[Review] Sword Art Online episode 3; Oil and Water

This is a new idea to you, isn’t it?

If you read my episode 2 rant about how SAO wasn’t taking the darker side of its concept very seriously, you probably watched Sachi talk to Kirito about how scared she was in this episode and thought something like, “Finally, this’ll get that goth to stfu!” I gotta say, I am pretty happy that after the 20-so minutes of ridiculous last week, SAO has finally taken a step back and went “Hey, maybe people could actually be scared of dying.” But I’m not done ranting yet.

Last week we got an episode partly centered on some very idealistic action, and this week we get an entire episode addressing fears connected with being in a life-or-death situation. While I do approve that SAO addressed that, here’s the thing: SAO’s concept has action involved in it for sure, but also a darker side. I would rather get episodes that have both action and realistic concerns rather than one episode for this, then one episode for the other. You know, sometimes it’s best to find a middle ground rather than have this oil-and-water situation going on. Episode 1, which did have both, was pretty good, and I wish they’d go back to that.

 

I haven’t read the light novel, but I think the adaptation failed again, because Sachi’s potential as a character seemed squashed. Sachi was a sad character with a lot of emotion, yet I wasn’t able to feel very sad in this episode. Everything moved too fast. Seriously, shame on you, animation studio adapting SAO. You cannot, you just cannot, introduce a character to do a near-monologue that’s longer than her prior screentime, kill her before the audience has had enough time to be attached to her, and then expect the big tragic ending scene to be as sad as it was supposed to be. If Sachi’s character had been fleshed out for an episode more, I most likely would have cried during when she sang to Kirito from the grave, but with this rushed episode, I at most felt sympathy. I admire what they were aiming for, but that scene just didn’t quite reach it for me.

Still, I liked this episode a lot more than last week’s. Other thoughts… The video game artwork/monster designs were very cool in this episode – with the exception of Nicholas’s major derp face, which is one of those things that you either love or hate. It was nice to see Klein again, who’s gotten a much cooler outfit since the last time we saw him. He’ll definitely be back.

Episode rating: 6 / 10 ( “fine;” it was actually good overall, but I’m taking off a point for rushing Sachi’s character)

Also, these two look alike.

Left: the information broker from this episode.
Right: Smellerbee from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

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[Review] Natsuyuki Rendezvous episode 3

 

Yup, I officially cried during this episode. The first tears of many.

I’m not longer so sure that a relationship with Hazuki would be healthy for Rokka, nor fair to Hazuki. Rokka is nowhere near over Atsushi, and she keeps thinking about him even when she’s with Hazuki, so I don’t think she’s ready for a relationship yet. If she ends up falling for Hazuki because he reminds her of her deceased husband, that would be incredibly unfair, so I hope she can begin to see him for who he is.

 

Meanwhile, Hazuki… Making out with a guy’s wife right in front of him? That’s a pretty indecent thing to do. Then again, the other choice would be to leave Rokka alone because of the gripings of a ghost. Regardless, I can completely understand Atsushi’s rage – I was even hoping that he’d finally be able to do something instead of being a helpless bystander, and yes, he was able to! Let’s just hope he won’t abuse his newfound ghost powers.

We also got to see how Rokka and Atsushi’s relationship was like, which makes it even harder for me to be on Hazuki’s side. Rokka and Atsushi really do have an undying love, but right now, it’s just hurting everyone.

Episode rating: 8 / 10 (Very Good)

[Review] Natsuyuki Rendezvous episode 2

 

I’m not watching every single anime airing this season, so I can’t actually say that Natsuyuki Rendezvous is the best anime of the season, but I’ll bet my opinion wouldn’t change even if I did watch everything, because this episode was even better than the last one, and I thought the last one was a really good start.

We get to hear Rokka’s personal thoughts, which is great because seeing her from only Hazuki’s perspective would likely make her 2-dimensional. (Well, she is 2-dimensional because she’s an anime character, but… you know) She’s not even that old, but she’s so painfully aware of her age. I really wanted to give Rokka a hug.

Literal Cock-blocker

Remember how Hazuki was “Passenger A” for months and then even after being employed, it still took him months to say anything significant to Rokka? I thought he was some shy, awkward guy, but boy, this relationship moved fast! Or, it would have been fast if Atsushi wasn’t literally getting in between them. Still, it was mature and to be expected, though Hazuki’s little move on Rokka before she shooed him out her door was very forward for the character I thought he was!

So close, yet so far away.

Even after two episodes, I’m still not sure which side I’m on as of now. On one hand, there’s Hazuki, a living person who could give Rokka a healthy relationship. His unrequited love tugs at me, but blurting out “I love you” to Rokka as she made him leave was a douche move. Though I’m sure his love for Rokka hasn’t changed, at that moment, his feelings seem very… ingenuine. Cheap. On the other hand, there’s Atsushi, who I both dislike and sympathize for. He says he wants to let his wife move on, but keeps trying to prevent exactly that, which is unfair to both Hazuki and Rokka. Then again, even though I don’t like him, I just can’t hate him when I think about how horrible it must feel to be so close to someone you love, but have no ability to help them or talk to them. Before Rokka falls asleep in this episode, we get a small taste of what Atsushi’s life (or un-life) is like every single day. He talks to Rokka like she can hear him, even though he knows she can’t, and he watches over her while she sleeps since he obviously doesn’t need to, and most tragically, there’s nothing he can do to help her. Imagine how horrible Atsushi must have felt to resort to letting his competitor in love be the one to help Rokka because he simply can’t.

This is a very, very sad anime, that’s for sure.

Episode rating: 9 / 10 (Great)

[First Impression] Natsuyuki Rendezvous episode 1

 

I know I’m very late with this, but I finally got around to watching this anime, and like Sakamichi no Apollon from last season, I can’t forgive myself for not starting it sooner!

What I expected: A bland shoujo anime with flowers blooming unnecessarily all over the screen to attract interest.

What I got: A very bittersweet romance with an interesting love triangle. Also, Hazuki confessed his feelings much earlier than I would have thought!

Since I expected… not so great things from this anime, it’s a given that this episode blew me away. I got way more into it than I thought I would. The love triangle is just so different from anything else I’ve seen, and presently, I’m not even sure whose side I’m on. Both Hazuki’s unrequited love and Atsushi’s (the ghost) literally undying love are both really sweet, and at the same time, so sad. This is really not a typical romance.

I have Van Gogh’s ear for music, but for some reason, the nice soft piano soundtracks in this anime caught my attention, and I love them. They fit the anime’s wistful mood very well. The opening and ending themes are both fantastic as well. I don’t mean to give Natsuyuki Rendezvous so much praise, but out of the animes I’m watching this season, I think it has the best op and ed.

A romantic walk in the rain talking about an ex-husband. Lucky for Hazuki.

There was just one little inconsistency in the anime that I’d like to address: when Rokka and Hazuki share an umbrella in the rain, Rokka starts talking to Hazuki about her ex-husband like Hazuki already knew. It’s true that Hazuki did learn about the marriage from talking to Atsushi himself, but Rokka wouldn’t have known that. With that in mind, Rokka jumping into the topic with Hazuki seems both a little strange and very, very sad – clearly, she’s nowhere near being over her deceased husband. Something tells me I’m going to be crying a lot.

Bottom line, if you like bittersweet romances, you need to take at look at this anime.

Episode rating: 8 / 10 (very good)

Review status: Episodic

[Review] Arcana Famiglia episode 3; I didn’t know this was a Slice of Life anime!

It’s kind of weird that all the characters look so badass, but the storyline is… relatively normal. I mean, the first episode got me all pumped up to see some Arcana power action in the big tournament, but then episodes 2 and 3 switch genres into Slice of Life! The mood, plot, and gags are all very, well, slice of life-y. It’s not that I mind it, but with everyone suited up all the time, I really want to see some action in this anime!

The character development in this episode was fantastic. Now, we can link Butler, Creepy Cyclops, and Hungry Hungry Hippo together (Luca, Debito, Pace), which makes the character cast that much easier to remember. Liberta and Nova get their moments, and now Nova’s not just a broody guy, and Liberta’s not just some kid who can’t control his powers. It’s probably just the hair colors, but they remind me very very very slightly of Sasuke and Naruto. But seriously, I liked the character development in this episode so much that I’ll even go so far as to say it redeemed the terrible character introductions in episode 1.

What was most interesting to me in this ep was the mysterious new kid on the island, Elmo. I liked him immediately, even though it was kinda hard to take him seriously after he said his name was Elmo. The episode ended rather suddenly after he disappeared into the rain, but Mr. Dark Glasses (sorry, forgot his name and too lazy to go look for it) looked up at someone off-shot, so I guess we can assume it was Elmo? Gosh, I wanna know more about this kid than any other character right now. Like, why hasn’t any of the other children seen him around? Why didn’t he join the other kids at the party? Does he have a crush on Felicita? (because it sure seemed like that was what he was talking about with that whole i’ve-never-felt-this-pain-in-my-chest-before talk)

Crossing my fingers for some action next week.

Episode rating: 7 / 10 (Good)