The Roundup: Fall 2017 Volume 4

In this week’s installment…

It’s one of longest Roundups yet as Gee catches up with two weeks worth of Kino’s Journey and Marlin makes a surprise appearance. Most notably though, March Comes In Like a Lion delivers one of its best episodes and reminds us why I had it as an anime of the year contender. More of that please.

Other Anime Coverage: Recovery of an MMO Junkie | #HATEWATCH: A Sister’s All You Need

 

Mr. Osomatsu
Episode 6: “Iyami Has Arrived”

Mondays 1:35 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: The life lessons handed out in this episode felt oddly heavy handed for Osomatsu. I mean, the first segment tries to tell us “don’t be a hypocrite” with words literally boomeranging back and killing people. It’s a also a little hard to think too deeply after you just watched Iyami take a dump in a trash bag. The segment with Hatabou was similarly on the nose. I was actually surprised how straightforward the resolution was, even if he didn’t totally “get” what happened. Overall it felt like we were stuck in this weird middle ground where the bits were neither funny or poignant enough. Normally Osomatsu is good at doing one or the other so it’s odd to come up short on both fronts. Hopefully they can deliver something more effective next week.

Mr. Osomatsu – Iyami learning anime was a mistake

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Just Because!
Episode 5: “Rolling Stones”

Thursdays 8 am EST on Anime Strike

Aqua: I know I can find relatablity in the strangest places, but I still didn’t quite expect Just Because! to hit as hard as this episode did. You see, even having been gainfully employed for a few months now, I’m still not comfortable with the fact that this — the obligations, the long days, the constant pressure — is what my life will be like from now on. That work is my entire life, as is anyone’s. It really makes me wonder what the point of it all is. What’s the purpose of living if you’ll spend every waking hour wishing you’d rather be doing something else? What’s the purpose of making money when you’ve got no enjoyment left to buy with it? As their days as careless — at least for Japanese standards — high schoolers is coming to an end, the cast of Just Because! are left with the same fears. Haruto indubitably gets hit with this the worst of all. Playing some ball with his future colleagues shows him that the adult life isn’t all work and no play, but in the end does little to dissuade him — or Eita, for that matter — from his anxieties. After all, this show is starting to veer dangerously close to stating that romance is impossible in a society like the one that awaits our heroes after graduation, and honestly — can you blame it? Whether it’s Mio and her entrance exams, Hazuki and her family or Haruto and his job, every character’s individual aspirations — be they friendship, romance, or self-actualization — eventually need to make way for whatever pointless direction they’re expected to take their lives in just because. Gee, is that what the title refers to?

 

Kino’s Journey – The Beautiful World
Episodes 4 & 5: “Country of Ships” & “Country of Liars”

Fridays 11:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Gee: Just to get it out of the way, I honestly found last week’s episode a lot better until Kino herself showed up. Shizu Isn’t exactly a paragon of excellent writing but his willingness to emotionally invest himself in others is sometimes a lot more compelling than Kino’s ideological apathy. Throw in the dreadful exposition by Hermes to explain the whole plot and you’re left with an episode that ironically might have been better off without Kino at all. In a worse mood, I might have dropped the whole show right there for good.

As for this week, Kino’s Journey makes a stronger comeback by relying on some short vignettes that allow the new countries to not overstay their welcome while minimizing some of the show’s less compelling traits. The first one threatens to be yet another story where Kino’s apathy allows for some truly dreadful shit to happen, but some last minute compassion from her saves it and makes it a little more hopeful. The second vignette is classic Kino’s Journey with a more positive twist than most. Yes, everyone in the country is living a lie, either by choice or accident, but the people are happy and nobody’s getting hurt so maybe it’s better this way. I was anxiously waiting for Kino to ruin the whole thing as it wouldn’t be the first time she had either consciously or unconsciously destroyed a country with her very presence, but instead we’re left with the typical Kino’s Journey weirdness. It’s not the most interesting story but at this point, I’ll gladly take it over any more political posturing.

ClassicaLoid – Schubert and the power of weed

 

Classicaloid
Episode 5: “A Great Man”

Saturdays 7:00 am EST on HIDIVE

Jel: Iro and I were discussing exactly why ClassicLoid season 2 is worse than the first and I think it comes back to our old friend “show, don’t tell”. There’s way too much talking about what’s happening. You can find a lot of examples of this, but the one recurring thing that drives me crazy is how every character responds to an incident by mentioning their one character trait. Beethoven says something about gyoza, Mozart says something about fun, Lizt mentions love, and on and on. Making your characters constantly say what’s on their mind when they are only deep enough to have one thing on their mind is a bad idea. These poor directing choices are also ruining any element of surprise, like this week’s return of Schubert. Compared to his rap debut, which was expertly masked until the last second, we knew way ahead of time who the new reggae sensation was. It sapped the life out of what could have been a great episode, and sadly I’m certain it’s going to be like this for the rest of the season.

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Love Live! Sunshine!!
Episode 5: “Taking in a Dog!”

Saturdays 10:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Aqua: I’m surprised Yoshiko still likes hanging out with the other Aqours girls, given that they generally seem to have about as much respect for her as I have for the writers of this show. I mean, if you’re gonna snark at someone for being delusional and obsessed, have a go at Chika instead, girls. Speaking of mean-spirited, the idea behind episode probably would’ve worked wonders as a farcical bit of Love, Chunibyo and Other Delusions filler. Heck, virtually any show with enough gall to show its characters at their pettiest could’ve made this idea work. Call me jaded, but I’d have loved to watch Yoshiko try and steal a dog from a little girl, especially with goody-two-shoes Riko in tow. Unfortunately, Love Live! lacks both the wit and the spine to pull off even the tiniest speck of black in its comedy — so once again we end up with something distinctively worse than the sum of its parts. This show’s staunch refusal to ever — intentionally — show its characters in a bad light reders it tame, hollow, and incapable of ever truly developing them in interesting ways. Instead, we get ridiculous pontificating about… Look, I don’t even know anymore. What kind of self-respecting show ends an episode with some risible line about destiny and the power of friendship in the year of Our Lord 2017? I know that grind-fest of a mobage makes you a ton of money, Love Live!, but that doesn’t mean you have to start turning into a freaking JRPG!

March Comes In Like a Lion – It was grandpa that really got me

March Comes In Like a Lion
Episode 26: “Chapter 52 Ladybug Bush (Part 2) / Chapter 53 Ladybug Bush (Part 3) / Chapter 54 Feelings”

Saturdays 12:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: My small brain figured Hina was getting bullied and this episode Rei would be able to help her by sharing his own experiences. While yes, she was bullied, they essentially flipped the roles what we got was so much better. It makes much more sense with Hina’s heart-on-her sleeve-personality and gives Rei a meaningful reason to like her beyond just being a cute, interesting girl. Rei’s attempts to support and thank her were adorable, and I’ll be honest, I got a little choked up when Grandpa declared how proud he was that Hina did the right thing. This is March at it’s best: a positive story about healing and growing that never feels too idealistic or naive. We just don’t get that when the show focuses on shogi, at least not to this degree. Sadly, I’m sure it will be back to that soon, but if we can mix in more episodes like this it might be worth it. Side note: pretty cool that the March staff launched an anti-bullying campaign in conjunction with this arc. Good on them.

Marlin: You can definitely tell this is an episode the animators have been waiting to make for a long time. A lot of loving care is put into the heartbreakingly real depiction of middle school bullying. Children can be the most cruel when they themselves feel stress, and it’s interesting that Hina notices that causing a change, without exonorating the bullies for their actions. There’s also quite a bit of a tease in relationship development as Rei chases after her. He realizes now just how wrong his school experience was. He sees that it’s Hina’s strong and kindhearted nature that has brought him out of his own loneliness, and he wouldn’t dare return the affection in Hina’s time of need. It’s hard not to see Rei’s words as romantic the way he intimately held her arm, but considering he has such a stunted view of intimacy it would be hard to say anything for sure right now. Hina’s confident declaration that she was definitely not in the wrong was excellently done, and well needed in a world that still has a lot left to learn about the effects of bullying. I hope this isn’t a brief respite back with the girls. One would think that such a declaration of “I’ll stay with you.” would mean he is going to frequent their house more often, and I would be highly disappointed if we get sidelined into another Shimada-esque shogi arc.

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The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Episode 5: “Love conquers all”

Saturdays 1:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Aqua: Leaving aside the visual and atmospheric strengths of this week’s episode’s latter half — it also featured the very worst bits The Ancient Magus’ Bride has on offer. While I’ll be the first to defend Chise’s submissive nature and unconditional devotion to Elias as an intentional character flaw rather than some kind of romanticized ideal, her “confession” to Renfred was a step too far. By having her declare that she is Elias’ possession in front of the man obviously being presented as the bad guy, the show unmistakably ends up appearing to side with Chise on the issue, which undersells the character’s detrimental nihilism entirely. It doesn’t help that Renfred’s introduction here is poor, setting him and Alice up to be dark mirrors of Elias and Chise respectively, but ultimately failing to establish them as intimidating villains or even explain what the heck they’re doing in the village of cats. It’s not until later that the story figures out what it wants to do with them, making their debut here little more than a glorified cameo. Luckily, the rest of the episode fares a heck of a lot better. Mina and Matthew’s flashback is sufficiently creepy, the payoff effective as all hell and their final goodbye gorgeously moving, marking the first time the TV series has managed to match the strengths of the OVAs in terms of presentation. It’s a bit of a shame these obvious crowd-pleasers had to be paired up with the original manga’s absolute lowest point, but if anything, they show that The Ancient Magus’ Bride has a bright future ahead of it.

Blood Blockade Battlefront – Looks like a fun Thursday night

 

Bed Bath & Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond
Episode 5: “One Butler’s Blitzkrieg”

Saturdays 3:10 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Marlin: Brood Baccarat Beetlefrog and Baton continues to be an incredibly enjoyable ride. By this time last season it seemed like the plotline with Black and White was at the very least being given its foundation, so the fact that we haven’t really had any narrative thread throughout the beginning of this season would seem to suggest to me that they’re sticking to what works best, BBBB’s amazing setpieces and frenetic action. It feels like these are the kind of episodes we should have seen interspersed with last season a la Cowboy Bebop as the real throughline gets developed. While complete non-sequitur between episodes works to an extent, I do feel eventually the characters being badass is going to become too normal. I suppose it would feed into the world concept that the outlandish is ordinary in Hellsalem’s Lot, but I do hope we get some kind of development soon.

 

Anime-Gataris
Episode 5: “Beibei, Don’t Go”

Sundays 10:00 am EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: I’m really tired of Comiket episodes. They’ve become nearly as common as other school comedy staples like the pool episode or the school festival episode. This version didn’t do much to change my mind, doing a lot of dry explanation of the Comiket experience. Fortunately a layer of Anime-gataris charm and enthusiasm still makes for a pleasant, watchable episode. You can’t get too mad at these kids seeing how much fun they’re having. The outing served its purpose to bond the group together and get them ready for the next showdown with the student council, so hopefully we’ll be back into that next week.

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