Final Fantasy Unlimited After – Spiralmania

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A photo of the interior of the After 2 CD booklet. Is it part of the summary in question? Beats me!

At this point, we come to a point where Ai No Kareshi’s drops the ball a little: namely, he presents a section marked, “Summary from CD booklet,” but doesn’t explain what that means. Here’s my best educated guess, I’m fairly confident in it. Only two products came on CD: Unlimited Before and Unlimited After 2. Since Unlimited Before was a flashback, we’re probably talking about a booklet included with Unlimited After 2. I further guess that the booklet was used to summarize all the events that led up to After 2 for anyone who missed the previous parts of the story (Before, After 1, After Spiral). Okay, so we worked it out! The trick is: the booklet seems it also summarizes crap that was never released in any other form, and so Ai no Kareshi had to summarize this booklet summary just to get the full Season 2 story! What a mess!

The CD booklet tells us that Kaze called off the fight with Makenshi when he realized Makenshi no longer has his Mist powers, and Cid says something about Soil and Mist that I just don’t understand. Nothing Cid says makes any sense to me in Ai no Kareshi’s summary, perhaps the concepts were too hard to localize, or perhaps they were incomplete (which is an even bigger pain to localize)? All you really need to know is that soil and mist are super important for arbitrary reasons. Because he’s Kaze, Kaze then walks off and abandons everyone.

Image3At this point, the summary begins to cover a much wider span of time. The now-floating continents of shattered Wonderland have begun to move from Wonderland to Earth, presumably via the new Pillars of Darkness. Also, Herba has been spreading flowers all over Earth, which the distressed people begin to see as a symbol of hope. Soljashy (whose arm has grown back, by the way) pounces on this. It seems that Soljashy is a font of charisma in these CD booklet summaries, despite striking me as goofy and ineffective in other Season 2 works! Soljashy gets himself in front of every camera that will take him, and tells them that Herba’s flowers really are a symbol of hope, and that Gaudium is the font of that hope. He also starts trashing the reputation of the Comodeen and casts the Silvia as Gaudium’s devil-analogue to Gaudium’s saviour-analogue. In the war of flying buildings.

Around this point, Knave decides to take the fight to Guadium. You’ll remember that Crux is looking for Gaudium, but if she doesn’t find it soon, Knave plans to attack the original Pillar of Darkness in the Sea of Japan to draw out Gaudium because… um… fuck if I know! The last time anyone attacked these pillars they were absorbed, and the time before that, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force lost a huge chunk of its fleet, but apparently Knave thinks he can do better with one ship armed with blowguns?

Image1Final Fantasy Unlimited – After Spiral begins at this point. After Spiral was a web novel divided into chapters called “Spirals.” This web novel was distributed for free online, and its pages (image files) were dutifully archived by WarMECH’s domain. Because they have WarMECH’s stamp on them, I’ve chosen not to provide an example page on the blog (WarMECH’s site is shut down so I can’t ask for permission), but if you can read Japanese, WarMECH’s copies have been preserved on soiruichi’s Photobucket. Oh, and if you can read Japanese and do plan to read the Spirals, be aware that the Photobucket albums aren’t arranged in numeric order, and its sometimes hops forward and back over large parts of the story. Pay attention to the page number!

Spiral #0 is simply a short prologue, mostly focused on Makenshi having a flashback to how he convinced his brother, Madoushi, to teach him sword fighting when he was a child and his brother a teenager. It’s probably wrong for me to call Makenshi “Makenshi” during this flashback, since Makenshi means “Magical Swordsman” and he isn’t a swordsman yet, but what the hell. Makenshi’s brother tries to dissuade him, as he’s worried that Makenshi is doing it for poor reasons like “wanting to be stronger” or “just thinking it’s neat.” Despite the speech, he eventually gives in even though Makenshi hasn’t given him a more “noble” reason to learn! Not wanting to learn how to fight for reasons like wanting to be strong or for fun is a running theme in After Spiral. I’m not joking. The martial arts: curse ye who enjoy them as a hobby!

Image4Spiral #1 will prove something more substantial than the prologue. As Knave has taken the Silvia to follow his stupid tilting-at-evil-windmills plan, this means the party is back in Japan, and the twins beg to be let off at Sado for a few days. Cid gives them three, with Lisa to supervise them and Makenshi in tow for some reason. While here, the twins run into Crux, and Yu asks her to search for Kaze while she’s out looking for Gaudium, though he’s upset about having to rely on someone yet again. Remember that? It was mentioned once towards the end of the show? Here it is again, it’s expanding into a new arc from this point on!

While this is happening, we learn that Soljashy has the ability to pop in and out of his suitcase as though he were Newt Scamander, and he starts going over files on the twins. While doing this, he notices a recurring figure in some of the photos, who seems to be one of Yu’s friends. Soljashy decides to deliver two packages, and because he’s a weirdo, he turns a mailbox into a monster with a business card to deliver them for him.

Back at the Hayakawa’s “mansion,” Ai discovers that Makenshi is carrying Clear’s crystal and recognizes it immediately. Makenshi entrusts the crystal to her and she attaches it to a hairpin, which is honestly pretty metal, considering it’s a scrap of a universe-eating monster. Oh, and also considering how it’s drawn in CG in a traditionally, 2D-animated universe! I can’t imagine how they planned to animate that when this was supposed to be Season 2! Ai seems to recognize that Clear isn’t coming back to life, surprisingly mature for someone so young, hot-headed and impatient, and she says that she simply wants to “give it back to his family someday” – i.e. return him to Omega.

Image9Just then, the stupid mailbox monster shows up and Makenshi breaks it. He succeeds, but only by lucking out and accidentally slashing the business card, which he doesn’t realize that he’s done. Bear that in mind for later. Still, he finds the two packages and discovers they’re addressed to Ai and Yu. He (perhaps foolishly) delivers them to the twins, and they open them to discover junior high uniforms for both of them. This prompts the kids to remember that if they hadn’t been in Wonderland, they’d have moved from elementary school to junior high this year.

While this is happening, Lisa gets puppy-kicked when Ai calls out her out for fake-smiling (ala Episode 16). Lisa realizes that Kaze has been saying the same, but remembers that Dolk always used to like her smiling. Youch.

Ai adores her uniform, and she has her and her brother put them on the next morning, and it inspires them to go take a look at the school they would have attended. When they arrive, they find the school mostly abandoned (what with the global catastrophe going on), but they run into Yu’s friend from Soljashy’s files, who’s introduced as Touya Satomi. A new child! Oh no! That sounds climactic enough to end the chapter immediately!

I’m not kidding, that ends Spiral 1 and we move on to 2.

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Touya

Yu and Ai talk to Touya, and we learn that Yu wants to return a few things he borrowed from Touya before going to Wonderland. We’ll get back to that. The twins tell Touya about some of their adventures, and he’s taken aback by all of it, especially since Chobi is right there for him to see and touch. It doesn’t help that Touya and Ai have never gotten along, and so Ai keeps snapping at Touya whenever he’s spooked by something from Wonderland. Oh, and to rub it in, Makenshi arrives and is shot straight to the top of Touya’s weird list. Yu tries to introduce Makenshi as “White Cloud” instead of “Makenshi” so that Touya can think of him as a person with a name instead of someone named after a bizarre, dangerous profession like “Magical Swordsman.” It doesn’t help. “White Cloud” is “Shiroi Kumo” in Japanese, and “Shiroi Kumo” is about as close as fans have gotten to giving him a real name, too. Indeed the Makenshi Shrine addresses him almost exclusively as “Kumo,” just like Kaze is “Kaze.” I may sprinkle a few uses of “Kumo” here and there in salute to that, but since “Makenshi” was his only official English name, I’m not sure I should switch over entirely.

Elsewhere, Soljashy is taking a trip to the real-world gold mines of Sado (shut down in 1989), which have a real-world historical exhibit featuring animatronic miners. Haven’t had any luck finding photos, I’m afraid! Soljashy uses his business cards to turn the animatronics into an army of monsters he calls “Doldiers,” for some reason. I think this is just “soldiers” with a different prefix (the “d” taken from “droid,” perhaps?), the same way all his previous names have been English words with a different suffix, but it’s hard to say when the names are supposed to suck.

Image12We cut back to Sado, where Ai and Lisa have a conversation about Touya that I… think is supposed to be a coded analogue for Lisa’s relationship with Kaze? Touya then asks where Yu’s parents are, since that’s why he went to Wonderland after all. He has to tell Touya that he and Ai rescued their parents, but that they’re inconveniently gone again. This only adds to Touya’s concerns, and he talks about how people from Wonderland (like Makenshi!) are responsible for all the bad shit going on in the world right now. One particular objection is that Wonderlanders like Kumo “aren’t even human,” which will be important in a bit. The twins try to explain that the problem isn’t people from Wonderland, but specifically Chaos, but Touya can’t comprehend Chaos.

Spiral 2 ends with Kaze flat-out teleporting to Sado for some reason, which doesn’t make for a very tense finale. Oh no! Another… allied, supporting character! Our heroes are sure in for it now! End the chapter immediately!

By the way, none of us are surprised that Kaze can teleport, right? After all this time, it’s the only thing that makes sense!

Spiral 3 begins with the Doldiers attacking the twins’ junior high. Kumo/Makenshi tries to engage the robots, but because he doesn’t know he has to attack the evil business cards (“evil business cards,” I still can’t believe it), all he accomplishes is to reduce them into living cables and shards instead of living animatronics! How Dwarf Fortress! Thankfully, he works out about the business cards before they overwhelm him, but it’s close.

Image19The kids get home along with Touya and Lisa, but Touya is in a panic. Unfortunately, Sojashy arrives and introduces himself to Touya with a business card, and also upsets the twins by revealing that he sent them their uniforms. Soljashy keeps referring to the twins as “Chaos Rulers” in front of Touya, and tries to kidnap them with more Doldiers. Luckily, Kaze arrives just in time to save the twins from having to do something. I tease, but this time, it’s a plot point! Yu notices how useless he is, and starts to complain about it in his head! We learn that Yu is so upset at being humiliated by bad guys again, that his emotions are influencing Chaos, and the sky outright turns red.

Lisa tries to get the three kids out of there on Chobi, but once again Soljashy’s monsters keep them in the area. You might recall that this is exactly what happened at the end of After 1. Hell, Soljashy once again uses Lisa as a human shield and Kaze once again snipes him, just like the last time this stuff happened, making me wonder if the writers had this scene lying around, and accidentally put it in two separate products?

Image28There is one important new addition to this photocopied scene, and one minor one. Lisa once again protests not to kill “Dolk,” but Kaze insists that “Chaos must be destroyed.” He then flicks his eyes to the twins and Lisa realizes he means the kids as well, as they are burgeoning Chaos-spawn! Our hero! From this point on, the scene is nearly identical to After 1, though I need to note that this means Lisa rescues Touya with Kigen Arts at one point, along with the twins. Finally, Soljashy has the Doldiers merge into “King Doldier.” This is when the characters (Ai, for starters) start outright calling Soljashy out on his stupid monster names.

Anyways, Magun.

The soil charge triad to use on you has been decided!
A bladestorm of bonds, Sword Viridian!
Facing the road of extinction in a flash of an instant, Steel Gray!
And finally, a wave of fresh rage, Gladius Red!
Annihilate! I summon you, Raiden!

Oh, and I should probably mention that Raiden flips open his head like a lid so that he can pull a sword out of the stub of his neck to destroy King Doldier. Soljashy runs – and so would you, after that display! – and Kaze just walks off again.

Image32Touya is even worse than before after the attack, especially after seeing Lisa use magic. When Yu gets to talking to Chobi, the twins introduce him to the magic “pinnon” feather and Pochepocket and only make things worse. The kids set up a meeting the next afternoon, and more Doldiers show up, forcing Chobi to carry Touya away to safety. This is left on a cliffhanger, but not before Yu’s self-deprecation empowers Chaos even more.

We follow Touya away from the battle at this point. Chobi leaves quickly, wanting to return to the twins, which leaves Touya alone when Soljashy appears to talk to him alone. This ends the spiral, and on a genuinely menacing note, to boot!

Prev: Final Fantasy Unlimited After – Dualcast Summon Bazooka
Next: Final Fantasy Unlimited After – Death to Boats!

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