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Dated 27 September 2022: Summertime Render turned out to be pretty good

Hizuru and Shinpei
He'll be fine.

I haven't seen much discussion of Summertime Render during its two-cours run. This is understandable due to, ah, let's just say, "a variety of reasons," but it is sort of a shame because it's one of the better anime I've watched during 2022 so far. It's not the best one, but it's at least in good company, even if I can't quite figure out whether it's supposed to be Summertime Render, Summer Time Render, Summertime Rendering, or Summer Time Rendering. What a mess.

Shinpei, Ushio, and Mio
Ushio spends much of the show only wearing a swimsuit, but she gets by.

I started watching it because I figured it was going to be an anime about a ghost girlfriend haunting Potato-kun. It turns out it's more about time loops and the challenges faced when confronted by an adversary who is also able to exploit time loops. The events and where they fit in the timeline start to get somewhat complex, and does require a fair amount of attention if the viewer hopes to keep track of who knows what at each particular point in time. Fortunately, the characters have ways of copying and transfering memories quickly, so the show doesn't get bogged down with constant exposition to bewildered accomplices.

Mio
I like Mio's SAKANA shirt.

There is still one episode left in the Summertime Render anime, and I have no idea whether this will be mostly an epilogue, or whether it's going to be a high-intensity scramble to wring out the best-possible outcome from one last opportunity. Hell, I haven't even ruled out the chance that it's going to conclude the series on a cliffhanger. This is a cliffhanger-heavy show in general, so it would be in keeping with the tone of many of the previous episodes. Expect some griping on my part if that happens, though. Still, the source manga has concluded, so things will probably be fine for the final episode. Probably. Maybe.

Dated 16 August 2022: The Netflix is letting Kakegurui Twin ride

Mary
I appreciate the Nii Manabu character designs.

I'm aware the Netflix is reportedly performing below expectations (or at least below its ambitions) financially. I don't have a solution in mind, but I have to believe its practice of dumping shows all at once to support its "binge" model is detrimental to the sort of word-of-mouth promotional impact that would be available by releasing episodes weekly. This isn't a lament unique to Kakegurui Futago (Kakegurui Twin) either. It applies to nearly all anime that ends up on the U.S. Netflix.

Midari
You can tell it's a prequel because Midari isn't missing an eye yet.

I enjoy the Kakegurui manga enough to buy it (although I'm behind on Kakegurui Twin), but not enough to binge-watch Kakegurui Futago on the Netflix. (Or maybe I enjoy it too much to binge-watch?) In any case, I wish the series would have gotten a regular seasonal release instead. As far as the show itself goes, it appears to be a truncated adaptation of the manga. It sort of has to be, since the anime is only six episodes long, and there are 12 volumes and counting of the manga. Frankly, that sounds like a lot for a spin-off prequel, but I guess it could always start covering the main manga's events in parallel from Mary's point of view, if it hasn't had to do so already. I said I was behind, okay?

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 16 February 2021: This is an IDOLY PRIDE spoiler, but I don't think it matters anymore

Mana
"I can see my house from here."

There are plenty of other shows I'm watching that I should probably write about instead, but y'all getting an IDOLY PRIDE update instead. Deal with it. Okay, so after six episodes, I don't know why there is a ghost. Mana gives Makino someone to talk to, but there's no reason why she needs to be dead. She could have just retired, or started her own production company instead, or any number of other options. Or she could still have died, but not returned as a ghost. So far, Mana returning as a ghost has had no meaningful impact on the story.

Mana and Makino
I wonder if Mana can change her outfit.

And we do have confirmation that she's an actual ghost (as opposed to a hallucination). One of the other idols can see her, although they haven't continued interacting after the episode with the initial revelation. If we're racking and stacking idols in the show, I do like Mana best, so I appreciate having her around, but I was sort of expecting her whole phantasmness to have a bigger role in shaping the IDOLY PRIDE lore. As far as I can tell, there aren't even any other ghosts in IDOLY PRIDE—former idols or otherwise.

Dated 26 January 2021: I could tell you about all the good anime I'm watching this season, or I could tell you about IDOLY PRIDE instead

Kotono
We can tell you're the kid sister because you look the same except for having darker hair.

Actually, wait, IDOLY PRIDE is pretty good too, or at least it is for sufficiently generous definitions of good. I started watching IDOLY PRIDE because it was described as an original anime and the PV made the show seem oddly sincere. Meaning, I was expecting a brand new entry into the idol wars to lean more on a gimmick of some sort. (See, for example, this season's Gekidol and its gimmick.) However, it looked as if IDOLY PRIDE would simply be a straightforward show about idols trying their best. [Spoilers: It is not.]

Kouhei and Mana
She is sort of distracting.

So yeah, there is a gimmick. (Spoilers from here on out.) One of the idols is a ghost. Well, not one of the idols in the troupe, but there is a ghost. Specifically, it's the older sister of the dour idol who has main-character hair. However, the only one who can see or hear her is her old manager (a former classmate from high school) who is now in charge of a lot of rookie idols. I'll need to go back and re-watch some scenes to be sure, but I suspect it's also entirely possible that there is no ghost and Manager Guy (Kouhei) is just cracking up. I mean, he does do that thing where he'll look in her direction and respond aloud to her while everyone else around him is deeply confused by his constant non sequiturs. I have to say that's probably a worrying trait to see in someone who is responsible for your career.

Kouhei and Mana
Mana doesn't cast reflections or shadows, but Kouhei appeared to feel her leaning on him.

Whether Mana actually is a ghost or just a constant hallucination that Kouhei can't shake, I'm enjoying the dynamic. I get the feeling a single-cours anime is not going to be long enough to get me invested in what the other idols have going on, but I am enjoying IDOLY PRIDE so far. In fact, I'm probably enjoying it somewhat disproportionately, since I'm not sure I can really characterize the show as being anything more than merely okay. Still, I'm eager to see where this is going, even though I suspect it would probably be better as a ghost-girlfriend romance than as an idol show about rookies doing their best.

Dated 5 January 2021: Kamisama ni Natta Hi is not a good anime

Hina and Youta
I had to include a picture of these two because they're the main characters.

Despite a promising first episode, Kamisama ni Natta Hi (The Day I Became a God) turned out to be fairly awful in a number of areas, and likely disappointed even fans of Key's usual shtick. Critically, I felt nothing when The Big Sad Thing inevitably happened. This despite reports Maeda Jun intended for it to be the saddest anime ever. Surprising no one, I'm sure, Hina suffers debilitating mental degradation just as Potato-kun comes to realize how important she has become to him. Unfortunately, the way he conveys his emotions and the actions he takes for pretty much the entire rest of the anime are aggravating to watch. It's sort of baffling, even if you're already expecting this to happen to some degree.

Kyouko
For real, though, Kyouko had excellent hair.

Ultimately, it's entirely unrewarding. I can see how at least in theory Kamisama ni Natta Hi looked like it could succeed when viewed as an outline or synopsis (you know, assuming you're okay with infantalizing love interests), but it certainly fell apart somewhere between the initial pitch and the screen. It's not all bad, though. I genuinely enjoyed the mostly standalone episode where Violet Evergarden and her father come to grips with Dead Mom Subplot. That basically had all the, uh, Key elements of Maeda Jun's bullshit done right. And I liked the Mahjong Calvinball episode which had the sort of high-energy wackiness I remember from the Angel Beats! fishing episode. The Day I Became a God did continue to have some nice gags throughout its run, although the first episode probably had the most successful jokes. I'm still willing to watch the next Key anime, but I get the feeling I'll enjoy it a lot more if its a sports comedy of some sort instead of another romance involving mentally impaired girls.

Dated 29 December 2020: The war on pants will go on a long as it has to

Yoshika and Shizuka
I don't dislike Miyafuji anymore, but these two still aren't exactly favorites.

It's been a while since I've watched the first two Strike Witches seasons, but I felt this third season seemed better overall than those previous installments. I also liked it better than the Brave Witches spinoff. Despite this, I'm still not at all prepared to call Strike Witches: Road to Berlin the best season yet even though it sort of has to be by definition. The problem is Road to Berlin still relied on the Neuroi as the primary advesary. This is an unavoidable component of the World Witches canon, but these alien invaders have never been compelling enemies. The witches need to fight somebody, but the battles still feel hollow and the stakes haven't grown as the war has progressed, despite a fair amount of dialogue trying to convince viewers that they have.

World Witches Take Off!
That sure is a lot of witches.

Thankfully, Strike Witches 3 at least avoided some of the even less convincing drama that dragged down parts of the first two seasons. Frankly, I rather enjoy the characters more when they're doing silly things in garrison such as in the Strike Witches: 501 Butai Hasshin Shimasu! (Strike Witches: 501st JOINT FIGHTER WING Take Off!) gag anime. This bodes well for next season's World Witches Hasshin Shimasu! (World Witches Take Off!) installment, although I think I would still prefer it use the standard superlovely character designs than the simpler comedy-friendly ones.

Dated 10 November 2020: Beware the man with one gun (this is actually about mechanical keyboards and, arguably, Sword Art Online)

WASD and Ducky TKL keyboards
The Asuna and Alice Synthesis Thirty color schemes are purely coincidental.

The implication behind the saying "beware the man with one gun" is that such a person is more likely to have a higher degree of expertise with it thanks to narrowly focused specialization. In contrast, someone who pursues variety also ends up diluting proficiency. I was reminded of this maxim by this recent sequence of posts on the Twitter wherein a relatively prolific blogger peers into the world of mechanical keyboard acquisition, with mixed results. I mention this because it often seems the acquisition of mechanical keyboards mostly leads to further acquisitions for acquisition's sake.

Asuna and Alice
I said it's a coincidence.

I do encourage the use of mechanical keyboards and believe they improve typing performance, but I concede the marginal benefits drop off quickly if one starts chasing perfection. Nevertheless, I'll admit I have "more than one gun," despite using an IBM Model M (specifically, a Part Number 1391401 built in 1991) as my primary keyboard for literally decades now. I also started exploring mechanical keyboard variations knowing I'll never find a keyboard I like nearly as much as a Model M, let alone one that provides any actual typing advantage, but somehow I've still acquired a probably unnecessary number of them. At least the switches and features in this collection are all different, so the pursuit is not entirely aesthetic. That's the next level which I can at least claim to have avoided.