Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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9 August 2022: Overlord IV ~I Love It When a Plan Comes Together~

Aura and Shalltear
For a kid who's only in her 70s, Aura has a lot to deal with.

I assume nobody is trying to watch the fourth season of Overlord without watching the first three seasons first or reading the books. Without the foundational background, most of the events so far must be somewhat confusing. Since the first anime season came out seven years ago, there are surely potential viewers today who were too young to get in on it in 2015. If any of y'all are reading this, I don't know what to tell you. At least all of it is available on the Crunchyroll, so it's accessible, even for non-subscribers using the free, ad-supported tier. Get caught up.

Shalltear
It's all right, Shalltear. You can just kill them all later.

In my case, I'm pleased simply to get more Overlord anime at all, even if years of memes may have colored my expectations as to how certain scenes ought to transpire. I'm also relieved that the use of 3DCG has (at least so far), not suffered as it did during the third season. Man, some of that was dire. I'm also pretty stoked there's a movie in the works that will cover one of the best arcs from the books. If you've seen people going on and on about some pope, that will make sense after the movie. It's gonna rule.


2 August 2022: Luminous Witches doesn't have any nudity

Ginny
They're like magic headphones.

Renmei Kuugun Koukuu Mahou Ongakutai: Luminous Witches (League of Nations Air Force Aviation Magic Band Luminous Witches) is a Strike Witches spinoff set in the greater World Witches universe with a key difference: Instead of fighting Neuroi invaders, they sing and dance to raise the spirits of the populace. At least that's the way it has been through the first five episodes. Maybe later on they will also fight along with and/or perform for combat units.

Mana, Milasha, Inori, Ginny, and Elly
They're almost dressed normally.

We've come a long way from the original Strike Witches anime with its copious amounts of fan service and casual nudity. True, the Luminous Witches are still engaged in the War on Pants, but the series also relies on technicalities by cladding its characters in leggings, skirts, dresses, and shorts. In fact, some characters DO wear trousers, if you can believe it. Like I said, we've come a long way from the days when even the civilian girls in the franchise ran around without pants on for no clear reason. Actually, there was a reason: Because Fuck Pants. No peace in our time.

Jo, Sylvie, Maria, Milasha, Aila, Elly, Mana, Ginny, and Inori.
The original Strike Witches OVA also features animal familiars.

As far as the Luminous Witches anime itself goes, it's fine. I'm not exactly invested in any of the events or the characters. In fact, I definitely could not tell you all of their names or match most of the individual witches with their familiars. For that matter, I couldn't tell you the names of all the Brave Witches, either. (This might have more to do with the fact that Brave Witches ended more than five years ago.) I can still name all the characters from the 501st Joint Fighter Wing, though, even though they sometimes paraded around in the nude. I'm just saying.


26 July 2022: Lycoris Recoil is excellent

Chisato
I don't know that Center Axis Relock is the best stance to adopt
while leaping in the air, but I also don't know that it's not.

I wasn't planning on watching Lycoris Recoil because I thought it was another show about girls running a cafe. It turns out it's about girls shooting people. And sometimes running a cafe. I suppose I might have guessed firearms could factor into the series, considering the word recoil is right in the title, but I was surprised at the attention to detail given to its gun-handling scenes. I'm much more used to anime characters who can't even be bothered to use the sights. In contrast, the characters in Lycoris Recoil handle their weapons in convincing ways that reveal the production team clearly did their research, presumably modeling scenes after real-world examples.

Takina
I guess Takina's washing her hair tonight.

This is not to say the gunplay in Lycoris Recoil is entirely authentic, but rather that it looks really good in ways that most anime don't bother with, so I appreciate the extra effort. This is just one factor in the show's favor though. So far, this series has been pretty fun to watch. The story has also kept the viewer in the dark about some obviously significant events that have influenced the setting. It has been doling out information, but in chunks, which is quite an improvement over the more typical practice of just dumping it all out in the first episode.

Fuki and Chisato
It's not Chisato's fault she's better.

The dynamic between the two leads is also engaging. If I had to provide a complaint about Lycoris Recoil, I suppose Chisato's wall-to-wall genki boisterousness is sort of a lot to handle sometimes. Nevertheless, this fits the rest of her personality well, and I enjoy the confidence and casual ease with which she approaches her tasks. Anzai Chika, who played Reina in Hibike! Euphonium, is in this, but she's voicing Chisato. This is sort of surprising since Reina (at least superficially) seems a lot more like Chisato's no-nonsense partner, Takina.

Tokyo Skytree
Somehow, this is Chisato's fault. Allegedly.

Much of the imagery surrounding Lycoris Recoil hints as more ominous developments in the coming episodes. As an original anime, chances are good there will be an actual ending of some sort, or at least not some manner of non-ending ending such as those plaguing shows constrained by external source material. Consequently, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, particularly considering how often it has pleasantly surprised me so far. Lycoris Recoil has done a lot of things well, so I'm eager to see what it will do next.


19 July 2022: Kami Kuzu☆Idol reveals not all idols do their best

Asahi and Yuuya
She may be dead, but she still has feet.

I mostly started watching Kami Kuzu☆Idol (Phantom of the Idol) as an excuse to pad my Ghost Girlfriends tag. The series is about an unmotivated (read: total deadbeat) male idol who gets possessed by the ghost of a recently deceased female idol. Combined, they—I dunno—do idol-type things better, I guess. I enjoyed Ginban Kaleidoscope, which also involved being possessed by a ghost, so I figured I could make space for Kami Kuzu☆Idol in my Summer 2022 anime queue.

Yuuya and Asahi
I like how she hijacked his body without consent to indulge in physical pleasure.

Through three episodes, it's fine. So far, it's about what I expected. I don't have any complaints about Kami Kuzu☆Idol, but it also hasn't done anything particularly remarkable or memorable yet. Touyama Nao as the ghost is doing a very Touyama Nao voice, if you like that sort of thing. Honestly, I think the show would be more interesting with the premise reversed. Like, instead, make it about highly motivated TOP FUEL GENKI idol who gets possessed by the ghost of a disgruntled dead idol who is a constant downer. I'd watch that too.


12 July 2022: I'm too old to enjoy Engage Kiss, but I still do

Kisara
You can tell she's serious because she changed clothes.

I have to concede Engage Kiss is "bad" by the standards I'm probably supposed to apply when evaluating anime. It embodies a number of qualities I associate with juvenile shows that cater to teenage boys. For one thing, the protagonist is a schlub who starts the series with two women (well, one woman, and one high school girl who is actually a demon, so she's probably hundreds of years old, if conventions hold) who are interested in him romantically for no clear reason.

Kisara
It's like Fruits Basket Face, except less sane.

However, the first two episodes do embrace a refreshingly carefree approach to old tropes that's sort of nostalgic in this modern era dominated instead by newer (but no less inane) clichés, and governed by sensibilities that are limiting without necessarily making things better. It's in this environment that Engage Kiss manages to shine, with some surprisingly satisfying gags that work well because the setting and premise are both absurd.

Kisara
Durable dress.

It's the little things, like hiding Tupperware® under a dress, or perfecting just-in-time delivery without resorting to drones, or broke shitbags shamelessly bumming cigarettes that really sell me on this series. Or maybe I just like the idea of a yandere demon employee because I haven't actually watched very many shows featuring yandere characters, so the stereotype still feels fresh to me.

Kisara
She seems nice.

Whatever the reason is, and I admit I'm not trying very hard to justify my affection for this bad (it's only mildly bad, okay!) show, I am rather enjoying it so far. It manages to feel both familiar and new at the same time, and it doesn't drag. I can't promise it will turn out to be capital-G Good at any point, but I've watched a lot worse.


5 July 2022: Delicious Party♡Precure is only okay

Kokone, Yui, and Ran
Eat more carbs.

Through 17 episodes, Delicious Party♡Precure is fine, thanks to a well-understood formula that such a long-running franchise can reliable draw upon, but there's not much else going for it. It's starting to look like Delicious Party is going to end up closer to the HappinessCharge side of the scale than its predecessor, Tropical-Rouge! Precure, for example.

Amane and Rosemary
Take this job and shove it.

Still, 17 episodes isn't particularly far for a weekly series that runs all year, so perhaps the show will turn things around. There are a few aspects that reduce my optimism in this regard, though. Significantly, it turns out the adversary who eventually switches sides to become a Cure herself has been under some sort of mind control the whole time, so she never really did anything wrong. How they fucked this up, I have no idea.

Gentle
Gentle's outfit is so good.

Enemies becoming friends has been a Pretty Cure staple from the beginning. But the cliché continues to work because viewers still care about character growth and redemption arcs. Taking this agency out of Amane's actions reduces her motivation for joining the Cures to one mostly predicated on undeserved guilt. It's not her fault she was stealing recipes. She wasn't even any good at it!

Black Pepper and Cure Precious
I don't know if it's better or worse that Black Pepper's battle costume looks silly.

I'm also not a huge fan of the male characters in Delicious Party♡Precure. This is an area where the franchise has not excelled. I'm sure there are viewers who enjoy Rosemary and Takumi and find their contributions to be important and satisfying, but I sure don't. It's not uncommon for Pretty Cure to include prominent male protagonists in various guises, but nothing about these two make me think they are necessary or valuable so far.


28 June 2022: I don't know why I watched Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL

Black Rock Shooter
That's some nice shootin', Rock.

I sure have watched a lot of Black Rock Shooter for someone who claims not to care about Black Rock Shooter at all. I'm not even confident my understanding about Black Rock Shooter in general is even accurate. As far as I know, it is a Hatsune Miku song that was turned into a sort of popular music video, then an OVA, then a 2012 anime written by Okada Mari, and now Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL. I don't even know if Dawn Fall shares continuity with anything that came prior.

Monica
It would have been better if the human characters didn't wear these masks all the time.

What I do know is that Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL was 12 episodes of a grimdark future where there is only war. Well, war and rape. I don't mean this in a metaphorical sense, and I can see why you might think that considering a lot of what happens in the 2012 Black Rock Shooter was allegorical. No, I'm letting you know that a significant plotline in the 2022 anime involves young girls being raped literally to death.

Smiley
Is it better or worse that the rapist is a big freaky robot with limited emotional range?

So, is Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL actually good? Well, mostly not? I don't know if it's better for people who have strong attachments to the franchise. I can't claim I do, although I recognize Dead Master and Strength as characters who were present in previous Black Rock Shooter installments—that sort of thing. And I'm not fundamentally opposed to a series introducing characters, trying to make us care about them, and then having something terrible happen to them. I don't think I'm in favor of sadism, but I can appreciate that a show like this can still exist, and even be associated with an IP people presumably still value. Also, learning this was licensed by Disney was wild.


21 June 2022: Mahoutsukai Reimeiki is not as good as Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho

Zero
I would later watch Toji no Miko because of the character designer.

I guess I never wrote a proper blog entry for Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho (Grimoire of Zero) from the Spring 2017 anime season. It was all right. I liked Miss Not Shimakaze, and I was able to pad my list of anime about loving books. Consequently, when I learned this season's Mahoutsukai Reimeiki (The Dawn of the Witch) was a spin-off with sequel-type continuity, I figured it was worth giving a try.

Roux and Sable
She's standing on a chair because she's short.

Well, it's not great. I can't even blame it all on Potato-kun, even though the series made him as dull as possible. The show is just not very good, and I'm not interested in any of the characters—not even the returning ones who I liked in Grimoire of Zero. I'm already 10 episodes into it, so I'll still finish it out. Somehow, I'm still disappointed despite never having high hopes in the first place.