37 CommentsMonthly Roundups / By Scamp /

May 2014 Roundup

Ginko is all fuck yo rules Smoky the Bear I can smoke in the forest if I want

Mushishi is the best show this season.

You can stop reading this post now.

That is all you need to know.

…ok maybe here’s some other stuff

What’s Hot

Scamp: Tonari no Seki-kun

Tonari no Seki-kun - 21 -26[2]

Mushishi is the best anime, but I don’t like writing about the same thing two weeks in a row so instead I want to say a little something about a show that ended this month. Tonari no Seki-kun was an absolute joy. I don’t think there was ever a week where the jokes really fell flat, which is a remarkable achievement for something that was basically a single gag sketch comedy. A big part of the reason why it succeeds where so many other short anime fail is it gives jokes room to breath. It doesn’t rush through everything at breakneck pace because it only has 7 minutes. It’s delicate and poised, giving proper room for comic timing and the dramatic pause. The anime adaptation didn’t add much to an already impressive manga, but what it did add really helped improve the series. I wish they did add a bit more, since they clearly understood what it was that made the comedy tick.

Shinmaru: Ping Pong

Ping Pong  - 08 -29[2]

Sports anime really live and die by their characters. Many of them follow similar paths: struggles, failure and redemption. Sports lend themselves easily to a certain narrative structure. That’s why the characters are so important — they bring these silly competitive games to life. The Ping Pong cast has definitely made me care about their athletic foibles. Part of it is because they are inherently interesting, but just as big a part is how the show frames their development. There’s a solid economy of character development at work here. Ping Pong doesn’t leave everything unsaid, but it leaves just enough to the imagination and attention span of the viewer to create better engagement. Like, a lesser show would have made a bigger deal of Wenge speaking Japanese after his humbling defeat in the earlier tournament. But Ping Pong trusts the viewer enough to make that connection, and I feel like it rewarded everyone with that scene of karaoke bonding, which might be the most heartwarming scene I’ve seen this year. My heart fluttered. But yes, with the art style being wild and the athletic feats dynamic, I enjoy how relatively understated the emotional development is. Even Smile, who doesn’t express much emotion, is sympathetic to me. He just became what a lot of people pressured him to be. In its own way, the scene where he shares in the joy of the new ping pong balls with Ota is as good as any other in the series.

Inushinde: No Game No Life

No Game No Life - 08 - Large 12

I must say that I did not anticipate enjoying this as much as I have. It may have the creepy fanservice and uncomfortable exploitation of an 11 year old girl that we all expected, but it also has a game of shiritori that destroys the laws of physics and unmakes Earth in order to win a library. It may make its main characters into paragons of perfection who view the world they’ve entered as little more than an elaborate game, but it also makes that game into a crucial element that pervades every aspect of existence. Most surprisingly, buried in its many over the top moments are genuinely profound moments of character development on the part of the deceased king, whose apparently inept rule may have not been as disastrous as initially thought. For how skeevy it is, No Game No Life is probably the most consistently enjoyable non-JoJo show of the season, and I never thought I’d say that.

What’s not so hot

Scamp: Mahouka

[HorribleSubs] Mahouka - 08 [480p].mkv_snapshot_13.45_[2014.05.25_14.24.26]

Since nothing else is leaping out at me from the handful of shows I’m still watching, I’m taking the easy route out and picking my hate-watch for the season. Because holy moly is Mahouka ever a steaming pile of crap. It’s bad on almost every level. Half the episode is taken up with explanations of their magic system which are like having someone read out a fucking textbook to you. I can actually follow the magic now, but that doesn’t make it any less tedious. The animation is bland and directing insipid, putting no effort into making endless talking heads visually appealing. Even during one of the very few action scenes, the fight choreography is boring so it can’t even fall back on that excuse. For something that is this boring on a purely surface level, it barely matters how the story itself essentially amounts to a fuck yours got mine mentality. But that’s there too if you truly want to dig deep into the shit-pile to discover the ebola-virus at the core.

Shinmaru: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

jjba-stardust-crusaders-oh-god

Before y’all flip out, I can assure you that unless something goes terribly wrong, this is the only time you’ll see this down here. I put JoJo in this spot for a couple of reasons: 1) Per usual, I dropped everything I don’t give a shit about, and 2) It took WAY too long to get to the part of Stardust Crusaders I actually care about. If I’m worried about any aspect of the adaptation, it’s how thoroughly faithful it is to the source, specifically all the dialogue. Characters are talky as hell in JoJo, because they’re actively trying to figure out what their opponents can do to them, but that works differently in manga form than it does in anime. What takes a few seconds to read in silence in manga takes way longer to listen to in anime. It all adds up. It’s not so bad when it’s the characters tooling around and doing silly nonsense; that’s a lot of fun. It’s bad when there’s supposed to be tension, and it feels more like the show is stalling. The episode where Polnareff battles the evil doll is exactly how it should go: The battle is always moving, and whatever talk there is happens when Polnareff is getting stalked or stabbed by a killer doll. Combine that shit with action or cut it out entirely and let the visuals tell the story. You can keep the pace snappy, David Pro! I believe in you!

(I almost put Mahouka in this spot, just because I feel like I’m watching it because I read Scamp’s posts, but I like Scamp’s posts, so my Mahouka experience has been quite positive.)

Inushinde: Black Bullet

Black Bullet - 08 - Large 04Black Bullet isn’t the kind of show that I expected to chill me to the bone, or to provide profound insight on the nature of exclusion. After all, this is as generic as light novel trash gets. It really hasn’t done much to back up those nonexistent expectations either– which is fine. I’m okay with a dumb show as long as it plays off of its dumb strengths, and uses its internal logic in the most ridiculous way possible. The end of the first arc is one of the finest examples that I’ve seen, making a prosthetic arm-shooting railgun a plausible means of conflict resolution. It makes sense in-universe, and displays self-awareness that really endears the show to me. This is what generic light novel trash should aspire to be.

As is par for the course though, the best ideas have been spent by this point, and Black Bullet has since flopped around aimlessly in search of some gimmick to latch onto. Unlike No Game No Life, which takes everything to its logical conclusion, Black Bullet has yet to follow up on the unabashed goofiness of ad hoc prosthetic weaponry. Having an antagonist named Ayn Rand who wants to take down the current government doesn’t count. It isn’t despicable like Mahouka, but it lacks any sort of hook past occasional glimpses of clever plot resolution, mostly buried under painfully glurgy melodrama and overused BGM.

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37 Comments

  1. ANON
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    you liked NGNL but not black bullet..

    Inushinde’s taste is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe.

    • Someone Else
      Posted June 2, 2014 at 5:58 am | Permalink

      It makes sense though since black bullet is a train wreck with the pacing at ridiculous speed, but hey he doesn’t like it for a different reason so I could be wrong

      • Pleb
        Posted June 2, 2014 at 6:06 am | Permalink

        But No Game No Life is terrible and exists only to pander to Otaku.

      • Someone Else
        Posted June 2, 2014 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        Pandering to Otaku isn’t necessarily a bad thing when you make sure to focus entirely on the Otaku audience and doesn’t cover it. It also makes itself as entertainingly over the top as much as possible with the energy from its execution makes it not as bad as Mahouka

      • Gan_HOPE326
        Posted June 2, 2014 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

        NGNL may have pandering, true, but it’s very self-aware and that’s something going for it. The problem isn’t if it’s pandering to otakus or not – whoever finds Shiro attractive in a sexual sense, I find creepy. The problem is: does it have something for everyone else too? And for me the answer it’s yes, I’m having a blast with it because the games are fun and creative, the direction and general execution is good, and the pacing is very upbeat and keeps you engaged. As far as “shows with ridiculous premises” go, it’s very entertaining. Doesn’t say anything deep in any way but hey, better than Mahouka, who tries to say something deep instead and fails horribly.

      • Posted June 2, 2014 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

        I think I’d like NGNL if I thought the games were smart. The only time I ever actually thought the resolution of a game was clever was for the rock-paper-scissors game, and after that, all of the games became boring. They’re crazy over-the-top, yes, but lots of other anime are crazy over-the-top and don’t make me put up with creepy otaku pandering or an obnoxious Gary Stu. I just don’t see what’s so special about a guy destroying the Earth in a word game that should make me put up with the obvious bad of NGNL.

      • Kenjeran
        Posted June 4, 2014 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        Both NGNL & Black Bullet are otaku pandering, but NGNL is far more entertaining

    • Hanasra
      Posted June 4, 2014 at 2:36 am | Permalink

      So, not even 42 can answer Inushinde’s taste?

  2. Cobrah
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 1:44 am | Permalink

    That karaoke scene in Ping Pong was fantastic, and Ping Pong is general has just turned into a pretty awesome show. It’s my first Yuasa anime and I’m kind of excited to check out some of this other stuff.

    Oh, and Captain Earth is still kind of crap by the way, just in case any of you were wondering.

    • jherb33
      Posted June 2, 2014 at 4:46 am | Permalink

      im struggling to continue watching captain earth every week – maybe it will pay off in the end – it is a 25 ep show..

      • jherb33
        Posted June 2, 2014 at 4:46 am | Permalink

        and ping-pong the animation is my favorite spring show this year by far..

      • Posted June 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Isn’t being a 25 episode show even more of an incentive to not continue with Captain Earth? Because then you have to put more time and effort into keeping up with a series that you’re struggling with and might disappoint in the end? I never got that “more episodes = creators can afford to goof off more” mentality.

  3. Nagisa33
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    Gundam Unicorn is the most recent anime experience that felt fulfilling for my brother and I. It’s our favorite Gundam series along with War in the Pocket. The characters are strong such as Marida and Zinnerman who rock my socks. The music deserves a special note. Pieces carried more weight each time they were used and they do an excellent job at evoking emotion. Also, pieces were often remixed as the series went on which elicit a different mood. For example, this instrumental version of the first ED reminded me of important past events.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9u8-ZcPLdUI

    Gundam Unicorn ended on a high note and we’re going to end our Universal Century experience here. Many themes were explored further and with more detail. Certain threads were satisfyingly tied up. Connections to past series were abundant which served to connect the works more effectively. I couldn’t be happier with Gundam Unicorn and I feel content with the Universal Century as a whole.

  4. D1356035
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    Ok yeah I’m gonna start watching NGNL, I expect to love it/hate it like I do the Monogatari series. Other than that, yeah you nailed JoJo’s problems. I re-read the Yellow Temperance fight and it took me around 10 minutes to complete it, sure having 2 stand battles per episode would be too much though. I hope that when fights get 6 manga chapters they adapt all 6 into an episode, since that was approximately what they adapted in each Season 1 episode.

    • Posted June 2, 2014 at 4:08 am | Permalink

      Actually, they only ever adapted that many chapters into an episode once or twice. Most episodes were only about 4 chapters long. Also, I think they’re going to keep on with the current pacing as next week’s fight is titled Part 1.

      • D1356035
        Posted June 2, 2014 at 5:10 am | Permalink

        Oh OK, I must have picked an outlier in my counting manga chapters/episode. Still The Emperor and Hanged Man is an important fight so I just don’t hope we get 2 episodes of Lovers or Justice.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 3, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      I feel like they can nail most Stand battles in a single episode given proper pacing. We’ll see, though.

  5. Shikamaru
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    What’s hot: One Week Friends

    What am I going to say so that people would give this anime a second chance? Most people dropped this anime because they think that it’s boring. I can’t change your mind on that. I love it. It has really simple concept but it works. Girl loses her memories every week. You can create lot of sad and happy moments around that concept, but it never feels cheap. The characters are all really likeable. I especially love Saki, who is basically combination of Osaka(Azumanga Daioh) and Renge(Non Non Biyori). Maybe that’s a bad way to explain it, but I suck at explaining things. I wish more people would watch slice of life or “boring” anime like this.

    What’s not so hot: Nothing.

    I’m enjoying every single anime that I’m watching and I have already dropped all the shows that I don’t care about.

    Other anime thoughts:

    Chaika. This is pretty entertaining adventure anime. Nothing special but nothing bad either, I enjoy it every week. I must mention one thing. Chaika is ridiculously moe! Eyebrows, boots, hair, eyes, dress, hair accessories and that speech pattern. One of the moe-est(is that a word? moe-est?) girls in anime history.

    Mushishi. It’s awesome, but of course it’s awesome because it’s Mushishi.

    Mekakucity Actors. Shaft being Shaft is strong with this one. It’s really interesting story too. I was surprised that this was any good at all. I have to say that it’s really hard to follow this without getting confused. Which characters are dead, which are friends, which used to be friends, which are siblings. AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!!! Other than that this series is awesome.

    I’m also 100% sure that if Shaft animated Haruhi it would be my favourite anime of all time. That would be perfect! I’m hoping that 10 years from now Shaft decides to animate Haruhi.

    Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou. Wow. This series is actually really funny. There is one annoying character, but all the others are really good. Also one of the girls, Kawai, looks amazing. The way they draw her in some shots is amazing. http://i.imgur.com/DYNa4Rz.jpg
    Look at that, that’s so beautiful

    I also finally watched Durarara!! It was awesome. Four years ago I thought it was boring. I thought it had too much talking and too little action. There are 2 reasons why this series really works. The cast of characters is so large, different and interesting. And the other reason is Izaya. One of the best anime villains ever. I just want to punch this asshole in the face.

    I will also never understand fujoshi girls. Izaya x Shizuo is a terrible pairing! They are both seme characters, who is the uke in that pairing? Apparently it’s Shizuo. Fine. I don’t get it. Because Shizuo taking a big dick up his ass makes perfect sense.

    One last question for Scamp. As a guy who was born in 1990 I know how much Pokemon used to mean to you. My question is, What does Pokemon mean to you today? For example, did you buy pokemon X or Y? I’m just curious. I bought X and I already have decided to buy Alpha Sapphire when it comes out. Pokemon will never leave me alone.

    • Someone Else
      Posted June 2, 2014 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      One week friends is weak. Hey I like my shoujo (It’s NOT shounen I’m telling you) but it doesn’t leave much impact even though I watch it. I even forget what happens every week (haha I’m so funny) but still isn’t as awesome as Tonari Kaibutsu and Kimi ni Todoke and Chihayafuru. It plays too safe

      Mekaku is like Monogatari. It’s fun when they are talking about nonsense but when they try to make sense you either fall asleep or you’d rather listen to your favorite music

      Chaika is surprisingly rarely mentioned by The Cart Drivers though. The way they make jokes with straight faces makes it very entertaining. If ever I’m sure that’s the type of humor The Cart Driver is looking for

      As for mushishi, I really liked Season 1 and many times I wished for a new season but now that it’s here I’m not feeling the sense of hype I had back then. I guess my taste change after watching too many craps and now I have a shite taiste

      • Nagisa33
        Posted June 2, 2014 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Chaika is surprisingly entertaining. It’s not the most original thing out there, but it’s fun to watch. I still don’t know why Chaika talks in incomplete sentences. To make her unique?

        I’m digging Mushishi more than the first season. The episodes that delve into depression, loneliness, or isolation resonate with me.

        Speaking of Monogarari, how many more series can we expect after this coming series? It’s almost at it’s end right?

    • Ken
      Posted June 2, 2014 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

      One Week Friends and Chaika are great.

      As for Shaft, I’m upset with them for making (the cash grab) Madoka Magica: Rebellion so I can’t root for anything they do right now.

  6. Kubukurin
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Jojo on the what’s not hot list on The Cart Driver well now the world is truly doomed.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 3, 2014 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

      Don’t worry, the world will be doomed only this month!

  7. Rihan
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Is anyone else watching Chaika? I’m actually enjoying it a lot. Its probably my favourite new show this season.

    • Ken
      Posted June 2, 2014 at 6:53 pm | Permalink

      Yes. Chaika is probably the best thing Studio Bones is doing right now.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted June 3, 2014 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Yep, I am still watching and enjoying it!

  8. Mr. Anon
    Posted June 2, 2014 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    What’s Hot: Haikyuu

    If you have a soul (so not you, scamp ;)), and you’re not watching this, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

    • Zirthiel
      Posted June 2, 2014 at 6:02 pm | Permalink
      • Mr. Anon
        Posted June 3, 2014 at 12:08 am | Permalink

        But is everyone else? Because they should.

      • Scamp
        Posted June 3, 2014 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

        Haikyuu is pretty good, albeit it gets too shouneny sometimes with its inner monologues and shouting.

  9. Posted June 2, 2014 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

    >Kong is best girl

    Amen, brothers and sisters, a-men.

    • Scamp
      Posted June 3, 2014 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

      I almost put Ping Pong on my Not So Hot list because of what they did to Kong in the last episode

  10. hint
    Posted June 3, 2014 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    The only anime of this season that makes me want more every week is Baby Steps. Watching the obsessively analytical mc improving at tennis is like savoring each sip of fine wine.

  11. fluffymoochicken
    Posted June 4, 2014 at 3:20 am | Permalink

    I think Shinmaru’s big problem is that he’s read the Jojo manga, which is still many times better than watching Jojo anime adaptations.

  12. Fireminer
    Posted June 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    “Black Bullet is as bad as generic light novel trash could get”?

    So, you’re not a Light Novel reader, I could conclude that. But at least read a piece of the original source before making that broad statement. It was made to not to be for the mainstream, unlike Mahouka or SAO of this season.

  13. Strident
    Posted June 29, 2014 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I found Ping Pong to be extraordinary and the best anime of the season, if not the year, particularly on how it perfectly nails the themes of glory, human interaction, uncertainty, pride, and much, much more combined without outstanding production qualities.

    Stardust Crusaders is at its best when Jotaro and Star Platinum take the spotlight.

    I find No Game No Life to be frankly infuriating. It takes the reader/viewer and assumes they are an idiot who will just be satisfied with their ‘games’. The lack of sanity of the ‘Chess’ game and the vagueness and implausible victory of the Shiritori game offended me as a chess player and as a student.

    Black Bullet is much on the same level for me. Three things irritate me the most about that show:
    1. It assumes character development that doesn’t exist. I’m supposed to be invested with these girls, because discrimination, when it’s more like beating up a puppy and asking if that makes me sad. No, I’m not sad, nor am I angry at the society they live in for beating up these girls. I am angry at the show for beating up a puppy for no reason.
    2. It takes itself WAY too seriously. With the level of writing this author has, it’s impossible to be sad or hyped about jack in this show. For example, Satomi naming all of his attacks and giving them long ass names is supposed to make me pumped right? Wrong. This is the show using the technique name cliche to its very worst- to the point where the viewer realizes what they are doing and cringes as a result.
    3. The author underutilizes his universe. He gets a good zombie/kaiju-esque apocalyptic setting and then does the most uninteresting things with it. For one, varanium is like kyptonite- it’s a boring weakness for the Gastrea that I can’t get hyped about because it’s everywhere. The society is racist, because racism is something everyone can get behind. The protagonist is Robocop, except less interesting on all accounts because lolis gravitate towards him for being a “kind onii-chan”. And then he doesn’t even get to look as badass as robocop because he needs to have skin so that he can have a skinship with his loli-harem+obligatory childhood friend and big breasted girls, some of which are tsunderes.

    Despite all that I said on Black Bullet, it doesn’t really piss me off too much. It’s kinda like one of those moments where you realize “I could’ve wrote this crap and it would’ve been twice as good” kind of moments, but then you realize you wouldn’t be a financially successful because god damn it, loli-harems.

    In any case, both No Game No Life and Black Bullet are about at the same level of trash in my mind, with some redeeming values that are exclusively entertainment wise.

    I stopped watching Mahouka 5 minutes into the first episode, when I realized everyone was either Tatsuya’s suck-up admirer, or a dick.

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