September 30, 2012

More Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online, despite its stupid premise, continues to impress me.

Asuna, the female lead, is particularly well realized. She's not a shrinking violet. She does not exist to show how awesome the male lead is. Asuna is a full fledged hero in her own right who at this point has unambiguously saved the heroes ass once more than he's saved hers. Unlike Kirito, Asuna was not an experienced gamer and certainly not one of this games Beta Testers, yet she has through sheer determination become at least his equal. She helped form and is now second in command of a guild that is fighting its way through the upper levels, she is however quite close to burnout when she meets Kirito for the second time.

(She's so buff that she could even afford to buy up her cooking skill to the God, she's perfect!)

On the other hand, Kirito, the male lead WAS a Beta Tester and as such is something of a pariah. The beta testers were deeply resented by the other gamers because they knew where everything on the lower levels was, and they did not share with the other players or train them.  Kirito did do a bit of mentoring, but is haunted by the mistakes he made early on and at one point early in the series he abandons clearing the game to schlep amongst the lower levels where his skill levels (about 3 times what is common in those regions) make him almost godlike. He spends several episodes doing good deeds and trying to be a hero with decidedly mixed results before realizing that his place is on the "front lines" and heading back.
At this point he's far past any areas he covered in Beta and so has no innate advantages. Though far from perfect he's an interesting and decent person, however he is weary and close to dispair when he by chance, encounters Asuna for the second time.

Kirito has developed as a character quite a lot over the course of the series but its the relationship between the two that is most interesting.

Teamwork! The secret to taking down high level monsters.

These two people really complement and complete each other. They have one of the more realistic and mature relationships I've seen on TV. This is a sad commentary on something since it is a...cartoon...about a virtual a video game... but its damned nice to see.

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Bakemonogatari Continues.

Episode 3 almost entirely consists of a quiet conversation in a park. The dialog is interesting, though I'm not sure the subtitles are doing it justice. While intriguing, the episode really reinforces my belief that this show cries out for a good dub.

Compared to the previous episodes the character designs are occasionally off model in this one...

I almost feel shafted by this.

While mostly a character episode they did manage to work in some completely unexpected Kung-Fu fighting.

One thing that did not come out in the first two episodes is that our hero, while quite smart and well intentioned, is a bit of a doofus.

This is a seriously odd show.

I'm not sure that it's good.

But it is quite clever and I'm liking it.

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September 26, 2012

Comics Can Have a Positive Impact

Wonderduck has a poignant post on the impact a well written comic can have. Go read the whole thing.

...then go buy Yotsuba@!.

It really is that good.

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Ninjas Needed!

Star Turtle Village is in Peril!

We don't have enough ninjas!

Now is a most excellent time to start playing Billy Versus Snakeman as Star Turtle Village needs Ninjas. With its huge number of options it is ideal for a beginning player and has all sorts of bonuses and perks for established players as well.

Just click on this here banner here
Be the Ultimate Ninja! Play Billy Vs. SNAKEMAN today!

For established players or new players that just want to be at a village from the very beginning, then Fractale Village is the place for you! Established and ruled by the benevolent Pixy Misa, Fractale is a quiet, serene village hidden deep in the heart of math.

...Oh and all the nonjas are cute girls (well, except for Archie).

Just click on this banner if you want to learn math ninjutsu...
Be the Ultimate Ninja! Play Billy Vs. SNAKEMAN today!

Billy Versus Snakeman is a simple browser based MMOG in which is set in a universe composed of offbeat parodies of anime shows. You start as a lowly genin, dreaming of ninja awesomenes. However, as you rise up the ninja ranks, you gain new goals that take you on bizarre adventures, involving, wasteland scavenging, soul reaping,  monster fighting.  hanafuda, majong and darts as well as exciting careers in the fast food industry. It has a limit on how much you play a day ( you have a very limited amount of stamina) so you are only on about 15 minutes a day. Thus there is no danger of one getting eaten by the game and becoming one of those online gamer after-school specials..unless one were to play multiple characters.

Oh, wait...

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September 18, 2012

Sword Art Online

From one of the more uninspiring series concepts in an uninspiring season comes...a surprise!

Its the year 2022, and a new MMORPG is coming online. This one has the latest in interface technology. namely a VR headset that operates through direct neural stimulation. The game is from a well regarded developer and highly anticipated. Our hero, who goes by the online handle of Kirito was one of the games Beta Testers. He logs on and mucks about for a bit, gives pointers to a new player and then tries to help the new player log out...but he can't.
There is no log-out option.
Enter the godlike online Avatar of the games developer who informs the 10,000 odd players that this is by design, and that he is informing the world of his deed. Oh....and if they die in-game their interface helmets will fry their brains. If anyone tries to unhook them, the helmets fail safe will kill them (which happens immediately to over 200 players as frantic loved ones watching his broadcast fail to heed his warning).

Now about 9800 people are stuck in a virtual Tolkienesque world. before he logs himself out, the madman leaves them with one tenuous hope...his assurance that they can escape if they clear all 100 levels.
OK let's say right up front that the premise of this show does not inspire confidence.

Sword Art Online greatly exceeded my expectations however, and at 11 episodes in, I'm going to recommend it.

This show has exceptional character development, not only of the male lead but also of Asuna, the heroine, who is smart, tough and genuinely heroic. Although she's not present for a good portion of the show she is surprisingly well realized and has grown noticeably as a person during the course of the series. Asuna  is one of the best female action leads in years.

Kirito, the male lead, is the main focus of the story early on and develops noticeably in the first few episodes. He is run through the ringer, but Kirito, while far from perfect learns from his mistakes and does evolve as a person.  His development is actually quite believable. Kirito is also smart which is always a pleasant surprise in these shows.

The show can be grim. The premise means that there will be a body count, but it is not gory and there is an optimism that runs through the whole thing.  The show  touches on things like ostracization, survivors guilt, ethics, love, the definition of happiness, and the difference between bravado and courage far better than one has any business to expect from a cartoon...let alone one about being stuck in a video game.

I am astonished to be so thoroughly enjoying this show. I just hope that they don't completely bollox it toward the end, as is the fate of so many initially good shows.

However, with much of the staff of Moretsu Pirates involved, I'm allowing myself a bit of optimism here.

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September 17, 2012


It seems there really are none on teh internets.

From Sword Art Online episode one, which, despite its uninspiring premise, is actually turning out to be kind of interesting.

OK maybe a few.
Also: Why haven't they starved?

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September 16, 2012

Oh So THAT'S How It's Done

I noted this in passing the other day on YouTube and I wondered..."How?"
The second opening credits song to Nichijou simply does not seem to lend itself to a trance version in any way shape or form.

Turns out, it's easy as pie...

...just don't have any idea what "Trance" means.

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Bakemonogatari EP 1

Crunchyroll has now started streaming Bakemonogatari in a possibly futile attempt to have its sequel (Nisemonogatari) make sense.

I'd heard generally good things about this series so I'm giving it a shot. I must say I was unprepared for the sheer SHAFTacular SHAFTieness of this SHAFT production.

How SHAFTy is it?

This is the staircase at the school....
This is a hallway in the same school...
Yes, SHAFT tends to be aggressively surrealist in its art direction and this show rather maxes that out. It's quirky look accentuates the otherworldly feel of the story. The use of "lighting" is particularly effective.

Despite its striking visuals this is not a show that relies on imagery to tell a tale. It is VERY dialog heavy...and text heavy...with episode one having several flashes of 'textposition' that are onscreen for such a short period of time that they frequently defy even the pause button. Despite this one annoyance and opening with one of the most gratuitous panty-shots I have ever seen this is a pretty intelligent and intriguing show.

Our hero, Kyomi Araragi... a senior at the academically challenging and architecturally improbable Naoetsu High School. He's your typical high school senior with the minor exceptions that he's smart and organized enough to be vice president of the student council and he's a former vampire, having spent much of his junior/senior vacation as a blood sucking creature of the night. He's better now, but struggles with lingering eosophobia which frequently makes getting to first period on time a challenge. 
His closest thing to a friend in school is...

 Tsubasa Hyakawa, the student council president. She she is helpful, smart, adventurous in her choice of undergarments, frighteningly well organized, an exceptional student and quite down to earth. Araragi has immense respect for her. She shares homeroom with...
Hitagi Senjogahara, who our hero recently saved by catching her when she fell down the schools spectacular stairshaft....a kindness for which she is less than grateful.
Hitagi is never without adequate school supplies despite never carrying a bookbag or purse and indeed is a very good student notwithstanding a lingering illness that has caused her to miss much school. Hitagi is a bit underweight and is not particularly sociable. In fact she's a very private person to the point that one might consider her a bit crabby. Despite this, our hero attempts to befriend her which sets in motion a series of bizarre and painful events.

   This is an odd show, but it is a clever and even thoughtful supernatural adventure and thus far I'm really liking it.

Next ep streams in 4 days.

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I guess it HAS been that long.

Art by tjota.
Lord, I'm old.

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September 01, 2012

MGFX : What's Missing?

I discussed Mysterious Girlfriend X a couple of times when I started it. Now that its done I must say it's pretty good.
It's quirky and odd, but it's kind of touching in a socially maladjusted way. 

However, I noticed something else as it progressed.
No cellphones.
Also, the camera. It's a camera...not a cellphone ap and seems to use film.  Furthermore, Urabe doesn't seem worried about infinite digital copies.
So the show is set in the past.
Is it really a period piece?
If so when is it set and what are the little period trappings that I'm missing?
The "UFO" that Urabe uses on her pencil was seen a lot in the '80s (on Urusei Yatsura for instance) but that might not count.

Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 09:11 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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