Watch or Drop? Is Full Dive Worth Watching?

Full Dive Watch or Drop
Full Dive - How many people would actually want a game to reproduce pain?
Why would anyone want a game that does that, Full dive?

Watch or Drop? Rules

Rules modified for the Autumn 2021 season.

  1. The anime must be new (not a sequel or spin-off).
  2. I’ll watch as much as it takes to make a decisionas to whether the anime will be added to the watch/review list or dropped and forgotten. For good.
The best friend and childhood friend - yet neither want to explain why he can't leave the city (at least not properly). 
Full Dive gets off to a rocky start.
And why can’t the friends simply explain their reasoning to Hiro? Communicate.

First Impressions of Full Dive:

Right off the bat the premise was always going to be a problem. That someone made a game that would reproduce real life, including pain, just strikes me as a terrible marketing decision and I’m sure two seconds of research would have convinced those who bank-rolled the game Kiwame Quest that it was a stupid idea.

More importantly, assuming the game did get made and assuming our protagonist was ‘tricked’ into purchasing the game, why would he log in again after the first experience. Full Dive seems to have wanted an excuse to put their protagonist through the wringer and they weren’t too picky about how they got to the point where they could torture the main character in episode 3.

Sure, they are overly exaggerating the reactions of characters and every character’s personality is way over the top in an attempt to play it as comedy, but realistically we’ve seen a teenager boy get beaten up for asking questions, accidentally kill someone, get pursued by guards, betrayed by another player, led in chains through the street and stoned before being haunted by a ghost and chained to a table and almost had his leg cut off.

Not entirely sure I’m getting the humour of it all.

That said, I also didn’t stop watching prior to the end of the first three episodes of Full Dive so there’s something about it.

Full Dive Series Positives:

I’m actually struggling a little here.

So far we have awful characters who have either endured awful things or done awful things playing an awful game where so far only bad things have happened.

It doesn’t even really look that great.

Full Dive - Hiro's sister lets him know how she's feeling about his hobby.
Ah, a supportive little sister.

On the other hand, an anime doesn’t need to be sunshine and rainbows to be enjoyable. I’m just not entirely sure what the appeal is here. Part of me wants to know what it will take before Hiro genuinely doesn’t log back into the game again. The end of episode 3 of Full Dive has him declaring he’s over the game, but that seems unlikely given where we are in the story.

The other part of me wants to see if these negative experiences ultimately lead to something worthwhile. Let’s be real, even before Hiroshi started playing the game his life wasn’t exactly going great. While I don’t need a happy ending, it would be kind of nice to see that through overcoming his current tribulations maybe he finds something better.

Or maybe Full Dive really is just about making the character as miserable as possible. I guess I won’t know if I don’t keep watching.


Full Dive Series Negatives:

I kind of feel perhaps the biggest negative for me so far is that Full Dive: The Ultimate Next-Gen Full Dive RPG is Even Shittier Than Real Life! is labelled as a comedy and while I can kind of see some exaggeration for comedic effect, I’m not exactly seeing this as funny.

That’s naturally a subjective point of view but without this actually landing in the funny category, mostly it is just depressing and a little bit morbid. Then again, others who have reviewed Full Dive found it delivered on laughs so maybe this will work for you.

Full Dive - Really knows how to make you pay for your mistakes.
It isn’t like he did it on purpose. I doubt he could have done it on purpose.

That said, I am kind of curious still about where they will take the premise. It is nice to see a character in a video game who doesn’t get instantly stronger and isn’t automatically recognised as a hero. In an over-saturated genre of being trapped in a video game, Full Dive has taken the path of Bofuri in that the character isn’t technically trapped, but then has dialled up the difficulty to Aincrad SAO levels if it had an insane mode that also made pain a thing.

Still, what it might be isn’t what it has done and in three episodes this one has been visually dull, the voice acting consists of a lot of shouting and whining, and so far I haven’t found a single character that I actually sympathise with, care about, or really want to spend time with.

I think I like the idea of Full Dive far more than I am liking the anime.


Karandi Shrug Transparent

I actually don’t know just yet if I am going to finish Full Dive or not. I probably will because it made me curious and that’s perhaps my greatest weakness. That said, after trying three episodes, I wouldn’t exactly be telling anyone else they should be checking this one out. There’s plenty of anime out there with similar ideas that have been done better.

Maybe Full Dive will change my mind before the end but I’m not that optimistic.

Images from: Full Dive. Dir. K Miura. ENGI. 2021.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Top 5 Anime I’d Love To Play If They Were An RPG

Tuesday's Top 5

It is fairly accepted these days that games inspire movies, TV shows, and anime and a lot of these aren’t great. It also is fairly well accepted that popular shows and franchises might get a game spin-off but usually these are pretty much pandering to fans of the source and while some of these games are actually quite fun they aren’t exactly wowing hard core gamers. That said, there are some anime I watch and I just think how much fun it would be to play a game version of them. Now, some of them probably already have a game out but this is my list of anime that I thought have concepts that would make for an excellent gaming experience while watching.

I’d love to know which anime you think you’d enjoy as a game so be sure to leave me a comment below.

Number 5: Soul Eater

It shouldn’t be any surprise that I’ve put Soul Eater on this list. I mean, when you think about it, the story is made for being an RPG. Enrol at DWMA and design your meister/weapon combo. Complete missions to rise up the ranks and get good grades and help defend the school from threats. It would be an awesome RPG. Add in some factions and secret organisations within the school and you’ve got the makings of a really awesome game.

Now there are already Soul Eater games out there by the looks, but they seem mostly like battle focused games rather than an RPG experience. Maybe I’m wrong and one exists, but if it does, I’d love to know because I would definitely play it.

soul eater sid2

Number 4: Bungo Stray Dogs

As much as I find the narrative in the anime quite messy and unfocused, that would actually kind of work in an RPG. I don’t know about you, but when I play Skyrim I pretty much avoid anything that is a main mission quest while I meander about completing as many side quests and plots as I can. Mostly because at some point in an RPG, if you follow the main storyline you usually get to a point where you can’t go back to some of the other missions. So I like to get as many of those done before advancing the plot as I can. In Bungo Stray Dogs case, this means you can get distracted by as many petty investigations or conflicts with other organisations as you like and if you forget what the main mission was, that’s okay, I’m pretty sure no-one who only watches the anime knows what the end goal is anyway.

Now this one does have a game as well, but I haven’t really looked into it. Still, there’s certainly a lot about this anime that would work well in a game.

bungo 7

Number 3: Madoka Magica

Create a character and choose to take Kyuubey’s deal. Learn what kind of a magical girl you became based on the wish you chose and the character you designed and then fight off witches, deal with other magical girls, and decide what to do about Kyuubey. This could be an awesome gaming experience. Not to mention the visuals. Madoka Magica aesthetics in a game world would be utterly amazing.


Now there are plenty of Madoka games out there but most of them seem intent on supporting the narrative in the anime rather than being their own kind of gaming experience. Let’s just take the concept and create an original RPG experience around it and then we would have a truly amazing game to play.

Affiliate Link

Number 2: Made in Abyss

A little less fighting and a lot more exploration and survival, Made in Abyss would be a truly amazing and horrific gaming experience. How far into the Abyss do you dare explore. How long before you die? I could see this one being comparable to Dark Souls in terms of being unforgiving to those who travel in unwary and die and yet it would be such a glorious experience. Not to mention, despite having a similar difficulty to Dark Souls, visually this one would be bright and cute in direct contrast to the horror of the situation. Fantastic.

Create your own orphan character being trained to explore the abyss and then after the briefest of tutorials, let’s just throw them down the hole and see how far they can get. I would absolutely love to play this though I suspect rage quitting would definitely become a thing.


Number 1: Darker Than Black

It is probably an obvious choice for me, and there is a game of it already, but I’d love to see this in a blockbuster game release. Massive world to explore, Contractors and factions to join, work with, bring down, mysteries to uncover, it could just be such an immersive gaming experience. I could certainly see us travelling about Carmen Sandiego style, stealthily infiltrating buildings and ferreting out intelligence, and when things go sideways unleashing amazing attack and fighting for survival.

It would be such a great game and because of the range of Contractor abilities it would have almost limitless replay value as you try with different characters and abilities to complete missions. I know I’d have a lot of fun with it and I’m pretty sure it could have wide appeal.


So those are my picks for anime I’d love to see made into games, or made into a specific game that I’d like to play. What are some of your choices for anime that would make great RPGs?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Baldur’s Gate 2 Update


I only recently did a post about what I was playing recently but this weekend (while trying to unwind and de-stress) I had a novel experience.

If you’ve never played Baldur’s Gate then you probably don’t know that in the game you assemble a party as you wander about and you can change party members as you go (though to be honest once I pick a team I pretty much stick with them – mostly because I get attached and also because I like how their stories play out). Yes, as you meander about your missions certain events trigger dialogue between either yourself and your party members or between different party members and depending on a few factors (whether you are good, neutral or evil, your current reputation status, and whether you reply correctly or callously to their dialogue) the stories will go in different directions.

As a teen, I always played a chaotic good character. It meant I mostly had a good reputation but could sometimes just take the violent is better approach to the whole situation as long as morally I had the high ground. That meant I tended to choose characters for my party that were either good or neutral to varying degrees.

As an adult, and wanting more of a challenge from a game I’ve played many times through, I decided to see if I could maintain a neutral status throughout the game and have been picking both good and evil characters for my party. This resulted in a few unexpected and never seen before developments.

Firstly, I had a character leave my party. He just upped and left when we got to the end of his storyline. That’s never happened to me before as usually my character ends up in a semi-romance with the guy and he follows me around the entire country-side. But no, he has a little temper tantrum and storms off the screen and suddenly my character can’t move because she’s carrying literally his entire inventory (including a shield that he is the only one who can use and you can’t even sell the thing).

I’d always strived to placate party members before when tensions arose and I’d never actually had the experience of a party member deserting. Being ditched by an NPC actually kind of hurts, as ridiculous as that might sound.

The second thing that happened was two of my party members got into a fight and one of them literally killed the other before turning and politely asking if I wanted to continue travelling together. Um…

One of my party members was just turned into pixellated chunks of debris on the ground of the dungeon I was exploring and the person responsible wants to know if we are going to continue travelling together. And here’s the thing. I could have said no. But then I was going to be two party members short and stuck in a dungeon. As it is, I’m going to have to very carefully back-track and recruit someone new who hopefully won’t try to kill the rest of my party before I can progress.

So while I’m finding the difficulty of Baldur’s Gate nowhere near what I remember having managed to even kill the Shadow Dragon without particular difficulty, it turns out that not being a goody-two-shoes or worrying about my party composition does actually hinder progress quite significantly. I can’t wait to see what happens as I progress the story with the rest of the crazy loons I’ve recruited into the party this time.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


Bastion Game Review: Short and Sweet


About two weeks ago I put up my first impressions of this game. Now I’ve completed the story mode, what are my final thoughts on the game?


Because I’ve already done my basic impressions of the game, I’m going to put this in a straight plus/minus format. I will admit that even though I finished the story, that opened up other play modes and things that I have yet to try.

Plus +

The artwork and music are adorable in this game. They both work really well. It is visually interesting and while the music may get a little repetitive toward the end of the story campaign, it really suits the game itself and adds to a very immersive experience.

Minus –

All up, I completed the story campaign in just under 10 hours. That’s with my save disappearing midway along and having to restart as well as some random deaths due to being overly curious about what might happen if. Basically, I probably could have finished this several hours before I did if I’d actually just focussed on finishing the story. That’s kind of a problem given I’m not that good at games and I really should take awhile to finish them. While I feel I got my money’s worth out of this game, I bought it on sale and I don’t know that I’d feel as happy about the value for money if I’d paid full price.


Plus +

While the story is relatively linear, the end does give you a two choices which I assume changes the ending in some meaningful way (or at least gives you a different closing monologue). That’s kind of made me curious enough that I want to play through again just to make different choices and see what happens. It is a very minor thing and it would have been nice if earlier on you’d been given some choices. Still, it was kind of nice at the end to feel like you controlled how it played out.

Minus –

The final level firstly adds a hop mechanic making a whole section of the level a platformer. Yet the visuals and the controls don’t really allow for the kind of precision that would make platforming fun and given you hadn’t had to do this the entire rest of the game just felt like a way to stretch out the final level and add a level of irritation to the process. The second thing is that it then swaps out all of your weapon choices for the battering ram. While that is a very cool weapon, I’m left wondering why I spent all that time training and levelling up the rest of my equipment if they were just going to leave me with a new and random weapon right at the end.


Plus +

I’ll just say it, this is a fun game. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. Other than a few random gimmicks in the last level, it doesn’t overly clutter itself with unnecessary mechanics. The story works and the narration, while not as great as I might have been lead to believe was certainly enjoyable to listen to. Basically, I play games for fun and this one managed to give me hours of fun (though also not as many hours as I would have liked).

Minus –

While at first it seems like the range of enemies is pretty good, they all have more or less the same attack patterns. This game ups difficulty by adding more enemies onto the screen but once you get the canon that just makes it amusing to see how many enemies you can simultaneously wipe out. Basically, the difficulty in this game isn’t very high and it doesn’t really do anything to make it more difficulty. Plus, the attack patterns are very repetitive so once you’ve chosen your favourite combination of gear you will slip in a fairly straight pattern of attack yourself.


Overall, this was a fun game experience and as I said, on finishing and watching the credits through, I have unlocked some other stuff which I’ll have to get in and try, but I’m pretty happy with this steam sale purchase.

Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.



Karandi James.


Initial Thoughts on Bastion


Before I went on a bit of a break, Steam was having a sale (a fact that pretty much everyone on Twitter kept reminding me about so against my better judgement I checked it out). One of the many games I picked up during the sale was Bastion. A game I’d watched many people play through parts of it, read and watched reviews of, and had always been kind of interested in but never gotten around to actually buying and playing. My question going in was whether the game would live up to the hype around it.


The answer is yes and no.

One of the things that was emphasised about this game in a lot of the reviews was the narration and how clever it was, how it responded to what the player was doing, how funny it was, etc. While I will admit I’ve enjoyed the narration, given the story is fairly linear, in even levels don’t offer a lot of choice about where to go or what to do, the narration hasn’t really matched expectations of great game narration set by games like The Stanley Parable that truly managed to make the narrator feel like someone watching the game. At times the narrator in Bastion prompts your actions by telling you what you need to do and this sometimes happens when I’m in the process of wondering what would happen if I did something else (usually something stupid but I like trying things in games just to see what happens). It is like the narrator is drawing me out of the game I want to play and leading me along a prescribed path. Though there are other times where the narrator clearly responded to my actions like when it mocked me for attacking every single plant on the screen like I was going to win a prize (who knows, I might have).


Outside of the narration, Bastion is a pretty straight forward set up for a game. You wake up (an unnamed kid) in a world that has suffered some sort of calamity. As you start to walk, a path appears. Once you get to the end of the first area you go to a hub world where you slowly rebuild the world as you collect various bits and pieces. This sounds like you’d have some freedom of travel but there are seldom many choices of where to travel from the hub world with only one or two new areas opening at any one time.


You also collect a range of weapons and skills which you can try out different combinations on but pretty much once you find a combo that works for your playing style you kind of stick with it for most the levels. Then the game decides it doesn’t want you doing that and some levels you will find new weapons which are then automatically fitted and you can’t change your weapon selection without visiting a specific building either in the hub world or if you are lucky enough to find one in the level. Sometimes this serves a practical purpose as you need that new weapon for an enemy coming up, but other times it leaves you playing awkwardly and stumbling along until you can switch out to your usual gear.

The game is also incredibly easy. Deaths are few and far between and the consequences for death pretty non-existent other than level progress being lost but the levels are so short that isn’t a drama. And it acknowledges that the game is easy by offering the chance to pray to various gods which might make the enemies stronger or more resistant to physical attacks or whatever in exchange for more experience. If you die while the idols are making the game harder, when you restart the level it offers to turn this off or allows you to start with the penalties still in place.


For all that though, the story being woven by the narrator about the world before the calamity is kind of compelling and while the narration may not be mind blowing, it is really easy on the ears while playing and you can kind of get caught up in just listening to the story and forget what you are actually doing. It is also a really pretty game to look at although at times it is difficult to see which direction the path is going (leading to the occasional plummet into thin air – though the consequences of plummeting are pretty low so have at it).

Basically, I’m having a lot of fun working my way through the story and while I might like it to be a bit more challenging and the narration is not as good as my expectations would have led me to believe it should be, I’m really glad I picked this up. Hopefully I’ll finish the story and review the whole game eventually.

Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.



Karandi James.


Sword Art Online Season 1 Series Review


Before I get into the review today, I just want to have a minor celebration as this is my 150th anime series review (admittedly, I am counting the SAO abridged series review that I did so maybe this is actually review 149). Whichever way, I was tossing up between SAO and Psycho Pass but I think I want to wait a bit more before trying to review Psycho Pass so SAO it is. Thanks to everyone who keeps reading these, hopefully they are either helpful or entertaining.


I’m pretty sure everyone knows the story of SAO but essentially there’s a new game that uses technology that allows players to pretty much completely enter the game (or at least feel like they have) and on the day the game is launched the creator of the game essentially traps them all inside telling them they have to clear all 100 floors before they can log out. No problem then. Oh, and they’ll also die in real life if they die in the game due to some design in the equipment that allowed them to enter the game (because people are really likely to sell you a helmet that can fry your brain). Of course, that’s only the first arc and that takes up about half the season before we move into the second arc of fairy dance which is mostly about rescuing a Princess in a cage.


In case I seemed overly snarky in my overview, I’m just going to say this straight out, I love Sword Art Online. I get that the story has its flaws and that you could throw insults at most of the characters if you really, really wanted to, and yes there are some technical issues with the delivery of the show in some scenes while others are really beautifully done which kind of leads to an inconsistent viewing experience, but you know what, none of that actually matters to me. I loved this anime from episode one and through the entire first arc. I completely and totally fell in love with the virtual world and with watching Kirito face each challenge and overcome it. To point out how much I loved it I will say I only have three anime plush characters and Kirito is one of them (the other two being Maka from Soul Eater and Sailor Jupiter from Sailor Moon). So while I will admit there are issues with this anime, this review is more of a reasons why something doesn’t need to be perfect to be good.


To be a bit logical about my approach I’m going to start with the plot. It is really incredibly simple and that’s fine. Here’s all these people trapped in a game that can kill them. Here’s the way out. Get from point A to point B and don’t die along the way. It can’t get much simpler. Of course with all of those different characters trapped in the game responding to this threat and challenge in different ways, there’s plenty of material to keep the story interesting even as the basic narrative works because it isn’t trying to be anything more than what it is. There’s no convoluted twists or surprise rules that come out of nowhere. Even Kirito admits SAO’s rules are always fair even when they suck. Although, that’s kind of what kills two moments in the first arc that should be really amazing.


The first is the reveal of who or what Yui actually is. Up until that point, the programs and the game have run incredibly smoothly and all in the way in which the one who designed the game intended. So Yui as a program being cut away from the players makes no sense. Why create her in the first place if you aren’t going to let her function? And if you decided you didn’t need that function, why not just delete her? More importantly, why can she act outside of her program at all? I know they try and do an exposition dump explanation for this but it really doesn’t work with the rest of the setting and plot and mostly just feels like they really wanted to add in a cute child for Kirito and Asuna, which certainly works but you kind of have to check your logic at the start of the episode to really accept that.

The second part that is kind of faulty is the end of the arc itself. Previously, Kirito had received an item that would allow a dead player to be revived within 10 seconds of their death (which didn’t help him at all given the character he’d been trying to revive was well past that). The implication being that between your health bar hitting zero and the game frying your brain you had a 10 second grace period. So what’s with the conclusion to the arc when Asuna clearly gets herself killed and Kirito then does his game breaking move to win the fight though it ends in mutual destruction and there’s Asuna waiting for him, not yet dead. If they are trying to say that sequence took less than 10 seconds they are seriously kidding themselves.


However, outside of those two issues where the rules the show itself has established seem to fall apart, the plot during the first arc is really well handled. We get the first episode where the world is established and we meet Kirito and Klein as they kind of stuff around and teach the audience the main game mechanics before we get the shock reveal that they are trapped. Then we time jump to the first boss fight which takes a major emotional toll on a lot of people. We keep time jumping for a bit given the series covers two years of time in half a season and we aren’t made to watch the players grinding. Instead we see the major events, we consider how they might affect the characters, and then we jump ahead and can see how the character has coped or not with previous events. For some, this method of narration is jarring and feels like a cheat, but to me it was kind of the perfect way to just get to the points we needed to see and yet still have that epic feeling of being trapped for two years. I honestly think seeing anymore of the boss fights or floor clearing would have been incredibly dull because they aren’t necessary to the overall character or plot development. Sure, they may have been cool fight sequences but without purpose it would just be filler.


Unfortunately, then we move into the second arc and while my bigger concern with Fairy Dance is the characters and how they are treated, the plot itself is needlessly cluttered. Essentially everyone was saved at the end of the first arc except for those players who weren’t. They just didn’t wake up. Turns out they are trapped in a new game as experimental subjects, except Asuna who has just been put in a bird cage. As I said, I have issues with the treatment of the characters but this plot is so incredibly unnecessarily complex. If you want to experiment on people you have heaps of people logging in and out of the game every day. Surely you could run a few tests on them, alter their memories a bit, and send them home. Why trap someone in the game world forever? More importantly, why run an experiment inside a game? Why not just move that data outside of the game world altogether and then no one could come and release them because they wouldn’t be able to ‘beat’ the game?


The other issue is that the events in Fairy Dance happen over an incredibly short period of time in the real world and it really felt like a story and scheme as grand (or insane) as that one, needed more time and to be properly fleshed out.

Basically, while I will rewatch the first arc of SAO endlessly, Fairy Dance isn’t anywhere near as interesting or compelling. The story is a victim of its own premise which was characters trapped and need to be free. End of first arc sees the characters get free. Its kind of done and no matter how you force scenarios after that to make dangers in the game world for them to face, the best story has already been completed. And that complaint could probably carry over to character development as well, particularly for Kirito. I like how he progresses during the course of the first arc but then he seems literally frozen in time after that just going through the motions of saving other characters.

But that’s kind of jumping ahead. Let’s wrap up plot. Regardless of whether this story has an intricate or deep plot, what SAO does is tell its story in a way that draws the audience in (and given the initial popularity of the show, even if people are on the hate wagon now, when it aired they were drawn in). The sweeping grandeur of the first episode is an effective hook and while events afterwards may not quite live up to that, they at least logically flow on for the most part and issues and complications are resolved in a meaningful way. Not to mention, it is fun. It’s fun in a way that other trapped in a video game stories haven’t really captured for me. Certainly there’s the high stakes threat of characters dying in both the game and the real world, but for the most part they are just kids bouncing around a video game world and it is fun to be a part of that.

Onto the characters then.


Okay, Kirito does gain quite the harem by the end but that’s in the most superficial sense of the word. It becomes quite clear early on that Asuna is the only one Kirito actually sees as a real person and not a ‘little sister’ or ‘damsel in distress’. So while he certainly helps the other cast members out and they certainly do follow him around there-after, it isn’t the usual harem like setting where the protagonist hasn’t made a choice. More importantly, even the girls themselves seems to realise Kirito has already made his choice and so seem fairly happy to take on that ‘little sister’ role. So with that out of the way, what is Kirito actually like as a character?

In episode 1 he’s great and a lot of the reason I was sold so heavily on this series. He’s a gamer cliché and what little we learn of his life outside of the game is that he has some issue with his family, spends a lot of time alone in his room, and is obsessed with games. he then enters the virtual world and we see him come alive. This resonated so well with me as I kind of had the same experience as a teenager where I just didn’t feel like I fit and games and stories were something that could make me feel alive. Despite being built off a cliche, they spend a bit of time showing us that while he is anti-social even in the gaming world, he does want some human connections so he isn’t willing to sever ties instantly with Klein but nor is he willing to take on Klein’s friends as part of his responsibility. The process of Kirito making the decision on how to act at the end of that first episode really made him feel real. He did make a rough call and he did end up abandoning everyone else to try to secure his own survival, but he’s a teenage boy who doesn’t get how to be around others in the first place. He was human enough to try to reach out and save Klein because he thought he could without exposing himself to unnecessary danger, but he wasn’t willing to risk his own life for strangers. It just made him a very believable person to me.

The time jumps after really do track Kirito’s progress as a character. While each event we see isn’t crucial to the overall plot, each event they jump to is crucial to the changes we see occurring in Kirito that take us from the guy who fled the town of beginnings by himself to the guy who challenged the creator of the game in order to save everyone. Every episode we see a slightly different Kirito. These aren’t massive changes or a totally reinvented character, but one who has experienced weeks/months/years in a death game and reflected on each of the previous encounters and grown from it.  While he’s never going to be the biggest people person and his first priority remains his own survival (although you could argue he prioritizes Asuna’s survival over his own after about episode 10), he slowly learns to let people in.

Why is he so slow about it?

Because the first time he tries to join a guild and actually make friends his own indecision and poor judgement gets them all killed (or at least so Kirito thinks). It isn’t necessarily true because even if he’d told them how strong he was they might have still walked into that room and Kirito may have still failed to save them, but it doesn’t matter what the reality was it is more how Kirito views the situation. That may have been enough to stop Kirito ever letting anyone else in except that he receives Sachi’s message later on and that allows him a small window to move forward.


He doesn’t then just become champion of justice and all around good guy. We see through his encounter with Silica that while he’s acting the hero on the surface, he’s mostly just going through the motions. In fact, he’s been hired by someone who experienced the pain of seeing his friends killed and Kirito could relate so he decides to exact ‘justice’ given he can’t do anything about his own situation. Silica is initially just someone Kirito uses to achieve his goal however that encounter again changes him. Later episodes we see him actually seeing the person and finally actually caring about others.

Admittedly, the other characters in SAO don’t get a lot of love as the first arc at least is all about Kirito and his journey. There’s certainly a wide range of characters and each time we re-encounter them, they’ve changed a bit because of their own experiences but we don’t really know what they are so it has less of an impact. While Fairy Dance brings in some new characters, it is the core group from the original game that are the more interesting characters (amazing what putting a group of people through a near death experience will do to them).


However, something does need to be said about the villains both of the first and second arc. While the first arc one could argue doesn’t really have a villain and his motives remain fairly confusing, the second arc introduces a pure scum type villain who ends up being so cartoonishly over the top you can’t help but wonder if you are watching an entirely different show. The only real positive of the villain in Fairy Dance is the real world crisis that the villain presents to Kirito as it points out clearly that no matter how amazing Kirito gets at playing games he still can’t control the real world.

This has gotten quite long so I’m going to quickly go through the last few things. Visually, I love this anime. I like the look of the game world and the action is great. The equipment the characters have and the way the towns and cities operate just reminds you of being in a game world. I love the sound effects and music and think that really adds to the immersive experience of the show.


As I said at the beginning, I love this anime. I won’t try to tell you it has no faults and I won’t tell you that everyone should love it. What I will say is that this is a fun anime to watch and should be watched for fun. While it touches on some more complex issues, the basic narrative works because it doesn’t clutter itself up with too many different ideas. Basically, worth giving a go to if you like fantasy/action type anime. It may not work for you, but you may just find yourself having a lot of fun at least in the first arc.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
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Karandi James

FFX Thoughts on Replay

There’s this thing about replaying an old game where you suddenly notice everything that was wrong with it originally that you didn’t notice the first time (or overlooked) because at the time it was amazingly gorgeous and the story was fresh. But when you know the plot, every plot twist, and the graphics no longer hold up, even after being remastered, the actual game has to stand on its own. While FFX is still a reasonably fun game some of its flaws are definitely more irritating this time around.

Originally I played this game on the PS2 and its one of the few PS2 games I completed (at least twice all the way through). It really was a beautiful game. And, in fairness, the remastered PC version still has absolutely beautiful cut scenes, and then there’s everything else.

I’ve stopped playing this in full screen mode for two reasons. One, it looks even more hideous when it is spread across the entire monitor. Two, despite providing a function to skip some cut scenes, it never lets you skip the ones you need to. You know, like the ones right before a fight with Seymour that is so much harder than every other fight you’ve had that you are pretty unprepared for it and end up dying over and over. Which means sitting through that cheesy dialogue in the cut scene over and over.

There was a reasonably easy solution to this. Stop plunging into the fight until I did some grinding and levelled my characters up but this brings out the other issue I’ve encountered with the game. The enemies you fight as you move around the world are ridiculously easy. And then the boss fights are ridiculously difficult compared. We get that a boss is supposed to be challenging but when he can instantly K.O 5 out of 7 of your characters with one attack it really doesn’t leave you many options on attack formations. Hence the grinding to get the other characters to a point where they might be all wobbly but at least they won’t keel over from a single hit.

But this breaks the narrative. Utterly and completely. We’re heading to Zanarkand to get the final Aeon, etc, etc, so sure we’ll waste some time running up and down a mountain fighting low level enemies that we can mostly defeat in one hit just to unlock one more health sphere in the sphere grid. That makes sense.

Anyway, after finally getting through that battle and moving on the issue becomes that now my characters are even more ridiculously overpowered when facing random encounters which makes them kind of pointless. The version I’m playing has the ability to turn these off, or if you are grinding up the frequency so you don’t have to walk so far, but you don’t get any experience if you turn them off and if you aren’t grinding why on earth would you want a random encounter every other step.

I still love the story of FFX and enjoy watching the characters grow, but the game itself hinders the progression of the story at times, unnecessarily so, and that takes a bit of the fun out of it. I’d still recommend FFX as one of the better Final Fantasy games (of course I’ve only ever completed two of them, I usually drop them at the mid-way point because I just get bored), but as a game itself I’m not sure it has lasting appeal. That said, I’m not through the replay yet and hopefully I’ll reach the end within a couple of months and can think about my final thoughts on this game.

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Karandi James.


Final Fantasy X Remastered Impressions

Yep, it’s impressions on a game because March Comes in Like a Lion didn’t have an episode this week. And what a game it is. This is Final Fantasy X. My favourite Final Fantasy ever.

I first played this on the playstation 2 quite a long time ago so I was kind of excited to see it available on Steam apparently remastered. I’m not very far into my play through at this point but there are a few things that I’m really enjoying about revisiting this game.

01. The characters are still as fun as ever. I always loved the cast of this game and the banter between the characters. Okay, some moments are pretty dreadful such as the Macarena joke (and I’m really hoping that the joke was something added to the dub and never appeared in the original script) but for the most part the exchanges between the characters are really entertaining.

02. I can actually turn off the random encounters. Normally you wouldn’t want to do this as you really need those encounters to get stronger but as you can’t save unless you reach a save sphere and sometimes those encounters really make the time you are stuck playing drag out, when you are ready to call it quits (or have to go somewhere) turning off the encounters and sprinting to the next save point is a fantastic feeling.

I remember how many times I had to replay sections of the game on the playstation because I couldn’t save and had to stop.

03. I really just love the story in this game. It isn’t a pretty straight forward quest where we get a twist toward the end that fits perfectly with what you’ve been told about the world.

04. Given my last Final Fantasy game was XIII, I actually am enjoying this return to true turn based combat. Okay, the characters look silly as they stand and bob on the spot and wait for their turn but it at least let’s you think through your sequence of attacks and as you can see the order of attacks you can think through when to defend and when to strike and it becomes more tactical than button mash which I kind of enjoy.

I will review this game when I finish this play through (so a long time from now given I’m moving very slowly through it) and I also go X-2 with this which I’ve never played so I’m kind of looking forward to that. Probably the biggest issue I have is that visually some of the character faces and animations have not aged well. The cut scenes are gorgeous but the in-game stuff is not so crash hot these days. Basically, if you haven’t played a final fantasy game and you are interested, this one is pretty cheap and really fun.

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James