It’s time again for the most sword art show of the season! I’ve got kind of awkwardly mixed feelings about this season, as I talked about in my season-so-far post – it’s not actually good good, but it’s definitely a more complex animal than the first season. The issue is that everything this season is trying to do is kind of undercut by the presence of the previous season – Kirito’s current character development has come completely out of nowhere, and pretty much contradicts whole piles of his previous behavior. I just can’t see the Kirito who’s falling to pieces over the memories of people he’s killed as the same Kirito who cackled as he turned last arc’s villain into a blood pinata.
And yet, in spite of that, this stuff actually is kind of working for me. Not in an emotional sense, but at least in a thematic one – the idea they’re exploring here (the validity of digital worlds as lived experiences, and the consequences of that) is interesting, and they’re approaching it from an interesting angle. I highly doubt the show will ultimately earn forgiveness for its previous problems, but it seems I’m more or less already able to forget the first season even happened. Hurray for selective memory, I guess?
I dunno. It’s weird. Make your choice, SAO – be good or be funny. This current combination is tearing me apart, Lisa.
0:23 – Kirito’s brilliant “use my exact name” plan continues to pay dividends. Whatever, I’m rooting for kaeeeeede
0:25 – Kirito’s other plan, “lie to all women always forever,” running into difficulties. And wait, didn’t he decide not to lie to everyone? Or was that just Asuna?
3:31 – “A nice man bought me cake”
4:49 – So is this actually considered a flaw now, or still just an element of what makes him awesome? Considering Sinon falling into his arms last episode, I’m tempted to think the latter
5:36 – I sure hope him lying to everyone and ignoring their feelings is considered a flaw! His actions this arc are pretty much directly ignoring everything Sugu was focused on in the last one. It’s even worse than Araragi’s “I’ll save them no matter what they actually want” situation – both Asuna and Sugu have kind of been reduced to “I sure hope Kirito doesn’t die,” and meanwhile Kirito goes off on this crazy solo adventure
5:48 – I like this line. He’s not really “present” here at the moment – he’s living in GGO
6:36 – Well fuck. So much for hoping she wouldn’t fall in love with him – these tsun readings are off the charts
6:45 – All true
6:50 – No arguments here
7:14 – She’s also being her more aggressive, online self. Goddamnit I don’t want to analyze how this show articulates Kirito “fixing” women gyeaaah
Not quite the arc direction I was hoping for. I figured Kirito’s actual philosophy would be what she butted heads with – their important distinction is that Kirito believes all your online actions are “real” actions reflective of your true self, whereas Sinon uses the imagined distance as a crutch, even though she really does want to be the “real” self of GGO. But if Kirito’s just going to seduce her into mental wellness, then I’m less excited about this character arc
8:52 – Every arc’s gotta have its Recon, I guess. Kinda surprised these ineffectual male rivals haven’t unionized already, their work conditions are terrible
10:02 – I really like the fundamental point they’re digging at here, and its place as a sort of counter to Kirito’s beliefs. Kirito thinks people’s online actions are reflective of their true selves – but to many people, the artificial distance videogames create is an important thing, something that lets them be more confident and happy with themselves than they would be otherwise. Sinon’s online personality may be more true to who she wants to be, but she’s only able to be that person because she still mentally separates it from the real world – there’s a degree of safety in self-expression online that doesn’t exist elsewhere, and Kirito’s philosophy more or less removes that distance
10:29 – Pretty refreshing how they’re articulating this. No running away, no histrionics, just “I appreciate your feelings, but I’m not in a place to feel that way right now.” It’s like they’re actually relatable, human characters or something!
13:22 – This is terrible advice! “You can’t forget traumatic memories because your subconscious knows you’re supposed to remember them”? I mean, I get how it’s specifically relevant to Kirito and his morality, but that is not a good rule to go by!
13:59 – So I guess they’re trying to tackle the ALO issue head-on, by saying he pretty much repressed the memories up until now
You know, they maybe could fix this whole situation by actually admitting all that crazy ALO stuff happened – like, isn’t what Kirito did to the ALO villain exactly this? In which case this actually is a serious pattern of behavior in Kirito’s past, something really screwed up about him specifically. And that’d be interesting to engage with! What if the “true self” you reveal in videogames is not a good person? What if you actually play games to relieve elements of yourself that don’t really align with what society expects people to be? Are you just grouped into the “bad person” box at that point?
I guess we’re actually going with a less severe version of that, but it’s a shame that the one interesting thing ALO might have added to the story is being ignored. I’m less worried about Kirito being the kind of person who kills people who are trying to kill him than him being the kind of person who tortures helpless opponents
16:12 – That’s right, Kirito. Kill them for her
17:13 – I like her little pigtail-things
19:02 – Oh wow, the OP wasn’t lying. Can’t wait to watch Kirito’s harem watch Kirito
19:20 – Ain’t that the truth
20:11 – Nice shot. I wonder if we’ll get any fights in Bladerunner-city
So I guess that was an intermission episode, basically? Fair enough. Not much actually happened, but honestly, I found that scene with the nurse so bizarre that I was entertained anyway. The symbolism balloon was just the cherry on top of an awesomely terrible therapy sunday. Definitely ready to get back to the action, though!