Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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10 February 2020: Adding Slave Hero to Isekai Quartet hasn't ruined it yet

Naofumi and Raphtalia
"Naofumi, what are we going to do inside the Shield Prison?"

Finding out that the cast of Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari (The Rising of the Shield Hero) was joining Isekai Quartet did not exactly fill me with a lot of confidence about its second season (which inexplicably isn't called Isekai Quintet), but it's been okay so far. Then again, the Shield Hero cast hasn't been in the first four episodes very much. Most of my trepidation derives from my fairly negative impressions of Shield Hero as a show (I watched 13 episodes), my lack of interest in the characters, and the rather defensive attitude the franchise's more vocal supporters seem to adopt on the Twitter. These did not seem to be ideal additions to a comedy about characters being portrayed as dipshits.

Ainz and Aqua
Aqua is sort of racist, to tell you the truth.

Naturally, the Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! cast fits right in, because they're dipshits to begin with. Aqua is a delight—so much so that I want retcons of other Tenchan roles except portrayed as basically Aqua analogs. (For example, Asseylum Vers Allusia from Aldnoah.Zero except with Aqua's personality and intelligence. You can't tell me Slaine's tragic loyalty to Aqua Vers Allusia wouldn't have improved the second season.) Given a choice, I'll definitely take idiots like Aqua over sourpusses like Naofumi when it comes to wacky comedy crossovers.


4 February 2020: Healin' Good ♡ Precure is off to the races

Chiyu and Nodoka
Short-sleeved sweatshirts are pretty great otherwise, though.

The first episode of Healin' Good ♡ Precure covers a lot of familiar ground for anyone who has seen a fair share of Pretty Cure; this is the franchise's 15th generation since 2004. Cure Grace herself is off to a good start. Her very first attack consisted of an overly complicated kick, and I'm generally in favor of Cures who understand the value of extraneous style points. I joked in my previous post about Cure Grace being "joined by Cure Fartlek and Cure Pain Is Just Weakness Leaving the Body." Well, we do briefly meet the other girls who will become the next Cures, and Chiyu does appear to be an avid runner, so maybe we will get a Cure Fartlek this season. Never mind that she's dressed in attire only non-runners would expect actual runners to wear, at least in that weather. Sorry, if you're not wearing the least amount of clothing you can get away with without getting stared at by spinsters and police officers, I'm going to assume you're a casual jogger or a someone getting a slow start on her New Year's resolution—doubly so if you're wearing some sort of matching ensemble instead of ratty old clothes that look like shit.

Hinata
This was 100-percent your fault.

The first episode of Healin' Good ♡ Precure also briefly introduces Hinata. Based on the OP, it seems she's going to be the yellow Cure. She's done a fair amount of mugging already, so she's out in front so far as this Precure generation's Best Girl. There are a lot of stereotypes about how each "color" of Cure is supposed to behave, but I'm hoping this will evolve so that yellow represents less defensive bullshit and more...Cure Twinkle-type behavior. It is too early to tell, though, since I'm literally making tenuous predictions from a few seconds of screen time and cuts from the OP. Speaking of which, the OP is as good as you've heard from the Twitter, and the ED continues to advance the all-singing, all-dancing 3DCG agenda. It's come a long way from the Fresh Pretty Cure ED.


28 January 2020: Star☆Twinkle Precure hands the torch to Healin' Good ♡ Precure

Hikaru
There's also an epilogue again with the characters grown up.

I liked Star☆Twinkle Precure well enough, but never got particularly enthused about it. This might be a sign of general Pretty Cure burnout, since I feel this way about each Pretty Cure iteration now more often than not, but standouts like Go! Princess Precure and Hugtto! Precure still recapture my attention, so I don't think I'm necessarily tired of the franchise as a whole. In any case, Star☆Twinkle Precure was "fine" and had good parts, but overall will end up towards the bottom if I'm pressed to rank every Pretty Cure season from most-to-least favorite, alas.

Nodoka and Latte
The new Cure seems very normal.

The final episode of Star☆Twinkle Precure introduced Cure Grace, the lead Cure of its successor season, Healin' Good ♡ Precure, as the series is now wont to do. I don't actually know much about Healin' Good ♡ Precure, because I haven't been following the reports about its development or seeking out the usual buzz that precedes upcoming seasons of Pretty Cure. I don't even know what the Healin' Good ♡ part of the name references, although I'm sort of hoping it's about improving cardiovascular fitness. Maybe Cure Grace will be joined by Cure Fartlek and Cure Pain Is Just Weakness Leaving the Body. Well, I guess I do know that Cure Grace is voiced by Yuuki Aoi, but it seems she's not using her Youjo Senki voice. It's a huge missed opportunity, honestly.


21 January 2020: I'm committed to watching Railgun Tango even though I'll probably hate a lot of it

SATEN
SATEN constantly looks as if she needs a haircut, but she apparently never gets one.

There is no end to the amount of bitching I could do about Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T (A Certain Scientific Railgun T) and the Index universe as a whole. Seriously, though, it is mostly bad. Like, wall-to-wall bad. Nevertheless, I fully intend to watch both cours of Railgun 3 even though Railgun 2 was not nearly as good as Railgun 1, and it's been so long since I've seen Railgun 1 that I have to question if I would even like it as much now as I did then. (I bought the Blu-rays anyway. Still unopened.)

Kuroko and SATEN
I'm also not 100-percent sure I remember why Kuroko is in a wheelchair.

What I do know is that I still really like SATEN even though my reasons for liking her are entirely superficial. Here is a numbered list:

  1. SATEN has excellent hair. Like, for real. This is straight-up one of the biggest reasons.
  2. She's voiced by Itō Kanae, who typically uses a much more normal-sounding voice than you usually find in anime. Or at least it sounds normal to me.
  3. I get to continue writing SATEN Ruiko's surname in all capital letters (you know, like, on the Twitter) even though I've entirely forgotten why I started doing that in the first place. In any case, I've done it too long now to stop.
  4. As the only character in the main Railgun cast without superpowers, the distinction makes her the special one, I guess. I'm at least under the impression this is a big part of the reason why other SATEN fans like her—especially other SATEN fans who probably don't care about my first three reasons.

That's it. That's my list. You thought there would be five reasons, right? Because five is an honorary round number, eh. Fuck you, no it's not. Four reasons are all I need. And really I only needed the first two. SATEN's hair and Ito Kanae are wonderful.


14 January 2020: 22/7, In/Spectre, and Fate/Baby are my top three shows of the Winter 2020 anime season

Ishtar
Ishtar is a game-breaking home run.

If you believe in my B.S. episode ratings, Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia) is my highest-ranked show so far this season. Fate/Baby sure sounds great and looks fuckin' fantastic, but I can't exactly call it a good show. It's one of those anime where I can't quite care about what happens, and it probably only genuinely makes sense to people who are enthusiastic about the Fate/Grand Order game. But none of that presents much of an obstacle to my ability to enjoy the series. I mentioned that it sounds great, and that's not just because it features Ueda Kana yammering back and forth on a regular basis. The audio mix for the sound effects during the frequent battles makes for an entertaining experience if you've bothered with an audio setup that can take advantage of it. Visually, the animation also remains impeccable.

Sakura, Miu, and Reika
Welcome to to idol mines, suckers.

Thankfully, 22/7 (Nanabun no Nijyuuni) also looks good. I'm expecting some janky 3DCG bits once we get to the all-singing, all-dancing portions of this idol show, but the anime looks pretty good so far, at least. I've been medium-hyped for 22/7 for some time now, thanks to Sally Amaki being a bilingual goofball on the Twitter. I'm hoping her character gets some English lines that aren't complete non sequiturs, though. Each of the idols had a different character designer, but the styles got evened out so they look more uniform when they're together. (Like in the Pretty Cure team-up movies.) This is the sensible thing to do, but I sort of wish they could have remained unique for reasons not at all explained in the show.

Kotoko
Nice hat.

I wasn't sure what to expect from In/Spectre (Kyokou Suiri), but I knew fans of the manga were looking forward to the anime adaptation, and the trailer looked okay. The first episode was good, and I like Kotoko so far, even though she doesn't have any depth perception. She also seems to move pretty well, despite her prosthetic leg. It sort of seems as if her cane is mostly for show. Frankly, it's a little early yet to judge In/Spectre (or 22/7, for that matter), but my top three anime of Winter 2020 at the moment all have / in their titles, and this was a serendipitous bloggering opportunity I didn't want to pass up. I'm sure y'all understand.


7 January 2020: Rifle Is Beautiful misses the mark

Maho
I wonder how well those sights hold zero.

Ordinarily, you would expect me to be pretty positive about Rifle Is Beautiful (Chidori RSC). I mean, I do have a Firearms category for this blog. Unfortunately, the show fails both as a niche anime about guns and more generally as a sports anime. Regarding the first part, well, the "beam rifle" thing is just a little too niche. There are brief references in the show to air rifles, but I guess getting into that sport in Japan is barely a step removed from getting into Sensha-do.

Hikari and Izumi
Have gun. Will travel.

Failing as a sports anime is the biggest flaw in Rifle Is Beautiful, though. Specifically, none of the competitions have any tension, and I never felt invested in the outcome. Part of this is the short length of the show hampering development, but there's also no clear distinction between the good shooters and the exceptional ones. You just sort of have to take the show's word for it. Ultimately, I don't have any idea how to fix Chidori RSC. The show is not actually over yet. It seems the final episode is delayed. Ergo, there's still a chance it can turn itself around with a big finish, but I get the feeling that's something of a, uh, long shot.


31 December 2019: Ascendance of a Bookworm is good, but I've lost all interest in watching more

Main and Gunther
Did fist bumps already exists in this community or did Main introduce them?

I find the individual episodes of Honzuki no Gekokujō - Shisho ni Naru Tame niwa Shudan o Erandeiramasen (Ascendance of a Bookworm) reasonably well done, but there's something about the show as a whole that I find rather unappealing. I've never been able to precisely identify what the issue was, but now I guess I don't have to. Honzuki is getting a (split-cours) second season which starts in April, but I think I'm done with this franchise.

Main
You're not Alice. Why are you so yellow now?

So, spoilers for the first season's grand finale, but Honzuki somewhat abruptly switched from "Main's disease will eventually kill her" to "we found a solution to Main's disease, but this social class we've entirely ignored up until this very moment will capriciously kill you and your entirely family and there's nothing you can do about it unless you're strong in The Force." I don't have any problem with including these sorts of elements in a fantasy show, but the way Ascendance of a Bookworm is putting all its pieces together is not at all compelling. I'd much rather watch more chuuni magic school battle nonsense like Assassin's Pride than more Honzuki, to tell you the truth.


24 December 2019: I didn't plan to write back-to-back Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld entries

Yui
Go on, Yui, curse the bitches out.

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld has a mind of its own. Or at least, Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld is about AIs having minds of their own. Specifically, Alice Synthesis Thirty MacGuffin is the prize AI the bad men are trying to seize because she is a real girl. Never mind that Sword Art Online has had a Real Girl AI almost from the start in the form of Yui, Kirito's and Asuna's adopted daughter. Yui isn't even a secret!

Pope
It's not easy being pope.

For that matter, I'm not sure there's any meaningful distinction between the Underworld AI yahoos and the "real world" regular-ass people. I certainly regard Alice as being every bit as much as a real character as I do, say, Asuna, even though Alice is very yellow. I definitely regarded the pope as being more of a real person than nearly every other Sword Art Online villain (including the current ones). Ultimately, this has a lot less to do with Alice and the pope being AIs than it does with Sword Art Online having lots of terribly written characters—especially when it comes to its villains.

Alice
This reminds me I need to get a new video card.

I'm inclined to believe Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld theoretically could actually have something intelligent to say about artificial intelligence and what makes someone a real person, but any chance it had got undermined by the really awful writing that has plagued the franchise from the beginning. I still find it entertaining, even though Alice is very yellow, but I do wish the franchise would move past its more egregious tropes. The Ordinal Scale movie accomplished this with some success, but it seems to be the exception, not the norm.