The Roundup: Spring 2015 Volume 5

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In this week’s installment…

We’re at the midpoint of the season and the Balance of Power in The Roundup might be shifting. Arslan, Ninja Slayer, and SNAFU’s stocks are on the rise while Mikagura School Suite, Plastic Memories, and possibly even our beloved My Love Story!! are on the decline. Also, Nagato is still moe.

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 | Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works | Blood Blockade Battlefront | Sound! Euphonium | Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches

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Mikagura School Suite
Episode 6: “Junk Innocence”

Tuesdays 4:35 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Jel, Marlin, Iro

Jel: This episode was all about anti-climaxes and I’m sad to see my favorite little sleeper hit show lose all its momentum. Watching Band Girl get trounced so easily, by someone other than Eruna no less, then having Eruna lose her quarterfinal match off screen were both huge disappointments. For one, it shows that the priority is with Eruna making friends with the other clubs and not her main goal, which means we’re focusing on the the worst part of the series. For proof, look no further than the embarassingly undercooked sub-plot with Art Guy being sad until Eruna harassed him for a few minutes and changed his life. It also feels like they are trying too hard to be unpredictable, which I am all in favor of but you have to pick your spots better. When you build something up as important and then just let it fizzle out you’re not being creative, you’re disappointing your audience. At least Eruna’s new bayonet power is cool, but even that is marred by the animation quality dipping again. I’m really sad things have turned out this way, hopefully we can at least get another cool fight or two before it’s all over.

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My Love Story!!
Episode 6: “My Wish”

Wednesdays 3:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Marlin, Jel, Artemis, Euri

Marlin: The charm is starting to wear a little thin with this show, but like I said before, I’m perfectly content with this staying adorable and inoffensive as long as it doesn’t get insulting. Quick aside, what was up with the sister’s clothes? Looked like a cross between laundry day and Cruella de Vil. I was a little disappointed to see that Yamato’s problems really were as simple as her wanting to be more intimate with Takeo. It’s times like these that I have to take a step back and acknowledge that these kids are only 15. Granted, I knew girls in my middle school who were pregnant, but I get that the average 15 year old might not want to push boundaries when he has no experience. I hope they don’t agonize over the kissing thing for too long. It was a pretty decent sight gag for the final scene, but they can’t just be holding hands forever.

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Ninja Slayer – Sayonara! Origami! Karaoke! Karate!

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Ninja Slayer
Episode 4: “Last Girl Standing, Part 2”

Thursdays 10:00 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Jel, Marlin, Iro, Gee

Jel: I wasn’t wild about some of the depictions of violence against women in the past two episodes, but overall Ninja Slayer has gone in an almost interesting direction. Opening up the potential for allies that Ninja Slayer may have to destroy later adds an extra layer the show could use… or could it? From another perspective, it makes the little cardboard cut out finger puppet animation scenes even more jarring when the show is making any slim attempt to be taken seriously. That will probably be a debate we continue to have throughout the series’ run, but one thing that can’t be argued is the ending songs have been FANTASTIC. That’s just one of several things that I am enjoying about Ninja Slayer, if only they would animate the entire episode…

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The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan
Episode 6: “Over the Obento”

Fridays 2:10 pm EST on Funimation

Watching: Marlin, Euri

Marlin: Another episode, another set of fluff and teasing. Moe levels are staying high so I don’t mind it, but doesn’t really make for riveting analysis.

oregairu

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU TOO
Episode 6: “Without Incident, The Congress Dances, But Does Not Progress”

Saturdays 1:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Marlin

Marlin: In stark contrast, SNAFU once again decides to take a crack at lampooning society. Here, I’m almost tempted to say the partner student council is a parody of Japanese business practices, where talking about making ideas takes importance over actually making new ideas. It could just be a knock on administration in general. Lord knows every sentence out of their mouths sounded like a business motivational speech or congressman’s doubletalk. We’re quickly seeing the ill effects of Hachiman’s success in making a lazy bitch become the student council president. I’m hoping this all ends Richard Nixon style and just have her leave office. Her personality is almost unbelievably terrible and it’s clear her fellow council members hate her. I suppose at the end of the day he was hired to maintain her facade, so we’ll have to see what Hachiman comes up to outmaneuver these morons.

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Plastic Memories – No one invited you, Pushy Mechanic Girl. Please leave.

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Plastic Memories
Episode 6: “Welcome Home, The Both of Us”

Saturdays 2:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Watching: Jel, Marlin

Jel: After dipping its little toe into Cyberpunk Thriller last week, Plastic Memories has sadly reverted back to normal. I guess we’re supposed to think Isla’s interest in Tsukasa is cute and it is to a certain extent, but it’s all carried out in such a cliché manner that it annoyed me more than anything. We’ve got the Mechanic Girl and Rapist Guy acting as the obnoxious, pushy friend characters, Not Asuka Michiru continuing her jealous tsundere schtick, and Isla as the shy girl that doesn’t know what love is. If the author can’t be bothered to write original characters then I can’t be bothered to care. Dropping Isla’s Lifespan Bomb on Tsukasa at the end was hardly the powerful moment it was meant to be either, as the audience has already been aware of the situation for several weeks. I’m so disenchanted by this series I’m tempted to give up on it, but seeing as I’ve made it this far I think I’ll stick it out on the very thin chance it can redeem itself by the end.

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The Heroic Legend of Arslan
Episode 6: “The Royal Capital Burns, Part 2”

Sundays 5:00 am EST on Funimation

Watching: Artemis, Marlin

Marlin: I respect a story that can kill off characters. While no one lost has been incredibly important to the narrative, showing these respected members of the Pars military cut down still effectively shows how dire the situation has become. I’m loving the use of strategy and maneuvering in this siege. While the plausibility of any sized group of people being audible over several hundred yards and through a wall is pretty suspect, connecting the battle back to the social problems in Pars society shows us how even the people we’re supposed to root for are by no means spotless. I’m glad the show made use of nighttime to make its CG models blend in a bit better with their surroundings. While it was still ugly in spots, it went a long way towards masking their use. Considering this episode seems to be bringing the siege to a close, hopefully we won’t be needing them for some time now.

Artemis: I feel like my patience with the deliberate pacing of Arslan is really starting to pay off – this was easily the best episode of the show to date, especially now that most of the main cast has been assembled and are heading off on their own individual story arcs. Arslan may not be a hit for the purely action/adventure fans thanks to the very gradual unveiling of the overall story, but as a historical and political drama, this series is definitely coming into its own. I also have to give it major props for its portrayal of the ongoing bloodshed. There’s a distinct line for me between depicting the realities of war and creating a physically impactful scene, and being overly gory and delivering violence just for violence’s sake; Arslan stays firmly on the right side of that line, which is perhaps more difficult to achieve than it sounds. If this show can continue on in this politically detailed and emotionally-charged vein without sacrificing its subtlety, then I’ll be one satisfied viewer.

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