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Dated 11 February 2019: I'm still watching Sword Art Online: Alicization

Cardinal, Kirito, and Eugeo
A mid-fight flashback so Cardinal can explain Eugeo's attack.

Claims that the Alicization arc of Sword Art Online is the "good one" may have been exaggerated. It's different enough from the previous SAO arc that it at least seems to be the result of writing styles and priorities changing, but whether it's necessarily better is debatable. From an SAO-tolerant non-fan's perspective, its biggest problem to me is that it's not very engaging. I'm basically only watching the show now out of general principle, and not because I care about the outcomes or the characters.

Asuna
Fuck your deban, Asuna.

Frankly, the show sort of drags. That's probably my biggest problem with it. I suppose other viewers might argue that the sexual assaults are a much bigger problem, but those aren't unique to Sword Art Online: Alicization. They're about par for the course when you consider the previous times the subject has appeared in the franchise. (For what it's worth, Kawahara claims he's moving beyond this sort of thing henceforth, but I presume that won't impact future episodes of Alicization, which I believe is based on already completed light novels.)

Alice and Kirito
This ledge keeps changing size.

Alicization strikes me as a series that contains too many elements that might work as text, but bogs down the viewing experience in anime form. Not having read the books, I can't authoritatively claim that's really the case, but it at least seems all the explanations and details that constantly interrupt the anime's narrative must originate from the light novels. I'm starting to see indications there may be a break before Alicization's final two cours. I can't see that being good for the show's pacing, but I guess I'll find out once that third cours starts, whenever that is.

Dated 28 January 2019: Egao no Daika teaches a 12-year-old girl that smilewar is all Hell

Yuuki
This queen's bed looks smaller than queen-sized.

Egao no Daika (The Price of Smiles) caught my attention because it is an original anime featuring mecha. But then the initial responses to the first episode suggested it was more about a silly country's 12-year-old monarch trying her best with the assistance of her loyal childhood friend, Potato-kun. Based on those reports alone, I wrote the show off. But then I heard about what happens in episode two and decided to give it a try out of curiosity. Yeah, I am totally on board. Yes, the show still stars a naïve awkward-age girl, but it's actually about a war that Smilestan's Deep State kept hidden from her. Moreover, it's clear from the OP and the ED that Egao no Daika also stars a soldier fighting for the opposing side. Indeed, Ittōheisō Shining has had a more prominent role in the show through its first four episodes than Queen Princess Yuuki.

Stella
I like Hayami Saori in this role, but I'd rather have Dark Mamiko.

Thankfully, Egao no Daika is also not one of those shows where Potato-kun spends half the series wiping out enemy mecha on easy mode before suddenly realizing people die when they are killed. I can at least guarantee this is not going to happen in The Price of Smiles. Rather, soldiers in this show display no hesitation killing their opponents even when they can see the whites of their eyes. There is still some question as to how Yuuki is going to react to the war now that she's getting a crash course in reality. It's more likely than not that she'll continue to oppose it, but other possibilities remain on the table since this is an original anime. Personally, I'm hoping for at least two cours of gripping war melodrama, but we're probably only going to get the 12 episodes scheduled thus far, alas.

Dated 12 November 2018: I've started watching the most popular anime in the world: Goblin Slayer!

Elf and Priestess
This is the highlight of Goblin Slayer! thus far.

I watched the first episode of Goblin Slayer! when it first aired, found it to be a straightforward adaptation of the manga (it was toned down a bit, honestly), and decided not to watch more. After all, I had only read about a volume or so of the manga before losing interest. (I've never read any of the original light novel.) Somewhat predictably, that episode's content generated a lot of discussion on the Information Superhighway about Goblin Slayer! and its relative merits (or lack thereof). The reactions I saw on the Twitter, at least, were almost uniformly negative.

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Dated 6 August 2018: This is Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight

Hikari
This was a blatant effort to encourage anime tourism.

I starting watching Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight thinking it was going to be an idol anime that would contrast nicely when watched back-to-back with Ongaku Shoujo. Yeah, that turned out to be wrong. It's not an "idol anime" at all, or at least it's less so an idol anime than it is a "wack ass giraffe fight club" anime, as I've seen it characterized on the IRC. To tell you the truth, I'm not entirely sure what to call it.

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Dated 23 July 2018: I'm calling my shot: Mutsuko in Major 2nd will turn out to be a five-tool player

Hikaru, Mutsuko, Daigo, and Urabe
Daigo is short.

The second cours of Major 2nd has expanded the story to give more depth to the supporting characters following the first cours' focus on Daigo (Goro's son) and Hikaru (Toshiya's son). As viewers familiar with the original Major might expect, this includes making initially hostile teammates more receptive to the new kids now that they're proving themselves on the field. This does mean revisiting themes about putting expectations on the children of superstars, but it also includes said children showing up kids who didn't know who they up against.

Tashiro and Komori
Damn, these two got old.

Major 2nd does give a lot of attention to its new characters' heritage and there are frequent appearances by characters from the original series. For example, three of the current coaches we've seen thus far have played baseball with Goro. (Okay, four, technically.) Although this is not to say that Major 2nd is dominated necessarily by characters with direct ties to the original Major. Most of the players we've seen so far don't appear to have any connection to characters from the first series.

Mutusko
It's Major. Maybe her parents will die.

Notably, Sakura Mutsuko, Daigo's classmate and the only girl on the Dolphins, is turning out to be an exceptional player in her own right. Initially just someone who sort of tagged along, there have always been hints that she's much better at baseball than anyone realized. Now that she's actually applying herself, it's obvious that she can effortlessly hit for contact, and apparently she's fast on the basepaths, too (legging out a triple on her first base hit). Really, it's just a matter of time before we see her taking people deep, making ridiculous catches in right field, and gunning down opponents who dared to round third. It's an odd thing to speculate about considering how much of the manga is probably already out, but I rather prefer not knowing how things develop for Mutsuko for the time being.

Dated 21 December 2015: Shomin Sample needs more Hara Yumi

Aika
Aika reminds me too much of Chiwa from Oreshura.

I would not have watched Ore ga Ojou-sama Gakkou ni "Shomin Sample" Toshite Gets♥Sareta Ken (Shomin Sample: I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner) except for the fact that Hara Yumi (the voice of Takane in THE iDOLM@STER and Yuuko in Tasogare Otome x Amnesia) is in it and somebody (whose trustworthiness is now shot) insisted the manga is funny. As it turns out, Hara Yumi is barely in it at all, and the anime—regardless of how the manga or light novel might be—is not funny. At best, I can merely say that it could have been a lot worse.

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Dated 5 November 2015: I'm not sure if Saekano succeeds because of its source material or in spite of it

Megumi
Nice hat.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend) is an anime adaptation of an ongoing series of light novels about a group of high school kids developing a visual novel game for Comiket. It's a harem comedy and relies heavily on tropes and common character archetypes. Tomoya is an unapologetic otaku clad in birth-control glasses. His tsundere childhood friend is hopelessly in love with him, but naturally he's completely oblivious. Since she is in a harem comedy, Eriri has plenty of competition from more aerodynamic rivals who offer Potato-kun the green light early and often. Really, the only reason the "YES" embroidery on his bedroom pillow isn't completely worn down is due to the preservative powers of the Otaku Virtues. The damn shit's better than Woolite.

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Dated 2 December 2014: "It's not easy being a genius" and other lies told in April

Kousei and Kaori
Ah! Ghost glasses!

Despite having no sympathy for its lead, a pathetic middle school boy with deep-seated emotional problems, I find Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) exceptional thus far. It's a two-cour adaptation of an award-winning manga that's already ended, so I'm optimistic the anime will have a real conclusion after a solid run instead of meandering aimlessly before trailing off like I might expect from some crappy harem comedy. (Read: A one-cour advertisement for some sorry light novel series.) Nevertheless, Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso does teeter on the brink every episode, mostly because the lead character is an incredibly vulnerable boy and practically every other character in the show (men, women, boys, and girls) is obsessed with him. It technically is a harem comedy if you think about it, so letting a schmuck (albeit a talented one) drive the story turns the entire vehicle into a train wreck waiting to happen if A-1 Pictures should falter even a little bit.

Tsubaki
Williams Rotation.

In a way, this is appropriate for a show about musical prodigies. The episodes and the characters are excellent when they are on their games, but even a single minor mistake could cascade into catastrophe. Thankfully, A-1 Pictures has been spot-on so far, serving up beautiful visuals and captivating music during the performances. The supporting characters are also charismatic, even the childhood friend who unfortunately turns into a Childhood Friend. Even the erstwhile womanizing ladies' man who has displayed no actual evidence of such proclivities and appears to be hiding a sensitive side. Hell, I'm even interested in the mopey shell-shocked lead's wheelchair-bound Tiger Mom's specter, albeit to a much lesser extent than, say, the blond dervish (who is probably secretly dying despite her vivacious, constantly churning limbs), or the stiletto in a red dress. Especially the stiletto in a red dress.