The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 3

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In this week’s installment…

Battle lines are drawn again over Aldnoah.Zero, Rail Wars! has even less trains and more boobs than usual, and Sabagebu! manages to make “may the force be with you” jokes funny again.

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 4

Thursdays 11:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong, Marlin

Marlin: This show keeps doing the bare minimum to keep me watching. I do hope Sachi acknowledges Hiro’s feelings soon. I get that she might only have eyes for Touka, but that doesn’t mean she can be continuously ignorant of his advances. Since dinner and a movie is the most stereotypical date imaginable, you’d think she’d understand his motives by now. I am glad that the show didn’t just let any of the other developments stew. The relationship between Touka, Yana, and Yuki has been drastically changed. If there’s one thing the show has done right, it’s illustrate that awkward atmosphere. Unfortunately, unless Touka seeing the two is just some red herring, it seems that Yana’s chat with Kakeru is going to cause some groanworthy misunderstandings drama in the future.
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Argevollen
Episode 4

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee, Lifesong

Gee: I probably should have known better than to get my hopes up after last week’s competence. Look, I get that as a mecha anime, some liberties are going to be taken, but if you’re going to insist on some kind of serious military story, you better be willing to stick with it all the way. The moment you bring in typical anime stupidity and the whole thing is going to fall apart. It’s bad enough that everyone is treating a one-off super prototype that is locked to a single pilot as a completely acceptable thing, but when military superiors are straight up telling their subordinates that gross violations of conduct and bald-faced insubordination is okay simply because they’re the main character? That’s where I give up. I think it’s better for my health in the long run to just not expect anything out of Argevollen from here on out.
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Locodol
Episode 4

Thursdays 3:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Jel, Lifesong, MarlinTimmy

Jel: Not Locodol’s best work as the pervy manager is starting to inch the show into the kind of creepy territory I was hoping to avoid. Granted it would be naive not to acknowledge the obsessive nature of idol fans but they seem just a bit too accepting of it. It doesn’t help that the episode itself is kind of boring. The impromptu concert for the kids was kind of cute but I was sleepwalking through the rest. Hopefully next week will be a return to the higher level of quality we’ve seen in the first couple of episodes.

Marlin: It’s a bit of a testament to this show’s fluffiness that it’s two days later and the only things I really remember well are that it was cute and I liked it. I think having the manager be a woman is kinda a cheap way to play off the pervert issue. If she were a man, her behavior would be immediately creepy instead of creepy in hindsight. The show does seem to be painting as innocent a view on the whole idol business as possible, so I guess it’s not like I was expecting them to tackle the issue of the creeps that actually support idols with any level of seriousness anyway.

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Locodol – Two years have passed and Total Eclipse still haunts me…

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Invaders of the Rokujyouma!?
Episode 3

Fridays 1:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Harem Room’s conquest has expanded to the school because of course it has. I’ve been enjoying the dumb comedy of this show. I am amused by how seriously all the characters are taking their conquest of the room. That said, the thing that really sold this episode for me was Megumi’s desire to finish the race. She even befriended the poor magical girl and accepted her magic. I don’t know if she really believed her or not, but it was a sweet moment when she accepted Yurika’s explanation and again when she said they could be friends. After all the abuse Yurika has gone though she earned it. The end of the race was poetic justice. This show is turning out pretty well considering how dumb the premise is.
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Tokyo ESP
Episode 3

Fridays 2:05 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: That escalated quickly. Being a hero isn’t all fun and games when someone lights your house on fire and kidnaps your friends. I had been comparing this show to X-Men so it was neat to see there are some differences. For starters the fact that everyone is a normal human until they have a run in with a magic fish thingy is kind of neat. It’s also clearly some kind of magic and not about genetics. I guess it could be magic AND genetics, but it hasn’t gone there yet. I had mixed feelings when Magneto Papa tried to knock out his daughter and go on a rampage. I had mixed feelings again when she knocked him out and ended his rampage early. The characters are a bit cliche, but they have already grown on me a lot in these last two episodes. I can’t wait to see where this goes.
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Aldnoah.Zero
Episode 4

Saturdays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

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

Aquagaze: I should have known better than to get my hopes up. After last week’s promising payoff, Aldnoah.Zero lapses back into the befuddled lukewarmness that has steadily become its second nature. I barely got to pay any attention to the rambling technobabble and decidedly petty attempts at giving its characters any semblance of personality in this episode due to Marlin’s and Iro’s near constant nitpicking, but it sure does show how hard it is to even care about this show. I’ll spare you the details, but after four episodes, Aldnoah.Zero has completely failed at making any of its characters (with the exception of Slaine, maybe) worth caring about — in spite of my best intentions. Furthermore, the fascinating ‘teens on the run’ premise has been thrown out of the window again, thanks to the introduction of the army, bringing along a dozen or so nobodies to kill off. As a result, the cast is thrice as big as it needs to be, and the action quickly devolves into monster-of-the-week, giving the villains about as much charisma as the heroes. Sadly, Aldnoah.Zero seems to be a show that simply refuses to be good, in spite of its well-intentioned premise, eclectic soundtrack or baffling visuals. As a result, it leaves me with little more than a bitter, bitter sense I haven’t felt since Guilty Crown thought it could use big names to justify its miserable existence. And even then, at least Guilty Crown was entertaining in how bafflingly incompetent it was. There was nothing entertaining about this episode of Aldnoah.Zero.

Gee: What kills me about Aldnoah.Zero is how close it comes to being an almost worthwhile mecha anime. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve voiced my desires for a mecha anime about outgunned good guys taking on vastly superior enemies with good tactics and grit. And while this week’s episode didn’t exactly pull that off as well as I hoped, it was close enough that I could forgive the show. What I can’t forgive after four episodes though is Aldnoah.Zero’s utter inability to make me care for its cast. The villains are flat, the good guys are flat, the protagonist is flat. With the exception of Slaine, nobody in the cast even has the potential to be interesting. If Inaho was going to reveal some interesting character quirks or flaws or hell, even an explanation for his behavior, they should have done so by now. Because after this point, it’s going to be too late in the game to save this show.

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Rail Wars! – Girls can tell when you’re staring at their kevlar body armor.

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Rail Wars!
Episode 4

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

Timmy: Our cast this week swaps out the patrol uniforms for swimsuits and kevlar as they are tasked with protecting an idol preforming in a railway hosted event that just happens to have the stage set up on a beach. Of course half the time they don’t even wear that with the bath and changing room scenes this episode. Still somewhat fun though as they take care of a knife welding lunatic on stage without alerting the audience that something is amiss. This being part of some sort of bigger ploy to discredit the railway and kick the show’s plot into full gear is something I would like to see happen next episode, but I have my doubts at this point as it is more likely that this episode was intended as little more then a really fanservicey beach episode with a little action thrown in. At least the idol seemed pretty fun as far as introducing new characters goes.
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Sabagebu!
Episode 4

Sundays 11:00 am on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze, GeeJelLifesongMarlinTimmy

Jel: This episode proved Sabagebu! is more than just fourth wall jokes. The Otaku Showdown and Fat Momoka (minus the seemingly unintentional bulimia joke) were great bits but I loved Part C’s showdown with Mom. One of my favorite jokes so far is the complete lack of explanation as to why they have a sentient platypus. Not only did they stick to their guns and continue to leave it to our imagination, we also got to see where Momoka gets her ruthless streak from. This was the best episode yet, and I’m almost embarrassed by how much I look forward to watching this every week.

Marlin: This was the best episode yet. Sabagebu! has always had really strong punchlines, but these gags just knocked it out of the park. There was also some of the best referential humor I’ve seen since Sgt. Frog. The bulimia joke was a little uncomfortable, but otherwise every other bit landed beautifully. Sundays have quickly become my most anticipated part of the week.

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Akame ga Kill!
Episode 4

Sundays 12:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Our team of assassins has been assigned to track down another imperial arms user. An insane man who likes removing heads from their bodies so that he can see their expression as they die. Talk about sadistic. I guess that isn’t even surprising at this point. This episode explained just how powerful imperial arms are and showed us a fight our protagonist couldn’t win on his own. The more interesting implication for me was was Akame’s “most important person”. I guess it makes enough sense for the most important person to an assassin would be someone they want to kill. I want to know who she is. I also appreciate the way Akame casually admits that she doesn’t have any guilt about her murders. This anime is very pragmatic about assassination and that gives the whole thing a fresh spin. Normally I would be out after seeing so much sadism, but instead of justifying it the message I see repeated is that it isn’t justified, but they are going to keep doing it anyway. It’s a smart approach, I like it.
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HaNaYaMaTa – This image sums up the Glorio Blog’s entire range of opinions.

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Love Stage!!
Episode 3

Wednesdays 1:45 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Rape time! Literally… So I know bodice rippers are nothing new, but here we have a character who is supposedly struggling with the feelings he has for someone else. He has literally been infatuated with this person since they were kids. In that situation going over to that persons house and ripping their clothing off in order to prove to yourself that they aren’t attractive seems like a really really bad idea. I guess that is kind of the point… It’s just that this actor guy is a complete mess. I kind of want to see Ryouma die in a fire after this weeks events. At least Shougo scored some points. It’s going to be rough trying to get over what a massive ass Ryouma is.
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Fate/Kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 2wei!
Episode 3

Wednesdays 2:15 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: So Kuro Illya was trying to bed Shiro and make out with all of Illya’s friends to replenish mana? That is so dumb it would only work in a Typemoon universe. Conveniently that is what we have here! I’m amused by the way this show takes some of the dumbest aspects of Fate/Stay Night and manages to spin them into something new while making them into something even dumber. Typemoon humor has never been subtle, but this is something else entirely. So yeah, this episode in a nutshell. Kuro Illya feels any pain inflicted on Illya, hits on her brother and makes out with all her friends, also Taiga. There is just no defending the thing this has become.
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HaNaYaMaTa
Episode 4

Mondays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze,  Lifesong, Marlin

Aquagaze: Be it doused in sickeningly sweet jam, HaNaYaMaTa continues to be a most enjoyable romp, aided by its endearing characters, adorable humour and surprising depth. Tami’s wholehearted devotion to her father is played both for laughs as for drama, adding some levity to a dramatic dichotomy that many a viewer can no doubt relate to. Do you do the things you claim to like because you actually enjoy them, or simply because you’re supposed to? Props to HaNaYaMaTa for delivering a pretty nuanced view on the topic, showing that trying to balance serving yourself and pleasing others, be it friends or family, is the way to go, and that sometimes, the two can even coexist. By giving Tami just a bit of screen time in the episodes before her proper introduction in this one makes us care so much more about her struggles in trying to appease Naru, Matchi, her father and herself at the same time, and the noticeable differences in her behaviour towards each of them makes for a surprisingly gripping bit of characterization. The big cathartic speech at the end was a bit much, but it does show that the show still has its heart firmly in the right spot. Meanwhile, Hannah and Naru seem to have taken their endearing chemistry and ran with it, resulting in a two-man-act that brings some much-needed laughs to this overall rather unexpectedly dramatic episode, including the funniest underwear-related joke in years. With all the dancing in skirts going on, I guess they had to address that elephant in the room at some point.

Marlin: Hannah is still the brattiest little weeaboo and it’s great. Honestly, watching her tell actual Japanese people how they should act in their own culture is probably the most arrogantly otaku thing to do. I was surprised to see this show tackle somewhat more mature ground with Tami. I think everyone has had to decide at some point in their life whether they want to do things for themselves or for their family. Often in my life I’ve found it much more satisfying to cherish the bonds one keeps with their friends than to fulfill external expectations. There will always be time to burden oneself when they grow up, for now they are still girls, and they should cherish the time they have.

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Barakamon
Episode 4

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

Watching: Aquagaze, EuricaeriS, Marlin

Aquagaze: What’s there to say? Barakamon‘s weakest episode yet, it has to be admitted. With a lot of halfhearted jokes somewhat poorly slapped together, this confusing mess of an episode made its origins as an episodic gag manga more than obvious, though as usual, there were some standouts as soon as the kids got involved. Good to see that even in its lesser moments, the show still knows its strengths, and I don’t blame it for not being as consistent as only the very best of anime comedies are. Better luck next time, Barakamon.

Marlin: This episode was boring. Gonna just go out and say it. Sure, there may have been a couple jokes here and there, but there was not enough substance on the comedic or introspective side to carry this episode all the way. We get it, Handa needs to learn from his experiences to become a better artist. The message has simply started to run thin. With the plethora of other, much funnier, slice of life stories running this season, I can’t justify watching this one any longer.

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4 thoughts on “The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 3

  1. I actually like the characters on Aldnoah.Zero. Not sure why people find it hard to empathise with a pseudo-sociopath as a main character. It’s like having a Vulcan without the ears. Also, I am now watching the show as an allegory to Israel and Palestine.

  2. Aldnoah.Zero: Really hope this doesn’t devolve into a monster of the week show. Would be pretty depressing considering the production value. The protagonists are fairly empty but Calm does show some character (looking at Okisuke pic often and thinking about him).

    Though I seem to enjoy Yuki and Marito (Is there ALWAYS a some sort of drunk in these type of shows?).

  3. I really need to catch up on Sabagebu. Akame VS Zank was amazing, so many possibilities with dat Teigu, literally can not wait for this week’s ep. 1 more day, arrrghhh!

    and lol Kuro is the best ever, loved this week’s episode of 2WEI! as well ❤

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