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Dated 12 March 2016: Revisiting Innocent Venus

Steve and Toraji
It's your own fault for only bringing a gun to a sword fight.

Innocent Venus is "pretty good," but it sort of feels as if viewers forgot about it somewhat quickly. When was the last time you even thought about this 2006 series? I liked it quite a bit when it first aired, but even I haven't thought about it much after it ended. I want to say it was at least popular enough to get licensed, but basically everything was getting licensed back then just before the crash. I see it sure didn't take long for the DVDs to go out of print, so good luck finding it now if you haven't secured a copy already.

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Dated 5 November 2015: I'm not sure if Saekano succeeds because of its source material or in spite of it

Megumi
Nice hat.

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend) is an anime adaptation of an ongoing series of light novels about a group of high school kids developing a visual novel game for Comiket. It's a harem comedy and relies heavily on tropes and common character archetypes. Tomoya is an unapologetic otaku clad in birth-control glasses. His tsundere childhood friend is hopelessly in love with him, but naturally he's completely oblivious. Since she is in a harem comedy, Eriri has plenty of competition from more aerodynamic rivals who offer Potato-kun the green light early and often. Really, the only reason the "YES" embroidery on his bedroom pillow isn't completely worn down is due to the preservative powers of the Otaku Virtues. The damn shit's better than Woolite.

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Dated 18 May 2015: It's not just the books that disappeared, Yuki-chan

Kyon, Ryoko, Haruhi, Yuki, and Koizumi
Small gods move in mysterious ways.

I still enjoy the Haruhi franchise quite a bit, even in its Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan guise. For the most part, the characters remain true to their established forms, with the notable exception of Yuki herself. You wouldn't expect this to be problematic, since the entire premise of Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu is that it takes place in an alternate reality based on the Suzumiya Haruhi no Shoushitsu book and movie. However, Yuki-chan from the television anime is neither the "original" Nagato nor her alternate counterpart from the 2010 feature film.

Yuki and Kyon
It's funny because she's short.

Disappearance movie Nagato is quiet and incredibly meek, but Disappearance TV Yuki is sort of spacey and oblivious instead in a clumsy sort of way that's supposed to make her appear cute. She already has an established friendship with Kyon, which at least provides a framework for the overarching story about her crush on him, but she's also clearly not alt.movies.nagato warmed up a bit. Part of the difference is how this Yuki plays video games constantly instead of spending all of her time reading. I'm not entirely sure what inspired this change. Some have postulated it makes her more relatable to the show's target demographic, but I wonder if it's actually to make her appear less introspective and thus reinforce the sort of clueless, helpless vibe she currently extrudes? In any case, it's not a good change, but also not bad enough to sink the entire series, thanks to Haruhi still being Haruhi and doing all the in-character Haruhi things Her faithful have come to expect of their small god.

Dated 10 February 2015: A tail of two catgirls

Kanako
A catgirl doing cat things.

If you know anything about anime, then you're at least aware catgirls are a common fetish, and may even be familiar with the various controversies surrounding them. Are they furries? What if their paws and tails are real? Should they also have human ears in addition to their cat ears? This entry casually compares the catgirls in Isuca and The iDOLMASTER Cinderella Girls as an excuse to introduce these Winter 2015 shows and to revisit some of my grievances regarding catgirls.

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Dated 31 March 2013: Winter 2013 shows I dropped

Female Knight
Yes, Female Knight, these shows were aggravating.

Since I'm less likely now to start something I'm not certain I'll enjoy, I drop fewer shows these days. However, this trend apparently gets offset by my decreasing patience with shows in general, so I still dropped four shows winter 2013. Moreover, all four were fairly well-regarded by fans who aren't even disreputable. That is, the shows didn't suck; they just didn't appeal to me.

Kotori and Niko
Making faces won't help you.

The "best" show I dropped was Love Live! School Idol Project which I stopped watching after episode five. I can see why other people enjoy it, but I never cared about the characters or the plight of their school. Some of the characters have interesting traits, but I didn't find them to be interesting people. I understand that schools closing due to Japan's declining birthrates is a genuine phenomenon, but it's not a problem that resonates with me personally. Also, I may have exceeded safe school-closure dosage levels after exposure to so many shows invoking that particular plot device.

Manabe and Kotoura
Haruka is vexed by Manabe's enthusiasm again.

I dropped Kotoura-san at episode nine. This is unusual for two reasons: First, Kotoura-san is a really good show sometimes. Or at least it really has its moments. Second, after watching nine episodes of a single-cour series, I was so close to the end anyway it seems sticking it out and hoping for the best would have been a reasonable proposition. On problem with that though: Kotoura-san also annoyed the Bejesus out of me pretty frequently. Pointless cockblocking, idiotic one-note gags, and some really shitty writing offset the show's good qualities. I guess on average it's still at least okay as a whole, but it just wasn't worth it to me.

Demon King and Hero
Potato-kun in a place that that didn't even have potatoes.
Huge tracts of land, though.

It seems so long ago now, but I dropped Maoyuu Maou Yuusha at episode three. It was frankly kinda boring, and the lengths it went to in order to prevent its lead characters from becoming romantically involved were kinda ridiculous. When the season's starchiest Potato-kun isn't the high school kid in the harem comedy, but rather the skillful warrior in the fantasy epic about economics and logistics, there's a problem.

Kyouya and Shion
Go on, mister. Brush the shit out of her.

I had no interest in starting GJ-bu until maybe a couple weeks ago when its vocal fans and their adoration reached critical mass. Something about brushing girls' hair? I dunno, couldn't be that bad. The most passionate fans were particularly enamored of a character named Shion and episode five—the one where she gets her hair brushed. Okay, I guess I can watch five episodes of this thing. Well, it turns out it's not a bad show at all, but it did not appeal to me in the slightest. I guess it's because I prefer "cool," confident, and capable female characters doing things adeptly or with aplomb. Conversely, I dislike "cute" girls who are deliberately broken or inept in some fashion to appear more attractive. As a rule of thumb, I think I should just avoid anything described by other anime fans as "adorable." That seems to be a politically correct code word for "loli" or "mentally deficient" depending on whether the character in question is a small child or an adolescent. (E.g., Rikka from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!) You may remember that I railed against K-On! for its aggravating Retard Moé shtick.

Kirara
I never did figure out why she's a cat.

However, GJ-bu wasn't so much Retard Moé as it was Autism Moé. This is not a term I coined or attached to the show, and I can't remember who said it first, but I certainly agree it is apt. These are not normal girls by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not suggesting solidly average boring girls would have been an improvement, but I'm increasingly put off by the "cute girls doing cute things" trope being extended ever further away from merely eccentric (or even neurotic) behavior towards an ideal where anime girls are basically pets or small children. This is not a new or unique criticism of moé to be sure, and I don't even have any opposition towards moé in general. I just can't enjoy the glamorization of these hopeless girl-shaped caricatures, even if they do have flaxen hair. Snow White had that too, but let's face it, she wouldn't have lasted two days alone in that forest without her benevolent animal friends.

Dated 18 February 2013: Haruka's life continues to improve

Manabe and Haruka
Tiny pictures are the way of love.

People have mostly stopped trying to make Haruka miserable. I guess that's good, but with the show only at the halfway mark I wonder if it's on the path towards a non-ending ending, or if there will be some sort of phony melodrama that escalates out of control just out of nowhere? Seeing as how the show started out with a broken home and a dead mom, it's going to take more than a little bullying to pull off the Big Finish. Maybe Sentinels?

Dated 17 January 2013: Initial impressions of the winter 2013 season

Rei
If you haven't seen this by now...

This is a little earlier than I typically like to post initial impressions for a new season, since I consider it premature to make assumptions about shows after only a couple of episodes. However, I'm already more or less familiar with most of the shows I'm following this season because they are either continuations or adaptations of things I've read. Only Vividred Operation and Love Live! School Idol Project remain unknowns at this point.

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Dated 10 August 2012: It doesn't take Meitantei Conan to figure out who killed Yui's Gitah

Mio, Mugi, Azusa, Ritsu, and Yui
Not depicted: Bewildered patrons wondering why
people keep taking pictures of these tables.

What is Anime Tourism? Is it when anime fans make pilgrimages to real-life locales depicted in anime (see, for example, the Lucky Star Hajj), or is it when anime characters venture beyond their usual stomping grounds as tourists themselves? Maybe it's both. This installment features London, England, as depicted in the K-On! movie and in a series of Detective Conan episodes from 2011.

The River Thames
The River Thames
Welcome to London. It may appear slightly different than it does in anime.

Both K-On! and Detective Conan appear to be beneficiaries of an impressive amount of meticulous research. They accurately depict their locales while making only minor changes to avoid impeding their viewers' ability to identify certain settings. Some locations are simple yet still iconic and thus were shown virtually unchanged, such as this shot of the K-On! girls in the London Underground:

Azusa, Yui, Ritsu, Mugi, and Mio
Aldgate East
Upper: Azusa, Yui, Ritsu, Mugi, and Mio at the Aldgate East station.
Lower: Actual photo from the London Underground.

Of course, simple locations are not going to impress most viewers, nor encourage much anime tourism. Contrast this with the brief shot of the Tea Time band entering The Troubadour. A few seconds of film inspired enough visitors that the management now displays a K-On! poster in the window with a Japanese-language menu alongside its awards and positive reviews.

Mio, Azusa, Mugi, Ritsu, and Yui
The Troubadour
Upper: Mio, Azusa, Mugi, Ritsu, and Yui in front of The Troubadour.
Lower: Photo of the actual coffee house on Old Brompton Road.

As you can see, inconvenient trees and light poles occasionally get removed, and the scale sometimes gets changed to better fit a scene. For example, the rooms at 221B Baker Street are much more cramped than they appear in Detective Conan.

Sherlock Holmes museum
Sherlock Holmes museum
The interior of the Sherlock Holmes museum on 221B Baker Street.

Curiously, the K-On! girls also visit 221B Baker Street and pose for a picture, but appear to blow straight through the famous Abbey Road crossing without noticing. Had it been summertime, perhaps they would have been alerted by the crowds of tourists endangering their lives and making a general nuisance of themselves by playing in traffic.

Ritsu, Mugi, Yui, Mio, and Azusa
Abbey Road
Ritsu, Mugi, Yui, Mio, and Azusa cross Abbey Road on a quiet day.

I suppose the absence of crowds is a reasonable liberty in an anime movie. Anime "filming on location" generally seems to assume a best case scenario. Although blue skies are at least plausible in Ran's case since she visited London in July, the K-On! movie's depiction of the weather over Westminster Bridge during the colder months is somewhat optimistic.

Ran
Detective Conan episode 617.
Westminster Bridge
K-On! movie.
Westminster Bridge
There aren't crowds in Ran's shot because it's 9PM.

So how is the K-On! movie itself? I don't actually like K-On!, having dropped the series early in its run, but K-On! is a juggernaut almost inescapable for anime fans. So despite only watching four of its 40 episodes, I still know quite a bit about the show and the characters (although my Twitter joke pretending to mistake Ui for Yui's mother flopped), making the movie quite accessible. I have to admit it's a good movie, and the K-On! characters are more agreeable now that they're better established. In many respects, the K-On! movie is a journey. The characters travel from Japan to London and then proceed to explore the city, but it's also a journey in the sense that the movie is very much about the graduating members of the light music club searching for the appropriate way to hand it over to Azusa. Neither are journeys the way Monster is a journey, but they effectively take advantage of the opportunities a feature-length project has to offer. There is a palpable sense of bewilderment and wonder as Mio, Mugi, Ritsu, Yui, and Azusa wander around London, and the movie presents numerous opportunities for the viewer to see and experience it from their points of view.

Jubilee Gardens
Yui
Jubilee Gardens glows with the benefit of Yui-vision.

The unusually long London arc of Detective Conan episodes in 2011 is also a journey in both these literal and metaphorical senses. With regard to the metaphorical portion, the London arc advanced a fairly significant step in the relationship between Ran and Shinichi. From the literal perspective, Conan, Kogoro, Ran, and Professor Agasa race around the city collecting clues in order to stop a mad bomber, although the transitions are not as finely executed in these moments as they are in the K-On! movie. In the Detective Conan episodes, the characters seemingly pop up at various spots the story deems appropriate. Many of these cuts lack any real consideration as to how the characters got there, and some scenes ignore minor concerns that don't actually affect the plot. For example, Ran's fortuitous encounter with Minerva Glass at the base of the Sherlock Holmes statue outside the Baker Street Underground station (around the corner and a short distance away from the entrance to the Sherlock Holmes museum) advances the story, but doesn't necessarily comport with the traveling she does that day. The K-On! movie is much better at depicting travel around the city, and ensuring the corresponding scenes are generally geographically consistent; fans could potentially recreate much of the movie by tracing Hokago Tea Time's steps.

Ritsu, Mio, Yui, Mugi, and Azusa
Steps at the end of Westminster Bridge
This scene needed more pickpockets.

So am I actively advocating Anime Tourism? You mean like going to various locations around the world such as Italy or France or, well, countless places in Japan strictly for the purpose of seeing the 3D versions of 2D sites? Well, no, but if you're going to be in the area anyway, load up some screenshots on a portable device for comparison's sake. It's an interesting exercise in augmented unreality.