This is the most action-packed SAO episode yet!
— The episode is off to a slow start as we see Kirito stumble in his attempts to allay his loved ones’ fears. Apparently, Leafa’s (I’ll just use these characters’ online monikers for simplicity) has seen the name Kirito in an article about the latest Bullet of Bullet tournament. Her brother tries to pretend as though it is someone else with the name Kirito, which, as you can imagine, isn’t a very convincing argument. Baby, please… it’s a common name! Everyone wants to be me! I’m the hero! Seriously, though, I don’t even know why Kirito feels the need to lie. Just say he’s been asked to check something out, and it’s very official business that he can’t talk about in great detail. He doesn’t need to tell her all the details, but c’mon, I think we all deserve not to be lied to from our loved ones. Yes, he doesn’t want to worry her, but at the same time, he’ll worry his family and friends by simply lying and disappearing off to do god knows what for hours and hours everyday. He’ll also worry them by lying about online gaming, too. After all, online gaming is nothing, so if you feel the need to lie about it, it’ll just concern people even more. It’s like if I lied to my girlfriend about anime blogging. Anime blogging by itself is such a benign activity that if I feel the need to lie about it, there has to be something serious going on.
— Yeah, yeah, undercover cops don’t tell their loved ones when they go undercover, but Kirito is not an undercover cop. If he was, he wouldn’t have taken the name Kirito into GGO. I mean, c’mon, it’s not even remotely the same.
— Leafa says she has noticed how he’s no longer on her friends list. In response, the guy goes, “It isn’t as though you check that list every day.” I’ve played MMOs. I know I always use my friends list to see who’s online. Especially if it’s a close friend. Especially if it’s my own brother. But all of this talk is silly. Just tell the truth. Not the whole truth… but some of it to allay her concerns.
— Afterwards, pretty much the same thing plays out with Asuna. She’s far too nice and passive to make Kirito feel uncomfortable, though.
— “This is my problem.” Well, no, once you get into a relationship, your problems aren’t just your problems anymore. That’s just selfish talk. I’m not saying he should get Asuna to join GGO and help him battle Death Gun. I’m not even saying he should tell her about Death Gun’s experience. But the girl is obviously concerned about him and what he’s doing, so it’s her problem too already. Don’t minimize her feelings. Hell, he could even use her worries as a source of strength to strengthen his resolve or whatever cliche motivational bullshit he want to believe. The “This is my problem” line just sounds selfish and short-sighted.
— Holy crap, now Kirito’s back to talking to Leafa. This is indeed Talking Art Online. Can we please move on, already?
— The anime cuts to Sinon in real life, aaaaaaaaaand she’s kicking a pole over and over because she’s all worked up about Kirito. Good lord.
— Apparently, Kirito’s a sexual harasser because he saw her online avatar in nothing but its underwear. I repeat, he saw her online avatar. Hey, I’m the first person to bag on Kirito, but c’mooooooooooon.
— “Why would you come to GGO to use a sword, anyway?” See, now that’s a legit complaint. Obviously, Kirito’s a special snowflake.
— Sinon’s too worked up about this. I mean, who the fuck cares? Oh no, he pretended to be a girl! Big fucking deal. It’s like she’s never been online before. People pretend to be someone else all the time, and I’m not even talking about online games.
— This Shinkawa guy is obviously a bad guy — hell, the show hasn’t even been coy about it — but let’s pretend for the moment that he’s not. I think his suggestions make sense; if Kirito bugs her so much, let’s gank him in game! But the girl suddenly does an about face: sure, Kirito annoys her, but “the way he fights is so straightforward and honest.” As a result, she doesn’t want to gank him. It must be an honorable one-on-one duel! Groooooooan.
— Oh my god, the girl managed to shape her hands into a gun… in real life! What progress! Such breakthrough. Very therapeutic! This is fucking stupid. Realistic guns in my MMO? Meh, whatever. My own hands are now makeshift guns? WOAGHSHIT! And it’s all because of Kirito, too! He makes her so mad, it’s chipping away at her trauma! What a Gary Stu! Even when he annoys girls, he’s really healing their mind and body!
— “I think that’s who you really are. I’m sure that someday, the real you will be able to be like that, too.” Makes sense.
— Shinkawa acting real creepy now: “So I worry when I see you getting upset or mad over a guy like that. I’ll… I’ll help you!” He then tries to embrace her. Dude, chill out. But man, you gotta feel sorry for these girls. They either have to fall in love with the Gary Stu or deal with guys like Shinkawa. There are apparently no other males in this entire universe.
— But hey, it’s been 11 minutes, and all we’ve done is sit around and listen to these characters talk about their feelings. Woo, Talking Art Online! Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with a drama anime where the characters discuss their feelings in depth, but you kinda have to be good at it. It’s not like I’m sitting here, watching a fascinating character study. These characters’ problems are just so mundane. Uguu, I’m mad ’cause the Gary Stu pretended to be a girl in an online game! Also, I have the most ridiculous gun phobia ever! No, it’s not exactly Aku no Hana, now is it?
— Guess what? Now the nurse is trying to have a conversation with Kirito about his feelings. Christ. Kirito just goes from one girl’s arms to the next. Is this what this whole episode’s going to be? Is he really going to bounce from one hot anime babe to the other, talking about his feelings? Hell, it’s not even a bad thing per se for the characters to pause and reflect on their actions, their feelings, and what they’ve been through. But holy shit, an entire episode about it? One reflective moment after the other? Please, can you learn proper storytelling and space this shit out? Yes, these hot anime babes notice that there’s something off about Kirito, but it’s not like they must all talk to him at once. There’s no law that says, “Oh my god, the Gary Stu looks troubled! I must talk to the poor guy right now!” You can break these conversations apart and sprinkle them in between the show’s “exciting” action scenes. Instead, SAO opts to have these conversations all at the same time, back-to-back-to-back. The only thing here to break up the monotony of Kirito’s therapy session is Sinon’s own therapy session. Fucking ridiculous.
— “Sou da ne.” “Sou da ne.” “Sou da ne.” — SAO Nurse 2014
— Kirito’s distraught because, in his words, “I’m a monster who can even forget people I’ve killed.” Or, y’know, you’re traumatized, so you’ve dissociated yourself from your painful memories. But no, I’m a monster! I’m a monster because I don’t even remember these PKers’ face and names! Oh, the horror! How can you not remember a murderer’s face! Who’s the real monster now?! That’s it. I’m done, man. I’m tuning this shit out. I’m literally not paying attention until Kirito is back in GGO. Fuck you and your feelings. And if anyone actually tries to defend this episode in the comments, I will blacklist you. I don’t even care.
— 15 minutes in, still not in an MMO yet.
— Still tuning the dialogue out, but I have eyes. I can still see. So, uh, what are his hands clutching in this very scene?
— 16 minutes in, still not in an MMO yet.
— 17 minutes in, Kirito has entered the MMO, but the anime opts to cut to Sinon instead. Therefore, we’re still not in an MMO yet.
— Finally, at 17:36 we are in… uh…
…ALO to watch Klein babysit Kirito’s harem. What a nice guy. Since he’s not a Gary Stu, though, the girls aren’t very impressed. In fact, Asuna’s too worried about Kirito to even play the game!
— After defeating this salamander thing, everyone’s going to gather ’round and watch Kirito compete in the Bullet of Bullets tournament. At the end of the day, it’s still all about the Gary Stu. Speaking of which, we’re now 19 minutes into the episode, and we’ve yet to see Kirito in an MMO.
— Holy shit, 19:36 into the episode, we finally revisit GGO. Aaaaaand…
…we see Shinkawa confess his feelings to Sinon. Way to dump your feelings on her right before the big tournament, dumbass. Actually, screw it.