Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

Dated 10 March 2020: AmiAmi sells swords online

Alice's sword
I don't remember Alice Synthesis Thirty's sword having any special backstory.
Maybe the pope simply pulled it out of a parts bin when she gave it to her.

I'm not sure what use a 15-centimeter die-cast anime sword made out of zinc is, but if you ever wanted a scale model anime sword, I guess this is your chance. Maybe use it as a letter opener? Those of you who still get letters, at least. Anyway, this is not an endorsement of AmiAmi in particular, although I do order from it on occasion. It's pretty likely you can get these from other vendors. Besides, the available selection is not particularly deep.

Make sure you holler its name the same way Saber do.

I can't deny that I could potentially be interested in gimmick merchandise of this sort if it turned out the quality is reasonably good. As anime swords go, I expect that would require making them out of steel instead of zinc, but I imagine that would probably raise the price considerably. As it is, fifty bucks for a six-inch zinc "sword" is pretty steep, especially since I don't see any indication they come with display stands or whatnot. I am, however, quite amused that Sakura's key qualifies as a sword in this context. I have to admit that's pretty sweet.

Dated 3 June 2019: Chou Kadou Girl ⅙: Amazing Stranger is no Hand Maid May

Haruto and Nona
It's probably so nasty under there.

Chou Kadou Girl ⅙: Amazing Stranger is about a sentient 1/6th scale anime figurine who lives with a fan of her franchise. Although there are other shows about tiny wives and the people who love them (for example, Nona arguably has more in common with her Frame Arms Girl counterparts), I'm still going to point to Hand Maid May as the best example of this sort of thing. I think it's because I enjoy the two human leads in Hand Maid May (Kazuya and Kasumi), whereas I'm mostly ambivalent about Haruto from Amazing Stranger. His kid sister seems okay, but she's not in the show much. Both Hand Maid May and Amazing Stranger do feature copious amounts of fan service and lots of meta humor, so I guess they also have that in common. I've written about Hand Maid May a fair amount on this site already, so just read those old entries if you're still curious why I seem to like it so much.

The explanation for why Nona sleeps in the refrigerator was not at all convincing.

With regard to Chou Kadou Girl ⅙: Amazing Stranger, it's sort of uneven, but I find some of the gags amusing. I also like the robotic autotuned voice in the OP. More importantly, I appreciate that Nona is not entirely dense, so the show isn't structured around increasingly strained misunderstandings and complex scams. That is a nice change of pace. It also makes her a bit more human. I guess that's technically a sort of racist thing to say about a tiny plastic space...whatever she is, but it is an important part of getting me to care about the events within the show. That was something notable about Hand Maid May—I cared about where the characters were going to end up. Amazing Stranger isn't quite there yet, but hopefully its remaining episodes will provide at least a little more emotional resonance.

Dated 7 January 2019: In re anime materialism

<&Seem> Oof. My overburdened media shelf decided to finally collapse and it took with it all the remaining Macross/Gundam models I'd kept intact and displayed since the early 2000s
<&Seem> Just look at these shattered things and thinking all I can do is toss them in the garbage ( ._.)

Learning of Seem's misfortune reminds me that recovering my own anime merchandise from the inevitable future SoCal earthquake is going to be troublesome. Viewed from the perspective that the things you own end up owning you, there is something perversely attractive about the prospect of going through life with fewer material possessions. I do know people who favor that lifestyle, but fewer still who both favor it and actually embrace it. I, on the other hand, like having things, even though each acquisition incrementally increases the burden and complexity of storing it all and finding new spaces for additional hoarding.

Meanwhile, I imported more Japanese BDs.

I'm not prepared to take the position that losing everything in a catastrophe should be viewed as liberating, but hearing about events such as the above does remind me that I don't really have any sort of plan for the Blu-rays I buy and never watch, nor do I have any idea what I'm going to do with my growing collection of anime tchotchkes. I do occasionally see people selling off their stuff on the Twitter, but it sort of seems as if those efforts are intended to ensure the items at least go to people who will appreciate them, rather than to recoup financial value. Probably that's the best case scenario, long term.

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 10 August 2017: Umi 2017

What, another year already?

Dated 10 August 2016: Umimi and me

Normal Umi
So far so good.

A while back, it was about a year ago, I think it was, I decided to check out more of THE iDOLM@STER's action, right, figure out what Million Live! had going on that I didn't have going. Although I was a (secondary) fan of the "real" iDOM@STER and knew of Cinderella Girls from its anime adaptation, Million Live! I only knew from the various cards people would upload to the Danbooru.

High Rare Umi
I'm guessing Umi smokes this girl.

Well, it turned out there were quite a few Million Live! characters (and a shit ton of Cinderella Girls). At a whim, I decided to start burning through all the bios to see if perhaps there was one I'd be likely to favor best. I even started a a spreadsheet compiling the official data. (This spreadsheet has since grown out of control.) It sort of felt like shopping for a mail-order waifu from a catalog since I was at least semi-consciously intent on determining which Million Live! was best Million Live!.

Super Rare Umi
I don't actually know anything about this event.

Coincidentally, this was also about the time I lost my previous disinterest in anime figures. I reasoned that as my anime-type hobby didn't seem to be going away, it probably wasn't just a phase, and perhaps that made it all right to spend some money on anime tchotchkes. And maybe a display box of some sort. But not a display case, that's going too far. After all, I would only be getting one. (Heard this one before, have you?) I just had to figure out which one. Preferably not one which would cost me like two hundred damn dollars only to melt during a relentless Southern California summer.

Super Rare Umi
I can't tell if this is an exhibition or a competition.

Also coincidentally, this was about the time I learned of the Rookie Seiyuu Awards. Ueda Reina won that year for Hanayamata, so I watched that (it turns out it's really good) and a bunch of other shows with Ueda Reina roles, even token ones. (It turns out Ueda Reina is really good too.) Anyway, those of you who happen to be Ueda Reina fans probably already know where I'm going with this, as will anyone who is an actual fan of THE iDOLMASTER: Million Live! itself rather than just a fan of the idea of THE iDOLM@STER: Million Live! like me.

Manami, Minami, Reina, Kaya, and Yuka
Ueda Reina, center, with some of her fellow Hanayamata seiyuu.

It turns out Kousaka Umi is the not-quite-anime-character perfect storm. Some of you already know that—in the absence of any other key indicators—I start my character ranking determinations based on the various candidates' hair. Kousaka Umi's extraneous twin braids immediately put her in towards the top of the list, because I love me some twin braids. The top of the list, incidentally, included such company as Kitazawa Shiho whom I liked from the iDOLM@STER movie because she was such a bitch to everyone for no reason, and Nanao Yuriko (whom I also liked for her hair, even though she wasn't a bitch to anyone in the iDOM@STER movie). I'm also partial to enthusiastic Top Fuel Genki characters in general. Add in some real-deal athleticism, and I'm basically sold. Wait, there are also random ballet-themed references and non sequiturs? Someone's been reading my old journals. I'm totally in favor of a ballet-trained idol even if it means she is probably really bendy.

Rare Umi
Actually, she is really bendy.

At this point, I was tracking Kousaka Umi as the likely best Million Live! idol, but she didn't have any anime presence to speak of. Was she in anything else besides the game? Thanks to my aforementioned serendipitous curiosity about anime figures, I decided to see if possibly a Kousaka Umi figure existed. And yes, it turned out one did. This was somewhat perplexing, as she was also the only Million Live character who had an anime figure of any sort at the time. It's still not clear to me why; if there was only going to be one, I would have expected one of the characters from the movie. Anyway, finding out a Kousaka Umi figure did exist and that it did not cost two hundred damn dollars worked out pretty well. Especially since this way I could claim my lone anime figurine was somewhat esoteric despite being part of a well-known franchise.

Umi figure
This Kousaka Umi anime figure came with an extra face.

You know what's next, right? As I understand it, most (or at least many) Cinderella Girls characters are not yet voiced, but every Million Live! character is voiced. Kousaka Umi, you've surely already guessed, is voiced by Ueda Reina.

"ココロ☆エクササイズ" is quite catchy.

Well, shit. Umimi not only cruises through all the checkpoints (at least on paper), she has an anime figure which was apparently under-appreciated even when it was the only game in town as far as Million Live! figures went, AND she's voiced by my favorite newbie voice actress. So there you have it. This was a no-brainer. Also, if you're reading this on August 10th, then it means I managed to get this written in time for her designated birthday. Happy 16th birthday again, Umimi. You're my THE iDOLM@STER: Million Live! Best Girl.

Dated 18 March 2006: Hand Maid May

Man, the Hand Maid May box set with the figure is freaking $19 with free shipping. Damn, yo. [Update: Too late.]

Dated 12 February 2002: Hand Maid May

While I consider Chobits be a failure in the robot-girlfriend genre, Hand Maid May is surprisingly good. All 11 episodes are already available on three DVDs, and while I've only seen the old, low-res fansubs, I'm prepared to heartily recommend them.

May and Kazuya
Hand Maid May and Kazuya Saotome

Hand Maid May neatly joins two staples of anime: The robot-girlfriend and the maid-uniform genres. (See also Mahoromatic.) It's a fairly simple, silly, stereotypical anime in the giant-sweatdrops and "falling down after hearing something surprising" vein with rampant rampant fan service throughout the first episode. Somewhat ironically, because it's not at all ambitious, it succeeds brilliantly. Hand Maid May is simply a cute comedy about a clueless geek (Kazuya Saotome), his spirited sex bomb neighbor (Kasumi Tani), and a tiny devoted robot maid (Cyber Doll May), and on that level it works very well.

Okay, Kotaro Nambara (Kazuya Saotome's chief rival and antagonist) is incredibly annoying, albeit intentionally so. However, I am willing to cut him some slack because everyone else in the show is pretty charming. Besides, Nambara's voice actor is Ueda Yuuji, who also played Urashima Keitaro in Love Hina and later went on to do fairly innocuous soft core porn with Asakawa Yuu, the voice of Motoko from Love Hina and Sakaki from Azumanga Daioh. Whoop!