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2 March 2021: Yuru Camp△ SEASON 2 is the best anime of Winter 2021 not featuring self-harm

Nadeshiko
I appreciate Nadeshiko's apparent immunity to fatigue.

Surprising no one who watched the first season, Yuru Camp△ SEASON 2 remains fantastic. I don't actually watch a lot of shows that I would expect to be similar in terms of tone and content, such as Yama no Susume (Encouragement of Climb), or Non Non Biyori, but perhaps I should, considering how much I enjoy Yuru Camp△. Then again, the majority of my interest in the show unmistakably centers around Rin specifically, and her various camping-related efforts. I mean, I like all the other characters too, but significantly less so, and I'm fairly sure this perspective is nearly universal among fans of the show.

Rin
So what happens if you do the suspension bridge thing alone?

Actually, there is one other character I know some Yuru Camp△ fans seem to like a lot: Nadeshiko's older sister, Sakura. For years now, Yuru Camp△ fan art has featured a lot of Rin x Sakura 'shipping. (Admittedly, it is one prolific artist who dominates this scene.) I found this pairing a little peculiar, since the two characters interacted basically not at all in the first season. Best I could figure, it was either in reference to something that developed later on in the source material, or ardent fans fabricated it whole cloth.

Sakura and Rin
You know, people would have lost their minds if Sakura
had been Nadeshiko's older brother instead.

Presuming the anime is adapting the original manga (as opposed to inventing stories to bolster the anime-tourism economy), it seems we've at least reached the genesis of this particular movement. I don't actually expect Yuru Camp△ to expand this meeting into a genuine romance, though. Fan enthusiasm aside, I really don't think it's that sort of show. Sorry, 'shippers, I'm pretty sure Sakura and Rin aren't going to be tearing each other's clothes off in a tent anytime soon. Besides, Rin wears a million layers even when she's napping by a space heater while she's ostensibly working in a library; she's probably wearing two million layers when she's camping in the winter.


23 February 2021: Back Arrow is full of idiots

Shuu, Bit, and Sola
Here is the stupidest character flanked by the smartest one and the second-smartest one.

I think I enjoy Back Arrow, but these characters are all so dumb. I mean, they're supposed to be, for comedic effect, but it's sort of extraordinary. The villagers are the worst offenders. The series introduces one of the main characters in the first episode by having her rescue—at the last possible second—a child who pretends to accidentally fall off a cliff because she enjoys the thrill of being saved in mid-air. Later, an amnesiac plummets from the sky in a pod. The villagers assume it contains food and start a large fire under it to cook its contents (without checking to see what's in it first). This inspires the pod's mysterious passenger to leap out and create a ruckus. If this is how the village prepares all of its meals, remind me to never eat there.

Ren
Actually, the lady with the fucked-up bangs is probably second-smartest.

Anyway, this is the sort of cartoonish logic that governs the characters' behavior. But at some point, Back Arrow just needs to ditch these villagers. First of all, they worship The Wall because they're superstitious nincompoops. And they are literally dead weight. Like, they're all on this massive mobile battle fortress, and none of them figured out how to turn on the lights. They're still huddling in tents and burning wood to stay warm instead of just taking up inside the dreadnought's living quarters. Maybe they're distrustful of these accommodations because their captive was the one who informed them of these facilities and the galley (which they're also not using, of course, but I've already gone over their culinary failures). Again, this is all done for laughs, but I don't think the gags are going to stay amusing enough to justify dragging these hicks around for two cours. Especially Bit. Fuckin' hate Bit. Kid's worthless.


16 February 2021: This is an IDOLY PRIDE spoiler, but I don't think it matters anymore

Mana
"I can see my house from here."

There are plenty of other shows I'm watching that I should probably write about instead, but y'all getting an IDOLY PRIDE update instead. Deal with it. Okay, so after six episodes, I don't know why there is a ghost. Mana gives Makino someone to talk to, but there's no reason why she needs to be dead. She could have just retired, or started her own production company instead, or any number of other options. Or she could still have died, but not returned as a ghost. So far, Mana returning as a ghost has had no meaningful impact on the story.

Mana and Makino
I wonder if Mana can change her outfit.

And we do have confirmation that she's an actual ghost (as opposed to a hallucination). One of the other idols can see her, although they haven't continued interacting after the episode with the initial revelation. If we're racking and stacking idols in the show, I do like Mana best, so I appreciate having her around, but I was sort of expecting her whole phantasmness to have a bigger role in shaping the IDOLY PRIDE lore. As far as I can tell, there aren't even any other ghosts in IDOLY PRIDE—former idols or otherwise.


9 February 2021: SK∞ has a lot of skating but not a lot of dying

Adam
This does seem more fun than pointless meetings with morons.

I'm pleasantly surprised at how SK∞ (SK8 the Infinity) is turning out. It's not quite a sports anime even though it does focus on the colorful participants of a secret, possibly illegal skateboard race. (It's sort of a poorly kept secret, honestly.) A significant portion of the racers are successful adult men who have other shit going on when they aren't skating for glory. I was originally expecting the more prominently featured high school kid to be the main character, but his Canadian transfer student friend seems more important so far.

Reki, Langa, Miya, and Shadow
Reki's injuries are so bad he'll probably be bandaged for two episodes.

After five episodes, Skate Dio has emerged as the primary antagonist our valiant skaters must overcome. There's a significant amount of intimidation steering their approaches to this effort, but it's not clear to me what stakes are really at risk. Obviously, skateboarding is dangerous, but avoiding serious injury seems basically assured thanks to the protective embrace of plot-expedient contrivances. And it's not as if Skate Dio is actively trying to murder his competitors. Dude's just out for a good time away from the stuffy pinheads at work.

@AnimeTribunal: Also if ADAM is Dio, then we need a second season with skateboarding pillar men


2 February 2021: I probably would have dropped Tenchi Souzou Design-bu by now if it weren't so informative

Shimoda
The design of the collar is a neat touch.

Tenchi Souzou Design-bu (Heaven’s Design Team) is mildly amusing, but it comes out on Thursday. I'm still following entirely too many shows this season, and Thursday has the biggest lineup. Naturally, the sensible thing to do is...just not watch it on Thursday. After all, I don't expect this to be a show where spoilers are going to matter much. Nevertheless, what's probably going to happen is I'm going to put off watching its future episodes until later, and then I'll forget or just not get around to them and it'll be effectively dropped.

Tsuchiya and Higuchi
See. Informative.

I could just drop it outright, but each week there's some nugget of information or a gag that's just good enough to convince me to watch more. To be honest, Tenchi Souzou Design-bu is not as entertaining as the "True Facts" videos by zefrank1, but these episodes are still sort of educational. I also like Hara Yumi, whose character appears to have gotten herself into a bit of trouble at the end of the last episode, so I'm assured to stick around for at least one more. Hey, cliffhangers work, okay.


26 January 2021: I could tell you about all the good anime I'm watching this season, or I could tell you about IDOLY PRIDE instead

Kotono
We can tell you're the kid sister because you look the same except for having darker hair.

Actually, wait, IDOLY PRIDE is pretty good too, or at least it is for sufficiently generous definitions of good. I started watching IDOLY PRIDE because it was described as an original anime and the PV made the show seem oddly sincere. Meaning, I was expecting a brand new entry into the idol wars to lean more on a gimmick of some sort. (See, for example, this season's Gekidol and its gimmick.) However, it looked as if IDOLY PRIDE would simply be a straightforward show about idols trying their best. [Spoilers: It is not.]

Kouhei and Mana
She is sort of distracting.

So yeah, there is a gimmick. (Spoilers from here on out.) One of the idols is a ghost. Well, not one of the idols in the troupe, but there is a ghost. Specifically, it's the older sister of the dour idol who has main-character hair. However, the only one who can see or hear her is her old manager (a former classmate from high school) who is now in charge of a lot of rookie idols. I'll need to go back and re-watch some scenes to be sure, but I suspect it's also entirely possible that there is no ghost and Manager Guy (Kouhei) is just cracking up. I mean, he does do that thing where he'll look in her direction and respond aloud to her while everyone else around him is deeply confused by his constant non sequiturs. I have to say that's probably a worrying trait to see in someone who is responsible for your career.

Kouhei and Mana
Mana doesn't cast reflections or shadows, but Kouhei appeared to feel her leaning on him.

Whether Mana actually is a ghost or just a constant hallucination that Kouhei can't shake, I'm enjoying the dynamic. I get the feeling a single-cours anime is not going to be long enough to get me invested in what the other idols have going on, but I am enjoying IDOLY PRIDE so far. In fact, I'm probably enjoying it somewhat disproportionately, since I'm not sure I can really characterize the show as being anything more than merely okay. Still, I'm eager to see where this is going, even though I suspect it would probably be better as a ghost-girlfriend romance than as an idol show about rookies doing their best.


19 January 2021: I guess I have to call the Mushoku Tensei anime adaptation a success

Rudeus
Would he still have ended up a shithead anyway if he didn't have incredible magic powers?

I was first introduced to Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu (Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation or Jobless Reincarnation: I Will Seriously Try If I Go To Another World) years ago when it was only a web novel. Specifically, every single thing I heard about it made it sound terrible, even from readers who enjoyed it. In particular, the protagonist (named Rudeus in his new life) sounded about as despicable as you can make a character, at least according to secondhand sources.

Rudeus and Roxy
Roxy thinks Rudy only has crippling equine anxiety.

The second episode of the anime adaptation focuses a fair amount on the trauma that led to Rudy becoming a hikkikomori in his previous life. Even as a five-year-old boy in his new life, severe anxiety prevents him from leaving his home or making eye contact with villagers in the countryside. He does seem to get over it, thanks to the assistance of his live-in magic tutor who has befriended the neighbors during the course of her stay. I suppose this does inspire some degree of sympathy, since the anime depicts the bullying he suffered from his point of view and without any context. Still, it's not clear what transpired between his school days and adulthood. We learn he gets kicked out after staying home to masturbate instead of attending his parents' funeral, but it's less clear how he got there, and it's unknown what sort of course corrections—if any—he attempted during his life before reaching that point. The bullying is not enough for me to just give him a pass. In any case, the anime hasn't dwelled too much on his past (at least not yet), probably to its benefit.

Roxy and Rudeus
I sort of think Roxy would have noticed this.

The anime does continue to portray him as a perverted child, but there's not any comedic value in it. I presume these scenes are there to help establish a baseline that includes his pre-reincarnation persona and will thereby underscore progress that he makes later in this two-cours series. I'm mostly ambivalent about Rudeus at this point, so that's relatively positive considering I was expecting to loathe him. The anime itself still looks really nice, so I imagine fans of the books must be pleased with how it's turning out. I don't know that I'm going to stick around for two cours of this, but the show seems all right so far. I was expecting more questionable creative choices in the writing, but it seems those impressions may have been web-novel baggage that Mushoku Tensei is not dragging with it into the anime, at least not so far.


12 January 2021: Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? (that spider anime) was the first show from Winter 2021 that I dropped

Kumoko
Should have anime-sized all of the spider eyes.

I first heard about Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? (So I'm a Spider, So What?) when it was a web novel. At least one person in an IRC channel I'm in was pretty enthusiastic about it, and I eventually read a few of the early chapters when an English translation became available. This was years ago, but "that spider thing" sort of always stayed on the radar as its popularity grew and it received light novel and manga adaptations. This made me optimistic about the anime, but it took only one episode for me to reject it entirely. I'm out, and I don't expect to give it another chance.

Kumoko
This should have been more disturbing.

For one thing, they gave the spider a softer, gentler, anime face instead of an actual spider face. I appreciate that a significant number of people are genuinely creeped out by spiders, and making the protagonist visually unsettling would instantly alienate a lot of its potential viewers. But I always felt as if the casual horror of the spider-girl's predicament was the source material's main draw. I really don't need yet another isekai about characters gaining new powers. In any case, the first episode lacked any sort of tension. At a minimum, I think it would have been better had it been at least disturbing to watch.

Feirune, Schlain, Filimøs, and Karnatia
Yeah, no. I'm not watching a show about these people.

Still, I think I could have gotten past that were it not for this other, more damnable flaw: Holy shit, who are these numbnuts? I'm talking about all the humans. Specifically, her teacher and fellow classmates who have also been reincarnated in this other world, except as mostly nobility (who aren't even cannibals) instead of as spiders. Based on comments I've seen on the Twitter, readers of the light novel really enjoy the human characters (or at least one of them?) and the roles they play in the story. That at least explains why they featured so prominently in the promotional materials, but I checked out instantly during their segment of the first episode. I'm sure it's fine if Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? is the only anime you're watching, but there are a lot of shows airing this season. In fact, there are probably close to 20 that are more interesting. I'm not watching all of those, but it guarantees I won't be making time for this one, at least not as it's currently airing.