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Dated 30 April 2024: Yuru Camp△ seems to be more about the destination now than the journey

Nadeshiko
Keep your fingers away from the lens, Nadeshiko.

I know there were some changes on the production side before the start of Yuru Camp△ SEASON 3 (Laid-Back Camp Season 3), but I don't know if they're responsible for the different vibes I'm getting compared to the previous seasons. Part of this is the revised character designs. While I don't find them objectionable, if I compare them against the first-season character designs, I unquestionably prefer the previous ones more. It's particularly apparent during back-to-back viewings of episodes or clips from the earlier seasons.

Rin and Ayano
Rin looks more obviously different to me than Ayano does.

However, the real departure in Yuru Camp△ SEASON 3 compared to where the anime began is in the excruciatingly detailed, photorealistic backgrounds that appear in seemingly every scene now. I presume this is accomplished by taking actual photographs or video footage of locations and filtering them to fit in with the rest of the anime. I don't know this is what's actually happening, but I get the strong sense that the motivation driving this practice has to do with encouraging anime tourism, or at least attracting fans who recognize anime tourism is an activity they could theoretically enjoy.

Nadeshiko
You could stand RIGHT HERE!

Fans of the Yuru Camp△ anime most definitely geolocated where scenes occurred and made pilgrimages following the first two seasons. Perhaps the pursuit of emotional and spiritual satisfaction motivated these trips, or maybe it was to feed social-type media beasts. In any case, providing these fans comported themselves as good tourists instead of being nuisances to the locals, I can see why encouraging further visits of this sort might occur. That's what season three feels like now to me. As much as I enjoy the series, I can't shake the overwhelming feeling that I watching a vacation promo for each destination.

Dated 3 January 2023: In praise of Kita Kita

Ikyuo and Hitori
Not yet, Kita Kita!

Bocchi the Rock! is great. It's way better than I was expecting. A huge part of this comes down to execution, though. This is not a slight against its source material (which I haven't read), but rather a reflection of how much I enjoyed the creative choices the anime used to communicate Hitori's discomfort and personal struggles. I also liked seeing "Bocchi" advance as a character, although a significant part of this progress was thanks to new friends dragging her forward. This does mean high school Hitori probably would have stayed in the same place as middle school Hitori were it not for some fortuitous encounters creating these opportunities for her, though.

Ikyuo, Nijika, Ryou, and Hitori
She's doing it again.

This brings me to the subject central to the title of this post. (Alternate title: "The End of Bocchi the Rock! ~Air/My Purest Love for Kita Kita~." Do people even still get that reference?) For a while after her introduction, I was afraid Kita Ikuyo Kita Kita would be one-note character whose scenes mostly involved gags about adoring Ryou. Thankfully, it turned out she had a much more important role to play, even if her "Kit-Aura" may be a little too fearsome. Ikuyo is a good foil for Hitori, and I enjoy the contrasts provided by their characters. There's no shortage of amazing Bocchi scenes where her anxiety warps time and space or glitches reality, but I also like the gags involving Kita Kita's mabushii being sort of excessive.

Hitori and Ikyuo
This is not Mental Out. At least I don't think it is.

Possibly I just enjoy characters with high genki levels in general. In any case, I don't have a lot of complex reasons for explaining why Ikuyo is great. I guess I will add that—depending on how you feel about Kessoku Band's music—her position as its only vocalist also seems like the sort of thing that deserves more attention. As an aside, even though I said, "only vocalist," I do harbor suspicions Bocchi will be unexpectedly pressed into service to take Kita Kita's place during an unplanned contingency in some theoretical future installment. Maybe Hitori wouldn't feel up to it yet, but I'm confident her seiyuu could tackle this all day, any day. Aoyama Yoshino was a WUG!

Dated 1 November 2022: Bocchi the Rock! is excellent even though there's basically no ROCK yet

Ikuyo and Hitori
Not just "no," but "Hell no."

As it turns out, Bocchi the Rock! doesn't have anything to do with either SHOW BY ROCK!! or Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu. Maybe it was obvious to everyone else, but I don't actually know anything about SHOW BY ROCK!! or Hitoribocchi. Anyway, Bocchi the Rock! does star a girl named Hitori, but the Bocchi nickname is something she picks up later after joining a band, which is no mean feat for someone with crippling social anxiety.

Hitori
You might think she's just wasted one, but there are ways to reuse these.

Notably, that crippling social anxiety is the reason why "Bocchi" joined a band to begin with. You see, she's unsatisfied with her isolation and regards this move as way to change her lot. She is behind schedule, but at least this has provided her with additional time to improve her guitar skills. Through four episodes, it's apparent she's really good, even though her band mates haven't quite noticed yet.

Ryou and Hitori
Wait, are you drinking coffee and ice water at the same time?

At some point, her secret identity as a reasonably popular guitar-playing YouTuber is going to pay off, presumably as she overcomes the challenge of playing as a band in sync with the other members (as opposed to entirely alone, the only way she has ever played guitar thus far). She also seems fairly adept at coming up with new songs on the spot as long as she's not thinking about it.

Hitori
I should have embedded a video clip of this, because a screenshot doesn't do the sequence justice.

I'm probably portraying Bocchi the Rock! as if it's a serious show, but it is actually a comedy. (It's based on a 4-koma.) More importantly, it is also genuinely funny. Moreover, the production values as a whole are excellent and really go a long way towards selling various gags. I suspect, without them, bits related to Hitori's intense insecurity would come across as sad or uncomfortable instead of endearing.

Dated 25 January 2022: Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru is about liking who you like

Marin and Wakana
I haven't seen any fan art yet of a younger Marin with all-pink hair.

I typically only write one blog entry for each anime I watch these days. On occasion, a series will receive a post at the start of the season and a follow-up at its conclusion, but it's probably just as likely for me to ignore a show altogether. It works out this way because I only update this blog about once per week, which limits some options if the number of shows I sample every season exceeds the number of weeks they run.

Marin
You should have stolen his outdoor shoes.

Simply put, A LOT of new anime comes out these days. Moreover, while the 80-percent-of-everything-is-crap maxim holds, it still suggests the sheer amount of worthwhile shows now is greater than it's ever been, nostalgic biases notwithstanding. Basically, every season now includes at least a dozen anime I find interesting enough to try. Except, I guess, this season.

Marin, Nowa, and Wakana
I continue to admire Nowa's two-toned twin-tailed hair.

Discounting never-ending staples such as Pretty Cure and Detective Conan (and I guess Demon Slayer almost counts now), I'm only following two shows: Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi’s Sailor Uniform) and Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling, A.K.A. KiseKoi). I honestly can't remember the last time I followed so few shows; at a minimum, it has been more than a decade. Even during the Covid-disrupted seasons early in the pandemic, I was watching more shows than I am now.

Marin
I'm being serious when I claim Akebi-chan is a lewder show than KiseKoi.

Since I'm not especially taken with Akebi-chan, this likely means KiseKoi is going to get a disproportionally high number of blog entries—and it sort of deserves it. Through its first three episodes, KiseKoi has hit its marks without belaboring the foreseeable conflicts its setup requires it to address. In doing so, it has avoided the standard pitfalls I've come to expect.

Akebi
For one thing, the girls in Akebi-chan keep their fingernails trimmed short.

This is not to say KiseKoi is breaking new ground. Marin is very much a manic pixie dream girl, but she is a personable one, so I can understand why she exploded in popularity among fan artists. I don't know for certain how well I would regard My Dress-Up Darling during a more crowded season, but I'm at least inclined to believe I would equally appreciate the little things it has been doing so well so far.

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 29 June 2021: I'd rather watch more Two Car than watch more Super Cub

Koguma, Shii, and Reiko
There was also a fair amount of anime tourism.

Super Cub is a great show. Or rather, Super Cub starts out as a great show, but is basically only all right towards the end of the anime. The reason for this is because Super Cub is at its best when it is about changing Koguma's life. Consequently, the best episodes are the ones where she learns more about the little motorcycle and discovers the new opportunities it provides her. However, the anime later settles into a more typical "girls really enjoy a specific thing" sort of show with various adventures. These episodes are still good, but don't convey quite the same sort of magic.

Shii, Reiko, and Koguma
Carcinisation.

This also means the later episodes of Super Cub invite comparisons with other girls-on-bikes anime, notably Bakuon!!, Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu, and Two Car. In that regard, Super Cub isn't quite as compelling. This is partly because it's not just a Honda commercial in this environment, but straight-up Honda propaganda. It's fine, but I don't find it as interesting. The bigger problem is I also don't think Shii (the third girl) is interesting. Reiko, at least, is a nutjob. I do love me some nutjobs.

Yuri and Megumi
Go fast or stay home.

I'm inclined to believe Super Cub would be better as a much shorter series or as a collection of OVAs. I don't know how much more source material remains, but I'm ambivalent about it now. I'd rather watch a second season of Two Car. Objectively, it's admittedly not a better show, but it does have girls bitching each other out when they're supposed to be relying on each other as a team, and I enjoyed its parade of high-speed caricatures more than I enjoyed Shii lying in a freezing river waiting to die. P.S. Spoilers.

Dated 2 March 2021: Yuru Camp△ SEASON 2 is the best anime of Winter 2021 not featuring self-harm

Nadeshiko
I appreciate Nadeshiko's apparent immunity to fatigue.

Surprising no one who watched the first season, Yuru Camp△ SEASON 2 remains fantastic. I don't actually watch a lot of shows that I would expect to be similar in terms of tone and content, such as Yama no Susume (Encouragement of Climb), or Non Non Biyori, but perhaps I should, considering how much I enjoy Yuru Camp△. Then again, the majority of my interest in the show unmistakably centers around Rin specifically, and her various camping-related efforts. I mean, I like all the other characters too, but significantly less so, and I'm fairly sure this perspective is nearly universal among fans of the show.

Rin
So what happens if you do the suspension bridge thing alone?

Actually, there is one other character I know some Yuru Camp△ fans seem to like a lot: Nadeshiko's older sister, Sakura. For years now, Yuru Camp△ fan art has featured a lot of Rin x Sakura 'shipping. (Admittedly, it is one prolific artist who dominates this scene.) I found this pairing a little peculiar, since the two characters interacted basically not at all in the first season. Best I could figure, it was either in reference to something that developed later on in the source material, or ardent fans fabricated it whole cloth.

Sakura and Rin
You know, people would have lost their minds if Sakura
had been Nadeshiko's older brother instead.

Presuming the anime is adapting the original manga (as opposed to inventing stories to bolster the anime-tourism economy), it seems we've at least reached the genesis of this particular movement. I don't actually expect Yuru Camp△ to expand this meeting into a genuine romance, though. Fan enthusiasm aside, I really don't think it's that sort of show. Sorry, 'shippers, I'm pretty sure Sakura and Rin aren't going to be tearing each other's clothes off in a tent anytime soon. Besides, Rin wears a million layers even when she's napping by a space heater while she's ostensibly working in a library; she's probably wearing two million layers when she's camping in the winter.

Dated 28 April 2020: Tamayomi v. Major 2nd S2

Yomi
I don't know why she's wearing a Suzuki hat.

Based on the promotional materials leading up to the Spring 2020 anime season, I expected Tamayomi to be a show more about "cute girls doing cute things" than a show about baseball. Its source material is a Manga Time Kirara property, and besides, the characters play in shorts. Sure enough, the series turned out to be more about friendship and fan-service lesbianism than baseball. It's not a bad series, although it helps to really enjoy that sort of show. The baseball parts were also depicted reasonably well. Unfortunately, production levels were never especially high, and started declining immediately. By episode four, the animation had all but collapsed, presumably at least partially due to impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Anita, Chisato, Seira, Sakura, Yayoi, Tao, Akira
They're gonna need more players.

Having watched the previous seven seasons of Major, I was much more confident about Major 2nd S2. Through the first four episodes, it has turned out to be as good as I was expecting. I was also pleasantly surprised by its focus on female characters. Girls playing baseball have appeared in previous installments of Major fairly often, but they've always been the minority. However, season two of Major 2nd is about a team that has six girls in the starting lineup. There are only nine players so far, so it's unclear where this will go from here, but it's a welcome new direction for the franchise. Unfortunately, production has stalled due to the pandemic, with no date announced yet for its return.

Tamaki and Yomi
Financial questions aside, Tamayomi should probably go on hiatus.

Curiously, I don't believe Tamayomi has announced any planned delays yet, although it probably should. Episode four was dire. I'm not especially confident episode five will fare much better. In any case, I've already dropped the show. I'm not specifically dropping it because of the animation, although that certainly isn't helping. Rather, I just don't find the show particularly compelling, and there are plenty of other titles in my backlog I could be watching instead. (See this post for more on that.)