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29 November 2022: I look forward to Bocchi the Rock! and Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo the most each week

Ikuyo and Hitori
I wonder if she has her eyes open.

I look forward to Bocchi the Rock! each week because it's excellent, not because I'm anticipating big surprises or anxiously awaiting the resolution of cliffhangers. If I thought about it some more, I could probably reasonably chart out how the rest of the season is going to go, but it doesn't matter. The key to Bocchi's tremendous appeal is its impeccable execution. This is a great show, top to bottom, back to front.

Suletta and Miorine
Despite what you might think, this gesture is definitely threatening.

I'm not quite prepared to call Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury) a great show even though it's also doing everything well so far. Nevertheless, I do look forward to each episode even more than I look forward to Bocchi the Rock! each week. I think the biggest contributing factor is that Witch Gundam has greater potential for unpredictable (and unsettling) developments. Even though it's been good so far, basically anything can happen because it's Gundam and because there aren't really any constraints on the possible directions the story may take.

Chuatury
Chu-squared is one of the good people, okay.

In light of this distinction, is it worth pointing out Bocchi the Rock! is about a character with anxiety, whereas Witch Gundam is about generating anxiety in the viewer? I suppose it's not really about generating anxiety, but I don't think I'm alone in experiencing some apprehension as to how the series will play out. I do mean this in a good way, though. Consequently, on some level, this means I look forward to Bocchi the Rock! each week because I'm eager to see good things to happen to good people, while I look forward to Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury because I'm concerned bad things might happen to good people.


22 November 2022: Collecting Kantai with the ships you have

Shigure
I like Shigure because she has nice hair.

Is it necessary to watch the first season of Kantai Collection before watching the current anime? No, but it turns out the answer is no for an atypical reason: Because it wouldn't help. This is to say that my ignorance of Kancolle as a franchise—despite having watched the first anime nearly EIGHT YEARS AGO still leaves me with an incomplete understanding about KanColle: Itsuka Ano Umi de (KanColle: Let's Meet at Sea). I've also watched the movie. That doesn't help, either.

Mogami
I might have recognized you if you had more fan art.

Through three episodes (it started late), there's nothing I remember of the previous Kancolle anime that would assist me with the second season. What would really help is a greater understanding of the video game. I would probably also benefit from being more familiar with the actual ships and the naval battles they joined. As it is, I am less invested in the show and its events than I think it wants me to be.

Shigure
Looks humid.

This is not to say that the anime is confusing or difficult to follow, though. The plot so far is straightforward and the characters' motivations are not unclear. What I'm missing are ties to the characters themselves, since I basically don't know any of them. Shigure, the lead, I only know because an old anime blogger used to post about her regularly. She seems okay, but I don't expect to be as moved as I might otherwise be if the season really does turn out to be about her survivor's guilt.

Kongou
Are you going to die this season?

Of course, I don't genuinely know if an emotional connection with these boats is really going to be necessary to get the most out of the long-awaited second season of Kantai Collection. The opening episodes have had a much more serious tone and higher stakes than what I remember of the first season. This could change, but we're quite a distance away at the moment from curry battles and friends who poi all day and POI POI POI all night. Kongou did briefly appear in the most recent episode, though. Maybe her BURNING LOVE remains unquenched.


15 November 2022: Imagine SPY x FAMILY without spies or family

Yor
Yor doesn't have anything to do in this show.

SPY x FAMILY is one of those well-made shows that I inevitably lose interest in despite not having any major complaints about it. Basically, the same thing happened as I was reading the manga, too. I just stopped one day and didn't really miss it. I suppose the series simply doesn't align that well with the sorts of things that I like despite not having any critical faults of its own.

Anya and Becky
I said Anya-focused school antics.

Well, I guess I do dislike Yor's brother. He's certainly my least favorite part of the anime thus far. And there's a Loid-obsessed lady who will appear later. She's not great either. Really, I think I would be satisfied with nothing but Anya-focused school antics. Maybe getting kidnapped less often, but still trying to do Anya-type things with her mind-reading abilities despite her efforts not always necessarily going to plan. I'd be okay with a show like that.


8 November 2022: I find Chainsaw Man more interesting than Golden Kamuy

Sugimoto and Asirpa
That is the sort of suspicious look reserved for strangers who don't eat brains.

Golden Kamuy is a good anime based on a great manga. The adaptation is fairly straightforward, and the series is now in its fourth season, with more than 40 episodes completed. Anyone still watching it has probably been with the show since the beginning or has at least read the manga. In my case, I believe this is the first time I've been ahead of the anime relative to how much I've read, even though my progress is governed by the release schedule of the English-language version published by VIZ. (The original run completed earlier this year.)

Denji
Relax, he gets better.

I suspect knowing what happens has dampened my enthusiasm for the Golden Kamuy anime somewhat. Although it's still good, an important part of the experience in the past has been my constant bewilderment at some of the unpredictable mishaps facing our intrepid (and not so intrepid) menagerie of heroes and misanthropes. In contrast, I don't know jack shit about Chainsaw Man.

Power
She did knock.

Well, I do know that the manga is wildly popular. I also know one of the characters who hasn't appeared in the anime yet dies. I was expecting a lot of fighting and shounen jive, but I was at least informed ahead of time that it does not have tournaments, so that's a plus.

Makima
Makima seems like a nice lady.

Through six episodes of the fourth season of Golden Kamuy and five episodes of Chainsaw Man, the former is doing well at all the things I expect it to do well, thanks to the strength of its source material. The latter is intriguing and features people being weird and stupid, but in amusing ways. Not surprisingly, it does have chainsaws, but there also seems to be less shounen jive than I was expecting. I'm still uncertain what the show is actually about, but I am more entertained than I thought I would be. I probably still won't bother reading the Chainsaw Man manga, though.

[Update: Via ANN, "Golden Kamuy Season 4 Delays Remaining Episodes Due to Staff Member's Passing."]


1 November 2022: Bocchi the Rock! is excellent even though there's basically no ROCK yet

Ikuyo and Hitori
Not just "no," but "Hell no."

As it turns out, Bocchi the Rock! doesn't have anything to do with either SHOW BY ROCK!! or Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu. Maybe it was obvious to everyone else, but I don't actually know anything about SHOW BY ROCK!! or Hitoribocchi. Anyway, Bocchi the Rock! does star a girl named Hitori, but the Bocchi nickname is something she picks up later after joining a band, which is no mean feat for someone with crippling social anxiety.

Hitori
You might think she's just wasted one, but there are ways to reuse these.

Notably, that crippling social anxiety is the reason why "Bocchi" joined a band to begin with. You see, she's unsatisfied with her isolation and regards this move as way to change her lot. She is behind schedule, but at least this has provided her with additional time to improve her guitar skills. Through four episodes, it's apparent she's really good, even though her band mates haven't quite noticed yet.

Ryou and Hitori
Wait, are you drinking coffee and ice water at the same time?

At some point, her secret identity as a reasonably popular guitar-playing YouTuber is going to pay off, presumably as she overcomes the challenge of playing as a band in sync with the other members (as opposed to entirely alone, the only way she has ever played guitar thus far). She also seems fairly adept at coming up with new songs on the spot as long as she's not thinking about it.

Hitori
I should have embedded a video clip of this, because a screenshot doesn't do the sequence justice.

I'm probably portraying Bocchi the Rock! as if it's a serious show, but it is actually a comedy. (It's based on a 4-koma.) More importantly, it is also genuinely funny. Moreover, the production values as a whole are excellent and really go a long way towards selling various gags. I suspect, without them, bits related to Hitori's intense insecurity would come across as sad or uncomfortable instead of endearing.


25 October 2022: Akiba Maid War was maid for me

Nagomi and Ranko
Nagomi is the main character, right?

Akiba Maid Sensou (Akiba Maid War) is fantastic. I initially had some reservations, but I gave it a try because it's an original anime and because I like the character designer. Maybe I didn't investigate the available information closely enough, or maybe the series was somewhat secretive about its content. Either way, I was mostly unprepared for what the show was actually going to be like.

Maids
I thought the show would be more like this most of the time.

As it turns out, Akiba Maid War is wild. Familiarity with the various stereotypes being smashed together probably would help to some degree, but it's likely not strictly necessary for one's enjoyment. It does seem this type of show is not for everyone, though, but at least curious viewers will probably be reasonably certain fairly quickly whether or not they are one of these people. At a minimum, any doubt will disappear by the end of the first episode.

Ranko
This is a spoiler, but it's probably only a spoiler if I tell you it's a spoiler.
P.S. Spoilers.

Through three episodes, Akiba Maid Sensou has easily exceeded any expectations I may have had for it. It will be absolutely incredible if the series can continue doing all the things it has been doing right so far. This is turning out to be an excellent anime season with a lot of good shows. Amazingly, they are also all entertaining for unrelated reasons.


18 October 2022: I can't tell who Urusei Yatsura is for

Lum and Ataru
Lum, you have no one but yourself to blame.

Despite how long I've been at least sort of aware of Urusei Yatsura as a property that exists, I've never really known anything about it. I knew it well enough to recognize Lum, but remained ignorant about essentially every other part of it.

Lum
Service.

In fact, I'm inclined to believe anything of substance that I did know about it came from a small mention in this blog post that SDS wrote a decade ago. Consequently, I didn't really know what to make of the news that the anime was returning for 2022, with Uesaka Sumire voicing Lum, no less.

Shinobu
The first time I saw this gag was in Love Hina, but I guess this must have come earlier.

Having watched the first episode now, the series seems sort of anachronistic. I don't mean that it's dated, but it does very much feel like a product of a different time. This is hardly surprising, considering the original manga began in 1978 and ended in 1987. The whole thing predates Heisei, let alone Reiwa. I don't know if the new anime is remaining true to the source material, but it feels as if it is, at least based on my aforementioned impressions that it's from a different time.

Lum and Ataru
Y'know, your two species probably can't procreate together.

Thus, it's not clear to me who is actually watching the new Urusei Yatsura. Is it aimed at new fans who are unfamiliar with the original? Or is it for older fans who loved the original manga and/or the 1981 anime and are eager to recapture some of that ol' Showa magic? When it comes to nostalgia, I tend to believe fans are often better off not revisiting things they loved in their youth—at least without being emotionally prepared to confront the reality that can often sour the experience.

Ataru
Land lines! Rotary phones!

It's not at all uncommon to discover that cartoons we loved as children were, in fact, really not all that good. This is not to say that Urusei Yatsura 2022 will produce the same sort of reactions. Hell, maybe it's better than ever. I haven't seen a lot of impressions of the first episode—good or bad—but probably that's just because I'm not adjacent to the sort of audiences that will either enthusiastically embrace (or violently reject) the new Urusei Yatsura anime.


11 October 2022: Akulas is not Bakarina

Aileen
If you were really pulling on her arms, those gloves would slip off and she would escape.

First of all, I don't even know if anyone is actually referring to Akuyaku Reijou nano de Last Boss wo Kattemimashita (I'm the Villainess so I'm Taming the Final Boss) as Akulas. Hell, probably as many viewers thought of Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijō ni Tensei Shiteshimatta... (My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!) as either Hamehura or Hamefura as they did Bakarina. These light novel titles are an absolute nightmare.

Lilia
Lilia seems really boring and irrelevant, so I'm expecting some huge twist later.

ANYWAY, Akulas, like Bakarina, is an isekai about a girl who reincarnates as a villainess character from a video game that she's been playing. The series is about her efforts to avoid the unfortunate fate that she remembers her character ultimately suffering in the game. Then something-something "the friends we made along the way."

Claude
You can tell he's supposed to be the evil one because of the way he's dressed.

Consequently, comparisons between Akulas and Bakarina are natural, although the two series don't appear to have much else in common, at least not through the first three episodes of Akuyaku Reijou nano de Last Boss wo Kattemimashita. As far as differences go, the Akulas lead is trying to team up with the game world's end boss (who inadvertently kills her character in the game), whereas Bakarina herself concentrates primarily on reversing her inherited character's reputation for being a cunt.

Cedric
Way to fuck it up, you stupid asshole. Now you're left with nothing. Nothing!
Nothing except for your wealth, power, and the girl who you wanted to marry.

Notably, Aileen from I'm the Villainess so I'm Taming the Final Boss seems much more intelligent than Catarina from My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! who—bless her heart—is dumb as all Hell. As far as the shows themselves go, I watched two seasons of Bakarina, and still like it enough that I guess I would still watch more. Thanks to its early start, I'm already a quarter of the way through Akulas. It seems all right, but I'm not especially interested in it. I don't really have any complaints about the series; it's just not my thing. But maybe Lilia will stab someone in the neck later.