Sword Art Online – 09

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.49_[2012.09.01_15.37.01] [HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.26_[2012.09.01_15.43.39] [HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.42_[2012.09.01_15.44.54]

No surprises here, but I can definitely confirm that I like Sword Art Online better now that the omakes are over and the actual series has started.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.37_[2012.09.01_15.33.49]Episode 3 9 of SAO had pretty much everything I would have thought I’d want from this series after the excellent premiere.  Some entertaining and well-animated action (possibly the best of the series), some Klein, a dash of Aincrad politics, the reality of character death, and even some romance.  Most importantly the mythos of SAO – which is the most interesting part of the series for me – was ever-present in the narrative, much the way I imagine it would be if this terrible scenario played out in real-life.  When this started I was quite certain that was the whole point of the exercise, though the intervening run of episodes had me wondering at times.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.21_[2012.09.01_15.35.33]Truth be told, I still have some problems with the way Asuna is being depicted.  Her portrayal is inconsistent – sometimes she’s recklessly brave, but much of the time she falls a little too quickly into the damsel-in-distress role for someone supposedly formidable – hiding behind Kirito, screaming in terror, breaking down in tears.  I’d hoped she would be a little more battle-hardened, someone portrayed more as Kirito’s equal than his adoring (if tsundere) maiden.  Be that as it may, it’s clear that her relationship with Kirito has to form the emotional core of the show, and at least we’re seeing signs of progress on that score.  Of her real life we know very little, but we can infer that there might be some overlap with that of Kirito – loneliness, isolation, even – and that the mutual attraction between them might be as much a desire for companionship (reluctantly perhaps) as attraction, at least initially.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_05.25_[2012.09.01_15.35.37]In this way, it’s possible that we might be touching on one of the important themes of the series – what if life is actually better inside SAO than outside?  Both Kirito and Asuna have expressed a desire to return to their physical bodies, but I wonder how strong that resolve would be if it ever came to pass that the only way they could be together was in Aincrad.  For the moment, at least, Kirito seems to have accepted that he’s going to be partnering with her for a while.  After their reconnaissance of Gleam Eyes – who appears to be quite formidable – and strategic retreat they run into Klein and his band. I’ve enjoyed all of Klein’s appearances so far, as he’s refreshingly free of maudlin emotion and makes a nice antidote to Kirito’s brooding hero-in-black persona (I would have guessed he was older than 24, though).  Kirito’s reaction to Klein’s self-introduction to Asuna suggests the beginning of possessive feelings for her on his part, though Klein certainly meant no harm.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.21_[2012.09.01_15.36.33]Of more immediate importance to the plot is the appearance of the Aincrad Liberation Army, headed by Corbatz (Inada Tetsu).  He claims they’re a guild seeking the fastest liberation for all players through mutual cooperation, but it’s clear immediately that the stupid stick has been busy here, and that they plan to ignore Kirito’s warnings not to take on Gleam Eyes after he’s kind enough to provide them with maps of the floor for free.  This is the MacGuffin for the episode, as it’s the results of their fools-rush-in charge that provide all the exposition.  We have several interesting wrinkles: another boss room where teleport doesn’t work, the way Kirito, Asuna and Klein react to the situation, and the very unusual skill Kirito is eventually forced to employ to survive (barely) – one he refused to disclose to Asuna earlier, despite her insistent urging.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.39_[2012.09.01_15.36.51]I’m starting to get the feeling that perhaps the rules that appear to be hard and fast in Aincrad might not be so rigid.  Not even Kirito knows the source of the two-handed sword technique “Star Burst Stream” that mysteriously appeared in his inventory six months earlier – the reason he doesn’t carry a shield, and why he doesn’t use the sword Lizbeth forged for him by default – but it suggests intent, that he’s been targeted for a specific purpose in this enterprise by Kayaba-san.  As to the psychology of the moment, it’s actually Asuna (in one of her non d-in-d moments) who rushes in first, seemingly enraged at the notion of seeing men die in front of her, though it’s my belief that Kirito for certain and probably Klein would have stepped in if she hadn’t rather than see Corbatz’ men massacred.  As is, Corbatz himself and two of his troops are killed, and Kirito puts on a display the likes of which we haven’t seen so far in the series.  His battle with Gleam Eyes is quite the visual feast, and nearly kills him in spite of his special ability, leaving him down to a sliver of health and unconscious on the battlefield after he finished the demon off.  What’s really interesting is that when he wakes up, it isn’t Asuna that Kirito sees initially, but the deceased Sachi from the Black Cats of the Full Moon.

[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_08.57_[2012.09.01_15.39.10]In the aftermath of all this Asuna decides to take a leave of absence from the Knights of the Blood to pair up with Kirito – the sense I get is that she’s tired of the weight she’s bearing with the group and wants some “me” time to refresh her body and soul – but the commander of the guild, Heathcliffe (the unmistakable Ohkawa Touru) doesn’t take kindly to the notion of losing her.  He challenges Kirito to a duel, with his own participation in the guild staked against Asuna’s freedom from it (two duels for Asuna’s honor in two episodes, eh?).  Kirito is also dealing with unwanted celebrity as the skill he worked so hard to keep secret has become public knowledge – obviously someone who was in the boss room with Gleam Eyes spilled the beans.  With as many unscrupulous players in Aincrad as there seem to be, Kirito is likely going to have to deal with far worse than information brokers and celebrity hounds.

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[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.06_[2012.09.01_15.43.18] [HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_13.53_[2012.09.01_15.44.05] [HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_14.36_[2012.09.01_15.44.48]
[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.25_[2012.09.01_15.45.37] [HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.33_[2012.09.01_15.45.46] [HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_15.55_[2012.09.01_15.46.08]
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[HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.57_[2012.09.01_15.48.31] [HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.46_[2012.09.01_15.51.20] [HorribleSubs] Sword Art Online - 09 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.15_[2012.09.01_15.51.49]
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32 comments

  1. E

    >> What’s really interesting is that when he wakes up, it isn’t Asuna that Kirito sees initially but (I assume) his sister.

    Interestingly, it's Sachi (see that mole under her right eye?)

  2. Yep, I didn't catch the mole. That is interesting.

  3. A

    Good adaptation, but that's original content and I don't see how it is interesting.

  4. It's interesting in what it says about Kirito's character that Sachi is the one he's thinking of in his most unfiltered moment – assuming they go anywhere with it.

  5. K

    GE: I think what Anon meant up above was that its anime-original content, cuz in the LN there was no mention of Sachi at all.
    Though I think its harkening back to simply connect to the side stories (something I kinda like.. makes it feel more connected rather than disjointed)

  6. A

    The anime adaptation is different from the LN. In the anime there was Sachi, while in the LN the was none. I prefer the anime in this regard IMO.

  7. A

    Good showing again with the main plot. Interesting how they're approaching some things e.g. showing Lizbeth when she was non-existent in the LN at this pt (I'm fairly certain).

    On a side note: Dantalian no Shoka OVA huzzah!

  8. J

    Yeah, I really liked the fact they included Lizbeth in here (plus the many Sachi cameos); it makes the first stories don't feel so isolated from these front-line skirmishes.

    I agree on almost everything with you Enzo too; Asuna seems a different person in each scene too…I really hope we get to hear more from this heroine herself, rather than from Kirito's POV, where everything seems so flat and one-sided – like many shounen series out there, unfortunately.

    Having said that, I really can't agree on the animation part. I was dissapointed – I felt the ending scenes from last episode were a lot more colorful and flashy than any of today's. The music is starting to lose its charm after being used every time for these kind of scenes; and this time, I felt the visuals couldn't match the climax of this battle =/

    Still, SAO remains an interesting show to watch on my Saturdays. Even if shallow, it has a mix of everything: priceless slice-of-like in a fantasy setting, moral and human issues, action, drama, scenery. Who doesn't like that?!

    I also wanted to talk about the Dantalian no Shoka OVA Anon mentioned first…Since I don't know whether you'll be making a post for that Enzo, I gotta ask: what's your take on it? I haven't watched it yet, mainly because I kept reading how it all feels like a big prologue, where the story isn't fleshed out. Has one short OVA changed that? Is it a must-see now? In most case, no OVA could do that for an entire series, but I think you have the necessary ingredients to consider this a special series (some gorgeous shots for an anime, GAINAX production, story with potential). Even if a brief line, I'd really appreciate it.

    And not just Enzo–what did YOU feel?

  9. I'll be blogging the Dantalian OVA, probably next week. Haven't had time to watch it yet.

  10. J

    Nice, thanks for the info.

  11. A

    Cheap ass boss dies and doesn't drop any good loot. They must be living in the Diablo 3 world.

  12. J

    You actually have a very good point. I'd normally say Blasphemy, but making the mental picture here and…I think that would have been very cool, maybe even better than the pace they chose for the series.

  13. A

    Kirito needs to up his mf lol

  14. L

    They're also playing Hard Core mode.

  15. A

    "I’d hoped she would be a little more battle-hardened, someone portrayed more as Kirito’s equal than his adoring (if tsundere) maiden."

    I suppose it makes sense to expect that as an anime-only viewer. Unfortunately that isn't the case.

    In the novel the first time Kirito meets Asuna, it's made obvious how emotionally weak she is, so it's not surprising that later on she becomes emotionally dependent on him (and you still haven't seen anything!)

    In the anime her backstory was removed, so it's easy to think she could be stronger and more of an equal to Kirito. Sadly, the anime has to follow the novel so….

  16. F

    You realize that that actually makes the whole thing with her even worse, right?

  17. A

    Now, let's everyone do the exercise of pretending this was indeed episode 3. We wonder why Asuna likes Kirito. We wonder who that girl was (Sachi) when Kirito woke up. we may wonder why solo players are still looked down upon. Don't you think it would have added an element of mystery that would have benefited the series? Now imagine they inserted those side stories and sprinkled them into the main story as backstory to fill-in. Wouldn't that be great? Now, no one would complain Sachi's death was forced or rushed because we'll by then already know what her purpose in the series would be (assuming of course that episode goes right after Kirito tells Asuna why he's been going solo all this time, which would have been a mystery to us instead of it being spelled out to us by the 2nd and 3rd episode). There would have been questions the viewers can ponder over, as opposed to this "see-where-it-goes" sort of mentality we now have week-in and week-out

  18. J

    You actually have a very good point. I'd normally say Blasphemy, but making the mental picture here and…I think that would have been very cool, maybe even better than the pace they chose for the series.

  19. A

    That's basically what the novels did, but I don't think the anime format is quite as friendly towards randomly jumping around and showing stories from the past. Multiple flashbacks that last for a full episode or more would of course be frowned upon and break up the pacing way too much. And of course most of them are irrelevant. The only one that would even really work as a flashback at all would be the Sachi incident because it's a traumatic past for our hero that explains his behavior. The others are, well, side stories. They may contain interesting details, but you don't actually need to see them to understand what's going on. So adding them at all can only hurt the pacing.

  20. K

    I'd have agree with Anon here.. its what happened in the LN.. the only side-story that could work in flashback style would be Sachi's story.. otherwise the rest are not neccessarily needed.

    Anon:
    What your opinion on:

    Yui's side-story? Not sure if spoiler tag works so not giving much away :S

  21. E

    This is episode 3.
    Pointless, wasting time, side stories:
    -Silica and her digital pet
    -Kirito playing Sherlock Holmes
    -Lizbeth and her one day fall in love
    He can simply introduce them as "girls I once helped" when they do appear on later arc.

  22. A

    And the most beautiful female player would be all over the Beater just because.

  23. K

    The side stories are intersting in how they did those first before the main story.. especially since in the LNs the side-stories are written afterwards.. although I do love the approach they make with integrating them with the plot, it makes them seem less disconnected 😛

    In this way, it’s possible that we might be touching on one of the important themes of the series – what if life is actually better inside SAO than outside?

    I love that you wrote that GE. It'll be addressed even more in the next few episodes assuming they don't cut anything out.. (I really hope they don't since that part was part of the main story)

    As for Asuna.. yeah I can get that watching the anime.. after I read the LNs (finished the Mother's Rosario Arc), it doesn't seem as much.. Anonymous 2 posts above mine says it perfectly.. parts of her background were simply cut out 😐

    What’s really interesting is that when he wakes up, it isn’t Asuna that Kirito sees initially, but the deceased Sachi from the Black Cats of the Full Moon.

    Sadly, GE, thats anime-original content. I think its more of the animation team trying to connect more of the side-stories and the main story together.. in the LN, at this point in time Sachi didn't "exist" as the side-story with her was written after the main story (sachi's story being in the Volume 2)

    Nonetheless, I do like how the animation team is trying to connect the side-stories with the main story 😀

  24. A

    Why sadly? I think it was a very interesting touch.

    I think that the anime isn't going for a 1:1 adaptation, it's trying to do more than what the LN did.

  25. K

    Oh I LIKE how they're incporating it.
    I meant sadly in the sense GE might be expecting developments from it.

  26. A

    I disagree.

    People would wonder why we skipped 2 years of the party. And then you would have a big problem with the side stories. When would you air them? After Vol 1? That would be like making Accel World's Okinawa arc 6 episodes long.

    I think the anime is doing a good job. IMO, it's even better than the source material.

    PD: "See-where-it-goes" is how reading SAO felt to me so far (Currently getting done with Vol4).

  27. A

    THIS COMMENT IS A REPLY TO "September 1, 2012 10:11 PM"

  28. J

    😛 See?! Same thing happened to me above.

  29. I've heard LN readers suggest that in their view, the side stories needn't have been adapted at all. As I haven't read it, I won't register an opinion on that one way or the other.

  30. A

    You'll be able to make an opinion when the anime gets done with Vol 1. At this pace, it'll be at mid season (EP 13-14).

    We can't have this discussion with anime watchers because it's impossible to keep it spoiler-free.

  31. Fair enough…

  32. A

    Starburst Stream didn't appear out of nowhere in Kirito's skill list. It was Dual Blades that did. Starburst Stream is a Dual Blades sword skill. It's unlocked when you get Dual Blades.

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