22 CommentsSword Art Online / By Inushinde /

Sword Art Online Episode 8: Asuna’s Knife Games

When reading other peoples’ thoughts on Sword Art Online, many of the points can be boiled down to one of three broad, all-encompassing summaries: Either the person’s played MMOs in the past and thus at least likes the occasional references, they’ve played MMOs but don’t find the periodic winks and nods enough to save it from falling into the trap of drudgery, or they have had nothing to do with MMOs and have plenty of gripes all the same. I belong firmly in the second category, having tried my hand at a few MMOs but never finding much relatable to my experience in this show.

But finally there’s a cooking episode, where my favorite near-vestigial game feature is given a rare moment to shine and Asuna once again threatens Kirito with cutlery. Hell, I’m willing to say she’s my favorite character just because she hurts or threatens Kirito on a semi-regular basis, and if cutlery-based threats are a recurring element in the light novels, it might even make it worth my time to give them a read.

In my last post, I took a moment to ask the readership what they saw in Asuna when she just seemed to check every trait off the spunky, free-spirited love interest checklist. That may not have been entirely fair to her character, because I’ll be damned if she doesn’t carry this episode, and not just because she’s as fed up with Kirito’s tough guy act as I am. Yes, she’s still somewhat bland when compared to the whole spectrum of anime characters, but in a show like this where the characters seem to spend their time either brooding or falling for the inexplicably perfect lead, she manages to really carve a niche for herself. Or at least she does until she inexplicably loses her ability to convince others and forces Kirito to defend her from her self-proclaimed guardian, but baby steps.

There’s not much else worth mentioning about the episode. The characters actually discussing their place in the virtual world and how much they’ve integrated was nice, but the content was still ridiculously sparse, the menacing specter of the main plot remaining far out of sight. It’s a little telling regarding the quality and presence of the plot when a little throwaway side story about Asuna making Kirito a meal from a rare drop is probably one of the highlights of the series so far, though admittedly, that might also be my inexplicable love for cooking features talking.

So yeah, good cooking bit, slightly worse Asuna defense bit. It’s not a great position to be in, but the writing’s been far worse than this.

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22 Comments

  1. Kenbot
    Posted August 27, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    I have to admit that I found Asuna’s combination of tough-girl, followed by, ‘kyaa~ save me viewer-selfinsert-character’ very appealing. It’s definitely dat gap.

    Also, who the fuck in the production team thought it would be a good idea to cram every side-story bar one into the first half of the series.

    • Inushinde
      Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:32 am | Permalink

      A production team dedicated to preserving stupid ideas, apparently.

  2. Posted August 27, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I personally find Asuna to be the best character in the show; she really balances the whole idea that a girl can be kickass and ‘feminine’ as well, and this episode showed that more than anything. I’ve noticed that the novels have a little more development than the anime, as Asuna went through some sort of near-emotional breakdown in fear of being weak and dying in the virtual world, but then became strong and overcame that weakness. I would have really liked to see that (we only get a glimpse of it in the OP) rather than seeing Kirito the douche who can’t understand anyone at all. I was afraid that the show would be going for the “Woman, make me a sandwich!” but was really pleased when Asuna threateningly pointed the knife at Kirito. Somebody has point out that he’s not the angsty hero that he thinks he is, and that Asuna can perfectly take care of herself. But other than that, yeah, this episode was pretty useless (but still pretty!)

    • Inushinde
      Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      Agreed, if the series showed more of Asuna’s weakness without it contrasting anything we’ve seen before I’d probably feel a little better toward it. Asuna would be great if she had more opportunities to actually do stuff, instead of periodically coincide with Kirito’s story.

  3. Posted August 28, 2012 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    It feels like Asuna would have much more to her if she actually got the chance to do more. The side stories we saw before were all set before the character development I’m sure she was supposed to get, so we couldn’t see what we were supposed to until now. Of course with scenes like that Contractually Obligated Breast Grope, I’m sure she’ll still come off as a bit stereotypical, but it looks like she has a lot to her we haven’t seen yet.

  4. Noname
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    The new design of this website makes my eyes bleed.

    • Posted August 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Agreed… ._.’

      • luffyluffy
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:10 am | Permalink

        scamp no baka

    • Scamp
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      I was on holiday, I’ve got no idea how this happened!

      • Inushinde
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

        Cripes, the hell was that?

      • luffyluffy
        Posted August 29, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

        ahos, the both of you

  5. diz1776
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 1:33 am | Permalink

    Actually the shows plot is in full gear.

    • Posted August 29, 2012 at 2:41 am | Permalink

      So where is it? I think only the last two-three minutes had something that even resembled a plot.

      • Inushinde
        Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

        Well there was plenty of exposition which, to the show’s credit, was actually pretty interesting. Oh well.

  6. eternia
    Posted August 29, 2012 at 5:13 am | Permalink

    The moment that I like best during this episode was when Asuna pointed her knife at Kirito. That expression! That pose!

    But one thing to notice, the director is a bad director. I am disappointed.

    What makes the fight between Kiritsugu and Kirei appealing and cool? Because the anime shows their inner thoughts, how they analyzed each other, and what’s their plan for their next move.

    Gary Stu also do something similar during his duel with Kuradeel. He analyzed that guy from his choice of weaponry, and planned how he can break his weapon. However, they totally simplified it in this anime, so that you would have this reaction, “Huh? That’s it?” This bad directing makes Gary Stu even more Gary Stu, and Kuradeel looks like total pushover, when he’s actually not bad. Also, why is he look like 40 years old man and a living corpse?
    >_>

    • Xenos
      Posted August 29, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      I agree! That knife pointing together with that expression and pose is triggering some memories that I can’t fully visualize. It’s reminding me of another anime that I can’t quite get my fingers on. Does that scene with the knife remind anyone else of a scene in another anime title?

      • Mr. Anon
        Posted September 12, 2012 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

        Most recently, that Haiyore, Nyarlko-san show had the protagonist threaten people with cutlery.

        But I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve seen ten other shows in which something like that happens.

  7. Posted August 29, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    I think I’ll give the LNs a try afterwards.

    • Inushinde
      Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:39 am | Permalink

      Supposedly they’re leagues better than this, so that’s probably a good idea.

  8. Matthew
    Posted August 30, 2012 at 2:30 am | Permalink

    I don’t want to judge Asuna too much for hiding behind Kirito. She’s a teenage girl, and this older guy is following her around being extremely creepy while still having a semi-plausible excuse for his creepy behavior. Lots of real life, confident women have had hard times in situations like that.

    • eternia
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      You can’t compare this to real life.
      – The stalker can’t enter your house or your room no matter what, without your consent.
      – The stalker can’t harm you in any way while in town, without challenging you to a duel.
      – Even outside the town, you are totally stronger than him, and you have Gary Stu with you.

      In real life, even female president or Wonder Woman is afraid of stalker, because the stalker CAN actually harm her.

    • Inushinde
      Posted August 31, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Pretty much what Eternia said. This world doesn’t allow players to endanger others nearly as easily in safe zones. Playing by SAO’s rules, the stalker’s an annoyance at worst. Doesn’t mean that he still isn’t creepy and Asuna should put up with him, but she’s been forceful before without trouble. If it was like the real world, then I wouldn’t feel nearly as bothered by it.

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