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Dated 29 December 2020: The war on pants will go on a long as it has to

Yoshika and Shizuka
I don't dislike Miyafuji anymore, but these two still aren't exactly favorites.

It's been a while since I've watched the first two Strike Witches seasons, but I felt this third season seemed better overall than those previous installments. I also liked it better than the Brave Witches spinoff. Despite this, I'm still not at all prepared to call Strike Witches: Road to Berlin the best season yet even though it sort of has to be by definition. The problem is Road to Berlin still relied on the Neuroi as the primary advesary. This is an unavoidable component of the World Witches canon, but these alien invaders have never been compelling enemies. The witches need to fight somebody, but the battles still feel hollow and the stakes haven't grown as the war has progressed, despite a fair amount of dialogue trying to convince viewers that they have.

World Witches Take Off!
That sure is a lot of witches.

Thankfully, Strike Witches 3 at least avoided some of the even less convincing drama that dragged down parts of the first two seasons. Frankly, I rather enjoy the characters more when they're doing silly things in garrison such as in the Strike Witches: 501 Butai Hasshin Shimasu! (Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!) gag anime. This bodes well for next season's World Witches Hasshin Shimasu! (World Witches Take Off!) installment, although I think I would still prefer it use the standard superlovely character designs than the simpler comedy-friendly ones.

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 24 June 2019: Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! takes us behind the lines of the War on Pants

Mio
Sakamoto is more of a nutjob than I remember.

It's been more than 12 years since the first Strike Witches OVA. Since that time, we've gotten a proper television series, a sequel series, a spinoff series, a movie, more OVAs, and this season's Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! (Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!) comedy series with half-length episodes. Additionally, I understand there are more sequels and spinoffs in the works, so it seems we'll continue to wage the War on Pants for some time to come. The weakest aspect of the Strike Witches universe (now actually the World Witches universe) has always been the Neuroi—the boring, vaguely threatening opponents with no personalities that our stalwart witches must fight. Fortunately, Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! is entirely Neuroi-free, as the show is strictly about the 501st Joint Fighter Wing fucking around in garrison.

Barkhorn and Hartmann
Go on, Barkhorn, curse the bitch out.

Surprisingly, this setting worked quite favorably for Erica Hartmann and Miyafuji Yoshika as characters. I wasn't fans of either of them going in, but I like them both a lot better now. I'm glad Hartmann in particular got more to do than merely be a lazy slob. I wasn't expecting her to be the focus of so many of the show's best gags. In Miyafuji's case, I think being free of her Main Character baggage made her scenes a lot better. Miyafuji stopped being on my shitlist after the Strike Witches movie, but she's still better off in a supporting role.

Yoshika
This style probably takes less time to draw, I'd imagine.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the character design changes. I'm not a huge fan of this style. I can understand why they're different for this sort of show, but the effect isn't as successful as, say, the changes for Isekai Quartet. Also, I do wish Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! had brought back casual nudity, which used to be a staple of the franchise. Sure, these character designs are not quite as...aerodynamic as the normal ones, but I think it would have made for some amusing gags. Casual nudity has been missing from the World Witches universe for quite some time now, so bringing it back unexpectedly in this guise would have been quite the bombshell in the War on Pants.

Dated 3 June 2019: Chou Kadou Girl ⅙: Amazing Stranger is no Hand Maid May

Haruto and Nona
It's probably so nasty under there.

Chou Kadou Girl ⅙: Amazing Stranger is about a sentient 1/6th scale anime figurine who lives with a fan of her franchise. Although there are other shows about tiny wives and the people who love them (for example, Nona arguably has more in common with her Frame Arms Girl counterparts), I'm still going to point to Hand Maid May as the best example of this sort of thing. I think it's because I enjoy the two human leads in Hand Maid May (Kazuya and Kasumi), whereas I'm mostly ambivalent about Haruto from Amazing Stranger. His kid sister seems okay, but she's not in the show much. Both Hand Maid May and Amazing Stranger do feature copious amounts of fan service and lots of meta humor, so I guess they also have that in common. I've written about Hand Maid May a fair amount on this site already, so just read those old entries if you're still curious why I seem to like it so much.

Nona
The explanation for why Nona sleeps in the refrigerator was not at all convincing.

With regard to Chou Kadou Girl ⅙: Amazing Stranger, it's sort of uneven, but I find some of the gags amusing. I also like the robotic autotuned voice in the OP. More importantly, I appreciate that Nona is not entirely dense, so the show isn't structured around increasingly strained misunderstandings and complex scams. That is a nice change of pace. It also makes her a bit more human. I guess that's technically a sort of racist thing to say about a tiny plastic space...whatever she is, but it is an important part of getting me to care about the events within the show. That was something notable about Hand Maid May—I cared about where the characters were going to end up. Amazing Stranger isn't quite there yet, but hopefully its remaining episodes will provide at least a little more emotional resonance.

Dated 14 January 2019: There are two Girls with Planes shows in the Winter 2019 anime season

Gripen and Kei
No, this is not a Meet Cute.

Technically, I guess there's only one show about girls with planes: Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (The Magnificent KOTOBUKI), since Girly Air Force seems to be about girls who are planes. Both shows have only one episode out so far, but Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai seems to be far and away the better show. For one thing, the planes in Girly Air Force are strictly 3DCG sentient artificial intelligence jobbies based on contemporary jet fighters. For other, Potato-kun is in Girly Air Force. He's not too bad, actually, but the cranky Chinese girl he's partnered with is going to get annoying if she doesn't get any actual character development. Probably the real weakness of the show will be the so-called "Xi" menace which is responsible for war in China and all the refugees from the mainland fleeing to Japan. Bogus opponents hurt Strike Witches and Sky Girls and will probably hurt Girly Air Force for all the same reasons.

Kirie
The googles do nothing.

Thankfully, enemy aircraft in Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai appear to have human pilots (although none were clearly shown in the first episode). At a minimum, they certainly have more personality than the Xi or the Neuroi or WORMs, even if it's only revealed in little displays such as the dipped wings at the conclusion of an air battle. Kotobuki also benefits from direction by Mizushima Tsutomu who looks ready to combine ideas from his work on GIRLS und PANZER and The Third Girls Aerial Squad of Shirobako fame. Curiously, the female characters are all 3DCG (but look good for basically the same reason 3DCG characters worked in Bubuki Buranki, as opposed to Ajin). I don't know how realistic the air battles are in Kotobuki, but they look and sound great, and the anime goes out of its way to show details of the controls. Overall, the dogfighting depicted with The Magnificient KOTOBUKI's propeller-driven planes is much more compelling than the super high-G BFM (read: bullshit fighter maneuvers) demonstrated by the AI jets of Girly Air Force.

Zero
He probably also has a video about the Hayabusa.

Incidentally, if you're interested in the practical elements of World War II fighter aircraft and the associated engineering aspects that influence performance and combat effectiveness, "Greg's Airplanes and Automobiles" on the YouTube is fascinating.

Dated 16 March 2015: Idols need boats, idols need boats, idols idols idols idols idols idols idols need boats

Oodoyo
Ayako Boat needs more lines.

I enjoy both Kantai Collection and The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls, and I still look forward to the new episodes each week, but neither show is particularly successful at getting me invested in the characters. This is surely because both shows are adaptations of already successful games and are intended to cater to established fans. However, this means cramming both shows with simply too many characters that never get developed. They end up existing simply as catchphrase-spouting bits of scenery.

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Dated 4 February 2015: Kantai Collection for the casual landlubber

Kongou
Kongou sure knows how to make an entrance.

Everything I know about Kantai Collection (also known as Kancolle) comes from secondary sources. Specifically, I have absolutely zero first-hand knowledge of the popular game. Of what I do know, I gleaned probably eight percent from anime heads on The Twitter, various bloggers, and IRC drones.  The remaining 92% I learned from hydrodynamic fan art. Some of these illustrations, no doubt, potentially promote misleading characteristics of various Kantai Collection boats, if not the franchise as a whole.

Shimakaze
Apparently nobody has had the heart to tell Shimakaze
that she mistook a shampoo hat for a skirt.

Through the first four episodes, it's apparent some knowledge and enthusiasm for the game is necessary in order to fully appreciate the Kantai Collection anime. The show is wall-to-wall cameos clearly intended to stoke ardent fans of underappreciated boat girls. The characters also occasionally holler non sequiturs that are obviously catchphrases from the game's voiced components. Some of the game mechanics also found their way into the show despite not making a whole lot of sense from a narrative standpoint. Still, the project seems well done and there's a palpable sense of affection that comes across so that I at least feel as if people in the shipyard care about the fleet.

Dated 28 October 2012: Initial impressions of the autumn 2012 season

Erwin, Caesar, Oryou, and Saemonza
This scene was awesome.

Autumn 2012 so far: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (1-4) > Smile Precure! (34-36) > Sword Art Online (15-17) > GIRLS und PANZER (1-3) > Medaka Box Abnormal (1-3) > Busou Shinki (1-4) > Aikatsu! (1-3) > Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! (1-4) > Little Busters! (1-4).

Rin and Masato
Just so you know, the three-piece staff is the best weapon ever.

Now that we're about a third of the way through the current anime season, I have some general impressions of the shows I'm following thus far.

Dio
Dio is a dick.

A little unexpectedly for me, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is at the top of my list. I say unexpectedly because I am wholly ignorant of the source material aside from some vague understanding that it is a frequently referenced classic of the burly-men-punching-things-during-absurd-fights vein. Sure enough, the four episodes I've seen have been quite absurd and they have featured a lot of punching and numerous burly men. Nevertheless, it is quite entertaining and fans of the manga seem to agree it is a worthy adaptation. It also invokes the AYAKO DOCTRINE, so there is that if you're on the fence about giving it a try.

Akane and Brian
Yellow fever.

Smile Precure! is higher in these rankings than it has been the rest of the year simply because the three episodes under consideration (34-36) have been unusually good. I don't expect it to remain as entertaining, since it will surely succumb to its otaku-friendly, girls-being-cute-and-weak ways, but these last three episodes at least have been well done. I'm also glad to see the return of heterosexual love interests as a Precure subplot. Heartcatch Precure!, Suite Precure♪, and all the previous episodes of Smile Precure! have been raked bow to stern by broadsides from the HMS Yuri despite the fact there are no canonical lesbians in the entire Pretty Cure franchise. (Saki and Mai sure do hold hands an awful lot, though.)

Asuna
She'll also spend a lot of time standing next to the chair.

I'm ranking the early episodes of the Alfheim Online arc of Sword Art Online third, although I expect the show to slip in the rankings at least as fast as Smile Precure! will probably fall. I read the corresponding volumes of the light novels before I even began watching Sword Art Online, so I can already foresee the gnashing of teeth these upcoming episodes will generate. [Spoilers: There will be a lot of scenes of Asuna sitting in a chair.] Still, I'm amused mini-Yui gained a head flower for no reason, effectively making her a little AI Saten. It's funny if you like seiyuu jokes.

Caesar and Erwin
Erwin, that hat's wearing you. I would also like to add,
YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD, I READ YOUR BOOK!

As Smile Precure! and Sword Art Online fall, they will probably be passed by GIRLS und PANZER and Medaka Box Abnormal. I'm not entirely sure GIRLS und PANZER is catering to military otaku necessarily, but having at least a mild interest in tanks and mechanized infantry seems to assist in the enjoyment of the show overall. Making panzer fahren a girls' school sport is an unusual premise, but an entertaining one thus far. My only complaint is that the characters are a little indistinct in these early episodes. Erwin is the Best Girl, but I'm only saying that because of the way she's dressed. If I am to enjoy GIRLS und PANZER as a sports anime, I'll need to care a bit more about who wins or loses. I also wish the audio track made more of an effort to kick out a low-frequency thump for viewers with subwoofers. The sounds of the guns are not as impressive as they could be, so while the characters mention the awe they feel when they shoot for the first time, the audience doesn't quite get to share in the experience.

Zenkichi and Medaka
I don't actually know where Medaka was keeping that fan.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy Medaka Box Abnormal this much. Probably the worst-kept secret of Medaka Box is that it changes from school hijinks to high-tension shounen fighting rather abruptly. The first season of the anime included the start of this transformation, and the second season, Medaka Box Abnormal, continues with the "Flask Plan" arc. I've read through as much of the manga as this second anime season is likely to cover, and I can't claim to have enjoyed much of it. I have a low threshold of tolerance for shounen jive in general. If the anime will spend most of its time vacillating between stills of bombastic schoolchildren giving lectures about the importance of people's feelings and banal fights, I'm not going to last long as a viewer. However, Medaka Box does have the advantage of humiliating people with Fruits Basket faces regularly, so I guess it'll all depend on how Gainax executes what's left. No pressure, y'all.

Yda and Ach
Busou Shinki also has a Horie Yui + Tamura Yukari duo.

I wanted to like Busou Shinki after I learned what it was about and discovered its enormous cast of popular voice actresses. However, so far it's been playing out as an inferior Hand Maid May or Angelic Layer. The doll joints are also kinda off-putting.

Ringo
Aikatsu! also has a Mamiko mom, but it's no Tari Tari.

I don't remember why I'm watching Aikatsu!, but I think I was tricked. This is not a very good show, and the 3D CGI dance performances are vastly inferior to the Pretty Cure EDs I associate with the genre. I think I'll give it one more episode to do something interesting, because there's been nothing offered so far that wouldn't be better served by queuing up iM@S videos on Nicovideo.

Yuuta and Shinka
Shinka wishes she were dead. Yuuta does nothing to help.

I'm probably the only person who ranks Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! this low, but there's basically nothing about it that I enjoy. It is well done and impeccably animated, but it strikes me too much as a Kyoto Animation showcase. This detracts from my potential enjoyment of the show just as SHAFT showcases reduce my appreciation of SHAFT's shows. Is it a valid complaint to find Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! too chuunibyou? Obviously its chuuni elements are deliberate and intended to show how delusional and immature its adherents are, and how mortified its reformed practitioners feel after "outgrowing" their chuunibyou stage, but I just don't get any enjoyment watching Rikka prance around in her own little world. Why couldn't this show have been about a Napping and Sometimes Badminton Club instead? Likewise, every line Dekomori utters strikes me as foolish and irrelevant. It particularly bothers me that both Rikka and Sanae are in full-on chuuni mode at all times. Since they never, ever act like normal human beings, they're basically as broken as Chii or any of those other "adorably autistic" moé blobs. What makes them any better than the anteater girl from Little Busters!?

Shinka
I'd fight her.

I'm hoping Nibutani brings a more interesting dynamic to the show, but it will be an uphill battle if I have to resist the urge to slap her irregular hairclip to the ground every time she's on screen. Apparently her hairclip is much more sensible in the original light novel illustrations, so I can only assume it's Kyoto Animation being stylishly Kyoto Animation-ish.

Rin and Masato
I can't tell if Rin is the worst pitcher or the best one.

I'm still watching Little Busters! because it's technically a baseball anime. I'm pleased the new buxom character is not a nice person and that she's obviously better than everyone else around her. It's refreshing given that the anteater-panties girl and her retard moé qualities brought the show to a new low in episode two. I still believe it was a mistake to cast Horie Yui as the male lead, and I can't see myself watching this show much longer unless J.C. Staff actually convinces me to care about what happens to these characters—a dubious prospect considering I already know what does happen to these characters since I looked up most of the spoilers.