‘Tis the season of excessive jargon: technobabble in three fall 2018 sci-fi anime

They don’t just “sound” complicated, pal…

One of my biggest annoyances with science fiction is exposition-dump technobabble: meandering, meaningless jargon that seems to enjoy itself for its difficult sounds rather than its actual utility in the story. Technobabble doesn’t have to be bad: the most iconic example I can think of off the top of my head comes from Back to the Future, which lightly satirizes big science words by introducing a nuclear-powered “flux capacitor” that requires “one point twenty-one gigawatts of electricity” to induce time travel. It’s funny when blabbered out by Back to the Future’s kooky, mad-scientist parody, (especially because the old man came up with the idea after knocking himself unconscious by falling off a toilet) but only so because so much science fiction uses so much use-less jargon unironically. (Please, use less!)

I don’t really have an argument this week. However, I did notice a few interesting comparisons in the use of exposition technobabble in the three three science fiction anime I’ve picked up this fall 2018 season (Sword Art Online: Alicization, Akanesasu Shoujo, and RErideD: Tokigoe no Derrida). With nothing better to do during some office downtime, I thought I would scribble down some spare impressions.

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Sword Art Online: Alicization and franchise fatigue

Alicization Franchise
Forever is hyperbole, but I feel Kirito’s frustration

[This post is in a way a spiritual successor to an earlier one about procrastinating favorite anime]

I like Sword Art Online. I really do, even if this post’s title might seem to indicate otherwise. With just a little teasing, I enjoy a bit of comforting adolescent mediocrity from time to time and nothing does it better than Sword Art Online. But… (and isn’t there always a “but?”) I don’t know how to keep pace with the series any more.

The franchise has produced so much material that I could never hope to dig through it all. Going by the Wikipedia page, it has more than 20 volumes of light novel, more than 30 volumes of manga, 11 video games across various platforms, an animated movie, two seasons of anime totaling 49 episodes, and the “Alternative” spin-off series with 8 volumes of light novel, 2 volumes of manga, and a 12 episode anime series of its own.

To top it all off, this fall 2018 season has introduced Sword Art Online: Alicization, a four-cour behemoth of an anime that will air for almost a full year from October 2018 all the way to September 2019. I expect to enjoy Alicization but… (that ominous word again) oh my… a year is a long time. The simple thought of engaging with such a long piece of media makes me feel a sort of preemptive fatigue. Instead of hyping up the new series, the feeling leaves me wondering: can I even finish something so long?

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Sword Art Online is better than Steins;Gate. No, seriously!

To think I would ever say that… I apologize for the clickbait title, I actually meant that Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (couldn’t think of a more succient title?) is better than Steins;Gate 0. And maybe to further clarify, I should say that S;G0 is worse than SAOAGGO (What an adorable acronym!) because neither are particularly good. And maybe as a final clarification, I don’t think the shows really ought to be compared given their stylistic and genre differences except that both happen to be on in the same season and I happen to be watching both at the same time. Real rigor for a first post…

So, with those caveats out of the way, I should perhaps modify my title to say “Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online is more fun to watch than Steins;Gate 0 as a week-by-week seasonal anime.” But of course, that title is too long and, to be honest, neither show is much fun to watch.

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