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Dated 14 January 2020: 22/7, In/Spectre, and Fate/Baby are my top three shows of the Winter 2020 anime season

Ishtar
Ishtar is a game-breaking home run.

If you believe in my B.S. episode ratings, Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia) is my highest-ranked show so far this season. Fate/Baby sure sounds great and looks fuckin' fantastic, but I can't exactly call it a good show. It's one of those anime where I can't quite care about what happens, and it probably only genuinely makes sense to people who are enthusiastic about the Fate/Grand Order game. But none of that presents much of an obstacle to my ability to enjoy the series. I mentioned that it sounds great, and that's not just because it features Ueda Kana yammering back and forth on a regular basis. The audio mix for the sound effects during the frequent battles makes for an entertaining experience if you've bothered with an audio setup that can take advantage of it. Visually, the animation also remains impeccable.

Sakura, Miu, and Reika
Welcome to to idol mines, suckers.

Thankfully, 22/7 (Nanabun no Nijyuuni) also looks good. I'm expecting some janky 3DCG bits once we get to the all-singing, all-dancing portions of this idol show, but the anime looks pretty good so far, at least. I've been medium-hyped for 22/7 for some time now, thanks to Sally Amaki being a bilingual goofball on the Twitter. I'm hoping her character gets some English lines that aren't complete non sequiturs, though. Each of the idols had a different character designer, but the styles got evened out so they look more uniform when they're together. (Like in the Pretty Cure team-up movies.) This is the sensible thing to do, but I sort of wish they could have remained unique for reasons not at all explained in the show.

Kotoko
Nice hat.

I wasn't sure what to expect from In/Spectre (Kyokou Suiri), but I knew fans of the manga were looking forward to the anime adaptation, and the trailer looked okay. The first episode was good, and I like Kotoko so far, even though she doesn't have any depth perception. She also seems to move pretty well, despite her prosthetic leg. It sort of seems as if her cane is mostly for show. Frankly, it's a little early yet to judge In/Spectre (or 22/7, for that matter), but my top three anime of Winter 2020 at the moment all have / in their titles, and this was a serendipitous bloggering opportunity I didn't want to pass up. I'm sure y'all understand.

Dated 15 October 2019: I'm pretending to watch Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia for reasons other than Ishtar

Ishtar, Mash, Fou, and Ritsuka
Potato-kun, are you wearing capri pants on this expedition?

The actual story and lore associated with Fate/Grand Order is incomprehensible to me because everything I know about it comes from secondary or tertiary sources such as people on the Twitter talking about the game, or from its fan art, or from people on the Twitter talking about the game's fan art. And while I have a semi-coherent understanding of the original Fate/stay night game, the currently airing Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia) anime is so removed from those origins that what I do know doesn't help at all. Compounding the problem, the anime seems to be adapting the seventh major arc of the FGO game, so there's an implied understanding that viewers should be familiar with the equivalent of six previous seasons. After the prologue and two proper episodes (plus the Fate/Grand Order -First Order- OVA), I'm still sort of lost.

Ishtar
I can't rule out the possibility Marisa stole Ishtar's shit.

Thankfully, it seems recognizing references or knowing all the lore is not strictly necessary to enjoying the Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia anime. For one thing, it looks fantastic, and is probably the first solid example of a show where I can clearly identify 3DCG elements without having any of it bother me at all. (Okay, the lions bother me a little bit.) For example, flowing water actually looks as if it belongs in the same world. Additionally, the action scenes are entertaining, albeit rather busy. There is a lot of shit going on and a lot of cuts that seem designed to impress via fancy animation. Well, they are fancy, and I am impressed, but I think I'd prefer a less frantic style. Really, though, these are minor complaints on my part at best (even the stuff about the incomprehensible lore). As a matter of general principle, I'll almost certainly continue to watch Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia for as long as it runs, providing it periodically features Ishtar doing Ishtar-type things.

Dated 9 December 2014: ufotable's Fate/stay night would be a lot better if it wasn't for Fate/stay night

Saber
Saber works better as a supporting character than as a lead.

I'm not entirely convinced Fate/stay night needed a remake. Whipping boy Studio DEEN's first adapted this TYPE-MOON game in 2006 with the Saber-centric "Fate" route, followed by a 2010 movie based on the Rin-tastic "Unlimited Blade Works" route. Logically, the Sakura-suffering "Heaven's Feel" route should be next, but it appears ufotable plans on adapting it (as a movie) after animating their own "Unlimited Blade Works" project, this time as a television series that sort of succeeds ufotable's 2011 Fate/Zero prequel.

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Dated 1 February 2014: It appears there are two shows about Nobunaga this season

Shio
It's a good thing this gun doesn't have any mass.

Everything I know about Japan's Sengoku era I learned from manga and anime. However, even in that respect, my knowledge of this period of history is woefully incomplete. There are a ridiculous number of Nobunaga-themed anime and manga, and I've watched or read basically none of them. In fact, most of what I do know comes from one anime, Oda Nobuna no Yabou and one (excellent) food manga, Nobunaga no Chef. Considering that at least one Nobunaga anime appears to have aired nearly every season of every single year since his death in 1582, that's a lot of Nobunaga anime I've missed.

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Dated 5 August 2011: Summer 2011 initial impressions

Rin
I won't buy you lipstick because you don't have any lips.

Usagi Drop surprised me by being much better than I expected. After five solid episodes to open the series, it has climbed to the top of the list. However, it is a good thing Rin is such a nice, well-mannered, and thoughtful kid. Were it Daikichi's sister's cousin's devil child twisting in the wind in episode one, I wager that brat would be on her own and the show would have to be about her bouncing from home to home in foster care or something. I heard there's a timeskip in the manga, but I also heard the anime might not make it that far. I've not read any of the manga nor learned any spoilers aside from knowing the timeskip exists, but I wonder if it has to do with how Daikichi's concern for Rin is very paternal yet Rin explicitly rejects him as a father?

Yuina and Minko
Daikon goes in here.

Hanasaku Iroha remains one of my favorite shows this season, although it really needs more Minko and Tomoe episodes. It also needs less of Ohana's spineless uncle and that wretched consultant lady he dragged to the inn—a lot less. Hopefully now that the movie fiasco is over we can move on to more Minko episodes about her unrequited love for daikon and Tohru, preferably without overdoing Tohru's guilty boners for Ohana.

Cure Beat
Cure Beat's guitar is full of mercy.

The Cure Beat arc of Suite Precure exceeds expectations, probably because it puts the Cure Muse mystery arc on hold for now. Cure Beat needs to reverse her windmill move, though, and do it Pete Townshend style. I, for one, am pretty glad Suite Precure is turning into FLCL instead of K-On! I'm also impressed by the new transformation sequences and the quality of some of the recent fight scenes.

Miike
THE ENFORCER. Well, the parking enforcer anyway.

Wait, did Tanaka Rie just join Detective Conan's menagerie of regular characters? I swear that was her.

I should probably say more about Detective Conan because Something Important happened last season. However...spoilers.

Chihaya
Chihaya appears to use Sony MDR-V6 headphones.

Sony MDR-V6 headphones
We're headphone buddies!

Idolm@ster needs more song and dance numbers. I presume the absence of music from the first episode was a stylistic choice designed to fit the documentary framework. The show is all right so far, but because there are purportedly many former current Gainax staff members behind the show, I'm hoping for a Gainax ending—possibly with more Bio Concerto. In related news, Chihaya by a mile. Chihaya > Miki > Ritsuko > Azusa > Makoto > Takane > Kotori > Hibiki > Yayoi > Iori > Mami > Ami > Haruka > Yukiho.

Huey's Imco lighter
The real star of Dantalian no Shoka is Huey's Imco lighter.

Imco lighter
You may recognize it from Haibane Renmei
as the lighter Reki uses.

I'm mostly watching Dantalian no Shoka out of general principle because of Gainax. Huey seems all right. I was impressed during the first episode when he revealed he wasn't another damn Potato-kun. However, I am getting pretty tired of Dalian's tsundere bitchiness. Her lack of charisma is going to wear on me, even if she does say "YES" all the time. (Bad gourds don't say "no.")

Masa
Masa stole Aoi's haircut.

Uta no Prince-sama - Maji Love 1000% was less gay than I expected, but I can't find a reason to keep watching it. This is not Miracle Train. Miracle Train was actually pretty good. Prince-sama just has Wakamoto Norio playing Wakamoto-Norio-playing-a-character as its main draw. I haven't officially dropped it yet, but I'm also in no hurry to watch the second episode.

Aoi and Haruka
Twin Angel needs more Galaxy Angel.

I only watched Kaito Tenshi Twin Angel - Kyun Kyun☆Tokimeki Paradise!! because of Asakawa Yuu. I'm sorry to say the first episode was horrible. Consider it dropped. I'm hoping it turns out to be a lot better later on. I'll start watching again it if I see a lot of people sucking up to @julia320 on Twitter praising the show. This has not happened yet.

Dated 25 July 2002: Love Hina

I have heard good things about Love Hina for years. The buzz for both the manga and the anime was uniformly good enough that I kept it on the radar and made an effort to avoid spoilers. Now that I've finally seen the anime, I am happy to say that as much as Serial Experiments Lain disappointed me earlier, the brilliance of Love Hina exceeded my wildest expectations.

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