Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
karmaburn.com karmaburn.com

Dated 24 June 2019: Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! takes us behind the lines of the War on Pants

Mio
Sakamoto is more of a nutjob than I remember.

It's been more than 12 years since the first Strike Witches OVA. Since that time, we've gotten a proper television series, a sequel series, a spinoff series, a movie, more OVAs, and this season's Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! (Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!) comedy series with half-length episodes. Additionally, I understand there are more sequels and spinoffs in the works, so it seems we'll continue to wage the War on Pants for some time to come. The weakest aspect of the Strike Witches universe (now actually the World Witches universe) has always been the Neuroi—the boring, vaguely threatening opponents with no personalities that our stalwart witches must fight. Fortunately, Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! is entirely Neuroi-free, as the show is strictly about the 501st Joint Fighter Wing fucking around in garrison.

Barkhorn and Hartmann
Go on, Barkhorn, curse the bitch out.

Surprisingly, this setting worked quite favorably for Erica Hartmann and Miyafuji Yoshika as characters. I wasn't fans of either of them going in, but I like them both a lot better now. I'm glad Hartmann in particular got more to do than merely be a lazy slob. I wasn't expecting her to be the focus of so many of the show's best gags. In Miyafuji's case, I think being free of her Main Character baggage made her scenes a lot better. Miyafuji stopped being on my shitlist after the Strike Witches movie, but she's still better off in a supporting role.

Yoshika
This style probably takes less time to draw, I'd imagine.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the character design changes. I'm not a huge fan of this style. I can understand why they're different for this sort of show, but the effect isn't as successful as, say, the changes for Isekai Quartet. Also, I do wish Strike Witches 501 Butai Hasshin-shimasu! had brought back casual nudity, which used to be a staple of the franchise. Sure, these character designs are not quite as...aerodynamic as the normal ones, but I think it would have made for some amusing gags. Casual nudity has been missing from the World Witches universe for quite some time now, so bringing it back unexpectedly in this guise would have been quite the bombshell in the War on Pants.

Dated 13 May 2019: Isekai Quartet is a ploy to get us to watch more isekai anime

Ainz
It's because Ainz can't close his eyes. He has no eyelids.

As far as gimmicks go, I find Isekai Quartet fairly effective because I'm a sucker for crossovers. Plus, I was already a fan of the Ple Ple Pleiades shorts accompanying the Overlord anime. Isekai Quartet essentially expands Ple Ple Pleiades by adding characters from Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu, Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, and Youjo Senki for additionally high-wacky antics. I have watched all of these shows, and although I dropped Re:Zero after five episodes, I'm at least familiar enough with the franchise to understand the basic references and character dynamics.

Ram
Ram seems okay.

As far as the show itself goes, Isekai Quartet has half-length episodes and is not particularly ambitious. It seems to mostly trust that viewers will enjoy seeing the interactions among characters from different shows they already like. Nobody strays too far from their idiom, and the series is entertaining enough for what it is. Isekai Quartet is surely also an effort to encourage viewers to explore these shows further if they didn't catch them the first time around. Youjo Senki and Konosuba both have movies I want to watch, and Re:Zero recently announced a sequel. I have to admit that I'm amused enough by Ram's mistreatment of Subaru during each episode of Isekai Quartet that I'm considering giving the first season of Re:Zero another chance. If I do, maybe I'll be caught up before the sequel begins. Just as planned, I'm sure, eh, Kadokawa.

Dated 15 April 2019: I'm watching two baseball anime this season

Touma and Souichirou
Touma is shorter and has messier hair.

The Spring 2019 anime season features Mix: Meisei Story and Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine, two fairly different baseball anime. The former is an adaptation of a still-running Adachi Mitsuru manga and an apparent sequel set 30 years after one of his classics, Touch. Although I've only read the first few chapters of Mix, I have read Touch as well as a number of other Adachi titles. I also watched Cross Game, so I'm reasonably confident that Mix is basically guaranteed to be good, although I imagine newcomers to Adachi's work may wonder why everyone has the same face. I'm also counting on at least one tragic character death. Hey, baseball is a cruel sport, okay. I don't know how long the Mix anime is expected to run, but I wouldn't be surprised if it ends up lasting all year.

Ukita
TWO HANDS!

Unlike Mix, where baseball has been a part of the characters' lives for a long time, Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine features mostly neophytes, at least in terms of skill level. It also features a meek, somewhat clumsy girl in an animal-ears hoodie whose initial defining characteristic was anxiety. I was prepared to loathe her on general principle, but I suppose it's a credit to Cinderella Nine that I pretty much regard her as at least "okay" now after two episodes. The show does feel like yet another show where a bunch of girls are all really into something that girls stereotypically don't care so much about, but there are quite a few shows in that vein that still turn out to be very good, so I'm willing to give Cinderella Nine the benefit of the doubt. I'm not expecting it to be anywhere near as good as Taisho Yakyuu Musume or Princess Nine, but I'm hopeful the baseball itself will be better in Cinderella Nine than it was in Princess Nine. (See this earlier post for more on that.)

Dated 3 December 2018: Look, I don't care if Japanese-speaking Taiwanese puppets aren't really anime, Thunderbolt Fantasy is great

Xie and Shang
Well, she did poison him.

Oh. Have I not previously blogged about watching Thunderbolt Fantasy? So yeah, Urobuchi Gen of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero, and Psycho-Pass fame apparently got interested in Taiwanese puppet shows one day and got the ball rolling on the first season of Thunderbolt Fantasy in 2016. It turns out Taiwanese puppet shows are awesome and wuxia puppetry was a genre I didn't realized I was interested in. I also found the production values unexpectedly good. Are Taiwanese puppets shows always like this? As an additional bonus, Sawano Hiroyuki's music supports a solid cast.

Lin
These are some fancy puppets.

The second season of Thunderbolt Fantasy is currently airing. (Yes, you should watch the first season before starting this one.) Not all the surviving characters from the first season have yet reappeared in the second season. I'm actually a little surprised at the relatively small number of characters thus far in the sequel. I'm much more accustomed to ballooning cast lists as shows run longer. This has also prevented the sequel from following a "sword-of-the-week" formula like I had originally feared. And while the highs are yet not quite as good as those of the first season, I am enjoying the sequel and am basically prepared to watch more Taiwanese puppet shows as they become available.

Dated 26 November 2018: I heard Golden Kamuy is leaving out a lot of material from the manga

Inkarmat
Inkarmat is Best Girl.

I'm pretty far behind in the Golden Kamuy manga. As in, I can't remember how many volumes I've purchased and not yet read, and I have no idea how many fan-translated chapters are currently available. However, I am caught up on the anime. From the looks of it, there is a conspicuous absence of the sort of animals that had been rendered in 3DCG during the first season. I don't know if this is a coincidence, or if the anime is actually cutting scenes that feature bears and wolves in order to avoid the sort of distractions that widespread criticism of 3DCG animals generated during the first cours.

Asirpa
Suck it, Asirpa.

I have been informed, however, that the anime has been truncating some arcs or skipping them entirely. The prevailing theory seems to be that it's an effort to accelerate the events in order to reach a notable climax at the end of this season. So it might actually be also cutting scenes that would have otherwise featured 3DCG animals, albeit just sort of fortuitously and not as a primary goal. I can definitely tell some events have been left out or condensed, but I don't think it has hurt the anime too much. After all, Golden Kamuy is still comfortably in my top three shows for the current season. Maybe I'll feel differently after I finally catch up with the manga, but I don't have any serious complaints for now.

Dated 19 November 2018: I still don't really get JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (now with more Golden Wind)

Giorno
Hope you like tanlines.

Considering how many episodes of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure I've seen so far (i.e., all of the anime series currently available), you'd think I'd appreciate it more. Instead, I'm not at all invested in the current season, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Ougon no Kaze (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Golden Wind). Rather, I'm basically watching it on general principle because I recognize how signficant the property is to the manga and anime landscape as a whole.

Giorno and Guido
To be fair, lunch is pretty important.

This is not to say that I don't enjoy any of it, as the current season retains the show's trademark creativity and stylish nature. However, having a larger divide between it and the characters from the previous seaasons (at least so far) probably keeps me from being as enthused with the current cast. Possibly this is also one of those cases where it helps to have read the manga first, but I think my general aversion to shounen jive also applies here. I do intend to keep watching, but I'm hoping Golden Wind gets more interesting to me sooner than later.

Dated 5 November 2018: I'm not sure I want to watch a full year of Sword Art Online: Alicization

Kazuto
Relax, he's fine.

I don't regard myself as part of the Sword Art Online fandom, a demographic I associate with "newer" anime fans (newer than me, okay), but at the same time I think I'm much less critical of the franchise than most "old ass" anime fans. Pretty much all of the major criticisms of the anime and its source material are accurate, but I also take the position—somewhat—that it doesn't really matter. Not exactly high praise, indeed, but perhaps sufficient to establish that I am happy to watch Sword Art Online: Alicization, yet not particularly enthused that it is reportedly going to be about 50 episodes long.

Asuna, Midori, and Suguha
Asuna is the best-dressed guest at this hosptial.

I think I've already been spoiled on most of the major Alicization plot developments. At least nothing in first five scene-setting episodes seemed unexpected. This does make me wonder what it is about the show that I'm even anticipating, though. Potentially, I'm only watching because Sword Art Online is a big property and I'm motivated to stay up to date since I've seen all of the anime thus far already. That could be it, but there are plenty of big shows that I've simply abandoned or ignored completely.

Yui, Suguha, and Asuna
If you didn't watch the SAO: Ordinal Scale movie, you may be confused why Yui is here.

I can't even claim to be watching it for the characters, since I'm only modestly fond of Asuna and Yui and basically ambivalent about everyone else, at best. All those jokes about MORE DEBAN? Yeah, I don't really care if y'all get more deban or not. Oh, I also like the character who died of AIDS, but I'm not expecting her to make an appearance in SAO: Alicization. You know, because she already died of AIDS. At least I think Kajiura Yuki is still doing the music, so there you go; that'll be my motivation for dragging myself through this show for the next year.

Dated 13 August 2018: I like Overlord better the more I watch it

Nfirea, Enri, and Nemu
Enri put on her best clothes for the visit, but not only did Nfirea
not even bother to change his shirt, it isn't even tucked in.

The third season of Overlord thankfully had only a three-month hiatus following the second season. The break between the first and second season was more than two years, which was entirely too long for casual fans of the anime who had not read the books. A lot of the events that occur in Overlord happen simultaneously or close to it, so it's helpful to keep the timeline and chain of events straight as more and more characters get introduced. That was a lot harder to do when I could barely remember a lot of the context I was supposed to know.

(more…)