Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 15 January 2018: Everybody relax, it's not as if they're tearing each other's clothes off in Koi wa Ameagari no You ni

Masami
Masami does not come across quite as lame in the anime as he does in the manga.

Right up front, you should know Koi wa Ameagari no You ni (Love Is Like After the Rain) is about a teenage girl who falls in love with her 45-year-old manager at the family restaurant where she works part-time. Nevertheless, it is not as—as the kids say—"problematic" as you might think, maybe because it is seinen instead of shoujo. (This last part is not a joke. If you've read a lot of shoujo, you know the genre revels in "problematic" developments.) Assuming the anime basically follows the manga, I think we can expect something much closer to Sweetness and Lightning than, uh...actually, I can't think of a show off the top of my head that follows through with this sort of pairing. (This assumes Tsumugi and her teacher did not started tearing each other's clothes off at some point in the Amaama to Inazuma manga.)

Akira
There is a lot of glaring in this show.

Rather, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni offers beautiful animation (assuming you're fine with the elongated character designs) with solid WIT STUDIO production values and the potential for the noitaminA block to potentially mean something again. That is, you don't necessarily need to dodge the show if the premise makes you uncomfortable. (Likewise, if you find the premise titillating, expect to be disappointed.) In a season chock full of so many good shows already, I can't claim After the Rain qualifies as a "must see" by any means, but it is at least worthy of more consideration by potential viewers who may have prematurely dismissed it based on preconceptions.

Dated 2 January 2018: Two Car has a third wheel

Yuri and Megumi
Yuri > Megumi.

I was expecting Two Car to devote episodes to all of the various racing teams which it had introduced at the start of the series. In fact, while it did do this for a few of the groups (including the announcers), the show instead concluded by focusing on the lead pair. Specifically, it focused on the lead pair and their would-be love triangle rivalry over their coach. After the show's only male (and faceless, to boot) character skipped town at the end of the first episode, I thought for sure Two Car would simply finish with some vague promise of pursuing him to the Isle of Man where they would TT battle for his heart. But, in fact, he returned so Megumi and Yuri could compete for his affection once again. (At least he has a face now.)

Nene and Ai
The episode about these two was pretty good.

Based on the reactions I've encountered, it seems Two Car is somewhat niche in its appeal. I found this a little surprising, but possibly that simply means I'm part of that niche. In any case, I enjoyed Two Car quite a bit for what it is and its GIRLS und PANZER approach to ignoring the genuine hazards of its rather dangerous activity. I was also not put off by the romantic subplot involving the coach. It's obvious Megumi's and Yuri's feelings will never reach him, and none of the other characters have the slightest interest in him. In that respect, it's a lot less objectionable than, say, a harem comedy where Potato-kun obliviously stiff-arms overly eager girls by the helmet as they inexplicably pursue him for no Goddamn reason. In Two Car, he's mostly just an excuse for Megumi and Yuri to continue bitching each other out. I know this aspect of the show also aggravated the Bejesus out of some viewers, but I'm rather a fan of otherwise likable girls being horrible to each other for my amusement.

Dated 20 November 2017: Just Because! is good even when it is not about baseball

Mio
I guarantee Himura Kiseki wanted to give her huge breasts.

If you're not watching Just Because!, you may at least have seen discussions about it on the Twitter, mostly about how it's apparently always on the verge of a production meltdown. Alternatively, you might also have heard about it because its character designer is the artist who provides weekly blue illustrations of buxom characters every Monday morning. Just Because! also featured in its first episode a very well done baseball sequence, a motif that reappears during the series. Really, the series is about romance, and unrequited love, and people being too chickenshit to let others know how they feel, but it's all the other parts that ensure the show works. Usually, the part about teenagers not being honest with their feelings is a pretty big red flag when you're looking for entertaining anime, but Just Because! handles these various plot lines fairly well, at least through the first six episodes.

Ena and Eita
Go on, Ena. Curse the bitch out.

The real star of the show, however, is the Photography Club girl whose photojournalism skills are on point. I'm not all that familiar with Lynn, her seiyuu (I actually thought it was Haruka De Tomaso Pantera initially), despite her numerous past roles (of which, I'm most familiar with Keijo!!!!!!!!), but she's pretty good here. It looks like Ena is going to get laid out on the teen romance smorgasbord as well, which I guess is fine as long as Just Because! remembers to retains her comic scenes and occasional griefing.

Dated 9 October 2017: The Ancient Magus' Bride reminds us that fairies are assholes

Chise
Arguably worse than mosquitoes.

The long-awaited anime adaptation of Mahō Tsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride) is really here. Based on the first episode, Wit Studio is faithfully reproducing the look and feel of the magic realm (well, England, actually) where 15-year-old Chise finds herself. Although it's probably unrealistic to expect the standard set in the three prequel OVAs and the first episode to persist throughout the next two cours, I'm fairly confident Wit will be able to do the series justice. It's a gorgeous manga, so expectations for the anime are quite high. No pressure.

Chise
It's been a long day.

Despite the title, Mahoutsukai no Yome isn't really about a child bride, although the opening minutes of the anime (and the opening pages of the manga) are meant to invoke some troubling impressions. There are dark undercurrents in the series, but they're offset for the most part by the magic and splendor of the story and setting. I'm seven volumes deep into the English-language releases by Seven Seas Entertainment, so I've got a general idea where the anime is going to go. I'm still a bit uncertain how to promote it, since this isn't a title that relies on tremendous highs or emotional whirlwinds to keep readers interested. I suspect some of the complaints I saw about the OVAs' pacing will apply to the TV series as well, at least among some viewers. I'm by no means suggesting The Ancient Magus' Bride is for everyone, but it definitely deserves investigating for at least an episode or two. At a minimum, it's a stark rebuttal to the typical complaints people have about "anime these days."

Dated 18 September 2017: The Tsuredure Children are all right

Kaji and Akagi
Best couple.

Tsuredure Children started out as an online comic that turned into a published 4-koma before getting an anime adaptation. It consists mostly of relationship gags involving the students who go to the same high school, thus showcasing a variety of different attitudes and personalities among would-be lovebirds who generally know each other. I say "would-be" because it seems the majority of these couples are of the "he likes her, she likes, him, and both are too chickenshit to tell each other" variety. This is not to say they are all like this; there's a whole range of folks in this spectrum. On one end, we have the aggressive student body president whose forward approach seems to bother quite a few people on the Twitter, and on the other end we have Potato-kun, the spastic otaku who irritates the shit out of me. The main focus of the various stories concerns the difficulty of expressing feelings honestly, and depicts the various consequences of each approach

Yuki
Girlfriend 1, Imouto 0.

The show as a whole is pretty amusing, and a mostly straightforward adaptation of the comic, albeit in a truncated fashion because there are a whole mess of different couples in the comics. With only a single cours of half-length episodes to work with, a lot of my favorite characters only appear as cameos, if at all. Notably, the anime is sorely lacking in Patricia, whose running gags spill over into the stories of a number of other couples, including the (also missing) teacher-student pair. The anime also omits the musician who hides her secret identity (poorly) behind a mask that she refuses to remove. Thankfully, the anime does properly retain the visual gags involving the couples it does feature, and the timing for the gags are impeccable. I would be in favor of Tsuredure Children getting another season, but chances are it will remain in the single-cours pit along with other good romantic comedies that feature intersecting narratives such as Nijiiro Days and Hatsukoi Limited, alas.

Dated 11 September 2017: In re Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? light novels

SukaSuka Blu-rays and light novels
Spoilers all over these covers. Maybe.

I enjoyed the Shūmatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka? anime enough to import the first two (so far, anyway) Blu-ray discs and all five light novels. Fortuitously, a fan has translated all five of these books, leaving only the EX volumes and the SukaMoka sequels remaining. As you might expect, anime adaptations of light novels can benefit quite a bit in how they interpret the original works, presumably in ways not available to anime adaptations of manga. Anime adaptations of manga seem to be a bit more straightforward (often to their detriment), I assume out of deference to the mangaka or to avoid dealing with irate fans who won't accept an anime that changed something from the original manga.

But I digress.

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Dated 3 July 2017: The WorldEnd of SukaSuka ~Air/My Purest Love for Leprechauns~

Chtholly
The happiest girl in the world.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? completed its 12-episodes admirably. There's basically no way to talk about it without going into spoilers, but I'll try to avoid major details beyond what's revealed in the first 60 seconds of the first episode. That prologue does test the theory that spoilers don't matter. Personally, I think spoilers absolutely do matter for comedies and punchlines, but I'm willing to entertain the notion they don't matter for drama. In the case of SukaSuka, having an understanding ahead of time about some major developments in the final episodes by having them revealed in the opening prologue did not detract from the show, and I have to admit the revelations likely improved the anime as a whole.

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Dated 19 June 2017: SukaSuka found romance at the WorldEnd

Chtholly
Best Girl.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? continues to surpass all expectations. That an anime adaptation of a light novel with a ridiculous title (WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?) could turn out to be one of the best shows of the year is somewhat absurd, yet here we are. With 10 episodes in and two to go, I'm looking forward to the ending which was telegraphed in the first episode's 60-second prologue, but I'll also be sad to reach the end of the series, given that successful anime romances are so rare.

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