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Dated 7 May 2018: There's more to Golden Kamuy than 3DCG bears

Asirpa and Sugimoto
At least the smaller animals are 2D, even when they're delicious.

Golden Kamuy was one of the Spring 2018 shows I was looking forward to the most. It stumbled a bit out the gate when the first episode's infamously out-of-place looking 3DCG animals dominated most of the show's initial discussion. That this got the most attention is a bit of a shame, because Golden Kamuy has a lot going for it. Notably, the manga is good enough that a few misses in the anime adaptation are not going to be enough to ruin it. I didn't watch the all-3DCG Berserk, but the problems facing Golden Kamuy here are by no means as severe. It's not as if the entire show is 3DCG—just the larger animals when they appear.

Asirpa
Golden Kamuy is also about Asirpa looking displeased.

Seeing as how the show isn't actually about bears, 3DCG or otherwise, it's pretty good most of the time. Well, that's assuming you have an appetite for the horrors of war, collecting the skins of dead convicts, brutal violence, Japanese history, Ainu cultural lessons, and delicious meals made with freshly killed game. I suppose I'm not fully prepared to resist arguments that anyone interested should just read the manga instead, but I do believe the anime adds bits worth appreciating separately. I suggest watching the anime first before turning to the start of the manga. The way I see it, the anime will inevitably finish far short of the still ongoing manga's current position, and you'll probably want to read it anyway.

Dated 26 March 2018: Sora yori mo Tooi Basho and Yuru Camp△ are the best shows of Winter 2018

Rin
There's also the matter of Rin's excellent hair.

Yuru Camp△ finished its 12-episode run last week with an open-ended conclusion to its deeply satisfying season. As far the actual narrative goes, I can't exactly claim Laid-Back Camp was particularly eventful, but the show's real strengths came from its pleasantly relaxed mood and its freakishly endearing lead character, Rin, anyway. I do like the other characters as well, though, and I'm particularly relieved Nadeshiko turned out to be a lot better than I initially feared, but Rin basically carried Yuru Camp△ for me. She did, after all, clinch the Girl of the Quarter crown in week 10 by racking up most of my Girl of the Week awards. If you place any stock in B.S. numerical ratings, I did score Yuru Camp△ in first place for most of the season before Sora yori mo Tooi Basho passed it.

Hinata
"When angry count four; when very angry, swear."

There's actually one episode of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho left, but I'm all but certain to subjectively regard it as this season's best show regardless of how it actually plays out. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (see this post for more about the show's name) is exceptionally well done. I'm particularly impressed with how it pays off the numerous little heartfelt investments it made during the course of the series. Also of note is the astute directing which has juggled comedy, drama, and even a little horror with skillful touches of emotional resonance in the right amounts and at the right times.

Violet
Mission top secret, destination unknown.

Speaking of emotional resonance, compare Sora yori mo Tooi Basho with the much hyped Violet Evergarden for example, which turned out to be a hot mess of wildly disparate levels of quality depending on the episode. I felt nearly all of them were clumsy and overwrought, with the exception of two episodes (both of which credit Sawa Shinpei as the episode director, incidentally). In particular, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho has made much better use of its music than Violet Evergarden has, as I've mentioned before. All in all, I'm very impressed with Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, and I'm looking forward to its creative team's future projects.

Dated 7 September 2016: Amaama to Inazuma has a lot of sweetness but basically no lightning

Kotori
Kotori doing something domestic again.

Cooking shows aren't exactly a rarity in anime, but Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness and Lightning) is unique in its slower pace and fairly unremarkable recipes. Rather than the usual over-the-top incredulous reactions to newly discovered flavors, Amaama to Inazuma focuses instead on the simple pleasure of preparing food and eating together. This, it does extremely well, and it's very satisfying watching the characters learning how to cook for each other. (Although it still bugs me they never wash their hands first.) However, there is an elephant in the room: the looming potential romance between teenage Kotori and her teacher, Kouhei, a recent widower. Nevertheless, through nine episodes, there has been no hint of any such subplot, so it's possible no such romance ever develops.

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Dated 12 December 2011: The Infinite Stratos OVA is a harem comedy so pure you could use it for titration

Charles and Cecilia
Cake goes in here.

The IS: Infinite Stratos OVA dispenses with the robots and powered armor hijinks almost entirely in order to focus exclusively on The Only Boy in School and the girls with the best chances at doing him. Well, at least in theory. Surprising no one, I'm sure, ol' Potato-kun is completely oblivious to their charms and absolutely ignorant of their intentions. Charles, Cecilia, Laura, Rin, and Houki pile uninvited into Ichika's home one day for some wacky good times. It's not top fuel hilarity, but the OVA is a pleasant diversion that relies heavily on the characters to amuse the viewer. It's anime junk food, but it tastes all right, and it won't spoil your dinner. (Wisely, the cast is united in their opposition to British cooking.)

Charles and Laura
Why does every party end up in the kitchen?

Unfortunately, this OVA basically ensures Charles will not be 2011's Girl of the Year. She had a good start, and was understandably a fan favorite throughout the series, but the non-ending ending all but doomed her chances. The Infinite Stratos Best Girl deserved better than to be lumped into such a cliche harem comedy ending. This OVA was her opportunity to come from behind and salvage her hopes of landing the 2011 title.

Laura
That eyepatch is still funny.

It didn't happen. All the Char scenes in the Infinite Stratos OVA are all right, but nothing to distinguish her in the way most of her scenes from the series made her so popular. What the OVA does do, somewhat unexpectedly, is convince me that Ichika's best match is Laura. Her straightforward no-nonsense nature and general assertiveness complements Ichika almost perfectly because, let's face it, he's a "bottom." Good luck, Potato-kun. You're going to need it.