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Dated 20 August 2014: I'm basically only watching Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Bullshit out of general principle

Sailor V
Sailor V is here to chase ikemen and kick crooks in the neck.
And she's all out of ikemen.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon is one of those franchises that I sort of want to like but can't genuinely enjoy most of the time. This is reflected in my halfhearted efforts to watch the original series (stalled at episode 93 for years). I'm also mostly unimpressed with the original manga, with the exception of Codename Sailor V. I'm totally down with Sailor V, mostly because (as I am wont to attest on The Twitter), she's sort of fascist. I also find Aino Minako (at least in her garish Sailor V form) a more engaging protagonist than Tsukino Usagi. Sailor Venus isn't as good, but is still okay providing she's kicking crooks in the neck instead of thrashing dudes with her "Love Me" chain (which, incidentally, has been redesigned to look like a long string of, um, round beads, at least in the Crystal Marital Aids promo art). Also, Artemis > Luna.

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Dated 29 April 2013: Spring 2013 initial impressions

Man and Old Man
The Hustler.

The preseason buzz for spring 2013 seemed fairly pessimistic. (Sort of seems that way more often than not lately.) Thankfully, this quarter is shaping out to be pretty decent, at least through the first third of the cour. I guess I was looking forward to Death Billiards from the name alone—turns out it's another excellent Anime Mirai short movie, by the way—and that show about giants eating people, and the second season of Railgun, so it's not as if I believed spring 2013 would be a total write-off. It turns out there are at least a couple of gems and one shiny rock to admire.

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Dated 1 January 2013: Announcing the 2012 Girl of the Year

Ami and Mami
Don't try and tell Ami and Mami there can be only one.

Choosing a 2012 Girl of the Year was more difficult than in previous years for two reasons. First, I watched fewer shows this year, so the pool of candidates is relatively small. For example, I encountered regular high praise for characters in Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere, but being otherwise wholly ignorant of the show, none of them even got an initial glance. Second, there are numerous eligibility considerations that I had to reconcile.

Medaka
This is not a very deep pool.

Revisiting nominations from earlier this year, I identified Yuuko from Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, Fujiko from Lupin III, Saki from Natsuiro Kiseki, and the unnamed female protagonist from Humanity Has Declined. With the benefit of having the autumn 2012 season in the bag, I am adding Cure Beauty from Smile Precure!, Medaka from Medaka Box and Medaka Box Abnormal, and the entire 765Pro roster from The iDOLM@STER TV.

Chihaya
It was the style at the time.

Here is one of the eligibility concerns I mentioned. Should iM@S characters qualify for the 2012 Girl of the Year contest? The television series concluded in 2011. However, the episode 26 OVA came out in 2012, and there were three additional episodes included with the Shiny Festa PSP games also released in 2012. I never explicitly disqualified OVAs and movies from consideration. (And if I did and simply forgot, I'm retconning that now.) If the Girl of the Year title can be awarded to a group, then shouldn't the BEST GIRL in that ensemble subsequently get a solo award? Not necessarily. Chihaya is the iDOLM@STER BEST GIRL, but I wouldn't call her 2012's Girl of the Year even though I am prepared to nominate Chihaya, Miki, Takane, Ritsuko, Haruka, Mami, Makoto, Iori, Hibiki, Ami, Azusa, Yayoi, Kotori, and Yukiho in a group nomination as I did in 2011.

Yuuko
It's not easy being dead.

Perhaps this is anti-climatic, but the 2012 winner wasn't really in doubt. Yuuko is amazing, but a lot of her appeal comes from the Tasogare Otome x Amnesia manga. She's hurt by the single-cour run of the anime and its disappointing cop-out non-ending to an otherwise good show.

Fujiko and Lupin
Better hope she doesn't punch you in the monkey.

Fujiko seemed like a shoo-in early in the year, but in retrospect I'm disappointed with the unevenness of her show itself. For Fujiko to win in 2012 I'd have to consider her (admittedly outstanding) previously established credentials. This worked for Mouri Ran, last year's winner, but 2011 Ran was exceptional while I can't claim the same of 2012 Fujiko.

Yuka, Saki, Natsumi, and Rin
Saki can't help being better.

Saki from Natsuiro Kiseki? Sigh. Tough call. She doesn't win, but definitely deserves special mention. Natsuiro Kiseki is chock full of wonderful Saki moments, probably appropriately since it really is her show despite being a putative Sphere vehicle for the quartet. We all know who's best. [Spoilers: It's Takagaki Ayahi, even though I love Haruka DeTomaso Pantera.]

Female Protagonist
Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.
P.S. Fairies are assholes.

She who shall not be named in Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita? Possibly seiyuu of the year, but not Girl of the Year. She's pretty good, and a worthy nomination, but just doesn't quite have enough to get by her competitors this year. Nakahara Mai really was superb in this role, though.

Cure Beauty
Guess what happens to people who don't get
out of Cure Beauty's way. Go on. Guess.

Cure Beauty? An almost automatic nomination and the only Smile Cure worth a damn, but she kinda makes herself look good by surrounding herself with less capable people. I'm pleased Toei was consistent with her characterization throughout the course of the year-long season. If they ever adopt the Pretty Cure Team-Up idea as a way to manage the huge numbers of mahou shoujo now in play (without marginalizing the older ones as New Stage 1 did), I could easily see her busting heads side-by-side with the early-generation Cures. Cure Peace? Not so much.

Medaka, Naze, and Koga
Medaka is not subtle.

Medaka? Just good enough for a nomination, but that's all. I sure hope Neo Gainax continues churning out her anime so Anshin'in can boat race the competition next year or the year after.

765Pro
Idolm@ster is so good I think I need to buy more Ace Combat planes.

So how about all the iM@S girls? I really wanted to give them the group win, but I can't quite do it for 2012. All right, so who does win? Think about it. Do you really have to ask?

Asuka
P.S. Soryu is still > Shikinami.

Asuka Shikinami Langley. Wait, why? Because Evangelion: 3.0 You Can (Not) Redo came out in 2012, because OVAs and movies do qualify, because a previous body of work may be taken into consideration as a factor, and because this entire contest is rigged. OMEDETOU, sweetheart.

Dated 10 July 2012: Spring 2012 season wrapup

Rin, Yuka, Saki, and Natsumi
Rin, Saki, and Natsumi realize by now that Yuka
with an idea can be a dangerous thing.

I've already explained why Natsuiro Kiseki is my favorite show from spring 2012. However, I didn't mention how shabby the animation looks at times. I'm really surprised to see such lapses from Sunrise, but the show is otherwise so good I'm willing to ignore those faults.

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Dated 3 April 2012: Season Wrap-up, Winter 2012

Genjuro and Chris
When in doubt, hug Chris.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear was awesome because it was preposterous. Symphogear went above and beyond to remain entertaining. From the first BADICAL episode to its ridiculous climax, Symphogear always remained fun to watch. I can't claim with a straight face that it's actually good, but I never claimed a show had to be good to be the best show of the season. More of this sort of thing, please.

Yassan and Hidenori
It's all about the timing.

The best show of Winter 2012 if you want to use boring metrics such as "funny" or "consistent" is Daily Lives of High School Boys (Danshi Kōkōsei no Nichijō or "Nichibros" affectionately, among fans). Shockingly, this was a very amusing comedy and nothing at all like what I thought it would be about based on the title. Daily Lives of High School Boys also accomplished the rare No Bad Episodes achievement. Hell, I'd even go so far as to recommend it. That's something I can't do for Symphogear.

Saya
Black Rock Shooter needed more DARK MAMIKO.

I liked Black Rock Shooter for its almost confrontational use of allegory and metaphor to illustrate the trauma of suffering teenage feelings. I don't believe I have an especially high tolerance or patience for teen angst in general, so I consider my positive overall opinion of Black Rock Shooter to be a testament to its solid, stylish execution and depiction of envy, despair, humiliation, friendship, and courage. I can see how other viewers might wildly disagree, though.

Kazuha and Amakazu
Kazuha aikidos the shit out of some deadbeat.

Detective Conan remains as good as ever. It's somewhat amazing that after more than 650 episodes it still has compelling stories about its key characters. It's also just as satisfying as ever to watch Ran and Kazuha whip the Hell out of some goob. If you're new to these wrap-ups, Detective Conan is sort of my control group of quality since it's pretty consistent and appears ready to run as long as it has to.

Tsugumi
Guilty Crown needed more Butt OS.

Guilty Crown was all over the place this season. It's quite a mess, but was pretty entertaining in an absurd sort of way when it was about [spoilers] and [spoilers] and [spoilers!], but then it just started getting stupid. Shu as a protagonist was its biggest flaw, and things would have been so much better if Guilty Crown had killed him unexpectedly and replaced him with Ayase. For a show that I ranked number one for a large part of the season, Guilty Crown fell a long way in its inability to pull off a satisfying conclusion. It also didn't make a damn lot of sense, but a show doesn't need to make sense to be the best of the season. (See Symphogear.)

Flay
Poor Flay is just misunderstood.

The "HD" rebroadcast of Mobile Suit Gundam SEED is not much different from the original. It's mostly just cropped and upscaled. I still like it, though, even if Flay's breasts are now flying out-of-control all over the OP.

Lucius
That is some pretty good ramen.

I finished Thermae Romae months ago. It's a good thing it was so short, though. I can't imagine watching a full cour of it.

Miyuki and Nao
Flag of England and lance corporal rank.

It's a bit of a relief that Smile Precure! is charming. These girls can't fight worth a damn. That's kind of the trend for Pretty Cure over the last few years, though. There's not nearly enough ass kicking. I remain hopeful that Cure March will get her act together later, even if she does end up carrying the rest of the team. Notably, Nao wears combat boots and her favorite shirt appears to have lance corporal rank insignia on its sleeve and the flag of England on the breast. SHOW ME YOUR WAR FACE, CURE MARCH!

Ai
Ai is pretty awesome even though she tastes like ramen.

Amagami SS+ was a huge letdown because it retconned nearly all of the progress Potato-kun made in the first season. It would be almost inexplicable, except that I should have predicted the craven devotion to upholding the Otaku Virtues. In nearly every respect, the second season of Amagami SS is wasted potential, and a waste of time. At least Tsukasa remains the Amagami Best Girl by showing she's smart enough not to fall for stupid tricks.

Asia
Potato-kun comes for Asia's box.

High School DxD is both a disappointment and a pleasant surprise. On the one hand, it's a lot better than a trashy show like that has any right to be. On the other hand, it didn't turn out as good as it appeared it would be from the early episodes following the cookie-cutter first episode.

Arsène
The best Milky Holmes II had to offer.

Tantei Opera Milky Holmes II was not nearly as good as the first season. Then again, the first season was a lot better than anyone expected it to be, so I guess it works out. Too much lard, not enough Arsène, and the only new gag I liked was Hercule turning out to be a huge pervert in secret.

Akazawa
Hair down > twin-tails.

Another was another letdown for me. It started off boring, got interesting, got stupid, and ended up being completely retarded. I think it tried recapture the elements that made Shiki so good, but instead of B-movie fun Another was just poorly written dreck. So many problems. There's only so much handwaving I'm willing to accept. And another thing: [SPOILERS] If everyone forgets about the dead extra person after he's killed, how do they know it's over? Wouldn't the class continue looking for the extra person until everyone was dead? In any case, it seems a lot of people who were very critical of Guilty Crown for being puerile were much more forgiving of Another despite the two shows sharing similar flaws. I took the opposite view. I dunno, maybe I liked Butt OS and wheelchair-fu more than I thought. A classroom of students too stupid to live? Not so much.

Shana
Dere-Dere Mode, activate!

Shakugan no Shana III was a lot better than Shakugan no Shana II but was still terrible. I blame J.C. Staff's persistent problems with producing compelling fight scenes. They're bad enough at it that sequences only a few seconds long routinely come out horrid. Thus, when J.C. Staff tries to drag out fight scenes over multiple episodes, the end result is disastrous.

Shinobu
Whatever happened to Shinobu's helmet and goggles?

Nisemonogatari is awesome if you like that SHAFTXSHINBO jive. It'll irritate the crap out of you if you have little to no patience for it, though. And let's be clear on this: Koyomi is a harem comedy protagonist. A shitty one. Also, the obsession with little sisters has got to stop. I suppose I don't "get" Japanese fetishes, but I am really tired of the imouto thing. It's basically only okay when it's like Harima + Yakumo from School Rumble (platonic friendship with the kid sister of his unrequited love). I suspect many viewers will further disagree with me here, but as much as I like Sakamoto Maaya, I believe Hirano Aya, the original voice of Shinobu (back when she didn't talk) would have been a better match. I assume Hirano Aya was replaced for reasons related to her relatively recent personal and professional problems.

I already described my problems with Suite Precure♪. I still want to know whether or not Cure Rhythm's battle costume smells like cake, though.

I dropped Moretsu Pirates because it was boring. I heard later that the show is actually about privateering, anyway.

Dated 15 January 2010: Maybe they'll take my advice for the second Macross Frontier movie

Nanase and Ranka
The Nyan Nyan waitress uniform is downright dirty.

The Macross Frontier folks should have just squeezed Nanase into a Buster Machine. Clear that Vajra problem right up.

Sheryl Nome
At least we'll still have Sheryl Nome and her ridiculous outfits.

Actually, I heard Nanase's character was retconned out of existence entirely for the first Frontier movie, The False Diva, alas. Does this mean the only character to wear the Neo Nyan Nyan waitress outfit is Ranka? That's no good.

Dated 9 October 2006: Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition III

Shinn punches a woman in the gut.
Shinn punches a woman in the gut.

Okay, first of all, I was wrong about one thing: There are four Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition movies, not three.

I find it rather appropriate that the third movie begins with (1) Athrun continuing his voice over, and (2) Shinn punching an innocent doctor (nurse?) in the gut. I mean, that's the series in a nutshell right there. Oh, and naturally Shinn's out of the brig in like five minutes. It's a bit blatant in compliation form.

Stellar and Shinn
I so don't rememember Shinn and Stellar having
astral plane nookie during the regular broadcast.

On the whole, it seems there is a lot less retconning in the third Destiny movie than in the first two parts. Most of it seems to be straight-up clip show—not like Gundam SEED Destiny needed another clip show. Sadly, this means no extended Athrun + Meyrin escape sequence, and no post-traumarama sickbed canoodling while Neo Mu the Invalid cheers raucously. It also seems rather rushed for some reason; the pacing is all kinds of off.

Meyrin
The perfect ruse.

Frankly, I'm shocked they didn't fool around with the Meyrin/Athrun/Cagalli sequences in the third compilation movie. Considering the changes in the first two parts, it seemed a sure thing.

Infinite Justice
Oh yeah? Well let's see you parallel park the sumbitch.

I don't remember Lacus landing Athrun's new ride onto Archangel by herself, though. Maybe my memory is just faulty.

The third Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition movie is the weakest thus far. Like I said, it's basically just another clip show both insofar as content and pacing are concerned. But surely the fourth and final movie will be good! After all, it will feature Lacus' ascension to Empress of PLANT and appointment as Supreme Commander of ZAFT. And it will reveal that she's actually an evil mastermind soon to become the primary villain during the third and final Gundam SEED season.

P.S. Spoilers.

Dated 5 August 2006: Gundam SEED Destiny Special Edition II

Alas, the "Meyrin thinks she's fat," the Hawke shower gossip-o-rama, the "waking up with Meer," and the Meer concert scenes were all cut from the second Gundam SEED Destiny compilation movie. Well, parts of the Meer concert made it into the high-speed Meer montage and Athrun voiceover segment. On the one hand, it's kind of a pity because those bits were TOP FUEL HILARITY.

The Woe of Meyrin
Meyrin misses her chance.

On the other hand, it makes sense that those cut scenes were omitted because nearly everything that could be construed as filler (and there was a damn lot of filler mid-season) was dropped from the second compilation movie. The second "Special Edition" movie is mostly aggression and fighting (the final 30 minutes consist almost entirely of fight scenes), and briskly moves through the most laggard part of Gundam SEED Destiny.

If the term "Special Edition" evokes images of Lucas-esque revisionist filmmaking, it should. There is some hard core retconning in the second movie—substantially more than there was in the first one. For example, as expected, the wedding/kidnapping bit was edited to make it look like the whole mess was Cagalli's fault. (Well, it really was, but the series at least tried not to make it appear that way.) You almost feel sorry for Jona, who doesn't even look like a douchebag or a coward.

Jona
Anger leads to hate.

The most substantive changes were clearly orchestrated to hilight the Shinn + Lunamaria and Athrun + Meyrin end games. The scene where Lunamaria creams her panties over Athrun's new Gundam is gone, naturally. (Athrun just blows by Lunamaria, ignoring her completely, and she gives a small frown.) But most significantly, Shinn's wild night with Stellar was largely redone to remove Athrun from their rescue entirely. Now, it is Lunamaria that comes to retrieve them from the cave. Stellar's reunion with Sting and Auel is much the same, except Athrun has been replaced with Lunamaria. There's even a bit where Lunamaria displays jealousy over Shinn's attention to Stellar.

Athrun
Athrun is surprised by Shinn's predicament.

Lunamaria
Lunamaria is surprised by Shinn's sexy predicament.

Athrun
Athrun checks on the rescued couple.

Lunamaria
Lunamaria checks on the rescued couple with suspicion.

Stellar, Athrun, and Shinn
Stellar, Athrun, and Shinn.

Stellar, Lunamaria, and Shinn
Stellar, Lunamaria, and Shinn.

Athrun, Stellar, and Shinn
Athrun waits for Shinn to say his goodbyes to Stellar.

Sting, Lunamaria, Stellar, and Shinn
Lunamaria waits for Shinn to say his goodbyes to Stellar...

Sting, Lunamaria, and Stellar
...impatiently.

The few Athrun-mentoring-Shinn scenes are also gone. Their relationship is almost entirely adversarial, now, although Athrun is shown protecting Impulse in a number of fight scenes.

Most welcome are the changes that make Kira appear less heroic. Freedom's intro music in the Big Meddlin' Battle sounds much less heroic, and the editing makes Kira and Cagalli look like jackasses—Cagalli particularly, since the cuts give the impression that Kira's intervention came at her direction instead of the Archangel crew's mutual agreement. It was tough to pull off, but Jona even manages to retain most of his dignity in the sequence.

Oh, and there are new bits showing Kira working on a Haro, and a shot of Lacus' bare ass. And new dogfighting scenes for Saviour. (Thank God it's not all just stock footage anymore.)

Meyrin, Athrun, and Lunamaria
Meyrin's shameless flirting...gone.

There aren't any new Athrun + Meyrin bonding scenes, but the second movie does retain some of Meyrin's shy stalking scenes—they weren't all cut. It's a pity her playacting from the Meer concert is gone, though.

Overall, there is not enough to fully establish an Athrun + Meyrin romance, but the retconning sets a better foundation for potential exploration (and exploitation) in a possible sequel.