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26 May 2020: My Bakarina 'ship is a harem

Catarina
It's not easy being rich.

While a significant number of shows from the Spring 2020 anime season are delayed, Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta… (My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!) marches on. Hamehura (alternatively Hamefura, but really now: Bakarina) is a solid adaptation of the popular web novel turned light novel. I've enjoyed the manga adaptation as well, thanks to some great character designs and relentless mugging which the anime sensibly adopts as well.

Mary and Maria
Relax, ladies, it's fine.

As for the show itself, the Bakarina anime features our clueless antagonist's ongoing efforts at avoiding either exile or a grisly demise, all while entirely ignorant that she's actually the protagonist now and entirely too successful at currying favor among her peers and erstwhile rivals. Clueless love interests in harem anime are nothing new (see, for example, Ichika in IS <:Infinite Stratos>), but I find Bakarina herself an amusing character and sort of endearing. At a minimum, that differentiates her from Potato-kun from such-and-such series quite a bit.

Catarina
Fruits Basket face.

If I had to identify why this distinction exists, I want to say it's because those typical harem comedy protagonists who remain oblivious to all the potential love interests hurling their undergarments at them tend to be in that position solely because the story says that's just the way it is, and not as a result of any qualities or efforts on their parts—at least not in any reasonable capacity. Catarina Claes, on the other hand, is fully committed to making sure all of these other characters like her as much as possible and get along with each other as well. That she doesn't realize she has already long accomplished this and is on the verge of collapsing her world into a harem comedy singularity sort of makes me like her too.


19 May 2020: I'm reading the In/Spectre manga

In/Spectre volumes 01, 02, and 03
Iwanaga is not a chuuni. She's probably just re-adjusting her eye.

Although I really enjoyed the In/Spectre (Kyokō Suiri, or Invented Inference) anime, I was surprised at long the "Steel Lady Nanase" arc lasted. (Specifically, it takes up the entire rest of the cours once it starts.) I'm reading the manga now, and these volumes include afterwords by the original author that shed light on the situation.

In/Spectre volumes 04, 05, and 06
Despite appearance, Kuro is also not a chuuni. He is tsundere for his own girlfriend, though.

Kyokou Suiri was originally one book. This received a manga adaptation which spanned six volumes. The author claims he gave the mangaka essentially full control over the visuals and a lot of latitude to apply appropriate changes while adapting the book to manga form. This hands-off approach seems to have worked, as the manga proved popular enough to inspire the original author to write more stories (while lamenting the Invented Inference title no longer really fit the subject matter of the later material).

In/Spectre volumes 07, 08, and 09
Iwanaga is wearing a school uniform because one of the stories takes place while she was in high school.

Notably, the original author (Shirodaira Kyo) wrote the subsequent material as short stories, rather than collaborating with the mangaka (Katase Chasiba) to produce scripts for the manga, reasoning that doing things differently at this point could inadvertently disrupt the chemistry of whatever it was that made the manga adaptation of the original book turn out so well. Well, he wasn't wrong. The five volumes following the "Steel Lady Nanase" arc are at least as good, if not better.

In/Spectre volumes 10 and 11
Rikka's not dead, she just looks like that.

As you may have guessed, the In/Spectre anime is itself an adaptation of the manga, and not a separate adaptation of the original book (which I've not had an opportunity to read). As adaptations go, it's very close, really only moving the arc with the giant snake so that it takes place before the Steel Lady Nanase arc instead of after it. I don't know if there are any plans to produce a sequel to the anime, but there is certainly enough source material to support one. All of the subsequent stories in the volumes I've read are shorter than the Steel Lady Nanase one, but at least three of them are long enough to span multiple episodes. Thankfully, the longest of these concluded at the end of volume 11, instead of with a cliffhanger leaving the reader waiting until the release of volume 12—that one won't be out until the end of August.


12 May 2020: Log Horizon isn't funny

Minori and Akatsuki
Minori and Akatsuki realize they are rivals.

I finished my re-watch of Log Horizon. It did not go as well as I was expecting. I remembered liking the series more in the past. Objectively, this is still true. I know this because I keep track of my ratings for individual anime episodes on a spreadsheet. (This was originally a joke, but then I kept doing it. See this, for example.) So I can technically quantify numerically specifically how much liked the series more in the past, even though I didn't score the second season very high to begin with. In any case, I liked the series less overall the second time around. That's not doing the upcoming third season any favors. There are two basic problems I have with the anime.

Lenessia and Crusty
You know you like it.

First, none of the jokes work for me. This includes the recurring gags involving Naotsugu and Akatsuki. There wasn't a reason to repeat them beyond the first episode. Then Tetora shows up in the second season. And fuuuck, Tetora is not amusing. None of those jokes work either. The other problem is the inverse relationship between the characters' reported ages and the maturity levels of their behavior. Well, at least that's the way it seems for the girls.

Nyanta and Serara
I seriously thought Serara was 12.

The worst offenders are Marielle (28), Henrietta (28), and Serara (16). Marielle is whiny and petulant, constantly throwing literal tantrums about the work she has to do. (She's sort of in charge.) Henrietta is obsessed with molesting Akatsuki and does so at every opportunity. Serara is the nekosexual girl who really, really, really likes Nyanta. All of these characters and their behavior are played for laughs. None of it is funny. On the other hand, Minori is only 14, and the princess who ends up saving her kingdom when the men in charge couldn't get their shit together is only 15. Presumably they'll be older during season three, though. Maybe they'll become less mature in keeping with the rest of the show.


5 May 2020: It turns out there is more to Gleipnir than exquisitely detailed brassieres

Clair
Not a whole lot of anime characters with freckles.

I would not call Gleipnir lewd even though its lead girl has spent most of the first five episodes with her clothes off. (The rest of the time, she's usually in the process of removing her clothes.) The show is lurid, though. Frankly, I'm finding this sort of extremely overt fan service rather refreshing. It's a nice contrast to some of the inflexible attitudes I seem to encounter on the Twitter occasionally. In any case, it's starting to look like Gleipnir actually has a lot going on. In fact, probably too much going on to wrap up in a single cours considering five episodes have already passed, and the show is only just now getting started with a plot of any sort.

Clair and Shuichi
This is good way to get a lot of bug bites, Clair.

From the looks of it, the Gleipnir anime is also about to add a bunch of new characters (who won't necessarily live long). Seeing as how the original manga appears to still be ongoing, I'm guessing the anime is going to conclude with a non-ending ending unless it proves popular enough to get successive seasons. I don't know if I'm going to care about any of these new characters, but I'm hoping they'll bring more to the series than Potato-kun has so far. At least Clair is interesting. After all, she has gotten less suicidal and her brassieres are exquisitely detailed.

28 April 2020: Tamayomi v. Major 2nd S2

Yomi
I don't know why she's wearing a Suzuki hat.

Based on the promotional materials leading up to the Spring 2020 anime season, I expected Tamayomi to be a show more about "cute girls doing cute things" than a show about baseball. Its source material is a Manga Time Kirara property, and besides, the characters play in shorts. Sure enough, the series turned out to be more about friendship and fan-service lesbianism than baseball. It's not a bad series, although it helps to really enjoy that sort of show. The baseball parts were also depicted reasonably well. Unfortunately, production levels were never especially high, and started declining immediately. By episode four, the animation had all but collapsed, presumably at least partially due to impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Anita, Chisato, Seira, Sakura, Yayoi, Tao, Akira
They're gonna need more players.

Having watched the previous seven seasons of Major, I was much more confident about Major 2nd S2. Through the first four episodes, it has turned out to be as good as I was expecting. I was also pleasantly surprised by its focus on female characters. Girls playing baseball have appeared in previous installments of Major fairly often, but they've always been the minority. However, season two of Major 2nd is about a team that has six girls in the starting lineup. There are only nine players so far, so it's unclear where this will go from here, but it's a welcome new direction for the franchise. Unfortunately, production has stalled due to the pandemic, with no date announced yet for its return.

Tamaki and Yomi
Financial questions aside, Tamayomi should probably go on hiatus.

Curiously, I don't believe Tamayomi has announced any planned delays yet, although it probably should. Episode four was dire. I'm not especially confident episode five will fare much better. In any case, I've already dropped the show. I'm not specifically dropping it because of the animation, although that certainly isn't helping. Rather, I just don't find the show particularly compelling, and there are plenty of other titles in my backlog I could be watching instead. (See this post for more on that.)


21 April 2020: Something something DATABASE [or] re-watching Log Horizon

Shiroe
That collar would be so uncomfortable

Log Horizon is much, much better than typical isekai fare. However, as an anime, it's perhaps not as entertaining as people make it out to be. I suspect it's probably better as a book. This is my second time watching the anime, and I like it about the same now as I did originally, but there are definitely parts of it I find less interesting than others. There is a lot of info-dumping, for example, and there are a few arcs that I simply don't care about, such as kids learning the hard way how to be adventurers because nobody will listen to Minori.

Isuzu
I guess he's fine when he doesn't talk.

With regard to that particular arc, Log Horizon deliberately made the boys shounen-type dipshits in order to make Minori a more sympathetic character. I guess it's working, because Minori is the only member of that party I care about. I appreciate that Rudy has an actual character arc, but he was way too annoying in the beginning. It was unrecoverable. It also helped that Shiroe reached out to Minori instead of her brother when the two of them were slaves in an MMORPG sweatshop. I guess he liked her better, too.

Minori
Minori getting shit done.

The mentoring Shiroe provides to Minori, her shounen-type dipshit brother, and other characters does make Shiroe more likable. Most fans of the show point to Shiroe's various schemes and plans when identifying his attributes, but I think those are less important than his penchant for helping people. I mean, the craftiness is neat, too, but I think that aspect gets overstated when fans highlight the elements that differentiate Log Horizon from other isekai anime. The problem is you'll run up against a bunch of questions you're meant to ignore if you think too hard about how those plans of his work out. In comparison, despite being simple and straightforward, the mentoring thing remains compelling because other shows often try to prop up their protagonists by focusing on how great they are at everything. (For example, consider Kirito from Sword Art Online.) Conversely, Shiroe's whole shtick is that he makes other people better.

Henrietta and Akatsuki
Henrietta's relentless harassment is fine because they're both girls, right?

There are a lot of characters in Log Horizon, and I like most of the ones who are not shounen-type dipshits, but I could do without the jokes some of them are stuck with. For example, every gag involving Akatsuki. It's a shame, because I'd probably like Akatsuki quite a bit without them. She's at least a fan favorite even despite those tired jokes.

Lenessia
They definitely just wanted to dress up the princess in ridiculous clothes.

I do wish Log Horizon explored the NPCs more, though. I'm more interested in how they handle sharing their world with immortal superbeings. The show does address this to some degree, but still think it deserves more attention. Perhaps there is a stronger focus on this in the books, and I'll get my wish when season three starts in October. Well, if it starts in October. Just don't put all the attention on shounen-type dipshit NPCs, okay.


14 April 2020: At least I'm not buying three copies of each disc—well, not deliberately, anyway

< Evirus> I remember hardsubbed signs on Nadesico DVDs which I still own.
< Evirus> Actually, still the last way I ever watched Nadesico. I've still never opened my Blu-rays.
<@Divine> It sounds like you have more unopened blurays than ones you've actually watched
< Evirus> This may, in fact, be the case.

With things the way they are now, you would think I'd be making some progress through my stack of unopened Blu-rays and DVDs, or my backlog of unwatched shows and planned re-watches. However, it turns out I already watch so much anime on a weekly basis that any additional free time get quickly consumed by all the other things that get displaced by anime watching and the pursuit of anime accessories.

Ayame and Yukina
Why are you wearing such a heavy jacket, Yukina?
Is it so you can dramatically strip it off later?

I do still see value in purchasing physical media, though. I think most people recognize that the oh-so-convenient streaming-based environment that we have presently is also somewhat capricious and occasionally prone to confounding moments of unavailability. The landscape itself is also less than ideal. For example, I was able to watch the Koutetsujou no Kabaneri compilation movies on the Crunchyroll, but I had to switch to the Netflix to watch the third movie.

Hopefully, all of these Blu-rays and DVDs will still be playable when I finally do get around to watching them. I have had CD-Rs die on me, but I haven't yet had an actual CD, DVD, or Blu-ray fail on me yet providing they've been properly handled and stored. (And not counting Manga Entertainment's End of Evangelion fiasco.)

Mumei
You know things are serious when bayonets are involved.

I plan to continue buying Blu-rays of shows I like, even if the odds I'll ever actually watch them seem sort of low. I guess I am at least less likely to buy Blu-rays on release now, unless I really like the show. Since there's a good chance I won't watch them for years, it makes more financial sense to wait until the price drops later. The exception to this, however, are my occasional imports of Japanese releases, since they typically pack in a bunch of cool extras—something I wish U.S. releases would include more often, even if the prices increase.


7 April 2020: I finally finished Dimension W

Dimension W manga volume 16 cover
The glow-in-the dark covers are a nice touch.

The Dimension W anime ran for 12 episodes during the Winter 2016 anime season. I liked it a lot more than I was expecting—specifically, good enough that I started buying the manga. It took four years, but I have the final (16th) volume now. This took a bit longer than I would have liked, but the manga itself was still ongoing when the anime ended. (The manga completed in June 2019.) Ideally, there would be less time between when an anime ends and when its source material wraps up. I, for one, would much rather watch original anime or adaptations of properties that have already concluded, but those types of shows do seem to be in the minority. At least four years no longer seems like an extraordinary amount of time to wait after an anime stops airing before finding out how the series ends. I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good thing, though. I have to admit it's a little troubling to notice how fast years seem to whip by now.