Studio Hacks Ruin Sword Art Online

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I always wondered why the Clannad VN actually needed a Kickstarter to get released on Steam considering that its fanbase pretty much dwarfs the combined fandom of every other VN on that platform – and this includes their own Planetarian novel. Hell, the only visual novels I can think of off the top of my head that are more popular amongst the crowd are Fate/Stay Night and Steins;Gate, and the latter seemed to have no trouble getting released over here. But what confuses me even more are the number of people on my TL complaining about it despite the fact that I think less than 5% of the complainers have actually played the goddamn game and only watched KyoAni’s “faithful adaptation”. How do you know something just didn’t get lost in translation when making the thing? How do you know the game isn’t actually a masterpiece?

– I personally doubt it. A friend of mine made me sit through two VNs from that company and they were both kinda scrappy, although that’s mostly because I don’t consider reading on a computer with nothing but static backgrounds and character art to accompany you for hours at a time, entertainment. Or to put this more succintly, “fuck the story mode in Persona 4 Arena“.

My point is, you wouldn’t see me caring if the Da Capo game was ever licensed here just because I hated both the Zexcs and the Feel adaptations. Sure it’s probably bad, but I could care less because I only saw the anime and aside from inspiration and/or creative licensing agreements, they don’t have anything to do with each other. Who’s the one who chooses what gets put in the anime? The studio. Who chooses how shots and emotions are framed? The studio. Who’s the one that made Sword Art Online II the godawful dick-sucking drag that it ended up being? The fucking studio did, that’s who!

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This is my clumsy attempt to segue from current breaking anime-related news into something that’s been a goddamn tumor in my brain for more than an entire season. And that’s the comments I’ve been reading over the weeks regarding how the new SAO is godawful and how the author doesn’t understand the subject matter and all those other things we love to hate on the show for. Now I haven’t looked at whether Reki Kawahara had anything to do with writing the scripts for this season the same way he did for the last one, but even then, there are a lot of things wrong with SAO II that couldn’t have involved him in any way, and even if you’re a fan of the first awful season, I’d still be completely shocked if you liked this one.

I’ve said this before, but I really hate it when anime fans put down animation when the primary thing that separates a cartoon from live-action is the fact that it’s f*cking animated. Sure it’s not the end all to all of a good product – because otherwise Home on the Range wouldn’t have felt longer than Kenneth Brannagh’s Hamlet – but it comes to a point where you have to convince the audience that they’re getting something they couldn’t have gotten from reading the source material. Other than the fact that they can’t read Japanese and translations can be a bitch, I mean.

– Besides, animation is more than just how pretty it looks. Like the difference between David Fincher and Frank Miller, there’s also art direction, framing, editing, not being A-1 Pictures, and such and such to consider.

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Am I bashing A-1 too much on this post? Well what exactly do you expect me to do, especially considering how ugly, low-effort, and just plain poorly directed all of their anime have been over the years (and in the same season no less)? Why they decided to concentrate so much effort on Your Lie In April considering it’s source material isn’t exactly 50 Shades of Fame, I don’t know. But how come their biggest franchises, the stuff that keeps them alive, look like total ass? Especially Sword Art Online. It’s one of the biggest sellers in the market and yet if I didn’t look at the numbers, I would have considered this just another throwaway show. Produced by asread.

If I didn’t know any better, I’d say that this sequel was the result of a rushed production schedule and terrible adaptation choices that would embarrass X-Men: The Last Stand. One standout bad decision was A-1’s incredibly awful judgment to make this show two-cours to begin with. A two-cour length should only be given to an anime if you’re planning to cover a lot of story like, say, four different arcs with six episodes dedicated to each arc – and that’s me being generous. Whether those arcs are as throwaway as the majority of Clannad’s is up for debate, but I think we can agree that Fuko’s story was getting overly long with its 5-6 episode length as is. So tell me, A-1. Why the fuck is Sinon’s failure of a psychological arc more than twice that length? Especially if you’re just going to introduce pointless ass shots and repetitive exposition between talking heads that get in the way of the story and the action? Every shot must feel important!

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Speaking of action, I had to take a laugh at the people who were saying this second season was an improvement over the first one because it was concentrating on the thing. Apparently, talking my ass off whilst trying to lock on to a target with a gun for six minutes counts as action. Also, have you guys ever seen an action scene? Not only are the fights in SAO II sillier than the over-choreographed light saber action in the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but more than half the time, it’s not even animated and thus incredibly dull to watch.

A lot of the “sword fights” are just colored lines with sound effects on a non-descript image followed by the aftermath where all you see are ugly-looking red cuts, and just to be completely insufferable, the quality degrades with each arc to the point that the latest episode’s golem fight looks like a bunch of bullies picking on a training dummy and someone hit the “chapter skip button” right when the finishing blow was about to be delivered. This is not good action or animation! This is a fucking slideshow with sound effects, and A-1 needs to stop taking inspiration from their Aniplex brother, Shaft, when it comes to their own projects. Especially when it’s taking the wrong ones, because god knows Shaft puts no effort into anything but the action scenes in which case they suddenly turn into Masaaki Yuasa.

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Sword Art Online may be bad because Reki Kawahara has less understanding of MMOs than Apple has in regards to good employee treatment, but I just can’t help but laugh at how so many people aren’t paying attention to the studio at all in regards to this shit. Where in the original light novels does it say “Sinon and I fought off enemies on one of the most ugly-brown plain landscapes I have ever seen in my life”? Was there a paragraph dedicated to the amount of unnecessary flips and wild movements that Kirito used when trying to imitate a f*cking Jedi Master? Did the novels mention how still the golem was when Kirito and his haremettes took it down?

If the novels did say all that, it’d still be A-1’s fault for adapting the show they way did, because no sane person in the world could possibly read that shit and go, “Yeah this is something we have to preserve in all its mundane-sounding glory. Get me two cours so we can milk this shit for all its worth whilst making sure the visuals will be as one-note and uncreative as described on page 98.”

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