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Dated 12 May 2020: Log Horizon isn't funny

Minori and Akatsuki
Minori and Akatsuki realize they are rivals.

I finished my re-watch of Log Horizon. It did not go as well as I was expecting. I remembered liking the series more in the past. Objectively, this is still true. I know this because I keep track of my ratings for individual anime episodes on a spreadsheet. (This was originally a joke, but then I kept doing it. See this, for example.) So I can technically quantify numerically specifically how much liked the series more in the past, even though I didn't score the second season very high to begin with. In any case, I liked the series less overall the second time around. That's not doing the upcoming third season any favors. There are two basic problems I have with the anime.

Lenessia and Crusty
You know you like it.

First, none of the jokes work for me. This includes the recurring gags involving Naotsugu and Akatsuki. There wasn't a reason to repeat them beyond the first episode. Then Tetora shows up in the second season. And fuuuck, Tetora is not amusing. None of those jokes work either. The other problem is the inverse relationship between the characters' reported ages and the maturity levels of their behavior. Well, at least that's the way it seems for the girls.

Nyanta and Serara
I seriously thought Serara was 12.

The worst offenders are Marielle (28), Henrietta (28), and Serara (16). Marielle is whiny and petulant, constantly throwing literal tantrums about the work she has to do. (She's sort of in charge.) Henrietta is obsessed with molesting Akatsuki and does so at every opportunity. Serara is the nekosexual girl who really, really, really likes Nyanta. All of these characters and their behavior are played for laughs. None of it is funny. On the other hand, Minori is only 14, and the princess who ends up saving her kingdom when the men in charge couldn't get their shit together is only 15. Presumably they'll be older during season three, though. Maybe they'll become less mature in keeping with the rest of the show.

Dated 28 April 2020: Tamayomi v. Major 2nd S2

Yomi
I don't know why she's wearing a Suzuki hat.

Based on the promotional materials leading up to the Spring 2020 anime season, I expected Tamayomi to be a show more about "cute girls doing cute things" than a show about baseball. Its source material is a Manga Time Kirara property, and besides, the characters play in shorts. Sure enough, the series turned out to be more about friendship and fan-service lesbianism than baseball. It's not a bad series, although it helps to really enjoy that sort of show. The baseball parts were also depicted reasonably well. Unfortunately, production levels were never especially high, and started declining immediately. By episode four, the animation had all but collapsed, presumably at least partially due to impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Anita, Chisato, Seira, Sakura, Yayoi, Tao, Akira
They're gonna need more players.

Having watched the previous seven seasons of Major, I was much more confident about Major 2nd S2. Through the first four episodes, it has turned out to be as good as I was expecting. I was also pleasantly surprised by its focus on female characters. Girls playing baseball have appeared in previous installments of Major fairly often, but they've always been the minority. However, season two of Major 2nd is about a team that has six girls in the starting lineup. There are only nine players so far, so it's unclear where this will go from here, but it's a welcome new direction for the franchise. Unfortunately, production has stalled due to the pandemic, with no date announced yet for its return.

Tamaki and Yomi
Financial questions aside, Tamayomi should probably go on hiatus.

Curiously, I don't believe Tamayomi has announced any planned delays yet, although it probably should. Episode four was dire. I'm not especially confident episode five will fare much better. In any case, I've already dropped the show. I'm not specifically dropping it because of the animation, although that certainly isn't helping. Rather, I just don't find the show particularly compelling, and there are plenty of other titles in my backlog I could be watching instead. (See this post for more on that.)

Dated 21 April 2020: Something something DATABASE [or] re-watching Log Horizon

Shiroe
That collar would be so uncomfortable

Log Horizon is much, much better than typical isekai fare. However, as an anime, it's perhaps not as entertaining as people make it out to be. I suspect it's probably better as a book. This is my second time watching the anime, and I like it about the same now as I did originally, but there are definitely parts of it I find less interesting than others. There is a lot of info-dumping, for example, and there are a few arcs that I simply don't care about, such as kids learning the hard way how to be adventurers because nobody will listen to Minori.

Isuzu
I guess he's fine when he doesn't talk.

With regard to that particular arc, Log Horizon deliberately made the boys shounen-type dipshits in order to make Minori a more sympathetic character. I guess it's working, because Minori is the only member of that party I care about. I appreciate that Rudy has an actual character arc, but he was way too annoying in the beginning. It was unrecoverable. It also helped that Shiroe reached out to Minori instead of her brother when the two of them were slaves in an MMORPG sweatshop. I guess he liked her better, too.

Minori
Minori getting shit done.

The mentoring Shiroe provides to Minori, her shounen-type dipshit brother, and other characters does make Shiroe more likable. Most fans of the show point to Shiroe's various schemes and plans when identifying his attributes, but I think those are less important than his penchant for helping people. I mean, the craftiness is neat, too, but I think that aspect gets overstated when fans highlight the elements that differentiate Log Horizon from other isekai anime. The problem is you'll run up against a bunch of questions you're meant to ignore if you think too hard about how those plans of his work out. In comparison, despite being simple and straightforward, the mentoring thing remains compelling because other shows often try to prop up their protagonists by focusing on how great they are at everything. (For example, consider Kirito from Sword Art Online.) Conversely, Shiroe's whole shtick is that he makes other people better.

Henrietta and Akatsuki
Henrietta's relentless harassment is fine because they're both girls, right?

There are a lot of characters in Log Horizon, and I like most of the ones who are not shounen-type dipshits, but I could do without the jokes some of them are stuck with. For example, every gag involving Akatsuki. It's a shame, because I'd probably like Akatsuki quite a bit without them. She's at least a fan favorite even despite those tired jokes.

Lenessia
They definitely just wanted to dress up the princess in ridiculous clothes.

I do wish Log Horizon explored the NPCs more, though. I'm more interested in how they handle sharing their world with immortal superbeings. The show does address this to some degree, but still think it deserves more attention. Perhaps there is a stronger focus on this in the books, and I'll get my wish when season three starts in October. Well, if it starts in October. Just don't put all the attention on shounen-type dipshit NPCs, okay.

Dated 10 December 2019: The Beretta M1934, Kirika's pistol in Noir

Noir ED
MiniDiscs are rad, okay.

Fans of Noir, the BeeTrain anime from 2001, probably noticed the inverse relationship between the generally accepted lethality of a weapon and how dangerous its wielder tends to be. For example, a character armed with an expensive SIG Sauer pistol is probably just some flunkie from Soldats who will die faster than a Star Trek redshirt. On the other hand, a tiny Japanese girl armed with her school ID is definitely someone you do not want to fuck with. Like, not even a little bit.

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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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