things i watched at otakon #6

SPOILERS children, always SPOILERS….

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only at otakonSword Art Online:  I’ve been wanting to see this one for a very long time so I was happy happy happy to see it screened at Otakon this year.  After all, it is about an MMO and it involves swords and those things are highly relevant to my interests.   Sword Art Online (SAO) is a virtual reality MMORPG and players use a special helmet, called Nerve Gear, to control their game avatars with their minds.  On opening day, thousands of players log in for the first time and begin exploring and questing.  Soon, however, they discover that they cannot log out of the game.   Suddenly everyone is teleported to the central plaza of the starting city and confronted by the avatar of the game designer who has some very bad news for them.  They are all prisoners of the game and cannot log out.  The only way to exit the game is to clear all one hundred levels and defeat all one hundred end bosses.  There is no player resurrection and death in the game means death in the real world as well.  Any attempt to remove the Nerve Gear will kill the player.   In the first month, 2000 players die and the end boss of the first level has yet to be found.

The main characters are Kirito and Asuna.  Kirito was a beta tester and thus understands the game better than most players and he is not averse to using this to his advantage.  He primarily plays solo but attends a meeting of other players to discuss taking down the first level end boss, who has finally been found.  When everyone forms raid teams he notices Asuna sitting alone by herself and invites her to his group.  Using the free game guide the groups devise a strategy to face the boss and control his adds and then head into the dungeon.  During the fight Kirito discovers that Asuna has never fought in a group before and also that they make a pretty damned good team.   Following the death of a fellow player Kirito is determined to kill the boss and with the help of Asuna and the rest of the raid, he manages to land the killing blow.  He is promptly accused of cheating and of failing to use his knowledge as a beta tester to save the other player.  Kirito tells them he’s better than all of the other beta players and stalks off alone to the second level.  On the way out he recommends to  Asuna that she join a guild, as it is safer than being alone.

Overall I thought it was pretty good.  I’ve always like the idea of a truly immersive MMO and the fact that this one is forced on the players certainly raises the stakes.  There’s no offensive magic in SAO (as a player notes: “bold choice”); fighting depends on using specific sword skills and the bit of fighting I saw in these two episodes was pretty standard stuff.  Lots of high leaping and fancy sword moves.  Kirito is a bit of an enigma.  On the one hand he does use his special knowledge as a beta tester to his own advantage and is quite selfish.  He intends to beat the game and sees other players as competition for gear and money.  On the other hand he spends his first few hours in the game training a n00b and even invites him to come along with him after they discover they are trapped in the game.   He understands Asuna’s reasons for deciding to join the boss raid; she’d rather die doing something than spend her life sitting in a safe place in town (which many players have decided to do).  We don’t learn too much about Asuna, other than that she is also a solo player and has excellent sword skills.  Although Kirito heads off to the second level on his own I think it’s pretty likely he and Asuna will team up again.   I did kind of wonder how players are surviving in the real world if they cannot eat or drink, and how their bodily functions are being managed.  One of the players that Kirito meets mentions that he lives alone; how is it that he survives at all?  If it takes them many months to defeat the game most of the players will suffer from serious limb atrophy and may never walk again.  Still, these are quibbles and I should probably just relax.  I’ll definitely watch more of this one.

Score:  Meh.

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sailormoon cosplayHaganai:   Kodaka is a half Japanese/half English high school student who is ostracized by his fellow students because of  his light brownish hair and his occasional fierce look, which leads them to assume he is some sort of thug.  When he transfers to a private Catholic school he runs into fellow student Yozora while she is having a little chat with an imaginary friend called Tomo.  Yozora is hostile and aggressive and also has no friends.  She and Kodaka talk for a bit about having no social life and what to do about it when Yozora has the brilliant idea of starting a club as a way for people with no friends to meet each other.  Kodaka is skeptical but Yozora puts up posters with a hidden message in them and in short order the “Neighbors Club” has its first member.   This is Sena, the most popular girl in school, and Yozora immediately decides she isn’t qualified to join.  As it turns out though, Sena has no real friends; other girls don’t like her and all the boys act like her slaves.   In the second episode the three play a cooperative RPG to practice teamwork and friend skills but spend most of their time ganking each other and fighting so that they fail their missions.  Then they play a bishojo game and Sena and Yozora fail at it miserably because they won’t be friends with any of the girls in the game.  Sena later insists that Kodaka play the entire game through and make friends with all the girl characters.

I feel like I’ve seen this anime a lot before.  Boy is shy or unusual or something that makes him a loner.  Boy meets girl.   Boy meets another girl.  Then another.  Then…well, if the opening credits animation is accurate Kodaka will eventually have himself a five-girl harem.  It’s perfectly clear that Yozora is the girl for him but I imagine it will take them both a while to realize that and there will be all sorts of detours along the way.   Kodaka will spend a lot of time sighing, wondering why girls are so weird, and fending off advances from one or perhaps all of the girls in the club.  There will be lots of shots of Sena’s boobs and Yozora’s thighs and many humorous semi-sexual interactions.  There will probably be a lot of high pitched screaming and all the girls will fight over Kodaka.  It’s a rough life.  Still, it was humorous at times and might be worth watching at some point.

Score:  Meh.

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dr who cosplayInu x Boku:  I was fifteen or so people away from the doors when staff told us the Attack on Titan screening was full.  On my way back to the BCC from the Hilton I noticed this screening had just started and there were plenty of seats available.    I was sort of worn down from all the line standing and sitting in a cool dark room seemed just the thing, so in I popped.  This anime is about Ririchiyo, a young girl who is part human/part youkai who goes to live in a special, high security hotel to be away from her family and to learn how to live among people.   Upon her arrival she meets Soshi, a nice young man who informs her that he is her Secret Service bodyguard.  Soshi claims to have known Ririchiyo for a very long time and asks her to “make me your dog.”  Ririchiyo isn’t terribly interested in having a bodyguard and she is a bit hostile to Soshi, who waits outside her door each morning, makes her breakfast, and cries when she leaves his side to use the restroom.  In the first episode, a burglar breaks into the mansion and holds Ririchiyo at gunpoint and several of the bodyguards reveal that they are actually demons themselves.  Soshi is a five-tailed fox, another guard is a long bolt of cloth, a seemingly shy and quiet girl is a demon made from the animated bones of the dead.  When Soshi saves her from a bullet wound Ririchiyo agrees to let him be her bodyguard.  In the second episode, Soshi and Ririchiyo go out for some shopping and while they are gone one of the other bodyguards goes missing.  As they search for her Ririchiyo herself reveals her spirit powers.  When they return to the mansion they find a “welcome home” surprise party for Ririchiyo and Soshi.

It’s a moderately intriguing beginning, if a little unoriginal.   Unfortunately the room became absolutely freezing and the anime wasn’t compelling enough for me to sit in the cold any longer so I left after the first two episodes.  However,  I did a bit of research (to get character names and such) and it appears that this seemingly light-hearted and humorous romantic anime goes to some really dark places in the next few episodes and it might be worth some further checking out.  So on the list it goes.   Who knows, it might be one of those things that surprises me.

Score:  Meh.

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And that, sadly, wraps up Otakon for another year.  They made a big announcement at the closing ceremony this year; in 2017 they’ll be moving the convention to Washington, DC.  Although the move will make my life easier, by then I’ll be a pro at getting around the Baltimore Convention Center.  By this point, after three years, I’ve almost figured out how to get to the dealer’s room without getting lost.  And who, I ask you, WHO will sell me ice cold water for only one dollar?  Oh, the humanity!

warhammer vs bunny

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~ by gun street girl on August 14, 2013.

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