chaostangent

Posts with the “humanity” tag

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A review of the first Log Horizon series

Read other peoples’ reviews of Log Horizon and a pattern emerges, whereby your enjoyment of the series seems predicated on your level of involvement with MMORPGs and by how much you want an anime series to capture the feelings they invoke. So on the one hand you have those who have played since the heady pioneering days of Ultima Online and Everquest and have moved past the day to day minutiae of MMO activities with an elevated focus on community and meta aspects to the experience. On the other, you have those who seek the thrill of loot, of building one’s character, min-maxing and optimising and savouring the Pavlovian new-level ping.

that knowing sense of daftness when a samurai takes down a boar ten times his size, or when a griffin tries to eat Naotsugu’s head

Log Horizon contains characters from that entire spectrum but as a series, favours the former over the latter. The concept of characters becoming trapped within an MMO is definitely not unique but its approach to telling a story within that structure is. Perhaps most crucially though is that the series seems to understand which core tenets of MMOs make a good story rather than doing the opposite trying to apply a story to an MMO.

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A reckless disregard for punctuation

A review of the first season of Aldnoah Zero

Gen Urobuchi has stated unequivocally that he had nothing to do with the ending of Aldnoah Zero. Washed his hands of it. So done. Once you see it, it’s easy enough to see why: divisive, to the point where it overshadows the rest of the series that, when all’s said and done, is entertaining but shallow.

imprisoned by gunmetal grey military vessels and featureless wastelands

It treads in familiar footsteps with its concept: mankind divided, the Earth threatened, a war fomented. A force with vastly superior technology attacks an unprepared populace, oh the humanity. This isn’t anything that you haven’t already seen before in numerous other mecha shows and, depending on the breadth of your experience with that genre, done better.

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Maneater

A review of the first series of Tokyo Ghoul

The first thing that will probably strike you about Tokyo Ghoul is the opening. It’s a visually stunning minute and half that blends together vast, impossible skyscapes with cracked glass and twisted reflections of the main cast. It establishes this as a series about duality, about masks and, most of all, about the nature of monsters.

That opening is attached to the second episode and had I baulked at the first episodes’ unrelenting viciousness, I would have missed out on what turned out to be a supremely rich and entertaining series. It definitely isn’t my usual fare. Primarily because of that misanthropic sadism that is more or less the entirety of the opening episodes, reminding me far too keenly of clunkers like Elfen Lied or Brynhildr in the Darkness. Make no mistake though, this isn’t just self-indulgent gruesome violence, it has a purpose that goes miles beyond trying to make the series edgy and “adult”.

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Savage

A review of the first Attack on Titan anime series

First released: April 2013
Version reviewed: TV

I’m going to jump right to it and say that I enjoyed the first series of Attack on Titan.

With that out of the way: the dilemma when talking about something as popular as Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) is that at a certain point you start talking around it, probably about things that can be prefixed with “fan”: be that art, fiction or just vocalness. This isn’t a problem specifically with the anime itself but that the series became an event. It reached critical mass with hype and viewer numbers meaning that if you watched it and were online at the time it first aired, chances are you were taking part in the grand event that was Attack on Titan rather than just watching the show.

looks like a GI Joe doll mated with an angry Christmas elf

The vociferousness of the series’ fans, depending on your viewpoint, is balanced with those rallying against it. Condemning it along with other popular series (Sword Art Online is a common partner) as “baby’s first anime” or for people who don’t know “good” anime. Reductivism would be the easiest retort: oh these sounds and images being interpreted by my brain regress my intellect? But when it comes down to it, I don’t much care about the intelligence of the gladiators on display, as long as they put on a good show. And, for the most part, Attack on Titan does.

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Player of games

A review of the No Game No Life anime series

There’s a fundamental problem with No Game No Life in that when the series isn’t revelling in the games that form the core of its mythos, it’s chronically dull. Like a lot of series this doesn’t become apparent until well into its run and for NGNL it’s the shift away from minute-to-minute, seat-of-your-pants gaming pugilism towards the “long game” that starts being played.

they’ll pull through and they’ll do it with enough self-knowing swagger and pomposity to make it seem like it was all planned

Rewind though. Young man and even younger girl get transported to a fantasy realm of elves and angels where every conflict is resolved with a game. These games cover the spectrum from cards to chess to video games and are governed by a set of rules outlined by the whimsical child-like deity Tet. As I mentioned in my Mondaiji-tachi review, it’s a well realised world that takes its core conceit to its logical extreme: nothing is contested without a game. This obviously puts our heroes, Sora and Shiro, at the top of the pile because of their impossibly prodigious game playing abilities.

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