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Tag Archives: Sword Art Online

Fall 2014 First Impressions

Hello everyone. I’ve been on a little hiatus for the better part of the past year, but I want to get back into blogging. I’m not sure how often I’ll be writing new content, but I have to start somewhere.

Here’s my thoughts on Fall 2014’s anime lineup followed by my recommendation of either “watch,” “maybe,”  or “don’t watch.”

Terra Formars – While I was intrigued by the idea of an anime that dealt with the subject matter of a terraformed Mars, in the end the first episode didn’t sufficiently hold my attention with its mediocre story and dark art style. (maybe)

26696609Denkigai no Honya-san – A wonderful mash-up of the best parts of Working!! (Wagnaria) and Genshiken, this series is set in an anime bookstore with a great cast of moe characters, romantic comedy and jokes any serious anime fan will enjoy. (watch)
Read more of this post

Alfheim Online (review)

Kirito wakes upFinal impression – what a letdown (3/10)

Fall 2012 (11 episodes) (SAO Review)

After waking up from the gorgeous nightmare of Sword Art Online, Kazuto’s first action is not to attend to his own atrophied body, but to immediately begin to seek out Asuna, his in-game wife who he promised to find after they escaped.  He finds her, but there’s a problem.  Despite clearing the game and majority of players having returned to the real world, Asuna remains trapped in her NerveGear. Filled with the pain of helplessness for being unable to save her, Kazuto attempts to return to his old life displaced by over two years while remaining by her side for support.

But when a friend from Aincrad (the world of SAO) shows him a screenshot of Asuna trapped in a birdcage, he dons his own NerveGear once again and dives into the world of Alfhiem Online to rescue her from the new prison she’s found herself in.  But he has to hurry because within a week, Asuna is going to be ushered into an arranged marriage with one of her father’s business partners.  Read more of this post

Sword Art Online (review)

Kazuto logs in for the first timeFinal impression – only half amazing (8/10)

Summer 2012 (14 episodes)

Kazuto rushed out to be one of the first players for a new form of virtual-reality gaming using a system called the Nervegear.  This device lets a player use his or her brain to play video games with a full immersion experience as if they had been transported to the actual game world itself.  The first game released is the fantasy MMO, Sword Art Online or SAO for short.  Assuming the online identity of Kirito, within hours of starting he and thousands of other players become trapped in SAO’s world of Aincrad by its creator, Akihiko Kayaba. Things get even more serious when it’s revealed that dying in the game means dying in real life too because the Nervegear has a hidden function that fries the brain of anyone whose HP drops to 0.  The only way to escape is for someone to clear the world’s massive, one hundred floor dungeon.  Read more of this post

Anime of the Week (12/23 – 12/29)

Anime of the Week – Sakurasou
Team Sakura House goes for it The best way to ensure that a performance will be enjoyable for your audience is to first make sure that you as the performer are enjoying the show. Because if you aren’t having fun, what are the chances others will, too?                              
December 23 Zetsuen Ep. 12 From a purely observational standpoint, what is the difference between fate and coincidence? They often look very similar.
Panzer Ep. 10 The final battle approaches; which will prevail? The adaptability and flexibility of creativity? Or tried-and-true tradition?
SAO Ep. 25 A happy ending for sure, but for a series that had the potential for some cool existentialism themes, it really dropped the ball.
Shinsekai Ep. 13 Something doesn’t add up. I’m much more curious and bewildered by the current circumstances than the characters seem to be.
Little Busters Ep. 12 With her quiet demeanor, love of books and penchant for solitude, Nishizono may be the character I most identify with.
December 24 Total Eclipse Ep. 25 Even after an impressive victory against impossible odds, such are the cold and calculating ways of military politics.
Jormungand PO Ep. 11 The way Koko dances the line between hero and villain is beautiful, but she just hasn’t been very fun as of late.
December 25 Sakurasou Ep. 12 When you know you’ve got to motivate people and they don’t want to follow along, the only thing to do is lead by example.
December 28 Accel World EX Ep. 1 While I love fun little spin-offs like this, I can’t say I care for the drastic decline in Haruyuki’s courage.
December 29 Medaka Box 2 Ep. 12 What an insightful, twisted and weirdly Gainax / Nishio Ishin way of ending an otherwise run-of-the-mill series.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (12/16 – 12/22)

Anime of the Week – Psycho-Pass
Unable to use the dominator, Akane attempts to use a shotgun. How can a man whose nature runs counter to a system designed to evalutate a person’s guilt based on his mental state possibly be judged by that system? What kind of twistedly perverse person could have his morality so confused that it defies the logic of society?                              
December 16 SAO Ep. 24 How simple and unimpressive. Yeah, Sugou may have deserved what he got, but that doesn’t change the fact that god mode is cheap.
Shinsekai Ep. 12 Will Saki be the one to change the world or become a member of the ethics committee? Either way, it should be interesting.
Little Busters Ep. 11 Key has always had a knack for making delightful anime and the goofy twists and turns of this series are so much fun.
Jojo 2012 Ep. 11 New depths are being plumbed. Not only does the writing make a B movie look sophisticated, they’re just making stuff up.
December 17 Total Eclipse Ep. 24 Something that’s easy to overlook in this series is the alternate history that’s been created with the military craft.
December 19 Sakurasou Ep. 11 Inspiration for innovation comes in many forms, but if you’re not inspired, how can you possibly hope to inspire others?
December 20 Chuunibyou Ep. 12 I’m not sure what to take away from the finale. There’s a definite feeling it recanted the overall theme of the series.
December 21 Psycho-Pass Ep. 11 Akane has been a kind and honest girl. What will become of her now that she has been dragged into Makishima’s game?
December 22 BTOOOM Ep. 12 It takes a lot of heart to give up immediate hope for yourself so that you can share that hope later with the one you love.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (12/9 – 12/15)

Anime of the Week – Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!
Yuuta is Rikka's pillar of support. When someone who has based his or her life around a false belief realizes the mistake, the transition to letting go and moving on is difficult. Friends can be alienated and conceptions about the world must be changed. But it’s made easier when there’s someone there who genuinely cares and is watching over you.                              
December 9 SAO Ep. 23 As powerfully emotional as this series can be and despite the great battles, all too often it’s just too predictably cliché.
December 10 Little Busters Ep. 10 If we focus too much on the sad, dark and hurtful, we can find ourselves unable to see the happy, bright and hopeful.
Shinsekai Ep. 11 When it comes to conspiracies involving modification of memories, you can always count on someone being resistant to it.
Total Eclipse Ep. 23 No matter how dire or righteous your cause, starting an idealistic war you can’t hope to win is not the right decision.
Joshiraku Ep. 3 As much as I love the concept and the cast, I just can’t get into this anime because it feels too much like an inside joke.
December 12 Sakurasou Ep. 10 “There’s always going to be someone better than you,” unless your motto is, “Don’t just be number one, be the only one.”
December 13 Jormungand PO Ep. 10 What is the price for peace? When do the ends justify the means? Is it a gradient of right to wrong or a line in the sand?
Chuunibyou Ep. 11 I would much rather live with an uncomfortable truth and deal with the consequences, than indulge in a comforting lie.
December 14 Panzer Ep. 9 A cornered mouse will attack a cat and the girls of Oarai with their happy school life at stake are pulling out all the stops.
Psycho-Pass Ep. 10 When technology can read minds, it’s human curiosity that constructs a test of character designed to reward chivalry.
BTOOOM Ep. 11 If it’s beyond a one’s limits to repay betrayal with revenge, it would seem that trust is not such a fragile thing after all.
December 15 Zetsuen Ep. 11 I always get a kick out of arrogant jerks getting put in their place, but to his credit, Samon has motives I can appreciate.
Medaka Box 2 Ep. 10 There’s a lovely, genuine honesty about finding the purpose of existence through the kind, simple mind of a child.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (12/2 – 12/8)

Anime of the Week – Zetsuen no Tempest
Anime of the Week Dialogue is a tricky thing to write in a way that’s compelling and keeps good pace. Yoshino’s ability to pontificate logically is astonishing. On top of that, he also managed to smoothly bluff his opponent into a corner by twisting information that he doesn’t fully understand. Watching Samon break down and literally start shaking in his boots just from a hypothetical conversation about metaphysics was awesome.                              
December 2 Panzer Ep. 7 All in all, this series has way too many transition episodes that serve no other purpose besides providing new information.
SAO Ep. 22 Kazuto and Suguha are all mixed up from the duality of their selves and their avatars, but Kirito needs to focus and save Asuna.
Shinsekai Ep. 10 What a terrific metaphor—a manifestation of the subconscious into reality resulting in desire shaping the surroundings.
December 3 Total Eclipse Ep. 22 YES! Fighting by the skin of your teeth, improvising tactics as the battle progresses, no holds barred action is here.
December 4 Little Busters Ep. 9 Even with its lighthearted tone and wonderfully kind cast, this anime seems to have some distinctly cryptic mysteries.
Sakurasou Ep. 9 I am so not the right person to judge traditional art. I’ll take the style of anime over a classical painting any day.
December 6 Medaka Box 2 Ep. 8 Sadly, season two is showing almost no interesting intellectual quandaries and is more of an absurd battle royal.
Arcana Famiglia Ep. 12 I put off this anime only to get a non-ending in which nothing more exciting happens than status quo being restored.
Chuunibyou Ep. 10 The climax is awkwardly romantic, but avoids typical stereotypes as the characters begin to honestly follow their hearts.
December 7 Jormungand PO Ep. 9 The characters are still great, but the story has gotten lost in the layers upon layers of schemes and conspiracies.
Psycho-Pass Ep. 9 I was thinking that a cyberpunk series should have a cyborg or two and suddenly a cyborg shows up. Am I becoming psychic?
December 8 Zetsuen Ep. 10 Yoshino’s smooth talking and terrific play with logic are an amazing, multilayered bluff with some beautifully poetic irony.
BTOOOM Ep. 10 It goes to show that while trust is important, it shouldn’t be automatic—it needs to be earned and until then watch your back.
Medaka Box 2 Ep. 9 I’d always thought it would be exciting to be able to read other people’s minds. But some silver linings have tarnish.
Panzer Ep. 8 Occasionally, stereotypes can be a little obvious, but when it gets delivered in such silly circumstances it’s really funny.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (11/25 – 12/1)

Anime of the Week – Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
Sakurasou5 Failure—I mean REAL failure—is not a dilemma that is easy to address. But Sorata’s comeback from the edge of despair to find the determination to give his dream another go is terrific. It’s truly wonderful having friends who will be there to make sure you laugh instead of cry when the weight of life gets you down. Also, kudos for sneaking in a swimsuit segment that actually felt like a natural change of pace rather than an out-of-place fanservice excuse.                              
November 25 SAO Ep. 21 All in all, this series has way too many transition episodes that serve no other purpose besides providing new information.
Shinsekai Ep. 9 I somehow find it odd that the amateurish sleuthing of these young people seems to have gone unnoticed by the authorities.
Little Busters Ep. 8 This is how an anime based on a dating sim should be done. Introduce the girls organically instead of using arcs.
Sengoku Basara Ep. 2 The worst part of this anime is that it doesn’t explain ANYTHING. Is it too much to ask for some background info?
Sengoku Basara Ep. 3 Um…What just happened? I feel like I missed an entire war and now all the characters are living out their epilogues.
Sengoku Basara Ep. 4 The characters have no personality and the battles lack strategy; banging rocks together would be more entertaining.
Sengoku Basara Ep. 5 I let Masamune’s horse-cycle slide until a mech showed up. Inconsistent doesn’t begin to describe this anime’s tone.
Girls und Panzer Ep. 6 This is how a battle should go. Teamwork, tactics, terrain advantage and a nail-biting, edge-of-your-seat climax.
November 26 Ichizon Lv.2 Ep. 2 This anime’s usual style of starting off halfway through the conflict and getting distracted along the way is too fun.
Total Eclipse Ep. 21 I know I’ve said people can’t stop fighting even in the face of extinction, but this might be taking it too far.
November 27 Eureka AO Ep. 23 To a large degree, Ao’s hesitation in the face of the inevitable decision he’s forced to make continues to be annoying.
Eureka AO Ep. 24 The drama of characters’ past decisions is made moot when it all ends up just being erased as if it had never happened.
Sakurasou Ep. 8 There is a powerful sense of drive and accomplished in the way Sorata chases his dreams with such clarity and determination.
November 28 Jormungand PO Ep. 8 Ok, we get it! Koko and Minami have a secret plan they’re working on and everyone wants in. Tell us what the heck it is!
November 30 Chuunibyou Ep. 9 My day was made when Nibutani’s attempt to get Yuuta and Rikka together succeeded genuinely, deeply and wholeheartedly.
Psycho-Pass Ep. 8 Some smart detective work, a macabre philosophical viewpoint and tenacious characters create a masterpiece of intrigue.
December 1 Zetsuen Ep. 9 Value is not intrinsic. It is a human construct that varies from person to person. We are the ones who give meaning to life.
BTOOOM! Ep. 9 Between psychological attacks on people’s character, reading body language and battlefield tactics, this anime has it all.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (11/18 – 11/24)

Anime of the Week – Little Busters!
I always love it when people find clever and creative ways to stick it to overzealous authority figures by beating them at their own game. Naoe is such a good guy for having the courage to stick up for his friends.                              
November 18 Shinsekai Ep. 8 In a world that has restored its sanity, life may be different, but human emotions and relationships are still the same.
SAO Ep. 20 Yes, Kirito saved the day, but is that really a good enough reason for two strange women to just latch on and flirt with him?
Little Busters Ep. 7 When the bullies have actual authority, it’s nice to know that you’ve got kind, levelheaded friends backing you up.
November 19 Medaka Box 2 Ep. 6 The story being told really wants a smoother kind of transition than a twenty-four minute per episode anime can provide.
Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Redo (preview) – never has there been a more appropriate subtitle
November 20 Sakurasou Ep. 7 I thought women who touch each other’s boobs were just a male fantasy—until I met some real Japanese women who do that.
November 21 Jormungand PO Ep. 7 Why can’t the other episodes that are heavy with history strike as good a balance between backstory and moving forward?
Sengoku Basara Ep. 1 This series has so many problems I don’t know where to start. The writing and theme remind me strongly of Majikoi.
November 22 Chuunibyou Ep. 8 What are the limits of love? How far can someone’s deviant behavior go before their personality gets in the way of romance?
November 23 Psycho-Pass Ep. 7 I find artful depravity fascinating. Though I’d condemn it, I find it even more fascinating that I find it fascinating.
November 24 BTOOOM Ep. 8 The timing of this history lesson was impeccable. I really like how this series addresses the psychology of altruism vs greed.
Medaka Box 2 Ep. 7 I like how there’s always something clever woven into the proceedings of every twist and turn the story takes.
Zetsuen Ep. 8 I’ve always liked characters that are driven by revenge, but rarely are they so pivotal to the progression of the plot.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week (11/11 – 11/17)

Anime of the Week – Psycho-Pass
Every so often there is a moment in an anime that solidifies that series as a mold-breaker. It doesn’t even have to be something big. But when Kagari accuses Akane of harboring secret feelings for Kougami, she doesn’t act shy or deny it like so many characters in that circumstance. She just laughs it off as the baseless accusation it is. And the icing on the cake is I got to hear a rare instance of Kana Hanazawa’s cheerful laughter.                              
November 11 Kamisama Kiss Ep. 1 Initial impression – almost no original ideas (4/10)
SAO Ep. 19 Racial stereotypes are too prevalent and the setting of Alfheim Online only supports this kind of behavior, but with no context.
Shinsekai Ep. 7 Thus ends the queerat arc. Next is this anime’s chance to redeem itself and be more philosophical about its world building.
November 13 Total Eclipse Ep. 19 I really had hopes this would be a great, military series. But it handles romance so poorly it’s just ridiculous.
Little Busters Ep. 6 One of the great strengths of the writers at Key is their ability to tell sappy stories that don’t feel fake or corny.
Sakurasou Ep. 6 It’s reassuring to know that when your best just isn’t good enough, someone has your back and will still acknowledge you.
November 14 Ichizon Lv.2 Ep. 1 I love how this show takes the fourth wall and blasts it into a million pieces while poking fun at overused anime tropes.
Jormungand PO Ep. 6 I badly want to know how this backstory stuff relates to Koko and operation Undershaft, because I don’t think it does.
November 16 Chuunibyou Ep. 7 Rikka believes she can still find what she lost, but will new, undeniable evidence finally force her to accept reality?
Psycho-Pass Ep. 6 It is so refreshing to see someone react to an accusation of romantic interest with real laughter instead of fake denial.
Zetsuen Ep. 7 I identify strongly with Yoshino because I too have trouble taking the lead with women. It doesn’t help that Aika is so coy.
BTOOOM Ep. 7 Sakamoto isn’t sure if the hope he’s chasing is real, but given the circumstances I can hardly blame him for seeking it.

*You could have read these mini-reviews in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.