Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 11 June 2024: I'm only sort of watching Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha: Shijou Saikyou no Maou no Shiso, Tensei shite Shison-tachi no Gakkou e Kayou II Part 2

Anos, Sasha, Misha, and Arcana
Small bed for four people.

I don't have a compelling reason to still be watching Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha: Shijou Saikyou no Maou no Shiso, Tensei shite Shison-tachi no Gakkou e Kayou II Part 2 (The Misfit of Demon King Academy: History’s Strongest Demon King Reincarnates and Goes to School with His Descendants Season 2 Part 2), but I also don't have a reason to stop. I'm not invested in the stories, the constant use of janky 3DCG is sort of offputting, and I probably would stop if the characters from the first season received less screen time, but for now I'm still watching it week-to-week because, well, I'm not sure.

Sasha
Or maybe I simply like Sasha.

I will give it this: It's not boring. That's way more than I can say of a lot other shows. I might not care about what happens, but what happens is reliably amusing and unpredictable, even though I know conflicts will broadly involve Maou-kun triumphing over some douche. I can't claim the lore is complex, but there is a lot of it, and it's detailed enough that I would not be able to explain the current season to someone who wanted an accurate synopsis. It's probably easier for younger viewers of Maou-kun Goes to Maou High School to be more enthusiastic about the series. If I had to determine why I'm still watching this show, it's probably because it's good enough that I want to be caught up if a future installment happens to run during an unusually slow season where I have fewer alternatives to follow. However, here during Spring 2024, I've got 10 other shows that I generally prioritize more.

Dated 14 May 2024: I still like Konosuba

Aqua and Kazuma
The balloons are a nice touch.

Since I enjoyed the first two seasons and also agreed the movie deserved its high praise, I didn't have a good reason to worry that I wouldn't like Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 3 (KONOSUBA -God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! 3). Still, I felt the latest installment from the franchise (the Megumin spinoff) faltered a bit, and it's not uncommon for sequels to underperform compared to their predecessors. Thankfully, the third season of Konosuba continues to highlight what makes it good: Lousy people being shitty to each other.

Megumin, Darkness, Aqua
It's not easy being Lalatina.

Well, they're not all lousy people, and they're not always shitty to each other. Notably, I guess I can't characterize Darkness that way, at least not in the way Aqua, Kazuma, and Megumin easily fit that description. Darkness is only lousy when the series continues to beat her masochist drum. Repeating that joke too much is one of the most notable failing of Konosuba as a series. However, I'm pleased the third season has refrained from overplaying that gag. In fact, Darkness actually gets some much-needed expansions to her character. She's now the decent, apologetic person who has to constantly corral her unruly and irreverent friends. Poor Lalatina, you don't deserve this. Still, watching you woefully suffer is a good change of pace from your usual shtick.

Dated 30 April 2024: Yuru Campâ–³ seems to be more about the destination now than the journey

Nadeshiko
Keep your fingers away from the lens, Nadeshiko.

I know there were some changes on the production side before the start of Yuru Campâ–³ SEASON 3 (Laid-Back Camp Season 3), but I don't know if they're responsible for the different vibes I'm getting compared to the previous seasons. Part of this is the revised character designs. While I don't find them objectionable, if I compare them against the first-season character designs, I unquestionably prefer the previous ones more. It's particularly apparent during back-to-back viewings of episodes or clips from the earlier seasons.

Rin and Ayano
Rin looks more obviously different to me than Ayano does.

However, the real departure in Yuru Campâ–³ SEASON 3 compared to where the anime began is in the excruciatingly detailed, photorealistic backgrounds that appear in seemingly every scene now. I presume this is accomplished by taking actual photographs or video footage of locations and filtering them to fit in with the rest of the anime. I don't know this is what's actually happening, but I get the strong sense that the motivation driving this practice has to do with encouraging anime tourism, or at least attracting fans who recognize anime tourism is an activity they could theoretically enjoy.

Nadeshiko
You could stand RIGHT HERE!

Fans of the Yuru Campâ–³ anime most definitely geolocated where scenes occurred and made pilgrimages following the first two seasons. Perhaps the pursuit of emotional and spiritual satisfaction motivated these trips, or maybe it was to feed social-type media beasts. In any case, providing these fans comported themselves as good tourists instead of being nuisances to the locals, I can see why encouraging further visits of this sort might occur. That's what season three feels like now to me. As much as I enjoy the series, I can't shake the overwhelming feeling that I watching a vacation promo for each destination.

Dated 26 March 2024: I have too many shows teed up for Spring 2024

Nadeshiko
It's not a metaphor.

With less than a week left before the start of the Spring 2024 anime season, I currently have 19 shows that I'm willing to at least try. Moreover, I compiled this list weeks ago without closely scrutinizing what series will even be airing in April. There's a good chance I've overlooked multiple anime I'd also consider, and I may have missed series that were announced only recently. Based on past experiences, what's likely to happen is I'll end up dropping a lot of these, but that still leaves a significant number of shows to follow.

Kumiko
I didn't expect to like Hibike! Euphonium more now than when I started the series.

Some of these titles are a lock. For example, I'm guaranteed to follow Yuru Campâ–³ SEASON 3, Hibike! Euphonium 3, and Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 3 (KONOSUBA -God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! 3), and Wonderful Precure! regardless of how they turn out. Likewise, I'll probably stick with Kimetsu no Yaiba: Hashira Geiko-hen (Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Hashira Training Arc) and The iDOLM@STER: Shiny Colors.

Mano
Everything know about Shiny idols, I learned from fan art.

Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha: Shijou Saikyou no Maou no Shiso, Tensei shite Shison-tachi no Gakkou e Kayou II Part 2 (The Misfit of Demon King Academy: History’s Strongest Demon King Reincarnates and Goes to School with His Descendants Season 2 Part 2) probably has enough momentum that I won't drop it outright, and I'm curious enough about the Spice and Wolf do-over (Ookami to Koushinryou: merchant meets the wise wolf) that I'll at least watch some of it, despite finding the first anime horribly overrated.1 Anyway, I support the assertion that good media do not need to be remade. Rather, it's the bad ones that would benefit from an opportunity at being unfucked. Since I have a generally negative opinion about the 2008 Spicy Wolf, then this remake should be right up my alley. I hope it's not bad a second time.

Lawrence and Holo
I've since learned Holo has "the form of a sweet 15-year-old girl" via @Kotobukiya_EN.

Besides these and a few more I didn't mention, the current lineup also includes eight new shows, at least two of which are anime-originals. There's even a baseball anime. This place could use more robots, though. Preferably giant ones, but I'm not going to be picky if the alternative is a robot-free-zone spanning three months, alas. It's probably hypocritical of me to say this, though, seeing as how I never got around to watching Brave Bang Bravern! during Winter 2024. I heard it's great. I suppose I could just watch that, but I can't resist New Season allure, and there's so much of it.


Note 1: I got to Spice and Wolf late, after its positive reputation was well established and generally uncontroversial. Well, I disliked nearly all of it for reasons too lengthy to include in this aside. I probably should have written a blog post detailing those reasons at some point instead of bitching about it on the IRC and on the Twitter (such as here, for example).

Dated 13 February 2024: In re Yamada's friends in BokuYaba

Serina, Kyoutarou, Chihiro, and Moeko
They're leaving Bayashiko in the dark on purpose, right?

Midway through Boku no Kokoro no Yabai Yatsu 2nd Season (The Dangers in My Heart Season 2), three of Yamada Anna's friends should be familiar faces to the viewer. Anna does have other friends throughout the school, but three classmates in particular form a regular group—one that has increasingly integrated Ichikawa Kyoutarou into the circle over time. So who are these three?

Kyoutarou and Moeko
I like that apron.

Sekine Moeko is the one who unabashedly claimed physical attractiveness was the most important quality she considered in prospective boyfriends. Kyoutarou took an immediate disliking to her. However, with Anna serving as their initial mutual "friend of a friend" nexus, Kyoutarou and Moeko have since advanced to the stage where they're also friends with each other, independent of Anna, even if Kyoutarou doesn't necessarily realize it himself.

Serina and Anna
It's fine, just roll with it.

Yoshida Serina gets the least amount of attention of the three as far as the story goes, but she's observant and insightful even though she doesn't always reveal what she knows. Serina is the one who was uncomfortable with Moeko's casual lie to Anna's mother. She's also the one who noticed Kyoutarou knew which elevator button to press, and where the bathroom was.

Moeko, Serina, Anna, and Chihiro
It's not easy being Bayashiko.

Kobayashi Chihiro is the focal point for a lot of Yamada-based antics and reaction gags. Of these three friends, Chihiro is the one who is slowest at realizing why Anna and Kyoutarou seem to spend so much time together. I'm not quite ready to call her the dumb one, but I'm certainly not going to characterize her as the smart one either. Also, it doesn't seem to come up often enough, but I'd like to acknowledge that "Bayashiko" is a fantastic nickname. Sure, people refer to Anna as "Dayama" too, but that doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Dated 2 January 2024: The End of 2023 ~Air/My Purest Heart for Tired Evangelion Jokes~

Suletta
I don't mention Witch Gundam until the end.

I started out thinking about doing a "Best Anime of 2023" summary, considered a "Favorite Anime of 2023" post would be better instead, then briefly contemplated an "Underrated Anime of 2023" write-up next before settling on just highlighting a few series I enjoyed without constraining myself to any particular category. And here we are. Don't be afraid of your freedom.

Yamada
This is the face Anna makes when she overhears people speaking from the heart.

Foremost is BokuYaba (Boku no Kokoro no Yabai Yatsu | The Dangers in My Heart), which I'm front-loading because its second season begins on January 7th. Get on it, if you haven't already. This has been a hard sell on occasion because summaries describing it are so misleading. The irony is not lost on me that a series I praise for its authenticity deceives the audience at the outset with misdirection. As I've previously advised, Kyoutarou is not an "edgelord," he's a cringelord. BokuYaba is about the mistakes that occur when people make bad assumptions about themselves and others. Likewise, it's a mistake to make assumptions about BokuYaba.

Soyo, Raana, and Taki
MVP.

Second, I got to BanG Dream! It's MyGO!!!!! late, but better late than never, eh. I had initially written it off as some sort of Cute Girls Doing Cute Thing show cobbled together as a vehicle for yuri 'shipping, but it turns out to be about DRAMA. Probably, technically, it's melodrama, but that bit when Best Girl Rāna starts backing up the singer (whose pockets may still be filled with rolly pollies) while she's forcing herself to bleed out on stage instead of packing up so everyone can get the Hell out of there? And then Rāna seamlessly transitions to The Forbidden Song that causes the Begging Bassist to go completely mental as The Quitter quits the venue and nearly banishes herself from the hero's party by piling down some stairs? That is some Good Shit right there.

Ganta and Isaki
Especially if the entire story includes telescopic sex.

Kimi wa Houkago Insomnia (Insomniacs After School) was a lot better than I was expecting. It's not much of a stretch to imagine a couple of teenagers who spend a lot of time napping together might also fall in love, so, spoilers, I guess. Mostly I'm glad neither of them tragically dropped dead at the end of the anime or some bullshit like that. The manga did end recently, but the U.S. release is still 10 volumes behind, so I'm on the fence about reading it before it's caught up, considering how many other titles I'm still following. What they ought to do is make more of the anime and cover the entire story.

Umi
Not one Like!

The IDOLM@STER Million Live! was entirely too short considering how many idols it featured, but at least we got an Umi episode. If y'all ain't heard, I do love me some Umimi.

Frieren
I enjoyed how nonchalantly Frieren made this decision.

Beyond this list, there are a lot of really good shows that I watched in 2023 that you probably already know about. Like, is it necessary to say I'm enjoying Sousou no Frieren (Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End), or that Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury) was fuckin' great? The former is hugely popular and is continuing into the Winter 2024 anime season, and the latter is frickin' Gundam, so it's not as if anyone is going to forget about it. I certainly won't. Honestly, there is entirely too much capital-G Good anime each year, and 2024 doesn't seem as if it will be any different.

Dated 26 December 2023: The End of Otona Pretty Cure ~Air/My Purest Heart for Cure Wrecking Machine~

Cure Dream and Bunbee
Believe it, Bunbee.

Should Kibou no Chikara ~Otona Precure '23~ (Power of Hope ~Precure Full Bloom~) be examined through the lens used for every other iteration in the Pretty Cure franchise, or should it be viewed (and judged) by standards applied to shows intended for adults? The expectations and allowances adopted can either magnify or diminish both the flaws (3DCG monsters, I'm looking in your direction) and the attributes of the series. I won't attempt to comprehensively address them all, but I bring this up now to acknowledge I'll be leaving some things unsaid. My attitude towards Otona Pretty Cure is generally positive, but you might catch a few laments if you follow me on the 𝕏 née Twitter.

Mai and Saki
I'm shocked Saki ended up being the one with the best hair.

It still feels miraculous that Otona Precure exists at all. I also sort of got the sense that the production team shared this sentiment. Specifically, it seemed like I was watching a show being made by people who thought they only had one shot at this. That's not an unreasonable position to take. First Pretty Cure itself surely wasn't expected to launch a franchise that has run 20 years and counting. Maybe there will be more Otona Precure someday (the ending certainly leaves the possibility open), but it wouldn't be safe to assume there will be. Consequently, I got the impression there was pressure to cram as much as they could into the 12 episodes they had. (Yes, I'm aware there's some sort of Mahou Tsukai Precure! 2 thing planned, but I'm not expecting it to overlap with this.) Incidentally, there are spoilers the rest of the way out, so avert your eyes if you ain't watched this yet.

Michiru and Kaoru
I wonder if all their paperwork is forged. I think they're technically illegal aliens.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is Otona Pretty Cure jammed a lot of stuff in here. Notably, Michiru and Kaoru finally got some recognition. As someone who has been constantly complaining about their omissions from team-up events and retrospectives, it was fantastic to see them return. Still, I'm on the fence about they way they were presented. Namely, I think they should still have at least some of the power they had in Splash Star. We did see them fly in the final episode, right? Possibly, they do have their powers, but chose to sit things out for the same reason Bunbee (who apparently does still have his powers) kept his head down and fled when pressed. But, yeah, this was a missed opportunity to officially confer upon them the Cure Bright and Cure Windy designations that they've long deserved.

Dream, Black, Rouge, White, Aqua, Mint, and Lemonade
The opportunity to bring back the original battle costumes was right there!

So, no, Cure Bright and Cure Windy did not appear in any form, but Cure Black, Cure White, and Shiny Luminous all did. This was hidden from the promotional materials and made their appearance a bit of a surprise, but much less so considering it was telegraphed the instant Honoka's grandmother appeared in Otona Precure. As glad as I was to see them again, I would have preferred keeping them out of this season entirely, instead focusing on them in a future installment. Admittedly, that's difficult to do when there's no guarantee there will ever be any more later.

Bloom and Egret
These two are so good.

I feel the need to point out the Max Heart and Splash Star teams were originally unable to unilaterally transform. They needed to be with their partners and their fairy counterparts. This would have been another reason to withhold first-generation Pretty Cure from Power of Hope ~Precure Full Bloom~. I would also have been okay with this limitation preventing Cure Bloom and Cure Egret from participating in the battles. Don't get me wrong, I love that Splash Star was included in this project, but Saki and Mai meant more to me than Bloom and Egret here. I think they could have still meaningfully contributed as regular adults who couldn't transform into Pretty Cure again, in contrast to the Yes! Cures who could.

Yuuko and Kenta
I wasn't expecting these two to be in the series at all.

Ultimately, the caveat expressed at the very start of Otona Precure (that there are many different possible futures, arguably making none of them capital-C Canon) ends up being the important factor. Maybe this is the possible future where Black, White, Luminous, Bloom, and Egret can all transform without their fairy mascot counterparts. Maybe this is the possible future where individual action can overcome industrialized irresponsibility. Maybe this is the possible future where the queen of Palmier Kingdom still works a day job in Japan. Oh. I'm going to have to address this, aren't I?

Milk
Otona Pretty Cure 2: Civil War.

I've never been a fan of the Nozomi x Coco 'ship, although I have to assume it's reasonably popular among the sort of audiences for whom Yes! Pretty Cure 5 was originally intended. In case you somehow still don't know, Coco is an adult who (we now learn) fell for Nozomi when he lured her into an alley met her by chance when she was 13. He was also her middle school teacher. Oh, and his human form is the alter ego of his real form, a ridiculous fairy mascot who is lucky to have Nuts by his side to make him look competent in comparison. And, yeah, he's the (a?) monarch of Palmier Kingdom, a country populated entirely by ridiculous fairy mascots doomed to fight an unavoidable water-rights war with the neighboring Donuts Kingdom. I expect losing this war will trigger the coup Milk has planned.

Nozomi and Coco
Was Coco in his fairy mascot form during the ceremony?
Did he include his verbal tic when reciting his vows?

ANYWAY, back in 2008, Coco and Nozomi (Cure Dream, technically) shared the first (and only?) on-screen kiss of the Pretty Cure franchise. Although Otona Precure did not feel beholden to pairing up Saki with Mai's brother, or Komachi with Nuts (Natts, whatever), or Urara with Syrup, it did not pass up the chance to goose the Nozomi x Coco 'shippers. So, now they're married (which really raises a lot of questions if you think about it even a little bit, but I recommend not dwelling on it at all), which explains why Coco was sort of hanging out for the second half of the show doing fuck all. He didn't need to be there, but I guess he did if he and Nozomi were going to get married. That didn't really need to happen during this season either, but I guess it did if "this season," is going to be "the only season," and there's no guarantee it's not. Maybe someday we'll get some more. Each tomorrow is but another possible future.

Dated 5 December 2023: I'm not as interested in The Ancient Magus’ Bride as I used to be

Morrigan and Chise
On the plus side, Ayako Doctrine invoked.

I've been buying the Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus’ Bride) manga for more than eight years. When I started, I didn't really think about how long I'd be reading it, let along buying it, but I do have volume 19 pre-ordered. I still enjoy it, but it's no surprise the story has evolved over that time. And when I say it has evolved, I mean it gained a magic school arc. This is also the focus of Mahoutsukai no Yome SEASON 2 Part 2, currently airing now. Seeing as how Chise is still a teenager, it does make sense to end her prolonged truancy. It's also providing more opportunities for her to interact with humans her age.

Philomela and Chise
How you feel about Philomela will influence how you feel about the magic school arc.

Unfortunately, I—as the reader and viewer observing Chise's life of sorcery and mystical weirdness—don't care so much about the other humans her age. I mean, they're fine. A lot of them have had shitty lives, and some of them have exasperating hangups, as one might expect of humans in general and human teenagers in particular, but I don't find the sources of these tensions quite as engaging as one might expect. So yeah, I'm still watching the anime, and I'm still buying the manga, and I'm even still enjoying them both, but I do sometimes wish I could see what Silky has been up to instead.