Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.
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Dated 20 February 2024: I've got 99 Levels but a Maou ain't one

Level 99 art by nyoro
https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/115972798
by nyoro

< garamir> In that scene, she's blowing a monster-summoning horn to help her classmates level up. Nobody appreciates her help in this matter.
< garamir> Since she's a gamer, she power leveled her whole life and is now level 99. So her training method of "don't use safety equipment, grind dungeons solo, just heal your arm if it gets chopped off and don't be a baby about it" is not common.

I started watching Akuyaku Reijou Level 99: Watashi wa Ura-Boss desu ga Maou dewa Arimasen (Villainess Level 99: I May Be the Hidden Boss but I'm Not the Demon Lord) because of the above fan art and subsequent explanation to my inquiry about it. Also, because I remembered the show stars a character named Dolkness, which is simply an incredible anime name. Okay, maybe as far as outrageous anime names go, perhaps Dolkness is not on par with something top-tier such as Chateau Dankworth, but it's still amazing. More importantly, Dolkness is attached to a show that I enjoy watching—something that can't be said of Chateau Dankworth's Koroshi Ai (Love of Kill).

Alicia
The hero is late because she helped a stranger. Never help strangers.

I, for one, can't get enough of her Dolknessness. If I have any complaints at all, it's that Yumiella's internal voice doesn't sound like Power from Chainsaw Man. There's no reason why it should, but I'm amused that the possibility exists since she's voiced by Fairouz Ai. It's too bad that it would not match her character's personality. Most of the time, Yumiella is fairly laid back and generally doesn't get particularly excited. Her monotone way of speaking and her dead eyes are by no means unique traits, but I'm at least not tired of this gimmick yet.

Yumiella
Thigh gap.

I guess this means the various villainess-themed stories remain the last variant of isekai nonsense for which I still have any sort of appetite. I can't claim I like villainess-type isekai anime, but I do seem to end up watching a lot of them. This is not to say Akuyaku Reijou Level 99 is an underappreciated gem that I discovered late this season. (Cf. BanG Dream! It's MyGO!!!!! from Summer 2023.) Dolknessness ~The Animation~ is all right, but it's probably not going to surprise anyone who's already developed some sort of sense as to what it's going to be like.

Dated 13 February 2024: In re Yamada's friends in BokuYaba

Serina, Kyoutarou, Chihiro, and Moeko
They're leaving Bayashiko in the dark on purpose, right?

Midway through Boku no Kokoro no Yabai Yatsu 2nd Season (The Dangers in My Heart Season 2), three of Yamada Anna's friends should be familiar faces to the viewer. Anna does have other friends throughout the school, but three classmates in particular form a regular group—one that has increasingly integrated Ichikawa Kyoutarou into the circle over time. So who are these three?

Kyoutarou and Moeko
I like that apron.

Sekine Moeko is the one who unabashedly claimed physical attractiveness was the most important quality she considered in prospective boyfriends. Kyoutarou took an immediate disliking to her. However, with Anna serving as their initial mutual "friend of a friend" nexus, Kyoutarou and Moeko have since advanced to the stage where they're also friends with each other, independent of Anna, even if Kyoutarou doesn't necessarily realize it himself.

Serina and Anna
It's fine, just roll with it.

Yoshida Serina gets the least amount of attention of the three as far as the story goes, but she's observant and insightful even though she doesn't always reveal what she knows. Serina is the one who was uncomfortable with Moeko's casual lie to Anna's mother. She's also the one who noticed Kyoutarou knew which elevator button to press, and where the bathroom was.

Moeko, Serina, Anna, and Chihiro
It's not easy being Bayashiko.

Kobayashi Chihiro is the focal point for a lot of Yamada-based antics and reaction gags. Of these three friends, Chihiro is the one who is slowest at realizing why Anna and Kyoutarou seem to spend so much time together. I'm not quite ready to call her the dumb one, but I'm certainly not going to characterize her as the smart one either. Also, it doesn't seem to come up often enough, but I'd like to acknowledge that "Bayashiko" is a fantastic nickname. Sure, people refer to Anna as "Dayama" too, but that doesn't quite have the same ring to it.

Dated 6 February 2024: I like the Frieren approach to solving problems

Frieren and Denken
Don't hurt him. He's just a child.

After 21 episodes, I presume most viewers have noticed Sousou no Frieren (Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End) adopts understated, laid-back approaches to most of its tasks and conflicts. Neither Frieren nor Fern tend to get particularly excited about anything, even during life-and-death struggles. Only Stark's occasionally quavering voice externally reveals much anxiety, typically from stifling his despair over companions who don't seem outwardly concerned about their shared predicaments. Fern, in particular, has come a long way from the terrified girl fleeing from her first violent encounter (against an scary monster that she can—and does—easily defeat). Now she displays no emotion as she uses "boring" attacks to dispatch a fellow mage (without even harming her).

Frieren
Maybe you'll find a grimoire containing umbrella magic.

I presume not everyone enjoys the tone or nature of these fights, particularly if there's an expectation for something more dramatic than waiting for Chekhov's Rainfall to finally factor in as a decisive tide-turning element. However, given the unflagging popularity of the Frieren anime (and manga), I have to assume I'm not alone in relishing extended moments where Frieren simply stares as she patiently waits for her opponent to fuck up. It's fitting for someone who has all the time in the world.

Dated 30 January 2024: The elf is most delicious in Dungeon Meshi

Senshi and Marcille
Hard work is going to make you hungrier.

I've been hearing for some time from adjacent Internet sources how entertaining the Dungeon Meshi (Delicious in Dungeon) manga is, so learning Studio Trigger would be animating the anime meant I was guaranteed to give it a try, even if I had to watch it on the Netflix. (I also continue to pay for the Netflix even though it irritates the shit out of me. Don't get me started. But I digress.) Through four episodes, it's nice—the animation in particular—but it's not really the sort of show I'd normally be watching.

Marcille
Marcille looks like that because she's eating spicy food, not because she's sexually aroused.

I suppose I have at least some interest in a few cooking-related anime and manga, but it's clearly not one of the sub-genres that I'm passionate about, considering my muted reactions to fan favorites such as Shokugeki no Soma (Food Wars!) and Yakitate!! Japan. Consequently, I'm really only watching the Dungeon Meshi anime because I enjoy Studio Trigger and because Marcille's reactions amuse me. I can't help but notice she gets worked up a lot more over things than Frieren, but maybe Marcille is only a little baby elf compared to Frieren.

Dated 23 January 2024: Chained Solider is what we're calling it to avoid having Slave in the title

Kyouka and Yuuki
It's not a date.

Mato Seihei no Slave (localized as Chained Soldier instead of as Slave of the Magic Capital's Elite Troops) is a new anime based on the manga by the same author who wrote Akame ga Kill!. Consequently, you might expect it to be edgy nonsense (I mean that in a good way, okay), but it's more of a gratuitous fan service romp. I suppose I could characterize the manga as a guilty pleasure except I don't feel guilty about enjoying it. It's great, actually.

Himari and Yuuki
You're in the sort of anime where this happens, Himari. Deal with it.

Through three episodes, the anime isn't quite as good, mostly because (I suspect) this is the sort of thing that works better as manga than as anime. For one thing, there's something not right about seeing it in color—or at least in these colors. There is, also, the fan service, which does honestly come across differently animated than in manga form. Still, I'm generally in favor of gratuitous content, even if a show is forced to prepare a censored version for the delicate to go along with the uncensored version for general audiences.

Kyouka and Yuuki
See, just like Fullmetal Alchemist.

Oh, am I going to need to describe the premise? Fiiine. Chained Soldier is about women (well, teenage girls, mostly) with superpowers defending the world (well, Japan, mostly) against inhuman monsters. The leader of one of these groups has the ability to enslave these beasts, but it turns out her power works on humans, too (well, on one male human in particular, anyway). Naturally, payment is required in exchange for using this power. In principle, it's like Darker than Black (where a price is paid for using one's powers) or, uh, Fullmetal Alchemist (where, uh, you know, equivalent exchange). Same thing, honestly, except lewd.

Dated 16 January 2024: 10 years of Tales of Wedding Rings

Satou and Hime
This anime bed is made of concrete.

I've been reading Kekkon Yubiwa Monogatari (Tales of Wedding Rings) since it first came out a decade ago. It's honestly not an especially compelling story, but I got in at the ground floor because I like Maybe, the manga duo who also gave us Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e (To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts) and Tasogare Otome x Amnesia (Dusk Maiden of Amnesia). Wedding Rings is a fairly straightforward Hero v. Evil Menace fantasy story. It's also one of those deals where the hero's strength is bolstered by the power of polygamy. There are plenty of stories where magic abilities correspond with boner status (e.g., Dakara Boku wa, Ecchi ga Dekinai and Dokyuu Hentai HxEros, among others), but that's not quite what's going on here.

Saphir, Nephrites, Hime, Granart, and Amber
There sure has been a a lot of polygamy anime lately.

Still, the whole going-on-wife-collection-adventures thing sets the tone for what you can expect. I don't think the anime will attempt to cover the entire manga in a single cours, but I also have my doubts about the likelihood of this getting multiple seasons. Through two episodes, it's mostly just fine, although I'm less enthusiastic about it since most of what I liked about the manga is how it looks. In comparison, the Tales of Wedding Rings anime simply looks like, well, just another anime. I'm sticking with it, but I can see how anyone coming to the series with a blank slate may be somewhat unimpressed.

Dated 9 January 2024: Sasaki and Peeps feels like a prank

Pii-chan
I don't know what sort of voice I expected instead, but it wasn't that.

I started watching Sasaki to Pii-chan (Sasaki and Peeps) despite knowing basically nothing about it. Well, I knew Yuuki Aoi voiced a talking bird, and that was reason enough for me. And I guess I also knew someone convinced Frog-kun that it got better later. It turns out it's about a salaryman who is not at all phased that his newly acquired pet bird is a wizard from a different world. Oh, and magic also works in Japan. I guess there's no reason why it wouldn't.

Sasaki and Pii-chan
You may remember me from such anime as 80,000 Gold, Etc.

Anyway, it feels as if I'm being pranked largely because of how the two leads are voiced. I'm at the point where I can't hear Tomokazu Sugita voice any character without, well, without it sounding as if it's just Tomokazu Sugita voicing a character. Additionally, Yuuki Aoi has given the bird an unexpectedly deep voice. You know how the cat in Machikado Mazoku (The Demon Girl Next Door) has a deep voice that's played for laughs? It's a similar effect, except played straight. The first episode is double-length, which is enough time to bring in the psychics who are part Japan's secret psychic government agency, and, it's like...are you putting me on?

Otonari and Sasaki
How long have you been sitting there?

Anyway, I'm going to keep watching, and hope its focus on arbitrage diminishes a bit. I also don't want it to devolve into magic v. psychics battling. Okay, but then what do I want from Sasaki and Peeps? I suppose I want talking-bird adventures. And I suppose I'm also curious to find out how out-of-place the subplots involving the neighbor feel. I've seen people claim on the social-type media that she was an editorial addition glomming onto some sort of wayward teen girl trend, possibly inspired by HigeHiro. I see the source material (a light novel) is still ongoing, so I'm not expecting much from this anime. Maybe being elaborately pranked by it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

Dated 19 September 2023: There's really going to be more Gundam SEED

Gundam SEED Freedom logo
There was a time when I would have been so stoked to see this.

Until I watched Suisei no Majo (The Witch from Mercury), Kidou Senshi Gundam SEED (Mobile Suit Gundam SEED) and its sequel Gundam SEED Destiny were the only two series from that venerable franchise I had ever watched. I did enjoy Gundam SEED and thought it was good enough to buy the giant DVD box, but I probably enjoyed blogging about Destiny more because it's easier to get more mileage out of deeply flawed shows. I wrote most of those posts before adopting WordPress, and never got around to properly migrating all of them. I keep meaning to, though, someday.

Kira
Kira looks normal.

At the time, I thought a third season of Gundam SEED would not be too far away. As it turned out, ah, a variety of reasons prevented that from happening. I won't go into it since I don't have a complete understanding of the relevant facts (or at least not a confident understanding). In any case, a 20-year-anniversary movie project is expected in early 2024 now. The details I've been seeing about it do not exactly inspire much enthusiasm, though, at least in my case.

Lacus
You ARE the villain, right?

At a minimum, the way the already distinctive character designs have evolved appear distractingly silly. Maybe I'll get used to them, but I can't take any of the promotional materials that I've seen so far seriously. More importantly, I'm skeptical a movie project can cram in all the things I'm expecting it to include in any sort of coherent way. I suppose it doesn't need to necessarily wrap everything up as a single movie. I had my doubts when I first heard the GIRLS und PANZER follow-up would consist of six movies, and that is working out well so far. They sure are taking a long time, though. Perhaps, if the FREEDOM movie is popular enough, Sunrise will make more.