The Watchening: Phantasy Star Online 2 The Animation, Episode 3

This week’s episode is called “Role Play,” in which our hero learns about… well, role playing.  Really?  Goddamn, this is some basic shit.  I thought this was a PSO2 anime, not an RPG introduction course.

What? No, I'm not gay! but my CHARACTER is into some hot yaoi shit.
What? No, I’m not gay! but my CHARACTER is into some hot yaoi shit.

We begin the episode with the molten volcano area.  And you know what that means!  KORE DE OWARI DA!  VOL DRAGON, BITCHES!


Vol Dragon.  This asshole is how new players are introduced to epic bosses.  Fuck that Rockbear; it’s a pushover.  Vol Dragon is the real deal.  The sucker’s huge, it has huge attacks, it attacks quickly and AoEs the entire arena, it has breakable body parts, and it has multiple forms.  It’s the perfect newbie wall for the game.  This opens up a perfect opportunity to expose our viewers to the kind of epic experiences they can encounter in the game and teach them about the unique mechanics of the game and show off the importance of tactics and teamwork.

It gets beaten offscreen.

Are the storyboarders just downright incompetent?  That was a fucking home run waiting to happen.  I just looked up the old video I uploaded back when I fought it at an appropriate level.  It took me 18 MINUTES.

Okay, enough ranting.  Moving on.

SORO (which I just now realize… “solos…”) tells Itsuki that the true heart of PSO2 is in forming connections through acquaintance.  Which is… redundant…

We also meet with Sasaki, who Itsuki seems to attempt to befriend, but may have come on a bit strong by giving him a nickname right off the bat.  It seems to chase him away, but I’m pretty sure it won’t be for too long.

Notice me more, Vice President-kun...
Notice me more, Vice President-kun…

Itsuki tells his friend Kota about what SOROS told him earlier, and Kota decides it’s the perfect time to introduce him to the regulars he parties with.


Of course, before that happens, Itsuki gets a taste of Kota’s overexcited role playing.  By the way, Itsuki is using one of the newer races, the Duman.  They’re easy to tell apart by their heterochromic eyes and single horns popping out of their head.

Itsuki learns that there’s an annoying troll in the block, and… that’s about it.  He asks if being a troll is fun, and Kota says it’s fun for them, maybe.  But then it’s on to some multi-party play!  Hey, we’re actually learning something about the game!  12 players, one area!  Dare I ask… PSE Bursts?

Well… no.  All we see is some generic group play.  They really did a shit job of selling how awesome it is.  Still, Itsuki seems excited.  Experiencing group play for the first time changes his demeanor in school, as he stops seeing “grunt work” as a chore and seems hyper-excited about helping others out.

One wonders if he has a personality of his own.
One wonders if he has a personality of his own.

The crushing reality of menial labor soon wipes the smile off that face, thankfully.  After a while, Sasaki offers to help him out, so he takes up the offer and moves on to other tasks.

H-here?  In the school?
H-here? In the school?

He eavesdrops on two workers and finds out that they were two of the party members he met last night.

I swear, they just keep throwing these at me.
I swear, they just keep throwing these at me.

The big tough guy plays the cute kid character Master Nezumi.

He's like a male Mistral...
He’s like a male Mistral…

And his health-conscious co-worker is OrgaCats.  Yep, the catgirl was a catGIRL.

That's weird.  I'd never name my character CarneAsadaTurtle.
That’s weird. I’d never name my character CarneAsadaTurtle.
It could be creepier.  You could have hit on her.
It could be creepier. You could have hit on her.

This revelation is met with… a strangely subdued reaction, relatively speaking.  I mean, it doesn’t always have to be over the top, but… Ah screw it.

When he returns to the council meeting room, he finds a note and gift from Sasaki.  That’s… cute, I guess?  Really not sure why they’re pushing this friendship so hard so fast….

He tells Kota about it and then asks if they can be part of a huge party again.  Just then, SORO shows up, and he gets invited.  Parties have a maximum of 4 slots, and conveniently, a fourth person asks to join.

Chances he's the troll: 99%. Chances he's also Sasaki: 65%.
Chances he’s the troll: 99%.
Chances he’s also Sasaki: 65%.

So now we’ve got a unique party makeup, and it’s actually starting to feel like we’ve got a working cast on our hands.

Hey, I'M impressed.  It took me months before I memorized emote hotkeys.
Hey, I’M impressed. It took me months before I memorized emote hotkeys.

It doesn’t take long for trouble to show up, and when it does, troll’s gonna troll.

Hey, no matter how good you are at pretending, there is no Bard class in PSO2.
Hey, no matter how good you are at pretending, there is no Bard class in PSO2.

So… he asks to join parties, then slacks off when the fighting begins.  Not only does this have diminishing returns, but there are ways to go about it without being so immediately blatant about it.

Personally I’d allow it so far.  PSO2 isn’t a particularly difficult game, and it could make for an interesting character.  But what are the chances that this is just advanced character play and not him being a dick just to be a dick?

Apparently, the character’s name is Musashi.  Well, now it’s obviously got to be Sasaki.

Well hello there... fabulously-dressed Sora.
Well hello there… fabulously-dressed Sora.

We skip the rest of the battle (I guess they just REALLY don’t want to spend too much screentime on actual gameplay) and we see Musashi getting chewed out in the lobby, him retaliating by insulting their skills, and him walking away while the players around him gossip in hush tones about the dreaded TROLL.  It’s absurdly melodramatic for something so mundane.

Musashi also sends a friend request to his party members.  Itsuki, against all advice, decides to accept and wants to talk with Musashi, apparently determined to see past his persona and touch the “real person” behind him.  Sounds interesting.  He catches up to Musashi and… lectures him about hurting other peoples’ feelings.  Um… wow.  That turned south ridiculously fast.  He gets brushed off and Musashi threatens to uncover his secret identity.  Itsuki doesn’t mind since he knows he does a shit job of it and turns things around by casually uncovering HIS secret identity.

Holy shit, is EVERYONE in this block a student at Seiga Academy?
Holy shit, is EVERYONE in this block a student at Seiga Academy?

Of course, it turns out that completely exposing his true identity is kind of a bad thing, and Izumi chews him out about it at school.  But probably for the worst reason imaginable.



He gets sent to make amends with Sasaki, but he won’t come out of his room.  But they’re connected through the game, so they have their important heart-to-heart in-game.  Blah blah blah, generic sob story… and blatant Sega advertising.

LOL, imagine being a Virtua Fighter 1 fan in the future...
LOL, imagine being a Virtua Fighter 1 fan in the future…

One public apology later and Musashi becomes a productive member of the block… though still a little assholish.

Izumi congratulates Itsuki in getting Sasaki back, then confesses…


But it turns out Itsuki already knew since she and SORO used the same phrases a lot.  He’s pretty good at this whole identity-uncovering thing, it seems.  The episode ends with him teasing Izumi about the thing she said in-game.

Overall, kind of an okay episode.  In some ways it’s more realistic than .hack, but it does seem to get a little heavy on the unrealistic melodrama.  Between the two, it’s still kinda pick-your-poisonish.  Though personally, I don’t think anything comes close to the BT episode of .hack//SIGN where she opens up to Tsukasa near the end.

Honestly though, I really wish this anime would spend more time being a commercial for PSO2 and showing off some of its best elements, rather than seemingly being more broadly about “an MMO” that just happens to be PSO2.

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