Musings and Reflections – Fall 2018 Week 10

One phrase impressions

Sword Art Online: Alicization – Pretty distasteful.
Banana Fish – Ah, already seen most of that stuff…
Golden Kamuy 2 – Then, suddenly, a climax.

Sword Art Online: Alicization (Ep. 10)

Sword Art Online: Alicization Eugeo almost rape

  • I get that the AI was left to run on its own but I find it a bit hard to believe that it created a highly functioning (apparently) society and didn’t bother to set rules that deal with people abusing their power. Or was it Kirito who brought a seed of malevolence to an otherwise perfect world? If even the citizens themselves feel that the law is incomplete, why don’t they improve it?
  • Damn. Can you please not add rape to every arc of SAO?
  • I’m not sure I can voice my thoughts precisely about the matter (or that they are coherent in the first place), but here it goes. I think that in any medium the cost of life has been down-valued like a lot. Actually, the same goes for reality – each day we hear that terrorists killed several people, an earthquake took its toll, a forest fire also claimed a bunch of lives. And how do we think about it? Probably “Ah well, I didn’t know all these people, it can’t be helped. Poor dudes.” It feels like a bare statistical information, just like numbers of how many tons of rice people eat every year. And statistics don’t make us feel anything, especially since we hear similar news so often. A similar desensitization has seeped into the media – every single novel or game or film that wants to be darker adds death. And, let’s be frank, Sturgeon’s law holds very well – stories too often don’t bother to make characters likable enough so that their death would mean something. Thus, lots of cheap death. What’s next bad thing one human can do to another? According to the media, it’s rape. And sadly, the same desensitization starts to happen with this one – especially in anime rape is added right and left to make villains look even more sinister than when they kill people. It wouldn’t be a problem since rape definitely is a terrible thing to happen, but I feel that it’s being sold too cheap more times than not. In SAO’s case, it feels like somebody (Reki Kawahara most likely) time and again thinks “hey, I have this one-dimensional villain who’s absolutely boring and does evil for the sake of it. How can I make him more evil? Hm… I got it! Let’s make him a rapist!”. Well, I’m not in the same boat. I feel that if you choose to add such an extreme dark layer to your villain, it should be an outcome of his twisted personality (that by itself should be justified), and not a way to quickly give him some negative karma points just because. The outcome also should make the victim, well, a victim, and not someone who after a short while completely forgets everything as if nothing ever happened. Berserk and Kara no Kyoukai might be my top choices for stories that know how to include rape – the scenes are especially hard to read/watch, and their harsh consequences are felt basically as long as the story goes. So yeah, my point is that SAO already has pretty bland villains (that excruciatingly are bad just because a story needs some villains), and they decide to put on their rapey-faces just because they are villains. I also don’t care about the victims because we saw them for the first time just recently – I’ve no reason to care about them. I appreciate that this season of SAO tries to be darker, I really do, but, well, the franchise still is a massively popular most of times family friendly entertainment for the masses and that automatically adds some limits as of how dark the story could get. And that in its own way makes these efforts to become even darker actually half-assed. General public likes life nice and easy (just like pop music) so as for example metal isn’t to everyone’s liking, so the dark stories about death (and stuff) also have their own niche. And in that niche they can go all the way down to the center of the darkness, something an ordinary show doesn’t have gall to attempt, even if it wants to. The rape in a story by itself is meaningless. The meaning is hidden in questions why it happened (in the broadest of senses) and what happens next – it’s a bridge to the darkest areas of human psyche, areas that should be either fully brought to light, or avoided completely. And in my view SAO tries to bite more than it’s able to chew. Far too much to leave nothing but a seriously bad aftertaste. I’ve no hope that this almost-rape scene will have any lasting consequences in the grand scheme of things. And that’s a shame – such a grave event is simply too traumatic to be glossed over. Well, if a show neither feels like entertainment (you joking, right?) nor provides some food for thought (here? Really?), what’s the point in its existence?
  • I wonder why didn’t Alice’s eye explode when she crossed the border in the very beginning.
  • Who else can save the day if not Kirito ex Machina?
  • Why do villains always get red lightsabers and heroes green? Tell me one thing that makes these villains not cardboard cutouts and I would probably give you million dollars or whatever you want.
  • Yeah, my favorite villains loudly exclaim that they’ll execute a protagonist and after a fight run off with tails between their legs screaming “You monster, you killed a person!”… Ugh…
  • See, I was just ranting about random and inconsequential rape and just after a few minutes Eugeo’s eye is regenerated. Yep, he was 100% morally right but that doesn’t mean that he should evade answering for his own actions. How can I treat the show seriously if after trying to be dark it nonchalantly erases all the traces of darkness in order to become nice and fluffy once again, probably until another time when it becomes convenient to go a darker route. In Berserk Guts, for example, never recovered. No matter that magic rightfully exists in Berserk, he had to live on without an arm (a mechanical arm is even cooler by the way) and an eye, and I’m not talking about his mental state.
  • Alice has become a Doujin Saber Clone #587? Ok…

Banana Fish (Ep. 22)

Banana Fish Ash suffering again

  • Ash being compared to a big cat? Seen that.
  • Ash being abused? Seen that.
  • Some homosexual dude behaving forcefully and inappropriately? Seen that. (For real though, can’t Banana Fish show some positive homosexual relationships other than the super mild one of Ash and Eiji? It’s as if the whole world is filled with abusive madmen and only Ash and Eiji are flawless…)
  • Ash escaping super easily against all odds because of the utter incompetence of his captors? Seen that.
  • Eiji coming to a rescue though he isn’t really needed in that role? Seen that.
  • The villains proving to be dominating during attacks and less than miserable on defense? Seen that.
  • Eiji being the only one who’s able to comfort Ash? Seen that (though that was a nice moment indeed).
  • Some inconsequential wandering around and talking about nothing except maybe the fact that Ash had dark past and Eiji is his salvation? Seen that.
  • Good guys getting ambushed because they didn’t care about their surroundings like at all? Seen that.
  • Eiji getting shot and Ash becoming upset about that though ultimately there’s no way Eiji won’t be alive and kicking soon enough? Yet again seen that.
  • What I haven’t seen was that brief scene with wine transforming into a demon-like Ash. That was cool. Though the fact remains that mere seconds of cool stuff can’t really compensate for everything else. It seems like the story has already shown all the possible permutations of everything that can happen given the premise. Countless repeats of the same stuff doesn’t make me excited the least bit. And, to be frank, such an episode early on (say, as a 5th or 6th in the series) would’ve made me more than content. Now? Not really.

Golden Kamuy 2 (Ep. 10 /22/)

Golden Kamuy Season 2 roof climbing

    • So Golden Kamuy is back at being a cooking show? Should’ve expected as much.
    • I kinda like Inkarmat. Maybe it’s because it’s Mamiko Noto? Anyway, like I’ve said before, I see the relationship between Tanigaki and Inkarmat as quite welcome. The problem, however, is that Golden Kamuy never has given its characters easy time. The show can be many things, and cheesy is one of them, but even then a guaranteed happy ending for everyone isn’t something the show is going for.  To think about it, it’s really strange that underneath all the silliness the gruesome reality still holds its ground, and I wouldn’t; be surprised at a sudden death of almost anyone. I guess that’s good.
    • Well, the second half escalated things rather quickly. I guess it’s to be expected of the show to have the characters exclaiming how tasty salmon is and after a few minutes run into a battle. Somehow the fact that they arrived to Abashiri so suddenly felt weird. Everyone had been talking about the prison as if it’s the ultimate goal, a place where the story will reach its climax. Yet, the group arrived very unticlimactically, and the infiltration also felt like a revving car that delivers lots of noise but still stands in the same place. I guess I simply wanted a more gradual build-up, as now it feels like in a second we arrived to the end of the season and the final confrontation. Except it’s clearly not since the manga is still ongoing so whatever the show does (I’d bet it could never attempt an anime original ending), the story will be left open. Knowing that lets me watch this supposed climax rather calmly. It’s just lots of smoke but no fire.
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