The Roundup: Fall 2014 Volume 4

Aoi is not amused

In this week’s installment…

Most of the Glorio crew returns this week but unfortunately it’s to a mediocre batch of episodes. Marlin and I struggle to stick with SeHa Girls among other shows, but at least Aqua and Gee have Shirobako’s interesting discussion on 2D vs. 3D animation to save this week from being a total wash.

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

Amagi Brilliant ParkGundam Build Fighters TryGundam: Reconguista in G Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade WorksKamen Rider DriveParasyte: The MaximRage of Bahamut: GenesisYour Lie In April

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Akatsuki no Yona
Episode 5

Tuesdays 11:00 am EST on Crunchyroll and Funimation

Watching: Marlin

Marlin: I’m afraid i might lose interest with Yona at the rate the show is going. There’s nothing bad about it so far, the only problem is that the plot seems to be moving far too slowly. I definitely think that the last two episodes could have been put into one without losing much of the overall message they give. It also makes the action at the end of this episode feel a little dragged out, as Hak just keeps swinging away volley after volley trying to make a break for it. as Yona decided to confront the Fire Tribe, I thought we might finally get to see her in action, but next week’s previews seem to imply shes just gonna get herself captured again. I hope that is the last case of her constant damsel in distress mode before becoming the confident woman we saw in that flash forward two episodes ago. If not, I doubt I’ll be able to stick with this show for any longer.

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Hi-sCool! Seha Girls
Episode 5

Wednesdays 10:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Jel, Marlin

Jel: I’m just going to have to accept that this is what SeHa Girls is: a glorified amateur comic strip that has somehow picked up a major licensing deal with Sega and is broadcasting on Crunchyroll. The giddy nostalgia of episode 2’s Virtua Fighter madness was clearly the exception, not the rule, and that makes me really sad. There was almost no reason for this episode to be animated, it could have just as well been a couple kawaiikochan strips except less insightful and funny. Saturn’s search for a pet and her horrible failure at game design got a few slight smirks out of me, but that was about it. I’ll stick with it for now since it’s not exactly a huge time investment, but they’re going to have to step it up to keep me around.

Marlin: This is a hard drop on SeHa Girls. While other shows I’ve had to drop because they just aren’t exciting enough compared to the other offerings this season has, the latest Seha Girls was just insultingly boring, and for a short series to have this many dull episodes is just inexcusable. I could point out all the things that make this show not work, but honestly I don’t think it even deserves the time for that. Just know that it’s terribly failed to keep up with its promising beginning.

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Seha Girls – This caption makes this episode look a lot better than it actually is.

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Argevollen
Episode 17

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee

Gee: The bad guys show up and attack the retreating army, forcing Tokimune to step into the Argevollen yet again. And *gasp*, it was all staged by sneaky businessmen and corrupt generals! Yes, this was all stuff revealed in previous episodes, but the evil businessmen and corrupt generals are starting to sink into cartoonish levels of villainy. Regardless of explanations, the real focus is Tokimune getting back into Argevollen as well as Sanmonji facing the fact that he’s going to have to let Tokimune get into a machine that basically turns you into a screaming maniac. I feel like this was an episode that was theoretically supposed to be very cool, what with cross counters and lots of shouting, but the execution is so cold that it kind of just falls apart. It’s kind of a shame that Argevollen is starting to stumble from its narrow ledge of mediocrity at the finish line. With Tokimune magically being able to control himself in Argevollen, one wonders where they could possibly take the conflict from here.

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GARO: The Carved Seal of Flames
Episode 5

Thursdays 1:23 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Dragonzigg, Gee

Aquagaze: A bit more exposition in this episode, though luckily everyone keeps their clothes on this time. The just a slight bit too long explanation about the Makai order is nothing new, but the revelation that Queen Esmeralda and León’s mother were sisters is, and with the latter’s child struggling to control his inheritance, we might soon see this series devolve into a battle for who will be the true heir of the Golden Knight’s armour. Léon and his dad mostly take this episode off, however, as Zaruba demands his once-every-month share of León’s body, though sadly enough this doesn’t result in any body switching shenanigans. This is a DARK and SERIOUS show, after all. In stead, Alfonso and his new buddy Rafael, the Knight of Defense Gaia, go off on a little monster-of-the-week adventure of their own and it quickly becomes obvious that the young prince is a far better hero than Edge McGrumpypants will ever be. With Alfonso learning of his destiny, father and son arriving at last in Santa Destroy Bard, and Mendoza’s mysterious henchwoman seemingly having a creepy agenda of her own, Garo seems ready to shift into the next gear. By the way, has anyone seen Emma around lately?

Garo - Man, the new Dragon Quest game looks good.

Garo – Man, the new Dragon Quest game looks good.

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Log Horizon II
Episode 5

Saturdays 7:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee, IroMarlin, Timmy

Marlin: Glad Deen could spare a few dollars to have this show be decently animated for a few seconds of the fight this week. It didn’t last very long, but what we got could have been a lot worse. Akatsuki’s character continues to get more and more unlikeable as this show goes on. I think my biggest problem with her is that she still seems to be stuck in the silly role playing mentality of when this was still a game. It’s weird that she calls Shiroe “my lord” still, they’re basically best friends by this point. I hope this lesson she gets from not-persona guy at least gets her out of her annoying mopey funk and back into some more interesting plot developments.

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Psycho-Pass 2
Episode 5

Thursdays 12:50 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze

Aquagaze: Psycho-Pass 2 continues to dig itself deeper with more senseless violence, pointless beating around the bush and unintentional hilarity, as the focus drifts away from Akane onto the cannon fodder Enforcers from Division 2 and 3 who will most definitely not all die a horrible death next episode, no sir. What are they even doing there anyways? What exactly the point is of bringing pretty much the entire police force to an abandoned shipyard to investigate an at best vague hint is beyond me. Yes, you read that right, I’m actually siding with Mika on this one, though her hilarious incompetence reaches near-comedic levels in this episode. Constantly openly defying your superior officer is one thing, but telling on her to your boss like a self-righteous grade schooler is a whole other pair of trousers, and whatever sympathy her trauma following the events of last week’s episode and blatant crush on Yayoi might give her gets swiftly tossed out of the window. Meanwhile, the villain who stole his name from an ill-conceived Sword Art Online/Kill la Kill fanfic has somehow managed to brainwash Inspector Shisui over to his side because of course these women are oh so feeble when you torture them enough; though Saiga comes one step closer to unraveling his needlessly complicated plan, which somehow involves stolen Dominators, robots, holograms, magical drugs, political infiltration and writing ‘toilet’ on every other wall he passes by, by interrogating the arrested politician like an Italian restaurant owner trying to reel you in for lunch. Sadly for Kamui, I’m still not buying the show’s very passionate insistence on him NOT BEING MAKISHIMA GUYS HE IS TOTALLY DIFFERENT, but I don’t think even more senseless cruelty is going to change that fact. Which means you should probably stop doing that, Psycho-Pass. Anyways, Mika finding out that Togane is into drawing 😀 faces on pictures of Akane at least proved interesting enough to keep my attention, so it looks like I’ll be back for another round of lethal Angry Birds-playing next week. God damnit, Psycho-Pass.

Psycho-Pass 2 - Let's put a :D on that face.

Psycho-Pass 2 – Let’s put a 😀 on that face.

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Shirobako
Episode 5

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, Marlin, Jel

Aquagaze: It was initially pretty easy to pass Shirobako off as white-washed self-aggrandizement, but the last few episodes have made me realize that the show deserves a lot more credit than it gets when it comes to its portrayal of the anime industry. Its main achievement is making me revise my long-held assumption that most anime is terrible because the people making it just don’t care. I still maintain that at least some of this is true, but if there is one thing Shirobako has taught me, it’s that anime production has over the years grown into a ticking type bomb of a system in which the screw-ups of a single incompetent can ruin the entire final product, whether its due to inexperience (Tarou) or sheer infantile diva behaviour (the director). Both characters get their comeuppance this episode, and we’re hardly supposed to sympathize with them, but where most shows would end here, Shirobako derives most of its best content from the repercussions of their screw-ups. Five episodes in, the show still manages to keep a close eye on its pitch-perfect blend between glorification and criticism, perhaps best represented by its part perky, part ‘600% done with this shit’ heroine Aoi. I can’t help but compare this approach to P.A. Works’ earlier Hanasaku Iroha, though as opposed to the ever optimistic Ohana (remember when she tried to see the positive side of the guy writing porn about her and her friends?), Aoi does seem to be slowly heading towards a mild nervous breakdown annex identity crisis with all the stressful situations she’s been forced to deal with to create a product that is, obviously and intentionally, rather crappy. Choosing a run-of-the-mill anime rather than an artistic masterpiece as its subject is the cherry on top of Shirobako‘s proverbial cake — allowing for both Aoi’s unconditional, but slowly waning enthusiasm and the director’s passion for all the wrong aspects of the industry to neatly, albeit mostly indirectly, bounce off each other. I wouldn’t be so surprised anymore if Shirobako ends up a bit more mature than we initially perceived it as, so with the confirmation that it will run for a full two cours, I’m looking forward to see what it’ll pull out of its hat next.

Gee: Aqua has done an excellent job of summing up my feelings about the show’s thematic elements. So as the resident artist and animator, I’ll chime in on the parts that really spoke to me. As a 3D animator, the eternal clash between older and newer mediums and their proponents is always a hot topic in the animation industry. As 3D steadily takes over, many feel that hand-drawn animation is a dying craft. Despite being a 3D animator by training, I truly love 2D animation. Hand-drawn animation is how I fell in love with the medium in the first place. I wouldn’t be doing what I am without it. I was pretty impressed by Shirobako’s handling of the topic. The very principles that define animation were honed and perfected in 2D. That said, one can make some truly marvelous things, even 2D, with the assistance of CGI. As any artist will tell you, it’s not about the tools, but the people using them. Overall, it was satisfying to see a deeper look at the internal workings of an animation studio. Like Aqua, I was concerned about a potential glorification or white-washing of the animation industry. Instead we got something a fair bit more nuanced while also showing the explicit consequences of a dysfunctional team. The actions of Tarou and the director are so dreadful that they could bring down an entire team with their bullshit. Despite it all though, there’s that unyielding sense that against all odds, these are people who truly want to create something, no matter how vapid and insignificant it may seem. It’s the dream of any artist, and I guess we’ll see if Aoi can weather the storm.

8 thoughts on “The Roundup: Fall 2014 Volume 4

  1. @marlin they sure take it slowly but from the next episode onward her character will begin to change from desmesal to strongest heroine and also without spoil to you i will just say dont judge what going to happen to yona just by the preview

  2. Log Horizon ep.5:

    These S1 episode 5 subs LOL. They fixed them later on, but they were hilarious xD

    “The target attacked one of our own
    Souji: MURDER HIM

    Dark Souji rises, mwahahaha! that psycho look was badass and dayum Shimono for bringing out Soujicchi’s black-and-white nature, so good! O.O

    those “teachings” *cough* Overskills, are pretty much the capability of using one’s own abilities, after the Catastrophe, in a way that was not intended by the game of Elder Tale. I liked how Souji’s overskill looked, hope we get to see Akatsuki’s one also soon

    Was nice to see some higher production values during this episode

    Disappointed they didn’t actually show Nazuna fighting as well (she actually helped out in the novels) come on use those fucking barriers, they also skimped on the raid which is no good and rightly sucks. They have to revisit it later on.

    Akatsuki’s death scene just as the ED begins to play was done really well imo =3

    And yes, they’re all on the moon reviving.

    also Nazuna too sexy for NHK

    • Chris and I have dropped it. The problems we had the last time it was on the schedule remained mostly intact in the episodes afterwards. Apologies for not making an official dropped post when we did so, The Roundup is more meant to be an easier way to write about shows so we can drop in and out when we’re so inclined.

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