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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 14 February 2018: iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA is a classic story about a teenage girl and her giant robot finding true love together

Haruka and Imber
Shameless flirting.

I was a stranger to the iDOLM@STER franchise the first time I watched iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA. I mentioned this before, but perhaps I should have noted I was also mystified by the amount of hostility displayed by some fans of the original games (arcade and Japanese Xbox 360 exclusive) toward Xenoglossia when the anime came out in 2007. Although I understood in principle the objections fans would have concerning the different character designs and replaced voices, I was not personally invested in any of the characters, so some of the more venomous attacks seemed excessive. Moreover, the character designs looked fine to me, at least relative to other anime of the period and Sunrise shows in particular. I finally watched my DVDs over the past few months, and actually enjoyed Xenoglossia a lot more on re-watch than I did during its initial broadcast, despite having a better understanding now of THE iDOLM@STER as a whole. Or maybe I like Xenoglossia more because I've watched several cours of bona fide iDOLM@STER anime now, not "despite" watching them.

Iori
Yukarin Iori with purple hair is good too.

Still, I'm not quite sure how I would characterize iDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA. It's not really much of a giant robot show for a show about giant robots, and it's not an idol anime despite having (regular-type) idols and iDOLs in it. It's not a "cute girls doing cute things" show, nor is it an early example of the more recent phenomenon where anime girls band together to be really excited about some typically male-dominated activity, like Bakuon!! or Two Car or GIRLS und PANZER. Honestly, it really is a love story about a teenage girl and her much older robot boyfriend. Notably, the affection Haruka develops for Imber is not at all unusual, as all of the other pilots also develop complex feelings toward their robots as well. In fact, jealousy plays a huge role in the plot, as do the inevitable love triangles.

Azusa
Also, Xenoglossia Azusa > regular Azusa.

IDOLM@STER XENOGLOSSIA does not take itself too seriously, but does not devolve into camp either. I buy into the HARUKA X IMBER pairing enough to believe there should be real questions raised about the ED once its setting becomes clear. I also enjoy the romance enough that I think I like the Xenoglossia Haruka more than I like the regular Haruka. Not that there's anything wrong with the regular Haruka necessarily, but I like the Xenoglossia Haruka's attitude better. Perhaps it's because she comes across as more of a main character in her own show, while the "real" Haruka necessarily seems more like a token default protagonist in a franchise with an ensemble cast, must the way I regard Miyafuji in Strike Witches or ol' Bucky in the Kantai Collection anime. I don't know if true fans of THE iDOLM@STER will ever regard Xenoglossia as positively as I do—the different voices must be especially jarring for them—but perhaps they'll come to appreciate the series if they think of it as one of those in-universe television programs the iM@S characters themselves occasionally feature in as actresses.

Dated 25 September 2017: Love Live! Sunshine!! was better the second time around

Yohane
Yohane's hairball is fuckin' fake.

I watched Love Live! Sunshine!! without watching (all of) First Love Live and thought it was all right, but not great. Having watching all of Love Live! School Idol Project now, I re-watched Sunshine to see if being able to contextualize the show would make me like it better. Well, I do like it more, but it's still mostly just all right, and still not great. To be honest, I can't tell if I like it more thanks to knowing more about the franchise as a whole, or if it's because of the solid barrage of You cheesecake pictures on the Twitter over the past year. Incidentally, Maki > Nico > Yohane > Hanamaru > Kotori > Kanan > You > Umi > Hanayo > Riko > Chika > Yoshiko > Eli > Honoka > Mari > Dia > Nozomi > Rin.

Leah, Yoshiko, Hanamaru, and Ruby
Airborne idol, airborne idol, where have you been?

Naturally, as with A-RISE before them, I absolutely favor Saint Snow over Aqours as far as their idol-type credibility goes. Saint Snow only has one song, but two different arrangements appear in the show, and it is an actual duet with two people singing simultaneously (as opposed to sequentially, which seems to be the more common practice in these idol-type tunes). Really, though, my main reasons for liking Saint Snow are because everyone says their name with such overly dramatic awe (SAAAINT SNOOOWW!) and because half of Saint Snow ninja flipped over Aquors for no goddamn reason when they first met other than to show them that she could. What's not to love?

Dated 19 December 2016: Bubuki Buranki is best if you've seen it already

Kinoa, Shizuru, and Kogane
Also, the faces are top-rate.

The first time I watched the first season Bubuki Buranki, I didn't think it was very good. It wasn't until after Epizo's introduction that the show really clicked for me, although I enjoyed the fight between Kinoa and her ex-boyfriend during which his attacks consisted entirely of literal flashbacks to their Meet Cute and early relationship. Upon re-watching the first season, though, I loved the show and its absurd excuses to feature giant robots punching things at the whim of angry teenagers making faces. Perhaps I was just late in appreciating the motivations and relationships among the various factions.

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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 16 September 2015: First Pretty Cure, Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart, and Splash Star

Cure Black and Cure White.
This merchandise prints money, girls. At least pretend to be excited.

I recently re-watched the original Futari wa Pretty Cure (hereinafter First Precure), Futari wa Pretty Cure Max Heart, and Futari wa Pretty Cure Splash Star. I.e., the first three years of the franchise, consisting of nearly 150 episodes plus three movies. Anyone who has been paying attention likely already knows I consider First Precure to be the best overall series of this mahou shoujo juggernaut and Splash Star to be the most underrated one. Admittedly, to some degree, much of this is due to nostalgia glasses and a not-so-subtle attempt to trumpet ground-floor-fan cred, but these first two generations of Cures really are good in ways unique to Pretty Cure as a whole—ways we're not likely to see again.

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Dated 4 June 2015: Girls-with-guns trilogy re-watching project complete, or, Bee Train be the bee trainiest

Noir discs and merchandise
Noir DVDs and Blu-rays. Also pictured: Some random
swag that RightStuf was trying to unload.

I fuckin' love Noir. You'll know this if you've read some of my old ass blog posts on the series—ones I've been meaning to import into WordPress for like, years. You'll also know this if you follow me on The Twitter, as I recently completed my Bee Train girls-with-guns trilogy re-watching project. This was inspired by my acquisition of Noir Blu-rays which, conveniently, are a Hell of a bargain. I also had Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja DVDs which I had previously purchased but never got around to watching. As you can see from the picture above, I already had the Noir DVD box set (which came with a Kirika t-shirt), but the Blu-rays are still a great deal even for fans who already have the DVDs.

Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja DVDs
I probably should have used a picture of Elenore here instead.

I've already re-watched Noir at least twice in the past 12 years or so, but this was my first time re-watching Madlax and El Cazador de la Bruja. Noir holds up if you're already okay with the incredible feats they pull off. For example, basically every shot Kirika ever fires results in an instant kill. She's shooting .380 ACP ball ammo for crying out loud. Of course, considering some of the feats she accomplishes during the course of the show, I'm reasonably certain Kirika could find a way to instantaneously kill a room full of Soldats flunkies using a package of Q-Tips. Neither Madlax nor El Cazador de la Bruja are quite as good as I remember though, and I didn't think they were that great to begin with. Madlax at least benefits from one of best anime maids of all time, but El Cazador is sort of dreadful to marathon.

Dated 26 January 2014: At least Cosprayers isn't WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS

Miko Reiya
You'd be angry too.

It is the 10-year anniversary of Chō Henshin Cos ∞ Prayer (also known as The Cosmopolitan Prayers, or more simply Cosprayers among assorted invectives). Frequent readers of this blog may recognize the curse "WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS" which I've exclaimed on occasion to underscore particularly lousy anime. But just how bad is Cosprayers? Is it possible I didn't give the show enough credit when I watched it all those years ago? After all, it's quite common for anime fans to stubbornly dismiss shows based on a bad first impression and then adamantly adhere to these preconceived notions regardless of other arguments to the contrary. Is it possible Cosprayers is at least "ironically" good, or maybe even so avante-garde for its time that I, as a nascent anime fan, failed to recognize its brilliance? I guess there's only one way to find out.

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