Monday, February 23, 2015


07-Ghost is an anime series adapted from a manga by the same name.  The story takes place in a universe where in recent history one country, Barstag, broke the peace and attacked and pretty much destroyed the neighboring Raggs empire.  The war between these countries continues, with the Church the only place of asylum for people from either side.

The Church history is integral to the plot and goes like this: the God of Death, Verloren, escaped to earth after some misdeed in Heaven and inhabits all people’s hearts, causing them to despair.  The head God sent seven “ghosts” to earth to punish and seal Verloren and act as guardians for people.  Verloren can still influence people through his minions, the Kor.  When people make a contract with Verloren and turn to evil, a mark appears on their chest.  Only Church Bishops can remove this “Verloren’s curse”.   The 07 Ghosts are essentially immortal, living as people, and reincarnated with each death and retaining memories of their past lives.

Some of the people in this series have the ability to use magic or a supernatural power, which they refer to as zaiphon.  These are special people who are either snapped up and trained by the military or become members of the Church.  And of course the reincarnated 07 Ghosts can use these magical powers.  Along with these magics, there are two magic talismans, one in each kingdom, called the Eye of Mikhail and the Eye of Raphael, which are stones which inhabit the body of their wielder and give him the extraordinary power of either the Archangel Mikhail or Raphael.

The main character in this series is a young boy named Tate Klein, who is a student in the military academy at the start of the story along with his best friend, Mikage.  Tate has amnesia and doesn’t remember anything before being raised as an orphan by the Church prior to becoming a military cadet.  In the first episode Tate runs afoul of a military commander named Ayanami, who he suddenly remembers as the person who killed his father.  Tate attacks Ayanami and is taken into custody but escapes with Mikage’s help. Tate flees, but is injured while escaping.  He is found and taken in by Bishops of the Church in District 7, which has sanctuary laws.  There he meets the three Bishops who help him out.  They are: Frau, who is also the Ghost Zehel and wields Verloren’s Scythe, Castor, who is also the Ghost Fest, and Labrador, who is also the Ghost Profe.
Along the way the Bishops and Ayanami (who is also the bad guy, reincarnated Verloren) discover that Tate is not only the prince of the Raggs empire, but he holds the Eye of Mikhail and can wield Mikhail’s powers.  Needless to say, Ayanami and the military want Tate, and try to get him throughout the series without obviously breaking the sanctuary laws.  Tate essentially ends up between Verloren and his Kor (Ayanami-tachi) and the 07 Ghosts (Bishops), and throughout the series, the bad guys make plays for him, and the good guys work to protect him.
During the course of the series, Mikage joins them at the Church, but dies due to his treatment by Ayanami.  His spirit stays with Tate though in the form of a small pink dragon.  Tate for his part is loath to make friends having lost Mikage.  He is safe in the Church and eventually starts training to become a clergyman.  He is mentored mostly by Frau and protected by everyone, including a fellow student named Hakuren, who befriends him.  Tate and Hakuren take and pass the Bishop exam together.  And the series ends.

This series was interesting enough to watch, but the plot was slow, never went anywhere, and the ending was pathetic.  Basically there was no ending and the story line was just dropped where it stood.  The character style and animation was pretty though, and the music was pretty decent.  For those things I enjoyed watching it, but I was completely let down by the total lack of anything resembling closure, or any tying up of the half a million loose plot ends.  The series needed either another season to be complete, or faster plot movement toward some sort of ending.        

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sword Art Online II - second half

This post finishes up the second season of Sword Art Online.   After the Gun Gale Online arc with essentially only Kirito and Sinon participating, the second half of the SAO II season brings the rest of the original SAO cast back into the picture.   There is a short arc in which Kirito and Asuna and friends, plus Sinon, take on an afternoon quest in Elfhame Online.  It involves the whole gang and retrieving a magic sword, as well as restoring a dead and mostly abandoned land to life.  Leafa and Klein have slightly more roles in this arc than in other arcs, and Liz and Silica are also part of the questing team.  Of course, the gang wins the quest and Kirito gets another sword.  This little quest is a filler quest and doesn’t occur in the SAO light novels.

The last of the second season is the arc called Mother Rosario.  It begins with challenge fights between a mysterious fighter in Elfhame who sets up and offers a chance to win a prize to anyone who can challenge the fighter and win.  Most of the people in Elfhame Online give it a try, but no one can beat the fighter.  Asuna gives it a try and they battle essentially to a draw, at which point the fighter grabs Asuna and drags her away to talk.  The fighter turns out to be a girl named Yuuki who is a member of a guild called the Sleeping Knights. 

The Sleeping Knights have a goal to beat a level boss and win that level.  If a single guild beats a level boss, they get their individual names inscribed on a great memorial wall in Elfhame’s primary city.  If more than one Guild beats the boss together, only the guild names are inscribed.  The Sleeping Knights are going to have to stop playing Elfhame Online, so they want their names inscribed on the wall before they go.  The problem is that there are only 6 of them, a number of players which normally cannot beat a boss.  They have decided to recruit one person who can beat their strongest fighter, Yuuki – and that person is Asuna.

Asuna agrees to help Yuuki and the Sleeping Knights.  They become friends while training and discussing strategy.  They try a boss level for practice and fail, but they discover that they failed an earlier attempt because a bigger Guild is spying on them and using their experience to plan and defeat the boss before they can get back to it.  When Asuna realizes this bit of information, she encourages the Sleeping Knights to go immediately and try this boss again.  They do, only to find their way blocked by members of the bigger guild who are there to keep anyone from trying until the big guild all gets there and takes the boss.  Asuna and Yuuki-tachi fight their way through the guild members, aided in the nick of time by Kirito, who holds off the big guild while Asuna-tachi tackle the boss.
Asuna, Yuuki and the Sleeping Knights succeed in defeating the boss and get their names on the Wall.  During the celebration at Asuna’s Elfhame house, Asuna says she wants to stay friends with the guild and learn more about them.  Yuuki gets upset and logs out.  Asuna begins searching for her in both virtual reality (VR) and real life (RL).

With Kirito’s help Asuna locates Yuuki, who is dying from a virus she got at birth.  In fact she’s been dying since birth, and is the last of her family alive.  It turns out all the Sleeping Knights have terminal illnesses, which is why they wanted so much to win their quest and have their names memorialized on the wall. 

The last three episodes of this season are TRAGIC.  Really TRAGIC, with Yuuki dying in Asuna's arms at the end, and leaving Asuna her sword skill, Mother Rosario.  Be prepared to cry.  Despite the tragedy, I enjoyed this season of SAO almost as much as the first season.   The characters are still fun to follow as they deal with both RL and VR and come to terms with their hangups.  Asuna’s mother has been trying to get her to give up online gaming and switch to a better school, so along the way in this arc Asuna and her mother manage to come to terms, thanks to Yuuki.

Sword Art Online, both seasons, have been following the light novels fairly closely.  This second season ends at the end pf the 7th volume of the light novels.  Despite the ending of this season being pretty definitive, I'm kind of hoping they do another season of SAO, because the story and characters are interesting and fun to follow.