And we’re back with another exciting edition ‘A Crunchyroll of the Dice!’ Round one of the tournament has now hit the half way mark, so with this episode, we’re marching on towards the second round, where the winners will be facing off in episode two battles. As always, before we begin, I’ll give you all a quick reminder of the rules:
- I pick two series at random on Crunchyroll and watch the first episode
- If it has multiple seasons, I go with season 1
- I have to at least try to watch the episode, no matter what show I get
After I watch both episodes, I give a quick run-down of my thoughts on each and then compare them in several categories, giving points to the winner in each. Last time around, we had two enjoyable shows where an over-reliance on fan service scuppered the victory for one. This week, fan service fails to rear its head in any significant manner, leaving the two shows to face off on pure grounds. So … what series did I draw this time? Well …
I was happy to draw this series first, as I am vaguely aware of the premise, and thought that it sounded pretty interesting. So anyway, we open up with the lead, Yuki, sleeping. She’s got pink hair (because anime), is cuddled up to her teddy while she snores, and is soon woken by a cute little doggy named Taroumaru when he gives her doggy kisses. Yuki realises that she’s late and pulls on her school uniform without washing … actually, do any anime characters wash in the morning? I can’t remember any. Anyway, Yuki bounds along the school halls because she loves going to school of late and her favourite part is the ‘School Living Club’. Next comes the opening theme, which is suitably bouncy and happy sounding so as to go against the things that will emerge as themes in the series.
Next come the other club members: Kurumi, who has arm warmers and a shovel, Mii-Kun, who reads, and Rii-san, who cooks. Yuki questions why Kurumi has the shovel, and Kurumi starts to talk about it having a high kill ratio during the war, but Yuki wanders over to Mii-Kun in the middle of the story to ask what book she’s reading (it’s a Stephen King novel, by the way), which draws Kurumi’s ire. Yuki mentions that she almost headed straight home because she’s so ditzy, and Rii-San looks a bit concerned. That’s OK though, because Yuki recognises the smell of her cooking: spaghetti and meat sauce. Taroumaru leaps on the desk, shuns Mii-Kun, and Rii-San has to scare him off the desk with a doom-stare. Yuki starts to eat quickly, and Kurumi tells her to savour the food like Mii-Kun, which leads to Yuki imitating her. Finally, Yuki finishes her food at high speed and runs off to be class helper, again remembering that school is awesome. In fact, school is so good that pupils want to stay there day-in and day-out.
Yuki makes it to class, but is too late to erase the board. She does follow her other duties, however, and leads the opening ceremony … then falls asleep. Mii-Kun interrupts class, but looks a little confused, like she didn’t even notice that class was going on. She apologises and back out, and Yuki pulls a sicky so she can see what Mii-Kun wanted. It turns out that Taroumaru has gone missing. After Mii-Kun starts interrupting other classes, Yuki points out that Taroumaru doesn’t like Mii-Kun, and they theorise that it’s because she isn’t as lazy as Yuki. They hear the doggy barking and go running, but when they find him, Yuki scares him off. Finally, they reach a barricade made of desks, and Taroumaru runs into the home economics class, wreaking havoc on the desks. Ignoring the barricade, Mii-Kun tries to retrieve the runaway pup, but he escapes again and scarpers up some stares, stopping at a door. Kurumi opens the door and lets him out onto the roof, then brandishes her new shovel. She offers to help subdue Taroumaru, promising not to sue the shard edge, and Yuki agrees! There’s a brief tease for the pup running to Mii-Kun, be shuns her at the last moment, only to finally be stopped by another doom-stare from Rii-San. Rii-San reminds them of the School Living Club Charter, and Yuki decides she needs to be more responsible … but Taroumaru has escaped again. She and Mii-Kun run after him, and Kurumi remains on the roof to stare darkly at the other pupils walking around the sports field below.
The chase continues and the physics lab goes crash, the music room goes crash, and broadcasting goes crash. Finally, we return to the club room and Taroumaru is now on a leash. The girls are eating hardtack and Yuki makes a throwaway comment about it tasting like survival, which Kurumi agrees with. As it happens, Yuki was supposed to take Taroumaru for a walk yesterday, which is probably why he ran off. Speaking of running off, Yuki left her backpack in class, and dashes to retrieve it. The others start to discuss how they think her permanent good mood is nice, but Yuki comes back to tell them that she loves them all, then leaves again. Mii-Kun runs after her to watch out for her, and Kurumi and Rii-San share a knowing smile. Back at class, Yuki explains the adventures of the day to her friends. Initially, they think Taroumaru is a boy, so when Yuki says he tried to pull her skirt off, they’re shocked. She finally reveals that he’s a dog and all is well though. Mii-Kun turns up and looks upset about Yuki telling them all how cute Taroumaru is … and the room is suddenly in ruins. Windows are smashed, desks are over-turned, and only Yuki remains, though she keeps talking like the others are still there. Something has clearly happened, and the school looking all pristine is a delusion. The traumatic events have either driven Yuki mad, or this is an extreme coping mechanism. Either way, Mii-Kun doesn’t tell her. Meanwhile, outside, zombies are wandering around everywhere, and trying to get through the desk barrier. The ending theme is pretty chilled.
Lupin III Part 4
We cut to San Marino, Italy, where Inspector Zenigata is on the hunt for the notorious gentleman thief, Lupin III. Lupin III is apparently getting married and has invited his old adversary to the wedding. Then we get … Oh my, that classic theme. An updated version of the old 80’s one that is so iconic and appeared in the old Nintendo game. The animation feels French to me for some reason. The style is a little different, like an old Lupin III cartoon but coloured in a style that looks like it falls between paint and old style Western comic. Anyway, Zenigata arrives at the alter and demands that they stop the wedding. The wife to be, Rebecca, asks Lupin if that’s his boyfriend, and Zenigata storms in insisting that Lupin would never get married. The local police drag him out and the wedding continues.
At a restaurant, Rebecca tells her butler, Rob, that she wants fries, not three-star food, and asks for the pianist to be removed. On another table the gang (Fujiko, Jigen and Goemon) are discussing Rebecca. She debuted as a model at 16, appears in gossip columns and comes from a well-to-do family. Lupin fell for her at first sight and won her over pretty quickly, which all led to the sudden wedding. Lupin wanders over just as Fujiko decides to leave, and Goemon asks him what he’ll do about work because he’s you know, an international thief. Lupin says he’ll probably just settled own and tinker in the garden, so Goemon and Jigen leave with Fujiko.
Outside, Jigen asks Fujiko if she’s jealous and she denies it. Jigen decides that she’s going to be making things difficult. Meanwhile, in Rebecca’s fifty-fifth home, she and Lupin are cuddled up with vintage wine. She shows Lupin a private jet that she’s designed, built to stand out and get people talking. As it happens, they’ve only known each other for one month, but Lupin apparently has the type of face that she likes. Lupin dives out of his clothes (literally) but Rob appears and stops him doing anything until after the ‘ritual’ tomorrow.
Zenigata is under arrest, but can’t convince the police that Lupin is a thief. As luck would have it, a Lupin card turns up proclaiming what his next crime will be: the theft of the priceless crown that members of Rebecca’s family where during the ritual ceremony the day after their wedding. Lupin sneaks out while Rebecca sleeps, and makes contact with Jigen. Jigen tells him that Fujiko is getting suspicious. Goemon is feeling a bit moody, so Jigen offers him coffee and reveals their plan. Much to his chagrin, this was kept from Goemon because he’s a terrible liar. Zenigata turns up where the crown is on display, ready to protect the artefact. He questions one guest, asking if he’s secretly Lupin, then spots both Lupin and Jigen on another level of the castle. Lupin insists that he didn’t send the card and … the crown is now gone! But it’s OK, because the guest that was accused of being Lupin has taken it to put in storage. A rooftop chase ensues with Zenigata pursuing both Lupin and Jigen, and Goemon appears, using his sword to drop a tree on Zenigata. Lupin decides that Fujiko must have sent the card, which leads to … the man with crown unmasking as Fujiko. The police step in to try to stop her, then Zenigata turns up, then Lupin joins the fray, and Fujiko drives off on her motorbike. Jigen snipes the bike’s tyre out and Lupin reappears to catch the crown. Lupin and Fujiko argue, Zenigata catches up, and the police capture Fujiko. Jigen and Goemon want to leave her to her fate, but her pitiful cries cause Lupin to turn back and trade the crown for her freedom. Jigen complains that that was a lot of hard work out the window, but Lupin isn’t so sure.
The police agree to keep an eye on the crown, and Police Captain Patrick takes the crown for safekeeping. Lupin catches up with him and accuses him of sending the card. Suddenly another Patrick appears upstairs! The Patrick with the crown unmasks, and it’s Rebecca! Shock twist! Rebecca doesn’t actually care about the crown, just the thrill, and so another chase ensues. She knew that Lupin was after the crown the moment he proposed, and she finds it all very exciting. Having gotten what she wanted, she gives Lupin the crown and leaps from the roof. Lupin jumps after her and grabs on to her. He’s annoyed about her using his name, you see, but she points out that they’re married so she’s technically Lupin too. Rebecca lands in her jet, and Lupin slows his fall on a tree branch. Fujiko finds him after he crashes to the ground, and it transpires that Rebecca got the crown anyway. Rob will put it back in secret, and Rebecca can keep up her fun until she’s bored. Meanwhile, Fujiko asks for her wedding present back as it wasn’t a real wedding, and Lupin realises that Rebecca hasn’t signed the divorce papers! D’oh! The episode ends with Zenigata turning up again and starting another chase. A great, vintage soundtrack is topped off with a fun little swing piece for the ending theme.
Let the battle commence!
I will now compare each series on several different aspects. The winning series in each category gets two points, and both series get one point in the case of a draw. The battles will be: Best Opening Episode (in terms of achieving the goal of setting the series up), Best Main Character, Best Supporting Cast, Best Storyline, Best Animation, and Best Soundtrack.
This is actually quite a hard one to judge. In the case of SCHOOL-LIVE! the episode plays out like a slice of life piece, lulling you into a fall sense of security, then blasts you with the shock ending. Even knowing that this was coming, it’s still pretty effective. Meanwhile, despite the slight update in style, Lupin III makes a successful trip into the realms of nostalgia and creates an effective reintroduction to the band of thieves. Both episodes are effective in telling you what to expect and whetting your appetite for me, so this one is a draw. Best Opening Episode: Draw
Yuki vs Lupin. What makes this interesting is that Lupin never really changes. Even now, he’s the same old, cheeky master thief. Meanwhile, Yuki at first appears to be an atypical chirpy lead. What sets her apart is the revelation of the twist ending. What state her mind must be in and where that could lead is intriguing. Had she been left as the happy-happy-happy lead girl without the twist though, I would have honestly found her a lot more annoying and far less interesting. That tips her to on par in terms of interest for me. Best Main Character: Draw
So with SCHOOL-LIVE we get the other club members, and with Lupin we have Inspector Zenigata and the gang members, Jigen, Goemon. Oh, and Rebecca and Fujiko. For the most part, the supporting cast are fairly one dimensional in both shows. I know, I know, sacrilege. Honestly though, in terms of these two episodes, very little is done with any of them other than Kurumi, Fujiko and maybe Rebecca. Kurumi clearly has a twisted edge to her, and her shovel is clearly a weapon of zombie destruction, which hints at her own coping mechanisms being more violent than the lead girl, Yuki’s. Fujiko is shown to be manipulative, wrapping Lupin around her finger with her sudden switch to fear when she’s aught, then switching back to aggressive straight after. Meanwhile, Rebecca’s thrill seeking is a nice little addition to the dynamic. We learnt more about the ladies of Lupin III in these episodes, so that takes it. Best Supporting Cast: Lupin III Part 4
OK, this may prove unpopular. I love Lupin III as a series, I do. Let’s be honest though, it’s not a storyline that’s going to set the world on fire for originality. Lupin III is fun, exciting and a great example of episodic anime. SCHOOL-LIVE! though … OK, so zombie apocalypse is overused as a setting and I freely admit to not being a huge zombie fan but the delusional coping mechanism twist is intriguing. That is a far better hook than Lupin provides in terms of long-term storytelling. Best Storyline: SCHOOL-LIVE!
So this one is an odd one. Neither show does anything wrong with the animation. SCHOOL-LIVE! goes for character designs that border a little more on Chibi style than you’d expect for the type of story it is. This clash of styles is a good choice, and the overall quality is good, if not outstanding. Lupin III Part 4 seemed to have a lower frame rate than SCHOOL-LIVE! but the style is a little more original looking in terms of anime. So both have good points. Best Animation: Draw
It all comes down to this final category. A mass of draws and one win apiece makes this one a crucial showdown. SCHOOL-LIVE! is fine in what it does. The themes fly against the feel that the show is going for by the end of the show. Lupin III though, goes full on old school. The vintage theme song, the funky background music, the classy closing theme … it’s an easy win. Best Soundtrack: Lupin III Part 4
Final Scores: SCHOOL-LIVE! – 5 points, Lupin III Part 4 – 7 points
This was actually a scarily close race for me. Both episodes sped by and really did a great job of setting up what’s come, but the nostalgia of Lupin III just about helped to give it an edge. Either way, I’d like to see more of both, but for now, Lupin moves on to round two to face off with the winner of the first ever Crunchyroll of the Dice article, Love Live! School Idol Project. What makes that interesting, is that Love Live! defeated Sword Art Online with the same score line as Lupin III has advanced with!
Well then, all that’s left is for me to thank you for reading through to the end, to say that I hope you enjoyed my latest ‘Crunchyroll of the Dice’. Round two will now start to shape up with the winner of the next episode moving on to face Rio Rainbow Gate, the one after moving on to face off with Flying Witch, and the one after that squaring up with Kiznaiver.