And we’re back with more SAO action! Hey, don’t laugh! There’s going to be some action in this week’s episode! Right after we do some talking, but there’s going to be some action, I swear!
— I thought you guys said GGO was more like a Western shooter. So what am I doing here, watching some girl take aim at a giant armadillo in an underground dungeon? I assure you, I’ve never shot at a giant armadillo in any MMOFPS.
— Oh hey, the giant armadillo can shoot out fire from its tail. How very JRPG-esque.
— Eventually, Sinon takes careful aim, and hits the tiny weak spot on the giant armadillo’s head. A lot of smoke appears, then she takes careful aim again and hits the weak spot again. Whoops, did I say careful aim? I meant the monster just stood there, waiting to be killed. If the animators had any creativity whatsoever, the giant armadillo could’ve been on the run, passing behind several visual obstructions. The girl would then have to nail the tiny weak spot as it is moving. That would have been impressive, showing us what a crackshot she is. Would this have been enough to make the scene interesting? Probably not, but it’d at least show off Sinon’s skills. Instead, the monster sat in one place, it roared a lot, then it died. RIP.
— We’re not even in an interesting set-piece or anything like that. It’s literally just a grey, concrete room with grey, concrete pillars — pillars that the giant armadillo had decided not to hide behind. C’mon, man, at least try to make the MMO look exciting. What’s even sadder is that this scene is supposed to explain how Sinon came to possess her extremely rare gun, the Ultima Ratio Hecate II. A tense, life-threatening battle? Nope, let me just sit in one place and practically shoot fish in a barrel.
— The OP starts off with Kirito and Asuna having a nice, leisurely chat, but Kirito then looks away with that, “Oh god, I didn’t know real dates with real women would be like this… I NEED TO GO BACK. HELP ME, GIRL WHO JUST PASSED BY.”
— Is there any doubt that the girl is none other than Sinon from GGO? Naturally, the OP then cuts to her sitting on some a swing as ghostly figures of her in-game avatar surrounds her. Hint: she’s Sinon, guys! Have you made the connection yet? Let me spell it out even further!
— Sure enough, we see a shot of Sinon being dragged underwater by some purple tentacles. That’s… that’s cool.
— You’re probably like, “If Kirito and Sinon are going to have all of the fun action, what is the rest of his harem going to do? Oh, they’re going to be right here, sitting and watching. Watching what? Probably Kirito. Even though two of these girls had been great warriors in the previous game, and another girl was a master blacksmith, ain’t nothing for them to do now but sit there and watch.
— Take a look at Asuna in particular, though. Uguu, at first it looks like I’m slightly annoyed, but my true feelings eventually bubble to the surface… I-I hope he’s okay.
— Meanwhile, a door opens and Kirito bursts through it, spinning around like top because he’s that guy who just has to bring a sword to a gunfight.
“Yo, I’ll just shoot you in the head–…”
“NUH-UH YOU CAN’T MY SWORD CAN BLOCK YOUR BULLETS.”
“Uh, is this a JRPG that bends the rules, or a rigorous PVP game with a thriving e-sports scene, so as a result, bullets are too fast for you to block like some fantasy movie–”
“NUH-UH I MAXED OUT AGILITY SO I CAN BLOCK EVEN MACHINE GUN FIRE.”
Before anyone brings up Star Wars, it is stupid to block laser shots with your lightsabers. You know what makes up for it? Everything else Star Wars brings to the table. Plus, it’d be one thing if there were actually other people in the GGO universe who also used swords. But unfortunately, our hero has to be special, so as a result, he’s going to be swinging a glowing stick around when everyone else is stuck with guns. So basically, what this tells me is that the creators of GGO programmed into their game the ability to use swords and sword-like weapons, but every single player had ignored it until now. If you’ve ever played an MMO — any MMO for that matter — you’d know how much that makes no sense. If Kirito’s using a sword because it’s just so cool to be a sword-wielding top, I guarantee you a bunch of other idiots have thought to do the same as well. The only MMO stereotype that comes even close to being just as prevalent is a girl playing the pet class, but we already saw an example of that in the first season.
— After the OP, we cut to some ugly dudes camping in one place, hoping to gank a group of PVE players that will be passing through the area. It’s really just a continuation of a scene from the end of last week’s episode. In any case, a commenter in last week’s post has it right: why on earth is everyone playing as a male avatar in a game that allows you to have female characters? In what universe do MMO players choose to play as ugly men who look like this:
I’m not saying that male avatars don’t exist. I’m not saying that every male avatar out there looks attractive either. But the ratio of everyone to Kirito’s harem that you see here is ridiculous.
— The anime has the guy in the cowboy hat painstakingly explain to his buddy — and therefore the audience — how easy this gank will be because PVE players are total noobs. Christ, just show us the actual battle. After last week’s talkfest, and the only action thus far being a girl shooting away at a giant, immobile armadillo, you may as well call this Talking Art Online.
— Honestly, Sinon looks like Kirito, except the difference is that she has teal-colored hair.
— Well, the anime gets one thing right, and that’s male avatars will hit on female avatars without even knowing whether or not they’re talking to a real girl. There are so few girls in this universe, however, that you may as well assume every single female avatar you see is being played by a girl. Except our hero, of course. Boy, will it be awkward when people try to hit on Kirito!
— Now they’re discussing who to target first. I’ve played my share of PVP games. No one really sits around and plans this shit out tactically for minutes and minutes on end. SAO tries to make it seem like some hardcore, tactical battle, but c’mon, these are still just regular people playing a game. It’s the same problem as in the first season. Why are all the characters guys and ugly, old guys at that? And why do none of them act like actual gamers playing a game? Because the universe behaves like an MMO when it’s convenient, and like a generic action/fantasy anime when it’s not. Of course, it was worse in SAO when a guild was literally comprised of nothing but tall, muscled men. That was, after all, an MMO in which people had to play as an in-game avatar that matched what they looked in the real world.
— Sinon’s party members say they’re in position. Oh, trust me, the camera is definitely in position:
But yes, we saw this last week, so it’s not even a new shot. It’s the same scene, so why not see it again! Get used to it, because we’re going to be staring at that crotch all season long.
— Sure enough, the cloaked figure is not completely useless despite Dyne’s foolish assertions. He’s actually carrying a minigun on him, and he starts wrecking Sinon’s party with it. Not only that, he smiled! Gasp! Smiling? On the battlefield? Sinon wonders, “Does that mean he’s strong enough to smile…” It’s a fucking game, you asshole. Maybe it’s fun to smile, because you’re playing a game! But no, I get it. This is like srz bizness, and therefore, GGO players don’t smile at all! Again, we’re in an MMO when it’s convenient, and in a generic action/fantasy anime when it’s not. Therefore, these gamers are playing a game that makes them shit-scared.
— Dyne tells the rest of them to not allow the minigun guy to get any closer. According to Sinon, however, he has a movement penalty because the minigun is so heavy. If she knows that, then I’m sure others would know it too. So… why not flank behind the slow moving target and nail him in the back? Oh right, only the main character and his harems would be smart enough to think on the fly. That’s why we spent so much time on these throwaway characters discussing pre-battle strategy.
— Even though Sinon’s a sniper, she’s going to run headfirst into a hail of gunfire. It’s okay. She too has maxed out her agility. So much so that she can do a Matrix-esque leap over a bunch of shots from the minigun:
— Who’s the guy with the minigun? He’s none other than the infamous Behemoth himself. Yes, if you’re a throwaway character in GGO, your name perfectly describes the type of player you’d be. Behemoth? Must be a big, tall fella with a giant, fuck-off gun.
— After Sinon manages to catch up with the rest of her group, the characters are now sitting there, planning out their next course of action. Meanwhile, the enemy’s just… just…? Touching themselves, I guess. No, no, it’s okay. You guys just take your pretty, little time coming up with a battle strategy that’ll allow you guys to beat us. It’s not like we have you cornered or anything with our superior firepower.
— Why is Dyne about to cry? He’s literally sounds like he’s about to bubble. Again, it’s just a fucking game. I could understand it if this was SAO, i.e. dying in-game meant dying in real life. But this is literally just a game. This is literally just a potentially failed gank. Calm your tits and just play the game. The guy then says, “I’d rather log out then give them a victory.” That makes sense. No, really, it does. He’d just be rage-quitting, which is a common thing in online games. But that’s the thing. He should be rage-quitting. Instead, it’s more like a sob-quitting?
— Dyne then says, “It’s just a game… Don’t take it so seriously!” Uh…
— Wow, I don’t know if I want a girl like this in my harem. By the way, they’re still talking. What are the enemies even doing? Who knoooooowsss~
— Eventually, Dyne sacrifices his life in order to toss a grenade, which the enemies somehow fail to notice. Um… guy with a giant minigun has a movement penalty. Dyne had grenades all along. Yeah… can we get a new party leader instead? Anyway, the resulting explosion creates a giant cloud of dust, which allows Sinon to run up a tall-ass building in the hopes of sniping Behemoth. Why couldn’t she do this before? Who knows?
— Still, Behemoth sees her and manages to shoot off one of her legs. Therefore, we now see the girl twirling through the air as a temporary paraplegic. Y’see, she hopes to snipe him as she’s falling. It’s her last ditch effort! I had no idea you could twirl so fucking much in midair.
— So what now? She’s going to take fall damage and die anyway, right? Naw, of course not. The recoil from her sniper rifle will allow her to roll safely when she lands! What a beast!
— Afterwards, Sinon wakes up in the real world, and she kind of… shudders? Like I’ve said in the comments section last week, the girl apparently has a complex about guns in real life. Therefore, she wants to get stronger so she can actually smile on the battlefield. What a deep character study, huh?
— Elsewhere, Kirito’s haremettes are still playing their silly fantasy MMO… y’know, the one where a young, loli-ish character like Silica is constantly being beset by tentacles:
Silica tells the monster she’s not the weak character she used to be, so of course, the monster immediately powers up to prove her wrong. Yes, actually, you are the same shitty character you used to be. As a result, she’s hanging there in mid-air, desperately trying to cover up her modesty. Stay classy, SAO. Don’t worry. Her teammates eventually save her. Not Kirito and Asuna, though. They’re busy sitting together in some spot, gazing at the beautiful MMO scenery before them. The rest of the haremettes all sigh with jealousy. Uguu, why can’t it be us? Don’t worry, girls. In some fanfic or doujinshi out there, it is you! It is you!
— Kirito is suddenly reminded of Death Gun, so he snaps out of his love-induced stupor and announces that he has something to tell Asuna. Unfortunately, the credits start to roll right there. Gosh, do you think he ever gets around to telling her the truth about what he intends to do? Yo, babe, I’m just going to endanger my life investigating a potential cyber-crime. You cool? C’mon, I’m the only one who can do this! C’moooooon, I swear I won’t have an emotional affair with any of the girls I meet! I swear! I pinkie swear!
— I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that this episode was pretty much Kirito-less. In fact, it’s all about how awesome his future haremette is. Yes, Sinon is powerful. Yes, she almost won that fight all by her lonesome. Enjoy it while it lasts, though. After all, Asuna was strong at the start of the first season too, but we saw how quickly that devolved. Plus, did you really feel as though you got to know Sinon? Eh. She was determined to win an MMO fight, but what does that really say?
The way I see it, nothing we saw in this week’s episode really makes her stand out from any other action heroine. Had Asuna never met Kirito, she would’ve been just like that minus the whole gun complex. For a vignette, there was nothing all that revelatory in this week’s episode. Nothing that makes me think, “Wow, that’s an interesting aspect to the girl’s character.” Even when she’s trying to rally the troops against Dyne’s sobtastic pessimism, it’s no different from what any of us would’ve said in the same situation. Yes, it’s a fucking game. Therefore, play on. Sorry, but this vignette was a failure. I saw nothing to set Sinon apart from similar anime characters.