Sword Art Online Ep. 16: We’re going back!

We’re going back in! But honestly, what’s even the appeal anymore? What made the original arc even potentially interesting in the first place was that people could actually die in real life if they die in-game. Had the story ended there, you might even argue that there was something poetic about it. What do I mean?

Kirito repeatedly chose the virtual world over the real world. This is particularly evident in the way he dragged his feet throughout the first arc when it came to clearing the floors. Likewise, he tried to convince Asuna to run away from it all so that they could live out the rest of their lives in some dinky hamlet. Unfortunately, Asuna is a real person. Throughout his journey, Kirito chose to avoid teaming up with people all because of that one unfortunate incident with his former guild. As such, he constantly relied upon SAO as a means to escapism.

Imagine, however, what Kirito’s leadership and uncanny understanding of the game could’ve entailed had he not constantly “lone wolf’d” it up. He could’ve helped others train, developed better teamwork, become stronger and faster, etc. How many more allies would Kirito have had by the end of the arc had he not decided to tread it all by his lonesome until he met Asuna? With more people to rely upon, might Kirito have set his hubris aside and not attacked Heathcliff head on? Kirito chose, however, to indulge in his escapist fantasies, and thus he lost Asuna. Lesson learned, story over — a poignant reminder that the simulacra can never give you true love.

But we can’t have that. Unfortunately, Kirito’s a Gary Stu, so now he’s going to embark on yet another grand adventure with hot babes. Sure enough, he’s going to save the hot babe by the end of it all, and the inevitability of this conclusion is just a bit depressing, isn’t it?

Anyway, without the threat of danger, Alfheim Online is simply another game, except one in which a single person gets to save his e-waifu. I suppose that is what’s at stake, but unfortunately, who gives a shit about Kirito and his e-waifu?


• Welp, here comes another show with a lecture. This time, we’re going to sit in a bar and world-build. Exciting. We’ll just give you scrolling shots of the world, ’cause that’s always fun to watch.

• “Supposedly, there’s a limit to how long you can fly, so you can’t do it forever.” Oh God, it’s Aion all over again. Aion was such a fucking bait-and-switch. Herp derp, an MMO where you can fly! But only in designated areas and only for a short period of time unless you dump tons and tons of kinah (the game’s form of currency) into flight potions. What a horrible decision. People played the game in the first place to fly, not to dink around on the ground 90% of the time.

• This is like anime’s The Human Centipede, huh? When the load gets too heavy, the bottom person falls off.

• Asuna is literally in a bird cage. SYMBOLISM GUYZ.

• Well, it’s a good thing Alfheim Online doesn’t have perma-death. Kirito’s cousin can’t even swallow correctly.

• You figure there’d be a mini-subplot where Kirito’s aunt tries to destroy the NerveGear headset because she doesn’t want her nephew to fall into the same trap again, but nah. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be any adult supervision in sight.

• We actually get to see a bit of the character selection process. It would’ve been interesting had Kirito decided to disguise himself, but nope. Gotta be Kirito — and he must not have been that famous, because nobody took his name — gotta play the race wearing all black clothing because I’m dark and mysterious!

• “Your character’s appearance will be decided at random!” = Look exactly the same as you did in SAO, except with spikier hair. I don’t think you know what the word ‘random’ means. Yes, I realize that AO simply merged Kirito’s appearance from the old game with the race he chose here.

• At least the first thing he checks is to see is if the logout option exists. I thought that was a nice touch. See, I don’t bash everything about the show!

• Everything from SAO carried over, including his stats. Great, Kirito doesn’t even have to try and he’s already a badass in this game. And also, magical loli out of nowhere! Have a tear-jerking reunion between a “father” and his “daughter,” two people who barely know each other, but they spent a few days eating spicy sandwiches, so they’re really close now.

• Yui exists to be yet another mouthpiece for the story’s exposition. Since the bartender dude wasn’t going to follow Kirito into Alfheim Online — plus, he isn’t a magical loli — it’s only fitting that someone else take the role of lecturing us on our new virtual world. I mean, the only other thing to do is to actually show us Alfheim Online in a compelling way that doesn’t require extraneous character dialogue, but that’d be too difficult!

• Dirty loli:

• Kirito physically strains himself when trying to delete a bunch of ?????? items. Hm.

• My reaction to the mahou shoujo transformation sequence?

• Dirty Kirito:

• “Even after SAO was cleared, Asuna never woke up in reality,” says the guy who willingly plunges himself into another virtual world after being trapped in one for two years. /snicker

I mean, he could try to inform the authorities that Asuna might be trapped in yet another game, but nah. SAO fans will just hand wave this off too: “No one will believe him! No proof! The evil guy can bribe people! We can’t possibly check to see if Asuna’s NerveGear might be transmitting info to some other video game, and investigate why this is so!”

• So then we meet Leafa fighting off a bunch of people. Her enemies corner her and one of them suggest that they kill her just because she’s a woman. MMO players are classy. Since death doesn’t really matter in AO — yes, I know there’s a death penalty but that isn’t the same as permadeath — this scene has no drama. Oh well, just die and respawn, right?

• I like how when the evil guy charges at Kirito, Leafa’s first reaction is to wince. Way to go, heroine.

• Since all his parameters carried over, Kirito is so awesome that he can just fling weaklings back. Man, that is lame. There’s no tension when the main character can just push the “I win” button. Why did the author decide to have the powers carry over? Kirito has a week to save his girlfriend, right? Imagine if he has to poopsock against time to become strong enough to save her, but he only barely manages to accomplish this. At least there’d be some suspense. You could even contrast this with the way Kirito dragged his feet in SAO, which took two damn years. All of a sudden, world-building is out the door. It’s a race against the clock!

Or imagine that Kirito suddenly has to recruit a lot of people to help him because he’s no longer the strongest badass ever. With just a week to save Asuna, he doesn’t have the time to be a Gary Stu. This would contrast his new quest with his lone wolf experiences in SAO. At least there’d be some form of character growth. Where’s the excitement if you’re just going to cheat code your way through everything?

40 thoughts on “Sword Art Online Ep. 16: We’re going back!

  1. Chris R

    ““Even after SAO was cleared, Asuna never woke up in reality,” says the guy who willingly plunges himself into another virtual world after being trapped in one for two years. /snicker”

    That made me snarf yo!

  2. Algent

    “Kirito physically strains himself when trying to delete a bunch of ?????? items. Hm.”

    Making a nerd delete all the stuff he accumulated over 2years >.< .

    "Here let me use my old Nerve Gear that I got to keep at home even though it almost killed me one time."

    Fairy Dance is the worse arc in SAO anyway <_<. They should have ended with him waking up after SAO.

    1. E Minor Post author

      Making a nerd delete all the stuff he accumulated over 2years >.< .

      I consider myself a nerd. I’ve never run into this problem.

  3. Marow


    As for this episode, or arc in general, I have to say I’m mildly positive to it. I don’t know why. Tell me?

  4. elior1

    @e minor he deleated all this ??? items becouse like yui said to him in this episode all his weapons and objects from sao was lost so no suprise he did it.also i didnt read the novel but you also have a feeling this blond girl in the end is his sister?

    1. E Minor Post author

      he deleated all this ??? items becouse like yui said to him in this episode all his weapons and objects from sao was lost so no suprise he did it

      I wasn’t questioning why he did it. I’m questioning why he finds it so difficult to delete items he can’t even identify.

      i didnt read the novel but you also have a feeling this blond girl in the end is his sister?

      I think we all know this by now.

  5. Wait, wut.

    I’m horrible with details, so refresh me on this; the reason why Asuna didn’t permanently lose her mind like the other players who ‘died’ in SAO after her super-implausible sacrifice, was because the creepy dude kept her alive long enough to try marry her IRL? Because when the season started, I wondered if the game data from the other players who met their end was also transferred to Alfheim Online. I think I’m still confused about it.

  6. Ian Caronia

    An old rule of of fiction is “The more powerful the character, the more vulnerable/damaged the character must be”. It’s to off-set the fact that they can punch holes through cement and run at speeds of mk5. Either make them emotionally vulnerable, or make them vulnerable in the sense that those they have with them are very easy to take down.
    -Kirito is powerful, but so is the loli and I’ll bet this new girl is too (when she isn’t being made into a distressed damsel for the sake of adding another “saved-a-bitch” notch to Kirito’s belt), There’s no way to give this story any palpable tension unless you either depower them (which almost always feels contrived and would here, too) or make the villain that much MORE powerful, which will only start a one-upmanship between the author and themselves that will grow increasingly comical as MORE power is revealed between the opposing sides (i.e. Dragon Ball Z).
    –You could say the “week to save her” bit is where the tension lies, but where’s the doubt he’s capable of such a feat when he’s flinging dudes like Superanime?

    Good review as usual, mate. Can’t believe how this anime keeps letting interesting plot turns just slip from it’s grasp. It’s like the entire series is a baby’s hand trying to grab a wet marble.
    “Oh, maybe he’s got it this time! Maybe he’s going to- Oh! He’s got it in his hand! He’s got it in his-!
    …Nevermind. Slipped out again. Now he’s just crying and shitting himself.”

    1. E Minor Post author

      -Kirito is powerful, but so is the loli and I’ll bet this new girl is too

      Even if the girl’s weak, it doesn’t matter because the only thing at stake is saving Asuna. The same goes with any loved ones near him. After all, this is really just a game. Everyone else can die a billion times and just respawn. So unless a fight pertains whatsoever to saving Asuna, the outcome doesn’t matter. I just have no idea why the narrative was allowed to go down this braindead direction.

      It’s like the entire series is a baby’s hand trying to grab a wet marble.

      This is the first time I’ve heard this analogy.

      1. Stef

        You caught me!

        You could say that escapism is used to draw in more people, which makes more money, which is what capitalism is about. Yay for meaningful references!

  7. alsozara

    I actually picked this up again from ep 14 because it sounded too hilariously bad to miss. Eps 14 and 15 did not disappoint, but now it looks like it’s just going to be boringly bad.

    Pretty much agreed with everything you said except the part about deleting the items. After two years in a game where your gear can mean the difference between life and death, I can understand having some aversion to dumping them, even if they’re no longer of any use.

    1. E Minor Post author

      It’s not that the items had no use. It’s that he can’t even identify them. I have no problem holding onto mementos. I’m sure we all have such items. It’s just when they’re a bunch of ????, then what’s the point?

      1. alsozara

        Even if he doesn’t know which one is which, he still knows what the items are he is deleting and how they helped him in SAO. It’s illogical, but I can imagine a part of myself entertaining what might happen if I were again stuck in SAO after deleting all my items, and yes, there’s the memento factor as well. It rung true for me, but I have very little MMO experience, so maybe that’s why.

        1. E Minor Post author

          Well, the show had fifteen previous episodes to establish how important those items were, but all we saw was that he had two awesome swords and a superawesomegrimdark trench coat that he looted off of the very first raid boss. So y’know, maybe this scene could’ve been touching, but I’m adamant in my belief that SAO bungled the opportunity.

        2. alsozara

          Oh, not trying to say it was well executed or anything like. Just saying that in the general sense, hesitation in that situation seems reasonable and perfectly human. Since I dropped the show after ep 3 and picked it up again at 14, eps 4-13 have been left largely up to your posts and my imagination, which may well be why it’s easier for me to accept.

      2. Anonymous

        A1 did NOT give us a peek into his internal thought processes. Which I recalled the Novel did, comprehensively. So it’s more or less the same problem dogging this adaptation: alot of internal monologue is cut out, and hence alot of scenes loose their impact.

  8. Arbee

    To be honest, I kind of want to see Kirito rely on other people’s skills to save Asuna (and maybe other people who were trapped in the game as well, maybe give the other players reasons to save their friends too?) while improving himself and actually caring for his other friends.

    But Since SAO’s stats and skills will be carried over and shtick to ALO… We get to see Asuna’s magic cooking skills again? We get to see Kirito play god mode on them moral noobs? O, glorious… -_-

    1. E Minor Post author

      Asuna’s trapped so I don’t think she can do too much cooking. But I know a certain “imouto” who can fill the empty space in the kitchen! What else is she going to do? Be as awesome as Kirito? Hah.

      1. Arbee

        Hey, since she’s gonna be an in-game fiance might as well sharpen her leet cooking skillz XD “Imouto” chickie on the other hand would simply be stroking Kirito’s ego from start to end, I bet. XD

  9. etery-chan

    Asuna the e-waifu.
    I don’t remember them having sex in real life, up until the latest volume of the light novel.
    Kirito doesn’t the guts to ask for it. Kirito the virign (physically).
    To think he has a a pretty good chance to ‘do’ his cousin too…

  10. Anonymous

    As soon as I saw Yui, I said to myself “Fuck…I’m dropping this shit”. That was the last straw for me…as an above commenter said, the last few episodes were at least good for some unintentional comedy, but there was no such thing this week. Instead I shed tears of frustration due to Yui’s reappearance.

  11. Owl

    In addition to Kirito’s ridiculous decision to pick the race that wears all black, I can’t take him seriously with those ears. Or anyone else in the game for that matter. Oh well, it’s not like I was treating this show with credibility in the first place.

    By the way, loved the Community clip!

  12. Nanaka

    I don’t think it will come as a surprised, but I have already read the entire series, and from this arc onwards all the till the currently ongoing story it’s just Kirito being OP and bashing through everything. It just gets worst and worst. Even more than how the typical shounens are.

    1. E Minor Post author

      So basically, the author had a good idea for one story, found out that people really liked it, then started milking the franchise for all it’s worth.

  13. mochirochi

    I’m still wondering why his aunt allowed him to keep the Nerve Gear in the house. After everything that happened, you’d think she’d destroy the system and ban all games, but nope. She let’s him keep it.

  14. noidexe

    SAO was a huge dissapointment to me, I could’ve been a much better story. There is one good thing about SAO, though: googling ‘SAO sucks’ helped me find this site. Much of what I consider really good anime is in your top anime list, E Minor, so I hope I’ll enjoy the rest of the list.
    Finding good anime this days is really hard.


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