Sword Art Online – Episode 25 – “The World Seed” – The Real World and the End

SAO Ep 25

    If the show had been more like the finale episode of the series in it’s second half, this show could have been great. Rather than focusing on creepy rapist and the victimization of one of our heroines why couldn’t we have dealt with Kayaba’s dream and the survivors of “SAO” doing that dream rather than the Mario and Daisy mission to save Peach…so much missed potential and this episode showed what could have been for the second part of the series…

    The story picks up with everyone waking and Nobuyuki trying to kill Kazuto but being defeated and brought in by the police as the survivors of SAO go to school together and work on the Seed and making their own MMOs.

The Pros: The Seed – Kayaba in his dying moments or his echo gave Kirito a World Seed so that all people could create MMOs…basically he created an open source system that Kirito made free. Why couldn’t we have seen this guy in the first half? Still, that was good ending.

Kazuto and Asuna – Seeing these two fall in love again is great as well as how they are both awkward to those around them as they are trying to get used to knew things, the affection and love is still there though and it is adorable.

Kirito and Leafa – These two become siblings again and Leafa dances with Kirito after her dealing with being an outsider to some degree to the SAO community.

SAO Reunion – The reunion is great! All the usual suspects are there such as Agil, Rika, Keiko, Klein and others. It is great seeing them party and celebrate the beating of the game…which could have happened in the first half of the season if they hadn’t fridged Asuna.

The Return of SAO – The final bit is SAO returns and Leafa and all the old squad go to beat the game that is back.

  I’ll do a write-up on the show as a whole later but if it had ended on the first arc with Asuna free we could have a favorite anime, sadly the second arc came around and proceeded to ruin all of the good will built up as it ruined one of the best characters in the series…I’ll write about other arcs they could have done for part 2 in the assessment of the show, for now here is my score for this episode.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Sword Art Online – Episode 24 – “Gilded Hero” – Gratuitous Tropes

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    This episode is the final objectification of Asuna as well as giving us a retreated of tropes that were already covered in the first half of the series. There is very little that is good that can be said about this episode and I’ll get into that more later.

    The story involves Yui and Kirito rescuing Asuna only for Oberon to trap them and begin raping Asuna while Kirito is slowly dying. He must find his inner power and beat the game to rescue her.

The Pros: Oberon’s Death – Oberon gets tortured but Asuna doesn’t get the kill after everything she went through. This character deserved much worse than what he got of being slowly cut to pieces and fully aware of it and experiencing the pain of it all. Was too good for him.

The Cons: Kirito the Hero – He finds his inner power and Kayaba’s echo reminds him that he was there fight and break the game because of his will. We’ve already been here there is no reason to do this again.

Asuna’s Rape – Asuna gets declothed and licked and a whole bunch of other horrible shit while Kirito is trapped because of the gravity and his own sword stabbed in his back. It’s presented like Sansa’s rape scene and is gratioutous and serves no purpose except to victimize one of the strongest people in this show who has been victimized for the entire second part of this arc. Really “Sword Art Online?” What purpose did this serve?

Oberon/Nobuyuki – One dimensional baddie rapes an innocent victim he’s been harassing this entire episode and the entire second half of the series. This is not good writing and this character served no purpose but to victimize Asuna and glorify Kazuto/Kirito. What a waste.

The fact that a character getting tortured is a pro shows just how far down this episode is. The players and Asuna being freed doesn’t even mean anything until the next episode because the tonal shift and rape on screen kind of make that feel meaningless. Serious “SAO” writers, what were you getting at with this crap? It is weak writing that does nothing and is like the writers are actively trying to sabotage their heroes (Asuna) and their show.

Final Score: 1 / 10

Sword Art Online – Episode 23 – “Bonds” – Alliances Payoff

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     This…was actually another good episode. We don’t have any of the victimization yet and we see some great teamups and a lot of potential to show what the second arc could have been (Alliances and Raids in action working together). So I’m going to cherish this blip while it’s still around because the next episode is really bad.

    The story involves facing the Guardians again except this time Alicia and Sakuya have arrived to help as together they face off against the Guardians to get Kirito his opening so he can reach the top of the World Tree to save Asuna.

The Pros: The Action – The action is great! It’s quick and flowing and really makes the most of the three dimensional space as well as showing just how threatening the Guardians are but also showing the players power as well.

The Alliance – Cait Siths have dragons and they are awesome! The Sylphs have swords that shoot lazers too, so that is pretty cool. It is great finally seeing an Alliance in game too…I wish that had been the focus of part 2 not Asuna in the place of Princess Peach.

Kazuto/Kirito and Leafa/Suguha – This is the episode where they fight it out in the game and later find a new way to relate to one another as Kazuto admits that he regretted being distant from her and everyone and that why he is trying to beat the game and save Asuna is so that he can move on. Suguha admits that after she find out she became attracted to him because of how kind he was to her after he came out of the game. They later make a great team up against the Guardians. They and the Alliance eventually break Kirito through and he uses the Admin Card to get through the locked door and enter the top of the tree.

Recon – Recon returns as the Red Shirt whose sacrifice shows there is chance to break through the Guardians and also buys them time before the Alliance arrives. It was a cool moment.

This was a solid action episode, the creepyness is coming up though. I’m going to cherish these action moments while I can before the dive into the abyss of some of the worst that anime has to offer.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Sword Art Online – Episode 22 – “Grand Quest” – The Show’s Lannister Moment

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    One of the odd things the second art of this show did was have Kirito’s sister in the family he was adopted into completely crush on him. This is the episode where we see where all that goes as they finally learn who they are in the game and have to deal with the reality of it. It’s actually handled pretty well, especially after the worst of things that was last episode.

    The story involves Kirito taking on the Guardians in the World Tree alone and dying in the process. After Leafa rescues him he tells her Asuna is above leading to her realizing who he is after she confesses too. From here they have to deal with their relationship.

The Pros: The Guardians – The Guardians are weak, but there are so many of them that they equal a boss. They have great designs and look like Fairy Knights with lances and bows and arrows. They also manage to kill Kirito pretty quick.

Kirito’s Death – This is where Kirito realizes he needs help and that he just assumed he’d be good at this game because he was at “Sword Art Online.” It is a great wake up call for him.

Leafa/Suguha – Rescues Kirito so he won’t respawn at the beginning and learns that Asuna is who he is trying to save leading to her logging off after she had confessed her love to him. Complete Lannister moment as Kirito’s neutral face can be taken lots of ways.

Kirito/Kazuta – Kazuta does the best he can after the confession and when she says that the feelings developed for Kirito so she’d get over him it just got worse and that it all started when she learned he was adopted. It was very “Legally Blonde” in a lot of ways since it never got as bad as Cersei and Jamie.

   I guess there is this beat before we jump into the abyss of some of the worst of anime again so I’ll give this episode credit where it is due. Also it’s great to finally see their relationship develop and Suguha finally have the chance to deal with her feelings.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Sword Art Online – Episode 17 – “Captive Queen” – Asuna’s lack of Agency and Obviously Evil Villain

SAO Ep 17

   In this episode we find out who Leafa is in the real world and get to know the world of “Sword Art Online” better but also see that the problem at the start of this arc is still a major problem. Asuna’s in a cage with no agency and the villain can’t even be bothered to be compelling. I got a feeling this will be a problem through this arc.

    The story involves Leafa taking Kirito out for a drink and him learning that reaching the top is the way to beat the game as King Oberon will give the winner the ability to have constant flying and not have to rest. After this we learn that Oberon is really Nobuyuki and that he can wipe away the minds of the characters he controls like Asuna making the mission more dire.

The Pros: Leafa/Suguha – In this we learn Suguha and Leafa are the same person and that like Kirito knew “Sword Art Onlnie” she really knows “ALfheim Online.” She forms a friendship with Kirito pretty fast and teaches him how to fly without the controller and tells him about Oberon’s quest and that is what they all need to beat the game.

Asuna – Asuna threatens Oberon/Nobuyuki and fights him as best she can having no weapons and being in a stupid cage. She also watches the lock showing that isn’t remaining passive. I hope she gets to destroy him.

Kirito – Kirito is great as usual and we see how complicated his friendship with Leafa could become as she doesn’t know about Asuna. He’s very much the good guy in this and we see his protector instincts when he is with Yui as they are both trapped in the game. He is also the one who figures out that it will take a person from each race to reach the top of the World Tree or defeat the Guardians protecting it on the lower level.

The Cons: Oberon/Nobuyuki – Creeper is creeepin and threatening rape. Can’t wait till this character gets killed. Weak writing and weak character.

This episode was alright as Asuna did fight verbally even though she couldn’t physically. Still hate the fact that she needs to rescued and that is what is driving this plot, but the world of ALfheim online is interesting at least.

Final Score: 7 / 10

Sword Art Online – Episode 16 – “Land of Fairies” – Adaptation and New Rules

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     “Land of Fairies” is when we finally enter ALfheim online and Yui returns as well as being introduced to a pretty cool game that I would play. The world of ALfheim online is pretty complex and captures the modern MMO far better than “Sword Art Online” did. The character designs are pretty great as well.

     This episode begins with Kazuto meeting up with Andrew (Agil from “Sword Art Online”) meeting so he can learn more about the game and the screenshot. He promises to save her and enters the game as Spriggan due to it’s dark look and taking the name Kirito. He soon finds himself trapped in the game once more with none of his items but still all his skills. He is later pulled into a fight to protect a player named Leafa from the Salamanders and the story unfolds from there.

The Pros: Alfheim Online – The world is really cool. There is a giant moon and tons of forests and temples that make up the area where 9 different Fairies live and battle. It really is a rich world.

The Different Fairies – The fairies have different specialties, like Leafa’s race can heal, and Kirito’s race can use illusions. It’s a great dynamic and all of them compliment each other.

The World Tree – The World Tree is in the center of the game and at the top is where Asuna is being held captive. It’s far away and has lots of enemies to fight to reach it, showing that it is meant for the end game.

Andrew/Agil – A bartender in real life and a blacksmith in the game and an all around great guy. He has Kirito’s back and gives him the first information of what he’ll be up against in the game. “AndAndrew

Yui – Yui is back as the tear when activated made her a guiding PC who helps Kirito learn the basics of the game. It is great seeing her again too, even if she doesn’t have game breaking powers anymore.

Leafa – Leafa looks like Asuna’s avatar and is great fighter as she only loses when she is outnumbered and being targeted from a distance. She is tough and a great leader.

Kirito/Kazuto – It is a lot of fun seeing Kirito learn how to fly and fight and seeing that his stats transferred from “SAO” even if non of his equipment did. He has to start at the beginning again which is new for him but it makes it great too as he has to have an arc because of it.

This was a solid episode that makes me excited to see more of Elfheim online and meet the other Fairy races. The world is rich, well designed and the aesthetics are really cool. Leafa and Yui are both great characters as well.

Final Score: 9 / 10

Sword Art Online – Episode 15 – “Return” – Return to Reality and the Game

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  “Return” kicks off the Fairy Dance Arc and picks up 2 months after the events of Kirito beating the game. It is quick at establishing relationships and motivations and is tragic too as we some of the horrible fallout from “Sword Art Online’s” existence and what it has done to a few of the players, including Asuna.

     The story involves Kazuto/Kirito getting used to living in the real world again as he is seen as a hero for what he did in SAO. From here he develops his friendship with adopted sister Suguha and visits Asuna in the hospital. He soon finds an enemy in Asuna’s father’s business partner Nobuyuki who wants to own Asuna and keep her asleep and tells Kazuto that he is the only one keeping her alive since his company bought the fallen server of SAO and pays for it’s upkeep. He is given hope though when a screenshot is shown of ALfheim Online and it looks like Asuna is trapped in that game.

The Pros:  Suguha – Kazuto’s adopted sister who took up sword fighting to please their father is a great character, she also has a bit of a crush on her adopted brother and is super protective of him. It is she who is able to be there for him when he feels powerless to save Asuna.

Kirito/Kazuto – Kazuto is his usual shy self and still dealing with the baggage from his adopted father as we see him always trying to be tough which is keeping him from facing how much he misses Asuna and how much it is tearing him apart, especially when Nobuyuki arrives on the scene. This is one of the episodes where he is at his lowest.

The Fight – At one point he duels Suguha as he is curious if what he learned in the game he can use in reality, and he does a good job though she is physically stronger and beats him. It was a really well done fight.

In the Real World – How the real world is drawn is very pristine and reminds me of “Sword Art Online.” This was purposeful as even in the real world we have antagonists and skills to learn, at least in how the show presents things.

The Cons: Nobuyuki – This guy is  a creeper, from touching Asuna’s face and smelling her hair…treating her like a thing basically and telling Kirito he doesn’t care about her and that she hated him in the real world…he is obviously evil with no depth at all. Not a good antagonist.

Asuna’s Agency – Asuna is literally trapped in her body and the cage. I miss the Asuna who was Kirito’s equal and them working to save one another.

   This arc isn’t as strong as the first first with Kayaba, but it is still interesting at least. I want to see what happens and learn more about ALfheim online. I also like seeing Kazuto having to deal with the world he always chose to retreat from…it makes him compelling.

Final Score: 7.5 / 10

“Sword Art Online” – Upcoming Series Episode Reviews

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     After finishing up “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” wanted to take a break and do something different besides “Star Wars: Clone Wars” as I’d like to save that when we get closer to “The Force Awakens.” I’ve always been a fan of anime and this show was recommending to me a few times. It is also different enough from “Avatar: The Last Airbender” that I don’t think the episodic reviews would clash together.

      The show as created by Reki Kawahara, produced by A-1 Pictures it ran through 2012 and has a second series (I’m just going to be reviewing the first one and not any of the manga) and was directed by Tomohiko Ito.

    The premise of the show is the creator Akihiko Kayaba  of “Sword Art Online” which is an MMORPG that is connected to the brain and body, traps all the players in the game and if they die they die in real life. It is up to Kazuto who played with the first 1000 in the Beta. He is the main protagonist whose loner life soon becomes a part of so many other lives.