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
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
This is where the series takes a sharp tonal shift and where it lost all potential to be great as it went for cheap victimization while downplaying the victimization and stealing Asuna’s agency just as she claims it this episode. Yeah, this episode was terrible and sadly it isn’t the worst example of what happens to her, the worst is yet to come in regards to one of the most empowering characters on this show. Okay, here we go…
The story involves Asuna’s escape and her discovering the lab where the 300 other players are being experimented on by Oberon. She makes it her mission to free the other trapped players. Elsewhere Kirito and Leafa arrive at the World Tree.
The Pros: The Trapped Players – Seeing them as brains floating over a metal tube reminded me of something out a Philip K. Dick novel so I enjoyed that, shame more wasn’t done with those other trapped players.
The Cons: The Slugs – Who the crap makes their avatar a purple slug? Really? They are already made to look bad and being uninteresting and what come is worse.
The Rape of Asuna – One of the Slug Scientist rapes her with his tendrils…yep, it happens and the only way she gets to fight back and show us the Asuna who is Kirito’s equal is biting the tendril making it drop her and stealing the Admin Key. It is still played off as no big deal by the animators though and even played as a joke given the other slug calls the one who did a perv. God damn it anime…
There was almost nothing good about this episode besides Asuna stealing the key and managing to fight back at the end. The scene was gratuitous and pervy and did nothing but establish what we already knew…Oberon and his men are bastards. If only this would be the last time this happened…
Final Score: 2 / 10
ALfheim Online has interesting politics and some really interesting characters too who we had never met before. Suguha/Leafa and her relationship to her party, as well as her people, the Sylph’s relationship to the Spriggan, and the constant threat of the Salamanders. This episode does a good job with all of that, with the weakest part once again being Oberon.
The story involves Leafa going renegade when her party attempts to force her to stay and keep her away from Kirito. Things get more complicated when Recon warns her that the party may not be all that appears as a Salamander tracker tracks them.
The Pros: World Politics – The Sylph hate the Spriggan and the Spriggan are apparently more aligned with the more aggressive damage based fairy species. It’s really cool and the drive for the World Tree is a great drive.
Recon/Nagata – Recon goes to Suguha’s school but tested out because he was so smart. For him life and the game overlap and the was animated as his avatar, which is why I’m writing his avatar name first. He’s annoying in a lot of way but not useless…so far more comedic relief than anything who crushes on Suguha. Hope we see more and that he grows.
Suguha/Leafa – Leafa continues to crush on Kirito while developing a friendship with him. She is all about her agency and freedom and it makes her awesome. When Recon is a creep she smacks him and she challenges her party and goes renegade because she believes in Kirito’s quest. She is one of the best parts of the series.
Kirito – Kirito continues to be a great guy and having learned from his experience with Asuna’s guild he stands up for Leafa and calls out the leader by telling him that players are not items. It was really powerful and shows how unselfish he is.
Asuna – Asuna is watching Oberon and finding out the code for the cage. She is also given hope when Oberon mentions that Kirito is alive.
Yui – Yui continues to speak bluntly and is comedic and smart as she enjoys just being around humans and seeking to understand them. It is awesome.
The Cons: Oberon/Nobuyuki – Oberon continues to be creepy. The only good thing about is his eventual defeat.
This was a great episode that I’d recommend. It is wonderful seeing the politics come to the forefront and show that things are more complicated than they have ever been. I’m curious to see where it goes and how the world unfolds as we have 9 different species and people have two lives now…both inside and outside the game.
Final Score: 9 / 10