The Roundup: Winter 2017 Volume 7

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In this week’s installment…

It’s been a long week and most of the Roundup shows did not bring their A game, so apologies in advance if I sound more like a cranky old man than usual. Fortunately Little Witch Academia stands out as a bright spot with its best episode yet. Nothing like some ol’ timey cartoons to improve your mood.

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Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Episode 8: “New Dragon, Elma! (She’s Finally Appearing, Huh?)”

Wednesdays 11:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: Once again I’m left asking how a show can be so good and so bad in one single episode. As always, Kobayashi and Tohru’s relationship bits are great. I continue to be impressed with how honest they are with each other, including their willingness to admit their flaws. Unfortunately to get to those parts this week we had to introduce Elma, who doesn’t seem to add much value to the cast. I suppose it’s good to have some kind of antagonistic foil for Tohru, but she’s so useless that I was more annoyed by her than anything. I could also complain about more Lucoa boob jokes but that’s just a given at this point. The end result is another frustrating episode in which we see Dragon Maid’s strong points dragged in the mud by anime nonsense. This one was probably one of the better ones, but the point still stands.

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Seiren
Episode 8: “Fluffy”

Saturdays 1:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: I wrote about how much I’ve grown to hate Comiket episodes in last week’s Dragon Maid coverage and so here we go again. At least in this case it was a bit more interesting since the cast was basically attending as vendors and not there to load up on cartoon porn or to sell their misunderstood doujinshi. Still, part of the charm of Seiren and Amagami before it was the fact that they avoided these very specific anime nerd lifestyle references. Maybe they’ve just been trying to mask the fact that our protagonist (who’s name I still can’t remember) and Toru are bland characters, and seeing them hook up really wasn’t that interesting. If you want sheer bizarre spectacle this episode did at least deliver with the awkward fetishes, going a bit too far with Toru’s furry costume and giving us another unconventional first kiss. Yeah, this was bad, and seeing Tsuneki appear again just made me wish we had another episode or two to hang out with her. Hopefully Kyouko will do better with her arc next.

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Seiren – This would make a really weird Gunpla kit

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ClassicaLoid
Episode 20: “Mozart Is the Name”

Saturdays 7:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: In a way, Mozart is just as tortured a genius as Beethoven. He just has a very different way of coping with his frustrations. Unfortunately, I don’t think his lowest common denominator gags (yes, they resorted to fart jokes) are enough to carry an episode the way Beetes did a few weeks back. There were a couple of good sight gags and as always the comedic timing was on point, but I don’t feel like this episode was weird enough to really fit the unique brand of humor we’ve come to expect from Classicaloid. At least the final sequence of events was lovely, with Kanae conceding she still wants Motes around and Motes once again using his Musik for nothing more than entertainment. While a bit of a letdown from last week’s stellar episode, this was still passable and I’m not too worried moving forward.

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Interviews With Monster Girls
Episode 8: “Demi-chans Want to Learn”

Saturdays 12:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: This was the most mundane episode of Monster Girls thus far and yet I actually think it was one of the most enjoyable. Now that we’ve had a chance to meet the girls and they’ve grown comfortable with their friendship, it is kind of fun and sweet to see them joke and tease each other. That said, too many episodes like this in a row would probably bore me to tears. The big hook of this show is showing the interesting ways the demi-chans deal with their unique circumstances and I don’t think that really played a factor this week. Getting Hikari to study is a plot that could have appeared in any of the hundreds of other school comedies out there, even if the cast was just regular humans. So yes, I’d say this episode was good, but let’s hope next week takes better advantage of the show’s unique strengths.

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March Comes In Like a Lion – I’m tempted to change my social media profile pics to Shimada’s face

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March Comes In Like a Lion
Episode 19: “Chapter 39 Passing the Night / Chapter 40 Kyoto (Part 1)”

Saturdays 1:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: I like Shimada but I feel like we’ve gotten a bit off track. He’s basically hijiacked the show. Having Rei learn life lessons from his opponents has been a regular thing, but in the other cases we would focus on them for an episode or two and then move on. We’ve been following around Shimada for the better portion of the second half and now the story is veering more into his issues and less into Rei’s. With so little time left, I feel like that is a mistake. The core of the show has been Rei’s relationship with the sisters and I think there’s still a lot of ground to cover with them, not to mention Rei’s adoptive family. I’d much rather see those stories fleshed out and so while I’m enjoying this trip to the tournament, deep down I’m kind of disappointed. March has been so good that I still have faith they will pull through, but I’m getting more nervous every week.

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Onihei
Episode 8: “Retreat of Okawa River”

Mondays on Anime Strike

Artemis: Another decent episode of Onihei this week – mostly because the oni himself is basically a troll when all’s said and done, and everything else just seems to be in his job description. From old-timer thieves to his own wife, the man seems determined to have his fun either way. And frankly, I quite like that in a protagonist; it’s refreshing to see what amounts to an Edo-Period chief of police acting not out of a burning desire for justice or even duty, but simply because he’s bored and out for some harmless amusement. In fact, I suspect the only reason he’s earned his nickname is because he’s exceptionally good at his job, while on the other hand, his natural personality leans more towards cheerfully mischievous than to cruel or ruthless. That perhaps sits at odds with at least the first episode of the series, but at this point I don’t really care – as I’ve said before, Onihei is by far the better show when it goes for a lighthearted rather than serious approach. While I still wouldn’t say it’s a great show even so, continuity is probably worth the sacrifice if I get something that’s actually fun to watch in exchange.

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Little Witch Academia TV
Episode 8: “Sleeping Sucy”

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

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Gee: Little Witch Academia fucking kills it this week with another standout episode. Fans have been clamouring for a Sucy-focused episode and the one we got delivered in every way. A trippy journey through the mind, this week’s episode had that magical mix of factors that define Trigger’s Gainax lineage. Funny, full of references to Western media, but fundamentally brimming with heart, it’s a quality few studios can bring to the table. Speaking of the heart, the drive-in movie scene might be in the running for best individual scene of the year. It perfectly encapsulates Sucy’s character in a way that doesn’t feel cheesy or hamfisted. Sucy is a character of few words and even fewer moments of genuine compassion. That our glimpse of that is truly only a glimpse shows that Yoshinari and the rest of the Trigger crew posses far more restraint than we sometimes give them credit for. Feel like a broken record at this point, but it’s episodes like these that help LWA define its own identity separate from its original OVAs. Keep it up Trigger.

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