Sword Art Online II – Episode 6

And we’re back! Last episode was fun, lightsabers are pretty cool, DEATH GUN IS NIGH. Apparently Desu Gan is someone we already know from Sword Art Online, so it’s looking like it’s time for a good old friendly witch hunt. Is it Lisbeth? Is it KLEIN? I bet it’s Klein, we should kill him just to be sure. And then kill everyone who helped us kill him, it could be them too if they’re just willing to kill a dude like that. And then kill everyone who helped us hide the bodies oh god oh god DEATH GUN WAS ME.

Look, I’d watch that show. Whatever. Let’s watch episode six.

Episode 6

0:08 – ShadowZael mentioned on twitter that Desu Gan’s speech patterns make him think of friggin’ Chaika, and now I just cannot unseen it. She’s hiding under there, somehow. Maybe Desu Gan is actually just one Chaika sitting on another Chaika’s shoulders

Sword Art Online

0:10 – NO TIME FOR THAT TIME FOR SUSPECTS. Definitely kill this guy, super suspicious. Goddamn straw socialists

0:11 – Welp, that guy’s dead, think we can rule him out

0:12 – Also dead

0:15 – Jeez, that’d be impressive. Also, he didn’t play SAO

0:16 – Okay Kirito I think you forgot what we were talking about

Sword Art Online

0:46 – Jeez Kirito, you sure know a lot of dead people

0:48 – Yes, maybe start with the people who actually declared themselves murderers. That seems like a pretty good lead

0:50 – RIP Rider 🙁. He’s even holding that heartless murderer, the telepo…

Oh god.

Holy shit.

It couldn’t be

SAO, if DEATH GUN actually turns out to be a teleport crystal, all of your sins are forgiven

1:47 – Mark your calendar, Kirito.

Sword Art Online

Dang, Kirito’s kind of shaken up by all this, huh? On the one hand, it’s probably good that they’re actually addressing that two years trapped in a game surrounded by constant death would probably stick with you a little. On the other, this whole arc is following a second arc that didn’t feature any of that. It seems like they’re doing the “Kirito’s put his power fantasy past behind him – he’s a family man now. That is until his partner comes back and tells him about one last mission, and Kirito reluctantly agrees. But Kirito might have gotten more than he bargained for this time, and when the demons of Kirito’s past come back to haunt him, it’ll take more than an energy sword to Yada Yada Yada”, so I guess this is supposed to be kind of the first time Kirito’s actually had to confront the craziness of his past experiences. That at least kinda mirrors Sinon’s conflict!

1:57 – So I guess nobody else noticed DEATH GUN?

2:07 – Yep, looks like PTSD it is. This is nice, much better than the actual, overplayed confrontation – just let Kirito’s heavy breathing tell the story

3:59 – Wait, shouldn’t these guys have been, like, maybe investigated after everyone got unplugged? I mean, I know it’s impolite to say that people who act like sociopaths in online games are possibly inclined to be sociopaths in real life, but people who act like sociopaths in online games are inclined to be sociopaths in real life. Particularly when you’re, you know, playing a game where you can actually kill people

Hell, that’s even more urgent in the specific world of SAO, where Kirito’s central philosophy is predicated on the assumption that your online actions are reflective of your true self

Sword Art Online

4:51 – Oh wow holy shit. Alright, I guess “kill all the murderers” is a valid strategy!

6:53 – Hey maybe this guy is the murderer that you are looking for

7:00 – Yeah I’m beginning to think it’s not Klein

This whole situation actually does point to a much larger and more interesting issue, though – how do you deal with people who are just determined to ruin any online society? The “free exchange of ideas” of the internet is a nice concept, but trolls won’t just fit neatly into a larger tapestry – they will warp the fabric around themselves, and set the tone of the discourse. You can’t always err towards freedom of action – ultimately you have to choose what sort of society you want to create, and suffer the consequences of enforcing that environment. And in the case of a world like Sword Art Online, the relevant consequences can be quite serious indeed

7:09 – Really nicely animated sequence here. And it’s used for good purpose, too – unlike most of the fights in the first season, there is weight to this exchange. The animation demonstrates the force of their bodies as they attempt to physically overwhelm each other, giving an actual dramatic heft to this small exchange

Sword Art Online

7:13 – Honestly, I pretty much agree with Kirito on this one. And fortunately, unlike the first season, it doesn’t seem like the show wants you to feel good about this choice. It’s not a good choice. It’s awful

7:25 – And then we get these shots of the heroes looking far more violent and terrible than they usually do, because they’re doing a horrible thing. Pretty remarkable shift from “I’ll turn up the pain censors before I cut you in half” to this ugly, effective scene

7:40 – Also good. We can now very clearly see why Kirito would have such overwhelming feelings about this whole situation. He definitely should not be doing this job

8:01 – Really nice shot choice. It’s a classic shot, showing the shaking hands when someone’s losing control – but in SAO, a character POV shot of the hands has always been associated with entering a new world, with possibility and open horizons. They’re kind of “poisoning” that shot here, because it’s the first time Kirito has truly regretted a digital world altogether

8:15 – So do people not know what Death Gun looks like, or are we just assuming that’s a costume anyone could use?

Sword Art Online

8:49 – And Sinon, who can still see this as kind of impersonal, is giving him the pep talk

9:03 – But she recognizes a real-life truth in his behavior, and that’s actually what prompts her to turn back. Sinon’s contradictory philosophy – she sees this world as separate from her real one, but everything reflects through

9:18 – And then they’re immediately separated by the damn game, which suddenly doesn’t feel particularly important. Christ, it’s like this author actually internalized virtually every complaint about the first season

9:33 – Heh, this sure is a first person shooter level. Fortunately it looks much more friendly to Kirito’s style, which should hopefully make up for the fact that he’s a goddamn mess

9:50 – Some real next-level evasion here

Sword Art Online

10:00 – WELP

10:02 – Sinon is super impressed by Kirito’s abilities

10:38 – Dude, Kirito could have invested in, like, plasma dentures and still be winning

11:28 – Please oh please do not fall in love with him. This actually works arc-wise, though. It’s (thankfully) not Kirito’s strength that’s challenging her philosophy – it’s his perceived vulnerability, which reminds her of herself, which puts a game she’s determined to keep impersonal in a personal context

12:47 – Man, these backgrounds

Sword Art Online

13:15 – I really like how the bus’s glass warps the shot here

Also butt

13:36 – Pin-pon!

14:00 – HE IS THE SUN

14:10 – If that’s actually his strategy, it’s a kind of clever one – he can’t dodge her shot, so fuck with her head so she can’t actually make it. Of course, he has no actual way of knowing she’s freaking out because she sympathizes with whatever trauma he might have, so this is probably just Kirito not giving a fuck, but still

14:27 – Don’t mind me just walkin’ away from an explosion

Sword Art Online

14:38 – Okay now you’re just showing off. Or trying to prove to yourself that she isn’t Death Gun, or something?

14:55 – This cannot be good for Sinon’s street cred

15:29 – I like both their perspectives here. Kirito doesn’t want to fight in the slightest, and probably felt sick all through the earlier rounds, and Sinon’s just here to demonstrate her strength and power over a perceived version of herself, and can’t tolerate this free win

Sawashiro’s also killing it

16:23 – Nice. He was distancing himself and dealing with his issues by telling himself it was just a game, and going through the motions. But that’s a betrayal of his actual philosophy. This world is real, and so are the choices he’s made

Sword Art Online

17:17 – Sinon, this deal’s still pretty good for Kirito. You started off aiming a sniper rifle down an abandoned highway at a dude with a sword

17:24 – You might think that, but there’s always a margin of Kirito

17:31 – Pretty sure it’s “I’ll hit her with my sword”

17:37 – Seriously, don’t get your hopes up

18:55 – Welp, he sure did cut that there bullet with his sword

Sword Art Online

19:20 – Okay, this is probably one of the most Sword Art Online frames I’ve ever seen. Glad to know you’re still in there somewhere, SAO

19:32 – Welp

19:38 – Reflective of her contradiction. This place is fake, but being strong in it would keep him from having emotional issues?

20:16 – Kind of a very specifically fucked thing to say to her, but also the exact question that’s on his mind

20:48 – Kirito’s flirting technique continues to be suspect at best

21:11 – How does it always end up like this. He can’t just win, he has to be in the Star Wars poster pose with a girl on one arm

Sword Art Online

21:24 – DOKI DOKI


21:45 – So I guess this entire group of players now knows Kirito murdered some dudes

And Done

Pretty solid episode! It had, like, character development and stuff. Nice to see! They’ve kind of had to fast-track (and retroactively flesh out) a Kirito conflict that was pretty much swept under the rug earlier, but it’s actually a very reasonable conflict that they should have dealt with earlier, and they seem to be handling it in a reasonable way. The nature of that conflict plays extremely well off Sinon’s own issues, and I’m enjoying seeing the contradictions in Sinon’s choices play out in her thoughts on both the game and Kirito. A little less enthusiastic about Kirito inspiring her to become Strong in a lover’s embrace, but hey, I take what I can get. Fine episode overall!

45 thoughts on “Sword Art Online II – Episode 6

  1. Watching this episode, I really wish the flashback had been in the first season somehow. It would’ve made it a much more strong moment. This episode in particular showcases that Kawahara didn’t have this story in mind when writing the SAO and ALO arcs. Especially ALO feels… pretty worthless as it stands! It just makes this arc worse, as Kirito didn’t show any weakness there. Perhaps, depending on how GGO continues, it’ll be better to recommend better to skip ALO altogether.

    • Yes, even episodes 5-6, where we encounter Laughing Coffin originally, wasn’t written until much later, in book 8. It’s sort of like Ender’s Game, which was written after Speaker for the Dead.

      Everything about Laughing Coffin that really matters was written in GGO or later.

      • Oh, that stuff was written after GGO? I knew most of SAO consisted of “bonus material” (like the “1 girl/ep” stuff) written after the original story had been concluded, but I didn’t know it was written that long after.

        Makes me wonder how “Sword Art Online: Progressive” is. Not sure if it’s a retelling of the SAO arc or just new sidestories.

        • Aside from episodes 5-6, everything else in SAO S1’s first half was in the first two books.

          I didn’t read them, but it seems Progressive is the retelling of the first two novels from the beginning, rather than adding new content. The author did get better as time went by, so guess he returned to his first work to polish it up.

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the short story from book 8 covering what Kirito did immediately after leaving Klein behind on the first day also got incorporated into Progressive.

          Some googling reveals that yes, they’re also adding some more new content, to flesh out the world and some of the missing months further. Might be worth checking out when he finishes writing it, I guess.

      • @Guy

        Maybe I wasn’t clear, but the majority of the SAO anime consisted of “bonus material” written after the original story. Just as it was with the light novels. The first novel is the real story, while the second is full of side stories.

        “Sword Art Online 1: Aincrad”, released in 2009, covers the following episodes:
        1 (Introduction)
        2 (Beater reveal (not sure if this is from vol 1))
        8 (Timeskip, rabbit meat and Kirito vs Kuradeel pre-fight)
        9 (Random dungeon with DUAL SWORDS and Klein’s guild)
        10 (Kirito vs Guild Leader and Kuradeel dying)
        13 (Fishing, Kirito and Asuna being lovey-dovey, preparation for final fight)
        14 (final boss, Kirito vs Game Master, ending)

        “Sword Art Online 2: Aincrad”, released in 2010, covers the following episodes:
        3 (Sachi)
        4 (Silica)
        7 (Lizbeth)
        11 (Yui)
        12 (Yui)

        “Sword Art Online 8: Early and Late”, released in 2011, covers the following episodes:
        5 (Murder ghost wall thing, Laughing Coffin)
        6 (Murder ghost wall thing, Laughing Coffin)

        The Sword Art Online arc was originally a really shallow story. Perhaps it the release order was different when published online, who knows. Fact is that the arc is being retconned as we speak. They even added the daughter Yui after the story was finished.

        • Yes, I know that. I tried to say that the stuff in the first season for the most part was still in the first two novels, even if in the second novel, after the first. But some stuff, like Laughing Coffin, was added much later.

          Also, yes, the first book is mostly the Stuff Happening™ plot-focused style of storytelling.

      • “I didn’t read them, but it seems Progressive is the retelling of the first two novels from the beginning, rather than adding new content.”

        Incorrect. Progressive starts from the first floor, and works its way up. Episode 2 of the anime is from Progressive’s first chapter. So far all of Progressive has been new content, and parts of it have retconned some small details already.
        So far the first book in Progressive covers the events of the first two floors, and the 2nd book covers the 3rd floor. No release date on when the third is, and there’s no reliable translator translating Progressive (Though Yen Press has announced a license.)

        • Thank you for the correction, that certainly increases the likelihood of me reading them when they’re translated/more get released 🙂

    • In the novel, the flashback you saw was actually mentioned in the first book. Kirito remembers how the front-line players went and took out the LC guild, and he suspects Kuradeel joined KoB for revenge (to which he responds that he was only a new member, and didn’t care about that)
      Kawahara went into more detail about it in the 5th and 6th book (the current arc in the anime) It’s not a retcon, just something the Anime didn’t mention.

    • Yeah, ALO really struck again this episode. This could have been quite powerful if it was a coherent progression from the first season. They’re still setting up an interesting conflict though, so I still have reason to be invested.

  2. Just watched the episode myself and for me, the embrace between Kirito and Sinon totally ruined the seriousness of the conversation they were having. But I guess that is to be expected with SAO . Definitely enjoying this arc more than the first two though. Love what your doing with the episodics too! your humor always seems to win me over.

    • Reaaally hoping they pull back on that stuff, but this is SAO, so who knows. I guess it’s good that this is the first time I’m thinking the show would be wasting some actual good ideas if it fell apart?

  3. it’s me or in this episode you sympathized with kirito ….anyway the episode was interresting but the final scene with kirito holding shinon was…..bad, i don’t believe that reki created an interresting and a well written character like shinon and then included it into the kirito harem >< anyway that was a solid episode overall. hope they keep doing the "phantom bullet" arc cuz you're actualy enjoying this arc but i don't think you'll enjoy "mother's rozario" arc, the weakest after fairy dance.

  4. This episode was good, but it was hurt not by it’s own writing, but the writing up until this point. It’s hard to get invested in Kirito’s trauma after what he did in ALO. My other complaint is the way he was holding Sinon when he already has a goddamn girlfriend. I know he was not intentionally flirting with her, but really I would appreciate him being a little less dense. I did not mind the harem he built up in SAO, but once he chose a winner he should not keep adding new members.

    Anyway it’s good that they are humanizing Kirito, but it feels like too little, too late. I’ve heard something about the author rebooting the SAO arc in the books and going into a lot more detail, and since his writing skills have clearly improved that seems like a story that would connect with this one in a much more coherent fashion.

    • I don’t know if it’s actually addressed, but I want to believe Asuna was the one who chosed his current character model so his natural charm doesn’t make a new victim.

    • Honestly, Kirito’s been such a nobody of a character up until now that it doesn’t really feel like character revision for them to finally give him an internal conflict. Clever plan, SAO!

  5. Best thing to do is pretend the ALO arc didn’t exist.

    18:55 – Welp, he sure did cut that there bullet with his sword

    Her being surprised is rather odd. She knows about him blocking bullets and she knows about him “predicting the prediction line”. Perhaps it’s just due to how close range she is?

    1:57 – So I guess nobody else noticed DEATH GUN?

    Remember that no one is really taking him seriously. And all the things he is wearing are in game items. Basically it’s just the Mask + Cloak.

    21:45 – So I guess this entire group of players now knows Kirito murdered some dudes

    As far as those guys know, he just hugged her and was whispering sweet nothings into her ear~

    • 18:55

      She aimed at his leg. Her gun does “over-damage”, so even hitting his leg would’ve killed him. Considering there’s no time for prediction-line at this distance, there’s no reason for him to be able to predict she’ll shoot at his leg and intercept it.

      She assumed he’d only block it if she aimed it at the center of his mass. Him blocking a shot aimed at his leg proved he really could tell the bullet’s path, without a prediction line.

  6. I actually thought this episode was kinda boring. Poor pacing and uncompelling character conflicts really, partly because of the previous writing being so bad about it.

  7. Man, it’s almost like Kirito’s current arc is a paralell to that of the author’s.

    “I did some horrible things back in Sword Art Online… it’s coming back to bite me in the ass, because I can’t escape the specter of the person I once was.”

    I dunno, sounds like the quality of the narrative to me. Unfortunately, I also think it’s true- the intentions towards writing a stronger Kirito felt genuine, but it just… well… doesn’t feel genuine, especially since he’s still. Not. Losing. He’ll need to seriously fuck up in some way with some permanent consequences for me to get fully on board with this season.

  8. Tried this season since people claim its better then the first. It’s still so bland in presentation that I have to drop it… No matter if the themes are better handled and the writing is sharper (meh) I just can’t watch this without getting utterly bored.

    Always found most SAO characters to look like kids in design. Sinon/Asuna sexualisation creeps me out.

  9. This was awful. Not feeling the Kirito’s trauma. On top of lacking build up, he feels remorse for saving his life and countless others by killing psychotic and amoral mass murderers. This is the same guy who had no problem with the fact that he brutally tortured a crazy pervert who never killed anyone. I struggle to see whose trauma was handled in a more inane manner, his or Sinon’s.

    The big battle was really lame too. The direction felt so stiff and uninspired for that flashback, ugh. .

    • People in real life feel horrible about killing someone, even if it was for self-defense. Beating the crap out of someone for hurting someone is one thing. Taking their life is another.

    • Whoops, accidentally hit post. Was meant to continue:

      I really like your posts on the first season, but I’m agreeing much more with E Minor over at Moe Sucks on this. It’s just bad in a lot of fundamental ways and the few elements of thematic consistency and visual flair don’t make up for that by a long shot.

      • “I think how awful the first season was is making you be WAY too forgiving of the second season” – That’s an amusing thought, considering most people completely ignore anything good the second season is doing, exclusively because the first one was so bad. E Minor looks to be doing just that, by the looks of it. While I understand hating SAO as a whole, actively WANTING to hate it is rather immature.

      • I think you’ll find both types of behavior a lot in the blogosphere: either you have your expectations so low for the second season that you’ll be enthusiastic about whatever it somehow manages to do right, either you’ve been so disgusted with the first season that what will be the most visible in the second is its flaws.
        I don’t think you can blame the bloggers too much for this, since it’s more of an unfortunate consequence of the first season being the trainwreck that it was than anything else.

        Anyway, what I’m getting at is It’s gonna be extremely hard to find really balanced weekly episode reviews for GGO.

      • Personally, I think a lot of the people dismissing this season are either watching it specifically to dismantle it or constantly putting it on trial for the failings of the first season. The show isn’t fantastic, or even great, but it’s reasonably competent, and actually has some ideas now. I’m basically treating this new season like a new show, which I think is the best way to enjoy it.

      • Yeah I’m in the same boat. This episode I felt was particularly bad, the worst of this second season. I was expecting Bobduh to point out a lot of the issues I had with this episode but alas it’s a “pretty solid episode” shrug

        Am surprised that he doesn’t even point out the fact that we got a huge flashback which shows something that I would’ve considered a major plot point in the first season…had it actually occurred back then. They destroy that Laughing Coffin guild? Kirito actually has to kill people doing so? Oh and we’re not to believe he has PSTD despite none of that EVER showing right until now? (yeh that last thing was addressed)

        It’s just really shoddy writing quite frankly. Last episode’s ending was indicating that something within the season 1 episodes was of higher significance than we thought. It animated the viewer base to speculate about who could’ve been Death Gun. I was actually thinking “oh wow, so this author actually had at least a bit of a future vision and implemented the roots of what would be a major arc later on? Or maybe he at least managed to come up with something that also fits these first season’s episodes? I’m positively surprised!”

        But just who could’ve been Death Gun…

        Nah fuck that, here’s a flashback on something completely new. Now one of these already laughably evil maniacs is Death Gun, cool huh?

        One other thing that I’ve realized with this episode again is just how weak the effing world building is, especially as far as the games are concerned. The game mechanic that causes your pulse rate to affect your aiming in such a major way is one of the worst game design ideas I’ve seen. The game literally punishes you for getting excited.

        You read that? Getting excited is bad…in a game. It’s also bad in one of the most frustrating ways, because it adds randomness, something you cannot deal with. I mean we all witnessed how ludicrous the effects were on Sinon’s ability to hit Kirito.

        Now I’ve already read arguments that mean to tell me this adds “realism” because ‘in real life getting a higher pulse also makes it harder!” This is a terrible argument for multiple reasons. First of all this is a complex VR game, so you already control your weapons like you would in real life. In fact, that’s probably one of the bigger appeals of this game in the first place. If you’re excited I imagine you should also have more issues keeping your arms calm ingame. Secondly, the idea of increasing the random target area radius is so far removed from anything that occurs when you’re having a high pulse in reality. But the worst, in reality people don’t automatically aim worse when affected by a higher pulse. There’s probably plenty people who actually excel under pressure or otherwise pulse raising situations.

        Meanwhile in wonderful GGO you are simply fucked when your pulse is raised in any way, shape or form. Cool. Awesome game design. This time around the author actually tried to give us some more specific game mechanics and what not, but alas, he’s a terrible writer who has no idea about how games actually work either. So this is what we get.

      • TUSF I think you’re making a lot of assumptions about E Minor there. He’s generally a harsh critic but that doesn’t mean he goes into things wanting to hate them. I’d consider dismissing opinions outright on a surface reading immature myself, but hey, I’m not asking anyone to like what he does.

        Sap, I actually wasn’t trying to blame anyone for anything and i think a “balanced” critique is a hard thing to achieve generally and to be honest it isn’t even always worth it when the result can result in a soulless, uninteresting critique.

        Nobody needs to leap to Bobduh or SAO II’s defence here, I was merely pointing out a perceived bias, that is, lowered standards for the show, that he may or may not want to consider as he sees fit. Whether or not I agree I think his writing is very good and I will continue to enjoy his entries on SAO II.

        Bobduh, I think you’re being a bit reductionist about the rest of the aniblogosphere there but I don’t read many blogs so you may well be right. I can guarantee that’s not what’s happening with E Minor, his criticisms have all been perfectly fair as far as I can see, but I can’t speak for any other bloggers. I’m not sure I entirely agree that treating a sequel as an entirely new show is the best way to go about things in the first place, but your tone often leans towards pleasant surprise which suggests to me your expectations might be being tempered more than you say, but again, not really a criticism, just an observation, take it or leave it.

        Blasphemy… yeah I agree with most of what you said to be honest. The worldbuilding is the thing about the show I have seen a really surprisingly small amount of critique pointed at. Reki seems determined to try an make us take this seriously but the result is an MMO that doesn’t come across much like any MMO we’ve actually seen in real life, and that hurts the believability and immersion a great deal I feel, but obviously it isn’t as big an issue for a lot of people for whatever reason.

      • @Blasphemy
        Cool your horses man.

        Haven’t you noticed how almost everyone is using automatic or semi-automatic weapons? Remaining calm is important for single shot weapons or long range weapons like the sniper rifles but not nearly as important for multi-shot weapon. Positioning (ambushing, flanking, higher ground etc) are clearly more important in most cases. A sniper like Sinon is a far more specialized player.

        And Laughing Coffin was brought up in two separate occasions. It’s true the actual event was never mentioned but the Aincrad Arc actually took over 2 years, tonnes of stuff happened. Less than 5% was ever brought up. There’s no one you could even call this a retcon.

    • @alsozara My comment wasn’t really a reply to yours but more to TUSF’s, who seemed to find E Minor’s way of doing his SAO II write ups immature simply because they were mostly fucosing on the negative aspects.

      While I do believe that SAO II’s first couple episodes have been a major improvement on the first season (or at the very least seems willing to make up for its past mistakes), there are still a lot of things that it fails at or could do better; and like Bodbuh said, unless one’s able to see this new season as an entirely new show, without letting their opinion on the first SAO clouding their judgement, it’ll be hard to appreciate both GGO’s strengths and weaknesses equally. Not that I think this is necessarily the best way to go, considering GGO IS a sequel, after all.

      That’s what I meant by “balanced”, but that might have been the wrong word? (sloppy English strikes again)

  10. Loner, they said. Not good with people, they said. If I can get only a slap on the face after grabbing a girl like that, what does it make me then?

    envious rant over

    But seriously, it pretty much ruined the whole scene for me.

  11. The last minutes completely ruined it for me as well, tbh.
    It was so unnecessarily SAO-ish that I’m almost scared Sinon got most her agency sucked out by Kiritrap.

  12. I wonder if the Arenas for the rest of the competition will also have nothing but Partially Cloudy Skies At Sunset, or if they’ll actually be randomised like Sinon said they would be.

  13. You can’t always err towards freedom of action – ultimately you have to choose what sort of society you want to create, and suffer the consequences of enforcing that environment.
    I recently finished Gatchaman Crowds, so this paragraph has me reflecting on how that show explored that idea. They erred towards freedom of action, but Rui put in place incentives to do good and prevent evil. (GALAX games) However, that also involves the physical manifestation of internet actions, so what is the real-world corollary? Goals aren’t so clear in real life as they were in Crowds, and self-moderation tends to devolve into unintentional censorship due to the human element, and there’s the debate between maintaining a safe space vs. alienating well-intentioned offenders.

    The talk about Reki’s progression of writing quality seems to be following a pattern I see in other franchises. The first wave of inspiration is about discovering the characters, and so hews closer to conventions and can lack subtlety of character. The second wave is pure indulgence. Authors go overboard with what they want to do with the characters that blurs with their authorial id desires, and success from the first wave blinds them to quality control. Third wave is when they become self-critical, and re-examine their characters, developing them towards a new theme the author has found resonance with, with lessons learned from the mistakes of 2nd wave.
    The Monogatari anime follow this pattern, as well. Bake establishes the characters, Nise is pure indulgence, and 2nd Season tears down what has come before, to rebuild them with maturity.
    (The Eva Rebuilds are NGE’s indulgence stage. I eagerly await 3rd-wave Eva.)

    What’s annoying to me about the flashbacks here is that GGO was published by the time SAO was being animated. A-1 could have made this a compelling story within the 1st season, (and cut down on the number of ALO episodes) strengthening the Aincrad Arc, and setting up this season better. I had similar complaints about how they could have been more liberal about sprinkling Sachi-trauma into things, or generally having more callbacks to things that matter to prevent the tone-whiplash between vignettes that rendered stakes trivial. Whoever is writing SAO clearly is just adapting the books straight, each book in isolation from the others, rather than consuming all of the material and re-imagining it in an optimal and more unified form. Damn source material purists are why we can’t have nice things.

    • Yeah, the actual presence of ideas worth exploring here makes the faithfulness of this adaptation sting even worse than usual. Engaging with the ideas kind of requires inherent mental partitioning – the weaker elements of ALO contradict the stronger elements here, so you have to kind of pick which elements of SAO are meaningful or not.

      Gatchaman Crowds is an interesting counterpoint that is definitely focused on this same idea. As you might guess from my posts here, I’m probably more of a cynic than Crowds – I don’t think such loose incentives would actually succeed in fostering a truly positive environment, and as you say, that doesn’t even get into the issue in any space that can’t be gameified.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *