Editorial

Why Toonami needs to bring in episode promos for all their new shows


Toonami is a pretty cool TV block and I dare say that it’s the best block out there. It’s done a really great job of getting its brand out there. When something is on Toonami you know it. The channel has great bumpers, an actual ongoing story with TOM and manages to always have a pretty great lineup. Just having a place for anime to get aired nowadays is really cool since there aren’t many alternatives aside from watching online. At times the channel may make some questionable decisions (Super’s frame rate. There’s a bit of a blame game here with everyone deflecting, but ultimately it seemed to be on the channel not double checking their tapes) (The TV ratings for shows don’t always make sense. I believe channel ratings are up to the discretion of the channel so it could be more of a CN decision, but I imagine Toonami would have some input) but it’s still a top notch block. The channel has been through a lot, but there is one change I’m not too fond of. For a while the block always had 30 second promos for the top shows. Now they’re down to 15 per show and a lot of big titles don’t even get them.

To be fair, Toonami has never made it a practice to give every new show episode promos. I’m assuming this is due to budget concerns and not getting the content quick enough. Even so, I’m here to make the case that all new shows should have consistent episode promos of around 30 seconds. I really don’t think this would have a huge impact on the budget. Editing is no joke, but it’s something that they could certainly have staffers do. One way to get around the time involved would be to make episode promos based on the sub versions. You could just grab the entire thing, but of course this would be more of a last resort. Ideally I’d like to have 30 second dub promos for it the way they used to. For the purposes of this editorial when I say “new” shows I’m talking about anything that is airing on Toonami for the first time. For example something like My Hero Academia which is already available online is still on Toonami for the first time so that should get dub promos. Likewise if Sailor Moon Crystal were to air, I’d want that to get promos as well since it’s on Tooami for the first time. So…why are episode promos important?

1. They are your first glance at a show

Toonami has four kinds of promos. They have the motivational speeches every once in a while, the monthly lineup change promo, episode promos, and new series introduction promos. I’m mainly focusing on the third kind, but the fourth one has some overlap. Every new show does get an intro promo so Toonami does a good job with that. Typically this promo is a minute long and it’s a great way to set up a show for new viewers. To date the best series promo by far was the Sword Art Online Alicization one.

Despite there not being a whole lot of action in the premiere they used amazing editing and a rock solid music choice to get you hyped. I’ve seen that promo at least 50 times since it first aired. It’s just perfect and it’s an example of a show I could see myself checking out without knowing anything else other than the promo. It’s just that good. Episode promos can have the same effect.

Put it this way, the series premiere promo only shows up for 2-3 weeks. After that it’s gone so if you turn on the TV at a random time odds are that most of the shows airing won’t have any promos. That’s where an episode promo comes in. Lets say you turn on the TV and you get the Samurai Jack episode 3 promo below.

You have no idea what this show is, but all you care about is when the episode is going to air. You’ll tune in and now there is a chance that you’ll pick up the show. You’re much more likely to take a chance that way after seeing something rather than blindly tuning in at the time and checking it out. A good episode promo goes a long way to letting you see if you’ll like the show or not. Actual footage goes a long way.

2. They get you hyped for the next episode

An obvious benefit of episode promos is they get you ready for what will come next. Especially as most of the Toonami shows are action ones. A solid promo builds up the hype and anticipation for next week. Lets take this Titan promo for example. We’re finally going to see Eren’s rematch against the titan from episode one. This is an event that viewers looked forward to for several years so just having that scene in the promo really gets you amped up. It’s just not the same with no promo or even with a 15 second one. They’re just way too short for you to do anything with them. We need consistent episode promos and all of the new shows deserve them, not just the top 2-3 each season.

3. A good promo may make you jump on board a show even if the first few episodes didn’t look so good.

This is similar to the first option, but a little different. Lets say you’ve got a show where the beginning looks boring? Say you turned on Dragon Ball Super and you saw the early Beerus stuff. You figure “I’ve already seen this as a movie” so you turn it off and don’t watch again. About a year later you turn on the TV and the following promo shows up. Now you’re thinking “Wait a minute, this looks hype!” and you scramble to watch the next episode. An episode promo like this shows you what you’re missing and may incentivize you to re-start the show. After all, you’re more inclined to do so if you know there is going to be some big payoff like this rather than watching something you’re not a fan of and hoping it’ll get better. A lot of shows have slow beginnings and for some they may never get better while for others they hit that next gear and never look back. Promos are perfect for this.

So, those are 3 reasons why I think Toonami should reconsider their current approach and begin airing 30 second promos for all of their premieres. It would really go a long way towards getting more and more people excited about their current shows. The biggest benefit will be for more casual viewers, but I just love promos even if I’m already watching the shows and am hyped for next week. Promos are just amazing and I’ve always enjoyed watching them a bunch. A good one just goes a really long way and also helps when trying to recommend a show to someone. Well, with or without this change, Toonami has definitely been a great way for us all to experience new titles. Without Toonami I doubt anime would be quite as mainstream as it is today.

Editorial

3 Characters who are stuck in bad titles

I think it’s time we look at a rather tragic situation for a character. One of the saddest things is when you’ve got an amazing character who is stuck in a bad anime, manga, or film. It’s like having a player who is stuck on a bad sports team or a great video game locked behind a console nobody bought. There are likely many times this has happened, but in general there aren’t too many that would immediately come to mind. For the definition of “bad” in this context I’m talking about series that I’ve given a 4 or lower.

1. Gray Fullbuster

Who better to start this off than a character from Fairy Tail? Fairy Tail is one of those series that should have been nothing short of amazing. The art is absolutely top notch and the fights are great. It has some of the most epic scenes out there and the franchise has really done a good job of spreading out over the years with various spinoffs and prequels. Alas, a character cannot hold an entire franchise up on his own. Gray is awesome, but you can’t fully appreciate how many great scenes he has because then you’d have to watch Fairy Tail.

He’s got a very tragic backstory involving an ice demon and has done a great job of trying to get past that. He’s always grown up being a noble main character and is willing to throw his life away multiple times in the series to stop the threat on his own. He’s got an ice spell that sacrifices his life in order to stop an enemy. This attack may have even stopped Zeref if Natsu hadn’t stepped in. Even his comic relief subplot of always losing his shirt may be a subconscious method of trying to remember the good ole days with Lyon and his master.

Gray functions as the rival in Fairy Tail as well as a secondary main character of sorts. He’s managed to keep up with Natsu throughout the series to the point where they are at similar levels of power even by the end. He saved Natsu when up against Mad Geer as well in what was probably his most impressive scene. I would also rank that as one of the all time best “Someone steps in to save the main character” scenes in a series. The one liner about reminding Natsu to keep track of his scarf made the whole thing even more epic.

Aside from being an excellent fighter Gray is also a smart character. He’s the first one to figure out that something is up during Fairy Tail Gaiden’s mystery story with Gajeel and in general he simply doesn’t fall for tricks. He doesn’t have the weakness of being motion sick like the Dragon Slayers and this makes him a well rounded fighter. Even his romance plot is better than 90% of other romance plots. I’m still not a fan of most romance in general and I’ll probably do an editorial someday about what makes for a good romance, but his is actually pretty sound.

In short, Gray’s just an incredible character and it’s a shame that he couldn’t have been in a better series. This guy should be spoken about in the same sentence as Sasuke or Vegeta but he’ll always be relegated to B status at best simply because he’s stuck here. At least he’s a great silver lining for if you ever check out Fairy Tail, but it’s not like I could actually recommend the series just because of Gray.

2. Eren Jeager

Attack on Titan is a very popular series, but one that I ultimately had to give a thumbs down. It goes too far in being ultra violent and making everyone out to be so unlikable and evil that there is nobody to root for by the end. Still, that doesn’t stop one character from making a name for himself and ultimately overcoming all of this. That would be Eren, the main character. He’s an excellent lead who really hits the right balance of being impulsive and calculating. His whole life was turned upside down when his town was attacked by titans and he’s sworn to take revenge against them his whole life. Once he becomes old enough Eren gains the abilities of a Titan Shifter and begins his revenge. He starts out as a pure hearted hero who eventually goes down a gray road to the point where he isn’t much better than some of the villains. Eren’s always been about revenge so it’s not like things have really changed all that much for him, but revenge seems to be his only motivation now.

Part of what makes Eren great is his quick actions. He doesn’t buy into the various justifications that the villains give even when the others characters begin to crack. One good example of this is when the Colossal and Armored Titans begin to explain why they are going around murdering everyone. Eren doesn’t believe a word of it and calls them out for just being mass murderers. Eren says it how it is and doesn’t worry about appearances.

In combat Eren is quick to adapt and learns how to fight the Armored Titan mid-fight. He also did well against the Female Titan. He makes up for his lack of experience with pure fighting technique. He didn’t start out as an ace fighter or anything like that, but didn’t stop until this became the case. That’s why he’s such a great character. We actually see Eren training with the others and his gradual improvement over the series. It’s really something to see how far he has gone from the original days. The character is almost unrecognizable upon first glance, but on closer inspection you can see the same fire in his eyes.

He’s easily the highlight of the series and whenever he appears you know something cool is going to happen. I think part of what makes him work so well is that he actually has the power to back up his plans. He’s not going to just go along with the corrupt government any longer than he has to. Once the time skip happens then all bets are off and we see Eren truly unchained.

3. Kirito

Let’s be honest here, Kirito is one of the main reasons why I made this editorial. He’s one of the greatest characters of all time and yet he is stuck in Sword Art Online. SAO has a cool premise and the first arc of the anime is one of the most complete sagas out there. Alas, after that things went downhill a bit with almost every arc having something wrong with it. Kirito shines as a beacon of hope in even the worst of arcs, but imagine what he could really do in a better series?

Kirito started out as your average teen who just loved video games a lot. Once he gets stuck in the world of Sword Art he does his best to get back while keeping as many people alive as possible. Kirito prefers being a solo act and that’s how he is for the first two arcs of the series. Eventually he becomes more of a team player in Gun Gale and that leads up to Alicization where he has a tremendous amount of character development. In that series he is now portrayed as the mature adult who has been through a thing or two. He teaches Eugeo how to be a good fighter as well as how to be a good person. He instills a lot of great life lessons like fighting for your goal and not letting it turn into hate or a vendetta against the villains.

Kirito is a master swordsman in all combat styles, but he’s also a super genius and picks up on things very quickly. What never wavers is his unshakable confidence. He’ll jump in to help anyone at any time while always keeping a cool head. Kirito is the kind of guy that you always want to have in your corner. He’ll figure out a way to win and if it doesn’t exist yet then he’ll invent a way for it to work. He’s always been a very outside the box kind of fellow at it is. There’s no shortage of amazing Kirito scenes in the Sword Art Online series. You always know that no matter what happens he will be around to help. One such scene is when he takes on an entire platoon by himself. I can’t really picture anyone else in the series being able to do something like that.

Kirito really embodies what it is to be a perfect character. He’s a really nice guy who will always do his best to help his friends get through a tough spot. He’s got an awesome uniform and is always up for a fight. As long as you try your best you should always be able to get through a situation and Kirito shows how dedication really does make a difference.

So, those are 3 characters who are quite awesome, but just so happen to be stuck in titles that will never really be able to hit the big time for me. It’s too bad, but at least those titles do have a cool character to help them. It’s way better to even just have one good character then to be a title with no solid characters to back it up. These 3 are all stars who would be top 5 in any title and that’s definitely an impressive feat.

Editorial

8 necessary traits to being a good Hero?

It’s time to take a look at what it means to be a good main character. There are a lot of qualities that you need to have to be a quality lead and it’s a very broad subject. There’s no way I can tackle literally every part of this equation, but I will at least get to the important parts. A hero stops the villains. That’s the basic definition of it at least, but there’s a whole lot more to it than that. You’ve got to have a strong fortitude, the will to defend others and fighting battles that are not winnable. You gotta protect your family and friends even if it means going against the law. The characters I use as examples below aren’t necessarily great heroes, but they have shown at least that one of the 8 major traits that all big heroes need. So without further adieu lets talk about this.

Disclaimer: The images/gifs below include scenes from Naruto (The flashback saga between the classic series/Shippuden), RWBY (The volume 6 Adam short), Yu Yu Hakusho (The second showdown with Sensui), Sword Art Online (The Sleeping Knights arc), Super Smash Bros Brawl (Final cutscene), Fairy Tail (The Sabretooth arc), Seraph of the End (The first meetup with the leads), Bleach (Soul Society climax), My Hero Academy (The introduction to the Mafia arc), and Dragon Ball Z (The Buu Arc). So if you haven’t read/watched those series and are concerned for spoilers then you may want to look away. Mainly the scenes here are bits without context and I wouldn’t consider them all that spoilery, but I know what a spoiler is depends on the individual. Some prefer to be 100% surprised so even seeing 2 characters together is a bit of a spoiler since now you know that they cross paths. For others it has to be something bigger, but nonetheless you at least know the various series involved now.

1 A Hero can’t be bound to the law.

You can’t always follow the protocols. Follow your heart, not the law. Of course this is in the context that the heroes will still follow the just ones of course. You have to keep in mind that half of the time the villains are the ones running these worlds. If you blindly follow the laws then you’ll end up allowing villains to get away with everything. If you’re a hero who is a part of a larger organization then you have to watch out as the group will often try to stifle you. They need to wait for proof and such, which as an organizational policy isn’t necessarily a bad thing. However, this means that innocents will still be suffering during the wait. That’s when a real hero steps up.

A good example of a hero moving in on his own is Natsu from Fairy Tail. Here’s the context behind the clip here. There’s a guild known as Sabertooth which is a group that carries out missions. The group has a very strict policy where if you lose you’re publicly shamed and then thrown out of the guild. Natsu finds out about this and decides to break in and take out the leader. Attacking another guild isn’t something you’re supposed to do and especially attacking on your own is typically a suicide mission. The Fairy Tail group is a lot more reasonable than other guilds so I actually think they may have supported Natsu here, but at the same time I’m glad Natsu didn’t wait to go check with everyone. He went right to the group and if he wasn’t interrupted I really think he would have taken down the whole group there. Natsu wasn’t playing around.

2. Heroes can’t worry about villainous mind games.

There are a lot of villains who start talking about their grand ambitions, how they’re actually the good guys and all of that nonsense. It tends to work on some characters who start weakening in their resolve against the villains. Some heroes go all the way in turning to the dark side while others simply become paralyzed with fear. True heroes really don’t care though and that’s part of what makes them a good hero. A good hero doesn’t need to worry about if what they’re doing is the best course of action or not. They’ve already thought through their plan earlier so at this point they just need to go in and get stuff done. In Yu Yu Hakusho a big part of the Sensui arc was the villain trying to convince the heroes that humans are even worse than demons. It works on some of the characters, but Yusuke never buys into this from the start. It’s not that he’s disregarding Sensui’s points, but at the end of the day the villain’s trying to destroy the planet so no justification will save him from Yusuke’s beat down. A hero can’t waver in their convictions.

3. Heroes save their family and friends no matter what


This one seems to be really hard for a lot of heroes. They become bound by their own feelings and the law rather than standing by their allies. Kakashi’s line in the image shown above perfectly describes the true heroes from the ones who neglect their title. Time and time again we see a hero get framed and his or her supposed best friends and comrades are quick to turn. One of the worst examples of this was in the 6th Naruto movie where almost the whole leaf village decided to take him down as well as allowing Kakashi to sacrifice himself. None of those are real heroes. Even if nobody else believes in your friends you’ve got to save them. Even if it’s against the law or you’re outnumbered you’ve gotta at least try to save those closest to you. Mikaela’s whole character is built around how he’s sworn to always protect Yu. It hasn’t been easy, but in the clip below he finally locates him and gains a surge of strength to save him. Not everyone here may be enemies, but they’re all pawns so Mikaela has to save Yu on his own.

4. Heroes don’t back down


This is a big one because depending on the circumstances it’s easy to lose all respect for a character. An infamous example of this is Deku from one of the latest arcs as he allows a girl to be kidnapped and tortured in part because he was scared of the villain, but also because he was told to let it happen. That’s falling for 2 taboos in a row there. It’s very hard if not impossible to ever recover from that. As a hero you can’t back down. If something bad is happening in front of you then you’ve got to act. This includes a scenario where you don’t have a chance of winning and have to try anyway. Even if you lose at least you’ll have bought some time or at least weakened the villain. Even if you’ll ultimately be defeated without dealing damage, it’s better to stand and fight than flee. The villains win automatically when you don’t even try. Kirito is one of those fighters who is always quick to jump into a fight even if it may not be a winnable one. He certainly won’t back down and in this clip Asuna and the others showed similar resolve. You’ve just got to stand your ground.

5. Heroes don’t make sacrifices

One of the worst things a hero can do is allow someone to be sacrificed. I don’t care if it’s the other character’s plan, if the character begs the hero to let him die, etc. If the hero allows this then that’s a problem. There’s always another way and in the cases where there isn’t, well I guess everyone’s gonna have to die then. Better to go down as a team than to let someone make the sacrifice. Endgame did a good job with that with the Black Widow and Hawkeye dynamic since both of them did their best to stop the other. You have to do everything you can to stop the other person even if it means taking the plunge yourself. I’m not against the hero doing a self sacrifice move, but you can’t let anyone else do it. The point of being a hero is taking the shots so someone else doesn’t have to. Is it selfish? Yes, but sometimes being a hero is about being selfish. That may be a topic for another day. Here Ichigo just prevented Rukia from dying even though at this point she didn’t want to get anyone in trouble. He just decided to save her anyway and that’s always the right call.

6. Heroes act rather than wait

This is a big one. You can have the loftiest ideals in the world, but if you’re not acting upon them then you’re doing more harm than good. I’ve seen a lot of villains created in part because the heroes are ineffective. Take a look at this clip. The White Fang is at this moment a fairly peaceful group, but they are being stopped by bandits (or countrymen as the world of Remnant definitely did not like the Faunus) and the leader just halfheartedly tells them to stop. Of course they continue to shoot because it’s a very passive attempt at best. You have to actually stop them. In this case, Adam was right to neutralize the bunch. He didn’t murder any until the end, but he made sure that they wouldn’t hurt anyone else. Now, for the last person? I don’t see anything wrong in that instance as he had to make a snap decision to save his comrades. Could he have just sliced the gun? Sure, but that’s way easier said than done and he only had an instant. Again, a hero can’t hesitate as more lives would be lost. You just have to act and live with the consequences there.

7. Heroes can’t be pawns

There’s a little overlap here with the bullet about not always following the law. Sometimes heroes allow themselves to be pawns by either acting in a situation where they’re just going off of someone’s word or they’re doing something they know is wrong because their boss told them to do so. One instance of this was when Captain Adam chose to help Cadmus rather than the League. He stood by as they tortured a League member and were planning to murder several others. You just can’t call yourself a hero at that point. At least if you don’t realize that you’re a pawn you can use that as a defense but if you willingly jump into the role then it’s all over. Vegeta allowed himself to be mind controlled in order to access his next form and fight Goku, but he never let Babidi give him any real orders. At the end of the day Vegeta still does whatever he wants and that’s exactly the kind of hero you want. If the orders you’re given don’t make sense then you shouldn’t follow them.

8. Heroes inspire confidence

This last one is a bit obvious, but worth mentioning. A Hero should inspire confidence. His or her mere presence should turn a situation around and bring some hope into a situation that was filled with despair. Originally I chose a Justice League clip with Superman here, but the gif website was having some issues and I couldn’t load the video so I quickly had to go with another option. Sonic’s another hero who inspires confidence and the scene of him saving everyone in Super Smash Bros Brawl was perfect. Not only did it finally solidify him as the strongest character in the game, but it was just the perfect entrance. Sonic’s appearance automatically changes the whole situation and a good hero should have that kind of impact. A hero doesn’t have to be massively powerful like Sonic or Superman, but a hero should have enough experience and tools in his kit to always be able to give the good guys some valuable help. If a hero shows up and everyone stays gloomy or throws some insults around then you’ve done something wrong.

So, these are my 8 bullet points on what makes a good hero. There are more things of course, but I feel like these are the main 8 without starting to repeat myself. Eventually a lot of the other points would overlap. Look, if you’ve got a brave hero who fights to save everyone then that’s a great character. A hero should always strive to save everyone even if it isn’t practical. The more cynical heroes who think you have to let everyone die are the ones who are really missing out on the big picture here. At that point you may be doing the right thing, but you don’t have the right hero mentality. So, what kind of hero do you get when you merge all of these aspects? Well, you get one of the ultimate anime characters of legend, a hero through and through.

Game Records

Sword Art Online Integral Factor Stats and Records

Stats time! Even from these stats you can see that I didn’t play the game a whole lot. Still, 8 quests isn’t half bad, it’s just that they were all the same quest essentially. At most maybe this will be good for the monthly mobile updates if I can manage to do something here within a month.

Level 10
Skills 7
Completed Quests 8

6 Star Games, App Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Sword Art Online: Integral Factor Review


Sword Art Online has always been known for having video games where the plot seems like a bit of a backdrop. Sometimes nothing actually happens until the very end as the characters just hang out and have a lot of fun. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and I have enjoyed the last SAO games to an extent. At the very least the gameplay is always a lot of fun. However, that’s the catch. If the plot isn’t too engaging then you need the gameplay to be top notch and I’m afraid that this one just didn’t quite make it that far. Part of me feels like I needed to give it more of a chance, but considering how long I’ve had the game I think it is just that the gameplay didn’t pop out enough. It could have done better.

The premise of the game is what if Arc 1 happened, but you were around to save everybody. While Kirito is usually known as the hero of this world, what if you were the one actually responsible for saving it? You play as a bland character with no real name who shows up one day. Naturally there is a new heroine as well and since she isn’t used to fighting games like this one she is counting on you to lead the way. So far…that’s really all that’s happened. I made it up to somewhere around the halfway point of episode 1, but the game refuses to progress. The task master keeps sending you into the forests to grab a bunch of plants and potions over and over again. Rather than sending you to get all of them at once he is doing it one at a time. By the 10th trip back and forth you will be wondering what the point of all this was. I just want to go ahead and fight the boss. The current mission I’m on is to grab more plants.

I’m fine with a slow boiling plot but the missions should at least feel slightly relevant. These just don’t make any sense and usually a mobile game should try to suck you in at first. You need to start off with some big events and then tone it down and throw in the filler missions to buy time. This game just didn’t have the balance right and the story is the main reason why I finished so quickly. It just wasn’t even trying.

Then we have the gameplay which fortunately was on point. This part is actually the most impressive bit. The screen adds a little control pad onto it that is actually interactive. Meaning that for once you can actually move around and fight in 3D. The gameplay is the same as your average beat em up which is something that I didn’t really expect to see on the mobile side of things. It’s pretty impressive and that’s the highlight of the game. In terms of pure gameplay it is probably the best mobile game to date. It helps take away the repetitious nature of the game a bit. I have heard that the gameplay gets repetitive though and since there are only 1-2 attacks I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. Still, at the moment it hadn’t had that affect.

The animation looks really stunning for the main menu, but in game it’s a little less impressive. I’ve heard that the game also diverges a little further from the actual arc as characters like Leafa show up. Essentially think of this as an alternate version of the arc where all of Kirito’s friends from the future also got to appear. That should make clearing the game a whole lot easier right? Unfortunately the game doesn’t really have a soundtrack. Just another element that hurts this game quite a bit.

As with Dragon Ball Legends there are a lot of features here that I don’t really understand but the game doesn’t even try to spell them out for you. It’s like a big mystery, but one that the game doesn’t want to help you out with. I didn’t really try to get into all of that stuff. I figure that I’ll still be strong enough to beat whatever bosses go my way right? The Story Mode is really the only mode to play here, but you can choose to fight the levels with online players helping you out or doing it offline. I’ve heard tat it gets near impossible to do it all solo by the end so we’ll see if that’s true. (If I ever go back)

The campaign seems like it’s quite long and the game has a ton of replay value so you don’t have to worry about a lack of content here. Really, the only issue is whether the game will hold your attention long enough for it to matter. See, mobile games are good for short sessions on the go or when you don’t have time for a normal game. Online Mobile games already destroy the first part and if they are too intricate with long levels than it beats the second one as well. This game is unfortunately in both categories as I believe even when playing solo you need an internet connection. There’s also not much that you can do in a short play through. This game would have ironically been a lot better as a full fledged SAO game. Not to mention that the plot would be perfect for it as well.

Overall, I do applaud how ambitious the game is when it comes to the gameplay. The way it is set up this game could last for quite a while. Still, it just isn’t interesting enough to play when there are so many other options on the field. Perhaps that will change and I still have it downloaded so perhaps I will check it out at some point when I have less games to juggle, but that will be a long ways away. If this sounds like it’s up your ally then check it out, but my recommendation isn’t quite as confident as for most of the other games. This one just isn’t on quite the same level.

Overall 6/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Sword Art Online: Mother’s Rosario Review


Time to look at another Sword Art Online manga. The last one didn’t go very well so of course you may be a little skeptical about this one. Fortunately this is adapting one of the better arcs of the series and the manga didn’t try to add any iffy scenes to mess with it. It’s a solid arc but also one of the more somber ones so prepare yourself for an SAO story like no other.

The series starts with Kirito and the crew hanging out at his (and Asuna’s) cabin. Kirito fell asleep of course and everyone else starts feeling sleepy as well. To stay awake, Lizbeth tells Asuna about a new swordsman who has been destroying opponents left and right. He goes by the name “Absolute Sword” and seems to be the strongest fighter ever. Even Kirito was (yeah right) soundly defeated by him. Asuna decides that she wants a crack at this fighter and heads over to fight him. The big twist is that Absolute Sword is a girl with the same first name as Asuna’s last name. Asuna puts up a good fight so Yuuki asks for her help in defeating a boss with Yuuki’s crew. Asuna is thrilled at the opportunity but will she be strong enough?

Meanwhile Asuna has human world troubles as well. Her Mother wants her to go to a different school since the current one is rather lackluster. Asuna doesn’t want this because she has already decided to support Kirito in her future path. Naturally this is very upsetting for the Mother since that doesn’t really even count as a career path. Asuna’s video game hobby has also started to turn into an obsession as she loses track of the time and starts to prefer being there than in the real world. Asuna’s Mom has to put an end to this, but how?

I already went into this for the anime version but I’ll quickly touch on the plot here as well. Asuna’s Mom is absolutely right here. The only chink in her argument of always looking out for Asuna is that she has set her up with potential marriage options one or two times. This seemingly goes against the rest of her message about being independent. Still, she has no problem with dropping that tactic when Asuna brings it up and I’m inclined to believe that Asuna had never expressed her disapproval for it before. Asuna seems like someone who won’t mention any objections to something in the moment and will just use it as ammo in the future which is definitely no good. Beyond that, Asuna is the one who is losing every argument. She could have brought up valid reasons for wanting to stay at a sub standard school but I wouldn’t say that hanging out with friends is one of them. The Mom was also willing to let her keep using the NerveGear but then Asuna started getting increasingly irresponsible with it so of course the Mom wouldn’t be a fan. So in the end, Asuna’s plot is definitely not as engaging as the Yuuki one.

As for Yuuki, she’s a fun character to add to the mix. It is good to finally have another high level fighter who can battle at Kirito’s level. At this point there really aren’t any heroes who can give him a good fight. At best Asuna can maybe be good for sparring practice, but with Yuuki Kirito can’t afford to hold back. Wanting to win one last big battle before going away is definitely a solid goal and one that I can get behind. The rest of her crew are fairly generic and not very memorable so I can’t say quite as much in their favor, but ultimately Yuuki is the only one who matters. They are just there to fill in the ranks. It’s a shame Yuuki doesn’t stick around since she would really give the main cast a boost.

Kirito mostly gets the shaft in this trilogy since it is all about Asuna and her development, but he still gets his share of hype moments. One such scene is when he rushes into the boss area and holds off hundreds of other players on his own. It’s an amazing scene that was extremely intense in all 3 mediums. (Book, Anime, Manga) It may not be Kirito’s adventure, but at the same time I am not surprised that he got the best scene in the adventure. His fight against Yuuki was a lot of fun as well of course and the series did a good job of playing up how smart Kirito was as well. He figured out Yuuki’s secret immediately and then even found out where she was in the real world all in a very short amount of time. It is almost scary just how good he is.

As for Asuna, she is fairly good here. I never disliked Asuna before this as she was solid in Arc 1, didn’t do much in arcs 2-3, so she was about the same now as she was in the past. She had lost some confidence as you might expect thanks to recent events, but regains it by the end of this adventure. She is still a strong fighter and I have to agree with the peanut gallery that it was odd how Asuna went for a mage role instead of a front line fighter. It seems like she enjoys the latter a whole lot more. Yuuki gave Asuna a valuable lesson on how being polite and talking things out won’t always work so sometimes you have to just jump in and start fighting. The sky’s the limit from there.

The art looks fairly good here. It’s the character designs that are a little off. In particular Kirito and Asuna look a little chibi or maybe just younger than usual. Aside from that, the artist does a good job with the fight scenes and it doesn’t look like a cash in. The trilogy has quite a few different fights and they are all visually engaging. Unfortunately while the trilogy does manage to stick away from fanservice, we do get one such bath scene as even on its best day it appears that the series can’t play it straight here.

There’s not a whole lot to say here since this is basically identical to the anime version so in a sense I already reviewed this saga. As long as the medium did it justice then there is no reason why it would be weaker than the anime version. If anything the pacing is better here since you can read faster than characters can talk so the exposition goes by at a nice pace. We already understand that Yuuki’s situation is rather tragic so you don’t need to know a whole lot about it beyond that. It will be nice to see Asuna use the new combo that Yuuki gave her in one of the anime seasons someday. We have the movie, but that wasn’t exactly a one on one fight and I’d like to see it in more of a traditional combat setting.

Overall, Mother’s Rosario is definitely the most serious of the SAO arcs. It’s certainly pretty sad to have a character who is doomed to die from the start since there’s no way that could end up being a happy ending. At least the series never tries to give you any false hope that she might survive as that would have made everything turn out badly. As it stands, Yuuki’s backstory is definitely very tragic but at least the trilogy handles it well. The series is actually light hearted for about 80% of the chapters and Yuuki isn’t too mopey about her future either. She takes it all in stride. I’d recommend checking out this manga, especially if you usually don’t like the series since this one takes it in a very different direction.

Overall 7/10

Game Records

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Stats and Records

Stats time!

Play Time 21h 48m
PS4 Trophies 18/47
Bounty Earned 732,850
Sub Quests Complete 2
Hunting Quests Complete 0
Unique Enemy Quests Complete 0
Treasure Quests Complete 0
Unique Attack Medals 4/6
Unique Support Medals 5/5
Unique Weapon Medals 16/27
Attack Medals 83
Support Medals 3455
Weapon Medals 332

Terry Stats

Strength 50
Vitality 44
Intelligence 12
Agility 56
Dexterity 27
Luck 32

Terry Weapon Proficiency

Handgun 145/1000
Shotgun 0/1000
Submachine Guns 18/1000
Assault Rifles 296/1000
Sniper Rifles 0/1000
Gatling Guns 1/1000
Launchers 0/1000
Swords 16/1000
Guns & Swords 0/1000

Character Levels

Terret 51
Terry 51
Kureha 51
Zeliska 56
Itsuki 63
Bazalt Joe 56
Kirito 58
Asuna 53
Sinon 58
Leafa 52
Lisbeth 51
Silica 51
Yuuki 52
Argo 51
Agil 52
Klein 52
Premiere 51
Strea 51
Philia 51
Rain 51

8 Star Games, Game Reviews, Games, Reviews

Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet Review


It’s time to look at the new Sword Art Online game that recently came out. Fatal Bullet was definitely a game that I was looking forward to from day 1 since it promised to be a title full of action and excitement. Sword Art Online has always been a franchise with a ton of raw potential as it could churn out a 9 star product no problem as long as it played its cards right. Lost Song had been a little disappointing as the hype of the gameplay was reduced by some questionable moments in the game. Fortunately, Fatal Bullet plays it straight as all of those iffy moments (If they exist in this game) are relegated to side quests so you don’t actually have to see any of them. The lower budget may have also helped since the game was forced to stay on target. Anyway, Fatal Bullet actually ended up being a great game.

The story follows a new kid on the block named Terry. He’s always wanted to play a VRMMO game so why not head to Gun Gale Online right? His childhood friend Kureha promises to show him the ropes. However, on their first mission Terry manages to obtain the treasure which is a legendary A.I. robot named Terret. Kureha is mad about this since she wanted to be its partner but Terry made eye contact first so now there is no way to split the partnership up. Iconic players Kirito and Asuna are also upset since they were hoping to clear the quest but too late for that now. Terry quickly catches the eye of top players Zeliska and Itsuki and before long he is known as one of the best in the whole game..maybe even The Best. Kureha is jealous of this and tries to undermine Terry throughout the game while everyone else follows his lead. Terry aims to clear the ultimate once in a life time event quest that has just opened and it will also allow Terret to be reunited with her Mom. They’ll have to be careful though since a guy known as Death Gun is skulking in the shadows as well. Taking him down a few pegs will not be easy!

It’s always an interesting game decision to have the main character be an OC instead of the actual main character of the series. I’m fine with it once I start playing since Terry is just generally hardcore, but otherwise I probably prefer when they just stick to the normal lead. Terry is a cool character throughout though as he makes the heroic decisions when needed. He can be a little slow on the uptake though like when he somehow forgot that Itsuki was basically threatening him for a while there. I guess it’s because he’s portrayed as a big optimist so he always takes things in a positive way. That’s good for Terry I suppose. His main gimmick in this game is that he has a grapple hook which you can use to get to higher areas. I like the concept, but the execution was admittedly not on point. You’ll find that you never really use this gadget in the game because the range is rather short. It should have been longer if you ask me as then it would be fun to zip around the place. I’m sure that it’s fun for PVP though.

Unlike most SAO games, this one is a third person shooter. You can also use a sword to go up and personal but it’s almost always one of the worst options. It’s just a lot more practical to have a gun as the damage it deals is around the same as a sword but you can also be dodging gunfire while using it. A sword is a high commitment option that will usually just get you punished right away. I personally stuck with a hand gun and an automatic gun. Those two were the perfect combo, but I dabbled around with missile launchers, machine guns, and even a sword for a while. They all naturally have their uses, but Hand Guns just seem like the best bang for your buck.

Most of the game consists of you going to various dungeons across the world. You beat all of the enemies in a room and then move on to the next one. The gameplay is handled flawlessly as you can quickly run out of the room to regroup if necessary or plunge into battle. You can give your partners general instructions so they know what to do during battle as well and you can change their instructions while fighting so you don’t have to worry about getting hit. Also, there is no pausing in the game which makes it even more interactive. I mean, you can press the pause button of course, but time goes on normally so whatever you have to do, it can wait until you hide behind the debris. While the A.I. of your allies is pretty bad (probably intentional) the villains are quite smart. They will lead you into ambushes, call for reinforcements, or just generally fight in a tactical way against you.

I can’t stress enough that this game really understands how to be a good third person shooter. The levels are huge and you can move quickly which makes the gameplay feel a lot more dynamic. If there are any problems with the gameplay, it’s just that the bosses may have a little too much health. One boss fight took me almost an hour to complete and the rest were all fairly long as well. The guns just aren’t too strong. It’s a tough balance of course since the game doesn’t want you to mow through the enemies either, but taking a little health out of the equation would have been nice. Beyond that, the difficulty is high but fair.

This is probably one of the hardest games that I’ve played in a very long time. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat as one wrong move can set you back quite a few rooms where the enemies will respawn again. The checkpoints are close enough where this isn’t too bad of course, but it does make you want to focus on playing your cards right. Get too aggressive and you’ll be gunned down by the snipers. There’s also a nice mechanic that lets you grow into a true player. You have an assist option with your gun that will help you hit a target but it is at the cost of accuracy. This may sound contradictory, but basically it widens your gun range by about 50x, but you’ll end up missing a great deal of shots and you also won’t hit the weak point. You can zoom in to take your own shots, but then you can’t move too quickly. If you take the assist off you can control where you shoot at normal speeds, but naturally this is very difficult. I usually just kept the assist on and used the zoom feature for when I was fighting bosses and needed to hit the weak spot. This game forces you to make a lot of tough choices throughout the game.

One big example of this is how the level up system works. As you level up you are given points which you can put into whichever attribute you want. Strength, Vitality, Intelligence, etc. Once you put the points in you can’t take them out without going through some elaborate hoops to get a specific item. I ended up putting the bulk of my points into Strength and Agility if I recall correctly. You need to strength to hold the better guns and Agility is just awesome for many reasons. One of which is that you can eventually outrun laser beams which is incredibly handy. It’s very close, but my speed was slightly faster than the blasts by the end which helped a lot. I also dumped a lot of points into luck which I would probably take back if I had a second chance, but it sounded good at the time. It increases your chances of landing a critical hit.

The story does take a long while to get started which isn’t good news for fans who are coming in expecting a game with stakes. This isn’t the game for you then. Out of the roughly 18 hours of the game, the first 15 are just the characters having fun and messing around. They’re just enjoying the game and trying to level up. The whole Death Gun story only takes about an hour and the climax will probably be another hour or maybe a little longer. This is really just a slice of life game with a big climax at the end which isn’t unheard of. Many games take a similar approach like Kirby games to an extent and the payoff works so it’s a decent strategy. I’ll be honest and say that it would have been nice if the whole game was epic as opposed to just the ending, but I guess this franchise just likes its day to day adventures a lot.

There isn’t much to say about all of the returning characters like Kirito and friends since they are epic as always so lets just talk about the new ones. I already talked about Terry and why he is a quality character. Zeliska is a top player who prefers to play solo, but doesn’t mind being in a team with Terry and the others. She is always very polite and courteous to everyone as even though she is a top player she never let it get to her head. Zeliska is portrayed as basically being a perfect character and it works well. How I see it, you don’t need to have a flaw to be a quality character and Zeliska definitely plays a pretty important role in the game. You will see her plot twist coming a mile away though.

Itsuki is the other top player and he is portrayed as the complete opposite of Zeliska. He doesn’t play well with others and is always being sarcastic. He’s quick to put others down and it becomes apparent that Terry is the only person he cares about. He’s rather dismissive of everyone else. He’s always lying and joking around throughout the game as well so it’s hard to know what he is thinking. He’s very suspicious throughout the game and a potential sequel or post game DLC should definitely not try to redeem him. He’s too far gone at this point and Terry needs to make it his mission to take him down. Terry almost seemed sympathetic at the end, but I think that would definitely be a mistake and would end up hurting his character.

There is also Bazalt Joe who is another top player who always tries to steal Terret away from you. He quickly learns that this will never work out but you get to beat him up 3 times before that. He never really becomes likable or fun at all so this is one new character that I definitely could have done without. He didn’t actually add anything to the game if you ask me.

Then of course we have the childhood friend Kureha. Unfortunately she starts out as a decent character and then turns into a pretty terrible one. She is always trying to undercut Terry throughout and never learns her lesson. Even by the end of the game she is still holding a grudge and basically pays a high price for it. During the climax of the game you are given an option on which character you are going to make it your priority to protect during the final battle. Depending on who you choose is who you will die. In one version naturally this is Kureha. I just couldn’t sympathize with her by the end of the game because she was just such a poor sport the whole time. She really didn’t even try to support Terry.

The graphics are also pretty solid as you’d expect. The energy effects are nice and the character designs are on point. Here’s where we transition to a bit of a negative though. The game just feels like it’s relatively low budget though and the story was slapped together. A lot of fights are off screen and scenes will cut and restart rather awkwardly. There aren’t too many cutscenes considering how long the game is and most of the still images from Lost Song seem to be gone as well. While the graphics are good, they aren’t quite as amazing as you’d expect and don’t seem to have really changed at all since Lost Song. There just wasn’t a lot of innovation here. It’s not as extreme as Sonic Forces where the story was really sabotaged but I would have appreciated more actual cutscenes or more vibrant animation. This was supposed to be the next big SAO game after all. Personally, I’m guessing that they just used most of the budget on the gameplay at the expense of everything else.

The soundtrack is pretty solid if a bit limited. There only seem to be a handful of themes in the game so you better get used to hearing them quite a bit. I do like the danger theme and the main menu song. The rest are rather generic, but I suppose they get the job done. They never actually got annoying so I’ll give the game some credit there. A nice insert song would have been cool though. Of course, the game had an opening movie song like Lost Song. It wasn’t quite as good as that one, but was still really solid.

The main story is around 15-18 hours long which is pretty decent. If you stick around to get bonds with all of the characters and try for the Platinum then it should be well over 60 hours with the estimate being around 90. I don’t have that much time to drop on most games so I won’t be aiming for it, but at least the Platinum seems mostly reasonable. The only one that sounds like an insane grind is beating the game on Super Hard difficulty, but hopefully they let you just go to the final boss and then change the difficulty or something. Considering how much there is to do in the game it’s certainly worth spending 60 bucks. I won’t stay and explain all of the different features here, but trust me when I say that the game has a ton of depth. There are many skills to learn, weapon styles to master, and a whole lot to consider while playing in general. My advice is to save your money and SP until later in the game when you are a little more sure of what it is that you want. Until then just enjoy the game and try to get to the end.

Overall, Fatal Bullet is a blast to play. The gameplay is absolutely excellent and while the game may falter on a technical level at times it still holds up well against many others. The story can be a little slow, but it picks up by the end. At this point, SAO isn’t really known for its epic video game stories and you are just playing to see the characters again and enjoy the gameplay. There is a lot to do here so that’ll give you a lot of time with them. I’d definitely recommend checking this game out. It’s a game that you won’t want to miss! Since the game ends with a cliffhanger we definitely need a sequel where Terry settles the score. This could end up being a bit of a revenge run so the game might be a bit darker. (Of course, I haven’t seen the true ending yet so depending on how that plays out Terry may not be too upset)

Overall 8/10

Manga, Manga Reviews, Reviews

Sword Art Online Calibur Review


As I am currently playing through the Sword Art Online Fatal Bullet game, I figured that I should finally go and wrap up one of the spin-off manga titles. This one shot is based on the mini Asgard arc and has always been known as a relatively weak story. Unfortunately the manga makes it even worse by adding in a ton of fan service so you can probably already tell how this review is going to end.

The manga starts off with Suguha letting Kirito know that some players have finally found out the location of the hidden sword Excalibur. The heroes had found it about a year earlier but because they were so slow the rest of the world caught up. Kirito has to form a group of 7 people in order to conquer this quest but it may prove more dangerous than expected. If the heroes don’t complete the mission quickly than the whole virtual game will turn from a happy fairy based one into an apocalyptic ice land. Fortunately Kirito is up to the task.

This is Sword Art Online so I should probably bring up the unfortunate fan service right away since we all know that it’s coming. The manga sets the tone for how this is going to play out right from the beginning as the very first panel on the first page is a fan service shot. The author even mentions at the end that he added more than usual. It is constant enough during the volume where it probably happens every chapter. Some of the scenes are totally made up for the manga and really don’t help the overall case. It really limits what the rest of the manga can hope to accomplish.

At least the general art looks pretty good. The characters are very detailed and this translates well into the fight scenes. The quality here is high so it’s too bad that this artist couldn’t have picked a better arc than this one. Of course, this manga also has to have a quick flashback to a certain scene in arc 2 just to fit that extra bit of fan service in. So, very solid art but it’s used for scenes that really don’t help the overall manga.

Fortunately Kirito is a pretty solid main character as per usual. He comes up with the plan to save the day and even uses a new skill that is game breaking. He is always surpassing his limits so it should really come as no surprise. Even when everyone tries to mess with Kirito like putting him on the spot by asking if he would pay for the meal, Kirito takes it in stride. He was happy to pay and comes across as a solid team player.

Klein unfortunately looks about as bad as ever. He is still a very desperate character who will try to ask out a computer program and he is also super weak. The guy doesn’t even work well as a comic relief character but he does help to make Kirito look even better. That always seems like the real reason Kirito keeps him around. Klein just can’t go one page without humiliating himself.

Sinon gets the biggest role from all of the heroines. Unfortunately the author uses it for the wrong reasons at times but at least her fight scenes are solid. Since her bow and arrow skills are double that of the usual max, her weapon is actually pretty overpowered. Her reaction times are likely second only to Kirito’s here so that is very useful as well. Considering that she has apparently had the account for a day (if I recall correctly) Sinon must have trained a great deal.

Leafa is around just to feel bad for the creatures getting destroyed by the other players but doesn’t do much beyond that. If anything she can be a little on the annoying side since she knows about the Asgard myths but conveniently forgets about them until right after the fight. Asuna, Lizbeth, and Silica don’t actually get to do anything. They are basically just here to fill up the party.

Then we have the main villain who is certainly a terrible character. He’s a very sketchy villain whose goals are terrible and so there is absolutely nothing to root for in his character. There is also the prisoner who has a big plot twist which does not help her character. That’s because her actions up until the plot twist are extremely manipulative and she was basically using the heroes. Certainly not a very nice thing to do if you ask me. Not that it would have been much better without the twist but the character was having too much fun with her role. The plot twist is pretty obvious but the manga does a good job with it since the characters are self aware about it. They all know the twist but decide to play along anyway. Even then they only play along because Klein essentially forced them into doing so.

I think the only positive change that the manga did was give Sinon an extended fight. At the very least I don’t recall that happening in the show. It’s not much, but it shows that the manga did something right. With the artist’s skills he/she should still do well in a future SAO manga provided they focus on fight scenes and not adding anything else that would be tragic for the manga’s score.

Overall, This was definitely not a good SAO volume and it doesn’t do this wounded franchise any wonders. It just continues to make the same mistakes that the franchise has always made. It had great fight scenes, but is bogged down by all of the fanservice. I’d recommend just sticking to the original Sword Art Online manga instead of checking this one out. You’ll thank me for it someday.

Overall 4/10

Animated Movie Reviews, Animated Movies, Reviews

Sword Art Online Ordinal Scale Review


March has been off to a pretty intense start. Between my birthday and the release of Legend of Zelda Breath and the Wild, things were already going well. This got even better when I won free tickets to the big U.S. premiere of Ordinal Scale. Special Shoutout to Anime Girls NYC for letting me know about the contest in the first place. Winning it was pretty hype although it was still a tough call because it was on at the same time as a class I was supposed to be at. I thought long and hard about it, but missing out on this big event with free tickets would have been a shame so I played hooky and just skipped it. Characters do that on TV all the time right so missing one day shouldn’t be bad…hopefully! Well enough of that, time to talk about the film. It was great as expected and I dare say that it did a better job of getting the concept of virtual gaming better than the show did. Arc 1 of the first season is still the absolute greatest, but this movie has no second half to weigh it down.

This movie takes place after the first two seasons of the show. A new augmented reality game has launched called Ordinal Scale. After the tragic events of Sword Art Online and Gun Gale Online, people are fed up with virtual reality games. This new company took the opportunity to launch their augmented reality game since it is very different. I won’t go into how these genres are different since you can just Google that, but think Pokemon Go, but the more intricate version. You use the new system in every day life to get free coupons and to increase your score. The major boosts are obtained through boss fights and taking down minions. Kirito is sore that nobody is playing his favorite games anymore though so he pouts about it for the first chunk of the movie.

Kirito is so sore about this that he even takes the time to tell his friends that they’re playing games too much nowadays. After all, if you’re not playing his favorite games then you shouldn’t be playing at all. Kirito was such a jerk during the first part of the movie that it was actually pretty funny. He comes across as hypocritical and lying to his future wife’s face for super minor stuff also makes you shake your head. Now you may think that I’m not a Kirito fan based on this, but he’s actually my favorite character and I’m a big fan. His attitude and negative demeanor is part of what makes him endearing. Anyway, Kirito is forced to get on board when the game begins to get dangerous. Asuna is attacked and her memories of Sword Art Online are stolen. On a more minor note, the villain also broke Klein’s arm and injured a group of people, but Kirito’s more concerned about the Asuna situation. He must now get stronger in this game so he can beat up the villains and force them to return her memories. He may be a legend in the video game world, but can he do so well in the human realm? Time to find out!

Part of what makes this a little more challenging is the fact that Ordinal Scale is still in the real world. The illusions don’t change the fact that you have to physically move around and Kirito is supposedly out of shape. The film keeps on saying that, but he always looks like he’s in shape so Kirito’s just that good. He has a quick training montage and reminds us why he is the hero. It was great to see hardcore Kirito return for a little bit as he finally decided to go all out on the villains. It’s something that you don’t see from him quite as much now that he’s gotten a bit more mellow, but in his defense, the stakes have never been as high as they were in SAO. I’m sure the third season should change that once we finally adapt the next big arc.

The soundtrack in the film is easily 5 stars. There are a ton of great themes and I’ve already listened to the soundtrack on Youtube quite a few times. As I always say in my reviews, a good soundtrack can take a film to the next level. It’s safe to say that the film wouldn’t have been quite as exciting with a more laid back set of tunes. We get remixes from the show and even some tunes that seem to be grabbed directly from it. Coupled with the new tunes, it makes for a pretty unforgettable experience.

As always, the graphics are also excellent. The fight scenes really stand out and the choreography for the hand to hand fights are excellent. The best fight is naturally Kirito vs Eiji, but there were great moments all around. All of the fights were a blast with the colorful visuals and great sound effects. You could really hear every slice and clang and that’s part of what will always make going to the theater such fun. It’ll still be around at home of course, but your neighbors never let you turn the volume up quite as much as you would like. The solution is to live in a house of course, but I don’t think I’ll be moving anytime soon. Besides which, I’m just a city kid at heart anyway.

There are some plot elements I have to mention because they don’t make much sense. I’m not gonna go into too much detail on this, but Ordinal Scale just doesn’t work in practice. At least not the way that the film presented it. As one person pointed out on Youtube, one scene has a car turn into a bunch of barrels and later on we see the barrels get thrown around. That means that a car just got totaled and the poor owner is going to sue the game or a player bumped into the car and probably broke his back if we assume that it wasn’t enough to throw the car. There are many scenes like this throughout the film where you try and remember what the real world looked like the whole time. In a sense it almost feels like Boss Baby where the characters feel like they’re doing something intense, but it’s actually a lot less wide scale and epic than you are led to believe.

This may be true to an extent, but the line is heavily blurred. The characters are also immersed to the point where the whole landscape changes and they no longer know where they’re going. Also, their fake weapons seem to have an impact when they have their glasses on, but then it fades once they take it off. I guess you can just attribute this to the AR being that realistic, but it was also a little hard to swallow. Likewise, Eiji’s abilities were also a little intriguing. By the end we can basically just assume that the tech gave him super speed in real life which is pretty neat, but it should be extremely obvious to everyone in real time. At first it was treated like getting level ups in the game just gave you special abilities, but that wouldn’t make sense in context. What I’m trying to say in all of this is to not look at the context too hard as it falls apart under scrutiny.

The film’s around 2 hours, but definitely doesn’t feel like it. The adventure zips by in a snap which is obviously a good thing. It never drags on and it just a fun adventure from start to finish. I don’t have any real negatives here. I was worried that the film would have some fanservice since the show had a big problem with that, but it actually strayed away from that for the most part. There was definitely quite a bit of romance, but that usually goes hand in hand with the series. At least everyone wasn’t trying to get Kirito’s attention for once since he’s made it clear so many times that he’s taken.

I already talked about Kirito. He may not have sounded great, but he really is an excellent character. He’s a little petty at first, but every character has an off day. This was one of Asuna’s better depictions as she got really good at the game and it’s easy to see how she’s more comfortable in this real world setting than Kirito. He was never much of a people person after all. I would have been disappointed if Asuna had decided not to jump into the fray by the end and luckily the film didn’t go that route. She’s a fighter at heart so not including her in the climax would have been a mistake.

The rest of the group members are also around like Lisbeth, Klein, Leafa, and the others. They get decent roles and are around to try and get Kirito to enjoy the game more. They all pitch in and help when necessary. Sinon probably did the most noticeable damage to the boss which was nice since she is more powerful than the others. The fact that she is a long range fighter does make her a little vulnerable to the tougher bosses though. I still think it was a little odd how nobody really cared about what happened to Klein and why he didn’t tell them that Eiji could not be trusted. He didn’t lose his memory of being attacked after all so that was a little fishy. Ah well, that’s why he’s not the main character. As for the new characters in the film, they were all fairly decent. I can’t say that I cared much for the scientist, but I typically don’t care much for scientist characters anyway. At the very least, I could sympathize with his goal. He wanted to bring his daughter back even if it meant destroying the memories of many players and ultimately destroying them as well if necessary. Clearly he’s evil no matter what the justification is, but it’s certainly a better motive than just being psychotic. I’m always more on board with a plan to bring someone back to life because someone who’s special to you should mean more than the rest of the world. If you have to put the world in danger to save someone, then so be it.

The players also made it rather easy. The theater was laughing quite a lot when one of Klein’s friends noticed arrows that led to a dark alley. It’s basically the scenario that you hear about all the time on Reddit, but this guy walked in anyway because he saw a rare item. Lets just say that it did not end well for him. When are these guys going to learn that you shouldn’t go into a dark alley no matter what the reason? I can’t say that I liked Klein’s group at all though as they came off as desperate the whole time. I was rooting for the Sword Art Online monsters to take them down.

The pop idol Yuna is another one of the new characters. Her arc never really went anywhere though. She showed some interest in things beyond her programming which could have been interesting, but I guess the film didn’t have time to delve into it. She seemed like a nice enough person although I wonder if she knew that people were getting injured to deliver the crystals to her. She may not have been as innocent as she looked, but she can definitely sing. Finally, we have the main villain, Eiji. Eiji’s a classic arrogant villain who’s really confident in his abilities and loves picking on the weak. At first it seemed like he was just beating everyone up so he could get the crystals and it wasn’t anything personal, but this facade broke down a few times. Eiji definitely loves being the villain and his design was solid. The scenes with him and Kirito were definitely handled well and I’m glad that Kirito didn’t back down even when he was outmatched. That’s just not how Kirito rolls. I feel like Eiji should have put up more of a fight in his final scene, but I guess he was just too broken by then.

The surprise final boss was also great. I would have liked for that fight to be extended if anything, but they definitely fit in a bunch of action. Every character got to have a big moment in the end and there were a bunch of homages to the TV show. It was great to briefly see everyone and the movie really did do a good job of wrapping up everything from the shows. It was a good way to bridge the gap between this part and the next saga. This review was a little all over the place, but for a movie this hype it’s hard not to just start rambling as I move from section to section. It had a lot of powerful moments full of intensity and then also emotional moments as well. Kirito’s montage was excellent as I mentioned earlier and since it was personal now, I’m glad he threw everything at the mission. He even called in his favors with the government to get to the bottom of this.

Overall, Ordinal Scale is definitely an excellent film. There was never a question about its greatness, only whether it gets an 8 or a 9. As I mentioned there aren’t any real negatives so that makes an 8 the minimum. At the same time, there are some stretches of time with no real action scenes so I’m trying to consider how a re watch of the film would go down. Honestly it is good enough for me to re watch it already so it definitely has a lot of replay value. The theater audience was also very lively which was a blast. The animation and soundtrack are top notch and the plot is good. The dialogue scenes were also solid since I do like the characters. I don’t want to take shots at Naruto too often, but it’s amazing just how much more enjoyable the cast of Sword Art Online is. Seeing them hang out at the mall is more interesting than seeing the Naruto characters fight at times which should be impossible. Of course, good directing does go a long way. Well, in the end I think the film is good enough to pull it off. It’ll join the great crowd of Resurrection F, Yugioh Dark Side of Dimensions, and more. After all, the film’s going to be even more awesome when I get to see the dubbed version of it! I look forward to seeing the series return someday and until then I may get around to reading the light novels. I highly recommend the film and keep your eye out for the Pac-Man scene. It was definitely a highlight moment as Sword Art Online acknowledges that people will still be playing the game no matter how high tech the industry gets. Pac-Man is timeless.

Overall 9/10