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Dated 7 June 2022: I can't use Detective Conan as a control anymore

Conan and Sera
Sera, what are you even wearing?

This has been developing for a while now, but the quality of Detective Conan episodes seems to have declined. I haven't examined this closely, but I suspect there are significantly more anime-original episodes now. It's probably also not easy to further advance the ostensible main plot in satisfactory ways given how absurd it is. It's one of those things that works best as an anime setup when left unchallenged.

Amuro
Amuro is in both of these spinoffs.

Disappointingly, there were also a couple of recent Detective Conan spinoffs which are sort of terrible. Meitantei Conan: Keisaku Gakkou Hen (Detective Conan: Wild Police Story) runs in place of regular Detective Conan episodes and features tales of some of the side characters from the main series during their time in the police academy. It's not unwatchable, but it's certainly not good, even as a series intended for small children.

Amuro
This car looks pretty good considering how often it gets fucked up.

Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time ran on its own and consisted of six half-length episodes centered around Amuro. It, like Wild Police Story, is an adaptation of a spin-off manga, but I found its six episodes entirely pointless. I guess they were better than the Wild Police Story episodes, but I can only imagine Amuro has a lot more fans than I realized. Hopefully, it at least made some good people some money.

Dated 17 May 2022: Both Deaimon and SPY x FAMILY are about families

Nagomu and Itsuka
I can't tell if Itsuka is precocious or if Nagomu is just not every smart.

I get the feeling a lot of people on the Twitter avoided Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness because of overblown concerns the 10-year-old would grow up to marry the much older male lead. The manga is still ongoing, so I guess I can't rule out the possibility that this might happen, but I'm at least reasonably confident it hasn't happened (or else someone would have spoiled this by now). There are also other, much more likely love interests, namely Kanoko, Nagomu's girlfriend from the start of the series when he was still living in the city. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and claim straight out that this is a dumb thing to worry about and people should just watch the show.

Mitsuru and Nagomu
I'm not expecting him to fuck the high school girl either, okay.

Because, as it turns out, Deaimon is just sort of nice and well done all around. Through six episodes, it happens to be my highest-rated series of the Spring 2022 anime season (if you put any stock in my animetrics chart) despite not doing anything groundbreaking. Every episode has been consistently good, though, and I appreciate the yet-unresolved absurdity involving the girlfriend from the city. I'm more invested in that looming confrontation than the inevitable one involving poor Itsuka's shitty father. That's probably not the way I'm supposed to regard the main plot, but it is how it is.

Yor, Anya, and Loid
That's a nice floor.

As with Deaimon, SPY x FAMILY has also got that found-family thing going on, but y'all probably already know this because the series and the manga it's adapted from are both popular. Basically, if you're not watching SPY x FAMILY already, you probably should be. I won't claim it's an exceptional anime, but it does do all the things you'd want it to do, and it does them really well. I've read enough of the manga to feel confident both of the planned split cours of the anime will remain entertaining, even though I'm not looking forward to Yor's brother showing up.

Dated 19 April 2022: Aharen-san wa Hakarenai is off to a good start; Kono Healer, Mendokusai, not so much

Reina and Matsuboshi
Aharen-san is small.

Aharen-san wa Hakarenai (Aharen Is Indecipherable) is about Reina, a weird girl with KCY, and her classmate who is undaunted in his determination to be her friend despite constantly finding her perplexing. The anime works surprisingly well as a comedy that relies heavily on visual gags. Critically, the comic timing is deft, so the show is consistently funny. This is a harder thing to succeed at than I think many people appreciate, so I'm pleased it's doing so well.

Matsuboshi and Reina
And she does not adhere to conventional notions about personal space.

This is not to say that Aharen-san does not occasionally stumble. I'm not a huge fan of the girl who is constantly sort of hovering protectively around Reina. It's not a deal breaker, but her frequent anxiety attacks do less for the show than the other gags. However, even at its worst, Aharen Is Indecipherable has been much funnier than Kono Healer, Mendokusai (Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer!) which I wanted to like, but...man.

Karla
I was also expecting her voice to be deadpan.

Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer! (alternatively This Healer is Annoying or This Healer's a Handful) seemed like it could be funny, based on what little of the manga I had read. Unfortunately, it turns out the dread I felt ever since I watched its first PV was justified. It's one of "those" awful anime comedies that thinks drawing out reactions is funnier than it actually is. I dunno, maybe those types of jokes really work for some viewers, but I dropped it after watching one episode. I might revisit the manga, though.

Dated 29 March 2022: Ranking of Kings disappointed me

Kage and Bojji
More of this would have been better.

I am going to caveat this by acknowledging first of all that Ousama Ranking (Ranking of Kings) was never actually capital-B Bad. However, I am hard pressed to identify another show with greater distance between how much I enjoyed it at the beginning and how disinterested I was by the end. I'm sort of appalled, to tell you the truth. Anime War Crime Tribunal provides a spoiler-heavy examination that covers basically every issue I had with the series, although I'm more negative about the problems overall.

Dorsche and Hiling
He's not going to be big enough for her.

I feel as if I must be overlooking shows that genuinely collapsed, but I suspect those examples that escape me at the moment likely showed less initial promise. Ousama Ranking, at a minimum, had a solid start (that admittedly started declining towards the end of its first cours). I did already mention that I was sick of all the fighting. Well, it went on like that during the second cours, but then the monkey's paw curled, the fighting stopped, and it got even worse. As I understand it, the source manga is still running, so maybe the story gets good again. The very end of the final anime episode did open the door for that possibility, but I'm in no hurry to revisit Ranking of Kings in any capacity for the time being.

Dated 7 September 2021: Kanojo mo Kanojo is a great show because it is preposterous

Nagisa, Naoya, and Saki
It's a pragmatic solution. Don't just dismiss it out of hand.

Not having a whole lot else to watch from the Summer 2021 anime season, I decided to give Kanojo mo Kanojo (Girlfriend, Girlfriend) a try on a goof. It turns out it's sort of fantastic. I initially assumed it was going to another one of those dreary harem comedies with a loathsome male protagonist surrounded by multiple girls who are entirely out of his league and yet inexplicably attracted to him. Or that it was going to be on of those dreary harem comedies where Potato-kun is actually sort of an all right dude, but is inexplicably incapable of noticing that every girl he comes into contact with keeps throwing her panties at him. It turns out Kanojo mo Kanojo is neither of those things. Rather, it's got some manner of Möbius strip horseshoe theory thing going on where all the environmental factors and character decisions that should be working to the show's detriment end up making it better.

Naoya and Nagisa
Busted.

It's no accident Kanojo mo Kanojo is working out this way. The recurring focus of the show's various dilemmas is on an unending series of incorruptibly honest decisions to pursue uncompromising choices that should result in self-destructive consequences by any reasonable objective standard. And yet it all continues to work out. I can't vouch for the manga source material, but the anime embraces the absurdity of its premise and absolutely succeeds in its execution.

Naoya and Saki
Never gonna happen.

Significantly, there is no hint of melodrama. That is something Girlfriend, Girlfriend really cannot afford. If Kanojo mo Kanojo ever decides to examine the consequences and societal frictions associated with polyamorous relationships, or attempts to position the various love interests against each other from hostile postures of envy or jealousy, it will do so at its peril. There had also better not be any of that typical harem comedy bullshit where a series gets its viewers to root for one of the girls to "win." (If it does, the erstwhile winner will probably be First Girl Childhood Friend, even though she has nothing in her favor compared to her rivals except for her hair.)

Rika, Naoya, Nagisa, and Saki
Busted.

Even though I only started watching Girlfriend, Girlfriend a short while ago, it did not take long before I caught up. There are currently 10 episodes out so far and only two to go. Since the source manga still seems to be running (I think eight volumes are out), a non-ending ending to the anime is probably basically guaranteed. I don't know how far Kanojo mo Kanojo can take its premise without getting derailed, but I would be in favor of additional seasons if it can keep up the show's high-intensity, relentless pace episode after episode without running out of steam.

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 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.

Dated 8 December 2020: Golden Kamuy is the best show of the season

Sugimoto
Sugimoto embarks on another culinary adventure.

I probably don't mention Golden Kamuy enough, considering how good it is. Its third season is easily the best show from the Autumn 2020 anime season, at least among the 20-ish titles I've sampled. (Really, it's more like the third split cours of a continuous narrative than a third "season" necessarily.)

Asirpa
I hope y'all are also taking measurements and not just copying by eye.

Launching into the Golden Kamuy anime from its starting point involves crashing headlong into some really janky 3DCG work in the first season, but the show itself is excellent. The anime's episode count is still only in the low thirties, so it's not a huge commitment for anyone curious about getting into it for the first time.

Hijikata and Ushiyama
Hijikata is the strongest swordsman because he carries a rifle.

Of course, the other option is to just read the source manga instead. The 19th volume of the official English language release comes out this month. However, the manga is still ongoing with new chapters appearing weekly. I've heard the fan translations are quite good and provide well-researched contextual notes. Personally, I've been sticking with the official releases, so I'm quite a bit behind when it comes to the manga, but at least I'm caught up with the anime.