Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 4 May 2021: I'm enjoying SSSS.DYNAZENON

Yume
I love how unaccommodating the ergonomics are for flying this thing.

As with SSSS.GRIDMAN before it, SSSS.DYNAZENON is not really about either giant robots or kaiju. Rather, it is about the human struggles affecting the characters themselves. After five episodes, the most consequential plot line in the show appears to be Yume's quest to learn more about her older sister and come to grips with her death. Sure, there is that whole kaiju thing and people reappearing from 5000 years ago, but Yume's got a lot going on, okay.

Mei and Yume
Yume is basically an entirely different person around someone she trusts.

Nevertheless, she still finds time to go to giant-robot practice (I love that they have actual giant-robot practice) and seems to have embraced this whole fighting monsters thing as a reasonable part of her life. Unfortunately, SSSS.DYNAZENON has not yet abandoned Potato-kun as a protagonist. Sidelining Yuuta in favor of Rikka and Akane was one of the best things SSSS.GRIDMAN ever did. I'm not saying Yomogi is entirely worthless, but I really got my hopes up when Chise took an interest in learning how to pilot as well.

Dated 27 April 2021: Super Cub hits like a truck

Koguma
Relax, kid. You're gonna be all right.

Super Cub is not an isekai (at least not yet), but it does feature an extremely low-key girl discovering a new world. Koguma lives a life of solitude and makes obvious efforts to avoid drawing attention to her young self. However, she does score a used Honda Super Cub for about a hundred bucks, and it starts to change her life. Thematically, there are similarities to the Ah! My Goddess arc where Skuld learns how to ride a bicycle. It's a liberating moment for both of them, when Skuld finally experiences the joy Belldandy already knows, and when Koguma discovers her old boundaries are gone.

Koguma
When you double-ride with anxiety, you never ride alone.

At the risk of spoiling both the first episode of Super Cub and The Wizard of Oz (1939), color similarly bursts onto the screen when Koguma departs her drab old world for her mysterious new future once she successfully kick-starts her Cub's engine for the first time. I wouldn't call the transition subtle, but I know not all viewers caught it during the moment. Through three episodes, Super Cub regularly uses these sort of visuals and audible cues to communicate Koguma's further discoveries. I don't know if the anime will continue to concentrate on this sort of internalized wonder, or if it will transition into a more conventional "girls who really enjoy a specific hobby" show, but I'm eager to go along for the ride—even if the conveyance in question has already killed thrice before.

Dated 20 April 2021: Koikimo is better than Higehiro even though both are missing the same thing

Ichika and Ryo
Stalker distancing.

News that the Spring 2021 anime season would feature TWO shows about adult men paired with high school girls created ripples across the Twitter, but even this mild outrage waned after viewers discovered neither show was as torrid as anticipated. Descriptions of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love, A.K.A. Koikimo) in particular concentrated on elements that ranged from misleading (characterizing its male lead as "a womanizer") to outright untruthful (e.g., calling him "sex-crazed...with a wandering eye for women"). At the risk of stereotyping too much, I suspect more attention should have been paid to the fact that the Koikimo manga is described as josei (i.e., for adult women) instead of seinen (i.e., for adult men who miss fucking teenage girls).

Sayu and Yoshida
I was too bothered by Sayu's lack of luggage to make a Fate/stay night joke.

Curiously, Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway) seemed to attract less pre-season attention than Koikimo, but perhaps its original novels and manga adaption were already known well enough to deflect unwarranted speculation that it was going to be a smutty romp. This, despite its synopsis outright stating that its characters meet when the titular teenage girl, Sayu, offers sex in exchange for a place to stay. Instead, Higehiro is about a man, Yoshida, who insists he is not attracted to the JK crashing at his place. The series begins with Yoshida being rejected by his long-term crush (his boss at work, no less) who claims she is already seeing someone. He is so devastated that he seemingly does not even notice she was CLEARLY LYING.

Gotou
Dude, you're staring.

Higehiro also draws attention to Yoshida's insistence that he is not a "nice guy" for letting Sayu live with him without strings attached (unlike everyone else she has stayed with during her previous six months as a runaway), but rather that the other men she has known are despicable people. Yoshida also repeatedly insists he is not attracted to Sayu because he only likes women with large breasts, but then the show promptly undercuts him by immediately alerting (and repeatedly reminding) the viewer that Sayu's boobs are also comfortably big.

Sayu
Higehiro even quantifies the comparison.

This is where I lose the ability to predict the path Higehiro will take. There is enough fan service and "male gaze" to the anime that we are obviously supposed to see Sayu as a legitimate love interest of Yoshida's, despite (or perhaps because of) his loud denials. But the show also retains the harem elements by keeping the CLEARLY LYING boss lady and deliberately slapdash co-worker near as potential romantic rivals. If I had to guess how this story ends, I would expect Yoshida's support to put Sayu on a path to success before re-uniting the two after a multi-year timeskip apart that has given Sayu time to become a self-sufficient adult with even bigger boobs than ever. Alternatively, we'll get a cop-out non-ending ending, potentially with all four of them living together for contrived reasons.

Ryo
You can tell he's sincere because of the sparkles.

While Higehiro is about a man who denies being attracted to the teenage girl living with him, Koikimo is about a man openly and aggressively wooing a high school girl 10 years his junior. At this point, I think it is necessary to acknowledge the tropes that govern this story's boundaries. Ryo and Ichika meet by chance and a suspension bridge moment sparks his sudden obsession with Ichika, who is coincidentally classmates with Ryo's kid sister, Rio. Fortunately for Ryo, his sister not only approves of his infatuation with her friend, but even volunteers as his wingman to provide opportunities for him to get closer with Ichika.

Ruri, Rio, Ichika, and Satsuki
Rio's anime bed is made of concrete.

Moreover, Ichika's own mother approves of Ryo's courtship, despite Ichika's clear displeasure. It is probably worth pointing out that Ryo has apparently never had to pursue a love interest before. He is not a pick-up artist chasing after fresh prey. Instead, girls and women have thrown themselves at him his entire life (Ichika's and Rio's classmates all unanimously agree Ryo is exceptionally handsome), so this is an entirely new experience for him.

Sayu and Yoshida
Dude, you're staring.

So what are Koikimo and Higehiro both missing? Lust. In the case of Koikimo, Ryo is clearly, genuinely smitten with Ichika, but he is arguably more drawn to her disinterest in him than he is to her physical appearance. Ichika is presented as being fairly unremarkable among her peers, and her own best friend describes her as "normal" (although at least one boy at her school has taken a liking to her). In the case of Higehiro, it takes three episodes of the show loudly signalling that Sayu is comely and sexually available before Yoshida finally admit he finds her attractive. However, his refusal to sleep with her is predicated on a critical, foundational cornerstone to the narrative's integrity, so I don't expect the story can too easily reverse this stance even if the audience comes to think he protests too much.

Ichika and Rio
She is upset because she is pleased.

After four episodes of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui and three episodes of Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou., I enjoy Koikimo more than Higehiro. Neither series is especially realistic (although I could believe Higehiro, despite the melodrama, were it not for the CLEARLY LYING Christmas-cake boss lady and the co-worker who deliberately fucks up her work for Yoshida's attention), but I find Koikimo more amusing. I can't rule out the possibility that I'm simply more enamored of Ichika's seemingly endless barrage of disgusted faces than I am with Sayu's "pretty big for a high school girl" bosom, though.

Dated 13 April 2021: Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- places the fate of humanity in the hands of an amusement park animatronic

Diva
Diva runs sort of weird, but she is a robot.

Vivy -Flourite Eye's Song- is an original anime about a time traveler's efforts to prevent an artificial intelligence uprising that caused robots to run amok, resulting in the deaths of a whole mess of humans who—let's face it—probably had it coming. Due to desperate measures, this mission to prevent the looming disaster falls on Diva (Vivy), an amusement park android who is not at all enthusiastic about just going along with the plan. For one thing, her new AI pal from the future openly admits to withholding information from her and doesn't seem to care that she might have her own priorities and goals.

Diva
Maybe virus scans aren't as effective as you'd hope.

The AI from the future sort of reminds me of Frontier Setter from Rakuen Tsuihō (Expelled from Paradise), except without the charisma. Through the first three episodes, the viewer doesn't really have much reason to be suspicious of its intentions. After all, we do benefit from seeing the future events during the anime's prologue. Nevertheless, I'm at least inclined to take Diva's side during their disagreements. For one thing, altering a significant event does not seem to produce radical "butterfly effect" results that would render subsequent predictions related to upcoming milestones unreliable. Consequently, it's not clear whether Diva's desire to prevent future disasters unrelated to the AI uprising is necessarily impractical.

Diva
Considering the volume of Diva's hair, I have no idea
how she compressed it into such a small bun.

I have no idea how Diva is supposed to prevent the AI uprising. The events she's tasked with stopping during the first three episodes don't seem consequential enough to prevent what is surely the product of a great many circumstances beyond one android's ability to control. This is not as straightforward as going back to the '80s to kill Sarah Connor. It's not lost on me that Diva is likely not an amusement park animatronic (albeit a very sophisticated one) by accident. I'm ready to believe Diva unfucks the future by unleashing the power of song and making everyone happy, just as she's always wanted. You know, like the Minmay Attack except without genocide.

Dated 9 March 2021: I guess I'm watching season three of Log Horizon for the 'shipping

Akatsuki and Shiroe
It's not a date.

The first season of Log Horizon provided an entertaining perspective on what it might be like to be trapped in a video game. Even now, it holds up well when compared against the relentless tide of trapped-in-a-video-game isekai bullshit anime that seems—itself—nearly inescapable now. The second season of Log Horizon was all right, but it is common to find fans who like it a lot less. The currently airing third season, Log Horizon: Entaku Houkai (Log Horizon: Destruction of the Round Table) has mostly been about politics during the past eight episodes. It doesn't exactly get the series off to a rousing fresh start after its six-year absence.

Minori
Minori is still writing shit down—still being competent and helpful.

The preview for this week's episode heralds the return of love-triangle high jinks involving Minori (who was very recently merely a shrimpy kid), Akatsuki (who was and still is a shrimpy grownup, and Shiroe (the purported adult in the room). Naturally, I don't expect this to actually go anywhere. It has (at least been) pretty obvious that Akatsuki is the only real love interest. Even then, there's no indication there will be any meaningful progress anytime soon. Ergo, propping up Minori (who I think is still only around 14) as a romantic rival is probably going to be just more of the same low-stakes love-triangle nonsense from previous episodes.

Lenessia
They're literally going to put Lenessia on a SHIP so she can go get Krusty and
bring him back instead of just quietly thinking about him all the time.

Curiously, it seems the Krusty x Lenessia pairing might actually have some life. Originally, I mostly regarded the interaction between these two as that of a young man who (somewhat inadvertently) prods a recalcitrant princess into seizing the reins of destiny when originally he just wanted to amuse himself by teasing a teenage girl for a while. However, season three is making me question whether my assumptions about Krusty—or, more specifically, the player behind Krusty's character—are wrong. It's at least not clear to me anymore how old he is or how long ago the brief flashbacks we've seen actually occurred. Suddenly, a Krusty x Lenessia pairing seems much more plausible than Shiroe x Akatsuki, and certainly more so than Shiroe x Minori, regardless of what this week's episode may bring.

Dated 2 March 2021: Yuru Camp△ SEASON 2 is the best anime of Winter 2021 not featuring self-harm

Nadeshiko
I appreciate Nadeshiko's apparent immunity to fatigue.

Surprising no one who watched the first season, Yuru Camp△ SEASON 2 remains fantastic. I don't actually watch a lot of shows that I would expect to be similar in terms of tone and content, such as Yama no Susume (Encouragement of Climb), or Non Non Biyori, but perhaps I should, considering how much I enjoy Yuru Camp△. Then again, the majority of my interest in the show unmistakably centers around Rin specifically, and her various camping-related efforts. I mean, I like all the other characters too, but significantly less so, and I'm fairly sure this perspective is nearly universal among fans of the show.

Rin
So what happens if you do the suspension bridge thing alone?

Actually, there is one other character I know some Yuru Camp△ fans seem to like a lot: Nadeshiko's older sister, Sakura. For years now, Yuru Camp△ fan art has featured a lot of Rin x Sakura 'shipping. (Admittedly, it is one prolific artist who dominates this scene.) I found this pairing a little peculiar, since the two characters interacted basically not at all in the first season. Best I could figure, it was either in reference to something that developed later on in the source material, or ardent fans fabricated it whole cloth.

Sakura and Rin
You know, people would have lost their minds if Sakura
had been Nadeshiko's older brother instead.

Presuming the anime is adapting the original manga (as opposed to inventing stories to bolster the anime-tourism economy), it seems we've at least reached the genesis of this particular movement. I don't actually expect Yuru Camp△ to expand this meeting into a genuine romance, though. Fan enthusiasm aside, I really don't think it's that sort of show. Sorry, 'shippers, I'm pretty sure Sakura and Rin aren't going to be tearing each other's clothes off in a tent anytime soon. Besides, Rin wears a million layers even when she's napping by a space heater while she's ostensibly working in a library; she's probably wearing two million layers when she's camping in the winter.

Dated 23 February 2021: Back Arrow is full of idiots

Shuu, Bit, and Sola
Here is the stupidest character flanked by the smartest one and the second-smartest one.

I think I enjoy Back Arrow, but these characters are all so dumb. I mean, they're supposed to be, for comedic effect, but it's sort of extraordinary. The villagers are the worst offenders. The series introduces one of the main characters in the first episode by having her rescue—at the last possible second—a child who pretends to accidentally fall off a cliff because she enjoys the thrill of being saved in mid-air. Later, an amnesiac plummets from the sky in a pod. The villagers assume it contains food and start a large fire under it to cook its contents (without checking to see what's in it first). This inspires the pod's mysterious passenger to leap out and create a ruckus. If this is how the village prepares all of its meals, remind me to never eat there.

Ren
Actually, the lady with the fucked-up bangs is probably second-smartest.

Anyway, this is the sort of cartoonish logic that governs the characters' behavior. But at some point, Back Arrow just needs to ditch these villagers. First of all, they worship The Wall because they're superstitious nincompoops. And they are literally dead weight. Like, they're all on this massive mobile battle fortress, and none of them figured out how to turn on the lights. They're still huddling in tents and burning wood to stay warm instead of just taking up inside the dreadnought's living quarters. Maybe they're distrustful of these accommodations because their captive was the one who informed them of these facilities and the galley (which they're also not using, of course, but I've already gone over their culinary failures). Again, this is all done for laughs, but I don't think the gags are going to stay amusing enough to justify dragging these hicks around for two cours. Especially Bit. Fuckin' hate Bit. Kid's worthless.

Dated 9 February 2021: SK∞ has a lot of skating but not a lot of dying

Adam
This does seem more fun than pointless meetings with morons.

I'm pleasantly surprised at how SK∞ (SK8 the Infinity) is turning out. It's not quite a sports anime even though it does focus on the colorful participants of a secret, possibly illegal skateboard race. (It's sort of a poorly kept secret, honestly.) A significant portion of the racers are successful adult men who have other shit going on when they aren't skating for glory. I was originally expecting the more prominently featured high school kid to be the main character, but his Canadian transfer student friend seems more important so far.

Reki, Langa, Miya, and Shadow
Reki's injuries are so bad he'll probably be bandaged for two episodes.

After five episodes, Skate Dio has emerged as the primary antagonist our valiant skaters must overcome. There's a significant amount of intimidation steering their approaches to this effort, but it's not clear to me what stakes are really at risk. Obviously, skateboarding is dangerous, but avoiding serious injury seems basically assured thanks to the protective embrace of plot-expedient contrivances. And it's not as if Skate Dio is actively trying to murder his competitors. Dude's just out for a good time away from the stuffy pinheads at work.

@AnimeTribunal: Also if ADAM is Dio, then we need a second season with skateboarding pillar men