The Roundup: Spring 2016 Volume 2

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In this week’s installment…

Another round of cuts and me raging about Twin Star Exorcists earlier in the week will have The Roundup looking a bit thinner, but fortunately the return of Sakamoto and a solid performance from the rest of the line up keep things positive.

The Roundup is a weekly guide to all the “other” shows we’re watching this season. Check out our full coverage of: 
Macross Delta | Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable | My Hero Academia | Kiznaiver | Twin Star Exorcists

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Bakuon!!
Episode 3: “Debut!!”

Mondays 12:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: Join in the collective EEEEHHHHHH??? around the Glorio Blog at the big reveal of Stig-senpai’s past. I guess it’s not too surprising since we had a talking motorcycle, but that was just kind of weird comedy thing. This is a legit supernatural element that opens up unlimited possibilities for this show. That said, I don’t forsee things changing a whole lot since the girls are oblivious to it. Would it be fun if we find out those magic wings Hane grew when she took off for her first ride were actually real and then the show turns into some kind of magical girl thing? Maybe, but honestly the show has already been so much fun up to now that I’d rather just carry on as is.

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Bakuon!! – but seriously, 50,000 for what???

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Joker Game
Episode 3: “Miscalculation”

Tuesdays 1:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Artemis: Honestly, I don’t know why Joker Game didn’t lead with something like this from the start. Really it didn’t need the first story involving Sakuma at all because a) the spies themselves make for far more interesting characters and b) the writing comes across as far better when it’s not attempting to come across as ultra-smart or profound and instead focuses simply on being a wartime spy thriller. See, anime that try really hard to be clever but fail annoy me, but I have absolutely no problem with anime that are just out to have a good time, regardless of whether they end up being particularly deep or not. I still don’t know if Joker Game will have all that much going on behind the surface and I’m pretty sure realism isn’t the name of the game here either – but if it’s going to continue being an episodic show, with each mini-story focusing on one of the spies and his adventures behind enemy lines, then I’m all for it.

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Bungou Stray Dogs
Episode 3: “Yokohama Gangster Paradise”

Wednesdays 1:35 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Artemis: Yeah, I can’t do this anymore. It’s a real shame because I could see myself really enjoying this series if the writing was better, but the fact is that it’s ruining almost every other aspect of the show for me. The show whips between (unfunny) comedy and (unconvincing) seriousness so fast that it throws absolutely everything else off, from the pacing to the couple of actually potentially interesting characters. Worse, its attempts to evoke emotion feel not only overly obvious but also just plain cheap. Faced with yet more of the same this episode, along with a heavy helping of clumsy exposition and a bunch more suicide jokes, I’m fine with calling Bungou Stray Dogs a big hot mess and finally giving it the drop.

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Anne Happy – I don’t remember that episode of Yurikuma Arashi

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Anne Happy
Episode 3: “My First Happiness Training”

Thursdays 10:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: I gave it one more week and I think I’m done. On paper this episode sounds amazing: The girls are forced at gun point to play a giant live action game of Mario Party in Timothy the “robot” bunny’s secret underground bunker, all while wearing animal suits. OK, that actually sounds creepy, but it should have at least been interesting, right? Instead the actually execution was pretty dull, with the one note characters following their predictable set patterns, no interesting twists or bits of dialogue that really take advantage of the situation. They could have been playing dodgeball in gym class and I feel like we would have got about the same results. I certainly love the high weirdness level of this show and maybe in lesser seasons I would continue to give Anne Happy a shot, but with plenty of other school comedies to keep me occupied I’m going to have drop out.

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Space Patrol Luluco SEASON 2
Episode 4: “Into the Sky All Alone”

Fridays 10:20 am EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: We’ve seen plenty of anime where the main guy is motivated by trying to get with a pretty girl, but I’m kind of drawing a blank on shows starring a girl who is explicitly motivated by a pretty boy. I’m sure they’re out there, so feel free to remind me. Point is, I find that to be the most interesting aspect of Luluco. Sure it looks great and the humor has just the right amount of stupid – see this week’s blast off into space for example – but how often does anime give us a plausible look into the hormone addled mind of an adolescent girl? Throw in the most bodacious space pirate mom since the mom from Bodacious Space Pirates and I’m starting to wish this was a full length series.

Aqua: Look, I’d watch this show even if it were 22 minutes of bad space puns just to get to that ending, but even so it’s not too far of a stretch to say that Luluco is one of the best anime shorts we’ve ever seen. It plays to Trigger’s strengths without getting too stuck in the pattern to reveal their weaknesses and uses its, errm, ‘plot’ in function of its jokes, rather than the other way around, which is exactly how a seven-minute-long series should handle its plot. I’m not a big fan of space pirate mom’s design in what is otherwise a fairly family-friendly affair – did she rob that getup from Amagi Brilliant Park? – but hey, after Erased and BBK/BRNK, I’m all for a continuation of the Year of Cool Anime Moms.

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Space Patrol Luluco – 2016: Year of the Cool Anime Moms

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The Lost Village
Episode 4: “Yottsun’s Drowning”

Fridays 9:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Aqua: The heads have finally started rolling, so what does The Lost Village do? Why, go back to inconsequential ramblings about every topic under the sun, of course! While its glacial pacing and dull characters continue to work against it, the sheer absurdity of this show remains something to be seen. Characters switch moods at the drop of a hat, new ‘mysterious’ scares are written in at a whim and even after four episodes, I think not even The Lost Village itself knows what the hell it wants to be. Is it a mysterious gothic horror story? A thriller? A nihilistic comedy? A soap opera? The hysterical brainchild of a raving hack who hasn’t talked to a live human being in twenty years? Whatever it may try to be, it is failing miserably at it. It’s too uninspired (Scary monsters! Creepy dead children!) to be unsettling, but too competently made to be utterly perishable. So I can’t help but watch and see what the hell it is trying to do.

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Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto
Episode 2: “I’d Rather Protect Than Be Protected | Psychological Techniques for Romance That You Can Use Today”

Saturdays 1:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Artemis: This is frustrating – Sakamoto is the kind of anime that should be funny simply on the grounds that the jokes are so stupid, but since the pacing is so slow, the delivery lacks any kind of comedic punch. Personally I think it would work much better as either a collection of much quicker sketches or just in a 5-10 minute episode format, because the absurdist humour is completely offset by how long it takes to get to the punchline. This episode once again made that pretty clear – it took forever to get to the best part of the first skit (ninja-Sakamoto would probably have been a decent enough joke otherwise), and the second skit not only took its sweet time but was basically ruined by the ending (it would have been way funnier had Sakamoto actually been possessed rather than him obviously faking it). I only smiled properly once throughout the entire thing, and that was at breaking of the fourth wall which lasted for all of two seconds… and therefore was the only joke that really worked. I’m game for one final try next week but I doubt anything much will come of it.

Jel: I thought this was an improvement over the first episode, or maybe I’ve just adjusted my expectations for what Sakamoto is going to be. He’s sort of this weird, after school special super hero, teaching kids to do their homework, eat their vegetables, and stand up to bullies. His skills are still ludicrous enough to be amusing in their own right, but seeing how he twists the situation around into some kind of life lesson is also part of the fun. I think I still agree the show would be better suited to a shorter format, but I had enough good laughs that I’m cool with what we got. I particularly appreciated the call backs to the last episode, like Yuuya still walking around in his bumble bee underwear and no one seems to notice or care. Building up a roster of weirdos to pull from will only make this show better going forward.

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Tanaka-kun – I want to meet the guy with the pompadour

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Tanaka-kun is Always Listless
Episode 3: “Girl of Contrast, Echizen-san”

Saturdays 10:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Artemis: This show is the opposite of Sakamoto in it shouldn’t be that funny at all but somehow makes me laugh like nothing else does this season. With the addition of another new character this episode things just got even more vibrant, but Tanaka and Ohta continue to steal the show for me, mostly because it’s the best bromance I’ve seen going on since Ore Monogatari. That said, there’s no reason at all not to like Miyano and Echizen’s insanely adorable dynamic, since that’s the best anime sisterhood I’ve seen going on since… actually, I don’t even remember, so it must be rarer than I thought. And one of the best things about the whole cast is that they don’t just feel like generically cute cookie-cutter characters, but instead give off the distinct impression that the creators have actually put some thought into how to make them not only funny but also unique.

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Flying Witch
Episode 3: “Lessons in Farming and Magic”

Saturdays 3:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Artemis: I hate to say it, but Flying Witch just might up on the chopping block pretty soon – and that’s a shame, because it’s a perfectly decent series that looks great and is about as sweet as it gets without giving me cavities. The problem isn’t that nothing ever happens – it’s that nothing ever happens in a world that is apparently inhabited only by 100% happy people. Nobody is ever depicted as sad or angry or hurt and so the slow pacing, which normally wouldn’t bother me in the least, feels positively glacial since there’s not any kind of emotional payoff whatsoever to be gained in return. It’d be one thing if this was a movie in which I could just admire the stunning backdrops and attention to detail for an hour so all in one shot, but as a series even the visuals can’t make up for a story involving almost nothing more than baking (last week’s episode) or weeding (this week’s episode). It’s a problem when the guest stars that show up for a few minutes, like this week’s Akane, are far more interesting than the main characters will probably ever be.

Aqua: It’s hard to disagree with Artemis on one point – nothing much indeed happens in Flying Witch. Yet for some reason it is still the only anime this season I’ll gladly watch as soon as it is out. Its pastoral setting feels like an essential part of its identity, rather than an obligation, aided by strong directing and some excellent comedic timing. This show just has a twee sense of dryness to its humour. Whether its blank expression on Makoto’s face as she summons an entire flock of crows or the awkward silences following Chinatsu’s meetings with one of Makoto’s colorful associates, Flying Witch finds the jokes in the most mundane of situations. It is not a show that barfs out ham-fisted gags at designated laugh-here-spots, but one that finds the joy in everyday accidents. In other words, I like Flying Witch for the exact same reasons why Artemis likes Tanaka-kun, and dislike Tanaka-kun for the exact same reasons why she dislikes Flying Witch. The world is weird like that.

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Three Leaves, Three Colors – Not sure what causes hot pink blood but it would definitely kill you

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Three Leaves, Three Colors
Episode 3: “A Taste of Maid”

Sundays 12:00 pm EST on Funimation

Jel: This episode seemed to emulate the author’s previous work, Engaged to Unidentified, more so than usual. From her Mary Poppins intro to the way she infiltrates the school, Sonobe has me wondering if there’s some kind of supernatural twist here. If so, my guess would be something surrounding the nature of Youko’s father’s work and why he went bankrupt. Conspiracy theories aside, I don’t think any of that would matter, as the main point here is clearly seeing Youko make friends. There were some good gags too, with the murder scene and the final bit with handing out flyers being the best of it. I kind of hope things just stay the way they are without too many new characters at this point. I’m enjoying the easy going nature of the show, and I think two weirdos showing up from Youko’s past should be enough for now.

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4 thoughts on “The Roundup: Spring 2016 Volume 2

  1. Sakamoto was so boring. It’s only the second episode but I’m inclined to drop it. I enjoyed Joker Game very much and agree if they focus on individual missions and their respective spy the show could be damn good.

    Bakuon was odd. So Raimu’s a ghost then? Or just an mid-age lady trying to relive her youth?

    • I assumed she was a ghost since weird, supernatural things seem to happen almost every episode (particularly next episode which we’ve already watched, sadly we have to time this post weird), but I guess it is never really made clear.

      • I saw ep4 as well. Minowa and her butler are golden, always trying some crazy ass shit. First the game of chicken and then the ferry. I was worried this was gonna become the typical “beach” episode,,,,but it wasnt. Horray!

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