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Dated 8 June 2021: Tropical-Rouge! Precure is an average installment of the franchise, but that means it's pretty good

Laura
Just so you know, this is canon.

Is it racist to regard the mermaid character as the mascot of Tropical-Rouge! Precure? Because I'm gonna. The way I see it, Coco and Nuts from Yes! Precure 5 were both definitely mascots, even though they had human forms. (I think it's more appropriate to consider Milk and Syrup as sidekicks instead of mascots, but that's a digression.) Based on that precedent, I don't think it's inappropriate to also consider Laura as the team's mascot, even though she's more humanoid than, say, Hummy or Tarte.

Laura
It's lucky for the mermaid that the school and the city have so many canals.

I can see how someone might take issue with the mascot category in its entirety, due to various interpretations and implications of what "mascot" means. Some people like to refer to these sort of Pretty Cure characters as fairies, but that's clearly inappropriate here. Fairy is a biological designation which happens to apply to most of the mascots, but certainly would not apply to Laura. Mascot is a role, not a race. See, for example, the Phillie Phanatic, the San Diego Chicken, or Tainan's fish thing, Sababoy.

Laura, Minori, Manatsu, and Sango
Playing "Hide the Mermaid" is a good recurring gag.

In any case, Laura is pretty great, and a significant reason why Tropical-Rouge! Precure is so good. Really, all of the characters are enjoyable, but that's basically the norm when it comes to Pretty Cure characters in general. I like the unmotivated villains as well, even if sometimes they're a little too relatable. Through 15 episodes, if I were to rack and stack it along with the previous generations, Tropical-Rouge! ends up in the middle, but among some good company. It's a testament to how many exceptional years this franchise has produced so far that it doesn't place higher.

Dated 25 May 2021: Thunderbolt Fantasy season three is the most complicated puppet show I have ever watched

Rin and Sho
I heard you like puppets.

Admittedly, I have not watched very many puppet shows, but the list of puppet shows that I have watched does include seasons one and two of Thunderbolt Fantasy, so I think I am at least somewhat entitled to characterize its third season as being more complex than its predecessors. At a minimum, I feel it takes focused concentration to ensure I am not missing critical plot developments or under-appreciating character decisions. This is not to say Thunderbolt Fantasy: Tōriken Yūki 3 is a daunting show to follow in principle—just that there are some factors making it a surprisingly demanding watch considering I initially got on board strictly for puppet-fu.

Nanasatsu Tenryo
If you're going to spend the rest of your life as a sword, you may as well look fabulous.

For one thing, the names of the characters are spoken in Japanese, but the subtitles display their Chinese (or sometimes English) variants. This practice is not unique to the third season, but has made names more difficult to remember as the cast list grows. And then every character seems to have their own thing going on, so there are more plot threads to track. Additionally, most of the scenes this season have been somewhat dimly lit. This doesn't help when characters are routinely changing locations by literally teleporting through magic portals. Sometimes it's difficult to determine if I'm supposed to recognize locations. Still, these are not strong complaints, and Thunderbolt Fantasy continues to serve up awesome Taiwanese puppet fights, so I'm pretty stoked this third season exists at all.

Dated 18 May 2021: I get the feeling 86 Eighty Six is about interracial dating instead of war

Vladilena Lena, Handler One, Bloody Regina Milizé
Does this mean Lena has figured out she can use the PARA-RAID for phone sex?

After 6 six episodes of 86 Eighty Six, I think I can understand why readers enjoy the original light novels. I haven't been following the reactions to the anime closely, but I believe most impressions to it are favorable as well. The story has had enough interesting developments and twists that I expect most viewers who ventured past the first episode continue to enjoy it. If the anime gets more than one cours, I could see how an eventual romance between the two leads might make up the core of the story. Moreover, it would probably be better if that is that is the case, because 86 Eighty Six as a war story is somewhat shite.

Shinei Shin, Undertaker, Reaper Nouzen
This is Mikasa Ackerman's son, isn't it.

The anime is still revealing elements about the war in 86 Eighty Six, but I get the feeling we're all better off not thinking about it too much. Aircraft exist, but only so tourists can get shot down. Artillery exists, but only in the form of weenie short-ranged mortars. The apparent objectives for the battles shown so far are also sort of questionable. On the plus side, their spider-mechs are pretty fresh. I get that it's unfair to criticize 86 Eighty Six for these sorts of things when I'm totally okay with the SSSS.DYNAZENON fights, but it is possible to make unrealistic battles compelling (see The Price of Smiles, for example), and these just aren't.

Dated 11 May 2021: Godzilla Singular Point seems to have more than one point

Mei
Mei stares a lot in this show.

I don't actually know that much about the Godzilla franchise, but I'm under the impression that the movies typically start with people noticing something unusual, and the something really unsettling happens, and then everyone gets their shit wrecked, sometimes by Godzilla, sometimes by whatever Godzilla is fighting. This at least holds true of the few Godzilla properties I have seen, and it seems to hold true in the Godzilla Singular Point anime.

Jet Jaguar
Have harpoon gun. Will travel.

Godzilla doesn't appear in the first six episodes of Godzilla S.P, but there is a nerdy grad student who wears birth control glasses that are constantly on the verge of sliding off her face. There's also an AI that's probably technically malware, and an old man with a bitchin' car and a totally sweet garage-built robot, and some regular dudes who don't have the greatest survival instincts, but are getting by so far nevertheless.

Yun, Gorou, and Haberu
You have to be the size of a child to fit in this robot.

As an anime, Godzilla Singular Point is pretty good so far, and is probably worth your time once it hits the U.S. Netflix at, I dunno, some later date. Or at least it's worth your time providing you have any sort of interest in either Godzilla or nerdy girls who wear birth control glasses. At a minimum, it's better than the three-movie 3DCG thing that's already on the Netflix. That one just wasn't very compelling. I did feature Ueda Reina, though.

Dated 4 May 2021: I'm enjoying SSSS.DYNAZENON

Yume
I love how unaccommodating the ergonomics are for flying this thing.

As with SSSS.GRIDMAN before it, SSSS.DYNAZENON is not really about either giant robots or kaiju. Rather, it is about the human struggles affecting the characters themselves. After five episodes, the most consequential plot line in the show appears to be Yume's quest to learn more about her older sister and come to grips with her death. Sure, there is that whole kaiju thing and people reappearing from 5000 years ago, but Yume's got a lot going on, okay.

Mei and Yume
Yume is basically an entirely different person around someone she trusts.

Nevertheless, she still finds time to go to giant-robot practice (I love that they have actual giant-robot practice) and seems to have embraced this whole fighting monsters thing as a reasonable part of her life. Unfortunately, SSSS.DYNAZENON has not yet abandoned Potato-kun as a protagonist. Sidelining Yuuta in favor of Rikka and Akane was one of the best things SSSS.GRIDMAN ever did. I'm not saying Yomogi is entirely worthless, but I really got my hopes up when Chise took an interest in learning how to pilot as well.

Dated 13 April 2021: Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- places the fate of humanity in the hands of an amusement park animatronic

Diva
Diva runs sort of weird, but she is a robot.

Vivy -Flourite Eye's Song- is an original anime about a time traveler's efforts to prevent an artificial intelligence uprising that caused robots to run amok, resulting in the deaths of a whole mess of humans who—let's face it—probably had it coming. Due to desperate measures, this mission to prevent the looming disaster falls on Diva (Vivy), an amusement park android who is not at all enthusiastic about just going along with the plan. For one thing, her new AI pal from the future openly admits to withholding information from her and doesn't seem to care that she might have her own priorities and goals.

Diva
Maybe virus scans aren't as effective as you'd hope.

The AI from the future sort of reminds me of Frontier Setter from Rakuen Tsuihō (Expelled from Paradise), except without the charisma. Through the first three episodes, the viewer doesn't really have much reason to be suspicious of its intentions. After all, we do benefit from seeing the future events during the anime's prologue. Nevertheless, I'm at least inclined to take Diva's side during their disagreements. For one thing, altering a significant event does not seem to produce radical "butterfly effect" results that would render subsequent predictions related to upcoming milestones unreliable. Consequently, it's not clear whether Diva's desire to prevent future disasters unrelated to the AI uprising is necessarily impractical.

Diva
Considering the volume of Diva's hair, I have no idea
how she compressed it into such a small bun.

I have no idea how Diva is supposed to prevent the AI uprising. The events she's tasked with stopping during the first three episodes don't seem consequential enough to prevent what is surely the product of a great many circumstances beyond one android's ability to control. This is not as straightforward as going back to the '80s to kill Sarah Connor. It's not lost on me that Diva is likely not an amusement park animatronic (albeit a very sophisticated one) by accident. I'm ready to believe Diva unfucks the future by unleashing the power of song and making everyone happy, just as she's always wanted. You know, like the Minmay Attack except without genocide.

Dated 19 January 2021: I guess I have to call the Mushoku Tensei anime adaptation a success

Rudeus
Would he still have ended up a shithead anyway if he didn't have incredible magic powers?

I was first introduced to Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu (Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation or Jobless Reincarnation: I Will Seriously Try If I Go To Another World) years ago when it was only a web novel. Specifically, every single thing I heard about it made it sound terrible, even from readers who enjoyed it. In particular, the protagonist (named Rudeus in his new life) sounded about as despicable as you can make a character, at least according to secondhand sources.

Rudeus and Roxy
Roxy thinks Rudy only has crippling equine anxiety.

The second episode of the anime adaptation focuses a fair amount on the trauma that led to Rudy becoming a hikkikomori in his previous life. Even as a five-year-old boy in his new life, severe anxiety prevents him from leaving his home or making eye contact with villagers in the countryside. He does seem to get over it, thanks to the assistance of his live-in magic tutor who has befriended the neighbors during the course of her stay. I suppose this does inspire some degree of sympathy, since the anime depicts the bullying he suffered from his point of view and without any context. Still, it's not clear what transpired between his school days and adulthood. We learn he gets kicked out after staying home to masturbate instead of attending his parents' funeral, but it's less clear how he got there, and it's unknown what sort of course corrections—if any—he attempted during his life before reaching that point. The bullying is not enough for me to just give him a pass. In any case, the anime hasn't dwelled too much on his past (at least not yet), probably to its benefit.

Roxy and Rudeus
I sort of think Roxy would have noticed this.

The anime does continue to portray him as a perverted child, but there's not any comedic value in it. I presume these scenes are there to help establish a baseline that includes his pre-reincarnation persona and will thereby underscore progress that he makes later in this two-cours series. I'm mostly ambivalent about Rudeus at this point, so that's relatively positive considering I was expecting to loathe him. The anime itself still looks really nice, so I imagine fans of the books must be pleased with how it's turning out. I don't know that I'm going to stick around for two cours of this, but the show seems all right so far. I was expecting more questionable creative choices in the writing, but it seems those impressions may have been web-novel baggage that Mushoku Tensei is not dragging with it into the anime, at least not so far.

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.