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Dated 9 July 2019: TO THE ABANDONED SACRED BEASTS AND THEIR ATTORNEYS OF RECORD: PLEASE TAKE NOTICE

Schall
Have gun. Will travel.

The Summer 2019 anime season is upon us. First out the gate is Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e (To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts), an adaptation of an ongoing manga by the author/artist duo known as Maybe. Unlike the manga, the entire first episode and nearly all of the second episode provide background information for the primary characters first. The tail end of the second episode picks up where the first chapter of the manga actually begins, and the preview for episode three at least suggests the show will now be more straightforward about adapting the manga. I generally prefer when an anime isn't bound to its source material scene-for-scene. Being too rigid can be counterproductive from a storytelling perspective simply because anime, manga, and text have different advantages and limitations. You'd think this would be painfully obvious, but anime adaptations fail often enough that I'm genuinely relieved the MAPPA production seems to have put at least a little thought into this.

Hime and Sato
Also a childhood-friend romance.

To be honest, the Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e manga itself is merely all right. I have purchased all eight volumes currently available from Vertical, and I do enjoy it, but I'm also predisposed to like most of Maybe's work. The mix of seriousness and humor work for me, although the anime probably won't necessarily reproduce the more comic expressions that I enjoy from the manga. Incidentally, I also enjoy Maybe's other ongoing manga, Kekkon Yubiwa Monogatari (Tales of Wedding Rings), a double-isekai harem comedy with plenty of cheesecake and blue balls. The manga has been available via the Crunchyroll's manga jobbie for some time now, but hard copies published by Yen Press are also in print.

Dated 24 June 2019: Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! takes us behind the lines of the War on Pants

Mio
Sakamoto is more of a nutjob than I remember.

It's been more than 12 years since the first Strike Witches OVA. Since that time, we've gotten a proper television series, a sequel series, a spinoff series, a movie, more OVAs, and this season's Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! (Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!) comedy series with half-length episodes. Additionally, I understand there are more sequels and spinoffs in the works, so it seems we'll continue to wage the War on Pants for some time to come. The weakest aspect of the Strike Witches universe (now actually the World Witches universe) has always been the Neuroi—the boring, vaguely threatening opponents with no personalities that our stalwart witches must fight. Fortunately, Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! is entirely Neuroi-free, as the show is strictly about the 501st Joint Fighter Wing fucking around in garrison.

Barkhorn and Hartmann
Go on, Barkhorn, curse the bitch out.

Surprisingly, this setting worked quite favorably for Erica Hartmann and Miyafuji Yoshika as characters. I wasn't fans of either of them going in, but I like them both a lot better now. I'm glad Hartmann in particular got more to do than merely be a lazy slob. I wasn't expecting her to be the focus of so many of the show's best gags. In Miyafuji's case, I think being free of her Main Character baggage made her scenes a lot better. Miyafuji stopped being on my shitlist after the Strike Witches movie, but she's still better off in a supporting role.

Yoshika
This style probably takes less time to draw, I'd imagine.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the character design changes. I'm not a huge fan of this style. I can understand why they're different for this sort of show, but the effect isn't as successful as, say, the changes for Isekai Quartet. Also, I do wish Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! had brought back casual nudity, which used to be a staple of the franchise. Sure, these character designs are not quite as...aerodynamic as the normal ones, but I think it would have made for some amusing gags. Casual nudity has been missing from the World Witches universe for quite some time now, so bringing it back unexpectedly in this guise would have been quite the bombshell in the War on Pants.

Dated 8 April 2019: Anime characters sure love hugging the P90

Henrietta
It's because its blocky shape makes it easier to embrace than other guns.

I guess this is a follow up to my recent post, "In praise of the oldest star in Gunslinger Girl." There, I linked to a couple pictures of anime characters hugging their FN P90 submachine guns (Iriya from Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu, and LLENN from Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online). Naturally, Henrietta also does this in the first episode of Gunslinger Girl, as depicted above, after going aggro with it against some chumps who totally had it coming, probably.

FN P90
Rounds in the translucent magazine make a 90-degree turn before entering the chamber.

I believe Henrietta's P90 is the most modern firearm to appear in Gunslinger Girl. It was only about 10 years old when the manga began in 2002, and is quite a contrast to Triela's 19th-century shotgun. Its distinctive appearance probably also accounts for its popularity in various anime, Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online being a notable example. I can't rule out the possibility that some LLENN fan bought herself an FN PS90, cut down the barrel after getting an NFA tax stamp, and painted it pink for questionable cosplay purposes.

Clarence and LLENN
This was a pretty good deal for both parties.

Incidentally, I was somewhat surprised a minor character in SAO GGO carried an AR57, which is basically an AR-15 upper designed to accept P90 magazines on top and eject out what is usually the magazine well of the lower receiver. But I'm most impressed that Kirito never showed up in GGO for some bullshit ammo exchange contrivance, since Kirito's FN Five-seveN is pretty much the only other firearm that shares ammo with LLENN's dear P-chan. Kirito's total absence definitely improved Gun Gale Online as an anime.

Dated 11 March 2019: In praise of the oldest star in Gunslinger Girl

Triela
I'm impressed Triela didn't get any blood on her.

I've written a fair amount about Gunslinger Girl, but haven't mentioned much about the firearms themselves. The first gun to appear in the show (outside of the OP) is Triela's shotgun, a Winchester Model 1897 Trench Gun with its big ass 17-inch M1917 bayonet fixed. I believe this is also the oldest firearm to appear in the anime. As its name suggests, this is literally a 19th-century design which Winchester started selling in 1897 (although it remained in production until 1957). In contrast, the primary weapon of the show's ostensible lead, Henrietta, is an ever popular FN P90, which was barely more than 10 years old when the manga began publication in 2002. Triela's M1897 is also the only shotgun in the first cours, but I don't remember it featuring in particularly many scenes. The old Winchester gets a lot more attention in the sequel, Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-. (And occasionally appears in fanart.)

M1897 action
The action can git ya if you're careless while racking the slide back.

Prices of the World War I-era M1897 Trench Guns have risen quite a bit as of late, probably at least partially because of The Great War's centennial and maybe because of the shotgun's inclusion in popular media such as Gunslinger Girl itself and the Battlefield video games. For example, a "very fine" Model 1897 sold for $8625 in December 2018. I am somewhat amused that Gunslinger Girl features a firearm from the 19th century when basically every other gun in the series is from the Cold War or newer. I have to assume the original mangaka, Aida Yu, just really liked it. That's totally understandable, at least.

Dated 25 February 2019: Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka is an interesting show in theory

Kurumi and Asuka
Airborne mahou shoujo, airborne mahou shoujo, where have you been?

Unfortunately, Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka (Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka) is not a great anime, and quite a bit less interesting than it probably ought to be. Part of the problem is "magikal girls except adult and/or dark!" is by no means a novel idea anymore. However, I think a substantial part of the issues affecting Spec-Ops Asuka are probably intrinsic to its core concept to begin with. The anime (which I'm only assuming is at least reasonably faithful to its source manga—I've not read it) makes an effort to imagine how armed forces might integrate mahou shoujo (and dour, sadistic mages, for that matter) into their combined arms doctrine and what sorts of missions they might perform. It sort of works, but it also sort of invites more questions. When the core concept is not especially grounded in reality, maybe it's best to simply handwave away practical problems and adopt the approach used by mecha anime.

War Nurse
War Nurse is a great codename, though.

My other issue with Mahou Shoujo Tokushusen Asuka is that I don't find it especially engaging. There hasn't been any particular hook to the show that grabs me, and I'm sort of simply watching it perfunctorily. It doesn't help that the animation has a somewhat unenthusiastic look to it, and I'm not a fan of the character designs either. I'm not even sure what the issue is. Perhaps everything looks too normal? I'm glad the show at least does not have a "grimdark" visual appearance, but I wonder if making it look more like an actual mahou shoujo anime might have been better. The music works at least. Digressing a bit, I don't have a good place to mention this, but Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka does have more actual torture in the show than I'm used to seeing in anime. For comparison, the torture in Overlord occurs off-screen. I'm not suggesting you should count that as a positive necessarily, but it is noteworthy, at least. P.S. Spoilers.

Dated 28 January 2019: Egao no Daika teaches a 12-year-old girl that smilewar is all Hell

Yuuki
This queen's bed looks smaller than queen-sized.

Egao no Daika (The Price of Smiles) caught my attention because it is an original anime featuring mecha. But then the initial responses to the first episode suggested it was more about a silly country's 12-year-old monarch trying her best with the assistance of her loyal childhood friend, Potato-kun. Based on those reports alone, I wrote the show off. But then I heard about what happens in episode two and decided to give it a try out of curiosity. Yeah, I am totally on board. Yes, the show still stars a naïve awkward-age girl, but it's actually about a war that Smilestan's Deep State kept hidden from her. Moreover, it's clear from the OP and the ED that Egao no Daika also stars a soldier fighting for the opposing side. Indeed, Ittōheisō Shining has had a more prominent role in the show through its first four episodes than Queen Princess Yuuki.

Stella
I like Hayami Saori in this role, but I'd rather have Dark Mamiko.

Thankfully, Egao no Daika is also not one of those shows where Potato-kun spends half the series wiping out enemy mecha on easy mode before suddenly realizing people die when they are killed. I can at least guarantee this is not going to happen in The Price of Smiles. Rather, soldiers in this show display no hesitation killing their opponents even when they can see the whites of their eyes. There is still some question as to how Yuuki is going to react to the war now that she's getting a crash course in reality. It's more likely than not that she'll continue to oppose it, but other possibilities remain on the table since this is an original anime. Personally, I'm hoping for at least two cours of gripping war melodrama, but we're probably only going to get the 12 episodes scheduled thus far, alas.

Dated 17 September 2018: I dropped two ghost-girlfriend shows in Summer 2018

Yuuna and Kogarashi
A ghost with legs? Inconceivable.

The main reason why I started watching Shichisei no Subaru (Seven Senses of the Re'Union) and Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san (Yuuna and the Haunted Hot Springs) was because both shows featured ghost girlfriends and thus gave me an excuse to pad the Ghost Girlfriends tag on my blog. Besides, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia and Nanana's Buried Treasure were both good, even if Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? was, uh, not.

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Dated 9 July 2018: Girls with Guns ~The Merchandising~

There's this artist on the Twitter and the Pixiv who, over the span of several years, has published numerous illustrations of "Girls with Guns" doing fan-friendly type things. The artist does draw other things as well, including a fair amount of TYPE-MOON stuff, but the "Bionic Joshi Kosei" seems to be one of the more successful original characters in FP Works' ARMS NOTE portfolio. So much so that there's already a Figma of the character, and now pre-orders are available for a 1/7th scale figurine scheduled for release later in October 2018.

Bionic Joshi Kosei
Nice shoes.

The Bionic JK figurine is listing for ¥17,900 (something like $170), which seems sort of incredible to me, but possibly (probably) I'm just completely out of touch when it comes to how much these sort of things cost in general. In any case, I'm all in favor of supporting artists who promote their original works, particularly when they're delivering GAME-BREAKING HOME RUNS, so I encourage all y'all to get in on this if girls with guns and collecting anime figures both intersect with your particular interests. It's only $170. What else were you gonna do with that money anyway?