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Dated 27 July 2021: I dropped Aquatope before I learned how to pronounce it

Fuuka
It's hard work, but at least you get to smell like fish all the time now.

I'm guessing Shiroi Suna no Aquatope (Aquatope of White Sand) is pronounced "aqua taupe," but I suppose it's possibly "aqua toe pay." In any case, the show is fine, and looks really nice, but I lost interest in it pretty much just as I did with Sakura Quest, another P.A. Works series about working girls (not those sorts of working girls, okay). Objectively, I guess there's nothing Aquatope really did wrong. (I guess it would have helped had I been invested in the childbirth sequence in some way.) It's just not really my sort of thing.

Shino
Shiho may or may not have kicked a giant mouse in the butt.

I admit I was more interested in Aquatope's nefarious internal idol politics (as I was with Wake Up, Girls!) than I was in failing-aquarium moé. Presumably, that aspect will re-appear at some point, since it's a two-cours series, but it's not enough to keep me watching it week-to-week, either. This does mean I'm currently down to five and two-thirds shows to watch this season. That's low enough that I watched all of last season's Odd Taxi in, like, 48 hours. It turns out it's really good. And it totally has nefarious internal idol politics. And how.

Dated 13 July 2021: The End of KoiKimo and HigeHiro ~Air/My Purest Love for JKs~

Ryo and Ichika
They're not flirting.

I started the Spring 2021 season with an entry covering both Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love or KoiKimo) and Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (I Shaved. Then I Brought a High School Girl Home. or HigeHiro), so I guess I should have a post wrapping them up as well. I found KoiKimo to be a better series, perhaps because of its straightforward story. It also helps that KoiKimo leaves Ichika in control of her fate. It is ultimately Ichika's decision whether her relationship with Ryo will advance or not.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

Sayu does not have this luxury in HigeHiro. Maybe it's disingenuous to claim HigeHiro is about Yoshida "looking for something attractive to save" (my apologies to Liz Phair), but replace Yoshida's name here with "the audience's surrogate," and maybe it's not far off the mark. KoiKimo and HigeHiro both ended up where I expected, but Sayu had much less say over the path she took to get there.

Ryo and Ichika
Making the end credits look more like the manga art was a nice touch.

In contrast, KoiKimo is an honest romance. There is no real mystery whether Ichika and Ryo will actually end up together or not, even though KoiKimo does introduce rival love interests for both leads. Moreover, the rivals are genuinely more sensible partners from every objective metric. However, the most obvioius impediment—the age gap between Ichika and Ryo—is never depicted as a meaningful obstacle. When it is finally viewed as a problem, its solution is entirely unsurprising.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

The solutions to the challenges presented in HigeHiro are also fairly obvious, but the series insists on pantomiming a number of unconvincing feints. They're unconvincing because Sayu basically has no flaws, and Yoshida clearly feels something for her. He never has a reason to turn her away, and Sayu's rivals for Yoshida's attention are dubious love interests who quickly end up supporting Sayu anyway.

Sayu
Relax, Sayu. Wonder Eggs are only 500 yen each.

In fact, Sayu's true adversaries are her lack of self-worth, her family's disinterest in her welfare, and the story's insistence at making Yoshida obtuse. Yoshida's behavior is baffling in HigeHiro, and not just because he denies being attracted to the sexually available high school girl living with him. Yoshida's behavior is baffling because he's willing to accept immediately on faith that Sayu would be better off returning to her home, without ever examining even the slightest bit the reasons why she ran away in the first place. It seems irresponsible to not at least contemplate the myriad awful situations that potentially compel teenagers to leave home and offer sex to strangers just to survive.

Sayu
HigeHiro showed Sayu orgasming on screen.

Of course, the real reason Yoshida never asks is because the story can't let him or the audience know before the narrative is ready. It turns out the unpleasant situation Sayu fled wasn't that bad, but that's the case only because HigeHiro insists on rehabilitating its antagonists immedately after introducing them. This sort of cowardice is a significant weakness of HigeHiro, as it makes its conflicts fairly hollow. The challenges presented in KoiKimo are not intractable either, but at least they don't take on a fraudulent quality.

Ichika
Ichika grew accustomed Ryo's nightly calls without realizing it.

KoiKimo succeeded by being forthright about its romance and committing to it unapologetically. In contrast, HigeHiro (like Yoshida himself) spends basically the entire series maintaining an unconvincing veneer of plausible deniability over whether or not Sayu is an actual love interest. At the risk of attracting accusations of being in favor of age-inappropriate pairings, I'm going to suggest HigeHiro does this to its detriment.

Sayu and Yoshida
They had to put him in a chair watching her sleep
so people wouldn't insist they still fucked.

I suppose I can't speak for its source material, but the anime most certainly portrays Sayu as an eligible partner. Does HigeHiro provide Sayu with agency by having her test Yoshida's resolve each time she propositions him? Or does the series undermine Sayu's agency by presenting these moments solely so Yoshida can continue to rebuff her and showcase his unflagging integrity? I'm not answering this rhetorical, but I think we all know.

Dated 6 July 2021: I knew little about Wonder Egg Priority before I started watching, and might know even less now that it's over

Ai
Double-peace Ai, eh.

I went into Wonder Egg Priority essentially blind, as its promotional materials offered no meaningful details about the series. What I found was an extremely strong start with impressive visuals and an engaging story. Throughout most of the show's run, it maintained this high standard, despite evidence of frantic production difficulties that eventually forced an operational pause. This relief proved insufficient, and the series finale itself pushed to the right three months.

Rika
So, are you going to go back to being an idol?

I suppose it was naïve of me to presume the studio would dedicate this additional time to getting the Wonder Egg Priority ending just right. I can't verify the veracity of the claims I've read about what ultimately happened with the production effort, but what actually dropped frankly made me nostalgic for the Gainax endings of yore. No, I don't think we're going to get The End of Wonder Egg Priority a couple years later, and it's not as if episode 13 enlisted the assistance of paper dolls on sticks, but the final episode did not seem like it benefited from three months of refinement—certainly, the writing did not.

Dot
Why, though?

For one thing, there were reports the final episode of Wonder Egg Priority would be a one-hour special. It actually turned out to be about 45 minutes, fully half of which was a clip show recapping the previous 12 episodes. So I'm curious whether this resulted from misunderstandings and optimistic assumptions on the viewership's part, or if those reports would have been accurate were it not for impassable obstacles impeding the journey from desire to reality. (Most likely the latter, I think.)

Neiru
How are you feeling, Neiru? Good?

This is a long-winded way of saying the conclusion to Wonder Egg Priority made no sense. Absent a more compelling example, I think I'm going to end up adding it alongside The Rise of Skywalker and the Game of Thrones finale as the third leg of my tripod of endings so flawed that they manage to undermine everything good that came before. Curiously, though, I can't quite claim the final episode of Wonder Egg Priority itself is bad. It's not unsalvageable. It's largely its lack of resolution and its role in the narrative itself that are bad.

Koito and Sawaki
I want to say it was murder, but there were witnesses, albeit
ones all conveniently looking the wrong way. Unless....

I guess this means it's the creative decisions themselves that are bad—specifically, every effort to explain the mechanics driving the story. That is, everything involving recorded dreams, parallel worlds, robots, Acca, the one who is not Acca, Frill, or Frill's weirdo minions detract from everything else presented in Wonder Egg Priority previously. In fact, let us also add the support animals to this category, even if they do taste like chicken.

Momoe, Rika, Neiru, and Ai
Congratulations.

Despite all of this, I still regard Wonder Egg Priority as one of the best shows of the Winter 2021 anime season. I'm just at a loss as to how to characterize it for someone approaching it for the first time. I guess just watching half and walking away is an option. I suppose it depends on the inquisitive potential viewer's tolerance for unsatisfying endings. I'm certainly no stranger to them at this point, and I was never too fussed about so-called "Gainax endings" or "Gonzo endings" to begin with. I wonder if there is a place in the world for the capital-C, capital-W "CloverWorks ending" as well. I wonder egg if there is.

Dated 18 May 2021: I get the feeling 86 Eighty Six is about interracial dating instead of war

Vladilena Lena, Handler One, Bloody Regina Milizé
Does this mean Lena has figured out she can use the PARA-RAID for phone sex?

After 6 six episodes of 86 Eighty Six, I think I can understand why readers enjoy the original light novels. I haven't been following the reactions to the anime closely, but I believe most impressions to it are favorable as well. The story has had enough interesting developments and twists that I expect most viewers who ventured past the first episode continue to enjoy it. If the anime gets more than one cours, I could see how an eventual romance between the two leads might make up the core of the story. Moreover, it would probably be better if that is that is the case, because 86 Eighty Six as a war story is somewhat shite.

Shinei Shin, Undertaker, Reaper Nouzen
This is Mikasa Ackerman's son, isn't it.

The anime is still revealing elements about the war in 86 Eighty Six, but I get the feeling we're all better off not thinking about it too much. Aircraft exist, but only so tourists can get shot down. Artillery exists, but only in the form of weenie short-ranged mortars. The apparent objectives for the battles shown so far are also sort of questionable. On the plus side, their spider-mechs are pretty fresh. I get that it's unfair to criticize 86 Eighty Six for these sorts of things when I'm totally okay with the SSSS.DYNAZENON fights, but it is possible to make unrealistic battles compelling (see The Price of Smiles, for example), and these just aren't.

Dated 13 April 2021: Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- places the fate of humanity in the hands of an amusement park animatronic

Diva
Diva runs sort of weird, but she is a robot.

Vivy -Flourite Eye's Song- is an original anime about a time traveler's efforts to prevent an artificial intelligence uprising that caused robots to run amok, resulting in the deaths of a whole mess of humans who—let's face it—probably had it coming. Due to desperate measures, this mission to prevent the looming disaster falls on Diva (Vivy), an amusement park android who is not at all enthusiastic about just going along with the plan. For one thing, her new AI pal from the future openly admits to withholding information from her and doesn't seem to care that she might have her own priorities and goals.

Diva
Maybe virus scans aren't as effective as you'd hope.

The AI from the future sort of reminds me of Frontier Setter from Rakuen Tsuihō (Expelled from Paradise), except without the charisma. Through the first three episodes, the viewer doesn't really have much reason to be suspicious of its intentions. After all, we do benefit from seeing the future events during the anime's prologue. Nevertheless, I'm at least inclined to take Diva's side during their disagreements. For one thing, altering a significant event does not seem to produce radical "butterfly effect" results that would render subsequent predictions related to upcoming milestones unreliable. Consequently, it's not clear whether Diva's desire to prevent future disasters unrelated to the AI uprising is necessarily impractical.

Diva
Considering the volume of Diva's hair, I have no idea
how she compressed it into such a small bun.

I have no idea how Diva is supposed to prevent the AI uprising. The events she's tasked with stopping during the first three episodes don't seem consequential enough to prevent what is surely the product of a great many circumstances beyond one android's ability to control. This is not as straightforward as going back to the '80s to kill Sarah Connor. It's not lost on me that Diva is likely not an amusement park animatronic (albeit a very sophisticated one) by accident. I'm ready to believe Diva unfucks the future by unleashing the power of song and making everyone happy, just as she's always wanted. You know, like the Minmay Attack except without genocide.

Dated 30 March 2021: Re:Zero II 2 was probably a good season for Emilia fans

Subaru and Roswaal
It's fine, they're cool now.

My enjoyment of the Re:Zero anime has been inconsistent. I initially lost interest in the series quite early and dropped the show more than once. I finally picked it up again after enjoying Isekai Quartet and its myriad gags about Ram being smug and/or abusive. After finally sticking with the first season, I did enjoy most of it. I also liked the first half of the second season, but the most recent cours, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2, did not hold my interest.

Emilia
I'm going to claim Puck is a shitty parent.

If I had to say why, I guess it's because I found Garfiel rather grating. He has legitimate reasons for being that way, but they didn't make him less tiresome to watch. This cours also focused heavily on Emilia, and deservedly so. Unfortunately, I've never had any interest in Emilia, so I wasn't exactly invested in her arc. If you are a big fan of Emilia, then I would expect you to regard this cours as being one of the strongest ones of the anime thus far. However, it is difficult for me to weigh this objectively, so possibly it still dragged even for Emilia superstans. Presuming there is a third season, I am going to continue watching it, but I do hope it gets better. Maybe have some more Rem? I could go for more Rem now.

Dated 23 March 2021: Higurashi gets good after 74 episodes

Rena and Mion
It turns out I don't really like these two.

I need to caveat this post by acknowledging that I effectively don't know anything about the Higurashi franchise. I initially tried watching the first anime back in 2006, but dropped it after (I think) the first episode because I didn't find it interesting. It subsequently ran for 26 episodes, then 24 more in 2007. Somewhere in there we'll also find 11 assorted episodes that dropped at various times before Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou started in 2020.

Satoko
Satoko seems like a pleasant kid who probably has a stable home life.

I was aware of the franchise's popularity, and knew that Higurashi somehow fit into a much larger extended universe which included properties such as Umineko no Naku Koro ni. I basically don't know anything about these other titles either, though. Nevertheless, I decided to give the 2020 anime a chance because all these factors must mean it's got to have something going for it, right? Besides, it meant the return of Yukino Satsuki, and I love me some Yukino Satsuki. I'm also a fan of Nakahara Mai, so how bad could it be?

Rika
I guess this is not a "NIPAH" sort of moment.

Well, getting through the first 13 episodes of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou was a slog. I still have no idea how much it departed from the previous anime. I also don't know whether watching the previous anime is really required. Likewise, I don't know how necessary it is to have read the visual novels first either. Approaching the 2020 anime strictly as a neophyte anime-only viewer, I was teased something special on occasion, but lacked the proper context to fully appreciate those moments. On the other hand, the show regularly confronted me with my ever-increasing dislike for Keiichi, Rena, and Detective Ooishi.

Satoko
I'm pretty sure this qualifies as a huge spoiler.

Fortunately, episode 14 and all subsequent episodes focused on other characters. Suddenly, Keiichi was no longer the primary protagonist, and Higurashi is actually pretty good! I can't claim I really understand what's going on, but it's at least a lot more enjoyable and interesting to watch than everything I've seen prior. In fact, I'm even looking forward to the next cours which is slated to start in July 2021.

Featherine and Satoko
Maybe not as big as this shot.

Does it really take Higurashi 74 episodes to get good? Presumably not. But if the previous anime is anything like the present anime, then I feel comfortable about assuming it does not get good until Keiichi stops being its main character. If it turns out episodes were centered around him for the previous anime's entire run—and there isn't a departure until episode 14 of Gou—then, yeah, it doesn't get good until after 74 episodes.

Dated 16 February 2021: This is an IDOLY PRIDE spoiler, but I don't think it matters anymore

Mana
"I can see my house from here."

There are plenty of other shows I'm watching that I should probably write about instead, but y'all getting an IDOLY PRIDE update instead. Deal with it. Okay, so after six episodes, I don't know why there is a ghost. Mana gives Makino someone to talk to, but there's no reason why she needs to be dead. She could have just retired, or started her own production company instead, or any number of other options. Or she could still have died, but not returned as a ghost. So far, Mana returning as a ghost has had no meaningful impact on the story.

Mana and Makino
I wonder if Mana can change her outfit.

And we do have confirmation that she's an actual ghost (as opposed to a hallucination). One of the other idols can see her, although they haven't continued interacting after the episode with the initial revelation. If we're racking and stacking idols in the show, I do like Mana best, so I appreciate having her around, but I was sort of expecting her whole phantasmness to have a bigger role in shaping the IDOLY PRIDE lore. As far as I can tell, there aren't even any other ghosts in IDOLY PRIDE—former idols or otherwise.