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Dated 3 September 2018: Many thanks to Stevie Wonder for Hugtto! Precure

Emiru and RUR-9500
Emiru is probably remembering that everyone at school still thinks she's nuts.

Now well past the halfway mark, Hugtto! Precure is better than it has any right to be. Based on the number of strikes it normally would have against it, I shouldn't be enjoying it so much. Namely, it's got a magic baby. It has a shrimpy Cure. And it has my least favorite battle costumes of the entire franchise. It turns out, though, that the magic-baby scenes are not as objectionable as I had feared (although I could still do without them). The battle costumes are tragic; I guess that's not going to change. On the plus side, though, the shrimpy Cure is tops.

Harry, Hug-tan, Saaya, Kotori, Homare, Hana, RUR-9500, and Emiru
Actually, most of the cast is pretty good.

Cure Muse basically ruined shrimpy Cures for me. Cure Ace, I guess she was okay. Aguri was definitely more endearing than Ako. Emiru, though, as Cure Ma Chérie? Emiru is frickin' great. It's mostly because she's completely neurotic, which we got to see ahead of time in her two really good pre-transformation introductory episodes. It also helps that she's partnered with RUR-9500. The two of them bring out the best in each other's scenes. I suppose I can't quite say the same thing about Cure Amour, although they are fine together as well. After all, they do have beam-rifle guitars.

Dated 1 July 2015: Punch Line sure had a lot more plot than I was expecting

Strange Juice
This bus did not have safety glass.

More people probably would have watched Punch Line if they had banked on its noitaminA time slot instead of its first episode. I know a lot of people were immediately dissuaded from watching the series due to its premise. "A teenage boy develops superpowers whenever he sees panties? What is this ridiculous fan service horseshit?" It turns out the real problem with Punch Line is that it has too much plot. Thus, anime fans who might have enjoyed the time looping, mystery, and conspiracy components of the show but were turned away by an aversion to fan service missed out on the series. Likewise, many anime fans who wanted PANTIES and FIGHTING and PANTIES may have been let down by the more serious parts of the show.

Yuuta
It's because he saw panties.

I belong to the latter camp. While I did not find anything particularly wrong with the Punch Line plot, it brought a lot more complexity to the show than I was expecting. I basically wanted an entire series about Strange Juice doing Strange Juice things and maybe stupid missions assigned by the talking cat ghost. Instead, Strange Juice was barely in the show and I ended up finishing the series almost entirely due to the charm Kugimiya Rie brought to her character, Meika.

Dated 31 May 2015: Welcome back, Kugimiya Rie

Dingo and Angela
Angela Balzac shows Dingo how large the pizzas are in DEVA.

The past couple of years have been pretty good for Kugimiya Rie roles, as it appears she has moved beyond the tiny, flat-chested modern tsundere typecasting that plagued her for so long. Notably, she was excellent in Rakuen Tsuihō (Expelled from Paradise) as Angela Balzac (admittedly another tsundere, but fortunately the neoclassical variety). Ordinarily I would not have expected her in a role like this, but she did an outstanding job. The movie itself is also excellent, so I'm definitely buying the Blu-ray when it comes out later this week.

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Dated 8 June 2014: What Mangaka-something has to do with Mushishi 2: Electric Boogaloo

Yuuki and Sena
Co-starring Kugimiya Rie. Natch.

Just because I stop watching a show doesn't mean I've dropped it. This is the case with nearly every show in my Also Watching category, some of which have had zero progress in over two years. With regard to this season's new shows, I am way behind on Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to and Mushishi Zoku Shou, albeit for different reasons.

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Dated 23 October 2013: KILL la KILL leads the six shows that I'm watching so far

Mikisugi and Ryuuko
Relax, it's cool. He's her teacher.

I'm watching fewer shows autumn 2013 than I usually do. I suppose on average it's still about one episode each night, but with less time watching anime and less attention devoted to The Twitter, I do have noticeably more time to pursue other interests—to include updating an anime blog that's nearly in its 13th year.

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Dated 15 October 2013: In re Summer 2013 Anime -or- The End of Silver Spoon ~Air/My Purest Love for Bacon~

Nakajima and Yoshino
I couldn't think of a gouda cheese pun to use for this caption.

Summer 2013: Silver Spoon [1-11] > Uchouten Kazoku [1-13] > Symphogear G [1-13] > Love Lab [1-13] > Genshiken Nidaime [1-13] > Prisma☆Illya [1-10] > C3-bu [1-13] > Turning Girls [1-7] > Detective Conan (701-711) > DokiDoki! Precure (23-34) > RailgunS [13-24] > Dog & Scissors [1-12].

Yoshino and Hachiken
These two are pretty upset even though Yoshino's not pregnant.

Dropped: Gatchaman Crowds (1-9) > Servant x Service (1-3) > Kiniro Mosaic (1-4) > Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku (1-2) > Gen'ei o Kakeru Taiyou: Il Sole Penetra le Illusioni (1-3) > Chou Jigen Game Neptume The Animation (1) > High School DxD NEW (1-4) > Futari wa Milky Holmes (1-2). WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS: Shingeki no Kyojin (13.5-14).

This chart started out as a joke, but has grown kinda out of control. Of course, the whole ranking anime thing started out as a joke too, and then suddenly five years went by.

Yoshino and Aki
Yoshino makes me want to eat smoked cheese more than Churuya ever did.

Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon) was easily the best summer 2013 series that I watched. It was consistently entertaining and I was impressed with how Hachiken's character developed over the show's 11 episodes. Even the quandary with "Pork Bowl" ended up much better than I expected. That was the plot point I had the most reservations about, but I'm quite pleased with how Silver Spoon resolved it.

Professor Akadama
Five will get you tengu he's going to trash the joint.

Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) stands out among the summer 2013 shows for being intelligent about idiots and being strange while feeling familiar. The focus is on tanuki family dynamics, but it turns out the problems fuzzball shapeshifters have with their families aren't too different than those experienced by humans, except perhaps tanuki aren't as quick to embrace Shakespearean revenge tragedies. To be fair, all I really learned about tanuki is that they are dumbasses and that they are easily panicked, but maybe that's all anyone needs to know about tanuki.

Benten
Tall-collar service.

More importantly, I learned Mamiko can knock 'em dead better than ever. Her work as Benten was transcendent. I've never wanted to be a decrepit old man more. In fact, thanks mostly to Noto Mamiko's superb work, but also because Benten herself is such straight-up trouble, I'm nominating Suzuki Satomi for 2013 Girl of the Year. I'd also like to mention that Nakahara Mai is better than ever, although I encourage her to take more parts like her role in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita and and fewer roles as young boys.

The Shimogamo mom
The Shimogamo matriarch is lucky so many dudes wanted to do her tanuki-style.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music... had a great ending. Basically, if you didn't like that final episode then you just don't like anime. That said, the show itself did have a few issues. First of all, Dr. Ver's comically evil persona never seemed particularly threatening, except for maybe when we learned he wanted to make babies with Maria. Second, Maria herself turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. I certainly was not expecting her to spend most of the show crying. I guess it's a good thing there's not going to be a follow-up cour devoted to her efforts at repopulating the planet, because she'd probably cry the entire time then too.

Maria
Listen, sugar, either go back to whaling on some deadbeats
or help me repopulate the planet, but get to work.

Sorry, Maria really needed to focus more on tearing shit up and coming up with new cape-fu moves instead of all the moping she did. Still, I'll ignore a lot of faults when a show spends most of its time focusing on mahou shoujo whaling on each other while singing. Shirabe and Kirika were endearing even though their fights lost a lot of impact because there was no danger of anyone getting hurt. Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS already demonstrated that providing lots of collateral damage is not a substitute for emotional resonance.

Illya
The fan service in Prisma☆Illya gets out of control.

I've already written about the endings to Love Lab, Genshiken Nidaime, and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya.

Yura
Oh, hey, it's Evangelion's Train of Despair.

Tokurei Sochi Dantai Stella Jo-Gakuin Koutou-ka C3-Bu spent too much time on Yura taking all the fun out of a game, but that was sort of the point. In a way, C3-bu felt as if Gainax wanted to stretch out a Gainax ending as far as they could. Technically, C3-bu did have a Gainax ending, but then they went ahead and made another episode that seemed to contain material I'd usually expect in a standalone OVA. Maybe that's the way it was originally planned, but someone figured at the last minute that it probably wouldn't sell or something.

I finished watching Turning Girls weeks ago.

Ran, Kogoro, and Conan
Ran shows off her crazy metabolism again.

I fell behind on Detective Conan but managed to catch up by the time I finally got this thing written. As for Meitantei Conan itself, it's still a reliable control for comparing shows season-to-season. It does need more Kazuha, though. I was concerned maybe her prolonged absence was related to Miyamura Yuko's longer commuting requirements. (She moved to Australia a few years ago.) I'm not sure if that's a factor, but it appears autumn 2013 starts off with at least four Heiji (with Kazuha in tow) episodes to follow the two that finished up the summer 2013 season. I'm certainly in favor of a six-episode block of Kazuha episodes, but I'm curious if they would have been spaced out instead if Miyamura Yuko still lived in Japan.

Cure Rosetta
Relax, yo. Cure Rosetta has got this.

DokiDoki! Precure did two notable things during the summer 2013 cour. One, it introduced a sass-talking Kugimiya Rie Cure. Two, it raised the stakes in the all-singing, all-dancing 3DCG ED wars. Aside from that, DokiDoki! is turning out to be one of the less interesting Pretty Cure generations, although episode 34 did have some rad Cure Rosetta beatdowns.

Saten and Uiharu
This made no sense, but I'll allow it.

To Aru Kagaku no Railgun S needed more SATEN, but I'm glad it found excuses to trot her out in different hairstyles and various street clothes. The ending of the series was rather ridiculous with its casualty-free battle between espers and drones. I guess I was pleased to see SATEN behind the controls of a giant robot, though. P.S. Spoilers.

I already covered Dog and Scissors.

I won't revisit the shows I dropped except to say I also dropped Gatchaman Crowds. This one comes as a bit of a surprise because it seemed so promising after a strong start. However, I was unable to take the villain seriously and never cared what he did. I also did not sympathize with Rui at all nor had any interest in his reasons for crossdressing. The turning point was the episode where Rui is mercilessly beaten for what ended up being a hilariously long time and I realized I had absolutely no emotional investment in any of the characters and was only still watching to see how long Hajime could prolong her violently upbeat attitude. I fell behind after that, and once I learned how disappointed other fans were with the series finale, I decided to simply quit watching altogether.

Saten and Uiharu
Hey, sweetie, eyes on the God damn road.

This season summary is a lot more piecemeal than previous ones, but I kinda get the feeling the amount of time required to compile these things does not expand linearly with the number of additional shows watched. Maybe the one I write three months from now for the autumn 2013 shows will be a lot more cohesive and contain greater detail and not be dragged out over several weeks. At least, maybe it will be that way if I continue to watch only three shows. I've got up to 10 I might consider, but I can't see following more than seven for the time being.

Dated 6 January 2012: Season Summary, Autumn 2011

Haruka and Chihaya
Haruka visits Chihaya's spartan apartment in episode 11.

Leading the way by a large margin in autumn 2011 is The IDOLM@STER TV. I am solidly in the camp that believes Idolmaster exceeded all expectations. It doesn't quite win the coveted No Bad Episodes award (thanks for dragging down the curve, Hibiki), and some of the early summer 2011 episodes stumbled in parts, but taken as a whole Idolm@ster performed very well. As much as I enjoyed Hanasaku Iroha in the spring and summer, iM@S is easily my choice for show of the year. Some may argue Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica deserves Show of the Year, but I believe its baggage will prevent it from being as fondly remembered in the long run.

Chihaya
Chihaya alone in her apartment, episode 20.

I am both disappointed and relieved Idolm@ster did not use a Miki + Producer scandal as its final plot arc—disappointed because I have a perverse interest in drama and trauma in my -rama, but relieved because the actual final arc was a great way to end the season that fit very well with the tone and progression of the show over its 25 episodes. Thankfully, it also leaves the door ajar for another 25 episodes.

Chihaya's apartment
Chihaya's apartment, episode 25.

I'm conflicted as to whether Idolm@ster is a harem comedy or not. I have to conclude that it is, but it's a harem comedy the way the original To Heart anime is a harem comedy, and not in the way the insipid ToHeart2 is a harem comedy. Notably, despite more than a dozen nubile girls commanding his attention, Producer is a serious love interest to none of them. Miki might disagree with me here, and although she gives Producer the green light early and often, there is no real romantic or sexual tension between them. All the girls all fond of Producer, but in wholly appropriate ways. The girls want to be good idols for him, but they also want to succeed for their own sakes. Likewise, the girls of To Heart are fond of Hiroyuki as he serially befriends the Hell out of them, but they have their own goals and aspirations independent of him, unlike standard brainwashed harem comedy heroines inexplicably devoted to Potato-kun. Making Producer a part of his idols' lives, but not the center of their attention prevents Idolm@ster from going down a very bad road.

Inori
Inori tries to save Guilty Crown.

It's a long drop from the top spot to the second-best show I watched in autumn 2011: Guilty Crown. No matter how many unique things Guilty Crown may try and no matter what nuances it gives its characters, the package as a whole is wrapped in some of the most juvenile, cliché, and outright ridiculous developments. Still, none of these faults necessarily prevent Guilty Crown from being entertaining. If you have no stomach for a show quite obviously intended for male viewers in their early teens, then you will probably not wish to suffer through another cour of Guilty Crown. I, on the other hand, am quite looking forward to the second half of the show in winter 2012. Hell yeah.

Shaga
You wouldn't hit a girl with glasses, would you?

I almost dropped Ben-to after episode two because I assumed a show based on a fairly thin gimmick would wear out its welcome very quickly. Nevertheless, I kept watching because I was determined to at least learn what Panty was doing in this show. Surprisingly, the characters remained likeable and the premise remained entertaining. The unapologetic Sega pimping helped, too. It was also good to have Horie Yui and Tamura Yukari playing off each other. They make a good duo, and the dynamic is even better in Ben-to than it was in B Gata H Kei.

Ika Musume
They'll all be dead in a couple days anyway, de geso.

Shinryaku!? Ika Musume is not as good as the first season, mostly because it felt like it was playing off the same jokes over and over. The first season benefited from numerous examples of one-upmanship as Ika Musume learned or did something more improbable than the last. There were a few such moments this season, but Shinryaku!? Ika Musume paled in comparison to its brilliant first season.

Conan and Ran
I wonder what Conan saw in the mirror, Ran?

This was a good year for Detective Conan, particularly with regard to the summer's London arc, but the autumn portion was mostly about par for the course. It was also a good year for Ran, the 2011 Girl of the Year. The many Detective Conan OPs and EDs are notoriously cruel to Ran + Shinichi 'shippers, but the ED closing out the autumn 2011 season offers hints as to the shows eventual conclusion. (Detective Conan can't really run forever, right? Right?) Avert your eyes if you fear my psychic powers lend credence to what is admittedly merely a wild guess on my part: Shinichi will not return to his normal age. Ran will suffer the same fate as Shinichi and Haibara and become a small child again herself. Ran will finally learn Conan's secret and the series will end. I'm counting on anime's penchant for packing OPs and EDs with spoilers to ultimately prove me right. Besides, there's a legitimate way out: The numerous Kaito Kid specials this year have been good enough that I think an outright spinoff is a solid possibility. I sure hope Sawashiro Miyuki is prepared to play a scandalously clad high school ojou-sama witch for the next 10 years.

Saber and Irisviel
Saber and Irisviel both need hats.

Fate/zero is beautifully animated and basically better in every way possible than its horribly flawed predecessor Fate/stay night (except for lacking a Tohsaka Rin old enough to properly boast her trademark sweater + zettai ryouiki flawless combination). Even Saber manages to seem, well, not smart, but at least cool. And I like Irisviel far more than I expected, probably boosted by her fine taste in vintage automobiles. Still, the Fate/zero dialog dumps are so sonorous, and there's so much of it. I'm sure its second half will do better during winter spring 2012 when everyone starts killing each other.

Cure Beat, Cure Melody, Cure Rhythm, and Cure Muse
Probably shouldn't have stood around being useless
while Cure Melody was getting her ass kicked, eh.

Suite Precure♪ surpassed Fresh Pretty Cure somewhere around the Cure Muse arc as the most underachieving iteration of the Pretty Cure franchise, and since then it has done nothing but continue to fall in my estimation. Suite is not quite in freefall, but Lord, it ain't falling up. For over a thousand generations the Pretty Cure were the guardians of peace and justice in the Old Republic. Before the dark times. Before they started letting cats and small children into their order. Also, I really hope impressionable young Suite Precure♪ viewers do not grow up thinking Cure Melody's solution is in any way an appropriate solution to resolving a hostage situation. I hope Smile Precure! does better, but its large starting cast and rumors of additional non-human Cures fill me with dread. (Yeah, I guess I'm racist. Speciesist?) At some point, Kaoru and Michiru have got to get tired of getting snubbed by their inexplicable exclusion from the Sacred Order of the Pretty Cure and crash the show to trash the joint and bust some heads the old fashioned way. Got to.

Shana
Go on, Shana. Curse the bitch out.

Shakugan no Shana Final is not that bad. Honest! It's way better than the second season of Shakugan no Shana, okay? Then again, I still rate it below Suite Precure♪, which ought to tell you something. On the plus side, this whole season has been about war, albeit not a very competently executed war. It also doesn't help that J.C. Staff still has trouble with fight scenes. In other news, two of the main characters engaged in sexual intercourse so vigorously one of them required magical augmentation beforehand to prevent permanent injury or possible death from the encounter. True story. [P.S. Spoilers.]

Sena
UNIVERSE!

I dropped Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai after three episodes, but I accidentally acquired a copy of episode nine in a game of chance, so I watched that too. The show is all right—bettter than Shana III at least, but I don't have any interest in it. This is unsurprising because I have no interest in the manga either, having dropped it at least three times since it first came on the scene. I also don't like the anime character designs at all.

Dated 1 October 2011: There is no need to watch Shakugan no Shana II before watching the third season

Shana
Shana scenes suck when her hair isn't on fire.

I generally strongly discourage people from skipping seasons. Typically they do it so they can follow something shiny and new and/or watch something at the same time as their friends so they'll have something to talk about. This can lead to very poor decisions, such as watching Diebuster before watching Gunbuster, or watching Shikabane Hime: Kuro without watching Shikabane Hime: Aka. I have less of an issue with people skipping previous Mobile Suit Gundam seasons (at least for series in different continuities) since there are so damn many of them, or skipping previous Macross iterations, although I do insist on people watching the original Cho Jiku Yosai Macross; do not be tempted to lean on Do You Remember Love? instead. Good movie, but really not a substitute for the original series—not at all.

Carmel's head thingy
Carmel's head thingy had the best lines.

But while I feel it is wrong on principle to skip seasons, especially when one's reasons for doing so fall in the "shiny and new" camp, I can make an exception for Shakugan no Shana II. I watched 24 episodes of this second Shana season because I enjoyed the first season and wanted to give the upcoming third season a try. This may have been a mistake. Shana II is every bit as awful as its reputation warned me. Shana II is 24 episodes of tedium occasionally interrupted by insipid fights. It is WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS, I finished Shana II with great reluctance. It was never ever actually BAD in the way Limeiro CROSS or Macademi Wasshoi! were truly bad; it just wasn't ever compelling, or even interesting.

Kazumi
Kazumi has a little trouble with her jeans.

To put things into perspective, the multi-episode climactic battle at the end of Shana II kept giving me flashbacks to the Demonbane anime. Now, Demonbane is by no means good, but I have to say that it was at least more interesting than Shana II. This is especially true of the fights. I've long harped on J.C. Staff and its poor track record when it comes to animating fight scenes (excellent Azumanga Daioh snowball fight notwithstanding), but I remember even the worst Demonbane fights against the shrieking mad scientist to be more engaging than climactic season finale fight scene against the shrieking mad scientist of Shana II. And I'm not just saying that because Mr. Eroge Protagonist from the Demonbane anime had to soul kiss a book every time to make his giant robot go. Well, he didn't have to, probably. He just did. But I digress. Shakugan no Shana II is a horror, and I will be amazed if Shana III requires any foreknowledge of its preceeding season's events. Yeah, I'll still at least start Shakugan no Shana III. It's too late to turn back now. Who knows, maybe the odd-numbered seasons will be good.