Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

Dated 8 December 2015: So many Aikatsu! episodes remaining

Idol activities are no joke.

Following up on this entry, I've started watching Aikatsu! again, starting over from the initial 2012 episodes but also jumping ahead to the current new season. Aikatsu! is a children's show about girls at some sort of magic middle school for idols. One significant characteristic of Aikatsu! that distinguishes it from, say, THE iDOLM@STER, Love Live! School Idol Project, AKB0048, or Wake Up, Girls! is that the show is nearly always incredibly upbeat and everyone seems to have a fantastic time doing idol activities. I can easily imagine 6-year-old girls watching these episodes every week and thinking, "Aww, I wish I were an idol." Hell, I can easily imagine 36-year-old salarymen watching these episodes every week and thinking, "Fuuuck, I wish I were an idol."


Dated 13 November 2015: I sure hope I don't need to watch every episode of Aikatsu! to appreciate it

Akari here is my go-to meteorologist. True story.

I may have made a terrible mistake dropping Aikatsu! back in 2012. Its start didn't impress me very much, but I've seen some pretty radical screenshots over the past three years and now I'm 150 episodes behind.

Dated 13 January 2013: Drinking to GIRLS und PANZER

For some reason Nagato Yuki owns a tea set and I don't.

I'm not sure if this really counts as anime product placement, but I bought some Darjeeling tea because of GIRLS und PANZER. It's pretty good, but I don't know if it's fifty-dollars-a-pound good. I don't have any tea cups, so I had to use an espresso mug. I also had to measure the temperature of the water with a thermometer I normally use for meat. Close enough, right?

Dated 5 January 2013: The problem with best of lists

"How can Little Busters! be #20 on the 2ch end-of-the-year poll?!"

The onset of winter brings a deluge of "best of" lists ranking shows from the past year in terms of quality and enjoyment. Let's face it, it seems every anime blogger and his kid sister puts out an annual tally come December and January. (Even I do something similar.) However, a simple perusal of these lists quickly reveals there is typically no consensus among them. And why should there be? It's all a matter of opinion. Nevertheless, some readers seem to readily take offense when Someone Is Wrong on the Internet. They will incredulously exclaim, "How can GIRLS und PANZER be the number-one show of 2012?" They'll complain their favorite show ranked too low. The jaded ones may insist that voters only picked such-and-such show because them kids don't know no better—not like Old Sport who has watched anime since he was from the womb untimely ripped.

Niconico screenshot of Little Busters!
Because 269 people voted for it, that's how.

Why does a need exist to "correct" a contrary viewpoint concerning cartoons? Perhaps there's an underlying need for vindication through third-party agreement, or maybe it's driven by desires to disassociate themselves from other anime fans. It makes me wonder how insecure people have to be to challenge the position who-knows-what anime places in this-or-that poll. After all, aren't the most vocal critics only attacking other people's taste in order to make themselves feel superior? I'm at a loss trying to identify any meaningful alternative reason. It seems to me a rational person would understand that matters of opinions are, well...purely subjective, making the instigation of such arguments rather pointless. Then again, I suppose complaining about anime is as legitimate a hobby as watching it.

Dated 1 January 2013: Announcing the 2012 Girl of the Year

Ami and Mami
Don't try and tell Ami and Mami there can be only one.

Choosing a 2012 Girl of the Year was more difficult than in previous years for two reasons. First, I watched fewer shows this year, so the pool of candidates is relatively small. For example, I encountered regular high praise for characters in Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, but being otherwise wholly ignorant of the show, none of them even got an initial glance. Second, there are numerous eligibility considerations that I had to reconcile.

This is not a very deep pool.

Revisiting nominations from earlier this year, I identified Yuuko from Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, Fujiko from Lupin III, Saki from Natsuiro Kiseki, and the unnamed female protagonist from Humanity Has Declined. With the benefit of having the autumn 2012 season in the bag, I am adding Cure Beauty from Smile Precure!, Medaka from Medaka Box and Medaka Box Abnormal, and the entire 765Pro roster from The iDOLM@STER TV.

It was the style at the time.

Here is one of the eligibility concerns I mentioned. Should iM@S characters qualify for the 2012 Girl of the Year contest? The television series concluded in 2011. However, the episode 26 OVA came out in 2012, and there were three additional episodes included with the Shiny Festa PSP games also released in 2012. I never explicitly disqualified OVAs and movies from consideration. (And if I did and simply forgot, I'm retconning that now.) If the Girl of the Year title can be awarded to a group, then shouldn't the BEST GIRL in that ensemble subsequently get a solo award? Not necessarily. Chihaya is the iDOLM@STER BEST GIRL, but I wouldn't call her 2012's Girl of the Year even though I am prepared to nominate Chihaya, Miki, Takane, Ritsuko, Haruka, Mami, Makoto, Iori, Hibiki, Ami, Azusa, Yayoi, Kotori, and Yukiho in a group nomination as I did in 2011.

It's not easy being dead.

Perhaps this is anti-climatic, but the 2012 winner wasn't really in doubt. Yuuko is amazing, but a lot of her appeal comes from the Tasogare Otome x Amnesia manga. She's hurt by the single-cour run of the anime and its disappointing cop-out non-ending to an otherwise good show.

Fujiko and Lupin
Better hope she doesn't punch you in the monkey.

Fujiko seemed like a shoo-in early in the year, but in retrospect I'm disappointed with the unevenness of her show itself. For Fujiko to win in 2012 I'd have to consider her (admittedly outstanding) previously established credentials. This worked for Mouri Ran, last year's winner, but 2011 Ran was exceptional while I can't claim the same of 2012 Fujiko.

Yuka, Saki, Natsumi, and Rin
Saki can't help being better.

Saki from Natsuiro Kiseki? Sigh. Tough call. She doesn't win, but definitely deserves special mention. Natsuiro Kiseki is chock full of wonderful Saki moments, probably appropriately since it really is her show despite being a putative Sphere vehicle for the quartet. We all know who's best. [Spoilers: It's Takagaki Ayahi, even though I love Haruka DeTomaso Pantera.]

Female Protagonist
Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
P.S. Fairies are assholes.

She who shall not be named in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita? Possibly seiyuu of the year, but not Girl of the Year. She's pretty good, and a worthy nomination, but just doesn't quite have enough to get by her competitors this year. Nakahara Mai really was superb in this role, though.

Cure Beauty
Guess what happens to people who don't get
out of Cure Beauty's way. Go on. Guess.

Cure Beauty? An almost automatic nomination and the only Smile Cure worth a damn, but she kinda makes herself look good by surrounding herself with less capable people. I'm pleased Toei was consistent with her characterization throughout the course of the year-long season. If they ever adopt the Pretty Cure Team-Up idea as a way to manage the huge numbers of mahou shoujo now in play (without marginalizing the older ones as New Stage 1 did), I could easily see her busting heads side-by-side with the early-generation Cures. Cure Peace? Not so much.

Medaka, Naze, and Koga
Medaka is not subtle.

Medaka? Just good enough for a nomination, but that's all. I sure hope Neo Gainax continues churning out her anime so Anshin'in can boat race the competition next year or the year after.

Idolm@ster is so good I think I need to buy more Ace Combat planes.

So how about all the iM@S girls? I really wanted to give them the group win, but I can't quite do it for 2012. All right, so who does win? Think about it. Do you really have to ask?

P.S. Soryu is still > Shikinami.

Asuka Shikinami Langley. Wait, why? Because Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo came out in 2012, because OVAs and movies do qualify, because a previous body of work may be taken into consideration as a factor, and because this entire contest is rigged. OMEDETOU, sweetheart.

Dated 28 December 2012: Autumn 2012 season summary

It turns out you can bully a girl into seizing the reins of destiny.

I knew that GIRLS und PANZER was going to be good, but I certainly wasn't expecting it to be so popular. As others have pointed out, GIRLS und PANZER sets the new standard for anime catering to military otaku. This is largely due to its extensive attention to detail, but it also doesn't forget to remain accessible to general audiences. You don't need to catch a Sergeant Oddball reference to appreciate Yukari infiltrating the Not American school in a Sunkus uniform. Sadly, GIRLS und PANZER may have been a bit ambitious in its planning and production. The show's finest moment is unavailable to Western audiences (officially, anyway) due to copyright and licensing issues. Its final two episodes have also been pushed until spring 2013. Personally, I'm glad studio Actas decided to work to standard and not to time, so I'm all right with the delay.


Dated 24 December 2012: Filler blog post not actually about GIRLS und PANZER

Manami and Aoi
Well, I guess they weren't exactly worried about their getaway.

A discerning GIRLS und PANZER fan questioned the accuracy of showing tanks moving as fast and as nimbly as they do in the show. I'm okay with seeing these tanks drift through corners during an action scene. (There was snow.) On the other hand, any car chase involving a HMMWV requires the suspension of quite a bit of disbelief on my part. Military Humvees are pretty slow. For example, in episode two of Asobi ni Iku yo!, err, Cat Planet Cuties, Aoi's Mustang Shelby GT500 should have lost its pursuers quite easily without resorting to Spy Hunter tricks. P.S. Spoilers.

Dated 9 December 2012: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Medaka Box Abnormal are basically the same show

JoJo and Zeppeli share a tender moment.

Okay, I don't really believe that JoJo's Bizarre Adventure and Medaka Box Abnormal are basically the same show, but there are some similarities that you can't ignore. Principally, both shows are essentially about increasingly implausible battles between overpowered fighters with superhuman abilities. I guess technically the fighters only start out as superhuman or special in Medaka Box Abnormal, whereas in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure these abilities are triggered by external influences or inspired by having sufficient willpower or emotional commitment. Also mountain training and stuff. Whatever. Does this make Medaka Box Abnormal sort of chuunibyou because its characters are supposed to be special? Look, don't even start. And let's not even consider whether people can be considered special or abnormal if everyone else around them has absurd abilities too.

Naze and Maguro
Naze and Maguro share a tender moment.

Does that mean people who like JoJo's Bizarre Adventure will like Medaka Box Abnormal also? Not necessarily. Perhaps if their enjoyment comes from the one-upmanship as new abilities manifest during heroic moments of crisis, but Medaka Box lacks burly men and nearly all its ass-shots are of girls. Personally, I suspect some JoJo fans are motivated more by efforts to distance themselves from the despicable moé-tuned crowd while convincing themselves that watching anime can still be cool even if it does come STRAIGHT FROM JAPAN. But apart from its origins in the historically significant and influential JoJo's Bizarre Adventure manga, I'm not sure I can claim the anime is particularly noteworthy when viewed strictly in and of itself. Then again, I'm an odious newbie anime fan who knew nothing of JoJo prior to the anime, and moreover, I consider Medaka to be Toyosaki Aki's best role to date. What do I know?