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Dated 18 May 2021: I get the feeling 86 Eighty Six is about interracial dating instead of war

Vladilena Lena, Handler One, Bloody Regina Milizé
Does this mean Lena has figured out she can use the PARA-RAID for phone sex?

After 6 six episodes of 86 Eighty Six, I think I can understand why readers enjoy the original light novels. I haven't been following the reactions to the anime closely, but I believe most impressions to it are favorable as well. The story has had enough interesting developments and twists that I expect most viewers who ventured past the first episode continue to enjoy it. If the anime gets more than one cours, I could see how an eventual romance between the two leads might make up the core of the story. Moreover, it would probably be better if that is that is the case, because 86 Eighty Six as a war story is somewhat shite.

Shinei Shin, Undertaker, Reaper Nouzen
This is Mikasa Ackerman's son, isn't it.

The anime is still revealing elements about the war in 86 Eighty Six, but I get the feeling we're all better off not thinking about it too much. Aircraft exist, but only so tourists can get shot down. Artillery exists, but only in the form of weenie short-ranged mortars. The apparent objectives for the battles shown so far are also sort of questionable. On the plus side, their spider-mechs are pretty fresh. I get that it's unfair to criticize 86 Eighty Six for these sorts of things when I'm totally okay with the SSSS.DYNAZENON fights, but it is possible to make unrealistic battles compelling (see The Price of Smiles, for example), and these just aren't.

Dated 23 March 2021: Higurashi gets good after 74 episodes

Rena and Mion
It turns out I don't really like these two.

I need to caveat this post by acknowledging that I effectively don't know anything about the Higurashi franchise. I initially tried watching the first anime back in 2006, but dropped it after (I think) the first episode because I didn't find it interesting. It subsequently ran for 26 episodes, then 24 more in 2007. Somewhere in there we'll also find 11 assorted episodes that dropped at various times before Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou started in 2020.

Satoko
Satoko seems like a pleasant kid who probably has a stable home life.

I was aware of the franchise's popularity, and knew that Higurashi somehow fit into a much larger extended universe which included properties such as Umineko no Naku Koro ni. I basically don't know anything about these other titles either, though. Nevertheless, I decided to give the 2020 anime a chance because all these factors must mean it's got to have something going for it, right? Besides, it meant the return of Yukino Satsuki, and I love me some Yukino Satsuki. I'm also a fan of Nakahara Mai, so how bad could it be?

Rika
I guess this is not a "NIPAH" sort of moment.

Well, getting through the first 13 episodes of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou was a slog. I still have no idea how much it departed from the previous anime. I also don't know whether watching the previous anime is really required. Likewise, I don't know how necessary it is to have read the visual novels first either. Approaching the 2020 anime strictly as a neophyte anime-only viewer, I was teased something special on occasion, but lacked the proper context to fully appreciate those moments. On the other hand, the show regularly confronted me with my ever-increasing dislike for Keiichi, Rena, and Detective Ooishi.

Satoko
I'm pretty sure this qualifies as a huge spoiler.

Fortunately, episode 14 and all subsequent episodes focused on other characters. Suddenly, Keiichi was no longer the primary protagonist, and Higurashi is actually pretty good! I can't claim I really understand what's going on, but it's at least a lot more enjoyable and interesting to watch than everything I've seen prior. In fact, I'm even looking forward to the next cours which is slated to start in July 2021.

Featherine and Satoko
Maybe not as big as this shot.

Does it really take Higurashi 74 episodes to get good? Presumably not. But if the previous anime is anything like the present anime, then I feel comfortable about assuming it does not get good until Keiichi stops being its main character. If it turns out episodes were centered around him for the previous anime's entire run—and there isn't a departure until episode 14 of Gou—then, yeah, it doesn't get good until after 74 episodes.

Dated 16 March 2021: The CZ 75, Rico's pistol in Gunslinger Girl

CZ 75 Pre-B
Despite offering a double-action mode, the original CZ 75
only has a single-action safety instead of a decocker.

Originally, I was mostly ambivalent about Rico from the Gunslinger Girl anime, but I liked her character a lot more after reading the manga. In any case, I am a big fan of her CZ 75 pistol, though. This is a full-size all-steel service sidearm. It's not quite as heavy as a Colt 1911 Government Model, nor as large as the Beretta 92 series, but it is pretty big compared to more contemporary alloy or polymer options, such as the many compact striker-fired handguns that seem to be more popular now. CZ's own offering have diversified quite a bit in the decades since the 75's introduction.

Rico
I like the turtleneck.

In the context of Gunslinger Girl, Rico's CZ 75 is an older "pre-B" model identifiable by the shape of its hammer and the rounder trigger guard. There are transitional models, so the surest way to tell the difference is the absence of a roll pin in the slide. This change was introduced with the CZ 75B model as part of a redesign to add an internal safety that blocks the firing pin unless the trigger is also pulled. (This should prevent the gun from discharging if dropped on its hammer, or if a sear fails, etc.)

Rico
Rico also has a threaded barrel for her CZ.

Rico somewhat implausibly hides her CZ 75 under her coat while working in Florence in episode seven. I say implausibly because Rico is a pretty small girl, and I would expect a pistol that big to pooch out a bit, but I guess this is what makes her a pro. In comparison, Triela's ability to conceal a Sig Sauer P230SL under her jacket is much more realistic.

Rico
I can see why you might not think so, but Rico says she likes it here.

I think it's also worth noting that—in both the manga and the anime—Rico appears to have intact memories of her life before becoming a cyborg. I think this is unique to her among all of the girls, and it's not clear to me why. Possibly I've just forgotten, but I don't believe it was ever explained. It's not particularly important, I suppose, but it does make her different from the other girls.

Rico
She does get beat a lot, though.

Somehow, I've now written four "guns of Gunslinger Girl" posts for this blog. In addition to Triela's P230 mentioned above, I also have posts for Henrietta's P90 and Triela's shotgun. I should probably get around to re-watching the show at some point.

Dated 23 February 2021: Back Arrow is full of idiots

Shuu, Bit, and Sola
Here is the stupidest character flanked by the smartest one and the second-smartest one.

I think I enjoy Back Arrow, but these characters are all so dumb. I mean, they're supposed to be, for comedic effect, but it's sort of extraordinary. The villagers are the worst offenders. The series introduces one of the main characters in the first episode by having her rescue—at the last possible second—a child who pretends to accidentally fall off a cliff because she enjoys the thrill of being saved in mid-air. Later, an amnesiac plummets from the sky in a pod. The villagers assume it contains food and start a large fire under it to cook its contents (without checking to see what's in it first). This inspires the pod's mysterious passenger to leap out and create a ruckus. If this is how the village prepares all of its meals, remind me to never eat there.

Ren
Actually, the lady with the fucked-up bangs is probably second-smartest.

Anyway, this is the sort of cartoonish logic that governs the characters' behavior. But at some point, Back Arrow just needs to ditch these villagers. First of all, they worship The Wall because they're superstitious nincompoops. And they are literally dead weight. Like, they're all on this massive mobile battle fortress, and none of them figured out how to turn on the lights. They're still huddling in tents and burning wood to stay warm instead of just taking up inside the dreadnought's living quarters. Maybe they're distrustful of these accommodations because their captive was the one who informed them of these facilities and the galley (which they're also not using, of course, but I've already gone over their culinary failures). Again, this is all done for laughs, but I don't think the gags are going to stay amusing enough to justify dragging these hicks around for two cours. Especially Bit. Fuckin' hate Bit. Kid's worthless.

Dated 29 December 2020: The war on pants will go on a long as it has to

Yoshika and Shizuka
I don't dislike Miyafuji anymore, but these two still aren't exactly favorites.

It's been a while since I've watched the first two Strike Witches seasons, but I felt this third season seemed better overall than those previous installments. I also liked it better than the Brave Witches spinoff. Despite this, I'm still not at all prepared to call Strike Witches: Road to Berlin the best season yet even though it sort of has to be by definition. The problem is Road to Berlin still relied on the Neuroi as the primary advesary. This is an unavoidable component of the World Witches canon, but these alien invaders have never been compelling enemies. The witches need to fight somebody, but the battles still feel hollow and the stakes haven't grown as the war has progressed, despite a fair amount of dialogue trying to convince viewers that they have.

World Witches Take Off!
That sure is a lot of witches.

Thankfully, Strike Witches 3 at least avoided some of the even less convincing drama that dragged down parts of the first two seasons. Frankly, I rather enjoy the characters more when they're doing silly things in garrison such as in the Strike Witches: 501 Butai Hasshin Shimasu! (Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!) gag anime. This bodes well for next season's World Witches Hasshin Shimasu! (World Witches Take Off!) installment, although I think I would still prefer it use the standard superlovely character designs than the simpler comedy-friendly ones.

Dated 15 December 2020: I'm probably less likely to watch Wonder Egg Priority if I find out what it's about before it starts

Ai
Every word in Wonder Egg Priority is English, but that combination has no meaning!

The Winter 2021 anime season is going to be a busy one. Not only are there a mess of sequels coming out, there are also a fair number of anime-original offerings for anyone exhausted from years of light novel adaptations. One such show is Wonder Egg Priority from CloverWorks which recently released a PV but offered basically no other information. I know it features a character with heterochromia and there is at least one dekochin, but I'm otherwise entirely ignorant about it. However, I am curious enough to watch at least the first episode, and it seems likely the anime will at least look good.

Elisha
I guess this post is getting the "Girls With Guns" tag.

The promotional material for another original anime, Back Arrow, features cowboys and giant robots. These are not things I associate with each other (well, there was Bakuretsu Tenshi years ago), so there's the potential for some originality here. It's reportedly going to be at least two cours and I'm reasonably confident Bones isn't going to just half-ass this project. It looks like it has a fairly large cast, too, and I spotted Ueda Reina's name associated with the show. The combination of these factors are enough to get me to at least check it out. The PV could use more robots, though.

Shadow and Reki
Prince of Stride: Alternative at least had Hanakana supporting its racers.

Among the remaining original anime offerings, I'm almost certainly going to ignore all the ones about idols. I'm also staying away from the GoHands project which looks suspiciously like another secret sequel to Hand Shakers. You're not getting me twice, fuckers. On the upside, there is a racing show called SK∞ (SK8 the Infinity) about dudes skateboarding down into a mine shaft while beating the shit out of each other. It probably suffers from not-enough-anime-girls syndrome, but it might turn out to still be entertaining anyway.

Dated 27 October 2020: More more more Autumn 2020 impressions

Tsurumi and Tsukishima
He had it coming.

Some of the shows I covered in previous posts (1st, 2nd, 3rd) included remakes and sequels or continuations. Well, there are more. Golden Kamuy also resumed this season. It's described as the third season, but really it's just the third cours of series. The anime remains as good as ever, thanks to the strength of the source material. In fact, the anime has improved by thus far avoiding the 3DCG pitfalls that unfortunately distracted from the first cours.

Mutsuko and Daigo
Daigo is short.

Major 2nd S2 remains consistently good as anyone who has ever followed the franchise would expect. The current arc again revisits events from the first season of Major 2nd, but it should still be accessible to new viewers. Well, they can be new to Major, but it probably helps to know at least a little about baseball. At a minimum, it will reinforce how relatively lucky the new girl has been so far despite making a lot of basic mistakes.

Akira
This is not actually a room.

One Room is also back for a third season. It's first-person-anime gimmick seems a bit lewder this time around than I remember from the previous installments. However, it's still fairly tame even though the first girl found an excuse to whip off her clothes by the second episode. I guess since the characters only gets three episodes for each arc they have to make the best of their opportunities.

Hattori and Miyafuji
Strike Witches is still Miyafuji's show.

Going the other way, Strike Witches: Dai-501 Tougou Sentou Koukuudan ROAD to BERLIN (the third "proper" season of Strike Witches) is definitely less lewd now compared to how it started out. The first season of Strike Witches featured uncensored casual nudity on a fairly regular basis. This season started with an appearance by Sakamoto Mio wearing pants, of all things. PANTS!

Dated 5 May 2020: It turns out there is more to Gleipnir than exquisitely detailed brassieres

Clair
Not a whole lot of anime characters with freckles.

I would not call Gleipnir lewd even though its lead girl has spent most of the first five episodes with her clothes off. (The rest of the time, she's usually in the process of removing her clothes.) The show is lurid, though. Frankly, I'm finding this sort of extremely overt fan service rather refreshing. It's a nice contrast to some of the inflexible attitudes I seem to encounter on the Twitter occasionally. In any case, it's starting to look like Gleipnir actually has a lot going on. In fact, probably too much going on to wrap up in a single cours considering five episodes have already passed, and the show is only just now getting started with a plot of any sort.

Clair and Shuichi
This is good way to get a lot of bug bites, Clair.

From the looks of it, the Gleipnir anime is also about to add a bunch of new characters (who won't necessarily live long). Seeing as how the original manga appears to still be ongoing, I'm guessing the anime is going to conclude with a non-ending ending unless it proves popular enough to get successive seasons. I don't know if I'm going to care about any of these new characters, but I'm hoping they'll bring more to the series than Potato-kun has so far. At least Clair is interesting. After all, she has gotten less suicidal and her brassieres are exquisitely detailed.