Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

Dated 29 January 2018: DARLING in the FRANXX is more than a one-way reflection

The robots are named after flowers, but I don't know if there is any meaning to it.

Studio Trigger's Gainax heritage basically guarantees I'll give any of its shows a try. They haven't all been hits, but I'll generally find at least something to enjoy. DARLING in the FRANXX is Studio Trigger's two-cours science fiction partnership with A-1 Pictures featuring giant robots and lots of sexual allegories. The show is not at all subtle, with wall-to-wall metaphors about marriage, intercourse, orgasm, infidelity, and polyandry. And that's just the first three episodes. Unfortunately, it also stars an exceptionally dull teenage boy (because of course it does). At least he isn't a whiny brat, I guess. (That role was already taken by one of the supporting cast.)


Dated 10 March 2013: Big non-finish, here we come

Himawari and Wakaba
It's clenched buttocks all the way down.

I have no idea how Vividred Operation will wrap itself up in its remaining three or four episodes. Seeing as how it's still introducing and developing the relationships among the characters, it will either feel really rushed or we'll be blessed with a second cour of clenching butts in tiny short shorts. It's possible my expectations are a little too high for this show, now that I think about it. Either way, this is still far and away the best show of the season, even if Princess Kraehe never performs any ballet.


Dated 13 February 2013: Notes taken with a voice recorder

To be honest, Rei is taking this relatively well.

With apologies to ani-nouto for stealing its shtick, let's give this a try.

I'm going to start calling her Cure Sam Spade and hope it catches on.

In re Dokidoki! Precure episode two:

  • What are you doing? She'll be fine. I'm pretty sure Cure Sam Spade could survive a fall from orbit.
  • Cure White Lie.
  • I'm pretty sure introducing gold and spreading it around a closed mercantilist economy with no external trading partners will only produce inflation. And apparently it also kills swallows.

Vividred Operation should just frame an entire episode
with the POV centered between Rei's thighs.

In re Vividred Operation episode five:

  • When this baby gets to 200%, you're going to see some serious shit.
  • Why didn't you take her to a hospital?
  • I'm pretty sure Akane is just using this as an excuse to continue stripping her naked.
  • Rei's life doesn't suck enough. It should be more like...Kotoura's life. Well, like Kotoura's life before it got better.
  • I'm also pretty sure that bird is Lieutenant Hayase. [P.S. Spoilers.]

Masuzu and Eita
Does that mean they're not pretending to be boyfriend and girlfriend anymore?

In re Oreshura episode six:

  • Oreshura, adding a new girl is almost never a good idea.
  • This must be the episode where they couldn't spend any money.
  • This girl kinda sucks.
  • Fight the power.
  • This is a pretty lackluster episode.
  • Chiwa still sucks.
  • I'm going to be really disappointed if there isn't more bullying this episode.
  • This girl actually sucks more than Chiwa.
  • It's kinda comical how little effort the bodyguard has to expend to keep Eita away.
  • Does this mean that everyone is now aware of Eita's chuuni past? I'm not exactly clear as to how that all played out, and I'm not familiar with the corresponding sequence of the original light novel.

Dated 26 January 2013: Vividred Operation is three for three

Akane and Momo
I'm surprised there wasn't a Momo POV shot immediately after this.

Vividred Operation is not exactly a high-brow show, but it is consistently entertaining and there have been no occasions to complain about its production quality or execution. I'm also very pleased with its pacing through the first three episodes. Some people felt Vividred rushed Wakaba's introduction and integration in episode three, but while I would agree in the context of a 26-episode series, I don't think there's any time to waste during what will almost certainly be a 12- or 13-episode run. Hopefully, Himawari's introduction in episode four will be similarly quick.

Where did her bow go?

After these introductions, Vividred can get down to business devoting the remaining eight episodes to unfucking Rei's shit, and befriending the Bejesus out of her. Or maybe Rei ends up killing them all. It won't happen, but I'd be okay with that. Rei is going to be the lynchpin behind the success or failure of Vividred. If you can suffer another not-necessarily-apropos comparison with Strike Witches, the Alone appear to be as unengaging and faceless as the Neuroi. I'm sorry, but you can't try to build action scenes around bland opponents that nobody cares about.

I re-watched this to confirm it was a sunrise, not a sunset.

Using cardboard bad guys didn't work in Strike Witches, it certainly didn't work during the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS training arcs, and it won't work in Vividred with the Alone if Rei doesn't instill some life into the fights. It's possible to have have emotionless enemies that the audience finds engaging (see, for example, the first two Terminator movies), but they'll at least need to be menacing or unique in some way.

I promise this is the last time I will make this joke.

As long as Rei ensures there will be an antagonist we care about in future episodes of Vividred, then the show will basically have everything. You want fighting? It's got fighting. You want flying girls hitting things with giant hammers? It's got that too. Standing-in-circles magic and fancy transformations? Yes. Bridge operators swiveling around to holler SITREPs to the commander? Well, yeah. Befriending enemies? Count on it. A talking weasel/otter/ferret/probably-not-a-mink thing? Of course. Butts? It's got butts. Fresh fruit? Holy shit, it's got fresh fruit. And how. (Tomato is a fruit, okay.)

Dated 22 September 2010: This Mid-Autumn Festival Asobi ni Iku yo! entry is not about Manami's mooncakes

Aoi and Manami
These are the worst disguises, ladies.

Remember that part in the movie Beautiful Girls where they talk about tits and asses? Not the scene with the preternaturally precocious Natalie Portman, but the one with Rosie O'Donnell arguing about how God is fair.

Evil is such a strong word.

Yeah, apparently Futaba Aoi never got that memo. Either that or I've discovered where that suit hides its power source.

In other news, I don't understand why Aoi doesn't use that teleportation power of hers to snatch weapons and bomb triggers away from her opponents.

Dated 25 May 2009: The lesson in Hatsukoi Limited

Miss Kei "Two Years" Enomoto.

Hatsukoi Limited is very much about otaku wish fulfillment, but it executes these moments so well I absolve it from blame. The fan service in Hatsukoi Limited is overt, but sincere. Moreover, the fan service is diffused through nostalgia-colored glasses with thick coats of optimism. This is first love, best case scenario, and J.C. Staff is careful at presenting it to the viewer.

Ayumi in a nurse costume.

You can kind of see it in the ED. The Hatsukoi Limited girls spend the ED dressed up in various fetish-type outfits, but they're clearly wearing costumes. For example, Ayumi wears a nurse costume, not a nurse uniform. The distinction is important because it suggests a certain awareness that perhaps breaks the fourth wall a bit, but at least seems more earnest and honest about its reasons for doing so. It's fan service, but it doesn't pretend not to be.


Nothing in Hatsukoi Limited through six episodes has been groundbreaking. It relies on old staples, but J.C. Staff executes them very skillfully. He likes her, but she likes that guy. That guy likes that girl, but she likes someone else, and this guy likes this girl. Oh, what a mess. It's simple, but stories of unrequited love are time-tested and proven. And they work well in Hatsukoi Limited.

Kudada and Kei
In heels, Kei towers over Kusada.

They aren't all unrequited love stories. There is at least one potential pair with obviously mutual attraction, but their own boneheadedness keeps them apart. That's a time-tested and proven formula too. And it'll probably be the crux of the Hatsukoi Limited climax during its too-short run. I hope it's not really only going to be 12 episodes, because that's a painful "read the manga" tease, although at four volumes the manga sounds too short also.

Rika wearing leotard? Hoodie? Pajamas? I dunno.

It's not really enough time to develop all these characters. We know Rika is the athletic one because she has darker skin, short hair, and she wears bike shorts under her skirt. Yet she's surprisingly feminine instead of being pigeonholed into being a typical anime tomboy character. Her eyes, feathered hair, and voice are feminine at least. Chances are, though, the show isn't going to devote much more than episode seven towards developing her character and romantic entanglements. Kei will probably get the bulk of the remaining screentime, if my guess is right.

Yuu and Kei
The Enomoto sisters.

Surprisingly, Kei is DIRTY—at least as measured by the content of her fantasies (such as the one that takes place in an alley!) and her eagerness for trying on racy outfits. She's more of a freak than Kusada. I don't know what the deal is with her baby-faced sister, though.


The remaining characters likely won't get much screentime at all. Nao spent so much of the first episode with her face hidden in her hands I wasn't even sure if it was her or not when that one putz crashed into her in episode five.


It'll be criminal to leave open Misaki questions unanswered.

Meguru is the American, if you know what I mean.

Like Zyl, I was rather unsympathetic towards Meguru because of her willingness to waste Olympic-level talent. I'll let it go if they just meant the Junior Olympics, but really, non-sports anime are entirely too cavalier when it comes to offhandedly dismissing the rarity of truly exceptional athletic talent. It also didn't help her arc was probably better suited for a half-episode; filling an entire episode made it seem a little too drawn out.

I don't know who these characters are yet
I don't know who these characters are yet.

It's unfair to Meguru, but dragging out a short arc to fill an episode wastes valuable time in a short series considering not all of the characters have even been introduced yet by the halfway mark.

Sleeping Kei
Tiny pictures are the way of love.

Then again, maybe that's the lesson of Hatsukoi Limited: First love is fleeting, as is youth. Enjoy it while it lasts, because all too soon it will be gone. I suppose that's a far better option than suffering though interminable manga and anime that never end.

Dated 7 May 2009: Hatsukoi Limited

Yuuji and Ayumi
Ayumi is the strongest.

Through five episodes, the endearing Cross Game is the best show this season, but with four episodes down, Hatsukoi Limited is an unexpected close second. I didn't expect much from this J.C. Staff light comedy, but it is funny and engaging and seems likely to ride high on J.C. Staff's strengths. It also has the best fan service this season if you care about that sort of thing. (Queen's Blade may have the most, but far from the best.) Misaki's Girl Next Door powers are fearsome.

Doba is the fastest.

Hatsukoi Limited combines intertwined stories of unrequited love. Secondary characters in one episode take the lead in the next. None of them find romance (at least not yet) as the objects of their affection inevitably have their eyes cast elsewhere. School Rumble at its best relied on stories of unrequited love in much the same way, but School Rumble also suffered from an unwillingness to resolve any of the potential romances. The surely hazardous sea of manga spoilers likely renders such speculation moot, but I hope Hatsukoi Limited will not suffer from School Rumble's cowardice by failing to let its stories advance.

Kei is the tsunderest.

It's still early yet, but there do appear opportunities for genuine romances to develop. Naturally, these potential couples manage to make things difficult for themselves thanks to their own silliness, even though the viewer knows they would be perfect for each other. In this way, with its couples who can't get together, and one-sided hopeless romantics chasing pipe dreams, Hatsukoi Limited leans on many of the staples that make Shakespeare's comedies so entertaining centuries after they were written.

Wait, did you just compare Hatsukoi Limited to Shakespeare?

Well, I wouldn't put it that way exactly, but this is the kind of light romance Hatsukoi Limited feels like. And with J.C. Staff at the helm, it stands a pretty good chance of maintaining the charm and hopeless romanticism that have elevated the first four episodes above any right they have to be. Shakespeare's romantic comedies do rely on many of the same near misses and confounding pigheadedness of potential couples, so I think the limited comparison is valid. It's not like I'm suggesting Gonzo's Kiddy Grade is actually based on Twelfth Night, you know. [Spoilers: Viola and Cesario are actually the same person.]

Kusada and Misaki
Misaki is a sex bomb.

In any case, I know I'm in good company when I say Hatsukoi Limited is excellent. Reactions I've seen thus far have consisted of universal praise. Nevertheless, I've still had very limited success convincing people to begin watching Hatsukoi Limited. I presume this is related to its rather simple synopsis and generally unremarkable description. But like Kannagi before it, Hatsukoi Limited succeeds through brilliant execution. As with Kannagi, Hatsukoi Limited is proof execution can be more important than concepts if the shows are done sufficiently well—and so far Hatsukoi Limited is done very well indeed.

Dated 7 January 2009: End of season review, Autumn 2008

Nodame is more than a little imperfect, but
she makes up for it by being a sweetheart

Autumn 2008 did not produce any stellar shows1, meaning there wasn't a Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, Honey & Clover, Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann, or the like. There wasn't even a Lovely Complex. However, it did have some very solid titles and a few shows that demonstrated mid-series potential as they resume during the Winter 2009 season.

Not fully pictured: Saki's ridiculously enormous hammer.

Final rankings for shows I watched this season follow:

Kannagi > Nodame Cantabile: Paris Chapter > Hyakko > Toradora! > Shikabane Hime: Aka > Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight OVA > One Outs | Dropped: Kemeko DX (4) > Kurozuka (4) > Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka (?) > Casshern Sins (1) > Mouryou no Hako (1) > Toaru Majutsu no Index (4) > Michiko to Hatchin (1) | Worse Than Cosprayers: Kiss x Sis (1) > Macademi Wasshoi (1).

Amagasa and Torako
Torako is more than a little imperfect, but
she makes up for it by tormenting people.

Two big surprises this season. First, I had dismissed Kannagi based on its pre-season description, but it proved to be the cream of the crop. Second, I wasn't expecting to still be watching Shikabane Hime at this stage. Thankfully, it has kept shounen jive (e.g., too much standing around talking about powers instead of fighting) to a minimum. By the way, I totally called that Yui Horie twist even before I finished watching episode one, just so you know.

I went 10 episodes before noticing Makina's bare ass in the OP.
Now I can't not see it. It's Shikabane Hime's FEDEX arrow.

To give you an understanding as to how much I loathe shounen jive, bear in mind I dropped To Aru Majutsu no Index after episode four despite fully supporting the Shizuka Itou character's decision to wear half a pair of jeans with her kid sister's t-shirt. I just couldn't take any more speeches about Not Thinking About Other People's Feelings or any more boasting about fine nuances of Special Techniques and Powers. Criminy.

I think I've actually seen people in L.A. dressed like this.

Many of the shows I dropped early on (for example, Casshern Sins) might actually be very good, but just didn't capture my interest. This is the same reason why I dropped Kaiba a couple seasons ago after watching no more than two episodes despite almost universal acclaim, for example.

Note 01: I'm not counting any of the Kara no Kyoukai movies as belonging to the Autumn 2008 season. Any of the films in this series would certainly qualify as stellar.