Category Archives: Sword Art Online

Spring 2018 Anime Selections

Here are some impressions, as per usual. On a personal note, I recently signed up for HiDive, and it doesn’t have Apple TV support, which is what I use to watch probably 75% of anime these days. It also doesn’t have Chromecast support, which is what I use to watch ~15% of anime these days (only usually because I’m at a friend’s house or Apple TV is having issues). The two technology platforms are kind of interchangeable, since I use both at home for various things. The rest of the time I watch either on my phone (because I’m on an airplane) or on my PC (because I happen to be in front of it), in that 10% remainder. It also means HiDive is kind of worthless to me right now.

The problem with HiDive is that it doesn’t support how I watch anime most of the time. If it takes less effort to me to XDCC some files and watch it on Apple TV via Plex, than load up the video I want on HiDive, cast my whole phone, then hit play, this competing product is just a waste of my time that happened to cost money. Would it be OK for me to subscribe and not use it? I guess so. For now, the only real way to watch stuff on HiDive, short of inside a browser, is that I can dial up a video on my phone and stream my phone Airplay/Chromecast-like, but this sucks if all you have is your phone, and not a second device to play with in your living room. It is very much a first world problem, but this entire blog is more or less a first-world-issues only site.

That’s not even mentioning all the bugs in the Android app. And how the web version is making the same mistakes that plagued FUNi’s website back when they were solo on the streaming. Anyways.

On a less ranty, but still ranting, note, I picked up the EN version of BanG Dream game, administered out of Singapore. It’s perfectly fine and provides an updated experience than my first run-ins with the original JP version so long ago. They fixed most of the tuning issue with stamina usage and event point system. The more fleshed out exchange system now has some balance with grinding up character training mats. There are more songs you have access to right out of the gate, if just the newer covers alone.

Playing it also reminds me what I didn’t like about the game, which is having to put up with songs you don’t like or don’t want to listen to during multiplayer. This is why I almost never choose Random for song selection, anyway. Oh, and the usual abusers in the game that coast or outright cheat.

Then again, I get why some people instant-disconnect after the song selection screen. I really don’t have to want to put up with one more listen of Shuwarin. I’ve not fallen that far yet but it’s getting close. It would be really great if the game lets you blacklist a few songs!

OK, enough sidebars. Here are the initial offering (which is bound to shrink as the MLB season wears on).

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Year in Review 2016: N-listing

I’m putting this out first because the other post can stand by itself, introspection or not. Hey, it’s not March yet.

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Sword Art Online TV Thing

Lizbeth & Silica

So today the news of a SAO TV adaption by a US media company was out, which I am sure is not coincidental to the fact that last week was SDCC. Or this/these kinds of things are happening out there. In search of media gold, Hollywood is asking people to ship them their mines. Japan happens to be actually pretty good at doing exactly this, so why not pick through their trash for some variety for a change?

And why not? I think it’s a good fit. Fire up that Ouroboros!

Power Fantasy? Overlord Is Overpowering

Battle Maids or w/e

The question is, as stated:

Considering how much people bitched about the JSDF exercising overwhelming force against armies of chumps with swords, and how many viewers argued Kirito was overpowered in Sword Art Online, I wouldn’t have expected Momonga to get a pass. He’s constantly overestimating the abilities of his enemies and dismantling them with embarrassing ease despite handicapping himself time and again, yet nobody seems to have any qualms about that. My theory is that it’s because he’s really tall and speaks (externally, anyway) with an authoritative voice. That and being a big skeleton guy. I’m pretty sure Tony Robbins had a chapter on that.

The answer? Overlord differs by spinning the narrative towards what I call “world building.” Momonga’s unmatched prowess is not rooted in a sense of vulnerability. SAO and others are criticized because their narratives leverage their powerful protagonists through lenses in which mere mortals like me can sympathize with. (The fact that there is a damsel in distress and not some equally badass level one billion demon to pair with Kirito is all you need to address the feminist critique, although on those grounds Overlord fares poorly as well.) Momon, on the other hand, is a thorough lich, complete with all the leanings and quirks we have come to expect a lich who plays as a guy trapped from another world. At any given time throughout these first 9-10 episodes, he has no real skin in the game. Pun aside, Overlord stresses this by actually ignoring the “he’s trapped in another world and can’t escape” part.

Instead, we are invited by Overlord to learn about this strange new world ala Log Horizon’s styles. (Which, by the way, should share the same scrutiny about power fantasies.) It becomes world building as we learn with Momo-Boney-Goals or whatever he calls himself. We go on adventures with as much attachment as I do with my FFXIV character (who has been sitting in neglect for over a year). In other words, not that much. In that sense, we don’t really feel both the vulnerabilities or share in the same kind of delight of Momonga, as he crushes the truly worthless things beneath his left pinky toe bone. I guess in a way we are invited to take delight when scrubs are put down by something legitimate, but I think the schtik of Overlord is to exaggerate that gap so it becomes disfigured from what we’re used to: it becomes world building, to explain how things work.

GATE, in contrast, invite us to enjoy, celebrate, and watch it for precisely that gap. I would raise my hands when asked if a modern army machine-gunning 12th century footmen and knights on horses is a major reason why I watch the show.

In the story of Overlord we are not asked to pity or sympathize with Momonga, but more his allies, like the people who were slain ruthlessly after trying to befriend him. Or his pet hamster. If Momonga is God, then Overlord reincarnates him as a Coke bottle in subcontinental Africa; we watch it for the cast of characters around him and await what happens at the end. Or maybe Momonga is like the Mars Rover Curiosity and his foes are like rocks in front of a vaporizing laser? I’m grasping here.

PS. Hara is great in this, but I see where he’s coming from.

PPS. So-bin is good stuff.

The Better Mary: SAO Versus OBC

This is basically the main reason I have a problem with Sword Art Online: It’s a power-tripping fantasy that betray the reality of a form of escapism: the MMORPG. When you escape the escape it isn’t just meta, it’s just sad. For reference, this season’s Log Horizon plays the game by the rules. That is proper escapism where the Accountant can play her real-life class in this fantasy environment to her advantage, or the Post-doc raid leader can do it like the best of them (disclosure: My long-time WoW raid leader was also a Phd student that turned into a post-doc and then got a real job so he can’t play much anymore). Log Horizon deals with the human elements in a MMORPG; Sword Art Online deals with the human elements in a loser and it works well because he is in a MMORPG. Well, I guess that can be pretty appealing too.

Speaking of which, Outbreak Company is along the lines of Yet Another Light Novel about the really hardcore otaku mindset. Instead being stuck in a MMORPG he is stuck in an actual fantasy world of sword, magic, half-elves and moe dwarf children. OBC’s form of escapism is a little more honest in that he simply wants to live his otaku world in this new world, and the magic of fiction gives him the ability to do so in the form of an excellent Soft Power dig. So instead of fighting monsters or whatever they do in SAO, the protagonists in OBC instead educate children on anime, manga, and video games, usually in the form of either playing/reading/watching them, or talking about these things. This is right up my tiny crack of an alley, but its general appeal has more to do with the way it addresses the physical and emotional needs of the otaku by the way of traditional interpersonal characterization, accessible humor, and, well, cute girls. In other words, put yourself in his shoes, I’m sure you can do a better job; it invites you to do as much.

So to me, both stories derive a lot of entertainment value as self-inserts, although they may not be pure Mary Sue archetypes. Let’s do this Baka-Raptor style.



Just to be fair, this contest is just based on the first 9 episodes of both series.

Round 1: Who is more badass?

Kirito > Shinichi always.

Advantage: SAO

Round 2: Who is clear-headed and acts less like an emotard?

Shinichi easily. At gunpoint, would you rather play a MMORPG or run a culture export company in a hostile environment? I think most people would prefer the former, Shin’s got a harder life.

Advantage: OBC

Round 3: Who has better taste in men/women/things?

Myucel ~= Asuna

Petralka’s ZR ~= most things in SAO

The tie breaker goes against the fact that More Deban is still a problem unsolved, because Lisbeth and Silica are great.

Advantage: OBC

Round 4: meta factor

SAO is an anime about people stuck in a game.

OBC is an anime about an allegory of expanding otaku culture beyond Japan

SAO has fantasy magic and swordplay.

OBC has a lizardman blowing on a NES cartridge.

Advantage: OBC

Round 5: Meme factor

Two years, folks, two years.

Advantage: SAO

Round 6: Gender Equality

Do I even need to go to this? I mean OBC is by no means a progressive feminist take on things, but really?

As a note, a girl in OBC actually said “would you stop talking to my breasts?”

Advantage: OBC

Round 7: Race Equality

Do fairies count? OTOH, racism is an actual issue in OBC. Granted it’s kind of a comedy copout between elves and dwarves. SAO stays clear of it (other than… beaters?) while OBC somewhat bungles it.

Advantage: SAO

Round 8: Who would you rather be?

Honestly? I would rather be neither of them, because in some capacity I am both already–I play MMORPGs and I write about anime/manga/etc in a meta way, for public consumption. Maybe I would rather be Myucel, and learn Japanese or something. Being a socially-shamed, racially-oppressed, half-slave girl is kind of not a desirable thing however.

Advantage: Tie

Score:  3-4

I guess this means someone should license OBC hard and fast.