Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
karmaburn.com karmaburn.com

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 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 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 16 July 2018: Hataraku Saibou is informative, whimsical, and gloriously violent

AE3803
AE3803 doesn't quite know her way around yet.

One of the more pleasant surprises of the Summer 2018 anime season is Hataraku Saibou (Cells at Work!) which anthropomorphizes a human body's blood cells and depicts them as industrious workers carrying out tasks such as ferrying oxygen to different parts of the body and fighting germs.

U1146 and AE3803
You get used to it, newbie.

It's maybe about what you might expect if you're familiar with these sorts of gimmick shows, but the execution is quite good. The setup is suitably clever, and the various characters are endearing. In particular, Hanazawa Kana is excellent as the newbie red blood cell, AE3803. I enjoy her panicky shrieks. They contrast nicely with her white blood cell friend's somewhat staid approach to executing bacteria.

U1146 and Platelet
Platelet is also a fan favorite already.

I'm not sure how long this will stay amusing, but there's certainly no shortage of different stories the show could explore. There are at least five volumes of the still running manga, and three spinoffs, so I'm fairly confident there will be enough source material to keep the show entertaining throughout the season. In fact, Hataraku Saibou briefly held the top stop in my Summer 2018 ranking (until the incredible first episode of Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight raised the barre). I'm not expecting Cells at Work! to remain quite this high for the rest of the quarter, but it is off to a strong start.

Dated 13 March 2018: Toji no Miko is okay

Hiyori and Kanami
Toji no Miko official art.

I probably would not still be watching Toji no Miko (Katana Maidens) were it not for the character designer. (Shizuma Yoshinori was also the character designer for Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho and a bunch of Kantai Collection ships.) Even then, I like the official promotional art more than how the designs actually translate into anime. I'm also not too enamored with the anime itself. I appreciate that it's going to be two cours, since I do rather miss when longer shows were more common. Admittedly, the longer length does seem to dampen the pacing a bit. I can see this turning some viewers off, but I'm okay with it, even though I would have also enjoyed a high-tension sword-girl-fugitives on the run story.

Kaoru, Kanami, Hiyori, and Nene
There is a lot going on in this shot.

While Toji no Miko is neither bad nor good, it does have good bits in it. I like the physics-defying inverted vertical scabbards that the characters use for their swords. I doubt contraptions so top-heavy could ever be practical in the real world, but they totally work for anime because they keep the characters from banging their swords into things whenever they move around, and they allow the personalized designs to appear in nearly every shot. It's a clever way of including a bit of flair to the characters' designs without relying exclusively on the usual hairbands and giant ribbons. Other good things include Kawasumi Ayako in the cast (the Ayako Doctrine remains in effect), and there a number of mildly amusing gags, such as the shrimpy girl's stupidly ginormous sword and the rich girl's ability to Deus ex machina solutions to complex problems. Toji no Miko is by no means a must-see anime, but it embraces its animeness earnestly enough to keep me watching week after week, and I expect to continue watching it next season as well.

Dated 24 April 2017: I've already dropped 10 shows from Spring 2017

Nono and Fudou
This is not Re:Zero.

There are a lot more shows each season these days than there used to be. I'm willing to give a lot of them a try, but I'm not quite as willing to slog through something in hopes it gets more interesting later. Lest you think I'm being too negative because I dropped 10 shows before the fourth week, bear in mind I'm still watching 17. Cripes, that is a lot. No wonder I never make any progress through my sizable backlog of anime I'd like to re-watch someday.

(more…)

Dated 2 January 2017: All Fate/All the Time

Ritsuka and Mash
This means you're married now.

There are two Fate/stay night TV anime series and the first of three Heaven's Feel movies coming out in 2017. In addition to this, Fate/Grand Order also dropped its 72-minute -First Order- commercial on the last day of 2016. It seems...excessive. It also doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in me to learn Fate/Apocrypha is based on a light novel series. Fate/Extra at least is going to be a SHAFT x SHINBO show, which I suppose is good news for those of you who like that sort of thing. I'm at least sort of optimistic because it features the Tange Sakura-type Saber, who was at least pretty great in Carnival Phantasm.

(more…)

Dated 26 December 2016: Keijo!!!!!!!! is better than Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume

Nozomi
Walk it off.

Keijo!!!!!!!! is not just a better sports anime than Shakunetsu no Takkyu Musume (Scorching Ping Pong Girls), it's a better show overall. This is probably contrary to conventional expectations from prior to the start of the autumn 2016 season, but I think most viewers now accept that Keijo!!!!!!!! turned out to be much better than anyone reasonably hoped before the season began.

(more…)