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Dated 26 December 2023: The End of Otona Pretty Cure ~Air/My Purest Heart for Cure Wrecking Machine~

Cure Dream and Bunbee
Believe it, Bunbee.

Should Kibou no Chikara ~Otona Precure '23~ (Power of Hope ~Precure Full Bloom~) be examined through the lens used for every other iteration in the Pretty Cure franchise, or should it be viewed (and judged) by standards applied to shows intended for adults? The expectations and allowances adopted can either magnify or diminish both the flaws (3DCG monsters, I'm looking in your direction) and the attributes of the series. I won't attempt to comprehensively address them all, but I bring this up now to acknowledge I'll be leaving some things unsaid. My attitude towards Otona Pretty Cure is generally positive, but you might catch a few laments if you follow me on the 𝕏 née Twitter.

Mai and Saki
I'm shocked Saki ended up being the one with the best hair.

It still feels miraculous that Otona Precure exists at all. I also sort of got the sense that the production team shared this sentiment. Specifically, it seemed like I was watching a show being made by people who thought they only had one shot at this. That's not an unreasonable position to take. First Pretty Cure itself surely wasn't expected to launch a franchise that has run 20 years and counting. Maybe there will be more Otona Precure someday (the ending certainly leaves the possibility open), but it wouldn't be safe to assume there will be. Consequently, I got the impression there was pressure to cram as much as they could into the 12 episodes they had. (Yes, I'm aware there's some sort of Mahou Tsukai Precure! 2 thing planned, but I'm not expecting it to overlap with this.) Incidentally, there are spoilers the rest of the way out, so avert your eyes if you ain't watched this yet.

Michiru and Kaoru
I wonder if all their paperwork is forged. I think they're technically illegal aliens.

Anyway, what I'm getting at is Otona Pretty Cure jammed a lot of stuff in here. Notably, Michiru and Kaoru finally got some recognition. As someone who has been constantly complaining about their omissions from team-up events and retrospectives, it was fantastic to see them return. Still, I'm on the fence about they way they were presented. Namely, I think they should still have at least some of the power they had in Splash Star. We did see them fly in the final episode, right? Possibly, they do have their powers, but chose to sit things out for the same reason Bunbee (who apparently does still have his powers) kept his head down and fled when pressed. But, yeah, this was a missed opportunity to officially confer upon them the Cure Bright and Cure Windy designations that they've long deserved.

Dream, Black, Rouge, White, Aqua, Mint, and Lemonade
The opportunity to bring back the original battle costumes was right there!

So, no, Cure Bright and Cure Windy did not appear in any form, but Cure Black, Cure White, and Shiny Luminous all did. This was hidden from the promotional materials and made their appearance a bit of a surprise, but much less so considering it was telegraphed the instant Honoka's grandmother appeared in Otona Precure. As glad as I was to see them again, I would have preferred keeping them out of this season entirely, instead focusing on them in a future installment. Admittedly, that's difficult to do when there's no guarantee there will ever be any more later.

Bloom and Egret
These two are so good.

I feel the need to point out the Max Heart and Splash Star teams were originally unable to unilaterally transform. They needed to be with their partners and their fairy counterparts. This would have been another reason to withhold first-generation Pretty Cure from Power of Hope ~Precure Full Bloom~. I would also have been okay with this limitation preventing Cure Bloom and Cure Egret from participating in the battles. Don't get me wrong, I love that Splash Star was included in this project, but Saki and Mai meant more to me than Bloom and Egret here. I think they could have still meaningfully contributed as regular adults who couldn't transform into Pretty Cure again, in contrast to the Yes! Cures who could.

Yuuko and Kenta
I wasn't expecting these two to be in the series at all.

Ultimately, the caveat expressed at the very start of Otona Precure (that there are many different possible futures, arguably making none of them capital-C Canon) ends up being the important factor. Maybe this is the possible future where Black, White, Luminous, Bloom, and Egret can all transform without their fairy mascot counterparts. Maybe this is the possible future where individual action can overcome industrialized irresponsibility. Maybe this is the possible future where the queen of Palmier Kingdom still works a day job in Japan. Oh. I'm going to have to address this, aren't I?

Milk
Otona Pretty Cure 2: Civil War.

I've never been a fan of the Nozomi x Coco 'ship, although I have to assume it's reasonably popular among the sort of audiences for whom Yes! Pretty Cure 5 was originally intended. In case you somehow still don't know, Coco is an adult who (we now learn) fell for Nozomi when he lured her into an alley met her by chance when she was 13. He was also her middle school teacher. Oh, and his human form is the alter ego of his real form, a ridiculous fairy mascot who is lucky to have Nuts by his side to make him look competent in comparison. And, yeah, he's the (a?) monarch of Palmier Kingdom, a country populated entirely by ridiculous fairy mascots doomed to fight an unavoidable water-rights war with the neighboring Donuts Kingdom. I expect losing this war will trigger the coup Milk has planned.

Nozomi and Coco
Was Coco in his fairy mascot form during the ceremony?
Did he include his verbal tic when reciting his vows?

ANYWAY, back in 2008, Coco and Nozomi (Cure Dream, technically) shared the first (and only?) on-screen kiss of the Pretty Cure franchise. Although Otona Precure did not feel beholden to pairing up Saki with Mai's brother, or Komachi with Nuts (Natts, whatever), or Urara with Syrup, it did not pass up the chance to goose the Nozomi x Coco 'shippers. So, now they're married (which really raises a lot of questions if you think about it even a little bit, but I recommend not dwelling on it at all), which explains why Coco was sort of hanging out for the second half of the show doing fuck all. He didn't need to be there, but I guess he did if he and Nozomi were going to get married. That didn't really need to happen during this season either, but I guess it did if "this season," is going to be "the only season," and there's no guarantee it's not. Maybe someday we'll get some more. Each tomorrow is but another possible future.

Dated 18 July 2023: In re Marriage of Mercury

Suletta
Maybe tomatoes count as a Miorine surrogate.

Continuing from my previous post about Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo Season 2 (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury Season 2), I'm gonna go ahead and voice my primary beef with the way the show depicted Suletta's & Miorine's relationship. The short version is the series simply did not have enough episodes to adequately develop it. Or rather, it did, but it would have had to do so at the expense of something else. I suspect this is true of most of the areas that lacked sufficient elaboration for many viewers. (For example, anyone clamoring for more details about Miorine's mother, or about what tomatoes had to do with her Quiet Zero plans.)

Miorine
It's an act, but can you imagine Suletta doing something like this?

With regard to Suletta and Miorine specifically, nearly all of the slow, getting-closer parts that 'shippers might want occur almost entirely off-screen. Instead, we're treated to multiple instances of Miorine being distant, or cold, or outright cruel, and subsequent cathartic moments when she's realized she has fucked up and makes herself vulnerable to Suletta. All the less flashy (but still critical) incremental bond building occurs during time skips. It relies on the viewer to already be on board with the pairing, and willing to fill in the gaps with "head canon." Actually, not all of it was off-screen. A lot of it occurred during anachronistic dates across contemporary Japan shared on the Twitter.

Suletta
I guess this counts as a date.

I don't intend to belabor the point about these short vignettes that the @G_Witch_M account posted between cours, but I am serious about how these Suletta and Miorine Japan-tour snapshots are the clearest examples we have of the two actually going on dates or acting like a couple. This doesn't change the groundbreaking importance of their prime-time teenage lesbian marriage, but it is unfortunate that including regular romance material would have crowded out all the other Gundam-critical-type stuff that G Witch barely managed to include.

Dated 11 July 2023: There was more than one witch in Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury

Elnora
I heard you liked helmets.

Now that Kidou Senshi Gundam: Suisei no Majo Season 2 (Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury Season 2) has finished, I should probably capture my concluding thoughts on the series while they remain somewhat fresh. However, I get the feeling that would result in a long blog post, so maybe I ought to break things up into multiple entries despite the risk I might simply lose interest in writing more before completion. Anyway, the first post in this series (?) is about Elnora. If you've been following me on the Twitter, this should surprise you not at all.

Elnora and Dr. Cardo
Notably, I never stopped seeing Elnora as the girl she used to be.

Many viewers (if not most viewers) seemed to regard Prospera as the main villain of the series. This is not an incorrect perspective, but I think it's incomplete. I take the position that she is both an antagonist and a protagonist. This is not to say that I thought of her as the protagonist—that's clearly Suletta—but I do see her as a protagonist. (Fuck your deuteragonist and tritagonist nonsense. You're reading an anime blog, not a fan wiki.) That's not a controversial position for me to take, is it?

Elnora
Maybe she'll start calling you Mom without sounding sarcastic.

I'll need to put more thought into this, but my initial impulse is to suggest Elnora embraced the forgiveness aspect reflected in (or constrained by) The Tempest a lot more readily than I expected. Like, she had already forgiven Delling during the scene where she's fucking with Miorine's head to get her to aspire for the Benerit leadership role, right?

Elnora
I wonder how soon Elnora realized she was going to end up in this chair.

I also found Prospera's Quiet Zero plot to be a lot less sinister than what most people were assuming. (Never mind that I still have no idea what Notrette's original Quiet Zero plan—or Delling's intentions for the project, for that matter—were meant to be.) Now, I'm not part of the "Prospera Did Nothing Wrong" faction, but I do view her actions from a position that is decidedly more favorable to her than most seem willing to adopt. Let's just say I'm grading on a curve.

Dated 17 May 2022: Both Deaimon and SPY x FAMILY are about families

Nagomu and Itsuka
I can't tell if Itsuka is precocious or if Nagomu is just not very smart.

I get the feeling a lot of people on the Twitter avoided Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness because of overblown concerns the 10-year-old would grow up to marry the much older male lead. The manga is still ongoing, so I guess I can't rule out the possibility that this might happen, but I'm at least reasonably confident it hasn't happened (or else someone would have spoiled this by now). There are also other, much more likely love interests, namely Kanoko, Nagomu's girlfriend from the start of the series when he was still living in the city. Anyway, I'm going to go ahead and claim straight out that this is a dumb thing to worry about and people should just watch the show.

Mitsuru and Nagomu
I'm not expecting him to fuck the high school girl either, okay.

Because, as it turns out, Deaimon is just sort of nice and well done all around. Through six episodes, it happens to be my highest-rated series of the Spring 2022 anime season (if you put any stock in my animetrics chart) despite not doing anything groundbreaking. Every episode has been consistently good, though, and I appreciate the yet-unresolved absurdity involving the girlfriend from the city. I'm more invested in that looming confrontation than the inevitable one involving poor Itsuka's shitty father. That's probably not the way I'm supposed to regard the main plot, but it is how it is.

Yor, Anya, and Loid
That's a nice floor.

As with Deaimon, SPY x FAMILY has also got that found-family thing going on, but y'all probably already know this because the series and the manga it's adapted from are both popular. Basically, if you're not watching SPY x FAMILY already, you probably should be. I won't claim it's an exceptional anime, but it does do all the things you'd want it to do, and it does them really well. I've read enough of the manga to feel confident both of the planned split cours of the anime will remain entertaining, even though I'm not looking forward to Yor's brother showing up.

Dated 4 January 2022: Sorairo Utility needs a longer course

Minami
This is product placement, isn't it?

Sorairo Utility (Sky Blue Utility) is only a single 15-minute OVA? That's it? You're kidding me! Well, that leaves me with one less show than I was expecting to follow during the Winter 2022 anime season. That's unfortunate, because it was nicely done. There is no shortage of shows about girls who obsess over a particular hobby, but this felt much more natural and realistic than the typical fare.

Ayaka, Minami, and Haruka
It happens.

I learned of Sorairo Utility from one of the hundreds of artists I sort of follow on the Twitter. Specifically, the director, Saitou Kengo occasionally mused about wanting to make a girls-playing-golf anime, and then suddenly it became a reality. I have no idea if there is ever going to be any more, but I'd certainly be in favor of it.

Reines and Waver
I did appreciate Reines sassing Waver.

Sort of unrelated aside from also coming out on 31 December 2021 is Lord El-Melloi II Sei no Jikenbo: Rail Zeppelin Grace Note - Tokubetsu-hen (Lord El-Melloi II's Case Files: Rail Zeppelin Grace note TV Anime's Special Edition), a short movie about magic shenanigans involving Waver's classmates from his pre-Fate/Zero days. I feel like I would have liked this more if I had a greater grasp on TYPE-MOON lore in general, but possibly not understanding is the normal and expected state.

Dated 7 December 2021: Neither Getsuyoubi no Tawawa 2 nor Ganbare Douki-chan need a blog entry, but they're getting one anyway

Maegami-chan
I know it's her (other) gimmick, but these are some fucked-up bangs.

Getsuyōbi no Tawawa 2 (Tawawa on Monday 2) is a follow-up to an Autumn 2016 adaption of Himura Kiseki's weekly illustrations that publish on the Twitter every Monday. There's continuity and regular characters whose lives intersect with otherwise unrelated story arcs. But really it's just an exercise in randy situation comedies involving enormous breasts. The anime episodes are short and faithfully follow the various stories, but it still looks weird to me without the blue-ink monochrome of the source material.

Douki-chan
Never gonna happen.

Ganbare Dōki-chan (You Can Do It Dōki-chan) is another anime short and was paired with the Tawawa sequel for its debut because the Douki-chan artist and the Getsuyōbi no Tawawa artist collaborate on occasion. Unlike the Tawawa illustrations, Douki-chan follows a single story arc. Its titular heroine is a lovesick office lady who lacks the confidence to express her feelings to the co-worker she admires. Complicating the effort are myriad assertive rivals who always seem to appear at inopportune moments. Both Getsuyōbi no Tawawa 2 and Ganbare Dōki-chan have already concluded their 12-episode runs because they started toward the end of the Summer 2021 anime season. As anime adaptations go, they were all right, but it's good their episodes were short. I don't think either would have worked with full-length episodes.

Dated 20 July 2021: Fruits Basket: The Final was the best Spring 2021 show

Tohru
This is how everyone sees Honda Tohru and yet people
still manage to be assholes to her.

It's sort of difficult to talk about Fruits Basket: The Final because it's a 13-episode conclusion in a 63-episode adaptation of a well-regarded 23-volume manga. It's also a do-over succeeding a 26-episode series from 20 years ago which was also really good even though the source material hadn't ended yet. So, there's a lot going on.

Kyo
Is cat.

I do wish I had paid closer attention when I started watching this iteration of Fruits Basket when it began in 2019. There are a lot of characters, and there is a lot of setup, and I'm certain I missed a lot of subtleties early on. I suppose that is an argument in favor of re-watching the series, even if it is 63 episodes long, but that isn't going to happen until I've finally gotten around to reading the source material. It's gonna be a while.

Tohru and Hana
This bedroom is fantastic.

Probably everyone who has heard about Fruits Basket also knows opinions about it are almost universally favorable. Likewise, anyone thinking about getting into the series probably knows at least as much as I did concerning what it's ostensibly "about" before I watched the first anime (the 2001 one with Hocchan). One thing that surprised me as I got deeper into the plot is how monstrous the zodiac aspects are regarded in-universe. They're not set up that way at the start of the series at all.

Yuki
Look, a rotary phone.

I don't really want to write about Fruits Basket, since it's basically one of those shows where you can just sort of say, "Look, everyone says it's good. It is good. Just watch it." I can also see how it might not be for everyone. You have to have to have an appetite for romance and a tolerance for assholes. So many assholes. Honda Tohru is, like, the nicest, sweetest, goodest girl in the entire world and she's constantly surrounded by bitches being bitches and assholes being assholes. Back the fuck away from Honda Tohru, people.

Machi
People are also assholes to Machi.

I guess viewers also have to be okay with "problematic" 'ships. I don't know if this heightened anxiety is an actual sign of the times, or if it's just localized sensitivity found on the Twitter. There are multiple age-gap pairings. There are people being mean to the people they love. Honda Tohru's mom dies. It's a whole thing. I guess the Fruits Basket 'ships are less "problematic" than the ones in Card Captor Sakura, but if these are the sorts of things that genuinely bother you, shoujo might not be for you.

Dated 20 April 2021: Koikimo is better than Higehiro even though both are missing the same thing

Ichika and Ryo
Stalker distancing.

News that the Spring 2021 anime season would feature TWO shows about adult men paired with high school girls created ripples across the Twitter, but even this mild outrage waned after viewers discovered neither show was as torrid as anticipated. Descriptions of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui (It's Disgusting to Call This Love, A.K.A. Koikimo) in particular concentrated on elements that ranged from misleading (characterizing its male lead as "a womanizer") to outright untruthful (e.g., calling him "sex-crazed...with a wandering eye for women"). At the risk of stereotyping too much, I suspect more attention should have been paid to the fact that the Koikimo manga is described as josei (i.e., for adult women) instead of seinen (i.e., for adult men who miss fucking teenage girls).

Sayu and Yoshida
I was too bothered by Sayu's lack of luggage to make a Fate/stay night joke.

Curiously, Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou. (Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway) seemed to attract less pre-season attention than Koikimo, but perhaps its original novels and manga adaption were already known well enough to deflect unwarranted speculation that it was going to be a smutty romp. This, despite its synopsis outright stating that its characters meet when the titular teenage girl, Sayu, offers sex in exchange for a place to stay. Instead, Higehiro is about a man, Yoshida, who insists he is not attracted to the JK crashing at his place. The series begins with Yoshida being rejected by his long-term crush (his boss at work, no less) who claims she is already seeing someone. He is so devastated that he seemingly does not even notice she was CLEARLY LYING.

Gotou
Dude, you're staring.

Higehiro also draws attention to Yoshida's insistence that he is not a "nice guy" for letting Sayu live with him without strings attached (unlike everyone else she has stayed with during her previous six months as a runaway), but rather that the other men she has known are despicable people. Yoshida also repeatedly insists he is not attracted to Sayu because he only likes women with large breasts, but then the show promptly undercuts him by immediately alerting (and repeatedly reminding) the viewer that Sayu's boobs are also comfortably big.

Sayu
Higehiro even quantifies the comparison.

This is where I lose the ability to predict the path Higehiro will take. There is enough fan service and "male gaze" to the anime that we are obviously supposed to see Sayu as a legitimate love interest of Yoshida's, despite (or perhaps because of) his loud denials. But the show also retains the harem elements by keeping the CLEARLY LYING boss lady and deliberately slapdash co-worker near as potential romantic rivals. If I had to guess how this story ends, I would expect Yoshida's support to put Sayu on a path to success before re-uniting the two after a multi-year timeskip apart that has given Sayu time to become a self-sufficient adult with even bigger boobs than ever. Alternatively, we'll get a cop-out non-ending ending, potentially with all four of them living together for contrived reasons.

Ryo
You can tell he's sincere because of the sparkles.

While Higehiro is about a man who denies being attracted to the teenage girl living with him, Koikimo is about a man openly and aggressively wooing a high school girl 10 years his junior. At this point, I think it is necessary to acknowledge the tropes that govern this story's boundaries. Ryo and Ichika meet by chance and a suspension bridge moment sparks his sudden obsession with Ichika, who is coincidentally classmates with Ryo's kid sister, Rio. Fortunately for Ryo, his sister not only approves of his infatuation with her friend, but even volunteers as his wingman to provide opportunities for him to get closer with Ichika.

Ruri, Rio, Ichika, and Satsuki
Rio's anime bed is made of concrete.

Moreover, Ichika's own mother approves of Ryo's courtship, despite Ichika's clear displeasure. It is probably worth pointing out that Ryo has apparently never had to pursue a love interest before. He is not a pick-up artist chasing after fresh prey. Instead, girls and women have thrown themselves at him his entire life (Ichika's and Rio's classmates all unanimously agree Ryo is exceptionally handsome), so this is an entirely new experience for him.

Sayu and Yoshida
Dude, you're staring.

So what are Koikimo and Higehiro both missing? Lust. In the case of Koikimo, Ryo is clearly, genuinely smitten with Ichika, but he is arguably more drawn to her disinterest in him than he is to her physical appearance. Ichika is presented as being fairly unremarkable among her peers, and her own best friend describes her as "normal" (although at least one boy at her school has taken a liking to her). In the case of Higehiro, it takes three episodes of the show loudly signalling that Sayu is comely and sexually available before Yoshida finally admit he finds her attractive. However, his refusal to sleep with her is predicated on a critical, foundational cornerstone to the narrative's integrity, so I don't expect the story can too easily reverse this stance even if the audience comes to think he protests too much.

Ichika and Rio
She is upset because she is pleased.

After four episodes of Koi to Yobu ni wa Kimochi Warui and three episodes of Hige wo Soru. Soshite Joshikousei wo Hirou., I enjoy Koikimo more than Higehiro. Neither series is especially realistic (although I could believe Higehiro, despite the melodrama, were it not for the CLEARLY LYING Christmas-cake boss lady and the co-worker who deliberately fucks up her work for Yoshida's attention), but I find Koikimo more amusing. I can't rule out the possibility that I'm simply more enamored of Ichika's seemingly endless barrage of disgusted faces than I am with Sayu's "pretty big for a high school girl" bosom, though.