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Dated 27 November 2017: Love Live! Sunshine!! is better than First Love Live

Riko and Yohane
There aren't enough scenes of Yoshiko without her clip-on hair ball.

I'm not a huge fan of the Love Live franchise, but I like it all right. Despite dropping the original series after five episodes in 2013, I gave it another try a few months ago, and decided it's okay. The rookie season of Love Live! Sunshine!! capitalized on the first generation's momentum, and Sunshine's second season appears to be even more adept at this whole School Idol business. It's gotten very good at meeting the expectations of its audience while working within the same group's constraints to ensure the right flavor of success. It knows how to goose its fans with moments designed to boost the characters' charisma precisely in the eyes of their followers. For potential viewers less inclined to venture into the School Idol universe, it likely all looks like pandering and otaku tropes, so I don't expect the series to offer much crossover appeal.

Ruby and Leah
Go on, Ruby, curse the bitch out.

If you're into it, though, Love Live! Sunshine!! second season hits all its marks and doesn't go too far with its fan-tailored moments. For example, there are regular gags about Yohane's chuuni bullshit, but never too much of it, not even in the Yoshiko episode about the robot dog. Sunshine succeeds in drawing upon its characters' strengths, especially now that the second season doesn't have to slog through bits about Dia being an ol' sourpuss like the first season did. Sunshine S2 has even managed to raise my opinion of Ruby (one of my least-favorite characters of the entire franchise) by positioning her opposite Dark Ruby from Saint Snow in episode eight. I still only regard the series as "mostly okay," and it currently scores 0.2/5 below the Detective Conan line and 1.5/5 over the Cosprayers line, but you'll probably enjoy it even more if you're mostly predisposed to like this sort of thing already.

Dated 2 October 2017: Symphogear? Still stupendous

Granny and Maria
Something something Maria, something something huge tomatoes.

I don't write about Symphogear as much as I ought to, consider that it's FUCKIN' GREAT. It's basically a miracle that we've gotten four seasons already with a fifth season supposedly on the way. This season, Senki Zesshou Symphogear AXZ ended up my second-favorite show, after Re:CREATORS but ahead of Princess Principal (which is itself way better than I expected). Still, I don't have much to say about Symphogear except that it's Symphogear. You either understand the appeal or you don't. It's definitely not something I expect to have any success in describing though text. Not in any way that does it justice, at least.

Shirabe and Prelati
Something something the appeal of a girl made of saws.

No doubt, there are still dubious readers on the fence about the whole thing. To be honest, the famous Symphogear meme chart pretty accurately describes the typical first-time viewing experience, aside from some outliers (like me) who were totally on board ever since Zwei Wing hit the stage in episode one of the first season. As to what you might expect in Symphogear AXZ? More singing while fighting (fighting while singing?), and more solving problems by punching them. The Hell else do you need?

Dated 25 September 2017: Love Live! Sunshine!! was better the second time around

Yohane
Yohane's hairball is fuckin' fake.

I watched Love Live! Sunshine!! without watching (all of) First Love Live and thought it was all right, but not great. Having watching all of Love Live! School Idol Project now, I re-watched Sunshine to see if being able to contextualize the show would make me like it better. Well, I do like it more, but it's still mostly just all right, and still not great. To be honest, I can't tell if I like it more thanks to knowing more about the franchise as a whole, or if it's because of the solid barrage of You cheesecake pictures on the Twitter over the past year. Incidentally, Maki > Nico > Yohane > Hanamaru > Kotori > Kanan > You > Umi > Hanayo > Riko > Chika > Yoshiko > Eli > Honoka > Mari > Dia > Nozomi > Rin.

Leah, Yoshiko, Hanamaru, and Ruby
Airborne idol, airborne idol, where have you been?

Naturally, as with A-RISE before them, I absolutely favor Saint Snow over Aqours as far as their idol-type credibility goes. Saint Snow only has one song, but two different arrangements appear in the show, and it is an actual duet with two people singing simultaneously (as opposed to sequentially, which seems to be the more common practice in these idol-type tunes). Really, though, my main reasons for liking Saint Snow are because everyone says their name with such overly dramatic awe (SAAAINT SNOOOWW!) and because half of Saint Snow ninja flipped over Aquors for no goddamn reason when they first met other than to show them that she could. What's not to love?

Dated 28 August 2017: The top 10 best Love Live! School Idol Project girls, part two

Maki and Nico
It's not easy being the Best Girls.

If you caught the last installment, then you know I finished the first season of Love Live! School Idol Project with the characters ranked in the following order:

Preliminary Ruling: Maki > Nico > Umi > Kotori > [GOOD/BAD LINE] > Hanayo > Eli > Honoka > Nozomi > Rin.

Notably, last-place Rin had no redeeming qualities. Well, all of that was based entirely on the first season of the anime. Now that I've watched the OVA, the second cours, and the movie, I hereby present the final standings:

Maki > Nico > Kotori > Umi > Hanayo > [GOOD/BAD LINE] > Eli > Honoka > Nozomi > Rin.

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Dated 10 August 2017: Umi 2017

Umi
What, another year already?

Dated 24 July 2017: The top 10 best Love Live! School Idol Project girls

Muse
The round eyes aren't as bad in long shots.

I first tried watching Love Live! School Idol Project as it aired winter 2013, but I gave up after five episodes because I just never got into it. I finally gave it another try and watched all 13 episodes of the first cours this month. My recollection regarding the popularity of Love Live! is that the first cours was a mild success, producing some avid fans, but it wasn't until the second cours (Love Live! School Idol Project 2nd Season) started airing spring 2014 that it exploded into a real phenomenon, peaking in the American market when its 2015 movie received a U.S. theater release. This is an outsider's perspective, to be sure, and actual fans of the franchise will likely disagree with me on a number of points, but this how it seemed to me.

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Dated 17 July 2017: Isekai Shokudou breaks all the rules about location, location, location

Aletta
I like Aletta even though she admitted her bodily fluids are not poisonous.

Food-based anime is all about reaction shots. Isekai Shokudō (Restaurant to Another World) is no different, but it does spice up the usual recipe by with its fantasy element and its somewhat unremarkable menu. As the title indicates, the restaurant in question features an entrance which pops up periodically in fantasy world locations, ensuring an eclectic mix of clientele who are amazed by the exquisite way food can taste when it does not consist entirely of plain boiled meat and wilted vegetables.

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Dated 20 February 2017: Fight the power with Idol Jihen

Shizuka and Natsuki
Go on, Shizuka, curse the bitch out.

I started watching Idol Jihen (Idol Incidents) because Ueda Reina is in it. Unfortunately, she's not in it much, although the OP suggests there will be more to her character later. The show itself is all right, but just barely. It frankly plays out like a rejected Aikatsu! arc, which is fine for a few episodes, but maybe not enough for a whole season. I was also expecting the entire Diet to consist of idols, but instead the idol parliamentarians are just various members of fractured idol-based opposition parties trying to challenge The Establishment comprised of old, unpleasant, corrupt politicians and uncaring corporate assholes.

Mika
Rocket Nerd promotes her vision to her hallucination.

Idol Jihen has its moments, but through seven episodes there's only been one episode I fully liked (the one with the gosurori ghostbuster), but that was mostly due to execution. I am a bit tired of the constant struggles against Old People. The show falls flat when it tries to present these battles in a semi-serious fashion involving such weapons as Children's Feelings. The show is much better off when Old People instead get swayed by idols doing idol things and everyone realizes how much better off the world can be after their idol epiphanies. Well, at least the OP and ED are catchy.