21 CommentsSword Art Online / By Inushinde /

Sword Art Online Episode 16: Miracle Fairy Train

Contrary to what you might think about him literally spending every moment of 2+ years in an MMO and returning to the real world an atrophied mess with the girlfriend that he made in-game being held hostage in another game by a one-dimensional villain with his eyes on the family fortune prize, Kirito doesn’t have a lot going for him. This has understandably left him with residual guilt, him being unable to help those close to him despite actually being perfectly capable of doing so. With the pain of being unable to help the girl that he loves threatening to smother him like a bleak snowstorm, he’s turned to another MMO in the vain hope of finding his long lost love—the only evidence of her existence in the game being the threats of a dumb asshole, and a convenient, super grainy photo.

The many mournful hours that he’s spent marathoning The Crow while listening to The Cure have blended together in a grey-ish black blur, so much so that his apparent infatuation with both has manifested in his Alfheim Online character taking on the elf-eared appearance of  Brandon Lee in Crow makeup and an equally made-up Robert Smith. It would almost be tragic if it weren’t so gut-burstingly, fairy-stabbingly (unintentionally) hilarious.

Not including Yui’s return to life in the same fashion as a brine shrimp, which accounts for approximately the seventy-billionth miracle in the show to date, the number of clichés crammed into the episode serve as a stark reminder that the worst part of Sword Art Online is the bog-standard writing, which eschews several chances to make Kirito into more than an unlikable, whiny bitch with a fondness for black clothing in favor of giving him virtually no development in the journey from the soul-sucking world of an MMO to… the soul-sucking world of another MMO with fairies and distressed damsels in cages. That’s hardly a compliment for a fucking novel adaptation.

Specifically, the transfer of Kirito’s skills from Sword Art Online to Alfheim Online almost entirely intact (no dual wielding; I mean he’s not perfect, after all), wasted the potential for Fairy Robert Smith to show any kind of vulnerability, something that he sorely lacked in Sword Art Online, when he did nothing but angst at shit betwixt stabbing it. Yes, it’s explained relatively well to a point and isn’t necessarily specific to Kirito for once, but the fact that it’s even in the story is more of a copout ass-pull than a smart detail. It completely ruins any sense of struggle that Kirito has when the only Alfheim Online concept that he has problems with is the flying, and even that isn’t used for anything more than comic effect, in a vain effort to make him less of a prick.

I know I’ve thrown around “author insert” quite a bit when writing these posts, especially since the episodes somehow manage to outdo each other, but the difference between penning a story that you think others will enjoy and dribbling one from the least functional part of your brain is obvious, and it’s abundantly clear that Sword Art Online is aiming to be the latter when it keeps pulling bullshit like this and the fight scene at the end of the episode. It’s a missed opportunity to insert some semblance of development, rather than have a douche in a black coat and grey face paint shamble from Point A to Point B with no change in between. Static characters are fine in (intentionally) comedic shows, but the comic effect doesn’t go away when we’re actually expected to CARE for these walking, talking slabs of rebar.

And that’s all that Kirito is: a shuffling chunk of emotionless concrete in a black trench coat, flawed in that very “Hollywood” way that only solidifies his status as the apex of the MMO player. And the result couldn’t be any more delightfully awful.

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  1. fathomlessblue
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    That first paragraph had me in stitches!

    I love how SAO’s grand idea to turn this ridiculous mess around was to introduce a character containing two creepy, family-based otaku fetishes in one (the cousimouto!), and to turn Kirito into emo Peter Pan, complete with loli tinkerbell.

    Sword Art Online: comedy of the year!

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 3:01 am | Permalink

      I think Guilty Crown has a contender for its crown… of guilt.

  2. Posted October 22, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    >In-game flight requires use of a controller in one of the player’s hands at all times.
    >Several characters use two-handed swords, spears, and shields in combat while flying.

    Thank goodness Sword Art Online is super consistent with its game mechanics!

    • matrixEXO
      Posted October 22, 2012 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      The reason why he was called Newbie was cause he was using the flight stick. Seasoned ALO players can fly without it. (Spoiling this much should be alright, right?)

    • Anonymous
      Posted October 22, 2012 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      The controller was mentioned to be an assist controller. It assists flying, but obviously is not required. Not that big a leap of logic I would say.

      • Inushinde
        Posted October 25, 2012 at 3:02 am | Permalink

        The logic itself is sound enough, the implementation’s just really lazy.

  3. Arbee
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Yeah, this is generally the anime version of “Do you Want to Date my Avatar?”

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 3:03 am | Permalink

      Except the avatar is always in black and has the personality of damp driftwood.

    • Arbee
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 4:02 am | Permalink

      Well, it still works either way. Kirito got all them babes.

  4. Soliloquy
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 11:05 am | Permalink

    Damn I was basically going to say the same thing the funny guy say but ninja’d. Pretty much the only reason I come here is because I enjoy reading your SAO review blog. Sounds like you are having so much fun writing this.

    Well by the looks of it, it doesn’t really seem to take itself seriously presumably writer might have noticed the sheer ridiculousness of the plot. It might try inserting a new character, and tragedy but NHK ni Youkoso this is not. While there’s still not much information about the main character himself, he resembles Satou a bit in terms of a personality how he seems reluctant to meet new people unless it’s a girl.

  5. elior1
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 12:17 pm | Permalink

    it just my guess since i didnt read the alo arc in the novel but i think the blond girl is his sister in the real life

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 3:04 am | Permalink

      That would sure add another layer of hilarity to it all.

  6. elior1
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    alo doesn’t have sword skills like Kirito’s Star Stream Burst, instead all attacks are just swings or attacks which the user knows them selves for example lets say they do kendo so they can use that knowledge in the game.stats not exist in this game but skills yes.alo only took the skills Kirito had from SAO that matched with similar skills in its system.and that the diffrence of it from sao

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 3:05 am | Permalink

      It’s still the writer throwing up his arms and saying “fuck it, I’ll just do the same thing over again. Not like anybody reads this for the character development, anyway.”

  7. eternia
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Why does he want to wear black coat so much? Even during real life! BTW, seeing that ‘mama and papa’ creature once again makes me want to hit the screen.

    • Posted October 22, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

      Because once you go black, you never go back?

      • matrixEXO
        Posted October 22, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        I thought it was “Back in Black”? AC/DC much?

  8. Mr. Anon
    Posted October 22, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    So Kirito spent 2 years in an MMO where death was actual death, traumatised by all the friends needlessly dying, by himself almost dying, and the love of his life being in a coma because of it still … and the first thing he does when he enters version 1.1 of that MMO is cut up 3 random dudes. Yes, this one doesn’t have actual death, but you’d think that someone with Kirito’s background would at least have some fucking reservations! This is the guy who didn’t want to use NPCs as bait for crying out loud.

    • Adrian
      Posted October 22, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Permalink

      It would have been fun seeing players using NPCs to lure monsters in the first arc. Unfortunately, this show is fond of missing potentially interesting storylines. I wonder what the NPCs were for, since players could work in stores and craft weapons without any need of them.

  9. Moomba
    Posted October 23, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    no dual wielding; I mean he’s not perfect, after all

    I have some bad news for you…

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 25, 2012 at 3:07 am | Permalink

      Oh dear, I’m not looking forward to it.

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