I cannot even begin to explain just how much trouble I had absorbing the information in this week’s episode. It’s not that it was particularly deep or even obtuse. On the contrary, Sword Art Online’s retained the same basic philosophy when it comes to exposition that it’s had since the beginning: If it doesn’t directly involve Kirito and Asuna living happily ever after as Mr. and Mrs. Perfect, it’s worth little more than a red herring to deceive hopefuls like me into thinking that something of merit will come out of this tangled heap of half-assed “love conquers all boundaries” romance and contrivances. What made this episode such an indigestible slab of concrete was how damn boring it was. I mean I like this show, though maybe not for the intended reasons, but this was hands down the dullest 23 minutes I’ve had to sit through all this week.
To the show’s credit, a few interesting bits do crop up in regards to Suguha embracing the world of ALFheim Online and the freedom that it allows when compared to her regular, less airborne existence. Disregarding the fact that she thought “but wait, Kirito had fun with this, I might too!” immediately after acting understandably wary toward VR technology, it’s probably one of the few story threads that would work as an arc all its own covering one of the only characters left with some degree of a vibrant personality. Yeah, it’d pretty much be a condensed version of Accel World, but there’s something more compelling about Suguha than Haru. Unfortunately, I can’t quite place my finger on why.
Anyway, just like the many other interesting tangents that the story broaches and immediately forgets about, it’s almost immediately tossed aside for essentially twenty minutes of Kirito and Suguha talking about fuck all, and Sugou being repulsive to such a degree that it’s almost comical, the effect amplified by his in game persona’s appearance—a cross between Link and an emaciated businessman. It’s nothing but a retread of the last episode, with none of the overwrought exposition and crashing into ridiculously large towers that made it watchable. And, as I’m sure I’ve stated time and time again, this is not good storytelling, just meaningless padding without the decency to throw anything remotely interesting into the mix. On the plus side though, Kirito makes pelvic thrusting motions, so it’s not all idiots flying with immobile wings and narrowly-avoided incestuous encounters.
I wish I could criticize a bit more, but there’s so little substance to this episode beyond clumsy exposition, and Suguha half-monologuing about how happy she is in the game, that I’ve found all my nits to pick, as obvious as they are. I’d be happy that Asuna’s going to be back to doing her normal thing, but since her normal thing isn’t much different than it’s been with her trapped in a gilded cage, I can’t find anything to be thrilled about there. So have a segment of Look Around You instead, an infinitely more productive waste of time.