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Dated 2 April 2024: More about Spring 2024

Nadeshiko, Reimi, and Akira
Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Last week, I provided a quick rundown of what I expect to watch this season. This post augments that one by including additional titles that I plan to try, but won't necessarily watch all the way through. By the time I finally post this, the first episode of Shuumatsu Train Doko e Iku (Where Does the Doomsday Train Go? or Train to the End of the World) should be out. This is an original anime with Mizushima Tsutomu attached, so I'm more optimistic about it than the rest of the shows I'm considering. In many of those cases, I've only read potentially misleading descriptions and won't even have necessarily watched the corresponding trailers.

Mira
I don't know anything about you.

Astro Note is one of those anime I know nothing about. I believe the first episode has already leaked, but I remain wholly ignorant about its contents aside from learning it's an original anime. It's enough to warrant a try out of general principle.

Hoshino
Have I even seen any fan art of you? You don't look familiar at all.

Blue Archive I know only from fan art. Based on that, I'm confident the series will be about scantily clad schoolgirls making passes at their teacher while toting around firearms designed by people who know absolutely fuck all about guns. I did watch a trailer, and it mostly seems to feature only the shrimpy kids. Where are all the aerodynamic students?! Are the shrimpy girls the ones who are popular among those who actually play the game? Did fan art lead me astray?

Haruka
I assume this has nothing to do with Boukyaku no Senritsu.

Boukyaku Battery (Oblivion Battery) is a baseball anime with an amnesia gimmick. Curiously, it's the catcher who lost his memory, and not the pitcher. I could totally see how this story would work with a now-clueless pitcher taking cues from a knowledgeable catcher (you know, like in Bull Durham), but having a catcher who doesn't know what he's doing sounds like a bad time for a battery. I also noticed there's an ONA from 2020 with these characters except set after high school, while this new TV series is set at the beginning of high school. I'm not sure what the deal is, but I'm going to assume the ONA adapted material from later in the original manga, and it's not the TV series aging everyone down to make them more relatable to an adolescent audience.

As for the rest of the new Spring 2024 anime that I'm going to try out...

  • Jii-san Baa-san Wakagaeru (Grandpa and Grandma Turn Young Again). Everything I know about this comes from its title. I can't tell from the promo art if I'm looking at the couple while they're old, but they look oddly young, or if I'm seeing them when they're already young again, but they still look oddly old.
  • Unnamed Memory. @frog_kun raved about the source material years ago. My taste and hers often don't align, and she tends to be a lot more enthusiastic than I am about the same titles, but it's still enough of an endorsement to warrant a try.
  • SeiyÅ« Radio no Ura Omote (The Two Sides of Voice Actor Radio). Hasegawa Ikumi is in it. I don't think she's voicing one of the leads, though.
  • Ooi! Tonbo is about golf. Eh. Golf.
  • NIJIYON ANIMATION 2. Yeah, I'm watching more because they're making more. It's a vicious cycle.

Dated 31 October 2023: The IDOLM@STER Million Live! anime is finally here

Umi
I recognize this pose from clips I've seen of the game.

As part of the iM@S franchise, Million Live! has been around for more than 10 years. Considering how (relatively) quickly Cinderella Girls received an anime, I had been wondering when an adaptation for Million Live! might drop. There was a PV featuring the characters as superheroes, but that was more than six years ago now. Well, the anime-anime is finally here!

Chizuru, Tomoka, Shiho, Kana, Hibiki, Arisa, and Takane
Despite what fan art may lead you to believe, Takane has a lower BMI than Hibiki.

I am, at best, only a secondary or tertiary fan of the franchise. Meaning, I don't really know anything about the characters or the game, so I can't claim to be particularly invested it. Nevertheless, learning that the anime was going to use 3DCG animation didn't exactly inspire a lot of optimism. True, there have already been quite a few shows I've been okay with even though they were entirely 3DCG, but being "okay" with them isn't the same thing as "preferring." Thankfully, the 3D animation used in the Million Live! anime doesn't look bad at all. Well, I do think Takane's face looks odd, but that has more to do with how her character design changed than it does the animation format. Besides, she's not one of the leads here.

Miki
I didn't need a name thingy for Miki. I recognized her from the couch.

Speaking of which, THERE ARE SO MANY IDOLS. I knew this going in, but it's especially apparent since the series is really trying to give everyone some screen time. In fact, the anime provides onscreen name placards as characters appear, and it seems it will continue to do so for the entire show. [Update: They stopped appearing for established characters after episode four.] Even I already knew the characters well enough to recognize them on sight and not get them confused with each other, but displaying the names is still probably the right decision. I could do without the constant emphasis about each idol's characteristic quirks, though. I feel like those sorts of cues are generally unhelpful. Rather than flushing out their personalities, I think it's reductive.

Shizuka, Mirai, Producer, and Tsubasa
These are the four main characters.

Still, the Million Live! anime is not off to bad start. However, I do hope it gets more than one cours, if only to provide more time to better realize the characters who are most critical to the anime's plot. Both the original iM@S anime and main Cinderella Girls adaptation ran for two cours, so it would be a shame if Million Live! joined U149 in only getting one, particularly with such a large cast. Maybe it should have adopted the Love Live! Superstar!! approach by starting with only a core group and expanding during subsequent seasons. Or maybe I'm just being greedy now.

Dated 12 August 2021: Sonny Boy is carrying the Summer 2021 anime season

Nagara, Mizuho, Tora, and Nozomi
Don't ask the cat. The cat won't tell you.

I decided to watch Sonny Boy because it's an original anime and the promotional art featured a girl holding a cat in a weird way. Then it turned out there wasn't really much else from the Summer 2021 anime season that interested me aside from some sequels and continuations. I don't like to characterize anime seasons as being bad, but this season is much less good than most of its predecessors.

Rajdhani
I can't believe so many of the boys are still wearing their ties.

Thankfully, Sonny Boy turned out to offer just the right amount of weirdness to keep me interested. I'm not sure if it will all come together at the end, but it's intriguing in the sort of way that should work if there's an actual planned conclusion. I'm at least confident it won't get dragged out for years like, uh, some American television shows I could name.

Cap and Asakaze
Asakaze got over this way faster than I would have.

After four episodes, I don't honestly know what's going on. Maybe today's episode will clear things up, but I'm not counting on it. On the plus side, I don't really feel the need for the series to explain what it's doing. Even if there aren't actually any clues I'm supposed to be stringing together, it's nice just to have something a little surreal every once in a while.

Nagara and Nozomi
I'm a big fan of lying down doing nothing, but ya gotta get up sometimes.

Really, the only genuine issue I have is that I'm approaching my limit with regard to Potato-kun being a fucking dishrag with no motivation, no interests or desires, and no charisma. I don't know why anime dudes have gotta always be this way (if they're not overly intense spazzes who shout all their lines), but it's not great. On the plus side, the girl who was holding a cat weird in the promo art is fantastic.

Dated 8 June 2021: Tropical-Rouge! Precure is an average installment of the franchise, but that means it's pretty good

Laura
Just so you know, this is canon.

Is it racist to regard the mermaid character as the mascot of Tropical-Rouge! Precure? Because I'm gonna. The way I see it, Coco and Nuts from Yes! Precure 5 were both definitely mascots, even though they had human forms. (I think it's more appropriate to consider Milk and Syrup as sidekicks instead of mascots, but that's a digression.) Based on that precedent, I don't think it's inappropriate to also consider Laura as the team's mascot, even though she's more humanoid than, say, Hummy or Tarte.

Laura
It's lucky for the mermaid that the school and the city have so many canals.

I can see how someone might take issue with the mascot category in its entirety, due to various interpretations and implications of what "mascot" means. Some people like to refer to these sort of Pretty Cure characters as fairies, but that's clearly inappropriate here. Fairy is a biological designation which happens to apply to most of the mascots, but certainly would not apply to Laura. Mascot is a role, not a race. See, for example, the Phillie Phanatic, the San Diego Chicken, or Tainan's fish thing, Sababoy.

Laura, Minori, Manatsu, and Sango
Playing "Hide the Mermaid" is a good recurring gag.

In any case, Laura is pretty great, and a significant reason why Tropical-Rouge! Precure is so good. Really, all of the characters are enjoyable, but that's basically the norm when it comes to Pretty Cure characters in general. I like the unmotivated villains as well, even if sometimes they're a little too relatable. Through 15 episodes, if I were to rack and stack it along with the previous generations, Tropical-Rouge! ends up in the middle, but among some good company. It's a testament to how many exceptional years this franchise has produced so far that it doesn't place higher.

Dated 27 October 2020: More more more Autumn 2020 impressions

Tsurumi and Tsukishima
He had it coming.

Some of the shows I covered in previous posts (1st, 2nd, 3rd) included remakes and sequels or continuations. Well, there are more. Golden Kamuy also resumed this season. It's described as the third season, but really it's just the third cours of series. The anime remains as good as ever, thanks to the strength of the source material. In fact, the anime has improved by thus far avoiding the 3DCG pitfalls that unfortunately distracted from the first cours.

Mutsuko and Daigo
Daigo is short.

Major 2nd S2 remains consistently good as anyone who has ever followed the franchise would expect. The current arc again revisits events from the first season of Major 2nd, but it should still be accessible to new viewers. Well, they can be new to Major, but it probably helps to know at least a little about baseball. At a minimum, it will reinforce how relatively lucky the new girl has been so far despite making a lot of basic mistakes.

Akira
This is not actually a room.

One Room is also back for a third season. It's first-person-anime gimmick seems a bit lewder this time around than I remember from the previous installments. However, it's still fairly tame even though the first girl found an excuse to whip off her clothes by the second episode. I guess since the characters only gets three episodes for each arc they have to make the best of their opportunities.

Hattori and Miyafuji
Strike Witches is still Miyafuji's show.

Going the other way, Strike Witches: Dai-501 Tougou Sentou Koukuudan ROAD to BERLIN (the third "proper" season of Strike Witches) is definitely less lewd now compared to how it started out. The first season of Strike Witches featured uncensored casual nudity on a fairly regular basis. This season started with an appearance by Sakamoto Mio wearing pants, of all things. PANTS!

Dated 28 July 2020: Major 2nd S2 is back

Tao, Sakura, Yayoi, and Anita
This is not an enthusiasm comparison chart.

The second season of Major 2nd went on hiatus after episode seven in the spring, but has resumed production for the summer anime season. It's not clear to me how long the show will run, but I'm hoping the Major franchise remains popular enough that we'll get at least a few more cours out of it. Having a mostly female cast and (so far) no sudden tragedies are departure from the norm, but not ones that have hurt the series at all.

Daigo and Sakura
This is a baseball thing, not a Covid thing.

The first season of Major 2nd already established that Daigo's story was going to be significantly different from Goro's in that Daigo's talent for the sport has been entirely unremarkable, and certainly so compared to Goro's freakish abilities. However, through 10 episodes of the second season, Daigo has effectively applied the lessons he's learned as he finesses the new leadership role that was thrust upon him.

Yamaguchi
The teacher isn't giving signs. She got bonked on the head by a foul ball while napping.

Daigo's middle school team of mostly girls is doing well, but they're by no means assured of victory in these contests. All of them are talented to some degree, but there a few areas that could use significant improvement. Even some fundamentals are shaky at times. I'm hoping Major 2nd Season 2 continues running long enough for the team to come together, because it's not going to happen overnight. I am optimistic for an extended run, though. A new OP is scheduled to drop 22 August, coinciding with the return of Horie Yui's character from the first season. Hell yeah.

Dated 28 April 2020: Tamayomi v. Major 2nd S2

Yomi
I don't know why she's wearing a Suzuki hat.

Based on the promotional materials leading up to the Spring 2020 anime season, I expected Tamayomi to be a show more about "cute girls doing cute things" than a show about baseball. Its source material is a Manga Time Kirara property, and besides, the characters play in shorts. Sure enough, the series turned out to be more about friendship and fan-service lesbianism than baseball. It's not a bad series, although it helps to really enjoy that sort of show. The baseball parts were also depicted reasonably well. Unfortunately, production levels were never especially high, and started declining immediately. By episode four, the animation had all but collapsed, presumably at least partially due to impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Anita, Chisato, Seira, Sakura, Yayoi, Tao, Akira
They're gonna need more players.

Having watched the previous seven seasons of Major, I was much more confident about Major 2nd S2. Through the first four episodes, it has turned out to be as good as I was expecting. I was also pleasantly surprised by its focus on female characters. Girls playing baseball have appeared in previous installments of Major fairly often, but they've always been the minority. However, season two of Major 2nd is about a team that has six girls in the starting lineup. There are only nine players so far, so it's unclear where this will go from here, but it's a welcome new direction for the franchise. Unfortunately, production has stalled due to the pandemic, with no date announced yet for its return.

Tamaki and Yomi
Financial questions aside, Tamayomi should probably go on hiatus.

Curiously, I don't believe Tamayomi has announced any planned delays yet, although it probably should. Episode four was dire. I'm not especially confident episode five will fare much better. In any case, I've already dropped the show. I'm not specifically dropping it because of the animation, although that certainly isn't helping. Rather, I just don't find the show particularly compelling, and there are plenty of other titles in my backlog I could be watching instead. (See this post for more on that.)

Dated 15 April 2019: I'm watching two baseball anime this season

Touma and Souichirou
Touma is shorter and has messier hair.

The Spring 2019 anime season features Mix: Meisei Story and Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine, two fairly different baseball anime. The former is an adaptation of a still-running Adachi Mitsuru manga and an apparent sequel set 30 years after one of his classics, Touch. Although I've only read the first few chapters of Mix, I have read Touch as well as a number of other Adachi titles. I also watched Cross Game, so I'm reasonably confident that Mix is basically guaranteed to be good, although I imagine newcomers to Adachi's work may wonder why everyone has the same face. I'm also counting on at least one tragic character death. Hey, baseball is a cruel sport, okay. I don't know how long the Mix anime is expected to run, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up lasting all year.

Ukita
TWO HANDS!

Unlike Mix, where baseball has been a part of the characters' lives for a long time, Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine features mostly neophytes, at least in terms of skill level. It also features a meek, somewhat clumsy girl in an animal-ears hoodie whose initial defining characteristic was anxiety. I was prepared to loathe her on general principle, but I suppose it's a credit to Cinderella Nine that I pretty much regard her as at least "okay" now after two episodes. The show does feel like yet another show where a bunch of girls are all really into something that girls stereotypically don't care so much about, but there are quite a few shows in that vein that still turn out to be very good, so I'm willing to give Cinderella Nine the benefit of the doubt. I'm not expecting it to be anywhere near as good as Taisho Yakyuu Musume or Princess Nine, but I'm hopeful the baseball itself will be better in Cinderella Nine than it was in Princess Nine. (See this earlier post for more on that.)