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18 June 2024: I thought I would have dropped Blue Archive by now

Shiroko
I commend Shiroko for keeping a gun in her bathroom "just in case."

The Blue Archive anime occupies the same intellectual space for me as the Girls Frontline anime and the Azur Lane anime. However, I dropped both of those shows, but I've somehow stuck with Blue Archive. All three of these are anime derived from gacha games that I only know from fan art. They also probably require at least a surface-level understanding of the games to fully appreciate. The stories are not difficult for non-fans to follow, but I'm fairly confident these anime cater to viewers who already have some degree of familiarity with the characters. They're the ones who will get the most out of the experience.

Aru
You might not be goofy now, but you're still hapless and (I assume) still an idiot.
(I mean idiot in the nicest possible way, okay.)

In the case of Blue Archive, most of the characters I would recognize from fan art don't even appear in the anime in any meaningful capacity (or at all, in some cases). For that reason, I'm mostly ambivalent about the various catgirls and whatnot forming the main cast. I do like Aru, which is remarkable because I didn't know who she was before watching the anime. (Over in The iDOLM@STER Shiny Colors, I had a similar experience with Mitsumine Yuika.) Now that Aru isn't an antagonist anymore, though, I'm expecting my already tepid interest in the show to wane. The robot enemies or whatever on the other side of the more recent fights aren't especially compelling.

Iori
I recognize you. You're the one whose rifle is all fucked up.

Speaking of fights, as a firearms enthusiast, I feel I have to point out Blue Archive is generally awful in how it depicts guns. It's not reasonable to expect much better from a Japanese anime adaptation of a Chinese mobile phone game, but I mention it because it sort of seems the franchise strives to incorporate genuine designs as a core component of its universe (instead of making up entirely fictitious weapons from scratch), but without putting in much effort. Consequently, even compared to other similar anime adaptations of the same sort of games, it's below average. It's not enough to bother me, but I also can't help but notice.


16 June 2024: In other news, all of my Unicode broke in the past week.

Yeah, I'm expecting it to take a while before something like よ (よ = よ) stops looking fucked up.

I hope it's at least a setting I can simply change to get everything back to normal.

The tag dropdown menu thingy is also gone. I assume both of these issues resulted from a common cause.

Update: Did it work?

[It did not, at least not for old material.]


11 June 2024: I'm only sort of watching Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha: Shijou Saikyou no Maou no Shiso, Tensei shite Shison-tachi no Gakkou e Kayou II Part 2

Anos, Sasha, Misha, and Arcana
Small bed for four people.

I don't have a compelling reason to still be watching Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha: Shijou Saikyou no Maou no Shiso, Tensei shite Shison-tachi no Gakkou e Kayou II Part 2 (The Misfit of Demon King Academy: History’s Strongest Demon King Reincarnates and Goes to School with His Descendants Season 2 Part 2), but I also don't have a reason to stop. I'm not invested in the stories, the constant use of janky 3DCG is sort of offputting, and I probably would stop if the characters from the first season received less screen time, but for now I'm still watching it week-to-week because, well, I'm not sure.

Sasha
Or maybe I simply like Sasha.

I will give it this: It's not boring. That's way more than I can say of a lot other shows. I might not care about what happens, but what happens is reliably amusing and unpredictable, even though I know conflicts will broadly involve Maou-kun triumphing over some douche. I can't claim the lore is complex, but there is a lot of it, and it's detailed enough that I would not be able to explain the current season to someone who wanted an accurate synopsis. It's probably easier for younger viewers of Maou-kun Goes to Maou High School to be more enthusiastic about the series. If I had to determine why I'm still watching this show, it's probably because it's good enough that I want to be caught up if a future installment happens to run during an unusually slow season where I have fewer alternatives to follow. However, here during Spring 2024, I've got 10 other shows that I generally prioritize more.


4 June 2024: Unnamed Memory is a mess

Tinasha and Oscar
I'm disappointed the law of conservation of mass does not apply to cat-mode Tinasha.

Remember when I said, "I like Unnamed Memory even though it feels rushed"? Yeah, about that... Well, it definitely still feels rushed in ways that are absolutely to its detriment. Basically all of the plot beats in the anime seem to occur arbitrarily without being properly introduced or established in any sort of way that I should care about. I have to assume the books are not like this, but I don't know why the anime adaptation would choose to depict events this way. With only a few episodes left in the cours, it's unsalvageable.

Tinasha
I'm disappointed fan art does not dwell on the weird tan lines Tinasha should have.

In fact, I'm so unsatisfied with the Unnamed Memory anime that I have zero interest in reading the books even though they're all but guaranteed to be better. That doesn't matter anymore. To be clear, I had considered it initially. The series is complete and only six volumes long. Maybe I wouldn't end up liking it, but there was enough positive buzz about it that I was willing to read the first volume and see how it goes. Nope, not anymore. The anime isn't bad enough for me to drop it entirely this close to the end, but it is bad enough to kill any interest I might have in uncovering what potentially went wrong.


28 May 2024: Shuumatsu Train Doko e Iku is amazing

Nadeshiko
Steady as she goes.

I didn't know what to expect from Shuumatsu Train Doko e Iku (Where Does the Doomsday Train Go? or Train to the End of the World) before I started watching. It turned out to be unlike anything I've seen before. I shouldn't have been too surprised. It's an original anime with Mizushima Tsutomu (GIRLS und PANZER, Witch Craft Works) at the helm. The result is a bizarre medley of strange settings and weird encounters that are creative and amusing without crossing into the "LOL RANDOM" territory that I (distastefully) associate with, say, Shinbō Akiyuki (or Simbo, as he prefers). Notably, it also appears Mizushima has finally figured out how do horror. (I hated Another.) Specifically, the horror elements here are amusing instead of irritating and stressful instead of exasperating.

Reimi
Don't get the gyaru angry. She's stupid, but strong.

Shuumatsu Train Doko e Iku is also a journey. I lament on occasion that there aren't enough anime featuring extended road trips. This is largely because travel in modern japan is too quick to support this sort of construct, so a series using travel as a framework typically needs to be set in the past, in a larger country, or around some excuse that keeps the characters' ultimate destination out of reach. Here, the contrivance preventing the Doomsday Train from reaching its destination quickly is also responsible for shaping everything else that happens, and it's fucking great.

Reimi, Akira, and Nadeshiko
Isn't it a serious social faux pas to eat on a train in Japan?

Not everyone seems to be on board with Shuumatsu Train, but I don't think it's divisive or controversial. I have seen some complaints that the lead characters are not distinctive enough for some viewers, and others have mentioned the dialogue is too rapid. Personally, I think the characters are interesting and memorable as individuals. I agree the dialogue is very rapid, though. There's a lot of snappy patter, which is usually not something I like, but I don't find it off-putting here. In fact, I sort of enjoy it. That's unexpected but fitting since basically everything else in every episode is also unexpected.


21 May 2024: Jii-san Baa-san Wakagaeru is about grandpa and grandma turning young again

Ine and Shouzou
Don't give him too much sake.

Surprising no one, Jii-san Baa-san Wakagaeru (Grandpa and Grandma Turn Young Again) is exactly what its premise made it out to be. I suppose there's a slight twist in that they're able to shift back and forth between their normal elderly forms and their younger selves (albeit still with gray hair) without much difficulty. Through seven episodes, it's a nice enough show about a couple in their 80s experiencing life in the modern era as young adults instead. There are frequent reminders that the elderly are fundamentally the same people on the inside as they were when they were young. The series communicates this by highlighting past influences from a bygone era that shaped "Grandpa" and "Grandma" into who they are. They may be young again, but their experiences and the environment in which they grew up are more responsible for defining them than whatever their physical ages may be.

Ine and Shouzou
Only one way to find out.

There's no shortage of anime characters who are actually old but appear young. In addition to reincarnations, I'm including characters in comedies who look inexplicably youthful for no logical reason and those with extraordinary long lives due to magic or other supernatural forces. Compared to them, Jii-san Baa-san Wakagaeru is much more successful at making me believe Shouzou and Ine are actually elderly. All too often, finding out Ms. Teenage Girl in some anime is supposed to 300 years old has no impact. "Sure, if you say so." Does this mean Grandpa and Grandma Turn Young Again is a good show? Eh, it's better than I was expecting at least. It doesn't seem to be especially popular, but maybe everyone is afraid it's going to explore if octogenarians can get pregnant.


14 May 2024: I still like Konosuba

Aqua and Kazuma
The balloons are a nice touch.

Since I enjoyed the first two seasons and also agreed the movie deserved its high praise, I didn't have a good reason to worry that I wouldn't like Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 3 (KONOSUBA -God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! 3). Still, I felt the latest installment from the franchise (the Megumin spinoff) faltered a bit, and it's not uncommon for sequels to underperform compared to their predecessors. Thankfully, the third season of Konosuba continues to highlight what makes it good: Lousy people being shitty to each other.

Megumin, Darkness, Aqua
It's not easy being Lalatina.

Well, they're not all lousy people, and they're not always shitty to each other. Notably, I guess I can't characterize Darkness that way, at least not in the way Aqua, Kazuma, and Megumin easily fit that description. Darkness is only lousy when the series continues to beat her masochist drum. Repeating that joke too much is one of the most notable failing of Konosuba as a series. However, I'm pleased the third season has refrained from overplaying that gag. In fact, Darkness actually gets some much-needed expansions to her character. She's now the decent, apologetic person who has to constantly corral her unruly and irreverent friends. Poor Lalatina, you don't deserve this. Still, watching you woefully suffer is a good change of pace from your usual shtick.


7 May 2024: I like Unnamed Memory even though it feels rushed

Tinasha
You can tell "teenage" Tinasha has work to do because she's wearing gloves..

Unnamed Memory is about a prince who can't get anyone pregnant without killing her. This is because of a curse, not because of any inherent baby-making quirks and features driving him. At least that's what the witch who cursed him said. I don't think he's actually tested it. Anyway, his proposed solution involves impregnating a powerful witch (a different witch) who can withstand his cursed precious bodily fluids instead of queuing up unsuspecting or risk-happy regular-type women and hoping for the best, or seeing if a baby can gestate in a box. (The witch can survive the curse because of her powerful magic, not because she's built up a tolerance to iocane sperm.) It's basically that Re:Zero comic asking if witches can get pregnant, if you think too much about it.

Tinasha and Oscar
Don't let the height-difference antis find out about this 'ship.

Tinasha, the witch in question, looks like a teenage girl when he initially propositions her, but this doesn't seem to factor into his request in any way. It's fine. She's old. Maybe not Frieren old, but old enough to mention Oscar Lyeth Increatos Loz Farsas (the prince dude) bears a resemblance to his great-grandfather when he was the same age. It doesn't matter, since Tinasha ages up to a more 20-something appearance shortly thereafter because of Reasons, and she's going to work on removing his curse the magic way anyway. Don't worry about it.

Lucrezia, Tinasha, and Oscar
I guess she's not that short.

I was expecting a dumber light-novel tone from this setup, but the show has been surprisingly all right so far. It does feel rushed, though, as if the anime adaptation may be blowing through the source material. Another possibility is maybe the books contain more insights into the characters' inner thoughts that aren't reflected in the show. In any case, I feel as if there hasn't been sufficient on-screen attention to developing the relationship between Tinasha and Oscar. Most of their scenes together involved verbal sparring, so it's not as if he's been trying to sweet talk her. Their testy exchanges don't quite work as romantic banter, and if you subscribe to the theory that the most effective way to court a woman is to be an asshole, he hasn't been doing that either.

Tinasha
I don't think "adult" Tinasha looks much different.

For now, I'm going to chalk it up to the limitations of the single-cours anime framework that plagues us, and appreciate that the show is still interesting despite its faults. There's also the looming possibility everything we've observed in the series thus far is false or manipulated. We know memories in this world can be untrustworthy (because of witches fucking with them), and there's no way to know this predicament doesn't extend to the main cast. There's also the matter of Tina's claim that she can't reverse time, which honestly only raises a lot of questions already answered by her claim that she can't reverse time.