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Dated 18 June 2018: Previewing new shows for Summer 2018

Yuki
Maybe she has PE first period?

After two strong anime seasons, I'm mostly ambivalent about the upcoming Summer 2018 season. The shows I'm most interested in (Overlord III, Major 2nd, and Hugtto! Precure) are all either sequels or continuations of existing shows. Thanks to the sheer volume of anime that comes out each season now, I'm sure I'll find plenty of acceptably amusing titles to watch, but I'm otherwise merely mildly optimistic about the synopses I've read and the PVs I've watched.

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Dated 7 May 2018: There's more to Golden Kamuy than 3DCG bears

Asirpa and Sugimoto
At least the smaller animals are 2D, even when they're delicious.

Golden Kamuy was one of the Spring 2018 shows I was looking forward to the most. It stumbled a bit out the gate when the first episode's infamously out-of-place looking 3DCG animals dominated most of the show's initial discussion. That this got the most attention is a bit of a shame, because Golden Kamuy has a lot going for it. Notably, the manga is good enough that a few misses in the anime adaptation are not going to be enough to ruin it. I didn't watch the all-3DCG Berserk, but the problems facing Golden Kamuy here are by no means as severe. It's not as if the entire show is 3DCG—just the larger animals when they appear.

Asirpa
Golden Kamuy is also about Asirpa looking displeased.

Seeing as how the show isn't actually about bears, 3DCG or otherwise, it's pretty good most of the time. Well, that's assuming you have an appetite for the horrors of war, collecting the skins of dead convicts, brutal violence, Japanese history, Ainu cultural lessons, and delicious meals made with freshly killed game. I suppose I'm not fully prepared to resist arguments that anyone interested should just read the manga instead, but I do believe the anime adds bits worth appreciating separately. I suggest watching the anime first before turning to the start of the manga. The way I see it, the anime will inevitably finish far short of the still ongoing manga's current position, and you'll probably want to read it anyway.

Dated 19 March 2018: Overlord II and Dagashi Kashi 2 have something in common

Momonga
Sure seems as if Momonga has spent a lot of his screen time this season sitting.

Both Overlord II and Dagashi Kashi 2 feature a lot fewer scenes of some of its main characters than I was expecting. In the case of Overlord II, it seems the vast majority of this sequel's screen time is devoted to minor returning goofballs or entirely new characters who mostly serve to expand the worldbuilding aspects of the story, albeit at the sacrifice of characters from the first season who I was hoping to see more of again. Not that Lizard Man politics and alliances are not interesting in their own right, or that I'm not engaged by old man good guy combat butler Sebas Tian picking up a teenage girlfriend who can reportedly almost cook palatable meals...but this wasn't at all what I was expecting from a second season of Overlord.

Zaryusu and Crusch
I admit I am amused by the albino Lizard Man lady who can't be in direct sun.

Based on other reports I've seen, the source material for Overlord does seem rather detailed and intricate enough to make me think its probably a lot better than other fantasy light novels. At a minimum, it doesn't appear as if the author is at all half-assing the writing, so perhaps the books are good enough to be regarded as regular fantasy novels and don't deserve the stigma I reflexively assign to most (but not all) "light" novels. The Overlord books have actually been licensed, and at least six English-language volumes are out already, so I guess I could give them a try. Hopefully they feature adequate amounts of Momonga doing Momonga-type things and aren't, like, wall-to-wall Lizard Man politics.

Kokonotsu and Hajime
Another Millennial desperate for an unpaid internship.

Dagashi Kashi 2, like Overlord II, has fewer appearances by its putative main character than I was expecting, but it also differs from its first season in few other ways. For one thing, it's a shorter, half-length show this season. The character designs are also a bit different, but I don't really have an opinion about this change because the voices are still the same. Hotaru's absence from a significant part of the season was unexpected, though. It's a sensible departure, in that it opens up space to develop the new character who temporarily fills Hotaru's role as the resident nutjob, but I'm not sure I'm totally okay with the lack of Hotaruness this season. Sadly, it also seems the original manga is ending soon. This Hotaru-free future seems less than ideal.

Dated 27 February 2018: The Ancient Magus' Bride? Still good

Redcurrant and Chise
I really liked this arc, but it was less visually jarring in the manga.

Two-thirds of the way through the second cours of Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride), the show is about as good as it was during the first cours. That said, the Autumn 2017 half finished as my top show of the season, while the Winter 2018 half looks as if it will finish fifth. This, though, results from the appearance of four outstanding shows in what is turning out to be a very strong season of anime. Meanwhile, episode 20 of The Ancient Magus' Bride also takes us past volume seven of the manga. That is, finally further than what I've read of the source material. With that, I think I'm finally able to view the anime for the first time the way someone coming to it fresh might see it.

Silky, Ruth, and Elias
Anime Silky is pretty great, though.

To be honest, it sort of reaffirms my nagging suspicions that The Ancient Magus' Bride works better as a manga than it does as an anime. I don't believe this is the fault of the WIT STUDIO adaptation, because it is beautifully done and the quality has remained high throughout. Instead, I suspect the stories featured in the series might just lend themselves better to print than anime. The occasional transitions to comic SD-style bits also work better for me in manga form than animated. Ultimately, I'm still glad the series received an anime adaptation and I'm pleased it has turned out as good as it has, but I'm left wondering if a television series was the best vehicle for it. I suspect, in hindsight, that a series of OVAs like its prequels would have been a better format. Thus, assuming the manga continues to run for some time, I hope we'll continue to receive further installments of the anime in time as OVAs or movies after the television series is over.

Dated 9 October 2017: The Ancient Magus' Bride reminds us that fairies are assholes

Chise
Arguably worse than mosquitoes.

The long-awaited anime adaptation of Mahō Tsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride) is really here. Based on the first episode, Wit Studio is faithfully reproducing the look and feel of the magic realm (well, England, actually) where 15-year-old Chise finds herself. Although it's probably unrealistic to expect the standard set in the three prequel OVAs and the first episode to persist throughout the next two cours, I'm fairly confident Wit will be able to do the series justice. It's a gorgeous manga, so expectations for the anime are quite high. No pressure.

Chise
It's been a long day.

Despite the title, Mahoutsukai no Yome isn't really about a child bride, although the opening minutes of the anime (and the opening pages of the manga) are meant to invoke some troubling impressions. There are dark undercurrents in the series, but they're offset for the most part by the magic and splendor of the story and setting. I'm seven volumes deep into the English-language releases by Seven Seas Entertainment, so I've got a general idea where the anime is going to go. I'm still a bit uncertain how to promote it, since this isn't a title that relies on tremendous highs or emotional whirlwinds to keep readers interested. I suspect some of the complaints I saw about the OVAs' pacing will apply to the TV series as well, at least among some viewers. I'm by no means suggesting The Ancient Magus' Bride is for everyone, but it definitely deserves investigating for at least an episode or two. At a minimum, it's a stark rebuttal to the typical complaints people have about "anime these days."

Dated 26 June 2017: I think I would like Atom: The Beginning more if it did not start at the beginning

A106
Well, it makes sense given that it's the sixth of the "A Ten" series.

I feel as if I should enjoy Atom: The Beginning more as a matter of general principle. After all, it has such highly influential and historically important roots that I feel compelled to watch it regardless of its merits. Never mind that I'm only passably familiar with the original content, and have basically watched or read none of it. It's a backwards approach to things, to be sure. Nevertheless, Atom: The Beginning is airing now (well, soon ending now at this point), and getting into the franchise out of order seems okay since it's a prequel.

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Dated 7 November 2016: I wonder if people are arguing over whether or not Nyanbo! is anime

Shiro and Kotora
Wait. They're basically standing in a giant toilet.

Nyanbo! is sort of anime, and sort of Yotsuba&!, but sort of neither. Specifically, it's CGI boxes who are cats integrated into real-world settings, sometimes with real cats, and sometimes with real boxes. Either way, it's an amusing short with some neat visual gags. It also has Horie Yui and Kugimiya Rie voicing boxes who are cats. Or are they cats who are boxes? I'm not really sure. Romi Park is in this too, so it's basically Fullmetal Alchemist except with boxes who are cats. And because Sanpei Yuko and Takeuchi Junko are also in it, it's also sort of Yes! Pretty Cure 5 as well.

Sabatora and Kitijora
Technically, Nyanbo! is also an idol anime.

In either case, it's totally worth your time if you care at all about photography, cats, or boxes. Because of the characters' scale, nearly every shot involves high-resolution close-ups of neat-looking things and places. It's not quite macro photography, but the show looks great. It's definitely worth watching the 1080 version over the lower-resolution choices. The cats who are boxes who are cats also yammer back and forth and have amusing little adventures. Do you need any more from a five-minute short?

Dated 7 September 2016: Amaama to Inazuma has a lot of sweetness but basically no lightning

Kotori
Kotori doing something domestic again.

Cooking shows aren't exactly a rarity in anime, but Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness and Lightning) is unique in its slower pace and fairly unremarkable recipes. Rather than the usual over-the-top incredulous reactions to newly discovered flavors, Amaama to Inazuma focuses instead on the simple pleasure of preparing food and eating together. This, it does extremely well, and it's very satisfying watching the characters learning how to cook for each other. (Although it still bugs me they never wash their hands first.) However, there is an elephant in the room: the looming potential romance between teenage Kotori and her teacher, Kouhei, a recent widower. Nevertheless, through nine episodes, there has been no hint of any such subplot, so it's possible no such romance ever develops.

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