The Roundup: Summer 2018 Volume 1

In this week’s installment…

It took awhile for all the new shows to air, but now that we’ve hit at least episode 2 of just about everything it’s time for the Roundup to return! This season we’ve got Banana Fish, Chio’s School Road, Revue Starlight, Planet With, and Hanebado plus Steins;Gate 0 returning from last season.

Steins:Gate 0
Episodes 12-14

Wednesdays 1:30 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Marlin: So, Maho coming back seems a little cheap since the teary eyed farewell was no more than like five episodes ago. Still, I do like this parallel development of Daru and Suzuha doing what needs to be done while Okabe continues to try and keep the genie in the bottle when by all other accounts it is too late for that. I’m really confused by why anyone still uses the future gadget laboratory after it’s been broken into by armed gunmen like three times already. It’s obviously not a secure location, and it’s not like any of these people (other than maybe Feris) are big enough that anyone would notice them missing. I guess it must cost a lot to come up with new backgrounds. It’s pretty clear that this is the development that will finally complete the loop in Steins;Gate, but I’m running out of patience on how just okay the show is. If this season wasn’t so colossally weak, I probably would have just dropped it already.

Banana Fish
Episode 3: “Across the River and Into the Trees”

Wednesdays on Amazon Prime Video

Jel: If there’s one thing you can say for sure about Banana Fish, it certainly doesn’t pull any punches. In the last two episodes we’ve seen a boy get graphically murdered, a scene where they play child pornography, and a prison rape that thankfully didn’t happen on screen. They’ve also been extremely open with the gay content, and I’m not talking about Yuri on Ice! kind-of-sort-of kissing, I’m talking tongue involved here. Granted that part was also a plot device, but the point stands. I’m not shocked at all about these things existing in the manga but I am pretty surprised this is airing on television. I’m hard pressed to think of another recent example that actually showed this kind of content and didn’t dance around it.

So does all that make Banana Fish good? I’m still not sure, but I must admit I have a weak stomach for these things, especially the child pornography bit. It’s not like they’re trying to glorify it or anything, but I really don’t want to think about that if I don’t have to. It’s also not like the show is trying to tackle these issues or raise awareness about them, it’s just throwing it in their to make their pulp action universe more dark and gritty. I still find it interesting to watch just because it’s so different than any TV anime out there and I’ll stick with it for now, but I’m not sure I’m really enjoying it.

Banana Fish – This show has really subtle metaphors

Chio’s School Road
Episode 3: “Bloody Butterfly Effect 2 / The Kabaddic Four”

Fridays 10:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: I’m actually watching a lot of decent comedies this season (shout out to Cells at Work, Asobi Asobase, and Grand Blue) but I felt like Chio’s School Road was the only one different and weird enough that it might be worth writing about. Most of this will probably be me complaining about the pacing again, which was still bad in episode 3 This time they stretched out two segments instead of three and as you might expect it did not help the situation. That said, I’m glad they kept going with the Bloody Butterfly thing as I do love escalating, running gags and problematic groping scene aside the Kabaddi bit was so weird and random that I really liked it. I also find it interesting that Chio is actually pretty athletic and just chooses video games over real life sports, it’s kind of a neat twist on the usual reclusive nerd trope and makes scenes like the Kabaddi bit possible. Now if only they can iron out the pacing and timing ,this show would be great.

Revue Starlight
Episode 2: “The Stage of Fate”

Saturdays 9:00 am EST on HIDIVE

Jel: To quote myself from our first impressions podcast: “next episode’s going to start with the main girl waking up wondering what just happened and it’s going to be back to business as usual until the last 8 minute of the episode.” GUESS WHAT HAPPENED IN EPISODE 2? Sure enough, our main heroine wakes up confused and we end up sitting through tedious boring school nonsense until the next battle fills in almost exactly the final 8 minutes. To be fair, now that the secret is out they do sprinkle in some weird moments like Giraffe dude kicking over a boombox to trigger Hikari’s memory. But the rest is pure self-writing school idol (and yes, I know they are technically “actors” but it’s functionally the same here) content, right down to our idiot savant protagonist who was driving me crazy by constantly bringing up the auditions despite being constantly told not to talk about it.

So basically this episode was exactly like the first, boring me to tears for 70% of it and then doing something cool in the end. Even that was a bit disappointing as it was already a rematch from episode 1, but I must admit the interpretation of Hoshimi’s glasses into the fight was really good.  I’ll give it another episode or two to try something different or go somewhere with all this, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Revue Starlight – Speaking of subtle metaphors…

Planet With
Episode 3: “Avenger 1”

Sundays 10:30 am EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: I’ve been in love with the idea of Soya as the villain and I think we were meant to enjoy seeing him get knocked down a peg early in the episode – at least I did anyway. Unfortunately, the human leader is clearly the real bad guy and you might even want to throw in the weird dog man voiced by Norio Wakamoto. They’re already softening Soya as well with all the school bits, setting us up for two opposing factions featuring good people under bad leadership. That’s fine, but I do kind of wish they would keep Soya as an antagonist. It’s a much more interesting twist on all of this, as unlikely as it is to continue.

Iro: This episode finally drops us some actual plot tidbits – courtesy of Norio Wakamoto – but it’s all of that sort of vague talk that won’t make actual sense until we get a bit more context. Character-wise, we’re already 3-for-3 on seeing the tragic backstories or whatever of the mecha pilots, and I wish they all had just a bit more time for us to really get a grasp on them. It looks like we’re getting some of that with Nezuya, but the school bits are also the least interesting part of the show. I’m also still banking on everyone teaming up against The Real Villain at some point, but I guess we’ll see.

Hanebado
Episode 4: “I’m Lost Right Now, Too”

Sundays 12:00 pm EST on Crunchyroll

Jel: It’s kind of surprising that I’m accusing a sports show of having too much plot, but there is definitely a lot going on in Hanebado. There’s so much happening that Ayano has TWO evil twin tailed rivals that drag up her mommy issues. Between that and trying to split screen time with the rest of the club and even their current opponents, I feel like this episode was the worst example yet of the show’s bad habit of bouncing around from subplot to subplot. That said, the core of the show is still very good and I think it’s important to see Ayano get knocked on her heels by a legitimately better player. They seem to be going for more of a team/importance of friendship thing so having to rely on her new friends would make sense.

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