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Dated 22 September 2013: Mamiko is better than ever

Kaminaga
Oh. So that's why Hato is so broken.

I have been very impressed with the work of Noto Mamiko this season. She has always been one of my favorites, although I prefer her DARK MAMIKO voice to her soft Shimako types for which she is better known. I was starting to fear that she had been relegated to playing matronly characters as a step towards retirement (voluntary or otherwise). However, she blazed across Genshiken Nidaime at full boost in episode 10 as Hato's old senpai—a minor character, but a powerful one nevertheless.

Benten
She's not even afraid of lightning striking her umbrella.

More significantly, her work as Suzuki "Benten" Satomi in Uchouten Kazoku has been MAMIKORE. She's a capricious sex bomb who is too dangerous to be challenged. The presence she lends to the character is particularly pronounced considering how few other female characters there are in the show. She's quite a contrast with both the young (and predictably precocious) Kaisei and with the crossdressing tanuki mom who seems to arouse middle-aged human and tanuki males alike. Benten, though, seems capable of terrifying basically everyone with little effort. Maybe it's because she's not afraid of thunder.

Dated 27 July 2013: Uchouten Kazoku and Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu are about the worlds you don't see

Yasaburou
Nice boat.

Those of you who know where to find my current rankings may notice that I'm discussing these shows out of order. However, I have a reason for grouping these two dissimilar shows: They invoke mysticism and apply fantasy to otherwise normal settings. Uchouten Kazoku (The Eccentric Family) is about a family of tanuki and their dealings with tengu and other mythical creatures in an otherwise human-dominated world. C3-bu (pronounced "See Cubed" in favor of a thickly accented pun rather than the military acronym "See Three") is about an airsoft club at an upscale girls' school. The socially uncomfortable Yura falls in with a group of weirdos who teach her the Way of Airsoft.

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Dated 22 April 2013: Spring 2013: I've dropped six shows already

Iwai
Hair Pornography ~The Animation~.

Remember when I said I drop fewer shows these days because I'm less likely to start something I'm not sure I'll enjoy? Yeah, that went out the window this season. At present, I am following eight currently airing shows (not counting Detective Conan) and have already given up on six other shows. Specifically, I've stopped watching Red Data Girl, Dansi Bunri Crime Edge, Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru, Photokano, and Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko.

Izumiko
Those are some glasses.

There's not anything particularly wrong with Red Data Girl, except that I just didn't find it very interesting. It's the kind of show that requires some commitment on the part of the viewer to actively attempt to unravel the intricacies during the journey to some final revelation, but I just can't quite seem to care about the spirits and folklore. I feel as if I should be watching it on general principle, since it is different from the usual retreads and low-brow fare. I gave up after episode three, but I'll start it up again if I hear enough people insist that Red Data Girl turns out to be incredible later. Oh, and I guess technically it's called RDG Red Data Girl.

Iwai and Kiri
At least he was careful with the scissors.

Dansi Bunri Crime Edge is preposterous. I knew that ahead of time, but it really is just too silly for me to continue watching. I guess the problem is it is silly-stupid not silly-funny. For example, Valvrave the Liberator is also silly, but I'm still watching it because it leans towards silly-funny. And while Dansi Bunri Crime Edge does not take itself entirely seriously, there is a certain lack of bemusement as the characters experience events that are simply ridiculous, even in a setting as absurd as the Crime Edge one. I gave up after episode three even though I'm a big fan of hair porn.

Muromi
Muromi is sort of racist.

I stopped watching Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san for no particular reason except that it just wasn't my sort of thing. I mean, it's fine, but you sort of have to be in the mood for its jokes to work. Being a half-length show, it doesn't exactly require much of a commitment to begin with, but I don't really feel like watching a show about wacky mermaid antics every week. Three episodes was enough.

Miura
Yumiko Miura and Fate Testarossa should hang out.

I can't help but think of Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru as a Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai clone. This is probably because I dropped Bokutomo about the same time people started to act insufferably superior for truncating it as Haganai instead. So I've only a superficial understanding of I Don't Have Many Friends to begin with. Because RomCom SNAFU—or whatever nonsense we're supposed to call Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru—also features a club of self-described loners, watching it makes me think I've been tricked into resuming a series I abandoned in 2011. Worse yet, I at least sort of still liked the Bokunai characters when I dropped the show. With Yahari Something Something, I definitely like the "popular" twats in the school a lot more than our unsociable, bitter, cynical protagonists. I managed three episodes.

Takashi and Itta
I was already prepared to despise these guys on general principle.

I wanted to like Photokano. All it needed to do was sort of be like Amagami SS with just a little bit of a spine and the solid cast of seiyuu would sort the rest out. How bad could it be? I'm going to break from my normal position here to directly mention some spoilers, but rest easy that they are only spoilers if you are really new to anime, because Photokano doesn't break any new ground—or at least it didn't during its first three episodes. First of all, Potato-kun is only an aspiring photographer because his father gave him his old digital SLR. He's not someone with an actual interest in photography, such as Kosuda from B Gata H Kei. It turns out there are two photography-related clubs at his school: One's a group of irritating asshole stalkers, and the other is comprised of probably-pretty-cool girls. Guess which club Potato-kun joins? Go on. Guess. These other guys in his club have the dubious distinction of being even more annoying than the yahoos in Kaoru's photography club from Ai Yori Aoshi. At least Kaoru's club had a guy obsessed with trains.

Haruka, Takashi, Kazya, and Itta
Those are some contrivances.

Photokano also basks in the most tired and unlikely anime cliches, such as the mid-air collision kiss. The Ga Rei manga featured a mid-air collision kiss, but it presented it as an absurd chain of events for comedic effect. In Photokano, the incident is without irony and offered as just one of those serendipitous (?) moments caused by the irregular rules of anime gravity. I should have figured out before the three-episode mark that I would be better off just waiting for other people to post Photokano screenshots instead of actually watching the show.

Azusa, Youta, and Tsukiko
You are a craven douche, Potato-kun.

I knew I would drop Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko because I was unimpressed with the manga. If anything, the anime is worse because Potato-kun is annoying as all get-out. Not only is he one of those anime characters who flusters extremely easily, causing him to yammer excitedly in a wet panic, he's excruciatingly voiced by Kaji Yuki (the pig from Accel World), who is already bad enough as Ellen in the (otherwise excellent) Shingeki no Kyoujin. I acknowledge that Henneko is remarkably popular, but surely its fans simply have much higher Kaji Yuki tolerances than I do, or they're drawn to the flat (ha! I kill me) expressionless girl. Yukarin is in this too, but she's wasted here in my opinion. I only managed two episodes.

Dated 16 October 2012: Summer 2012 season summary

Asuna triple-monitor desktop
This was a proof of concept that I will never use
again (because I bought a fourth monitor).

I get the sense I wasn't exposed to a large portion of the shows that aired this season—an obvious consequence of not watching all that much compared to past seasons. Nevertheless, I'm not convinced I actually missed anything, although I do admit a curious fascination with Sword Art Online (despite the profoundly negative reactions to its cour-ending climax). I haven't yet watched a single minute of it, but I have read the first four volumes of the light novels (which I'm expecting the first two cours to cover). Learning that Kajiura Yuki is providing the music has put the show over the top, and I'll probably marathon the summer 2012 segment to catch up with the autumn 2012 episodes. Naturally, this will change my summer 2012 anime summary rankings, but it is late enough already and I can always reflect the addition with an update, so here goes:

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Dated 1 October 2012: Tari Tari > Hyouka because of the characters

Wakana and Naoko
Oh God. The doujinshi.

Perhaps I haven't been particularly forthcoming about this, but the most important aspect of a show to me often tends to be its characters, or rather, how well I like its characters. I'll forgive lousy animation, stupid plots, and poor contrivances as long as I like the characters. This is not to say either Tari Tari or Hyouka necessarily suffer from any of these flaws, but it may explain what some people consider inexplicable and inconsistent tolerances on my part when it comes to these sorts of shortcomings.

Sawa
LISTEN TO MY SONG!

However, I did considerably like Tari Tari more than Hyouka because none of the characters in Hyouka resonated with me. I can respect that Kyoto Animation flexed its muscles a bit with Hyouka and genuinely committed itself to making a standout series over the past two cours, but all the layered depth and unspoken motivations, and developing relationships in that "SHAFT series with money" could not compete with Konatsu's dork rays, Sawa's unwitting-sex-bomb powers, and the refreshingly unstarchy comedy stylings of Wien and Taichi. Wakana deserves special mention as the sometimes emotional, sometimes dead inside, frequently mortified sweet kid cornerstone of an admittedly oftentimes conventional cast.

Wakana
SPHERE POWERS UNLEASHED!

This is rather qualified praise for Tari Tari, and I concede Hyouka will likely be remembered better (and longer) in the years to come, but Tari Tari succeeds because it is basically is a P.A. Works layup of the sort J.C. Staff used to be able to accomplish reliably. Tari Tari is less ambitious, but it combines (harmonizes?) its different parts well (like a chorus?) with just a touch of quirkiness (and sometimes badminton) to keep things lively. It worked for me. I liked basically every character, even the foppish principal and the assortment of comically evil antagonists such as bitter Big C, the former best friend of Wakana's dead flibbertigibbet mom. I can't quite make the same claim for Hyouka. At the end of the day, I don't really care what happens to Mayaka and Satoshi, or whether Chitanda succeeds in ruining Houtarou's life.

Houtarou and Chitanda
At least Hyouka fans seemed satisfied by its non-ending ending.

What if it turns out I like the characters better because I like the show better, and not the other way around like I've been saying? I guess there's not really a conclusive way of knowing. I admit Hyouka's overt attempts at adding stylized animation for the sake of "look at me!" visual flair's sake annoyed me because I found it so intrusive, whereas Tari Tari is chock-full of audible cues in the form of sudden small cries and startled noises that I found endearing because I get the feeling I was not supposed to notice them. Perhaps I would have liked the characters in Hyouka had they been, say, more conventional J.C. Staff properties. It's a mystery.

Dated 5 August 2012: Added Tari Tari to summer 2012 watchlist

Konatsu
Those are some headphones.

The Ayako Doctrine strikes again. Pre-season information about Tari Tari suggested it was inoffensive light fare that sounded all right, but didn't interest me especially. But due to the relatively low number of shows I was following this season, I started looking for other shows that received positive first impressions from other viewers. I'm not entirely sure it qualifies as a positive impression, but apparently a lot of people were taken by Wakana's "I DON'T MONEY" Engrish in an early episode. Further investigation inspired by that discovery led to learning Kawasumi Ayako is in the cast. Well, consider the Ayako Doctrine fully invoked. (Discovering Noto Mamiko on the cast was a pleasant surprise as well.)

Sawa
As far as I know, Sawa is not a zombie.

Through five episodes, Tari Tari is whimsical when it needs to be, serious at appropriate times, and charming with its medley of characters. Taken as a whole, I'm not sure I can call Tari Tari a legitimately good show, although it has passed Humanity Has Declined as my current favorite show. I'm not entire sure why that is, but there are a lot of individual parts of Tari Tari that I enjoy quite a good deal, and together they create the impression that the show is good, even if the jury is still out on that verdict.

Wakana
Those are some glasses.

That is, if I like enough different parts of a show, does that mean I like the show itself? I like that Sawa seems to be better than everyone else at everything she sets her mind to. I like that Wakana still struggles with the regrets she carries about her mother's death, but makes real efforts at moving on. I like that Wakana's ridiculous flibbertigibbet mom died early in Wakana's life instead of turning into another one of those "cool" but hopeless, worthless mothers who force their anime children to become precociously dependable and mature. (Mamiko-type "cool" mom gets a pass because her extracurricular activities do not appear to interfere with her traditional gender-typed role and responsibilities as a mother.) I like that Wien is an expatriate who has become a stranger in his native land forced to rely on his Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook, and I like that Daichi is an almost pathologically driven athlete dedicated to a sport nobody else at his school cares about. And I like that Konatsu choked so hard she became a Nico Video celebrity. And I like that the choir director is a real cunt. I'm still waiting for Wakana to break out her secret Sphere powers, though.

Dated 3 June 2012: I bought an Olympus PEN series camera because of Canaan

Olympus PEN E-P1
People who subscribe to the RSS feed saw this already.

For a digital camera, the Olympus PEN E-P1 is quite old already—practically ancient. It doesn't even have a built-in flash, and there are a number of four-thirds cameras that are quite a bit better. Nevertheless, I bought one anyway because it was pretty inexpensive and being "ancient" was part of its appeal.

Maria
That coat won't shelter your camera or your idiot hair, Maria.

I almost certainly chose the E-P1, however, because it is the modern equivalent of the Olympus Pen series half-frame 35mm camera depicted prominently in Canaan. As an anime series, Canaan is pretty flawed, but I guess as a product placement vehicle it's fairly effective. I could also go for some Pizza Hut right about now.

Dated 13 October 2011: That is a pretty awesome plushie

"I also loved how Minko still had that sushi plushie that Tohru won. Oh, if only he had gone for the tentacle!"
seaslugteam.com

Wait, what?

Minko and Tohru
Minko's sushi plushie from Hanasaku Iroha episode 12.

Nako and Minko
Minko's sushi plushie from Hanasaku Iroha episode 26.

Well, I'll be damned. I didn't notice. The pattern is different, though.