First Impressions: Summer 2014 – Aldnoah Zero, Sword Art Online II and Barakamon
I had been anticipating this since I generally quite like Urobuchi Gen’s stuff, but I’m still impressed with how solid this opening episode was. There is a lot of exposition and plenty of people standing/sitting around talking, but it is interspaced with enough interesting scenes that it doesn’t get monotonous – we need this exposition to get to grips with the world setting. It is of course the standard war set-up with Earth pitted against a vaguely European race of Martian colonists called the Vers Empire, triggered by an incident were our Moon got destroyed in the fight over ancient advanced technology. As such large swathes of the Earth are still recovering disaster zones and military training is normal for high school students – it is an interesting backdrop and there is loads of scope for interesting developments. The attack on the Vers Princess who arrives on Earth as a goodwill ambassador triggers renewed hostilities with the Knights of the Vers Empire launching an all out attack on various points across the world – wiping out entire cites with apparent ease. This is a story being told on a grand scale, I just hope Urobuchi can keep it controlled.
Animation is excellent and I also quite like the soundtrack. The characters haven’t really distinguished themselves quite yet, but I do like the fact that the first episode did not revolve around the seemingly indifferent main character. I’m sure he’ll be important at some stage, but at the moment he’s just an ordinary, if remarkably calm, teenage bystander.
First episode definitely has my interest – looking forward to more!
Sword Art Online II
So curiousity got the better of me and I decided to give the first episode of SAO 2 a look…….and pretty much instantly regretted it. I can say with some confidence that I am supremely happy with my pre-season decision not to watch this sequel, because dear lord was this boring! Seriously this is the first episode of a hotly anticipated second season and you decide to go with endless talking and a truly boring date scene? Can anyone honestly say they enjoyed this episode? It doesn’t really give you anything to get excited about since it is the same set-up as usual – a video game that you can actually get killed in (by DEATH GUN!! lolololol), except this time it is gun themed and has professional players who can earn real money. I don’t know why that matters when we all know Kirito is so damn good at video games that he will instantly become a top level player as soon as he logs in!
But for all the talking about Gun Gale Online (yes that is really its name) the only snippet of actual game-play we see is right at the end and that was mostly concerned with the arse of some random girl…..some things never change. This episode was so boring I honestly can’t even find anything to really get annoyed about, at least the first episode of the original series was pretty fun and knew that the audience is much more interested in action, rather than watching our Gary-Stu protagonist eat cake and talk about the difference between real life Vs virtual worlds with his gamer girlfriend.
Dropped so hard.
There isn’t much to complain about with this series – it is very solid and a pretty good example of its genre, but I still can’t really get too excited about it purely because I have very little love for s’life stories. Here we have a young man struggling with writers block moving to some quaint little village in the boonies and being reminded of the simple joys of life by a little girl. It’s cute, well written and has great acting, and there is really nothing to complain about. I enjoyed the episode and it did get a few giggles out of me, but I personally won’t get much mileage out of the premise – I prefer things like this to be movies or OVAs and rarely last full seasons.
Barakamon is a very good series if this is your kind of thing, it hits all the right notes and is well presented – it’s just not really my thing. Will give it another few episodes to see if it manages to to break out of it’s comfortable pigeon-hole, but not holding my breath.