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Dated 5 September 2023: Akikan! really is WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS

Budoko
Maybe Budoko gets more pleasant as the show progresses.

I started watched Akikan! (Empty Can!) as it aired during the Winter 2009 anime season, but I quit because I thought it was WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS. However, the irritating voice of a character introduced in the third episode did influence my decision to drop it then. As it turns out, this character's seiyuu was Yuuki Aoi, who has since gone on to have a successful career. She's rather popular, and I enjoy her work too, so I started second-guessing my 2009 self's opinions. Could it have really been that bad?

Najimi and Budoko
I admit Budoko's character design is amusing when she doesn't talk.

As it turns out, yes, it really was that bad. Budoko is a bratty, child-sized grape soda who speaks in a deliberately annoying voice. I think Yuuki Aoi was only 16 years old herself when she recorded the role, but I don't think being less experienced necessarily impaired her voice acting ability. If anything, she was probably too good at bringing a loathsome soda can to, err, life.

Melon and Kakeru
This scene is about erections.

I did actually try to watch further this time around, but I still only made it to episode four. Noto Mamiko voices a new can (a sports drink), but it's just not worth it. I don't know if the type of humor and tropes that saturate Akikan! are especially dated now. It's not as if I enjoyed humor of this variety in 2009 either. However, it also doesn't seem like the comedy styles found here are common in anime anymore. Possibly this is because I simply don't watch as many shows like this now, or maybe they're less common in general now that anime lineups are all isekai all the time. In any case, I suspect nobody besides boys discovering anime for the first time ever found the jokes in Akikan! funny either.

Dated 11 July 2023: There was more than one witch in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury

Elnora
I heard you liked helmets.

Now that Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo Season 2 (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury Season 2) has finished, I should probably capture my concluding thoughts on the series while they remain somewhat fresh. However, I get the feeling that would result in a long blog post, so maybe I ought to break things up into multiple entries despite the risk I might simply lose interest in writing more before completion. Anyway, the first post in this series (?) is about Elnora. If you've been following me on the Twitter, this should surprise you not at all.

Elnora and Dr. Cardo
Notably, I never stopped seeing Elnora as the girl she used to be.

Many viewers (if not most viewers) seemed to regard Prospera as the main villain of the series. This is not an incorrect perspective, but I think it's incomplete. I take the position that she is both an antagonist and a protagonist. This is not to say that I thought of her as the protagonist—that's clearly Suletta—but I do see her as a protagonist. (Fuck your deuteragonist and tritagonist nonsense. You're reading an anime blog, not a fan wiki.) That's not a controversial position for me to take, is it?

Elnora
Maybe she'll start calling you Mom without sounding sarcastic.

I'll need to put more thought into this, but my initial impulse is to suggest Elnora embraced the forgiveness aspect reflected in (or constrained by) The Tempest a lot more readily than I expected. Like, she had already forgiven Delling during the scene where she's fucking with Miorine's head to get her to aspire for the Benerit leadership role, right?

Elnora
I wonder how soon Elnora realized she was going to end up in this chair.

I also found Prospera's Quiet Zero plot to be a lot less sinister than what most people were assuming. (Never mind that I still have no idea what Notrette's original Quiet Zero plan—or Delling's intentions for the project, for that matter—were meant to be.) Now, I'm not part of the "Prospera Did Nothing Wrong" faction, but I do view her actions from a position that is decidedly more favorable to her than most seem willing to adopt. Let's just say I'm grading on a curve.

Dated 16 May 2023: Prospera is a caring mother who loves her tall daughters

Prospera and Miorine
Weird how your dad never mentioned murdering all those people.

The viewpoints I see about Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury) in my sliver of the anime fandom uniformly vilify Prospera, differing only in the intensity of the condemnations. However, I still regard her as a protagonist. I also support her quest for revenge even though I'm uncertain as to the specifics of her plan. (Spoilers henceforth for the first 17 episodes.)

Delling
You're not young Bel, right?

A significant factor responsible for this (apparently minority) view is my unwillingness to minimize Delling Rembran's role orchestrating and initiating the mass murder depicted in the "PROLOGUE" episode. I don't believe there's been any meaningful attempt to justify the assault, so I'm mystified this doesn't come up more often. It's as if viewers collectively shrugged and concluded it was all right because we barely knew those people.1

Elnora and Nadim
You don't always recognize the last time you'll see a loved one when it happens.

Elnora Samaya, of course, did know those people. She escaped with four-year-old Ericht as the facility's sole survivors while cold-blooded killers butchered her husband, her mentor, and everyone at Fólkvangr. (I'm unsure how many died in total, but it seems like dozens.) Consequently, this factor shapes my perspective about everything Elnora has done (and has been accused of doing) in her Propsera guise. To be clear, I also do not perceive her purported transgressions as being especially egregious. The worst accusations I can levy involve emotional manipulation, but assigning blame exclusively to Prospera for the actions others take strips agency away from those victims and reduces them to mere instruments.

Elnora
I guess she doesn't have a shitload of Suletta pictures decorating her desk.

Granted, I'm taking Prospera at her word when she offers explanations or insights.2 For example, I assume Ericht really was dying and that Elnora did not turn her into a child-Gundam chimera for Fullmetal Alchemist reasons. I'm also accepting Prospera's explanation to Miorine in episode 14 about enrolling Suletta to fulfill her wish of attending school while keeping her in a safe(r) environment as sincere. Likewise, I scrutinize her role as a mother through the same lens Suletta uses. Every on-screen interaction (and every historical one, according to Suletta's beaming admiration) appears authentic. Although, Prospera is possibly playing a long con, and has devoted considerable energy for decades to deceive and exploit her own daughter(s) in pursuit of a convoluted revenge plan.

Suletta
See, Suletta trusts her.

Maybe Prospera's true face (as it were) will be revealed and she'll get her comeuppance when Suletta (and Ericht) turn on her, but I'm not sure I find this prospect convincing. This is partly because I don't know the particular specifics of her revenge plan. After all, Prospera has had at least some opportunities to stab Delling in the neck, so simply offing him doesn't seem to be the primary objective.3

Delling and Prospera
I do find it odd they use portable data-storage devices.

Moreover, I'm increasingly cognizant that The Tempest ends with a wedding, not a bloodbath. I'm disinclined to believe G-Witch will end with Elnora in ruin, and Delling triumphant. However, I'm also skeptical the conclusion will adopt the forgiveness aspects from The Tempest, particularly since Prospero's betrayal involved a loss of authority, not the literal murder of everyone he cared about. I'm pro-revenge enough that I would find such a finale distasteful, almost as a matter of principle.


Note 1: E.g., "What Delling did to that lesbian couple was objectively terrible, but not subjectively so because they weren't 'our' lesbian couple."

Note 2: Maybe she's manipulating me.

Note 3: I have no idea how Quiet Zero fits into this.

Dated 10 January 2023: Witch Gundam: Some people need killing, Suletta

Suletta
Space Oomfie.

As you may have noticed, I really enjoyed the first cours of Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury). I've watched so little from the Gundam franchise that I'm hazy on a lot of its common, recurring themes. Nevertheless, I at least know the depiction of death and the consequences of war are integral companions (in some way) to the cool-robot plastic-model-sales aspects.

Nika
Nika realizing how much extra work killing that guy is going to create for her.

However, I'm not well versed in terms of how Gundam presents these elements or how it communicates its perspectives about them. My assumption is that it adopts a "killing is bad" approach, but I'm willing to trust it at least has a more nuanced view than something like Sword Art Online II:

2016-01-08-18:16< Evirus> The robber had already killed one person and was about to shoot the mom, the teller, basically everyone. But sniper girl, who was like five at the time, managed to get the gun and shot the robber dead. And she was a pariah ever since, even to her mother.

ANYWAY, I don't know if this ultra-pacifist view crudely depicted in SAO II in any way accurately reflects a mainstream Japanese view, nor do I know if Gundam has anything similar. For the purpose of this blog post, I'm going go assume neither are true. That said, episode 12 of Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo ends with a violent death that leaves one of its leads shocked and deeply troubled.

Prospera and Suletta
At a minimum, Prospera is way better than Sinon's mother.

Now, the most important aspect of this character's reaction is her disbelief the person responsible for the killing could appear untroubled by the act. That is the critical focus of the scene, but the implication "all killing is bad" still looms. We'll have to wait until the second cours begins in April 2023 for more clarity on these points, but anything other than unambiguously concentrating on the mental-state aspect of the scene will appear alien to me.

Unidentified gunman
I think this qualifies as an imminent threat to life or bodily harm even if he's not using the sights.

The distinction derives from my inculcation in a common American belief that using deadly force is justified in the defense of others. The legality and scope of this doctrine varies by region and jurisdiction (as do American self-defense doctrines and perspectives as a whole, for that matter), but I presume it's at least much more common in the United States than it is in Japan. I just don't know how it's portrayed in Gundam.

Dated 29 November 2022: I look forward to Bocchi the Rock! and Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo the most each week

Ikuyo and Hitori
I wonder if she has her eyes open.

I look forward to Bocchi the Rock! each week because it's excellent, not because I'm anticipating big surprises or anxiously awaiting the resolution of cliffhangers. If I thought about it some more, I could probably reasonably chart out how the rest of the season is going to go, but it doesn't matter. The key to Bocchi's tremendous appeal is its impeccable execution. This is a great show, top to bottom, back to front.

Suletta and Miorine
Despite what you might think, this gesture is definitely threatening.

I'm not quite prepared to call Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury) a great show even though it's also doing everything well so far. Nevertheless, I do look forward to each episode even more than I look forward to Bocchi the Rock! each week. I think the biggest contributing factor is that Witch Gundam has greater potential for unpredictable (and unsettling) developments. Even though it's been good so far, basically anything can happen because it's Gundam and because there aren't really any constraints on the possible directions the story may take.

Chuatury
Chu-squared is one of the good people, okay.

In light of this distinction, is it worth pointing out Bocchi the Rock! is about a character with anxiety, whereas Witch Gundam is about generating anxiety in the viewer? I suppose it's not really about generating anxiety, but I don't think I'm alone in experiencing some apprehension as to how the series will play out. I do mean this in a good way, though. Consequently, on some level, this means I look forward to Bocchi the Rock! each week because I'm eager to see good things to happen to good people, while I look forward to Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury because I'm concerned bad things might happen to good people.

Dated 30 March 2021: Re:Zero II 2 was probably a good season for Emilia fans

Subaru and Roswaal
It's fine, they're cool now.

My enjoyment of the Re:Zero anime has been inconsistent. I initially lost interest in the series quite early and dropped the show more than once. I finally picked it up again after enjoying Isekai Quartet and its myriad gags about Ram being smug and/or abusive. After finally sticking with the first season, I did enjoy most of it. I also liked the first half of the second season, but the most recent cours, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2, did not hold my interest.

Emilia
I'm going to claim Puck is a shitty parent.

If I had to say why, I guess it's because I found Garfiel rather grating. He has legitimate reasons for being that way, but they didn't make him less tiresome to watch. This cours also focused heavily on Emilia, and deservedly so. Unfortunately, I've never had any interest in Emilia, so I wasn't exactly invested in her arc. If you are a big fan of Emilia, then I would expect you to regard this cours as being one of the strongest ones of the anime thus far. However, it is difficult for me to weigh this objectively, so possibly it still dragged even for Emilia superstans. Presuming there is a third season, I am going to continue watching it, but I do hope it gets better. Maybe have some more Rem? I could go for more Rem now.

Dated 15 September 2020: I think Re:Zero is trying to tell me witches need love too

Subaru and Echidna
I mean, at a minimum, at least you got free tea.

I got to Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-) sort of late. I initially dropped it pretty early, and only returned to it thanks to Isekai Quartet. The show itself is a journey, and Subaru's character does change over the course of the show as a result of his experiences (read: constant trauma). I am glad I gave the show another chance, as it is proving to be much better than it initially seemed.

Subaru and Garfiel
This is not a kabedon.

It's not clear to me how much of the actual story the anime has covered thus far. From an anime-only standpoint, it certainly feels as if there is a lot left, even after 35 episodes. As I understand it, the books themselves are ongoing, so this could be a while. Of note, the anime is only just now starting to introduce the witches. Although the first season mentioned witches and their followers, I didn't fully appreciate how widespread this whole witch thing was. I'm starting to wonder if you can't throw a stick in a Re:Zero neighborhood without hitting a witch, a witch's follower, or a witch's bitter enemy.

Echidna
Look, she's drinking it. It's fine.

It's also just a matter of time before Re:Zero viewers start lining up with the various witch factions themselves. Ichidna has the clear lead for the time being, seeing as how she has been the most personable one so far. Possibly she's just playing a long con, but Ichidna also at least seems much less overtly hostile and sadistic compared to the other witches. She did make Subaru drink her bodily fluids, though.

Dated 1 July 2019: I'm watching Re:Zero because of Isekai Quartet

Emilia and Subaru
This is some compositing.

I tried watching Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-) when it aired during the Spring 2016 anime season. I made it five episodes before dropping it because I found the show rather irritating. Fast forward to the Spring 2019 anime season, and somehow Isekai Quartet finished at the top of my rankings, edging out Kono Oto Tomare! I did, in fact, expect this to happen. (The watching part, not the ranking part, that is.) I've made it through the first cours of Re:Zero so far, and do have to admit it improves quite a bit after the initial episodes.

Emilia
Partial eclipse.

I'm a little surprised how few spoilers I knew, and how many I had forgotten. That probably helped, by preserving the sense of mystery that pervades the second half of the first cours. I do 100-percent still remember the Rem and Emilia spoiler which is still to come, though. However, since I don't actually 'ship any of the characters, knowing this probably isn't going to matter much one way or another. In any case, my renewed curiosity in Re:Zero is probably a testament to the success of Isekai Quartet as a marketing ploy. Seeing as how Isekai Quartet is getting a second season, with the promise of unspecified newcomers, I suppose it's possible the premise will expand to include more than just four Kadokawa-affiliated isekai properties, although then maybe they'll need to call the sequel something like Isekai Octet or whatever. I think I'd be okay with that.