Version 5.2-ish ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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19 January 2015: Slaine is still a fuck up

Slaine
You may want to upgrade to a better side arm.

By now, if you've had any interest in the second cour of Aldnoah.Zero, you likely already know a number of spoilers that could be quite disconcerting in their own right, merely from a narrative perspective. Pretending it's possible to talk around some of the specifics to preserve some modicum of spoiler avoidance, I'm going to address one of my concerns while ignoring the bigger problem(s) entirely.

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13 January 2015: Qualified praise for Akatsuki no Yona

Hak and Yona
There's also a lot of this sort of thing.

Akatsuki no Yona is really good for sufficiently broad definitions of good. This is a backhanded compliment, but I do admit it's not for everyone. Now in its second cour, this anime adaptation remains true to the original shoujo fantasy manga. Fans of the manga will likely enjoy the anime a great deal, but neither the tonal shifts nor the reverse-harem cast will likely appeal to anime fans who may have expected a more typical princess-in-distress series of canned adventures. Viewers don't need to be primed for squealing, KYAA! BISHIES! in order to enjoy the show, but they'll be better off if they at least aren't put off when more and more spikey-haired boys with large hands keep joining the cast.

Yona
Back away from the princess and nobody gets hurt.

That cast does keep getting bigger, though. An entire cour has passed and Akatsuki no Yona still hasn't finished introducing characters. I hope the anime isn't set to conclude with this second cour, because it's just getting started in relation to the manga. It really is a good adaptation, though. Saito Chiwa is perfect as Yona, and the anime communicates all the emerging fire-hair staredowns perfectly. That's the real reason to watch Akatsuki no Yona. Yona's transformation from a spoiled helpless fugitive princess to a leader of warriors is quite satisfying. I just hope the anime runs long enough to cover it all.


7 January 2015: People die when there are ga KILLED! P.S. Spoilers

Esdeath
It's a pity she won't live. Then again, who does?

I should probably write more about Akame ga KILL!, seeing as how it finished in the number two spot among the shows I watched during autumn 2014. However, I don't especially have a lot to say about it aside from acknowledging that I enjoyed it a great deal. That's significant in and of itself because I don't typically enjoy shounen fighting anime, but I like how Akame ga KILL! did it, even though it rushed the ending a bit after diverging from the manga.

Mine
It's a pity she won't live. Then again, who does?

The divergence was necessary because the manga hasn't ended yet. Without at least another cour, the anime would have had to trail off if it didn't pursue a different track. This also gave the anime an excuse to be less harsh than the manga, which has (for example) a lot more rape and lots more bad things happening to good people. Nevertheless, the anime still has a substantial body count, as a reasonable viewer should probably expect after becoming familiar with the general tenor of the title. Pretty much nobody is safe except for Akame. Her name is in the title, after all.


30 December 2014: Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works is still good even though it's no Carnival Phantasm

Rin
Nice couch.

The first cour of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is quite good despite all the problems in its source material. This is a testament to ufotable's deft execution, because that source material is sufficiently flawed that it could easily turn into a train wreck in less capable hands. The mythology behind the Holy Grail War is so preposterous that it seems more appropriate for any Fate/stay night adaptation to play it safe and simply be a straight-up farce like Carnival Phantasm. It's a credit to ufotable that I don't spend every moment of every episode asking perfectly reasonable questions such as, "Why hasn't Berserker killed them yet? Why isn't he killing them now?"

Shirou and Saber
Saber could use some coaching.

The first cour of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works legitimately is good, though. The action sequences are exceptionally well done, the production values are great all around, and (most amazingly) Emiya Shirou does not come across as a shitheel. Unfortunately, this is a split-cour series, so we're going to have to wait until spring to find out what manner of CGI euphemism we'll get this time around. Who knows, maybe ufotable will actually animate the sex scene? J.C. Staff did that with Shingetsutan Tsukihime, the first anime adaptation of a TYPE-MOON game (Internet memes notwithstanding), even if it turned out that vampires don't have nipples.


23 December 2014: Two voices

Sento
It sort of bugs me there are no sights on that weapon.

I first noticed Kakuma Ai because of her Aldnoah.Zero supporting character. She voices Nina, the schoolgirl refugee who nearly collided a ship with a giant obstacle the instant they let her steer. There's not much to the character that really stands out, but her panicky cries as she nearly wrecks the boat were pretty amusing. But then I noticed she's also in Amagi Brilliant Park, voicing Sento who sounds completely different than Nina. Sento didn't do any panicky yammering in the episodes I watched, but I did like the way she said "brilllyant paahk." I'm not particularly familiar with the rest of her work, but given the contrast between Nina and Sento and their aforementioned highlights, I'm encouraged to pay more attention to her in the future.

Emi
Emi's piano? Also a weapon.

Hayami Saori, who voices Emi from Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso caught my attention for the same reason I really enjoy Ito Kanae: She speaks with a normal voice. I find artificially squeaky "anime" voices a bit tiresome at times, and perhaps moreso when that fake-sounding anime voice is one the seiyuu uses as her "real" voice. Hayami Saori, on the other hand, sounds like a genuine person to me, which contributes a great deal towards my positive impressions of her character. Emi, if you don't know, is pathologically passionate about piano in such a way that would be sort of grating if I hadn't fully bought into her character. Emi's success in this regard speaks volumes to Hayami Saori's contribution to the show. It turns out I've also liked her in a few of her previous works, so she's another seiyuu to keep an ear out for, as it were.


17 December 2014: It's all right, we can always get more Chaikas

Chaika and Chaika
Speak no evil.

I didn't finish writing my introduction to the second season of Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle before it finished airing. I haven't read the light novels, so I don't know if the anime ending diverged from the books. I don't believe the light novel series themselves end for a few more months, so there's a good possibility there are some differences, despite how much Japan loves spoilers. I guess there's also the possibility the anime and the books have never been anything alike, and I wouldn't even know. (The Scrapped Princess novels by the same author are significantly different from the anime adaptation.)

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9 December 2014: ufotable's Fate/stay night would be a lot better if it wasn't for Fate/stay night

Saber
Saber works better as a supporting character than as a lead.

I'm not entirely convinced Fate/stay night needed a remake. Whipping boy Studio DEEN's first adapted this TYPE-MOON game in 2006 with the Saber-centric "Fate" route, followed by a 2010 movie based on the Rin-tastic "Unlimited Blade Works" route. Logically, the Sakura-suffering "Heaven's Feel" route should be next, but it appears ufotable plans on adapting it (as a movie) after animating their own "Unlimited Blade Works" project, this time as a television series that sort of succeeds ufotable's 2011 Fate/Zero prequel.

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2 December 2014: "It's not easy being a genius" and other lies told in April

Kousei and Kaori
Ah! Ghost glasses!

Despite having no sympathy for its lead, a pathetic middle school boy with deep-seated emotional problems, I find Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) exceptional thus far. It's a two-cour adaptation of an award-winning manga that's already ended, so I'm optimistic the anime will have a real conclusion after a solid run instead of meandering aimlessly before trailing off like I might expect from some crappy harem comedy. (Read: A one-cour advertisement for some sorry light novel series.) Nevertheless, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso does teeter on the brink every episode, mostly because the lead character is an incredibly vulnerable boy and practically every other character in the show (men, women, boys, and girls) is obsessed with him. It technically is a harem comedy if you think about it, so letting a schmuck (albeit a talented one) drive the story turns the entire vehicle into a train wreck waiting to happen if A-1 Pictures should falter even a little bit.

Tsubaki
Williams Rotation.

In a way, this is appropriate for a show about musical prodigies. The episodes and the characters are excellent when they are on their games, but even a single minor mistake could cascade into catastrophe. Thankfully, A-1 Pictures has been spot-on so far, serving up beautiful visuals and captivating music during the performances. The supporting characters are also charismatic, even the childhood friend who unfortunately turns into a Childhood Friend. Even the erstwhile womanizing ladies' man who has displayed no actual evidence of such proclivities and appears to be hiding a sensitive side. Hell, I'm even interested in the mopey shell-shocked lead's wheelchair-bound Tiger Mom's specter, albeit to a much lesser extent than, say, the blond dervish (who is probably secretly dying despite her vivacious, constantly churning limbs), or the stiletto in a red dress. Especially the stiletto in a red dress.