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Dated 9 April 2018: I'm looking forward to Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory

Tessa and Leonard
I guess you need to watch The Second Raid
to know who the person on the right is.

There has been a running gag for years about Full Metal Panic! fans in anguish about Kyoto Animation working on other projects instead of animating another sequel to follow Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid. To some extent, I fit that category of disgruntled fans in the sense that I did want another FMP season, although it's not accurate to claim I harbored Kyoani any ill will, if only because I had long ago concluded no such sequel would ever be forthcoming. Surprisingly, there is going to be a fourth season after all: Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. (Get it? Full Metal Panic! IV. Anyway....) Xebec is making this one, and it starts on 13 April. Do you need to watch the first three seasons before watching FMP IV? I dunno. Probably?

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Dated 26 March 2018: Sora yori mo Tooi Basho and Yuru Camp△ are the best shows of Winter 2018

Rin
There's also the matter of Rin's excellent hair.

Yuru Camp△ finished its 12-episode run last week with an open-ended conclusion to its deeply satisfying season. As far the actual narrative goes, I can't exactly claim Laid-Back Camp was particularly eventful, but the show's real strengths came from its pleasantly relaxed mood and its freakishly endearing lead character, Rin, anyway. I do like the other characters as well, though, and I'm particularly relieved Nadeshiko turned out to be a lot better than I initially feared, but Rin basically carried Yuru Camp△ for me. She did, after all, clinch the Girl of the Quarter crown in week 10 by racking up most of my Girl of the Week awards. If you place any stock in B.S. numerical ratings, I did score Yuru Camp△ in first place for most of the season before Sora yori mo Tooi Basho passed it.

Hinata
"When angry count four; when very angry, swear."

There's actually one episode of Sora yori mo Tooi Basho left, but I'm all but certain to subjectively regard it as this season's best show regardless of how it actually plays out. Sora yori mo Tooi Basho (see this post for more about the show's name) is exceptionally well done. I'm particularly impressed with how it pays off the numerous little heartfelt investments it made during the course of the series. Also of note is the astute directing which has juggled comedy, drama, and even a little horror with skillful touches of emotional resonance in the right amounts and at the right times.

Violet
Mission top secret, destination unknown.

Speaking of emotional resonance, compare Sora yori mo Tooi Basho with the much hyped Violet Evergarden for example, which turned out to be a hot mess of wildly disparate levels of quality depending on the episode. I felt nearly all of them were clumsy and overwrought, with the exception of two episodes (both of which credit Sawa Shinpei as the episode director, incidentally). In particular, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho has made much better use of its music than Violet Evergarden has, as I've mentioned before. All in all, I'm very impressed with Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, and I'm looking forward to its creative team's future projects.

Dated 6 March 2018: Violet Evergarden is a fully automatic memory doll

Violet
Actually, Violet doesn't seem to brush her hair either.

Violet Evergarden is not subtle. The animation is beautiful, even by the already high standards I've come to expect of Kyoto Animation, but it's somewhat wasted in an uneven show. After eight episodes, I don't care about any of the characters—certainly none of these personality-free men with perpetually uncombed hair. I'm willing to pretend to care about Violet as the main character, but I think I should be more involved by this point so close to the show's end. I would have less of a problem with Violet being a cipher if the show were two cours or longer. As it is, it feels as if the entire auto memory doll letter-writing bit is filler instead of ostensibly one of the main aspects of the series. Is it telling that the far-and-away best episode to date was an anime-original addition?

Violet
WHAT MAKES THE GREEN GRASS GROW?

Writing aside, Violet Evergarden also seems too intent to serve as a talent showcase. It's filled with glorious vignettes, but mostly does not work for me as a whole. In particular, I find the background music incredibly intrusive. The music itself is good, despite not being especially memorable, but the bigger problem is I don't think I should be noticing it nearly as much as I do. In any case, it takes me out of the scene entirely too often. As with most of the other problems I have with Violet Evergarden, it's good from a technical perspective, but would benefit from more restraint. Or perhaps I'm only getting distracted by these components because I'm not invested in the show itself? Probably the lack of appreciation for the plot is entirely my fault, as I'm clearly more interested in the wartime flashbacks and post-war aspects than I am in Violet's effort to understand feelings. Violet Evergarden is only just now revealing the role its titular character played in the war and how she reached the state where we found her in the first episode.

Violet
I don't know why Violet is wearing short pants.

The explanations raise a lot of additional questions that I don't expect to be addressed. For one, considering how unremarkable Violet seemed to be when she was, uh, acquired, why doesn't the army have a lot more of these emotionless child soldiers? Violet was a goddamn wrecking machine that her unit dispatched when it needed someone to ninja the shit out of the enemy. And she was the only one with the situational awareness to identify a pretty obviously vulnerable position. It just seems they could have used a lot more of her ilk. I don't think this is nitpicking, because there should be a compelling reason why Violet has such a gift for killing. If the focus of the show is supposed to be emotional discovery and recovering from loss and the horrors of war, Violet Evergarden could conceivably hit the same points by making her a regular-type scrub child solider as opposed to a Norse valkyrie holy terror.

Dated 4 September 2017: It's Google Sheets' fault I did not blog about Kuromukuro

Yukina
I wanted to like Kuromukuro. It didn't work out.

Spreadsheets killed anime blogging. At least that's my excuse for not even having a Kuromukuro category until now. I wanted to like this show, but it turned out to be too irritating to watch. I mostly bitched about it on the IRC and probably also the Twitter when it aired in spring 2016. (I dropped it before the second cours began summer 2016.) Anyway, here is a tardy, low-effort collection of gripes for y'all to skim over.

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Dated 3 July 2017: The WorldEnd of SukaSuka ~Air/My Purest Love for Leprechauns~

Chtholly
The happiest girl in the world.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? completed its 12-episodes admirably. There's basically no way to talk about it without going into spoilers, but I'll try to avoid major details beyond what's revealed in the first 60 seconds of the first episode. That prologue does test the theory that spoilers don't matter. Personally, I think spoilers absolutely do matter for comedies and punchlines, but I'm willing to entertain the notion they don't matter for drama. In the case of SukaSuka, having an understanding ahead of time about some major developments in the final episodes by having them revealed in the opening prologue did not detract from the show, and I have to admit the revelations likely improved the anime as a whole.

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Dated 19 June 2017: SukaSuka found romance at the WorldEnd

Chtholly
Best Girl.

Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii desu ka? continues to surpass all expectations. That an anime adaptation of a light novel with a ridiculous title (WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?) could turn out to be one of the best shows of the year is somewhat absurd, yet here we are. With 10 episodes in and two to go, I'm looking forward to the ending which was telegraphed in the first episode's 60-second prologue, but I'll also be sad to reach the end of the series, given that successful anime romances are so rare.

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Dated 1 May 2017: SukaSuka, the light novel at the WorldEnd of the tunnel

Chtholly
No pressure.

My preconceptions about Shūmatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka? (WorldEnd: What are you doing at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us? also known as SukaSuka) were generally negative. After all, it's an anime adaptation of a light novel with a stupidly long title. It also seems to feature a lot of shrimpy anime children. Moreover, the lead is a male character who seems to be absent from much of the promotional art, which instead focuses on yet another girl with a sword. On the plus side, her hair isn't red and she didn't seem to use fire magic. That's at least a departure. And she has a giant witch hat. So, while I could find positive aspects, it was not an inspiring first impression. Nevertheless, I was at least willing to give it a shot. Thankfully, through three episodes, Shūmatsu Nani Shitemasu ka? Isogashii Desu ka? Sukutte Moratte Ii Desu ka? is surprisingly all right.

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Dated 16 January 2017: Youjo Senki and the Moshidora of reincarnation anime

Tanya
Shouldn't she be wearing some goggles?

On its face, Youjo Senki (The Saga of Tanya the Evil) should be absolute light-novel garbage. According to those who have investigated the source material, the original light novel really is the sonorous trash you get in these sorts of reincarnation stories. The actual execution, though, is surprisingly deft. And while its appeal is somewhat niche, it does appeal to me, and it safely stays out of the uncanny valley of military anime. Notably, the air battles are quite good, and are a great deal more satisfying than what we got from Brave Witches or Strike Witches. It's easy to accept this is the way witches and warlocks might fight, particularly when one is clearly stronger than the others.

Tanya
Duckface.

However, there's still the issue of Tanya's backstory. Through two episodes at least, there's not really a compelling reason why she needs to be a reincarnated Japanese salaryman. I can at least appreciate that the flashback to her previous death was executed in a clever way. Then again, at this point, just not getting hit by a truck sort of qualifies as being somewhat clever by default. Possibly the story will actually include Tanya's past life's corporate experience as a way to improve her chances on the battlefield, but I'm not expecting any sort of Moshidora epiphanies. Really, trying to make a Moshidora connection to Youjo Senki is tenuous at best, and I confess I only bring it up here and in the title of this post so I can pretend to casually mention I read an 800-page Peter Drucker book from the '70s in 2011 for a baseball anime which hardly anyone watched. Good times.