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Dated 19 December 2023: I still don't know why PLUTO is written in all caps

Helena, Robita, and Geshicht
Not to spoil the moment, but can we workshop some other names?

It took me a while, but I finished PLUTO. This is not to say that it was slog to watch, bad, or uninteresting. Rather, it's a reflection of my lack of personal investment in the story and at least partially an acknowledgement that each episode is three times as long as they are for a more typical show. Now that I've finished it, my thoughts on the series haven't changed much. That nagging disconnect between my ambivalence and the very high praise I see everywhere else for PLUTO remains. What am I not getting?

Duncan
But are you pointing in the correct direction?

This is not a question I'm motivated to unpack, but I am willing to volunteer that the parts I liked best involved the blind composer. That arc was, frankly, rather sappy, but I think that's why I enjoyed it. Narrowing the story to focus on two characters provided for good moments as their interactions and exchanges evolved. I did notice—and this is not a complaint—that the composer was willing to occasionally use a mechanical conveyance. The practice clashed with his loathing of machines in general. True, there's no shortage of contradictory or hypocritical behaviors among the impulses that make us human, but I don't believe I was supposed to think about that in this case.

Atom
Would it help if I knew anything about Astro Boy?

I should probably give the manga another try at some point. I don't expect it to change my opinion too much, but there are at least indications I'll probably like it more than the anime. Most of these assumptions are based on this review of the PLUTO anime by a fan of the source material. (See also this one, while you're at it.) I'm more likely to re-watch and/or re-read Monster, though, if I'm being honest.

Dated 14 November 2023: I don't know why PLUTO is written in all caps

Gesicht
How are you feeling, Gesicht? Good?

I don't know very much about PLUTO despite reading some of the manga when it was new. I know that it is well regarded, and that fans have been eagerly anticipating the anime adaptation for years. But then the anime adaptation really happened, and basically no one is talking about it (at least not adjacent to the sliver of Internet that I occupy), presumably because every episode got dumped at once on the Netflix, as the Netflix is wont to do.

Atom
I don't know anything about Astro Boy either.

There are only eight episodes, but each episode is about triple-length, so it works out equivalent to a two-cours series. I've watched three of these episodes so far. The anime is good, but it's not blowing me away. I should probably have mentioned the author of the manga earlier, but yeah, the mangaka is Urasawa Naoki. I think Monster is fantastic, and I enjoyed 20th Century Boys. Everything else he's written is critically acclaimed too, but I haven't read them. Honestly, I'm surely unqualified to provide more than a passing acknowledgment that a PLUTO anime exists, and you should probably give it a try to see for yourself rather than going off of anything I might say about it. Still, maybe I'll circle back after finishing the rest of it to tell y'all how it went.

Dated 24 October 2023: The Apothecary Diaries: Don't Do Poison, Kids

Maomao
Delicious poison.

I started watching Kusuriya no Hitorigoto (The Apothecary Diaries) because I've heard its source material is good. It turns out the anime is good, too—good enough that I watched all three of its simultaneously released episodes (yeah, it's another one of those shows) in a row instead of spacing them out as I originally intended. It seems this is also going to be a two-cours series as well, although I haven't worked out if that means 24 episodes straight or if they'll be split.

Maomao
This is a terrible hobby.

Not knowing anything about the source material, I sort of wonder if this is going to turn into a medical drama where various plants and herbs will offer marvelous healing properties (like the sort found in fantasy stories such as Akatsuki no Yona because they allow characters to get fucked up without being removed from the narrative for months as they recuperate). Through the first three episodes, The Apothecary Diaries instead seems to be a period piece that's more about identifying and avoiding poison than about finding cures for ailments.

Maomao
I don't know where she can spend any of this.

Hopefully, regardless of the path the plot takes, the execution will remain good. I'm particularly pleased with the way Yuuki Aoi (this same Yuuki Aoi) is voicing the role. I'm enjoying the anime as a whole, so it's not as if she's carrying this series on her own, but her work as the lead is a significant factor in how much I'm liking it. While I'm on the subject, I did also notice that the narrator is credited as Shimamoto Sumi, Nausicaä's own bad self. That's mostly just a bit of trivia, but it is good to see she's still active.

Dated 17 January 2023: In/Spectre S2 is my favorite show this season

Masayuki and Yuki-Onna
All things considered, he's taking this well.

I liked the first season of In/Spectre enough to start buying the manga. 16 English-language volumes later, the second season has finally started. As far as the name of the series goes, Kyokou Suiri (Invented Inference) is what the author titled it back when there was only going to be one book (covering the "Steel Lady Nanase" story). After writing more, he lamented the original title isn't as apt as it was originally. (See the author's notes in volume nine of the manga.) Eh, it happens. "Karmaburn" doesn't really sound like the name of an anime blog, for that matter.

Yuki-Onna and Masayuki
He has gratitude and money, and she needs need cash to buy ice cream.

Anyway, Kyokou SuiriInvented InferenceIn/Spectre Season 2 is great, although I can see how it might be a mixed bag for anime-only viewers. It's not really paced for seasonal anime, and long monologues are not uncommon. I, for one, find the mysteries interesting, the stories clever, and the characters enjoyable. I don't know how long the author, Shirodaira Kyo (城平京), intends to continue writing this series, but I hope it's for a long time.

Dated 7 June 2022: I can't use Detective Conan as a control anymore

Conan and Sera
Sera, what are you even wearing?

This has been developing for a while now, but the quality of Detective Conan episodes seems to have declined. I haven't examined this closely, but I suspect there are significantly more anime-original episodes now. It's probably also not easy to further advance the ostensible main plot in satisfactory ways given how absurd it is. It's one of those things that works best as an anime setup when left unchallenged.

Amuro
Amuro is in both of these spinoffs.

Disappointingly, there were also a couple of recent Detective Conan spinoffs which are sort of terrible. Meitantei Conan: Keisaku Gakkou Hen (Detective Conan: Wild Police Story) runs in place of regular Detective Conan episodes and features tales of some of the side characters from the main series during their time in the police academy. It's not unwatchable, but it's certainly not good, even as a series intended for small children.

Amuro
This car looks pretty good considering how often it gets fucked up.

Detective Conan: Zero's Tea Time ran on its own and consisted of six half-length episodes centered around Amuro. It, like Wild Police Story, is an adaptation of a spin-off manga, but I found its six episodes entirely pointless. I guess they were better than the Wild Police Story episodes, but I can only imagine Amuro has a lot more fans than I realized. Hopefully, it at least made some good people some money.

Dated 12 August 2021: Sonny Boy is carrying the Summer 2021 anime season

Nagara, Mizuho, Tora, and Nozomi
Don't ask the cat. The cat won't tell you.

I decided to watch Sonny Boy because it's an original anime and the promotional art featured a girl holding a cat in a weird way. Then it turned out there wasn't really much else from the Summer 2021 anime season that interested me aside from some sequels and continuations. I don't like to characterize anime seasons as being bad, but this season is much less good than most of its predecessors.

Rajdhani
I can't believe so many of the boys are still wearing their ties.

Thankfully, Sonny Boy turned out to offer just the right amount of weirdness to keep me interested. I'm not sure if it will all come together at the end, but it's intriguing in the sort of way that should work if there's an actual planned conclusion. I'm at least confident it won't get dragged out for years like, uh, some American television shows I could name.

Cap and Asakaze
Asakaze got over this way faster than I would have.

After four episodes, I don't honestly know what's going on. Maybe today's episode will clear things up, but I'm not counting on it. On the plus side, I don't really feel the need for the series to explain what it's doing. Even if there aren't actually any clues I'm supposed to be stringing together, it's nice just to have something a little surreal every once in a while.

Nagara and Nozomi
I'm a big fan of lying down doing nothing, but ya gotta get up sometimes.

Really, the only genuine issue I have is that I'm approaching my limit with regard to Potato-kun being a fucking dishrag with no motivation, no interests or desires, and no charisma. I don't know why anime dudes have gotta always be this way (if they're not overly intense spazzes who shout all their lines), but it's not great. On the plus side, the girl who was holding a cat weird in the promo art is fantastic.

Dated 27 July 2021: I dropped Aquatope before I learned how to pronounce it

Fuuka
It's hard work, but at least you get to smell like fish all the time now.

I'm guessing Shiroi Suna no Aquatope (Aquatope of White Sand) is pronounced "aqua taupe," but I suppose it's possibly "aqua toe pay." In any case, the show is fine, and looks really nice, but I lost interest in it pretty much just as I did with Sakura Quest, another P.A. Works series about working girls (not those sorts of working girls, okay). Objectively, I guess there's nothing Aquatope really did wrong. (I guess it would have helped had I been invested in the childbirth sequence in some way.) It's just not really my sort of thing.

Shino
Shiho may or may not have kicked a giant mouse in the butt.

I admit I was more interested in Aquatope's nefarious internal idol politics (as I was with Wake Up, Girls!) than I was in failing-aquarium moé. Presumably, that aspect will re-appear at some point, since it's a two-cours series, but it's not enough to keep me watching it week-to-week, either. This does mean I'm currently down to five and two-thirds shows to watch this season. That's low enough that I watched all of last season's Odd Taxi in, like, 48 hours. It turns out it's really good. And it totally has nefarious internal idol politics. And how.

Dated 15 June 2021: There are more than a thousand episodes of Detective Conan now

Conan
I wonder if Conan has ever accidentally put that thing through the wash.

Meitantei Conan crossed the 1000-episode threshold during the Winter 2021 anime season. Not counting the season it skipped due to Covid, Detective Conan churns out about nine or 10 new episodes each cours. Predicated on the assumption that the quality of these episodes remains basically constant, I have been using the series as a sort of control against which I measure my subjective impressions of the relative quality of seasonal anime. Theoretically, this will allow me to determine whether I am getting more jaded over time (or softer, as it were).

Kogoro and Conan
I do think it's odd when anime kids are drawn the size of literal babies.

In practice, I'm not sure this has worked out. This is not to say that the quality of Detective Conan episodes have declined necessarily, but the anime-original ones do seem less clever than I remember. And I think there are proportionally more anime-original episodes now. (I haven't actually compared seasons to see for sure.) I guess it ain't easy constantly coming up with new mysteries. The standalone cases based on the manga still seem fine, though.

Kogoro
What happens to the darts? I've never seen Conan retrieve one.

Incidentally, the various actual plot lines of the franchise have made some progress, but they advance slowly, as you might expect of such a long-running series. I don't have any issue with the pace, to tell you the truth, but I do wish the series was willing to explore new gimmicks instead of relying on the exact same ones from a thousand episodes ago. Being drugged so often surely can't be good for Kogorou or Sonoko. For that matter, does Conan use the exact same tranquilizer darts on a teenage girl that he uses on an alcoholic middle-aged man? It seems as if the doses required would be dissimilar. Detective Conan is going to end with Shinichi in prison.