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Dated 7 September 2021: Kanojo mo Kanojo is a great show because it is preposterous

Nagisa, Naoya, and Saki
It's a pragmatic solution. Don't just dismiss it out of hand.

Not having a whole lot else to watch from the Summer 2021 anime season, I decided to give Kanojo mo Kanojo (Girlfriend, Girlfriend) a try on a goof. It turns out it's sort of fantastic. I initially assumed it was going to another one of those dreary harem comedies with a loathsome male protagonist surrounded by multiple girls who are entirely out of his league and yet inexplicably attracted to him. Or that it was going to be on of those dreary harem comedies where Potato-kun is actually sort of an all right dude, but is inexplicably incapable of noticing that every girl he comes into contact with keeps throwing her panties at him. It turns out Kanojo mo Kanojo is neither of those things. Rather, it's got some manner of Möbius strip horseshoe theory thing going on where all the environmental factors and character decisions that should be working to the show's detriment end up making it better.

Naoya and Nagisa
Busted.

It's no accident Kanojo mo Kanojo is working out this way. The recurring focus of the show's various dilemmas is on an unending series of incorruptibly honest decisions to pursue uncompromising choices that should result in self-destructive consequences by any reasonable objective standard. And yet it all continues to work out. I can't vouch for the manga source material, but the anime embraces the absurdity of its premise and absolutely succeeds in its execution.

Naoya and Saki
Never gonna happen.

Significantly, there is no hint of melodrama. That is something Girlfriend, Girlfriend really cannot afford. If Kanojo mo Kanojo ever decides to examine the consequences and societal frictions associated with polyamorous relationships, or attempts to position the various love interests against each other from hostile postures of envy or jealousy, it will do so at its peril. There had also better not be any of that typical harem comedy bullshit where a series gets its viewers to root for one of the girls to "win." (If it does, the erstwhile winner will probably be First Girl Childhood Friend, even though she has nothing in her favor compared to her rivals except for her hair.)

Rika, Naoya, Nagisa, and Saki
Busted.

Even though I only started watching Girlfriend, Girlfriend a short while ago, it did not take long before I caught up. There are currently 10 episodes out so far and only two to go. Since the source manga still seems to be running (I think eight volumes are out), a non-ending ending to the anime is probably basically guaranteed. I don't know how far Kanojo mo Kanojo can take its premise without getting derailed, but I would be in favor of additional seasons if it can keep up the show's high-intensity, relentless pace episode after episode without running out of steam.

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 24 August 2021: My hopes for Fena: Pirate Princess (Kaizoku Oujo) sank

Fena
I can tell she's a pirate because of how she's dressed.

Fena: Pirate Princess (Kaizoku Oujo) is a Crunchyroll and Adult Swim co-production that did not begin until mid-August. It's a simulcast with the subtitled episodes releasing on the Crunchyroll while the English dub airs on Adult Swim. I don't know if this late start (relative to other Summer 2021 anime) is to align its schedule with the rest of the Adult Swim lineup, but it seems the Japanese broadcast will not begin until October.

Yukimaru
Ain't this guy, like, 16?

It's not a bad show, even though I'm dropping it after three episodes during a season when I'm already not watching nearly as much as I typically do. I wouldn't call it a good show, either, though. I genuinely can't tell if Fena: Pirate Princess actually does seem more like a Western cartoon instead of a Japanese anime, or if I'm just biased into feeling that way because I know it's a co-production between the Crunchyroll and Adult Swim. After all, I haven't even bothered to investigate who is working on the show. It's just an impression I can't shake.

Karin and Fena
These ninja pirates could use a better barber.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter if the reason why I'm less into Kaizoku Oujo is because it is "not anime enough" or some other reason, since I just don't find the show engaging enough to keep watching either way. I'm not at all invested in Fena, or the ninja pirates (ninja pirates!) she's hanging out with now, nor am I interested in the antagonists pursuing her, even though some of them clearly benefit from character-design-based plot armor. I guess I do like the ninja pirate voiced by Yuuki Aoi okay, but that's possibly only because of her fucked-up bangs.

Hanna
Hanna could probably benefit from a rear sight or two on that gun.

The show's tone is also unusually light, despite (mostly obscured) violence and bloodletting. I wouldn't call it tonal whiplash, because there haven't been any moments in the first three episodes that I would characterize as deeply dramatic. The bigger problem is the jokes and whimsy aren't working for me. Some of the visual gags might work in a full-on wacky ninja-pirate adventure show. In any case, I'm out, but it's probably still worth investigating for yourself to see if it's your sort of thing.

Dated 17 August 2021: I'm only still watching Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! because it is new

Jahy
The Dark Realm might not have been a meritocracy.

I probably would not have started watching Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! (The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated!) if there had been more shows to watch this season. The best thing it seemed to have going for it was some speculation prior to its start that it would be controversial in certain circles for reasons I did not explore (but which I assume are probably related to the titular character's pantsless child form). However, after three episodes, it does not appear as if anyone gives a shit about this—at least not enough to attack it.

Jahy
At least her labor is being exploited now.

As far as its qualities go, entertainment-wise, Jahy-sama wa Kujikenai! is just okay at best. None of its jokes land for me. It certainly would not be my first recommendation to anyone looking for a series with this sort of setup. Y'all would be much better off watching Machikado Mazoku or Hataraku Maou-sama! or Gabriel DropOut instead. Even with not much else to watch this season, I'm still going to drop it if the reappearance of the mahou shoujo who wrecked Jahy's kingdom doesn't improve things significantly. So far, she's had zero lines and only a few seconds of screen time, but her school-uniform alter ego is in the ED experiencing various misfortunes. I do appreciate me some unrighteous misfortune.

Dated 12 August 2021: Sonny Boy is carrying the Summer 2021 anime season

Nagara, Mizuho, Tora, and Nozomi
Don't ask the cat. The cat won't tell you.

I decided to watch Sonny Boy because it's an original anime and the promotional art featured a girl holding a cat in a weird way. Then it turned out there wasn't really much else from the Summer 2021 anime season that interested me aside from some sequels and continuations. I don't like to characterize anime seasons as being bad, but this season is much less good than most of its predecessors.

Rajdhani
I can't believe so many of the boys are still wearing their ties.

Thankfully, Sonny Boy turned out to offer just the right amount of weirdness to keep me interested. I'm not sure if it will all come together at the end, but it's intriguing in the sort of way that should work if there's an actual planned conclusion. I'm at least confident it won't get dragged out for years like, uh, some American television shows I could name.

Cap and Asakaze
Asakaze got over this way faster than I would have.

After four episodes, I don't honestly know what's going on. Maybe today's episode will clear things up, but I'm not counting on it. On the plus side, I don't really feel the need for the series to explain what it's doing. Even if there aren't actually any clues I'm supposed to be stringing together, it's nice just to have something a little surreal every once in a while.

Nagara and Nozomi
I'm a big fan of lying down doing nothing, but ya gotta get up sometimes.

Really, the only genuine issue I have is that I'm approaching my limit with regard to Potato-kun being a fucking dishrag with no motivation, no interests or desires, and no charisma. I don't know why anime dudes have gotta always be this way (if they're not overly intense spazzes who shout all their lines), but it's not great. On the plus side, the girl who was holding a cat weird in the promo art is fantastic.

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 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.