2012
09.27

The saga continues!


While it took me a while to warm up to this series I will say one of the better things I like that been used in practically every episode so far are little nods and references to past episodes that you wouldn’t think were so important… like a magical item you could use to teleport yourself out of any situation. Yeah, maybe I should have seen this one coming, but that was before I figured out this show was clever enough to do stuff like that.


Ugh, Asuna starting to fall into the typical animoo girl archetype.

Pro: Food that disappears once it’s expired; Con: Food that disappears once it hits the floor. I’m sure schoolyard bullies of the SAO world are having a field day with that one.


…But in what’s become standard SAO practice, it looks like even the sandwich scene served a purpose in the plot. I’m still not completely eyes-glued-to-the-monitor interested in this guild and its little squabble over a rare item, but the twist involved with how each player was able to pull off a kill in a safe-zone was what really kept things interesting.


I’m sure such a basic concept as sharing is part of any marriage, but I kinda feel like Asuna’s whole bit on in-game marriages being so great because it means you can’t hide your inventory from your partner was a bit too much. I woulda been more comfortable with her spouting some lines from No Doubt, myself.


With the amount of layers this single arc has made, I was actually glad when the true villain finally showed his face and monologue away any of the viewer’s questions about who was stealing what from who and for what reason and how and… ugh. So many layers. And all while wearing a drastically different wardrobe than before that makes you look even more like a villain.


Quite the grim ending with the smallest silver lining of hope this time around. Though now that the whole idea of players coming back as ghosts at their graveyard has been toyed with, I wonder how that’ll come back in later episodes. I’d hate for it to be used to dues es machine all the players back to the real world safely while each having their own “no place like home” moment, but at the same time I wonder if such could be pulled off without resulting in me rolling me eyes.

2012
09.26

It’s been another month-ish since the goings-on of last episode and this time around you can really tell.


To be thrown into the middle of the rebels planning to destroy the Death Star latest boss where not only is Klein there but also Asuna and the rest of the fighters from three episodes ago is jarring in a good way. Kirito is smack in the middle of a group that ostracized him back in episode two and yet for the time being it seems like everyone’s fine with it. And then we immediately skip forward to another month in the scene following the opening animation. Intriguing.


I’d say that it feels out of character for Kirito to be relaxing while everyone else is prepping for the next big fight, but then I realized that even five episodes in we actually don’t know all that much about him. Sure, we’ve seen him wipe out massive amounts of baddies and develop some kind of strong emotion towards not wanting to lose any lives in the game, but in terms of personality there really isn’t that much introduced to him outside of him being a really good at SAO. I think it was Brink’s dad in the Disney movie that said something about your hobby being something you do rather than something you use to define yourself? I’d use this as a cue to take a stab at Erik von Detten’s acting career, but I think that speaks for itself.


I will say the series has been doing a good job of creating in-game situations where someone can really screw over another player. I don’t even think pokemon allows you to fight another person while they’re asleep (pokemon, maybe, but never person) and use it as an opportunity to actually kill them.


Really good to know that the developing relationship between Kirito and Asuna isn’t taking any of the more predictable tropes out there, too. Outside of his gaming prowess, Kirito actually doesn’t fit the shy anime nerd stereotype and is rather useful in a pinch not just in terms of fighting, but in terms of getting people together to work as a unit to calmly assess the situation. The same can be said for Asuna who doesn’t fall into the typical “out of my league” girl character but doesn’t lean towards the “girl power to the point that it’s more parody than real” side, either. Having her call the shots and having Kirito take the more passive role when they found the hanging man was a small but for a lack of a better word, progressive choice. They’re even noticeably close in height, if that even means anything. I’m sure the young Tina Feys of the anime watching community gave a small cheer during that bit.


… only to have it undone by this ass shot. Eh, animoo is as animoo does.


I’ve noticed that while it was established in the first episode to reach the 100th floor to get back to the real world, there’s been a bit of traveling up as well as down the floors. Makes sense not to bum rush things when your life is literally at stake, and this is an MMO so I guess the back-and-forth should only be expected. (I’d insert some kind of Castlevania II backtracking gripe reference but having never played it, I’ll shy away and just say to look up its AVGN and Sequelitis videos on YouTube.)


In-game marriage? Geez, this show’s got everything. Kinda makes me wonder how one would follow up with that if the couple ends up getting back to the real world.


And end the episode with another death (after an unexpected emotional breakdown filled with Death Note style cinematography), leaving the resolution for next time. I’ve been iffy on the series so far, but with the level of “who’s the killer” type of cop-drama in this episode, I will say I’m actually looking forward to watching the next episode. Though I will say that keeping a murder witness near an open window in the middle of the day was a rookie move, Asuna and Kirito.

2012
09.25


After some CBS Survivor level drama, it looks like the focus of the episode this time around is Silica—a beast tamer that doesn’t prove to be one of the more mentally stable characters we’ve met so far. She doesn’t seem crazy in a “beg for fingernails on the subway” sense, but if you cried virtual tears over what essentially serves the purpose of those Teddie Bears in Earthbound then that has to count for some level of crazy. It’s been a couple months since being stuck in SAO but c’mon.

So in no time Kirito pops up and mentions that her partner beast can be reborn in what I can only describe as that giant nursery in the first season of Digimon with all the digi-eggs waiting to be hatched. And even then, only if the owner makes it there within three days of their beast’s death. I get that time constraints have been a part of MMOs and the like, but geez… da’s tough.

Hm… pervy fans that want you in their guild as the cutesy mascot member, or mysterious dude in a trench coat that flat-out said he’s being helpful to you because you remind him of her sister… #JapaneseGirlProblems.

… and only in Japan would the situation be turned completely on its head to have the guy character completely not in the know while the underage girl character begins to develop some completely inappropriate tension with him.

The number of gizmos and doodads this episode is reaching Doraemon-level heights. The fact that such items exist and just happen to suit the interests of the characters for the sake of the plot isn’t all that big of a problem, and it makes perfect sense considering they’re in an MMO, so I guess it’s not all that problematic for now.

Insert Kirito’s incredibly out of left field backstory set to a walking/level grinding montage. I get that having Silica remind Kirito of his “sister” is enough to trigger going into the story of his family, but it still seemed a bit out of place since the focus up until now leaned more towards Silica, which I would usually be fine with…

…if it weren’t for the fact that nearly all the monsters that have attacked her have some sort of tentacles. Friggin why, SAO? I’d show a screencap of this scene a couple more seconds in to show what the monster looks like, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t that kind of website.

And finally the actual drama of the episode kicks in. I will say that it’s an interesting twist to have some players still act dickish and want to kill off other players even though they’ve been told that means actual death in the real world. Still, did they have to make their dramatic appearance after hiding behind trees? I get that they’re in a videogame, but to appear in such a Hanna-Barbera fashion kinda killed the mood.

The Battousai the Manslayer talk on top of the cop show-level twist to end the fight did bring things back up a bit, though. Geez, these sentences are just getting more and more dense with references and unlikely comparisons.

2012
09.24

Looks like Kirito’s been going solo for an unspecified amount of time and was able to gain the trust of one particular guild.

Token girl aside, they seem pretty interesting… or at least as interesting as a guild can come off as within the first couple minutes before the opening sequence. Interesting to know that the entire group knew each other from their school’s computer club irl. Any mentioning of a computer club in my animoo makes me think of the one from Haruhi. Oh, Day of the Sagittarius…

Good to know they addressed the one thing I was gonna get ready to gripe about had it not been brought up. Just who exactly is in charge of publishing the paper? Did the people that gave up on fighting and stayed in the villages decide to pick it up to at least be somewhat useful? Does Akihiko just send everyone status updates on what everyone else is doing? (sidenote: Picked up where I left off in Persona 3 Portable. Akihiko remains the one character whose dialogues I actually listen to all the way through if I’m tired of listening to Junpei/Vic McDerpaderp).

I wonder if the show’ll take a page out of other RPGs and give the girl characters super skanky armor that somehow provides the most in terms of defense. Considering the length of Sachi’s skirt, I’d say it’s decent for someone below level 30, but any level higher and she might have to start skimming through catalogs for something new to equip…

Oh the whuu? Coulda sworn the twist at the end of the first episode was that Klein was one of the first to die in the world. Woulda really set quite the unforgiving tone throughout the rest of the series. I mean, I guess it’s nice to see a familiar face, but still… eh, I guess it’s what I get for not paying as much attention as I should be while watching.

A “track” option? Because girl gamers didn’t need any more reason to feel less inclined to play this game. Maybe it’s something only higher levels could do since her guild didn’t really seem to bother to find her themselves. Kirito and his level 48-ness, I tells ya. He probably gets unlimited storage in his dropbox.com account with stats like his.

Friggin Kirito, maxing out his social link. Actually, now that I brought it up, I wonder how “intimate interactions” would transfer to the real world. There was already some kind of technical mumbo jumbo about how your mind is fooled into thinking it ate in the real world by eating in SAO, but what about… blah, I’ll stop there. It’s definitely not the type of animoo to even warrant that amount of thinking towards.

I could understand bringing in Klein for all of two seconds into the episode, but to introduce the guild this episode only to kill them off halfway through? And then to quickly jump to Christmas Eve? Cold-blooded of you, SAO.

The whole bit with Kirito’s search for the rare item seemed incredibly rushed to me. Half the episode was used to try and build up the guild’s character as a whole which was alright, but nothing special making me not really care when things bleed into the second half of the episode. While I’m not tired of Kirito’s character, I will say I’d care for him more if the episode took the time to linger on some of the more important things he’s gone through in this world. Maybe not a Casshern Sins level of linger, but a significant amount more than what I’m seeing so far.

I will say the last couple minutes of the episode was the perfect mix of sad and awkward (Sachi’s message sounded more like something a creepy ex would leave in your voicemail the more I think about it) that would make even Casshern proud. Or whatever you’d call the sentient robot equivalent of “proud.”

2012
09.15

Obscure sicknesses aside, I’m back… hopefully with a more positive outlook on the series.

You know the one incredibly amiable guy in school that gets along with everyone and seems too perfect to be an actual human so you spend your downtime from secretly worshipping him to find evidence to out him as a robot designed to observe out species? Yeah, blue-haired guy is the SAO-equivalent. I’m betting his avatar pre-plot-twist was his exact face… either that or an incredibly ugly dude just so he could see a life outside the bubble for once.

You’re telling me that one month and 2000 player deaths later, Kirito still hasn’t buddied up with anyone? You’d think “hey I’m a beta tester and actually know my way around here” would be quite the pickup line for anyone.

Then again, I guess social norms (and “abnorms”) are still a thing even in an MMO. The “form a group of six” bit was basically this world’s equivalent of your teacher asking to form a group for a surprise study exercise and it just so happens to be the one class where you know absolutely no one so you end up with the incredibly socially awkward guy and the guy with a thick accent for groupmates. I’m writing all this based more on observation over actual experience, by the way.

Alright, so I guess saying you’re a beta tester isn’t the way to go in this world. Though even if you do buy into the idea that the beta testers went off to take all the easier quests for themselves so they can leave everyone else in the dust level-wise, that still wouldn’t explain why this guy would assume that some beta testers even bothered attending the current meeting.

Based on the scene itself, it looks like the turnout was rather low. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were a similar meeting being held elsewhere all under the assumption that a majority of the gamers would attend it. Isn’t there a more efficient way of organizing these kinds of things? Even hitting the “select all friends” option when creating a facebook event for “losing” your phone seems like a better means of keeping tabs on everyone than this. I guess SOA spent most of their budget with face-scanning helmets as a priority first and foremost.

Thank you black guy for stealing some of blue-haired-guy’s thunder during the meeting. Good to know that while they’re still rather token, people of color have become more of a voice of reason and less of a well… stereotype. (sidenote: Watch the Black Dynamite animated series. Think a blacksploitation version of Forrest Gump.)

The bread in this scene alone reminded me of the first episode of FLCL. Though with significantly less sexual tension. And robots.

You’re telling me it took a full month and the users just waiting for their manuals to be updated with new info before being able to take on a level 1 boss accompanied by two lackies? Sure, there’s the whole “getting over the fact that you’ve become a pawn in some sick tech nerd with a god complex’s evil plans” thing, but I feel like that would have taken two weeks tops to get over. Maybe two and then some if you’re really sensitive.

Alright, so looks like Diabel was using his nice guy persona to hide the fact that he was a beta tester and wanted the final strike bonus whatevermajig. But the dialogue seems to sweep even this negative bit of information to the side to give more precedence towards his “nice guy”-ness in the form of flashbacks from ten minutes ago. He dies in the end, so I guess I don’t have too big of a problem with this.

… and in the twist of the century, the mysterious cloaked girl Asuna ends up being super pretty not to mention skilled even though she’s never had any experience fighting in a group before. Her mix of cute and capable works, so I guess I’ll let it slide.

May I turn everyone’s attention to this guy—the most normal non-anime-looking person in a world where your true self (read: normal non-anime-looking) is your avatar. May he turn out to be the best character in the show.

And of course the victory is soured when the same guy from before brings up how no one but a lousy beta tester could have figured out that the boss monster’s sword was different than previously mentioned. The more the characters delve into the whole hatred of betas, the more I don’t get it. Makes me glad that Kirito pulled a Dark Knight/epic microphone drop moment on them and took the whole thing in stride, newly equipped outfit and all.

2012
09.09

Thaumatropy Podcast

The first episode of the Animation Revelation podcast has been released!

http://animationrevelation.com/podcastep1.html