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Dated 25 February 2020: In/Spectre is my top show of the Winter 2020 anime season so far

Kotoko
Nearly the entire seventh episode takes place in a hotel room.

Before the season started, I wasn't expecting too much out of Kyokou Suiri (In/Spectre), but it's really turning out to be quite enjoyable. There is a significant amount of dialogue in the series, as the characters spend a lot of time discussing the details from various angles first before tacking the mysteries they're facing. Consequently, there is a lot more talking and much less neck kicking than the trailer led me to believe. Thankfully, I do find the banter entertaining, and the characters are pleasant to have around. The lead male doesn't seem to get excited very often, which is a huge improvement over anime's penchant for making these dudes spazzes.

Kotoko and Kurou
These two are okay together.

The pacing in Kyokou Suiri is slower than I expected, though. In fact, it's slow enough that I'm starting to wonder if the ongoing Nanase mystery is going to take up the entire cours. I suppose this means a non-ending "read the books" ending is all but assured. I'd rather In/Spectre turn into a long-running series (it could take over the yokai niche for GeGeGe no Kitarou, which I think is ending this season after a two-year run), but the chances of that seem pretty slim. As far as I know, it's only scheduled for 12 episodes, and I'm not certain it's been popular enough to have the, uh, legs for more.

Dated 3 December 2019: Still enjoying Kono Oto Tomare! despite (or because of) all the drama

Hozuki
Hozuki is still Best Girl even though she's nice to people now.

The second cours of Kono Oto Tomare! Sounds of Life continues to satisfy with its steady stream of people being judgmental assholes. That bit from the first cours where smug douches jump to conclusions based on false accusations and totally unfair assumptions reappears here, but still manages to avoid crossing into irritating territory. It's a fine line, but I like how the show doles out the inevitable comeuppance and vindicates the accused.

Akira
You're okay. Try not to drive into a hedge.

I don't know how the source material is paced, but a bunch of characters are piling into the show as of the most recent episode, presumably in a rush to work in all the bits related to the upcoming competition before the season ends. This does work to its detriment, but it's the sort of thing I'm willing to excuse since the sum of the parts totals favorably. I'm not expecting further episodes of Kono Oto Tomare! after this season ends, but I'd watch more.

Dated 8 October 2019: Araburu Kisetsu no Otomedomo yo。 was the best show of the Summer 2019 anime season

Sugawara
Lewd.

I suppose I need to set aside my anti-Okada bias now that I've enjoyed one of her melodramas so much. As far as sex disasters go, Araburu Kisetsu no Otomedomo yo。 was honestly a little light on the sex and not as traumatic in the disaster department as I would have liked, but O Maidens in Your Savage Season did have the courage to do a lot of things that I don't think an Okada-free show would have attempted. Framed in the sense that tragedies end in murder while comedies end in marriage. I was optimistically hoping Araoto would turn out to be a tragedy, but I still liked it quite a bit even though it turned out to be a comedy.

Sonezaki
Relax, it's only lust.

Not that there wasn't tragic stuff in it, but we're talking emotional-trauma tragic, not murder-suicide tragic. I do wish Araburu Kisetsu no Otomedomo yo。 had not gone quite so easy on the arcs that had the best opportunities for going really poorly for everyone involved, but I acknowledge this is a sadistic perspective. Besides, fully exploring some of the paths that its characters could have taken would have changed the tone of the show dramatically. Probably I still would have been entertained, but I appreciate that many viewers would not have been as accepting. Still, I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to hope an Okada Mari sex disaster would end with a murder instead of a marriage. I'm just sayin'.

Dated 30 July 2019: Nobody knew a Mari Okada sex disaster would have so much drama

Rika
Rika could stand to be a little less uptight.

Actually, wait, the title of this post is a lie. Probably everybody did. I, for one, am in it for the potential wall-to-wall traumarama. Somehow, Araburu Kisetsu no Otomedomo yo. (O Maidens in Your Savage Season) is my top Summer 2019 show through four episodes, even though I typically hate a lot of Okada Mari's work. Anohana is the best example of this, being a highly praised show about Deep Feelings which drove me nuts with its bullshit and lazy contrivances. On the other hand, I'm riveted in my front-row seat for Araoto as its melodrama plays out. So far, its themes of unrequited love, envy, lust, and cruelty are not especially unique, but they also don't have to be. Everything just works and I'm happy to see its characters struggle to make sense of this challenging stage in their lives.

Kazusa
We're going to be seeing this face a lot, I suspect.

With regard to my own feelings about the Okada-isms in Araburu Kisetsu no Otomedomo yo., it's not as if there haven't been shows I've liked despite of (or potentially because of) her contributions to them. Additionally, it's entirely unclear to me whether my opinions on Okada-type works are simply unreliable, whether the shows I end up liking were fixed by other collaborators, or whether it turns out I actually do like her work, but it's other people in the production cycle who fuck it up along the way. Seeing as how the Araoto anime is based on a manga that Okada Mari is authoring herself, there's a genuine possibility that "Pure Okada" is legitimately good, and sour products such as Anohana result from other cooks dumping shit into her broth. Or I suppose maybe I'm just finding her more palatable over the years.

Dated 17 June 2019: Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai is no B Gata H Kei

Ao
What does it mean if her pupils turn into hearts?

As I wrote earlier, I started watching Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (Ao-chan Can't Study!) by accident. I've dropped Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (We Never Learn: BOKUBEN), but I'm still watching Ao-chan. It's all right, but not great. Although the episodes are half-length, the story has advanced far enough that its titular character has fully accepted that she very much wants her crush to put the wood to her. Naturally, he's too much of a pure-pure boy to do anything about it, despite the wildly off-base reputation Ao-chan had associated with him, and despite her increasingly open advances. I don't know what happens in the manga, but it seems all but assured that anime-type Ao will fail in her attempts at having the sex.

Ao
Wait, then what does it mean if her pupils turn into Debian?

B Gata H Kei (Yamada's First Time) similarly features a sexually frustrated girl who can't seem to get laid despite her best efforts. There are important differences between B Gata H Kei and Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai, though. Notably, actual chemistry develops between Yamada and Kosuda; I'm not really buying Ao's relationship with Takumi. Kosuda and Takumi both seem like reasonably fine fellows, and Ao does seem several degrees less insane than Yamada, but I like Yamada and Kosuda quite a bit more than Ao and Takumi, both as individuals and as couples. B Gata H Kei also has a supporting cast that adds to the story. Usually I find that if a show is going to go wrong with its supporting characters, it fails by adding too many of them. Ao-chan Can't Study! somehow doesn't have enough of them, or at least doesn't have any that improve the series at all. They're basically dead weight.

Kosuda and Yamada
Does it mean she's open for sourcing?

I guess B Gata H Kei has the advantage of having twice the run time, relative to Ao-chan's half-length episodes. Oddly, it's the former that's based on a 4-koma comic strip, while the latter is sourced from a regular manga series. The Ao-chan anime does still have the opportunity to turn things around, depending on how its ending goes. The, uh, climax to B Gata H Kei anime does not, um, perform quite as well as the comic's. It probably could use an OVA, although I suspect this is going to end up being true of both shows.

Dated 20 May 2019: There are two shows this season about girls who don't talk

Nanako
People would not put up with this if Nanako weren't so nice.

Senryuu Shoujo (Senryuu Girl) is about a girl who doesn't speak. Instead, she communicates with senryuu poems written on little placards. It works out really well for her, since she either writes super fast or is extraordinarily prescient enough to have suitable responses prepared ahead of time. There's nothing physically preventing Nanako from speaking, as far as I can tell. She just has severe anxiety.

Momoko and Mayumi
Joshikausei consists entirely of schoolgirls fucking off.

Joshikausei (also written as two words, Joshi Kausei), on the other hand, features a cast of girls (and unimportant supporting characters) who can speak but choose not to. This is a short anime with three-minute episodes—even shorter than Senryuu Shoujo which has half-length 13-minute episodes. Neither the Joshikausei anime nor its source manga have any dialogue at all. I haven't read the Senryuu Shoujo manga, but Nanako is voiced in the anime. We're privy to her thoughts and Hanakana reads all of the cards aloud. This makes Senryuu Shoujo less gimmicky, but it also takes a little away from the show's premise. Both Senryuu Shoujo and Joshikausei are all right. They're uniformly pleasant, but I wouldn't regard them as must-watch shows this season.

Dated 22 April 2019: There are at least two shows this season about not being able to study

Uruka
Lucky for Potato-kun, Uruka is tsundere, not yandere.

I guess I did know ahead of time that there were two shows with Benkyou ga Dekinai in the title, but managed to forget when the season started. In any event, I had decided to watch Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (We Never Learn: BOKUBEN) and skip Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (Ao-chan Can't Study!) based on their descriptions, and because Bokuben at least had some people on the Twitter mildly looking forward to it. Well, I ended up watching the first episode of Ao-chan by accident (it aired first) and decided to stick with it.

Takumi and Ao
Dude is literally sniffing his hand after groping Ao's thighs.

After three episodes of each, I'm going to continue watching Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai and I'm dropping Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai. I was concerned Ao-chan's little goblin father was going to ruin the show for me, particularly after his antics in the first episode, but I'm relieved to discover the show itself is pretty much a straightforward sex comedy about misunderstandings. One key that allows the show to work for me is that both Ao and her love interest are actually already into each other, and probably should be engaging in activities that might inadvertently help address Japan's declining birth rates, but they're both pretty dense. This is a small (but appreciated) departure from the usual formula where both parties are 100-percent pure. Ao-chan Can't Study! might end up being that way too, since—let's face it—anime is fucking chickenshit, but the show is okay for now. It also helps that the episodes are only half-length.

Nariyuki and Fumino
I guess now she can't get married.

Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai, on the other hand, drags. I get the feeling that I would probably be okay with some of its cliches in manga form, because a reader can just blow through at his own pace. But the anime spends entirely too much time on antics I've seen plenty of times before and don't feel compelled to revisit. Most of the show's fans seem to have been fans of the manga first, but I'm not sure how they regard the adaptation specifically. I, for one, could do with less Postmodern Tsundere bullshit. I'm actually even okay with all the characters. I guess even Potato-kun has his own positive qualities, but the show absolutely does not work for me. Frankly, I stopped caring whether these BOKUBEN bonklers manage to study or not. I can't guarantee I won't also tire of Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai too, but for the time being I hope she goes all season not being able to study.

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.