Fall 2018 Grab Bag Week 6: Karakuri Circus, Sword Art Online – Alicization

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I guess I should keep up the trend of talking about new shows. This season has a lot more shows with talking potential. It actually puts me at ease. This section lives!

Masaru clutches his arms while negotiating with an assassin

Karakuri Circus First Impressions (1-4)

I’m really glad I chose to wait until now to talk about this series. To be honest, I think I would have been pretty harsh if I had been talking about the first two episodes alone. My main gripe with the series had been Masaru, who spends most of the beginning as the wimpy rich kid. His character felt stupidly repetitive, and it was a nuisance every time he spoke up. He’s still that guy, but his character has been making a huge shift in this most recent episode. As a result, I have a more favorable impression of the series. Woo?

Narumi faces off against a large group of enemies

The series overall is entertaining as an action series. The fact that the story is set around puppets and the circus still doesn’t sit well with me, but I think the general story is interesting. I guess I just think puppets are weird?

Masaru takes control of Arlequin

I think it’s cool that Masaru is able to join the fight as a puppeteer. It would be interesting if he gets his own puppet to fight alongside Shirogane.

Narumi sacrifices himself to save Masaru

Okay, I take it back. Maybe I should have waited one more episode before covering this series. I’m really surprised that Narumi was killed off so quickly in the series (so much so that I don’t believe that it’s a real death). I’m actually a little torn about Narumi’s death. On the one hand, he’d been building a solid rapport with the other main characters. On the other hand, his Zonapha syndrome thing was starting to feel old.

Asuna in a waiting room

Sword Art Online – Alicization First Impressions (1-5)

I know I’m just going to get written off as another SAO hater. I really do like some of the changes that were made in this season. Making Kirito go full isekai actually works pretty well in my eyes. I also think that the fight scene against the goblins was solid and a nice step up from the previous seasons. I just…have a problem with the soul thing. I’ve written a whole post about my thoughts on the soul, so it’s probably not that surprising.

Kirito lying in a hospital room with brain damage

I somewhat understand why the series chooses to do it this way. Since Kirito suffers brain damage, the series needs a reason why Kirito’s soul can still exist without the brain. But I think the microtubules pose an even bigger problem, since you suddenly have a soul that becomes a lot more vulnerable to damage. If your soul resides within every cell, then any cell death would damage your soul. So you’re not exactly solving the problem…

Yui tracking Kirito on the map

This episode takes a fairly large detour to show what’s going on in the outside world, but the general story so far has been alright. Eugeo, in particular, seems like a character with a lot of promise. He’s clearly a program that has been locked in a routine, and he has the potential to grow into a much more human-like character with Kirito’s help.

Sword Art Online Episode 24

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Yup…Kayaba Akihiko is officially Ovan now (minus the enormous man crush). I dunno if they had to make Sugou quite as insane as he was…but I guess it’s the idea of comparing to Kayaba, who at least had an order to the madness (and possibly still has a master plan left). But seriously? Kirito went hardcore god mode for this fight (did anyone else notice that making Sugou level 1 isn’t exactly honorable for someone of his level?).

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Now I have to be worried. There’s a full episode left and Asuna has been saved. What could possibly be happening in this final episode? Is it just a really long ending to the story or are they preparing for the cliffhanger ending? Surely they wouldn’t…right? There’s a lot left unresolved. What happens with the mind-altering research now? Are all of the captives free? Yup…definitely worried.

Sword Art Online Episode 22

Finally…Suguha finally finds out. It was just so darn frustrating to watch all of the show’s measures in avoiding using Asuna’s name (with Yui’s Mama and Kirito never calling her by name). I suppose her reaction is to be expected…her life is quite a lot of suffering right about now.

Kirito also finally dies for the first time…that time with Heathcliff didn’t really count because he broke the game…this time, there were no excuses. You know…for a moment, I actually thought he might have a chance of succeeding. For all I know, the remaining episodes were: final battle on 23 with epilogue on 24 and 25. Now, I’m afraid we’ll get another troll cliffhanger at the end of 25…but this time, we have to wait for a new season. But that wouldn’t happen, right?

So let’s go over things. We have the admin key, which will likely be used to free Asuna when Kirito reaches the top (wonder if he’ll free her before fighting the Fairy King, though…let her vent some of that repressed anger). We also have Suguha, who needs some time to be depressed before rejoining Kirito for the final battle. Assuming the show follows the book this time (as opposed to skipping to the end again *cough*Heathcliff), we have some time before the advance team is prepared for the push for the World Tree, so Suguha’s got some time to recover. Sound good?

Sword Art Online Episode 21

Wait…it’s not gonna be something like “Suguha is heartbroken about her brother, so she turns to Kirito in game…but nope! He’s actually the same person!”, right? That’s a pretty high level of troll on her…it’s almost unfair. Anyway, Asuna’s escape seems to have failed…but she managed to find the other players that were trapped, finally answering that question for me.

Looks like she managed to swipe a key card too…can she use it to bypass the cage lock? I assume she plans on using it on the console in case there isn’t one next time she escapes. It makes no sense for Sugou to give his admins access to the cage. Then again, I can’t believe they wouldn’t notice. They capture her and at that moment, a key card goes missing? It’s not that hard to figure out, right?

What’s the point of Kirito’s outburst at the end of the episode? Is it just some dramatic way to end it? Because even the god mode character shouldn’t be able to break through the barrier just like that, right? I assume the next episode starts with him hitting the limit and falling all the way down. We’ve only got four episodes left…seems like enough time for him to gather everyone from all different races and make a push for the top. He’s a frontline from SAO, so it shouldn’t be a problem for him to rally everyone, I would think.

Sword Art Online Episode 20

Kirito has the Yuld to get all the ladies…told you the character fit his farm style. Easily got that money. Anyway, a quick little detour for Kirito and Leafa. Now they have strong allies for the final fight (because it’s gonna happen). Glad Kirito didn’t say “because you’re like a sister” when Leafa asked why Yui was fine with her…that would have been lame. Though the response wasn’t all that much better haha.

Also, Kirito’s dual sword ability came back? Or did he just break the game and use two swords for a second? Why didn’t he do this earlier? He’s back on the path to becoming the chosen one again for Alfheim. He’s gotta get it back for good at some point, right?

Looks like Asuna finally got out. She’ll have at least a little time to roam around, it seems. Either she’ll be captured again and forced back or she’ll stay with everyone but be unable to fight (possibly because she’s been stripped of all abilities and items…possibly even the ability to hold items or gain abilities). But based on the title of next week’s episode, she’ll find Kirito and Leafa when they get to the base of the tree and tell them the evil plan.

Sword Art Online Episode 19

I’m surprised Kirito was having so much trouble with that group of people. I know he can’t be all-powerful, but those mages took a lot out of him. The obvious reasoning would be that magic is overpowered as usual, dealing absurd amounts of burst damage like in most games, which is why his health went down so far and why they needed that three-tier defensive position. A more funny explanation is that there was no magic in Sword Art Online, so Kirito’s ability to resist magic in Alfheim Online is basically that of a new player’s.

But yeah…Kirito’s been interrupted by this business with the Salamanders. He’s gotta stop a war…or at least help the Sylphs in it. I find it funny that he manages to choose a race that has absolutely no participation in any of these “big events”. I’m sure the Spriggans are all people who sit in dungeons and farm all day long…with their racial bonuses and all. It makes sense, though…this way Kirito is fighting for the Sylphs despite not having any real obligation to help them.

Anyway, during this whole detour, will Asuna become involved? I’m still curious whether she gets out…now that I think about it, she may be able to escape the cage, but she’s still locked in the game, so she can’t truly be free. If anyone knows about Code Lyoko (an artifact from my childhood), it’s the same basic scenario.

Sword Art Online Episode 18

Ahhh…you were so close Suguha! Just open the door! I’ll be upset if there’s one of those awkward conversations between the two where one of them goes “you remind me of my brother/sister” and the other responds with “what’s he/she like?” That would just depress me.

Anyway, so the “beater” of Alfheim is the renegade…kind of stupid, really (though understandably something people might think). Personally, I would pick a race in game for its benefits…so I guess it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to assume many others of the same race would have similar interests as I do. But doesn’t that mean I’m competing with them?

More importantly, Asuna found the code to the door…much earlier than I expected. Does this mean she gets to escape and join Kirito now? The opening seems to suggest she stays locked up…so maybe she gets caught? But that would be too depressing. Personally, if I were trying to troll the viewers, I would make it so that the guy changes the code every time, but that’s just cruel, right? I guess she gets out long enough just to talk with Kirito and reassure him…that’s the most logical thing I see happening. I would hope that sort of thing happens soon, but I guess Kirito and Suguha have to deal with these reds chasing them next week…

Sword Art Online Episode 17

So the master, evil plan has been revealed by Sugou (Asuna’s fiance). It gets into a lot of the interesting topics of the brain-computer interface, the idea of using a computer to affect the brain. Theoretically possible, but as he said, highly unethical. If you think of the memories as an identifying feature of a person, you’re theoretically killing someone and replacing them with someone of your own design, aka playing god. He even revealed that he trapped Asuna and the others on purpose.

I’m a bit curious about where the other trapped players are right now…he said he was experimenting with them, but does that mean they appear in the game? Or is this remote and separate from the game? I wonder if it’s anyone we know…I didn’t see too many familiar faces on the list he flashed this week. Oh well…at least the final boss is very clear in this arc.

On an unrelated note, Kirito would pick a race that’s all about farming (for clarification, I mean the RPG definition of this term in doing often repetitive tasks to gain experience, items, or gold). Lyfa said that Spriggans specialize in illusions and treasure hunting, so my brain automatically thinks “Kirito gets extra gold and higher drop rates, and he can also farm safely using things like clones to distract the AI).

Speaking of Lyfa (and ending the game terminology), I wonder how long it’ll take for Suguha to realize Kirito is actually her brother. I mean, all Kirito has to do is go into her room and see the giant Lyfa poster, but clearly he doesn’t do that at all. Will she find out near the end or will it happen soon? My bet is soon…although, I can’t believe she didn’t just instantly recognize him because of how he looks. Anyway, next week they go to the World Tree? It feels like Asuna and Kirito should have some form of communication soon, but I don’t see how that can happen. Seems odd to have him fly in the dark (get it? cuz he has wings?).

Sword Art Online Episode 16

Yui has finally returned in the form of a Pixie! Anyone else think it was kinda stupid for Kirito to delete her item, which I’m assuming at that point was like a backup of her core data? What if Cardinal destroys her again? But I guess it’s an older version of Cardinal, so Yui should be able to handle it.

Speaking of Cardinal and the system of the new game Aflheim, I shuddered a bit when Yui used the word “copy” for the former SAO servers. It suggests that the SAO servers were shut down, but the data was first replicated into a different server. This then suggests that if they hadn’t been shut down, there would technically be “two Asunas” or whoever is still trapped in the world. That just has some weird implications. Makes more sense if Aflheim runs on SAO’s servers, which were never shut down (which may be what it is, but this isn’t made very clear).

Agil described this game as being more magic-based than SAO…I guess they’re trying to cover all extremes when it comes to genres of gaming. But one thing he said bugs me…he said something about athletic ability being part of how skills work in this new game. It’s not completely clear what that means. I wouldn’t expect Kirito is so strong in real life that he’s able to overpower those characters…clearly it’s a god mod from his past data. But does this mean that later on, his physical ability will help him somehow? That’s what isn’t clear to me.

Anyway, next week it looks like we’ll see what really happened to Asuna and why she’s in that birdcage on the World Tree. Also, Asuna’s replacement seems fairly similar to her so far (Leafa, was it?)…guess we’ll see how she is too. She isn’t using the wing controller, so I get the sense of mobility from her…that’s all. I guess Kirito gets recruited by the Sylph? Or do he and Leafa just get disowned by their races? Not like he cares…he’s used to being a one-man army after all. And is the sister supposed to join this game too?

Sword Art Online Episode 15

And now for the second arc of Sword Art…with extra fairies. Anyone else really wondering why they chose fairies? Seems kinda random to me…I guess whatever works. Anyway, we also meet Asuna’s messed up fiancee. Please don’t tell me he’s the main villain. I mean, he didn’t act too much like he knew anything, but he’s part of the team helping to maintain the servers…so it’s highly suspicious. But yeah, Sword Art managed to get even more .hack-like, with Asuna seemingly trapped in the game with three hundred others.

There’s also this thing with his sister/cousin…he married Asuna in the game, so she doesn’t count as a love rival, right? I’m not a fan of seeing Kirito as a wuss now that he’s out of the game…at least his kendo skills are decent from all the practice he got in game. So I guess the next part is all about waking Asuna up before she’s forced to be married? I hope it’s not “complete the new game and she’ll be saved”…that same thing again. At least do something different…like using Virus Cores to access the Lost Grounds and destroying Cubia…hypothetically. Oh, and new music is good…nothing much else to say about it.