Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
karmaburn.com karmaburn.com

13 April 2021: Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- places the fate of humanity in the hands of an amusement park animatronic

Diva
Diva runs sort of weird, but she is a robot.

Vivy -Flourite Eye's Song- is an original anime about a time traveler's efforts to prevent an artificial intelligence uprising that caused robots to run amok, resulting in the deaths of a whole mess of humans who—let's face it—probably had it coming. Due to desperate measures, this mission to prevent the looming disaster falls on Diva (Vivy), an amusement park android who is not at all enthusiastic about just going along with the plan. For one thing, her new AI pal from the future openly admits to withholding information from her and doesn't seem to care that she might have her own priorities and goals.

Diva
Maybe virus scans aren't as effective as you'd hope.

The AI from the future sort of reminds me of Frontier Setter from Rakuen Tsuihō (Expelled from Paradise), except without the charisma. Through the first three episodes, the viewer doesn't really have much reason to be suspicious of its intentions. After all, we do benefit from seeing the future events during the anime's prologue. Nevertheless, I'm at least inclined to take Diva's side during their disagreements. For one thing, altering a significant event does not seem to produce radical "butterfly effect" results that would render subsequent predictions related to upcoming milestones unreliable. Consequently, it's not clear whether Diva's desire to prevent future disasters unrelated to the AI uprising is necessarily impractical.

Diva
Considering the volume of Diva's hair, I have no idea
how she compressed it into such a small bun.

I have no idea how Diva is supposed to prevent the AI uprising. The events she's tasked with stopping during the first three episodes don't seem consequential enough to prevent what is surely the product of a great many circumstances beyond one android's ability to control. This is not as straightforward as going back to the '80s to kill Sarah Connor. It's not lost on me that Diva is likely not an amusement park animatronic (albeit a very sophisticated one) by accident. I'm ready to believe Diva unfucks the future by unleashing the power of song and making everyone happy, just as she's always wanted. You know, like the Minmay Attack except without genocide.


6 April 2021: IDOLY PRIDE and SukaSuka both spoiled their anime endings during the opening minutes of their first episodes

Kotono
It's not easy being an idol.

IDOLY PRIDE turned out to be a much more satisfying anime than I was expecting. I already had some idea where the show was going, since it became increasingly clear what the first episode's prologue implied as the anime progressed. Nevertheless, it also still retained enough ambiguity to allow the show to develop dramatic tension as it approached its climax. Ultimately, this was still very much a story about Mana and Makino, and remembering this worked out well for the anime.

Mana
What is the sound of one ghost clapping?

However, there is more to IDOLY PRIDE than just the anime, and this is where my lack of familiarity with the franchise as a whole falters. Based on the release dates of the associated videos on the YouTube, IDOLY PRIDE has been in the works for over a year. Was it just delayed for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, or was it originally planned as an extended mixed-media production? There are CDs to purchase, and a mobile game of some sort to play, but I don't know how critical the anime itself is to the whole.

Chtholly
Goodbye, Chtholly's last bit of blue hair.

I didn't really need to mention SukaSuka here, since it's not as if Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? and IDOLY PRIDE really have that much in common aside from dropping spoilers at the start of the first episode. The SukaSuka spoilers are much more overt, though, and consequently much more memorable. There is also a certain finality to the series, in that while there are still additional volumes to adapt, adding a sequel to SukaSuka would not necessarily be the same thing as "making more" SukaSuka. In the case of IDOLY PRIDE, there are certainly enough characters to provide new opportunities for expansion through sequels, but I'm hesitant to suggest there's any need at this stage.


30 March 2021: Re:Zero II 2 was probably a good season for Emilia fans

Subaru and Roswaal
It's fine, they're cool now.

My enjoyment of the Re:Zero anime has been inconsistent. I initially lost interest in the series quite early and dropped the show more than once. I finally picked it up again after enjoying Isekai Quartet and its myriad gags about Ram being smug and/or abusive. After finally sticking with the first season, I did enjoy most of it. I also liked the first half of the second season, but the most recent cours, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2, did not hold my interest.

Emilia
I'm going to claim Puck is a shitty parent.

If I had to say why, I guess it's because I found Garfiel rather grating. He has legitimate reasons for being that way, but they didn't make him less tiresome to watch. This cours also focused heavily on Emilia, and deservedly so. Unfortunately, I've never had any interest in Emilia, so I wasn't exactly invested in her arc. If you are a big fan of Emilia, then I would expect you to regard this cours as being one of the strongest ones of the anime thus far. However, it is difficult for me to weigh this objectively, so possibly it still dragged even for Emilia superstans. Presuming there is a third season, I am going to continue watching it, but I do hope it gets better. Maybe have some more Rem? I could go for more Rem now.


23 March 2021: Higurashi gets good after 74 episodes

Rena and Mion
It turns out I don't really like these two.

I need to caveat this post by acknowledging that I effectively don't know anything about the Higurashi franchise. I initially tried watching the first anime back in 2006, but dropped it after (I think) the first episode because I didn't find it interesting. It subsequently ran for 26 episodes, then 24 more in 2007. Somewhere in there we'll also find 11 assorted episodes that dropped at various times before Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou started in 2020.

Satoko
Satoko seems like a pleasant kid who probably has a stable home life.

I was aware of the franchise's popularity, and knew that Higurashi somehow fit into a much larger extended universe which included properties such as Umineko no Naku Koro ni. I basically don't know anything about these other titles either, though. Nevertheless, I decided to give the 2020 anime a chance because all these factors must mean it's got to have something going for it, right? Besides, it meant the return of Yukino Satsuki, and I love me some Yukino Satsuki. I'm also a fan of Nakahara Mai, so how bad could it be?

Rika
I guess this is not a "NIPAH" sort of moment.

Well, getting through the first 13 episodes of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou was a slog. I still have no idea how much it departed from the previous anime. I also don't know whether watching the previous anime is really required. Likewise, I don't know how necessary it is to have read the visual novels first either. Approaching the 2020 anime strictly as a neophyte anime-only viewer, I was teased something special on occasion, but lacked the proper context to fully appreciate those moments. On the other hand, the show regularly confronted me with my ever-increasing dislike for Keiichi, Rena, and Detective Ooishi.

Satoko
I'm pretty sure this qualifies as a huge spoiler.

Fortunately, episode 14 and all subsequent episodes focused on other characters. Suddenly, Keiichi was no longer the primary protagonist, and Higurashi is actually pretty good! I can't claim I really understand what's going on, but it's at least a lot more enjoyable and interesting to watch than everything I've seen prior. In fact, I'm even looking forward to the next cours which is slated to start in July 2021.

Featherine and Satoko
Maybe not as big as this shot.

Does it really take Higurashi 74 episodes to get good? Presumably not. But if the previous anime is anything like the present anime, then I feel comfortable about assuming it does not get good until Keiichi stops being its main character. If it turns out episodes were centered around him for the previous anime's entire run—and there isn't a departure until episode 14 of Gou—then, yeah, it doesn't get good until after 74 episodes.


16 March 2021: The CZ 75, Rico's pistol in Gunslinger Girl

CZ 75 Pre-B
Despite offering a double-action mode, the original CZ 75
only has a single-action safety instead of a decocker.

Originally, I was mostly ambivalent about Rico from the Gunslinger Girl anime, but I liked her character a lot more after reading the manga. In any case, I am a big fan of her CZ 75 pistol, though. This is a full-size all-steel service sidearm. It's not quite as heavy as a Colt 1911 Government Model, nor as large as the Beretta 92 series, but it is pretty big compared to more contemporary alloy or polymer options, such as the many compact striker-fired handguns that seem to be more popular now. CZ's own offering have diversified quite a bit in the decades since the 75's introduction.

Rico
I like the turtleneck.

In the context of Gunslinger Girl, Rico's CZ 75 is an older "pre-B" model identifiable by the shape of its hammer and the rounder trigger guard. There are transitional models, so the surest way to tell the difference is the absence of a roll pin in the slide. This change was introduced with the CZ 75B model as part of a redesign to add an internal safety that blocks the firing pin unless the trigger is also pulled. (This should prevent the gun from discharging if dropped on its hammer, or if a sear fails, etc.)

Rico
Rico also has a threaded barrel for her CZ.

Rico somewhat implausibly hides her CZ 75 under her coat while working in Florence in episode seven. I say implausibly because Rico is a pretty small girl, and I would expect a pistol that big to pooch out a bit, but I guess this is what makes her a pro. In comparison, Triela's ability to conceal a Sig Sauer P230SL under her jacket is much more realistic.

Rico
I can see why you might not think so, but Rico says she likes it here.

I think it's also worth noting that—in both the manga and the anime—Rico appears to have intact memories of her life before becoming a cyborg. I think this is unique to her among all of the girls, and it's not clear to me why. Possibly I've just forgotten, but I don't believe it was ever explained. It's not particularly important, I suppose, but it does make her different from the other girls.

Rico
She does get beat a lot, though.

Somehow, I've now written four "guns of Gunslinger Girl" posts for this blog. In addition to Triela's P230 mentioned above, I also have posts for Henrietta's P90 and Triela's shotgun. I should probably get around to re-watching the show at some point.


9 March 2021: I guess I'm watching season three of Log Horizon for the 'shipping

Akatsuki and Shiroe
It's not a date.

The first season of Log Horizon provided an entertaining perspective on what it might be like to be trapped in a video game. Even now, it holds up well when compared against the relentless tide of trapped-in-a-video-game isekai bullshit anime that seems—itself—nearly inescapable now. The second season of Log Horizon was all right, but it is common to find fans who like it a lot less. The currently airing third season, Log Horizon: Entaku Houkai (Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table) has mostly been about politics during the past eight episodes. It doesn't exactly get the series off to a rousing fresh start after its six-year absence.

Minori
Minori is still writing shit down—still being competent and helpful.

The preview for this week's episode heralds the return of love-triangle high jinks involving Minori (who was very recently merely a shrimpy kid), Akatsuki (who was and still is a shrimpy grownup, and Shiroe (the purported adult in the room). Naturally, I don't expect this to actually go anywhere. It has (at least been) pretty obvious that Akatsuki is the only real love interest. Even then, there's no indication there will be any meaningful progress anytime soon. Ergo, propping up Minori (who I think is still only around 14) as a romantic rival is probably going to be just more of the same low-stakes love-triangle nonsense from previous episodes.

Lenessia
They're literally going to put Lenessia on a SHIP so she can go get Krusty and
bring him back instead of just quietly thinking about him all the time.

Curiously, it seems the Krusty x Lenessia pairing might actually have some life. Originally, I mostly regarded the interaction between these two as that of a young man who (somewhat inadvertently) prods a recalcitrant princess into seizing the reins of destiny when originally he just wanted to amuse himself by teasing a teenage girl for a while. However, season three is making me question whether my assumptions about Krusty—or, more specifically, the player behind Krusty's character—are wrong. It's at least not clear to me anymore how old he is or how long ago the brief flashbacks we've seen actually occurred. Suddenly, a Krusty x Lenessia pairing seems much more plausible than Shiroe x Akatsuki, and certainly more so than Shiroe x Minori, regardless of what this week's episode may bring.


2 March 2021: Yuru Camp△ SEASON 2 is the best anime of Winter 2021 not featuring self-harm

Nadeshiko
I appreciate Nadeshiko's apparent immunity to fatigue.

Surprising no one who watched the first season, Yuru Camp△ SEASON 2 remains fantastic. I don't actually watch a lot of shows that I would expect to be similar in terms of tone and content, such as Yama no Susume (Encouragement of Climb), or Non Non Biyori, but perhaps I should, considering how much I enjoy Yuru Camp△. Then again, the majority of my interest in the show unmistakably centers around Rin specifically, and her various camping-related efforts. I mean, I like all the other characters too, but significantly less so, and I'm fairly sure this perspective is nearly universal among fans of the show.

Rin
So what happens if you do the suspension bridge thing alone?

Actually, there is one other character I know some Yuru Camp△ fans seem to like a lot: Nadeshiko's older sister, Sakura. For years now, Yuru Camp△ fan art has featured a lot of Rin x Sakura 'shipping. (Admittedly, it is one prolific artist who dominates this scene.) I found this pairing a little peculiar, since the two characters interacted basically not at all in the first season. Best I could figure, it was either in reference to something that developed later on in the source material, or ardent fans fabricated it whole cloth.

Sakura and Rin
You know, people would have lost their minds if Sakura
had been Nadeshiko's older brother instead.

Presuming the anime is adapting the original manga (as opposed to inventing stories to bolster the anime-tourism economy), it seems we've at least reached the genesis of this particular movement. I don't actually expect Yuru Camp△ to expand this meeting into a genuine romance, though. Fan enthusiasm aside, I really don't think it's that sort of show. Sorry, 'shippers, I'm pretty sure Sakura and Rin aren't going to be tearing each other's clothes off in a tent anytime soon. Besides, Rin wears a million layers even when she's napping by a space heater while she's ostensibly working in a library; she's probably wearing two million layers when she's camping in the winter.


23 February 2021: Back Arrow is full of idiots

Shuu, Bit, and Sola
Here is the stupidest character flanked by the smartest one and the second-smartest one.

I think I enjoy Back Arrow, but these characters are all so dumb. I mean, they're supposed to be, for comedic effect, but it's sort of extraordinary. The villagers are the worst offenders. The series introduces one of the main characters in the first episode by having her rescue—at the last possible second—a child who pretends to accidentally fall off a cliff because she enjoys the thrill of being saved in mid-air. Later, an amnesiac plummets from the sky in a pod. The villagers assume it contains food and start a large fire under it to cook its contents (without checking to see what's in it first). This inspires the pod's mysterious passenger to leap out and create a ruckus. If this is how the village prepares all of its meals, remind me to never eat there.

Ren
Actually, the lady with the fucked-up bangs is probably second-smartest.

Anyway, this is the sort of cartoonish logic that governs the characters' behavior. But at some point, Back Arrow just needs to ditch these villagers. First of all, they worship The Wall because they're superstitious nincompoops. And they are literally dead weight. Like, they're all on this massive mobile battle fortress, and none of them figured out how to turn on the lights. They're still huddling in tents and burning wood to stay warm instead of just taking up inside the dreadnought's living quarters. Maybe they're distrustful of these accommodations because their captive was the one who informed them of these facilities and the galley (which they're also not using, of course, but I've already gone over their culinary failures). Again, this is all done for laughs, but I don't think the gags are going to stay amusing enough to justify dragging these hicks around for two cours. Especially Bit. Fuckin' hate Bit. Kid's worthless.