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Dated 26 January 2021: I could tell you about all the good anime I'm watching this season, or I could tell you about IDOLY PRIDE instead

Kotono
We can tell you're the kid sister because you look the same except for having darker hair.

Actually, wait, IDOLY PRIDE is pretty good too, or at least it is for sufficiently generous definitions of good. I started watching IDOLY PRIDE because it was described as an original anime and the PV made the show seem oddly sincere. Meaning, I was expecting a brand new entry into the idol wars to lean more on a gimmick of some sort. (See, for example, this season's Gekidol and its gimmick.) However, it looked as if IDOLY PRIDE would simply be a straightforward show about idols trying their best. [Spoilers: It is not.]

Kouhei and Mana
She is sort of distracting.

So yeah, there is a gimmick. (Spoilers from here on out.) One of the idols is a ghost. Well, not one of the idols in the troupe, but there is a ghost. Specifically, it's the older sister of the dour idol who has main-character hair. However, the only one who can see or hear her is her old manager (a former classmate from high school) who is now in charge of a lot of rookie idols. I'll need to go back and re-watch some scenes to be sure, but I suspect it's also entirely possible that there is no ghost and Manager Guy (Kouhei) is just cracking up. I mean, he does do that thing where he'll look in her direction and respond aloud to her while everyone else around him is deeply confused by his constant non sequiturs. I have to say that's probably a worrying trait to see in someone who is responsible for your career.

Kouhei and Mana
Mana doesn't cast reflections or shadows, but Kouhei appeared to feel her leaning on him.

Whether Mana actually is a ghost or just a constant hallucination that Kouhei can't shake, I'm enjoying the dynamic. I get the feeling a single-cours anime is not going to be long enough to get me invested in what the other idols have going on, but I am enjoying IDOLY PRIDE so far. In fact, I'm probably enjoying it somewhat disproportionately, since I'm not sure I can really characterize the show as being anything more than merely okay. Still, I'm eager to see where this is going, even though I suspect it would probably be better as a ghost-girlfriend romance than as an idol show about rookies doing their best.

Dated 17 November 2020: More dropped shows from the Autumn 2020 anime season

Kasumi
Kasumi is a treasure trove of facial expressions.

In addition to Senyoku no Sigrdrifa and Assault Lily: BOUQUET, I've also dropped Tonikaku Kawaii (TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You), Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai (Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club), Guraburu! (Grand Blues!), and Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen (Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World). Damn, these are some long titles. Of this batch, only Last Crusade is legitimately bad. The rest of them I would watch during a duller season.

Tsukasa and Nasa
Dude's wife is a saint for putting up with this shit.

In the case of TONIKAWA, it's fine when Nasa isn't freaking out, but he freaks out a lot, and I don't see much benefit in putting up with this when I could just read the manga instead. These sorts of reactions are much more tolerable in print than as anime.

Love Live! Nijigasaki is probably really just on hold, and not actually dropped, since I've seen every other Love Live! thing that's out there. Then again, the franchise will probably continue to churn out new properties for some time, and I certainly don't feel obligated to watch those future installments. The characters are sort of dull, though. I probably would not be dropping Nijigasaki otherwise.

Guraburu! seems fine, and each episode is only a few minutes long, so it's not as if there would be much of a commitment to continue watching. However, it's clearly aimed at people who play the Granblue Fantasy game, so I'm wasn't getting much out of it.

Iska and Mismis
Wide car.

Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen put more effort into the title than the show itself. Really, it's not even worth explaining. It's as unimpressive—if not worse—than the trailer suggested. I somehow still watched three episodes for Tenchan, though.

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 18 August 2020: Sure not a lot of Alice in this season of Sword Art Online: Alicization

Asuna
How's it going, Asuna? Good?

I enjoyed the first half of Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld because it focused mainly on Alice Synthesis Thirty. Sword Art Online is still Kirito's show, but he spent most of those episodes sort of mentally checked out while ol' 30 wheeled him around the war. Well, Kirito hasn't been doing a whole lot during the current cours either. His mind is still locked in the nightmare prison of his psyche, but XXX hasn't been dragging him around because Alice herself hasn't been around much. Mostly it's just Asuna and various other characters from previous seasons having a bad time.

Eugeo and Kirito
Kirito is really busy right now, Eugeo.

About those various other characters.... Well, there is no way to talk about the following without spoiling Sword Art Online II and Sword Art Online: Ordinal Scale as well as episode 18 of War of Underworld, so avert your eyes if you care about that sort of thing.

Asuna and Yuuki
Fortuitously, meeting Yuuki was not an SAO memory for Asuna.

I like watching Sword Art Online despite being dissatisfied with the vast majority of it. A notable exception is the "Mother's Rosario" arc (i.e., the AIDS arc) which I regard as legitimately good, or at least as good as SAO ever gets. Consequently, the very brief callback in the Ordinal Scale movie to Yuuki's gift genuinely resonated with me, and I still enjoy the scene now as much as I did the first time.

Yuuki and Asuna
This was probably better in the books or if you hadn't already seen the Ordinal Scale version.

Episode 18 of War of Underworld also invokes Yuuki, but in a much less satisfying manner. I'm pretty sure this scene was originally written before the Ordinal Scale one, so you could argue the movie stole its thunder. In any case, Asuna drawing strength from Yuuki simply did not work for me in this instance. What did work was the appearance of Eiji and Yuna in the previous week's episode. I was legitimately surprised (largely because I failed to recognize them at all in their earlier cameo). I don't have strong opinions about Eiji or Yuna one way or another, but I enjoyed their surprise appearance.

Yuna
LISTEN TO MY SONG!

There is something that I'm unsure about, though. As I understand it, anyone converting their ALfheim Online or whatever characters to enter the Underworld server risks permanent character death, which is why Lisbeth had such a hard time gathering support when she pleaded for help. So what character did Eiji use? Yuna, I imagine, just sort camps out on the old SAO server (which nobody has scrapped, luckily for her) and doesn't need to abide by any real rules, but Eiji was using an ALO character, right? Does it matter? Is he bummed that it's (presumably) gone now unless the dudes on the Ocean Turtle can get around to restoring it? Is there anything stopping Eiji from simply rejoining the way American, Korean, and Chinese griefers joined? For that matter, are any of them generating new characters and rejoining over and over? I get the feeling we're just not supposed to think about any of this.

Dated 10 August 2020: Here we go again (Umimi 2020)

Umi
Philips 1180X
Close enough, eh.

Dated 19 May 2020: I'm reading the In/Spectre manga

In/Spectre volumes 01, 02, and 03
Iwanaga is not a chuuni. She's probably just re-adjusting her eye.

Although I really enjoyed the In/Spectre (Kyokō Suiri, or Invented Inference) anime, I was surprised at long the "Steel Lady Nanase" arc lasted. (Specifically, it takes up the entire rest of the cours once it starts.) I'm reading the manga now, and these volumes include afterwords by the original author that shed light on the situation.

In/Spectre volumes 04, 05, and 06
Despite appearance, Kuro is also not a chuuni. He is tsundere for his own girlfriend, though.

Kyokou Suiri was originally one book. This received a manga adaptation which spanned six volumes. The author claims he gave the mangaka essentially full control over the visuals and a lot of latitude to apply appropriate changes while adapting the book to manga form. This hands-off approach seems to have worked, as the manga proved popular enough to inspire the original author to write more stories (while lamenting the Invented Inference title no longer really fit the subject matter of the later material).

In/Spectre volumes 07, 08, and 09
Iwanaga is wearing a school uniform because one of the stories takes place while she was in high school.

Notably, the original author (Shirodaira Kyo) wrote the subsequent material as short stories, rather than collaborating with the mangaka (Katase Chasiba) to produce scripts for the manga, reasoning that doing things differently at this point could inadvertently disrupt the chemistry of whatever it was that made the manga adaptation of the original book turn out so well. Well, he wasn't wrong. The five volumes following the "Steel Lady Nanase" arc are at least as good, if not better.

In/Spectre volumes 10 and 11
Rikka's not dead, she just looks like that.

As you may have guessed, the In/Spectre anime is itself an adaptation of the manga, and not a separate adaptation of the original book (which I've not had an opportunity to read). As adaptations go, it's very close, really only moving the arc with the giant snake so that it takes place before the Steel Lady Nanase arc instead of after it. I don't know if there are any plans to produce a sequel to the anime, but there is certainly enough source material to support one. All of the subsequent stories in the volumes I've read are shorter than the Steel Lady Nanase one, but at least three of them are long enough to span multiple episodes. Thankfully, the longest of these concluded at the end of volume 11, instead of with a cliffhanger leaving the reader waiting until the release of volume 12—that one won't be out until the end of August.

Dated 25 February 2020: In/Spectre is my top show of the Winter 2020 anime season so far

Kotoko
Nearly the entire seventh episode takes place in a hotel room.

Before the season started, I wasn't expecting too much out of Kyokou Suiri (In/Spectre), but it's really turning out to be quite enjoyable. There is a significant amount of dialogue in the series, as the characters spend a lot of time discussing the details from various angles first before tacking the mysteries they're facing. Consequently, there is a lot more talking and much less neck kicking than the trailer led me to believe. Thankfully, I do find the banter entertaining, and the characters are pleasant to have around. The lead male doesn't seem to get excited very often, which is a huge improvement over anime's penchant for making these dudes spazzes.

Kotoko and Kurou
These two are okay together.

The pacing in Kyokou Suiri is slower than I expected, though. In fact, it's slow enough that I'm starting to wonder if the ongoing Nanase mystery is going to take up the entire cours. I suppose this means a non-ending "read the books" ending is all but assured. I'd rather In/Spectre turn into a long-running series (it could take over the yokai niche for GeGeGe no Kitarou, which I think is ending this season after a two-year run), but the chances of that seem pretty slim. As far as I know, it's only scheduled for 12 episodes, and I'm not certain it's been popular enough to have the, uh, legs for more.

Dated 18 February 2020: 22/7 is less Wake Up, Girls! and more I-1 Club

Reika
At least there are only three rules.

After six episodes, it looks as if Nanabun no Nijyuuni (22/7) will run the table with episodes dedicated to each character. Thus far, Miu, Sakura, Miyako, and Reika have all had episodes focused on them individually. With four idols remaining, it seems likely the series will stretch this process out through the 10th episode, leaving the final two for whatever plot develops by that time. This doesn't seem like it's leaving a lot of time left, but the cliffhanger ending at the end of episode six at least suggests episode seven will be a Jun-specific episode that also involves whatever mysterious force incapacitated the rest of the idols. (Hopefully, this mysterious force is not simply carbon monoxide.) Maybe the show will double-up on character-specific episodes within some sort of cohesive narrative. (I am assuming that 22/7 has a plot.)

Ayaka, Miyako, Miu, Sakura, Nicole, Jun, and Akane
Jun is short.

Early descriptions of the show characterized 22/7 as "dimension-crossing," although it was never clear to me what that mean. Possibly it's just a reference to the Nanabun no Nijūni real-life counterparts doing real-world idol-type things, but there are enough unusual components in the anime itself that I'm willing to accept AKB0048-inspired craziness (e.g., that CENTER NOVA jazz) if it appears later. I mean, are we just going to handwave away the fact that there's a mysterious wall issuing orders that nobody is permitted to question, and that there's a massive underground complex dedicated to idol activities? In any case, the series is entertaining enough for now, even though it hasn't really gone anywhere yet. Oh, and if you're wondering about the I-1 Club comparison, it's because Reika now has them standing in formation reciting rules they're compelled to follow under threat of physical reprisals.