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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 28 November 2016: The End of Aldnoah.Zero ~Air/Slaine Did Nothing Wrong~

Asseylum
I'm going to assume Asseylum has lots of copies of this same dress.

Last week's "The Uncanny Valley of Military Anime" post did not explicitly name Aldnoah.Zero as one of the shows safely on either side of the valley, but I at least thought about it. Omitted for length constraints, I also did not address it because I've—for over a year now—been planning on writing a series of posts addressing various aspects of it. I think I have to admit at this point it ain't gonna happen, just like I'm never going to actually write that Pretty Cure primer or the rest of my Iriya v. Saikano comparisons. So let me at least address the part that bothers me most: The Ending. (Considerable spoilers follow.)

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Dated 21 November 2016: The uncanny valley of military anime

Jonas
Damn it, Private Death Flag, where is your rifle?

The so-called "uncanny valley" occupies the spot between the clearly artificial and the standards accepted as (or indistinguishable from) genuine articles. This concept is generally applied to automata and realistic human robots which generate a sense of uneasy revulsion on the part of the viewer because they're "just not quite there." However, I am applying this concept to explain why I can't quite accept military-themed anime such as this season's Shūmatsu no Izetta and last season's Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin.

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Dated 2 August 2016: I hope I don't need to like Ikuta in order to enjoy Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin

Ikuta
Would you really want a hammock that high in the trees?

I've only seen two episodes of Nejimaki Seirei Senki: Tenkyou no Alderamin (Alderamin of the Sky). So far all I know is the show involves some supposedly genius teenager who becomes a general in a magic/steampunk war. I also know he's a pompous, sophomoric, condescending ass who acts as if he's doing everyone a favor by deigning to acknowledge their existence with his jibber jabber. Additionally, I also learned THE SPOILER, which basically sapped most of the interest I had in the show to begin with.

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Dated 20 May 2016: At least there aren't any icebergs in Haifuri

Akeno
Why aren't you on the bridge?

Nova addressed this in his indictment of Misaki's incompetence through five episodes of Haifuri (High School Fleet). I'm happy to pile on because she didn't fare any better in episode six. Misaki has absolutely no business being captain of her little boat and really just needs to throw herself overboard to save everyone else the trouble.

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Dated 12 July 2015: Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri feels like Bush Doctrine: ~The Animation~

Gate
The Gate appears.

The military otaku in Otaku no Video made me wonder if Japan has a subculture of military-aged males who don't really have an outlet for such interests, unlike their counterparts in other nations. To this 21st century American, it seems as if the warrior culture embraced by Japan's soldiers during World War II vanished after their surrender and disarmament, forcing them and their descendents to refocus (or repress) these drives. It appears as if the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JSDF) must do fuck all because Japan's constitution now prohibits offensive engagements, and defensive conflicts seem extremely unlikely because ain't nobody fucking with Japan without fucking with the United States too. Consequently, perhaps the Japanese military otaku demographic remains underutilized because this paternalistic alliance prevents their team from having any away games and they don't have much of a home game either. Even an anime JSDF has to ride the pine unless the show breaks out some fancy dancing.

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