After quite a few of the series unresolved elements were “placed on the table” during last week’s episode I had kind of figured that the second half of the series would revolve around Cyan and Strawberry Heart “taking it” to Dagger Morse, his minions and their “dark monsters”, but I did not expect the series to go about introducing that element of the story the way they did in this episode. There were a lot of hints trickled out in it – the storytelling of the series continues to be quite engaging, and yet again more and more and more new characters are introduced usually 4 to 5 at a time through introducing new bands, it seems. But this time around they not only introduced a new band, but they also introduced a new … erm … race (perhaps a subset of the myumons inhabiting Midi City?) called youkai who congregate in a particular part of Midi City known as “Youkai Street”. It is through the section of Midi City that the story continues.

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In episode 5 Retoree mentioned to Cyan that there were a fair number of people who suspected that she, that is, the new member of Plasmagica, was actually the one everyone saw defeat the dark monster that attacked the concert of Trichronika – and this included not only members of other bands but also the simple inhabitants of Midi City. Well, in this episode MariMari, a member of a band called Shinimonogurui and a youkai herself approaches Plasmagica with a request to help search for another member of her band named Tsugihagi who has disappeared (as we can see, the rumors mentioned by the band members of Shizuku Secret Mind to the members of Plasmagica in episode 5 about members of bands disappearing and the disappearances being linked to the dark monsters are still alive and well). When Chuchu asks “Why are you asking this of us?” MariMari says that she saw when Cyan single handedly defeated the dark monster. To this request everyone agrees and MariMari takes them all to Youkai Street.

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It turns out Ogasawara (the henchman of Dagger Morse who was controlling the dark monster that attacked Trichronika) has been working behind the scenes on his own initiative and spreading rumors that Youkai Street is THE place to perform to “make it big”, all with the intention of getting a hold of Cyan, it seems. When he very excitedly informs Dagger that the members of Plasmagica have arrived in the Youkai Street district the latter seems willing to let Ogasawara have another chance. However, while all this has been going on it turns out that the members of Shingan CrimsonZ have also been hearing these rumors, and have decided to make their own way to Youkai Street to perform completely separately from Plasmagica. As it turns out they happen to be the guinea pigs for Ogasawara to “flex his muscles” and begin the process of regaining some sense of “face” in Dagger’s eyes

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Needless to say the Youkai Street district is not named so because someone just woke up one morning and decided on it on impulse. The Youkai as a race seem to be extremely fond of pranks and especially pranks that scare others, and the district where they like to congregate is rather … eerie to say the least. Even Shingan CrimsonZ’s drummer Rom (the manliest and bravest of the bunch, perhaps) says on his first glimpse of the place that it reminds him of a giant haunted house attraction one sees at the amusement parks. After being pranked and scared out of their wits repeatedly they somehow make their way to the public performance stage and are just about to begin performing when Ogasawara pulls them all into an alternate dimension where they find themselves attacked by a giant monster that looks like a huge tree. Shingan CrimsonZ does not know it is a dark monster (they think it is another Youkai prank) and attack it, indignant that it interrupted their live concert.

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To my great surprise (and Ogasawara’s, to be fair) the members of Shingan CrimsonZ actually defeat the dark monster in the best 3-D animation sequence since the Trichronkia concert battle in episode 1, and they do so by somehow … “powering up”. I really was not able to follow a lot that went on here. Not only was Ogasawara somehow controlling the dark monster at a distance (he was in a nearby forest watching the events through a virtual computer screen), but he was also somehow able to suck the potential victims into the realm where the dark monster was. He was also somehow able to construct some kind of “magic barrier” that prevented Cyan and Strawberry Heart from entering that alternate dimension somehow. Also, the members of Shingan somehow gained “magic powers” in the alternate dimension as well (similar to what Cyan did with Strawberry Heart) … but Trichronika and other bands were not shown as being able to do so … and by that defeated the dark monster in quite a showing. Why only them? What are some of the differences with the other bands? Did the dark monster’s origin have something to do with it? More and more questions, as you can see.

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Well, after the dark monster is (incredibly) defeated two interesting things appear – the first is a tiny pink amoeba like thing, and the second is the missing band member Tsugihagi. In this case the dark monster was the combination of the amoeba and Tsugihagi and the way it “took control” of Tsugihagi was apparently catalysted/enabled via the negative, dark feelings Tsugihagi was troubled by on encountering a roadblock in his hopes to improve as a musician. (If dark feelings are indeed a major key to creating a dark monster then I find myself fearful for plenty of other characters – not the least of which including the lead singer of Criticrista and … well … to be honest … Chuchu. I can easily see unfulfilled ambition and/or jealousy being a recipe for disaster for something like this.) I guess Ogasawara was then able to control the amoeba/victim combo somehow – and exactly how is Ogasawara able to control this combo in the first place? Magic? Technology?

What is worse, we see that the amoeba snuck up and attached itself to the Shingan CrimsonZ guitarist Aion (the one always going on about being a “dark god”), and it looks like next episode will involve getting a glimpse into the process of the amoeba attempting to take over a victim, that is showing how a potential dark monster might be created. I can’t help but wonder if Cyan’s “special power” is the ability to destroy the amoeba at the same time as freeing it’s host, while others cannot kill the amoeba proper? Hmm … way, way too many questions! Happily the series is continuing to deliver….

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Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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