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Dated 20 September 2022: I hope Lycoris Recoil and Engage Kiss can both stick their landings

Chisato and Takina
What are you thinking about?

You might see Lycoris Recoil and Engage Kiss compared every so often (and I guess that's what I'm doing now), but they don't share much in common. Well, I guess they both have Aniplex and A1-Pictures behind them, and both anime air on Saturdays, but the shows themselves aren't similar. Also, both are headed towards a big finish this weekend, although I can see how Lycoris Recoil might earn itself a sequel, depending on how things go.

Chisato
Look, there aren't even any bullet holes!

To be clear, Lycoris Recoil is a significantly better show than Engage Kiss. I like both, although for different reasons, but there's a good reason why fans of Lycoris Recoil are so enthused. It features a well-balanced mix of serious drama with genuine stakes, wacky high jinks, and significant amounts of entertaining (albeit unrealistic) gun play.

Sharon and Shuu
My opinions about SHARON HOLYGRAIL are wholly positive.

On the other hand, Engage Kiss has a combat nun sensibly named SHARON HOLYGRAIL who only takes off her habit's headpiece during sex. It also features a high school demon girl whose motivation for being so devoted to Potato-kun is somewhat unclear. She at least seems willing to accept she must have had a good reason. Maybe she found instructions scrawled on her hand telling her to be, and just assumed there was a good reason that she merely forgot.

Dated 23 August 2022: Isekai Ojisan is brilliant

Elf and Uncle
Oh my God. These two are so good.

It turns out Isekai Ojisan (Uncle from Another World) is a lot funnier than I would have expected of an isekai parody. Actually, I guess it's not really even necessarily a parody. It just happens to subvert expectations by tackling all the stereotypical tropes the wrong way. There have only been five episodes so far due to a Covid-related two-week delay after the fourth episode, but every installment has been solid.

Elf
I want to know how her armor does that.

I've only read a few chapters of the manga, but this anime adaptation is outstanding. In particular, Koyasu Takehito as the Sega-obsessed uncle and Haruka DeTomaso Pantera as the elf girl from the other world are perfect. The anime also has a somewhat crude appearance to it (as does the original manga) that fits well with the gags, and the comic timing is right on. Seeing as how there are eight volumes of the ongoing manga so far, I have to assume there's more to the series than just non-stop anecdotes of the uncle's isekai misadventures, but I'd honestly be okay with it either way.

Dated 12 July 2022: I'm too old to enjoy Engage Kiss, but I still do

Kisara
You can tell she's serious because she changed clothes.

I have to concede Engage Kiss is "bad" by the standards I'm probably supposed to apply when evaluating anime. It embodies a number of qualities I associate with juvenile shows that cater to teenage boys. For one thing, the protagonist is a schlub who starts the series with two women (well, one woman, and one high school girl who is actually a demon, so she's probably hundreds of years old, if conventions hold) who are interested in him romantically for no clear reason.

Kisara
It's like Fruits Basket Face, except less sane.

However, the first two episodes do embrace a refreshingly carefree approach to old tropes that's sort of nostalgic in this modern era dominated instead by newer (but no less inane) clichés, and governed by sensibilities that are limiting without necessarily making things better. It's in this environment that Engage Kiss manages to shine, with some surprisingly satisfying gags that work well because the setting and premise are both absurd.

Kisara
Durable dress.

It's the little things, like hiding Tupperware® under a dress, or perfecting just-in-time delivery without resorting to drones, or broke shitbags shamelessly bumming cigarettes that really sell me on this series. Or maybe I just like the idea of a yandere demon employee because I haven't actually watched very many shows featuring yandere characters, so the stereotype still feels fresh to me.

Kisara
She seems nice.

Whatever the reason is, and I admit I'm not trying very hard to justify my affection for this bad (it's only mildly bad, okay!) show, I am rather enjoying it so far. It manages to feel both familiar and new at the same time, and it doesn't drag. I can't promise it will turn out to be capital-G Good at any point, but I've watched a lot worse.

Dated 14 June 2022: I'm starting to think KoiSeka will not end with a double suicide

Fudo and Desumi
Red Gelato and Shinigami Oujo are slacking off.

The gimmick behind Koi wa Sekai Seifuku no Ato de (Love After World Domination) is that Red Gelato, the main protagonist from a squad of heroes (think Power Rangers or Super Sentai) and Reaper Princess, one of the leaders of the villainous side, are secretly in love. The show is mostly about their struggles with romance while hiding their affair from the public and their respective teammates.

Red Gelato and Shinigami Oujo
I don't fully understand Desumi's battle costume.

This is not the first "daily lives of heroes and villains" thing I've encountered. Both Dokkoida?! and Sunred come to mind, for example. However, this is the first anime with an overtly Romeo and Juliet-esque spin on the premise that I've seen, although surely similar parodies must exist already in some form. Unfortunately, I'm not expecting the actual romance in KoiSeka to go anywhere. I'm already 10 episodes into the show as of this blog entry, so I'm doubtful there will be anything more to this series than light comedy.

Hellko
I do like Desumi's cat.

However, Koi wa Sekai Seifuku no Ato de doesn't really need to be much more than light comedy to succeed. The gags are amusing enough, and it seems the anime is reasonably popular this season. Consequently, barring any unexpectedly brilliant developments or an unfortunate collapse of some sort, I'm going to go ahead and suggest Love After World Domination is "fine" with occasionally good moments, but is not particularly remarkable otherwise.

Dated 5 April 2022: The End of KiseKoi ~Air/My Purest Love for Cosplay~

Marin
Best Girl.

I'm pleased to report Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling) completed its first cours with a solid finish, capping off a remarkable run well ahead of whatever expectations I may have had prior to starting the series. I'm by no means alone in praising the show as the best from the Winter 2022 anime season, so I'm hopeful we'll see a second cours at some point.

Nowa and Marin
Things I know about Nowa: She has great hair, and is purportedly freakishly strong.

In addition to the factors I've mentioned in my previous posts, the small cast also worked in its favor. I was sure the childhood friend who bitched Wakana out years ago was going to appear at some point, and similarly expected at least one arc involving Marin's friends getting into her business. The fact that neither of these things came to pass is a credit to the storytelling in KiseKoi and the attention it gave to Marin's point of view as her romantic feelings grew.

Wakana and Marin
These are some fireworks.

My Dress-Up Darling consistently defied expectations in these small ways throughout the season, but their impact in the aggregate is considerable. I hope authors and directors of future works take note of this phenomenon. You'd expect a story should need entirely original, novel ideas to gain this benefit, but Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru demonstrated simply not following familiar tropes to their specific expected destinations can be enough to transform scenes that would otherwise have been unremarkable.

Dated 8 March 2022: Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru remains the best series of the Winter 2022 anime season

Wakana and Marin
They're not panties, so it's not embarrassing.

Through nine episodes, Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling, also KiseKoi for short) continues to outperform even the most optimistic expectations I initially had for it. Two factors are primarily responsible for how it has accomplished this. First, it is sincere about its subject matter. Second, the series subvert clichés, even though it's mostly doing it in only small ways.

Marin, Sajuna, and Wakana
Marin has good hair.

With regard to the first point, I can't claim to know anything about cosplay, but KiseKoi seems earnest about the subject. The anime's instructional segments also seem framed to be accessible, informative, and sort of encouraging to neophytes who may have an interest in getting into cosplay themselves.

Marin
There is fan service, but that's not what makes KiseKoi good..

Concerning the second point, I'm pleased with how My Dress-Up Darling presents common anime tropes. There are a lot of scenes with setups that are extremely familiar to anyone who has watched a lot of anime. However, they end up playing out differently from the norm. This is not to say KiseKoi is subverting these conventions, but it's remarkable how simply executing them in ways slightly differently than usual makes all the difference.

Marin
It's not easy being anime.

To some degree, the success Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru achieves by simply doing things right is an indictment against all those other anime that end up being mostly mediocre because they seem to embrace shortcomings viewers regard as avoidable. Well, maybe My Dress-Up Darling is an example of how good an anime can be as a result of doing small things right. I should probably also mention the romance part of the series, since KiseKoi, you know, is a romantic comedy after all. However, I'm going to wait and see how it all progresses and just state, for now, that the anime is also handling this aspect well.

Dated 25 January 2022: Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru is about liking who you like

Marin and Wakana
I haven't seen any fan art yet of a younger Marin with all-pink hair.

I typically only write one blog entry for each anime I watch these days. On occasion, a series will receive a post at the start of the season and a follow-up at its conclusion, but it's probably just as likely for me to ignore a show altogether. It works out this way because I only update this blog about once per week, which limits some options if the number of shows I sample every season exceeds the number of weeks they run.

Marin
You should have stolen his outdoor shoes.

Simply put, A LOT of new anime comes out these days. Moreover, while the 80-percent-of-everything-is-crap maxim holds, it still suggests the sheer amount of worthwhile shows now is greater than it's ever been, nostalgic biases notwithstanding. Basically, every season now includes at least a dozen anime I find interesting enough to try. Except, I guess, this season.

Marin, Nowa, and Wakana
I continue to admire Nowa's two-toned twin-tailed hair.

Discounting never-ending staples such as Pretty Cure and Detective Conan (and I guess Demon Slayer almost counts now), I'm only following two shows: Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi’s Sailor Uniform) and Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling, A.K.A. KiseKoi). I honestly can't remember the last time I followed so few shows; at a minimum, it has been more than a decade. Even during the Covid-disrupted seasons early in the pandemic, I was watching more shows than I am now.

Marin
I'm being serious when I claim Akebi-chan is a lewder show than KiseKoi.

Since I'm not especially taken with Akebi-chan, this likely means KiseKoi is going to get a disproportionally high number of blog entries—and it sort of deserves it. Through its first three episodes, KiseKoi has hit its marks without belaboring the foreseeable conflicts its setup requires it to address. In doing so, it has avoided the standard pitfalls I've come to expect.

Akebi
For one thing, the girls in Akebi-chan keep their fingernails trimmed short.

This is not to say KiseKoi is breaking new ground. Marin is very much a manic pixie dream girl, but she is a personable one, so I can understand why she exploded in popularity among fan artists. I don't know for certain how well I would regard My Dress-Up Darling during a more crowded season, but I'm at least inclined to believe I would equally appreciate the little things it has been doing so well so far.

Dated 18 January 2022: My Dress-Up Darling is about liking what you like

Wakana and Marin
I wonder if they ate the cake she brought afterwards.

I have a favorable view of Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling) despite knowing nothing about its source material. Its first two episodes were solid, and I'm optimistic enough to presume it will not suddenly wreck itself by crashing into all the usual ways something like this goes wrong. Notably, the second episode spent nearly its entire length dedicated to Wakana's alarm at unexpectedly finding himself examining Marin's body closely as he takes all the measurements he needs so that he can make her cosplay outfit. These sorts of setups typically exasperate me with how they commonly play out, but I'm good with how this show performed it.

Shizuku and Marin
At least the ball gag is something she can just buy.

The second episode also echoed Marin's refrain from the first episode that people should be allowed to like what they like without being attacked over something that isn't anyone else's business. In Wakana's case, it's his obsession with dolls. (I should probably point out he appears to be obsessed with only one particular type of traditional doll, and not dolls in general. Although, in keeping with the show's themes, I guess that wouldn't have mattered anyway.) Marin, for her part, absolutely adores a gothic lolita character from a series of bishoujo games. (Specifically, the games in question are rated for adults only and have significant amounts of pornographic content, including various degrees of BDSM events.)

Marin and Wakana
Is that an engineer's ring?

It's yet unclear to me how the show will go, as there are a few ways it could turn out. The childhood friend who traumatized Wakana by bitching him out about liking dolls is sure to return (I'm pretty sure I can identify her in the opening credit sequence), presumably once the two leads are settling into a comfort zone. Typically, this sort of osananajimi reappearance involves some manner of tsundere bullshit, so how Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru handles the inevitable conflict will likely influence how I end up regarding the show as a whole. Don't fuck this up, people.