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5 January 2021: Kamisama ni Natta Hi is not a good anime

Hina and Youta
I had to include a picture of these two because they're the main characters.

Despite a promising first episode, Kamisama ni Natta Hi (The Day I Became a God) turned out to be fairly awful in a number of areas, and likely disappointed even fans of Key's usual shtick. Critically, I felt nothing when The Big Sad Thing inevitably happened. This despite reports Maeda Jun intended for it to be the saddest anime ever. Surprising no one, I'm sure, Hina suffers debilitating mental degradation just as Potato-kun comes to realize how important she has become to him. Unfortunately, the way he conveys his emotions and the actions he takes for pretty much the entire rest of the anime are aggravating to watch. It's sort of baffling, even if you're already expecting this to happen to some degree.

Kyouko
For real, though, Kyouko had excellent hair.

Ultimately, it's entirely unrewarding. I can see how at least in theory Kamisama ni Natta Hi looked like it could succeed when viewed as an outline or synopsis (you know, assuming you're okay with infantalizing love interests), but it certainly fell apart somewhere between the initial pitch and the screen. It's not all bad, though. I genuinely enjoyed the mostly standalone episode where Violet Evergarden and her father come to grips with Dead Mom Subplot. That basically had all the, uh, Key elements of Maeda Jun's bullshit done right. And I liked the Mahjong Calvinball episode which had the sort of high-energy wackiness I remember from the Angel Beats! fishing episode. The Day I Became a God did continue to have some nice gags throughout its run, although the first episode probably had the most successful jokes. I'm still willing to watch the next Key anime, but I get the feeling I'll enjoy it a lot more if its a sports comedy of some sort instead of another romance involving mentally impaired girls.


29 December 2020: The war on pants will go on a long as it has to

Yoshika and Shizuka
I don't dislike Miyafuji anymore, but these two still aren't exactly favorites.

It's been a while since I've watched the first two Strike Witches seasons, but I felt this third season seemed better overall than those previous installments. I also liked it better than the Brave Witches spinoff. Despite this, I'm still not at all prepared to call Strike Witches: Road to Berlin the best season yet even though it sort of has to be by definition. The problem is Road to Berlin still relied on the Neuroi as the primary advesary. This is an unavoidable component of the World Witches canon, but these alien invaders have never been compelling enemies. The witches need to fight somebody, but the battles still feel hollow and the stakes haven't grown as the war has progressed, despite a fair amount of dialogue trying to convince viewers that they have.

World Witches Take Off!
That sure is a lot of witches.

Thankfully, Strike Witches 3 at least avoided some of the even less convincing drama that dragged down parts of the first two seasons. Frankly, I rather enjoy the characters more when they're doing silly things in garrison such as in the Strike Witches: 501 Butai Hasshin Shimasu! (Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!) gag anime. This bodes well for next season's World Witches Hasshin Shimasu! (World Witches Take Off!) installment, although I think I would still prefer it use the standard superlovely character designs than the simpler comedy-friendly ones.


22 December 2020: Majo no Tabitabi was interesting, but I haven't decided if I thought it was good

Sheila
Majo no Tabitabi needed more Sheila.

Majo no Tabitabi (Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina) turned out to be a lot different from what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be more laid back, like Flying Witch, but instead the series is more about Elaina observing the fucked-up world around her in a mostly non-committal sort of way. In this respect, I've seen it compared to Kino's Journey (which I haven't seen). I don't know if this is the case for Kino, but Elaina's detachment (and narcissism, honestly) makes her sort of dull, although the strange encounters she has during her travels are interesting.

Saya
Poor Saya missed out on the final episode's all-you-can-eat buffet.

I'm not suggesting there are major flaws to Wandering Witch that needs improving, but I do think it would be better if Elaina had more charisma. I found myself enjoying Saya's appearances much more than I thought I would, considering she mostly comes across as a turbo-lesbian gag character. Guest appearances by various other witches also helped out the show a lot. The best elements of the show and its finest moments all involve characters other than Elaina. I don't think this is by design, but rather it's because I just didn't find Elaina herself particularly interesting. Ultimately, I did enjoy the show overall, and I would watch more of it, but I'd rather have future episodes told from a different character's point of view if Elaina is going to remain the same.


15 December 2020: I'm probably less likely to watch Wonder Egg Priority if I find out what it's about before it starts

Saki
Every word in Wonder Egg Priority is English, but that combination has no meaning!

The Winter 2021 anime season is going to be a busy one. Not only are there a mess of sequels coming out, there are also a fair number of anime-original offerings for anyone exhausted from years of light novel adaptations. One such show is Wonder Egg Priority from CloverWorks which recently released a PV but offered basically no other information. I know it features a character with heterochromia and there is at least one dekochin, but I'm otherwise entirely ignorant about it. However, I am curious enough to watch at least the first episode, and it seems likely the anime will at least look good.

Elisha
I guess this post is getting the "Girls With Guns" tag.

The promotional material for another original anime, Back Arrow, features cowboys and giant robots. These are not things I associate with each other (well, there was Bakuretsu Tenshi years ago), so there's the potential for some originality here. It's reportedly going to be at least two cours and I'm reasonably confident Bones isn't going to just half-ass this project. It looks like it has a fairly large cast, too, and I spotted Ueda Reina's name associated with the show. The combination of these factors are enough to get me to at least check it out. The PV could use more robots, though.

Shadow and Reki
Prince of Stride: Alternative at least had Hanakana supporting its racers.

Among the remaining original anime offerings, I'm almost certainly going to ignore all the ones about idols. I'm also staying away from the GoHands project which looks suspiciously like another secret sequel to Hand Shakers. You're not getting me twice, fuckers. On the upside, there is a racing show called SK∞ (SK8 the Infinity) about dudes skateboarding down into a mine shaft while beating the shit out of each other. It probably suffers from not-enough-anime-girls syndrome, but it might turn out to still be entertaining anyway.


8 December 2020: Golden Kamuy is the best show of the season

Sugimoto
Sugimoto embarks on another culinary adventure.

I probably don't mention Golden Kamuy enough, considering how good it is. Its third season is easily the best show from the Autumn 2020 anime season, at least among the 20-ish titles I've sampled. (Really, it's more like the third split cours of a continuous narrative than a third "season" necessarily.)

Asirpa
I hope y'all are also taking measurements and not just copying by eye.

Launching into the Golden Kamuy anime from its starting point involves crashing headlong into some really janky 3DCG work in the first season, but the show itself is excellent. The anime's episode count is still only in the low thirties, so it's not a huge commitment for anyone curious about getting into it for the first time.

Hijikata and Ushiyama
Hijikata is the strongest swordsman because he carries a rifle.

Of course, the other option is to just read the source manga instead. The 19th volume of the official English language release comes out this month. However, the manga is still ongoing with new chapters appearing weekly. I've heard the fan translations are quite good and provide well-researched contextual notes. Personally, I've been sticking with the official releases, so I'm quite a bit behind when it comes to the manga, but at least I'm caught up with the anime.


1 December 2020: Seiyuu are saving Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear and boosting Maou-jou de Oyasumi

Yuna
For real, scenes without Yuna drag.

Both Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear (The Bears Bear a Bare Kuma) and Maou-jou de Oyasumi (Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle) are all right shows, but I might not still be following them if it weren't for the voice talents of their leads. I've noticed with Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear that my interest in the show basically evaporates whenever Yuna (the girl in the bear suit) is not the focus of a scene. I mean, the anime is fine, but not very compelling. And a significant part of Yuna's appeal is the sort of casual way Kawase Maki voices her lines. I don't think I would still be on board had Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear cast a stereotypical, squeaky anime voice instead.

Syalis
That's bad for your neck.

I was fully expecting Maoujou de Oyasumi to run out of steam by now, but it's still finding new ways to be amusing. Contributing significantly to my enjoyment is Minase Inori doing a very Minase Inori voice as the princess. For whatever reason, I don't think I'm as good as I used to be at identifying seiyuu. For example, I didn't even realize for the longest time that Kyouko from Kamisama ni Natta hi (The Day I Became a God) shared the same voice actress as Violet Evergarden. However, Minase Inori in Sleepy Princess is super obvious and fits really well.


24 November 2020: Why Talentless Nana is better than Death Note

Kyouya
Dude needs a haircut.

The Munou na Nana (Talentless Nana) anime is schlock, but I mean that in the best possible way. Whether or not the Death Note anime actively encourages its viewers to regard it in a serious light, its fans certainly have a tendency to embrace that perspective and hold it high regard. I acknowledge it's somewhat unfair to judge an anime based on its fans, but even after more than a decade, it remains difficult to sever Death Note from its fandom, so I think the association is at least sort of justified. Munou na Nana, on the other hand, I started watching basically on a whim after seeing this admonition on the Twitter. Immediately thereafter came warnings that the manga is rated relatively poorly and also still ongoing, suggesting the single-cours anime's conclusion is likely to be disappointing.

L and Light
See, just like Jesus.

Whether or not that turns out to be the case, I'm at least enjoying Munou na Nana quite a bit for the time being. It's somewhat silly, and the juxtaposition between the internal monologues and the outward facades presented publicly is probably excessive, but that's also part of why I enjoy the show. I don't take Talentless Nana especially seriously, and I don't feel as if I'm expected to either. That was definitely not the case with Death Note, which was an all right show despite its serious tone, but not a great show because of it. Why am I even comparing Talentless Nana and Death Note at all? Because both shows concur on one of the great truths that transcend anime: Some people need killing.


17 November 2020: More dropped shows from the Autumn 2020 anime season

Kasumi
Kasumi is a treasure trove of facial expressions.

In addition to Senyoku no Sigrdrifa and Assault Lily: BOUQUET, I've also dropped Tonikaku Kawaii (TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You), Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai (Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club), Guraburu! (Grand Blues!), and Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen (Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World). Damn, these are some long titles. Of this batch, only Last Crusade is legitimately bad. The rest of them I would watch during a duller season.

Tsukasa and Nasa
Dude's wife is a saint for putting up with this shit.

In the case of TONIKAWA, it's fine when Nasa isn't freaking out, but he freaks out a lot, and I don't see much benefit in putting up with this when I could just read the manga instead. These sorts of reactions are much more tolerable in print than as anime.

Love Live! Nijigasaki is probably really just on hold, and not actually dropped, since I've seen every other Love Live! thing that's out there. Then again, the franchise will probably continue to churn out new properties for some time, and I certainly don't feel obligated to watch those future installments. The characters are sort of dull, though. I probably would not be dropping Nijigasaki otherwise.

Guraburu! seems fine, and each episode is only a few minutes long, so it's not as if there would be much of a commitment to continue watching. However, it's clearly aimed at people who play the Granblue Fantasy game, so I'm wasn't getting much out of it.

Iska and Mismis
Wide car.

Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen put more effort into the title than the show itself. Really, it's not even worth explaining. It's as unimpressive—if not worse—than the trailer suggested. I somehow still watched three episodes for Tenchan, though.