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Literature / Beyond the Impossible

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"There is a planet called Earth where people believe their lives matter. The universe disagrees. What if you could go beyond the impossible and prove the universe wrong?"

Beyond The Impossible is a web original by Fabio Furlanetto following the adventures of Noriko Null, a teen genius using her wealth to fight the Greek gods (in space) with her superhero team. Basically, Shonen meets the MCU meets Stargate.

Noriko is an eighteen year old New Yorker, daughter of American high school janitor Bob Null. After she discovers her mother is Japanese evil billionaire Leiko Tanaka, she’s offered by the Greek goddess Athena the chance to be Earth’s protector.

Noriko receives superhuman intelligence, the ability to access any information from the collective knowledge of mankind, and silver eyes. Noriko doesn’t waste much time to become obscenely rich from her inventions and found her superhero team, the Vanguard:

Things are made complicated by the fact that the universe is littered by artifacts of Doom built by a mysterious race called the Drylon, who disappeared five billion years ago after losing a war against the universe itself. Also not only the Greek gods are real, they’re the bad guys and they’ve enslaved the entire galaxy (which is populated by transplanted humans). Since Noriko will earn the title of Slayer of Gods, it goes without saying that they’re not particularly fond of her. The Olympian Galaxy is nominally ruled by Zeus, but it’s governed by several gods divided into feudal “god-states”:

  • Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and The Chessmaster. Despite giving Noriko her powers, since her Athenian Federation is on the other side of the galaxy, she doesn’t help often.
  • Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest and ax-craxy queen, very different from her mythological counterpart. The first Big Bad of the series during the “Myridian saga” storyline, ruling over Kari’s home planet. Her backstabbing lieutenant Talas Khanos sticks around as a recurring villain.
  • Hephaestus, God of Technology and Evil Overlord of an empire of indestructible robots called the Talos. Married to Aphrodite, he lives on the surface of a neutron star with his robot mistress Galatea. The second Big Bad over multiple storylines.
  • Hermes, God of Tricksters, Travelers, Thieves and Magnificent Bastards. Allied with everyone at one point or another, with a strange love/hate relationship with Noriko (he loves to tease her, she hates him period)
  • Persephone, the Motherfu##ing Queen of the Underworld (her words). Demeter’s rebellious daughter, she rules another galaxy with her husband Hades but also keeps territory in the Olympian Galaxy just to irritate her family. By far the goddess that changes the most from mythology.
  • Artemis, Goddess of the Hunt and twin sister to Apollo. Rules over a mostly lawless sector crawling with Space Pirates.
  • Apollo, God of the Sun and twin brother to Artemis. He’s been referred as being “one of the galaxy’s superpowers” like Ares and Athena.
  • Ares, God of War and The Dreaded, referred as being “one of the galaxy’s superpowers” like Apollo and Athena. He’s somehow responsible for the exile of Vesta.
  • Aphrodite, Goddess of Love. The only place we see in her sector is a brothel that spans an entire planet
  • Dionysus, God of Wine. His sector is described as “the ultimate free state”, since he handed everything to the Guild.

This series contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Kari. Even without her duplicating power, she’s the only one who was able to fight Abyss one-on-one
  • Aliens Speaking English: Semi-averted: people from other planets do speak in English, but with the Greek alphabet to distinguish them (it’s treated like a different language though). Demon talk is spelled with Arabic font but it’s unintelligible.
  • All According to Plan: Leiko and Athena really, really like to say this.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Null Tower is taken over at least once. On a more literal note, after Eris takes over NORAD she sends a message reading “I’m in your base, killing your dudes”
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Noriko: her father is a ladies man who works as a high school janitor and her mother is secretly a supervillain.
  • Anti-Climax Boss: Happens so often that it’s lampshaded at least once:
    Blue Star: What, that’s it!? You guys were talking about her like she was going to start World War Three, and it took you five minutes to come up with a plan to stop her!?
    Torn: We’re the Vanguard. It’s what we do.
  • Anything That Moves: Zeus to a ridiculous extent: he had sex with so many alien Harpies (which are blue alien humanoid birds) that their descendants form an entire species.
  • Arch-Enemy: Leiko for Noriko. Eris has been this for Vesta for thousands of years.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: “Have you tried being pregnant?” Makes sense in context
  • Artifact of Doom: Pretty much anything built by the Drylon
  • Strong as They Need to Be: Vesta’s strength and invulnerability are somewhat inconsistent
  • Ax-Crazy: Almost all gods turn into this once they’re pushed too far, with Persephone and Hephaestus taking the smallest effort. Also Abyss takes this up to eleven.
  • Baby Factory: Demeter set up “breeding camps” on Myridia to supply her army with new soldiers
  • Bad Boss: All the bad guys
  • Badass Boast: Noriko loves those:

    Noriko: A word of advice. Between them, the people you’re facing can summon an army of ten thousand fighters, cut through matter with a thought, shoot laser beams at the speed of light and unleash destruction faster and more devastatingly than you can imagine. We are the Vanguard. We killed a goddess once. You do not want to pick up a fight with us.

    Persephone has a more villainous (and foul-mouthed) version

    Pershepone: Look, s#itcan, there’s three kinds of gods in this galaxy. The ones who mind their own s#it, the ones that just want to show everyone they’ve got the biggest d##k, and the ones who skullf##k planets for fun. Guess which one I am?

  • Badass Bookworm: Noriko. All the world’s knowledge does include several martial arts after all.
  • Badass Normal: Black Knight, Leiko’s right-hand man. He took down one of the Guild’s cyborg assassins with a sword.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Hermes likes to call Noriko “sunshine” simply because she hates it.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Vesta and the other gods, at least.
  • Batman Gambit: Repeatedly used by Athena.
  • Berserk Button: Never compare Noriko to her mother.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Vesta is probably the nicest character in the series. Make her angry and she will remind you she’s the daughter of a god who ate other gods.
  • Big Bad: Both Demeter and Hephaestus, at different points.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Greek gods, as always.
  • Big Sister Bully: Demeter to Vesta, although it’s not easy to tell who is older.
  • Blasphemous Boast: To be expected when the main character is fighting gods with science. Noriko delivers a particularly badass one when fighting Hephaestus.

    Noriko: Even a god can’t punch his way out of science, genius.

  • Blatant Lies: Nothing Hermes says can be taken for granted.

    -You’re lying – she accuses, hoping to provoke a reaction. It works: Hermes laughs genuinely.
    -But of course I am! I’m the god of liars and thieves. The question is, what am I lying about?

  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Torn is really bad with English idioms.
  • Body Surf: Eris and later Noriko.
  • Book Dumb: Quantum, to the point people are surprised to find out he knows more than just comic books:
    -I though tachyons were only theoretical – Quantum answers, leading to everyone staring at him like this is the strangest thing they’ve ever heard.
    -What? I read – he shrugs..

  • Broken Ace: Noriko is the world’s smartest, richest and most powerful person. She presents herself as a larger-than-life figure, but she’s a mentally unbalanced girl with lots of Parental Issues.
  • Butt-Monkey: Hekate. Despite being introduced as a major threat, she’s treated like a joke by other gods.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Torn. He’s stated that he doesn’t need this, but it helps his concentration. Quantum does it from time to time.
  • Catchphrase: “I am Null” and “I’m working on it”, although Noriko started to use them less after Quantum pointed out she says it all the time. The Winter King’s “Honor dictates” is shaping up to this.
  • Celibate Eccentric Genius: Noriko effectively becomes this right away, although her friends and even her father keep pushing her out of it.
  • The Chessmaster: Too many to count, but Athena and Hermes stand out as the most manipulative.
  • Child Prodigy: Leiko, as a result to being exposed to the Core at a young age.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Talas Khanos has betrayed every single ally at one time or another.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: After living on Earth for a full year, Torn hasn’t picked up the meaning of the most basic things (he didn’t know what Earth or North were) just because he wasn’t paying much attention. Bob Null qualifies as well: he thinks the best place to keep the Heart of the Universe is in the fridge:

    -You put the most valuable device in the world in the fridge – Noriko repeats skeptically.
    -I’m afraid to ask why.
    -Nobody would search there. Unless it was a hungry thief or something.
    -I knew I had reason to be afraid.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Although it’s censored, every single line from Persephone counts.
  • Comic-Book Time: Some of the time. The first 9 issues cover a single night; most storylines cover a few weeks at most, but with the many time skips the timeline is about a year behind the real-time two and a half years since the series started.
  • Crapsack World: Myridia before the uprising. Born with the power to duplicate yourself? Neat! But your career choices are mostly limited to cannon fodder and sex slave, your government is ruled by religious fanatics that can kill you with their mind, and technological development is forbidden beyond a certain point.
  • Crimefighting with Cash: The Vanguard is entirely funded by Noriko’s fortune.
  • Crossover Cosmology: partially. In addition to the Greek gods, Egyptian and Sumerian pantheons are confirmed to be real, but according to Vesta the Norse Gods don’t exist. Ulysses mentions a theory about the Drylon creating gods as slaves, which would make it a case of One Myth to Explain Them All.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Athena versus Hekate, Hephaestus versus Artemis and Artemis versus the entire Chinese army and the navies from a dozen countries.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The Lampyrians. Blue skin, no nose and large bat-like wings. They are exclusively female, live only for two years and are universally considered incredibly attractive.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu??: Noriko’s fights with Demeter and Hephaestus have this effect on the galaxy.
  • Did You Just Scam Cthulhu??: All the time.

    -You want to trick Hermes? He’s the GOD of tricksters!!!
    Noriko smiles. It’s the smile of someone who has just figured out how to beat impossible odds.
    -Do you have any idea of many millions of lawyers there are on Earth? They are all here – she says, tapping a finger on her head.

  • Does Not Like Shoes: Vesta always goes barefoot. It’s even the first thing we learn about her when she’s introduced:

    Vesta is a very strange waitress: she never wears shoes. She’s also immortal.

  • The Dragon: The Core and Black Knight for Leiko. Elytra becomes this to Hephaestus, as well as Excess and Overkill for Abyss.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first few issues have a very different pacing from the rest of the series.
  • Encyclopaedic Knowledge: Part of Noriko’s power. In addition to being superhumanly smart, every single information known to mankind has been uploaded into her brain. And every new information is upgraded about once a month, provided she’s on the planet.
  • Enemy Mine: The Vanguard has to team up with gods on occasion
  • Even The Girls Want Her: Both Kari and Artemis have a crush on Noriko despite her insisting she’s not interested.
  • Every Device Is a Swiss-Army Knife: A standard feature for most of Noriko’s inventions. The Null Phone is a repeated offender.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Everyone on Myridia, at least.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Noriko when she becomes Abyss.
  • Evil Counterpart: Abyss is this to Noriko. To a lesser extent, the Scribe and the Guild to the Vanguard.
  • Evil Genius: Noriko is worried she might become this. The Scribe is hinted to being one, and Abyss is definitely there.
  • Evil Overlord: Most gods have shades of this, but Hephaestus especially.
  • Exposed to the Elements: Vesta doesn’t need to dress up for the weather, even when going to Neptune. She even mentioned sunbathing on the Moon in the past.
  • Fanservice: Probably the reason Noriko ends up naked with alarming frequency.
    Noriko: This planet’s habit to undress me while I’m unconscious is really annoying.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: The gods can’t travel faster than light, so they really need those starships. Except Hermes, who can teleport wherever he wants and is even called “the god who makes travel distances meaningless”.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Hermes. Despite appearances, he’s as bad as his siblings.
  • Fish out of Water: Both Kari and Torn are this when they move to Earth, with the former having a much easier time adjusting (and the latter not caring in the slightest).
  • Gambit Pileup: Comes with the territory with multiple gods pulling the strings for very, very complicated plans. Hermes is particularly fond of this:

    Hermes: Alright, there’s a war shaping up and I’m already working with at least three sides, I might as well make thingsinteresting and add a fourth one.

  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Noriko disagrees: she really didn’t like Artemis kissing her without consent.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Noriko’s silver eyes shine when she’s using her super-intelligence, especially in the early issues. They become especially bright whenever she’s angry. If they turn completely black, run.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Vesta and Demeter. It’s literally the title of the issue where they fight!
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Demeter is a goddess and a very, very bad Queen.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: It takes Quantum a while to understand he can turn into energy.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Demons. On the outside they look like humans with red skin. They have three hearts, six lungs, they don’t have a navel and males don’t have nipples.
  • Humorless Aliens: Torn has a really hard time understanding Earth jokes.
  • Improbably High I.Q.: Played straight and averted. Noriko’s IQ is estimated as 265 early on, but she dismisses it as unreliable. Before the start of the series she had an IQ of 101 (literally just a smudge over perfectly average)

    -So what’s your real IQ, genius?
    -Unlikely to be measured in a meaningful way.

  • Innocent Fanservice Girl: Kari doesn’t really mind being seen in the nude.
  • Insistent Terminology: Don’t call Noriko “the smartest girl in the world”, she’s the smartest person (“girl” suggests that there’s a smarter woman or a smarter man. There isn’t). Also Torn wears a duster, not a trenchcoat. And the device used by the Mortal Liberation Front isn’t called Stargate.
  • Instant Expert: Noriko is by default as knowledgeable as the world’s leading authority on any given subject.
  • Insufferable Genius: Noriko has her moments, but the Core is the absolute master of this.

    Noriko: I know how to annihilate galaxies and bend the laws of reality, but I’m sure teaching you how to get back into a decaying sack of wet chemicals is just as important.

  • Jerkass Gods: The entire Greek pantheon, even the ones that weren’t like this in classical mythology. Vesta seems to be the only exception so far.
  • Jumped at the Call: Being a comic book fan, it didn’t take much time for Quantum to decide becoming a super-hero after receiving his powers.
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: Very common on Myridia. A few gods as well.
  • Killed Off for Real: Even the dead gods have stayed dead so far
  • Large Ham: Hephaestus is not exactly the most subtle god.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Most of the cast, strangely enough. Noriko is very rarely seen without a green leather jacket, jeans and a T-shirt with her symbol, even buying 365 of them; any scene with her wearing something else contains dialogue with her complaining about it. Torn always wears his brown duster and Vesta an orange tube top with orange pants. It’s even implied that both characters don’t own any other clothes.
  • Logic Bomb: An impossibly complex mathematical formula that shuts down any robot that reads it.
  • Lost Superweapon: The Dragon Tomb, a Drylon weapon supposed to be powerful enough to destroy a primordial god or a galaxy. The Heart of the Universe is hinted at being one.
  • Made of Iron: Torn is not explicitly said to have enhanced durability but he has survived things that would kill a human.
  • Mind Rape: The God Eraser does this to Gods.
  • Most Common Super Power: All goddesses are apparently very well endowed.
  • Motive Decay: Leiko’s plans for Noriko seem to change over time without much explanation. Possibly explained by the Core’s influence making her mentally unbalanced.
  • Mr. Fanservice: how Kari sees Noriko’s father.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Kari is much stronger than she looks, although apparently not to superhuman levels.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Nearly everything involving Abyss.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The gods and anything made of Neutral Matter, to the point of being able to survive on the surface of a neutron star.
  • No-Sell: Virtually every fight involving a god.
  • Noodle Incident: there have been many Trojan Wars and the Odyssey was apparently really about adventures in space. Don’t expect much more details anytime soon. Also Vesta has apparently fought Eris for centuries, the last time they met being at Tunguska.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Kari slips into this from time to time.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Noriko’s areas of expertise include robotics, artificial intelligence, mathematics, quantum physics, engineering, medicine, genetics, finance….
  • Omniglot: All gods have this as a natural ability, to the point that not only they can understand and talk any language, but people who stick around them for long will understand as well. The only exception is Demon speech, which they can’t understand at all.
  • One Girl Industrial Revolution: To the extent Null Technologies might as well be the only tech company in the world.
  • One-Man Army: Kari and every Myridian, thanks to their power.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: If Noriko calls her father “dad”, stutters or generally acts like a normal person, something is seriously wrong.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Bob Null. Having his daughter become a super-genius and assembly a superhero team doesn’t change their relationship much. He also reminds Noriko several times that he’d be okay with her being a lesbian (despite her insisting that he doesn’t need to say it since she’s straight).
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Compared to the rest of the Vanguard, Kari and Torn are often left out of the really big fights, especially if they involve other gods.
  • Painting the Medium: Different color text is used for characters who aren’t talking with a human voice.
  • Pardon My Klingon: Kari sometimes swears in her language (which is just English with the Greek alphabet).
  • Parental Neglect: Leiko completely ignored Noriko for 18 years.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Quantum. Usually downplayed, but his powers can be extremely destructive. Taken for granted for all gods: Demeter threw a mountain at Vesta and Persephone can destroy an area the size of Australia without breaking a sweat.
  • Physical God: It is possible to physically hurt them, but they can’t be killed by conventional means.
  • Planet of Hats: Everyone on Myridia is born with the power to create thousands of duplicates of themselves.
  • Power Incontinence: Hephaestus is described as “like a flamethrower you can’t shut off”.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Kari has confirmed that the first thing Myridians do once they learn to control their power is have sex with their own duplicate.
  • Precursors: The Drylon. They disappeared five billion years ago but they left behind technology so powerful that the gods will do anything to put their hands on it.

    Five billion years ago, the Drylon disappeared. The legend goes that the Drylon waged war against the universe and lost. They lost so bad that hardly anybody remembers them.

  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Torn acts like one, although he doesn’t say much about his planet (or anything else).
  • The Quiet One: Torn. Several characters have described conversations with him as “almost talking”.

    -And this time I’m not going to let you get away with your standard one-word answer.
    -Yes, re... you’re doing that on purpose, aren’t you?
    * "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Leiko’s “You are nothing and you will always be nothing” speech to Noriko in issue 2 affected her so much it’s still referenced over a hundred issues later.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted to Hell and back. Noriko’s “plasma reactors” are replacing nuclear power, holographic technology is commonplace, she pretty much single-handedly fixed the world economy, and of course she cured AIDS and is planning a city on the Moon.
  • Remembered I Could Fly: When Quantum asks Vesta why she didn’t defeat the Talos robot by throwing it into the sun, she answers that she just didn’t think about it (we later learn that their base of operation is on a neutron star, so it might not have worked anyway).
  • Renaissance Man: Everyone from Myridia: with ten thousand duplicates for each person, there’s no reason to limit the number of experiences. On a different scale, Noriko can be one whenever it’s needed.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: all over the place. Handwaved with the real gods being hundreds of thousands of years older than all civilizations, with Classical Mythology being only indirectly based on them. Some are relatively close (Vesta, mostly because there are barely any myths about her), some are wildly different (Persephone has almost nothing to do with the myths other than her parents and her husband).
  • Science Cannot Comprehend Phlebotinum: Massively averted with Neutral Matter.
  • Science Fantasy: Science fiction and superheroes versus the Greek gods.
  • Secret Identity: Quantum plays it completely straight but he’s pretty bad at it (every major character either knows who he is or just doesn’t care). To a lesser extent also done by Blue Star, by Kari and occasionally even by Vesta.
  • Self-Duplication: Kari’s power. Her duplicates are completely independent, but disintegrate if they’re hit too hard or if her original body is killed.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Noriko, on occasion.
  • Shorter Means Smarter: At five feet tall Noriko is the shortest person in the cast. And she’s the smartest person in the world.
  • Sigil Spam: Null’s symbol is everywhere, from her T-shirt to her skyscraper.
  • Smart People Build Robots: The Nullbots for Noriko and the Talos for Hephaestus.
  • Spanner in the Works: Noriko killing Demeter is either this or All According to Plan.
  • The Smart One: Noriko. Among gods, Hephaestus and Athena.
  • The Sociopath: Leiko makes a few gods look like normal people.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: Torn’s power: he can create energy constructs by thinking about them. Usually swords or other blades, it’s unknown if he can create anything else. On a different scale, Artemis does the same with her bow and arrows.
  • Squishy Wizard: Noriko ending up in a hospital would be the running gag of the series if it was played for laughs.
  • The Starscream: Talas Khanos becomes this every time he works with a god. Both Hephaestus and Hermes employed him specifically for this reason though it didn’t work out for either of them.
  • Steven Ulysses Perhero: A character called Erika Rhys shows up in a series where the Greek gods are the bad guys. Take your guess who she is.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Drylon. Possibly the gods themselves if Noriko is right.
  • Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: While the god’s powers are not explicitly magic, the God Eraser can affect them.
  • Super Power Lottery: Vesta. Immorality, invulnerability, super-strength, flight and pyrokinesis.
  • Super-Speed Reading: Noriko doesn’t do this often, since with her power she doesn’t even need to read to know the latest books, but played straight whenever she’s on Myridia.
  • Super Weight: The Vanguard runs most of the scale:
    • Level 1: Noriko.
    • Level 2: Kari.
    • Level 3: Torn.
    • Level 4: Quantum and Vesta, with her hinted to be able to reach much higher.
    • Level 5: most gods, with a few hinted at being a low 6.
    • Level 7: The Drylon are suggested having been this.
  • The Team Normal: Noriko, the only one in the Vanguard with no physical power.
  • Teen Genius: Again, Noriko. Somewhat downplayed by the fact that she immediately drops out of school and leaves all her “normal” friends behind.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Bob and Leiko are in her thirties, since Noriko was born when they were in high school.
  • The Trickster: Hermes, of course.
  • There Is No Kill like Overkill: The only way to prevent the Many from healing themselves.
  • Time Abyss: Anything involving the Drylon: since they’ve disappeared five billion years ago, everything they’ve built is at least older than Earth including the Nexus inside Noriko’s head. The gods are also incredibly long-lived: Vesta is a million years old, Hekate is a hundred times older, and Gaea was around at the formation of Earth.
  • Token Minority: Played straight and averted: Quantum is the only black character in the team, but there are no white males (the rest of the team is three girls and one alien). In fact, there isn’t a single white male superhuman on Earth yet.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: With Noriko as the tomboy and Kari as the girly girl; Vesta to a lesser extent. Although Noriko proves She Cleans Up Nicely for the prom.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Vesta, Demeter and Persephone if compared to classical mythology.
  • Transplanted Humans: There are 7,000 planets in the Galaxy populated by descendants of humans enslaved by the gods.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Hermes continuously brings this up with Noriko; while she does find him physically attractive, she really hates him.

    Hermes: Why, I’m just trying to relieve the sexual tension between us!
    Noriko: What sexual tension? I despise you.
    Hermes: Then it can't get any worse, sunshine.

  • Villain Takes an Interest: Hermes and Artemis enjoy messing up with Noriko a little too much…
  • Villain Team-Up: More than once. With Leiko and Khanos as repeated offenders.
  • Walking Spoiler: Abyss. Everything about her, except that she’s evil, is a spoiler.
  • We Are as Mayflies: Humans compared to gods and demons, and Lampyrians (who live only two years) compared to humans.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: What inevitably happens to anyone using Drylon technology for long.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Noriko’s reason for keeping gods and aliens a secret from the general public.
  • You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Angry!: Don’t make Noriko mad. Seriously, don’t.