The Roundup: Spring 2014 Volume 2

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In this week’s episode…

Lifesong and Marlin both refuse to drop anything as we unleash our full slate of shows. A certain table tennis anime continues to ping our pong (I don’t know what that means but it sounds disgusting), Nananananana’s Buried Treasure goes for the shotgun blast of anime girl fetishes, and if you look closely you just might find a Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure joke.

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Nanana’s Buried Treasure Episode 2

Thursday 1:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll
Watching: Jel, IroLifesong, Marlin, Aquagaze

Jel“Daruku is not a boy, he’s a trap” is exactly the kind of dumb, genre-aware wink to the camera I was hoping to avoid in this particular series. Needless to say, I was pretty disappointed in the first 18 minutes of the episode as our new super moe cast members get their lengthy introduction. I was won over by the magic puzzle trap though, not so much because the riddle itself was cool but because it holds out promise for more elaborate adventures in the future. I’m also intrigued by the idea of Nanana’s treasures granting super powers of some kind, so I’d say this episode ended up being a net positive.

Aquagaze: As with last week, Nanana’s Buried Treasure remains a well made and deeply entertaining piece of shit. Stock characters and pervert jokes have to share the same room with enjoyable gags and a surprisingly diverting riddle sequence at the end. Nanana‘s unwavering dedication to its light novel roots and blissful unawareness of its own stupidity continue to drag it down, which is — all things considered — a pity. Anime could use more swashbuckling treasure hunting and less “Hahaha, the sexy maid is actually a boy so you are totally gay! Hilarious! Penis!”

Marlin: This week’s Nanana is five seconds of fun adventure material wrapped up in a whole lot of garbage. For the second time this week, we’re made to suffer another Kana Hanazawa trap, a kind of characters I’m just tired of seeing. They are drawn like women, voiced by women and their only male characteristic is on the faith of the plot — it’s absolutely ridiculous.

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Ping Pong the Animation Episode 2

Thursday 12:50 pm EST on Funimation
Watching: Marlin, Aquagaze, Gee

Gee: Ping Pong keeps up the excellent art direction — though this one is not nearly as dynamic as the debut episode — while keeping things exciting for fans of sports anime. Smile’s ping pong coach’s excited interest in developing Smile as a player was funny to watch, yet at the same time inspiring in his sheer passion. Though he loses his wager with Smile, his constant goading does manage to get something of a rise out of Smile, which was gratifying in its own way. Smile’s decision to abandon the idea of the hero, instead becoming the machine, was a really interesting shift in tone, and I could see him going places with this. He was never going to become a super hot-blooded sports protagonist, but a heartless ping pong playing machine? Now that could become interesting very quickly.

Aquagaze: Ping Pong continues strong, with some much needed fleshing out of our main characters to complement its astonishing visual suave. Smile is the apathetic anime protagonist done right, a guy with actual depth and reasons for keeping to himself — a far cry from the cookie-cutter everymen usually boring us to death. As someone who usually runs for the nearest pillow fort at the slightest mention of professional sports, the conflict of ideals between Smile and his coach could appeal even to me. It’s a bit meatier than Free!‘s similar, central conflict of ambition versus fun, and a strong indication that Ping Pong could indeed have more to offer than just pretty visuals.

Marlin: I’ll admit I’m not a huge sports guy, but it’s hard not to see the strengths of Ping Pong in the execution of this second episode. The rough, one might say ugly, art style is something I’ve really grown to enjoy. It sets Ping Pong apart and does a good job of representing these characters as real people instead of typical anime bishies. There’s a lot of growth in seeing Smile realize that his true strength is in technical skill, not any hot blooded passion.

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Nanana’s Buried Treasure

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selector infected WIXOSS Episode 3

Thursday 2:50 pm EST on Funimation
Watching: Lifesong, Marlin

Lifesong: This slowly unfolding card game is quickly losing steam. The dark promises of WIXOSS’ first episode are threatening to be forgotten in favor of a story about building friendships through a card game. I’m not sure if that fits the series well or not. Certainly, both aspects have been a part of WIXOSS from the start, but I wonder where it is headed. I could still see it being the darker fare I first expected, but maybe it will just be a heartwarming tale of girls making wishes and dealing with life? I’m not even sure which of those I want to see.

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Date A Live Season 2 Episode 1

Friday 2:05 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: What is a guy to do when two spirits are locked in a battle of elimination in hopes of becoming the one personality for their spirit? Let both of them hang all over him until he can decide which one is more attractive, of course! The important and seriousness of these implications keep me loving the show week after week. How did I live without this silliness? I am not even sure.
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The Devil’s Riddle

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Riddle Story of Devil The Devil’s Riddle Episode 3

Friday 2:55 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Jel, Lifesong, Marlin, Gee

Jel: For something that started out so dark and tense, I’m shocked that I’m now wondering if anyone is even going to die in this show. Between the formal invitations declaring I AM GOING TO KILL YOU NOW to Haru’s talk of saving herself with friendship, I’m starting have my doubts. I’m cool with the science defying fight scenes though, and I’m assuming the fight with psycho killer girl was just a warm up to show how this series is going to work. It was a straightforward fight against a clearly evil opponent, which makes me think the other assassins will have more complicated motivations moving forward. I’d say my expectations for The Devil’s Riddle have dropped from intense psychological thriller to pulp fighting school girl action, but I’m still enjoying it regardless.

Gee: Gonna be honest, I’m kinda getting tired of The Devil’s Riddle’s antics. Haru proves to be quite possibly one of the dumbest anime characters I’ve seen in a while. To be fair, this doesn’t surprise me that much, considering she’s done nothing but be a helpless idiot for the past few episodes anyway, so her being ridiculously naive isn’t a huge issue. On the other hand, Tokaku’s hilarious ineptitude at protecting Haru is pretty egregious. I mean, come on, you’re a trained assassin, you didn’t take into account that the other assassins might be trying to play you like a fiddle? Throw in some magic bullet deflecting handsaws, stupidly unnecessary anime high school antics, and a persistent lack of interesting characters, and my patience for the show is quickly disappearing. One can only hope the entire display of comedic ineptitude this week will serve as a strong lesson for Tokaku to step her game up.

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Mekaku City Actors Episode 2

Saturday 1:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze

Aquagaze: There’s no denying Shaft’s visual prowess, though their refusal to in any way change or adapt their style to the story they are working with has made the studio into a parody of itself at this point. As with last week’s pilot, the second episode of Mekakucity Actors is smothered in meandering babble and an overdose of extravagant imagery. Yet at the very least, this episode had some semblance of a standalone plot, and a main character with a shallow puddle optimists could describe as depth. Momo’s antics at least made me care about her, and complemented with some creative symbolism that could actually live in the same room as sense, this episode did bring me closer to understanding why this show is so popular. Maybe Mekakucity Actors will pick up once anime Nick Fury gathers all these insufferably garrulous Bakemonogatari rejects to form the titular team and the plot actually goes somewhere, but until then — to quote the Bard himself — it’s a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
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The World Is Still Beautiful

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The Irregular at Magic High School Episode 3

Saturday 2:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: The plot thickens and we are given some answers about the magical system Mahouka‘s world uses. I am not going to lie, I spent the infodump nerding out about how cool some of the implications might be. I love the way the protagonist is able to throw himself around like it’s no big deal. Sure, he is the super powerful protagonist that LN detractors love to hate, but what can I say? I want to see how he is going to kick ass. His sister upped the creepy factor a bit, though. I wonder if our protagonist is even human. He wastes no time getting into another fight on the campus. I hope we will get to see a more serious situation crop up soon. One that might force him to reveal some of the secrets he is hiding and maybe give some hints about the rest of the “weeds” as well.
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The World Is Still Beautiful Episode 3

Saturday 3:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Iro, Marlin

Marlin: The World Is Still Beautiful is actually turning into a cute fantasy romance, the only hitch being the bizarre decision to make the Sun King look twelve years old. Looking into the wiki page, he is apparently fifteen, but the fact that our heroine keeps calling him a kid is not making it any easier to swallow. Still, as the shoujo sucker I am, I’ll still watch a few more episodes.
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Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time

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Brynhildr In the Darkness Episode 3

Sunday 10:00 am EST on Crunchyroll
Watching: Lifesong, Marlin

Lifesong: Shit finally hit the fan in this episode! I am glad I stuck with Brynhildr, because when all is said in done, it managed to get me up and out of my seat in anticipation and didn’t let me down in the least when the fight started up. The show is still kind of a mess, though. The animation is sloppy and pacing feels stretched in its animated form. I find that the issues are not going away, but I am becoming more and more accepting of them. I like the way this story is developing and the anime just isn’t terrible enough to keep me from getting excited about it.

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Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time Episode 15

Sunday 6:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll
Watching: Jel, Lifesong, Marlin

Jel: Somehow Seki-kun managed to get more mileage out of the shogi board this episode. It was adorable to see Yokoi get really involved in breaking up Seki-kun’s sadism but I’m really disappointed we didn’t get to see the aftermath of her skirt getting pinned by his chair. That would have set off a couple more rumors for sure — maybe even make poor Goto-san’s head explode. Not the best episode but still quite entertaining, Seki-kun is still my favorite thing currently going on.

Marlin: There isn’t a whole lot to say about this week’s episode. Seki being mean to shogi pieces has reached its third iteration, and while the concept is old, the execution is still fresh. Rumi has made an impact in his habits more and more as the series goes on, I wonder how long it will be until she starts to be included instead of just being an incidental participant.

WRYYYYY!!

No Game, No Life

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Black Bullet Episode 2 & 3

Tuesday 12:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll
Watching: Lifesong, Marlin

Marlin: Leaps and bounds ahead of episode 1, these two episodes shape Black Bullet‘s world and give some much needed meat to the story. It was like night and day going from the horrible lolicon pandering mess of a first episode to these heartfelt, character driven follow-ups. We get a real good reason to care about Enju, and the relationship between her and Rentaro is firmly established in the proper ways. Black Bullet is a prime example of the 3 episode rule in effect.
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No Game No Life Episode 2

Wednesday 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll
Watching: Lifesong, Marlin

Marlin: No Game, No Life remains weirdly enjoyable. While the characters are still pretty unrelatable, there’s a bit of fun watching them outclass the competition. The separation anxiety thing is totally ridiculous, but also a bit funny. The two are just weird in so many ways that it works. The new girl also brought a bit of comedy, what with her shoujo lens, and brings a bit of a human touch to these otherworldly siblings.
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Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky

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Chaika –The Coffin Princess– Episode 2

Wednesday 2:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll
Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Even the family of an evil dictator can grieve. Chaika and the dynamics between herself and her newly hired bodyguards have sold me on this series. I have a soft spot for characters who do what they think is right, even when it is at compete odds with the world and the world’s sense of justice. That is exactly what this episode delivered. Bones also spared no expense with the fight on the bridge. It was easily the most well animated fight I’ve seen since Sword Art Online. I hope they can keep that level of production up as the show progresses. It is not something I expect from Bones, but it would be a wonderful surprise if we got it.
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If Her Flag Breaks

Wednesday 3:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll
Watching: Lifesong, Marlin

Marlin: Flag continues to prove itself to be a competent, if unambitious comedy. It introduces far too many characters for its own good, but at least they have funny and unique quirks. The big sister steals the show, illustrating another way that flags can become unstoppable. My favorite part was, when she realized her little brother was so chummy with the lead girls, she was totally cool with it. We also get a bit of the other Kana Hanazawa trap, but at least this one tries to assert its manliness, even if everything else still conspires against the idea. There’s still a lot of strangely dramatic mystery regarding his abilities, but NouCome and Henneko have proven you can have an enjoyable comedy even with weird supernatural elements.
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Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky Episode 2

Currently Unlicensed
Watching: Iro, Timmy

Timmy: So far Atelier has remained pretty cute and entertaining. This week, our heroes go on a quest to find a final ingredient for a water purifying recipe. There are fewer cute moments between the two that I loved last week but it was still a fun episode, and the newly introduced not so secretive witch and her companion added some interest. As I expected, nothing really dramatic happened and it will be interesting to see if the show remains that way or not, since the next episode preview promises a fight of some sort. Either way I am enjoying myself and plan to stay for the entire run unless something drastically terrible and stupid happens.

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