After months of waiting, that much less plugged into the anime-watching habits of others than I’d once been, my cautious patience was paying off. Series that had caught my eye but which, after the unfortunate hiatuses of the spring season, I’d awaited the completion of were now available in full to be viewed streaming. Production did seem to have run better over the summer; I suppose I’ve got to admit to my hesitation starting to include some unfortunate “you’ll be sorry too; just wait” feelings. Even so, I’d picked up interest in enough complete series I wound up “watching one episode a week” of them as if they were still streaming, and had to hold one title that had also got my attention back for later (which might be a good thing, given the series actually streaming over these past three months didn’t seem quite as engaging).

City Hunter didn’t wear out its welcome in its second half. A few “recurring guest characters” got established in the adventures of Ryo Saeba, forever battling Japanese mobsters and trying without success to have his bizarre enthusiasm for attractive female clients pay off, and I kept managing to deal with the gags about his assistant Kaori looking boyish enough to avoid that attention in general among other difficulties. I am aware there were several follow-up series and movies, though, which leaves me wondering what’ll happen should I move on to them. While I did have occasional thoughts about City Hunter being “more in the real world than the action-type anime I think of having been produced just preceding it,” I could also consider the “late bubble years” Japan presented in it, filled with fancy restaurant meals and expensive imported cars (even as Ryo tools around in a Mini), to now feel somewhat exotic itself.

To fill in a title from a more recent decade, I worked my way through the second half of Sakura Quest. The main characters of the series did seem to shift focus from drawing in tourists to the small town they lived in to building up town spirit among the other assorted characters (many surprisingly old for “anime characters”), and I’ll admit to contemplating coming from a small town myself, although my own current general circumstances are different. Things stayed quite pleasant throughout.

As for up-to-date series, one more “adaptation I’d thought would have to be followed up through its original material” had received a sudden continuation after several years. Having to admit the “My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong, as I Expected” novels can feel as much a slog to get through as a number of other translated prose series, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU Climax! did get my interest. There, though, I also have to admit that while this “one too-cool-for-high school guy gets to hang out with several attractive girls” story feels about as “realistic” as that kind of story might get while staying positive, I could wonder if something about its interpersonal machinations (as the characters try to put on a senior prom, presented as “unusual and perhaps even exotic”) was subtle enough to go over my head, if I was watching it in some significant part just because it was somehow “good for me,” and how “this sort of thing” might be ready enough to hand through the domestic works and live-action adaptations I then have to admit to passing by. Still, it was a conclusion showing up with a number of other novels in the series still to be translated.

Another series now streaming was part of its own long-running franchise, but a franchise I hadn’t been able to see until now. I’d known about the Pretty Cure magical girl shows, but I understand that while the very first of them has been available for official streaming for some time I never quite got around to it. Later series have been “fansubbed,” but there I have to admit “trying to play by the rules” hadn’t been the sole factor in my not having seen them either. When Healin’ Good Pretty Cure started streaming as a complete surprise partway through its run, though, once its first episodes were available I supposed I ought to do my part for the viewing numbers. While I was ready to suppose the show aimed at a demographic I’m very much not part of (imagining its trio of junior high girls “aspirational figures” for the target audience and noting the role-play merchandise shown off in each episode, with something of a medical air to it even if the Pretty Cure magical girls seem more resolving environmental problems in the first episodes), when considering the kind of recent magical girl series I’d been more familiar with of late, something did seem satisfying about a show where “taking up the chance to do good” isn’t brushed off as “being suckered into the gears of some diabolical machine, fooled by stories someone else told you.”

While I was finding representative titles from previous decades to watch (which included wrapping up my return to the 1990s OVAs shown at the first anime club show I went to at university), for a little while I did wonder just what from the decade after the millennium has stuck with me. At the same time, though, at the beginning of October I was very much thinking I could do with watching something “relaxing,” and one gold standard for that has long been held up in the form of Aria the Animation. I’d chipped in for a Kickstarter to re-release the show on Blu-Ray with an English dub at last, just perhaps more for some private measure of satisfaction at “helping others out” than for either of those things already mentioned, and had had the deluxe boxed set waiting for a little while already. Opening it up, I returned to a clean-scrubbed replica Venice built on a thoroughly terraformed Mars, with a detectable dose of Japanese culture mixed in (raising some just perhaps dangerously self-satisfied thoughts about “extra reassurance for the home audience”), a dash of “sufficiently advanced technology [...] indistinguishable from magic,” and a stronger amount of out-and-out-magic. With all of that, though, I did get to contemplating small hints in the show of distant problems no longer applying for the characters, raising reminders of the most positive comments about “Star Trek’s better world” itself. It also happened I wasn’t altogether desperate for “something relaxing” throughout these three months.

One of the series I watched streaming was the second plot arc of A Certain Scientific Railgun T. Unlike the two previous instalments of the show, this back half wasn’t “anime original” episodes (which a certain number of other viewers have been prone to brush off over the years) but a further adaptation of the manga. I could remember some of the plot as the characters got involved with special cards that could play back the dreams of others, but not all. When the story built to action that seemed impressive, but I do have to admit to noticing allusions to other stories in the “A Certain Magical Index” franchise that would explain where characters came from or disappeared to, and remembering old comments of the franchise being “almost like a superhero universe” reminded me of unfortunate older impressions that if you hadn’t already read every single comic book previously published by any particular company you might as well not bother starting.

It hadn’t been quite so long a wait for Gundam Build Fighters Re:Rise to be complete, but as it turned out I returned to its second part a full year after beginning the first, having spent nine months in between watching “alternative universe Gundams” from the 1990s but ready all the same for something different again. Fortunately, it wasn’t that hard to catch up with the show’s quartet of misfit mecha model builders and the anthropomorphic animals they’d been trying to protect in an elsewhere perhaps not quite connected to their online game. In gathering strength again there were some revelations about just where the lead character came from and what he’d been through, although this leading to the appearance of characters from the previous series in the subfranchise led to some glum thoughts about still not getting the indignation of others about that earlier show. I stayed ready to like what I was watching.

Although most of the series I was watching streaming were linked to established brand names I was already familiar with, I’d at least heard about and become interested in a show called Deca-Dence. In waiting for it to be complete, I did happen to notice a good many others making a big deal of a big revelation about the series’ world just two episodes in. Learning about this second-hand didn’t dismay me; however, I have to admit that, as ever, a handful of not quite specific negative reactions as the series concluded weighed heavier on me than any amount of earlier enthusiasm. Starting the series even so, I noted its first episode gave an air of resembling “Attack on Titan with higher technology and more safely monstrous opponents threatening a mobile fortress roving a post-apocalyptic world”; first hints of the paradigm shift to come were detectable even then, although as it turned out things weren’t quite what I’d imagined. I was able to stay interested in the series with no major last-second swing to dissatisfaction in my own case, although in considering interpretations along the lines of “a criticism of colonialism” I could wonder about the series patting its audience on the back by presenting “colonizers with a conscience and problems of their own” as plot drivers to the point of “the colonized” winding up not quite filled in on everything that was happening, even if this interpretation had “the protagonist” older than in a great many anime series.

A bit of extra viewing time opened up towards the end of the year. Searching for more things to watch, I did get to thinking that after having seen Hakujaden, it might be interesting to screen one of the newest anime movies I hadn’t yet viewed, and dug out Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms. It had been written by Mari Okada, who seems notable as an anime screenwriter even with occasional “it’s a matter of everyone else in this backwater being that much less skilled” brushoffs to be noticed. I also knew she’d directed the movie, which I have to admit raised a questioning thought or two. The movie itself is set in a fantasy world, with a small guild of exceptionally long lived, seemingly ageless blond weavers (they do have orangish eyes rather than, say, blue) broken up by a sudden assault from outside; a lone survivor named Maquia escapes, finds an orphaned baby, and starts trying to raise him by herself. I became willing to think animation was particularly well suited for a work spanning as much time as this story did, even if there were occasional moments where characters had to mention what had happened in the meantime for the sake of the audience; the action scenes were also perfectly acceptable.

I even had time to watch one more short series; after finding thin reasons to pass by two ready to mind “until later,” though, I dug a bit deeper and hit on Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue. A handful of halfway positive comments had led me to toss it into an order of discs, and now had me opening a story about a “fake sport” played with “flying shoes.” I did happen to have recollections of comments the game the series had been adapted from just happened to be “for adult players,” and while I hadn’t quite expected a few male characters to be mixed in with the assorted cute girls that gave me the strongest impression of how things would have worked out to begin with. However, the clean-scrubbed action of the anime itself wound up interesting enough to watch; I’d supposed from those remembered comments the series was a bit less focused on “a straight run from stumbling into ‘Flying Circus’ to total triumph” than it might have been, but it didn’t abandon competition halfway through.