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Dated 9 January 2024: Sasaki and Peeps feels like a prank

Pii-chan
I don't know what sort of voice I expected instead, but it wasn't that.

I started watching Sasaki to Pii-chan (Sasaki and Peeps) despite knowing basically nothing about it. Well, I knew Yuuki Aoi voiced a talking bird, and that was reason enough for me. And I guess I also knew someone convinced Frog-kun that it got better later. It turns out it's about a salaryman who is not at all phased that his newly acquired pet bird is a wizard from a different world. Oh, and magic also works in Japan. I guess there's no reason why it wouldn't.

Sasaki and Pii-chan
You may remember me from such anime as 80,000 Gold, Etc.

Anyway, it feels as if I'm being pranked largely because of how the two leads are voiced. I'm at the point where I can't hear Tomokazu Sugita voice any character without, well, without it sounding as if it's just Tomokazu Sugita voicing a character. Additionally, Yuuki Aoi has given the bird an unexpectedly deep voice. You know how the cat in Machikado Mazoku (The Demon Girl Next Door) has a deep voice that's played for laughs? It's a similar effect, except played straight. The first episode is double-length, which is enough time to bring in the psychics who are part Japan's secret psychic government agency, and, it's like...are you putting me on?

Otonari and Sasaki
How long have you been sitting there?

Anyway, I'm going to keep watching, and hope its focus on arbitrage diminishes a bit. I also don't want it to devolve into magic v. psychics battling. Okay, but then what do I want from Sasaki and Peeps? I suppose I want talking-bird adventures. And I suppose I'm also curious to find out how out-of-place the subplots involving the neighbor feel. I've seen people claim on the social-type media that she was an editorial addition glomming onto some sort of wayward teen girl trend, possibly inspired by HigeHiro. I see the source material (a light novel) is still ongoing, so I'm not expecting much from this anime. Maybe being elaborately pranked by it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

Dated 24 October 2023: The Apothecary Diaries: Don't Do Poison, Kids

Maomao
Delicious poison.

I started watching Kusuriya no Hitorigoto (The Apothecary Diaries) because I've heard its source material is good. It turns out the anime is good, too—good enough that I watched all three of its simultaneously released episodes (yeah, it's another one of those shows) in a row instead of spacing them out as I originally intended. It seems this is also going to be a two-cours series as well, although I haven't worked out if that means 24 episodes straight or if they'll be split.

Maomao
This is a terrible hobby.

Not knowing anything about the source material, I sort of wonder if this is going to turn into a medical drama where various plants and herbs will offer marvelous healing properties (like the sort found in fantasy stories such as Akatsuki no Yona because they allow characters to get fucked up without being removed from the narrative for months as they recuperate). Through the first three episodes, The Apothecary Diaries instead seems to be a period piece that's more about identifying and avoiding poison than about finding cures for ailments.

Maomao
I don't know where she can spend any of this.

Hopefully, regardless of the path the plot takes, the execution will remain good. I'm particularly pleased with the way Yuuki Aoi (this same Yuuki Aoi) is voicing the role. I'm enjoying the anime as a whole, so it's not as if she's carrying this series on her own, but her work as the lead is a significant factor in how much I'm liking it. While I'm on the subject, I did also notice that the narrator is credited as Shimamoto Sumi, Nausicaä's own bad self. That's mostly just a bit of trivia, but it is good to see she's still active.

Dated 5 September 2023: Akikan! really is WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS

Budoko
Maybe Budoko gets more pleasant as the show progresses.

I started watched Akikan! (Empty Can!) as it aired during the Winter 2009 anime season, but I quit because I thought it was WORSE THAN COSPRAYERS. However, the irritating voice of a character introduced in the third episode did influence my decision to drop it then. As it turns out, this character's seiyuu was Yuuki Aoi, who has since gone on to have a successful career. She's rather popular, and I enjoy her work too, so I started second-guessing my 2009 self's opinions. Could it have really been that bad?

Najimi and Budoko
I admit Budoko's character design is amusing when she doesn't talk.

As it turns out, yes, it really was that bad. Budoko is a bratty, child-sized grape soda who speaks in a deliberately annoying voice. I think Yuuki Aoi was only 16 years old herself when she recorded the role, but I don't think being less experienced necessarily impaired her voice acting ability. If anything, she was probably too good at bringing a loathsome soda can to, err, life.

Melon and Kakeru
This scene is about erections.

I did actually try to watch further this time around, but I still only made it to episode four. Noto Mamiko voices a new can (a sports drink), but it's just not worth it. I don't know if the type of humor and tropes that saturate Akikan! are especially dated now. It's not as if I enjoyed humor of this variety in 2009 either. However, it also doesn't seem like the comedy styles found here are common in anime anymore. Possibly this is because I simply don't watch as many shows like this now, or maybe they're less common in general now that anime lineups are all isekai all the time. In any case, I suspect nobody besides boys discovering anime for the first time ever found the jokes in Akikan! funny either.

Dated 4 April 2023: There's a new Setsuna in town

Kusunoki Tomori
Kusunoki Tomori welcomes her successor.

31 March 2023 marked Kusunoki Tomori's final day voicing Yuuki Setsuna in the Love Live! franchise. Hayashi Coco (alt: Koko) assumed the role beginning April 1st. This is hardly the first time anime characters have been recast, and this particular handover seems to have been handled well, but part of me wonders how necessary it really was. As far as I know, Kusunoki Tomori is still doing voice work and has only stepped down as the voice for Setsuna because health issues make the physical requirements of the live performances too demanding.

Hayashi Coco
The handover between Hayashi Coco and Kusunoki Tomori was posted on the YouTube.

Despite still claiming—even now—not to be a Love Live! fan, I consider Setsuna to be the franchise's best idol. (Shibuya Kanon is "only" its Best Girl and best character.) Of all the different Love Live! iterations, I regard Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai (Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club) as having the best music. This is in no small part due to how much I enjoy all of the Setsuna songs. Would I like them as much with someone else in the role? That remains to be seen, but I do know the Kasumi version of "CHASE!" from the Shuffle Festival album isn't quite as good as the original Setsuna one.

Setsuna and Kasumi
Nijiyon Animation was okay.

Personally, I think simply not having Setsuna appear during the live events ought to have been a viable solution, but this likely reflects a lack of appreciation on my part as to just how important those live events are to the franchise and its real fans. The production powers-that-be (not to be confused with the School Idol Deep State) surely fully explored every possible option and concluded that re-casting the role was the right decision.

Setsuna and Lanzu
Second-Generation Setsuna appears briefly in the Next Sky PV.

I don't know how many Nijigasaki-type things there will even be going forward, but I know there's one OVA already announced (Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai: Next Sky). I presume there are a lot of live events planned too. Thankfully, the reception to "Setsuna 二代目" appears to be very positive, so the newest Love Live! member at least shouldn't be facing an uphill battle for our hearts and minds.

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 December 2022: I don't really get ASMR

Ore-kun
You can tell it's lewd because he's blushing.

I don't know why I started watching Aru Asa Dummy Head Mic ni Natteita Ore-kun no Jinsei (My Life After I Became a Dummy Head Mic One Morning), but I think the reason I didn't stop is because the episodes are only a few minutes long. It still manages to drag, though. The basic premise is some guy reincarnates as a dummy head microphone and reacts in humorous ways to mildly lewd predicaments. Well, it turns out his spirit ends up inhabiting a wide variety of other things as well, and the predicaments are mildly lewd, but they're not especially humorous.

Panda
You're not Momo.

It helps that Sugita Tomokazu voices the spirit of the guy who keeps possessing the object of the week. I suspect getting him on board to chew the scenery was important to getting this anime launched. He still doesn't make the show good, though. For that matter, neither does Kitou Akari who has a recurring role as one of the girls in the series. She speaks in a monotone deadpan that sounds an awful lot like Momo from Machikado Mazoku (The Demon Girl Next Door) most of the time. Maybe actual fans of ASMR videos would have a greater appreciation for the full Aru Asa Dummy Head Mic ni Natteita Ore-kun no Jinsei experience, but I haven't gotten much out of it.

Dated 13 September 2022: I guess that's why Yofukashi no Uta is a noitaminA show

Nazuna
Not sure if gap moé.

I generally expect more from anime airing in the noitaminA block. It's not always a clear indicator of quality, as there have been a fair number of noitaminA shows that seemed "undeserving" of the designation, but they do seem to be better more often than not. In the case of Yofukashi no Uta (Call of the Night), I have read some of the manga because I enjoyed the author's previous work, Dagashi Kashi, but I can't claim to have been a huge fan.

Seri
What's a nice girl like you doing in an alley at night?

The Yofukashi no Uta anime adaptation, though, is really well done. The visuals, the music, and Tenchan's characterization of Nazuna are all top-notch. (Haruka DeTomaso Pantera also appears in the anime, and Sawashiro Miyuki is reportedly joining the cast as well.) There's honestly not much about the show's ostensible plot that I especially care about, but each episode continues to impress me with the execution. It's possible I merely failed to fully appreciate the manga, but Call of the Night might also deserve to be one of those examples where an anime adaptation improves upon its source material.

Dated 28 September 2021: I guess Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu is about how much Satoko hates school

Rena, Satoko, Rika, and Mion
I like how Yukarin occasionally breaks out Rika's adult voice and nobody seems to notice.

There's one episode remaining in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Sotsu (Higurashi: When They Cry - SOTSU), making the new anime that started last year with Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Gou 39 episodes long. I still don't know how different the current anime is from all the previous iterations. I guess I could just look it up, but I suppose I am technically avoiding potential spoilers even though the likelihood I might go back and watch all the anime that came before is vanishingly small.

Satoko
Well, sometimes people notice.

On a related note, I am not sure it is even possible to examine Higurashi SOTSU without crashing straight into spoilers. Do the spoilers even matter? From my perspective, as someone who knew very little about the franchise before starting Higurashi GOU, it probably would have helped to have been spoiled on at least some of the major aspects of the series from the start. In my case, knowing the series would eventually concentrate almost entirely on Rika and Satoko while basically ignoring Keiichi and Rena would have provided valuable encouragement during the parts when I questioned why I was still watching Higurashi at all.

Rika and Satoko
This was a good punch.

Struggling to put up with Keiichi (initially, the show's apparent protagonist) and Rena was the reason I quickly dropped the first anime, and the reason why I nearly dropped Gou numerous times. Knowing the show would pivot its focus to two much more interesting characters definitely would have helped. Looking at this from a different perspective, what about the viewers who liked those Keiichi x Rena antics? Would they be disappointed to learn the series is actually about Rika and Satoko?

Satoko
She did the thing.

In any case, Higurashi SOTSU seems headed for a big finish now, which is itself an accomplishment of sorts considering how bewildered I was just a couple weeks ago how SOTSU might wrap anything up by the 15th episode. From the looks of it, Satoko will not compromise. It's quite a testament to the absurd lengths she will go to simply to avoid having to play the role of a phony bitch for a few years. It must have also occurred to her that she could keep her aversion to schoolwork by simply working out techniques for cheating her way though Fancy Cunts Academy. That she never did really is a testament to how hostile she was toward school in general and that school specifically as a matter of principle.