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November Roundup

Galilei Donna - 07 - Large 03

Slightly late monthly roundup, but I’ve been on holiday and am now moving country to start a new job. It’s all very exciting and hectic. Don’t worry about the blog disappearing or anything. Hey, I got out that season preview on-time and as in-depth as always, didn’t I?

What’s that? I missed Strange+, D-Frag and Buddy Complex from the new TV series list? Well shut up we’ve got a monthly roundup to do.

What’s Hot

Scamp: Samurai Flamenco

Samurai Flamenco - 08 - Large 16

Even before we get into the now infamous Gorilla incident, Samurai Flamenco was getting increasingly brilliant. They kept building on the previously introduced characters and ridiculousness. Every episode upped the stakes and the people involved. Between the Flamenco Girls forming and the stationary weapons man, the whole shebang was just wonderfully nonsense. Then came the Gorilla incident. It may prove to be the shark jumping moment that ultimately undermines the whole show. Part of me is still waiting for the camera to pull back and a director to shout “aaaaand cut”. But for the moment it happened at the continued fallout, it’s been brilliant, and has managed to continue being hilarious albeit in a totally different way now. I have no idea what to make of Samurai Flamenco anymore, but gosh is it fun to watch.

Shinmaru: Phi Brain

phi-s3-05

This is mostly because I spent a decent chunk of the month watching all of Phi Brain, including the currently airing season, so this totally all counts. Anyway, Phi Brain is an amusing series. It’s one of those shows where everything revolves around one thing — in this case, puzzles. The first season is fun but a bit disappointing since it doesn’t take nearly enough advantage of its main conceit to create ridiculous visual designs; it’s a bit too gloomy and serious, which doesn’t work often enough. (Though I do like what it does with Gammon near the end.) Then the second season gets weirder with the puzzles and is much better for it, while actually having some legit decent episodes along the way. This third season has been going along a good path: dually exploring the past of Kaito’s mentor, Jin, and throwing out as many ridiculous puzzle assassins as possible. (The highlight, of course, Col. Demolition Man. Yes, that is a real name.) There’s dissension among the villain’s now, with moe moe Raetsel more suspicious than ever of hot shot world leader Johan Sigmund Enigma. (Another actual name.) Phi Brain is mostly quite silly, with puzzles that are solvable only by the show’s geniuses and very stupid villains. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Puzzle time, go!

Inushinde: Non Non Biyori

img_non05faces_01

I like to do my very best on Hottie/Nottie lists to avoid using the same series twice, as difficult as it can be. Sometimes though, a show just needs to be praised time and time again for doing so much right. Non Non Biyori isn’t the only show that’s striking oil made of gold-encrusted diamonds with each episode, but it’s sure as hell one of the most pleasant, while subtly fleshing the characters past their predetermined personality traits. It all adds up to a show that continues to be the most relaxing, yet engaging watch of the season.

What’s not so Hot

Scamp: Yowamushi Pedal

Yowamushi Pedal - 08 -5[2]

Picking on Galilei Donna is a bit too easy, so instead I wanted to vent a little frustration at Yowamushi Pedal. Or more like vent frustration at myself for believing this would be any different from other generic shounen sports shows. Introducing the red haired Kyoto kid was a bad start. The kid is just irritating as fuck, jumping in and acting like Blackstar from Soul Eater by demanding everyone pay attention to him. But I guess what got me in the end was how repetitive the main character going “OMG CYCLING” in his mind became, particularly over things that simply weren’t that exciting. His dramatics upon falling off his mommy bike at that race and screeching as though a fucking dragon was chasing him was absurd. I haven’t caught up completely but from what I’ve heard they’re still on that same race so frankly I don’t have much interest in catching back up again.

Shinmaru: Galilei Donna

Galilei Donna - 07 - Large 33

How dare you accuse me of taking the easy way out, Scamp! Anyway, I am going to take the easy way out and write about Galilei Donna. It’s fun enough as a light-hearted adventure series, albeit an adventure where the clues to Galileo’s secret moon treasure or whatever are basically handed to the girls on a silver platter. But at least there’s a charm and a sense of fun to the girls’ adventures. Who doesn’t want to watch a goldfish mecha blast stuff? But then things have to get Dark and Serious. Galilei Donna is trying hilariously hard to grab for pathos by blowing up little kids and shooting a bunch of people in a hospital without electricity. Did you know that “pathos” means “to make the audience laugh as much as possible via shit drama”? Look it up, it’s true! The latest episode is probably what works best for the series at this point: a simple story where Torpedo Twintails is guilted as much as possible for participating in an Evil Plot. So of course next episode I’m expecting our suited assassin to stuff a grenade in the mom’s mouth and blow her head up Scanners style or something.

Inushinde: Log Horizon

Log Horizon - 08 - Large 32

Galilei Donna aside, it’s sort of difficult to pick a show that I’m watching, but find it to be doing shit significantly wrong. Up until the founding of the show’s namesake guild by the main character, Log Horizon had been doing a sufficiently good job of hyping up the mundanity that inevitably happens when the infrastructure of an online game’s society is completely co-opted by living, thinking humans. I don’t entirely buy that the running of player-run organizations is the most interesting thing since ever, nor the taste of food, but the enthusiasm with which the show explains things is energetic enough to make it feel like more than a gimmick.

And then, sometime in the past few weeks, Log Horizon started devolving into a near retread of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha. Seeing as the two have source material by the same author, I was expecting them to have quite a few similarities to begin with, but the level to which the two intersect goes beyond merely being an authorial preference, straying dangerously close to downright copy/pasting Maou’s meeting with the merchants toward the midpoint of the series. It’s done slightly better here, but I’m still knocking it for blatantly reusing the same fucking scenes. I mean come on.

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42 Comments

  1. Time Traveler
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    *November* roundup, guys. Not December.

    Look at the titles of the previous roundups.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

      What? We have no idea what you’re talking about!

      (It has been fixed. Thank you. Scamp wasn’t kidding when he said it has been a hectic time for him!)

  2. Posted December 3, 2013 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    Of course you are not alone there, Inushinde. Everybody was like, disappointed. Even I thought it was great when the main character declared, “My guild, Log Horizon!” But alas, how could I forget that this is the same braindead fool who wrote MMY? I watch anime for entertainment, damn it! I don’t want these visual lectures! I can simply go on a quick trip to a book store and buy a book of Politics 101 if I really need it. Also, just like in the past, this author is trying too hard to appear smart, when his lectures are actually really shallow. Oh yeah! Laws are made by people, for people. Who didn’t know that?
    Le sigh.

    • Cirith
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

      Eh I like politics and manipulation in stories, the author just isn’t all that good at it. As you said it’s pretty shallow.
      Also I wish he wouldn’t let other characters hype up the MCs actions. Oh he isn’t stupid but it wasn’t all that impressive either.
      Still I do get some enjoyment out of Log Horizon, though I was more optimistic at the beginning.

    • Gan_HOPE326
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      I kinda enjoy Log Horizon without putting too much expectations in it. I’d say its biggest issue is pacing. Take the latest episode – it was a nice bit of plotting on Shiroe’s side, and it could have well counted as a great Crowning Moment of Awesome for him. It was defused by the fact that the twist was dropped through the entirety of twenty minutes. Had it been quicker and sharper it would have worked better and wouldn’t have felt like the guy was trying to teach us Politics 101, as you say.

      However, the “law is made by people, for people”, for such a simple concept, seemed to be disregarded there. It was appropriate because it stressed the fact that the APPEARANCE of law (an infraction being sanctioned by what appear as ‘guards’) is not the same as ‘true’ law. Consider that this series is supposed to be educational and I’d say aimed at a rather young target. It’s not that bad if you see it in that light (of course can be boring for us grown ups, but that’s just the way it is, we shouldn’t be watching kid’s shows in the first place or we don’t have the right to complain that they’re childish).

      • Philippeo
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:29 am | Permalink

        Log Horizon is enjoyable enough.

        the problem is writing about politics and manipulation is very difficult. other anime/manga also fail like Log Horizon. Log Horizon at least tried, even though its not that good.

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

      Again, I really appreciate the author’s enthusiasm. He does know what he talks about, and his excitement is palpable, but it just isn’t conveyed very well. And who knows, maybe there was some nuance that the adaptation failed to pick up on.

  3. Shikamaru
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Samurai Flamenco would be my choice for “What’s not so hot” EASILY. I could also pick Golden Time or Kyoukai No Kanata but they still have a good chance to redeem themselves.

    Little Busters Refrain would be “What’s hot”. They have done amazing job animating Refrain. I can’t recommend the anime but if you are huge fan of the visual novel then you should be really happy right now. When the “goodbye scene” happens in Refrain I will once again weep like a little girl. That will mark 5th time that I cry while watching anime.

    Thank you Inushide for once again mentioning Non Non Biyori. It’s fun, relaxing, adorable and yet you can’t call it moe anime. At least I wouldn’t call it that. When I watch moe anime I have this really stupid/greepy grin on my face. When I watch Biyori I just have nice casual smile.

  4. Lanf
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

    I dunno man, I turned out the latest super technique to pedalling harder is singing ‘HIME HIME, SUKI SUKI DAISUKI~’. But yeah, the Kansai kid isn’t the most original thing, I mean I think he’s even from the same area (as evidence by their **** of Naniwa nickname) as Sendo in Hajime no Ippo.

    Asides from that, it really is annoying the route Gallei Donna took. The first episode showed so much promise, but it turned out the awesome space pirate dude just shows up randomly and doesn’t have that much of an agenda.

    Show of season defo Walkure Romanze though. Too. Legit.

    • shytende
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

      My main problem with Yowamushi Pedal is that it is far too slow, and far too few things are hapening to justify it.

      Also, thnks Shinmaru for mentioning Phi Brain ! Nothing to add here. It’s a pretty fun ride.

      • Shinmaru
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

        Phi Brain > everything else mentioned here.

    • Cyber-Kun
      Posted December 4, 2013 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

      I still enjoy Yowamushi Pedal. It is so generic it is amazing, SO AMAZINGLY GENERIC! It is generic in every sense of the word, but I am amused half watching it every new episode.

    • Scamp
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

      I did kinda like him singing that dopey song, but that part of him has taken a backseat to OMG CYCLING

  5. fathomlessblue
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    @Scamp

    Yup, Yowamushi Pedal became progressively worse to the point I had to drop it or go insane. It isn’t just the red-haired kid, or that the mc spends 80% of every episode shouting “Imaizumi-kun!” with a grin on his face that makes him look like Yuno from Future Diary; it’s that the show is terrible as a sports series. You can tell there’s genuine passion for teaching kids about the joys of biking, & it pulls off the edutainment parts alright. Unfortunately, the writer has no idea how to implement tactics, either in biking skills or environment and psychological changes, meaning the solution to every hurdle is to draw from some magical reserve of mana that bypasses natural strength and endurance, to pedal even faster. It’s boring as fuck. Tsuritama was proof enough that passion for a hobby isn’t enough to save a crappy series.

    @Inushinde

    Totally agree with you on Non Non Biyori. It doesn’t nail every scene, but the directing in this show is far better than anyone could have hoped, & it really generates a sense of childlike magic in even the most mundane acts. Plus, evil rabbits.

    @Shinmaru

    ONE OF US, ONE OF US, ONE OF US, ONE OF US, ONE OF US, ONE O-

    • Scamp
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      If you want a nice short good cycling anime that gets the tactics perfectly right, watch Nasu Summer in Andalusia.

  6. Wodes
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    No Monogatari love? Sure shinobu’s arc was boring as all hell but it was in this month that the world was introduced to the glory that is Kaiki narration!

    Im glad to see phi brain getting some love though. It’s a really goofy show but I just find the puzzles really amusing~

    • Scamp
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

      Nope, this month was the worst for monogatari yet. You’re letting the one good episode for the new arc cloud your judgement

  7. Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    “Things I’m watching that gets so many things wrong”: Yes, Galileo Donna is easy pickings, but not nearly so easy as Unbreakable Machine Doll, a show I may be watching only to get to the ED and its animation. You’d think it would be easier to just cut-and-paste that bit, or find it on youtube, but Oh, No, through some mysterious power’s employ, I am compelled to watch the episode that precedes it, too.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted December 3, 2013 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      Haha, I didn’t even bother with that series.

    • Posted December 4, 2013 at 2:08 am | Permalink

      Glad that somebody mentioned Unbreakable Machine Doll’s ED. The sequences are really eyes catchy and well directed, and the song is fun too. The only good thing about the show. The content itself consists of nothing but Raishin getting hurt and Yaya crying over his ragged body.

      • Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

        Oh, there’s more than that. There’s the Yaya being intensely jealous because another girl has entered the same county as Raishin.

      • Inushinde
        Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm | Permalink

        And Yaya crying endless streams of pearls. That’s okay, though.

      • Cirith
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 1:50 am | Permalink

        Hey it also has a girl whose only purpose is to have big boobs while being ridiculously clumsy and unable to do anything besides getting help from the MC. And then there is the incredible generic tsundere (the show almost tricked me into believing that she was a tsundere interested in someone who isn’t the MC, but that was quickly solved by the guy being evil).

        I liked the fight in the first episode, and then I kept watching and grew increasingly frustrated.

  8. Ken
    Posted December 3, 2013 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    So far my two favorite shows this season are Kill La Kill and Non Non Biyori. Two shows that couldn’t be more different. I would put Silver Fox in a similar category as Non Non Biyori, but not as high up.

    Both Samurai Flamenco and Galilei Donna are the biggest let downs. And I was loving Coppelion until one of the main characters turned into a pathetic crybaby.

    I’m also finding Miss Monochrome to be a short bit of mindless fun, and I still can’t stop watching her dance at the end of each episode.

  9. Posted December 3, 2013 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    The 38-episode length was my main motivation for ditching the show early on (sports shows are slow enough as is), but damn I didn’t expect Yowamushi Pedal to be THAT slow. How long has it been since the race started? More than a month?

  10. Posted December 3, 2013 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    No love for Kill la Kill?

    • Shinmaru
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      I write about it every week and give it plenty of love there! Can’t speak for the others, but I try to highlight stuff I’m not already blogging about every week.

  11. Posted December 4, 2013 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    My favorites this season are Kyousougiga and White Album 2. I’m enjoying Samurai Flamenco a lot too, but I’m still fearing that it can turn into a letdown quickly.
    Little Busters! Refrain is pretty good, too. Even skipping stuff from the VN it’s a step above the first season. But I can’t see it getting as good as the original.

  12. Nagisa33
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:30 am | Permalink

    This season is a lot of fun. Here’s the order of how I’m digging the series:
    1 Kill la Kill
    2 (???) Samurai Flamenco
    3 Kyousou Giga
    4 Monogatari Series: Second Season
    5 Golden Time

    Monogatari was meh for me with Nekomonogatari: Shiro and Onimonogatari. I’m getting tired of the pedo stuff. I can’t just disregard it as they make it way too clear whenever it happens. The time traveling arc and the newest arc are a pleasure to watch. Golden Time is moving fast with the relationships but the characters make surprisingly mature decisions when faced with difficult situations (most of the time). For Samurai Flamenco, we’ll see where they take it. I love the characters and the quirkiness.

    Good times for me this season. What about you guys? Besides the obvious Samurai Flamenco event, what surprised you most about this season?

    • Shinmaru
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Kyousougiga is my favorite of the season so far and is basically a slam dunk choice for my top five of 2013. Kill la Kill is second, then Samurai Flamenco and Kuroko. Uh, let’s put Phi Brain somewhere, too.

  13. Posted December 4, 2013 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    I don’t really have much to say about the anime featured (except maybe that I should really start Samurai Flamenco) but

    Slightly late monthly roundup, but I’ve been on holiday and am now moving country to start a new job.

    Good Luck! Have a safe trip.

  14. Someone Else
    Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:11 am | Permalink

    Dropped Yowamushi for same reason. Still I’m surprised that Log Horizon ended up in this list. It was kind of average but the politics in it is kind of fun in a way, but probably because I’ve been reading few EVE online stories which are pretty similar.

    Scratch that, EVE online stories are far more entertaining

  15. Posted December 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Shinmaru wins the round, I wouldn’t mind having puzzle time with him. You know, whatever that means.

    • Shinmaru
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

      Get your Orpheus Amulet ready.

  16. Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

    What loon watches a sports anime week-to-week?

    • Posted December 4, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

      With few exceptions, sports and magical girl shows are marathon material.

      Non Non Biyori is probably the One School Girl S’life Anime You Should See This Year. It utilizes the rural setting for just enough novelty to stay interesting and it’s got sincere sweetness. Check out episode 4 if you’re interested.

      • Nagisa33
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 2:15 am | Permalink

        I was waffling before but thanks to you and the other commenters you convinced me to check out Non Non Biyori. I could use a pleasant experience that makes gives me a “nice casual smile.”

      • Shinmaru
        Posted December 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

        A fair point. I would say something like Kuroko’s Basketball is right on the line of being good week-to-week watching. It’s definitely a ton of fun to marathon, but enough happens each week to keep things moving at a decent pace. It helps that none of the games has overstayed their welcome yet.

    • Kenjeran
      Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:45 am | Permalink

      The problem with Non2 Biyori is that it tries way too hard to be funny (especially the deadpan girl). The joke kinda hit-or-miss (but it miss most of the time). The slice-of-life part is enjoyable, though.

      • Nagisa33
        Posted December 6, 2013 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

        My waffling strikes again! I’m not going to watch it. There’s bigger fish to fry (or sauté in a creamy lemon and butter sauce.)

  17. Posted December 6, 2013 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    Kind of disappointed that none of you are watching White Album 2. That show needs to be appreciated more for the way it portrays subtle character interactions and the growing tension of a love triangle.

  18. Cobrah
    Posted December 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm | Permalink

    I’m assuming by this point that I’m one of the 12 or so people still watching Coppelion. Every week I tell myself that I’m going to drop it, yet I keep coming back. At this point I’m going to finish it out of spite.

    Kyousougiga is easily my number 1, but I’ve been really enjoying Samurai Flamenco as well, even with the Gorilla Incident. Can’t say that didn’t make the show at least memorable.

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