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Dated 5 November 2018: I'm not sure I want to watch a full year of Sword Art Online: Alicization

Kazuto
Relax, he's fine.

I don't regard myself as part of the Sword Art Online fandom, a demographic I associate with "newer" anime fans (newer than me, okay), but at the same time I think I'm much less critical of the franchise than most "old ass" anime fans. Pretty much all of the major criticisms of the anime and its source material are accurate, but I also take the position—somewhat—that it doesn't really matter. Not exactly high praise, indeed, but perhaps sufficient to establish that I am happy to watch Sword Art Online: Alicization, yet not particularly enthused that it is reportedly going to be about 50 episodes long.

Asuna, Midori, and Suguha
Asuna is the best-dressed guest at this hosptial.

I think I've already been spoiled on most of the major Alicization plot developments. At least nothing in first five scene-setting episodes seemed unexpected. This does make me wonder what it is about the show that I'm even anticipating, though. Potentially, I'm only watching because Sword Art Online is a big property and I'm motivated to stay up to date since I've seen all of the anime thus far already. That could be it, but there are plenty of big shows that I've simply abandoned or ignored completely.

Yui, Suguha, and Asuna
If you didn't watch the SAO: Ordinal Scale movie, you may be confused why Yui is here.

I can't even claim to be watching it for the characters, since I'm only modestly fond of Asuna and Yui and basically ambivalent about everyone else, at best. All those jokes about MORE DEBAN? Yeah, I don't really care if y'all get more deban or not. Oh, I also like the character who died of AIDS, but I'm not expecting her to make an appearance in SAO: Alicization. You know, because she already died of AIDS. At least I think Kajiura Yuki is still doing the music, so there you go; that'll be my motivation for dragging myself through this show for the next year.

Dated 21 August 2017: I was probably predisposed to like Princess Principal on general principle

Ange
Princess Principal also features some good hats.

Princess Principal features steampunk alternate history, Kajiura Yuki music, and copious helpings of espionage. Moreover, it's an original anime. Those don't appear to be quite as common these days; everything seems to be a light novel or mobile video game adaptation. Based on these elements, I was guaranteed to at least give the show a try. And, hey, it turns out it's pretty good. At a minimum, the action is a lot better than I was expecting, and the stories frequently take unexpected turns away from anticipated norms when the plot encounters common tropes. Nothing too crazy, but enough of a twist to make each resolution more satisfying than I was expecting.

Princess
Princess Mode activated.

I do agree with critics who noted it wasn't really necessary to introduce the princess in the first episode. It probably would have made the payoffs in the second and third episodes stronger. Then again, she's right in the title of the anime, so it's not as if she could have caught viewers by total surprise. Incidentally, the episodes are not in chronological order, seemingly to produce the same effects as when Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu aired out of order. It works so far, but the titles also imply there are more episodes than I'd expect in a single cours. Maybe this suggests they're teeing it up for a second season, or maybe it means nothing at all. In either case, I'm at least optimistic the season will end in a sensible, satisfying way and not the non-ending-ending bullshit that is too often the norm. As an original anime, Princess Principal doesn't have an excuse to screw up its second half, particularly considering the first half has been so strong.

Dated 4 June 2015: Girls-with-guns trilogy re-watching project complete, or, Bee Train be the bee trainiest

Noir discs and merchandise
Noir DVDs and Blu-rays. Also pictured: Some random
swag that RightStuf was trying to unload.

I fuckin' love Noir. You'll know this if you've read some of my old ass blog posts on the series—ones I've been meaning to import into WordPress for like, years. You'll also know this if you follow me on The Twitter, as I recently completed my Bee Train girls-with-guns trilogy re-watching project. This was inspired by my acquisition of Noir Blu-rays which, conveniently, are a Hell of a bargain. I also had Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja DVDs which I had previously purchased but never got around to watching. As you can see from the picture above, I already had the Noir DVD box set (which came with a Kirika t-shirt), but the Blu-rays are still a great deal even for fans who already have the DVDs.

Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja DVDs
I probably should have used a picture of Elenore here instead.

I've already re-watched Noir at least twice in the past 12 years or so, but this was my first time re-watching Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja. Noir holds up if you're already okay with the incredible feats they pull off. For example, basically every shot Kirika ever fires results in an instant kill. She's shooting .380 ACP ball ammo for crying out loud. Of course, considering some of the feats she accomplishes during the course of the show, I'm reasonably certain Kirika could find a way to instantaneously kill a room full of Soldats flunkies using a package of Q-Tips. Neither Madlax nor El Cazador de la Bruja are quite as good as I remember though, and I didn't think they were that great to begin with. Madlax at least benefits from one of best anime maids of all time, but El Cazador is sort of dreadful to marathon.

Dated 9 January 2011: Winter 2011 initial impressions for Rio -Rainbow Gate!-, IS Infinite Stratos, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, Freezing, and that one show with the cats (Yumekui Merry)

Ichika
I see many bentos in your future, Potato-kun.

Bottom line up front? The only shows worth following right now are Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season, introduced earlier and hopefully as good as the first season, and Infinite Stratos if you like that sort of thing. With regard to every other show, you're better off burning through the backlog of good shows you've been meaning to watch—or at least I am.

Rio
I think this has something to do with how Rio cheats at cards.

Rio -Rainbow Gate!- did not suck as bad as I was expecting, not that I had high hopes for an anime based on a pachinko machine's motif or whatever the Hell it's supposed to be. Based on episode one, I predict the rest of the season will be filled with a lot of boobs (no nudity), lots of really shiny skin, and several different outfits every episode. What I didn't expect were the CARD BATTLES which I suppose were okay because they weren't obvious efforts to market merchandise for some game aimed at grammar school students. I guess Rio -Rainbow Gate!- counts as a gambling anime the way Battle Spirits Brave does. I'll give it at least one more episode.

Cecilia
Yukana is pretty awesome in this, to tell you the truth.

Infinite Stratos has a Negima-sized harem around a non-worthless male protagonist, air battles stolen from Soukou no Strain (and a few Touhou games), and mecha from Sky Girls. The first episode was about what I expected and didn't have anything offensive or lousy to really complain about if you were already inclined to watch it in the first place.

Madoka
The widefaces are medium-wide.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica had a lot of SHAFT X SHINBO being SHAFT X SHINBO. If you think Shinbo is a genius and SHAFT an amazingly creative studio, then you'll love this regardless of how you feel about magikal girls. This isn't really mahou shoujo anyway, just as Bakemonogatari was not a high school love comedy. The Kajiura Yuki music isn't quite as good as her recent work on Pandora Hearts just yet, but it's only been one episode. I did not include Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica in my two-deep "okay to watch now" list above because SHAFT being SHAFT, there will probably be extensive revisions and updates in the Blu-rays fixing stuff they didn't finish on time before the broadcasts. You might as well wait for those unless you are sure you'll watch it multiple times anyway need to watch it before buying the retail release.

Akemi
Madoka:Caterpillar::Akemi:Butterfly.

One thing that bugs me about the Puella Magi Madoka Magica alternate title to Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, though: Is that supposed to be Latin? If so, isn't the gender wrong? Is that supposed to be masculine nominative plural? Genitive singular? Is this SHAFT's idea of a "ROMANES EUNT DOMUS" joke? Anyway, send me a telegram if your Latin is better than mine or if you otherwise know what the Hell that's supposed to be.

Bridgette
[SPOILERS] Satellizer gets motorboated
so hard she CGIs all over the place.

Freezing feels like Queen's Blade only bloody, grim, and dark instead of stupid and funny. Bridgette L. Satellizer Poemer has not whipped out the DARK MAMIKO quite yet, but I have high hopes this 36-22-33 hamburger-loving 17-year-old (it's canon, okay) will break it out soon enough. Unfortunately, I've only seen it thus far in a steam-censored 4:3 version, so again you're probably better off waiting unless you're sure you'll want to be frozen twice.

Merry
At least Merry isn't making that stupid :3 mouth.

There wasn't anything wrong with Yumekui Merry. The premise is fine. The animation is fine. The characters and character designs are fine. It has all the markings of another J.C. Staff layup. I just didn't have any interest in the show at all. It had cats, but they talked too much and didn't do a lot of cute cat things. "John Doo" isn't especially threatening, and Merry kinda looks like a girl who is supposed to look like a boy that looks like a girl. In any case, dropped.

Ume
Ume seems like such a sweet girl, too.

So there you go. Kimi ni Todoke 2nd Season if you enjoyed the first season (definitely do not watch the second season if you have not already seen the first season! What is wrong with you people?), Infinite Stratos unless you like to pretend you are too good to watch anime that looks like anime, and Madoka Magica if you already knew you'd like it on general principle regardless of what I said about it. Me, I'll be finishing up Heartcatch Precure!, churning through several hundred remaining Detective Conan episodes, and maybe watching more Bagpuss. It's on Youtube.

Dated 12 January 2010: The Anime Experiment of Winter 2010

Ladies Versus Butlers! random screenshot
Entirely random Ladies Versus Butlers! screenshot.
That someone gets groped comes as no surprise.

I am looking for a currently airing series to watch exclusively on my Playstation Portable. This will have to be a low-expectation series I would not otherwise care about, because I don't want to "waste" a show for a dubious experiment. Hopefully this will work out better than this experiment.

Ladies Versus Butlers! random screenshot
Another random Ladies Versus Butlers! screenshot.
Holy crap, that is a lot of hair.

Every single anime series I've watched for the past six years or so has been on a television (aside from episodes on a computer while traveling or times I re-watched something without giving it my full attention). My theory is that everything is better when viewed on a home theater setup instead of on a computer monitor, and even more so when compared to the streaming video formats that have grown so popular recently. I believe these practices make some viewers less tolerant of shows they might otherwise enjoy were the viewing conditions more ideal.

Ookami Kakushi random screenshot
A random Ookami Kakushi screenshot.
I want to mow my lawn with a scythe.

So, I'm going to find a series for which I have low expectations and try by to watch it entirely on my PSP to see how it all pans out. Besides, I never use my PSP for anything. The only question now: Which series? I'm thinking Ladies Versus Butlers! because of The Ayako Doctrine. Another possibility is Ookami Kakushi, mostly because I love FictionJunction Yuuka. Hell, maybe even Chu-Bra!! if SDS is serious. I don't really care what it is, as long as it's not unwatchably bad or so good I'll wish I had watched it on a TV. However, regardless of the show, I refuse to do my own re-encoding even though it's pretty easy to do. It's a matter of principle.

Dated 31 July 2009: Kara no Kyoukai 6 is pretty awesome

Azaka, Mikiya, and Shiki
I'm still waiting for ufotable to animate a show entirely via claymation.

It surprises me not at all that the sixth installment of Kara no Kyoukai is excellent—the first five were excellent as well. However, Kara no Kyoukai 6 is awesome in ways I wasn't expecting.

Shiki
Wait, why is Shiki dressed like a nun?

Sure, the music is top notch. The score she is producing for this title may be some of Yuki Kajirua's best work. That I already knew. Likewise, the fights are of the caliber a fan of these films would come to expect. What I wasn't expecting was discovering Azaka is a character from seemingly a completely different show.

Azaka
Kara no Kyoukai ~Only Love~

Much of Kara no Kyoukai 6 feels like parody because the tone is so different compared to the first five. Plus there are those eerie Marimite vibes. And Azaka's moe blob imouto roots. The Hell did that come from? And also Azaka kinda talks like a cross between a Kugimiya Rie stereotype and genki-time Mimiru from .hack//SIGN.

Shiki, Azaka, and Mikiya
Azaka bursts in on Shiki and Mikiya. Don't you ever knock, sis?

"GEH," I shit you not. It works, though, and ufotable wisely minimizes Azaka's and Mikiya's screen time together to duck those very moe blob pitfalls in the most lighthearted installment of Kara no Kyoukai yet. Alas, now my wait begins anew for the seventh movie.

Dated 12 June 2009: Pandora Hearts widescreen watch

Alice and Oz are appalled
I keep waiting for Alice's and Oz's faces to stick that way.

There are four subtitled widescreen episodes of Pandora Hearts now. This gives me another excuse to continue promoting a show all y'all will drop after two episodes anyway, alas.

Dated 22 May 2009: Pandora Hearts is so good I can't even tell what's going on

Alice
Pandora Hearts celebrates Alice's thighs as Kannagi did Nagi's.

I started watching Pandora Hearts for three reasons. First, the AYAKO DOCTRINE. Second, Kajiura Yuki composing the musical score. Third, Savage Genius contributing the ED.

Alice
Warning: Alice will boot to the head without hesitation.

After seven episodes, I'm still not really sure what to make of the show. The music is great, but it isn't as memorable as Kajiura Yuki's best work. The style and appearance of the show remind me a little of American McGee's Alice—or at least remind me I never finished it. It's probably all the clockwork and Victorian madness. Kawasumi Ayako does play a character named Alice, and there are definite influences from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, but Pandora Hearts has less to do with that book than Soukou no Strain has to do with A Little Princess.

Alice
Alice is displeased.

Alice is my main reason for liking Pandora Hearts so far. She has great hair and insane grins and so much verve. I get the feeling Ayako is having a lot of fun voicing the character. Alice makes every scene she's in captivating, even if it's just about her eating chicken.

Oz
Oz about to get fucked up by some dolls. Good luck, guy.

Curiously, despite the numerous groups fansubbing Pandora Hearts, I am the only person I know actually watching it. Then again, I'm the only one I know watching Cross Game, the fifth season of Major, or Fresh Pretty Cure. Everyone's too busy watching K-On! over and over, I guess. Anyway, if you feel like giving Pandora Hearts a try, the widescreen versions are up to episode three now; you'll need to watch that far to see Abyss. The video quality on the HD upscales are horrible, though.