It only took four episodes for them to leave the first town.
— Somehow, the goblins here look worse than the ones in Goblin Slayer. Actually, everything here looks kinda like plastic.
— Eugeo is scared stiff, but I have to cut him some slack. After all, this is real life to him. He truly believes that he can die (and he probably can). On the other hand, it’s easy for Kirito to come up with a plan when it’s all just fun and games.
— Even when Kirito knocks out the torches, the room doesn’t get any darker. What is the light source here? Are the crystals naturally emitting light?
— Apparently, the goblins are afraid of a lil’ magic.
— …whoops, maybe not. Little kids should probably leave the goblin slayin’ jobs to the adults.
— The action’s not bad, I guess. I just can’t shake the feeling that this is all pointless. Kirito can tell us over and over how real this VRMMO feels, but that just means the technology has gotten even better. But when you really pause and reflect, isn’t this all just a waste of time? Well, I’ll expand on this at the end of the post.
— Anyways, Eugeo has had years to reflect on his inability to save Alice, and as a result, he doesn’t want to make the same mistake again. The kid is determined to do what he can to help Kirito this time around.
— Due to his size, I thought that the goblin’s swing would send Eugeo, an untrained fighter, flying. But since this is all made up anyways… eh.
— Wait, when did Eugeo get his memories of Kirito back? Well, the latter now gets his memories of their shared childhood back as well. So even though only three days had passed in the real world, Kirito can’t help but feel as though he’s spent years growing up with Eugeo and Alice. I don’t suppose this sort of thing would have psychological side effects, would it?
— If this arc really wants to be different, it should try and really mess with our perception of time. Imagine seeing a wizened, 300-year-old Kirito still trying to save Alice or something. Too bad the story will insist on keeping him and Eugeo looking like teenagers.
— So Kirito clashes once more with the goblin leader. During the fight, he briefly ponders whether or not his enemy is also an artificial soul. That may very well be the case, but we don’t really know where these souls go when they die in the Underworld, huh? It wouldn’t be very efficient for the mysterious company behind everything to just continually dispose of these souls if they can somehow reuse them.
— …but Kirito then allows the rest of the goblins to run away, so maybe not. What’s worse is that they’ll just find a new leader and continue kidnapping people.
— Amazing. Despite all that loss of blood, Eugeo is still clinging to life.
— Selka slept through all that ruckus, but as soon as Kirito tells her to wake up, she does. Hilarious.
— There’s something wrong with the girl, because Kirito had to beg her to use her Sacred Arts on Eugeo. Yeah, sure, she might truly believe that it’s too late to save the guy, but wouldn’t you at least try? What’s the worst that could happen?
— What’s even worse is that Kirito had to remind Selka that Eugeo came to save her and not Alice? Like c’mon…
— Apparently, she has to cast a high-level spell. If she fails, both she and Kirito might die. Why? Because this is still a game, so everything has durability (HP). If Eugeo is running low on durability, let’s just give him some of ours! I take nothing back, though. I still think the girl should’ve felt the urgency to save Eugeo.
— So this is dangerous, right? It’s okay! Some angelic presence is helping Kirito! You are always in the Lord’s hands!
— All of a sudden, we cut to Eugeo hacking away at that tree again. I knew the show couldn’t resist. We should just spend every episode on this dumb tree.
— Kirito asks Eugeo about memories of their childhood, but the latter is now back to being skeptical. He also didn’t hear Alice’s voice at all during the whole healing incident. As a result, our hero decides to keep it to himself for now. Yeah, yeah, I know. You guys are bored too, so let’s get back to the exciting stuff like chopping down this tree!
— After just one battle against a bunch of goblins, Kirito is suddenly strong again. Welp.
— But he’s not the only one. Dude, if I knew goblins gave this much XP, I’d never stop farming them in my games.
— As an aside, you do spend a lot of time leveling up on goblins in FFXI.
— Eugeo now begs Kirito to teach him how to wield a sword, because he’s determined to save Alice. He’s determined to right the wrongs from six years ago. I wish I could feel anything for him, but I don’t. More on this at the end of the post.
— Time for a training montage. I can only wonder how much time has elapsed within this virtual world.
— Oh no, the tree is quickly running out of durability! If we cut the tree down, what are we going to do with the rest of the series?!
— Welp, they had to go and do it. Now we’re going to have to find a bigger tree! I hope you boys are happy!
— Later that night, there’s a huge party for cutting down a dumb tree. Also, Selka and Kirito have a private chat, but there’s nothing interesting here. Sure, we learn a thing or two about the girl, but think about it… Kirito and Eugeo are about to embark on a quest to save Alice. Are we really going to see Selka that much anymore? Probably not. Plus, she’s boring character anyways. She doesn’t have much of a personality.
— Alice’s dad doesn’t look like he’s aged one bit.
— Meanwhile, Eugeo gets to pick his next Calling, so in front of the entire village, he announces that he’ll become a swordsman. Ho-hum.
— The next morning, right before he departs, Eugeo informs Selka of his intentions. Again, just wrapping up some loose ends.
–After three major arcs and some silly dalliance with a sick girl, why contrive yet another scenario in which our hero engages in yet another generic high fantasy concept with knights, goblins, and dragons? Like is this the truly the extent of your creativity as a writer?
— So as I was watching this episode, I just kept asking myself why any of this matters. Why bother with Eugeo and Selka? Why bother with Alice? Does any of this really matter? I guess that’s the story’s job, isn’t it? The show has to convince me that I should care about Kirito’s virtual adventures when he’s probably strapped down in a hospital in real life, fighting to survive while Asuna cries next to him. And oh yeah, that Death Gun jerk is still out there somewhere. And so far, I can’t say that SAO is doing a really good job.
— Yeah, sure, you could argue that Eugeo and Alice have souls. But is this really all that functionally different from a hypothetical intelligent AI that can think and feel? I suspect that we’re tossing the word “soul” around because it has a certain cachet attached to it. And as such, I’m supposed to just accept at face-value that Eugeo and Alice have lives that are much more meaningful. Unfortunately, I just can’t shake the fact this whole scenario has been concocted to further some company’s mysterious goals. As a result, Eugeo and Alice need to be saved from the outside.
— I’m not saying that Eugeo and Alice can’t suffer. It’s clear that they can. It’s clear that they have thoughts and feelings of their own. But if we want to improve their “lives,” we know what needs to be done. What I mean is that — as lame as this sounds — Kirito has the potential to have god like powers over this virtual world. Yeah, sure, we can go on a quest to save Alice within the game. Or we could somehow extricate ourselves from this MMO and insist that the creators stop messing around with these souls.
— To put it another way, I play a game like, say, Dragon Quest XI from start to finish, because it’s just a game. But if the characters within the game actually had actual souls, I wouldn’t actually play the game, now would I? Why wouldn’t I just go directly to Square Enix and demand the company to stop acting like such jerks? Once you pull back the curtain and reveal that it is all a conceit, there’s no going back.
— Show’s still pretty boring. It doesn’t even have a decent set-up like its predecessors. The first arc was all about being trapped in a game and figuring out how to escape from it. The second arc was all about saving Asuna. The third arc was about figuring out how Death Gun was killing people. Since then, however, the show has lost all sense of urgency.