Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 17 August 2016: Masou Gakuen HxH is not the second coming of Seikon no Qwaser

Hayuru
Masou Gakuen HxH leads off the first episode with the Japanese girl in a cold open.

Although trashy fan service shows aren't exactly rare, the full-on, uncensored, blatantly gratuitous ones aren't particularly common either. In recent memory, there was Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid (which I haven't seen yet), and the ever-popular High School DxD series (which is relatively tame as far as these sorts of things go). This season, we have Masou Gakuen HxH (Hybrid x Heart Magias Academy Ataraxia) which is sort of like IS: Infinite Stratos except that in Masou Gakuen, Potato-kun's purpose is to recharge the girls' fighting ability through the power of arousal rather than just standing around wondering why they're all angry with him.

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Dated 25 September 2015: Problems with an Evangelion release? It's deja vu all over again

Title card reading おかえりなさい
Tadaima.

I caught the news on The Twitter that there are problems with the Neon Genesis Evangelion Blu-ray box and the DVD box. Here is the Starchild notice and details for a disc exchange. Thankfully, I consider this a non-issue. I imported the Blu-ray set, and if the only problem is one incorrect eyecatch, I'm good with it. The DVD error doesn't seem too bad, either. At least it's not bad enough to hazard an out-of-country disc exchange if you ask me. I'm guessing anyone in that situation who would have cared probably imported the Blu-ray set instead of the DVD one anyway.

Lilith and Rei
This is about where the layer change occurs on the 2002 DVD.

However, this incident does remind me of the botched Region 1 DVD release of The End of Evangelion 13 years ago. I was somewhat annoyed at the time, but the incident did at least provide me with my greatest moment as an Evangelion fan. I had purchased my defective DVD at a local Best Buy electronics establishment, and the store was good enough to allow me to exchange the disc for a new one. However, there was no way to know ahead of time whether or not my replacement disc would also suffer the same problems. Best Buy's Customer Service department (located at the very front of the enormous store) agreed to test the replacement DVD to see if the video would freeze at the layer change. Sure enough, it did, and we had to repeat the process at least once before I got a working disc. What this means is a busy Best Buy prominently displayed a levitating nude blue-haired anime girl on the overhead display televisions at the front of its store over and over again for reasons important to me, but likely entirely perplexing to the rest of the customers.

Dated 12 November 2014: Magic Kaito 1412 and Detective Conan

Kaito
This heist might be a little too easy.

Because the manga dates back to 1987, Magic Kaito actually predates Detective Conan, although its kohei quickly overshadowed it. Kaito occasionally makes guest appearances on Detective Conan, and, in fact, got 12 excellent Magic Kaito specials of his own spread amongst the Detective Conan broadcasts between 2010 to 2012. These re-tell the origin of Kaito Kid and probably tested the waters for a standalone series. The new television series which began autumn 2014 retreads a lot of familiar ground, but includes a few cast and story changes (and different character designs compared to the Detective Conan appearances). It airs in the half-hour family slot immediately preceding the weekly broadcast of Detective Conan

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Dated 12 December 2012: The fourth monitor

Yuuko
The original plan was six monitors. Now it seems excessive.

There's a space because that's where I mounted the center speaker.

There's a Chihaya because I didn't have another suitable image of Yuuko handy, at least not in 1920x1200.

[Update 2: I hid the previous three-monitor setup so well I forgot about it.]

[Update 3: All four monitors are 24" 1920x1200 IPS panels. One Dell U2410 (good monitor, but I hate the control buttons so much), one HP ZR24w (which won't do 1:1 1080, by the way), and two Dell U2412.]

[Update 4: Minor adjustment.]

Ayanami desk

Dated 26 July 2012: Velvet Kiss volume one acquired

Velvet Kiss and Sailor V
Behold! my Velvet Kiss and Codename: Sailor V purchases.
Not sure I understand why Velvet Kiss is shrink-wrapped
to protect the innocent while Codename: Sailor V is not.

I received my copy of Velvet Kiss from Amazon.com. I gave this title one of my rare recommendations back in February before the series ended. Members of the scanlation team contributed to the official licensed copy, and the result is a more professional, polished product that reads more naturally and gives the reader a better initial understanding of the dynamics among all the characters' interactions. Technically, this is porn, but really Velvet Kiss should be viewed as as merely (?) an unconventional romance that just happens to include nudity and sex acts at least once per chapter. I suppose that description might make it a difficult sell with more subdued readers, but Velvet Kiss is really well done and I'd like to see it succeed in the English-language market.

Aa! Megami-sama, Velvet Kiss, and Lovely Complex
Oh My Goddess!, Velvet Kiss, and Lovely Complex size comparisons.

One additional note: As you can see from the pictures above, Digital Manga publishes Velvet Kiss in the same large format used by (for example) Bunny Drop. This is satisfyingly larger than the more common size still used for most American releases, to include the Sailor Moon re-release and Kimi ni Todoke, which in turn is already larger than the typical Japanese manga tankoubon.

Dated 19 July 2012: Iriya's Sky, Summer of Re-Runs

Ryosuke and Risara
This blog post is presented in Feel-A-Round.

Summer 2012 is shaping up to be a quiet season of anime for me. Aside from shows continuing from spring 2012, not much from the current season interests me. This might be the quarter where I catch up on my re-watching backlog and finish reading those books on Byzantine history I've been meaning to complete. At the moment, I'm only watching Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, Smile Precure!, Binbogami ga!, AKB0048, and Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai.

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Dated 10 April 2012: Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha versus Ai Yori Aoshi, an advanced study in contrasts

Kaoru
Savage childhood beatings build character.

I lied. This is totally not a study, not advanced, and not really even about contrasts. I just wanted an excuse to dig out my Ai Yori Aoshi DVDs.

Fate and Precia
There's a 50/50 chance Fate got Precia that whip for Mother's Day.

Thanks to the flood of official_art pictures of Fate Testarossa from Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha not wearing a lot of clothes (partially due to the upcoming A's movie—the flood part anyway), I've noticed something peculiar: Fate doesn't have any scars. It seems to me she should look at lot more like Kaoru from Ai Yori Aoshi than as she's commonly depicted. Maybe it's a benefit of having magic powers.

Dated 10 February 2012: Winter 2012 update

Irino and Kuroi
Incidentally, Noto Mamiko has a very pleasant adult role in Black Rock Shooter.

Expanding upon my initial post, I've started following Black Rock Shooter, High School DxD, and I finished all VI episodes of Thermae Romae. Suite Precure♪ ended, Smile Precure! started, and I dropped Moretsu Pirates.

Yomi
It's probably a magic phone, but it bugs me that the string is not taut.

There was a lot of hype for the Black Rock Shooter OVA because the original music video was popular, but I remember fan reaction to the OVA being mixed at best. Despite airing only one episode so far, responses to the Black Rock Shooter anime series appears even more negative. I'm no fan of forced lesbian love triangles, but I still thought the OVA was all right and the television series seems decent enough so far. I appreciate how it juxtaposes everyday life with its sci-fi/fantasy world. Black Rock Shooter successfully conveys how devastating minor slights can appear to young teens. Yeah, this girl was mean to that girl, but it's not as if she stabbed her in the heart. It might feel that way, though, and I think Black Rock Shooter manages to show that in a straightforward yet imaginative way.

Lucius
Lucius stultus est! (Not really.)

I found out about Thermae Romae by accident. Its absurd premise about a Roman architect adopting Japanese bathing conventions works very well in this short, simply animated series relying heavily on reaction-shot humor.

Asia
High School DxD even has a clumsy nun.

Through five episodes, High School DxD is way better than I was expecting. It's not quite as trashy as Seikon no Qwaser or even Queen's Blade, but it is sufficiently outrageous to elevate a fanservice harem comedy to entertaining levels. It helps that Potato-kun has no trouble accepting what he is. By embracing his base nature, he comes across as much more likable despite being a cretin. Now that I think about it, High School DxD is basically a shallow fanservice harem comedy crossed with a shounen fighting series. This could work as long as it keeps the shounen jive down. (That was the biggest problem with To Aru Majutsu no Index, another harem comedy crossed with shounen fighting.) The first episode of High School DxD is nothing special, by the way. If you're curious about starting the series but hesitant about whether or not it will be a complete waste of time, I suggest starting with episode two and going back after episode three if you're still on board.

Kanade, Hibiki, Ellen, and Ako
Beginner's luck.

Suite Precure♪ is the worst series of the Pretty Cure franchise. I'll go into more detail if I ever get around to finishing my massive Pretty Cure treatise, but basically there is a direct correlation between the amount of ass kicking the Cures accomplish and the quality of the show. Suite Precure♪ is rather weak in that respect and compounds the problem with serious shortcomings in character development. I also don't like it when the struggle between Pretty Cure and their opponents is all about preserving people's feelings. Alas, that has been the trend since Fresh Pretty Cure, with no indication that Smile Precure! (the fourth straight "bad feelings are bad" series) will be any different.

Miyuki
This is basically how Nagisa was chosen as well.

Although these impressions are based on only a single episode (merely 2% of the projected total), Smile Precure! looks like it will be Yes! Precure 5 for people who never saw Yes! Precure 5. (Well, probably without the inter-species dating.) I hear the character designer is the same, the color palette is very similar, and it seems some of the personalities of the characters will be similarly color-coded. Speaking of which, I have no idea why the yellow one is so popular. I've been accused of not "getting" moé or otaku leanings, and perhaps that's true. For that matter, I don't even support the argument that "the yellow one" should have certain expected traits. I can see how someone might lump Cure Peace with Cure Lemonade and Cure Pine, but to me the "yellow Cure" archetype is Cure Bright, and Cure Bright is nothing like Cure Lemonade or Cure Pine. Cure Bright bats fourth. (Incidentally, I also disagree with grouping Shiny Luminous among "the yellows." Yeah, she's blond, but her entire outfit is pink—all pink. You have to play pretty fast and loose with the definition to insist Shiny Luminous is a yellow. It's practically racist. And this coming from someone who still thinks Cure Beat shouldn't be a Cure because she used to be a cat.)

Misa
Also, this lady's bird hair always bugged me.

I dropped Moretsu Pirates because it wasn't interesting. Send me a telegram if it turns out to be good.