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Dated 17 May 2022: Both Deaimon and SPY x FAMILY are about families

Nagomu and Itsuka
I can't tell if Itsuka is precocious or if Nagomu is just not every smart.

I get the feeling a lot of people on the Twitter avoided Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness because of overblown concerns the 10-year-old would grow up to marry the much older male lead. The manga is still ongoing, so I guess I can't rule out the possibility that this might happen, but I'm at least reasonably confident it hasn't happened (or else someone would have spoiled this by now). There are also other, much more likely love interests, namely Kanoko, Nagomu's girlfriend from the start of the series when he was still living in the city. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and claim straight out that this is a dumb thing to worry about and people should just watch the show.

Mitsuru and Nagomu
I'm not expecting him to fuck the high school girl either, okay.

Because, as it turns out, Deaimon is just sort of nice and well done all around. Through six episodes, it happens to be my highest-rated series of the Spring 2022 anime season (if you put any stock in my animetrics chart) despite not doing anything groundbreaking. Every episode has been consistently good, though, and I appreciate the yet-unresolved absurdity involving the girlfriend from the city. I'm more invested in that looming confrontation than the inevitable one involving poor Itsuka's shitty father. That's probably not the way I'm supposed to regard the main plot, but it is how it is.

Yor, Anya, and Loid
That's a nice floor.

As with Deaimon, SPY x FAMILY has also got that found-family thing going on, but y'all probably already know this because the series and the manga it's adapted from are both popular. Basically, if you're not watching SPY x FAMILY already, you probably should be. I won't claim it's an exceptional anime, but it does do all the things you'd want it to do, and it does them really well. I've read enough of the manga to feel confident both of the planned split cours of the anime will remain entertaining, even though I'm not looking forward to Yor's brother showing up.

Dated 10 May 2022: Paripi Koumei is not an idol anime, but I'm pairing it with Love Live! Nijigasaki anyway

Eiko and Kongming
It must be inconvenient carrying that thing around all the time.

I initially passed on Paripi Koumei (a contraction of Party People Koumei, but officially localized as Ya Boy Kongming!) because a show about Zhuge Liang (a Chinese strategist from the Three Kingdoms era) reincarnating in modern Japan and adapting his expertise for use within the music industry didn't really appeal to me. However, I kept hearing good things about it, and the OP is really catchy, so here we are.

Eiko
I enjoyed Eiko's bewilderment at her sudden spike in popularity.

It turns out the series really is good. It's also worth pointing out Paripi Koumei is much more about Eiko, a singer who Kongming decides to support, than I had realized before I started watching it. Or, at least it was for its first four episodes. The latest two have been about a rapper who Kongming pursues, and there are more characters from the OP who I still don't recognize, so I don't actually know if Eiko's role will remain as prominent.

Yuu and Kaoruko
Somehow, questions about their hair never come up, though.

Questions about who the series is going to focus on also appear in Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai 2. Besides the already sizable cast, the second cours of Nijigasaki adds new characters who, through six episodes already, haven't honestly appeared very much. From the looks of it, this season is probably going suffer from having too many characters to juggle, just as its first season did.

Setsuna
It's not as if she was stealing recipes from restaurants and fighting Pretty Cure.

I did enjoy the resolution of the whole Setsuna v. Nana secret identity thing, despite never genuinely believing this double life was truly necessary in the first place. Actually, maybe that was its appeal. The absurdity of it all amused me, as did the student body's baffling inability to penetrate her flimsy disguise. It's at least a contributing factor as to why Setsuna (and Nana) have rocketed towards the top of my Love Live! character rankings. (Meanwhile, fellow student council presidents Eli, Ren, and Dia are mired deep in the bottom half of the list.)

Lanzhu
I was expecting you to have done more stuff by now.

I'll probably still enjoy whatever Love Live! Nijigasaki decides to do going forward, but I expect it will be a far cry from Love Live! Superstar!! and its successes. Speaking of which, I hope adding those four new idols doesn't end up ruining the second cours of Superstar!! for me, but that's a whole 'nother topic.

Dated 19 April 2022: Aharen-san wa Hakarenai is off to a good start; Kono Healer, Mendokusai, not so much

Reina and Matsuboshi
Aharen-san is small.

Aharen-san wa Hakarenai (Aharen Is Indecipherable) is about Reina, a weird girl with KCY, and her classmate who is undaunted in his determination to be her friend despite constantly finding her perplexing. The anime works surprisingly well as a comedy that relies heavily on visual gags. Critically, the comic timing is deft, so the show is consistently funny. This is a harder thing to succeed at than I think many people appreciate, so I'm pleased it's doing so well.

Matsuboshi and Reina
And she does not adhere to conventional notions about personal space.

This is not to say that Aharen-san does not occasionally stumble. I'm not a huge fan of the girl who is constantly sort of hovering protectively around Reina. It's not a deal breaker, but her frequent anxiety attacks do less for the show than the other gags. However, even at its worst, Aharen Is Indecipherable has been much funnier than Kono Healer, Mendokusai (Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer!) which I wanted to like, but...man.

Karla
I was also expecting her voice to be deadpan.

Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer! (alternatively This Healer is Annoying or This Healer's a Handful) seemed like it could be funny, based on what little of the manga I had read. Unfortunately, it turns out the dread I felt ever since I watched its first PV was justified. It's one of "those" awful anime comedies that thinks drawing out reactions is funnier than it actually is. I dunno, maybe those types of jokes really work for some viewers, but I dropped it after watching one episode. I might revisit the manga, though.

Dated 11 January 2022: I started watching Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku because it's part of the 100-friends anime trilogy

Akebi
Akebi is very bendy.

Well, it didn't come up at all during the first episode, but the promotional material for Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi's Sailor Uniform) states Akebi wants to make 100 friends at her new school. This is the same goal Shouko expresses in Komi-san wa, Comyushou desu. (Komi Can't Communicate) (the best show from the Autumn 2021 anime season, incidentally). I didn't know anything else about the series before I started watching it (although I was spoiled about the twist), but it seems like it's going to be one of those shows where there's not a whole lot of drama. The first classmate she meets might actually be a nutjob, so I can't rule out the possibility the show is full of weirdos. That's just speculation on my part, though.

Yamada
A girl's gotta have goals.

Oh, if you haven't worked out yet what the third show in the 100-friends anime trilogy is, it's B Gata H Kei (Yamada's First Time). After graduating from middle school, Yamada sets a goal for herself to land 100 sex friends. I guess she doesn't technically express any interest in the friends part, but I'm going to include it. I'm going to include it because B Gata H Kei is an underrated masterpiece.

Dated 14 December 2021: SELECTION PROJECT is not as good as IDOLY PRIDE

Rena
I'm so disappointed you did not turn out to be a total cunt.

I would not still be watching SELECTION PROJECT if it did not share so many similarities with IDOLY PRIDE. (Spoilers throughout. Avert your eyes if you care.) Straight away, both shows feature troupes of newbie idols trying to make it big. Both shows have ALL CAPS titles. Both shows feature idols who die in a car accidents. Both shows feature idols who turn out to be the younger sisters of the dead idols. Both shows feature plot points about the sisters' complicated feelings of inferiority, guilt, and grief. Both shows feature idols who were transplant recipients of hearts donated from the dead idols. It's a whole thing. One notable difference: The dead idol from IDOLY PRIDE continues to hang around as a ghost, while the Hayamin-voiced idol from SELECTION PROJECT fucks off entirely after dying.

Shiori, Rena, and Suzune
The OP is easily the best part of SELECTION PROJECT.

The big difference between the two shows, though, is that IDOLY PRIDE is surprisingly good, while SELECTION PROJECT sort of sucks. It is just not a good series, mostly because it is neither upbeat enough to enjoy for wacky idol activities nor downbeat enough to take seriously. It has camp elements, but none of them are amusing. It probably should have pared down its cast by at least half instead of filling the series with a lot of entirely undeveloped placeholders. The idol from Hokkaido is the worst offender. The poor girl literally has no scenes that do not involve food in some way.

Suzune
Episode 11's epilogue ends on a mildly ominous note.

A smaller cast would have given SELECTION PROJECT more opportunities to develop the characters critical to its dramatic sequences. That it failed to do so stands in stark contrast to Love Live! Superstar!! which benefited significantly from its tighter-knit group. There is still one episode left in SELECTION PROJECT, so I suppose it might still manage to turn it around, but it seems almost certain SELECTION PROJECT will end up as just another uninspired, lackluster, below-average series that I'm not going to remember well later except for curiously sharing a lot of plot points with IDOLY PRIDE.

Dated 13 July 2021: The End of KoiKimo and HigeHiro ~Air/My Purest Love for JKs~

Ryo and Ichika
They're not flirting.

I started the Spring 2021 season with an entry covering both Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love or KoiKimo) and Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (I Shaved. Then I Brought a High School Girl Home. or HigeHiro), so I guess I should have a post wrapping them up as well. I found KoiKimo to be a better series, perhaps because of its straightforward story. It also helps that KoiKimo leaves Ichika in control of her fate. It is ultimately Ichika's decision whether her relationship with Ryo will advance or not.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

Sayu does not have this luxury in HigeHiro. Maybe it's disingenuous to claim HigeHiro is about Yoshida "looking for something attractive to save" (my apologies to Liz Phair), but replace Yoshida's name here with "the audience's surrogate," and maybe it's not far off the mark. KoiKimo and HigeHiro both ended up where I expected, but Sayu had much less say over the path she took to get there.

Ryo and Ichika
Making the end credits look more like the manga art was a nice touch.

In contrast, KoiKimo is an honest romance. There is no real mystery whether Ichika and Ryo will actually end up together or not, even though KoiKimo does introduce rival love interests for both leads. Moreover, the rivals are genuinely more sensible partners from every objective metric. However, the most obvioius impediment—the age gap between Ichika and Ryo—is never depicted as a meaningful obstacle. When it is finally viewed as a problem, its solution is entirely unsurprising.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

The solutions to the challenges presented in HigeHiro are also fairly obvious, but the series insists on pantomiming a number of unconvincing feints. They're unconvincing because Sayu basically has no flaws, and Yoshida clearly feels something for her. He never has a reason to turn her away, and Sayu's rivals for Yoshida's attention are dubious love interests who quickly end up supporting Sayu anyway.

Sayu
Relax, Sayu. Wonder Eggs are only 500 yen each.

In fact, Sayu's true adversaries are her lack of self-worth, her family's disinterest in her welfare, and the story's insistence at making Yoshida obtuse. Yoshida's behavior is baffling in HigeHiro, and not just because he denies being attracted to the sexually available high school girl living with him. Yoshida's behavior is baffling because he's willing to accept immediately on faith that Sayu would be better off returning to her home, without ever examining even the slightest bit the reasons why she ran away in the first place. It seems irresponsible to not at least contemplate the myriad awful situations that potentially compel teenagers to leave home and offer sex to strangers just to survive.

Sayu
HigeHiro showed Sayu orgasming on screen.

Of course, the real reason Yoshida never asks is because the story can't let him or the audience know before the narrative is ready. It turns out the unpleasant situation Sayu fled wasn't that bad, but that's the case only because HigeHiro insists on rehabilitating its antagonists immedately after introducing them. This sort of cowardice is a significant weakness of HigeHiro, as it makes its conflicts fairly hollow. The challenges presented in KoiKimo are not intractable either, but at least they don't take on a fraudulent quality.

Ichika
Ichika grew accustomed Ryo's nightly calls without realizing it.

KoiKimo succeeded by being forthright about its romance and committing to it unapologetically. In contrast, HigeHiro (like Yoshida himself) spends basically the entire series maintaining an unconvincing veneer of plausible deniability over whether or not Sayu is an actual love interest. At the risk of attracting accusations of being in favor of age-inappropriate pairings, I'm going to suggest HigeHiro does this to its detriment.

Sayu and Yoshida
They had to put him in a chair watching her sleep
so people wouldn't insist they still fucked.

I suppose I can't speak for its source material, but the anime most certainly portrays Sayu as an eligible partner. Does HigeHiro provide Sayu with agency by having her test Yoshida's resolve each time she propositions him? Or does the series undermine Sayu's agency by presenting these moments solely so Yoshida can continue to rebuff her and showcase his unflagging integrity? I'm not answering this rhetorical, but I think we all know.

Dated 20 April 2021: Koikimo is better than Higehiro even though both are missing the same thing

Ichika and Ryo
Stalker distancing.

News that the Spring 2021 anime season would feature TWO shows about adult men paired with high school girls created ripples across the Twitter, but even this mild outrage waned after viewers discovered neither show was as torrid as anticipated. Descriptions of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love, A.K.A. Koikimo) in particular concentrated on elements that ranged from misleading (characterizing its male lead as "a womanizer") to outright untruthful (e.g., calling him "sex-crazed...with a wandering eye for women"). At the risk of stereotyping too much, I suspect more attention should have been paid to the fact that the Koikimo manga is described as josei (i.e., for adult women) instead of seinen (i.e., for adult men who miss fucking teenage girls).

Sayu and Yoshida
I was too bothered by Sayu's lack of luggage to make a Fate/stay night joke.

Curiously, Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway) seemed to attract less pre-season attention than Koikimo, but perhaps its original novels and manga adaption were already known well enough to deflect unwarranted speculation that it was going to be a smutty romp. This, despite its synopsis outright stating that its characters meet when the titular teenage girl, Sayu, offers sex in exchange for a place to stay. Instead, Higehiro is about a man, Yoshida, who insists he is not attracted to the JK crashing at his place. The series begins with Yoshida being rejected by his long-term crush (his boss at work, no less) who claims she is already seeing someone. He is so devastated that he seemingly does not even notice she was CLEARLY LYING.

Gotou
Dude, you're staring.

Higehiro also draws attention to Yoshida's insistence that he is not a "nice guy" for letting Sayu live with him without strings attached (unlike everyone else she has stayed with during her previous six months as a runaway), but rather that the other men she has known are despicable people. Yoshida also repeatedly insists he is not attracted to Sayu because he only likes women with large breasts, but then the show promptly undercuts him by immediately alerting (and repeatedly reminding) the viewer that Sayu's boobs are also comfortably big.

Sayu
Higehiro even quantifies the comparison.

This is where I lose the ability to predict the path Higehiro will take. There is enough fan service and "male gaze" to the anime that we are obviously supposed to see Sayu as a legitimate love interest of Yoshida's, despite (or perhaps because of) his loud denials. But the show also retains the harem elements by keeping the CLEARLY LYING boss lady and deliberately slapdash co-worker near as potential romantic rivals. If I had to guess how this story ends, I would expect Yoshida's support to put Sayu on a path to success before re-uniting the two after a multi-year timeskip apart that has given Sayu time to become a self-sufficient adult with even bigger boobs than ever. Alternatively, we'll get a cop-out non-ending ending, potentially with all four of them living together for contrived reasons.

Ryo
You can tell he's sincere because of the sparkles.

While Higehiro is about a man who denies being attracted to the teenage girl living with him, Koikimo is about a man openly and aggressively wooing a high school girl 10 years his junior. At this point, I think it is necessary to acknowledge the tropes that govern this story's boundaries. Ryo and Ichika meet by chance and a suspension bridge moment sparks his sudden obsession with Ichika, who is coincidentally classmates with Ryo's kid sister, Rio. Fortunately for Ryo, his sister not only approves of his infatuation with her friend, but even volunteers as his wingman to provide opportunities for him to get closer with Ichika.

Ruri, Rio, Ichika, and Satsuki
Rio's anime bed is made of concrete.

Moreover, Ichika's own mother approves of Ryo's courtship, despite Ichika's clear displeasure. It is probably worth pointing out that Ryo has apparently never had to pursue a love interest before. He is not a pick-up artist chasing after fresh prey. Instead, girls and women have thrown themselves at him his entire life (Ichika's and Rio's classmates all unanimously agree Ryo is exceptionally handsome), so this is an entirely new experience for him.

Sayu and Yoshida
Dude, you're staring.

So what are Koikimo and Higehiro both missing? Lust. In the case of Koikimo, Ryo is clearly, genuinely smitten with Ichika, but he is arguably more drawn to her disinterest in him than he is to her physical appearance. Ichika is presented as being fairly unremarkable among her peers, and her own best friend describes her as "normal" (although at least one boy at her school has taken a liking to her). In the case of Higehiro, it takes three episodes of the show loudly signalling that Sayu is comely and sexually available before Yoshida finally admit he finds her attractive. However, his refusal to sleep with her is predicated on a critical, foundational cornerstone to the narrative's integrity, so I don't expect the story can too easily reverse this stance even if the audience comes to think he protests too much.

Ichika and Rio
She is upset because she is pleased.

After four episodes of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui and three episodes of Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou., I enjoy Koikimo more than Higehiro. Neither series is especially realistic (although I could believe Higehiro, despite the melodrama, were it not for the CLEARLY LYING Christmas-cake boss lady and the co-worker who deliberately fucks up her work for Yoshida's attention), but I find Koikimo more amusing. I can't rule out the possibility that I'm simply more enamored of Ichika's seemingly endless barrage of disgusted faces than I am with Sayu's "pretty big for a high school girl" bosom, though.

Dated 1 December 2020: Seiyuu are saving Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear and boosting Maou-jou de Oyasumi

Yuna
For real, scenes without Yuna drag.

Both Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear (The Bears Bear a Bare Kuma) and Maou-jou de Oyasumi (Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle) are all right shows, but I might not still be following them if it weren't for the voice talents of their leads. I've noticed with Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear that my interest in the show basically evaporates whenever Yuna (the girl in the bear suit) is not the focus of a scene. I mean, the anime is fine, but not very compelling. And a significant part of Yuna's appeal is the sort of casual way Kawase Maki voices her lines. I don't think I would still be on board had Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear cast a stereotypical, squeaky anime voice instead.

Syalis
That's bad for your neck.

I was fully expecting Maoujou de Oyasumi to run out of steam by now, but it's still finding new ways to be amusing. Contributing significantly to my enjoyment is Minase Inori doing a very Minase Inori voice as the princess. For whatever reason, I don't think I'm as good as I used to be at identifying seiyuu. For example, I didn't even realize for the longest time that Kyouko from Kamisama ni Natta hi (The Day I Became a God) shared the same voice actress as Violet Evergarden. However, Minase Inori in Sleepy Princess is super obvious and fits really well.