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Dated 5 October 2021: 86 Eighty Six season 2 two looks promising

Lena
That's still in regs, right?

I'm going to go ahead and say that 86 Eighty Six manages to avoid being bad by being good. There is certainly a "people die when they are killed" logic to this statement, but I guess what I really mean is the series continues to overachieve in comparison with my expectations for it. Much of this is pessimism on my part, because I've heard from the beginning that the source material is good. However, those sorts of claims aren't very reassuring since "good" light novels typically seem to only be good for sufficiently generous definitions of good.

Ernst
Ain't you Shinichi's dad from Detective Conan?

Fortunately, the execution in the case of 86 Eighty Six actually is good. There's basically always something in every episode that's done well enough to be noteworthy, and the story is also sound. The various twists remain unexpected (but are also not total ass pulls) and do keep the series interesting even though much of it sounds pretty cheesy if you're just describing it to someone. Notably, I was already spoiled about a resolution to the previous season's ending because I saw the cover to one of the later light novels, but even knowing that did not ruin the effect provided by the 1st First episode of the 2nd Second cours. I'm looking 4 forward 2 to watching more.

Dated 28 September 2021: I guess Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu is about how much Satoko hates school

Rena, Satoko, Rika, and Mion
I like how Yukarin occasionally breaks out Rika's adult voice and nobody seems to notice.

There's one episode remaining in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu (Higurashi: When They Cry - SOTSU), making the new anime that started last year with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou 39 episodes long. I still don't know how different the current anime is from all the previous iterations. I guess I could just look it up, but I suppose I am technically avoiding potential spoilers even though the likelihood I might go back and watch all the anime that came before is vanishingly small.

Satoko
Well, sometimes people notice.

On a related note, I am not sure it is even possible to examine Higurashi SOTSU without crashing straight into spoilers. Do the spoilers even matter? From my perspective, as someone who knew very little about the franchise before starting Higurashi GOU, it probably would have helped to have been spoiled on at least some of the major aspects of the series from the start. In my case, knowing the series would eventually concentrate almost entirely on Rika and Satoko while basically ignoring Keiichi and Rena would have provided valuable encouragement during the parts when I questioned why I was still watching Higurashi at all.

Rika and Satoko
This was a good punch.

Struggling to put up with Keiichi (initially, the show's apparent protagonist) and Rena was the reason I quickly dropped the first anime, and the reason why I nearly dropped Gou numerous times. Knowing the show would pivot its focus to two much more interesting characters definitely would have helped. Looking at this from a different perspective, what about the viewers who liked those Keiichi x Rena antics? Would they be disappointed to learn the series is actually about Rika and Satoko?

Satoko
She did the thing.

In any case, Higurashi SOTSU seems headed for a big finish now, which is itself an accomplishment of sorts considering how bewildered I was just a couple weeks ago how SOTSU might wrap anything up by the 15th episode. From the looks of it, Satoko will not compromise. It's quite a testament to the absurd lengths she will go to simply to avoid having to play the role of a phony bitch for a few years. It must have also occurred to her that she could keep her aversion to schoolwork by simply working out techniques for cheating her way though Fancy Cunts Academy. That she never did really is a testament to how hostile she was toward school in general and that school specifically as a matter of principle.

Dated 24 August 2021: My hopes for Fena: Pirate Princess (Kaizoku Oujo) sank

Fena
I can tell she's a pirate because of how she's dressed.

Fena: Pirate Princess (Kaizoku Oujo) is a Crunchyroll and Adult Swim co-production that did not begin until mid-August. It's a simulcast with the subtitled episodes releasing on the Crunchyroll while the English dub airs on Adult Swim. I don't know if this late start (relative to other Summer 2021 anime) is to align its schedule with the rest of the Adult Swim lineup, but it seems the Japanese broadcast will not begin until October.

Yukimaru
Ain't this guy, like, 16?

It's not a bad show, even though I'm dropping it after three episodes during a season when I'm already not watching nearly as much as I typically do. I wouldn't call it a good show, either, though. I genuinely can't tell if Fena: Pirate Princess actually does seem more like a Western cartoon instead of a Japanese anime, or if I'm just biased into feeling that way because I know it's a co-production between the Crunchyroll and Adult Swim. After all, I haven't even bothered to investigate who is working on the show. It's just an impression I can't shake.

Karin and Fena
These ninja pirates could use a better barber.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter if the reason why I'm less into Kaizoku Oujo is because it is "not anime enough" or some other reason, since I just don't find the show engaging enough to keep watching either way. I'm not at all invested in Fena, or the ninja pirates (ninja pirates!) she's hanging out with now, nor am I interested in the antagonists pursuing her, even though some of them clearly benefit from character-design-based plot armor. I guess I do like the ninja pirate voiced by Yuuki Aoi okay, but that's possibly only because of her fucked-up bangs.

Hanna
Hanna could probably benefit from a rear sight or two on that gun.

The show's tone is also unusually light, despite (mostly obscured) violence and bloodletting. I wouldn't call it tonal whiplash, because there haven't been any moments in the first three episodes that I would characterize as deeply dramatic. The bigger problem is the jokes and whimsy aren't working for me. Some of the visual gags might work in a full-on wacky ninja-pirate adventure show. In any case, I'm out, but it's probably still worth investigating for yourself to see if it's your sort of thing.

Dated 3 August 2021: The Walther P99, Mireille's pistol in Noir

Walther P99 and Beretta M1934
Size comparison between Mireille's P99, Kirika's M1934, and their respective ammunition.

Complementing Kirika's Beretta M1934 in Noir is Mireille's Walther P99. Walther introduced the P99 in the '90s as a polymer departure from the metal-framed pistols it made previously, such as the P88 and the P5. This made Mireille's firearm relatively modern when Noir aired in 2001. I guess this also makes her the exception to the rule of thumb that allows viewers to judge how dangerous the characters in Noir are by recognizing the inverse relationship between the characters' lethality and the modernity of the weapons they use. Mireille may be out of her league compared with Kirika or Chloe, but she gets by.

Mireille
Mireille might not be as good as Kirika at killing people, but she does dress better.

Fans of Cowboy Bebop may also recognize the Walther P99 as the pistol Jet uses throughout the series. There are probably other anime examples I've overlooked. Certainly, there is no shortage of P99 appearances in live-action TV shows and movies. At a minimum, I know Brosnan-era James Bond adopted it to replace his iconic Walther PPK for a while. (Coincidentally, Bond is also shown with a Beretta M1934 in Dr. No.)

Jet
Cowboy Bebop takes place in 2071, but Jet's old-ass gun
is still newer than the Jericho 941 that Spike uses.

Mireille and Jet would have both carried the first-generation Walther P99, as the second generation did not come out until a few years after their anime aired. Somewhat surprisingly, Walther was still making the P99 as of early 2021 (in Ulm, for people who care about that), although a Wikipedia entry currently claims (without citation) that both it and its 2011 successor, the PPQ, are discontinued now that the PDP is out. That's a shame if the P99 has reached the end of its production, as the PDP is only offered with the American-style magazine release button. Adherents to the European flappy levers will have to look toward Heckler & Koch now, I guess.

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.