Summer 2012 – First Week Impressions (Part 3)

This post reviews Sword Art Online, Kokoro Connect, and Oda Nobuna no Yabou.

Watching:

None of the three shows are here yet, but judging from the results of this week, consider this a plus for any shows that’s undecided at this point.  Doesn’t mean they’re being added to the list, but it does make it easier for them when their second episodes air this week.

Undecided:

Sword Art Online – Sword Art Online possessed an array of positive attributes but remains undecided due to the undeniably atrocious set-up and plot of the story (but we’ll get to that later).  The art, especially when used to construct the environment and general scenery, is breathtaking.  Not only are the landscapes sights to behold in this online fantasy realm, but the use of lighting and color breathes life into the world and places the audience inside the game with the players without being in their dire situation.  The main character seems reasonable and likable, two desirable traits for any lead who’s a male highschooler given how appalling they tend to be in anime.  Music has been outstanding, giving the anime an ambiance to it to make it feel like a game without sacrificing emotion or personality.  But that’s where the compliments dry up, so all that remains are the offenses.  For one, this has to be the absolute WORST set-up for an anime that I can ever remember.  If anyone can even bring up another anime that’s worthy of this dishonor, please bring it up in the comments section because this is amazingly shoddy.  I almost feel ashamed or apologetic for having watched this, but apparently the owner of the game thought it was a fantastic idea to condition his game so that people would die in real life when they died in the game.  How the fuck do you get away with that?  How did anyone else in this corporation agree to this?  Wouldn’t the Dev Team think removing the log out button would be a bad idea?  What about the chip in the helmets that kills people when they take it off?  How are people going to survive in this comatose state without being hooked up to TPN?  How was sanctioning murder part of the business proposal?  Wouldn’t the government send in a SWAT team or something to capture and imprison the guy who publically admitted to murder?  And what about the company’s stock?  How was any of this financed?  It makes zero sense.  I’ve heard of a suspension of disbelief but there’s no way anyone could suspend it for this long and be okay with it.  I mean, I hope everyone who watched this realize that the entire set-up of this anime is the greatest bullshit set-up in the history of anime and called out the anime as a result. But thankfully, that part has passed and the story can progress with the protagonist stuck inside of a video game where life and death is what he gambles with in every action in every battle.  I’m sure the anime will improve but damn, that set-up really pissed me off.  Oh, and perhaps the worst part about it all, he changed all the in-game female avatars back into the men that actually play them.  It’s like the anime is self-conscious and wants me to drop it.  Everything still pisses me off but all those aspects are over now, and finally, the anime can progress as it intended giving us a better example of how to evaluate and judge this show.  I’ll need to wait until the second episode is over before adding this to my list.

Kokoro Connect – I’m inclined to designate this a supernatural anime more than a slice-of-life one for the fact that the story of the anime (as well as its gimmick) revolves around people switching bodies with each other.  I’ve always been a fan of this concept in anime when it’s around for an episode, and I’m interested in this idea for a full series, especially with various combinations and how the characters react and grow from these situations.  I can imagine a vast number of potential episodes that this anime can do and, should the writing be somewhere near excellent, I can see this turning into one of the better anime this season.  However, everything else beyond that is a rather tame and mundane slife anime without really any interesting merit.  None of the characters have appealing personalities which unfortunately has become the standard in these semi-serious school anime.  The writers must not have cared how one-dimensional their characters were and opted to mold them around only the one or two descriptive words they obtained from their boss.  Would explain why everyone has been limited to “genki”, “ojou-sama”, and “wresting fan” thus far.  But even with that fault, thankfully no one is excruciatingly annoying and Inaba is cute.  Besides the body-switching, the anime seems to be imprisoned at a school with the members forced into a lackluster club together.  I find the art charming despite being rather plain and the music has been fine.  Among the anime in the undecided section, this one might be the hardest since I don’t expect to come to a definitive answer even by the next episode.  It will depend on how the other anime do since I don’t really mind either keeping it or dropping it.  If I had to guess if it was one or the other, though, I’d guess I’d end up keeping it considering the light volume of anime this season.

Dropped:

Oda Nobuna no Yabou – Oda Nobuna no Yabou belongs here because it did more wrong than it did right.  The artwork throughout, both in terms of background and characters, is rather pronounced in how it appears, making the characters seem more noticeable or important when they’re on the screen.  You can’t help but have your eyes drawn toward them, even when most of the episode is just people talking.  The setting is of particular interest to me, though I’m not as eager for a feudal Japan setting as I have been recently.  And though my knowledge isn’t up to par on the Sengoku period of Japanese history, I’m going to guess this anime is historically accurate which is something that is better than most other anime which take place in or characters from this era.  But those points aren’t enough to keep me watching this anime.  Perhaps the most offensive aspect of this anime is the male lead who I wish was killed by the stray bullet in the first minute of the anime.  I don’t even need to describe what kind of character he is since you already know but he’s that guy who pissed you off with every action he does.  He gets mad when people call him “monkey”, he openly talks about boobs and girls to strangers, he’s on the receiving end of physical humor from girls, he becomes serious and makes a stand and helps the lead female in some crucial moment only for it to end in a joke a scene later, and he doesn’t appear to be terrible concerned about being teleported into some alternative past with zero hope of getting home.  In other words, he’s the exact same male you find in every harem anime.  The dialogue is uninspired with the cast already a haphazard set of anime tropes, including the girl who’s embarrassed about her large breasts, someone who ends every sentence with varying scores about how shitty of a character she is (though the true score is always 100 points), and we’ve already stumbled upon an army of lolis that talk like lolis but might actually be the best characters in this anime.  The humor proved successful once, so it isn’t worth watching for a comedy.  The romance in this anime is certain to be dreadful since this isn’t geared to be a romance anime either.  Honestly, it’s not even that great of an all-female Sengoku anime, too, so I really don’t know why I should be watching this anime.  In the 24 minutes that I watched this first episode, the anime failed to convince me of any reason on why I should continue to watch this anime.  Any anime that does that deserves to be dropped.

And that’s it.  No, I did not watch every anime that aired this season since plenty were already dropped after reading the synopsis and watching the PVs and CMs.  Everything that was watched and reviewed here were all the shows that made it past that stage and earned the right to be evaluated.  All that remains is figuring out where the undecided anime fall and that depends on their second episodes.  You’ll be able to see which ones make it when the Weekly Anime posts begin again this weekend.

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  1. #1 by windyturnip on July 11, 2012 - 10:48 AM

    I was going to give Oda Nobuna no Yabou one more chance, but I think you’ve convinced me otherwise. In retrospect, I should know that any harem anime with an obnoxious male will, nearly without fail, be awful. On the bright side, this will free up some time for me to keep up with the more promising shows this season (and there are plenty).

    • #2 by avvesione on July 11, 2012 - 12:31 PM

      If someone were new to anime, then maybe Oda Nobuna would be decent since they haven’t been overly exposed to these stereotypes and tired, tired cliches as more veteran fans have, but if you’ve watched the episode and recognize the personalities of most of the characters and have an understanding of how it’ll progress, then there really is no point in watching this since it’s the same as watching reruns of an anime of this type. And given the number of good anime this season, might as well drop this and have more free time or pick up an older series. That’s what I’m planning on doing.

  2. #3 by Joojoobees on July 11, 2012 - 1:51 PM

    I’ve already expressed my lack of patience with harem shows. No Oda for me.

    Unless I hear really good things about K-Connect, I’m not going to waste my time on it.

    Sword Art Online — you are right about the impossibility of getting a change like that into place. I think it would be great if anime could take a serious look at what is involved in making big decisions like that. It obviously would be informative for the storywriters and probably much of the audience. They could go over the way the guy sneaks his changes into production (past the CAB) without the knowledge of their deadly intent. In businesses I have worked changes to critical systems had to go through a change control review, and there was always a plan for rolling back the change if there was an unforeseen problem after it got promoted to production.

    That having been said, I would like to see what the actual story is going to be like. The first episode was all backdrop.

    • #4 by avvesione on July 12, 2012 - 6:21 PM

      Yeah, knowing you, Oda Nobuna and Kokoro Connect are probably not shows you’d like. Might be interesting to watch them, but I don’t think it’s worth your time.

      And yeah, I wish they’d get into the finer details of how everything happened. I’m surprised Consumer Safety or whatever Japan has would allow devices that could microwave a user’s brain and kill them to be marketable. You’d figure that would be removed or limited with a safety or something. And unless he’s running, maintaining, and programming everything from his secret underground bunker, evading the police and military (somehow), then the set-up doesn’t work. But at least the set-up is over, so hopefully the anime progresses well from here.

      • #5 by Joojoobees on July 13, 2012 - 6:47 AM

        There is a good science fiction novel called Daemon, by Daniel Suarez, that does a good job explaining how something like this might happen: the computer game programmer dies at the very beginning, and thus the police can’t stop him. It specifically covers how he managed to propagate the malicious code, and is a good read if you enjoy Sci-Fi Military-Mystery. The difference is that the programmer takes over the real world by using his knowledge of computer systems and gaming, he doesn’t just trap people in a virtual world. He traps the people in the real world, by manipulating the virtual superstructure.

        • #6 by avvesione on July 14, 2012 - 1:33 AM

          That’s a similar and interesting storyline, be interesting to see how that compares to this. The one thing I don’t understand is that the servers are probably somewhere where people are maintaining them, and it’s a part of a larger company that deals with other games, software, hardware, and whatnot. I mean, trying to figure out what’s happening with them is what I find puzzling, too, not just the creator. Doubt we’ll get that far into the back-story though.

        • #7 by Joojoobees on July 14, 2012 - 1:17 PM

          Yeah, in Daemon, the first thing that happens is that the police move in to shut the servers down. That obviously would happen in the real world.

      • #8 by Joojoobees on July 14, 2012 - 1:14 PM

        I gave Kokoro Connect a shot, to see how they handled the body-switching idea, and after two episodes it actually looks like they are doing a good job with it. I find myself pleasantly surprised, since that mechanic is always best employed to give characters a stimulus to grow by coming to understand another.

        • #9 by avvesione on July 15, 2012 - 1:19 PM

          Yeah, besides the humor and whatnot, I figured it would be a device to force the characters together and make them grow in a proper fashion. I haven’t seen the second episode yet, but I am looking forward to how Kokoro Connect stays fresh this season with this body-switching theme.

  3. #10 by Detetiv on July 11, 2012 - 10:00 PM

    I read the 2 chapters of K-Connect. [Currently reading 3 & 4 since they are out now] It’s not bad, though I like gender benders/body switching. The manga seems a bit drawn out even for me. I will say that the story seems to have a mysterious twist to it with this mysterious being “Balloon vine” [Translated name meaning] That’s all I can say, a existence that observes. May the fortunes of war be with you.

    EDIT: Finished chap 4. It seems to have some underlying Ghost hound psychological points to it.

    • #11 by avvesione on July 12, 2012 - 6:22 PM

      Interesting, I’m kinda curious what the overall plot of Kokoro Connect will be and what it puts the characters through. The gimmick is fun with the body-switching but there needs to be some substance to it to make the anime worthwhile. Guess we’ll find out soon since it sounds like you found out right away in the manga.

      • #12 by Detetiv on July 13, 2012 - 12:00 AM

        Also you were talkin about the setting being only at school the last chapter has them at someone’s house. I’m leanin that the underlying plot has something to do w “balloon vine” and the fact he said war.

        Here’s a thought to think about when watching
        [taken from manga]

        But… what if that body has it’s personality swapped, and becomes something vague? Can we continue to exist was ourselves?

        [Not sure if that last part meant "as" not "was" but it's translated 2x in 2 pages it appears as "was"]

        Oh also watched the 1st episode of SAO, not bad. Reminds me of Manwa/Mahwa/novel called Half Prince. Just about the same thing sort of. Tryin to start w the manga. loved the little quip between Klein and Kirito when they went their separate ways. That part brought a smile to my face.

        • #13 by avvesione on July 14, 2012 - 1:37 AM

          Well, school/home setting are about the same: it’s still modern, urban Japan with schoolkids in well-to-do(-ish) families. It’s the kinda setting you see in the average anime which is something I’ve grown tired of. The whole body-switch gimmick, though, really is the best part of the setting, so I’ve enjoyed part of it thus far.

          As for the thoughts from the manga, I’ll have more to say when I get there in the anime :X But it sounds like the kinda story I’m interested in.

          And yeah, I’ve heard a lotta people mention Half Prince when talking about SAO. Lemme know how it is in comparison to SAO since I’m a bit interested in both.

  4. #14 by foshizzel on July 12, 2012 - 9:38 PM

    Sword Art Online: Yeah I was wondering how the game creator managed to get away with that! I assume he switched the code for the game at the last moment and ran away? So we can just say he is probably hiding irl somewhere…at least the artwork is amazing to look at and those Working!! Character designs? I just want to see the larger monster battles and of course the main girl to show up. At least the main guy seems able to fight I was happy to find out he participated in the beta so he has a upper hand on a few of the other players, but I guess we will have the usual weak characters in the series.

    Kokoro Connect: I am watching to see the blond girl Yui because of one reason! Hisako Kanemoto voicing that character I really loved her work as Ika Musume and Yayoi from Smile Precure, but yeah the body swap thing is alright I guess and it gives the producers an excuse to give the fans some ecchi themed moments…I need to see some more episodes and figure out why they swap bodies in the first place hahaha

    • #15 by Detetiv on July 12, 2012 - 11:47 PM

      the reason even 4 chapters in is still a mystery. it has something to do w “balloon vine”s fact that he says he’s a existence that observes. There will be some ecchi if you would call it that in the next ep w that classmate per-say.

      • #16 by foshizzel on July 13, 2012 - 3:28 AM

        True! I noticed with that first episode the random girl was all over Iori…so there seems to be a mix of ecchi and possibly yuri themes hahaha

        Yeah I am waiting for episode two!

        • #17 by Detetiv on July 13, 2012 - 5:41 AM

          there will def be yuri for a short while.

          Oh read the light novel & manga for SAO could if needed be extended for a few spin-offs. I mean there’s another 2 online games he’s fightin in. There’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing in this anime that’s all I can say w/o spoiling since I’ve gone past that a while ago. [vol 5] If they start how both reading materials go then you will not see a boss till the 3rd ep & the girl the next ep maybe. I want to see Yui personally.

        • #18 by avvesione on July 14, 2012 - 1:44 AM

          Interesting to hear what you have to say about the light novel and manga. Did you finish both for SAO or are you still in the middle of them? Either way, I’m looking forward to seeing how the anime progresses from here, especially concerning the characters and the fights.

    • #19 by avvesione on July 14, 2012 - 1:43 AM

      Yeah, I can tell how excited you are for Yui with your Yayoi avatar and knowing how much you liked Ika Musume in the past. It’ll be fun seeing her try to do the male character voices when they’re in Yui’s body, a fun challenge for any seiyuu I’d imagine.

      As for the content of Kokoro Connect, I’m a little weary of the story, but I’m excited for all the possibilities they can do with all the body-switching and doing awkward or embarrassing situations with the characters.

      SAO, I didn’t even realize the character design was from Working!! but now that you mention it, it is. It’ll be fun to see the “game” aspect of the anime since everything we saw was set-up for the story and whatnot. The next episode is certain to be better than the first and that’s even ignoring that whole annoying set-up with the developer trapping everyone.

  5. #20 by Dusk on July 18, 2012 - 3:08 AM

    Having read the novels, I can answer a couple of your questions regarding Sword Art Online.

    The company didn’t agree to it. They were once an average game company that rose to one of the most famous when they contracted Kayaba (the Game Master) a few years ago. Ironically, they’re renowned for their quality costumer assistance xD
    Kayaba is a genius on Physics and Maths was the one in charge of and supervising the SAO project. Therefore, he was the last one who “checked” if everything was alright with the game before it was released – that’s when he removed the logout button and inserted the code to tip the complete battery release of the Nerve Gear. He was also the one who single-handedly developed the Nerve Gear, by the way. And people wouldn’t normally think a battery with way more than the necessary capacity would be a brain-fryer device. Personally, I think my reaction to it would be – good more hours of gaming without being connected to power if I so desire.

    As for the players, Kayaba, in his announcement, informed them that the Nerve Gears could only be cut from power during two hours, which should be used to transport the people to a hostpital. I found it a bad idea to skip those lines in the anime, though… Either way, you’ll see that this series is quite realistic when it comes to those matters. (Or not, depending on how they choose to keep adapting this.)

    Kayaba was arrested because… well, he technically has 10000 people hostage, right? Besides that, there are other reasons, but telling them now would be a huge spoiler. As for why he did what he did, have you not at least once had the childish dream of having your own world and ruling over it like a “god”? Kayaba has essentially made it possible for himself, ditching any moral code aside. Well, it’s a questionable reason, but I know of way more bizarre and less understandable ideas humans come up with. One could just say that the guy is a sociopath.

    As you may have already noticed, I truly disagree with you about SAO’s setup, for I think it’s a really good one. I do admit that the anime didn’t make these points clear, and I’m sad one of my favorite series is getting somewhat of a dumbed down adaptation (I’m saying this from episode 2, I actually thought the first one, which was what I discussed in this post, was pretty decent, despite having the slight problem of skipping the most essential lines to the understanding of the setting).

    • #21 by avvesione on July 19, 2012 - 12:34 AM

      Thanks for the detailed comment, glad to get some feedback on the series from someone who has a better perspective on it than I do. I appreciate it.

      I realize the company had no idea that this was about to happen but how did they go about allowing everything to happen? Don’t they own the servers which the games are run on? Don’t they have other people who could rewrite the code or have anyone verify something before it’s implemented? I realize Kayaba could’ve been sneaky about the whole thing but couldn’t someone have noticed the removal of the log out button when the game went live or noticed any suspicious behavior regarding Kayaba? As for the Nerve Gear, I wonder how it passed consumer safety tests. Even though it was not designed to kill people through it’s microwave interface, there should’ve been some concern raised over the possibility of it happening or the lack of a safety feature preventing lethal doses from being administers to people. Something as dangerous as that would’ve been rejected before it even made it to the market and would need a redesigned to include preventive measures installed. Those are the main issues I had with those two points.

      Thanks for the information regarding the transportation to the hospital, I was concerned that the anime would simply ignore the fact that they’re still living in the real world and would require nutrition and perhaps breathing apparatuses to stay alive. Glad you were able to forward that to me.

      The anime hasn’t covered the fact that Kayaba was arrested yet, so that’s also relieving to hear. As for the reasons for doing it, the anime hasn’t covered that either, though the points you raise are some of the most reasonable given what we’ve seen (or what you’ve read).

      And I’m glad you came here and voiced your opinion on something you feel so passionate about; having discussions like this is one of the reasons why I began blogging. That being said, I feel you actually strengthened my stance for the set-up of this anime after giving me this information. The fact that the anime itself left out these vital details gives me a less favorable impression of how it’s handling this adaptation and reinforces the voices I’m hearing about how the LN is superior to the anime. After hearing your explanations on the other key areas, regarding the removal of the power source for transportation and the arrest, I feel better about the LN and the true story of SAO. The same can’t be said for the anime which seems to be fumbling its opportunity here. So while you were able to convince me that the set-up for the LN is decent, I can’t feel the same about the anime since it chose to skip these parts. But it really doesn’t matter all that much since I’ve elected to keep the anime this season, seeing as I enjoyed the second episode much more than the first. I guess at this point it’s all up to our individual preferences but I believe I’ll be happy with this anime despite having some personal faults with it thus far. Hope you enjoy the anime, too!

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