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Dated 27 August 2018: This Hand Maid May blog entry is not about May or maids

May and Kazuya
At least the apartment she's cleaning is also small.

I think it's been more than 10 years since I last re-watched Hand Maid May. I probably have a disproportionately positive perspective on what is ultimately a 20th century fan-service-laden harem comedy. I can't guarantee I would still hold it in high regard if I were to watch it for the first time now, but I do still remember it fondly. (The impetus for bringing Hand Maid May up again comes from the latest episode of Hataraku Saibou.)

Kazuya and Kasumi
That ladder bridge looks less and less safe as the years go by.

If anything, re-watching Hand Maid May now might help me clarify one aspect that I've always been sort of uncertain about. Namely, how old is Kasumi? Her current English Wikipedia entry describes her as an 18-year-old college student (with no citation), and the current Japanese Wikipedia entry claims she is a student at Kazuya's university (also with no citation). I don't remember this ever being established within the anime itself.

Kasumi and Kazuya
Further proof that Kasumi is right-handed..

It is pretty likely that she is at least out of high school, because there is a flashback in episode eight to Kasumi's graduation, and we never see her in a school uniform outside of those flashbacks. But since (as I understand it), compulsory education in Japan ends with middle school (after completing 9th grade, by U.S. reckoning), it's not impossible (albeit unlikely) that she dropped out to run the apartment complex, coach baseball, and flirt with Kazuya full-time.

Dated 22 September 2010: This Mid-Autumn Festival Asobi ni Iku yo! entry is not about Manami's mooncakes

Aoi and Manami
These are the worst disguises, ladies.

Remember that part in the movie Beautiful Girls where they talk about tits and asses? Not the scene with the preternaturally precocious Natalie Portman, but the one with Rosie O'Donnell arguing about how God is fair.

Momiji
Evil is such a strong word.

Yeah, apparently Futaba Aoi never got that memo. Either that or I've discovered where that suit hides its power source.

In other news, I don't understand why Aoi doesn't use that teleportation power of hers to snatch weapons and bomb triggers away from her opponents.

Dated 2 August 2010: Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi is horrible

Urashima and Otohime
Try a little tenderness, Urashima.

The Ayako Doctrine doesn't compel viewership, but it does compel consideration. In the case of Ookami-san, being the only source for Kawasumi Ayako in the summer of 2010, I stayed with the show too long. Granted, it had an amusing first episode, but that second episode was God awful—easily the single worst episode of anything I've seen this season. The third episode was actually a nice bit of storytelling with some parallels to the fable about the ugly duckling, and the fourth episode even focused primarily on Ayako's character, but it's not enough. I stayed with the show through five episodes—long enough to determine Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi just didn't have anything worth watching, even with the Kawasumi Ayako + Horie Yui + legs-that-go-up-to-her-neck trifecta. I'm done with it.

Manami, Eris, and Itokazu
Asobi ni Iku yo! is awesome because it is preposterous.

On the other hand, Asobi ni Iku yo! is amazing. Why didn't anyone tell me this show was actually good? I was sold when I found out the Girl Next Door was a crazy stalker. Also it has guns and cars. And swarming robots with "..." signs.

Dated 16 May 2010: B Gata H Kei needs to stick to its sex comedy roots

Yamada
The best part of B Gata H Kei episode five is the harmonica BGM.

B Gata H Kei has faltered a bit by departing from the dirty jokes and physical comedy that powered its early episodes. The recent introduction of Yamada's ojousama rival is an unwelcome development. I have to assume Kanejou is a staple of the original 4koma, but this is one example of where an anime should should not follow the source material too closely. This is not to say her appearance drags the show down per se, but there is just not a compelling reason to introduce a second rival in such a short series. (Although technically the B Gata H Kei anime already does not follow the original comic too explicitly. For example, there is is a lot less masturbation in the anime.)

Kanejou
Suddenly shoujo. And how.

I say "second rival" because Mayu already exists as the common-type rival. Or more accurately, from a traditional perspective, Yamada exists as Mayu's rival. A lot of B Gata H Kei's charm comes from it's twofold reversal of roles. First, the story is told from the female love interest's point of view instead of that of the presumptive harem comedy protagonist. Second, the sex bomb Yamada is the primary love interest rather than the good-natured, painfully earnest childhood friend moe blob.

Kosuda and Mayu
There's probably something symbolic about this
picture, but damned if I know what it is.

Telling the story from Yamada's perspective would be an interesting change of pace even if she wasn't a sex-crazed ditz. I've seen this story from Male Protagonist's side far too many times. Reversing the point of view is refreshing enough on its own, but making Kosuda a decent guy completely sells it. Just by virtue of his not being a cretin like Junichi from Da Capo or a twit like the cookie cutter male leads in most harem comedies, Kosuda joins the ranks of Hand Maid May's Kazuya, the original To Heart anime's Hiroyuki (both stand-up decent fellows), and VanDread's Hibiki (a smart-ass punk) as a non-odious harem comedy male protagonist. I guess he kind of has to be if we are to appreciate Yamada's viewpoint in the slightest.

Kosuda
I'm actually quite impressed Kosuda uses the viewfinder
of his digital camera instead of its LCD screen.

I describe Mayu as Yamada's traditional rival because Mayu fills the Akari role of the childhood friend with the inside track. Expanding on what others have noted, I see Yamada filling a stereotypical role as the sex bomb that is too intimidating for the meek male protagonist to handle, driving him deeper into the too-perfect safe girl's comforting embrace.

Yamada
Yamada deres Kosuda to his knees.

That Yamada and Kosuda stand a genuine chance of eating from the tree of knowledge (based on what I infer from the comic's more aggressive nature) fills me with amazement such a thing can still exist in this genre. As B Gata H Kei does for sex what Hatsukoi Limited does for romance, it's no wonder this is nearly my favorite show this season, outpaced only by an increasingly strong Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood as it nears its epic conclusion. Now if only B Gata H Kei would only just get on with it. You've got a guy in scoring position, Yamada. Don't try to draw a walk.

Dated 16 April 2010: B Gata H Kei episode two has a Girl Next Door

Kazuki, Yamada, and Takeshita
Does this count as a spoiler?

I'm not really a fan of B Gata H Kei's Girl Next Door. It's probably because she's also a Clumsy Girl and I despise dojikkos as a whole. Besides, they don't even call her a Girl Next Door in the show; they call her a Childhood Friend. I don't understand why Japan doesn't get this.

Takeshita and Yamada
Holy crap. THIS CHAIR.

In other news, if B Gata H Kei keeps this up, Yamada is seriously going to challenge Aoba from Cross Game and Shimizu from Major season six as Girl of the Year, 2010. This is most unexpected. Takeshita is also going to place well as the clear voice of reason à la Nobu from Lovely Complex.

Dated 4 December 2009: Admitting to an anime perversion

Su, Naru, Shinobu, Motoko, and Kitsune in the Love Hina ED
This was considered pretty good quality at the time.

All right, here goes: I never skip the opening and closing credits of any episode of anime I watch. That's right, I watch every single OP and ED of every single episode, even for episodes I've already seen before. The only time I skip an OP or ED is when the encode does not include them (as with many of these old ass Love Hina first-generation digisubs that I am sort of re-watching right now).

Shimizu dancing in the rain
I admit dancing in the rain helped Shimizu win Best Girl of the Year.

Nearly every single time I've made the admission, the response has been incredulous. Yes, I know it's a very simple matter to set up a hotkey that jumps the video ahead 90 seconds (plus, better containers and, you know, actual store-bought discs permit you to chapter skip), but I don't watch every OP and ED because I'm too lazy or ignorant to skip them. I watch them every time because I consider them part of the show.

Keiichi and Belldandy in the first ED of the Aa! Megami-sama animated series
All right, I haven't bought the Ah! My Goddess series DVDs yet, okay?
At least I've purchased The Adventures of Mini-Goddess,
the OVA, the movie, and the manga already.

And since I consider OPs and EDs part of the show, how much I like or dislike an OP or ED affects how much I like the show as a whole. Disliking the Lucky Star OP is one of the reasons I've never finished watching the series. I do find Lucky Star a little boring (and I straight-up dislike Lucky Channel), but I probably would have finished watching it by now if I really liked the OP instead. Likewise, I am grateful the Macademi Wasshoi OP is horrible, because it guaranteed I would find the series not just terrible, but completely unwatchable after the first episode.

Winry
I like First Winry better even though she doesn't
have massive hips or manhands.

However, since I consider OPs and EDs "part of the show," does this mean I consider OPs and EDs canon? Well, no, although I suspect there are times we would all like to think of scenes depicted within OPs and EDs as canonical. For example, Shimizu dancing in the rain during Major season four, or the Winry's-daily-life EDs from either of the Fullmetal Alchemist series. These sequences are reasonably plausibly canon—as much so as the Aa! Megami-sama TV "date" ED which we know from the manga is canon.

George and Miyuki in the Kaze no Yojimbo OP
A bodyguard and his poor little rich girl.

What about ones like the Kaze no Yojimbo OP? Depending on your point of view, it might be nice to think those events actually happened, and from a certain perspective I can see how it's at least plausible, but I think it's more likely the scenes are pure misdirection—perhaps to divert some attention from what the show is really about. Not that OPs and EDs can't include misdirection and still be canon. Princess Tutu, I'm looking in your direction....

Ahiru
Ahiru as a duck. Unless you're ADV,
in which case it's Duck as a duck.

So what is worse? That I never skip OPs and EDs or that I care about them? Surely it's not that strange, is it? On days like these, I'm probably lucky I leave comments disabled.

Dated 19 October 2009: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood ED3 returns Winry to former glory

Winry
Winry at work.

There are a few common complaints about Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Among them include changed voices and a less buxom Winry. Now, the matter about the voices is not going to go away, but, as Epi pointed out earlier, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood now sports a new ED. This second third ED powers up Winry to her previous dimensions. This is unlikely to affect Winry's in-show character design, but it seems likely the changes for the ED are intended to quiet some of the grumbling while hearkening back to the "Motherland" ED from the first anime season—the one about Winry killing time at home.

Winry
Winry playing make-believe.

Another common Fullmetal Alchemist complaint is that Winry does not really serve much of a purpose in the show. She has been called mere eye candy and a Mary Sue, for example. Both allegations have some merit, but I don't think these characteristics necessarily diminish Winry's importance in the show. Do not underestimate the Girl Next Door. She reminds Al and Ed of home.

Winry
I think we all know what this phone call is about.

Moreover, I submit that it is necessary to include aspects in a show not necessarily dedicated to advancing the primary plot. I am not advocating filler for filler's sake, but I don't think many will disagree if I claim the semi-parody Mustang-centric episode of the first Fullmetal Alchemist anime contributed in meaningful ways to the overall success of the series by expanding the role of costars in ways we might not otherwise have seen. Likewise, the old "Winry killing time at home" and now the new "Winry at work" EDs flesh out some additional details about the character—in this case, nothing we didn't already know or couldn't have assumed, but it's still nice to have it there.

Dated 10 July 2009: Spring 2009 wrap-up

Kusada
Kusada finally breaks. Better hang on, kid.

With a few exceptions, most of the shows I watched last season bear one thing in common: very few anime fans from my corner of the Internet (the best and worst of whom can be found at #raspberryheaven) would give them a chance. Even Hatsukoi Limited, which I previously mentioned is the best show from the spring 2009 season, attracted relatively few followers. (Most were too busy watching K-On! and searching for Mio fan art.) Those that actually watched Hatsukoi Limited instead of merely asking, "What's so great about another school romance show?" found a combination of light comedy and whimsical tales of first love so deftly executed I have no reservations naming it the top show of the season ahead of the initial (and already controversial) episodes of the second season of Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu.

Yuki
Yuki looks bored, even for Yuki.

Haruhi II still secures second, and will presumably do well during the summer 2009 season, even if (or in my view, especially if) there really are eight episodes of "Endless Eight." That would be awesome, particularly if it drives conventional-thinking fans into sending Kyoto Animation furious letters with death threats which they can include in a The End of Haruhi movie that makes little sense but includes a bitchin' fight scene. (I secretly hope there are 15,514 episodes of "Endless Eight," and that the entire ordeal is somehow Yuki's fault and not Haruhi's at all.) I bet all the people who can't stand "Endless Eight" are the same people who skip OPs and EDs.

Cal and Zwei
Natalie Portman from Leon joins the Phantom cast.

Nobody ever believes me, but Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom is actually really good—good enough to finish third for spring 2009 (and currently lead summer 2009). Bee Train influences are obvious, but this is not El Cazador de la Bruja or Madlax. For one thing, there's a male lead. Moreover, none of the female leads have displayed any signs of lesbianism. In fact, Ein apparently really likes getting oil massages from creepy old guys. Bio Concerto is worth its weight in gold, people. I'm telling you.

Aoba
Aoba, you're not even trying.

A lot of people won't watch sports anime in general or baseball anime in particular. Cross Game is at its best when it's not about baseball, to tell you the truth. I enjoy it a great deal more than Touch and what I've read of H2, but the actual baseball games in Cross Game are not as compelling as the slice-of-life stories about Kou and Aoba.

Goro
You're not exactly facing the Taisho Yakyuu Musume team now, Goro.

Major season five takes the fifth spot. I'm still watching it as there are still unsubbed episodes, but I won't be including it with the summer 2009 lineup. [Update: Advanced to fifth place after episode 120.] Assuming the fifth season is the final season of Major, I have to say this was an excellent series and I really appreciate the epic nature of the show, following Goro from childhood to adulthood. Were I to include all five seasons of Major as one work, it would easily take the top spot. Incidentally, Shimizu Kaoru still leads in the Girl of the Year rankings for 2009. This one is going to be a boat race.

Takako
Takako contemplates the future of Kannagi.

The Kannagi episode 14 OVA is every bit as good as the series. That it only places sixth should tell you just how good the competition is this time around. I hope Kannagi gets a second season.

Cure Peach
There's a storm brewing, Peach-han.

Fresh Pretty Cure ranks seventh, but has moved up quite a bit in the summer 2009 rankings due to the fully awesome Cure Passion arc, currently underway. This is another show nobody but Precure fans seem willing to watch, but the Setsuna/Love friendship really is compelling. Every episode recently has had the kind of OH SHIT moments typically attributed to shounen jive or cheesy Gundam switcheroos. Speaking of shounen jive, Fresh Pretty Cure is very light on the "standing around talking instead of fighting" bits, and when Love cuts loose, she starts out in a normal voice but gets exponentially louder and faster (it's awesome, trust me) until you think she's about to ace someone square in the face. There is too much beam spamming, though, but episode 23 is expected to include brutal fisticuffs, so we're back to the basics. Kickass.

Ana Coppola, Black Custom
Needs more Ana Coppola, Black Custom.

Eighth goes to the second OVA episode of Ichigo Mashimaro Encore. This series also really could use another season. It remains entertaining and funny, and definitely does not deserve the extra baggage that keeps many people from watching it.

Alice
If Alice isn't happy, no one's happy.

Pandora Hearts is good, but weird, so anyone that might watch it probably is watching it already, and no amount of cajoling will convince anyone else to give it a try, alas. I can understand why it doesn't have broader appeal.

Ed
Ed doesn't seem to obsess about his height as much this time.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood would have fared better if it hadn't felt like watching a really long clip show. It should also do better in the rankings this summer as it diverges more from the first anime. Curiously, I'll watch countless episodes of "Endless Eight" but the deja vu sensation of the early Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood episodes really turned me off. Or maybe it's because Brotherhood halved Winry's cup size. Could be.

Mikuru
Asahina's daily life.

The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan got a lot better as the season went on, but it's still not as good as Petit Eva or the various Marimite specials, for example.

Junichi and Kotori
No! Keep your damn dirty hands off Kotori's hat!

The second episode of Da Capo: If came out during spring 2009. Pity it wasn't as good as the first installment. Then again, no Kotori arc is ever going to seem satisfying as long as Junichi remains such a putz.

Tomoe
I'm still amazed Mamiko Noto voiced Tomoe as a straight-up serious character.

Queen's Blade is what it is. I think it would have been infinitely better if Tomoe (the miko character) had—for no discernible reason—gone the entire series without getting naked .

Shuri
Say "cheese."

Asura Cryin' faded a bit, or at least my interest did. I like all the colors, though. [Update: The end of Asura Cryin' got really shounen and kinda stopped being fun at all. Why can't it just be about humping your ghost girlfriend and every once in a while robot fights? I guess I won't be watching the second season, alas.]

Ryoko and Churuya
Say "cheese."

Nyoron Churuya-san started out funny, but got a little tiresome towards the end, whereas its Haruhi-chan counterpart managed to improve and keep me looking forward to Haruhi II.

Chi
"Chi's!"

Good Lord, there were a lot of shows spring season. And I'm not just saying that because I watched a hundred-some episodes of Chi's Sweet Home so I could start Chi's New Address. Even with three-minute episodes, that is a lot of Chi. I could be burned out on all the kittenness, but Chi's New Address doesn't seem as good as Chi's Sweet Home. Needs more bear cat, for one thing. I also keep waiting for Chi to finally age, but for the time being she remains Yotsuba in kitten form.

Tamaki
Needs more Tamaki.

The first episode of To Heart 2 ad plus wasn't very good. It's pretty forgettable, alas.

Mio
I would have kept watching K-On! had it replaced Mio with Yomi.

I didn't drop any shows aside from the following series I previously mentioned: Eden of the East (8) > Shin Mazinger Z (3) > Saki (2) > Valkyria Chronicles (3) > K-On! (4) > Higepiyo (3) > Shangri-La (1).

Yoichi
Needs more Perrine-H. Clostermann.

I should probably exclude OVAs from future such lists. I already leave off movies. Besides, it's not possible to "drop" a movie or a one-episode OVA. Well, I guess unless one abandons it midway. I probably should have done that with The Sky Crawlers. That movie should have had a Strike Witches crossover wherein the 501st Joint Fighter Wing wipes them all out in five minutes and the movie ends. Sheesh. The damn thing felt like it was 15,513 fortnights long. (Yes, I know. Yes, I know that too.)