Tag Archives: opinion

Sword Art Online is…good?

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.

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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?

Rockin’ All Night with Aishite Night

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).

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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).

The story itself more-or-less follows the story told in the manga of the same name by Kaoru Tada (same mangaka as Itazura no Kiss), although it does differ quite a bit (but not ridiculously).

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Juliano in action

The main character Yakko is a cheerful 18 year old girl in Osaka who helps out at her dad’s okonomiyaki restaurant, while attending evening school classes. A series of encounters with a child called Hashizou and his “woman hating” cat (I’m actually quoting from an episode title) named Julliano leads to Yakko becoming involved with Satomi (a regular at the restaurant) and Gou (Hashizou’s brother), two guys in a rock band called BEEHIVE.

 

Medium length story short, it ends up in a rather messy love triangle.

 

Before I continue, I just have a few things to get out of my system…

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The number of times I’ve seen a scene like this…

Maybe Yakko should actually listen to her dad occasionally whenever he shouts “WATCH OUT FOR CARS AND MEN!”. And while I’m at it, Gou and Satomi should seriously learn the concept of ‘bros before hoes’. You can’t jeopardise your band’s entire existence just because you think your friend is hitting on the girl you like, even though he’s already said he’s not interested. *sigh* I do admit that quite a lot of plot points are born from this, like one of my favourite scenes, when Hashizou apologises for his stomach growling at school because Gou (who at this point has hit rock bottom) was too hungover to wake up in time to cook breakfast. It’s still used way to much for the first half of the series.

 

But Hashizou, I know you’re cute and all but please stop trying to do something to get Gou and Yakko together. It always just ends in some kind of awkward misunderstanding or tension.

 

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Now look what you’ve gone and done!

Speaking of awkward tension, whenever there’s an awkward moment, Yakko just takes off into the sunset. I don’t really have a problem with it, but I just laugh every time it happens.

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 18.59.40.pngCliché plot and random thoughts aside, something they definitely have to be praised for is that they bothered to make original songs for the bands in the series. Aishite Night was actually the first anime to ever do such a thing, and it wasn’t just one song, but an entire album’s worth. You might get a bit tired of listening to them singing “FREEWAY! FREEWAY!” and “Burst into flames (FIRE!)” over and over again but, having listened to ‘Guilty Love’ almost on repeat while playing Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, I can safely say that it’s nowhere near unbearable. In fact, I actually really like the songs, so much that I spent nearly three hours looking for the soundtrack ( who knew old anime OST is so damn hard to find).

 

 

Sure, the art and animation is nothing to write home about and the plot itself seems to be an early incarnation of an endless number of clichés and tropes  native to the shoujo genre but there is still a certain charm to it that I couldn’t help but smile at no matter how ridiculous it got (seriously).

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Despite its flaws, this show is severely lacking in the attention it deserves. It’s not surprising, considering it’s a shoujo anime from the ’80s but it’s still a shame that it doesn’t get more love.

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Fun for all the family!

Part of the reason may be something to do with the fact that no one ever bothered to make an English language release of the anime or manga. Even though the original author Kaoru Tada later became extremely well known for her later work, Itazura no Kiss (Mischievous Kiss), which received an anime and many drama adaptations in multiple countries, no one’s even tried to publish the manga in English in recent years. Heck, I tried buying the manga in French but I can’t even find the second volume for less than €90.

You should definitely check out Aishite Night (if you can find it). But enough about obscure retro anime. I’m really in the mood to attempt making some okonomiyaki…

Will I buy a Nintendo Switch?

I did originally say in my post about the reveal trailer that I wouldn’t talk about the Switch again until release day (which we now know to be 3rd March 2017 worldwide) but there’s a lot to take in and talk about from their hour-long presentation this morning(and all the other information outlets that are buzzing today).

Nintendo have chosen to describe the Switch as “a home console gaming system that allows you to change your play style” and with three ‘modes’ plus the multiplayer mode they’ve dubbed “sharing the joy”, that’s quite hard to argue with.

A visual demonstration of how to “share the joy”.

I’m quite curious about the details of this paid online service that was mentioned but if it includes free games every month at a reasonable price like PlayStation Plus, then I would gladly pay (if I end up buying the console).

They also claim that the Switch has inherited the best parts of its predecessors, (including both home and handheld consoles), however, the meagre 2.5-6 hour battery life doesn’t really make it look like that…until you find out that it’s the same battery life Nintendo currently claims on the 3DS. If those 6 hours are able to last just as ridiculously long as the 3DS in standby mode, that’ll be good enough for me.

The stuff that comes in the box from left right: The Switch itself, the Joy-Cons (in a choice of either ‘neon red’ and ‘neon blue’ or grey), the Switch Port, The Joy-Con Grip, Joy-Con Straps, AC Adapter, HDMI cable

The other specs are kind of boring (to me at least), apart from the so called “HD Rumble”. I don’t know when I’d want to feel the sensation of a glass being filled with iced water, but there’s probably some developer out there who’s going to use it to make some super-high-tech game mechanic with it. The Joy-Cons (the controller thingies) have these motion cameras that can detect things rock paper scissors, but again, I’m not sure how that can be used. It’s still pretty cool.

The extra touches of the screen capture button, a microSD card slot, a USB-C charger and even the removal of region lock (I never thought I’d hear those words from Nintendo), make it all the more desirable.

The two new games they introduced are particularly interesting.

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The intention of 1-2 Switch (trailer), their launch day party game is to use the screen as little as possible to make you look at the other players (whom I think they are assuming would be your friends…).

And ARMS (trailer) is a fighting game (which I think will be like online-tournament type fights) where you use extendable boxing gloves. The whole thing is controlled by using the acelorometers and gyroscopes in the Joy-Cons (you’re supposed to hold them in your hands) so I wonder how many calories it will help you burn…

Apparently there are “over 80 games currently in development” so hopefully they’ll have a strong game library within a year, but right now, the launch day selection is looking a boring…

Which brings me on to the issues I have.

Weak Launch Line-up

With the exceptions of 1-2 Switch and the new Legend of Zelda game, pretty much all the games I’m interested in (Disgaea 5, I am Setsuna, Skyrim, etc.) I already own on other consoles. A weak launch day line-up is a mistake they made with the 3DS and the WiiU to have not learnt by now that it kind of matters what the launch-day titles are (Legend of Zelda is not the only thing fans care about…).

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!

Sure, they have some pretty exciting games coming out only a few months later, like Splatoon 2, Fire Emblem Warriors and Super Mario Odyssey, but I’m not paying £60 for a single game when the console itself already costs £280!

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The evidence, in case you didn’t believe me.

 I’ve always thought WiiU games to be a bit pricey at around £40 and £50 is pushing for a Day One Edition that comes with special features, but £60 for a standard copy? That’s just too much.

I thought Nintendo were trying to make the Switch accessible to all. Sure, the premium WiiU bundle was the same price, but at least it came with a game to begin with. It might be a bit cheaper than what the PS4 and Xbox One were at launch but that still doesn’t explain the price of the games.

My Verdict

No matter how cool and snazzy Nintendo’s magic tricks are I won’t let them blind me again.

I’ll only buy the Switch if, and ONLY if, there is a price drop on the console and games in the first six months and some more interesting games (that I can’t play on PlayStation) come out.

 

Nintendo NX Reveal (Nintendo Switch)

Looks like Nintendo’s “Switch”ing it up! (I’ll show myself out)

Not too long ago today, Nintendo finally revealed their “NX” project in a video on Youtube and the Nintendo Switch, as they’ve named it, seems much less cumbersome than the rumours made it out to be.ci_nintendoswitch_mosaic_image912w

When I saw the design I immediately thought it’s just a new version of the WiiU but honestly I think that’s exactly what it’s supposed to be. I think their main focus was to create the flexible console that the WiiU should have been. The Switch lets you pick up from exactly where you left off anywhere you want, something many (myself included) thought you should have been able to do with the WiiU, given the sheer size and weight of the gamepad.

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It’s a pretty cool idea that you can detach the controller parts from the handheld screen and connect them to an accessory, just hold them on their own or even hand one to a friend for multiplayer mode. And kudos for adding the kickstand.

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One worry I do have is the size. I don’t know the exact dimensions but it looks huge. It’s probably at least the size of a 7″ tablet so it will probably weigh quite a bit more than a 3DS and maybe even an iPad unless they’re planning on compromising the battery life, like they did with the gamepad’s measly 2 hours (or in the case of mine, 20 minutes). To be honest, I don’t really mind as long as it’s somewhere close to the 3DS’s  5 hours of continuous gameplay (or pretty much eternal standby mode).

Another worry, which is still size related is the power. Judging from what we’ve seen, the same item that houses the portable screen is essentially the entirety of the console itself. That’s slightly worrying when we’ve seen that it appears to be fully capable of running Skyrim. In order for it to run something like that, we’d probably be looking at at least 4-8GB RAM and I’m no tech expert but my 3GB RAM (fanless) phone does get pretty toasty sometimes… Baring in mind it’s already probably in the range of around 1lb already, adding fans will just make it even heavier.

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It seems like a pretty cool system but ultimately I’l have to wait and see what games (other than Just Dance 2017) will be available at launch before I commit myself to spending whatever they plan on selling it for. So, I guess I won’t be talking about this again until it comes out in March…

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