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Dated 10 May 2022: Paripi Koumei is not an idol anime, but I'm pairing it with Love Live! Nijigasaki anyway

Eiko and Kongming
It must be inconvenient carrying that thing around all the time.

I initially passed on Paripi Koumei (a contraction of Party People Koumei, but officially localized as Ya Boy Kongming!) because a show about Zhuge Liang (a Chinese strategist from the Three Kingdoms era) reincarnating in modern Japan and adapting his expertise for use within the music industry didn't really appeal to me. However, I kept hearing good things about it, and the OP is really catchy, so here we are.

Eiko
I enjoyed Eiko's bewilderment at her sudden spike in popularity.

It turns out the series really is good. It's also worth pointing out Paripi Koumei is much more about Eiko, a singer who Kongming decides to support, than I had realized before I started watching it. Or, at least it was for its first four episodes. The latest two have been about a rapper who Kongming pursues, and there are more characters from the OP who I still don't recognize, so I don't actually know if Eiko's role will remain as prominent.

Yuu and Kaoruko
Somehow, questions about their hair never come up, though.

Questions about who the series is going to focus on also appear in Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai 2. Besides the already sizable cast, the second cours of Nijigasaki adds new characters who, through six episodes already, haven't honestly appeared very much. From the looks of it, this season is probably going suffer from having too many characters to juggle, just as its first season did.

Setsuna
It's not as if she was stealing recipes from restaurants and fighting Pretty Cure.

I did enjoy the resolution of the whole Setsuna v. Nana secret identity thing, despite never genuinely believing this double life was truly necessary in the first place. Actually, maybe that was its appeal. The absurdity of it all amused me, as did the student body's baffling inability to penetrate her flimsy disguise. It's at least a contributing factor as to why Setsuna (and Nana) have rocketed towards the top of my Love Live! character rankings. (Meanwhile, fellow student council presidents Eli, Ren, and Dia are mired deep in the bottom half of the list.)

Lanzhu
I was expecting you to have done more stuff by now.

I'll probably still enjoy whatever Love Live! Nijigasaki decides to do going forward, but I expect it will be a far cry from Love Live! Superstar!! and its successes. Speaking of which, I hope adding those four new idols doesn't end up ruining the second cours of Superstar!! for me, but that's a whole 'nother topic.

Dated 3 May 2022: I'm watching two sports anime: Birdie Wing and Gunjou no Fanfare

Eve and Viper
Underground golf does not have to take place underground.

BIRDIE WING -Golf Girls' Story- has the misfortune of coming right on the heels of Sorairo Utility, giving it a sort of distasteful corporate flavor in comparison. I don't know if that's actually justified, but it sure is odd that we got two girls-playing-golf shows in back-to-back seasons after years of no golf anime at all. Still, Birdie Wing isn't nearly as wacky as it needs to be, although episode four was progress. It is set in Nafrece, so it potentially takes place in the same universe as Madlax (and Valkyrie Drive, of all things), but Eve hasn't started golfing in a white cocktail dress within the first four episodes.

Aki
Some of these dudes are dicks to each other, but they're also sort of tsundere.

Gunjou no Fanfare (Fanfare of Adolescence), on the other hand, is too wacky. Or at least its first episode was. It's toned it down since then. I'm mostly thinking of utterly implausible and entirely unnecessary contrivances such as a truck blowing over in the wind (?!) and the genki kid being a natural despite never having ridden a horse before. None of that was necessary. What is necessary is a substantial increase in screen time for the token girl. I was really hoping prior to the start of the series that the token girl was actually a secret girl who was busting through sexist horse-racing-school conventions, but that turned out to not be the case.

Aki, Hayato, Soujirou, Eri, Shun, Kouta, and Yuu
Eri's thighs don't touch.

Really, Gunjou no Fanfare is just about boys on horses doing boys-on-horses things. I suspect the show is meant to also sort of be fujoshi bait, but I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse of what that entails. That's a question for Ogiue Maniax. In terms of the anime themselves, both Birdie Wing and Fanfare of Adolescence are "fine," but I wouldn't characterize either as must-see shows of the Spring 2022 anime season by any stretch of the imagination.

Dated 14 December 2021: SELECTION PROJECT is not as good as IDOLY PRIDE

Rena
I'm so disappointed you did not turn out to be a total cunt.

I would not still be watching SELECTION PROJECT if it did not share so many similarities with IDOLY PRIDE. (Spoilers throughout. Avert your eyes if you care.) Straight away, both shows feature troupes of newbie idols trying to make it big. Both shows have ALL CAPS titles. Both shows feature idols who die in a car accidents. Both shows feature idols who turn out to be the younger sisters of the dead idols. Both shows feature plot points about the sisters' complicated feelings of inferiority, guilt, and grief. Both shows feature idols who were transplant recipients of hearts donated from the dead idols. It's a whole thing. One notable difference: The dead idol from IDOLY PRIDE continues to hang around as a ghost, while the Hayamin-voiced idol from SELECTION PROJECT fucks off entirely after dying.

Shiori, Rena, and Suzune
The OP is easily the best part of SELECTION PROJECT.

The big difference between the two shows, though, is that IDOLY PRIDE is surprisingly good, while SELECTION PROJECT sort of sucks. It is just not a good series, mostly because it is neither upbeat enough to enjoy for wacky idol activities nor downbeat enough to take seriously. It has camp elements, but none of them are amusing. It probably should have pared down its cast by at least half instead of filling the series with a lot of entirely undeveloped placeholders. The idol from Hokkaido is the worst offender. The poor girl literally has no scenes that do not involve food in some way.

Suzune
Episode 11's epilogue ends on a mildly ominous note.

A smaller cast would have given SELECTION PROJECT more opportunities to develop the characters critical to its dramatic sequences. That it failed to do so stands in stark contrast to Love Live! Superstar!! which benefited significantly from its tighter-knit group. There is still one episode left in SELECTION PROJECT, so I suppose it might still manage to turn it around, but it seems almost certain SELECTION PROJECT will end up as just another uninspired, lackluster, below-average series that I'm not going to remember well later except for curiously sharing a lot of plot points with IDOLY PRIDE.

Dated 30 November 2021: Love Live! Superstar!! is the best Love Live! anime

Kanon
Despite appearances, Kanon is good at waking up in the morning.

Love Live! Superstar!! only had 12 episodes, but they spanned both the Summer 2021 and Autumn 2021 anime seasons in order to accommodate the Tokyo Olympics. It was also the best Love Live! anime of the franchise, for basically all the reasons SDS already covered at Ogiue Maniax. I presume others have also expressed the same view for similar reasons, and maybe I'd even know about them if anime blogging weren't dead.

Kanon and Kanon
This child is full of lies.

Notably, its lead, Shibuya Kanon, felt most like a genuine person among all the various characters of the Love Live! cinematic universe galaxy. I understand there are Honoka fans with a great deal of fondness for that character's development, but I've always regarded her as a casualty of a franchise that I find (as a whole) sort of off-putting in myriad minor ways that clearly don't bother real fans. Still, this is why I can't consider myself an actual Love Live! fan, and it's why I'm ambivalent about the show most of the time.

Kanon, Chisato, Sumire, Keke, and Ren
The all-singing, all-dancing 3DCG has come a long way.

However, Love Live! Superstar!! really got it right by keeping its cast of idols smaller than those of its predecessors. Devoting more time to them individually gave me, as a viewer, more opportunities to find reasons to care about them. True, Keke and Sumiere seem more like "wacky characters" than "actual characters." Likewise, Ren and Chisato seem more like capital-S, capital-C Supporting Characters to me than members of an ensemble cast.

Kanon
I still like Kanon best even though she has fucked-up hair.

In that sense, Kanon is the only True Character of the series, which I guess is why I regard Love Live! Superstar!! as being her show. Consequently, I guess she's also the titular superstar by default. I mean, she's not a superstar in the way that Sheryl Fuckin' Nome is a God damn superstar, but I've got no problem naming her as the overall Love Live! BEST GIRL. That she achieves this by tackling relatable problems and without the benefit (benefit?) of high-tension melodrama is a testament to what the franchise finally got right.

Dated 31 August 2021: I sure watch a lot of Love Live! for someone who claims not to care about Love Live! at all

Rina and Setsuna
It probably tastes fine with enough hot sauce.

Thanks to a fairly light season, I went back and undropped Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai (Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club) from the Autumn 2020 anime season. Initially, I was going to watch it concurrently with this season's Love Live! Superstar!!, but I only had seven episodes left in Nijigasaki, and Superstar!! episodes have been delayed twice for the Olympics already.

Kasumi
It's not easy being Love Live!'s Queen of Faces.

As it turns out, Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai is just all right. The series does seem more episodic than its predecessors, but that's probably because it is only one cours1 and its idols are soloists, unlike the ones forming μ's and Aqours in previous Love Live! iterations. As individual characters, I enjoy Setsuna's double life and her unsafe use of pyrotechnics. I enjoy Rina's gimmick even though it's objectively stupid and I suspect her illustrated expressions are insincere much of the time. And I enjoy Kasumi, Love Live!'s reigning Queen of Faces, even though she's sort of a shit idol. Eh, I guess I'm technically looking forward to the second cours next year.

Kanon and Sumire
Kanon is very bendy and occasionally doesn't wear pants.

Through the first five episodes, Love Live! Superstar!! is mostly notable for my positive impressions of Kanon, the ostensible main character. I typically have a low opinion of the lead girl in these sorts of things. For example, I was not a fan of Honoka, not a fan of Chika, and definitely not a fan of Ayumu. This phenomenon isn't only limited to Love Live! either. Miyafuji from Strike Witches was on my shit list for a while. However, my opinions regarding Kanon are uniformly positive, and I don't have any special reason why. Conversely, the show's efforts to make Keke more interesting by making her a huge nutjob aren't working for me at all, even though I typically love me some nutjobs.

Keke
How long has Sunny Passion been around again?

As the series goes, Love Live! Superstar!! has also been fine. It does share a significant shortcoming with Love Live! Nijigasaki, though. Neither of those shows had interesting rivals such as A-RISE or Saint Snow like First Love Live! and Love Live! Sunshine!! did. Aside from looking like Aikatsu! transfer students, Sunny Passion hasn't had a lot going for them, never mind Keke's efforts to convince us otherwise. Someone is going to have to really step up if one of the characters hopes to be the titular superstar of the series.


Note 1: It's actually split-cours, with a sequel expected in 2022

Dated 10 August 2021: Here we go again (Umimi 2021)

Umi
It's already been five years.

Dated 27 July 2021: I dropped Aquatope before I learned how to pronounce it

Fuuka
It's hard work, but at least you get to smell like fish all the time now.

I'm guessing Shiroi Suna no Aquatope (Aquatope of White Sand) is pronounced "aqua taupe," but I suppose it's possibly "aqua toe pay." In any case, the show is fine, and looks really nice, but I lost interest in it pretty much just as I did with Sakura Quest, another P.A. Works series about working girls (not those sorts of working girls, okay). Objectively, I guess there's nothing Aquatope really did wrong. (I guess it would have helped had I been invested in the childbirth sequence in some way.) It's just not really my sort of thing.

Shino
Shiho may or may not have kicked a giant mouse in the butt.

I admit I was more interested in Aquatope's nefarious internal idol politics (as I was with Wake Up, Girls!) than I was in failing-aquarium moé. Presumably, that aspect will re-appear at some point, since it's a two-cours series, but it's not enough to keep me watching it week-to-week, either. This does mean I'm currently down to five and two-thirds shows to watch this season. That's low enough that I watched all of last season's Odd Taxi in, like, 48 hours. It turns out it's really good. And it totally has nefarious internal idol politics. And how.

Dated 6 July 2021: I knew little about Wonder Egg Priority before I started watching, and might know even less now that it's over

Ai
Double-peace Ai, eh.

I went into Wonder Egg Priority essentially blind, as its promotional materials offered no meaningful details about the series. What I found was an extremely strong start with impressive visuals and an engaging story. Throughout most of the show's run, it maintained this high standard, despite evidence of frantic production difficulties that eventually forced an operational pause. This relief proved insufficient, and the series finale itself pushed to the right three months.

Rika
So, are you going to go back to being an idol?

I suppose it was naïve of me to presume the studio would dedicate this additional time to getting the Wonder Egg Priority ending just right. I can't verify the veracity of the claims I've read about what ultimately happened with the production effort, but what actually dropped frankly made me nostalgic for the Gainax endings of yore. No, I don't think we're going to get The End of Wonder Egg Priority a couple years later, and it's not as if episode 13 enlisted the assistance of paper dolls on sticks, but the final episode did not seem like it benefited from three months of refinement—certainly, the writing did not.

Dot
Why, though?

For one thing, there were reports the final episode of Wonder Egg Priority would be a one-hour special. It actually turned out to be about 45 minutes, fully half of which was a clip show recapping the previous 12 episodes. So I'm curious whether this resulted from misunderstandings and optimistic assumptions on the viewership's part, or if those reports would have been accurate were it not for impassable obstacles impeding the journey from desire to reality. (Most likely the latter, I think.)

Neiru
How are you feeling, Neiru? Good?

This is a long-winded way of saying the conclusion to Wonder Egg Priority made no sense. Absent a more compelling example, I think I'm going to end up adding it alongside The Rise of Skywalker and the Game of Thrones finale as the third leg of my tripod of endings so flawed that they manage to undermine everything good that came before. Curiously, though, I can't quite claim the final episode of Wonder Egg Priority itself is bad. It's not unsalvageable. It's largely its lack of resolution and its role in the narrative itself that are bad.

Koito and Sawaki
I want to say it was murder, but there were witnesses, albeit
ones all conveniently looking the wrong way. Unless....

I guess this means it's the creative decisions themselves that are bad—specifically, every effort to explain the mechanics driving the story. That is, everything involving recorded dreams, parallel worlds, robots, Acca, the one who is not Acca, Frill, or Frill's weirdo minions detract from everything else presented in Wonder Egg Priority previously. In fact, let us also add the support animals to this category, even if they do taste like chicken.

Momoe, Rika, Neiru, and Ai
Congratulations.

Despite all of this, I still regard Wonder Egg Priority as one of the best shows of the Winter 2021 anime season. I'm just at a loss as to how to characterize it for someone approaching it for the first time. I guess just watching half and walking away is an option. I suppose it depends on the inquisitive potential viewer's tolerance for unsatisfying endings. I'm certainly no stranger to them at this point, and I was never too fussed about so-called "Gainax endings" or "Gonzo endings" to begin with. I wonder if there is a place in the world for the capital-C, capital-W "CloverWorks ending" as well. I wonder egg if there is.