Worst. Honeymoon. Ever.
|Time for some more epic talks of Sword Art Online! So lately the overall feel I continue to get every week seems to focus on Kirito and Asuna getting dragged along on some emotional roller coaster, but this that isn’t necessarily a bad thing right? So what have I been doing recently besides anime? Well simple! If you are a gamer you probably know that Blizzard just released their “final” expansion aka Mists of Pandaria that pushed players from 85 up to 90! So you probably know what I have been doing for the past week! Lots and lots of WoW…anyway what have you been up to Overcooled?!|
|I’ve been trying my hardest to finish The Last Story since I wanted to write a game review for it, but it’s become such a chore that I might have to abandon ship. I usually fall for JRPGs hook, link and sinker, but this one just straight-up isn’t fun to play. Sounds like Fosh is having more luck finding games he enjoys than I am. At least I’m not stuck in SAO trying to fend for my life though, right? That’s always a plus. I’m especially happy to be grounded here in reality after seeing the end of this week’s episode. Yikes ._.|
Digital Fishing is so Cool, Bro!
Foshizzel // I admit I was immediately turned off after I saw the preview for this episode because I thought it was going to be all about fishing! I mean suuureeee I have nothing against fishing or people that love it, but I really did not want a whole episode dedicated to the sport. Thankfully the main focus of the episode followed something very important; however the main fishing scene with Kirito fighting to reel in the giant fish was pure comedic gold for me! Who knew Sword Art Online had such great scenes? I mean sure we have seen the whole “reel in the big ass fish” events in Tsuritama, Sengoku Collection episode 25 and now probably countless other anime I might have missed. Even though fishing for me is really dull and boring in real life because spend hours and hours waiting for the moment to reel in my catch; however in anime you can always count on the animation studio to go all out with those scenes! I really loved how crazy the animation got in Tsuritama and that past Sengoku Collection episode because they always have a stylized flair to them.
Back to Sword Art Online! So you are probably asking yourself why in the world would you spend your time fishing in a MMORPG? For most players out there they do it to farm rare cooking materials for certain recipes, I used to do it all the time in WoW because they always gave you the chance to fish up a super rare turtle mount. I am going out on a limb this week to say that Sword Art Online was trying to teach us some important life lesson about finding something special to follow in our own lives? I know it gave Nishida a chance to relax and enjoy life for once even though he was stuck inside a crazy video game. This also shows how a handful of players in Sword Art Online have adapted from fighting to survive every day to finding new and exciting hobbies to follow, like fishing instead of becoming a merchant or a day to day job.
Let’s Make A Killer Game!
“YO CHECK OUT THESE DENTURES! ILLEST RARE DROP YOU EVER SEEN, RIGHT?”
Overcooled // I was not particularly pleased to see that this week’s episode would be about fishing since it screamed “FILLER” to me, but I actually quite liked Nishida’s character. I enjoy seeing the odd specialist player who focuses on trade skills such as fishing instead of fighting. He gave up trying to clear the game and seems to not have any real monster-fighting abilities given his horrified reaction to the boss fish (which Asuna dealt with in one blow) and not being able to reel in said monstrosity. My guess is that fishing requires a high skill to get the fish to bite the hook, but if you don’t have enough STR to reel it in then either your rod will snap or you’ll go flying into the lake. That’s where Kirito came in! All in all, he was a really nice guy who seemed to help Kirito and Asuna grow even closer, and his connection to the creation of Sword Art Online got me curious about how the development process happened. SAO always introduces tantalizing topics and themes, but then never really delivers in a way that satisfies me. This leaves me to ponder the implications of things that are barely even mentioned in the episode – such as what’s going down in meatspace. Bear with me as I derail a bit on a selfish tangent!
Creating Sword Art Online was a huge undertaking that must have been worked on by tons of people day and night until the release date. Nishida was one of these people, although he worked on the less integral component of network security for the game (compared to, say, programming or level design). Was Kayaba Akihiko the only one in the development process aware that the game would be used to trap people? Clearly, Nishida had no idea this was going to happen, or else he wouldn’t be trapped there himself.
Imagine pouring your heart and soul into making an MMO for everyone to enjoy and beaming with pride at this entirely separate world that you have created for gamers everywhere to enjoy. Now imagine how you feel the moment SAO suddenly becomes a black hole from which no one can escape on the launch day, quickly dashing all that pride away. Instead of creating a masterpiece, everyone who worked on this game helped create a death trap. This is assisted murder, and they had no idea it was happening until the blood was already on their hands and the knife had clattered noisily to the floor. The initial shock must have been traumatizing, although I imagine most people would be able to rationalize their way out of associating themselves with murder given enough time. It wasn’t actually their fault if they weren’t in the know, but that doesn’t make the revelation that “oh my God, I helped to make a game that has killed innocent people!” any less of a troubling thing to ruminate on every night before bed.
Assuming not everyone who worked on the game is also trapped, then the real world must be in chaos. Kayaba Akihiko and the company that worked on the game must be getting sued left, right and centre for what they’ve done. Trying to weed out the people who knew they were going to enprison players in a virtual world from the poor victims who toiled away endlessly without any clue about what they were creating is going to be tough. Or was everyone cold-hearted enough to actually want to make a game like that, and people on the outskirts of the development process like Nishida are the only safe ones?
Even if he’s innocent, Nishida mentions that he might not be able to return to his old job once someone beats the game. Would you hire someone who aided in the construction of a virtual guillotine? I would think twice about asking someone like that for a job interview, even if it technically wasn’t their fault. Nishida may be hopeful (partially thanks to his meeting with the astoundingly optimistic Asuna and Kirito) but I like to imagine that things are pretty bad back in the non-virtual sphere. There’s a whole different battle being fought in the real world from SAO, and it’s a little more normal, but just as fascinating to me. There could very well be just as many suicides there as there are inside Aincrad. There, now isn’t that a much more cheerful thing to think about than Kirito and Asuna being romantic?
GET BACK TO WORK, SLACKERS!
Foshizzel // Ahem…so the honeymoon is over thanks to good ole master Heathcliff is here to ruin the sexy fun times for Asuna and Kirito and of course who doesn’t want to fight anymore? Kirito and Asuna! They are suddenly having second thoughts about participating in the Knights of Blood raid thanks to all glitches lately that and Kirito doesn’t want to lose Asuna which is fine because they currently have a good thing going on as the number one married couple in Sword Art Online, but did anyone really expect Asuna to stay behind after Kirito asked her to stay at the guild base for her own safety? OF COURSE NOT, but I know it is in her character to say “PSSSH Oh hell no! You are not telling me what I can and can’t do!” or something like that right?
There was one important scene that stood out for me this week with the whole talk about how their bodies in the real world are doing if they continue to avoid completing the game, but I know most of us watching this series have pretty much drilled a massive hole in our heads about that subject since the first episode…and I think it was one of those moments where everyone was like DURR WE KNOW! But I remember thinking to myself or maybe out loud while watching this episode like “Holy crap! It really is about time these two wake up and think about the real world.” I think that whole talk with Asuna was a good thing for Kirito for the whole plot progression of our main couple, but I think both of them suffer from the thoughts of not seeing each other ever again if they finish the game…heaven forbid them from ever asking each other their home addresses and phone numbers right? So yeah anyway these moments in anime always bug me when the main cast finally catches onto the plot! Just look at the latest episodes of Eureka Seven Ao for example.
Overcooled // Thank you Heathcliff for dragging these two back to the frontlines! It’s a lot harder to squish in romantic scenes when everyone is busy trying to keep their limbs attached to their torso, which I am infinitely grateful for. I’m not very tolerant of them being all over each other in a cottage when nothing else is happening to distract me. I find the aspect of couples who fight alongside each other to be easier to swallow. It makes the battles more interesting because it feels like more is at stake. Asuna and Kirito are no longer focused on the finish line like a horse with blinders on because they have a lot more to lose and a lot more to gain. There’s a whole future waiting for them on the other side, made brighter than before by the spark of love.
There’s also the fact that if one of them dies, that spells death for the two of them. It’s a bit of an unhealthy way to structure a relationship so that the remaining partner would commit suicide instead of living on, but I’m willing to attribute this obsessive level of devotion to 2 years of torture in Aincrad. After going through all that time fighting and watching their comrades die at a steady rate, they’re desperate for something stable. They would love to just settle in and fish every day with Nishida at their cottage, but that can’t happen. There’s no time to relish their happiness, because it could be taken away at any moment if someone just pulls the plug on them in their hospital bed. I found it kind of sweet that Asuna and Kirito are married, yet they still don’t have exactly what they want yet in terms of stability. They never will until they get out and stop having to beat up monsters. I just don’t want these two to be perfectly happy until the end, so some chinks in the marriage are needed to make their drive to survive and engage in combat more compelling. They’ve gotta get out, get busy, and pop out a little Yui number two!
“You know…this game ain’t so bad sometimes…”
As for the time limit, I’d say most of them should be fine for a while. Although hospital beds are scarce, I don’t think doctors can just euthanize patients willy-nilly because they feel it’s their escape from Aincrad is hopeless. This is the future, after all, so the medical care should be top notch. Whether or not someone would be “unplugged” depends on their living will – which describes what to do in the event that the patient is unable to decide what kind of health care they receive (at least, this is how things work where I am. I have no idea if Japan is the same). There are usually specific instructions, so some patients might have DNR (do not resuscitate) orders, or ask to not be sustained as a human vegetable if they fall into a coma. Care may also be given to someone like a family member, so that they make all the main decisions. It all depends on whether the unconscious gamer’s health care proxy decides to keep them sustained or not. After a certain point, it may so stressful that all the mothers and fathers may lose hope and just write off their children as being dead. It happens. Ahhh, yet again, I’m getting drawn into the real life consequences of a virtual prison. In the words of Chitanda Eru…I just can’t stop thinking about it!!
Raid time! Hajimaru yo~
Foshizzel // Now that Asuna and Kirito have chatted about the real world it was finally time to ROW ROW FIGHT DA MONSTERS! With the other key members of the Knights of Blood; however they were entering a dungeon basically blind because the scout party never returned to base! That sure sounds safe doesn’t it? Whenever I think about raiding I always have flashbacks of my guild dying over and over again for several hours a night to the tough bosses and we called that “learning” however sooner or later some guild learns how to defeat X boss and they usually share their strategies online, but SAO players have no freaking idea what awaits them right now. So what creepy ass boss monster are they fighting this week? I called him OMG-SKELETON-SNAKE-ALIEN-THINGY or OSSAT for short, but DAYUM that thing will give you nightmares or will it? I just remember setting there staring at the BEAUTIFUL animation! I mean good god wow everyone fighting as a team looked totally badass…I mean except for all the random cannon fodder characters that got killed off after in an instant after one swing for a good one shot kill! So how will our heroes deal with the powerful OSSAT! With the power of friendship of course or maybe they can summon a giant dog to simply eat the monster? I sure wish that Silica or Yui were around to give us a-ultra-hnggggg-she-was-so-freaking-cute-attack…because after this hardcore fight I think everyone will need something like that or maybe just an adorable hug? I will take that hug now!
Who would have thought that a little bit of fishing would segue perfectly into a boss battle? Catching that big fish served as a reminder to both Kirito, Asuna and Nishida that returning to the real world is important. It’s just not right to spend all your time fishing, just as it’s not right to focus solely on clearing the game. There has to be a balance between enjoying your time in this admittedly gorgeous game world and still holding the real world in your heart as being important, and something worth working to return to. I liked that message. What I didn’t like was how they tried to relate it back to Kirito and Asuna becoming a couple, as if they tried to make us nostalgic for a grand romance story that never existed in the first place. Kirito and Asuna just suddenly became a couple without much of a smooth transition or any real substantial moments to make me feel like they naturally grew to love each other. Only in hindsight when you scrunch your face up and try to skew what already happened to fit in the schema of Kirito and Asuna being in love will you able to piece together something vaguely resembling a budding relationship. I’m probably never going to get on board with this couple, so thank God that raging skeletal beasts interrupting vacations are a thing. That boss battle was incredible! It’s not even done yet and it was already so good! All I ask of SAO is copious amounts of killing and people freaking out from the trauma of being trapped in a virtual world. The next week’s episode with the second part of that boss fight can’t come soon enough…
So this week was fishing, life MOE-ments and scary raid bosses! That pretty much sums up the entire episode, but I was really impressed with the battle animation because the artist in me is like WOW! One day I want to animate something that cool…well…I mean yeah it takes years and years of practice to get THAT good but I can always dream right? So our main couple is finally realizing they can’t simply stay in the game world forever because they realize their bodies in the real world are practically dying very slowly. So what did you think of that moment? So was it an I KNOW ALREADY type of thing or maybe you enjoyed watching them discuss that problem? For me those moments always bug me, but I know why it happens because you don’t want your characters breaking the fourth wall all the time. While this episode had some great moments I am really excited to see episode 14! I hope we continue the epic battle and get some plot/story progression without the OH MA GER WERE GONNA DIE to something else next time.
A cliffhanger! I don’t even need to think of something witty to convince you to tune in next week then!