「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

Random thoughts:

  • 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!

Full-length images: 01, 02, 07, 13, 15, 22, 35, 38, 39, 41.

 

Preview

End Card

198 Comments

    1. I can understand why they cut this and Red Nosed Reindeer down to a single episode, but I really hope the next story (and the presumptive one after) are 2-3 episodes long.

      By doing it chronologically they’ll be able to devote the entire second half of the 25 episodes to the main plot, but if they’re not going to add anime original material dealing with the side characters, then some of these early episodes will feel like complete stand-alones.

      Dimagus
      1. But the blacksmith story will reveal spoilers lest it becomes a slightly unsatisfying episode.

        IMO SAO is being stretched out a bit much for my liking and Kirito didn’t say “If you don’t comply I’ll kill you all”

        Also the reason why Kirito met Silica was that he was stalking Rosalia and decided to use Silica(real name Rika) as bait.

        Suppa Tenko
    2. This episode was fine, but if I were a female, I would be very offended by this new useless cliché female character. It’s the male otaku’s wet dream: a weak, shy, cry-baby character who needs an everlasting protection from our hero dude, keeps on blushing for no reason, trying to be cute with smiling while crying and obsessing over a little bit of stupid underwear flashing (heck, if I didn’t know better, I’d have thought maybe she’s not wearing any, therefore, fuss over it that extreme. Why the heck is she wearing that skimpy short mini skirt if she’s that worried so darm much about a little flashing, huh? Make no sense, other to portray the good-old-clichéd female trope character). Well, I am a dude, I found this character very annoying and an insult to our fairer genders.

      BUT I understand how this character in this episode was meant for the plot purpose. Since I thought the episode was fine, I wouldn’t complain about the show itself; just finding this character very annoying. But I’m VERY sure majority of people here will like her just fine~~!

      .....
      1. She got her skimpy dress as a gift from Kirito, so it wasn’t her fault. I would guess that she was also a but unused to that kind of outfit and that is why she was more councious about things. She also fairly obviously crushed pretty hard for Kirito, so was more shy then usual perhaps. It didn’t help that they actually went to a regular dating spot there.

        znail
      2. Well don’t forget, Scillica is only around 12 or 13. As a member of the “fairer sex” you mentioned, I wasn’t offended at all by her character and her overall “shyness, blushing, crying”, which is generally consistent with that age (around 6th, 7th grade) particularly in context to the situation of losing your best friend/pet(crying), meeting an older brother figure you like/admire(blushing), and generally trying to adapt to a death game situation/sudden idol status(shyness). Silica ISN’T your typical damsel in distress (something I love about her character), she can actually fight as was witnessed numerous times in the episode. She just isn’t at the level of a clearer or anywhere near solo/beater Kirito, which is why she needed protection at the upper levels and against the orange guild.

        That said, if I had to be offended “as a female”, it would be those gross slimy tentacle monsters, but unfortunately I’ve accepted them as a staple of anime fan service. *shiver*

        Also on a side note, it’s completely normal for a 12 yr old girl to obsess about “a little bit of stupid underwear flashing”. What kind of onset-of-puberty-aged little girl wouldn’t be humiliated by flashing panties to her crush? I’ve seen high school girls turn beet-red just facing their crushes.
        In short, I beg to differ and I think Scillia (and Pina) was really cute. and I want a pet dragon.

        Chloesong
      3. I would agree that there is a bit cliche going on (i.e. tentacles.) But Silica is not as typical as those characters you see in other pure fan-service anime; at least she is willing to fight instead of crying at the corner or begging for sympathy. For example, when she sees there is possible danger (when Kirito was surrounded by orange players,) she was prepared to draw her sword to fight. In a world like SAO, it is difficult enough to have the will to fight when serious consequence may follow. I would say she is pretty strong for a loli.

        Kaka
      4. In the Novels. Silica is shown going bezerk on the monkies that killed Pina (which she named because it reminded her of her pet in the real world due to softness). She charges at them with reckless abandon and kills most of them without regard to her life. It’s Kirito that steps in to ensure she isn’t killed and it’s then when she breaks down.

        She was 12 when the game started and was basically alone the entire time. Pina was her only friend in the game up until this point as most people grouped with her with the sole purpose of having a mascot.

        Rinsako
      5. Should also be noted that in the LN, the forest that Silica was in at the beginning was an area that randomly shifted it’s path everytime the player passes from one section of the field to another. Without a map, which the other group had, Silica was relying on pure luck to get her out. During the time she left the group and ran into the Drunken Monkeys, Silica had done a fair share of grinding on her own, enough to the point where she had exhausted all her potions. Silica isn’t just some helpless push over Loli character, she can hold her own very well in a battle.

        Grandier
      6. Honestly these past two episodes have started a trend (hopefully it doesnt continue) of weak female protagonists that kirito, as the strong male comes in to protect. While the stories themselves were still quite touching and gave another good glimpse at the world (although, level 50 already? seriously? I understand skipping floors and shit but maaaaaaan they could put a little more effort into world-building especially given the vast template they’re able to draw from…) it still grates on my nerves that apart from rosalina, the only female characters we’ve seen have been weak, damsels in distress and hell, even rosalina hadn’t actually killed anyone herself and simply set a bunch of other men onto kirito… i dunno, sure video games are still incredibly sexist but does that mean shows about video games have to abide by those trends?

        JohnTheRaptist
      1. @Anishuma, you aren’t a pedo just because you like someone 2 years younger then you are. This is of course a moot point, as Kirito didn’t think that way of her in the first place.
        Show Spoiler ▼

        znail
    1. The ‘main’ SAO plot is actually fairly short as it was originally written for a short novel competition. So even with the added bonus sub-plot chapters so do I see no problem with finishing both arcs. They have also skipped some of the extra chapters and content, mostly Asuna ones. Seems like they limit themselves to bonus chapters that are really important or introduces a character.

      znail
      1. They have to rid off some Asuna stories otherwise the whole thing would be filled with plot holes. A lot of the side chapters added on later doesn’t comply with the original main plot and are more harmnestic in nature.

        horace ho
    2. Is there any possibility to go further into Phantom Bullet or even later stories? I have a feeling that if SAO is successful, they may just keep getting the juice out lol

      Kaka
      1. I think the current LN arc would have to finnish first as they may want to get that in as well. GGO is a pretty short story really, wont make 12 episodes out of it.

        znail
  1. Loved this episode. For the most part, everything was left intact with some minor changes that don’t change the story.

    Moomba – you sort of treat Kirito harshly for his actions toward Silica as a guy trying to get close to a girl. However, in the LN it is pointed out that Kirito doesn’t interact with girls in real life nor in the game. It is part of his internal monologue when he first meets Asuna in ‘Aria,’ which didn’t make it into the anime. He is also a player that doesn’t help others unless it looks like they might die.

    rh75
    1. To be honest, I wasn’t trying to be particularly harsh on Kirito – it was as much a bit of humour as anything. But really, given how things come across in the LNs and his gradually increasing harem, I’m still pretty sure Kirito is treating female players differently. While he may not interact with girls in real life, he clearly does ingame on more than one occasion. He may not have intended to at first, but he definitely does interact with them.

      Moomba
      1. Of course he interacts with them. He even finds them cute. It’s just that he doesn’t have any intentions of doing anything nauthy with them. Nor would he know how to do it if he wanted to either.
        Show Spoiler ▼

        znail
      2. Kirito is somewhat at conflict, and the view that he treats male and female characters differently isn’t quite right, three main points, he helped Klein at the start of the game when it was still a game even though he didn’t have too, he helped the guild though he didn’t have too, and he was the only clearer to accept the guild leaders request. Also despite being a Solo player he fights on the front lines. These are all instances where he helps people for nothing in return.

        On top of that his open manor and honest behavior mean people naturally pull towards him, in the case of the female players who are generally nervous of the largely male community this is a rare trait and so gravitate towards him with a greater strength.

        It’s just that the light novel and therefore the anime focus on the female interactions because the people most likely to read the novels and be the most interested in the anime are males who play mmorpgs, and males don’t particular want to read about a book full of men saving men… Now if it was about an FPS gamer I’m sure there’d be men helping men all over the place. There are xxx number of levels that occur and only xx of them are ever mentioned, so you can bet your bottom dollar he’s helped a multitude of both male and female players, likely more male than female.

        Matt_D
    2. Perhaps in line with Moomba’s observations, I admit that I was a bit startled to see the antisocial Kirito just jump in and rescue her and then act so gentle toward her. But it should be clear to viewers how Kirito is treating her, shouldn’t it? He said he sees her as like his little sister.

      And with the level of emotion she showed for her pet dragon, I think that he would have helped her even if she were a hideous old man. I think almost anyone would feel that way, with the possible exception of a certain crazy murderer woman.

      Player
  2. Aww, Silica is so cute.

    This was what I was looking for in terms of Kirito’s character. He’s a lot less… emotionally anemic. While it’s been established in the SAO world that it is generally better to avoid discussions of real life, Kirito has really taken some time to reflect upon what is important to him in life (in addition to dealing with his guilt as a beater). In terms of plot, I think the latter point has more weight and I still don’t think enough attention is given to Kirito’s internal turmoil as of yet. Despite this, it’s not really fair to write off Kirito’s above-and-beyondness for female characters as a character flaw, unless you consider a desire to feel useful and relied upon a flaw. It might be, but isn’t this well within the scope of normal human behavior? Especially if lolis are involved…

    One thing I felt was particularly well done: Kirito recognizes that levels are just numbers, numbers with an arbitrary worth determined by the game system. The fact that Kirito is far overleveled relative to the content being cleared is rather telling – but instead of abusing his high level for prestige or status, he prefers to act out of his independent sense of justice – in this particular case, taking up the pleas of the surviving guild leader and sparing Silica from the grief of loss. In MMORPGs, where people often take advantage of their high levels to grief others and trashtalk, Kirito is a light in the darkness. And while he does pull out the IRL card, it seems rather appropriate in SAO. Rather than coming across as #1 creeper, he’s telling Silica to survive. That’s a +1 in my book.

    Jif
    1. Didn’t we Just have the same exact character last week? The only difference between this Silica character this week and the last week’s female character is that the last one died while this one didn’t. They killed her off last week to build our hero character and saved her this week to build him further (plus they can’t just keep knocking people off, otherwise fans will be turn off and get angry as they won’t be able to really connect emotionally). These two are exactly the same to me, well, except that this new one is working very hard, pulling all the classic “cute weak girl” moves to appeal to male otaku fans.

      I don’t want people to misunderstand that criticizing a character equals criticizing the show itself. NOT THE SAME. But I fully expect negs coming from those smitten by this Silica character. Oh, trust me, they will be a plenty. This type of character is very popular among male otaku fans for a reason, you know. That won’t change now.

      .....
      1. I really don’t know how you could say Sachi and Silica are the same character. Just because they were both rescued by Kirito? Well that would mean all the female characters are the same even Asuna.

        Sigh, why try to explain differences between characters when people only want to see what they want to see.

        Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Silica doesn’t show back up until the end of ALO.

        rh75
      2. Hmmm.. I responded to your comment above, giving you the benefit of the doubt that you arn’t outright trolling. Now I’m not so sure…

        Regardless, to clarify any confusion:
        Sachi: shy, terrified, devoted to her guild/school buddies, dependent on Kirito for emotional support, wishes she could stay in the city safe area, hair style is a short bluish bob, on the quiet side/hesistate to speak her mind, considerate of others.
        Scillica: independent, spunky, inflated sense of pride due to idol status, very young, best friends with pet dragon, brown twin tail with red themed hairpieces, capable fighter, gives off ‘little sister’ feeling, very expressive of emotions.

        I personally don’t find that much in common between the characters. Even their relationships with Kirito vary drastically. Kirito and Sachi were like two respectively lonely/terrified wounded souls looking for companionship and comfort. On the other hand Scillia thinks of Kirito as an attractive big brother.

        I hope this helps seperate the two!

        Chloesong
      3. I would guess that you made those statements because you did not read LN. Sachi’s story is rather important in developing Kirito’s personality and it heavily affects his actions throughout his life in SAO. On the other hand, Silica’s story is originally written after main plot was finished. It is just a side story that further explore the society of SAO and perhaps some aspect of Kirito (i.e. his relationship with his sister.) Purpose-wise, the two stories are completely different.

        Kaka
  3. Time to pre-empt the question.
    Q: Wait.. There’s a pet system in this game?
    Ans: Yes there is.Though the mechanics of the pet taming system is still somewhat a mystery, as to the conditions as to why it happens.
    Sometimes, on very rare occasions, a monster, instead of aggro-ing you, will approach you as a friendly. During this time if you can give it the food it likes then it is tamed. This has numerous problems though. For one, the more you kill “monster A” the less likely one will approach you in a friendly manner; Two, knowing the food to give. The moment you give the wrong food item to “monster A”, it’s back to the drawing board.

    Nadi
  4. Part of what goes unsaid in this episode is that Silica was 12 when the SAO event happened. Pina was very much a security blanket in her time of need, when she was confronted with being stuck with the specter of death. And Pina’s AI seems to have evolved some too, as Familiar monsters aren’t programmed to take the hit for their Tamer.

    I like this episode, but I think it once again illustrated why they should have taken some more time with the 2nd episode. This episode introduced the idea of PKing in SAO, as well as there being a jail which is operated by The Army. Both are/will be very large plot points to the SAO novels, and they deserved more exposition than just being dropped in as a footnote. (And while the Army wasn’t introduced in Aria, an explanation would have fit in quite nicely)

    Rasen
    1. Kirito is only 15 himself at this time, so it’s not like he is an old guy hanging around the kindergarten. He is often mistaken for being older then that due to his cool behaviour.

      znail
    2. But wasn’t it the case that the Army wasn’t even formed until maybe the 10th floor or so, so as you pointed out it wasn’t mentioned in Aria. Then the Army didn’t have anything to do with last week’s episode, so again how can they even explain it?

      RickyMack
      1. I do not recall there ever being an established time for when the Army was formed, but if you can point me to where you read it, it would be greatly appreciated.

        However, the Army turned Starting City into their HQ, and seeing as how their original intent was to share information to try and help players to survive, it would not be out of place to suggest they were formed before players cleared the first floor.

        As for how they could have explained it, they could have done it during the 2nd episode (the one in which I have been so vocal about how it should have been split into two episodes and taken the time to lay more of the groudwork of life in SAO), as part of an explanation of how people are starting to adapt to life in SAO. “Players started forming groups, and one of them was dedicated to helping players survive and preserve order. They are nick-named the Army”

        Rasen
      2. @Rasen,

        The Army is probably best explained in the coming side story, Show Spoiler ▼

        a20020000
      3. I see what you’re saying, but at the same time it’s so far away. A Murder Case, A significant part of Volume 1, Warmth of the Heart, some more of volume 1, and then Morning Dew Girl. Even more if you think they’ll cover the events of Laughing Coffin.

        Again, for something so significant as an organization that tries to maintain order and protect players, I think an earlier introduction is better.

        Rasen
      4. no they didn’t give an exact timeline as to when the Army was formed, but it definitely was not during the events of episode 2, in the LN version Kirito states that guilds could not be formed until floor 3. so if we’re going chronologically then the novel gives no prior explanation of what the Army is. Show Spoiler ▼

        so even if they had Aria or RNR be two episodes they’d be adding in content in a place it didn’t belong, which i think is much worse than removing content.

        i feel like a broken record saying this every week, but if anything the bigger fault i think is telling an achronological story in order. a lot of concepts are explained in vol. 1 so we’re already supposed to be familiar with the Army by the time we read this side story as well as episodes 2 and 3. part of why i think the show is seeming lackluster to non LN readers is cause it’s like watching Memento in chronological order. the side stories are meant to shed light on a character which is different than progressive character development.

        RickyMack
      5. @rasen

        Again, for something so significant as an organization that tries to maintain order and protect players, I think an earlier introduction is better.

        It would be a bit out of context right now to be explaining their operations and faults when we never really directly interact with them so far in the animated version. From the perspective of the main character as a front line solo player his interactions with the starter city on floor 1 would be limited.

        a20020000
    3. It might be better explained directly than to go into separate explanations now. The other side stories might serve as better times to show/explain these things as the concepts are more directly involved.

      Light novel spoilers (2x), Show Spoiler ▼

      a20020000
      1. At this point, I agree that it would probably be better if explained directly. I still think though that it would have been better early on, as part of an explanation bridging the first episode and the second episode. Then ideas like PKing and Black Iron Castle wouldn’t be so out of the left-field to non-LN readers.

        Show Spoiler ▼

        Rasen
      2. We are just in a different opinions of how much should be explained in expositions. As the show is, they tend not to have the internal explanations that the light novel uses frequently. To me the different formats work differently in terms of how things should be explained.

        Also PKing, and jails exist in current day games so there isn’t much explaining to do other than what they already said. (No log out, Real death)(Virtual Jail = Real Jail, PK = murder)

        Regarding the spoiler bit, that is why I said it would be interesting as there are still some connections in this arc.

        a20020000
      3. Yes we are of different opinions. And I suspect neither one of us will budge. Just curious though, does PKing exist in all MMOs, or does it depend on the MMO? Also, there are jails? What would be considered a jail-worthy offense? And who maintains the jail? And who decides how long a character’s sentence is?

        Rasen
      4. Player killing mechanics differ and some games don’t have it and there is a spectrum of player verses player modes that exist out there. Basically if you play massive multiplayer games you will have probably seen PvP mechanics at some point. Certain games also have player standing ratings that effectively make the green, orange, red system. PvP is a fairly common and sought after aspect of any MMO, but the depth and complexity of the implementation differs from game to game.

        Jails are typically system run special zone that you get teleported into and have to stay for a certain period of time. Sort of like banning just in game it does take a little bit more effort to create a jail but it really is just a bunch of closed cells.

        Source

        Show Spoiler ▼

        a20020000
      5. Jails are typically system run special zone that you get teleported into and have to stay for a certain period of time. Sort of like banning just in game it does take a little bit more effort to create a jail but it really is just a bunch of closed cells.

        So, going by standard knowledge of jails in MMORPGS, what Kirito did was to send players to a closed-off area for a temporary period of time, after which they would be released automatically by the system?

        I know this is not the case, but if one is going solely on knowledge on MMORPGs, then would that be the reasonable assumption to make, and thus jail would not be a serious form of punishment for PKers?

        Rasen
      6. @Rasen

        No, even in current day game putting a character into a jail can be an arbitrary length punishment ranging from a minute to forever. Also, because they can’t log out one could argue that even a year long stay in a virtual prison will be roughly equivlent to staying a real prison for a year. Unless you want to comment on the effectiveness of the prision system in the real world which is a real can of worms.

        And while most prisons are run by the GMs in MMOs if the SAO world allows people to lock doors then anyone could run a prison. (By the way locking a door isn’t some ground breaking feature as I think even fallout 2 (1998) the 2D ones let you reverse lockpick a door to trap people and stuff)

        a20020000
      7. Actually interestingly enough SAO does touch on this topic of prison effectiveness a bit later on,

        Show Spoiler ▼

        a20020000
  5. The author has actually admitted to having a terrible habit of constantly bringing in new girls, having Kirito help them out in some way, and having them fall for him. However, Kirito is monogamous: he only ever actually falls in love with one girl, and he stays true to her despite the harem that forms around him. In Silica’s case, him helping her was really because she reminded him of his sister.

    Wanderer
    1. It’s also worth noting that Kirito only got close to Sashi after he joined her guild due to their friendly feeling and not to get close to Sashi. He also didn’t actually know that Asuna was a girl when they first met as she was in disguise.

      This is actualy related to something not obvious perhaps to anime only viewers. Kirito having a girly look is not just an accident of generic anime styles, but he is actually mistaken for a girl in real life sometimes (even when out walking with his sister). That is why he had a more masculine looking avatar before the mirror thingie. And also why he tends to assume that questionable people are guys, as he doesn’t want to make the same mistake others do with him. Wich obviously leads him to make the opposit mistake…

      znail
  6. I kept thinking this episode would devolve into tentacle hentai pron. Kirito was badassary^10 at the end of it.

    When Silica’s little Pina died, i was kind of perplexed as to why she was getting so upset since Pina isn’t real obviously. But then after thinking about it, I realize that since everything is lifelike in virtual reality, it must be hard not to act as if the AI is actually real. So to her, it was like a little pup that she was taking care of and she let it die :(.

    stalkingpanda
  7. These in game AIs are probably quite a bit more advanced than current ones given, (3x novel spoilers)
    Show Spoiler ▼

    a20020000
  8. Silica is idolised by the male players for being one of the youngest (oh Japan…) active female

    Good lord, this the greatest comment.

    While there are certainly better shows this season, SAO is showing some steady improvement. Granted, it’s never been bad (it’s probably one of the better offerings this season), but I haven’t exactly been wowed out of my mind. Still though, using side characters for world building is always a plus if done well and Itou Tomohiko has been doing a pretty decent job with his directing. While certainly not the best of the season, which I sort of expected, it’s at least among the better.

  9. I don’t get why the Titan’s Hand would try to rob and kill other players, why waste a lot of time in doing that ? Instead, why not level up and get stronger like Kirito so you can farm faster and better. Are they those players who bum arounds in towns and try to scam people ? Why you no level up and get stronger ? Anyways, I give Kirito a 10\10 for tanking 7 noobs all at once. Haha!

    FT5Havok
    1. It probably has something to do with stealing being less difficult/risky and players will not generally kill in retaliation because of the implications.

      Even the guild leader who asked for revenge just wanted them to goto virtual jail.

      a20020000
  10. When are they goner quit giving us these side story and get back to the main story hmmmmm you know let say beating this game. I don’t mind these sidestory and stuff but they really should follow the novel route and go thru volume 1 of chapter and then make these as flashback episode midway. I am starting to think we goner get 1 whole season of sidestory and won’t get back to mainstory till episode 13-24.

    So after this inside circle story which should take at least 2 if not 3 episode, then we have the blacksmith, then maybe scammer arc, then Yui arc and maybe flashback episode of other beta player on first floor I guess.

    Benz
    1. will you cease your yammering for the main story ALREADY. every.freakin.week. the main story itself in the SAO arc is relatively short and wont be as meaningful to watch without some character development.

      hwighting
      1. SAO main arc is short, yea right so short that the whole story require 3 full LN to finish. After SAO they still got ALO ARC so wasting time here with side story instead of making them flashback episode is a waste of time, if they wanna character development I rather they do it with the main crew of Kirito, Asuna, Cline and you know those that actually show up more often in the story than some beast tamer who I can count with both hands how many times she actually shown up in the story, especially next story with the detective arc it just feel so out of place even during the LN.
        I say this before I don’t have problem with side story it just the timing of these episode just not right, like last episode with Blackcat if they make that episode Show Spoiler ▼

        .

        Benz
  11. Very clichéd characters, very clichéd dialogs, and very clichéd plot. Everything happened in this episode, I have seen it before many times. But having said, it was well-packaged and well-executed, so I ENJOYED IT nonetheless. The writers are only executing the well proven success recipes from the past. A-1 Pictures need to pay its employees, so don’t y’all haters dare to blame them for this, all right?!! Also it’s very hard to put together well-executed, albeit clichéd commercial product, okay? Grrrr!

    deathtogeneric
      1. Huh, didn’t I just write NOT to blame writers? Nadi, why do you sound like I AM blaming the writers? a2002000 is agreeing me here as well.

        I wrote that I enjoyed this episode, people!!! I am defending the show here against the haters~~! Stop giving me negs~~! Gimme thumbs!

        deathtogeneric
      2. @deathtogeneric

        I am half agreeing with you technically speaking. While I understand you are not blaming the writers your post is easily misconstrued since it has an inverted structure where you have two negatives surrounding a positive statement (Albeit bolded).

        Also asking for thumbs up typically is bad online etiquette for comments.

        Trying to write easy to understand English is fairly important online as there are little to no external queues as to your internal intent as I initially thought the same as Nadi.

        a20020000
    1. We have probably seen “everything” many times. It being well-packaged, executed, enjoyed is the difference quality makes.

      That being said the underlying concepts in Sword Art Online are interesting to watch even if there are common tropes being used.

      a20020000
  12. I play PSO2 as a female character myself, but the situation is quite a bit different. PSO2 is a third person game, so I, and likely most others, make female characters to have some eye candy to look at while playing. SAO is a virtual reality game. In such a case I’d certainly prefer being in a male body. At least I think so, I haven’t tried being in a female body, after all.

    HenDarou
    1. Strangely enough there have been studies where they trick men into thinking a female VR representation of a person is their own through the synchronized stimulus method and it actually works. Apparently they can even give people more than one arm or have disproportionate arms in the VR world and the person’s brain is still ok with it. (Only up to 4 to 1 ratio between left and right before the illusion breaks down)

      All of this is still with external stimulus so it might be significantly different if the sensory feedback was direct.

      Source

      a20020000
    2. pretty much the same over here, been shopping around MMO’s lately, the last one i played seriously was EVE online and i refuse to go back to WoW. i’m at lvl 6 on PSO2 (ship 2), and i just made a character on D&D online, both female. I also play a female wizard and female monk on D3.

      it was only my EVE capsuler that was a male, but until recently you only were looking at your ship as in game representation.

      RickyMack
  13. This episode was definitely a refreshing one compare to last week. (Not to mention Loli fanservice!)

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Silfure
  14. Well, two corrections, first Kirito didn’t just give Silica free stuff, she was shown paying him money in order to protect her during the escort and also from his side he wanted to ensure she doesn’t get killed because of using low-level equipment on a high floor.

    second, about the “what if Klein was a female would Kirito have stayed and joined him/her” thing, Kirito would have still left anyway, he already left Asuna behind in the 2nd episode .. so no.

    HunterWulf
    1. She never actually pays him for the equipment or the escort though. She starts the transaction but he insists on not taking it as he has his own reasons for helping out.

      Qwert
      1. which is because 1) she reminds him of his sister/cousin and 2) he knows he’s using her as bait. so i would have to agree that it’s not at all that he’s giving her female privilege.

        i don’t deny that it does happen in reality and i do agree it does suck that it does.

        RickyMack
    2. +1 because after reading Moomba’s post, I was seriously bothered, “Ahh that kind of sexism doesn’t sound quite right…why..” and I totally forgot how Kirito blew off both Kline… And Asuna. The female protagonist.

      So nope, imo, gender doesn’t have much to do with it. Kirito’s an intentional “forever alone” type character, with various internal conflicts (guilt, loneliness, longing etc.) that brings him into contact with coincidentally female characters. (as someone mentioned above, they are so far all female because it brings more profit from the fan base)
      Show Spoiler ▼

      Chloesong
    3. Someone already pointed out that Kirito was shown refusing the gold so I’ll just address the second of those.

      The circumstances with Klein and Asuna were vastly different. Klein was a newbie who had already asked for help once just to learn how the game works. This was also right at the start of the death game – the moment at which it would be most important for Kirito to help out those with much less knowledge than him. On top of that, Klein obviously wanted Kirito to stay and join their guild.

      In complete contrast, Asuna shows herself to be competent on her own and more than capable of handling things, doesn’t specifically ask for Kirito’s help and doesn’t do anything to suggest she wants him to stay with her. They’re both solo players at this point after all.

      Of course this is all entirely moot anyway since Klein was not female and we’ll never actually know the answer.

      Moomba
  15. What can I say… Yuki Kajiura music is really great. In the novel, was laughing so hard when Kirito revealed his level and literally just trolling the lowbie PKers, but if you add Kajiura’s dramatic music in the background I laugh even more.

  16. A couple things to say here. First off I just wanna say another amazing episode.

    Silica: Greatest thing to happen since Sachi’s appearance! I love this girl! I just kept watching the episode over and over to see her reactions around kirito and almost opening the door for him while she was half naked.

    Kirito: Not much to say here, but what I DO have to say, says ALOT. Kirito = A Certified Badass

    “Just so we’re clear, I’m a solo player. One or two days on orange mean nothing to me” (Death Stare)
    -Kirito, The Black Swordsman

    Swordhack4
      1. true but Show Spoiler ▼

        RickyMack
  17. Well, this episode is certainly the best paced so far. Good, maybe they’re getting the hand of it with each episode. We get a nice story about Kirito’s background and appearence of cute Silica. But may be a lot of people miss the subtle hint: Kirito is a HOPELESS FAMILY GUY. And I mean TOTALLY HOPELESS. This is more stressed in ALO when he Show Spoiler ▼

    Lyndine
  18. Think Moomba is trying to read too much into this episode.

    Good episode, solid adaptation, all in all a good episode.

    It’s a good light novel, but it is just a light novel, it isn’t a detailed commentary on mmorpgs and society any more than Haruhi is a detailed observation of super dimensional beings and school life.

    That said, way better than Accel World.

    Also Silica is only a year or so younger than Kirito, and it was like 2 years into the game, so she’s probably 15 at this point.

    Matt_D
    1. Actually she was 11 or 12 when she logged in and at that time apparently she hadn’t had her growth spurt yet. And you can easily assume avatars in SAO are not supposed to “grow up” so although she could technically be 12/13/14 now but she still totally looks like a grade school kid. I am assuming she could be approximately 4-8 tall in the game.

      U Doh
      1. My bad, you’re correct, she was 12 when she first logged in and it has been a year and a half since the game started. So 13 -> 14, probably 13 as it’s referenced directly at a point in the story.

        Matt_D
    2. She would be 13 then as it’s been 1 year since the launch and Kirito is 15 now. This isn’t exactly unusual ages for dating in real life as girls tend to mature faster and thus gravitate to slightly older guys.

      znail
  19. The reason why all this stuff seem so downplayed and less structured is because we’re following the timeline of SAO chronologically. The first novel wasn’t overly harem-esque and was very straightforward. All the side stories after the first novel becomes rather cliche – as many people mentioned. This is why I’m a supporter of following the LN as it was written. Get the main course out of the way, then let us enjoy the dessert afterwards.

    Grandier
  20. Why are the picture quality so much better than the anime? I download from Horriblesubs and it says its 1080p but when i compare with the picture , the picture beats the anime O.o? Can someone tell me why?

    skirus
      1. Just FYI!

        Some fansubbers apply AviSynth filters (degrain, limitedsharpen, etc) when they encode their release from a TV transport stream. HorribleSubs actually doesn’t sub OR encode — they rip video and subtitles directly from Crunchyroll and mux them into mkv with styled fonts.

        It’s more likely Crunchyroll’s 1080p is closer to the original, although occasionally (as it has been observed a few times in the past) TV stations may actually end up getting a better copy. I don’t think that’s necessarily the case with SOA, though.

        hoiut
  21. Omg I can’t believe Sicila has the same VA as vicious Yuniko a.k.a Scarlet Rain from Accel World. Shit! She’s a seriously good VA! I couldn’t even recognise the similarities between both characters!

    Rand
    1. No seriously, the animators did a HUGE mistake on this one.

      Show Spoiler ▼

      I wonder how are they going to explain this on the later episodes.

      nagi
      1. It will most likely not be a problem as they haven’t explained anything realy so far, so they wont need to start with something that will actually be inconcistent due to animators now knowing the story.

        znail
      2. True…the anime also shows the guy effectively wielding BOTH axes. Whereas, in the LN, it’s stated that even if you equip two weapons in each hand, one would be useless without the skill.

        Grandier
      3. it explain in LN that anyone can weild two weapon but it just won’t do you no good cause you won’t have any skills to use, not only you won’t have dualwield skills but you 1h skills will be block too, so is mainly just for shows unless you have the system skill dualweild.

        Benz
      4. Dual wielding and dual blades are two different things. Show Spoiler ▼

        a20020000
    2. Well, this is just a wild guess since it’s never indicated in the novel or anywhere. I guess that you can actually dual wield anything that’s not 2-handed but you won’t be able to use Sword Skills unless you have the skill ‘dual weapons’ in your skill slot.

      Or more likely, I think they make a blunder to have that guy dual wielding axes…

      Serapita
      1. I rewatched the part and oh boy, the guy is also doing sword skills (both axes are glowing). Only one person in the entire game was supposed to be capable of doing that, thus dual-wield being a “unique skill”.

        NVM, they did a solid job on this episode. Let’s see what they’ll do in A Murder Case in the Area.

        nagi
    3. I’m not sure but I remember Kirito using 1h sword skills with each sword, he used a skill using his right blade, then used his left blade(since his right blade can’t move after using skills) for another skill, he repeats that and that is basically how he dual wields without using his dual blade skills.

      Whatsht
      1. Spoilery much?

        Show Spoiler ▼

        Wanderer
  22. Morality pet? Morality… loli? Morality jailbait get!
    This one really puts a new meaning on the tropes intersecting.
    Kirito is entirely right, in real life even skilled fighters with good equipement can fall to numbers and ambush (Blackhawk down anyone?)… MMOs – and CRPGs make the level system that way for a purpose – for the players to have incentive to level up. As a player myself I remember fondly getting anything from high level skills to high level items that really made game more interesting.

    ewok40k
  23. 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…

    I have a feeling that Kirito will ignore Klein request of teaching him if Klein had been a female though…

    Serapita
    1. +1 again. Totally forgot Kirito is allergic to females shy around/hesistant to be labeled “that kind of guy” when approaching females.

      I can just imagine that scene:
      Kline(female): Hey, you over there!!!!
      Kirito looks back, then dashes away from suspicious soliciting.

      Chloesong
  24. This was a nice “breather” episode, considering the less lighthearted feel of the past few episodes.

    We got some nice exposition about how society in Sword Art Online has progressed, with warriors like Kirito on the front line fighting to get to the next area, and actual jails for dealing with criminals. While admittedly not the nicest place to live, the players of Sword Art Online seem to be adjusting to life in a virtual world. Whether that was Kayaba’s intention in the first place, remains to be seen.

    Kirito was awesome in this episode, and I think he genuinely wanted to help Silica and only used her as bait due to circumstance. He also seems to be making a real name for himself as “The Black Swordsman”, which is much more fitting moniker than Beater. We even got some of his past, including some information about his sister from the first episode. But I can see some of the scars left from the Black Cats, such as when he talks about Sword Art Online as a whole and when he puts his sword to Rosalia’s neck. I’m tempted to think he might just lose it eventually if things get too dire, with the stress finally getting to him.

    I like Silica. She seems to be the youngest player we’ve met in the series, and it’s that innocence that I think makes her endearing. I found her interactions with Kirito hilarious, and I’m a sucker for young love. I assume that if Kirito hadn’t interrupted her with the whole “levels aren’t everything”, she might just have confessed to him or something close to it. From what I’ve read online, it seems that she’s the first of Kirito’s soon to be growing harem, and personally I think she’s a fine first.

    Next week we get the return of our main heroine Asuna, which I’m looking forward to, though we’re also getting a story that Light Novel readers seems quite wary of. Wary in that some are afraid the anime is going to condense it into one episode when it deserves two. I’ll judge it for myself, though I don’t expect to be too harsh.

    Frontier
  25. Great episode but i wished they gave Kirito his badass gear. Cause im pretty sure he gets the name ‘Black Swordsman’ from that gear.

    1 thing they left out from the LN was the threat Kirito made aside from the “im a solo player” one.

    Seikyuu
  26. Hm, it’s kind of upsetting to see you call Kirito a “Mary Sue”- esque character. I personally don’t see him that way. He’s a great protagonist and he’s slowly becoming one of my favourites. He offers so much more than that!

    Also, since I’ve started to read the LNs..i really felt the jumping from scene to scene in this episode aaaaaaaaaaaaa lot more than last episode’s.

    grey
  27. This week’s pacing was great for this arc. I can’t wait for next week, because A Murder Case in the Area was one of my favorite chapters. I hope they put it together nicely. In fact, I think it’s a little too complicated for just 1 episode unless they take some things out… so maybe a 2-parter? :3

    Kiria
  28. Finally, a simple optimistic episode about the better side of SAO. Its nice for SAO to lighten up just little for time to time even if its for imouto jailbait. Well, other than the PK dicks, but at least Kirito got them of the streets, figuratively speaking.

    But those are PK’s dumb. If a mob is hit and not doing any damage, that’s usually a sign of a high level. I would be running the other direction fast, and not just stand still because I’m going to be one-shoted.

    fragb85
  29. I’ve a question for those knowledgeable in Sword Art Online’s full story.

    How the heck are the players surviving without food? If I remember correctly though there’s simulated food in the world, their real bodies are not getting any nourishment and are thus essentially starving while stuck to the NerveGear. So how exactly have they lasted days without everybody feeling hunger in the game world as a side effect of their real body’s starvation?

    MarkBadong
    1. @G27 and a20020000 – I see, does that mean that the players can basically live through their NerveGear apparatus alone for days, weeks, even months, thanks to those?

      MarkBadong
      1. Basically yes, while they can stay in the game for a long time there are still side effects from not moving around much for the extended time they are in the game. (Physical therapy is usually required after a long period)

        a20020000
  30. -_- Didn’t enjoy this episode too much since it was the chapter I read most recently.

    They didn’t get the part where he threatens them to go through the portal by themselves and both the LN and the anime cuts at the part Pina is revived T_T

    Kurisu Vi Britannia
    1. The anime version of Kirito’s Moment of Badass-ery is still good 🙂

      also, both the LN and anime ends at the same point, the author never wrote the scene of Pina’s revival, as the story is already over at that point.

      Mike
  31. >Given what is probably a vastly skewed ratio of males to females in the SAO playerbase … over 71% of all characters were female…

    Don’t confuse characters and players. In MMOs, as a heterosexual male, I prefer to look at a sexy female elf ass and not at a hairy orc butt, and i’m quite sure i’m not the only one.

    SinsI
    1. 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?

      I don’t think I said anything to suggest I was confusing players with characters.

      Moomba
    2. Your statement is too funny SinsI. As a heterosexual male as well I only play male characters. I feel like the character is a persona of me in game and never pay any attention about asses. I just focus on what’s ahead of my character and move forward.

      SilentCid
  32. I loved the pacing of this episode compared to the last one, a vast improvement! Although there were still a few things missing.

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Zakuja
    1. This is actualy the standard mode for pvp in Korean MMO’s wich would be the ones that the (Japanese) veiwers would be familiar with. So there is really no need to explain it in the anime.

      znail
  33. “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?”

    I believe he would. The example in this episode isn’t in the same context as the first one. He had the strong desire to increase his odds of survival, at any cost. Perhaps he may have been more persistent in trying to coax the female to come with him, but I doubt that he would have stayed. Now if he was already 10+ levels above everyone else, like in this episode, then w/o a doubt, he’d would have helped them out for sure.

    frubam
  34. Best anime so far this year, dissapointed in the loli fanservice this episode so I read all of the short stories online just now. Wow…. it suffers from the same plague as Death Note and Bleach, after the first arc finishes the story just falls apart and loses its epicness. I seriously hope this anime only covers the first book and the flashbacks in the future books since it’ll actually have an epic ending that way.

    tian
  35. As a girl, I prefer loli over melon boobs and 16-20-year olds that look like their 6/”moe”. Nice episode, felt a little bit filler (since it IS a side story it is okay) I do like how they are going chronologically in order though. It actually makes me more excited for Asuna coming.

    Fuuka
  36. i happy that asuna will be back next week since i love her character and i hope this side story will be 2 episodes so they will show some romance between kirito and asuna like in the light novel and wont cut them

    elior1
  37. While they were able to square this arc in 1 episode beautifully, I doubt they’ll be able to do the same in the next arc. The next arc is very tricky and making it into 1 episode will not do simply because it’s more of a mystery type of arc. I hope the producers play their cards well. At least 2 episodes should be enough for the next arc. So far, so good.

    The Story You Don't Know
  38. So let me get this straight from the LN readers

    Show Spoiler ▼

    Sora no Kaze
    1. It’s the other way around.
      Show Spoiler ▼

      znail
      1. I’m not sure but in the light novel, Show Spoiler ▼

        a20020000
  39. I love how this anime abides to his own rules, meaning that, like in a real MMORPG the hero switches gear and clothing, weapons and items when reaching higher levels. You can totally see this by watching Kirito’s badass coat and his sword. The coat changes, first it was an ordinary one, then it had blue stripes on it, now it has rivets on it.

    I’d love to see which skills and skills Kirito trained and chose, though.

    Saturo

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