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Dated 24 March 2020: Four thoughts about Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia; the third one will shock you

Ana
Ana is a good girl.

Firstly, I fully expected to find Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia (Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia) mostly incomprehensible, since I was basically ignorant about its lore aside from what I managed to glean via the Twitter and from the copious amounts of fan art devoted to the franchise. This did, indeed, turn out to be the case. It certainly does not help that Fate/Baby was episode seven within its underlying Fate GO game's narrative.

Leonardo and Romani
Leonardo never pulled up a chair of her own.

Secondly, none of that mattered, since the animation in Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia was frickin' amazing. It was literally so good that the story was inconsequential. It's worth watching just because it looks so good. I know in a post-Shirobako world we're not supposed to mention the B-word, but the anime adaptation of a franchise that prints money clearly had resources available to it, that, say, Cop Craft did not. The animation in Cop Craft gave me the impression people were doing the best they could in the face of adversity they did not control. The animation in Babylonia made me think animators were showing off and trying to outdo each other week after week.

Ishtar
Believe it, baby.

Thirdly, these conditions serendipitously produced the best variant of Tohsaka Rin (Toosaka, whatever) of all time. Even better than Kaleido Ruby. I don't actually know why Ishtar looks like Rin from Fate/stay night. I literally could not break it down for you even though the show explicitly addressed it, and I've read the various summaries found in wikis for the game and whatnot. I find these explanations unsatisfactory. In any event, it doesn't matter. All you need to know is that Ishtar is a game-breaking home run. Oh, and Ereshkigal is okay, too.

Gilgamesh
It turns out Gilgamesh was a lot more chill back in the day.

Finally, Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia was a really loud show. I don't think the show streamed with a discrete LFE channel (I didn't check), but it was at least mixed in such a way that every episode got considerable use out of my subwoofer. Planet With was sort of like this too, but it was sort of unpleasant during Planet With. On the other hand the deep impacts and 'splosions in Fate/Baby were really satisfying. I keep telling people not to skimp on the audio portion when setting up their preferred viewing space, whether it be a television or a computer. Hopefully, fans of Babylonia followed this practice as well. Totally worth it.

Dated 10 February 2020: Adding Slave Hero to Isekai Quartet hasn't ruined it yet

Naofumi and Raphtalia
"Naofumi, what are we going to do inside the Shield Prison?"

Finding out that the cast of Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari (The Rising of the Shield Hero) was joining Isekai Quartet did not exactly fill me with a lot of confidence about its second season (which inexplicably isn't called Isekai Quintet), but it's been okay so far. Then again, the Shield Hero cast hasn't been in the first four episodes very much. Most of my trepidation derives from my fairly negative impressions of Shield Hero as a show (I watched 13 episodes), my lack of interest in the characters, and the rather defensive attitude the franchise's more vocal supporters seem to adopt on the Twitter. These did not seem to be ideal additions to a comedy about characters being portrayed as dipshits.

Ainz and Aqua
Aqua is sort of racist, to tell you the truth.

Naturally, the Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! cast fits right in, because they're dipshits to begin with. Aqua is a delight—so much so that I want retcons of other Tenchan roles except portrayed as basically Aqua analogs. (For example, Asseylum Vers Allusia from Aldnoah.Zero except with Aqua's personality and intelligence. You can't tell me Slaine's tragic loyalty to Aqua Vers Allusia wouldn't have improved the second season.) Given a choice, I'll definitely take idiots like Aqua over sourpusses like Naofumi when it comes to wacky comedy crossovers.

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 June 2019: Chou Kadou Girl ⅙: Amazing Stranger is no Hand Maid May

Haruto and Nona
It's probably so nasty under there.

Chou Kadou Girl ⅙: Amazing Stranger is about a sentient 1/6th scale anime figurine who lives with a fan of her franchise. Although there are other shows about tiny wives and the people who love them (for example, Nona arguably has more in common with her Frame Arms Girl counterparts), I'm still going to point to Hand Maid May as the best example of this sort of thing. I think it's because I enjoy the two human leads in Hand Maid May (Kazuya and Kasumi), whereas I'm mostly ambivalent about Haruto from Amazing Stranger. His kid sister seems okay, but she's not in the show much. Both Hand Maid May and Amazing Stranger do feature copious amounts of fan service and lots of meta humor, so I guess they also have that in common. I've written about Hand Maid May a fair amount on this site already, so just read those old entries if you're still curious why I seem to like it so much.

Nona
The explanation for why Nona sleeps in the refrigerator was not at all convincing.

With regard to Chou Kadou Girl ⅙: Amazing Stranger, it's sort of uneven, but I find some of the gags amusing. I also like the robotic autotuned voice in the OP. More importantly, I appreciate that Nona is not entirely dense, so the show isn't structured around increasingly strained misunderstandings and complex scams. That is a nice change of pace. It also makes her a bit more human. I guess that's technically a sort of racist thing to say about a tiny plastic space...whatever she is, but it is an important part of getting me to care about the events within the show. That was something notable about Hand Maid May—I cared about where the characters were going to end up. Amazing Stranger isn't quite there yet, but hopefully its remaining episodes will provide at least a little more emotional resonance.

Dated 13 May 2019: Isekai Quartet is a ploy to get us to watch more isekai anime

Ainz
It's because Ainz can't close his eyes. He has no eyelids.

As far as gimmicks go, I find Isekai Quartet fairly effective because I'm a sucker for crossovers. Plus, I was already a fan of the Ple Ple Pleiades shorts accompanying the Overlord anime. Isekai Quartet essentially expands Ple Ple Pleiades by adding characters from Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, and Youjo Senki for additionally high-wacky antics. I have watched all of these shows, and although I dropped Re:Zero after five episodes, I'm at least familiar enough with the franchise to understand the basic references and character dynamics.

Ram
Ram seems okay.

As far as the show itself goes, Isekai Quartet has half-length episodes and is not particularly ambitious. It seems to mostly trust that viewers will enjoy seeing the interactions among characters from different shows they already like. Nobody strays too far from their idiom, and the series is entertaining enough for what it is. Isekai Quartet is surely also an effort to encourage viewers to explore these shows further if they didn't catch them the first time around. Youjo Senki and Konosuba both have movies I want to watch, and Re:Zero recently announced a sequel. I have to admit that I'm amused enough by Ram's mistreatment of Subaru during each episode of Isekai Quartet that I'm considering giving the first season of Re:Zero another chance. If I do, maybe I'll be caught up before the sequel begins. Just as planned, I'm sure, eh, Kadokawa.

Dated 22 April 2019: There are at least two shows this season about not being able to study

Uruka
Lucky for Potato-kun, Uruka is tsundere, not yandere.

I guess I did know ahead of time that there were two shows with Benkyou ga Dekinai in the title, but managed to forget when the season started. In any event, I had decided to watch Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (We Never Learn: BOKUBEN) and skip Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (Ao-chan Can't Study!) based on their descriptions, and because Bokuben at least had some people on the Twitter mildly looking forward to it. Well, I ended up watching the first episode of Ao-chan by accident (it aired first) and decided to stick with it.

Takumi and Ao
Dude is literally sniffing his hand after groping Ao's thighs.

After three episodes of each, I'm going to continue watching Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai and I'm dropping Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai. I was concerned Ao-chan's little goblin father was going to ruin the show for me, particularly after his antics in the first episode, but I'm relieved to discover the show itself is pretty much a straightforward sex comedy about misunderstandings. One key that allows the show to work for me is that both Ao and her love interest are actually already into each other, and probably should be engaging in activities that might inadvertently help address Japan's declining birth rates, but they're both pretty dense. This is a small (but appreciated) departure from the usual formula where both parties are 100-percent pure. Ao-chan Can't Study! might end up being that way too, since—let's face it—anime is fucking chickenshit, but the show is okay for now. It also helps that the episodes are only half-length.

Nariyuki and Fumino
I guess now she can't get married.

Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai, on the other hand, drags. I get the feeling that I would probably be okay with some of its cliches in manga form, because a reader can just blow through at his own pace. But the anime spends entirely too much time on antics I've seen plenty of times before and don't feel compelled to revisit. Most of the show's fans seem to have been fans of the manga first, but I'm not sure how they regard the adaptation specifically. I, for one, could do with less Postmodern Tsundere bullshit. I'm actually even okay with all the characters. I guess even Potato-kun has his own positive qualities, but the show absolutely does not work for me. Frankly, I stopped caring whether these BOKUBEN bonklers manage to study or not. I can't guarantee I won't also tire of Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai too, but for the time being I hope she goes all season not being able to study.

Dated 18 March 2019: I'm starting to think Slave Hero might be a douchebag

Melty and Filo
There sure are a lot of kids in this show.

It's been 10 episodes and the titular protagonist of Tate no Yuusha no Nariagari (The Rising of the Shield Hero) has leveled up a bunch of his video game attributes, but doesn't seem to have improved at all as a person. Bear in mind the show is now quite a few episodes past its "big moment" with someone finally sticking up for Naofumi while he's balled up on the floor retreating from the world. It's almost as if Naofumi isn't really a very nice person even though he's kind enough to feed his slaves every day.

Filo and Raphtalia
Raphtalia is, like, 10.

Regardless of how a viewer might feel about Naofumi initially (and I can appreciate that there may be those who commiserate with him on at least some level and genuinely believe he got a raw deal, even if I don't personally hold that perspective), it seems even the most sympathetic fan must surely by now also be tired of his arrested emotional state. After all this time he's STILL suffering from a crippling inability to trust anyone? You know, maybe the problem is you, dude.