Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 11 (Fin)

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Tensai to the rescue! The whole big fight between Hiiyo and Juugo, on which Hiiyo seemed to have gotten the upper hand, is called off, not because she uses her Master Detective skills to figure out Hiiyo’s secret power, but because she has the cajones—and enough affection for Juugo that she doesn’t want to see him unduly hurt—to bluff Hiiyo into walking away, appealing to his arrogance while building off the legend she herself had built.

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I wouldn’t have called her bluff, either. It’s entirely likely she’d observed Hiiyo enough to find a weakness and was ready to expose it, because she actually kinda is a Master Detective. She used his reactions to the proposal to determine his power really was his trump card, and that it did have a weakness, so he delayed using it, and she eventually learned that weakness: that the “damage” done to Juugo wasn’t real, but merely suggestion.

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This was an interesting finale in that from the time Hiiyo agreed to stop fighting to the eerie post-credits scene where Yun-chan’s eyes are glowing like a cursed child’s, it was ambitiously building what looked like the foundations of a second season I didn’t actually know was going to happen. At the same time, it still had the feeling of arranging things up on a high shelf, things it knows we won’t see again for some time, so it took extra care in the arranging.

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For one thing, we got a lot of Juugo-and-Tensai time, which reinforced their mutual respect and affection that sometimes veers into romantic attraction. While she qualifies her reasoning for not wanting Juugo to die by saying “she won’t have a rival”, we know he’s more than just a rival at this point; he’s a dear friend she can’t afford to let slip away. Their relationship was a joy to watch right up to the end.

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Another loose end to tie up is the rift between Juugo and Nanana. Through Tensai, Nanana figures out that he avoided telling her too much about the mission because of her past with Hiiyo. Even so, she bets Tensai Juugo won’t break the promise he made to not use the treasure if he found it, and she wins that bet. Juugo doesn’t break promises, whether its not using treasures or finding killers.

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But his resolve to fulfill the latter is compromised by his uncertainty about what Nanana really wants, so he asks her point blank: What does she really want? It takes a cathartic physical fight that Nanana is on the cusp of winning, but Juugo finally cracks and tells her what he wants, or rather what he doesn’t: he doesn’t want her to leave. That relieves Nanana, for while she wants to find her killer and kill them herself, for now, and maybe even after that happens, she’s not ready to “pass on” yet.

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Things are just getting interesting on the island she built, so she wants to keep watching it for now. So do we, so we hope a second season does come around someday.

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Total Cumulative Average: 7.55
MyAnimeList Score: 7.54

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Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 10

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After scouting out the site of the last ruin this 11-episode show has time for, Juugo arrives home with the brown sugar pudding Nanana requested, and is relieved she hasn’t disappeared permanently, but she is clearly hurt by his refusal to tell her why he needs to clear the ruin in such a hurry. You can really feel the melancholy in this scene; Juugo is just as upset he can’t tell her as she is he’s keeping secrets.

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It’s not as if she considers this the Ultimate betrayal or anything, but her disappointment and weariness is apparent. As for the ruins themselves, at first I was on the fence about whether the set-up quite topped the “Rigid Foam Maze” six eps back, but I decided it did after considering its complexity. First of all, finding it involves careful study of the mall’s plan and observation of its inhabitants.

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When Juugo finally finds the entrance and goes in with Tensai, Isshin, and Yuu, things get even more interesting, but not until Tensai goes “Aha!” and explains it to less brilliant parties present. The Golden Ratio, Fibonacci Sequence, and 13-sign Zodiac all play a role in cluing in the adventurer on where and when to move. Ultimately it takes Juugo’s brawn supporting Tensai’s brains to reach the chest several stories underground, another sign these two make sense as a romantic pair, if they dared to go there.

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Once there, the chest itself has a puzzle lock that looked to me like some kind of terrestrial or celestial map. Tensai starts to solve it in her head, and a good thing she doesn’t open it too soon, because Ikusaba Hiiyo crashes the party (Kagetora and Daruku were watching the entrance, but there was only so much they could do) Hiiyo’s first weapons are insults, possibly meant to get everyone mad enough to make a mistake, but it’s he who ends up regretting not taking them all out quick and quiet.

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The insults motivate Juugo to want to kick Hiiyo’s ass purely because he pisses him off, not out of a sense of duty to anyone. This may be a little thing, but is consistent with his desire to walk his own path by his own code, not one laid out by his father. Yuu is pissed off too, but neither she nor Juugo can score a hit on him; not until Isshin of all people steps forward and actually does something to deserve Yuu’s worship.

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Armed with Nanana’s “mimic glasses”, he’s able to fight at Hiiyo’s level and know which shadows he’ll emerge from. He also uses Hiiyo’s poor opinion of him to his advantage, opening himself up just long enough to get him to throw a punch he can’t stop, then duck in time for Yuu to deliver a very satisfying knockout blow, which is repeated for emphasis.

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So…Good team effort! Hiiyo has been put in his place, so now all they need to do is grab the treasure and be on their OH RIGHT, he’s got other tricks up his sleeve. I expected Tensai and/or Isshin to check him for other treasures on his person, but Juugo approached the dangerous wounded animal first, with his guard down, and got a collapsed lung for his trouble.

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Stray Observations:

  • That last scene last week where Nanana suddenly disappeared turned out to be a total red herring.
  • Kagetora and Daruku’s general uselessness this week was a sign of mild character bloat. Still, the former’s full body bandage, with just eyes and a couple hairs showing, is a funny sight gag.
  • Yuu and Tensai seem awfully touchy about Juugo possibly looking up their skirts. Then don’t wear skirts to a treasure hunt! Rock slacks, like Yukihime!
  • The whole scene with Juugo carrying Tensai as she navigates was great stuff. He even got her detective hat back!
  • Again the episode cuts to Nanana playing a game that mimics the situation of the others; in this case, fighting an annoyingly tough boss. I know the feeling…

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 09

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Juugo is eager to collect as much of Nanana’s Collection as possible in hopes it will help him find her killer; a mission that he left Matsuri to pursue. But when Yun is confronted by Hiiyo after a day of shopping, Tetsuno relays to Juugo his big sister Sansa’s request that he make sure Hiiyo doesn’t bother Yun ever again, and suddenly he has another mission.

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As more and more comes to light about Hiiyo and his role in all but destroying the Adventure Club after founder Konjou Kasumi graduated—long story short, the guy is a dick—the more Juugo’s two present missions would seem to align. Hiiyo, one for manipulating and then discarding people to further his goals, sent Yun into the ruins hidden on the site of a mall.

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He confronted her to debrief her (no, not like that), only to find she didn’t seem to know what he’s talking about. Tetsuno is in time to save her (and she then saves him with a lie about cops coming to spook Hiiyo, because though Tetsuno has a katana and Hiiyo is unarmed, he puts up more than a fight. Hiiyo’s skills were also on display when chased down Kagetora and gave him an ugly off-camera beating requiring body-wide bandages.

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So yeah, don’t want to go after the guy half-cocked. Thing is, Tetsuno, Juugo, and Isshin all know a certain amount about him, so it isn’t until they unite in the club room to pool their intelligence. This is when Tensai reappears, and we learn what she’s been up to: she was hired to find Yun, but failed when Yun reappeared on her own. (Tensai is one proud detective). As Tetsuno says, kicking Hiiyo’s ass would be nice, but protecting Yun has to take priority.

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Isshin opines that the best way to do that is to clear the mall ruins before Hiiyo can, so he’ll have no further business with her. But to do that, they need a hint about the ruins, which Juugo manages to get out of Nanana without telling her why (worried Hiiyo could show up again and find about about their plan through her). In exchange, Juugo promises her he’ll never use the treasure they find.

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As Juugo lies in bed, in the glow of Nanana’s video games, he ponders why Nanana made him promise that, surmising that perhaps she doesn’t want him to find her killer; doesn’t want to “pass on”. When he rises to speak to her, she and the glow are suddenly, jarringly…gone. Whether this is just her sensing his concern and activating her Ghost Cloak, or something more permanent, is just something I’ll have to ponder until next week…with a little trepidation.

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Stray Observations:

  • nana91Nanana’s dating game synching up to the reality of Juugo being caught between Yurika and Yukihime…I LOL’d.
  • I’ll admit I missed Tensai, even though she wasn’t gone that long, the fact that her absence wasn’t explained until she returned made it that much more conspicuous.
  • I assumed when Hiiyo “sacrificed” a fellow club member to clear a ruin, that member died, but turns out she was only seriously injured. I kinda wish the details of that sacrifice were a little less vague.
  • I also assumed he killed Kagetora, but he too survived. I guess Hiiyo isn’t quite as evil as I thought he was?
  • When Juugo assumes Nanana’s “one condition” is to get her that brown sugar pudding, and she pauses, and then says “two conditions”…I LOL’d again.

 

Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 08

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Last week was all about Juugo making amends, but this week is all about expanding and elaborating upon his present milieu, and articulating the fact that many conflicts old and new stand between him and his personal mission to save Nanana-chan, including uncertainty over what saving her even entails. We also get more pieces of the histories of both the club and Room 202.

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There’s sundry doin’s a-transpirin’: Tensai receives ¥3000 from a freshman and storms right out of the damn episode in an uncharacteristic snit. Tetsu and the pint-sized Yoshino-Saki, AKA Yun-chan, AKA Kate Hoshimiya’s cousin, enroll at Juugo’s school. Isshin admits to Yuu and Kagetora that he’s threatened by the brilliance of the new members, which he feels far outstrips his own.

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Most importantly, there’s a stern new face in town to look down on him: Ikusaba Hiiyo, who looks to figure prominently in the three episodes to come (or more if this goes another cour, which I wouldn’t necessarily mind). He’s a tough-looking sonofabitch who professes to be allergic to compromise, an allergy he believes gives him the ultimate edge in getting what he wants in life, including Nanana’s collection.

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Hiiyo also happened to be the former tenant of Room 202 prior to Juugo, and I kinda doubt he ever bought her pudding or played video games with her. Their relationship is summed up pretty succinctly when he pops by to have her appraise one of her treasures he found, then cuts her off and calls it worthless. One kindly ghost’s treasure is a cold-hearted bastard’s trash.

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Shiki chases him off with her boss beer muscles, but I doubt he’s going away any time soon. He wears a big black duster and boots, talks with a gruff aloofness, has unkempt hair, and enjoys watching CGI horsie races. He’s got Archvillain written all over him, and I don’t think he’s interested in making Juugo’s—or anyone’s—job any easier.

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Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 07

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Like NGNL’s last outing, this episode of Nanana benefited from a changing of gears; a brief pause, if you will, to take stock of where we’ve come. There’s no new treasure hunt this week. Instead, it’s an episode about amends; namely, amends Juugo makes towards two of the three most important women in his life (Things are perfectly chipper between him and Tensai).

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First on his list is Nanana. Last week her fury was awesome to behold, but also largely unexplained. Turns out Juugo sold most of her video games, presumably in order to afford the trip to the hot spring. The premium regional pudding he acquires proves sufficient in quelling her rage and gaining her forgiveness, along with the promise to buy her new games.

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The other woman won’t be so easily appeased by confections and toys. When Fugi Yukihime, his beloved martial arts instructor and big-sister figure, tried to steal the treasure he’d already acquired, she broke an unspoken rule of the underground. Juugo saw that as a sign she truly had turned her back on him, which depressed him to no end. I’ll admit, how they left things left a sour taste in my mouth too.

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Cheered on by Nanana (who agrees to let him cry into her chest if he fails, which he assures her he won’t), Juugo meets with Yukihime in the night and promptly challenges her to a duel; one he probably knows he can’t possibly win, and doesn’t. But then he activates Nanana’s treasure, surrounding Yukihime in golden chains, and he suddenly has the power to to anything he wants to her.

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If he follows through on his threats, Yukihime will gain license to truly hate him…but she doesn’t want to—as evidenced by her sudden tears—nor does Juugo want her to. He releases her and tells her he wants them to be on the same side, even if he’s no longer with Matsuri. They both apologize to one another, and Yukihime agrees to keep liking him as much as she had (which is likely more than she lets on).

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It was great to see another episode that fills in the blanks of the last, as well as to see so many more sides of Fugi Yukihime, who is as cute as she is deadly. It was always clear the two had a past, but I didn’t realize the true depth of it until now, and both characters benefited greatly from the elaboration. And yes, that was Star Driver the gals were watching. They have excellent taste!

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Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 06

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I’m definitely liking the way Nanana is layering its narratives. The adventure club hits up the next set of ruins, the treasure is recovered and then promptly stolen, Tensai discovers the culprit with some sleuthing, then later divines the true extent of the mystery. The episode is speckled throughout with little clues that let you know Juugo’s already been to the ruins, as had Matsuri.

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Matsuri appeared to have been waiting to swoop in on the treasure one the club did the work for them. This isn’t a case of rival groups just happening to be staying at the same onsen; it’s a calculated plan. Tensai’s “Watson” (Daruku) recovers the cat plushie from the laundry, and Tensai exposes the new hire as Shuu in disguise.

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Again, Juugo keeps his cards close for the whole episode until Tensai studiously worries them loose, proving he’s worthy of her efforts. This week’s puzzle also had a satisfying 3D-platformer “lost ruins”feel to it, even though it wasn’t quite as clever as the foam labyrinth. Its simplicity is mitigated by the fact the stuffed cat isn’t even one of Nanana’s treasures. Maybe that real black-and-white cat was?

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Whatever the case, everyone in the adventure club has their own unique motivations and modes of operation. That ubiquitous, chaotic aspect of not knowing who’s getting one over on whom is part of what makes this show so fun to watch. Juugo having fancy pudding delivered to Nanana to apologize for leaving her alone was a nice way to end, especially as he gets home before the pudding, and has to behold her rage. He’s good, very good…but he’s still human.

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Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 05

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Aside from having his space invaded by Tensai and Daruku, Juugo is also starting to feel the financial pain of living with Nanana: since she plays video games constantly, the monthly electric bill is a formidable ¥15,765, in addition to more than ¥6,000 in gas and water.

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That’s more than $217 in American, no small sum for a high schooler, even if his father hadn’t cut him off through Yukihime, who insists he return into the fold. When he refuses, she bounces, warning him his face will be an unwelcome sight in the future. With a sense of obligation to remain by Nanana’s side (and a landlady who will happily toss him out onto the street if he doesn’t pay up), Juugo must find a job.

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Whatever Matsuri was up to, he seems quite determined to make it on his own without involving himself with it, though he seems a bit sad to have to turn from Yukihime. While we don’t yet know the whole story, you have to respect his sticking to his guns, even if that’s the more treacherous path. I also liked how the episode managed to slip in a little scene of Juugo admiring Tensai’s fetching disguise, as well as having him reveal a little jealousy toward Daruku’s…proximity to her.

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Hardly a rolling boil of a romance, but there’s definitely something there. When he chooses a job that pays handsomely but is sketchy as shit, he ends up on the wrong side of the apparent utopia, delivering a suitcase of drugs fancy flour to the stylish don of a lawless district who also collects treasures. Juugo ultimately fails to collect his payment (he has to escape a sudden raid), but unless Shiki was just joking (I doubt it), he’d better find another job…or another treasure.

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Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 04

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“You’re actually pretty evil, aren’t you?”

Rather than move on to the next treasure-of-the-week, Nanana sticks to the matter at hand—the fact that Juugo isn’t going to let Yuiga get away with his treachery. In the process, we get a lot more pieces to the puzzle that is Yama Juugo, beyond a blandish kid who decided to strike out on his own out of mere restlessness. Turns out he was exiled! We’re startin’ to like this kid.

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When Juugo meets with Tensai at the agreed-upon spot, she notices Juugo is slightly taller, and exposes an impostor belonging to the e-lite thievin’ group Matsuri who claims to have kidnapped her new pardner. But in reality, Juugo is the son of Matsuri’s leader, and it’s once-presumptive heir. The show kept its cards close to its chest last week, but those weird cops were an early hint at what was to come.

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I must say I was impressed with how elegantly the show managed to uncover all these new truths about Juugo, while keeping him true to the person we had known thus far. He’s still a tank of a feller, able to withstand all the Wizard Cane attacks Yuiga can throw at him until it runs out of juice. I was also surprised and delighted by Ibara and Yukihime’s mad fighting skills.

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I was impressed by the first puzzle dungeon the adventure club faced, but I’m even more impressed at the show’s ability to change gears to something more complex and nuanced. The fact that essentially everything that transpired this week was all part of Juugo’s plan, even counting on Tensai to bring in the cavalry, and used his stature within Matsuri, but only so far.

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But even better is the fact that Tensai figured it all out, which even impresses Juugo. Tensai and Yuiga’s crazy dreams irks him because he can’t feel the same way, nor does he have as defined a goal. He also seems to have trouble with people. His haughty dad who exiled him is quick to mock him on both counts. But with his growing respect for Tensai and the goal Nanana has assigned him, Juugo may be in the right place to find out what he’s meant to do.

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Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 03

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As a ghost Nanana remains resolutely neutral, not even telling Juugo where any of her treasures are, because what would be the point of that? Also, the episodes would only need to be three minutes long, because they’d consist merely of Nanana telling Juugo and Tensai exactly where each treasure is and how to get to it. The experiences had while searching for a treasure are as important as the treasure itself.

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Last week we got a taste of what it takes to get to a treasure in the test that Juugo and Tensai take, in which Juugo’s stamina and toughness helped Tensai work out the system. This week we get an official “Ruin”, which Tensai discovers by observing the peculiar construction of the hexagonal mall tower perched 1000m above ground. What they find inside is yet another elaborate CGI setpiece of a very cool labyrinth. It actually reminded me of the Great Crystal dungeon or any other number of tricky video game mazes.

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When the puzzle is first robotically constructed, it could well have tipped the master detective Tensai off as to its solution. The translucent maze is built from some kind of rigid foam, chunks of which are cut away and subsequently rebuilt in a specific order. The sound effects are great. When Yuiga warns them that they’ll be risking their lives, and Tensai keeps almost falling down a yawning abyss to her death, it had my full attention.

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Precise study is required to fully devine the pattern, but Tensai succeeds, and leaves the gruntwork to Juugo once again; I must say they make a great team. Things took a definite turn for the sinister when Yuiga suddenly betrays them, grabbing the treasure—a wizard’s staff that grants its user practically anything—for himself and leaving Juugo and Tensai behind. What an ass! But I have to admit he had me totally fooled that he wasn’t right up to the moment I learned he was.

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The consequences turn out to be less severe and mortal as I thought though, as Juugo and Tensai simply have to keep from falling off the treasure chest floating in midair until the police arrive. It’s an cute scene between the two, being forced to hug. Interestingly the lady cops turn out to be dirty, stripping and beating Juugo, but he buys time for Tensai to track down Yuiga, who’s apparently just an errand boy of the head of the Great 7, suggesting this is about more than harmless fun and memories.

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Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 02

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Nanana’s first episode did a fine job quickly laying out the world and introducing the two central characters and establishing their relationship. This week, a lot more people are introduced, including the other two girls who appear in the promo art—or the other girl and guy, to be precise, as Hoshino Daruku (Hanazawa Kana) seems to be a boy who’s always in drag.

The show makes this apparent to Juugo quite suddenly but without getting too hammy about it. Daruku (is he called that just because he’s…dark?) is constantly following behind Ikkyuu Tensai (Asumi Kana), self-proclaimed Master Detective, who made a very positive impression on me. She may appear to be your classic pint-sized bratty know-it-all, she shows to be much more.

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For one thing, while “Master” may be pushing it, she’s definitely a keen observer; or maybe she’s just good at surrounding herself with worse observers (Daruku; Juugo). But seriously, I know she’s good when she arrives at Juugo’s door with Daruku in a maid’s outfit; the first and only door she knocks on.

She calmly, carefully discovered who ended up with the eye jewel thingy, and learned as much as she could about him before meeting him. Just so Juugo knows she’s not just messing around, Tensai produces compelling evidence that Juugo stole …ahem… conveeenience from the convenience store via maid magazine, which rather hilariously gets him in the doghouse with Nanana.

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The episode also introduces meet Yuiga Isshin, president of the school Adventure Club, and the Veep, Ibara Yuu, who seems to worship the ground beneath Yuiga. He has her don a sexy maid costume of her own to get Juugo’s attention. Yuiga also knows Nanana personally, and wants Juugo to join the club, inviting him to take the entrance test.

That’s when the imagery takes a turn for the computer-generated, as the test room is a very trippy, surreal place that spits you out if you take a wrong step. Juugo shows that his worth is in his stamina, toughness, and refusal to give up, but after ten-plus failures, Tensai steps in and takes a look. Both the test and the manner in which she solves it are pretty nifty, and if this is a taste of the kind of adventure the club will be getting into en route to discovering Nanana’s treasures, then I’m sold so far.

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Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin – 01

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When the show cut from three schoolgirls running through an Indiana Jones-style treasure dungeon to a sardonic Kyon wannabe arriving at the umpteenth “academy city on an island,” I’ll admit I let out a bit of a groan. But when Yama Juugo moves triumphantly into his first apartment and finds the ghost of one of the island’s seven elite founders, things started to look up.

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The ghost, the titular Ryuugajou Nanana, is a purple-haired girl voiced by Tanabe Rui right on the heels of another purple-haired girl voiced by Tanabe Rui I just finished watching. That’s okay, her innocent yet forthright voice is a good match so far. Nanana spends her days playing video games and eating pudding in the room she’s been bound to ever since she was stabbed ten years ago.

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Anoher member of the “Great 7” and a fiend of Nanana’s happens to be Juugo’s landlady; and in addition to not letting a haunted apartment go to waste, she’s glad Nanana will have a young lad to keep her company. Juugo’s sympathy, as well as the not-unattractive ghost’s promise to play his live-in girlfriend, compels him to agree to help solve the mystery of her premature demise.

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There’s also the little matter of much of her vast treasure of unknown billions of yen being hidden somewhere on the island, of which the broke, ramen-scarfing Juugo would certainly not mind a share. But whether it’s for money, love, compassion, or all of the above, there’s a lot laid out for Juugo to accomplish while he’s not attending high school. I’ve been itching for a nice breezy ghost story, and so far this hits the spot.

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