29 CommentsSword Art Online / By Inushinde /

Sword Art Online Episode 17: The Best-Laid, Stupidest Plans of Fairyan Supermen

It always pains me when a show so thoroughly dumb as Sword Art Online manages to stem the tide of bleach flooding into its stupid, stupid mouth and begins to incorporate some semblance of logic into the messy string of giblets that’s the closest thing it has to a plot. When things are actually explained and characters are made to be remotely likable, I feel like I’ve been the victim of a betrayal on par with my best friend eloping with my favorite, fluffiest cat that purrs at the slightest provocation. After most of this episode showed remarkable sobriety and restraint in comparison to what was previously on display, I thought that my worst fears would be realized and I’d have absolutely nothing to gripe about with this episode.

And then, as if at the loving hands of a drunken, manic-depressive angel, my fears were immediately assuaged as I was bombarded by cheap villainy and plot devices so unholy, so perverse, that they would make even the least spiritual of viewers reach for steel wool and the nearest vial of holy water to thoroughly scrub their eyes with.

Most of this episode made me anxious by showcasing Kirito getting to know the world of ALFheim Online. The majority of the exposition is presented in a reasonably engaging fashion, i.e. with Kirito flying face-first into giant fairy monoliths, so I can’t fault it too much for nothing of relevance actually happening. Hell, even the realization that Leafa is Kirito’s fake-sister was comically-timed enough to keep from feeling too contrived. In short, there’s nothing interesting to talk about here, and I was worried that’d keep up for the entirety of the episode’s run. Thankfully, the show’s proven itself perfectly able of ruining even the most poignant and well-executed moments with little effort, assuring that I will never ask “can a show ruin itself in only five minutes?” ever again.

I’ve talked at length before about how stupidly villainous Sugou is, and how apparently nobody notices that he seems just a little too eager to marry Asuna and become formally adopted by her family. Whether it was the result of sloppy writing (most likely) or intentional vagueness (improbable as fuck), I managed to string together several explanations for Sugou’s obscene levels of pointless dickishness beyond “he likes Asuna and stuff”.

The best possible reason I could think of for him being so unrepentantly evil is that he was in it for money, and the possibility of inheriting Asuna’s family fortune should anybody else suffer from a fatal case of death, be it by accident or otherwise. Hell, that would not only be downright sinister, but it would make an iota of sense! There would finally be stakes, with Asuna’s very life on the line, and Kirito would have a reason to actually jump into the game to save her, rather than pursue less roundabout means of detaining Sugou and saving his girlfriend. Oh how naïve I was in those comparatively halcyon days, to believe that thought of all things actually went into crafting this storyline.

To be clear, Sugou isn’t some kind of budding risk to the world that needs to be crushed before he can cause real harm. Already, he’s abducted the minds of several hundred returnees from Sword Art Online and crafted virtual identities for them in ALFheim. He not only has the ability to manipulate their world at will, but can also (supposedly) rewire their personalities as he sees fit. If he really wanted to, he could erase Asuna’s memory, make her believe that she loves him, and end this abomination of a story before it really begins. That would be if he was a smart asshole, without virtual fairy hair sucking nutrients from his brain.

Unfortunately, this is the real world; cows go moo, Arby’s somehow still has chains across America, and Kawahara Reki builds stories and character motivations with the competence of a normal, comatose individual. So not only do we know that Sugou has this ability that essentially places him one step away from the finish line before the race even begins, but he even tells this to Asuna before following up with “like me more when I get back next so I can fondle your tits.” And he doesn’t even follow up on it, so either he’s massively bluffing for no real gain, or he’s the single worst person in history at being a villain, and somehow wants Asuna to believe that he wants to marry her for her rich, vibrant personality rather than her family’s status.

The last five minutes of this episode are insulting to anybody with a pulse, and I’m sure even children who’ve been isolated from the outside world for most of their upbringing could think of a better villain than this tool. The worst part is, the entire ordeal is unabashedly entertaining from start to finish, in the worst, least intentional possible way.

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  1. Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    I think he’ll be doing us all a favor if he actually DID overwrite Asuna’s memories and gave her some resemblance of a personality.

  2. elior1
    Posted October 28, 2012 at 10:04 am | Permalink

    he not only can change her memories but also all pepoles emontions and also like he said in this episode he do human expriments on real pepoles

  3. elior1
    Posted October 28, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    also when you will see what will be his fate you will think it better end then kayba battle

  4. eternia
    Posted October 28, 2012 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    Oh yeah. He should just brainwash Asoona. Fuck her silly. Make her his bitch. Give her the best gears in Alfheim. And make her the final boss that Gary Stu and his blonde bombshell has to defeat. I would totally buy that! Not this Scooby Doo villain and plot.

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 28, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Honestly, anything would be better than this. It isn’t even a Scooby Doo-level plot.

      • R1CK_D0M
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

        Dude you don’t know what I would give to have kirito chased up the world tree by sugou before he goes, “THE VILLAIN IS YOU” and umasks him, revealing someone more interesting only pretending to be sugou.

        And then sugou will say “and I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for these meddling kids and that darn pixie” and then yui will laugh and overeat.

        at the end everything returns to normal as we pan to a shot of MC kun and gang at some sort of teenage hotspot drinking milkshakes and doing teenage things at a teenage shindig, like dancing.

    • Arbee
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 4:38 am | Permalink

      I’d buy that plot too. In fact, Kirito vs Asuna final duel sounds lightyears more interesting than what we got now (and what the LN offered)

  5. Posted October 28, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    He can keep Asuna. Suguha is the way to go.

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 28, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

      Most people would be better than Asuna, to be fair.

  6. Vince
    Posted October 28, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Who knows maybe the twist at the end is that Asuna is really the final boss acting as a lover to Gary Stu this whole time.

    • eternia
      Posted October 28, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Sorry. You know most of us have read the LN. So….

  7. fathomlessblue
    Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    I just don’t think you understand the nuance & subtle brilliance of Sugou’s character. He’s evil, so he does evil things! EVIIIIIIL! Maybe the writer should have given him a Nobunaga mustache to make this more clear.

  8. Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    Another thing which made zero sense is how Kirito’s IMOUTO cousin didn’t even know his in-game handle. Like, my god, even the MASTER OF ALL EVIL, OBERON knew it.

    You would think that the media would spread the name of a hero who saved for four thousand people, or that Kirito would have told her by now, but no.

    • liberatedliberator
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:10 am | Permalink

      There’s an explanation for that in the novel: Kirito’s name in SAO was written in katakana, so he changed it to the kanji form for ALO so he won’t be recognized. Still a bit stupid, but it’s an explanation nonetheless.

      • R1CK_D0M
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

        I thought he changed it to the english/romaji spelling.

    • Aftiel
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 3:16 am | Permalink

      If they end up adapting the arc following this one, you’ll see why releasing player names from SAO would have been a bad idea.

  9. Posted October 28, 2012 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    The worst thing about a villain like this is the knowledge that we’re stuck with him for the rest of the series. He’s still going to be that same smug asshole eight episodes from now, and the series is perfectly okay with that.

    • Posted November 4, 2012 at 3:22 am | Permalink

      Pretty much, yeah. That’s the least of the series’ problems too, which is kind of sad.

  10. TenkayboFa
    Posted October 28, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t know why I keep coming to your site. You are one of the most pretentious asshole reviewers I have ever seen. You are sometimes like the Rotten Tomatoes of anime, in that I can’t help but wonder if they actually enjoy the movie medium when they raise arguments that aren’t just heaping praise. I wonder if you’re actually an anime fan or if you’re only an asshole.

    • Inushinde
      Posted October 28, 2012 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

      Edited for grammar and spelling. If you’re going to bitch and moan, at least do it in a way that doesn’t insult whoever has to read your comment.

      And I don’t know if you actually read up to “this is unabashedly entertaining from start to finish”, but I do enjoy this. It’s such a mess that I can’t help but find it enjoyable, and in turn find the hype baffling. Criticizing shows in the medium doesn’t equate to disliking it. Subpar writing should be addressed when it rears its ugly head, like it does here.

  11. elior1
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    @NUSHINDE you will lough very much and not believe it when you will see how kirito will finish this guy.you will love this battle that much that you will wirte possitive review about it

  12. anon
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:06 am | Permalink

    Heh, While I don’t agree with most of the things pointed out in these posts, I do come back every week just to see what inushinde would rant about in each new episode.

    Most of the observations/plot holes pointed out are accurate though, but despite that, I still enjoy the series and inushinde’s rants about it. Yeah, I’m weird.

    • Posted November 4, 2012 at 3:22 am | Permalink

      No problem with enjoying it without irony. :)

  13. Zetz
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    I read the novels, and while I won’t spoil how this arc ends… I will say that its some overly contrived bullshit. The worst part is that Kirito never stops being a Gary Stu at any point. I swear, its like the author had a crush on his own main character or something.

    Even at the times when Kirito is powered down, he’s always the resident badass of the series. In the next arc after this ALO nonsense they introduce a futuristic gun themed MMO. But no guns for Kirito he just grabs a lightsaber and goes to town. I stopped reading about there, can’t imagine spending time watching it.

    • Arbee
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      I still did not believe they haven’t changed the main title to “Kirito Online” yet.

      In fact, the entire premise of the show revolves around how incredibly badass wonderful Kirito is and how everyone around him makes a reaction to it. And while there is someone stronger than him, she then just gets killed off because no one wants competition and was never mentioned again.

      • R1CK_D0M
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

        Not to mention his passive ability that ensures no woman can stay dry in his presence.

  14. PFCSOL
    Posted October 30, 2012 at 3:12 am | Permalink

    Maybe I was more annoyed about this than my peer anime watchers as an active duty American serviceman, but the shoehorned anti-americanism struck me as both entirely obvious from the moment the word ‘nations’ was mentioned and entirely unnecessary. Maybe it’s there to tap into the weird wave of Japanese nationalism that pervades a lot of recent anime, but speaking personally, it was an extra cherry of obnoxiousness to top off a series already burdened with serious character, plot, and thematic issues.

    • eternia
      Posted October 30, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

      The scooby doo villain is selling his research to EA Games. Just kidding.

    • Posted November 4, 2012 at 3:24 am | Permalink

      If it makes you feel better, I doubt anything will come of it. It’s just a needless contrivance that won’t come up again as anything other than a halfhearted motivation for Sugou. It’s (somehow) like a worse written Symphogear in that regard.

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