Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 25 June 2018: Anime product placement strikes again

Asuna
I also own Sony phones.

I bought AKG K701 headphones in 2011. These are the same headphones Mio wears in K-On!, but I think I can at least claim I did not buy them because of Mio since I sort of hated what few episodes of K-On! I even watched. (I did like the movie, though.) But, on the other hand, I did at least know these were "the Mio headphones" when I bought them. Sure, I was already considering these AKGs before I even learned of the K-On! connection, but I can't necessarily argue that the increased awareness generated by the buzz following their appearance in the anime had no influence on my decision to ultimately buy them.

Sony MDR-100ABN h.ear wireless headphones
NFC pairing is also magic.

Then there's the Sony MDR-100ABN headphones that I bought in 2018. Their appearance in Sword Art Online: The Movie —Ordinal Scale— most definitely factored into my decision to buy them. Sure, I was in the market for both wireless and noise-cancelling headphones, but the fact that I specifically purchased the Asuna-flavored version was absolutely influenced by the handful of seconds they appeared in the anime. (Wireless headphones are great around the house and having noise cancellation on a plane may as well be Goddamn magic, incidentally.) They were actually a little difficult to find because I bought them after their newer WH-H900N successors had been out for a while already. Hey, at least I didn't hunt down the insanely priced SAO-limited-edition ones (since I'm not not actually an SAO fan, despite appearances).

Dated 2 April 2018: FLCL revisited

Mossan, Pets, Hijiri, and Hana
Drills are a girl's romance.

Adult Swim aired the first episode of FLCL Alternative in Japanese with English subtitles five months early as an April Fool's prank. That is, the first episode of the third season before any of the second season episodes had aired. Those anxious about potential spoilers can probably rest easy knowing nothing depicted or revealed in this episode struck me as potentially volatile spoiler material, although I can't rule out the possibility that it contained huge spoilers for the yet unaired second season, FLCL Progressive. Although no longer a Gainax property (as I understand it anyway) the tone and themes of this leaked (technically not leaked) episode fit the character and qualities I associate with the original OVA series from 2000 and 2001, albeit toned down to be a bit less high-test wacky.

Haruka
キタ━━━━━━(゚∀゚)━━━━━━ !!!!!

Speaking of the original FLCL I also had the opportunity to re-watch this series via its inexpensive Blu-ray set. (The whole set cost me less than what I paid for each of the original three Synch-Point DVDs, and I didn't even have to journey out to GAMERS in Westwood to buy it.) The original FLCL absolutely holds up, and remains as good as I remember. If anything, it's even better now, since there were a number of references I didn't recognize originally, and I'm able to contextualize many of the scenes better nowadays. In any case, I highly encourage all y'all to re-watch the original at some point before starting with FLCL Progressive when it begins in June. Those of you who have never seen it obviously should rectify that as well.

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 26 December 2017: Infini-T Force: Local girl finds hero inside her

Emi
Emi has an epiphany.

Infini-T Force is my surprise of the season, not because it was necessarily better than I was expecting, but rather because it got me to understand the appeal of its related superhero series and sentai-type antics in general. I typically have a very low tolerance for nonsense which I characterize as shounen jive. In particular, characters described as having "a strong sense of justice" irritate the Bejesus out of me and I usually avoid any such shows if at all possible out of general principle.

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Dated 28 August 2017: The top 10 best Love Live! School Idol Project girls, part two

Maki and Nico
It's not easy being the Best Girls.

If you caught the last installment, then you know I finished the first season of Love Live! School Idol Project with the characters ranked in the following order:

Preliminary Ruling: Maki > Nico > Umi > Kotori > [GOOD/BAD LINE] > Hanayo > Eli > Honoka > Nozomi > Rin.

Notably, last-place Rin had no redeeming qualities. Well, all of that was based entirely on the first season of the anime. Now that I've watched the OVA, the second cours, and the movie, I hereby present the final standings:

Maki > Nico > Kotori > Umi > Hanayo > [GOOD/BAD LINE] > Eli > Honoka > Nozomi > Rin.

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Dated 2 January 2017: All Fate/All the Time

Ritsuka and Mash
This means you're married now.

There are two Fate/stay night TV anime series and the first of three Heaven's Feel movies coming out in 2017. In addition to this, Fate/Grand Order also dropped its 72-minute -First Order- commercial on the last day of 2016. It seems...excessive. It also doesn't inspire a lot of confidence in me to learn Fate/Apocrypha is based on a light novel series. Fate/Extra at least is going to be a SHAFT x SHINBO show, which I suppose is good news for those of you who like that sort of thing. I'm at least sort of optimistic because it features the Tange Sakura-type Saber, who was at least pretty great in Carnival Phantasm.

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Dated 30 December 2016: Shiho Standings 2016

Top-Tier Shiho

Iwasaki Shiho
Wake Up, Girls! I-1 Club Shiho.

Great Shiho

Kitazawa Shiho
The iDOLM@STER: Million Live! Shiho.

Good Shiho

Shiho Huit
My-Otome Shiho.

Bad Shiho

Shiho Munakata
My-HiME Shiho.

Know your Shihoes. The life you save could be your own!

Dated 24 August 2016: Love Live! Sunshine!! and falling into darkness

Yohane
That feather in her hair ball is probably lousy with germs.

I am now further along in Love Live! Sunshine!! than I ever got in First Love Live. I dropped Love Live! School Idol Project after five episodes because it didn't really speak to me. Love Live! Sunshine!! does not speak to me either, but it's at least modestly more entertaining so far thanks to Yoshiko's batshit crazy chuuni alter ego. It also has You regularly in a trucker hat with her name on it, Kanan who might be a U.S. Navy SEAL, and Hanamaru who is basically Machi except without the crippling social anxiety or the SEXUAL HARASSMENT.

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