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Dated 19 October 2021: In re Isekai Shokudou 2: Still looks like a nice place to eat

Aletta
Aletta is pleasant.

There's honestly not all that much to Isekai Shokudou (Restaurant to Another World), but I enjoyed the first season enough to watch its sequel. Isekai Shokudou 2 continues its first season's parade of enthusiastic patrons whose displays of excitement are not entirely over the top, unlike some other food-reaction-shot anime. I at least don't remember any guests literally orgasming from their meals.

Kuro
Kuro is pleasant on the inside.

There's also not really very much tension or drama. There are a number of side plots related to the customers and how they happened to find the magic door to the restaurant, but these are also secondary to showing off the various dishes and encouraging viewers to try them. In that respect, Restaurant to Another World is fairly successful. At a minimum, it's a reminder that I have available to me an incredible assortment of different cuisines and the means to sample them (even if they do cost more than a few coppers, typically). I should probably do so more often. I don't even need to travel to another world to do it.

Dated 12 October 2021: I am enjoying Tsuki to Laika to Nosferatu

Anya
Nice hat.

Cold War PseudoSoviets sending a vampire into space is an interesting enough premise that I would give Tsuki to Laika to Nosferatu (localized as either Moon, Laika, and the Bloodsucking Princess or Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut) a chance on general principle. Having Hayashibara Megumi voice the lead role seals it. (She's had plenty of lead roles, but this is much less common these days.) Giving it an OP by ALI PROJECT is also a bonus.

Irina and Lev
The tubes contain cosmonaut food. I wonder if there is also CMYK cosmonaut food.

I like that Tsuki to Laika to Nosferatu rejects most of the typical vampire lore. Irina is also not physically superior to the human candidates by some unreachable degree. She is better, since she can nearly keep up—despite an utter lack of any prior training—with the human candidate who had been working for some time toward becoming the first cosmonaut before becoming her trainer.

Anya, Irina, and Lev
Anya measured Irina's blood pressure, and she can bleed, so I guess she's not undead.

I originally assumed the NotSoviets wanted a vampire cosmonaut because of their inherent survivability or reduced need for life-support systems, but it turns out it has more to do with how vampires are regarded in that world as a sub-human race. Therefore, they are test subjects treated as expendable and useful to a nascent space program sort of the way dogs and monkeys are.

Irina and Anya
She's wearing the muzzle because of racism.

There are some light-novel elements in the series that hold it back to some degree (minor tsundere dishonesty, some jerkface assholes, stuff like that), but nothing that significantly detracts from my overall enjoyment of the show so far. I'm hoping we can avoid a vampires-are-people-too arc, but that's probably inevitable considering our vampire cosmonaut is a 43-kilogram girl who hides vulnerable emotions and not, y'know, Alucard from Hellsing.

Dated 5 October 2021: 86 Eighty Six season 2 two looks promising

Lena
That's still in regs, right?

I'm going to go ahead and say that 86 Eighty Six manages to avoid being bad by being good. There is certainly a "people die when they are killed" logic to this statement, but I guess what I really mean is the series continues to overachieve in comparison with my expectations for it. Much of this is pessimism on my part, because I've heard from the beginning that the source material is good. However, those sorts of claims aren't very reassuring since "good" light novels typically seem to only be good for sufficiently generous definitions of good.

Ernst
Ain't you Shinichi's dad from Detective Conan?

Fortunately, the execution in the case of 86 Eighty Six actually is good. There's basically always something in every episode that's done well enough to be noteworthy, and the story is also sound. The various twists remain unexpected (but are also not total ass pulls) and do keep the series interesting even though much of it sounds pretty cheesy if you're just describing it to someone. Notably, I was already spoiled about a resolution to the previous season's ending because I saw the cover to one of the later light novels, but even knowing that did not ruin the effect provided by the 1st First episode of the 2nd Second cours. I'm looking 4 forward 2 to watching more.

Dated 14 September 2021: I think I like the idea of Bakarina more than I actually enjoy Bakarina now

Catarina
I don't know what these are called either.

I enjoyed the first season of Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijō ni Tensei Shiteshimatta... (My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!) a fair amount, and I enjoy its +X sequel as well, but I'm definitely not as motivated to jump on new episodes when they come out. I'm still caught up, but this season has basically just been okay. Maybe it's because of excessive kidnapping?

Maria
I'm starting to think Maria might be a lesbian.

Really, it's probably because Bakarina is a gimmick-focused show that has basically already accomplished everything I was expecting from it, and now it's just looking for additional reasons to keep going. I like Catarina as a character, but I don't really need the rest of her posse at this point. (There are a lot of characters.) Some of them are basically straphangers.

Atsuko
I don't actually have anything to say about Atsuko.

I get the feeling there is going to be a third season announced at the conclusion of Otome Game no Hametsu Flag Shika Nai Akuyaku Reijō ni Tensei Shiteshimatta... X. I mean, we got a callback to Catarina's old life at the end of the 11th episode of a presumably 12-episode show. I assume there's going to be something involved with that. Something that's not another kidnapping. I'm not implying Hamehura is on the wrong path. There's not really anything I actively dislike about the series, and I'll probably watch a third season if one ends up being announced. If there is a third season, it had better also bring back angela, though.

Dated 13 July 2021: The End of KoiKimo and HigeHiro ~Air/My Purest Love for JKs~

Ryo and Ichika
They're not flirting.

I started the Spring 2021 season with an entry covering both Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love or KoiKimo) and Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (I Shaved. Then I Brought a High School Girl Home. or HigeHiro), so I guess I should have a post wrapping them up as well. I found KoiKimo to be a better series, perhaps because of its straightforward story. It also helps that KoiKimo leaves Ichika in control of her fate. It is ultimately Ichika's decision whether her relationship with Ryo will advance or not.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

Sayu does not have this luxury in HigeHiro. Maybe it's disingenuous to claim HigeHiro is about Yoshida "looking for something attractive to save" (my apologies to Liz Phair), but replace Yoshida's name here with "the audience's surrogate," and maybe it's not far off the mark. KoiKimo and HigeHiro both ended up where I expected, but Sayu had much less say over the path she took to get there.

Ryo and Ichika
Making the end credits look more like the manga art was a nice touch.

In contrast, KoiKimo is an honest romance. There is no real mystery whether Ichika and Ryo will actually end up together or not, even though KoiKimo does introduce rival love interests for both leads. Moreover, the rivals are genuinely more sensible partners from every objective metric. However, the most obvioius impediment—the age gap between Ichika and Ryo—is never depicted as a meaningful obstacle. When it is finally viewed as a problem, its solution is entirely unsurprising.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

The solutions to the challenges presented in HigeHiro are also fairly obvious, but the series insists on pantomiming a number of unconvincing feints. They're unconvincing because Sayu basically has no flaws, and Yoshida clearly feels something for her. He never has a reason to turn her away, and Sayu's rivals for Yoshida's attention are dubious love interests who quickly end up supporting Sayu anyway.

Sayu
Relax, Sayu. Wonder Eggs are only 500 yen each.

In fact, Sayu's true adversaries are her lack of self-worth, her family's disinterest in her welfare, and the story's insistence at making Yoshida obtuse. Yoshida's behavior is baffling in HigeHiro, and not just because he denies being attracted to the sexually available high school girl living with him. Yoshida's behavior is baffling because he's willing to accept immediately on faith that Sayu would be better off returning to her home, without ever examining even the slightest bit the reasons why she ran away in the first place. It seems irresponsible to not at least contemplate the myriad awful situations that potentially compel teenagers to leave home and offer sex to strangers just to survive.

Sayu
HigeHiro showed Sayu orgasming on screen.

Of course, the real reason Yoshida never asks is because the story can't let him or the audience know before the narrative is ready. It turns out the unpleasant situation Sayu fled wasn't that bad, but that's the case only because HigeHiro insists on rehabilitating its antagonists immedately after introducing them. This sort of cowardice is a significant weakness of HigeHiro, as it makes its conflicts fairly hollow. The challenges presented in KoiKimo are not intractable either, but at least they don't take on a fraudulent quality.

Ichika
Ichika grew accustomed Ryo's nightly calls without realizing it.

KoiKimo succeeded by being forthright about its romance and committing to it unapologetically. In contrast, HigeHiro (like Yoshida himself) spends basically the entire series maintaining an unconvincing veneer of plausible deniability over whether or not Sayu is an actual love interest. At the risk of attracting accusations of being in favor of age-inappropriate pairings, I'm going to suggest HigeHiro does this to its detriment.

Sayu and Yoshida
They had to put him in a chair watching her sleep
so people wouldn't insist they still fucked.

I suppose I can't speak for its source material, but the anime most certainly portrays Sayu as an eligible partner. Does HigeHiro provide Sayu with agency by having her test Yoshida's resolve each time she propositions him? Or does the series undermine Sayu's agency by presenting these moments solely so Yoshida can continue to rebuff her and showcase his unflagging integrity? I'm not answering this rhetorical, but I think we all know.

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 27 April 2021: Super Cub hits like a truck

Koguma
Relax, kid. You're gonna be all right.

Super Cub is not an isekai (at least not yet), but it does feature an extremely low-key girl discovering a new world. Koguma lives a life of solitude and makes obvious efforts to avoid drawing attention to her young self. However, she does score a used Honda Super Cub for about a hundred bucks, and it starts to change her life. Thematically, there are similarities to the Ah! My Goddess arc where Skuld learns how to ride a bicycle. It's a liberating moment for both of them, when Skuld finally experiences the joy Belldandy already knows, and when Koguma discovers her old boundaries are gone.

Koguma
When you double-ride with anxiety, you never ride alone.

At the risk of spoiling both the first episode of Super Cub and The Wizard of Oz (1939), color similarly bursts onto the screen when Koguma departs her drab old world for her mysterious new future once she successfully kick-starts her Cub's engine for the first time. I wouldn't call the transition subtle, but I know not all viewers caught it during the moment. Through three episodes, Super Cub regularly uses these sort of visuals and audible cues to communicate Koguma's further discoveries. I don't know if the anime will continue to concentrate on this sort of internalized wonder, or if it will transition into a more conventional "girls who really enjoy a specific hobby" show, but I'm eager to go along for the ride—even if the conveyance in question has already killed thrice before.

Dated 20 April 2021: Koikimo is better than Higehiro even though both are missing the same thing

Ichika and Ryo
Stalker distancing.

News that the Spring 2021 anime season would feature TWO shows about adult men paired with high school girls created ripples across the Twitter, but even this mild outrage waned after viewers discovered neither show was as torrid as anticipated. Descriptions of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love, A.K.A. Koikimo) in particular concentrated on elements that ranged from misleading (characterizing its male lead as "a womanizer") to outright untruthful (e.g., calling him "sex-crazed...with a wandering eye for women"). At the risk of stereotyping too much, I suspect more attention should have been paid to the fact that the Koikimo manga is described as josei (i.e., for adult women) instead of seinen (i.e., for adult men who miss fucking teenage girls).

Sayu and Yoshida
I was too bothered by Sayu's lack of luggage to make a Fate/stay night joke.

Curiously, Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway) seemed to attract less pre-season attention than Koikimo, but perhaps its original novels and manga adaption were already known well enough to deflect unwarranted speculation that it was going to be a smutty romp. This, despite its synopsis outright stating that its characters meet when the titular teenage girl, Sayu, offers sex in exchange for a place to stay. Instead, Higehiro is about a man, Yoshida, who insists he is not attracted to the JK crashing at his place. The series begins with Yoshida being rejected by his long-term crush (his boss at work, no less) who claims she is already seeing someone. He is so devastated that he seemingly does not even notice she was CLEARLY LYING.

Gotou
Dude, you're staring.

Higehiro also draws attention to Yoshida's insistence that he is not a "nice guy" for letting Sayu live with him without strings attached (unlike everyone else she has stayed with during her previous six months as a runaway), but rather that the other men she has known are despicable people. Yoshida also repeatedly insists he is not attracted to Sayu because he only likes women with large breasts, but then the show promptly undercuts him by immediately alerting (and repeatedly reminding) the viewer that Sayu's boobs are also comfortably big.

Sayu
Higehiro even quantifies the comparison.

This is where I lose the ability to predict the path Higehiro will take. There is enough fan service and "male gaze" to the anime that we are obviously supposed to see Sayu as a legitimate love interest of Yoshida's, despite (or perhaps because of) his loud denials. But the show also retains the harem elements by keeping the CLEARLY LYING boss lady and deliberately slapdash co-worker near as potential romantic rivals. If I had to guess how this story ends, I would expect Yoshida's support to put Sayu on a path to success before re-uniting the two after a multi-year timeskip apart that has given Sayu time to become a self-sufficient adult with even bigger boobs than ever. Alternatively, we'll get a cop-out non-ending ending, potentially with all four of them living together for contrived reasons.

Ryo
You can tell he's sincere because of the sparkles.

While Higehiro is about a man who denies being attracted to the teenage girl living with him, Koikimo is about a man openly and aggressively wooing a high school girl 10 years his junior. At this point, I think it is necessary to acknowledge the tropes that govern this story's boundaries. Ryo and Ichika meet by chance and a suspension bridge moment sparks his sudden obsession with Ichika, who is coincidentally classmates with Ryo's kid sister, Rio. Fortunately for Ryo, his sister not only approves of his infatuation with her friend, but even volunteers as his wingman to provide opportunities for him to get closer with Ichika.

Ruri, Rio, Ichika, and Satsuki
Rio's anime bed is made of concrete.

Moreover, Ichika's own mother approves of Ryo's courtship, despite Ichika's clear displeasure. It is probably worth pointing out that Ryo has apparently never had to pursue a love interest before. He is not a pick-up artist chasing after fresh prey. Instead, girls and women have thrown themselves at him his entire life (Ichika's and Rio's classmates all unanimously agree Ryo is exceptionally handsome), so this is an entirely new experience for him.

Sayu and Yoshida
Dude, you're staring.

So what are Koikimo and Higehiro both missing? Lust. In the case of Koikimo, Ryo is clearly, genuinely smitten with Ichika, but he is arguably more drawn to her disinterest in him than he is to her physical appearance. Ichika is presented as being fairly unremarkable among her peers, and her own best friend describes her as "normal" (although at least one boy at her school has taken a liking to her). In the case of Higehiro, it takes three episodes of the show loudly signalling that Sayu is comely and sexually available before Yoshida finally admit he finds her attractive. However, his refusal to sleep with her is predicated on a critical, foundational cornerstone to the narrative's integrity, so I don't expect the story can too easily reverse this stance even if the audience comes to think he protests too much.

Ichika and Rio
She is upset because she is pleased.

After four episodes of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui and three episodes of Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou., I enjoy Koikimo more than Higehiro. Neither series is especially realistic (although I could believe Higehiro, despite the melodrama, were it not for the CLEARLY LYING Christmas-cake boss lady and the co-worker who deliberately fucks up her work for Yoshida's attention), but I find Koikimo more amusing. I can't rule out the possibility that I'm simply more enamored of Ichika's seemingly endless barrage of disgusted faces than I am with Sayu's "pretty big for a high school girl" bosom, though.