The Roundup: Winter 2015 Volume 8

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In this week’s installment…

Set your fun levels to ZERO as Death Parade brutally concludes its two part murder mystery, Yatterman reminds you that your childhood heroes are dead, and both Maria and Yurikuma throw in a few rape attempts to round things out. Good times!

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 21

Thursdays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, Marlin

Gee: Things come full circle this week as our plucky crew of underpaid and overworked animators manage to ship their first episode on time. Lots of parallels with Shirobako’s debut episode, which in and of it self, might be a comment on the nature of the beast. Everyone knows stock footage is an inevitable aspect of anime, but Shirobako plays it so in your face that it’s quite apparent that they want you to notice. Much of the episode continues to play with the theme of personal motivation, and why one chooses to get into such an ignoble craft. This plays into the other subplot of Aoi’s handling of Hiraoka’s rather prickly demeanor. Guys like Hiraoka are depressingly common in the industry. A lot of people come into it, eyes full of wonder and optimism. It’s sad how easily those aspirations can be crushed by the often soulless machinations of creative production. It doesn’t excuse his actions nor justify his unprofessional behavior, but I can’t help but empathize with his mentality. It’s one that often preys at my subconscious in my darker moments. I’m curious as to what Shirobako’s endgame is though. With only a few episodes left, some serious time dilation will be required if we want to see the entire production. Otherwise, we’re going to get an, “The adventure goes on…” sort of ending.

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Garo: The Animation
Episode 21

Fridays 12:23 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee

Aqua: So… Lemme get this straight. Mendoza is somehow still alive and wants to unleash an ancient über-Horror, which would summon a bunch of regular Horrors in the process. The Makai Order is willing to play along with this because it would allow them to kill a lot of Horrors. Somewhat horribly utilitarian, okay, but I’m still following. That is, if Garm didn’t confirm right after this revelation that the number of Horrors is basically indefinite and killing a lot of them would do, well, jack shit to stop the larger Horror threat. There will always be Horrors. What kind of drugs is Garm even on to think this is a remotely good idea? Anyways, the episode wasn’t really about Garm’s corrupt logic more than it was about Germán’s non-existent motives for supporting it. Most of the screentime is filled up with León squaring off against his father, delivered with the exact amount of Freudian subtlety expected from a show where dudes in golden armours with big swords fight tentacle monsters with breasts. Obviously, something’s not quite right with Germán’s sudden transformation into a Gen Urobuchi antagonist and as soon as León figures out there’s gotta be some more pieces to this puzzle, the episode picks up significantly, with awesome action choreography and heartwarming flashbacks. While a bit wonky in the execution department (a Yasuko Kobayashi staple), Garo is easing into its final stretch with grace. It remains to be seen if it can keep its excellent combination of plot twists and strong action up to the very end.

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Death Parade – Fun Levels at ZERO

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Death Parade
Episode 9

Fridays 1:30 pm EST on Funimation

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

Artemis: I’m still not a fan of Death Parade’s whole crime drama thing, but this episode was markedly better than the previous one – albeit even more melodramatic and theatrical at times than that very first episode. While I don’t necessarily think there was enough content to warrant a two-episode story in the first place, this one was by far the stronger of the pair; overblown, yes, but also better paced and with a conclusion that I actually really liked. With the notable exception of 6, Death Parade has always showcased some of the very worst of humanity, and it would have felt hollow and profoundly unconvincing had our unnamed assistant actually managed to persuade Shimada to ultimately put aside his grief and rage. I found the scene during the end credits as we witness the happy memories of Shimada and his sister, overlaid with his brutal stabbing of the air hockey pucks, to be the most compelling and emotionally affecting of the entire story.

Jel: I have to hand it to Death Parade, the story itself for this arc was not their best work and yet they channeled all the melodrama and over the top bombast into arguably the most compelling scene in the series. Crashing down from a bizarre, brutal, slow motion murder into The Assistant softly punching away at a stunned Decim is one of those moments that sticks with you for awhile. In the bigger picture, we’ve all been questioning Death Parade’s sense of justice since Day 1 and it appears the show itself is finally agreeing. There’s always been hints and suggestions that this may not be the best way to go about judging people’s entire existence, but it’s never been this explicitly stated. The Assistant has always been our human window into this weird version of purgatory, and it felt great to have her finally say some of things we’ve all been thinking. With that piece in place, you can’t help but think this moment was part of Nona’s plan all along and I am really excited to see how the story progresses from here.

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Log Horizon II
Episode 22

Saturdays 7:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Gee, Iro, Marlin, Timmy

Iro: This episode was a lot of faffing about and establishing weird lore shit that won’t even be important for the like two episodes left in this season. Basically it seems that the moon is the key to returning home (as if that was not obvious when they went there after dying and saw all their memories from the Earth), which could be an interesting hook if the end goal is now about developing society to the point of space travel. Not that we’ll see that, since next week looks to be a filler episode about Isaac. Oh boy.

Marlin: It sure feels like Log Horizon is wasting a lot of time considering how much ground it has to cover compared to how many episodes we have left. It might be that we have to settle for another non-ending like season one, but I really hope it doesn’t, as that was by far the most disappointing part of the first season. It just seems so out of place after all this drama and action to have another episode of “wacky” slice of life time. I definitely don’t see the point of focusing on Lenessia’s brother, whose very existence is a bit of a head scratcher. Unless it’s just the backdrop for finally showing the war that has been brewing between Lander nations it seems utterly pointless.

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Maria the Virgin Witch – Insert “Unlimited Blade Works” joke here

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Maria the Virgin Witch
Episode 9

Sundays 9:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Aquagaze, Gee, Jel, Marlin

Jel: I almost turned this off a few minutes in. I wasn’t sure if Galfa was actually intending to rape Maria and got interrupted or if he really was just going to use that magic gas attack thing, but regardless of intent the entire scene was gross and unnecessary. Instead of supporting the thematic idea of her virginity representing innocence/naivete, it felt like a cheap way to get an emotional response from the audience. At least it wasn’t Cross Ange? I also found Bernard’s breakdown totally bizarre and out of character. There’s nothing we’ve seen at this point to suggest he was due for a crisis of faith. About the only thing that made sense is Viv’s showdown with Michael, which manages to stay on topic at least. I’m come too far to quit now, but I have to say my interest in the rest of the series is dwindling.

Marlin: Yeah, this episode was super gross, no other way about it. It was just the most cheap way to generate massive drama. Considering the rape ended up not happening the whole scene just feels exploitative, that the effect could have been achieved just as well by having her be captured normally. I’m also not sure why everyone is so certain that Maria will make out of this alive. The English burned Joan of Arc for the gall of being an enemy combatant and an empowered woman. Why would the French show mercy to an actual witch? For presenting the medieval clergy as mostly monsters up to this point it’s assuming a lot of actual right teaching in this decision. I suppose this could be going back to the possibility of this younger priest being a much more reasonable man of faith. Speaking of that, Bernard is just getting insulting levels of ridiculous as the show goes on. I half expected him to try and rape her as well with how crazy he’s become as this show goes on.

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Yatterman Night
Episode 9

Sundays 10:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Gee, Iro, Jel, Marlin

Jel: File this episode under the “how did I not see this coming” category. Having done some homework after watching, I probably would have picked up the cues on Gallina’s character development a lot faster if I was familiar with the original. There was no mistaking where they were headed as soon as he put on a mask though, and I have to say I’m impressed with how they built him up to be the true successor to Yatterman. Usually in the these stories the hero stumbles into power from the get go, but in this case he’s slowly been learning and becoming more and more competent to the point where you feel like he deserves it. The Mach 5 cameo was totally out of left field, but instead of a shameless nostalgia grab it made for a nice sprinkle of melancholy when you considered the owners were long past… OK still probably a shameless nostalgia grab, but in a show like Yatterman Night I say more power to them.

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Yurikuma Arashi – Apparently this is the only way anyone can communicate in this series

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Yurikuma Arashi
Episode 9

Mondays 1:30 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Artemis, Aquagaze, Jel, Marlin, Zigg

Jel: I have to say this is the first episode that elicited emotion from me. As horrible as Yuriika’s actions were, I felt kind of bad for her as she lay dying. It doesn’t excuse her, but in the end she was just heartbroken and alone. Ginko has also become more interesting as her actions – or inactions, in this case – might not be that much better than Yuriika’s, and yet I’m finally starting to pull for these crazy kids to work things out. There was always something really fake and staged about Kureha’s “romance” with Sumika, but with Ginko it feels like a real primal desire that doesn’t even need words. I mean come on, they even conjured a character to represent that feeling so it’s got to be pretty significant, right? Getting me to sympathize with severely flawed characters is one of things that impressed me in Ikuhara’s fantastic Penguindrum and it’s the first time in Yurikuma’s run I willing to make that favorable comparison.

Marlin: This is by far the strongest episode yet. Yurikuma is at its best when the Ikuhara-ness oozes from every corner. Despite being more gratuitous than it’s been in a long time, the show manages to get across a few themes that it’s been establishing from the beginning. Foremost among those is the idea that romantic love cannot exist without desire, and that this desire can consume the heart. I’m happy for anything that would bring Yuirzono back but this was absolutely perfect, as her voice is perfect for the sultry personification of that desire in Ginko. We always see the love between Sumika and Kureha as some kind of impossibly pure thing, and that by acting through her desire Ginko was truer to her love than either of the two actually were to each other. Later, nothing quite encapsulates this show quite as much as Life Sexy watching some girls do it while explaining the mechanism for mob mentality. Also a huge shoutout to whoever thought that the class leader should say “Let’s Search Bear!” as I was in stitches.

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