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.
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
0:10 – NO TIME FOR THAT TIME FOR SUSPECTS. Definitely kill this guy, super suspicious. Goddamn straw socialists
0:12 – Also dead
0:15 – Jeez, that’d be impressive. Also, he didn’t play SAO
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…
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.
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!
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
4:51 – Oh wow holy shit. Alright, I guess “kill all the murderers” is a valid strategy!
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
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?
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
10:00 – WELP
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
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
14:38 – Okay now you’re just showing off. Or trying to prove to yourself that she isn’t Death Gun, or something?
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
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
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
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
21:24 – DOKI DOKI
21:32 – DOKI INTENSIFIES
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!