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Dated 18 June 2018: Previewing new shows for Summer 2018

Yuki
Maybe she has PE first period?

After two strong anime seasons, I'm mostly ambivalent about the upcoming Summer 2018 season. The shows I'm most interested in (Overlord III, Major 2nd, and Hugtto! Precure) are all either sequels or continuations of existing shows. Thanks to the sheer volume of anime that comes out each season now, I'm sure I'll find plenty of acceptably amusing titles to watch, but I'm otherwise merely mildly optimistic about the synopses I've read and the PVs I've watched.

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Dated 4 June 2018: I think I like the idea of Cutie Honey Universe more than I enjoy the show

Honey
Have sword, will travel.

I do appreciate that Cutie Honey Universe exists at all. It's been a good year with regard to the return of old (way old) classics. I'm not particularly familiar with the Cutie Honey franchise, but I've seen enough of the original 1973 Cutie Honey anime and Gainax's Re: Cutie Honey OVAs from 2004 to appreciate that Cutie Honey Universe is a faithful re-introduction of the show to modern anime fans. However, although I enjoy it, I suspect that the return of Cutie Honey might work better in theory than it does in practice for general audiences. I don't feel that Cutie Honey Universe is dated, but it does seem anachronistic. That does contribute to its charm, but I can't help but think I should at least finish watching the 1973 series first.

Tarantula Panther
Tarantula Panther, best tarantula, best panther.

The parts that are probably the most jarring to modern viewers are the occasional fan service gags involving Junpei (the little boy) and Danbei (the dirty old man) as they aggressively pursue perverted opportunities to ogle and grope Honey whenever possible. I hesitate to call them gags because they're not presented as if they're supposed to be comedic moments necessarily, but I can't quite call it fan service either because I'm not sure anyone considers the bits titillating. It's probably more accurate to call them tropes or callbacks to the original Go Nagai manga and anime series. Now, I'm not suggesting '70s fan service staples have no place in our upstanding world of the current generation, but I think I would appreciate an effort to present these blatantly gratuitous scenes in creative new ways instead, despite the risk of alienating those fans who insist on preserving original aspects as a matter of general principle.

Dated 28 May 2018: GeGeGe no Kitarou is surprisingly informative

Neko Musume, Nezumi Otoko, and Kitarou
Well, she's not THAT tall. There are just a lot of short characters.

I don't know very much about yokai or Japanese fairy tales in general. In fact, probably most of what I know comes from that one episode of Azumanga Daioh. Oh, and I guess I've gleaned enough from other anime over the years to become racist toward kappas. Good job, School Rumble. In comes GeGeGe no Kitarou, a family show about yokai. Because it's heavily aimed at children, it also provides a lot of background and explanations about the various monsters of the week and their traditional lore. Hence, I get to learn along with the young audiences about yokai and how they might fit in the modern world.

Mana and Neko Musume
Also, she's wearing heels.

As far as the anime's other merits go, it's reasonably well done and I enjoy Sawashiro Miyuki as Kitarou. It's a good enough show that I'm still interested week-to-week, but I can't claim I'm at all in the target audience demographic. I do have to admit that I only started watching because of all the attention GeGeGe no Kitarou received before the season started due to the radical changes it made to one of the supporting character's designs. Originally known as Hakaba Kitarou, the franchise began in the '60s as a manga series and has appeared on television every decade since. The character design for Neko Musume has evolved each time around. However, her appearance in the 2018 iteration is entirely unrecognizable compared to her original form. It's a good hook, and I'm okay with shows making these types of changes from time to time, even if it means making a shrimpy character really tall and giving her legs that go up to her neck.

Dated 21 May 2018: Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online does not have sword arts, but it is online

Llenn
The FN P90 is pretty cute.

I'm much less critical of Sword Art Online than you might assume, considering how long I've been blogging about anime, so I can understand if readers who loathe SAO are skeptical when I claim Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online is a fine series which stands on its own and doesn't have any of the Sword Art Online baggage that inspires the most criticism. For example, there's no Kirito in SAO ALT: GGO. (SAOALTGGO? SAOALT:GGO? Whatever.) In fact, there are no returning characters as far as I can see (there was a Zekken namedrop in the most recent episode, but with no context or elaboration).

Llenn
Most people don't realize Pink Camouflage Pattern was a
leading contender before narrowly losing to UCP in 2004.

Instead, Gun Gale Online is a reasonably fun low-stakes anime about girls being goofballs at a gun-themed video game with characters who all clearly understand it's just a video game. Well, at least through six episodes. I've probably jinxed it now. In any case, I think the first episode provides a good indication as to what the show is like so far, and is at least worth checking out if you're still on the fence about it. It's different enough that anime fans who hate Sword Art Online can probably enjoy GGO for what it is. On the other hand, I suppose this means I'm not sure anime fans who love SAO will also enjoy GGO—maybe if the rest of the anime suddenly flips from "video game guns don't kill people" to "nutjobs who play video games kill people" or something like that. Since this is an anime adaption of light novels (written by the Kino's Journey author, not the Sword Art Online author), spoilers are obviously available for the harvesting, but I'd rather discover the answer to this question in due time the slow way.

Dated 14 May 2018: Hugtto! Precure is a mixed bag

Cure Ange, Cure Yell, and Cure Étoile
I can't claim these are the most memorable Cures of the franchise.

Hugtto! Precure is about a quarter of the way through its (presumably) year-long run, so we should have a pretty good sense as to what sort of Pretty Cure it is. In contrast with its predecessor, Kirakira☆Pretty Cure à la Mode, Hugtto! is notably more violent. At least there is significantly more melee in the fights again. This was immediately apparent in its first appearance during the crossover cameo at the end of the Kirakira run, as that series quite obviously avoided direct punching and kicking—probably more so than any other Precure generation thus far. (Kirakira sure was happy to lean way into the emotional trauma side of things, though.) In any case, the return of fancy beatdowns is a welcome development.

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Dated 7 May 2018: There's more to Golden Kamuy than 3DCG bears

Asirpa and Sugimoto
At least the smaller animals are 2D, even when they're delicious.

Golden Kamuy was one of the Spring 2018 shows I was looking forward to the most. It stumbled a bit out the gate when the first episode's infamously out-of-place looking 3DCG animals dominated most of the show's initial discussion. That this got the most attention is a bit of a shame, because Golden Kamuy has a lot going for it. Notably, the manga is good enough that a few misses in the anime adaptation are not going to be enough to ruin it. I didn't watch the all-3DCG Berserk, but the problems facing Golden Kamuy here are by no means as severe. It's not as if the entire show is 3DCG—just the larger animals when they appear.

Asirpa
Golden Kamuy is also about Asirpa looking displeased.

Seeing as how the show isn't actually about bears, 3DCG or otherwise, it's pretty good most of the time. Well, that's assuming you have an appetite for the horrors of war, collecting the skins of dead convicts, brutal violence, Japanese history, Ainu cultural lessons, and delicious meals made with freshly killed game. I suppose I'm not fully prepared to resist arguments that anyone interested should just read the manga instead, but I do believe the anime adds bits worth appreciating separately. I suggest watching the anime first before turning to the start of the manga. The way I see it, the anime will inevitably finish far short of the still ongoing manga's current position, and you'll probably want to read it anyway.

Dated 30 April 2018: Hinamatsuri is the best Spring 2018 show so far

Utako
I suppose Utako isn't a bad person all the time.

The best show of the Spring 2018 anime season so far is Hinamatsuri. It is genuinely funny and its characters are endearing, even when they're not being bad people. When I say "they," I mostly mean the two leads, Hina herself and her reluctant guardian, the up-and-coming yakuza member Nitta. I suppose Utako the bartender is also a bad person, insomuch as extortion and contravening labor laws are generally regarded as not things good people do. Hina and Nitta are entertaining, although I'm not sure why Nitta doesn't take advantage of Hina's powers even more often than he does for his yakuza-type business. I guess he'd rather fixate on the frequent destruction of his beloved vases. Those vases were all purchased with dirty yakuza money, incidentally, so I don't feel too sorry for him.

Anzu
Go on, Anzu. Curse the bitch out.

Besides, the real stars of Hinamatsuri are Hitomi and Anzu, who are absolutely stealing the show through the first four episodes. Hitomi, by virtue of her uncanny ability to be better than everyone else as well as being a generally good person. Anzu is initially one of the Bad People, but transforms into a good person thanks to the poverty moé thrust upon her. The OP reveals that Anzu lands on her feet, so I can't feel too bad for her, but I do commiserate more with her losses than I do for Nitta and his doomed vases. I've only read the first few chapters of the manga, so I have no idea where the show is going to go. It does appear there will be a timeskip at some point, based on the sequence that started the first episode. I sort of worry Hitomi might be a little too powerful in three years, though, the way things are going.

Dated 23 April 2018: I hope Major 2nd is a doubleheader

Daigo
Anxiety-free Daigo.

Major is an epic six-season anime with more than 150 episodes, multiple OVAs, and a movie. It spans the baseball life of Goro from his kindergarten years to his (spoilers, I guess) professional career. I joke about Major spoilers, but there is basically no way to discuss a series that long or its currently airing sequel, Major 2nd without revealing at least some spoilers. I'll at least try to avoid the heavier ones. Major 2nd is about Goro's son, Daigo, as he begins his foray into the sport of baseball. Through the first three episodes, the focus has been on Daigo's inability to bridge reality and desire as he struggles to deal with the tremendous pressure he places on himself and expectations he assumes everyone has of him as Goro's son.

Izumi
It's not easy being best.

Notably, Daigo has an inferiority complex about his older sister, Izumi, who demonstrates both greater talent and a better work ethic than Daigo. Frankly, I wish Major 2nd were about Izumi instead of Daigo, but alas. I haven't read the manga, so I can't project where the story is going to go, but I hope there are at least some Izumi-focused episodes. It seems reasonable, providing Major 2nd runs long enough, considering the spotlights shone on Kaoru and Ryoko in the original Major. At a minimum, I like Izumi's attitude a lot more than Daigo's, although I guess he hasn't had his traumatic emotional turning point yet. Anyone who familiar with the original Major (or a lot of baseball manga in general, really) knows what I'm talking about. I'm going to flip over a table if one of Daigo's family members dies, though.