It’s been a long time since the last Log Horizon series came out. That series ended with several mysteries still in play, and several new plot hooks set up, like Krusty having been teleported to the Chinese server, and the introduction of Geniuses – more powerful monsters with their own weird, metagame logic sent by whoever on the moon server had brought them to this world in the first place. This season doesn’t resolve those issues particularly, but it does push some plot developments forward in that regard, particularly related to the characters’ plot development.

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It’s been a long time since Mamoru Oshii did any anime, with the short film Je T’aime from 2010. It’s been even longer since he did comedy, with the last clear-cut comedy he did having been several episodes of Patlabor: The Mobile Police New Files in 1990. Over a decade since the last time he did anime, and over 30 years since he’s done comedy anime. There are fans who have only know his creative output as not only a director of serious anime, but a director of deadly serious anime. So, it was a surprise this past year to see Oshii returning not only to anime, but to comedy anime, and as a series instead of a short or a film, with Vlad Love.

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Inuyasha was a show based on Rumiko Takahashi’s works that I fell off of back in the day before it completed. A combination of heavy filler on a more conventional shonen action series, combined with the show’s very long length made it tricky for me to keep up with the show. When I learned that there was a sequel series due to come out, that was an anime original show, and was following the daughters of the first series protagonists, I was intrigued, and decided to try to keep up with the show this time. That show was Yashahime.

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Studio Trigger’s more recent fare is interesting from a critical standpoint because it’s very clear that they are a studio that does not shy away from being political and generally attempting to be progressive. They’re also a studio who, rather than directly addressing Japanese politics, tends to address their narratives through the lens of American politics, often through the X-Men books, which means that due to their distance from American politics, they can stumble into some rakes that are otherwise avoidable, and BNA: Brave New Animal is a great example of this.

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The Akudama of Akudama Drive; Clockwise from Top: Doctor, Courier, Brawler, Cutthroat, Hacker, Hoodlum. Not pictured: Ordinary Person/Swindler

We occasionally get new Cyberpunk anime every now and then, though usually, the protagonists of those series have some degree of… license by the establishment. The Major in Ghost in the Shell is a government agent. So are the protagonists of Cyber City Oedo 808. The Knight Sabers from Bubblegum Crisis are superhero mercenaries who contract with the government. Rare are the cyberpunk anime that have protagonists who work for hire, not only outside the law but in violation of the law. Akudama Drive is one of the series that fits that theme, and utterly nails the concept.

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Yuna, the protagonist of Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear

I’ve generally avoided a lot of the more OP Isekai Anime series – no wish fulfillment shows with characters that have a superpowered cheat ability getting ported into a fantasy world modeled on a MMORPG in my watched list. Oh, there are Isekai shows on there, and even ones with people who have abilities that are somewhat overpowered (Log Horizon comes to mind). However, all of those are ones that are cases where an existing power from the game’s world is applied differently. Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear is the first show with this concept that I’ve ended up watching, and it’s probably the best place to jump in on this idea.

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Iwa-kakeru kind of got a bad break. This year was the year where we were supposed to get the Tokyo Summer Olympics and with it, as one of the new events, Bouldering – or Sport Climbing. So, Iwa-kakeru would have been placed to perfectly strike when the iron was hot, adapting a manga about this brand new Olympic sport, to rise off of the heat of that Olympic fever. And then COVID-19 happened and the Summer Olympics were pushed back at least one year. So, the question becomes whether Iwa-kakeru can hold up without that boost of Olympic excitement.

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I’ve reviewed most of the anime adaptations of Hayate: The Combat Butler, and reviewed much of the manga that’s been officially released in English to date (in spite of the official US release being several years behind the Japanese release – which has since ended). When I learned that author Kenjiro Hata’s latest manga, Tonikawa, was getting an anime adaptation, that show quickly ended up on the list of shows on my watchlist for that season, and I was not disappointed.

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I’ve talked a bunch on this blog about my having Autism, and how my Autism informs media I consume. Well, one of the things that my Autism does when it comes to shaping what I do with my personal time is it makes me something of a homebody. I generally need to get a push to go out to do some activities. It doesn’t have to be a hard push, but that push has to be there. This lead to me resonating a lot with Uzaki-Chan Wants To Hang Out, one of the slice of life rom-com anime from the Fall 2020 season.

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I generally end up watching about one fanservice show a season, and for Summer 2020, that show for me was Super HxEros (yes, there’s fanservice in Uzaki-Chan, which I’ll be reviewing later, but that’s not the focus of the show). The show promised a pastiche of the Super Sentai franchise, with a side of risque sensibilities. Ultimately, I’d say the show started out promising, but by the end of the series, I think its thirst overwhelmed its good taste.

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At the start of this year, I reviewed the first season of No Guns Life, an hard boiled cyberpunk detective anime that brings the more noir elements of the cyberpunk genre to the fore, while still retaining some shonen action. The first season put a lot of focus on Juzo, the protagonist, working on a variety of cases that built out the world of the setting, but not necessarily the backstory. Season 2 instead shifts the focus back to Juzo, along with some of the supporting cast and their connections to him.

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Millionaire Detective: Balance Unlimited is the anime series about a co-protagonist who buy anything except a break for their show. It’s a show that came out the year that officers from Minneapolis Police Department murdered George Floyd, leading to a new wave of Black Lives Matter protests that not only spanned not just the United States, but Japan as well. It’s a show that got postponed for a cour due to production difficulties from COVID-19. Consequently, as a part of that, it’s a series that wrapped up its season just in time for the officers who murdered Breanna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky to not face charges for their actions. And it’s about a co-protagonist who uses their astronomical, Nagi Sanzenin levels of wealth to get away with breaking the law under the auspices of having a badge.

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I love anime that are somewhat educational about something. While Hajime No Ippo has a very over-the-top depiction of boxing, I felt like I came away from it with a better appreciation of the sport. Shirobako and Animation Runner Kuromi gave me a better appreciation of what goes into anime (though again, both works are romanticized), and so on. So, this past season, I decided to give the anime series Diary of Our Days at the Breakwater a shot for a similar reason, and I’m very glad I did.

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This past season of anime started with me having about 6-7 different series I was planning to watch… and then COVID-19 hit and with postponements, that number dropped down to two. One of those was Fruits Basket Season 2, which is still ongoing, but the other was a new Isekai series based on a Light Novel, and one with a premise that really caught my interest – My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (or HameFura for short).

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Azur Lane is, basically, Ship Girl Tohou. World War II Warships from various navies are personified as cute girls, and they generally hang out at the bases of their respective factions and do cute things until the plot decides that they have to do combat in battles along the lines of shoot-em-up video games. It’s not quite at a danmaku level – but only because the game series is designed to be played on a cell phone, and you don’t have that level of control with a touchscreen.

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