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Dated 12 April 2022: Akebi-chan is an escapist fantasy

Komichi
Life sure is great.

Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi’s Sailor Uniform) is a show that encourages adopting a positive attitude. It promotes the idea that if you embrace optimism and do your best, things will work out better and your life will be filled with amazing moments that create wonderful memories. It's not a bad argument for a series to make. There's a place in the world for these sorts of perspectives, and you'll find it in a countryside that's always gorgeous and not at all filled with countless biting insects.

Komichi, Ai, Minoru, and Riri
Every swimming segment was really good.

Aside from that observation, I don't have much to add to this end-of-season wrap-up post, except maybe just acknowledging that it was one of the best shows from the Winter 2022 anime season. It turned out much better than I was expecting. I guess I should also point out that I am aware some viewers had a much different opinion of it, with some even taking an especially negative stance towards Akebi-chan.

Komichi and Erika
Now you're just showing off.

In this regard, I suspect some of the more visceral responses probably reveal more about the internalized reactions some viewers experienced—and their discomfort reconciling them—than anything about the Akebi-chan series itself. Over the years, I've come to understand my more oblique way to conveying ideas can be unnecessarily unclear, so I'll just say it plainly this time (hopefully without implying that those who aren't getting it are obtuse).

Actually, you know what? I changed my mind. I'm not gonna spell it out.

Dated 5 April 2022: The End of KiseKoi ~Air/My Purest Love for Cosplay~

Marin
Best Girl.

I'm pleased to report Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling) completed its first cours with a solid finish, capping off a remarkable run well ahead of whatever expectations I may have had prior to starting the series. I'm by no means alone in praising the show as the best from the Winter 2022 anime season, so I'm hopeful we'll see a second cours at some point.

Nowa and Marin
Things I know about Nowa: She has great hair, and is purportedly freakishly strong.

In addition to the factors I've mentioned in my previous posts, the small cast also worked in its favor. I was sure the childhood friend who bitched Wakana out years ago was going to appear at some point, and similarly expected at least one arc involving Marin's friends getting into her business. The fact that neither of these things came to pass is a credit to the storytelling in KiseKoi and the attention it gave to Marin's point of view as her romantic feelings grew.

Wakana and Marin
These are some fireworks.

My Dress-Up Darling consistently defied expectations in these small ways throughout the season, but their impact in the aggregate is considerable. I hope authors and directors of future works take note of this phenomenon. You'd expect a story should need entirely original, novel ideas to gain this benefit, but Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru demonstrated simply not following familiar tropes to their specific expected destinations can be enough to transform scenes that would otherwise have been unremarkable.

Dated 8 March 2022: Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru remains the best series of the Winter 2022 anime season

Wakana and Marin
They're not panties, so it's not embarrassing.

Through nine episodes, Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling, also KiseKoi for short) continues to outperform even the most optimistic expectations I initially had for it. Two factors are primarily responsible for how it has accomplished this. First, it is sincere about its subject matter. Second, the series subvert clichés, even though it's mostly doing it in only small ways.

Marin, Sajuna, and Wakana
Marin has good hair.

With regard to the first point, I can't claim to know anything about cosplay, but KiseKoi seems earnest about the subject. The anime's instructional segments also seem framed to be accessible, informative, and sort of encouraging to neophytes who may have an interest in getting into cosplay themselves.

Marin
There is fan service, but that's not what makes KiseKoi good..

Concerning the second point, I'm pleased with how My Dress-Up Darling presents common anime tropes. There are a lot of scenes with setups that are extremely familiar to anyone who has watched a lot of anime. However, they end up playing out differently from the norm. This is not to say KiseKoi is subverting these conventions, but it's remarkable how simply executing them in ways slightly differently than usual makes all the difference.

Marin
It's not easy being anime.

To some degree, the success Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru achieves by simply doing things right is an indictment against all those other anime that end up being mostly mediocre because they seem to embrace shortcomings viewers regard as avoidable. Well, maybe My Dress-Up Darling is an example of how good an anime can be as a result of doing small things right. I should probably also mention the romance part of the series, since KiseKoi, you know, is a romantic comedy after all. However, I'm going to wait and see how it all progresses and just state, for now, that the anime is also handling this aspect well.

Dated 1 March 2022: Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku sure is lewd

Komichi and Yuwa
I don't know why Komichi doesn't have more uniforms or do laundry more often.

Saying Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi’s Sailor Uniform) has a lot of fan service is not exactly a controversial claim now that we're eight episodes into the season, but I don't mean it as criticism anyway. Rather, this is an indirect segue to acknowledging the series is beautifully animated. It's remarkable how consistently gorgeous every shot looks, honestly. In particular, the setting is so exquisitely detailed it's basically pornographic.

House
I mean, look at this house.

In light of this, I suppose it is not exactly inaccurate to suggest the Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku anime provides so many lingering shots examining its characters' bodies considering it basically does this for everything else in the show. Whether or not this makes it lewd is subjective, but I'm hardly the first person to comment on the sort of framing that pervades the anime. I've not read the source manga, but I have encountered claims the anime is toned down in comparison, so I'm pretty confident in concluding there is something there.

Riri and Komichi
"Come with me if you want to live swim."

Like I said, none of this is meant as a criticism. The show is legitimately entertaining in addition to looking fantastic. Akebi's Sailor Uniform (like My Dress-Up Darling) has pleasantly surprised me with how good it is. This might not be the deepest-stacked anime season, but it's not a barren one either. Even though I don't believe I'm in the target audience for something like Akebi-chan, it's appealing enough that I enjoy it anyway. Oh, and I assume that "100 friends" thing was made up for the promotional materials or whatever. It hasn't come up at all.

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 18 January 2022: My Dress-Up Darling is about liking what you like

Wakana and Marin
I wonder if they ate the cake she brought afterwards.

I have a favorable view of Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling) despite knowing nothing about its source material. Its first two episodes were solid, and I'm optimistic enough to presume it will not suddenly wreck itself by crashing into all the usual ways something like this goes wrong. Notably, the second episode spent nearly its entire length dedicated to Wakana's alarm at unexpectedly finding himself examining Marin's body closely as he takes all the measurements he needs so that he can make her cosplay outfit. These sorts of setups typically exasperate me with how they commonly play out, but I'm good with how this show performed it.

Shizuku and Marin
At least the ball gag is something she can just buy.

The second episode also echoed Marin's refrain from the first episode that people should be allowed to like what they like without being attacked over something that isn't anyone else's business. In Wakana's case, it's his obsession with dolls. (I should probably point out he appears to be obsessed with only one particular type of traditional doll, and not dolls in general. Although, in keeping with the show's themes, I guess that wouldn't have mattered anyway.) Marin, for her part, absolutely adores a gothic lolita character from a series of bishoujo games. (Specifically, the games in question are rated for adults only and have significant amounts of pornographic content, including various degrees of BDSM events.)

Marin and Wakana
Is that an engineer's ring?

It's yet unclear to me how the show will go, as there are a few ways it could turn out. The childhood friend who traumatized Wakana by bitching him out about liking dolls is sure to return (I'm pretty sure I can identify her in the opening credit sequence), presumably once the two leads are settling into a comfort zone. Typically, this sort of osananajimi reappearance involves some manner of tsundere bullshit, so how Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru handles the inevitable conflict will likely influence how I end up regarding the show as a whole. Don't fuck this up, people.

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 7 December 2021: Neither Getsuyoubi no Tawawa 2 nor Ganbare Douki-chan need a blog entry, but they're getting one anyway

Maegami-chan
I know it's her (other) gimmick, but these are some fucked-up bangs.

Getsuyōbi no Tawawa 2 (Tawawa on Monday 2) is a follow-up to an Autumn 2016 adaption of Himura Kiseki's weekly illustrations that publish on the Twitter every Monday. There's continuity and regular characters whose lives intersect with otherwise unrelated story arcs. But really it's just an exercise in randy situation comedies involving enormous breasts. The anime episodes are short and faithfully follow the various stories, but it still looks weird to me without the blue-ink monochrome of the source material.

Douki-chan
Never gonna happen.

Ganbare Dōki-chan (You Can Do It Dōki-chan) is another anime short and was paired with the Tawawa sequel for its debut because the Douki-chan artist and the Getsuyōbi no Tawawa artist collaborate on occasion. Unlike the Tawawa illustrations, Douki-chan follows a single story arc. Its titular heroine is a lovesick office lady who lacks the confidence to express her feelings to the co-worker she admires. Complicating the effort are myriad assertive rivals who always seem to appear at inopportune moments. Both Getsuyōbi no Tawawa 2 and Ganbare Dōki-chan have already concluded their 12-episode runs because they started toward the end of the Summer 2021 anime season. As anime adaptations go, they were all right, but it's good their episodes were short. I don't think either would have worked with full-length episodes.