Sword Art Online – Episode 24

You guys are assholes. You know that, right? I get all optimistic and bright-eyed based on one half-decent episode, and the entire comment section starts friggin’ salivating. So yeah, apparently this episode’s gonna be another round on SAO’s wild rape train, or something equally horrible, and I should probably just steel myself for whatever hell awaits, but I’M NOT GONNA LET IT BE LIKE THAT. Sure, the one character whose journey I actually liked is out of the picture now. And sure, the conflict has now likely come down to the three characters who are co-responsible for everything terrible SAO has become. And SURE, Sword Art Online is always at its worst when Kirito needs to be a hero, and this problem will probably only be amplified by the fact that Snidely is such a transparently absurd cartoon villain, and Asuna will undoubtedly end up being used as more hero-fodder in some gratuitous and narratively despicable way…

Wait, where was I going with this.

Alright. Fuck it. I’m ready for this. Positivity, resilience, strength. It cannot possibly be worse than it has been. It cannot possibly be worse than it has been. It cannot possibly be worse than it has been.

Let’s Sword Art Online.

Episode 24

0:44 – Yeaaaah action music. WE GOT THIS. I mean, we’re getting a fight scene at the very least, right? This is the final battle. And the fight with whatshisface from the first arc was at least well-animated!

Sword Art Online

0:54 – HACKINGGG

1:06 – Man I fucking hated this zone. Trust an SAO villain to hide Asuna behind a bunch of curse frogs

1:17 – How DARE he. Stealing my waifu is one thing, but I WAS PROMISED ENDGAME CONTENT

1:18 – HE HAS MADE A MOCKERY OF PLAYER INVESTMENT

1:20 – Sock him one for me, Kirito. THIS CANNOT STAND

Sword Art Online

1:22 – Motivation: established

1:25 – Goddamnit daughteru not right now

1:28 – Ugh, fine

3:22 – Yeah I’m sure I’m gonna love this one

3:43 – Pretty

Sword Art Online

3:57 – This show often makes really excellent choices of exactly what to burn their animation budget on. You’d think it’d be the fights, because this is kinda sorta an adventure, but if anything were to “make” this series, it’d be your investment in the characters. And the animation team understands that, and thus while the fights are often actually pretty bare and uninspired, the emotional moments are given an excellent breadth of expressions and fluidity of animation. This arc wasn’t about defeating the bad guy, it was about reuniting the heroes, and so that reunion is given this beautiful panning shot (a really difficult trick in animation, since changing perspective angles means you have to redraw everything) complete with constant expression changes and movement from both characters. Really smart, polished work by the adaptation team

4:27 – -swoons-

4:36 – In spite of arriving at midday, Kirito actually waited until the lighting was exactly right for his dramatic rescue. He is nothing if not professional

4:51 – It’s always some fucking thing

Sword Art Online

5:19 – Look you can only kill a daughteru so many times before your feels-dividends start diminishing

5:43 – Man he must have been polishing this speech for weeks. I am torn between my disgust at stories that use sexual assault for cheap emotional gain and my love of villains who just fucking love evil

And jesus christ how did I not immediately realize that’s Dio’s voice it’s so beautiful

5:51 – Oh right because it’s attached to this dork. Can someone just graft Dio’s head onto this guy’s body?

5:55 – Dude stop it I’m not calling you that

Sword Art Online

6:43 – Aw shit it’s Keikako’clock

6:47 – Pictured: Character Writing

7:03 – I mean I guess it is important to set high goals

7:16 – STOP SAYING THAT ASUNA YOU’RE PLAYING RIGHT INTO HIS HANDS

7:20 – SEE

Sword Art Online

7:33 – Oh Dio, you card

7:38 – Oh god fucking damnit not again with the restraints whats with this author and the restraints

7:51 – No stop it stop that look

8:09 – Also unacceptable

8:22 – god I hate this show

Sword Art Online

8:25 – that’s super interesting

8:58 – Hey, it’s like episode 10 and episode 21 at the same fucking time. WONDER OF WONDERS

9:02 – WHY DOES THIS GAME HAVE A “PAIN ABSORBER” FUNCTION

9:12 – Ah, now I see why this all takes place in a game. It’s so the author can just turn a literal dial to arbitrarily increase the tension. BRILLIANT

9:24 – Nine minutes in. I can make it

Sword Art Online

9:39 – I lost it around episode ten, SAO. THIS PROVES NOTHING

9:46 – could we just not be doing this right now, SAO. could we be doing literally anything but this

10:19 – yeah, it got worse. it got worse. you fucking fucks you were right it got worse. HOW DOES ANYONE WRITE THIS SHIT.

10:21 – Sure. Why not. I don’t care about these characters, show – you’ve given me no real reason to, and you’ve clearly demonstrated that all of them but Kirito are just devices to you. Devices to set up a great, heroic turn from the savior of everyone. Devices that are occasionally useful to demonstrate someone else is evil, but not ones who you’re interested in treating with dignity in either a narrative or human sense. Do what you want with them, show. They are dead to me

Sword Art Online

10:35 – OKAY I WAS BLUFFING SHOW STOP IT HOLY SHIT HE IS LITERALLY DRINKING HER TEARS WHYYYYYYYY

whyyyyyy

10:45 – I hope you enjoyed this prolonged sexual assault dedicated to demonstrating the man whose plan is “alter peoples’ brain chemistry to take over the world” is evil

10:47 – yeah let’s just get right in there

10:49 – You gotta get ’em fresh off the waifu for that new-tear taste

Sword Art Online

11:14 – Why would you even think that. The moral here is “some people are just really fucking evil, apparently”

11:19 – Oh, is this the theme now? Is this what we’ve decided this arc was actually about? Author, you gotta pick your theme at the beginning of the story. You can’t just tell a story about waifus and warfare and then arbitrarily have the protagonist SAY “gee, that sure was an interesting reflection on trade politics in the West Indies!” If your protagonist has to tell the audience what your story was about, your story quite likely was not about anything

11:47 – Wait, who is he talking to now. If he’s talking to who I think he’s talking to I am going to throw up in my mouth

11:57 – GOD FUCKING

Sword Art Online

12:00 – Time now for an inspirational speech from the dude who killed thousands of innocents and then forgot his own motivation. And who… apparently lives on in Kirito’s heart? A glitch in the matrix? Fuck it, sometimes old bad guys come back as motivational good guys, so that’s what we’re doing

12:17 – meanwhile

12:28 – Kirito I am going to kill you

12:45 – So I guess Kirito’s secret weapon is an inspirational speech from a mass murderer, and now he can stand in the super gravity. You know, that’s actually more of an explanation than his last random revival, so I’m gonna take that as a win

Sword Art Online

12:54 – Oh dang, that’s actually legitimately solid. I mean yeah, “administrator password what’s that lol” etc, but at least it’s a variable we knew about that could conceivably be used to get the upper hand here, and even puts his SAO-knowledge to use

13:08 – Dude it’s like fifteen inches higher

That’s right, wrongeverytime’s got all the classy jokes

13:56 – aw cmon you could at least generate her a shirt first

14:15 – Wait seriously you have to do your stupid hero thing first? I thought the one thing we just established was that you’re not…

Oh wait no, that was just to set up the murderer guy’s motivational speech. Kirito wasn’t actually at fault after all!

Sword Art Online

14:19 – Kirito is so cool he gives himself his own nicknames

14:24 – WHAT in the FUCK Kirito. I was just kidding about that “you are a crazy bloodthirsty psychopath” stuff!

14:30 – Wait, now the MASS MURDERER is the HERO we’re looking up to as we TORTURE THIS MAN TO DEATH?!?

HOLY SHIT GAMERS HOLY SHIT I AM SORRY ABOUT EVERY SOCIOPATHIC THING I HAVE INSINUATED DO NOT COME TO MY HOUSE

14:56 – Yeah, APPARENTLY YOU DO

Sword Art Online

15:04 – Sword Art Online’s blind, absurd, legitimately frightening double standards in a nutshell. Just like how it plays up waifu purity on the one hand and leers at its characters on the other, just like how every other male character is designed to ‘control’ women in contrast to them willingly fall into Kirito’s arms, here we have Kirito not being a psychopath… because he’s Kirito. Just because. Because he says so. Because he’s the one we’re supposed to like, and so we get to cheer when he fucks up bad guys.

Not that stuff like “waifu purity” wouldn’t be toxic if the show weren’t being hypocritical about it, of course. But come on, keep your grossness straight, SAO.

15:28 – Yeeep

15:31 – So this show actually assaulted one character so it’d feel good when the hero tortured another. It used the cheap shorthand of “villainy” that is bad-rape-writing in order to make this somehow an Okay Thing. Show, that doesn’t justify it. That multiplies the badness

15:40 – Haha! Yes!

Sword Art Online

15:58 – You get ‘im, hero!

16:11 – What a joy it is to be doing the Lord’s work

Holy shit. Wow. Wow. Wow. That was so, so very fucked up. I didn’t… I mean, I knew things would get bad with Asuna again, but I couldn’t… how could I have known it would… like, that’s far beyond any of the negative implications I was…

This show is really, really popular. That means… that definitely implies a lot of people just found this scene awesome, right? They didn’t see anything wrong with what just happened here?

I’m gonna go sit down for a while.

16:28 – Anyway, baby. Back to the reunion

17:23 – I’m sorry Asuna, but as long as one gamer draws breath, this will never end

Sword Art Online

18:35 – That’s because he doesn’t actually have anything to say

19:06 – Oh shit it’s the actual sequel

19:27 – So he’s like Mufasa except he killed three thousand people

And Done

What can I possibly say to express how soul-crushing that episode was on every level? The first arc had bad writing. Lots of bad writing. It had no focus, inconsistent characters, ineffective melodrama, and constantly bent the narrative to make Kirito look good. The ending was a clusterfuck of things happening, the villain had no motivation, and the story didn’t really end up being about anything.

But this…

This wasn’t bad in narrative craft ways. Well, it was, but those aren’t important. This was bad on a holy shit I worry about the person who wrote such things level. Using the female protagonist as a “goal” to be won, and then abusing her just to ratchet up the tension? Taking advice from the game-obsessed psychopath who caused the first tragedy? And then gleefully cutting the villain to pieces in order to get your revenge?

That was really, deeply weird. Like with episode 10, it’s weird seeing these characters do these things and then just smile at each other, like nothing really happened. Does this writer see less humanity in these characters than I do? No, it’s really just that he doesn’t see any of these choices as meaningful ones, as anything more than What Stories Do. And in the end, it doesn’t really feel like this is about violence being “justified” through heroism. This feels like heroism as an excuse for violence.

I feel like I got a look into this writer’s dark heart this episode. And this writer is a scary place.

81 thoughts on “Sword Art Online – Episode 24

  1. 7:33 – Oh Dio, you card

    Shouldn’t this be “cad”? Also, I think I tweeted this at you a couple of weeks ago? He was actually playing both roles simultaneously at that.

    9:39 – I lost it around episode ten, SAO. THIS PROVES NOTHING

    I actually laughed. Though if we’re honest, some might say you lost it at episode 1 😉

    12:00 Fuck it, sometimes old bad guys come back as motivational good guys, so that’s what we’re doing.

    Except he can’t be a bad guy. This author has no clue how to do villains, so he does them all as ridiculously as Sugou. Meaning if you’re not batshit crazy with crazy eyes and salivating at how evil you are, you’re not a villain.

    Yes, you may take umbrage with Kayaba’s writing and portrayal if he’s not supposed to be seen as a villain, but considering his idealic speech and presentation at the end of the first arc, I’m pretty sure that’s how you’re supposed to look at him.

    It just hit me. Everyone speaks of Kirito as a Mary Sue, right? He might be the viewers’, but he’s not the author’s. The author’s Mary Sue is Akihiko Kayaba – he creates worlds, he dreams of distant worlds, and he will make people suffer in order to realize his dream. But in the pursuit of a dream, and when everyone’s virtual anyway, you can be forgiven.

    Also, the author is stepping into the story to help his protagonist.

    16:11 Kirito the Villain.

    Yes. He’s definitely a villain here. I always sigh when people post in news about how a rapist/murderer should be raped/tortured. How when people talk about villains in anime online how they wish they had been tortured. Because, that’d make you heroic, and nothing like them at all, right? ;_;

    In general.

    This episode was bad. I really hated all the sexual assault shit, and I really hated Kirito the torturer, which is presented to us as heroic.

    I’ve rewatched this show, not in order, numerous times, but I think I always skipped this episode, going from episode 23 to 25 >.>

    • Yes. He’s definitely a villain here. I always sigh when people post in news about how a rapist/murderer should be raped/tortured. How when people talk about villains in anime online how they wish they had been tortured. Because, that’d make you heroic, and nothing like them at all, right? ;_;

      This is my main problem with the death penalty. People claim to be on a moral high ground and go “you should be punished for killing people!” And then they kill them to show how they are better than the criminals for not killing people. It’s hypocritical and disgusting.

      • I definitely agree.

        Also, I spent quite some time in my Log Horizon write-ups with Crusty going “berserker” noting how Lenessia seemed troubled, and how troubling it is.

        I like shounens, which include the hot-blooded slaying, but I don’t like its context, and I don’t like the double-standard. I like it for the action, and I’m fine when no one dies as well.

        We’re so used to violence in fiction, to treating it as alright, and then people call for it in real life quite a bit.

      • I’m not sure how life in prison without parole is better though. Putting it simply, is there a time where someone does something so horrible that nothing they do can redeem them (the obvious example would be Hitler)?

        Justice is something I think people should decide for themselves.

      • I never said it’s “better”, though considering how most people would rather live, and you can still read books, and expand your horizons in prison, it’s probably better.

        I was pointing out how the call for the death penalty in most cases is pretty terrible and ill-thought, or just a poor attempt at hiding bloodlust.

      • A little off topic, but the reasons people bring up, in some fashion or other, for the death penalty lead to the core following:

        1. Personal Satisfaction
        2. Impersonal Retributivism
        3. Incapacitation
        4. Deterrence

        Of course, modern liberal society generally disdains the first reason, but what do you guys think about the other three?

      • Bear in mind, while the death penalty may be up for debate as punishment as cruel and unusual, modern liberal utilizations of corporal castigation don’t involve external torture, unless one wants to be broad on the definition of torture.

      • Guy kinda answered those points in the post he linked, but in general I’d say:

        B) The function of the justice system should be that to educate and shape the society, not to provide “retribution”. There is literally no way to know what the proper “retribution” for a crime is. Someone might commit a murder in rage and actually be so struck with guilt afterwards that it is punishment enough; someone else might not give a rat’s ass. Justice doesn’t administer karma, you’d need to be an all-knowing God for that. Justice only needs to re-educate, keep the society safe, and deter. Death penalty clearly does not re-educate the criminal in any way. As for the other two points…

        C) True, but life sentence does that too, except for the mild chance of escape (but on the other hand, with prison you can always partially amend a potential judicial mistake…). And really, except for the most heinous, deviant of sociopaths, I don’t think anyone is completely irredeemable and would reiterate crime as soon as they’re free again. Crime is a function of both person and context. Crime isn’t that appealing actually – lots of risks and, very often, not much gain. It takes little to put a person in a position where if they have anything resembling common sense they’ll see that they’d have better luck sticking with the rules rather than not. As for white collar crimes, you just need to make sure people who committed them don’t get a position of responsibility ever again. Try corrupting someone while staying at a McDonald’s till, smartasses.

        D) Probably doesn’t work much, just look at crime rates in USA and Europe… I think death penalty is part of a “narrative”, it helps pit the whole crime thing (I’m talking organized crime here, crimes out of rage/madness are, well, irrational, so there’s basically no deterrent that could work for them anyway) as a “get rich or die trying” kind of affair. It’s like a war, for some reason people always went happily to their deaths as soon as they perceived it as being this epic, heroic narrative which pits their country/village/tribe/religion vs. someone else who wants to oppress it. Prison is more humiliating and lacks the fanfare. In fact, the enemy letting you live means they’re so much stronger than you they don’t even need to consider you a threat! That breaks the narrative. Every time some politican fear mongers about the dangers of crime, a criminal glees thinking how strong and powerful must he be, that even the government fears him that much.

    • Cad/Card

      “Card” is actually what I meant – it’s an archaic term sometimes used in a “you joker, you” sense, generally by simpering British ladies at Jane Austen-style parties.

      9:39

      Hah! Finally got you with one. I think our senses of humor have borderline zero overlap, so nice.

      Kayaba

      Yeah, considering the “it was justified because reasons” stuff with Kirito this episode, I shouldn’t be surprised this guy is considered a Wise Mentor because he believes in the videogame dream. SAO is a pretty strong case study in why it’s so important to understand people for writing stories.

      This whole episode

      Pretty great unintentional demonstration of the danger of thinking in binary terms!

      • Pretty great unintentional demonstration of the danger of thinking in binary terms!

        At this point, so is almost any online discussion.

  2. Okay, now you’re actually past the worst bit. But I guess the question becomes whether you can ever learn to love again. I’m sorry Bobduh.

    For the record, the next episode kinda sorta implies that Kirito torturing someone wasn’t entirely kosher, but it’s in more of a “have your cake and eat it too” sense.

  3. Ah, you finally got through it. I think next ep is pretty harmless, so yeah, you got through the worst.
    Congrats!

    This show is really, really popular. That means… that definitely implies a lot of people just found this scene awesome, right? They didn’t see anything wrong with what just happened here?

    Oh, absolutely.
    A lot of reactions were basically like this:

    • “AWESOME!!!!! that bastard finally got what he deserved. I hope he’s dead”
    • “I hate it when a hero is moralfagging and doesn’t properly punish the villain. THIS is way more realistic.”
    • “I totally would’ve done the same if I were in Kirito’s shoes!”
      • I’m not sure why you are so surprised at this. This kind of attitude is pretty common in history towards real people, let along fictional ones. Witch hunts, stonings, the death penalty. These things are more about revenge than for an abstract concept like “justice”.

        For example, there have definitely been incidents in wars where troops would torture captured enemy soldiers as revenge for the friends they’ve lost.

      • It’s nothing compared to the discussion following that episode of Valvrave, where I felt physically ill enough that I had to go and lie down.

    • Damn it! How could people justify Kirito’s action in this episode? Violence is not something to be glorified; we should only use violence when nothing else work. And make it quick and clean, do not take pleasure in other people’s pain.

      What the author had written is inexcusable. Did the fighting necessary for rescuing Asuna, when Kirito had obtained godlike GM status? And what Kirito had done to Sugo, can it regain Asuna “purity”?

      This isn’t a problem of SAO anymore, instead, this is a problem of SAO’s author and fans’ morality sense.

  4. It’s ok man. I heard there were support groups made after this episode of SAO, so you can be saved.

    Somehow.

    Until then, I’ll just be a few meters away, hoping the last episode doesn’t break you. You can make it. ONLY ONE EP LEFT!

  5. Based on mass media (especially wish-fulfillment shows like this) I’ve long thought many people’s notion of justice is both selfish and retributive. That is “the things this guy did make me feel bad, so for justice to be served this guy must be made to suffering until I don’t feel bad on the whole.” Under this view justice isn’t necessarily proportional to anything since the victims’ suffering or material loss isn’t relevant, only how it makes the audience feel. So a villain who kills a bunch of offscreen no-name types hasn’t actually done anything that bad: no “feels” = no moral weight. But a villain who hits the audience directly in their feelings must be made to suffer, perhaps infinitely (q.v. From the New World).

    So I guess I’m not terribly surprised that SAO both embodies this sort of narcissistic conception of righteous torture porn and is incredibly popular – I think appealing to this sentiment is in fact a key to its popularity, that there’s an audience (of people like the author?) that it’s intentionally targeting. I suspect it’s about feelings of powerlessness, with the point of retribution to relieve that feeling. Which also means that a villain who’s been thoroughly defeated isn’t really a villain in this sense anymore – they can’t make the hero/audience feel powerless = they can’t make the audience feel bad = they aren’t really bad, at least not any longer. I suppose they’ve kind of been purified by the violence used against them and now it’s fine for them to be mentors or even sidekicks to the hero regardless of the consequences of their prior actions and their lack of regrets for those consequences.

    • Yep – it’s all about this vague sense of “retribution,” of a proper punishment that feels right because it gives you some satisfaction apparently appropriate for whatever injustice you’ve suffered. I actually hadn’t connected this to the sense of powerlessness SAO specifically taps into, but you’re definitely right to – SAO is here offering an easy target for your powerlessness, and giving you the chance to literally attack your insecurities. It makes sense, but… yeah, it’s a terrible way to look at the world.

  6. Light novels have some serious problems when it comes to writing villians. Since these two shows recently concluded, I’ll use them as examples:

    No Game No Life constantly portrays its villians as not comprehending the bigger picture that the siblings envision. It also assumes that once these villians do comprehend Sora’s goals, they must inevitably side with him.

    Black Bullet is just… wow. All of the villians are just generics. They have no desire except to just be evil, unless they are a loli girl. All the male villians are people who even recognize that they do evil things and just don’t give a shit. The final episode made me cringe beyong belief when Kisara rants about being evil and only can kill evil. The author has no idea how to write a misguided character, so instead he just has all of them come to terms with being evil.

    • I don’t think we’ve seen a villain in NGNL thus far, only antagonists. If anything, it’s funny how “Shounen power of friendship!” it all is, as the antagonists become the siblings’ allies when “defeated”.

      • Nah, the narrative of NGNL is domination, not friendship. The hero proves his innate superiority over the women who then have no choice but to become subservient to his will. But of course, this is framed as being in their best interest. Can’t have these women running things without a powerful male figure in charge.

        …that is literally the entire story. Women in charge of things realize that they’re actually incompetent so they should just let a Man run things instead. There’s only one male character in the entire series other than the male lead, and he’s just the agent of another woman who learns her own incompetence when her own goals are achieved by her “enemy”.

      • I think you’re reading a bit too far there though, they’re not women because the story is trying to prove a point of superiority of men over women, they’re women because in this way it’s convenient as they double as fanservice once they’re allies. For how you put it, you’d say the day we see a male adversary in NGNL he’s going to be the real deal, but I doubt it – the narrative so far has not been men are superior, but Sora & Shiro are superior to everyone else. Which is surely a juvenile power fantasy, and comes with a lot of various fanservicey moments, but overall isn’t as toxic as some stuff seen here (though the way Steph is often bullied/made fun of can be obnoxious).

      • @higgsbosoff

        While you may be correct that the show is not ‘intending’ to send a misogynist message, the problem is that not only does it come off that way, but from my experience, the introduction of a serious male character WILL be the real deal. For example, God is Tet…

      • I rather liked the masked villain in Black Bullet. I would say he’s a complex and interesting character. He reminds me of Hisoka from Hunter X Hunter.

        One of the other villains was rather Sugou come to think of it. He was so irrelevant and ineffectual that I never paid him any mind.

        The kids dying near the end in Black Bullet did affect me to a certain extend. Or rather, I think the portrayal of the faceless discrimination and hatred that the children have to deal with done pretty well. That was just another reminder of it.

    • Black Bullet is pretty insulting. More so than NGNL.
      NGNL is condescending, and highlight all the worst thing about otaku, and assume you’re a perverted jerk like Sora, but it has enough undersanding to makes it pass as a joke.

      For Black Bullet’s author, subtility is an entirely alien concept (seriously, AoT is a tactfull and subtle place compared to it). Every important parts have to be stated out loud and illustrated with overblown dramas. Kagetane is a sort of exception, but it’s still overall pretty bad.
      Strangely enough, it made me feel like Rentaro at the end. After all this gruesome things happening , I ended up unable to feel. A dozens of cunjunctivis-suffering little girls are horribly killed, adn I can only sigh because I had no idea I was supposed to care about them (being cute isn’t character developpement).

      It’sstrange. NGNL has horrible morals implication, while Black Bullet’s ideas are pretty good (trying to conserve your humanity besides everything going wrong is a noble cause, while escaping reality in games is a pretty awfull moral), but NGNL, despite all his flaws continue to be entertaining.

      • I rather liked the masked villain in Black Bullet. I would say he’s a complex and interesting character. He reminds me of Hisoka from Hunter X Hunter.

        One of the other villains was rather Sugou come to think of it. He was so irrelevant and ineffectual that I never paid him any mind.

        The kids dying near the end in Black Bullet did affect me to a certain extend. Or rather, I think the portrayal of the faceless discrimination and hatred that the children have to deal with done pretty well. That was just another reminder of it.

      • What I found worse about Black Bullet was that it didn’t understand delivery. Let me break down the final episode as an example.

        In the final episode, we start with no lights because Generic Villian #3 threw the batteries into the sea. This is dumb as fuck, because it’s like this guy has no motivation other than being evil, especially when you consider that if he succeeds in his plot, he’s basically killing himself.

        Then cue the lights from the ceremony thing that float in the air. Absolutely brilliant. That was a great idea. That is, if Generic Villian #3’s only motivation wasn’t advancing the plot by being a dick.

        Then the bomb didn’t go off. Of course, something has to go wrong. But why the bomb not going off? It wasn’t made incorrectly! It just didn’t go off! This forces the Shouma guy to suicide. I completely disagree with this aspect because instead of creating concrete reasons why they fail, like Satomi being unable to get close to Aldebaron or something, the plot is creating inconveniences for otherwise successful endeavors, which removes the tension in the story.

        Some random business dude is revealed as the perpetrator. Again, why this guy? Why some random person we have never met? Apparently it’s because we need to get personal, since he’s Kisara’s brother. And just to make sure that we remember he’s a scumbag, he also killed Kisara’s parents with a Gastrea attack. Why a Gastrea anyway? Why not just poison him or something?

        So then this brother character dude thinks he can take on Kisara after being a lazy business man and gets his leg chopped off, because animating no strike is cheaper than animating a second strike (seriously? “faster than the speed of sound”?). And you know, this evil dude is now apologizing and begging for his life and thanking Kisara when his, you know, leg is chopped off. ‘Almost’ good characterization, if villians in this show were actually written so that we could see them feel sorrow for their actions.

        Then he explodes. Not bad, I didn’t see that coming. A good idea looms in the horizon. We got a yandere here. But then Kisara has to ruin it by saying “Your fists of justice…” and “I am evil”. Okay, we have a serious problem here, show. Is it so hard to just make Kisara think that Satomi is soft and must enforce true justice? No god damn self-righteous character admits that they are evil, or contrasts this with the main character who is apparently obviously in the right. And then she has to make a big deal about cutting down anyone in her way.

        It’s like the author has good ideas, then says “Ooo, what if I load it with cliches along the way!”

      • @moridin84

        The faceless discrimination and hatred was bad. Like, really bad. Why was it bad? Because the whole thing came down to:

        1. You should care about these kids because they are super cute lolis who all love Satomi-onii-chan because he’s so nice.
        2. HAHAHA, NOW WE KILLED THEM! HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT!?
        3. LOOK! ENJU IS SAD TOO! CARE! HUEHUEHUE!

        If Black Bullet insists on keeping the cursed children as all loli girls, then the fatal flaw the author had in his execution is that he did not develop these character in a meaningful way and lacked subtlety. Satomi looking at the dream notes were a great idea, if Enju didn’t run in to start bawling and he didn’t call Kisara to be like “WHAT AM I FIGHT FOR!? SOCIETY SUCKS! JUSTICE WHERE!?!?” He’s just so god damn explicit about it that I almost feel like it’s a joke. He even tosses the sheets away dramatically. Immediately after that, he’s like “Gotta fight, next time, on Dragonball Z…”

        It’s incredibly obvious that the author is just playing these girls for cheap effect.

      • The evil guy destroying the batteries was utterly idiotic I agree.

        The bomb not going off doesn’t bother me. Shit happens. I have more problems with them introducing Shoma 3 episodes ago, giving him an important backstory and then killing him off without giving him enough screentime. However, I was willing to accept that.

        I thought the bad guy was going to be that guy they dealt with before, the political bad guy. Instead it’s her brother we never heard of before and suddenly she’s turned evil or whatever. That was stupid as well.

        Sooo uhh, yeah I can’t really disagree with you here. And I bet the second season will probably go way off the rails.

        Still, for some reason I quite liked Black Bullet. Probably because I think the discrimination against the “Cursed Children” was done well, because I liked the action and because I liked some of the villains. And the show did have some okay villains, thinking about it more.

      • @Strident

        It’s not about those cursed children specifically. You don’t need to care about them, they just represent all the cursed children in Japan. Blowing them up just shows how terrible society is. It just shows (yet again) how society deals them.

        I guess it’s just a matter of opinion at this point.

    • I focused specifically on this in my Mahouka episode 2 post, but I think a lot of this comes down to these authors seeing the world from one very, very specific point of view, and basically being unable to parse any nuance or contrary views. People who disagree with you don’t have a different of values or opinions, they’re Evil.

  7. So in light of some of your commentary on this one… what’s your stance on the idea that video games promote real-life violence?

    • This would actually be an interesting choice. SAO to Bob is a story whose goals/messages are despicable, I guess. Chuunibyou 2nd season actually betrayed what it was about, originally.

  8. People are very hung up on taking the violent route when it comes to dispensing ‘justice’. Usually this is an eye for an eye type mentality, but what I noticed in this write up was Kirito’s line ‘It’s nowhere near the pain you caused Asuna!’ It seems clear that the author thought this end was merciful.

    But no, Kirito’s not even done with Sugou yet. Look forward to their /real/ final battle, Bob, although it’s less a battle and more like pouring salt in the wound of the dead horse.

    And now we have to deal with the second season…

  9. Just when I finished making me some (self-made!) Pizza I see this newest episode review; perfect timing.

    And yeh, I was actually really disturbed by this display of violence from the protagonist, even though the stuff prior to that was already adjusting my shock-level. Holy shit, he ‘murdered’ the guy in agony. Cut of a limb and then throw him up in the air to impale him with a gigantic sword? Even display this very, very graphically? Just wow.

  10. “But I never wanted to /become/ him”
    Well, with your “impale the villain with extreme violence” act there, I’d say you’ve definetly taken your first step.

  11. I didn’t like the episode because this villain is super trash (like Dio from Jojo). The violence stuff was quite enjoyable though. If i had to watch a guy playing/rapping with my girlfriend for several minutes i am sure i wouldn’t just try to make a moral speech to him (that would be completely unrealistic for a human being with emotions, but is what most shonen heroes in anime would do). Sure, i wouldn’t kill him (laws and stuff), but i would like to.
    This kind of subject remembers me of “Law Abiding Citizen”. I loved that movie.

  12. “You can’t just tell a story about waifus and warfare and then arbitrarily have the protagonist SAY “gee, that sure was an interesting reflection on trade politics in the West Indies!”” I mean, Spice and Wolf might be able to pull that off but they’re a special case (and I mean that in a good way for once).

    I would also like to note I was laughing so much at this post that the dog started barking at me from another room which doesn’t happen that often!

  13. Wait, last time I checked, heroes don’t torture a villain in pain and end with a brutal execution. Kirito’s not like Kamen Rider or Batman who kill when necessary, he’s the freaking Punisher.

    By the way Bob, I think this episode would be a good contrast to the final episode of Chaika season 1 in regards to how the protagonists dispatch the villains in a way that makes them at least less repugnant.

    How can the author justify all of this with a smile? If anything Asuna should be shocked that her companion had become so ruthless in his methods.

    • Kawahara’s belief is that unrepenting villains should be punished. Not just destroyed. The final villain in the Accel World anime was similar to Sugou, but with less rape. He was taken care of without mercy, as well.

  14. DARK SOULS CAMPFIRE STORIES:

    So in my first foray into the Great Hollow, I knew there were basilisks because I could hear them, so I had stacked up on about 8 or 9 humanity to spike my curse resist. I got through the whole place without taking any damage at all, until I reached the the lowest stratum of the place, and promptly got killed by big mushrooms that I mistakenly thought I could block.
    About the only consolation there is that it’s the gateway to Ash lake, and thus the incredible running battle with the Hydra there. That, and that the Cloranthy Ring is over there.

    • Great Hollow is nasty, but Ash Lake definitely makes it worth it. Easily one of the most beautiful, haunting, distinctive places in the game.

    • As for the recap itself… the episode was even worse that what I’d been led to believe, but the way you handled it is admirable. Props for keeping up the jokes coming even in the middle of that.

      8:25 – that’s super interesting. Actually burst into laughter at that bit (nervous one). Then was a bit horrified about what SAO would do to people. (On the same topic, by the way, I’ll confess that my first, instinctive reaction upon seeing Kayaba/Heathcliff pull a Deus Ex Machina was actual relief. Something along the lines of “please come back, take us away from this fucking mess and back to a semblance of plot, I’d take a vaguely-defined antagonist who’s a thinly-veiled Authorial Figure with a God complex over a vaguely-defined antagonist who’s a complete and utter psycho any day”. And then Kirito started praising him as if he didn’t kill thousands of people at all, and I felt nauseous. For this is SAO, and SAO will always find a way to make things worse.)

      11:14 – Why would you even think that. The moral here is “some people are just really fucking evil, apparently”
      … This is about you, isn’t it, Kirito? It’s always about you. The woman you supposedly love is being assaulted by a madman just in front of you, and you have to go and make that about YOU too.
      I have no fucking words.

      19:06 – Oh shit it’s the actual sequel
      And also Kirito is basically God, now. It’s like the Power Fantasy Apex. Why didn’t the show just stop there, may I ask?

      10:21 – Sure. Why not. I don’t care about these characters, show – you’ve given me no real reason to, and you’ve clearly demonstrated that all of them but Kirito are just devices to you. Devices to set up a great, heroic turn from the savior of everyone. Devices that are occasionally useful to demonstrate someone else is evil, but not ones who you’re interested in treating with dignity in either a narrative or human sense.
      Holy shit. Wow. Wow. Wow. That was so, so very fucked up. I didn’t… I mean, I knew things would get bad with Asuna again, but I couldn’t… how could I have known it would… like, that’s far beyond any of the negative implications I was…

      This show is really, really popular. That means… that definitely implies a lot of people just found this scene awesome, right? They didn’t see anything wrong with what just happened here?

      I’m gonna go sit down for a while.

      Sorry for the expanded quoting there… I just wanted to thank you for putting the confusion I felt towards this episode into words. Thank you, so much.

      I have a feeling that no matter the number of arguments one can find to sustain the fact that Kirito is in fact, not “heroic” by any sense of the term, that Kayaba is wrong in calling him such, that Kirito is wrong in deifying Kayaba, or that the morals of the episode are completely skewed – or, from an external standpoint, explain SAO’s popularity by power trips appealing to an audience of the fact that humans’ vision of justice encourages retribution, I won’t be able to react in any way other than “why?” I feel like I can rationalize its writing and the success thereof, but am unable to comprehend them. Perhaps I’m just too-close minded, or lacking the right distance.

      (Slight aside, but still generally in topic : Oddly enough, I’ve heard people call SAO the Twilight of animation. Kirito does indeed share some qualities with the Twilight male lead, the most noticeable of which might be that he’s always right, despite being a murdering psycho who revels in his own superiority. The episode reminded me of this
      http://das-sporking.livejournal.com/257881.html

      a forum post in which a mother (a real person, not a character) defended the murder of hundreds in the name of “superior justice”. The context is slightly different, but the issues dealt with here are strikingly similar… And it was a highly-grossing book too. These kinds of arguments are disheartening.)

      • @Strident – I’ve read them. And re-read them more thoroughly a couple years afterwards, when the movies were out and the books’ popularity were in full swing, and finally got to analyze them in closer detail via the community I’ve linked in the previous comment.
        Don’t get me wrong, I’m fully aware that Twilight’s context is very different from SAO. It’s teen romance at its chore, and a lot of Edward’s characterization (as the perfect male lead, the one that cannot do any wrong in the narrator’s eyes, all possessiveness and stalking be damned) can be chalked to the fact we’re viewing him through his highly infatuated significant other’s eyes. Still, might be my personal opinion there, but something in the way Bella was constantly praising his strength and speed, and harping on her own human weakness, compared to him, in her descriptions (not to mention how Edward himself seems to perceive humanity, even though he acts in a seemingly compassionate way towards them, see the entirety of Midnight Sun) I found a tad disturbing, even from read one. And Meyer herself has gone on record several times comparing humans to flies in front of her vampires, and describing them as beautiful, invincible, and superior to them in every way, in a fashion that leads me to believe they are, in fact, her own power fantasy.
        Again, that’s only my own perception. I wanted to clarify, nonetheless, because I might have drawn the parallel a bit hastily earlier.

        What I was referring to in this instance, however, is less the series as a whole than a specific example of the “heroism as an excuse for violence” Bob has seen at works with SAO. The post I’d linked is a fan of the series reflecting back on Edward’s so called “vigilante days”, during which Edward, being fed up with surviving out of animal blood, left home and hid in cities, preying on humans. While it was stated that he was supposedly singling out the “worst kind” (i.e. criminals and rapists) by using his telepathy to read their thoughts and see the crimes about to happen, he still killed people without much remorse (and why should he? They were bad guys after all.) The narrative tried to pass this as heroism, which is highly disputable in and of itself (when Edward’s primary reason to act was to feed himself), but this particular fan sees this as a good thing to do, because in her eyes Edward was exerting some kind of superior justice. Which is, imo, terrifying. Because he didn’t thought of it in terms of suppressing lives. He thought of it in terms of retribution. The fact these people were bad (nevermind that his only basis for “selection” was their thoughts, that’s another problem entirely) entrusted him to take action by himself, were human justice should have.
        Hence the Twilight aside. I don’t like to see such a message becoming normalized, is all. That doesn’t mean sticking to Black and White morality at all costs, either. Grey and grey is more interesting (and more accurate, from a real life point of view.) But I cannot view Kirito as a antihero, neither can I Vigilante!Edward, because the narrative never (or too rarely) acknowledges that their actions could even be morally ambiguous or sources of conflict. They’re supposed to be heroic through and through, and other characters and situations are used to highlight the fact they’re the good guy. Heroism, as far as I’m concerned, doesn’t -shouldn’t- work that way. Batman is a anti-hero. Kirito isn’t.

  15. This episode just went so far off the deep end that I couldn’t take it seriously.

    In regards to Kirito being a villain. I think that he would be more of an anti-hero, it’s not uncommon for dark anti-heroes to dabble in torture. Of course, the issue still remains that the show treats him as a hero.

    In regards to Kayaba “murdering 4,000 people”. That makes it sound like he personally killed them, what he actually did is create a game in which 4,000 people happened to die. I think that’s a significant difference. 3rd degree rather than first degree murder perhaps? In any case, Kirito getting over Kayabe indirectly killing 4,000 people is probably related to the fact that he is “grateful” to SAO because he met up with Asuna and etc.

    • Kayaba imprisoned ten thousand people in a situation where many of them were undoubtedly going to die, essentially creating a form of long-term torture that led to a tremendous number of direct deaths and suicides. I’d say that’s plenty murder-y enough!

  16. “This feels like heroism as an excuse for violence.”

    There’s a reason why in Shockz’s review thread of SAO in the Sufficient Velocity forum people there keep on making Spec Ops: The Line references. It really just fits so much. The quote that fits the most is probably “To kill for yourself is murder. To kill for the government is heroic. To kill for entertainment is harmless.”

    I’ve compiled it here by the way: http://imgur.com/a/M0VxA#0

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