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Dated 29 October 2015: It turns out Inou-Battle is a pretty successful harem comedy

Tomoyo and Jurai
15-love.

I put Inou-Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de (When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace) on hold halfway through the autumn 2014 season to watch different shows, but I came back to it and finished it off a year later. There wasn't anything particularly bad about the series when I put it on the shelf last year, except I felt it was a rather unremarkable effort by Studio Trigger, a company better known for KILL la KILL and the Little Witch Academia movies. But now that I've finished Inou-Battle, I believe it is a excellent show—not relative to anime in general, mind you—relative to other harem comedies. You see, harem comedies tend to be mediocre at best and typically cursed with one or both of the following typical flaws: (1) Uninteresting harem candidates, or (2) an unlikable male lead.

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Dated 27 August 2018: This Hand Maid May blog entry is not about May or maids

May and Kazuya
At least the apartment she's cleaning is also small.

I think it's been more than 10 years since I last re-watched Hand Maid May. I probably have a disproportionately positive perspective on what is ultimately a 20th century fan-service-laden harem comedy. I can't guarantee I would still hold it in high regard if I were to watch it for the first time now, but I do still remember it fondly. (The impetus for bringing Hand Maid May up again comes from the latest episode of Hataraku Saibou.)

Kazuya and Kasumi
That ladder bridge looks less and less safe as the years go by.

If anything, re-watching Hand Maid May now might help me clarify one aspect that I've always been sort of uncertain about. Namely, how old is Kasumi? Her current English Wikipedia entry describes her as an 18-year-old college student (with no citation), and the current Japanese Wikipedia entry claims she is a student at Kazuya's university (also with no citation). I don't remember this ever being established within the anime itself.

Kasumi and Kazuya
Further proof that Kasumi is right-handed..

It is pretty likely that she is at least out of high school, because there is a flashback in episode eight to Kasumi's graduation, and we never see her in a school uniform outside of those flashbacks. But since (as I understand it), compulsory education in Japan ends with middle school (after completing 9th grade, by U.S. reckoning), it's not impossible (albeit unlikely) that she dropped out to run the apartment complex, coach baseball, and flirt with Kazuya full-time.

Dated 30 July 2019: Nobody knew a Mari Okada sex disaster would have so much drama

Rika
Rika could stand to be a little less uptight.

Actually, wait, the title of this post is a lie. Probably everybody did. I, for one, am in it for the potential wall-to-wall traumarama. Somehow, Araburu Kisetsu no Otomedomo yo. (O Maidens in Your Savage Season) is my top Summer 2019 show through four episodes, even though I typically hate a lot of Okada Mari's work. Anohana is the best example of this, being a highly praised show about Deep Feelings which drove me nuts with its bullshit and lazy contrivances. On the other hand, I'm riveted in my front-row seat for Araoto as its melodrama plays out. So far, its themes of unrequited love, envy, lust, and cruelty are not especially unique, but they also don't have to be. Everything just works and I'm happy to see its characters struggle to make sense of this challenging stage in their lives.

Kazusa
We're going to be seeing this face a lot, I suspect.

With regard to my own feelings about the Okada-isms in Araburu Kisetsu no Otomedomo yo., it's not as if there haven't been shows I've liked despite of (or potentially because of) her contributions to them. Additionally, it's entirely unclear to me whether my opinions on Okada-type works are simply unreliable, whether the shows I end up liking were fixed by other collaborators, or whether it turns out I actually do like her work, but it's other people in the production cycle who fuck it up along the way. Seeing as how the Araoto anime is based on a manga that Okada Mari is authoring herself, there's a genuine possibility that "Pure Okada" is legitimately good, and sour products such as Anohana result from other cooks dumping shit into her broth. Or I suppose maybe I'm just finding her more palatable over the years.

Dated 7 September 2021: Kanojo mo Kanojo is a great show because it is preposterous

Nagisa, Naoya, and Saki
It's a pragmatic solution. Don't just dismiss it out of hand.

Not having a whole lot else to watch from the Summer 2021 anime season, I decided to give Kanojo mo Kanojo (Girlfriend, Girlfriend) a try on a goof. It turns out it's sort of fantastic. I initially assumed it was going to another one of those dreary harem comedies with a loathsome male protagonist surrounded by multiple girls who are entirely out of his league and yet inexplicably attracted to him. Or that it was going to be on of those dreary harem comedies where Potato-kun is actually sort of an all right dude, but is inexplicably incapable of noticing that every girl he comes into contact with keeps throwing her panties at him. It turns out Kanojo mo Kanojo is neither of those things. Rather, it's got some manner of Möbius strip horseshoe theory thing going on where all the environmental factors and character decisions that should be working to the show's detriment end up making it better.

Naoya and Nagisa
Busted.

It's no accident Kanojo mo Kanojo is working out this way. The recurring focus of the show's various dilemmas is on an unending series of incorruptibly honest decisions to pursue uncompromising choices that should result in self-destructive consequences by any reasonable objective standard. And yet it all continues to work out. I can't vouch for the manga source material, but the anime embraces the absurdity of its premise and absolutely succeeds in its execution.

Naoya and Saki
Never gonna happen.

Significantly, there is no hint of melodrama. That is something Girlfriend, Girlfriend really cannot afford. If Kanojo mo Kanojo ever decides to examine the consequences and societal frictions associated with polyamorous relationships, or attempts to position the various love interests against each other from hostile postures of envy or jealousy, it will do so at its peril. There had also better not be any of that typical harem comedy bullshit where a series gets its viewers to root for one of the girls to "win." (If it does, the erstwhile winner will probably be First Girl Childhood Friend, even though she has nothing in her favor compared to her rivals except for her hair.)

Rika, Naoya, Nagisa, and Saki
Busted.

Even though I only started watching Girlfriend, Girlfriend a short while ago, it did not take long before I caught up. There are currently 10 episodes out so far and only two to go. Since the source manga still seems to be running (I think eight volumes are out), a non-ending ending to the anime is probably basically guaranteed. I don't know how far Kanojo mo Kanojo can take its premise without getting derailed, but I would be in favor of additional seasons if it can keep up the show's high-intensity, relentless pace episode after episode without running out of steam.