What I ___ Today: Oct. 6, 2014

Posted: October 7, 2014 in What I ___ Today
Tags: , , ,

What I Watched Today: Log Horizon 2 (episode 1) & Sword Art Online II (episode 14)

Log Horizon 2:

LogHorizon

Season two of Log Horizon has begun! This was easily one of my favorites from the Fall 2013/Winter 2014 anime seasons and I have been waiting eagerly ever since for the return of the Villain in Glasses and all his friends. And they do not disappoint in the season opener. other than some fairly brief moments of recapping last season, this was everything I would expect an episode of Log Horizon; the politics, Shiroe’s grand plans, the kind-of/kind-of-not a thing Akatsuki/Shiroe/Minori love triangle. Really the only thing missing from the premiere was Henrietta fawning over Akatsuki, though i can’t imagine it’ll be too long before that makes its return as well.

For those of you who are unaware, Log Horizon builds off the same basic premise as a show like Sword Art Online of real people trapped in a video game world. Where SAO is more focused on action and fan service though, Log Horizon tends more towards politics, dealing heavily in the relationships between players, between guilds, and even between player characters and non-player characters. I love that the show takes what would normally be a pure action anime concept and has done a great job of molding it into something very different. i also love that they aren’t afraid to mine the classic RPG trope of getting gold from killing monsters for a story idea as they did here.

The one strange thing I found about this premiere episode was the last few moments. They appeared to be something of a flash-forward, and the dialogue would seem to indicate a less than positive outcome for Shiroe and company, yet he and Akatsuki didn’t seem to be particularly unhappy about things. Stranger still was the fact that they were dressed in regular civilian clothing rather than attire appropriate to the world of Elder Tale. I’m really looking forward to seeing what this scene means in the end, and to meeting all the new friends (and enemies) Shiroe makes along the way.

LogHorizon_s2e01

Sword Art Online II:

SwordArtOnline2

Alright, I have to talk about this before I can get into anything else about this episode. Even for a show predominantly set in a game where characters shoot each other with guns (this season anyways) and where it’s not unusual for attempted rape to be used as a plot device, the scene with Asada and Endou is incredibly messed up. I get the idea behind the scene. They want to show that Asada is overcoming er fear of guns in the real world as well as GGO. That’s great. But is having one character point a gun at her classmate really the best way to do that scene? And Endou’s friends gave zero problem with what she’s doing. From all appearances they think it’s hilarious. I think that’s the part that bothered me the most. This isn’t a one-on-one scene like the attempted rape last episode (reshown in part at the beginning of this episode). No, there are people watching what’s happening and not only doing nothing about it, but enjoying the show. Even if they’re supposed to know it’s a pellet gun, that’s still not ok.

As for the rest of the episode, the two biggest chunks to talk about aside from the scene I already ranted about range from being as full of exposition as possible to being a pretty shameless play for viewers heartstrings. The first of these is a meeting between Asada, Kirito and Kikuoka which is pretty much just pure exposition explaining everything we could possibly want to know about the people behind Death Gun and their plan. And the second is the awkward first time having Asada, Kirito and Asuna in the same room (which actually isn’t awkward because it’s the first time they’re in the same room). What is awkward about is that Kirito, Asuna and Lisbeth (who is also there) essentially ambush Asada with this we’re-helping-you/intervention/meeting with a woman from her past. Admittedly this is a meeting Asada needed to have, but I think the fact that it is an important scene just makes it feel that much more awkward.

I don’t usually harp on SAO for it’s writing. I think of it as an action anime, I’m not expecting the writing to be gold. The problem here is, I can’t help but feel in the hands of better writers this could have been a deeply emotional/moving episode, but instead it comes off to me, as i said before, as a shameless play for viewers heartstrings, and that’s just disappointing.

SwordArtOnline2Episode14

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