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Dated 5 August 2013: Love Lab and Genshiken Nidaime are both about getting it on with boys

Enomoto and Maki
I heard Love Line started out basically the same way.

Love Lab is about a student council at a girls' school that secretly dedicates itself on the side to the art of pursuing boys. Genshiken Nidaime harks the return of a college circle dedicated to the artistic pursuits of anime, manga, and video games. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the first anime adaptation of the Genshiken manga when it aired in 2004, I did not say much about it at the time. Since then, the series spawned a number of OVA and a second television season, making Genshiken Nidaime the third or fourth season rather than the second part, depending on how you count it. (A quirk the anime itself acknowledges.) Love Lab is newer on the scene; it's the first anime adaptation of an ongoing manga (Renai Lab) that has run since 2006.

Riko
It does not appear as if Riko was prepared for this..

I'm finding Love Lab tough to sell, but easy to enjoy. This is mostly because the series doesn't sound like much from its description, but the execution is excellent. The jokes are funny and the characters are likable. One aspect I haven't quite gotten my head around is casting Numakura Manami as Riko. I associate her voice so much with her character Hibiki from iDOLM@STER that it's hard to accept her as anyone else. The best solution, obviously, would be to re-work Riko's character design to actually look like Hibiki so I could pretend Numakura Manami is voicing Ganaha Hibiki the 765PRO idol in a starring role portraying Riko in a production of a Love Lab television show broadcast within the iDOLM@STER universe. (I'm only partly kidding.)

Madarame
Drinking alone.

Speaking of seiyuu, Genshiken Nidaime replaced basically every voice actor from the previous anime adaptations. I could sort of understand if the intent was to replace them with brand new talent, but as that doesn't appear to be the case at all, I find the change rather perplexing. It's also quite jarring to hear completely different voices from what I'm accustomed to, even though it's been a few years since I last watched any Genshiken. In particular, replacing Kawasumi Ayako with Yukana has been quite difficult to accept even though I like Yukana quite a bit. Madarame's new deeper voice also takes some getting used to.

Hato
Hato not in drag.

Some fans of the original Genshiken anime expressed disappointment with Nidaime because the Genshiken club itself has changed. Previously a boys' club of openly geeky males, it has transformed over the years to one dominated by fujoshi members and their pursuit of male-on-male erotica while the alumni and their interests are presented as more incidental to to the main plot. Naturally, this is because the old members are no longer students, thus no longer part of the club, and likewise occupied by other "grown-up" interests as their original fervor wanes.

Hato
It's a boy dressed as a girl pretending to be a boy.

Nevertheless, Genshiken Nidaime appears to be just as much about personal growth and acceptance as it has always been. The first season focused on Sasahara as he grew more comfortable with embracing his otaku side, and on Saki as she discovered she could still love one otaku in particular (Kousaka) while still loathing otaku in general. Later, Genshiken focused on Ogiue as she came to came to grips with her identity and the parts of her life that previously mortified her. Although I have not read ahead in the manga, it appears Genshiken Nidaime will focus on the cross-dressing Hato as he deals with the challenges of being a straight male (allegedly) who masturbates to yaoi (i.e., 2D gay porn).

Madarame
Being a grown-up is hard.

Notably, it appears this season will also spotlight Madarame. This former club president (now three terms removed from the current head, Ogiue), was previously depicted as the savvy, veteran otaku who was completely comfortable with being who he was. However, he clearly still carries a torch for the Genshiken Best Girl, Saki (previously Yukino Satsuki, now sorely missed despite Satou Rina's talents), and he refuses to publicly acknowledge this most heinous of perversions: Attraction to a three-dimensional woman. In this regard, perhaps Madarame has the most growing up to do.

Maki
Good luck, Maki's future boyfriend.

Through five episodes, Love Lab is better than Genshiken Nidaime, but I suspect that the latter will be better remembered years later if both shows continue to progress as they have. I suspect Genshiken resonates more with aging male anime fans, even though this season is mostly comprised of female characters. Incidentally, if you know anything about Genshiken, you should already know Ogiue Maniax is its leading resource 'round these parts.

Dated 29 September 2013: Love Lab is a triumph for anime hair

Maki and Riko
This is because of anti-dakimakura prejudice.

Love Lab was a fairly successful comedy despite not having a lot of depth to its jokes. The basic premise is interesting (provided you don't have violent aversions to male characters in your all-girls-all-the-time anime), although the characters did not do as much with it as I had hoped. I think diverting so much attention away from the main effort and focusing instead on Riko's inability to confess about her lies was a mistake. As a consequence, it made the ending somewhat weak, whereas if the resolution had occurred during the mid-season mark there would have been more opportunities for meeting-boys hijinks.

Riko
Mixed success at being more feminine.

Despite its flaws, Love Lab still had enough charm to be enjoyable each week, even with a deadweight character or two. Where it really succeeds, however, is in breaking conventions regarding anime hair. I did not diligently catalog all the changes and variations (but surely some obsessive fan somewhere on the Internet has), but it seems Riko changes her hair style and accessories every episode and sometimes once or twice during each episode as well. Oddly enough, I was able to recognize her even though her hair accessories cum charm points weren't fixed. It's frankly more daring than anime characters who don't wear the same clothes every single day. In fact, I'm nominating Riko for 2013 Girl of the Year just for her hair alone.

Riko
Riko's Doritos duvet is pretty awesome.

Additionally, I wasn't really a fan of Hibiki's speaking voice in The iDOLM@STER but Numakura Manami's delivery as Riko works well in Love Lab, even though it still feels to me that Riko is a character of an in-iM@S-universe television show starring Ganaha Hibiki, if that makes any sense.

Dated 15 October 2013: In re Summer 2013 Anime -or- The End of Silver Spoon ~Air/My Purest Love for Bacon~

Nakajima and Yoshino
I couldn't think of a gouda cheese pun to use for this caption.

Summer 2013: Silver Spoon [1-11] > Uchouten Kazoku [1-13] > Symphogear G [1-13] > Love Lab [1-13] > Genshiken Nidaime [1-13] > Prisma☆Illya [1-10] > C3-bu [1-13] > Turning Girls [1-7] > Detective Conan (701-711) > DokiDoki! Precure (23-34) > RailgunS [13-24] > Dog & Scissors [1-12].

Yoshino and Hachiken
These two are pretty upset even though Yoshino's not pregnant.

Dropped: Gatchaman Crowds (1-9) > Servant x Service (1-3) > Kiniro Mosaic (1-4) > Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku (1-2) > Gen'ei o Kakeru Taiyou: Il Sole Penetra le Illusioni (1-3) > Chou Jigen Game Neptume The Animation (1) > High School DxD NEW (1-4) > Futari wa Milky Holmes (1-2). WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS: Shingeki no Kyojin (13.5-14).

This chart started out as a joke, but has grown kinda out of control. Of course, the whole ranking anime thing started out as a joke too, and then suddenly five years went by.

Yoshino and Aki
Yoshino makes me want to eat smoked cheese more than Churuya ever did.

Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) was easily the best summer 2013 series that I watched. It was consistently entertaining and I was impressed with how Hachiken's character developed over the show's 11 episodes. Even the quandary with "Pork Bowl" ended up much better than I expected. That was the plot point I had the most reservations about, but I'm quite pleased with how Silver Spoon resolved it.

Professor Akadama
Five will get you tengu he's going to trash the joint.

Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) stands out among the summer 2013 shows for being intelligent about idiots and being strange while feeling familiar. The focus is on tanuki family dynamics, but it turns out the problems fuzzball shapeshifters have with their families aren't too different than those experienced by humans, except perhaps tanuki aren't as quick to embrace Shakespearean revenge tragedies. To be fair, all I really learned about tanuki is that they are dumbasses and that they are easily panicked, but maybe that's all anyone needs to know about tanuki.

Benten
Tall-collar service.

More importantly, I learned Mamiko can knock 'em dead better than ever. Her work as Benten was transcendent. I've never wanted to be a decrepit old man more. In fact, thanks mostly to Noto Mamiko's superb work, but also because Benten herself is such straight-up trouble, I'm nominating Suzuki Satomi for 2013 Girl of the Year. I'd also like to mention that Nakahara Mai is better than ever, although I encourage her to take more parts like her role in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita and and fewer roles as young boys.

The Shimogamo mom
The Shimogamo matriarch is lucky so many dudes wanted to do her tanuki-style.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music... had a great ending. Basically, if you didn't like that final episode then you just don't like anime. That said, the show itself did have a few issues. First of all, Dr. Ver's comically evil persona never seemed particularly threatening, except for maybe when we learned he wanted to make babies with Maria. Second, Maria herself turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I certainly was not expecting her to spend most of the show crying. I guess it's a good thing there's not going to be a follow-up cour devoted to her efforts at repopulating the planet, because she'd probably cry the entire time then too.

Maria
Listen, sugar, either go back to whaling on some deadbeats
or help me repopulate the planet, but get to work.

Sorry, Maria really needed to focus more on tearing shit up and coming up with new cape-fu moves instead of all the moping she did. Still, I'll ignore a lot of faults when a show spends most of its time focusing on mahou shoujo whaling on each other while singing. Shirabe and Kirika were endearing even though their fights lost a lot of impact because there was no danger of anyone getting hurt. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS already demonstrated that providing lots of collateral damage is not a substitute for emotional resonance.

Illya
The fan service in Prisma☆Illya gets out of control.

I've already written about the endings to Love Lab, Genshiken Nidaime, and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya.

Yura
Oh, hey, it's Evangelion's Train of Despair.

Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Koutou-ka C3-Bu spent too much time on Yura taking all the fun out of a game, but that was sort of the point. In a way, C3-bu felt as if Gainax wanted to stretch out a Gainax ending as far as they could. Technically, C3-bu did have a Gainax ending, but then they went ahead and made another episode that seemed to contain material I'd usually expect in a standalone OVA. Maybe that's the way it was originally planned, but someone figured at the last minute that it probably wouldn't sell or something.

I finished watching Turning Girls weeks ago.

Ran, Kogoro, and Conan
Ran shows off her crazy metabolism again.

I fell behind on Detective Conan but managed to catch up by the time I finally got this thing written. As for Meitantei Conan itself, it's still a reliable control for comparing shows season-to-season. It does need more Kazuha, though. I was concerned maybe her prolonged absence was related to Miyamura Yuko's longer commuting requirements. (She moved to Australia a few years ago.) I'm not sure if that's a factor, but it appears autumn 2013 starts off with at least four Heiji (with Kazuha in tow) episodes to follow the two that finished up the summer 2013 season. I'm certainly in favor of a six-episode block of Kazuha episodes, but I'm curious if they would have been spaced out instead if Miyamura Yuko still lived in Japan.

Cure Rosetta
Relax, yo. Cure Rosetta has got this.

DokiDoki! Precure did two notable things during the summer 2013 cour. One, it introduced a sass-talking Kugimiya Rie Cure. Two, it raised the stakes in the all-singing, all-dancing 3DCG ED wars. Aside from that, DokiDoki! is turning out to be one of the less interesting Pretty Cure generations, although episode 34 did have some rad Cure Rosetta beatdowns.

Saten and Uiharu
This made no sense, but I'll allow it.

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S needed more SATEN, but I'm glad it found excuses to trot her out in different hairstyles and various street clothes. The ending of the series was rather ridiculous with its casualty-free battle between espers and drones. I guess I was pleased to see SATEN behind the controls of a giant robot, though. P.S. Spoilers.

I already covered Dog and Scissors.

I won't revisit the shows I dropped except to say I also dropped Gatchaman Crowds. This one comes as a bit of a surprise because it seemed so promising after a strong start. However, I was unable to take the villain seriously and never cared what he did. I also did not sympathize with Rui at all nor had any interest in his reasons for crossdressing. The turning point was the episode where Rui is mercilessly beaten for what ended up being a hilariously long time and I realized I had absolutely no emotional investment in any of the characters and was only still watching to see how long Hajime could prolong her violently upbeat attitude. I fell behind after that, and once I learned how disappointed other fans were with the series finale, I decided to simply quit watching altogether.

Saten and Uiharu
Hey, sweetie, eyes on the God damn road.

This season summary is a lot more piecemeal than previous ones, but I kinda get the feeling the amount of time required to compile these things does not expand linearly with the number of additional shows watched. Maybe the one I write three months from now for the autumn 2013 shows will be a lot more cohesive and contain greater detail and not be dragged out over several weeks. At least, maybe it will be that way if I continue to watch only three shows. I've got up to 10 I might consider, but I can't see following more than seven for the time being.