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Dated 5 August 2013: Love Lab and Genshiken Nidaime are both about getting it on with boys

Enomoto and Maki
I heard Love Line started out basically the same way.

Love Lab is about a student council at a girls' school that secretly dedicates itself on the side to the art of pursuing boys. Genshiken Nidaime harks the return of a college circle dedicated to the artistic pursuits of anime, manga, and video games. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the first anime adaptation of the Genshiken manga when it aired in 2004, I did not say much about it at the time. Since then, the series spawned a number of OVA and a second television season, making Genshiken Nidaime the third or fourth season rather than the second part, depending on how you count it. (A quirk the anime itself acknowledges.) Love Lab is newer on the scene; it's the first anime adaptation of an ongoing manga (Renai Lab) that has run since 2006.

Riko
It does not appear as if Riko was prepared for this..

I'm finding Love Lab tough to sell, but easy to enjoy. This is mostly because the series doesn't sound like much from its description, but the execution is excellent. The jokes are funny and the characters are likable. One aspect I haven't quite gotten my head around is casting Numakura Manami as Riko. I associate her voice so much with her character Hibiki from iDOLM@STER that it's hard to accept her as anyone else. The best solution, obviously, would be to re-work Riko's character design to actually look like Hibiki so I could pretend Numakura Manami is voicing Ganaha Hibiki the 765PRO idol in a starring role portraying Riko in a production of a Love Lab television show broadcast within the iDOLM@STER universe. (I'm only partly kidding.)

Madarame
Drinking alone.

Speaking of seiyuu, Genshiken Nidaime replaced basically every voice actor from the previous anime adaptations. I could sort of understand if the intent was to replace them with brand new talent, but as that doesn't appear to be the case at all, I find the change rather perplexing. It's also quite jarring to hear completely different voices from what I'm accustomed to, even though it's been a few years since I last watched any Genshiken. In particular, replacing Kawasumi Ayako with Yukana has been quite difficult to accept even though I like Yukana quite a bit. Madarame's new deeper voice also takes some getting used to.

Hato
Hato not in drag.

Some fans of the original Genshiken anime expressed disappointment with Nidaime because the Genshiken club itself has changed. Previously a boys' club of openly geeky males, it has transformed over the years to one dominated by fujoshi members and their pursuit of male-on-male erotica while the alumni and their interests are presented as more incidental to to the main plot. Naturally, this is because the old members are no longer students, thus no longer part of the club, and likewise occupied by other "grown-up" interests as their original fervor wanes.

Hato
It's a boy dressed as a girl pretending to be a boy.

Nevertheless, Genshiken Nidaime appears to be just as much about personal growth and acceptance as it has always been. The first season focused on Sasahara as he grew more comfortable with embracing his otaku side, and on Saki as she discovered she could still love one otaku in particular (Kousaka) while still loathing otaku in general. Later, Genshiken focused on Ogiue as she came to came to grips with her identity and the parts of her life that previously mortified her. Although I have not read ahead in the manga, it appears Genshiken Nidaime will focus on the cross-dressing Hato as he deals with the challenges of being a straight male (allegedly) who masturbates to yaoi (i.e., 2D gay porn).

Madarame
Being a grown-up is hard.

Notably, it appears this season will also spotlight Madarame. This former club president (now three terms removed from the current head, Ogiue), was previously depicted as the savvy, veteran otaku who was completely comfortable with being who he was. However, he clearly still carries a torch for the Genshiken Best Girl, Saki (previously Yukino Satsuki, now sorely missed despite Satou Rina's talents), and he refuses to publicly acknowledge this most heinous of perversions: Attraction to a three-dimensional woman. In this regard, perhaps Madarame has the most growing up to do.

Maki
Good luck, Maki's future boyfriend.

Through five episodes, Love Lab is better than Genshiken Nidaime, but I suspect that the latter will be better remembered years later if both shows continue to progress as they have. I suspect Genshiken resonates more with aging male anime fans, even though this season is mostly comprised of female characters. Incidentally, if you know anything about Genshiken, you should already know Ogiue Maniax is its leading resource 'round these parts.

Dated 12 May 2012: Eliminated from the Aniblog Tourney

Aniblog Tourney results
(I think I received the majority of the last 250 votes though.)

I've been eliminated from this year's Aniblog Tourney. Although the contest was not as lopsided as my first Aniblog Tourney loss, a contributing factor to both defeats was likely my staunch refusal to self-promote for it or for the blog in general. I have been updating this blog alone since approximately 1999. I have never included any advertising (except for the compulsory Geocities ones before I started paying for hosting. And despite moving the blog to WordPress in 2006, I've never enabled comments, an omission that perplexes some readers. As Ani-nouto can attest, some readers find blogs with disabled comments hostile and anti-social. However, I've nearly always posted contact information, and there's even a Twitter button available. Nobody ever uses the Twitter button, but I do get viewer mail on occasion.

The most recent letter comes from from Doomguin who writes:

I don't know if you've seen [Princess Princess] or heard of it or not, but the show is by Studio Deen, and it's about a boy, Toru Kouno, transfers to an all-boys high school, and after some odd treatment, is convinced to become one of the school's, now three, "Princesses". It turns out that because it is an all-boys school, it has become a tradition to select the students who are bishonen, and have them dress up a girls to keep the female-starved student body's morale up.

It has all the makings of a BL, but isn't and has a lot of fun with that fact. I recommend it if you have not seen it before, and I think it also falls into that little niche of shows that people don't generally think of (or have heard of, for that matter), and didn't get a lot of attention, but still good and enjoyable.

I have, in fact, heard of Princess Princess, but despite Doomguin's recommendation, I don't think I'll be watching it. Miracle Train aside, it doesn't sound like the sort of show I usually watch.

[Update: Yes, I'm messing with the CSS. Yes, it looks like ass. Yes, I'll probably lose interest before actually fixing anything, leaving the entire site in a terrible state, just as I've all but abandoned efforts to integrate the pre-2006 reviews on the left column into the WordPress categories on the right. No, I can't believe people still maximize browsers in this day and age. No, I haven't tested this at all in any version of Internet Explorer.]

Dated 13 May 2010: Ookiku Furikabutte has more crying than Uchuu no Stellvia

Mihashi
Are you crying? There's no crying in baseball!

I tried to marathon the first Ookiku Furikabutte (A.K.A. Big Windup!) so I could start following the currently airing second season, but this show is unwatchable. This is not to say that Ookiku Furikabutte is a bad show, it's just annoying as all Hell. I can see how a lot of people might really enjoy Big Windup! and recommend it enthusiastically, but these are people with much higher tolerances for crying in their anime than me.

Abe and Mihashi
I call Mihashi "Chicken Face" because I can never remember his name.
Also he won't stop making this stupid beak-mouth expression.

I managed to finish the first nine episodes, and I think on average there must be four or five unrelated crying scenes in each episode. These boys cry over everything. Usually it's Chicken Face...err, Mihashi, that cries, because he cries all the time. Presumably it's to show character development and maybe by the end of the season he (hopefully) develops a spine and some sand, but I'll be Haruhi damned if you think I'm going to stick around to find out. Sack up, guys.

Abe and Mihashi
If catchers had aprons this pitcher would be clinging to one.

I'm okay with the latent homosexual content. (There is A LOT of latent homosexual content. [SPOILERS] This is basically Boys Love without the bishies.) I did watch Miracle Train, after all, and the husband/wife relationship between the pitcher and the catcher is played up quite often during baseball-themed shows (including Major and Taisho Yakyuu Musume, among others). That is to be expected. However, I am not okay with Chicken Face's paralyzing anxieties and complete lack of self-confidence. (By the way, it turns out Miracle Train isn't really gay at all.)

Abe
For a guy in the process of learning his new boyfriend is
a timid little girl, Abe is taking this rather well.

Ookiku Furikabutte is not all bad, though. For example, all the parts with Abe calling a smart game accurately reflect the thought processes that separate pitching from throwing. Thankfully, unlike One Outs, Big Windup! accomplishes this without pretending commonplace baseball strategies and tricks are shocking and amazing, even though they might seem so to neophyte spectators. If Ookiku Furikabutte cut the lousy drama queens or at least traded them for some "players to be named later," it could field a pretty decent baseball anime with the rest of the team, alas.