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

Dated 24 May 2022: Summertime Render got more interesting when its POV character changed

Hizuru
Hizuru just does this sometimes.

Summertime Render (alternatively, Summer Time Rendering or other variations) is a two-cours adaptation of a 13-volume manga. Really, I only started watching it as an excuse to expand my collection of posts containing the Ghost Girlfriends tag, even though the ghost girlfriend in question seems to be stuck wearing a swimsuit forever in the afterlife.

Shinpei and Mio
I originally thought Mio was a lot younger.

I'm not a huge fan of Potato-kun, but he's at least not ruining the show for me. Nevertheless, I did get a lot more interested in the series once the point of view in the latest episode shifted to the mysterious lady who was initially notable mostly for her prominent breasts. I'm going to claim it's because her perspective provided clarity and focus to some of the mysteries presented during the previous five episodes, but I can't rule out the possibility it's actually because I like her birth control glasses and Hikasa Youko coolness.

Hizuru
"My glasses are up here."

So is Summertime Render actually a good anime? Sort of? Maybe for sufficiently flexible definitions of good? Reactions to the series seem somewhat divided, and I've seen some unfavorable comparisons to Higurashi (which itself is a mixed bag as far as I'm concerned), but the underlying secrets are somewhat interesting and I've been enjoying the series so far.

Ushio
I find it odd Ushio's funeral was so soon after her death.

The increased importance of Hizuru within the story should offer better insights as the characters navigate the island's mysteries. Ideally, the series will also henceforth minimize the frequency of animeisms that it has occasionally been indulging in to its detriment. (Translation: It would be better if there were fewer scenes of Potato-kun faceplanting into Hizuru's cleavage or grilling Mio about her panties.)

Dated 26 April 2022: The lore in Shokei Shoujo no Virgin Road is actually interesting

Menou
WHAT MAKES THE GREEN GRASS GROW?

I don't have a huge appetite for lore, and often find it enervating (Fate/Grand Order, I'm looking in your direction), but the setting and backstory for Shokei Shoujo no Virgin Road (The Executioner and Her Way of Life) strikes the right balance of being both silly enough and sensible enough for me to appreciate. For example, I'm totally okay with the explanation as to why everyone in this isekai destination speaks modern Japanese.

Menou and Akari
This was a pretty transparent attempt to tee-up some make-up sex later.

I'm also enjoying the casual duplicity that surely taints probably every character's interaction with every other character, even their allies. I have seen some indications on the Twitter that there were some (presumably juvenile) viewers who took the first-episode betrayal rather poorly, but I'm willing to assume those reactions are in the minority, and only came to my attention at all because their outrage amused more seasoned anime fans. Besides, knowing even the bare minimum about the show from the synopsis or the PVs, or potentially even from the title should have provided sufficient notice that the first episode of the series might be somewhat misleading.

Momo
It helps that Momo has nice hair.

In any case, I'm enjoying basically every part of The Executioner and Her Way of Life even though I don't typically pursue anime that correspond with many of its more prominent themes. The light-novel bullshit is fine with me so far, and even the very anime antics of a Kuroko-esque turbo lesbian being used as gags aren't off-putting. Momo is sufficiently exasperated by various hassles frequently enough to round out her character, so I'm mildly pro-Momo at this point. She's quite a step down from the Spring 2022 anime season's other Momo, of course, but that's a really high bar, so don't view it as a strike against the Shokei Shoujo Momo, necessarily.

Dated 29 March 2022: Ranking of Kings disappointed me

Kage and Bojji
More of this would have been better.

I am going to caveat this by acknowledging first of all that Ousama Ranking (Ranking of Kings) was never actually capital-B Bad. However, I am hard pressed to identify another show with greater distance between how much I enjoyed it at the beginning and how disinterested I was by the end. I'm sort of appalled, to tell you the truth. Anime War Crime Tribunal provides a spoiler-heavy examination that covers basically every issue I had with the series, although I'm more negative about the problems overall.

Dorsche and Hiling
He's not going to be big enough for her.

I feel as if I must be overlooking shows that genuinely collapsed, but I suspect those examples that escape me at the moment likely showed less initial promise. Ousama Ranking, at a minimum, had a solid start (that admittedly started declining towards the end of its first cours). I did already mention that I was sick of all the fighting. Well, it went on like that during the second cours, but then the monkey's paw curled, the fighting stopped, and it got even worse. As I understand it, the source manga is still running, so maybe the story gets good again. The very end of the final anime episode did open the door for that possibility, but I'm in no hurry to revisit Ranking of Kings in any capacity for the time being.

Dated 15 March 2022: 86 Eighty Six ends its operational pause

Lena
Congratulations on not being dead.
P.S. Spoilers.

To tell you the truth, I sort of forgot 86 Eighty Six season 2 two had delayed its final 2 two episodes to March 2022 Two Thousand Twenty Two. I mean, things were sort of tense when we last saw our characters, but it totally could have just ended the season where it was. I would have accepted a cliffhanger-ish ending and an indefinite wait until the next cours, whenever that happens to be. I mean, I think it's reasonable to expect there will be another cours at some point. The anime seems pretty well-regarded, and I've warmed up to it as well, despite some initial misgivings.

Frederica and Shin
Congratulations on not being dead.
P.S. Spoilers.

86 is at its best when it's exploring how its characters relate to each other and to their shared experiences with war. These aspects of the series are much more compelling than how it depicts the war itself or the dynamics of the societies involved. This is not necessarily because I find many of those elements unrealistic, but rather more because I'm not invested in their outcomes. I'm not particularly invested in most of the characters either, but the series has devoted enough time to developing them that I can at least appreciate their emotional resonance.

Dated 5 October 2021: 86 Eighty Six season 2 two looks promising

Lena
That's still in regs, right?

I'm going to go ahead and say that 86 Eighty Six manages to avoid being bad by being good. There is certainly a "people die when they are killed" logic to this statement, but I guess what I really mean is the series continues to overachieve in comparison with my expectations for it. Much of this is pessimism on my part, because I've heard from the beginning that the source material is good. However, those sorts of claims aren't very reassuring since "good" light novels typically seem to only be good for sufficiently generous definitions of good.

Ernst
Ain't you Shinichi's dad from Detective Conan?

Fortunately, the execution in the case of 86 Eighty Six actually is good. There's basically always something in every episode that's done well enough to be noteworthy, and the story is also sound. The various twists remain unexpected (but are also not total ass pulls) and do keep the series interesting even though much of it sounds pretty cheesy if you're just describing it to someone. Notably, I was already spoiled about a resolution to the previous season's ending because I saw the cover to one of the later light novels, but even knowing that did not ruin the effect provided by the 1st First episode of the 2nd Second cours. I'm looking 4 forward 2 to watching more.

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.

Dated 27 July 2021: I dropped Aquatope before I learned how to pronounce it

Fuuka
It's hard work, but at least you get to smell like fish all the time now.

I'm guessing Shiroi Suna no Aquatope (Aquatope of White Sand) is pronounced "aqua taupe," but I suppose it's possibly "aqua toe pay." In any case, the show is fine, and looks really nice, but I lost interest in it pretty much just as I did with Sakura Quest, another P.A. Works series about working girls (not those sorts of working girls, okay). Objectively, I guess there's nothing Aquatope really did wrong. (I guess it would have helped had I been invested in the childbirth sequence in some way.) It's just not really my sort of thing.

Shino
Shiho may or may not have kicked a giant mouse in the butt.

I admit I was more interested in Aquatope's nefarious internal idol politics (as I was with Wake Up, Girls!) than I was in failing-aquarium moé. Presumably, that aspect will re-appear at some point, since it's a two-cours series, but it's not enough to keep me watching it week-to-week, either. This does mean I'm currently down to five and two-thirds shows to watch this season. That's low enough that I watched all of last season's Odd Taxi in, like, 48 hours. It turns out it's really good. And it totally has nefarious internal idol politics. And how.

Dated 20 July 2021: Fruits Basket: The Final was the best Spring 2021 show

Tohru
This is how everyone sees Honda Tohru and yet people
still manage to be assholes to her.

It's sort of difficult to talk about Fruits Basket: The Final because it's a 13-episode conclusion in a 63-episode adaptation of a well-regarded 23-volume manga. It's also a do-over succeeding a 26-episode series from 20 years ago which was also really good even though the source material hadn't ended yet. So, there's a lot going on.

Kyo
Is cat.

I do wish I had paid closer attention when I started watching this iteration of Fruits Basket when it began in 2019. There are a lot of characters, and there is a lot of setup, and I'm certain I missed a lot of subtleties early on. I suppose that is an argument in favor of re-watching the series, even if it is 63 episodes long, but that isn't going to happen until I've finally gotten around to reading the source material. It's gonna be a while.

Tohru and Hana
This bedroom is fantastic.

Probably everyone who has heard about Fruits Basket also knows opinions about it are almost universally favorable. Likewise, anyone thinking about getting into the series probably knows at least as much as I did concerning what it's ostensibly "about" before I watched the first anime (the 2001 one with Hocchan). One thing that surprised me as I got deeper into the plot is how monstrous the zodiac aspects are regarded in-universe. They're not set up that way at the start of the series at all.

Yuki
Look, a rotary phone.

I don't really want to write about Fruits Basket, since it's basically one of those shows where you can just sort of say, "Look, everyone says it's good. It is good. Just watch it." I can also see how it might not be for everyone. You have to have to have an appetite for romance and a tolerance for assholes. So many assholes. Honda Tohru is, like, the nicest, sweetest, goodest girl in the entire world and she's constantly surrounded by bitches being bitches and assholes being assholes. Back the fuck away from Honda Tohru, people.

Machi
People are also assholes to Machi.

I guess viewers also have to be okay with "problematic" 'ships. I don't know if this heightened anxiety is an actual sign of the times, or if it's just localized sensitivity found on the Twitter. There are multiple age-gap pairings. There are people being mean to the people they love. Honda Tohru's mom dies. It's a whole thing. I guess the Fruits Basket 'ships are less "problematic" than the ones in Card Captor Sakura, but if these are the sorts of things that genuinely bother you, shoujo might not be for you.