The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 1

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In this week’s installment…

Our first batch of Summer shows hit The Roundup with several Slice of Life surprises and mecha cliché disappointments. Throw in some extreme(ly censored) violence and it’s going to be a fun summer!

The Roundup is a weekly guide to all the “other” shows we’re watching this season. Check out our full, weekly coverage of:

Hunter x Hunter – Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun – Sailor Moon Crystal – Space Dandy – Sword Art Online II – Terror in Resonance

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Glasslip
Episode 2

Thursdays 11:00 am EST on Crunchyroll Watching: Lifesong, Marlin

Lifesong: Supernatural happenings color this episode and give this anime that extra bit of something interested to hold my attention. There are so many ways that being able to see the future can go wrong for Touko as she tries to solve the relationship problems within her group of friends. I’m genuinely interested in seeing where this goes. I hope for a strong dose of tears angst and FRIENDSHIP. Glasslip has all the right pieces to make that happen.

Marlin: Not sure if I’m liking this supernatural bend. It is a bit interesting to see a show tackle the relationship aspects so quickly. I definitely prefer that to mulling over things for 10 episodes with only two to resolve the drama that unfolds afterwards. It’s a big reason why I loved Ano Natsu, the original Love Centipede™. I wish I could say I have the same faith about this show, but these characters are a bit denser than I’d like. With this episodes developments, the Love Centipede™ has officially been updated to a Relationship Squid™.

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Argevollen
Episode 2

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll
Watching: Gee

Gee: Argevollen did an amazing job of continuing its quest to carry out every possible mecha genre cliche. Tokimune continues to be the shittiest mecha pilot ever. On the bright side, I do appreciate that everyone is willing to call him out on his shit. Unfortunately, Argevollen falls into another cliche in the form of the super special prototype imprinting on its first pilot. Now I can understand why you’d want to ID tag your giant robots, but limiting that to a single person? What happens if he dies? Or defects? Do the people who design these stupid single-user robots even consider how dumb this is? Throw in the “Visualize” vs. “Envisioning” bullshit that Jamie reveals in the end that suddenly turns Tokimune into an amazing pilot, and it’s really pushing my tolerance.  At this point, only Argevollen’s military bent and excellent grunt mech design are keeping me in.
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Tokyo Ghoul
Episode 2

Thursdays 12:00 pm EST on Funimation (North America only)
Watching: Aquagaze, EuricaeriS

Aquagaze: In a wholly unintentional bout of irony, Tokyo Ghoul abandons the human element that made its first episode passable and cranks up the histrionics like the amps on a Spinal Tap gig. Behind the obtrusive curtain of censorship hides an actual action scene this time around, though I’m not entirely sure if a combination shounen and horror à la Deadman Wonderland is what I wanted. For claiming that show’s crown, Tokyo Ghoul at least has the hysterically clumsy ultraviolence down, yet the nagging feeling remains that somewhere in this chintzy cacophony still lies the the dramatically interesting idea of a group of people trying to live normal lives with no choice but to commit atrocities. Tokyo Ghoul, however, fails so spectacularly at living up to this premise that it almost deserves an award for turning from a fascinating drama into a hilarious comedy so gracelessly, but its credibility certainly vapourized when the villain of the week verbally announced his own demise, some intern at Pierrot accidentally spilled white spirit on the precious animation stills and the studio was too lazy to recolour them. I’m “dying” here too, Tokyo Ghoul.
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Tokyo Ghoul – Oh no! I can’t see where all that sea green paint is coming from!

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Locodol
Episode 2

Thursdays 3:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll Watching: Jel, Lifesong, Timmy

Jel: I spent the majority of this episode bored out of my mind but Locodol is so sweet and charming that I was kind of OK with that. Seeing the girls bond was cute but the emotional payoff at the end with the candy maker is the best kind of payoff you can get in a Slice of Life show. Nothing more adorable than happy old people! I would be remiss not to bring up Yukari’s similarities to Mugi from K-ON! again. She looks like her identical twin, she acts like a big sister serving cake and tea, she plays the keyboards, she’s super rich, she’s a little eccentric, vaguely lesbian… the list goes on and on. That’s certainly not a complaint but no one tell KyoAni, I’d hate to see Locodol get shut down for copyright infringement.
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Aldnoah.Zero
Episode 2

Saturdays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, EuricaeriS

Aquagaze: If Aldnoah.Zero ends up being about a bunch of teenagers touring the country in a van and trying to outrun an invasion by maniacal space fascists, count me in. Sadly enough, to get to this potentially appealing set-up, we need to get through a rather overwhelming load of melodrama first, with faceless C-listers getting killed left and right while the insufferably self-assured villains cackle about it like it’s the only thing they know how to do. It’s surprisingly lacking in any sort of weighty drama or political depth for a show of its calibre, something that isn’t helped by its protagonist having less emotional complexity than a firefly. Aldnoah.Zero continues to have some bright spots and interesting ideas, yet it will have to up the ante considerably if it ever wishes to rank alongside Puella Magi Madoka Magica or Fate/Zero.

Gee: Even compared to Argevollen, Aldnoah.Zero ended up also being quite a disappointment this week. It ends up committing so many cardinal sins of the mecha genre that it basically fulfills the remaining cliches that Argevollen forgot about. Between the ridiculously evil villains, the egregious technology gap that doesn’t even leave the possibility of resistance, and a protagonist that continues to be about as interesting as a cardboard cutout, Aldnoah.Zero might be on even thinner ice than Argevollen at this point. Apparently next week is the last Urobuchi-written episode, so we’ll see whether he can turn things around before the show is handed off to a writer with far less credentials.

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Rail Wars!
Episode 2

Saturdays 11:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll (North America only)
Watching: Lifesong, Timmy

Lifesong: Not going to lie, the first few minutes of this episode almost put me to sleep… Literally. That said, once the bomb plot got rolling things got interesting again. This week we learned that this railway is A OKAY at giving in to terrorists. That was kind of hard to take. Much harder to take is just how much of a psycho Aoi is. I liked the focus on trust, but holy shit she almost got Naoto killed. Then she has an emotional breakdown and collapses on top of him. Keep your head on straight Naoto, this girl is bad news. I also have a feeling that everything about bombs in this episode was completely and utter bullshit, but I honestly don’t know enough about bombs to back that up. A friend of my mine worked on this kind of thing in the military so I’ll have to ask him just how much nonsense was involved with this bomb. Best case scenario Aoi is insane and lucked out, worst case nothing about this bomb was even remotely feasible.
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Locodol – Sweeter than candy.

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Sabagebu!
Episode 2

Sundays 11:00 am on Crunchyroll
Watching: Jel, Lifesong, Gee, Timmy

Jel: I love that this show has no straight woman, comically speaking. OK, they’re all probably lesbians too but my main point is these girls are CRAZY. Momoka is the closest to “normal” I suppose but her stone cold disregard for human life is a delightful twist from the norm. I was cracking up when she gave poor Maya PTSD and later brutally murdered her club mates in the final spontaneous gun fight. Wow, that makes me sound like a horrible person, but it was really funny I swear!

Gee: Momoka’s cruel disregard for the well being of others was immensely satisfying. While I’m still wary of the amount of 4th wall jokes going on, Sabagebu continues to be a competent comedy. The spontaneous gunfight and Momoka’s utter pettiness in the face of her peers were particular highlights this week. Hopefully Sabagebu can replace its 4th wall leaning with genuine comedy like this in the future.

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Akame ga Kill!
Episode 2

Sundays 12:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Akame ga Kill said some magical things I was hoping to hear. This group of assassins is working toward bettering their country and replacing the current leadership, but they all acknowledge that nothing about their murder is justified. That was exactly what I needed to hear to know that this is a fantasy I can get into. I am loving the fights in this show. I’m not sure if it’s accurate to really call them fights so much as brutal take downs, but they are well animated and now that I know this show isn’t trying to justify them I don’t really have a problem with how casual it all is. Akame herself gives the show a really weird flavor. Moe moe murder kyun!? There is a weird charm to the way this show is grim dark to an almost hilarious degree, but just shrugs it off and gives us moe assassins eating giant demon birds instead.
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HaNaYaMaTa
Episode 2

Mondays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll Watching: Aquagaze

Aquagaze: HaNaYaMaTa continues to be a pleasant surprise, with endearing dialogue (DC Comics haven’t said anything smarter on superheroes than Hannah did in this episode in years), adorable humour (“Cleared browser history? Check!”) and rather well-rounded characters (I like how they actually addressed Hannah’s random ninja antics last episode). Jealousy is a tired trope, though, and the soap opera theatricality with which HaNaYaMaTa rather dishonestly handles it is quite jarring. Will girls’ love — and everything else that’s rolled off the same assembly line, like this show — ever learn that girls going unreasonably green-eyed when their friends have other friends is not cute, but creepy? Luckily, Yaya is self-aware enough to point this out a few times, and the depths it provides to her history with Naru are welcome as usual. Furthermore, the dance sequences keep looking absolutely gorgeous, and the whole thing is so joyous I can’t stay mad at it. I’d much rather have a show clumsily handling something profound than excel at being thoroughly vapid.
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Barakamon
Episode 2

Simulcast Pending on Funimation Saturdays 9:00 pm CET on Crunchyroll
(Europe only, except UK and Ireland)

Watching: Aquagaze, EuricaeriS

Aquagaze: Barakamon‘s main flaw is not even its own, it’s Crunchyroll’s utter incompetence at adequately translating some of its jokes because they shrink in fear at the slightest suggestion of translating anything involving Japan’s sacred and unfathomable culture. Yet amongst all the questions as to why paid professionals can’t reword jokes, bring themselves to turn ‘Jumon boy’ into something as simple as ‘magazine hottie’ or at least explain what the heck a Kabuki-cho is for people who aren’t as well-versed in Japanese culture as us sad nerds are — it’s Tokyo’s red light district, in case you didn’t know — the lion’s part of Barakamon‘s delightful humour stands firmly even without Wikipedia at the ready. The series wonderfully manages to make light of ‘the sticks’ without ridiculing it, resulting in a romp that’s arguably the closest we’ll ever get to a Yotsuba&! anime. Do yourself a favour and check this show out, you might laugh so hard your heart starts beating again.
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5 thoughts on “The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 1

  1. Aside from Zankyou no Terror, Barakamon is definitely the highlight of the new season for me. It’s that perfect blend of good-natured humour and slightly sugared sweetnees – it feels a bit like Gin no Saji that way, only with a fully grown adult as opposed to a student as the main character (which always makes for a refreshing change). If I had any doubts following the first episode, the second put them completely to rest.

  2. Sabagebu is the best show right now, it may not have high production values but damn if it isn’t great to watch, not to mention those hilarious references.

  3. The censoring in Tokyo Ghoul episode 2 annoyed me a bit but I still enjoyed it. I liked Zankyou no Terror a lot. It doesn’t treat the viewer like an idiot with cheesy exposition dialogue. Barakamon. Great. Akame Ga Kill feels like a generic harem fantasy with gore. SAO episode this week turned out to be slightly entertaining. Seriously don’t get what all the hype is about for AGK, Aldnoah Zero, and Sword Art Online. But that’s just my opinion.

  4. Aldnoah: I thought ep two was ok. But ya the cackling villians, their uberman like tech gap is a little annoying. Whats up with main protagonists having ZERO redeeming features…Well not zero, at least Inaho is the one person who sees the nuance in being a decoy to save others while the rest seem content on running away.

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