Sword Art Online: Episode 13

Recap: Kirito and Asuna are pulled away from married life to participate in the 75th Floor’s Boss fight.

Iro’s Thoughts:
After the couple makes friends with some of the lower level players who are lounging around the lower floors of Aincrad, Asuna manages to blow her cover while fighting off a boss from a fishing event. Not that it matters, because Kirito receives a message from Heathcliff just then, asking them to help fight the 75th Floor Boss. Kirito and Asuna are two of the strongest players, and thus feel an obligation to help clear the game, despite their reservations.

Everyone meets up for the dungeon, including Klein and Agil, and the fight ensues against the strongest boss yet: The Skull Reaper, who manages to actually be intimidating (unlike the last boss). It murders several players in one hit, and just messes everyone up until the group settles on a strategy: being the three most powerful players, Heathcliff, Kirito, and Asuna dart around and block the monster’s main scythes, while everyone else attacks from the side in a battle of attrition. Cue cliffhanger just at the fight reaches its climax.

They lay the TWU WUV really thick this episode, having several sequences where Asuna tearfully confesses how Kirito is the only thing in her life that has meaning and somesuch. While I’m okay with how the romance played out for the most part, I tend to have problems with this ludicrous level of devotion that some anime characters have. Risking your life for the one you love is one thing, but completely defining your own life through them and planning to commit suicide if they die? That isn’t exactly the best writing, and it goes beyond my suspension of disbelief.

At any rate, as you may have figured, we’ll be seeing an end to Part 1 soon. Since there wasn’t as much extraneous information in these bits, mostly focusing on the action, there weren’t any real cuts from the novels.

Lifesong’s Thoughts:
I love Asuna’s level of devotion, and that line about suicide; true or not saying that you will kill yourself if your significant other dies on their own is good motivation for them not to. My love for Asuna is probably greater than my love for SAO as a whole at this point.

Dragonzigg’s Thoughts:
This was a strong episode for Sword Art Online, and a good bounceback after what I felt was the slightly filler-ish Yui arc. There’s a pleasing sense of homeliness and relaxation in the fishing vignette that opens this episode, and though it’s pretty obvious they’re playing for time, it’s not an egregious offense, and we get some good character moments. Mind you, I’m not too fond of Asuna’s monologue to fisherman guy about how Kirito has made her life worth living – it’s kind of long winded and a little fawning, and while the sentiment that there’s a life worth living in this game is a good one, standing and just delivering it to camera is not the way to get it across.

Much more effective is Asuna and Kirito’s pre-battle conversation in the guild room, which has our normally invincible hero showing some welcome chinks in his armour, and Asuna being the one to step up and talk some sense into him. There’s a raw, emotional edge to this talk that makes it much more effective than the earlier lovey-dovey stuff, and while Asuna’s statement that she’d kill herself if she was left behind and Kirito dies is dumb, in case you haven’t noticed young people in love tend to do and say stupid things. The emotion here feels honest and unforced, and it’s one of the first times I’ve really bought into the Kirito/Asuna couple. It’s also good to see that they haven’t entirely forgotten about the real world consequences of their virtual imprisonment – it’s important that both the characters and the audience are reminded that this state of affairs can’t continue forever, and Asuna’s assertion that she wants to spend the rest of her *real* life with Kirito adds a nice emotional edge to it.

The big talking point of this episode though is bound to be the battle, and it’s easy to see why. After the damp squibs that have been the last couple of bosses, this one looks hella nasty, is really nice animated and clearly means business. It’s also pretty obvious that A-1 threw a ton of money at this scene, and as a result the animation is slick and the fight choreography top notch. It’s a lot of fun to see Heathcliff fighting front and centre alongside his men and to have Klein and Agil back in the fray with him. There’s even the shadow of shonen action shows lurking in the background as the characters tumble, roar and blast energy at their colossal foe. Cutting on a cliffhanger was a great ending to the episode, and for the first time in a while I genuinely can”t wait for the next one.

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