Sword Art Online: Episode 10

Recap: Kirito joins the Knights of Blood, and betrayal within the guild’s ranks strengthens his relationship with Asuna.

Iro’s Thoughts:
Kirito and Heathcliff begin their duel, the guild leader actually using a logical fighting style, something we haven’t seen from a single other person in this show. While Kirito flails about with his Dual Blades and does lots of fancy tricks, Heathcliff opts to block with his shield and counter with his sword like a normal person. Even so, our Sue-tagonist overwhelms the guild leader, but finds his final blow blocked when Heathcliff’s shield suddenly shifts position faster than should be possible.

Cut to Kirito dressed in ugly white clothing and being sent out on a teamwork exercise by his new guild superiors. One of the other members on said exercise is Kuradeel, the guy who was humiliated a couple weeks ago. He tricks Kirito and Godfree into drinking water tainted with paralysis poison, and proceeds to hack them up with his sword while they can’t move. Because somehow nobody saw this coming after seeing that guy’s face.

At any rate, Asuna rushes in and saves the day, but Kirito steals her kill. They make out on the spot where Godfree’s mutilated corpse would be if this weren’t a video game, and Asuna drags Kirito back to her house. Once there, they strip down and have cybersex off camera, because there’s nothing like seeing her guildmates murdered that makes Asuna hot. Kirito proposes in-game marriage, and they resolve to quit being front-liners and enjoy teenage married life down on the 22nd floor of Aincrad. Roll credits.

In the novels, there was another redshirt involved in the teamwork exercise, and he was summarily hacked to pieces by Kuradeel. Asuna explains that the game menu has an option called “Ethics Code Off” that allows players to have sex, and that the other girls in the guild told her about it. There’s also a Chapter 16.5 floating around somewhere that goes into explicit detail about their teenage sexual escapades.

Aqua’s Thoughts: I give up. Go on. Watch and enjoy Sword Art Online all you like. I will officially cease all my efforts to make you see the light. I am scared that the sheer insulting imprudence of it will cause me to hurl myself off a cliff. Throughout this past week, I have experienced psychosomatic stress triggered by even the slightest mention of this vomit-inducing juggernaut of sheer offensive ineptitude. The sheer anger and anguish that boils up within me at even the slightest mention of this pandemonic clusterfuck of blather has exceded my objective gripes with the show itself. My pitch-black hatred for this show has become synonymous with my seething disgust for the anime industry as a whole, my draconic intolerance for for every single cliché in its book and most of all, my outright refusal to be part of a braindead audience that will watch and buy show after show after show of this festering piffle that dares call itself entertainment.

Congratulations, Sword Art Online, you have made me hate anime.

Given that he had already killed my soul and my hopes for the anime medium as a whole, I was not even surprised that holier-than-thou Archbishop Kirito of Aincrad suddenly decided that people dying doesn’t really matter as long as he gets to go to bed with the prettiest girl in Aincrad. Henceforth, our lionhearted hero provides Kuradeel of some new holes in his body and then proceeds to explore Asuna’s. Once again, the man who lost his freedom as a superior solo-player loner prick to the least humiliating defeat in the history of warfare once again gets away with everything sad and lonely otaku who buy Silica hugging pillows could wish for.

What has been especially startling about this putrid shitstain of a show is that most of its oh-so-faithful fanbase nearly got a heart attack over Kirito and Asuna ‘finally’ getting together. Indeed! Rejoice! The designated couple that showed no signs whatsoever of any sort of genuine attraction towards each other finally gets to consumate their vapid teenaged lust for each other! After creepy underaged sex the moment they get home — because life-threatening experiences totally get you in heat — the “couple” decides to get married immediately. Hey, true love has no need for pacing! Asuna has masturbated to Kirito many times before so of course they belong together forever! True love, ladies and gentlemen!

Yes, I really do have to adress the infamous chapter 16.5 here. That one, Internet-exclusive chapter that makes Sword Art Online fans giggle like twelve-year-olds who hear the word “breasts”, describes the extremely awkward underage cybersex session between Kirito and Asuna in way too full detail and is almost unanimously treated like a little gift to fans you really should not mind.

Ha. Ha. Ha.

Writing porn about the characters you created is a ridiculous idea, especially as it serves to arouse your fans. If Reki Kawahara had any respect for Asuna, he would not reduce her to a husky, moaning porn star. There is a difference between romantic sex and whatever the hell that is supposed to be.

I don’t care if chapter 16.5 is “canon” or not, the fact that it exists is simply retarded. The author apparently thought that writing this dross was, in some way, necessary. This is not “fanservice”, this is this is providing the most wretched of your fans with fetish fodder to get off on. See, I don’t mind that Asuna and Kirito have sex. People have sex. However, I do mind that Sword Art Online reduces the notions of love, sex and marriage to wish-fulfilment hang-ups that can be shamelessly exploited. The fact that the “author” felt like he had to resort to this to please the “fans”, just tells me he is a desperate attention whore. If he felt as if it was an indespensible element of the “story” he had to tell… well, then he’s a paedophile. I just hope Asuna didn’t get cyber-pregnant, but honestly, at this point, nothing surprises me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, Sword Art Online does not make me sick. It just makes me sicker.

By the way, how was Kirito, a 14-year-old, even able to buy a game that allows you to have sex? Isn’t Japan insanely strict with censorship?

Lifesong’s Thoughts
I absolutely loved this episode. Out of all the GLORIO crew, I am the one with the largest amounts of MMO experience. My friends and I would measure our time spent in WoW not in minutes and hours, but in days and years. I think I clocked in 2+ years on WoW in total, and most of my buddies had more. I get this escapist fantasy, I can see where it is coming from, and am continually amazed by how spot-on Reki Kawahara’s ability to capture MMO culture in his stories is.

The story has really improved a ton with these past two episodes. Kirito is actually showing some weakness and this time Asuna saves the day. My heart melted a little when she promised to protect the near perfect Kirito. Both the duel that forced Kirito into the guild and his decision to run away from it with Asuna were excellent bits of storytelling I can find no fault with.

The big thing everyone seems to be caught up on after watching this episode is the implied sex. As I have been saying on skype since the episode aired: Sex, that totally unnatural thing people don’t actually do. Cybersex in MMOs is a real thing. It was pretty common for late night Ironforge to be filled with a bunch of 13 year old boys playing around with naked female avatars pretending to have sex with each other. Beware the role-playing servers where people hide away having cybersex below the tram.

Cybersex is an MMO is not really a new concept. Every MMO comes with the stipulation that the content rating may change with player interaction. Japan is no exception and Aincrad, which is forcing players to die in the real world when they die in the game, certainly isn’t worried about Japanese law.

There was no erotic scene in the anime. I don’t really understand why this is such a polarizing topic, but seeing how much of a stir this scene caused, I decided to go out and read the infamous chapter 16.5 for myself and see what all the fuss is about. I don’t really get it, it is just a nerdy sex scene with a bunch of MMO references. Something completely vanilla and harmless that I can only imagine a real prude taking issue with. I even thought it was a bit cute considering the content. I will be stowing it away to share with all my MMO buddies for the laughs it is sure to bring.

But hey, same as last week, lone sane man in an insane world I guess.

Dragonzigg’s Thoughts:
I have returned to SAO in an effort to try and weather this storm and find a middle ground between the….strong emotions that the show seems to have stirred. First, obvious disclaimer, though I’ve been reading these recaps, this is the first episode I’ve actually watched since the second one. Therefore take my opinions with a pinch of salt.

I actually rather enjoyed this episode, though it’s fair to say I had problems with it as well. Most of my enjoyment here stemmed from the Kirito/Asuna interaction which is cute and surprisingly understated, and their dialogue and scenes together are well written. I particularly liked the scene where Kirito moves to touch her but then can’t quite bring himself to and pulls back, it’s a lovely little gesture that encapsulates his nervousness perfectly. The action in this episode is also all in good fun, with the duel at the beginning really well framed and built up and Asuna’s heroic entrance to save Kirito also a bold bit of animation.

Elsewhere though some obvious problems remain. Kirito has faced accusations of being a boring, perfect protagonist throughout the run of the show so far, and though this episode clearly attempts to turn that on its head with his loss to the guild leader, the fact that his opponent is so obviously using some sort of cheat lessens the impact of the scene considerably. I’m also extremely disappointed the show felt it necessary to have him re-establish his badass credentials by saving Asuna from Kuradeel – it hugely undermines what should be an awesome scene for her and steals her thunder completely, making her look weak and incapable without him.  The issue of sexism has been a sore point in discussions of the show, but scenes like this certainly don’t help the perception that Asuna is a mere satellite character to Kirito. It makes me uneasy.

As for the sex…I have no issue with it. Guess what, when you put young people who are attracted to each other in a private room together, they’re probably going to have sex In fact, I sort of wish they had made the fact they did it much more obvious, just so the show could buck the trend of ‘characters who are in love but never actually do anything’ more explicitly. As it is,they sacrifice any actual intimacy for a cheap joke, which is understandable but probably a missed opportunity. To be clear, I’m not arguing for more explicit content (that would be highly inappropriate) but instead just a more obvious confirmation that the deed was done. I have nothing to say about the alleged chapter 16.5 because that is a book and I am writing about a TV show. I have not read it and have no plans to.

My other major issue with SAO remains the ‘Online’ part. While I can appreciate how a longtime MMO player like Life can love the setup so, to me the show would be far more effective if it were a straight fantasy. Seeing people die and dissolve into code just sort of takes me out of the experience, and this episode’s torture scenes would be far more shocking and visceral if we got actual blood and guts rather than digital cuts. Otherwise, SAO remains solid entertainment. It’s probably not something I’ll continue dedicating my time to, but it’s hardly a pox upon humanity. Steady as she goes there.

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7 thoughts on “Sword Art Online: Episode 10

  1. As an Anime Store owner, I have been absolutely enthralled with this series! Even though there isn’t yet any merchandise from the show that I can actually sell to customers, I still enthusiastically encourage everyone to watch it if they can, AND to read the light novels! I believe that SAO is the best Anime currently airing in Japan, and can only hope that all of the light novel material is eventually animated! Customers first recommended this show to me, and I have watched episodes 1-18 several times each! I firmly believe that this show is going to become a favorite of nearly everyone who actually watches it! Some episodes made me laugh, a few made me cry, and one of the latest ones succeeded in making me feel actual “Anger” towards the villain! I am not a critic, but a 53-year-old man whom makes his living by predicting what will or will not become popular with the buying public. Also, I have watched/read at least part of nearly every Anime produced since becoming a fan around 1991, when I first discovered “Japanimation” could be rented in Video Stores, and the first Anime I purchased was the “Oh My Goddess” VHS tape set. I purposefully have not named my store here, as this is meant to be a comment in praise of this amazing show – and NOT as an advertisement for my business!

  2. Jerry, with a description like that, I’m definitely going to check it out. I’ve been hearing great things about it for several weeks now. And, where is your store? In NYC, believe it or not, there are no anime stores. *tears*

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