For the third season in a row, I was attracted enough by the first descriptions of and reports on several new anime series being streamed on official services I already have subscriptions for to watch "with everyone else." By now, though, with that good fortune a little more familiar I was conscious first that all of the series I'd settled on had the leg up of connections to existing franchises (a little too resonant of certain rhetoric weighing on merely "domestic" productions these days) and second that this message board has slowed down a great deal these days, with two or at the most three people commenting on new episodes (of the series I was watching, anyway). Presumably, seeing positive reactions from other people is a major point of watching things one episode a week.

So far as doing things a different way went, I did open up two series from among the many I have waiting on disc to be watched with the sometimes satisfactions of "at my own pace, and knowing my reactions are more my own." V Gundam, though, was perhaps most of all getting something out of the way. I knew this entry in the Gundam franchise was set well into the second "Universal Century," the original timeline of the multi-threaded franchise; I also knew its story wasn't followed by any more animation (except for the computer animation of a live-action "TV movie" now itself almost lost in time) and its production had been followed by the first of the "alternative universe Gundams." In some ways, though, these days it almost seems to have avoided the burdens of both condemnation and praise. Starting off, I did know its first episode on disc had been moved forward to put its titular "Mobile Suit" (made by docking three small fighter-like craft together; the protagonists seem to have an inexhaustible supply of arm units and leg units, at least a change from accusations of "plot armour") on screen right away. With that in mind, I was ready to wait for the now-flashback episodes to provide the explanation of just who everyone was and just what their motivations were. When those episodes also seemed a bit light on both character development and world-building, though, I did start thinking "a tiny group of irregulars with a vague connection to the ostensible authority that fecklessly let another thoroughly nasty antagonist rise, and the lead female character doesn't want to leave her middle-of-nowhere home because her family might be back at any moment? Doesn't that sound familiar?" For a few episodes approaching the fifth-of-the-way-through mark, I did toy with the thought of dropping the series altogether as not leading to anything else and moving on. Just in the nick of time, though, the characters got out into space to provide an impression of momentum, and then I did seem willing to just take in the action one episode at a time to the halfway point. It at least didn't seem as consistently frustrating to me as Zeta Gundam, although with what I have heard I am a bit conscious about the way its female characters are presented: at the beginning of a the series, a female pilot amounted to the oft-injured delivery driver for the young male protagonist, an all-women squad was introduced to be killed off one at a time with the protagonist feeling emotionally traumatized each time, and a young female acquaintance in some ill-established way of the protagonist just happened to be caught up into the enemy camp and is now a radicalized pilot. I suppose too it's just possible that with the world-building feeling so lightly sketched in the series itself, it's tempting for me to suppose it "an unacknowledged alternative universe." That could have something to do with having suddenly wanted to suppose Gundam Unicorn really did offer the potential for resolution even to "a story that'll keep being extended so long as it keeps selling," which does, however, leave me wondering about the next promised premium-format OVA series, which is supposed to take just place after Unicorn.

So far as more fully appealing series went, I'd wound up captivated by Chihayafuru, a "card game series" about a different kind of card game, and knew it had a followup series approaching release over here. When I had the chance to see those new episodes, they began with the high school karuta team trying to recruit new members (although not as many as I'd thought they absolutely had to) and starting the round of competitions again. Aware, however, of how the series can be compared to "sports anime" featuring more familiar pastimes, I did wonder about this "second year of a three-year high school" having to leave actual fulfilment for the original manga (which is being translated and released digitally, although I don't know if our editions have got past where the anime leaves off yet). In the end, though, there were some surprises, and I've even heard reports of another anime series in production. I also managed to sort out a few more nuances of karuta matches, even if the sense of unfamiliarity was still a strange part of the appeal.

While I continued working my way through the now-comfortable familiarity of the vintage second Lupin the Third series, an all-new Lupin series started up in close succession to a recent revival I'd also watched. It kept the titular superthief in the blue jacket from just before, although the first comments from other people I did see included criticism that the character designs had been simplified a bit. The action itself seemed reasonable, though, including some cliffhanger-interrupted story arcs seemingly unusual for what I've seen of the franchise so far. In between those arcs, there was a different-feeling episode with Lupin in a pink jacket, which brought to mind hearing of a previous series that doesn't seem that popular in retrospect, and then another standalone outing with Lupin in the red jacket of the second series. It does seem this new series will be continuing into next season.

I finished off the Space Battleship Yamato 2199 revival with satisfaction, and then there was a surprise. While I knew the revival had been followed by a new version of the second original Yamato series, knowing that new series was still in production in Japan had me thinking it would be a while before we'd be able to see it over here. Instead, Yamato 2202 began streaming in rapid succession; I can only wonder now if the at first seemingly oddly timed "mid-season" appearance of the first revival streaming had been planned from the beginning to let everything work out in the end or if we're going to be left waiting on some late cliffhanger. While I'd seen the second original series "fansubbed" years ago, I hadn't gone to the lengths of seeking out the new episodes of its revival, so it's all new to me and interesting in much the same polished way as the first revival, even if there can seem certain ambiguities both to the previous antagonists not having been killed off altogether such that Earth is now cooperating with those who, under previous management, dominated multiple worlds and were ready to obliterate from space any potential resistance and to some of the female crew members not getting on board the new voyage and those who did wearing not just curve-hugging jumpsuits but jumpsuits now coloured to look "shiny."

A different space opera revival was just a little harder to get into. I almost left off Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These after its first few episodes, ready to suppose that while it wasn't to be rejected out of hand I might as well stick with the translated novels and memories of the lengthy first anime adaptation; only an unexpected "recap" episode in a different series at a particular moment I only had access to streaming series had me catch up and resolve to keep watching. The series didn't get far into the story (and along the way, it sputtered to the point of needing a recap episode itself), leaving off on a cliffhanger and the promise of several theatrical features presumably offering a safer return on their investment if still not a complete adaptation. Still, I did get to thinking that, for all the "great man of history" musings in the story (which sometimes only get me wondering about what happens when too many other people jump to conclusions that way about someone), these episodes might be taken as suggesting Reinhard von Lohengramm only had his chance to seem overpowering because "ordinary" people had made significant mistakes to begin with.

I kept watching the second half of DARLING in the FRANXX, but was all too aware that outside the sleepy confines of the message board I follow it had turned controversial to the point of feeling a punching bag. There, though, I fear a familiar personal pattern of "wanting to like new mecha series even as I suppose everyone else is rejecting them out of hand" was starting to merge with wondering whether "established romances" worked into series where they're not the sole point can bring out my gooey, sentimental side yet are also "always" rejected by "everyone else" as obviously inferior to the "they're obvious but just can't be made explicit" flights of "shipping" and "slashing." In any case, the series threw in not just one but two "recaps," which means I'm still wondering what even my personal reaction will be in the end; I at least got to wondering if some of the late plot swerves amounted to "giving people something else to argue about than gender relation issues." In not watching the recaps but knowing they included live-action interviews, though, I did have to face the question of whether, for all that I have the understanding "manga and anime character designs" should be accepted as "their Japanese creators and audiences naturally see themselves in them" and not be taken as "they somehow want to look like the Caucasian people making assumptions those designs look like them," that understanding's still somehow "abstract" and unconfronted for me.

The Full Metal Panic anime series were adapted from "light novels," and for years after the last one there did seem a steady undercurrent of wishing more of the story would be adapted. Then, one day there was an announcement unexpected after so long. The problem people seemed readiest to proclaim having with the upcoming Full Metal Panic Invisible Victory was that it would no longer be produced by Kyoto Animation, and after so many years the mecha action that's been part of the story if not to the extent of most other "mecha anime" was now using computer animation, a familiar strike against for many. I suppose that in having spent so long getting around to the first three series (although I don't think I'd heard about the new one when I opened the very first), I might not have had the same weight of "well-past experiences" that may trip up a lot of people with "revivals." In any case, the action picked up fast, with the major antagonist introduced at the end of the last series proclaiming to the protagonist he just happens to have a connection to the bad guys weren't going to play nice any more. It might even have been for me that in the response to that, the mecha action started feeling a bit more central to the series, even if exciting moments and events familiar in an unfortunately controversial way mixed together. The bigger problem, perhaps, was that each plot arc trailed off into a recap episode, such that the series is also not quite finished yet. I don't know just what larger implications if any there are to three different anime series in the same season being hit with recap episodes, although at least a few people let their concerns run away with them.

Perhaps I want to like new mecha series more than others seem to because there aren't a lot of them these days; this season, though, there did happen to be three of them even with two of them having franchise connections. After two Gundam Build Fighters series and their peculiar, lighthearted, and yet personally satisfying takes on the franchise's action and merchandising, Gundam Build Divers stretched the concept a bit further. Now, the protagonists were playing an online computer game they were also loading their "Mobile Suit" model kits into. (Along the way, there are explanations that this is a new development in the story world itself, but the previous model battles don't quite use the iconography established from Build Fighters.) Plenty of background characters wore a mix of uniforms recognizable from past Gundam series, but the "in-game" forms of the main characters tended towards "generic space fantasy" to out-and-out fantasy (depending on your opinions towards anthropomorphic animals). That added to a first feeling of amusing eccentricity; as the series developed, though, there did get to be a more consequential and compelling situation set up than just "the main characters romp through a tournament ultimately overpowering every opponent," something that might have attracted detractors to the second Build Fighters series. I did notice, though, that there was a resolution to the crisis at the midpoint of the series; it might yet get around to that conventional tournament structure again.

I did get to wondering if I was enjoying Cardcaptor Sakura Clear Card a bit more than some other people seemed to; the best explanation I could hit on was, as I've said before, that I'd been somehow just a little reluctant to accept the youthful charms of the original series because I'd thought its grade school characters were already living unplayful, responsible lives. For some reason, just saying they were now at the beginning of junior high seemed to make a difference there. In the second half of the series, a character added to the original anime visited for several episodes, and I definitely enjoyed that remembering impressions she was the one somewhat abrasive personality in the whole series. However, in having been adapted from a new and ongoing manga this series left off with potential suggested but undeveloped; all I can do now is hope there'll be a followup.