Saturday, December 29, 2012

"Sword Art Online" (Anime) Final Thoughts

The last episode (for now and maybe forever) of Sword Art Online aired a couple weeks ago and after two anime seasons, I am very glad that it is ending/taking a break. The light novel that the anime was biased off of was praised for its witty and well written dialogue that helped make the online world of SAO and ALO come alive through the text. I feel it’s safe to say that the light novel deserves to be called “epic” but as for the anime…”ok” is a better way of describing it. 

So the anime is by no means a failure. Most of the characters in both the anime and light novel were a blast to learn and watch mature over the course of the story. I honestly did not like Asuna in the beginning but by the end of the first season, I was rooting for a happy ending for both her and Kirito. Many anime viewers across the internet praised how the anime immersed the viewer into the story. I do agree with this point but there is a lot more aspects that get glossed over. First off is the plot and the pacing of the show. Unlike in the first volume of the light novel, the anime decides to include the side stories of volume two for episodes 2-7 which was not a huge issue except that it completely disrupt the pacing. They included these filler episodes so that you were introduced to all the characters in the SAO universe even if some of them were uhhh useless and unneeded. So filler episodes aside, the rest of the first season did skip over some minor details but overall I did not feel as if it was rushed. The second season however was plagued with pacing and continuity issues. From the first episode of the second season, important information was left out and entire segments were either skipped or almost left out completely. The pacing was so erratic that I honestly cannot recommend watching the second season at all. The plot seemed so rushed in order to get everything in for twelve episodes that it just comes off as a decent adventure between Kirito and his sister. 
So while the plot and pacing sort of fails hard, the animation and sound is BEAUTIFUL. The world of SAO and ALO will take your breath away with their beautiful scenery. All the backdrops in these virtual worlds retain a certain level of quality throughout the entire +20 episodes. The same applies to the character models; they are all very well done. The sound also deserves some praise for being freaking awesome. The soundtrack fits the anime very well in both heavy dialogue and actions scenes. It has elements of orchestras and synths that blend well together. The voice actors did a spot on job with mending their own take of the characters with what was provided in the light novels as well. 

So while the animation, sound, and characters are spot on, the inability for this anime to outshine its source material will taint the viewing experience. I know that a lot of people would rather watch a movie than read the book but I STRONGLY recommend that you give the light novel a shot before even thinking about watching the anime. The light novel does an excellent job immersing and investing you into both the characters and story while the anime is a glorified cop out that will most likely only cater to action fans. The level of deepness the light novel had is unfortunately completely taken away in the anime. It’s good but far from amazing.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy End of The Year and A Free Day Off From Work (hopefully)!

Well with the year coming to a close, I just wanted to thank all the viewers of this blog. I’m sure I do not have any “fans” or returning visitors but even if you stumbled upon my blog on accident, I want to thank you for checking out my posts. It’s a lot harder to sit down and post some things while at home for the break but as soon as I get back to school I will be able to resume my original pace. There are a couple anime airing soon that I am REALLY looking forward to and also some reviews that I have been procrastinating on so check back later for some new stuff! I do not know if you celebrate Christmas but I hope you have a great day off from work!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne" (Light Novel) vs Anime Discussion

After recently picking up the light novel version of Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne and reading up to volume three, I am blown away at how much the anime could have been…if it just followed the light novel’s direct pacing. It is amazing how different the anime feels in tone and execution compared to the light novel which in my honest opinion is the choice form of enjoying this brother/sister love fest. So let’s get down to the facts that separate the mediocre anime from the amazing light novel.

So first thing I noticed when reading the light novel was that the conversations really bring out the best in the characters. The first volume sets up how Akito comes to living with his sister AND how he becomes so close to the whole student counsel AND how everyone ends up living under one roof. The anime kind of just throws you into the story where they are already living together and Akito is already a part of the student counsel. I always thought that the first episode of Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne felt strange as if they were not explaining how some things came to be. Also the conversations in the light novel are extremely witty and well written. Each conversation is important to the plot and helps shed some light on why someone acts the way they do in public. There are scenes where a back and forth conversations between two characters can last for an entire chapter. You might find this tedious to read but I found that the light novel blew the anime out of the water in terms of how interested I was with the characters. The anime also takes all the seriousness out of the light novel. I was quite surprised to find out that the light novel was not a romantic comedy but more of a serious slice of life that explores two siblings pasts. 

So continuing on what I touched on at the end of the pervious paragraph, the tone of the anime is the second problem when being compared to the light novel. This might not be a problem if you just want another generic high school comedy harem but after reading the light novel’s first three volumes, there is no turning back to the anime. The light novel goes much deeper into how the student counsel goes about helping Akito cure Akiko’s “problem”. The way the anime introduces the main focus of curing Akiko is “Hey it’s wrong to want your brother’s d!#@ so stop that!! Oh we also all love you Akito!!!” So like I said if you want mindless harem, go with the anime. If you want a more serious drama, go light novel.
The anime tries very hard to be funny but the only show that can rip off other anime and be funny about it is Gintama
Now the biggest beef I have with the anime is the omission of some very important information. The light novel goes MUCH more in-depth to the back stories of the characters as well as what happened to Akito and Akiko’s parents. The novel even brings up why Akito acts the way he does around his sister. The flashback conversation he has with his parents when he was little is EXTREAMLY IMPORTANT TO THE WHOLE PLOT. It completely shows why he acts so caring around Akiko AND brings up some VERY IMPORTANT information that is never brought up in the anime. This information (that Akiko and Akito are actually not blood relatives and that it is Akito who is not really a part of the bloodline) is uhhh PRETTY F#@$ING IMPORTANT. How it didn’t make its way into the anime is beyond my comprehension. 

Ugh I am complaining a lot and I apologize. While I find the light novel the superior version of the story, the anime is not…all that bad. It is definitely more laid back and focuses more on the comedy aspects of the story but it still provides some of the key moments in the light novel. As a standalone anime it is decent but when compared to the light novel it will never quite match up. I have not been so engrossed in a story since my first read of the Sword Art Online light novel. I have a deeper appreciation of all the characters especially Akito after reading some of the Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne light novel. There is much more going on than the anime is telling you.
Dat face when you stay up late reading something awesome

Friday, December 14, 2012

"To Love-Ru: Darkness" Episodes 3-9 Thoughts

So while I do not hide the fact that I watch anime (actively) to my friends, To Love-Ru: Darkness is an anime that I will never tell a soul (that I personally know) I watch. I sometimes wonder why I do watch the show since the main focus is well…not really the plot.

So yeah To Love-Ru: Darkness in case you somehow didn’t know is an ecchi comedy from the animation studio XEBEC. This season marks the third season of To Love-Ru and it has a running manga which the show is based off of. I shamefully raise my hand again by confessing that I have been keeping up with the manga and actually have been enjoying it. I tend to usually not want to watch or read ecchi related content but the wacky events that happen in the To Love-Ru universe are actually quite fun to watch/read.  To Love-Ru: Darkness has so far proven to be just as wacky as its two predecessors and of course has kept up with the fan’s demands for the…animation!-___-
"What?! There is inappropriate content in this show!!?
Episodes three through nine have kept the same pacing and structure as the first two. My post on the first two episodes can be found here but if you do not want to read up on what happened in the early parts of the show all you have to know is that the show revolves around a male high school student named Rito. Rito becomes involved with a space princess named Lala very early on in the To Love-Ru time line but plays more of a sideline role in Darkness. The main female protagonist for this season is Momo (Lala’s sister) who wants to create the perfect harem for Rito. Other than that, you shouldn’t fret about the plot because every episode wants to exploit two things; comedy and ecchi content. So the comedy: if you do not like slapstick type comedy then please steer far away from this anime. Everything that is considered a joke in this anime comes in very short bursts and is usually recycled themes and gags. Ecchi content: there is a lot of it and I am willing to bet that at least eighty percent of each episode shows the trademark awkward camera angles and rays of light blocking certain body parts. I will put my two cents out here and say if you are only wanting to watch this for the ecchi related content, I would wait until the Blu-ray and DVD (…people still watch DVD’s?) versions of the anime come out because there is so much censoring in this show. Every little thing has annoying rays of bright white lights coming in from no where. It has gotten to the point where it actually distracts me from the overall visual elements of the anime. It’s a shame too because the anime is quite beautiful. The backgrounds are very well defined and the characters models are amazing. All the females are visually attractive and even though the facial expressions are represented in a comedic way (sort of simplistic if that makes sense), they still express emotions fairly well. 

The characters in this anime are strangely easy to like. The show boasts a pretty large cast (not Negima!?big but pretty close) and I can honestly say that I can remember at least seventy percent of them. Each character has a pretty unique personality even if some of them sport the typical tsundere or super shy stereotypical personalities. What really shines is Momo the main female lead of the show. She sits behind a faƧade not wanting people to really know what her goals are really aiming for. She’s also becomes fairly vulnerable with her feelings towards Rito by episode nineish. Overall the cast is pretty well done and each of the female leads should offer you something that makes you want to see them succeed with catching Rito’s affection.

So bullet points: Slapstick comedy, overwhelming ecchi content, beautiful animation with fairly annoying censorship in the forms of blinding light, and a quality cast. Should you watch it? I say yes but wait for the Blu-Ray copies to be released. Also support the anime industry by BUYING THE DAMN ANIME AND NOT PIRATING IT. Like the gaming industry the anime industry is really struggling at the moment and every time you download something without paying for it you put the people of the industry’s jobs at stake. Please if you do not have the means of purchasing anime, please watch whatever you can find on legal streaming websites such as Crunchyroll.

Monday, December 10, 2012

"Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne" (Anime) Episodes 3-10 Thoughts

After ten episodes I finally know what Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne really is. It's not a good anime BUT an extremely cute one (so a s#!tty one right...?).

Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne I think would be considered the generic harem anime of the season due to the fact that nothing really happens...ever. The only thing that I can tell you what this show is trying to accomplish is that there are four girls (two extremely cute ones and three others that I could care less about) trying to get with our main character Akito. They go through the typical “Going shopping” and “Shower” scenes that are in EVERY other harem anime. There just really isn’t any plot twists or hang on…any plot whatsoever.

But hey characters can save a show…right? I actually like Akito because unlike a lot of male protagonists in harems, he has likeable qualities. He is neither a perve, sex crazy adolescent teenager nor the polar opposite super shy but strangely likeable to every girl everywhere. He is simply a guy who lives with his sister and childhood friends while attending high school. He has sexual desires but he doesn’t want to lose “it” to just any girl. He isn’t the best male lead I have ever seen but a solid one that I can bear with. The female cast is however a mixed bag. We have five main female leads introduced by episode seven that compete for Akito's affection, Akiko the annoying (but too cute) sister, Anastasia the mischievous (and WAY too cute) instigator, Arashi the assertive s!ut, Haruome the…I don’t know what…(boyish looking girl?), and Arisa who is quite annoying and little. The only characters that I have even a lick of liking towards are Anastasia and Akiko. Anastasia is extremely cute and is always trying to get Akito to say inappropriate things. She is by far the one with the hardest time controlling the inner struggle of how to deal with her feelings towards Akito. The other female character, Akiko is Akito’s sister (I’m sure they will pull an “Oh she is actually his cousin/half-sister/adopted sister” crap to try to make it ok for incest -___-). She is madly in love with Akiko and no it is not the brother sister type love; it’s the type of love that apparently Japan loves to throw into anime…Unlike most of the world I don’t particularly mind a brother and sister getting married since in our past it happened quite often. Inbreeding to an extent can produce dangerous results but it has been scientifically proven that these odds are very slim. Even with this thinking though, the love that Akiko supposedly has for Akito seems very forced. She is also quite annoying as every scene I see her in makes me want to duct tape her mouth shut BUT she way too cute for her own good. The things she goes through trying to get Akito’s affection is remarkable and impossible not to find adorable. I wouldn’t mind having a sister like Akiko to be honest…Anyways the point is that minus these two characters, the rest in my opinion are s#!t. The other characters just do not appeal to me physically or ideologically; they are just boring and/or generic. 
How could you not find this cute!?
or this?!
So there’s no plot and pretty crappy characters…well the animation and sound are bound to be amazing by today’s standards right…? WRONG well kind of…There are many scenes where the animation is quite good such as the one-on-one scenes between Akito and the various female cast. The character models are where some of the…let’s call it quality control seems to slip a little bit. I don’t know if it is just lazy animation or a lack of a needed budget but some of the scenes sport some bad character models. Whether it is the hair, facial expressions, or just how the shot is well…shot, something always seems to be off. It’s like the characters could look better but they just don’t…IT may be just that I have become excessively picky with animation since technology has helped animation tremendously but I feel as if this anime is not getting the amount of work it deserves. The females are still very stunning in most scenes it just seems as if the quality doesn’t hold through all the episodes. Sound wise the voice actors have done a decent job expressing their characters. Even though Akiko and Arashi are very annoying (multiplied by their voice actors), the voice actors pull their personalities off quite well. The sound track however is extremely generic…Both the openings/closings and the music during the show are just not noteworthy. It is barely passable. 
Most of the scenes are like this; they are shooting for a comedic effect with the style of animation but it just isn't done very well.
So let me get this straight…there is no plot to be found, crappy characters, inconsistent animation, and passable audio qualities? Why the hell would I watch this then!? Well that’s a tough question to answer. It seems that many animation studios think that today’s audience just wants cute, high school shows rather than the thought provoking, action orientated, or deep romance anime we have seen in the past (Steins;Gate, Death Note, Fate/Zero (actually pretty recent), Rec, ext.). Maybe they think we are easy to please, I don’t know but I have to say one thing about this show; it’s decent. It’s extremely cute, funny in a lot of parts, and at certain moments rewarding. The character interactions are enjoyable to watch and each episode does not feel like it is dragging. Overall it’s an average show with some cute characters; is that not good enough for you?