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Dated 9 April 2018: I'm looking forward to Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

Tessa and Leonard
I guess you need to watch The Second Raid
to know who the person on the right is.

There has been a running gag for years about Full Metal Panic! fans in anguish about Kyoto Animation working on other projects instead of animating another sequel to follow Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid. To some extent, I fit that category of disgruntled fans in the sense that I did want another FMP season, although it's not accurate to claim I harbored Kyoani any ill will, if only because I had long ago concluded no such sequel would ever be forthcoming. Surprisingly, there is going to be a fourth season after all: Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. (Get it? Full Metal Panic! IV. Anyway....) Xebec is making this one, and it starts on 13 April. Do you need to watch the first three seasons before watching FMP IV? I dunno. Probably?

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Dated 14 February 2018: iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA is a classic story about a teenage girl and her giant robot finding true love together

Haruka and Imber
Shameless flirting.

I was a stranger to the iDOLM@STER franchise the first time I watched iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA. I mentioned this before, but perhaps I should have noted I was also mystified by the amount of hostility displayed by some fans of the original games (arcade and Japanese Xbox 360 exclusive) toward Xenoglossia when the anime came out in 2007. Although I understood in principle the objections fans would have concerning the different character designs and replaced voices, I was not personally invested in any of the characters, so some of the more venomous attacks seemed excessive. Moreover, the character designs looked fine to me, at least relative to other anime of the period and Sunrise shows in particular. I finally watched my DVDs over the past few months, and actually enjoyed Xenoglossia a lot more on re-watch than I did during its initial broadcast, despite having a better understanding now of THE iDOLM@STER as a whole. Or maybe I like Xenoglossia more because I've watched several cours of bona fide iDOLM@STER anime now, not "despite" watching them.

Iori
Yukarin Iori with purple hair is good too.

Still, I'm not quite sure how I would characterize iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA. It's not really much of a giant robot show for a show about giant robots, and it's not an idol anime despite having (regular-type) idols and iDOLs in it. It's not a "cute girls doing cute things" show, nor is it an early example of the more recent phenomenon where anime girls band together to be really excited about some typically male-dominated activity, like Bakuon!! or Two Car or GIRLS und PANZER. Honestly, it really is a love story about a teenage girl and her much older robot boyfriend. Notably, the affection Haruka develops for Imber is not at all unusual, as all of the other pilots also develop complex feelings toward their robots as well. In fact, jealousy plays a huge role in the plot, as do the inevitable love triangles.

Azusa
Also, Xenoglossia Azusa > regular Azusa.

IDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA does not take itself too seriously, but does not devolve into camp either. I buy into the HARUKA X IMBER pairing enough to believe there should be real questions raised about the ED once its setting becomes clear. I also enjoy the romance enough that I think I like the Xenoglossia Haruka more than I like the regular Haruka. Not that there's anything wrong with the regular Haruka necessarily, but I like the Xenoglossia Haruka's attitude better. Perhaps it's because she comes across as more of a main character in her own show, while the "real" Haruka necessarily seems more like a token default protagonist in a franchise with an ensemble cast, must the way I regard Miyafuji in Strike Witches or ol' Bucky in the Kantai Collection anime. I don't know if true fans of THE iDOLM@STER will ever regard Xenoglossia as positively as I do—the different voices must be especially jarring for them—but perhaps they'll come to appreciate the series if they think of it as one of those in-universe television programs the iM@S characters themselves occasionally feature in as actresses.

Dated 7 June 2016: Surprising no one, GIRLS und PANZER der FILM is awesome

GIRLS und PANZER der FILM Blu-rays
The OVA epilogue is also pretty good even though it's not wall-to-wall tank battles.

If you watched the GIRLS und PANZER television series, then you've probably been anxiously waiting to watch GIRLS und PANZER der FILM. Since its release in November 2015, this movie continues to print money for Japanese theaters even though the Blu-ray came out at the end of May 2016. Now that I've finally gotten to see it, the reasons for the film's success and unflagging popularity are obvious.

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Dated 6 May 2016: We can't stop here, this is kabane country

Mumei
Go on, Mumei. Curse the bitch out.

The best anime this season is a steampunk show about cowardly idiots and assholes on a train getting killed by zombies. This is not to say that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress) doesn't have problems, 'cause it's got a mess o' problems, but they're the sort of thing I'm happy to overlook as long as all the right people keep getting fucked up. (See also the second half of Shiki, another noitaminA show, in fact.)

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Dated 29 April 2016: This Monster manga has grown so big

Monster and Full Moon wo Sagashite
Monster Perfect Edition volumes compared to standard Full Moon wo Sagashite volume.

Monster is one of my favorite anime, but its DVD release was doomed to fail. If I remember right, the R1 release was a Viz license. Viz at the time already had a reputation for abandoning shows partway (e.g., Full Moon wo Sagashite) and even optimists didn't like the odds of a full Monster release. With replacement music for the ED and rumors of interlaced video, fans of the series were trapped by a Catch-22: They had to buy enough of the early discs to ensure a successful full 74-episode release, but the likelihood of that happening was so low that these fans would almost certainly suffer the same fate as FMoS fans. As you may have guessed, the DVD release as a whole did not go especially well.

Cardcaptor Sakura and Monster
Not quite as big as the Cardcaptor Sakura omnibus volumes.

Thankfully, the manga release appears to be in much better shape. Although also a Viz release, all 18 volumes did get releases. The last of these volumes came out in 2008, and I'm pretty sure they're out of print now, but Viz currently publishes the Monster manga in large double-length compendiums with the final (ninth) volume due out in July 2016. I haven't actually started reading these yet, thanks to my ever-prodigious backlog, but picking these up is a no-brainer, even if the manga lacks the anime's MAMIKORE voice acting.

Dated 8 April 2016: I imported the first Konosuba Blu-ray set

Konosuba box
It didn't actually cost me seventy-six hundred yen.

Due to the friendly currency exchange ratio of the U.S. dollar to Japanese yen, I import a lot more Japanese merchandise these days. These goods include the first Blu-ray set for Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, my fourth-highest-rated show from the 2016 winter season according to my chart. Notably, I don't currently have any plans to do the same for any other series from that season, to include the three shows I ranked higher than Konosuba. There are a variety of reasons for this.

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Dated 12 March 2016: Revisiting Innocent Venus

Steve and Toraji
It's your own fault for only bringing a gun to a sword fight.

Innocent Venus is "pretty good," but it sort of feels as if viewers forgot about it somewhat quickly. When was the last time you even thought about this 2006 series? I liked it quite a bit when it first aired, but even I haven't thought about it much after it ended. I want to say it was at least popular enough to get licensed, but basically everything was getting licensed back then just before the crash. I see it sure didn't take long for the DVDs to go out of print, so good luck finding it now if you haven't secured a copy already.

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Dated 8 February 2016: I sure hope 4D anime turns out better than 3D anime

Kei
At least he's not also voiced by Kaji Yuuki.

There sure seems to be a lot of freaky-looking 3D anime characters this season. I assume this is due to advances in technology making the technique viable enough from a financial perspective (and not abhorrent enough from an artistic one) to make 3D production attractive these days. Whatever the reason, this season you'll find 3D characters used 100-percent of the time in Ajin and Bubuki Buranki, and at least some of the time in Luck & Logic, Aikatsu!, Pretty Cure, Gate (if you count the dragons), and probably a couple other shows I'm either forgetting or not watching.

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