Monthly Archives: August 2014

Sword Art Online (Part 1)

Type: The part that actually takes place in the game Sword Art Online

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Synopsis: A young man is trapped in a virtual world where he has to train digital monsters to–Oops! wrong show. I mean to say that the young man is trapped in a virtual world and must solve the mystery of why he can’t log out while dealing with his inner fears and anxieties–no, sorry, that’s a different show too. Let me double check my notes…o.k. This show does follow a young man who is trapped in a virtual world, where monster do exist but as enemies, and he does deal with emotion problems but mostly about why every girl that meets him want to date him. He also actually makes it out of the game half way through, hence the “Part 1” in the title.

Pros: As non-original as it is, the premise of a person trapped in a virtual world still intrigues me. The plot behind this show is that a about ten thousand people are trapped in an online game. If they beat the boss, they beat the game, and the protagonist is one such person who resolves to do just that. The result is an action packed anime with video game jargon and the occasional love story. The action is nice and flashy, but the love stories are hit or miss. The stipulation that “if you die in the game, you die in real life” made some of the early death scenes pretty emotional. It was also an interesting idea to have time move in real time, and the revelation that two year go by in the first fourteen episodes really helps solve some of the show’s pacing problems.

Cons: This show is good, but its not great. I wasn’t psyched about that fact that every girl, every single dingle girl, that meets Kirito falls for him. This felt a little too harem-esque to me. As mentioned above, I also felt that the show had pacing issues, with stories jumping around in both location and time. For example, in Episode 1, Kirito is a level 1 player, but in episode 2 Kirito is apparently so high level that his afraid to tell people. A quick scene maybe showing him grinding would have been since. I was kinda ticked that most people in the show didn’t just band together and rush the hundred floors needed to beat the boss, but that’s nitpicking (and I guess since most people were at level 1, it wouldn’t have helped). As for the Kirito-Asuna relationship, I liked it. It was fine. I actually would have preferred more duo adventures, or at least one episode showcasing an Asuna solo quest. The overall emotional tone of the show is also a little bit too melodrama from some.

Watch it?: All-in-all, its fairly entertaining (4/5)

MVP: Sword Art Online

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For being a game so intricate, it actually had a Cooking skill tree in it.

Best Episode: Ep. 3 “The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (because everyone called him names?)

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Ah My Goddess! Flights of Fancy

Type: Also known as Season 2

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Synopsis: Keiichi is basically still living the swell life. After somehow ending up with the goddess Belldandy and her two not-so-wicked sister, Urd and Skuld, he’s more or less adjusted. He and Belldandy even manage to get closer on an emotional level, which is cool I guess. I mean, this kinda comes back to bite them when Urd’s mother, the LORD OF TERROR, decides to mess with them because why not? Can their love overcome the devil herself!? (Spoilers: Yeah, probably).

Synopsis: The animation seems to have gotten a bit of an upgrade between seasons, but not by much. I liked this season’s plot better than the first season. Aside from a few fluff episodes, the core story for season 2 is the growing intimacy between Keiichi and Belldandy, specifically on Belldandy’s side. This season, Belldandy experiences jealousy and possessiveness for the first time (she also gets drunk, which is always funny). Keiichi and Belldandy’s relationship are given several tests time around, and Belldandy’s new feelings boost the drama. Don’t get me wrong, this ain’t Days of Our Lives or anything, but I’m glad Belldandy and Keiichi were back to being the focus of the show after the lackluster second half of season 1. I also forgot to mention this last time, but I love the scottish influenced opening melody.

Cons: Again, nothing too bad or good. Aside from Keiichi and Belldandy, the other side stories are the inner turmoil between Urd’s goddess and demon sides, and a mini-arc about Skuld’s first love. A lot of episodes are still skippable, and you will most likely want to skim through a lot of this. Also, and I forgot the mention this last time, but this series has the weird habit of ending the plot two episodes early, meaning we essentially get two extra episodes for finales. That’s just weird.

Watch it!?: Did you know that Manga lasted 26 years? (3/5)

MPV: Belldandy

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She was rounded out a bit more

Best Episode: Ep.20 “Ah! It Doesn’t Matter Where, So Long as We’re Together!” (there’s nothing quite as romantic as a private dance together).

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Ah! My Goddess

Type: Sometimes pronounced “Oh!”

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Synopsis: Some college shumck strikes the lottery by accidentally calling a “goddess help line.” Surprisingly, this wasn’t a sex thing, because an actual goddess shows up to grant him a wish. He offhandedly wishes that the pretty goddess would stay with him forever, which forces this trans-dimensional being to be shackled to our mortal plain. But she’s cool with it. The duo  live out the rest of their days in psudo-marriged life, complete with in-laws and relatives.

Pros: This was a pretty good love-comedy. The first seven episodes were a solid relationship show, barring the fact that most of the emotional anxiety came from the male side. You care more about Keiichi and Belldandy as a result. They actually had a scene were they just talked to each other all night, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen in an anime. Episodes 8-12 introduce a second goddess named Urd. She plays the sexy one, but the show doesn’t strays into harem territory, which was actually surprising. Episodes 12-26 introduce a third goddess, Skuld, who I could have lived without, expect for the fact that she was really good in one episode. This was overall a pretty tepid show, with not real frills, but you can burn through it pretty fast in a fast food kind a way.

Cons: Nothing good, nothing bad. Average. You can skip a few episodes without missing anything. There were a few characters I disliked. Skuld’s kid act could get annoying. The snobby girl Sayoko was largely pointless. There’s also a demon bottle at one point that was pretty racist. Pretty super racist. As mentioned above, I felt that the added characters diluted the Keiichi and Belldandy story. Maybe if the other goddesses had popped in every once in a while instead of staying permanently, it would have worked better. Still, I liked the show overall.

Watch it: Easy watch (3/5)

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MVP: Keiichi and Belldandy

I hope these crazy kids make it

Best Episode: Ep. 26 “Ah! Being an Adult is Heart-Throbbing?” (The one time Skuld was watchable)

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50 Question Meme (2 Years Anniversary)

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Howdy! It has been 2 years to the day since I started this little Anime Circle for the busy gentleman (and lady). In honor of this milestone, I’ll be answering the 50 Question Anime Meme! Continue reading

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Penguindrum

Type: Terrorism is Bad

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Synopsis: There’s a lot of talk about circles and fate, but the gist is this. About twenty years ago, a terrorist attack killed a girl named Momoka. This made her younger sister obsessed with replacing her in the eyes of her parents and childhood friend. It also turned her best friends into obsessive psychopaths. Meanwhile, the children of the terrorists have a sick sister, and their quest to cure her forces them to cross paths with the aforementioned people. But it all turns out to be a battle between this evil bunny and a little girl with a magic diary.  And Penguins. What was with the Penguins?

Pros: Visually beautiful and dynamic. That’s not a word I get to use often, but this was very dynamic. Maybe dynamic isn’t the right word. Colorful? Bright? Bouncy? Something like that. I happened to watch the English dub, which was very good. A little flat in some parts, but overall excellent voice work.I really liked that the protagonist were brothers, because I don’t feel anime takes advantage of sibling protagonists that often. Its a pretty easy way to establish a relationship without backstory. There’s a good story here, if not entirely straightfoward. It’s also very funny when it wants to be. It even made some of the dark stuff they get into worth a chuckle. There was one scene between Himari and Masako that made me really want them two to have their own weird spin-off. There’s also a pretty tragic story underneath all the color, just in case your into that sort of thing.

Cons: First off, it has pacing problems. The first half of the show (ep.1-12) deals with Ringo, the girl who supposedly posses the “penguindrum” that the protagonists need to save their sick sister. We watch her stalk some teacher and try to impregnate herself with his baby. Yeah. This part drags on and on, especially compared to the second half, which just throws as much backstory and set up as it can. The whole story feels a bit full of itself, with incessant talk of destiny and fate. I feel that if this were set up in chronological order, from at least the day of the terrorist attack, some of the plot would work better. Speaking of the story, can I say that there was entirely too much weird sex stuff in this. There was implied rape, attempted rape, incest, obsession that turned out to be incest. I get that this is one of those stories, where the bright exterior hides as gritty underbelly, but can we not. Please. Can we just not. You already have terrorists, cults, and abandonment. Isn’t that enough? It should also point out that for a show that clearly spend a lot of animation, they recycled the Himari “Survival Tactic” scene way too much. And once again, what was with the damn Penguins? What do the symbolize, dancing? Did a watching of  March of the Penguins inspire some sort of existential crisis? What’s the deal?

Watch it?: It gets slack, because people clearly worked hard on this (4/5)

MVP: Shōma Takakura

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Clearly the main guy. Am I right or am I right?

Best Episode: Ep. 20 “Thank You For Choosing Me” (I was thinking of The Little Matchstick Girl when I saw this)

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