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Dated 2 October 2017: Symphogear? Still stupendous

Granny and Maria
Something something Maria, something something huge tomatoes.

I don't write about Symphogear as much as I ought to, consider that it's FUCKIN' GREAT. It's basically a miracle that we've gotten four seasons already with a fifth season supposedly on the way. This season, Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ ended up my second-favorite show, after Re:CREATORS but ahead of Princess Principal (which is itself way better than I expected). Still, I don't have much to say about Symphogear except that it's Symphogear. You either understand the appeal or you don't. It's definitely not something I expect to have any success in describing though text. Not in any way that does it justice, at least.

Shirabe and Prelati
Something something the appeal of a girl made of saws.

No doubt, there are still dubious readers on the fence about the whole thing. To be honest, the famous Symphogear meme chart pretty accurately describes the typical first-time viewing experience, aside from some outliers (like me) who were totally on board ever since Zwei Wing hit the stage in episode one of the first season. As to what you might expect in Symphogear AXZ? More singing while fighting (fighting while singing?), and more solving problems by punching them. The Hell else do you need?

Dated 14 June 2015: I am eagerly looking forward to the next episode of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha ViVid for once

Vivio
Vivio's heterochromia is excessive.

The first 10 episodes of Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha ViVid essentially went by as background noise because I "watched" them without actually paying much attention. For example, when underboob nun appeared in her red cropped habit last episode, I didn't realize she was the nun from the previous episode because her habit in that episode was blue instead of red. Oh, and it didn't leave her half-naked. I'm barely following Nanoha ViVid because I don't know any of the characters (sort of a Catch-22, that), I can't remember anything from the previous series (StrikerS), and I think this whole tournament thing is rather pointless.

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Dated 27 January 2015: Cross Ange second cour: Let's Get This Rondo Started

Salamandinay and Ange
Oh, Sunrise.

I'm not sure precisely when Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo (Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons) went off the rails, but it's pretty much just headed straight towards where the fuck ever now. There's a post-apocalyptic parallel universe populated with randy dragon girls, for crying out loud. P.S. Spoilers.

Ange and Tusk
I'm starting to think Ange and Tusk are both bar magnets.

I've seen some viewers claim that it's worse than Kakumeiki Valvrave now in terms of making sense, but that's honestly an unfair and misleading characterization. Whereas Valvrave suffered from lots of annoying bullshit that didn't make any sense, Cross Ange is packed with amusing bullshit that doesn't make any sense. It's an important distinction, okay. Blessed Haruhi, this is a great show.

Dated 23 November 2014: Anime triage

Conan and Sera
As if there is any chance in Hell of Sera turning out to be bad.

Because of "circumstances," I find myself dropping about half the shows I was following this season. Well, perhaps not so much dropping as putting on hiatus for the time being. Maybe I'll catch back up during a particularly lousy season that coincides with greater anime-watching opportunities. (Won't be next season, because next season looks pretty sweet.)

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Dated 6 November 2014: I'm so stoked Cross Ange is going to be two cours

Ange
All things considered, Angelise is taking this rather well.

I should probably be blogging about Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo (Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons) on a regular basis because I think it has the potential to provide as much mileage as Gundam SEED Destiny did. Let's be clear. I am not watching Cross Ange "ironically," okay. This show is shit, but it is great shit. It's never boring and you'll stare in disbelief at some of the idiocy that transpires, but I still enjoy it a great deal. It's got Banana Mizuki stabbing dragons in the face, for crying out loud!

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Dated 12 August 2013: Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music... and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya both feature battle costumes

Yumi
This was awesome even though they gonged Anime-chan.

I had fairly high hopes for both Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music... and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya prior to the start of the season. Now—nearly halfway through summer 2013—I'm pleased both are turning out to be quite good. Symphogear G is a sequel to widely panned but wildly entertaining original Senki Zesshou Symphogear: Meteoroid-Falling, Burning, and Disappear, Then... from winter 2012. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya is based on the eponymous parody manga riffing on the Fate/stay night universe. It's pretty amazing how adroit it is at drawing out the best Fate/stay night has to offer. I liked the manga so much from the first few chapters that I stopped reading it so that I would not spoil myself on the anime. It does not disappoint. All around, even without including DokiDoki! Precure, this is a pretty good season for magikal girls trashing the joint.

Kirika, Shirabe, and Maria
You're going to need to give up more than some lunch money.

Symphogear G introduces the very aerodynamic Maria and her little cohorts, Shirabe and Kirika. As antagonists, they're approximately as sinister as the Velka Knights from Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A's and will almost certainly join Hibiki, Tsubasa, and Chris at the end of the season against a common enemy: Post-menopausal Belldandy.

Maria
You can tell Maria isn't really evil because her cape is awesome.

There's not much to say about the actual plot or story behind Symphogear G. You're supposed to watch it to see these girls thrash each other with preposterous weapons while singing. Moon debris features prominently in Symphogear G as a reminder that the collateral damage from the first season was quite severe, making it likely this season will also not end quietly. At a minimum, I expect the survivors will need to change schools again.

Illya
Don't worry, Illya. It gets worse.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya cynically takes the point of view of a reluctant magikal girl tricked into taking on the role after a recalcitrant magic wand divorces itself from its previous master. The jokes are not quite as frantic as they are in Carnival Phantasm, but Prisma Illya does reinforce suspicions that TYPE-MOON parodies are better than canonical TYPE-MOON properties.

Miyu and Illya
There sure are a lot of armpits in this show.

The character designs in Prisma Illa are quite different from Takeuchi Takashi standard typically associated with TYPE-MOON, but I think they work in this comedic context just as rounder designs served Carnival Phantasm well. I wasn't expecting the action sequences to be so energetic, particularly since I still associate SILVER LINK with the belt tightening it imposed during Tasogare Otome x Amnesia. Hopefully it didn't blow its Prisma Illa budget on the high-flying episode four.

Hibiki
Hibiki preparing to punch more things.

Like its 2012 predecessor, Symphogear G is the closest thing we're likely to get to a mahou shoujo opera unless someone actually talks Kajiura Yuki into composing The End of My-HiME opera I've been wishing for since 2005. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya demonstrates how much better a TYPE-MOON property can get if you sideline all the idiotic male characters. I'm certainly not one of those viewers who abhor male anime characters on general principle, but I have to admit a lot of these TYPE-MOON chumps are quite odious, particularly with regard to Fate/stay night which had Shirou AND Shinji, both of whom should have been recast as boat anchors. Things are so much nicer without them, even if Caster is still trying to kill everybody.

Dated 26 March 2012: I forgot to think of a title for this Symphogear post

Tsubasa
The only problem with Inazuma Kick is it isn't secret.

In a winter 2012 line-up crowded with disappointments, Senki Zesshou Symphogear is easily the best show of the season. I only hope the final episode will feature a secret enka weapon.

Dated 13 August 2010: Searching for the two hottest minutes in Pretty Cure All Stars DX2

Erika and Tsubomi
Erika and Tsubomi before they learn their place.

It turns out the second Pretty Cure All Stars DX movie is really the first Heartcatch Precure movie in disguise. Whereas the first All Stars DX movie was basically a greatest hits album of fan-favorite Pretty Cure attacks and moves, All Stars DX2 sort of has a narrative as we watch the two least effective Cures of all time stumble their way through battles way beyond their abilities. I've accused Cure Blossom and Cure Marine of being the worst Cures in history before, but that has always been part of their personae; Heartcatch Precure itself accuses Cure Blossom of being the worst Cure ever. While this is generally true during Heartcatch episodes because Cure Blossom is a dojikko, capable of only fighting bad feelings (no, really), it's especially true in All Stars DX2 because Cure Blossom and Cure Marine are the rookies and somebody at Toei does take the whole Cure Senpai bit seriously.

Miki, Setsuna, Erika, Tsubomi, Love, and Buki
Try not to laugh in their faces, Fresh Cures.

All Stars DX2 does allow the Heartcatch Cures to take the first stand and act as if they're going to solo the newly discovered enemy by themselves, but then the movie subjects them to the humiliation of being patronized by the Fresh Cures (who themselves spent most of the first All Stars movie incapacitated by sticky, sticky goo) before being promptly bailed out of trouble. The express train of shame doesn't stop there, however. The Fresh Cures end up saving the hapless Heartcatch duo twice during the course of the movie. Really, if you count Love keeping Tsubomi from getting pegged in the face by a plastic flashlight any other character in the Pretty Cure franchise could have easily dodged (including that walking mailbox thing), Fresh saves Heartcatch three times. By my count, one or both of the Heartcatch Cures is rescued no less than six times in the course of a 70-minute movie. No wonder the other Heartcatch characters with cameo appearances in the movie pretended not to know them. Oh yes, there are cameos. Everyone and her mother is in this movie.

Love and Erika
Purses are so Freudian, Love.

If the first Pretty Cure All Star movie was the Home Run Derby (and it kinda was, really, with Cures just teeing off at will), DX2 is the actual game. There's an assortment of "All Star" bad guys from seasons past in DX2, most of which I'm pretty sure returned from beyond the grave. No David Bowie, though. Sorry. Take it up with the Ghost of Olivia Newton-John. No Zakenna butlers either. Man, those guys sure got shafted. They probably weren't even evil!

But I digress.

Although previously vanguished enemies return, it's obvious the Precure All Stars movies cannot be canonical. Besides the temporal anomalies and the characters playing fast-and-loose with their secret identities and those of the mascots, there's just no clear way to rationalize the various inconsistencies and contradictions among the various Precure generations. For example, Max Heart non-combatants conveniently pass out during Zakenna attacks. Conversely, the Fresh-verse populace suffers the kind of gruesome fates you might expect of civilians on the mahou shoujo battlefield; they simply just don't care. (I think Clovertown should probably be named after a different plant.) Even differences in character designs have to be handwaved away just so the successive generations can play ball.

Buki and Love
After hanging around Erika and Tsubomi, Buki and Love got a lot less...aerodynamic.

In the case of Fresh Pretty Cure and Heartcatch Precure, it means the amount of time characters from both series are in the same frame simultaneously is limited, and the Fresh girls' famously pronounced bosoms are whisked away, leaving all the characters uniformly flat. [Setsuna: Ha! Now you know how I feel!] They also don't stand shoulder-to-shoulder much, since Miki would be about two feet taller than Erika, for example.

Setsuna
Poor Easy. First they took her powers, then they took her adulthood,
and then they took her bust. Now they've taken her nose.

Towards the end, this conglomeration of vastly disparate character designs gets mushed into a rightfully maligned CGI battle that doesn't fit with the rest of the movie at all, but probably heralds the future of Pretty Cure animation if I don't miss my guess.

CGI Cures
It's the circus, Pretty Cure.

One thing All Stars DX2 did get right was addressing the disparity in the limitations each Cure generation faces. For example, Nagisa and Honoka are unable to transform into Cure Black and Cure White unless (1) they are together, and (2) they have Mepple and Mipple with them. On the other hand, girls from the Yes! crew can transform individually whenever the Hell they want. Although this liberates the Yes! girls quite a bit in terms of the restraints on their abilities, this freedom does introduce a number of hazards from which the traditional restrictions safeguard. Really, they're just asking for trouble in Nozomi's case. You know it's just a matter of time before she dozes off in class and transforms into Cure Dream in her sleep. Five will get you ten Nozomi eventually levels the entire school with a stray somnambulistic PRETTY CURE SHOOTING STAR one afternoon after eating a big lunch.

Cure Dream
Nozomi? Dojikko basket case. Cure Dream? Full-time ass kicker.

So what else does All Stars DX2 do right? Well, the Splash Star Cures once again have the best looking moves of the movie, especially the part when they simultaneously Fastball Special the Heartcatch Cures into almost doing something useful. After the first All Stars movie and 26 episodes (and counting) of the series proper, I have newfound respect for Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star. This is easily the most underrated and overlooked generation of all the Precure series. I'm guilty of it too, but it really was overshadowed by the first generation and overlooked by Honoka & Nagisa loyalists. They'll probably always get the short end during future Precure projects, but they certainly make the most of the little screen time they do get.

Cure Bloom, Cure Marine, and Cure Egret
Armpit service.

It's also nice how All Stars DX2 packs in essentially every single character that ever had a speaking role in any Pretty Cure series or movie. It didn't get everyone, or at least I didn't see everyone, but they damn near very well did. The entire movie is a "Where's Waldo?" exercise in identifying as many supporting Precure characters as you can. Still, I hope they don't attempt to do this much more. It really doesn't make sense to me to have supporting characters with superpowers of their own riding the pine, contributing nothing to the fight except some half-hearted Miracle Light waving. Cure Moonlight, Cure Sunshine, Cure Grandma, Wester, Souler, et al., I see you. Way to be only as useful as the six-year-old girl sitting in the eighth row of the theater. Thanks for nothing.

Crowd of supporting characters
Yeah, there are spoilers in this picture.

I do hope there are more All Stars movies, although with the ever ballooning cast of Cures crowding the 70-minute-attention-span ceiling, maybe Toei will be better off making Pretty Cure Team-Up movies, wherein the (presumably) eventually competent Heartcatch Cures show next year's newbies the ropes. Hope Tsubomi keeps Love's phone number on speed-dial.

Cure Black and Cure White
I don't know which explanation would be the
more appalling: That Cure Black and Cure White
missed, or that they fired a warning shot.

Oh, and to answer the titular question, the two hottest minutes of Pretty Cure All Stars DX2 are the combined sequences of all the times the Heartcatch Cures had their necks saved by other Cures. I knew Cure Blossom and Cure Marine were good for something.