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Dated 9 April 2018: I'm looking forward to Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

Tessa and Leonard
I guess you need to watch The Second Raid
to know who the person on the right is.

There has been a running gag for years about Full Metal Panic! fans in anguish about Kyoto Animation working on other projects instead of animating another sequel to follow Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid. To some extent, I fit that category of disgruntled fans in the sense that I did want another FMP season, although it's not accurate to claim I harbored Kyoani any ill will, if only because I had long ago concluded no such sequel would ever be forthcoming. Surprisingly, there is going to be a fourth season after all: Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. (Get it? Full Metal Panic! IV. Anyway....) Xebec is making this one, and it starts on 13 April. Do you need to watch the first three seasons before watching FMP IV? I dunno. Probably?

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Dated 26 March 2018: Sora yori mo Tooi Basho and Yuru Camp△ are the best shows of Winter 2018

Rin
There's also the matter of Rin's excellent hair.

Yuru Camp△ finished its 12-episode run last week with an open-ended conclusion to its deeply satisfying season. As far the actual narrative goes, I can't exactly claim Laid-Back Camp was particularly eventful, but the show's real strengths came from its pleasantly relaxed mood and its freakishly endearing lead character, Rin, anyway. I do like the other characters as well, though, and I'm particularly relieved Nadeshiko turned out to be a lot better than I initially feared, but Rin basically carried Yuru Camp△ for me. She did, after all, clinch the Girl of the Quarter crown in week 10 by racking up most of my Girl of the Week awards. If you place any stock in B.S. numerical ratings, I did score Yuru Camp△ in first place for most of the season before Sora yori mo Tooi Basho passed it.

Hinata
"When angry count four; when very angry, swear."

There's actually one episode of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho left, but I'm all but certain to subjectively regard it as this season's best show regardless of how it actually plays out. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (see this post for more about the show's name) is exceptionally well done. I'm particularly impressed with how it pays off the numerous little heartfelt investments it made during the course of the series. Also of note is the astute directing which has juggled comedy, drama, and even a little horror with skillful touches of emotional resonance in the right amounts and at the right times.

Violet
Mission top secret, destination unknown.

Speaking of emotional resonance, compare Sora yori mo Tooi Basho with the much hyped Violet Evergarden for example, which turned out to be a hot mess of wildly disparate levels of quality depending on the episode. I felt nearly all of them were clumsy and overwrought, with the exception of two episodes (both of which credit Sawa Shinpei as the episode director, incidentally). In particular, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho has made much better use of its music than Violet Evergarden has, as I've mentioned before. All in all, I'm very impressed with Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, and I'm looking forward to its creative team's future projects.

Dated 6 March 2018: Violet Evergarden is a fully automatic memory doll

Violet
Actually, Violet doesn't seem to brush her hair either.

Violet Evergarden is not subtle. The animation is beautiful, even by the already high standards I've come to expect of Kyoto Animation, but it's somewhat wasted in an uneven show. After eight episodes, I don't care about any of the characters—certainly none of these personality-free men with perpetually uncombed hair. I'm willing to pretend to care about Violet as the main character, but I think I should be more involved by this point so close to the show's end. I would have less of a problem with Violet being a cipher if the show were two cours or longer. As it is, it feels as if the entire auto memory doll letter-writing bit is filler instead of ostensibly one of the main aspects of the series. Is it telling that the far-and-away best episode to date was an anime-original addition?

Violet
WHAT MAKES THE GREEN GRASS GROW?

Writing aside, Violet Evergarden also seems too intent to serve as a talent showcase. It's filled with glorious vignettes, but mostly does not work for me as a whole. In particular, I find the background music incredibly intrusive. The music itself is good, despite not being especially memorable, but the bigger problem is I don't think I should be noticing it nearly as much as I do. In any case, it takes me out of the scene entirely too often. As with most of the other problems I have with Violet Evergarden, it's good from a technical perspective, but would benefit from more restraint. Or perhaps I'm only getting distracted by these components because I'm not invested in the show itself? Probably the lack of appreciation for the plot is entirely my fault, as I'm clearly more interested in the wartime flashbacks and post-war aspects than I am in Violet's effort to understand feelings. Violet Evergarden is only just now revealing the role its titular character played in the war and how she reached the state where we found her in the first episode.

Violet
I don't know why Violet is wearing short pants.

The explanations raise a lot of additional questions that I don't expect to be addressed. For one, considering how unremarkable Violet seemed to be when she was, uh, acquired, why doesn't the army have a lot more of these emotionless child soldiers? Violet was a goddamn wrecking machine that her unit dispatched when it needed someone to ninja the shit out of the enemy. And she was the only one with the situational awareness to identify a pretty obviously vulnerable position. It just seems they could have used a lot more of her ilk. I don't think this is nitpicking, because there should be a compelling reason why Violet has such a gift for killing. If the focus of the show is supposed to be emotional discovery and recovering from loss and the horrors of war, Violet Evergarden could conceivably hit the same points by making her a regular-type scrub child solider as opposed to a Norse valkyrie holy terror.

Dated 14 November 2016: I'm looking forward to some crazy Asuka drama

Asuka
Asuka drops her facade for a moment.

For the most part, I think viewers of Hibike! Euphonium consider Asuka to be a bit of a comic relief character. This is an understandable position given that she's constantly fucking with people and generally has one of the more energetic personalities on the show. Nevertheless, there have been numerous hints dropped both in the first season and in the current one suggesting that Asuka has some sort of shit going on that the viewer doesn't quite know about yet.

Asuka
A more typical Asuka.

Not being familiar with the source material, I don't have any idea if there's anything to these hints, or whether we'll see them addressed this season in the remaining episodes of the show, but it seems likely. Perhaps Kyoto Animation has been showing off Chekhov's euphonium all this time with no plans to toot that horn, but I like my chances. You know what's not gonna get resolved? Reina and Taki. Never gonna happen, Reina.

Dated 25 September 2016: Looking forward to autumn 2016 anime

Kogane
Who's ready for more BBK/BRNK faces?

There are a surprising number of shows I'm interested in scheduled for autumn 2016. Most of these are sequels of some sort, but there are a few new properties that have caught my eye. Notably, I've yet to do any concerted investigating into the upcoming season, so the following only include titles that I noticed at some point and deemed worthy of preemptively annotating in my anime spreadsheet.

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Dated 29 November 2015: Amagi Brilliant Park is a warning to pay your mercenaries

Kanye and Latifah
Princess Latifah and her knight, I guess.

I finally finished watching Amagi Brilliant Park after putting it on hold last year because I was watching too many shows at the time. It's an all right anime, but frankly nothing to get excited about. (I did enjoy Kawasumi Ayako as Moffle; that's a different sort of character for her.) It should surprise no one that the primary plot about the theme park's flagging attendance wraps up favorably. No, the fairies don't all wither and die. However, there was a subplot I didn't anticipate. Naturally, spoilers fill the rest of this entry.

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Dated 23 December 2014: Two voices

Sento
It sort of bugs me there are no sights on that weapon.

I first noticed Kakuma Ai because of her Aldnoah.Zero supporting character. She voices Nina, the schoolgirl refugee who nearly collided a ship with a giant obstacle the instant they let her steer. There's not much to the character that really stands out, but her panicky cries as she nearly wrecks the boat were pretty amusing. But then I noticed she's also in Amagi Brilliant Park, voicing Sento who sounds completely different than Nina. Sento didn't do any panicky yammering in the episodes I watched, but I did like the way she said "brilllyant paahk." I'm not particularly familiar with the rest of her work, but given the contrast between Nina and Sento and their aforementioned highlights, I'm encouraged to pay more attention to her in the future.

Emi
Emi's piano? Also a weapon.

Hayami Saori, who voices Emi from Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso caught my attention for the same reason I really enjoy Ito Kanae: She speaks with a normal voice. I find artificially squeaky "anime" voices a bit tiresome at times, and perhaps moreso when that fake-sounding anime voice is one the seiyuu uses as her "real" voice. Hayami Saori, on the other hand, sounds like a genuine person to me, which contributes a great deal towards my positive impressions of her character. Emi, if you don't know, is pathologically passionate about piano in such a way that would be sort of grating if I hadn't fully bought into her character. Emi's success in this regard speaks volumes to Hayami Saori's contribution to the show. It turns out I've also liked her in a few of her previous works, so she's another seiyuu to keep an ear out for, as it were.

Dated 23 November 2014: Anime triage

Conan and Sera
As if there is any chance in Hell of Sera turning out to be bad.

Because of "circumstances," I find myself dropping about half the shows I was following this season. Well, perhaps not so much dropping as putting on hiatus for the time being. Maybe I'll catch back up during a particularly lousy season that coincides with greater anime-watching opportunities. (Won't be next season, because next season looks pretty sweet.)

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