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Dated 27 August 2018: This Hand Maid May blog entry is not about May or maids

May and Kazuya
At least the apartment she's cleaning is also small.

I think it's been more than 10 years since I last re-watched Hand Maid May. I probably have a disproportionately positive perspective on what is ultimately a 20th century fan-service-laden harem comedy. I can't guarantee I would still hold it in high regard if I were to watch it for the first time now, but I do still remember it fondly. (The impetus for bringing Hand Maid May up again comes from the latest episode of Hataraku Saibou.)

Kazuya and Kasumi
That ladder bridge looks less and less safe as the years go by.

If anything, re-watching Hand Maid May now might help me clarify one aspect that I've always been sort of uncertain about. Namely, how old is Kasumi? Her current English Wikipedia entry describes her as an 18-year-old college student (with no citation), and the current Japanese Wikipedia entry claims she is a student at Kazuya's university (also with no citation). I don't remember this ever being established within the anime itself.

Kasumi and Kazuya
Further proof that Kasumi is right-handed..

It is pretty likely that she is at least out of high school, because there is a flashback in episode eight to Kasumi's graduation, and we never see her in a school uniform outside of those flashbacks. But since (as I understand it), compulsory education in Japan ends with middle school (after completing 9th grade, by U.S. reckoning), it's not impossible (albeit unlikely) that she dropped out to run the apartment complex, coach baseball, and flirt with Kazuya full-time.

Dated 23 July 2018: I'm calling my shot: Mutsuko in Major 2nd will turn out to be a five-tool player

Hikaru, Mutsuko, Daigo, and Urabe
Daigo is short.

The second cours of Major 2nd has expanded the story to give more depth to the supporting characters following the first cours' focus on Daigo (Goro's son) and Hikaru (Toshiya's son). As viewers familiar with the original Major might expect, this includes making initially hostile teammates more receptive to the new kids now that they're proving themselves on the field. This does mean revisiting themes about putting expectations on the children of superstars, but it also includes said children showing up kids who didn't know who they up against.

Tashiro and Komori
Damn, these two got old.

Major 2nd does give a lot of attention to its new characters' heritage and there are frequent appearances by characters from the original series. For example, three of the current coaches we've seen thus far have played baseball with Goro. (Okay, four, technically.) Although this is not to say that Major 2nd is dominated necessarily by characters with direct ties to the original Major. Most of the players we've seen so far don't appear to have any connection to characters from the first series.

Mutusko
It's Major. Maybe her parents will die.

Notably, Sakura Mutsuko, Daigo's classmate and the only girl on the Dolphins, is turning out to be an exceptional player in her own right. Initially just someone who sort of tagged along, there have always been hints that she's much better at baseball than anyone realized. Now that she's actually applying herself, it's obvious that she can effortlessly hit for contact, and apparently she's fast on the basepaths, too (legging out a triple on her first base hit). Really, it's just a matter of time before we see her taking people deep, making ridiculous catches in right field, and gunning down opponents who dared to round third. It's an odd thing to speculate about considering how much of the manga is probably already out, but I rather prefer not knowing how things develop for Mutsuko for the time being.

Dated 2 July 2018: Continuing shows and sequels of Summer 2018

Emiru and RUR-9500
The matching guitars are actually magic beam rifles. This is not a joke.
P.S. Spoilers.

Seven or eight of the shows I plan to watch during the Summer 2018 anime season are shows continuing from Spring 2018 or sequels. Specifically, Overlord III, One Room 2, and Cinderella Girls Gekijou 3rd Season are sequels, and the shows continuing from last season are Detective Conan, GeGeGe no Kitarou, Major 2nd, Hugtto! Precure, and possibly Piano no Mori.

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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 20 November 2017: Just Because! is good even when it is not about baseball

Mio
I guarantee Himura Kiseki wanted to give her huge breasts.

If you're not watching Just Because!, you may at least have seen discussions about it on the Twitter, mostly about how it's apparently always on the verge of a production meltdown. Alternatively, you might also have heard about it because its character designer is the artist who provides weekly blue illustrations of buxom characters every Monday morning. Just Because! also featured in its first episode a very well done baseball sequence, a motif that reappears during the series. Really, the series is about romance, and unrequited love, and people being too chickenshit to let others know how they feel, but it's all the other parts that ensure the show works. Usually, the part about teenagers not being honest with their feelings is a pretty big red flag when you're looking for entertaining anime, but Just Because! handles these various plot lines fairly well, at least through the first six episodes.

Ena and Eita
Go on, Ena. Curse the bitch out.

The real star of the show, however, is the Photography Club girl whose photojournalism skills are on point. I'm not all that familiar with Lynn, her seiyuu (I actually thought it was Haruka De Tomaso Pantera initially), despite her numerous past roles (of which, I'm most familiar with Keijo!!!!!!!!), but she's pretty good here. It looks like Ena is going to get laid out on the teen romance smorgasbord as well, which I guess is fine as long as Just Because! remembers to retains her comic scenes and occasional griefing.

Dated 30 December 2014: Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works is still good even though it's no Carnival Phantasm

Rin
Nice couch.

The first cour of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is quite good despite all the problems in its source material. This is a testament to ufotable's deft execution, because that source material is sufficiently flawed that it could easily turn into a train wreck in less capable hands. The mythology behind the Holy Grail War is so preposterous that it seems more appropriate for any Fate/stay night adaptation to play it safe and simply be a straight-up farce like Carnival Phantasm. It's a credit to ufotable that I don't spend every moment of every episode asking perfectly reasonable questions such as, "Why hasn't Berserker killed them yet? Why isn't he killing them now?"

Shirou and Saber
Saber could use some coaching.

The first cour of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works legitimately is good, though. The action sequences are exceptionally well done, the production values are great all around, and (most amazingly) Emiya Shirou does not come across as a shitheel. Unfortunately, this is a split-cour series, so we're going to have to wait until spring to find out what manner of CGI euphemism we'll get this time around. Who knows, maybe ufotable will actually animate the sex scene? J.C. Staff did that with Shingetsutan Tsukihime, the first anime adaptation of a TYPE-MOON game (Internet memes notwithstanding), even if it turned out that vampires don't have nipples.

Dated 2 December 2014: "It's not easy being a genius" and other lies told in April

Kousei and Kaori
Ah! Ghost glasses!

Despite having no sympathy for its lead, a pathetic middle school boy with deep-seated emotional problems, I find Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) exceptional thus far. It's a two-cour adaptation of an award-winning manga that's already ended, so I'm optimistic the anime will have a real conclusion after a solid run instead of meandering aimlessly before trailing off like I might expect from some crappy harem comedy. (Read: A one-cour advertisement for some sorry light novel series.) Nevertheless, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso does teeter on the brink every episode, mostly because the lead character is an incredibly vulnerable boy and practically every other character in the show (men, women, boys, and girls) is obsessed with him. It technically is a harem comedy if you think about it, so letting a schmuck (albeit a talented one) drive the story turns the entire vehicle into a train wreck waiting to happen if A-1 Pictures should falter even a little bit.

Tsubaki
Williams Rotation.

In a way, this is appropriate for a show about musical prodigies. The episodes and the characters are excellent when they are on their games, but even a single minor mistake could cascade into catastrophe. Thankfully, A-1 Pictures has been spot-on so far, serving up beautiful visuals and captivating music during the performances. The supporting characters are also charismatic, even the childhood friend who unfortunately turns into a Childhood Friend. Even the erstwhile womanizing ladies' man who has displayed no actual evidence of such proclivities and appears to be hiding a sensitive side. Hell, I'm even interested in the mopey shell-shocked lead's wheelchair-bound Tiger Mom's specter, albeit to a much lesser extent than, say, the blond dervish (who is probably secretly dying despite her vivacious, constantly churning limbs), or the stiletto in a red dress. Especially the stiletto in a red dress.

Dated 29 April 2013: Spring 2013 initial impressions

Man and Old Man
The Hustler.

The preseason buzz for spring 2013 seemed fairly pessimistic. (Sort of seems that way more often than not lately.) Thankfully, this quarter is shaping out to be pretty decent, at least through the first third of the cour. I guess I was looking forward to Death Billiards from the name alone—turns out it's another excellent Anime Mirai short movie, by the way—and that show about giants eating people, and the second season of Railgun, so it's not as if I believed spring 2013 would be a total write-off. It turns out there are at least a couple of gems and one shiny rock to admire.

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