Haru and Taku meet up with Yuniko in a maid cafe, where she grudingly agrees to give Taku a crash course in the Incarnate System. While she trains him in an arctic wasteland, Haru returns to the real world, and Yuniko’s underling Blood Leopard takes him to a neutral underground duelling hall in Akibahara where they’ll investigate Dusk Taker’s ability to stay off of the lists.
The Red King Scarlet Rain proves a valuable, if reluctant, ally to Haru and Taku in their quest to defeat who’s likely the final boss in this series, the insufferable Nomi Seiji/Dusk Taker. Not only does she welcome them into her Red Legion’s prominence base and give Taku a personal lesson in how to use the Incarnate system, as a bonus she lends Haru the services of one of her subjects to aid in his investigation of Nomi. It’s good to be strong, but they won’t beat Nomi unless they know as much about him as they can; no more surprises.
We liked Yuniko’s sudden shift from her cheerful facade to surly grouch when Haru mentions Incarnate in public; but we’re glad she knows she has a debt to pay and is willing to do so. We also like Blood Leopard’s very matter-of-fact manner with Haru (we too thought at the time she was pretty stiff for a maid waitress!) Plus, her bosozoku motorcycle with voice-activated ignition is freakin’ awesome, and riding it in a maid costume really helps them blend in with the colorful Akiba rabble. The underground duelling bar is another nice touch.
Rating: 6 (Good)
Haru, Hime, Taku and Niko are ambushed by the Yellow King, Yellow Radio, and a large force of his followers. He neutralizes Black Lotus by playing back video of her beheading Red Rider in a sneak attack. Taku believes retreat the best option, and he all but sacrifices Cyan Pile to cover the others. Silver Crow and Scarlet Rain struggle with Radio’s superior numbers, until Haru snaps Hime out of it and Black Lotus squares off with Radio himself, the first battle between Level 9 Kings. Before they can unleash their special attacks, Radio is stabbed by Chrome Disaster.
The end of last week looked like a tough spot for our heroes, as their foes had the high ground and far more numbers. Thankfully, Yellow Radio is more insterested in talking and letting the small fry fight for him; he only lifts a finger when Black Lotus comes at him directly. There’s also no nice way of saying this: his henchmen can’t aim. They do manage to dismantle much of Niko’s red fort, as Haru is busy squirming on the ground getting shocked. At this time, you can bet Niko is regretting not bringing Red Legion backup.
As for Kuroyukihime, seeing herself betray the old Red King, someone she respected and would probably be friends with in real life, is a sudden shock that drains her will to fight (“Zero Fill” ~ there’s a term for everything!), and without that, her avatar won’t move. Fortunately the shock is only temporary, as sufficient yelling from Haru wakes her up (so she can correct him about her having loved Red Rider; she didn’t). Then the silly-looking Yellow King with his silly illusory powers literally gets stabbed in the back by the very Chrome Disaster he created. But we agree with Kuroyukihime…we never liked him anyway.
Rating: 5 (Average)
Now Level 4, Haru undergoes extreme training so he’ll be strong enough to start helping his legion gain territory. While returning home he finds a tiny, cute red-haired girl in his apartment, baking cookies and claiming to be a second cousin. Suspicious of her story, he does some digging and discovers she is the second Red King, Scarlet Rain, whom he pisses off by accidentally groping her when she falls in the bath with him. She challenges him to a duel, and Silver Crow is no match for her stalwart defense and overwhelming firepower. Rather than kill him, she demands he get her an audience with Kuroyukihime, in the real world.
There’s something to be said for uncomplicated, non-mystical, straightforward stories like this one: legions of various colors led by kings vying for dominance in a virtual game. This series continues its imaginitive execution with a very cool climactic battle against his first king, even if that king is a pint-sized firecracker. We appreciated how her introduction was as a not-so-convincing cute little sister act, and for once, Haru isn’t buying it (in expressing his suspicions in his thoughts, he rather hilariously says the long-form title of Oreimo). Hime may scold him for not doing enough research on the legions, but at least he’s growing less gullible. His only mistake is being in a vulnerable position – in the tub – when she shows her true colors.
Frankly, this Scarlet Rain girl should thank her lucky stars Haru did catch her, even if he incidentally copped a feel in the process; she’d have lost her throne and possibly motor skills had she landed headfirst on the edge of the tub. He saved her life, which is why she spares his in the duel. Well, also because he’s the closest link to Kuroyukihime, whom she likely harbors a vendetta. Hime, you see, beheaded Rain’s predcessor. It could be she did Rain a favor by doing this (it allowed her to take the Red throne), but more likely than not she wants revenge. Hime is reluctant to give Haru details about her past with the first Red King one way or another, so we’ll see.
Rating: 7 (Very Good)