YAMISHIBAI: JAPANESE GHOST STORIES Season 1 Review: Clean-cut Terror in 5 Minutes

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Mark King:

Straight outta Another Castle, my latest anime review has come to the form of Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories – SEASON 1.

Originally posted on Another Castle:

Want something horror-related that’s not overloaded with shock value? Looking for something like that is a challenging feat in media today, particularly in anime. In this case, ILCA’s Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories happens to fits the bill in delivering the rich terror atmosphere the show provides. Making its debut Summer 2013 on Crunchyroll, Yamishibai is an anime series of short horror stories based on Japanese myths and urban legends. As one of many anime shows to have each episode go by a 5-minute run time, it attempts to serve terror and chills as a horror short form.


Conducting an ominous and creepy style, the ante is upped with a unique addition of picture-story — stop-motion style paper puppets playing out the show. It may be horror yet it never had a thought of being excessive in typical gory and violent horror tropes. The tension and ghostly atmosphere enough keeps the viewer marginally invested during the course of the entire run. The pace of the show is…

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The ACADEMY Part 1: The Oasis Destiny

WARNING: The following story material may contain acts of violence and adult content. This is not intended for audience below the age of 18. Reader discretion is advised.


Uozu, Toyama, Japan.


A man named Tiberus Ellis is sitting in a restaurant in three other people with him, as he received news that he might step down from a prominent position.

“It seems that we have reached an impasse in our little group, haven’t we, Ellis?” a woman (Admeta Kallas) said talking to one of her associates in a small time restaurant, drinking milk tea. “We’re about 6 months away from you retiring your status in The Academy and you haven’t decided on a successor yet.”

“Admeta, the reason for that is simply that I don’t have anybody to take my place. I got no protégé, no one to follow into my footsteps, not even a son or daughter to carry on my legacy.” He retorted back to her, “You might as well said I should just give this to anybody.”

“Maybe you should.” One other guy (Delrio Staley) said to him while the others looked at him shockingly befuddled.

“Or maybe you don’t listen to Staley about it.” Admeta said. “Really, this job isn’t some burger joint position some schmoe can easily excel the first day. This is one of our sacred positions that most of the world doesn’t even know about and you want him to bring in out in the open?!?” She kept her complaint to a minimal sound level so the patrons at the restaurant don’t hear her.

“Anything troubling you, miss?” The waitress said to her.

“Oh no, everything’s fine here. Just small talk.” Admeta said as they resume talking.

“Hey, I’m not saying we should just tell the world about us.” Ellis said, “We just need to find the right person for the position.”

“But how?” the last member (Terri Macias) said to him. “Unless you pull a few random people out of your ass, how is this going to work?” He was about to answer but then he got up and needed to go the bathroom to think ponder more about the ordeal. “What? I was curious.”


“I’ll check up on him. Get some more of that tea for me.” Staley said.

Ellis was washing his face and looking himself in the mirror, thinking about how and what way to choose his next successor and suddenly as he heard his phone asking him to do a random select call but he refused. But then, he thought of an idea.

“Hey, you good, man?” Staley said, “Our order’s just arrived. Hey man, food’s getting cold.”


“Staley?” Ellis said, “I just thought of an idea. An idea so ingenious that it could be crazy to work. Alarm Admeta and Terri about this. We can do something to change the world!!”

The Academy Logo





“FIRED!!!! I’m fired? But……how…..why, Tony?” One guy in distress said after finding out he’s been let go.

“I’m sorry, Nariaki, but the corporate heads wanted me to let go of some people and—“

“And yet, I’M THE ONE THEY PICKED TO LET GO?” he screamed very furiously at his boss. “I’ve worked harder than everyone else in here!!! I ALWAYS SHOW UP HERE ON TIME READY TO WORK AND THE LAST TO LEAVE!!! I mean, what was the fucking deal?”

Tony sighed in stress, but then said to him, “Nariaki, I don’t like this as much as you do. I fought for you. I swear I did but they said to me that since you’re too much of a Good Samaritan for them. People said that you sometimes persuade them to NOT buy some of the products there and it hurt potential business for our partners.”

“WHAT?!? I’m trying to help people out!! You want me to bullshit them on the details and lie to them? WE LOSE BUSINESS THAT WAY!! Tell them that shit!” Nariaki said as he punched the wall of his (soon-to-be former) boss’ wall.

“I tried, man. I really did but…..they really want you out of here immediately.” He said, “Believe me, I don’t want to get rid of you, man.”

Nariaki tried to calm down and settle himself. “I know, I know…..It’s just that….how am I gonna find another job? This has been the only job that kept me and my sister afloat ever since—“ His boss knew what he was going to mention and then went to him and said, “It’s OK, I know…I really wish that whole deal with your parents didn’t happen, especially to nice folks like them and you and your sister. Come on, I’ll walk you to your car.”


“You think you might give me a good recommendation?” Nariaki said.

“Of course, man.” He said, “I’m not going to deny you that. This could take some time though.”

“Well, guess I’ll see you around.” Nariaki said, “Later, Boss.”

“Later, man.” As the two men said their goodbyes for now, Nariaki went on back to his apartment him and his 14-year-old sister Mai lives in.



“Dammit, how am I gonna break this to Mai?” he said walking upstairs. “It’s bad enough I barely made enough to support the both of us but with this shit and a—“

Then he saw a note saying he’s a week late on his rent. “THE FUCK!!?? I thought I paid that already!!” Then he noticed the small print where he says that he needed $50 more to pay it this month. He sarcastically shouted, “Oh, great!! A perfect time to this to happen!!” As he threw the notice in anguish and stress.

But then as that happen, somebody is coming up to their apartment and she went to him and said, “Need any help there, stranger?”

“Oh, hey, Emi.” Nariaki said sulkily.

“Nari, you feeling alright?” she asked, “You looking mighty depressed today. Something’s the matter?”

He showed her the late rent notice on his door.

“Just some late rent? No problem! I can help you chip in on that while you owe me the next time you get a pay—“ Then Nariaki stopped Emi from getting her wallet and said to her, “Actually, that’s just part one of the problem.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“I may not get a paycheck this week.” He said as he went inside his apartment.

FIRED??!” Emi said, “Wait, you’re fired? But why? How? You….you didn’t steal anything from them, did you?”

“What? NO!!!!” Nariaki said, “They let me go!! They said I was too much of a Good Samaritan for them and I was losing business there.”

“Well, you did tell me to not buy those speakers that one time.” Emi said, “And that time you said that I could save more money buying this hard disk drive instead of a whole new computer that one time.”

“SEE! I’m very helpful!!”

“Yep, you are, I’ve known that about you since I’ve known you but they want you to also make a sale.” Emi asked. “Granted, it’s still messed up you got let go but still….” He didn’t want to say anything else after that. He knew what the answer was going to be.

“Didn’t your boss say anything to them, by the way?” she asked.

“Tony tried!! I knew he didn’t wanted me to be fired and yet they wouldn’t budge….and now, this shit. How am I gonna make a living now?” Nariaki said, “That was the only job I had since our parents died.”

Emi sighed at that, “Nariaki, I understand that you got your pride and wanting to provide by your own means but here’s the thing: you are this close to getting kicked out of here and it’s not only your ass but Mai’s as well and along the way, you do need a little help here and there.”

Then Nariaki said to her, “I get that but I was always taught not to be a burden to anyone, especially people I care about.”

“It’s not being a burden if the other person offers.” Emi said. “Look, in the meantime, here’s $50 and I don’t expect it to be paid back quick. I’m doing this because I want to, not because I have to.” They heard Mai coming up the apartment as she say goodbye to her friends.

“OK, I’ll take the money.” He said, “But I don’t want her to worry about this just yet.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Emi said, “I can keep a secret.”


“NARI!! I’M HOME!!!” Mai shouted as she gets inside the apartment. “I got some food and stuff and things!!”

“Stuff and things?” Emi said, “She doesn’t have a Tumblr, does she?”

“Oh, hey Emi.” Mai said.

“Hey, Mai! You doing alright?”

“I’m doing fairly okay. Someone was doing a food drive today and I decided to grab some things since we don’t have much food.” Mai said, “And from what happened last week—“




“GIVE ME THE CHICKEN, NARI!!! I HAVEN’T EATEN ALL DAY!!” Mai said as she was chasing Nariaki throughout the house.

“I GAVE YOU THE HOT WINGS EARLIER!! THIS IS MINE!!” Nariaki said. But then Mai went to kick him in the shin but as he went down, his wide-opened mouth landed on Mai’s foot.

“OWWWWWWW!!! MY FOOT!!” Mai said as Nariaki chews on her foot.



“—We needed something to last us more than a week and for him not to bite me in the foot.” That led to Emi slapping the back of Nariaki’s head and saying, “Next time, dodge him and make sure to bite him in the foot.” As she laughed at him.

“For the record, I didn’t bite your foot. My mouth just happens to be near your floor where your feet are at.”


“Yeah, yeah, sure, sure.” Mai said.

“Anyway, I got to run. I’ll talk to you guys later.” Emi said, “And Nari…..don’t forget to tell her what happened. See YA!”

“Bye, Emi!!” Mai said, “Wait, what did she mean by what happened? Nari, what’s going on?”

He knew sooner or later he had to tell her about him being fired from his job. “Well, this is going to be quite upsetting but……….I got fired today.”

However, Mai’s expression at that wasn’t overly dramatic but if she expected this to happen. “Well, things like this happen, Nari, I’m sure that you’ll be able to find another job. Hopefully, before we get evicted or some—Wait, what’s that in your hand?” She noticed the piece of paper that Nariaki was firmly grasping and she snatched it out of his hand and it was the rent notice.

“WHAT!?! They’re raising our rent!!! And if we don’t pay them, we’re out of a home?” She said. “And….why was you hiding this from me? You think I couldn’t handle it?!”

“I NEVER SAID THAT!” Nariaki said. “But you thought of it, didn’t you?” Mai said, “Nariaki, we are at a bad place in our lives right now. We don’t have much to live by, we’re going broke every day, we have no steady jobs and yet it happened on today of all days…….the anniversary of Mom and Dad’s death.”

“Mai, I’m doing my best to keep us afloat.” Nariaki said, “I’m only just one man. I can’t do it alone.”

“Then LET SOMEONE HELP US THEN!! I know that Emi wanted to help us a few times but you refused due to some pride complex you got.” She said, “I know you’re only just one guy but sometimes asking for some help doesn’t make you any weak. It’s not like an offer of a lifetime is going to pop up on the screen.”

“I know, I just wish there was”, Nariaki said as he turns on the TV and the news happens to be on.

“Well, I’m about to see what we got to cook for dinner. You want anything, Nari?” Mai asked.

“No, I’m good.” He said.

He was flipping through channels until he tuned into WNN (World News Network) and it was on a Breaking News Bulletin.

“Attention, we have just received breaking news live from Toyama, Japan that Tiberius Ells, world leader of the prestigious Nations group, the Academy, will retire his name as Head Leader but instead of simply choosing his successor, he was brought it up to himself to choose a random stranger.”


“Well, maybe somebody who gets that cushy job is luckier than me.” Nariaki said. “I would kill to get a job like that.”



Ellis gets up on the podium in front of every journalist, photographer and live cameras all over the world. “Good morning, afternoon, and evening, ladies and gentlemen. I, Tiberius Ellis of the Academy, is officially retiring my position as head leader and I brought it upon myself and my fellow colleagues that I should name my successor…….but here’s the deal. The successor in question could be anyone at this point.”

“Excuse me, sir?” Said one reporter, “What do you mean by that?”

“My good sir, what I’m implying is that we’re in the process of selecting random people from all over the world to be one of our next leaders of tomorrow.” The crowd then reacted wildly to that statement, sending every reporter on a journalistic frenzy and questioning why this decision is going around to any random person in the world.

Admeta then said to the crowd, “Ladies and gentlemen, we will now take the time to answer some of your burning questions.”

“Yes, you in the middle section?”

“Sí, se trata de Alberta Chingo de WNN España, ¿cómo va a ser capaz de saber cómo los receptores reciben la llave? (Yes, this is Alberta Chingo from WNN Spain, how will you be able to know how the receivers get the key?)”

“Well, Ms. Chingo,” Admeta said, “We have made a special invitation for those random people.” Then Terri brought out a special-made key placed in a pillow. “What you see here is called the A-Key. The A-Key can instantly recognize your fingerprint once you receive it, your data will be transfer to our HQ where we know if it’s you.” Then Admeta brought out, “However, if you lose the key and/or try to make a fake one, you will be disqualified and sent home if you even bother to arrive there in the first place. There is only 30 keys made and many have been randomly shipped to anywhere in the world. From the U.S. to Brazil to Greece and maybe even here at Japan.”

Then Staley talked a bit about it, “If you choose to bring a companion with you, you may do so but you can only bring a minimum of 2 people with yourselves. In other words, don’t bring your whole damn family here. This isn’t a reunion….we want you to be not as awkward here.”

“I believe that concludes our press meeting, folks.” Ellis said, “Thank you for your time and patience. We will get back with those who’ve received those keys.”

Nariaki turned off the TV, feeling more fed up than he already is. “Man, if one of those keys was landed here, I’d be there in a heartbeat. Being one of the leaders of the free world means I can shape this world into…..well, not that shitty. At least you and I will live better than this.”

Mai then said to him, “Well, I would like to happen someday but you heard what they said. They’re doing random selection and what are the odds they might pick us? I’m sorry if I sound negative or unusual but it could be anyone in the world.”

“You’re not being negative. You’re just being a realist.” Nariaki said.

Mai then continued, “Well, I try to look on the bright side. Anyway, do you still want some—“

“No, I’m going to bed.” Nariaki said, “Maybe a good night’s sleep can make me less irritable.”

“But it’s 5……in the evening. It’s not even dark yet.” Mai said.

“Good night, Mai.” He said as he closed his door and just flopped to his bed.

Mai said, “OK……I’m going to go at a friend’s house after I eat. And please, Nari, try not to think about what happen today too much.”

“K!” he shouted.




Nariaki woke up still sleepy, so he went to Emi’s apartment to get some weed from her.

*knock knock* However, as he got inside with the door unlocked, it looked like Emi was passed out asleep in just her shorts and a blanket.

“Emi? Emi?” he said as he tried poking her to wake her up.

“Damn, I forgot that Emi is a heavy sleeper after she blazed up. I suppose she don’t mind if I get some. Hell, she got enough to last me a while.” He saw and grabbed the bag of weed but then as he begin to walk out the door, he saw something glowing on his floor mat.

“The hell is that on the floor mat?”

“I believe the question is….” Mai woke up grabbing Nariaki’s neck from behind, “…what are you doing pinching off my stash?”

“What? You always let me get some of it.”

“YEAH!! By giving SOME TO YOU, NOT FOR YOU TO SNEAK IN MY APARTMENT WHILE….” Then she noticed that she’s completely topless now and right here Nariaki can see it all. “AAHHH!!” she screamed quickly as she grabbed the blanket to cover herself.

“Um……need some help there?” he asked.

Then she went and punched him silly before booting him out of her apartment. “Ow……..I didn’t look that much.” He limped his way to his door back to his apartment. “I mean, I saw a little and….she really—“

Then he forgot that she was hearing him the whole time and hit him again.

“I really what?” she said, “You peaked, didn’t you?” “I DIDN’T MEAN TO GLIMPSE!! I FORGOT YOU OFTEN SLEEP NAKED!! DON’T HIT ME AGAIN!!” He screamed mercilessly.

“Look, I’m not going to hit you, Nari. I already did that with you taking my weed and if you wanted to blaze, next time, just call me and I’ll bring you one.” Then Emi then noticed his glowing floor mat. “You might want to check under your—“

“I’m going to.” He said and then as he uncover the mat. He sees the envelope listed as “Current Resident” so it can be anything in there. “I hope this isn’t some crappy offer on some gaudy jewels or some sh—“ As he opens the envelope, he couldn’t believe what he saw. It was an A-Key and as soon as he touched it, the key instantly got his print signature and ID. “Your name is Nariaki Kanemoto. Age 19, born on June 19th. Your sign is Gemini. You are eligible to qualify to be in The Academy.”

“Oh….my…..GOD!!! EMI!!” He screamed as he quickly run into her house (again).

“OK, second time barging in my house. Be lucky I’m wearing a shirt this time and you better have a good—“

He stopped her to show her the A-Key in all its glory.

“WHOA!!! And what in the squawky fuck is that?” she asked.

“Emi, my very sweet and understanding friend, this is called the A-Key and it’s gonna lead me into a new life. A BETTER LIFE!! A life I can provide for myself and Mai.”

“That still doesn’t explain everything.” She said.

“I’ve seen this on TV. You know of Tiberius Ellis?”

“Yeah.” She said, “Although I think he’s kind of an egotistic asshole. Why?”

“Well, I’ve heard on TV that he retiring his title as leader of The Academy and he sent out these keys to anyone around the world to participate in this event.”

“Why couldn’t he just pick his successor like any other free leader?” she responded, “Seems kinda shady and a bit suspicious.”

“I could ask why and I should—BUT I REALLY DON’T CARE!!!” Nariaki said, “I got me a key and a chance to fame, fortune—“

“Not to mention the responsibility of keeping track of the world and fulfilling your duties as a ruler and figurehead.” Emi said. “And I figure with that big head of yours, you thought you would’ve been smarter about this.”

“I am.” He said, “I have no job so nothing is going to stop me from doing it.”

“What about Mai? How are you going to explain to her that you’re traveling all the way to wherever the hell you’re going to?” Emi said.

“Well………..it’s at Thailand.” Nariaki said.

“Wow……Thailand……and how in the fuck can you afford that? Where’s the money coming from?”

Then the A-Key said to them, “Every participant will receive an amount of $50,000 for traveling purposes, hotel housings, eateries, and other necessities. We at the Academy will monitor what you spend and how you spend the money.”

“Well, that’s convenient.” Emi said.

“And may I ask who your companion is? The woman with the scent of marijuana and fudge?”

“HEY!!!” She screamed, “I don’t smell like fudge that much.”

“The woman is identified as Emi Sato, age 21, born on April 14th, your sign is Aries and actually, yes, you do smell a bit like fudge and marijuana. There is also signs that you masturbate in your room numerous times.”

“NO I DON’T, SHUT UP!!” she screamed as she blushed on that last part.

“Make me.” The A-Key said.

“OK, Will you relax, girl?” Nariaki said, “The key is the start of a great life for us and we want you to be a part of it, too.”

“I don’t know about this.” Emi said.

“Emi, you’ve been our friend since the beginning and you even looked after me and Mai ever since our parents died. We owe you that much but not because I have to, I want to. So what do you say?” As he extend his hand for her confirmation.

She thought about this long and hard. “Well…..you know what? I’m in. Besides, you might need me in case you get in some bullshit.”

“YES!!” he said as he hugged her.

“But……you didn’t answer my question? How are we going to tell Mai?” Emi said.

“I think I got it under control.”




“So you want me to come with you on this trip to Thailand?” Mai said. “But…..aren’t we broke right now? Why do we need to go on a trip right now? I thought you were focused on trying to find another job.”

Then Nariaki began to dig inside his pocket. “You see, Mai, the thing is that this trip could lead to another job.” And then he showed her the A-Key in all its glowing glory.

“Nari, what is that golden key for?”

“Mai……this is something that is going to change our lives for the better!!!” Nariaki excitingly said. “This is a key that can make us rich beyond our powers!! It’s—“

Then Mai threw a luggage bag at him and said to Mai, “It’s something called the A-Key and according to them, this is some contest where he might have a chance of being the next leader of the Academy.”

Mai then asked them, “Wait, you mean he sent out keys to any random stranger instead of just choosing his successor like a normal ruler? Um…..why would he—“ Emi then said to her, “I have no idea but your brother is gung-ho on getting us there and I supposed we can use the free trip.” Then Mai went to see the key and as she does, it instantly checks her identification. “You are Mai Kanemoto, age 14, born on September 29th, your sign is Libra. I sense you are joining your brother and his masturbating friend?”

“Yes, I am.” Mai said awkwardly, “Masturbating friend?”

“HEY!! Will you stop bringing that shit up to people?” Emi said, “The whole world doesn’t need to know this!”

The key then explained to all three of them, “All 3 persons have been registered on this key. You can’t register any more people than three. You are now set your destination to arrive in Thailand. If you need to go through more options, such as, tracking your competition, what’s left in your account, and how many miles to get your destination, say the password written on this card but keep it and this key on your person at all costs. Lose this and your chances are zilch. Good luck to all of you and have a safe trip.”

Nariaki then grabbed the key and put it safe in his inner pants pocket inside the pocket of that. “OK, we should be good to go. We got all the money in our palm and that key.”

“Exactly when we get there, what do you have to do there?” Mai asked.

“I dunno, it’s possibly some essay contest or something.” Nariaki said.

*SMACK* As Emi slapped him across his head. “If this was that, then why the fuck you could’ve done it digitally?”

“Wait, I said that it could be that but I don’t know.” He said.

“Technically, she’s right, Mr. Kanemoto. We have nothing about an essay contest and we can’t reveal anything else until we get there. The people in the Academy will explain everything.” The A-Key said.

As all 3 of them begin to leave, Nariaki also reminded them, “Now remember, no one can know about us and the key. People will try to rob us for it if they found out about it.” Mai then said to him, “You think that many people are snatching keys from unsuspecting owners?”


“If so,” Emi asked as she’s packing in a handgun, “Then we need some protection.”

“OK….Where did you get that?” Nariaki sternly asked. “You know they don’t allow guns in airports, right?”

Then Emi pulled out a boat brochure, “Actually, we’re taking this more on ocean than air.”




Meanwhile all over the world, more A-Keys are arriving in various countries and places, from the poorest slums in India to the richest palaces in France, many people have received and activated A-Keys all over the world. So far, only 20 A-Keys have been activated and registered but on the negative side, only 4 have been robbed of theirs according to the A-Key database in Thailand.

“Tiberius,” Admeta said to him, “We have learned that 4 keys have been compromised by thieves in London. There were no fatalities reported but we can’t allow them to enter here. Who knows what they might do if they manage to arrive here?”

“Admeta, my dear, don’t worry about a thing.” He said, “I got somebody to take care of that problem.”


Over in London, a cellphone rings and one guy in a black trench coat answered it. “Hey, I heard that you were a damn good assassin. I got some vermin I need you to exterminate due to…..well, let’s say they got their hands on something they shouldn’t have. My reward for you is that. After all, it seems right that you should get something out of this.”

After that discussion, the assassin spots two guys with 3 A-Keys on them as they quickly run back into their lair nearby a pier down by the river as they discuss about them staging a takeover at the Academy and robbing the others of their keys and extracting the money given to them. Soon the guy cuts their power off, getting them to check the circuit breaker outside.

The first guy went to check on it in the dark of the night. He got a flashlight to look if someone purposefully or accidentally turned it off.


He heard a few swooshing sounds in the distance as he tried to hurry up the situation. It sounds like it was getting closer and closer but suddenly, it stopped. Then all of a sudden, it started to play music in the background and he sees the black trench coat guy in the background smiling and grinning with something behind his back.

“Hey!! You!! Yeah, you. What the hell are you smiling and grinning about?” He kept closer to the guy and got up his face and said to him, “What you got to grin…..boy?”

Then the man whispered to his ear and said, “I tell you.” And quickly, he grabbed his neck and stabbed him three times, twice in the chest and once in his neck. He quickly dropped him to the ground as the guy gave his death blood gargle and snatched two of the registered A-Keys on him as the other one was finding a way to extract the money from the Academy’s account.

Black trench coat guy then grabbed some keys to one of the trucks to block the guy’s door from getting out. The other guy checked out his window to see if something amiss but from his view, nothing was happening at the moment….that is, until he noticed his partner bleeding from his body as he saw his body thrown on the ground.

“Oh GOD!!!” He screamed and shouted. “LET ME OUT!! WHAT THE HELL!!” He tried to open the door but he was too late as the truck blocked his exit and he also noticed that the A-key has mysteriously disappeared and by that, I mean BTC guy grabbed it from the window and also poured kerosene in there along on the lair, the truck and the other dead body. He quickly escaped as he lit the place on fire with the thief still inside but as the thief tries to get out, he budged the door through but the place was starting to collapse on him and as he screams to his death, the place exploded in a fiery rage.

He soon gets a call from Ellis, “The deed is done, I presume?”

“You are correct, sir.” He said, “I got your keys. I’ll get to erase their data on there as soon as I get to my place.”

“No worries. One of those is yours and you earn it.” He said, “Welcome to the Academy….um, what should I call you?”

“Just call me…..Freighter.”


“A boat? A BOAT!! Why we got to go on a boat, Emi?” Nariaki said and complaining about going by sea instead of air. “That could take a long while to get to Thailand before-“, suddenly she had to shut his mouth for him by smacking him in the face.

She then calmly exclaimed, “Look, if we got by air, airports are going to search our luggage and they’re gonna find that key and wonder what the hell we’re doing with it and people are going to look at us and see it and might kill us for it.”

“But won’t the same thing happens to us on sea, Emi?” Mai asked.

“True. But I got a deal on a boat that we can use, plus I and the owner are pretty tight with each other so I’ll get a good deal on it.” They went into the boat lot and see this Hawaiian shirt-wearing guy approaching them.

“RILEY!!” she said. “EMI, MY GIRL!!! I set up a great deal on you with a boat. It’s been used only once but I cleaned it out just for you. Hmmm….and I see you got some friends with you.”

“Yeah, these are some longtime friends of mine, Nariaki and his sister Mai. Guys, this is Riley. He’s one of my long-time contacts and loyal weed customer.” As she boastfully brags about that. “So the boat’s all good?”

“Yeah, yeah, you’re all set for your little trip overseas. Everything is in order and you did promised me one thing before I left and I definitely want to see it.” The look on his eyes indicated that he wanted a sexual favor out of them and Nariaki sensed it very early. “Um, wait, by favor you mean that you’re gonna—“. Then he whispered whatever he had to say to Emi.

“What? Why the fuck would I do that for him? What do you think of me, as a whore?” she said.

“OK, if not you, then…..oh my GOD!!” He admittedly thought of worse as he suspected it was Mai and that cause Emi to slap him and said, “NO!! Why would I do that to Mai? He meant you, you jackass!!”

“WAIT, ME!!” he shouted.

Riley then said to him, “Well, before you came here, Emi promised me that I…..saw your penis.”

“WHAT!? EMI, REALLY?” he said.

“PSYCH!!! Ha-ha!!” he laughed as he fooled Nariaki on that trick. “Dude, I was just fucking with you. Emi and I planned that while we was talking about the boat.” “UH……..OK.” he awkwardly said.

“Oh and in case you were wondering, yes, I’m gay.” Riley said. “And I’m cool with that.” Nariaki said.

Soon they were off to sail to Thailand and Nariaki is still feeling awkward after what just happened.

“So, since we got a long way to go from here to Thailand, how do we kept the boat going for so long?” Nariaki said.

“Easy. We take 4-hour shifts on who’s driving it. It shouldn’t take any more than 8 hours to get there and we probably should make that 3 hours instead.” Emi said, “Also, you’re going to be the one to take first shift since this is your idea after all.”

“But did I almost have to show my—“

Then the A-Key interrupted and said, “I think your friend has a point, Mr. Kanemoto. Your location is less than 9 hours from here and the latter hour will be on land and the strategy she points out works well here.”

“See? The key agrees with me.” Emi said, “And I bet no one is gonna find us in this vast land of ocean. We are all good, you’re gonna keep sailing this boat and I’m going to relax for a couple of hours and hang out with Mai.” Then she pats him on the back and said, “See ya in 3 hours, Popeye!”

“I sense some sexual tension between you and Emi, Mr. Kanemoto.” A-Key said. “Have you ever thought of her….in a different way? You know…..” The look on Nariaki’s face had the look of “WTF” written all over him. “OK, since when does a key want to know about my personal life?”

“I was just asking to past along the time. It’s gonna be a long ride from here so I figure if you want to talk.” As it exclaimed. “If you really must know, Emi and I have been friends for a long time since we were 7 and that’s all we’ve been. Just friends……..although there was this one dream I had of her where she was in a schoolgirl outfit, she was coming on to me and she was slowly taking off her clothes and she started to take off her—WAIT A FUCKING MINUTE, WHY AM I REVEALING MYSELF TO A DAMN KEY?!??!”

“If it bothers you, sir, I’ll refrain from asking any more questions of that.” She said, “I’ll alarm you if there’s any trouble or competition along the way.”

“Look, if it means anything to you, she has been a big part of my life. She’s a good friend of mine, her and Mai get along together like they’re sisters and she really is a kind person with a good heart.”

“I understand, Mr. Kanemoto.” The A-Key said, “Also you need to turn eastward in 5 minutes.”

“Thank you, A-Key.”


Meanwhile down at the deck, Emi and Mai was listening to some music while snacking and watching a bit of TV.

“So, Mai, how did you take it while Nari told you about him being fired?” Emi immediately asked her.

“Well, to tell you the truth, it was unexpected and it’s not like he hid it from me but sometimes when it comes to him and people helping him, he feels like he’s less of a man and provider for me and I never felt that about him.”

“Mai, I think honestly he does get too stressed out on that and I know he means well for you but his pride just in the way of that. Hell, he’s been like that ever since we were kids.” Emi said, “He felt like he has to be the man of everything.”

Mai then said, “I know. I told him we should stay at your place for a while if you didn’t mind but he—“

“Doesn’t want to feel like a burden.” Both of them said in unison. “Yeah, he said it to me, too.” As Emi said. “And I don’t mind if you two lived with me for a while. I like having you two around and I do want to help keep you inside a home with food and clothes.”

“Thanks, Emi.” Mai said as she went and hugged her.

“No problem.” She said to Mai. “Now since I got 3 hours to kill before my shift, got anything else you wanna talk about? Something you wouldn’t tell your brother about? You know, some girl talk. Just me and you.”

“OK……I, my friends and some girl friends are talking about how everyone was teasing this girl in our school and how she was being teased and make fun of for….well….” She is pointing out to Emi that the girl has plastic surgery.

“Oh, that shit. Your friends aren’t teasing this girl, are they? ARE YOU TEASING THAT GIRL?” She sternly asked.

“No, we don’t do that, Emi! We’re not like that at all.” Mai said. “I was going to say that I remember Nariaki said that you had fake boobs before and you turned out all right for yourself.”

“You mean aside the fact that my mom yells me for not choosing to be a doctor, me smoking weed a lot and—NARI SAID I HAD FAKE BOOBS!?”

“He did that one time when the two of you had a fight about something very long ago.” Mai said. “It was something about you and him and that time this other girl was pushing up to him. The whole thing seemed like a blur to me.”

“Oh…..that time.” Emi said with an annoyed tone. “Excuse me, Mai, I’ll be right back.”


“My arms are getting tired. I wanna go to sleep but I can’t.” Nariaki said, complaining about steering the boat for over an hour. “A-Key, how long do we have until its Emi’s turn to drive?”

“Approximately 2 hours and 5 minutes, sir.” The A-Key said.

“Oh, damn it! How do pirates or captains stand doing this shit all day?” He said. His eyes looked like he was about to lose consciousness from standing in the same position. Then Emi came up to the deck and see how he is doing.

“Any good news?” she said.

“Well, we still got a long time before reaching land and by the looks of it, maybe even longer.” He said.

“Oh, then I got plenty of time to look up on the competition and then kick your ass all day long.” Emi said. “Then how come you didn’t manage to do that earlier and—WAIT, KICK MY ASS?” Then Emi smacked him straight at his head with a shoe and said, “You said I had fake breasts? AND BEHIND MY BACK AT THAT!! You idiot!”

“Wait, don’t hit me!! I’m still driving this thing!” he screamed at her while he’s being chased.

“You called me that behind my back? And to Mai, at that? You knew I developed these when I was 14!! What type of fake-ass lie is that?” she said, “Oh, and mentioning that damn girl Leona. Mai didn’t say her name but I knew it was her.”

“Who?” he said.

“You know, Leona. That girl that tried to flirt with you during my senior year, practically she was throwing herself and her tits to you.” She said. “And some others.” As she said under her breath.

“Oh…..you mean that girl that you’re jealous of?” Emi blushes red in anger and jealousy. “Watch it, boy!”

“YOU ARE JEALOUS OF HER!!” He shouted. “Because she was flirting with me most of the time and you couldn’t handle me not giving any attention to you.”

“WHAT!?!?” Emi angrily said.


As the two bicker and argue, there comes a large sailboat coming within swimming distance of them and from the looks of it by the sword flags, they didn’t look like friendlies. “Hey boss, check out that boat over there.” One of the lackeys said.

The head leader took out his binoculars, takes a look on it and sees Nariaki and Emi still arguing in the distance.

“It’s just some random people arguing and that boat look rickety and kind of shitty.” He said. “Why is it interesting to you?”

He pointed out Emi to kidnap as a hostage. “Her….that girl with the big tits… she looks more valuable than some jewels or money. Don’t you think?” The head boss took a good look at her and immediately told them to set sail on the boat.


And back to the other boat where Mai is coming outside as she kept hearing those two arguing.

“If you didn’t care me flirting with the girl, then why are you acting possessive of me? I thought you trust me with it comes to stuff like this.” Nariaki said.

“I AM NOT POSSESSIVE OF YOU!! I was trying to protect your Boy Scout ass. You can’t see through the bullshit people spew out. You’re that damn naïve and passive!! Maybe that’s the reason why they fired you in the first place!!” she said without holding back.

“At least I was doing a job that doesn’t require a bunch of strange people going in and out of my apartment and wonder why I suck in my life so far!!!!” As he said that without any remorse whatsoever.

Then the three stood in silence after what’s been said as both of them looked at each other without any hesitation.

“Guys?” Mai said, “I’m sure you didn’t mean any of that, right? I mean…..Nari? Emi?”

But before they can exchange words, The A-Key set off an alarm from Nari’s pants pocket. “WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! They are a group of Thai thieves heading this way and they are considered armed and dangerous!! Mr. Kanemoto, you must get yourself and your guests out of here before any harm comes to them.”

He grabs the key from his pocket. “How far are they from us?”

“Closing in 2 minutes away from us. And from the look of their profiles……”

“Please don’t say sex trafficker! Please don’t say sex trafficker! Please don’t say sex trafficker!” Emi screamed out.

“They’re sex traffickers. And they want Ms. Sato for that purpose.” The rest were not shocked.

“Oh, come on!” Then the first gun shot was made as they were coming closer.

“GUN IT, NARI!!” Emi shouted as he quickly speed out of there with the traffickers trying to hijack the boat and mostly kidnap Emi. “Give us the woman or we shoot you in your asshole!!! MAKE A CHOICE!!”

Then Mai grabbed a pole lying down and smacked one of the pirates with it. But then one grabbed Mai from behind and tried to kick her down when Nari made a sharp turn causing one of them to go overboard and one hanging on the boat as well as Mai. The pirate went for his knife to try and stab her but some eels came out of the sea and went into the guy’s pants. He fidgets with the knife and drop it in the sea, along with himself.

Meanwhile, Emi was too busy being chased by one of the pirates and this one was trying too hard to grab her. She swiftly escaped from them one second but the head pirate got her cornered in a tight spot. As for Nariaki and the A-Key, they were avoiding getting shot by one of the shooters as they keep on driving their way and keeping the key hidden from the others.

“A-Key, got any solutions to not have me killed!?!?” Nariaki frantically said.

“Duck and cover.” The A-Key said.

“What? That’s it?!?” he said. “I’m not programmed for any fight choreography.” The A-Key said back.

“DID YOU GET THE BITCH!?” One of the guys shouted but they were too occupied with her biting them and slapping them and then they noticed Mai going back into the inside for help. “Hey, get that other girl while you’re at it!! She’s a small fry but she’ll do!” And now they want their hands on Mai, too. She made her way into the supply closet to grab some bleach, some hairspray and a lighter to pull off something in there.

“HEY!!” As one of the guys found her and makes a run for it and made one of the hallways blocked. “COME BACK HERE, BITCH!!” They screamed as she started to pour the bleach as she runs along with some kerosene she saw on the way there and like a sucker, they went ahead and run at the bleach/kerosene-soaked hallway and Mai lit it up, causing them to frantically run and get burned while they at it.

She sees Emi as she’s running. “We gotta get out of here!! The place is about to blow!!”

“BLOW?” Emi asked as she noticed the kerosene smell. “What did you do?!” The fire was starting to ignite throughout the boat. “WE GOT TO JUMP OUT OF HERE!!”

They eventually grabbed Nariaki. “Nari, we got to bail the boat!!” Mai screamed at him, “It’s gonna BLOW!!”

“What the hell you mean the boat’s going to—“

Emi interrupted him and said, “You wanna live to know that? WE GOT TO GET THE FUCK OUT OF HERE!!” Then as the three jumped into the sea, the boat explodes and kills all the pirates, even making their boat explode as well, leaving them stranded with no ride to get to Thailand.

“What the—Oh, shit. Motherf–. I……We’re so fucked.” He said in his silent voice. “WE’RE FUCKED!!”

“How are we going to get to Thailand now? We can’t make it out here alive or dry!” he said, “Mai, what the hell happened back there? Why did our boat explode out of nowhere? Did they try to blow it up…in which they kill themselves and…?”

“Mai….just say you pour bleach and kerosene to light those fools.” Emi said.

“WHAT?” he shouted. “She have no choice to do that. Those guys could’ve killed us!!!” Emi said. “But to kill them, you had to blow up our only transportation to Thailand? We’re stuck in the middle of the sea now!! Mai, what the hell were you thinking!!!” as he yelled furiously at her but Emi didn’t take that tone of his to Mai very well.

She slapped Nari and said, “LAY OFF MAI!! At least she thought of something to save us!! You were too busy with this international FOOL’S GOLD chase you got in your head!!”

“In which you volunteer to join!!” he mentioned. “And now what?”

“EASY!!” she said, “Get that damn A-Key out and beam up an emergency beacon to save us!!”

Then the A-Key said, “Ms. Sato, I’m sorry to say but I can’t find any signal for any help. I must’ve been fragged from that explosion. Some of the fire got on Mr. Kanemoto as the ship exploded.” Nariaki looked furious at them. “That answer your question?” Then suddenly a large piece of boat drifted towards their way and it looked heavy enough to carry three of them. Mai and Emi got onto it but Nari didn’t felt like getting on there.


“Nari…” Mai said to him but he started to move away from her. “NARI!!” then Emi grabbed him out of anger and dunk his head into the water. “Nariaki, I’m sorry!! I’m really sorry. I know I should’ve thought that out but I was scared. I panicked, OK?” Mai started to show tears and was on the verge to cry. “I thought that I was going to die, OK. Worst of all, I thought you and Emi was, too. I can’t handle another death like this! I just can’t!! Losing you would break me, you two are the only family I got left!”

Nari got out of the water and got into the boat as him and Emi went to comfort her at this time. From the look of their eyes, they decided to put their fight on hold for Mai’s sake and hold to get to dry land as it begins to turn night.



The three of them continue to drift on burned boat to dry land throughout the night. Mai was still asleep while Nariaki is paddling his way with some directions from A-Key that it managed to get while it was still working. While he was paddling, Emi woke up and she wanted to talk to him ever since that fight to resolve some things but Nariaki ended up being the first to speak.

“Did you really meant what you said about me? I’m naïve and too passive?”

Emi then responded to him, “OK…..I admit I gotten too far with that.”

“No, you’re right. I do end up being like that. It explains why I’m without a steady job or a girlfriend as a matter of fact and I really shouldn’t have called you a pothead loser.”

“Nari, what I said to you isn’t exactly right either. You like to see the good in some people and not too many people do that. It makes people less cynical than they usually are. However, what you said about me was hurtful and unfortunately, too true.”

“Oh….yeah.” Nariaki said in a guilty voice. “Emi, I didn’t mean—“

“No, I know you didn’t mean it but most of what you said was true. I’m this pothead trying to make it out of my own because I didn’t care about what I want to be after high school and sure enough, I’m living proof of that.” As she thought some burnt material into the ocean. “Everybody talked about moving to exotic countries, being famous and whatever bullshit fantasy they can come up with if they left on their own but I never been one to dream of that. I’m less stressed like that.”

Then Nariaki said to her, “Emi, I should’ve never said that shit to you earlier. You really have been an awesome person and a better friend to me and Mai. We’re forever indebted to you in that, Emi.” They hugged out their differences and as they do that, Mai woke up and see there are coming close to some land. “Wait, is that….” Nariaki said in awe and realizes that they are indeed headed to land. “YES!!! YES!!!! LAND HO, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!” The amazement in Nari’s voice even alarmed A-Key but it isn’t the brightest news. “Sir, according to my coordinates, it looks like we only arrived in Brazil.”

“Wait, BRAZIL!?” He screamed as the boat went to a screeching halt as he’s thrown overboard by the abrupt stop. “WAIT! How the hell are we in Brazil? I thought I followed the coordinates right.”

“You did, Mr. Kanemoto.” The A-Key said, “But since we are here, I have regain signal 30 minutes before and alarmed the locals and The Academy officials to schedule a flight to Thailand on a private jet.”

“A private jet?” Emi said and squealed with squee.

“Wait, Emi. I thought you said that boats were safe—“

“Forget about that plan!! You remember what happened to that? I say go with the jet with neither of us end up getting killed or sold for sex slavery.” Emi said.

“Yeah, I think in the air doesn’t sound like a bad idea.” Mai said. “I need to relax after that.”





The three of them are boarded on a private jet courtesy of the Academy and not only that, two of the head members are on board with them as well to keep them unharmed and into Thailand in one piece.

One of the members began to speak, “Attention people, my name is Terri Macias and right beside me is Delrio Staley. I know you are wondering why we are here with you en route to Thailand?” Staley then took his turn, “Well, you see, we was here on Academy business and back at the Thai base, we kept hearing about someone with the A-Key being attacked by pirates. The signal was wonky for a while until it got to Brazil and thus here we are.”

“Well, Ms. Macias and Mr. Staley, we thank you for getting us out of that tight spot.” Nariaki said, “We are very thankful and grateful you came just in time. I hope this doesn’t affect my chances in the contest or you in trouble with the Academy.”

“Trouble?” Staley said, “Kid, most of us authorized this and we needed some more guys in the contest as some of the people since some have either lost it and decide to just go on home than show up without one.”

“Good thing I still got it in my pocket.” Nariaki said as he checks it again.

“Oh, don’t worry about it. We went and register you, your sister and friend on the roster,” Terri said. “You’re now entered in the contest along with the 10 people on board.”

“SWEET!!” Nariaki said. “Wait, 10 people on board? Those are the rest of the entries?”

“Yes. Most of the contestants and their accompanied guests as well actually decided to fly here since this is a connecting flight to Thailand.” Terri said, “If you were worried about someone stealing your key, we do have security of ours all over the place.”

“Well….now you think about it, us going by boat is even dumber than before.” He said.

“Not exactly.” Staley said, “It does show you and your friends got different strategies than the others but other than that, you should be fine by tomorrow.” Staley said.

“All right. One more question and it’s that do you have any idea what we are going to do in this contest?”

“But we can’t inform anyone of what it’s going to be until we get to Thailand.” Staley said. “That’s Ellis’ rules, not ours.”

Meanwhile, Emi and Mai are sleeping comfortably in the other room as the plane make its way to its destination. Emi was too occupied with her music and while she was getting into it, she thinks she saw a familiar face passing by the aisle.

“Miss Macias, do you need me to do any more check-ups on the contestants and whatever else they have on their person?” one female assistant asked. “No, thank you, Miss Sasaki. You can rest for the night.”

Staley then said to him, “Oh, Mr. Kanemoto, let us introduce you to our assistant Leona Sasaki.”

“Leona?” Nariaki said.

“Nari, is that you? NARI!! Oh man, it’s been ages since I left high school!” She said as she hugged him very tightly, especially around the chest area. “I knew you were here but I’ve been very busy with planning this contest and helping out, it didn’t blow past my mind but now, you’re here!!”

“I take it you know him before, Leona?” Staley asked.

“Yes, I have.” She said. “Last time I’ve seen you was back at that electronics store you worked at. How’s that going for you?” And with that, he sighed heavily at that as he really didn’t want to tell her that story. “I take it that—,“ She said before Nariaki gave her the signal that she didn’t want to talk about it.

“Oh, I’m sorry about that.” She said.

“Yeah, that sucks and all. But hopefully, with things might change for the better.” He said.

“Yeah, I’m sure it will.” She responded back. “But hey, you might have a chance during this contest but you know I can’t help you on this.” Then Nari said, “I fully understand that.”

“So…..I heard you were travelling with people?” Leona said. “I know one of them is your little sister Mai but who else—“ And that’s when Emi walked into the room and noticing that Leona talking to Nariaki.

“LEONA!!” Emi screamed out. “What in the squawky fuck are you doing here?”

“Oh, hey….um…Emi.” Leona said, “I take it you’re one of Nari’s guests?”

“Yes, but the real question is why are you here though?” Emi said. Terri then explained, “Well, Ms. Sasaki has been working for us for about 3 years now. First, started off as an intern after she graduated high school and now she’s one of the best assistants we’ve ever had.”

“Oh yes, and I’ve been enjoying my time working for them. Visiting and working at places all around the world from Spain to Greece to France, seeing the sights, dining on their cuisine….and had a few admirers, too.”

“And I guess you fucked them, too, huh?” Emi said under silent breath. “What was that?” Leona asked.

“Nothing.” She sneakily said. “Um….Nariaki, can I see you in the other room in a few seconds?”

“OK. Anyway, Leona, I talk to you in a bit after a while.” He said. He went to the other room with Emi and he goes around saying, “Wait, what?”

“She’s in this flight? Of all the people to be an assistant to a Nations group, she had to be the one in the ACADEMY?” she said, “Oh my god, what’s next? She’s a sous chef for them? Massage therapist? French maid?” It seems as jealousy is beginning to rear Emi’s head. “Um, I thought we were past this whole thing since the boat,” Nariaki said, “I never get why you got a beef with Leona.”

“First off, it’s the beef between you and me is past but me and Leona, however…Oh, this is far from being some petty high school thing. There’s a reason why I hated her and distrust her since then and that’s—“ And that’s when she’s interrupted by one of the contestants shouting out for more cognac for him and his buddies. “Come on!! I wanna get drunk before we get there, man!! Can you send that fine-ass assistant girl back here, man!? Shit!!”

“Who the fuck is that?” Emi asked.

“I think that’s the people in the other room.” Mai said as she’s trying to sleep. “Apparently, they can’t get enough of the perks they brought out to us.” As she points to the rolling bottles of beer and liquor coming down the aisle. Then 2 guys come out of the room stinking drunk and looking dazed as all hell. “Hey, man, you see that flight attendant with the boobs—I mean booze?”

“No. Haven’t seen her.” Nariaki said in a calm way.

The other one was too busy looking at the girls, especially Emi. “Damn, baby, you got some tits and ass for days!! I mean, my God, you look tasty, girl!!” And Emi was really getting uncomfortable being around these guys and Mai just kept herself hidden from them. “So, my man, you fucking that girl over there?”

“WHAT!?!” Emi screamed at him.

“Are you hitting that ass, man? I know by the looks, you are, so admit it, man.” Emi was about to grab a bottle and break it upside his head for asking him that question but then some other girl come from the room to stop them. “OK, you know what? You two have done enough drinking for the flight!! You need to get your ass back in the seats, dammit!!”

“Come on, sis. We just having fun and shit.” One of the guys said.

“Trench, just….take you and Bobby back to the room.” She said as they left the room. “I’m sorry that they’ve been disturbing all of you here. Hell, I probably should’ve never left them with that bottle.”

“Well, luckily, they didn’t do anything rash to my friend and sister hiding over there but thanks for your concern.” Nariaki said, “Wait, they’re not in the contest, are they?”

“Oh god, no.” she said as Nariaki sighed with relief. “Actually, I’m in the contest. The name’s Daria Hopper, hailing from New York. Nice to meet you.” She said exchanging pleasantries. “Oh, all right. Nice to meet another contestant here. My name’s Nariaki Kanemoto and this is my friend, Emi and my little sister, Mai.”

“Hello, Nariaki, Emi and Mai. Once again, sorry for my brother Trench and his drunk friend Bobby.” She said. Then Emi went to her and said, “Don’t blame yourself for them acting a fool but be lucky you came in here before I was about to knock your brother out.”

“Hey, wouldn’t be the first time.” Daria said as both of them laughed. “Anyway, it was nice meeting you guys, hope to see you more once we land tomorrow.” Then as she left the room, there was an announcement over the intercom. “Attention, passengers, we have an ETA of 2 hours before we land at the Chiang Mai International Airport. We should land there shortly, ladies and gentlemen.”

“Looks like we might arrive shortly.” Nariaki said, “Might as well get some shuteye.” After that, both the girls fell fast asleep and soon did Nari.



Morning came and the plane has landed into Chiang Mai Airport and we meet up with most of the contestants. Alongside with Daria, we meet up with most of the participants and their accompanied guests.

“Hmmmm……I always pictured Thailand to be a bit different.” One guy said.

“Like how?” his friend asked beside him.

“With more transsexual hookers.”

“Man, we are at a fuckin’ airport. We might see something of them.” That dialogue come from contestant Ari Minor and his traveling companion, Kellogg. “Ari, my boy, we have a lot to do in this glorious city but we got to stick to this Academy thing today.”

“I don’t know. The shit looks mighty shady, Kel. I mean, they think I can be a part of that group?”

“Think about it, man. If you end up winning that contest, you get the money, fame, recognition and most of all, the bitches, man!! Those bitches will come crawling to you so they can be fucked by someone with power!!”


Then there is one guy who was nervously shaking and twitching coming from the airport, mainly due to being stuck in a plane for almost 5 hours. His name is Charlie Connor and a mute as well since his teenage years. He stumbled upon the key when he was out buying groceries and since he didn’t knew too many people in his neighborhood, he vowed to keep the key completely unknown from people.


Next up where two girls named Rose and Hiromi are both contestants hailing from Portugal (the former being from Brazil and the latter half-Japanese/half-Portuguese) and while they may be competing together, they do thrive for one goal. “Ahhh…..Can you smell that air, Rose? It smells—actually, kind of funky. Like month-old Mongolian BBQ.”

“That food was good, tho.” Rose said, “Hey, we got like a few minutes before the bus takes us to that place. I’m gonna check out the competition, you wanna come with?”

“Yeah, sure.” Hiromi said. “We need to learn who we’re going against.”


While they were spying, a couple was getting thrown out of a McDonalds for throwing a soda at the cashier’s face, causing an altercation between them and the workers and they happened to be the next contestant Éclair and her companion/boyfriend Oswald or “Oz” for short. “Bien!! Je ne voudrais pas manger dans un morceau de merde endroit comme ça de toute façon. Les hamburgers goût de cul humain de toute (Fine !! I would not eat a piece of crap place like that anyway. The burgers taste like human ass!!!)” She screamed at the manager in French and cursing him out.

“Eclair, bébé, je ne veux pas que nous soyons jetés hors du pays avant d’arriver à l’Académie! (Eclair, baby, I do not want us to be thrown out of the country before arriving at the Academy!)” Oz said, “Vous pouvez le prendre sur ces candidats perdants (You can take it out on those loser candidates).”

“Ne vous inquiétez pas, bébé, bientôt nous allons être dans le luxe et avec vous à mes côtés, nous serons imparable. (Don’t worry, baby, soon we’re gonna be in the lap of luxury and with you by my side, we’ll be unstoppable.) Éclair said as she tongue-kissed Oz as they sat waiting for the bus and now we pan to the next two contestants; one of them is casually smoking a cigarette outside and listening to whatever’s on his mp3 player and the other one is sitting on the bench very eager and excited about the competition as well.

“HI!” the girl ecstatically said. “Waiting for the Academy ride?”

“Yeah, sure.” He said without a care in the world. “You one of the contestants?”

“UH-HUH!! My name’s Hana! What’s yours?” she said. “Just call me Cobalt.” He said to Hana. “Cobalt’s my name and that’s all you need to know.”

“OK, Cobalt.” She said smiling at him. “I can’t wait for this whole thing to start and plus, I get to enjoy visiting Thailand while I’m at it. I always wanted to visit a place like this.”

“Really? Thailand of all places?” he asked her.

“Yeah, I know it sounds weird but there is something about this place that clicks to me. You know?” She said. “You got any other reason to come here, Cobalt?”

“Well…….not really.” He said, “I felt mostly bored with my life and this is a good change-up for me. Also, seeing the sights may be on my list.”


Leona grabbed her megaphone and announced that any Academy participants and their companions must report to Gate B for transportation and hotel reservations. “Hello, contestants and friends alike!! My name is Leona Sasaki and I will be your guide to the Academy throughout the whole journey. Ms. Macias and Mr. Staley have called for rides to be here shortly and if you have any questions, feel free to ask me anyway. Uh….yes, you in the back?”

“Yo, babe, can we hook up la—“, Trench said because Daria slapped him for such a stupid question. “Sorry for that, Miss Sasaki. My brother is…..well…a moron.”

“Oh, no apologies from you, Ms. Hopper. But do you have a question for us?” Leona said.

“Well, one question. Do we use our cellphones to call our relatives and family at a specific time?”

“You can call your folks during the down time of any competition.” Leona said. “Just have them turned off during late night so we won’t disrupt people’s sleep.”

Someone else raises their hand and it’s Hana.

“Miss Sasaki, will we be able to see the sights of Thailand in our time?” she asked.

“Yes, you will see the sights on your own time. Do we have one more question before we go?” And then Nariaki raises his hand. “Ah, yes, Mr. Kanemoto, you have something to ask us?”

“Ah, yes…….Exactly what do we do during this competition, per se?” he said, “I mean, we still don’t know what the hell we supposed to do here.”

“Well, Mr. Kanemoto, we would love to answer that but Mr. Ellis has it under NDA so I’m afraid I can’t help you with that.” Leona said as she finishes her speech. “We hope you enjoy your stay with us and The Academy. Our transportation should be here shortly.” People began going to Gate B and as they went, Emi went up to Nariaki and said, “OK, this is strange for them to not telling us the actual competition is going to be.”

“You think they would tell us beforehand but I guess it’s a surprise.” Nariaki said.

“A surprise you may not like.” Said a mysterious voice behind him. “I’ve been hearing some shady things about the Academy and it isn’t all good.”

“WAIT!! Not all good?” Emi said, “The fuck do you mean by that?”

“That’s all you need to know for now.” He said, “The time will come soon enough. Be careful, young folk.” Then he got into one of the rides they provided as it heads en route to The Academy HQ but before that, he saw Mai going through her pockets for some change to get a drink and the guy gave her a dollar for that. “Wow, thanks, mister.”

“No problem, little lady.” He said as he pull up his sleeve and the tattoo of the word “Freighter” appeared on his arm. “I think your friends are calling you. Might want to get in your designated vehicle.” And so, everyone is on their way to the Academy with 2 sets of contestants riding with each other.

  • Nariaki (w/Emi and Mai) riding with Daria (w/ Trench and Bobby)
  • Ari (w/Kellogg) riding with Hiromi
  • Charlie riding with Hana
  • Éclair (and Oz) riding with Rose
  • Cobalt riding with Black Freighter

“Hey.” Cobalt said talking to Freighter. “I saw you talking to that guy about what goes on in the Academy. You happen to know something about it, man?” Freighter didn’t say anything nor feel like responding to him. “Hey! Hello!!! I’m talking to you, man!” Freighter did look at him and said, “More info will come soon enough, just not enough for now. The time will come, my man.”

“That’s it? Time will come?” Cobalt said, “Is that some kind of wisdom bullshit you just pulled out of your ass?” Freighter then nodded to him, “Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? But for now, we remain anonymous to their true intentions.”

“Oi.” Cobalt said before putting his earphones back on to this iPod.


Charlie was sitting quietly along with Hana at his ride and he wanted to say something to her but he felt too shy to talk and his nervous state was kicking in but she started the conversation first. “Hello. You doing okay today?” she asked him and he began to mutter out something but it came out as mumble core and gibberish altogether. “You don’t feel like talking? Are you too shy?” She continued to ask him questions. “I mean, it’s okay if you are. I understand it all about being shy but you can talk to me if you want. I won’t bite.” Then he went to say something to her, “My name is Charlie Connor.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you, Charlie.” Hana said, “My name is Hana and I hope we get better acquainted during our time here.” She smiled at him grasping his hand for trust and for a brief moment, Charlie didn’t look that mopey and he actually smiled at her. “It’s nice to meet you, too, Hana.” He said back to her.


Meanwhile, Éclair and Oz were riding with Rose on the way there. Both were instantly making out with Rose trying to not be distracted to the noise by reading some manga she brought over. “Grand. L’une attraction à l’Académie et je dois le partager avec ces déchets português. (Great. The one ride to the Academy and I have to share it with this Portguese trash.)” Oz said to Éclair. “Bullshit!!”

“Bébé, ne vous inquiétez pas la racaille Portguese. Enfer, des regards de elle, elle ne va pas avoir une chance contre moi pendant la compétition (Baby, don’t worry about the Portguese riffraff. Hell, from the looks of her, she isn’t gonna stand a chance against me during the competition).” Éclair said. “Cette salope pourrait tout aussi bien rentrer à la maison. (That bitch might as well go home.)”

Then Rose insulted them back, but in their native language, “Si je voulais être insulté par un couple de douches français, je suis allé à la maison au Portugal. (If I wanted to be insulted by a couple of French douches, I would’ve stayed at home in Portugal.)” And then added the final nail to that insult, “Oh, et en passant, je suis brésilien, bites. (Oh, and by the way, I’m Brazilian, dicks.)” She then calls Hiromi to see if she’s doing alright.


The phone rings in the other call and Hiromi answers it. “Hello?”

“Hiromi, I can’t take this ride anymore. I’m riding with this one irritating French bitch and this other choad that’s her boyfriend.” Rose complained to her.

Hiromi then said to her, “At least you didn’t ride with the Welsh guy and his annoying-ass friend.” In other words, Hiromi is irritated with Kellogg drinking a whole bottle of Schnapps he stole from the plane ride and trying to make a move on her and most of the time, Ari was just sleeping his ass off. “The guy is just fucking sleeping and the other is chugging his weight in alcohol…..and I wanted some of that!!!”

“Good thing I saved some in my purse. He wasn’t the only one that did it.” Rose said. “But we’ll talk later, Romi, OK.”

“Alright, bye, Rose.” She said and hung up before Ari woke up after a bottle landed on his lap.

“Weren’t you awake a moment ago?” she asked him. “What? Oh, my bad, girl. Sometimes plane rides can give me a lot of jet lag and I’m rendered useless for a few hours.”

“OK, you I get,” she said, “But your friend? Why isn’t he tired?”

“I dunno. He just seemed always hyped up for something.” Ari responded back.


Meanwhile at the main vehicle in the front, Nariaki and Daria were busy chatting on what the competition’s main goal is.

“So, you have no idea what’s this whole thing’s about, too?” he said to Daria.

“Nope. Beats the fuck out of me.” She said, “I asked them earlier on the plane but they said the same ‘ol shtick. Wait until Ellis announces it at the HQ. We can’t answer that question right now.”

“I would’ve asked Leona but I don’t want to get her in some heat with them.” Nariaki said.

“Wait? Leona?” Daria asked. “Miss Sasaki? How do you know her?” Then Emi chimed in on the conversation and said, “Because we both know her back at our high school before she graduated, although I’m not surprised at why she can’t tell us.”

“Maybe she doesn’t know herself.” As Mai is now chiming into the conversation. “I mean, they may not tell the assistants everything and anything going on here. She could be obvious to this.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think Leona is the sharpest tool of the bunch but I wouldn’t count her as being an idiot.” Emi said. Then once again, Daria’s Brother Trench pop in the back seat and sat near Emi. “Hey sis, other motherfucker and his sister, how’s it going? You mind giving me and her some space so we can talk?

“How about no?” she said back to him. “Look, I have no interest in hooking up with you now or ever.”

“Yeah, Trench.” Bobby said, “Besides, the female might want to hook up with a real motherfuckin’ man like me. Heh heh. So, baby girl, you got some digits for me?” Little they know, they were close to the HQ in a few seconds and Emi said to them, “My number is 1-800-HELL-NAW!!”



Soon all of them arrived at the Academy HQ and they awe at the sight of the monumental building as they are approaching it from the infinity pool harboring around it to the statues and many guest rooms and luxurious sights. Soon, Admeta was waiting at the front to announce the arrival of the contestants. “Hello, Hello, Hello, contestants and companions alike!!! Welcome to the Academy! My name is Admeta Kallas and I see you already been acquainted with the rest of the crew including our assistant Leona. I know many of you have some burning questions for us especially one big question I noticed from some of you but now we are about to meet the man himself, Mr. Tiberius Ellis!”

All of them got out of the cars and went inside to meet Ellis himself and while doing that, they were noticing how nice and exquisite the HQ looks in the inside with an barrage of decorations, classy artifacts all over the world, kitchens made for royalty with the best known chefs in the world and a liquor cabinet that can made any alcoholic buckle down to their knees and just surrender to the sight of it.

At last, they gathered everyone into the meeting room for an orientation on what is the competition’s focus and details.


“Competitors!!! LEND ME YOUR EARS!!!” Then comes Tiberius Ellis out from the dark, making a grand entrance on the center of the stage. “Folks, I have admit that 5 months ago that I will be retiring my position in the Academy and some of you wondered why haven’t I give a position like this to any successor I have or to my other members? Well……I thought that this is the type of job that one of the common people who have some talent, who have good common sense and a stable upright citizen. We can’t have the world always ruled by rich, preppy, bratty spoiled kids with their trust funds and insignificant ways of life. Hey, I started out broke and look what I’m at now and I want to give back to those people!! You are the common people! You may not be the perfect bunch and I know most of you have done some wrong in the past but who are we to judge? Have any of you want something different in your life?” Then Nariaki raised his hand to his question.

“Yes. You in the 3rd section? What is your name?” he asked him.

“Sir, my name is Nariaki Kanemoto. I’m a Japanese-American citizen from Florida, I came here with my little sister Mai and my best friend Emi.”

“Florida, huh?” Ellis said, “Born and raised there myself.”

“And I have wanted something different in life. You see, a few years ago, our parents died in a home invasion robbery and I’ve been trying to make ends meet for me and my sister for some time but I was recently laid off and I was about to be evicted.”

“Well…..that is a sad story, brother. My guess is that you’re lucky that key came to your life and why we’re here. I hope the best for you during your stay.” Ellis said. “Any other people with some stories?” And so far, no one else has raise their hands or made any attention to themselves but in the background, Hana was talking to Charlie about him telling the audience why he’s here. “YOU!! Yes, you, the boy talking to that girl over there. I’d like to speak to you!!”

Charlie didn’t want to come down there but Hana ensured him it was going to be fine.

“So, what’s your name, young man?” he asked him.


“Charlie huh?” In the background, one of the guys screamed out “PUSSY!!” but Ellis ignored that. “So, Charlie, why are you here?” Ellis asked him.

“I……….I…….I……” He kept pausing and stuttering due to his nervous state. Hana wanted to come down there but Charlie give her a signal that he can handle it. “……I….I’m here not just because of the key but I want to re-invent myself while I’m down here.”

Ellis then responded, “Re-invent yourself? All right. That’s a good start because I did notice you were a little shy when you came down here and the fact you were mostly silent for the whole trip until you started talking to that girl not too long ago.”

“You mean Hana?” Charlie said, “Well, I sometimes get nervous when I speak to most people and they would tell me to get lost or fuck off but so far, Hana was being real nice to me.”

“Oohhh…..already in Thailand and you made a friend.” Ellis said and then he whispered. “Who knows, she could be more than a friend later on.”


“OK, who in the hell is doing that shouting!?” Staley asked. “If you interrupt him one more time, I will throw your ass out of here. Contestant or not!!”

“Staley, my friend, don’t worry about it because they’re going to want to hear this next part as I’m going to tell them the focus of this competition.” Then all chatter went to silent as he mentioned that. “Yes, people. What will we do in this competition? What is going to be the subject for this journey?”

Then behind him is a projector screen and the first words to come from is “BATTLE!!!!!” and the audience were kinda puzzled at that, wondering what they meant for battle and to their surprise, it did. “That’s right, we’re going to have a Battle for the Academy!!! This competition is based on your strength, confidence, wit, strategy and mental being. You will be issued over 7 challenges for the upcoming week with some bonus challenges ahead. Your amount of wins will decide who will earn the position to be in the Academy.”

He shut off the screen and then said, “But I will remind you of this……some of you may not make it out alive as most of them will kill you, either by force of nature or your opponent might do the same. You can leave out of here. It’s your choice and no one will condemn you for it but do you really want to go home? Back to your miserable existence? Your crappy lives, jobs or being damn near homeless? You can but you might regret it. Sure, you might die here but do you really want to go home knowing what could’ve happen here. Thinking if you had the balls or ovaries to do it? Well, there’s your choices.”

“You can still stay here for your enjoyment and leisure and we can find more people to do this. This is your choice if you want to join our games. You got 24 hours to decide.”


“Enjoy your stay at the Academy in Thailand. Good evening and good luck, my people.”


The Academy will return in Lightworks


©2013-2014 King’s Media Film Alliance / The A-Key Project / Studio Katana. All Rights Reserved.

Anime Discovery II: Le Portrait de Petit COSSETTE – #119



Once again, I entered the strange and surreal world of director Akiyuki Shinbo and I continue to find the answer to this obvious question. Did he smoke too much weed when he’s directing anime? Because some of the anime I watched or previewed where he’s the director, I’m either lost, confused, or I didn’t pay much attention and need to rewatch to make sure I understand the appeal of the show. I have tried to watch COSSETTE in the past but either lost track of time or I simply didn’t get it the first attempt at that.


PLOT: The series focuses on Eiri Kurahashi, a college art student who works in an antique shop. One day, he sees the image of a girl in an antique glass. To his shock, she appears to be moving and living out her life before his eyes. He becomes infatuated with the girl, and one night at midnight, he somehow makes contact with her. He learns that her name is Cossette, and that she was an aristocrat’s daughter during the 18th century. She reveals to him that her spirit has been entrapped within the glass because the artist Marcello Orlando murdered her. She tells Eiri that, in order to set her free, a man must be willing to take upon himself punishment for the sins Marcello committed.

I got to hand it to Shinbo and the writer Mayori Sekijima as the plot of this is straight forward enough to follow 70% of the plot of the story and somehow still get lost within the remaining 30% of it, then again that writer was responsible for the series composition of SoulTaker. One minute you wondered what happened to this girl Cossette and why is the main guy Eiri is getting punishment and then the next, a collage of crazy visuals (i.e., showing off their animation budget) appears in the midway. We all know an anime like this is going for the artistic value but we’ll get to that section in a few. If they were going for it to be creepy, unsettling, and haunting, then they have achieved that goal as the 3-episode OVA easily provided what it meant to be.

Cossette and Eiri are actually not that interesting as characters, mostly the latter in the beginning of the story as we really don’t know much of Eiri aside from him being an art student (and of course, him being the reincarnation of a murderer) and he has some friends and this girl Shoko who might be his friend or relative or love interest. Who knows? They really don’t explore much of the secondary characters in here as most of the time you forget that they were even there. Cossette may appear to be this innocent girl who’s been wronged and unjustly murdered but she’s just as manipulative and crazy when she’s with Eiri as well. The two of them basically share a parasitic relationship together although there isn’t really much of a connection aside from “my past reincarnation tortured you and killed you so I want you to do that to me”.


There’s no doubt about it but the animation and artwork are amazingly done, especially capturing this Gothic Lolita/18th century Victorian style of art. I give kudos to Studio DAUME for their work as the visuals are crazy beyond belief and surreal, I actually thought SHAFT was responsible for this although considering they have been associated with Shinbo recently, it seemed to be the right guess. Anyway, you can honestly tell that they went to show off their animation budget for a 3-episode OVA from the get-go with some minor techniques used in there such as one scene going into static as I actually thought my TV was going on the fritz. I will add this, I heard there was some fan service in here and I really didn’t notice much of it.

Do I need to tell you again how much I’m a fan of Yuki Kaijura and how much her music definitely matches the tone throughout the OVA? Because it does. The music adds a visual aesthetic and a tense flow within the atmosphere of the show. Plus, the ending theme song “Houseki” by Marina Inoue is one of the more powerful and haunting theme songs in most recent anime.

The Geneon/Bang Zoom dub is fairly competent in its direction and acting but there isn’t really much to say anything standout-ish about it. Michelle Ruff as Cossette does a fantastic job playing her role and easily the best performance of the show but I’m not really feeling much of Kevin Hatcher’s performance as Eiri as the constant screaming of his can get mildly grating when hearing it over and over again.



FINAL VERDICT: The OVA does have an interesting story that isn’t (always) confusing as it plays on and it is a definite visual feat for the eyes and the ears as well but if you want to feel invested in the characters, you’ll have no luck with this story here. This might be one of the few Shinbo-directed anime that I can watch throughout without feeling lost or confused….I’ll still feel creeped out in some areas but that’s kind of a trope for him now. I would say this is something more to stream before you buy (that is, if you want to buy it).

So, do I give this a fine rating or should I kill its chance like they did with the girl?



PT Rating: OKAY


LE PORTRAIT DE PETIT COSSETTE was licensed by Geneon but has since gotten rescued by Sentai FIlmworks. Streaming options are limited to The Anime Network and Hulu only in the U.S.

And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format.



(Hy)Lights #27: Black JESUS (First Impressions)

Yes, the title says it right.


When first hearing about this project, I was a bit skeptical at first being that this is the first live-action project from Aaron McGruder, the creator of The Boondocks. It does partly explain why he wasn’t involved in Season 4 of the aforementioned show (and after watching that, I can see why) and I do want to see how McGruder can bring his humor in live-action and the only thing he’s worked on live-action is Red Tails and that movie didn’t fare well critically or financially. Then again, that movie also had John Ridley as a co-writer and he won an Oscar for writing 12 Years a Slave.

Anyway, the basic premise of the show being set in modern day Compton as Black Jesus sets out his mission to spread love and kindness throughout with his small group of followers.

Now judging by its first episode that aired and guess what?

This is actually pretty witty. I’m liking what I saw from its pilot.

The outrage I get from people who said that the show is offensive because it mocks their savior and there is even boycotts to have the show pulled from the network. Well, I can’t say this is the first time a McGruder property has caused some controversy before but based on what I saw, it never felt they were mocking at him but more with him and he isn’t painted as a joke as many people believed.

Some were offended that they set him up in an area where he hangs out with drug dealers, he curses a lot, turns water into cognac, and smoke blunts.

Uhhhh…….the concept of Jesus has been parodied numerous times before from SNL to Monty Python and hell, even Family Guy manage to do a Black Jesus parody before the actual show appeared. Yes, it can be true in there’s both ways of making fun with him and at him, but what makes this more of the former than the rest?

The character himself, Black Jesus, is a likable comedic lead. Yes, the guy is…..well, Jesus, but he never comes across as a holier-than-thou stick in the mud (you know, like the people protesting against it) and he also helps that he isn’t a black coonish stereotype of a character. He does have a human side and connection that makes you impossible to hate the guy.

Gerald “Slink” Johnson may be a newcomer to most audiences but he did appear in a Boondocks episode in Season 3 where he played Lando, Robert’s ‘supposed’ son and not only that, he’s the voice of Lamar in Grand Theft Auto V and the guy gave a good performance at that, too. There is also the appearance of frequent McGruder collaborators John Witherspoon and Charlie Murphy as Lloyd and Vic, respectively. Some of the supporting characters like Corey Holcomb’s Boonie does have their moments and honestly I can see them being funnier in more episodes to come.


SO FAR…..This is history repeating itself for most people as The Boondocks did (well, the first 3 seasons) was experiencing the same ordeals Black Jesus was dealing with as it began airing. Both series may seem offensive only by surface value but you watch it, it does turn out for the better and it does achieve in being funny without stooping to major low-brow levels.

And what does our lord and savior receive?

8.5/10 – High SOLID B.


And that’s it from me. I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, your reviewing lord and savior! HA!


BLACK JESUS – courtesy of 5 Mutts / Williams Street (Adult Swim)

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (or I’m Hooked on a FEELING) – HM Movie Reviews

“Who are you?”

“You wanna know what name I go by?”



“Come on, man. Blue Hybrid. You know, that famous internet reviewer/writer with not that much of a secret identity because the internet knows and tells all.”

“No, really, who the fuck are you again?”



Ladies and gentlemen, once again, it’s MARVEL TIME!! This time we go outside the world of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. Yes, we’re still in the MCU, this isn’t Amazing Spider Man 3 or something like that. We are venturing into a movie based on a comic book that I haven’t heard before seeing this. Then again, I’m not alone as most people had never heard of the comic based on this, which could spell doom since most movies like this can flat out bomb or underperform.

But who are the Guardians of the Galaxy and what is it about?



They consist of Peter Quill aka STAR-LORD, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon and Groot. After discovering a mysterious orb in another part of the galaxy, Peter Quill from Earth, is now the main target of a manhunt led by a genocidal maniac Ronan the Accuser. Being hunted across the galaxy Quill gets lumped together with a group of misfits that need to learn how to get along before they can become the “Guardians of the Galaxy”.

To be fair, many people were puzzled on how can they pull this together and made the movie a valiant effort. I recognize James Gunn’s work, mostly as a writer with the 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead & the videogame Lollipop Chainsaw and also as a director in Slither & Super.



How did it turn out to be? Fascinatingly GREAT!!!

Honestly, I didn’t expect to come out of the theaters with a satisfying smile on my face, much like I did with The Avengers. It kept the action-comedy stability on a level where you can laugh out loud at the comedic elements and get enthralled with the action scenes. The setting of the movie really shows that we are definitely not in the same vain as the other MCU movies with expanding its universe but still retains that formula that makes it work. Yes, this is a popcorn flick but once again, it’s something to get worth invested in and not being overblown or too lowbrow as while Captain America 2 did something altered to the other Marvel movie, Guardians has the comedic style as the others but in an entirely different and more successful way than the previous ones, mainly Thor 2.

The tone of the movie is weird but you know what? Weird makes it good, unique and something to get me interested but sometimes weird for the sake of weird can go either way depending on how its performed and did they succeeded in making it that and entertaining? Of course but I can already tell that the result may not appeal to every audience. Also the runtime of the movie is two hours but they kept the pace going steadily and never felt like it dragged for too long.

Chris Pratt as Star-Lord is leading man material from what we seen from him in Parks and Recreation and earlier this year in The Lego Movie being a charismatic wiseass with a heart of gold as every actor in the movie fare to bring out their A-Game in here, even those we didn’t expect to be any noteworthy. That one being from WWE wrestler Dave Bautista as Drax playing the straight man of the team, especially with the gags of him not getting the grasp of metaphors. Zoe Saldana as Gamora fares well in her part as while her character is more of a usual type of female character, it isn’t as problematic or stale and the same can be said for Karen Gillian as Nebula. Lee Pace as Ronan did spell typical villain wanting to rule the world, more so like Christopher Eccleston in Thor: The Dark World. While Vin Diesel’s Groot only lines in the movie are “I am Groot”, his physical performance is worth more than his dialogue as him and another character are the heart of the movie and it is Bradley Cooper as Rocket Raccoon and he is unquestionably the best highlight of the film in terms of the comedy and some heartfelt moments as well.

Last thing for the movie is that the soundtrack is addicting awesome from the first moment when “Come and Get Your Love” plays in the opening credits and was definitely hooked on Blue Swede’s “Hooked on A Feeling”. I practically was jamming to the song as it was playing and the songs didn’t felt like they were thrown in there as they were incorporated as something Quill felt connected with his home and family he lost and left behind in Earth. Did I also mention that I would definitely get this soundtrack, along with the score to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?

FINAL VERDICT: Sure the story of this is typical and simple as slow molasses, but never had the feeling of it being slow and the excitement and fun of it keeps it going. Guardians of the Galaxy has the equal amount of entertainment and fun as the first Avengers movie did. Marvel shows again that they know how to make a comic book movie that can be both serious and fun without going overboard on both factors.





(Another perfect summer movie!)


And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and I say OOGA CHAKA, OOGA CHAKA, OOGA CHAKA!

You’re welcome.


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – courtesy of Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Motion Picture Studios

BLOOD LAD Review: The Vampire Anime We’ve Been Waiting For?

Featured Image -- 1237

Mark King:

First published review on Another Castle. Check it out in case I didn’t remind you for the umpteenth time!!

Originally posted on Another Castle:

Source: Comic Vine

Source: Comic Vine

Premiering Summer 2013 and localized by Viz Media soon after, Blood Lad satisfyingly blends action, dark humor, and vampires in a brilliant adaptation to Yuuki Kodama’s manga series.

Although vampire media has grown exponentially in recent years, its over-saturation has caused a stagnancy of the topic. However, with Blood Lad‘s well-balanced approach, vampires just might be cool again.

The Plot

When Staz Charlie Blood — a territory boss of the East Demon World — comes across Fuyumi, an ordinary girl wandering into the Demon World, Staz falls in love at first sight. Unfortunately, she ends up being eaten by a carnivorous plant and it’s up to Staz to help bring her back to life before it’s too late.

As far as you know about the show, it really goes into the goofy aspect of things in the first few episodes and that can spells some danger to…

View original 984 more words

DAWN of the Planet of the APES (or Things Just Went APESHIT Over Here) – HM Movie Reviews

Back in 2011, a reboot of the Planet of the Apes wouldn’t sound like a good idea at the time, especially since at the time, it’s been over 10 years since the critically and audience-savaged Tim Burton remake and nobody would’ve thought this would be a good idea at the time. However, Rise of the Planet of the Apes managed to overcome those obstacles and received praise from the critics, the audience and was helmed a financial success, enough to spawn a sequel.

The question is, can this growing reboot of a franchise manage to strike gold twice with this or will it be only a one-trick pony act?

Setting a few years later after Rise, A growing nation of genetically evolved apes led by Caesar is threatened by a band of human survivors of the devastating virus unleashed a decade earlier. They reach a fragile peace, but it proves short-lived, as both sides are brought to the brink of a war that will determine who will emerge as Earth’s dominant species.

So……did this movie deliver on its word?

Did it manage to be bigger and better in aspect?

That answer is….HELL YEAH!!!

Everything about the movie succeeds over the predecessor on every film aspect and it does accomplish more than just bringing the action components to it. Speaking of which, the action is astonishingly incredible that completely surpasses Rise. Director Matt Reeves and writers Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver brought the intensity and the thrilling excitement of the raging war between the apes and the humans does more than just doing brainless action sequences and things explode all around. It is superbly shot and edited without any confusing hiccups or annoying jump cuts.


But what enthralled me more than the action sequences is the emotional detailed tension and development around the characters, especially the apes. I felt more attachment to these apes more than I felt any human character in a movie past and present, maybe even more than the human characters in this movie. Caesar and Koba are fellow ape brothers but whereas Caesar wants to live in peace, Koba wants to rage war with the humans due to his past with them. You understand that with both apes and humans, they only think of nothing but the negative side of them while some do still believe there is some kindness in them.

Although I’m not going to say I didn’t care for the human characters as I did show concern for the main human protagonist Malcolm, but some development for most of them actually felt like they were brushed away after one moment of them, mainly just describing it as exposition (that mostly falls on Dreyfus).

The acting all around is superb, with of course the obvious best and strongest performances being Andy Serkis and Toby Kebbell as Caesar and Koba, respectively. Jason Clarke as Malcolm also gave a great performance and also a performance I feel like most people overlook is Nick Thurston as Blue Eyes ass I thought his performance was outstanding, especially towards the latter half of the movie, which is spoilers’ territory so I won’t delve into that. Gary Oldman is…..well, Gary Oldman and he does fine in here. The man is a great actor but it’s nothing unusual about his performance. I also got to give props to the CG Motion Capture as in here it really felt like those are actual apes there but the actors succeeded to make those apes believable on screen and finally, that score by Michael Giacchino. All I got to say about that score is this could be one of his best scores in a film and I really want to listen to it again and again.



FINAL VERDICT: This could be the best summer movie of this year that’s not comic-book related, that is. Yes, I know we get a lot of sequels, prequels, reboots, remakes and adaptations but then again if they ended up winding up like this movie, then bring those in!! This movie really up the ante, making the spectacle bigger and better than its predecessor. I really must advise you that you see this movie….in theaters and also get the Blu-ray. Blue Hybrid commands you to!!


And so, I’m going to give Dawn the perfect score of them all.




And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, saying……APES…TOGETHER…STRONG!!



Anime Discovery II: TORADORA – #118


You know, I’m starting to lose all hope when it comes to romance / slice of life anime as they tend to either go in a certain way: they try to be outrageously funny and/or dramatic but it ends up being only one or the other and I’m left cold feeling that have doing nothing remarkable or distinctive to make me care about the characters, what they go through and the story as a whole and if you wondered what title made me like this, let’s say that I’m all out of LOVE for this genre. But, then, there’s Toradora and I have heard mixed things about the series (few either good than bad) but I don’t have the biggest expectations for the show.

Despite Ryuji Takasu’s gentle personality, his eyes make him look like an intimidating delinquent. Class rearrangements on his second high school year put him together with his best friend, Yusaku Kitamura, and his hidden crush, Minori Kushieda. Along with these two comes Kushieda’s best friend, Taiga Aisaka. Her delicate appearance contrasts with her brutal personality. Secretly in love with Kitamura, Taiga agrees to help Ryuji with his love interest as long as he helps her get closer to hers.

Now, as first it may seem like this is going to be some typical love story where the main guy tries to get with this girl by the help of the girl’s said friend and that said friend wants to hook up with the main guy’s best friend and then it turns out that those two might fall in love with each other. BUT…..it actually ends up being more than that. The show illustrates that love is a complicated thing and if something comes crumbling down, no one is going to be left unscathed emotionally, no matter how well you try to hide it. Originally, I was drawn by the comedic aspects of the show as I did had myself a great laugh throughout the earlier episodes but once it gets into the dramatic episodes later on, I was hooked and invested in knowing how the characters will progress throughout. One aspect of the show never overshadowed the other as both the comedy and drama are rightfully balanced without a hint of overexerted awkwardness in the writing.

I really appreciated how the characters in the show remain to be interesting and likable despite being some clichéd character-types at first but they are portrayed as realistic characters and the show equally get in-depth with them as the show goes on. At first, I thought Taiga was just going that annoying tsundere type that I loathe in anime so much, but eventually, she turns out to be an endearing character and reasons why she is what she is (i.e. coming from a broken home, parents don’t give a damn) and how she does stand up for her friends various times and is straight to the point honest. Ryuuji is somebody that isn’t a spineless male lead nor an off-the-wall perverted idiot lead, but a level-headed genuine character that doesn’t come off as Gary Stu-ish or manufactured as he does have his inner struggles to challenge through. Yusaku, to me, can be often funny and OK but he wasn’t really that important of a character to me to get fully invested but he does have a moment in that in the latter half of the series. But the ones to get me fully invested are Minori and Ami. For Minori, she does seems like the energetic best friend character with a nice girl personality that I really did like at first but she really progresses from that as she show signs of her not confronting her true feelings that she seems like a coward even though she does care for her friends. Ami on the other hand, I never would have expect to like someone as her being a bitch-in-sheep’s clothing character but honestly she wants more in friends than just having followers and admirers and while often she does pick on Taiga, she does care if anything were to happen to her.

J.C. Staff animated this production and it was a great effort from their part. However, this is nothing I would call new but more of the standard fare I expect from them as the artwork is gorgeous and the movement is performed smoothly and fluid within the context of the show. Character designs are also much to the standard of many anime characters but it is nothing over-the-top or fan service related but manageable.

For the music portion, “Pre-Parade”, the 1st opening theme performed by the main three female leads (Rie Kugimiya, Yui Horie, and Eri Kitamura) does set the mood for the series’ first half and I got to say, this is a decent track with some small flaws in it like it does sound like it’s over-produced in some areas but I actually like the track enough to not skip it. The 2nd opening theme, “silky heart”, also appropriately set the tone during the latter half of the series remarkably acceptable. The rest of the music delivers the dramatic moments spot-on as did the ending themes, “Vanilla Salt” and “Orange”, which sounds like ingredients for a cake than a song.

Now when I say this show was a surprise to me being good, there is also another surprise.


No, really. This show is licensed by NIS America and normally they do sub-only anime releases and this is their first English dub release and also with the dub being done by Bang Zoom Entertainment and with director Alex Von David on the helm. I’m also proud to say that this is a damn good—no, a damn great dub!! Mainly, it’s because BZ is doing a slice-of-life show for once since recently they have only been dubbing action anime titles for some time and I think the dub shows off the VA’s acting range a bit more. Erik Scott Kimerer and Cassandra Lee Morris give out great performances as Ryuuji and Taiga. Johnny Yong Bosch was rather fine as Yusaka, usually the standard from him but he did his part exceptionally. Personally I think the standouts goes to both Christine Marie Cabanos as Minori and Erika Harlacher as Ami. Cabanos unquestionably delivers more to her acting range as Minori during the dramatic moments as well as her comedic scenes. Most of her comedic scenes did felt like a preview of what to see her as Mako in Kill La Kill (which I’m dying to see in the English dub, BTW). Harlacher sounds very natural as Ami, maintaining both the bitchiness and reasonableness in the character without feeling too overbearing or over the top and this is practically the actress’ best role yet.

FINAL VERDICT: Toradora is a complete surprise from me. Here I was expecting to be some run of the mill cliché romance anime but I got something more from this. Everything from the characters, the basic storyline and the soundtrack was executed well despite being plain on paper. Has this made me look at slice of life romantic anime in a different light? Maybe. This show gave me hope for this genre of anime and I hope future titles can learn from this show and how to make me care for the story, the characters and how they’re able to manage that. Toradora, you are definitely a title that I recommend to people. I should’ve never doubted you.

Therefore, I’m going to give this the highest rating for me possible:




TORADORA is available from NIS America on Premium DVD and Blu-ray and was re-released with an English Dub in July 2014. Streaming options are on Crunchyroll (in both sub and dub) and Hulu.


For now, I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the elements in one format because that’s the way it’s meant to be.


TORADORA – animated by J.C. STAFF / distributed by NIS AMERICA

(Hy)Lights #26: The STRAIN (First Impressions)

Hello, folks!!

Looking for a vampire series that isn’t all about shoddy-written romance or lots of sex? (And yes, you can use a break from all the sex.) Want something more out of the vampire genre? Like tension? A surprising good story? That’s on a cable network? Then look no further than FX’s The Strain.

What is The Strain, you say?

Well, The Strain is a new TV series adapted from a trilogy of novels entitled The Strain Trilogy written by filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Logan. Two other books, The Fall and The Night Eternal followed after the first novel. The series does have Del Toro and Logan involved as creators/executive producers of the project as well as writing and directing the pilot with Lost producer Carlton Cuse is also involved as a producer here.

A Boeing 767 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city – a city that includes his wife and son – before it is too late.

I have heard about The Strain novels for some time and wonder how will it translate into TV, considering the creature du jour is a form of vampire and I think this is the right time to release it since the vampire craze has been going on a decline since 2012 but the thing is will it be a transition for the better?

Well, from watching the pilot, I say that this is looking quite well.

First off, I like that the suspense and tension builds up so well into the mystery of what cause these people to die or convert into a vampire. The horror elements felt as they were genuinely haunting, not in the sense to scare me but more of staring at something horrifying but not put off by it.

The human elements of more of a mixed bag for me, as one hand, characters like Dr. Goodweather, Setrakian and some of the crew of the Canary project do carry some of the show in terms of the main plot. But character sub-plots like Goodweather’s ex-wife, her new man and them going through this divorce and their kid is involved with the whole “you care more about your work than you do me” shtick and this one character named Gus, who is type-casted gangbanger character who somehow gets involved in this ordeal can be meandering and mostly predictable. That’s not to say that the whole season is going to be like this…..at least, we hope not. Although, the second episode has improved from the pilot, expanding on how the disease has a dire effect on its remaining survivors, going more in-depth with Setrakian’s character and even the side character Gus was decent at best.

I still have hope for this series to be a great show for FX as they do carry out some great series on their network, especially their dramas (although I’m hearing mixed things about Tyrant and I’m mixed on that, too.)

As for if I plan to keep watching the show, yes, I do plan so.

I’m quite invested in this series enough to want to know what’s going to happen in the coming of weeks ahead, albeit some mishaps in the character development department. For those that want their horror fix, this could peek your interest for you.

The grade it gets so far is a High SOLID B (8.5/10).

And until then, this is MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, bringing all the effected into one huge world takeover.


THE STRAIN – courtesy of FX Productions

Anime Discovery – TIME OF THE SEASON Summer 2014 Edition: BLACK BUTLER: Book of Circus

My, oh my!

Haven’t it been a week since I reviewed this title in particular? Or more like, the first two series in particular. Yes, you already knew that I’ve gave Black Butler Season 1 and 2 the Anime Discovery review treatment, and now, this last entry into the TOTS Summer 2014 Edition, we check out Black Butler: Book of Circus.

Director: Noriyuki Abe


Series Composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino


Hiroyuki Yoshino
Ichiro Okouchi
Yuka Miyata


Music: Yasunori Mitsuda


Original creator: Yana Toboso


Character Design:
Chisato Kawaguchi (sub)
Minako Shiba

Animation Production: A-1 Pictures

Internet Streaming: FUNimation.com, Hulu

Licensed by: FUNimation Entertainment

Plot Synopsis: In Victorian London, the breathtaking performances of the Noah’s Ark Circus have captured the attention of people all across the city. But the spell of magic and wonderment woven under the big top is not without consequences. Children have suddenly begun to vanish, and some suspect these mysterious performers are responsible. In an attempt to get to the bottom of these disturbing disappearances, the dashing duo of demon butler, Sebastian Michaelis, and his young master, Ciel Phantomhive, will infiltrate the circus and uncover whatever darkness may lie at its core!

First Thoughts: So, yes, this series takes place where Season 1 has left off as if Season 2 never existed (and also I heard a lot of people did not like Season 2 at all and they were harsher on it than me) and everything is back on status quo with Sebastian continuing being the unseen force of a butler and tolerating everybody else. This episode has a fun atmosphere that didn’t completely distract the overall plot of the series and it does retain that mystery vibe that makes the show for what it is. It is more of a set-up to what comes next into the upcoming season. Characters are still likable so far, A-1’S animation is still superb (I’ve been saying a lot of positive things about A-1 Picture shows lately) and the opening theme, in my opinion, is actually better than the first two put together.

So, all-in-all, this could end up being even better than the first season overall but I’m not willing to make too much of a bit on that. But still, this gets a solid CONTINUE WEEKLY for me. This definitely has potential to soar high in being a great chapter to an otherwise decent series.

And that’s actually it for TIME OF THE SEASON this season. Yep, this is all the shows I’m covering. Any future thoughts on that….yeah, I might tweet them as it goes along @MAK2HybridMedia.


And until then, I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid, being one hell of an anime reviewer!!!