40 CommentsSword Art Online / By Inushinde /

Sword Art Online Episode 10: The Plot Could Certainly Use a Hand

Let me preface this with as much eloquence as I can muster in the face of Sword Art Online’s awe-inspiring, monumentally epic story: Holy fucking shit is this stupid. I don’t mean in the NakaImo way where two people in swimsuits fight past mechanical zombies that coat them in a viscous liquid that looks suspiciously like semen, or the Aquarion EVOL way where the characters get naked to increase combat effectiveness. On the grand scale of stupidity, those are somewhere between ordering all you can eat pancakes for dinner and soaking toast in gin to make French toast (both of which I’m guilty of).

Sword Art Online’s unique brand of idiocy is analogous to throwing a puppy off a cliff to teach it how to make a Panama Torte cake: something so insidiously, blisteringly awful that its sheer audacity makes me wonder if I should laugh or call the police. It’s stupid only in a way that a show can be when its villains have motivations with complexity on par with fucking Team Rocket, and the obligatory love interest draws her personality in equal part from Narusegawa Naru and Aisaka Taiga, with absolutely none of the appeal remaining. I mean when I actually think Accel World has fewer problems than this, that in turn is a problem.

Even if that seemed a bit harsh, there’s plenty I can forgive. Kirito getting saved at 1 hp again, aka the worst kind of deus ex machina? Yeah it’s annoying, but nobody’s expecting SAO to hum with all the genius of Hemingway. Hell, even Not-Rider getting skewered to death for no good reason is tolerable to an extent. What really sent alarms blaring was Kirito losing his hand when trying to save Asuna. It could have been a heartfelt, symbolic moment where Kirito sacrifices his unique ability in order to assure Asuna’s safety. My heart is a shriveled, tar-colored speck that I’ve long neglected, but even I would have felt something if that had happened. Instead, Kirito grows back his hand and they return to Asuna’s home to eat two years-worth of glopped vanilla pudding. It’s not only jarring, but makes me question the point of that whole damn kerfuffle.

I fully understand that at the end of the day, Sword Art Online is nothing but otaku wish-fulfillment masquerading as a grand plot about the trials and tribulations of being stuck in an online game with thousands of others, but that doesn’t mean getting my hopes up that it’ll actually have a grand, epic plot should be an exercise in futility. I conclude by saying the mantra that I repeat each time I blog a show that I dislike more with each passing episode: If I could write about Blood-C, I can write about this. Even keeping everything that I’ve said here in mind, this really isn’t anywhere near as bad. I mean that’s like saying that missing your bus to work isn’t as bad as getting hit by it.

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  1. eternia
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Nod. Nod. Good saying, bro. Most myanimelist users give this Hype Art Online anime really good score, to the point of getting 41st rank, with an average score of 8.66. I am starting to worry if I am the one who’s crazy for always bashing it, just like how I bashed Blood-C and Guilty Crown.

    Asuna stripped to her underwear because she thought that Kirito asked for sex, and she doesn’t mind, for sure. “Oh, Kirito, I love youuu. Let’s do it bareback.”


    I can’t understand if they have officially married. But, no, Gary Stu was asking her to ‘comfort’ him. Why is she such a cheap woman? Lelouch having foursome with Kaguya, C.C. and Kallen would have made more sense compared to this. [Yet, it didn’t happen.]

    • Son Gohan
      Posted September 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Dude, virtual sex != sex
      Asuna is still a virgin.

    • eternia
      Posted September 10, 2012 at 2:36 am | Permalink

      It depends on what your virgin definition is. Is it the hymen? Is it the actual physical contact? Considering in this game they can feel ecstasy just like in real life…

    • diz1776
      Posted September 10, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      Yes, you are crazy. The suspension of disbelief is what allows a medium to prosper our flounder. To regularly point out flaws is one thing it’s another to use them as a means of generalizing the entire experience. Could the scene have been handled better maybe. Than again we’re not living in “their” world. From the third person perspective it’s gregariously easy to criticize.

      • Inushinde
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

        Kind of hard not to generalize when the flaws take away from the experience more times than not. There are series that have obvious flaws *Cough* Steins;Gate *Cough*, but the overall package compensates for the problems. Unfortunately, that’s not the case here.

      • diz1776
        Posted September 11, 2012 at 12:59 am | Permalink

        Seems to me they’re acting in a such a manner that makes sense to people who have been living in a semi-virtual world. Kirito has sacrificed much on Asuna’s behalf and vice-versa. They’ve fought countless battles together. Their so called “marriage” is merely the consummation of their union of which they feel is mutually beneficial given their circumstances. They care deeply for one another if that wasn’t so obvious. What appears o be illogical and nonsensical to us is common sense to them. Supposition and internal bias are hard things to rule out of one’s judgement. What shows are you by chance comparing this to Accel World, and or Slayers?

      • Posted September 11, 2012 at 1:55 am | Permalink

        As a textbook Gary Stu, what exactly has Kirito sacrificed? His hand, which reappeared on his wrist without consequence in the very next scene and was never mentioned again? His free time? His momentary convenience?

        I’m not seeing anything he’s actually given up. It’s not a sacrifice if you don’t lose anything for longer than a minute. By everything I’ve seen he just has awesome things thrust on him for free; case in point the super-special dual wielding skill that only he can use. It simply appeared out of thin air for his convenience. He didn’t train for it; he didn’t pay for it; he didn’t even knowingly seek it out – he just got it because the universe bends in service to him.

        What appears o be illogical and nonsensical to us is common sense to them.

        It’s the author’s (and of course the director’s) job to make these things seem logical and believable to us; not ours to rationalize the inconsistent storytelling. If characters are doing things that make no sense to us because we haven’t been properly sold on their motivations or the rules of the setting, that’s a problem which deserves all the criticism it gets.

      • diz1776
        Posted September 11, 2012 at 2:31 am | Permalink

        Do you want an allotted amount of time for each episode to show what exactly Kirito has done to get where he is now? These sacrifices you say supposedly don’t exist are everywhere. They don’t need to be mentioned ever single waking minute. His coat he earned in his first Boss battle. While his second sword was forged by Liza only after they had to quest for it. Nothing is just simply handed to him. To obtain his skills he grinded countless untold hours to hone which should be obvious to anyone. His experiences he’s had up until now are like that of any other mmo player in the game. There are thousands of other players who are still alive who didn’t need Kirito to help save them or bail them out. They’re just as capable or more so.

      • Posted September 11, 2012 at 5:11 am | Permalink

        That’s just a false dichotomy; you can have a story that makes a character’s remarkable abilities feel earned without ruining the pacing. This is typically done by giving them flaws.

        Even a superhero (the classic example of a power fantasy) like Batman trades his abnormal strength and skill for a monomaniac personality, isolation from his fellow man, and a lack of a social life. His attempts at enjoying life all end in disaster. These flaws cost him; they hurt him. He regularly has to fight against them lest they consume him.

        What flaws does Kirito have? What has he actually given up or lost in gaining what he has now?

        Grinding levels and farming gear is not a sacrifice when you are trapped in a game where it’s your job. Nothing is lost there but time. Trouncing bosses by yourself is not a sacrifice – just a power fantasy. Losing hitpoints is not a character flaw. Being too modest to boast about your power isn’t either.

        Losing your hand to protect your lover and thus forfeiting use of your defining skill is a meaningful sacrifice. Then Kirito’s hand poofs right back onto his wrist, putting the gesture on the same level as a stubbed toe. Nothing meaningful lost; not a sacrifice.

        There are thousands of other players who are still alive who didn’t need Kirito to help save them or bail them out. They’re just as capable or more so.

        But they don’t get special skills only they can use, or the adoration of harems of women. We also never actually see these supposed bigger fish. Whether or not they can exist is much less important than what the author decides to show us, and what we’ve been shown is an entire cast of people billed as less awesome than Kirito. The only exception is the guildmaster, who clearly had to cheat to win the duel right as he was about to lose.

      • eternia
        Posted September 11, 2012 at 8:54 am | Permalink

        Hah. Are you saying that other players don’t work hard enough? Gary Stu was given an unique super awesome skill by Kayaba Akihiko, or rather, Kawahara Reki.
        Are you saying that other players don’t work hard enough to please Asuna, or get her affection? No, she was handed to Gary Stu in marriage by Kawahara Reki. Also her virginity.
        This is self-insert anime. Just like when you played eroge and fapped to it. But then again, actual eroge(s) possibly can do better than this.

      • Inushinde
        Posted September 13, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        Kind of hard to do worse than “I- uh… I mean my character has no flaws, so Asuna should totally be in love with me- I mean him!” I mean give Sword Art Online some credit, at least the novels haven’t had any hilariously gratuitous sex sc-

        Yeah, at least eroge admits that it’s self insert porn.

  2. AzarelHikaru
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    About the hand thing… If you look at Kirito’s HP bar after he loses the hand, you will see a small red symbol, indicating that it’s a status effect. Kirito explained it as such in the novel’s narration, but I like how they decided to go for a “show, not tell” approach in this one.

    But yeah, losing a hand and growing it back still sounds pretty stupid.

    • blackice85
      Posted September 9, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      Eh, it is a game after all. I don’t think that’s any more stupid than being nearly dead and suddenly at full health after taking a potion.

    • Inushinde
      Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

      There are cases where exposition is of benefit, and this would definitely be it. If it’s supposed to mimic real life as much as possible, losing limbs should be a part of that as well.

      • matrixEXO
        Posted September 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        AFAIK, SAO was never made to replicate real life into it. The main base of it is still about VRMMORPG, which can also be reduced down to MMORPG. The only thing that was replicated was the “One life” event where if you die in-game, you also die in real life. Which brings about the reason why losing an arm is not as bad as dying.

    • Posted September 11, 2012 at 5:35 am | Permalink

      Relegating the lost limb to the realm of a mere statis effect kind of sucks all on its own accord, honestly.

      “For you, Asuna, I spent a whole round tanking Bad Breath.”

      Either it’s a permanent maiming, thus a big deal, or it’s a temporary status effect and not important at all. You can’t have both!

      It also sucks from a visual cohesiveness standpoint: the shatter effect that broke his hand is the same one that permanently killed everything else we’ve ever seen it apply to. Up until now anything that shattered was gone forever, but Kirito’s hand just breaks this rule.

      • Inushinde
        Posted September 13, 2012 at 10:55 am | Permalink

        There would be a good way to have it as both. Say it’s permanent unless you go on a hard quest to get it back, which in turn requires downgrading a few levels or spending a heap of gold. Not only would that make getting it back almost unreasonably difficult, but it would actually give Asuna a reason to do stuff other than make moon eyes at Kirito.

        Holy shit, I should have written this.

      • Posted September 13, 2012 at 11:57 am | Permalink

        That’s really more of a dramatic compromise than anything; less meaningful than a permanent physical injury, but more than a temporary inconvenience. It’s sort of the equivalent of having your house blown up or all of your money stolen: you can get it back, but not without a whole lot of hassle.

        It would be a good way to depower Kirito so he’d actually have to rely on something other than his flawless ability to stab all things ever though. It might even feel like he properly earned it when he got his hand back after all that time where he could no longer just breeze through on his peerless… everything-ness.

  3. Elanassa
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    meh, don’t know what to say… it is still a video game. If you lost a limb permanently that MMO company would lose a subscriber permanently.

    The fact that it grew back a scene later didn’t seem that jarring to me.

    They probably should have found a better way to depict it (since losing the hand certainly didn’t seem to cost him much HP), but it’s not my adaption.

    • spazer
      Posted September 9, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      You do realize that this MMO has permadeath, right? “Losing a subscriber” is hardly a concern.

    • eternia
      Posted September 10, 2012 at 2:39 am | Permalink

      Not only that. The reason the game master makes it “you die if you are killed in game” is because he wants to make this game as close to real life as possible. If he wants it like that, he should have modified the losing limbs game mechanic as well.

      • Inushinde
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

        Pretty much what Eternia said. If the game mimics real life to a large extent, permanent limb damage/loss should be a part of it. It’s a stupid business model as is, might as well go all out.

      • matrixEXO
        Posted September 12, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        I still don’t find a reason why he (Kayaba) would want to do it. His idea was to be a God in the game world, just watching how people react.

        In my own opinion by infering to how he thought of things, making a game very close to real life would just be too boring, and would force someone to mistake it as the real world too. It’s a fake, even the food you eat there does not really equal to real life flavour (which leads to how people like Asuna tries to replicate real life flavour using the taste engine thingy).

        Therefore, the fear of dying was essentially the only thing he implanted into people’s brain. He also never said he wanted to make the game as close to real as possible. That was the original concept that I actually came to understand from even the first episode. Fear of death. Not realism in Online Game. Just the fear of death.

        Later chapters in the novel actually infer that he just wanted to make his dream a reality, a place where he could live in that dream. That was the reason he also never made it very close to reality.

  4. Fumoffu!!
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

    Worse than Accel World? I don’t believe it! Not possible.

    I don’t even watch this but most of this applies to Accel World, especially the Otaku wish fulfillment.

    • Embok
      Posted September 9, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

      Accel World is a parody. Sword Art Online is played 100% straight.

    • Anca
      Posted September 9, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      The MC in Accel World is a fat midget who used to be bullied and has a host of self-confidence issues to work through; due to this, some time before the show, he gave up on reality, retreating – and getting insanely good at – games. Then there’s the main game in Accel World, which has a gimmick where the bigger your issues are, the stronger you can get – that the girl recruited him is therefore entirely natural. His girlfriend is into him because of his actions, because he’s actually an awesome friend, and because they found that they understand each other rather well; the other girl into him, his best friend’s girlfriend, has been his friend for ages.

      On the other hand, the MC of SAO is a blank slate who happens to be awesome at a game he was a beta tester of. He gets a new girl every week. His girlfriend is into him because – uh, I don’t actually have any idea why – because being awesome at a game makes him irresistible?

      If SAO is otaku wish fulfillment masquerading as action/adventure, Accel World is an action(/shonen?) masquerading as otaku wish fulfillment (because money).

      • Inushinde
        Posted September 10, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

        Accel World has a damn shoddy plot, but at least the world outside of Haru’s bitching is paid attention to. That’s always endeared it to me to an extent, which Sword Art Online hasn’t really capitalized on despite being better able to. Oh well.

  5. Embok
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

    1. Blood-C was great. Can’t wait to buy it and the movie.

    2. I was expecting Klein to be the one who saved Kirito, using the limited time revival item from a while back. It would have been less repetitive than surviving with 1 HP yet again, and it could have had an interesting impact on the plot – not only can Kirito dual wield, but there are also rumours that he doesn’t die when he is killed. With that, the show could have taken the whole ‘beater’ thing from ep 2 to the extreme. Instead we ended up with Kirito and Asuna getting married in one of the worst anime romances I’ve seen.

    • Inushinde
      Posted September 13, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

      But Asuna had to save her man! How else would Sword Art Online attempt to be engaging? Through actual, well-crafted plot devices and interesting characters?

    • eternia
      Posted September 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      That’s an interesting uptake from someone who hasn’t read the novel. Yup. It will be definitely a better story, if Gary Stu really died, If Kuradeel was smarter and killed him first before the other guy, if Klein and his guild mates came to use that revival item on him within 10 seconds.
      As I said on psgels, my 14 years old self can write better story than this.

  6. BwackNinja
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    IMOUTO is bad, but that’s okay because it never gave you expectations otherwise. You can revel in how bad it is, and thanks to this blog, I can revel in others reveling in how bad it is. SAO actually has a lot going for it… which only makes it worse as you watch it fall flat on its face. I hate to say it, but at least IMOUTO cares that the characters it introduced still exist. SAO failed at even making Klein, the first friend Kirito ever made, who he wanted to stay together with and keep alive, someone you can even pretend to care about and gave him no relevance in the story.

    Bringing up past episodes the way it does is only a feeble forced attempt to make it retroactively good.

    Otaku wish fulfillment is one thing, and I’m okay with that, but I can’t fathom the kind of magnificent bastard capable of making a series only good in theory, making you masochistically wait week after week with all you have to show for it being greater levels of disappointment.

    • Inushinde
      Posted September 13, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I wish I could respond to this in a meaningful way, but all I can offer is hearty agreement. Well done.

  7. elior1
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Permalink

    did they realy did it?becouse even if asuna naked it didnt prove this realy happend.

  8. Xyopq
    Posted September 10, 2012 at 12:57 am | Permalink

    Well, at least the beginning fight scene was all kinds of awesome. That move the Knight used looked a bit like acceleration.

    • Inushinde
      Posted September 13, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      I’ll give you that, the fight scene at the very beginning was the best part of the episode.

  9. Posted September 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    H8ers. Loljk but I’m kind of in shocked with this episode but not necessarily in a good or bad way. The fact that SAO had the audacity to move Kirito and Asuna’s relationship (LNs almost never do this) this fast is an achievment in itself though there’s definitely a lot lacking, character development wise.

    • Posted September 12, 2012 at 1:09 am | Permalink

      If this were the first anime vaguely in its genre to depict an actual relationship advancing it might have been a point in SAO’s favour… but it isn’t.

      If you want to see action/adventure series where people do get into relationships like actual humans, Baccano and Durarara are right there doing it so much better. Even Gurren Lagann had more convincing romantic development. Also; Eureka Seven, Gankutsuou, Steins;Gate, Mawaru Penguindrum, and Spice and Wolf.

      Proper relationships in anime are depressingly uncommon, but they’re not that rare.

  10. Posted September 12, 2012 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    I quite liked the fight between Kirito and the commander, but right after the script turned completely fanfic-like. I felt a bit embarassed watching.

    Homever, I’m still willing to read the light novels, since there are a lot of people like “THE LN IS BETTER I SWEAR” – At least I’ll find funny if both adaptation and original are the same worthless wish-fulfillment stuff.

  11. Noname
    Posted September 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

    Ahahahahahaha… You blogged Blood-C and now you are blogging this show? You have my deepest condolence.

    I didn’t think this show was bad until this episode enlightened me on the matter. I so regret continuing to watch this show out of some mild curiosity. Almost every episode feels devoid of content. 20 minutes passes whilst I watch this show and I feel like I watched 10 minute of content.

    *possible spoiler ahead*

    Kuradeel just blows my mind. Kirito bested him in one duel, thus “shaming” him publicly. And he decides the best way to repay him for that slight is by killing him. Wow. Boy, that sure escalated quickly. He also killed an innocent man and said he was “forced” to do so because of Kirito. Wow… just wow. This guy is a genius.

    And what Asuna does after this near-death experience? She want to get it on with Kirito. They are acting like nothing happened. They continue being lovely-dovely. It’s not like they almost died to that lunatic and saw one of their guildmates die. Oh wait, they did. -.-

    • tubehunter
      Posted September 13, 2012 at 2:35 am | Permalink

      One of my guild mate died!
      Oh no, you killed somebody in my stead!
      What? You are asking me to comfort you tonight?
      Let’s do it! Let’s do it!
      The dead people? Pffft. To hell with them.

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