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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 22 October 2019: I am legit stoked about Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld

Alice
The most powerful swords are the ones without blades.

I am counting on reports from the Twitter that the War of Underworld arc of Sword Art Online: Alicization will be mostly Kirito-free for all of the next cours and a third of the final one. Based on how the AIDS "Mother's Rosario" arc and the Gun Gale Online spin-off panned out, I'm expecting to enjoy this quite a bit. For one thing, I already view Alice Synthesis Thirty pretty favorably, even though it's mostly because she sounds like an old sourpuss instead of a teenage girl when she talks, and because I think her armor's yellow and blue color scheme works really well—never mind that I sort of dislike UCLA.

Alice
I wanted to see unattended Coma Kirito fall off Alice's dragon.

After a perfunctory recap episode and two proper episodes of Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of Underworld, the anime seems to be off to a good start. True to SAO form, there sure are a lot of sneering assholes among the various unimportant characters. I'm okay with it, because Lalatina is entirely too resilient for any of these scrubs to fuck with, and I don't really care if random schmucks are dicks to Kirito for no reason. Honestly, I don't even know what War on Underpants War of Underworld is even about (so far it is about playing a Goblin Slayer simulator on easy mode), but it sort of doesn't matter as long as it's at least indirectly about Alice being very yellow. She sure ditched that eye patch rather fast, though.

Dated 4 December 2017: Wake Up, Girls! Shin Shō remembers that Shimada Mayu is first among equals

Shiho and Mayu
In unrelated news, I'm pretty stoked Shiho is in this too.

I can't remember where I first heard Wake Up, Girls! characterized as "failure moé," but the term has stuck with me as a fairly apt way of describing the franchise, notably for its upward swings from being the underdog as the only idol show without a Sunrise affiliation, to achieving solid triumphant moments, including what was reportedly a stunning performance at Anime Expo 2017 in Los Angeles (which I missed). Unfortunately, the current season of the anime, Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter, has fared woefully from an animation standpoint, giving the impression that the WUGs have taken a couple steps backwards. The Yamakan-helmed first season had its own problems at times, but nothing anywhere near this dire. Through seven episodes, extensive use of stills and slow pans turn much of the show into a radio drama, and it's obvious quite a bit of daylight separates reality and desire when it comes to production efforts. Problems plague even the official subtitles, which continue to display an incorrect name for one of the main characters in the opening credits even now.

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Dated 14 August 2017: I'd be more inclined to watch Fate/Apocrypha if it weren't so much work

Mordred
You can't tell from a still, but Mordred has, like, mecha armor.

Experts predict that at the current rate of growth, all anime will be Fate/stay night by 2062. There is, shall we say, at lot of Fate anime. Besides the first television series in 2006, there is the Unlimited Blade Works movie from 2010, the Fate/Zero anime from 2011-12, the Unlimited Blade Works series from 2014-15, the Fate/Grand Order: First Order movie from 2016, and Fate/Extra coming in 2018. This doesn't even count Carnival Phantasm or anything else I might have overlooked. One does not explicitly need to watch all the other Fate/stay night properties in order to watch Fate/Apocrypha, but I think it's sort of expected a fan will make at least a token effort before attempting a 25-episode Netflix binge once it becomes available.

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Dated 22 May 2017: Only one character remains on the Saekano balance beam

Megumi
The face of a Best Girl trapped in a harem comedy with a loathsome protagonist.

Despite some very questionable components, I liked the first season of Saekano a decent amount. Unfortunately, its Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata♭ sequel (How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend Flat) isn't working for me. All of the problems I have with the show were present during the first season, but either the execution was better or I was simply more willing to accept its shortcomings, something I acknowledged when I blogged about it. Ultimately, it's Potato-kun being a shitbag and the show's proselytization of the Otaku Virtues that kill my enthusiasm for Saekano Flat. These are the sort of bits that can sort of work from a meta perspective when lightly used, but the heavier a show relies on these tropes, the less meta it feels and the more bona fide it becomes. And then you just end up with regular ol' tsundere bullshit and a harem comedy gravity well which pulls inversely proportional to its hold on reality.

Utaha
I bet those boxes are empty.

What I'm left with is loathing for Potato-kun and open disdain for every other character on the show with the sole exception of Megumi, who has rocketed so far ahead in the show's Best Girl standings that she can almost assuredly boat race the rest of the competition from here on out. And this is nearly entirely a consequence of her (thus far, through six episodes and one pool-romp prologue) refusal to go along with Tomoya's high-intensity idiocy. That said, I'm still not quite as hostile to the show as these couple of paragraphs might suggest, so it's not as if I intend to drop it. I'm just disappointed Saekano Flat keeps tumbling into avoidable pitfalls. The show is unworthy of its animation and its Misaki Kurehito superlovely character designs. I guess it does deserve the glare of displeased long-hair Megumi, though.

Dated 29 September 2015: Chaos Dragon would have been better as a documentary

Ulrica and Meryl
I don't know why Ulrica has wings on her boobs,
but they're probably for generating downforce.

I'm tempted to describe Chaos Dragon as the broth of too many cooks, but I'm not quite optimistic enough to believe that. More likely it's just your regular ol' half-assed train wreck. As I understand it (and certainly do not rely on my impressions as the truth, garnered as they were from the rumor and conjecture of various secondary sources), Chaos Dragon is an anime adaptation of a real-world Red Dragon role-playing game campaigned by esteemed writers and directors including Nasu Kinoko (Fate/stay night), Narita Ryohgo (Durarara!!!), and Urobuchi Gen (Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magika). The actual anime itself is incoherent and frankly terrible in wholly unremarkable ways. I have no interest in the lead character, Ibuki, and never agreed there was a good reason to make this kid king. I also didn't care about that nonsense about the Red Dragon's powers, or killing suicidal friends, and definitely not the bewildering responses to news about his sister.

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Dated 7 January 2014: 2013 Girl of the Year

Hajime
As always, no wagering.

I started these Girl of the Year awards in 2009 mostly as a goof. Then I kept doing doing it every year and now I can't stop. Can I still pass judgment in a fair and balanced manner even though I watched relatively few shows in 2013? What if I refuse to accept nominations for girls from shows I haven't seen? Not to worry. This contest has always been rigged. Actually, it's not so much a competition as it is an exhibition.

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