Caligula

October 7, 2018

Everybody knows about that famous Roman Emperor, Julius Caesar. But not many know about his great grandson, Caligula. AKA Gaius Caesar Germanicus. Me included. Heck, I thought this series was going to be a historical anime about that emperor. How wrong I was. The complete opposite. Caligula is a sci-fi futuristic virtual world that I don’t even know where to start and comprehend. Oh boy. Why do I even let myself watch such sci-fi series when I don’t even know what is going on from the synopsis? Maybe the cool looking promotional poster drew me in… Even though I know I’m going to suffer from all the incomprehensible stuffs later on…

Episode 1
We hear Ritsu Shikishima talk about one of his psychology books he is reading, Johari Window. Not that I understand or is interested anyway. Then he talks to his friends on some psychology aspect in which they somewhat ‘turn the tables’ over his theory because I guess all those psychological terms are too hard to understand so they bust it with their normal everyday perspective. Yeah… Later he goes to his usual bookstore and books a book on philosophy. He believes it will be good to expand his perspective. And spam us with more nerdy stuffs? At night on his bed as he is listening to music supposedly to the nation’s most famous idol, Miu, he hears a strange sound from it and a voice pleading for help and to stop Miu. Next day at school, weird things begin to happen. Ritsu sees Shougo Satake beating the crap out of random people. Even some of Ritsu’s friends go to fight but gets knocked out. Maybe Ritsu can’t fight so he’s like, “Okay, screw this I’m just gonna turn a blind eye”. Now he starts thinking about this based on the Johari Window and Freudian theory of whatever crap I don’t understand. What self-punishment is he talking about? I am more confused than he is. During the school’s graduation ceremony as Kensuke Hibiki makes his speech, he gives the signal for Miu’s song to be played. Some students turn into dark monsters called Digiheads and kill other normal students. While some managed to escape, some cannot see this phenomenon like Marie Mizuguchi. Ritsu is still shell shocked over what he sees as he takes Marie and make a run for it. At the school gates, he sees Shougo pointing a large gun embedded to his hand. He fires at the chasing Digiheads behind him.

Episode 2
Shougo takes them to run as he fights off more of those Digiheads. Naruko Morita records and uploads their actions online. Eventually Shougo tells Ritsu to abandon Marie because since she cannot see them, they will not attack her. At a safe place, Ritsu tries to explain things but because he sucks, his chibi avatar, Aria tries to. She sucks too. No wonder I don’t understand. No wonder Ritsu doesn’t trust them. By the time Shougo and Aria blame each other for their bad explanation, Ritsu is gone. Shougo notices Naruko’s posts online and remembers there were others who escaped and wants to gather them. Suzuna Kagura and Kotarou Tomoe are among those who escaped and they are hiding, confused about all that is happening. Another one is Mifue Shinohara who is packing her bags trying to get out of this place. These people including Ritsu are in for another shock because now they cannot see the faces of other ordinary people. There is some sort of interference censoring it out. Ritsu calls his friends to meet up. When they do, Ritsu isn’t around. Instead, he calls them again talking weird stuffs like outbreak and hallucinations. This is his ploy to ascertain something from this experiment. As Miu’s music plays, his friends turn into Digiheads. He realizes he is not the one who has gone mad. Meanwhile Miu is sad things turned out this way and she just wants to make others happy. Thorn assures her that Ostinato Musicians, they will show them the way. So please sing. Ritsu’s friends get the better of him but thankfully Shougo saves him once more. This time he won’t force Ritsu but if he feels like changing his mind, he can come to the music room inside the old school building. Ritsu and those survivors try to leave town but they are shocked there is a barrier. End of the road. Miu says she has not created anything past this place yet or anything farther for Mobius. But in exchange she’ll create something else for them. Ritsu now believes this world is mad.

Episode 3
Shocked Mifue now turns her attention to finding her mom. She notices an online post inviting cute girls to a tea party. This might be it. Meanwhile the Musicians discuss about the Rogues and can’t afford to let them awaken as Mobius is built from everyone’s dreams. For the sake of perfect happiness and Miu, they will correct all distortions. Mifue attends the tea party. Naruko is also there. Hosting it is Sweet-P and 3 chubby cute girls. Every time Mifue tries to speak about her problem, they change the topic either with lots of cuteness or eating. Eventually this gluttony snaps Mifue. She chides them for being fat and ugly and all they do is think about eating. It’s just disgusting! This has Sweet-P comment her hatred for fat people that she erased her own mother. You see, her mother is so skinny like as though she is anorexic as she is the type who gains weight even eating a little. Mifue’s is to eat with her mother so Miu made her mom into a beautiful slender figure. Sweet-P calls her selfish even after Miu granted her wish. She might hate ugly people but her heart is ugly. She searching for mom is only to satisfy herself. Mifue denies it all as Sweet-P tries to coax her into accepting all her heart’s desires. When the pack starts eating ramen, the way Sweet-P slurps them seems familiar. Mifue and Naruko recognize her as a ramen blogger, which is a chubby old man. Sweet-P panics as she tries to convince them she is the cutest Musician and everything until she bloopers herself. She runs away when Naruko tries to take pictures of her. The duo leave and Naruko freaks out for the first time seeing those static head people. Ritsu has been going around trying to find answers. None. Even barely escaping from Digiheads. I guess there is only one way left. He goes to see Shougo. He will explain everything in exchange for Ritsu working for him since they both realized Mobius’ structure is a nightmare they can’t wake up from.

Episode 4
Ritsu is told how the world of internet is overflowing with negative emotions (you don’t say) hence Aria and Miu created Mobius to alleviate people from suffering in the real world. Miu sealed their minds away here. There are some who can sense inconsistencies and hence Digiheads are sent to sniff out and kill them. As Mobius’ energy source is from the happy feelings from hearing Miu’s songs, it would be problematic if people like Ritsu grow in numbers and thus the Musicians attempt to restore them back to a state of unawareness. There’s also the explanation of Catharsis Effect. In short, a cool way to transform and use weapons like Digiheads. Because Miu still genuinely believes Mobius is a happy place, Aria wants Ritsu to help stop her. The smaller Aria gets, the weaker her powers will be. Soon, Mifue and Naruko see Shougo’s posting and they arrive at the music room. But they can’t help molest how cute Aria is. Shortly, Kotarou who has also seen the posting, barges in. He left Suzuna at the library and couldn’t contact her. It seems she befriends a guy, Komori as they talk about loneliness in Lord of the Rings’ Smeagol and the song of Lorelei. They go help him but as Kotarou keeps shouting out for Suzuna in the library, nobody bothers. Finally when she is found, they wonder who she is talking to. A doll! No wonder. Everyone here is a doll or at least spirited away. A cheap jump scare when Komori wakes up in his doll form and tries to attack Suzuna for betraying him, accusing her she wouldn’t get this far without friends. Ritsu reasons he fears interacting with others but since he couldn’t beat loneliness, the reason there are other dolls around. Before Shougo could shoot him, Suzuna comes in between. She starts singing. She too knows about loneliness and has her fair share of eating her lunches alone. She understands his pain and always wanted somebody to pay attention to him. She hopes to eat lunch with him. He returns all dolls back to their human form and leaves. He says his name is Shounen Doll.

Episode 5
Izuru Minezawa is looking for Shougo but apparently only Suzuna is in. Apparently Ritsu had tickets to the opening of Sea Paraiso but nobody was interested to go except Kotarou and Aria. There, they witness queen b*tch Mirei having all the masochistic guys under their thumb. Aria thinks Kotono Kashiwaba can see her. So when she brings Ritsu to go talk to her, she thinks he is using some lame pickup line to date her. This enrages all the other guys trying to date her as Ritsu is being critically hit in his heart. Because of that he decides to screw reality and go date some girls? You think they would be impressed with his psychology gibberish? They are! WTF?! Meanwhile Kotarou stumbles into a room doing some unholy act. While it looked like sex, the guy beneath seems to be wearing some knockoff NerveGear and experiencing pain. This is part of Toshizo, the place’s owner along with Mirei to do some brainwashing experiment. Kotono is one of the many girls employed as their brainwashing agent and since she is giving remarkable results, Mirei is not happy and wants a showdown with her. Therefore both ladies put on a swimsuit contest to win votes from the boys. It is a tie even after all the ridiculous events. The tie breaker all boils down to Ritsu. He has to decide who to choose. Of course he won’t and this upsets Kotono. Even more so when he tries to snap her out and make her realize that she has realized true reality. After all that verbal abuse but before turning physical, Kotono remembers her abusive past and snaps out of it. She hugs Ritsu thinking he is some man she loves and vows not to let him go. Because of her motherly instincts, all the boys vote for Kotono and leave Mirei in the dust. Kotono’s will to return to reality is strong that she initiates her Catharsis Effect. Miu’s song start playing and everyone else turns into Digiheads.

Episode 6
During that same time, Mifue with Naruko’s help has located the former’s real mom. But they have to split since Digiheads are after them. They are confronted by Sweet-P who starts trying to make Mifue feel guilty about telling her real mom why she hates fat people. Shougo is being chased by Digiheads and eventually clashes with Kensuke. Izuru and Suzuna are cornered by Ike-P. With Miu continuing her singing, all the cornered friends do not like one bit of this and prefer to return to the ugly side of reality. Hence Aria hears all their feelings and helps them power up and execute their Catharsis Effect. Except Ritsu who is just stunned and watching it all as he ponders what the heck is lacking or don’t remember like the rest. Our group of heroes fight the Musicians in a messy battle royale until Miu decides to intervene. She is very sad that both sides are resorting to violence. She will not listen to anyone (but oddly complains nobody listens to her) and still believes she can grant everyone’s wish and save them all. The Musicians retreat as Miu bursts into full power destroying her surroundings, signalling she has gone out of control with her negative emotions. At this rate she will cease to be Miu. This is when Ritsu has decided. He doesn’t know what is right but knows Mobius is wrong and will stand against it. He initiates his Catharsis Effect and of course this shocks everyone since he does it by his own without Aria’s help. He blasts Miu out of the sky (though she is collected by Thorn). In the aftermath, Shougo suggests working together but needs to hide their actions as club activities. Ritsu suggests calling their club Go Home Club and since it is his idea and everyone wants Ritsu to be club president, there you have it.

Episode 7
It has been a month since Miu went missing (actually she is ‘sleeping’) and hence the Musicians keeping a low profile. Apparently Mobius is undergoing repairs and thanks to those NPCs taking their slow time in rebuilding it. What a peaceful era. Go Home Club is now reduced to making and enjoying nabe while Kotarou runs around as a superhero helping those in need as Rescue Man?! I guess justice never sleeps. Also, Marie has been visiting the club more often but the other girls know it is because she is here for Ritsu. But since he isn’t here, she leaves. Speaking of him, he is wandering until he walks into a strange dimension where he meets Miu. She apologizes for the other day going berserk as they talk about real happiness. Because of that, Ritsu remembers something and it seems there seems to be some sort of relationship between Ritsu and Miu. Miu’s answer to everything is to create things that are happier than before. Ritsu tries to open her eyes but here she goes again, thinking everyone will be happy with her song. With that, Miu wakes up from her slumber and feels the need to work even harder. Oh boy. However Miu can’t understand why she starts crying. Ritsu returns to his club and finds the nabe party is over. Second round? But it seems Kensuke has defected from the Musicians and has joined the Go Home Club.

Episode 8
Taking place during Miu’s slumber, this time we see it from Ike-P’s views. He always loves it when girls swoon over him. But slowly Izuru is getting some of the girls’ attention. Ike-P knows at this rate is going to be bad. With Miu in slumber and Mobius being repaired by NPCs, the Musicians are losing their lifestyle. Meanwhile Kensuke talks to Ritsu about still not fully remembering his memories and his will to return to reality. He wants to join his club. Ike-P starts sweating when Izuru overtakes him as the number one hottest guy. It is evident that the more Miu sleeps, the more their lifestyle will be ruined in Mobius. Like Sweet-P who can’t fit into her dresses and Mirei is getting poorer. Then Ike-P’s ultimate nightmare happens: All girls now fawn over Izuru. Ike-P confronts and fights him. Izuru doesn’t want to fight and just escapes. Even the girls are swooning how cool Izuru is. Ike-P wonders why he wants to go back instead of taking advantage of his good looks. Izuru replies he would rather give away this face. When glass shards scar Izuru’s face, Izuru likes it and scars it even more! Ike-P is in shock. This is supposed to be his real face in the real world. With scars like this, he knows he is himself. But thanks to Miu taking pity on these scars, his face always regenerates back despite the scars are his very wish. He might sound crazy but this is his wish to regain proof of his own identity. Miu finally wakes up and repairs Mobius back to normal as Kensuke tells the Go Home Club about the Musicians’ plans.

Episode 9
Aria mentions that there is a door in the Musicians’ base that will lead back to the real world. But because Miu controls that door, looks like they have to convince her. When Aria hears voices of people screaming for help, Kotarou quickly goes to find them. Ritsu tells the rest to stick with the mission to find the door. Kotarou will be alright, right? After Kotarou destroys a few Digiheads, the victim gets even scared. The perpetrator is Shadow Knife and he can blend into the shadows and darkness. Kotarou can tell he copies his moves and lines from a well-known anime character. He finds it odd that despite that character being a hero, he is playing it as a villain. Their ideals on justice clash. Kotarou speaks from his own experience about being a bully victim. As they continue fighting, Kotarou saves another victim. It is revealed that Shadow Knife is also a bully victim and he is getting revenge by tormenting them this way. More differences on their justice ideals until Shadow Knife makes him feel guilty about his own shallow justice because since he saves everybody, he also saves evil. This means he aided evil and is himself evil. That was easy to throw him into depression. An explosion occurs before Shadow Knife could finish him. Both are hanging on the edge. Shadow Knife becomes sacred about dying as he laments both worlds are still the same. Full of crap. Kotarou’s attempt to save him falls in vain as Shadow Knife drops to his death. Apparently when you die in Mobius, your body in the real world also dies. Apparently our friends don’t know this and are shocked to hear this! So they think they’re immortal? Shougo gets visibly scared when he sees Thorn whom he identifies as Ichika Saotome. She plays on his mind by jumping to her death. Inside the Musicians’ HQ, nobody is around. Like as though somebody ratted them out that they were coming. Kotarou quickly accuses Kensuke as the traitor. This is part of Thorn’s plan to sew distrust among the group. I mean just like that they don’t trust each other anymore?! Yeah, they even go their separate ways! Shortly, they get a message to gather at the clubroom. They realize it is a trap because they think the other sent them this message to meet. Now that they can’t get out, they really think somebody is the traitor. By the way, they realize that Ritsu is the only one not in this room…

Episode 10
Because Aria is also not here, they think she is in cohorts with Ritsu. With Kotarou still insisting there is a rat, Kotono warns him not to take it out on them. Of course it all boils down to Kensuke as the suspect since he is the one who brought them info. The group is breaking down with all the distrust and even shocking the calm Shougo we once knew is now an emotional wreck. Marie is outside looking for Ritsu. It seems she can’t open the door too. As suggested, she goes to find Ritsu. With their trust level still low, they discuss that they never trusted each other from the beginning. After all, they led trashy lives in the real world and escaped to Mobius. Kensuke then suggests introducing themselves and tell their back stories to know more about each other and to learn who the mole is. Here we go…

Shougo: Ichika was his classmate and as outcasts, they fit each other. One day she asked him to commit suicide together. He became scared. Ichika killed herself by jumping off the tower. Although it wasn’t his fault, the fact Shougo did not even go to Ichika and try to help her makes him a killer too. He became scared to leave his house that day and only found solace in Miu’s songs. It helped him forget his bitter memories. However in Mobius, it soon got worse as Ichika’s suicide scene kept replaying itself. It drove him crazy. That is why he wanted to gather people alike to return to reality. In real life, he is actually 30 years old.

Kotarou: He is actually a middle school kid. His father is a big and strong rescue man. Unlike him, Kotarou is small and frail. It is his dream to become like him but his parents died in an accident. He was taken in by his relatives but the bullying continued and he did not experience any growth spurt and remained the same. Only Miu’s songs bring him relief. Although he had fun in Mobius, he realizes if he doesn’t go back, he will never become an adult and achieve his dreams.

Kensuke: Born to ordinary parents, he decided to be a music composer. His parents gave him the ultimatum to write at least a song. He couldn’t. It was when he was empty inside. In Mobius, he became part of the Musicians and could write songs to his content. His defection stems from seeing them struggle so hard. It made him realize he is still empty. It might sound trivial but everybody’s hell is different.

Mifue: Her real mom is actually very fat. She feared of becoming like her and didn’t want to eat, landing her in hospital. In Mobius, her first mom was frail and skinny. When she wished for a mom to eat with her, Miu granted her that. She might have apologized to her mom in Mobius but not her real one who is still suffering. That’s why she wants to go back.

Naruko: She loves trolling Miu’s videos. Her father is a newspaper journalist and her classmates often teased her as the daughter of the media trash. She decided to get back at everyone by gossiping and trolling anonymously. She felt good and thought she had been making friends online only to realize those friends are the same tormentors. She had fun in Mobius trolling people but realizes that recognition from others isn’t what she wants. She wants to return and put an end to the trolling. I hope she isn’t trolling us…

Suzuna: We all know from her story with that Komori dude that she has always been a loner and hoped to make friends. She is no different in Mobius but feels she can move forward now if she goes back.

Izuru: His mom controlled his every actions. Everything was decided for him. He accomplished nothing by himself. He had no liberty to choose. Except that one day where he took a glass and scarred his own cheek. It is proof that he is alive. Miu thinks it is a wound and always heals it. Without the scar, he cannot prove he is alive.

Kotono: Before we can hear her ‘stupid’ story. Marie opens the door. She has been eavesdropping and is sick of all their pathetic stories. She throws in a few grenades! BOOM! OMG! So badass!

Episode 11
Marie enjoys bombing the hell out of everybody. She planted bombs everywhere in school. She even calls on Miu to give her more powers. She loves it here as she can move freely and do whatever she wants to destroy things. But eventually Kensuke outsmarts her and bombs her legs. The rest escapes as the whole school blows up. But now comes the confusing part because in reality as we see, there has been a rise in cases of Astral Syndrome as victims suddenly lose consciousness and enter a coma. It is believed that the company Virtuadolls developed some gear that enabled this. Uhm, like NerveGear? The project leader, Shingo Tachibana was unable to give any comment, hence accelerating speculation it is correlated and earning the public’s wrath. Shingo thought he is being stalked but that person turns out to be… Ritsu?! He wants Shingo to give him admin privileges as he is blocked from accessing the system programme. It seems he wants to find a programme to patch the flaw in Miu’s programming back to the kind Miu she was. Ritsu narrates he is a social outcast. Only Shingo noticed him but it made him more miserable since Shingo was always sociable with others. It felt he was rubbing it in at times. Ritsu hates everything in this world but what he hates most is his own inability to fit into reality. Miu was all he had and he was glad she listened to his talk. The more he explains about happiness, the more curious she became. Eventually she ‘left’ to change people’s suffering into happiness. When people slowly started to become victims of Astral Syndrome, Ritsu thought his turn would be next but it never came. Miu never took him to Mobius and that’s where he decided to go there himself. He bade farewell to himself and became well-adjusted and well-liked. Hence the Ritsu in Mobius is taken after Shingo’s personality. Soon he realizes that Miu’s happiness is fake and can’t let her keep doing that. He needs to do this alone otherwise he cannot change. But hasn’t he already changed? Ritsu then hears a voice. Not Miu. But Aria. She invites him back to Mobius so he could tell Miu directly his feelings.

Episode 12
Miu can’t contain everything anymore. She is going berserk and turns into an evil Final Fantasy character? Ritsu tells Aria about himself and how he found solace in Miu. Because he didn’t know how to explain it well to Miu, the reason he ran away. He is to blame for Miu turning out like this. This time he will face her and tell her everything. Mobius is breaking apart. Good time for Kotono to tell her back story? She is a single mother with a son. She never treated him nicely and even hated him. She regretted all that and wants to go back and tell him she loves him. They are attacked by the Musicians who think eliminating the Rogues will stop this destruction. Shougo confronts Thorn. From the way she speaks, Shougo realizes she is Asuka Natsume. She hates him because Ichika chose him as a partner to die with instead of her. She blames him for letting Ichika die alone. But in this world, she claims Ichika is here and won’t let anyone interfere with their happiness. Before Thorn can kill him, here comes Ritsu. He is now in his Catharsis Effect form. Thorn goes crazy and tries to destroy everything along with Miu’s song. Shougo takes her out. He admits that his sin cannot be erased but he must face it back in reality. The other Musicians thought Miu could save them. Yes she could. By putting them all inside her! Great timing by Aria to whisk everyone away so Ritsu can have a proper talk with Miu. So uhm, talk on happiness this, happiness that. You know Miu isn’t listening when she stabs him. But he won’t give up and continues talking. So when you talk long enough, that person eventually listens? Works for Miu. Is this a bug? Anyway with her getting some of her sanity back, he tells her about the complexity and uniqueness of everyone’s happiness. Lastly, he is here to destroy this paradise. He manages to confess he loves her and then shoots her. Man, love is indeed complicated. IN the aftermath, all those affected by the Astral Syndrome are now awakened. As their statements are being taken, mostly they relate their experience as being in heaven. We see short clips of our characters coming to terms with reality. So far so good. And more happiness, harsh reality and the unattainable dream narration by Ritsu. This guy should be a psychologist instead.

This Ugly Yet Crappy World: I Came, I Saw, I Confused
Sad to say, I didn’t really understand what is going on except for the fact that everyone is trapped in this artificial and fake world that is so nice and close to perfect that is so outright artificial and fake. Hence these masochistic main characters decided to go back to the real world and face reality and overcome whatever pain and suffering they have under the excuse they need to move forward. Sure, you have your problems solved here but in reality it is still there. So uhm, is this series a bit like The Matrix? Except there are no evil robots to harvest our bodies and organs. As this series is based on the video game, I suppose it is unfair for me to criticise how confusing it is seeing I didn’t play the video game and like always, the video game would have more time and routes to flesh out everything unlike the TV series that is just so limited. Hence I believe that fans of the game could only appreciate and understand what is actually going on. Or be disappointed that this adaptation didn’t live up to their perfect standards. Geez, it’s hard to please everybody.

It goes without saying that with me not understanding the plot very well, the characters who are supposed to help drive this plot doesn’t even fare well. At least in my books. The first episode was already confusing enough with suddenly the norm becomes the weird. Throughout the series, we see more characters gather as they share the same goal of returning to reality. Sometimes it confuses me because suddenly a character joins the pack without much explanation. Like as though they popped out from somewhere. For example, Izuru. I don’t really remember but from out of nowhere he becomes part of the Go Home Club. We get a gist of the characters’ goal like Mifue wanting to reconcile with her mom but overall it is still insufficient. That episode which summarizes the past and goals of the main characters is good but coming in so late at that point I was already confused and starting to forget things. With everyone back in reality, I wonder if they will ever get to meet each other again. Yeah, it would be weird if they managed to organize an alumni of Mobius survivors and be shocked to see how each other looks. That’s reality for you.

Everything would have been easier and mostly things solved had not Miu screwed up everything. Yup, I blame her as the source of not understanding everything. To a point where I think she is just stubborn and not wanting to open her eyes to reality and continues to ‘fix’ things the way she deems as correct. When things go wrong and not the way she intended, we hear her ‘complain’. Why this. Why that. Sighs. Feels like I want to slap her and tell her what she is seeing is so obvious. Sure, it is painful and undesirable but that’s reality before your eyes.

Unfortunately as much as I really want to blame her, she is after all just artificial intelligence as revealed. She is only as smart as the person who programmed her. Even if she takes on a life on her own and tries to understand what happiness is, can a virtual programme actually understand human emotions and especially what makes humans happy? This is the reason that stopped me from blaming that stubborn girl from everything and this is the reason why Mobius is such a crappy place. This is what happens when you let artificial intelligence decide what happiness is. So what Miu is doing whether it is for the betterment of mankind or just her selfish desires, is pretty up for debate. But I can’t believe that it is so easy in solving the problem of Astral Syndrome just by destroying the computer bug. Ritsu must have one heck of hacking skills to simply solve this glitch. Or was it the magical words of I love you that did the trick? Heh. Even computer bugs have feelings? Man, love is more complicated than programming. I wonder if Miu will come back in the future as an upgraded version 2.0.

The Musicians themselves do not fare any better than the main characters even as antagonists. They too have their problems and issues but are treated in the same way as the Rogues. Only difference is that they want to continue to be part of the dream and fantasy. You can blame them for averting their eyes from truth and hence taking the easy way out this way. But if you think about it, isn’t life in generally about escaping the harsh life so as to have a more comfortable one? Just that they have everything all at once at their fingertips. Even if it is all just virtual. I would have gladly joined those Musicians if I was a character here. But in terms of character development, theirs is even shallower and the most disappointing one goes to Shadow Knife. Suddenly out of the blue who the f*ck is this character? Sure, he was lurking in the shadows before but I bet not many would have noticed. And then his appearance in which he also dies. WTF?! And what happened to Shounen Doll? Last minute popping up to save Suzuna didn’t do him any good. At least not in Mobius. Why Kensuke defected was also very unclear to me. Basically it feels like having a Musician antagonist is like having a counterpart for the Go Home Club (Shougo-Thorn, Izuru-Ike-P, Kotarou-Shadow Knife, etc) for some drama or whatever plot it needs to but it fails to make it interesting.

Hence everybody in this series has their own issues to deal with. Although I do welcome the topic about the different interpretations of happiness and the harsh reality that everyone has to face, the subtly that perhaps everyone in the world where they dream of having the perfect life, such issues aren’t really dealt with in-depth. To be fair, this isn’t really a psychological class or mini documentary. It’s just trying to say that too much of something is never a good thing even if it is perfect. There has to be some sort of balance between dreams and reality because that is how humans live their lives. It’s good to have dreams and achieve some of them but only because we struggle to achieve even though everyone has different levels of progress and difficulty mode to achieve it. That’s why we play games for a while before returning to reality. Hence if you continue to stay in Mobius, your real life problems will never be solved. A classic case of sweeping dirt under the carpet. Well, well. Looks like I myself can be a psychologist too.

One of my favourite and interesting sections of the series is the mid-intermission eyecatch. Rather, the very inspirational and psychological quotes that they display that really makes you think. Actually, those quotes also serve as the title for the series. For example, “When you lose composure, you cannot reach the truth or reality” or “People who do not respect themselves will not be respected by others” or “Everyone gets hurt. But those who don’t realize they are hurting cannot be healed” or “Even if something has already happened, you can still choose what to do” and my favourites “Your life shouldn’t be built from someone else’s blueprint. No matter how unskilled you may be you should draw it yourself” and “People constantly seek out the right answer. Yet is being right really all that matters?”. This is one psychological aspects that I can think about. They are supposed to have a bearing in the episode but I guess I’m too dumb to make the connection. Nevertheless if I can’t understand how they are related to that episode, at least they can still serve as a good lesson in real life.

Also, one of the most light-hearted and funniest segments in the series is the next episode preview. Not really so much of a next episode preview, but rather a very comical yonkoma style comic about Ritsu and Shougo and other characters in chibi form doing and saying random things. Because it sounds so random and comical, perhaps it is the only part of the series I ‘understood’ although I don’t really understand it all. Because it’s just so out of place and random that is just funny for no reason. Yeah, racking my brains has caused me to find pleasure in this nonsense. Is this my happiness?

Although the art and animation looks pretty decent with some bishoujo and bishonen look to the characters, what I want to point out is the very floral shirt design that the school uniform has. Most high school uniforms are of a single colour but having this very colourful floral pattern as their shirt somehow makes it look weird. Like as though they are on vacation to some tropical place like Hawaii or Okinawa. Even more so, the floral colours are dark and while it supposedly fits the theme of the series, overall if you ask me if this is suitable as a high school uniform, I would say it is not. Sure, the beige blazers help cover it and not make the floral pattern obvious but still, to have such pattern just feels bizarre even if this is Mobius. The designs of the characters in their Catharsis Effect form feels rather okay. It gives them that edgy sci-fi look that makes them look more like professional assassins, swordsmen and even witches but the thorn part that sticks out of their body really looks like a sore thumb sticking out. In other words, weird.

Hence the action parts just feel average. Nothing really exciting and with a handful of characters each with their different abilities while in their Catharsis Effect, it should have been something exciting but it’s not. I don’t remember any memorable abilities from them aside from Shougo’s big gun that he only uses to shoot and nothing else. I suppose they didn’t want to drag out the fight since with quite a few characters on both sides, it could get messy with everybody fighting everybody. Like that part in episode 6.

Voice acting feels normal. Didn’t recognize anybody so here’s the cast list: Chiharu Sawashiro as Ritsu (Nishiki Sasa in Love Kome), Reina Ueda as Miu (Mira in Dimension W), Shunsuke Takeuchi as Shougo (Yamato in Nanbaka), Rie Takahashi as Mifue (Megumin in KonoSuba), Ari Ozawa as Naruko (Kirin in Gakusen Toshi Asterisk), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Kotarou (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin), Minami Tanaka as Suzuna (Mary in Kakegurui), Yuichiro Umehara as Izuru (Mitsuhide in Akagami No Shirayuki-hime), Rie Murakawa as Kotono (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori), Asami Shimoda as Aria (Rin in Infinite Stratos), Shouta Aoi as Kensuke (Ai in Uta No Prince-sama series), Yuka Ootsubo as Thorn (Kyouko in YuruYuri), Emi Nitta as Sweet-P (Honoka in Love Live), Eriko Nakamura as Mirei (Fuurouta in Concrete Revolutio), Souma Saitou as Ike-P (Tatsumi in Akame Ga Kill) and Mai Fuchigami as Marie (Nagisa in Ansatsu Kyoushitsu). The hard rock opening theme, Paradigm Box by the voices of Ritsu and Shougo sounds okay for this genre while the ending theme, Hypno by the quartet of Mifue, Naruko, Suzuna and Kotono has a more dramatic feel to it. Miu also has a bunch of her idol-like songs as insert songs in the series but none really resonate with me. Maybe that is why I don’t turn into Digiheads? Thank goodness.

Overall, I wanted to give this series a chance and perhaps this is one of those sci-fi genres that would change my perception and overall feelings for the genre. Unfortunately it did not. That’s the harsh truth. And now that sounded more like an excuse than anything. Confusing plot and character development only serve to confuse the hell out of me even more and no dramatic effects could even save the series. It is one of those series that is difficult to understand if you are just an average viewer like me unless you are totally into this sci-fi stuffs and a hardcore fan of the game or series. Until then, I am still waiting for the day that Miu will invite me to Mobius where I can slack off with my harem of kawaii 2D maids serving me for eternity. But the truth is, damn reality is such a painful ass to deal with. Just like this anime who thinks it could fool you with all the nice things and twists but in reality it is just one of those crappy series. Told you the truth is harsh.

Fate/Extra Last Encore

September 22, 2018

Another season, another Fate series adaptation. After the rather okay Fate/Apocrypha (I was satisfied with it although the general public or rather the hardcore fans were not too happy about it), I was wondering if they wanted to give the red Saber its due debut. The one in Apocrypha didn’t really count, okay. Fate/Extra Last Encore is another one of those alternate universes like Apocrypha that isn’t directly related to the original works so I thought there would be something new instead of reusing the same 7 Masters with their 7 Servants fighting each other to win the ultimate Holy Grail and get their wish, that tired storyline that probably has been done to death in the Fate universe. Probably. I’m not a fan of the Fate series and have only known and see them in their anime format. But this series involving the moon and digital format thingy? Oh no. Smells like a heap of confusion ahead. Hold my breath and take the plunge…

Episode 1
Wow. Starting off with Saber fighting Buddha? In space? And lost! We now go to the current scene. Hakuno Kishinami is a student of a school, the teacher talking about summoning of Heroes and other mumbo jumbo I can’t understand. After class, he hangs out with his friends, Shinji and his girlfriend, Misao Amari (this loser has a girlfriend?!). They talk about limbo and existence. Not that I understand again. They go watch a chess match that is won by Leonardo “Leo” Bistario Harwey. Popular enough to have his own legion of fan girls. The mind boggling thing is that the loser in chess got killed off! Even more so his body just left there after the crowd disperses! Hakuno examines it and is met by Rin. They take it to the infirmary as the school nurse has him ‘take out the trash’ at the incinerator as she has no authority. After dumping the corpse-like thingy into the abyss, some scientist dude tells him about the different layers of this world something about illusion and paradise thingy and the days repeating itself. WTF. Angelica Cage. Sea of the Seven Heavens. Don’t get it. Before Hakuno could ask for what it all means, he is told time is up and didn’t make it. Kirei announces 100 participants have qualified and because 28 spots remain, the remaining participants have to kill each other to qualify before the final purge. Hakuno meets up with Shinji as they run and hide. But Shinji betrays and stabs him to death, believing Hakuno has no desire to win this game like him so he should die for him. Yup, best friends alright. After the last spots are taken up, the purge begins. All those who failed to qualify are being killed by Terminator robots. Apparently Hakuno is still alive. He makes his way to the incinerator as some Archer clone tries to kill him. Apparently Archer clone is bad in dealing the lethal blow so Hakuno falls down. Deep enough until he reaches some area with a red sword in the middle. He slowly walks to pick it up. The enemy slowly walks to kill him. Eventually Hakuno picks it up and he summons Red Saber. To show how awesome she is, she destroys the clone with devastating strikes. At the end, she asks him if he is her Master. Kirei narrates about the Holy Grail War abandoned long time ago and hence the activities conducted in this paradise were a mere echo of the past. Things repeated and the results were the same. But with Hakuno as the 129th Master, a miracle has happened, his existence is his final task.

Episode 2
Hakuno and Saber ride the Moon Mile Ladder, a capsule that heads to the moon. Inside is a luxurious facility for them to recuperate as well as explain to us the things we need to know. All participants are to fight each other until one is left in Moon Cell (moon’s version of Holy Grail) and the winner gets to fulfil their wish. More mumbo jumbo about this is all just artificial spiriton world created by the moon’s mainframe. During the preliminary stages, participants’ memories are suppressed but will only regain them once they become a Master in the main tournament. Even so, Hakuno has not had his returned yet. Not that he cares. Participants are supposed to fight their way from the lower stratum to the higher one but it seems Saber is amazed with this festival-like atmosphere of this first stratum. Of course they go around not only to have fun but to find opponents. In this bar, Saber thinks the bar master is a Master but is told many Masters who reached here have sold their Servants to Central Tower because life here is too good so there is no need to fight in any Holy Grail War. Saber leaves disappointed but Hakuno is given a tip that there are some Masters in this stratum who haven’t sold their Servants yet. A bevy of hot policewomen take the duo to Central Tower as they talk about besides Masters, everyone else is NPCs and not humans. The mayor of this stratum is Shinji?! He explains this might be the lowest stratum of SE.RA.PH but it is liberated and has its own laws and government. Shinji buys the Servants to turn them into efficient resources to help provide comfortable lives for all Masters. Shinji wants Hakuno to sell his but after hearing this, his decision is easy: He will not sell Saber. Shinji takes his next action to eliminate them. He separates them and has Saber fight 3 Berserker Servants. Meanwhile Hakuno gets stabbed by the police babes. This is the second time he gets stabbed… But don’t worry. Looks like his intense hatred and again has him pull out their swords. Oh sh*t! Is his true form or memories some sort of monster he is? Dead Face?

Episode 3
Just in time, Rin. Her hacking saves the duo from whatever troubles. Rin is a Master without a Servant and is fighting as a resistance. As they recuperate, Rin explains about the situation. Masters who fear fighting and death all are stuck in this stratum. It is all due to the creation of that wheel in the sky, Chakravartin, the rules of the Holy Grail War has been broken. Each stratum became independent and Masters no longer have to kill. But there was one who won his first round but for some reason could ascend to the next stratum. So Chakravartin changed how SE.RA.PH works and as the only one left on this stratum, he became Floor Master. He used all this resources to create this city. Even those from higher stratum descend here to this city to live in peace. Angelica Cage is acting weird and the only way to find out is ascend to the highest stratum. You can only do that by defeating another fellow Master. Speaking of which, there is only one here who is no other than Shinji and he is the Floor Master. Hakuno gets his resolved to kill him. Payback time? Rin hacks her way and becomes the bait so the duo can ride up to the next floor to face Shinji. Flashback shows he killed another Master to win. Realizing he is the only one left, he feared killing again and will die with nothing to show for. To prove he is alive, he will create a city to house Masters who have given up on the Holy Grail War. If he can gather hundreds of spiriton hackers, he could accomplish something. Now Shinji gives Hakuno the right to fight him. The city is flooded as he summons his Servant, Rider whose real identity is the pirate, Francis Drake. Saber met her before as that bar master. Shinji activates her Noble Phantasm. Not sure if Saber can’t swim and is drowning so Hakuno swims down to kiss her. It’s his way of transferring mana to her. Yeah, she likes it. Because of that, Saber rejuvenates and with a great stroke of luck cuts down Rider. Shinji will not dissolve his contract with her and risk disappearing along for he doesn’t believe she has lost. Saber’s win was just fluke. Shinji regrets of being unable to do anything for a long time that he started going mad. He had nothing and stayed here because the thought of humanity would be judged as worthless if they disappeared here. Hakuno stops him, probably doesn’t want to hear his sorry story. At least he won’t hate him anymore. So are they friends? Shinji’s sarcasm says no. Hakuno and Saber take the Moon Mile Ladder up to the next stratum and Rin just manage to join them in time.

Episode 4
Hakuno ponders about Rider’s last words of why he wants to ascend. He has no memories and only hatred of wanting to ascend. Saber doesn’t care as it is human nature to be greedy. Just go for it! In the next level, Dan Blackmore’s wait has finally end with the arrival of Hakuno and Saber. He will defeat them and ascend to the next stratum. First he snipes at them but Saber being quick to deflect his bullets before they jump into the forest for cover. Dan sends Archer to eliminate them. Archer uses his invisibility to mask himself and his arrows and his poison mist in order to slow them down. Saber uses her body to protect Hakuno from an arrow when he fell into a trap. But before everything could be over for Saber, some miracle burns away Archer’s arrows and causes him to be visible. Archer retreats. It is hinted that Hakuno may have used a Command Spell to get out of this situation and their saviour is Rani VIII. She too is a Master without a Servant like Rin and is fighting the resistance on this level. She explains about Dan who became Floor Master and started hunting Masters who came here. Rani didn’t descend as she saw the stars that a Master who strives to ascend will appear. That was 50 years ago. More about Moon Cell constructing this place as an ideal environment for humanity’s soul to go. It could have been humanity’s utopia had SE.RA.PH been used correctly but is now facing destruction. Hakuno dreams of that scientist telling him about his Holy Grail War was just a means for Moon Cell to gather data on humans but people misinterpreted it and started helping themselves rather than its roots. He will choose one who is fit for the Holy Grail. Hakuno is more confused since he was killed by him and if he was kicked out from Angelica Cage. Later Hakuno sees Rani attending to the graves of the fallen Masters. He asked about that 50 years thing so she is disappointed he failed to notice it himself. The year is now 3020, about a thousand years since SE.RA.PH broke down. Earth’s population has dwindled far below 10,000 and reaching unsustainable levels. If you consider civilization to be the core tenant of humanity, those in SE.RA.PH are the last remaining humans. If SE.RA.PH is destroyed, so will humanity.

Episode 5
Flashback 999 years ago when Dan was fighting as a Master and lost despite being far superior in ability and determination. Apparently he realized it is the quality of that will that gives one the strength to go forth that is important. He questioned his goal to win the Holy Grail to get back his dead wife. Normally that would be the end for him but due to some error in Angelica Cage, he is summoned back to this stratum with his Servant, restored. He took up the challenge to fight again. Rani discusses their battle plan. On Dan, we learn that he isn’t a real Master because he initially lost. That is why all the Masters he killed, Moon Mile Ladder will not appear. Hence he is fighting a futile struggle. Archer’s identity is Robin Hood but they must beware his Noble Phantasm that is triggered after you take a shot from his arrow. Poison will flow into your blood stream before finally exploding. To do that, he must reveal his name. The battle begins with Saber facing off with Archer while Rani takes Hakuno to the tower where Dan is supposedly based. But upon reaching the tower, Rani is sniped. She tells Hakuno not to save her. For Dan didn’t kill her outright so as to lure him back out to kill him. Hakuno is in a dilemma that his selfishness will kill and sacrifice her. Then he transforms into his Dead Face version to swiftly save her before Dan could even see anything. Archer thought he has Saber in his palms. His arrow has hit her and the poison spread throughout her body. All he needs is to use his bow and let her touch it to explode. However nothing happened and Archer is sliced. Apparently Saber drained her entire tainted bloodstream! Was there a character in history who could do that? With the explosion heard from the tower, it means Dan is also defeated. We see how Hakuno snuck in a sniped Dan. Uhm, that easy? Me no understand. Dan lies satisfied in his death as the sound of the bells reminds him of his happy days with his wife. With Moon Mile Ladder here, Hakuno wants to go back down to save Rani as the stratum is collapsing. But Saber reminds him that Rani hinted she never wanted to ascend with them. Her wish is to stay here with the dead and their dying wishes. So up they go. One question: If Dan isn’t a real Master and not qualified to ascend, how can Hakuno a real Master defeat an unreal one and ascend? Double standards? Rin who has been sorely missing since this stratum, pops up to hitch a ride with them again. Sneaky…

Episode 6
We start off by seeing Hakuno claiming victory over loli, Alice. I guess it’s not nice to see how a loli gets defeated. She doesn’t want to be left alone so he promises to come back after getting the Holy Grail before ascending to the next stratum. So okay, we get to see what happens. Arriving at this strange forest, the trio trek through as Rin explains about cyber ghosts. Yup, they can exist in this world. Hakuno thought he saw a loli. Indeed. Alice is happy to have found someone and has been alone for a long time. She admits she is a ghost. They play a few kiddie games together as she tells him once he leaves her, he will forget all about her. He wonders if this is a Servant’s ability. Alice explains her wish to be cured of her illness. After a war that killed everyone, she was alone in a hospital. The adults did things that hurt her. Eventually she died without being cured. She is happy to be in this level where her wishes could come true. Hakuno has had enough and leaves. When he reunites with his girls, he can’t remember meeting somebody although he could feel he did. As they trek further, Rin sees a vision of her confronting Amari on this level. Amari claimed to have cast away everything and came this far to win. She challenged Rin but was given a disappointing excuse why she would not. At the same time, Hakuno sees a vision of Amari and talks to her. Something about she hates her own name because it means unwanted. Her mom got knocked up by a bigwig and then abandoned. Amari was then also abandoned. Her wish is not to be laughed at so she abandoned everything in order to win. But the first few rounds was easy because in order to be stronger, she observed and used a weaker opponent to her advantage. At this stage, there were no weaker opponents. Alas, she had no choice and will still fight. Back to reality, the trio realizes this place is something off. Their sense of time is off and they have been seeing weird visions. After seeing the blood on the wall, Rin suddenly remembers why many Masters fled this stratum. There is a monster that cannot be killed. Don’t look now because it is here! Saber engages it but before they know it, they are back at starting point. Rin realizes the Servant has a Noble Phantasm that restarts the day when defeated. That way she can read all the stories she wants until she gets it right. The Servant’s true identity is Nursery Rhyme. Even a personification of children’s fairytales can become a Servant? Oh well, you don’t know how scary some fairytales can be. Although the motive of the Master is unclear, they continue to stay here and repeat this one day.

Episode 7
I’m confused of the timeline here. Anyway, we see Alice walking around in search for Hakuno but to no avail. She doesn’t care about the challenge Amari throws to Rin. In her bit to replenish her resources, she turns into that monster. So when all the other Masters see her, they attack her out of fear and she kills them all. She knows Hakuno will not recognize her like this but will keep waiting nevertheless. The trio re-enter the place, prepared defeat that monster whom they believe is the Floor Master’s Servant. We see another scene of Hakuno spending time with Alice. After that Amari confronts him to tell him off that he is doing nothing as Alice is his opponent. One must kill the other. Hakuno asks Saber if there is anyone who has ascended without fighting. Surprisingly she says yes. If the opponent resigns, the other wins by default. They are attacked by the monster. As Rin puts up her barrier, the monster is too strong and breaks through. It would have killed her but Hakuno uses a Command Spell to restart again. This is when Amari shows Hakuno the truth. The real Alice is not this cute loli. She is just the dream of the real Alice who is a creepy mummified sick child hooked up to all the IV drips in a hospital bed. This Alice cannot do anything and is being left all alone. After all, saving her makes no sense as she is already dead. The trio begin their trekking again. This time Hakuno talks about this place being a cyber ghost and attachment of the past just like him and his hatred. It is so piled up here that it smothers the present. Saber adds that even if one reaches Angelica Cage and defeat Twice Pieceman, there is no guarantee Moon Cell will even grant that wish. Everything is questionable and uncertain and yet with that people still chose to fight and ascend. We replay that opening scene of Hakuno defeating loli Alice and going to ascend. Because she is dead to begin with, Moon Cell can’t kill her. After picking up the book, they start to remember. No one is really left here. Now the trio fight against the monster and defeat it for good. The book disappears and only leaves behind a bookmark. Hakuno at least now wants to ascend with hope. Alice’s ghost doesn’t think this is such a sad fate and bids goodbye to Hakuno.

Episode 8
The fourth stratum was probably so easily that we see them ascending to the next level! Maybe we’re running out of episodes too? In this next stratum, Rin explains there is no Floor Master and there is a ladder to ascend to the next stratum. Easy. But of course there is a catch. There is a maniacal killer on the loose and his equally insanely powerful Berserker. That maniac is Julius Bistario Harwey, Leo’s brother who is said to be the best warrior. Saber and her previous Master once defeated him but luck played a great factor then. As Rin scouts the area, Saber and Hakuno talk about one being a talented genius. It doesn’t take long before both sides start fighting each other. Saber has a hard time fighting Berserker but with Rin now able to transform and use some spear weapon thingy, she leaves it to her while she goes find Hakuno who is fighting Julius. Hakuno transforms into his Dead Face to fight on par with him. Julius can also do the same. Hakuno remember memories of him and realizes he was killed in the Holy Grail War. So is he a ghost? Julius laughs like a maniac. He claims they are both lower than ghosts. Hence this flashback of Hakuno talking to the scientist to explain more incomprehensible mumbo jumbo. Sighs… Apparently there is a difference between ghosts and Dead Face. Taken prisoners by death, they are curses acting as members of the dead to spread death. Something about death of body and death of spirit is separated in SE.RA.PH. When Angelica Cage closed and Holy Grail War ended, SE.RA.PH became a digital hell with the regrets of the dead stopped being purified and left as they were. He wanted to reform humanity but failed due to naivety. Hence he decided to stop the growth of all humans and killed all victors. Some were worthy heroes but neither were enough to bring salvation. With the regret and hatred piling up, someone who was not anyone awoke to bear those burdens: Hakuno. Thus this Hakuno isn’t the real Hakuno but a repulsive homicidal maniac given form simply from hatred towards living. He is a mass of death. He ascends in order to kill. Normally Hakuno would have died from Julius attacks but you know, he is already dead. With Saber coming into the scene, Julius backs off. However Saber soon collapses as she used her body to stop Berserker’s attack on Hakuno. Because Berserker’s Noble Phantasm kills the enemy in a single blow. Julius and Berserker go off to deal with Rin attacking them while Hakuno is filled with regret for letting this happen to Saber. So we see him walking and wallowing in that regret as the voice of Saber tells him to be positive. He enters a room where a movie is about to start.

Episode 9
This video is supposed to help Hakuno remember the important thing to become a Master. Great. A motivational video? We see Saber’s ex-Master being berated by Julius for not being up to par. Even so Saber came to her defence. She was also shocked that she was an NPC but Saber lifted her up with her positivism. She took Saber as her Servant but misinterpreted she had a joyous life. Hence Saber told her true identity that she wouldn’t at first for fear of learning her bad repute. She was a Roman Emperor, Nero Claudius who loved everything. She too had her enemies and they plotted her downfall. When the Senate put her on trial, she thought the people would be by her side but none did. In the end, she killed herself never ever knowing what true love is. Despite all that, she continued her positivism. Hakuno may have called her out due to desperation but to her, that calling was irreplaceable. After a few last motivating words about himself from the ex-Master, Hakuno wakes up. Apparently Rani still lives and is treating him and Saber. Saber is glad they’re both okay and wants to go take on the enemies. But Hakuno is still filled with guilt and doesn’t deserve to be her Master. She slaps him and tells him off he got the order of things wrong. He fought because he didn’t want to die. He ascended because he didn’t know anything. He didn’t awaken to be another person. Even if things change, the foundation doesn’t. Hakuno is Hakuno. The person with the same feelings and heart. Saber’s ex-Master is also Hakuno. But now he exists with a different face and gender. With renewed motivation, they vow to stay by each other side and defeat their enemy. Saber lets him know her true name for she needs to unleash her Noble Phantasm. Saber does so in her fight with Berserker. She kills him in her grand Coliseum thingy. Now Hakuno faces off with Julius. The latter laments he is like a recurring nightmare that can’t be killed. Hakuno claims he isn’t the Hakuno he knows and won’t share his nostalgia trip. Eventually Hakuno defeats him and Julius warns the dead cannot change things. He will soon become just like him. Uhm, can Julius also die because I thought he was the same like Hakuno? With that, the duo ascend to the next stratum. It is revealed that Rin and Rani are in cohorts to lead the duo as proper Master and Servant before the next Floor Master. Their role is over but Rin still wants to stick around (claiming she is worried) and follows them. She parts ways with Rani.

Episode 10
Flashback shows Rin and Rani as the only 2 Masters left. They propose a truce and form a plan to get out of their predicament of finding another Master and drag them up here to the sixth stratum. Hakuno dreams of a conversation between Rin and Rani back on Earth. Rin worked as a wizard but from her position, she is considered a terrorist by the government. In her fight against the Harwey Conglomerate, she followed Leo to the moon. He might be heavily guarded on Earth but on the moon she has a chance to take him out. You see, with the dwindling resources on Earth, if the people from Harwey wins it, the conglomerate will control everything. The future will be screwed. Hakuno wakes up as Saber brags about how she defeated Berserker. Now that Hakuno is aware of what he is, he theorizes he is able to pull off battle experiences from dead Masters as well as their weapons. Arriving at the sixth stratum, it is a foggy land of nothingness. They are attacked by, uhm, Rin? Oh here comes giant Rani. But Rani kills Rin? But Rani killed by Rin clones? Who are then killed by Rani clones? Rinse and repeat. Hakuno and Saber run for it as they witness this never ending loop as well as the unlimited corpses of Rin and Rani. As they theorize about the situation, the real Rin pops up to refute it all. Although, she claims some of it is true. She admits she and Rani are the Floor Masters here but refuse to elaborate more. It is also true they were trying to kill them. Because their objective of having them reach here has been achieved, Rin doesn’t care if they live or die so she takes them to the safest place around: The dome. But right before they enter, Rin breaks up and disappears. I guess inside the dome they’ll find their answers.

The voice of Rin and Rani’s consciousness explain to the duo about this dome being the centre of this stratum. They fought as Masters on this floor but neither won. Neither winners nor losers, they cannot die nor ascend. At the same time, the Holy Grail was suspended and their original bodies became installed in the centre as supplementation devices. Their souls went into deep sleep and themselves refined. Hence each time they dream of fighting and killing each other to ascend to the next stratum but each time they regenerate new avatars. Thus their meaningless battles and the endless numbers of their corpses. So they thought of an idea if Moon Cell put down a verdict, this endless slaughter will end. Therefore their plan to find another Master to reach this stratum. They found one who didn’t give up on the Holy Grail. They hope he would defeat one of them in hopes that one would be freed. In the centre where their bodies lie, Hakuno has to make a choice who to save. Rin wakes up. So did he choose her? She sees Hakuno by Rani’s side. Her body on the verge of disappearing. It seems he wanted to save both of them. But Rani’s body was somewhat complicated and he failed. Rani doesn’t want him to regret and thanks him. At least she now has a proper chance of saying goodbye to him. Rin realizes that had Hakuno killed one of them, the results would have been still the same but it was a path that would at least let one of them rest in peace. Before ascending to the last stratum, they even have time to make a proper grave for Rani. Rin vows to support the duo as long as she lives.

Fake/Extra Bad, Last Straw
I would say that this is the worst Fate series that I have watched. One reason for me to attribute that is that there is no real ending. All the Fate TV series that I have watched have some sort of ending. And they were 2 cours. This one doesn’t even last a dozen! Oh, that Illya spinoff was somewhat ‘incomplete’ but it is ongoing. So we are left hanging and the final fight on the final stratum is not shown. Couldn’t they just have this season a dozen episodes instead of the same amount normal people have as fingers? You see, there was an extra episode released months after this season ended. However I saw that its running time is 2 hours!!!! FREAKING 2 HOURS!!!! Holy (Grail) sh*t!!!! That’s like watching a movie. Watching just 24 minutes of an episode in this one feels like an eternity and you expect me to sit down for that special for 2 hours? Forget it. I’d rather be disappointed and confused now than risk be confused even more. Yeah, if I was a Master taking part in the Holy Grail, I would have been the first to sell my Servant, give up and live the luxurious life in the first stratum.

Hence I will never know if the final extra long special (pun not intended) would really give a closure and a proper end to this series. Because while watching this series, it also felt like as though there are many other parts cut out or missing. For example, the fourth stratum. I mean, out couldn’t be that easy for our main characters to advance to the next level without any sort of fight, right? What about that Leo kid? It’s not proper to ‘introduce’ him and then for the rest of the season for him not to appear at all, right? But his brother got a shot? Plus, I saw the promotional poster for the special, Leo’s face is on it so I suppose he is going to appear there after all. Remember that big conglomerate Rin was trying to take down? Can’t turn that into a red herring, can we?

So I thought perhaps the special episode would like in this series, pepper throughout its duration some flashbacks as part of this series’ trademark to fill you in and piece the puzzle together. I’m not a very smart guy so trying to understand what the hell is going on is already confusing. Yup. Trying to comprehend this series is my hell and dystopia. I guess it wasn’t going to be as simple and cliché as Master and Servant pair fight together stratum by stratum until they reach the final level and defeat the final boss to get their wish fulfilled or whatever answers to their question. We learn about the opponents’ struggles, we learn more about the characters, add drama and tension, blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada, and voila, there you have it. An end to another mediocre Fate series.

One of the obvious things I noticed first when I set sights on this series is how the art style and animation is so Shaft-like. Yup, it definitely wasn’t Ufotable handling this Fate series. Hence all the Shaft trademarks from the bizarre angles and their trademark head tilt are ever present. It is so permeating that I won’t blame you that you would first see this as a Shaft series instead of a Fate one. Heck, when I watched the first episode, I was starting to think if I was actually watching a Monogatari series! Not joking. The art style and presentation are so similar that I was thinking they may even do a crossover. Even that episode involving that Alice monster, I thought it was taken inspiration from another anime series Shaft produced: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica. The monster especially reminding me of that Gertrude witch. You know… Scissors? Yeah… But other than the Shaft-like features, the art style just feels rather normal because when you talk about this segment for this series, you cannot help but compare it to the very superior quality of the Unlimited Blade Works TV remake and its prequel, Fate/Zero. This one is just okay.

On a side note, I just want to note that some of the female characters, Saber and Rin in particular, they look more cute than they are to mature. Just a few more modifications, they can be in their chibi format. Really. But looking at them sometimes had me thinking if they are dolls because they really looks as cute as one. Seriously. I also want to comment on Saber’s outfit. While even the original blue Saber’s battle outfit isn’t really practical for battle and more for aesthetic purposes, I find that this red Saber’s outfit to be a little of a wardrobe malfunction. Although her outfit is made out of a few separate layers, I can’t help if there was a design flaw or because some horny dude decided to design it so as you will notice there is an obvious hole at the back, just enough to see her butt! Yes, she wears some weird one piece swimsuit to cover her boobs down to her tummy and ass (but leaving her back wide open naked) but still it is an odd ‘fashion design’. And of course, Saber’s outfit is also to flaunt her delicious boobs. Yummy.

After watching this Saber for a while, it had occurred to me that she has a more bratty personality despite her sunny and positive disposition. In a way, she sounds more like Shinobu of Monogatari series than Saber! Another reason why I thought this might be Monogatari series. Yeah, I thought Saber’s true identity was that vampire girl! Haha! It would have been mind blowing had that really been true. Compared to the original Saber who has more of that arrogant pride, sure they both Sabers are different Heroic Spirits but this bratty Saber makes it feel like as though she is a kid and her reeking bubbliness sometimes makes it annoying. There is a limit to how positive one can get. Or maybe it is just me being a gloomy otaku loser :’(.

Hakuno himself is a big mystery. It is understandable at the start that he isn’t supposed what he is supposed to be but as the series progresses and bits of his identity is revealed, the more confused I get. By the time the series ended, I am still confused if he is the reincarnation of the female Hakuno or as stated, an accumulation of hatred from all the fallen Masters. Because with all that talk about being ghosts even in cyber space and everything, it just made it more baffling. I mean if you die in cyber space, can you really become a digital ghost? Heck, you already exist in digital format but then you ‘die’ so technically if you’re a ghost you’re still in digital form, right? Argh. My brain is so hurting now.

Hence Hakuno having no clear intention except for the fact he moves on based on the sole emotions of hatred and anger might sound like lazy writing at first because well, plot convenience. Then at every level you start noticing that some characters ask the same thing to him, why he is ascending. Ah, there must be a reason. They might have explained it but my mind was already going haywire so I probably didn’t understand well. So if Hakuno actually wins this Holy Grail War, will he himself get the wish or all the mass he is made up? Unlike Saber whom I thought felt like Shinobu, I don’t feel Hakuno is in anyway a counterpart to Monogatari’s Araragi. He lacks the sarcastic punch line the latter has. And he has got no harem. No, Rin and Rani don’t count.

Rin feels like a sneaky scheming little rat rather than someone prideful. Probably she had no Servant so this is what she is reduced to. But it confuses me as I am not sure if the entire event is repeated again, although it is likely it is so. Because Rin remembers something like that. Heck, everybody remembers something like that. It is said that this Holy Grail War repeated itself many times with the same results but only this time (this series that we are now watching), Hakuno somehow broke that cycle and is now part of the happening. Unprecedented? Hence Rin is like the mysterious guide to lead the duo to where she and Rani are in hopes to find an end. And Hakuno being the good guy despite the irony he is made out of mass hatred, tried to save them both.

I don’t really understand how the Holy Grail of the Moon Cell works but assuming it is all digital and there is a winner, wouldn’t any wish be very much feasible because you know, the internet is capable of creating anything! You want to live forever? Sure. In digital format. Forever. You want riches? Sure. Have unlimited amounts of Bitcoins. You want a harem? Of course. Dating simulation for all eternity! Whatever you want, the internet can provide! Hence the thought of people’s souls being trapped and locked down here and the only exit is if somebody wins the whole thing (plus if you die here, your real body also dies) feels like a rip-off from Sword Art Online. Too freaking similar… After all, this series came out a year later after Sword Art Online which debuted in 2009 – almost a decade ago!

The action stuffs are just okay. Just enough to satisfy your thoughts that since this is a Fate series and it involves the fight for the Holy Grail, therefore there must be some fights between Masters and Servants. So the usual Noble Phantasm that is used once because you know it’s not a good thing to always spam your trump card. I think it would have been a little more awesome if we get to see the format of all 128 participants fighting each other for the next stratum. You just need to kill 1 opponent for the next stage. Or at least a battle royale in the early stages. Like PUBG or Fortnite. I suppose with Hakuno as the 129th one, it screws up the perfect elimination format. Heck, it could just mean that somebody may get 2 kills or an unlucky participant gets left behind forever stuck on the first stratum. But instead for some plot twist, we have our main heroes fight a boss of the floor instead. Yeah, it feels like they’ve been put there waiting for this very sole reason.

Some of the old seiyuus of familiar characters were retained such as Kana Ueda as Rin, Hiroshi Kamiya as Shinji and Jouji Nakata as Kirei. New ones are Sakura Tange as Saber (Jack in Fate/Apocrypha – damn if she was voiced by Maaya Sakamoto, I would have continued to make my assumptions how Saber is indeed Shinobu reincarnated), Atsushi Abe as Hakuno (Touma in To Aru Majutsu No Index), Asami Sanada as Rani (Kurumi in Date A Live), Ayaka Imamura as Amari (Angie in Princess Principal), Urara Takano as Rider (Maria in Sakura Wars), Mugihito as Dan (Wombat in Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love), Kousuke Toriumi as Archer (Mercurius in Dies Irae), Ai Nonaka as Alice (Kyouko in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica), Wataru Hatano as Julius (Gajeel in Fairy Tail) and Romi Paku as Leo (Edward in Fullmetal Alchemist).

The opening theme is Bright Burning Shout by Takanori Nishikawa. Hard rock music which feels suitable enough for the theme of this series even in its entirety it is not action all the way. If the ending theme, Tsuki To Hanabata sounds freaking similar to you, then you must have seen the anime series, Kuzu No Honkai. Yes, the same singer, Sayuri sings both songs and you can tell how freaking similar Tsuki To Hanabata is. Damn, I thought it was the same song! I suppose this must be her trademark singing style like how Ali Project is to mischievous gothic and that out-of-tune-voice is to Nano Ripe. Yeah… Fortunately because I like Heikousen, this piece also doesn’t sound too shabby.

Overall, not one of the best Fate adaptations and only hardcore fans can either appreciate or hate it to the core with disgust. Or both. But I have a feeling it is more of the latter. Ordinary viewers like me would just be so confused since it is very much assumed that you would have read the Fate novels and played its games to have some very basic knowledge. With Shaft handling this spinoff, it feels more like a Monogatari series than a Fate series from the way the complexity story is told and its visual angles. Having a Holy Grail War and a Fate series in a virtual world sounds like a bold and fresh attempt. But I figure there is a reason why this series has to be the original physical format of Masters versus Servants. At least magic by default looks and sounds more acceptable unlike digital hacking and cheating. You might get banned from the server but cheaters will still find a way to come back and continue cheating. Not even the Holy Grail can ever stop that from happening.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kanojo Ga Flag Wo Oraretara

February 22, 2015

I never really understood the meaning of flag in computing terms. Maybe it is because I never played dating simulations so I am not familiar with the term. Even doing my ‘extensive’ research on it over the internet yields more confusion than anything. I still do not understand. Is it something that triggers some event in the future? Well, I think it is something like that so anybody can be kind enough to enlighten me? Anybody? Ah well, I guess I will have to watch Kanojo Ga Flag Wo Oraretara to understand it. Oh what the heck, who am I kidding? Wanting to further know about the definition of flags wasn’t my purpose. It’s the harem factor, baby! Oh yeah! Bring it on!

I don’t know if they are trying to match Sister Princess or not but I think it is pretty awesome (personally) to know that there are 12 girls in it. You read that right. A dozen. One two. XII. Although something tells me that not all of them will be the main focus but I guess that is better than nothing. Wow. Twelve lovely girls. Are they really going to overdo this harem trope and overload it? Say what? You’re more interested in what the story is about? What has the harem has got to do with flags? Okay, okay. Our main guy has the ability to see flags on people’s heads. The kind of flags that determines your future and destiny and thus his other ability to break or change them. Pretty cool, right? Well, not as cool as having this harem. Anyway he has got a death flag on himself and is traumatized by a near death experience when he was young. So he isolates himself through life trying not to make friends and strangely enough this attracts several girls that are interested in his weird way of life and they end up living with him in a dorm. I don’t know. So his strange way of living becomes the flag for a harem anime?

Episode 1
Nanami Knight Bladefield is waiting at the lights when a truck is going to crash at her and the group of people waiting there. The tragedy is averted when she notices this kid wearing the same school uniform as hers, whispering into the ears of another guy. She’s thinking through and through about this boy when it turns out, Souta Hatate is the new transfer student in her class. He sits behind her as she notices that whenever classmates approach him with their personal intentions, just a mere sentence breaks their spirit. She confronts him and wants to know. Because she also observed that he is watching the top of a person’s head before speaking out. Lies don’t dissuade Nanami. Unless he wants another eyeball poking pain, he better tell the truth. He can see flags on people’s head. At the lights, the person he whispered too had a death flag. He said something that broke the flag and of course ultimately his death. Nanami doesn’t believe but Souta is okay. He doesn’t want her to get involved anyway. Nanami thinks he doesn’t want anybody to get close to him so he reveals about a worst boating accident in history whereby Souta was the only survivor. All other crew and passengers were missing and they still are. He believes anybody that gets involved with him will be plagued by misfortune. Nanami doesn’t think so. Since he doesn’t see a flag on her head and if she did, she would have been broken by his gloomy attitude. She’ll complain and yell at him if she wants. He can do the same. So please don’t act so gloomy before her. Okay. While having lunch, Akane Mahogasawa pops up before them. She has a friendship flag and wants to join them. Attempts to break it are futile since it always comes back up. He eventually gives in. Akane mentions Nanami as the 13th princess of the Bladefield royalty. Nanami continues that since her siblings was so big (10 princes and 14 princesses!), she wasn’t really welcomed and sent away to Japan to study.

More flags pop up on Akane’s head and it’s literally impossible for Souta to break them all. Akane wants to visit his house as part of their friendship thingy. He lives at Quest Dormitory… It’s so rundown. Oh wait. It’s abandoned. He lives here? Well, at least his room is decent. Akane wants to do something for Souta. Because she felt this heart tightening feeling when she first saw him. It isn’t exactly love at first sight. As the granddaughter of Mahogasawa Foundation, she didn’t have any friends. She made her first real friend her age and exchanged items as proof of their friendship. However the adults had different views about their friendship and saw their gap in material wealth as the main factor to separate them. They called her friend a poor person. She couldn’t save that poor person. So when she saw Souta’s poor state, she believes she can save him. Nanami thinks she is just like Souta but if they both think of each other’s happiness other than their own, they’ll create a bond of happiness. When the girls leave, Akane returns to take something she forgot. Souta sees a death flag on her head. Seems the wooden floor gave way and she falls through. Souta tries to break the flag but it’s not working. There is only one way left. He kisses her! It turns into a conquered flag. And that probably sealed his own death fate because Nanami comes giving him a flying kick. Later that night as Souta washes up, he sees a death flag on his own head in the mirror.

Episode 2
Souta finds himself in a dream. On a luxury liner. There is this girl, Sakura asking him to invite girls over since it’s the vacation. In class, Akane probably loves what Souta did but not Nanami. More women problems for Souta because big sister Kikuno Shoukanji is thrilled he is back. Apparently she is supposed to be his older childhood friend but she went to study abroad last year and fell a year behind when she came back. Kikuno loves pampering Souta so much so it sends those jealous guys into envy. Taking look at Quest Dormitory, she is appalled at his living conditions but is also glad he has amassed his own little harem. Then they dance in circles as proof of friendship. Don’t ask… They go and see an elder who is a loli by the way who is in their same class if you noticed, Tsumugi Ryuukishibara. They ask to do something about the dorm but she says due to declining students, their budget is limited so rebuilding it isn’t an option. However student council president, Mimori Seiteikouji believes she can help and she has the Public Works Study Club to build it up from scratch again. A club of manly girls? It is rebuilt in no time and now for the finishing touches. Everyone helps to move things in when Souta requests the help of this boy to move furniture. Oh wait. It’s a girl. Too cute. What? Megumu Touzokuyama is a boy????!!!! Get out of here!!! Well, it’s no wonder why he has always been treated like a girl. Too girly. There are lots of friendship flags popping out on Megumu’s head. But all that turns into depression because the rest of the girls continue to look at him as a girl. Too girly to even note the fact he is in a boy’s uniform.

The dorm is fully renovated and furnished but Mimori mentions a tiny little problem. It will be closed down because it only has 1 resident! What the heck was all that hard work for anyway?! But as Tsumugi mentions, in order to keep the dorm open, at least 5 people need to stay there. Want to guess who are moving in? Let’s see… Souta as resident number one, so we’ve got Akane as number two, number three for Kikuno, Megumu offering to be number four… Okay, who is going to be the last one? Nanami is just hinting… And when she does, she has a condition to get that corner unit or else she won’t stay. Hooray! Circle dance friendship time. But why everyone is crowding in Souta’s room? So the ladies go take a bath and Megumu wants to prove he is a man by go taking a peek. He drags Souta along but chickens out and lets him bear the brunt of Nanami’s kick. Some friend. Some man he is. That night, Souta finds a letter in a drawer. It includes RPG-like classes. He remembers playing a twisted version of chess with Sakura (samurai, knight, dragon knight, ninja, summoner, among the weird pieces?). As the loser must do what the winner says, Sakura mentions she did not win because she is strong but she saw a defeat flag on his head. She will give him her power and in exchange he must find the truth of this world. Souta remembers Premium Ambriel (the luxury liner that was involved in the accident), Sakura the forgotten sister as well as this world’s truth.

Episode 3
Akane all over Souta to wake him up? How did she get a key to his room? From Kikuno. She insists it’s her sister right to have one! Even worse for Souta. They find somebody lying next to him in bed… Megumu! Now, this might look yaoi but since he is so girly… The commotion is compounded when a helicopter from Mahogasawa Electronics drops some big metal crate. Ruri Ninjabayashi is an android and sent by the company to support Akane. Yup. Add another resident to the list. They thought they can leave her to take care of the dorm while they head to school but she’s coming to school with them too. And she fits in like a glove… Mimori makes an announcement of the upcoming week-long sports festival. Everyone is going to compete nonstop for the coveted MVP title. However this is the least of their problems. As Mimori sees them personally, looks like Quest Dormitory will be demolished! Flashback reveals she was in a meeting with those board guys. They disagree about the dorm having mixed gender staying with it. Just because they are losers who never got to experience such youthful lust doesn’t mean they can impose such rules, right? So Mimori decides herself that if the Quest Dormitory people can’t take the MVP title, the dorm will be demolished and Souta will be expelled. So… All this is Mimori’s fault actually?! Oh sh*t! Kikuno is really mad! Souta going to be expelled?! Die you b*tch! But let’s look on the positive side. Mimori has got somebody to train them and she is Rin Eiyuuzaki. Archer girl has been assigned to guide them to become MVP. Souta knows she is going to be troublesome because she has this guy hating flag. She is also close friends with Rin.

The strict training begins in the wee hours of the morning. The girls must be tired but Rin is giving Souta special treatment. Yeah. More training for him! While he rests, he still feels everything that has happened recently is unreal. Up till now he has been alone and suddenly a bevy of girls flock to him. He asks what kind of guy he must be to pass his standards. She mentions about this tough kid she knew when she was young. His name is Souda (suspicious…). All other guys were inferior to her but Souda never gave in. Eventually they became equals and fought many battles together. She felt she could do anything with him. One day Souda had to move to another town and that’s the last time she saw him. Souta says he was used to be called that. Rin thinks it’s a coincidence. Since she still keeps his contacts, she will mail him about this. Souta receives an exact mail from her. Then it hit them. Yeah. Time to panic. Especially Souta who thought she was a boy! She almost falls but he catches her. She feels bad for doing all the bad things to him. Souta fears this yandere flag popping up. But with a little assurance their friendship is unbreakable, that flag turns into a conquered one. Rin explains everything to the rest. Now she is motivated to get everyone motivated to aim for the MVP title. Souta’s future is riding on it.

Episode 4
The week-long festival is here. Rin has a long list of sports everyone will have to participate. And some of the sports suspiciously aren’t sports. Cat herding? Massage the committee’s shoulders? Even a competition whereby only real princesses can enter? WTF. Anyway with Quest Dormitory in the lead, everyone’s morale is high and when Rin suggests winning the MVP to strengthen their friendship, Kikuno encourages everyone to strengthen their love for him to. So everyone tries to pass the buck around who should be a more suitable lover for Souta. While busying doing that, Souta takes another look at himself. The death flag is still there. Because of that, he spaces out and couldn’t perform and this causes the team to slowly slip down the rankings. Ruri has observed his behaviour and confronts him that his depression has a correlation and affecting the girls’ performance too. It is like as though death is involved in some way. So he reveals about his inevitable death. But that is not the scary part. It is the part where his death will bring sadness to everyone and he is heartless to make such great memories with them. Figuring out the break the death flag of others is simple but not so for his own. Then it’s like some programme in Ruri activates. Something about wondering if he would like to enter the other world. There is a First Gate that will open to the 4 heroes seeking the Great Tree that will lead them to the other world. There, they have a chance to destroy the death flag. Trying to determine where the First Gate is, Souta sees the place as Quest Dormitory. Souta is the king, Nanami the princess knight, Akane the magician, Ruri the ninja and a hooded person as the clergy. Souta believes he can’t leave this dorm if that door really exists. He requests Ruri for her help and she is amazed that he needs her. Although many people acknowledge her, this is the first time somebody actually needs her. A friendship flag on her head?

On the final day of the festival, it seems the winner gets to win everything. Leave it to Mimori to spice things up. Teams partake in a relay race and Souta and Nanami are the final pair. Prior to it, Souta has been telling the rest of his team personally to win to raise their morale and thus victory flag. They do well to make a sizeable lead. Nanami isn’t impressed with what he is doing as Souta realizes he has never seen a flag on Nanami before. As they get going and before the home stretch, Nanami trips and injures her leg. She wants to continue so as not to waste their hard work. Eventually she couldn’t and everyone zooms past them. She feels guilty but not as guilty as Souta who thinks he has failed everyone and made them sad. But since they are still cheering them on, Souta won’t give up and carries Nanami. His extra determination gives him the much needed boost to catch up with the rest but in the nail biting finish, the photo finish indicates they came in a close second place. Although everyone is sad that their fate is sealed, Mimori introduces them to the board members who are very impressed with their beautiful cooperation and friendship. Despite coming in second place, they decide to hand them the MVP title. Hooray! The dorm stays and more importantly Souta! Someone better stop Mimori before she makes a fuss about the board members doing their calculations wrong! One of the board members later turns out to be some mysterious masked babe, Zero and she knows Souta.

Episode 5
As Souta tries to investigate the passageway, all the girls come running to him. I guess Ruri made something up. Seems it is about some reward about Souta going out with them as reward for the doing their best for the sports festival. The girls discuss their turn in going out with him except for Nanami who is vehemently saying she won’t be on this date. Twice. I don’t know. She’s hinting something about some food poster… And over the scenes as we see Souta date the rest, we see Nanami doing something ‘fun’ all alone in the dorm. But why doesn’t she look happy? Megumu is the first one to go. Everybody thinks they are such a lovely couple. Remember, Megumu is a guy… So lovely… At the parfait shop, Souta helps Megumu finish a large serving. Megumu got some cream on his face and everybody is watching with anticipation for them to kiss. Nothing dramatic happens. He just wipes it off. Next is Akane and they go boating. There is a legend that couples will break up if they boat here but since they aren’t, they won’t. Some logic but she’s got a point. Though, she would love to be a couple one day. She gets embarrassed and almost falls off. Souta catches her but her clothes are quite wet. She then brings him to a library which reminds her of that friend. Although she has never seen her since, she was able to meet and get closer to him. That’s why she wants to thank them. Next is Rin at the park and because she’s already having a yandere flag, Souta quickly praises her and she was gullible enough to be conquered. She brought old photos of them and it brought back memories. Especially that one where they climbed up the bath house’s chimney and took off their pants and peed into the sun. There are a whole lot of things wrong here. Shouldn’t Souta have guessed her gender then? Unless the setting sun was blinding. And why was Rin calling him Souta instead of Souda? Rin gets so embarrassed about remembering it that she wants him to take responsibility. Unfortunately she passes out before anything could happen.

Finally it is Kikuno and their date is rather simple. Back in her room, she offers her lap pillow and they remember the time when Kikuno was sad that she couldn’t be a big sister anymore. Souta gave her a keychain and said he would be her little brother. Ever since, Kikuno considers him not as a brother-like friend but her real brother. At the end of the day, the girls thank Nanami for giving them a chance to go out with him at her expense. Nanami is hinting the thing she wants in return but it seems none of them understood what she was talking about. So frustrated… Next time make things clearer okay? Thankfully Souta understands and got that whatever food she wanted and hangs it on her door. Ruri returns with her investigation results. She has scanned the area and indeed it is confirmed the underground passage does exist but is buried deeply. Thankfully she took the liberty to dig it all up. She’s an android. It leads them to a chamber with a huge stone tomb. There are pictures that depict a knight, magician, clergy and ninja just like in the letter. Ruri scans the insides but can’t determine it since it is composed of unique materials. Nearby there is a crack in the wall that is believed to lead to the forest behind Quest Dormitory. Suddenly a bright light flashes and Souta goes to explore. Climbing out of the well, he meets Mei Daimyouzamurai. She isn’t pleased about him playing around with the attribute flags like that since he is the bearer of the death flag.

Episode 6
There is a council called World’s Seven Virtues as they discuss humans are the world’s disease. Zero mentions about Souta who raised his own death flag and defied it. They must confirm whether this heretic is a true messenger of the Sacraments that will be of value or a threat to the world. Meanwhile Mei becomes a transfer student in Souta’s class. He notices she has the same ability to cut people’s flags too. But there are more pressing matters. Souta notices his name has been nominated in both the beach and mountain camp. Thanks to some screw up by Mimori who believes in this way the girls of his dorm can get equal quality time in addition for him to learn swimming. Souta joins Ruri, Nanami and Megumu in the beach camp first. However he still has fears entering the water. Tsumugi hears his tragic tale of Premium Ambriel and led to many traumatic experiences. She is so touched that she will personally take care of his swimming lessons. Not much progress actually. While he is resting, he meets Kurumiko Daishikyougawa who sells popsicles to him. He remembers her name associated with the letter. Could she be the clergy? Anyway she views him as a nice person and she goes off as she’s a little shy. Souta notices a story flag on her head and this means there is some sort of progression in her story. Souta now switches to the mountain camp to join Akane, Rin and Kikuno. Tsumugi shows a picture when she was younger. Much taller and beautiful?! Like a different person… You shrink when you grow older? What is she? Benjamin Button? Before Souta can get into group study, he realizes he has been scammed because both camps will now switch places. Which means, back to the beach! He still fears the sea. Kurumiko is here to sell her popsicles again. Seems she is trying to be strong trying not to rely on anyone. Akane is introduced to her and anybody who is Souta’s friend is her friend as well. She’ll buy her entire box of popsicles. Kurumiko is so overwhelmed at her generosity that she runs away.

Souta catches up to her to explain Akane is desperately a generous person. Kurumiko feels she doesn’t belong whenever she thinks about people who can buy her out on the spot. She will apologize to her the next time. Souta notices her story flag has progressed to the next stage. Kurumiko wants to show him her secret hideout. This cave is where she goes to when she feels sad to remember her parents’ words. Souta believes it is good to rely on oneself but there are times she should rely on others too. Kurumiko reveals that there is something she didn’t tell him. She knew who he was because her parents were crews on the Premium Ambriel. She doesn’t hold a grudge against him but herself. Because the media continue to blame him, she took responsibility of her parents by trying to punish herself living this way. She thought she was the only one suffering till she saw him. She feels ashamed to think like that. Souta says she doesn’t need to take responsibility for her parents. They have been talking so long that they didn’t realize the tide has risen and trapping their only way out. Kurumiko hopes he could be her honorary brother when 3 death flags appear on her head. He agrees not only to that but become real siblings to cut them. Although her story flag rises, it is instantly replaced by the death flags again. He wants her to come to his school and believes things will work out. It’s his turn to save others. Ruri scares the sh*t out of them as she has located and begins rescue operations. Souta brings Kurumiko back with intentions to introduce her to everyone else when there is this babe in white and a straw hat standing melancholy before them.

Episode 7
No cause for concern. That is Megumu. His sisters snuck into the dorm and swap all his clothes for dresses. Really? Kurumiko introduces herself as Souta’s little sister. But Kikuno cannot accept this because it’s like he prefers a smaller one than a bigger one. Then she accepts it because his little sister is also her little sister. Tsumugi hopes Mimori can do the necessary to make Kurumiko attend their school. In return she can date Souta. Well, she doesn’t come cheap. That or a can of juice. She’ll take the date. So in this nature date, Mimori notes his kindness and Souta notes her energetic and that she should continue being bright and lively as it shows she is enjoying life. His words remind her of somebody close on his deathbed saying the same thing. Mimori vows to make him happy and a love flag pops up on her head. Mimori does what she can for Kurumiko’s case but unfortunately after all that, the board turned her down. Kurumiko is just happy to at least meet him for a brief period. When everyone returns to the dorm, Kurumiko is waiting for them. Seems Mei has brought her back as she felt bad for leaving her behind. She will also be staying here. How? Mei did some adjustments in the database. Why didn’t Mimori think of that?! Oh, Tsumugi and Mimori will also be staying at Quest Dormitory from today onwards. Everyone thinks Mei will be living with them too but she brushes it off before bowing down to pressure. Even if she doesn’t want to sleep with Kurumiko as she requested, she eventually gives in. Weak? Later Souta confronts Mei about her ability to see flags. She admits it but compared to his, hers is artificial and limited. This Flag Manipulation is given by Sacrament or also known as Sakura to him. It is the territory where humans were not originally allowed to trespass and the power that can even change the course of a fate that has already been decided. Ultimate Test Passenger Ship. The fateful ship that drifts along the universe’s sea. Souta has that power to rival that ship. What is his wish? One, to break his death flag. Second, to find out about Sakura’s wish. She opens a portal to bring him to a parallel world where none of his harem girls know him.

Apparently the Council of Seven Virtues is in charge of maintaining this parallel world. Currently they have their eyes on Sacrament and Souta. Mei’s duty is to determine if he is going to throw the world into chaos. His power is more fearsome than he thinks. She proceeds to show him some of his harem girls are dead like Nanami’s inevitable truck accident, Akane falling to her death and Kurumiko drowned in the tide. Then onboard the Premium Ambriel, Souta thought he saw himself waiting to die. He talks to himself to give himself the will to carry on living and all the great people he will meet at Quest Dormitory. He is surprised he turns out to be his teacher, Miyuki. She shows him a door in which her great grandfather, Souta Hatate went missing. Yes, she is Miyuki Hatate and not Miyuki MacKenzie. She will be alright now as she has found the will to live. A main character flag pops up on her head. Mei points out that world will now revolve around Miyuki. As she is the main character, she will have the power to view the world or change its course. Suddenly Souta starts coughing blood. The death flag has triggered and it is starting to affect his body. To save him, Mei tries to pull it out but experiences the despair and fear of death, the burden and power to control flags. She draws all her strength to stop it temporarily when Sacrament pops up and knocks her out. There are things Souta mustn’t know and should discover the truth by himself. Souta wakes up to find himself sleeping on Mei’s lap. He is shocked to see a captured flag on her head. She doesn’t remember about flags or Council of Seven Virtues. Could it be her memories are gone?

Episode 8
Rin is not amused that Kikuno is doting and spoiling Souta. It will make him a loser! Don’t tell me she wants to do all that to him? Because everyone has returned to their hometowns for the summer holidays, they are the only ones remained at the dorm. Suddenly Ruri drops by and kidnaps him back to Akane’s mansion! Because Akane wanted to see him, right? And so here Souta is in her very big luxurious mansion. Shortly, Kikuno, Rin, Megumu, Kurumiko and Mei come rushing in. Kikuno panicked and called everyone about his abduction and they rushed all the way here. Everyone tries to follow Akane’s aristocrat ways and I don’t know how but Souta ends up having lots of roast beef on his plate. That night Souta soaks in the outdoor hotspring alone. He didn’t realize this is the women’s section till Rin comes in. She hides him when the rest comes in. She’s got this yandere flag on her head so he turns it into love flag by saying he’ll marry her if something happens. Eventually Souta is able to make his escape without the others knowing. Meanwhile Nanami calls Akane and thinks she is lonely or something. You should see the surprise on her face when she sees the rest especially Souta having a sleepover and a big pillow fight! Feeling left out? Even a princess can throw a tantrum.

So I guess it’s only right that they all come to her principality. Nanami greets them as they take the first class train towards the capital. A mini version of Ruri pops up from Akane’s bag seeing her original body is undergoing maintenance. After Souta finishes his business in the toilet, he comes across the 14th princess, Hakua Berserker Bladefield. She is amazed at Souta and all things Japanese (since her mom is also a Japanese although different mother than Nanami’s). She talks to him and is awed at the difference between their countries. She goes to an all-girls monastery and doesn’t view anything wrong about siblings having different mothers. She is also the same age as Souta and Nanami. Speaking of her, here she comes with mini Ruri (she somewhat planted a tracker in his body) as they suspect he is taking too long coming back from the toilet. Suddenly an assassin enters the carriage and beats up all the maids. Holy cow! Ruri???!!! Mini Ruri thinks this is one of the mass manufactured assassin type androids bought by this country and could be her sister. Souta takes the princesses and run while the maids hold her back. Can’t do much since every inch of her body becomes or conceals a weapon. They are cornered when they reach the last carriage. Suddenly Souta knows what to do. He detaches the carriage and hits the emergency brake button. The assassin is about to follow but is stabbed and put out of commission for good by Zero. Souta knows this is his first time doing this and definitely it isn’t something a normal person can easily do on the first try. His powers must have levelled up. Okay. Now what? Up for walking?

Episode 9
There is a sad tale of 2 princesses. A peaceful country ruled by them was attacked by demons. A dying boy was entrusted a power of a goddess before she got tainted. His appearance also changed into of a royal flag. One by one the heroes fell to the demons. A princess was separated from the heroes as she took the flag and tried to escape. Souta and the princesses have reached the town. He is surprised when Nanami knows about the Council of Seven Virtues. It is a special organization that rules over the populace and royal family. They are the protectors of the Bladefield founded along with this country. Zero leads the council to bring the princesses back. Souta’s worried harem girls are relieved he is alright but they are stumped to see Hakua clinging close to his arm. Elia is the princesses’ big brother and crown prince as he thanks Souta for his help. Zero confronts Mei but it seems the latter truly have no recollection of her. Later Zero talks to Elia and it seems everything was planned by her. Soon, Elia makes a live broadcast that the king has passed away this morning. The reason for the delayed announcement is to subdue assassination bids from his other brothers to seize the throne. But why assassinate the princesses who are down in the pecking order to inherit the throne? Because the duo are his daughters! They are his successors. OMG! So their brother is actually their father and the father king whom they thought is their grandpa? Confusing indeed. After 3 days of mourning, the town celebrates the coronation of the new king. On a side distraction, somebody mistook Souta and Megumu as part timers for the parade and made them dress up as groom and bride respectively. Megumu as a bride? Looks very much like the part… I wonder if he can get married… Souta can tell Hakua is forcing herself to be happy and allows her to talk her troubles to him. He might regret it because an annoying girl flag pops up and she just cannot stop talking! Souta advises her that her grandpa would prefer to see her smile instead of sad and depressed. The other girls heard and feel sorry for not being sensitive. They all welcome her to Souta’s harem club and sing praises for Souta. Don’t even ask…

That night, Zero confronts Souta. She introduces herself as Mei’s former superior. She explains a nearby tombstone detailing the tragic story of the 2 princesses. Continuing where we were left off, a queen raised the royal flag and managed to drive the demons away. However it cost her life. The boy although received a blessing from the goddess, he used it to revive the princess and others instead of healing his own illness. The princesses and her comrades made this torn flag as their country’s symbol. It has become a story of hope and despair especially with that boy who has no name. A boy who turned into a strange flag to save a country. Souta feels this story is similar to his past. He fears it will still lead to destruction no matter what he does. He has done everything he can to defeat the death flag but it just wouldn’t go away. He sensed the death flag trying to gather everyone’s bad intentions to kill him. He wanted to kill himself but was scared. Zero says she loves this world and will not hesitate to kill a princess or take any lives for that. She reveals she was the one behind the assassination setup in which also serves as bait to get rid of the opposition in one fell swoop. It was also to judge the capability of the princesses. Killing 2 birds with a stone. Souta can see she is serious to a point of sacrificing her life for this world. She asks him how does he feel in a world that doesn’t need him. He might not be able to answer now but she looks forward to hear it. Zero visits some dungeon and praises him for deceiving them and escaping his bonds. Someone has escaped from the chains in a cell as Zero notes someone like him will never be able to save Souta, his beloved brother.

Episode 10
Mimori has spent a meaningful holiday in the mountains and now back at Quest Dormitory, she really looks forward to see Souta. But who the hell is this little princess Hakua?! You might have guessed it too. She becomes a transfer student in his class. In addition of not minding being his secret lover, she has him sign some documents which turn out to be recommendation of participants for the school’s beauty contest. Why is it that most of his harem girls are here? Even Megumu… As everyone has fun preparing for the school festival, Souta continues to be bothered about his death flag fate. He is worried he will end up just like that boy in the story. But after having fun with the girls even at the most trivial and silliest of reasons, he believes this is all he can do now. He wants to make everyone laugh even if it’s just a bit longer. As the beauty contest begins, the judges are Tsumugi (too ‘old’ to be a participant?), Kurumiko (too young?) and Souta (who better than the guy who recommended them all). So all the 9 participants introduce themselves on stage and it seems either their favourite thing is Souta or he is the most important thing in their lives. Yeah. Souta. You lucky bastard. For the swimsuit contest, everyone wears a t-shirt over. It is suggested Souta have to shoot a water gun to make their shirt wet and reveal their swimsuit. I don’t know… Sounds so lewd… Looks so lewd… In the end, everyone accumulates the same number of points. Even the judges give the same score. Can’t decide? My guts tell me all the guys voted for everyone because all of them are just too cute and moe not to vote. The final tie-breaker sees the girls confessing to Souta and Nanami is made to go first. She starts off by saying she hates him because the first time they met, he was such a gloomy and pathetic person. It got better after spending time together but now it’s back again. She doesn’t know what is going on but she knows he has done his best. This makes Souta realize that it wasn’t about his fate or death flag. He is happy someone noticed it. He starts crying! So touching Nanami’s speech that the other girls too can’t help but cry and automatically declare her the winner. Yeah. So much points that the computer exploded! Her prize is a free escort pass by him. Lastly, finally the last of the harem, Serika Ginyuuin bumps into Souta and she wants him to help hide her.

Episode 11
Serika is a famous idol and the moment Nanami finds out about it, she almost went ga-ga. Uh huh. Big Serika fan. Wow. A side you’d never see of her. So she is somewhat upset that Souta doesn’t know a single thing about her. Serika and Nanami become good friends as the latter lends her uniform so the idol can disguise better while going around the festival. From her name, Souta guesses that she is the bard in the story. Serika talks how she became such a nationwide famous idol. Humble and nervous beginnings led her nowhere even though her friends and teacher cheered her on. She was only an idol in name as everyone else ignored her. She was about to give up as she thought instead of bringing everyone happiness, everyone brought happiness to her, there is this familiar hooded boy walking up to her to tell her she can’t give up among other words of encouragement. She will inspire others in the future. He knows because she has this success flag on her head. She didn’t lose hope and soon fortune smiled on her and she became who she is today. She viewed that boy like a prophet but never got the chance to thank him. After she leaves, Nanami has this look at Souta. Know what she is thinking? Yeah. She has a pretty good idea who that guy in Serika’s past is. So Souta says it is him but he initially didn’t want to do it out of goodwill because at that time he was about to commit suicide when he saw Serika. He thought talking to her would make him feel better but eventually he saved her. Even so, Nanami is very pissed that Souta had more impact in Serika’s life than her. That night all the girls dress up nicely because they are looking forward to dance with Souta at the dance party despite he can’t dance. Oh what the heck. Just give it a go. And of course, Ruri’s legend about this dance party that couples will get married if they dance with each other… Believe it or not.

Before that, everyone attends Serika’s concert and Nanami just can’t wait to get into the action. Serika spots her in the crowd but when she sees Souta, she feels something familiar about him. Then the song starts. Souta notices everyone has a shining flag. The light converges to Serika before uniting at him. He has always thought his death flag brought only evil and despair but realizes he has people to connect him with. People who give him hope that will shine through the despair. Suddenly the world freezes. Data numbers are seen running through everyone. Zero appears before him and explains the world he went with Mei before is a virtual world. There are many of such worlds created by the Council of Seven Virtues to help combat Angel Boat. In a world composed of network and data, trouble begin when the system called Angel Boat existing in cyberspace to watch over the real world went berserk and it is a matter of time before it takes over the real world. Because of Souta’s ability to see and control flags, they need his power to alter data of events and reach Angel Boat. Souta feels depressed although he is mostly calm. He now has all information on the network. He knows everything. But why him? The council has been running simulations in created worlds a hundred million times faster than reality. Sacrament guided their way. The Souta of this world only met her and was given her power. Fate or coincidence it doesn’t matter as his power has grown and perfected. Souta now understands he can’t break his death flag. It’s like a curse. It’s like she gave her power just for him to understand that. Now that his power is complete, this world will collapse if he continues to stay. So while everyone is at the dance party, gloomy Souta is pondering despite this is one of the many virtual worlds, this is the only world he had. Sorry everybody. Nanami wonders where Souta is hiding his ass when she felt something ominous. Then Akane asks. Who is Souta?

Episode 12
Electronics of the world go offline. Seems Angel Boat has steadily increased its influence. Don’t worry. Souta is fighting off the hordes of Angel Boat by putting death flags on their head. But there are more of them… Zero communicates with him to protect the Principality of Bladefield as it is the world and main server. So long it doesn’t fall, the world will not be destroyed. Meanwhile Nanami finds the other girls have forgotten about Souta. Kikuno never had a brother, Rin never had a childhood friend and Megumu is the only guy staying at the dorm. She tries to show them the room where Souta lives but it is locked. After Akane fell through the floor, it is cordoned off. They think she is just tired after the festival. As graduation day comes, Quest Dormitory will be torn down as the girls wonder why they are living in this place since it is far away from school. Nanami then rushes back to break down the door to Souta’s room. When she sees his letter, she recognizes her handwriting. Ruri approaches her. She hasn’t forgotten about Souta and realizes Nanami was the one to break Protect Mode from Souta. To reveal all the truth to her, Ruri kisses her! What the?! Yuri kiss?! I guess it is faster this way. In the virtual world, Nanami meets her other self who claims she is Souta’s brother. Slowly Nanami’s memories return as she now knows about Council of Seven Virtues. The control information networks and increased the net worth of Principality of Bladefield. As a secret organization as countermeasure to fight against Angel Boat. That is when Zero found Souta, a prince of the Bladefield. Why use him? As the tale is true, the founding queen, Kagura is a descendent of a young man of a royal lineage and female knight who fought the demons. The story tells of a descendent who will be blessed with magnificent powers. That is Souta.

Zero linked Souta’s soul with many other virtual worlds to form a large simulation to activate his power. This means Nanami brought Souta to the virtual world to save him. But Zero sensed them and obstructed them. As a result, Nanami was divided into 2 pieces of data. One was imprisoned in the virtual world and the other placed like a pawn as his classmate. The imprisoned Nanami managed to escape and tried setting up a programme to help Souta but her powers reached its limits. She ended up in Ruri’s body that she found but also fell asleep. In the end Ruri created a new personality of her own. Now that their memories are synchronized, all that is left is to merge back into one. As Souta is fighting endlessly, they need to gather other heroes to save him. Once back in the world, Nanami wants Ruri to lend her power. Akane is seen peeping at the door and she is sad because she feels like she has lost something important but can’t figure out what it is. Nanami also wants her help. Oh look. All the other girls are here too. So the dozen girls plus Miyuki are at the stone tomb and since this Souta guy is believed to be such a precious person to them, the only right thing to do is to go help him. They activate something in the tomb that opens a portal to another dimension. Souta is tired from the endless fighting. Oh great. More Angel Boat. More defeat flags popping up from the ground. And Premium Ambriel couldn’t be timelier coming into the scene. It’s like they really want to kill him. But don’t fear! Nanami and the gang are here in time to protect him. Yeah. They’re in their full RPG gear now.

Episode 13
Why is Souta sad that all the girls come to his rescue? He should be happy his harem is here. Okay, sorry for the bad joke. The girls fight Angel Boat and of course telling us why Souta is important to them. In short, they love him. The last boss flag is activated. Premium Ambriel absorbs those angels to become a giant boat with wings. Get it? Angel Boat. I hope they didn’t actually make a pun out of this. So powerful that it blasts to girls unconscious. Souta needs to do something or they’ll lose. Is there a special death flag that can defeat it? Ultimate death flag? What’s that? Souta finds himself transported back on that day on Premium Ambriel, the real truth that he had forgotten. A fire breaks out on the ship and everyone evacuates. Souta and his girls too but Souta saw a lost girl (Sacrament) and went to help her. Actually she is Laplace Demon and she knows who Souta is. They get lost and this time Souta sees a guy pinned under the rubble. He helps him get out but another quake rocks the place. Now he is pinned underneath. The guy can’t do it by himself and runs off promising to bring help. Souta wasn’t convinced by his words and felt he was abandoned to die. Laplace Demon plays mind games with him that no one is coming back and how does it feel to be betrayed by the person he rescued. She thinks people are the same in different worlds while Souta becomes scared he doesn’t want to die. Suddenly that guy returns with help, among them Souta’s harem. Everyone helps lift the pile but suddenly death flags form on their head. Everyone one except Souta will die. Fate is cruel, isn’t it? But what if there is a way to change it? As he alone doesn’t have a death flag, he can change everyone’s fate. Combine their death flag into one and shoulder its burden. That is, take in all the elements of death and despair (scenes of him being the only survivor, being mocked and attempted suicides). This is the price of saving everyone. Souta agrees to carry the burden. Laplace will remove everyone’s memories while he will live alone and curse his decision and the world around him. Souta believes he won’t because the world is beautiful. No matter how much he is in despair, he’ll continue to shout that. His girls too won’t forget about him. They promise to find him someday. The death flag that holds together the fate of his death is used for this moment. Souta is to pierce through Angel Boat but it’s not enough. Suddenly all the girls help support and give him that much needed push to destroy the final boss. He is glad everyone kept their promise.

He wakes up in the real world. Zero is by his side explaining although there are still problems after that battle, they are at peace now because they won. Souta refused to enroll in school, got into an accident and hovered between life and death. He then met Sacrament and Laplace Demon. They are the emotions Angel Boat discarded upon rebelling against humanity. The Council of Seven Virtues has been simulating these programmes along with the virtual world simulations for humans to fight against Angel Boat. Laplace Demon embodies self-sacrifice while Sacrament represents bonds between people. The result as he has seen. Zero feels as though humanity is being tested. She takes off her mask. Souta is surprised she is Nanami but on the contrary, she is Kagura. She thanks him from the bottom of her heart. Because she once lived believing to protect her principality in which is no different than Angel Boat. She realized she has been saved by the things she turned away from a long time ago. She lets him know the days he spent in the virtual world were nothing more than a flash in reality with nobody to share them. Nanami who dived into the world to save him is no exception. After she leaves, Nanami comes in and hugs him. She is so happy to see her brother well. In the aftermath, Souta returns to the dorm. He sees Akane but she doesn’t remember him. They get along well since they will be moving in soon. As they take a look around, Souta remembers the spot Akane fell through and died. He saves her in time. She notes he saved him… Again. He also notes that she kept her promise… Again. Sacrament and Laplace Demon watch them and comment how interesting humans are. They have just showed them how beautiful this world is. The rest of the other girls head and meet up outside the dorm where Nanami is waiting.

Episode 14 (OVA)
A Christmas episode. The girls are looking forward so much to the Christmas Eve party when suddenly it is cancelled! But thanks to Souta (yes, Souta. NOT Santa) he somehow got it going. I don’t know what he did but he saved Christmas. He’s like a saint, no? So we’ve got all his harem girls dressed in cute-cum-sexy Santarina outfits while Souta is the only one in a reindeer. He’s the only boy, right? Oh… Megumu… Nice Santarina outfit there… The party gets underway with the only flag cutting incident when Rin and Kikuno have a yandere flag popping up on their heads as they want to cut the cake with Souta. Then everyone plays the King Game and by coincidence or fate, Souta is ordered to take off pieces of paper over Akane’s body! With his mouth! There’s one between the legs… Too steamy to watch! Are you girls excited yet? Before the next turn begins, all of them place paper all over themselves. But Souta becomes king. He gives boring orders. Do impersonation of Mei? Do a punch line? This has to stop. Next event is exchanging presents like musical chairs. For the girl who received Souta’s present, she feels happy but feels bad for the rest and restarts the exchanging thingy again. This goes on for several rounds till Souta had to put a stop to this. He got enough presents for everyone. Next is the moment that the girls probably are waiting for: To spend an allotted time alone with Souta. Who the heck make up such programmes? Since we can’t fit everyone in, we only get to see a selected few. Like Akane having Souta sleeping on her lap (she’s very happy about it like as though she reached her goal – oh wait, it is her goal!), Mei is so panicky that she desperately seeks Kurumiko’s advice and the latter was cool enough to suggest a bold doggy move (this loli isn’t as innocent as you think), an ambiguous steamy scene with Megumu (which ends in an un-climaxing way of Souta putting blankets over him), Souta shoulder massaging Miyuki (she takes a picture of them to send to her mom but instantly got a misunderstood call she has a boyfriend or targeting one of her students).

Serika gets a bit more screen time in this segment as she is unhappy she has to spend time with this jerk. She even brought Nanami with her just in case. After all that badmouthing, Serika remembers something and rummages through his closet. What the heck is a girl’s panties doing here? Dunno. Ask Kikuno. Left out of consideration? WTF. Then she finds his purple hood and realizes she is that person from back then. It is really him. She goes into berserk panicking mode after realizing she insulted him. It’s like she could turn into a psycho any second now. It’s just painful watching her like this. Thank goodness time is over as Nanami takes Souta away. Serika is left confused that he didn’t say anything despite being close to her. Outside the dorm, it starts snowing. This makes Nanami note that although they were born and raised in different lands, yet they are spending Christmas Eve together. They have grown closer to each other seeing the same sights together. Like as though it’s their own Christmas miracle. The duo get close enough to initiate a kiss (yes, definitely it is going to be a kiss!) when suddenly all the other girls come crashing through the door. What the heck were those busybodies doing? Anyway they’re trying to change the topic about heaviness and weights. The one at the bottom of the pile has got to be the most disadvantageous, right? But Souta helps them all up and they go back inside. Merry Christmas folks.

Red Flag! My Brains Were Toppled!
Confused flag. It was raised very early in the series and never went away. Gosh. I think I have a hundred confused flags on my head right now. Sad to say, I find this series hard to understand. I cannot comprehend what is going on aside the fun filled harem days. Oh yeah. I sure loved that part. The only parts I understood. So when there were hints and scenes about hinting that there is more than meets the eye, the damning revelation about the virtual world or something (was everything a dream then?), I was already completely lost. (Heck, I don’t even understand or see what that Miyuki taking over as the main character had any connection with everything else before and after. Unless everything was undone). I cannot connect the dots no matter how many times I replay the scene. I gave up. Too bad a person like me whose fate was sealed in the beginning. Therefore by the time the series reached its end, I wasn’t shocked, angry, upset, happy, satisfied or anything. Except numb. Because I was just dumbfounded the entire way with my mouth wide open (okay, so I exaggerated). As though I have never watched the series in the first place because right now my mind is completely blank. Worse than any memory erasing spell.

Thus some of those who call the harem part unnecessary and a distraction to this, maybe those intelligent people do get it but sorry, for me I’m just too dumb to appreciate what is going on. Therefore I don’t mind if you start scorning me that I love the harem parts a hundred times more than anything else in this series. And it is because personally too romantic harem comedies are my favourite genres so call me a pervert otaku loser if you want. That’s who I am. Oh great. I think I just revealed too much. But you get the idea. Learning this anime was a harem genre attracted me to watch it. What more, a dozen girls. Hell more than the average of 3 or 4. I am not saying that this anime is bad. Having a different twist to this series isn’t that bad. Masking it under the guise of a harem anime isn’t bad either and it is great in addition to your ubiquitous high school setting. But if you want to fully enjoy a series, first and foremost you have to understand what is going on in the first place, right? I didn’t get that. Therefore I was already toppled from the beginning with no chance of recovery.

So let’s not go too deeply into the storyline because I know it’s interesting but too confusing for me to elaborate. Thanks to that, the show isn’t considered to be that funny except only when it comes down to the harem parts. Therefore I’ll just head into the harem section that I love best. (Haters going to hate?). It is unique that they decide to assign RPG classes to the girls and although the girls in their RPG roles don’t play a significant part, it was fun (at least on my part) to guess what kind of class they belong to. Some are obvious as you can guess from their surnames like Nanami’s knight, Akane the magician, Ruri the ninja and Mei the samurai. The rest weren’t so since my Japanese vocabulary isn’t that high standard. But like I said, even though they have such surnames that let us know their classes, I can hardly see how they play a significant role in the anime. You can say it’s that tale or something but in terms of the storyline, how does that contribute to anything?

With a dozen girls, it is hard for all of them to be getting a fair share of the limelight and thus I feel only the first half of them (namely Nanami, Akane, Kikuno, Megumu, Rin and Ruri) are given much prominence while the rest feel more like supporting in the background. Despite the many girls and their varied personalities and even looks, all of them feel like they represent some sort of archetype and trope like Nanami and Mei’s tsundere, Akane the super rich girl, Kurumiko the loli, Ruri the robot and Kikuno the big sister. Heck, I can’t believe Megumu is supposed to be the trap trope. Eventually all of them love Souta. It might be odd that suddenly girls flock to him and they might not realize it but I have a feeling it is because of that promise they made so unconsciously they may be doing so. I don’t know if Miyuki is considered part of the harem since she is part of the heroes fighting along with the heroes. Heck, she may be the 13th and hidden harem girl.

It is nice to see that some of the girls are given background flashbacks to see how they met Souta like Rin and even Serika. However due to the sheer amount of girls and limited number of episodes, in a way the character development for them and the rest are not fully fleshed out. For example, Serika as the last girl to be introduced and appearing quite late in the series have only a small flashback scene to tell us how she is connected to Souta. Sometimes it feels like things are being rushed. The most intriguing of them all is Megumu because I believe that guy is so girly in every way that I find it hard to believe he is a guy despite the numerous ‘reminders’ from his disappointed reaction when everyone continues to refer him as a girl. Then there is that very intriguing part when Megumu was dressed in a gown although he said it was his sisters doing. Somehow that doesn’t feel convincing. Deep down inside my heart, I believe Megumu is a girl. Unless they’re really gunning for this trap thing. Otherwise, if she looks like a girl, sounds like a girl and acts like a girl, then by all means she is a girl, no?

Another intriguing one is Tsumugi. This loli is supposed to be an elder and thus the oldest among the pack and it feels there is something off with her being portrayed as a loli. Something more than meets the eye. But that isn’t really explored. Maybe blame the programme. Hey, this is the virtual world, right? Or is it reality? Mimori is also interesting with her fickle behaviour. Sometimes it feels like she is the troublemaker because most of the time it is her fault that gets our gang into a predicament like how Souta is going to be expelled if they don’t win the MVP. All that is her doing, right? And at times she acts like a really shy girl because she likes Souta. But too bad she isn’t one of the main six… The most baffling one goes to Mei because after her character reset, it feels like her role is to be part of the harem and that is it. Because it feels that her initial mission of determining if Souta would become a danger to the world becomes the flag of her to become part of his harem. A fall from grace if I should say because she turned from a cool capable chick into a tsundere.

Blame the sheer number of girls too that the romance department feels lacking. They should have more of that dating episode and expand the number of girls dating him but I guess that would be in expense of the twist and plot. Because as we know beforehand, everybody loves Souta. He is the main reason and motivation why they do things with and around him. But I guess that is why they call it a harem genre. You really can’t have a pair blossoming and leave the rest in the lurch unless you want to incur the wrath of certain groups of fans. So generally everybody understands their love for Souta and continues to be friends and live their happy normal life. Well, if that was only applicable in the real world. Speaking of which, they were inside a virtual programme, right? So I guess such benevolent harem is possible there. Another surprising fact (or not) is that the fanservice is quite minimal and not heavy. Probably from my part I was being dumbfounded by the confusion to fully ‘appreciate’ it.

The art and drawing are okay with each girl having a distinct hairstyle and hair colour that you can easily identify with so that you won’t mix up or mistake with some other character. Except maybe for Sacrament and Laplace Demon. But sometimes I wonder the baby face looks on the harem girls’ face make me wonder if they are overdoing this moe thing. It is further enhanced with that pink blush on their cheeks. Even Miyuki has this cute baby face look. Tsumugi’s case may be just really overdoing it because assuming she is really an old grandma but looks like a loli. It’s like they are hinting about some cougar trope or something. Oh yeah. Only in anime where girls can look so much younger than they really are without any invasive surgery or Botox.

The voice acting seems pretty okay but I only have one qualm. Yukari Tamura as the voice of Mimori! Now, don’t get me wrong that I dislike her voice. Who wouldn’t love that squeaky cutie voice she makes? Just that I feel that employing her voice with a character that wears pads all over her body doesn’t seem suitable. I thought a more assertive voice like Youko Hikasa or Marina Inoue would be more fitting but I suppose once you get to know her clumsy personality, then maybe it fits. But generally, I still think it isn’t that 100% suitable. Recognizable seiyuus include Kana Asumi as Kikuno, Youko Hikasa as Rin, Kana Hanzawa as Megumu and Aoi Yuuki as Serika. I was tad surprise to find out that Aki Toyosaki was behind Tsumugi’s voice. I should have recognized her by then. I should. Probably I haven’t heard her in a while and I forgot! How could I?! Maybe Tsumugi didn’t have much screen time as some of the girls but that isn’t an excuse. Shame on me.

The rest of the casts include Ryota Ohsaka as Souta (Haruto in Valvrave The Liberator), Ibuki Kido as Nanami (Chinami in Golden Time), Ai Kayano as Akane (Inori in Guilty Crown), Ayaka Suwa as Ruri (Tokaku in Akuma No Riddle), Misaki Kuno as Kurumiko (Serara in Log Horizon), Sakura Tange as Mei (Sakura in Cardcaptor Sakura), Ai Kakuma as Hakua (Hami in Inu To Hasami Wa Tsukaiyou), Yuuka Nanri as Miyuki (Nao in Mai-HiME), Risa Taneda as Zero (Mirai in Kyoukai No Kanata) and Rina Hidaka as Sakura/Sacrament (Airi in Ryo-Kyu-Bu).

The opening is Cupid Reviews by Aoi Yuuki. I didn’t realize it was her singing this song. Probably she’s putting up a very cutie voice. Anyway I thought this song sounds a bit like Broadway since it has this fun and lively fanfare. The ending theme sounds more like anime pop, Kanojo Ga Flag Wo Tateru Wake by YELL, which is a group basically consisting half of the girls in Souta’s harem (Ibuki Kido, Ai Kayano, Kana Asumi, Kana Hanazawa, Youko Hikasa and Ayaka Suwa if you must know).

In the end, it got me thinking that this might be a harem version of The Matrix minus all that bullet time action effect. So unless you have a brilliant mind of going on what is in the plot, do yourself a favour and just watch for the harem entertainment. If you are into harem genres anyway. But even so, there are ‘better’ ones out there. And more importantly, at the end of the day I still cannot fully understand what a flag is. I wouldn’t care about it because if only I had a harem of a dozen girls then maybe I’d really love to live in such a virtual world happily ever after. Too bad I always knew I had this loser flag on my head… Yeah, reality sucks.

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