The Roundup: Winter 2015 Volume 6

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In this week’s installment…

Garo gets deep, Yatterman is even sillier than usual, and Death Parade almost helps me overcome my completely healthy and logical fear of mannequins… almost.

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 / Yurikuma Arashi

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Shirobako
Episode 19

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, Marlin

Marlin: Continuing on Shirobako’s neverending quest to create a faux documentary of the animation industry, this time we get a flashback to how things were like in the days of physical cel animation. I’m not sure why Aoi would think anything about this era would be easier considering a lot of the developments of the digital age make going through the work that goes into cels incredibly easier. Still, it’s fascinating to get a glimpse into how animation used to be made, and the show seems to be using it to push a message of keeping yourself passionate no matter what. In such a rigid work environment it’s also heartening to see them encouraging the idea of newcomers expressing their ideas. It’s also a haunting reminder of how easily things can fall apart. I wonder how much of this is a lesson and how much might be foreshadowing. If things get harder for the gang I’m not sure how they’ll finish this show on time.

Gee: I’ve often bemoaned how ignorant some people can be about the trials that go into any creative endeavor, and Shirobako continues to be a shining bastion in offering some perspective on it all. The theme of this week’s episode is a tremendously important one to anybody in a creative profession, that being the inherent nature of the beast itself. Everyone goes into the industry full of passion and dreams. They want to believe they can create something truly special and use their talents to the best of their ability. Alas, the actual industry itself, whether it be animation, games, vfx, etc. is always a far harsher world. The burnout rate for the games industry is unbelievably high, and I would not be surprised if the animation industry was similar. So in an industry that’s more than willing to chew you up and throw you away, why do it? That’s the question Shirobako asks of its characters, and the conclusion is one of the most heartfelt moments I’ve seen in an anime this season.

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Garo: The Animation
Episode 19

Fridays 12:23 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee

Aqua: Far too many joke about their main character’s perceived virginity but few make it an actual interesting character trait to be fleshed out. Probably due to his father’s lecherous ways, León’s general discomfort with all thing sexual has been chasing him ever since he met the teasing femme fatale Ema, and with her backstory revealed at last this episode, the tension between both characters has reached an irreversible new high. With tragedy, terror and tremendous action choreography, this was one of Garo’s absolute strongest episodes to date, addressing complex, bleak themes anime hardly ever touches on and developing León further even after his watershed catharsis, without making him outshine Ema in her own spotlight episode. It all culminates in a ‘controversial’ ending that’s bound to make the vilest shit-spewers the anime fandom have to offer to rear their heads, but to me it’s a hook-up that makes perfect sense in light of León’s and Ema’s prior interactions. It’s all too human for two people who’ve just lost the ones they hold dearest to end up with each other. Makes more sense than 90% of other anime romances.

Gee: FUCK YEAH BEST GIRL WINS

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Death Parade – Somehow not creepy, I promise.

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Death Parade
Episode 7

Fridays 1:30 pm EST on Funimation

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

Artemis: Death Parade just keeps going from strength to strength, constantly providing food for thought without ever losing any of its entertainment value. This latest episode was a quieter and more contemplative one after last week’s shenanigans, and while I think every single character got a look-in, it didn’t feel rushed or slapdash. No doubt the reappearance of idol fangirl Mayu alongside an intensely irritated Ginti has caused some speculation as to the exact circumstances behind their continuing appearance together, although I personally found myself more drawn into Decim’s role in the story this time around. With the revelation that his mannequin-making habit is actually his way of respecting and remembering the deceased, the classic ‘creepy doll’ imagery that’s such a mainstay of the supernatural horror genre was turned on its head to become something quite touching, and added a very human element to an ostensibly inhuman character.

Aqua: How odd that pretty much the only Death Parade contestant to date with not a single sinful hair on her body is the one who can’t be judged. Seems that Ginti is harbouring on a bit of a crush on Mayu, though I do wonder if her unique situation will have something to do with assistant girl’s role in all this. Now it’s turned out Decim is unique amongst the artificial arbiters because he had human emotions implanted — however Kingdom Hearts that may sound — I can’t help but wonder if her arrival was part of Nona’s plan in the first place. With the overarching lore element becoming ever more prevalent, Death Parade might be setting up something much bigger than the episodic character-driven show we’ve learned to love. Are all the random quirky characters getting added to the cast just there for comic relief, or do they have an honest role to play? Who made the arbiters in the first place? And what is Nona even up t– Oh dear, I’m doing that thing where I ask a bunch of rhetoric questions again, am I not?

Jel: Congratulations Death Parade, you have circumvented my completely justified fear of mannequins by somehow making Decim’s creepy hobby endearing. That particular revelation was a good emotional payoff and nicely demonstrates the fruits of Nona’s experiment, which is really what this episode was about. I find it interesting how this version of the afterlife has all the moving parts and processes of an actual large company or government agency and doesn’t rely too heavily on “magic” or whatever to get things done. It makes you feel like whatever Nona’s endgame is, she could actually accomplish real change in what has been a flawed system up until now. There are rules but they still need someone to enforce them, and so far no one seems to be too concerned with that. The fact that we now have two arbiters with semi-permanent guests and zero consequences only further reinforces that anything goes and I love Death Parade all the more for it.

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Log Horizon II
Episode 20

Saturdays 7:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee, Iro, Marlin, Timmy

Iro: Log Horizon‘s recent focus on the philosophical implications of being trapped inside a video game unfortunately leads to a higher reliance on “light novel dialogue”. Londark’s speech about quests and manuals manages to be incredibly annoying and not too much else, and Mizufa is such a generic blood knight villain that it’s hard to take her seriously, even though she presents more valid points. On the bright side, we get a proper animation bump for once to highlight Nyanta’s skills, which unfortunately does not stick around for Isuzu’s song. Her character bits in this arc have been perhaps the most interesting bits, and I can’t help but be disappointed at the reliance on stock footage for her character climax.

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Log Horizon – Wait, DEEN has a budget?

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Maria The Virgin Witch
Episode 7

Sundays 9:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, Jel, Marlin

Jel: I’m kind of disappointed how Maria has changed from a completely unknown wild card to establishing and following a fairly predictable path. Lots of important developments both character and plot wise happened this week, but there was a certain inevitability to it all that seemed to dampen the excitement. Maria has been warned every episode of the consequences of her actions, so it’s no surprise when she finally gets hit by them. Ezekiel’s decision to miss is not surprising either as it has been pretty clear she’s grown attached to Maria and her familiars. I guess we can officially confirm Galfa is a bad dude after some good ol’ fashioned cold blooded murder and Bernard is not far behind him. Fortunately the preview for next week seems pretty interesting as I get the impression Maria loses her powers, so we’ll see if things improve.

Marlin: Finally, we see some consequences come Maria’s way for testing Michael’s word. Of course, this wouldn’t be much of a story if Maria died here, so Ezekiel’s sympathy gives our hero another chance. I thought we were going into a dark place once the mercenaries found her, but thankfully that was resolved in time. Viv saving Maria was a good way of bringing that character development to fruition. It seems strange that Maria has spent all this time and yet only now is she meeting angels or talking with other witches about her aims. Many of the witches seem to hold the pragmatic view that war is an inevitability when people are unable to settle differences, and I wonder if this will finally have an effect on how Maria views her part to play in this war. Now that her meddling has caused trouble for the French side, I wonder if Bernard is finally going to show his stripes as the villain. With next episode being Man is a Wolf to Man, I can’t imagine it will be a cheery one.

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Yatterman Night
Episode 7

Sundays 10:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Gee, Iro, Jel, Marlin

Iro: Yatterman seems to be alternating off between serious and silly, and this week was most definitely silly. Luring Doronbow into a giant mechanical turtle was perhaps the stupidest plan we’ve seen the entire show, and the masochistic fisherman Ryu is even more ridiculous than Takeshi and his urinary tract disorder. The running theme in the show seems to be defiant optimism, and this still applies even though Ryu’s motivation is to have, uh… relations with various fish. More interesting is the clear implication that Goro and his robot dog are related in some way to Galina and Allouette, which was basically the only hint of plot this episode. Otherwise, I mostly just find myself wondering how dark next week is going to get…

Marlin: Not much to add that iro hasn’t about freaky fish guy other than another week, another incredibly engaging episode of Yatterman. Whether that be engaged by the story or engaged by the comedy, it has not failed me yet. Keen eyed geography nerds like myself might have caught that the map on Goro’s GPS device confirms that the Yatter Kingdom is actually modern day Hokkaido. Even more sharp eyed people would have probably already pieced that together from the “Seikan Tunnel Guide” the group used to get into the Kingdom back in Episode 2.

3 thoughts on “The Roundup: Winter 2015 Volume 6

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