The Let's Play Archive

Conception Plus: Maidens of the Twelve Stars

by Psycho Knight

Part 64: Let’s finish this. Please – Conception: The Anime (Episodes 10-12)

Special Update V: Let’s finish this. Please – Conception: The Anime (Episodes 10-12)

The game part of the LP is over, I’ve rambled about my stupid thoughts on the game and the characters, and we were presented with the terrible knowledge that there is an ending where Mana becomes a human girl and follows Itsuki to Earth while taking on Mahiru’s life (including magically making Mahiru’s parents believe that Mana is totally their daughter).

But, before I can finally smother put this LP to bed once and for all, we need to check out how the anime adaption decided to handle the game’s ending.

We left off on Episode 9, where Itsuki gets led to believe that he has to do the Love Ritual with a dude only for Mana/The Star Maidens/Narc/Seiya to reveal that it was all a big prank to get Itsuki to… realize something… possibly… It was unclear and stupid and also a waste of an entire episode that could have been used for anything else, namely character building.

There’s only episodes 10, 11, and 12 left. My guess is that we’ll be focusing on Alfie for this episode, then we’ll spend the remaining two episodes drunkenly wandering towards the final confrontation with Chaos/13th Phantom.

Episode 10 starts with Itsuki wondering about who the 13th Maiden is. He considers Mana, but writes her off because she’s lewd and fat (Itsuki says that not even he would go for that. Don’t fat-shame, Itsuki). Mana is secretly listening in on this and gets pissed off. I personally enjoyed Itsuki shit-talking Mana. Him going all “No fat chicks” is the only thing that ruined the moment.

Then we cut to him training with Alfie after the opening is finished (Mana says he only has the 12th Labyrinth left to seal). Gonna assume that we’re about to speedrun Alfie’s bonding route.

Love you guys.

Actually, this training thing goes differently than in the game. Itsuki pretends to get hit by Alfie and falls down, and the Star Children are then asked about what they’re supposed to do in a situation like that. There’s a cute scene where the Star Children (not confidently) suggest different things (like treating the wound or going after the Impurity). Paladin eventually shows everyone how it’s done by responding that everyone has to carry out their role (for example: rear guard heals Itsuki, second line defends the rear, front line counterattacks). Alfie gets a look of pride as the Star Children all start coming together about tactics.

God, I didn’t even think about it, but I hope this entire episode is just “Alfie, Itsuki, and the Star Children”.

At the Stardust Labyrinths, we find out that Sagittarius is the last Impurity God that Itsuki needs to defeat. Shouldn’t be too hard for them.

Although things go pear-shaped for a bit when Archer trips and Itsuki has to take a hit to protect her.

Seriously, I would have loved for this to have been half the series. Just Itsuki and the Star Children fighting together and strengthening their teamwork while having to constantly make adjustments to account for new additions to the team.

The next chunk of the episode is all the stuff about the Ophiuchus Labyrinth appearing and Mirei/Alfie having a brief run-in where Mirei is worried about her (because she knows that Alfie is the 13th Maiden) and Alfie being happy to finally go and meet Itsuki as the Ophiuchus Maiden. The big difference between the game and the anime is that here in the anime, the 13th Maiden seems to be required in order to tackle the 13th Phantom. Mirei is worried, but she doesn’t seem to be as opposed to Alfie becoming the Ophiuchus Maiden as she was in the game. So hey, at least Alfie has some actual plot relevance in this version.

We also get a look at Alfie’s room as she digs out a “special magic book” that she obtained from Sola (titled: Maiden’s Charm – My Birthday). Also, yes, those are off-brand Amazon boxes off to the side. We’re in Japan, there’s no skirting around that. You may as well just have the Tokyo skline visible over a nearby mountain range.

I guess that book is a book on love superstitions, because we then get scenes of Alfie trying to secretly do stuff to Itsuki that will supposedly make him realize the truth about her. For instance, she takes a strand of her hair and ties it into a bow, then attaches it to Itsuki’s back without him knowing and says that if he doesn’t notice it in three days, then I guess he’ll realize he loves Alfie or something. I’m not sure what she’s getting at because her thought gets cut off as Mana immediately notices the strand of hair and cleans it off.

Then she tries another trick from the book where she writes “Itsuki loves Alfie” on an eraser and states that it will come true if she can use the entire eraser without anyone else touching it.

Which fails because Tarua shows up with a delivery. Alfie signs for it in pencil, Tarua tells her she has to use a pen; then, while Alfie is looking for the pen, Tarua uses the eraser to erase the signature for Alfie.

I’ll be honest. We’re just about halfway into this episode and I legitimately love it. I love the Star Children scenes that started us off and I love seeing Alfie be a dork that’s trying all these superstitious ideas to make Itsuki awaken to his love for her. Alfie loves romance dramas and pop idols, this is exactly the kind of innocent stuff she’d be doing to try and flirt with/get Itsuki’s attention.

The last thing she tries is to write “Itsuki loves Alfie” on a big sheet of paper, tear it in half, roll it up, and then swallow it… which causes her to barf it back up and admit that she’ll have to nut up and tell him in person.

Meanwhile, Itsuki is just standing on a street corner with Mana (holding up an Ophiuchus sign) and trying to recruit someone to be the 13th Maiden, as though that’s how it works. To be fair, they also mention that the 13th Maiden will have a particular symbol on them, so it’s not as though they are willing to just accept anyone who walks up.

Could this be the one episode of this series that I actually enjoy? …There’s still 10 minutes left for everything to go horribly, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

During this scene, Alfie tries to call out to Itsuki but him and Mana don’t notice her (she’s trapped in a crowd of girls that is swarming Seiya).

Normally I would think this is stupid because Itsuki is being a blind idiot openly stating things like “Gosh, if only there was a woman who has been supporting me this entire time and helping me from the shadows that might possibly be the mysterious 13th Star Maiden”, but in this case (and maybe I’m being too generous to the writers here) I actually like it because this is playing out exactly like one of those romance dramas that Alfie is into. You know, where the guy is an oblivious moron and random circumstances keep getting in the way of the big lovey moment.

We do find out that Mana discovers Alfie is the 13th Maiden though. Other people heard Alfie shouting about it from the crowd and told Itsuki/Mana, but presumably only Mana figures it out based on the people’s description (Mana shows up in Alfie’s room and gets pissed at her that she’s trying to use love charms instead of just going right up to Itsuki). Alfie doesn’t want to do that though, because encounters have to be “sudden or trendy”.

Alfie also shows her a video tape that her father left her. Unlike the game, the anime gives this former God’s Gift a name: Otabito. Well, possibly. The tape is labeled "Otabito's diary", so that may just be the name of the show that's on the tape. She says that she is supposed to show Itsuki that tape if she is to become a Star Maiden. Mana then goes back to Itsuki with the tape and tells him about Alfie. There’s also more shitty fourth-wall breaking where Mana talks about how the 13th Maiden was obvious because Alfie shows up in the OP (don’t draw attention to the fact that you wasted an entire episode on a stupid non-mystery that the audience already knows the answer to, Conception: Anime).

Anyway, let’s find out what’s on that tape.

No, that isn’t Alfie’s dad.

The tape is actually a recording of a bunch of cheesy romance drama shots. You know, the kind of shots they’d have in a trailer (people shouting about their love interspersed with “sad” scenes like standing alone in the rain).

This leads into Mana telling Itsuki to make things trendy/lovey-dovey for Alfie. Which I guess involves Itsuki sporting some shades and cruising down Palm Beach the Granvanian coast with Alfie in a convertible. Then they have a candlelight dinner (Mana specifically says “Italian dinner” so… yeah, in addition to Canada, Mana also knows about Italy I guess).

Itsuki ditches that idea and just takes Alfie back to her room, though. He says he wants to get to know the real her instead of being part of some made-up “drama” like what Mana was putting them through. This is where we get Alfie’s whole backstory, although she’s careful not to mention that her mother and father were a Star Maiden and a God’s Gift/Visitor. Alfie asks about Itsuki’s parents and he tells her about how they passed away, which isn’t something that game Itsuki ever really touches on (except briefly with Ruka and I think Reone).

There’s also a really nice scene where Alfie reveals a (very professionally done) book she made that documents all the things she was doing to get the Star Children prepared to fight with Itsuki (tactics, notes on each Star Child’s strengths/weaknesses, notes on Itsuki’s equipment) and Itsuki gets a little teary-eyed because of how much work Alfie was putting in to keep him safe (he says that he has worried about if he would ever return home alive). Mana also gets pissed off (outside Alfie’s window) because she believes she’s been looking after Itsuki 24/7 and yet he’s not throwing himself on her. I like when we get to laugh at Mana. I hate Mana.

Itsuki also gives her a dress that he prepared because he thinks that the pure idol image suits her better than a trendy idol from the past (respectfully disagreeing with what her father seemed to imply by leaving that videotape behind).

Mana keeps crying and bemoaning the fact that she wasn’t the “Cinderella” in this story as well despite everything she’s done. I still don’t feel bad for Mana. Fuck Mana.

Unfortunately, this sweet scene is ruined by the show doing a diarrhea joke. Just as Alfie and Itsuki are about to kiss, Alfie complains about her stomach and then seems to pass out. Mana mentions afterward that it was just loose bowels because she had swallowed some paper at some point (I guess she didn’t spit it back out earlier).

You were so very close, Conception: The Anime. Still, this is by far the best episode of this fucking show that I’ve seen so far. Anime Alfie does diverge from her game counterpart a bit (namely, there’s no mention of her only recently awakening to what “love” is, or any of that contempt for love due to the Bond Eater subplot), but I can’t really complain too much about this particular case because Alfie wasn’t in the original PSP version. The game was still in development during the production of the anime, so it’s not as though the anime studio would have any frame of reference for her outside of “is the 13th Star Maiden” and “is a Star Child”. Besides, I don’t dislike this characterization of Alfie. She still has the love of romance drama and the slightly dorky behaviour.

Plus, these scenes of Alfie are very sweet and not perverted in the name of (what this show considers) “humour”. That’s about the best I could hope for. Can you imagine if the other episodes were closer to this? The anime still would have been generic, but at least we could say that it was heartwarming.

Now let’s see if this show can ruin that feeling, shall we? It hasn’t had any trouble with it yet and the post credits stinger for Episode 10 seems to be suggesting a Mana-centric episode, so… shit.

Episode 15 opens with Itsuki fucking Alfie… or however the Love Ritual works in this adaption. Mana is assuring the audience that this isn’t a porn video that will steal personal information or infect our computers with viruses… I started a virus scan shortly after she said that.

So forget about all that sweet stuff from last episode, the show is going to pervert the hell out of Alfie now. Itsuki is shown… well I can’t really call it sex, because he appears to just be laying face down in her chest like he died. He pulls her dress off, but both of them are still just laying there and not moving at first.

Either way, the 13th Star Child does get born. She’s… different (that’s definitely not a warrior outfit she’s wearing). Itsuki notes that she doesn’t look like the other Star Children and Alfie looks a little down, then she passes out. The Star Children are worried, but Itsuki just tells them that she’s tired (she is most certainly not tired. Something is wrong).

There’s a quick scene of Narc telling Shang that the 13th Child has been born and Shang being ominous by talking about “revealing the truth”. I hope to god that the anime isn’t about to put their own spin on the ending of the game by having that 13th Star Child be the sacrifice. Don’t pull that shit, anime! You stay away from the Star Children!

Oh sweet Jesus…

Yes, as if the parallels to Japan couldn’t be any clearer, Itsuki wanders around during Starmas and finds an “Idol Goods” gift stand where he meets a wota. Granvania is totally into Japanese Idols from Sola, despite the fact that their only exposure to it would come from God’s Gifts that arrive only once every 10 years. So either Alfie’s dad used Mirei’s mind camera thing to create enough idol material from memory that it was able to form an entire fandom, or every single God’s Gift that gets plucked from Earth is a Japanese Idol superfan.

Ugh… A world of magic and fantasy, everyone! Look at all the magic and fantasy going on in this alternate world that is totally different from Japan!

Whatever… Itsuki grabs something for Alfie as a get-well present but Narc stops him for the big ominous reveal.

Thankfully my fears about that 13th Star Child are unfounded, as the anime sticks to the “Itsuki is the sacrifice” deal. Mana learns of this in advance in this adaption though (she overhears Shang/Itsuki/Narc outside the throne room). The next chunk of this episode proceeds similarly to the game with Itsuki being bummed out (there’s no Mahiru Mysteries though). Mana also pretends like she didn’t overhear it (she’s bummed out too, and at a loss as to what she should say to Itsuki).

Itsuki goes and gets gifts for each of the Star Maidens or does something nice for them, such as playing Santa for Ruka and the orphans (which anime Ruka is overjoyed about, as opposed to game Ruka) or getting Reone a candied apple, or—

…I… I don’t have words… I just… don’t. I can’t believe they actually did this as a scene.

Moving on from… that. We get an extended scene between Mahiru and Itsuki, then switch back to Alfie. Sadly, anime Alfie’s backstory is more tragic than game Alfie. Alfie’s Star Maiden mother was apparently killed in this adaption. Also, Alfie is said to be a Star Child and that her immortality and Star Child strength were lost when she became a Star Maiden, but I think they imply that Alfie may have been the child of a God’s Gift and a Star Maiden (as in biologically, not magically). She hasn’t said anything about any experimentation or secret “Artificial Star Maiden” project and there’s not a lot of time left to this episode. There’s also no mention of her having a 10 year lifespan now, although that could be dropped at any moment I guess.

I don’t even know how to describe what happens next. Alfie’s tragic backstory leads straight into this weird gag where the walls of her room are pulled away and she does this “one-man routine” where she’s the host of a JPOP ranking show, and then she’s an idol singing a love song, and then she’s dressed in all these other costumes telling Itsuki that he’s just gotta do it. Even Itsuki has no fucking idea what’s happening. The scene just cuts after that scene I screenshotted above.

If I didn’t screenshot that, I would swear that I simply suffered a stroke and imagined that whole thing.

Anyway, Itsuki somehow gets the determination to save the world and the rest of the episode is him preparing and Mana being a tool. Itsuki also seemingly fucks Mana.

Remember this horrifying screenshot? It wasn’t an imagine spot by Mana. It happens.

And on that disgusting note, we reach the end of Episode 11.

Let’s flush this turd.

I’m gonna blow through this because the end of my suffering is in sight and I am eager to be done with this series. As nice as Episode 10 was, it doesn’t make up for the rest of the series, namely episodes 5 and 6.

Shang and Narc are notably slightly less assholish in this portrayal. They actually tell the Star Maidens about the Great Star Ward plan upfront. Itsuki and Alfie have already left for the Ophiuchus Labyrinth, but at least the Star Maidens aren’t learning about the plan from Star Jesus at the last possible second before Itsuki is sacrificed.

Unlike the game, Anime Star Children most certainly do understand the concept of love. They easily recognize what’s going on between Mana/Itsuki/Alfie.

Granted, despite the Maidens being told about it in advance, we then immediately cut back to Itsuki telling Alfie “fuck that noise, I’m not sacrificing myself. I’m just gonna kill that thing.” I appreciated that, because it’s what I wished official Itsuki would have done. He basically tells Mana on the way through the Ophiuchus Labyrinth “Yeah, sacrificing myself would be the safe option and save Granvania, but I kind of like living, so I’m just gonna do that instead.”

Of course, that praise is counterbalanced by the fact that Mana in the anime has apparently become the unofficial “14th Maiden”. She’s glued to Itsuki’s face during this little monologue of his and talking about them having a happy life together.

Don’t worry, I may be eager to escape this series, but I’ll never forget you guys. The Star Children are great.

Something else I don’t think was a solid plan: Itsuki going to fight the 13th Phantom by himself. Alfie says for the Star Children not to worry and there’s a flashback of Itsuki telling the Star Children to protect everyone and for Alfie to look after the kids.

Alfie also does this thing where she quotes Itsuki saying something like “Please watch over them Alfie, the woman I love the most. Take care of the proof of our love.” And while Alfie is lost in her imagination, the Star Children are questioning whether or not Itsuki actually said that while also talking about how [Insert Star Maiden here] is their mom, not Alfie (Fighter says that Mahiru is his mom, while Bondsman says that Femiruna is his, in case you’re wondering).

Alfie tells the Star Children not to worry about the details, then talks about how this must be what housewives feel like while waiting for their husbands to get home. This causes the Star Children to misinterpret Alfie’s meaning as her being a cheater or seductress (they all have different moms after all). When Alfie asks where they heard a stupid idea like that, the Star Children tell her that Mana told them.

Of course Mana would corrupt our pure and innocent Star Children. God, I hate Mana.

Back at the castle, Mahiru is apprehensive about doing the Star Ward spell thing, but the other Maidens silently encourage her to go through with it. Unlike the game, the anime shows that all the Star Maidens contribute to the Great Star Ward spell, it’s not just a Mahiru only deal (although she does lead the group for it).

They also don’t even have to be present for it. They are doing the spell from the castle and Itsuki just gets speared with light over in the labyrinth (where he’s firing off attacks at the 13th Phantom who is just kind of standing there no-selling each one. Or should I say floating there, since the 13th Phantom is nothing but a blob of purple evil energy with glowing eyes. Not as impressive as the game version).

Mahiru bails on the ritual, though. That part hasn’t changed. Kind of weird that the Star Maidens were so willing to go along with it, although I guess that’s more realistic than the game where they’re willing to risk the entire world on the chance that maybe Itsuki can do it without being sacrificed.

Then, after Mahiru bails on the ritual and says that saving the world at the cost of Itsuki’s life isn’t worth it, and I shit you not about this next part, she asks if there’s any other way to save the world and Shang goes “Well, what do you say, Narcisstes?” Narcisstes then says that “Huh, well, I guess there is another way that doesn’t involve sacrificing somebody. Mirei?”

Yes, Mirei is just aware of the “true bonds” thing that Star Jesus told us about in the game. NOBODY MENTIONS THIS AT ANY POINT UNTIL THE LAST SECOND. Shang does the equivalent of a shoulder shrug and goes “Well, I mean, we already told Itsuki that he had to be sacrificed. Would be a shame to not just carry it out, but I guess we can try the alternative method that doesn’t involve condemning someone to eternal torment for the sake of a world that isn’t their own.”

So fucking stupid. Ugh… well, I guess on the bright side this makes Shang look like less of an extremist jackass. Narc says that it’s too much of a gamble because of how little the document says about how to actually use the power of love, but Shang says that they have to at least try it.

So everyone runs off to the Ophiuchus Labyrinth and does their prayer thing which powers up all the Star Children (the 13th Phantom has breached the labyrinth at this point, so the Star Children are preparing to fight it in order to protect the world, as Itsuki told them to do). The children also tell the Ophiuchus Star Child to protect Alfie, since she’s scared and doesn’t know what to do in order to help.

Then, it’s MECUNITE time!

Itsuki is buried in the rubble of Ophiuchus by the way. That’s why I haven’t mentioned him. Nobody believes he’s dead though.

Mana expended all her Star Energy in order to shield Itsuki, but of course they’re only going to joke about Mana dying or fading away. We already know that the game robs us of that miracle (in one ending), so it’s obvious they are going to use the Harem/Mana ending as an excuse to keep her alive.

Itsuki arrives on the surface just in time to save the Star Maidens from getting blasted. He declares that he wants to be with everyone, so I guess we all know what ending this series will show (then again, it should have been obvious from the start that they’d do the Harem Ending).

The MECUNITE’d Star Children protect the Star Maidens from attacks, but Itsuki isn’t able to completely defend himself, which causes Alfie to jump in and take the hit. This goes about the same way that Alfie’s bonding route goes, where she dies at the hands of the Bond Eater. She does the “thanks for teaching me about love” and “I’m glad I became a Star Maiden” sentimental stuff as well.

Alfie dies and worryingly there is no Matryoshka left behind. Itsuki (and Alfie’s Star Child) get pissed and the Ophiuchus Sign appears over the field.

Then everyone sort of repeats the scene from earlier where they pray and glow, except this time their Star Signs appear. So I guess Alfie’s death is what gives them the resolve to truly join together… or some crap like that.

Then some Sentai ass shit happens where all the MECUNITE’d Star Children join together to form MECUNITE Megazord or something, which Itsuki gets pulled up into and starts piloting.

Shooting it with the Megazord beam finally brings out the boss we saw from the game. I was starting to think they weren’t showing him because he was too hard to draw or something.

Chaos is actually a bit more argumentative in this appearance. It’s implied in the game, but the anime version of him clearly asks “Why are you rejecting me? I’m Impurity incarnate, but you humans are what created me in the first place.” Either way, Itsuki and Chaos trade laser beams and stuff. The crux of Chaos’ argument is that Itsuki must have felt comfort and joy when he was “defiling” the Star Maidens. I can see how the anime is trying to tie the idea of sex and impurity together by making it sound like it’s evil or and inherently selfish or something, but it’s flimsy reasoning. We all know how this villain rant ends: Love is pure and good and shut up.

13th Star Child becomes a golden trident of light and Itsuki proceeds to fucking demolish Chaos by goring him to the depths of the Ophiuchus Labyrinth.

Where the Star Children seal it away forever, telling Itsuki that it’s their duty and thanking him for giving birth to them…

Shang is shown in the castle thanking Itsuki, along with the Star Maidens. Mahiru talks to Itsuki on the balcony that night because he’s clearly conflicted about whether or not to return home. Mahiru actually says that she intends to go back home, though. She says that it’s where she belongs and that she also wants to see her mom and dad.

Fuck it, you all know what this leads to.

And so all the Star Maidens disappear from Granvania without a trace or single word of goodbye to their friends and family. The decision to go with Itsuki is made on the fly in this version, not planned out in advance. Ruka just says she can't bring herself to say goodbye and runs to the gate, then everyone else follows her lead.

Yes, Alfie, Human Mana, and all the Star Children just inexplicably fall from the fucking sky when everyone jumps into the Gate of Light. No explanation is given. Alfie and the Star Children just say they were revived somehow and Mana says that she was showered with everyone’s love and the woman inside her awakened.

Thank god there’s only like 50 seconds left to the episode. This will probably just end with everyone declaring that they’ll be together and some ham-fisted title drop by—

…Okay, I guess the Star Children are going to school now. Also, Mahiru invited everyone to her house. Good luck explaining this to Mahiru’s parents. Their fucking nephew and daughter returned after disappearing for who knows how long and the nephew comes back with 13 women and 13 children.

Shit, forget Mahiru’s parents, how are they going to explain this to the government? How are any of them going to make a living without residency cards? They literally popped into this world’s existence!

…Well, I guess they somehow do it. Either that, or Reone is a back-alley unlicensed doctor now.

That child has a sword stuck through her head. Is nobody in modern day Japan going to question that?

And I guess Alfie and Mana just become housewives, which I suppose is on point for Alfie.

Anyway, it’s all over now. Thank god. The game itself was only mildly frustrating, but this anime really drained me. I don’t think—

No! Fuck you! We’re done! Harem endings are stupid! How in the name of Christ is this going to fly with anyone?! This fucking teenager is marrying 14 women (technically 15 if you count Lillith/Lillie as two)! At least 3 of those are underage!

But you want to know what really drives me up the fucking wall? You want to know what the cherry on this shit sundae is for me?

How dare you drag Wake into this you fucking shitbags! I like Wake! Don’t include him in this bullshit! Fuuko is… well, I don’t dislike Fuuko… she wasn’t my first choice… or second… or third… but at least she wasn’t Serina!

We’re done here. LP over. All of you go home and do your best to forget this happened. PK out.