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Dated 27 September 2022: Summertime Render turned out to be pretty good

Hizuru and Shinpei
He'll be fine.

I haven't seen much discussion of Summertime Render during its two-cours run. This is understandable due to, ah, let's just say, "a variety of reasons," but it is sort of a shame because it's one of the better anime I've watched during 2022 so far. It's not the best one, but it's at least in good company, even if I can't quite figure out whether it's supposed to be Summertime Render, Summer Time Render, Summertime Rendering, or Summer Time Rendering. What a mess.

Shinpei, Ushio, and Mio
Ushio spends much of the show only wearing a swimsuit, but she gets by.

I started watching it because I figured it was going to be an anime about a ghost girlfriend haunting Potato-kun. It turns out it's more about time loops and the challenges faced when confronted by an adversary who is also able to exploit time loops. The events and where they fit in the timeline start to get somewhat complex, and does require a fair amount of attention if the viewer hopes to keep track of who knows what at each particular point in time. Fortunately, the characters have ways of copying and transfering memories quickly, so the show doesn't get bogged down with constant exposition to bewildered accomplices.

Mio
I like Mio's SAKANA shirt.

There is still one episode left in the Summertime Render anime, and I have no idea whether this will be mostly an epilogue, or whether it's going to be a high-intensity scramble to wring out the best-possible outcome from one last opportunity. Hell, I haven't even ruled out the chance that it's going to conclude the series on a cliffhanger. This is a cliffhanger-heavy show in general, so it would be in keeping with the tone of many of the previous episodes. Expect some griping on my part if that happens, though. Still, the source manga has concluded, so things will probably be fine for the final episode. Probably. Maybe.

Dated 20 September 2022: I hope Lycoris Recoil and Engage Kiss can both stick their landings

Chisato and Takina
What are you thinking about?

You might see Lycoris Recoil and Engage Kiss compared every so often (and I guess that's what I'm doing now), but they don't share much in common. Well, I guess they both have Aniplex and A1-Pictures behind them, and both anime air on Saturdays, but the shows themselves aren't similar. Also, both are headed towards a big finish this weekend, although I can see how Lycoris Recoil might earn itself a sequel, depending on how things go.

Chisato
Look, there aren't even any bullet holes!

To be clear, Lycoris Recoil is a significantly better show than Engage Kiss. I like both, although for different reasons, but there's a good reason why fans of Lycoris Recoil are so enthused. It features a well-balanced mix of serious drama with genuine stakes, wacky high jinks, and significant amounts of entertaining (albeit unrealistic) gun play.

Sharon and Shuu
My opinions about SHARON HOLYGRAIL are wholly positive.

On the other hand, Engage Kiss has a combat nun sensibly named SHARON HOLYGRAIL who only takes off her habit's headpiece during sex. It also features a high school demon girl whose motivation for being so devoted to Potato-kun is somewhat unclear. She at least seems willing to accept she must have had a good reason. Maybe she found instructions scrawled on her hand telling her to be, and just assumed there was a good reason that she merely forgot.

Dated 26 July 2022: Lycoris Recoil is excellent

Chisato
I don't know that Center Axis Relock is the best stance to adopt
while leaping in the air, but I also don't know that it's not.

I wasn't planning on watching Lycoris Recoil because I thought it was another show about girls running a cafe. It turns out it's about girls shooting people. And sometimes running a cafe. I suppose I might have guessed firearms could factor into the series, considering the word recoil is right in the title, but I was surprised at the attention to detail given to its gun-handling scenes. I'm much more used to anime characters who can't even be bothered to use the sights. In contrast, the characters in Lycoris Recoil handle their weapons in convincing ways that reveal the production team clearly did their research, presumably modeling scenes after real-world examples.

Takina
I guess Takina's washing her hair tonight.

This is not to say the gunplay in Lycoris Recoil is entirely authentic, but rather that it looks really good in ways that most anime don't bother with, so I appreciate the extra effort. This is just one factor in the show's favor though. So far, this series has been pretty fun to watch. The story has also kept the viewer in the dark about some obviously significant events that have influenced the setting. It has been doling out information, but in chunks, which is quite an improvement over the more typical practice of just dumping it all out in the first episode.

Fuki and Chisato
It's not Chisato's fault she's better.

The dynamic between the two leads is also engaging. If I had to provide a complaint about Lycoris Recoil, I suppose Chisato's wall-to-wall genki boisterousness is sort of a lot to handle sometimes. Nevertheless, this fits the rest of her personality well, and I enjoy the confidence and casual ease with which she approaches her tasks. Anzai Chika, who played Reina in Hibike! Euphonium, is in this, but she's voicing Chisato. This is sort of surprising since Reina (at least superficially) seems a lot more like Chisato's no-nonsense partner, Takina.

Tokyo Skytree
Somehow, this is Chisato's fault. Allegedly.

Much of the imagery surrounding Lycoris Recoil hints as more ominous developments in the coming episodes. As an original anime, chances are good there will be an actual ending of some sort, or at least not some manner of non-ending ending such as those plaguing shows constrained by external source material. Consequently, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, particularly considering how often it has pleasantly surprised me so far. Lycoris Recoil has done a lot of things well, so I'm eager to see what it will do next.

Dated 12 July 2022: I'm too old to enjoy Engage Kiss, but I still do

Kisara
You can tell she's serious because she changed clothes.

I have to concede Engage Kiss is "bad" by the standards I'm probably supposed to apply when evaluating anime. It embodies a number of qualities I associate with juvenile shows that cater to teenage boys. For one thing, the protagonist is a schlub who starts the series with two women (well, one woman, and one high school girl who is actually a demon, so she's probably hundreds of years old, if conventions hold) who are interested in him romantically for no clear reason.

Kisara
It's like Fruits Basket Face, except less sane.

However, the first two episodes do embrace a refreshingly carefree approach to old tropes that's sort of nostalgic in this modern era dominated instead by newer (but no less inane) clichés, and governed by sensibilities that are limiting without necessarily making things better. It's in this environment that Engage Kiss manages to shine, with some surprisingly satisfying gags that work well because the setting and premise are both absurd.

Kisara
Durable dress.

It's the little things, like hiding Tupperware® under a dress, or perfecting just-in-time delivery without resorting to drones, or broke shitbags shamelessly bumming cigarettes that really sell me on this series. Or maybe I just like the idea of a yandere demon employee because I haven't actually watched very many shows featuring yandere characters, so the stereotype still feels fresh to me.

Kisara
She seems nice.

Whatever the reason is, and I admit I'm not trying very hard to justify my affection for this bad (it's only mildly bad, okay!) show, I am rather enjoying it so far. It manages to feel both familiar and new at the same time, and it doesn't drag. I can't promise it will turn out to be capital-G Good at any point, but I've watched a lot worse.

Dated 28 June 2022: I don't know why I watched Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL

Black Rock Shooter
That's some nice shootin', Rock.

I sure have watched a lot of Black Rock Shooter for someone who claims not to care about Black Rock Shooter at all. I'm not even confident my understanding about Black Rock Shooter in general is even accurate. As far as I know, it is a Hatsune Miku song that was turned into a sort of popular music video, then an OVA, then a 2012 anime written by Okada Mari, and now Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL. I don't even know if Dawn Fall shares continuity with anything that came prior.

Monica
It would have been better if the human characters didn't wear these masks all the time.

What I do know is that Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL was 12 episodes of a grimdark future where there is only war. Well, war and rape. I don't mean this in a metaphorical sense, and I can see why you might think that considering a lot of what happens in the 2012 Black Rock Shooter was allegorical. No, I'm letting you know that a significant plotline in the 2022 anime involves young girls being raped literally to death.

Smiley
Is it better or worse that the rapist is a big freaky robot with limited emotional range?

So, is Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL actually good? Well, mostly not? I don't know if it's better for people who have strong attachments to the franchise. I can't claim I do, although I recognize Dead Master and Strength as characters who were present in previous Black Rock Shooter installments—that sort of thing. And I'm not fundamentally opposed to a series introducing characters, trying to make us care about them, and then having something terrible happen to them. I don't think I'm in favor of sadism, but I can appreciate that a show like this can still exist, and even be associated with an IP people presumably still value. Also, learning this was licensed by Disney was wild.

Dated 24 May 2022: Summertime Render got more interesting when its POV character changed

Hizuru
Hizuru just does this sometimes.

Summertime Render (alternatively, Summer Time Rendering or other variations) is a two-cours adaptation of a 13-volume manga. Really, I only started watching it as an excuse to expand my collection of posts containing the Ghost Girlfriends tag, even though the ghost girlfriend in question seems to be stuck wearing a swimsuit forever in the afterlife.

Shinpei and Mio
I originally thought Mio was a lot younger.

I'm not a huge fan of Potato-kun, but he's at least not ruining the show for me. Nevertheless, I did get a lot more interested in the series once the point of view in the latest episode shifted to the mysterious lady who was initially notable mostly for her prominent breasts. I'm going to claim it's because her perspective provided clarity and focus to some of the mysteries presented during the previous five episodes, but I can't rule out the possibility it's actually because I like her birth control glasses and Hikasa Youko coolness.

Hizuru
"My glasses are up here."

So is Summertime Render actually a good anime? Sort of? Maybe for sufficiently flexible definitions of good? Reactions to the series seem somewhat divided, and I've seen some unfavorable comparisons to Higurashi (which itself is a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned), but the underlying secrets are somewhat interesting and I've been enjoying the series so far.

Ushio
I find it odd Ushio's funeral was so soon after her death.

The increased importance of Hizuru within the story should offer better insights as the characters navigate the island's mysteries. Ideally, the series will also henceforth minimize the frequency of animeisms that it has occasionally been indulging in to its detriment. (Translation: It would be better if there were fewer scenes of Potato-kun faceplanting into Hizuru's cleavage or grilling Mio about her panties.)

Dated 15 March 2022: 86 Eighty Six ends its operational pause

Lena
Congratulations on not being dead.
P.S. Spoilers.

To tell you the truth, I sort of forgot 86 Eighty Six season 2 two had delayed its final 2 two episodes to March 2022 Two Thousand Twenty Two. I mean, things were sort of tense when we last saw our characters, but it totally could have just ended the season where it was. I would have accepted a cliffhanger-ish ending and an indefinite wait until the next cours, whenever that happens to be. I mean, I think it's reasonable to expect there will be another cours at some point. The anime seems pretty well-regarded, and I've warmed up to it as well, despite some initial misgivings.

Frederica and Shin
Congratulations on not being dead.
P.S. Spoilers.

86 is at its best when it's exploring how its characters relate to each other and to their shared experiences with war. These aspects of the series are much more compelling than how it depicts the war itself or the dynamics of the societies involved. This is not necessarily because I find many of those elements unrealistic, but rather more because I'm not invested in their outcomes. I'm not particularly invested in most of the characters either, but the series has devoted enough time to developing them that I can at least appreciate their emotional resonance.

Dated 8 February 2022: Girls' Frontline: ✅ Shoot, ☐ Move, ✅ Communicate, ☐ Do Cute Things

M4 SOPMOD II
I do love me some Yukarin.

Having an interest in firearms did not enhance my interest in the Girls' Frontline anime. My unfamiliarity with the video game was probably also a significant limiting factor. From an outsider's perspective, the first two episodes of Girls' Frontline (also known as Dolls' Frontline because of...reasons) featured tedious, protracted gun battles during which an endless stream of gunfire was exchanged until one side was sufficient attrited enough for the episode to concentrate on something else. It didn't make for great storytelling.

MP5
I didn't watch long enough to figure out if people are constantly slapping MP5.

Girls' Frontline is hardly the first "girls with guns" anime to have this problem. It's not even the first "girls who are guns" show to suffer in this way. Enjoying this anime requires either having pre-formed opinions about the characters (such as from already enjoying the video game) or dismissing things such as development and motivation as less important than appearance.

M16A1
I appreciate that M16A1 shoots left-handed.

In any case, I had no interest in watching anime versions of what I assume are battles based on game events. It seems weird to admit, but I would have had more interest in Girls' Frontline if there were no fights at all. Cute Guns Doing Cute Things probably isn't exactly the sort of gimmick most people wanted to watch, but I would have been more interested in that than in what we actually got.