just exaggerating. But you know what I’m talking about. And it must run in his family because just like his sister, sometimes he has got the knack to make witty and sarcastic comments, a reason why it’s sometimes funny and nice to hear this guy make his comeback. Even he himself is not perfect despite looking like the guy who can do everything and anything. The insight to his past is interesting and gives a lot of depth to his character hopefully more of it will be revealed and fleshed out in the next season.

For the rest of the girls at Mihama Academy, they may look normal when they are first introduced. But at the back of our heads you know that more than meets the eye. At the end of episode 2, we see how they arrive at the school for the first time with their twisted personalities and predicaments and it makes you go that there are definitely some big issues waiting to explode. And sure enough, trouble comes looking for them (although one at a time for the sake of the series’ flow) but it is just odd that after the girls find peace with their past, they feel like they have become less ‘intimidating’. Like as though there was nothing that scary or crazy about them in the first place.

For example, like I have mentioned about Yumiko. She hates Yuuji’s guts to the core but after her fake death and all, she becomes docile. She was also the only one who isolates herself from the rest of the girls, not sharing or joining them in everything. But after that, this cold personality seems to be a distant memory wants she starts mixing like normal. Sachi also feels the same because her initial scenes show her like making some sort of dangerous bombs or weapons in her room. But it turns out she wasn’t any terrorist in disguise trying to sabotage the school or anything. Just that she takes things too seriously even jokes because of her penchant to perfectly fulfil all requests. Then there is Makina who mike look innocent and carefree but be careful sometimes because her speech can turn nasty. Every group needs a mood maker or a joker and that is what tsundere Michiru is for. Finally, when a guy isn’t a pervert, one of the girls has to take on this role. That is what Amane is. Flirty, seductive and telling dirty jokes at times (she even has the nice voluptuous body to go with it – porn star material?), despite this nature of hers, she feels like the big mother and big sister to the rest of the girls in school. At the end of the day, despite all their problems and predicaments, they are just human beings who yearn for the normal life. That is pretty normal itself, right? Who are the ones judging them as not normal?

As you can see, that these 5 girls harbour feelings for Yuuji but romance isn’t directly played out here. Thanks to Yuuji for helping solve their problem, it is safe to say that there is no reason why they shouldn’t fall for a guy like him. You will definitely feel safe around him. Now with Yuuji and Amane being a couple, I wonder if that is official and real. There are prospects of turning into a harem but I suppose that would ruin everything in this show. Heck, there is a prospect of them playing house here. Yuuji and Amane the parents, Yumiko the eldest daughter, Makina the youngest child, Sachi the maid-cum-friend and Michiru, uhm, the pet? Yeah, Chizuru can play the grandma… Haha!

Other secondary characters don’t feel too bad although I feel they too have more than meets the eye. Because like Chizuru who is much older than the way she looks, it is also a sign that there is a lot more to her than being the headmaster and only teacher of the academy. Or maybe I’m just being paranoid. Then there is JB, Yuuji’s boss constantly on his side and helping out whenever she can. Is there any ulterior motive or just truly assisting him? Also mysterious enough is Chiara whom I feel is hiding ulterior motives. Because aside the main 5 girls, she seems to be ‘interested’ in Yuuji… Maybe I am getting paranoid. Kazuki’s death was never made certain and remains a big question mark if she’s really dead or still alive. She has a knack for survival and with her quick thinking and calm demeanor, she won’t be killed off that easily but you never know. Lastly about Asako who only made her debut at the end of the special. I feel there is more to tell about her and how she became Yuuji’s master.

There are a handful of fanservice shots in the series but I feel that they are somewhat teasing. As they do not spam panty shots every 10 seconds or so, sometimes when they ‘feel like it’, the girls will flash their panties or the angle will be so that you can see their striped or coloured pantsu in that short second. It is like if you blink, you’ll miss it in some scenes. Okay, at least long enough for you to spot. Fair enough ;p. And for Yuuji to not be stimulated by some of their flirty advances and seduction, I am beginning to think he is gay… Thank his strict training never to give in to the pleasures of the skin or never to be off his guard. Then again, what do we know about the type of women he likes? Ah, not relevant, eh? Well, if Yuuji was that typical main character pervert you see in ecchi series, I this show will turn out less palatable and less awesome. No more just tragic. Just tragic romance comedy…

Art and drawing are fine and I have no complains about it except for this one tiny thing that I seem to notice. How come all the female characters have this red shading on the side of their eyes? I think it is supposed to be the visual trademark but sometimes it just feels weird looking at them. Like as though they forgot to completely clean up the eyeliner or they just finished their Chinese opera and forgot to remove the makeup near the eyes. Another ‘unique’ thing about this series is how the episodes are displayed in very a wide screen resolution as compared to your standard 16:9 resolution. Well, if you have a television screen that long (or watching it on a real silver screen), you will have to be content with black lines at the top and bottom of your screen. Yeah, it is indeed a very wide screen resolution.

Voice acting feels okay with perhaps Kaori Mizuhashi as Michiru being the ‘best’ one because she sounds cheeky, bubbly and playful. Something like Miyako of Hidamari Sketch series. It has been a long time since I have heard Ai Shimizu but she is instantly recognizable as Sachi. Oddly, we have a reunion of a handful of casts who lent their voice in Little Busters like Ryouko Tanaka as Yumiko (Kurugaya in Little Busters), Tomoe Tamiyasu as Makina (Rin) and Natsumi Yanase as Chizuru (Komari). The rest of the casts are Takahiro Sakurai as Yuuji (Suzaku in Code Geass), Hiroko Taguchi as Amane (Miyako in ef series), Erika Narumi as JB (Shokatsuryou Koumei/Shuri in Shin Koihime Musou, Kiriha in Fortune Arterial) and Akane Tomonaga as Kazuki (Yui in Ushinawareta Mirai Wo Motomete).

The opening theme, Rakuen No Tsubasa by Maon Kurosaki feels okay and fits the theme of the series well. There are a handful of ending themes and my favourite one is for Amane’s arc, rainy Veil by Nagi Yanagi. It is a slow and beautiful but yet a sad piece. Anata No Aishita Sekai by Yoshino Nanjoyu is the only other theme that appears in more than one episode. Hearing this piece sounds familiar although I can’t seem to put my finger on it right now. Skip by Chata is a lively and bubbly piece to signal the end of Michiru’s arc. Sousei No Thanatos by Faylan for the final episode sounds like one of her typical rock pop anime songs. At least I like this one better than Eden’s Song by Hana (ending theme for episode 2). There are also a handful of insert songs and they fit the scenes like a charm like Holograph by Eufonius for Yumiko’s ‘death scene’, Mayoi No Mori by Hiromi Sato at the end of Makina’s runaway, Home by Miyuki Hashimoto for that touching Yuuji and Amane hugging scene after he agrees to become her girlfriend.

This series isn’t an easy watch since you have to focus on the heavy drama and watch tragedy after tragedy in the stories. Sure, it may looked like the girls have a happy ending at the end of their arc but if you think about it, they wouldn’t have to go through all that suffering had not all those things occurred in the first place. They could have led a normal and boring life, a life without ever meeting Yuuji. Yeah, that wouldn’t be fun. Also, some who played the game complained about cramming the stories into a season which didn’t do any justice to bringing out some of the characters and even cutting off many scenes, thus the incomplete feel. Even so, personally I feel that this series has been interesting although there were certain parts that I did not understand and had to go back and rewatch it a couple of more times. So give this a try and whether you call it a masterpiece or a piece of crap depends entirely on your tastes. And Yuuji did say something about not repaying your debt is more shameful than being indebted, right? Well, looks like I have to repay that debt by watching the final trilogy then.

Angel Beats OVA 2

August 21, 2015

Wait a minute. Hold on a second now. I thought they were done and dusted with this?! Almost 5 years after the TV series and only OVA came out and ended the damn thing, suddenly there is another OVA out. What are they trying to do? Play on our nostalgia factor? So when Angel Beats came out with a second OVA back in June 2015, it just sends mixed feelings to me. I wasn’t a big fan of the series since there were a lot of stuffs that I didn’t comprehend (and couldn’t remember) so I’m not sure. But there is no harm in checking it out, right? I believe this OVA takes place in between one of those early TV episodes because Iwasawa is still around and Yui hasn’t joined GirlDeMo yet.

Hell’s Kitchen
Yuri has gathered the guys for another operation. It isn’t your usual picnic in the mountains. Because she wants them to kill each other! The only catch is that they cannot use guns as Tenshi will confiscate them. The last one standing will become possessed by a demon. I don’t know what Yuri is planning but the guys think she’ll get something out of it so hell they’re okay in participating in this. Although the picnic is in a week’s time, they have a week to prepare traps to deceive each other. Of course, only Yuri and Yusa will not be participating as they will observe Tenshi’s actions. Who is the real demon here? Yuri goes to seek permission from Tenshi to hold this event and she approves it hoping things don’t get out of control. So our guys leave for the mountains. After setting up tent, Takamatsu suggests playing volleyball. Noda charges with all his might at the ball. It explodes, killing him. Seems Takamatsu rigged it with the guild’s help. Meanwhile Shiori has drafted (forced, rather) Miyuki’s help to kill Iwasawa. First they let her rant about her music days as they walk along. Then Iwasawa drops into a pit dug by them! But she climbs back out like as though nothing has happened! The ranting continues. Don’t worry. There are more pits up ahead…

As the guys play badminton, Ooyama smashes the shuttlecock at Takamatsu. The fiery impact kills him! Yeah, Ooyama had the science club help him with this trap. Then they decide to go fishing. Matsushita gets strangled by the vines before being torn apart! Fujimaki admits he got the theatre club’s help for this trap. While fishing, Fujimaki caught something big. However he is being pulled into the water where he drowns (in this shallow river?). They deduce this was Matsushita’s trap and he enlisted it from the synchronized swimming club. And then model Apache helicopters attack them! Hinata’s trap with assistance from radio communications club. Everybody runs for their lives as the helicopters spray oil on them. TK saves Ooyama and gets burnt but before he dies, he warns them to beware the manga club. Ooyama then gets reeled in by the fishing rod into the river and drowns. Otonashi and Hinata decide to go back but the latter gets caught in a net trap and being stabbed by knives. Actually they are the pen brush of the manga club. Otonashi is surprised that Tenshi is before him. She confirms that he is not the one who killed Hinata.

Meanwhile, Shiori and Miyuki must be starting to panic because pit after pit, Iwasawa continues to climb out and continue her boring story!!! There is nothing to stop her! Is her love for music that great? They are approaching the final trap… A flashback 3 days ago, Shiori and Miyuki mixed some raw liver trap in a bucket. Then they bribe Shiina to help them out. Hisako, who has been lost for a while, sees her fellow bandmates. Seeing how messed up Iwasawa is, she gets mad thinking it was Shiori and Miyuki’s ploy. As she charges, she falls into a pit. But she climbs out! Shiina waiting to pour the raw liver screws up and spills the bucket over Hisako. This causes her to become mad as she turns into a demon to pound Shiori (because she turned tail and ran away)!!! OMG! She makes Shiori eat the raw liver until she dies!!! Tenshi and Otonashi see this and the former is going to do something to kill this demon. Seems this is all part of Yuri’s elaborate plan. Because there is a demon that no one here can handle, this will force Tenshi to call upon God. But to her surprise, Tenshi doesn’t call God and attacks Hisako. Guess what? Tenshi lost!!! OMFG! We’re all doomed! All the other resurrected guys who unknowingly waltz into the scene got violently killed off again as Hisako stuffs the raw liver in their mouths. The survivors better run for their lives. This isn’t a demon. This is just a rampaging monster!!! In the aftermath, all this is actually a history lesson as told by Shiori to Yui and the rest on how GirlDeMo got their name. I can see why now… Then Shiori excuses herself to the toilet and I think she will experience eternal retribution because the raw liver has been giving her relentless diarrhoea ever since! It won’t stop! The biggest loser…

Survival Hell…
Rather okay, I suppose. Here I thought this was going to be a cheesy cooking show based on the title of this OVA but I must say that they surprised me with this so called survival theme. So I suppose the only Hell’s Kitchen would be most appropriate for is Shiori as she got what she deserved most in the end. Yuri once again shows she is a sneaky operations leader by using the clueless dumb loyal guys at her disposal just for her goals. Well, try again. And also, a silly and coincidental reason why the all-girl band was named so. Maybe. Overall, this second OVA isn’t that bad but it won’t evoke any nostalgic manner for me for this series but it is still a fun watch after all these years. But thanks for evoking my suspicions in even eating well cooked liver…

Mekakucity Actors

November 23, 2014

Sometimes being minimal has its good points. You don’t expose too much but yet it keeps you intrigue of what is happening or going to happen. That is why in the case of Mekakucity Actors, reading the main synopsis may not reveal much and thus the reason it got my attention and interest to go watch it. All that it is being said is that strange incidents occur between August 14th and 15th that brings a group of boys and girls together. Each of them has a secret power involving their eyes as they try to unravel the mystery and truth surrounding the strange incidents. Doesn’t that sound intriguing enough to take a peek? Well, I hope I’ll be able to stomach the truth because you know, they say some truths are better not known.

Episode 1
Shintaro Kisaragi must be real tired after hearing his computer avatar, Ene blab and complain about whatever. It’s like a never ending nag. He remembers downloading it from an unknown email and ever since she started living in his PC. She throws a tantrum to buy some stuff she wants but he doesn’t need. She continues to tease his otaku NEET status and this causes him to accidentally spill Coke on his keyboard. As the computer is the very essence of his life, he needs to find a replacement but all online stores are closed. Looks like he has to head out to the real store to buy one. Along the way, a grenade catches Ene’s eye and she wants him to buy it. No way! Accidentally he bumps into a hooded girl, Tsubomi Kido but she doesn’t mind. However she gives him a piercing stare. Suddenly the mall is being hijacked by terrorists in joker masks as they also seize the security and computer control. All the unfortunate shoppers become their hostage as the boss makes his demands for a ransom of billion yen to be transferred into his account in 30 minutes or else… Shintaro fears what will happen if the mall owner fails to pay. I mean, a billion yen is hell lot of money. Then there is this carefree guy, Shuuya Kano next to Shintaro who has time to joke around. But Shintaro assures if they can distract the guards and free his finger cuffs, the odds they can escape is 100%. Sounds good? He and his friend, Kousuke Seto find him interesting. Soon the boss beats up one of his henchman thinking he hit his head. Since Kano is laughing, Shintaro blows his top at him so the boss gets rough with him. He mocks Shintaro a shut-in so Shintaro tells this bastard off he should shut himself in forever. Then all the shelves and electronics start to tumble and fall. This is Shintaro’s big chance as he plugs his computer into some terminal to let Ene take control of everything and save the day.

Episode 2
Super idol Momo Kisaragi is running late. I suppose with the crowd in her way, she misses the bus. If that is not bad enough, she did very badly on her recent test. Scoring a mere 2 marks?! Even her teacher Kenjirou Tateyama doesn’t even know how this happened. Uh huh. She put manga-like answers in her test! Even worse, she tried eating her notes because she believed it was the fastest way to help memorize! He reminds her at this rate she will have to repeat another year and since she fears that, she will study for real. This means studying this stack of papers during the holidays… After Momo gets a call from her manager of the change in her schedule, she remembers her past. She thinks it was her fault that daddy isn’t coming back because she almost drowned. When she won first prize in some drawing contest, a talent scout came looking for her but mommy won’t have her daughter into this idol business as she is still young. There are others jealous about her achievements because she always raked in top awards, the rest feels sidelined and their efforts go unrewarded. They hate her for always being in the centre of attention. When her mother gets hospitalized, that’s when Momo decided to make the call to the idol agency. Back in real time, she catches glimpse of a store selling items on promotional offer. She bumps into a kid, Hibiya Amamiya who has the same intention. Because he keeps calling her a granny, she punches his gut! This attracts the attention of others. Recognizing she is the idol, they start chasing her and she drags the kid along. I don’t know how far she ran but eventually they got separated and Momo ends up in some strange place. She laments she can’t win. All she wanted was to be normal and relax but it turned into a mad house. Kido spots her and reports back that the target is spotted.

Episode 3
Kido confronts Momo and wants her to come with her since she is like them. She scares her a little by turning invisible. Momo faints and wakes up in the base of Mekakushi Dan (Blindfold Gang). The gang includes Kido the commander, Kano, Seto and Marry Kozakura. They explain each of them have special powers within their eyes like Kido who can turn invisible. They believe Momo also has because of her idol posters, they know she doesn’t wear contact lens to make them red. She admits she had them when she was young but couldn’t remember how or why. They want to help her control it so she won’t mess up like today. Marry’s clumsiness causes her to spill the drinks. Momo’s handphone is busted. Because Kano laughs his ass off over her clumsiness, Marry freezes him. That is her power. So here they are at the mall and Momo feels embarrassed to see spot big brother, Shintaro. Kano again laughs like mad as they note the resemblance. Thanks to Kido’s invisibility, Momo doesn’t attract attention. Suddenly the mall is hijacked and since Momo is worried about her brother, Seto and Kano will go see him and want the girls to stay put. Kido gives Seto permission to use his power. Kano sends a photo back that they and Shintaro are fine. Kano’s power is to deceive the eyes and allows him to alter how he is perceived by others. He made it look like they were being tied up by the terrorists. Kido explains Seto’s power to read people’s minds. He hates it and rarely uses it. The girls need to do something to help too. When Kano replies back about Shintaro’s 100% distraction success, Marry gets clumsy with a ‘weapon’. Kido grabs it in time but it hits the terrorist boss’ head (she is invisible). Momo gets an idea to create a distraction. By that time when the boss gets rough on Shintaro, Momo runs around the aisle and once the time is right, they shove the shelves and drop the electronics. Marry is natural with her clumsiness… That was how the day is saved. Marry freezes the terrorists. Momo sees her brother unconscious.

Episode 4
Hibiya thinks he has seen Momo somewhere before… He thinks she is a wanted fugitive trying to kidnap him! Look at the posters behind, will ‘ya? Hibiya thinks this dinosaur keychain will please his cousin whom he has a crush on, Hiyori Asahina. However she is a pure b*tch. She doesn’t care the least bit about him and runs her mouth. I wonder how he can take all of that. Hiyori instead prefers the sleepy blur head Konoha. Yeah. He doesn’t even remember her despite being introduced many times. Sad? Anyhow Hiyori still loves his cool mysterious dreamy side. What does she see in him? Now that he is awake, she forces Hibiya to go shopping for dinner. During dinner, Hibiya is surprised to see Momo on TV and for the first time realizes she is an idol. Because Hiyori is a big fan, she wonders if he got her autograph. Sorry, didn’t. Time for another round of scolding that he is useless, etc. Hibiya says it can’t be helped since it’s his first time in the big city. She is going to tell his dad he came here with her but he pleads not to. He lied to come here. Seems when Hiyori called him to go to the city to be her porter or something, Hibiya won’t let this chance slip but his father wouldn’t allow it. Each time he begged, he is thrown out of the house. The wild dogs look hungry… So he lied about some prominent Indian guy is coming and he could learn some Indian culture. Hibiya needs to tell Hiyori his feelings. He meets her at the park but she follows a black cat. However she gets run over by a truck. A dream? Next time, he takes her hand and run but she breaks free and runs away. The concrete beams fall on her as that cat is looking again… Uhm… Another dream? He is going to do it right this time. He takes her hand tight but when he gets on top the pedestrian bridge, there is that cat. She slips and falls off. This is getting annoying. Another chance? So once again at the park. He lets her go after the cat but before the truck can run over her, he pulls her back and gets hit instead. He gives that I-have-won-and-screw-you look to that cat.

Episode 5
Shintaro is in this dream with Ayano. She reminds him he can only see her and will wait till he remembers. He wakes up in a bedroom thinking he has been kidnapped by the terrorists. But the room feels so girly. Ene knows everything and is willing to tell him provided if he strips down to his underwear and begs. Marry just happen to come in and sees this unholy position… Tied up and explained the real situation, not only he is painted as a pervert and an otaku with no sex appeal, he realized he has become part of their gang because Ene agreed to join them. I don’t understand Ene and Kano’s challenge with each other. Ene throws Shintaro’s secret leg fetish collection photos while Kano exposes Marry’s embarrassing sunfish poems… As Shintaro leaves himself, he sees Konoha bugging everyone as he is looking for Hibiya and Hiyori. He looks like a retard asking questions. He doesn’t even know what the police is… The rest of Mekakushi Dan members are taking a walk. Kido is worried that Shintaro went out by himself and there is a danger he might expose their group. They explain their relationship with Seto and Kano growing up in the same orphanage and Seto recently found Marry and brought her into the group (the reason she sticks close to him). Kido might be the leader now but she was not the one who found it. The original founding leader died 2 years ago via suicide. She decides to bring them to her grave and ‘introduce’ the new members. Shintaro is just annoyed with Konoha. Really a retard… Giving vague descriptions of the kids do not help. Oh look. There they are right before their eyes. Just that they’re being kidnapped!!! Since that is a bad thing, Konoha springs into action and lifts up the truck before breaking open the door! Those kidnappers better run for their life. Suddenly a truck is going to smash into them from behind but it gets engulf in some void. When Kido and co reach the graveyard, Ene is shocked to see the founding leader is Ayano.

Episode 6
Before we knew Ene as Shintaro’s annoying email buddy, she was a moody high school girl named Takane Enomoto. I’m not sure what club is this but it seems Haruka Kokonose (before we know him as Konoha) is the only other classmate in Tateyama’s class. She isn’t thrilled that they need to do something for the cultural festival but until dreamy and positive Haruka suggested a shooting gallery. Takane beats a veteran pro in this Dead Bullet game and they think she is that awesome person although she tries to hide that fact. Kido and Kano come in to try. Although Kido looks meek, she is really good and despite the bugs suddenly showing up in the game, Takane wins by the skin of her teeth. Of course Kano knew Kido was cheating and wants her to apologize but she runs away. Word spreads that Takane is indeed that Dead Bullet genius and scores of players come to just play with her. She cowers in fear inside the room and explains several stuff like how Ene is her online nickname. Haruka is pretty impressed with it and this gives Takane the motivation to play and beat all those guys flat! 20th consecutive win! Till she met her match with Shintaro. He derides her sloppy style and weak in reading the situations. This riles her up and she makes a bet with him. However Takane lost and Shintaro scores a perfect game. Unbelievable. Making deals for winning isn’t his thing so he doesn’t want to go through what was betted. Later Ayano goes to apologize to Takane for Shintaro’s behaviour. Takane learns she is Tateyama’s daughter and will be enrolling in this school next year along with Shintaro. They become friends. Although Takane’s booth somewhat won first place for the cultural festival, the duo failed their exams and have to sit through summer vacation with supplementary classes.

Episode 7
On the day Haruka collapsed and is admitted into ICU, Takane couldn’t stop blaming herself and felt he would hate her. Ayano subsequently learns of this and lectures her to go be by his side because it feels like she is ignoring him. She encourages her to confess her true feelings and in worst case if she is rejected, she can offer her shoulder to cry on. So after much pondering and Takane wants to go see him, she suddenly collapses. Before her body disappears and became what we see her today, she last saw Tateyama before her. It would have been better if she said I love you to that person in front of his face. This is what Ene pretty much remembers and her memories were a little fuzzy and didn’t think about Ayano for a while. Kido realizes she is Takane and similarly, Ene realizes she is that girl who played Dead Bullet with her. What a small world. The gang considers Ayano their big sister. Kano deduces that they are all the same because of the big clue of what Ene said about collapsing and having a new body. That happened to them too. Suddenly Seto calls them to say that Shintaro and his ‘friends’ are in trouble. If it was a big shock to Momo that Ene was Shintaro’s senior, what more this otaku has got ‘friends’. So they leave to go see what is happening as Kano cleans up the grave. He ‘updates’ Ayano of the development but still laments her death. He realizes Ene is eavesdropping. Ene explains Shintaro was close to Ayano and she blames herself for not being able to save her. He shut himself in after Ayano’s death 2 years ago and he regrets it so much it gives him nightmares. She is worried he will fall to pieces if he is left alone. He doesn’t know she is Takane and if he does find out, she fears it might dig up other unpleasant memories. This is what she can do for him and doesn’t want to lose anybody anymore. Kano hints Ayano wasn’t the only person she lost that day. That other person who meant more than anybody else to her also died. It seems Ene had started to forget about Haruka, the same she is trying to do to make Shintaro forget about Ayano. Flashback to Haruka on that day when he collapsed. No thanks to the weak body he was born in. As Tateyama watches him, Haruka laments he hates this body of his because he wants to continue having fun with everyone. He is shown a strong body (Konoha) however he argues he just wants to be normal. In that case he will become a living husk that has lost all his memories. Haruka didn’t want it either but there is no turning back now. He disappears. He wants to see Takane.

Episode 8
Meeting Shintaro at the hospital, he is frantic trying to explain what happened especially with that void suddenly popping up and swallowing things before his eyes. Hibiya rushes out from his room to go save Hiyori. Shintaro wants to know about Konoha’s disappearance and Hibiya instantly knew he wasn’t dreaming. However he suddenly collapses and Kido understands what Shintaro saw. They bring Hibiya back to their base to rest. Kido explains his eyes were red and it’s a sign his ability is starting to manifest. Till they know what it is, they can’t let him walk free. Kido tells the Kisaragi siblings that she along with Kano and Seto come from the same orphanage and were very close. Ayano’s father took them in and it was mostly to get rid of them troublemakers. They also discuss that something must be happening to bind them all like this. Everyone had a little run in when they were young and almost died. Kano got attacked by a robber, Seto nearly drowned with his dog and Kido who lives with her sister and their house caught fire. Momo remembers she nearly drowned at the beach but her father saved her. Oddly, they resurrect with strange powers. However the void seems to swallow up other people too and unlike them they don’t return like Momo’s dad. They aren’t sure what it is but they haven’t given up hope yet and need to get all the information and partners they can get. That’s why Kido approached Momo. Kido tells Shintaro that Ene is Takane and he is pretty shocked to know the truth. They don’t want to tell all this to Hibiya because it might be confusing. However he heard everything and is adamant he can’t leave Hiyori in that crazy place. As the girls go after him, Shintaro stays back to watch the house. He goes to Marry’s room and sees her sleeping. He sees a group photo with Ayano in it and his eyes turn red…

Episode 9
Tateyama just adopted Kido, Kano and Seto and with Ayano they became well acquainted. It was a happy time where they felt they were like a real family. But tragedy struck when their parents got caught in a landslide and their mom went missing. Years later, Ayano accidentally entered her dad’s forbidden lab and saw a journal recorded by her mom. It details some fairytale about a monster that ends in tragedy as she is forced to leave her family and vanished into an isolated world. Her children gained abilities when they nearly died and felt like a bad dream as something swallowed them up. She needed to continue her research on this new world the monster created and why it swallows children and gives them power. She has also been trying to locate missing people but there is not enough information to locate them and the fear that the children’s bodies might undergo some change in the future. Also at that time, Ayano seems to have taken a liking for Shintaro. One stormy night she notices her father is acting strange so she consults the journal. It is believe the children’s power source come from the countless snakes on a serpent’s head. This serpent is also the one who suggested the monster to create a new world. Since Kano is around, Ayano felt the need to tell this secret and also help her out. While she goes through her dad’s lab, Kano had to impersonate as Ayano and attend her class! Seems Tateyama has an ability that only manifests itself during night. You can call it his split personality. He is possessed by that serpent and it has been using his body to raise money from various sources to gather all the snakes here. It is believed it is trying to create a new Medusa in this world by summoning snakes over to this side. That is why people like Haruka and Takane became sacrifices. Because the snakes cannot come here without physical bodies, that’s why they had empty husks that were devoid of life swallowed into the other world. The snakes that have their bodies will begin gathering around their queen. One of them is the vessel for the queen. Guess? Ene is surprised to see her body in a lab tube.

Episode 10
Azami and her daughter, Shion are waiting for husband and father, Tsukihiko to return. Little do they know that a group of people have gathered outside their house to kill the monster as they believe she has brainwashed Tsukihiko to attack the village eventually. They ambush the place and shoot her. As they are about to kill Shion, Azami revives and uses all her various Eye powers on them from creating fear to killing them and reading their minds where Tsukihiko is held. Then she realizes her family will only be hurt if she is around and decides to disappear so that they could be happy. She laments her selfish dream and hopes Shion won’t use those powers. Seasons passed and Shion has a daughter named Marry. They too are living a happy life till one day Marry is being tormented by a couple of guys. Shion uses her power to turn one of them into stone but it causes her to cough out blood. I think she got clobbered. In the other world, the snake mocks Azami that she dragged her children into this mess and she is the source of their tragedy. Try as she might, she cannot escape her binds. The snake says something about the order she gave to this world to swallow up those who die on August 15th, cannot be changed. When young Seto was lost in the forest, his mind reading starts to act up. He heard voices pleading for help as she is always alone. This leads him to a house where Marry lives alone. She fears him at first because looking into her eyes will turn him into stone. However it didn’t and he approaches her to give her some earphone. They became acquainted since. Back in present time, Marry wakes up but Shintaro isn’t around. She spots Konoha sleeping outside and brings him in. Seems he cannot remember things. The only thing he remembers is that he wants to make friends. Marry decides to introduce him to her friends after she sees a commotion on TV that a crowd is building up and chanting for Momo. At midnight.

Episode 11
Shintaro hears a voice who tells him the dreams he has seen are actually memories. Long ago, he and the queen made a vow to each other that this tragedy will never repeat again. Now that he knows the story, what is he going to do for the future? He takes a scissors and stabs through his throat! Momo and Kido finally catch Hibiya but they are captured by the same people who tried to kidnap Hibiya and Hiyori earlier. Kano remembers what happened. Ayano told him the snake is possessing dad and keeping him alive to grant his wish to see mom again. It is possible if the monster is created here and it is also believed anybody could be reunited with anyone sucked into the other world then. But to create that monster, they need to gather all the snakes that are acting as surrogate lives. In short, those kids must die. Remember, their power = snake. All snakes must fuse into one. Kano disagreed with this but Ayano thought he could talk her way through the snake. She tries to convince him that the kids don’t want to die and be together but the snake views humans and fools and all that matters is the human wish. Ayano has a theory. Since he needs all the snakes, what happens if she has a power and kills herself? What if she doesn’t return from the other world? That would foil his plan immediately. There would be no further need to kill all the other kids. Ayano gets swallowed much to Kano’s dismay. But it seems the snake doesn’t seem fazed. Kano cannot raise his hand against him or kill him because he keeps reminding that he is the one keeping his dad alive. But the snake isn’t going to abandon his plan despite Ayano sacrificing herself. All he needs to do now is restart everything and start from scratch. Shortly after Ayano’s death, Kido becomes sad but changes the way she talks to be strong. Kano suggests forming a group. Back in present time, Seto comes by the grave to pick up Kano. But Kano has become tired of everything. So sick of everything. So pissed of everything. Seto allows him to cry on his shoulder and knows he has been shouldering the burden by himself ever since. Hibiya, Momo and Kido are put in some cell. Since Hibiya is very desperate to save Hiyori (but short of calling her his girlfriend), Momo has an idea to send the message out to others that they are here. She is going to sing while Kido will hold back her power as much as possible. Her voice permeates throughout the city and this attracts everyone to their place. They are soon reunited with Konoha, Marry, Kano, Seto and Takane. They welcome Hibiya to the group.

Episode 12
The octet are making their way through the lab. They discuss the snake’s plan to remove their snakes which is in the form of their special powers. If that happens, they will die. Because Marry is the queen, the reason why the rest gathers around her. They encounter several guards who try to stop them. Nothing a little use of their super powers would fix things. The snake is expecting their arrival because as long as he can keep granting wishes, he will continue to exist in this world. Thanks to the complexity of the maze, they get lost. Kano suggests Hibiya to use his power of clairvoyance to see things far away (he knows about it since it was stated in their mom’s notebook). He manages to activate his power but how will they get to the room beneath them? Obviously the fastest way as Konoha does is break a big hole! Meanwhile Shintaro and Ayano see Haruka lying in his bed and are here to pick him up. The octet faces off with the snake who is in total possession of Tateyama’s body. Since there is time, he tells them the monster story. The monster who lived alone in the forest met a young boy who brought her away. She made many friends and for the first time knew what happiness was. One day they were all killed so the monster out of desperation prayed and wished to live those days again. In short, Marry is the one who is creating and wishing this world. If not for this wish of hers to see them, this tragedy wouldn’t be happening. Each of the tragedy occurred so she could see her friends again. This in return allows the snake to exist again and again. Despite this, Marry cannot let go of her wish. So what does she do? Wish again. Thus the never ending loop.

The snake then shoots Konoha’s body and takes over it since it is the strongest. He starts picking them off one by one and this causes Marry to activate her wish. But her friends assure her that they’ll be together forever and don’t have to say goodbye. Yeah, don’t listen to that jerk. The snake is surprised when Ayano and Shintaro enter the scene. He never expected this. Ayano mentions her power is the project what she feels into others. With Shintaro remembering everything now, Ayano gives Marry every last of her feelings. The snake tries to stop everything but it is too late. Now Marry has remembered everything and the wish the snake had granted for so long ends today. Tateyama is before the snake and thanks him for everything. His wish of being with his wife is already granted. So they’re going to the heavens together? Marry believes the future will no longer be some fantasy. It will be their reality. The snake desperately wants her to make a wish. Haruka has one. He wants to keep his word. Let’s say it wasn’t the kind of wish he was hoping for. With that, he disappears into the abyss. Shion appears before Marry and assures her everything is alright. Noting that she has made lots of friends, she asks if she is happy now. See that big smile on her face? That’s your answer. In the aftermath, Shintaro meets Ayano in the hot summer as they meet up with the rest of Mekakushi Dan. Marry narrates if she went back to that time, it is possible a future like that could have happened. Had she not met him, the world might be a dull place. She is sure Shintaro will still remember all of them tomorrow.

Slithery Deception…
Despite the slow and confusing pace of the series, once you are able to put the pieces of the puzzle together and see the bigger picture, everything starts to (almost) make sense. Everything seems to be happening and taking place in just a day as we are mostly thrown flashbacks and the past of the characters that led up to this day. I would say that the execution of the plot and revelation are nicely done (but not necessarily perfect) although as I have said it may be a little confusing at first. I may not understand the deeper aspects to everything but eventually even if dumb guys like me pay a little attention, I’ll ultimately figure out what is happening in general (if I don’t really b*tch about going into details, that is). It could have been worse if they executed it like that looping arc in that Haruhi series. Because from what I understand, they’ve been looping and resetting for who knows how many times. Until Shintaro remembers everything and they break the pattern. Something like that. I think.

Although I have to admit that I am still trying to figure out and put together the revelation that is revealed in the final episode. I’m going to take my time in digesting that. I hope I can understand. Without resorting to make some sort of wish that ends in tragedy… As usual, there are a few things that are left unanswered. The biggest one of them is what happened to Hiyori? Did she really die for good? I thought they were going to bring her back like the others who were swallowed? But Ayano came back, didn’t she? (As I found out later, Hiyori did die and this brought a lot of depression to Hibiya). And how did Takane exactly get her body back? Therefore reflecting back on how the series ended, sometimes I feel the ending is a little bit rushed.

I have mixed feelings for the character development part. There are 9 main characters (10 if you include Ayano who is the former member of Mekakushi Dan) and with only a dozen episodes, there isn’t any major development for them and sometimes it feels like how their destinies intertwine and their pasts are just convenience for the events that happened. We have a few episodes that give them some prominence but that is just about it. Take for instance, Momo. After her prominent second episode, she seems to have slipped into the shadows of Mekakushi Dan as though she is just some side character till the penultimate episode whereby she gets to use her power to attract everyone. Feels as though it is to remind us that she is still around and useful. Hibiya and Konoha feel like late bloomers since they only come into the scene and make their overall impact later in the series.

Same case with Marry. She’s supposed to be some big revelation, right? Instead she spends most of her time as a shy character and probably the group’s cutie mascot. So when her powers start awakening in the end, it ended so fast that it hardly made any impact at all. So much so I thought that her character’s story has been relegated to that play as an epilogue right after the ending credits in most episodes which depict the ‘full’ story of the monster right as an epilogue. As more episodes pass by, you’ll definitely put the pieces of the puzzle of this monster fairytale together. From how it all began due to her loneliness and time in darkness, her journey to the human world, her interaction with humans but only learnt the negative emotions of pain, fear and despair, till she met someone and they fell in love with each other and started a family, and the tragedy that starts pulling them apart when she created a new world thinking they could live happily ever after.

Instead of Marry being the heroine or turning point as I thought-cum-expected she would have been, we have an otaku NEET for who knows where the hell he has been and a girl who is long thought to be dead, to show up and save the day. Even the last minute revelation of their powers still feels confusing. Still trying to make sense out of that. The rest of the other characters stay mostly the same as they are (not counting their flashback before they died and got their special powers) like Konoha who feels like a robot thanks to his emotionless expressions, Kano the carefree one, Kido the serious leader, Seto’s kind-heartedness (which in a way makes him pretty boring since he doesn’t like using his power) and Ene’s cheeky personality as opposed to her grumpy one when she was human. Therefore trying to spread out the focus of each character may have done more harm than good in this case making it hard for them to be memorable individually.

I feel the supernatural powers they possess are somewhat lacking. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not. Because it would be bad if they keep spamming the use of their individual eye powers and it would turn this series into some sort of super power show instead of trying to focus on the story, drama and the characters. However the scarce use of super powers means it doesn’t feel that they are connected to the series. Besides, you don’t really see the effects of the super powers like Kano’s visual deception, Seto’s mind reading or even Kido’s invisibility. Some only were used once like Hibiya and Shintaro (in which I realized much later that his ability is to remember everything he sees and that includes the different routes undertaken in the past – so how did he forget in the first place? Perhaps every reset or loop makes him lose his memories?).

The first thing that struck me was the very unique animation, art and drawing style. Instantly it brings to mind the SHAFT studio. The creative and unique angles and visuals definitely add to the intriguing watch. So much so I thought I was actually watching another Monogatari Series episode! Yup. There is that SHAFT trademark head tilt and face zooming in. All there. Sometimes the characters may look awkward and the animation a little off and even reusing some of them. So if you can’t really take all this ‘inconsistency’, you’ll find lots of faults in this department and be annoyed rather than impressed. Also, the colouring and hues may seem jarring and ‘inconsistent’ but this is all part and parcel of the unique style. It may give a feeling as though the producers didn’t feel like completing the colouring for this scene or simply put in colours they feel like according to their mood. So if you are the kind of person who prefers to watch consistent colours in every scene or character, you’d be pulling out your hairs till you are bald with this one. In addition, you not only get one end card illustration but two of them at the end of each episode. All are illustrated by different people. Mostly are good (but of course) while some have that comical effect and a handful feels a little abstract. Come to think of it, doesn’t Marry look a bit like Alice In Wonderland?

As I later found out, this anime was based on a Vocaloid song series called Kagerou Daze created by Jin. No wonder for every opening, ending and insert theme song has this guy featuring another singer singing it. Songs play an important in this show. Furthermore, I noticed that every insert song sung is like as though they are singing what is happening, the story so far, etc. What I mean is that instead of putting it in dialogue, they turn it into a song. That’s like partially making it a musical, right? So it was quite refreshing in a way to hear the story in the form of a song. Some of them sound really good especially episode 9’s opener, Ayano No Koufuku Riron featuring Aki Okui. The main opening theme is Daze featuring Maria from Garnidelia. Headphone Actor is the special opening for episode 6 featuring Lisa. The slow paced Days featuring Lia serves as the main ending theme. The other special ending themes are Yuukei Yesterday featuring Lisa (episode 6), Lost Time Memory featuring Kouta Matsuyama from Byee The Round (episode 8) and rock based Summertime Record featuring Takuro Sugawara (episode 12).

Voice acting is pretty good with Kana Asumi in her very identifiable lively trademark voice as Ene and Takane. Kana Hanazawa may be voicing Marry, another one of those retard character roles but she makes this one look cute. Heck, I think all her retard character roles sound cute. Other casts include Yuko Kaida as Kido (Ryoumou in Ikkitousen), Takuma Terashima as Shintaro (Stone River in Tantei Opera Milky Holmes), Shinnosuke Tachibana as Kano (Taito in Itsuka Tenma No Kurousagi), Souichirou Hoshi as Seto (Son Goku in Saiyuki series), Nanami Kashiyama as Momo (Utae in R-15), Misuzu Togashi as Hibiya (Origami in Date A Live), Mamoru Miyano as Konoha (Light in Death Note), Mai Nakahara as Ayano (Juvia in Fairy Tail), Keiji Fujiwara as Tateyama (Sven in Black Cat), Kotori Koiwai as Hiyori (Iwai in Dansai Bunri No Crime Edge), Satomi Arai as Azami (Shirai in To Aru Kagaku No Railgun), Akemi Okumura as Shion (Nami in One Piece) and Takehito Koyasu as Tsukihiko (Takasugi in Gintama).

Overall, this series just like any other animes, isn’t perfect and has its own flaws. Despite some of the setbacks and a handful of mixed reviews I read online (briefly browsing through Google, of course), this series is still interesting on its own. Those not familiar with SHAFT’s style of anime or into this kind of stories might find it a little difficult to digest and may take some time ‘deciphering’ what is going on. Not to say that I could really understand everything. But that’s the thing. The mystery was interesting enough for me to look forward to the next episode and what happens next. So I suppose that counts a lot, right? So give this series a chance and sit through a dozen episodes (it is a hell lot better than 3 digit animes that are still ongoing. Looking at yous, pirate and ninja…) instead giving up after the first or second. But I’m not going to rewatch it again and again like as though I’m going through some eternal loop only to break out once I understand everything. I think I’ll then lose my eye power for staring at the monitor for so long.

Fate/Zero

March 3, 2013

“People die when they are killed!”. Hah. I can’t resist using that line whenever I remember about the Fate series. However, don’t expect any of such bloopers in Fate/Zero because it’s going to be grim. Much grimmer than before. This series is a prequel to the Fate/Stay Night anime and it tells the events that happened 10 years before that fateful tragedy that engulfed the entire city of Fuyuki in flames.

As those who are familiar with the series or even played the visual novel game that it is based on, the story line pits seven different Mages against each other in the battle over the Holy Grail. Each Mage will summon a Servant class, supposedly Heroic Spirits from the past to do battle on their behalf and the last remaining Master-Servant will win the right to the Grail and get any wish granted. Sounds easy? Well, the previous 3 Grail Wars ended in an inconclusive fashion. Meaning, no real winner is produced. So you can see why the lineage of Mages are getting desperate to win this fourth Grail War at any cost. Will a new history be written or will history just repeat itself. Well, the answer is clear. For those who have at least watched Fate/Stay Night, that is.

Episode 1
In this 47 minutes prologue, we go back 8 years ago at Einzbern Castle, Kiritsugu Emiya’s wife, Irisviel “Iri” von Einzbern gave birth to a girl, Illyasviel (Ilya). However he feels he has no right to hold her and will be responsible for his wife’s death though Iri accepts her destiny. She believes the Holy Grail will save him. Next change in scene to three years ago somewhere in Italy. Kirei Kotomine talks his father (in real life and occupation) Risei and Tokiomi Tohsaka about the Command Spell he received on his hand as proof of been chosen by the Grail despite having no relation to magic. He is given the basic explanation about the Holy Grail War at Fuyuki City, the summoning of Servants by Masters and how the Church will act as judge during the battle since Mage Associations tend to favour their own kind. They also discuss about the Grail that will appear in Fuyuki does not belong to the Son of God but too powerful to ignore it. They devise what-ifs scenarios should it fall into the wrong and right hands. Thus Kirei’s participation in this war is to assure Tokiomi’s victory though they’ll be acting as enemies as the Einzbern and Matou families have forgotten the wish they once shared. Thus Kirei will be transferred from the Church to Mage’s Association where he’ll become Tokiomi’s student for 3 years and study magic. Though Kirei still has his suspicions over why the Grail had chosen him, Risei notes he recently lost his wife so a change of goal in life may just be what he needs to recover. A year ago in Fuyuki City, Kariya Matou pays his childhood friend Aoi Tohsaka and her daughter, Rin a visit. But he is devastated to learn the younger daughter Sakura has been adopted by the Matou family. So he goes to confront the family he left, the patriarch of the Matous, Zouken (looks like that baby boss in Half Life) to make a deal with him. Knowing he wants the Grail for immortality and will toss away Sakura after he has obtained it, in exchange to release Sakura, he will win the Grail for him. Can somebody who hasn’t practise magic become a powerful Mage in a span of 1 year? But it is already too late as Zouken has tossed Sakura into the bug room! GROSS! BUGS CRAWLING EVERYWHERE OVER THAT POOR GIRL!!! I don’t know if she’s dead or alive. Of course alive but ‘dead’. If Kariya is serious in saving her and take her place for a week, he’ll consider. So be it.

Kiritsugu and Iri learn another Master has been chosen by the Grail, Kayneth El-Melloi Archibald from the Mage’s Association, Clock Tower. At London, Kayneth is lecturing the basics and importance of bloodline in magic to his students. The reason being he has read a thesis of one of his students of his ideas about wizardry in the new century. Something about those without the bloodline of Mages can also do magic. In short, he finds it a complete nonsense and a juvenile’s fantasy. That kid, Waver Velvet just thought he wanted to point out issues the Mage Association was reluctant to address. Unfortunately Kayneth continues to mock his stand and he became the laughing stock of the class. Not pleased with the way things turned out, Waver bumps into a lazy delivery guy who wants Waver to pass an important package to Kayneth. So what’s a vengeful kid got to do than to open the package himself? It contains a relic that is needed to summon a Servant. Then he researches on the Holy Grail War and finds out Kayneth is participating in it. He learns more, its history how the Holy Grail was founded by the 3 families of Einzbern, Makiri and Tohsaka. Since the Grail can only answer 1 wish, it soon turned into a big bloody battle. Ever since, the Holy Grail appears once in 60 years in Fuyuki City and it selects 7 Masters the right to summon their Servants of different classes to a battle to the death.

In a secret hideout, Kirei has his own Servant, Hassan the Assassin. Kirei and Tokiomi discuss the Einzbern taking in an outsider 9 years ago out of the blue. He is Kiritsugu and they think they must be desperate to win the Grail to cast away their pride in pure blood. Further details reveal that he is a skilled mercenary and earned the nicknamed of Mage Killer because of he has no qualms in using underhanded tactics to kill his targets. Since he lacks the pride of a Mage, it might be money that is motivating him. At the same time Kiritsugu is going through the list of known Masters. Apart from himself, Tokiomi, Kariya and Kayneth, he notes Kirei’s strange personal history. He seems to be working his way up the path of the Church but suddenly leaves it to join its secret organization. He was also once an Executor, another name for what Kiritsugu once did as a mercenary. He feels odd he one he masters something, he throws it away and moves on to the next type without looking back. Why is he risking his life for the Grail then since he has no wish and doesn’t believe in anything? Similarly, Kirei is intrigued with Kiritsugu during his time as a mercenary in warzones. It’s like he chased after death and was obsessed with it. His string of battles came to a sudden halt 9 years ago and must have found what he was seeking in the Einzberns. But what was he seeking in those battles then?

Kariya’s face is really messed up. I’m not sure about the bugs crawling inside the veins of his face!!! FREAKING SCARY!!! Zouken is amazed he could last for a year and had made some progress as a Mage. Waver is happy that the Grail has chosen him because he too has a Command Spell on his hand. He goes to have breakfast with his grandparents downstairs but in actual fact he has cast a spell to make them think he is their grandson back from overseas as an exchange student. Kiritsugu and Iri discuss the Excalibur relic. Kiritsugu notes that despite the Servants being heroes from the past, as long as they are Servants to their Masters, they are no more than just mere tools. Knowing this relic will summon him Arthur Pendragon and the best Saber class, he figures out a strategy on how to use this Servant. Meanwhile Rin packs her bags and is to leave with Aoi to go live with her family (the war is coming). She doesn’t like Kirei because he couldn’t promise her to protect her dad (Tokiomi) during the battle. She won’t forgive him if her father is hurt during the fight. Kirei sees Tokiomi and just in time, he has received a relic from the package. Kariya talks to Sakura as the latter fears he might be turning into a different person. He tells her he will be busy with an upcoming ‘job’ and once he is done, he promises to bring her along with Rin and Aoi to somewhere fun. Somewhere faraway. It will be like old times. He goes to see Zouken who has made preparations to summon his Servant. Likewise all the other Masters too prepare and chant the right verses to summon their very own Servant. If you have watched the prequel, you would have known Kiritsugu got Saber while Tokiomi got Archer (Gilgamesh as he was known and we are more familiar with in Fate/Stay Night).

Episode 2
Waver gets Iskandar the King of Conquerors who has been summoned as Rider. The kid isn’t pleased Rider is stealing books of… The world map? Preparations for war? Okay. But war cannot be waged without maps? Hmm… Maybe you need to know where you are and what you’ll be conquering. Talking about the Grail, Rider hopes he won’t wish for world domination because the world can’t serve 2 lords. Waver mentions his desire was to have everyone at Clock Tower treat him fairly but Rider slaps him for having such small ambition. If he really wants people to respect him, maybe he should use the Grail to grow another 30cm. Was that a joke or sarcasm? Waver is pissed and wants to use his Command Spell on him to show who is boss. But he calms down upon knowing one can only use it 3 times for absolute obedience. Since Waver wants a demonstration of his power, with a swing of Rider’s sword, a couple of heavenly bulls complete with a chariot zap down from the sky. Rider tells Waver to find him another Hero or two if he wants the Grail. Until then he shall entertain himself with the world maps. He loves maps, doesn’t he? Kiritsugu is spending some time with Ilya as Saber watches on. Thinking if this is his true self, she feels she might have offended him when he summoned her. But as Iri points out, it wasn’t the fact that King Arthur was a woman that Kiritsugu is upset. Rather, how the people around her forced a young girl into taking up the role as king and that she herself accepted that fate. Saber feels Kiritsugu and Iri’s desire to save the world is right because she too wants to save Britain.

The recent string of murders are done by this young adult name Ryuunosuke Uryuu. Yeah, he is in another one of those killings. Each murder has baffled the authorities because there are weird pentagrams drawn. Seems Ryuunosuke found out his ancestors were trying to summon demons and he thought he had to find out if they really exist. Plus, the media is labelling him one and if demons do exist, wouldn’t that be an insult to them? Yeah, he kept a boy of the murdered family alive just in case the demon needs sacrifice. Suddenly a Command Spell appears on Ryuunosuke’s hand. He has summoned Caster (fish eyes?). Ryuunosuke doesn’t understand this Grail thing because he mentions his hobby is killing. Especially women and children. Offering the kid as sacrifice, Caster surprisingly lets the boy go. When the kid least expected it, Caster unleashes some ferocious darkness to violently kill the kid. I’m not sure about his explanation about the more intense the fear, the more the emotions die and that this is the taste of fresh terror and death. Hell, Ryuunosuke doesn’t understand what is happening but finds him so cool that he wants to follow his footsteps. He couldn’t care less about the Grail as long as he could kill. Caster is glad his master is understanding. Ryuunosuke asks his name so Caster takes on the nickname of Bluebeard. Kirei has learnt the final Servant has been summoned. He sends Assassin to kill Tokiomi by infiltrating his house. Looks like he is going to make his first move of betrayal. Assassin waltzes easily through the magic field but when he gets to the main magic generator, Archer slays him with his rain of swords.

Episode 3
Tokiomi thanks Gilgamesh that everything is going as planned. His actions will prove further his status as King of Heroes. Gilgamesh on the other hand wants to explore this age and see what is important to add to his treasure collection. Failing which, Tokiomi will pay with his life for wasting his time summoning him here. Waver is happy that Assassin is dead but Rider doesn’t seem to give a damn. Yeah, he’s bumming around watching war movies. This is much better than that sneaky guy who posed no threat to him in the first place. He wants to buy those bomber planes too?! They talk about Noble Phantasm (special attack or ability that defines the Hero) and how Servants are limited to only one each. Waver mentions he saw Archer’s flashy attack that involves throwing dozens of swords at the enemy. Plus, each sword was different. The night was too dark so Waver couldn’t see any more details about the enemy. Rider then wants to go out. Seeing that not only he knows the death of Assassin, this means other Masters will make their move too. If they encounter any other teams, they’ll crush them as they go along. Meanwhile Kirei seeks protection in the neutral Church since his Servants has been killed. Risei allows him in. He assures no one will be watching this place because it will be against the rules and any Master caught doing so will be censured. Suddenly out from within the shadows, dozens of Assassins. Shadow clones? Seems there is a ploy to have Masters believe that Assassin is dead as this will let their guard down. Iri and Saber arrive in Fuyuki (Kiritsugu arrived 12 hours earlier). Saber mentions how Servants receive knowledge on the modern world upon materialization. For example she can pilot a plane if she needs it and just needs to let her intuition take over. We also learn this is the first time Iri has stepped out of her castle and she laments she is just a puppet created for the Grail.

Kiritsugu meets a subordinate, Maiya Hisau in a hotel and looks like she has all the equipment he requested for here. Does he really need all that firearms? Also, his plan of having Saber accompany Iri is to deceive enemies to think she is Saber’s Master. Maiya shows him videos of the incident outside Tokiomi’s mansion. She suspects something amiss. Since Assassin is a master of stealth and creeping in, it is hard to believe he was detected so soon. Like as thought his presence was expected. Plus, in battles among Servants, learning their identity is crucial. So why did Tokiomi expose his Servant for all to see? Learning that Kirei has retreated to the Church, Kiritsugu wants Maiya to send a familiar to keep watch there. Despite being a forbidden operating zone, he wants it to keep it as close without the priest noticing. Iri and Saber are together at the shore. Iri likes the sea but Saber doesn’t because it is where her enemies always come from. Then they feel a presence of a Servant. More like that Servant is inviting them. They decide to take up the offer. Elsewhere Rider and Waver are watching on top of a steel bridge. It is a strategic vantage point according to Rider. Waver can’t take anymore of this and wants to go home. Home to England. Regret getting involved in this war? Saber and Iri confront Lancer at the harbour and it seems Lancer had sent out ‘invitations’ to all other Servants but Saber only responded. Both Servants prepare to face off. Saber is more worried Lancer’s Master is nowhere to be seen and perhaps plotting something. She hopes Iri will cover her back despite all she can offer is healing as support.

Episode 4
While Saber and Lancer begin their bout, Kiritsugu and Maiya are keeping a close watch on their battle and the surrounding area. Kiritsugu spots Lancer’s Master and was about to take action when he spots Assassin watching from another location. Isn’t he dead? Assassin is supposed to be Kirei’s eyes watching the match. Kirei is reporting what he ‘sees’ to Tokiomi. Upon learning Iri is in the battlefield, Tokiomi thinks she is an Einzbern homunculus and that Kiritsugu was just a pawn Jubstacheit had in store for them. Believing Iri will greatly influence the outcome of this war, he wants Kirei to keep a close watch on her. Kiritsugu too doesn’t want Maiya to act hasty to take out the rest and for now just observe things. Saber and Lancer exchange powerful blows and due to the inconvenient rules of the war, they can’t conveniently reveal their true identity which isn’t something honourable for knights. Saber watches Lancer and tries to determine which of his 2 lances is his Noble Phantasm. Despite exchanging chivalric words, Lancer’s Master tells him not to delay and end the match. He gives him permission to use his Noble Phantasm. Lancer drops his shorter spear, proving his long spear is his Noble Phantasm. This spear can also dispel the Invisible Air that keeps Saber’s sword hidden. Now that he has seen her sword, he can estimate her attacking range and need not hesitate. Saber comes up with a tactic to slash Lancer when he charges but her waist got pierced by his lance instead. Iri heals her back to normal and Saber thinks hard how his lance broke through her armour since she was pretty sure it would deflect it. Wait a minute. Her armour is still intact. She concludes the lance went through her magically woven armour. She understands the secret of his red lance. It cancels out mana. So facing him with this lance is as good as being naked. So how? Saber makes a bold decision to cast away her armour but must cut him down first since her sword can’t defend against his lance. Lancer thinks it’s a foolish decision. Saber charges when Lancer suddenly picks up a golden spear from the ground. Realizing a Noble Phantasm need not be limited to just one, Saber although gets cut, manages to avoid ultimate defeat though the tendon to her left hand is severed.

Rider isn’t thrilled the battle may soon end. He thought that the other Servants will show up but fears at this rate Saber will be defeated. To him, it would be faster to fight everyone together instead of finding them one by one. After all, how often do heroes of different age get to fight each other? This is a rare chance for him to face up to 6 heroes. Waver thought they’re supposed to kill each other for the Grail but Rider tells him about true conquest. To win but not to destroy. To conquer but not to humiliate. Rider summons his chariot and will be joining this battle. Iri is baffled because Saber’s hand is supposed to be fully healed but it isn’t. Lancer reveals that she did realize her armour was useless before his Gae Daerg (name of his red spear). But had she not abandoned her armour, she would’ve guarded against his Gae Buidhe (gold spear). Saber realizes the red spear negates magic and the gold one is a cursed blade that inflicts wound that never would heal. Coupled in with his women-enchanting-mole beneath his right eye, Saber now knows his identity as Diarmuid of the Radiant Race, the first of the knights of Fianna. Since Lancer has seen her Excalibur, nobody will ever mistake she is the legendary King Arthur. Now that they know each other’s name, they can fight honourably. Saber rearms herself with her armour and they prepare to make their final attack. However Rider gatecrashes in between them. He has no qualms immediately revealing his name and class to everyone. I guess he is the only one who looks the happiest. And though the rest put on a surprised expression, none is as surprised and in disbelief as Waver. Just unbelievable.

Episode 5
First thing Rider asks is to give up the Grail and join him as his subjects for world conquest! Offer rejected!
Saber and Lancer think his interference to their fight is an insult for knights. So much for his negotiations. Lancer’s Master, Kayneth learns Waver was the one who stole his relic since Rider was supposed to be his Master. He is going to show him what a fight to the death between magicians is all about. Now Waver is wavering, scared sh*t in his pants. However Rider stands up for Waver. He commends the kid for being brave enough to ride into battle with him unlike Kayneth who can’t even show his face. Rider then calls all those watching in the shadows to come out or face his wrath. Archer pops out and is as arrogant as ever. Because Rider couldn’t tell who he is, Archer is going to kill him with his pair of Noble Phantasm swords. Kariya orders Berserker to enter the fray and Archer didn’t like the cursed Berserker ‘gazing’ to his eyes. He shoots his swords at him but Berserker swiftly grabs the first one and uses it to destroy the second one. Archer fires more but Berserker dodges or deflects them all. Now that Archer is so mad, he is going to unleash his Babylon Gate even further. Tokiomi didn’t like who Archer is acting so rash and uses his Command Spell to quell his anger and have him withdraw. Though Archer is not pleased Tokiomi got the nerve to order a king, he has to obey and leaves the scene. Suddenly Berserker goes crazy and picks up a pole to attack Saber. Rider observes whatever Berserker picks up becomes his Noble Phantasm. Saber doesn’t stand a chance and her head could’ve been knocked off if not for Lancer deflecting it. He hasn’t settled business with Saber yet and shouldn’t just barge in. But if he refuses to back down, he’ll take him out. However Kayneth thinks this is his best chance to take out Saber. Lancer’s pride as a knight wants to take care of Berserker first. Too bad Kayneth isn’t that kind of Master he uses his Command Spell to order Lancer to assist Berserker and kill Saber. Against his wishes, Lancer with Berserker charge at Saber. Saber wants Iri to run but she will stay because she wants her to believe in her Master.

Kiritsugu is scrambling to end this madness. He will take out Kayneth while Maiya attack Assassin on his mark. But that won’t materialise because Rider rides his chariot over Berserker. Berserker then retires from the scene. Rider tells Kayneth not to spoil the magnificent battle between knights with his petty tricks. If wants him to withdraw Lancer and if he insists, Rider will assists Saber in taking his Servant down. Kayneth has no choice but to order a withdraw. Both knights are grateful to him. Till the next time. Saber wonders about Rider’s intention when he first arrived. Let’s say he didn’t have any and the reason he interfered was because he believes Saber and Lancer should settle their business first. This is because if Saber doesn’t and undo the curse, her severed left hand will be a liability in facing other Servants. Whoever wins will face him. I think Waver has had enough for tonight and is out cold so Rider leaves. Meanwhile Kariya in the shadows is happy everyone turned and ran from Berserker (was it?) especially that arrogant Archer. He wished he could see Tokiomi’s disappointed face. He suddenly vomits blood (with worms!) and knows he won’t last long. But if he can control this, he can win. Elsewhere a subordinate reports to Kirei that she found a familiar sent to observe this church though it was outside their field. Ryuunosuke is thrilled in seeing the Grail War via Caster’s crystal ball and hopes he’ll take part too. Yeah, they aren’t special effects either. But Caster starts crying in happiness because he claims he has found his holy virgin, the maiden of his destiny. I’m sure Ryuunosuke is at a lost on what he’s ranting about. So Saber is his holy virgin? Did he mistake her for somebody or is he just deluded?

Episode 6
Iri is taking Saber for a spin! She’s drifting and loving it! Man, she’s good! I guess this is what happens when a countryside girl gets loose in the city. But they are stopped dead in their tracks when Caster appears before them. He has come for Saber whom he has identified as Jeanne d’Arc but Saber doesn’t recognize him nor have they met before. He is appalled she has forgotten about him and tries to make her remember by identifying himself as Gilles de Rais. He has been praying for her return and spent his life waiting for this miracle. In return for revealing his identity, Saber also reveals she is Arthur Pendragon and he must have mistaken her for somebody else. But Caster isn’t listening and thinks she has gone mad. Furthermore, he curses God for inflicting such a curse. He says the Grail War has ended without fight for the Grail has chosen him as his wish for her revival has been granted. Saber strikes her sword but misses. This is just warning. Noting her heart has been tightly sealed, he promises to return when he has made the necessary preparations. Assassin is thrilled he has killed 2 birds with 1 stone because he has located Caster and must tail him. Ryuunosuke must be happy with his ‘work of art’ but returning Caster is furious that God still wants to keep his beloved. He is going to create a hill of live sacrifices. That means a killing spree, right? Ryuunosuke isn’t so sure about going for quantity over quality. Lancer gets lectured by Kayneth about his actions that made him waste a Command Spell. His fiancee, Sola-Ui thinks Lancer did a good job and mentions Saber has been inflicted with a wound that will not heal so he can finish her off anytime. She also reminds him of the advantage he has over other Masters. Because of the special alteration to the usual Master-Servant contract, Kayneth gets the Command Spells while Sola-Ui acts as an additional Master and supply mana.

The alarm bell rings and there is a call to evacuate the building due to fire. Kayneth knows this is a direct attack by Saber’s Master because he would want to lift the curse as soon as possible. He orders Lancer to greet Saber while he will allow her Master to enjoy the magic filled traps throughout the tower. All the residents of the apartment are safely evacuated and the management is taking a roll call. Kiritsugu pretends to be Kayneth since they can’t remember every resident, right? Once everyone evacuates, Kiritsugu gives the order to blow up the entire building! He orders Maiya to withdraw for now but couldn’t reach her. She is in a fight with Kirei who knows she was the one who sent the familiar to observe the church. Maiya is injured in the fight but manages to escape. Assassin then appears to inform Caster’s location have been identified. Kirei reports to Tokiomi that Caster and his Master are the ones responsible for the murder spree and have been abducting sleeping children in the area. They have already kidnapped 15 kids and are using magic without hesitation and do nothing to hide its trace. Clearly they are violating the rules and must be eliminated. Since defeating another Servant needs another Servant, Kirei notes they can’t send his Assassin. Risei will allow a special rule change and mobilize other Masters to defeat Caster. Kirei returns to his room to see Archer in casual clothes bumming around. Yeah, he’s bored. He’s disappointed in Tokiomi for being boring. They talk about accessing the Root and this leads to Archer asking Kirei’s wish for the Grail. He doesn’t have any but Archer doesn’t buy it. If so, shouldn’t he wish for pleasure? Kirei dismisses it because he links pleasure with sin. Archer rubbishes his logic because only pleasure through evil is sin and no philosophy calls pleasure a sin. Archer finds him interesting and lectures him about entertainment, something he really needs. I’m sure a king like him has experienced all kinds of pleasure so he can give his 2 cents worth of opinion that pleasure is basically a form of the soul. That is what Kirei is lacking since he doesn’t see the form of his soul. He wants Kirei to start by joining him in his entertainment and though he has been given a mission by Tokiomi to watch the other Masters, he can do in between. What’s in it for Archer? He loves observing humans and is bound to find one or two who are interesting. Kirei agrees with his plan but will need time. Archer will wait. This way, Kirei may learn what it is that he seeks.

Episode 7
There is a large mercury ball in the middle of town. Something weird happens to you if you touch it. Risei informs all Masters a temporary change in the rules to cease ongoing combat and to defeat Caster. The one successfully exterminating Caster will receive an extra Command Spell, unused and left behind by previous Masters of the Grail War. But it’s just a ploy for other Masters to hunt and weaken Caster for Archer will deliver the finishing blow. Since there were 5 familiars on the scene, this means Kayneth has survived. Meanwhile Rider gets his first courier package. A t-shirt with a fitting motto of “War Tactics” printed over it. It’s amazing the shirt didn’t get ripped. Is it XXXXXL size? Watching Saber in her modern clothes gave him an idea since he too wants to explore this world. Waver warns him about going outside. Not without proper pants. Yeah, he forgot to order that too. He’ll buy him all the pants he wants if he defeats an enemy Servant. Kiritsugu discusses his next plan. Having Caster mistaking Saber as Jeanne is convenient but doesn’t allow her to fight and would prefer to focus on the enemy attacking Caster as they make better targets. Also, since her left hand isn’t healed, this could mean that Lancer is still alive. Despite the new rule, Kiritsugu can’t trust the judge because he is sheltering Kirei and is most probably in cohorts with Tokiomi. Later Kiritsugu talks to Iri if they could just drop everything and run away. Even if he says he can, she knows he is lying because he would never forgive himself for abandoning the Grail and fail to save the world. He’d take his own life first. They sense an enemy entering the area. It is Caster and he has brought little children with him to draw Saber out. He plays a game of tag with them. How far can those children run? How long will he take to catch them? Well, if he catches them, there’s a live demonstration something horrible happened to one of them. Iri orders Saber to defeat him.

Saber runs into the forest to see Caster and a child. The rest are dead. Caster releases him to her and while Saber tells him the path to safety, the boy dies when a monstrous plant bursts out from his body. And the other dead bodies too. It binds Saber in a strong grip. Angry with Caster, Saber will no longer fight him as she was fighting him for the Grail. Saber cuts through the flowers but notices his mana is not reducing. She realizes his spell book is his Noble Phantasm. A grimoire to command demonic legions his friend left behind. Just as Saber is about to be defeated, Lancer drops in for a much needed assistance. Both sides have their reasons why they want to claim Saber as theirs. Since Lancer’s order was only to defeat Caster, it’s best they cooperate. Kayneth infiltrates the castle with his mercury familiar to challenge Iri to a duel for the Grail. The place is besieged with traps but luckily the mercury protects him from all sorts of harm. He will now exterminate her. He comes into Kiritsugu who tries to make a run. Kiritsugu uses his Time Alter Double Accel skill to slow time down to avoid being killed. Kayneth knows this magic puts a strain on his body so he is confident he can’t run far in that physical condition. Kiritsugu is catching his breath hard and uses Time Alter Triple Stagnate to slow down his heart beat and breathing to prevent that mercury thingy from sensing his presence. He manages to fool Kayneth for the moment and pulls out his special pistol.

Episode 8
Iri and Maiya are escaping through the forest but Iri senses another enemy approaching: Kirei. Despite knowing Kiritsugu ordering Maiya to protect her, Iri feels Kirei must not reach Kiritsugu and vows to protect him. She wants Maiya to believe in what is to be necessary, not what Kiritsugu told her. When Kiritsugu fired his special pistol, the special bullet pierces through Kayneth’s magic barrier and into his shoulder. Kiritsugu makes his escape and Kayneth is one mad Mage. Kirei is ambushed by Maiya’s trap but she let her guard down thinking he got snagged by one of them. Kirei easily overpowers her and beats her up. Iri shows up and uses her magic to bind Kirei’s hand to the tree but his magic is so powerful that the tree splits. Saber and Lancer aren’t making any progress with the demonic minions. They need to dispose of Caster’s grimoire. The plan is Saber will make a path so that Lancer can run with the wind up to Caster and destroy the grimoire. They only have one chance. Saber sets the plan in motion when the demons attack. Lancer manages to cut the grimoire and turn all the monsters into a river of blood. As the duo face off with Caster, the coward flees by casting a red mist. Lancer feels uneasy as he realizes his Master is in danger. As a knight, Saber wants him to go protect him because they swore to settle matters as knights. Kayneth is weakening though his angry grows. Eventually he finds Kiritsugu and vows not to kill him so easily. Kiritsugu fires his special pistol once more and Kayneth is confident his trick won’t work a second time because he has beefed up his magic barrier. We have a short flashback of Kiritsugu meeting with some woman. She told him the properties of this special bullet. I don’t understand all that technical explanation except that it works very powerful against Mages. It destroys Magic Circuits and then reconnects them improperly. The more powerful, the more the Magic Circuits will lose control and they won’t recover as a Mage or human. That’s why his mystic code is Origin Bullet and has only 66 of them (I believe it was made out from his ribs). So use them sparingly.

The special bullet once again tears through Kayneth’s defence and it is breaking him apart. It’s like as though he contracted some sort of deadly virus. Kiritsugu is about to finish him off but Lancer protects him. He knows Kiritsugu is Saber’s Master and won’t allow him to easily kill his Master. He also won’t kill him and lets him live for now. He can thank Saber’s nobility as the King of Knights for that. Lancer takes Kayneth and leaves the castle. Kirei is interrogating Iri for answers. He knows she is not Saber’s Master because she lacks Command Spells. He knows the ladies fought him to protect Kiritsugu but wants to know on whose will they are doing so. Assassin reports Caster, Lancer and Kayneth have all left and Saber is coming soon. Kirei stabs Iri with his swords and escapes. He can’t believe these women fought him on his own accord and not someone else’s order. He believes Kiritsugu is just like him. Understood and acknowledged by nobody. Empty to the core. Saber arrives on the scene with Maiya heavily wounded while Iri has lost lots of blood. But no worries. Iri suddenly gets up. Iri remembers Kiritsugu giving her the Noble Phantasm called Avalon which heals all wounds. Since Iri will accompany Saber from now on since Saber needs someone to supply mana to her or the scabbard’s effects won’t manifest. Kiritsugu wants her to keep this a secret and not even tell Saber. As Iri heals Maiya, she notes they were lucky today to have fought against the Executor and lived. She is certain she can’t let him reach Kiritsugu.

Episode 9
A short flashback of Lancer’s life as Diarmuid. Fionn MacCumhaill, hero of Aillen and leader of Fianna got engaged to Grainne but it was Diarmuid that Grainne has her heart on. They both elope and Fionn sent a chasing pack after them. Despite Fionn recognizing their marriage in the end, he still won’t let go of the old grudge and thus Diarmuid was betrayed and left to die. Those were the memories that Kayneth saw. He is in a daze, still shocked from what has happened. He is strapped to the bed and Sola-Ui is by his side. Noting that his Magic Circuits are destroyed and that he can’t use magic again (his organs were regenerated by her and it’s a miracle he didn’t die), all is not lost as she is confident the Grail will restore everything to the way it was if they win. She wants him to give her his Command Spells and take over as Lancer’s Master. He refuses seeing Lancer won’t easily abandon him and swear loyalty to her as his Master easily. Besides, he thinks Lancer is hiding something because he doesn’t believe that he has no wish for the Grail. Persuasion failed. Time to get nasty. Sola-Ui breaks his little finger to coax him into giving the Command Spells! If he still refuses, she will have to chop off his right hand! Devil woman! Iri puts Maiya into bed as Saber feels the need to hunt down Caster soon before more children is sacrificed. Iri goes talk to Kiritsugu and it seems Maiya won’t be able to move for another day or two. Kiritsugu decides to hunt Kayneth down himself and knowing Saber wants to stop Caster, he reminds Iri that their goal isn’t to save a dozen of children. Although Saber does not doubt Lancer’s sincerity, if he betrayed them, the Grail War would be over for them. Sola-Ui summons Lancer and concocts her own story that cowardly Kayneth has abandoned the Grail War. She shows the Command Spells on her hand as proof she has become his Master. Lancer refuses to acknowledge her because he only serves 1 Master and that he is a knight before a Servant. Sola-Ui tries to persuade Lancer to work together but he is willing to not seek the Grail if Kayneth has abandoned this battle. Finally Sola-Ui tells him the only way to return him back to normal is to win the Grail. He needs a miracle. She even swears on her heart that she will seek the Grail on Kayneth’s behalf and not her own. Lancer notices the look in her eyes is the same as Grainne. All he sought for in this life was the loyalty denied to him in his last.

Rider seems to be making himself like home, drinking and laughing with Waver’s ‘grandparents’. Back in his room, Waver takes out his alchemist set and conducts experiments from the water samples he took from several points along the river. Most of the samples turn out to be spell casting residue and if he follows the lead, it might lead him to Caster’s hideout. Finally there is a spot that is clean without any magic remnants and Waver deduces this is where he may be hiding. Rider is eager to take on Caster but Waver cautions that he has the greatest advantage when it comes to territory defence. Rider wants to strike when the iron is hot. After all, territories can change within seconds in battle. Miss it and you might regret it. Rider and Waver ride through the sewer tunnels, crushing over the little monster familiars over the place. Though Caster is not in, Rider doesn’t want Waver to look at this hideous spot. Against his advice, Rider takes a peek and can’t handle it. It must be so gross and sickening that it can’t even be shown! Feel like puking? Blood everywhere… No time to get emotional because Rider just deflected a blade from Assassin. Waver is surprised because he thought Assassin had died. Apparently a few more Assassins pop up to flank them but they soon disappear into the shadows. Noting this is their territory, Rider advises it’s best they get out of here. Not before torching the place so Caster have no place to return and hide. Kirei reports to Tokiomi about the discovery of Assassin’s existence by others. Tokiomi wants Kirei’s Assassin to continue watching Rider to uncover his trump card but be extra careful.

Episode 10
Rin tries her hand in magic but fails. Tokiomi demonstrates and shows her how it is done by controlling his mana, be careful not to put too much power in it or it will backfire and most important of all, do it with elegance. It may be hard for Rin now but with hard work, she’ll be able to do it. She is after all the daughter of the Tohsaka family. In school, Rin is quite a popular girl. At least her classmates seek her guidance in doing school work. Feisty Rin was also cool enough to help defend her friend Kotone from a couple of bullies. When Rin learns that she will have to leave Fuyuki City with her mom because daddy is participating in the Grail War, she becomes upset that she is unable to help out and thought they’re just in the way. Still adamant in wanting to help, she goes through Tokiomi’s collection of grimoires. I don’t think those complicated stuffs are of her level. One of the grimoires got activated and tried to pull her in. If not for Tokiomi putting a stop to it, Rin could’ve been devoured by the book. He gives her a mana compass that detects anything with mana. If its needle goes out of control, it means that mana is beyond her capability and should be careful. The serial kidnappings of children in Fuyuki have become so rampant that it causes Rin to be worried for Kotone. She didn’t come to class for days and when one of the bullies went missing (though a funeral was held, his body wasn’t really in the coffin), she thinks it’s time to head to Fuyuki City by herself to look for Kotone.

Fuyuki City looks scary at night. It’s like a different world. Mana is everywhere.  Rin walks around to search for clues when she sees a strange guy with a kid out this late. He is Ryuunosuke and it seems he has hypnotized a kid to come with him. Rin follows them till she realizes he got another kid in his hand. Feeling she won’t accomplish anything at this rate by tailing in the shadows, she decides to go on the offensive. This leads her to an underground closed bar. To her horror, she sees Kotone and other children lying around with no response all over the place. Of course Ryuunosuke spots her and ‘invites’ her to join the ‘party’. Not enough people? Either way he’s not going to let her go. Rin realizes his bracelet is the one controlling the kids and focuses her magic into destroying it. The backfire causes a slight painful distraction to Ryuunosuke. All the kids awake from their spell and in a daze. Rin tells them all to make a run for it. In the aftermath, the police have cordoned the place off and Rin heaves a sigh of relief watching the events close from an alley. Suddenly her compass goes berserk and a monster plant drops beside her. Kariya saves her before she becomes monster food. Aoi is driving all the way to Fuyuki City unable to believe her daughter went there all by herself. She finds Rin sleeping soundly at a park bench and to her surprise, Kariya. Even more shocking is half his face has become hideous as the price paid for using the magic of Matou family. You offer your flesh, it devours your life slowly. Kariya lets her know that he will win the Grail War to release Sakura since Zouken only covets the Grail. He is confident Sakura and Rin will become sisters again and they can all play in this park like they used to. Aoi wonders if he is planning to die after killing Tokiomi. Life returns to normal for Rin. She takes her magic practice one step at a time, working hard to uphold her father’s teachings. Till then, she’ll do her best elegantly.

Episode 11
Saber and Iri are walking through the ruins of the castle when Rider rides in. He’s in his t-shirt…  I guess this means he isn’t here to fight and invites Saber to drink. At the open garden, they talk about the Grail War and he wants to ascertain their ranks among each other and to see who is more suited to be king of the Grail. Archer makes his appearance and it seems he was invited by Rider too when he saw him in town. Arrogant Archer didn’t want to drink from his cheap wine and lets them have a taste of his fine wine. Truly good indeed. But Rider quips the Grail isn’t a drinking cup so it doesn’t automatically makes Archer the king of them all. Archer asserts all treasures in the world could be traced back to him and thus each one of them belongs to him. Anyone who thinks of taking it is just a brazen thief. So is he saying if they ask, he’ll give them the Grail? If they become his subjects. Rider points out Archer doesn’t really want the Grail and his reply is that he has to administer punishment to thieves. Because he is king, he makes the law, he executes them. For Rider, his style is to take whatever he wants. All that’s left now is to cross swords. Saber is puzzled because Rider acknowledges the Grail’s ownership to someone else and yet he wants to take it. Rider embarrassingly reveals his goal for the Grail is true incarnation. Wasn’t it world domination? He won’t have some cup do it for him and he would prefer to that with his own hands. This is what true conquest is about. Saber disagrees his way to be a king. Her wish is that she wants salvation for her country and avert Britain’s destruction. Kirei reports to Tokiomi about the kings having their conversation. Tokiomi wants to distinguish the strength between Archer and Rider so her orders Tokiomi to send Assassin to attack. Regardless if Assassin win or lose, they have nothing to lose in this gamble since they’ll be able to discern Rider’s strength.

The conversation between kings continues. Saber feels guilty and responsible for the downfall of her country. Archer couldn’t hold back his laughter because she calls herself king and is praised by everyone and yet she laments it. Saber feels it is a king’s duty to sacrifice and ensure the prosperity of his nation. Rider thinks otherwise. A king does not sacrifice but it is the country and people that sacrifice for the king. That sounds like a tyrant? That’s because they are tyrants that they are Heroes. If a king regrets his rule or conclusion, that king is a fool, worse than a tyrant. Saber points out Rider’s crumble of his empire and dynasty but Rider doesn’t regret it. He may feel sad but certainly he would never regret. He won’t even undo it. By doing so would be a mockery to those who fought with him to build his empire. Saber adds only brute warriors find glory in destruction. She doesn’t mind dying for her just ideals. Even if it’s not how a human should live, being a king means forfeit being human. She doubts he will understand because he only seeks the Grail for his own benefit. If that’s the case, Saber must have been a saint in her life. But who will admire the martyr’s thorny life? Being king means to be greedier and more furious than everybody. He must exemplify all things, good and evil. That’s why everyone adores him. Saber’s righteous ideals may have saved her country once but what happens to those who are constantly saved? Saber may have saved them but she never led them. She never showed them what a king should be while abandoning everyone who got lost as she followed her own petty ideals. She is just a little girl bound by a false idol of a king who serves others but not herself. Saber is pretty stunned by his words. I guess she realizes there are truths in them. In fact, all. Archer couldn’t help laugh because seeing her anguish expression was really a sight to behold. Like a virgin getting deflowered. He likes it. Saber draws her sword when suddenly the place is surrounded by Assassins. They proclaim they are one but split into many. Rider offers them to drink and talk but Assassin throws his knife to break the ladle. If it’s a fight they want, it’s a fight they’ll get and regret.

Rider transforms into his battle gear and asks the final question if a king should be alone. Saber answers yes to that. Wrong answer. Rider will show them what it is to be a true king. Suddenly the field turns into an open hot desert. A place where his armies rode across this land. He can materialize this because it exists in his heart. Then he summons his army. They are other Heroic Spirits from around the world. Some are legendary fighters and they all are loyal to him. This is his bond with them, his greatest treasure, his path to kingship. This is his Noble Phantasm, Ionian Hetairoi. Every one of them is his Servant. Rider adds a king must live more vividly than others and collects the envy of all his heroes and stands as their guide. Therefore a king is not alone for his will equals that of all his followers combined. Rider orders his army to annihilate all the Assassins since they have a disadvantage of being in an open area with no place to hide. After the slaughter, they return to the open garden. Rider calls it a night and doesn’t acknowledge Saber as a king anymore. He hopes this little girl will wake up from her sad dream because if she doesn’t, she’ll lose that pride as a Heroic Spirit. The dream of kingship she spoke is a curse. After Rider leaves, Archer tells Saber she need not listen to him. All she needs to do is follow her own path in what she believes. After all, nobody would understand the burden she shoulders. Also, he enjoys seeing her face squirm in agony. So keep it up and she may be worthy of his love. After Archer leaves, Saber remembers a knight who claimed King Arthur didn’t understand his subjects. She feels those sentiments were shared by everyone at the Round Table.

Episode 12
Tokiomi and Kirei discuss Rider’s Noble Phantasm and they’re glad they have known it is on par with Archer’s. Should they have gone head to head with him, they might not be able to defend against it. With Assassin out of the game, Tokiomi will use the information Assassin gathered and mobilize Archer to defeat his enemies, confident a means to defeat Rider will manifest along the way. Maiya reports to Kiritsugu about Assassin eliminated for good. Kiritsugu summarizes the current state and location of the other Masters. He is baffled with Kirei’s actions because if he was cooperating with Tokiomi, he wouldn’t step out of the church but yet he went out and ambush his castle and Kayneth’s plaza. Archer sees Kirei coming into his room and notes how happy he is. Kirei is relieved that he has been taken off this burdensome game. They discuss about unused Command Spells that return to the Holy Grail should a Master loses his Servant. Then the Grail will choose a new Master and redistribute them to him. The Grail chooses the next Master it has previously found suitable thus there is a high probability an ex-Master will receive those unused Command Spells. That’s why participants in the Grail War kill enemy Masters rather than disable them. That’s also the reason why the Church protects Masters that have dropped out. Kirei believes he won’t be chosen again because if the Grail chose him to support Tokiomi, then he has fulfilled his duty. Maiya guides Iri and Saber to a new house, a Japanese mansion that they will use as their new base of operations. They check the insides of the rundown house and Iri feels it is too open to work her magic and needs a room that is walled off. Saber remembers the key Maiya handed her was for the storage and takes her there. Iri finds it suitable to craft her magic and starts making her preparations. Saber then asks about her not touching things today. She thinks she is not feeling well. Iri get permission to squeeze Saber’s hand. She has no power to even hold it. Because she wasn’t feeling well, she severed one of her senses (touch, in this case) so that it won’t interfere with anything she does. It’s an ability she has as a homunculus and she reminds she isn’t exactly a normal human so a normal doctor won’t be able to treat her.

Archer continues his conversation with Kirei. The latter thinks he is being mocked and his efforts wasted. On the contrary, Assassin’s death wasn’t wasted and paid off splendidly. The talk shifts to pleasure that Kirei is still having a hard time to understand. Archer points out that all of the Masters except for Tokiomi, he noticed has been somewhat obsessed with Kariya. He spoke of him in great detail. Kirei says the circumstances around him are complicated and admits he made a judgmental error as Kariya poses no long term threat and not worth the attention. Archer asks him to imagine a scenario if Kariya and Berserker survives till the end. What is the point of imagining Kariya’s victory? Archer points there is none. What he is trying to say is that the usually sharp Kirei would’ve immediately realized the pointlessness of investigation a Master that would be deemed unworthy. That was not how it went with Kariya. He abandoned his sharp wits and wasted time in pointless thoughts and didn’t mind if the effort was wasted. In short, he enjoyed it. Kirei disagrees that there is nothing entertaining in Kariya’s life but Archer feels he is viewing pleasure from a narrow point of view because he is confused and doesn’t understand. Kirei becomes upset because though Archer loves seeing the torment of others, to him that is the soul of a sinner and must be punished. Maybe that’s why he equated pleasure and sin together. Suddenly Kirei feels pain on his hand and the Command Spell reappears on it. Looks like he’s back in the game. This makes Kirei questions what he truly seeks from the Grail. He can only know that after he destroys 6 other wishes. Archer tells him to do as he desires. That is the true meaning of entertainment, which leads to pleasure and ultimately happiness. From now on, everything else is up to him.

Episode 13
Waver sees in his dream Rider reaching the sea of Okeanos. Next morning he has a ‘change of heart’ and brings Rider out to town. Meanwhile Ryuunosuke is disheartened that his works of art in the sewers are destroyed. Ironically he calls those destroyers inhuman. He thought they had too much fun and God punished them. Caster tells him God never punishes humans but only toys with them. That is because when he committed greater atrocities and blasphemies, God never once punished him. It was the Church and State to destroy him. The same people like them with self-interests. So what brought an end to his evil wasn’t God’s judgment but theft because the Church and State took his wealth and land after executing him. Ryuunosuke still believe God exists. He starts explaining how boring this world is and how one needs to find ways to entertain. There has to be an entertainer who is writing a saga for all the humans. To describe such feat, God is the only thing you could call that person. Caster wonders if God loves humans and Ryuunosuke couldn’t agree more because he writes the saga continuously and restlessly. He may love good virtues but also bad ones. Otherwise there’s no way fresh intestines could be so colourful. Huh? Caster admires his views but wonders if his atrocities would be a farce according to his viewpoint. On the contrary, God loves playing along with his antics. Caster takes that that both praise and blasphemy are forms of worship. He has a new respect for his Master and sees God in a new light. They need to stain His garden with brilliant colours of despair and terror. So the duo are going to begin the greatest entertainment on Earth as Caster begins chanting his spell over the river. Waver is at the library looking researching about Alexander the Great when Rider finds him. Yeah, he bought some video game and is eager to play it. Rider realizes what Waver is doing and finds it odd because he could’ve just asked the real deal in front of him. So was he this short as stated in the records? Well, no. But Rider isn’t upset and though people in power do want to leave their name in history for immortality, if it’s just his name and nothing else, he’d rather have a hundred of that to his life.

On the way back, Waver laments the boring person Rider is and even if he won the Grail War, he couldn’t take pride in it. He feels he should’ve contracted with Assassin. He is okay if he dies since he prefers to die in his own battles. Rider advises him this Grail War isn’t the most important event in his life but down the road, he’ll be forced into his own battles whether he likes it or not. Waver points out that he isn’t the only one who is dissatisfied with this contract and is sure Rider didn’t like to have a pathetic and incompetent Master like him. Rider takes out the world map and points out this is their enemy. He wants him to draw them fighting it side by side, which is impossible. The point is, against the enemy, they’re both the same. There is no point in comparing how big they are. Waver still feels inferior but Rider says that feeling is king’s quality because he may complain a lot but he knows how small he is and yet struggle to reach greater heights. When Rider mentions his dream of reaching Okeanos didn’t come true, Waver realizes the scene he saw was just an imagined scene Rider held very close to his heart. Anyhow, Rider is fine with a contract with him. Suddenly they feel something strange coming from the river. Saber and Iri rush to the scene and see Caster in the midst of his nefarious scheme. He is pouring and incredible amount of mana out. Caster gets absorbed by the giant monster surfacing from the river. Rider arrives and he tells Saber he went around telling others. Lancer agreed to help out and should be here in no time. Because Iri has fought Caster before she warns that the monster is currently maintaining its form via Caster’s mana but once it gets its own food source, it’s game over. They need to settle this before it reaches the coast and starts eating. But Caster has sealed himself within that monster so it won’t be easy to draw him out. Rider says as long as his Noble Phantasm is visible, he can thrust his Gae Daerg and destroy it in a strike. Rider and Saber will take to the frontlines then. Rider’s mobility means his road is anywhere but as for Saber, since she has the protection of the Lady of the Lake, no body of water can stop her. I take that she can walk on water! Rider and Saber being their assault.

Please! Einzbern Consultation Room 1
We take a break from the first half of the season to bring you this special from the DVD that lasts 10 minutes each. Here, we have Iri and her amnesiac student T-chan as hosts. Because T-chan is student number 0, she is nicknamed Zecchan. I later discovered she is Taiga Fujimura who lost her memories. They explain to us the workings of the Holy Grail War. So we are given the brief introduction of what is this war all about (the 7 teams killing each other for that single cup – you know this drill) and mainly the history of how this war came to be. The first war started out as an internal strife between the Three Families that discovered the system of the Grail. When they realized only one wish can be granted, they betrayed and turned on each other. Because 7 Heroic Spirits are required to conceive the Grail, they invited 4 other outside Mages to participate. By the time the second war came, the ritual turned into an all-out war and because there were no rules, everybody died in a murder spree. Thus the Three Families took precautions and establish precise rules for the third war which include inviting an outside third party, the Church to supervise the many Grail Wars. However the war hasn’t produced a single winner yet because in all 3 wars, everyone went down simultaneously. With no suitable to activate, the Grail disappeared from the world. It will take 60 years for the mana to accumulate in which a new war will begin. This segment ends with Iri and Zecchan discussing about Iri’s husband, Kiritsugu who is participating in the fourth war. Well, let’s just say she really loves him. Love is blind indeed.

Please! Einzbern Consultation Room 2
Now Iri turns her consultation room into a law office. No customers so far… The consultation continues with Iri defining the meaning of magic and how Mages preserve it by passing it down their generations that’s why bloodlines are important to Mages as each passing generation the Mages will grow stronger though the magic used by each family differs. Because magic is expensive to pursue, only wealthy and distinguished families remain in using them. Zecchan isn’t happy that Kiritsugu doesn’t look like a traditional magician because he uses modern weapons in his fight and no magic at all. As Iri puts it, there are champions of tradition, deviants of tradition and those in between. For example, Waver may be of the new age that values tradition but feels there are certain areas that can be revisited, Ryuunosuke knows nothing about magic while Kariya totally shuns them. Kiritsugu has no pride of a Mage and does what is needed once his enemies’ weakness is exposed. Next topic is about summoning of Heroic Spirits who are from legends and tales of the past. They are referred to as classes because one of the reasons is to conceal their real identity. Once their real identity is out, the enemies may use information to bring down him down which will be a severe disadvantage. After all, it is already written in the legends and tales of that Hero’s downfall. While Saber, Lancer and Archer are top combat classes, their ability to collect information is weak. Thus classes like Caster may not be strong in battle but his forte is collecting information. So simply being strong in the war isn’t enough to guarantee victory. Zecchan must have grasped the basics and probably would like to have a go at participating in this war and fight a Servant herself. She’s going to work hard and repay Iri’s kindness so Iri gets ecstatic and even quips her passion nearly turned her into a lesbian! She takes Zecchan out to drink. Only thing is she’s underage…

Please! Einzbern Consultation Room 3
Iri has remodelled the place to look like a kitchen. I don’t even want to know the ingredients she’s putting into the tea. Suddenly they receive their first customer! Wow! Who could it be? Erm… That’s Assassin, right? Well, whoever he is, he is still a customer. So we have Assassin introducing himself as Zayd, one of the many personalities of the Hundred Faced Hassan. See how he is stressing this point? He’s lost them. Yeah, he’s ranting on how great this Hassan guy is during the Grail War. So while we learn that this Hassan Sabbah isn’t just a guy but a religious organization (thus the reason why there are many of them and the separate multiple personalities is his Noble Phantasm called Zabaniya), Zecchan points it bluntly he is a fake among fakes! That must’ve hurt his pride. Even more so when Iri puts it he got killed in the second episode and tricked and used by his Master. Getting back on track, the trouble Zayd is facing is that he feels he has been used no more than for surveillance and can’t stand the slander of being called useless anymore. It’s not his fault. Suddenly Zayd finds himself in the dark room while the girls circle around him. They’re trying to question him if he didn’t do anything wrong. Hmm… His shady job, his snuck around coolly doing cool poses just to show off. So? Did he do nothing wrong? At this point Zayd is overcome with guilt and wonders what he did wrong. The girls relish in his reaction. Before he knows it, he’s back in the room and has repented. He’ll mend his old ways and wish to work for her by serving tea. However Iri says no can do because there is a place he needs to be now despite having his troubles cleared. He needs to go realize his ambitions as a Servant once more and to the battlefield. She knows he can do it. Zayd is touched by her words and encouragement and leaves. They ask him his wish and that is to leave his name in the pages of history as they have no name. Zecchan is excited that their consultation has saved troubled young men like him but Iri says they didn’t save him. You can’t change fate. The most they can do is listen to their problems so they can pass away without regrets. Zecchan becomes depressed but soon picks herself up and is confident the Grail can save anything. Lastly, Zecchan recites textbook style what she has learnt about the Grail War. I think I need time to digest everything. I’m puzzled because they say this Grail is the 726th when so far there has only been fourth of such wars. Iri is impressed with Zecchan and thinks she could be a good teacher. They’re going to work hard to bring success to this consultation room. Meanwhile Zayd is rushing along confident he has no more doubts and will earn Kirei’s respect. Suddenly he is absorbed into the wormhole whereby Rider is mercilessly slaying all his other personalities. You can’t change fate alright.

Episode 14
A couple of JSDF jet fighters are flying towards the monster. You think their missiles can work when the Heroes are having a hard time cutting it down? Thanks to its quick regeneration, it’s like wasted efforts. Risei feels the situation is going out of control. A thick fog is enveloping the river and there are more witnesses gathering. He feels the need to request aid from the Mage Association. While he handles the cover up, he wants Kirei to aid Tokiomi who is on his way with Archer to the scene (what kind of UFO are they riding?). Tokiomi wants Archer to eliminate the beast but he is reluctant to do the ‘dirty job of a gardener’. He agrees when Tokiomi mentions this is his perfect chance to show his true strength as a Hero since none of them can do it. Archer drops his swords on the monster but unfortunately it regenerates. Archer wants to leave seeing he has wasted 4 of his swords (he won’t take them back since it got ‘tainted’ by the beast). Tokiomi suggests drawing his greatest treasure to destroy it in a single shot but was shot down by Archer. He feels those words are insulting and should be punishable by death. Tokiomi is in a dilemma. Should he use his Command Spell? After all, all this was supposed to get him back his Command Spell but now it has backfired. Using another one would hurt his relationship with Archer.

One of the jet fighters closes in on the monster and gets devoured. His other comrade is going to avenge his death and fire everything he’s got when suddenly the jet gets taken over by Berserker. Tokiomi goes to confront Kariya while Berserker and Archer have an aerial battle. Kariya has only one question for Tokiomi: Why did he give Sakura to the Matou family. He only wished for a brighter future for his daughters. Any Mages with 2 children face a painful dilemma because only one can inherit the family secrets and the other must fall into the rabble. Because both his daughters had that high potential, they needed the protection that a Mage association can provide. As a father he couldn’t risk destroying the future of one for the other. No choice, he gave up Sakura for adoption and the Matou’s request couldn’t be more than a blessing. Kariya isn’t happy this will pit Rin and Sakura against each other. Even so, Tokiomi notes his descendents will be happy. Glory goes to the winner and the loser will rest, knowing it went to the family. Erm? Isn’t that a contradiction about his statement for a brighter future for his daughters? Tokiomi feels grateful to Kariya since he refused to carry on the Matou line magic, it went to Sakura. However he can’t forgive him for running away from the responsibility of his blood and death is the only answer. Enough talk. Let’s get on with the killing. Oops. Kariya sends his insects to devour him.

Ryuunosuke revels in seeing all kinds of guts and gore when suddenly he is shot in the stomach. Maybe he was too noisy that he was targeted? The monster stops dead in his tracks and Caster knows his Master is in grave danger. Ryuunosuke sees the blood from his gut and realizes it was what he was searching for all the time. Yeah, most beautiful thing ever? You could say it was right under his nose. The final shot to his head kills him and his Command Spells disappear. Caster is saddened over his death but will fulfil his promise by showing him the coolest parting gift. The monster starts moving again and grows stronger. Kiritsugu is revealed as the sniper and his next move now is to stop the immortal monster. They know the irreversible damage when it reaches the shore and the Grail War may even be abandoned. They need to destroy it in a single strike. A Noble Phantasm that is suited not for destroying people or armies, but fortified structure. Saber has that but Lancer’s curse on her hand leaves her unable to use it. He feels the need to show them the meaning of chivalry that they’re so proud of.

Episode 15
Rider wants everyone to regroup since they aren’t making progress. He suggests drawing the creature into his Ionian Hetairoi and even his combined warriors can’t destroy it. While he stalls the creature in his Reality Marble, he wants them to come up with a plan to victory. Kariya is bleeding like mad but his insects have no effect on Tokiomi’s barrier. Seeing the pitiful state he has fallen, Tokiomi gives him his final gift by burning him. Kariya falls off below. Kirei wanted to finish him off but remembers Archer’s words about entertainment and unconscious interest and heals him. Since Iri doesn’t know how to use her handphone, Waver takes the call. It is from Kiritsugu and he wants to know if Rider can position the contents of Reality Marble at a particular location. Only about 100 metres or so. Kiritsugu wants him to wait for the right moment when he’ll fire a flare. Rider is to materialize underneath it. He also wants Waver to tell Lancer that Saber’s left arm holds an anti-fortress Noble Phantasm. Lancer confirms with Saber this Noble Phantasm can kill the monster in a strike. However she considers this wound as an honour. Lancer as a knight cannot allow Caster’s terror to spread so it is not who should win this fight, but their knight’s path of chivalry. He breaks his golden spear to free Saber from the curse. Another problem creeps up because Berserker abandons his dogfight with Archer to attack Saber. Archer views this as an insult and he carelessly got slightly wounded by Berserker’s surprise shot.

One of Rider’s messengers appears to report that they can’t hold the creature much longer. Saber is having her hands full fending off Berserker so Lancer volunteers to take care of that pest. He destroys the jet fighter and Archer finishes him with his swords. Kiritsugu is at the designated spot at sea and fires his flare. Waver tells the messenger that is the signal for Rider. The monster materializes at that spot as Saber powers up her Excalibur that contains the hope of all warriors, past, present and future. Archer wants to see and judge her brilliance as a Heroic Spirit. In a single swing, Excalibur breaks open the monster. Caster is attracted by the light and believes this brilliance that blessed him and Jeanne. I guess that’s goodbye. Archer wonders if Rider’s opinion on Saber has changed after seeing her brilliance. He is still not convinced and that brightness is still what makes it tragic. Archer sees those tears she shed during her final moments as sweet. Rider concludes they can never see eye to eye but will settle this the next time. Archer allows him to retreat as killing him when he is not at his full strength will give him no satisfaction. Rider takes it as Archer is wounded from Berserker’s fight. Archer takes an interest in Saber and claiming himself as the only one in Heaven and Earth who has the right to love her in her destruction.

Episode 16
Kirei drops Kariya off at the latter’s home despite knowing he’ll be a threat to his master. However he is confused with this excitement he feels and does not feel regret. While Kayneth sees Risei to obtain the additional Command Spell for Lancer’s important role in destroying Caster, Sola-Ui is revelling in her Command Spells when suddenly Maya cuts off her arm!!! OH SH*T!!!Then she shoots and destroys the arm. Risei accepts Kayneth’s reasons and gives him the additional Command Spell. Soon after, Kayneth shoots and kills Risei. The reason being since he has only 1 Command Spell, he is at a disadvantage and cannot allow other Masters to acquire additional Command Spells. Lancer learns of Sola-Ui’s predicament and reports back to Kayneth. He is enraged he couldn’t protect her. She is now missing and because there was no proper contract between them, Lancer couldn’t discern her position. Kayneth is worried that she has the Command Spells but Lancer assures she is still alive because her mana is feeding him. Kayneth continues to admonish Lancer that he is all talk about his pride and thinks he was trying to seduce his fiancée. Saber and Iri soon arrive. Lancer learns they do not know about Sola-Ui’s case. Saber isn’t here to talk. She’s here to settle their match since the other Servants won’t be fighting tonight and will be on the defensive. This means they won’t be interrupted. Both Heroes engage in their honour fight but Lancer notices she is not using her left hand. She says not to get the wrong idea because using it will only dull her blade and a fatal mistake to make again against his spear. Thus this is the best strategy she can use to beat him.

Kayneth is appalled that Lancer couldn’t even beat Saber but his concern right now is that they should run and find Sola-Ui. No need to do that because Kiritsugu is nearby holding her unconscious at gunpoint as hostage. Kiritsugu throws him a Self Geas Scroll. From what I understand it is a magic binding contract that cannot be broken even in death. The condition for this Geas to take effect so that Kiritsugu can never kill Kayneth and Sola-Ui has Kayneth realize his fight for the Grail will end here. The honour match is interrupted when Lancer stabs his own heart with his spear. The Geas condition was to have Kayneth using his Command Spell to order Lancer to commit suicide. Lancer in his final breathe becomes enrage that they tainted his honour for their personal gain and curses them and hopes the Grail will bring only misery. With Geas in effect, Kiritsugu now cannot kill them. However Maiya snipes and kills them! Sneaky bastard! Saber finishes off the job since Kayneth is pitifully pleading to end his life. Saber is disgusted with Kiritsugu’s ways and now cannot believe that he will use the Grail to save the world even if she wins. Iri is also shocked and wants an explanation. Kiritsugu explains if only the Master is killed, the Servant would be free to form a contract with another Master. That’s why both Master and Servant must be simultaneously killed. He continues to add there is no honour and glory in a battlefield. It is hell itself and victory is the name for the crime paid by the pain of the defeated. Though his wish is still to win the Grail and save the world, what he did was employing appropriate methods at his disposal. He cares nothing about righteousness because it cannot save the world. He will make sure this Grail will be the last blood humanity will spill and will achieve it if it means staining his hands with every evil in the world. After Kiritsugu leaves, Iri collapses.

Episode 17
Kirei finds Risei’s dead body at the church and reports to Tokiomi who is visibly upset. Archer thought Kirei’s no-show of emotion was due to the fact that he didn’t have the chance to kill his father. Iri is healed back at their mansion when Maiya comes in with a letter from Tokiomi requesting to meet at the church to form an alliance. They discuss about him making elaborated preparations for the Grail War and if he is the one controlling Kirei in the shadows, all the more reason they can’t ignore this offer. Iri wants Saber to remember Kirei’s name for his is the man who can defeat Kiritsugu. Before Tokiomi proceeds to the church he stops by to meet his family. He talks to Rin, telling her to keep the Church in her debt. Everything else is based on her judgment and if she wishes to continue to be a Mage, she must undertake the responsibility of the Tohsaka family to attain the Grail. Tokiomi and Iri meet. He introduces Kirei as his student and once his competitor in this Grail War. Because 3 of the participants left are from the founding families and 1 an outsider, Tokiomi doesn’t want the Grail to fall to the outsider’s hands. Iri doesn’t want an alliance but a temporary ceasefire. They’ll settle things between themselves once other Masters are defeated. She lays down several conditions to work together. He must share any details he has about Rider and he must remove Kirei from the Grail War because there’s bad blood between the Einzbern camp and that Executor. Tokiomi seems surprised to hear this. When the leave, Saber rides first to check if the path is clear. Maiya follows behind and drives Iri home. Iri grows weak and explains about herself as a homunculus created for the Grail. That vessel for the Grail is disguised under the veil of “Iri”. She is surprised she could last this long. That’s why Avalon was left with her because it halts aging and has infinite healing powers. Its effects are what prevent Iri’s shell from collapsing. Of course the further Saber is away, the less effective it becomes. Iri is telling her this because she would acknowledge her and not pity her. Maiya promises to protect her with her life.

Tokiomi though would’ve preferred his dealings with Iri, dismisses Kirei from the participation. Kirei packs up but Archer comes to talk to him about his hesitation. Kirei gets a phone call and now he knows Iri’s location. Archer laughs and believes he is going to continue with this game. Kirei admits he once hesitated and did think of stopping and acknowledges Archer as correct because there is no other way to have his questions answered. He shows his arm filled with Command Spells. Before Risei died, he wrote in his blood a chapter from the Bible, Jn424 and Kirei took in all his Command Spells. Kirei reveals the truth behind this war. The ritual in Fuyuki is an attempt to open a passage to the Root through sacrifice of the souls of the 7 Heroic Spirits. Once can activate the Grail by killing all 7 Heroic Spirits. That’s why Tokiomi tried so hard not to use them as he needs one to force his own Servant to commit suicide once all the battles are over. Archer seems disappointed that this is all Tokiomi is worth. The both of them talk and indicate they should form a contract and be Master and Servant. Before Kirei leaves town, he talks to Tokiomi at his mansion. He gives a letter to Kirei that in worst case scenario, it leaves the Tohsaka family headship to Rin and Kirei named as her guardian till she comes of age. He wants her to train Rin as a senior apprentice when the Grail War is over. He agrees. Tokiomi gives him an Azoth dagger as gift as it symbolizes his mastery of the Tohsaka family’s magic and marks the end of his apprenticeship. As Tokiomi shows him the door out, Kirei stabs him in the back with the dagger! You can really say this is backstabbing. Kirei and Archer then make a pact and they become Master and Servant respectively. As long as Kirei continues to amuse him, he is okay to give the Grail to him as his reward. Kirei has no qualms in playing to fool till he seeks the answers he wants.

Episode 18
A little flashback at Kiritsugu’s past. He was growing up as a boy on a tropical island with his father, Noritaka as a researcher. One of the island locals, Shirley treats him like her little brother and even calls him Kerry (I guess his original name is hard to pronounce). Shirley is also Noritaka’s assistant in his research and has successfully created her first plant that will not wilt. Noritaka however has already reached his hundredth. He has altered the plants’ time flow and though they won’t age beyond their present appearance, they won’t die either. The question now is to test this theory out on humans. Shirley thought Kiritsugu should try planting one too but Noritaka forbids since it is too early for him. He only let Shirley tried because he believes she has the necessary knowledge and expertise. Even if Kiritsugu gets along well with the other locals, the villagers never liked Noritaka since he keeps all to himself. Even the local priest Simon hopes Shirley will stay away from his mansion for fear she might be possessed by a devil if she continues working there. Of course Shirley isn’t going to follow that and looks up to Noritaka. She believes his medicine could eradicate human mortality and just wants to people to understand that he is using his power for the good of the world. Even if Noritaka has given up on that, she believes Kiritsugu can do it. She also dismisses that she is her student and just an assistant. Her first flower has wilted. Next morning, Noritaka asks if his son had entered his atelier last night. Since he didn’t, he further warns Kiritsugu not to go to town today. Stay home. Shirley is late so Kiritsugu is worried and goes to town to find her. To his horror, he sees her killing chickens in her backyard and drinking its blood! Squirming in pain and trying to hold it back, she mentions all she wanted was to prove Noritaka’s research but it failed (must be some bottle Kiritsugu found emptied in her home). She wants him to kill her because she can’t hold back anymore.

Kiritsugu calls Simon and while he waits inside the church so Simon could go tell the villagers, he sees Simon getting killed by… Zombies?! Oh sh*t! The entire town is turning into the undead and the village is being burnt down. Men in cloak and suits are seen killing the zombies as Kiritsugu tries to run to safety. Just as he is cornered, a silver haired woman, Natalia Kaminski jumps in and coolly kills all the zombies with her guns like as though she’s a pro video gamer. Kiritsugu follows her and starts asking what the hell is happening. She explains the term of vampires whom they call Dead Apostles. They drink blood to reproduce themselves. Two groups are eliminating them. One, the Church’s Executors (guys in cloaks) who believes they have the right to kill anyone who defies the will of God. Of course this means Dead Apostles. Second, the Mage’s Association (guys in suits) who believe in keeping all secrets who create entities like Dead Apostles. In short, they kill anyone outside their circle whom they suspect of knowing such knowledge. They are the ones who set the village on fire. Natalia considers herself a salesperson for the Mage’s Association. Now it’s Kiritsugu’s turn to answer her questions. She wants to know the first person here who became a Dead Apostle, the medium that turned her into one and most important, a bad Mage who made it who is hiding on this island. I guess you know who that is. Kiritsugu returns home to confront his dad who is burning away his research notes. He wants to know why he is researching on Dead Apostles because Shirley used the magic on herself. He also wonders if he will use him one day like he did with Shirley. Noritaka regrets what happened and that it isn’t his intention but it means Shirley gave him her early answer. A Dead Apostle is a failure since it can’t control its blood lust. Since his research requires unlimited time and they can’t reach the Root with a mortal body, the failure of this time consuming research means he’ll need to rewrite his theory from scratch. He knows this would happen and has prepared an escape boat for them. However Kiritsugu coldly kills him with several gun shots. Natalia thought it was a weak excuse for a kid to kill his father since had he escaped, he would’ve continued his Dead Apostle research elsewhere. She will help him get off the island but what he does after that is up to him. Everything in the village is burnt to the ground while the duo leave the island on the motorboat. Kiritsugu decides to take nothing with him.

Episode 19
For the next several years, Natalia takes Kiritsugu under her wing and this means following her path as a bounty hunter. He was trained from how to assemble a gun and following her around the world to assassinate targets. She notes how he is aptly named because his name means cut and fasten. She was also the one who gave him the special bullets. As Kiritsugu follows Natalia around in her job, he learns that tragedies still occur in the world. I guess he was naïve when he killed his father thinking it would stop all evil. Natalia even ‘joked’ unless he got rid of every scum then it would be possible. Kiritsugu is also thought about survival and doing what it takes to survive and along the way picked up smoking from her (she didn’t give a damn. Hey, who is she? His mother?). One day Natalia got a request from the Mage’s Association to assassinate a Mage named Vorak. Apparently he is a Dead Apostle who uses bees as his familiar. Let’s say he’s such a dangerous guy that he upended the last town and a high bounty is placed on his head. So dangerous that he was one of the few failures in Natalia’s record. Now she gets the chance to clean up her own mess. They both cooperate and make plans to take not only Vorak out but his allies who are waiting at New York. While Natalia boards the same plane with Vorak, Kiritsugu is already in New York making the necessary moves. Suddenly it seemed so easy because Natalia just cast a spell behind Vorak’s seat and he just died. Kiritsugu has also taken out his allies. As Natalia neutralizes his bee familiars in the compartment she notices that the air stewardess is acting strange. Everyone on this plane has turned into a ghoul since Vorak had kept bee familiars inside his body too. Didn’t see that one coming. And Natalia didn’t make any preparations to skydive.

Somehow Natalia manages to make her way to the cockpit, re-establish communications to inform the control tower for an emergency landing and use all her knowledge she has to pilot the plane. Just a thick door separates her from being devoured by the 300 odd crew and passengers. Scary, huh? Kiritsugu isn’t just going to wait and pray for a miracle as he too makes haste on his preparations. Within the final few minutes before Natalia lands, the duo talk about how Kiritsugu had lots of potential as a killer because he was able to separate his feelings when he pulled the trigger (something that most killers take years to do), the gratitude of teaching him to survive and thus she is like a mother to him and the possibility of what she’ll do if she quits or retires (probably play that mother part). By now you could’ve guessed that the preparations Kiritsugu had been making by renting a boat out to sea and loading his bazooka is to blast the plane out of the sky! And he pulls the trigger without hesitation. BOOM! On the verge of losing his sanity, he feels what he did is right and didn’t mess up like Shirley’s case. For if Natalia had successfully landed, there is no telling how many more people might’ve turned into ghouls. So her sacrifice prevented that. Then he loses it and screams from the top of his lungs. I guess nobody can see him go crazy at sea. Then he hardens his heart. No more emotions. No more his naïve justice. Just like how we know him.

Episode 20
Kiritsugu visits Iri who is resting back at their house. She returns Avalon to him because he’ll need it. I guess when people are close to death, they get sentimental. Iri talks about being happy with him for 9 years and to guide Ilya and perhaps bring her to this country one day. Kiritsugu orders Maiya to continue and watch over Iri. He predicts a fight between Saber and Rider will occur and Archer will intervene. That’s why he is going to assassinate Tokiomi. But as he is staking out his house, he realizes something amiss. There is no magic barrier. He heads inside and sees blood stains on the carpet. Using some spray, he concludes it is Tokiomi’s blood and he has been killed. Saber heads over to Rider’s base but doesn’t sense his presence. Actually Waver is resting at the place where he first summoned Rider to replenish his mana. He knows he has exhausted them after the river battle. Waver is willing to have him use his mana then but Rider won’t put his Master’s life in danger. Because Waver is determined to fight and win the Grail, Rider mentions if that only exists. Just like him, Rider too fought for something that may not have existed: Okeanos. He told his people he would show it to them and they blindly believed and followed him. Many died along the way. When he came to this world, he saw the map and realized the world was round. It hit him and felt like a bad joke but had no choice but to accept it. He is done letting people die for his fairytales but is willing to risk his life for Waver for the Grail. By night fall, his mana will be replenished enough to fight Saber though he can only use Ionian Hetairoi one last time. He thinks it’s better to save it for their fight against Archer. As why he is obsessed in fighting Saber, Rider feels it’s his duty to guide that girl the right path or else she won’t learn. Meanwhile Kariya wakes up from a nightmare from becoming Berserker’s sacrifice. Zouken is impressed he lasted this long and gives him swallow some worm. It is his trump card for this stage and it contains Sakura’s purity. It had been devouring her life force for an entire year so make sure to make good use of that stolen life force and acquire the Grail. If he can, that is.

Iri talks to Maiya about her loyalty to Kiritsugu. She has nothing else. She doesn’t know her family or her name. Maiya is the name Kiritsugu wrote in her fake passport. All she remembers is her country is extremely poor. So poor that it can’t maintain its army, ironically there were killings every day. Instead of training an army, they devised a cheaper and quicker method to kidnap kids and arm them. Maiya was one of them. She is dead inside as a human but her body continues to move. That is her way of life. Even so, Kiritsugu took her in and she allows him to use her in any way she wants. But Maiya is surprised that for Iri who has spent most of her life within the castle walls, why is she fighting alongside Kiritsugu to change the world. She admits she borrowed his ideals and doesn’t understand what he is trying to change but her true wish is to end all conflict. She hopes this will be the last Grail War and that she will be the last homunculus. Because if they fail, it will be Ilya’s turn next as it’s the destiny of every Einzbern homunculus. Their conversation is cut short when Rider barges through the door. Maiya is able to contact Kiritsugu so he uses his Command Spell to order Saber to return to their house. However all she sees is badly injured Maiya. She wants her to go after Rider as he has just kidnapped Iri and can still catch up. She will wait till Kiritsugu arrives. I don’t know how far he was but it is already night when he arrives by Maiya’s side. He starts to get emotional but she wants him to save those tears for his wife instead. Kiritsugu assures to leave everything to Saber and that she has served her purpose. With her heart at ease, Maiya finally lets go her last breathe.

Episode 21
Saber weaves in and out through traffic as she chases after Rider. Even going the opposite traffic flow! Not to be emulated. When Rider notices she is catching up, he decides to settle their match via race. Saber’s bike is at its limit so I don’t know what she does to power up. Now it’s one mean looking machine and a faster to speed to match its futuristic look. Rider isn’t going to play by the rules either so he uses his chariot wheels to smash the walls and send it crumbling to Saber. Guess what? She outmanoeuvres all of them! Eventually she catches up and they clash swords (albeit just one strike). Then Saber realizes Iri is not with them. Where could she be? She was so sure it was Rider who took her. Meanwhile Kiritsugu notices some oddities surrounding Maiya’s death. He tracks it down and it leads him to a Matou subordinate. He interrogates the guy for Kariya’s whereabouts because based on his deduction, Rider’s Master is incapable of gathering necessary information to find the place and Tokiomi is in no position to attack. The guy swears he knows nothing except that he saw Kariya leaving with a priest. That could only mean one guy: Kirei. Seems Kariya and Kirei had made a deal. Kariya used 2 of his Command Spells to order Berserker to masquerade as Rider (the appearance of the real Rider made it better for them). In exchange for bringing Iri to him, Kirei replenishes both his depleted Command Spells. The other promise is Tokiomi and Kirei wants Kariya to come to the church at midnight where he’ll definitely find him. Soon, Kirei senses Zouken’s presence. The old fart is amused to see what kind of tricks he is going to use to break Kariya. He admits he loves seeing Kariya suffer and is torn between that or seeing his clan win the Grail. He believes Kirei has the same smell as him because like a maggot, they are attracted to Kariya’s rotting flesh. Kirei attacks him but he turns out to be just a familiar substitution. Zouken notes he is still a dog of the Church and hopes they will meet one day.

Rider and Saber prepare to face off. Rider notes Saber can only truly shine when she joins his army. Waver realizes he was never interested in his enemy’s power or wealth. He sought to conquer their souls without destroying or degrading them. Rider charges while Saber power s up her Excalibur. The results? Saber wins of course. Rider is hanging on the tree with Waver in his arm. His chariot is toast and could’ve been the same if he didn’t leap off. Saber leaves as Rider apologizes for his failure. Waver wants him to use Ionian Hetairoi but he is only willing to expend his chariot on her. So I suppose it’s a long walk back home. On foot. Kariya enters the church and sees Tokiomi sitting in the front seat. He starts boasting about coming back from the dead till he realizes something amiss. He’s dead! In perfect timing, Aoi just came in and thought he killed Tokiomi. I understand he is panicking but couldn’t he just deny he was the one who killed him? Instead, he starts blaming Tokiomi for the cause of their suffering when Aoi points out he had to go this far to win the Grail. When Aoi says he doesn’t understand a thing because he never loved anyone, Kariya snapped. There was a person he always loved. The reason why he went through this hell. So when he is denied that, what was all the pain and suffering for? If he’s going to die then he might as well kill her too. And so he strangles Aoi to death in his fit. When he realizes what he has done, he becomes hysterical and goes crazy. Archer and Kirei are watching this ‘horrible play’ that is ‘written’ by Kirei. Not bad at his first attempt? Kirei tastes the wine and it felt different. Archer points out it means his horizon of understanding is expanding. Now that he has a taste of such wonderful taste, he would love to sample it again.

Episode 22
Waver returns home and grandpa invites him up to the roof to talk. Seems he knows Waver isn’t his real grandson. He should be angry but notes he and his wife felt happy recently. Also, it’s not like he is staying here to harm them. He wants him to stay a little longer but Waver can’t guarantee that and might not come back alive. Noting that Waver is risking his life for something important, grandpa mentions that once you have lived very long and look back, you’ll realize that there is nothing worth risking your life for. Kiritsugu is waiting at Mt Enzou shrine. He notes that to win the war and summon the Grail, one must perform a ritual at one of the four Fuyuki ley line areas. Among them are the church and Tokiomi’s residence but Kirei is not there. That leaves this shrine or Fuyuki city hall. If Kirei chooses the latter, he can launch a frontal assault. If Maiya was still around, he would’ve had her secure the place. But now he’s alone again. Naturally. Iri wakes up and learns Kirei has brought her to Ryuunosuke’s hideout, a place Kiritsugu will never figure out. He notes the Grail War will end but when Iri points out he is different that Kiritsugu, he becomes angry. He admits he is an empty man but Kiritsugu is no different. Why does he want the Grail? Iri replies he wants to save the world from bloodshed and wish for eternal peace. Can’t understand? That’s the difference. Kirei thinks conflict is mankind’s primal instinct and wiping that out means eliminating mankind. Iri adds by explaining Kiritsugu’s kindness. He can’t help but love others despite knowing he’ll eventually lose them. Kirei than strangles and kills Iri. He has somewhat understood who Kiritsugu is and has a reason to fight. He will smash his ideals and the Grail to smithereens right in front of his eyes. That night, Rider and Waver see magical lights flaring up the sky.

Waver knows it’s a signal to means the Grail War is coming to an end. However that signal is not coming from the church so it’s like someone is getting ahead of themselves. Rider prepares to go to war knowing that tonight is where everything ends. Since his chariot is gone, he summons his horse. But Waver doesn’t want to go with him. He then uses up all his 3 Command Spells to order him to fight till he gains victory, win the Holy Grail and conquer the world. Now that he lacks Command Spells, he no longer considers himself his Master and can go anywhere he wants. But Rider picks up him onto his horse. After giving those annoying orders, it must mean he is prepared to see the end, right? Also, Rider doesn’t consider him his Master but his friend. He has ride into many battles with him and stands as his equal. It’s getting a little emotional for Waver. And off they go riding into their final battle. Kiritsugu knows that it is Kirei’s plan to bait and kill other Masters because he chose the place least suitable for the ritual. It also indicates he doesn’t plan to steal the Grail. Archer and Kirei had a last chat together and Archer is given permission to go out all out and fight the rest though he won’t be here to protect this place of ceremony. Kirei will then use a Command Spell to save himself. What about the Grail? He can’t guarantee its safety if he’s away. If fate has it that way, then so be it. Since Kirei still has no wish upon the Grail, Archer’s only recourse is to have the Grail reveal what is hidden in his heart. Asking about Iri, Kirei tells him he killed her after thinking there is no reason why she should live. Iri is in some dream whereby Ilya is crying due to a scary dream of becoming a cup and seven big lumps appeared inside her stomach. Iri assures she won’t let that happen. She then realizes she is inside the Grail and gets absorbed.

Episode 23
Rider sees Archer before him. But it seems unusual for both kings to have their last drink together. Rider asks a final question that if his Ionian Hetairoi were armed with his Gate of Babylon, it would be the most powerful army imaginable. Care to be allies and conquer the stars? Well, the world doesn’t need 2 kings. With that, Archer accepts his challenge and both kings get ready to battle. Rider mentions Archer might be the last opponent he’ll face but Waver reminds him about the Command Spell orders. Rider unleashes Ionian Hetairoi and with his army behind him, they charge straight towards Archer. Meanwhile Saber is ambushed by Berserker, who is going berserk with his machine gun. Firing as though there is unlimited ammo. Oh wait. Is it? He’s not giving Saber any breathing space. Close by, Kariya is squirming in pain. He sees a vision of Sakura asking why is he in pain. He needs Berserker to fight because Kirei told him to and in the end will be given the Grail to save her like he promised. Everything will return to as it is. Well, till he remembers he killed Aoi. There he goes crazy again. Berserker blocks Saber’s Excalibur (not that any direct hit would have any damaging effect either). She is surprised that he knows the length of her blade and thinks he must be one of her knights and demands he reveals his identity as a knight’s pride demands. Then when Berserker’s helmet cracks open, she is shocked to recognize him as Sir Lancelot! Rider’s words ring through her ears that she never guided her subjects. Though she is saddened at Lancelot’s fate, he is like a mindless beast being fuelled by grudge, continuing to attack Saber.

Archer isn’t sweating in his pants as Rider and his army charge closer. He summons his ultimate sword and greatest treasure, Ea and chants “Enuma Elish”! The desert starts crumbling, a wide abyss opens and all the army men fall into the gap. The sky is also disintegrating as Waver realizes the sword is an anti-world Noble Phantasm capable of destroying all creation. Rider returns to the real world. He asks Waver if he wants to serve him as his subject. Waver gladly will serve his king and wants to see his dream. Rider puts him down from his horse and wants him to live. It is his task to speak to future generations of his dream and tell tales of his glory. Rider charges at Archer but the latter opens the Gate of Babylon and fires all the swords at Rider. Even if the horse is down, Rider continues to trudge forward on foot. Eventually he gets stab and is this close in striking Archer with his blade. Unfortunately, the chains from the Gate of Babylon restrain him. Archer stabs him in the heart with Ea. Archer guarantees this entire world is his garden till the end of time and feel free to challenge him as many times he wants. Dying Rider sees Okeanos but realizes the pounding of his heart was the sound of Okeanos’ waves. Archer walks towards Waver and wonders if he is Rider’s Master. He says he is his subject. Though a loyal subject has a duty to avenge his king, Waver knows challenging him would only mean death (in which Archer doesn’t deny). He can’t do it since he was ordered to live. Archer respects his loyalty and wants him never to tarnish it.

Episode 24
Saber laments if Lancelot hates her that much and wonders if it’s her fault he became this mad. Iri’s body turns into the Grail as it overflows with blood. Kiritsugu and Kirei face off. His special bullet seems to have no effect as he realized Kirei used his Command Spell as his mana source so the bullet doesn’t work if he isn’t using his own Magic Circuits. Both men are neck to neck and Kirei matches his speed to give Kiritsugu a knockout punch. Thanks to Avalon, Kiritsugu remains breathing and his injuries healed. Both sides recount what they have left and the next recourse to take (seems Kirei has 8 spare Command Spells left). Kiritsugu plays dead to surprise Kirei and fire his special bullet once more. Though this time it only manages to disable Kirei’s right hand. The fight is about to reach its climax when the ceiling caves in from the Grail’s blood. Saber stabs Berserker through his chest with Excalibur and vows to win the Grail otherwise there is nothing she can offer to him as compensation. Kirei finds himself on the island and Iri telling him he is inside the Grail and that black moon in the sky is the Grail that has yet to take form. All he needs to do is make a prayer and wish to give it form. Kiritsugu knows she is not Iri and she admits she is using a pre-existing personality as a shell or else she can’t communicate. She is the Grail’s will and wants to be reborn in this world. How can it grant his wish? Iri adds he learnt to save the world a long time ago and she will take over from him and continue. She is going to show it to him.

Kiritsugu finds himself inside a room and a question thrown at him. Two ships, one containing 300 passengers and the balance in the other. They are the last of mankind. There is a hole in both ships. Whom shall he save? He picks the one with most passengers. But the one with least passengers capture him and demand he fix their ship. What will he do? Next thing he sees dead bloodied bodies all over. This is his supposed answer. He killed them all. Next, the 300 survivors split into another 2 ships. One having 200 passengers and the other only 100 and both ships have a hole forming at the bottom. Whom shall he save? Same thing. The one with more passengers but he is captured by the ship with least passengers and forced to fix their ship. The 100 are slaughtered. Kiritsugu views this as wrong because the scales are wrongly tipped. The Grail insists he was correct because he chose to save the majority at the cost of the minority. He has always been killing the minority on the lighter side of the scales even if it meant leaving a long trail of dead bodies. This is his truth. This is the course of action the Grail will take to grant his wish. This is not what Kiritsugu wished for since he was hoping for a miracle but the Grail says it cannot include a wish in which oneself is not aware of. If he wishes to save the world, it must be done in a way he can understand. So how is this a miracle? The deed he tried failed can be accomplished at a scale beyond the power of any man. The Grail points him out as Angra Mainyu, the one who is worthy of bearing all the world’s evil. The final question is thrown. Three people are left. Maiya and Iri-Ilya. Choose one. Maiya is killed. Kiritsugu finds himself in the happy company of Iri and Ilya. Iri tells him the Grail has realized his prayer and now all he has to do is wish for it. However Kiritsugu bids goodbye to Ilya and shoots her! Iri becomes frantic but he starts strangling her. So why did he refuse the Grail? Six billion people at the cost of two of his family members… Iri curses him till Kiritsugu breaks her neck.

Kirei wakes up to find Kiritsugu pointing a gun at him. He has also seen that dream and couldn’t understand why had simply thrown away something he worked so hard to obtain. Kiritsugu shrugs it off as a wish granting device so Kirei wants him to give it to him instead because if it is born, it can answer all his doubt. Kiritsugu shoots him. Saber arrives in the room where the Grail is floating. Archer stands before her and wants her to become his wife. She claims the Grail is hers but Archer tells her to throw away her foolish ideals and vows and why obsess in something so dubious. Be stained by his colours and he shall give you every pleasure there is to feel. Well, why want her answer when he obviously stated he did not ask for her opinion and it’s what he has decided? You think Saber would gladly give up so easily? Yeah. It wouldn’t be fun if she had. So Archer plans to give her more pain because it is essential to learn that before she learns the joy of serving him. Saber sees Kiritsugu behind Archer. He uses his Command Spell to order Saber to use Excalibur and destroy the Grail. The Servants are surprised at his decision. To show he is serious. Kiritsugu uses his last Command Spell to repeat that same order. Can you defy that?

Episode 25
Saber couldn’t understand Kiritsugu’s actions. Naturally how can she when she can’t understand the hearts of those who served her. This must be God’s punishment. The Grail is destroyed but it seems a black hole is forming from the sky and pouring out magma! It is flowing and burning through Fuyuki City! Ilya narrates how she woke up from a bad dream that she became a cup and it’s tearing her apart. She’s so scared but she can’t run away. She also sees Kiritsugu crying. Iri’s voice assures her that Kiritsugu is doing his best and will come home when he is finished. Kiritsugu is running through the city in a frenzy trying to find any survivors but his actions are all for naught. Kariya returns to rescue Sakura. We see him unite her with Rin and they’re both grateful for him. Aoi’s alive too? Well, this would be the scenario if he had won. In reality, Sakura kills him and lets his body get devoured by the bugs as punishment for defying Zouken. Kirei wakes up to find naked Archer sitting beside him. He pulled Kirei out of the rubble and isn’t sure what happened too since the ‘mud’ spat him out and thinks he has achieved true reincarnation. Kirei remembers he was shot and has no heartbeat so did Archer healed him? Not too sure either. He thinks with the others Servants gone, this means he has won the Grail and tells Kirei to look at his surroundings. If the Grail was really a wish granting device, then this destruction and annihilation is what Kirei must have wished for. Kirei starts laughing at the madness but he is not satisfied yet. Though the answer has been presented to him, he wants to know the workings to reach it and will use the remainder of his life to understand it. Archer finds him interesting and shall watch over him in his quest for truth. Kirei then sees Kiritsugu trudging through the rubble like a zombie, digging through anything he can find. He leaves him alone. The only survivor he pulled out is a boy, Shirou. He is so happy to find a survivor that is though it wasn’t Shirou who was saved but more like he saved himself. Despite Shirou on the brink of death, Kiritsugu’s gratefulness made him green with envy.

In the aftermath, we see Waver talking to his grandparents. He thinks of travelling but needs to get a job and earn some money. Till then, he hopes he can stay with them. They would gladly have him continue his stay. He goes back to his messy room and goes through all the stuffs Rider had bought. Kirei reads his sermon at Tokiomi’s grave with Rin now as the head of the family. He praises her for making a flawless debut and is confident she will do well in carrying on the family’s magic. Aoi is still alive but has gone senile. She is unaware of the bearings around her and thinks Kirei is her husband and Sakura is still her daughter. Kirei gives Rin the Azoth dagger and it brings her to tears. Saber finds herself back in her own time, standing atop the heaps of corpses. She remembers Lancelot’s last words when she stabbed him. He couldn’t stop loving Guinevere and thus couldn’t forgive himself. But Saber/King Arthur never questioned his crimes and continued to stand before them in her righteousness. Lancelot wanted his judgment and had she judged him then, he might not have set on his own path of madness to find atonement. He can say for all who served her, she is the greatest king of all. Saber vows to win the Grail someday and laments she shouldn’t have become king. Kiritsugu narrates he tried to visit Ilya but because he didn’t win the Grail, Jubstacheit never opened the forest’s magic field to their home. He never saw her again but will be the last person he’ll ever lose. He soon adopts Shirou and repairs the Japanese mansion. Five years later he tells Shirou how he wanted to be a hero of justice but gave up because being a hero is a limited time thing and it’s hard to call yourself one when you’re an adult. In that case, Shirou will do it on his behalf then. He’ll carry out his dream since he is still a kid.

All Because Of Some H-Cup…
So this is how it all happened. Reading back my blog on Fate/Stay Night sure did refresh some memories and made sense of everything. The pieces that I couldn’t understand then seem to have fallen in place. At least most of it. Overall, I could say that this prequel is way better than the sequel in terms of just about everything. The storyline, the presentation and the quality. The plot is interesting enough for me to be kept glued to the screen. If I can recall, there was never a dull moment even with all the conversational drama, some filler episodes like Rin’s bold adventure into the city or Kiritsugu’s flashback. I thought I was going to be bored and have my rhythm of the series interrupted with such episodes and boy was I wrong. Instead I was also engrossed in watching them and with each passing episode, the more I wanted to find out what happen next. So as the series ends in such a tragic and sad note, I feel moved by all the events that had unfolded that eventually will lead to the inevitable despite knowing from the beginning that I was going to expect something like this. To sum up this prequel, it is one brilliant and amazing piece of work done and perhaps one of the very few good animes that have managed to keep my interest afloat throughout the entire duration.

Each of the ‘new’ characters in this series brings in their own life and dynamism to the story. They have their own past and reasons for wanting to attain the Grail even if it is something ambiguous and never proven to have come true. Until now. The best Servant character in this series in my opinion goes to Rider. His eccentric and superior character truly makes him a man to be reckoned with. Despite every character having their own views about leadership and such, Rider was probably the most convincing in his argument so that’s why I felt that he is such a cool guy. Perhaps if I were to participate in the Grail War, I would want this fun and sporting dude to be my Master. But putting him side by side with Waver makes it feel like a big mismatch and the total opposites between them make it feel like they are strange bedfellows. Having Rider as his Master proves to be a blessing in disguise because Waver gets to learn a lot and become a better person in the end. Saber may have been the main star of this show but it doesn’t feel that she t overshadows everything as other characters take their fair share of the centre stage. Because Rider and Saber are both kings in their own right, their views differ greatly but as seen during the conversation of kings, Saber lost out her argument to Rider. She was in a dilemma as her role as king and came to realize too late that it was probably her own doing that got her into this mess. Archer is arrogant and haughty in his own right, which suits his title as King of Heroes very well. How can he be king if he doesn’t show who is truly the boss around? It still bugs me if the Grail considers him the winner. After all, he is the only Servant that didn’t lose and return to his original time line.

Kiritsugu is a hard-bitten, hard-boiled and emotionless person who gets the job done thanks to his horrible past. You can say that his way of saving mankind is twisted, killing a few bad seeds for the sake of the majority. But it still doesn’t discount the fact that he leaves a trail of dead bodies behind. So what happens when you add up that tally? Yeah. He may have killed the entire human race by then. His cold, underhanded and merciless way of killing off his enemies would earn the scorn of noble Saber but I suppose for a guy like him to live in this harsh world, you do what it takes to survive and not get your emotion in the way. What happens when Kiritsugu’s final salvation in the Grail’s wish falls apart? You also see him fall apart. His twisted ideals once more crushed to bits. Thankfully a shred of humanity in him has been retained when he saved Shirou. Otherwise, my guess is that he could have become a crazy person beyond help. Equally as twisted as Kiritsugu and one who could stand equal as him is Kirei. He too has endured misery and suffering in his life so it’s no surprise that he doesn’t know what he seeks for in life anymore. I guess he revels in committing sin even if he himself doesn’t realize it. So is he the winner of the Grail War? He was shot, right? Kiritsugu couldn’t be such a lousy shot at such close range. What brought him back to life? Not even Archer knew. So it has to be the Grail, maybe? How else could you explain the Master-Servant pair still hanging around after Fuyuki’s devastation? Tokiomi I thought he got what was coming to him. He was so confident that his plan would work despite a little diversion here and there. How could he not suspect that Kirei would be the one to betray and kill him in the end? Either he was too trustful or just stupid. And it cost him his life. Never knew what hit (stabbed, rather) him.

Some of the characters just had me feeling that they didn’t really make much of an impact. What do I mean is, take for example Ryuunosuke. He is just a serial killer who loves killing and the colour of guts. I felt that bringing in a random ordinary person who has no relation to Mages and the history of magic was just to fill up the roles and have the Grail War start. Look, Ryuunosuke was the last participant to enter the fray and technically the first one to go out (Kirei and his Assassin wouldn’t count if you consider that it is all part of Tokiomi’s big grand plan thingy). So how the Grail chooses its participants is still a mystery. How Ryuunosuke entered the Grail War too was perhaps by luck since he was just drawing some random pentagram to summon demons. So if it wasn’t him, it could’ve been anybody else. Then there is this Kariya guy too. Besides having the goal to save Sakura, he is someone who is just lurking in the shadows. He doesn’t show himself upfront regularly so it’s hard to ‘feel’ him around. Though I think his fate is the most tragic one among the rest because he almost killed the person he loves and got killed by the very person he tried to save. Even sadder made by the fact that Zouken enjoys seeing him squirming in pain so much so that it seems that he has no interest in obtaining the Grail whatsoever. Even if he had, it was just an excuse to watch Kariya suffer. After all, he sounded like he never expected him to win it or put high hopes on him in the first place. Kayneth felt like a minor antagonist for the series. You know, you need someone who is prideful and such. When he went out of commission, I thought his scheming fiancee would take over next but that didn’t last long and it was a surprise that they were taken out together.

When the second half of the series started to get grim and serious, meaning that the pace of the story starts to pick up and we see the characters fall one by one like ants, there is at least one character that will die in each of the episode. Starting with Assassin’s elimination and Ryuunosuke’s assassination to get the ball rolling right down to Kariya’s death at the end. I considered Iri dead because she turned into the cup. That’s as good as being dead. Although Aoi is still breathing, but now that she has turned into a cuckoo state, that’s as good as being dead, no? I thought that the ‘new’ characters in this series would all eventually die but I guess this wasn’t made true because Waver is the only ‘newbie’ that survived all the madness. New as in those who did not appear in Fate/Stay Night because their demise is why they don’t appear, right? Despite Waver not appearing in Fate/Stay Night, I hope he is happily travelling around the world telling great tales of Iskandar. Or you can just pick up the history book and read what is believed to be written on him as him. Or just Google it.

It makes me wonder how the founding families did find out that the Grail was a wish granting device. If it was, whose wish was it that was granted first that led them to believe so and eventually the creation of this Holy Grail War? Though Einzbern Consultation Room did explain some bits of it but I don’t think people like me who don’t even play the game would understand. So now that some have witnesses it is not really a wish granting device and perhaps an Armageddon inducing device, will they drop this Grail War thingy? Not likely. As long as there is human greed and desire. The cup will always be there waiting to replenish itself. So it also bugs me that the next Grail War takes place in the next 10 years when it was mentioned that it takes 60 years for everything to gather once more. Maybe things got a little hastened? My guess that Saber is the only one who returned in the next Grail War is because she has yet to fulfil her wish. Well, she did promise she is going to have another try to win the Grail. If her, why not other Servants too? Caster probably saw shades of Jeanne and died happy. Rider probably has come to terms with his own dream so he doesn’t feel the need for it anymore. Berserker has already got the atonement he wanted. Lancer may never get the loyalty he wanted but he was unceremoniously dumped out of the war and who wouldn’t be raging mad after being forced to commit suicide. Heck, he even cursed the cup so what are the chances of him returning if he had the chance to answer the call again? Assassin… Who again? I don’t know much about him. Too many personalities. Archer? Did he really win the Grail like he thought he did? Well, he did return in Fate/Stay Night as the eighth Servant. Even so, he is hanging around as long Kirei can amuse and entertain him.

The animation quality is crisp and it is definitely superior than its predecessor. Whether it is the flow and reflection of the water or the sparks that fly when the swords clash or the casting of magic spells, each one look awesome enough to draw you into the world’s setting and get immersed in it. It also manages to pain a very dark and grim atmosphere and the tragedy that will befall onto the characters and the city. The action also doesn’t disappoint and personally I feel that each fight between the Servants is tantalizing enough to keep one glued to the screen. Each of the Servants has their own strengths and weaknesses so it is interesting to see how they use what they have to turn the battle tide to their favour. Whether it is the honour battle between the knights, the cooperation between the Servants to take down rampaging Caster and even the vehicle race-cum-battle between Rider and Saber is exciting and engaging. Although I had a hunch who would have made it further into the final moments of the Grail War (especially Saber and Archer), I still can’t help feel sometimes when Saber engages in battle, there is a chance that she will still lose since her rivals are no easy pushovers. However I lament her fight with Berserker because it felt somewhat short that it doesn’t do any justice. Don’t get me wrong. We see them engaging in a pretty close exhilarating duel for a minute or two but the way it ended with Saber suddenly overcoming Berserker and stabbing him in the chest with Excalibur, I thought it just felt cheap. So would have a longer battle suffice? Maybe. But perhaps that episode was more focused on Kiritsugu and Kirei’s bout and the former’s inner battle with the Grail. Also, I thought I could see the final fight between Saber and Archer but I supposed they only had their bout in Fate/Stay Night.

Due to the lack of subs, it is unfortunate that I can’t finish the Einzbern Consultation Room specials for the second half of the series (there are a total of 6 of them). It would have been fun to see what Iri and Zecchan continue to discuss so I just went browsing online and briefly read what the balance specials were about (I may be wrong so feel free to correct me). It seems Special 4 was about Caster ranting about his Jeanne and also the Noble Phantasms’ cost and power. Special 5 is about Lancer while Special 6 is extended to a half-hour special discussing about the skills of the classes, Lancer in his original form (and having more vocabulary and talking much more than we see in the TV series) and how his conflict with Saber came about, and the tragic fate that befalls on all Einzbern women. As I read, those who played the games would appreciate these specials better than those who only watched the anime. Maybe that’s why there are lots of stuffs that I didn’t understand.

Ayako Kawasumi is retained as the voice of Saber and she still commands strong presence as her character. It’s something like her other role in Kaibutsu Oujo as Hime. Kana Ueda and Mai Kadokawa are also retained as the voice of Rin and Ilya respectively. The rest of the other casts are also superb and they really fit perfectly with their character roles. Like Satoshi Tsuruoka (Usui in Maken-Ki) really made Caster sound like a mad magician and Akira Ishida (Gaara in Naruto) is convincing as a serial killer who enjoys killing children. Archer’s arrogance and superiority is made possible thanks to Tomokazu Seki (Chiaki in Nodame Cantabile) while Akio Ootsuka (Blackbeard in One Piece, Kyouraku in Bleach) truly made Rider sound like a brazen conqueror and Rikiya Koyama (Emonzaemon in Katanagatari) as Kiritsugu the hard bitten and disillusioned character. Other sterling casts include Sayaka Ohara as Iri (Alicia in Aria The Animation), Jouji Nakata as Kirei (Giroro in Keroro Gunsou), Daisuke Namikawa as Waver (Kazehaya in Kimi Ni Todoke), Tarusuke Shingaki as Kariya (Eishirou in Prince Of Tennis II), Sho Hayami as Tokiomi (Aizen in Bleach), Ayumi Tsunematsu as Maiya (Takako in Hanasaku Iroha), Hikaru Midorikawa as Lancer (Rukawa in Slam Dunk), Takumi Yamazaki as Kayneth (Harada in Mezzo), Megumi Toyoguchi as Sola-Ui (Ran in Super Gals), Ryotaro Okiayu as Berserker (Byakuya in Bleach), Akeno Watanabe as Natalia (Rito in To Love-Ru), Masashi Hirose as Risei (Hades in Fairy Tail), Masane Tsukayama as Zouken (Karl in Fullmetal Alchemist) and Hasumi Itou as Aoi.

The first opening theme is a rock outfit, Oath Sign by Lisa while the first ending theme is Memoria by Aoi Eir doing a powerful rendition of this moderate pace rock piece. The second opening theme is To The Beginning by Kalafina and it isn’t as ominous as I expected to be like the ones she sang in Kuroshitsuji II and Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. But you can still identify her choir-like vocals. Though the special ending theme for Kiritsugu’s flashback by Kalafina, Manten doesn’t have that ominous feel too, this one has a hint of sadness in it which fits perfectly the direction and ambience of this back story. The second ending theme is Sora Wa Takaku Kaze Wa Utau by Luna Haruna and it feels like the tone for the series has been reduced with this song sounding like a pop ballad. As for the background music, from what I sampled from some of the OST, most of them have this grandiose feel with a full orchestra and choir voices to accompany them. They are most fitting for majestic battle sequences and dramatic scenes, though I may not have noticed them while I was watching the episodes since I was too engrossed in the storyline. Really. Of course there are some other background music that range from slow piano solo and just plain eerie.

At the end of each episode (where the title of the episode appears) right before the ending credits, there is a countdown timer to what I believe was initially the time left for the entire series to end. I didn’t really pay attention to this because in the beginning it seemed like there was a lot of time left. Then as the episodes dwindled, I began to notice that the amount of time remaining doesn’t seem to add up to the number of episodes left (each episode is worth around 24 minutes, so do the math). Then after thinking about it and subsequently confirming it with my ‘lazy’ online research, I realized that it is actually the countdown to the end of the Grail War. Then it becomes apparent when the timer reaches zero in the middle of the final episode. I guess this is only appropriate to the storyline and more suitable than a timer to signal the end of the series. Well, the time ticking down feels like a bomb. And we all know what happened, right? Nobody was able to cut the right fuse. Was there any? Just like a time bomb waiting to explode and there is nothing you can do about it.

So we can see that people will go to great lengths just to obtain something ambiguous and not proven to get what they want. After all the blood spills and lives taken, do you think your wish is really worth it all? Feels like playing God sometimes, huh? And as the Grail worded it, you don’t really expect some super miracle that only exists in our imagination and fantasy. If you want something done, it is best you get it done yourself with your own hands. By hook or by crook. That way, you’re already halfway of what you want to achieve. Therefore, don’t rely on some H-cup for some support because they don’t exist. Boobs that size don’t really exist in reality. Oops. I almost forgot this isn’t an ecchi series and made such a statement. Let’s hope the cup you seek is the one where you’d enjoy your favourite coffee or tea. And drink it with no worries that it will never spill over whatsoever. That would be better fulfilment and satisfaction. Thus always remember, cups are not meant for granting wishes but only for drinking or support.

Chrno Crusade

March 18, 2012

I always thought the Great Depression back in the 1920’s and 1930’s were caused by the devastating collapse of the stock market prices in the USA. I didn’t know it was the preceding economic prosperity that had the wealthy and rich dabbled into something dark and sinister: Devil worshipping, that brought upon the Great Depression era. Actually, that was what I had in mind when I watched Chrno Crusade. Set in the alternate reality of New York circa 1928 AD, Manhattan is exactly what I had in mind back in those days. Bootleg liquor, mafia mobs ruling the streets, crime rates, the ever widening gap between the rich and poor. Ah, New York certainly indeed. Oh, let’s not get diverted from this blog shall we?

Being the action supernatural series this is, I guess that’s why they put demons into the picture. I guess if you have powerful demons with intentions of surfacing and wrecking the delicate balance between Heaven, Earth and Hell, you can’t have an ordinary Sunday church to stop these dark creatures, right? So herald a special organization, Magdalene Order that seeks out these creatures and banishes them to the deep depths of the earth to keep us humans safe and sound so they all can go home and have a good night’s sleep. Sometimes I always thought that humans themselves are the biggest demons. But let’s not get sidetracked again. You’re not going to just see this organization kick ass with all the demons they encounter. That would be tad boring. We have the main characters driven with their tragic and shadowy past, dark and bloody history and relationship, add a little mix of drama and comedy, you’ll have the crucial ingredients of a manga plot and development that would probably make you pray harder to God than ever before. Okay, I admit. I didn’t.

Episode 1
In 1928 at Brooklyn, New York, Sister Rosette Christopher and Chrno are rudely awakened by a phone call from Sister Kate Valentine to quickly get into action since they’re the nearest. I don’t know where Rosette got her driving licence because she crashed her car into to building! Rosette introduces herself from the Magdalene Order as they get ready to bust into the building that is under hostage situation. Let’s say these kids are like Ghostbusters of the 20’s. Trekking through the creepy hallways, they enter a room to see the culprit in some satanic ritual. Rosette removes the sheets but the ghoul is right above her. She manages to dodge and pump a few shots. The ghoul starts expanding as they make a run for it. It explodes and covers everyone in black icky gooey. And somehow the entire building comes crashing down. Back at Magdalene, Kate reprimands Rosette for the damage she has done (again). Yeah, she always goes beyond their expectations. That’s not a compliment! Kate wonders if it’s her assistant who is an inhabitant of the darkness who summoned the darkness. Rosette immediately denies and says it’s her lack of ability instead and will write an apology letter. Father Ewan Remington comes in, Rosette starts to blush. Says a lot, eh? Kate is not amused he spoils her but Rosette excuses herself to write the letter. Looks like she doesn’t listen to anybody except Remington. Meanwhile Chrno is having it tough as a bunch of sisters pester him for details of Rosette’s damage. A block? An island? Don’t let her catch you say that? Oops. Too late. During dinner, Rosette thanks Chrno and mentions that her image of her younger brother, Joshua hasn’t change and still dreams about him. Edward “Elder” Hamilton, the perverted weapon scientist appears from underneath, peeping under Rosette’s skirt. He shows her a magic bullet called Gospel, supposedly stronger than any Sacred but it’s still a prototype. He allows her to test it if she allows him to touch her tits. She allows him… To get beaten up, that is! The duo are called for another mission, this time onboard a British cargo ship. Thankfully Rosette didn’t crash the car this time. One of the survivors is seen but quickly turns into a demon. Chrno recognizes this as Calamity, the formation of overwhelming anger but this one is being controlled from somewhere else. Rosette starts firing several shots as they chase the demon into the ship. As Chrno tries to move the ship from the port, Rosette hunts the demon. Another round of pumping bullets but she is cornered and runs out of ammo. Chrno then throws her the Gospel that he stole from Elder and in 1 shot, the demon is dramatically destroyed and returns to its original form, supposedly some stolen artefact. Then they realize the ship just hit the Statue of Liberty! Oh, Rosette insists this isn’t her fault!

Episode 2
Rosette wakes up from a dream. One whereby her young self and Joshua first met Chrno and were excited of meeting a demon. Then Aion (in crow form) hypnotizes Joshua and he disappears. Elder is working on new bullets called Spirit, in which demons are inside it. More accurately when fired, it unleashes a tremendous amount of power similar to when you summon a demon. Joshua doesn’t like the sound of it as Elder instructs Kate to take this new bullets to Kate. Can she be trusted after that Gospel case? Apparently on her way, they are being called for a mission. So I guess this is perfect excuse for Rosette to ‘steal’ the bullets. At the scene, Rosette fires several shots into the flying horned demon. She is going to fire Spirit to finish it off. Chrno disagrees but that distraction has the demon creep out on her as she drops her gun into a nearby bush. Fortunately the demon has used up its remaining life energy and soon disintegrates. They search for the gun but can’t seem to find it. That’s because a suspicious guy among the crowd has already taken it. Rosette reports back to Kate and for once, she didn’t get yelled at. Actually she was lying. No wonder. But Remington can tell since she isn’t acting naturally in front of Kate but promises to keep it a secret. Elder and Chrno are checking out the horn Rosette shot off the demon. Elder is also building a sensor that detects Spirit’s demonic powers. Looks weird. But does it work? Urm… It senses one nearby. That suspicious guy breaks into the church grounds as everyone is on alert. This guy is emitting lots of dark aura and is not heeding orders to stay put as he trudges forward. To their horror, they see him holding a Government’s Exorcist Gun model (Rosette’s). He then points to his own head and pulls the trigger. The horned demon bursts out from his body and begins attacking. Chrno realizes it swallowed Spirit’s demonic power and replaced the power of its broken horn with it. Everyone fires but it has no effect. Chrno knows it wants to retrieve its horn and lures it. Rosette tries to settle this herself but gets whacked unconscious. Chrno goes berserk to see his contractor not moving and is about to lose it. His aura so powerful that it shatters glasses and on the verge of breaking his seal. But Rosette wakes up and manages to calm him down. She then fires Gospel into the demon and kills it for good. Kate wonders how she can trust that demon so Elder tells her Rosette doesn’t acknowledge him as a demon. For now they can only watch over them. Joshua is relaxing on a beautiful beach when her maid Fiore informs him of Aion’s call. Suddenly they are confronted with a huge iron dude named Bolso and his winged army. He is looking for that sinner Aion and wants to pass judgement. Joshua tells Fiore to make coffee and will finish this. By the time Fiore finishes making coffee, Bolso and his entire army are wiped out! Joshua has only a minor scratch on his hand. Now the entire beach and sea is bloodied! Who’s going to clean this up?

Episode 3
Back in 1917 in Fatima, Portugal, Mother Maria and whispered words of the end of the world war to 3 little shepherds known as the Fatima Prophecy. With 2 World Wars ended, the last one was a highly classified matter by the Roman Pope. But Magdalene’s investigations show the appearance of an Apostle: The Agents of Earth sent by God. They must be put under protection so Chrno and Rosette are tasked to protect one of them, Azmaria Hendrick, a 12 year old soprano singer from Fatima. Her guardian is Ricardo and the man next to him is Relye, a demon whom Chrno recognizes. Sneaking around in the casino, Rosette almost got spotted so she hides in the staff room only to see Azmaria hiding there. She promises not to tell but when they leave, they come into Relye who brings Azmaria away. They get distracted when Chrno comes crashing in while fighting a stone gargoyle. In this moment, Rosette and Chrno snatch Azmaria away and escape. They are being chased by more stone gargoyles so Rosette fires her holy gun at them and turns them back to stone. But they are sent crashing into the party below and this causes lots of damage and people got hurt. Oh dear. Whose fault is this? But Azmaria blames herself as the cause and starts singing to heal everything before collapsing. Back at Magdalene, Rosette pesters Kate about the Agents on Earth. Since she’ll eventually have to know this, Remington says just as she suspected, Joshua is also an Agent on Earth. The Agent of God, those who have been given a gift from God and must be protected. There are probably 7 Agents on Earth. The gift given to Joshua is probably hope while Azmaria is charity. Demons can gain even greater powers by acquiring the power of God and this applies to Satanists as well. Azmaria who has lost her parents before the war is currently living and doing chores at Magdalene. Because Rosette still sees Azmaria gloomy, she takes her and Chrno out of town to the lakes in the mountains. Of course without approval. She has her loosen up a little by splashing water on her and over a warm campfire drink Rosette believes she can laugh again and putting all the burden on herself is hard. Probably she got told off many times herself.  Azmaria starts laughing but Chrno is attacked by Relye. He is here to bring Azmaria back. Azmaria agrees to return if he doesn’t harm them however he doesn’t keep his promise and fires a lightning projection at them.

Episode 4
When Relye brings Azmaria back to Ricardo (with hideous life support wires sticking out from his body) onboard his blimp, Ricardo temporarily punishes him for disobeying his orders not to scorch the Earth. He reveals his original body was blown to bits during a bombing but can’t die due to the immortality contract he made with Relye, his body was reconstructed but imperfect as it lacks life. In the past, Relye’s power was perfect but now it wasn’t so because it was carved away by Chrno. Since demonic power isn’t enough to bring his life back, they need a much perfect power: The power of God. Rosette and Chrno wakes up to find Remington and some of the sisters by their side. Then they see the sky lit with Astral Line (an indication that Ricardo and Relye has started the process), a grand wave of spirits floating in the atmosphere. All living souls obtain their lives from it while dead souls diffuse in it. In short, the source of all lives. Rosette wants to unlock the watch seal but Chrno doesn’t allow it. She insists that they both want to save Azmaria and there is no other way. Though he still doesn’t like the idea, he allows her for 10 minutes. Unlocking it, Chrno transforms into his demon self as he brings Rosette up to the blimp. Seems Azmaria’s scream is summoning Astral Line and putting the life back into Ricardo’s rotting body. Now we know why they wanted an opera singer. However Relye shuts down the machine and betrays Ricardo. His true intention isn’t to bring life to his master, but collect all the Astral in his own Receptor. With the power of God flowing through him (ironically, a demon?), he lets Ricardo’s body rot away. One bad deed deserves another.

Rosette and Chrno hop onboard the blimp. Chrno will fight a transformed Relye while he wants Rosette to rescue Azmaria. Rosette dispatches the several Legions (low-level demons mimicking human form) to save her. They see the demons in an aerial battle as Azmaria learns about Rosette’s watch seal. It is the source of Chrno’s power and draws it from the contractor’s life. At this rate, Rosette predicts she won’t make it to her 30th birthday. Azmaria wonders why she can push herself so much so Rosette throws back the question at her of why she gives up easily. Rosette continues that the future is uncertain, all the more not to procrastinate so they must do what they can now and not give up till the last moment. Relye thinks Chrno has fallen so much but it is rather the latter who doesn’t want to unleash his true power and in actual fact has powered up a lot. Relye is going to destroy the source of his concern:  Rosette. He takes aim at her but I think he missed. Rosette fires a shot directly into his Receptor, cracking it. Chrno finishes the job to turn the demon into ashes for good. The blimp starts to explode as Rosette and Azmaria fall off. Rosette’s watch seal also locks itself so Chrno returns to his human version. As they free fall, Azmaria thought hard about Rosette’s words and this causes her to spread angelic wings as the trio land to safety. In the aftermath, Rosette is disheartened to learn Azmaria has lost her powers because she used up too much of it and it may take a very long time for it to return. Azmaria thinks she no reason to stay and nowhere to go but Rosette says there is an opening in the choir she can apply.

Episode 5
Rosette and Chrno are summoned to see Kate. She asks if Relye’s actions have any direct connection with Aion. Chrno denies but Rosette can’t forget the day Aion took away Joshua. After Azmaria’s case it is clear why Aion wants God’s powers. Most probably to create a rebellion against Heaven. Not by the will of Satan but of his own to recreate the universe. Thus the need for people like Joshua and Azmaria for that crazy battle. Chrno notes that Aion often said the goal of one born with an incomplete stigma is to become complete. If the wish is to create another ending to the Apocalypse then it’s something one must do yourself. Rosette wants to join the Apostle investigation mission since she has grown stronger (of course to find Joshua too) but Kate points out that she is too emotional and for now she has to stick with normal mission. Rosette and Chrno is sneaking around but is spotted by Remington. He offers her to join the First Class Militia. One of its privileges is independent investigations and some carry long term solo mission, something which fits Rosette. All she needs to do is convince Kate with her own skills. I hope there is no hidden meaning to it. Azmaria talks to Kate over tea. Kate thought nothing of Azmaria’s words will surprise her. But when she mentions how she wants to be like Rosette, see the amount of tea she spit out! Well, not the reckless Rosette she meant, the one whereby she never gave up and to be able to do something for others. Kate brings her to a chamber. A field created by Elder which uses machine to gather energy to create artificial spiritual forms. In short, this is an exorcist’s training field with artificial poltergeists. She tells Azmaria to wait at the bottom while she heads to the control room. But it seems Rosette is preparing to head into the field for a test initiated by Remington. She needs to pass this test of eliminating all targets in an hour to at least have a chance to convince Kate. Just leave everything else to Remington.

Chrno stays put as Rosette leaves for the battlefield. Chrno senses a real demon and Remington points out he let loose a real demon from the storage warehouse as a surprise. If she can’t clear this one, there goes her chance with Kate. Unfortunately Kate heard them and isn’t too thrilled about what just happened. Azmaria is cowering in fear while Rosette is firing at her targets. Remington contacts Rosette to cancel the test since Azmaria is below and they can’t contact her. But Rosette wants to go save her even after learning the demon is Mind Eater (a demon who can possess one’s mind and slowly eats into one’s soul). After losing contact with Rosette, she comes into contact with possessed Azmaria. Though the demon is stronger, she manages to pin it down. Chrno wants to go save them but Remington tells him to stay put as there is nothing he can do. For now, there is only 1 thing Rosette can do. To mind dive into Azmaria’s mind and directly exorcise the demon. Rosette sets up the devices and dives into Azmaria’s mind to see her standing alone and gloomy at a cemetery. She calls out to her but she doesn’t respond. Mind Eater tells her it’s useless since Azmaria fears her own powers that killed her loved ones. But Rosette isn’t giving any sh*t to the demon because she’s talking to Azmaria. While the demon tries to restrain her, Rosette makes her realize she’s not alone because everyone is here for her. Azmaria’s powers awaken and expel the demon from her mind. When Rosette wakes up in Chrno’s arms, they see Azmaria sprouting angel wings as she thanks her.

Episode 6
The mafia is smuggling crates with seals. What the heck are they tampering with? Satella Harvenheit AKA Hexen, a bounty hunter that specializes in hunting demons arrives and puts a foil to their smuggle. Oddly, the mafia sends in a request to Magdalene. Kate regrets that Rosette and co are on this mission simply because there are no other Militia free. Oh, looks like Rosette got promoted too. Hope she doesn’t do any flashy stuff. Oops. Wherever Rosette goes, there’s bound to be a bang. Yeah, just arriving at the warehouse, a big explosion occurs. A demon is on the loose as the gang go into action. Satella saves Azmaria from the demon’s attack with her summoned knight. They realize she’s a Jewel Summoner. Then more demons appear. Satella wants to go after the mafia but Rosette insists she clean up the mess she started. In the aftermath, Chrno realizes the mafia released some of the ‘merchandise’ to buy time for themselves to flee. But Satella threatens to kill Chrno because during the attack she saw how Chrno got injured when Azmaria accidentally poured holy water on him. She doesn’t trust demons all the more Magdalene using one. Azmaria pleads for Chrno’s case that he’s a kind one so Satella backs off for now. Rosette gets an earful from Kate via telephone that she wrecked another car during the attack. Now she has to go home by foot. Start walking! I guess the mafia never learn their lesson because they open their crate to release a demon but got devoured. Rosette and co arrive at the horrifying bloodied scene. Satella is also there. You know she and Rosette are going to be loggerheads when the former starts mocking her inefficiency. To put salt to her wounds, she’s bragging about the hot shower she took last night. Satella is on this smuggling case and is going to finish it even if she doesn’t get paid (since her employers won’t pay the bounty for corpses – the mafia).  But Rosette agrees to help her seeing that in the end both their goals are the same. Satella walks off but Rosette and the rest follow her, giving an excuse that she just happens to be walking in front of them. Satella makes a run, they too follow. Till they run out of breathe. Taking a break at the park, they learn Satella came from Germany to USA 10 years ago to look for someone. She is still searching for her. Chrno points out to Rosette that she has crossed the line with a comment she’s wasting her time whining like that and should quit. She’s not one to say herself, right? Rosette and Azmaria join a couple of local boys playing ball when the ball came flying into Rosette’s head. During that time, a Pharaoh demon and his mummy golems attack. The gang goes into offensive action. When the Pharaoh absorbs his golems to become a giant lion, Chrno jumps in to protect Satella and got a little injured. She quickly repays her debt when the lion attacks Chrno (because she doesn’t want to be a laughing stock if people finds out she’s in debt to a demon) before Rosette finishes it off with a special bullet. In the end, Satella walks away, still not trusting demons back then or in the future.

Episode 7
Suddenly the Sun is black and the Moon red like blood. All the churches are also experiencing a phenomenon that the statue of Virgin Mary is crying blood. Chrno knows this is a sign that Aion is here. Another phenomenon rains down on Manhattan. Hail of fire, that is. It is causing buildings and properties to be damaged and casualties. There are underworld demons coming out from the ground and black evil fog. Don’t touch them or you’ll die. That’s because the fog is made up of evil aura (malice of a person’s heart that became the source of a demon’s power) lingering at the bottom of Pandemonium. Kate attends a meeting with the Council as we find out Manhattan’s Central Park is one of the many key spiritual spots. This land was connected to Pandemonium and the former Magdalene attempted to seal it. Thus the hail and appearance of demons is a sign that they are attempting to break the barrier. Kate assigns her Magdalene team to reconstruct the Barrier of Seven Wings. While Remington leads the team in setting up the barrier, Satella helps them get rid of the demons. Apparently she was asked by NYPD. Probably they didn’t trust the Magdalene much. Maybe it’s Rosette’s reputation after all… Aion makes his appearance. Satella attacks him but her attacks were backfired. Chrno uses his body to shield from her own projectiles. He wants Chrno to rejoin him but he refuses. Aion throws him away without breaking a sweat. Rosette points her gun at him but Aion is playing it cool because she won’t find anything about Joshua if she kills him. Aion continues to play mind games with Rosette. He is saying that he saved Joshua instead. He points that all this happened and is the fault of God. Have you ever heard His voice? Where is He in their time of need? He isn’t looking. He isn’t saving anyone. He is just a scoundrel full of pride. But Aion can free them from all this agony. That’s why he saved Joshua. Rosette finds it hard to believe him but she still has doubts in her heart. Aion continues that their true enemy is in heaven. That’s why he is here for Azmaria as he needs her power to save them.

Rosette covers Azmaria but Aion knows she can’t pull the trigger. With her in that stunned condition, it’ll be a miracle if she did. Oh, she did. Either she was a bad shot at this really close range or Aion is one heck of a cool baddie not to take the hit. Rosette is paralyzed in fear so Aion kisses her. This made Chrno so mad that her watch seal breaks and he is emitting evil aura and on the verge on becoming a demon. To save Rosette and Chrno, Azmaria volunteers herself to go to him. But when Aion approaches her, it’s a setup to activate the Barrier of Seven Wings. The holy light vaporizes Aion and burns away every evil into crisp. When Chrno and Rosette are back to normal, Chrno notes that Aion isn’t finished yet as that was just his shadow. What? That awesome power was just his shadow? I guess we haven’t seen the real deal yet. True enough Aion is safe somewhere and notes how they resorted to innocent bait. He will leave Azmaria to Chrno. Kate and the Council discuss the successful set up of the barrier but note a problem that it’s closely related to the act of the Sinners (demons). They also want to study the Lord’s intention on the sealed third prophecy. Joshua seems excited that there is another apostle other than him and wants to go see but Fiore seems to be against the idea as his real sister would be better.

Episode 8
Rosette is driving back from an errand. Pissed as usual she has to do this kind of stuff. The phone rings so she has Chrno pick it up since she’s driving. But when it’s from Remington, she grabs the phone and chats away. People, remember talking and driving are bad! And she’s not even using a handphone! Remington wants her to pick him up alone at the Grand Central train station. She happily accepts so she speeds up back to Magdalene to deliver the goods. Well, the sisters aren’t happy the flour got soaked so Azmaria blames herself for dropping it but Chrno mentions it was Rosette’s dangerous driving that caused her to have motion sickness. The sisters continue to berate Rosette to get a proper driving licence and talk about her dangerous driving how she rammed into a bakery and destroyed both the shop and the car after getting distracted by the fruit shop. Wow. If Rosette was a real demon, she could’ve turned into one and whack the hell out of the sisters but she soon leaves seeing her beloved Remington is waiting for her. When the sisters learn of Rosette’s haste, they are puzzled because Remington also left by car. However there is more than meets the eye. Remington was forced to make the call as he is surrounded by ordinary but strangely acting people. Flashback reveals he was supposed to meet a messenger to retrieve some documents but some guy came up to him and told him he will never show up because he got eaten (though he passed the documents to him). Remington realizes that this guy and the rest of the people in the station are being possessed and that they aren’t aligned to Aion but ‘him’. It won’t take a genius to figure out he is Joshua as he is desperately longing for Rosette and even sees her in Fiore.

I guess Remington wasn’t counting on Rosette’s punctuality. Has she ever. Maybe this is the first so she really came on time. Remington was in the midst of freeing the possessed people by cutting some spider hooked at the back of their necks. They are being controlled by a demon known as Puppeteer. But since Rosette is here, she is being told she alone needs to ride a train to see Joshua because he is suffering, his body not in good shape and only Rosette can free him. Well, if you look at it from a psychological point of view, she’s correct in a way. Rosette of course is in a dilemma to see Joshua. She really wants to and the possessed people are persuading her despite Remington’s warning that this is a trap. Just when she’s about to board the train, Remington tries his final push to stop her. Puppeteer is going to kill him so Rosette hops off to go save him. Doesn’t she want to see Joshua? Of course. She will save him from them. As much as they fight their way out, they are overwhelmed by the number of possessed people. Have faith and don’t think that they’re done for because a large cross barrier suddenly covers the entire station. It is Chrno and Azmaria to their rescue after hearing the situation from Kate. Chrno recognizes Puppeteer as Rizel. She admits defeat today and retreats. In the aftermath as Rosette is resting, she vows that she’ll save Joshua as Chrno hugs her. Later Remington shows the documents to Rosette but isn’t sure of its authenticity since it fell into their hands first. Inside the file is a picture of Joshua. Remington has been investigating for Joshua for 4 years and recently found him a few months back.

Episode 9
Rosette, Chrno and Azmaria are at Seventh Bell Orphanage, the place it all began. Entering the building, Rosette and Chrno suddenly go off themselves, leaving poor Azmaria fumbling in the dark. She got the spook of her life when she bumps into several human statues. Then when all the lights turn on, her screams go higher as she sees more of those statues. Yeah, she even screamed at Rosette’s face!  Anyway the duo went to turn on the floodlights so Azmaria can have a good view of the place and the fight she’s up against. Seems this place has frozen in time courtesy of Aion 4 years ago. Yes, even the falling structures seemed to even stop midway. It’s like in the middle of a picture. Story time. Four years ago, Rosette and Joshua grew up at this orphanage. Rosette the usual brute tomboy. Either the naughty kids pissed her for their irresponsibility or they enjoy pissing her off. Even Joshua. But I guess she has to stop being a vengeful meanie when he starts coughing since Joshua was born with a weak body. Remington often visits the orphanage to try and adopt Joshua due to his special ability. Each time this happens, Rosette takes Joshua away deep into the mountains and won’t give up till that father does. Rosette fears they’ll do weird experiments on his body? Man, she’s got a wild imagination. They must have gone out too far so much so they start slipping down river streams, falling off little waterfalls and dropping into pit holes. Rosette hurt her knee so Joshua uses his healing powers. However he laments that even if he can heal others, he can’t heal his own body. Rosette promises to protect him as he protects others. As they trek along the corridors, they stumble upon a door and accidentally opened it. Inside, a grave and a weak Chrno sitting by it. But the kids aren’t afraid even upon knowing he’s a demon. Rosette feeds him with whatever food she got and Joshua is excited to be Chrno’s friend because he’s an occult freak. The grave lies the Holy Maiden, Mary Magdalene, the name that will cause the Sinners’ heart to beat each time they hear it. The duo get acquainted with Chrno and hang out with him as he explains to them the fascinating Astral Line. This serves to excite Joshua even more as he is more determined to become an explorer with his sister and go and record places no one has ever gone before. Later when Joshua’s asleep, Rosette tells Chrno that her real dream is to be a doctor for Joshua’s sake but knows that isn’t possible. God isn’t fair? Well… The trio continue to hang out more often and even Chrno starts enjoying it and wished these days would go on forever. One night Rosette rushed to Chrno. She’s in a panic because Joshua has decided to go to Remington. The reason was because he doesn’t want to be a burden to her. He wonders if he’ll become stronger if he goes. He’ll leave in a week’s time and needs to rest because Remington says his power is causing his body pain. Chrno is horrified to see Aion (in eagle form) and the latter wants to do it together again. Nothing yaoi, mind you.

Episode 10
As reward for freeing Chrno, Aion tells Rosette that a demon’s power source comes his horn and is called Astral Absorption System. Aion is the one who broke Chrno’s horn and made him powerless. But now he wants them to put their past behind and come have fun, just like how Chrno slew a hundred million demons at Pandemonium. Chrno of course refuses seeing that he has found something more precious and obeying him will render his existence meaningless. He can keep his horn. Well, Aion has already given in to somebody: Joshua. I guess with sweet talk like him being the chosen one, would weak kids like Joshua hesitate? Speaking of which, Joshua is in great pain, bloodied and a pair of horns growing out from his head. The other kids are terrified seeing him. But Joshua couldn’t get rid of those ‘noises’ in his head (unkind comments from the kids) so he freezes them. Realizing that this will stop his pain, he goes on a freezing spree. Chrno transforms into his true form to fly back to the orphanage with Rosette. But it’s too late as they witness firsthand how Joshua freezes everyone else fleeing the building. Meeting Rosette, Joshua tells her he felt better and stronger but Rosette is upset that this isn’t the Joshua she knew. Maybe those words hurt him so he starts hearing noises again. This time his freezing power is threatening to engulf the entire area. Chrno takes Rosette away to a safe distance. He mentions he lacks his horn and without Astral power, his body can’t recover. He has no power without a horn or contractor. Desperate Rosette wants to know more about being a contractor. He explains it’ a weapon a demon worshipper uses to summon a demon but in exchange they must supply the demon with a certain thing that human’s possess: The time of their soul. Though this would shorten the human’s life, this way a demon can use his powers without a horn. Chrno wants to find another way but Rosette is bent on saving Joshua because of her promise to protect him. Chrno agrees to make a contract with her and gives her his watch seal which marks the time left in a person’s life. In present time, Rosette vows to bring Joshua and everyone else’s time back. Azmaria tells her she needs to be more considerate of herself because everyone else is here. Aion visits Joshua to tell him that he has found another Apostle in Texas. But Joshua is still seeing his sister in Fiore so Aion wants her to let him know immediately if anything happens.

Episode 11
A detective reports to Kate about a recent incident in which a mysterious creature attacked and wiped out a couple of mafia family members. Those who survived described to creature as having blue eyes. Kate recognizes it as Black Dog and already has Rosette on its tail. I hope she doesn’t wreck the car. Even at 80mph, she still can’t catch up to Black Dog chasing a fleeing mafia car. Their bullets don’t seem to pass through it. Eventually it catches up and causes the car to burst in flames. Satella’s white knight manages to wound it but it escapes. Rosette helplessly watches the dying mafia. He didn’t make it. Back at Magdalene, Remington informs the rest that thanks to Rosette’s chase, they managed to identify Black Dog’s true form. The culprit who summoned Black Dog is Bianca Winger. In exchange for the summon, she used her life. Her goal is to wipe out all the mafia in New York. Revenge? For love rather. Her fiancé Richard J Smith died in a cross-fire between the mafia and police. Black Dog is an Astral demon born from the negative emotions of the summoner. Thus it has no substantial body. But each time it eats another person, its body gets bigger and eventually will materialize. Satella sees mafia godfather Don Gotch. He doesn’t seem too worried about Black Dog and is instead thankful the city is quieter with lesser mafia family. He leaves Satella to protect him and will pay her any amount of money. Rosette disapproves Kate’s method of waiting for Black Dog to materialize before doing anything because during that moment they can do nothing but watch people get killed. Later Rosette is thrilled when Elder shows a new motorcycle he created, Gabriel Hound. Hmm… How odd will it look for a sister riding a Harley? Well, it has boosters to speed up but this baby isn’t for Magdalene. However Elder can borrow it to her if she allows him to touch her tits. Well, he gave him her fist instead.

Off she goes on another Black Dog hunt. This time Don Gotch and his men are in a shootout with the police. Don Gotch thinks he’s safe in a building but he became Black Dog’s dinner. Satella fights off the Black Dog at the subway as Rosette arrives on scene to destroy it. But it’s not over yet because there’s another one and it escapes. Rosette seems to think it’s Satella’s fault that this happened. Something about its body isn’t complete yet. But they can’t go after it since the bike crashed. Aw man! Don’t give new vehicles to her anymore. Satella seems to have given up hope that the Black Dog is gone and the mafia deserves what they get. However Rosette isn’t going to give up yet and though the mafia may be bad people and committed lots of sins, people getting killed is never good. Satella chides her for being a hypocrite and should look out for herself first. Even so, Rosette doesn’t want to do nothing and watch people die. She is going to show Satella her willpower. She then asks her if has a jewel that can make her go fast. I don’t know if that’s a jet or a fish because it’s making Gabriel Hound zooming fast enough to catch Black Dog. While Satella takes over the steering, Rosette fires her holy bullets into it but realizes shooting from the back has no effect. Using the bike’s booster, she speeds up in front of the Black Dog and fires a shot into its mouth, disintegrating it for good. The shockwave was so great that every manhole along the path gets thrown in the air. Well, the ladies are alive and that’s a good thing. But for Chrno, he isn’t happy Rosette left him behind…

Episode 12
Azmaria is so nervous in her Christmas play practice that’s she’s yelling her lines! But she is taken away by Rosette to see Kate. There have been disappearances of 3 of their investigators at San Francisco. All of them were investigating Aion. Based on the evidence left behind, they conclude that a demon was involved. Since Rosette is part of the Militia, she decides to leave this place to go find Joshua. Rosette, Chrno and Azmaria pack their bags for the trip but the other sisters are sad that they are leaving. Remington understands their haste but wish they could stay at least till Christmas. Azmaria thinks back of her bleak past celebrating Christmas alone (even her foster family mistreated her). She is snapped out by Rosette. Seems they are collecting Christmas donations for the public. Rosette’s ‘persistence’ is ‘forcing’ others to donate. Can’t say no to the House of God, eh? Rosette then spots Satella and she learns she’s the daughter of a rich family. Did anybody know she’s the owner of the Harvenheit Technology Company? At least not to Rosette. Look at all the Christmas presents in and on her car. When they learn Azmaria has never received presents from Santa before, they felt bad. Azmaria thinks she was a bad girl but Satella denies. However she notes a certain wild nun and midget demon are a different story. Let the cat fight begin. Azmaria talks to the nun trio about giving presents. Rosette and Chrno are also preparing for Christmas and they wish to make this a memorable Christmas for Azmaria. Azmaria passes by a shop and sees a snow dome. But she has no money to buy it. Though the shopkeeper gives it for free, that won’t do for Azmaria and promises to pay him on Christmas Eve. He will hold it for her till then. Oh, look at Rosette’s ‘demon face’ when she amassed all the donation money. So happy to see so much, eh? The play goes well on Christmas Eve as Azmaria rushes to the store to get the snow dome. Soon, a guy comes in asking for a snow dome he promised to get for his girlfriend. However there are none left. He leaves disappointed so Azmaria decides to give hers. Seeing how noble she is, the shopkeeper allows her to choose a replacement present. Azmaria is picked up by Rosette and Chrno who are on their way to the orphanage to hand out presents. Later Rosette and Chrno thanks Azmaria for her Christmas present, a medallion each. But Rosette notes the main show is about to start. Back at Magdalene, Azmaria is surprised that everyone threw her a grand Christmas party. So much so she is moved to tears. Azmaria freaks out upon getting a present from Satella: A talisman amulet from Africa. Can it actually keep her safe? Won’t it affect Chrno? Quick! Throw it away!

Episode 13
Joshua is in pain. He is hearing those noises again. Fiore tries to calm him down but he got annoyed and freezes her. Luckily her barrier prevented her from meeting that fate. Aion notes how the real sister is necessary so Fiore mentions Rizel is on her way to get her. Rosette, Chrno and Azmaria are travelling by train to San Francisco. It’s going to take a freaking 70 hours from coast to coast! Since the coach is crowded, they offer a mother and her son, Jimmy their seats. But guess who is onboard too? Satella! This train is too small for a cat fight but I guess they can start one if they feel like it. Since Satella has bought an entire carriage herself, the gang including Jimmy’s temporarily make themselves at home in the spacious room. As thanks, Jimmy’s mom gives Rosette some snacks. However inside the bag, there is a photo of Joshua and a note to meet in the dining car. Rosette lies to her pals to go to the dining car and is sees Jimmy’s mom as the culprit. She remembers her as Rizel from the last battle. Everyone else in the car is under her control. Rizel then separates the carriage. She also mocks how troublesome Joshua and since he calls for his sister, perhaps Rosette could meet him, soothe him and put him out of his misery with her gun. Rosette doesn’t take that lightly and points her gun at Rizel. Then she realizes Rizel is controlling Jimmy’s mom and everyone else from somewhere else. She backs off seeing she can’t hurt her. Suddenly a field barrier activates in the coach and Chrno comes barging in from above. How does he know? Well, Rosette has always been a bad liar. But they realize Rosette’s watch seal is gone.

They see Satella knocked out and Azmaria being held hostage so they have no choice but to listen to them. She wants Rosette to shoot Chrno. Chrno orders Rosette to do so but aim at his axis. She better not miss! When she fires, Chrno falls back and Azmaria uses this chance to pour her holy water and free the captives from Rizel’s control. They also got back the watch seal. After putting the passengers safe in the back, they go hunt for Rizel. Rizel surprises Rosette by binding her with her web and dragging her to the top of the train. Rizel has the upper hand in the battle but she can’t let Rosette fall off and die. Because she’s mentioning Aion’s name too many times, this pisses of Rosette and she tells her off that she is the one who is alone. She makes Rizel’s blood boil by saying how Aion needs Joshua and not her, the reason why she is desperately doing this. In the end, she isn’t even loved by Aion. Rizel is blinded by hate that this allowed Rosette to reload and fire a point blank shot and break off her horn. The recoil has her falling off but luckily Chrno catches her while riding Satella’s, urm, yeah, that fish jet thingy. Rizel is totally mad now and is going to kill them but Rosette takes and stabs her with her own horn. This sends her falling off and into the chasm. Is she dead for good? Well, when demons disappear, it’s a sign they’re gone for good. And as Aion notes Rizel’s demise, he also remarks her final effort was useless.

Episode 14
Now the trio are walking through the Prairie fields to San Francisco. Seriously?! But good news: A car is passing by. Bad news: It didn’t stop. Ugly news: The car reversed and guess who is in it? Yup. Satella. Because Azmaria’s honest personality to suck up to rich people like Satella, she allows them to hitch a ride. As usual, Satella and Rosette don’t get along and continue their poor vs rich arguments. Upon reaching San Francisco, Chrno suddenly falls into Satella’s boobs! How daring! Though he got punched, the reason wasn’t because he turned into a demon pervert, but rather he caught fever. Satella’s butler, Steiner Munchausen thinks they should take him back to their villa since it’s close by. As Chrno rests in bed, Satella deduces that it’s probably the Legions have become active. Since Chrno’s body structure is same as other demons, when he receives damage, his body tries to recover quickly. Rosette and Satella go out to buy medicine. At a drug st