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Dated 28 June 2022: I don't know why I watched Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL

Black Rock Shooter
That's some nice shootin', Rock.

I sure have watched a lot of Black Rock Shooter for someone who claims not to care about Black Rock Shooter at all. I'm not even confident my understanding about Black Rock Shooter in general is even accurate. As far as I know, it is a Hatsune Miku song that was turned into a sort of popular music video, then an OVA, then a 2012 anime written by Okada Mari, and now Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL. I don't even know if Dawn Fall shares continuity with anything that came prior.

Monica
It would have been better if the human characters didn't wear these masks all the time.

What I do know is that Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL was 12 episodes of a grimdark future where there is only war. Well, war and rape. I don't mean this in a metaphorical sense, and I can see why you might think that considering a lot of what happens in the 2012 Black Rock Shooter was allegorical. No, I'm letting you know that a significant plotline in the 2022 anime involves young girls being raped literally to death.

Smiley
Is it better or worse that the rapist is a big freaky robot with limited emotional range?

So, is Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL actually good? Well, mostly not? I don't know if it's better for people who have strong attachments to the franchise. I can't claim I do, although I recognize Dead Master and Strength as characters who were present in previous Black Rock Shooter installments—that sort of thing. And I'm not fundamentally opposed to a series introducing characters, trying to make us care about them, and then having something terrible happen to them. I don't think I'm in favor of sadism, but I can appreciate that a show like this can still exist, and even be associated with an IP people presumably still value. Also, learning this was licensed by Disney was wild.

Dated 16 December 2021: My IBM Model M keyboard is 30 years old

IBM Model M label
This is a weapon of war.

I have a lot of keyboards, but my daily driver is this IBM Model M that I have been using for more than 20 years. It was already a decade old when I acquired it, but it still works just as well (now that it is 30 years old) as when I got it. It is still the best keyboard that I have, although part of that is due to deeply ingrained muscle memory preventing me from regarding any other keyboard as a viable alternative.

IBM Model M 1391401 with 16DEC91 date.
There are many like it, but this one is mine.

In addition to this IBM Model M, I also have one with a blue logo that (I'm pretty sure) I bought from @clickykeyboards to serve as a backup in case something ever happens to my main one. I bought that spare long enough ago that it cost significantly less than what they sell for now. It occurs to me I don't know when that one was made. Possibly it is even older than the one I'm typing on to write this post.

Dated 3 August 2021: The Walther P99, Mireille's pistol in Noir

Walther P99 and Beretta M1934
Size comparison between Mireille's P99, Kirika's M1934, and their respective ammunition.

Complementing Kirika's Beretta M1934 in Noir is Mireille's Walther P99. Walther introduced the P99 in the '90s as a polymer departure from the metal-framed pistols it made previously, such as the P88 and the P5. This made Mireille's firearm relatively modern when Noir aired in 2001. I guess this also makes her the exception to the rule of thumb that allows viewers to judge how dangerous the characters in Noir are by recognizing the inverse relationship between the characters' lethality and the modernity of the weapons they use. Mireille may be out of her league compared with Kirika or Chloe, but she gets by.

Mireille
Mireille might not be as good as Kirika at killing people, but she does dress better.

Fans of Cowboy Bebop may also recognize the Walther P99 as the pistol Jet uses throughout the series. There are probably other anime examples I've overlooked. Certainly, there is no shortage of P99 appearances in live-action TV shows and movies. At a minimum, I know Brosnan-era James Bond adopted it to replace his iconic Walther PPK for a while. (Coincidentally, Bond is also shown with a Beretta M1934 in Dr. No.)

Jet
Cowboy Bebop takes place in 2071, but Jet's old-ass gun
is still newer than the Jericho 941 that Spike uses.

Mireille and Jet would have both carried the first-generation Walther P99, as the second generation did not come out until a few years after their anime aired. Somewhat surprisingly, Walther was still making the P99 as of early 2021 (in Ulm, for people who care about that), although a Wikipedia entry currently claims (without citation) that both it and its 2011 successor, the PPQ, are discontinued now that the PDP is out. That's a shame if the P99 has reached the end of its production, as the PDP is only offered with the American-style magazine release button. Adherents to the European flappy levers will have to look toward Heckler & Koch now, I guess.

Dated 10 November 2020: Beware the man with one gun (this is actually about mechanical keyboards and, arguably, Sword Art Online)

WASD and Ducky TKL keyboards
The Asuna and Alice Synthesis Thirty color schemes are purely coincidental.

The implication behind the saying "beware the man with one gun" is that such a person is more likely to have a higher degree of expertise with it thanks to narrowly focused specialization. In contrast, someone who pursues variety also ends up diluting proficiency. I was reminded of this maxim by this recent sequence of posts on the Twitter wherein a relatively prolific blogger peers into the world of mechanical keyboard acquisition, with mixed results. I mention this because it often seems the acquisition of mechanical keyboards mostly leads to further acquisitions for acquisition's sake.

Asuna and Alice
I said it's a coincidence.

I do encourage the use of mechanical keyboards and believe they improve typing performance, but I concede the marginal benefits drop off quickly if one starts chasing perfection. Nevertheless, I'll admit I have "more than one gun," despite using an IBM Model M (specifically, a Part Number 1391401 built in 1991) as my primary keyboard for literally decades now. I also started exploring mechanical keyboard variations knowing I'll never find a keyboard I like nearly as much as a Model M, let alone one that provides any actual typing advantage, but somehow I've still acquired a probably unnecessary number of them. At least the switches and features in this collection are all different, so the pursuit is not entirely aesthetic. That's the next level which I can at least claim to have avoided.

Dated 24 December 2019: I didn't plan to write back-to-back Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld entries

Yui
Go on, Yui, curse the bitches out.

Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld has a mind of its own. Or at least, Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld is about AIs having minds of their own. Specifically, Alice Synthesis Thirty MacGuffin is the prize AI the bad men are trying to seize because she is a real girl. Never mind that Sword Art Online has had a Real Girl AI almost from the start in the form of Yui, Kirito's and Asuna's adopted daughter. Yui isn't even a secret!

Pope
It's not easy being pope.

For that matter, I'm not sure there's any meaningful distinction between the Underworld AI yahoos and the "real world" regular-ass people. I certainly regard Alice as being every bit as much as a real character as I do, say, Asuna, even though Alice is very yellow. I definitely regarded the pope as being more of a real person than nearly every other Sword Art Online villain (including the current ones). Ultimately, this has a lot less to do with Alice and the pope being AIs than it does with Sword Art Online having lots of terribly written characters—especially when it comes to its villains.

Alice
This reminds me I need to get a new video card.

I'm inclined to believe Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld theoretically could actually have something intelligent to say about artificial intelligence and what makes someone a real person, but any chance it had got undermined by the really awful writing that has plagued the franchise from the beginning. I still find it entertaining, even though Alice is very yellow, but I do wish the franchise would move past its more egregious tropes. The Ordinal Scale movie accomplished this with some success, but it seems to be the exception, not the norm.

Dated 17 December 2019: The war in Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld is not much of a war

Alice
This break in the battle has lasted so long that Alice changed into her pajamas.

It's not particularly sensible to demand accurate war-type stuff in an anime, especially something like Sword Art Online, but they did put War in the title, and they have been building up to this particular conflict for some time. What we've gotten instead is tens of thousands of random schmucks directly facing each other in a narrow canyon making no effort to do anything other than having head-to-head fights. Some people might claim that the battles at least look pretty cool, but that's a concession I'm not willing to make this season, what with Fate/Grand Order: Zettai Majuu Sensen Babylonia raising the bar to ridiculous new levels every week now.

<Divine> Maybe that's just what happens when two sides who don't know what war is given it a try

That's basically it. Now, I'm not unreasonable enough to demand "actually realistic" war in my SAO ~ War Is All Hell ~ anime, but I would have given it a pass without commenting on it had it at least aspired to, say, Strike Witches: War on Underpants levels of realism.

Asuna and Alice
This show is called Alicization, not Asunization, toots.

Now that I've got this bitching out of the way, I guess I can get around to the main point of this post: Spoiling the most recent episode of Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld. So, Asuna finally logs into the AI world and is immediately beset upon by an extremely yellow blur. Everyone eventually calms the fuck down, though. They even listen to the batshit crazy things Asuna tells them. Frankly, I'm impressed they don't even seem irked that she's referring to her own world as the "real world." Yeah, these AIs are living in a computer, but it probably feels pretty real to them. I would be at least a little insulted. On the plus side, at least she isn't being racist about it.

Kirito
Have you tried rebooting the Kirito in the "real world"?

I'm generally pro-Asuna, even though she hasn't fared particularly well as an actual character in Sword Art Online as a franchise. It was also not encouraging to see all the latest members of Kirito's ever-expanding harem butt in for additional deban and to boast about how great their times with him have been. Hopefully, they're getting all of this out of the way now, and maybe the show can go back to leaving him in a wagon somewhere while Alice is off doing very yellow very important things. I'm okay with Asuna coming along too, providing she doesn't spend all her time talking about Kirito.

Dated 10 December 2019: The Beretta M1934, Kirika's pistol in Noir

Noir ED
MiniDiscs are rad, okay.

Fans of Noir, the BeeTrain anime from 2001, probably noticed the inverse relationship between the generally accepted lethality of a weapon and how dangerous its wielder tends to be. For example, a character armed with an expensive SIG Sauer pistol is probably just some flunkie from Soldats who will die faster than a Star Trek redshirt. On the other hand, a tiny Japanese girl armed with her school ID is definitely someone you do not want to fuck with. Like, not even a little bit.

Noir ED recreation
This turned out to be a high-effort post compared to my usual updates.

Despite Kirika's penchant for arming herself with makeshift weapons, her signature firearm is featured prominently throughout the series (likewise, Mireille's pistol). I've always recognized Kirika's gun as a Beretta, but it wasn't until much later that I fully appreciated she wasn't using some double-stacked wondernine, but rather a Model 1934—a small .380 ACP with a seven-round magazine. Also known as the M34, this design predates World War II (although its Wikipedia article claims they remained in production until the early 1990s).

Beretta Model 1934
This doesn't look particularly small in the show because
Kirika is a tiny Japanese girl.

This particular example features a rather stiff trigger and very small sights, which can make accurate shots more challenging for people who aren't Kirika. I already knew she was basically a goddamn witch, but knowing more now about her gun of choice does make her feats even more incredible than I previously understood. I guess during my next Noir re-watch, I should probably see if she ever bothers reloading. Kirika has no qualms about picking up additional weapons when facing multiple adversaries, so it's not as if she's handicapping herself on purpose.

Mireille and Kirika
Mireille is bewildered because this is only the third episode.

In all likelihood, it probably never even occurs to Kirika that she can arm herself with something else. I imagine it also has sentimental value—at least as much as her school ID, anyway. In any case, I don't think she's deliberately showing up her partner. I mean, Mireille is still pretty hot shit, what with picking off rooftop snipers from who-knows-how-damn-far with her Walther P99. It's not Mireille's fault that Kirika's a goddamn witch.

Beretta M34
Ballistics aside, gun-related details are pretty accurate throughout Noir.

This is the second 9x17mm pistol I've featured on this site. (See this Gunslinger Girl post for the first one.) I don't actually intend to turn the world's longest-running English language anime blog into the world's newest anime guns blog, but this does make four featured firearms just this year alone. What's really surprisingly is how little I've written about Noir since my haphazard 2006 transition to WordPress. I should probably at least transfer over the old entries.

Dated 9 July 2019: TO THE ABANDONED SACRED BEASTS AND THEIR ATTORNEYS OF RECORD: PLEASE TAKE NOTICE

Schall
Have gun. Will travel.

The Summer 2019 anime season is upon us. First out the gate is Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e (To the Abandoned Sacred Beasts), an adaptation of an ongoing manga by the author/artist duo known as Maybe. Unlike the manga, the entire first episode and nearly all of the second episode provide background information for the primary characters first. The tail end of the second episode picks up where the first chapter of the manga actually begins, and the preview for episode three at least suggests the show will now be more straightforward about adapting the manga. I generally prefer when an anime isn't bound to its source material scene-for-scene. Being too rigid can be counterproductive from a storytelling perspective simply because anime, manga, and text have different advantages and limitations. You'd think this would be painfully obvious, but anime adaptations fail often enough that I'm genuinely relieved the MAPPA production seems to have put at least a little thought into this.

Hime and Sato
Also a childhood-friend romance.

To be honest, the Katsute Kami Datta Kemono-tachi e manga itself is merely all right. I have purchased all eight volumes currently available from Vertical, and I do enjoy it, but I'm also predisposed to like most of Maybe's work. The mix of seriousness and humor work for me, although the anime probably won't necessarily reproduce the more comic expressions that I enjoy from the manga. Incidentally, I also enjoy Maybe's other ongoing manga, Kekkon Yubiwa Monogatari (Tales of Wedding Rings), a double-isekai harem comedy with plenty of cheesecake and blue balls. The manga has been available via the Crunchyroll's manga jobbie for some time now, but hard copies published by Yen Press are also in print.