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    1. It’s been some time since I wrote here, four months? My presence is fading a bit on AF. But, believe me, it’s been some busy times. There’s been some frustrations, excitements, and of course, some big changes coming my way. I thought it might be fun to share some of that, in case anyone happened to be curious about me (not that I expect anybody to be, but damn, I’d be flattered!) I'm sad to report that all attempts at putting a baby in me have been yet unsuccessful, but heck I’m still trying. I can’t wait to be able to actually break that news for real.

      Instead, my latest involvement has been concerning my career, and where I’m taking things from here. Guys, I don’t want to be a dietician anymore. It wasn’t what I signed up for, I just ended up doing it. And although it’s not the worst occupation, it isn’t what I want to do. And I’ve been mulling it over all summer, but I think I owe myself better. I want to take the plunge and shoot for something I love. I need to try and be happy, and I’m feeling good enough lately to put my big girl pants on and do something about it. A few months back, I was offered a job at a dental office, but I ended up not taking it. I just couldn’t see myself back in that position.

      dave-sick-tired.gif.5cf05ffd6365dd1f94a4f31808df9dba.gif

      I quit my second job. I’m worn out from the unpredictability and I just want to focus on other things. That said, for the first time in like, eight years, I’ll get to work a consistent schedule. And, wouldn’t you know it, I’ve got something lined up. It’s a year or so out, but I am so excited about it I just can’t keep it to myself any longer. I’ve been in talks with one of my brothers (10+ years older than me, grows medicinal cannabis for a living,) and he’s been in the process of marketing himself to some investors. Once he gets enough money together, he’s moving south to start a supply business of his own, and he asked me to come work with him. He’ll even teach me the trade.

      yes.gif.1e035d7587f52743cd3d757d59e02a50.gif

      Move?! YES
      Well-paying career? YESS
      Something I LOVE? YYYEEEESSSSS

      Am I banking a lot on this working out? Possibly. But what the hell, maybe this can be life-changing. What’s not to be excited about? I’ll take the slight pay cut for now. I think I know what’s more important, and that’s my mental wellbeing. Feels good to feel loved. And damn does it feel amazing to break away of my depression for once.

      In other news, riding on my good spirits lately, I entered an in-person LoL tournament this weekend, and my team actually placed second. Not. Bad. Not bad at all. The prizes were pretty swell for placing top three, so I’m quite content with the results. I won a new Razer Trinity mouse, Kraken headset (which I’ll probably sell tbh,) some in-game digital goodies, and a cash prize. I even won a raffle prize, which was a TV (ummmm holy sh*t?) More importantly, I met some really awesome people there. Everyone was super cool to each other, and no matter who won or lost, everyone usually came together after their games and gave constructive feedback on their plays. I ended up adding everybody I played against and felt like I made some new friends. Overall, it was an exceptionally fun experience and I’m so glad I got to compete, even if I was the only woman playing.

      And now, for the… bad news…

      It’s getting cold here again.

      :(

    2. Wow, today was a really long day.  First, I woke up and assisted my husband with a rescue diving class.  Usually I am in the water as a victim, but since my last box of contacts had some issues (I think they were contaminated.  I got eye infections from using them twice.  Had to be a bad batch.  Never had an eye infection before in my life till then!), and he had another divemaster in the water, I instead stuck with surface support and shore work.  Even so, I almost stayed behind to listen to lectures for the next class he was teaching after the dives.  Instead, I skipped changing my clothes and just went home (because I left my phone at home to charge).

       

      Upon getting home, I immediately get to changing into some dry clothes and while putting on my jeans, I hear a kitten screaming.  My head shot up (and all the girls were in the room with me).  I immediately opened the window by me and saw nothing.  Juliet was in the other window watching so I peered out of her window and saw Nighthawk and her kittens with Squint and Sniper walking out of the backyard.  Yet I could still hear crying...

       

      I headed out the back and to my horror found a little black kitten stuck in my chair.  Somehow, he had falled with his arm between the slats of my chair, with his arm pinned inside.  Nighthawk abandoned him in less than 2 minutes from the time it happened.  He was wedged so deep with his arm all twisted that I couldn't pull him back up.  I called my husband, distraught and interrupting class, to ask him where the saw was (I was already in the garage looking through toolboxes and workbenches) and the only one I saw was a tiny handsaw...which was ineffective.  He decided to leave class to come help me...but he was thirty minutes away.  I tried again with some clamps I found (using them in a spreading manner) to lessen the pressure and pulled him up and out.  The arm was completely limp and useless.  I ran him inside and grabbed a carrier and off to the emergency vet we went (telling my husband to stay and teach class). 

       

      Thankfully the xrays didn't show a fracture but he still can't use his arm.  If I had taken him to the Humane Society...well the best case scenario would be that they would have just amputated (but with the terrible one we have I'm sure they would have simply euthanized him).  With some anti-inflammatories and pain medications, I'm told he should be walking on it in a few days (or nerve damage would be the culprit).  He's actually the other kitten I saved bigger brother....  looks like we're caring for two now.  Almost time for his next dose of pain medication. 

       

      Oh man I'm tired.  =/  I can't stand to see a kitten in pain.  I'm just so relieved he's going to be alright.  I hope...  time for more expensive vet visits tomorrow....

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    • drill

      @XII360 Changed my team yet again with the summoning of a new character I've been waiting on for a while ^^ (She'll be shown at the very end.)



       
      And the new addition to my team is Flora!!!! Was worried I wasn't going to get her 😧 Anyway, really great Ploy user that kills just about anything reliant on Distant Counter or any mage in the game really.  With Attack/Res Solo and buffs she gets up to 63 Attack and 44 Res.  Harsh command was added to counter Panic Ploy users, and she can afford this skill since she sits in the back using Ploys as well.  Below I do have a few impressive screens I saved during her training.




       
      · 2 replies
    • ArchieKun

      Had a awesome dinner last night. Chicken, rice, and veges brizilan restaurant. It was so good I am definitely going back.
      · 0 replies
    • Ryuji  »  Roxeg

      Congrats on getting 80% on my Pokemon Quiz! You are #1! You're obviously extremely knowledgeable about Pokemon!
      I'm curious which two questions tripped you up.
      · 1 reply
    • IntoMyWorld

      Bringing up SAO to anime watchers is like bringing up "The last Jedi" to star wars fans 
      · 3 replies
    • IntoMyWorld  »  SAO LILDOOP

      So you are icon for hire fan?
      · 2 replies
  • Popular Contributors

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    • awesomedude20 -
      Senki Zesshou Symphogear

      Senki Zesshou Symphogear. My favourite series of all time. Out of all 330+ anime I've seen, this one comes out on top. Why oh why, does this weird little musical sent down from the heavens by Micheal Bay himself, sit at the top as my favourite anime? Well, read the thing and see why. Spoilers ahead, not that it matters though. Not exactly a plot-heavy show, you can still enjoy it even if you know everything that happens. Story: 6/10 I'll be 100% blunt here, Symphogear's story is pretty crap. It has been done to death time and time again, the MC gets powers that they don't know how to use, then they get better at it, then a big villain appears that threatens the world, and in the end, the good guys win. But the thing is... this anime isn't about the story. It's about how damn cool it can get. So don't even consider this iffy story score, because in every other regard, Symphogear is quite good. The 6/10 is because on top of it's miraculously generic story, it does do a lot of cool things with its own lore, and relates a lot of stuff to mythology quite well. Characters: 9/10 This is where the show begins to shine through. You have a main cast consisting of a variety of tropes that, aside from the main character, don't get used a whole ton. The MC is the usual genki "gotta save people, never do harm" types, but a la Symphogear, it goes nuts and has her one-punch the friendship into things. Coupled with the sheer determination she puts out when the time requires it, despite being the most generic character, she's an easy one to love. The rest of the main cast consists of the cool, silent swordswoman type, who due to her upbringing and the tragic loss of her only friend, literally defines herself as nothing more than a sword, and is just as merciless and deadly. Her progression throughout the show as she gets to know Hibiki is a heartwarming one, and the way she acts is entirely believable. It was an easy trope to force, but they didn't and it wound up working wonders in creating just the right amount of drama for the show. The final character worth mentioning is the angry tsundere, but for once in the existence of all anime, it's a tsundere that has a VERY good reason to act that way. Her parents were killed and she was sold into child sex trafficking when she was young, for 6 whole years, before being rescued by the government. She later ran from them as well. Why? She doesn't trust adults anymore. Her horrific childhood entirely contributes to her lack of manners and quick temper, and overall was an excellent, though very dark, reason for her to act the way she does. Much like the sword, she too undergoes positive change after meeting the main character. Don't think the MC is some godsend though, a lot of the things she does, she doesn't do by herself, extremely suddenly. Most of the characters come to realizations by themselves, perhaps with some assistance from side characters here and there. The MC is more of the driving catalyst for the change. Overall, a 9/10 because despite being a pile of cliches, they work perfectly, and all have very specific roles to perform within the show, all of which are done very well. Always remember: Cliches are not bad, poorly used cliches are bad. Art & Animation: 7.5/10 This one is hard to accurately display with one number due to how I format these things. The art itself? It's pretty meh The animation itself? Well the action scenes are all fantastically well done, better than a lot of shows, however the non-action scenes are comically bad at times. I can honestly say that while the worst examples are REALLY bad, you can't help but just kinda laugh at them. So bad they're good, so to speak. And with the quality of the action scenes, it's rather hard to complain overall, especially considering that this is an action show. Making their action scenes look great while sacrificing random walking animation was a great move on their part, because they made the most important point of the show a serious positive. As for the art itself again though, a lot of backgrounds are actually really well done, with the exception of this one, which has shamelessly copy/pasted trees. Music & Sound: 8.5/10 As per being a music anime, it has good music. Really rather good music. In fact, they have Nana Mizuki as a leading voice actress. As well as Yuuki Aoi. And Ayahi Takagaki. (she has a degree in opera). My point is, this is a music anime filled with all-star voice actresses, two of which sing as a profession and are damn good at it, with the third being a ridiculously popular voice actress that commonly wins awards. Good music. Less rambling though, the musical aspect of Symphogear is not one that a lot of people expect off the bat of hearing that the characters sing as they fight. Many people imagine cutesy j-pop awkwardly overlaid on top of the action and they hiss and skitter away, then I have to drag them back again. BUT in reality, the music is far better than that. Not only is every song rather far from typical "pop" music, wherever you may source pop music from in the world, every single song is made specifically for the anime, with lyrics that tie into both the characters, their motivations, and events currently happening in the plot. Here's an example of a rock track, as well as it's accompanying lyrics. And that's just ONE example. Every character in the series has 2, maybe even 3 songs per season. And also just mentioning it, because people love that stuff, this is ENTIRELY the type of show to play its OP during the finale and it's the most hype thing. Really the only flaw with the music is that season 1 wasn't the greatest at putting the music into the fights. It more than did it's job, but there are examples where a character totally shouldn't be singing as well as they are. Yes, they do indeed stop characters from singing as the music continues if they get hit hard enough to knock the wind out of them for example, or if a character throws a hard punch, they'll scream the lyrics into the punch, and so on. They following seasons are much better at doing this, and it entirely becomes a non-issue. As for general sound effects, there's nothing overly fantastic, but they get the job done as well. Everything sounds as it should, all is well timed, no complaints there. Effectiveness: 9/10 Now THIS is why you watch Symphogear. No amount of simple explanations can quite get across just how great this show is at performing what it does. It's extremely aware that it's a dumb fun anime, and it's sticking with that till the bitter end. Simple story? Doesn't matter. Great characters? Only makes the hype flow better. Wonderful music and voice actors? Keep pilin' on the hype. Because Symphogear is an action show. And oh man, does it ever deliver effectively on that front. Even with a terrible budget, they realized their priorities and made the action scenes look amazing, and the amazing cast of voice actors put the passion necessary into the characters to really hit the epic moments home. Symphogear is a show, where you know EXACTLY how it's going to end, and what's going to happen throughout the plot. They are 100% going to beat up the villain and save the day. Would this normally be a problem? Yes. But not here. You won't be saying to yourself "ah man, I know they're gonna win already, what's the point?" because you'll be asking yourself "oh man, how hard are they gonna win next time?" and it's that question that will keep you glued because it does indeed deliver appropriately, consistently. Never watch Symphogear for its story. That's a dumb idea. You wouldn't watch Nichijou for it's plot, and you wouldn't say Death Note is terrible because of it's lack of comedy. You watch Nichijou to roll around laughing because that's what it was meant to do, and you watch Death Note for a serious supernatural mystery. Much like them, you watch Symphogear to watch a peppy teenager punch things so hard they burst into flames, when they entirely have no reason to burst into flames, they only burst into flames because it looks cool. Overall: 8/10 Honestly, I covered the biggest reason in Effectiveness, but I'll recap once more. Symphogear is a fun show. Nothing more, nothing less. If you expect anything that isn't a fun, over-the-top action show, then you're watching the wrong anime. It will deliver greatness to your eyeballs in the form of giant piles of hype, so long as you're in the mindset to accept that that's what the show is like.
    • Roxeg -
      Kotoura-San / The troubled life of Miss Kotoura

      It's one of the first anime I ever watched. It really stayed inside me for a good while after so many years. My favourite character is Manabe-kun, which is ridiculously funny in my opinion. The story is also quite touching, and even if it's supernatural, it can defnintely be worth watching to learn one or two life lessons. <br> Not only that, but I also find common traits between Haruka and myself (though which ones are a secret), with this in mind, very empathic people might very well enjoy this anime.
    • awesomedude20 -
      Darling in the FranXX

      Darling in the FranXX. I was hype as hell for this anime, WAY before anyone else had even begun paying attention to it. And honestly, for the vast majority of the anime, I really enjoyed it. It was well written, with an interesting setting and characters, and the action was exactly up to par with Trigger quality. And then the last 5 episodes attacked. Spoilers past here, btw. Summar-Oh it's right up there, nevermind. <br> <br> Story: 6/10 <br> Initially, this anime absolutely lived up to my expectations. It had an interesting world with a diverse cast of characters, and coupled with its crazy over the top action scenes and great art design, I was quite hooked. I wanted to see what this world had to offer, and what the main characters would go through to reach whatever the end point of this anime was. Unfortunately however, for whatever sillystrange reason, the director seemed to have been hit by a bus and thrown off a cliff suddenly, because the last 5 episodes were an absolute trainwreck, so monumental that it broke almost the entire show. If we ignore these last 5 episodes, I'd give the story a solid 8, maybe 8.5! But the ending hurt the show so irreparably, I can only drop it down to a 6. In MAL lingo, this means "fine." The only reason the score isn't lower than a 6, is because I can't ignore the good stuff the show did either. The ending soured the total experience, but it does have some good moments. Episode 19 was an entirely unneeded flashback episode. The show had, up to that point, been doing great with its "show don't tell" methods, and then suddenly, BAM, flashback episode. It revealed dumb motives and reasonings for a lot of things in the show, and wasn't the least bit creative about it, not to mention forming plotholes and yadda yadda, it wasn't good. But it wasn't a dealbreaker. The dealbreaker happens when they suddenly junk the big looming bad guys and airdrop in ALIENS that want to TAKE OVER THE WORLD for REASONS! And the bad guys you've been fighting this whole time are actually HUMANS and they'll help you fight the ALIENS NOW! And then they throw out a ton of character development just to make 002 have some new conflict. "Oh no, you need to stay human, you can't be with me!" That came out of nowhere, and was just a terrible decision. The resolution of the story was more or less a big compilation of badly-done nods to famous mecha series, and overall just fell flat on its face. It referenced Gunbuster and Diebuster, Evangelion, and Gurren Lagann, maybe some others, and it did NONE of them as well as the originals did. I would also just quickly like to point out that the show made Red Strelizia a thing, and it never showed up again, nor did anyone ever talk about it again. If we had to look at just the last 5 episodes of story, I'd give it a 2/10. Characters: 6.5/10 It still went downhill with the last 5 episodes, but less-so than other chunks of this review. Initially, the characters were quite good. Some of the side characters were unfortunately left in the dust as far as development goes, but some got a TON of development. The main duo of Hiro and 002 was good up until the finale, where due to many many circumstances, I just stopped giving a damn about them. The good side characters however, were much more enjoyable to watch. The entire scenario of them surviving on Earth was quite good, and how they rebuilt their lives during the last 5 episodes. That was the sole thing that kept me tied to the show at that point, excluding finishing it out of obligation because "I've seen this much, might as well." The side romance was nice to watch, and was the only thing I actually truly enjoyed watching out of the last chunk. Many side characters were left in the dust though unfortunately, some either getting one episode of development, or none at all, and some of them being forced into being important at one point or another. The development of characters overall was not a smooth ride, at all, though it wasn't rough for any particular character. They were just ALL developed at different levels and were eventually left nowhere near eachother. Art & Animation: 7/10 The art and animation overall went from very passable, to REALLY good. It's odd since it seemed like some episodes looked MUCH nicer than others did, but overall, the art was quite pleasing on the ol' eyeballs. The fight animation was top notch, well choreographed, and just generally HYPE. As expected of Studio Trigger. "But awesomedude, you're praising it an awful lot for just giving it a 7.5!" Well that's because the last 5 episodes struck a second time. They went to space. Want to know what that means? You get to use ALL of the animation shortcuts! Not to mention they even replaced all the variously coloured and unique FranXX we've gotten to know throughout the show with the generic grey and orange ones that the non-special people use, complete with all of them having the exact same lackluster boring halberd weapon. What little action they got, was extremely choppy, and even during a few moments, entirely CGI. The show had otherwise never used CGI for its mechs before, so this was rather out of place. But space action isn't complete without lasers, right! Well, all they did was shoot into the distance and have purple circles appear. That's it. It's even worse when BigStrelizia fired its horn laser and then we watch as the camera zooms WAY out and we can watch all SORTS of tiny, tiny, tiny circles appear around the laser. It does this a number of times, and it isn't even limited to the horn laser. Lots of things do it. It got INCREDIBLY lazy during the last 5 episodes, and it severely impacted what made the previous action scenes of the show so entertaining. The finale of the show was also just Gurren Lagann done really really badly, with a touch of Gunbuster. The one moment that could have, and should have looked excellent, they also threw out the window. There was ONE moment, where Strelizia burst out in a radiant golden form and it looked great and was well animated, but that lasted all of 5 seconds, before they blew up a planet and it was literally a bunch of slowly expanding .png images rotating on top of eachother. Look closely, that's all it was. Once again, the last 5 episodes chunked the total score pretty hard, if we exclude the last 5 episodes I'd put the score at a 9/10, and if we only look at the last 5 episodes, a 3/10. Music & Sound: 8/10 The musical score was very good, and had a very unique feel to it. I'd say I'd even be tempted to download it, but I probably won't just out of laziness. The music fit the scenes well, there was an appropriate track for every occasion, and overall I have no quarrels with it. All of this extends to the use of sound effects and voice acting as well. The characters were acted very well across the board, though Goro sounded rather funny in the last or second last episode, I forget which. Effectiveness: 3/10 The effectiveness section always raises some eyebrows at first, but really it just looks at whether a show did what it was trying to do well or not. And FranXX, being what it was, is a show that tried to lead up to an epic climax after slowly building up its world and characters. But gosh darn, I gotta say, it's really tough to give a good score when the culmination of an entire show's worth of effort leads to an extremely lackluster homage to mecha series that all did their various things 10x better, eventually leaving me not giving a singular crap about the two most important characters. Not to mention, the show had a bit of an identity crisis throughout. Does it want to be a pure hype action show? A character driven drama? A space opera? Who knows, it was a mixed bag, and that wasn't exactly a good thing. A lot of people called issue with the show's many blatant sexual tones, but this was, believe it or not, actually a strong point. They all tied in with the themes of the show, and some were even quite smart, like putting an X and a Y on the uniforms of the female and male students respectively. X and Y chromosomes. Get it. Google it if you don't. Overall: 6/10 I can't give FranXX a lower score, because I can't just forget that I DID really enjoy the first majority. But the ending ruined the entire show for me either way, simply leaving a bitter taste behind as I wonder how a show could possibly fall apart so quickly, and why it happened. It had great music and (mostly) great animation, and overall passed as an action show for a while, but it tried to go too deep, and it when it left, well, go watch Made in Abyss, it's not pretty what happens when you try to get out of going too deep. Overall, I don't think I'd ever recommend this anime to anyone, there are simply better alternatives. And if they've already seen those alternatives, it'll be tough to wrench any enjoyment out of this one with the state of the ending. Its tough to turn people away though, as the first 18 episodes are genuinely pretty great, with a few iffy episodes amidst, but not a big problem. If you're a fan of romance anime, there are better romance anime. If you're a fan of action anime, this one could serve you some fun until the finale. If you're a fan of mecha anime, maybe the same reason as action, but if you've seen Gurren Lagann, don't expect this to win.
    • Wedgy -
      Wolf's Rain

      Wolf’s Rain takes place in the dystopian future in which wolves are considered mythical creatures, long since extinct by the hands of hunters. However, the truth is, wolves are very much alive, and are able to hide in plain sight thanks to their ability to transform into humans. They are all gripped by an instinctive urge to search for a place called Paradise, a sanctuary from the end times which can only be found by wolves who follow the scent of lunar flowers. The anime follows Kiba, a lone white wolf who is drawn to Freeze City by this aroma, as well as the other wolves he meets there. The plot is fairly straightforward, and ultimately, the series seems to focus more on the world rather than being character-centric. To its credit, however, the characters are introduced via a basic archetype, and are later fleshed out as the anime moves forward. Most of the characters appearing in Wolf’s Rain are animals, but even the human characters learn to overcome their struggles. The wolves face despair, mistrust, doubt, and even wonder if finding their promised land is worth losing their identities. The humans in the story are plagued with facing reality versus accepting comforting lies, living in denial, and learning their self-worth. The anime relies on the viewer paying attention to details, as just about everything that happens narratively is explained through action and dialogue, with very minimal exposition. Personally, I find this to be a good thing when an anime doesn’t have to handhold to point out when something important happens. In fact, there is a lot more subliminal allegory going on under the surface which references not only religion, but animal symbolism and various philosophies. It’s all very subtle metaphor, however, and while the writing clearly doesn’t expect you to dive too deeply into that side of it to enjoy the story, you may find it much more profound if you recognise these themes. Wolf’s Rain has only one glaring problem, but thankfully it isn’t incredibly detrimental. There are four recap episodes in the middle of the series which feel completely useless. This perhaps can be blamed on a lapse in airtime, but it could have easily been avoided by simply re-airing the first half of the series on the network before showing the next set of episodes, if they were worried about the audience forgetting what had happened up until that point. This doesn’t take away much these days, since you’re probably either streaming it or watching it on discs, so these episodes you can simply skip over if you wanted to. Overall, Wolf’s Rain is refreshingly different, and while controversial at times, resonates a captivating emotional hold over the viewer. Everything from the gorgeous artwork and beautiful soundtrack to the powerful and dramatic ending points back to how much faith studio BONES had in this anime. It will make you cry, and I can’t guarantee you’ll like it, but it cannot be denied that Wolf’s Rain represents a very unique niche in the fantasy genre.
    • Beocat -
      Recovery of an MMO Junkie

      As a romantic comedy, this anime delivers heavily on romantic tension and situational humor.  The premesis is interesting and the characters are endearing.  While the MMO is a central part of the story, it really is more of a means to an end.  If you are looking for an anime that is heavily set within a video game type of setting, this wouldn't work for you.  Instead, it is where all the characters meet and the real action occurs outside in the real world.  The comedy thankfully doesn't solely rely on embarrassing situations between the two main protagonists.  The side characters have their own nuances and personalities that play heavily into the comedy.    Both main protagonists have situations that they have had to deal with and I think that most adults have gone through a period in their life where they either chose to be a NEET for a time or considered the possibility.  I think that it also shows a fairly good picture of the allure that MMORPGs have from a social aspect.    Unfortunately, at this point in time, the author of the source material is still in recovery from an illness and thus a continuation of the series has not been announced.  Still, the series has a good start, and if the author recovers, I'm sure that the series will pick up where it left off and do well.
    • Wedgy -
      Sword Art Online

      I said I never would, owing to an equal part having already seen dot.Hack (and not enjoying it very much, mind) and part lack of interest in the series as a whole. But, despite this, I got curious enough to give it a chance, just to say I did. I understand SAO is currently a widely popular anime at the moment, and I wanted to dip my toes in just to see what all the fuss was about. So, this weekend, I watched the Aincrad arc of Sword Art Online, and three episodes of ALO. Up front I just want to make two points. First, I’m not at all criticising anybody who happens to like this series. If it’s your dig, then by all means go ahead and like it. I’m only here to explain why I absolutely couldn’t stand it, and was force to quit watching about sixteen episodes in. Second, there will be some shameless spoilers, so hopefully, you’ve at least watched the entire first season of SAO before you read what I’m about to dish out here. So let’s get into the meat of things, starting with the sense of structure to this anime. Arguably the most exciting thing about SAO was its its premise. It opened up strong, with building tension and the introduction of a grim setting in which death was a real possibility. But quickly as it started, it forsakes the potential to be a thrilling and action-filled adventure and instead cuts to this series of pointless side-stories. You quickly lose that feeling of tension that comes with the promise of a high-stakes death game the same moment some random little girl gets a whole episode of fanservice for no reason at all. Any excitement I might have had to find out how everybody would work together to get out of this is quickly disillusioned by the discovery that the main character doesn’t even appear to want to do that. By the time Asuna and Kirito decide to go ahead and form a relationship, things go off track again from the whole death-game scenario where, out of seemingly nowhere, they just decide to run away into the woods, get married, and raise a kid. When the plot finally comes back into focus, it’s like waking up from a nap. Oh, there was a story here? We’d best polish that off, yeah? It’s like the author just got tired of writing it and wanted to wrap things up as soon as possible. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. Kirito is the very embodiment of a fourteen year old boy’s fulfilment fantasy. He acts cool. He talks cool. He dresses cool. He’s the strongest swordsman to ever grace the world of online gaming, and every girl he meets instantly falls in love with him. Kirito is the textbook definition of a Gary Stu. He has no discernible personality traits, his motivations are unclear and don’t make any sense, and he never faces penalties or consequences that would otherwise strengthen his character. He is almost exactly the same character from start to finish and manages to retain all of his unlikeable personality traits throughout.  The first display of emotion we see from Kirito amounts to letting some random blue-haired dude die (and are we going to ignore how he refused healing? More on that further on.) The other people in this raid group watch as this happen, and come to the totally logical™ conclusion that everything can be blamed on the beta testers because they are all a bunch of cheaters. Kirito’s reaction to this not only completely defies the very limited extent of his personality, but makes absolutely no sense at all in any context of this situation whatsoever. He fails to defend himself and instead declares that he is the worst of them. This consequently results in a spiralling path of anime angst that never seems to improve, because Kirito almost entirely lacks the ability to communicate with other people. He even goes on a date with Asuna and manages only to look severely annoyed by everything going on around him. His entire character arc seems to revolve around learning how to be concerned about anyone but himself, and developing feelings for Asuna serves as the only thing that motivates him to do anything at all. Early on in the series, Kirito decides to break away from his loner attitude, and join a guild. Due to the animosity that he created entirely of his own doing, he decides that since people will hate him because of his absurdly higher level, he decides to hide it. Conveniently ignoring the fact that in any MMO ever this is impossible to do, Kirito decides to wear his self-title of “Beater” in order to cheat his way to victory like he told everyone he’d do help out this low-level guild. As it turns out, this didn’t work like he expected, and everyone in the guild died as a result of him hiding his knowledge of what was going on and failed to warn them of the imminent danger. Save of course for the GM, who later committed suppuku right in front of him because all of his IRL friends were dead. This in turn transitions into another episode of angst that appears to hint toward some actual character development for Kirito. Could it be? I’m going to have to say no to that, I’m afraid.  Later on, we see Kirito and Asuna in a high level dungeon in which a raid group zerg-rushes the boss room and proceeds to get their faces bashed in. He rushes in to “help” alongside Klein and Asuna, and only after letting several of them die does he realise he needs to use his previously unmentioned secret skill: Dual Wielding. The excuse for hiding this ability from everyone- including his closest friends- was that “everyone would think he was a cheater.” But wait! Isn’t he supposed to be? Did he not deem himself the de facto “Beater” of SAO? Everyone seemed to forgive him well enough after explaining that he didn’t know how or when he earned it, so why would he have any reason to hide it in the first place? This proves that not only did Kirito learn sweet Fanny Adams from the last time he withheld information and people died, but after dispatching the boss immediately after revealing it, we are afforded the information here that the only thing standing between himself and the next best player is how much he manages to limit himself. Kirito is so stupidly overpowered that any action scenes that occur in the anime are lacking what made the whole premise of this anime exciting: tension. His sheer power level in comparison to everything and everyone else around him robs us of the feeling that Kirito will ever encounter a dangerous situation. There is a scene in episode four in which Kirito is attacked by seven other players all at once, and none of them can so much as scratch him. The anime almost seems to be a parody of itself when it explicitly points out the fact that a high level player such as Kirito would be on the upper levels actually contributing to the effort to end the game, and wouldn’t be down on the lower levels dicking around, which is exactly what he is doing for almost the entire arc. From the standpoint of an MMO player, seeing how little time he spends in zones that would yield him meaningful XP suggests that the only explanation for his level is that the levelling system in the SAO world is so poorly designed that you can kill something forty levels below you and still somehow level up faster than players fighting mobs of their own level… which leads me to my next gripe. It’s obvious by now- owing to there being no concrete explanation of what, exactly, Kirito spent his time doing to achieve his level- that he did nothing special to achieve it. So why, out of ten thousand players trapped in the game, is a fourteen year old boy who goes against the grain by playing an MMO solo, supposedly the strongest out of them all? Why are there so many of them who have no previous MMO experience? Why would so many go out and buy this expensive headgear, only to wait in line overnight to be one of the lucky ten thousand players to buy the game first if you’ve never played a game at all like it? Surely at least half of them have some experience? If you’ve ever played a video game in your life, you may recognise that it usually only takes about a day or so to learn the ropes, at most. By the first time skip, we find ourselves at about a month into the game, and very few players seem to have even the slightest grasp of how the game even functions, and nobody has even penetrated the first boss yet. Once again, the anime seems to forget its own identity. In a game which literally means life or death, would it be unreasonable to think that maybe, just maybe, everyone would be learning everything they possibly could about the game in order to survive? There is even a moment in which it is pointed out that some haven’t even read the manual yet. Have they all just given up? Even Yui can confirm this- out of ten thousand people, supposedly the only happy ones she's ever heard of were Asuna and Kirito (my eyes rolled so hard I swear I saw my frontal lobe.) Clearly everyone is gripped by melancholy and hopelessness in SAO, probably because they are all a bunch of idiots.  And I mean that. We can use our knowledge of actual MMO games and what takes place in SAO to determine that the general player base can only be comprised of complete and utter boneheads. That, and, the MMO itself sucks eggs. An MMO is an MMO because when you want to clear dungeons and raids and/or battlegrounds or whatever the game has to offer, you have to party up and work as a team to do so. Endgame bosses will always outlevel the player, possess massive healthpools, and pose a threat to even a team of ten or more players taking it on if they don’t come at it with some semblance of strategy. Generally speaking, in an MMO you have three types of roles that need to all be sufficiently performed in order to conquer PvE challenges: tanks, heals/supports, and DPS. The tanks have high defensive abilities and keep the bosses attention whilst the DPS maintain damage, and the heals/supports focus on keeping the team alive. If a fourteen year old boy can ignore all of these basic and staple mechanics and solo the entire game, even the late game bosses, then that can only mean one thing- SAO is an easy game, and everyone else is terrible at it. It especially bothers me that SAO seems to lack a class system, and the only system remotely resembling a combat meta is an unexplained ‘switch’ mechanic. Boss fights seem to be handled in a manner in which everyone just sort of rushes the boss all at once. Please tell me again why so many people hurried out to purchase this ‘revolutionary’ game? Personally, I would be disappointed by the E3 announcement. I digress. In the first episode, Kirito explains that ‘one sword can take you anywhere you need to go’ or some such line of crap to demonstrate that he’s a hotshot solo player. Yet, in the very next episode, Kirito tells Asuna that she’s going to be a very strong player, and advises her to join a guild. What? Once again, it is totally unclear how Kirito actually feels toward his own method of play style. Throughout the entire series he maintains that he’s exclusively a solo player, parties up a few times, intervenes to save players he doesn’t even like, joins two guilds, even admits that there are limits to what he can accomplish as a solo player, and then eventually kills the final boss on his own. The consistency here is nowhere to be found. There is no sense of progress being made between episodes two and seven. I want to say nothing ever seems to happen unless Asuna is involved. Asuna is the only thing I feel SAO has even going for it. She is the only character who shows any sort of development at all. When we first meet her, she’s a newbie to the game. She’s freaked out, scared, and just wants to learn what she can and just get it over with. That she treats Kirito with appropriate animosity when he parties with her based only on the idea that they are both loners makes sense in that context. Two years later finds her at the helm of a top guild, commanding the front lines, and being such a strong player that she is well-known within the game as “Lightning Flash Asuna.” She has come a long way, and you can tell she’s worked hard for it. She’s notably more at ease with things and has solid expectations of herself clearing the final level and making it out of the game alive. She has the same resolve and motivations we might expect out of a main protagonist, and it had me wondering more than once why Asuna wasn’t the main character to begin with. Unfortunately, not even she is safe from the anime’s insistence that Kirito is the most badass character of them all. In episode eight, we get to see a glimmer of humanity in Kirito when Asuna invites him to her house to cook an S-class rabbit material he found. Things are actually going quite swell and you can tell that the two share some chemistry. This was all ruined in the very next scene when they agree to hit the dungeon together and Asuna falls out of a portal and into a bag of trashy anime tropes. After groping her boob for a full minute as if he somehow thought a boob felt like anything else, the two have a classic blush-and-slap moment and make to carry on when they are stopped by Sir Douchebag who insists that he has a say in where Asuna goes and what she does.  While Asuna should be more than capable of speaking for herself in this situation, it is Kirito who decides to step in and challenge Sir Douchebag to a duel in order to determine where Asuna’s liberties lie. At this point in the anime, by all her rights Asuna ought to be far stronger than Kirito considering where she spends her time (as in, not fooling around in low-level zones.) Yet, she proceeds to hide behind her new boyfriend. I can understand if she might be afraid of something like a spider, or a ghost, or even a mouse, but that she isn’t even allowed to defend her honour against an opponent who is so plainly inferior to her is downright insulting to her character and totally asinine.  This contradicts every effort the anime has made to build her up as a strong and self-sufficient character. In episode ten, Sir Douchebag pulls a fast one on Kirito (who by the way, joined her guild after losing a duel to determine once again what Asuna was and was not allowed to do,) and nearly kills him. Asuna notices something is wrong and comes to the rescue. When she can’t bring herself to deal the final blow, Kirito magically overcomes his paralysis through sheer willpower and saves her instead, destroying any chance of cashing in on her promise to protect him for once. This happens again in episode thirteen when Asuna pulls off her very own ‘I’m the main character what rules are you talking about’ move and saves Kirito from a deathblow, only for Kirito to one-up her once again and die anyway so he can show off the fact that he is so awesome he can’t even stay dead like the rest of those peasants. There was a plot hole that was established when Kirito killed rebel Santa only to discover that someone can be revived thirty seconds after death, which means there is a window of about thirty seconds between in-game death and when the nerve gear microwaves your brain. If Kirito knew this, then why didn't he go super Saiyan like he did every other boss and end the game before Asuna’s time was up? That it was only Kirito who got angry enough to revive himself and deal the final blow was the most WTF of the cherries on top of the tackiest anime ending I’ve ever watched. As for ALO, I don’t have a lot to say about it, because it was somehow worse than Aincrad, and I couldn’t even stomach the first three episodes. But I’ll include my brief impressions on it because, why not. Once again, Kirito finds himself inside of a game following a rumour that Asuna is trapped inside of it. He’s still overpowered for some reason or another despite knowing before he even entered that he couldn’t just outlevel everything. But, who cares, we’ve already come this far, what’s the worst that could happen? And then he meets Leafa. The cringefest begins when he decides to rescue her with his superior newbie skills even though he literally just started the game five minutes ago. Like all of the other girls in this series before her, she falls head over heels for him and becomes obsessed. Right away we know that this poor girl is going to have her dreams crushed eventually, because Kirito is on a quest to rescue his waifu. But then things get weird and frankly a little uncomfortable when we learn, almost right after her character is introduced, that Leafa is actually his sister Suguha. So what is the point of this plot twist if we see it coming from the beginning? It’s boring and frankly dumb. Not to mention that Kazuto's avatar looks almost exactly like him IRL, he uses the same voice, and same mannerisms. She's got to be a special kind of stupid for not recognising her own cousinbrother right away. Nevermind that. It's too much of a headache. I’m going to tell you exactly why and what caused me to nope out of here. The reason Kirito entered ALO in the first place was because of some story (which made no sense on its own,) about how a screenshot was taken of a birdcage near the upper levels of what I assume is Yggdrassil. Zoom. Enhance.™ - “Hey that kinda looks like my girlfriend.” So here we are. I didn’t think it was possible to ruin so much in one short scene, but sure as dammit this anime pulled it off. After spending an entire arc building up her character to be strong and admirable, Asuna is once again disrespected entirely and put into a birdcage like a fragile little princess and I can only assume she spends the entirety of the arc waiting for her knight in that cool, black armour to come save her whilst she is sexually assaulted by the mascot of rape culture. I stopped watching here because I did not want to sit through eleven episodes watching Asuna being molested. That somehow this was portrayed as erotic in an anime aimed at young teen boys both disgusted and offended me to the point that I actually felt sick. So there you have it, folks. I watched SAO. Whether or not I wasted my time is debatable, but at least I can say I did it. 
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