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Sword Art Online II – 17

「エクスキャリバー」 (Ekusukyaribaa)
“Excalibur”

I mean, what do you think of when you hear hammer and mythical gods?

Mini-Arcs

I originally wrote a couple paragraphs trying to talk about the awkward appearance of Thor and how he played the role of a trap perfectly (did you see how shocked Klein was?) but every time I tried to close it out I couldn’t help but think about how useless this whole arc feels. In terms of contributing to the story as a whole, nothing felt all that substantial. Which made me feel a little confused since there were so many big things going on throughout the whole darn thing. While I’m sure the original story of Frejya and how Thor dressed up as her is fun and all, the execution of it all just felt really lackluster.

Then again, maybe I’m focusing on the wrong things here. Maybe this whole arc is supposed to be how it highlights all the other characters who we haven’t seen much of since the very first arc. With characters like Klein, Silica, and Liz finally getting the opportunity to really look cool in their own right and bigger names like Asuna or Sugu still getting a chance to get a line in here and there, maybe it was all a ploy to remind us that there are actually characters besides Kirito and Yui in this show.

MMO-Anime or Fantasy With MMO?

I talked a little about this with Stilts and Cherrie during our most recent podcast but when I thought about it, I don’t think I’ve ever thought of this anime as a traditional MMO anime (Log Horizon or Accel World would probably be a better example of that) but more of fantasy one with a splash of MMO themes to ground it closer to reality. I’m sure I’ve made the mistake of calling it an MMO anime, but I honestly think SAO hits a decent balance between traversing the fine line that separate the two genres. However, I also think that the past two arcs haven’t been the best. That said, I’m really hoping that it was just a case of the show getting back on its feet after a long break and what’s over the horizon will blow our socks off.

Looking Ahead

With this short arc done and Tonkii’s around the world safe from extinction, it looks like the show is ready to move forward. While this does make me wonder if we’ll get another new opening sequence since everything in our current one has become obsolete, all I can say is that I hope whatever is coming brings back some of the secret sauce that made the previous season so fun to watch.

Catch you guys next week!

November 2, 2014 at 9:05 pm
74 comments »
  • November 2, 2014 at 9:06 pmStealth

    That Sword is OP

  • November 2, 2014 at 9:10 pmDital

    Thor the win.

  • November 2, 2014 at 9:22 pmstarss

    Didn’t expect a cameo of Thor! ….no not THAT Thor, but that would’ve been incredible and random. Given this is based on Norse mythology, I should’ve expected it.

    Is it telling that a 3-episode arc that doesn’t really star Kirito is my favorite in the whole show so far?

  • November 2, 2014 at 9:34 pminfo600

    I’m sure I’ve made the mistake of calling it [solely] an MMO anime,

    I personally tag it with AR and Fantasy with a MMO skin on.

    Anyway, The essence of this arc is still there. Especially these gems:

    http://randomc.net/image/Sword%20Art%20Online/Sword%20Art%20Online%20II%20-%2017%20-%20Large%2024.jpg

    http://randomc.net/image/Sword%20Art%20Online/Sword%20Art%20Online%20II%20-%2017%20-%20Large%2025.jpg
    vv wallpaper material vv
    http://randomc.net/image/Sword%20Art%20Online/Sword%20Art%20Online%20II%20-%2017%20-%20Large%2034.jpg
    ^^ wallpaper material ^^

    • November 2, 2014 at 9:35 pminfo600

      • November 2, 2014 at 10:50 pmDafuq

        It’s a trap!

      • November 2, 2014 at 11:57 pmJustPassingBY

        Even if this is a trap, they needed to show its ass… Well, Sword Ass Online live to it’s “name” -.-’

      • November 3, 2014 at 1:59 amL002

        And here one would have thought, instead of gender bending, she would have turned Green.

        “…..Freya-san”
        talk about priceless.

    • November 2, 2014 at 9:45 pmstarss

      Asuna: “He is SO sleeping on the couch tonight.”

    • November 3, 2014 at 2:32 amL002

      Just imagine if Kirito was the prime minister, who made Harems legal. It would be like West Wind Brigade where Kirito would have so many talented women working under him. All those girls wish to work hard, for Kirito.

      • November 3, 2014 at 11:33 amZnail

        Harems aren’t illegal. You can’t get married to multiple women, but it’s not like marriage is a requirement for sex or living together.

  • November 2, 2014 at 9:38 pmRuckuss

    the difference betwen Log Horizon raid and SAO raid
    Log Horizon full tactical raid assault
    SAO Panty Shot tactital raid fan service

  • November 2, 2014 at 9:52 pmflap

    I was wondering what the point of this arc was too, other than showing how Kirito got a fancy new sword. However, I realized that with this arc it’s showing that the world is coming alive, so to speak. The Cardinal system is generating its own events, NPC personalities are becoming real antagonists (I noticed that Thyrm didn’t go poof into a bunch of triangles, so he’s probably still a threat), and I’m guessing we’ll be seeing Skuld again (please!). I guess the underlying story of SAO has been how it’s more real than just a game. Before there were human lives at stake, now the world itself (ALfheim, at least) has its own value.

  • November 2, 2014 at 9:55 pmqwert

    Poor Klein finds out the hard way that when you meet a cute girl in an MMO you have to be prepared to find out they have a penis… a giant… giant penis.

  • November 2, 2014 at 10:15 pmSakamoto

    I’m wondering if anyone could explain two parts in the episode that made me a tad confused. Perhaps the novels have a better explanation;

    1. Why did Kirito throw the sword away? Was is ‘physically’ too heavy? If it was ‘mentally’ too heavy than why did he accept it from Sinon and not explain to her that he wasn’t ready for it. (Unless of embarrassment)

    2. Why did the pink haired girl say ‘Klein I really respect you right now’ after Klein asked for the Skuld’s contact info? What’s so impressive about this? He’s simply oogling over a girl as he has always done…

    • November 2, 2014 at 10:34 pmnonary

      I thought it was because the sword was too heavy for him to jump with, so in order to jump onto Tonkii safely he had to let go of it. I might be wrong though

    • November 2, 2014 at 10:45 pmYukie

      I could be wrong, but I think she was merely admiring Klein’s instant recovery from (possibly traumatizing) heartbreak. His crush: Curvy beauty –> Bulky, bearded ossan…that takes some serious mental fortitude.

    • November 2, 2014 at 10:50 pmDualash

      If you look closely at Kirito’s feet, there are cracks underneath him, implying that the sword was too heavy and that Kirito wouldn’t be able to jump onto Tonkii’s back if he kept the sword.

      For Klein, I think the reason Lisbeth said that was because despite learning that Freyja was actually Thor, he never gives up trying, (though of course Freyja and Skuld are both AIs) and Klein always seem to jump back even when there are setbacks or in this case traps.

    • November 2, 2014 at 11:04 pmKrono

      1. The sword was physically too heavy to jump with, and he was unable to place it in his inventory. The intention seems to have been that the player be forced to throw the sword away, then later upon completely of the quest be given the sword as a reward for not being greedy. Sinon spiked that by nailing the falling sword with a spell basically intended to turn an arrow into a magic grappling hook after they’d gotten to safety, and the game adjusted the quest dialogue accordingly to compensate for Kirito still having it in hand.

    • November 3, 2014 at 11:36 amZnail

      2. He not only asked Skuld for her contact information, but he actually got it as well, that is the impressive part.

  • November 2, 2014 at 10:19 pmewok40k

    Let me present, Admiral Ackbar Award Nominee, Freya/Thor!
    Klein, you get the epic hammer as a reward, time to reset skills mister samurai!
    Also he doesnt ever change. SKULD!
    (I could not get out of my head AMG vision of the three sisters…)

    On the other front, Sinon saves the Excalibur which Kirito could not take. Yay for someone rescuing Kirito in distress! :)
    Cue flirty remark from her and DEATH STARE (TM) from rest of the harem.

    • November 3, 2014 at 5:47 pmL002

      “Sinon saves the Excalibur which Kirito could not take.”
      When you think about, I don’t think Kirito was talking about Excalibur literally heavy but rather figuratively “heavy” to take with him. I think there was a very good reason why Kirito wanted to throw Excalibur in the very bottom of that DEEP hole. Ex likely means extra burden.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-qjg-jCHmQ (Kirito doesn’t want to waste valuable game time)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kuhc8RROw10 (Kirito needs to spend his lifespan wisely for school)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zinavOgfGtQ (Throwing Excalibur, into another bottomless hole, will be something Sinon may do later, her aim his accurate)

  • November 2, 2014 at 10:21 pmMormegil

    As far as I’m concerned, I wish the rest of Sword Art Online was like this arc. Brought me back to the first arc of the first season, where they actually, you know, went through the dungeons.

    Also, poor Klein. Dude deserves some love.

  • November 2, 2014 at 10:23 pmrandom viewer

    I’d say Shion scored so many points this episode.
    Cat-like reflexes…
    http://randomc.net/image/Sword%20Art%20Online/Sword%20Art%20Online%20II%20-%2017%20-%20Large%2006.jpg
    The time she shot the King of Giants in the eyes/face/head and when she just looked cool doing garcher-looking moves.
    http://randomc.net/image/Sword%20Art%20Online/Sword%20Art%20Online%20II%20-%2017%20-%20Large%2022.jpg
    http://randomc.net/image/Sword%20Art%20Online/Sword%20Art%20Online%20II%20-%2017%20-%20Large%2023.jpg
    (Ha just look at Kirito’s face saying “you can do that?!”)
    http://randomc.net/image/Sword%20Art%20Online/Sword%20Art%20Online%20II%20-%2017%20-%20Large%2024.jpg
    {Shion is also thinking: you should know me better than that…remember my phantom bullet?).

  • November 2, 2014 at 10:26 pmkagehina13

    I don’t really watch this show, but I gave this three episode arc a try just to see how it would go and while yes, it did seem entirely useless, I really enjoy the characters, so just seeing them all together having fun on a quest was a real treat. If the entire show was more like this no doubt I would have stuck with it. Otherwise, I enjoyed the antics greatly, and I’m gonna miss that opening song.

  • November 2, 2014 at 10:37 pmMurasaki

    Lackluster really is the word for it, Takaii. I can see where flap’s coming from, but to me, this whole arc is best summarized through a phrase: Kirito and Gang Go Through A Hell Lot More For A Dang Golden Sword. And they did so in the most coincidental ways possible. Seriously, was Sugu the only person who thought about rescuing Tonkii? Was Klein the only person who would’ve freed Thor masquerading as Frejyr? And Sinon, that skill was awesome, but convenient. Awfully convenient for Kirito to get his brand new spanking sword.

    I just hope Mother Rosario lives up to its expectations. An arc that doesn’t revolve around Kirito is hands-down the best of the lot already. =.=

    • November 3, 2014 at 9:42 amTez

      You realize the story took place in a game, right?

      As for people not trying to save the takaii, they explained that pretty well. If someone on the web released a way to get the quest, then that’s what people follow. It’s extremely unlikely people would try something else when there is a sure fire route to take.

      • November 3, 2014 at 11:45 amZnail

        The entire area was also rather unpopular in the game as it was filled with boss sized monsters but no comparable rewards as far as people knew. It was also easier to kill the Tonkiis then the giants, so most people went that route. Also note that Tonkii got upgraded from getting the kill on a giant and most people there farming would try and get the kills themselves. So to trigger the quest so would someone both have to do the contrary way of killing giants but also fail at it and let a Tonkii get the kill.

      • November 3, 2014 at 7:58 pmSK

        While I hope people would help Takaii were he in trouble, the creature’s name is Tonkii.

  • November 2, 2014 at 10:44 pmKrono

    I suppose it depends on what you think of as “a traditional MMO anime”. It’s not like there are many of them. the .hack franchise, Sword Art Online, Accel World, and Log Horizon are the only “made it to being an anime” series I can think of off the top of my head. .hack commits more “MMORPGs aren’t like that!” sins than SAO does, Accel World’s Unlimited Neutral Field takes Brain Burst closer to MMOs, but in general the series owes a lot more to fighting games, and Log Horizon is actively seeking to circumvent or break it’s MMO based restrictions, and in general is pretty comparable to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (i.e. wisked away to/the world is transformed into a fantasy world the characters are somewhat familiar with, that has gamelike rules imposed upon it).

    So what exactly does Sword Art Online do to disqualify it from the title?

    • November 2, 2014 at 11:48 pmTakaii

      Nothing specifically — and I’m a believer that it does what it does well.

      If you talk to Stilts though, he may have a different opinion.

    • November 3, 2014 at 12:06 pmZnail

      SAO just have a diffrent focus then Log Horizon. It’s mostly a case of not being able to have unlimted amounts of info dumps in anime. SAO novel goes into a lot more MMO details then the Log Horizon anime do, but I also assume that Log Horizon novel also goes into more details about things.

  • November 2, 2014 at 11:04 pmewok40k

    http://i141.photobucket.com/albums/r45/ewok40k/SAOshipping.png
    this is what I thought at the sight of Klein trying to pick up Skuld…

  • November 2, 2014 at 11:53 pmPancakes

    While a good dose of average (especially compared to what we are getting this season with other fantasy shows), this arc does play to SAO’s strengths by minimizing the Kirito OPness and harem fawning. For SAO that’s a pretty big accomplishment all things considered.

    As for how to describe SAO it’s certainly on the side of fantasy with MMO elements. SAO is all about the adventures of Kirito and harem friends, the MMO elements are simply there as setting and sources of suspense/conflict (as indicated by how little focus the MMO setting receives except when directly tied to conflict resolution). If anything the series feels more like an “adventure of the week” show than something with an overarching story. SAO’s structure therefore is ironically similar to Log Horizon as Log Horizon too hasn’t strung together a central theme just yet, although the pieces are clearly present. Quite funny really because SAO is almost the structural opposite of the author’s other work in Accel World which has a unifying theme relating all tangential arcs, and a less (subjectively) obnoxious MC to boot.

    Categorization aside at this stage SAO could probably just be labelled gateway fantasy, the show has enough mainstream appeal that new individuals who end up enjoying it will likely be interested in pursuing other shows which tackle many of the issues SAO brings up in a better manner.

  • November 2, 2014 at 11:54 pmJustPassingBY

    “Excalibur”
    >
    Excaliber, they changed title in this episode (note what Sinon said @ end of episode)… I wonder if CR translator even tried to read LN before translating this series :/

    I couldn’t help but think about how useless this whole arc feels
    Then again, maybe I’m focusing on the wrong things here. Maybe this whole arc is supposed to be how it highlights all the other characters who we haven’t seen much of since the very first arc.
    It’s not even an arc. It’s just a side story that they animated because Mother’s Rosary is too short for 12… not mention 8 episodes (IMO next ep will be filler). Only things that was significant for next “arc” (another side story released as book – web novel had 4 arc: SAO, ALO, GGO and Alizication) is… that camera for Yui and sword skills in ALO.

    On side note, I found myself to “end it with Alizication prologue 1 and Interlude”… I must be evil man :/

    • November 3, 2014 at 7:22 pmKah

      They had to explain how Kirito gets the golden sword that he uses next arc anyway.

    • November 3, 2014 at 8:06 pmSK

      There are some details from this arc that show up in MR, so it probably isn’t completely useless as foreshadowing.
      Also, I think the next episode will be somewhat slice-of-life following Asuna, but it should still be material coming from the source LNs.

  • November 3, 2014 at 12:10 amSniperk

    It’s a shame that Alicilization won’t be animated this season, an judging by the lackluster response for this season, if Mother’s Rosario doesn’t pick up the slack, we may never see it animated at all.
    But since Alicilization is still ongoing…

    • November 3, 2014 at 3:11 amLyfe

      The Alicization arc is far too long to even attempt this season. Also I’m pretty sure Season 3 will happen, it’s still a popular series in Japan and the sales will reflect that. 15,157 sold first week for the Blu Ray is fine.

    • November 3, 2014 at 12:10 pmZnail

      There is a lot of hate on SAO here in the west, but this doesn’t matter at all for a nother season or not. It’s popular in Japan, that is all that matters. It’s not that the amount of people that dislike a show matters either, it’s only amount of people the likes it that matters. Unless the haters turn violent or something.

  • November 3, 2014 at 12:41 amNothingLess

    Klein,you’re the best.You even ask for Contact Info from a NPC.Seriously,how(or mostly WHY) the hell Kirito get to attract all the girl to him even though he already got a hot girlfriend like Asuna.Is it because he’s the MC of the story?No!Wake up girls!Klein is more funny and more cooler than Kirito,so get your eyes off from Kirito for a second and go farm some relationship points from Klein,dammit!(actually,Lizbeth is more fitting for Klein)

  • November 3, 2014 at 1:34 amTechim

    I would like to see how ridiculous or funny RC readers can go..
    Caption this screen, please? =)
    http://randomc.net/image/Sword%20Art%20Online/Sword%20Art%20Online%20II%20-%2017%20-%20Large%2007.jpg

    • November 3, 2014 at 2:13 amewok40k

      please let me measure your CALIBER, sir?

    • November 3, 2014 at 2:32 amTakaii

      “Mine’s this big.”

    • November 3, 2014 at 3:18 amflCer

      “about this long”

    • November 3, 2014 at 7:37 amjay

      Wait, how long is the sandwich? a 5 dollar footlong, WHAT A DEAL… (zoidberg)

    • November 3, 2014 at 8:02 amstarss

      “It was a big as THIS SET OF BOOBIES!”

    • November 4, 2014 at 9:15 pmNagakun

      “I can make the most delicious Sandwich about this big for you”

  • November 3, 2014 at 2:12 amdebo

    I miss Sinon’s ass :(

  • November 3, 2014 at 3:22 amMunchkin

    Hammer + mythical gods = Home Improvement, sponsored by Ikea

  • November 3, 2014 at 5:37 amechykr

    • November 3, 2014 at 8:01 amstarss

      He DOES make for the most entertaining girl in the harem.

  • November 3, 2014 at 9:02 amDictionary

  • November 3, 2014 at 9:07 amDictionary

    • November 3, 2014 at 8:30 pmPeTdo

      Right in the kokoro!

  • November 3, 2014 at 10:26 amKlingKlang

    This is the first time that I remember seeing Yui have the ability to warn of boss monsters’ attacks ahead of time. Since this is still a game and without any danger to the players in the real world for this arc, wouldn’t this be considered cheating?

    • November 3, 2014 at 12:12 pmZnail

      Borderline, it’s a part of the main program that volunteers to help them out :P

      • November 3, 2014 at 12:45 pmKlingKlang

        I agree, its just that with them having Tonkii for transport and Frejyr/Thor as an incredibly helpful/powerful NPC ally, it seems like the rest of the players just end up staring up at them without having had a chance.

    • November 4, 2014 at 3:51 amTassadar

      Yui is better than Deadly Boss Mods..

  • November 3, 2014 at 12:26 pmNitro

    i think i’ll do Klein a favour and ship him with Lisbeth. dude needs a break!

  • November 3, 2014 at 2:16 pmYanDaMan

    lol poor Klein. I knew something like this would happen.

    And this arc isnt “useless” per say. I think it was nice to see SAO being an MMORPG without that real life death on top for once.

  • November 3, 2014 at 2:22 pmTaper

    I couldn’t help but think about how useless this whole arc feels. In terms of contributing to the story as a whole, nothing felt all that substantial.

    While it may seem like it contributed very little to story as whole (indeed, some readers have pointed out that it was merely side-story), but it DOES introduce the Cardinal system and how it works. It’s important because if I’m not mistaken the system plays a major part in the Alizication arc that takes place after Mother’s Rosary arc, and furthermore I think it’s also what eventually sets up the groundwork for the cyber worlds of Accel World. (I could be mistaken, though, so feel free to correct me if I am.)

  • November 3, 2014 at 2:31 pmSoulCaster

    So… anyone mind explaining to me why at about 8mins and 10 secs into the episode, the reasoning for why Sinon was holding her bow backwards after she shot her arrow during that all out attack moment xD.

    Anyway for those that have read the LN, does Sinon adapt to ALO this quickly (I know they are short for time, but it just seems odd to me) and accepts the fact that Kirito has a “child”? I was kind of hoping they would spend at least the first episode of this arc addressing these and other questions I have.

    • November 3, 2014 at 4:07 pmFlameStrike

      Some bows flip around like that after you fire them. If you watch some videos of traditional Japanese Kyudo you’ll see that effect. Modern Compound bows don’t have this quirk though.

    • November 3, 2014 at 8:09 pmSK

      Similar comment/screenshot in the last UBW episode (Re: Shirou), coincidentally. Apparently that’s proper technique for Kyudo.

  • November 3, 2014 at 5:57 pmLastywinfan

    I was mad because they didnt mention Loki, in the Mythology he was the one who tricked Thor in disguising himself as Freya so he can recover his hammer. I wonder if he will shw up in the Future.

  • November 3, 2014 at 11:44 pmNagakun

    A moment of coolness from Shino, plus how she did to ensure Kirito remember her and getting the other girls to be jealous… extra points!!

    Well, interestingly, the part where Freya change into Thor is just too epic when Klein show that shock face.. (>w< ||)

  • November 4, 2014 at 6:51 amSissy

    Anybody else had this same thought when Thor left? “Goodbye! My people need me! Poof!” No? Nobody? XD

  • November 4, 2014 at 7:34 amAnonymousperson

    The arc is primarily foreshadowing.
    For Show Spoiler ▼

    Likewise, while the MR Arc can stand strongly on it’s own, it also foreshadows something, in it’s case Show Spoiler ▼

    No real spoilers, but spoilered just in case.

  • November 4, 2014 at 2:01 pmSolaris

    I couldn’t help but think about how useless this whole arc feels. In terms of contributing to the story as a whole, nothing felt all that substantial.
    LOL. This was the best SAO arc ever. No, really. Finally something recalling a real game quest with a real party and a simple and linear plot. Ok, ok it was entirely ripped off Norse mythology, but who cares? No deus ex, no (almost) super-kirito and coherent execution. So what? Was it so hard to do it the right way for once?