I Played Corpse Party: Book of Shadows and Had Opinions About it

Note: I am not a video game reviewer, so forgive my terrible format and analysis as a game. Thank you.

Recently, I reviewed the anime Corpse Party: Tortured Souls for Animating Halloween, and it got me wanting to play some of the other Corpse Party games since I really hadn’t played any of them besides the first game and basically a retooled version of the first game…again. A good place to start from there appeared to be Corpse Party: Book of Shadows since that was a direct sequel to the original (though, again, remade again) game.

So I played through the whole thing and I’m uhm…..Kinda…confused.

The game isn’t really a sequel so much as it is a pre-mid-sequel. And that’s strange because the cutscene that plays each time you load the game is directly following the events of the first game (in one of the Wrong Ends – 6*8, which leads the Kisaragi students through a time loop of the events of Heavenly Host.) Naomi is near catatonic and her mother is distraught because she keeps talking about her ‘imaginary’ friend, Seiko, when Seiko’s existence was wiped from the earth after dying in Heavenly Host. It’s basically a longer version of what we got at the end of Tortured Souls.

Each episode covers a different story. No episode intersects with another nor is there any cohesion in creating an overall plot. It’s just a lot of different stories bundled together.

Episode One: Seal

The first episode does pickup where the opening cutscene left off, kinda. Naomi did suffer from a breakdown due to the events of the first game and is desperately trying to cope with the fact that her best friend and love interest, Seiko, is not only dead, but her existence was wiped from the world. However, that’s just a blip at the beginning. The real story is about the time loop the characters are currently in.

The Wrong End that they’re basing this game off of involves several of the characters surviving the events of Heavenly Host and leaving, but, tragically, they find themselves caught in a time loop. They are damned to suffer the events of Heavenly Host over and over for all eternity.

How do you build a story out of this type of ending?

Well….You don’t, really.

Much of the story shows what happened with Naomi and Seiko before the events of the first game. They enjoyed their first ever sleepover together and bonded more. Naomi notices a strange bruise forming on Seiko’s neck, but they don’t think much of it.

Then, when they get to school the following day, the events of the first game start to transpire. The one difference is that Satoshi starts freaking out when Ayumi brings up the Sachiko Ever After ritual. He panics and says it’s a horrible idea because, somehow, Satoshi is the only one who has memories of Heavenly Host right now. He explains that they’re in a time loop, but doesn’t actually convey any important information or try to destroy the paper doll or anything. Instead, he just flips and resigns himself to doing the ritual so he can at least help try to do something in Heavenly Host.

Satoshi, by the way, never gets his own story in this game. He gets a minor role in episode three and that’s the end of his role in this game entirely.

Naomi has been experiencing some instances of deja vu, but she’s not bothered enough by it to listen to Satoshi’s words, thus they’re all set to Heavenly Host.

Once everything is set into motion, Naomi starts getting more of her memories back, and she remembers that Seiko died via hanging in the girls’ bathroom. She becomes determined to save Seiko from that fate.

I became quite intrigued when this occurred because I thought the game would be about redoing the events but the survivors regain their memories and try to save the ones who canonically died in the first game.

That is not what happened.

Well, okay, that’s not true.

That’s kinda what happens, but in a horrible, horrible way.

Naomi DOES save Seiko from being hanged, but she forgot one key detail of Seiko’s death in the first game. Naomi was actually Seiko’s killer. Naomi had succumbed to something called the darkening, which is basically a dark influence the school has on its inhabitants over time that worsens with negative thoughts, feelings and witnessing stuff like dead bodies, gore and ghosts. While Naomi was in her darkened state, she hanged Seiko in the bathrooms, but she also completely forgot about it. She later has to face what she had done and make amends with Seiko’s spirit to free herself from the darkening and leave the school.

When Naomi saves Seiko from the noose, Seiko flips out at seeing the girl who tried to kill her and runs off.

Let me back up a tad and explain that, earlier, I had to disable a piano wire trap in order to pass through certain sections of the school. One wire could not be cut, and it was a neck-height wire on the stairs.

Guess what Seiko runs into.

Yup, she’s instantly beheaded by the piano wire, much to Naomi’s horror. Sachiko explains what this time loop actually is. While it is technically a time loop where everything happens exactly the same, there are some circumstances where the people will regain their memories and try to stop those who died from meeting their ultimate fates. She explains that this is not only pointless – it’s actually ill-advised and horrible for those who died. If these people are saved from what initially killed them, the school will actually devise a way for them to die anyway in a manner that is similar to their initial death but certainly worse.

IE, Seiko originally died via hanging and now she died via beheading, and both involved the mark on her neck.

I’m not sure I agree with that, though, because I think slowly suffocating while hanging and knowing your best friend – the girl you’re in love with – put you there is worse than being quickly beheaded on accident. I get that the latter is bloodier, but still.

The end of the episode is Naomi cradling Seiko’s disembodied head as she mourns the loss of her best friend once more.

What we have established here is, for any episode involving a character who canonically died in the first game, there is no saving them whatsoever. And if they do get ‘saved’ it’s only so they can suffer a worse fate, so why even try? I thought this would be a continuing problem throughout the game, but it really wasn’t – and not for the reasons you might think.

Episode Two: Demise

The aforementioned problem shines brilliantly in this episode as we follow Mayu who was the first to die in the original game. She became a wall sloppy joe via the three children ghosts. Now that the loop is occurring, she has spotty memories of that happening. She has a very foreboding bruise on her stomach that branches outward, and she spends a good chunk of the episode being concerned about it, but tries to ignore it.

This episode did give us a really nice moment between Ayumi and Yoshiki, ending up in the two of them embracing and even falling asleep on each other, so that was really nice, but the niceness ends there.

Also, this is the only episode in which Ayumi and Yoshiki show up (well, technically Ayumi shows up later, but I’ll get to that.) so we don’t learn much else about their stories, which kinda makes sense because they both canonically survived. Also, despite Ayumi’s heightened spiritual powers, neither she nor Yoshiki has any memories of Heavenly Host, so I guess they’d just do pretty much the same things they did before, barring this one part with Mayu since she died long before anyone else came into contact with her.

Mayu and Yoshiki also rescue a girl from another school named Nana, who has similarly foreboding bruises in the forms of straight crisscrossing lines on her thighs, even though, as far as I know, she never died from that. (In the first game, she dies from having her tongue ripped out.)

Nana is in some weird trap involving her being tied to a bust on a desk. The bust is tied to a bucket of sharp items over her head. If she flails too much or if someone tries to save her recklessly, the bucket will fall and she’ll surely die from the wounds. I have no clue why she’s in this trap or who put her in it. I’d assume it was Yoshikazu, but for what purpose? Why not just kill her where she stands like he killed everyone else? Also, her original death couldn’t have been retconned to the bucket thing because then she’d have bruises all over her face, right? I just don’t understand this trap.

Anyway, the bruises get worse the closer a character is to their time of dying. Nana’s get noticeably worse and, when she goes off by herself to try and find her friends – alone, because she’s a dumbass – she gets caught by Yoshikazu and we discover why she has bruises on her thighs – Yoshikazu smashed her legs off with his giant hammer. Not sure if this is canonical either because, despite the certainty that something must’ve happened to her legs in her first death, the bruises were clean lines, which wouldn’t happen if her legs were smashed off.

That’s not even her cause of death anyway. Yes, this really, really awful injury doesn’t kill her, which just makes this death sequence all the more horrific. Mayu is forced to just sit there and watch as Yoshikazu drags Nana away as she’s screaming for help because Mayu knows Nana’s probably as good as dead anyway, and Mayu would never survive trying to go against Yoshikazu. Nana’s actual death scene comes in a different episode.

Seeing Nana get her legs lopped off like that did make Mayu significantly more concerned about her own situation. She dared to check up on her own bruises, which had gotten drastically darker in color. She even started getting one on her face. Mayu starts panicking because she knows what’s coming and is quickly realizing she won’t be able to avoid it.

Now, at this point, I was wondering how the hell you could make Mayu’s death worse. The poor girl was flung into a wall at like 60 MPH and exploded into a mass of unrecognizable guts and gore. How could that be made worse?

Well, Sachiko found a way. Mayu is cornered in the infirmary, a place she should have been avoiding anyway because that’s where the ghosts of the children initially started influencing her before they killed her. Her bruises get so bad that they start bleeding. Sachiko brings in the ghosts of the children to give her a fate worse that her original one, which is being slowly ripped apart by the bare hands of the ghosts.

Yup….yup…that’s definitely worse. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we still play as Mayu as she dies. You know the instant she passes on. It’s pretty heartbreaking.

This episode did a good job in making me care more about Mayu, but she’s still a pretty bland character. She has a love of theater, loves Morishige and is good at covering a wide range of jobs. She’s also very kind and sweet. I appreciate them giving Mayu more of a role in this game since she was pretty much just there to be the first shock death in the original game. You’d think they would’ve done more for her character originally since she was the main reason they did the Sachiko Ever After ritual, but nah.

Episode Three: Encounter

Now we’re into full prequel territory. This episode focuses on Yui Shishido, the teacher of the class that gets sent to Heavenly Host. I believe it’s the day before the events of Corpse Party go down. She’s horrendously sick, and Satoshi, through a lot of convoluted writing, ends up taking care of her in her home since she’s completely out of it. As Yui slumbers, she thinks back to when she was a student in Kisaragi Academy. She had always aspired to be a teacher, and her dream was finally becoming a reality.

She had a crush on a guy named Tsukasa, who became a close friend to her as they neared graduation.

One day, she’s approached by an old woman in the pouring rain who tries to warn her of the dangers of Kisaragi Academy. She told her to not go to school that day and even tried to give her a paper charm to protect her. Yui, ultimately, cannot heed her warnings because she had an important interview at school that day. The woman, who turns out to be Makina Shinozaki, Sachiko’s great aunt, collapses in the rain and Yui is forced to leave her mother and the paramedics to care for Makina as she goes to school. Everything with the interview goes well, but Makina dies while Yui is at school.

Later that night, Yui rushes back to school to retrieve Tsukasa’s special lucky pencil. However, as midnight approaches, she’s reminded of an old ghost story her friends were telling her about, which is the story of Yoshie, Sachiko’s mother. She haunts the school at night, and her friends thought Yoshie might target Yui specifically since she wants to be a teacher and Yoshie was a school nurse.

Sure enough, weird things start happening in the school, and Yui gets targeted by Yoshie’s spirit. With the help of Tsukasa and the spirit of Makina, Yui is able to escape, though she does still experience great pain in her arm after Yoshie tried to crush it. This whole event is played off like it was a dream. They suggest that Yui fell unconscious after getting to the school and just imagined everything that happened, but she still had a severe pain in her arm that couldn’t be explained. In the end, it’s rather sweet because she holds hands with Tsukasa in the light of the sunrise. However, we never learn what became of Tsukasa after they graduated.

Sadly, when Yui wakes up and speaks with Satoshi, we see that she has a big bruise on her arm, which is poking at the fact that her arm was crushed under the cabinet before she died in Heavenly Host. This is the only episode where Yui has a role, so we’re basically left to assume that she’s barreling towards death in the time loop too. Luckily, we don’t have to watch that here.

This is definitely the best episode in the game. I love Yui, and it was nice to see her get a sweet and happy backstory, even if she is destined for a horrible, albeit still noble and the least gratuitous of the bunch, death. I wish she ended up with Tsukasa. He was a sweetheart, and I would’ve liked her to have all the happiness in the world if she was just going to be wiped from existence later.

Episode Four: Purgatory

Focusing on Naho’s friend, Sayaka, it’s basically just a retelling of Naho’s story with lots of filler put into it. Naho is a perfectly normal girl until Kou went to Heavenly Host without her – then she just goes off the deep end, sacrificing her best friend, Sayaka, so she could go after him, and putting up the wrong instructions for the Sachiko Ever After ritual on her blog so more people would wind up in Heavenly Host as ‘samples’ for Kou to study. It’s a complete 180 that comes out of nowhere. Maybe she just snapped because she thought she lost Kou already, but there is seriously nothing properly leading up to this sudden change in behavior. I’d say maybe it was Sachiko’s influence since her presence was following her before this happened, but I can’t be certain. I’ve never seen an instance of darkening outside of Heavenly Host.

After they enter Heavenly Host, it’s just a waiting game until Sayaka dies. I say this not only because Sayaka is canonically dead in the first game, long before the group ever shows up, but also because the very first scene is of her being attacked by Yoshikazu. The rest of the episode is a flashback showing how she reached this point.

The very last scene did make me a little sad for her because that was a terrible way to go out, and Sachiko was a total bitch. Like many others in Heavenly Host, she was starting to die anyway since she spent days wandering around the school with no food or water. In the original game, she dies from succumbing to the darkening. In this game, she nearly does so but is then caught by Yoshikazu and beaten to death with his sledgehammer.

Oh and as some added misery, we witness Nana dying via getting her tongue ripped out. That poor girl can’t catch a break. It was a horrible scene to sit through….

Episode Five: Shangri-La

This episode follows Morishige throughout his time in Heavenly Host. I found this episode to be the most pointless because not only does he pretty much not do anything we don’t already know he was doing, but it doesn’t even follow his story to the end. He never finds out that this ‘beautiful’ ripped apart corpse he finds is Mayu, and he doesn’t even have any bruises on his face to indicate he’s going to smash his face into a window and kill himself in grief over her death and the realization he’s been defiling her corpse this entire time. His last lines are talking about how he’s going to just hide his corpse pictures when he gets back to the regular world instead of deleting them like he was planning to do.

Out of all of the characters who died, he’s the one I most wouldn’t mind seeing die again, but nope.

He also runs into some characters from Byakudan Senior High School, but he doesn’t really affect their story that much, other than freaking them out because he’s so creepy around corpses.

There’s an alternate ending that you have to get by going back once the episode is cleared. This ending shows Yuuya killing Fukuroi and Mitsuki, but that’s pretty much it.

Episode Six: Mire

Okay, here’s where things get a little more confusing. I thought this entire game was following the events of the Wrong End 6*8 (The time loop ending) but apparently that’s wrong. This episode takes place during the events of Wrong End 2*4, wherebasically everyone barring Ayumi either dies or succumbs to the darkening, leaving Ayumi alone and stranded in Heavenly Host because she has no one to do the ritual with. In regards to this episode in particular, this is the ending where both Yuka and Yuuya die – so most of it is stuff you’d already know if you got that ending. I never got that ending, so it was new for me, but if you did get it you’d be simply going through the motions.

We see Yuka after she’s been separated from Satoshi (Which should have been an indicator right there that we weren’t in the time loop because if Satoshi was dumb enough to let Yuka go off on her own again when he clearly has a good chunk of his memories, he’s too dumb to live.) She’s about to be killed by Yuuya, but her kindness causes him to have a breakdown. She then narrowly escapes Sachiko and Yoshikazu, not seeing Sachiko before fleeing due to a blackout.

She then gets shifted to the abandoned bomb shelter area where she comes face to face with Sachiko and decides to be kind to her since she seems to be a nice spirit, not realizing who Sachiko really is. Sachiko asks if Yuka will do anything for her and Yuka, taking a big sisterly type of role, says she will. Then Sachiko starts requesting things from her. She wants her socks because her feet are cold. She wants her shoes because her feet hurt. And she wants her hairpin because her hair keeps getting in her eyes. You’re finally given a decision in whether or not to listen to Sachiko’s requests at this point. You can either tell her she can’t have the hairpin or give it to her. Either way, Yuka dies, but the proper ending is obtained by giving the hairpin to Sachiko, which causes Yuka to start falling under the forces of the darkening. She starts giving Sachiko literally whatever she wants without question, even if she really doesn’t want to.

For example, Sachiko wants Yuka’s hair, and she obtains this by ripping her scalp nearly clean off with her bare hands. Yuka still goes on acting like this is normal, though internally she’s panicking. Sachiko asks for one more thing – her life. Yuka agrees. Yoshikazu then drops by to bludgeon Yuka in the head with his sledgehammer, killing her.

…..So…yeah this episode was also pretty pointless. All it served to do was show us more proof that Yuka is this innocent little kind angel girl before viciously caving in her head with a hammer.

Granted, it did also shows us some of Yuuya’s backstory, which can be summed up in ‘He’s always been a psychopath.’ We get a flashback to Yuuya as a child. The first thing he does of note is viciously beat up another child and laugh about it. Then he’s basically disowned by his family, though his big brother and sister still seem to care about him. Even then, Yuuya’s still a psycho. He kills ‘an animal’ (they never specify what it was) and thinks it’s funny, he gets into a fist fight with his older brother and he just generally acts like an asshole. He eventually started pretending he was a decent guy in order to fit int while secretly not giving a crap about anyone but himself.

He did, however, say he wanted a little brother or sister to see how his older siblings viewed him, which is where Yuka came in.

In this version, Yuuya kinda-ish turns good before he’s murdered by Yoshikazu, but there’s really no redeeming this guy so I didn’t care. Probably a mistake putting this episode right after the one in which, in the secret ending, he viciously stabs two of his friends to death. One of which, he actually gets pissed because she wouldn’t scream for him like he wanted. I know the darkening has some weight here, but you just confirmed he was a psychopathic murderer even before he came to Heavenly Host, so I don’t know what you want from me.

Episode Seven: Tooth

The final episode is a midquel to the first game in which we follow Tohko. I think I saved Naomi in the first game so I never got Tohko’s part. Though, according to what I read, that path just leads to a bad end anyway.

Tohko is one of several people from Byakudan Senior High School who is lost in Heavenly Host at the same time as the Kisaragi group. Yuuya is one of these students, and Tohko has a bit of a crush on him.

The story starts out with a little backstory on how they wound up doing the Sachiko Ever After ritual (though why they included Kai, a guy they all pretty much hate, I’ll never know.) We then skip forward a little bit to a point where Ryousuke has had his leg lopped off by a booby trap. They’re all frantically trying to find him some help before he bleeds out.

Long story short, Kai is an asshole who is the only person I’ve ever seen in Heavenly Host who tried to simply leave (Mayu mentioned trying to jump the fence behind the pool area to see if she could escape, but said she had a bad feeling it would either loop back around or she’d be lost in the darkness forever.) Spoiler Alert: We never really know what happened to him out there, but he comes back in a daze with his knife embedded in his chest. Tomohiro is loyal to Ryousuke to a fault and quickly goes crazy as he tries to deal with the situation. Yuuya is cool as a cucumber because he’s a psychopath, and Emi just kinda reacts to things and screams a lot. Mitsuki and Fukuroi are the only ones separated from them.

After Kai leaves them to go out the door without the others, Yuuya and Tohko return to where Ryousuke is being cared for only to find all of them with sullen faces. Ryousuke has taken a turn for the worse and they don’t believe he’ll make it even if, by some miracle, they do make it out and find help. They rush to get him out anyway, hanging on to a sliver of hope.

Tohko tries to find Mitsuki real quick before they leave since she thought she heard her calling out earlier. After she fails in her quest to find Mitsuki, she returns to the group to find that Ryousuke has passed away from his injuries.

Later, Yuuya is revealed to be full-on nutso as he kicks Ryousuke’s body down the stairs to prove that he’s actually dead to Tomohiro, who is so distraught that he refuses to believe Ryousuke is dead. Tomohiro accidentally breaks his arm by falling down the stairs in an attempt to get to Ryousuke and he flees from Yuuya, who is just standing by in eerie silence. Emi also runs from him, though she seemingly lies to Tohko about what Yuuya did – claiming Yuuya had kicked Tomohiro down the stairs and broke his arm.

Tohko then has to run from Yuuya, not believing that Yuuya did such a terrible thing, even though he also now has Kai’s bloody knife in his hands. She remains in disbelief until Yuuya starts beating her viciously with his fists. She manages to get away, but spits out one of her teeth as a result of the assault.

…..Ugh…..eh…Yuuya finds the tooth….and spends a ridiculous amount of time slowly licking it, chewing on it and finally swallowing it…….Euehgbhghdsfkjhdksajfhdslkfjhsdakfjh. It takes a lot to make me cringe and gag in horror – that did it for me. It was accompanied by gross sound effects and everything. Ugh. Why did he swallow it?! Even for a crazy person, that couldn’t have been pleasant.

Anyway, him eating the tooth is how the game ends.

No. I’m not kidding.

Well, technically, that’s how the game ends.

Before I get to that point, my thoughts on this episode are, it’s very much okay. It was nice to get a little more backstory on the other Byakudan students, but it wasn’t much and the episode just kinda stops. I’d say it’s probably the third best episode behind Encounter and Demise.

However, with this being the end, I do have to say that this game would be insanely confusing if you never played the first game. Hell, I played the first game more than once and I still ended up being confused at some points.

In regards to this being technically the final episode, there is one more episode but it’s not only locked it’s also hidden. The episodes are in a masterlist that you select one by one when you’re starting up the game (Unless you’re starting from a save file) You unlock a new episode with the completion of a previous chapter. When Tooth is done, the list is complete. There are no grayed out episodes to unlock.

However, there is one final episode, Prologue – Blood Drive, that can be revealed and unlocked under two circumstances – either 1) you have to transfer your data from a completed Corpse Party PC game (the re-re-remastered version), which I wasn’t going to do because that would mean completing the entire game again and I’ve done it more than enough on the older versions, or 2) you have to unlock every single ending in this game, which, well, fuck that.

Did I mention that this game is more of a visual novel than it is an actual game? There are hours of text scrolls that you have to go through to get to the options that present these various endings. This wouldn’t be so bad if you knew you had to do this to get the true ending and saved at each option, but I certainly didn’t know that. Hell, I didn’t even know you could save during an option until about two and half episodes in, and I never would have known there was a hidden final episode if I wasn’t reading a Wiki.

Not to mention that some endings are obtained not just through the options but also depend on whether you obtained certain items or did certain things. I know some people are completionists and would do this anyway, but a lot of people would miss out on the true ending either because they didn’t know that episode existed or didn’t want to spend hours upon hours trying to get the endings they missed.

Granted, considering this episode is called Prologue I can imagine Blood Drive would have this be their first episode, but I don’t know yet.

Prologue – Blood Drive

lol i cheetd

Okay I didn’t ‘cheat’ but I did just look up the final episode on Youtube to see what happens.

Even this episode doesn’t follow the storyline they were going for at the start of this game since it is building off the true ending where Naomi, Satoshi, Yuka, Yoshiki and Ayumi all survive, but they’re all still suffering because no one has any memories of those who were lost in Heavenly Host and any evidence they even existed is either gone or distorted (IE, any photos of them that the survivors had on their phones have the faces blacked out.)

Ayumi tells Naomi that she plans on going to the Shinozaki estate, Sachiko and Yoshie’s old house, to see if they can find anything that would help them bring their friends back. Naomi heads there with her, but when they get to the tiny quiet village they find that everyone starts acting very panicky when the Shinozaki estate is brought up. They hitch a ride with some truck driver to the estate, which is pretty far away from the main village, and the road leading there is so bad that it’s a stretch to even call it a road.

When they get as far as the truck driver can take them, they leave the truck, but the driver says he’ll wait for them since he doesn’t want to leave two teenage girls alone here, especially since it’s getting dark.

When they arrive at the estate, they’re shocked to see that the entire building was demolished. Nothing is left save for an old shed that, surprisingly, still has electricity. The shed contains some documents and such but nothing really that helpful to their cause.

It’s now dark out, so they head back to the truck, deciding to come back another time and investigate more then. However, another shock awaits them at the truck – the driver is gone, but the lights are on and the truck is running. They wait around for a bit, but it doesn’t seem like the driver is coming back. They can’t get into the vehicle to warm up and take shelter because it’s locked. They decide to head down the road on foot.

After a long while of walking, they’re devastated to find that they’ve somehow looped around back to the truck, which makes no sense to them because they were heading downhill the entire time. They try again a couple of times, but each time they loop back around to the truck.

At this point, two things are clear – the driver is seriously never coming back, and anyone would’ve just broken a window on the truck to warm up, get some shelter and maybe even just take the truck back down the hill. I mean, considering what’s happening, I can bet anything that even taking the truck would just loop them around, but it’d be smart to try.

Instead, they decide the best course of action is to go back uphill to the barn because there is electricity and some mats to sleep on until morning. Because taking shelter in the creepy abandoned shed previously owned by two murderous ghosts is very smart.

When they arrive, they get a third surprise – the Shinozaki estate is glowing and floating in front of them. Well, I guess if they can have a ghost school a ghost house isn’t to be questioned.

They decide to go in the house, which, despite being a ghost, is still corporeal. Like in Heavenly Host, everything is solid, but many of the items are secured to the floor or tables. We get some interesting background on the Shinozaki family tree. It’s filled with women who are ‘gifted’ as in they have strong spiritual powers that are linked to witchcraft. It seems Ayumi is part of Sachiko’s family afterall, which is why she has her own abilities to sense ghosts and whatnot. Ayumi also remembered her sistertelling her stories about witchcraft in the past which seemingly lines up with what they were reading. However, a weird fact about their family is that males are not born into it. Men typically marry into the family and then they all suddenly die after their child is born. Indeed, Sachiko’s father is not around and all pictures of him have his face blacked out.

They’re terrified to hear foreign footsteps around the house, so they hide in a mysterious small room which houses a creepy necromonicon-esque book – you guessed it, the titular Book of Shadows.

This is the first time the entire game that they’ve mentioned the Book of Shadows. The thing that this game is specifically named after isn’t even mentioned in the game, let alone shown, until the very end, and it’s in an episode that you might not even know exists and/or have to jump through hoops to unlock.

I am at a loss for words.

The Book of Shadows is some flesh-covered ancient tome that is filled with powerful spells. Ayumi is shocked the book is even in Japan let alone the Shinozaki’s ghost house.

Ayumi tries to read the book, but it’s mostly in French with some runes and whatnot peppered throughout. However, some notes on the side, supposedly written by Yoshie, are in Japanese. Ayumi reads for a bit and then, I’m not even kidding here, basically just says to herself “Eh…that’s good enough. Let’s raise the dead.”

And they do just that. They start a ritual to bring their friends back to life. All they need is a pentagram, some candles, three paper dolls to represent the two of them and their intended target and a photo of the deceased followed by a long, long, long spell. They decide to bring back Mayu first. Surprisingly, the spell works, but not really.

Like so many times with hinky witchcraft resurrections, the ‘Mayu’ they brought back isn’t really Mayu. Remember how I said any photos of the people who died in Heavenly Host had their faces blacked out? This Mayu has a blacked out face. She just kept calling for Morishige over and over until she suddenly fell to the ground. Bright red runes start appearing all over Mayu’s body and she pretty much exploded and died again.

Before they can even process what happened, those same runes appear on Ayumi’s body. Saw blades and screwdrivers from the shed start piercing those markings in an effort to kill her.

The paper doll that represented Ayumi is on fire. Believing this to be the cause of the problem, Naomi tries her best to extinguish the fire, but she’s unsuccessful. Naomi’s paper doll starts catching fire next, meaning they’re both sure to die in mere moments. Just then, Ayumi’s sister, Hinoe, bursts in and extinguishes the flames with a special powder, saving them both, even though Ayumi is still badly wounded. (How did she even know they were there?)

Ayumi cries in her sister’s arms, and all seems well and good…..

Until Hinoe’s head explodes.

I don’t know why.

And that’s the actual end of the game, which, like I said, is really a teaser for the following game, Blood Drive.

This was a pretty good episode. And it actually was a, get this, SEQUEL to the original game. Go figure. And no, I don’t count the time loop episodes as being sequels. They didn’t accomplish anything and they took place during the original game, technically.

Don’t get me wrong, the stories they had to tell here were okay for the most part, but besides Yui’s backstory and Mayu’s episode, I don’t feel like I really got much out of playing the game as a whole. There was no cohesion between the episodes, which can be fine but they went a bit too out of whack for my tastes, especially considering they’re building off a game with numerous endings and not sticking to one ending to act as its base. Plus, they ended on a completely random note.

It just baffles me that the one episode you’d think would be necessary to this game is actually hidden and requires a bunch of work to unlock. I’m not really angry at it, I’m just confused. This whole game confuses me.

Gameplay

It’s pretty standard point and click. Each room and hallway is a static screen. Your cursor turns into a reticle, and you enter into a scanning mode. In this mode, you can click on anything interactable and find key items, disable traps, read messages etc. Nearly all of the important items are marked with shining lights, making them even easier to suss out. There are some minor ‘puzzles’ you have to solve in order to move forward, but they’re very easy to figure out. I only got stuck twice, and even then it was just a matter of me not knowing I had to interact with something a second time to get what I needed.

You move through the rooms by bringing up your map via the center mouse button and selecting which room you want to travel to. Some areas are blocked off for whatever reason – locked doors, gaping holes in the floor, booby traps etc. And you either have to wait for a shift to occur to change the dimension in order to pass, or you have to find some way to unlock the door, get across the gap etc.

There were two timed events near the start of the game. I really thought they’d introduce more mechanics like that or increase the time crunch as the game went on, but sadly those were the only ones in the game and no other game mechanics were introduced. You also have an inventory, but it’s more or less pointless besides to show you that you still hold certain items in case you’re restarting after a Wrong End or something.

In addition to quick saves occurring after certain events, you can also save at any time by right-clicking – and I suggest you do this at pretty much any option screen in order to save yourself if you get a Wrong End or to help you along if you want to get every ending.

Final Thoughts

I did enjoy myself while playing this game, but it just seems like a jumbled mess of side stories instead of being a proper sequel to the original game. While some episodes did offer interesting perspectives and fleshed out some of the more minor characters further, I didn’t really care about what was presented to me outside of Yui’s backstory and Mayu’s episode. Most of the characters from Byakudan are pretty boring. Kai is interesting, but he’s also an asshole who really only gets one or two scenes of focus before he’s stabbed. I guess I also liked Fukuroi and Mitsuki, and they got a decent amount of focus, but it wasn’t worth the price of admission, ya know?

I’m also a bit disappointed that this is mostly a visual novel instead of being an RPG like the other games were. I can kinda forgive a lackluster story in a game if the gameplay is fun, but there really isn’t much to the point and click aspect. There are some interesting notes that you can read throughout, but that’s about it. Apparently Blood Drive is in more of an RPG format, so we’ll see how I do there.

Screencaps Courtesy of the Corpse Party Fandom Community.


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Yosuga no Sora Arc Breakdown Episode 7 (Foundation of Nao and Sora’s Arcs)

YNS Ep 7 Screen1

Plot: Branching back to episode one, this episode creates the building blocks of Nao’s arc and Sora’s arc. Nao and Haru are developing feelings for each other again after being separated for four years, but a sin in Nao’s past from that last summer with Haru is haunting her. In addition, Sora does not support their budding romance at all to say the least.

Breakdown: I want to explore this topic all in one go since it’s so heavy and complicated, so be warned that this part of the review will spoil some parts of Nao’s arc, if you care.

One of the reasons I was very wary of addressing this episode wasn’t simply that rape is a part of it. I’ve talked about that several times already, and even though I still don’t like discussing it, I feel like I can do so without much hesitation. The actual reason was because 1) The rape is a big part of the backstory of the NaoxHaru pairing and 2) the rape in question is of the kind in which I have very little knowledge. It’s such an odd circumstance that I had great difficulty broaching the topic, especially in regards to any future relationship between the two.

I did my best, is all I can say. Which is at least better than what the writers did.

While episode seven does technically set the foundation of Nao and Sora’s arcs, unlike episode two which was pretty evenly set between Kazuha and Akira in regards to romantic development, episode seven is extremely slanted towards Nao to the point where it could technically just be a part of her arc entirely. In fact, Nao and Haru are officially together by the end of the episode, which is another thing that will make Sora’s arc all the more painful.

Haru and Nao knew each other from when he last visited the village as a child. One day, Nao ran away from her house after hearing her parents arguing again. She went to Haru’s house where he was laying in the doorway to the porch. Suddenly, we cut to her on top of him and she just….rapes him.

YNS Ep 7 Screen2

There is literally no more to that backstory. She was upset, she found Haru and raped him. She appears happy after it happens and only expresses guilt and shame after she sees Haru sprawled out on the floor with his shorts down with an empty look on his face.

Now…first and foremost, obviously rape is wrong. There is no arguing that. There is also no argument that boys can’t be raped for any stupid reason like guys are too strong in comparison to girls to be raped, or guys always want sex anyway so they can’t be raped. Those are incredibly harmful mindsets that only perpetuate the problem and stigma of sexual assault against men and boys.

What Nao did was wrong. She realizes this too late, but she does realize this.

The circumstances, however, and the lack of details make me question how drastically this skews my opinion on….pretty much everything involving Nao’s arc.

They’re twelve here (they’re 16 now and this happened four years ago), and she obviously knows what sex is because she easily does it (she’s on top) and is even guiding him to grope her breasts. However, is she too young to understand that forcing sex on someone is wrong, even when it’s a female on male situation? Is she even making the connection that Haru doesn’t want this due to his seeming lack of resistance? She understands afterward and he didn’t really change his expression the entire time, so what dots aren’t connecting here?

Note – I’m not saying lack of resistance or negative response is consent, it’s certainly not, but is she at an age where she knows this and can process this?

I feel kinda shitty thinking about this so hard, because I think, if the circumstances were reversed (IE the genders were reversed), my knee-jerk reaction would be one of anger and blame without really taking into consideration the age or maturity level.

YNS Ep 7 Screen3

My position here is pretty frustrating, though, due to the lack of information. For all I know, she went there intentionally and planned to have sex with him because she saw him as a comfort to the arguing we heard for all of 10 seconds, I guess, instead of just stumbling upon him and making the quick decision to jump him for comfort. All I know for certain is that she had sex with him to make herself feel better about her home life.

Even the Wiki page is very low on details about this or her connection to Haru. “When the Kasugano twins last visited the area, their departure was particularly painful for Nao, who, for some reason, had grown quite close to Haruka, after having raped him on one occasion, about which she expresses guilt.”

I briefly flipped through episodes eight and nine to get a better idea of this situation. I did get a tiny bit more insight into why Nao liked Haru back then, but it’s super short and kinda stupid. He comforted her when she was crying once and, not lying, said she was prettier when she smiled. Plenty basis for a crush. Not so much on the rape.

This problem still extends into present time. Nao feels guilty about what she did, and has since that day, which is why she tries to shoot down any suggestion that Haru has feelings for her or that they should get together. However, she still starts a relationship with Haru. She is plenty old enough to know what rape is now, and she SHOULD be fully aware that she raped him. Starting a relationship with Haru, even if he seems game, should be the last thing she should think about doing. No basis of a healthy relationship involves rape.

In addition, once you reach the ending you get the idea that she moreso thought Haru hated her for what she did or that he simply didn’t like the sex or her, not that she wanted to avoid a relationship with him out of guilt and shame for, ya know, being his rapist.

I didn’t want to paint Nao as a monster if she really didn’t understand what she was doing, but I also DEFINITELY don’t want it to seem like I’m giving her a pass or over-sympathizing with her because she’s a girl – that’s completely unfair.

One of the main factors that helped clear the air for me was, oddly enough, Sora’s view on this.

YNS Ep 7 Screen4

In episode eight, we’ll learn that Sora was watching the rape as it happened. Two things are brought to light that solidified that I do indeed need to press Nao as badly as I would in any normal situation because of what was said regarding the situation in Sora’s memory of it.

Keep in mind, Sora is the same age as Haru and Nao.

The first was what Sora says about her view on the situation:

Sora: “I didn’t know what you were doing at first (Nao knew what she was doing) but I knew you were doing something bad.” It’s possible that she was just talking about sex being something they shouldn’t be doing, but in the end she knows that this situation is bad, which is something Nao should know. What they are doing is wrong. She’s ignoring Haru’s reactions until the deed is already done and never stops to realize he’s not actively participating or question why – she just keeps going.

The second was something Nao says in this flashback. You distinctly hear Nao say “I’m sorry.” while the rape is happening. She’s off-screen, but there’s no reason for her to say that unless she’s realizing that there’s something wrong about what she’s doing.

So, logically, her sudden mood shift after the act from happiness to remorse is either her delusion fading, something isn’t matching properly in continuity or she was satisfied with herself without realizing what she did to Haru or taking his feelings into consideration, which is very feasible. Remember, she only went into this to get comfort for herself and assumed Haru would be good with it.

Back to….I guess I’ll say ‘motive,’ I’m certainly not going to give her a pass for whatever fleeting emotional stress she was going through because her parents were arguing a lot at the time. Many parents argue a lot, some of which to point of physical violence and constant disdain, and their children don’t suddenly burst into the rape scene. Running away like she did? Gotcha. Understandable. Crying? Definitely. Rape? No. It would be a stretch to say any 12 year old in her shoes would even seek consensual sex (with someone her age) in this situation.

And lastly, when Nao finally apologizes for it (which is in this episode) it’s not treated as a rape. Haru says he didn’t dislike it. He was just nervous because it was his first time and couldn’t say anything or even react much, I guess even several moments after it was over too. And immediately after saying that, he says they can finally move on.

YNS Ep 7 Screen5

Fuck you, Yosuga no Sora. You just dropped child on child rape onto my head and made me damn near go insane trying to properly approach this topic and write about it with respect, fairness, and understanding while still maintaining the seriousness of the situation and attributing proper blame to it, only for me to find out that you took this same topic, wiped your ass with it and flushed it down the toilet.

Let me admit something here. I know the ED for this show is usually around the 20 minute mark because of the omake and the two separate EDs, and I jumped the gun a little writing this analysis because I had a lot to say and wanted to write it out while I was still in the proper mindset. So I stopped the video at 18 and a half minutes, right after they fall on each other in the locker room. I knew they kissed after this and what happened in the short scene with Sora at the very end, since I had seen it flipping through, so I thought I was safe to start writing. I got a bit out of hand before it was too late, because that’s just what happens with me sometimes.

I only had one and half minutes – count it – ONE AND A HALF MINUTES left on the runtime for this episode when I felt the need to start writing. As I was wrapping up this part, I finish off the episode and suddenly there’s the resolution to the rape plot – written away as if it’s not even a rape plot, so let’s move on. Fuck you.

Rape is such a difficult topic to be included in stories without feeling gratuitous for shock value or for the sake of sex and fanservice, and this one just feels like it was for sex and fanservice, which is disturbing because these are kids. Ultimately, the rape was a plot device written to give a reason for Nao’s initial reluctance to get together with Haru and an additional reason for Sora to hate Nao and be afraid of her relationship with Haru – both of which can EASILY be accomplished with even more weight without the rape.

YNS Ep 7 Screen6
Hahahaha, not addressing serious issues of sexual assault on minors with any sort of gravity is hilarious.

Have Haru and Nao get really close and spend a ton of time together while Haru is visiting because her parents are always fighting and she needs a distraction, cheering up and comfort. Have Haru accidentally neglect Sora during this time because of all the time he’s spending with Nao. Maybe break a promise or something. Then have Nao think Haru hated her because he broke a promise to do something with her too because he went to do something with Sora to make up for neglecting her or something. Haru was unable to figure out anything was wrong or mend bridges with Nao before he left for home that summer. Then Haru and Nao clear up the misunderstanding four years later when they’re lead to the pool by Ryouhei and Akira.

Boom. Done. A rapeless equally effective setup.

I’m done talking about this stupidity. I am legitmately angry. Partially at myself because I wrote this much for a plot that is basically swept under the rug, but I didn’t want to blow by it either. Unlike the writers, I actually give a few shits.

As for how this affects my view on what happens between them in Nao’s arc, well, I don’t support any relationship where it’s a rapist and his/her victim getting it on. Even if this circumstance in particular is iffy, I don’t support it. The resonance this should have with Haru and Nao won’t come to pass. It will not be felt at all beyond this point other than with Sora and I couldn’t give a frog fart about Sora’s feelings.

Oh yeah, I have to save some anger because we still haven’t talked about Sora’s role here.

Sora’s still a useless inactive waste of molecules. Since this is also the foundation of Sora’s arc, we get more fanservice with the continuation of the uncomfortable undressing scene from episode one that stupidly results in her asking him to get her measurements (neither version explains what the hell she was talking about with the ‘Let me come’ stuff.)

In this version, she actually kills the mosquito she was chasing in episode two by slapping it across Haru’s face, which is at least better than creating a bomb out of her room with endless hair spray. However, we also get more fanservice as she itches a bug bite on her upper thigh.

Since there’s so much focus on Haru’s relationship with Nao here, Sora obviously gets very jealous, childish and pissy. I can’t believe I had to hear Haru tell Nao that Sora is ‘cranky because she just woke up.’ Keep talking about her like the toddler she seemingly believes she is – you’re just going to make me more uncomfortable during her sex scenes in her arc.

She gets mad that Nao sews her uniform buttons on (It’s a school tradition for girls to do it themselves, like I mentioned before, but Sora and Haru both don’t know how, so in this version Nao did it.) This does drive Sora to teach herself how to sew, but it’s never made clear if she actually succeeds or not.

And, uh, that’s it.

Oh no.

Hang on.

Wait.

I did mention that there was a tiny bit with Sora at the very end of the episode. Yes, yes.

After Haru and Nao make up about the rape and make out at the pool, we cut to Sora who is typing at her computer.

Guess what she’s doing.

She’s typing “I hate Nao.” obsessively, over and over, like she’s in The goddamn Shining.

YNS Ep 7 Screen7

How can anyone with an ounce of sanity or intelligence in their bodies like this insane possessive little leech?

Oh and the cherry on top? The Motoka omake today also basically includes a rape scene on Haru. She rips his clothes off out of nowhere, literally jumps him while stripping and after that we hear non-sexy screams from Haru coupled with very fast bed squeaking sounds before cutting to them sleeping naked in bed. Then Motoka feels deep shame for taking advantage of Haru while she was in a drunken rage, calling herself a terrible person….

…..THEN HARU BLAMES HIMSELF FOR IT. Because he was busy or neglecting her or whatever (They’re dating at this point).

In any other episode, I probably wouldn’t have gotten too angry at this, but this piled on top of the Nao stuff just cemented the insulting feeling all the more. So, one more time, fuck you, Yosuga no Sora.

Oh and yeah, can’t forget the lovely people in the comments section of the website I watched this on, where any time someone pointed out the rape it was met with either wishing they were Haru or acting like it wasn’t a problem because it was girl on guy, or acting like it wasn’t a rape because his lack of verbal or physical resistance and response basically implied consent to them.

Remember, kids. Never read the comments section if you treasure your brain cells.

Next up is Nao’s arc. I can’t promise I’ll be any less angry. I hope I got most of it out here. If Nao’s arc requires just as much of my anger reserves, I’ll probably die trying to do Sora’s.


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Yosuga no Sora Arc Breakdown Episodes 5 and 6 (Akira’s Arc)

YNS EP 4

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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Yosuga no Sora Arc Breakdown – Episode 2 (Base of Kazuha and Akira’s Arcs)

YNS EP2

Plot: Starting off the branching storylines of Kazuha and Akira, Haru gets to know the girls better and becomes very curious as to what they really are to each other.

Breakdown: I mentioned in my Episode One-Derland entry for this series that I was going to continue looking into this show on my own while also denying giving it the green light to continue because I, personally, wanted to see how screwed up this series got. I finished episode five when I realized something very odd about this anime.

You remember in my review of Amnesia where I said the format was perfect at least in regards to letting the MC date all of the possible suitors (or explore all of the visual novel dating routes) without cheating or seeming like a tramp because she could cross dimensions and take over the life of the heroine from that world where she was currently dating one of the guys? Yosuga no Sora does something similar, but it doesn’t even bother trying to actually frame the different routes with some other plot.

Instead it just opens a new story where Haru is entering into a relationship with one of the girls. When the story is over, or when the two of them crotch wrestle, they end the story, even putting ‘The end’ on the screen and the next episode starts a new route.

There are three episodes detached from this structure, according to the incredibly helpful flow chart on the Wiki (Thanks for that, whoever made it!) The only way these arcs are framed is through episodes one, two and seven. One introduces the full story and branches off into either two or seven. Two, our episode today, is our gateway into the Kazuha and Akira arcs. Seven is the gateway to the Nao and, yes, Sora arcs.

Since the structure is as such, I thought it might be better to review the series in segments based on arc instead of eventually reviewing the entire thing as a whole. However, episode two is one of the base episodes, so we don’t really have an arc to review here.

So what does episode two entail, you might ask? Not a lot.

Sora proves what a clingy, creepy and useless human being she is yet again. Haru leaves for school, and he’s not more than three steps out the door before she’s screaming bloody murder…over a mosquito. If you know me, you know I absolutely deplore mosquitoes and even I would never freak out a fraction as badly as she is in this scene over one. And yes, it’s just one.

But that’s not all – she’s absolutely filling her bedroom with spray trying to kill it……Hair spray.

And when Haru tries to go off to kill it, she vehemently refuses to not cling to him, in her flimsy might-as-well-be-lingerie nightgown. Oh and later she gets all pissy when Haru texts her and says he’ll be a bit late because he’s stopping off at Akira’s place to get mosquito netting for her.

Then, when Kazuha comes over to sew the buttons on Sora’s school uniform, because Sora can’t do that either, of course, Sora just pouts in other rooms….and eats a popsicle in a suggestive manner…..Then later has a pouty tantrum when he gives her the uniform.

As Haru’s off in school having all the girls, though in this case Kazuha and Akira, try to hide that they’re all swampy for him, Sora stays at home being bored, lazing about and eating chips. If only there was a place people her age could go to spend time during the day. Doing productive things like learning and socializing. Oh my bad, she couldn’t go to one of those places even if they did exist because she is so clearly too weak and sickly. Look at her, running around like crazy over a mosquito and not even coughing in a room filled with hair spray. Why isn’t she hospitalized? 😐

(Being fair, by the end of the episode, she is in school, but it still miffs me that she was ever kept out of school for that excuse in the first place.)

Other than Sora, we have the plot with Kazuha and Akira, showing off their dynamic as friends. Akira is very much a people pleaser, typically tending to the needs of others before thinking of herself, and everyone asks her for help with various things so she tends to leave herself to the wayside quite often, even refusing to go to excuse herself to the bathroom when someone needs help. In addition, she’s an ‘orphan’ who lives alone in a massive shrine, meaning she’s forced to take care of herself, though she does have Akira and the local candy shop owner, Hiro, looking after her.

Meanwhile, Kazuha is very proper and responsible, basically to the point of nagging and scolding Akira all the time, but she actually cares very deeply for Akira and wants her to be happy and healthy.

It’s a bit weird in regards to setting up the two arcs, because it puts quite a bit more focus on Akira than it does Kazuha but Kazuha is the arc that occurs first. Akira is my favorite character, so I guess setting up her story better is a good thing, but it’s still weird.

Also, they’re cleaning the pool this episode so wet fanservice abounds. Also also, they purposely make it sound like Akira and Kazuha are having sex in the changing room because audio fanservice.

And then the bomb is dropped that Kazuha and Akira might actually be sisters.

————————————

Admittedly, this episode was a lot better than the first one. It’s still covered in every breathing human with a vagina lusting after Haru (Except, refreshingly, Hiro, but she’s just rude so it even out on annoyingness.) but the plot with Kazuha and Akira is actually quite interesting and leaves me intrigued to learn more.

Sora is once again the weakest link here because she’s obnoxious in her nothingness. She’s so useless and overly clingy I’m surprised she’s able to breathe without Haru inflating and deflating her lungs for her. She is probably the closest I’ll ever get to finding a character as useless and flat as Herione from Amnesia.

The other incredibly annoying character was Ryouhei who’s only purpose in this show so far is to be as big of a pervert as humanly possible. That’s it. Every line out of his mouth is somehow perving on one of the girls. What is it with harems and having the main guy have an obnoxious pervert friend? Usually it’s to make the horrible scumbag main character look better by comparison, but there’s nothing really wrong with Haru so I don’t understand his purpose.

Also, the little short omake animation with Motoka the maid has her showing off her panties to Haru and grabbing Haru’s ding-dong totally ‘on accident.’ Lovely. She’s an adult, by the way. They never confirm her age, but she’s old enough to drink and he’s 16.

(Final note: I’m aware Haru’s name is actually Haruka, but he keeps getting called Haru so I’ve taken to calling him that.)

Coming up next, a full review of the Kazuha arc, episodes 3 and 4.


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Amnesia Review

Rating: 3/10

Plot: A girl loses her memory after bumping into a fairy named Orion. She tries to get through her regular activities without alerting anyone, but soon finds out that she has a boyfriend, and hiding the secret from him proves difficult. She spends about a month with him before suffering from an accident which suddenly causes her to appear at the beginning of the same month, in a different world with a different boyfriend. The pattern keeps repeating over and over, reliving the same month with different boyfriends in slightly different worlds suffering from a terrible accident before repeating the pattern again. Will she regain her memory and find her real world?

Breakdown: I was going to review this show, but I FORGOT what I was gonna say! 😀

Oh fine.

Amnesia is simultaneously terrible and perfect.

Not a perfect show – oh god no, I mean a perfect adaptation of an otome game….to a degree.

Amnesia is indeed based on an otome or reverse harem dating sim game of the same name with a very similar plot. Like most dating sims, the player chooses who they end up dating by a series of choices. The story is tailored to your selections. When you do this, you choose a specific ‘route’ in the game and, after a certain point, this route can’t really be changed much.

There’s a severe problem in adapting dating sims to anime. Because the player can freely choose which guy or girl they go after, there’s usually no one you’re ‘supposed’ to be choosing – no specific route you’re ‘meant’ to take. That’s kinda the point. The player chooses who they want based on their own preferences.

Because of this, most dating sim adaptations go down one of two routes; Have the main character, IE The Player, go after all of them equally and turn out to be a cheating douchenozzle because of it (EX: White Album and School Days) or you can force a main relationship, pre-select a mixed ‘route’ if you will, and have the main character get into all sorts of wacky accidental-romantic situations that you won’t care about because you know the person will go with the guy or girl that was obviously selected from the get-go.

This show is ‘perfect’ in a way as an adaptation because they allow the main character to date all of the eligible bachelors without cheating or seeming like a whore. This is achieved through the magic of alternate realities.

The main character – and I know I’m avoiding saying her name, trust me, I’ll get to that in a minute – is bumped into by a fairy named Orion. The contact ends up giving her amnesia of her entire life. She deals with this for a bit and finds out that she’s dating a guy, but after a month goes by she nearly dies and ends up waking up in an entirely new reality, back at the start of the same month, where she’s dating a different guy. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So, it’s not cheating, because she’s living an entirely new life in an alternate reality! Yay space/time continuum!

That being said, this show really is just consecutive ‘routes’ played out and all of them are purely about the guy with a little peppering of how the main character affected their lives. At least until we get to Toma and Ukyo anyway.

On that note, we really have to address the characters and the various ‘routes’, but before we do I need to address the art because I’ll be including pictures.

The art is fairly unique, beautifully detailed and very pretty, but when it comes to the character designs, it’s almost too pretty. The eyes all have this weird thing going on where the colors are glaringly bright, and many characters have gradients in their eyes that make them two completely different (insanely bright) colors. It, in no way, looks natural and it’s incredibly distracting.

Then there’s the little light gradients of colors like pink and purple that usually go into the hair and clothes. I feel like most of these people are made of leaking highlighters.

One thing anime has taught me is tolerance for insanely stupid and illogical clothing choices. While the clothing isn’t too bad a lot of the time, there are some characters here and there that look more suited to be in an MMORPG than a mystery/reverse harem anime. A lot of black, bright neon colors like yellow, lime green and orange, lots of horizontal and vertical black stripes (on top of the neon colors, of course) and checker patterns for whatever reason. One character is quite literally covered in belts from head to toe.

LOOK AT HIM! How long does it take him to get dressed in the morning!? I counted, he has 25 BELTS ON HIS CLOTHES! And that’s not counting the latches on his boots which may or may not be belts as well. And there’s 10 belts merely on his left arm. I think there actually may be more hidden on his back! And this is the character most known for being incredibly logical!

Shin also wears two belts on his neck while one of the female characters wears at least six on her clothes as well.

At least Orion is supernatural, so he has an excuse for looking like a court jester’s LSD chugging nephew, but wow. Did the Joker open a Hot Topic or did the Shuffle Alliance lose their minds?

*cough* On that note, let’s get to the characters.

This is our main character. She starts out–…..Oh sorry hang on.

Uhm, I’m getting word that I put up a picture of a cardboard box instead of the main character. I’m almost certain that’s her….No?….Seriously? You’re right, the box is far more interesting. Sorry.

THIS is our main character. And she…..is the biggest….most obvious Mary Sue….I have ever seen in my entire life. You wanna know how I know that?

She has.…

 

 

 

No.…

 

 

 

 

 

Name.

You heard me. She is never given a name ever in the series. She also doesn’t have any in the game. She’s known only as ‘the heroine’ or ‘Heroine’ to make it more personal. She has a couple of fan names, but not an official one, and over the series she’s either called ‘Senpai’ or a pronoun.

She has quite literally no personality. She’s incredibly quiet and when she does speak she never raises her voice or puts any personality into her words. I get it, she has amnesia. Thus she wouldn’t be able to project as much of her original personality, but that doesn’t mean she should have zero personality whatsoever, and it doesn’t make her anymore enjoyable to watch. It gets unbelievably old really fast.

Watching paint dry on an unsalted cracker narrated by Ben Stein would be far more interesting than watching this chick for more than five minutes. I never thought lack of character would be so irritating, but Heroine pulls it off without a hitch. Bravo.

She has varying personalities and backstories in the different realities. However, the one we see has the same annoying as crap non-personality of barely ever speaking a complete sentence or speaking at all, never changing her tone, never getting angry or emotional, always speaking in such a soft and barely audible voice while hardly ever changing expression.

That very situation is why she gets an out in regards to the question of ‘Why do all of these guys like this completely boring and generic girl?’ It’s simply because they know her as someone who’s supposedly interesting.

I get annoyed by bitchy characters and jerks. I get annoyed by characters who act like idiots and think they’re funny, but I can usually ignore characters who have no personality. The main problem here is that the personality-less person is not usually the main friggin’ character. How can you even give a shit about what’s happening to her or who she really is or what her true memories really are when she doesn’t even seem to really care? How do you care about someone who, by all means, is just nothing? How do you care about her relationships with these guys if she shows no actual interest in any of them? If she just instantly ignores her previous reality’s boyfriend for the next? If she even thinks of anything at all. It is by far the biggest issue in this series.

For a rantier rant on Heroine, see my entry on her for The Salty Anime Challenge.

The guys in the series are based on card suits. In fact, their specific routes are labeled as such; diamond, hearts, spade, clubs/clovers and joker. Why?

The first boyfriend is arguably the most boring with Shin, the heart route. Shin’s somewhat abrasive and a bit closed off, but he’s still a kind person who is childhood friends with Heroine. The Heroine in the hearts reality is apparently a nice girl who joined a band and liked to sing, though apparently she wasn’t good at it and only recently got somewhat decent.

I’d like to point out that the Wiki notes that as her only skill. Something she’s only passable at and only exists in one reality is her character’s only notable skill. Geez, her blandness might be affecting her alter personalities.

Shin’s big backstory is that his dad killed a man when Shin was a kid. Because of that, he was bullied and most kids kept away from him either on their own or because of their parents. Only Heroine and his other childhood friend, Toma, stuck by him. Eventually Heroine and Shin started dating a few months prior to the start of the hearts route.

That’s pretty much it. I honestly don’t know why he’s seen as the most canon choice outside of Ukyo.

The second boyfriend is a little more interesting with Ikki, the spade route. Ikki is the resident bishie god that every girl adores. In fact, one of the few plot lines that runs through most of the stories is Ikki’s batshit insane ‘fan club’ who bully Heroine quite often either because she’s friends with Ikki or because she’s dating him, depending on the route. They do all sorts of awful things to her and she just takes it instead of confronting them or trying to retaliate or telling anyone because that would require her actually doing something.

Ikki’s story is that he wished on a star as a child that girls would love him and he soon found that his wish came true. He could instantly gain the heart of any woman that he wanted if they looked into his eyes. In fact, he wears sunglasses in his route sometimes to combat this ‘condition.’

Because of this ‘power’ he found he couldn’t get close to people either due to his popularity and rabid fangirls or because he figured anyone who did love him would just be under the power of his charms. He eventually just decided to screw it and dated a bunch of different girls, gaining the reputation of a playboy.

The Heroine in this route didn’t fall for his charms, which peaked Ikki’s interest as he’d never been rejected by a girl. He decided he’d do his damnedest to get her to love him. In the visual novel, this is apparently because she had a playboy father and didn’t like that attitude, but this is never stated in the anime.

Ikki’s personality is pretty bland. He’s a nice guy, polite and really calm, but that’s about it.

The third boyfriend is more interesting in terms of their actual relationship, which was a surprise, with Kent, the clubs. Kent is a very intelligent mathematics major who is pretty damn robotic, yet he still has eons more personality than Heroine. That is just amazing.

In my opinion, he’s actually the most interesting and entertaining character in the show.

He’s very logical, blunt and cold, yet is still fairly kind and caring when he wants to be. His relationship with Heroine almost seems to be like a training session for Kent to be more human as he’s slowly learning how to act more normal and warm to people the longer he’s with her.

He is completely clueless when it comes to their relationship, and he frequently does awkward things like constantly text her ‘good night’ and ‘good morning’ by her wishes without ever including any other messages, or sitting in complete silence in his office with Heroine for hours at a time while he studiously works because he noted she wanted to spend more time together. It’s not that he’s an asshole, he just legitimately doesn’t know what to do.

Sometimes this awkwardness is cute and funny, but other times it’s just awkward.

Heroine, in this reality, isn’t really well-explored. What a shock. She’s apparently not very upfront with her wishes in their relationship, and they frequently argued mostly in regards to his awkward and cold nature. Oddly enough, the amnesiac Heroine’s kindness or lack of yelling gives Kent hope that he can have a good relationship with the other Heroine as well when she jumps to another reality.

 

*exasperated sigh*…..Ahhhh…Tomaaaa….

Toma is the fourth ‘boyfriend’ and the prompt of the diamond route. Toma’s a pretty cool character in the few other times you see him in other realities, mostly the heart route, as he’s a pretty easy going and fun loving character. In fact, I was really looking forward to his reality, and he was in the front running for my favorite character. In this route, he’s still basically like that…for a bit.

In this route, Ikki’s fan club is out in full force because they don’t like how nice he is to Heroine. It’s hinted throughout the route that this reality’s Heroine is cheating on Toma with Ikki in secret and his fan club is getting agitated with her. They start pulling a bunch of awful pranks on her like filling her mailbox with garbage everyday and giving out her personal information online to shady people who seem to think she’s an escort or something. Toma has been protecting her from these pranks, but there’s a few issues here.

First of all, he is not really her boyfriend in this reality. Neither is Ikki. She just assumed Toma was her boyfriend here because she’s gotten used to the shtick and Toma rolled with it because he was in love with her, subsequently taking advantage of her amnesia. The Heroine in this reality is again childhood friends with Shin and Toma but liked Toma more because of how much he cared for her. In fact, she’d cry on purpose to get Toma to pay attention to her. However, she didn’t like the fact that he always seemed to like her as a friend or sister and never saw her as a woman, so she was asking Ikki in secret for advice on the matter.

Second, Toma becomes completely obsessed with ‘protecting’ her and keeping her away from Ikki.

How obsessed? Well, let’s see – he steals her cell phone and makes her believe that she broke it, takes advantage of her amnesia to pretend that they’re boyfriend and girlfriend, practically needs to be where she is at all times, makes several comments in a rapey vein about how, since he’s a man, he can’t control himself around her, practically demands that they be together 24/7, drugs her regularly to make her sleep so she’ll stay with him, oh and there’s that little thing about KEEPING HER IN A DAMN CAGE AGAINST HER WILL FOR DAYS! An actual cage! Look!

EMOTE, YOU REACTIONLESS SACK OF BRAN FLAKES!

This just….what the hell?! Oh and if that’s not bad enough, in addition to Heroine being so stupid that she hears Orion warning her about Toma drugging her and not to eat or drink anything he gives her and just decides to do it anyway without a thought, because she’s a massive dumbass, her response to all of this is just ‘aw, but he just wants to protect me. I’ll forgive him for everything even though he probably would’ve imprisoned me forever and maybe raped me if he never found the diary.’

He actually says lines like this:

“If I take all of you by force, will you see nothing but me? Or will you break?

If I can’t protect you, should I break you?”

But of course little miss ‘dumb as a brick with about as much personality’ doesn’t get angry at this at all. She doesn’t even seem scared. She has the same reaction that she does to everyfuckingthing. ‘Well, this is happening now.’

And you wanna know something else? Something really creepy? Toma is a fan favorite character….BECAUSE OF THIS. I thought it was in spite of this, but no, you can find all sorts of ‘Toma: The Obsessed’ fan stuff out there. What is wrong with you people!? I liked Toma a lot too, but that was before all of this stuff. Seek help!

I just realized that hat makes him look like a taxi driver.

WARNING: We’re touching upon stuff that actually matters to the plot now. While everything else is completely inconsequential to the overall story, this one actually does tie into everything. Spoilers, is what I’m getting at.

Ukyo is the final boyfriend and supposedly her original and ‘real’ world lover. He’s also the Joker of the suits. Ukyo is another string in all of the realities because he approaches the Heroine in all of them seemingly knowing that she’s jumping between realities. The final route takes place in his reality where he is dating her, but there’s a catch.

The reason for the reality jumping was that she was Ukyo’s lover but she died in Ukyo’s world. He wished to see her live past her death on August 26th, and his wish was granted by a passing god named Neil.

It’s really not entirely clear, but apparently she hops from world to world and lives out the month of August in another reality. Ukyo is allowed to jump as well with Neil’s help to watch her for that month, which grants his wish.

The problem here is that she still ‘dies’ in every reality…as does he? I honestly don’t get it. The point it is that they can’t coincide in the same reality. If they’re in a reality where Ukyo doesn’t belong, the world kills him and if they’re in Ukyo’s world, where Heroine doesn’t belong, the world tries to kill her….I think.

He spends the entire month warning her of the various dangers in his reality because he’s seen her die in those ways. He wants to keep her alive past midnight on August 26th because she’ll stop being killed by the world, but since she doesn’t belong there, Ukyo has to die and…he does, but he also lives past midnight and he dies and turns into light and that stops the jumping and–

Ukyo has another problem. Because of the jumping between realities and being killed so many times as well as seeing Heroine get killed over and over, he’s developed two personalities – the good or normal one and a murderous psychopath.

Ukyo’s pretty likable but it’s disappointing that the guy who is supposed to be Heroine’s actual lover in her original reality doesn’t get explored much. Ukyo’s a very kind and gentle person, who has a bit of Heroine fever in that he frequently frowns and apologizes a lot.

Because the Heroine does jack squat in terms of everything, our main plot doesn’t move in the least until episode 11, and we don’t get much information on what’s really going on until the huge exposition dump that is episode 12. And let me remind you of how useless she is by pointing out that she spends at least a month with each guy in each reality. Meaning a good four months go by and she still does absolutely nothing to regain her memories, figure out what’s causing the jumps or anything at all. She is the most benign, stagnant main character, or character period, I’ve ever seen.

That’s partially why I’m still so confused. Episode 12 slams you with all sorts of exposition, backstory and trying to tie up as many ends as possible that it’s overwhelming. It’s like they compressed what would’ve been the linear storyline and jammed it into one episode.

If there’s one final character we need to address, it’s Orion.

Orion is a fairy or spirit who bumped into Heroine, causing her to lose her memories. While he does his best to help her out in terms of regaining her memories and dealing with the various worlds that she visits, he spends much of the show being absent because he keeps being forced out of the worlds for reasons never revealed.

Orion’s a pretty likable kid, and he has to practically babysit Heroine in the various worlds because, again, she’s useless….and stupid. And as stupid as the outfits in this show are, I really like Orion’s for some reason. It’s just fun.

Art and animation: While the colors are bizarre to say the least and the clothes are just baffling, they are extremely well detailed and stylized. The backgrounds and various set pieces are also very well detailed. Practically everything is a pleasure to look at. The animation is good, but given that there’s little movement needed, it’s hard to see it really tested.

Music: The music was pretty good. While not horribly memorable, it was still nice to listen to and there are some BG tracks that are memorable.

Voice Acting: Japanese – Heroine’s VA got on my nerves because of how light and breathy she was probably directed to sound like the entire time. It’s not an awful voice, it’s how it’s presented. Everyone else was pretty good, especially Ukyo’s VA who bounces quite well between his two personalities.

Bottomline: Have no question, this is just pure indulgence for anyone who likes anime guy eye candy and wants an experience of a dating sim without that pesky game to get in the way. The plot itself is interesting but they do nothing with it until the very end. The majority of the show is just getting to know the stories of the various guys and sometimes it will touch upon the Heroine’s personality in that reality.

However, it’s not like that even really matters. It’s established that the characters are somewhat or drastically different between the realities so even if we know the various Heroines, they’re still not her in her reality and neither are the other guys. I guess, in a way, that’s good because that means Toma might not be a rapey dungeon lord, but that means that most of the episodes are completely pointless besides pasting your picture on Mary Sue McPaperpersonality and imagining you’re the one all these guys are pining after.

In the end, the story still doesn’t make much sense to me either way because of the horrific pacing with the actual plot.

Heroine makes this show a massive chore to watch. She is downright infuriating with how zero dimensional she is. And I swear if I see that dumb expression that she wears 99% of the time again, the only memory she’ll need to worry about is remembering the number for emergency services when I beat her in the face with a rock…..A rock that probably also has more personality and is much more interesting than her.

Guilty as charged, if it wasn’t for the eye candy I would’ve dropped it purely because of her.

Additional Information and Notes: Amnesia was directed by Yoshimitsu Ohashi, who barely does any directorial work, but directed some episodes of Code Geass R2, Trigun and the entirety of Witchblade.

It was written by Touko Machida, who also wrote Allison and Lillia, Boku wa Imouto—wha, really?! I can’t escape that damn show. Boku wa Imouto ni Koi wo Suru, and Lucky Star.

Animation was produced by Brain’s Base, and it is currently licensed in the US by Sentai Filmworks.

Episodes: 12

Year: 2013

Recommended Audience: There’s some self-harm and one instance of suicide, some kinda dark moments, but no nudity, no sex though there are allusions to it, no real swearing, some minor violence. 10+

Danganronpa The Animation Review

Rating: 8/10

Plot: Fifteen teenagers are accepted into the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy, but they soon find themselves drugged and sealed within the walls of the empty school….well, empty except for a robotic teddy bear named Monobear who tells them that they’re completely trapped in the school and the only way out is to ‘graduate.’

How do you graduate?

Quite simple, really.

You just have to get away with murder.

Breakdown: This is one of those anime that, when I saw the first episode, I really wanted to finish it as soon as possible….In a good way. This may seem weird, but I actually like stories that involve people being trapped somewhere with a bunch of mysteries to solve and knowing that you can trust no one because they may want you dead. Most importantly, I love murder mysteries, and that’s really what this series is.

Danganronpa The Animation is an anime version of a PSP game of the same name. I’ve never played said game, but I really want to, especially give the fact that the trial format seems a lot like Phoenix Wright to a degree.

Only one person out of all of the students is allowed to ‘graduate,’ and the ‘get away with murder’ aspect is really only keeping the murder a secret from your fellow classmates. Monobear is allowed to know everything and pretty much does know everything due to the cameras that he has placed in nearly every room of the school. I should also mention that he has the students pinned pretty firmly under his…paw.

Spoiler alert: The fish is the mastermind.

 

In addition to the cameras and everything being controlled and monitored through their school-issued PDAs (And the entire school being sealed like a fallout shelter), he also has several methods of instantly punishing students when they break rules. By ‘punish’ I mean ‘brutally murder’.

Also, for a reason not stated until the ending, the police will not come rescue them nor will anyone else come looking for them. They are completely on their own with their only given option to kill someone and get away with it in order to leave.

Once a murder has been committed, the students will have a set amount of time to investigate the murder and examine evidence. Once Monobear feels enough time has gone by, or if he gets bored or impatient, the trial starts.

During the trial phase, Monobear’s role is to sometimes give other information or confirm some suspicions, but, for the most part, he just sits there watching the trial unfold until someone has been pegged as the murderer.

The trials are interesting in that the students vote on who they believe is the culprit after deliberating amongst themselves. Naegi, our main character, is given three ‘verbal bullets’ (Objections to conflicting evidence or testimonies) to use during the trial, except on special occasions when he’s given six. He solves basically all of the cases because…well, main character. However, it’s up to everyone else to vote on who is actually the culprit.

The other interesting part of the trials is in the voting process. The students converse about who they think the killer is. After Naegi’s points, the students usually agree with his decisions, except on a couple occasions, and select the actual culprit. However, there is a very risky part to this trial for everyone involved that adds a lot of stress to the situation.

If the vote is unanimous for a person who did not do it, the people who voted for the innocent person get sentenced to death. So not only does the killer have to worry about getting caught, but everyone else has to worry about not catching the killer.

As a slight spoiler, I will say that this never happens. However, I don’t quite understand how this would pan out. Obviously, the killer would not be sentenced to death no matter who they voted for because that’s the whole point – to frame someone else for the murder or, at the very least, not deny it when someone else is suspected.

If everyone else voted for that innocent person, that means you got away with the murder and would graduate. My question is what happens to the innocent person who was accused? They don’t get sentenced to death, do they? Do they get trapped in the school forever or do they really get killed for no reason?

If most of your classmates vote for the right suspect and a few people vote for the wrong one, the culprit is considered caught and the people who voted for the wrong person are saved by the others voting for the right person.

If the actual culprit is caught, the remaining students get to live, but the killer has to die for getting caught. The punishment phase has an art style all its own with a mixture of CGI and cardboard cutout-like animation. It’s pretty cool, and some of the imagery gets very imaginative. Monobear has set up ironic and incredibly gruesome manners of death for the killers. I can’t really explain what they are because that would spoil the killers’ identities, but they range from really gruesome crazy to really weird crazy.

When the trial is over and the punishment has been done, the surviving students go back to their lives in the school waiting for another murder to occur. If they go too long without murdering one another, Monobear will give extra incentives to ‘graduate.’

That is one of the iffier aspects of this series – visual aspects of the trials. It just seems weird to me that they included the Visual Novel-esque format for their trials. Everywhere else, the intros, clues, evidence etc. are fine but it seems weird to include it in the trials mostly because there’s no really point in showing us the ‘verbal bullets’ or the points where you may find contradictions in someone’s testimony. We aren’t usually given enough time to think about these and it’s not like we’re answering anyway – Naegi is.

I don’t want to spoil this series because I really enjoyed it, so I’ll just be diving into short character descriptions before continuing with a few other points. All of the characters in this series are labeled as being a ‘Super Duper High School (title)’, their main point in excellence that allowed them to enroll in Hope’s Peak, even if some of the titles are kinda silly.

Makoto Naegi – Super Duper High School Luckster: Naegi got into Hope’s Peak through a raffle, earning him the title ‘Super Duper High School Luckster’ as that was really his only notable trait beyond the fact that he’s really optimistic. To be honest, considering the nature of the school, he’s really anything but lucky.

Naegi as our main character is a really good choice. He’s pretty bland, mostly to allow the viewer or player to project their own personality onto him, but also very likable. He seems to find good in everyone no matter the situation. Plus, I love the hell out of that jacket. God, I want that jacket.

Sayaka Maizono – Super Duper High School Idol: The only person that Naegi seems to know out of this whole group, Maizono used to go to Junior high with Naegi, but he never believed she ever noticed him because he was so plain and she was, well, a super duper high school idol. However, she shows that she does indeed remember him and they become friends. They soon rely on each other even more in regards to their situation.

Junko Enoshima – Super Duper High School Model: Not much to say about Junko. She has huge pink pigtails and an attitude. You pretty much want her to die or know she’d have no qualms against killing someone.

Sakura Ogami – Super Duper High School Fighter: Sakura is one of my favorite characters. She looks, sounds and acts like a very muscular guy. In fact, the only reason I questioned her sex at first was because she wore a sailor uniform like female high schoolers typically wear. Despite her intense appearance and her title, Sakura is a very kindhearted girl with a lot of honor. She quickly becomes friends with another female student, Asahina, and their friendship becomes a major point in the series.

Leon Kuwata – Super Duper High School Baseball Star: Leon has a pretty cool character design but a fairly forgettable personality….and might I ask whose big idea was it for him to be wearing a blood stain t-shirt in a murder mystery show?

Celestia Ludenberg – Super Duper High School Gambler: A goth character with one of those weird finger bands that are also blades. Celes remains fairly calm throughout the proceedings as she believes that they need to adapt to their situation to survive instead of playing into Monobear’s hands by actually killing people.

Aoi Asahina – Super Duper High School Swimmer: Aoi is a very strong yet sensitive girl. She tries to remain optimistic despite the horrible situation she’s in and finds great strength in her friendship with Sakura. Despite this, the numerous murders and deaths take a toll on her resolve.

Kyoko Kirigiri – Super Duper High School Detective: Kirigiri’s title is actually not given in the beginning like the others. She’s merely labeled ‘Super Duper High School ???’ until later on. This may be a spoiler, but not really. Kirigiri herself is a rather mysterious girl throughout most of the series. She’s constantly running off from the group to find evidence and explore the school for clues, causing many of her classmates to be suspicious of her during many of the murder trials. She’s quite obsessed with finding out who the mastermind is behind the school.

Kiyotaka Ishimaru – Super Duper High School Prefect: Ishimaru is one of the more entertaining of the bunch. He really, truly, seriously lives up to his title because he is obsessed with being a model student, rule follower, everything. No matter the situation they’re in, he wants to follow the straight and narrow. Ishimaru also has a really freaky character design. By all accounts, it’s insanely tame compared to the others, but dammit his eyes and eyebrows. Geez.

Yasuhiro Hagakure – Super Duper High School Shaman: Despite his title, he never does much in terms of fortune telling in the series. Hagakure is a very friendly individual, but also somewhat panicky and nervous and dear lord look at his hair. That is some hair right there. Damn.

Hifumi Yamada – Super Duper High School Fanfic Maker: Yamada is….something else. He’s fat and creepy. That’s about it. He falls over himself to cater to the whims of people like Celes and comes off as a bit of a perv. He’s also an anime nut who has a thing for fanart of pretty girls.

Touko Fukawa – Super Duper High School Bookworm: Fukawa is incredibly annoying as she’s panicky, extremely paranoid and is constantly shaking and accusing people of things. She also never seems to have her own opinions as she’ll blindly follow quite literally any line of reasoning in the trials, causing her vote to switch back and forth whenever there’s a new point brought up. Doesn’t help at all that she essentially stalks and lusts over another character named Togami. She also harbors a secret that makes her much more entertaining and tolerable.

Byakuya Togami – Super Duper High School Scion: Kaiba—Excuse me, Togami is an heir to an extremely powerful corporation run by his proud Togami family. Togami is a very stone-faced individual who is constantly butting heads with nearly everyone. The only one he seems to get along with in the least is Naegi and that’s only because he seems to subtly respect Naegi’s deduction skills.

Despite this, they’re no where near ‘friends.’ That also doesn’t change the fact that he’s an asshole. You know how I just explained how I find Fukawa really annoying? Well, he basically does nothing but throw really cruel insults her way and even I was feeling bad for her. Don’t feel too bad though as she turns everything Togami says into a compliment since she has a huge crush on him. Togami also never really gets better in his attitude as episodes go on, but he is just as determined as Kirigiri to find out who is behind this.

Mondo Owada – Super Duper High School Outlaw Biker: Owada’s also kinda hard to like and look at his ultra-Kuwabara hairdoo. Dang.

Anyway, as you’d expect from a gang member, he’s extremely abrasive and picks a lot of fights, even knocking out Naegi at one point. His anger is what first showcases Monobear’s true hold on everyone as Owada tries to attack Monobear, but his defense mechanisms caused him to explode. Owada was unharmed because he threw Monobear before he exploded, but it displayed one of the primary rules of the school – do not attack the principal (Monobear). He gets better later on, however, as he finds a weird friendship or brotherhood in Ishimaru.

Chihiro Fujisaki – Super Duper High School Programmer: Fujisaki is a very timid and seemingly weak individual. She harbors more than one secret that will be both very useful and very devastating to the entire class.

Monobear: Monobear is a very entertaining antagonist. His design is also pretty cool. Half is a white teddy bear, the other is a black psychotic looking bear with sharp teeth. Monobear seems really entertained when a murder occurs, but gets bored easily when nothing is happening or when the trials are going on for too long.

His mastermind controls nearly everything in the school. He has cameras practically everywhere and everything is monitored through electronic access. He also has guns and other booby traps placed in some areas of the school to prevent rule breaking. Despite being entertaining, he’s not a very impressive antagonist as it’s shown that it’s not necessarily difficult to make him lose his cool.

This series has many twist and turns and interesting cases as well as a very intriguing storyline. I greatly enjoyed the murder mysteries, the atmosphere and the mystery behind the school as a whole. Most of the characters are very likable and entertaining. Even the ones who got on my nerves didn’t manage to press their luck too much. Togami was really the only one who stayed on my dislike fully list because of his damn pride and arrogance.

If there is one glaring flaw with this show, it’s the fact that, unlike other mystery shows like Detective Conan, you’re not given much of an opportunity to solve the mysteries with Naegi. Yes, almost every piece of evidence that Naegi uses to solve the crime is given before the trial, but there are some moments of unfair revelations in terms of using information that is somehow available to Naegi but not to the viewer.

In addition, you’re just given the pieces of evidence and not given any hints as to why these items may be significant. I’m not saying hold our hands and walk us through everything, that takes away the fun of the mystery, but at least give us enough information to allow us to figure out why certain pieces of evidence are important.

While you may believe that being trapped in a school isn’t really grounds for murder, especially multiple and gruesome murders, Monobear gives the students several incentives to prompt them to commit these murders such as the promise of large amounts of money, showing them threatening and real situations involving their loved ones, threatening to expose deep secrets and even placing a mole within the group who has been tasked to kill someone if no murders occur for long periods of time.

I honestly didn’t see the ending twist coming, and it was really clever. While I didn’t see it coming, it did answer a question that I had nagging in my head about a very early death in the series. However, I will give points off for the ending a bit. I mentioned before that objections in this series are called ‘verbal bullets’ or just ‘ammunition.’ Well, let’s just say the finale involves Naegi shooting bullets of literal hope at people. Cheesy as hell, but I’ll allow it.

Art and Animation: The art is wonderful and very stylized. Some character designs are a little too crazy for my taste, and sometimes it really seems like they’re using character design to make up for lack of real personality, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the designs are really memorable and appealing.

The animation is good. It feels visual-novel-y sometimes, but nothing terribly noticeable. The punishment sequences in particular are really done well.

CGI is integrated very well in various other aspects of the series as well.

As a final note, and I’m not entirely certain if this is the same in every version, but the blood in this series is ‘censored’ to be bright pink and it kinda distracts from the show a bit. Looks like everyone’s bleeding gel pen ink.

Music: The music is great. I love the OP and ED, and both are incredibly addictive. They also do this cool bit at the end that shows Naegi in a classroom and each episode that has a death introduces one more person to the picture. They also add an 8-bit intro to the ending that is pretty neat.

Bottomline: If you like murder mystery shows or video games, or if this sort of set up appeals to you at all, check it out. The ending cheese is really the only slightly major issue I have with it. I loved it, and I look forward to checking out the continuations.

Additional Information and Notes: Danganronpa the Animation was produced by Lerche, producers of Persona 4: The Animation and Kino’s Journey. It was directed by Seiji Kishi, director of My Bride is a Mermaid, Angel Beats and Persona 4: The Animation.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2013

Recommended Audience: Boy this plot sounds like Sesame Street doesn’t it? You have psycho killers, large amounts of hot pink paint—I mean ‘blood’, depictions, explanations and scenes of murder plus several shots of corpses that have usually been killed in pretty awful manners. No nudity, no sex, no swearing I don’t believe. 14+

AniManga Clash! Air(Manga) vs. Air TV

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Plot: Yukito is a drifter on a mission to find ‘the girl with wings’ from the story his mother used to tell him as a child. While on this journey, he stops in a town and meets a girl named Misuzu. He’s initially put off by her energy and child-like optimism, but after she offers him a place to stay and some food, the two slowly develop a friendship.

However, Yukito quickly realizes that Misuzu suffers from a strange condition. She is plagued by unusual dreams and cannot get close to anyone without bursting out uncontrollably into tears. They each have a place in this story of the girl with wings, but can they do anything to change the tragic ending?

Breakdown: Ah, Air. I’m breathing it right now. Also it’s the name of a visual novel, manga, anime and anime movie.

In chronological order, the visual novel came first, then the manga, then the TV series and finally the movie. This does kinda create a kink in my setup of AniManga Clash. Afterall, I think one major reason people have a big bias toward manga is because manga is usually the first product or ‘original’. And as we all know from the comments section on Youtube, being first makes you better than everyone else.

I’ve never played the visual novel, but I did watch the TV series a few years ago and just recently read the manga. So how do they match up against each other?

Round One: Art – The art for the anime…..is awful. The scenery is lovely and the animation is great, but my god the faces. I think this is how everyone who hates anime’s style sees anime. Gigantic eyes, tiny itty bitty dot noses and mouths that are both way too small and scrunched together too much with the eyes and nose. It’s like they’re old-timey cartoons and just got an anvil dropped on their heads. Also, the proportions for the characters’ bodies just look wrong. They all look very thin with large heads.

I can’t really blame them too much for that because the visual novel art is just as bad.

As opposed to the manga’s art which, while still not being mind-blowingly fantastic is still eons above the anime’s. The faces look much more normal, the details are more fine, and the proportions are a lot better.

Let’s get some visual comparisons, shall we?

 

 

 

Winner: Manga

Round Two: CharacterizationI believe this is about even between the two, at least for the main three characters of Yukito, Misuzu and Haruko. The manga may have a slight advantage with the friendship between Yukito and Misuzu, but it’s balanced out by the fact that I believe the anime does the relationship between Haruko and Misuzu better.

When it comes to the other main girls, Kano, Minagi and Michiru, the manga just barely touches upon them while the anime goes in depth into each of their stories. They suddenly decided to dump a good chunk of Minagi and Michiru’s backstory on us in the manga, but they didn’t resolve it all. It’s like a car crash of exposition. And pretty much forget about Kano in the manga, she gets no focus whatsoever.

The anime, deciding to do its best to cram all three paths from the visual novel into the anime, thoroughly characterized all of the girls and even more characters.

The question is, can I really count that against the manga when it clearly just wanted to focus on the Misuzu and Yukito story? I kind of can, yes.

I honestly wouldn’t have if not for the fact that they mushed in Minagi’s story or at least some of it in the final part of the book, leaving you somewhat confused and unsatisfied in her characterization. Is this advertising to go out and play the visual novel or did they just want fanservice for the Minagi fans? I like Minagi a lot too, but I just found that final chapter pointless if they weren’t going to go all the way and include Kano’s story (abridged if need be) as well.

Winner: Anime

Round Three: StoryLike I mentioned before, the anime delves deep into all three paths from the visual novel while the manga only focuses on the Misuzu and Yukito aspect. Since manga is praised for having more content than the anime counterparts usually have, I think it’s only fair to give the same props to the anime for doing the same. So the anime’s starting off with an advantage here.

However, I do have to note that the fact that having all three of the stories are in the anime is actually a bit of a negative. Like I mentioned in my review of Air TV, it felt a bit overwhelming to give nearly every character a screwed up home life or some sort of supernatural occurrence causing them to suffer or some mental issue to deal with. I appreciate trying to give everyone their shot in the limelight, but it does start to weigh on you.

Now, focusing on purely the Yukito and Misuzu story, I think both versions did a great job with it. Both stories are exactly the same, but the manga did answer a few more questions and made the situation with Yukito and the crow both less and more confusing and jarring.

You’re lead to believe Yukito turned into a crow from the very second he made his wish in the anime, yet in the manga he pretty much disappears and we don’t see the crow until much later. Misuzu is the one who tells us that the crow is Yukito, but it’s left ambiguous as to if it’s really him or not. The bird never speaks or has inner monologue in the manga like it does in the anime so it’s still a bit confusing, especially when the crow shows up in a side story near the end when Yukito is still around.

Misuzu’s death is not shown in the manga, and it’s only slightly implied that she died if she even did die in the manga. If she did, I feel a bit robbed. Her death and Haruko’s scene afterward was almost as heartbreaking as the scene on the beach. I guess a mostly-implied-as-happy ending is fine too, and it does make sense given Yukito’s wish, but that ending really resonated with me and I just feel weird seeing it play out so differently.

Yukito’s pain and his connection with the story is not as highlighted in the anime as it is in the manga. I don’t even remember him ever being in pain in the anime.

Finally, the true backstory behind why Misuzu and Yukito suffer because of this story and these dreams is explained in the anime, albeit a bit confusingly, and in the manga…..they don’t explain anything. We get quick shots of Misuzu’s dreams, she explains some of them a bit to us, but other than that we really get nothing, which makes the story pretty confusing in hindsight.

Yes, Yukito telling us the story his mother told him does explain in a prophecy type of way why this is happening, but it doesn’t explain why this is happening. Moreso it doesn’t explain why the story itself exists. The story tells of a girl whom we’re meant to assume existed. She had wings and flew in the sky, but she was constantly sad. Misuzu is apparently this girl, even though she doesn’t have wings, and her pain is caused by growing invisible wings.

Okay….why? If you never played the visual novel or watched the anime you’d really be wondering why this is happening. Why is she growing wings? What is actually happening in these dreams? Why is she the reincarnated girl in the sky? Why is whatever this is seemingly killing her? What’s the cause of Yukito’s pain? Why does Misuzu cry uncontrollably when she gets close to someone? How is Yukito’s puppet magic, and why can it seemingly grant one wish? Why did Yukito turn into a crow when he made that one wish?

Okay, those last three are questions I have for both the anime and manga, but still. It doesn’t explain what’s going on to make all of this happen very well, it just tells you a story Yukito’s mother used to tell him and asks you to roll with it.

Winner: Anime

Final tally:

What the anime does better

More exploration on the other characters, possibly slightly more exploration on the main three of Yukito, Misuzu and Haruko.

More story to explore the other three routes from the visual novel.

More exploration on the backstory behind the girl with wings.

What the manga does better

Much better character art.

Slightly more details on the story of Misuzu and Yukito to make things less confusing.

Some of the characterization between Yukito and Misuzu is a bit better handled.

winner-anime-banner

Wow, I didn’t think I’d find an anime winner on my first try out with this series, but yup. It was a close call, but I just think the anime had more to offer in both quantity and quality. The manga definitely wins in the art department and has some of its own specific benefits in storytelling, but overall the anime is just a more fulfilling experience to me.

White Album 2 Review

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Rating: 9/10

Plot: Haruki’s light music club is dwindling in numbers, but he has a dream of playing guitar in the school festival. While he’s not very good, he practices every day in Music Room 1 while a mysterious pianist plays in the locked Music Room 2, meant for music school students.

When he starts trying to play “White Album,” the mysterious pianist from the other room starts playing with him. It becomes a regular practice session for the two while Haruki remains in the dark about who the pianist is.

Another person joins in the song, a vocalist, and Haruki discovers that the vocalist is the school idol, Setsuna Ogiso, while the pianist is his friend, Kazusa Touma. He gets them to join the light music club to quickly prepare for the festival in mere weeks, but unrequited love and blooming love are entangling the three in web with no easy way out.

Breakdown: WARNING – SPOILERS

I was dreading the hell out of this show. If you follow my reviews, you know I don’t much care for White Album. There were way too many girls given focus, their characters were all mostly ruined, Touya was an unlikable cheating asshole and no man on the show barring Frankie was likeable at all by the end of season two.

But I wanted to give this show a chance as it takes place years after White Album and no characters from that show make the slightest cameo. Rina and Yuki are mentioned and their faces are shown on posters, but that’s it.

I’m glad I did give this show a chance because it’s a hell of a lot better than the first White Album. Haruki, for starters, is very likable. He’s a little uptight, but that’s fine. His heart’s in the right place and he’s a very kind person. While he does make some mistakes, he’s human and actually feels stuff like shame and regret for them. He even feels remorse for feeling things he should be feeling for another person while with someone else. That sure is amazing, huh, Touya?

Setsuna…..got a little creepy, I will admit. The whole petting his hair while he’s sleeping even though he hasn’t taken a shower thing and her clingyness got a bit much for me, but that was very short lived and it wasn’t that terrible. I’ve seen worse, and she’s a very kindhearted character as well. The ending in particular made me see this character in a very bright light.

Touma as a character is a little grating in earlier episodes as she’s very blunt and not very friendly, but when she warms up to the group and you get to know her, you start to like her more and more as a character.

The story as a whole is entirely about these three. Unlike a lot of other visual novel anime, Haruki’s only in a love triangle.

There are two other ‘prominent’ girls in the series, one being his friend Io and another a snotty bitch who used to be the vocalist for the group, but they, like most of the other side characters, don’t do much. They’re there for support and such when needed, but nothing really focuses on them. While that is fine seeing as how that keeps the focus in the show on the three, I’d really like to get to know them a little better.

That’s another thing, I was really worried Takeya would be the signature pervert best friend who is meant to be worse than the main character to make him look better. But, surprisingly, he’s actually very likeable. He keeps Haruki grounded and is a very good friend to him whenever he needs him. He is a playboy, apparently, but he’s not sleazy or anything. I really wish we had gotten to see more of him.

As for the main story, both Touma and Setsuna eventually start liking Haruki. Setsuna admits this to Touma, but she’s too proud to admit that she likes him too despite the fact that Setsuna tells her that she knows she likes him, but they’ll be rivals for his affection.

Haruki’s pretty vague on who he really likes in the beginning as they almost leaned it towards Setsuna for a good chunk while consistently making you root for Touma. That’s the difficult thing in this anime. Unlike a lot of love triangles, I didn’t hate anyone here. I was rooting for one over another, but I wasn’t wishing for the other’s suffering. I was just wishing more for the happiness of the first.

That’s how love triangle stories should be. Why even bother telling a story about a love triangle when one character is clearly more likable than another? You should like all of the characters to enjoy their relationships and really think about who loves who most or who seems better with whom. It’s an odd fact, but deciding who you want to root for should be a somewhat sad feeling that takes actual thought and consideration because it means that another nice character suffers. If you clearly hate one character in the love triangle, it makes it difficult to root for that pairing, and makes the final outcome incredibly predictable.

After the school festival, Setsuna confesses to Haruki and he becomes her boyfriend. They maintain a fairly nice relationship, but it quickly becomes clear that Haruki really likes Touma and vice versa and that Setsuna knows this deep down.

Touma starts becoming colder and colder to Haruki until she basically starts being mean to him to further their distance, but this just prompts Haruki to pursue her even further to figure out why she’s acting as such. His determination even leads him to lying to Setsuna on her birthday (while she’s all alone – ouch) so that he can find Touma instead of going to her party.

This is what I mean about liking all of the characters in order for love triangle stories to work. If I hated Setsuna, I probably wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about this, but I do so I felt really bad for her. And yes, this is one example of Haruki kinda being an asshole, but he didn’t realize she was alone on her birthday. Her family left on a trip for some reason. In addition, one of the reasons Haruki pursued Touma that day was to get her to go to Setsuna’s party.

When he finds her, she reveals that she’s loved him since before she even joined the light music club. He was the only one who treated her as a regular person and not with contempt or special treatment because of her mother’s fame (she’s a famous pianist). He took an interest in her, in her life and her well-being. He was kind to her and he legitimately cared.

Haruki, admitting that he also liked Touma, starts kissing her and she kisses back, but Touma quickly pushes him away and slaps him. She then doesn’t want to do anything with him since he’s with Setsuna and she’s her best friend.

That’s another note about this show. In addition to the characters all being likable, Touma and Setsuna quickly become best friends after meeting in the light music club, which just makes this situation even more heartbreaking. You not only have to take into account that one of them is going to suffer, but then there’s the lingering feeling like both of them will feel like they’re betraying the other if they do end up with Haruki.

I mused that this would be one show were I would actually root for a threesome ending. Haruki loves Touma and Touma loves Haruki, Setsuna loves Haruki and there were actually several times when Setsuna and Touma humored the thought that they would actually be great together if Touma were a guy. It could work. I’m just sayin’….

Touma states that she’s going to be living with her mother to master piano in Vienna after her graduation. Her mother went to Europe a few years ago to continue her career as a concert pianist and didn’t take Touma with her, which caused a huge strife in their relationship. After Touma proved her prowess at a recital, her mother decided to allow her to come to Vienna with her to find a better piano teacher to master her craft.

Also, Touma doesn’t have the grades to get into any actual college, so this seems like her best shot at a career.

Touma does her best to avoid the two after that, but places a note in Setsuna’s desk at graduation, leaving Haruki to abandon Setsuna to find her.

He doesn’t, but Touma calls him later, the day before she’s set to leave, to talk to him one last time. It builds up to Haruki eventually confessing his love for her and Touma talking about how it essentially can’t work, but she’ll always remember him. Haruki finds her as she was ‘hiding’ in the park outside his apartment building in hopes that she could see him one last time. They finally spill all the beans and happily start kissing in the snow.

Now we get to the final episode.

The ending makes or breaks practically any show. This is especially true in VN anime as the whole show is about the relationship(s) and the final episode is basically how we’re left to perceive how they ended up.

The episode starts off with a super censored sex scene between Touma and Haruki. And when I say super censored, I mean when the scene is on them, the screen is 50-80% black. While I’m not rooting for hardcore porn, there are ways of tastefully doing a sex scene without blacking out the entire screen. This is fine, but a bit distracting is all. I should also mention that Setsuna calls him right before they do it, but surprisingly Touma prompts him to not answer it.

Touma leaves in the morning, taking Haruki’s jacket buttons, which is tradition for people you like in Japan after graduation.

Haruki’s crushed, but Setsuna goes to him in the morning to try to catch Touma at the airport before her plane leaves. (Cliche warning at critical levels) Haruki wants to finally talk to Setsuna about everything, but she says she won’t listen until they’re on the train to see Touma.

On the train, Haruki has told Sesuna everything, yet she’s not getting upset. Haruki asks why and she says that she never liked Haruki as much as she made off. She only got together with him to give the three of them a better chance of being together forever.

While I know the actual reason why she’s saying this, this makes no sense. Starting a romantic relationship with one member of a three person friendship is basically lethal to any friendship as the remaining person will always feel like a third wheel. If she meant getting together with him in hopes that Touma would feel more determined to fight for him, then that also leads the same problem as before. And it causes undue strife in the relationship.

Anyway, it’s actually a really good scene as it shows that Haruki’s very shameful of what he did, though he has been showing regret the whole time, and at least has the balls to admit it to Setsuna and apologize in a heartfelt fashion. Even if it was after the fact and it would’ve been more responsible to do it while he knew he was in love with Touma, better a little late than never. But unlike in shows where the main character’s a dick, you can understand that this is just because he’s human and didn’t want to hurt Setsuna because he was still her friend as well.

When they get to the airport, Haruki says they shouldn’t look for Touma anymore as it wouldn’t change anything anyway, but Touma finds them instead. Haruki runs to Touma in a somewhat cheesy fashion and, despite not wanting to make Setsuna upset, she apologizes and starts kissing Haruki.

As they’re kissing, we get an audio flashback of Setsuna’s speech from the train and clips of her and Haruki together. When it ends, she says of course it wasn’t true and that she truly loved Haruki, but she knew that Touma and Haruki loved each other and Haruki didn’t feel as strongly for her as he did for Touma.

She knew they liked each other from basically the first time that she met them, yet came between them anyway because she legitimately liked and later fell in love with Haruki.

This is one of the most mature things I’ve ever seen in a VN anime. A character did something selfish, yes, but not only did they own up to it, they willingly stepped aside for the happiness of the other two people instead of continuing to be selfish. You can tell that it seriously hurt Setsuna, but she sacrificed her feelings for the happiness of Touma and Haruki. Kinda like in Rumbling Hearts only not stupid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then Touma leaves.

…..Oh what? Expecting her to stay and actually give this story a happy ending? Nope. She leaves because, as the title of the episode states, Touma and Haruki’s relationship is ‘a love that cannot be.’

Now, as you can probably surmise, I was quite pissed at this ending and was all too prepared to rant about it here. But now that I’ve had a bit of time to cool off and really think about it….I understand why she left.

Besides Haruki, she has no reason to stay in Japan. She can’t go to any college while Setsuna and Haruki are. She has nothing to do there. Vienna offers not only a big chance to reconnect with her mother, but she’ll also be learning how to play piano professionally.

I understand how, no matter how much I may want it, it’s actually more realistic (not to mention not ungodly cliché like the alternative) that Touma left instead of stayed because of a guy.

I have my own petty reasons for getting a little mad at the end considering I really wanted Touma and Haruki together, but I don’t feel I can say it’s a bad ending in the slightest.

Throughout this entire show, I can say that, given some leeway with the fanservice in the obligatory hot springs episode and the drama, this show has been realistic if anything in the way that it handles practically everything….except the guitar stuff. I don’t believe anyone can learn how to play that well after two weeks of practice. Especially not three different songs.

I can’t fault it entirely too much for the ending as everything else was just handled so well. Much better than practically every other VN anime I’ve ever seen, rivaling the quality of the Ef series. And unlike a lot of other endings that flat out ruin even good shows, like H2O, I can’t in good conscience even say that it ruins anything.

Not everything turns out the way we’d want it to is all.

A Sequel?

People in the comments kept saying something like this only follows a portion of the games and maybe there will be a next season chronicling what happens after. Supposedly this series only follows the Introductory Chapter of the game, but there’s another section called Closing Chapter which takes place three years after the events of the IC.

I haven’t read much on the story of CC, but apparently it involved Haruki being pretty severely affected by Touma’s departure to the point where he won’t date and avoids the topic of Touma and intimate contact as much as possible. But the game opens up more to allow Haruki to pursue other girls in order to get over this trauma whereas in the first part it was just Touma and Setsuna. Meaning it’s more like your traditional visual novel anime.

Setsuna and Kazusa can be selected near the end (how Kazusa shows up, I don’t know, but Setsuna has remained his friend through the years) There’s also an option to reject both of them and ‘be unfaithful,’ whatever that means.

This seems like a really interesting set up for a continuation, but then again they’re possibly adding a harem aspect to the mix. If they handle it as well as they’ve handled this series, however, I welcome a second season if they’re interested in making it.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are beautifully done. Both the character models and the backgrounds are very nice to look at. Nothing quite as nice as Ef, but still very nice.

Music: “White Album” was really starting to piss me off as that song was constantly played in the first half of the show. However, they lighten up on it later and it eventually disappears so it’s fine. The other music is very memorable and nice to listen to. Both the OP and ED are good songs as well.

Bottomline: Lingering feelings of the final episode aside, this is a very good love-triangle anime that makes you want to root for every character when you know you cannot (Threesome ending! Who’s with me? :D)

Even if you’re a Setsuna fan, you’d likely understand her situation as well to the point where you’d also accept the ending as a spoonful of medicine. It’s not like it makes her look like a bad character or anything despite how some blowhards will be quick to jump on calling any other person in a love-triangle a bitch.

The story itself is an emotional roller coaster ride, but I enjoyed the hell out of nearly every minute of it. It clawed its way out of the sewage of White Album and made something really great. Kudos. Give it a watch if you like romance anime, drama and can take a sad ending (sad on all accounts actually as Haruki and Setsuna break up AND Touma leaves them both behind.)

Additional Information and Notes: White Album 2 was based on an adult visual novel of the same name. The anime adaptation was directed by Masaomi Ando, who also did directorial work on 07-Ghost, Fairy Tail and Vampire Knight. It was written by Fumiaki Maruto, produced by Satelight, and it is not currently licensed in the US.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2013

Recommended Audience: Pretty heavy make out scenes, one insanely censored sex scene, no swearing, no real nudity but minor fanservice, no gore, obviously. Heavy drama and whatnot. 14+

H2O: Footprints in the Sand Review

Rating: 3/10

Plot: Hirose Takuma has recently moved to a small village to live a more restful life due to his blindness. He soon meets a girl named Hayami and wants to befriend her. However, she rejects him. He is confused by her rejection until he learns that everyone in the village treats Hayami like garbage and no one bats an eye at it. She’s regularly mocked, bullied and beaten by her classmates while none of the adults do anything about it – some actually partake in it. Why is this? And why does Hayami feel that she deserves it?

Breakdown: WARNING: I AM GOING TO BE SPOILING NEARLY ALL OF THIS SERIES BECAUSE THE ENDING IS A PIVITOL PART OF THE FINAL RATING. SCROLL DOWN TO THE BOTTOMLINE IF YOU WANT TO REMAIN UNSPOILED.

Wow. Just wow. I haven’t seen an anime blow it so badly since….I can’t even come up with an example. I was somewhat excited about this series because I had heard that it was even better than Air. I was also somewhat dreading this series because the THEM review shot this down to their lowest rating for the final four episodes due to a drastic change in the series….And I can pretty much understand why.

But let’s rewind a bit because the final four episodes are more about Hirose. Let’s tackle the Hayami angle, shall we?

Like the plot says, she’s treated like garbage by the entire village. She’s regularly called a monster, a roach, and a lot of other vile insults. She’s constantly the target of terrible bullying like ruining her lunch or pouring toilet water on her head, and she’s regularly beaten by her fellow classmates. In addition, she lives in two cable cars up in the mountains alone. It’s so bad that I’m really left wondering why she doesn’t just leave….That’s never answered, by the way.

The reason for the bullying and the reason why she thinks she deserves all of it is because her family had a lot of power in the village and they caused a lot of pain and suffering for many of the villagers. Eventually, the village got sick of it, torched their house and drove her family out of the village, leaving her as the sole survivor. Why she stayed and didn’t leave with her family is never explained. I didn’t really understand if her parents were dead or ran out of town. They never make it clear.

Then Hirose comes into the picture and stirs up the village by standing up for her every now and then. And when I say that, I mean he stands up for her when boys are bullying her. When girls are, he never pipes up, which is annoying.

This plotline is solved rather suddenly. The kids suddenly stop abusing her and even become good friends with her just because Hinata told them to stop. The other villagers take a lot longer to stop, but it was so jarring that they went from turning their heads when she’s being beaten and bullied to going shopping with her in mere days.

This whole thing is somewhat stupid. She can’t control what family she was born into. She did nothing whatsoever to cause any heartache. Are the villagers really so stupid and cruel that they’d abuse a young girl just because she’s related to the family that was so terrible? They don’t see it at all hypocritical that they’re being no better if not worse than her family was by treating her like that? It’s a wonder anyone in this show grew up partially normally with parents who all have that mindset.

Hinata’s plotline is that she’s scared to death of her grandfather who is the village elder. I won’t spoil much of her plotline because it’s the best plotline in the series, in my opinion, but let’s just say her grandfather is really messed up.

Hirose’s plotline is where things really start unraveling. The THEM reviewer said that episode seven was the perfect ending to the series and that they would easily give the show a moderate rating if was left at episode seven, which finishes up Hinata’s storyline, but leaves a chunk of Hayami’s and all of Hirose’s in the balance.

To its credit, episode seven does seem like a series finale. It had credits over actual scenes and included a vocal song, a big reveal, a big inspiring moment, a bunch of tie-ups, it’s almost like that was the series finale, but they realized they still had to do four episodes by contract or something.

Episode eight was criticized by the same reviewer as being a big chunk of randomness. Otoha, who had been seen throughout the anime as a spirit that only Hirose could see, was suddenly a magical girl and everything around them was going nuts due to something in the spirit world. In order to gather magical energy, Hirose had to take charge of the situation and try to literally smack everyone back into reality. In the end, this is revealed to be an illusion that Otoha made for Hirose to see a book world that Hinata had made up when she was a child. Due to the connection between Otoha and Hinata, she thought that would be a good way to say farewell.

I wasn’t bothered by that episode. It was a final tribute to Hinata’s book that Otoha wanted to share with Hirose. Despite the randomness, it was kinda sweet.

Then we get to episode nine, which solidifies a relationship between Hirose and Hayami. That episode was also pretty sweet and cute, so I have no real problems yet.

Then we get to…….episode ten. Let’s backtrack – remember how I said Hirose was blind? Otoha grants him sight in the start of the series. No one questions why he suddenly has sight, but there it is.

In episode ten, since the Village Elder doesn’t want Hirose with Hayami, he reveals to Hirose that the Kohinata family, Hayami’s family, is the reason that Hirose’s mom killed herself.

The Kohinatas had set up an arranged marriage between his mother and a member of their family, but she met someone else, ran off, eloped and soon had Hirose. However, the Kohinata family soon found her and started pressuring her daily to divorce her husband and marry into their family. Details on what exactly ‘pressure’ means is beyond me. She couldn’t take the pressure anymore and jumped in front of a train one day when she was out with Hirose.

It is never, ever adequately explained, but I guess the emotional and mental trauma from that event caused him to go blind?

After Hirose learns of this, things seemingly go back to normal, but it’s soon obvious that Hirose can’t separate Hayami from her family. He begins having nightmares and hallucinations of Hayami dragging his mother in front of the train. This causes a few spontaneous emotional outbursts toward Hayami, which is unlike his gentle and quiet nature.

He drives Hayami away, and she becomes so angered that she starts beating a dam that was made to stop the water during the current rainstorm. Two of the harsher bullies from her school walk up, and she eggs them on saying that she’s going to destroy the town just like their parents said she would. The two bullies beat the crap out of her, and she continues to egg them on until one of them tries to strangle/drown her in the water.

She’s saved but walks away from the scene before she can get any medical attention.

She runs into Hirose, who doesn’t even ask her if she’s okay when she’s obviously been beaten to a pulp. He tries to apologize for what happened and says that he doesn’t blame her, but she prods and says that she is responsible. He snaps and starts beating the crap out of her while blaming her for his mother’s death. He stops his frenzy when he realizes that she’s unconscious and he faints as well.

This is where I fell off the wagon.

Hirose yelling at Hayami and having nightmares would be partly understandable. It has to be confusing to find out that your girlfriend is related to the people who drove your mother to suicide, so that might drive up bad memories and maybe a nightmare or two, but she had nothing to do with it! Just like she had nothing to do with anything else that she’s taking abuse for. In addition, it’s not like her family actually killed her or anything. They just pressured her to marry into their family.

Hirose’s a gigantic hypocrite. He was on everyone’s asses for blaming Hayami for the pain and suffering caused in the village when she was just a child who had nothing to do with it, yet here he is doing exactly that.

This entire show is built around the premise that Hayami is and must be a martyr. She must pay for her family’s sins and take all of the flak from the villagers despite being innocent for everything. It ridiculous.

Hayami wakes up and, despite being badly hurt, she is not in any life-threatening danger. Hirose, however, has yet to wake up. When he does wake up, he tells them that he’s gone blind again.

But hold on! We have a plot twist!

It turns out that Hirose had never regained his sight to begin with, and that he had fooled himself into thinking that he had. This is proven by mistaking details in a photo that he’s supposedly seen and showing drawings and writing he made that are scribbles.

So, yeah…..Hirose’s insane. He eventually gets so bad that he believes Hayami is his mother and that he’s a small child again.

After a big climax in which Hirose saves Hayami’s life from the villagers (They were going to kill her because she was going to leave…Yeah, that makes sense), he says he’ll protect his mother, Hayami.

Hirose’s uncle.decides that it would be best to move him back to the old apartment that he and his mother used to live in back in Tokyo. Hirose’s father is never seen, by the way, which is incredibly weird. He’s all you have left now, he’s blind, yet you can’t even visit him? Jerk. His uncle suggests that Hayami go with Hirose to act as his mother until he gets better.

Hayami and Hirose move, and they go through a few months with Hayami working as a paper-girl (those still exist?) and Hirose just hanging out because he’s so mentally ill.

One day, as they’re out shopping, Hayami tells Hirose that he has to believe that his mother loved him and didn’t abandon him like he thought. She had actually sacrificed her life for him after he tried to catch his ball that bounced across the railroad tracks.

To push the fact even further, I hope you’re sitting down for this, Hayami kills herself by throwing herself in front of a train just like his mother did. And just as she does that, his blindness is cured and he’s mentally sound.

No, I’m not kidding. In essence, to help someone get over a traumatizing event, just traumatize them again with something else. It’ll even clear up their physical disabilities!

He gets over his blindness AND gets over his crazy-ness by watching his girlfriend kill herself in the same way that his mother did? Just….just….wha–it….

Wouldn’t that just make him crazier?? Also…..hey, wait a second… If Hayami knew that, why did she let Hirose believe that her family drove his mother to suicide? Ugh, nevermind.

I’m not a doctor, but I believe I could find it plausible that someone could lose their sight after watching something particularly terrible and traumatic. At the very least, in an anime. I can even believe that he tricked himself into thinking that he had his sight back when he really didn’t, even if that does raise a multitude of questions (Like, how was he walking around town just fine? Why didn’t his friends think it was weird that Hirose was acting like he could see if he clearly couldn’t? If he never got his sight back, was Otoha just screwing with him? Just how?!) But him being cured of his supposed blindness AND mental illness by watching Hayami kill herself?

Oh and that’s not all. The end credits show everybody about 6-7 years in the future where Hinata is now the village elder (Where are her parents exactly?) and a baby is there too. (No, it’s not Hirose’s kid. It’s actually Hamaji’s, but it’s a long story. Dunno why they had that weird plotpoint in there. Hamaji was a really minor character…)

Hirose, full with sight and mental soundness, and his uncle have built a windmill where Hirose met Hayami because she loved pinwheels and windmills. All’s fine and dandy until a little girl runs up to Hirose while being chased by a boar. She looks, shockingly, like Otoha and is even named Otoha. She was reincarnated as a little girl and said that she pulled a lot of strings in the spirit world to pull ‘it’ off for him. When she runs off, he sees, yes, you guessed it, Hayami.

She was brought back to life thanks to Otoha. Because that won’t shock the living hell out of everyone in the village, will it? Then again, seeing as how his blindness being cured by Otoha wasn’t real, she could be an illusion for all we know too.

They could’ve completely avoided this if Hayami hadn’t been stupid enough to do that. The train sounds and alarm were enough to shock Hirose back to reality. She could’ve just pretended to kill herself, and that probably would’ve worked to get him back to normal. Gah!

I could’ve said “give this show a higher rating if you stop at episode seven” like the THEM review, but I can’t do that because episode seven would just leave you hanging on both Hirose and Hayami’s stories, so I’m kinda stuck.

The tone changes are also jarring. We can go from goofy and playful to sad and depressing to dark in mere minutes.

Hirose is a welcome change from your average harem main guy (even if we do have the mandatory beach episode where every girl is all over him and making him uncomfortable.) but he’s such a pushover when it comes to the girls. He’ll let them all push him around and he won’t say a thing about it. And like I said, if females are the ones doing the bullying to Hayami, he won’t say a word. He just watches with a frown.

It’s really difficult to like any of the other main or side characters beyond Hirose and Hayami because, despite how they seem all cheery and happy, there’s this constant nagging in your head that these supposedly nice kids treat Hayami like complete garbage and don’t think they’re doing anything wrong. How can you like any of these characters when you know that they’re like that?

Art and Animation:
The art in this series was fairly good, but the girls are designed oddly. They have normal sized heads, but insanely thin stick bodies. It makes you wonder how their necks support their heads.

Music: The music is wonderful and fairly unique. The OP is good and the ED has become one of my personal favorites.

Voice Acting: Japanese – The voices and acting are all wonderful. Hirose in particular has a very fitting voice. It’s very kind and gentle, much like what I would picture for Yuki from Fruits Basket.

Bottomline:
I enjoyed this anime for a while, but the ending really does kill it. Like…beat it with a shovel and set it on fire killed it. The main characters, by that I mean the main three, are usually likable, but I must reiterate that it’s really hard to like any of the side characters considering how they act around Hayami. The story, at least up until episodes seven and eight are great, if not somewhat frustrating at times, but the ending three episodes were so bad, it’s almost impressive.

It’s a ball of wtf wrapped in huh? and dipped in are you kidding me? It’s not a complete waste. The story between Hinata and Hayami, while being somewhat stupid at points, is nice. Hinata’s story is actually very interesting, and there are some heartwarming moments to be found there. If you’re a big fan of visual novel dramas and want something different than your usual fare, go right ahead and be very wary of the ending, but for anyone else, I’d say skip it.

Additional Information and Notes: H2O Footprints in the Sand was based on an eroge visual novel of the same name by Makura. The anime adaptation was produced by Zexcs and was directed by Hideki Tachibana.

Episodes: 12

Year: 2008

Recommended Audience: There is some predictable blindness fanservice in episode one (Whoops I can’t see, I’m gonna fall down a lot while girls fall with their butts on my face. I still don’t get how that would ever happen, logically. How would you have to fall in order to achieve that kind of position?) and mild fanservice throughout. There’s also some heavy themes and ‘scary’ moments. I’d say…..13+

White Album Season 2 Review

Rating: 3.5/10

Plot: Same as the first season, only with more sex and drama.

Breakdown: (Spoiler alert: Also, this is not to be confused with White Album 2)

Nihon rater, I apologize. You had perfect reason to name Touya on the same level as Makoto. He didn’t leave a pregnant girl on her own so he could bang other girls, but I can see why you’d put them on the same level.

Touya’s upped the assholery 1000 fold in this season. The first one only had him cheating on Yuki with Yayoi. He seemed to feel guilty about it, he kept pretending Yayoi was Yuki because he missed her. Okay, somewhat understandable, I suppose. Cheating’s still a major dick move, but it is slightly understandable here. Understandable, not excusable. He also kissed Misaki and proclaimed his love for her….okay that’s much less understandable. Especially if his one ‘love’ is Yuki.

In this season he continues to sleep with Yayoi until about three episodes from the end, sleeps with Haruka, makes out with Misaki (again), has sex with Misaki, almost has sex with Menou, makes out with Rina, goes out on a date with another woman (whom he later ditches from said date to go with Yayoi for no reason whatsoever. And when I say “ditch” I mean he said he needed to go to the bathroom and never intended on coming back. She was a nice pretty girl and Touya just ditches her in the middle of a date for no reason. What’s worse is that the final shot they show of her is her waiting in the restaurant saying she’ll never date again. Touya, you’re a dick. At least say something came up and you needed to leave. Don’t act like you’ll be right back and then ditch her. What’s even worse is that he strung her along first by calling her a savior goddess. Jeez.) and strings along Mana.

All without remorse and eventually even becoming blase about his relationship with Yuki – the one he still won’t friggin’ end.

This season also brings up a lot of confusing and pointless moments. Like, though I don’t mind the thought, why did Akira get hit by a car? It added nothing, he suffered no actual injuries besides a scratch on the head and he was back to work days later. I’ll tell ya why. It got you to watch the next episode because that was a cliffhanger moment. So useful!

I could’ve done with White Album if they left it as it was in season one, but no…

Characters

Touya: You can basically understand my thoughts on his character already. He turns into a super-ultra ass in this season, yet still holds his relationship with Yuki for no reason. Did you know they barely ever have screentime together? Ever.

How can you root for a couple that we hardly ever see together? We see him with the other girls a lot more than Yuki. Again, I honestly don’t understand why he never dumped her. Why pretend you guys are in love when you barely even like each other by this point?

In addition, in the scene where Akira gets hit by the car, all he’s worried about when he gets to the hospital is how he’ll handle it if Haruka’s upset with it. Nice. Some friend you are. He’s completely unlikable, boring when he’s not being an ass and I wish HE had been hit by a car at some point.

Akira: Like Touya, he’s upped the assholery quite a bit this season. He’s still an angry jackass, only now he’s a sex hound. He tries to sleep with Misaki in Touya’s father’s house (right after he came home from having a heart attack!) and then gets pissed because she doesn’t want to do it, justifying it by that they’ve been dating for a month (a whole MONTH! Wow, why aren’t you married yet?) and it’s time that they did. Feh.

Also, he states that if she ever had tea with Touya, he’d dump her in a heartbeat. True love right here, folks. I mean, I wouldn’t trust Touya to be alone with my shoes, but that’s a complete lack of trust in Misaki as well. He also seems barely bothered after she broke up with him. He was even on a date with Haruka smiling a few days later…

Eiji:
Eiji didn’t have that much of an impact on the first season, but he was a jerk there and he’s still one here. Also, he’s out of his damned mind. I’m dead serious. The reason he’s a jerk is that he basically treats his sister, Rina, as an object. He believes Rina has overstayed her welcome in the music world and keeps trying to replace her with his new star, Yuki, despite the fact that Rina is still a huge sensation.

The reason he’s insane is because he’s completely obsessed with this painting he saw when he was a musician. It was so amazing that he was moved to tears whenever he saw it. He was so obsessed with it that he tried to obtain the painting for years, but kept getting ‘copies.’ However, he was just under the delusion that they were all copies of the same painting, when, in reality, the paintings were all drastically different and he was just imagining that they looked exactly the same.

He has a mental breakdown and it’s revealed that he doesn’t even remember what the painting looked like. So impacting that he doesn’t even remember what it looked like….just that it had a girl and a lily. Wow.

Yuki: Yuki’s even more of a doormat in this season. She actually finds out that Touya has been cheating on her and lying to her along with a bunch of other people, yet she still doesn’t dump him or even confront him about it.

Yuki wants the best of both worlds by trying to maintain her relationship with Touya and staying as a pop idol, but she makes little to no effort to see him or make time for him. The most conversations they have is by phone tag – just leaving messages for each other on the answering machine.

It’s obvious that she cares more about her career than him, yet she still won’t let him go. I questioned many times whether or not Yuki actually loved Touya at all during this season. Their relationship has the emotional depth of a sippy cup. Why are they the main couple?

Oh and, get this, she won’t make an iota of effort to see Touya because she doesn’t want to hinder her career, but she says she’ll quit her career because Rina said she was leaving the record label. LOGIC.

Also, when she finds out that Touya’s a lying ass, she bites into her hand so hard that she creates a puddle of blood on the ground….Ya know what? Maybe they deserve each other…

Rina: Rina was the one character who I still pretty much liked in the end. However, she does make out with Touya. She owns up to it with Yuki immediately, though. And she still shows that she’s a strong character and a good friend.

Misaki: Misaki turned horrible in this season. She makes out with Touya, later sleeps with him (granted, he was grieving, but still.) takes a job from an old boyfriend who apparently got her pregnant and wouldn’t support the baby. Then he became a huge dick to her and tried to stab her later.

By the way, I have no clue what happened to the baby, if there was one. She willingly creates a trashy article for him as well. It’s a side plot that seems unfinished and sloppy. She’s also not being fair to Akira by being with him. It’s obvious she went with him because he loved her and she couldn’t have Touya. She dumps him, which is more than I can say for Yuki, but geez.

Haruka: Haruka also lost her likability in this season. Not terribly much, but she ends up practically throwing her(naked)self at Touya and then sleeps with him. Also, we have no clue what happened to her brother, nor why she stopped playing tennis because of it. In addition, I really got sick of her monotone personality….

Yayoi: Still a whore. Next.

Menou: Not much comes out of the new character of Menou. We find out that she’s Mana’s older sister that their mother uses as a singing icon, she was Touya’s first savior goddess and…she’s pretty…what’s the word….sleazy? I don’t know.

Mana: Mana’s still a brat in this season, but she never kisses or makes out/sleeps with Touya. Her affection, what she chooses to show of it, remains stilted and one-sided. However, she does have a complete and utter flip out mid-season. Destroys her entire room for very little reason.

Misc. Issues

There’s no couple that you really want to root for…in this romance anime. There are three main guys in this series, Touya, Akira and Eiji. I’ve already explained why they’re either assholes or jerks plus insanity. Most of the girls also become very unlikable.

If you root for any pairing, you will definitely find a reason to not want them together. At the beginning, I wanted Touya to go with Haruka, but seeing what an ass he was to her this whole series, I believe he didn’t deserve her and she didn’t deserve to be with an ass. Later on, I rooted for Rina and Touya, but again I liked her too much to encourage her to go with Touya. So I figured, screw it, let him go with Yayoi. They’re perfect for each other. Both heartless sex fiends.

If anything, the best pairing in this series is Rina and Yuki. They have a really great relationship where both would gladly sacrifice everything for the happiness of the other and they get along really well. I usually don’t purposely make yaoi/yuri pairings in shows unless the characters themselves are solidified as being gay, but tell me this relationship wouldn’t work.

In a show that is based off of a dating sim, especially when you go the extra mile to try and explore every avenue, you have to have at least one pairing that you can root for. Even if it’s not the main pairing.

School days even had me rooting for Kotonoha and Makoto to some extent, even if he was major assholedickjackass who didn’t deserve her and likely would’ve kept up his cheating ways—okay I’m starting to regret this one now. Rumbling Hearts had me rooting for Haruka. I rooted for no one in the end of this. I hope he ended up alone and so did Yuki….

Let me try to explain the actual ending. Touya flashes back to when he really first met Yuki. Apparently he saved Haruka and Yuki from bullies by pissing his pants, putting it on his hands and chasing the bullies away by showing them his hands.

“If only a boy with piss on his hands wasn’t here” Wow writing staff, did you write that as a serious line? Like, really?

Afterward, Yuki is prompted by Touya’s father to encourage him or whatever so she gives him a medal made out of a piece of wood. He throws it into the woods. His father yells at him to retrieve it, but he never does. The emotional trauma from that string of events (that’s actually how they describe it) made him seal off his memories………..Does anyone need to fertilize about 300 gardens because that is a massive pile of bullshit.

Also, the reason he never found it was because Haruka took it and hid it. Don’t ask. I don’t care and they barely explain why.

The end is a big mystery. Rina and Yuki sing together on stage and apparently become a duo act now being handled by Frankie. Someone (either Rina or Yuki) writes a goodbye note to Touya on the mirror of the dressing room. Yuki leaves Touya a note that doesn’t say anything. Then Touya waves to someone as we fade out for the last time and hear all the girls (and guys, because…..I dunno) say Touya’s name. Basically, though the writers seem to want to point to one couple the entire series and this episode, the ending is left ambiguous to please any fan of any other pairing. Or please none of them. Take your pick.

Art and Animation: Same quality level of the last season.

Voice Acting: Same.

Music: Didn’t like the music as much in this season. The final song was fairly nice, though.

Bottomline: If you, for any reason, liked the first season, leave it at that. This season will make you hate almost everyone. In addition, if you do root for any pairing, there’s no real satisfying ending to any pairing. Even his relationship with Yuki amounts to little to nothing. I guarantee that you won’t find happiness over the horizon.

If you do like it, stop at the end of season one. Still no happiness over the horizon, but it’ll likely save you from hating practically every character and pairing.

Additional Information and Notes: White Album season 2 was produced by Seven Arcs. The second season was directed by Taizō Yoshida. It was written by Hiroaki Sato.

Episodes: 13

Year: 2009

Recommended Audience: More sexual situations and fanservice shots than the last season. Also more mature themes. 15+?