Sword Art Online Episode 8Posted: August 26, 2012
“This plate armor… it’s so soft…”
There comes a time in every blogger’s life when he/she comes across an episode beyond redemption. I have been able to sit through seven episodes of this kind without rageblogging, but now that episode 8 of SAO proved to fail miserably in every single frame, I have no choice but to kick and scream and break shit until episode 9 breaks my expectations of how low an anime can get.
I don’t have the time or energy to give a minute-by-minute rundown of how terrible an episode this was, so I’ll just gloss over the obvious parts and delve into the details. Some of the more glaring bits were…
- Asuna was on top of Kirito for 14 seconds, and that entire scene lasted a full minute. So 5% of an episode was wasted on some super predictable and cliche fanservice that neither contributed anything to the plot/character development nor made any attempts to be titillating. I was nodding off.
- The discrimination against “beaters” 2 years into the game when NOBODY ACTUALLY CARES. Asuna and Kirito even say that only 500 people are still front-lining. There’s so much wrong with this petty conflict that explaining it isn’t worth my time.
- The continuing predictability of “everybody underestimates Kirito even though he’s the famous Black Knight whatever” to forcefully make Kirito look like the underdog. The only thing is that IT’S NOT WORKING, GUYS! Every episode up until now has Kirito looking like a badass while defeating some super low level people/monsters (in comparison to his skill). Why would you brag about killing Slimes? Same thing.
- Hooded bad guy. OHH FORESHADOWING yeah right
“I wish Asuna-sama would smash her breasts into my face…”
Asuna’s lackey/stalker probably broke this episode for everybody. He gets up in Kirito’s ass right from the get-go and refuses to come out until the great underdog beats (haha get it) him in a one-on-one duel. He’s the main antagonist of the episode, and looks the part. Unlike our dashing hero and his many damsels-in-distress, Kuradeel is old, his name is tough to remember, and he actually looks like somebody who can get shit done – everything Kirito isn’t. And to top it off, he starts raging about the beaters. It’s almost as if the animators want us to hate him.
Since that would make it easier when he really becomes an antagonist:
Oh, I thought he would become a bad guy ALL ALONG. Man, I feel so smart. I figured this out all by myself without any help.
It’s like watching Death Note and thinking it’s a really deep anime when it actually just tells you everything up front. Or Code Geass. Or any anime with a bunch of thought put into it on the animator/creator’s side, and then the staff get so excited that they point out their brilliant plot at every step of the way until it becomes blatant and predictable. Predictable because they already tell you what’s going to happen.
SAO is like Death Note and Code Geass in that sense… except it doesn’t actually have any thought put into it. It’s just a bunch of cliche scenes strung together, filled in between by bouts of “LOOK, THIS IS WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT,” as if we didn’t already know.
“… can I test the durability of your chest plate?”
A true MMO
Continuing on from the Kirito vs. Lackey duel, I need to point out that SAO does try to incorporate MMO elements into the show. The duel, for example, could have been one of three different types, etc. I especially liked the bit about green players luring in people to be player killed by their yellow/red guildmates (a few episodes ago). It was a nice touch. But SAO has many moments of inconsistency, both with its own rules and with expected MMO behavior.
The best example from this episode was Asuna stepping in on the duel. It’s going on inside a town/safe area, and she’s not part of their duel. So why is she allowed to step in and knock away Kuradeel’s dagger?
Answer: She’s not.
Recall the mystery arc of episodes 5 and 6. The gimmick was that players could wear out the durability of their armor and teleport at the same time to make it look like they’ve died. Not bad. But how do the teleport stones actually work? You’d think the “dying” guy would have to take it out and use it. Given the crappy UI of SAO, this means he has to scroll around in his backpack to find it, then pull out a glowing blue stone, and use it. The first victim “died” in the middle of a city, with dozens of people watching, and nobody saw a huge, shining stone in his hand? And come to think of it, there’s no player locating mechanism in SAO? Even MapleStory has that.
Why is there even an option of attacking a sword in your inventory? Why would the game creator add such a pointless action?
What’s the point of the Ragout Rabbit? Is the only benefit of an S-class ingredient its taste? No buffs? Really?
Fewer than 500 people are fighting at the front lines! Wow, so few! It’s as if episode 2 showed 2,000 people against the Kobold boss instead of 20!
And the very worst offense out of everything…
“I want breasts…”
STOP BEING SO SURPRISED AT EVERYTHING
I criticized episode 2 for its poor depiction of MMO culture, mostly because the players (who were all midnight-purchase types who bought the first 10,000 copies) were so amazed by every little thing that SHOULD BE COMMONPLACE IN ANY RPG. Or any game, for that matter. Back then, the players were impressed by the Kobold boss for being big. That’s not big. And now that TWO YEARS have passed, why is Kirito still surprised at how cooking works? He has even cooked before!
Oh wow, this is so different from how cooking works in the real world (which I haven’t seen in over seven hundred days). I guess I’d better make a stupid surprised look because this is the first time cooking has been shown to the audience. This way, they can be amazed with me.
Too bad this doesn’t work when the audience isn’t surprised to begin with.
“Hey guys, I’m your average boss monster.”
Kirito: “OH SHIT, HE HAS FOUR HEALTH BARS, JUST LIKE THE FIRST BOSS!!!”
Asuna: “Buy my figures. They come with free boobs.”
To be honest, all of this could have been put up in the MMO section above. But since the episode decided to end by taking a huge dump on my face, I’ll respond in kind.
As the captions above suggest, this is another characters-look-too-surprised-at-regular-stuff offense. It’s as if they didn’t fight 74 other similar-looking bosses. Maybe it’s the fire. Or the name. Why “The Gleam Eyes” anyway?
I really like how whenever Kirito goes near something dangerous, he tells other people to ready a telestone. It hasn’t ever worked before (at least from what we’ve been shown), and there are so many areas that you cannot teleport out of. You’d think a BOSS ROOM would be included in that list. Why are they even allowed to peek inside a room? It should be a whole different area, or else you’d be able to spam the boss from outside the doorway.
Worst of all, there was all this wasted build-up to the ending. Something is clearly going to go wrong with just “taking a peek,” and the previous failures of the telestones all point to OOPS WE’RE TRAPPED IN A ROOM WITH THE BOSS. But the episode doesn’t end with suspense (doors close behind them, for example). Instead, we’re treated to Asuna and Kirito looking like the idiots they are, being all surprised at your normal boss. Wow, I’m really looking forward to the next episode. They might as well stand there wide-eyed for another 24 minutes. It just can’t get any worse.
SAO had promise
It really did. It made a whole new world that drew from both MMOs and fantasy. Even after it veered off into the realm of side-stories, I still clung onto a tiny bit of false hope that a bunch of disconnected episodes could give a unique perspective on the huge, 100-floor world. But it abandoned its fantastic premise, turned the difficulty down to jokingly-easy, and supported itself with weak conflict, weak characters, and a whole lot of overused shit that has never worked before. But hey, at least it’s marketable.
The light novel is better blah blah blah
If there’s content in there that can produce this crap, no thanks.