Sword Art Online II – Episode 7

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.

Episode 7

0:23 – Kirito’s brilliant “use my exact name” plan continues to pay dividends. Whatever, I’m rooting for kaeeeeede

Sword Art Online

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?


2:54 – C’mon Sugu, I’m trying to be all dark and tortured over here

3:01 – Sugu’s sugus are very concerned

3:31 – “A nice man bought me cake”

4:31 – Kirito deftly using guilt over their child to prevent his old waifu from meeting Sinon

Sword Art Online

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

5:18 – Good to see they’ve finally adopted a healthy sibling relationship

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

Sword Art Online

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

7:22 – She and Kirito have so much in common

7:32 – Online courtship rituals are very complicated

Sword Art Online

8:36 – So she’s able to overcome her phobia of guns when she wants to kill someone with her gun. Hmmm

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

9:33 – Yep, that’s her character arc

9:56 – Ono she lost her symbolism balloon

Sword Art Online

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!


11:31 – This is definitely the guy you want solving this murder mystery

Sword Art Online

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

14:27 – I like her counseling strategy: “you’re a monster and I can’t help you deal with it”

Sword Art Online

14:35 – “Figure it out yourself, you goddamn nerd. WELP, hour’s up”

14:54 – Oh my god who is this woman what are these things she is saying



16:12 – That’s right, Kirito. Kill them for her

Sword Art Online

17:13 – I like her little pigtail-things

17:52 – Alright cool, looks like we can finally remove Klein from the suspects

17:57 – People call SAO escapism, but it kinda sucks if you’re anyone but Kirito

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

Sword Art Online

20:11 – Nice shot. I wonder if we’ll get any fights in Bladerunner-city

And Done

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!

33 thoughts on “Sword Art Online II – Episode 7

  1. I was thinking the same thing as you regarding the repressed memories. It makes his sudden PTSD more believable with respect to ALO, but I won’t be completely sold on the author aligning this new Kirito with the old one unless they address the torture scene.

    As far as this arc’s recon, well he is significantly better than actual recon, but this episode made it more clear that something about him is very off. He doesn’t actually seem to care for Sinon as a person, but instead cares for his image of who Sinon is supposed to be. It’s like he wants her to overcome her gun issue without actually changing as a person, not realizing that the personality he likes is a symptom of her trauma. Or maybe he does realize and he just doesn’t care, he would rather her remain unchanged than heal her mental wounds. They are still making him out to be the bad guy compared to Kirito, but in a much more believable and understandable way than with Recon.

    • I don’t think he so much cared about torturing the guy; in his mind it was a just punishment. It’s similar to someone who got into an actual fight. You beat the crap out of someone, and that’s it.
      He would have been more troubled if he actually killed him.

      I don’t think very many people think twice about beating the shit out of someone who just a moment ago wronged you, or hurt someone you know.

      • There’s a difference between a beating and conscious, methodical torture.
        I mean, the guy took care of setting the pain absorber to fucking 0 before doing his bsnss with Sugou.

      • It really depends on the person and circumstance, from what I see. What he did was from rage and anger for what he did.
        While I get that logically speaking, he pretty much tortured him, it’s not like he did any permanent damage to him, and as far as he’s concerned, he’s still alive.

      • Ehhhh, no permanent damage. Except for the trauma from conscious, methodical torture. Did he not slice the guy in half?

      • The thing is his killings are justifiable self defense, but he can’t let them go because he thinks they might have been him giving in to his rage and anger. The torture was most definitely him giving in to his rage and anger, and was completely unnecessary. The guy was defenseless because Kirito had admin powers.

        If they are going to address whether or not Kirito has a rage problem through the lens of his killings, then they need to at least mention his most clear and troubling moment of rage. Was the rage justifiable? Probably. But he still did not need to make the guy feel being cut in half and impaled on a sword without any pain dampening.

      • Kirito’s actions at end of ALO were presented in a perfectly positive light. His actions will never be “addressed” because the author of the SAO don’t think that Kirito did anything wrong. Your moral compass might disagree with that but it doesn’t really matter.

    • Yeah, his comments this episode were really contradictory and apparently self-focused. “I want you to get better… but I also want you to stay helpless. Will you promise to date me when you’re better?” I’m not sure I’d call him that much more believable than Recon, but he’s certainly more complex and menacing.

  2. “So I guess that was an intermission episode, basically?” – Pretty much. This episode is the start of the second book of this arc (Volume 6), so in the novel the first part is just trying to settle you back into the setting. In the anime is just works as a lull in the flow, though.

  3. Arghhh, I felt really conflicted about this episode for about the same reasons as you. I really like SAO2 myself, but at the moment it’s fighting against itself – or rather it’s previous self. It’s an internal struggle that takes its toll on the viewers. There probably was no way of avoiding this slight retconning with wishy washy arguments if the franchise wanted to evolve into something more complex, but the transition isn’t smooth at all. I guess the franchise could’ve taken another route entirely by making Kirito so perfect he’s actually scary (Hunter x Hunter, anyone?), but that’d be tricky to pull off.

    On another note, the conversation between Sinon and Recon 2.0 was strange. Much like manganon said above, it made me very uncomfortable. Perhaps this was on purpose? Kudos to the staff, if that’s the case.

    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?

    Maybe next arc, Bobduh. Maybe next arc.

      • Gon, much like many other protagonist in shonen manga, is a “perfect character” in every way. Only that in Hunter x Hunter it’s not necessarily something good, but something that’s also scary.

      • I dunno, to me Gon was never depicted as perfect; far from that, actually. Sure, they were some scary bits about him that everyone he met noticed, but his flaws have always been pretty apparent (and CA did a great job at forcing him to confront all his shortcomings).

    • Yeah, it’s impossible for this to be graceful. ALO’s material is just too heavy of an anchor for this to work without either making it all about ALO’s crazy choices or pretending it didn’t happen altogether.

  4. Goddammit now I want “you’re tearing me apart Lisa” to somehow get set to Terror In Resonance, bad amv style.
    5:18-It’s not a healthy relationship until they attempt to beat each other up! ….no I’m serious I think getting that frustrated at your siblings is pretty normal.
    14:54 Adding to the list of things the author does not understand, the Hippocratic oath.

  5. At this point, I have stopped seeing the ALO arc as a really bad action anime and now see it as high-quality torture-porn.

    Welp, it’s pretty obvious the author doesn’t exactly know much about medicine and doctors, but at least it was bizarrely entertaining. But seriously, why do animes (especially power fantasies) refuse to parents into the show, but give other characters motherly and caring traits (e.g. the nurse, in her weird little way)?

    • I think we’ve seen Kirito and Sugu’s mom like once in the entirety of the first season, and she was laughing with Sugu about how Kirito learned he was adopted. Yeah…
      What’s even wierder is that a significant amount of time was spent IRL during the ALO arc, and not once did we catch a single glimpse of her, not even during dinner. I always found that slightly disturbing, to be honest.

    • The absence of parents is an element of the fantasy many anime are portraying, and also just makes for more convenient storytelling – if parents are characters, you kind of have to make use of them, like how Madoka does. So if a show requires a parental figure, it’ll often stick in someone it can use when it’s convenient and ignore otherwise.

  6. Every arc’s gotta have its Recon, I guess. Kinda surprised these ineffectual male rivals haven’t unionized already, their work conditions are terrible
    They have. It’s called the MRA. (Ba-dump ch)

    Speaking of utilitarian destinies…
    Nurse: But you have the power to change this destiny. All this tragedy all this destruction, you can change it if you want. The power to do so lies within you.
    Kirito: I can change it?
    Nurse: Of course you can. Just make a contract with me. And become a Magical Girl!

  7. Like you I was hoping that Sinon wouldn’t fall for Kirito. It would make for a more interesting story and development of the characters. But unfortunately it seems that she’s already obsessed with him and we all now how that will end. Kirito’s a married man and with kids of all things.

  8. I’m kind of surprised at the negative reaction to the nurse scene; I thought it was actually one of the strongest scenes in the season so far, possibly in the entire series. I guess I don’t see what’s actually wrong with Aki’s advice? Like, yeah, the “maybe you don’t really want to forget it” thing is pretty bad advice regarding specifically traumatic memories, but “things you might want to forget” is a rather broader category than that, and given the way Kirito broached the topic she had no reason to assume “trauma”. And as for the rest of the scene, I dunno what else you would say to a kid who hit you with “yeah I hate myself because I had to kill people and I don’t even remember their names.”

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