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Dated 4 February 2019: Yakusoku no Neverland is going to produce this season's Queen of Cardio

Emma
Emma has some hair.

I wasn't planning on watching Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland), but the Anime War Crimes Tribunal guy thought it was good, and it does have that noitaminA credibility (such as it is) attached to it, so I figured I'd give it a try. Through four episodes, it's all right, and benefits from its mostly serious subject matter and mysterious setting. Neverland is based on an ongoing manga that already has 12 volumes, though, so spoilers are plenty available, and it's just a matter of time before I stumble upon one accidentally, I'm sure. I assume this also means the anime will end without any real conclusion, unless the manga happens to have discrete stopping points.

Sister Krone
Oh, I like her.

Honestly, I don't think Yakusoku no Neverland is quite as clever as I think it wants to be, but it is at least refreshing to see non-idiot anime children think their way out of a jam. All the older kids with prominent roles are fairly precocious, and while we're not talking Ender's Game levels of genius, there is some thoughtful planning to tackle the constraints facing their plan. There is also a lot of running in this show, and it's all been animated in a satisfying sort of way. Running is one of those activities that loses me if animated in some sort of "uncanny valley" wrong way, so I'm pleased at the way the characters convincingly haul ass. In a relatively weak season (compared to, say, Winter 2018 for example), The Promised Neverland is an interesting and serious enough departure from typical generic anime that it's worth your time to chase it down.

Dated 17 December 2018: Maybe I just like neurotic orange-haired girls

Ranze and Saaya
So who's taller?

Ranze is a pretty minor character in Hugtto! Precure, and even her guest appearance in the most recent episode (44) was rather limited. Nevertheless, I appreciate that she occasionally shows up even if she's not necessarily bitching people out. That said, my enjoyment of her scenes is directly proportional to the amount and degree of sassing and/or highly motivated-but-questionable activities in which she engages.

Saaya and Ranze
Saaya or Ranze?

With regard to Hugtto! Precure itself, the show turned out to be a lot better than I was expecting. It's been consistently fun and it has good little gags. Fortunately, the magic baby did not turn out to be nearly as bad as I had feared. In fact, she can even sort of babble in technically complete sentences now. Seeing as how the magic baby is inevitably going to get her full-grown form back as Cure Spoilers again in the finale, I'm inclined to believe they should have just restored her, like, 20 episodes ago and been done with it. In any case, five will get you 10 that the mouse will still regard her as a love interest even after a year of basically being the magic baby's single parent.

Dated 22 October 2018: This is a blog post about Seishun Buta Yarō wa Bunny Girl-senpai no Yume wo Minai with the #SeiButa and #青ブタ hashtags in the title

Mai
Man, what is it with anime girls and libraries?

I started watching Seishun Buta Yarō wa Bunny Girl-senpai no Yume wo Minai (The Young Pig-Rascal Isn't Dreaming of a Bunny Girl Upperclassman or Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai) because it had a bunny girl. True story. Also because its description sounded chuuni as fuck. It turns out it does have a bunny girl and it is, in fact, chuuni as fuck. There are also straightfaced explanations about Schrödinger's cat early on in the show, but I guess that's all right, since everyone heard about it for the first time in some venue or another. I suppose there's no harm in young viewers learning about it for the first time through this anime.

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Dated 10 August 2018: Here we go again (Umimi 2018)

Umi
Okay, this is getting out of hand.

Dated 6 August 2018: This is Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight

Hikari
This was a blatant effort to encourage anime tourism.

I starting watching Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight thinking it was going to be an idol anime that would contrast nicely when watched back-to-back with Ongaku Shoujo. Yeah, that turned out to be wrong. It's not an "idol anime" at all, or at least it's less so an idol anime than it is a "wack ass giraffe fight club" anime, as I've seen it characterized on the IRC. To tell you the truth, I'm not entirely sure what to call it.

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Dated 30 July 2018: Hanebado! teaches me badminton is full of bitches

Ayano
I love that Ayano has Mystic Eyes of Badminton Perception.

Impressive animation in the PV guaranteed I was going to give Hanebado! a try, despite knowing essentially nothing about badminton. Through four episodes, the animation quality remains higher than I would have expected, and the show itself continues to land solid hits on many of the sports tropes I enjoy. Notably, its star is a preternatural talent who is weighed down by a hefty load childhood drama.

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Dated 26 March 2018: Sora yori mo Tooi Basho and Yuru Camp△ are the best shows of Winter 2018

Rin
There's also the matter of Rin's excellent hair.

Yuru Camp△ finished its 12-episode run last week with an open-ended conclusion to its deeply satisfying season. As far the actual narrative goes, I can't exactly claim Laid-Back Camp was particularly eventful, but the show's real strengths came from its pleasantly relaxed mood and its freakishly endearing lead character, Rin, anyway. I do like the other characters as well, though, and I'm particularly relieved Nadeshiko turned out to be a lot better than I initially feared, but Rin basically carried Yuru Camp△ for me. She did, after all, clinch the Girl of the Quarter crown in week 10 by racking up most of my Girl of the Week awards. If you place any stock in B.S. numerical ratings, I did score Yuru Camp△ in first place for most of the season before Sora yori mo Tooi Basho passed it.

Hinata
"When angry count four; when very angry, swear."

There's actually one episode of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho left, but I'm all but certain to subjectively regard it as this season's best show regardless of how it actually plays out. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (see this post for more about the show's name) is exceptionally well done. I'm particularly impressed with how it pays off the numerous little heartfelt investments it made during the course of the series. Also of note is the astute directing which has juggled comedy, drama, and even a little horror with skillful touches of emotional resonance in the right amounts and at the right times.

Violet
Mission top secret, destination unknown.

Speaking of emotional resonance, compare Sora yori mo Tooi Basho with the much hyped Violet Evergarden for example, which turned out to be a hot mess of wildly disparate levels of quality depending on the episode. I felt nearly all of them were clumsy and overwrought, with the exception of two episodes (both of which credit Sawa Shinpei as the episode director, incidentally). In particular, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho has made much better use of its music than Violet Evergarden has, as I've mentioned before. All in all, I'm very impressed with Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, and I'm looking forward to its creative team's future projects.

Dated 6 March 2018: Violet Evergarden is a fully automatic memory doll

Violet
Actually, Violet doesn't seem to brush her hair either.

Violet Evergarden is not subtle. The animation is beautiful, even by the already high standards I've come to expect of Kyoto Animation, but it's somewhat wasted in an uneven show. After eight episodes, I don't care about any of the characters—certainly none of these personality-free men with perpetually uncombed hair. I'm willing to pretend to care about Violet as the main character, but I think I should be more involved by this point so close to the show's end. I would have less of a problem with Violet being a cipher if the show were two cours or longer. As it is, it feels as if the entire auto memory doll letter-writing bit is filler instead of ostensibly one of the main aspects of the series. Is it telling that the far-and-away best episode to date was an anime-original addition?

Violet
WHAT MAKES THE GREEN GRASS GROW?

Writing aside, Violet Evergarden also seems too intent to serve as a talent showcase. It's filled with glorious vignettes, but mostly does not work for me as a whole. In particular, I find the background music incredibly intrusive. The music itself is good, despite not being especially memorable, but the bigger problem is I don't think I should be noticing it nearly as much as I do. In any case, it takes me out of the scene entirely too often. As with most of the other problems I have with Violet Evergarden, it's good from a technical perspective, but would benefit from more restraint. Or perhaps I'm only getting distracted by these components because I'm not invested in the show itself? Probably the lack of appreciation for the plot is entirely my fault, as I'm clearly more interested in the wartime flashbacks and post-war aspects than I am in Violet's effort to understand feelings. Violet Evergarden is only just now revealing the role its titular character played in the war and how she reached the state where we found her in the first episode.

Violet
I don't know why Violet is wearing short pants.

The explanations raise a lot of additional questions that I don't expect to be addressed. For one, considering how unremarkable Violet seemed to be when she was, uh, acquired, why doesn't the army have a lot more of these emotionless child soldiers? Violet was a goddamn wrecking machine that her unit dispatched when it needed someone to ninja the shit out of the enemy. And she was the only one with the situational awareness to identify a pretty obviously vulnerable position. It just seems they could have used a lot more of her ilk. I don't think this is nitpicking, because there should be a compelling reason why Violet has such a gift for killing. If the focus of the show is supposed to be emotional discovery and recovering from loss and the horrors of war, Violet Evergarden could conceivably hit the same points by making her a regular-type scrub child solider as opposed to a Norse valkyrie holy terror.