Published on July 11th, 2014 | by Isaac3
Reluctant Anime Reviews: Tenchi Muyo/ Sword Art Online
We here at The Website of DOOM pride ourselves on being at the cutting edge of pop culture. Our staff handpicks and laboriously crafts the quality content that reaches your computer monitor. However, researchers in the lab have found we have a deficiency in anime-focused content. This is mostly because a lot of anime is creepy, and nobody at DOOM wants to go near it. Fortunately, “want” has nothing to do with our new project. We drafted (read: forced) resident hermit, and part-time artist Isaac to watch anime. The programs will be selected at random using a highly sophisticated process, and he will be forced to watch them from beginning to end, no matter how weird they are, how uncomfortable they make him feel, or how likely it is the police will show up at his door. After his viewings, he will provide us with an article reviewing the program he just watched.
RELUCTANT ANIME REVIEWS: TENCHI MUYO
Greetings friends, it’s been a while. I feel like I should apologize for my absence. Sorry.
When last I wrote, I teased about watching and reviewing Tenchi Muyo. I found that difficult to do. It wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t good. It just kind of… existed. Nothing made me angry, or left me so baffled I couldn’t speak. There would be nothing I could say in a review that would be funny or informative. I got about halfway through the original series, and dropped it. So, there’s that.
RELUCTANT ANIME REVIEWS: SWORD ART ONLINE
…In contrast, Sword Art Online DID make me feel things. In fact, it made me feel and think a whole lot of things. Bad things. Angry things. At first, I thought that Sword Art Online meant well, but was just incompetent. However, as the season progressed, I began to see the boils and sores of disgusting anime appear on its underbelly. What started as a dumb adventure turned into something truly terrifying: a dumb harem anime.
Sword Art Online is the story of Kazuto “Kirito” Kirigaya: an avid online gamer who eagerly anticipates the release of the revolutionary Virtual Reality MMO: Sword Art Online. Ever since participating in the beta test, Kirito has looked forward to diving back into the game that enthralled him months ago. However, once he and 10,000 others have logged in, they find they can no longer log out. The creator of Sword Art Online, Akihiko Kayaba, informs the trapped players that they must beat the game in its entirety in order to escape. In addition to that, death in the game means you die in real life. Adventure begins now.
However, for the first seven or so episodes, you would think that isn’t the plot. After the second episode, Sword Art Online barely acknowledges the overall story or conflict. It adopts a “tell, not show” approach to informing the viewer on the progress made to clear the game. Instead, it focuses on several side stories where Kirito helps random strangers. While this gets characters and general mood of the universe established, it just comes across as weird and out of place. Kirito is described as being a fierce fighter on the front lines, but we hardly see him there.
After the 7th episode, Sword Art Online finally gets back on track. Over the course of a few episodes, Kirito forms a friendship with another front line fighter, named Asuna. She is the second in command for one of the strongest guilds in the game, and sees every day spent in Sword Art Online as a day lost in the real world. Kirito slowly teaches her that even though they are in a game, as long as they take the time to enjoy and experience the things around them, the time cannot be lost. Soon, this friendship blossoms into a romance, and becomes the driving force behind the remainder of the plot.
Although, I was surprised with the turn Sword Art Online took around the 14th episode. Something happens to end the game, and Kirito is thrust back into the real world. To begin with, this intrigued me, as they were doing interesting things to illustrate Kirito’s reintegration to society. I was hoping to see a good drama about these characters meeting in real life, and almost having to relearn everything about living outside of fantasy.
But nah, they just go into another game. I won’t go into the reason why in the interest of spoilers, but while it does make some sort of sense in the story, it just comes across as a cheap excuse to add more swordfights. Kirito finds himself playing Alfheim Online, which is a reskinned version of Sword Art Online, but with flying, and no murder. Kirito meets up with a player named Leafa, and the two journey to the center of Alfheim Online: The World Tree. Some dumb stuff happens, more excuses for them to go into more virtual MMOs are created, and the season ends.
One of my biggest gripes with the second half is that is feels so lazy, and lacks any real consequence. Aside from one detail, it’s just a game. Failure and death don’t really mean anything, and it no longer feels like a survival adventure. None of the characters have any weight: it just feels like a time filler, and an excuse to include more boobs into the plot.
Which brings me to my biggest criticism with the second half of Sword Art Online: It gets really creepy. The first red flag popped up when they made a big deal out of Kirito’s sister not actually being his sister, but his cousin. The second rose gradually, as I noticed that there was generally more cleavage and butt close-ups. The final alarm clicked to life when I began to notice that every female character was growing attracted to Kirito, and fighting for his affections. Sword Art Online turned into a harem anime before my very eyes.
The strong character of Asuna transformed into a damsel in distress, and was no longer portrayed as Kirito’s equal and partner. Every female around Kirito became a personality trait with a vagina, and mentions of any other male character dropped to zero.
To add to the general sense of creepy, things get what I can only describe as “rapey.” Asuna basically gets reduced to being a rape target, and that is the primary conflict in the second season. The villain wants to rape her. Technicians in the form of slug beasts want to rape her with tentacles. It’s like the writers thought “Well, they can’t die anymore, so I guess we just need to throw rape in to add danger. Whatever.”
It’s sad to see Sword Art Online lose its path so badly. In the beginning, it was a mediocre story with terrible pacing and dialogue, but there were seeds for something truly interesting. While everything that came out of every characters’ mouth was dumb garbage, the animation portrayed body language perfectly, almost to the point where I thought it would be better as a silent film. The drama was gripping and truly heartbreaking at times, and the romance between Kirito and Asuna was really well done.
It’s like going on a couple of dates: The first was a bit shaky: There were some awkward silences, and some clumsy blunders, but there was still a kind of spark there. The second was a trainwreck: the date pooped their pants and went on a rant about how Hitler was just misunderstood. You got a free steak dinner though, so that’s something.
Apparently the second season of Sword Art Online has started, and this time they go into a gun MMO. I’m not watching it.
Sword Art Online, get out of my office.
To continue my theme of “MMO hijinks,” next time, I will review Log Horizon.