And we’re back! Last episode was kind of a breather/intermission piece, apparently matching the beginning of this arc’s second book, but hopefully this one will put us back in the action. I feel like the more the show dwells on slow Kirito drama scenes, the less it’ll hold together – the show’s production is solid, but its writing is still bad, meaning the more propulsive scenes are generally going to be the highlights. Which is a frustrating thing to admit, because Iwant this show to work on an emotional level, but I feel like that would require both better writing (though it has been improving!) and a legitimate acknowledgement of ALO’s existence. I dunno. Tough place to be, SAO, but you’ve dug yourself this hole. Let’s see you lightsaber your way out of it.
Incidentally, SAO posts are going to undergo a shift next week, as… well, you’ll see. So for this current series, I’d like to say it’s been a weird, weird pleasure to write these for all you guys. Like Kirito, I hope all of you continue to strive for the horizon… even if, unlike Kirito, you actually have to work for it.
0:08 – So help me god SAO if you stretch these minutes into another episode I am pulling the plug
0:43 – Another nice city shot. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but this place actually does feel much more like an MMO hub city than an actual city – the architecture is frilly and inconvenient, the streets aren’t built for commerce, and the buildings don’t really feel “lived in.” At its best, this show should be able to contrast the emotional questions of the validity of the characters’ actions with the constant little ticks of game design that keep people from truly buying into a digital world as real
0:51 – Oh shit, it’s kaeeeede again! Good to see that kid made it through
0:53 – That Death Gun’s a cunning one. Kirito’s gonna have to use all his wiles to counter an opponent who knowsnot to use his damn name
3:59 – Nice worldbuilding fragments
4:17 – Oh shit, it’s Cowboy Dan and AquaMarine! Man, the gang’s all here
4:35 – Aaand… pompadour eyepatch vest dude? Loot fashion has not been kind to Jeff here
4:59 – GOD DAMNIT KIRITO. Why did I have to mention Gun Gale Idols…
6:01 – I get that they’re explaining this so the audience has some sense of the conflict’s scale, but this seems like a terrible design for a competitive tournament. Certainly fun for the spectators, though!
6:55 – I like this choice a lot. It works in a game sense, by keeping the game moving, preventing camping, and allowing for both the hunting of others and the setting of traps using your last known location, and all of that also lends itself to dramatic narrative turns. This helps
8:44 – I like that Sinon’s actually calling him on his evasiveness. He deserves it – last episode, both Sugu and Asuna basically declared they trusted him completely, and he clearly isn’t actually worthy of that trust. His entire presence here is an act of serious selfishness
9:20 – kaeeeeeeeede
11:25 – Seriously?
That is… damn, that’s brazen, SAO. But you know, I have heard a cool way to make viewers like your show is to visually reference other, better shows they could be watching instead
I mean, the reference almost kinda sorta works??? That scene crops up at a time when Asuka’s disconnecting from her identity as an Eva pilot, and Rei tells her to treat the Eva as a real person, so…
Eh. Whatever, SAO. You wanna reference Eva, you go and have fun
12:21 – Yessss
13:50 – Cowboy Dan! We’re getting some pretty decent animation to start this Birkenstock of Bullets
16:54 – IT ALWAYS HAPPENS
17:33 – The heat distortion is a nice touch. They’ve set up this whole situation pretty effectively, actually
17:41 – Very nice shot
18:08 – They’re doing nice work with the shadows here, too. The visual design and action-scene pacing of this second half has been solid in general
I’m actually enjoying these two shooting the shit about what in-game explanation there could be for everything going on. The show has done the groundwork at this point – this game is pretty much parsable as a game, and so it’s enjoyable to hear about the various pieces moving around
20:53 – Classic horror movie trick. The protagonist reorients themselves from a detail, and suddenly the monster is there, in the frame, mocking the idea the protagonist can actually have any control of their surroundings
Fair episode this time! The first half was kinda iffy, but at this point, all the bits of worldbuilding the show has done are paying off in the action drama. Unlike the first season, we’re not just getting scattered details this time – they’ve more or less defined the rules of a parsable game, and having various characters fight each other instead of Kirito means there can actually be back-and-forth. Plus the dramatic framing is just much better this season, as well – as soon as the show shifts into action-scene gear, shots become more purposeful, pacing becomes tighter, and the show just works together to create a stronger mood. This time they even introduced some horror-film tricks, building up the reveal of Death Gun across that entire final scene. The longer this show stays in action-movie mode, the better off it will be.