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 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 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 4 January 2022: Sorairo Utility needs a longer course

Minami
This is product placement, isn't it?

Sorairo Utility (Sky Blue Utility) is only a single 15-minute OVA? That's it? You're kidding me! Well, that leaves me with one less show than I was expecting to follow during the Winter 2022 anime season. That's unfortunate, because it was nicely done. There is no shortage of shows about girls who obsess over a particular hobby, but this felt much more natural and realistic than the typical fare.

Ayaka, Minami, and Haruka
It happens.

I learned of Sorairo Utility from one of the hundreds of artists I sort of follow on the Twitter. Specifically, the director, Saitou Kengo occasionally mused about wanting to make a girls-playing-golf anime, and then suddenly it became a reality. I have no idea if there is ever going to be any more, but I'd certainly be in favor of it.

Reines and Waver
I did appreciate Reines sassing Waver.

Sort of unrelated aside from also coming out on 31 December 2021 is Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note - Tokubetsu-hen (Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace note TV Anime's Special Edition), a short movie about magic shenanigans involving Waver's classmates from his pre-Fate/Zero days. I feel like I would have liked this more if I had a greater grasp on TYPE-MOON lore in general, but possibly not understanding is the normal and expected state.

Dated 2 November 2021: Maybe Saihate no Paladin is a better book than it is an anime

William and Mary
I would not have known she was a mummy if the series hadn't said so.

I wasn't planning on watching Saihate no Paladin (The Faraway Paladin) this season, but the first episode was better than I was expecting, and it turns out Hocchan is in this. When I say it was "better than I was expecting," I'm not suggesting it blew me away. Rather, I was just relieved it avoided most of the dumb isekai x JRPG nonsense I expected. Also, the storytelling was deliberate and did not rush through its setup, and I appreciated that.

William
There were no horny-baby jokes in this show.

That said, the pacing does seem sort of slow for an anime. Or, I guess I should clarify, it seems slow for a single-cours anime. I'm four episodes through its 12-episode run, and I have no idea what its plot or main story is going to be. This would be fine if subsequent seasons are planned, but it does seem as if a read-the-books non-ending ending is the most likely outcome. I have heard the books are good, so maybe that is the way to go. Then again, I've heard "the books are good" said about a whole lot of stuff which only turned out to be good for sufficiently broad definitions of good, so why should this be any different?

Mary, Blood, and Gus
An isekai protagonist and his three undead parents can be a family.

Well, the isekai aspect is relatively muted so far. Where it has appeared, it mostly relates to William's dissatisfaction with his old life and his commitment to becoming a better person now that he's been given a second chance. Notably, he seems committed to following the less traveled path of becoming a better person by, you know, being a better person instead of coasting down the "becoming a better person by exploiting a fortuitous cheat power and basking in the adoration of comely, nubile companions who are attached to him" sluice. So yeah, it's at least plausible the books are actually good.

Dated 26 October 2021: Komi Can’t Communicate is worth your time even if you have to watch it on the Netflix

Komi
This is the good stuff.

I was only mildly interested in watching the Komi-san wa, Komyushou desu. (Komi Can’t Communicate) anime because I lost interest in the manga fairly quickly. I mean, the basic premise is fine, and the characters are all right, but there wasn't enough going for it to help it compete against all the other titles I'm reading. Honestly, the best thing in its favor was Komi's bug-eyed nervous face when she's confronted with something emotionally challenging.

Komi
Komi's non-anxious form looks sort of weird, honestly.

Fortunately for the Komi-san anime, this visage is something the anime captured perfectly. The anime also devoted a surprising amount of attention to the shading and texture of Komi's stockinged legs, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised it got her comic form right. This brings me to my main reason for suggesting the Komi-san wa, Komyushou desu. anime is worth a shot: Its animation is unusually high-effort. The production values for this show went above and beyond what I would expect of a series that takes place largely at a school. There are visual flourishes everywhere. It's impressive without becoming distracting.

Komi and Tadano
Such is the power of ditching gym class.

With regard to the Netflix, the U.S. release is a few weeks behind the Japanese one. (And it's even a week-by-week release instead of a binge-friendly dump like most typical shows on the Netflix.) Consequently, you may have seen some criticism about the lack of translated on-screen text in the official release, especially compared against what you might expect from, say, a fansub. There is a lot of text that was not translated in the first episode of the official release, but that episode had A LOT of text in general.

Tadano
For real, that episode was wall-to-wall on-screen text.

But to be clear, we're not talking about an assault against typesetting in general (cf. the FUNimation's infamous three-line attacks), but rather the Netflix appears to have prioritized what on-screen text was critical to translate and what it could omit because it would either be apparent by context or be too difficult to read without pausing. In that sense, I'm okay with those decisions (at least for the first episode, anyway). Purists who want everything translated, even if it means pausing scenes at various points to read it all will be better off hunting for fansubs, but I don't think viewers who prefer to watch episodes all the way through without interruptions will find the specific omissions in the official release objectionable.

Dated 5 October 2021: 86 Eighty Six season 2 two looks promising

Lena
That's still in regs, right?

I'm going to go ahead and say that 86 Eighty Six manages to avoid being bad by being good. There is certainly a "people die when they are killed" logic to this statement, but I guess what I really mean is the series continues to overachieve in comparison with my expectations for it. Much of this is pessimism on my part, because I've heard from the beginning that the source material is good. However, those sorts of claims aren't very reassuring since "good" light novels typically seem to only be good for sufficiently generous definitions of good.

Ernst
Ain't you Shinichi's dad from Detective Conan?

Fortunately, the execution in the case of 86 Eighty Six actually is good. There's basically always something in every episode that's done well enough to be noteworthy, and the story is also sound. The various twists remain unexpected (but are also not total ass pulls) and do keep the series interesting even though much of it sounds pretty cheesy if you're just describing it to someone. Notably, I was already spoiled about a resolution to the previous season's ending because I saw the cover to one of the later light novels, but even knowing that did not ruin the effect provided by the 1st First episode of the 2nd Second cours. I'm looking 4 forward 2 to watching more.

Dated 13 October 2020: More Autumn 2020 first impressions

Nana and Nanao
The front of Nanao's uniform reminds me of a Heinz bottle.

Adding onto this post about shows airing during the Autumn 2020 cours, my early top show is Munou na Nana (Talentless Nana) which had a surprisingly solid first episode, albeit one that relied on breaking from expectations, so you're better off avoiding spoilers and watching the first episode blind. Unfortunately, it looks as if the source manga isn't rated highly, so potentially the story doesn't fare so well later on. More optimistically, perhaps the low scores are merely due to problems the anime adaptation can fix.

Syalis
The horror of an anime bed made of concrete.

I'm more pessimistic about Maou-jou de Oyasumi (Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle) which is one of those shows with a neat idea that runs the risk of wearing out its welcome if it turns out to only offer one basic joke that it repeats ad infinitum. I think the source manga remains well liked, so maybe I should have more faith it its potential for creativity.

Inuyasha and Kagome
I don't even know why Inuyasha himself is a dog except that it's in his name.

Despite being almost entirely ignorant about InuYasha, I'm reasonably sure its sequel (spinoff?) will probably be at least sort of good thanks to having a respectable pedigree. Kyoukai no Rinne is actually the only Takahashi Rumiko thing I've ever seen, but that was pretty good. Her other works are popular, and I remember people being nuts for InuYasha back in the day, so Hanyou no Yashahime (Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon) at least has odds in its favor.

Tsukasa and Nasa
Mi casa es Tsukasa.

Tonikaku Kawaii (TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You) also has a pedigree, but not one quite as good. It has probably already referenced its creator's other works a few times by now unbeknownst to me, though. The first two episodes were fine, but not outstanding, and I'm already quite tired of Potato-kun's penchant for freaking out. It's one of those "comic" behaviors that isn't as objectionable in manga form, but doesn't translate well to anime. I'm also worried a bunch of wacky cockblockers will move in with the couple. In fact, I can probably think of a whole lot of different ways this could go wrong, even though I think the manga remains popular. There are a lot of shows this season, so I'm not going to be as patient with it as I might have been just a few months ago.