Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 21 August 2017: I was probably predisposed to like Princess Principal on general principle

Ange
Princess Principal also features some good hats.

Princess Principal features steampunk alternate history, Kajiura Yuki music, and copious helpings of espionage. Moreover, it's an original anime. Those don't appear to be quite as common these days; everything seems to be a light novel or mobile video game adaptation. Based on these elements, I was guaranteed to at least give the show a try. And, hey, it turns out it's pretty good. At a minimum, the action is a lot better than I was expecting, and the stories frequently take unexpected turns away from anticipated norms when the plot encounters common tropes. Nothing too crazy, but enough of a twist to make each resolution more satisfying than I was expecting.

Princess
Princess Mode activated.

I do agree with critics who noted it wasn't really necessary to introduce the princess in the first episode. It probably would have made the payoffs in the second and third episodes stronger. Then again, she's right in the title of the anime, so it's not as if she could have caught viewers by total surprise. Incidentally, the episodes are not in chronological order, seemingly to produce the same effects as when Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu aired out of order. It works so far, but the titles also imply there are more episodes than I'd expect in a single cours. Maybe this suggests they're teeing it up for a second season, or maybe it means nothing at all. In either case, I'm at least optimistic the season will end in a sensible, satisfying way and not the non-ending-ending bullshit that is too often the norm. As an original anime, Princess Principal doesn't have an excuse to screw up its second half, particularly considering the first half has been so strong.

Dated 10 July 2017: Alice to Zouroku is more frabjous than I expected

Sana and the March Hare
Fuck you, rabbit.

There are a lot of tonal shifts in Alice to Zouroku (Alice and Zouroku). The shifts themselves are not jarring. It's just that the show covers a lot more emotional ground than you might expect. There are people getting fucked up in fight scenes, but also scenes of a little girl joyously talking to the plants she's watering. There's also a dramatic arc which abruptly ends midway through the one-cours show. I don't know how closely the anime follows the manga, but I presume that must be at least partially responsible for the somewhat unconventional way everything plays out.

Zouroku and Sanae
You can tell Sanae is a responsible girl because she packed an umbrella.

Ordinarily, these sort of factors result in a disjointed show that's mostly a mess, but Alice to Zouroku is quite good the whole way though. I like that despite having superpowers, Sana is still very much a little kid with all the weaknesses and vulnerabilities that come along with that. It helps that Ohwada Hitomi does a fine job voicing her. I like the way Sana talks and the inflections she uses. I also like that the show is filled with interesting bits, such as its depiction of "Wonderland" and how various superpowers manifest. Naturally, I also like that there's a combat maid who shows up to bail people out from time to time, because of course there's a dependable combat maid. Ultimately, it's not so much that Alice to Zouroku is necessarily capital-G Good, although it is pretty good, but rather mostly that the show is really likeable. I think that's reason enough to give it a try.

Dated 12 June 2017: The End of Re:CREATORS ~Air/My Purest Love for Gunpuku~

Altair
What? You can't see it?

I'm calling it. Re:CREATORS will end (next season) with Potato-kun re-drawing and re-writing Altair as a wall-to-wall dere-dere moé-moé...kyun! schoolgirl whose MAD gets super popular on the NicoVideo. Still the best show this season, though. Even ahead of Little Witch Academia TV which is also really good. I should write about that before it ends.

Dated 5 June 2017: Re:CREATORS is my favorite show this season

Mamika
Magikal girls have the strongest conviction.

I'm rather pleased Re:CREATORS will be two cours even though it means the pace is somewhat leisurely. Or, at least it seems that way because it happens to be the sort of show where the viewer constantly feels as if something could happen at any minute. "Gunpuku," who we now know is named Altair, seems content to let things unfold without haste, an attitude which gives greater impact to the violence of her actions when she suddenly snaps in response to an emotional trigger. It's a great scene, regardless of how you feel about the outcome, and where your personal loyalties lie.

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Dated 8 May 2017: Alice to Zouroku sure has a lot of hairy arms

Sana and Zouroku
Nice hat.

Alice to Zouroku (Alice and Zouroku) is about a little girl with essentially magic abilities who escapes from a secret facility where people with flexible morals study kids with superpowers. She then takes up with a crotchety old man and various cute things happen. Well, between periodic bouts of trauma, that is. It's a neat concept, albeit one that's been done before in various ways, but making the male lead an elderly man instead of a teenage spud is a nice change.

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Dated 10 April 2017: Re:CREATORS evolved from light novels

Souta
Looks like 2016, going by the calendar.

From what I've been able to gather based on the first episode, the basic premise of Re:CREATORS involves the arrival of various characters from contemporary popular fiction to the land of their authors: Japan. That is, rather than Potato-kun getting hit by a truck and reincarnating in a fantasy world, characters from these fantasy light novel, video game, and/or anime worlds are transported to Japan instead. There have been shows with similar premises (e.g., Hataraku Maou-sama!), but this twist is still fresh enough to give Re:CREATORS the edge in capturing my attention this season.

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Dated 16 January 2017: Youjo Senki and the Moshidora of reincarnation anime

Tanya
Shouldn't she be wearing some goggles?

On its face, Youjo Senki (The Saga of Tanya the Evil) should be absolute light-novel garbage. According to those who have investigated the source material, the original light novel really is the sonorous trash you get in these sorts of reincarnation stories. The actual execution, though, is surprisingly deft. And while its appeal is somewhat niche, it does appeal to me, and it safely stays out of the uncanny valley of military anime. Notably, the air battles are quite good, and are a great deal more satisfying than what we got from Brave Witches or Strike Witches. It's easy to accept this is the way witches and warlocks might fight, particularly when one is clearly stronger than the others.

Tanya
Duckface.

However, there's still the issue of Tanya's backstory. Through two episodes at least, there's not really a compelling reason why she needs to be a reincarnated Japanese salaryman. I can at least appreciate that the flashback to her previous death was executed in a clever way. Then again, at this point, just not getting hit by a truck sort of qualifies as being somewhat clever by default. Possibly the story will actually include Tanya's past life's corporate experience as a way to improve her chances on the battlefield, but I'm not expecting any sort of Moshidora epiphanies. Really, trying to make a Moshidora connection to Youjo Senki is tenuous at best, and I confess I only bring it up here and in the title of this post so I can pretend to casually mention I read an 800-page Peter Drucker book from the '70s in 2011 for a baseball anime which hardly anyone watched. Good times.

Dated 19 December 2016: Bubuki Buranki is best if you've seen it already

Kinoa, Shizuru, and Kogane
Also, the faces are top-rate.

The first time I watched the first season Bubuki Buranki, I didn't think it was very good. It wasn't until after Epizo's introduction that the show really clicked for me, although I enjoyed the fight between Kinoa and her ex-boyfriend during which his attacks consisted entirely of literal flashbacks to their Meet Cute and early relationship. Upon re-watching the first season, though, I loved the show and its absurd excuses to feature giant robots punching things at the whim of angry teenagers making faces. Perhaps I was just late in appreciating the motivations and relationships among the various factions.

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