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.
Scamp: Samurai Flamenco
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
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
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
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
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
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.