Sunday, 16 March 2014

Anime Review: Sword Art Online

A huge sigh of relief, I was finally able to finish all 25 episodes of Sword Art Online (SAO) a day before my study life is predestined to come back and haunt me. Then again, this is one anime worth watching. I totally understand why SAO was such a hype back in 2012, though I wasn't fully convinced then. I shall attempt to write a review of it now, but it will be a tough one considering the complexity of this anime. The review does contain some spoilers although it wouldn't really matter considering that I'm probably the last human on Earth to watch that anime.

Title: Sword Art Online (SAO). I honestly thought it was an actual MMORPG.

What is it about: You might heard of this before. A guy trapped in a virtual reality whereby a person dies when his/her character is killed in the game.

Review: I am going to do things a little differently this time. I will start by introducing to you some of the characters. There are indeed many characters in SAO. I had the SAO anime in my laptop since a very long time ago but haven't had the opportunity to watch it until now. Before I watched it, I did bought a poster of SAO and place it directly in front of my desk in my room simply because the characters look promising. Thankfully they did and my investment was totally worth it! :D

So let me start by introducing the main character, Kirito. Unlike most characters in anime, this one is what people would describe as overpowered. I won't deny it considering the fact that he pretty much pwned every opponent he faced alone no matter how supposedly tough the opponent is. Most of the time, characters like these are not likable. Kirito however isn't that bad. Yes, he does go crazy in battles but he's also pretty cool. He's like the Dante of SAO although there are certain period of time where he became totally depressed and emotional. This is when I really pitied him, as explained by the picture below:

Yeap, truer words have never been spoken, which leads me to my next point. When Kirito joins a guild, the guild members are indeed likable although obviously they are unimportant. Suffice to say, everyone dies. One of them is a sweet little girl named Sachi. I liked her, but she died a little too soon: Episode 3. I mean, she is voiced by Hayami Saori, but I didn't expect a character voiced by Hayami Saori to die in episode 3. Yeah I cried too. *sobs*

After some time, Kirito met everyone's favorite character in SAO: Asuna, which I expect Kirito to meet earlier but thankfully SAO managed to avoid that cliche. My first impression of Asuna is that she is a tsundere. Well, she is somewhat a tsundere but she at least she is not too extreme. I do agree that Asuna is a very likable character. She is friendly and intelligent at the same time. She's also insanely powerful. Good thing that SAO at least gave Kirito and Asuna some challenging adversary regardless the fact that they are overpowered. In that aspect SAO is interesting. Also, ultimately Asuna became Kirito's lover to the surprise of no one. However, it did impressed me that it is a love story I actually cared about and liked it. Perhaps it's because there are lots of sense of adventure in the development of their relationship over time, and that the characters didn't exactly blindly fell for each other. Then again, I gotta say that Kirito is one hell of a chick magnet. Lolies included.

Moving on to the storyline, SAO did have more episodes than one would expect as I shall explain later. But to enjoy SAO, one should preferably have some experiences in MMORPG's. If you don't know what an MMORPG is, well, some things might not make sense in SAO. The storyline of SAO is simple. SAO turned out to be an online game of death whereby players are trapped in and are forced to defeat 100 bosses in order to escape the online world. What makes this anime interesting despite the simple storyline is the complexity of the SAO world itself. SAO gives you a sense of adventure within its vast system, just like how video games gives you the opportunity of exploration. Of course, we have to keep in mind that this is about a death game and real life of the characters are at stake, which leads the plot to some conflicts and twists. However, badass Kirito managed to survive it all somehow.

All the storyline that made up SAO seemed to end at episode 14, and it can easily be concluded as the final episode. However, the creators of SAO anime obviously thought 14 episodes just doesn't quite cut it and extended the anime by another 11 episodes by complicating things a little. These 11 episodes could well be a whole new season altogether. In fact, the characters are no longer in the world of SAO but in a new online world called Al-something Online (AO). Not only do they enter a whole new universe, but the entire storyline changes. This time there are no death involved, but there are other problems and the course of the storyline remain simple: Asuna is kidnapped and Kirito had to rescue her. Well, AO does have some connections to SAO though which you will understand once you watched it. If I were to choose to play between SAO and AO, I'll probably choose SAO (without the death element of course) considering it is more physical centered as compared to the latter which is more magic centered. AO does allow you to fly though, as a fairy that is.

For the fight scenes in SAO (I'm talking about the whole of the anime) boy I love the fight scenes. Most of which involved sword fights (duh) but they are pretty epic. Also, while most of the time Kirito just went on and slay everyone, at times situation does require him to strategize and work together with his teammates. By the way, one thing I really enjoyed in SAO is the way they made the antagonist so despicable that you seriously felt like grabbing a knife and brutally murdering your television or computer screen. However, you do get rewarded by the way Kirito defeats the main antagonist. It was pretty... YIKES! On top of all those epic fight scenes, you do get some pretty epic background music. But then I do felt like I've heard it somewhere. No, I definitely have heard this music before in Xenosaga III. I did some research on Google and found out that the composer of the music was Yuki Kajiura. Oh why am I so very not surprised?

Last but not least, no anime is without flaw. There is one comment that I would like to state among others,  which I made earlier on Facebook but I'll just gonna copy it and paste it right here. So Kirito went to the fairy world to look for his gf then stumbled upon a random character, Leafa who offers her help to Kirito in his quest, and turns out the all along Leafa is Kirito's sister and both were completely oblivious to the fact. Oh come on, the second Leafa spoke I realized immediately it's Ayana Taketatsu who also voiced the sister. I searched on Google and confirmed that Leafa is indeed the sister which was already a spoiler for me, but it took Leafa and Kirito 7 episodes to figure out they were siblings. 最悪は君!!! (Saiaku wa kimi!!!) (You are the worst!!!). But yeah, Ayana Taketatsu displayed her most prominent talent by voicing Kirito's sister, well not exactly sister but it does have a long story so I'll continue to assume that she is Kirito's sister. Honestly, I swear Ayana Taketatsu voices the best imoutos ever!

In conclusion, what is Sword Art Online? Well, I'd say it is a debate on the ethical issues concerning virtual reality gaming consoles should one day it is invented, and its effect on human consciousness and emotions. Virtual reality gaming consoles is everybody's dream, but I guess there will me issues to be addressed and will probably never become reality. SAO highlights that perfectly, though by the end of the anime, virtual reality MMORPGs continue to exist. Anyway, if one day it does exist, then I might have a pretty good chance of finding myself a girlfriend! Jk XD

Rating: 8/10

Friday, 14 March 2014

Anime Review: Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)

Right, until now I am still suffering from a serious insomnia and therefore is a good time to watch yet another anime. This time I have decided to watch the one which was quite the talk in town several years ago which is Sword Art Online, and I thought maybe before I start watching it I should start writing for the one which was the hype last year. I had finished watching Shingeki no Kyojin quite some time ago but didn't bother to write a review of it until now for some reason. Shingeki no Kyojin (henceforth shall be known as 'SnK') is almost as influential as most mainstream anime, so you'll probably hate me for this review if you're a die-hard fan. In short, this anime is bad. Rest assured however, this is not the worst anime I've came across. Given the popularity of this anime, I assumed that you had already watched it and I am going to include a bit of spoilers.

The Colossal Titan a.k.a. The Human Muscular System
Title: Shingeki no Kyojin a.k.a. Attack on Titan (For your information, Shingeki no Kyojin does not mean Attack on Titan)

What is it about: The entire humanity was wiped out by titans. Only a small city survived the invasion. Eventually even the city was wiped out. Therefore the titans win. The end... Or is it?

Review: I didn't exactly have a fond memory of SnK. This anime was recommended to me by a friend of mine, and the first scene he showed me was the last part of the first episode where the main character Eren's mom was eaten alive by titans. It took me a few weeks to recover from that trauma, so it didn't exactly gave me a good first impression. Somehow after that I managed to summon all my courage to watch the entire series.

After I watched the whole of episode 1, I have to say it isn't that bad. In fact it is rather interesting as the city was attacked by the Colossal titan, which is the SnK mascot titan. The Colossal Titan is supposedly to most powerful of titans, and it is the only reason which kept me watching this anime. Unfortunately, the Colossal Titan appeared no more than 2 minutes in the first episode. Subsequently, he pretty much stopped appearing anymore and things turned out pretty ugly from then on as the titans begin their invasion to the villages in the city. The anime did a good job explaining the maps of the city, the government et cetera but really, nobody cares. For one thing I watched this anime denying every logic that ever existed, and you will have to do that to enjoy this anime. I could question so many things like where exactly did the titan came from and how did the remaining human population managed to build the wall guarding their territory, but I just couldn't be bothered.

Okay so the titans finally managed to infiltrate the remains of human civilization after a few hundred years (I don't know why), and the humans are to fight them off. Yes, this anime is set in the medieval eras where there are no modern weapons yet. However, they did invent a machine that allows them so so-called move in a 3-dimensional manner ala Spiderman style. If they can do that, why do they still fight the titans with disposable paper cutters? I can assure you the Japanese katana which I believe existed way before cannons are invented works much better that the weapons they are currently using. They had cannons by the way, which were medieval and completely useless.

I started watching this anime with a full expectation that there will be loads of violence involved. I wasn't disappointed. However, I did expect the titans to be slayed in a brutal manner as they did the humans. I wanted an all-out war with the titans. In this perspective, I was disappointed. It was a losing battle all the way. I understand that the titans are invincible, but I didn't expect that their only weak point is located behind their neck. This means that no matter how you attack the titans, they won't die unless you attack that particular weak spot, and in the entire series all everyone did is slash the titans' neck and they die. I find that really lame. I was expecting the battle to be like that of Monster Hunter, but unfortunately that's no the case.

Another thing I realized is that everyone in this anime are expendables, and they pretty much lived to be killed. It doesn't matter who you are, if you are not among the main characters or someone the plot absolutely requires, you die. It also doesn't matter if you are just an innocent girl, you die. You could argue that this makes the anime more realistic, but unfortunately anime isn't reality. Don't get me wrong. Realism is an important aspect of an anime, but realism has never existed in SnK to begin with. Towards the end of SnK, not many people are left. Also, the main character is supposed to be dead already in the beginning of this anime but nope, because his name is Eren Jaegar, he gets special treatments as I shall explain soon.

Now, I'd like to give my opinions regarding the characters of SnK. Most of them are not likable especially the main character of all people. Eren is the epitome of main characters that is most despicable. He does pretty much nothing in the entire series except complaining, but because he is gifted with special powers, he got to be the main character. Speaking of Eren's power, I am referring to his ability to transform into a titan. So in the end, it's titan versus titan. Say goodbye to all of humanity's glory.

And then there's Mikasa. She is not unlikable, but I just don't understand why is she so obsessed with Eren who gave her the cold shoulder every time. I get it that Eren saved her life once, but that doesn't justify Eren's mean attitude towards Mikasa for no apparent reason and also Mikasa's intense obsession towards Eren. Also, Mikasa is pretty when she is young as shown in the first episodes. When she grew up, she looks pretty okay I guess. Her colored lips looked weird though. She cut her hair after demanded by Eren because he thinks she looks better that way. I beg to differ.

In the midst of all the unlikable characters, we fortunately did have Armin whom I considered the one and only character who is completely likable, although many seems to disagree with me. I do agree he is weak, but who vouched for Eren's innocence and supported him when he's on trial? Armin did. Who devised effective strategies to resist the titans instead of hiding in one corner whimpering and just waiting to die? Armin did. Who ultimately discovered the traitor amongst their own people? Armin did. So I'd say screw Eren, Armin should be the main character instead. Poor Armin is too underrated.

Finally while we're still discussing the characters, I have to say that the titans look terribly weird and ugly at that. They look downright retarded. They came in different designs, but most of them  basically looked like oversized nude human who are suffering from Down syndrome. They also do not have genitals. Perhaps they are suffering from Klinefelter syndrome too. For some reason, this is an exception to several important crucial-to-the-plot titans such as the Colossal Titan and the Eren titan. I'd love to see an epic battle between human and Colossal Titan, but I guess that won't be happening anytime soon because the Colossal Titan has never be shown itself or mentioned again after the first few episodes. They did in fact however brought up several formidable titans to go against Eren and the rest of humanity, among them being the main antagonist who is the traitor I was talking about earlier. She was defeated at the end of the series, but that didn't exactly make things better as the anime ends in a cliffhanger with much unanswered questions.

In conclusion, there will probably be a season 2 to SnK but I certainly won't be watching it unless curiosity got the better of me. I heard that the manga of SnK is still ongoing and it's not going to stop anytime soon, hinting that SnK is going to be draggy and long-winded just like many of the mainstream anime. Well, if you are going to watch SnK any, try not to get too attached to a character. Chances are they will die in a pretty horrible way.

Rating: 3/10

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Anime Review: Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate

Yay for my semester break! Unfortunately, there is not less than a week left of it, and I still have a long list of anime waiting for me. However, I had been suffering from serious insomnia lately, and what better time are there to watch an anime? XD

Title: Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate (Love, Election & Chocolate)

What is it about: Love, election & chocolate XP

Review: I think I have an idea why sometimes people say they would prefer to live in the anime world than the real world. In the world of Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate which sets in the near future, the school is pretty much governed by the students, and this is where this anime gets really interesting. To tell the truth, the title says everything about this anime, only in a different order.

There are many anime out there, each has a distinct theme. This one in particular, focuses more on politics. As the name suggests, the major storyline of this anime is about a guy contesting for the presidency of the student body administration. He is up against several strong rivals, each with different governing manifesto and principles. The interesting part of this anime comes from the political strategy employed by the main character's 'political party' against some influential oppositions. You many not understand much from their plans, but really this is what makes everything so cool!

To begin with, this anime has an interesting start. The title may suggest a rather friendly anime, but it turns out that Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate isn't what you think it is. Yes it's cute, but it does have some dark elements to it which mostly arises (not surprising anyone) from politics. The first episode will leave you a suspense that won't be answered until towards the end of the anime. Partly this is what kept me watching the anime the whole night. Pretty soon you will discover that the politics goes beyond merely high-school students and even the characters' lives are at stake.

So, this anime starts off with Election. Then the Love part comes in. Do not be disappointed however, this anime isn't the typical high-school love story that one would normally expect. The storyline does take a rather complicated turn and things did turn out pretty crazy. There are also family issues involved, and usually that tells a better tale than couple love stories. Also, there is a dramatic twist of plot that affects every element of this anime. As for the Chocolate part, well, it has its own set of interesting stories in this anime.

Moving on to the characters, I'd say each one of them are likable although some are downright weird. Most of them are girls with different personalities and they are pretty cute too. However, there are some things which bother me in the character design. Firstly, one of the characters is a gay (a.k.a. yaoi) who is rather disturbing in a way, though at some point he did contribute to a more interesting storyline but I thought that isn't really necessary. What's more disturbing is the fanservice this anime offers. There are not much of nude scenes in this anime, however the characters did have rather unrealistically large breasts (a.k.a. oppai). Well, I think this is probably something almost all anime cannot refrain from, and that this one is relatively negligable. Other than that and the potential PMS from certain characters, they are all likable.

To sum up everything, this anime is indeed very interesting and funny. However, I wished there were more. Sometimes the storyline can be quite predictable. As evil as I may sound, sometimes I'd live to see the characters fail and then pick themselves up. Well, in a way they did especially when the plot take a dramatic turn, but I wished there were more than that. I'm not really sure how to explain it, I just didn't like the fact that this anime is somewhat predictable and at times, too cliched. I wanted more than that.

In conclusion, despite several drawbacks, I won't deny that this anime is indeed a very interesting one to watch. If only all politicians watch this anime, the world could be a much better place to live in! Jk.

Rating: 7/10