Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 3 March 2020: Heya Camp△ needs more Rin and more △

Nadeshiko
Nadeshiko is okay even though she maintains boundless optimism in the face of adversity.

I enjoy Yuru Camp△ and its mini-sequel Heya Camp△ quite a bit, but really I'm in it for Rin doing Rin things. This is not to say that I don't appreciate the other characters or the show's antics as a whole, but I definitely have a substantial bias in favor of the One True Camper. Because of this, my viewing experience so far for the Heya Camp△ shorts consists of solidly favorable reactions punctuated with the occasional, "Where in Hell is Rin, God damn it?" outbursts.

Aoi
Aoi fills a gaijin tourist's head with lies.

Rin actually is in Heya Camp△, just sort of infrequently. I don't know that this is enough to tie me over until the proper second season actually starts (whenever that is), but it will have to do. In the meantime, I suppose I had better start warming up to the rest of the cast. I could also go for some more scenes of their alcoholic teacher, but I have the feeling the few seconds we've gotten so far are all we're gonna get. She is a bad influence on impressionable campers, even when they are not camping.

Dated 28 January 2020: Star☆Twinkle Precure hands the torch to Healin' Good ♡ Precure

Hikaru
There's also an epilogue again with the characters grown up.

I liked Star☆Twinkle Precure well enough, but never got particularly enthused about it. This might be a sign of general Pretty Cure burnout, since I feel this way about each Pretty Cure iteration now more often than not, but standouts like Go! Princess Precure and Hugtto! Precure still recapture my attention, so I don't think I'm necessarily tired of the franchise as a whole. In any case, Star☆Twinkle Precure was "fine" and had good parts, but overall will end up towards the bottom if I'm pressed to rank every Pretty Cure season from most-to-least favorite, alas.

Nodoka and Latte
The new Cure seems very normal.

The final episode of Star☆Twinkle Precure introduced Cure Grace, the lead Cure of its successor season, Healin' Good ♡ Precure, as the series is now wont to do. I don't actually know much about Healin' Good ♡ Precure, because I haven't been following the reports about its development or seeking out the usual buzz that precedes upcoming seasons of Pretty Cure. I don't even know what the Healin' Good ♡ part of the name references, although I'm sort of hoping it's about improving cardiovascular fitness. Maybe Cure Grace will be joined by Cure Fartlek and Cure Pain Is Just Weakness Leaving the Body. Well, I guess I do know that Cure Grace is voiced by Yuuki Aoi, but it seems she's not using her Youjo Senki voice. It's a huge missed opportunity, honestly.

Dated 21 January 2020: I'm committed to watching Railgun Tango even though I'll probably hate a lot of it

SATEN
SATEN constantly looks as if she needs a haircut, but she apparently never gets one.

There is no end to the amount of bitching I could do about Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T (A Certain Scientific Railgun T) and the Index universe as a whole. Seriously, though, it is mostly bad. Like, wall-to-wall bad. Nevertheless, I fully intend to watch both cours of Railgun 3 even though Railgun 2 was not nearly as good as Railgun 1, and it's been so long since I've seen Railgun 1 that I have to question if I would even like it as much now as I did then. (I bought the Blu-rays anyway. Still unopened.)

Kuroko and SATEN
I'm also not 100-percent sure I remember why Kuroko is in a wheelchair.

What I do know is that I still really like SATEN even though my reasons for liking her are entirely superficial. Here is a numbered list:

  1. SATEN has excellent hair. Like, for real. This is straight-up one of the biggest reasons.
  2. She's voiced by Itō Kanae, who typically uses a much more normal-sounding voice than you usually find in anime. Or at least it sounds normal to me.
  3. I get to continue writing SATEN Ruiko's surname in all capital letters (you know, like, on the Twitter) even though I've entirely forgotten why I started doing that in the first place. In any case, I've done it too long now to stop.
  4. As the only character in the main Railgun cast without superpowers, the distinction makes her the special one, I guess. I'm at least under the impression this is a big part of the reason why other SATEN fans like her—especially other SATEN fans who probably don't care about my first three reasons.

That's it. That's my list. You thought there would be five reasons, right? Because five is an honorary round number, eh. Fuck you, no it's not. Four reasons are all I need. And really I only needed the first two. SATEN's hair and Ito Kanae are wonderful.

Dated 14 January 2020: 22/7, In/Spectre, and Fate/Baby are my top three shows of the Winter 2020 anime season

Ishtar
Ishtar is a game-breaking home run.

If you believe in my B.S. episode ratings, Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia) is my highest-ranked show so far this season. Fate/Baby sure sounds great and looks fuckin' fantastic, but I can't exactly call it a good show. It's one of those anime where I can't quite care about what happens, and it probably only genuinely makes sense to people who are enthusiastic about the Fate/Grand Order game. But none of that presents much of an obstacle to my ability to enjoy the series. I mentioned that it sounds great, and that's not just because it features Ueda Kana yammering back and forth on a regular basis. The audio mix for the sound effects during the frequent battles makes for an entertaining experience if you've bothered with an audio setup that can take advantage of it. Visually, the animation also remains impeccable.

Sakura, Miu, and Reika
Welcome to to idol mines, suckers.

Thankfully, 22/7 (Nanabun no Nijyuuni) also looks good. I'm expecting some janky 3DCG bits once we get to the all-singing, all-dancing portions of this idol show, but the anime looks pretty good so far, at least. I've been medium-hyped for 22/7 for some time now, thanks to Sally Amaki being a bilingual goofball on the Twitter. I'm hoping her character gets some English lines that aren't complete non sequiturs, though. Each of the idols had a different character designer, but the styles got evened out so they look more uniform when they're together. (Like in the Pretty Cure team-up movies.) This is the sensible thing to do, but I sort of wish they could have remained unique for reasons not at all explained in the show.

Kotoko
Nice hat.

I wasn't sure what to expect from In/Spectre (Kyokou Suiri), but I knew fans of the manga were looking forward to the anime adaptation, and the trailer looked okay. The first episode was good, and I like Kotoko so far, even though she doesn't have any depth perception. She also seems to move pretty well, despite her prosthetic leg. It sort of seems as if her cane is mostly for show. Frankly, it's a little early yet to judge In/Spectre (or 22/7, for that matter), but my top three anime of Winter 2020 at the moment all have / in their titles, and this was a serendipitous bloggering opportunity I didn't want to pass up. I'm sure y'all understand.

Dated 31 December 2019: Ascendance of a Bookworm is good, but I've lost all interest in watching more

Main and Gunther
Did fist bumps already exists in this community or did Main introduce them?

I find the individual episodes of Honzuki no Gekokujō - Shisho ni Naru Tame niwa Shudan o Erandeiramasen (Ascendance of a Bookworm) reasonably well done, but there's something about the show as a whole that I find rather unappealing. I've never been able to precisely identify what the issue was, but now I guess I don't have to. Honzuki is getting a (split-cours) second season which starts in April, but I think I'm done with this franchise.

Main
You're not Alice. Why are you so yellow now?

So, spoilers for the first season's grand finale, but Honzuki somewhat abruptly switched from "Main's disease will eventually kill her" to "we found a solution to Main's disease, but this social class we've entirely ignored up until this very moment will capriciously kill you and your entirely family and there's nothing you can do about it unless you're strong in The Force." I don't have any problem with including these sorts of elements in a fantasy show, but the way Ascendance of a Bookworm is putting all its pieces together is not at all compelling. I'd much rather watch more chuuni magic school battle nonsense like Assassin's Pride than more Honzuki, to tell you the truth.

Dated 24 December 2019: I didn't plan to write back-to-back Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld entries

Yui
Go on, Yui, curse the bitches out.

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld has a mind of its own. Or at least, Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld is about AIs having minds of their own. Specifically, Alice Synthesis Thirty MacGuffin is the prize AI the bad men are trying to seize because she is a real girl. Never mind that Sword Art Online has had a Real Girl AI almost from the start in the form of Yui, Kirito's and Asuna's adopted daughter. Yui isn't even a secret!

Pope
It's not easy being pope.

For that matter, I'm not sure there's any meaningful distinction between the Underworld AI yahoos and the "real world" regular-ass people. I certainly regard Alice as being every bit as much as a real character as I do, say, Asuna, even though Alice is very yellow. I definitely regarded the pope as being more of a real person than nearly every other Sword Art Online villain (including the current ones). Ultimately, this has a lot less to do with Alice and the pope being AIs than it does with Sword Art Online having lots of terribly written characters—especially when it comes to its villains.

Alice
This reminds me I need to get a new video card.

I'm inclined to believe Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld theoretically could actually have something intelligent to say about artificial intelligence and what makes someone a real person, but any chance it had got undermined by the really awful writing that has plagued the franchise from the beginning. I still find it entertaining, even though Alice is very yellow, but I do wish the franchise would move past its more egregious tropes. The Ordinal Scale movie accomplished this with some success, but it seems to be the exception, not the norm.

Dated 17 December 2019: The war in Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld is not much of a war

Alice
This break in the battle has lasted so long that Alice changed into her pajamas.

It's not particularly sensible to demand accurate war-type stuff in an anime, especially something like Sword Art Online, but they did put War in the title, and they have been building up to this particular conflict for some time. What we've gotten instead is tens of thousands of random schmucks directly facing each other in a narrow canyon making no effort to do anything other than having head-to-head fights. Some people might claim that the battles at least look pretty cool, but that's a concession I'm not willing to make this season, what with Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia raising the bar to ridiculous new levels every week now.

<Divine> Maybe that's just what happens when two sides who don't know what war is given it a try

That's basically it. Now, I'm not unreasonable enough to demand "actually realistic" war in my SAO ~ War Is All Hell ~ anime, but I would have given it a pass without commenting on it had it at least aspired to, say, Strike Witches: War on Underpants levels of realism.

Asuna and Alice
This show is called Alicization, not Asunization, toots.

Now that I've got this bitching out of the way, I guess I can get around to the main point of this post: Spoiling the most recent episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld. So, Asuna finally logs into the AI world and is immediately beset upon by an extremely yellow blur. Everyone eventually calms the fuck down, though. They even listen to the batshit crazy things Asuna tells them. Frankly, I'm impressed they don't even seem irked that she's referring to her own world as the "real world." Yeah, these AIs are living in a computer, but it probably feels pretty real to them. I would be at least a little insulted. On the plus side, at least she isn't being racist about it.

Kirito
Have you tried rebooting the Kirito in the "real world"?

I'm generally pro-Asuna, even though she hasn't fared particularly well as an actual character in Sword Art Online as a franchise. It was also not encouraging to see all the latest members of Kirito's ever-expanding harem butt in for additional deban and to boast about how great their times with him have been. Hopefully, they're getting all of this out of the way now, and maybe the show can go back to leaving him in a wagon somewhere while Alice is off doing very yellow very important things. I'm okay with Asuna coming along too, providing she doesn't spend all her time talking about Kirito.

Dated 3 December 2019: Still enjoying Kono Oto Tomare! despite (or because of) all the drama

Hozuki
Hozuki is still Best Girl even though she's nice to people now.

The second cours of Kono Oto Tomare! Sounds of Life continues to satisfy with its steady stream of people being judgmental assholes. That bit from the first cours where smug douches jump to conclusions based on false accusations and totally unfair assumptions reappears here, but still manages to avoid crossing into irritating territory. It's a fine line, but I like how the show doles out the inevitable comeuppance and vindicates the accused.

Akira
You're okay. Try not to drive into a hedge.

I don't know how the source material is paced, but a bunch of characters are piling into the show as of the most recent episode, presumably in a rush to work in all the bits related to the upcoming competition before the season ends. This does work to its detriment, but it's the sort of thing I'm willing to excuse since the sum of the parts totals favorably. I'm not expecting further episodes of Kono Oto Tomare! after this season ends, but I'd watch more.