Version 5.2-ish ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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24 August 2014: I like Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun because Chiyo is remarkably orange

Chiyo
Tiny pictures are the way of love.

I got a late start on Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, but was convinced to give it a try after being alerted that it invoked the the Ayako Doctrine. Not that you need to be an Ayako fan in order to enjoy Nozaki-kun. The show is quite clever and funny. Really, the only reason why I wasn't already watching it was because I ran out of space in my schedule while I was following dreadful wrecks such as Rail Wars! Besides, I sort of already had a general idea of what Nozaki-kun might be like simply by the way it looks. (Hint: Chiyo's enormous polka dotted head ribbons never stop being amusing.) Specifically, I trusted that it was the show's execution more than its setup that would make or break the series for me. I was willing to wait to hear how other people responded to the initial episodes first.

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20 August 2014: I'm basically only watching Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Bullshit out of general principle

Sailor V
Sailor V is here to chase ikemen and kick crooks in the neck.
And she's all out of ikemen.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon is one of those franchises that I sort of want to like but can't genuinely enjoy most of the time. This is reflected in my halfhearted efforts to watch the original series (stalled at episode 93 for years). I'm also mostly unimpressed with the original manga, with the exception of Codename Sailor V. I'm totally down with Sailor V, mostly because (as I am wont to attest on The Twitter), she's sort of fascist. I also find Aino Minako (at least in her garish Sailor V form) a more engaging protagonist than Tsukino Usagi. Sailor Venus isn't as good, but is still okay providing she's kicking crooks in the neck instead of thrashing dudes with her "Love Me" chain (which, incidentally, has been redesigned to look like a long string of, um, round beads, at least in the Crystal Marital Aids promo art). Also, Artemis > Luna.

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16 August 2014: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei isn't as good as Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya E1n

Illya
The faces do seem slightly less knobby this season, though.

The first season of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya was unexpectedly good. The TYPE-MOON universe is so filled with overwrought narratives it's no surprise viewers who are fans (but, importantly, not fanatics) of TYPE-MOON enjoy its parodies so much. (See, for example, the brilliant Carnival Phantasm.) The first season of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya hits its marks almost perfectly. It had clever juxtapositions of familiar elements, funny inversions of standard mahou shoujo stereotypes, and outstanding fight scenes.

Kuro
Hey, a bow.

Unfortunately, Prisma☆Illya stumbles in its second season, perhaps because it has become too familiar. Rather than simply being a Fate/stay night parody, the Prismaverse now has its own emerging myths and canon. It hasn't outright bogged itself down with its own "overwrought narratives," but it is neglecting much of what made the first season so good. This may be a roundabout way of saying that the second season is slow, but I'm not sure pacing is really the issue. I think the actual problem is I don't care about Kuro as an antagonist. She's also not likeable enough to sympathize with as an inevitable "frenemy" character, either. Many viewers also complain about the fan service. Although I generally won't criticize a show for its fan service, no matter how aggressive it is, there is a desperate quality to the fan service this season, to the show's detriment. On the plus side, episode six demonstrates that Silver Link can still do cool shit with the fight scenes, so there is that.


12 August 2014: Sabagebu! has more in common with Upotte!! than Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C³

Kayo
Traitorous otaku.

It's natural to compare Sabagebu! with Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Kōtō-ka C³ because both shows are ostensibly about airsoft survival games, but they're really quite different. Sabagebu! basically makes no effort to adhere to any sense of realism. (Well, some of the firearms handling is surprisingly adept—way better than most anime.1) The airsoft component in Sabagebu! is merely an excuse for peculiar gun antics in an otherwise shoujo (well, sort of shoujo) comedy. C3-bu, on the other hand, was perhaps a bit too realistic. It accurately reflected some of the real concerns and faults encountered within the airsoft community.2 Sabagebu! doesn't care about any of that. Sabagebu! is just an excuse for teenage girls to shoot their frenemies in the face as blood splatters freely. As free as a burning brassiere. (There's more blood in each episode of Sabagebu! than in two cours of Noir.)

Urara and Momoka
An important consideration when purchasing furniture is ensuring it is bulletproof.

With its "imaginary" firefights, Sabagebu! is more like Upotte!! because it depicts reckless gunplay and sharp acts of violence without repercussions. (The Sabagebu! girls get back up and resume bitching each other out after dying.) Really, shooting each other in the face is hardly the worst thing the Sabagebu! characters do to each other. Although the Sabagebu! anime deviates from the manga, it remains true to the spirit of shoujo in the sense that there is real cruelty in these friendships and rivalries. Considering that teasing other girls into developing eating disorders is an accepted way to reshuffle a girl's social pecking order, the inconvenience of waiting to re-spawn after taking a bullet to the noggin is fairly insignificant.


Note 1: In re Sword Art Online II: We'll see if the Sword Art Online II anime fixes the mistakes made by the original light novels regarding the Colt 1911 grip safety.

Note 2: In re C3-bu: For example, characters in C3-bu observed real world meatspace codes of conduct and standards of fairness that rang true with veteran airsoft players. Likewise, the story arc involving Yura's growing competitive streak crowding out her ability to simply enjoy herself was portrayed accurately enough to take a lot of the fun out of the episodes themselves for viewers with distasteful memories of the same.


9 August 2014: I dropped both Rail Wars! and Zankyou no Terror

Noah
You stole this idol pose from Spider-Man, Noah.

Rail Wars! is insipid. The only reason I lasted five episodes is because of its voice cast. Wasting an assemblage that includes Horie Yui, Numakura Manami, Chihara Minori, and Nakahara Mai in a production this weak is a travesty. Rail Wars! is not just a poor effort, it is offensively bad. Rail Wars! wasn't satisfied contriving unlikely scenarios for Potato-kun to accidentally brush up against SHOCKING BREASTS while stumbling through loosely train-based ordeals of little imagination and worse execution, it also had to be incredibly lazy at it. Rail Wars! straight up insults its viewers, even ones normally on board with low-brow harem comedies that devote considerable time providing licentious pandering. I'm tempted to believe the Rail Wars! production is a false flag operation created by a shadowy consortium in the anime industry that is conspiring to stamp out both harem comedies and fan service as well as the nascent nationalistic anime movement with a one-two punch simply by being completely awful at everything. I can't explain how else anyone could have fucked up an anime about TRAINS and gun-toting girls in tight-fitting uniforms this bad.

Lisa
If Lisa wasn't forced to wear a seifuku she'd wear all black clothes.

I dropped Zankyou no Terror (Terror in Resonance) because I had no interest in its three lead characters. I'm sort of disenchanted with 9, 12, and Lisa for the same reasons I disliked Mikado, Anri, and that other chucklehead in Durarara!!. In a way, Zankyou no Terror is just as guilty as Sword Art Online II in being, ahem, CHUUNI1 AS FUCK. Kids are a pain in the neck, and I have no interest in seeing 9 and 12 triumph over a corrupt and indolent adult society. I don't give a shit about Lisa either. And I'm tired of seeing that one fucker make his stupid :3 cat mouth all the time.


Note 1: As it became an anime buzzword, chuunibyou evolved to suggest a farcical devotion to imaginary mystical powers and past lives. (See, for example, Kyoto Animation's Moe Blob atrocity, the flashbacks in Oreshura, and whateverthefuckelse.) However, when I scornfully reference chuuni kids, I'm referring to sophomoric bombasts who fantasize about an unstoppable proficiency and mastery of the real world via theoretically reachable means. (See, for example, the crazy deductive powers in Death Note, unbeatable video game skills in Sword Art Online, serendipitous crowdsourcing in Durarara!!, and all the nonsense 9 and 12 do in Zankyou no Terror.)


5 August 2014: Aldnoah.Zero is the best show of summer 2014 so far

Inaho
Reading, writing, arithmetic, and robots.

The name Urobuchi Gen makes some anime fans uneasy because he's perceived as an author who occasionally embraces a certain unpredicable malice towards his own characters. However, Aldnoah.Zero couples this pervasive unease with excellent execution to give us one of the more satisfying starts you could hope for in an anime.

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2 August 2014: Sword Art Online II isn't called Gun Art Online, you know

Kirito and Asuna
Only married one year and your wife is already an anime popsicle.

Assuming you watched the first season of Sword Art Online (not exactly required) or were already passably familiar with the show and its criticisms before watching Sword Art Online 2, then it shouldn't surprise you at all that Kirito is sugoi-awesome at everything he does. Again. Based on some initial reactions to the first three episodes, it appears some people are, in fact, at least a little irritated by this. But is there any grounds for criticism? They had to expect this after getting two cours of it already. If it's a real problem, why watch the show at all?

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25 July 2014: Barakamon taught me pacing is important even in a show about calligraphy

Seishuu and Tamako
Does this count as a Meet Cute?

Technically, Barakamon is not a show about calligraphy, but rather a show about a calligrapher. It's pretty refreshing because it's one of those increasingly rare anime that's about (1) an adult who is (2) good at something because (3) he works hard at it rather than by virtue of being Anime Jesus. In fact, one of the characters in the show postulates that having the discipline to work hard is a talent itself.

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