Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 15 October 2019: I'm pretending to watch Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia for reasons other than Ishtar

Ishtar, Mash, Fou, and Ritsuka
Potato-kun, are you wearing capri pants on this expedition?

The actual story and lore associated with Fate/Grand Order is incomprehensible to me because everything I know about it comes from secondary or tertiary sources such as people on the Twitter talking about the game, or from its fan art, or from people on the Twitter talking about the game's fan art. And while I have a semi-coherent understanding of the original Fate/stay night game, the currently airing Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia) anime is so removed from those origins that what I do know doesn't help at all. Compounding the problem, the anime seems to be adapting the seventh major arc of the FGO game, so there's an implied understanding that viewers should be familiar with the equivalent of six previous seasons. After the prologue and two proper episodes (plus the Fate/Grand Order -First Order- OVA), I'm still sort of lost.

Ishtar
I can't rule out the possibility Marisa stole Ishtar's shit.

Thankfully, it seems recognizing references or knowing all the lore is not strictly necessary to enjoying the Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia anime. For one thing, it looks fantastic, and is probably the first solid example of a show where I can clearly identify 3DCG elements without having any of it bother me at all. (Okay, the lions bother me a little bit.) For example, flowing water actually looks as if it belongs in the same world. Additionally, the action scenes are entertaining, albeit rather busy. There is a lot of shit going on and a lot of cuts that seem designed to impress via fancy animation. Well, they are fancy, and I am impressed, but I think I'd prefer a less frantic style. Really, though, these are minor complaints on my part at best (even the stuff about the incomprehensible lore). As a matter of general principle, I'll almost certainly continue to watch Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia for as long as it runs, providing it periodically features Ishtar doing Ishtar-type things.

Dated 17 September 2019: Senki Zesshou Symphogear is an anime miracle

Maria
I like this power-up, but I admit I was hoping for another Gungnir jacking.

I'm going to start out by insisting it's not just preschool girls who enjoy shows about mahou shoujo punching things. It's okay for boys to like them too. I've been on board with this concept since at least 2004 with My-HiME, First Pretty Cure, and their subsequent sequels. In 2012, Senki Zesshou Symphogear took this idea, expanded it to include singing while punching things, and raised both the intensity and absurdity levels. From my seat in the stands, this was an anime game-breaking home run. Amazingly, the popularity of Symphogear has proven sufficient enough that we gotten five seasons of it, all five of which are currently streaming on the Crunchyroll. Moreover, Discotek has even licensed it for a U.S. Blu-ray release next year.

Hibiki and Chris
Somehow, despite all the shit they've seen, it's still
possible for them to stare at something in disbelief.

Urgings on the Twitter for followers to "watch Symphogear" has turned into a meme of sorts, but I assure you the sentiment behind these admonitions is genuine. Granted, the appeal of magikal girls singing while punching things isn't always immediately apparent to every anime fan, but there's an old graph that accurately captures the trajectory of impressions by initially skeptical viewers. It's not easy ramping up the stakes continuously, but Symphogear has kept its intensity up through all five seasons. Now on the verge of its series finale, expectations are pretty high, but Symphogear has never let me down before.

Dated 9 July 2018: Girls with Guns ~The Merchandising~

There's this artist on the Twitter and the Pixiv who, over the span of several years, has published numerous illustrations of "Girls with Guns" doing fan-friendly type things. The artist does draw other things as well, including a fair amount of TYPE-MOON stuff, but the "Bionic Joshi Kosei" seems to be one of the more successful original characters in FP Works' ARMS NOTE portfolio. So much so that there's already a Figma of the character, and now pre-orders are available for a 1/7th scale figurine scheduled for release later in October 2018.

Bionic Joshi Kosei
Nice shoes.

The Bionic JK figurine is listing for ¥17,900 (something like $170), which seems sort of incredible to me, but possibly (probably) I'm just completely out of touch when it comes to how much these sort of things cost in general. In any case, I'm all in favor of supporting artists who promote their original works, particularly when they're delivering GAME-BREAKING HOME RUNS, so I encourage all y'all to get in on this if girls with guns and collecting anime figures both intersect with your particular interests. It's only $170. What else were you gonna do with that money anyway?

Dated 28 May 2018: GeGeGe no Kitarou is surprisingly informative

Neko Musume, Nezumi Otoko, and Kitarou
Well, she's not THAT tall. There are just a lot of short characters.

I don't know very much about yokai or Japanese fairy tales in general. In fact, probably most of what I know comes from that one episode of Azumanga Daioh. Oh, and I guess I've gleaned enough from other anime over the years to become racist toward kappas. Good job, School Rumble. In comes GeGeGe no Kitarou, a family show about yokai. Because it's heavily aimed at children, it also provides a lot of background and explanations about the various monsters of the week and their traditional lore. Hence, I get to learn along with the young audiences about yokai and how they might fit in the modern world.

Mana and Neko Musume
Also, she's wearing heels.

As far as the anime's other merits go, it's reasonably well done and I enjoy Sawashiro Miyuki as Kitarou. It's a good enough show that I'm still interested week-to-week, but I can't claim I'm at all in the target audience demographic. I do have to admit that I only started watching because of all the attention GeGeGe no Kitarou received before the season started due to the radical changes it made to one of the supporting character's designs. Originally known as Hakaba Kitarou, the franchise began in the '60s as a manga series and has appeared on television every decade since. The character design for Neko Musume has evolved each time around. However, her appearance in the 2018 iteration is entirely unrecognizable compared to her original form. It's a good hook, and I'm okay with shows making these types of changes from time to time, even if it means making a shrimpy character really tall and giving her legs that go up to her neck.

Dated 30 July 2010: The SS in Amagami SS stands for Sexhair Supremacy

Junichi
I hope you live somewhere that only gets
four hours of sunlight in the winter.

Now that's more like it. After dragging my way through the constantly cringeworthy Haruka arc of Amagami SS, I find the beginning of the Kaoru arc much more promising. Junichi was still completely shell-shocked by his soul-crushing disappointment at being stood up on Christmas two years ago. (I bet you she's the crazy-broken girl. I just know it.) The dude waited around for her until nightfall, for crying out loud. But evidently all it took to pull him back from the brink and prevent him from constructing a hikikomori anxiety womb for himself was having the sense slapped back into him by his childhood friend with the persistently tousled hair.

Kaoru and Junichi
Swing and a miss.

There's a lesson to be learned here: Annoying, whiny, bitch-ass male anime protagonists can always be improved by having someone slap the shit out them. This was true of Renton Thurston, and it's true of Potato-kun here. The dude can't take a punch, though. Kaoru hits him like one time in the gut and puts him in the infirmary for the rest of the day. I guess he's lucky he didn't end up in a hospital—or at the vet.

Kaoru and Junichi
DOWN GOES FRAZIER!

Aside from having the best hair of the season, Kaoru also has much more charisma than Haruka, even if she is recycling some tsundere idioms. I'll give that a pass because Amagami SS is still a galge adaptation. There's not really time for actual character development in a four-episode arc, especially when part of that limited screen time is already blocked off for requisite library petting. (Not Haruka's kind of petting.)

Kaoru in a flower bed
If you can only afford either Benadryl or Trojans
at Rite Aid, go with the Benadryl, Potato-kun.

To fill that hole, Junichi has resorted to stroking his imagination in order to placate his anime-blogging detractors with some of the fan service that was curiously absent from the Haruka arc. Kaoru's hair alone is a fan service GAME-BREAKING HOME RUN, so squeezing in some purely gratuitous slices of cheesecake should put Amagami SS back into the black, even if Potato-kun's fantasies are a little ambitious. I guarantee a loser like Junichi would have debilitating allergies that prevent him from ruining Kaoru for pollination regardless of his best efforts.

Dated 30 December 2004: My-HiME

Kuga Natsuki
Kuga Natsuki

My-HiME is wonderful. Magikal girls kicking the shit out of each other with a unique variety of powers to a Yuki Kajiura soundtrack with superlovelycharacterdesign is an anime GAME-BREAKING HOME RUN.