Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

Dated 21 June 2022: Mahoutsukai Reimeiki is not as good as Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho

I would later watch Toji no Miko because of the character designer.

I guess I never wrote a proper blog entry for Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho (Grimoire of Zero) from the Spring 2017 anime season. It was all right. I liked Miss Not Shimakaze, and I was able to pad my list of anime about loving books. Consequently, when I learned this season's Mahoutsukai Reimeiki (The Dawn of the Witch) was a spin-off with sequel-type continuity, I figured it was worth giving a try.

Roux and Sable
She's standing on a chair because she's short.

Well, it's not great. I can't even blame it all on Potato-kun, even though the series made him as dull as possible. The show is just not very good, and I'm not interested in any of the characters—not even the returning ones who I liked in Grimoire of Zero. I'm already 10 episodes into it, so I'll still finish it out. Somehow, I'm still disappointed despite never having high hopes in the first place.

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

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.

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.

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.

Dated 11 September 2017: In re Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? light novels

SukaSuka Blu-rays and light novels
Spoilers all over these covers. Maybe.

I enjoyed the Shūmatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka? anime enough to import the first two (so far, anyway) Blu-ray discs and all five light novels. Fortuitously, a fan has translated all five of these books, leaving only the EX volumes and the SukaMoka sequels remaining. As you might expect, anime adaptations of light novels can benefit quite a bit in how they interpret the original works, presumably in ways not available to anime adaptations of manga. Anime adaptations of manga seem to be a bit more straightforward (often to their detriment), I assume out of deference to the mangaka or to avoid dealing with irate fans who won't accept an anime that changed something from the original manga.

But I digress.

SukaSuka Blu-ray volumes one and two
Surprising no one, the lead male character does not appear
on the cover of either of the first two Blu-ray sets.
(Not on the first four, for that matter.)

From a narrative standpoint, the SukaSuka anime generally follows the light novels, with really only minor tweaks to reinforce the anime's Chtholly-centric perspective. This is very much her story, so the anime omits some details about Willem and his backstory. Or rather, they're still present in the anime, but not explicitly addressed. It's reasonable for the viewer to draw different conclusions based on what the anime depicts, particularly when the clues provided in reference to parts explained in the light novel only appear briefly and without explanation. For example, Willem and Nephren are not necessarily falling to their deaths (absent outside intervention) in the opening one-minute prologue at the start of the first episode. These bits relate mostly to specifics provided in the light novels regarding the mechanics of "venenun" (alternatively, "venom") and origins of the Beasts and the Visitors. Components of these are in the anime, but remain somewhat vague in order to keep the attention on the core story it's telling. I.e., the romance.

SukaSuka Blu-ray volume two
At least there's a box.

These additional details in the light novels do help the reader understand the world better, but can go a bit too far at times. Most notably, there's a portion of the books that explicitly describes power levels from an objective standpoint. I find that contextualizing abilities in this video game sort of way detracts from the characters and is completely unnecessary in terms of helping the reader understand their relative strengths. Thankfully, this aspect does not pervade the entire series and is a relatively minor part of the narrative as a whole. On a more favorable note, details regarding the history of the world and the people involved do add to the story in positive ways. While there is no shortage of fantasy world stories, and no shortage of post-apocalyptic stories either, SukaSuka combines both. I rather enjoy the idea of a fantasy world which has gone through an apocalypse, leaving survivors weak and struggling for survival. In any case, it works a lot better here than having a "real" world go through an apocalyptic event, turning into a fantasy world.

SukaSuka Blu-ray volume two
And they come with books.

Anyone interested enough in the SukaSuka light novels to have reached this far probably already knows that the events of the 12-episode anime only run through the first three volumes. Naturally, this raises questions concerning the fates and futures of the characters after the anime. It's not really possible to discuss the fourth or fifth volumes of the light novels without including a lot of spoilers for the anime. At a minimum, the discussion would confirm or deny what may or may not occur towards the end of the anime or afterwards. I suppose I will at least say this to satisfy curious fans of the anime who still wish to avoid explicit spoilers: At least some of the chapters in the last two volumes are set during past events, so things you may have heard about certain characters are not necessarily as they seem. I've mentioned before that the anime itself is a little misleading in this way, as it presents things from the light novels outside of the same context, leading viewers to naturally draw conclusions which might not be entirely correct. (Or at least different from the source material, even if "correct" is arguably inapplicable in an adaptation.)

SukaSuka Blu-ray volume two
And there's an audio thingy.

With regard to the characters, the anime is very much Chtholly's show. Viewers of the anime should find it unsurprising I list her among the front-runners for 2017's Girl of the Year honors (or at least I would, if I still gave these awards). However, Nephren is the real star in the books. I already had a positive view of Ren from the anime, even if I mostly referred to her on the Twitter as "Mini-Kashima." The light novels expand her role in the story quite a bit by presenting a significant number of scenes from her perspective. The anime mostly tells its story from Chtholly's or Willem's points of view. This is appropriate, given the narrative the episodes are framing, but it does leave Nephren in a somewhat standard kuudere role, albeit one benefiting from a number of visual gags. Light novel Ren, though, is a real favorite, and a genuine reason to read the books if you're already inclined to like her. I do consider the anime and the light novels to be separate properties, and the anime ending is a Real Ending which does not need to incorporate parts of the books for reference or for validation. That is, any compulsion to read the books should come from an independent desire to enjoy them in their own right, and not out of any sort of preconceived notion that the anime needs more than what is actually there. Is there room in the anime for a sequel? I've not read SukaMoka (Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Mou Ichido dake, Aemasu ka?), the actual sequel, but presumably yes. In any case, SukaSuka volumes four and five themselves contain enough text to support another cours of anime—one I'd very much like to see.

Dated 10 July 2017: Alice to Zouroku is more frabjous than I expected

Sana and the March Hare
Fuck you, rabbit.

There are a lot of tonal shifts in Alice to Zouroku (Alice and Zouroku). The shifts themselves are not jarring. It's just that the show covers a lot more emotional ground than you might expect. There are people getting fucked up in fight scenes, but also scenes of a little girl joyously talking to the plants she's watering. There's also a dramatic arc which abruptly ends midway through the one-cours show. I don't know how closely the anime follows the manga, but I presume that must be at least partially responsible for the somewhat unconventional way everything plays out.

Zouroku and Sanae
You can tell Sanae is a responsible girl because she packed an umbrella.

Ordinarily, these sort of factors result in a disjointed show that's mostly a mess, but Alice to Zouroku is quite good the whole way though. I like that despite having superpowers, Sana is still very much a little kid with all the weaknesses and vulnerabilities that come along with that. It helps that Ohwada Hitomi does a fine job voicing her. I like the way Sana talks and the inflections she uses. I also like that the show is filled with interesting bits, such as its depiction of "Wonderland" and how various superpowers manifest. Naturally, I also like that there's a combat maid who shows up to bail people out from time to time, because of course there's a dependable combat maid. Ultimately, it's not so much that Alice to Zouroku is necessarily capital-G Good, although it is pretty good, but rather mostly that the show is really likeable. I think that's reason enough to give it a try.

Dated 3 July 2017: The WorldEnd of SukaSuka ~Air/My Purest Love for Leprechauns~

The happiest girl in the world.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? completed its 12-episodes admirably. There's basically no way to talk about it without going into spoilers, but I'll try to avoid major details beyond what's revealed in the first 60 seconds of the first episode. That prologue does test the theory that spoilers don't matter. Personally, I think spoilers absolutely do matter for comedies and punchlines, but I'm willing to entertain the notion they don't matter for drama. In the case of SukaSuka, having an understanding ahead of time about some major developments in the final episodes by having them revealed in the opening prologue did not detract from the show, and I have to admit the revelations likely improved the anime as a whole.

Willem and Ren
Well, keep your feet and knees together, but beyond that, you're on your own.

What then of the framework from which SukaSuka derives? The anime is an adaptation of a series of light novels, and a cursory glance reveals how many volumes there are, and where the anime did or did not leave off. Likewise, cover illustrations reveal who the lead characters are in the later volumes, and make it easy to deduce who might or might not be around anymore.

Lakhesh and Willem
Amazingly, all the shrimpy kids in this show were all right.

Moreover, many of the volumes have been translated into English. I skimmed through a few bits and am pleased to see the text is a lot more readable than what I'm used to seeing in fan-translated light novels (my experience admittedly may be years out of date at this point), and there are definitely aspects of the anime which took a few liberties during the adaptation. For example, there are at least two scenes in the final episode's epilogue which are deliberately misleading in the anime. The corresponding scenes occur in the original light novel, but the anime scenes omit or change the context.

Air power.

Now, is this good or bad? Should fans of the SukaSuka anime read the original light novels? I believe this is an open question, and while in most cases I will default in favor of the source material, my high degree of skepticism regarding light novels in general (even if they are well-regarded) calls this practice into question. Additionally, I think it is valid to regard the two properties separately, even if they do not necessarily contradict. That is, you don't have to appreciate one in order to like the other, although I can't rule out the possibility that I'm promoting this view here simply because the SukaSuka anime turned out so much better than I could have hoped. That said, I'll probably still read the light novels anyway.

Dated 26 June 2017: I think I would like Atom: The Beginning more if it did not start at the beginning

Well, it makes sense given that it's the sixth of the "A Ten" series.

I feel as if I should enjoy Atom: The Beginning more as a matter of general principle. After all, it has such highly influential and historically important roots that I feel compelled to watch it regardless of its merits. Never mind that I'm only passably familiar with the original content, and have basically watched or read none of it. It's a backwards approach to things, to be sure. Nevertheless, Atom: The Beginning is airing now (well, soon ending now at this point), and getting into the franchise out of order seems okay since it's a prequel.


Dated 12 June 2017: The End of Re:CREATORS ~Air/My Purest Love for Gunpuku~

What? You can't see it?

I'm calling it. Re:CREATORS will end (next season) with Potato-kun re-drawing and re-writing Altair as a wall-to-wall dere-dere moé-moé...kyun! schoolgirl whose MAD gets super popular on the NicoVideo. Still the best show this season, though. Even ahead of Little Witch Academia TV which is also really good. I should write about that before it ends.

Dated 5 June 2017: Re:CREATORS is my favorite show this season

Magikal girls have the strongest conviction.

I'm rather pleased Re:CREATORS will be two cours even though it means the pace is somewhat leisurely. Or, at least it seems that way because it happens to be the sort of show where the viewer constantly feels as if something could happen at any minute. "Gunpuku," who we now know is named Altair, seems content to let things unfold without haste, an attitude which gives greater impact to the violence of her actions when she suddenly snaps in response to an emotional trigger. It's a great scene, regardless of how you feel about the outcome, and where your personal loyalties lie.