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Dated 17 June 2019: Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai is no B Gata H Kei

Ao
What does it mean if her pupils turn into hearts?

As I wrote earlier, I started watching Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (Ao-chan Can't Study!) by accident. I've dropped Boku-tachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai (We Never Learn: BOKUBEN), but I'm still watching Ao-chan. It's all right, but not great. Although the episodes are half-length, the story has advanced far enough that its titular character has fully accepted that she very much wants her crush to put the wood to her. Naturally, he's too much of a pure-pure boy to do anything about it, despite the wildly off-base reputation Ao-chan had associated with him, and despite her increasingly open advances. I don't know what happens in the manga, but it seems all but assured that anime-type Ao will fail in her attempts at having the sex.

Ao
Wait, then what does it mean if her pupils turn into Debian?

B Gata H Kei (Yamada's First Time) similarly features a sexually frustrated girl who can't seem to get laid despite her best efforts. There are important differences between B Gata H Kei and Midara na Ao-chan wa Benkyou ga Dekinai, though. Notably, actual chemistry develops between Yamada and Kosuda; I'm not really buying Ao's relationship with Takumi. Kosuda and Takumi both seem like reasonably fine fellows, and Ao does seem several degrees less insane than Yamada, but I like Yamada and Kosuda quite a bit more than Ao and Takumi, both as individuals and as couples. B Gata H Kei also has a supporting cast that adds to the story. Usually I find that if a show is going to go wrong with its supporting characters, it fails by adding too many of them. Ao-chan Can't Study! somehow doesn't have enough of them, or at least doesn't have any that improve the series at all. They're basically dead weight.

Kosuda and Yamada
Does it mean she's open for sourcing?

I guess B Gata H Kei has the advantage of having twice the run time, relative to Ao-chan's half-length episodes. Oddly, it's the former that's based on a 4-koma comic strip, while the latter is sourced from a regular manga series. The Ao-chan anime does still have the opportunity to turn things around, depending on how its ending goes. The, uh, climax to B Gata H Kei anime does not, um, perform quite as well as the comic's. It probably could use an OVA, although I suspect this is going to end up being true of both shows.

Dated 27 May 2019: I probably would have stopped watching Fruits Basket by now if it weren't Fruits Basket

Tohru
Death to those who make Honda Tohru cry.

I am enjoying the new Fruits Basket anime mostly as a matter of general principle. It's well done, and hits all the right marks that I think it ought to, but I'm frankly not especially into it. Somewhat appropriately, this is how I felt about the first Fruits Basket anime as well. I don't even remember exactly when I watched it, but I do know it was several years after it aired and already regarded as a classic. Despite going in without knowing anything about the story, I did enjoy the 2001 Fruits Basket, no small part due to being a Horie Yui fan. In fact, I even bought the DVDs in 2009 (although I haven't re-watched the show). Still, even though I thought the show was quite good, it still wasn't the sort of show I typically watch, so I wasn't quite as invested in it as its more ardent fans tend to be.

Tohru
Not counting her mom, who is already dead.

This is pretty much how I feel about the 2019 Fruits Basket anime. Iwami Manaka is also very convincing as Honda Tohru, which is pretty important because Tohru is basically one of the all-time sweetest and nicest girls in the world. Nevertheless, I'm not particularly into the show itself, even though I intend to watch both cours (assuming it also runs 20-something episodes like the 2001 anime). Notably, there's a lot I don't remember about Fruits Basket now, so these 2019 episodes feel quite new to me. Since I haven't read the manga, I have no idea if this phenomenon is because one or both of the anime deviated from the original story, or if they're both faithful adaptations and I've simply forgotten nearly everything from the first anime. I mean, I have, but I'd expect some recollections to return by seeing newly adapted scenes of the same thing again now. In any case, both the 2001 and the 2019 Fruits Basket adaptations occupy that curious position where I'm willing to recommend them, despite being neither deeply enthusiastic about either anime nor knowledgeable in any capacity when it comes to the source material.

Dated 15 April 2019: I'm watching two baseball anime this season

Touma and Souichirou
Touma is shorter and has messier hair.

The Spring 2019 anime season features Mix: Meisei Story and Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine, two fairly different baseball anime. The former is an adaptation of a still-running Adachi Mitsuru manga and an apparent sequel set 30 years after one of his classics, Touch. Although I've only read the first few chapters of Mix, I have read Touch as well as a number of other Adachi titles. I also watched Cross Game, so I'm reasonably confident that Mix is basically guaranteed to be good, although I imagine newcomers to Adachi's work may wonder why everyone has the same face. I'm also counting on at least one tragic character death. Hey, baseball is a cruel sport, okay. I don't know how long the Mix anime is expected to run, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up lasting all year.

Ukita
TWO HANDS!

Unlike Mix, where baseball has been a part of the characters' lives for a long time, Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine features mostly neophytes, at least in terms of skill level. It also features a meek, somewhat clumsy girl in an animal-ears hoodie whose initial defining characteristic was anxiety. I was prepared to loathe her on general principle, but I suppose it's a credit to Cinderella Nine that I pretty much regard her as at least "okay" now after two episodes. The show does feel like yet another show where a bunch of girls are all really into something that girls stereotypically don't care so much about, but there are quite a few shows in that vein that still turn out to be very good, so I'm willing to give Cinderella Nine the benefit of the doubt. I'm not expecting it to be anywhere near as good as Taisho Yakyuu Musume or Princess Nine, but I'm hopeful the baseball itself will be better in Cinderella Nine than it was in Princess Nine. (See this earlier post for more on that.)

Dated 8 April 2019: Anime characters sure love hugging the P90

Henrietta
It's because its blocky shape makes it easier to embrace than other guns.

I guess this is a follow up to my recent post, "In praise of the oldest star in Gunslinger Girl." There, I linked to a couple pictures of anime characters hugging their FN P90 submachine guns (Iriya from Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu, and LLENN from Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online). Naturally, Henrietta also does this in the first episode of Gunslinger Girl, as depicted above, after going aggro with it against some chumps who totally had it coming, probably.

FN P90
Rounds in the translucent magazine make a 90-degree turn before entering the chamber.

I believe Henrietta's P90 is the most modern firearm to appear in Gunslinger Girl. It was only about 10 years old when the manga began in 2002, and is quite a contrast to Triela's 19th-century shotgun. Its distinctive appearance probably also accounts for its popularity in various anime, Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online being a notable example. I can't rule out the possibility that some LLENN fan bought herself an FN PS90, cut down the barrel after getting an NFA tax stamp, and painted it pink for questionable cosplay purposes.

Clarence and LLENN
This was a pretty good deal for both parties.

Incidentally, I was somewhat surprised a minor character in SAO GGO carried an AR57, which is basically an AR-15 upper designed to accept P90 magazines on top and eject out what is usually the magazine well of the lower receiver. But I'm most impressed that Kirito never showed up in GGO for some bullshit ammo exchange contrivance, since Kirito's FN Five-seveN is pretty much the only other firearm that shares ammo with LLENN's dear P-chan. Kirito's total absence definitely improved Gun Gale Online as an anime.

Dated 11 March 2019: In praise of the oldest star in Gunslinger Girl

Triela
I'm impressed Triela didn't get any blood on her.

I've written a fair amount about Gunslinger Girl, but haven't mentioned much about the firearms themselves. The first gun to appear in the show (outside of the OP) is Triela's shotgun, a Winchester Model 1897 Trench Gun with its big ass 17-inch M1917 bayonet fixed. I believe this is also the oldest firearm to appear in the anime. As its name suggests, this is literally a 19th-century design which Winchester started selling in 1897 (although it remained in production until 1957). In contrast, the primary weapon of the show's ostensible lead, Henrietta, is an ever popular FN P90, which was barely more than 10 years old when the manga began publication in 2002. Triela's M1897 is also the only shotgun in the first cours, but I don't remember it featuring in particularly many scenes. The old Winchester gets a lot more attention in the sequel, Gunslinger Girl -Il Teatrino-. (And occasionally appears in fanart.)

M1897 action
The action can git ya if you're careless while racking the slide back.

Prices of the World War I-era M1897 Trench Guns have risen quite a bit as of late, probably at least partially because of The Great War's centennial and maybe because of the shotgun's inclusion in popular media such as Gunslinger Girl itself and the Battlefield video games. For example, a "very fine" Model 1897 sold for $8625 in December 2018. I am somewhat amused that Gunslinger Girl features a firearm from the 19th century when basically every other gun in the series is from the Cold War or newer. I have to assume the original mangaka, Aida Yu, just really liked it. That's totally understandable, at least.

Dated 18 February 2019: You bet I'm watching Kakegurui xx

Mushigami
You really should have researched your opponents at least a little bit first.

I'm pretty stoked Kakegurui received a second cours. Like the anime's first season, it's a fairly straightforward adaptation of the manga. As you might expect, the visuals are not quite as detailed as in the manga, but the show does benefit from a good deal of scenery chewing by the voice cast. Although the manga is a tough act to follow, the anime is still quite striking. Naturally, regardless of the medium, the absurd gambling-obsessed school and the ridiculous stakes at risk remain quite entertaining.

Yumeko
Tone it down just a little bit, Yumeko.

There are eight volumes of the English-language licensed manga out so far. The printed volumes themselves are a little larger than usual, as with the Golden Kamuy and the Tales of Wedding Rings books. Accordingly, they are a little more expensive, but still worth it to me. The Mary-centric spin-off manga is also licensed, incidentally. I haven't been reading that one, but I'll probably start. After all, Mary is Best Girl.

Dated 4 February 2019: Yakusoku no Neverland is going to produce this season's Queen of Cardio

Emma
Emma has some hair.

I wasn't planning on watching Yakusoku no Neverland (The Promised Neverland), but the Anime War Crimes Tribunal guy thought it was good, and it does have that noitaminA credibility (such as it is) attached to it, so I figured I'd give it a try. Through four episodes, it's all right, and benefits from its mostly serious subject matter and mysterious setting. Neverland is based on an ongoing manga that already has 12 volumes, though, so spoilers are plenty available, and it's just a matter of time before I stumble upon one accidentally, I'm sure. I assume this also means the anime will end without any real conclusion, unless the manga happens to have discrete stopping points.

Sister Krone
Oh, I like her.

Honestly, I don't think Yakusoku no Neverland is quite as clever as I think it wants to be, but it is at least refreshing to see non-idiot anime children think their way out of a jam. All the older kids with prominent roles are fairly precocious, and while we're not talking Ender's Game levels of genius, there is some thoughtful planning to tackle the constraints facing their plan. There is also a lot of running in this show, and it's all been animated in a satisfying sort of way. Running is one of those activities that loses me if animated in some sort of "uncanny valley" wrong way, so I'm pleased at the way the characters convincingly haul ass. In a relatively weak season (compared to, say, Winter 2018 for example), The Promised Neverland is an interesting and serious enough departure from typical generic anime that it's worth your time to chase it down.

Dated 26 December 2018: Golden Kamuy and SSSS.GRIDMAN are among the best shows of the year

Asirpa
This is the sort of happiness you can only achieve by eating animal brains.

Some questionable publicity concerning some really jarring 3DCG got Golden Kamuy off to a bad start, but the strength of its source material pulled through. I'm one of those people who believe it's better to watch an anime first before reading its source manga, so basically all of the second cours was new to me. I'm told that the show truncated quite a bit of material in order to reach the second season's climax (and that it also cut out scenes that would have otherwise included more 3DCG animals). And what a climax it was. Basically, without going into spoilers, CRAZY SHIT HAPPENS, and there are real payoffs regarding characters that the viewer has gotten to know over the course of 24 episodes. With so many strong episodes this season, the second cours of Golden Kamuy is even better than SSSS.GRIDMAN.

Akane
It turns out Akane was the show's real protagonist. P.S. Spoilers.

Hopefully, word has gotten out by now that Studio Trigger did an excellent job with SSSS.GRIDMAN. I was a bit hesitant going in, since Trigger does falter somewhat frequently, and I was entirely ignorant of the GRIDMAN franchise. In fact, I'm ignorant when it comes to the entire genre, for that matter. Basically everything I know comes from posts by @TheIvanhobe on the Twitter. It turns out SSSS.GRIDMAN is satisfying even for viewers like me. I can only imagine how stoked people who recognized the various callbacks and references must have been. I should probably point out that while I put the second half of Golden Kamuy over SSSS.GRIDMAN, I find SSSS.GRIDMAN to be better if you compare its 12 episodes to the full 24 episodes of Golden Kamuy.

Shirase
That is one blue sky.

I should also mention that while I regard SSSS.GRIDMAN and Golden Kamuy to be among the best shows of the year, both were surpassed by five other shows from earlier in 2018. At the very peak is Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (A Place Further Than the Universe), an anime that even The New York Times recognized as being one of 2018's best. I put Hinamatsuri not too far behind, and then (for pretty different reasons), Hanebado!, Yuru Camp△, and Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight. Overall, a pretty good year for anime. I can't claim that Winter 2019 looks ready to compare with Winter 2018, but maybe there will be some surprises coming up again as well.