Sword Art Online – Episodes 8-9 – “Defeating Level 74 Arc” – Politics of the Game

SAO Episode 9

   This arc completes a few arcs that are started earlier. We see how Asuna and Kirito’s relationship has developed and also the drama around Level 74 and beating the Boss who is there, who has a really cool design. This arc also leads to something bigger, though what I’m waiting to see how it payoffs and where this series goes.

    The episodes are “The Sword of Black and White” and “The Blue-Eyed Demon.”

     The story involves Asuna breaking from her guild to her own thing and the drama that comes from that as well as their finding the Boss on Level 74 and what comes from that in having to face it with only Klein.

The Pros: Level Designs – The Level Designs are really cool. From Asuna’s area where she has a giant lake and an ancient temple. The level the boss is on is also really cool with it’s dark shadows.

The Action – The action that was in this episode was really good. Especially the action in fighting the boss and the duel Kirito fights with Asuna’s horrible bodyguard who is threatened by any Beater and is a big stalker. So glad to see him lose.

Klein – Klein makes a brief appearance in this episode and is crushing on Asuna until he respects her attraction to Kirito and Kirito’s to her. It is really cool how he changes from the crushing guy to the guy looking out for his friends. He is also one of the three who takes out “The Gleam Eyes.”

Asuna – Asuna is Kirito’s equal throughout the entire episode up until the end and they have a great dynamic as she makes a rare dish and becomes close friends and more with Kirito over everything they are going through and there plan to take a break together for a while. She does a good job showing that at the core she just wants to live and the game is not living, it is still being trapped and away from those to care for outside who suffer. That never changes within her character and shows how good she is.

Kirito – Kirito is good at actually respecting others in this, though that is largely because he mostly interacts with Klein and Asuna who have had his back on multiple times and who he has not had to rescue. They are just as capable as him and that is where his respect is derived from I think.

Guild Drama – The Knights of Blood are also a bit terrible and won’t let Asuna do her own thing. In this way is is good to see them shutdown by Kirito and to see Asuna break away while still being part of the team. There ultimatum is so stupid though.

Level 74 Boss – The Gleam Eyes has a great design, it looks like something out of “Diablo” with it being a blue creature with both a ram and bull mixed into it’s design. It’s like a minotaur but more and seeing it wipe out an entire guild is good at establishing the threat before Klein, Kirito and Asuna take it out.

The Cons: Asuna’s Lack of Agency – Asuna is at one point fought for between Kirito and the Guild Leader where she has no power in the choice that others are making for her. She can stay solo with Kirito or Kirito has to join the guild of she loses. Her agency is suddenly taken away.

    This was a solid arc though the ending brings it down from being as good as it could have truly been. I really liked the Boss and level design and up until Asuna’s agency is taken away we see some great interactions between her and Kirito. She isn’t someone to be fought for, she can be fight for herself. I hope the show gets back to that, though with the upcoming fight against her Guild Leader I’m not counting too much on that sadly.

Final Score: 8.5 / 10

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