The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 5

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In this week’s installment…

We hit the midpoint of the season and the entire crop of great comedies are still going strong. Locodol finally ends Sabagebu’s header image streak and no matter how frustrated he gets, Gee is still watching Argevollen and Aldnoah.Zero.

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 6

Thursdays 11:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong, Marlin

Marlin: Man, things escalated really quickly. I give this show major props for going through with all of the tension between the characters and finally have them deal with it. Yuki is such a prick, but it’s in a way that I can understand. He’s a stupid teenager acting on his emotions, and a lot of the time that can lead to some pretty stupid things. I also find it interesting how Kakeru seemed to pick a fight with Yuki just to try to get Touka to pick a side. Their reason for being attracted to each other is sappy in that Romeo and Juliet kind of way, but it’s exactly the kind of melodramatic way of confessing feelings that I’d expect from kids their age.
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Argevollen
Episode 6

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee, Lifesong

Gee: I suppose the highest praise I can give Argevollen is that unlike Aldnoah.Zero, it does not sink so low that it begins to evoke anger in me as I watch it. Unfortunately, Argevollen also doesn’t really evoke anything else in me other than maybe moderate scorn and boredom. This week, it’s time for Jamie to run to the front lines to reactivate the fallen Argevollen. Yes, for some reason, the super special prototype not only imprints on its pilot, but also the person who turns the fucking thing on. If that sounds completely idiotic, congratulations, you have the basic common sense that the script writers are apparently lacking. It basically goes through the motions as Jamie alternates between running and stopping to be scared for 30 seconds before running again. The concept of forcing a civilian into a military situation is a well-established mecha trope and done well, it can remind us how truly terrifying war can be. Done poorly like Argevollen does, and it just ends up being one of the most obnoxiously tedious things you could watch. When a mecha show actively prioritizes scenes of a girl being scared instead of a robot blowing things up, you know you have a problem.
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Locodol
Episode 6

Thursdays 3:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Jel, Lifesong, MarlinTimmy

Jel: Fighting mascots. If that doesn’t sell you on this, nothing will. As silly as this episode was I would actually be shocked if a competition like this did not exist in Japan and if so I want to know how I can watch it. There were some really great gags with the Fundoshi  Bros. and Uogokoro becoming the “Blue Harbinger of Death” and as always it’s balanced out with feel good scenes like the chat with Star Man at the end. This was another really solid episode and I think at this point we can stop being surprised by that.

Marlin: Oh, mascots. Nothing is funnier but stupider when watching a ball game than watching some sausages race on the field or see ESPN commercials where they beat the crap out of each other. This episode captures all the fun of watching people in overheated suits with all the adorableness of seeing Nanako’s reaction to the whole ridiculous thing. Once again this show stays on the right side of idealism while still making some funny jokes poking fun at the reality of such situations, like how all the mascots aside from Yui are really old men. Every week I still don’t understand why I like this show so much, but I do.

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Sabagebu! – They seem a little too comfortable in those Yakuza suits.

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Invaders of the Rokujyouma!?
Episode 5

Fridays 1:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: This was one of Harem Room’s duller episode yet. I like moe ghost girl enough and I don’t mind the cliches at play, but this episode wasn’t particularly funny or heartwarming. I do like the way the harem is forming up to be more of a dysfunctional family than a typical harem. I hope they run with the competitive spirit creates bonds theme. This show is at it’s best when the sappy moments feel natural and comedy is the primary focus. Hopefully we will get more like that going forward and less forced drama.
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Tokyo ESP
Episode 5

Fridays 2:05 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: The big bad finally returned and tied this show back into it’s first episode. Aside from feeling a bit redundant it’s good to see where the story stands. Sadly these villains are neither fun nor interesting which made their terrorism dull to watch play out. I am beginning to have mixed feelings on this show. I like the main characters and her group of friends. Their super power “dilemma” has been interesting to watch. The villains on the other hand are so far fueled by generic hate. What do they hate? Probably everything… Why do they want to reform the world? Because… hate? Maybe… It’s lame. I hope they become more interesting as things pan out.
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Aldnoah.Zero
Episode 6

Saturdays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

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

Aquagaze: The Vers empire declares war on Earth, because for some reason what they have been doing in the past five episodes doesn’t qualify as ‘war’. In any case, it’s a convenient excuse for Inaho and Inko to trade in their school uniforms for some surprisingly functional plugsuits while the five gazillion other cannon fodder characters don’t because I can only assume they were too lazy to design military outfits for them. Countless minutes of military technobabble between have-I-seen-this-guy-before and who-the-fuck-is-this-dude-again and some nonexistent character development later, Inaho somehow manages to singlehandedly take out the enemy Kataphrakt using the very same gun all the redshirts couldn’t scratch it with and of course, this blatant violation of any known law of writing is never explained. Then again, nothing is ever explained in this show. People talk and expodump all the time, but we never learn anything new or valuable, like why the princess doesn’t just reveal her identity already, why Inko isn’t ever allowed to do anything, or what Slaine’s father was doing on Vers. Most of the exposition consists of military jargon and made-up terminology for decidedly simple tropes in some hopeless attempt to cover up the fact that Aldnoah.Zero is as shallow as a pond — but still too pompous and frustrating to be a mindless romp. This episode wasn’t too grating by the unacceptable depths which the standards for this show have plummeted to, but still, my patience is starting to run out.

Gee: As Aquagaze has already explained in detail, Aldnoah.Zero falls apart not for surface factors such as its presentation, but instead because of the overarching failures that end up affecting every aspect of the show. Inaho continues to be the untouchable, unflappable, unbelievably boring protagonist he was in the prior episodes. Marito attempts to get into a robot again, only to suffer from PTSD again. It wouldn’t be so egregious if the show hadn’t already played out this scene three or four times in the exact same manner in previous episodes. In the end, it feels like Aldnoah.Zero wants to tell us something, but rather than do so, it keeps insisting on focusing on ideas that have either been well-worn already (Inaho being the only one who can beat the Martians) or ones that nobody cares about (Will of Aldnoah something something). It’s a show that relies too heavily on the audience saying, “Maybe it’s because of X” or “What if it’s actually Y” instead of giving us actual answers. Aldnoah.Zero is not the only show guilty of it, but regardless, no show should ask its audience to defend or justify its questionable presentation.

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Akame ga Kill! – NO! BAD DOG! DOWN BOY! NO!

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Rail Wars!
Episode 6

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

Timmy: With the gang on suspension from last week’s antics, this episode find them end up doing pretty much the same thing anyways despite the fact they should be at home. This episode kicks off with Naoto finding a death threat in his mail, which ends up actually being just a piece of spam mail. Failing to get a hold of Aoi he calls and meets up with Haruka. She seems to agree about the letter and they become even more convinced when Aoi sees them together and accidentally shoots at them, demonstrating once again why she should really not be allowed to have a gun. An accident with a shipment of catnip sends the “cat assassins” after the pair, and Haruka starts shedding layers in an effort to lose them. They duck into the “conveniently” unlocked railway museum and after being chased by the crooks that unlocked it, Naoto then hides a very nude Haruka in a closet, where she reminiscences about being locked in a similar closet 15 years ago and being bailed out by Naoto, while he takes a stand and Aoi shows up to bust some heads. It was a pretty dumb episode, with Naoto and Haruka reaching the silliest conclusions for every situation they find themselves in, but it served to give us a much needed Haruka focused episode and in the end it was still admittedly pretty fun to watch.
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Sabagebu!
Episode 6

Sundays 11:00 am on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze, GeeJelLifesongMarlinTimmy

Jel: This episode was kind of disappointing, especially after last week’s fantastic outing. The first story is probably the least inspired bit we’ve seen in the series, with the student council president’s grudge playing out like an other anime comedy and ignoring Sabagebu’s unique strong points: guns, cruelty, and self awareness. Fortunately all those things happen in the final 6 minutes or so as the girls wear Yakuza movie stereotypes just a little too well. The final shot of the president calling out the creeper cam in the bath and next week’s preview promising we will NOT be getting a swimsuit episode have me confident the series will bounce right back.

Gee: This week is perhaps a prime example of why Sabagebu and other anime comedies in its vein are best in short form rather than full length episodes. The first story takes up 2/3s of the show’s run, and ends up falling pretty flat after a few minutes. The student council president hates Miou, all her plans keep failing, and Miou keeps saving her! Hilarious! Maybe if it ran half its length, it would have been funny. Luckily, the Yakuza movie inspired story in the last third made up for it and did an excellent job of being genuinely funny. Between Kayo gunning down Maya (perhaps after learning her lesson in forming truces) and Momoka taking a giant doll hostage, it was full of the wonderfully psychotic moments that make Sabagebu so darn fun to watch. In some ways, seeing Momoka’s twisted morality slowly seeping into the rest of the club is the kind of “character development” I could get behind.

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Akame ga Kill!
Episode 6

Sundays 12:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Seele! Not Seele… Good on this show for making good on it’s promise that anyone could die at any moment. Did it have to be Seele? This episode was both fantastic and awful to watch play out. I suspect something bad would go down and then well… yeah. I find the moral theme of this show to be fascinating. The assassins are not justified and they know it. Meanwhile the characters trying to enforce justice are depicted as insane. It’s an interesting way flavor a cast full of murderers. They manage to feel human as a result. Sure this show still does the whole grim dark thing to the max, but instead of characters with some brooding problems and fixation on hatred their issues with society and their struggles become something far more personal. I am loving the way that puts a spin on this kind of fiction.
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Love Stage! – In case you ever wondered what that meant.

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Love Stage!!
Episode 5

Wednesdays 1:45 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Watching some try really hard at something they are completely awful at is painful. Hearing someone else encourage that person with lies is even more painful. That is exactly what we got this week. I suspect this is all a build up to Izumi turning in his manga only to be told by his idol Lala Lu’s actress that he has no talent. Ryouma has some issues of his own. Aside from being a creepy stalker psycho Ryouma also seems to be getting into professional trouble for getting caught being a creepy stalker in public. The whole kissing someone who doesn’t have any romantic interest in you while they are asleep thing bothers me, but I’m sure whatever Ryouma is actually in trouble for we be something… more redeemable. I have a feeling I’m going to be doing a lot of cringing in the next episode…
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Fate/Kaleid liner PRISMA ILLYA 2wei!
Episode 5

Wednesdays 2:15 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Lifesong

Lifesong: Oh right this show. Illya blows up her bathroom because of course she does and so everyone gets together for an info dump in Luvia’s massive bathing room. I guess the reason Kuro Illya doesn’t like real Illya is because real Illya is busy denying her magical powers and the changes they made to her life? Sure whatever. The more promising thing is the hint that something is special about Miyu and that we might learn more of her back story. If Kuro Illya brings that about then cool I guess. The drama between Illya and Kuro does manage to be somewhat funny at least.
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HaNaYaMaTa
Episode 6

Mondays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze,  Lifesong, Marlin

Aquagaze: HaNaYaMaTa marks one of the very first times I’ve ever seen a wacky club founded by four ditzy high school girls fail — even worse, the show even manages to pull this off twice in the same episode. It shows that HaNaYaMaTa is just that bit more dedicated to having a modicum of continuity and plot development extending beyond soap opera smarminess. On the unexpectedly common occasions the show tries to be more than a breezy comedy, its self-awareness saves it from melodrama oblivion, though the main appeal still lies in the warm atmosphere and excellent chemistry between the characters — extravagant and idealistic without becoming impossible to relate to. Entertaining small details, like Yaya’s bandmates talking through the mic to butt in on her conversations and Sally-sensei’s rant about education containing a completely random mention of her love for macaroons only serve as the cherry on the cake. Let’s see if HaNaYaMaTa can do the impossible and keep up its humble charm with what seems to be a more dramatic episode next week.

Marlin: This show has nailed all the great hallmarks of good ‘girls in a club’ shows. There’s actual tension in whether Hannah will be able to achieve her dreams through the club. The characters have great chemistry and compliment for each other’s weaknesses. They also have pretty strong secondary characters. In any other show, Sally would have broke down immediately, but sticking to her guns showed she has her own motivations aside from being the authority behind their endeavors. She also had a few good jokes that let us know her better. The animation seemed to take a bit of a dive, but it’s still as pretty as ever, and its the combination of all these factors that keep this show fresh every week.

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Barakamon
Episode 6

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

Watching: Aquagaze, EuricaeriS, Marlin

Aquagaze: The calligraphy aspect of Barakamon has always been its least interesting part to me, but I appreciate any show that knows how to present a nuanced message, which is the exact conclusion this episode seems to clock in on. Kousuke isn’t a particularly outstanding addition to the cast, but his contributions do create some interesting character moments for Handa. Furthermore, the jokes remain charming as ever, with Naru’s hard-bargaining seashell mafia being a particular standout this week. It doesn’t quite live up to the atmosphere of Bunny Drop or the hilarity of Yotsuba&!, but Barakamon more than justifies its existence with a snappy style and talented cast.
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6 thoughts on “The Roundup: Summer 2014 Volume 5

  1. Sabagebu! – Certainly didn;t live up to the Apocolype Now referenced show last week but that last third was incredibly amusing. But don’t you think if we got too much Momoka backstabbing, lack of morality and just sheer greed and narcissism the show would be stale too soon? (I dont think so either) Anyhow cute girls in Yakuza get-ups riddling eachother with bullets and selling each other out is just fab. Each episode should end with someone, or a mix of characters fake dead.

    Barakamon – Naru with the tats just killed me. You know I’m actually curious about calligraphy now. I clearly don;t understand it or it’s importance in Japan but the fact he wants to make it his own does ring true to many things we do in life. Anyhow Naru and Hina are just too much. The silent consolation. ROFL

    Akame ga Kill! – So I “marathoned” the frist five eps and so glad I did. Damn I love shows that don’t give a fuuuuuuuuuck about secondary characters and love showing bodies getting severed in two. Seyru is one crazy bitch. Fucking nuts. Those faces and her “total justice” (is that right?) are ripe for more insanity. Yes and I like the dynamic that the characters know what they do is wrong, and that they could die and that they understand this. Surely they are suffering mentally but that’s ok. That was one hell of a battle with Mine and Seele.

    Aldnoah.Zero – Inaho is ceratinly reaching Mahouka levels (forgot the main protags name, whatever). But I don’t care what you guys say, I’m still enjoying the show (in a mindless, zombie like way). =P

  2. FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK. I hope Mein or Tatsumi take her down one of these days, ONE OF THESE DAYS!!!

    god damn that was horrifying, I knew someone would bite it (no pun intended) because they were all teigu users, but WHY SHEELE?!!! ;_; Now I won’t be able to hear Noto Mamiko’s beautiful voice. Koro sprouting arms and going berserker was kind of shocking, but did get a load of those pearly whites…sheesh those are like freaking shark teeth. DAT FREAKING DOG, MY GAWD!

    and then were the hidden mods after Sheele sliced off Seryu’s limbs. Seryu is a fucking Lawful Good nut if she truly believes hers and the empire’s action are “justice” she’s like freaking Robocop (lol) with all those body modifications…and that last one, ugggghhh..PLEASE HURRY UP AND DIE!

    I hope she gets put down big time, meanwhile I’ll be now shipping TatsumiXLeone (pls dont die nee-san!!!) and S Desu seems to have returned as well, I can only imagine things will get worse from here on out…oy veeeeeeeey!

    • Not going to lie… I was pretty sure Seele was going to die and I still came close to breaking down in tears. WHY indeed. I got out of my chair and paused after she got shot. Just like NOPE, FUCK THIS. DAMN IT. On the one hand I know it’s a great show for making me do that, but still… I doubt Seele is the last member of Night Raid to bite the dust either. Psycho Ice woman is now in town… This mix of casual activity and brutal, but casual murder is hard to take. I’m sure Seele’s weapon will be re-purposed and used against Night Raid as well. I cringe at the thought of who is going to use it next.

      On another note, yes that dog is absolutely terrifying.

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