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Dated 24 November 2010: Shinryaku! Ika Musume (squid girl) is the new Kannagi (wood girl)

Ika Musume
When they point the finger it means you're a rival.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume is surprisingly funny and charming. It's sort of this season's Kannagi in the sense that both shows are simple silly concepts playing way over their heads. I might even give Ika Musume the edge over Kannagi. The two shows don't really have that much in common, but I feel they strike some of the same chords. Perhaps Shinryaku! Ika Musume is a little simpler and maybe more pure with its comedy.

Ika Musume
I think the umbrella segment was my favorite so far.

I love how squid girl herself is a complete idiot when it comes to certain things, but a freakin' genius in unexpected spots, with hardly any middle ground between these two extremes. Through eight episodes, this is easily the best show of the season, even ahead of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. On the other hand, I'm a little dismayed Kawasumi Ayako's character basically doesn't talk.

Dated 31 December 2010: 2010 Girl of the Year

Aoba
Aoba is the Best Girl of 2010 even though
Adachi Mitsuru can only draw one face.

Congratulations to Tsukishima Aoba, 2010's Best Girl. This was a pretty easy choice despite a lot of strong contenders. More about Aoba herself and the rest of this year's nominations below.

Shimizu
Shimizu sees Goro again after a long absence.

Shimizu Kaoru from the sixth season of Major got an automatic nomination by virtue of being last year's winner. Unfortunately, Shimizu did not get many scenes during this epic baseball show's final season, and had many of her presumably more important moments from the manga relegated to the montage during the last episode. I suspect Major probably has enough material for a seventh season, but I don't think we'll get any more in anime form unless there are OVAs.

Conan and Ran
This usually means somebody's about to get fucked.

I've decided to add Mouri Ran to basically every Best Girl of the Year list from here on out on general principle because Ran is one of anime's All Time Babes. Detective Conan doesn't change much and appears capable of running indefinitely, and Ran is enough of a sweetheart that she could potentially win this contest any year, so consider her a baseline metric of sorts. Certainly anyone below the Mouri Ran Line has no hope of winning.

Sasha and Katja
Katja breaks Sasha's brain.

Only people who watched Seikon no Qwaser will fully understand why Katja gets a nomination. Too many people either did not watch the show at all or gave up on it far too early to fully appreciate just how ridiculous Qwaser managed to be. Katja's contributions are too numerous to list here, but I'll point to three key moments that cemented her nomination in 2010's Best Girl competition: (1) The scene where she connects her phone to her television. (2) The railgun powered by breast milk. (3) The scene where incorruptibly loyal Hana comes flying in out of left field.

Yamada
Yamada is basically Ranpha, the early years.

Yamada from B Gata H Kei barely makes the list for being outrageous (only medium outrageous in a year containing Seikon no Qwaser) and for being an excuse for Yukarin to say amazing things.

Nagato Yuki
Be glad this isn't a Key story, Yuki.

Nagato Yuki qualifies this year because of the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie. As I've said before, this is more her movie than Haruhi's. Now, in order to answer the obvious question that people who have seen the movie must be asking without venturing into spoiler territory before those who have not seen it, let me just say this: Based on how Kyon views Nagato in the beginning of the film, the middle, and the at the end, I think the impact she has on him (and hopefully the viewer) elevates her into the upper pantheon of this year's nominees.

Ika Musume
Squids love the long ball.

A late arrival, especially because I did not start watching Shinryaku! Ika Musume until it was already half over, Ika Musume herself easily gains a nomination as one of 2010's Best Girls. A genius at everything (except invading) and filled with verve and imagination, Ika Musume should be on everyone's list of this season's Best Girls. Well, I guess there is that technicality about whether or not squids can be girls, but I consulted the judges panel and they allowed it.

Aoba
Nobody on the team trains harder than Aoba.

Finally, our victor, Tsukishima Aoba from Cross Game wins the title of Best Girl of the Year for 2010 with her solid showing throughout the yearlong baseball anime. Aoba nearly won the title last year, and was an early favorite to win even though Cross Game ended in March.

Aoba
The best coaches are in the stands.
-Charles M. Schulz

It's easy to describe Aoba as another Haruka Tomatosauce tsundere, but I believe Aoba honestly hated Kou when they were children—jealous of the attention he got from her sister. However, Aoba grudgingly comes to respect Kou's physical talents for baseball and dedicates her considerable knowledge and love for the game into transforming him into the type of pitcher who can make her sister's dream come true. My memory is very hazy on this point, so the accuracy of the following anecdote is suspect at best: I believe Don Drysdale once lamented it was a shame the Los Angeles Dodgers did not have a pitcher with Orel Hershiser's brain in Kevin Gross' body. That's basically the idea behind the Aoba + Kou combination in Cross Game. It's a pity Adachi Mitsuru could not re-write the rules of Japanese high school baseball, but Aoba's head—and her heart—were enough for her to win it all this year, even if her arm could not officially compete.

Asuka
That's still an awesome phone.

If you're wondering why Shikinami Asuka Langley didn't win by default, it's because Rebuild of Evangelion 2.0 came out in 2009. Also Soryu > Shikinami.

[Update: Added Panty from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.]

Dated 5 January 2011: Autumn 2010 season wrapup

Ika Musume and Nagisa
Ika Musume terrorizes Nagisa.

Autumn 2010 had a number of surprises. I never would have predicted my top three shows from this season. In fact, three months ago I would have been surprised to learn I would watch two of the top three at all.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume [1-12] > Shiki (12-22) > Detective Opera Milky Holmes [1-12] > Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt [1-13] > Amagami SS [14-25] > Detective Conan (591-600) > Heartcatch Precure! (34-45) > Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai (11) > To Aru Majutsu no Index II (6-7) > Yosuga no Sora [1-12] > Psychic Detective Yakumo [1-13]

Shinryaku! Ika Musume takes the top spot by the strength of its comedy and its No Bad Episodes achievement. I didn't have much interest in the show initially based on its description, but toward the middle of the season I decided to give it a shot because of the near universal praise I encountered for it. I'm glad I did, because Ika Musume is a solid show. I only wish there were more episodes.

Megumi
Y'all know Megumi is right, right?

Shiki took me by surprise by embracing B-movie staples and running with it. I can't actually claim that Shiki is "good," but when it hits its marks it is wildly entertaining. If you like yelling at idiots for their stupidity and watching villagers storm castles with torches and pitchforks in hand, then Shiki is for you. Plus it's bloody! Even for a vampire show! I almost want to give it the top ranking for autumn 2010, but there were a few lackluster episodes in the mix holding it back. Its first OP and second ED are unquestionably this season's bests, though.

Henriette
Just so you know, this is a great disguise.

I wasn't really expecting to enjoy Tantei Opera Milky Holmes, and only started watching it so I could claim to be watching three detective shows this season. However, after an unimpressive start (everyone seems to loathe the first episode), it proved to be a fun series that continued to push the envelope; some of the things Detective Opera Milky Holmes did were really...inappropriate, but it was never dirty. An unexpectedly funny series, I've heard Milky Holmes described favorably as "the next Galaxy Angel." Now, it ain't that good, but I could definitely go for more episodes of these idiots.

Chuck, Panty, and Stocking
Panty and Stocking put Chuck to work.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt is as good as you've heard, but it never really resonated with me. There were some really amazing moments and a lot of good episodes, but I can't help but feel Gainax could have done more with the show. Even the Gainax Ending was not as outrageous as it could have been. It's no The Melody of Oblivion ending, for example. I'm probably the only person in the world who feels Panty & Stocking wasn't daring enough, though.

Ayatsuji
Don't worry, he has it coming.

I liked Amagami SS because of its gimmick, but ultimately Potato-kun just didn't have enough charisma to carry the show. It's a nice enough romantic comedy, but nobody who missed it should feel as if they've missed anything important.

Ran, Conan, and Kogoro
Ran is always so well dressed.

Detective Conan is Detective Conan. Nothing important changes, and the show remains as good as ever. For that reason, I suppose curious readers may be able to rely on its position in these season summaries as a baseline or control group of sorts for pan-season comparisons.

Erika
Erika is the best girl in Heartcatch, but she ain't no Girl of the Year.

Heartcatch Precure! is all right, but I don't like it as much as its predecessors. I suppose viewed as a whole, it is better than Fresh Pretty Cure, but the best Fresh moments are a lot better than the best Heartcatch ones. I know Heartcatch Precure! is very well regarded among many anime fans who don't typically watch Pretty Cure. I wonder if they rank the show so highly because this is the only Precure they know, or if they rank it so highly because Heartcatch has certain unique elements that other Pretty Cure season do not have. If the latter, perhaps it is these differences that I don't care for—differences that cause me to view Heartcatch unfavorably in comparison to past seasons. Or maybe I'm just tired of watching weak magikal girls fight bad feelings every week.

Kirino and Ruri
Kirino hassles Ruri.

I technically did not drop any shows this season, but I only watched one episode of Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. I watched episode 11 to see what all that KUNKA KUNKA jazz was about. Man, that Kirino is a total bitch. There is no way I'd be able to watch a full season of anything with her in it. (Bear in mind that I'm an unapologetic Asuka fan, too.) I never had any interest in the show because its most fervent fans are all siscons; that's gotta mean something whether or not the show's actual content justifies that label.

Kuroko
How about you go to a hospital, Kuroko? How about that?

I only watched episodes six and seven of To Aru Majutsu no Index II because I heard they were Kuroko episodes without any Touma speeches. I'm oddly fascinated by Kuroko's old woman voice, but I still have zero interest in the show.

Akira
Turbo Genki Akira is the Best Girl in Yosuga no Sora.

I accidentally watched all of Yosuga no Sora. I watched two of the episodes towards the middle of the season because I heard a harem-anime protagonist actually managed to have sex. If you know anything about anime, you'll understand this is a shockingly rare occurrence, especially so early in a season. I was hoping the show would be another School Days, but it turned out to be an R-rated version of the Amagami SS gimmick. Once I learned that, I backtracked through the earlier episodes to find out how everything started. By then I had watched half of the show and figured I'd keep watching since Haruka was apparently going to run the table. Man, Sora was an intolerable bitch, though. She and Kirino should hang out—at like the bottom of a lake. Anyway, if you want to know what happens but don't feel like waiting for the uncensored Blu-rips, just watch one of the omake EDs; they spoil basically everything that happens in the show.

Haruka
Even Kirika didn't wear the same outfit every single episode, Haruka.

I finished Psychic Detective Yakumo on general principle, but found it pretty boring. It wasn't very Bee Trainy for a Bee Train show. I also wished Haruka had more than one outfit.

Bridgette L. Satellizer, probably
The Eva Series? It's been completed?

I have a feeling I'm not going to be watching as much anime this year, at least not as many of these 13-episode throwaway shows. That said, I do hope Freezing will have DARK MAMIKO. Speaking of Noto Mamiko, Kimi ni Todoke 2 is a lock, and everything about Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica sounds pretty good with the exception of the SHAFT X SHINBO part (which probably sounds pretty good to most people). Naturally I'll continue watching Detective Conan and Pretty Cure and anything Gainax churns out, even if it might cause me to buy and then itasha the fuck out of a Subaru.

Dated 22 October 2011: Early impressions of autumn 2011

Kotori, Ritsuko, Miki, Ami, Yukiho, Mami, and Azusa
Kotori, Ritsuko, Miki, Ami, Yukiho, Mami, and Azusa on top.

So far, The IDOLM@STER TV has been the best show I'm following during autumn 2011. I'm pleased to see the 765 Pro girls' careers advance and I look forward to the inevitable scandal that threatens to destroy them when the evil rival talent agency blows the lid on Miki and her HONEY shacking up. You know it's coming.

Saber
Saber sure dresses sharper in Fate/zero than she does in Fate/stay night

Fate/zero is kinda stupid so far, but I can't resist. You could attribute it to the Ayako Doctrine, since I'm pretty stoked about having three (technically four) shows this season featuring her work. Truth be told, as much as I enjoy Kawasumi Ayako's "tough girl" voice, her "comic tough girl" voice is even better. I refer you to the Carnival Phantasm OVAs and Magical Witch Punie-chan.

Ika Musume
I hope you weren't expecting a squid-pun caption.

Shinryaku!? Ika Musume is a worthy sequel to the first season, although thus far it seems to be playing it safe. It needs another moment like the umbrella episode to really return it to its former glory.

Inori and Shu
It turns out Guilty Crown and Dantalian no Shoka are the same show.

Guilty Crown is way better than people give it credit for even if it isn't necessarily good. It's got good stuff in it, okay? That's good enough for me. And I'm not just saying that because that one girl's zero-gravity breasts are obviously some artist's labor of love.

Cure Muse
Cure Muse kinda sucks, to tell you the truth.

Suite Precure♪ really benefits from having Koshimizu Ami, Orikasa Fumiko, and Toyoguchi Megumi on the cast, much more than Heartcatch Precure! ever did from having Banana Mizuki or Hisakawa Aya on its cast. All five are very talented voice actresses, but Mizuki Nana was completely wasted as Tsubomi and Hisakawa Aya never impressed me as Cure Moonlight (nor as Sailor Mercury neither, through the first 46 episodes at least). If you listen to their stock footage transformation catchphrases, for example, Koshimizu Ami adds a lot of verve to her role, and Toyoguchi Megumi announces herself with real authority. I totally buy that she's about to beat some ass. Fumiko Orikasa...man, I'm just glad she's working again outside of that Bleach black hole.

Sen
Sen's understanding of "half off" differ's from Inori's.

Ben-to probably would have made a good two-episode OVA. I can't see watching more of this, even if Panty is in it eventually.

Ran
Needs more Ran service.

Detective Conan is Detective Conan. I expect it will continue to be as good as it always is, discounting the anomalous previous cour.

Sena
That's funny, the damage doesn't look as bad from out here.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai is about as good as the manga, I suppose, but I'm not a big fan of that either. I've met my goal of watching enough to see the eroge episode, so I think I'm done—both with the anime and the manga. It's just not especially interesting, and the character designs aren't appealing.

Shana
This is basically all Shana needs to succeed: fire and grimacing.

Shakugan no Shana Final is kinda poor, but making Yuji a villian is a good move. Oops, spoilers. I was half-wrong when I claimed there was no need to watch Shana II before watching Shana III. You won't know what the Hell is going on if you skip from Shana I to Shana Final, but then again there's a 50/50 chance you'll still be horribly confused by the start of Shana III even if you do watch the second season. Anyway, Shana III is pretty lousy, but sweet Haruhi, it's not nearly as bad as the second season was. Plus more Ayako!

Dated 1 January 2012: 2011's Girl of the Year

Miki and Producer
Consolation prize.

Choosing the Girl of the Year for 2011 shows how views held at the mid-year mark can change months later even without much additional information. As you may recall, the initial front runner was Homura from Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, with Charles and Ran looking to place and to show. However, after another six months of deliberation, I think I may need to reconsider my choices.

Cure Marine
Cure Marine is proof All Stars hazing works.

Going through my initial recommendations, Erika from Heartcatch Precure! does even better in light of how uninspiring the entire cast of Suite Precure♪ has been. Nearly all the Suite Precure♪ characters are all right. (Not Cure Muse. Cure Muse is straight-up terrible.) However, they are so underdeveloped. Even Buki and Miki from Fresh Pretty Cure have more personality than the Suite cast. And the Suite Cures all seem to make such terrible choices. Not that Erika was a sound voice of reason in Heartcatch, but Erika at least had a lot more verve than any of the current crop of Cures, so the things she did were almost always entertaining, even when they were ill conceived. Nevertheless, while Erika certainly makes the Suite cast look bad, it's not enough to win her Girl of the Year.

Minami
My copy of Management is twice as thick.

As far as I can tell, Moshidora was wildly unpopular, but I thought it was pretty good. It's rare for a show to get better with every episode. I might be looking at this through baseball goggles (they're like instrument goggles, okay), but Minami from Moshidora easily deserves a Girl of the Year nomination. She doesn't have enough to win, but you can't expect someone to go to the Koshien and win Girl of the Year in the same year, can you? Nobody is that good. Oh, wait. Aoba from Cross Game did that just last year.

Hana and Sasha
Go on, Hana, curse the bitch out.

Hana carried the second season of Seikon no Qwaser through its early lacklustre episodes. Carried it in her ass. [P.S. SPOILERS.]

Charles
Who are you going to believe, sweetheart? Me or your lyin' eyes?

Early in the year, it really seemed as if Charles from IS: Infinite Stratos had a legitimate change of winning. I suppose she did, but as I mentioned with regard to the OVA, the end of the series basically threw away everything that made Charles great. Instead, she just became another blushing simpleton in Ichika's harem. How things would have been different if she had been absent from the series' final scene! It could have played out otherwise unchanged, but for a brief cut away to Charles sitting quietly in her room, reading one of those books Ichika keeps around for show, maybe looking up curiously to ask, "What is that racket outside?" Alas, somewhere along the way the writers forgot what made her great. Charles doesn't win.

Makoto, Kotori, Chihaya, Ritsuko, Takane, Yukiho, Haruka, Producer, Hibiki, Ami, Miki, Mami, Azusa, Iori, and Yayoi
Say, do we have any cake?

Based on how much I like The Idolm@ster TV, you might expect one of the 765 girls to win this year. The truth is, I'm not even sure who to nominate. Idolm@ster relies very much on its ensemble cast, and as much as I like most of the girls individually, I like them collectively more. So, the first ever group nomination goes out to Chihaya, Miki, Takane, Ritsuko, Haruka, Mami, Makoto, Iori, Hibiki, Ami, Azusa, Yayoi, Kotori, and Yukiho. They don't win, though. I'm not ready.

Eiko
It's a good year for horn hair.

Even though I'm still not entirely sure squids are eligible to win Girl of the Year, Ika Musume managed a nomination last year for being pretty much non-stop awesome. Unfortunately, the second season of Ika Musume spent a lot of time, well, treading water for the most part. In fact, I'm inclined to think the Best Girl in Ika Musume II isn't even the title character. Eiko has been a solid straight man throughout the series, perhaps because she doesn't rely on having some broadly painted quirk to define her. Of course, now that I think about it, Eiko's role doesn't even necessarily require a female character. Eiko could have been a teenage boy, and the only real change to the show would be perhaps not having Ika Musume sleep in the same bedroom. Nobody from Shinryaku!? Ika Musume gets a nomination, by the way. Not this year.

Homura and Charlotte
Hey, there's more cake over at Suite Precure♪.

If you've been paying attention, you've already figured out the heavily armed witch killer Homura does not win this year. There were two obstacles in her way. First, Homura is handicapped by my general dislike of SHAFT and Shinbo and the sophomoric fans they attract. Second, Homura's defining characteristic—or at least the one working most in her favor—is her indefatigable dedication. It's admirable, but even Homura can learn a thing or two about tireless devotion from this year's winner: Ran.

Ran
Believe it, baby.

Long-suffering Mouri Ran is 2011's Girl of the Year. Ran has always been good enough to win every year, but a relatively weak field for 2011 coupled with an especially good year for Ran puts her over the top. Ran's peculiar similarities to Homura also helped seal the win. I say "long-suffering," but not very much actual in-show time has passed for Ran. Like Homura, Ran is essentially trapped in time, doomed to absorb hundreds of failures, surrounded by death, and never achieving the peace she seeks with the one she loves.

Ran
Lifetime Achievement Award.

For over six hundred episodes and more than a dozen movies, poor Ran hasn't been able to catch a break, but thankfully, there was some progress in 2011. This year, Detective Conan was at least kind enough to offer her the Valentine's Day arc, the White Day arc, and very compelling London arc, all of which which combine satisfyingly in ways unexpected for a show as generally static as Detective Conan. Congratulations, Ran, 2011's Girl of the Year.

Dated 6 January 2012: Season Summary, Autumn 2011

Haruka and Chihaya
Haruka visits Chihaya's spartan apartment in episode 11.

Leading the way by a large margin in autumn 2011 is The IDOLM@STER TV. I am solidly in the camp that believes Idolmaster exceeded all expectations. It doesn't quite win the coveted No Bad Episodes award (thanks for dragging down the curve, Hibiki), and some of the early summer 2011 episodes stumbled in parts, but taken as a whole Idolm@ster performed very well. As much as I enjoyed Hanasaku Iroha in the spring and summer, iM@S is easily my choice for show of the year. Some may argue Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica deserves Show of the Year, but I believe its baggage will prevent it from being as fondly remembered in the long run.

Chihaya
Chihaya alone in her apartment, episode 20.

I am both disappointed and relieved Idolm@ster did not use a Miki + Producer scandal as its final plot arc—disappointed because I have a perverse interest in drama and trauma in my -rama, but relieved because the actual final arc was a great way to end the season that fit very well with the tone and progression of the show over its 25 episodes. Thankfully, it also leaves the door ajar for another 25 episodes.

Chihaya's apartment
Chihaya's apartment, episode 25.

I'm conflicted as to whether Idolm@ster is a harem comedy or not. I have to conclude that it is, but it's a harem comedy the way the original To Heart anime is a harem comedy, and not in the way the insipid ToHeart2 is a harem comedy. Notably, despite more than a dozen nubile girls commanding his attention, Producer is a serious love interest to none of them. Miki might disagree with me here, and although she gives Producer the green light early and often, there is no real romantic or sexual tension between them. All the girls all fond of Producer, but in wholly appropriate ways. The girls want to be good idols for him, but they also want to succeed for their own sakes. Likewise, the girls of To Heart are fond of Hiroyuki as he serially befriends the Hell out of them, but they have their own goals and aspirations independent of him, unlike standard brainwashed harem comedy heroines inexplicably devoted to Potato-kun. Making Producer a part of his idols' lives, but not the center of their attention prevents Idolm@ster from going down a very bad road.

Inori
Inori tries to save Guilty Crown.

It's a long drop from the top spot to the second-best show I watched in autumn 2011: Guilty Crown. No matter how many unique things Guilty Crown may try and no matter what nuances it gives its characters, the package as a whole is wrapped in some of the most juvenile, cliché, and outright ridiculous developments. Still, none of these faults necessarily prevent Guilty Crown from being entertaining. If you have no stomach for a show quite obviously intended for male viewers in their early teens, then you will probably not wish to suffer through another cour of Guilty Crown. I, on the other hand, am quite looking forward to the second half of the show in winter 2012. Hell yeah.

Shaga
You wouldn't hit a girl with glasses, would you?

I almost dropped Ben-to after episode two because I assumed a show based on a fairly thin gimmick would wear out its welcome very quickly. Nevertheless, I kept watching because I was determined to at least learn what Panty was doing in this show. Surprisingly, the characters remained likeable and the premise remained entertaining. The unapologetic Sega pimping helped, too. It was also good to have Horie Yui and Tamura Yukari playing off each other. They make a good duo, and the dynamic is even better in Ben-to than it was in B Gata H Kei.

Ika Musume
They'll all be dead in a couple days anyway, de geso.

Shinryaku!? Ika Musume is not as good as the first season, mostly because it felt like it was playing off the same jokes over and over. The first season benefited from numerous examples of one-upmanship as Ika Musume learned or did something more improbable than the last. There were a few such moments this season, but Shinryaku!? Ika Musume paled in comparison to its brilliant first season.

Conan and Ran
I wonder what Conan saw in the mirror, Ran?

This was a good year for Detective Conan, particularly with regard to the summer's London arc, but the autumn portion was mostly about par for the course. It was also a good year for Ran, the 2011 Girl of the Year. The many Detective Conan OPs and EDs are notoriously cruel to Ran + Shinichi 'shippers, but the ED closing out the autumn 2011 season offers hints as to the shows eventual conclusion. (Detective Conan can't really run forever, right? Right?) Avert your eyes if you fear my psychic powers lend credence to what is admittedly merely a wild guess on my part: Shinichi will not return to his normal age. Ran will suffer the same fate as Shinichi and Haibara and become a small child again herself. Ran will finally learn Conan's secret and the series will end. I'm counting on anime's penchant for packing OPs and EDs with spoilers to ultimately prove me right. Besides, there's a legitimate way out: The numerous Kaito Kid specials this year have been good enough that I think an outright spinoff is a solid possibility. I sure hope Sawashiro Miyuki is prepared to play a scandalously clad high school ojou-sama witch for the next 10 years.

Saber and Irisviel
Saber and Irisviel both need hats.

Fate/zero is beautifully animated and basically better in every way possible than its horribly flawed predecessor Fate/stay night (except for lacking a Tohsaka Rin old enough to properly boast her trademark sweater + zettai ryouiki flawless combination). Even Saber manages to seem, well, not smart, but at least cool. And I like Irisviel far more than I expected, probably boosted by her fine taste in vintage automobiles. Still, the Fate/zero dialog dumps are so sonorous, and there's so much of it. I'm sure its second half will do better during winter spring 2012 when everyone starts killing each other.

Cure Beat, Cure Melody, Cure Rhythm, and Cure Muse
Probably shouldn't have stood around being useless
while Cure Melody was getting her ass kicked, eh.

Suite Precure♪ surpassed Fresh Pretty Cure somewhere around the Cure Muse arc as the most underachieving iteration of the Pretty Cure franchise, and since then it has done nothing but continue to fall in my estimation. Suite is not quite in freefall, but Lord, it ain't falling up. For over a thousand generations the Pretty Cure were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before they started letting cats and small children into their order. Also, I really hope impressionable young Suite Precure♪ viewers do not grow up thinking Cure Melody's solution is in any way an appropriate solution to resolving a hostage situation. I hope Smile Precure! does better, but its large starting cast and rumors of additional non-human Cures fill me with dread. (Yeah, I guess I'm racist. Speciesist?) At some point, Kaoru and Michiru have got to get tired of getting snubbed by their inexplicable exclusion from the Sacred Order of the Pretty Cure and crash the show to trash the joint and bust some heads the old fashioned way. Got to.

Shana
Go on, Shana. Curse the bitch out.

Shakugan no Shana Final is not that bad. Honest! It's way better than the second season of Shakugan no Shana, okay? Then again, I still rate it below Suite Precure♪, which ought to tell you something. On the plus side, this whole season has been about war, albeit not a very competently executed war. It also doesn't help that J.C. Staff still has trouble with fight scenes. In other news, two of the main characters engaged in sexual intercourse so vigorously one of them required magical augmentation beforehand to prevent permanent injury or possible death from the encounter. True story. [P.S. Spoilers.]

Sena
UNIVERSE!

I dropped Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai after three episodes, but I accidentally acquired a copy of episode nine in a game of chance, so I watched that too. The show is all right—bettter than Shana III at least, but I don't have any interest in it. This is unsurprising because I have no interest in the manga either, having dropped it at least three times since it first came on the scene. I also don't like the anime character designs at all.