A-1 Pictures made me watch Kirito and Sinon sit in a cave and talk my ears off for more than an episode, and this is the “payoff?” This is the best you could come up with for the pivotal fight scene of the GGO arc? For fuck’s sakes, guys.
— We see in the cold opening that there are only four people left in the game, and this includes Death Gun. Good lord, you just know our Gary Stu will not only defeat Death Gun, but win the whole tournament as well. And of course, Sinon with have feelings for him that she can’t resolve, because as soon as Kirito logs out of GGO, he’ll see Asuna dutifully waiting by his side. She may be old hat, but you just can’t beat a loyal woman with maxed out cooking skills, huh? Yep, that’s pandering at its finest.
— There should be five people left, but that fifth guy is probably already dead, so who cares? Let’s just get on with it already.
— SAO‘s excuse for no one showing up to look for our heroes? Oh, Death Gun has been busy taking them out! What a nice guy! As a result, Kirito and Sinon have been perfectly safe this entire time. They’re even safe from Death Gun too, who has been trying to look for them! Maybe if he had just followed his victims instead of shooting them the first chance he got, he might have found our heroes, but grr, I’m a grim specter of death! Fear me!
— Sinon: “Run and gun. A style where you run, shoot, and run again.” That’s a style? Really? As opposed to what? Stand, shoot, and stand some more?
— I like how this Dark Wind guy finished second in the last Bullet of Bullets tournament only because he lost to the champion’s “rare gun and armor.” The best part is how most players consider Dark Wind to have been the better of the two, but hey, what can you do when gear matters this much? Yo, this is totally a legitimate esport, you guys. It’s a test of skill where people can hide out in caves until most of the competition are dead, then they emerge to defeat you with their super rare drops. We all know the best CS:GO teams out there are the ones that grind for purps.
— Last thing you want to hear from a sniper: “I’ve always been good at closing my eyes to something scary.”
— Good lord, they’re still talking. Aaaaand they’re still talking about the missing fifth person, which I thought we had already covered at the start of the episode. Most of all, I just don’t know why A-1 Pictures couldn’t have these two do something — anything — as they discuss their plans for defeating Death Gun. Maybe our heroes could double-check the status of their weapons and armor. Maybe our heroes could make minor repairs. Maybe our heroes could make their way to the fight location. Goddamn, do something! But no, they can’t do anything. Kirito and Sinon continue to sit in a cave and talk our ears off.
— Blah blah blah, Death Gun might have two partners in the real world instead of just one. Great, whatever.
— Sinon wonders why there are so many people so hellbent on being player killers. Kirito speculates that it’s the same reason why he tries so hard to be a swordsman. So you’re telling me that all these people want to be serial killers? Not only that, they’re all young MMO gamers, they all play the same game, and they all live in the same approximate place? It’s such a stupid way to be a killer, too. Remember, according to Kirito, they must follow their one rule: a person must die both in-game and outside the game.
— Sinon: “But PKs have their own pride and resolve.” Uh-huh, there sure is a lot of pride and resolve in ganking people you massively out-level and out-gear, but that’s none of my business.
— Kirito says he has to fulfill his duty and stop these murderers from harming anyone else. Alright, that sounds cool to me. Stop murderers from murdering people! Who’s going to disagree with that? Unfortunately, our Gary Stu can’t shut up. He goes on to say he can only atone for his sins if he can stop Death Gun. What sins? Oh, the sin of killing those two Laughing Coffin members and defending yourself against the creepy Kuradeel. Give me a break, SAO. Once again, SAO tries to create drama out of nothing. Kirito basically killed two murderers, thereby preventing them from killing more people. As for Kuradeel, I’m sure he would’ve raped and skinned Asuna eventually if he wasn’t stopped. But oh no, I’m a killer! It’s one of those situations where the writer wants Kirito to have some sort of sin to atone for, but at the same time, he doesn’t really want to give the Gary Stu an actual sin. It’s like going to a job interview and claiming your biggest weakness is that you just work too gosh darn hard. In Kirito’s case, he has to atone for preventing murderers and rapists from doing the bad things that they do. Ugh, what a sinful bastard! How can he even come home to his bed full of haremettes at night? Seriously though, I’d have more respect for the show if it would just stop trying to be so deep and meaningful. By giving our Gary Stu this flaccid non-trauma, SAO is really just embarrassing itself.
— Let’s just casually center the camera on Sinon’s (non-)rack.
— Aaaaand now we have the fist bump of justice.
— As Sinon tracks Dark Wind from a distance, she sees that the guy is smiling. He probably thinks he’s about to win this whole thing. That’s another problem with the story: the rest of the players are apparently idiots. If Kirito can notice that the numbers just don’t add up, i.e. the mysterious whereabouts of the fifth person, then how come no one else has realized it either? Or, y’know, how come the tournament administrators haven’t already stopped the damn contest because something fishy is going on? The likely truth is that no one but our heroes suspect anything. Our heroes are just exceptional snowflakes.
— What’s A-1 Pictures strategy to show us that Kirito is engaging his keen sense and intuition? By putting this ugly filter on everything!
— Yeah, dude, just feel the enemy’s killer instinct. ‘Cause that’s one of the many things that is possible in VRMMOs. Ever since patch 3.49273, killer intent is now recorded and transmitted through the headsets.
— Do you like flashbacks? ‘Cause here’s another one! How many times do we need to see Kirito fighting those Laughing Coffin assholes? Not enough times, I’ll tell you what.
— Dark Wind is taken out so quickly, it’s not even interesting. If one of Death Gun’s partners is lurking nearby Dark Wind’s home, why wouldn’t he just kill the bastard anyway? I mean, he’s already a cold-blooded murderer. But ah, our one rule, you guys! We’re PKers have our pride and resolve too, y’know.
— Sinon soons spots Death Gun, but when she takes a shot at him, the bad guy takes a shot at her too. You guys already saw the silly bullet thing up above, so there’s no need to cover it again. In any case, Sinon and Death Gun simply manage to take out the other person’s sniper rifle. Sinon is now useless, and she can thus step out of the way and let the Gary Stu do what the Gary Stu does best, i.e. hog all the glory.
— This duel between Kirito and Death Gun will be easy right? After all, our Gary Stu has his badass sword and Death Gun doesn’t! Wrong. Death Gun proceeds to pull out a sword of his own (it looks like a rapier or an estoc). Yes, the final battle of the GGO arc will come down to a fucking sword fight. Who needs guns! Certainly not this gun-based MMO with the word ‘gun’ literally in its name!
— Look at Sinon’s concerned face as she sees Death Gun land a hit on her precious harem lead. It’s fucking anime. You can literally draw her in a way that makes her look worried, but A-1 Pictures can’t even hack that.
— Oh man, there’s just too much action in this week’s episode. Quick, cut to our dutiful waifu rushing to be at the Gary Stu’s side. Gotta have Asuna do something, y’know? How else is she going to prove her worth? But yeah, literally all Asuna’s done in this sequel is watch Kirito on a livestream, then run to his side. This girl started out as a warrior too, but once she took off her clothes in the original series, it’s been downhill ever since.
— This MMO battle is just so intense!
— Death Gun is so deathy, even his name is just German for death. Death death death. Do you see the symbolism? Do you?! DEATH DEATH DEATH!
— We cut back to Kirito and Death Gun, and surely, these two are engaged in a life-or-death battle, right? Right?
Death Gun: “Looks like you should have studied more, black swordsman. You can make it with the gun-blade skill. Though the length and weight can’t be much more than this.”
Are you kidding me? Are you two idiots really talking about crafting right now?
Kirito: “Then I’m afraid you wouldn’t be able to make a blade I’d like.”
Death Gun: “You still like blades with high strength requirements?”
Yo, the blade’s just not long enough for the Gary Stu. It needs to be big and heavy. That’s what MMO chicks dig.
— Death Gun is surprised Kirito even remembers anything about Laughing Coffin. Really? You don’t think the hero of Aincrad would remember the notorious player-killing guild?
— Fuck me, man. There’s no fighting here. Instead, these two are just going to stand there and talk. And fine, dialogue between the protagonist and the antagonist can be compelling. But these two idiots aren’t having a meaningful conversation. They’re just repeating shit we already know! Why the hell is Kirito even bothering to explain Death Gun’s modus operandi to Death Gun himself? Heh, lemme tell you how you really kill people!
— “You can’t remember my real name! ‘Cause I never told you my real name! Bwahahahahahahaha!”
— The bad guy then tells us that his sword is made from the best metal you can find in the game: space battleship’s armor! Wait, what the hell is space battleship’s armor doing in a gun-based MMO that, well, doesn’t have spaceships?
— Anyway, Death Gun lunges for Kirito again, and as you can see, the animation in this anime is just amazing. Unfortunately, the episode finally comes to an end, so you’ll have to tune in next time for the not-so-exciting continuation of this duel between the Gary Stu and some pathetic PKer. Having said that, we still managed to waste over half of this week’s episode on pointless conversations about stuff the audience either already knew or could have surmised for themselves. I thus can’t help but imagine next week’s episode will just be more of the same.