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.