Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

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Dated 8 January 2018: I don't know what to write about Mahō Tsukai no Yome, so here is Chise bathing

Chise in the bath in episode one.

The first anime season of Mahō Tsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus' Bride) was visually stunning from start to finish. I had some doubts the show would be able to maintain the same high standard all the way through, but I've got no complaints about the first cours. The second cours has also started in fine form, but I'm still somewhat at a loss as to whether this is a show I would recommend or not. At a minimum, Mahoutsukai no Yome offers a different sort of anime that we rarely get. Even though Chise is Japanese, she practically could have come from anywhere, since the ethnic and cultural parts of her background don't matter so much as her early personal life and hardships. The setting is ostensibly British, but it's "Magical Cotswolds as a launching point to other realms" British and not, like, "chip shops on High Street" British.

Chise in the bath in episode 12.

However, The Ancient Magus' Bride might be a little too consistent for its own good, in that there aren't a lot of dramatic highs or lows in the first half of the anime. I frankly have a difficult time imagining what the series must be like for someone who isn't already familiar with the manga. Would someone coming to the anime first be as impressed with it as I was with the manga? Rather than pursuing some objective which Chise strives toward each week, the series consists of seemingly unrelated stories that improve Chise's understanding of the magic world around her. There are occasional reminders that she'll face serious challenges ahead, but there's no corresponding sense of urgency. I have to admit it would be reasonable for viewers to simply dismiss Mahō Tsukai no Yome by saying, "It's fine, but not my sort of thing." Reasonable, but unfortunate.

Dated 15 May 2017: If you give a Pretty Cure a cookie

Fruits Basket Face.

I think it's reasonable to expect a few changes to Pretty Cure now that it's been running for more than 13 years. Its current iteration, Kirakira☆Pretty Cure à la Mode, deviates a bit from typical Precure norms, but not too drastically. For one thing, this is a "furry" Precure in that the transformed forms incorporate a few animal-based cues. We're still talking about the sort of thing children play at, and not lifestyle choices. We also have a couple of high school students as Cures again. There's precedent for this, but they're pretty rare. Nearly all Cures (and there are a shitload of them now) are 14-year-old middle school students.

Cure Custard
That tail is too big.

The biggest change, however, is that they are no longer "legendary warriors," but are "legendary pâtissières" instead. Yes, those of you who remember this entry, baking is back. It works, though. The war has got to end at some point, right? Magikal girls might embody Peace Through Strength, but maybe its okay for them struggle against something other than chaos and destruction. Cure Whip does suck at baking, though. Considering that Peace Through Baking is supposed to be the underlying theme of Kirakira☆Pretty Cure à la Mode, it's a bit sad that she's so terrible at it. Cure Bloom and Cure Rhythm must feel so bad for her. Saki and Kanade can't ever appear in a crossover bake sale with Ichika. They'd stand there baffled by her ruined batch of chocolate chip cookies (some of which are still on fire) and have to pretend people will still buy them.