Holy shit it’s Sword Art Online. This episode promises to be terrible, what with it literally starting with Kirito fighting to earn Asuna the right to take a vacation from a guild that she is the goddamn vice-commander of holy shit I can’t believe I even typed that goddamnit Sword Art Online. That’s cool though, because once we get through Kirito saving the day, we might actually emerge into some normal banter between the two of them.
I’ve very often complained about this show never getting around to exploring its central conflict, but last episode proved that might actually be for the best. Sword Art Online’s biggest problem remains Kirito, and Kirito is always at his worst when the show presents an actual conflict. When it’s just adventuring or slice of life, he can interact with other people normally – but when there’s a dragon to slay, suddenly everyone else is useless, and Big Man Kirito takes the stage. It’s the show at its most transparently pandering, and as someone who’s not really getting his rocks off on how awesome Kirito is, it has me checking my watch basically every time it happens. Even this might be forgivable if those action scenes were good, but last episode’s climactic fight just wasn’t particularly well-designed, either. I enjoyed it because it was very silly, but it was not a quality piece of entertainment.
That’s cool though, because if actions scenes tend to demonstrate this show at its worst, then the non-action Kirito-Asuna scenes are clearly the show at its best. Asuna’s actually a reasonable character, and Kirito can interact more or less like a normal person when he’s not required to be Captain Hero. If Building a Better SAO requires kind of ignoring the actual plot, then so be it. Let’s get through this dickwaving contest and on to some much-earned vacation time.
0:09 – IF NOT, BOTH OF YOU SHALL PERISH goddamnit this episode whyyy
0:12 – You know what’d be kind of interesting? If he actually did lose, and was forced to engage with the guild, and maybe even grew from the process. And then we’d actually get a view of this game’s reality from inside a do-or-die guild, and there’d be this element of inherent antagonism, and Kirito would no longer be the only importOh wait that’s why they’re not doing it
0:35 – Kirito #1 baka. Don’t worry Asuna, I feel this way about 2/3rds of this show’s twists
0:59 – Alright, now’s your chance, SAO. Show me a sweet fight
1:09 – Ahahahahaha.
Oh. Sorry, I guess I’m supposed to respect this game’s balance as a thing. Ahem
3:23 – Nice detail. The best game stuff always seems to be the little incidental details, not the plot-relevant pieces. Though I suppose that might be reflective of how making arbitrary game rules plot-relevant kind of always seems a little fabricated, unless the game is simple enough that you can actually lay out all the relevant rules before players start messing with them. Not possible with the MMO itself, but probably something this story should have invested in when it came to the combat system specifically
3:30 – …I say, moments before the protagonist uses his super-secret protagonist-only dual-wielding ability
4:19 – This bit here is nice. The warping of perspective lends a lot of energy to the exchange
4:31 – Kirito I really don’t understand this “keep whacking his shield” strategy
4:44 – Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be to the first strike? Eh, whatever
Also, hey, Kirito lost! I don’t know how he lost, and I also know it’s not actually going to end up counting, but still!
5:52 – Man, this could all end up being a pretty okay metaphor for how, as the cliche goes, ‘life is what happens when you’re making plans.’ Kirito ends up kind of accidentally accustomed to his role in the guild, which might play in interesting ways off the theme of any place being a valid reality if you can find humanity in it
Look, I gotta talk about something, and if it has to be my own theoretical rewrites of SAO, so be it
6:35 – Alright, guess we’re going with it. I will do my best to assume this Kirito is a
Kirito who was affected by the events of episode three
7:53 – This is pretty cute
8:38 – And I like that she immediately acts on being overprotective of him. When the show’s base subtext is “women need protecting,” that’s pretty lame, but individual characters of either gender having an instinct towards overprotection as an actual intended part of their personality is obviously a fact of life that can be handled in all sorts of ways. The problem really comes when Kirito does all the work for everybody, and the universe itself says “this is awesome and correct.” You generally need some distance between your characters and your authorial tone, or the story comes off as protagonist-worshiping nonsense. It’s basically the difference between Mahouka and OreGairu – “this teenager has the whole world figured out” versus “wow, this protagonist sure is a teenager”
9:15 – Oh boy
9:33 – It’d be nice if this guy were just kind of a proud jerk, but I don’t really trust this show to not have him be MWAHAHA evil
9:54 – KIRITO WHEN HAVE YOU ONCE ACTUALLY USED A TELEPORT CRYSTAL. THEY ARE LIKE FUCKING MOOD RINGS
12:10 – Okay, so his motive is “Kirito made me look bad in front of a girl, thus I KILL TWO MEN”?
12:20 – This fucking show. Alright, I’m laughing
12:39 – Rider noooo
Man, this scene is just so, so dumb. I don’t even know what to say about it. This guy doesn’t make any sense. This is all just designed to be momentarily shocking, but it isn’t, because none of this is grounded in anything. This seems like a parody of itself
13:00 – From what I’ve heard, this line is going to get infinitely more rich by the time we reach this series’ conclusion
13:53 – I dunno, it feels kinda like a teenager’s idea of gruesome drama. Not sure I’m gonna make it through this show, you guys
14:40 – Nope, the poison’s worn off, bringing the arbitrary drama of this juvenile torture-porn to an end
15:17 – Aw shit, Asuna! And he’d almost run out of drama-bar, too!
15:29 – THERE IS NO GOD HERE, ASUNA
15:40 – I do not fucking care how you explain Asuna’s last-second rescue. This scene is so dumb make it be overrr
16:12 – Haha yeah! Fuck him up! This guy was Evil, so now we get to fuck people up AND be Good!
Forget everything I said about this show not understanding the appeal of videogames. This show understands videogames all too well
16:41 – Oh man, those Evil dudes! YOU CAN’T TRUST ‘EM!
17:05 – Oh no. What have I become?
You killed a cliche, Kirito. The story was designed to force you to kill him but have it not really be a moral question. Don’t be so hard on yourself
17:29 – No, this is the writer’s fault
I can’t even tell how the show is supposed to be making me feel right now. This scene is one of the most ludicrous things I’ve watched in recent… no, just general memory
17:56 – LET US POISON THE ONE THING IN SAO THAT WAS WORTH A DAMN. LET US MAKE OUT ON THIS CORPSE-DRENCHED EARTH
Is the moral of this story that a gamer has to kill a man to achieve an erection
19:26 – Like, seriously? We’re actually going straight there? WHAT the FUCK
20:05 – WHAT A WACKY MISUNDERSTANDING
20:34 – At least Asuna doesn’t have one of those butt-hugging CC-style covers
20:39 – This is actually important theme stuff, but this episode will not fucking recover from that ridiculous middle scene. I just can’t take any of this seriously. My god
20:56 – Why oh why did they place this after an episode whose central plot event was a man torturing Kirito and then being killed by him. Why did that scene even exist. Why did the first nine-tenths of this episode exist at all
22:02 – I’ll never forget that day, that day you were tortured, killed a man, and then proposed to me in a videogame
YOU GUYS ARE ASSHOLES. WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME WATCH THIS SHOW. THIS SHOW IS TERRIBLE YOU ASSHOLES.
Can’t even believe that episode. Easily the worst, most ridiculous, most goddamn stupid one yet. WHAT DID THEY EVEN WHY DID… gah. I give up. SAO, there were parts in that ending where you started pretending to be a show worth respecting again, and you’ve pretended that reasonably well from time to time, but after that nonsense in the middle… no. Maybe I should take a day off before returning to you. Maybe that’ll help me be fair again. Because right now, I don’t feel like being fair. That was a real dumb episode, SAO. That was real, real dumb.