The Roundup: Winter 2015 Volume 7

roundup_07_1

In this week’s installment…

Shirobako somehow makes a character worse than Tarou, Death Parade delivers the crime drama no one wanted, and KUMA SHOOOCK!! We catch up on Yurikuma Arashi during its week off. Yes, I just wanted to say KUMA SHOOOCK!! again. Shabadado.

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

icon_shirobako

Shirobako
Episode 20

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, Marlin

Aqua: Fuck Hiraoka. Damn, I thought we’d had the worst with Tarou and ‘funny story’ guy, but damn, this guy sure went out of his way to take the crown of prime assholeness all for himself, didn’t he? It’s been a while since Shirobako has been so openly snide with the anime industry, but this episode more than made evident its disdain for both passionless jobbers and untalented hacks dragging the medium down in their delusions. It actually quite surprises me it took the show a full twenty episodes to address both workplace sexism and the toxic tradition of more experienced workers getting away with the kind of bullshit Hiraoka pulls. The getting in an actual, physical fight with a higher-up is one thing, but his completely unwarranted accusing Midori of getting to do whatever she wants because of her gender is on a whole different level of Reddit-fueled hypocrisy. It’s an outspoken statement from a show that has never been too shy about telling the rampant sexism in the anime world to go fuck itself, much to the dismay of many a whiny baby who’s undoubtedly throwing a hissy fit about the show’s stigmatization of men standing up for their rights in this matriarchal society as we speak. Best of all, how does Midori respond to this? She cheers herself up by imitating the voices of the people she sees on the train. Bless this show, and bless you for liking it.

Gee: This week’s Shirobako goes in two thematic directions that are somewhat related. The first is the nature of motivation and why the industry’s many talented individuals chose to get into animation. The second is what happens when you have people who aren’t, or even worse, are outright hostile to those who do love what they do. The first is a particularly close subject to me, and I can’t help but respect anyone who decides on getting on the animation ride, whether out of genuine desire or coincidence. There’s little shame in ending up somewhere you didn’t expect when you were young. If you enjoy what you do and you do your damndest to do your best, what more can I ask from you? Hiraoka’s behavior this week is perhaps a perfect counter to that. The kind of bitter entitlement that’s endemic in many a workplace. The kind of guy who hates his job, and then has the gall to wonder why he isn’t getting the props he “deserves.” The conclusion of said outburst was a bit lukewarm for my hopes, but it did solidify Diesel-Chan as one of the best characters in the show. I initially had her pegged as a ditzy pixie dream girl type, but the more I see of her, the more I’m convinced she’s one of the hardest workers in the cast. Not only is she going the extra mile at work, she’s pursuing her own creative goals in her own free time. Now that, is commendable.

roundup_07_2

Shirobako – The worst screenshot

icon_garo

Garo: The Animation
Episode 20

Fridays 12:23 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee

Aqua: Another budget-saving episode this week, but by no means a bad one, as we get confirmation that Mendoza is still very much alive. Blatantly disregarding Germán’s orders — because who listens to that guy anyways — Aphonso, León and Ema try to finish the job they started, but in a shining display of heroic denseness, manage to pick out the exact wrong allies to do so. I never really thought we needed a backstory episode for Octavia, but this brief foray into her past was a nice addition, showing that her allegiance with Mendoza is more than just unconditional devotion. She didn’t just join up with him because he endeared her with his ideas, but because it gives her the chance to strike out against anything or anyone thinking they can claim to protect humans in a world where tragedy still happens every day, be it God or Makai Knight, which is by all means a far better motive. A heartless, but ingenious ploy earns her Alphonso’s trust once again, though the episode’s main event remains the pervasive mystery of why Garm and Germán are supposed to be protecting the obviously still very evil Mendoza. With a fight between father and son inevitable, I’m gonna guess León will more have a few bones to pick with his old man before he’ll bother to ask, though.

Gee: My gut did not like this week’s episode, but I think that was entirely the intent. Octavia is an entirely sympathetic character, despite her villainous motivations. That of course doesn’t justify or explain the frankly abhorrent things she gets away with this week. It’s an ingenious plan and I gotta give her props for such quick thinking, but I have a feeling things are only going to get worse for our heroes from here on out. With German returning to the castle to ostensibly do battle with Leon and Alphonso, it seems that the dozen death flags he’s been triggering over the course of the series are about to come to ahead. I honestly hope that Garo will subvert the sacrificial father figure trope so common in heroic stories like these, but after everything we’ve seen, I fear we’re about to see the conclusion of his character arc.

deathparade

Death Parade
Episode 8

Fridays 1:30 pm EST on Funimation

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

Artemis: This is the first time Death Parade has felt a little underwhelming to me. I blame this mostly on the fact that we were getting only the first half of a two-episode story, whereas every previous story has been confined to a single episode. As a result, the same kind of tension that normally pervades the show simply wasn’t present this time around – I can only assume Death Parade is saving the big guns to be rolled out later. Still, this series is decent enough that even a ‘bad’ episode seems average at worst, and I have faith that things will soon be wrapped up satisfactorily.

Aqua: Oh Death Parade, why do you hate women so? No one got sent to the void for the horrible crime of adultery this time, at least, but in exchange we got two Very Angry Men who ‘did what they had to do’ to avenge the token innocent and pure woman in their lives. Is this a video game now? Anyways, I’m a bit surprised this episode turned out to be a two-parter, though Death Parade‘s strong direction remains ever capable of creating a thrilling atmosphere of discomfort and dread. With a starring role for Quindecim’s gothic vibe and tasteful, appropriately terrifying flashbacks to the two men’s pasts, the show’s visual presentation is as strong as it always has been. However, I can’t help but feel the slow pacing wasn’t fully justified. Unless Decim’s final judgement of the two men triggers some kind of catharsis in him, I don’t see why this story has to be two episodes long. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to see how it is resolved. Revenge is a touchy subject to go around, and a sentiment I wholeheartedly loathe, so here’s hoping Death Parade won’t take too extreme a view on it. Following the show’s logic up until now, both men might as well start packing for a one-way-ticket to the void, but on the other hand, both getting to reincarnate because their crime was unconditionally ‘justified’ might as well be possible, and to be honest, I have no idea which mindset is worse. If you’re gonna get rid of your chauvinistic absolutism, Death Parade, now’d be a good time to start.

Jel: This is just not what I want out of Death Parade. As outlandish as their circumstances have been, there has always been a certain human believability to the guests up until now. This week’s characters feel like lazy stereotypes from a cop drama. As Aqua noted, the manly vengeance angle is lazier still. The fact that it’s being dragged out into two episodes makes things even worse, but Death Parade has been so good up until now they’ve earned a little benefit of the doubt.

roundup_07_3

Maria the Virgin Witch – Nothing more metal than throwing up devil horns with your new robo murder arm

icon_LH

Log Horizon II
Episode 21

Saturdays 7:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee, Iro, Marlin, Timmy

Iro: Fuck you, DEEN. This week’s Log Horizon was an embarrassment, as Studio DEEN saw fit to skip to the aftermath of the battle and not even bother to show us the effects of Isuzu’s super special song that formed last week’s cliffhanger (some cursory Googling tells me that it would have caused the town’s rubble to defend the citizenry, which sounds pretty cool). The party leaving town and hearing children singing said new song would have been a good moment if it hadn’t been lobotomized so heavily by such a massive misstep, Otherwise, it’s the usual arc-end wrap-up stuff and some hints of bigger things going down in the world, particularly involving the “Genius” monsters that seem to be able to take the form of normal people. Alas, with only a few episodes left and no novel material for a third season, I imagine that it’s all a bunch of buildup for things we’ll end up not seeing.

Marlin: While we were denied some pretty sweet effects, Log Horizon never had much of a budget even when it wasn’t under DEEN, so who knows if that scene would have ever been given proper justice. I enjoyed the wrap-up otherwise. I have to wonder if these monsters were created just the same way Rudy was made an adventurer. It would make sense that if a Lander can be converted into an adventurer by changing his subclass, then a Lander could be turned into a monster by changing his subclass as well, or vice versa. Of course, it could be some other kind of shenanigans, but that’s my best bet so far.

 maria

Maria the Virgin Witch
Episode 8

Sundays 9:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, Jel, Marlin

Jel: I was wrong with my guess about Maria losing her powers and what we got might actually be worse. So Galfa and his new Robo-Arm are marching to Maria’s house to go rape her now huh? I was really hoping this series wasn’t going to come to that but I guess they ran out of better angles? As I mentioned last week, Maria has been thematically spinning its wheels for weeks now and it’s sad that this is the best idea they could come up with to advance the plot. I’m confident Galfa won’t succeed so the question will be how much harm he does. They already hinted at how he’s been comparatively kind to Joseph until now, is he going to be collateral damage? I suppose I should wait to pass judgement but I’m feeling wary of where this is headed.

Marlin: Yeah, what was up with the rape implications? I get that this show feels the need to have a villain, but this is taking things to ridiculous levels. Also what kind of dramatic bullshit was that bedside “confession” Bernard put on Martha. Anyone with a vague understanding of Catholic practices would know that confessions are never done in earshot of anyone but the priest and the confessor. Any hope of a fair representation of the good and bad of medieval clergy goes out the window this episode, and it makes the plot of Maria utterly despicable to watch.

roundup_07_4

Yurikuma Arashi – Has anyone NOT fallen in love with a bear yet?

yatterman

Yatterman Night
Episode 8

Sundays 10:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Gee, Iro, Jel, Marlin

Jel: As sad as it was to see Nessie Kussie injured by the Yatter army, this was still a goofy episode overall. I guess someone forgot to flip the switch back to “soul crushing depression” after last week’s incredibly silly outing. I’m OK with that for now though as it gave us time to character build. Leopard’s puppy love crush on Galina kind of came out of nowhere, but I’m glad they kept it cute and harmless. Between that and her catching cold, it was a friendly reminder that she is just a little girl and not really fit to be leading a revolution. With that in mind, I do wonder how the final few episodes are going to pan out. Will Doronbow really skate by on Leopard’s youthful enthusiasm and the support of her friends, or are they just saving the most soul crushing plot twist for last? I suspect General Goro’s ever increasing connection to Alouette will come into play as well, so we have a lot to look forward to as the series wraps up.

Gee: This week’s episode feels like filler for better or worse. Most of it is spent on Leopard’s crush on Galina while Tonzra and Boyacky make funny faces and voices in the background. A lot of it feels unnecessary and kind of redundant. While I’m not going to go as far as say the story went nowhere this week, not a whole ton of new information was established. Even the villainous activity this week feels kinda soft. Like sure, the Yattermen throwing people in jail or rigging fighting tournaments is questionable, but torturing animals just seems comically evil. Hopefully any budget or time saved from this episode leads to greater things to come.

yurikumaroundup

Yurikuma Arashi
Episode 8

Mondays 1:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Artemis, Aquagaze, Jel, Marlin, Zigg

Jel: No new episode of Yurikuma this week so now is a good time to catch up. This was a pretty strong episode as I think all of Ikuhara’s works are at their best when they hit maximum levels of weird and disturbing. That’s certainly how Yurika’s story played out, particularly in the reveal of Kureha’s mother’s fate. It reminded me of Yuri’s flashback episode in Penguindrum with all the talk of purity, but this was still significantly less terrifying. Turning the only adult/authority figure into a villain was not the most exciting turn of events, but I suppose she was pretty inconsequential in the end. Of course I’m not sure replacing one misunderstanding for another to keep Kureha and Gingko apart a little longer is much better, so we’ll see how they resolve things once the show returns.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s