I went into these new episodes of Sword Art Online hopeful. Not only was the news of the Gun Gale Online arc ending a nice surprise, but I was also hoping that the show would once again raise itself back up to its previous level of quality. I mean yeah, it was extremely over expository and it was less impressive production wise, but at least it was character driven and interesting. Episode 13 really wore me out though, but as usual I remained overly optimistic about the end of the GGO Arc, and the new Calibur arc. Did my optimism pay off?… Well it did, but only somewhat.
Let’s start this post off by talking about the ending to the GGO arc, aka, the part I was worried about. After the terrible episode 13, I was quite anxious to see how everything would be wrapped up. I mean what was going to happen after that awful display of hideous writing in the previous episode? Luckily though the finale was nowhere near as painful. Sure there were a few scenes that made me angry, like the moment Sinion started to talk about how all VRMMO players secretly want to get stronger psychologically, but in general it was actually pretty decent. I think a major reason it was enjoyable comes from the fact that it really does finish off Sinon’s character arc well, while providing an actual moment of tension.
I’m not going to lie, I was actually pretty shocked when Kirito was “injected” with the lethal drug by Kyouji. It made me actually worry about Kirito’s fate for once, which is honestly quite the accomplishment! Of course this is immediately shrugged off as it turns out Kyouji conveniently injected him on the exact spot of an equally convenient still attached heart electrode; but hey! A moment of tension is better than nothing, am I right?
Sinon’s arc is really the best part about this ending though, because it completely finishes off the loose ends in her story. She finally starts to stand up for herself, and while guns still scare her, she learns to let that fear control her. This all culminates in a rather cheesy scene where Kirito invites a witness of Sinon’s violent childhood incident to come in and thank her for protecting her. Sinon cries at the sight of a picture the woman’s now four year old daughter made for her, and it ends with the powerful image of VRMMO Sinon dropping her gun while standing in a tunnel of light. It’s very corny, but it gets the job done well, and overall it gave the GGO arc a reasonably satisfying conclusion overall. So much so in fact, that I became rather interested in the upcoming Calibur arc. Of course those interests were squashed immediately as I started watching episode 15, but I could be hopeful right?
I’m going to be quite honest, the Calibur arc has been a really mixed bag so far. On one hand the few battles they show here are quite impressive, but on the other one this arc is just really boring otherwise. It gets off to a poor start by beginning with a conversation between Suguha (Onii-chan Cousin) and Kirito, which already was setting off alarms for me. I mean from all the promotion art I knew that the story was going to take place in Alfheim Online, but wow, this story really does take place in Alfheim Online. Kirito’s entire harem of female followers is there, with the inclusion of Cait Sith Sinon and comic relief Klein to add some extra variety. This wouldn’t necessarily be bad, but honestly there is just no drive to this arc.
Say what you want about Sword Art Online’s story, but at least it was character driven and had motivation moving it forward. It may not have been the best motivation sure, but it was motivation nonetheless. Everyone here though is just boring, there’s no character drama and it’s instead just a boring quest for the legendary Excalibur sword. And boy does it feel like a boring MMO quest! There’s tons of boring world building, lore crap, and other game-play and world terms being thrown around without any connection to the audience, making it hard to even care about what you’re watching. It’s like this is Sword Art Online’s attempt to become Log Horizon, and it’s just not working at all!
However, despite the lack of interesting content, I will give credit where credit is due: The actions scenes here are pretty good. They do kind of feel like repeats of season one’s fights, with all the screaming, special attacks, and time limits, but I’ll take that over boring quest exposition any day! Watching Kirito swapping sword attacks, and seeing Asuna deal the final blow is nice callback that’s a lot of fun to watch, even if there are some annoying details like the less impressive animation and the fact that Asuna is now a healer for god knows what reason. Either way though these fights are just enjoyable, which is more than I can say for the boring lectures about the game’s Cardinal system, and hearing about the at best semi-accurate Norse mythology info. In the end though it doesn’t matter whether this arc was good or not because it’s ending next episode, and after that we can dive into the Mother’s Rosario arc!… Which still takes place in Alfheim Online…
Well either way these past few episodes of Sword Art Online were interesting to say the least. I was surprised to see the GGO arc go out on such a satisfying note, but when it came to the Calibur arc, my feelings were less fond. The Calibur arc really does seem like a one volume filler arc from the light novel series, and the adaptation is definitely not trying to hide that fact. It’s exposition heavy, uninteresting character or plot wise, and it general it’s just boring. If I wanted to play an MMO quest line, I would play an MMO game! I don’t need to sit around for three episodes watching you play one SAO! Anyways I’ll see you in the next post, where I’ll be covering the end of the Calibur arc and also the start of the new Mother’s Rosario plot line. See you then!