Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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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 8 February 2022: Girls' Frontline: ✅ Shoot, ☐ Move, ✅ Communicate, ☐ Do Cute Things

M4 SOPMOD II
I do love me some Yukarin.

Having an interest in firearms did not enhance my interest in the Girls' Frontline anime. My unfamiliarity with the video game was probably also a significant limiting factor. From an outsider's perspective, the first two episodes of Girls' Frontline (also known as Dolls' Frontline because of...reasons) featured tedious, protracted gun battles during which an endless stream of gunfire was exchanged until one side was sufficient attrited enough for the episode to concentrate on something else. It didn't make for great storytelling.

MP5
I didn't watch long enough to figure out if people are constantly slapping MP5.

Girls' Frontline is hardly the first "girls with guns" anime to have this problem. It's not even the first "girls who are guns" show to suffer in this way. Enjoying this anime requires either having pre-formed opinions about the characters (such as from already enjoying the video game) or dismissing things such as development and motivation as less important than appearance.

M16A1
I appreciate that M16A1 shoots left-handed.

In any case, I had no interest in watching anime versions of what I assume are battles based on game events. It seems weird to admit, but I would have had more interest in Girls' Frontline if there were no fights at all. Cute Guns Doing Cute Things probably isn't exactly the sort of gimmick most people wanted to watch, but I would have been more interested in that than in what we actually got.

Dated 1 February 2022: I dropped the CHATEAU DANKWORTH anime after one episode

Song and Chateau
Is this a meet cute?

The only reason I gave Koroshi Ai (Love of Kill) a chance at all was because one of its leads is named Chateau Dankworth which, obviously, is an incredible name. Aside from that, though, it didn't seem to have a whole lot else going for it that sounded interesting to me. Still, there have been times when shows I am skeptical about surprise me, sometimes just from execution alone. Well, I can't be certain CHATEAU DANWORTH ~THE ANIMATION~ wasn't going to do that eventually, but it didn't inspire much confidence during its first episode, and I wasn't going to stick around any longer to find out for sure.

Chateau and Song
It's not a date.

I don't expect I have many readers left who might feel irked by my negative views on Koroshi Ai, so I'm not really motivated to provide details about what I didn't like about it or why I think it's a lousy anime. Besides, there was a lot. So maybe it will be more productive to identify some things that I did enjoy about Love of Kill: It has mid-episode eyecatches. Not all shows do anymore. Also, CHATEAU DANKWORTH seems like a sourpuss. At least she has that going for her.

Dated 21 December 2021: I dropped Blade Runner: Black Lotus after four episodes

Elle
One of the rare scenes not set in the dark.

I never felt Blade Runner needed to expand into a franchise. Consequently, I had a lot of reservations about the 2017 sequel. That it turned out to be good (and arguably better than the original film) is something of a miracle. Unfortunately, the Blade Runner: Black Lotus 3DCG anime doesn't come close to reaching this bar. Not that it would be at all reasonable to expect it to, of course, and I'm not suggesting Black Lotus is a bad series necessarily. However, I am suggesting it didn't need to be made, or that it at least doesn't need to be a part of the Blade Runner world.

Elle
These umbrellas are so fresh.

Admittedly, being a Blade Runner property is the only reason I gave Black Lotus a chance, and it was sort of neat recognizing the callbacks in the setting and general atmosphere of the show. Catering to fans of an existing property will only carry a series so far, though, and there just wasn't enough in Black Lotus to keep me engaged. Maybe it got a lot better after I stopped watching, but its first four episodes were merely all right. How about next time, instead of setting something in the Blade Runner world, y'all set it in the world of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? How about that?

Dated 31 August 2021: I sure watch a lot of Love Live! for someone who claims not to care about Love Live! at all

Rina and Setsuna
It probably tastes fine with enough hot sauce.

Thanks to a fairly light season, I went back and undropped Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai (Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club) from the Autumn 2020 anime season. Initially, I was going to watch it concurrently with this season's Love Live! Superstar!!, but I only had seven episodes left in Nijigasaki, and Superstar!! episodes have been delayed twice for the Olympics already.

Kasumi
It's not easy being Love Live!'s Queen of Faces.

As it turns out, Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai is just all right. The series does seem more episodic than its predecessors, but that's probably because it is only one cours1 and its idols are soloists, unlike the ones forming μ's and Aqours in previous Love Live! iterations. As individual characters, I enjoy Setsuna's double life and her unsafe use of pyrotechnics. I enjoy Rina's gimmick even though it's objectively stupid and I suspect her illustrated expressions are insincere much of the time. And I enjoy Kasumi, Love Live!'s reigning Queen of Faces, even though she's sort of a shit idol. Eh, I guess I'm technically looking forward to the second cours next year.

Kanon and Sumire
Kanon is very bendy and occasionally doesn't wear pants.

Through the first five episodes, Love Live! Superstar!! is mostly notable for my positive impressions of Kanon, the ostensible main character. I typically have a low opinion of the lead girl in these sorts of things. For example, I was not a fan of Honoka, not a fan of Chika, and definitely not a fan of Ayumu. This phenomenon isn't only limited to Love Live! either. Miyafuji from Strike Witches was on my shit list for a while. However, my opinions regarding Kanon are uniformly positive, and I don't have any special reason why. Conversely, the show's efforts to make Keke more interesting by making her a huge nutjob aren't working for me at all, even though I typically love me some nutjobs.

Keke
How long has Sunny Passion been around again?

As the series goes, Love Live! Superstar!! has also been fine. It does share a significant shortcoming with Love Live! Nijigasaki, though. Neither of those shows had interesting rivals such as A-RISE or Saint Snow like First Love Live! and Love Live! Sunshine!! did. Aside from looking like Aikatsu! transfer students, Sunny Passion hasn't had a lot going for them, never mind Keke's efforts to convince us otherwise. Someone is going to have to really step up if one of the characters hopes to be the titular superstar of the series.


Note 1: It's actually split-cours, with a sequel expected in 2022

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 27 July 2021: I dropped Aquatope before I learned how to pronounce it

Fuuka
It's hard work, but at least you get to smell like fish all the time now.

I'm guessing Shiroi Suna no Aquatope (Aquatope of White Sand) is pronounced "aqua taupe," but I suppose it's possibly "aqua toe pay." In any case, the show is fine, and looks really nice, but I lost interest in it pretty much just as I did with Sakura Quest, another P.A. Works series about working girls (not those sorts of working girls, okay). Objectively, I guess there's nothing Aquatope really did wrong. (I guess it would have helped had I been invested in the childbirth sequence in some way.) It's just not really my sort of thing.

Shino
Shiho may or may not have kicked a giant mouse in the butt.

I admit I was more interested in Aquatope's nefarious internal idol politics (as I was with Wake Up, Girls!) than I was in failing-aquarium moé. Presumably, that aspect will re-appear at some point, since it's a two-cours series, but it's not enough to keep me watching it week-to-week, either. This does mean I'm currently down to five and two-thirds shows to watch this season. That's low enough that I watched all of last season's Odd Taxi in, like, 48 hours. It turns out it's really good. And it totally has nefarious internal idol politics. And how.

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.