Posted by psgels on 10 July 2012 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Hakuouki – Seimei-Roku

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a cute guy.
You know, after watching hordes of bishies in Brave 10, Hiiro no Kakera and Arcana Famiglia, it’s at least good to see some of them with actual emotions, rather than one-dimensional stereotypes who keep repeating their own gimmicks. As much as I dislike Hakuouki, I have to admit that out of the bishie series to come out in the recent year,s, it is the most solid. And I have to admit: in terms of storylines this episode had the best plot of the episodes I’ve seen of it so far. It’s a simple but effective story about being indebted to a bad person and the politics around this were solid enough. And what’s more: the single most annoying character, the female lead, was actually nowhere to be found here, which definitely made things more bearable. Yet, Hakuouki, I miss energy. Try to have some passion, because you’re still really boring to follow: put some effort in your delivery and your atmosphere. Make things seem interesting. There are enough tricks for that, but you hardly use any of them. Is this really going to be the future of the shoujo series? In which the best selling entry isn’t really trying?
OP: A decent singer, albeit still a bit dull.
Potential: 50%

Oda Nobuna no Yabou

Short Synopsis: Our lead character has been sucked into his favorite game world. Please… allow me to believe that…
You know Fate/Zero, in which the creators actually turned the famous King Arthur into a female? That was good! The creators made great use of the mysteries behind King Arthur and they made us believe that this was actually pretty plausible. So seriously, what is up with all these incredibly stupid historic gender reversals? In other words: Odu Nobuna no Yabou is the worst TV-series I have seen from Madhouse in the seven years I have done this blog. Yes, even worse that Kamen no Maid Guy, Stitch and Iron Man. Even these series at least had a premise. Even these works had more dignity than this thing in which it makes a complete mockery of history and keeps throwing in the most useless and annoying jokes and moe cliches. I’m not really sure who it was who got the idea to turn Oda Nobunaga into a typical tsundere, nor the guy who found it a good idea to greenlight this. And the bad thing is that the production values are pretty good. they wasted a wonderful soundtrack from Yasuharu Takanashi and the camera work also is pretty good here.
OP: Another OP that is exactly like all other OPs out there.
Potential: 0%

Sword Art Online

Short Synopsis: Our lead character plays games.
At the start, I just couldn’t help but compare this to .Hack//Sign (one of my favorite series ever) but already quickly into the episode it turned out that the focus of Sword Art Online would be entirely different. Where .Hack focuses on social interactions, this series is more of a thriller, with its emphasis on the combat aspects of an MMORPG. And yeah, this episode was well made: the characters were well acted and this episode did a good job in outlining the overall concept of this series, without playing all of it trumps right at the start (I like how we’re only introduced to two members of the main cast here). The creators also got some really good background artists for this series, so that also definitely is a plus. Perhaps it’s not .Hack//Sign levels and Yuki Kajiura doesn’t really feel like she’s at her best with this series, but as for this being the most solid fantasy of the season? Yeah, pretty much.
ED: Nice animation, but it misses something, plus the song is bland.
Potential: 85%

46 Responses

  1. Avatar Firechick says:

    At first, I planned to watch this only because one of my favorite new seiyuus is in it, but after seeing this episode, I’m definitely going to see it through. And yes, the awesome background art (Rainbows!) and Kajiura’s new soundtrack here also sold me…though I don’t like the vocalist for the opening song. She sounds so weird, like she smoked five Marlboro packs in one day!

    • Avatar meow says:

      Did this episode have an OP? I only noticed the ED credits by Lisa, who btw sang the OP for the 1st season of Fate Zero. I don’t get the Malboro reference. She sounded at least as clear as she did in Oath Sign.

  2. Avatar Juno says:

    I read the first novel and JUST now finished the first episode. To compare, the anime has so far shown us some dramatic display. Intense. That’s how the first few chapters felt to me, as did many later chapters. I’m still worried about the anime condensing the main characters into their generic, stereotypical personality tropes, since they DO touch upon the “soft-spoken, harem main character” trope and “tsundere” female lead… but the novel does a VERY satisfying job of differentiating them from the tropes by their actions. Asuna certainly classifies as a Tsundere, but only on an infrequent basis. To me, she feels more like someone who is kind-hearted and caring, only lashing out on occasion and NOT being completely stubborn and selfish to the point of forgetting rationality. I look up to her character, even.
    And Kirito has quite a bit of development. I definitely see him as a stronger character than I might any other “harem” lead I know of, even if he is still quiet and a loner. At least he’s respectful and far from naive.

    Kajiura Yuki certainly didn’t create a soundtrack for this first episode that differentiates or stands out from her previous works… but I can’t help but feel that it still helped the atmosphere. I hope she gives us some memorable tracks later on. =3

  3. Avatar Cytl says:

    As a fan of the original novels I found this episode quite solid and I’m expecting the things to come to really stand out. I agree that the OST lacked some impact this first episode (except for the scene where Kirito meets Cline), and I also found the opening to be a little lacking. Anyways, I’m already waiting for next week.

    • Avatar Algent says:

      I got the same impression, they put just the right amount of exposition to avoid getting boring.
      The small scene after the OP (This week the OP is the ED) was nicely done too, with the 2k death suddenly announced =3.

      The OST wasn’t that great but they have certainly more than that in stock ^^.

      @psgels: The show is not 95% social like .hack but you probably won’t be let down on that point :).

      • Avatar Cytl says:

        I guess the first big action scene is going to be next episode, it will be probably Kajiura’s time to shine.

  4. Avatar Jzar says:

    I have to say I was very impressed. I know nothing of the novel this is based on but so far it looks to be a very exciting show. I will be following this in the hope that it will be well worth it.

  5. Avatar Taara535 says:

    Based on the first episode, this could be the best series of the season. This was excellent.

  6. Avatar Aquarion old fan says:

    .hack fans as well…gt some same ideas with .hack but this one is indeed better; well because the avatar in SAO is the face of the real character in real life…

  7. Avatar hal says:

    Ironically, I watched the 6th Conan Movie (Phantom of the Baker Street) again on the same day as I watched the first SAO Episode, and found it quite funny, that both SAO and Phantom of the Baker street have exactly the same premise. With the whole “inside a virtual reality and no way out except if you manage to clear the game”.

    I really enjoyed the first SAO Episode. I don’t know the novels, but I’m going to follow this show. I have to admit Kajiura was really unremarkable in this Episode. I hope there will be some awesome tracks later on.

  8. Avatar whawhaat says:

    .hack//sign sucks. you have horrible taste.
    SAO isn’t very good either but at least it’s fun.

    • Avatar Mike says:

      From your comment, your taste isn’t all that great either :P

    • Avatar Algent says:

      You know, people aren’t supposed to adapt their preferences to your tastes.
      So avoid attacking others tastes unless you just want to make everyone here think you are just some random idiot ;).

  9. Avatar Nic says:

    Yeah, it reminded me of .hack for me too pgels. After watching the first episode, it’s pretty clear it’s going to be very different as a series though since .hack had an air of mystery while SAO clears it up from the get-go, allowing it to focus on other elements.

    It has definitely a lot of potential but I hope they don’t focus on combat too much and focus on the characters and their motivations. I expect a few player killers to show up to loot other players’ stuff. Rivalries and developments forcing players to make difficult choices will always be more interesting than watching some fights.

    Can’t tell which direction they’re going for just yet but I’m eager to find out.

    • Avatar meow says:

      One thing about .hack/Sign was how the anime focused only on the game avatars and their interactions in the game world, with very little revealed about things happening in the real world. There was something of an artsy surreality to the storytelling as well. I would not compare .hack/Sign to SOA, which seems simpler and more straightforward. In terms of atmosphere and style, Madlax or maybe Noir would be a better comparison, even though they’re completely different genres. Another thing about .hack/Sign is it was meant to set the stage for and complement the PS2 games. Sign concludes well but was never meant as a standalone.

  10. Avatar meow says:

    The “survival” factor is pretty tension building. You die in the game, you die in real life. If you’ve ever played games before, how many have you ever played where you didn’t “die” at least once, no matter how good you are? And yeah, it’ll be interesting to address the issue of PK-ing when the stakes and consequences are that high.

    I’m also wondering how the story will handle the players’ real bodies. The game doesn’t seem to have time compression like Accel World so people are going to be connected to the game in real-time while their real-life bodies are in a comatose state, getting hungry, tired, degenerating from lack of exercise, perhaps falling ill, etc. It seems in-game food can stop the character from feeling hunger pangs but won’t stop them from dying of thirst or starving to death in real-life, right? Klein look seriously screwed. I wonder if players can somehow make contact with the real world somehow?

    If the game goes on for too long, are there going to be players who retire from the game because their real-life bodies have expired? (Thinks of several scenes from the Matrix.) The .hack series didn’t seem to handle this type of thing well. Players could be physically disconnected from the World somehow while their consciousness remained trapped inside.

    • Avatar boo says:

      The game doesn’t seem to have time compression like Accel World so people are going to be connected to the game in real-time while their real-life bodies are in a comatose state, getting hungry, tired, degenerating from lack of exercise, perhaps falling ill, etc.

      It’s interesting that you bring this up, I don’t know if you noticed but there is an instance were Kirito cuts his finger with paper in rl before going online and after the avatar nullification that paper-cut is back and bleeding.

      • Avatar meow says:

        Yeah but it seems to turn back to normal a moment later. Maybe he was reminded of his earlier wound because his game avatar is now nearly identical to his real body. I lolled at all the players who picked avatars of the opposite sex and now have to dress like those avatars in the game. XD I wonder if there were any players who chose not to use the mirror and get their avatars converted?

        One thing I was curious about was why he felt he had a better chance of success if he went out alone or in a small team to get stronger? I know it’s faster to level up in a smaller team but mobs repopulate. More importantly, for most MMOs I’m aware of, the big bosses are usually so powerful that it usually takes an entire guild to take on for any chance of success. It seems to me like the scarcest resource in the game might be actual player population. If too many die out, there won’t be enough to stand a chance against the final boss in the end.

        • Avatar boo says:

          I think he was more worried about not being able to protect everyone, he was stronger even at lvl 1 because he had played this game before, right? but the rest of the Klein’s old guild just got in. He had some time to train Klein a bit, but aside from the fact that it was probably not enough for Klein to fight on his own without help from Kirito, the others were probably complete newbies themselves as far as the game’s mechanics go and he probably wasn’t confident that he could take on the burden, especially since he was in hurry.

          • Avatar meow says:

            Hm. I guess you’re right. He did seem like a loner type. Maybe he just didn’t know how to work with a group. He looked really sad to part ways with Klein.

    • Avatar Mike says:

      The feelings of hunger felt by players in game is actually something that is caused by the game itself, it’s part of the game mechanic. They won’t die from it, but unless they consume food items on a regular basis they will have to deal with the sensation of hunger.

      As far as real world implication goes, All remaining SAO players were relocated into medical facilities shortly after the announcement by Kayaba, as he had notified the media and police about what’s going on. From that point on it’s really the same as caring for comatose patients, which is really nothing special.

      The technology in SAO is inherently different than the one found in .hack, there is no consciousness entering the digital AI world or anything. The NervGear simply cuts off the motor and sensory link the brain has with the rest of the body, creating an artificial “locked-in syndrome” if you will while it’s active.

      • Avatar meow says:

        Ah, I see. Okay, so that’s how this story can go into multiple volumes.

        • Avatar Juno says:

          Well, it isn’t really apparent from the anime because [SPOILER]

          There are only a few of the novels that explore SAO, and many of those stories are side-stories that take place somewhere in [SPOILER]

          No novel spoilers please
          – psgels

  11. Avatar Lex says:

    Shame there isn’t an MMO like this IRL. It would be so much fun. So so much fun. Sure, death in-game = death IRL might be too harsh, but death should really carry some negative consequence rather than just running as a ghost to your corpse. Maybe pain as deterrent, should suffice. Make it exciting ^^

    • Avatar meow says:

      Aren’t there? I think Hellgate:London had some kind of hardcore mode where death is permanent. I think there are some MMOs that cause you to drop items if you’re killed, which can be looted by other players. You usually lose some experience too. *shrug* I haven’t MMO-ed in years so I’m kinda out of touch.

      • Avatar meow says:

        Btw, I think there’s a PSP adaptation of SOA called Sword Art Online: Infinite Moment coming out. I think it will be a little like the .hack games for PS2.

  12. Avatar Dynellen says:

    You forgot to mention the most important part of Oda. Bouncing bloody breastplate. Who the hell though that one up? ‘let’s make metal breastplate elastic so we can have more fanservice’.

    • Avatar AidanAK47 says:

      Well if you are going to burn down Oda Nobunaga’s respected image you might as well piss on the ashes. The sad thing about it is that this isn’t even the first time Oda Nobunaga has been turned into a woman for fan service purposes.

      • Avatar meow says:

        Probably won’t be the last either. Actually, isn’t there another one airing right now? Sengoku Collection or something…?

        And don’t forget the stuff they do to ROTK. XD

  13. Avatar miguel says:

    Im not even sure that this could be even be considered like a madhouse series, at least not at all, maybe in a 30%, it,s co-produced, about the staff, only the color designer, 1 of 2 animation directors, the SUB-character designer and the color designer im sure that they are internal. The rest of all the cast are from Gokumi: character designer, scripwritter, art director and maybe even the main director.

    And hell, i don,t going to see this series, but worse than Iron man, hell,this it not true,it,s not physically possible, you are comparing a silly unimportant series released in summer ,who has a inexperienced director and a premise with this, hell, if something looks like a duck, sound like a duck it,s a duck. I see it, like something in the veins of needless. it,s more like do you can,t stand the premise because fall too much in something that you really dislike,(it,s your opinion after all) but,theese it,s more like a moral complain than anything. Also im not defending this series and i not even going to follow it so maybe end,s beeing bad for his own merits, but im not going to comprobe it by myself.

    But hell, Iron man was suposed to be a spectacular proyect (that koike pilot)released in a strong sesson like autumm, with a very capable director like Yuzo Sato who could have done something to move to his territory and end,s being absolutely empty without anything good. that was and objetivable bad series at the 100%, who was,nt supossed to be in this way, so no.

    • psgels psgels says:

      My reasoning behind that is slightly different: with Iron Man, they at least tried. Sure, they completely failed, but they at least wanted to do something intersting and new. with Oda Nobuna they pretty much greenlighted another Sengoku Paradise that was doomed from the start.

      • Avatar Lazy says:

        And how do you know they aren’t trying with Nobuna?
        As you said the plot couldn’t be any more generic but there’s some good execution, production values and OST.
        I’m not exactly a big harem fan either but I’m inclined to give Madhouse and Gokumi a chance to see what they can do with this.

        • Avatar meow says:

          the plot couldn’t be any more generic

          The harem-tropes and romantic subplots perhaps but I think this show might be surprisingly interesting if you have knowledge of the Sengoku era. Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems like the events depicted in this story seem historically accurate, or at least adhere to officially accepted records of the time, right down to famous quotes by major historical figures. You might call this series, or at least this episode, fanservice for Sengoku era history buffs. Right down to the monkey nickname.

          And yeah, the production values and execution are remarkable. And I for one, have no problem with harem shows. XD Beats watching girls getting eaten alive by monsters any day of the week.

          But yeah, I don’t think it’s the kind of show Psgels would be interested in. It won’t be fun reading his reviews if he spends a big part of it panning whatever fanservice he encounters. Stick to what you love, Psgels.

      • Avatar miguel says:

        We don,t remeber the same series at all.Tried to do exactly what?. For what people? Iron man was as a proyect even as bad as this or more. It lacked planning beacause ,who was supossed to like it?. It lacked references to the universe for the comics readers, the japanese setting was patetic so it wasn,t done for anime only viewers, it also haven,t characters develompent to known the characters to work like a intermedial proyect. For the sake of the director? no, the direction was automatical and cheap. The thing that was supossing to be interesting and new became something that i don,t like to be done other time, at least no in that way, it closed more doors that opnened so that make it worse to my eyes.

        At least i could imagine people who could like something like Oda. And yes, i already know that you aren,t going to like this. And the fact it,s that i don,t even matter if it,s a good series or not. Oda has a “It,s a not important series” write on all the face, this it,s bad, well for me not it,s even good,.Why?, the are starting to regenerate after the crisis, they could do what they want to regenerate faster(it,s not the only thing they have done for that) if they keep the priorities in the correct place.

        The fact i hate more iron man than this it,s more for the planning and the organization than the series itself(who also deserves hate):before that was HSOTD, who was directed by a great guy, it has fanservice but it have some of his directional traces but when i came to IM, it had nothing,empty it was like their priorities were fucking WRONG(HSTOD had Ryousuke Nakamura with Mieko Hosoi as key animator in the last episode,for me it,s more painfull that than 1000 Odas).

        But with oda, seems to me like a inocent silly series. The fact that,s it,s coproduced and have a low key director it,s like say that the actual directive actually known that they should focus more in other proyects and let this like something in a very secondary place for earn budget and buy time. So ,if they don,t give too much importance to this series why should i give it?.i wait to the next series and that,s all.

  14. Avatar HunterWulf says:

    SAO 1st ep was fantastic, i really had high expectations for this series and it delivered, i bet most if not all people who played an MMOs in their lives enjoyed this episode a lot and got that fuzzy feeling inside whenever characters were explaining game mechanics (or when something like a “guy” playing a with a girl avatar was revealed).

    Also i have to note that that the background art and special effects a re top-notch .. the sunset before the game creator announced his intentions looked fantastic .. but to their credits .. before they found out they can’t log-out the beauty of the scene made me want to play a game like that (even if there is some slight risk involved) .. but when they realized they are stuck in that world .. suddenly the beautiful scenery started feeling hollow and creepy … they handled that scene very well .. also it was clever to do the scene when Kirito first logs-in the game world in “first-person” to give us an idea of how he sees the world (they do switch to FPS view from time to time too).

    And while i didn’t read the novels that people talk about .. i guess the game creator is just mad … he clearly has a GOD complex .. showing up as massive masked avatar towering over the players .. saying stuff like “welcome to my world” .. and “i build this world to to admire it” .. he clearly wants to play GOD and he needed people to be trapped in his virtual world and forced to experience everything it has to offer over a large period of time .. police probably are afraid to try pursuing him lest he kills all the players .. he literally has 10,000 people as hostages.

    Finally i have to say i can’t wait to see the next episode ^_^

  15. Avatar RABUJOI says:

    We went into the first episode of SAO blind, so the “oh shit we’re all screwed” moment was pretty awesome…and the statement about how many died in the first month (with no one clearing floor one) was pretty damn forboding. This series isn’t going to go easy on its characters!

  16. Avatar Stars says:

    Instead comparing SOA to .hack I found the rules of the game to be almost identical to HXH Greed Island.

    Did you see the big after the ED Psgels? There is no episode preview at the end of SOA, and it listed that in the first month, 2000 died and that guy the main character made friends with was one of them.

    • Avatar meow says:

      ? Klein? I didn’t see his name crossed out. I think he’s one of the male characters in the ED (OP?). He looks like a Samurai-type.

  17. Avatar seizonsha says:

    “You know Fate/Zero, in which the creators actually turned the famous King Arthur into a female? That was good!”

    Though you should probably know that “she” was originally supposed to be male as well and the original author of the Fate universe was against this change in the beginning. I still suppose they mainly did it because they changed it from a novel to a visual novel and (a) the lead you control needs to be a guy for identification purpose and (b) he needs a partner to have sex with…at least that seemed to be the rule under which they were working.

    I’d still prefer to see Nasu’s original concept executed. They managed to make the Arturia thing work, especially in Zero, but it was rather unnecessary and still seems kinda strange because everyone else kept their gender (no, Extra doesn’t count).

    So I’d say basically Oda Nobuna no Yabou functions under the same principles as the original Fate/Stay Night. They’re simply using the added sexual appeal as a selling point. If the series has anything to offer beyond that has to be shown…
    But as with the original Fate/Stay Night, it’s too much for me and actually puts me off the whole concept.

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