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Dated 22 May 2017: Only one character remains on the Saekano balance beam

Megumi
The face of a Best Girl trapped in a harem comedy with a loathsome protagonist.

Despite some very questionable components, I liked the first season of Saekano a decent amount. Unfortunately, its Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata♭ sequel (How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend Flat) isn't working for me. All of the problems I have with the show were present during the first season, but either the execution was better or I was simply more willing to accept its shortcomings, something I acknowledged when I blogged about it. Ultimately, it's Potato-kun being a shitbag and the show's proselytization of the Otaku Virtues that kill my enthusiasm for Saekano Flat. These are the sort of bits that can sort of work from a meta perspective when lightly used, but the heavier a show relies on these tropes, the less meta it feels and the more bona fide it becomes. And then you just end up with regular ol' tsundere bullshit and a harem comedy gravity well which pulls inversely proportional to its hold on reality.

Utaha
I bet those boxes are empty.

What I'm left with is loathing for Potato-kun and open disdain for every other character on the show with the sole exception of Megumi, who has rocketed so far ahead in the show's Best Girl standings that she can almost assuredly boat race the rest of the competition from here on out. And this is nearly entirely a consequence of her (thus far, through six episodes and one pool-romp prologue) refusal to go along with Tomoya's high-intensity idiocy. That said, I'm still not quite as hostile to the show as these couple of paragraphs might suggest, so it's not as if I intend to drop it. I'm just disappointed Saekano Flat keeps tumbling into avoidable pitfalls. The show is unworthy of its animation and its Misaki Kurehito superlovely character designs. I guess it does deserve the glare of displeased long-hair Megumi, though.

Dated 29 September 2015: Chaos Dragon would have been better as a documentary

Ulrica and Meryl
I don't know why Ulrica has wings on her boobs,
but they're probably for generating downforce.

I'm tempted to describe Chaos Dragon as the broth of too many cooks, but I'm not quite optimistic enough to believe that. More likely it's just your regular ol' half-assed train wreck. As I understand it (and certainly do not rely on my impressions as the truth, garnered as they were from the rumor and conjecture of various secondary sources), Chaos Dragon is an anime adaptation of a real-world Red Dragon role-playing game campaigned by esteemed writers and directors including Nasu Kinoko (Fate/stay night), Narita Ryohgo (Durarara!!!), and Urobuchi Gen (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika). The actual anime itself is incoherent and frankly terrible in wholly unremarkable ways. I have no interest in the lead character, Ibuki, and never agreed there was a good reason to make this kid king. I also didn't care about that nonsense about the Red Dragon's powers, or killing suicidal friends, and definitely not the bewildering responses to news about his sister.

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Dated 7 January 2014: 2013 Girl of the Year

Hajime
As always, no wagering.

I started these Girl of the Year awards in 2009 mostly as a goof. Then I kept doing doing it every year and now I can't stop. Can I still pass judgment in a fair and balanced manner even though I watched relatively few shows in 2013? What if I refuse to accept nominations for girls from shows I haven't seen? Not to worry. This contest has always been rigged. Actually, it's not so much a competition as it is an exhibition.

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Dated 2 January 2014: Autumn 2013 season summary

Regina and Cure Ace
Go on, Ace. Slap the shit out of her.

I only watched five shows from the autumn 2013 anime season. It really should have been six, but subs for Detective Conan lagged again.

Autumn 2013: KILL la KILL (1-12) > Golden Time (1-12) > DokiDoki! Precure (35-46) > Kakumeiki Valvave [13-24] > IS Infinite Stratos 2 [1-12, OVA2]. Dropped: None.

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Dated 23 September 2012: Sailor Moon R is kinda terrible

Usagi
Even Usagi needs to get loaded just to make it through an episode.

In anticipation of the new Sailor Moon series slated for 2013, I've been grinding through my backlog of unwatched episodes. That is, every single episode following the first season's 46-episode run. I was warned about the early episodes of Sailor Moon R, but the rest don't seem very good either. Perhaps I don't have the right mindset, but the relentless shrieking and wailing aren't especially endearing. And then they introduced Chibi-Usa. Sigh.

Ami, Minako, and Rei
The Sailor Senshi find themselves in another fine mess.

I'd be more willing to put up with this if the fights were better, but every battle seems to include the exact same canned attacks and the same last minute rescue by an oddly familiar mysterious masked man. I still have well over a hundred episodes to go, but I'd be more enthusiastic about them if I knew they would be more like the Codename: Sailor V manga which is basically about a vigilante working above the law to kick deadbeats in the neck. It's okay; they have it coming. Man, I need to re-watch First Precure again. Cure Ikaruga don't play.

Dated 29 June 2012: The End of Tasogare Otome x Amnesia ~Air/My Purest Love for Hime Cuts~

Yuuko
An unoccupied classroom, eh?

I can't think of a way to address the end of Tasogare Otome x Amnesia without revealing fairly important spoilers, but I'll try to minimize the damage. Anyone paying attention likely already knows the ending suffers from a serious flaw, though.

Light Yuuko, Yuuko, and Dark Yuuko
I sure hope you figured this part out by yourself.

As you might expect, the anime's ending stumbled because the original manga is still ongoing. This gave the Tasogare Otome x Amnesia anime basically three choices: (1) A non-ending ending, which seems to be the most common cop-out, (2) an original ending after diverging from the manga (Full Moon wo Sagashite did this with amazing success), or (3) a real ending that the original (but still ongoing) manga later attempts to follow or improve upon, as in the case of the Neon Genesis Evangelion manga.

Yuuko and Teiichi
Yuuko is not subtle.

Well, the Tasogare Otome x Amnesia anime took the first choice...sort of, but did it in a way that is both better and worse than the typical non-ending ending: It has an original, option-two-type ending which is actually pretty good, but then at the last minute it turns into a non-ending ending, betraying any emotional investment or payoff it might have achieved had it just wrapped things up there. I'm not sure if Silver Link simply chickened out, or if they have hopes for a second season.

Yuuko
Yuuko is not subtle.

I just said the almost ending is "actually pretty good," but it has a few problems too. Yuuko and Teiichi obviously won't get a happy ending together; Yuuko is dead, after all. But no matter how successful Tasogare Otome x Amnesia may have portrayed the romance, it's still difficult to forget that Teiichi is only a first-year middle school kid. He's just not old enough to be making such bold pronouncements about love and still be taken seriously. This is one place where a timeskip would have been appropriate before the bittersweet ending it tried to achieve. Either way, the anime should have left it alone instead of forcing an opening for a possible sequel. It's a stunning lack of commitment to a conclusion that invoked commitment as a major theme.

Dated 19 April 2011: Winter 2011 season summary

Mami
The real antagonists in Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica are trolls, not witches.

Despite my disdain for SHAFTXSHINBO, Mahou Shojo Madoka Magica (at least what I've seen of it so far, as the remaining episodes were pre-empted due to the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami—they're expected to air in a few days) is really good. [Update: The final two episodes did have some surprises. The rating remains unchanged.] Whether it's good in spite of SHAFTXSHINBO because of Kajiura Yuki and Urobuchi Gen isn't so much important as the fact that they took something which I had fully expected to be unconventional, made it so, and still managed to impress. Although I did not enjoy Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica nearly as much as its true fans did, it was still easily the best show I watched from winter 2011, admittedly not a very difficult feat when the runner up probably only placed as high as it did thanks to the Hanakana Distortion Field.

Ichika and Charles
Infinite Stratos needed more Full Frontal Bageena Char.

Infinite Stratos was by no stretch of the imagination a good show, but it was fun to watch. Curiously, it's often the male protagonist that makes or breaks harem comedies, not the bevy of girls themselves. Thankfully, Infinite Stratos does well on both fronts. Potato-kun is mostly unobjectionable, with neither an overpoweringly "strong sense of justice" nor a timid adversion to girls, the two most common flaws of the typical harem comedy putz.

Charles and Ichika
There ain't no way Ichika owns that many books.

Unfortunately, not having those two flaws means Potato-kun needs some other character flaw to be the excuse why he doesn't trophy fuck love all the girls during the course of the show. In Ichika's case, he's a moron. It works out, though, because nearly every girl in his harem is also a moron. This is probably why Charles is so popular, as she's the only girl in the harem who is neither dumb nor crazy. Okay, she did pretend to be a very unconvincing boy for a while, but she gave that up after a few episodes, and the only reason other people bought that act is because the entire school is filled with complete idiots.

Ichika and Charles
What's that fishy odor?

Anyway, Infinite Stratos was an amusing, harmless diversion and was pretty fun until it decided it needed a plot towards the end. Instead of the Final Battle against MacGuffin, they should have devoted the last three episodes to a footrace or an extended game of tag.

Ume
This is the best reaction shot of the entire series. [P.S. Spoilers.]

Kimi ni Todoke really took a dive with 2nd Season in my view and dipped below the Detective Conan Line during the middle episodes because it upset the precarious balance of misunderstandings and heartfulness. Basically the entire season dragged out due to terribly painful communication problems. It made me wish the show was about Ume instead, or maybe Yano falling in love with Pin. (It's not a spoiler, okay? It's right there in the OP!) Thankfully, Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season pulled itself together during the final three episodes. Pity the entire season couldn't be that good. Had it been, then Kimi ni Todoke Second Season would have been as good as, well, Kimi ni Todoke First Season.

Ai Yori Aoshi volumes 17 and 16
Ai Yori Aoshi volumes 17 and 16.

Somewhat unexpectedly, finishing Kimi ni Todoke S2 makes me wish for a third season of Ai Yori Aoshi—one that follows the manga instead of jumping all over Creation. The final volumes of Ai Yori Aoshi really deserve a lot better than the lackluster impression the two inconsistent anime seasons left behind. They may have to animate Aoi's bra in the series climax with CGI, though. (Ha ha. "Climax.")

Enri
Take Fractale easy.

Viewers seem fairly divided on Fractale, particularly with regard to its ending. Much as I postulated when describing my early impressions of the show, the way I see it, there are two camps: Those that care about its pedigree and subsequently chose to watch Fractale critically, and those who just wanted to enjoy themselves because anime is still a hobby. That latter group likely enjoyed Nessa's turbo-genki moments quite a lot more, and even if there might be a Hanakana Distortion Field at work, they presumably enjoyed the show more as a whole.

Phryne and Nessa
How did they end up in the ending to Heartcatch Precure!?

This is not to say Fractale doesn't suffer from a host of problems. Personally, I felt all of the fighting and battle scenes were comically bad, and a lot of things (especially towards the end) didn't make any sense. I was also somewhat crestfallen to learn Phryne wasn't just acting stupid—she really was an idiot. It's because of these problems that I don't rank Fractale higher among the winter 2011 shows. Nevertheless, it was still pretty good overall, and including an audio cameo by Nausicaä herself towards the end to bookend the visual references from earlier in the season was pretty nice, even if I totally missed it.

Ran
If you advance this scene frame by frame you can catch
the exact moment Ran's heart breaks. [P.S. Spoilers.]

Detective Conan is Detective Conan. As I mentioned before, Detective Conan is basically my control group when it comes to ranking shows. Each season of Detective Conan is about the same and typically as good as any of its myriad previous seasons. This remained true during winter 2011, although I would like to point out the "Tear Drops" OP totally messes with the heads of Shinichi + Ran 'shippers.

Kumojacky and Cure Marine
IN THE FACE!

The end of Heartcatch Precure! was all right, even though Cure Blossom remained mostly useless. Probably the highlight for me was Cure Marine suckerpunching Kumojacky in the face on general principle before he could launch into an idiomatic, vaguely evil speech.

Cure Rhythm
More punching, less baking.

Suite Precure is decent, but nothing really special unless you care about voice actresses. Koshimizu Ami, Orikasa Fumiko, Toyoguchi Megumi, and Mitsuishi Kotono are all on board. In fact, I should probably check Danbooru for what I'm sure must be copious amounts of seiyuu_joke parody/crossover fan art.


I dropped Freezing not because it was exploitative, but because it was kinda retarded. I can't wait for the second season of Seikon no Qwaser, though. (No, seriously.)

I was intriqed by Ri♡ -Rainbow Gate!- because it was Highlander with card battles, but I think I lost interest after two episodes beause Rio's hair sucks.

Yumekui Merry didn't suck, but I dropped it after the first episode because I wasn't interested. I heard it gets better later, but I still suspect Merry might actually be a boy.

Sister Layer
Cosprayers Line.

I dropped Wolverine after a single episode because it was God awful. Congratulations, Wolverine, you are easily WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS. All you need to know about the show is that in the first episode, a group of people flying around with jetpacks bent on attacking Wolverine with rifles decide to all fly close enough for him to gut them with his claws. Then later on Wolverine breaks one of Sir Isaac Newton's Laws of Motion. Look, I'm okay with his indestructible skeleton and canonical ability to regenerate from a single remaining drop of blood, but c'mon.

Final tally: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica > IS: Infinite Stratos > Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season > Fractale > Detective Conan > Heartcatch Precure! > Suite Precure | Dropped: Freezing > Ri♡ -Rainbow Gate!- > Yumekui Merry | WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS: Wolverine.

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.