In this week’s installment…
The Roundup this week is dedicated in loving memory to The Professor from Sakura Quest. Rest well, sir.
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Jel: GAMERS! has veered so far away from the romantic comedy blueprint that I almost don’t know how to process it. I can’t think of any context. These three episodes have moved super fast, no one is cleanly paired up with who they’re supposed to be, and just when you think you’ve got it figured out they flip the table on us.
That certainly makes it interesting to watch, but what makes GAMERS! good is the characters and how well they stay on message. This week we see Keita and Chiaki saying a lot of dumb things about how important video games are to them but then show by their actions that we’re probably not supposed to agree with them. For example, Keita has acted like a jerk most of the show because of his feelings about games but having him chase Aguri at the end of the episode is showing us that hey, maybe he is redeemable. It certainly left us with a fun cliffhanger, and shockingly GAMERS! might be the show I’m most looking forward to next week.
Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul
Jel: The only way I’m going to be cool about this week’s development is if Charioce is playing the long con and wooing Nina to keep her under control. I thought that’s where we were going but now I’m not so sure. There is evidence going both ways. It’s mostly small things, like how at the end of the episode Charioce kind of smirks like everything is going according to plan. On the other hand, I could see them using his captain’s inevitable betrayal as a convenient excuse to force him to team up with the good guys. Either way, Charioce is getting a far more sympathetic portrayal than he deserves and if Nina doesn’t bury his smug face in the dirt before this is over I will be sorely disappointed.
Welcome to the Ballroom
Gee: Man oh man, Ballroom’s bizarrely timed two parter sets up the story’s first big arc, and boy am I excited. The general theme of these episodes is definitely the precarious analogy between dance partners and romantic relationships. There’s talks of “claiming” and “taking” one’s partner, the nature of physical compatibility, the importance of commitment, and even the romantic comedy-esque plot of two rejected individuals forming their own couple in an attempt to get revenge on the ones who snubbed them. Episode 4 gives us the conclusion of the Mikasa Cup, hopefully dashing any worries that Tatara was going to be an actual contender on the professional level at this point. Hyodo’s passion and his skill brings to light his devotion to the sport in spite of everyone’s doubts. You could feel Hyodo’s smouldering rage and smug satisfaction as his dance basically told Tatara, “you aint shit.”
As for episode 5, we’re introduced to Tatara’s first primary rival and new partner in the form of the sibling duo and Latin specialists, Gaju and Mako. Gaju makes for a great rival in his blunt rudeness. His shitty treatment of his sister instantly makes him a target. Mako on the other hand, becomes a weirdly effective foil for Tatara. Despite “belonging” to another dancer, she is Tatara’s perfect partner, both physically and emotionally. That they’re a partnership born of “leftovers” makes for a powerfully engaging lynchpin. Both have been cast aside for someone better, and both yearn to earn the validation of the ones who’ve left them behind. I wish I could say more, but Tatara and Mako’s relationship is maybe one of my favorite things about Ballroom, and I cannot wait to see it develop.
Restaurant to Another World
Jel: I’m wondering if all the present day scenes are meant to take place at different times of the same day. The biggest indicator is seeing characters from the previous episode in the background, and this week we saw lion guy and old wizard guy in the restaurant at the same time as they were in the first episode. This is not really important at all, but just an interesting observation. As for the episode itself, it was nearly identical to last week with big monster dude in the first half and pretty girl in the second, but so long as we get a chill show about people enjoying food every week I’m not going to complain.
Jel: Wow. I knew the back half of this arc was going to be heavy but having a group of seniors lashing out in a final attempt to document their existence because they know they’re going to die soon and their village is going to die with them… yeah, that’s pretty heavy. Then on top of that, literally seeing the professor drop dead was a total shock. This particular series of P.A. Works’ “working” shows is always so bright and positive and in the long run that’s what this episode was, so I would have never expected we’d see someone actually die. That’s not to say it wasn’t appropriate, in fact I’d say it added the weight needed to really drive home the point. This was a really good arc, and with two treasures left to find it’s going to be hard to top.
Jel: I can’t say I fully understand what happened in the game this week, but it seemed like the end result was pretty cool? I think Kakegurui’s attempts at female empowerment are a net positive, even as it undermines itself sometimes. Yumeko’s speech to Tsubomi could apply to anyone, but I feel like it hits home harder with women as they are more often expected (and wrongly, let me emphasize) to go along with the type of “life plan” we saw handed to Mary last week. Of course I’m not a woman and can only speak as an outside observer, so take that as you will.
Getting back to the episode, there could only be one winner to the game and Yumeko is still in the dog (kitty?) house. Will Mary be willing to help bail her out? Will the student council keep throwing her lifelines to see what happens? I’m looking forward to seeing more.
[Side note: Netflix just announced plans to release Kakegurui in 2018. Yes, the year two thousand eighteen, at the very least six months after the series started airing.]
4 thoughts on “The Roundup: Summer 2017 Volume 3”
To me, Sakura Quest is like a schematic for a decent show, but without any of the details filled in to give it proper emotional weight. I feel like every single character, from our leads to the various side characters cropping up throughout, is just a cardboard cutout. Honestly, I would have been much more surprised if the crusty exterior (but secretly warm hearted!) professor HADN’T died at the end of the episode.
It’s not that Sakura Quest is a bad show, really, so much as it’s just so bog standard and predictable in its emotional beats that I feel like I can get as much from a two-line written summary of each episode as from actually watching the full 20+ minutes of it.
I guess I was more shocked by them literally showing him drop dead than the actual fact that he died. Seemed out of place for the usual tone of the show.