Annotated Anime Roundup: Winter 2014 Week 8


Peach Maki is my new jam

Hi, Karen here--I'm taking over for Josh this week because he appears to be having some sort of technical trouble: if I recall correctly, his way of putting it was that his computer now resembled "Jenga pieces in a hurricane" or something like that. Still, the show must go on, so the rest of us pitched in to bring you your regular coverage of Sakura Trick, Pupa, Saki: The Nationals, Onee-chan ga Kita!, Hozuki no Reitetsu, Tonari no Seki-kun, Magical Windslash Bike Fairy Manami and Engaged to the Unidentified.

You may also notice that this is something like the fourth week in a row that the header image for the Roundup has been from Hozuki no Reitetsu, and you know what? I'm not sorry about it at all. If other anime want to get a shot at Roundup stardom, they need to start portraying more dancing cows and demented, Willy-Wonka-esque music videos.

Karen Mead

Yowapeda 20

He's flying

Okay, first of all, everyone watching this show knew this was going to be the screenshot this week from the second they saw it, right? Right?

This week, we learn all about Manami-kun, which would have been really interesting if I actually cared about Manami-kun. Don't get me wrong, he seems like a very nice fellow (and apparently some kind of magical sylph nature boy who can predict gusts of wind), but I'm just not that interested in him. I want the Sohoku characters to get more time to do something other than pedal furiously, and I still kind of resent it when these characters from other schools dominate the episodes. What little interaction we got between Onoda and co. was nice, but it wasn't enough.

Unfortunately, as we get closer to the InterHigh competition, the various competitors are probably going to be getting more and more screen time, so I'm going to have to either deal with it or drop the show. Still, can't I just get one filler episode where Onoda and co. go out to Akihabara and hang out or something? Is that really so much to ask?

Engaged to the Unidentified Episode 8

Why does everyone love Benio?

This episode of Engaged exemplified both what I love and hate about this show. On the one hand, there was a lot of focus on Benio's obsession with little sisters and Konoha's related obsession with Benio, and I was sick of all that oh, half a dozen episodes ago. On the other, they move forward the "Will Konoha try to get together with Hakuya since they're both the same kind of creature?" storyline in the quick, sensible, no-bullshit fashion that I've come to expect from this show.

Basically if you could just excise all the Benio stuff, this would be my show of the season, hands-down. It's not even that the Benio is never funny; I got a kick out of her exaggerated despair when Kobeni told her that a situation "doesn't involve her," because nothing is scarier to her than the fact that something isn't about her, and her narcissism is actually amusing. But there's just so much of it, and it does nothing for the main "I Can't Believe My Betrothed is A Magic Dog-Guy" plot.

Anyway, speaking of the main plot, now that Konoha has made her intentions clear, I'm afraid that Kobeni is going to push Hakuya away in the mistaken belief that it's "better" for him to be with his own kind, even though it breaks her own heart to do so. I'm hoping that Kobeni (and this show, for that matter), will prove smarter than that. Yes, sure, give us conflict, just don't have her do the thing where she lies and says she hates him in order to manipulate him into the arms of another woman (or esper, or Dog-girl, or whatever the hell Konoha is) for his own supposed good. I'm just really sick of that device, personally. Let's hope this show continues with its penchant for refreshingly honest communication.

Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time 9

Knitting master

Interesting idea this week: What will Yokoi think if the "master" takes up something that she's actually a master of herself? I had no idea that there was so much technique involved in knitting, but I guess I really shouldn't be surprised.

I like the fact that Yokoi is asserting her own personality and isn't just "the girl who reacts to Seki-kun" anymore. Learning that she's into knitting fits in with her behavior of admiring Seki-kun's attention to detail even when she doesn't want to; as a fellow craftsman, she can't help it. Now that he's doing something she knows a lot about, she can fully appreciate just how hard-core he is about everything in a way that she couldn't before.

I wonder though, why did Seki destroy the plush toy when Yokoi wanted to hold it? I think it's because if he gave it to her, she might show it to someone else and tell them about his creative efforts. Maybe it's the Seki/Rumi 'shipper in me, but I think he wants their in-class activities to be a secret that only the two of them share; that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Hozuki no Reitetsu Episode 8

feel the art shining through

First of all, I'm rocking out to the Peach Maki idol song, and you should be too. Yes I know it's a hyper-sugary Jpop song that isn't supposed to make sense, but that's why it's great. Hell has good taste in music.

Hozuki and Sakura Trick may not seem to have much in common, but one trait they do share is the fact that one half of the episode tends to be much more interesting than the other. However, this was the first week I can remember where I actually enjoyed both halves of the show, as opposed to loving one and kind of shrugging my way through the other. I did prefer the mural-painting story because I'm a sucker for anything about art (and one of this show's best qualities is how it shows off traditional Japanese art, as well as less traditional art that's still inspired by it), but the whole show was solid.

I know Hozuki is portrayed as being kind of asexual, which is part of what makes him the perfect, uncorrupt-able government worker. Still, I can't be the only one who was kind of hoping he would go out with Peach Maki; Tabloid Cat is right, they would make a cute couple. How adorable would it be if the two of them went to a little Hell restaurant and ate Hell shrimp while a musician played a little Hell violin? Then they could go back to his place for a little bit of discrete Hell sex, which is probably just normal sex only Enma stands over you and nods approvingly.

Brittany Vincent

Pupa Episode 8

For some reason, Utsutsu and Yume are at school and accosted by a ragamuffin with a knife. They're kidnapped and taken to a super dark warehouse area or something to that effect. I couldn't really tell, because everything was so dark I may as well have been watching a black screen with flashes of white to cover up the Scary Weapons and Violence. At any rate, this creepy guy harasses our hero and heroine, haranguing Yume for being a monster and Utsutsu for being gross and letting her eat him over and over. But wait -- I thought that they were trapped with the lady in the hat? Is this part of her master plan to conceive some kind of child? What in the fresh hell is going on? I'm so confused.

[More confusion over at Crunchyroll!]

Onee-chan ga Kita! Episode 8

It's the dawn of a new year, and Ichika is still just as infatuated with her brother as ever. Kouki is still struggling with getting along with Tomo-kun, but the beginning of the year brings a wind of change for their rocky friendship. It turns out Kouki is a pretty nice guy. And Tomo is infatuated with Fujisaki-san. Meanwhile, Ichika is just as psychotic as she always is. There's not much of a plot brewing here, but I can appreciate the breezy atmosphere and casual slice of life back-and-forth between all the characters that have slowly been introduced. I'd like it if Ichika became less of a zany comic relief character though, and showed some kind of real growth. I'm sure that's not going to happen.

[Ichika is Tomo-crazy over at Crunchyroll!]

Sakura Trick Episode 8

It's amazing how gullible and silly Yuu actually is. When Haruka is invited to a wedding and her mother says she can invite a friend, of course she turns to Yuu, with fantasies of her best friend in a cute dress and a wedding they might someday have. Haruka calls up Yuu to ask her to go as a guest and Yuu thinks they're actually going to get married. It's cute, but it really makes you wonder how naive Yuu really is. The whole time the couple goes shopping for dresses and getting ready for the wedding, our orange-haired heroine thinks she's getting ready to commit to Haruka for life. When the truth comes out, it's adorable how disappointed she is, but Haruka is there to console her through it all -- and dole out some kisses, of course. The second half was a heartwarming Christmas episode, where Haruka and Yuu share a loving embrace and Yuu acts the most "aggressive" I've seen from her yet, initiating a kiss that lasts all the way through the Christmas light show. Sakura Trick is a continually adorable yuri fix for me and it's getting cuter every week. I don't know how much more cute I can take. And when are they going to be caught kissing? They certainly aren't taking any care to make sure they won't be, are they?


[Steamy yuri goodness over at Crunchyroll!]


Jeff Chuang

Saki: The Nationals episodes 7-8

East, always east.

What's more surprising than Hisa's recovery back into second place is that I'm here writing up this recap after sufficiently medicated for what passes for a cold. Nonetheless, Saki: The Nationals goes no-nonsense as the pre-semi-finals match continues while the top player from Osaka claims her lead for good. The Atago sisters, senior and junior, take their places in the spotlight across these episodes, capitalizing on Kiyosumi's mistakes. Well, just Hisa's so far.

Nodoka, in relief of Hisa, plays one of her best openings yet, by going into full Nodocchi immediately. It's extra-unusual if you think about how before the start of the fourth leg of the match, the weirdest things happen as our monocle-wielding goalie punts Etopen, and the tan-infused Miko teleports into the arena, seemingly with just Nodoka noticing this physics-defying act.

It's only fitting, then, that Nodoka remains oblivious of the pure voodoo magic going on with having ultra-luck with the four winds: the Daisuushii, one of the largest yakuman in the game. Eisui's Utsuzumi summons some weird stuff that better fits a stereotypical African voodoo ceremony, but only to be shot down by Usuzawa's deadly stare. Her eye sparkles when she activates this power, and it's one of those willpower-draining spells that she can only use so many times. Naturally, the drama plays out that Nodoka continues to be oblivious to how she plays her winds, forcing Usuzawa to play it safe by locking Utsuzumi again and again, perhaps to Nodoka Haramua and Kinue Atago's advantage. It all works well to give us some empathy to the harsh-eyed goalie and her flashback to the formation of her mahjong club.

Finally, we see some signs that Nodoka is finally getting it when she thinks back to a conversation with Hisa about such superstitions. What will she do next week?

[Go to Crunchyroll to see voodoo magic battles in Saki]

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Josh Tolentino
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Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


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