Sword Art Online – 04
「黒の剣士」 (Kuro no Kenshi)
“The Black Swordsman”
So how about some loli fanservice? This was certainly an episode packed full of it! Once again, Kirito manages to save the life of another player and ends up travelling with them. It’s also the second time he’s done so in order to help a female player (that we’re aware of).
Given what is probably a vastly skewed ratio of males to females in the SAO playerbase (just to put it into perspective, during the Pre-Open Beta Tests for Phantasy Star Online 2, over 71% of all characters were female… what do we think this says about the Japanese playerbase for online games given most of those were actually male players?), it’s no surprise at all that Silica (Hidaka Rina) would be seen as an idol. Nor is it any surprise that other females players would feel some jealousy of her… though probably not quite enough to warrant wanting to kill her.
I really want to see this episode as a sort of commentary on how female players are treated in MMOs. Anyone who’s ever played an MMO can probably attest to it, but female players are always treated very differently. In fact, you need not actually be female – if there’s even the remotest possibility you might be female (if your avatar is for example) you will regularly be ‘doted upon’ by the male players. This much is equally evident in SAO – we can see how Silica is idolised by the male players for being one of the youngest (oh Japan…) active female players. But it feels like there’s a double standard here. How horrifying that all those unimportant male characters should be approaching her! It seems like Kawahara Reki is familiar with how this sort of thing plays out. But oh, it’s perfectly fine if it’s the bishie protagonist/self insert! Saving her life is one thing (it would be pretty terrible if he hadn’t), but this is not the first time Kirito has gone beyond what’s necessary (‘You look like my sister, have some free stuff!’ Pffhaha!) to help a female player (Sachi anyone?). It makes me wonder whether Kawahara intentionally wrote Kirito to suffer from what is arguably a character flaw or whether he unintentionally projected on him and created a character that follows his own mindset. Either way, it brings up an interesting question – what if Klein had been female? I have an odd feeling that Kirito would not have left him behind back at the start of the game and instead elected to stay and join their guild…
Of course, we can’t overlook the fact that Kirito, while obviously expressing an honest desire to help her, was actually using her for another purpose. No… uh… not that. Probably not anyway. Actually that’s entirely possible… but let’s put that aside. His true objective was to track down the player killer guild ‘Titan’s Hand.’ However, it does seem to be implied that his meeting them while helping Silica was an accidental side-effect, so everything he did was still as much for her sake as tracking down the PKers. His motivations for wanting to imprison Titan’s Hand are pretty straightforward – if their status as player killers within a world where death in the game is equal to death in real life (essentially murderers) was not enough on its own, he still shows signs of pain at Sachi’s death. Her death may not have been caused by other players (at least not directly), but I can just imagine his thoughts at the time – if people are dying to things like that on a regular basis, isn’t it ridiculously stupid for other players to contribute to the casualties? Even if they’re deluded enough to believe that just because there’s no proof, people might not be dying in real life, doesn’t that sort of logic also extend to real life? Couldn’t real murderers make that claim – that there’s no proof life ends with death? These PKers are no better than murderers, no matter their attempts at justification.
While I personally can’t fully empathise with her because I’m a cold-hearted bastard, I can still sort of understand Silica’s devastation at losing Pina. Pina was essentially her only friend (despite being an AI with the intelligence level of a common monster) – the only person who wasn’t trying to get close to her because she was a moe, young female player. It’s kind of sad really, to imagine a person’s only friend as a common AI… but I guess it’s not too different from lonely kids who consider stuffed animals their closest friends. At least she got Pina back in the end! No deaths either! Unless you count the nameless guild members who were killed off-screen by PKers…
tl;dr: @MoombaDS – Plenty of loli fanservice this week, along with some pretty nifty action and ridiculous powerlevels! #SAO
- In case anyone happens to be wondering, ‘Beast Tamer’ is not really a class. Like ‘Beater,’ it’s no more than a term used by players for people who are lucky enough to end up with a monster pet.
- Interesting to see those guys from the first episode returning to make a cameo!
- Kirito is pretty good at picking out armour… though his own choice of dress doesn’t seem to vary much…
- In a way, the jealousy people feel towards Silica for her popularity and the hatred people feel towards Kirito for being a beater makes them fellow outcasts. They’re a good matchup in that sense!
- People frequently call Kirito a Gary Stu. While I won’t really contest this, I think the anime itself addresses some of this fairly well. Levels are not fair. If you’re ridiculously high level and you come back to a much lower level area, you’re obviously going to outclass everyone – it’s common sense.
- Remember what I said about how male players act towards females in games? Kirito even pulls out a ‘let’s meet in real life!‘