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Dated 20 September 2022: I hope Lycoris Recoil and Engage Kiss can both stick their landings

Chisato and Takina
What are you thinking about?

You might see Lycoris Recoil and Engage Kiss compared every so often (and I guess that's what I'm doing now), but they don't share much in common. Well, I guess they both have Aniplex and A1-Pictures behind them, and both anime air on Saturdays, but the shows themselves aren't similar. Also, both are headed towards a big finish this weekend, although I can see how Lycoris Recoil might earn itself a sequel, depending on how things go.

Chisato
Look, there aren't even any bullet holes!

To be clear, Lycoris Recoil is a significantly better show than Engage Kiss. I like both, although for different reasons, but there's a good reason why fans of Lycoris Recoil are so enthused. It features a well-balanced mix of serious drama with genuine stakes, wacky high jinks, and significant amounts of entertaining (albeit unrealistic) gun play.

Sharon and Shuu
My opinions about SHARON HOLYGRAIL are wholly positive.

On the other hand, Engage Kiss has a combat nun sensibly named SHARON HOLYGRAIL who only takes off her habit's headpiece during sex. It also features a high school demon girl whose motivation for being so devoted to Potato-kun is somewhat unclear. She at least seems willing to accept she must have had a good reason. Maybe she found instructions scrawled on her hand telling her to be, and just assumed there was a good reason that she merely forgot.

Dated 23 August 2022: Isekai Ojisan is brilliant

Elf and Uncle
Oh my God. These two are so good.

It turns out Isekai Ojisan (Uncle from Another World) is a lot funnier than I would have expected of an isekai parody. Actually, I guess it's not really even necessarily a parody. It just happens to subvert expectations by tackling all the stereotypical tropes the wrong way. There have only been five episodes so far due to a Covid-related two-week delay after the fourth episode, but every installment has been solid.

Elf
I want to know how her armor does that.

I've only read a few chapters of the manga, but this anime adaptation is outstanding. In particular, Koyasu Takehito as the Sega-obsessed uncle and Haruka DeTomaso Pantera as the elf girl from the other world are perfect. The anime also has a somewhat crude appearance to it (as does the original manga) that fits well with the gags, and the comic timing is right on. Seeing as how there are eight volumes of the ongoing manga so far, I have to assume there's more to the series than just non-stop anecdotes of the uncle's isekai misadventures, but I'd honestly be okay with it either way.

Dated 12 July 2022: I'm too old to enjoy Engage Kiss, but I still do

Kisara
You can tell she's serious because she changed clothes.

I have to concede Engage Kiss is "bad" by the standards I'm probably supposed to apply when evaluating anime. It embodies a number of qualities I associate with juvenile shows that cater to teenage boys. For one thing, the protagonist is a schlub who starts the series with two women (well, one woman, and one high school girl who is actually a demon, so she's probably hundreds of years old, if conventions hold) who are interested in him romantically for no clear reason.

Kisara
It's like Fruits Basket Face, except less sane.

However, the first two episodes do embrace a refreshingly carefree approach to old tropes that's sort of nostalgic in this modern era dominated instead by newer (but no less inane) clichés, and governed by sensibilities that are limiting without necessarily making things better. It's in this environment that Engage Kiss manages to shine, with some surprisingly satisfying gags that work well because the setting and premise are both absurd.

Kisara
Durable dress.

It's the little things, like hiding Tupperware® under a dress, or perfecting just-in-time delivery without resorting to drones, or broke shitbags shamelessly bumming cigarettes that really sell me on this series. Or maybe I just like the idea of a yandere demon employee because I haven't actually watched very many shows featuring yandere characters, so the stereotype still feels fresh to me.

Kisara
She seems nice.

Whatever the reason is, and I admit I'm not trying very hard to justify my affection for this bad (it's only mildly bad, okay!) show, I am rather enjoying it so far. It manages to feel both familiar and new at the same time, and it doesn't drag. I can't promise it will turn out to be capital-G Good at any point, but I've watched a lot worse.

Dated 5 July 2022: Delicious Party♡Precure is only okay

Kokone, Yui, and Ran
Eat more carbs.

Through 17 episodes, Delicious Party♡Precure is fine, thanks to a well-understood formula that such a long-running franchise can reliable draw upon, but there's not much else going for it. It's starting to look like Delicious Party is going to end up closer to the HappinessCharge side of the scale than its predecessor, Tropical-Rouge! Precure, for example.

Amane and Rosemary
Take this job and shove it.

Still, 17 episodes isn't particularly far for a weekly series that runs all year, so perhaps the show will turn things around. There are a few aspects that reduce my optimism in this regard, though. Significantly, it turns out the adversary who eventually switches sides to become a Cure herself has been under some sort of mind control the whole time, so she never really did anything wrong. How they fucked this up, I have no idea.

Gentle
Gentle's outfit is so good.

Enemies becoming friends has been a Pretty Cure staple from the beginning. But the cliché continues to work because viewers still care about character growth and redemption arcs. Taking this agency out of Amane's actions reduces her motivation for joining the Cures to one mostly predicated on undeserved guilt. It's not her fault she was stealing recipes. She wasn't even any good at it!

Black Pepper and Cure Precious
I don't know if it's better or worse that Black Pepper's battle costume looks silly.

I'm also not a huge fan of the male characters in Delicious Party♡Precure. This is an area where the franchise has not excelled. I'm sure there are viewers who enjoy Rosemary and Takumi and find their contributions to be important and satisfying, but I sure don't. It's not uncommon for Pretty Cure to include prominent male protagonists in various guises, but nothing about these two make me think they are necessary or valuable so far.

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

Zero
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 3 May 2022: I'm watching two sports anime: Birdie Wing and Gunjou no Fanfare

Eve and Viper
Underground golf does not have to take place underground.

BIRDIE WING -Golf Girls' Story- has the misfortune of coming right on the heels of Sorairo Utility, giving it a sort of distasteful corporate flavor in comparison. I don't know if that's actually justified, but it sure is odd that we got two girls-playing-golf shows in back-to-back seasons after years of no golf anime at all. Still, Birdie Wing isn't nearly as wacky as it needs to be, although episode four was progress. It is set in Nafrece, so it potentially takes place in the same universe as Madlax (and Valkyrie Drive, of all things), but Eve hasn't started golfing in a white cocktail dress within the first four episodes.

Aki
Some of these dudes are dicks to each other, but they're also sort of tsundere.

Gunjou no Fanfare (Fanfare of Adolescence), on the other hand, is too wacky. Or at least its first episode was. It's toned it down since then. I'm mostly thinking of utterly implausible and entirely unnecessary contrivances such as a truck blowing over in the wind (?!) and the genki kid being a natural despite never having ridden a horse before. None of that was necessary. What is necessary is a substantial increase in screen time for the token girl. I was really hoping prior to the start of the series that the token girl was actually a secret girl who was busting through sexist horse-racing-school conventions, but that turned out to not be the case.

Aki, Hayato, Soujirou, Eri, Shun, Kouta, and Yuu
Eri's thighs don't touch.

Really, Gunjou no Fanfare is just about boys on horses doing boys-on-horses things. I suspect the show is meant to also sort of be fujoshi bait, but I don't exactly have my finger on the pulse of what that entails. That's a question for Ogiue Maniax. In terms of the anime themselves, both Birdie Wing and Fanfare of Adolescence are "fine," but I wouldn't characterize either as must-see shows of the Spring 2022 anime season by any stretch of the imagination.

Dated 9 November 2021: Taishou Otome Otogibanashi might actually be playing it straight

Yuzuki and Tamahiko
Kiss her, you idiot.

Taishō Otome Otogibanashi (Taishō Otome Fairy Tale) is about a Taishou-era 17-year-old rich kid who loses the use of his right arm in a car accident that also kills his mother. Subsequently, his hateful father banishes him out of sight to a house overlooking a small village. Oh, and the father buys the guy a tiny, freakishly cheerful, 14-year-old girl to be the dour boy's wife.

Yuzuki and Tamahiko
Those are some colorful straps.

I was expecting some plot twists leading to melodrama, or at least a revelation or two about why the girl is so pleasant all the time despite her predicament. Tamahiko, the boy, has a fairly negative outlook on the world, and the series balances this with Yuzuki's constant—and apparently earnest—cheerfulness. After five episodes, it's looking less and less like Yuzuki might be harboring some dark secret. Maybe this series really is what it appears to be.

Tamako and Tamahiko
Dude's 12-year-old sister turned out to be okay.

I will be disappointed if Yuzuki simply has no problems with being sold as a child bride to a complete stranger to help cover a family member's debt, and lacks any agency or complex character traits of her own. It's probably also worth pointing out some similarities to Ai Yori Aoshi also exist, at least on the surface level. Unfortunately, as flawed as Ai Yori Aoshi is, it still bests Taishou Otome Otogibanashi in terms of both drama and romance. Nevertheless, I plan to continue watching Taisho Otome Fairy Tale. The show itself is fine. I don't genuinely have any meaningful issues with it, even if it is seemingly offensive in principle.

Dated 12 October 2021: I am enjoying Tsuki to Laika to Nosferatu

Anya
Nice hat.

Cold War PseudoSoviets sending a vampire into space is an interesting enough premise that I would give Tsuki to Laika to Nosferatu (localized as either Moon, Laika, and the Bloodsucking Princess or Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut) a chance on general principle. Having Hayashibara Megumi voice the lead role seals it. (She's had plenty of lead roles, but this is much less common these days.) Giving it an OP by ALI PROJECT is also a bonus.

Irina and Lev
The tubes contain cosmonaut food. I wonder if there is also CMYK cosmonaut food.

I like that Tsuki to Laika to Nosferatu rejects most of the typical vampire lore. Irina is also not physically superior to the human candidates by some unreachable degree. She is better, since she can nearly keep up—despite an utter lack of any prior training—with the human candidate who had been working for some time toward becoming the first cosmonaut before becoming her trainer.

Anya, Irina, and Lev
Anya measured Irina's blood pressure, and she can bleed, so I guess she's not undead.

I originally assumed the NotSoviets wanted a vampire cosmonaut because of their inherent survivability or reduced need for life-support systems, but it turns out it has more to do with how vampires are regarded in that world as a sub-human race. Therefore, they are test subjects treated as expendable and useful to a nascent space program sort of the way dogs and monkeys are.

Irina and Anya
She's wearing the muzzle because of racism.

There are some light-novel elements in the series that hold it back to some degree (minor tsundere dishonesty, some jerkface assholes, stuff like that), but nothing that significantly detracts from my overall enjoyment of the show so far. I'm hoping we can avoid a vampires-are-people-too arc, but that's probably inevitable considering our vampire cosmonaut is a 43-kilogram girl who hides vulnerable emotions and not, y'know, Alucard from Hellsing.