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Dated 29 April 2019: Kono Oto Tomare! Sounds of Life is the best show of the Spring 2019 anime season

Hozuki
I can appreciate a girl who looks down on people.

Somewhat surprisingly, I am enjoying Kono Oto Tomare! Sounds of Life the most out of the shows I'm watching this season. Although my initial impressions were positive, I was still somewhat dubious until Hozuki's appearance in the second episode sealed the deal for me. I suppose if you wanted to distill her appeal down to standard anime cliches, you could chalk it up to the power of gap moé or tsundere conventions, but I do appreciate that she's the only member of this koto club who can play the instrument worth a damn. I'm also glad that her putative love interest in the show appears to be the angry delinquent kid and not Potato-kun.

Chika
Yaoi hand.

It also helps that the conflicts between Angry Delinquent and Potato-kun in the first episode feel more like something out of a shoujo manga than a shounen one. (The source material is described as shounen and runs in Jump SQ.) There were some borderline scenes in the first episode that involved clichés I hate, though. Notably, the anime convention where the first person at the scene of a crime is seen by the second person at the scene and immediately assumed to be the perpetrator. (See, for example, Boku dake ga Inai Machi (ERASED).) However, the way this plays out in Kono Oto Tomare! is at least related to preconceptions people have about others and not just the the dumb cliché in its raw form. Luckily, my own preconceptions for Kono Oto Tomare! itself did not bear out and I'll get to watch Hozuki shred for two cours.

Dated 14 January 2019: There are two Girls with Planes shows in the Winter 2019 anime season

Gripen and Kei
No, this is not a Meet Cute.

Technically, I guess there's only one show about girls with planes: Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (The Magnificent KOTOBUKI), since Girly Air Force seems to be about girls who are planes. Both shows have only one episode out so far, but Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai seems to be far and away the better show. For one thing, the planes in Girly Air Force are strictly 3DCG sentient artificial intelligence jobbies based on contemporary jet fighters. For other, Potato-kun is in Girly Air Force. He's not too bad, actually, but the cranky Chinese girl he's partnered with is going to get annoying if she doesn't get any actual character development. Probably the real weakness of the show will be the so-called "Xi" menace which is responsible for war in China and all the refugees from the mainland fleeing to Japan. Bogus opponents hurt Strike Witches and Sky Girls and will probably hurt Girly Air Force for all the same reasons.

Kirie
The googles do nothing.

Thankfully, enemy aircraft in Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai appear to have human pilots (although none were clearly shown in the first episode). At a minimum, they certainly have more personality than the Xi or the Neuroi or WORMs, even if it's only revealed in little displays such as the dipped wings at the conclusion of an air battle. Kotobuki also benefits from direction by Mizushima Tsutomu who looks ready to combine ideas from his work on GIRLS und PANZER and The Third Girls Aerial Squad of Shirobako fame. Curiously, the female characters are all 3DCG (but look good for basically the same reason 3DCG characters worked in Bubuki Buranki, as opposed to Ajin). I don't know how realistic the air battles are in Kotobuki, but they look and sound great, and the anime goes out of its way to show details of the controls. Overall, the dogfighting depicted with The Magnificient KOTOBUKI's propeller-driven planes is much more compelling than the super high-G BFM (read: bullshit fighter maneuvers) demonstrated by the AI jets of Girly Air Force.

Zero
He probably also has a video about the Hayabusa.

Incidentally, if you're interested in the practical elements of World War II fighter aircraft and the associated engineering aspects that influence performance and combat effectiveness, "Greg's Airplanes and Automobiles" on the YouTube is fascinating.

Dated 10 December 2018: I guess I'm going to be watching GeGeGe no Kitarou indefinitely now

Kitarou and Medama Oyaji
Neither of these two have binocular vision.

I saw an announcement about the next GeGeGe no Kitarou ED planned for January. I guess this means the show will be continuing through at least the Winter 2019 anime season, giving it a yearlong run. More, if it continues after that uninterrupted. I'm mostly content to continue watching it as long as there are new episodes. It's been a reliably good family show through the 35 episodes I've seen, and I can appreciate it for its decades-spanning impact.

NekoMusume and Agnès
Hey, she's wearing a different outfit.

For a show with so much history, it's unexpectedly eager to challenge certain subjects I'm not accustomed to encountering in anime. Notably, there was an episode concerning World War II that spoke directly to an apparent failure in the current education system to adequately cover Japan's roles in the war. Then there's the current major arc involving foreign yokai (some of whom were outright refugees) and the different receptions they face, from sympathy to outright hostility as both xenophobia as well as some understandably unwelcome foreign yokai behavior created flashpoints not unlike contemporary real-world events and concerns. Or perhaps it's because GeGeGe no Kitarou has so much history and is such an established part of the anime landscape that it has greater latitude to address these topics.

Dated 22 October 2018: This is a blog post about Seishun Buta Yarō wa Bunny Girl-senpai no Yume wo Minai with the #SeiButa and #青ブタ hashtags in the title

Mai
Man, what is it with anime girls and libraries?

I started watching Seishun Buta Yarō wa Bunny Girl-senpai no Yume wo Minai (The Young Pig-Rascal Isn't Dreaming of a Bunny Girl Upperclassman or Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai) because it had a bunny girl. True story. Also because its description sounded chuuni as fuck. It turns out it does have a bunny girl and it is, in fact, chuuni as fuck. There are also straightfaced explanations about Schrödinger's cat early on in the show, but I guess that's all right, since everyone heard about it for the first time in some venue or another. I suppose there's no harm in young viewers learning about it for the first time through this anime.

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Dated 9 July 2018: Girls with Guns ~The Merchandising~

There's this artist on the Twitter and the Pixiv who, over the span of several years, has published numerous illustrations of "Girls with Guns" doing fan-friendly type things. The artist does draw other things as well, including a fair amount of TYPE-MOON stuff, but the "Bionic Joshi Kosei" seems to be one of the more successful original characters in FP Works' ARMS NOTE portfolio. So much so that there's already a Figma of the character, and now pre-orders are available for a 1/7th scale figurine scheduled for release later in October 2018.

Bionic Joshi Kosei
Nice shoes.

The Bionic JK figurine is listing for ¥17,900 (something like $170), which seems sort of incredible to me, but possibly (probably) I'm just completely out of touch when it comes to how much these sort of things cost in general. In any case, I'm all in favor of supporting artists who promote their original works, particularly when they're delivering GAME-BREAKING HOME RUNS, so I encourage all y'all to get in on this if girls with guns and collecting anime figures both intersect with your particular interests. It's only $170. What else were you gonna do with that money anyway?

Dated 2 July 2018: Continuing shows and sequels of Summer 2018

Emiru and RUR-9500
The matching guitars are actually magic beam rifles. This is not a joke.
P.S. Spoilers.

Seven or eight of the shows I plan to watch during the Summer 2018 anime season are shows continuing from Spring 2018 or sequels. Specifically, Overlord III, One Room 2, and Cinderella Girls Gekijou 3rd Season are sequels, and the shows continuing from last season are Detective Conan, GeGeGe no Kitarou, Major 2nd, Hugtto! Precure, and possibly Piano no Mori.

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Dated 28 May 2018: GeGeGe no Kitarou is surprisingly informative

Neko Musume, Nezumi Otoko, and Kitarou
Well, she's not THAT tall. There are just a lot of short characters.

I don't know very much about yokai or Japanese fairy tales in general. In fact, probably most of what I know comes from that one episode of Azumanga Daioh. Oh, and I guess I've gleaned enough from other anime over the years to become racist toward kappas. Good job, School Rumble. In comes GeGeGe no Kitarou, a family show about yokai. Because it's heavily aimed at children, it also provides a lot of background and explanations about the various monsters of the week and their traditional lore. Hence, I get to learn along with the young audiences about yokai and how they might fit in the modern world.

Mana and Neko Musume
Also, she's wearing heels.

As far as the anime's other merits go, it's reasonably well done and I enjoy Sawashiro Miyuki as Kitarou. It's a good enough show that I'm still interested week-to-week, but I can't claim I'm at all in the target audience demographic. I do have to admit that I only started watching because of all the attention GeGeGe no Kitarou received before the season started due to the radical changes it made to one of the supporting character's designs. Originally known as Hakaba Kitarou, the franchise began in the '60s as a manga series and has appeared on television every decade since. The character design for Neko Musume has evolved each time around. However, her appearance in the 2018 iteration is entirely unrecognizable compared to her original form. It's a good hook, and I'm okay with shows making these types of changes from time to time, even if it means making a shrimpy character really tall and giving her legs that go up to her neck.

Dated 13 March 2018: Toji no Miko is okay

Hiyori and Kanami
Toji no Miko official art.

I probably would not still be watching Toji no Miko (Katana Maidens) were it not for the character designer. (Shizuma Yoshinori was also the character designer for Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho and a bunch of Kantai Collection ships.) Even then, I like the official promotional art more than how the designs actually translate into anime. I'm also not too enamored with the anime itself. I appreciate that it's going to be two cours, since I do rather miss when longer shows were more common. Admittedly, the longer length does seem to dampen the pacing a bit. I can see this turning some viewers off, but I'm okay with it, even though I would have also enjoyed a high-tension sword-girl-fugitives on the run story.

Kaoru, Kanami, Hiyori, and Nene
There is a lot going on in this shot.

While Toji no Miko is neither bad nor good, it does have good bits in it. I like the physics-defying inverted vertical scabbards that the characters use for their swords. I doubt contraptions so top-heavy could ever be practical in the real world, but they totally work for anime because they keep the characters from banging their swords into things whenever they move around, and they allow the personalized designs to appear in nearly every shot. It's a clever way of including a bit of flair to the characters' designs without relying exclusively on the usual hairbands and giant ribbons. Other good things include Kawasumi Ayako in the cast (the Ayako Doctrine remains in effect), and there a number of mildly amusing gags, such as the shrimpy girl's stupidly ginormous sword and the rich girl's ability to Deus ex machina solutions to complex problems. Toji no Miko is by no means a must-see anime, but it embraces its animeness earnestly enough to keep me watching week after week, and I expect to continue watching it next season as well.