The Apothecary Diaries, episode 18

In which one secret is openly revealed, another is subtly revealed, and a third is almost there. Also, family reunions suck.

Verdict: I would be very happy if they announced more cours for this show.

(something in this episode made this picture resonate with me…)

Solo Murderhobo, episode 6

Making friends and killing people. Right on schedule. Again, it’s nice that they’ve worked a lot of the supporting cast into these early episodes. If they get enough seasons to make use of them, that is. You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for Our New Best Friend, though, who’s stuck in that awkward state between hero worship and abject terror.

Verdict: five stars, would kill again.

(Cha got about five seconds in this episode; I guess she’ll have to do until Esil shows up)

McPharmacist And Friends 2, episode 6

In which Our Loving Waifu demonstrates the proper way to bounce in a bikini (pon-pon girls take note!), Our Retired Heroine forgets her bikini but sadly wears an oversized shirt instead, Our Slow Heroes win the gratitude of an entire village using their medicinal talents, Our Psychotic New Hero lives up to the label, Our Cuddly Assassinette goes undercover, Our Ambitious Cardinal turns out to be surprisingly spry, and looting a dragon’s hoard is sure to end badly.

Verdict: I found the whole New Hero thing tedious in the light novels, and it’s no better here. It’s also far from over, so it’s going to continue to pollute the rest of the season.

(nothing says year-of-the-dragon like a bit of Grea-service)

Unrelated, speaking of family…

…banality after the jump, as they say.


Scrabbling for quality...

Way to QA, Apple

The just-released MacOS, iOS, and iPadOS updates are entirely based on Apple managing to break basic text handling across all their platforms. I hadn’t noticed it on my Mac because I do most of my typing in, but when I was trying to post a comment to my own blog in Safari, entire paragraphs of text would spontaneously vanish whenever I tried to edit a sentence.

Official description of the only fix in the release:

Text may unexpectedly duplicate or overlap while typing

I’d ask how they missed this, but that presupposes that they test text entry at all.

Frieren, episode 22

This week, the downtime between exams brings Stark back into the story, but Our Pouty Reunion is repeatedly interrupted by having the other mages thrown into the scenes in various combinations. Getting many of them into the same restaurant was too contrived, but the actual Frieren & Friends Now And Then parts were great.

Verdict: how many times now has Fern’s emotional time-bomb gone off? Gal really needs to get laid soon, or at least vigorously kissed. As for the mages, with the exception of Little Miss Fanservice, eight deadly words. And if you’re concerned about Frieren’s eating habits, I’m sure she’s got a spell for that.

Pon The Road Again, episode 6

In the obligatory opening dream sequence, Our Goth Girl scores some mighty masterful mahjong against Girls 1-3 at a low table in a traditional inn while wearing yukata. This is the most animation the show has shown outside of the credits, and not all of it was CGI. Then she suddenly sits up in her bunk bed wearing a tank top made of bounce-prevention fabric.

Cut to a train-station meeting in new clothing (bare midriff for Gothy), where phase one of “training camp” is “visit tourist spots that we never go to in our own neighborhood”, an excuse to pan over more of the reference photos they’ve been tracing. One of which is a bathhouse, so, y’know, finally.

Except that even the bath scene is a panned still covered with steam.

When they finally reach their ryokan after hiking through more panned stills, they jump into the bath, but they’re too tired to pan the steamed-up still. Despite their (and our) exhaustion, Gothy demands that they finally play the damn game, and so they break out the tiles.

Unlike the triumphant dream sequence, the next N minutes are spent with the THIS IS COMEDY music highlighting their increasingly erratic play as they fight off sleep. In the end, Our Poor Little Riiche Girl goes off to bathe alone, and we don’t even get a still of that.

Verdict: cute-girls-doing-cute-things in the great outdoors, plus at least the idea of bath scenes, but most importantly, no man-face “jokes”. Next week: finally, bikinis. (yeah, this is my shocked face)

(last week it was revealed that Girls 1-4 are 16, while Gothy is 17 (and visiting from Hiroshima, not homeless); they sure do breed ’em healthy in this region)

Kana Nakada, former idol singer and current mahjong pro, mostly just lends her name to this show, since her voice is unrecognizable in the OP song.

Here she demonstrates her qualifications to play with the pon-pon girls.

Molesting Magical Girls, episode 6

In which Our Dolly Loli makes a new friend, and then lures Our Ditzy Heroine into baby play, exploiting her character flaws to keep things flowing even after she breaks the mind control. Meanwhile, we get an origin story for Our Distinctly Unfeminine Heroine.

Unrelated, we’re halfway through, and the show airs on Wednesdays, so could this be described as the “double humpday” episode?

Verdict: Instead of the standard “monster of the week”, we’ve got “fetish of the week”, which somehow works with the character development.

(not exactly a mother/daughter pic, but I’m delighted that I don’t have any relevant fan-art for bottle-feeding and diapers)

Fetish Alert!

Four-eyed catgirls must also be four-eared. Duh.

Except for this one:

Related, Leafa-chan could use a good pair… of glasses:

Makeup, Makedown

The Apothecary Diaries, episode 17

They really lean into the comedy side this week, taking advantage of all that character-building they’ve been doing. Plenty of serious plot crumbs being dropped, though, with Maomao learning some things about Jinshi that don’t match his public face, and Jinshi getting a few puzzle pieces that are sure to lead to future revelations.

Verdict: …possibly as early as next week, when the secrets of Creepy Monocle Guy come to light. Secrets he was strangely anxious to hint at.

Slo-Mo Leveling, episode 5

I can’t figure out how they’re planning to end this season, given the pacing. This week is basically an advanced intro to dungeon crawling, with Our Leveling Hero and His First Friend joining a pick-up raid that goes wrong. This week also debuts the real post-upgrade Jinwoo, obliviously putting pretty young nurses into heat.

Verdict: it’s a solid adaptation so far, but if they don’t announce a second cour, it’s not going to be very satisfying. They need 4+ to do it justice, even with some trimming.

McPharmacist, Waifu, & Sister 2, episode 5

FYI, while you can use filters to emulate depth of field, using it to make your cheesecake fuzzy is a bad idea; fortunately they compensate for this mistake with bath scenes. The big news this week is that Ruti’s bust stays at a consistent size in and out of her clothing. The bad news is that the point of the episode is a sparring match between Red and Danan, consisting mostly of panned stills with speedlines, with the climax offscreen. And it ended with more time spent building up Our Psychotic New Hero; this is sure to take time away from the cheesecake.

Verdict: if it weren’t for all the cleavage shots, this episode would have been wasted. Bonus points for Mr. Crawly-Wawly getting a bath scene.

Today I Learned

The pon-pon girls refer to their electronic mahjong table as Janta-kun. This is one of the many in-jokes, because the word for mahjong table is jan-taku. This also explains why the talking bird is a sparrow: the kanji used for the “jan” in “maajan” means sparrow: 雀.

(not a pon-pon girl, but qualified to sit at their table)

Dear Erika Ikuta,

Are you sure you’re from Nogizaka46 and not Hello!Project? Because I have some fashion questions…

(source NSFW; disable Javascript…)

One less show to watch...

Metallic Rouge, episode 4

Wow, that was a mess. It’s really weird to read an episode review and find praise for all the things I thought were terrible about the story. Usually I think Tenka Seiha’s takes are too negative, but this week he nailed it.

Verdict: bored now.

(picture is completely unrelated, to take the bad taste out of my mouth)

Frieren, episode 21

Finally! This was better than last week’s episode, despite there still being no reason to care about most of the mages. It helped that they let us see Flamme again and tied her to the ancient elf that popped up out of nowhere last week. Now, if they can manage not to drag out the next round of the tournament…

Verdict: a bad run of Frieren episodes is still better than 90% of what’s out there.

Molesting Magical Girls, episode 5

There are innocent ways to play house and play doctor. Our New Emotionless Loli, however, has knowledge beyond her years and kinks to match. If you thought forum commenters were squicked out before, this episode should send them into orbit as she shows off her fully-nude transformation, mind-controls two of Our Gullible Magical Girls into violating the third, then takes a firm hand with Our Sick Villainess, for her own good and ours.

Verdict: …and yet this is actually a character-driven story that introduces a new teammate and shows her life being improved by making friends.

(this is more wholesome than Alice’s idea of a lady doctor…)

Pon-Pon-Q, episode 5

The big news this week is not that Girl#5 joins the gang, but that the other girls wear different clothes. This is sufficiently rare in anime that it deserves a callout, even though the results are less revealing. Sadly, while the eyecatch shows them switching costumes, there’s no magical-girl nude transformation scene.

It’s not like they just wear different outfits every day like normal people, though; there has to be a reason, and this week’s reason is having a barbecue picnic (while promising a future swimsuit episode).

Verdict: despite Our New Goth Girl’s obsession with a revenge match, this is an actual cute-girls-doing-cute-things episode, with no mahjong content. This also means no man-face “jokes”, which is a real bonus. Next week: more costume changes.

(…but not this sort of costume change)

Been There, Done That

AKA the second-best Groundhog Day episode back when everyone was doing that, AKA Xena season 3 episode 2. The series has rotated back to being on Prime again, so I had to watch it, to see if it still held up. The answer is… mixed. The episode is still funny, but the video was horribly over-compressed, which made it barely watchable; my HD streams were fine, which means that Amazon doesn’t have a decent SD source for the show.

Also, I remember Gabrielle being a lot cuter when I originally watched this show. Still young, healthy, and girl-shaped, so I’m guessing my memory merged her with other blonde actresses of the Nineties. After all, I haven’t seen any of this stuff in nearly 30 years.

The Adventures Of Ruti & Tisse 2, episode 4

In which both the OP and the ED are omitted to make room for three bathing scenes (steam and soap say: “buy the Bluray”), and with the exception of a short bit highlighting that the new Hero is a psychotic loon working for an ambitious cardinal, the story is A Day In The Slow Life for Our Girls Gone Mild. Followed by A Night In The Old Life, which leads to some nice character development for Our First Friend.

Ruti is adorably awkward at normal life, but she’s trying really hard. I particularly appreciate that Tisse manages to navigate the day without the writers resorting to Shouting Is Comedy. Instead, they actually put in the effort to make it warm and funny.

Verdict: Best. Episode. Yet.

Now that’s a compelling offer!

Just spotted in a job posting:

Competitive pay up to $[highest pay] per hour

First-rank or Death

Frieren, episode 20

They’re trying really hard to make us care about these new mages. It’s not working for me, and they didn’t even compensate with intimate close-up shots of Little Miss Fan-Service. Sure, it was nice to see Fern casually taking down two experienced combat mages, but then we had to sit through the exposition on why they’re pursuing this certification in the first place. Which sounds a tad suspicious.

Verdict: please burn down the forest in the first minute of the next episode.

The Apothecary Diaries, episode 16

Sherlock Maomao returns to solve a locked room drawer mystery, and gently hints that maybe you don’t want to sniff lead solder in rooms without ventilation. While she’s got her Great Detective hat on, she also figures out a small piece of the larger puzzle. Pity she’s not in the room when Creepy Monocle Guy drops a hint the size of a small boulder, which somehow zooms right past Jinshi.

Verdict: this is pulling ahead of Frieren by the simple virtue of not getting bogged down in a tournament arc, despite the extremely contrived nature of the mystery metal mystery.

(next week, slumming with the common folk!)

Solo Leveling, episode 4

This week, it’s Baby’s First Dungeon Grind, as Our Hero explores his menus and spends skill points to Grow Stronger, expositing all the while. The payoff is that an evening of leveling up gives him the power to save his not-girlfriend while remaining safely anonymous.

Verdict: 1/3 of the way through the season, and he’s finished the starter area. Will they get a second season that rewards the viewers for their investment? I hope so, because I want to see Esil animated.

(not this not-girlfriend; this one’s a self-rescuing princess, for the most part)

Online Pon, episode 4

In which the online game that’s sponsoring this show is prominently featured, with Our Bounceless Pon Girls playing online mahjong while sitting at a mahjong table together. On the bright side, they spend most of the episode actually playing mahjong, which is theoretically the theme of the show. Not that I know anything about the game, which makes the exaggerated dramatic moments zoom right past me. Speaking of drama, the episode ends with Girl#5 successfully stalking Our Poor Little Riiche Girl to the parlor. Fortunately she’s qualified to join the group, and by that I mean stacked. Also apparently homeless.

Note that the online game is getting its own anime in April, which is apparently its second season.

Verdict: if only the girls were, y’know, animated; and they stopped doing the man-face jokes; and they cut the volume on the This Is Comedy music.

“...because good is dumb”

(classical reference)

Dear Amazon,

The “Inspired by your digital shopping trends” section consists primarily of dead-tree editions of books I already purchased as ebooks. From you. Why do you think that’s a thing?

Molesting Magical Girls, episode 4

You know how Japanese men’s mags put luscious 19-year-olds in (and out of) schoolgirl outfits? Well, that reference art is clearly how the artists responsible for Our Supposedly-Fourteen Ditzy Drill-Haired Redheaded Magical Girl’s appearance this week got their inspiration. Honestly, Sulfur’s about the only member of the cast so far who could plausibly pass for under 18.

Despite the bound and bountiful cheesecake on display this week, there’s all sorts of plot crumbs being dropped. Next week, Team Dom adds a loli.

Verdict: in the words of Donna Barr, “anyone who takes this seriously deserves to”.

Metallic Kiddy Rouge Grade, episode 3

Oh, look, the bus people are back! Maybe I should have remembered their names! Or not. There’s no combat this week, just a history lesson and a bunch of random plot coupons, and a sauna scene that doesn’t even offer the hope of an unsteamed Bluray release.

Verdict: yawn; all the shallow Nean allegory is really turning me off of this show.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”