12 CommentsSword Art Online / By Inushinde /

Sword Art Online Episode 13: Fishing Guy is the Hero That Sword Art Online Deserves

“Sword Art Online” and “good” aren’t two things you’d expect to see in the same sentence from this site after a dozen episodes that run the gamut from decent to inexorable shit. While I’d hardly brand the show with something as positive as “good” after this episode, I will say that it’s a shaky, unsteady step in the right direction. Asuna is somehow not an annoying, overly-clingy fruit loop who only pulls out her sword to ward off such accusations, and Kirito finally no longer inspires hushed respect in the men and haremization in the women around him. All it’d need to do at this point is give Kirito the axe, make Fishing Guy the protagonist, and retroactively deny the existence of Yui, and I’d call it a definite contender for not-worst-show of the year.

In contrast to my usual habit of decrying everything that the show does wrong, I think this is such an exceptional situation that it’s best to praise what it did well, aside from looking nice. To start with, it did away with the focus on the rancid romance between Kirito and Asuna; while it unfortunately still has a presence, it’s less an omnipresent cloud of horrible writing than a shriveled houseplant left to wither in a corner. Usurping its position, in plain sight with little opposition and a gleeful smirk, is that ever-faithful storytelling gem of a catalyst. No longer are Kirito and Asuna playing house, they’re actually out doing stuff that will most likely lead to their eventual departure from the game! And by “doing stuff”, I mean stabbing giant skeletal centipede things, which is all the intellectual stimulation I ever asked for in this show.

Surprisingly enough, the best part of this episode isn’t the surprisingly well-directed fight toward the end, or the temporary neutering of the cheesy romance subplot, but the way that the two are reluctant to leave what they perceive to be their ideal world together. It’s the closest they’ve ever come to believably loving each other, and the only decent piece of world-building that SAO’s developed in the past several episodes. Yeah, the characters thinking that their bodies will eventually waste away to nothing is hardly the most valid reason to exit the game, especially given undoubted improvements in medical technology, but I’ll take any kind of decent motivation where I can get it.

I’ve been holding off on gushing about Fishing Guy, but I’m afraid I can’t any longer; he’s simply the greatest, deepest character that this show has ever had. Everything from his creepy grin, to his equally creepy face, to the fact that he wouldn’t be averse to spending the rest of his life fishing for virtual trout rather than resume his job in meatspace, makes him the most realistic person in the entirety of the Sword Art Online world. If I could rewrite the show from the very beginning, I would make Fishing Guy the protagonist, and Kirito one of the Red Shirts that gets sliced up by the boss toward the end of this episode. Either that or one of the two thousand that dies in the first month or so, whichever is less sympathetic toward him.

It’s hardly a series of great achievements here, but this is the closest that SAO’s felt to matching the promise set forth by the first episode. That’s a low bar to meet, but the important thing is that it did meet those expectations for the first time in I don’t know how long. Will Sword Art Online actually approach the realm of decency yet again? Probably not, but it’s worth hoping for.

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12 Comments

  1. Erif
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I have a level sixty fisherman character on my WoW account. I use him all the time, he’s my favorite. He’s got the best skills for drawing aggro, like Lure and Bait & Switch.

  2. eternia
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 2:42 am | Permalink

    Make fisherman the protagonist, Klein and his friends as the support characters, and kill of Kirito who has a stupid grin on his face most of the time, as he looks down on low level players and thinks they are stupid and no match for him.
    :-)

    Wait, there are fisherman class in WoW? It’s really uncommon. But then again, I haven’t played MMORPG for years.

    • Erif
      Posted October 1, 2012 at 5:21 am | Permalink

      Yeah that was me blatantly mocking this show.

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 3:55 am | Permalink

      Fishing Guy has more charisma than Kirito, Klein, and every other character combined, and any further inclusion of him and his wacky fishing exploits would be welcome.

  3. Adrian
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    Maybe it’s just me, but I thought Kirito looked more human in this episode. Small things like running away from that fish, saying he will “protect everyone” and then dismissing that sentence 5 minutes later with the “I’ll ignore the party and protect Asuna”. And hurray for the fisherman! I was rather disappointed with the other blogs because they did not mention the best supporting character up-to-date. He should have gotten his own spot in the opening.

  4. SENSEISHUN
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    I’m either incredibly simpled minded or have horrible taste in anime, but i have enjoyed like 80% of SAO episodes.

    • Mr. Anon
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 1:39 am | Permalink

      I’m not sure if this is the case for anyone else, but for me ‘fun’ and ‘good’ are partially independent qualities. SOA is a pretty dumb show with horrible lack of character development, abysmal pacing, and no sense of where it wants to take the narrative. But I’m still having fun watching it.

      • Inushinde
        Posted October 4, 2012 at 3:56 am | Permalink

        No problem with enjoying this show. Hell, aside from the terrible Yui arc, I was certainly never bored watching!

  5. elior1
    Posted October 1, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    i cant wait to see what you will say after you will watch the next episode event this will be somthing good to see

  6. BIYM
    Posted October 4, 2012 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Not sure if there will ever be an anime that will live up to your standards… That said all your ratings are just your opinion so I guess if anyone doesn’t watch an anime because of your review they are idiots? Pretty much the same with everything else in the world though : P

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 4, 2012 at 3:59 am | Permalink

      If somebody at least takes what I have to say to heart before/after watching, that’s lovely. If they don’t, no harm done.

  7. Times
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Personally, I enjoy SAO. It definitely has its flaws though. Sometimes, I think I watch it because of its flaws. I sit down and say to myself, “Lets see how they screwed it up this time.” I will say that I hated the Yui ark and loved this episode.

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