The Roundup: Winter 2015 Volume 5

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In this week’s installment…

As we hit the midpoint of the season, all our shows put on their hardhats, grab a lunch pail, and go about their business as usual… well, all the shows except Death Parade, which decides to re-invent itself yet again.

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

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders / Gundam: Reconguista in G / Assassination Classroom / The Rolling Girls / Gundam Build Fighters Try / Kamen Rider DriveParasyte – The Maxim / Your Lie In April / Durarara!! x2

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Shirobako
Episode 18

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, Marlin

Aqua: Shirobako episodes have been uncharacteristically focused these last few weeks, with each episode focusing on one particular aspect of the anime production process. As a result, Aoi has been sidelined a bit, but our favourite stress-prone production assistant makes a shining return in this week’s episode, which brings the show back to its endearing roots. Once again, Aoi is in the same position she was in at the beginning of the show, juggling various tasks and challenges and dealing with the infuriating incompetents responsible for most of the bile we spew here on a daily basis. It’s arguably this sheepish justification aspect to Shirobako that makes it so appealing – The show loves the art of anime to bits, but it’ll be the first to admit that usually, anime kind of… sucks. Even more so than patting itself on the back and demanding respect for the hard working lads and lasses bringing us the shows we so dearly love and/or hate, it asks for the viewers’ sympathy by showing just how easily the brittle microcosm of anime production falls apart. It’s about the closest anime has gotten to satire since The Legend of Koizumi.

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Garo: The Animation
Episode 18

Fridays 12:23 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee

Aqua: Glad to hear I was pretty much spot-on in my assessment of León’s complicated relationship with revenge in a world without Lara. Luckily, show runner Yasuko Kobayashi needs quite a bit fewer words than yours truly to get her point across. All León needs to reassure himself he won’t make the same mistake twice is a clenched fist and a fight against his own shadow, leaving the back half of the episode open for a visually stunning fight between him and Alphonso. I do have my questions about the rather anticlimactic resolution to León’s redemption arc. For starters, having him bump into Aphonso and politely ask his armour back isn’t exactly the most heroic way to get León back in the gold, and with his demotion back to Gaia without an existential crisis of his own, I’m getting a bit worried Alphonso will be demoted to the sidelines as Garo heads into the home stretch. Furthermore, the ending was just bizarre, with Germán randomly walking in on the son he had to abandon to explain Mendoza is still alive. I can understand the man was happy to just have found a new love, but geez, cut the kids some slack. A post-credits teaser would’ve been far more exciting, but in the end, it’s the meat on the bones that matters. How and why did Mendoza come back, and why is he on the Makai Order’s side now? I know you like your share of swashbuckling, Garo, but for the love of all that is holy, don’t go all Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End on us.

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Death Parade – Raising the bar for sexy school girl action

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Death Parade
Episode 6

Fridays 1:30 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Artemis, Euri, Iro, Jel, Marlin

Artemis: This week’s Death Parade saw Decim and his assistant take the back seat to make room for Ginti to strut his stuff (and his attitude). Mostly light-hearted and silly, with only a few brief moments of horror mixed in to keep us on our toes, I was pleased to see Death Parade managing to carry off its more idiotic scenes with a certain amount of flair, and without coming across as trashy or fanservicey despite the panty shots – now there’s something I thought I’d never say! While perhaps not the most compelling of episodes, it was still plenty entertaining, and the short after-credits scene especially so. Really, the only aspect of this episode that niggled at me was Harada and his sexual exploits; not because I found his actual character that off-putting, but rather because as anyone with even a vague familiarity with the Japanese idol industry will know, employees are usually kept on a creepily short leash.

Aqua: Death Parade loves reinventing itself and this episode is no different, showing off just how much worse new guests could have it ending up to be judged by anyone other than Decim. Unlike the Machiavellian but devoted Decim, Ginti only seems to care about the means to the point where we don’t even get to see his final judgement. He’s only in it to see people suffer, but luckily, the contestants this week are so vivid they more than make up for Ginti’s misanthropy. In loud contrast to the psychological horror of previous games, this episode showed that Death Parade‘s view on humanity might not be so grim after all. Filled with outrageous humour and vibrant performances, it did the exact opposite of what the previous games meant to convey: It took two unpleasant, unlikeable caricatures and made them more and more endearing with every comedic freakout. Squealing, gaudy fangirl Mayu steals the show thanks to Atsumi Tanezaki’s enthusiastic performance, but it’s the two-faced playboy Harada who’s the true hero — being the first Death Parade contestant to resist his… uhm, urges and to redeem himself in the most hilariously over-the-top way imaginable. It’s as atmospheric and alienating as Death Parade has ever been, but in a completely different way than the one we’re used to. Whether its hilarious, heartwarming, unfair, cripplingly depressing, agonizing or complex, Death Parade is never not close to life in its portrayal of death.

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Log Horizon II
Episode 19

Saturdays 7:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee, Iro, Marlin, Timmy

Marlin: Man, this show keeps yankin’ my chain. We start out with a badass shot of Nyanta about to go into action, and then we don’t see him for the majority of the episode. I can’t be mad at the reasons why though, as things finally start to unravel about the Odyssey Knights true goals. Sure, it’s messed up, but it’s nice of the show to finally tackle the issue of the real trauma that would be caused by losing everything you cared about. The people of the Knights are those that had a reason to live, or at the very least responsibilities that they worry about. What’s united most of our star characters has been the opposite, that the game was an escape from the drudgery of their normal lives. This is where Tohya makes the greatest case for those who have accepted their new world. For him, he can realize a freedom that was robbed from him in the real world. As a non-MMO player, the power leveling stuff was a little over my head, so I do hope we learn a bit more about that next episode, and actually get the Nyanta fights I was wanting.

Iro: There was some genuine emotion lurking about in this episode, particularly when Tohya confronts the Odyssey Knights. As far as I can remember, this is the first time Log Horizon has actually tackled the issue that some people didn’t want to be trapped in another world. To an average person who only played Elder Tale as a hobby, it would be one hell of a nightmare. It makes a kind of morbid sense that they’d want to repeatedly die, because that’s the only way to regain any semblance of the real world. Unfortunately, my interest couldn’t help but wane as Roe2 started spouting a bunch of incomprehensible magibabble, and DEEEEEEEEN’s crap budget meant that even the action scenes weren’t terribly interesting to watch. It looks like next week will finally feature Nyanta actually doing something, so I’m at least looking forward to that.

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Log Horizon – Who you gonna call?

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Maria The Virgin Witch
Episode 6

Sundays 9:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, Jel, Marlin

Jel: This is the first episode that made me question to what extent Maria is being selfish with her actions. I always felt her motives were good, but her bratty attitude implied she also just doesn’t like doing what she’s told. In this case though I started to wonder if she was going to skip out of a battle just because the boy she likes told her not to. She was certainly thinking about it which means that angle has a little bit of weight, but I was glad to see she ultimately went with her own instincts. With that aside my next worry is that Bernard is skirting dangerously into cartoon villain territory now that he knows Maria’s weakness, but even he seems to be struggling with the same gray areas that she is. Maybe they can still work everything out? What can I say, I’m an optimistic guy.

Marlin: Well this episode was a bit of a letdown. Bernard has acted perfectly reasonably so far, but now we have him hear one thing and he starts to head straight into hammy crazy person dialogue. It was also super inappropriate that Galfa is apparently relaying this message via confessional booth. It feels like the show was just waffling around the same issue again as different people keep trying to interpret how “an end to wars” could actually happen. The idea is so farcical that I really feel it needs to be downsized to “wars in France”. Michael already noted that conflict happens everywhere, and that Maria cannot stop everything. Then again, Maria’s argument is that if she can stop the suffering of some people it is still worth it. That is why it’s good to see she doesn’t let her crush get in the way of her actual goal. I’m not sure what is happening with Ezekiel though, as I still don’t even get her existence. If she’s supposed to be an agent of heaven, why does she have the ability to have doubts about her actions? It’s very incongruous to the idea of the true nature of heavenly beings.

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Yatterman Night
Episode 6

Sundays 10:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Gee, Iro, Jel, Marlin

Gee: Yatterman Night hedges towards the more grim end of the scale this week, but not as far as episode four, though most certainly not as silly as last week. Overall, I think I enjoy Yatterman Night the most when it’s balancing the uplifting and the bleak. The world Leopard and her gang live in is a cruel one, no denying that. But with dogged determination and an unyielding sense of justice, it seems that even the most downtrodden people of the world can be inspired to fight back. We’re only halfway through the season, but Yatterman Night is easily one of my frontrunners for the show with the most heart. With the gradual reveals of the details concerning Gorou, I have a feeling some of the various threads the anime has been spinning are going to start coming together soon.

Iro: With episode four being a massive downer and episode five being completely silly, Yatterman goes back to a sort of middle ground this week, albeit leaning a bit further towards the optimistic end of the scale. The dystopia tropes are out in full swing, as usual, with the Yattermen capturing Galina and stringing him up to a cross just to prove a point to the already downtrodden populace. I’m probably not rooting for any other anime protagonists harder than Doronbow this season, and their defiant denouncing of the Yatterman rule was a truly uplifting moment. We’re already halfway through the season, so I can only imagine that this week marked the beginning of our heroes’ true offensive.

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Yurikuma Arashi
Episode 7

Mondays 1:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Artemis, Aquagaze, Jel, Marlin, Zigg

Jel: I continue to be astounded at how simple Yurikuma seems to be. Ginko’s backstory presented no surprises whatsoever, if maybe exaggerating her role in the war against humans further than I expected. It was also pretty clear who played what role in Kureha’s mother’s story and I was surprised how explicitly they spelled it out anyway. Plot aside the presentation stole the show as it does every episode. Ginko’s flashback was hilariously disturbing and I got a good laugh out of the bear shaped snow cone machine. With the three main girls’ backstories covered and what seems like a pretty straightforward path for the plot to follow, we’ll have to see what twists lie ahead in the second half of the series.

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2 thoughts on “The Roundup: Winter 2015 Volume 5

    • I keep going back and forth between Yatterman and Death Parade as my favorite. Not sure if you’re watching that, but it’s been really great so far.

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