29 CommentsSword Art Online / By Inushinde /

Sword Art Online Episode 25: Freedom!

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Finally, the show acknowledges the hard work of all the viewers who had to endure it.

After the horrible penultimate episode, I was expecting Sword Art Online to spend its last few breaths sprawled in a gutter before finally shitting itself and submitting to the powerful jaws of a thousand nettlesome rats. To say that it was the worst thing I’ve seen all year would be a disservice to every other anime, including certain proto-Key adaptations that are roughly as pain-free as dry ice Ultimate Frisbee. That was simply on another plane of existence, a Lovecraftian horror descended from the darkest depths of space to teach humanity a lesson in complacency.

So imagine my face when the finale isn’t the final shuddering bowel movement in Sword Art Online’s agonizing death spiral, only a 24 minute reminder that there were once interesting characters before the pheromones leaking from Kirito’s dual swords sent every woman within fifty miles barreling in his general direction, at the horrible cost of their personalities. Overall it ended on a decent, inoffensive note, but that didn’t keep me from pausing 50+ times to do more interesting things, like check my bank account, watch Bloody Stream again and again, or try to find animals in paint bubbles on the wall.

Before it actually gets watchable again though, what remains of the show’s strengths have to be maimed beyond repair. The final confrontation between Kirito and Sugou is less the ultimate, desperate struggle between good and evil than it is a kid beating up a guy whose depth perception has been wrecked by a ga- okay, again, who the fuck puts a pain slider in a game that goes down to fucking zero? Fucking really? Anyway, it’s not so much a fight as it is two idiots launching flimsy jabs at each other in a hospital parking lot set to needlessly dramatic music, before Kirito runs inside to visit his girlfriend and SOMEHOW NOT GET THAT CUT ON HIS ARM CHECKED, HOLY FUCK THAT THING WAS BLEEDING COPIOUSLY. They have a tearful reunion and everyone congratulates Kirito for being an unrepentant tool some time later. For fun, here’s a better parking lot fight that was intended to be funny, but had more gravity than anything SAO could summon.

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Finally, things end by reinforcing the story’s bizarre fascination with MMOs, Kirito uploading the virtual seed that he acquired from the Ghost of Deus Ex Machina Past to the internet for all to use, building an intricate web of MMOs that has no consequence on anything else whatsoever. Granted, it’s the least stupid aspect of the series, but it adds little but an extraneous side detail that’s nice to know, but doesn’t abide by any strain of logic present in reality. Also, it’s great how Asuna returns to the game that she was mentally kept imprisoned in, because why not?

Funny enough, the whole conclusion is rather inconsequential. Our characters have no tangible growth, Kirito’s development actually stemming from his regression from overpowered to most likely still overpowered, but under the guise of starting off from scratch. The finale of Sword Art Online could have just been the three minute game of Happy Slaps in the parking lot followed by Kirito embracing Asuna and it would have had the same woeful poignancy.

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Fuck this show was bad. It was an inexcusable, abhorrent string of clichés and horrible characters, saved only by the occasional decent spell when nothing related to the plot was going on. Nonetheless it was (mostly) a joy to cover, and I’m glad that I was able to stick with it for its entirety. To those who stuck with me throughout my constant whinging, thank you. To those who didn’t, though I don’t know why you’d be reading this post, fair enough. Merry Christmas to all, and to all no more Sword Art Online… at least until season two descends from the heavens when the stars are next in alignment. Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Kawahara Reki Sword Art Online wgah’nagl fhtagn.

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29 Comments

  1. edromeoto
    Posted December 25, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    What a surprise, it’s over and you’re glad.

    Now, I haven’t seen SAO myself so I can’t argue whether you’re right or wrong or what, but all I can say is that, frankly speaking, these recaps weren’t really helpful at all in terms of proving your point. Really, I know you’re trying to strike a self-deprecating tone by thanking readers for sticking with your constant whining, but the unfortunate fact is that, in the end, that’s all it amounted to. For the most part we learned very little about why SAO was so bad, beyond overuse of the word “horrible” (yet another thing nerds have ruined).

    I find whining amusing, which is why I stuck with you to the end (you’re welcome), but you should work on the whole “insight and analysis” part of animu bloggan’ if you intend to be a credit to this site. Perhaps you can make it a new year’s resolution?

    • edromeoto
      Posted December 25, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      I mean, maybe it was just so bad that it shortcircuited your critic powers, since you’ve done a better job with other shows, but in that case you should’ve dropped it. Sure, I’d be denied the amusement of watching someone write about something he hates so much, but at least you’d, I dunno, have saved yourself a half-hour each week that could’ve been used recapping something better.

      • Inushinde
        Posted December 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

        I had fun writing this stuff, which is the reason why I stuck with it. I assume that “extraneous and inconsequential” should be good enough to describe why the finale of Sword Art Online kind of flopped, even if it didn’t achieve the heights of idiocy that it’d tried so hard to reach before. Granted, it was buried under a ton of half-baked analogies, but I looked it over and thought I made my point as to why it was dreadful, though it can’t be helped that it recaps several things that I said in earlier posts without actually hinting at the show itself.

        I completely agree that this show had absolutely no analytical value, aside from how far it was from being something that I could write a good analysis for. Dropping it would have been smart, especially since it used up everything good in the first half, which I thought I covered quite well. It’s kind of difficult to find new complaints when the last half could be summed up in roughly 40% of the actual runtime.

        I’m not disregarding your points at all; in fact they have quite a lot of merit. Under normal circumstances, this would have been dropped and replaced with something much better. Sometimes it’s just fun to write posts like these, and they bring traffic to the sight like nobody’s business. Bleh, sorry for how long this comment was.

      • fathomlessblue
        Posted December 25, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

        Dude, you realise that the The Cart Driver is the home of awful anime worship, right? See the Who is Imouto & Terribad video reviews for further proof. Some of us love to torture ourselves by watching guff like Sword Art Online, because at the end of the day, misery loves company!

      • shengar
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:40 am | Permalink

        So SAO only worth is for bash material?

      • Edromeoto
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:51 am | Permalink

        Oh, I know, but proper worship of the terribad is more than just finding lengthier, non-all-caps ways to say “It sucks”. Otherwise what’s written has no more worth than an especially lengthy youtube comment.

  2. Posted December 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Such a failed character, this Gary Stu. Oh, calling him a character itself is an insult to all bad character out there. While I definitely don’t like him, I don’t really hate him too. He’s just an air. When he’s suffering and crying and contemplating, I yawned to tears and grabbed my drink. When he’s supposed to having his tearful reunion, my vision strayed to my web browser instead.
    Why are you showing us these cardbox dolls interacting each other, A-1 pictures? Oh, it’s over? Maybe not.

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

      Exactly. He doesn’t elicit any emotion stronger than slight distaste. At least there’s a respite.

  3. Posted December 25, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for watching this show so that I wouldn’t have to. xD But it has been fun reading your detailed descriptions of how bad this show is, for sure.

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 25, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

      And thank you for reading.

  4. fathomlessblue
    Posted December 25, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    “If you give into your impulses online, the price is that it changes your personality in real world” – Kirito ep19

    So why he could happily cut Sugou to ribbons in the game, yet blanched at harming him in that parking lot? I guess it’s just a final reminder of how full of shit Kirito is.

    In all honestly, any fun I had mocking this show vanished about 5 eps back. The whole thing just took too much of a nosedive for me to enjoy ironically; also, Jojo fulfilled my weekly dose of absurdity in a much more satisfying way. So yeah, thanks SAO, it was fun while it lasted I guess. Still, in hindsight I wish I’d just been patient & quietly waited for Phi Brain season 3. Well, at least there were Catgirls.

    • Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:27 am | Permalink

      Phi Brain is totally awesome, don’t you even dare to consider it as a substitute for SAO and the likes!

      • fathomlessblue
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

        I should clarify that Phi Brain is an absurdly dumb show for all the right reasons (well aside the misogyny), whereas SAO is an absurdly dumb show for 12 year olds who think the description ‘elitist gamer’ is something to be proud of. Maybe if it had a mmorpg playing dog…

    • Posted December 26, 2012 at 1:52 am | Permalink

      Shit teenager who went mad over “Whaaaat? The grand quest is a lie, I will make them pay!”
      Until the loli AI reminded him “Papa, papa, saving mama takes priority!”

    • Arbee
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 2:24 am | Permalink

      And apparently the same guy who only wanted to make the SAO/ALO MMO again just to get back his house on the 22nd floor. Kirito is such a compassionate hero.

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 4:11 am | Permalink

      I’d be with you on this, FB, were I actually not blogging it. Still, you stuck by it through thick and hideously thin, and that’s what counts.

  5. Shadow
    Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    now lets wait for Gun Gale Online review on 2013! Damn its gonna be a blast reading those reviews XD

    • shengar
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 12:43 am | Permalink

      Gary Stu brings a lightsaber to a gun fight
      Oh my, this one plot armor so big it turned into plot mecha

      • matrixEXO
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:43 am | Permalink

        HAHAHAHAHA!

      • Cirith
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:52 am | Permalink

        Is that a a joke or does he really suddenly get a mecha when he needs it? I can’t tell with this series.

      • Shengar
        Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:28 am | Permalink

        Considering the big plot armor+weapon this Gary Stu have, I wouldn’t surprised if he really GET one mecha when he needs it.

        In a medieval fantasy online game

  6. Posted December 26, 2012 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Please blog the second season when it comes out.

  7. Posted December 26, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Permalink

    I would still argue the first season is mediocre-to-average in terms of quality, but this second season was truly awful pretty much the whole way through.

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 26, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

      I’d argue the exact same. I mean I’ll happily concede that the first had a reason for existence, a very clear purpose that wasn’t just to make more money while exerting as little effort as possible.

  8. Shikamaru
    Posted December 27, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    This is probably going to be a long rant, but I decided to say my opinion.
    This is the best virtual reality/RPG thing ever made IMO, yet it still sucks ass.
    Sword Art Online was probably the most anticipated game in history because how realistic it was. So nerds would have preordered this game in like 10 seconds. Because this is their wet dream.
    Most of the players would have been socially awkward nerds, or lets be fair at least 50%. There wouldn’t be any cute/loli kids or hot middle aged women. Pretty much everyone you see is very good socially and very good looking too. That is why this idea will NEVER work. Because we can’t have “normal” looking people in movies or anime.
    What would you do after the announcement that if you die in a game you die in real life? Would you go fighting or would you go chilling? There will ALWAYS be bugs/glitches in video games. What if you fight that lvl 1 boar and die because it becomes immortal suddenly. Why would you take that risk. Nerds know this stuff. They would be scared to do anything.
    Of course there are muscular and beautiful nerds out there, I’m not saying that. But there isn’t a single character that looks like a real nerd.
    Now I can finally get to my main point.
    How awesome would a realistic version be? At first people are afraid to talk to each other, but day by day people would start to talk more and more. They would get friends, their self-esteem would become better, they would really start to enjoy human contact. They get more courage and finally start to fight because they are good friends now. They want to leave this place and have fun in real world.
    Other option would have been to leave the mirror thing away. Kirito and Asuna would have found each other again and fall in love. But they would never know if they are telling the truth. Kirito meets Asuna for the first time in real life but she turns out to be guy. But Kirito doesn’t care because he is in love. And they get together. Some might say that this idea is really stupid but I find it touching. And this is coming from a guy who dropped No. 6 because it was too gay.
    And again the anime is as good as it can be. The idea is just really bad.
    This is my own (stupid) opinion. Didn’t like this series at all. Now I feel better.
    Genshiken did nerds pretty well and it was really fun series.

  9. Multifish
    Posted December 28, 2012 at 1:08 am | Permalink

    Sooo… What you’re saying is, I should watch the series?

  10. Reiner
    Posted December 30, 2012 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    WELL FUCK YOU WRITER. HAHA. CAN YOU INSTEAD, WRITE US A MORE BEAUTIFUL ANIME STORYLINE? IT SEEMS YOU KNOW A LOT ABOUT ANIME HUH…

    • Inushinde
      Posted December 30, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      Apocalypse Zero already beat me to it, sorry. :(

  11. anon
    Posted December 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    its a MMORPG anime, it was expected to suck, have you even seen ragnarok the animation? SAO would’ve been like baccano compared to that.

    I’m proud to say that I was there all the way from the start, I know my opinion doesn’t matter but for what its worth, I enjoyed reading your rants about the series even though we may have had different opinions about it.

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