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Dated 24 June 2016: Bakuon!! turned out to be the best show from Spring 2016

Yume and Hane
Hane gets by with help from her reliable imouto.

I was expecting to enjoy Bakuon!! on general principle, but I'm still surprised to see it at the top of my Spring 2016 rankings. Silly and a little irreverent, Bakuon!! is a charming show about high school girls who really like motorcycles. If you've seen much anime, you're surely familiar with the "girls really enjoy this thing" brand of moé pandering. For example, K-On! did this with guitars, GIRLS und PANZER did this with tanks, and Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai did this with incest.

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Dated 28 August 2015: I wasn't expecting a zombie apocalypse to be so aggravating

Yuki, Kurumi, and Yuuri
Kurumi is the Gakkou Gurashi! Best Girl because she's the
only one who's armed, and she's armed at all times.

I'd like to apologize for spoiling the twist and thus ruining the first episode of Gakkou Gurashi! (School-Live!) for you. I hadn't done it yet, but I've done it now, so if you didn't know already...sorry. That said, it's only a spoiler for the first episode. I learned from a season preview that this anime is actually a zombie survival story rather than a school life cute-girls-doing-cute-things morass, but I don't feel knowing this ruined the show for me. What did ruin the show for me was Yuki. I managed eight episodes before dropping School-Live! in disgust. Look, it is not cute for a high school senior to talk and act like a five-year-old child.

Yuuri, Yuki, and Miki
It's funny because she's easily amused and unable to stay on task. Also petulant.

I don't care that Yuki is supposed to be emotionally broken by the horrors she has witnessed. There are still entirely too many filler moments that serve no purpose other than to goose anime fans who enjoy the infantilization of women. See, there are flashbacks of pre-apocalypse Yuki, and she's just as fucked up there, so I presume this is her natural state. In any case, I've elected to read the manga instead of continuing to watch the anime. I simply can't identify enough enjoyable aspects unique to the anime to justify following it any longer. (The OP is sort of catchy.) Unless the manga and the anime are dramatically different, I think this is the way to go.

Dated 31 March 2013: Winter 2013 shows I dropped

Female Knight
Yes, Female Knight, these shows were aggravating.

Since I'm less likely now to start something I'm not certain I'll enjoy, I drop fewer shows these days. However, this trend apparently gets offset by my decreasing patience with shows in general, so I still dropped four shows winter 2013. Moreover, all four were fairly well-regarded by fans who aren't even disreputable. That is, the shows didn't suck; they just didn't appeal to me.

Kotori and Niko
Making faces won't help you.

The "best" show I dropped was Love Live! School Idol Project which I stopped watching after episode five. I can see why other people enjoy it, but I never cared about the characters or the plight of their school. Some of the characters have interesting traits, but I didn't find them to be interesting people. I understand that schools closing due to Japan's declining birthrates is a genuine phenomenon, but it's not a problem that resonates with me personally. Also, I may have exceeded safe school-closure dosage levels after exposure to so many shows invoking that particular plot device.

Manabe and Kotoura
Haruka is vexed by Manabe's enthusiasm again.

I dropped Kotoura-san at episode nine. This is unusual for two reasons: First, Kotoura-san is a really good show sometimes. Or at least it really has its moments. Second, after watching nine episodes of a single-cour series, I was so close to the end anyway it seems sticking it out and hoping for the best would have been a reasonable proposition. On problem with that though: Kotoura-san also annoyed the Bejesus out of me pretty frequently. Pointless cockblocking, idiotic one-note gags, and some really shitty writing offset the show's good qualities. I guess on average it's still at least okay as a whole, but it just wasn't worth it to me.

Demon King and Hero
Potato-kun in a place that that didn't even have potatoes.
Huge tracts of land, though.

It seems so long ago now, but I dropped Maoyuu Maou Yuusha at episode three. It was frankly kinda boring, and the lengths it went to in order to prevent its lead characters from becoming romantically involved were kinda ridiculous. When the season's starchiest Potato-kun isn't the high school kid in the harem comedy, but rather the skillful warrior in the fantasy epic about economics and logistics, there's a problem.

Kyouya and Shion
Go on, mister. Brush the shit out of her.

I had no interest in starting GJ-bu until maybe a couple weeks ago when its vocal fans and their adoration reached critical mass. Something about brushing girls' hair? I dunno, couldn't be that bad. The most passionate fans were particularly enamored of a character named Shion and episode five—the one where she gets her hair brushed. Okay, I guess I can watch five episodes of this thing. Well, it turns out it's not a bad show at all, but it did not appeal to me in the slightest. I guess it's because I prefer "cool," confident, and capable female characters doing things adeptly or with aplomb. Conversely, I dislike "cute" girls who are deliberately broken or inept in some fashion to appear more attractive. As a rule of thumb, I think I should just avoid anything described by other anime fans as "adorable." That seems to be a politically correct code word for "loli" or "mentally deficient" depending on whether the character in question is a small child or an adolescent. (E.g., Rikka from Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!) You may remember that I railed against K-On! for its aggravating Retard Moé shtick.

Kirara
I never did figure out why she's a cat.

However, GJ-bu wasn't so much Retard Moé as it was Autism Moé. This is not a term I coined or attached to the show, and I can't remember who said it first, but I certainly agree it is apt. These are not normal girls by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not suggesting solidly average boring girls would have been an improvement, but I'm increasingly put off by the "cute girls doing cute things" trope being extended ever further away from merely eccentric (or even neurotic) behavior towards an ideal where anime girls are basically pets or small children. This is not a new or unique criticism of moé to be sure, and I don't even have any opposition towards moé in general. I just can't enjoy the glamorization of these hopeless girl-shaped caricatures, even if they do have flaxen hair. Snow White had that too, but let's face it, she wouldn't have lasted two days alone in that forest without her benevolent animal friends.

Dated 28 October 2012: Initial impressions of the autumn 2012 season

Erwin, Caesar, Oryou, and Saemonza
This scene was awesome.

Autumn 2012 so far: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (1-4) > Smile Precure! (34-36) > Sword Art Online (15-17) > GIRLS und PANZER (1-3) > Medaka Box Abnormal (1-3) > Busou Shinki (1-4) > Aikatsu! (1-3) > Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! (1-4) > Little Busters! (1-4).

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Dated 10 August 2012: It doesn't take Meitantei Conan to figure out who killed Yui's Gitah

Mio, Mugi, Azusa, Ritsu, and Yui
Not depicted: Bewildered patrons wondering why
people keep taking pictures of these tables.

What is Anime Tourism? Is it when anime fans make pilgrimages to real-life locales depicted in anime (see, for example, the Lucky Star Hajj), or is it when anime characters venture beyond their usual stomping grounds as tourists themselves? Maybe it's both. This installment features London, England, as depicted in the K-On! movie and in a series of Detective Conan episodes from 2011.

The River Thames
The River Thames
Welcome to London. It may appear slightly different than it does in anime.

Both K-On! and Detective Conan appear to be beneficiaries of an impressive amount of meticulous research. They accurately depict their locales while making only minor changes to avoid impeding their viewers' ability to identify certain settings. Some locations are simple yet still iconic and thus were shown virtually unchanged, such as this shot of the K-On! girls in the London Underground:

Azusa, Yui, Ritsu, Mugi, and Mio
Aldgate East
Upper: Azusa, Yui, Ritsu, Mugi, and Mio at the Aldgate East station.
Lower: Actual photo from the London Underground.

Of course, simple locations are not going to impress most viewers, nor encourage much anime tourism. Contrast this with the brief shot of the Tea Time band entering The Troubadour. A few seconds of film inspired enough visitors that the management now displays a K-On! poster in the window with a Japanese-language menu alongside its awards and positive reviews.

Mio, Azusa, Mugi, Ritsu, and Yui
The Troubadour
Upper: Mio, Azusa, Mugi, Ritsu, and Yui in front of The Troubadour.
Lower: Photo of the actual coffee house on Old Brompton Road.

As you can see, inconvenient trees and light poles occasionally get removed, and the scale sometimes gets changed to better fit a scene. For example, the rooms at 221B Baker Street are much more cramped than they appear in Detective Conan.

Sherlock Holmes museum
Sherlock Holmes museum
The interior of the Sherlock Holmes museum on 221B Baker Street.

Curiously, the K-On! girls also visit 221B Baker Street and pose for a picture, but appear to blow straight through the famous Abbey Road crossing without noticing. Had it been summertime, perhaps they would have been alerted by the crowds of tourists endangering their lives and making a general nuisance of themselves by playing in traffic.

Ritsu, Mugi, Yui, Mio, and Azusa
Abbey Road
Ritsu, Mugi, Yui, Mio, and Azusa cross Abbey Road on a quiet day.

I suppose the absence of crowds is a reasonable liberty in an anime movie. Anime "filming on location" generally seems to assume a best case scenario. Although blue skies are at least plausible in Ran's case since she visited London in July, the K-On! movie's depiction of the weather over Westminster Bridge during the colder months is somewhat optimistic.

Ran
Detective Conan episode 617.
Westminster Bridge
K-On! movie.
Westminster Bridge
There aren't crowds in Ran's shot because it's 9PM.

So how is the K-On! movie itself? I don't actually like K-On!, having dropped the series early in its run, but K-On! is a juggernaut almost inescapable for anime fans. So despite only watching four of its 40 episodes, I still know quite a bit about the show and the characters (although my Twitter joke pretending to mistake Ui for Yui's mother flopped), making the movie quite accessible. I have to admit it's a good movie, and the K-On! characters are more agreeable now that they're better established. In many respects, the K-On! movie is a journey. The characters travel from Japan to London and then proceed to explore the city, but it's also a journey in the sense that the movie is very much about the graduating members of the light music club searching for the appropriate way to hand it over to Azusa. Neither are journeys the way Monster is a journey, but they effectively take advantage of the opportunities a feature-length project has to offer. There is a palpable sense of bewilderment and wonder as Mio, Mugi, Ritsu, Yui, and Azusa wander around London, and the movie presents numerous opportunities for the viewer to see and experience it from their points of view.

Jubilee Gardens
Yui
Jubilee Gardens glows with the benefit of Yui-vision.

The unusually long London arc of Detective Conan episodes in 2011 is also a journey in both these literal and metaphorical senses. With regard to the metaphorical portion, the London arc advanced a fairly significant step in the relationship between Ran and Shinichi. From the literal perspective, Conan, Kogoro, Ran, and Professor Agasa race around the city collecting clues in order to stop a mad bomber, although the transitions are not as finely executed in these moments as they are in the K-On! movie. In the Detective Conan episodes, the characters seemingly pop up at various spots the story deems appropriate. Many of these cuts lack any real consideration as to how the characters got there, and some scenes ignore minor concerns that don't actually affect the plot. For example, Ran's fortuitous encounter with Minerva Glass at the base of the Sherlock Holmes statue outside the Baker Street Underground station (around the corner and a short distance away from the entrance to the Sherlock Holmes museum) advances the story, but doesn't necessarily comport with the traveling she does that day. The K-On! movie is much better at depicting travel around the city, and ensuring the corresponding scenes are generally geographically consistent; fans could potentially recreate much of the movie by tracing Hokago Tea Time's steps.

Ritsu, Mio, Yui, Mugi, and Azusa
Steps at the end of Westminster Bridge
This scene needed more pickpockets.

So am I actively advocating Anime Tourism? You mean like going to various locations around the world such as Italy or France or, well, countless places in Japan strictly for the purpose of seeing the 3D versions of 2D sites? Well, no, but if you're going to be in the area anyway, load up some screenshots on a portable device for comparison's sake. It's an interesting exercise in augmented unreality.

Dated 26 April 2009: I dropped K-On! twice

Mio tries to wake her idiot friends
Southpaw Mio tries to wake her idiot friends.

Truth be told, I would probably enjoy K-On! were it the property of a different studio rather than Kyoto Animation. I can't help but suspect Kyoto Animation is affirmatively trying to corner the market on moe blobs. At the very least, it's pushing the retard moe agenda something fierce.

Ritsu and Mio
Mio is freakishly strong.

I can't stand K-On! because of its pandering. Not that I have anything against pandering necessarily, but K-On! pushes nauseous idioms. Let's be clear: Retard Moe is horrible. I despise Yui and Ritsu. K-On! should be about Mio and Tsumugi and the non-incapacitated members of ENOZ rocking the fuck out and maybe covering "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" in front of drunken fans.

Mio
Mio as she actually appears in the show.

Mio fan art
Mio as viewers see her.

Everyone loves Mio. She is the best character of the show. Nevertheless, I'm convinced her popularity is still inflated because viewers are suffering from Instrument Goggles. Ergo, they see her as she appears in fan art instead of as the timid and almost mousy girl in the actual show. Although I guess canonically she does still have the best rack.

Mio as a maid
Mio as a maid for no reason.

Oh, in case you were wondering, I dropped K-On! the first time after episode three because I couldn't stand Yui or Ritsu, but I grudgingly watched episode four because I wanted to know what in Hell the above picture was all about. I don't know. Maybe I'm suffering from instrument goggles too. [Update: Pinafore goggles.]