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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.

Dated 13 July 2021: The End of KoiKimo and HigeHiro ~Air/My Purest Love for JKs~

Ryo and Ichika
They're not flirting.

I started the Spring 2021 season with an entry covering both Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love or KoiKimo) and Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (I Shaved. Then I Brought a High School Girl Home. or HigeHiro), so I guess I should have a post wrapping them up as well. I found KoiKimo to be a better series, perhaps because of its straightforward story. It also helps that KoiKimo leaves Ichika in control of her fate. It is ultimately Ichika's decision whether her relationship with Ryo will advance or not.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

Sayu does not have this luxury in HigeHiro. Maybe it's disingenuous to claim HigeHiro is about Yoshida "looking for something attractive to save" (my apologies to Liz Phair), but replace Yoshida's name here with "the audience's surrogate," and maybe it's not far off the mark. KoiKimo and HigeHiro both ended up where I expected, but Sayu had much less say over the path she took to get there.

Ryo and Ichika
Making the end credits look more like the manga art was a nice touch.

In contrast, KoiKimo is an honest romance. There is no real mystery whether Ichika and Ryo will actually end up together or not, even though KoiKimo does introduce rival love interests for both leads. Moreover, the rivals are genuinely more sensible partners from every objective metric. However, the most obvioius impediment—the age gap between Ichika and Ryo—is never depicted as a meaningful obstacle. When it is finally viewed as a problem, its solution is entirely unsurprising.

Yoshida and Sayu
Platonic head pat.

The solutions to the challenges presented in HigeHiro are also fairly obvious, but the series insists on pantomiming a number of unconvincing feints. They're unconvincing because Sayu basically has no flaws, and Yoshida clearly feels something for her. He never has a reason to turn her away, and Sayu's rivals for Yoshida's attention are dubious love interests who quickly end up supporting Sayu anyway.

Sayu
Relax, Sayu. Wonder Eggs are only 500 yen each.

In fact, Sayu's true adversaries are her lack of self-worth, her family's disinterest in her welfare, and the story's insistence at making Yoshida obtuse. Yoshida's behavior is baffling in HigeHiro, and not just because he denies being attracted to the sexually available high school girl living with him. Yoshida's behavior is baffling because he's willing to accept immediately on faith that Sayu would be better off returning to her home, without ever examining even the slightest bit the reasons why she ran away in the first place. It seems irresponsible to not at least contemplate the myriad awful situations that potentially compel teenagers to leave home and offer sex to strangers just to survive.

Sayu
HigeHiro showed Sayu orgasming on screen.

Of course, the real reason Yoshida never asks is because the story can't let him or the audience know before the narrative is ready. It turns out the unpleasant situation Sayu fled wasn't that bad, but that's the case only because HigeHiro insists on rehabilitating its antagonists immedately after introducing them. This sort of cowardice is a significant weakness of HigeHiro, as it makes its conflicts fairly hollow. The challenges presented in KoiKimo are not intractable either, but at least they don't take on a fraudulent quality.

Ichika
Ichika grew accustomed Ryo's nightly calls without realizing it.

KoiKimo succeeded by being forthright about its romance and committing to it unapologetically. In contrast, HigeHiro (like Yoshida himself) spends basically the entire series maintaining an unconvincing veneer of plausible deniability over whether or not Sayu is an actual love interest. At the risk of attracting accusations of being in favor of age-inappropriate pairings, I'm going to suggest HigeHiro does this to its detriment.

Sayu and Yoshida
They had to put him in a chair watching her sleep
so people wouldn't insist they still fucked.

I suppose I can't speak for its source material, but the anime most certainly portrays Sayu as an eligible partner. Does HigeHiro provide Sayu with agency by having her test Yoshida's resolve each time she propositions him? Or does the series undermine Sayu's agency by presenting these moments solely so Yoshida can continue to rebuff her and showcase his unflagging integrity? I'm not answering this rhetorical, but I think we all know.

Dated 6 July 2021: I knew little about Wonder Egg Priority before I started watching, and might know even less now that it's over

Ai
Double-peace Ai, eh.

I went into Wonder Egg Priority essentially blind, as its promotional materials offered no meaningful details about the series. What I found was an extremely strong start with impressive visuals and an engaging story. Throughout most of the show's run, it maintained this high standard, despite evidence of frantic production difficulties that eventually forced an operational pause. This relief proved insufficient, and the series finale itself pushed to the right three months.

Rika
So, are you going to go back to being an idol?

I suppose it was naïve of me to presume the studio would dedicate this additional time to getting the Wonder Egg Priority ending just right. I can't verify the veracity of the claims I've read about what ultimately happened with the production effort, but what actually dropped frankly made me nostalgic for the Gainax endings of yore. No, I don't think we're going to get The End of Wonder Egg Priority a couple years later, and it's not as if episode 13 enlisted the assistance of paper dolls on sticks, but the final episode did not seem like it benefited from three months of refinement—certainly, the writing did not.

Dot
Why, though?

For one thing, there were reports the final episode of Wonder Egg Priority would be a one-hour special. It actually turned out to be about 45 minutes, fully half of which was a clip show recapping the previous 12 episodes. So I'm curious whether this resulted from misunderstandings and optimistic assumptions on the viewership's part, or if those reports would have been accurate were it not for impassable obstacles impeding the journey from desire to reality. (Most likely the latter, I think.)

Neiru
How are you feeling, Neiru? Good?

This is a long-winded way of saying the conclusion to Wonder Egg Priority made no sense. Absent a more compelling example, I think I'm going to end up adding it alongside The Rise of Skywalker and the Game of Thrones finale as the third leg of my tripod of endings so flawed that they manage to undermine everything good that came before. Curiously, though, I can't quite claim the final episode of Wonder Egg Priority itself is bad. It's not unsalvageable. It's largely its lack of resolution and its role in the narrative itself that are bad.

Koito and Sawaki
I want to say it was murder, but there were witnesses, albeit
ones all conveniently looking the wrong way. Unless....

I guess this means it's the creative decisions themselves that are bad—specifically, every effort to explain the mechanics driving the story. That is, everything involving recorded dreams, parallel worlds, robots, Acca, the one who is not Acca, Frill, or Frill's weirdo minions detract from everything else presented in Wonder Egg Priority previously. In fact, let us also add the support animals to this category, even if they do taste like chicken.

Momoe, Rika, Neiru, and Ai
Congratulations.

Despite all of this, I still regard Wonder Egg Priority as one of the best shows of the Winter 2021 anime season. I'm just at a loss as to how to characterize it for someone approaching it for the first time. I guess just watching half and walking away is an option. I suppose it depends on the inquisitive potential viewer's tolerance for unsatisfying endings. I'm certainly no stranger to them at this point, and I was never too fussed about so-called "Gainax endings" or "Gonzo endings" to begin with. I wonder if there is a place in the world for the capital-C, capital-W "CloverWorks ending" as well. I wonder egg if there is.

Dated 29 June 2021: I'd rather watch more Two Car than watch more Super Cub

Koguma, Shii, and Reiko
There was also a fair amount of anime tourism.

Super Cub is a great show. Or rather, Super Cub starts out as a great show, but is basically only all right towards the end of the anime. The reason for this is because Super Cub is at its best when it is about changing Koguma's life. Consequently, the best episodes are the ones where she learns more about the little motorcycle and discovers the new opportunities it provides her. However, the anime later settles into a more typical "girls really enjoy a specific thing" sort of show with various adventures. These episodes are still good, but don't convey quite the same sort of magic.

Shii, Reiko, and Koguma
Carcinisation.

This also means the later episodes of Super Cub invite comparisons with other girls-on-bikes anime, notably Bakuon!!, Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu, and Two Car. In that regard, Super Cub isn't quite as compelling. This is partly because it's not just a Honda commercial in this environment, but straight-up Honda propaganda. It's fine, but I don't find it as interesting. The bigger problem is I also don't think Shii (the third girl) is interesting. Reiko, at least, is a nutjob. I do love me some nutjobs.

Yuri and Megumi
Go fast or stay home.

I'm inclined to believe Super Cub would be better as a much shorter series or as a collection of OVAs. I don't know how much more source material remains, but I'm ambivalent about it now. I'd rather watch a second season of Two Car. Objectively, it's admittedly not a better show, but it does have girls bitching each other out when they're supposed to be relying on each other as a team, and I enjoyed its parade of high-speed caricatures more than I enjoyed Shii lying in a freezing river waiting to die. P.S. Spoilers.

Dated 18 May 2021: I get the feeling 86 Eighty Six is about interracial dating instead of war

Vladilena Lena, Handler One, Bloody Regina Milizé
Does this mean Lena has figured out she can use the PARA-RAID for phone sex?

After 6 six episodes of 86 Eighty Six, I think I can understand why readers enjoy the original light novels. I haven't been following the reactions to the anime closely, but I believe most impressions to it are favorable as well. The story has had enough interesting developments and twists that I expect most viewers who ventured past the first episode continue to enjoy it. If the anime gets more than one cours, I could see how an eventual romance between the two leads might make up the core of the story. Moreover, it would probably be better if that is that is the case, because 86 Eighty Six as a war story is somewhat shite.

Shinei Shin, Undertaker, Reaper Nouzen
This is Mikasa Ackerman's son, isn't it.

The anime is still revealing elements about the war in 86 Eighty Six, but I get the feeling we're all better off not thinking about it too much. Aircraft exist, but only so tourists can get shot down. Artillery exists, but only in the form of weenie short-ranged mortars. The apparent objectives for the battles shown so far are also sort of questionable. On the plus side, their spider-mechs are pretty fresh. I get that it's unfair to criticize 86 Eighty Six for these sorts of things when I'm totally okay with the SSSS.DYNAZENON fights, but it is possible to make unrealistic battles compelling (see The Price of Smiles, for example), and these just aren't.

Dated 27 April 2021: Super Cub hits like a truck

Koguma
Relax, kid. You're gonna be all right.

Super Cub is not an isekai (at least not yet), but it does feature an extremely low-key girl discovering a new world. Koguma lives a life of solitude and makes obvious efforts to avoid drawing attention to her young self. However, she does score a used Honda Super Cub for about a hundred bucks, and it starts to change her life. Thematically, there are similarities to the Ah! My Goddess arc where Skuld learns how to ride a bicycle. It's a liberating moment for both of them, when Skuld finally experiences the joy Belldandy already knows, and when Koguma discovers her old boundaries are gone.

Koguma
When you double-ride with anxiety, you never ride alone.

At the risk of spoiling both the first episode of Super Cub and The Wizard of Oz (1939), color similarly bursts onto the screen when Koguma departs her drab old world for her mysterious new future once she successfully kick-starts her Cub's engine for the first time. I wouldn't call the transition subtle, but I know not all viewers caught it during the moment. Through three episodes, Super Cub regularly uses these sort of visuals and audible cues to communicate Koguma's further discoveries. I don't know if the anime will continue to concentrate on this sort of internalized wonder, or if it will transition into a more conventional "girls who really enjoy a specific hobby" show, but I'm eager to go along for the ride—even if the conveyance in question has already killed thrice before.

Dated 6 April 2021: IDOLY PRIDE and SukaSuka both spoiled their anime endings during the opening minutes of their first episodes

Kotono
It's not easy being an idol.

IDOLY PRIDE turned out to be a much more satisfying anime than I was expecting. I already had some idea where the show was going, since it became increasingly clear what the first episode's prologue implied as the anime progressed. Nevertheless, it also still retained enough ambiguity to allow the show to develop dramatic tension as it approached its climax. Ultimately, this was still very much a story about Mana and Makino, and remembering this worked out well for the anime.

Mana
What is the sound of one ghost clapping?

However, there is more to IDOLY PRIDE than just the anime, and this is where my lack of familiarity with the franchise as a whole falters. Based on the release dates of the associated videos on the YouTube, IDOLY PRIDE has been in the works for over a year. Was it just delayed for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic, or was it originally planned as an extended mixed-media production? There are CDs to purchase, and a mobile game of some sort to play, but I don't know how critical the anime itself is to the whole.

Chtholly
Goodbye, Chtholly's last bit of blue hair.

I didn't really need to mention SukaSuka here, since it's not as if Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? and IDOLY PRIDE really have that much in common aside from dropping spoilers at the start of the first episode. The SukaSuka spoilers are much more overt, though, and consequently much more memorable. There is also a certain finality to the series, in that while there are still additional volumes to adapt, adding a sequel to SukaSuka would not necessarily be the same thing as "making more" SukaSuka. In the case of IDOLY PRIDE, there are certainly enough characters to provide new opportunities for expansion through sequels, but I'm hesitant to suggest there's any need at this stage.