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Dated 12 April 2022: Akebi-chan is an escapist fantasy

Komichi
Life sure is great.

Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi’s Sailor Uniform) is a show that encourages adopting a positive attitude. It promotes the idea that if you embrace optimism and do your best, things will work out better and your life will be filled with amazing moments that create wonderful memories. It's not a bad argument for a series to make. There's a place in the world for these sorts of perspectives, and you'll find it in a countryside that's always gorgeous and not at all filled with countless biting insects.

Komichi, Ai, Minoru, and Riri
Every swimming segment was really good.

Aside from that observation, I don't have much to add to this end-of-season wrap-up post, except maybe just acknowledging that it was one of the best shows from the Winter 2022 anime season. It turned out much better than I was expecting. I guess I should also point out that I am aware some viewers had a much different opinion of it, with some even taking an especially negative stance towards Akebi-chan.

Komichi and Erika
Now you're just showing off.

In this regard, I suspect some of the more visceral responses probably reveal more about the internalized reactions some viewers experienced—and their discomfort reconciling them—than anything about the Akebi-chan series itself. Over the years, I've come to understand my more oblique way to conveying ideas can be unnecessarily unclear, so I'll just say it plainly this time (hopefully without implying that those who aren't getting it are obtuse).

Actually, you know what? I changed my mind. I'm not gonna spell it out.

Dated 1 March 2022: Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku sure is lewd

Komichi and Yuwa
I don't know why Komichi doesn't have more uniforms or do laundry more often.

Saying Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi’s Sailor Uniform) has a lot of fan service is not exactly a controversial claim now that we're eight episodes into the season, but I don't mean it as criticism anyway. Rather, this is an indirect segue to acknowledging the series is beautifully animated. It's remarkable how consistently gorgeous every shot looks, honestly. In particular, the setting is so exquisitely detailed it's basically pornographic.

House
I mean, look at this house.

In light of this, I suppose it is not exactly inaccurate to suggest the Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku anime provides so many lingering shots examining its characters' bodies considering it basically does this for everything else in the show. Whether or not this makes it lewd is subjective, but I'm hardly the first person to comment on the sort of framing that pervades the anime. I've not read the source manga, but I have encountered claims the anime is toned down in comparison, so I'm pretty confident in concluding there is something there.

Riri and Komichi
"Come with me if you want to live swim."

Like I said, none of this is meant as a criticism. The show is legitimately entertaining in addition to looking fantastic. Akebi's Sailor Uniform (like My Dress-Up Darling) has pleasantly surprised me with how good it is. This might not be the deepest-stacked anime season, but it's not a barren one either. Even though I don't believe I'm in the target audience for something like Akebi-chan, it's appealing enough that I enjoy it anyway. Oh, and I assume that "100 friends" thing was made up for the promotional materials or whatever. It hasn't come up at all.

Dated 11 January 2022: I started watching Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku because it's part of the 100-friends anime trilogy

Akebi
Akebi is very bendy.

Well, it didn't come up at all during the first episode, but the promotional material for Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi's Sailor Uniform) states Akebi wants to make 100 friends at her new school. This is the same goal Shouko expresses in Komi-san wa, Comyushou desu. (Komi Can't Communicate) (the best show from the Autumn 2021 anime season, incidentally). I didn't know anything else about the series before I started watching it (although I was spoiled about the twist), but it seems like it's going to be one of those shows where there's not a whole lot of drama. The first classmate she meets might actually be a nutjob, so I can't rule out the possibility the show is full of weirdos. That's just speculation on my part, though.

Yamada
A girl's gotta have goals.

Oh, if you haven't worked out yet what the third show in the 100-friends anime trilogy is, it's B Gata H Kei (Yamada's First Time). After graduating from middle school, Yamada sets a goal for herself to land 100 sex friends. I guess she doesn't technically express any interest in the friends part, but I'm going to include it. I'm going to include it because B Gata H Kei is an underrated masterpiece.

Dated 17 August 2021: I'm only still watching Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! because it is new

Jahy
The Dark Realm might not have been a meritocracy.

I probably would not have started watching Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! (The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated!) if there had been more shows to watch this season. The best thing it seemed to have going for it was some speculation prior to its start that it would be controversial in certain circles for reasons I did not explore (but which I assume are probably related to the titular character's pantsless child form). However, after three episodes, it does not appear as if anyone gives a shit about this—at least not enough to attack it.

Jahy
At least her labor is being exploited now.

As far as its qualities go, entertainment-wise, Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! is just okay at best. None of its jokes land for me. It certainly would not be my first recommendation to anyone looking for a series with this sort of setup. Y'all would be much better off watching Machikado Mazoku or Hataraku Maou-sama! or Gabriel DropOut instead. Even with not much else to watch this season, I'm still going to drop it if the reappearance of the mahou shoujo who wrecked Jahy's kingdom doesn't improve things significantly. So far, she's had zero lines and only a few seconds of screen time, but her school-uniform alter ego is in the ED experiencing various misfortunes. I do appreciate me some unrighteous misfortune.

Dated 13 July 2021: The End of KoiKimo and HigeHiro ~Air/My Purest Love for JKs~

Ryo and Ichika
They're not flirting.

I started the Spring 2021 season with an entry covering both Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love or KoiKimo) and Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (I Shaved. Then I Brought a High School Girl Home. or HigeHiro), so I guess I should have a post wrapping them up as well. I found KoiKimo to be a better series, perhaps because of its straightforward story. It also helps that KoiKimo leaves Ichika in control of her fate. It is ultimately Ichika's decision whether her relationship with Ryo will advance or not.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

Sayu does not have this luxury in HigeHiro. Maybe it's disingenuous to claim HigeHiro is about Yoshida "looking for something attractive to save" (my apologies to Liz Phair), but replace Yoshida's name here with "the audience's surrogate," and maybe it's not far off the mark. KoiKimo and HigeHiro both ended up where I expected, but Sayu had much less say over the path she took to get there.

Ryo and Ichika
Making the end credits look more like the manga art was a nice touch.

In contrast, KoiKimo is an honest romance. There is no real mystery whether Ichika and Ryo will actually end up together or not, even though KoiKimo does introduce rival love interests for both leads. Moreover, the rivals are genuinely more sensible partners from every objective metric. However, the most obvioius impediment—the age gap between Ichika and Ryo—is never depicted as a meaningful obstacle. When it is finally viewed as a problem, its solution is entirely unsurprising.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

The solutions to the challenges presented in HigeHiro are also fairly obvious, but the series insists on pantomiming a number of unconvincing feints. They're unconvincing because Sayu basically has no flaws, and Yoshida clearly feels something for her. He never has a reason to turn her away, and Sayu's rivals for Yoshida's attention are dubious love interests who quickly end up supporting Sayu anyway.

Sayu
Relax, Sayu. Wonder Eggs are only 500 yen each.

In fact, Sayu's true adversaries are her lack of self-worth, her family's disinterest in her welfare, and the story's insistence at making Yoshida obtuse. Yoshida's behavior is baffling in HigeHiro, and not just because he denies being attracted to the sexually available high school girl living with him. Yoshida's behavior is baffling because he's willing to accept immediately on faith that Sayu would be better off returning to her home, without ever examining even the slightest bit the reasons why she ran away in the first place. It seems irresponsible to not at least contemplate the myriad awful situations that potentially compel teenagers to leave home and offer sex to strangers just to survive.

Sayu
HigeHiro showed Sayu orgasming on screen.

Of course, the real reason Yoshida never asks is because the story can't let him or the audience know before the narrative is ready. It turns out the unpleasant situation Sayu fled wasn't that bad, but that's the case only because HigeHiro insists on rehabilitating its antagonists immedately after introducing them. This sort of cowardice is a significant weakness of HigeHiro, as it makes its conflicts fairly hollow. The challenges presented in KoiKimo are not intractable either, but at least they don't take on a fraudulent quality.

Ichika
Ichika grew accustomed Ryo's nightly calls without realizing it.

KoiKimo succeeded by being forthright about its romance and committing to it unapologetically. In contrast, HigeHiro (like Yoshida himself) spends basically the entire series maintaining an unconvincing veneer of plausible deniability over whether or not Sayu is an actual love interest. At the risk of attracting accusations of being in favor of age-inappropriate pairings, I'm going to suggest HigeHiro does this to its detriment.

Sayu and Yoshida
They had to put him in a chair watching her sleep
so people wouldn't insist they still fucked.

I suppose I can't speak for its source material, but the anime most certainly portrays Sayu as an eligible partner. Does HigeHiro provide Sayu with agency by having her test Yoshida's resolve each time she propositions him? Or does the series undermine Sayu's agency by presenting these moments solely so Yoshida can continue to rebuff her and showcase his unflagging integrity? I'm not answering this rhetorical, but I think we all know.

Dated 27 October 2020: More more more Autumn 2020 impressions

Tsurumi and Tsukishima
He had it coming.

Some of the shows I covered in previous posts (1st, 2nd, 3rd) included remakes and sequels or continuations. Well, there are more. Golden Kamuy also resumed this season. It's described as the third season, but really it's just the third cours of series. The anime remains as good as ever, thanks to the strength of the source material. In fact, the anime has improved by thus far avoiding the 3DCG pitfalls that unfortunately distracted from the first cours.

Mutsuko and Daigo
Daigo is short.

Major 2nd S2 remains consistently good as anyone who has ever followed the franchise would expect. The current arc again revisits events from the first season of Major 2nd, but it should still be accessible to new viewers. Well, they can be new to Major, but it probably helps to know at least a little about baseball. At a minimum, it will reinforce how relatively lucky the new girl has been so far despite making a lot of basic mistakes.

Akira
This is not actually a room.

One Room is also back for a third season. It's first-person-anime gimmick seems a bit lewder this time around than I remember from the previous installments. However, it's still fairly tame even though the first girl found an excuse to whip off her clothes by the second episode. I guess since the characters only gets three episodes for each arc they have to make the best of their opportunities.

Hattori and Miyafuji
Strike Witches is still Miyafuji's show.

Going the other way, Strike Witches: Dai-501 Tougou Sentou Koukuudan ROAD to BERLIN (the third "proper" season of Strike Witches) is definitely less lewd now compared to how it started out. The first season of Strike Witches featured uncensored casual nudity on a fairly regular basis. This season started with an appearance by Sakamoto Mio wearing pants, of all things. PANTS!

Dated 6 October 2020: Autumn 2020 first impressions

Setsuna
2D & 3DCG integration during the all-signing, all-dancing parts finally look right.

A new anime season is upon us again. Every quarter, I assess which shows I expect to watch during the upcoming season and add them to my animetrics table. However what actually seems to happen is that I just watch whatever comes out first, providing it's not shounen jive or something that looks super bad. In the past, I would write up a comprehensive post that summarizes every show that I sampled, but those days are long gone now.

Kasumi
Are you Best Girl? You sort of seem like you might be Best Girl.

What I can do, though, is draw your attention to a few of the bright spots from this first batch. Unexpectedly, the launch of a new Love Live installment caught me by surprise. I knew one was in the works, but somehow missed that it was starting in October. I don't actually regard myself as a Love Live fan, but I have seen all of it and I guess I'm going to watch Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai (Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club) too. The first episode was about what I would have expected from a new Love Live spinoff, but I can at least identify three highlights: (1) The somen joke was genuinely amusing. (2) The character who I expected to suffer from debilitating shyness seems to merely be kuudere. (3) The aggravated red-eyed girl at the end made faces I enjoyed.

Elaina
Flan has a better hat, but she's been a witch longer than Elaina.

Majo no Tabitabi (Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina) had the best first episode of the shows I sampled. [Update: I wrote this before I watched Munou na Nana (Talentless Nana), the new champ. It's worth checking out, but I suggest going in blind to avoid spoilers.] The visuals look fantastic, and the episode itself did not go the way I expected, so I'm hopeful that the rest of the show will continue to remain interesting. I also like witches and big hats, and this show had witches AND big hats, so that's a bonus.

Claudia
I don't think it's actually Claudia's fault everyone keeps dying.

Finally (for now), I'm going to mention that Senyoku no Sigrdrifa (Warlords of Sigrdrifa) has airplanes and tolerable lore. The dogfights are nice (albeit with handwaved physics), but they are not as spectacular as in The Magnificient KOTOBUKI. (Admittedly, that's a really high bar.) One serious potential problem is they're basically fighting the Neuroi from Strike Witches. Those types of adversaries are basically never interesting, so this could be a liability for Sigrdrifa too. One thing I am curious about, though, is why the anime appeared to cast Kayano Ai and Horie Yui in what seemed like unimportant bit parts. I can't tell if there's no meaning to it, or if it reveals these characters will actually take on much greater importance as the show develops. I guess I'm going to have to stick around to find out.

Dated 28 July 2020: Major 2nd S2 is back

Tao, Sakura, Yayoi, and Anita
This is not an enthusiasm comparison chart.

The second season of Major 2nd went on hiatus after episode seven in the spring, but has resumed production for the summer anime season. It's not clear to me how long the show will run, but I'm hoping the Major franchise remains popular enough that we'll get at least a few more cours out of it. Having a mostly female cast and (so far) no sudden tragedies are departure from the norm, but not ones that have hurt the series at all.

Daigo and Sakura
This is a baseball thing, not a Covid thing.

The first season of Major 2nd already established that Daigo's story was going to be significantly different from Goro's in that Daigo's talent for the sport has been entirely unremarkable, and certainly so compared to Goro's freakish abilities. However, through 10 episodes of the second season, Daigo has effectively applied the lessons he's learned as he finesses the new leadership role that was thrust upon him.

Yamaguchi
The teacher isn't giving signs. She got bonked on the head by a foul ball while napping.

Daigo's middle school team of mostly girls is doing well, but they're by no means assured of victory in these contests. All of them are talented to some degree, but there a few areas that could use significant improvement. Even some fundamentals are shaky at times. I'm hoping Major 2nd Season 2 continues running long enough for the team to come together, because it's not going to happen overnight. I am optimistic for an extended run, though. A new OP is scheduled to drop 22 August, coinciding with the return of Horie Yui's character from the first season. Hell yeah.