Posts from September 2012

Zero Fill

Battles have all the subtlety of throwing a super sentai squad and some fireworks into a washing machine and hitting 'spin'

In Accel World's jargon Zero Fill is when, due to lack of willpower, the signal transmitted to an avatar is reduced to zeros only. A fitting analogy for a series which, despite some promising foundations, an unconventional protagonist and a general high level of visual polish, ends up being brainless and largely unfulfilling.

It's not surprising given how exposition and the script in general is delivered like a kudgel to the forehead. Regardless of ongoing events, be that an all out war or impending attack , meticulous explanations as to what is going on are sure to follow. Combined with the protagonist's ostensibly chivalrous but archaically chauvinistic desire to protect the gaggle of women folk who flock around him, it's not long before genre titans like Bleach and Naruto begin to exert their influence.

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Little birds can remember

Contention follows any Kyoto Animation production; adoration and scorn is heaped upon them as a studio as much as their output (or absence thereof). Hyouka is their next work after Nichijou (or the K-On! movie for chronology purists) and initially drew ire for its glacially sedate pace as well as one of the protagonist's aesthetic similarity to fan favourite Mio.

Following its own tempo, the series is content to plod determinedly along sometimes wallowing in the most pedestrian of storylines while others frolicking through names and motives with little care for foreshadowing or context. Ostensibly this is a mystery show with each case being either a one-shot or stretched out to three episodes or more. The former are the most forgettable and while the latter may comprise the bulk of the series, it isn't until well into the mid teens that characters begin to hit their stride.

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Socrates Art Online

Sword Art Online is the five million selling light novel series by Reki Kawahara (who also penned Accel World) which, having been dutifully animated, is the disputed front runner for most popular series this season. One of the final things female protagonist Asuna says in the latest (tenth) episode, before the cringe-inducing hokum from male lead Kirito, is that she dreamt of the real world and worried that her time in the titual Sword Art Online, would be lost.

reach level 100 and be released from the shackles of this poor simulacra of a world
Having been ceremoniously trapped within the tiered virtual world upon launch, replete with blood red skies and the inflated visage of the lead programmer, it has been almost two years and there have been murumurs of some of the 10,000 original players settling down and starting a life rather than continuing to fight. Asuna's words though brought to mind Plato's fictional dialogue with his teacher Socrates, commonly termed the Allegory of the Cave.

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Yuru Yuri is a post-apocalyptic black comedy

Yuru Yuri is one of the best post-apocalyptic black comedies of recent memory. It's startling how such a bleak and unforgiving situation is afforded fleeting levity by a group of school girls who seem content to ignore such a bad situation.

aliens and androids have been spotted circling the dying planet that is now the Earth
The nameless cataclysm obviously happened some years before the start of the first series and though never mentioned by any of the characters, its lasting effects are plain to see. The Earth we are shown is untainted by bombs or or environmental collapse but instead a complete annihilation of the male species has taken place. Without males the world did not fall immediately to ruin but began a slow decline that the series shows the formative years of.

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Summer lovin'

The formula is all too familar: alien lands on earth, befriends local youth and romantic hijinks ensue. The opening episodes of Asobi ni iku yo! do nothing to tweak this formula beyond adding cat-ears and a tail to the buxom interplanetary interloper. The recent Ano Natsu de Materu at least kept things clean, here the feline Eris is disrobed and in the protagonist's bed within minutes. Seconds later and the domineering childhood friend arrives (how inconvenient!) and the quiet and traditional Japanese beauty follows shortly afterwards.

Those who, somewhat rightly, switch off after those episodes though would be missing what turns out to be a surprisingly entertaining romp through science fiction of old and a locale less travelled: Okinawa.

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