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Dated 29 April 2013: Spring 2013 initial impressions

Man and Old Man
The Hustler.

The preseason buzz for spring 2013 seemed fairly pessimistic. (Sort of seems that way more often than not lately.) Thankfully, this quarter is shaping out to be pretty decent, at least through the first third of the cour. I guess I was looking forward to Death Billiards from the name alone—turns out it's another excellent Anime Mirai short movie, by the way—and that show about giants eating people, and the second season of Railgun, so it's not as if I believed spring 2013 would be a total write-off. It turns out there are at least a couple of gems and one shiny rock to admire.

Ledo, Amy, and Bellows
Deep frying a turkey is actually pretty dangerous.

Suisei no Gargantia has been pretty good through the first three episodes, even though Team Rocket makes an appearance. I fully expect this science fiction tale to go off the rails sooner than later, but hopefully we're done with the moralizing against using a newly allied overwhelming force to disrupt a disadvantageous status quo. Their battles with the pirates are bananas. Why they don't encourage Amy's new best friend to air them ALL out while he's still happy to do so, I have no idea.

Sasha is good for more than just stealing food.

That show about the giants eating people is as good as I had hoped, even though Ellen is doing his level best to ruin Shingeki no Kyojin for me. Blessed be Haruhi, that kid needs a punch in the face. I understand that he's pretty upset that his mother died, but Shinn's mother died and he...wait, bad example. Kaoru's mom and Saga's mom both died and they did not turn into brats. Okay? Actually, I couldn't shake the bad vibes Eren gave me and decided to read all of the available manga chapters just in case he really does ruin the show. Without offering any spoilers, let me just say that I am not particularly pleased at the direction the manga takes, and I hope the path chosen does not degenerate to such a state that readers are forced to conclude the writer simply pulls the story out of his ass. However, I don't expect the anime to ever get to where the manga is now, unless it's got shounen jive longevity.

Have I ever seen an anime character get hurt from falling down before?

Hataraku Maou-sama! is a pleasant surprise and a good example of how a properly executed show can make an uninspired concept work. I do have a couple of concerns, though. For one thing, I hope the show doesn't work too hard to make ol' Satan to be a really great guy at heart while making some other underling (Spoilers: Lucifer) the real bad guy instead. It's possible to make Satan the hero of a story and still keep him evil, okay? I guess John Milton doesn't write many anime scripts these days, though. I'm also afraid it will go the same route as the latter seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel with disguised demons fully integrated with human society and encountered at every turn.

Cursing pacifist bitches out makes Shinn really thirsty.

The remastered Gundam SEED Destiny rebroadcast has had disappointingly few changes from the original broadcast version through its first three episodes. In fact, all of the changes I've noticed thus far (watching both versions side-by-side) have been extremely minor, and likely include only the revisions made for the Gundam SEED Destiny compilation movies. I'm disappointed because if ever there was a show crying for wild retconning, it is Gundam SEED Destiny. I'm not suggesting it's possible to fix the show's flaws through heavy-handed retroactive continuity, but it could potentially make it much more entertaining.

I hope Saten's batting helmet has a flower painted on the side.

I was looking forward to To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S because I enjoyed the first season, but the second and third episodes make me concerned it's going to end up more like Index than Railgun. Quite frankly, the show is really juvenile and relies on a lot of hand waving to advance its plot. I can excuse lazy writing when the end product is clever or charming, but the first scene of the season features Saten set upon by yet another pack of Academy City's limitless supply of roving hoodlums. Cursed by the anime prohibition against running without tripping, Saten appears in danger of a gang-type raping but is fortuitously saved by heroic main characters. Sadly, this represents one of the less contrived sequences of the first three episodes. I guess the show really works if you adore Mikoto and Kuroko on general principle, but I'd rather the show be about Saten playing sandlot baseball, eating crêpes, and humiliating her best friend Medaka-chan in public.

Mana emasculates another disciple.

Dokidoki! Precure took a dive when it introduced its magic baby. (It apparently looks like a regular baby to other people?) Thankfully, the show isn't as preoccupied with it as I had feared. Infant mascots aside, Dokidoki! Precure is pretty solid mahou shoujo entertainment, and I'm pleased its leads remain unusually competent.

No pressure, sweetie.

Straight Title Robot Anime finished its 12-episode run recently. Looking back, I feel its most entertaining moments all came from the improvised prop comedy segments with the seiyuu struggling to contain their laughter. When I think about it, Straight Title Robot Anime basically worked best as seiyuu radio given CGI life. I hope its producers see it as a successful crudely animated proof of concept in this respect and make more of that sort of thing.

Behold, the mighty vampire mecha pilot and king of Space Twitter.

Valvrave the Liberator is every bit as juvenile and terrible as you've heard. It's a ridiculous concept that could only have been created by people entirely ignorant of war but fascinated by the emerging role social media Social Media is playing in the globalization of otherwise regional conflicts. Oh, and made for an audience that apparently believes the edge of the world lies where the grounds of their school ends. That said, it's still very entertaining in a B-movie sort of way that is impossible to take seriously. It's not quite Guilty Crown in the sense that Guilty Crown at least tried to be high-concept in a flawed sort of way, but Valvrave hits a lot of "People Really Like This?" benchmarks, so I'll absolutely keep watching it as long as Potato-kun and his idiotic girl problems don't get in the way of The Man's inability to keep L-Elf down. Fight on, you crazy psycho.

Dated 10 June 2013: I started watching Aiura

It probably doesn't mean she has crabs.

I forgot to mention that I started watching Aiura. It's a pleasant enough show, but I don't have much to say about it because it's so short. (It's another one of those jobbies with four-minute episodes.) I guess I can say I also have no idea why crabs and Steve Jobs are in the OP. There has been some speculation that crabs refer to the zodiac sign Cancer1 since Steve Jobs died of cancer, but I'm calling that one a coincidence absent some more compelling reason why that would be in the OP either.

Saki and Ayuko
It's not easy being best.

I can also say that the show does appear to be the labor of love of somebody with a deep appreciation of the bare thighs of teenage girls. There is that. Oh, and it's the second show this season (along with Valvrave the Liberator) where the BEST GIRL is named Saki. If you include Saki from Natsuiro Kiseki, that makes girls named Saki three-for-three in shows from recent memory seizing BEST GIRL honors. When Genshiken Nidaime starts in a few weeks, girls named Saki will go four-for-four. I might be on to something here.

Note 1: Or possibly the genus, since hardly anyone in anime outside of The Melody of Oblivion seems to care about the western zodiac.

Dated 11 July 2013: Spring 2013 wrapup

Shiny Chariot
Shiny Chariot's Magical Festa is a tough act to follow.

Overall, the spring 2013 season was a little bit of a letdown considering it started fairly strong. (I can sort of prove it too.) From a subjective standpoint, it probably felt worse because the start of the season coincided with the release of Little Witch Academia and Death Billiards which are both excellent short films, although not part of the spring 2013 anime season itself. As you can probably predict, both the best show and the worst show I watched were pretty consistent episode to episode.

Suzuno is the Best Girl in Hataraku Maou-sama!.

Hataraku Maou-sama! was consistently entertaining and amusing, which was a real pleasant surprise because I thought it was based on a manga I dismissed as pretty unremarkable. Whether this means the show benefited by deviating from the source material or whether I simply confused it with a manga that has a similar set up, I have no idea. The real strength of the show was in not taking the premise too seriously and just keeping the focus on the comedic day-to-day and work-related antics. Even the somewhat forced end-of-season climax occurred on the penultimate episode, while the final episode itself was devoted to overcoming a completely unrelated (and much more compelling) adversary. Hataraku Maou-sama! isn't what I would call a fantastic show, but it was pretty good the whole way though and the best show I watched spring 2013.

Hi, Bellows, meet the King of the Battle.

Suisei no Gargantia was also consistently good, but perhaps somewhat surprising because it did not end in some sort of Urobuchi tragedy as expected. I was a little skeptical when we reached the inevitable "Hideauze die when they are killed!" segment, but I'm satisfied with the resolution and glad Ledo escaped a NEET fate. I would be in favor of more Gargantia provided it focused on other characters or some of the minor ones previously introduced. The world itself makes for an interesting enough backdrop to support additional cours, but I'd prefer not dragging out the stories of characters who already received nice conclusions to their tales.

Kanaka and Saki
Not pictured: Legs.

Aiura probably should not rank so high given that it is such a short show, but that's more an indication as to how weak the rest of the season was than anything. Nothing really against Aiura, which was reliably pleasant and amusing through its run, but the short length really kept it from being anything more than a weekly showcase of anime legs and a cute teaser for (hopefully) full-length episodes.

Saki is Best Girl in Valvrave the Liberator.

Kakumeiki Valvrave is a ridiculous mecha show by Sunrise which is incredibly aggravating when it is promoting the triumph of teenagers over adults (even when it does it satirically) and decidedly myopic when it naively focuses on the importance of the school as a social construct. I actually can't tell if Sunrise is making fun of its (presumably teenage) audience, or if it is honestly trying to sell a story about youth empowerment to a generation for whom school is almost literally its entire world—a generation that grew up knowing approximately zero-point-fuck-all about war. I mean, the SCHOOL seceded? Really? And they elected a flibbertigibbet as their leader? Seriously? And the deepest desire of the refugees is to engage in traditional school functions after reaching safety? I think Sunrise is trying to coyly accuse teenagers of being simpletons, but a part of me suspects a solid portion of its viewers actually embraces these preposterous developments unironically. Remember that an early extended scene actually used the confiscation of cell phones as an example to depict the horrors of war. Japanese teenagers would likely be appalled at the prospect of having their beloved keitai taken from them, but surely even the most self-centered of these youths understand that actual refugees and displaced persons from real-world war zones would not sympathize with this particular loss even a little bit. But like I said, I can't tell. This is what makes Valvrave so bad that it's good, I guess.

I want to watch Saki's movie. They should release it as an OVA.

I should talk about the rape. I meant to talk about the rape. Everyone else talked about the rape and already exhausted themselves arguing about whether or not it was a rape. [SPOILERS: There's a rape.] I was not troubled by the scene in the least, but I think this goes back to what I once said about the viewer's expectations and how subject matter in one genre or medium (e.g., rape in an adult's crime novel) might receive an entirely different reception in a different genre or medium (e.g., rape in a cartoon about giant robots) which—despite many efforts to characterize it differently—is still obviously not accorded the same amount of latitude in this regard.

At least the sunset was pretty.

I'm going to digress for a bit here to mention another Sunrise giant robot rape that got basically no attention at all: The addition to episode 40 of the Gundam SEED rebroadcast in remastered HD. Spoilers, obviously. After Flay is captured, there's a scene a few episodes later when Yzak asks Rau what he intends to do with her. In the original broadcast, the scene cuts away to Flay (clothed) sleeping in a dark room. In the remastered rebroadcast, the scene cuts to Flay nude in bed with tears in her eyes, obviously implying Rau has been forcing or coercing her into having sex with him. Under the "best" case scenario, one could argue Flay may have initiated sex in a fruitless effort to manipulate Rau into freeing her, just as she used sex earlier in the show to manipulate Kira's motivation for fighting Coordinators by tapping into his desire to protect her. Flay's most ardent critics likely find some vindication in this latter interpretation as they repeat the usual invectives against her once again: Namely "slut" and "bitch." (Judged and sentenced for her crimes against purity by the Court of the Eternal Otaku.) But as I was saying, this scene drew not even a measurable fraction of the attention the Valvrave rape did.

Fujii tries yet again to be funny.

Straight Title Robot Anime. Remember that thing? Because of its staggered start and finish, its final four episodes technically fell within spring 2013. Frankly, I wasn't expecting a comedy about a war that never ends to be so depressing. From a quality standpoint, it was basically as good as it was during winter 2013 for much the same reasons. I talked about this already, though. You'll notice it places a bit higher now than in those other two lists; it's a testament to how far most spring 2013 shows dropped.

I'm still waiting for Mikasa to activate her Pretty Cure powers.

Shingeki no Kyojin started out good, but is basically a disaster now. Since I've read the manga, I knew we were in for some laggard parts, but I wasn't expecting the pace to be this slow. The show would be fine if it were actually about a scrappy band fighting giants, but really it's mostly about cowardly soldiers talking about how terrified they are. The action scenes are excellent, but understandably sparse simply because of the huge production costs they require.

< Censored_Vagina> it took [SPOILERS] like 3 episodes to move a rock, then recap, I'm done with this.

That's basically Attack on Titan in a nutshell. I haven't quite dropped it yet, but I don't expect to last much longer barring some dramatic directional changes or significant deviations from the (frankly overrated) manga.

Regina and Mana
That's right. Apologize for what you've done to the show.

Episodes nine through 22 of DokiDoki! Precure are a bit of a disappointment considering the show's fairly strong start. This is not as bad as the collapse Fresh Pretty Cure suffered in its second half, but the Regina episodes of DokiDoki! Precure are not very compelling. I'm also a little appalled at the addition of Joe to the cast of heroes and really hope he stays on the sidelines as a minor character. Technically this was not the first time Pretty Cure has been rescued by male characters, but Joe just smacks of an effort to placate focus groups who somehow aren't content to simply let Pretty Cure trash the joint and walk away clean.

Oh, hey. It's that guy. Wait, that's no good.

Too stupid to fully enjoy, but too good looking to drop, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S occupies the bottom run of my spring 2013 ladder of shows, not counting the ones I quit watching entirely. The fights are incredibly contrived (mostly because the author behind the Index and Railgun universe makes no effort to address obvious plot holes), but at least they're well animated—quite remarkable considering J.C. Staff's previous difficulties with fight scenes. Unfortunately, these plot holes are not nit-picky ones, but rather gaping orifices simply ignored in order to advance the story in the intended direction. For example, Mikoto spends most of the first cour of Railgun S sneaking around rather than enlisting the help of her roommate, the teleporter. This means said teleporter has to sit out basically the entire show so that I'm not even sure she's still a character. Kuroko? Was she in this? Are you sure you're not thinking of a different anime? Sadly, Saten has also been sidelined as well. Aside from almost being gang raped by one of Academy City's countless bands of aggressive hooligans, playing some Internet mahjong, and (correctly) speculating that Mikoto may be spending time with a boy, Saten has also done fuck all this season. Seriously, yo, can I get just one episode of her playing sandlot baseball? How about Three Flies Up?

I didn't drop Railgun S even though Railgun S dropped Kuroko.

Oh yeah, I also dropped a bunch of shows and never bothered to watch Yuyushiki, which I know many anime fans consider to be the best show from spring 2013. They weren't my cup of tea. Speaking of tea, I still have more Darjeeling tea that I bought months ago because of GIRLS und PANZER. I hope tea doesn't go bad.

Dated 23 October 2013: KILL la KILL leads the six shows that I'm watching so far

Mikisugi and Ryuuko
Relax, it's cool. He's her teacher.

I'm watching fewer shows autumn 2013 than I usually do. I suppose on average it's still about one episode each night, but with less time watching anime and less attention devoted to The Twitter, I do have noticeably more time to pursue other interests—to include updating an anime blog that's nearly in its 13th year.


Dated 8 December 2013: I guess the Valvrave school festival Shouko promised is cancelled

Don't worry, Shouko, it'll get worse.

I was pretty annoyed with this season of Kakumeiki Valvrave until episode 21. It was as lousy as ever, but the last few episodes had also been sort of boring. That's a really bad combination, but I'm pleased to say episode 21 brought back the good kind of Valvrave lousiness: Suffering and stupidity. [P.S. Spoilers herein abound.]


Dated 2 January 2014: Autumn 2013 season summary

Regina and Cure Ace
Go on, Ace. Slap the shit out of her.

I only watched five shows from the autumn 2013 anime season. It really should have been six, but subs for Detective Conan lagged again.

Autumn 2013: KILL la KILL (1-12) > Golden Time (1-12) > DokiDoki! Precure (35-46) > Kakumeiki Valvave [13-24] > IS Infinite Stratos 2 [1-12, OVA2]. Dropped: None.