12 CommentsSword Art Online / By Inushinde /

Sword Art Online Episode 12: Sad Lolis Crying With Fire Swords


The response toward the latest episode of Sword Art Online has been nothing short of mixed, as it’s been for the past several weeks. It’s reached the point that I can’t help but wonder if SAO is intentionally trying to parody its very concept, given that the writing has little regard for coherency or character development, or if it’s legitimately the result of a brain aneurysm vomited onto a keyboard and left to ferment over several months.

I for one abide by the former explanation, since I can’t think of any other reason why anybody would use Deus Ex Machinas as apparently the only means of conveying significant plot details. To hell with proper character development with actual consequences, Asuna being saved by a somehow sentient computer program before sobbing wetly over its destruction takes priority!

I can’t for the life of me fathom the flimsy logic behind introducing so many interesting concepts while ignoring their impact, only to replace actual development with a little girl throwing up AT fields and pulling hitherto unknown abilities out of her virtual ass. The show does have one thing going for it though: It’s probably the best comedy that I’ve seen all week. I mean how can you not find it quaintly amusing that the show wants us to care for somebody that has less personality than fucking wallpaper paste when she isn’t assuming the role of meat shield and/or living AT field? It just has to be a comedy, and a damn subversive one at that.

I could tolerate a show’s attempt at emotional impact being underwhelming if it at least made an effort. What nails Sword Art Online’s coffin shut is how fucking lazy and clichéd it is. In no reality, virtual or not, do any of the events have any sort of prior context; every single plot detail is awkwardly stitched together with hilariously overwrought drama, the awfulness that is Yui being an albatross on the whole affair. It’s not like it couldn’t be interesting if it tried; after all, the idea behind a psychological program that monitors players’ mental health could have been built on to an interesting conclusion, but instead it’s shoehorned in as a clumsy explanation for Yui having the ability to break the game.

Oddly enough though, what bugs me the most isn’t how Yui is basically a sentient slab of rebar, or how Kirito can hack his way into an admin terminal in less than twenty seconds, it’s that the entire subplot with the army is incredibly underdeveloped. These guys are fleshed out enough that they aren’t just a mindless horde of storm troopers out for their own gain, but their impact on Kirito and Asuna is questionable at best, making their relevance to the plot and our leads equally moot. But then I remember that this is supposed to be a comedy and all inconsistencies are forgiven, as I’m sure they’re completely intentional as a means of somehow parodying itself.

This episode neatly encompasses every major problem with the show as a whole. It has so many neat ideas and concepts that I can’t help but salivate over, but it paradoxically cuts down on meaningful content by focusing on the non-relationship between Asuna, Kirito, and Yui, which is by far the least compelling thing about the series. This is the worst of the worst, the acme of shit, something that’s infuriating not because it’s terrible, but because it could behave been so damn good if the people in charge didn’t just spend the whole time huffing paint and fucking lawn chairs in anticipation of the waves of money that’re inevitably going to roll in.

Though there is hope as SAO succeeds as a comedy where it fails as a drama, so at least those looking for unintentional humor have something to put on the mantle next to Guilty Crown. I like living in a world where that’s possible, so don’t suddenly get good on me, Sword Art Online. Thankfully, I don’t think I have anything to worry about in that department.

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  1. AnimeFraiser
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Wouldn’t it be hilarious if the quality suddenly skyrocketed at the end and it all came together like an inverse Fractale or Occult Academy. Not claiming those were good before the nosedive but they did keep me hoping…unfortunately.

  2. Xyopq
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    It feels like they are trying to fit too much content into not enough episodes. If they took the time to spread out a few points between episodes and gave some time to add personalities to anyone apart from Asuna, then it could be a lot better. It’s kind of like a reverse Shounen in that regard.

    • blackice85
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

      Was going to say the same thing, this feels like a 4 cour show that they’re trying to fit into 2. This is my usual criticism with most shows that introduce so many characters, but it feels particularly obvious here.

  3. Moomba
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    It’s funny how most of the questionable developments can be traced back to the sidestories in volume two of the light novels. On its own, the first volume of SAO was a reasonably good read. Every girl that isn’t Asuna? Side stories tacked on after the fact. There’s some sort of achievement for retroactively degrading the quality of your own work right?

  4. eternia
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Ya. I was deeply touched by some episodes of Binbougami, Kokoro Connect, even the latest episode of Muv Luv Alternative. But it just doesn’t work when it comes to HAO. These characters are as thin as cardboxes. Are we supposed to cry for people who mostly died off-screen? Are we supposed to cry over disappearance of a personality-less loli who had just appeared last week? Yawn~

  5. Adrian
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    Funny. The idea of a program becoming defective over constant exposure to despair and hopelesness plus the inability of doing anything to counter the situation is good by itself. But the plot convenience, oh god. Amidst thousands of players, only Kirito and Asuna had something different from the rest, thus the reason Yui chose them as the perfect suitors for the artifact on which the prophecy was written in archaic language. I seriously think we were supposed to care for the tomboyish girl. Yui did. She even used standard line #84392423. “You smiled!” she said. I’ve never seen such a sentence being handled so badly, even by SAO standards. Not to mention the random guy from episode 2 becoming generic evil power abuser #5823053295, albeit he didn’t even show up in this neighborhood. In the end, this arc was useless (No, it wasn’t! They got rare item “Yui’s tear”!). Too bad SAO’s notion of Angst consists in killing off characters that look important at first sight only for them to come off as rather disappointing red shirts.

    Wait, I think I get the joke now.

    • Inushinde
      Posted September 25, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

      Now you’re catching on. Isn’t it brilliant in how cynical it is toward the concept of killing off characters for no reason?

  6. matrixEXO
    Posted September 25, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    SAO’s animators aren’t doing this justice. At all. Alot of the stuffs that explains what and why are removed just to focus on the Kirito x Asuna pair. Which isn’t bad but it leaves 100% of the people who never read the LN hanging. Even the Laughing Coffin had an intro to it to flesh out the guild as a killer-haven one and really emphasises onto a part of Kirito.

    I really regret not seeing this as a 50-ep one where many more things can be fleshed out and shown to better plug up all the discrepancies in the plot… but at the same time, I’m also thankful since 75% of it, which is 100% omited from the anime, are all backdrops, internal speak and info explanation only. And the 15% that was missing is something that should have been added, even if it goes to up to 30-ep instead. These are the more detailed progression and reasoning behind actions in the form of animation scenes like why Kirito never liked the idea of sacrificing NPCs to beat a boss. The answer being that he treats the people there as real, even NPCs, and therefore despises such acts as it would be seen as the same as indirect PK.

  7. overlyanimated
    Posted September 27, 2012 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    In this case of how they did this. It would have been 100% better if they stuck to the light novel. I thought sword art online was going to be good or at least they made it a little different from the light novel, but all they did was show crap from side stories of the light novel and showing very little to do things with the main story line. For shame SAO anime writers. For shame on you. Accel World was better compared.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted September 29, 2012 at 12:35 am | Permalink

    I was quite impressed with the show until Yui showed up.

  9. booty warrior
    Posted January 14, 2014 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    eat a dick niggaaaaa.

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  • By Kokoro Connect – 12 » Animees on September 25, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    […] komen emoties in Animeland een beetje onoprecht over of hebben ze totaal geen opbouw of aanleiding *kuch*SwordArtOnline*kuchekuch* maar ditmaal werd de moeite die het haar kostte wat mij betreft goed overgebracht. Tenminste, dat […]

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