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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.

Dated 26 December 2017: Infini-T Force: Local girl finds hero inside her

Emi
Emi has an epiphany.

Infini-T Force is my surprise of the season, not because it was necessarily better than I was expecting, but rather because it got me to understand the appeal of its related superhero series and sentai-type antics in general. I typically have a very low tolerance for nonsense which I characterize as shounen jive. In particular, characters described as having "a strong sense of justice" irritate the Bejesus out of me and I usually avoid any such shows if at all possible out of general principle.

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Dated 23 October 2017: I can't believe Best Girl is already dead (full-on Juuni Taisen spoilers)

Niwatori
Seriously, though, this is great hair.

I'm going to depart from my typical spoiler-free policy for this bit. Avert your eyes if you care about Juuni Taisen spoilers at all. Juuni Taisen (also Juni Taisen: Zodiac War) is an anime adaptation of a NisiOisiN light novel about 12 psychos (loosely based on the Chinese zodiac) killing each other in an urban ghost town. Their reasons for doing so aren't particularly important, as the main draw of the series simply happens to be the homicide carnival. After three episodes, I'm mostly unimpressed with the menagerie of murderers who mostly seem sort of uninteresting, even the ones intentionally designed to be weirdos. That is, except for Chicken, who is already dead now. This is some bullshit. P.S. Spoilers.

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Dated 16 October 2017: Two Car looks good, sounds good

Yuri and Megumi
They're late for school, but not toast-in-mouth late.

It's not as good as Bakuon!! or Aa! Megami-sama through two episodes, but Two Car is pretty all right as far as a motorcycle anime goes. Whereas Ah! My Goddess (at least the manga) excelled at promoting motorcycles as magnificent machines offering transcendental experiences under theoretically plausible, realistic (banal, even) situations, Two Car takes an approach somewhat closer to Bakuon!!'s. That is, it presents medium-wacky motorcycle hijinks in a world which does not exist, but really ought to. If you can accept that sensha-dō is a real girl's sport, then accepting the world of Two Car where high school girls dominate the sport of sidecar motorcycle racing should be a cinch.

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Dated 7 August 2017: There is a 50/50 chance you will like Kakegurui

Yumeko and Ryouta
Don't worry, Potato-kun doesn't fuck up this show.

If you're even passably familiar with gambling-type anime and manga, then you already know the genre leans heavily on absurd premises and tension-filled high-stakes outcomes that frequently turn against expectations due to sudden twists or deft maneuvers by characters trying to outwit or intimidate their opponents. As such, the success or failure of any given title often lies very much on its execution. Based on what I've seen of the anime and read of its manga, the execution in Kakegurui (Compulsive Gambler) is top-notch.

Dimension W and Kakegurui
The Kakegurui manga was also previously released digitally.

Specifically, the art style lends itself well to garish deformations of its otherwise superlovely character designs, contrasting starkly with the calmer scenes and Yumeko's penchant to adopt a Fruits Basket Face almost by default. Notably, Hayami Saori is wonderful as Yumeko, and a major plus for the anime which would otherwise be a clear runner-up to the manga. It's close, anyway, and I might still give the manga the edge. Bear in mind, I'm basically spoiled on the anime by reading part of the manga, so it's not clear to me whether I'd actually like the manga better otherwise. In either case, both are enjoyable, and the anime does not suffer from any meaningful faults. I suppose the color palette is bit darker and heavily red in the anime compared to the impression which the black & white manga conveyed to me, but it works. Incidentally, the manga volumes are A5-sized, so notably bigger than typical Yen Press offerings.

Dated 22 May 2017: Only one character remains on the Saekano balance beam

Megumi
The face of a Best Girl trapped in a harem comedy with a loathsome protagonist.

Despite some very questionable components, I liked the first season of Saekano a decent amount. Unfortunately, its Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata♭ sequel (How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend Flat) isn't working for me. All of the problems I have with the show were present during the first season, but either the execution was better or I was simply more willing to accept its shortcomings, something I acknowledged when I blogged about it. Ultimately, it's Potato-kun being a shitbag and the show's proselytization of the Otaku Virtues that kill my enthusiasm for Saekano Flat. These are the sort of bits that can sort of work from a meta perspective when lightly used, but the heavier a show relies on these tropes, the less meta it feels and the more bona fide it becomes. And then you just end up with regular ol' tsundere bullshit and a harem comedy gravity well which pulls inversely proportional to its hold on reality.

Utaha
I bet those boxes are empty.

What I'm left with is loathing for Potato-kun and open disdain for every other character on the show with the sole exception of Megumi, who has rocketed so far ahead in the show's Best Girl standings that she can almost assuredly boat race the rest of the competition from here on out. And this is nearly entirely a consequence of her (thus far, through six episodes and one pool-romp prologue) refusal to go along with Tomoya's high-intensity idiocy. That said, I'm still not quite as hostile to the show as these couple of paragraphs might suggest, so it's not as if I intend to drop it. I'm just disappointed Saekano Flat keeps tumbling into avoidable pitfalls. The show is unworthy of its animation and its Misaki Kurehito superlovely character designs. I guess it does deserve the glare of displeased long-hair Megumi, though.

Dated 30 December 2016: Shiho Standings 2016

Top-Tier Shiho

Iwasaki Shiho
Wake Up, Girls! I-1 Club Shiho.

Great Shiho

Kitazawa Shiho
The iDOLM@STER: Million Live! Shiho.

Good Shiho

Shiho Huit
My-Otome Shiho.

Bad Shiho

Shiho Munakata
My-HiME Shiho.

Know your Shihoes. The life you save could be your own!