The Roundup: Winter 2017 Volume 2

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In this week’s installment…

Week 2 of the Winter Roundup fills in a bit as we welcome (sort of) Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and Seiren, plus a shout out to Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu’s second sesaon. Also, Artemis and I actually disagree on something!

 dragonmaid

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Episode 3: “Second Dragon, Kanna! (We’re Totally Spoiling Here)”

Wednesdays 11:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: I was really on the fence about whether to include Dragon Maid in our weekly Roundup. Episode 2 was certainly an improvement over the first in that there was no non-consensual stripping, but I think my concerns are still warranted. That said, I still see a sliver of hope in the relationship between Kobayashi and Tohru. Take off the yuri goggles and they actually do make a good couple, romantic or otherwise. They have a lot to learn from each other and their personalities seem to balance each other out. On top of that, they even have a daughter now! I appreciated that they actually portray Kanna as a child without getting too precocious, even though she may be hundreds of years old for all we know. I’m not going to pretend to know how dragons work. I’d actually be cool if the show was just these three but I know there are more dragons incoming. Hopefully they don’t make things worse.

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Descending Stories: Showa Genroku Rakugo Shunju
Episode 3

Fridays 3:45 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Artemis: Rakugo Shinju is an excellent show – I don’t think I need vigorously defend that viewpoint. It’s gorgeously crafted, emotionally powerful, and quite possibly the classiest title I’ve seen in some years. Also, this second season’s OP is just downright amazing in all sorts of ways; even if you watch absolutely nothing else of the series, I highly recommend you still watch that. However, unlike during season one, I’ve decided not to cover Rakugo Shinju week by week – primarily because I find it incredibly difficult to cover each episode in one paragraph when they clearly deserve whole posts, which I simply do not have the time for with my current work schedule. Basically, it’s the kind of show I’d feel more comfortable discussing when it finishes airing and I can view it as a complete whole. Hopefully I will have time for that in due course. In the meantime, I don’t know that I can say anything else about Rakugo Shinju other than this: if you’re not watching, you should be.

Seiren - On this weeks episode of "Holy Smokes, Just Bone Already": No boning.

Seiren – On this weeks episode of “Holy Smokes, Just Bone Already”: No boning.

 seiren

Seiren
Episode 3: “In The Men’s Bath”

Saturdays 1:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Aqua: Oh, wow, a joke where one dude thinks some other dude is gay and freaks out, how utterly contemporary and unprecedented. Could’ve seen it coming, since Seiren is a show pretty much tailor made for the straightest of awkward straight boys, but it’s still disappointed to see a show with writing so out there it can be entertaining even when discussing midnight snacks having to rely on a “no homo” joke. In both the best and the worst meanings of the word, this was the most outrageous episode of Seiren yet, filled to the brim with Seinfeld-ian dialogue and cringeworthy levels of awkward teenage flirting, giving amble opportunity for its characters to bounce off each other. Compare it to one of those YouTube videos where they cut all the boning from a porn video to end up some kind of incoherent, absurdist train wreck of a rom-com that also has a lot of weird fetish fuel in it because it used to be, y’know, a porn video? It’s kinda like that, but with actual writing. Anyway, Seiren‘s biggest strength, however, remains its ability to find hilarity (and sexiness) in the utterly mundane – and as of this episode, ‘drama’ can be added to that list. A meaningful, realistic conflict that doesn’t rely on ham-fisted plot contrivances or bells and whistles to be endearing? Sign me up. How exactly this turned out to be the most embarrassing show about hormonal teenagers in a season that has Scum’s Wish in it remains a complete mystery to me, but I’m interested enough to wanna find out.

classicaloid

ClassicaLoid
Episode 15: “School Festival From Hell”

Saturdays 7:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: Sousuke’s “musik” is in contention for the funniest moment in Classicaloid yet. Seeing even the great Bach-sama brought to his knees was funny, but the little girl at the end getting carried out on a stretcher almost made me do a spit take. Does that make me a bad person? Part of me wanted the episode to end after everyone dies and then bring everyone back next week with no further explanation, that’s always a quality joke. It was also fun to see the rest of the crew do really well at the festival and not be responsible for ruining things for once, which is another good joke in itself. The best episodes of Classicaloid seem to be placing these dorks in normal situations and seeing what happens, so considering next week appears to be Beetes and Motes doing odd jobs I’m really looking forward to it.

Interviews with Monster Girls - "Grading tests, are we?"

Interviews with Monster Girls – “Grading tests, are we?”

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Interviews With Monster Girls
Episode 3: “Succubus-san Is a Real Adult”

Saturdays 12:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Aqua: For crying out loud, Interviews With Monster Girls, you had one job! Granted, Sakie being the second monster girl to harbour a crush on Tetsuo is acceptable enough given that they’re both grown adults, and Hikari’s kiss could be justifiably interpreted as a platonic tease if you’re as willing to indulge in delusion as I am, but at this point my patience for “harem” tropes has dropped below zero and boy, is Interviews With Monster Girls starting to stretch it. Leaving all that aside, however, this episode still featured pleasant amounts of humour and bizarre world-building to go around. Though Sakie’s troubles aren’t as applicable to real-world minorities than was the case with Machi, Interviews With Monster Girls still provided a witty, grounded take on what life would be like for a succubus in plain old suburban Japan. As usual, the show gets a lot of mileage out of the contrast between audience expectations and Sakie’s actual prudish personality, and while it could do without some of the noxious “ha ha single woman” tropes – seriously, being a virgin at 24 is a-ok, especially when you’re a demon who has to actively resist sexually assaulting any man in your direct vicinity all day long – the characterisation is refreshing enough to make it endearing. It’s by using the threadbare clichés of harem anime to develop its characters that Interviews With Monster Girls eventually manages to somewhat justify these indulgences, but it remains to be seen for how long it’ll be able to hold that up.

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Onihei
Episode 3: “The Evil Scent of Hakubaiko”

Mondays on Anime Strike

Artemis: I actually liked this episode a lot more than I did last week’s, the latter of which I found overly predictable and not even particularly well-written. This one held more appeal for me, with minor characters I had at least some emotional attachment to by the end of the story as well as the reappearance of Kumehachi. While I don’t care about Kumehachi all that much as far as the overall series is concerned – it’s pretty clear that Onihei is the only main focus here – I do care about internal consistently, so it was nice to see the show hadn’t forgotten about him entirely. I didn’t even mind the limited animation as much this time around, primarily because of the great use of music in its place. My only major quibble with the episode was a single line of dialogue about “sensing his presence” (the characters in question being a considerable distance away from one another). Onihei works because of its relative realism, especially in terms of setting but basically in relation to everything going on within each individual story. It’s a serious kind of show with no hint of the supernatural or fantastical, so to me this line came across as both ridiculous/cheesy and completely out of place. Other than that though, pretty solid stuff.

Jel: This was much closer to what I thought Onihei was going to be, which is not a good thing. Rather than rely on genuine emotion like last week, this episode piles on the tragedy and violence well beyond what it needed. Add in a whole lot of really dumb, obvious coincidences and it felt like a second rate cop show going through the motions. I understand Kaneko needed to pay a price for his crimes, but it was hard to have any catharsis when it was so clumsily constructed. Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come and this is just an off episode, because if Onihei is just going to be this every week I’m not going to stick with it.

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March Comes In Like a Lion – The only fun we’ve had in 2 episodes

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March Comes In Like a Lion
Episode 14: “Chapter 28 Blinding Darkness / Chapter 29 Just a Little Water”

Saturdays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: I should just stop making predictions because wow did I get this one wrong. I guess I should have given March more credit than to assume they would take the most obvious path. Having Rei lose is an infinitely more interesting turn of events, flaring up his already growing crisis of confidence and emphasizing how he’s been barely surviving all this time. The line where he says he’s “even bad at depression” was particularly crushing. I think it’s the first time the show has openly said that what he’s suffering through. It’s seemed pretty obvious that was the case throughout the entire series, but putting a name on it helps acknowledge how serious of a problem it is. Now having gone two full episodes without the sisters, Rei (and the audience) is in desperate need of some support. I’d say they’ll definitely be back next week but I also just said I’m stopping predictions, so let’s leave it at that.

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Little Witch Academia TV
Episode 3: “Don’t Stop Me Now”

Licensed by Netflix (Release pending, please watch it there when it comes out)

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Gee: In retrospect, while I was quite pleased with LWA’s TV run so far, it was this week’s episode that reminded me why I fell in love with it in the first place. Episode three is a perfect encapsulation of everything that made the original OVAs so enjoyable to watch. Between Akko’s charming passion and Trigger’s keen eye for comic timing and animation, this was the episode that justified LWA’s jump to TV. The premise of a flying broom relay race is exactly the kind of episodic story that expands the world and its characters but wouldn’t have the capacity of sustaining a 40+ minute OVA. From an animation standpoint, Trigger brought the thunder. Yoh Yoshinari, Toshiyuki Sato, and even Hiroyuki Imaishi himself came out guns blazing for this episode and it shows. Picking just one scene to show off for this week was an extremely difficult choice. Between Amanda’s high flying acrobatics, Akko’s broom wrangling, and the relay race’s antics, it’s a promo reel of Trigger’s finest. If people were questioning if LWA could handle being on TV, episode three was Trigger’s answer.

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2 thoughts on “The Roundup: Winter 2017 Volume 2

  1. I think everyone called the events in March wrong this week and that’s kind of what I love about the show. It makes perfect sense when you see how it plays out that it would end that way, but because we’re so used to narratives we just assumed there would be some big show down between Rei and Gotou.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on all these shows.

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