The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 2

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In this week’s installment…

Our weekly coverage fills up as we (or should I say Lifesong) add a few new shows. Opinions continue to be split on Aldnoah.Zero but the flurry of oddly named upstart comedies stay unanimously entertaining.

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

Blue Spring Ride – 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 3

Thursdays 11:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong, Marlin

Marlin: It may just be the sci-fi aspect that’s making this parallel, but Glasslip is still giving me a huge amount of Ano Natsu vibes. Just like in that show, each crush seems to have a confidant, and they all work against each other without knowing it. I’m particularly digging hyper guy’s effort in courting the shy girl (yes, I am terrible at names, but it’s easier this way). It’s too bad it seems she’s pitching for the other team, as there is a bit of adorably awkward chemistry between them. Unfortunately, not everything was great. Glasslip committed one of the cardinal sins of romcoms in having an accidental exposure scene where the girls were wholly at fault, and yet still blow up at the boy. I’m hoping that juvenile stuff will be in the minority, but it doesn’t say many good things with how maturely this show will handle its drama.
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Argevollen
Episode 3

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee, Lifesong

Gee: In a surprising turn of events, Argevollen actually managed to elevate itself, if only somewhat. Now instead of being the most incompetent mecha of the season, it is now proudly straddling the line of mediocrity. While I don’t appreciate much of what Argveollen has to offer, the military bent has actually been pretty prominent in this episode, which I greatly appreciate. Seeing other personnel loading guns, performing maintenance on mechs, and doing other military operations gives the setting a much more well-rounded feel. Alas, the main mech and its idiot pilot continue to be a source of consternation for me. It’s getting to the point where either he gets smarter or I get sick of his shit entirely. I  suppose time will tell if Argevollen can manage to take this upward momentum and keep it going.
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Locodol
Episode 3

Thursdays 3:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Jel, Lifesong, MarlinTimmy

Jel: I found it hilarious that the Nagarekawa Girls’ answer to the big idol groups was getting a little girl in a creepy blue mascot suit. I’m a sucker for mascot humor in general, so bits like the terrifying distorted voice scaring the kids got a laugh out of me. This episode lacked the tiny emotional sucker punch of last week, but seeing the girls persevere through another potentially awful performance still made for a decent feel good moment. You keep doing what you do, Locodol.

Marlin: This show continues to be really enjoyable despite all the weird fanservice. Boob size jokes are pretty stupid all around, but thankfully they’re very one-off and don’t overshadow the other bits of comedy. I have to wonder if someone has been stalking the Glorio Blog in making those new costumes, I mean seriously, garterbelts and extraneous sweaters? Not that I’m complaining I guess.

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Locodol – Uo Uo Uo Uo Uogokoro was born because he doesn’t want you to forget kindness

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Invaders of the Rokujyouma!?
Episode 2

Fridays 1:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: This week we upgrade from free for all to civilized conquest! Now that these characters can’t damage the room they have decided to make winning into a game for space. Each mat represents the territory one of the characters and they will destroy one another with… Card games! I was actually a lot more amused by this episode than I probably should have been. My favorite joke is the one where everyone refuses to acknowledge the magical girl who is trying to save their lives. I hope that evil monsters really do some up at some point. I also loved the way possession works in this universe.
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Tokyo ESP
Episode 2

Fridays 2:05 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: This episode starts off like the first episode never even happened. At first I was pretty annoyed, but well whatever. This is the first episode I feel like the show deserved and I had a lot of fun watching it. The moral of the story here is that with great power comes… great responsibility. Okay, so that isn’t a new concept, but I like the homage to American comics that I see here. This whole thing reminds me of x men and well, struggling with power over the lives of others is an easy enough way to add interesting conflict. I’m looking forward to seeing what else this show has to offer.
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Aldnoah.Zero
Episode 3

Saturdays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: AquagazeDragonzigg, EuricaeriS, Gee,  Iro, Marlin, Lifesong

Aquagaze: After last week’s nasty cocktail or Hollywood bombast and senseless violence, Aldnoah.Zero luckily chose to live up to the potential that episode’s ending left us with. The moustache-twirling arrogance of the Martians and Inaho’s apathetic composure keep invoking the kind of light novel power fantasy rubbish I’d rather see ejected from this show as soon as humanly possible, but this episode pleasantly surprised with all the kids working together and putting their talents to good use. Even the princess gets her time to shine, and the scheme they manage to pull off to eliminate Trillram is incredibly satisfying in its efficiency. Especially the way in which it managed to address all the seemingly questionable aspects of last episode’s battle and had the kids use these to figure out their enemy’s weak points managed to thrill me far more than any amount of meaningless slaughter could. For all his infuriating unflappability, Inaho even gets some nice little drama scenes, though the lion’s part of the character stuff lies in Slaine’s dramatic actions after the credits. Aldnoah.Zero continues to bear the scars of its irrefutable shortcomings, yet this episode raised my spirits once again. Let’s see if it can keep up this brief surge without Gen Urobuchi at the helm.

Gee: Aldnoah.Zero manages to save itself from its absolutely terrible 2nd episode. Alas, it’s only enough to also bring it up to the level of straddling mediocrity instead of living up to its lofty potential. Watching the kids manage to overcome overwhelming Martian technological superiority was pretty satisfying. Unfortunately, the cast continues to be the weakest link in this show, with Slaine being the only character with any potential. Inaho continues to be the worst mecha protagonist I’ve had the displeasure of watching in a while. The Martians aren’t much better. Three episodes in and they’re still either cackling psychopaths or space racists. With this being the last of the Urobuchi-written episodes, my hopes are honestly not that high, but who knows. Considering how much the man has disappointed me with the first three episodes, maybe a change of hands is exactly what Aldnoah.Zero needs.

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Aldnoah.Zero – At least we can agree the robots look nice

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Rail Wars!
Episode 3

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

Lifesong: The Rail Nerd is strong with this one. The premise of this episode is that some rail nerd girl can identify trains and locations by sounds. It’s actually kind of neat in a this would be an interesting documentary sort of way. The conflict is kind of lame for me. I like how they are working the train nerd stuff into the characters. I don’t like that the story is boring as watching grass grow. Give me something interesting Rail Wars!
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Sabagebu!
Episode 3

Sundays 11:00 am on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze, GeeJelLifesongMarlinTimmy

Jel: This was the dumbest and possibly funniest episode yet. The battle with the hornets and their aggressively obnoxious advisor had just the right amount of absurdity and the showdown with the elementary school team elevated Momoka’s heartless cruelty to new heights. My favorite gag though was Roselia’s flashback, both because her grudge was so petty and the way it ended so unexpectedly. If you like comedy involving horrible people doing horrible things to each other, you should really be watching this.

Gee: As usual, watching Momoka being the petty psychopath she is continues to be the highlight of this show. Throw in yet another 80s gun-toting action hero icon and I can only hope that every episode of Sabagebu ends up with a random 80s action hero making a cameo for no particular reason. That said, this has definitely been the weakest episode for me so far, relying on a bit too much 4th-wall leaning and well-worn anime jokes for my own taste. As I’ve said before, I fear Sabagebu’s longevity as a 4th wall breaking comedy. Still, it continues to serve admirably as the piece of enjoyable comedy fluff it is.

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Akame ga Kill!
Episode 3

Sundays 12:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Help, I’m actually starting to enjoy Akame ga Kill‘s casual violence. It’s all just so… practical. The assassins after Night Raid in the start of the episode get slaughtered without remorse with one exception. The woman in their group gets a remorseful comment. Before anyone starts crying about discrimination against women keep in mind that her buddies got torn apart without a second thought. The way this show goes about murdering the hell out of everyone without apology is actually becoming interesting to me. I have a feeling that it won’t really evolve too far past what it already is, but if we get some rival assassins or something… who knows? I can hope.
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HaNaYaMaTa – Typical Jersey Girl

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Love Stage!!
Episode 2

Wednesdays 1:45 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Damn it, I like this show. Don’t judge me! The little bits of boys love anime I’ve seen has always been a special kind of terrible that has been easy to avoid. Maybe they will have something going for them to appeal to the fans, but as a straight male I just don’t have a reason to watch that. In this case I feel myself pulled in by the characters. I absolutely hate the annoying mom, but she wasn’t too important in this episode so whatever. The otaku meets film world angle is interesting to me. The way the characters are playing the whole girly man scenario has a charm that appeals to me before it asks me to invest in the orientation of the characters. What can I say? I want to see what happens next.
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Fate/Kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 2wei!
Episode 2

Wednesdays 2:15 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: This show has gone from hard to explain to utterly indefensible. And it did it with a bastardy smile on it’s face. I wasn’t originally planning to write about Illya and her adventures, but after seeing a make-out session in this show that might rival Sakura Trick well… Anything this shameless needs to be covered.
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HaNaYaMaTa
Episode 3

Mondays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze,  Lifesong, Marlin

Aquagaze: Geez, Hannah is just the most annoying little weeaboo, isn’t she? I do love how she displays a rather shockingly accurate portrayal of the worst of ‘glorious Nippon’-romanticizing geeks without becoming a caricature. It’s a good thing Yaya’s there to call her out, giving off a dynamic I haven’t seen done this entertainingly since Kagami and Konata’s vitriolic best buddies act in Lucky Star. Yet another example of HaNaYaMaTa executing a rather stale trope with surprising verve and using the charmingly chaotic chemistry between its main trio to its fullest advantage. The fact that Hannah and Yaya don’t immediately become best pals after their obligatory introductory conflict provides them with some actual depth, while the first half of the episode rather hilariously reminds us that HaNaYaMaTa still ranks amongst the top percentage of ‘girls in x club’ anime by virtue of actually being about the thing it’s supposed to be about. It’s one of the rare shows in an overpopulated genre that manages to charm me without defying conventions, and that, oddly enough, almost defies conventions by itself.

Marlin: HaNaYaMaTa has continued to be a cute little of slice of life. The first bit with yakuza-bro was pretty great. I’m pretty sure any store owner that sold that high-end of goods would understand those girls would only be looking at things first hand. It’s pretty great how he rolls with the punches as he’s bombarded with Naru’s questions and Hannah’s spazzy energy. I love that Hannah keeps getting called out on her total dorkiness. I’m just imagining an actual blonde trying to pass off wearing a yukata in the streets like its a normal thing. That said, I enjoyed the first half a lot more, as much of the second half was retreading on Yaya’s tsundere-ness. Still, the show is enjoyable, relishing in its ditsy charm instead of languishing by it.

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Barakamon
Episode 3

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

Watching: Aquagaze, EuricaeriS, Marlin

Aquagaze: With Yotsuba&! on hiatus, I can’t help but wonder if Kiyohiko Azuma is secretly moonlighting as a script writer for Barakamon. Then again, I don’t think Azuma would ever resort to a joke as overdone as the fujoshi who interprets the slightest puff of air as gay innuendo. Luckily, Arai has a lot more going for her than just this cliché, and her highly energetic rants about manga manage to successfully deliver the usual ‘by otaku for otaku’ humour to a wider audience. Sadly enough, Crunchyroll doesn’t seem to share this sentiment, as this episode once again contains several untranslated jokes that could have easily been localized. It’s hardly detrimental to the show’s overall vibe though, and Barakamon remains enjoyable as ever, even with Naru a slight more out of focus.
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6 thoughts on “The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 2

  1. Do tell what anime is the banner image from? If that ain’t Chuck Norris going all Delta Force on us then I don’t know what is!!!

  2. legendary stuff, this already surpasses everything from season 1 aside from the Archer fight.

    Silver link with that cutting edge lewdness. KuroxMiyu cranked up to eleven and the Tracing looked real stunning. As a manga reader this pleases me, and we have yet to hit the best parts =w=

  3. Just caught up to Aldnoah.Zero ep03. Yes quite satisfying. They are slowly pealing back the consipracy, what with Trillian desperately trying to protect his “clan”. But we know from ep01 (or two?) that he is not part of Count Cruhteo’s knights as he stated he wanted to repay his debt to him for staying on his csatle.

    But we know the Count is involved as well. More of this needed for the show. Perhaps now that Slaine is unto the consipracy we will slowly see some of it unravel. Im liking the show.

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