A short review; this is more of an overall impression instead of detailed response. And some ranting. Most of you are gonna hate this review, because I'm not going to say anything about the standard positive point of this anime (such as the animation, drawing, bla bla bla you guys know it already). Instead I will nitpick about the small things.
tl:dr: Excellent animation, excellent source material, not-so-great director.
This is the adaptation of my number 1 favorite VN Fate Stay Night. Considering the job ufotable did in FZ, I had some real big expectation.
And indeed, I was disappointed.
Disregarding the wonderful job the Art Director
and Animator has done, I cannot, in good faith, say that the Main Director has done a good job adapting it. One of the subtle but most persistent problem is the pacing of this anime. The scene transitions isnt exactly smooth, and when that adds up, you felt it and mood whiplash ensues. It's a small enough problem that you can ignore it, but it still be itchy.
Among the things that I am royally pissed off at the director besides the pacing being all over the place is that many, many, MANY in universe detail about Servants battle system and ability being wrong.
I'm still fucking pissed of how they change the battle details with Berserker's invulnerability and Mad Enhancement. Fuck that part. Fuck the director. There are lots of other stuff I can nitpick about: having a dragonworm instead of a dickworm like in Zero, Assassin unleashing complete and perfect Tsubamegaeshi and yet Saber is still alive, Gae Bolg being laser lance instead of bending lance, or Caster capable of bending spcae in a Reality Marble-like. Most people would let it slide due to Rule of Cool. Not me. I know how the system works. And I fucking hate it when the system is all wrong.
Other than those in universe detail though, the animation staff adapted this Up to Eleven, and even more. The big things like frame-to-frame animation and drawing quality is excellent, but that's the given ones for ufotable. So story source and animation is not debatable anymore. The ones that really shines for me for this adaptation is the little things they added.
Among those are: People actually doing something in the background, passing scene of residual damage after battle, character actually shown wearing a different clothes.
With different location used, the changes were also obviously done with meticulous detail: Stuffs like road's crack or existing power pole or letter box in background location, the varieties of furnitures in different location, using different places with completely different background and location drawings for different scenes instead of reusing them.
Also, many subtle things like character spot of light moments, subtle shift in atmosphere followed with expression changes, and camera preposition and position changes; Christ, all that takes a lot of work and patience.
The nitpicky stuffs really, really turns me off at the beginning I even stopped watching the TV release and wait for BD instead. But those good little things adds up. It keeps the watching experience fresh and keep the atmosphere's beat.
And of course, their biggest accomplishment: unlike stupid DEEN, they managed to show that Shirou is NOT a white knight faggot, but a kid with a totally fucked up issue in his head.
Do keep in mind that I (subjectively and effectively) still dont like the director's overall works for the pacing and the little changes he made. Those are unnecessary, making it worse overall, and create inconsistencies. Those are small things, but like the above GOOD small thins, the ugliness adds up and turns me off. Those maybe small matters for some people, but for me they're serious businesses.
In conclusion: I cannot, once again, in good faith call FSN UBW 2014 an above average adaptation. The animation and art+drawing is top notch, but the same cannot be applied to the storytelling and pacing. The animation staff is this anime saving grace, practically the only ones who contributes good and positive points to this anime.
I dont know if it is all the fault of the Main Director, but until I know for sure otherwise, I am holding Miura Takahiro responsible. Fuck you, sir.
Final Score: 7/10.
Nov 24, 2013
HakoMari's story is one of the most 'cult' light novel story I have ever read, throwing mainstream out from the window right away.
It made me scream like a fangirl.
The story is about Kazuki Hoshino, a boy who very much treasures his normal 'everyday life'. An everyday life, which is no longer normal without he himself realizing it when he met a mysterious transfer student Aya Otonashi.
-- Story : 9/10.
HakoMari's genre is somewhat a combination of fantasy and mystery. The story, like I said, avoids today's light novel mainstream and cliche plot. It's not a stupid boy-meets-girl-then-continue-to-meeting-harem-member. It's a boy-meets-girl-then-reality-went-to-shit kind. ... When Kazuki Hoshino met Aya Otonashi, his whole world and the normalcy around him was turned upside down. It turns out he has been repeating the same particular day over and over again, trapped in a time loop. With only the transfer student a.k.a. heroine Aya Otonashi as the one who realize the loop, he needs to struggle out of the loop and get back his normal everyday. Little that he know, his normal life is no longer within reach.
The story itself focus mainly on an wish granting tool known as the 'box'. These 'boxes', given by a certain character that could be said as the main antagonist, reflex on the box's owner personality and granting the owner's wish, but its power only extend as far as how much the owner believes on the 'wish granting concept'. These 'boxes' is our protagonist Kazuki Hoshino archenemies, existences that only serves to destroy his precious normal lives. As the story goes, together with Aya Otonashi, Kazuki meet all kinds of 'box' owners with their own distinct mindset and, more often than not, twisted wishes.
The plot eschew the normal story nowadays and gives us a new but tainted kind of plot. The story is dark indeed; either morally or mentally. But despite the dark fantasy genre, the story would actually feel realistic, felt that the way it unfold could actually happened to our normal life.The writing style is also very unique; each novel uses different style of storytelling and it gives power and impression to each arc, for example is the repeating time loop at first arc and volume.
-- Character : 9/10.
The characters in HakoMari is realistic; you can find people like this around you. Yet each and every one of them is a distinct individual, with their own depth and story.
Our protagonist, Kazuki Hoshino, is a boy with a somewhat abnormal attachment to a concept of 'normal life'. It is the most precious thing for him. Whe it was taken from him, he'd go to his utmost in order to get it back. It is ironic that, despite his love for normalcy, it is the very thing that makes him actually abnormal.
The main heroine, Aya Otonashi, is at first ambiguously portrayed as the main antagonist, with her action completely opposing our protagonist. But it turns out that Aya Otonashi designated enemy is also the very one that serves to destroy the concept of normal life, making him as Kazuki Hoshino's enemy as well. Thus, both of Aya and Kazuki creates a mutual ceasefire relationship, which will develop further and become on that is closer than at the beginning.
Aya Otonashi is a very unique and distinct character; she is unlike any heroine I have ever met. The more the story progress, I as a reader was given more and more revelation about her. Her relationship with the 'boxes' giver is one of the most important point in the series, together with her own, indeed, wish and 'box'.
Besides our two protagonists, a lot of side characters exists as well. Except that there are no side characters in HakoMari.
Like I said before, all the characters in HakoMari is a distinct individual, with their own story. Each and every one of them has their own stage within the story, one that equals our protagonists'. And that gives all characters a strong flavor. Throughout the story, you will find that each character was, in fact, a main character.
As the story goes, the readers will be pleased that each character is given a revelation and/or development. Indeed, in HakoMari characters are not given only development, but revelation as well, to the point that the development itself comes as our view about the character changes and as more and more about the character is revealed. In other words, the characters didn't change; it's us, the readers, who changes the way we perceive those characters. And it's one thing that I love from HakoMari. The credibility of the characters was done by their action within the story, not through the power of narration, making the action they take and thus, their characterization, very realistic.
-- Art : 7/10
As often the case with a novel, art isnt it's strong point and thus, I never gave it much attention. But, again, in HakoMari the art concept is different than most light novel. We are not given an 'event illustration', we are given an illustration that 'symbolize' the current arc and chapter. It is unique in its own way.
The artwork quality itself was not spectacular, but the concept itself was good enough to make up for it.
-- Enjoyment : 10/10
This, in my opinion, is the most important point at reading a novel. Since most people dislike reading novel as seeing only writings and letter can be boring. This is the biggest hurdle for a novel. A novel must be able to give enjoyment to the readers and pull them into the story itself, so not only the reader read the story, but get pulled inside them and LIVE them. The simplest of stories can be a great story if told with great enjoyment.
This series's 'cult' concept is the one aspect that made me attached to and enjoying the series, with the typical harem and cliche plot LNs around. A refreshing idea, combined with dark premises hooked me up immediately.
HakoMari has given me enjoyment to the fullest when reading it. The pacing was perfect; Eiji Mikage write each story segment with perfect proportion and placing that each reading pulls us more and more, until the big bomb of surprise is revealed. The way he writes managed to combine mundane everyday life and comedy segment with fantasy and mystery blending, giving dark premises in the process. The way he blends hem together was so well-done that each segment, like I said, felt realistic and could actually happened around us, despite them being dark fantasy genre.
All in all, HakoMari is a great read; a different story that leave a deep impression within me, with the way the story was told and the characterization. Thus, if you are tired with the same cliche story in most LNs nowadays, I recommend HakoMari to you all. You won't regret it.
P.S. : I actually sincerely hope that there wont be an anime adaptation of this, as I believe there are no studios that could captivate the story as perfect as I imagine it. I hope I will be proven wrong.
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Jun 6, 2013
First of all: I effing hate the anime adaptation.
Now onto the review (ranting).
This one of the adaptation with lots of fanboy (me), fangirls, and a lot of ranting in forums. Many screams of happiness when the news of the adaptation was confirmed, and several has already believed SAO's anime will be one of the best anime that season.
Turns out it's not.
SAO is the anime adaptation of a series of light novels of the same name by Reki Kawahara, with an amazing amount of hype (not without reeason for the novel). It is set on 2022, where humanity has finally for the first time able ... to completely go inside the game world using virtual reality technology.
It's pretty mainstream since real life MMORPG genre has quite lots of works, for example .hack G.U. or Yureka. But this one gave with a tint taste of darkness; Death is real here. Death in the game is equal with death in real life. A promising premise.
It's too bad that A-1 Pictures went retard with their adaptations (as usual). SAO kickstart with a somewhat promising and fulfilling first episodes. But they went idiot for following episodes. I have read the original source material, the light novels. So I'm going with a lot of ranting and comparison between them.
SAO doubtlessy has a promising and quite original premise, like I said, and the light novel fully uses the premise to maximum and gave me a very good reading of a series. The anime, however, totally ruins what the novel has managed to reach. At start we were given a large number of VRMMORPG player who were the first to taste the very first virtual reality game, but they were given a merciless truth about the death factor of a game. The anime managed to adapt the initial sequence for the story rather well. However, A-1 Pictures managed burn the rest of the episodes and the potential of this anime as well.
Here's the list of what made the adaptation an epic failure:.
In the first 7 episodes, what started as a merciless game of death was turned into a get-all-the-girls-you-met story. I mean, goddammit, they turn the starting arc into a freaking harem episodes. Yeas, those girls are cute; yes, we are oh so very thankful for the fanservices. Not. These are the goddamn side stories, why the hell would they put it in the initial start? They are side stories, they are not meant to be a major plot points. And the studio didn't give a good job at it. They reduced (massively) and changed the dialogue and event sequence, making it felt awkward and felt like a damn cheesy soap opera.
When the arc finally back on the death game aspect, it fell into the pit of doom further by putting the cheesy romance aspect as the main focus. Some people love romance, hell, I love romance, but only when they are given naturally and within reason. The studio throws away the world building aspect, it throws away the dungeon exploration, and they gave off the main couples in ultimate lovey-dovey mode. The light novel gave the readers a healthy portion of each aspect with the right and natural course of event, while the anime just do a copy pasta, throw away an amount of important ones and focusing on to the romance instead. And they didnt even do a good job at it! Once again, they totally reduced the important sequence of event and cutting lots of plot, making them a rushed and forced storytelling.
The second arc is as much of a disappointment, if not more.
The second arc was done in ALfheim Online (ALO), a second generation major VRMMORPG after SAO. In here, A-1 Pictures gave us not only a cut down and reduced version of an adaptation but also adding several stuffs that once again was done poorly. They completely ruins the supposedly touching events in the light novel considering the new character in ALO: the little sister.
This is where my hatred reached its peak. (Bit of spoiler ahead). The reduced and cut down adaptation was executed very poorly, they skip and skip and skip events that tie down the major plot together and ruins it as a whole. 'Oh, since we need to appease our customers further, why dont we add lots and lots of unnatural fanservice? And let's not give a damn about the storytelling!' Screw them. They made what is a story about reaching the impossible into a forced and unnatural story. And what's up with the eye candies!? God, just what the hell were the studios thinking? You want to make this into a low-budget ecchi anime?
The event considering the little sister is an event of of despairing, heartbreaking moment of revelation in the light novel. But, noooooo, the studio just had to make it damn predictable and shallow kind of event. The light novel made me feel what and how the little sister felt, how their problem and misunderstanding almost destroy the siblings' relationship. The anime made me feel like watching a dirt.
Next is the total ruination of the characters. Focusing too the romance aspect in the first half making the focus of the character is only at our main couple making the side charas even more sidelined. And that's it. The studio is practically saying "Screw the other charas, let's not pay much attention on them. Let's instead give a full throttle screen time on the main couple!!" All the heart-wrenching moment between characters was made into a superficial relationship into a big amount of cheesy lines.
Let's rant about the animation now.
In terms of background visual, they did an admittedly wonderful job. The background was a sight to behold, and they made a change to the ALO game focus, the Yggdrasil, which I like. The action animation part, on the other hand, is a disappointment. They made a lot of important action a still picture animation, with only adding sound effects and vibrating effects. All the actually moving animation is pretty average. They didnt give their all at all in the animation.
The music is one that's done in a very fulfilling result, IMO, considering the one who compose them is Kajiura Yuki. But when it comes to it, there's actually only one BGM that's memorable, the battle BGM 'Swordland'. The OP and ED was not bad, especially the first OP and the second ED.
To conclude this review in a sentence: Screw you, A-1 Pictures. You destroyed what big potential SAO light novel has in the poorly executed dirtbag you made and called it adaptation. This adaptation is a major failure and disappointment for most of the LN fans. Not only it crushes our anticipation, it also gave a bad mindset to those who have yet to read the original light novel, and in some casesit even made some of those who actually read them the anime impression when they read the novel, making them dropped the series. With all of my subjectivity, I gave the anime 3/10. And that was being kind. This is not an adaptation, this is a cutdown copypasta of the LN. They could've made this a movie adaptation for the first volume, a series of OVAs for the second volume, and another movie adaptations for each following arc of the light novel. They could've pour a lot more budget it it's a movie adaptation, and gained a comeback from amounts of BD sales, buuyed by satisfied costumers and fans. Instead thay made this dirtbag.
If a second season was made, I can only hope a different studio handle it, one that was less retard then A-1 Pictures.
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Aug 10, 2012
Sword Art Online is about a virtual reality MMORPG. It is set on 2022, where humanity has finally for the first time able to completely go inside the game world using virtual reality technology.
At first I didn't really put high expectation to it, since it's genre is quite mainstream, like .hack G.U. or Yureka, but with a tint taste of darkness; Death is real here.
But the more I read it, the more I find myself enjoying the proggress of the story. The writer, Kawahara Reki gives a really realistic system and surrounding of said VR game, and it makes us able to completely drowned ... ourselves to the story.
-Story is 8/10. Volume 1 is an extremely solid story, and the best foundation for a series. One would feel really attached to the series 'SAO' just by reading volume 1, even those who initially did not like reading (I have my friends as living proof). Plus, dat damn cliffhanger ending would hook everyone to keep reading this series. The story also pull you in it deep, making you feel really experiencing the MMO Sword Art Online. There are plotholes, but those are covered and well-explained as the story progress.
Oh, and don't forget the vanilla taste, one of my favorite genre in this novel.
However, after volume 4, one MIGHT feel the story is being dragged on and on and making you feel the story has no purpose, by getting further from SAO itself. Several of my friends dropped SAO after volume 4, saying "it's pointless to read further, the story is as good as ended" to me. But the hell with it, I enjoyed reading SAO.
Alicization Arc is where most people dropped this series, as several of my fellow reader did. Nearly all old chara's was thrown away, so to speak, and new charas popping up here and there. Only our protagonist and heroine has major plot. I can see why most people would hate this.
My argument is: each arc can be said as different series. I would hold my opinion considering Alicization until it is finished, but each of SAO arc is like a different series for me. There's no need to forcefully include one arc's chara in other arc. Each arc has its own solid ground and story, so the whole SAO novel is like several different series. Not all people would agree to me on this, and it's fine since everyone has their own cup of tea.
-Art is 8/10. Art rarely shows up on novel, unlike manga, but the art for this novel is drawn really nicely, hats off for abec-san the illustrator. Both the design and the drawing are really nice, mainly the character design, they really fit the characters.
-Character is 8/10. Chara amazing as well. Kirito, the unsocial but headstrong protagonist is depicted as nearly perfect guy, but in the inside he is not. He actually felt a bit like Gary Stu, but at the same time also not. He's not the character who suddenly went badass together with a turning point in the story, he's a reliable guy through and through. But the perfect sides of him is only on net. His other face, the reality side is practically a social nerd, one who don't get over his problem and haunted by it. Kawahara Reki managed to succesfully give the main character Kirito almighty-but-not-overpowered. Some flaw is also given to this MC , but they blend nicely with the positive sides and creates an anti-hero-but-still-hero of a character (at least for me).
The mainly 'main' heroine, Asuna, is 'Mary Sue' at first impression. Yes, the perfect girl and the perfect waifu, one may say she is a boring character. She's not. She had her flaws. She is a social reject, pretty much, with family rejection issues and such. Yet those blend with all her aspect too.
The qualities are told together with the story, not just with narration power, making them and the chara felt real.The readers are slowly given and made understand about the chara, making them realistic. And that's what I like from SAO's chara.
Even the supporter side charas is designed greatly, each with redeeming qualities and flaws fitting for their roles for each arc.
Then again, there are several people who will argue me on this and said 'no chara development' 'old chara is one use only' and such. I had my arguments for this. Kirito is the sole source and focus in whole novel, yes. Everyone else is purely secondary. Every arc was focused only to him. And I say he got a lot of character development in each arc. For other chara, their development is only on their own arc, but those development exist as well. So what I meant to say is whole SAO development is about the main protagonist Kirito. Other side-charas is truly side charas.
-Enjoyment 9/10. This. THIS. THIS is the most important thing for a novel. Many people dislike reading novel because seeing only writings and letter can be boring. This is the biggest hurdle for a novel. A novel must be able to give enjoyment to the readers and pull them into the story itself, so not only the reader read the story, but also imagining them or even live them. Even the simplest of stories can be a great story if told with great enjoyment. And SAO has really gives me enjoyment to maximum when reading it. Kawahara Reki has succesfully narrate SAO with no Deus ex Machina and amazing detailed writings, yet it only draws the reader more. It is my most important aspect for reading and grading a novel.
Now, it's too bad Alicization latest volume, volume 13 felt really, really rushed, and that made me enjoyed it less (that's why I change my rating from 10 to 9). Alicization started strong, but latest volume has left me quite confused. It is definitely not one of my favorite arc/volume. I myself would hold my opinion concerning Alicization Arc, but I do hope that the ending won't be disappointing.
Overall, I gave 9 out of 10 for SAO. I appreciated enjoyment the most out of all novel qualities. SAO has really make me enjoy the story and pull me into it. Not to mention other aspects is also enjoyable. It has flaws, but it doesn't make SAO less enjoyable, some even give a unique quality to SAO. 9 it is.
P.S.: I effing hate the anime adaptation. Made a revies (ranting) of it too.
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