Anime Characters Should Not Review Their Own Episode

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode Review Title Image

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 22 Review

While I’ll get to reviewing the episode in a moment, I just want to look at the opening act of this episode which addresses the fight between the Senator (only barely introduced a few episodes ago) and Eugoe (no longer brainwashed), Kirito and Alice. Mostly because there was a lot of build-up around a character only just introduced, a cliff-hanger as the fight got started, and then we spend the opening scene rewatching his power up. Only to essentially one shot kill him. Alice distracts his flame creation with little difficulty, Eugeo diverts attention from Kirito by half-heartedly attacking the administrator causing the senator to look away, and then Kirito light beams him to death. The end.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 22 Kirito

In the words of the Administrator herself, that was boring.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 22 Administrator

All that build up and a week’s wait and nothing. Barely even a whimper.

Then without any further discussion, the Senator’s body is flipped against a wall and promptly forgotten. Discarded as the bit character he was but he essentially served no purpose. None at all. Not even a cool fight sequence and diversion. Literally he just put the breaks on the story for a build up that never delivered.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 22 dead Senator

Following this the episode gets back into exposition and sermonising mode. They did at least draw parallels between whether the game world and reality are similar in asking whether humans live their lives in fear of being reset by some unknown creator, so points for thematic linking back to the original SAO. However, again, this is a lot of back and forth covering content we already knew. The only real take from this is that Eugeo now knows Kirito isn’t just someone from his world (which I’m left wondering why Kirito hadn’t told Eugeo this by this point, but whatever).

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 22

However, the Administrator then decides to reveal her ultimate weapon that will replace the incredibly flawed system with the integrity knights. It is shiny and golden and really large. So cool. In a matter of seconds it impaled both Alice and Kirito and left them bleeding on the ground and Eugeo shaking in his boots.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 22 Alice is stabbed

Of course, after a spider vs sword golem moment that makes about as much sense as it sounds like it should, Eugeo stabs the special dagger into the floating platform and somehow that lets the Cardinal appear. In an instant Kirito and Alice are healed, we get some more exposition while the Administrator just kind of floats and gloats, and then the episode ends.

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This show makes me want to face palm so badly almost every week at this point.

Nothing is having any consequence at the moment. Eugeo brainwashed – fixed next episode. Senator guy is really powerful – killed in one shot within minutes. Kirito and Alice stabbed and bleeding – instantly healed including their clothes and bloodstains.

Meanwhile, the Administrator seems to just have whatever power they decide to give her which makes you wonder why she doesn’t just rewrite the world’s code to disappear the floor and send Eugeo, Kirito and Alice back to the bottom and ignore them. Why bother fighting at all? As to the Cardinal, who knows what she’s up to?

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 22 Cardinal

I’m almost all for letting the humans outside of Underworld hit the reset button at this point. It couldn’t make it any sillier.

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Why Do Anime Heroes Get The Most Boring Powers?

Friday's Feature

In case it doesn’t become immediately apparent, this discussion is mostly me musing on something that has bothered me in a handful of shows that I’m now generalising across anime. It is not actually intended to be an overly serious post but honestly, I’ve been wondering this for awhile and of all things it was Endro that brought me back to musing about the powers given to a hero in anime.

Endro! Episode 1

For those who aren’t watching the pastel painted moe fest that is Endro, it is the story of a girl who wants to be a hero and defeat a demon lord, only she kind of already did but stuffed it up sending the demon lord back to the past and now the demon lord is her teacher as she learns to be a hero. of course she has a team of friends along for the ride and a Princess who has fallen in love with her, but mostly it is just a lot of fun and silliness.

Now, as one of the symbols that Julia Charldetto is in fact the hero she comes across the ‘hero’s sword’ and draws it out. In fitting with the colour scheme of the anime it is pink. And it sparkles. But basically we have a hero who swings a sword and whacks things.

Endro Episode 2 Seiran

Meanwhile, we have Seiran in her squad who is an elven priest and when all else fails can actually put her glasses on and is a crack shot with a bow. Then we have Fai who is more hand to hand and likes pummelling things and jumping a lot. Lastly we have Mather with her obsession with Cartado and an array of interesting magic to bring to the fight. All of these characters have really cool abilities and yet the hero in their story has a pink, shiny sword.

Endro Episode 4 Finding Shells

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Now I’m not dismissing swords. Swords can be super cool. Just look at Hitsugaya in Bleach with Hyourinmaru and how cool that sword can be with weather controlling effects and ice dragons. Seriously, that is a cool sword. As is Rukia’s zanpakuto and dozens of other blades in Bleach.

Hitsugaya - Bleach

But, do you know who has a less than cool sword? Ichigo Kurosaki. The hero of Bleach. His sword is really big. About the only time it kind of looked cool was when Hollow Ichigo was swinging it around by the wrap and attempting to pummel Ichigo with it. Actually, Ichigo vs Hollow Ichigo is just a fantastic fight to watch in general and Hollow Ichigo provides some great entertainment throughout the course of Bleach.

Even when Ichigo steps up to the next level, his sword actually becomes less impressive and realistically, while he gets really fast and agile, and hits things even harder and faster, Ichigo’s power is the least interesting one to watch in Bleach (okay I take that back, there are worse powers in Bleach but when looking just at the main group of shinigami and Ichigo’s human friends, his power is just not that interesting by comparison).

Hollow Ichigo - Bleach

Though, even if we move away from sword wielding heroes to a magical girl like Sailor Moon, what we see is a hero surrounded by characters with cool elemental powers that are showy and flashy, fairly versatile and interesting, and yet in season one she throws her head band and occasionally heals things. Even when she uses the Silver Imperium Crystal, other than a light show the power itself is not that interesting to watch. It might be the strongest force in the universe but that by itself doesn’t make it all that fascinating to watch as the bright pink light engulfs her enemy and thus ends the climax.

As the seasons continue, Sailor Moon upgrades from her Crescent Moon Wand to the Moon Sceptre and if nothing else she continues to get the absolute best accessories compared to the other scouts. The Moon Spiral Heart Attack is perhaps the longest one to get going of her general attacks and is so overblown in both the set up and execution that you almost have to laugh (actually, I was more worried Serena was going to trip over her own hair while doing the activation sequence) and yet realistically for all the increases in power Sailor Moon’s attacks remain much the same. She’s very much a one punch and they are dead kind of hero and once she lets off her attack in most cases the battle is done. While the other scouts might be less effective in battle, at least there are some interesting possibilities for outcomes when they attack.

Kirito kind of bucked this trend in Sword Art Online (at least in Aincrad). While his sword style was a bit weird to begin with, it was always fun to watch. This only got better when he demonstrated his dual wield ability which was unique in the game making his ability actually one of the more interesting in the story.

However, Sword Art Online decided to kick its own hero when they introduced magic in Fairy Dance, and Alicization has taken the Bleach approach where swords aren’t always swords. Suddenly, Kirito isn’t looking all that crash-hot even in his own series, though he is still one hero who kind of breaks this trend of having the most boring power going.

Actually, there are plenty of cases where the hero does have a cool power or hidden ability. The problem is, with a lot of these powers they are so OP that they kind of instantly end fights once they get going or can’t be used because of the general scale of destruction. So even when a hero has a very cool ability, its use outside of final battles is pretty minimal meaning we’re watching a hero fight at less than full capacity in a lot of fights and it doesn’t always make for engrossing viewing, particularly when you know that they can pull out another power if things get really tough.

For instance, Bell in Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon has a very cool attack. Admittedly, I like Bell’s fighting style anyway where he relies on speed and his fairly small knife, moving around his enemy and wearing them down rather than just smacking them really hard once. Bell’s fight against the Minotaur is still one of my favourite fights ever and for all that there are stronger warriors in DanMachi, Bell is actually just great to watch in action.

But, his Argonaut Skill is definitely an overpowered skill, tempered by the long time it takes to activate. In order for Bell to get a decent strike in with it, he requires a lengthy interval in which his companions are likely to get splattered if they aren’t careful. While the results of this attack are fairly spectacular, it essentially boils a fight down to the flies buzzing around an enemy and distracting it long enough for Bell to get a decent fly-swat and one punch end the battle.

Is there a solution to this? I mean, we want our heroes to win their fights and having a fairly unstoppable attack more or less guarantees it. Though, such a large scale attack usually ends up looking much the same as every other large scale attack. The personality and distinction of an ability is washed away by the effects given to promote the size and scale of the attack.

Anyway, as I said at the start, this wasn’t an overly serious post. I’ve just been thinking through anime heroes and wondering why more of them don’t have unique or interesting powers and why so many end up with giant swords. I’d love to know your take on anime heroes and whether they have interesting powers or not so leave a comment below.

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The Friend Turned Foe

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode Review Title Image

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 20 Review

Kirito and Alice are finally back inside the tower after far too many episodes hanging off the edge. Amazingly enough they didn’t even make us watch the final stretch we got to actually just be at the top with Alice realising that Kirito had carried her the rest of the way. But, no time to rest because they need to track down Eugeo.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 20

Through a bit of magic they track down the sword and find the leader of the knights but no Eugeo. I think the bit with the knight turning into stone was meant to be emotional but honestly we barely knew the guy and he didn’t leave much impact other than yet another obstacle so this was mostly just an on the way to the actual final act.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 20
Also we clearly have time for another flash back in here.

They then go to the senate and act all shocked by the horror of how people are treated by the administrator, bit late now really to be worried about that. Then Alice and Kirito find the clown guy, they all babble a bit, the clown explodes, only doesn’t, and runs away leading them to… Well, we found Eugeo.

Sword Art online Alicization Episode 20

I’m just going to point out, I really like Eugeo’s new look. It is definitely working for him. Now, do I think he has a chance of beating Kirito in this fight? Not really. Do I really get why Eugeo wants to fight Kirito other than generic brainwashing motivation? Nope. And why isn’t Alice getting involved if they really want to stop the Administrator because surely it would make more sense to dump Eugeo on his backside and go actually do the thing they need to do and then deal with it later, but hey, I’m pretty sure we’ve all wanted to see a serious Eugeo vs Kirito moment so logic be gone because we’re getting that fight. Also a tease about Kirito dual wielding again before that got snatched away from us.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 20

Honestly, this episode progresses things along. I’m not really sold on Alicization and how this story is rolling out or its pacing, but this episode was fairly competent and had enough interesting moments in it. Plus, did I mention they set up a fight between Eugeo and Kirito? That on its own might be worth the price of admission (watching twenty episodes to get here) if they don’t exposition us to death mid-fight, have some silly interruption before they get serious, or unless Kirito just beats Eugeo down in one swing. In which case it would all be a fairly pointless build up to nothing.

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SWORD ART ONLINE 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: ZEKKEN YUUKI MOTHER’S ROSARIO VER.
SWORD ART ONLINE 1/8 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: ZEKKEN YUUKI MOTHER'S ROSARIO VER.

The Journey So Far – Alicization Recap Episode 18.5

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode Review Title Image

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18.5 Review

Sitting back and looking at the eighteen episodes we’ve traversed so far of Sword Art Online Alicization as Kirito recalls events for Alice as they sit on the edge of the tower kind of made me really think about this series. Recap episodes are always hit and miss on their own. They are seldom needed and seldom interesting (occasionally an anime like Kimi ni Todoke shows us the gold star of recapping where we get an entirely fresh perspective on one of the supporting characters), but most often they just make me skip them. In this case, I decided to watch the recap because part of me has felt like maybe I’m just missing something in this series given all the hype about this story before it started.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 1

However, the recap episode makes it abundantly clear I’ve missed nothing. In eighteen episodes an incredibly small amount has actually happened and we can probably point our finger at the exposition for that. The pacing of Alicization isn’t so much slow as it is incredibly uneven. The first episode was almost entirely Alice’s abduction and then Kirito getting injured which sets up why he’s in the Underworld but that is one long introduction for information we could easily have been given through other characters later. In fact, we have been given this same information over and over again.

Sword Art Online Alicization - Alice taken from the village

Alice was taken from the village. Eugeo recalls this event to Kirito in pretty much the next episode when they meet after Kirito is injured. Asuna hunts down where Kirito has been taken after his injury in episode 5 and we could easily have found out how he was injured in that episode which would have made for a great opening to the episode, and sped up how fast we got into the main story. What is actually happening to Kirito is explained in this episode as well so practically nothing out of episode 1 ends up being overly needed even though it wasn’t a bad episode in and of itself.

Sword Art Online Alicization Eugeo

This series lurches forward in leaps and bounds and then stalls. We skip time as we leave the village with Eugeo and Kirito and then end up at the sword school. In the intervening time Eugeo has been taught by Kirito how to fight with a sword (and wouldn’t that have made the more interesting story then introducing their senpais who essentially teach them one thing and then graduate the school and leave the story – I do assume we’ll see them again but really). Same as at the village though, a whole lot of general chit chat and nothing happens before things finally escalate and ultimately Kirito and Eugeo are arrested and transported to the next set piece which is the tower they are currently climbing. But the pacing doesn’t improve as we get whole episodes of chatting and flash backs followed by some plot progress to move back into exposition.

Sword Art Online Episode 13 Kirito the collaborator

To say I’ve been largely disappointed with how Alicization is playing out would be an understatement. I like Sword Art Online as a franchise and I really like Kirito as a character. Some of the best moments early in Alicization were when Kirito was allowed to just be Kirito. However, this new and older (I will not say wiser) Kirito talks way too much and has moved from being an enthusiastic gamer and supporter of virtual reality to an almost sermonising elder. Part of that is his teaching Eugeo and Kirito having to assume that mentor role, but part of it has been fairly poor handling of his character and a lot of what made Kirito fun is lost in the process. Where’s the guy who would happily chill and take a nap just because he liked the weather or even the guy who feared for his own life? We had a small glimpse of fear when he was fighting goblins but since then Kirito has been pretty flat emotionally.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 11 Kirito

I do like Eugeo’s character and I like how he is growing and developing. That’s probably my favourite part of Alicization so far and the most recent episode where we saw Eugeo fight on his own for the first time was actually pretty great.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Eugeo Ice

But these small moments of victory and enjoyment aren’t enough to overall off-set how slow this series is moving, how even the pacing is, and just how ordinary the story has become. I know someone will jump in the comments and tell me to wait because there’s good stuff coming and the light novels do this, that and the other, but even if Alicization did pick up now, could I honestly recommend someone sit through the previous 18 episodes?

Sword Art Online Episode 15 Alicization Kirito

At this point I’d be more inclined to tell them to watch the recap and pick it up from there and that’s only assuming the story does ever pick up.

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SWORD ART ONLINE THE MOVIE ORDINAL SCALE 1/7 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: YUNA
	SWORD ART ONLINE THE MOVIE ORDINAL SCALE 1/7 SCALE PRE-PAINTED FIGURE: YUNA

A Frosty Reception After A Clash of Ideologies

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode Review Title Image

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Review

The focus this week is tightly on Eugeo facing the leader of the integrity knights (and former village legend) alone. This is the first time we’ve seen Eugeo on his own without Kirito’s guidance, and he’s up against a tough opponent. it’s a fairly great character moment for the Eugeo as we see his choices this far up the tower.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Eugeo

Let’s get it out of the way, the fight is not as dynamic as some of the fights we’ve seen in Sword Art Online. As much as Kirito is the one who originally trained Eugeo in swordplay, Eugeo isn’t Kirito and for that I am glad. It means his style isn’t identical even though there are clear parallels. So where Kirito would go faster, harder, and straight into the fray, Eugeo is happier to leave some distance and take advantage of his sword’s abilities.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Describing Kirito's Sword Style

Which is where I will sing the praises of this fight sequence. Eugeo unleashing the sword and not just doing that and being done but then taking full advantage of sword, the environment he was in, and lastly, his own age to ensure his victory in the fight. It is pretty, it is well thought out, and with the exception of an interruption when we get a flash back to the cardinal to hit us with some exposition that was actually kind of unneeded at that point, the pace of this fight is very well done. It is an enjoyable visual spectacle in its own right and hearing Eugeo explain just why he dislikes the integrity knights clearly, in his own words, without interference from Kirito, is a great moment.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 18 Eugeo Ice

That actually leaves the interruption at the end of the fight leaving a slight sour taste because not only is the character who literally bounced into the room clearly not a character we can take in any way seriously, it seemed kind of cheap to take the decision of how this fight would end away from Eugeo. Not to mention this bouncing ball of annoyance seemed more like a character who would drop into a Hunter x Hunter fight rather than Sword Art Online.

In case we thought they’d forgotten Alice and Kirito though, the final moments of the episode have them chilling and sharing steamed buns on the ledge outside the tower. It is pretty reminiscent of Kirito and Asuna sharing bread with cream in Aincrad but otherwise doesn’t have much going on. I mean, Kirito reminds Alice about her sister but given they then end the scene before that goes anywhere I guess we’ll deal with that next week.

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DESKTOP ARMY SWORD ART ONLINE (SET OF 3 PIECES)
DESKTOP ARMY SWORD ART ONLINE (SET OF 3 PIECES)

SAO Now Presents: The Information Dump To Defeat All

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode Review Title Image

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 13 Review

For all the readers of the light novels heralded Alicization as the arc that would ‘save’ or ‘fix’ SAO, I have to say 13 episodes in and the anime is not impressing. Mostly because where exposition dumps occurred in earlier seasons of SAO, due to the limited number of episodes given to a particular arc, conversations had to wrap themselves up and get to a point. However, Alicization being given a massive episode count from the beginning, is really just stretching out fairly thin subject matter and delivering episodes like this one that you could literally just fall asleep during.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 13

If you think I’m exaggerating, I hate to disappoint. Almost three quarters of this episode is given to Kirito listening to the Cardinal whatever as she drones on about the Administrator and her failed attempt to beat her that ended up with her trapped in the library. Admittedly, they do show some of the action, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that the events are being narrated to us which kind of takes any kind of excitement out of the sequence.

Wait, I forgot she also states that her plan is to destroy all the copied souls inside underworld except for like ten that Kirito can pick and then she asks for a hug in the most awkward manner possible made only more awkward by Kirito’s continued lack of ability to pick up on the cues of those around him.

Sword Art Online Episode 13 Kirito the collaborator

This episode is SAO at its absolute worst including absolutely everything that I do find tiresome about the franchise in one twenty minute episode with no relief to be seen. Even Eugeo and Kirito dramatically walking side-by-side through a door into a hallway at the end ready to start their climb up the tower couldn’t save this from being an absolute snore fest because to be honest I’m getting a little over waiting for things to actually kick into gear. It feels like Alicization has been making me wait a lot and now the pay-off is going to have to be huge if it is going to undo some of the general apathy I’m starting to have toward this series.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 13

I won’t drop Alicization. I know that. I loved Sword Art Online and I will stick with this franchise no matter where it goes at this point. However, I would be lying if I said I was actually still enjoying Alicization at this point. My enjoyment kind of peaked at episode 4 and given how many episodes we still have to go, that might be a very bad thing unless the anime starts turning things around.

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THEATRICAL FEATURE SWORD ART ONLINE – ORDINAL SCALE – ASUNA AR T-SHIRT BLACK (XL SIZE)
THEATRICAL FEATURE SWORD ART ONLINE - ORDINAL SCALE - ASUNA AR T-SHIRT BLACK (XL SIZE)

Short Battle Followed By Attack of The Exposition

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode Review Title Image

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 12 Review

Sword Art Online Alicization continues to do what it does best – give us a short but reasonably interesting action sequence followed by a lot of sipping tea and talking. Oh boy.

It isn’t that the information conveyed in the second half of this episode isn’t important. It kind of explains the fundamentals of how Underworld got to the state it is in and why it is a little messed up. Though, to assume that only one of the original four humans passed on the idea of ambition and that no soul after managed to just figure out it wanted more is kind of overly simplistic and we could open the whole nature vs nurture argument on this one but let’s just shrug and go along with the logic here that whatever you are taught as a kid sticks.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 12

The problem is more that once again Sword Art Online looks at the most boring method of delivering information to its audience. First the episode sends Eugeo away to have a bath because he got wet during the fight and that means Kirito doesn’t have to worry about keeping any secrets about not being from Underworld and can have an open conversation. That’s fine and fairly necessary if we’re going to learn what we need to learn. But why then do we need to watch Kirito and the Cardinal whatever sitting drinking tea while she slowly narrates events? Surely they could have shown the audience what happened and let us experience it rather than just telling us that this happened.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 12 Kirito in the library

Admittedly, it would have needed multiple episodes to show us that kind of flash back. If only they had some more time in this series. Oh wait, they wasted half of last week on a conversation between Eugeo and Kirito that added nothing to either character and just delayed the fight until the end of the episode. And previously… well we could trim minutes more or less everywhere from this series.

Sword Art Online Episode 12 Alicization Quinella

It isn’t that I’m not interested in this story. I actually really like the ideas so far. It is more that the execution and the pacing have been lacking. Even the brief moments of action haven’t been enough to break this up or make it overly exciting to view. There’s a lot of potential in this story, but I’d struggle to recommend this given 12 episodes in and it still feels like we’re setting things up and unless you are already a big fan of the series, listening to all that exposition isn’t going to be high on a viewers list of priorities.

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