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Dated 22 January 2018: Yuru Camp△ takes an early lead as Winter 2018's best show

Rin
Make a left at the fork and keep going straight. If you pass Mount Fuji, you've gone too far.

Yuru Camp△ is a blatant attempt at promoting camping and campsites. The show provides accessible instructions and guidelines to make camping attractive to neophytes and gorgeously depicts obviously real-life locations in transparent efforts to transform viewers into visitors.

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Dated 8 January 2018: I don't know what to write about Mahō Tsukai no Yome, so here is Chise bathing

Chise
Chise in the bath in episode one.

The first anime season of Mahō Tsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride) was visually stunning from start to finish. I had some doubts the show would be able to maintain the same high standard all the way through, but I've got no complaints about the first cours. The second cours has also started in fine form, but I'm still somewhat at a loss as to whether this is a show I would recommend or not. At a minimum, Mahoutsukai no Yome offers a different sort of anime that we rarely get. Even though Chise is Japanese, she practically could have come from anywhere, since the ethnic and cultural parts of her background don't matter so much as her early personal life and hardships. The setting is ostensibly British, but it's "Magical Cotswolds as a launching point to other realms" British and not, like, "chip shops on High Street" British.

Chise
Chise in the bath in episode 12.

However, The Ancient Magus' Bride might be a little too consistent for its own good, in that there aren't a lot of dramatic highs or lows in the first half of the anime. I frankly have a difficult time imagining what the series must be like for someone who isn't already familiar with the manga. Would someone coming to the anime first be as impressed with it as I was with the manga? Rather than pursuing some objective which Chise strives toward each week, the series consists of seemingly unrelated stories that improve Chise's understanding of the magic world around her. There are occasional reminders that she'll face serious challenges ahead, but there's no corresponding sense of urgency. I have to admit it would be reasonable for viewers to simply dismiss Mahō Tsukai no Yome by saying, "It's fine, but not my sort of thing." Reasonable, but unfortunate.

Dated 20 November 2017: Just Because! is good even when it is not about baseball

Mio
I guarantee Himura Kiseki wanted to give her huge breasts.

If you're not watching Just Because!, you may at least have seen discussions about it on the Twitter, mostly about how it's apparently always on the verge of a production meltdown. Alternatively, you might also have heard about it because its character designer is the artist who provides weekly blue illustrations of buxom characters every Monday morning. Just Because! also featured in its first episode a very well done baseball sequence, a motif that reappears during the series. Really, the series is about romance, and unrequited love, and people being too chickenshit to let others know how they feel, but it's all the other parts that ensure the show works. Usually, the part about teenagers not being honest with their feelings is a pretty big red flag when you're looking for entertaining anime, but Just Because! handles these various plot lines fairly well, at least through the first six episodes.

Ena and Eita
Go on, Ena. Curse the bitch out.

The real star of the show, however, is the Photography Club girl whose photojournalism skills are on point. I'm not all that familiar with Lynn, her seiyuu (I actually thought it was Haruka De Tomaso Pantera initially), despite her numerous past roles (of which, I'm most familiar with Keijo!!!!!!!!), but she's pretty good here. It looks like Ena is going to get laid out on the teen romance smorgasbord as well, which I guess is fine as long as Just Because! remembers to retains her comic scenes and occasional griefing.

Dated 13 November 2017: The second season of Kekkai Sensen doesn't seem very Beyond

Sonic and Leo
Leonardo Watch, default expression.

Kekkai Sensen & Beyond seems to offer about the same level of interesting developments and entertaining action as the first season did, but I'm still not quite as enamored with the show this time around. I think most fans of the first season were primarily concerned about how the sequel would fare without Matsumoto Rie directing, but I don't believe the series has suffered too much in this regard. On its face, Blood Blockade Battlefront ought to be as enjoyable as it always was. If anything, it ought to be better, since we finally got some episodes featuring Chain who basically did fuck all the first season. But Beyond seems to be missing something to me, and I think I know what it is: White.

Chain
Snappy dresser, great hair. Pity she's a slob, though.

This is probably heresy, since White is reportedly an anime-original addition to the first season. Nevertheless, I think White helped tie the series together by providing a more cohesive narrative in an otherwise mostly episodic series. Scenes featuring White and Leo getting to know each other better helped me as a viewer get to know them better. Aside from Zapp, I don't believe I can say the same thing about any of the other characters. And in Zapp's case, all I really learned is that he's sort of a dick, and often not in an amusing sort of way. Ultimately, Kekkai Sensen is still good (it's currently the third-highest rated show on my seasonal chart), but it's also a little unsatisfying because I can't help but feel as if it could be better. It is still very flashy, even though the screen dims during the frequently literally flashy scenes. (This seems to be common practice these days for reducing the risk of inducing seizures among those susceptible to such.) There is probably a metaphor in here somewhere, but it will take a better anime detective than me to find it.

Dated 23 October 2017: I can't believe Best Girl is already dead (full-on Juuni Taisen spoilers)

Niwatori
Seriously, though, this is great hair.

I'm going to depart from my typical spoiler-free policy for this bit. Avert your eyes if you care about Juuni Taisen spoilers at all. Juuni Taisen (also Juni Taisen: Zodiac War) is an anime adaptation of a NisiOisiN light novel about 12 psychos (loosely based on the Chinese zodiac) killing each other in an urban ghost town. Their reasons for doing so aren't particularly important, as the main draw of the series simply happens to be the homicide carnival. After three episodes, I'm mostly unimpressed with the menagerie of murderers who mostly seem sort of uninteresting, even the ones intentionally designed to be weirdos. That is, except for Chicken, who is already dead now. This is some bullshit. P.S. Spoilers.

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Dated 16 October 2017: Two Car looks good, sounds good

Yuri and Megumi
They're late for school, but not toast-in-mouth late.

It's not as good as Bakuon!! or Aa! Megami-sama through two episodes, but Two Car is pretty all right as far as a motorcycle anime goes. Whereas Ah! My Goddess (at least the manga) excelled at promoting motorcycles as magnificent machines offering transcendental experiences under theoretically plausible, realistic (banal, even) situations, Two Car takes an approach somewhat closer to Bakuon!!'s. That is, it presents medium-wacky motorcycle hijinks in a world which does not exist, but really ought to. If you can accept that sensha-dō is a real girl's sport, then accepting the world of Two Car where high school girls dominate the sport of sidecar motorcycle racing should be a cinch.

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Dated 2 October 2017: Symphogear? Still stupendous

Granny and Maria
Something something Maria, something something huge tomatoes.

I don't write about Symphogear as much as I ought to, consider that it's FUCKIN' GREAT. It's basically a miracle that we've gotten four seasons already with a fifth season supposedly on the way. This season, Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ ended up my second-favorite show, after Re:CREATORS but ahead of Princess Principal (which is itself way better than I expected). Still, I don't have much to say about Symphogear except that it's Symphogear. You either understand the appeal or you don't. It's definitely not something I expect to have any success in describing though text. Not in any way that does it justice, at least.

Shirabe and Prelati
Something something the appeal of a girl made of saws.

No doubt, there are still dubious readers on the fence about the whole thing. To be honest, the famous Symphogear meme chart pretty accurately describes the typical first-time viewing experience, aside from some outliers (like me) who were totally on board ever since Zwei Wing hit the stage in episode one of the first season. As to what you might expect in Symphogear AXZ? More singing while fighting (fighting while singing?), and more solving problems by punching them. The Hell else do you need?

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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