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Dated 7 January 2020: Rifle Is Beautiful misses the mark

Maho
I wonder how well those sights hold zero.

Ordinarily, you would expect me to be pretty positive about Rifle Is Beautiful (Chidori RSC). I mean, I do have a Firearms category for this blog. Unfortunately, the show fails both as a niche anime about guns and more generally as a sports anime. Regarding the first part, well, the "beam rifle" thing is just a little too niche. There are brief references in the show to air rifles, but I guess getting into that sport in Japan is barely a step removed from getting into Sensha-do.

Hikari and Izumi
Have gun. Will travel.

Failing as a sports anime is the biggest flaw in Rifle Is Beautiful, though. Specifically, none of the competitions have any tension, and I never felt invested in the outcome. Part of this is the short length of the show hampering development, but there's also no clear distinction between the good shooters and the exceptional ones. You just sort of have to take the show's word for it. Ultimately, I don't have any idea how to fix Chidori RSC. The show is not actually over yet. It seems the final episode is delayed. Ergo, there's still a chance it can turn itself around with a big finish, but I get the feeling that's something of a, uh, long shot.

Dated 31 December 2019: Ascendance of a Bookworm is good, but I've lost all interest in watching more

Main and Gunther
Did fist bumps already exists in this community or did Main introduce them?

I find the individual episodes of Honzuki no Gekokujō - Shisho ni Naru Tame niwa Shudan o Erandeiramasen (Ascendance of a Bookworm) reasonably well done, but there's something about the show as a whole that I find rather unappealing. I've never been able to precisely identify what the issue was, but now I guess I don't have to. Honzuki is getting a (split-cours) second season which starts in April, but I think I'm done with this franchise.

Main
You're not Alice. Why are you so yellow now?

So, spoilers for the first season's grand finale, but Honzuki somewhat abruptly switched from "Main's disease will eventually kill her" to "we found a solution to Main's disease, but this social class we've entirely ignored up until this very moment will capriciously kill you and your entirely family and there's nothing you can do about it unless you're strong in The Force." I don't have any problem with including these sorts of elements in a fantasy show, but the way Ascendance of a Bookworm is putting all its pieces together is not at all compelling. I'd much rather watch more chuuni magic school battle nonsense like Assassin's Pride than more Honzuki, to tell you the truth.

Dated 24 December 2019: I didn't plan to write back-to-back Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld entries

Yui
Go on, Yui, curse the bitches out.

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld has a mind of its own. Or at least, Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld is about AIs having minds of their own. Specifically, Alice Synthesis Thirty MacGuffin is the prize AI the bad men are trying to seize because she is a real girl. Never mind that Sword Art Online has had a Real Girl AI almost from the start in the form of Yui, Kirito's and Asuna's adopted daughter. Yui isn't even a secret!

Pope
It's not easy being pope.

For that matter, I'm not sure there's any meaningful distinction between the Underworld AI yahoos and the "real world" regular-ass people. I certainly regard Alice as being every bit as much as a real character as I do, say, Asuna, even though Alice is very yellow. I definitely regarded the pope as being more of a real person than nearly every other Sword Art Online villain (including the current ones). Ultimately, this has a lot less to do with Alice and the pope being AIs than it does with Sword Art Online having lots of terribly written characters—especially when it comes to its villains.

Alice
This reminds me I need to get a new video card.

I'm inclined to believe Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld theoretically could actually have something intelligent to say about artificial intelligence and what makes someone a real person, but any chance it had got undermined by the really awful writing that has plagued the franchise from the beginning. I still find it entertaining, even though Alice is very yellow, but I do wish the franchise would move past its more egregious tropes. The Ordinal Scale movie accomplished this with some success, but it seems to be the exception, not the norm.

Dated 17 December 2019: The war in Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld is not much of a war

Alice
This break in the battle has lasted so long that Alice changed into her pajamas.

It's not particularly sensible to demand accurate war-type stuff in an anime, especially something like Sword Art Online, but they did put War in the title, and they have been building up to this particular conflict for some time. What we've gotten instead is tens of thousands of random schmucks directly facing each other in a narrow canyon making no effort to do anything other than having head-to-head fights. Some people might claim that the battles at least look pretty cool, but that's a concession I'm not willing to make this season, what with Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia raising the bar to ridiculous new levels every week now.

<Divine> Maybe that's just what happens when two sides who don't know what war is given it a try

That's basically it. Now, I'm not unreasonable enough to demand "actually realistic" war in my SAO ~ War Is All Hell ~ anime, but I would have given it a pass without commenting on it had it at least aspired to, say, Strike Witches: War on Underpants levels of realism.

Asuna and Alice
This show is called Alicization, not Asunization, toots.

Now that I've got this bitching out of the way, I guess I can get around to the main point of this post: Spoiling the most recent episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld. So, Asuna finally logs into the AI world and is immediately beset upon by an extremely yellow blur. Everyone eventually calms the fuck down, though. They even listen to the batshit crazy things Asuna tells them. Frankly, I'm impressed they don't even seem irked that she's referring to her own world as the "real world." Yeah, these AIs are living in a computer, but it probably feels pretty real to them. I would be at least a little insulted. On the plus side, at least she isn't being racist about it.

Kirito
Have you tried rebooting the Kirito in the "real world"?

I'm generally pro-Asuna, even though she hasn't fared particularly well as an actual character in Sword Art Online as a franchise. It was also not encouraging to see all the latest members of Kirito's ever-expanding harem butt in for additional deban and to boast about how great their times with him have been. Hopefully, they're getting all of this out of the way now, and maybe the show can go back to leaving him in a wagon somewhere while Alice is off doing very yellow very important things. I'm okay with Asuna coming along too, providing she doesn't spend all her time talking about Kirito.

Dated 3 December 2019: Still enjoying Kono Oto Tomare! despite (or because of) all the drama

Hozuki
Hozuki is still Best Girl even though she's nice to people now.

The second cours of Kono Oto Tomare! Sounds of Life continues to satisfy with its steady stream of people being judgmental assholes. That bit from the first cours where smug douches jump to conclusions based on false accusations and totally unfair assumptions reappears here, but still manages to avoid crossing into irritating territory. It's a fine line, but I like how the show doles out the inevitable comeuppance and vindicates the accused.

Akira
You're okay. Try not to drive into a hedge.

I don't know how the source material is paced, but a bunch of characters are piling into the show as of the most recent episode, presumably in a rush to work in all the bits related to the upcoming competition before the season ends. This does work to its detriment, but it's the sort of thing I'm willing to excuse since the sum of the parts totals favorably. I'm not expecting further episodes of Kono Oto Tomare! after this season ends, but I'd watch more.

Dated 26 November 2019: There sure are a lot of anime-original episodes of Detective Conan these days

Conan
Well, this hasn't changed at all.

Surprising almost one one, I'm sure, there are not a lot of plot-specific episodes of Detective Conan. Rather, there are probably readers who may be legitimately surprised to hear that Detective Conan even has a plot. Even though most episodes of the show do not feature any continuity, the anime-original ones are notably inferior to the non-plot-specific episodes that at least still derive from the source manga. I can usually tell when an episode is an anime original, mostly because the mystery's contrivances will be stupid instead of merely silly, and oftentimes characters will do something perplexing simply because the action more easily advances the story from point A to point B. Basically, I'll be watching an episode, and something will happen to make me think it's an anime-original one, and when I check later it will turn out I was right. In fact, I'm not sure I've been wrong yet.

Ai
I'm pretty happy Hayashibara Megumi continues to have regular appearances, even if Ai seems sort of bored.

Having a greater ratio of anime-original episodes in Detective Conan now is perfectly understandable, seeing as how the anime has nearly exhausted the available cases from the source manga by this point. One of the secondary impacts, though, is that this means I can no longer reliably use Detective Conan as my control. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, I started rating shows by episode as a goof years ago, but then the chart kept growing and now it's just one of those things I guess I'm going to continue doing indefinitely. But I also can't assume that my rating standards will remain consistent from season to season and year to year. Hence, I used Detective Conan as my control, theorizing that I could count on such a long-running show to remain pretty much as good as it ever was. Therefore, how much better or worse another show's rating is relative to the average Detective Conan score for the same time period would offer a reliable check on quality beyond the numerical scores themselves. This is probably no longer the case if there are more anime-original episodes of Detective Conan now, and assuming the anime-original episodes are not as good. I guess I'm going to need to come up with some other form of sham metric now. Alas.

Dated 19 November 2019: It's probably a little hypocritical for me to be so stoked about Aikatsu! On Parade

Raki
Idol activities are no joke.

One of my pet peeves is people who insist on watching sequels without catching up on previous seasons first, just so they can feel like they're part of a current wave of hype. I'm expecting to see examples of this in January when the second season of that Quintuplets show starts (5-Toubun no Hanayome 2). Likewise, Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka☆Magica Gaiden may generate enough attention that newer fans who haven't seen the original anime (from nine years ago already!) and/or its movies might want to jump straight in without catching up first. Naturally, I'll discourage that practice. However, at the same time, I'm enjoying Aikatsu! On Parade even though there are literally hundreds of older Aikatsu! episodes that I haven't seen, to include the entirety of Aikatsu! Stars and Aikatsu! Friends.

Sumire, Akari, and Hinaki
As nightmares go, this don't seem so bad.

However, I am a sucker for crossovers, so the prospect of seeing Ichigo, Aoi, Ran, Akari, et al. return is a gimmick I can't ignore. Unfortunately, it does mean that the Aikatsu! On Parade episodes that feature idols from Stars or Friends go underappreciated, since I'm entirely unfamiliar with their characters. I do find this validates my stance against skipping ahead to watch sequels without being caught up, despite the hypocrisy of disregarding the principle when it suits me. And I guess to be fair, I absolutely do not expect anyone interested in watching Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T next season to watch all the Index and Accelerator seasons first too. Additionally, I also don't know if the upcoming Madoka anime even shares continuity with the original. Being caught up is potentially not really necessary there either. Just don't try and tell yourself it's okay to watch Heya Camp△ without watching Yuru Camp△ first, fuckers.

Dated 12 November 2019: Assassin's Pride sort of disappoints me, but I mean that as a compliment

Elise and Melida
Melida is still not as yellow as Alice Synthesis XXX

I had low expectations for Assassin's Pride because of its synopsis: "Kufa is a noble born to a duke's family who is sent to tutor a young woman named Merida. If it turns out that Merida has no talent with mana, Kufa is secretly instructed to assassinate her." It also looked to be super-chuuni, but I gave it a chance anyway, though, because sometimes I'm just in the mood for super-chuuni bullshit. It turns out the first episode at least had visually neat aspects suggesting the people making the anime were not just phoning it in despite the show's light novel origins.

Kufa and Melida
Assassin's Pride sure likes its angles.

Since I'm not familiar with the source material, I wasn't actually expecting Assassin's Pride to be a magic-battle high school show of the sort we used to see all the damn time before the current wall-to-wall isekai trend. I legitimately assumed this was going to be some high-chuuni "I must protect her" nonsense with the lead characters constantly on the run or something, perhaps a la Innocent Venus. On the plus side, the various battle tournaments shown thus far have advanced quickly. Still, I hope there's going to be more to the story than this, even though the show is surely destined for a non-ending ending after a single cours. Ordinarily, I would have just stopped watching a show like this, but the start showed enough of a spark that I'm optimistically hopeful there will be more of that sort of thing, thereby making its remaining episodes worth watching.