“Lauren’s heartfelt, pain-filled account is the sort of thing that makes even the most hard-nosed skeptic and science buff want to become a con artist who bilks movie stars and fashion moguls out of their hard-earned (or easily inherited) wealth.”

— Todd Seavey on Jenny Lauren's book

Don't hate the Player


The Apothecary Diaries, episode 15

Monocle Guy has stopped lurking and started getting vaguely sinister. Meanwhile, Maomao plays Detective Pukeatchu and somehow manages to locate the unlabeled jar that contains the evidence; I presume it glowed when she moused over it.

Verdict: Jinshi’s inability to cope with being friendzoned is always amusing.

Solo Leveling, episode 3

I keep getting distracted by the razor sharp chins, but on the bright side, they’re giving the girls more coverage. Which is more interesting than Our Newbie Player’s discovery of how to handle status screens, skill points, and Daily Quests. Spoiler alert: Int is his dump stat.

Verdict: the rules require that we grind through this.

Slow Waifu & Sister, episode 3

In which Our Bountiful Waifu is eating for three, Our Neighbor’s Wife is working up a sweat, Our Haven’t-Seen-In-Forever Guild Girl remains competitive, Our Friendly High Elf Maiden is sticking around, Our Almost-Forgotten Muscle Dude returns, Our Masked Assistant has an unsurprising secret identity, and Our Observant Assassin is the only one to notice that something’s up.

Verdict: I think I want a spinoff show in which Tisse leads hot-springs tours for the rest of the female cast.

+1 Hot Pants Of Service


Frieren, episode 19

Little Miss Fan-Service is an awkward fit for this show. Fun to look at, sure, and more developed as a character than the other mages whose names I don’t even bother trying to remember, but still just a distraction from Frieren’s accidental mentoring and memories.

Verdict: I’m thinking Twintailed Redhead Hot Pants Mage should be this year’s trend. Just get us out of this forest soon, please.

Pon Starlets, episode 3

Y’know, if they’d animated this, they might have convinced someone to license it. Then again, it would still just be cute girls doing cute things making lame mahjong references. Seriously, if these chicks were D&D nerds, they’d be saying things like “wow, you really rolled a natural 20 on this curry!”.

Unrelated, Izumi was clearly switched at birth. At least Nashiko is the same species as her mom, but as for the closest thing we have to a fan-service gal, the apple fell very far from the pine tree.

Verdict: the primary virtue of this is that it’s inoffensive. No shouting, no cheat powers, no slave harem, etc. It’s just filler, the sort of thing that Steven would raid for screenshots at the end of the season.

Gourmet Side Quests, episode 3

In which I think I’m done here.

(package update…)

It arrived Friday, from UPS, but since Amazon just threw it into an envelope, the product’s lightweight unsealed box was crushed and everything fell out into the envelope. Maybe it works, maybe it doesn’t.

Prime Fiction


Dear Amazon,

Please quit with the phony tracking IDs. You’ve got a package that’s supposed to arrive “today by 8 PM” that was allegedly shipped via UPS, but the tracking ID isn’t even valid in their system. I’m willing to wager that when/if it does eventually arrive, that will not be the ID on the package, and the shipping label won’t say UPS.

…and after 9 PM it updated to claim “now expected by January 24”, with the possibility to request a refund on the 25th. Meanwhile, the product page claims that I could buy one in the next hour and have it on the 20th.

McPharmacist & Waifu & Sister Too, ep 2

Our Passionate Elf’s stirring defense of Our Slow-Waifing Hero sounds an awful lot like a confession. Just sayin’. Meanwhile, Our Adorable Assassinette’s mind is blown by Our Heroic Little Sister’s bro-sharing plans, revealed as part of the hot-springs fan-service competition. Oh, yeah, they also fight a big monster and feed some friendly giants.

Verdict: more bathing, please.

(and if they need a new product line, they can bottle the used hot-springs water and sell it to every man in Zoltan)

Molesting Magical Girls, episode 3

I have to respect them for committing to the premise. And if the Bluray release is any more explicit than this, they should ship it with a box of tissues.

Verdict: Kiwi-chan’s quite the showoff; I wonder if Venalita took a few pictures before recruiting her…

(there actually is some fan-art for the manga this is based on, but most of it is still quite suggestive, which shouldn’t surprise anyone)

Metallic Rouge, episode 2

In which We Suck At Undercover. Like, Really Bad.

Also, the fight music is over-the-top goofy melodrama.

Verdict: definite Kiddy Grade trainwreck vibes here. Cute gals, though.

(unrelated Night Stalker is hotter than Kolchak)

School Daze


The Apothecary Diaries, episode 14

In which Maomao schools the consorts with detailed training materials in a hilarious “do as I say, not as I do” montage. Then it’s time to reunite with another of her useful contacts to kickstart another mystery.

Verdict: Gyokuyo is Best Girl. Naughty naughty best girl.

Solo Leveling, episode 2

In which we get a full recap of the history that was introduced last week, and Our Weakest Hero manages to figure out the clues in time to save, well, not everybody, but at least the girl. Next week, the story begins.

Verdict: this is paced for a faithful adaptation, which I think would require at least four seasons, and they haven’t mentioned approval for even a second one yet.

(…which means we probably won’t see Esil this season)

Whipped into shape

The OP song (“My Dream Girls”) for Molesting Magical Girls is all sweetness and light.

Frieren Friday


Everything else is just filler.

Frieren, episode 18

Note to fan-artists: they only blot out half the sky.

Cast expansion was relatively light this week, with only a few of the exam candidates getting fleshed out. This included the cute redhead in hot pants, who got some actual fan-service poses in. Nice cameos by Kraft and the old gang.

Verdict: the art style doesn’t really lend itself to fan-service; fortunately that’s not the point.

Dawdling In Dungeon, episode 2

This week, the highlight is the OP animation and original song, on which they spent more money than the rest of the show. The actual episode settles into its tropes, accomplishing very little in the way of making the characters interesting. Also, SHOUTING IS COMEDY!

Verdict: snore. Maybe they should add a dramatic countdown timer, “days until Falin is fewmets”.

Pon-Pon Girls, episode 2

[not licensed for streaming]

In which Girl#4 does-not-bounce into the story, which is pretty impressive for a gal packing a pair of Death Stars. You can understand why she’s reluctant to visit other mahjong parlors with mostly male customers:

It seems a bit bait-and-switchy to make a fuss about how the OP song features a former member of Nogizaka 46 and current professional mahjong player, when her voice is so distorted by autotune that she barely sounds human. Nothing wrong with the tune, or the pon-pon girls singing the pon-pon parts, but it’s pretty clear that Kana Nakada’s career was never based on her vocal talents.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Verdict: the trailers promised bikinis; maybe that’s what they’re saving the 2D animation budget for. (the 3D budget is going into rendering the automated game table)

Last of the new shows (for me)


Metallic Rouge, episode 1

The trailers and OP made it look like a Dirty Pair/Bubblegum Crisis mashup, but after watching it, I’m leaning toward a Kiddy Grade trainwreck. The buddy-cop lead girls are cute, the mechsuit battles are flashy and not entirely incoherent, and it’s generally well-drawn and animated, but the slave android thing is either poorly explained or utter bullshit.

We’re shown a vast underclass of android slaves who are considered completely disposable, each one of which requires a daily shot of juice that also acts as a spiffy drug for humans and has a massive black-market value. Each android is issued (?) one shot a day, which they carry around until they need a hit, or maybe store in an unguarded locker room at work. We’re also shown a massive hijacked truckload of the stuff, which suggests that thousands of workers are going to be tossed in the garbage when they can’t get juiced tomorrow, which would surely disrupt their ability to provide a functional and safe environment on Mars.

Verdict: mysterious pasts and secret agendas, sigh.

(Our Low-Affect Transforming Heroine would be more interesting if her mechsuit looked like this)

Molesting Magical Girls, episode 2

I decided to see how they’d follow up the I Can’t Believe It’s Not Hentai debut, and it opens with all three magical girls completely naked. Subtle, it ain’t.

(Our Increasingly Aroused Villainess wishes her costume were this conservative…)

Speaking of trailers…

Netflix has a full-length trailer for their production of 3 Body Problem, which is filled with scenes that have nothing to do with the book. The only two skiffy technologies present in the first book are something capable of projecting strings onto an individual’s field of vision (countdowns and childish insults), and a monomolecular cable capable of slicing a ship in half as it passes through the Panama Canal. The former is allegedly alien tech, the latter is the main character’s tech. Not the main character of the show; that seems to be Benedict Wong playing the gruff middle-aged detective.

If they never explain anything (especially The Two Protons), then it might succeed as a visually spectacular shallow SciFi experience. If they do, then it’s just another chapter in the ongoing pity fuck for Chinese SF fans who can’t get their hands on the good stuff.

Unrelated,

Every contract recruiter in India is now calling me from phony US VoIP numbers, with really bad connections. After being informed that I wasn’t interested in contract work, as he should have known from my profile, one of them even had his manager call back to explain that it was a long-term contract, and that the company typically converted to perm.

Anyway, my phone is once again set to send unknown callers straight to voicemail.

McPharmacist & Waifu & Sister Too, episode 1


First we’re introduced to Our Fanatical New Hero and his party, viewed through the eyes of the latest member, Mask Gal. Then the OP goes all-in on Our Brocon Heroine’s transformation from unstoppable emotionless technically-alive Chosen Hero to slow-living fan-service object, with a side-order of Tisse-service; Red and Rit are barely in it.

This season is definitely all about the girls, with Our Devoted Waifu getting more bouncing in the brief goblin fight than all four Pon-pon girls got in an entire episode. And the camera enjoys panning up and down the girls, and framing conversations with sideboob. I suppose if they’re going to hose the story again, they should at least make it easy on the eyes.

Verdict: cheesecake sampler.

(Leafa-chan would fit right in, although she’d probably have to fight the busty elf druid; preferably in a bath scene)

Okay, now there's something on


Finally!

Frieren, episode 17

Yeah, right there with you, Sein. New OP song isn’t as off-genre as the previous one, but still doesn’t grab me. ED song is just new lyrics for the previous song.

Verdict: mildly worried about massive cast expansion next week, but they’ve earned my trust.

Solo Leveling, episode 1

Welcome to The Tutorial. We’ll be providing flashbacks, exposition, and cameos of characters you’ll learn to care about later, as well as a chance to see the consequences of poor decision-making in a dungeon.

On the bright side, despite the trailers and previews, the original Korean character names are used, which leaves me wondering if they’re producing two versions of the Japanese audio, with some lines re-recorded for the international audience. If so, I imagine they picked the Japanese names to match the lip flaps.

Verdict: showing several side characters early is a good choice, despite how random those scenes will look to people who haven’t read the source material.

(okay, I’m really just here for Esil; if they get that far…)

The Apothecary Diaries, episode 13

There are significant tone shifts in the new OP and ED, but the show itself is picking up right where it left off, with Jinshi and Maomao seeing each other a little differently.

Verdict: yes please.

Watching Paint Dry In Another World

(officially, Sasaki & Peeps)

They made a double-length episode that delivers an entire novel’s worth of exposition. One would hope this is so that every future episode can consist exclusively of magic, action, and cute psychic girls doing cute psychic things, but I kind of doubt it.

Verdict: he’s a magical girl and a crossworld trader and a newly-minted secret agent. And probably other things that I’m unlikely to stay awake long enough to find out.

Pon Pon-pon-pon Pon-pon Pon-pon

[not to be confused with Pon-pon-pon Pon-pon-pon-pon Pon-pon]

(officially, Pon no Michi; no one’s licensed this one)

The only active torrent seems to have multi-language machine-translated subs, which offends the folks on Reddit who know something about mahjong.

The “This Is Comedy!” background music is mixed way too loud, the exterior background art is obviously just a bunch of traced photos, and the character art is only occasionally attractive, and not terribly fan-serviceable. Except in the OP/ED animations and the trailers, which apparently used up all the money.

The girls are slightly more animated than cardboard cutouts, but their giant breasts are firmly glued in place. I might have seen one blink-and-you’ll-miss-it bounce on Girl#4 as she got excited about the chance to join the cast; the rest of the breast physics are restricted to the OP/ED.

The less said about the “humorous” deformed faces and inside-baseball reference jokes, the better. And of course there’s mahjong exposition. I’m sure there will be a lot more, especially with a magical talking bird hanging around, with a very familiar voice.

Speaking of voices, I did not recognize Our Loud Speed-Reading Heroine as Miss Kuroitsu. Then again, I didn’t recognize her as Magia Magenta from Gushing, either.

(unrelated gaming girl is not this stacked in-game)

Note on Molesting Magical Girls

Apparently, Our Sadistic Heroine and Her Magical Playthings are officially middle-school girls. Which will come as a real shock to anyone who actually looks at them. I mean, the last time I saw a fourteen-year-old girl who was that stacked, her name was Sakura Ando [1, 2] (Ai Shinozaki was doing busty bikini work at 14, but she still had a lot of baby fat in her face, which made her look her age; Saaya Irie was of course famous for having huge boobs at 11, but it took years for the rest of her figure to catch up; Erika Yazawa’s boobs made a good living, but she was at least 15 when she bounced into Idoling!!!).

Meanwhile, the season-preview thread on the ANN forums is full of people throwing around the word “pedophilia”, with no grasp of the meaning of the word (hint: an actual pedophile would be repulsed by the sight of a teenager with the body of a Penthouse model).

One correction: I initially described the junior member of the bad-girl team as A, based on her brief appearance in the credits. Looking ahead, she’s an actual little girl who looks her age, but she doesn’t seem to get lewded. The other girls lewd overtime to make up for that.

(speaking of words that don’t mean what someone thinks they mean…)

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