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Dated 13 August 2018: I like Overlord better the more I watch it

Nfirea, Enri, and Nemu
Enri put on her best clothes for the visit, but not only did Nfirea
not even bother to change his shirt, it isn't even tucked in.

The third season of Overlord thankfully had only a three-month hiatus following the second season. The break between the first and second season was more than two years, which was entirely too long for casual fans of the anime who had not read the books. A lot of the events that occur in Overlord happen simultaneously or close to it, so it's helpful to keep the timeline and chain of events straight as more and more characters get introduced. That was a lot harder to do when I could barely remember a lot of the context I was supposed to know.

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Dated 4 June 2018: I think I like the idea of Cutie Honey Universe more than I enjoy the show

Honey
Have sword, will travel.

I do appreciate that Cutie Honey Universe exists at all. It's been a good year with regard to the return of old (way old) classics. I'm not particularly familiar with the Cutie Honey franchise, but I've seen enough of the original 1973 Cutie Honey anime and Gainax's Re: Cutie Honey OVAs from 2004 to appreciate that Cutie Honey Universe is a faithful re-introduction of the show to modern anime fans. However, although I enjoy it, I suspect that the return of Cutie Honey might work better in theory than it does in practice for general audiences. I don't feel that Cutie Honey Universe is dated, but it does seem anachronistic. That does contribute to its charm, but I can't help but think I should at least finish watching the 1973 series first.

Tarantula Panther
Tarantula Panther, best tarantula, best panther.

The parts that are probably the most jarring to modern viewers are the occasional fan service gags involving Junpei (the little boy) and Danbei (the dirty old man) as they aggressively pursue perverted opportunities to ogle and grope Honey whenever possible. I hesitate to call them gags because they're not presented as if they're supposed to be comedic moments necessarily, but I can't quite call it fan service either because I'm not sure anyone considers the bits titillating. It's probably more accurate to call them tropes or callbacks to the original Go Nagai manga and anime series. Now, I'm not suggesting '70s fan service staples have no place in our upstanding world of the current generation, but I think I would appreciate an effort to present these blatantly gratuitous scenes in creative new ways instead, despite the risk of alienating those fans who insist on preserving original aspects as a matter of general principle.

Dated 23 April 2018: I hope Major 2nd is a doubleheader

Daigo
Anxiety-free Daigo.

Major is an epic six-season anime with more than 150 episodes, multiple OVAs, and a movie. It spans the baseball life of Goro from his kindergarten years to his (spoilers, I guess) professional career. I joke about Major spoilers, but there is basically no way to discuss a series that long or its currently airing sequel, Major 2nd without revealing at least some spoilers. I'll at least try to avoid the heavier ones. Major 2nd is about Goro's son, Daigo, as he begins his foray into the sport of baseball. Through the first three episodes, the focus has been on Daigo's inability to bridge reality and desire as he struggles to deal with the tremendous pressure he places on himself and expectations he assumes everyone has of him as Goro's son.

Izumi
It's not easy being best.

Notably, Daigo has an inferiority complex about his older sister, Izumi, who demonstrates both greater talent and a better work ethic than Daigo. Frankly, I wish Major 2nd were about Izumi instead of Daigo, but alas. I haven't read the manga, so I can't project where the story is going to go, but I hope there are at least some Izumi-focused episodes. It seems reasonable, providing Major 2nd runs long enough, considering the spotlights shone on Kaoru and Ryoko in the original Major. At a minimum, I like Izumi's attitude a lot more than Daigo's, although I guess he hasn't had his traumatic emotional turning point yet. Anyone who familiar with the original Major (or a lot of baseball manga in general, really) knows what I'm talking about. I'm going to flip over a table if one of Daigo's family members dies, though.

Dated 19 March 2018: Overlord II and Dagashi Kashi 2 have something in common

Momonga
Sure seems as if Momonga has spent a lot of his screen time this season sitting.

Both Overlord II and Dagashi Kashi 2 feature a lot fewer scenes of some of its main characters than I was expecting. In the case of Overlord II, it seems the vast majority of this sequel's screen time is devoted to minor returning goofballs or entirely new characters who mostly serve to expand the worldbuilding aspects of the story, albeit at the sacrifice of characters from the first season who I was hoping to see more of again. Not that Lizard Man politics and alliances are not interesting in their own right, or that I'm not engaged by old man good guy combat butler Sebas Tian picking up a teenage girlfriend who can reportedly almost cook palatable meals...but this wasn't at all what I was expecting from a second season of Overlord.

Zaryusu and Crusch
I admit I am amused by the albino Lizard Man lady who can't be in direct sun.

Based on other reports I've seen, the source material for Overlord does seem rather detailed and intricate enough to make me think its probably a lot better than other fantasy light novels. At a minimum, it doesn't appear as if the author is at all half-assing the writing, so perhaps the books are good enough to be regarded as regular fantasy novels and don't deserve the stigma I reflexively assign to most (but not all) "light" novels. The Overlord books have actually been licensed, and at least six English-language volumes are out already, so I guess I could give them a try. Hopefully they feature adequate amounts of Momonga doing Momonga-type things and aren't, like, wall-to-wall Lizard Man politics.

Kokonotsu and Hajime
Another Millennial desperate for an unpaid internship.

Dagashi Kashi 2, like Overlord II, has fewer appearances by its putative main character than I was expecting, but it also differs from its first season in few other ways. For one thing, it's a shorter, half-length show this season. The character designs are also a bit different, but I don't really have an opinion about this change because the voices are still the same. Hotaru's absence from a significant part of the season was unexpected, though. It's a sensible departure, in that it opens up space to develop the new character who temporarily fills Hotaru's role as the resident nutjob, but I'm not sure I'm totally okay with the lack of Hotaruness this season. Sadly, it also seems the original manga is ending soon. This Hotaru-free future seems less than ideal.

Dated 8 December 2013: I guess the Valvrave school festival Shouko promised is cancelled

Shouko
Don't worry, Shouko, it'll get worse.

I was pretty annoyed with this season of Kakumeiki Valvrave until episode 21. It was as lousy as ever, but the last few episodes had also been sort of boring. That's a really bad combination, but I'm pleased to say episode 21 brought back the good kind of Valvrave lousiness: Suffering and stupidity. [P.S. Spoilers herein abound.]

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Dated 21 January 2013: Oreshura has almost nothing to do with jirgas

Masuzu
For one thing, only one person's opinion matters.

Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga shuraba Sugiru (My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much) seems to be doing all right so far in a fairly tough category: The Harem Comedy. I find most fans' tolerance for harem comedies declines with each one they watch. Assuming they ever enjoyed them, enthusiasm quickly transforms into hostility after one too many comely girls inexplicably throws herself at a bewildered, unremarkable boy. The male love interest is nearly always to blame. Despite his harem's collective questionable taste, ol' Potato-kun's lack of assertiveness or any other redeeming characteristic is the reason why viewers find harem comedies increasingly frustrating. In this regard, Eita from Oreshura is at least is off to a semi-decent start.

Eita
Eita's future is so bright.

First of all, he's not "normal" unmotivated slug. He's at the top of his class and aspires to become a doctor. Prior to Masuzu's shenanigans, he studied constantly. Secondly (and technically these constitute spoilers from the light novels and the manga), he's not terrified of girls. Sadly, harem comedy leads literally frightened of girls seem to be the contemporary norm. Why? Is there no other way to drag out a dozen episodes besides ensuring Male Protagonist and First Girl He Sees cannot canoodle early and often? Or is it so a stereotyped target demographic can identify with him? Are Japanese otaku really as "herbivorous" as certain tabloids accuse? It's not even harem comedy leads who act this way; ol' Hero from Maoyuu Maou Yuusha is a potato, and humans in his world didn't even have potatoes until Demon King planted some.

Masuzu and Eita
Confederates in "I Can't Believe That Shit Worked."

So Eita is not afraid of girls. This is good news, right? Well, you'd think so. It means he doesn't have any reason not to romance his childhood friend except, well, he just doesn't see her that way. Chiwa sympathizers will likely find Oreshura extremely frustrating in this regard, because he friendzones the Bejesus out of her. Sucks to be Chiwa. Personally, I'm pleased with the show so far because it hasn't been about a bunch of airheads vying for his attention. This does mean Eita ends up being the anime-dense one instead, though. And he is pretty dense. I can only assume towards the end of the show (if it doesn't punt with a non-ending ending), there will be some cathartic moment where he realizes he doesn't only love Chiwa as a friend, but also wants to rail her until she can't walk straight. The end.

Chiwa
If you advance this scene frame by frame you can
catch the exact moment Chiwa's heart breaks.

Sadly, this conventional formulaic ending is probably the best we can hope for. Personally, I'm expecting a non-ending ending (because the anime will run out of episodes before the light novels conclude), but I believe all these early examples of Chiwa's suffering are intended to promote her placement as the principal love interest. Yeah, Masuzu might be better in every way, even though she doesn't wear any underwear, but Chiwa is a sweet kid and her life kinda sucks, so it's better if she wins. That's good, right? I'm not buying it. Fuck Chiwa. And if she wants people to stop calling her "chihuahua," she should stop wearing a dog collar around her neck.

Dated 24 May 2011: Getting to second base with Minami in Moshidora

Yuki and Minami
At least Yuki gets to wear pajamas instead of an open-backed hospital gown.

Moshidora received a lot of attention prior to the start of the spring 2011 anime season, probably because it is an anime adaptation of a popular book based on an unusual premise. So just exactly what would happen if a female manager of a high school baseball team read Peter Drucker's Management? Well, apparently she would be better at recruiting members for the team, innovating new tactics, and figuring out what to do with the weenie kid who's a complete liability under pressure because he's a choker.

Minami
Minami gets to wear pajamas too, even in her hallucination about Innovation.

There are other aspects as well where Minami draws upon Management with almost religious fervor and applies them to her efforts at improving the team on Yuki's behalf—Yuki being Minami's friend and the real manager of the high school baseball team that she is too sickly to manage. (It's never explicitly stated what Yuki's illness actually is, but seeing as how there's no indication she was ever exposed to snow, she's probably not suffering from Key AIDS or Jun Maeda Malaria. My guess is she has leukemia or cancer, although she does maintain her radiant anime-heroine disposition and complexion, so whatever she has doesn't appear too outwardly taxing on her constitution. Also, the weenie kid on the team does not masturbate over her comatose body.

Minami
People complained about the animation, but Moshidora does have nice eyes.

After Moshidora aired (it ran 10 weekdays in a row, thus finishing well in advance of other spring 2011 shows), reactions were decidedly mixed. It seems basically anyone who did not have a genuine interest in baseball or business management abandoned Moshidora early. I'm curious what they were expecting, since most of these erstwhile enthusiasts never had any interest in baseball-themed anime in the past. What did they think would be different?

Hana and Minami
Relax, kid, we do this every day.

Let the record show that Moshidora is a good baseball anime, and a lot more realistic than something like Princess Nine which is good, but not at all authentic. I call Moshidora "realistic" despite the heavy emphasis on an "innovative" tactic the team adopts in response to a Peter Drucker-inspired lesson. The team's [SPOILERS] so-called No Bunt, No Ball strategy, while ridiculous on its face, is grounded in sound baseball principles.

Hoshide
Now batting, number five, Ika Musume Jun Hoshide.

The "no bunt" half of the strategy dictates the team will not sacrifice bunt—ever. This is not necessarily an abandonment of "small ball" entirely, but is a departure from standard Japanese baseball doctrine (at least as depicted in anime): If you have a runner on first with less than two outs, sacrifice him over to second base so he'll be in scoring position for a base hit. Minami's team rejects this strategy entirely, but she may be in good company. Those of you who have read Moneyball or otherwise have a general understanding of sabermetrics will remember Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane despises sacrifice bunts and would never trade an out for a base.

Yunosuke
"Letting everyone else do all the work" is dangerous
with a defensive liability in the middle infield.

The "no ball" half of the strategy dictates the team's pitchers will only throw pitches in the strike zone. This part of the strategy is pretty dogmatic, and I have my doubts whether it could realistically be pulled off successfully. However, even this is grounded in sound baseball fundamentals—in this case, a very old fundamental that nobody seems to appreciate anymore: Work fast, throw strikes, and make everybody else do all the work. Those who believe a pitcher should rely on his fastball 75 percent of the time are likely more accepting of the "no ball" strategy, providing Minami's pitchers are able to change speeds, have enough movement on their fastballs, and have enough control to precisely place their pitches' locations, as opposed to basically heaving balls right over the plate (which is what Ryo from Princess Nine essentially does). Valuing control and location is something Big Windup got right, by the way, but I found that show unwatchable because of the ridiculous, relentless crying.

Yuki
Don't you know it's summer, Yuki? Anime characters
are only allowed to be sick in the winter!

Speaking of which, is there crying in Moshidora? Well, yes, but nearly all of it takes place off the field. You may recall Tom Hanks' insistence in A League of Their Own, "There's no crying in baseball!" This is true, but I can let it go if it occurs outside the lines. In fact, crying is nearly inescapable in a good baseball anime, because—as I've come to realize recently—there is one consistent factor that is present in nearly all good baseball anime and manga. You'll find it in Cross Game, in Touch, in H2 (in basically anything Adachi Mitsuru writes, really), you'll find it A LOT in Major (basically the best baseball anime there is), and you'll even find it in Princess Nine:

Bad things happen to good people.

Baseball is a cruel sport. Despite one's best efforts, defeat and despair often seem unavoidable, and I'm not just talking about Cubs fans. There's a certain sense among players and die-hard fans that the game is rough—that life is unfair—and that stoical dedication to the game through its harshest moments somehow better prepares the baseball enthusiast for the rigors of a demanding world. Perhaps this is why Moshidora could not be an escapist moé blob sanctuary. Certainly it could not have dabbled in that type of otaku-pleasing pandering in its early episodes—even to "grab" casual viewers—and still have had the integrity to execute its final episodes as well as it did. It wouldn't have been proper in a short 10-episode series.

Dated 4 February 2009: Major, Like Baseball, Is Cruel - or - Pitchers and Catchers Report in 10 days

Goro's dad
Major is a sequel to Princess Nine if you pretend Goro's dad was Ryo's love interest.

One of the reasons I offered as to why Major is superior to One Outs is that Major is about defeat and despair, while One Outs is about triumph. It occurs to me I may need to elaborate a bit for non-baseball fans.

Charlie Brown
Baseball is also about being haunted by regret.

Baseball is a game of heartbreak and defeat. All those platitudes they teach kids in T-ball and little league regarding how it isn't about winning or losing, but how you play the game? Lies. It's about losing. Or rather, baseball is about learning how to lose, how to lose all the time, and how to deal with it. Baseball is missed opportunities. It's about the Chicago Cubs. It's about the 86-year Curse of the Bambino. It's about great hitters still failing at the plate more often than not. And in the case of Major, it's about Goro and tragedy.

Hoshino
Goro's teacher is pretty cool, and not just because of her big fat braids.

This is not to say that Major is Narutaru or Saikano. It's just that Goro's life kinda sucks. And not just Goro, either. It seems as if plenty of Major's supporting characters find misfortune sliding in on them spikes up despite a six-run lead in the ninth. It's necessary, though. Goro is freakishly athletic, and these early episodes about his youth highlight stellar achievements that compare favorably with biographies of real-life players with accomplished careers in the majors. Major sort of needs to make the viewer commiserate with him a little in the face of his athletic prowess.

Ryoko
Ryoko is also pretty cool, and not just because of her big fat braids.

From what I've seen, it appears Major is (or will be) Goro's life story, following his career from his pre-school days to (I assume) the major leagues. It seems a bit silly to speak so vaguely about a long-running sports anime currently in its fifth season, but I'm still back watching season two, and I'm wary of what are surely considerable spoilers in the wild. Even navigating cast lists is hazardous, as various name changes and conspicuous absences (or additions) can reveal what does or does not happen over the course of the series.