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

Dated 25 May 2021: Thunderbolt Fantasy season three is the most complicated puppet show I have ever watched

Rin and Sho
I heard you like puppets.

Admittedly, I have not watched very many puppet shows, but the list of puppet shows that I have watched does include seasons one and two of Thunderbolt Fantasy, so I think I am at least somewhat entitled to characterize its third season as being more complex than its predecessors. At a minimum, I feel it takes focused concentration to ensure I am not missing critical plot developments or under-appreciating character decisions. This is not to say Thunderbolt Fantasy: Tōriken Yūki 3 is a daunting show to follow in principle—just that there are some factors making it a surprisingly demanding watch considering I initially got on board strictly for puppet-fu.

Nanasatsu Tenryo
If you're going to spend the rest of your life as a sword, you may as well look fabulous.

For one thing, the names of the characters are spoken in Japanese, but the subtitles display their Chinese (or sometimes English) variants. This practice is not unique to the third season, but has made names more difficult to remember as the cast list grows. And then every character seems to have their own thing going on, so there are more plot threads to track. Additionally, most of the scenes this season have been somewhat dimly lit. This doesn't help when characters are routinely changing locations by literally teleporting through magic portals. Sometimes it's difficult to determine if I'm supposed to recognize locations. Still, these are not strong complaints, and Thunderbolt Fantasy continues to serve up awesome Taiwanese puppet fights, so I'm pretty stoked this third season exists at all.

Dated 30 March 2021: Re:Zero II 2 was probably a good season for Emilia fans

Subaru and Roswaal
It's fine, they're cool now.

My enjoyment of the Re:Zero anime has been inconsistent. I initially lost interest in the series quite early and dropped the show more than once. I finally picked it up again after enjoying Isekai Quartet and its myriad gags about Ram being smug and/or abusive. After finally sticking with the first season, I did enjoy most of it. I also liked the first half of the second season, but the most recent cours, Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2, did not hold my interest.

Emilia
I'm going to claim Puck is a shitty parent.

If I had to say why, I guess it's because I found Garfiel rather grating. He has legitimate reasons for being that way, but they didn't make him less tiresome to watch. This cours also focused heavily on Emilia, and deservedly so. Unfortunately, I've never had any interest in Emilia, so I wasn't exactly invested in her arc. If you are a big fan of Emilia, then I would expect you to regard this cours as being one of the strongest ones of the anime thus far. However, it is difficult for me to weigh this objectively, so possibly it still dragged even for Emilia superstans. Presuming there is a third season, I am going to continue watching it, but I do hope it gets better. Maybe have some more Rem? I could go for more Rem now.

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 8 December 2020: Golden Kamuy is the best show of the season

Sugimoto
Sugimoto embarks on another culinary adventure.

I probably don't mention Golden Kamuy enough, considering how good it is. Its third season is easily the best show from the Autumn 2020 anime season, at least among the 20-ish titles I've sampled. (Really, it's more like the third split cours of a continuous narrative than a third "season" necessarily.)

Asirpa
I hope y'all are also taking measurements and not just copying by eye.

Launching into the Golden Kamuy anime from its starting point involves crashing headlong into some really janky 3DCG work in the first season, but the show itself is excellent. The anime's episode count is still only in the low thirties, so it's not a huge commitment for anyone curious about getting into it for the first time.

Hijikata and Ushiyama
Hijikata is the strongest swordsman because he carries a rifle.

Of course, the other option is to just read the source manga instead. The 19th volume of the official English language release comes out this month. However, the manga is still ongoing with new chapters appearing weekly. I've heard the fan translations are quite good and provide well-researched contextual notes. Personally, I've been sticking with the official releases, so I'm quite a bit behind when it comes to the manga, but at least I'm caught up with the anime.

Dated 17 November 2020: More dropped shows from the Autumn 2020 anime season

Kasumi
Kasumi is a treasure trove of facial expressions.

In addition to Senyoku no Sigrdrifa and Assault Lily: BOUQUET, I've also dropped Tonikaku Kawaii (TONIKAWA: Over The Moon For You), Love Live! Nijigasaki Gakuen School Idol Doukoukai (Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club), Guraburu! (Grand Blues!), and Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen (Our Last Crusade or the Rise of a New World). Damn, these are some long titles. Of this batch, only Last Crusade is legitimately bad. The rest of them I would watch during a duller season.

Tsukasa and Nasa
Dude's wife is a saint for putting up with this shit.

In the case of TONIKAWA, it's fine when Nasa isn't freaking out, but he freaks out a lot, and I don't see much benefit in putting up with this when I could just read the manga instead. These sorts of reactions are much more tolerable in print than as anime.

Love Live! Nijigasaki is probably really just on hold, and not actually dropped, since I've seen every other Love Live! thing that's out there. Then again, the franchise will probably continue to churn out new properties for some time, and I certainly don't feel obligated to watch those future installments. The characters are sort of dull, though. I probably would not be dropping Nijigasaki otherwise.

Guraburu! seems fine, and each episode is only a few minutes long, so it's not as if there would be much of a commitment to continue watching. However, it's clearly aimed at people who play the Granblue Fantasy game, so I'm wasn't getting much out of it.

Iska and Mismis
Wide car.

Kimi to Boku no Saigo no Senjou, Aruiwa Sekai ga Hajimaru Seisen put more effort into the title than the show itself. Really, it's not even worth explaining. It's as unimpressive—if not worse—than the trailer suggested. I somehow still watched three episodes for Tenchan, though.

Dated 27 October 2020: More more more Autumn 2020 impressions

Tsurumi and Tsukishima
He had it coming.

Some of the shows I covered in previous posts (1st, 2nd, 3rd) included remakes and sequels or continuations. Well, there are more. Golden Kamuy also resumed this season. It's described as the third season, but really it's just the third cours of series. The anime remains as good as ever, thanks to the strength of the source material. In fact, the anime has improved by thus far avoiding the 3DCG pitfalls that unfortunately distracted from the first cours.

Mutsuko and Daigo
Daigo is short.

Major 2nd S2 remains consistently good as anyone who has ever followed the franchise would expect. The current arc again revisits events from the first season of Major 2nd, but it should still be accessible to new viewers. Well, they can be new to Major, but it probably helps to know at least a little about baseball. At a minimum, it will reinforce how relatively lucky the new girl has been so far despite making a lot of basic mistakes.

Akira
This is not actually a room.

One Room is also back for a third season. It's first-person-anime gimmick seems a bit lewder this time around than I remember from the previous installments. However, it's still fairly tame even though the first girl found an excuse to whip off her clothes by the second episode. I guess since the characters only gets three episodes for each arc they have to make the best of their opportunities.

Hattori and Miyafuji
Strike Witches is still Miyafuji's show.

Going the other way, Strike Witches: Dai-501 Tougou Sentou Koukuudan ROAD to BERLIN (the third "proper" season of Strike Witches) is definitely less lewd now compared to how it started out. The first season of Strike Witches featured uncensored casual nudity on a fairly regular basis. This season started with an appearance by Sakamoto Mio wearing pants, of all things. PANTS!

Dated 29 September 2020: The End of Oregairu ~Air/My Purest Yahallo for Thee~

Iroha
BEST GIRL.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Kan (My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax!, among other localized names) completed the three-season run of a harem comedy that fared surprisingly well despite my initial misgivings. Generally speaking, the term "harem comedy" itself feels anachronistic now and less appropriate even when applied to shows such as Gotoubun no Hanayome (The Quintessential Quintuplets) compared to the label's Love Hina-era association (at least in my mind). I suppose it's probably still applicable for shows such as Kanojo, Okarishimasu (Rent-a-Girlfriend). But I digress.

Yui
Oregairu might have been a better series if told from Yui's point of view.

These types of shows invoke a competitive element that pits various female protagonists against each other to vie for the male lead's affection, ultimately "winning" by becoming the romantic interest he selects at the conclusion of the series. Longtime readers of this blog may remember I'm not a fan of this construct when the male lead is so frequently a dull sap, to say nothing of the ones who are legitimately terrible cretins. I'm did not watch Kanojo, Okarishimasu, but I did watch it get shredded on the Twitter, and Potato-kun appears to be a colossal douche in addition to the show's numerous other problems. Does the girl who ultimately ends up with such a character really win? [Spoilers: No.]

Hachiman and Yukino
Kids and their selfies.

Oregairu does not suffer from this particular problem, at least by its conclusion. Hachiman in the third season is no longer the same person he was in the first season. Unfortunately, the girl who ultimately "wins" has her own issues. [Spoilers henceforth, obviously, if you haven't already either seen this coming or learned about it via some other way, such as discussions about the light novels' ending.]

Komachi and Iroha
It's about the future, Madam Chancellor.

Yukino is not interesting. She is supposed to be the most complex of the various love interests, and has some significant hang-ups that admittedly align well with Hachiman's character, but I never found her problems or growth compelling. As far as "winning" the harem comedy contest goes, she is the most sensible one to pair with Hachiman, but my lack of investment in their relationship makes the show's resolution somewhat hollow. Ultimately, it was still a good journey, and I can appreciate why Oregairu accumulated so much praise during its run, but I can't quite point to it as a much-watch show by any means.