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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.

Dated 27 October 2020: More more more Autumn 2020 impressions

Tsurumi and Tsukishima
He had it coming.

Some of the shows I covered in previous posts (1st, 2nd, 3rd) included remakes and sequels or continuations. Well, there are more. Golden Kamuy also resumed this season. It's described as the third season, but really it's just the third cours of series. The anime remains as good as ever, thanks to the strength of the source material. In fact, the anime has improved by thus far avoiding the 3DCG pitfalls that unfortunately distracted from the first cours.

Mutsuko and Daigo
Daigo is short.

Major 2nd S2 remains consistently good as anyone who has ever followed the franchise would expect. The current arc again revisits events from the first season of Major 2nd, but it should still be accessible to new viewers. Well, they can be new to Major, but it probably helps to know at least a little about baseball. At a minimum, it will reinforce how relatively lucky the new girl has been so far despite making a lot of basic mistakes.

Akira
This is not actually a room.

One Room is also back for a third season. It's first-person-anime gimmick seems a bit lewder this time around than I remember from the previous installments. However, it's still fairly tame even though the first girl found an excuse to whip off her clothes by the second episode. I guess since the characters only gets three episodes for each arc they have to make the best of their opportunities.

Hattori and Miyafuji
Strike Witches is still Miyafuji's show.

Going the other way, Strike Witches: Dai-501 Tougou Sentou Koukuudan ROAD to BERLIN (the third "proper" season of Strike Witches) is definitely less lewd now compared to how it started out. The first season of Strike Witches featured uncensored casual nudity on a fairly regular basis. This season started with an appearance by Sakamoto Mio wearing pants, of all things. PANTS!

Dated 13 October 2020: More Autumn 2020 first impressions

Nana and Nanao
The front of Nanao's uniform reminds me of a Heinz bottle.

Adding onto this post about shows airing during the Autumn 2020 cours, my early top show is Munou na Nana (Talentless Nana) which had a surprisingly solid first episode, albeit one that relied on breaking from expectations, so you're better off avoiding spoilers and watching the first episode blind. Unfortunately, it looks as if the source manga isn't rated highly, so potentially the story doesn't fare so well later on. More optimistically, perhaps the low scores are merely due to problems the anime adaptation can fix.

Syalis
The horror of an anime bed made of concrete.

I'm more pessimistic about Maou-jou de Oyasumi (Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle) which is one of those shows with a neat idea that runs the risk of wearing out its welcome if it turns out to only offer one basic joke that it repeats ad infinitum. I think the source manga remains well liked, so maybe I should have more faith it its potential for creativity.

Inuyasha and Kagome
I don't even know why Inuyasha himself is a dog except that it's in his name.

Despite being almost entirely ignorant about InuYasha, I'm reasonably sure its sequel (spinoff?) will probably be at least sort of good thanks to having a respectable pedigree. Kyoukai no Rinne is actually the only Takahashi Rumiko thing I've ever seen, but that was pretty good. Her other works are popular, and I remember people being nuts for InuYasha back in the day, so Hanyou no Yashahime (Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon) at least has odds in its favor.

Tsukasa and Nasa
Mi casa es Tsukasa.

Tonikaku Kawaii (TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You) also has a pedigree, but not one quite as good. It has probably already referenced its creator's other works a few times by now unbeknownst to me, though. The first two episodes were fine, but not outstanding, and I'm already quite tired of Potato-kun's penchant for freaking out. It's one of those "comic" behaviors that isn't as objectionable in manga form, but doesn't translate well to anime. I'm also worried a bunch of wacky cockblockers will move in with the couple. In fact, I can probably think of a whole lot of different ways this could go wrong, even though I think the manga remains popular. There are a lot of shows this season, so I'm not going to be as patient with it as I might have been just a few months ago.

Dated 22 September 2020: We're gonna need more Fruits Basket

Kyo and Tohru
Should you be drinking out of the carton?

As I expected, there was an announcement following episode 25 of Fruits Basket 2nd Season confirming a third season will air in 2021. It will apparently be entitled Fruits Basket the Final, so I'm a little sad to learn the anime is ending. I sort of expected that, but I'm at least hoping it means there will be twenty-something more episodes and not just a single cours finale.

Akito
Akito is not a nice person.

In general, Fruits Basket isn't exactly the sort of show I typically watch. I've never read any of the manga, and I only watched the first anime adaptation because I heard it was good and because I like Horie Yui. It turns out the anime is good, and I even bought the DVDs, but I never re-watched it. Enough time passed between when I finished the first anime and when the 2019 one began that much of it still seemed new despite starting over.

Yuki and Machi
Machi is not the most stable girl.

Most of it might have, in fact, been new, since my hazy memory leaves me uncertain how much material the current anime has now covered that was omitted entirely from the Hocchan version. At a minimum, there are more episodes of the 2019 adaptation, and I'm fairly certain the manga still had a long ways to go when the 2001 anime finished. I know the original manga is finished now, but I'm aware spin-offs and a sequel exist, so there's at least more material to potentially adapt. In any case, I'm prepared to continue watching Fruits Basket basically indefinitely. There's something captivating about the sweetest girl in creation trying to make her way in a world filled with assholes and seeing the impact she has on the lives of people who just needed someone to give a shit about them once in a damn while.

Dated 26 May 2020: My Bakarina 'ship is a harem

Catarina
It's not easy being rich.

While a significant number of shows from the Spring 2020 anime season are delayed, Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta… (My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!) marches on. Hamehura (alternatively Hamefura, but really now: Bakarina) is a solid adaptation of the popular web novel turned light novel. I've enjoyed the manga adaptation as well, thanks to some great character designs and relentless mugging which the anime sensibly adopts as well.

Mary and Maria
Relax, ladies, it's fine.

As for the show itself, the Bakarina anime features our clueless antagonist's ongoing efforts at avoiding either exile or a grisly demise, all while entirely ignorant that she's actually the protagonist now and entirely too successful at currying favor among her peers and erstwhile rivals. Clueless love interests in harem anime are nothing new (see, for example, Ichika in IS <:Infinite Stratos>), but I find Bakarina herself an amusing character and sort of endearing. At a minimum, that differentiates her from Potato-kun from such-and-such series quite a bit.

Catarina
Fruits Basket face.

If I had to identify why this distinction exists, I want to say it's because those typical harem comedy protagonists who remain oblivious to all the potential love interests hurling their undergarments at them tend to be in that position solely because the story says that's just the way it is, and not as a result of any qualities or efforts on their parts—at least not in any reasonable capacity. Catarina Claes, on the other hand, is fully committed to making sure all of these other characters like her as much as possible and get along with each other as well. That she doesn't realize she has already long accomplished this and is on the verge of collapsing her world into a harem comedy singularity sort of makes me like her too.

Dated 5 May 2020: It turns out there is more to Gleipnir than exquisitely detailed brassieres

Clair
Not a whole lot of anime characters with freckles.

I would not call Gleipnir lewd even though its lead girl has spent most of the first five episodes with her clothes off. (The rest of the time, she's usually in the process of removing her clothes.) The show is lurid, though. Frankly, I'm finding this sort of extremely overt fan service rather refreshing. It's a nice contrast to some of the inflexible attitudes I seem to encounter on the Twitter occasionally. In any case, it's starting to look like Gleipnir actually has a lot going on. In fact, probably too much going on to wrap up in a single cours considering five episodes have already passed, and the show is only just now getting started with a plot of any sort.

Clair and Shuichi
This is good way to get a lot of bug bites, Clair.

From the looks of it, the Gleipnir anime is also about to add a bunch of new characters (who won't necessarily live long). Seeing as how the original manga appears to still be ongoing, I'm guessing the anime is going to conclude with a non-ending ending unless it proves popular enough to get successive seasons. I don't know if I'm going to care about any of these new characters, but I'm hoping they'll bring more to the series than Potato-kun has so far. At least Clair is interesting. After all, she has gotten less suicidal and her brassieres are exquisitely detailed.

Dated 7 April 2020: I finally finished Dimension W

Dimension W manga volume 16 cover
The glow-in-the dark covers are a nice touch.

The Dimension W anime ran for 12 episodes during the Winter 2016 anime season. I liked it a lot more than I was expecting—specifically, good enough that I started buying the manga. It took four years, but I have the final (16th) volume now. This took a bit longer than I would have liked, but the manga itself was still ongoing when the anime ended. (The manga completed in June 2019.) Ideally, there would be less time between when an anime ends and when its source material wraps up. I, for one, would much rather watch original anime or adaptations of properties that have already concluded, but those types of shows do seem to be in the minority. At least four years no longer seems like an extraordinary amount of time to wait after an anime stops airing before finding out how the series ends. I'm not sure if that's necessarily a good thing, though. I have to admit it's a little troubling to notice how fast years seem to whip by now.