Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 2: He’s Back in the Game

Sword Art Online Alicization - Episode 2 - Kirito and Eugeo

This episode did more or less what I expected it to, and that is it answered nothing and left us hanging on what happened in the real world. That isn’t actually a problem given how many episodes this series is going to have. Unlike an 11 – 13 episode show it doesn’t have that pressure of getting to a solution now or the problem that the end may feel rushed if it doesn’t get things moving and so we have plenty of time for set up and viewers going in knowing the length of the show are probably happy enough. Not to mention, the best part of the first episode was when Kirito was inside the Underground and so spending the whole episode with Kirito trying to get his bearings there again when he has some memories of his life but almost none of the virtual world and how it works is actually pretty interesting.

Sword Art Online Alicization - Episode 2 - Kirito

Of course, interesting is subjective, so if you are in the camp where watching Kirito wander around, eating bread, and chatting to characters that may or may not be NPC’s isn’t something you find fascinating, you are in for an episode that doesn’t really appeal.

Sword Art Online Alicization - Episode 2 - Eugeo

I did really like that we got to spend a lot of this episode with Eugeo. His memory of Alice’s disappearance is a little different to the way we saw it last week given Eugeo doesn’t seem to remember Kirito at all and that is just one other thing to later figure out. It is really nice to see Kirito kind of making a friend and the two of them play nicely off one another making it fun just to hang out with them.

Sword Art Online Alicization - Episode 2 - Kirito

Still, as I said at the beginning of this episode review, Alicization is in zero hurry. Practically nothing happens in this episode other than Kirito getting his bearings and one shot of some blue haired girl in a tower. There’s a million questions about the fallout from episode 1 but I guess we’ll all have to wait and in the meantime at least the virtual world is really pretty.

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Karandi James

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SWORD ART ONLINE 5TH ANNIVERSARY OFFICIAL ARTBOOK

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Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 1: SAO Is Back But Does It Work?

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 1 - Kirito

I’m going to be honest and admit this was one title I was highly anticipating this season. There’s been a lot of hype around this arc thrown around but to be honest I’ve tried to avoid reading any actual spoilers so I went into this knowing nothing other than more SAO. And that in and of itself is probably enough to power through some of the less elegant moments of this 47 minute monster of an introductory episode. Emotionally, I fell back in love with Sword Art Online, Kirito and everything I hope this series will be. Objectively, there’s some issues. So I’m going to hit the negatives first and then tell you why you should watch this anyway.

*Some Spoilers – Okay, lots of episode spoilers, no spoilers of future developments because I don’t have a clue where this is going.*

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 1

Going in with no knowledge of what this arc is about is incredibly disorienting. You are thrown in as a young version of Kirito and a blonde haired kid named Eugeo try to cut down a tree and then a blonde girl named Alice shows up and feeds them lunch. It’s a very low key introduction but without any context you’re brain is mostly trying to figure out whether Kirito is playing a game, and if yes, why is he so young.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 1
Isn’t young Kirito adorable?

Discarding those questions and just going with it, you get a pleasant enough introduction to this world with the kids taking you on a quest to find some ice, driven by Kirito. It is probably this part that made me the most convinced that they were in a game given the other two characters seem very NPC like in the way they respond to his suggestions.  Though, the same could be said for Klein and the normal cast of SAO so that wasn’t exactly a proven fact. But, this does make it a slow start. Yes, I get this episode has 47 minutes, but this was a very meandering way to begin the story and while we will eventually get to a dragon fight and an arrest and things that are interesting before Kirito essentially wakes up, this series is very much banking on audience anticipation to keep you watching because if a series you had no familiarity with started this slowly it would probably hit the cut list very quickly.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 1

A final problem with this episode is the exposition dump Kirito lays on us in the second half when at the cafe with Asuna and Sinon. As soon as they started talking about the new full dive technology accessing souls I kind of wanted to roll my eyes just a little. I can go along with head gear that makes your senses feel like you are in a game and translates those sensations to the body, but directly accessing the soul (which is apparently light stored in tubes inside your head in case you were wondering) and writing to it just seems like an unnecessary complication and lending itself to pseudo-science jargon. I’d have happily bought time distortion in standard VR technology without bringing souls into the mix.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 1
Not sure why we are viewing this through the table leg.

Now, why should you watch anyway, other than it being Sword Art Online?

Firstly, Kirito and Asuna. Admittedly, the episode focuses almost exclusively on Kirito. The entire first half he’s the only one of the original cast who is present and it isn’t until the second half where we meet up with the rest of the gang, but Kirito is in fine form. The younger, weaker Kirito who still has that save the damsel and fix things mentality was kind of adorable to watch and the older more contemplative Kirito seems like he was going to be pretty interesting. Not to mention, Kirito practically proposes to Asuna asking her to go to America with him because he can’t live without her, which kind of hits the idea that SAO has ever been a harem anime firmly on the head. Despite his save the damsel in distress motivation, Kirito has only ever had eyes for Asuna. Of course, doing so practically raises his own death flag and this episode is happy enough to oblige in the name of ending on a dramatic cliff-hanger (47 minutes and you still felt the need to leave the audience just hanging).

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 1
Go on, admit it. They are the cutest couple ever (except maybe Zen and Shirayuki).

However, leaving Kirito aside, SAO is clearly doing what it has always done and that is exploring the line between games and reality and the nature of humans whether it is in game or in real life. That aspect of the show has always been nicely done and regardless of the arc the story has come back to the theme again and again. Alicization isn’t deviating from that although again I’m not sure we needed to throw souls into the mix.

Sword Art Online Alicization Episode 1
Asuna, that’s creepy.

Finally, despite the pacing and the exposition dump, this episode was still really fun. Okay, that’s a biased opinion from someone who just enjoys SAO but that’s kind of the point. This is entertainment and it does that. Is it going to work for everyone? Probably not. But fans of the franchise will probably not be disappointed and I’m not sure this exists for anyone else anyway given the episode barely pauses to introduce Klein, Sinon and the others who briefly show up for a gun battle before vanishing from the episode. There’s assumed knowledge of characters and context making it clear this one is for existing fans and isn’t an entry point. Unless of course the only important characters are Alice and Eugeo and the others just exist to give fans a hand wave and then vanish, in which case new viewers will be a little confused momentarily but just fine in the long run.

So, I’m hyped for more of this and I’m really hoping it delivers.


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Karandi James

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SWORD ART ONLINE: FATAL BULLET

Tuesday’s Top 5: Anime Vacation Spots

You know sometimes when you are watching an anime and you realise how much you would love to travel more and see more places and experience more things? I get that feeling a lot though regularly it isn’t for places that actually exist and most of the time I think if I ever actually went there  I would probably die. However, I’ve decided to put together my top 5 vacation spots picked from watching various anime. Here I go on my fantasy tour of 5 places from anime I’d love to visit.

Please note, there will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions: Anywhere in Japan from almost any anime.

Number 5: Piffle World (Tsubasa Chronicles)

Tsubasa Chronicles

I know, it is a really silly name, but I loved this world when I was watching Tsubasa. While so many of the worlds they visited were pseudo medieval either westernised or Japanese, Piffle World was a futuristic city world with flying cars and it just looked like a lot of fun. It wasn’t so far removed from our own technological level that it was incomprehensible, but it felt a few generations ahead of us. What I really appreciated was that despite the sheer amount of industrialisation and traffic, somehow the air and sky were beautifully clear. It might be a fantasy but balancing technology without polluting the skies has a lot of appeal. Okay, Sakura may have helped sell this world a bit as she looked truly adorable.

Number 4: Aincrad (Sword Art Online)

Sword Art Online - Aincrad

Needless to say this is after Kirito defeated the game and released all the players and the game was rebuilt without the whole death trap aspect. Let’s be real, Aincrad is a beautiful world. Each level has its own look and feel so you can take your pick of scenery, there’s plenty of variety in the creatures to fight, and it is a fair world in that the rules are what they are (unless you have the power of love in which case go crazy). I would definitely love to visit this world (just got to keep checking that the log out button exists).

Number 3: Future Japan (The Irregular at Magic High School)

The Irregular at Magic Highschool

When looking at future versions of the world there are a lot of dystopian, after civilisation have ended type stories, and realistically Irregular fits right in with those, but I just love the way they’ve blended magic and technology in their vision of the future. It is like the best combination of sci-fi and fantasy to produce something that feels wholly unique and yet fits with what we know from those genres. As to the world itself, I’m not entirely sure it is safe, but just the thought of being able to try out some magic with technological aide is enough to make me at least want to visit.

Number 2: Kyoto (The Eccentric Family)

The Eccentric Family Season 1

Oh look, it is an actual real location coming it at number 2. And The Eccentric Family isn’t the only anime that has sold me on Kyoto. My first trip to Japan I got to Osaka but didn’t have time for Kyoto and I really regret that and my second trip I went north from Tokyo so didn’t get near Kyoto then either. If you’ve never seen the Eccentric Family, it is a wonderful blending of folklore with modernity in a way that just made me really intrigued to see the place it was set and while I imagine it won’t look all that much like the anime, I’m hoping that the anime has captured some of the feel of the real location.

Number 1: The Moon Kingdom (Sailor Moon)

Sailor Moon - The Moon Kingdom

Much like Aincrad, I am putting the explanation in here that I want to visit the Moon Kingdom prior to it being destroyed. It looks gorgeous. Admittedly I’m not so sure about the whole lack of atmosphere, change in gravity thing, but you know the anime didn’t worry about small details like that so I’m not sure I should be all that concerned either. Parties, gardens, fountains, great food, fireworks; these all feature heavily in flash backs of the Moon Kingdom prior to its destruction and it looks like a great time.

I’d love to know where you would like to take a vacation and which anime you saw it in so leave me a comment below.


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Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: English Dubbed Anime

While I’m pretty much a strictly sub-watcher under normal circumstances, there are the occasional anime that for whatever reason I’ve enjoyed in English or had to watch the English dub of. Today I count down my five favourite anime that I’m pretty happy to watch in English. At some point I’ll have to count down my top 5 least favourite dubs, but for now I’m counting down my favourites and I’d love to know what some of your favourite dubbed anime is and why.

Please note, there will probably be no spoilers this week.

Honourable Mentions: K

Number 5: Bleach

Fight-Bleach

Bleach is a weird one because I know the dub isn’t that great (not that bad, but not that great). However, given this was one of the earlier anime I watched and initially I was watching episodes in smaller than ten minute chunks on YouTube so the subs were not always done by the same group and some episodes were in English with Spanish subs, actually getting to listen to it in English and not try to work out what the slightly different translated term or name was in the subs was kind of a relief when I could access it in English. There’s definitely a fondness and a nostalgia factor at work here and realistically I mostly watch this one in Japanese now that I own the DVD’s, but when watching with others I’m pretty happy to watch this either subbed or dubbed.

Number 4: Soul Eater

Maka + Soul

Is it wrong if I admit I prefer Maka’s English voice over her Japanese? She’s one of my favourite female characters of all time, one I’ve bothered to cosplay, and I think she’s amazing but something about Laura Bailey’s delivery in the English dub really lifts this character. Again, no actually issue with the original Japanese and I prefer Black Star in Japanese to English (though personally I’d prefer him on mute) but overall this is one of my favourite anime and I watch it in English about half the time I watch it.

Number 3: Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood

Full Metal.jpg

This is another anime I originally watched online, somewhere, because everyone said it was amazing and I didn’t have access. The version I watched just happened to be an English dub and I really fell in love with the characters. By the time I was able to by a DVD copy of this anime, I kind of felt the English voices fit things just right and I actually find it odd when watching this one in Japanese. There’s a real energy to the cast and the characters really do come through beautifully in the dub.

Number 2: Sword Art Online

SAO7

While I love the Japanese of this one, this is an anime that I’ve used on multiple occasions to get people into watching anime so I’ve watched the dub, a lot. At first it kind of bothered me but over multiple watches, the voices have definitely grown on me. There are some characters that really do give a fairly impressive performance in the cast and while I prefer Kirito speaking Japanese, he works quite well in the English dub. More importantly, most of the people I’ve watched it with have been impressed by the voice acting given most of them had previously had limited experience with anime and most of the dubs they had been familiar with were 90’s ones which we should probably all agree just weren’t very good.

Number 1: Steins;Gate

steins2

Yes, it is the original Steins;Gate series. I’ve mentioned in more than one comment online that this one of the few series where I prefer the dub. Not only are the cast amazing, it relieves the problem of the very quick dialogue and multiple characters speaking at the same time. While I have no issues with subs, when the subs cover a third of the screen and pass so quickly you can’t read it all at times, it becomes a slight distraction from the overall enjoyment. Watching this in English is a joy and one I would happily recommend skipping the subs on and just switching straight to dub.

What are some of your favourite dubs?


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Karandi James

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Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online Episode 3: And We Reach The Beginning?

At the end of episode 3, we reached the beginning of episode 1. Okay then. What next?

SAO3e.JPG

 I get we sometimes start a story in the middle and then find out how we got there. Sometimes that’s to ensure it grabs our attention early on or it makes us interested in something that we need to learn later on. GGO doesn’t seem to have done that. This anime dropped us into a decontextualised battle royale with characters we knew nothing about. We then spent two episodes seeing how the pink bunny girl got there and it wasn’t exactly a thrilling tale.

SAO3d

About the only point of interest is that they are strongly implying that Pito is the singer that LLENN likes and that letter LLENN sent seems like it would be a sure give-away. Whether that ends up being the case or not, I don’t think I care. From next week I’m going to swap out these episode reviews for something else. I might watch a bit more of this, but I’m not interested in reviewing it at the moment.

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Karandi James

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Friday’s Feature: Is Brand Familiarity Influencing Our Anime Viewing?

Spring bloomed with a whole pile of new anime to watch and as usual, more than a few of these are returning franchises with spin-offs, sequels, and reboots a plenty to be found in the line up (of course there’s plenty of new titles as well to be found across the various streaming services). However, when I was reading various first impressions I just kept wondering if some of these premieres would have gone so well without the brand recognition behind them.

There’s no doubt at all that brand recognition is having an influence. Prior to the season beginning, some of the most talked about anime were the returning shows such as My Hero Academia. A week into the Spring season and if you sort the titles on MAL by score, of the top 5 Spring anime, 4 of them are returning franchises. And while there’s nothing wrong with people being excited that a franchise they love has come back, I have to wonder whether there were some other first episodes that maybe did a better job of setting up the season that were overlooked due to the power of some of these brand titles.

MAL - Spring.JPG

So let’s take a look at some of these first episodes and what they did and didn’t do. I’m going to look at My Hero Academia, Tokyo Ghoul: Re, and SAO Alternative: GGO. I’d look at Steins;Gate Zero but I’m honestly still trying to figure out whether it actually was a good start to the season or not. Keep in mind, I’m not bashing these shows. All of them have ended up my watch list and I anticipate varying levels of enjoyment from all of them, and some of them have actually delivered slightly better in their follow up episode, but I’m just going to focus on the first impressions we had of these returns. However, I’m aware that if I’d watched these first episodes cold, as an introduction to a series, there were some definite issues that lesser known titles would never have gotten away with.

My Hero Academia Season 3

With the exception of the opening song, which some viewers quite liked but for me just fell completely flat and kind of set the tone for the episode, My Hero Academia returned with its usual excellent production values including great animation and a vibrant colour palette that makes the whole thing just easy on the eyes. MHA is always a high energy and really engaging watch, even when very little is happening and this first episode was not an exception. So for those already hooked on the series and those who had waited with held breath for the return of their favourite class of super heroes, realistically it makes sense that the anime can get away with not doing much.

hero academia 3 three

But think about it. How many anime would get away with an almost entirely flash-back filled first episode with some minor filler story-line connecting the recap? No doubt this was high quality filler. There were some amusing antics, some reasonable character moments, and if you just wanted to re-engage with the cast it certainly succeeded. It even managed to hint at a direction for the upcoming season, though kept its cards fairly close to the chest so the specifics of what the season will focus on were still pretty much a mystery. But high quality filler is still filler and recaps are always best done as ‘specials’ rather than legitimate parts of the season. And episode 1? Really?

Couldn’t they have taken a page from Kimi ni Todoke and had an episode 0 for the season where we had the recap, if a recap was in fact needed?  The other excuses for recap episodes where the team have fallen behind don’t hold water when it is episode 1. This was planned recap. I know I’m letting my bias show here, but I just felt that after months of waiting for a new season this show needed to do more than this. Fans of the franchise don’t need a class roll call to remember the cast and newcomers won’t be jumping in at season three so this essentially served no viewers’ purpose.

Wixoss1c

I’d have to compare this episode of My Hero Academia to the first episode of Lostorage Conflated WIXOSS. Also a returning franchise and also running a fairly recap heavy first episode, WIXOSS managed to do a lot more in its twenty minutes than MHA. For instance, some of the flash-backs were actually new sequences that gave us additional information on events that had happened during the last round of card games. Also, the sequences in-between recollections and exposition of past events set up a very clear direction and conflict for the coming season. While I didn’t really need the reminders of what had happened prior in this anime either, I felt it was far better integrated into a new plot and the episode as a whole just felt more meaningful. Not as fun, but then again an anime about a magical card game that essentially plunges all its players into misery isn’t exactly aiming to be high energy fun.

Tokyo Ghoul: Re

Alright, again we had a well produced episode that showed off some quite decent animation as well as the general dark tones we expect from Tokyo Ghoul. We also meet the new characters, set up a current conflict, get hints of political tensions within the organisation, and at the end of the episode get a strong hint of the character drama to come. All and all, a pretty decent first episode.

Ghoul1a

No, Tokyo Ghoul: Re is on this list because it kind of assumes viewers have read the source material. Jumping from Season 2 of Tokyo Ghoul to this is sort of jarring and you are having to make a lot of assumptions and guesses about what has actually happened because season 2 didn’t follow events in the source and Re isn’t even trying to help fill the gaps. It’s just charging ahead full steam with its plot line. While fans of the source material are probably rejoicing that this has returned to the ‘story’ people following the anime are left more than a little confused and wondering if we’re going to get the explanations we need further down the track.

Then again, it is Tokyo Ghoul and it isn’t as though the first season wasn’t riddled with narrative and character issues, so maybe I should just make my assumptions and watch things unfold as they will without giving it too much though. The anime seems to go down better when you stop trying to make it be more than what it is.

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

From reading other viewers first impressions of this, I’m guessing I was overall in the minority of people who found it kind of lacking. There were many reviews singing the praises of this new version of SAO. The regular descriptors included fun, ride, exciting, etc. One common comment came up again and again. SAO without Kirito. It must be better. Which I guess if Kirito is your main reason for disliking the original SAO that might be an appealing trait, but does that actually make the anime any better?

SAO1a

Possibly it might. That’s assuming of course that any of the new characters have interesting characters. Which is impossible to tell from this first episode. Basically, the first episode is like watching someone play a shooter. They are in a tournament and we follow a team of two as the discuss tactics and execute their plans. That’s it. It’s well produced with music, animation and visuals all working well enough and it all fits in with the general aesthetics established by SAO so this isn’t a jarring deviation from the anime and source that this has of course sprung from.

But after episode one, I had no idea what this show was actually about. Okay we have a girl playing GGO. I know from the synopsis she has a complex about her height. I still don’t know what the overall complication or direction for the story is going to be. In fact, I don’t even have a hint. There was absolutely no narrative construction in this first episode. It was watching two people play a game. We don’t know why these two are teamed up, or what they want, or whether there was any overall grand picture. All we know is, they played the game, and the pink bunny girl has got some moves – you know, she reminds me of someone.

SAO1d

All and all, this first episode of GGO left me with a pretty bad taste in my mouth. Sure, it has potential to be quite good. They could introduce the characters and have some overall plot going on, but realistically this first episode gave us nothing to go on and not even any reason to think maybe there’s something going on. As much as people like to criticise the original SAO I at least left the first episode knowing the basic personality of the protagonist and what the overall goal was for the story. It was pretty straight forward but it worked.

So what?

Ultimately, this isn’t news to anyone that brands and franchises influence our perception. There’s a reason the various super-hero movies keep making major money at the box office despite varying quality between them, and there’s a reason sequels, prequels, spin-offs, origins, and whatever-elses keep getting made from recognised titles and characters. They sell.

And when something is known to sell, it is more likely to be suitably funded in the first place. Bigger budget leads to bigger spectacle, so even if the story isn’t as rock solid and the performances and characters not quite as nuanced, the overall quality of the production will be there and sometimes that’s enough to keep people watching and happy. Plus, its entertainment. Provided it is entertaining, does it really matter if it isn’t the be all and end all in storytelling?

As much as I would love to be blown away by a narrative populated by incredibly diverse and fascinating characters who consistently hit their mark, I can’t say that I’m not happy just watching the kids from MHA play at the pool, or the ‘not-Kaneki’ reconnecting with himself, or even pink bunny girl going all rambo against professional soldiers. These were all fun first episodes in their own ways. But, I think sometimes even while having fun, it is worth stepping back and wondering what more something could be or do and more importantly, whether some of those dodgy first episodes with poor animation due to less experienced teams or smaller budgets, might actually have delivered a somewhat more solid narrative.

But that is probably a long enough ramble from me. I’d love to know your thoughts on the big franchise anime that have come out this season and how they’ve started.


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Karandi James

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Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online Episode 2: So, No Plot Then?

Other than tall girl enjoying playing gun game as short avatar, is there actually a plot in this anime?

SAO2b

What happens when you take an anime focused on life or death in an alternative reality and instead cast an insecure girl and take out the life and death part? Well, probably this. LLENN is adorable as the pink devil and all but other than watching her freak out over various avatar designs before dancing happily because she finally got a short avatar and then watching her show prodigious skill at ambushing more experienced players, I still know pretty much nothing about her or the point of this anime. Sorry, she likes music. Including movie soundtracks.

SAO2e

I can kind of see that this will appeal to some viewers quite a lot, but it isn’t SAO. Not by a long shot. And as I’m really not finding any connection with the main character and still have no clue what the story is actually going to be, I’m not convinced that I’m signing up for a whole season of watch girl play game. I’ll give this one more episode, but if no story emerges I’m going to drop this, much like I did the DanMachi spin-off. If you take out all the parts of the franchise I actually like, regardless of whether you put that name on the product, I’m still not liking the product.

I can kind of see where people who weren’t as in to the original SAO might prefer this though. Still, so far not really to my taste.

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Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online First Impressions

While I love SAO, I have to say Gun Gale isn’t my favourite part of it. Mostly because of the whole gun thing rather than swords. Still, this wasn’t a bad start. What did you think?

SAO1d

Well, if we wanted to know what the actual plot of this spin-off series was going to be, this first episode isn’t exactly big on revealing. Mostly it seems to be intent on distinguishing itself from the whole sword and magic fights of the main stream SAO and plunges us straight into a gun battle just to show us how COD it can be (or pick your favourite shooter game).

That doesn’t make it bad as visually it was fun to watch and I kind of love the main character’s pink outfit and matching gun (inappropriate thought it is), but if I wanted to explain to someone what this is about so far all I’ve got is shooter game fantasy. A little bit more of an idea about the character or plot development to come might have been appreciated.

SAO1c

Still, despite not being a fan of shooters, this is part of SAO and so I’m pretty much signed on to watch it unless it becomes totally abysmal and this first episode was actually pretty reasonable (most enjoyable if you actually like watching gun fights). I guess I’m signed up for a season.

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Reasons To Like Kirito

As far as anime characters go there are many that are beloved and held up as shining examples of amazing characters. Kirito from SAO isn’t usually one of them and to be honest, I’m not actually going to argue he should be. However, I really like Kirito as a character and so my list today are my top reasons to like him. Feel free to share reasons why you don’t like him, another character you think isn’t given enough love, or even your reasons for liking Kirito in the comments below. Just remember to play nice.


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Lost song.jpg

SWORD ART ONLINE: LOST SONG


Please note: There will be spoilers below.

No honourable mentions this week.

Number 5: He’s Got Moves

Fight-SAO3

Okay, the Black Swordsman might be overpowered (depending on how you want to define that) and maybe we know plot armour is going to see him through regardless of the challenge (which kind of points out he isn’t that overpowered given he needs plot armour in addition to being crazy strong) but Kirito has some genuine moves with those swords. While a slightly more detailed animation style rather than colourful spam movement effects might have been nice in order to see more of that style, that aesthetic kind of matches the trapped in a game feel more or less perfectly so I can’t really be that critical. However, I put Kirito’s fights against some of the floor bosses (the few we see) just below Bell from DanMachi in terms of epic fight scenes to watch (and by epic, I mean I really enjoy watching them).

Number 4: Despite Having Moves, He’s Also a Klutz

Kirito - food

Maybe it is the Sailor Moon fan in me coming out but Kirito is at his most charming when utterly failing at simple things. That’s probably the reason that despite all my complaints about the Ordinal Scale movie, I still genuinely enjoyed it. Kirito spends the first part of the movie more or less out of his depth and tripping over himself before he finally switches into a more serious mode. He’s definitely less fun then.

Number 3: Though there’s a gaggle of girls surrounding him, Kirito has eyes only for Asuna

Kirito and Asuna.gif

Say what you want about Kirito’s harem, Kirito being surrounded by girls, none of the girls having any purpose other than to fall in love with Kirito and Kirito not deserving to be liked by so many girls (and all the other things that people like to say) the simple truth is Kirito has been completely loyal in his affections from start to finish. While he helps others out, and those others are regularly girls who then do stare at him with puppy dog eyes for a fair while, it is quite obvious that Kirito feels real love for Asuna and that it is mutual. The two have a bond that is incredible to see develop and to watch over the course of the first two arcs. The boy is loyal and he’s standing by Asuna no matter what and literally watched the end of a world with her by his side.

Number 2: Socially awkward teen who remains socially awkward, I’m in

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Kirito starts season one of SAO mostly isolated from his family, unsure who he is, and not overly social. He struggles to communicate with others and while Klein forces his way into Kirito’s attention, Kirito remains strictly a loner for a fair length of time inside the game. Much like his klutziness, his socially awkward moments that continue through large parts of the series remain one of my favourite parts because it reminds us that though Kirito does begin to open up to others and slowly builds up a circle of friends he still isn’t exactly well practiced in social graces.


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Number 1: Sound advice about enjoying the moment, no matter how messed up it might be

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While at first Kirito responded to the game with fear for his life and a genuine drive to escape (a drive that never went away entirely), he did come to an acceptance of his circumstances faster than many other characters. He continued to look for a way out of the game, a way to win, but he also remembered to take time to enjoy the world they were in and the life they were living. It was a game so many of them had wanted to play and a rich virtual world that was truly beautiful. Kirito realised the positives of the situation even while he didn’t resign himself to never escaping. It was a lovely thought about appreciating the moment and taking what you can from it, even while keeping sight of what you want.

And that is my list for this week but be sure to check back next week for a new list, or you can check out all of my Top 5 lists here. For now though, leave us a comment sharing your love for Kirito (or otherwise).


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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Tuesday’s Top 5: Isekai Stories

With my current light novel fixation and the majority of these being isekai stories I decided to look at some of my favourite isekai anime. Now this list started with just being set in another world and then clearly made a distinction of stories where someone starts in one world and crosses to another (which ruled out huge numbers straight away and that was probably a good thing). The other self-imposed rule I made was that there needed to be some element of being stuck in the new world, which unfortunately took GATE out of my list so it is going in the honourable mentions.

As always, this list is my opinion and my favourites, feel free to add yours in the comments below. I’m certain there will be some Re:Zero fans out there.

Please Note: There will be spoilers below.

Honourable mentions in this list go to GATE and Drifters.

Number 5: The Familiar of Zero

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I don’t really know why I like this over the top, harem comedy anime, particularly with the initial interactions between Louise (the titular Zero) and Saito (ordinary guy from Earth who gets summoned as Louise’s familiar during a high school magic exam gone wrong). She literally treats him like a dog or a slave at first and it isn’t great (and there is some highly excessive fan service throughout), however somewhere along the line an actual story begins to develop and the world Saito has been summoned to ends up being quite interesting. All and all, by the end of the first season of this I was pretty hooked even if it is incredibly bad at times.

Number 4: No Game No Life

No game No life

Again, this one has some appalling fan service moments going on in it, but once again the world itself is really interesting. A world where there is no war and literally everything is decided by the outcome of games seems really fascinating, particularly when the participants of the games set and agree to the rules so it isn’t as though you have to be good at one particular game. Shiro and Sora are siblings who play as Blank online in the real world when they get invited to play another game and end up being transported to Disboard. While some people find the predictability of the victor a bit of a let down, I really enjoyed this anime and my only real complaint is the anime ends just as the story seems to really get going.

Number 3: The Devil is a Part Timer

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This one is kind of the reverse situation to so many other isekai stories. Instead of some normal everyman from earth finding themselves in a magic world, here a hero and a devil find themselves stuck on Earth where magic is pretty hard to come by. While they do find various ways in the end to travel home, for some reason, they never seem to go and Maou finds more and more reasons to stay. This one is funny and if you ever believed that corporate culture was evil you will probably find the devil’s aspirations to take over the world by working his way up the food chain at a knock off McDonald’s hilarious. Again, the story feels unfinished, but it is a fairly entertaining ride.

Number 2: Sword Art Online

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Yes, I like Sword Art Online. This one is also a bit different from others on this list in that it is a game world and not some sort of magic world the characters are in, and they voluntarily entered it even if they didn’t know they couldn’t leave, and by the end of the first arc they aren’t trapped anymore, but I love this show. I’m putting it here. It is great fun and Kirito is awesome. If you like boss fights, some random questing and levelling, and seeing characters getting on with ‘life’ when removed from the real world, this show is great fun.

Number 1: Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

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It is no surprise when I decided to dip my toes into the pool of Light Novels that I started with Grimgar. I loved this anime so much and fell in love with the world and the characters and desperately wanted more. Now that I’m reading the light novels I really want to know why there is no second season of this anime. Certainly it is a much slower pace and not as comedy heavy as some on this list, but I think that is for the better in this case as it provides a darker view of normal guy being transported to a world where he’s suddenly expected to know how to fight and survive. Well worth watching but you may need some tissues mid-season. One major difference in this story is the anime never confirms where the characters came from before they woke up in Grimgar so we know nothing of who they were before they encounter this world.

So that is my list of top 5 isekai anime. Please add your own favourites in the comments below because I would love to know what is on your list.


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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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