OP2: 「INNOCENCE」 by 藍井エイル (Aoi Eir)
Episode 15 of Sword Art Online feels almost like an entirely different anime. Right from the OP showing Kirito and co. frolicking around in
Aion the new game which wasn’t introduced in this episode, down to the new characters and real world setting, only Kirito and Asuna (along with Kawahara Reki’s distinctive writing style) remain as reminders of the previous arc. We’re out of SAO, Kirito is undergoing rehabilitation, Asuna remains in a coma for some mysterious reason, and right off the bat we have another new love interest and antagonist. Yes. Already. Perhaps some would complain that pacing was too slow if no new big bad was introduced immediately now that Kayaba Akihiko’s plans (whatever they actually were) have been thwarted. I, however, do not think there was any real reason to introduce a new antagonist this soon – the plot could easily have gone on without it.
Subtlety is perhaps not Kawahara Reki’s strong suit. Even without the knowledge that Kirito (sorry, I can’t bring myself to call him Kirigaya) is seemingly irresistible to all feminine beings, Suguha’s (Taketatsu Ayana) adoration for her adopted big brother/cousin could not be more obvious. Less than five minutes after her very first appearance and she’s already acting flustered in his presence, tightening her fists in anger at his love for Asuna, and by the end of the episode, sleeping in the same bed with him and blushing over it. But I guess this can be written off as being a failing not unique to Kawahara – it crops up very frequently in anime in general. Sugou Nobuyuki (Koyasu Takehito) is a completely different matter. I know I’m not the only person who thinks that Kawahara has some issues with how he writes many of his antagonists. He seems to take everything he can possibly imagine as being loathsome in a person, cramming it all together and hey presto! Here’s your antagonist! There is no grey area whatsoever, and to be honest, that complete lack of dimensions, coupled with the insistent clamouring of ‘You need to hate this person!’ makes it really hard for me to take these kinds of antagonists seriously.
We can obviously see that Sugou doesn’t care for Asuna (heck, he even says it himself), so it’s fairly evident that his motivations in marrying her are probably to get his foot in the door of her father’s company. He doesn’t see Kirito as a threat, and why should he? I mean, Kirito is just a normal kid who did some stuff in an online game. What could he possibly do? But, this certainly didn’t mean he needed to rub Kirito’s face in it. I don’t know why Kawahara likes his antagonists to be so smug (side note: smug is only attractive in Horizon characters) – you’d think he’d write in some intelligence and make them more conscious of the far-reaching effects their actions could have.
I feel I need to say something good since most of that has probably come across as negative. Well I guess the episode was a nice change of pace after a rather hectic rush towards the end of the Sword Art Online arc, and it was nice to see a bit more of what the outside world is like – after all, before now the only glimpse we ever had of it was the first few minutes of the very first episode. There was actually one other thing I really liked about the episode – the way the colours are so much duller in the real world when compared to SAO and the game depicted in the OP, almost as if to say ‘the real world is so mundane and ordinary compared to fantasy!’ I have no idea whether this was intentional or not, but I liked it anyway. Let’s not forget the pretty cool kendo battle between Sugu and Kirito- oh. Oh dear. I shouldn’t have started on that one. And I was so close to finishing this post too…
Now I have a big problem with that fight. So I know the idea that getting mad sword skills by playing an online game is incredibly ‘cool’ and all, but life doesn’t really work that way. Sure, by being neurally connected and actually executing his actions he would’ve picked up the techniques, but there is so much more to swordplay – and martial arts in general – than technique alone. To be able to execute those techniques you need some very important things – physical strength, endurance, and agility. Kirito has only been up and about for two months after more than two years in a coma. He himself admits that he’s still not fully up to scratch even after all his rehabilitation. There is no way in hell he should be able to stand toe to toe with a trained kendo practitioner. Playing games does not magically grant physical strength or agility alongside technique. These things require training of their own – the real world equivalent of the stats he accumulated while playing the game. The only blessing here is that he didn’t actually win the fight – something attributed more to his lack of full rehabilitation than the fact that he has no real training whatsoever.
tl;dr: @MoombaDS – #SAO teaches us two things – gaming attracts the ladies and in-game skills transfer to real life!
- Perhaps to balance his apparent transference of weapon proficiency, Kirito does actually learn that not everything from the game world is binding… marriages included.
- Asuna fans will probably be disappointed that this episode’s focus shifted drastically towards Sugu. Heck, Asuna only got a few minutes of screen time at all and most of it was spent with Sugou poking her in the face.
- LOOK AT ME CRUSH THIS BOTTLE I’M THE GODDAMNED HULK. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
- Anyone want to step forwards and claim to have built a PC from junk parts when they were six? Or is building a PC supposed to be that much easier in the future?
ED2: 「Overfly」 by 春奈るな (Luna Haruna)