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First Impressions: Summer 2014 – Aldnoah Zero, Sword Art Online II and Barakamon

July 6, 2014

summerbanOkay time for a bit of a mixed lot – Urobuchi Gen’s latest, yet more SAO and some pleasant s’life – Aldnoah Zero, Sword Art Online II and Barakamon.

Aldnoah Zero

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.

Barakamon

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.

 

11 Comments leave one →
  1. July 6, 2014 3:32 pm

    I haven’t had a chance to watch Aldnoah, yet, but I did watch Barakamon, and enjoyed it. I wasn’t expecting it to look as good as it did. I like seeing all of the brushes and stuff. Art is a subject I really enjoy in anime. Plus I can really relate to the main character. I’ve never punched a boss, but I definitely have quit jobs in a fit of anger. I’ll definitely watch a few more episodes.

    • July 6, 2014 11:05 pm

      I know nothing about calligraphy or art so can’t really get into that aspect of Barakamon – like the way the child feels like a ball of kinetic energy though, and it is really well written. Will watch more, but probably won’t last the whole show.

  2. July 6, 2014 4:26 pm

    We laughed so hard at how the Death Gun has basically the exact same powers as the Death Note.

    • July 6, 2014 11:06 pm

      Death Note was more interesting – no one expects a notebook to be a murder weapon, guns are sort of made for that express purpose.

  3. fathomlessblue permalink
    July 6, 2014 8:44 pm

    Oh come on Cara; be a massive hypocrite like me, & abandon all previous promises of dropping SAO, in favour of terribad live-watching it. Remember how great Guilty Crown was?

    • July 6, 2014 8:49 pm

      The only way I’m watching SAO II is if it is in a big comedy hour style group – although I don’t think SAO is quite the same level of comedy gold Guilty Crown was.

      • fathomlessblue permalink
        July 6, 2014 9:24 pm

        The group for the first ep was pretty big, so here’s hoping it stays consistent.

        • July 6, 2014 11:07 pm

          Didn’t know there was a group watch – I should probably pay more attention.

  4. July 12, 2014 10:49 pm

    I really liked the first episode of Sword Art Online – nice character development for the main lead, a mystery being developed, and good science fiction background introduced.

    Barakamon was technically well done but everyone seemed to be a bit psychotic – the main character with his poor impulse control, and the really annoying cartoonish loli. I guess they’ll serve as mutual prozac for each other over a series of heart-warming encounters. Dropped!

    Aldonoah Zero I was looking forward to and it did intrigue, but the lack of character development and very simplistic mustache-twirling nature of the orbital space knights and “good princess” were disappointing. That said, I’m still interested in seeing where it goes.

    • July 13, 2014 3:22 pm

      Hmmm – I didn’t actually see any of that in the first episode of SAO II. The endless dry dialogue kind of killed it for me.

      Barakamon is exaggerating it’s characters on purpose, otherwise it would just be a really boring look at the daily lives of a bunch of dull people. I think it works pretty well as a comedy, certainly a very solid show.

      Aldnoah will definitely have to work on making the Vers Empire a bit less laughably evil – a more even-handed approach will make it much more interesting. Don’t know if it will deliver on that front though, will have to wait and see.

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  1. Sword Art Online II: Episode 1 — Let’s Metablog This Shit | Standing On My Neck

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