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Dated 24 May 2022: Summertime Render got more interesting when its POV character changed

Hizuru
Hizuru just does this sometimes.

Summertime Render (alternatively, Summer Time Rendering or other variations) is a two-cours adaptation of a 13-volume manga. Really, I only started watching it as an excuse to expand my collection of posts containing the Ghost Girlfriends tag, even though the ghost girlfriend in question seems to be stuck wearing a swimsuit forever in the afterlife.

Shinpei and Mio
I originally thought Mio was a lot younger.

I'm not a huge fan of Potato-kun, but he's at least not ruining the show for me. Nevertheless, I did get a lot more interested in the series once the point of view in the latest episode shifted to the mysterious lady who was initially notable mostly for her prominent breasts. I'm going to claim it's because her perspective provided clarity and focus to some of the mysteries presented during the previous five episodes, but I can't rule out the possibility it's actually because I like her birth control glasses and Hikasa Youko coolness.

Hizuru
"My glasses are up here."

So is Summertime Render actually a good anime? Sort of? Maybe for sufficiently flexible definitions of good? Reactions to the series seem somewhat divided, and I've seen some unfavorable comparisons to Higurashi (which itself is a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned), but the underlying secrets are somewhat interesting and I've been enjoying the series so far.

Ushio
I find it odd Ushio's funeral was so soon after her death.

The increased importance of Hizuru within the story should offer better insights as the characters navigate the island's mysteries. Ideally, the series will also henceforth minimize the frequency of animeisms that it has occasionally been indulging in to its detriment. (Translation: It would be better if there were fewer scenes of Potato-kun faceplanting into Hizuru's cleavage or grilling Mio about her panties.)

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.

Dated 7 December 2021: Neither Getsuyoubi no Tawawa 2 nor Ganbare Douki-chan need a blog entry, but they're getting one anyway

Maegami-chan
I know it's her (other) gimmick, but these are some fucked-up bangs.

Getsuyōbi no Tawawa 2 (Tawawa on Monday 2) is a follow-up to an Autumn 2016 adaption of Himura Kiseki's weekly illustrations that publish on the Twitter every Monday. There's continuity and regular characters whose lives intersect with otherwise unrelated story arcs. But really it's just an exercise in randy situation comedies involving enormous breasts. The anime episodes are short and faithfully follow the various stories, but it still looks weird to me without the blue-ink monochrome of the source material.

Douki-chan
Never gonna happen.

Ganbare Dōki-chan (You Can Do It Dōki-chan) is another anime short and was paired with the Tawawa sequel for its debut because the Douki-chan artist and the Getsuyōbi no Tawawa artist collaborate on occasion. Unlike the Tawawa illustrations, Douki-chan follows a single story arc. Its titular heroine is a lovesick office lady who lacks the confidence to express her feelings to the co-worker she admires. Complicating the effort are myriad assertive rivals who always seem to appear at inopportune moments. Both Getsuyōbi no Tawawa 2 and Ganbare Dōki-chan have already concluded their 12-episode runs because they started toward the end of the Summer 2021 anime season. As anime adaptations go, they were all right, but it's good their episodes were short. I don't think either would have worked with full-length episodes.

Dated 30 November 2021: Love Live! Superstar!! is the best Love Live! anime

Kanon
Despite appearances, Kanon is good at waking up in the morning.

Love Live! Superstar!! only had 12 episodes, but they spanned both the Summer 2021 and Autumn 2021 anime seasons in order to accommodate the Tokyo Olympics. It was also the best Love Live! anime of the franchise, for basically all the reasons SDS already covered at Ogiue Maniax. I presume others have also expressed the same view for similar reasons, and maybe I'd even know about them if anime blogging weren't dead.

Kanon and Kanon
This child is full of lies.

Notably, its lead, Shibuya Kanon, felt most like a genuine person among all the various characters of the Love Live! cinematic universe galaxy. I understand there are Honoka fans with a great deal of fondness for that character's development, but I've always regarded her as a casualty of a franchise that I find (as a whole) sort of off-putting in myriad minor ways that clearly don't bother real fans. Still, this is why I can't consider myself an actual Love Live! fan, and it's why I'm ambivalent about the show most of the time.

Kanon, Chisato, Sumire, Keke, and Ren
The all-singing, all-dancing 3DCG has come a long way.

However, Love Live! Superstar!! really got it right by keeping its cast of idols smaller than those of its predecessors. Devoting more time to them individually gave me, as a viewer, more opportunities to find reasons to care about them. True, Keke and Sumiere seem more like "wacky characters" than "actual characters." Likewise, Ren and Chisato seem more like capital-S, capital-C Supporting Characters to me than members of an ensemble cast.

Kanon
I still like Kanon best even though she has fucked-up hair.

In that sense, Kanon is the only True Character of the series, which I guess is why I regard Love Live! Superstar!! as being her show. Consequently, I guess she's also the titular superstar by default. I mean, she's not a superstar in the way that Sheryl Fuckin' Nome is a God damn superstar, but I've got no problem naming her as the overall Love Live! BEST GIRL. That she achieves this by tackling relatable problems and without the benefit (benefit?) of high-tension melodrama is a testament to what the franchise finally got right.

Dated 28 September 2021: I guess Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu is about how much Satoko hates school

Rena, Satoko, Rika, and Mion
I like how Yukarin occasionally breaks out Rika's adult voice and nobody seems to notice.

There's one episode remaining in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu (Higurashi: When They Cry - SOTSU), making the new anime that started last year with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou 39 episodes long. I still don't know how different the current anime is from all the previous iterations. I guess I could just look it up, but I suppose I am technically avoiding potential spoilers even though the likelihood I might go back and watch all the anime that came before is vanishingly small.

Satoko
Well, sometimes people notice.

On a related note, I am not sure it is even possible to examine Higurashi SOTSU without crashing straight into spoilers. Do the spoilers even matter? From my perspective, as someone who knew very little about the franchise before starting Higurashi GOU, it probably would have helped to have been spoiled on at least some of the major aspects of the series from the start. In my case, knowing the series would eventually concentrate almost entirely on Rika and Satoko while basically ignoring Keiichi and Rena would have provided valuable encouragement during the parts when I questioned why I was still watching Higurashi at all.

Rika and Satoko
This was a good punch.

Struggling to put up with Keiichi (initially, the show's apparent protagonist) and Rena was the reason I quickly dropped the first anime, and the reason why I nearly dropped Gou numerous times. Knowing the show would pivot its focus to two much more interesting characters definitely would have helped. Looking at this from a different perspective, what about the viewers who liked those Keiichi x Rena antics? Would they be disappointed to learn the series is actually about Rika and Satoko?

Satoko
She did the thing.

In any case, Higurashi SOTSU seems headed for a big finish now, which is itself an accomplishment of sorts considering how bewildered I was just a couple weeks ago how SOTSU might wrap anything up by the 15th episode. From the looks of it, Satoko will not compromise. It's quite a testament to the absurd lengths she will go to simply to avoid having to play the role of a phony bitch for a few years. It must have also occurred to her that she could keep her aversion to schoolwork by simply working out techniques for cheating her way though Fancy Cunts Academy. That she never did really is a testament to how hostile she was toward school in general and that school specifically as a matter of principle.

Dated 7 September 2021: Kanojo mo Kanojo is a great show because it is preposterous

Nagisa, Naoya, and Saki
It's a pragmatic solution. Don't just dismiss it out of hand.

Not having a whole lot else to watch from the Summer 2021 anime season, I decided to give Kanojo mo Kanojo (Girlfriend, Girlfriend) a try on a goof. It turns out it's sort of fantastic. I initially assumed it was going to another one of those dreary harem comedies with a loathsome male protagonist surrounded by multiple girls who are entirely out of his league and yet inexplicably attracted to him. Or that it was going to be on of those dreary harem comedies where Potato-kun is actually sort of an all right dude, but is inexplicably incapable of noticing that every girl he comes into contact with keeps throwing her panties at him. It turns out Kanojo mo Kanojo is neither of those things. Rather, it's got some manner of Möbius strip horseshoe theory thing going on where all the environmental factors and character decisions that should be working to the show's detriment end up making it better.

Naoya and Nagisa
Busted.

It's no accident Kanojo mo Kanojo is working out this way. The recurring focus of the show's various dilemmas is on an unending series of incorruptibly honest decisions to pursue uncompromising choices that should result in self-destructive consequences by any reasonable objective standard. And yet it all continues to work out. I can't vouch for the manga source material, but the anime embraces the absurdity of its premise and absolutely succeeds in its execution.

Naoya and Saki
Never gonna happen.

Significantly, there is no hint of melodrama. That is something Girlfriend, Girlfriend really cannot afford. If Kanojo mo Kanojo ever decides to examine the consequences and societal frictions associated with polyamorous relationships, or attempts to position the various love interests against each other from hostile postures of envy or jealousy, it will do so at its peril. There had also better not be any of that typical harem comedy bullshit where a series gets its viewers to root for one of the girls to "win." (If it does, the erstwhile winner will probably be First Girl Childhood Friend, even though she has nothing in her favor compared to her rivals except for her hair.)

Rika, Naoya, Nagisa, and Saki
Busted.

Even though I only started watching Girlfriend, Girlfriend a short while ago, it did not take long before I caught up. There are currently 10 episodes out so far and only two to go. Since the source manga still seems to be running (I think eight volumes are out), a non-ending ending to the anime is probably basically guaranteed. I don't know how far Kanojo mo Kanojo can take its premise without getting derailed, but I would be in favor of additional seasons if it can keep up the show's high-intensity, relentless pace episode after episode without running out of steam.

Dated 24 August 2021: My hopes for Fena: Pirate Princess (Kaizoku Oujo) sank

Fena
I can tell she's a pirate because of how she's dressed.

Fena: Pirate Princess (Kaizoku Oujo) is a Crunchyroll and Adult Swim co-production that did not begin until mid-August. It's a simulcast with the subtitled episodes releasing on the Crunchyroll while the English dub airs on Adult Swim. I don't know if this late start (relative to other Summer 2021 anime) is to align its schedule with the rest of the Adult Swim lineup, but it seems the Japanese broadcast will not begin until October.

Yukimaru
Ain't this guy, like, 16?

It's not a bad show, even though I'm dropping it after three episodes during a season when I'm already not watching nearly as much as I typically do. I wouldn't call it a good show, either, though. I genuinely can't tell if Fena: Pirate Princess actually does seem more like a Western cartoon instead of a Japanese anime, or if I'm just biased into feeling that way because I know it's a co-production between the Crunchyroll and Adult Swim. After all, I haven't even bothered to investigate who is working on the show. It's just an impression I can't shake.

Karin and Fena
These ninja pirates could use a better barber.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter if the reason why I'm less into Kaizoku Oujo is because it is "not anime enough" or some other reason, since I just don't find the show engaging enough to keep watching either way. I'm not at all invested in Fena, or the ninja pirates (ninja pirates!) she's hanging out with now, nor am I interested in the antagonists pursuing her, even though some of them clearly benefit from character-design-based plot armor. I guess I do like the ninja pirate voiced by Yuuki Aoi okay, but that's possibly only because of her fucked-up bangs.

Hanna
Hanna could probably benefit from a rear sight or two on that gun.

The show's tone is also unusually light, despite (mostly obscured) violence and bloodletting. I wouldn't call it tonal whiplash, because there haven't been any moments in the first three episodes that I would characterize as deeply dramatic. The bigger problem is the jokes and whimsy aren't working for me. Some of the visual gags might work in a full-on wacky ninja-pirate adventure show. In any case, I'm out, but it's probably still worth investigating for yourself to see if it's your sort of thing.

Dated 23 March 2021: Higurashi gets good after 74 episodes

Rena and Mion
It turns out I don't really like these two.

I need to caveat this post by acknowledging that I effectively don't know anything about the Higurashi franchise. I initially tried watching the first anime back in 2006, but dropped it after (I think) the first episode because I didn't find it interesting. It subsequently ran for 26 episodes, then 24 more in 2007. Somewhere in there we'll also find 11 assorted episodes that dropped at various times before Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou started in 2020.

Satoko
Satoko seems like a pleasant kid who probably has a stable home life.

I was aware of the franchise's popularity, and knew that Higurashi somehow fit into a much larger extended universe which included properties such as Umineko no Naku Koro ni. I basically don't know anything about these other titles either, though. Nevertheless, I decided to give the 2020 anime a chance because all these factors must mean it's got to have something going for it, right? Besides, it meant the return of Yukino Satsuki, and I love me some Yukino Satsuki. I'm also a fan of Nakahara Mai, so how bad could it be?

Rika
I guess this is not a "NIPAH" sort of moment.

Well, getting through the first 13 episodes of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou was a slog. I still have no idea how much it departed from the previous anime. I also don't know whether watching the previous anime is really required. Likewise, I don't know how necessary it is to have read the visual novels first either. Approaching the 2020 anime strictly as a neophyte anime-only viewer, I was teased something special on occasion, but lacked the proper context to fully appreciate those moments. On the other hand, the show regularly confronted me with my ever-increasing dislike for Keiichi, Rena, and Detective Ooishi.

Satoko
I'm pretty sure this qualifies as a huge spoiler.

Fortunately, episode 14 and all subsequent episodes focused on other characters. Suddenly, Keiichi was no longer the primary protagonist, and Higurashi is actually pretty good! I can't claim I really understand what's going on, but it's at least a lot more enjoyable and interesting to watch than everything I've seen prior. In fact, I'm even looking forward to the next cours which is slated to start in July 2021.

Featherine and Satoko
Maybe not as big as this shot.

Does it really take Higurashi 74 episodes to get good? Presumably not. But if the previous anime is anything like the present anime, then I feel comfortable about assuming it does not get good until Keiichi stops being its main character. If it turns out episodes were centered around him for the previous anime's entire run—and there isn't a departure until episode 14 of Gou—then, yeah, it doesn't get good until after 74 episodes.