I’ve finally seen at least the first episode of everything I was planning on watching (plus a couple extra). So, how do they hold up to my expectations?
I’m sure you’re surprised that I’m not doing a new-season-first-impressions-whatever but I’m saving that for next week when I’ve actually seen everything I’m planning on at least trying this season.
Anyway, you people on Twitter already know of my annoyance last weekend when I was accused of being under 15 (for the first time in my life) but a couple days ago I finally got to see the sequel to my favourite spy movie.
Turns out that I apparently need to bring my passport just to watch a film these days.
— AJ @ number hell (@shoujoramen) October 1, 2017
I was mildly disappointed yet pleasantly surprised for a number of reasons…
I admit that Death Note means a lot to me and I won’t lie that my inner fangirl hasn’t clouded my viewing experience. Regardless, it’s still undoubtedly a terrible film, even without comparing it to the original work.
What’s most annoying for me is that the first 20 minutes actually showed promise. I was genuinely thinking to myself “Wow, this might actually be an okay film.” I mean, that scene where Ryuk was shown for the first time was pretty fun to watch but then Light shows Mia the Death Note and all redeeming features disappear along with my hopes that I wouldn’t be wasting my afternoon.
There are so many complaints I have with this sorry excuse of a movie, but let’s start with the elephant in the room: who thought that a psychological thriller that makes you question the true meaning of good and evil would do well adapted into a poorly thought out romance with a touch of gore for added shock value?
It’s been just under a year since I broke my routine of watching seasonal in an attempt to make more time for studying for school. In the end I just ended up spending more time picking up many more other hobbies. Heck, I even built a computer for the first time while I was at it.
Now with all the time in the world over the summer holidays, I thought I would catch up with all the anime I missed while getting my teeth into this season’s rather enticing offerings.
Already at week 8, and with less than a fortnight until the start of term, I can safely say that I probably watched more anime during my exams. To put it into perspective, there are 14 shows that I’ve marked as currently watching on MAL but in reality, I’ve only been watching about 4 of them.
I have a newfound respect for my younger self’s determination to watch each new episode the moment it became available on its respective streaming site. Right now I can barely even remember which day they air on, let alone be bothered to follow 20 shows.
At least now I understand why people tend to just focus on binge watching…
I may as well say what I’ve been watching, though:
So Initial D is kind of about a guy who doesn’t speak much but drives really fast and likes listening to music. Make it an action crime thriller set in America and I give you…a strange movie title? Now that I think about it, I still haven’t even read a single synopsis. Let’s check Rotten Tomatoes:
A talented, young getaway driver relies on the beat of his personal soundtrack to be the best in the game. But after being coerced into working for a crime boss, he must face the music when a doomed heist threatens his life, love and freedom.
…Not sure about you, but ‘Initial D, but American crime-thriller’ like sounds much cooler description, if you can forgive the soundtrack not being eurobeat. But why did I go? Well I saw the trailer in the cinema and it looked kinda cool. But honestly, hearing that’s it’s an Edgar Wright film would have been more than enough.
I’m not actually trying to beat around the bush here. Whether you love or hate SAO, fair enough, whatever, I don’t really care at this point. Besides, plenty of people have already torn it to shreds/prove its amazingness over thousands of times in more ways than I care to know by now.
Regardless of your actual opinion of the concept (which I personally love), there’s no debate that the story itself is a total mess (albeit not the worst).
Before I continue, allow me to first give a brief history on how the series came to be:
Reki Kawahara, a novice author at the time, originally wrote Sword Art Online as a one shot novel to enter ASCII Works’ Dengeki Game Novel Prize in 2002. In the end the novel was too long and he didn’t enter it, however, he did publish it online and even decided to continue it. Six years later, he entered and won the same prize with a different novel (Accel World). Seeing its success online (and also maybe Kawahara’s promise? I don’t know), ASCII Works asked to also publish Sword Art Online and you probably know the rest.
Going back to the title, I would like
argue suggest that ‘Sword Art Online’, as in the very first volume of the series, minus the final chapter, (that’s more or less the contents of only episodes 1, 8, 9, 10 and 14 of season 1, for those of you who haven’t read the novels) would actually have been quite good as a standalone, 200-and-something page novel.
If you think I’m simply just picking and choosing the parts I liked the most (which isn’t actually true, by the way) think of it like this: apart from volume 2 (which is just a series of short stories that were added later on, so it doesn’t even count anyway), the rest of the series isn’t even really about Sword Art Online. It’s just about the same people messing around with various VR (and now AR?) games that happen to have an “oh so dark” secret behind them. A bit of a side note, but one of the biggest problems I have with the series is that it’s rather difficult to up the stakes if they’re already death in the very first arc.
But all these problems disappear if Sword Art Online was only the one volume. Kirito isn’t even a crappy harem protagonist since Sachi, Silica, Lisbeth and Yui all no longer exist and the rest of the series never even happened. The shallow character development? Not a problem, since one shots don’t really need much anyway. It’s not like you’ll ever see the characters again at the end of the novel. It’s not like the author will decide to make the story drag out for 20+ volumes without adding the required development to prevent the protagonist from being a Marty-Stu and the centre of a completely pointless harem…
I don’t know what I was trying to achieve here, but maybe I’m just angry that (admittedly only partially) because of SAO’s success, a genuinely interesting concept has become overused to the point that multiple novel competitions ( including ones run by Kadokawa and Kodansha) have banned anything to do with a teenage protagonist and/or alternate video game type/ fantasy worlds. Despite this, we are left with only very few works that execute it well and are interesting to read and even fewer that I personally like. As overused as it is, an entire series of tropes has essentially been binned just because there is too much actual crap within the category for the genuinely good stuff to be found.
Oh well, at least we have the masterpiece that is SAO Abridged.
Now I finally have plenty of free time, I want to catch up on the anime I’ve missed over the last year. What should I watch first?
Some time around Christmas, while I was browsing TV Tropes, I remember stumbling upon Aishite Night (愛してナイト and it’s sometimes romanised as Aishite Knight, but I can write an entire essay as to why I don’t think it should be).
I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of it but, if you happened to grow up in continental Europe during the late 80s and early 90s, you may have heard of it under a name like “Rock’n Roll Kids“, “Lucile, Amour et Rock’n Roll” and “Kiss Me Licia“, among many others. I’m told that it was even popular enough in Italy to get a 145 episode long live-action drama (I feel like I might have to check that out at some point).