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Dated 30 December 2014: Fate stay/night: Unlimited Blade Works is still good even though it's no Carnival Phantasm

Rin
Nice couch.

The first cour of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works is quite good despite all the problems in its source material. This is a testament to ufotable's deft execution, because that source material is sufficiently flawed that it could easily turn into a train wreck in less capable hands. The mythology behind the Holy Grail War is so preposterous that it seems more appropriate for any Fate/stay night adaptation to play it safe and simply be a straight-up farce like Carnival Phantasm. It's a credit to ufotable that I don't spend every moment of every episode asking perfectly reasonable questions such as, "Why hasn't Berserker killed them yet? Why isn't he killing them now?"

Shirou and Saber
Saber could use some coaching.

The first cour of Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works legitimately is good, though. The action sequences are exceptionally well done, the production values are great all around, and (most amazingly) Emiya Shirou does not come across as a shitheel. Unfortunately, this is a split-cour series, so we're going to have to wait until spring to find out what manner of CGI euphemism we'll get this time around. Who knows, maybe ufotable will actually animate the sex scene? J.C. Staff did that with Shingetsutan Tsukihime, the first anime adaptation of a TYPE-MOON game (Internet memes notwithstanding), even if it turned out that vampires don't have nipples.

Dated 9 December 2014: ufotable's Fate/stay night would be a lot better if it wasn't for Fate/stay night

Saber
Saber works better as a supporting character than as a lead.

I'm not entirely convinced Fate/stay night needed a remake. Whipping boy Studio DEEN's first adapted this TYPE-MOON game in 2006 with the Saber-centric "Fate" route, followed by a 2010 movie based on the Rin-tastic "Unlimited Blade Works" route. Logically, the Sakura-suffering "Heaven's Feel" route should be next, but it appears ufotable plans on adapting it (as a movie) after animating their own "Unlimited Blade Works" project, this time as a television series that sort of succeeds ufotable's 2011 Fate/Zero prequel.

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Dated 2 November 2014: Not a bad season for Ayako fans

Sento and Moffle
A gentleman takes off his hat indoors, Moffle.

Kawasumi Ayako is in three shows this season. She returns as the regal Saber in ufotable's adaptation of Fate/stay night, she's back as the not entirely forthright LRIG Hanayo in selector spread WIXOSS, and she voices a surly (male) mascot in Amagi Brilliant Park.

Saber
Saber, that outfit's wearing you.

Ayako's Saber remains basically the same as her previous turns as Saber (excepting the farcical Carnival Phantasm), meaning she's generally pretty good and has some neat battle cries, but doesn't otherwise offer a lot of range since Saber is fairly taciturn. Her Hanayo has been largely absent from the initial episodes of selector infected WIXOSS. The show has thus far been churning through apparently endless amounts of grief involving other (read: inferior) characters. This basically leaves Moffle in Amagi Brilliant Park—an amusing character with occasional mugging, but Moffle is no Nodame, I'm afraid. These days, however, I'll take what I can get.

Dated 30 September 2014: Summer 2014 season conclusion

Slaine
Slaine has seen some shit.

Aldnoah.Zero was far and away the best show from Summer 2014. I know a lot of viewers disagree with this opinion, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of its episodes. I've written a lot about it. Probably too much, considering I don't like it thaaat much even though it did almost get a perfect score on my little chart jobbie.

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Dated 16 August 2014: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei isn't as good as Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya E1n

Illya
The faces do seem slightly less knobby this season, though.

The first season of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya was unexpectedly good. The TYPE-MOON universe is so filled with overwrought narratives it's no surprise viewers who are fans (but, importantly, not fanatics) of TYPE-MOON enjoy its parodies so much. (See, for example, the brilliant Carnival Phantasm.) The first season of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya hits its marks almost perfectly. It had clever juxtapositions of familiar elements, funny inversions of standard mahou shoujo stereotypes, and outstanding fight scenes.

Kuro
Hey, a bow.

Unfortunately, Prisma☆Illya stumbles in its second season, perhaps because it has become too familiar. Rather than simply being a Fate/stay night parody, the Prismaverse now has its own emerging myths and canon. It hasn't outright bogged itself down with its own "overwrought narratives," but it is neglecting much of what made the first season so good. This may be a roundabout way of saying that the second season is slow, but I'm not sure pacing is really the issue. I think the actual problem is I don't care about Kuro as an antagonist. She's also not likeable enough to sympathize with as an inevitable "frenemy" character, either. Many viewers also complain about the fan service. Although I generally won't criticize a show for its fan service, no matter how aggressive it is, there is a desperate quality to the fan service this season, to the show's detriment. On the plus side, episode six demonstrates that Silver Link can still do cool shit with the fight scenes, so there is that.

Dated 8 October 2013: What Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya have in common

Natsuno and Kazuhito
Wow. Natsuno is sure in a good mood tonight.

At first glance, Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyō and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya probably don't appear to have that much in common, but I can think of at least one thing. Okay, TWO things if you include the fact that I finished watching both of them at about the same time and thus went looking for an excuse to force both shows into a single blog entry, but really ONE thing that I wanted to discuss: PERVERSIONS. Oh, baby, let's get it on.

Maki
When they point the finger it means you're a rival.

So, Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyō. Dog and Scissors. This show made no God damn sense. And I'm not talking about the part where a boy who loves books is murdered, gets his soul trapped in the body of a wiener dog with telepathy, and is adopted by his favorite author. That part I get. What I don't understand is what the deal is with his psycho kid sister and her MAGURO EATAH kitchen knife or the part with the singing maid or Maki the SHINING! idol rival author. And who was the broad in the wheelchair? Really, Dog & Scissors is terrible and somehow only managed to work in three jokes: (1) Natsuno Kirihime (Akiyama Shinobu) is insecure about her small breasts. (2) Natsuno frequently physically abuses Harumi Kazuhito (the dog) with a pair of scissors after he insults her. (3) Natsuno wants to have sex with the dog.

Natsuno
Always with the scissors.

Okay, not really really, but yeah, really. I mean, sort of really? There are a lot more bestiality jokes in Dog and Scissors than I was expecting, okay, even if most of them are just about tsundere bullshit. And while the show does end with a non-ending ending (which is probably why none of the things I mentioned earlier made any sense—they're probably explained in the light novels), it does sort of try to resolve the "romance" sub-plot at the, uh, climax. [SPOILERS] Natsuno gets drunk one night and takes the dog into bed with her, but ralphs all over him before she can force him into doing her human-style. Yes, Kazuhito narrowly avoids inter-species coitus from beyond the grave.

Illya and Ruby
I'm impressed Illya's anime bed isn't made of concrete.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya started late, ended early, but is coming back for more. I had relatively high expectations for Prisma Illya because I liked the manga chapters I sampled. I'm glad that it is returning for another season, because I felt the show only scratched the surface with regard to exploiting the subject matter or letting us know the characters.

Illya
Berserker-chan.

Most of us have probably formed some general impression of who Illyasviel von Einzbern is based on the Fate/stay night game, anime, and movie, as well from her appearances in Carnival Phantasm. Still, I think it is accurate to claim that viewers don't really know Ilya very well at all, since much of her personality comes from fairly stereotypical characterizations. Yeah, yeah, I was going to talk about how Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyō and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya are similar because of perversions. I'm getting to that.

Illya
Illya ruins her outfit.

As I was saying, even after Kaleid Liner, we still don't really know Ilya. Probably the main thing viewers will remember about Ilya is her fetish. As an aside, it was at this point in the entry that I struggled to find a way to use the word "cis" as a pejorative in the same sentence as the term "maid-sexual." I suppose it's not that strange of a fetish. I mean, for example, I bet being maid-sexual is a lot more mainstream than being obsessed with cake sex. It's just that Illya's encumbrance is particularly violent.

<&Nakar> To be fair raping maids is a Nasuverse tradition

I guess there's a third thing Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyou and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya have in common: Both shows could have looked better. Dog & Scissors was obviously low-budget and would have suffered quite a bit from this had the show not already been so low-tier. Prisma☆Illya had really jarring character designs, although I guess it's probably a good thing its mahou shoujo weren't blessed with superlovely character designs. Kaleido Ruby in particular probably would have been too dangerous. Besides, maid rape is easier to play off as a gag when everyone has knobby faces. (See also K-On!) I do want to point out Prisma☆Illya had rad fight scenes like three episodes in a row, though. Because of it, I'm looking forward to more from Silver Link, although I guess this means I might have to watch Strike the Blood now.

Dated 12 August 2013: Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music... and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya both feature battle costumes

Yumi
This was awesome even though they gonged Anime-chan.

I had fairly high hopes for both Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music... and Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya prior to the start of the season. Now—nearly halfway through summer 2013—I'm pleased both are turning out to be quite good. Symphogear G is a sequel to widely panned but wildly entertaining original Senki Zesshou Symphogear: Meteoroid-Falling, Burning, and Disappear, Then... from winter 2012. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya is based on the eponymous parody manga riffing on the Fate/stay night universe. It's pretty amazing how adroit it is at drawing out the best Fate/stay night has to offer. I liked the manga so much from the first few chapters that I stopped reading it so that I would not spoil myself on the anime. It does not disappoint. All around, even without including DokiDoki! Precure, this is a pretty good season for magikal girls trashing the joint.

Kirika, Shirabe, and Maria
You're going to need to give up more than some lunch money.

Symphogear G introduces the very aerodynamic Maria and her little cohorts, Shirabe and Kirika. As antagonists, they're approximately as sinister as the Velka Knights from Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha A's and will almost certainly join Hibiki, Tsubasa, and Chris at the end of the season against a common enemy: Post-menopausal Belldandy.

Maria
You can tell Maria isn't really evil because her cape is awesome.

There's not much to say about the actual plot or story behind Symphogear G. You're supposed to watch it to see these girls thrash each other with preposterous weapons while singing. Moon debris features prominently in Symphogear G as a reminder that the collateral damage from the first season was quite severe, making it likely this season will also not end quietly. At a minimum, I expect the survivors will need to change schools again.

Illya
Don't worry, Illya. It gets worse.

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya cynically takes the point of view of a reluctant magikal girl tricked into taking on the role after a recalcitrant magic wand divorces itself from its previous master. The jokes are not quite as frantic as they are in Carnival Phantasm, but Prisma Illya does reinforce suspicions that TYPE-MOON parodies are better than canonical TYPE-MOON properties.

Miyu and Illya
There sure are a lot of armpits in this show.

The character designs in Prisma Illa are quite different from Takeuchi Takashi standard typically associated with TYPE-MOON, but I think they work in this comedic context just as rounder designs served Carnival Phantasm well. I wasn't expecting the action sequences to be so energetic, particularly since I still associate SILVER LINK with the belt tightening it imposed during Tasogare Otome x Amnesia. Hopefully it didn't blow its Prisma Illa budget on the high-flying episode four.

Hibiki
Hibiki preparing to punch more things.

Like its 2012 predecessor, Symphogear G is the closest thing we're likely to get to a mahou shoujo opera unless someone actually talks Kajiura Yuki into composing The End of My-HiME opera I've been wishing for since 2005. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya demonstrates how much better a TYPE-MOON property can get if you sideline all the idiotic male characters. I'm certainly not one of those viewers who abhor male anime characters on general principle, but I have to admit a lot of these TYPE-MOON chumps are quite odious, particularly with regard to Fate/stay night which had Shirou AND Shinji, both of whom should have been recast as boat anchors. Things are so much nicer without them, even if Caster is still trying to kill everybody.

Dated 10 July 2012: Spring 2012 season wrapup

Rin, Yuka, Saki, and Natsumi
Rin, Saki, and Natsumi realize by now that Yuka
with an idea can be a dangerous thing.

I've already explained why Natsuiro Kiseki is my favorite show from spring 2012. However, I didn't mention how shabby the animation looks at times. I'm really surprised to see such lapses from Sunrise, but the show is otherwise so good I'm willing to ignore those faults.

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