Sword Art Online Ep. 25: The longer, the better!

SAO 2506

Sad Gary Stu in the snow.

Plot summary: The story ends long before the episode ends. There’s probably going to be a money-grubbing sequel.

Notes:

• Some pretty janky animation to open the last episode of the series. C’mon A-1 Pictures, step your game up.

• I think we can sit here and laugh at the idea that Kirito fights Sugou yet again, but there is actually a lot of potential thematic relevance to the scene that is simply not and will never be realized. The scene doesn’t succeed because the show fails to build up to it in a proper way. At first, the brawl strikes you as rather redundant. I mean, didn’t these two just fight last week? What’s the point of fighting again but in the real world? There is a point, but the story just didn’t make it.

SAO 2507

After three years of blogging, I feel as though I tend to repeat myself, but some things are worth mentioning again. And what is that thing I am referring to? Battles are meaningful when they become an externalization of the conflict within the character(s). So how could this have played out in SAO? Ask yourself why Kirito spares Sugou’s life? Is it because it’d be murder? Is it because it’s the wrong thing to do? Is it because he’s so close to Asuna that he shouldn’t risk it? Yes, these answers are all plausible, but in the end, his character motivations are rather vague. As such, the climactic moment is anything but. The rising crescendo of the soundtrack plus the flashbacks of Asuna’s torture should serve as an excellent juxtaposition against Kirito’s mercy, but because his actions here are born out of such vague motivations, the contrast ends up being kind of… lame. And this is because Kirito lacks a truly compelling character arc.

Let’s say at the beginning of Kirito’s journey, he had been this wide-eyed kid who simply wanted to live out his fantasies in SAO. Because of his inability to protect his guildmates, however, he loses his innocence. He becomes withdrawn, a lone wolf, a mercenary who shows no mercy towards anyone he deems evil, etc. But then he meets Asuna, and slowly changes for the better… but not enough. His hubris leads to her “death,” but he learns that she is still alive. She’s just trapped. He goes and save her in ALO, but almost loses himself again to his anger, hubris, what have you. He has an emotional breakdown within the game (this is not a stretch because this sorta happened last week after he saved Asuna), then finally… we have this duel against Sugou in real life. Not in a game, but in real life where it actually counts. And this is where Kirito’s character arc culminates in his final decision to let go. Let go of everything: his anger, his desire to be the hero, etc. He spares Sugou and allows justice to do its job.

Unfortunately, we have the ending, but we don’t really have the body to support it. Some of the things I mentioned above did happen, but not in the way that really defines Kirito’s character. Yeah, his guildmates did die, and it did lead Kirito to lone wolf it up for a while, but the moment didn’t really fundamentally change his character. His personality didn’t change. The way he dealt with people didn’t really change. And this is what I mean: things happened throughout the series, but they didn’t feel impactful. Now, some of you light novel readers will probably chime in and go “It was more developed in the novels!” That’s fine. I don’t care though because I’m only judging the anime. And in the anime, Kirito’s character is poorly developed.

SAO 2508

If you look back at Kirito’s journey, it’s really just a mish-mash of adventures that don’t really add up to anything. Even marrying Asuna didn’t really change Kirito all that much. Oh, he tells us that he’s learned people are important even if you don’t know them (or something akin to that), but he’s always been a nice, bland shounen hero throughout the series, so it’s hard to say how much he’s gained anything from his experiences. So when we get to the pivotal scene between him and Sugou, the tension just sort of deflates because it doesn’t feel as though Kirito has reached any sort of destination within himself. It’s just like, “Okay, I won’t kill this guy because… yeah.”

• Instead, we’ll have bullshit like Kirito hearing Yui’s voice in the real world. Yep, ’cause that’s important. That’s the main flaw of the show. It’s unwilling to develop anything. It just engages in superfluous nonsense in an attempt to shock and awe its audience with implied depth.

• I don’t suppose there’s much security at a hospital if a guy can just saunter in and visit any of the patients. Then again, he did just engage in a knife fight with some dude in the parking lot.

• Kirito: “The true final battle just finished.” Oh come on. Could you sound any lamer?

• More superfluous nonsense:

SAO 2501

• Sandwich-maker in game, sandwich-maker in real life:

SAO 2502

• Kirito: “…everyone at this school was an SAO player.” I was about to say, “Gee, there are a lot of guys in Kirito’s class,” but hey, this makes sense. ;v

• “We totally e-fucked, but holding hands in real life is so hazukashii, ne~~~~”

• This is one boring-as-hell epilogue. Who cares about Asuna’s dad? Who cares what happened to Sugou? It’s all just superfluous details. Characters we haven’t seen in more than a month are suddenly dragged out of the closet for some false sense of finality despite the fact that they contributed little to the narrative in the first place.

• This… this is the final episode:

SAO 2503

A whole bunch of dull exposition that only hardcore fans of the series would give a damn about. What they should’ve done was package Kirito’s reunion with Asuna at the hospital into last week’s episode, and turn all of this boring stuff into a special DVD-only OVA. But I guess this is the best way to advertise a sequel. Just make everyone watch it.

• Then some incestuous vibes to round things out. Dancing cousins in the clouds:

SAO 2504

Fantastic.

• It never ends:

SAO 2505

It’s like The Lord of the MMOs: The Return of the Gary Stu. Look Frodo Kirito, look who’s come to see you!

• Asuna must have been watching when Kirito was e-dancing with his cousin. Talk about awkward. Also, what’s with the new hair color?

• But finally, it ends… wait, it’s over?!

Advertisements

25 thoughts on “Sword Art Online Ep. 25: The longer, the better!”

  1. “There’s probably going to be a money-grubbing sequel.”
    You poor, hopeful soul, of course there’s going to be one.

    I’m confused about the dialogue in the cafeteria. What did they mean by saying they’d let Asuna and Stu be lovey-dovey for a month? Since when do they dictate how the two live their romance? And what are they going to do when the month ends, pathetically interrupt them and cling to him?

    For about two seconds it looked like there would be the birth of an interesting storyline: Sugu being left out…but somehow all it took was dancing for her to be ok again.

    1. This is harem. After one month, they will sneak into his bed, enter the bathroom while he’s in there, compete to make lunch for him. :-P Oh, forget it. It’s not unusual for Reki to shove his own foreshadowing under the gutter.

    2. What did they mean by saying they’d let Asuna and Stu be lovey-dovey for a month?

      Eh, standard anime bullshit.

      And what are they going to do when the month ends, pathetically interrupt them and cling to him?

      Standard anime bullshit.

      Sugu being left out…but somehow all it took was dancing for her to be ok again.

      The fact that she can recover so quickly from it means it probably didn’t mean a whole lot to her anyway.

  2. Considering how Asuna’s PVC figure is out of reservation the very same day it was put on pre-order status. It will not take long for a second season, sadly…

    1. Good thing they changed her hair color. Now they can release a new figurine with the new hair color! Gotta collect them all!

      1. There should be a whole lot of variations for those money grubbing companies:
        -Asuna with her red and white uniform
        -Asuna with her ugly yellow sweater
        -Asuna with her nightwear <– can be taken off
        -Asuna with her Titania costume <– can be ripped off
        -Asuna in her Undine form
        more incoming…

  3. Remember how Asuna couldn’t hear him at the end. I was thinking there could be a twist where she’d be deaf or something in real life.

    Also the last picture of the drab VR headset, following the unphotogenic kiss at the hospital was really….. meh. You’d think they’d finish with a grand panning splash screen of a fantastic world…

    1. Remember how Asuna couldn’t hear him at the end. I was thinking there could be a twist where she’d be deaf or something in real life.

      Sorry, but the good guys win unconditionally.

  4. Iunno about Asuna’s hair color. But she is playing ALO now or something as an Undine. STILL, has she not been traumatized by playing SAO and being trapped in the ALO game about to be either NTR’d or mind-controlled AT ALL? Also, about 2 1/2 years in a coma and yet she gets up looking like she just slept. SAO cannot handle realism, fo sho.

    Also, the 1-month thing was some side story. Apparently, its to show how totally “perfect” Kirito and Asuna are together, even by the other harem ladies.

    Also, Kirito sparing Sugou life IRL but totally killing him In ALO just elevates my proof that Kirito only does this to boosts some e-peen and badass in-game I mean, the killing of Oberon in ALO probably only existed because Asuna is watching in the sidelines and she was violated by Sugou or whatever. Who the heck was there when they fight against Sugou?

    Oh yeah, since Kirito is the first dude who climbed the World Tree won’t he became Alf and get flights forevers? And he has GM skills now because of “national hero” Kayaba… So… Did did he give his bragees and fans (no way in hell I am calling whoever Kirito meets and brags to as “friends”) unlimited flight as well? What the fuck is the World Seed anyway and god oh god SAO just gave me the most powerful brain crash of late.

    But nowits finally over and I just wanna say, you are simply a terrible anime, SAO.

    1. SAO cannot handle realism, fo sho.

      Well, that doesn’t bother me too much.

      Also, the 1-month thing was some side story.

      Huh?

      Oh yeah, since Kirito is the first dude who climbed the World Tree won’t he became Alf and get flights forevers?

      The quest was all a lie!

      And he has GM skills now because of “national hero” Kayaba…

      Well, remember that ALO originally shut down. Using the OMGWORLDSEED, they can create multiple worlds and I guess they made a new ALO/SAO hybrid where Kirito isn’t god. He even admits it himself that he’s low level now and totally needs his cousin to tag along. Asuna makes the sandwiches, but someone’s gotta carry the beverages.

      What the fuck is the World Seed anyway and god oh god SAO just gave me the most powerful brain crash of late.

      Just some open source MMO maker thingamajig that they tacked the seed metaphor onto.

  5. Oh come on, admit it: You’ll miss this one a bit.
    I know I will. This level of stupid is pure joy to rip into. When the romances were growing dull, SAO was there to suck. When BTOOOM! offended our senses, SAO was there to brighten our day with nonsense and stupidity.

    Salute, SAO. You sucked well.
    …No, but really, this was a great series to make fun of. Not going to miss it, but still was a good ride.

    1. You’ll miss this one a bit.

      I actually didn’t want to blog this episode. I just knew it’d be a drag to write about. Regardless of whether or not I liked the show — and I didn’t — I still would have believed that last week’s events felt more like a proper conclusion to the story than the tension-less finale we actually got.

  6. I’m not going to miss it because I’m 1000% sure it’s not going to be gone. Maybe for now, but I doubt they’d miss the opportunity to ride this kind of wave of popularity. It amazes me how many people I hear like this for what it is. I mean I definitely liked what it could’ve been, if it had characters that were remotely interesting. I mean there’s only so much you can do with someone who wins all the time. Even though good always wins somehow, this didn’t even try to make it a fight. Just make the bad guy despicable (as possible based on certain standards) and make the hero the one-dimensional winner at every aspect of life.

    1. I’m not going to miss it because I’m 1000% sure it’s not going to be gone.

      Oh of course not. I’ll be amazed if this doesn’t spawn a video gam–… oh nevermind, apparently there is a video game for it! What else can I expect from dear ol’ capitalism!

  7. If there is one thing 2012 is going to be remembered for in terms of anime, it’ll definitely be the year when anime vieweres were hypnotized all year long by the trainwreck known as Sword Art Online.

    I really hope that this show doesn’t become entry level material for anime viewers 10-20 years from now. As an Asian male born in the late 1980s, I began anime as a teen with shows like Doraemon, Dragon Ball, Inuyasha, Sailor Moon, Astro Boy, Ghibli material and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

    I hope that youngsters in the 2020s or 2030s won’t have to start off with this shit.

    I’m so glad it’s over. It’s too bad, though, that a season two is very likely.

    1. Maybe it will fondly remembered as a classic? Now I would rage more over the long term. I mean the anime that people like the most usually are the ones that they first watch as children. As the years go on, the genre shifts and people babble about the “Good O’ Days” out of nostalgia of their childhood, they only remember the good things and forgot all the bad. For example, the shounen materials of the past are highly regarded such as Dragon Ball or Yuyu Hakusho, even though they have many tropes and flaws in common with modern shounen. Dragon Ball is the legend of anime because it is the show that shapes the genre, and not Fairy Tail or One Piece (yet). I predict that FT and OP might be strong enough to achieve this status one day given enough time. Sword Art Online being explosively popular can be a catalyst to facilitate its becoming a “classic.”

      I hope I am wrong though :(

      1. I do not think that you have to worry about that. Twilight was explosively popular but i don’t think that most people will remember it as a classic.

    2. I really hope that this show doesn’t become entry level material for anime viewers 10-20 years from now. As an Asian male born in the late 1980s, I began anime as a teen with shows like Doraemon, Dragon Ball, Inuyasha, Sailor Moon, Astro Boy, Ghibli material and Neon Genesis Evangelion.

      Other than NGE on your list, all those other series are not only all-age appropriate, you don’t really need to be an anime fan to appreciate something like Ghibli. I just don’t see that sort of universal appeal in SAO. Its likeability isn’t transcendent beyond its genre. It is so firmly an anime thing, which — as much as some of its fans might not want to admit it — is still relatively niche as far as fandoms are concerned. Hell, what am I saying? Some anime fans are probably proud of the fact that anime fandom remains exclusive as possible.

  8. Now, some of you light novel readers will probably chime in and go “It was more developed in the novels!”

    It wasn’t. And the development that happens later isn’t even worth being called “development”.

  9. IMHO the whole ALO is just a side story, as if episodes about Sachi, Yui, Liz, Silica, Golden Apple, and first two episodes. you can just ignore them.

  10. “We totally e-fucked, but holding hands in real life is so hazukashii, ne~~~~”

    This totally made me lol. I liked the series when I first watched it earlier this year, but when I thought about it afterwards, I could’t help being disturbingly unsatisfied with the fact that I enjoyed it. I had to go rewatch “Welcome to the NHK” just to feel better about myself.

  11. “We totally e-fucked, but holding hands in real life is so hazukashii, ne~~~~”

    This totally made me lol. I actually liked the series when I first watched it, but after it was over, I started feeling bad for liking it… I had to re-watch “Welcome to the NHK” just to feel better about myself.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s