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Dated 10 January 2023: Witch Gundam: Some people need killing, Suletta

Suletta
Space Oomfie.

As you may have noticed, I really enjoyed the first cours of Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury). I've watched so little from the Gundam franchise that I'm hazy on a lot of its common, recurring themes. Nevertheless, I at least know the depiction of death and the consequences of war are integral companions (in some way) to the cool-robot plastic-model-sales aspects.

Nika
Nika realizing how much extra work killing that guy is going to create for her.

However, I'm not well versed in terms of how Gundam presents these elements or how it communicates its perspectives about them. My assumption is that it adopts a "killing is bad" approach, but I'm willing to trust it at least has a more nuanced view than something like Sword Art Online II:

2016-01-08-18:16< Evirus> The robber had already killed one person and was about to shoot the mom, the teller, basically everyone. But sniper girl, who was like five at the time, managed to get the gun and shot the robber dead. And she was a pariah ever since, even to her mother.

ANYWAY, I don't know if this ultra-pacifist view crudely depicted in SAO II in any way accurately reflects a mainstream Japanese view, nor do I know if Gundam has anything similar. For the purpose of this blog post, I'm going go assume neither are true. That said, episode 12 of Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo ends with a violent death that leaves one of its leads shocked and deeply troubled.

Prospera and Suletta
At a minimum, Prospera is way better than Sinon's mother.

Now, the most important aspect of this character's reaction is her disbelief the person responsible for the killing could appear untroubled by the act. That is the critical focus of the scene, but the implication "all killing is bad" still looms. We'll have to wait until the second cours begins in April 2023 for more clarity on these points, but anything other than unambiguously concentrating on the mental-state aspect of the scene will appear alien to me.

Unidentified gunman
I think this qualifies as an imminent threat to life or bodily harm even if he's not using the sights.

The distinction derives from my inculcation in a common American belief that using deadly force is justified in the defense of others. The legality and scope of this doctrine varies by region and jurisdiction (as do American self-defense doctrines and perspectives as a whole, for that matter), but I presume it's at least much more common in the United States than it is in Japan. I just don't know how it's portrayed in Gundam.

Dated 3 January 2023: In praise of Kita Kita

Ikyuo and Hitori
Not yet, Kita Kita!

Bocchi the Rock! is great. It's way better than I was expecting. A huge part of this comes down to execution, though. This is not a slight against its source material (which I haven't read), but rather a reflection of how much I enjoyed the creative choices the anime used to communicate Hitori's discomfort and personal struggles. I also liked seeing "Bocchi" advance as a character, although a significant part of this progress was thanks to new friends dragging her forward. This does mean high school Hitori probably would have stayed in the same place as middle school Hitori were it not for some fortuitous encounters creating these opportunities for her, though.

Ikyuo, Nijika, Ryou, and Hitori
She's doing it again.

This brings me to the subject central to the title of this post. (Alternate title: "The End of Bocchi the Rock! ~Air/My Purest Love for Kita Kita~." Do people even still get that reference?) For a while after her introduction, I was afraid Kita Ikuyo Kita Kita would be one-note character whose scenes mostly involved gags about adoring Ryou. Thankfully, it turned out she had a much more important role to play, even if her "Kit-Aura" may be a little too fearsome. Ikuyo is a good foil for Hitori, and I enjoy the contrasts provided by their characters. There's no shortage of amazing Bocchi scenes where her anxiety warps time and space or glitches reality, but I also like the gags involving Kita Kita's mabushii being sort of excessive.

Hitori and Ikyuo
This is not Mental Out. At least I don't think it is.

Possibly I just enjoy characters with high genki levels in general. In any case, I don't have a lot of complex reasons for explaining why Ikuyo is great. I guess I will add that—depending on how you feel about Kessoku Band's music—her position as its only vocalist also seems like the sort of thing that deserves more attention. As an aside, even though I said, "only vocalist," I do harbor suspicions Bocchi will be unexpectedly pressed into service to take Kita Kita's place during an unplanned contingency in some theoretical future installment. Maybe Hitori wouldn't feel up to it yet, but I'm confident her seiyuu could tackle this all day, any day. Aoyama Yoshino was a WUG!

Dated 27 September 2022: Summertime Render turned out to be pretty good

Hizuru and Shinpei
He'll be fine.

I haven't seen much discussion of Summertime Render during its two-cours run. This is understandable due to, ah, let's just say, "a variety of reasons," but it is sort of a shame because it's one of the better anime I've watched during 2022 so far. It's not the best one, but it's at least in good company, even if I can't quite figure out whether it's supposed to be Summertime Render, Summer Time Render, Summertime Rendering, or Summer Time Rendering. What a mess.

Shinpei, Ushio, and Mio
Ushio spends much of the show only wearing a swimsuit, but she gets by.

I started watching it because I figured it was going to be an anime about a ghost girlfriend haunting Potato-kun. It turns out it's more about time loops and the challenges faced when confronted by an adversary who is also able to exploit time loops. The events and where they fit in the timeline start to get somewhat complex, and does require a fair amount of attention if the viewer hopes to keep track of who knows what at each particular point in time. Fortunately, the characters have ways of copying and transfering memories quickly, so the show doesn't get bogged down with constant exposition to bewildered accomplices.

Mio
I like Mio's SAKANA shirt.

There is still one episode left in the Summertime Render anime, and I have no idea whether this will be mostly an epilogue, or whether it's going to be a high-intensity scramble to wring out the best-possible outcome from one last opportunity. Hell, I haven't even ruled out the chance that it's going to conclude the series on a cliffhanger. This is a cliffhanger-heavy show in general, so it would be in keeping with the tone of many of the previous episodes. Expect some griping on my part if that happens, though. Still, the source manga has concluded, so things will probably be fine for the final episode. Probably. Maybe.

Dated 28 June 2022: I don't know why I watched Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL

Black Rock Shooter
That's some nice shootin', Rock.

I sure have watched a lot of Black Rock Shooter for someone who claims not to care about Black Rock Shooter at all. I'm not even confident my understanding about Black Rock Shooter in general is even accurate. As far as I know, it is a Hatsune Miku song that was turned into a sort of popular music video, then an OVA, then a 2012 anime written by Okada Mari, and now Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL. I don't even know if Dawn Fall shares continuity with anything that came prior.

Monica
It would have been better if the human characters didn't wear these masks all the time.

What I do know is that Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL was 12 episodes of a grimdark future where there is only war. Well, war and rape. I don't mean this in a metaphorical sense, and I can see why you might think that considering a lot of what happens in the 2012 Black Rock Shooter was allegorical. No, I'm letting you know that a significant plotline in the 2022 anime involves young girls being raped literally to death.

Smiley
Is it better or worse that the rapist is a big freaky robot with limited emotional range?

So, is Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL actually good? Well, mostly not? I don't know if it's better for people who have strong attachments to the franchise. I can't claim I do, although I recognize Dead Master and Strength as characters who were present in previous Black Rock Shooter installments—that sort of thing. And I'm not fundamentally opposed to a series introducing characters, trying to make us care about them, and then having something terrible happen to them. I don't think I'm in favor of sadism, but I can appreciate that a show like this can still exist, and even be associated with an IP people presumably still value. Also, learning this was licensed by Disney was wild.

Dated 21 June 2022: Mahoutsukai Reimeiki is not as good as Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho

Zero
I would later watch Toji no Miko because of the character designer.

I guess I never wrote a proper blog entry for Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho (Grimoire of Zero) from the Spring 2017 anime season. It was all right. I liked Miss Not Shimakaze, and I was able to pad my list of anime about loving books. Consequently, when I learned this season's Mahoutsukai Reimeiki (The Dawn of the Witch) was a spin-off with sequel-type continuity, I figured it was worth giving a try.

Roux and Sable
She's standing on a chair because she's short.

Well, it's not great. I can't even blame it all on Potato-kun, even though the series made him as dull as possible. The show is just not very good, and I'm not interested in any of the characters—not even the returning ones who I liked in Grimoire of Zero. I'm already 10 episodes into it, so I'll still finish it out. Somehow, I'm still disappointed despite never having high hopes in the first place.

Dated 14 June 2022: I'm starting to think KoiSeka will not end with a double suicide

Fudo and Desumi
Red Gelato and Shinigami Oujo are slacking off.

The gimmick behind Koi wa Sekai Seifuku no Ato de (Love After World Domination) is that Red Gelato, the main protagonist from a squad of heroes (think Power Rangers or Super Sentai) and Reaper Princess, one of the leaders of the villainous side, are secretly in love. The show is mostly about their struggles with romance while hiding their affair from the public and their respective teammates.

Red Gelato and Shinigami Oujo
I don't fully understand Desumi's battle costume.

This is not the first "daily lives of heroes and villains" thing I've encountered. Both Dokkoida?! and Sunred come to mind, for example. However, this is the first anime with an overtly Romeo and Juliet-esque spin on the premise that I've seen, although surely similar parodies must exist already in some form. Unfortunately, I'm not expecting the actual romance in KoiSeka to go anywhere. I'm already 10 episodes into the show as of this blog entry, so I'm doubtful there will be anything more to this series than light comedy.

Hellko
I do like Desumi's cat.

However, Koi wa Sekai Seifuku no Ato de doesn't really need to be much more than light comedy to succeed. The gags are amusing enough, and it seems the anime is reasonably popular this season. Consequently, barring any unexpectedly brilliant developments or an unfortunate collapse of some sort, I'm going to go ahead and suggest Love After World Domination is "fine" with occasionally good moments, but is not particularly remarkable otherwise.

Dated 12 April 2022: Akebi-chan is an escapist fantasy

Komichi
Life sure is great.

Akebi-chan no Sailor Fuku (Akebi’s Sailor Uniform) is a show that encourages adopting a positive attitude. It promotes the idea that if you embrace optimism and do your best, things will work out better and your life will be filled with amazing moments that create wonderful memories. It's not a bad argument for a series to make. There's a place in the world for these sorts of perspectives, and you'll find it in a countryside that's always gorgeous and not at all filled with countless biting insects.

Komichi, Ai, Minoru, and Riri
Every swimming segment was really good.

Aside from that observation, I don't have much to add to this end-of-season wrap-up post, except maybe just acknowledging that it was one of the best shows from the Winter 2022 anime season. It turned out much better than I was expecting. I guess I should also point out that I am aware some viewers had a much different opinion of it, with some even taking an especially negative stance towards Akebi-chan.

Komichi and Erika
Now you're just showing off.

In this regard, I suspect some of the more visceral responses probably reveal more about the internalized reactions some viewers experienced—and their discomfort reconciling them—than anything about the Akebi-chan series itself. Over the years, I've come to understand my more oblique way to conveying ideas can be unnecessarily unclear, so I'll just say it plainly this time (hopefully without implying that those who aren't getting it are obtuse).

Actually, you know what? I changed my mind. I'm not gonna spell it out.

Dated 5 April 2022: The End of KiseKoi ~Air/My Purest Love for Cosplay~

Marin
Best Girl.

I'm pleased to report Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru (My Dress-Up Darling) completed its first cours with a solid finish, capping off a remarkable run well ahead of whatever expectations I may have had prior to starting the series. I'm by no means alone in praising the show as the best from the Winter 2022 anime season, so I'm hopeful we'll see a second cours at some point.

Nowa and Marin
Things I know about Nowa: She has great hair, and is purportedly freakishly strong.

In addition to the factors I've mentioned in my previous posts, the small cast also worked in its favor. I was sure the childhood friend who bitched Wakana out years ago was going to appear at some point, and similarly expected at least one arc involving Marin's friends getting into her business. The fact that neither of these things came to pass is a credit to the storytelling in KiseKoi and the attention it gave to Marin's point of view as her romantic feelings grew.

Wakana and Marin
These are some fireworks.

My Dress-Up Darling consistently defied expectations in these small ways throughout the season, but their impact in the aggregate is considerable. I hope authors and directors of future works take note of this phenomenon. You'd expect a story should need entirely original, novel ideas to gain this benefit, but Sono Bisque Doll wa Koi wo Suru demonstrated simply not following familiar tropes to their specific expected destinations can be enough to transform scenes that would otherwise have been unremarkable.