51 CommentsMonthly Roundups / By Scamp /

July Roundup

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What’s that? Several good anime are airing this season? We don’t have to scramble around OVA’s and spin-off specials to find something positive to say? What an unusual state of affairs for 2013. Well, Shinmaru went and wrote about a short OVA anyway, but we’ll let him off this time.

What’s Hot

Scamp: Watamote

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Four episodes in and I have this as a 10 on MAL, but this isn’t because I relate to Tomoko. I was not That Person in school. Sure I had the odd moment of social anxiety when placed in an awkward situation, but my appreciation of Watamote does not come from relating to the main character’s situation. It comes from the single minded devotion to this comedic cause that cuts so fine and so deep that it practically doesn’t count as comedy anymore. What’s key to its success is it never becomes maudlin. There was that moment in episode 2 where Tomoko yelled out to her friend about how she was going to improve herself. In a lesser show this would have been a tone-breaking scene of saccharine bullshit that induces eye-rolling. In Watamote, it’s the buildup to a heart-wrenching, gut-clenching punchline that hits the main character and the viewer so hard it left me curling up in my seat, fighting back cringe-induced laughter.

Shinmaru: Kick-Heart

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Masaaki Yuasa’s Kickstarter-funded project went live for backers a couple of weeks ago. It was definitely worth the wait for me. It’s such a fun piece of animation because everything is so physical. Pro wrestlers are like silent film stars in that when they’re in the ring, they tell stories with their bodies and little else. Isn’t that perfect for animation? I can’t stop thinking about Kick-Heart’s first scene, which uses the tag team wrestling format so well to establish Maskman M’s love and riff on it. There’s the beautiful moment when M shouts for his partner, Devil Chicken (GREAT name, btw), to tag him in, which is usually used to rile up the crowd for the good guys, but here shows M’s desperation to get the piss beaten out of him. (The disappointment of the tag afterwards got a huge laugh from me.) There’s the way Vacuum Fat holds Devil Chicken in place while Lady S chops the bejeezus out of him — a normal heel tactic that drives M wild with lust (while the audience no doubt thinks he’s pissed off). It’s little touches like that that use wrestling’s idiosyncrasies to generate good humor. If we get more oddball projects like this from other talented creators via Kickstarter, I’ll be pleased.

Inushinde: Silver Spoon

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I was originally going to make Watamote my choice, but to not mention how surprisingly good Silver Spoon is would be doing it a disservice. Silver Spoon is noteworthy, in that it takes a directionless youth, and works backward from that like an agricultural-themed guidance counsellor to find a future for him to pursue. Each episode is a different experience for Hachiken that hammers home the gravity of any potential situation that he might find himself in, while instilling in him the knowledge that there’s no easy choice; even those who know what they want out of their education have a difficult road ahead of them. Where it does particularly well is in balancing somber lessons with the heartwarming, while not feeling preachy or condescending. It’s more than mindless entertainment, but doesn’t forget that it should entertain, even if it has a valid point to make.

What’s not so hot

Scamp: Danganronpa

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Ever since I realised Danganronpa is just Big Brother with killing, I haven’t been able to enjoy the show at all. I dug how hyper-stereotyped the characters were in the first episode, but the show isn’t stylised enough outside of the character designs to make use of that premise. Instead they try to make the characters have more of a personality, which simply doesn’t work when they’re so stereotyped. It ultimately feels voyeuristic and shallow, getting kicks out of watching characters die. Which I could probably stomach that if the characters were truly as over the top as their designs imply they are, but trying to go the opposite direction only succeeds in revealing how shallow the whole premise is.

Shinmaru: Futari wa Milky Holmes

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Sorry, I’m not done complaining about this. After watching the second and third episodes Futari wa Milky Holmes, what makes me most mad about the exercise is that it strips Milky Holmes of all its unique qualities and turns it into a pale imitation of A Certain Magical Index/Railgun (which are already crap to begin with). Look, I’m a fucking idiot when it comes to predicting plot, and even I called every single beat of the third episode. It’s incredibly boring and uninspired. There’s absolutely no reason to care about the new girls other than … I don’t know; I can’t think of a reason that doesn’t involve selling more Milky Holmes video games. Literally the only moment of joy I’ve had with the series is the bit with the Milky Holmes girls pretending to be cool so that they don’t look like asses in front of the new girls. And that’s really worth just a chuckle.

At least I’ll always have the first two seasons of Milky Holmes. ;-;

Inushinde: Sunday Without God

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I’m sure there’s a well-thought out idea underneath the way that the story is presented. I’m sure that in novel form, important details were easy to parse and investment was actually possible, leading to an emotionally-charged journey through a post-apocalyptic world with an absence of death. But the presentation of this adaptation is so vague and cluttered that it’s hard to glean just what it’s going for, beyond superficially tugging at heartstrings. While the characters aren’t wholly reactionary, they still feel ushered around by the plot’s whims, rather than their own actions. The world is an interesting concept, but ideas are parsed without truly taking form. The end result is something akin to Kino’s Journey that I desperately want to find engaging, but just can’t find a way to do so, beyond giggling at the goofy names. It’s a journey through several unconnected ideas that tries to connect them all without success, and I can’t for the life of me see its strengths. But hey, a little girl gets the shit kicked out of her by her father (spoiler alert) multiple times, so I guess it’s aiming for the sentimental crowd.

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51 Comments

  1. Outcast
    Posted August 1, 2013 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

    Hey! Railgun isn’t crap! Or at least the manga isn’t…

    In any case, I’m really disappointed about Danganronpa. Not because I’ve played the game or anything, but because I’m really starved for a good investigative series. This is the second time a series with “mystery” in it has let me down (looking at you Hyouka).

    Anyway, I guess I’ll pick up Watamote as soon as I get a decent internet connection. And maybe Eccentric Family depending on opinions about later episodes.

    • Kirin
      Posted August 1, 2013 at 10:32 pm | Permalink

      Don’t be hating on my Hyouka!

      • Outcast
        Posted August 2, 2013 at 5:11 am | Permalink

        Oh, no, I’m pretty sure it’s a good series and all, it just ain’t no Detective School Q.

  2. Langer
    Posted August 1, 2013 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    The funny thing about the cliched characters in Danganronpa is that it made me notice quite early that the game was violating pretty much every one of Knox’s commandments, which I thought was interesting if done intentionally.

    I still dropped it after 2 episodes anyway. It looked pretty and all, but it was just flying thought the story too fast and frankly, what’s the point of a mystery that you already know all the answers to? Maybe I’ll go back to it at some stage and see how the trials were done.

  3. Nagisa33
    Posted August 1, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Is paying $5 for Kick-heart on Kickstarter how people are able to watch it? I’m really excited for it.

    Also, I saw the 3rd episode of Sunday Without God and my friends and I are a bit confused on where it’s going. I’m going to pick up Silver Spoon in it’s place.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted August 2, 2013 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

      You know, I’m actually not sure about that! You might want to ping the Kick-Heart Twitter account about that. Maybe they’ll put it up for streaming after a while, I dunno. For now, though, I imagine it will be viewable only by people who backed the project. (Or, you know, through shadier means. I haven’t gone looking for any of that, however.)

  4. Nagisa33
    Posted August 1, 2013 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad you’re enjoying Watamote. The manga is really funny stuff and I’m sure the anime is too. I expected some character development but I stopped since there was none. When the anime began I picked up the manga once more. I realized why it was funny again with all it’s cringeworthy insanity. I feel so bad for her but I can’t help but laugh.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 2, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

      I think the anime completely outshines the manga. It follows it pretty straight, but adds on a whole load of bells and whistles to make it work

  5. Desi
    Posted August 1, 2013 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    All of Shinmaru’s hate on milky holmes s3 made me check it out…
    and if that wasn’t the most boring thing I’ve ever watched I don’t know what is.
    If anything it should have been closer to the first game (never played the second) because while they were mildly competent they were still a bunch of idiots that did crazy random things like pulling a cupcake out of a hat and casually falling off the roof.
    Also they only ever found one thing per investigation and bland male lead would just tell them “YEAH KEEP LOOKING AT THAT” and do the actual mystery solving.
    but this…
    this is shit.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted August 2, 2013 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

      I did hear that about the games. But yeah, this is just the worst, ugh.

  6. Leah
    Posted August 1, 2013 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    Did all three of you drop Free?

    • Inushinde
      Posted August 1, 2013 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

      Nope, still going strong.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted August 2, 2013 at 2:58 am | Permalink

      I’m still watching it and have been enjoying it more since Rei showed up.

      • Leah
        Posted August 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

        You go buddy. Rei is one of my favourite characters this season, he makes the show for me so much more entertaining.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 2, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Meanwhile I just hate KyoAni

      • Posted August 2, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        Plebe detected. Commence death ray.

        Anyways, are you ever going to watch and do an Anime Mirai post on Ryo considering it just recently got subbed?

      • Scamp
        Posted August 2, 2013 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

        I did watch it but can barely remember the bloody thing so nah

      • ANON
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

        “HE WAS LIKE THE SUN! WHY DID YOU KILL HIM?”
        cue flashback
        back to present
        “HAYYYYAAAAAAAHH!”

        end.

      • Posted August 4, 2013 at 3:14 am | Permalink

        @Anon The video file crashed on me before I could get to the end. Considering the anime was complete garbage up to that point, I didn’t have the motivation to get to that “nothing” ending, and apparently people agree with me since none of my anime-watching buddies liked it.

  7. matrixEXO
    Posted August 2, 2013 at 1:14 am | Permalink

    Inushinde, I think you are wrong at the pretense of Nichiyoubi. To me, it’s more about the story of Ai, rather than the story of the world around them. That’s also why they take step by step to actually show her ‘adventure’ as compared to fleshing the world around her. This is also why it’s on Ep.4 (latest so far) that they show a different side of the world. A ‘City of the Dead’.

    • Inushinde
      Posted August 4, 2013 at 7:28 am | Permalink

      I’d buy that if 80% of that episode wasn’t just talking about the world, with Ai being an afterthought.

  8. luffyluffy
    Posted August 2, 2013 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    Without a doubt, Silver Spoon is the best airing anime this season.

    And that’s all there is too it.

    • shytende
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

      Episode 4 : Hachiken makes a pizza.
      Best episode I saw this season.

      …But now, I’m really hungry.

  9. BwackNinja
    Posted August 2, 2013 at 5:52 am | Permalink

    And here I thought Watamote wouldn’t be mentioned again and I wouldn’t have a relevant place to say how I enjoyed the reference to beats headphones. Their primary function is to elevate your social status, with the secondary function being to send audio to your ears. They aren’t noticed socially here, nor are they used to listen to music. Beautiful.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 2, 2013 at 11:59 am | Permalink

      I’ll be writing about Watamote a hell of a lot more, don’t you worry about that

  10. Erif
    Posted August 2, 2013 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Any of you guys watching Gehnshinken. I haven’t heard much talk about it weirdly.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 2, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

      I haven’t been too impressed with it so far. It’s like the Moyashimon Returns of Genshiken

      • Shinmaru
        Posted August 2, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

        Pretty much, although the Madarame episode is better than anything in Moyashimon Returns.

  11. Posted August 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know if it is just because I am observing you guys on Twitter, but I am under strong impression that Scamp uses every opportunity to remind us that he was a popular kid and he doesn’t relate to Tomoko. I find it very funny.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 2, 2013 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

      No seriously guys, I was like super popular, I swear!

      …the reason I do that is because I keep seeing the sentiment expressed that the only reason to watch this is if you relate to the main character’s life. Which is bullshit, you should watch it because it’s a fucking fantastic anime

      • Hanasra
        Posted August 2, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        Sturgeon’s Law applied to people taste too, so don’t expect them to understand unless you write very convincing piece about it.

  12. Pusswookie
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 12:53 am | Permalink

    So I checked the Sunday w/out God forum on MAL and, in regards to the end of episode 3, found [a majority of] their reactions to be confusingly similar to Ai’s; a lot of ;_;.
    Now, this might be a reasonable reaction if this season finale had occurred at, well, the end of the season. As it stands, the only interaction Ai had with Humpnie, and Humpnie with Ai, was of him hitting her; threatening her with a gun, twice; kicking her off a bridge; and killing everyone that she’s ever known and loved. He did, however, give her a deluxe Piggyback ride so I guess that makes up for it.

    While the ending scene was beautiful in that it cemented the fact that Ai had lost everything-her village, her SPOILER, her nose-I can’t help but feel that we were a bit robbed :/

    Watamote and Uchouten Kazoku are hitting all the right notes though :D

  13. Cobrah
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    I’ve been loving Gatchaman, Eccentric Family, Watamote, and Silver Spoon this season. All shows I really had no expectation for and probably wouldn’t have picked up without this site. Not too impressed with anything else honestly.

    Oh, P.S is there a way to permanently stay signed in and how do I get a little avatar? I’d like to keep commenting on this but I want something other than the blank avatar.

    • Kiseki
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 10:57 am | Permalink

      Just register a Gravatar with the same email you use to comment.

    • Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

      And tell your browser to ‘remember form and search history’

  14. TheVoid
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    I expected Danganronpa to be garbage considering the guys working on it did Devil Survivor 2: The Animation, which was terrible and did so many things differently/horribly from the game.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

      Except Danganronpa literally takes material from the game and puts it in the anime. That has to be the greatest troll. “You want adaptations to totally mirror the source material? Well here is the exact source material literally unaltered”

      • shytende
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:41 pm | Permalink

        Nothing will beat Persona 4.

  15. ANON
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

    silver spoon is great, but for some reason I’m very close to dropping watamote. I find it boring.

  16. gedata
    Posted August 3, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

    Are any of y’all bloggers still catchin’ dem Space Bros?

    • Shinmaru
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

      Pretty sure Scamp dropped it a while back, and I finally gave up the ghost, too, because I just don’t care anymore.

      • gedata
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        Fair enough, the latest arc has pretty much been a rehash of previous stuff anyway (Pico was cool though). I don’t like the idea of dropping something I’ve invested 60+ episodes of time into, so I’ll remain stubborn for now.

      • Scamp
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

        Space Bros was a casualty after being in a really bad mood with anime around the spring season. I dropped Maou-sama, Majestic Prince and Space Bros all on the same day. I’m content to just remember the good days of Space Bros

      • JoyBoy
        Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:54 pm | Permalink

        Majestic Prince is a solid show unlike those other two sci-fi from last season. The space battles are amazing.

  17. Posted August 3, 2013 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Hey, Scamp, did your score of 10 for Watamote come before or after the episode where about a third of it is an extended (and pretty bad) joke about the main character getting “molested”?

    Episode 4 really did not make me hopeful for the show’s future.

    • Scamp
      Posted August 3, 2013 at 11:32 pm | Permalink

      Oh you mean the episode that was based around around the misconception that molestation is something attractive people get as a reward and it’s a position to be envied but when suddenly faced with the actual situation you realise how scary, frightening and lonely the experience actually is? You know, a joke that actually covered what the reality of the situation was rather than making a light joke ala that one episode of Gargantia?

      Yes, it was after that episode.

      • Posted August 5, 2013 at 5:29 am | Permalink

        I am well aware of what the intent was in that section, but the execution of the idea was awful.

        The whole thing is treated as incredibly goofy, even when the music starts sounding really dramatic. It’s immediately apparent that she’s not actually getting molested and is–once again–completely exaggerating the severity of the situation. So while there’s obviously supposed to be a message about how molestation is bad, the undercurrent of the entire skit is, “Well, of course she wouldn’t actually get molested. Even creepos wouldn’t care about her.”

        That problem is compounded by the very next skit being about how guys like panties, so she should totally get some nice panties. And whereas the previous skit at least tried to include some sort of constructive message, this one doesn’t even bother. The only reason given for why her plan fails is that–in an example of social ineptitude that’s a bit too extreme to believe even for this show–she wipes the sweat of her brow with the panties and a guy sees her doing it.

        “Well, we could say something about how having your crotch ogled is pretty bad, too, so there’d be a decent narrative throughline with the previous skit,” the writers said. “But let’s go for really dumb slapstick instead.”

      • Scamp
        Posted August 5, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Errr the entire show is completely over the top and exaggerated. It’s through that exaggeration that the dark parts are revealed. That’s been the entire structure of the show so far, it doesn’t change because it swapped from social anxiety to sexual assault. The way the episode ended doesn’t change the core message about it.

        As for the second half, I don’t know why you’re even comparing the two. Like everything in this show, the two halves of the episode are unrelated. This time it’s about being uncomfortable with your body and being unable to try improve yourself because you don’t have the courage in your own appearance. The joke at the end is more about how things goes wrong when she tries. Not as direct as the duckface version earlier on in the show, but that’s fine because it was funny enough.

        So to wrap up: Having a piece of slapstick at the end doesn’t devalue what the rest of the episode was saying, and the show never does anything other than goofy exaggeration with its dark themes, and that’s precisely why I love it.

      • Posted August 8, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        Maybe this style of humor just isn’t for me.

        Because you know what? After 5 episodes, I’ve realized that the only joke this show has is laughing at this girl’s failures. Regardless of how much she deserves to fail, it’s too much. You claimed the first episode balanced the comedy with sympathy; and while I initially agreed with you, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s actually true.

        There is nothing hopeful here. There is nothing optimistic. She will always fail. She must fail, because that is the only joke the show has. Even if the fourth episode didn’t expect me to laugh at a girl who thinks she’s getting molested (can you seriously not understand why I might have a problem with that?), I’d still be fed up with Watamote. It’s the anime equivalent of trashy reality TV shows.

        “Look at this miserable person! Isn’t her desperation hilarious?”

        No, Watamote, it’s not.

      • Scamp
        Posted August 8, 2013 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

        Or maybe because you can sympathise through comedy? Is that such a difficult concept to understand? That, as I said, is precisely why I love the show. Because it uses that comedy to generate the sympathy. It uses comedy to tackle these subjects. Being comedy doesn’t inherantly mean its mocking them

  18. Wodes
    Posted August 7, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Every episode of Watamote deserves to be on /r/cringe. I’m not sure if i’m supposed to laugh, cry, or vomit given how ridiculous Kuroki’s actions are.

    Although the series doesn’t go maudlin, Kuroki’s yandere relationship with the notion of popularity does become grating in its own Holden Caulfield-esque way. I can’t really describe it, but it’s similar to why so many people hate shinji in NGE–you just want to yell “Get on with it!” at a certain point.

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