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Dated 5 January 2021: Kamisama ni Natta Hi is not a good anime

Hina and Youta
I had to include a picture of these two because they're the main characters.

Despite a promising first episode, Kamisama ni Natta Hi (The Day I Became a God) turned out to be fairly awful in a number of areas, and likely disappointed even fans of Key's usual shtick. Critically, I felt nothing when The Big Sad Thing inevitably happened. This despite reports Maeda Jun intended for it to be the saddest anime ever. Surprising no one, I'm sure, Hina suffers debilitating mental degradation just as Potato-kun comes to realize how important she has become to him. Unfortunately, the way he conveys his emotions and the actions he takes for pretty much the entire rest of the anime are aggravating to watch. It's sort of baffling, even if you're already expecting this to happen to some degree.

Kyouko
For real, though, Kyouko had excellent hair.

Ultimately, it's entirely unrewarding. I can see how at least in theory Kamisama ni Natta Hi looked like it could succeed when viewed as an outline or synopsis (you know, assuming you're okay with infantalizing love interests), but it certainly fell apart somewhere between the initial pitch and the screen. It's not all bad, though. I genuinely enjoyed the mostly standalone episode where Violet Evergarden and her father come to grips with Dead Mom Subplot. That basically had all the, uh, Key elements of Maeda Jun's bullshit done right. And I liked the Mahjong Calvinball episode which had the sort of high-energy wackiness I remember from the Angel Beats! fishing episode. The Day I Became a God did continue to have some nice gags throughout its run, although the first episode probably had the most successful jokes. I'm still willing to watch the next Key anime, but I get the feeling I'll enjoy it a lot more if its a sports comedy of some sort instead of another romance involving mentally impaired girls.

Dated 24 June 2016: Bakuon!! turned out to be the best show from Spring 2016

Yume and Hane
Hane gets by with help from her reliable imouto.

I was expecting to enjoy Bakuon!! on general principle, but I'm still surprised to see it at the top of my Spring 2016 rankings. Silly and a little irreverent, Bakuon!! is a charming show about high school girls who really like motorcycles. If you've seen much anime, you're surely familiar with the "girls really enjoy this thing" brand of moé pandering. For example, K-On! did this with guitars, GIRLS und PANZER did this with tanks, and Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai did this with incest.

Rin
Objects in mirror are larger than they appear.

In light of this, I get the feeling "Girls Really Like a Thing" shows probably do better when the Thing in question is a bit esoteric or at least a niche interest among the show's target demographic. (Mountaineering, for example, as opposed to yet another girl who loves anime, manga, and video games.) Then again, specification alone wasn't enough for Haifuri, so it's just a rule of thumb at best.

Raimu
Raimu breaks a lot of laws on this show.

The above K-On! mention may remind longtime readers I railed against "retard moé" seven years ago and cause them to wonder why I enjoyed Bakuon!! so much when its lead character is, to put it mildly, dumb all Hell. It is entirely possible I like Hane largely because of my Ueda Reina bias, but I think an important distinction relates to how Hane and her idiocy fits within the world around her.

Onsa
Onsa and Yukari could exchange haircare tips.

Specifically, Hane does not make life more difficult for those around her. Moreover, her idiocy is more along the lines of startling ignorance rather than a lack of capacity to reason or learn. The impolite axiom "stupid people make everything more difficult" frequently manifests as a narrative tool or comic trope to rally action and reactions among a story's characters. This was certainly true in the K-On! episodes I watched, where Yui's, um, peculiar mannerisms (autism, some boasted) coupled with Ritsu's laziness to construct comedic situations opposite the serious Mio.

Honda logo
The motorcycle brands themselves are also essentially characters in the
show, from Honda and Kawasaki to even Suzuki and Amazon.co.jp!

Hane, on the other hand, clearly does not know much about anything, but she's eager to learn—at least about motorcycles. Her enthusiasm for the subject makes her endearing because her more knowledgeable friends are happy to educate and indulge her in their shared interest. Maybe I like Hane because everyone else likes Hane. She seems like she'd be fun to be around, maybe ride some motorcycles and go camping with, even if she is dumb as all Hell.

Dated 28 August 2015: I wasn't expecting a zombie apocalypse to be so aggravating

Yuki, Kurumi, and Yuuri
Kurumi is the Gakkou Gurashi! Best Girl because she's the
only one who's armed, and she's armed at all times.

I'd like to apologize for spoiling the twist and thus ruining the first episode of Gakkou Gurashi! (School-Live!) for you. I hadn't done it yet, but I've done it now, so if you didn't know already...sorry. That said, it's only a spoiler for the first episode. I learned from a season preview that this anime is actually a zombie survival story rather than a school life cute-girls-doing-cute-things morass, but I don't feel knowing this ruined the show for me. What did ruin the show for me was Yuki. I managed eight episodes before dropping School-Live! in disgust. Look, it is not cute for a high school senior to talk and act like a five-year-old child.

Yuuri, Yuki, and Miki
It's funny because she's easily amused and unable to stay on task. Also petulant.

I don't care that Yuki is supposed to be emotionally broken by the horrors she has witnessed. There are still entirely too many filler moments that serve no purpose other than to goose anime fans who enjoy the infantilization of women. See, there are flashbacks of pre-apocalypse Yuki, and she's just as fucked up there, so I presume this is her natural state. In any case, I've elected to read the manga instead of continuing to watch the anime. I simply can't identify enough enjoyable aspects unique to the anime to justify following it any longer. (The OP is sort of catchy.) Unless the manga and the anime are dramatically different, I think this is the way to go.

Dated 31 March 2013: Winter 2013 shows I dropped

Female Knight
Yes, Female Knight, these shows were aggravating.

Since I'm less likely now to start something I'm not certain I'll enjoy, I drop fewer shows these days. However, this trend apparently gets offset by my decreasing patience with shows in general, so I still dropped four shows winter 2013. Moreover, all four were fairly well-regarded by fans who aren't even disreputable. That is, the shows didn't suck; they just didn't appeal to me.

Kotori and Niko
Making faces won't help you.

The "best" show I dropped was Love Live! School Idol Project which I stopped watching after episode five. I can see why other people enjoy it, but I never cared about the characters or the plight of their school. Some of the characters have interesting traits, but I didn't find them to be interesting people. I understand that schools closing due to Japan's declining birthrates is a genuine phenomenon, but it's not a problem that resonates with me personally. Also, I may have exceeded safe school-closure dosage levels after exposure to so many shows invoking that particular plot device.

Manabe and Kotoura
Haruka is vexed by Manabe's enthusiasm again.

I dropped Kotoura-san at episode nine. This is unusual for two reasons: First, Kotoura-san is a really good show sometimes. Or at least it really has its moments. Second, after watching nine episodes of a single-cour series, I was so close to the end anyway it seems sticking it out and hoping for the best would have been a reasonable proposition. On problem with that though: Kotoura-san also annoyed the Bejesus out of me pretty frequently. Pointless cockblocking, idiotic one-note gags, and some really shitty writing offset the show's good qualities. I guess on average it's still at least okay as a whole, but it just wasn't worth it to me.

Demon King and Hero
Potato-kun in a place that that didn't even have potatoes.
Huge tracts of land, though.

It seems so long ago now, but I dropped Maoyuu Maou Yuusha at episode three. It was frankly kinda boring, and the lengths it went to in order to prevent its lead characters from becoming romantically involved were kinda ridiculous. When the season's starchiest Potato-kun isn't the high school kid in the harem comedy, but rather the skillful warrior in the fantasy epic about economics and logistics, there's a problem.

Kyouya and Shion
Go on, mister. Brush the shit out of her.

I had no interest in starting GJ-bu until maybe a couple weeks ago when its vocal fans and their adoration reached critical mass. Something about brushing girls' hair? I dunno, couldn't be that bad. The most passionate fans were particularly enamored of a character named Shion and episode five—the one where she gets her hair brushed. Okay, I guess I can watch five episodes of this thing. Well, it turns out it's not a bad show at all, but it did not appeal to me in the slightest. I guess it's because I prefer "cool," confident, and capable female characters doing things adeptly or with aplomb. Conversely, I dislike "cute" girls who are deliberately broken or inept in some fashion to appear more attractive. As a rule of thumb, I think I should just avoid anything described by other anime fans as "adorable." That seems to be a politically correct code word for "loli" or "mentally deficient" depending on whether the character in question is a small child or an adolescent. (E.g., Rikka from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!) You may remember that I railed against K-On! for its aggravating Retard Moé shtick.

Kirara
I never did figure out why she's a cat.

However, GJ-bu wasn't so much Retard Moé as it was Autism Moé. This is not a term I coined or attached to the show, and I can't remember who said it first, but I certainly agree it is apt. These are not normal girls by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not suggesting solidly average boring girls would have been an improvement, but I'm increasingly put off by the "cute girls doing cute things" trope being extended ever further away from merely eccentric (or even neurotic) behavior towards an ideal where anime girls are basically pets or small children. This is not a new or unique criticism of moé to be sure, and I don't even have any opposition towards moé in general. I just can't enjoy the glamorization of these hopeless girl-shaped caricatures, even if they do have flaxen hair. Snow White had that too, but let's face it, she wouldn't have lasted two days alone in that forest without her benevolent animal friends.

Dated 28 October 2012: Initial impressions of the autumn 2012 season

Erwin, Caesar, Oryou, and Saemonza
This scene was awesome.

Autumn 2012 so far: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (1-4) > Smile Precure! (34-36) > Sword Art Online (15-17) > GIRLS und PANZER (1-3) > Medaka Box Abnormal (1-3) > Busou Shinki (1-4) > Aikatsu! (1-3) > Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! (1-4) > Little Busters! (1-4).

Rin and Masato
Just so you know, the three-piece staff is the best weapon ever.

Now that we're about a third of the way through the current anime season, I have some general impressions of the shows I'm following thus far.

Dio
Dio is a dick.

A little unexpectedly for me, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is at the top of my list. I say unexpectedly because I am wholly ignorant of the source material aside from some vague understanding that it is a frequently referenced classic of the burly-men-punching-things-during-absurd-fights vein. Sure enough, the four episodes I've seen have been quite absurd and they have featured a lot of punching and numerous burly men. Nevertheless, it is quite entertaining and fans of the manga seem to agree it is a worthy adaptation. It also invokes the AYAKO DOCTRINE, so there is that if you're on the fence about giving it a try.

Akane and Brian
Yellow fever.

Smile Precure! is higher in these rankings than it has been the rest of the year simply because the three episodes under consideration (34-36) have been unusually good. I don't expect it to remain as entertaining, since it will surely succumb to its otaku-friendly, girls-being-cute-and-weak ways, but these last three episodes at least have been well done. I'm also glad to see the return of heterosexual love interests as a Precure subplot. Heartcatch Precure!, Suite Precure♪, and all the previous episodes of Smile Precure! have been raked bow to stern by broadsides from the HMS Yuri despite the fact there are no canonical lesbians in the entire Pretty Cure franchise. (Saki and Mai sure do hold hands an awful lot, though.)

Asuna
She'll also spend a lot of time standing next to the chair.

I'm ranking the early episodes of the Alfheim Online arc of Sword Art Online third, although I expect the show to slip in the rankings at least as fast as Smile Precure! will probably fall. I read the corresponding volumes of the light novels before I even began watching Sword Art Online, so I can already foresee the gnashing of teeth these upcoming episodes will generate. [Spoilers: There will be a lot of scenes of Asuna sitting in a chair.] Still, I'm amused mini-Yui gained a head flower for no reason, effectively making her a little AI Saten. It's funny if you like seiyuu jokes.

Caesar and Erwin
Erwin, that hat's wearing you. I would also like to add,
YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD, I READ YOUR BOOK!

As Smile Precure! and Sword Art Online fall, they will probably be passed by GIRLS und PANZER and Medaka Box Abnormal. I'm not entirely sure GIRLS und PANZER is catering to military otaku necessarily, but having at least a mild interest in tanks and mechanized infantry seems to assist in the enjoyment of the show overall. Making panzer fahren a girls' school sport is an unusual premise, but an entertaining one thus far. My only complaint is that the characters are a little indistinct in these early episodes. Erwin is the Best Girl, but I'm only saying that because of the way she's dressed. If I am to enjoy GIRLS und PANZER as a sports anime, I'll need to care a bit more about who wins or loses. I also wish the audio track made more of an effort to kick out a low-frequency thump for viewers with subwoofers. The sounds of the guns are not as impressive as they could be, so while the characters mention the awe they feel when they shoot for the first time, the audience doesn't quite get to share in the experience.

Zenkichi and Medaka
I don't actually know where Medaka was keeping that fan.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy Medaka Box Abnormal this much. Probably the worst-kept secret of Medaka Box is that it changes from school hijinks to high-tension shounen fighting rather abruptly. The first season of the anime included the start of this transformation, and the second season, Medaka Box Abnormal, continues with the "Flask Plan" arc. I've read through as much of the manga as this second anime season is likely to cover, and I can't claim to have enjoyed much of it. I have a low threshold of tolerance for shounen jive in general. If the anime will spend most of its time vacillating between stills of bombastic schoolchildren giving lectures about the importance of people's feelings and banal fights, I'm not going to last long as a viewer. However, Medaka Box does have the advantage of humiliating people with Fruits Basket faces regularly, so I guess it'll all depend on how Gainax executes what's left. No pressure, y'all.

Yda and Ach
Busou Shinki also has a Horie Yui + Tamura Yukari duo.

I wanted to like Busou Shinki after I learned what it was about and discovered its enormous cast of popular voice actresses. However, so far it's been playing out as an inferior Hand Maid May or Angelic Layer. The doll joints are also kinda off-putting.

Ringo
Aikatsu! also has a Mamiko mom, but it's no Tari Tari.

I don't remember why I'm watching Aikatsu!, but I think I was tricked. This is not a very good show, and the 3D CGI dance performances are vastly inferior to the Pretty Cure EDs I associate with the genre. I think I'll give it one more episode to do something interesting, because there's been nothing offered so far that wouldn't be better served by queuing up iM@S videos on Nicovideo.

Yuuta and Shinka
Shinka wishes she were dead. Yuuta does nothing to help.

I'm probably the only person who ranks Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! this low, but there's basically nothing about it that I enjoy. It is well done and impeccably animated, but it strikes me too much as a Kyoto Animation showcase. This detracts from my potential enjoyment of the show just as SHAFT showcases reduce my appreciation of SHAFT's shows. Is it a valid complaint to find Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! too chuunibyou? Obviously its chuuni elements are deliberate and intended to show how delusional and immature its adherents are, and how mortified its reformed practitioners feel after "outgrowing" their chuunibyou stage, but I just don't get any enjoyment watching Rikka prance around in her own little world. Why couldn't this show have been about a Napping and Sometimes Badminton Club instead? Likewise, every line Dekomori utters strikes me as foolish and irrelevant. It particularly bothers me that both Rikka and Sanae are in full-on chuuni mode at all times. Since they never, ever act like normal human beings, they're basically as broken as Chii or any of those other "adorably autistic" moé blobs. What makes them any better than the anteater girl from Little Busters!?

Shinka
I'd fight her.

I'm hoping Nibutani brings a more interesting dynamic to the show, but it will be an uphill battle if I have to resist the urge to slap her irregular hairclip to the ground every time she's on screen. Apparently her hairclip is much more sensible in the original light novel illustrations, so I can only assume it's Kyoto Animation being stylishly Kyoto Animation-ish.

Rin and Masato
I can't tell if Rin is the worst pitcher or the best one.

I'm still watching Little Busters! because it's technically a baseball anime. I'm pleased the new buxom character is not a nice person and that she's obviously better than everyone else around her. It's refreshing given that the anteater-panties girl and her retard moé qualities brought the show to a new low in episode two. I still believe it was a mistake to cast Horie Yui as the male lead, and I can't see myself watching this show much longer unless J.C. Staff actually convinces me to care about what happens to these characters—a dubious prospect considering I already know what does happen to these characters since I looked up most of the spoilers.

Dated 10 August 2012: It doesn't take Meitantei Conan to figure out who killed Yui's Gitah

Mio, Mugi, Azusa, Ritsu, and Yui
Not depicted: Bewildered patrons wondering why
people keep taking pictures of these tables.

What is Anime Tourism? Is it when anime fans make pilgrimages to real-life locales depicted in anime (see, for example, the Lucky Star Hajj), or is it when anime characters venture beyond their usual stomping grounds as tourists themselves? Maybe it's both. This installment features London, England, as depicted in the K-On! movie and in a series of Detective Conan episodes from 2011.

The River Thames
The River Thames
Welcome to London. It may appear slightly different than it does in anime.

Both K-On! and Detective Conan appear to be beneficiaries of an impressive amount of meticulous research. They accurately depict their locales while making only minor changes to avoid impeding their viewers' ability to identify certain settings. Some locations are simple yet still iconic and thus were shown virtually unchanged, such as this shot of the K-On! girls in the London Underground:

Azusa, Yui, Ritsu, Mugi, and Mio
Aldgate East
Upper: Azusa, Yui, Ritsu, Mugi, and Mio at the Aldgate East station.
Lower: Actual photo from the London Underground.

Of course, simple locations are not going to impress most viewers, nor encourage much anime tourism. Contrast this with the brief shot of the Tea Time band entering The Troubadour. A few seconds of film inspired enough visitors that the management now displays a K-On! poster in the window with a Japanese-language menu alongside its awards and positive reviews.

Mio, Azusa, Mugi, Ritsu, and Yui
The Troubadour
Upper: Mio, Azusa, Mugi, Ritsu, and Yui in front of The Troubadour.
Lower: Photo of the actual coffee house on Old Brompton Road.

As you can see, inconvenient trees and light poles occasionally get removed, and the scale sometimes gets changed to better fit a scene. For example, the rooms at 221B Baker Street are much more cramped than they appear in Detective Conan.

Sherlock Holmes museum
Sherlock Holmes museum
The interior of the Sherlock Holmes museum on 221B Baker Street.

Curiously, the K-On! girls also visit 221B Baker Street and pose for a picture, but appear to blow straight through the famous Abbey Road crossing without noticing. Had it been summertime, perhaps they would have been alerted by the crowds of tourists endangering their lives and making a general nuisance of themselves by playing in traffic.

Ritsu, Mugi, Yui, Mio, and Azusa
Abbey Road
Ritsu, Mugi, Yui, Mio, and Azusa cross Abbey Road on a quiet day.

I suppose the absence of crowds is a reasonable liberty in an anime movie. Anime "filming on location" generally seems to assume a best case scenario. Although blue skies are at least plausible in Ran's case since she visited London in July, the K-On! movie's depiction of the weather over Westminster Bridge during the colder months is somewhat optimistic.

Ran
Detective Conan episode 617.
Westminster Bridge
K-On! movie.
Westminster Bridge
There aren't crowds in Ran's shot because it's 9PM.

So how is the K-On! movie itself? I don't actually like K-On!, having dropped the series early in its run, but K-On! is a juggernaut almost inescapable for anime fans. So despite only watching four of its 40 episodes, I still know quite a bit about the show and the characters (although my Twitter joke pretending to mistake Ui for Yui's mother flopped), making the movie quite accessible. I have to admit it's a good movie, and the K-On! characters are more agreeable now that they're better established. In many respects, the K-On! movie is a journey. The characters travel from Japan to London and then proceed to explore the city, but it's also a journey in the sense that the movie is very much about the graduating members of the light music club searching for the appropriate way to hand it over to Azusa. Neither are journeys the way Monster is a journey, but they effectively take advantage of the opportunities a feature-length project has to offer. There is a palpable sense of bewilderment and wonder as Mio, Mugi, Ritsu, Yui, and Azusa wander around London, and the movie presents numerous opportunities for the viewer to see and experience it from their points of view.

Jubilee Gardens
Yui
Jubilee Gardens glows with the benefit of Yui-vision.

The unusually long London arc of Detective Conan episodes in 2011 is also a journey in both these literal and metaphorical senses. With regard to the metaphorical portion, the London arc advanced a fairly significant step in the relationship between Ran and Shinichi. From the literal perspective, Conan, Kogoro, Ran, and Professor Agasa race around the city collecting clues in order to stop a mad bomber, although the transitions are not as finely executed in these moments as they are in the K-On! movie. In the Detective Conan episodes, the characters seemingly pop up at various spots the story deems appropriate. Many of these cuts lack any real consideration as to how the characters got there, and some scenes ignore minor concerns that don't actually affect the plot. For example, Ran's fortuitous encounter with Minerva Glass at the base of the Sherlock Holmes statue outside the Baker Street Underground station (around the corner and a short distance away from the entrance to the Sherlock Holmes museum) advances the story, but doesn't necessarily comport with the traveling she does that day. The K-On! movie is much better at depicting travel around the city, and ensuring the corresponding scenes are generally geographically consistent; fans could potentially recreate much of the movie by tracing Hokago Tea Time's steps.

Ritsu, Mio, Yui, Mugi, and Azusa
Steps at the end of Westminster Bridge
This scene needed more pickpockets.

So am I actively advocating Anime Tourism? You mean like going to various locations around the world such as Italy or France or, well, countless places in Japan strictly for the purpose of seeing the 3D versions of 2D sites? Well, no, but if you're going to be in the area anyway, load up some screenshots on a portable device for comparison's sake. It's an interesting exercise in augmented unreality.

Dated 26 April 2009: I dropped K-On! twice

Mio tries to wake her idiot friends
Southpaw Mio tries to wake her idiot friends.

Truth be told, I would probably enjoy K-On! were it the property of a different studio rather than Kyoto Animation. I can't help but suspect Kyoto Animation is affirmatively trying to corner the market on moe blobs. At the very least, it's pushing the retard moe agenda something fierce.

Ritsu and Mio
Mio is freakishly strong.

I can't stand K-On! because of its pandering. Not that I have anything against pandering necessarily, but K-On! pushes nauseous idioms. Let's be clear: Retard Moe is horrible. I despise Yui and Ritsu. K-On! should be about Mio and Tsumugi and the non-incapacitated members of ENOZ rocking the fuck out and maybe covering "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" in front of drunken fans.

Mio
Mio as she actually appears in the show.

Mio fan art
Mio as viewers see her. [Source.]

Everyone loves Mio. She is the best character of the show. Nevertheless, I'm convinced her popularity is still inflated because viewers are suffering from Instrument Goggles. Ergo, they see her as she appears in fan art instead of as the timid and almost mousy girl in the actual show. Although I guess canonically she does still have the best rack.

Mio as a maid
Mio as a maid for no reason.

Oh, in case you were wondering, I dropped K-On! the first time after episode three because I couldn't stand Yui or Ritsu, but I grudgingly watched episode four because I wanted to know what in Hell the above picture was all about. I don't know. Maybe I'm suffering from instrument goggles too. [Update: Pinafore goggles.]