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Dated 20 February 2024: I've got 99 Levels but a Maou ain't one

Level 99 art by nyoro
https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/115972798
by nyoro

< garamir> In that scene, she's blowing a monster-summoning horn to help her classmates level up. Nobody appreciates her help in this matter.
< garamir> Since she's a gamer, she power leveled her whole life and is now level 99. So her training method of "don't use safety equipment, grind dungeons solo, just heal your arm if it gets chopped off and don't be a baby about it" is not common.

I started watching Akuyaku Reijou Level 99: Watashi wa Ura-Boss desu ga Maou dewa Arimasen (Villainess Level 99: I May Be the Hidden Boss but I'm Not the Demon Lord) because of the above fan art and subsequent explanation to my inquiry about it. Also, because I remembered the show stars a character named Dolkness, which is simply an incredible anime name. Okay, maybe as far as outrageous anime names go, perhaps Dolkness is not on par with something top-tier such as Chateau Dankworth, but it's still amazing. More importantly, Dolkness is attached to a show that I enjoy watching—something that can't be said of Chateau Dankworth's Koroshi Ai (Love of Kill).

Alicia
The hero is late because she helped a stranger. Never help strangers.

I, for one, can't get enough of her Dolknessness. If I have any complaints at all, it's that Yumiella's internal voice doesn't sound like Power from Chainsaw Man. There's no reason why it should, but I'm amused that the possibility exists since she's voiced by Fairouz Ai. It's too bad that it would not match her character's personality. Most of the time, Yumiella is fairly laid back and generally doesn't get particularly excited. Her monotone way of speaking and her dead eyes are by no means unique traits, but I'm at least not tired of this gimmick yet.

Yumiella
Thigh gap.

I guess this means the various villainess-themed stories remain the last variant of isekai nonsense for which I still have any sort of appetite. I can't claim I like villainess-type isekai anime, but I do seem to end up watching a lot of them. This is not to say Akuyaku Reijou Level 99 is an underappreciated gem that I discovered late this season. (Cf. BanG Dream! It's MyGO!!!!! from Summer 2023.) Dolknessness ~The Animation~ is all right, but it's probably not going to surprise anyone who's already developed some sort of sense as to what it's going to be like.

Dated 5 December 2023: I'm not as interested in The Ancient Magus’ Bride as I used to be

Morrigan and Chise
On the plus side, Ayako Doctrine invoked.

I've been buying the Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus’ Bride) manga for more than eight years. When I started, I didn't really think about how long I'd be reading it, let along buying it, but I do have volume 19 pre-ordered. I still enjoy it, but it's no surprise the story has evolved over that time. And when I say it has evolved, I mean it gained a magic school arc. This is also the focus of Mahoutsukai no Yome SEASON 2 Part 2, currently airing now. Seeing as how Chise is still a teenager, it does make sense to end her prolonged truancy. It's also providing more opportunities for her to interact with humans her age.

Philomela and Chise
How you feel about Philomela will influence how you feel about the magic school arc.

Unfortunately, I—as the reader and viewer observing Chise's life of sorcery and mystical weirdness—don't care so much about the other humans her age. I mean, they're fine. A lot of them have had shitty lives, and some of them have exasperating hangups, as one might expect of humans in general and human teenagers in particular, but I don't find the sources of these tensions quite as engaging as one might expect. So yeah, I'm still watching the anime, and I'm still buying the manga, and I'm even still enjoying them both, but I do sometimes wish I could see what Silky has been up to instead.

Dated 30 May 2023: The Ancient Magus Bride is a better manga than it is an anime

Chise
I can't see a green chav suit without thinking of Squid Game.

I can't identify anything I think the Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus Bride) anime is doing wrong necessarily, but I don't enjoy it as much as I like the manga. On the surface at least, the anime is great. It looks beautiful. The casting and voice acting are both spot on. The production values in general are high. And yet I mostly only find the overall experience simply okay. Does that mean the direction is at fault for not optimizing the presentation of all these elements? I dunno. I still like watching it, but it doesn't astound me, and maybe I'm just griping because I feel as if it ought to.

Lucy and Chise
This is not Yuru Camp△.

As far as the currently airing second season goes, I suppose I'm naturally disinclined to be interested in its subject matter. Specifically, it is about Chise going to magic school. Aside from a few notable exceptions, I'm generally not enthused about magic schools as a setting. And taking someone out of an environment that was already interesting as a starting point, and then placing her in a magic school—well, that is objectively a step down. Nevertheless, I still find myself enjoying the corresponding manga arc despite my misgivings. In any case, the magic school setting is not exclusively why I'm never in a huge hurry to watch the latest episode of Mahoutsukai no Yome Season 2, but I can't rule it out as a contributing factor.

Dated 2 May 2023: I like the Megumin anime, but it's not a great show

Yunyun, Megumin, and Chomusuke
The presence of Chomusuke is also underexplained.

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Bakuen wo! (Konosuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World!) is a prequel about Megumin's magic school days before she met Kazuma and the rest of the regular Konosuba! cast. There is a lot of good stuff in it, and I enjoy watching it, but it's not really a great show on its own. Specifically, there doesn't seem to much of a narrative, and the various plot lines come across as sort of disjointed. Basically, random events happen, sometimes centering on side characters with no meaningful ties to Megumin, and it's all "fine," but it doesn't result in an especially satisfying anime.

Megumin
It's weird more Crimson Demons don't adhere to Megumin's views on Explosion Magic.

Now, I did say there's good stuff in Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Bakuen wo! that I like. Megumin herself is great. She's an overachiever in a society that not only sincerely values style over substance, it encourages its members to engage in the deepest chuuni bullshit. I love me some Megumin. However, the closest thing An Explosion on This Wonderful World! has to character arcs involve her relationship with the Yunyun. Within Konosuba! proper, Yunyun mostly serves as the punchline to cruel jokes about her lack of friends. However the deeper the prequel establishes Yunyun's ties with Megumin, the less funny her poor treatment becomes.

Yunyun
If you humanize Yunyun, we'll feel bad for her.

In fact, I'm starting to feel as if Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Bakuen wo! would have been better off pulling a bait-and-switch on the audience. Get all of us on board by making us think that it's going to be a Megumin anime, but then portray the entire series from Yunyun's point of view while minimizing their interactions. That's obviously not practical for a number of reasons, not least of which is because Explosion Magic Is Best Magic ~The Animation~ is an adaptation of a spin-off light novel and presumably adheres to established source material. I don't know how straightforward the adaptation is, but it would explain the structural issues I have with the anime if it turns out it's skipping beats from the books.

Dated 7 March 2023: I started watching Let's Play Otome Games ~The Animation~

Lieselotte and Siegwald
She's so happy to see him.

I don't think I would normally watch Tsundere Akuyaku Reijou Liselotte to Jikkyou no Endou-kun to Kaisetsu no Kobayashi-san (Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte), but here we are. It's all right. Through four episodes, I would not exactly call it a must-watch anime, but I appreciate it at least features an original idea. Well, original enough that I don't recall having encountered anything quite like it before. The basic premise involves a couple of classmates who discover that a character in a video game is able to hear and respond to their voices. Instead of examining this phenomenon to better understand the scientific, theological, psychological, or mystical implications, they use this ability to shape the video game's story in hopes of preventing a beloved character's death.

Endou and Kobayashi
These two spend a lot of time alone together.

The titular Endou and Kobayashi from Tsundere Akuyaku Reijou Liselotte to Jikkyou no Endou-kun to Kaisetsu no Kobayashi-san do so well by the second episode that it seems all but certain some crazy plot twists must await me. Indeed, the fourth episode ends on a cliffhanger, and there's at least one likely antagonist who has made only occasional brief cryptic cameos thus far. I'm not really expecting much from this series, but I presume there will be some light romance that doesn't advance very far between the two players as they try to maneuver the video game prince into position to bend his betrothed over a, well, not a kotatsu—that would be an anachronism, but perhaps over some suitably fancy and exorbitantly expensive piece of antique furniture, thereby unlocking a sex scene the incorporates at least one desu wa during Lieselotte's throes of passion. It could happen.

Dated 14 February 2023: I'm still watching season two of Maou-kun Goes to Maou High School

Sasha
Of course she has mystic eyes.

I don't have a compelling reason to still be watching Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha: Shijou Saikyou no Maou no Shiso, Tensei shite Shison-tachi no Gakkou e Kayou II (The Misfit of Demon King Academy 2nd Season), but I also don't have a reason to stop. There's not exactly a shortage of shows about overpowered characters easily crushing those who oppose them, but I don't feel as though I watch a lot of those, and I'm pretty sure I watch even fewer where the lead is so smug about it. (Overlord fits the former, but Momonga's anxiety rules out the latter.)

Eleanor, Sasha, and Anos
Eleanor and Sasha both have good hair.

I liked the first season well enough. There were a number of twists I enjoyed, and the story focused on developing a manageable number of characters in interesting ways. Here in the second season, a lot of episodes seem to include strap hangers who are mostly just serving as an entourage following Anos (Maou-kun) around as he continues untangling the various mysteries surrounding the two thousand years he's been out of action, but it's still okay. I would personally prefer more Sasha stories, or an arc or two centered around Maou-kun's parents, but it's fine either way.

[Update: I forgot to mention Anos was re-cast between seasons.]

Dated 21 June 2022: Mahoutsukai Reimeiki is not as good as Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho

Zero
I would later watch Toji no Miko because of the character designer.

I guess I never wrote a proper blog entry for Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho (Grimoire of Zero) from the Spring 2017 anime season. It was all right. I liked Miss Not Shimakaze, and I was able to pad my list of anime about loving books. Consequently, when I learned this season's Mahoutsukai Reimeiki (The Dawn of the Witch) was a spin-off with sequel-type continuity, I figured it was worth giving a try.

Roux and Sable
She's standing on a chair because she's short.

Well, it's not great. I can't even blame it all on Potato-kun, even though the series made him as dull as possible. The show is just not very good, and I'm not interested in any of the characters—not even the returning ones who I liked in Grimoire of Zero. I'm already 10 episodes into it, so I'll still finish it out. Somehow, I'm still disappointed despite never having high hopes in the first place.

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.