Plot: Haruka and Akira develop a relationship while Haruka tries to help Akira determine her true parentage and unlock the secrets of her past.
Breakdown: Akira is my favorite character on this series and seemingly has the most interesting story, so it’s no real surprise that I liked this arc.
The relationship between Haru and Akira isn’t even really put front and center, either. In fact, if I had one real issue with this arc it’s that this romance seems even more rushed and sloppy than Kazuha’s. We do find out that Haru and Akira knew each other very briefly as children, which leads to Haru going to ridiculous lengths to fix something from that time.
Akira had lost her mother’s pendant while they were playing. They searched and searched, but couldn’t find it. Haru, realizing the importance of that pendant now, goes to great lengths to find it, even though the terrain has changed since they last time he visited. His efforts are indeed sweet, but after they search in vain for the pendant, they’re already having sex.
They don’t show the sex scene on screen, and it’s possible they didn’t even have sex, but let me break it down.
They both get completely filthy looking for the pendant. Instead of going home and taking a bath in his own house like a normal person, he is invited to bathe at Akira’s home while she washes their clothes. Akira barges in and eventually makes her way into the bathtub with him, sitting on his lap, where she not-so-subtly nudges him into sex.
The scene cuts away after they start kissing, and Haru later explains that they passed out in the bath, but Akira seems to pray for forgiveness for her impure actions and they’re both blushing, which could be due to the bath, so it’s really unclear. Still doesn’t change the fact that they were in a bath together, her sitting on him, him groping her boobs and eventually making out. Mere hours after Akira even realized she liked him romantically….
Doesn’t really help that this entire scene is made a little creepy because Akira is talking about how nice it is to hear other people in the bathroom again because she used to take baths with the old man who ran the shrine/adopted her. And she’d sit on his lap in the tub….She mentions this a minute or two before she jumps on Haru’s lap and feels his hard-on pressing into her back….
Akira takes the reigns in this relationship, which is fine and fairly fitting because she’s so affectionate and physical in her emotional expressions, commonly hugging people and putting her arms around them.
Haru is somehow more pushy than he was with Kazuha, though. In her arc, he supported her and gave her space when she needed it but also helped her out whenever he could without overstepping his bounds. Here, when he learns a secret about Akira’s parentage, he decides to go out and get a DNA test to figure it out, even though it seems like Akira doesn’t really want this, and what they learn from the test could drastically affect the lives of both Akira and Kazuha.
He bounces back and forth between being pushy about it because he feels it’s his responsibility to clear this up to try and make her happy, even though this could easily create many more problems than good outcomes, and backing off. I do appreciate that, at a certain point, he admits he went too far and seems to fully relent, letting Akira make the decision for herself.
The storyline involving her family is pretty interesting. At the end of the day, I still have a bad taste in my mouth towards Mrs. Migiwa. I’m not saying she should have taken Akira in or anything, though that would’ve been nice, but she didn’t need to act like such a cold-hearted bitch towards her. Acknowledging that you realize Akira has doesn’t have the ability to choose who her parents are doesn’t excuse treating her badly.
The finale sex scene is very….random. Haru and Akira are sitting on the porch after she resolves the stuff with her family and she proposes sex….and they do. The end. It’s not really random in the grand scheme of things, but it’s just like ‘Oh yeah we end all of these arcs with sex scenes, right. Get naked, Akira.’
Sora’s role in this arc is very minimal. She spends much of episode five brushing her teeth for some reason and really just….existing. She does explain more about the cross necklace, though – that it was a present Haru gave to her when they were kids.
In episode six, they make it a point to show Sora existing sadly at home while Akira talked about how she doesn’t want to end up alone, which was very….disturbing. Were they trying to make us feel bad about Sora in that scene? Like if Haru kept dating Akira, Sora would be lonely and betraying her or something? Why do so many people in this show think that dating someone instantly means neglecting everyone important to you?
The Motoka omakes are getting more graphic. Each one for this arc had a sex scene in some capacity – both of which with Haru and Motoka, of course. I feel like they’re treating this like an extra arc, though it’s all non-canon.
All in all, this is another arc that I could easily see being pretty good as the main arc for the series.
But it’s not, so—
At this point, I was going to make another joke about dumping a previous non-canon arc and moving onto the next one, like I did in Kazuha’s arc….but I can’t.
I thought I’d still get to enjoy a reprieve for the next few episodes considering we still have three episodes (Foundation episode and Nao’s arc) before we get into Sora’s inevitably painful arc, even though the two arcs are somewhat intertwined. I didn’t know anything about Nao’s arc since it was in an entirely different branch from Kazuha and Akira’s section, so I did a little snooping on Wiki, flipped through episode seven real quick and uhm, let’s just say my days of relaxing during this series are over.
I won’t spoil anything, but let’s just say the next arc involves rape…..rape of a minor……perpetrated by a minor….*sigh*
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Badge Episode Attempt 1: Cinnabar Island – Volcano Badge
Gym Leader:Blaine – A very eccentric man who likes to speak in riddles, Blaine is a very serious Fire Pokemon Trainer who detests that Cinnabar Island has become littered in tourists with real Pokemon Trainers becoming rarer every year.
Reappears?: After the next episode, which is a continuation of this one, no. 😦
Pokemon: Blaine likely has many more Fire Pokemon, but he’s shown to have a Ninetales, Rhydon and his signature Pokemon, Magmar.
Ash has a failed Gym match attempt and does not get the Volcano badge. (Technically, this episode leaves the match in a cliffhanger, but he loses at the beginning of the next episode, so I’m counting it here.)
Plot: Ash FINALLY arrives in Cinnabar Island to get his seventh badge – the Volcano Badge. As he journeys by boat to the island, he bumps into Gary who is having a nice time on vacation since he’s got plenty of badges to enter the Pokemon League now. Ash butts heads with him, but Gary pays him no mind. He even mocks Ash because he believes everyone on the boat is a Pokemon Trainer.
Gary reveals that everyone traveling to the island, but himself, Ash, Misty and Brock, of course, are tourists. Cinnabar Island is merely a resort and there hasn’t been an active Gym on the island since his grandfather was young.
When they come ashore, the group discovers that Cinnabar Island does seem like a tourist trap and they can’t find a Gym anywhere. When Brock wonders why, of all the islands in the area, this one is so special, a strange man pops up to answer their question through riddle – What do tourists think is hot and cool?
While Ash answers incorrectly, Misty correctly deduces that the answer is a hot spring. The man explains that, due to the active volcano on Cinnabar, there are many hot springs around, and tourists love to visit the island to enjoy the relaxation of the springs. Over the years, the place has been decimated by vacationers enjoying the hot springs. Pokemon Trainers simply don’t come around anymore.
They ask if he knows anything about the Cinnabar Island Gym and the Gym Leader, Blaine. He gives his answer is another riddle – The Gym is right where you put your glasses.
Again, Misty correctly guesses – right in front of your eyes. And the Gym IS right in front of their eyes….in a big pile of rubble.
The man explains that Blaine abandoned the Gym when tourists started flooding the area. He was sick of battling tourists who weren’t serious Pokemon Trainers, so he left the Gym to rot, much to Ash’s dismay and anger. The man leaves him with his card, which reveals that he owns a big hotel called the Big Riddle Inn.
They try to go to their other destination, which was a prestigious Pokemon research laboratory, but find that it’s also a bunch of tourist attractions.
Resigned, the group tries to find a place to stay, but everywhere, including the Pokemon Center, is filled with people. Ash can’t help himself but try to sneak into a hotel room where they’re having a banquet, and it just so happens to be Gary’s room. He ribs him for a while, even offering to give Ash some leftovers if he makes a fool of himself for Gary’s entertainment, but Ash refuses.
Suddenly, Jigglypuff shows up, prompting Ash and the others to bolt out of there before it starts singing. Gary and his cheerleaders, however, unwittingly fall into the deep slumber caused by Jigglypuff’s song…and the facial drawings that come with it.
The kids suddenly remember that the man from before gave them a card for the Inn, but the directions are another riddle – If you look near the swings, you’ll see my hands or at least my face.
They spot some swings and Misty figures out the rest when she sees a clock since a clock has hands and a face. The clock is atop the Big Riddle Inn.
The man congratulates them on figuring out the riddle and offers them free room and board as a prize.
That night, Team Rocket attacks the island’s Pokemon research laboratory, nabbing up all of the Pokemon inside. The man is contacted about this attack, sending him and Ash, Misty and Brock to investigate.
When they arrive, Ash uses Pikachu and Pidgeotto to save the Pokemon and blast Team Rocket off.
Impressed by his skills, the man offers Ash some information. He happens to know that Blaine has a secret Gym set up somewhere on the island, but he will only give a riddle as a clue to its location – it’s in a place where firefighters could never win.
Back at the inn, Ash, Misty and Brock relax in the hot springs to try and figure out the riddle. Togepi hops on one of the stone Gyarados statues feeding water into the spring, which suddenly opened the door to a secret passage. The passageway lead to Blaine’s secret Gym deep in the heart of a volcano – the arena is even suspended over a lava pit.
The man is waiting on the other side of the arena, offering Ash another riddle – It’s not a hat, but it keeps your head dry. If you wear it, it’s only because you already lost it.
Misty, again, correctly deduces the answer – a wig. The man has been wearing a disguise this whole time. He’s actually Blaine, the Cinnabar Island Gym Leader!
Blaine challenges whomever wishes to battle him, in this case Ash, and starts the match with a Ninetales. Feeling cocky with a type advantage, Ash chooses Squirtle, but he soon realizes that type only accounts for so much. Blaine commands Ninetales to use Fire Spin, and it makes quick work of poor Squirtle.
Blaine chastises Ash for thinking purely about type in his battles, so Ash decides to fight fire with fire, literally, and sends out Charizard. However, predictably, Charizard refuses to battle and goes off to nap instead. Having left the arena, Blaine gets his second victory.
Ash sends out his last hope, Pikachu, to battle Rhydon. He does a good job evading Rhydon’s attacks, but finds that his Electric attacks do nothing against the Ground Type. Using its horn as a lightning rod, Pikachu manages to knock Rhydon out with a Thunderbolt.
Realizing the heat has been turned up in this battle, Blaine uses his most power Fire Pokemon – out from the depths of the lava comes Magmar, a Pokemon who might as well be the living embodiment of magma.
Pikachu gets slightly burned from one of Magmar’s Fire Punches, but gets up to try a Thunderbolt. Ash and Pikachu are shocked to find that Pikachu’s electricity will not work against Magmar. The air around it is so hot that it is able to create an air lens that refracts the electricity.
Stuck between the edge of the arena with a pool full of lava at his feet and the fierce Magmar before him, Pikachu faces Magmar’s most powerful move – Fire Blast. With nowhere to go, will Pikachu be fried or will he find some way to beat the heat?
– Gary doesn’t mention how many badges he has right now, but considering he later has ten, I’ll say he has between eight and ten if he feels he can take a vacation before the Indigo League Conference – and he definitely has more than Ash right now. Also, this basically confirms that Gary definitely didn’t get a Volcano Badge yet, even if one of the badges in his case later on looks VERY similar to it (It just looks longer for some reason. I believe it is the right badge.) If he only has eight or nine as of now, I suppose it’s possible that, after Ash discovered the Gym, that Gary found out about the real Gym, went to Blaine and got one himself after Ash left just so Ash wouldn’t best him anywhere.
– I find it somewhat odd that Gary wasn’t able to determine that there actually was a Gym on Cinnabar. Ash found out and Gary’s much smarter than he is. Gary should have checked to see if the badge or Gym was still valid under the Pokemon League’s certification. If it was, then there has to be a Gym or at least some place to obtain the badge. Unless Gary’s so full of himself and has such a lack of caring about badges at this point, considering he later has so many, that he just didn’t bother really looking into it and just accepted the vacation opportunity.
– Ash: “A real Trainer never takes a break!” Excuse me, need to laugh raucously for a minute.
Ash, your life IS taking a break from training. I can probably count the amount of times you have actually trained so far on one hand. MAYBE two, if I’m generous. And lest we forget Charizard who has been wading in the lack of training pool for quite some time now.
– The Pokemon League doesn’t have any problem with Blaine having such inactivity in his Gym that nearly everyone thinks it simply doesn’t exist anymore?
– I’m just imagining how pissed I’d be if the Cinnabar Island Gym really didn’t exist and we’d have to spend god knows how long getting to one of Gary’s non-canon Gyms where he got one of the six mystery badges (if that other one is a Volcano Badge) And, remember, it’s confirmed that Gary never got an Earth Badge either – he lost his match there and the Gym shut down before he could get a rematch.
– Oh hey, Jigglypuff. Come back to remind me that you exist again, eh?
– I find it weird that they seem very willing to accept that ALL of Cinnabar is nothing but a big tourist trap just because they see a lot of festivities and stuff right off of the boat. Of course they’d put that stuff right by the harbor and get as many people hooked in as quickly as possible. At least have a look around before you start giving up. Places like Celadon City and Saffron City have much more than just their Gyms right out the gate, and you kinda have to walk around a while before you find the Gyms.
– I’m really not gonna rag on Ash’s silly riddle solution. It may be silly, but sometimes people just throw out weird ideas when they’re trying to figure out riddles.
– Misty: “I heard that the Gym Leader was someone called Blaine.” It really bothers me that it’s never made clear whether or not Gym Leaders know each other in the anime. You’d think at least the ones in the same region would have met a few times before. Also, who did you hear this info from if everyone believes Cinnabar Island is a Gym-less tourist trap and has been for decades?
– The man laments that more and more tourists come to the island and hardly any Trainers come anymore, but how do you expect Trainers to come if you have at least had the rumor going around for decades that the island’s Gym doesn’t exist anymore?
– Doesn’t help the tourist or Trainer situation if, when led to the Gym, they basically get confirmation that it doesn’t have one by showing them a collapsed building and explaining that Blaine essentially quit.
– Misty: “An inn? How can you run a hotel and then blame tourists for ruining the island?” Uh, it’s called making a living, Misty. If your island has nothing but tourists and you still want to live on the island, sucking up a bit of pride and taking advantage of the deep pockets of vacationers is the best course of action. Plus, him running an inn doesn’t mean the tourists still didn’t ruin the island. They come for the hot springs, which are natural. Everything else is just taking advantage of the tourists.
– Without actually going INTO the Pokemon research lab, the kids determine that it’s just another tourist trap because of all the stands outside of it. They really aren’t good at actually looking into things, are they?
– I guess it’s nice that they do let everyone in, but it’s really weird that the Pokemon Center is full up for the night with people who don’t have Pokemon. Also, if this place is purely for tourists, why are so many of them so ill-prepared that they didn’t book a hotel?
– Come to think of it, if no Pokemon Trainers ever come to Cinnabar anymore, why is there even a Pokemon Center there? Just for the research lab and wild Pokemon?
– I would say Gary heard Misty and Brock yelling or Ash talking, but they clearly imply that Gary somehow heard Ash’s stomach growling from outside, which is what caused him to go to the porch. I sincerely doubt that is louder than either of the aforementioned noises.
– I feel very uncomfortable asking this, but here goes: Are Gary’s cheerleaders……sleeping in the same room as him? Their situation is creepy enough without this, thank you.
– Ash: “I’d die of hunger first!” 4KIDS! The D word! Have you no shame?
– Gary’s, again, being unreasonably dumb to not think twice when seeing that a Jigglypuff is about to sing to them….
– Jigglypuff is really out of sync with the music. This isn’t just an audio syncing issue, it happens very frequently when Jigglypuff sings. It’s like the voice track for Jigglypuff is sped up for some reason or Rachel Lillis doesn’t have the audio track playing when singing.
– Brock: “Ash, what about that card that old guy gave you?” I love how they try literally every. single. other hotel on the island before they remember that they had a card for an inn on them.
Ash: *pulls out card* “Hmm…must be directions to his hotel.” No. It must be little illegible squiggles.
Also, it seems like a bad business practice to have a riddle be the directions to your hotel. It’s even worse that it’s a terrible riddle. Either Blaine had to make sure his inn could be seen from every swing on the island or guests have to stumble upon the exact swing set that Blaine is referring to in the riddle.
– The prize for figuring out his riddle is free room and board? That’s a REALLY bad business practice….
– Ash: “Your riddles may be dumb, but your prizes are terrific!” Your riddles are dumb, says the boy who thought the answer to his first riddle was wrapping yourself in an electric blanket while laying in front of an open refrigerator.
I know I said I wouldn’t rag on Ash much for making silly guesses, but he’s open to ridicule when he starts putting down others.
– I love this exchange.
Blaine: “Well………guess you want dinner too.”
It’s the timing and delivery – it’s golden.
– See? The research laboratory isn’t just a tourist trap. The power of actually seeing what’s in a building to know…what’s in the building.
– I love that they contact Blaine when the research lab is attacked. Not only does this give them a realistic excuse to have Ash and the others go to the research lab to help, but it also hints at Blaine’s real identity.
– I would get excited over Pidgeotto being let out, but it’s literally just a vehicle for Pikachu to get close enough to attack the balloon.
– Why is Team Rocket so shocked (oh god, the puns are infecting me) that Ash and Pikachu are on the scene. The only reason they’re on Cinnabar is because Ash and co. are.
– Nice that Ash had no plan to actually catch the Pokemon – instead he let them all fall to the ground and break their necks.
– Blaine only gives Trainers a hint to the location of his actual secret Gym once they prove themselves to him in some way. So Trainers not only have to ignore rumors that the Gym doesn’t exist and come to Cinnabar anyway, ignore that the original Gym is a pile of rubble and meet Blaine while he’s in disguise so they can get on the trail of the real Gym, not even realizing there even is a real Gym, but they also have to have the opportunity to prove themselves to him somehow and solve his riddles that lead to the real gym before they can find the real Gym and challenge him.
Not that it would help if they figured it out anyway. The answer is simply ‘a volcano.’ How the hell were they supposed to find the Gym in a volcano unless they stumbled upon the secret entrance to the place – which they did.
Blaine, I love you, buddy, but this is a lot of convoluted and, quite frankly, unfair bullshit just to try and avoid tourists challenging you – especially considering this requires you to be in disguise 24/7. You could literally clear this up with a pre-requisite test or something before you’re allowed admittance into the Gym. “Are you a tourist?” “Do you have at least a few other Pokemon League Badges?” “How many Pokemon do you own?” Stuff like that.
– Always kinda bugged me that Ash and the others never really figured out Blaine’s riddle until the answer was literally in their faces. Togepi just activated his plot convenience powers and found the switch that opened the door to the place.
– It’s kinda funny how Misty freaks out when Ash and Brock see her in a towel. She’s technically at least as covered up as she usually is in her street clothes.
– Why would Blaine have it set up so that opening the door destroys the hot spring divider?
– Was Blaine alerted to the fact that the door to the secret entrance had been opened or was he just waiting down there for Ash and the others to randomly stumble upon the switch?
– Forget Blaine’s really odd practices as a Gym Leader – how does the Pokemon League not have safety rules against this place? Holding a battle over a LAVA PIT is insane! The arena doesn’t even have any safety rails or anything. It would just take one false move and Pokemon or people could die in there easily.
The walkways to the arena aren’t even walkways, they’re narrow pillars you have to balance on one at a time. In fact, given the heat, you wouldn’t even need to die from falling in the pit, you could just die from heat stroke.
The fact that any unlucky person who happens to lean on a Gyarados statue in his hot spring could get to this death trap without issue is even more alarming. Sure, there’s a red-hot secondary door, but if you manage to open that, you might be as good as dead.
– Ninetales! Whoo!
– Either Dexter didn’t have much useful information to share on Ninetales, which I find hard to believe, or Ash cut Dexter off before it said anything other than its type and what it evolved from.
– Brock: “Fire Spin is Ninetales’ most powerful attack!” No, no it’s not. Even with DOT, it’s not as powerful as Flamethrower. Fire Spin has 15 power and can last for up to five turns. Flamethrower has 95 power. Even though it can’t learn it with a TM, in Gen I anyway, there’s also Fire Blast with 120 power.
– That Ninetales’ Fire Spin is much less the massive fire tornado that Brock’s Vulpix makes. Its eyes didn’t glow or anything. It’s almost like the move was ridiculously overblown in that episode.
– Look….I get that Ash, again, doesn’t have many options, even though this would be a GREAT time to have gotten out Krabby or Muk or even one of his Tauros, but using Charizard just seems misguided. I know that Charizard is his powerhouse, but he’s banking on having a stronger Fire Pokemon than this Fire Pokemon Gym Leader….This Fire Pokemon Gym Leader who loves fire so much he put his Gym OVER A LAVA PIT DEEP INSIDE A VOLCANO.
– What else did I have to say about this?
…..Uhmmm…..Oh, oh yeah, yeah, CHARIZARD STILL ISN’T TRAINED, YOU IGNORAMUS!
– I get that a Rhydon would be able to withstand the intense temperatures of the lava pit Gym, but Blaine, you’re a Fire Pokemon Gym Leader who put his Gym OVER A LAVA PIT. Why are you using a Rock/Ground type? I guess it could just be because Ash sent out Charizard, but come on – you can’t take a Fire v. Fire match? Especially after you literally just said matches aren’t purely about type?
You can’t even justify this by saying this is something they took from the games, because he never has a Rhydon in the games. He has a Golem in the manga, but that’s about as close as you get. As a Fire fan, I am disappointed.
And I’ll be even more disappointed in a few minutes…..
– Oh look, Charizard refuses to battle and goes off to nap.
Imagine the look of pure shock on my face.
– Ash: “Awh, gimme a break, Charizard!” You don’t deserve one!
– I know what happens, I do. People who have never seen Pokemon know what happens next. But Ash is a full-blown airheaded shit-for-brains idiot for sending out a PIKACHU against a Rhydon. We’ve already been over the type debate, but there’s a difference between using a Pokemon who does or does not have the advantage and using a Pokemon whose attacks DO NOT AFFECT your opponent. Even physical moves would do little to nothing.
Pidgeotto’s also not a good choice, but if Bulbasaur could survive in the hot arena, he’d be a decent selection. However, the lack of sunlight would mean no Solar Beam. Ash, your roster blows. Please do better.
– I’m going to ding Ash for this just because he needs extra punishment for the stupidity that will happen in a minute – Ash should know Rhyhorn is Ground type, which means he must know RhyDON is Ground type too. Yet he still launches an Electric attack.
– Ya know, I’m not even going to bother analyzing the scene. It’s been done to death. So, I’ll just go ahead and say it.
(Aim for)….The horn.
Gonna give you a minute to soak that in, maybe find some appropriate memes to enjoy. I’ll just take a sec to curl up into a ball and weep.
– Blaine: “This Pokemon is too hot to handle. And it has a power that should interest you, because it turns all of its opponents into ash.”
Ash: “No fair, it’s too hot to solve riddles!” That was in no way a riddle. He’s just saying he has a super powerful Fire Pokemon.
– It’s pretty badass that Magmar lives in the lava pit.
Likewise, its reveal is sick.
– I never liked Magmar as a kid, but now I love it quite a bit.
– This battle has always been one of my favorites because it’s so intense. Pikachu gets burned and the cliffhanger has him between Magmar and nearly falling into the lava pit.
– Brock explains that Magmar is immune to Electric attacks because it’s so superheated that it creates an air lens around it that refracts electricity. This, as far as I can see, is completely false.
I wanted to go in depth about the air lens itself, really I did, but my research on air lenses is pathetically sparse. I just can’t find much on anything that doesn’t correlate to cameras. The best I got was a Wiki page which mentioned them in passing when talking about explosive lenses, and that wasn’t very applicable to what was happening here.
So enough about air lenses, I don’t even know how 4Kids knew that term (Dogasu’s comparison doesn’t even mention that this is a change, so maybe the original writers are to blame for this?) what of heat’s affect on electricity?
As far as I can tell, nothing. Remember, lightning itself is INSANELY hot. It causes fires all the time, but it’s much hotter than you might think. In fact, according to National Geographic, a flash of lightning can heat the air around the bolt to temperatures up to five times hotter than the surface of the sun.
Lava, at best, reaches a little over 2,200 degrees F, while the sun can reach 10,000 degrees F (Source). So, obviously, being five times hotter than that makes lava look like an ice cream sundae. By all means, making the air around Magmar even hotter than lava levels would have no effect at all on Pikachu’s electricity.
In conclusion, I have no clue what they were thinking.
I actually find it funny that they did this, because that means they did BS science to Rhydon to make it vulnerable to electricity and then did BS science to Magmar to make it immune to electricity.
– So….Is Blaine trying to straight up murder Pikachu? It’s at the very edge of the arena and it’s commanding Magmar to use FIRE BLAST of all things, which, considering it’s cornered, would surely mean its demise.
– And Ash refuses to stop the battle. Best Trainer ever.
– I always thought Fire Blast was trying to take the shape of a stick figure. It wasn’t until I was much older that I found out that it’s actually the kanji for “large” or “great.”
Cinnabar Island, Blaine and Fire Types are some of my favorites in Pokemon (Really bummed that Cinnabar Island was basically completely decimated beyond Gen I), and I do love this match even with the bullshittery that goes on. Having Squirtle be instantly KO’d out the gate was a massive blow that I didn’t expect, but it doesn’t get really awesome until it’s just Pikachu v. Magmar. It’s intense and ends on one of the best cliffhangers of the series. Of course we know little Messiahchu won’t die or anything, but it did get actually wounded, and that kinda surprised me as a kid. Still does, to be honest.
I also enjoyed Gary and his dickishness, even if he was a tad badly written this time around. He’s earned a vacation, I suppose, but he had one too many moments where he was too stupid to the point where it was almost OOC. He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of Pokemon and the league, but he seemingly doesn’t do any actual serious research into whether or not the Cinnabar Gym exists?
I guess if Blaine’s so ridiculously overly secret about the Gym that it might be beyond researching, but I still found it odd for him.
I like Blaine when he’s this weird riddle hippy dude. He’s pretty amusing. I find his methods of getting ‘real’ Trainers to his real Gym and masking the fact that his Gym still exists to be massively overcomplicated and dumb, and I find the Gym itself to be dumb just based on the safety hazard aspect (though I find it really cool as a concept.) but at least it adds some flavor to the story, I suppose.
Oddly, one thing I really remember a lot about this arc it’s an audio flub that happens in the recap in the next episode. It’s almost laughably bad, and it was seemingly done on purpose for whatever reason.
As for the rematch, I actually didn’t like it as much as this match, but we’ll tackle that when we get to it.
Next episode, spoiler alert – Ash loses his bout with Blaine and has to figure out a way to beat him to earn his Volcano Badge.
Plot: Ikki and Erika head to a fancy school for rich kids in order to find the mysterious undefeated Legendary Medafighter.
Neutranurse: A NAS Medabot, Neutranurse is based on a nurse. It has massive healing capabilities and a Holy Wall ability that creates an impenetrable shield for a short while.
Sumilidon: An STG Medabot, Sumilidon is based on a saber-toothed tiger. Its right arm holds the flexor sword, which is a series of three long claws extending from its wrist. It can utilize this part to also create an attack called the Shadow Sword. Its left arm has a Straw Hammer attack. Finally, its head part creates traps.
Gloomeg: A GLM Medabot, Gloomeg is based on a stone statue and specializes in missiles.
Koji vs. Eddie:Winner – Koji: No parts are exchanged due to refusal.
Ikki vs. Koji: Interrupted – no winner.
Breakdown: Ikki is on his way to school when he’s suddenly ‘saved’ from an oncoming slow-moving tiny car by a girl named Karin. She goes to Rosewood Academy, a nearby private school for super rich kids. Ikki is initially annoyed by her, but when he gets up close to her, he finds himself smitten. However, she runs off before he can talk to her more.
Two things about this – One, why is that little car allowed on public roads? And two, does this show have cartoon physics or not? Because Ikki was just slammed so hard into that wall that he left a massive crater.
Back at school, Erika is telling the tale of the Legendary Medafighter and his undefeated Medabot. She also, for some reason, has red marks under her eyes. Given the scary story motif, I think they were gunning for shadows, but they’re clearly red. It looks like she’s either blushing too hard or got very specifically placed sunburns.
Not much is known of this Legendary Medafighter except he supposedly goes to Rosewood Academy. Since Metabee is itching to fight the Legendary Medafighter and Ikki wants to see Karin again, he asks if he can go with Erika while she investigates the place for an expose.
Is Ikki now allowed to bring Metabee to school? Because he’s clearly right there in the open talking to other students. Last episode seemed to imply that Coach Mountain was still being super strict about not allowing Medabots on school grounds.
They arrive at Rosewood, where the gates to the school are massive and made of 24k gold. I get that this place is meant for the super rich, but you don’t have to be super gaudy too.
They see a kid being thrown out of the school for not being rich enough to attend, so they decide to disguise themselves as students to get in.
Oh excuse me, did I say they disguise themselves as students? I meant they dress up Metabee like an idiot and pretend he’s a student while Ikki and Erika try to walk in dressed in their street clothes with only a Rosewood backpack to indicate they’re students.
Where did they get this stuff? Is there a gift shop outside?
Believe it or not THAT. WORKS.
The guy only asks where Ikki and Erika’s uniforms are and they say they spilled caviar on them and the butler had to clean them for later.
Is school even in session right now? Because if it is, Ikki and Erika (as well as the Screws, because they’re following them) are skipping school.
The same trick doesn’t work for the Screws, who didn’t even get Rosewood backpacks (again, where did they get those?) but they do make the scene kinda funny by claiming they spilled caviar on their butler.
Back with Ikki and Erika, who have somehow switched out their backpacks for plain ones (Did they just get stickers or something? I am way too confused about the origins of this Rosewood stuff.)
So the school is actually way the hell away from the main gate. It’s through a dense forest, over numerous mountains and after that there’s a lake and the school is on an island in the middle of that lake.
Obviously, it’s an insanely long walk for the kids to get to the school and they ask themselves how these hoity-toity rich kids get to school everyday since they can’t imagine they’d walk. A helicopter shows up, which you’d think would be the answer, but a person on a loudspeaker tells them to land because commuting by helicopter is against school rules.
It’s later revealed that they do drive and take horses and stuff to and from school, but then why have they not come across any when they’ve been following the road?
Then…..*sigh* Then they meet Eddie and his Gloomeg Medabot. He and Gloomeg have been trapped on Rosewood’s lands for two years, trying to find the Legendary Medafighter.
That is as dumb as it sounds.
How has this guy been lost in Rosewood’s property for two years and not ever have anyone find him? Especially when the property is covered in stuff like a golf course, tennis courts and a friggin’ amusement park? How do they not have cameras set up everywhere? Especially considering, as we learn upon meeting Eddie, that Rosewood’s property is littered in traps to keep intruders out. Do they not regularly check these traps? Because Eddie admits that he keeps getting caught in them. Did the girl from that Pokemon sanctuary Bulbasaur came from grow up to build these traps so she could continue her string of negligent homicide?
Not just that, but his parents have to be worried sick. Do Medabots not have some sort of tracking device or interface for communication?
A horsedrawn carriage arrives on scene because Ikki and Eddie are making a ruckus because Eddie thinks Ikki’s the Legendary Medafighter and wants to fight him. If that’s all it takes to get someone’s attention, there’s even less reason that Eddie is still lost in here. Unless he’s such a stubborn idiot that he’s never looked for a way out, in which case, I’ll just stop watching the episode altogether because he is far too stupid of a human being to waste any of my brain cells caring about what he does in this episode.
In the carriage is Koji and his terrible voice acting. Koji snootily tries to make the boys stop fighting, but Eddie, somehow knowing Koji is a Medafighter, challenges him to a match.
Koji accepts and summons Sumilidon. The match is pretty quick as Sumilidon’s speed and agility allow it to easily dodge Gloomeg’s missiles and get several strikes in. Koji is the winner, but he doesn’t take any parts since he has too many as it is. With a literal twinkle of his not-drawn teeth, Koji leaves. Eddie follows because he wants a rematch, and Erika and Ikki try to follow too, but Karin pushes them out of the way and into a hole.
Erika’s pissed, but she soon realizes why she pushed them.
The ELEMENTARY school grounds aren’t just littered in net traps – they’re also covered in spear gun traps and bear traps.
How is Eddie still alive with all of his limbs after spending two years wandering around this death trap? How is this place even still open? Jesus.
Karin: “You’re that boy from yesterday.” Yesterday?….Wasn’t it just this morning? I didn’t see any noticeable passage of time.
Ikki’s name is really a problem when he introduces himself. “I’m icky.”…It’s supposed to be pronounced ‘Eek-ee’ I can understand the former is just a more common English way to say that word, but either pronounce it correctly to stop calling the poor kid ‘icky’ or, and I don’t like suggesting this, just change his name for the dub.
Also, how did Karin get here? At least they show Koji having a horse and buggy. Karin just came out of nowhere in the middle of this mess of land.
Karin leads them to some boats to access the island that the school is on. I refuse to believe that these rich kids only get to the school via row and paddle swan boats. There has to be some motorboats or yachts around here.
Ikki and Karin are in a row boat while Erika and Metabee are in a paddle swan boat. Karin suddenly looks at the water, making the boat creek a little, causing Ikki to rush her, thinking she’s going to fall out. He overshoots, however, and ends up in the water. Turns out, nothing was wrong….
Ikki: “Karin, what was that all about?”
Karin: “I thought I saw a penny at the bottom of the lake. *sigh* A penny. Boy, I could sure use that.”
I don’t have the patience for this right now, so here’s a ranting lightning round.
– The lake is way too deep and you’re all out way too far for you to see anything at the bottom.
– Let alone a penny.
– Ikki looks at her with a -_- face like she did something wrong, but he overreacted over her just looking to the side of the boat. Her reasons were stupid, sure, but she didn’t gasp or freak out or anything.
– No one, not even the dirt poorest person in the world could ‘sure use a penny.’
– Because pennies are useless.
– They never explain why she wanted this penny. No reason would be satisfying, most likely, but still, why did she want a penny?
– You have to be one of the richest people in the country to even go to this ridiculous school – why the fridge do you need a penny?
– Even if you did somehow see a penny, then what? You call a scuba team and pay them a few thousand dollars to retrieve it, never getting the bitter irony of the situation?
They reach the castle of a school and Erika starts interviewing the students for info on the Legendary Medafighter. As expected, they all just know stuff based on rumors. It starts out normal enough, with some of them arguing over which Medabot he uses. Then it gets weirder with people exclaiming he’s over eight feet tall. Then it’s gets stupid with people saying he’s not eight feet tall – he actually has eight feet growing out of his head, which goes even further and stupider by other kids saying they’re all left feet and he has to buy 16 pairs of shoes when he goes shopping (is it even necessary to buy shoes for feet that are on your head? Also, they’re forgetting his regular feet – so 17 pairs of shoes…)
Ikki notices Karin mopping. She’s made fun of a little by some snotty girls who really only make fun of her by pointing out what she’s doing in one of those snotty bitch voices.
Bitch: “Don’t forget the toilet. I clogged it.” Yes….you’re so intimidating by admitting that you dropped such a massive load that you clogged the toilet. What an effective bully you are.
Ikki asks her why she’s cleaning, and she happily explains that it’s just something she does. Ikki instantly believes she’s super poor. She can’t afford the tuition, which is why she cleans the school and was trying to get the penny out from the lake.
Let me spoil this for you right now. She’s not poor. She’s just a ridiculously overly kind airhead.
Ikki is an idiot for even thinking this for a second. Why would any dirt poor kid go to one of the most expensive schools in existence? Unless they got a free ride for some reason (And I doubt that here because this is just an elementary school), that’s a horribly irresponsible thing to do. Not to mention impossible. If these middle class kids can’t even fathom being able to afford this school, no poor person, no matter how many pennies they pluck out of lakes, would ever be able to.
And I must reiterate, even poor people wouldn’t really care about a single penny no matter how hard up they are for cash.
Through some more of some of the most painfully bad voice acting I’ve ever heard (please stop it) some boys ‘coerce’ her into giving them her lunch and dessert, which she happily gives away for also no real reason.
Erika shows up claiming that the latest batch of rumors state that the Legendary Medafighter is connected with a ‘maiden’ who is super sweet and has her hair up in pigtails.
They get frustrated because apparently that description could apply to thousands of girls in the school, but I only saw one other girl so far who had pigtails.
Eddie, who is in the vicinity, happens to overhear this and, having a working brain, does instantly connect the dots that it’s Karin.
After a very awkward moment, complete with awkward silence, happens between Karin and Ikki, she picks up a rose and pricks herself on the thorns that the art department couldn’t be bothered to draw.
Ikki does the laziest job tying the handkerchief Karin gave him earlier onto her supposedly injured hand. Look at how loosely that’s tied. That’s not helping anything. Also, she just poked her finger, she doesn’t need a whole-hand tourniquet.
Ikki: “Wow, she’s SO pretty.” Deep into the mind of a young boy this piece of wisdom comes.
Koji shows up, wanting to protect Karin from Ikki.
Erika: “Hey look, it’s that rich guy!” Literally every person in this school is rich….
Koji goes on a tangent about knowing Karin since he was in kindergarten and how he won’t let Ikki put his filthy hands on her.
Oh excuse me, I meant to say…
Koji: “I’ve had my eye on Karin since kindergarten. I’m the one who had to grow up with her through those awkward years. You think you can walk in here and lay your unmanicured hands on her?! Think again, groundling!”
So, treating Karin like property, like you had dibs on her, like you’re entitled to her because you ‘had’ to grow up with her, acting like her ‘awkward years’ were a particular burden on you, acting like a condescending twat to a guy based on your financial standing merely because he was trying to help your precious Karin not bleed – Full fledged asshole. Got it.
Mr. Referee comes out dressed in a suit of armor…for…some reason, and Ikki and Koji have a robattle.
Sumilidon is too quick for Metabee and slashes him in the back.
Ikki: “MeTAbee!” I know I can’t convey in text how awkwardly lines are delivered, but he emphasizes the ‘ta’ way too sharply here.
Ikki says Koji is really advanced and that he’s never battled anyone like him just because he thought to attack from behind….how novel.
After some grappling and quick shots, Koji becomes equally impressed by Ikki, stating no one’s ever lasted this long against him, especially with an outdated Medabot.
Suddenly, Karin is kidnapped by Eddie who is using her as bait to lure out the Legendary Medafighter. He doesn’t really intend on hurting her, he’s just desperate to fight the Legendary Medafighter or else he’ll have to admit the last two years of his life have been a waste.
Koji and Ikki, again, both deny that they’re the Legendary Medafighter (And if it was Koji, he’s already lost to him once, sooo…) However, once he starts yelling out his demands over a bullhorn, literally every (poorly drawn) guy in the school comes to Karin’s aid.
They all summon their Medabots and kick Eddie’s ass. Karin comes in to defend Eddie, somehow untying herself I think? She summons her Medabot, Neutranurse, to the scene to heal the damaged Gloomeg, which never made an ounce of sense to me. These are robots with dents and scratches and broken parts. You shouldn’t be able to heal physical damage with some magical light.
What makes even less sense is that it seemingly also heals Eddie of his wounds! What the hell!?
Ikki’s shocked that she’s a Medafighter, which at least makes a little sense because she didn’t have her watch on, but that just makes me question why she didn’t have her watch on this whole time. Koji exclaims that no one can defeat Karin, and her Wiki backs this up. She’s undefeated because, no lie, she’s so sweet and kind that no one has the heart to attack her, which just makes me physically ill. I don’t remember hating Karin in the past, but I think it’s inevitable.
Erika deduces that Karin is actually the Legendary Medafighter, and, yeah, she’s right. I have no clue how this rumor got started, though. Was someone just so ashamed of ‘losing’ to Karin that they came up with some silly story of a mysterious powerful guy?
As Ikki, Erika and Metabee leave, they’re stopped by Karin’s massively long pink, because of course it’s pink, limo, (She was with Ikki and Erika on the regular grounds before but there was no limo – why didn’t she have it then?), and offers them a ride.
Karin: “There’s plenty of room as long as you don’t mind sitting in the Jacuzzi.” That limo is ridiculously long even for a limo. No one else is in the limo. There’s no way there aren’t more actual seats in there – you just wanted to mention that you have a Jacuzzi in your limo.
Ikki: “Karin, you’re rich!?” Oh for god’s sake, Ikki…Even if you held that stupid belief for that long, surely realizing that she owns a Medabot should be enough to prove she’s not poor. Even you couldn’t afford your own Medabot, Ikki.
Koji: “Come on, Karin. Let the commoners walk. They like the exercise.” He legit called them commoners….Ya know what’s even worse, though?
Karin: “Oh really? I’m sorry, I didn’t meant to interrupt.” She. Believes. Him. Are ‘commoners’ so foreign to you that you can’t even work your brain past a statement like that?
Also, you know what I hate? Super kind cutesy characters who don’t point out when other characters are insulting each other because apparently they’re so kind that they’re also oblivious. From Koji calling Ikki a groundling to a commoner, Karin doesn’t ding Koji for it or defend Ikki – she just goes about her day with that big ol’ smile.
Anyway, all of them have to walk the rest of the way because Koji’s an ass and Karin’s an idiot. Meanwhile, the Screws are damned to walking the grounds of the school for all eternity.
I really want to reach a point where I can end a Medabots review without feeling the need to say ‘This episode is bad.’ At a certain point, it just makes me feel like I’m being a jerk, but…yeah, this episode is bad.
The concept of a mysterious undefeated Medafighter is alright, and so is the episode baseline of trying to find him, but every step along the way was really infuriating.
The school was way too over the top to the point where it didn’t even make logical sense for rich kids (Even traveling by carriage or car, there are mountains to traverse on their property to get to the lake’s edge, and you still need to seemingly take a row or paddle boat to get to the actual school. It would take way too long to get to school. You’d have to wake up at 4AM to be there on time. And let’s not even talk about the lethal traps they lay everywhere.)
Eddie’s story was terrible. He really couldn’t reach the school in over two years? Why didn’t he just follow the road? How is he not dead with all of those traps around? How did no one on security detail ever find him? In addition, it’s pretty sad (read: pathetic) that his two year trek to find and challenge the Legendary Medafighter amounted to him finding a girl who is literally unbeatable because, gosh darn it, she’s just so swell.
I am really interested to see a scene with him reuniting with his parents. They’ll be bawling and hugging him and then they finally ask the million dollar question – where have you been? And then he’ll explain he was stupidly chasing after a Legendary Medafighter in the woods of some snob school for two years, wouldn’t find his way back home….and then they put him up for adoption.
Seriously, imagine being that kid’s parents while hearing that explanation and try not to see a white flash of rage.
Then there’s Koji and Karin….ugh. Koji is a stuck up prick and Karin’s an overly saccharine perfect (to the point where her Medabot is basically a literal angel – look at that last screencap, come on) idiot who I can definitely see making my blood pressure go up in future episodes. It doesn’t help that she’s the typical oblivious center to a love triangle – IE two of the main characters constantly fighting over her.
Even the robattles in this episode weren’t that good. The first was completely one-sided and the second ended prematurely. I did like the sudden flood of Medabots in the end (Didn’t realize so many of them could fly/hover), but they were so briefly shown that I couldn’t really see them too well. Then there’s the logistics of how Neutranurse even works, and I don’t want to bother trying to do the mental gymnastics for that one.
Pile on all the other little nonsensical details I’ve listed here, and it’s just a largely unpleasant episode. I will say that they got me with the twist. I didn’t expect Karin to be the Legendary Medafighter, but that positive is put into question because the reasons behind her undefeated record are irritating.
Sumilidon is pretty cool, and that’s pretty much all I have left in the positives department.
Plot: Haruka develops a relationship with Kazuha while trying to help her with her relationship to Akira and her problems with her father.
Breakdown: I’m not going to lie, this arc really isn’t bad. It’s not great, but it’s okay.
Obviously, one of the worst offenses this series is making is trying to cram four visual novel routes in 13 episodes, minus three technically because those are meant to provide foundations for the actual routes, so ten episodes. Each route has two episodes to play with (except Sora, who gets three….) so, of course, that means every relationship develops at a breakneck speed.
That being said, the relationship between Haru and Kazuha is pretty good. He’s very supportive of her without being pushy. He helps her get through some major hurdles in her life and backs off when she clearly needs space. Likewise, while Kazuha does does try to keep Haru at arm’s length, she obviously can’t do it for very long and eventually gives in to her feelings.
She’s not overly preoccupied with Haru in this arc, either, as she spends a lot of time doting over Akira to the point where she even proclaims that all she wants to do is dedicate her life to Akira, making Akira question if she loves her romantically, so obligatory (incest again…) yuri kiss~~ She rejects Akira, though, even though it wasn’t really Akira hitting on her so much as pushing her to admit she loves Haru, which she wouldn’t do because she felt that would be betraying Akira….It makes more sense in context.
I do have to say for being the prim and proper ‘princess’ of the harem, she dives a bit too hard into the heavy physical stuff too quickly. Her first kiss with Haru is a full makeout session and the next time they show physical affection outside of hand holding, they’re having sex on her bed immediately after a festival. They get into the ‘I love yous’ really quickly too because it feels like Haru’s known Kazuha all of maybe a month.
Also, I think he’s too forward when he puts his hand on Kazuha’s (clothed) breast when they take pictures at the fair. I’m quite certain that’s literally their first date. It was also pretty random. Like, hey, funny pictures, whee, Immagropeyanow, say cheese! Edit: It was brought to my attention that Kazuha was probably touching her own chest here (feeling her heartbeat) and I agree. The art of the hand and the way they’re positioned gave off the suggestion that he was doing it. Sorry for the confusion.
At this point, at least by normal anime standards, they might be dating and holding hands regularly, possibly kissing on the regular, but not saying “I love you” and having sex.
As for the story itself, it’s also pretty good. I think Kazuha has way too much of a personal guilt complex, and it’s a bit unbelievable that Akira never told Kazuha that she was happy the way she was and that she actually had a much better relationship with her father than Kazuha knew about, but it’s not that bad.
In addition, they leave plenty of Akira’s story open, despite the two being so closely intertwined, so Akira’s arc will have plenty to go over.
Oh and in case you’re wondering about Sora’s role here, she mostly does what she’s been doing this whole time, which is standing around doing nothing and really only being a reaction shot. She has one kinda nice conversation with Akira about how Haru and Kazuha are similar in their desire to help other people before thinking of themselves. Thank god she’s actually conversing with other characters, and she….kinda….ish gives advice….ish…stuff to Haru about Kazuha? But not really. She mostly just points out that his gift of a birthday cake on Kazuha’s birthday is too predictable.
Also, we’re shown a shot where she’s fiddling with a cross necklace. I really hope they don’t slap us in the face with religion when we get to the incest. I got enough of that with Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru.
If this arc had more elbow room and incorporated Akira’s story into it without also including her romance arc and included more of their father, this arc would be perfectly fine as the main plot of the show.
…..But it’s not, so onto Akira’s arc!
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Plot: A saichania card is awoken in a museum in London and the Alpha Team and the D-Team scramble to claim it. Meanwhile, Rex becomes very frustrated with Ace, who keeps causing trouble.
Breakdown: I wonder if a piece of Veronica Taylor’s soul broke off into the abyss when she found out she was pegged for another show that makes her prattle off painful pun titles in voiceover. Hm.
This series continues to infuriate me, but it’s one of those things where I’m more pissed about the accumulating smaller details than the overall big picture.
For example, again, we are destroying valuable artifacts for no reason. First, the guards at the museum for some reason have no qualms with smashing dinosaur bones and displays just to apprehend some yahoos with shopping boxes wandering around, especially when the museum seems to technically still be open since Dr. Taylor is meeting with the curator.
Second, there are so many stupid moments. For example, Chomp finds a triceratops display and nuzzles it, which is actually insanely sad. Max points out that he probably misses his family, but without even a second of pause he goes on to say that they’re his family now and they’ll have lots of adventures together.
Real tactful timing, Max. Imagine doing that in any other similar situation. ‘It’s okay recently orphaned child, we’re your family now.’
What’s even stupider is they’re looking for the saichania, Max and Chomp find it but Max doesn’t realize it’s real even though it’s clearly moving, breathing and blinking. He doesn’t even give it a second look or touch it before turning his back and being silent for just long enough for the saichania to walk away, like a goddamned ninja, and then Max suddenly decides to also leave without looking back.
Dr. Taylor has a moment of stupid too. He asks what would lure out a saichania, and he thinks about the fact that they live near water, which is something….most animals do since all living beings need water. If you don’t live near a fresh water source…..you…die.
Zoe briefly raises her voice at Paras when she starts eating a plant and immediately after she sees Paras’ sad face she says now she knows how Ace feels. Why do you know how Ace feels? Wouldn’t this be more how Rex feels? You don’t know what that plant is. You could’ve been saving your dino’s life. Hardly akin to yelling at her for ruining a valuable book.
Later, she explains what she learned from that millisecond of ‘experience’ with the dinos, which is really as obvious as the nose on your face. They’re trying to be helpful, don’t yell at them – if you do, it hurts their feelings. Oh wow, you mean yelling at a living being and treating them like crap will make them feel bad? Golly, what a revelation. Sure am glad I’m two years old so this lesson is not painfully basic.
And how did she learn that from yelling at Paras for eating a plant? How was that helping?
Also, that doesn’t address the issue that Ace is being really hyper and destructive and Rex can’t figure out why or what to do about it. In fact, that’s never really addressed at all.
Thirdly, the saichania’s walk cycle is animated like it has a full diaper. I have no clue how a real saichania moves, but I am almost certain it doesn’t barely move its legs while shuffling around. That doesn’t really have much to do with anything, but the CGI just really bothers me still.
Fourth, the way the saichania is lured out is with a bunch of vegetables. Wanna know why? Remember how I said earlier that Dr. Taylor said saichanias like to live near water? Well, he jumped from that to hippos, because hippos also live near water. So he gathered up hippo food.
Now, saichanias were herbivores, but that’s not the point. He’s a goddamn paleontologist. He should be able to deduce luring out an herbivore with plants immediately instead of going “Saichania’s lived near water…what else lives near water?….err….HIPPOS!…So saichanias must be exactly like hippos. Hippos eat plants! So I should lure out the saichania with plants!” It’s a good think no carnivores or insectivores live near water.
Fifth, Zoe gets her first solo battle today, and it consists of immediately calling for help.
But Paras gets into gear!
Then immediately calls for help too. Because that’s one of Paras’ special abilities. Not lying. It can heal. And it can call for help. You certainly do belong to a female protagonist in a shounen show.
Then Max and Chomp show up and defeat Spiny easily. Yay.
As for the main plot of the episode, it’s one of the most predictable and boring plots I’ve seen in many moons.
Rex is a bit peeved at Ace for being all rowdy and getting mud on his nice book, which he then licked “clean.” The plot is resolved by Ace saving Rex’s life because that’s always how understandings are made between two characters.
Alright, there’s a tiny bit more to that. Rex had to understand that Ace was trying to help when he licked the book, but Zoe already pointed that out before the opening theme song, even, so I guess Rex is a crappy listener. Also, this wasn’t a time to shine for Ace because he loses against Terry.
As for the saichania, despite Dr. Taylor luring it out, the Alpha Team manages to snag it and they also get away with some important tablet. So, congrats, guys. You caused a bunch of damage to a museum and failed in both of your objectives. But hey, at least that minor tiff between Rex and Ace is over. Thank god. You can slow down now, pulse.
Overall, this episode is not good. I guess it’s not as infuriating as the previous episode, at least they didn’t flippantly destroy as many historical artifacts, but it’s, ultimately, very boring. That conflict was really lame, and the resolution might as well have come from the mouth of Dora the Explorer it was so preschool level.
Also, I can’t prove this, but given the animation, I really think Ace pooped on Rex’s book originally. If he had muddy feet, he would have been getting mud all over the room and on Rex’s bed as he was running around. Instead he popped a squat and suddenly left footprints. 4Kids would obviously change this, and I feel like that’s for the better. Afterall, if I’m right, then that means this entire plot is literally built….on crap.
It’s definitely more understandable that Rex would be upset, but it’s also a lot more gross, especially considering Ace licked it clean….
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Plot: A pair of magic rings causes Candy and Miyuki to switch bodies! Miyuki is forced to watch Candy try and fail miserably at being her at school,
Wait, how was Miyuki able to find two rings that had randomly fallen from the sky, especially when she didn’t even see them?
Both Miyuki and Candy properly point out that the shooting stars were rings immediately after they find them. In the dub, Candy theorizes that they’re magic stars from outer space, which is a dumb thing to say because, Candy, ALL stars come from outer space…And Emily has to further prove her point by stating you don’t usually find stars on a sidewalk.
Dammit, they did that thing where they switch the voices along with the bodies. This is present in both versions, but that doesn’t make it any less irksome. You don’t swap vocal chords, guys.
The news reporter was originally named Akae Tamao. In the dub, she’s called Christy. The male newscaster didn’t get a name, but in the dub he’s called Lance.
Majorina doesn’t say what was in the brew that she made the rings in. I wouldn’t have brought it up, but Saban had to include that she dumped jelly doughnuts into the concoction, which was just random and not funny.
The rings were originally called ‘switchrings’ because they…well, switch the wearers around. In the dub, they’re called ‘ringadings,’ which is somehow even goofier and makes less sense. Being fair, though, Akaoni and Wolfrun point out that the name is dumb.
Akaoni just wondered what the rings were in the flashback. In the dub, he think they’re food and wants to know how they taste.
We lose a fairly funny moment. After the flashback ends, Majorina declares that it was Akaoni all along, we zoom out to Wolfrun, who agrees, and Akaoni cries “Huh it was me?!” While the dub isn’t terrible, Brooha yells that he has the brains of a twig, Ulrich agrees and Brute goes “Oh the shame!”
Majorina runs off yelling that she’ll make them both pay for this later, and Wolfrun states that he didn’t even do anything. In the dub, Brooha yells that if you want something right you have to do it yourself. Ulrich then says ‘Witches, am I right?’
Title Change: Miyuki and Candy Changed Places?! is changed to Glitter Switcharoo…..Both equally lazy.
There’s no real indication of what the news report was about in the original, just that it was ‘unusual.’ As a kind of funny segue into the title screen, though, Akae introduces the next story and the title scene triggers. In the dub, Christy says Lance’s report was on garbage, and the next story is about reports of twin shooting stars (There’s really no reason anyone should have been able to see those things falling, even if it was from space, let alone assume they’re shooting stars.)
But then she also adds “Everyone loves a good hoax!” Oh gee, thanks for alerting me that this is a hoax before your report even starts so I don’t have to waste more than three milliseconds on caring.
They’re taking this ‘body parts don’t switch with spirits/minds’ thing a bit further by having Candy wiggle her ears as Miyuki as proof that she’s Candy, but Miyuki has no muscles in her ear to move. People can (rarely) wiggle their ears mostly by moving the muscles around the ear. But the ear itself is made of cartilage. There’s no physical way for her to be moving her ears the way Candy as Candy would.
Miyuki has trouble moving her Candy ears in a similar fashion, but learns very quickly….So…I guess that didn’t prove Candy was Miyuki afterall because, by that logic, Miyuki’s muscle restrictions would prevent her from moving Candy’s ears like that. Also, even though she has trouble learning how to move her ears like that, she learns extremely quickly and even perfectly reverts the ears back to their original state when she moves the conversation back to the rings.
It’s kind of depressing that it takes them so long to think maybe the rings that magically attached themselves to their fingers MIGHT be the culprits in switching their bodies….
There’s a Cure Decor that makes a pair of rings……..and that’s it. And they vanish after like five seconds. These Decor are getting worse in how useless they are.
Yayoi says the rings look like wedding rings. Lily just says they’re the prettiest rings she’s ever seen.
I do have to admit that Candy’s mannerisms and facial expressions through Miyuki are pretty adorable.
Dub!Candy says she has a hairball…..as Emily…..I don’t even want to know what that means when they’re switched, but I also find the fact that at least Dub!Candy seemingly licks herself to be equally disturbing.
Candy originally doesn’t know what a test is. Dub!Candy doesn’t know what French is. There’s no indication what the test is on in the original. I have to say, the dub makes a little more sense here. You’re telling me that Candy’s never had a test in Marchenland? Isn’t she fairly-ish important there, even if she’s a kid?
Well, here’s a dumb 4Kids-y change. In the original, the flip transition is vertical but the dub changes it to horizontal. *shrug*
Ya know, Miyuki should have just laid on Candy’s lap and given her what answers she could while peaking at the test. I’m not sure Candy could write the answers, but it’s better than hiding in her bag and hoping Candy doesn’t make a mess of things – which she does.
Hey look, Saban’s channeling 4Kids again! So soon? You spoil me. They blur our the test because there’s a bunch of barely legible (due to the crayon all over the paper) Japanese writing all over it. It’s way too obvious that they did this because the picture Candy drew is now blurred as a result, making it look like she not only drew on it but also dropped it in a puddle or something. You’re professional editors and this is a static image – digitally paint around the drawing, people. Or, hey, maybe erase the entire thing and redraw the poorly drawn crayon drawing on the blank spot? Or say they’re taking a Japanese class instead of French. Literally anything would have been better than what you did.
Another vertical flip transition swapped for a horizontal. *bigger shrug*
They erase Japanese text from the book they’re reading from.
Japanese text is removed from the chalkboard behind them.
Didn’t remove the Japanese on the books when seen from slightly further away. Lazy digital painters, Saban. You shame 4Kids.
The first line was originally “I am a cat.” which Candy messes up by saying she’s not a cat. In the dub, the line it “It was a dark and stormy night.” which Candy messes up by saying it’s a nice sunny day.
The next line is “I still lack a name to call my own.” which Candy messes up by yelling out that she’s Candy. In the dub, the next line is “In the city with no name.” which Candy messes up by yelling that she suggests they name it Candy Town.
In the original, Yayoi says she’s saying ‘kuru’ like ‘cru’ as in ‘excruciating pain’ so the teacher suggests she go to the infirmary. In the dub, Lily just excuses Emily by saying she thinks she’s not feeling well. I like the dub better because it seems silly for the teacher to accept the very long-winded jump of ‘kuru’ to ‘cru’ to ‘excruciating pain’ especially when Candiyuki is being all excitable and happy.
Another vertical to horizontal transition change. I am really struggling to understand this, even slightly.
Oh but when Candy does the exact same thing on the chalkboard they don’t blur it all out despite the Japanese clearly underneath. Saban, please. make. sense.
In the original, Nao says Candiyuki is expressing the answer through the morals found in fairy tales (since she’s claiming she drew a castle in Marchenland) In the dub, Emily was told to draw a map of world geography. April says she’s expressing word geography through various colors and shapes. Chloe then says the sporadic nature of the drawing is also representative of the changeable nature of modern international borders.
Candy doesn’t know what art is originally. In the dub, the reason she gets excited is because she knows what art is and wants to do it. Again, I think the dub is a little more reasonable here because I refuse to believe art doesn’t exist in Marchenland.
The class was originally social studies. In the dub, it’s geography.
Vertical to horizontal again. *sigh*
Vertical to horizontal AGAIN. *deeper sigh*
Vertical to horizontal – ya know what, anytime there’s a vertical flip transition, assume it’s changed to horizontal because Saban are idiots. Kay? Kay.
Candy originally thinks the teacher drew a circle for her on her paper. In the dub, she says she thinks it’s an O for ‘Awesome.’
Originally the ‘prizes’ were remedial lessons. In the dub, they’re extra homework. I guess that’s not too far off the mark, but still. Also, one day goofing off and she’s being told to take remedial lessons?
I feel the need to point out that they really could have just said Miyuki was sick and couldn’t go to school until they figured out how to get the rings off. Maybe talk to Pop or something. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about Japanese schools from anime is that you can miss however much school you want even if you’re only slightly ill. And chances are you are ill because in Japan people get serious fevers from being in the rain for 11 seconds, being a little stressed out or really just being a female. Thanks anime!
Oh great, a line-where-there-was-none-originally in the dub actually suggests Candy and Emily stay home tomorrow. Why did they not do that today, is what the million dollar question is. But I know the answer – because then they wouldn’t be able to have nearly as many awkward shenanigans.
The sign above the security station is translated, I think.
A paper behind the security guy is digitally painted to remove Japanese text.
What is up with that poster to the right? Did Candy draw that?
Papers behind Majorina are painted to remove Japanese text. (And, oh look, they had to redraw some of those flowers on the calendar because of the paint job. What a novel concept….)
Also, that’s an incredibly creepy drawing on that wanted poster.
The security guy says it’s impressive for someone Majorina’s age to invent something. In the dub, he says ringadings is a dumb name. Look, it was understandable to Ulric and Akaoni to call the name dumb because they’re close friends/colleagues, but this guy is just being an ass.
Majorina yells that she’s not old then explains what the rings do. In the dub, she yells that she understands that the needs a better name and then goes off to explain that she was going to mass produce the rings, kids would beg their parents for them and then there’d be worldwide chaos as a result.
That is a straight-up dumb plan. The rings activate themselves, so the instant they got their hands on these rings they’d be switched and then there’d be mild contained chaos to the handful of children who would actually be amped up about jewelry.
More text gone from the outside of the building.
The security guy keeps yelling ‘Obaa-chan!’ which makes Majorina come back to yell at him for making her sound old. In the dub, he calls her back because he couldn’t remember what the rings were called and wanted to know what she’d change the name to. She gets irritated, returns, reminds him of the name and says she’ll change the name when she feels like it.
The little girl is originally named Narumi. In the dub, she’s Jennifer.
The dub actually adds a fairly funny joke. In the middle of Majorina threatening Candiyuki, they add her asking if she can come up there because she’s too beat from climbing on top of that mountain climbing jungle gym thing and doesn’t know what she was thinking climbing up there in the first place.
The little boy says he doesn’t want to play anymore, but the dub changes this to the boy saying he’s suddenly in a pit of despair. I only mention this because it seems really unlikely that a little boy would talk like that, even with the spell.
Rock, Paper, Scissors! I won! Paper covered rock. 🙂
In the original, the potion to get the rings off is called ‘Backtonormal.’ In the dub, it’s called ‘Backwards Motion Potion.’
Both times the name is mocked, but, honestly, the dub’s name isn’t that bad.
April: “No one’s going to buy that.” Who said anything about selling it? And who would buy it anyway unless the rings were mass-produced, which April doesn’t know about and wouldn’t work anyway?
Alright, I’ll relent here, Miyandy transforming into Cure Candy was very funny and adorable. Usually things like that only happen in dreams and thought bubbles so it was cool to see them commit here.
Cure Candy originally says “The light of the future, shining kuru kuru!” but in the dub she says “Magic and innocence, the strength of a wish.”
The only time they dim this transformation is right after she says ‘The strength of a wish!”
Lily: “Glittertastic!” Lily, please stop.
Earlier, Miyandy was having trouble just moving her Candy ears around, now she’s using them as fists and punching at lightning speed?
They dim the punching match between the Akanbe and Cure Candy.
They dim the closeup of Akanbe chasing Cure Candy.
They even let her do the Happy Shower in that form? Hahaha! That’s pretty cool.
Wait, the reversal potion destroys the rings? Seems like a waste on Majorina’s part.
Brooha: “Ahhhh you brats win again! But I’ll catch you on the flip-flop!”
Kelsey: “Another dumb name.”
What’s a dumb name? She didn’t name anything. She just got the phrase ‘catch you on the flipside.’ wrong.
Chloe: “This was the most unusual day.”
Kelsey: “Tell me about it. Switching bodies, potions, dumb names.” You’re really ramming the dumb name joke into the ground, dub.
Yayoi was originally suggesting they should have left Miyuki and Candy switched for a while longer, which the other girls shoot down. Lily and the girls just talk about the Buffoon in the dub.
You can find my full opinions on the episode here.
In regards to the comparison, this episode fares pretty well. They mostly paint text out and change very minor things as well as adding some details that were really unnecessary. However, they made up for a chunk of that by adding some pretty funny dialogue, especially when it came to Brooha, but that bad name joke was really overstaying its welcome, especially considering that part about selling the rings and the removal potion just didn’t work at all if you put an iota of thinking into it.
The one thing that really got to me though was the Candy picture being blurred. It was such a terrible decision to do that. No kid casually watching this is going to pause on that picture and wonder why there’s a bunch of Japanese on it, and even if they did you can easily explain it away. And, again, they could have easily just removed the entire image and redrawn another shoddy crayon drawing. Even the worst artists can pull that off.
But, no, instead they opt to blur the whole thing and make it look like a complete eyesore.
Next episode, Yayoi’s leaving? Nine episodes into the series!? And the teaser confirms it was an April’s Prank?! Wow….thanks, preview….Why should I watch this episode then? Either they’re keeping it a secret the whole episode and the teaser just spoiled it or this will be one of those episodes where the character makes it known to the audience that they’re lying and the entire episode is just an awkwardness fest of trying to keep up the lie until it inevitably gets revealed…..
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Chapters 101-120 (Chunin Exam Finals and the Start of the Attack of Konoha)
Sakura’s not very active during this period because so much of it is the Chunin exam finals, and Sakura’s role is to merely observe (And wait for Sasuke to arrive for ten of these chapters…Just to get this off my chest – I fully agree with Shikamaru. Sasuke and Kakashi’s big overly dramatic arrival is a little irritating when they had everyone waiting. I kinda wanted them to follow that up with “Oh sorry, Sasuke, you got disqualified for making us wait about an hour. Nice pizzazz, though.”)
However, there are some points of note.
Sakura again feels a pang of jealousy when Naruto shows how powerful he is and how much he’s grown when he defeats Neji.
I especially like her saying that watching him makes her want to work even harder. She’s not only showing that she has definitely come to respect Naruto, but he is also actively inspiring her. It’s a nice circle too, considering Naruto got as far as he did in his fight with Neji by remembering the people who have inspired him, like Hinata and Rock Lee, who were inspired by him as well.
….However, as you’ll note, not a damn person was inspired by Sakura’s fight. *cough*
The second annual Naruto character popularity poll is listed in these chapters, and I didn’t think to note the first one back then because I didn’t find it relevant, but considering the topic at hand and the fact that I don’t have much to write about yet, I feel I should point this one out.
In the first popularity poll, Sakura ranked fifth.
In the second popularity poll…….she ranked 14th…..
Ouch is an understatement. Allow me to point out some notable characters who beat her as further evidence of the disdain towards Sakura starting to show up. Gamabunta, the frog who appeared in all of one chapter so far – Jiraiya who, at this point really hasn’t done much but train Naruto for a while and perv on girls – Hayate Gekko, the drowsy-looking proctor of the prelims who didn’t do much else but get murdered – and the fifth Hokage who has barely shown his non-mountain face in this manga at all and has yet to get a speaking role.
She’s not even the highest ranking kunoichi – Hinata takes that spot at #6.
Granted, she never falls this far again, but she never meets or surpasses her first ranking in the future. In fact, she struggles to stay in the top ten. The last popularity poll, taken in 2011, leaves her at 12th place.
Since we’re still not getting much in the realm of Sakura right now, let me babble for a while. The endless Sasuke praise and adoration is irritating enough, especially considering he is literally being given preferential treatment because he’s the special Uchiha kid everyone wants to see fight so no disqualification for him being late, but then he has to come in being a literal copy of Rock Lee.
I get it, Sharingan user means he can copy whatever he’s seen, but this specific instance really bugs me. Rock Lee worked his ass off day in and day out for a few years to get to the levels of speed and taijutsu skill at which he has peaked to this point. Sasuke trains all of a month and he’s matched Lee’s physical abilities – his top speed, his hand-to-hand combat, his jutsus – all of it.
Sure, he can’t open the chakra gates (or maybe he can, he did see that happen too) and these abilities still take their toll, but it breaks my heart to see Rock Lee hobbling around on crutches after a near-death experience against Gaara using everything he had as he watches Sasuke implement his own moves against Gaara and drive him into a state of desperation he couldn’t get him into even by sacrificing his body to achieve that goal. And Sasuke’s barely even tired or injured at this point.
Do you see what I mean when I say I hate ‘geniuses’ and ‘prodigies’?
I’m not saying the Sharingan is cheating – as ninja, which are basically soldiers, they’re perfectly allowed to use whatever powers and bloodline abilities they have to come out on top, even if they’re overpowered or cheap. I take this more as being a massive shortcut. It’s things like this that make feats of certain characters seem less impressive to me.
People can look at this and go ‘Wow, Sasuke’s such an impressive badass.’ but I feel underwhelmed.
Rock Lee is so impressive because he reached this insane level of skill and power at his age with a handicap, not with any born advantages like many ninja have. His main powers are determination and self-discipline. On sheer willpower, he managed to match top dog ninjas time and again, even if the series commonly doesn’t let him have the limelight. Neji’s natural genius, bloodline powers and talent were a perfect foil for him. Neji may be cool, but he’ll never be as cool as Rock Lee to me, nor will Sasuke.
And hey, just to loop around back to Sakura, that IS a point on her side of the scoreboard. Even Ino and Hinata have bloodline traits that give them an edge, but Sakura doesn’t. We don’t know much about her home life besides barely seeing her parents once and that was anime-exclusive. She doesn’t come from some special clan, she has no kekki genkai, she has no curse mark or demons inside of her – she’s just Sakura.
However, the reason that she’s nowhere near as impressive as Rock Lee is because her work ethic up until this point seems mostly relegated to the basics – book learnin’ and basic skills. Like many have pointed out, she has spent a majority of her time being preoccupied with flirting and impressing Sasuke. She gets really good grades, but she doesn’t go beyond that. She’s one of the top kunouchi in her class, but she doesn’t strive to learn any powerful jutsu or focus on a particular area of strength.
I don’t want to chalk that up to laziness, because she doesn’t seem like she’s lazy. I want to say she’s lost.
She doesn’t have an identity as a ninja yet. Even in regards to the writing, she’s in a very confusing state. She’s super smart, but not as smart as Sasuke, Neji or Shikamaru. She’s skilled with chakra control, but they don’t do anything with that. She’s supposedly good with Genjutsu, but we already know how contradictory that statement has been. She’s one of the top kunoichi in her class, but in battle she ties with Ino, who is supposedly in the middle or back of the pack.
I think one of the reasons she was jealous of Naruto wasn’t just realizing yet again that he’s on a completely different level than her – it was knowing Naruto knew exactly who he was and wanted to be as a ninja. As the character descriptions state time and again in each volume, Sakura’s main goal is to ‘win Sasuke’s heart.’ Meanwhile Naruto’s is to become hokage and Sasuke’s is to get vengeance for his clan. One of these things is not like the others.
Sakura has finally realized how far she truly falls short as a ninja, but she has no direction on what she wants to be as a ninja or, realistically, a person. Winning the heart of an edgelord is not a goal of a ninja nor is it really a viable goal as a person as we’ll delve into soon enough. And it’s not until Tsunade starts training her that she actually has direction, purpose and a goal as a ninja…….even if that goal is heavily centered around Sasuke, but, again, we’ll get to that later.
That’s likely one of the reasons why Sakura is seen as so much better once the time skip rolls around. She’s not only more skilled, serious and powerful with her own fairly unique set of skills (being fair, all of the main characters adopted and adapted most of their techniques from their elders), but she also has direction.
Once the attack is launched on the Chunin exam and most people fall under the Genjutsu, one of the enemies points out that realizing the Genjutsu and being able to use a jutsu to release it is to be expected of Konoha’s elite. Immediately after he says this, we see Sakura releasing the Genjutsu on herself as well.
FINALLY an actual implication that she’s good at catching Genjutsu and can easily escape it. Too bad there’s so much more evidence to the contrary that this actually seems weird. I almost feel like she was just taking a beat from Kakashi and Gai, seeing them do it before her.
While worrying about Sasuke, given the attack from Orochimaru, Sakura gets attacked by two enemy ninja. Kakashi rushes in to save her…..This attack has absolutely no point besides to show Sakura getting saved again.
Kakashi points out that she has a natural talent for Genjutsu again, which is par for the course at this point, roll your eyes and move on, but he also said something that made me raise an eyebrow. He said he’s glad he trained her in Genjutsu during ninja survival training….Uhm….when did this happen?…And why are you lying?
Kakashi never gave Sakura any specific training, and any training she did with Naruto and Sasuke never involved Genjutsu, that we saw anyway. The only instance I can think of was the bell test where Kakashi placed a Genjutsu on her to make her think Sasuke was mortally wounded – and that made her faint!
Sakura is recruited to break the Genjutsu on Naruto and Shikamaru to take on an A-rank mission. She’s very clearly nervous and apprehensive, but, to her credit, she doesn’t panic. Shikamaru recognized and broke free from the Genjutsu (he pretended to be asleep) so she doesn’t get to break him free.
Chapter 118 does not put any good light on Sakura at all.
There’s a fairly decent opportunity for Sakura’s character growth here. One of the aforementioned overlooked aspects of her character is in the fact that she’s supposedly very smart. Since she was shown to be quite nervous a moment ago, Kakashi might have relied on Sakura’s knowledge to help command a squad to carry out his mission. Sakura could bungle it up a bit at first, her fear getting in the way, especially since Kakashi brought up the Hidden Mist mission, of which Sakura holds bad memories, but ultimately she could come through and manage to effectively lead the squad for at least a while.
This would also give her a better moment of glory than whatever the hell happened in the Chunin exam prelims.
However, Kakashi ordered her to recruit Shikamaru, who was recently proven to be a tactical genius with an IQ over 200. And since he was also touted to be the one who would be most fitting as a Chunin out of that year’s group, it’s a no-brainer that he’d basically be leader and brains of their temporary squad.
But he went a bit overboard.
He made Sakura look about as stupid as Naruto with her suggestions, and even described her as ‘A kunoichi with no particular talent.’ I’ve stated that it’s a bit annoying when they press Sakura’s ‘she’s really smart’ button when trying to give her props when she’s in a team with Sasuke the genius, but this moment made me really glad they didn’t opt to put her in a team with Shikamaru – especially considering his outward sexism.
Secondly, Sakura immediately believes Shikamaru probably ran away when he goes off to basically sacrifice himself to be a decoy to the nine pursuing ninja. Not only is that insulting and a poor testament to Sakura’s faith in her comrade, but that doesn’t even make any sense. If Shikamaru wanted to save his ass and run, he’d just do it. He wouldn’t come up with an elaborate plan, pretend to be the décoy in said plan and then run off.
Chapters 121-140 (Conclusion of the attack on Konoha + Battle against Gaara)
Sakura’s not present in half of these chapters because there’s other stuff going on that has nothing to do with her, namely the Third Hokage’s battle against Orochimaru, Shino’s battle against Kankuro and Sasuke’s battle against Gaara.
However, I will note something. When Naruto finally arrives on the scene, he makes a dramatic entrance by kicking Gaara in the face (Does that mean now Naruto’s too fast for Gaara’s protective sand? Come on.) as he’s about to attack Sasuke.
Sakura’s entrance is rushing to Sasuke’s side and fretting over him. Granted, he is out of chakra and the curse mark is taking over again, but still. Contrast.
Also, there’s a weird spot, shown above, where Sakura seems like she’s not even paying attention to what’s going on around her, gets pissed off when Naruto tries to ask her about their enemy, literally goes ‘grrr’ when she looks at Gaara and explains…. “That’s the guy who knocked Sasuke down.” I don’t know if the translation is just weirdly worded, but that sounds like a little kid getting angry at a bully.
And let me remind everyone, Sasuke chased after Gaara so they could have this fight, yet Sakura’s acting like Gaara sought him out.
To her credit, Sakura does jump in the way of Gaara as he tries to attack Sasuke (Though her stance is kinda weird if you ask me. Really limits your attacks if you hold your kunai down that low, doesn’t it?)
But, of course, she can’t do a damn thing and just gets slammed against the tree. Her willing to put her life at risk to protect someone precious to her creates an additional instance of emotional turmoil for Gaara, for what that’s worth.
Sakura spends a good chunk of the rest of this section being pinned to a tree and being a damsel in distress. Gaara has separated some of his sand from his body to keep her pinned to the tree and it’s slowly constricting her. Unless Naruto beats Gaara, she’ll be crushed to death.
So glad she was able to break free from that Genjutsu just so she could do literally nothing useful and become a damsel in distress. Bravo.
I love how when Naruto’s thinking about examples of people acknowledging him, Sakura’s segment is asking him about Sasuke and him desperately trying to get her to pay attention to him….
Hey, now. Sasuke showing concern for Sakura. Sasuke tells Naruto to save Sakura no matter what and to run away with her while he makes a distraction. He also includes her as one of his ‘precious comrades.’
Tell you the truth, though, all of the dialogue in play, this is just as much a NaruSasu moment as it is a SasuSaku moment.
Gamakichi refers to Sakura as Naruto’s girl….That probably irritated me more than it should.
Some people like to also give flak to Gaara for becoming Kazekage later and being a good friend to Konoha and Naruto when he’s basically a reformed serial killer. Many people don’t give him too much leeway just because of his sordid past (“Cool motive, still murder.”), but considering he also suffered from endless insomnia possibly since birth and had his sanity chewed on by a demon whenever he did get some semblance of rest, it makes more sense to pardon his actions and believe his development when he gets a better grasp on Shukaku and comes to change his views on love and affection. His sanity is slowly repairing itself, somewhat symbolically, through the love he witnesses and eventually obtains from his friends and family.
I’ll probably bring this back up way later down the line when we get to some more questionable reformations, but since we’re focusing on Gaara right now, I thought that’d be the best time to discuss that…..Sakura’s still stuck to a tree afterall.
Sakura got unstuck from the tree. Caught by Sasuke, showing a tiny bit more caring for her.
Chapters 141 – 160 (The Aftermath of the Attack on Konoha + Finding Tsunade)
In a flashback, Sakura initially doesn’t believe that Naruto was responsible for defeating Gaara, saving her from the Sand Gauntlet. She’d rather gush over Sasuke and believe he was responsible and that he’s just being modest. Sasuke, however, does convince her, and even though she’s not seen thanking Naruto, she does smile and seemingly respect what he did.
Sakura’s only other appearance in this section is briefly being seen sitting at Sasuke’s hospital bed side saying “Sasuke….”
Yup, 20 chapters and those are Sakura’s only appearances. Granted, the story as of now doesn’t really call for her – Naruto’s been away for most of it, but still. If you were just casually reading this, you’d be seriously questioning whether Sakura’s actually a main character or not.
Chapters 161 – 180 (Tsunade’s Decision + The Battle Between the Sannin + Coming Home with the Fifth Hokage)
Sakura’s still not in a good portion of this part, but….Alright, since I didn’t really have much else to say, I wanted to make an observation. I am in no way slamming Tsunade, but I couldn’t help but make this parallel. Even though Tsunade was holding her own, she was still very evenly matched and nearly losing to Kabuto, whom Orochimaru stated earlier was only on level ground with Kakashi. No sleight to Kakashi either, but he’s not a Sannin. I’m just saying……is Tsunade basically the Sakura of her team?
I’m not saying the skill and power difference is as great as Sakura’s with Sasuke and Naruto, but she really doesn’t seem to be on the same level as Orochimaru or Jiraiya. During this battle she needed to be saved twice. And the first time she was facing Kabuto only.
So the first instance we see of Sakura in this chunk of the story is a brief image of her and Ino looking all crazy as Shikamaru goes off bad-mouthing all woman-kind.
And the first shot we actually see of her…..is…..At Sasuke’s bedside….And Tsunade notes that she seems to have been going there every single day. Wow.
Look, I get that this is kinda sweet, but from all I can tell she has literally done nothing with the time Naruto has been gone, which is a couple weeks I think, besides sit on her ass and mope about Sasuke. While Naruto was off working his ass off to learn the most powerful move he’s ever mastered, one that will become his signature attack technique throughout his lifetime, she’s been doing nothing. Even Rock Lee was training while actually being a PATIENT in this hospital after getting his body viciously mangled, but Sakura’s just been sitting there like a lump on a log….
What happened to the Sakura who was sick of people getting hurt protecting her and being gung-ho about proving herself? You don’t only do that in the field, Sakura. You have to actually be active when you don’t have missions. You have to learn new jutsu or make up your own. Kakashi might be out of commission for the moment, but surely there are other instructors who can take over for a while, if she absolutely needs someone to help her, even if there is a shortage of people in the village lately.
However, we clearly see most of the other teams are training in their off-time, whether it be as a hobby or not, even without an instructor nearby. Sakura has no excuse to be doing nothing.
And for the record, Sakura spends the rest of the first chapter she’s really been seen in for ages crying and hugging Sasuke…..
Meanwhile, in the next chapter, Sakura is peeling an apple for Sasuke and cutting it up into itty bitty pieces for him to eat more easily…..Sakura, sweetie, he’s just tired – he’s not a three year old.
When Sakura presents the apples to him, he’s gotten himself so pissed off thinking of how Naruto is pulling ahead of him in skill and power that he growls at her and smacks the plate out of her hands. Then he just glowers out the window without a single thought of remorse or apology.
The girls really aren’t getting a lot of love in these few chapters anyway. Tenten’s just there, Hinata is shown being jealous that Kiba and Shino have hobbies and Ino keeps ragging on Choji for eating too much and being fat. She states that she would never get Sasuke if she ever put on weight, and tells Choji to stop eating too much or else he’ll never a girl. What a bitch.
I find this dialogue to be really weird too, because she should know very well that a large portion of Choji’s skill as a ninja comes from his weight.
The apple thing gets even worse when, gasp, Sasuke steps on one of the apple pieces on the floor. Dammit, Sasuke, you might as well be stepping on her heart!
During the match between Naruto and Sasuke, all she does is stand there looking on with concern and nearly kills herself trying to stop them from fighting (Can’t help but wonder how the series would have gone had they killed her. Not as a jab at Sakura, but something like their rivalry killing their teammate and friend would have seriously messed Naruto and Sasuke up for life.)
And once Kakashi stops them and saves Sakura, she just cries….And then Kakashi tries to cheer her up instead of talking to her like an adult….Seriously, “Don’t worry, things will be the way they used to be.”? You don’t know that. Don’t promise that, especially with Sasuke clearly going off the deep end. He did something similar when they returned for the Chunin exams when he told her the curse mark was nothing to worry about when it clearly is.
Just a moment ago, Iruka was talking to Naruto like a fellow shinobi about how he needs to help the village out and take missions whenever asked. And here Kakashi is basically ‘Santa is real’ing Sakura….
Later, Naruto tells Sakura to not get in his way. Oh goodie, even Naruto’s giving her shit now.
Sakura does make the decision to go against Sasuke’s wishes and tell Naruto about the curse mark and Orochimaru, and he tells her it’s okay because Sasuke’s too strong to be tempted by Orochimaru. This is basically the same thing Kakashi’s doing, but at least here Naruto probably believes it himself.
Sakura’s also remembering all this while lazing about in the window. Ya know, times like these might prompt some characters to think they should’ve been stronger to stop their friends from fighting and maybe become more determined to train harder and get stronger so they won’t be ‘in the way’…….Some characters.
You might argue that there’s not enough time to give Sakura a lot of focus or develop her much right here, but Shikamaru, Choji and Rock Lee are all getting mounds of development in this section and none of the main plot involves them at all right now.
Meanwhile, Rock Lee’s story never fails to make me want to sob. Please give him all of the good things in the world forever.
Chapters 181-200 (Sasuke’s Departure – Battle Against the Sound Four for Sasuke: Choji and Neji’s battles)
The start of this section is one of the biggest moments for Sakura and SasuSaku in the entire series.
Sakura is keeping watch over the only path out of the village because she’s concerned Sasuke will leave, which he does. She starts off kinda funny because she tries to remind him of the time when he yelled at her for acting like Naruto had it made…..Ya know….being an orphan.
And he told her she made him sick.
She brought that up as the start of them being a team…..but it really wasn’t. The start of them being a team and opening up to each other a little was probably during the bell test.
Him yelling at her over what she said is definitely the first time he even slightly shared anything about himself to her, but he never said anything in regards to his own situation. He was just pointing out what a shitty thing it is to say that an ORPHAN has it good because their parents don’t nag them. Anyone would say that.
She goes on to talk about how fun it was being a team together, that she understands his loneliness and, even with her friends and family around her that, if Sasuke leaves, she’ll be very lonely too. This is kinda sweet, but sounds kinda shitty when it immediately follows her saying she understands Sasuke’s loneliness. Again, Sakura, no you don’t. You don’t understand loneliness. You definitely don’t understand the loneliness either Naruto or Sasuke has felt before.
And I swear to god if someone brings up her being bullied for her forehead I will lose it.
It still doesn’t work. Sasuke affirms that they’re just all going on different paths. His is of revenge. Hers is…wherever.
Then she starts sobbing (though she’s been crying this entire time) and yells out that she’s so in love with Sasuke that she can’t stand it. She’ll do anything if he stays in Konoha. She’ll do whatever she can to make him happy – even help him exact revenge. Because swearing a blood oath over a crush…..that’s healthy.
Then….she does something I’ve always kinda hated Sakura for……she offers to go with him to Orochimaru.
……………..And then what, Sakura? And. Then. What? You’ll sit by cutting up apples for Sasuke as Voldemort trains him in the dark arts? You’ll join in? Have to hope their team has room for someone whose skills amount to high chakra control, pretend Genjutsu talent and cutting her hair.
I know it probably seems like I’m being too pissed at this, but I have justification. It’s not just that going with Sasuke to Orochimaru is dumb, it’s that she’s willing to BETRAY HER VILLAGE to stay with a guy who has only barely ever given her the time of day before because she can’t stop writing ‘Sakura Uchiha’ in her ninja textbooks.
You can shout your love for him all you want, Sakura. It’s not real. The fact that your most seemingly cherished moment with Sasuke is when he yelled at you and said you made him sick is telling enough.
The fact that you think you understand Sasuke’s feelings in the slightest, after acknowledging that you know what happened to his clan, just because you’ll be sad your eye candy won’t be around anymore is more than enough.
But the fact that you’re willing to either kiss his ass to make him stay or follow him, betraying your village as well as all of your friends and family, to someone who MURDERED THE THIRD HOKAGE and god knows how many other people – the guy who cursed Sasuke and caused him untold amounts of pain, is the frosting on the cake, the cherry on top and the little umbrella in the drink.
I can understand she has good intentions, really I do, but this confrontation paints her in such a bad and immature light. She’s twelve, so I guess I can’t hate on her too much for acting like this, even though you’d think she’d be much smarter and more mature by now, especially considering the maturity levels of a lot of her peers, but it doesn’t make it any less obnoxious.
Sasuke smirks and tells her she’ll never change, which I never really understood if that was meant to be a compliment or an insult. She threatens to scream if he leaves, which causes him to fwoosh behind her, thank her, which is kinda nice (How is Sasuke the non-annoying one in this situation?) and then knocks her out and leaves her on a bench.
The next day, Sakura tells Tsunade’s associates of what happened, which sends her into a bit of a panic because now Orochimaru has Sasuke in his clutches and can achieve his ends. Which just brings another stupid thing to light – Sakura, if you were so concerned Sasuke would leave the village soon to the point where you were seemingly pulling all-nighters watching the one path out of the village, why did you not tell Kakashi, Tsunade or any other authority figure? Why did you not have have some method of alerting them if Sasuke was attempting to leave? Maybe a clone or something or some sort of signal.
Even if she didn’t know exactly why Orochimaru wanted Sasuke, she knew he wanted him anyway. She knew the biggest enemy of Konoha at present, one who just pulled off a terrorist attack on Konoha and assassinated its leader, wanted Sasuke. Yet she didn’t think to maybe give a heads up to Kakashi? Leave a note on Tsunade’s desk?
Also, if she truly doesn’t know of Orochimaru’s intentions with Sasuke, that’s the fault of everyone continuing to treat her like a child and choosing to not share vital information like that with her. Not telling everyone, sure, but she’s his damned teammate. Naruto knows, doesn’t he? There’s no excuse.
You can argue that Sasuke would have found some way to leave no matter what they did, but if they really felt he was a danger to Konoha due to his willingness to walk into Orochimaru’s open embrace….lock the kid up. Throw his ass in prison. Use some sort of jutsu to keep him in the village. That’s kinda harsh, yeah, but it’s better than Orochimaru getting what he wants and needs to end Konoha entirely, killing untold amounts of people, and letting one of their most powerful and talented young ninja become another human dynamo with dark powers who intends on mowing down anyone in his way.
After Tsunade enlists Shikamaru to the task of retrieving Sasuke, given that all of the Chu and Jonin as well as some Genin are out on missions, and Shikamaru enlists his team of Genin, Sakura shows up and does what she does best.
Shikamaru explains that they can’t bring Sakura along with them because she failed to persuade Sasuke to stay, and even though he doesn’t directly say it, she’d most certainly be a hindrance to them anyway given her lack of notable skills and power and her clear bias towards Sasuke, meaning she’d never be able to bring him back through force. So Sakura instead starts crying and begging Naruto to grant her ‘wish of a lifetime’ to bring Sasuke back.
Naruto obviously agrees, pointing out how much Sakura truly cares about Sasuke, which prompts Sakura to remember a time when she was talking to Naruto as a Sasuke doppleganger telling him how Naruto ruins everything, doesn’t understand her at all, if he had his way, supposedly, she’d never find love or happiness, and she can’t stand to have him anywhere near her. I’m not sure if this is her coming to the realization that that was Naruto or just that she’s reflecting on what a bitch she was then, but either way she realizes that she was wrong about Naruto and that he really does understand her and care.
Before I continue, can I point out that Konoha is very clearly hard up for help on missions, even Iruka told Naruto that he’d probably be called for missions to help out, Iruka himself has been pulled away from the academy to do missions, yet Sakura’s been in Konoha this whole time sitting on her ass and as far as I can tell no one’s asked her to do shit? Is this just convenient, like she hasn’t been picked through some random selection, or does no one….ya know….want her on the team? Or think she’d be useful? I can’t help but think the latter is very possible.
Where is Ino, by the way? I know she’d be nearly as bad as Sakura in the fogged focus area because of Sasuke, but where is she? Tenten’s nowhere to be found either, or Hinata. They explain Shino’s away on a mission with his father – where are all the girls at? Nearly all of the boys in Konoha, barring Rock Lee for obvious reasons, are going on this mission. Why isn’t at least Hinata, the one girl in all of Konoha whose heart doesn’t go pitter patter at the mere thought of Sasuke, being asked to go along? I know Shikamaru is sexist but at least explain where the girls are or why none of them were considered for this mission.
The end of the chapter has a picture of Sakura looking at the reader with a frown. Yeah, I’m not happy either, Sakura.
Sakura’s obviously not a part of a vast majority of these chapters after this point either. So….let’s continue to explore more reasons why practically every other character in this series is more interesting than Team 7 – Today’s excerpt: Neji and Choji….but mostly Choji.
I’m really enjoying that Neji has chilled out so much. He’s still a bit of a superior air around him, but it’s not nearly as bad as it used to be. Naruto and Kiba are being much more obnoxious in looking down on others, namely Choji and, for a minute, Shikamaru, in this part of the story, so it’s nice to see such a talented and skilled ninja actually be chill and helpful instead of snotty or emo.
As for Choji, his is another arc that never fails to bring a tear to my eye. Choji may be a bit on the annoying side when it comes to him outside of battles and missions, mostly because his shtick pretty much just amounts to ‘Haha, he’s fat. Haha he eats a lot.’ but when he’s set on something, he’s serious, he’s smart, he’s skilled and he’s incredibly determined to prove himself and defend his best friend, Shikamaru.
This is one of the best moments of badassery in the entire series, and it’s pulled off by the fat comic relief guy whose final form is a butterfly.
And not only that, but this plotline is actually relevant to our main topic.
Choji was ostracized from the other kids because he was overweight, yeah, but people also tend to think Choji’s stupid and useless on top of that, even though Shikamaru goes on record saying he is, by far, the strongest Genin in their group. Thanks to the support of Shikamaru, he has been able to keep his head up, continue moving forward and become a great ninja, no matter what others, including Ino and Asuma, who should know better, think of him. He’s able to take down one of the Sound Four, willfully giving his life to do so.
And, no lie, when I first saw this part of the story in the anime I legitimately thought Choji had died. And I cried. This storyline made me cry over the only person in the Chunin exams who had a more pitiful performance than Sakura – and that’s counting Tenten, because at least in the anime her fight was a little entertaining.
Especially when he reached the trees and saw the arrow carvings, knowing Shikamaru put them there, realizing Shikamaru had enough trust in Choji’s abilities to do as he claimed he would, beat the enemy and catch up.
We keep getting similar characters who are put down for being useless, talentless burdens on their teams like Choji and Rock Lee, and when it comes to their times to shine they get these grand, amazing storylines that pluck every heartstring you have. But when Sakura, a main friggin’ character with this same problem, is given a shot at proving herself she ends up with either a haircut or a double KO against people like Ino. Choji just beat one of Orochimaru’s bodyguards, who has a curse mark, who triggered his final form with this mark, and Sakura….couldn’t beat….Ino.
Also, I really like the dynamic the five of them have. I mean, yeah, Kiba and Naruto are generally being irritating brats, but they work really well together. Each has their own strengths and weaknesses that work in tandem with the others, and, given a bit more time, they’d probably be a powerhouse of a ninja squad…….still salty there’s not a single girl here, though.
Neji’s fight is not as interesting, in my opinion. It’s more tense seeing him actually struggle with someone and not constantly blather on about destiny and fate and whatnot (He does bring it up at the end, though), but I think it drags on a bit long. Just a little bit. Also, I can’t get as emotionally charged from Neji’s story when his crescendo is that so many people don’t see him as a failure, but as a genius and he can’t let those people down. They try to do the same death fakeout that Choji got, but, again, it’s not tugging my heartstrings as much.
Overall, this cluster of chapters really doesn’t reflect well on Sakura, which is shame because the first part of this analysis series actually gave me quite a bit more respect for her and now it’s fading pretty fast. There are so many more moments where she frustrated the hell out of me and much fewer moments where she was actually redeeming herself. And, sadly, none where she was really impressive.
I’m debating how much of that is her fault because she’s simply not a part of most of the storylines that are happening in this section. She’s just not given anything to do. Chapters 1-100 focused almost exclusively on Team 7. The Hidden Mist arc, the first few sections of the Chunin exam – all of them had the team together and gave focus to them as a team, usually. But the start of this cluster is where the team starts falling apart, which I guess means Sakura just gets less focus by default.
I can easily say that a majority of that isn’t her fault, but when you think about it, it really is.
She’s not really part of the Chunin exam arc after the prelims. That’s kinda her fault because she hasn’t been doing enough training to beat Ino, of all people.
She’s not being given special training for the main event of the Chunin exams because she’s not in them because see above.
She has little to no use in the attack on Konoha because she hasn’t bothered trying to train and improve herself during the Chunin exam off time anyway – despite her drive being to get stronger and more skilled so she won’t be useless and cause people more pain and grief.
She’s not of any use in the battle against Gaara, and is, depressingly, reduced to a literal damsel in distress.
She’s not involved in the part with retrieving Tsunade, which is the first instance where the fault was entirely out of her hands. However, the entire time this was going on, she was literally doing nothing but doting on comatose Sasuke every day instead of training. They could have easily brought her along, especially considering she’ll be Tsunade’s student later. That could have made for a great baseline of Team 7 connecting with their Sannin counterparts to seek out mentors. But nope.
When Naruto returns, she’s somehow 10x worse in the whiny useless crybaby department to the point where even Kakashi seemingly babies her now. She cuts up an apple for Sasuke like he’s a preschooler and does nothing but cry and nearly force Naruto and Sasuke to murder her as she pulls an Ash in Pokemon The First Movie.
She makes a 10% heartwarming 90% stupid plea, while sobbing, to make Sasuke stay, not properly planning this out at all and nearly betraying her village to stay with him. Then she cries some more to Naruto, not allowed on the mission to get Sasuke back because she’s too useless and Sasuke crazy, and begs him to bring her back.
End of chapter cluster.
It’s a shame, too, because most of what we’ve been getting with the development of side characters, such as Shikamaru, Choji, Rock Lee and even Neji, has been pretty damn great. Why is one of the main characters falling behind so much? Why is Sakura seemingly not even making an effort to do what she keeps saying she wants to do? I mentioned that I thought Sakura was lost, which I still think she is, but she can at least make efforts to improve in the meantime. Her screentime shouldn’t constantly rely on either Naruto or Sasuke.
I probably come off as a bit harsh on her through this part, but I was really starting to lose my patience with her. We go these long gaps without seeing her at all and whenever we do see her, nine times out of ten, she’s reinforcing all of the negative things people have been saying about her for years.
But fear not, reader. We still have a long way to go…whether that’s good or bad is up in the air, but considering Part 3 will be chapters 201-300, which means we’re finally dipping our toes into the time skip chapters, I’d say we have at least a little to look forward to.
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Plot: A pair of magic rings created by Majorina is accidentally dropped to earth. As (bad) luck would have it, Candy and Miyuki find the rings. The rings magically attach themselves to Candy and Miyuki, which causes them to switch bodies! Candy is forced to try to pretend to be Miyuki all day at school while they try to figure out a way to get back to their original forms.
Breakdown: I don’t much care for body switching episodes. Even if it does make for some funny moments, it’s mostly just awkward and follows the same path over and over.
Oh no, they switched bodies. Oh haha, they’re awkward because they switched bodies. Oooohhh they fight because they’re both crap at being the other. Yay they learn to triumph in the other’s body. Aww they learned something from the experience and gained more mutual respect. Whoo they switch back at the end.
This episode is ultimately more of the same. They even do the voice switch and, somehow, certain bodily functions shifting yet not really? It’s pretty confusing.
I will say that I loved how they changed both Miyuki and Candy’s designs a little to reflect the change. When Candy took over Miyuki, her lips curved, her eyes got rounder and wider and her pigtails got curlier and floppier. When Miyuki took over Candy, her eye design changed quite a bit.
I also adore that they had Miyuki transform, battle and use Happy Shower while in Candy’s body instead of just having Candy do it in her body. It was really cute and funny.
Majorina also had many really funny moments, especially with Wolfrun and Akaoni. She’s easily becoming my favorite character.
However, this episode didn’t really need to happen – and I don’t mean that in a filler way. They never explain why Candiyuki had to go to school when they could have just excused her and kept her home, with the other girls trying to figure out a way to switch them back while at school – maybe contacting Pop or something – but then we wouldn’t have a plot and crazy Candiyuki shenanigans.
I was also a little disappointed that we never really get Miyuki’s view on this whole situation. She’s been turned into a little rabbit fairy thing but she never really says anything about it besides doing that thing with her ears. The final battle as Miyandy makes up for that quite a bit, but still.
All in all it’s a VERY tired cliché plot, but it’s done fairly well in this circumstance. It didn’t bring anything new to the table, but it put a fun spin on it that I enjoyed.
Next episode, Yayoi’s playing a not-funny April Fool’s Day prank involving her moving away. I assume awkwardness and displeasure abound.
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Plot: Momoko wishes more than anything to find the love of her life and have a beautiful wedding like her late mother once had. One day, as she’s out with her friends Yuri and Higagiku, a strange man named Pluie kidnaps her and tries to steal her beloved ruby ring, which once belonged to her mother. Another man, an angelic being named Limone, rushes in to save her. Pluie possesses her friends into attacking her for her ring. Limone hands her a brooch, which gives her the power to transform into the magical girl Wedding Peach and save her friends.
Breakdown: Another magical girl anime, and like most magical girl anime, this one has to deal with being called a Sailor Moon clone. A lot of people fling that accusation around, though. Magical girl anime existed before Sailor Moon, and people tend to get blinders on when it comes to some anime genres like mecha or slice of life.
This one, however, I’ve seen on more than one occasion be accused of being one of, if not the worst clone offender in existence. That’s a hefty charge. But let’s weigh Wedding Peach on both its own merits and its clone status before we send it to anime jail.
….And hoo boy, they don’t waste any time do they? This theme song is so similar to Sailor Moon’s, I’m almost tempted to go ‘she is the one named Sailor Moon’ during the chorus. Just add some organ music, bells and tweak the verses a tad and you have Wedding Peach’s OP.
Alright, I’m jumping the gun. It’s probably just a coincidence. Give the rest of the episode a chance.
*22 minutes later*
Wow……Okay. Let’s just get everything out of the way.
Our main character, Momoko, is a klutzy, ditsy, gluttonous airhead who is obsessed with love and boys. She has a particular obsession with getting married because, well, of course she does. She’s a female protagonist in a magical girl anime.
Her friends have a nickname for her when she’s being airheaded or dumb – turtle, which is also a name stemmed from her hair style. Her hair makes it seem like she has a shell on her back. Usagi was nicknamed bun-head/dumpling-head/meatball-head due to the round buns in her hair.
Their names are themed, which can be taken as ripping off Sailor Moon, but is a thing in most magical girl shows. Momoko’s name means ‘peach tree child’, with her last name, Hanasaki, meaning ‘to bloom’ Her friend, Yuri’s name means ‘lily’ and her other friend, Hinagiku’s, name translates to ‘daisy’.
Momoko’s hair is styled in reference to her name (peach shaped), like Usagi has her trademark rabbit ear style. And, like Usagi’s, her hair is also insanely large.
Momoko is a princess. It hasn’t been explored yet, but she is. She’s princess of the Angel World and a descendant of Aphrodite.
Her love interest, Yousuke Fuuma, hates her at first, and the feeling is mutual, is secretly another sexy bishounen character named Viento (Wind), and their eventual blooming love is one that was met with disapproval due to their being from different worlds (he’s half demon, she’s half angel. In Sailor Moon, Serenity was princess of the moon and Endymion was prince of the earth kingdom.) Being fair, his character seems to be a legit enemy.
Since he’s an enemy, we obviously need someone else filling the Tuxedo Mask role (unless they pulled a Tokyo Mew Mew on us) and that person is Limone, whose name means Lemon in Italian. He’s, shockingly, not Momoko’s love interest in disguise, but he is Yuri’s. Being fair, his human form, Yanagiba, is lusted after by nearly every girl in school, especially our three main leads.
Their main powers are love based and the devils whom they fight hate love.
Her transformation brooch could not be more late-Sailor Moon-esque if you tried – most particularly the Crisis Moon Compact, though Eternal Moon Article and Prism Heart Compact work just as well.
And you’ll never guess what’s inside of it…..a silver crystal!
They’re not even trying to hide how blatant this is.
I’m going to give the transformation sequences a pass because it’s not a trope that started with Sailor Moon nor is the transformation scene close enough for me to care (though her transformed outfit does wrap around her in ribbons…)
I will, however, vent slightly about something that makes no sense here. Angels and demons – that’s the premise we’re working with. So why, pray tell, do the transformation sequences result in wedding dresses? Why is she called Wedding Peach? What do weddings have to do with any of this besides love being a central theme? Closest I can gather from what Pluie (Rain) said is that the dresses make them look like angels sorta kinda a little I guess. The devils must be based on divorce lawyers.
And you might be saying to yourself ‘Wow, I thought sailor uniforms were hard to fight in. A wedding dress? Are you nuts?!’ Yes, this is incredibly impractical, even moreso that usual. That’s why you don’t really see her move in it. Don’t worry, though, this outfit isn’t her main love angel uniform. There’s a fighting version of the outfit…..Why transform into this clunky disaster if they have a fighting uniform? Because the fighting uniforms don’t look wedding-y enough.
Of course, she gets a post-transformation speech and her own pose, but, again, this is common in magical girl shows.
Enough clone-age, though. How does this episode fare on its own merits?
Our lead character, Momoko, has a dream of finding her one true love and getting married with a lavish wedding because her deceased mom did…..Okay.
Her two friends, Yuri and Hinagiku whose personalities seem so interchangeable at this point that I still have difficulty remembering who was who, gush over a star soccer player named Yanagiba, fight over who will get to be with him, have an angry encounter with another soccer player named Yousuke Fuuma as they try to interview Yanagiba for the school paper, eat crepes, then Momoko gets kidnapped by Pluie, who demands her mother’s wedding ring. What significance the ring holds is not revealed in this episode.
She’s suddenly saved by an angel named Limone who starts swordfighting Pluie. As Momoko goes to tend to her friends, having been knocked out by Pluie, he possesses them both with tiny demons called Jama-P.
Limone gives her the brooch and the god of love herself, Aphrodite, tells Momoko what to do in order to save her friends. She transforms into her wedding dress, making her Wedding Peach, and she expels the Jama-P through her power, Lovely Operation Tempete. If you think that’s a stupid name, the items that give the girls their powers are called the Saint Something Four. That sounds stupid, but, believe it or not, it has a reason to sound so sloppy.
The items are based on the ‘Something…’ superstition in weddings. In order to bring the bride and groom good luck on their wedding day, a bride needs something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. Each trinket is meant to represent one of those items.
Even with the explanation, which isn’t given in this episode, by the way, I still think the name sounds silly.
We get an overly long ‘remember you’re my friends’ clip show for having only known these characters for 18 minutes, especially since a few of those minutes were dedicated to the three of them fighting over a guy. One of them even said the line ‘When it comes to love, women’s friendship is a fragile thing.’
Pluie leaves and Limone bids farewell. Momoko passes out, and Yuri and Hinagiku don’t remember anything. In typical anime fashion, they brush it off as a dream when Momoko tries to explain what happened. But the brooch in her pocket gives her proof that it was true.
As a first episode, this works very well, though I really wish they had focused more on highlighting at least some differences between Yuri and Hinagiku. Yuri’s supposedly the quiet, polite and kind one while Hinagiku is the rougher tomboy, but they only slightly hint at this. I had to go to the Wiki to really iron that out.
It’s really just your average magical girl fare down to its core. Like many magical girl shows, the changes mostly lie in the aesthetics. I have yet to read a damn thing about this show that makes me go ‘Wow, that’s unique.’ Even taking the magical girl tropes away, it’s just blah.
There are a staggering amount of similarities to Sailor Moon, and I definitely expect more to come. For instance, the enemy bishounen also seem to be themed in their names much in the same vein as The Four Heavenly Kings. Viento, who is Yousuke, means ‘wind’ while Pluie means ‘rain’. I’m stretching a bit for that because, again, Tokyo Mew Mew and some other shows also theme names fairly commonly. All they’re missing is a cute animal sidekick and a Beryl ripoff….and that’s coming.
It’s just….distracting. But is it too distracting? Mm…that’s yet to be seen.
The art and animation are par for the course for the mid nineties. I’ll at least say that didn’t remind me much of Sailor Moon, mostly just because it’s basic anime style. But what is up with Higagiku’s hair? Bright green with a weird toothpaste blob in the back? What? The animation isn’t bad. In fact….I’d actually say it’s better than the early day Sailor Moon episodes.
The music is forgettable, though fitting. It’s somewhat dated, but outside of the complete ripoff that is the OP, it’s not very reminiscent of Sailor Moon’s.
Next episode, the intro to Fighter Angel mode.
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Plot: Seventeen years ago, humanity discovered the existence of ajin; seemingly immortal beings with other superhuman abilities. Only two have been discovered so far, but interest in the ajin remains extremely high.
Kei Nagai, however, only wants to focus on being a ‘fine human.’ He wants to rid himself of frivolity and study hard to become a doctor. He’s even given up his old best friend, Kai, to achieve it.
Distracted while walking in the street, Kei is suddenly hit by a truck. Everyone watching instantly believes he’s dead. No one could survive a hit like that. Well….no one except…
Breakdown: Ajin: Demi-Human is a title I’ve heard of, but never really learned much about.
The show has a talent at capturing your attention. From the first scene, you’re sucked in by the ajin as one lone ajin takes out an army of people with ease, even taking RPG shots head-on without issue.
Then we shift to present day and our main protagonist, Kei, who is really hard to like or relate with. He has a very odd manner of speaking (Who says their main goal in life is to be a ‘fine human’?) doesn’t ever smile and is a big stick in the mud. Even when he’s a kid, he’s talks like a serial killer who’s too cynical for his age.
He has a flashback to his sister, Eriko, crying over a dead puppy and Kei basically shrugs it off and says “He was sick, so he died. It can’t be helped. Though, what’s the point of dying? Might as well not die.” He’s like six in this flashback, by the way. Not like his mom is much better. She called the puppy ‘defective’ and is the one who basically told Kei to dump Kai as a friend if he wants to be a ‘fine human.’
Kei gets a little better near the end because he actually sucks up his pride and contacts Kai for help, and he shows determination to not ever be caught by anyone, but he was trying my patience for a while.
Eriko is in the hospital for unknown reasons and seemingly hates him now. She’s unpleasant.
Kei’s ‘friends’ at school are two-faced jackasses.
The only one here who seems likable is Kai, who, despite being dumped as a friend, still goes out of his way and risks his life and future to help Kei in the end.
I don’t think I’m really spoiling anything to mention that Kei’s an ajin. He discovers this out of the blue when he gets hit by the truck. Now everyone and their brother are chasing him down.
I say this isn’t really a spoiler because the episode makes is really obvious that Kei’s an ajin even without him getting hurt or nearly killed. His focus on being a ‘fine human’ his inability to ignore news about ajin even when he flatout says he should ignore it because it has nothing to do with his studying, his suggestion that ajin are still humans despite their abilities, showing sympathy for them etc.
I’m a bit concerned that the show might lose tension with this. Immortal characters are, by default, typically boring because you’re never concerned for their welfare. Why would you? They can’t die.
So if you’re not really worried about their safety, you either have to worry about the safety of other characters, of which the only ones I’m really concerned over are Kai and maybe Eriko, or you have to make the immortal character more interesting.
As a first episode, it did introduce us to the world and characters fairly well, and it kept itself grounded enough to maintain a true sense of realism even with immortal beings as the forefront of the plot.
The art and animation are fully 3D CGI, and I have a real problem getting accustomed to that style. It works pretty well here. I don’t feel like I’m watching a half-hour long video game cutscene or anything, but I find myself being pulled out of immersion every so often when I notice the art and animation.
The music is really good so far, even if the background animations for the ED were really depressing. We just keep seeing silhouettes of people killing themselves in various ways.
While I am a little wary here as I’m concerned this will be an endless diatribe as to why humans suck, which wears on my psyche as episodes go on, I am looking forward to where this story will go.
(Status Update Pre-posting: Completed watching – will post the full anime review sometime soon.)
Recommended Audience: While there wasn’t a whole lot of graphic stuff in this episode, mostly just a couple of people getting shot and Kei getting hit by the truck, neither of which was very notable, THEM Anime Reviews warns that this should be NC-17 due to the intense amounts of gore they’ll presumably have later on, particularly when experimenting on the demi-humans. I can’t make that determination yet, so I’ll just say 16+
If you enjoy my work and would like to show your support, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Every donation goes to helping me pay my bills and keeping this blog afloat. Thank you! ♥