Series Recap: Blade and Soul

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In art and media, there is a term that is used for something that, logically, you know you should despise, but otherwise can’t help but derive some enjoyment from. These are “Guilty Pleasures”, those things where, more than ever, we cling to our mantra of “it’s my opinion I don’t gotta justify shit”.

While I wouldn’t put Blade and Soul on that same level, as guilty pleasure might be too strong a feeling, as it has some truly atrocious episodes, I must admit that, on the whole, my sentiment is the same.  I have sympathy, and am more willing to give a series the benefit of the doubt when it clearly aspires to greatness and (miserably) fails rather than shooting for mediocrity and succeeding (not to be confused with Black Bullet or Unbreakable Machine Doll, which shot for mediocrity and failed).

Also, this is a show everyone knows is bad, expected to be bad, and had extremely low standards going in.  Unlike Machine Doll or Brynhildr, I haven’t seen dozens of people defending it as AOTS.  Yes. People have told me with a straight face Brynhildr was the best show of Spring.

With these things in mind, I feel that a harsh hand is unnecessary here.  So what sticks out in my mind about this show? Continue reading

Blade and Soul: Episode 9

Oh, the irony.

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This will likely be the last time I discuss this series, but I did want to make mention of something here in light of how things have fallen elsewhere. Sure, there’s some plot and drama before and after this, but it is so generic Blade and Soul Bad that it really isn’t worth belaboring.

No, here, we have praise to discuss yet again. I know! Twice  in a single series, amazeballs.

The teaser is simple. Karen is in her room getting laid, but it is a very subdued, even cold affair.  The camera lingers over a wedding photo…wait that’s a pretty photo-realistic picture. You lose points from the Butterfly wanted poster, show.  Whatever man she’s using for sex shyly leaves with Karen staring out the window, very aloof. It all lasts maybe 20 seconds but it establishes Karen’s mood quite well, as this episode evolves her character quite a bit.

A lot has actually happened in the previous episode from the plot side of things. Alka met up with Yuu, the little furry sage boy? And he seems to have found a way to penetrate her hard shell. She isn’t exactly the milk of human kindness yet, but the person who pissed Loana off by not alluding to emotion doesn’t exist anymore.  Yuu, also, may have been a boy, but as we’ve established that is not armoring against this show’s Reverse Refrigerator Syndrome, so he did die. Alka managed to kill Jin in revenge, but has struck out on her own.

We catch up with her getting a new job, but now, as opposed to earlier in the series when she would just take the contract because that was her code, now she’s probing for information about the job, and unsatisfied, leaves it on the table, so to speak. The old man who wants to hire her is shocked. A Sword Clan who won’t kill is useless.  She eventually meets up with Karen, who offers her a job.  Suspicious, but at this point, with Jin (apparently) dead it doesn’t raise too many questions now that the main heat is off, as opposed to her stance that trouble not be brought to her inn earlier in the series. Continue reading

Blade and Soul: Episode 6

…Wow.

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“Doctor…I think I’m going insane.”

“That might be harsh, but why do you think that of yourself?”

“Well, I was watching Blade and Soul…”

“Ah, let me stop you there.  Blade and Soul is enough to drive anyone a little mad.  It’s a momentary madness that will pass with time.”

“No, Doctor, it was worse than that.”

“Worse?”

“I was watching Episode 6 and…this normally doesn’t happen to me but…I…I think I liked it.”

*monocle intensifies*

Yes, believe it or not…I enjoyed this one.  Is it the depression from Brynhildr and Akuma no Riddle failing to live up to hope, and Black Bullet faceplanting into the ground?  Is it that, by comparison to last week’s crime against Humanity, my expectations were so low that a passable episode of this trainwreck caught me off guard and now I am pleasantly surprised?

Am I just a sucker for evil lesbians?

Let’s be clear, there are some serious contrivances and all the usual Blade and Soul nonsense.  But I think it’s no small coincidence that the first episode to depart from Alka’s trail of tears is probably the best in the series so far.  We focused on the villains and supporting cast this time.  Even Hazuki started acting like a normal fucking human being.  I know! Let’s get into this deeper. Continue reading

Blade and Soul: Episode 5

Remember, if they don’t stop coming, save the last bullet.

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It’s been a long time since we were graced with something truly awful.  I mean, offensive to your senses.  Sure, Black Bullet, Brynhildr, Space Dandy even, they have weak moments, and we poke fun at those moments. But this is off the edge of the map.  If you told me that Gonzo’s plan for this series was now to generate so much interest because of how truly awful it was, I would believe that more than the idea that a bunch of “professionals” could screw something up so royally.

We have officially entered the So Bad It’s Good territory.  And the glory is, we aren’t even treated to a healthy sense of self-awareness on this point.  Whether or not it’s intentional, it is so. Fucking. Funny. that the show still feels like it’s genuinely trying to be the badass kid on the block.

We open on a young woman in bed with a snoring old man.  She has…well…ladies we all regret fucking at least one person, don’t we? Yeah.

She gets up in the middle of the night, and we see Alka murdering the guards surrounding the mansion our mystery girl is inside.  She even makes eye contact with Alka at the last killing…but luckily for her, the mansion’s mistress isn’t on the list of targets, I guess.  But you do get the sense there is some sense of…I dunno, awe, destiny, between the pair.

Will Alka save her from this life?

Oh, you poor, poor bastard. You don’t even know, do you? I hope you’ve been saving your tears.  Not for the story, for the studio.

At daybreak we see an interesting sight.  We’re in an arid (arguably, desert) canyon, with fields of BLUE surrounding a tiny town.  Yes, Heaven’s Spirits again. DRUGS FOR ALL!

Cutting inside the, what I now assume to be the mayoral palace, we see the old guy and his mistress entertaining Alka and a dandy dressed man.   Really, he looks like a pirate in this over the top getup.  The old man, who it turns out is the mayor, accuses the pair of killing all his guards.  And they don’t even deny it.  They just openly say “LET THAT BE A WARNING!” like they just captured his pawns or something.  The reason is the Heaven’s spirits.  Dandy Pirate wants them to stop farming them.  The mayor refuses. It’s the village’s lifeblood, and how most of their inhabitants make a living.  Mayor slaps Pirate down, saying he’d gladly stop farming Heaven’s Spirits…if the pirate will kindly point them in the direction of a new industry they can all make a living off of.  Pirate answers he will, because it’s justice.

It’s like watching two people hold different conversations on their phones.  They aren’t rebutting each other’s stance at this point than just throwing cliche debate talking points at the script. Continue reading

Blade and Soul: Episode 4

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We open on the excitement of flashback. It’s really a visual narration of some words Alka’s master offered her once upon a time.  It’s, as I gather, some “meaning of life” stage of her training.

She’s unconscious, and being tended to by some orphans.  Her tattoo is completely dark.  We are then treated to orphans being orphans, stealing food from tall, fat street vendors, you’ve seen Aladdin, you know the drill.

Fortunately, upon waking up the first thing Alka does is NOT kill them, which has been how she’s greeted everyone else up to this point who got the jump on her.

Cutting to the inn, Loana is injured and in bed.  She isn’t exactly sure why she’s here, so she puts on her clothes and walks downstairs.  Luckily, Of Mice and Men survived the massacre.  But only them.  Joy.   She recognizes Karen’s name, but we don’t get any details.  This is the start of Blade and Soul tipping its hand too heavily with Karen.  From this point on, the series will be REALLY in your face about “Oooo look how special snowflake she is!” while refusing to give you details because that equals drama to the simple minds who wrote this show.

The incident with Alka seems to have shaken Jin, and she’s quietly contemplating her “Impurity”.  But Femme Fatale is there and…you know what, fuck it. Embrace the Lesbians Are Evil trope! I’ll take it at this point, ANYTHING is a welcome distraction. Continue reading

Blade and Soul: Episode 3

Bad show but hot criminal…

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Ah, a productive weekend with some outstanding anime.  Let’s keep going!

…Oh. Hello Blade and Soul. …Damnit.

I’m currently of the opinion that Blade and Soul isn’t going to be exploring its flimsy pretense for a story and is more like an amusement park ride for people who have played the game.  Using your nostalgia to see various in-game areas on screen.

Too bad I haven’t played the game.

We open on tomb raider, and our Lora Croft for this universe is…insanely more hot than Lora Croft. She introduces herself as Dan Loana. Her little group of treasure hunters here is called “the Pleasure Gang” and they don’t like Palam, so naturally they just instantly know Alka has trouble with them and invite her in for some bondage. BONDING! I said bonding, you can’t prove otherwise.

Back in Palam, the bad guys have assembled a pacification squad.  Apparently unrest is rising so they’re going to wipe out a few rebels.  This is actually interesting. Naturally we won’t be spending a lot of time on it.

Back at the hideout, Alka is being treated quite nicely by Moaner Loana.  To the point where it’s suspicious.  Interesting character detail regarding Loana’s camaraderie and hospitality…or weak plot point? Do I really need to tell you? Continue reading

Blade and Soul: Episode 2

Bright spot, out you go so quickly.

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A bit of universe building this week, but in all not much to say.

I’m sure this episode is buoyed by how much you love eager spunky adventurer girls.  However, I would bring her on a date to Mt. Doom and re-enact the ring scene. But let’s get to the episode.

Oh, as a note.  Over the past week the internet has taken to calling our ninja girl Alka.  I’m taking the fans words on this, as any lobby who can change that in a week must have some real power.  After all, it took years for the Yagami Raito thing to disappear.

That or none of us really care enough.  Personally, between Haruka last season and Haru this season, I’ll gladly switch over to something that won’t result in tongue twisters. I might have noticed it, but she stresses the “ru” part so much, usually when transcribing L’s it’s a bit softer.  Either way, I edited the previous review just to keep it consistent throughout the run.

So, Alka is walking through the desert. Alone.  No Mori.  Why? That’s weird. She encounters some furry kid, who frets that Aruka has no protection in the desert, and gives her a…I guess a shawl, but it’s more child sized. I’m not up on my clothing. Here I’m tempted to complain “but that’s not what you wear in the desert after stressing it so much”, but much like the clothing LAST episode, I am wondering if this is some gag about Alka picking up questing armor from different places and slapping it on her body.  If this IS a running gag it’s not very funny.  The show isn’t light-hearted enough to make good on it.

Alka heads to that border town we saw last time, the one with the inn? She’s going to try to earn some money.  It’s apparently a nasty piece of work.  Param has presence there, but no jurisdiction, or so I’m gathering.  They appear to be in a conflict with “the Kingdom”, but the citizenry doesn’t think very highly of them, either.

I will credit Blade and Soul this, they did not pull the “gang of rapists corner our badass heroine and she kicks their ass” card.  Which I fully expected an anime of this caliber to do. Nope, instead, people are loud and obnoxious, but relatively polite without thinking everyone is trespassing into their territory just because they’re walking down a street. After some meandering where we’re treated to “day in the life of the Blade and Soul universe”, which was pretty interesting. It felt far more real than most fantasy locales. Continue reading

Blade and Soul: Episode 1

Duh-nuhm….duh-nuhm-duh-nuhm…dundundundundun~…

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Can you feel it, Rookie? That scent in the air…a threat to your sanity like you wouldn’t believe. Laugh, laugh it up now. But soon, Rookie, soon…

Spring is coming…and with it horrible fanservicey shows like this one is destined to be.

Kidding aside, I did not think that this pilot was all bad. That ALL bad, it isn’t. Yet.  Some intrigue and world building (sort of) that I will at least be creatively entertained as a writer. I’m sure there is going to be some poignant imagery here that sets my brain off on another tangent.  And for all the flaws here the art is not one of them.  But again, my art standards are silly low (and art is not choreography).

But the big question that remains to be seen is will the rules of the universe be explained, or are we assumed to have played the game?  Ah, that will be what determines if this “universe building” was anything of the kind.

We open on DRAMATIC ESCAPE! A white-haired woman is running from faceless goons.  Naturally, the woman whose face we can see is a ninja and fights with blades, while the dirty soldiers use guns like cowards that stir ire in our prideful Japanese sensibilities.  Don’t worry, she kills them all righteously.  How do I know? This show is not trying to be deep enough that she MIGHT have a checkered past.

We are then treated to a civilian (we can tell because he’s wetting himself) being killed by a…Andre the Giant? He uses this red-ethereal…wolf thing to just decay and destroy the poor sap.

That…that was pretty cool. Horrific, and mysterious.  But again, this is where that “if they bother to explain it to the layman later” thing comes in. By the end of this series I want to look at this scene and understand exactly what happened, you know, within reason.  If I am still as confused, well, that’s writing quality worthy of Machine Doll.

The big guy is chastized, sort of, by some woman in an outfit that screams “Ooo I’m femme fatale, BE IMPRESSED.”

She’s shushed though by someone in charge, apparently their commander.  Her voice is nice, very serious, yet that hint of being tired of watching children with monster powers all day. They’re inspecting the dead bodies from before.  I guess the guy who just got…devoured? was a witness and we couldn’t have those? Even though all he saw was dead soldiers?  Or maybe they assumed him guilty and killed him without trial. I AM THE LAW! Continue reading

Spring 2014 Roster

This is mostly a mouse-work piece, so screw it! No need to exhaust my fingers and patience typing!

As I mentioned in the newspost, we’ll be sticking to our Wild Card system for the foreseeable future.  I think it’s going to serve the discourse here well.  One absence: I have thought long and hard about a series to add for my “comfort zone” series…but I can’t find one. I’m already baiting myself twice this season.  And as I don’t know what things will be like post-injury (or even WHEN that will be) I’m setting things up light.

Reminder: As per blog policy we won’t be covering second seasons/series unless they fall under the premise of reboots, or if we have previously covered seasons.  Thus, no Jojo, no Mushishi, despite how I’d like them to be here.

Also, please forgive the lack of original wording in plot summaries, I am copy-pasting way more this season because it still hurts to type (I had to set aside this 500 word post three times to rest the slashed finger…please forgive me!)

Confirmed Series

19429Akuma no Riddle (Riddle Story): Haru Ichinose is a student at Myoujou Academy. She has 12 assassins after her, but it seems a new assassin is developing feelings for her…

If you’ve stuck to this blog for any length of time you know we have three subjects.  Violence, lesbians, and magic. So a series that comprises all three was bound to end up here.  Well okay, maybe minor mysticism, that part isn’t quite clear. Still it’s turning out to be quite the year for girl on girl. Lucky you.  Most promising though? We have the director from a lot of the Nanoha media and Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou, so you know it will treat its subject matter with respect, if not complete realism.  Also promising, the manga this comes from premiered 18 months ago, meaning someone saw something special about it and NEEDED to make this series happen.  Encouraging little bits all around that allow me to remain optimistic.

Studio: Diomedea

20619Blade and Soul: “A thousand-year peace is coming to an end. The fledgling Wind Empire strives to overthrow the fading Stratus Empire and unite the four continents in a new era of equality–albeit an equality enforced by military might. Amid this mortal trouble and strife come the ancient Darksiders, with the nefarious Jin Seoyeon as the harbinger of their return… and with the people fighting among themselves, there may be no one to oppose their evil plans and save the world. Based on the Korean MMORPG “Blade & Soul”.”

Hell, let’s roll the dice.  It’s been a while since Gonzo did something really interesting drama-wise (and they do have some real gems in their distant past), but let’s be fair, their last two series I both hated (Leviathan) and loved (InuHasa) (we do have the same script writer from Trinity Blood here, though).  But I’m willing to give this a chance!  Will my hopes be shattered? We’ll see. At the very least, the all-female cast will keep Yours Truly picking favorites even if the show ends up bad. Which judging by the way they’ve been emphasizing fan-service…seems pretty likely.  I anticipate something like Machine Doll, a show that will be awful only because of face-palming decisions, the show going right when it should have gone left, not inherent problems in the make up of the series.  I think that’s a region I am effective: Pointing out how tiny changes can make a story not completely blow.

Studio: Gonzo

Wild Card Series

Expect to see at least one of these.  But no promises.  We could have one, two, maybe even three, or none. It all depends on what insults my intelligence and what blows my mind.

20462Hitsugi no Chaika: “Toru Acura, an incredibly lazy man with some hidden talents, has been forced by his sister Akari to actually go outside and search for work. However, he is in for a big surprise when he meets Chaika Trabant in the forest, and they are suddenly attacked by a monster! How will they survive? Who is this mysterious girl, and why is she being targeted?”

And consider this one of those “if it insults my intelligence too much it’ll be here” shows.  I suppose I shouldn’t be so judgmental…Noragami is still filling me with the warm fuzzies for Bones.  But I have that sneaking feeling whenever we try to do “comedy” and “action”.

Studio: Bones

20615Selector Infected WIXOSS: “Hope, desire, greed.  Girls with each of these feelings in their hearts are being swallowed into the vortex of a dangerous game… ”

This is the most likely candidate to end up here. I admit some intrigue.  The problem of course with psychological series is…not everyone can be deep.  So it could end up completely inane.

Studio: J.C. Staff

20457Black Bullet: Humans have been pushed near extinction in the near future by parasitic life forms known as Gastrea.  Rentaro and his partner Enju are part of a special task force in Tokyo, one of the few Human settlements left.

As a writer, premises interest me, and can sustain at least my interest if not my affection.  Machine Doll had an interesting premise, as did Galilei Donna.  What did those shows have in common? I hated them.  And I suspect the same will happen here.  But this place reserves judgment, so we’ll dive into this one optimistic and ready to face the slings and arrows of the naysayers…until they’re proven right.

Studio: Kinema Citrus

19815No Game, No Life: “The story of No Game, No Life centers around Sora and Shiro, a brother and sister whose reputations as brilliant NEET (Not in Education, Employment, or Training) hikikomori (shut-in) gamers have spawned urban legends all over the Internet. These two gamers even consider the real world as just another “crappy game.” One day, they are summoned by a boy named “God” to an alternate world. There, God has prohibited war and declared this to be a world where “everything is decided by games” – even national borders. Humanity has been driven back into one remaining city by the other races. Will Sora and Shiro, the good-for-nothing brother and sister, become the “Saviors of Humanity” on this alternate world? “Well, let’s start playing.””

This is the candidate for outlier series. Candidate.  We’ll see.  It’s likely for me to pick it up as series number four, but not number five. It all depends where things fall. If there’s anything I can be excited over, the color scheme looks really interesting, so this could be a visually fascinating series.

Studio: Madhouse

20542Kamigami no Asobi/Ludere Deorum: “The story revolves around heroine Yui Kusanagi, who is ordered by Zeus, a god and the headmaster of a school he created, to teach the meaning of love to young and handsome gods. The reason he has for doing this is to cancel the negative effects of the weakening bond between the world of the divine and the world of the humans. ”

Call it a strange impulse, but as a shot in the dark I’ll give this a chance as a wild card series.  Besides I’m kind of curious to see how mad a lesbian can get at a reverse harem show. That alone is like a selling point, right?  And as you’ve seen in Noragami, I have a bit of a love for exploring divinity.

Studio: Brains Base

Again, this is all stuff that I’m keeping eyes on.  If another random shows catches my eye, it may end up here, still.  But I’m gonna be playing a LOT of catch up with this busted finger, so…maybe it’s time to call it a light season.