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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 20 July 2021: Fruits Basket: The Final was the best Spring 2021 show

Tohru
This is how everyone sees Honda Tohru and yet people
still manage to be assholes to her.

It's sort of difficult to talk about Fruits Basket: The Final because it's a 13-episode conclusion in a 63-episode adaptation of a well-regarded 23-volume manga. It's also a do-over succeeding a 26-episode series from 20 years ago which was also really good even though the source material hadn't ended yet. So, there's a lot going on.

Kyo
Is cat.

I do wish I had paid closer attention when I started watching this iteration of Fruits Basket when it began in 2019. There are a lot of characters, and there is a lot of setup, and I'm certain I missed a lot of subtleties early on. I suppose that is an argument in favor of re-watching the series, even if it is 63 episodes long, but that isn't going to happen until I've finally gotten around to reading the source material. It's gonna be a while.

Tohru and Hana
This bedroom is fantastic.

Probably everyone who has heard about Fruits Basket also knows opinions about it are almost universally favorable. Likewise, anyone thinking about getting into the series probably knows at least as much as I did concerning what it's ostensibly "about" before I watched the first anime (the 2001 one with Hocchan). One thing that surprised me as I got deeper into the plot is how monstrous the zodiac aspects are regarded in-universe. They're not set up that way at the start of the series at all.

Yuki
Look, a rotary phone.

I don't really want to write about Fruits Basket, since it's basically one of those shows where you can just sort of say, "Look, everyone says it's good. It is good. Just watch it." I can also see how it might not be for everyone. You have to have to have an appetite for romance and a tolerance for assholes. So many assholes. Honda Tohru is, like, the nicest, sweetest, goodest girl in the entire world and she's constantly surrounded by bitches being bitches and assholes being assholes. Back the fuck away from Honda Tohru, people.

Machi
People are also assholes to Machi.

I guess viewers also have to be okay with "problematic" 'ships. I don't know if this heightened anxiety is an actual sign of the times, or if it's just localized sensitivity found on the Twitter. There are multiple age-gap pairings. There are people being mean to the people they love. Honda Tohru's mom dies. It's a whole thing. I guess the Fruits Basket 'ships are less "problematic" than the ones in Card Captor Sakura, but if these are the sorts of things that genuinely bother you, shoujo might not be for you.

Dated 29 December 2020: The war on pants will go on a long as it has to

Yoshika and Shizuka
I don't dislike Miyafuji anymore, but these two still aren't exactly favorites.

It's been a while since I've watched the first two Strike Witches seasons, but I felt this third season seemed better overall than those previous installments. I also liked it better than the Brave Witches spinoff. Despite this, I'm still not at all prepared to call Strike Witches: Road to Berlin the best season yet even though it sort of has to be by definition. The problem is Road to Berlin still relied on the Neuroi as the primary advesary. This is an unavoidable component of the World Witches canon, but these alien invaders have never been compelling enemies. The witches need to fight somebody, but the battles still feel hollow and the stakes haven't grown as the war has progressed, despite a fair amount of dialogue trying to convince viewers that they have.

World Witches Take Off!
That sure is a lot of witches.

Thankfully, Strike Witches 3 at least avoided some of the even less convincing drama that dragged down parts of the first two seasons. Frankly, I rather enjoy the characters more when they're doing silly things in garrison such as in the Strike Witches: 501 Butai Hasshin Shimasu! (Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!) gag anime. This bodes well for next season's World Witches Hasshin Shimasu! (World Witches Take Off!) installment, although I think I would still prefer it use the standard superlovely character designs than the simpler comedy-friendly ones.

Dated 15 September 2011: Revisiting Idolmaster Baseball

Ami and Mami
Ami's hair is probably shorter due to a bad breakup.

With nearly a full cour of The IDOLM@STER TV completed, I've decided to revise my iM@S baseball lineup. The most important change is Yukiho is no longer a narcoleptic like she was in Xenoglossia, but rather a cringing, terrified girl. If you think I'm starting someone like that on the mound, you're crazy. Yukiho rides the pine and possibly pinch runs. Cowards can run fast.

Kotori
No pressure, Kotori.

Thankfully, we now have Kotori on the roster. Kotori is my new pitcher, and hopefully she and Ritsuko work together well enough to form an effective battery. I also hereby reaffirm my decision to name Miki as the relief pitcher. She's made a habit of coming to the rescue in the current series, so I'm confident she can put out fires and pull the 765PROs out of trouble if Kotori gets into a jam.

Hibiki and Takane
Hibiki and Takane join the team.

I also reaffirm my decision to place Mami and Ami in the middle infield. I'm pleased they are no longer shrimpy kids. Although they aren't exactly freakish giants, they are a lot taller than I expected. I'm staying with Mami at shortstop and Ami at second base because I'm hoping Mami's side-tail will stabilize her head as she pivots while throwing to second or first. [Update1.] I've also decided that Mami > Ami because she has better hair and because she sort of holds underdog status now that Ami's popularity is ascendant as part of Ryuuguu Komachi.

Yayoi
Sit your ass down, Yayoi. You're dead weight.

The inclusion of Hibiki and Takane also means I no longer have to start Yayoi in right. Iori moves from left field to right field, and Hibiki takes left field while batting in Yayoi's old spot in the lineup. Takane goes into the bullpen as a relief pitcher. She'll mostly be in the set-up role with Miki as the closer, although all three will start if games are frequent enough to require a rotation.

Producer
Producer also does not look like Tommy Lasorda.

The IDOLM@STER TV has been mostly positive with regard to refining the iM@S baseball team, but there is one downside: We now know Producer looks nothing at all like Earl Weaver. No one is more disappointed than I.


[Note 1: Now that I think about it, a long sidetail on her left could easily get in Mami's field of vision as she pivots, but hopefully it won't matter under a baseball cap. If it turns out to be a problem, I may need to go with the dangerous hair-down Mami or swap her and Ami's fielding positions.]

Dated 4 May 2010: I bought Baccano! because of Durarara!! (exclamation point)

Miria and Isaac
Even the genki fall into despair sometimes.

Baccano! ran for an unconventional 16 episodes. Through the equivalent number of Durarara!! episodes, I give Baccano! the clear edge with the deciding factor being its superior characters. (As both shows have large ensemble casts, I'll address relatively few of them herein.)

Firo and Ennis
Besides, Baccano! has much snappier dressers than Durarara!!

This is not to say the characters in Durarara!! are lousy, just that I don't care about any of them. I do enjoy the crazy antics of stalker girl extraordinaire Mika (seriously, she's Cocoa Puffs), but that's about it. I thought I'd like Celty more, but as I mentioned earlier, I don't like how she's so easily flustered. She's also not very smart, but I guess that's not a nice thing to say about a girl who does not have any brains.

Takashi and Anri
Takashi tries to sweet talk Anri.

Okay, I do actively dislike Mikado, Masaomi, and Anri. Even Mikado's big moment suffered from two huge Angel Beats!-level flaws that pretty much sapped any coolness out of the triumph. He's lucky it worked out, I guess. Actually, Anri is a special case. Through 15 episodes, Anri's biggest problem was a complete lack of charisma (unless you measure charisma in cup sizes). I was left hoping she'd give in to her predatory teacher's obvious efforts at grooming her for sex. Really, what did she have to lose? But after episode 16 you have to be curious what else she has hidden under her clothes. Anri's school must get its uniforms from the same company as Iriya's. [P.S. Spoilers.]

Claire and Chane
These two have the dirtiest pillow talk.

Baccano! is superior to Durarara!! because it has Isaac and TOP FUEL GENKI Miria. [Yes, more spoilers, I know.] Despite Miria's horrifying voice, every scene those two are in is pure gold. Baccano! also has Chane doing wonders as a girl who doesn't talk. Durarara!! also has a girl who doesn't talk, but it's just not the same. Chane far surpasses Celty even if Chane probably spends most of her free time honing her knife fighting abilities instead of chatting idling on a computer. If she's going to spend so much time screwing off on her computer, Celty should at least check eBay once in a while for her head. Make a token effort, sweetie.