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Dated 31 December 2018: Shima Rin from Yuru Camp△ is 2018's Girl of the Year

Rin
Best job ever.

I haven't consistently awarded a Girl of the Year title in quite a while, mostly for the same reasons why I only seem to update the world's longest-running English-language anime blog once per week these days. I actually tried regularly posting a Girl of the Week award on the Twitter this year, but fell behind once the Autumn 2018 season began. I did continue to keep track, though, so I can at least pretend I have objective metrics that I use with my made-up competition.

Akane
At least the weather's nice.

Just to recap, Shima Rin from Yuru Camp△ was Girl of the Quarter for Winter 2018. The Spring 2018 award went to Mishima Hitomi from Hinamatsuri. In a somewhat unexpected development, Hanesaki Ayano captured the Girl of the Quarter award for Summer 2018 despite not having the most Girl of the Week titles for that season. Girl of the Quarter for Autumn 2018 goes to Shinjou Akane from SSSS.GRIDMAN of course, one of the best shows of the year.

Hitomi
It's Hitomi's world; we're all just living in it.

Actually, all of the Girl of the Quarter winners are associated with the year's best shows. That's probably not much of a surprise. Likewise, those of y'all who watched Yuru Camp△ are probably unsurprised that Rin boat raced the Girl of the Year category. What is sort of surprising, though, is that Shinjou Akane from SSSS.GRIDMAN placed runner up. I fully expected Mishima Hitomi from Hinamatsuri to take the number-two spot, but her totally objective numerical rankings suffered because there were many episodes in which she had few or no scenes.

Dated 26 March 2018: Sora yori mo Tooi Basho and Yuru Camp△ are the best shows of Winter 2018

Rin
There's also the matter of Rin's excellent hair.

Yuru Camp△ finished its 12-episode run last week with an open-ended conclusion to its deeply satisfying season. As far the actual narrative goes, I can't exactly claim Laid-Back Camp was particularly eventful, but the show's real strengths came from its pleasantly relaxed mood and its freakishly endearing lead character, Rin, anyway. I do like the other characters as well, though, and I'm particularly relieved Nadeshiko turned out to be a lot better than I initially feared, but Rin basically carried Yuru Camp△ for me. She did, after all, clinch the Girl of the Quarter crown in week 10 by racking up most of my Girl of the Week awards. If you place any stock in B.S. numerical ratings, I did score Yuru Camp△ in first place for most of the season before Sora yori mo Tooi Basho passed it.

Hinata
"When angry count four; when very angry, swear."

There's actually one episode of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho left, but I'm all but certain to subjectively regard it as this season's best show regardless of how it actually plays out. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (see this post for more about the show's name) is exceptionally well done. I'm particularly impressed with how it pays off the numerous little heartfelt investments it made during the course of the series. Also of note is the astute directing which has juggled comedy, drama, and even a little horror with skillful touches of emotional resonance in the right amounts and at the right times.

Violet
Mission top secret, destination unknown.

Speaking of emotional resonance, compare Sora yori mo Tooi Basho with the much hyped Violet Evergarden for example, which turned out to be a hot mess of wildly disparate levels of quality depending on the episode. I felt nearly all of them were clumsy and overwrought, with the exception of two episodes (both of which credit Sawa Shinpei as the episode director, incidentally). In particular, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho has made much better use of its music than Violet Evergarden has, as I've mentioned before. All in all, I'm very impressed with Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, and I'm looking forward to its creative team's future projects.

Dated 11 September 2017: In re Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? light novels

SukaSuka Blu-rays and light novels
Spoilers all over these covers. Maybe.

I enjoyed the Shūmatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka? anime enough to import the first two (so far, anyway) Blu-ray discs and all five light novels. Fortuitously, a fan has translated all five of these books, leaving only the EX volumes and the SukaMoka sequels remaining. As you might expect, anime adaptations of light novels can benefit quite a bit in how they interpret the original works, presumably in ways not available to anime adaptations of manga. Anime adaptations of manga seem to be a bit more straightforward (often to their detriment), I assume out of deference to the mangaka or to avoid dealing with irate fans who won't accept an anime that changed something from the original manga.

But I digress.

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Dated 19 June 2017: SukaSuka found romance at the WorldEnd

Chtholly
Best Girl.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? continues to surpass all expectations. That an anime adaptation of a light novel with a ridiculous title (WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?) could turn out to be one of the best shows of the year is somewhat absurd, yet here we are. With 10 episodes in and two to go, I'm looking forward to the ending which was telegraphed in the first episode's 60-second prologue, but I'll also be sad to reach the end of the series, given that successful anime romances are so rare.

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Dated 17 December 2014: It's all right, we can always get more Chaikas

Chaika and Chaika
Speak no evil.

I didn't finish writing my introduction to the second season of Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle before it finished airing. I haven't read the light novels, so I don't know if the anime ending diverged from the books. I don't believe the light novel series themselves end for a few more months, so there's a good possibility there are some differences, despite how much Japan loves spoilers. I guess there's also the possibility the anime and the books have never been anything alike, and I wouldn't even know. (The Scrapped Princess novels by the same author are significantly different from the anime adaptation.)

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Dated 24 August 2014: I like Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun because Chiyo is remarkably orange

Chiyo
Tiny pictures are the way of love.

I got a late start on Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, but was convinced to give it a try after being alerted that it invoked the the Ayako Doctrine. Not that you need to be an Ayako fan in order to enjoy Nozaki-kun. The show is quite clever and funny. Really, the only reason why I wasn't already watching it was because I ran out of space in my schedule while I was following dreadful wrecks such as Rail Wars! Besides, I sort of already had a general idea of what Nozaki-kun might be like simply by the way it looks. (Hint: Chiyo's enormous polka dotted head ribbons never stop being amusing.) Specifically, I trusted that it was the show's execution more than its setup that would make or break the series for me. I was willing to wait to hear how other people responded to the initial episodes first.

Seo
Seo Yuzuki has been racking up Girl of the Year points all season.

Fortunately, the execution has been dead on. Through seven episodes, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is a solid comedy. However, I am somewhat fearful that its jokes may burn out quickly if there aren't more variations or diversions from the characters' quirky attributes. This is a common problem with a lot of anime—not just comedies—where many characters' defining shticks end up dominating their personalities. (See, for example, Cure March from Smile Precure! She's basically a Pokemon now, unable to say anything aside from her signature catchphrase.)

Kashima
This, for example, is basically Kashima's joke right here.

So far so good, though. Chiyo herself does not rely on any particular gimmick, unlike, say, Yuzuki.1 In fact, I attribute Chiyo's appeal to two factors: (1) Chiyo is a great point-of-view character. I particularly love how Ozawa Ari mutters her incredulous sotto voce reactions. This is my first time noticing this seiyuu, but I'm looking forward to more of her work in future comedic roles. (2) Chiyo is really orange. What? It's a good color.


Note 1: In re Seo Yuzuki: I enjoy how Sawashiro Miyuki is playing the basketcase Yuzuki so far. Everything she does is splendid, but I'm concerned she'll get pigeonholed if the series runs more than one cour.

Dated 18 July 2014: Spring 2014 season wrapup

Fredrica and Akira
This cat is so chill.

Just a few months ago, I noted I followed an unusually large (for me) number of shows. This time around, I tried following too many shows and ended up DNFing on shows I wanted to follow but didn't get around to finishing even though I never officially dropped them. Apart from that, there were no major deviations from my expectations addressed during my initial impressions.

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Dated 26 June 2014: Digging for Nanana's Buried Treasure

Nanana
Nanana looks okay for a dead girl.

Despite being consistently good and reigning as my top-rated show all season long before being nipped at the very end by Hitsugi no Chaika (indeed, it would get a No Bad Episodes ribbon except I've decided not to award that anymore for shows with less than 20 episodes), there's something unsatisfying about Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin (Nanana's Buried Treasure). Don't get me wrong, I certainly liked Nanana a lot as a whole. I was particularly impressed with its master detective character character, Tensai, and relieved that the male lead, Juugo, wasn't a passive, craven, potato. However, I was disappointed in its titular character, Nanana herself.

Tensai
The Best Girl in Nanana has a silly name.

There's nothing actually wrong with Nanana, and perhaps that's the real problem. She's the ghost of a murdered genius now stuck haunting a tiny apartment on the island she helped create, but nothing about her seems particularly genius or spectral. She spends all of her time playing video games. (Being a ghost, she doesn't need to sleep.) Aside from that, she doesn't do much else except eat pudding and occasionally dole out hints about her "buried treasure."

Nanana
Nanana actually isn't very aggressive for someone with
lingering regrets keeping her from the afterlife.

About that first part: Why does she eat if she's a ghost? How can she eat? Since she can eat, why does she eat only pudding? I guess she eats pudding because she likes how it tastes, but she has no interest at all in any other food? Did she enjoy nothing else when she was still alive? In a way, I guess Nanana's pudding diet is allegorical of Nanana herself. No matter how much you love pudding, anyone alive would get sick of the lack of variety. Likewise, no matter how much you might like Nanana, you'd want to see her display some other facet of herself. She might as well be an an A.I. or a Dutch wife.

Juugo
Nanana and Juugo should have fought more often.

Tragically, this is one of the rare examples of "girl roomie" anime, and it completely goes to waste. I'm grateful the show did not devolve into stupid mishaps testing Otaku Virtues or degenerate into something hopelessly contrived like Nozoki Ana (which was technically also about challenges to the Otaku Virtues). I didn't watch enough Bleach to see how it handled the situation, but I heard Rukia eventually moved out of Strawberry's closet. Aside from Rizelmine, I can't think of any other "girl roomie" shows off the top of my head, but surely there some example that occupies a zone between constantly freaking out about the girl in the room, and spending every waking moment ignoring her. (Oh, wait, IS <Infinite Stratos>.)

Chaika
I'm going to start planting screenshots from totally unrelated shows in my blog posts.

Anyway, Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin is really a lot better in basically all the areas I expected it to stumble, but I'm still left somewhat disappointed because it turned out to basically avoid everything I thought the show would actually be about. I suppose it's better this way. I'm not quite optimistic enough to believe it would have been a better show by focusing on either the "girl roomie" or "ghost girlfriend" dynamics. I certainly can't complain about getting a Grade A detective out of the affair. If only there were fewer jumping puzzles....