An advisory prior to the start of Episode 5 rant: unlike the rest of the series, at the time of writing (February 2016) SAO Volume 8: Early and Late has not been released in English. As such I do not have access to the official translation with which to make comparisons to the anime episodes (5 & 6). Though I doubt the novel version would help the plot, I have been making use of it until now. That said, enjoy the show.
We open Episode 5 on March 6, 2024. It’s been two weeks since we left Silica’s awful existence behind and we find ourselves on Floor 56 of Aincrad. There’s a strategy meeting going on for members of the front line, and among the crowd we see the likes of Egil, Klein, and Asuna who has been absent from the show for a couple episodes now. They are discussing how to deal with the field boss, which until now hadn’t been brought up in the anime. According to the novels, these are floor midbosses that must be beaten before ascending the tower and facing the true floor boss and moving on. Asuna’s plan is to lead the boss into a town, allowing the boss to focus his attention on the villager NPCs and thus spare the players from potential harm. A wise move, I give credit where credit’s due.
So naturally Kirito has to step in and throw a wrench into the gears. Kirito is about to claim that the NPCs aren’t mere objects to be destroyed, when Asuna cuts him off and shuts him the hell up. Never mind that this goes against Kirito’s established nature of being a selfish prick, the fact of the matter is Asuna has a point. This is still a game world, and the only things in the game world that aren’t safe from true harm are the players themselves. The fact that Kirito is starting to feel sympathy for NPCs, or even think of them as “real” is a scary sign. It’s been 15 months since they’ve been trapped (needlessly) in this game. It wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility that the players are losing touch with reality. But for this to affect Kirito of all people?
Well, I suppose one could make the argument that Kirito would be among the first to lose that touch. We’ve already seen his personality in action, and we’ve seen how he places the utmost importance on himself above all else. We’ve seen his blatant disregard for human life, so it’s entirely possible Kirito being trapped in the game gave him a chance to show his true colors where such an opportunity would never have happened in the real world.
So yes, Asuna has the right idea. She’s looking to save real lives, not fake ones meant to add a layer of realism to this fake world, this very real prison they’re trapped in. And yet Kirito insists on speaking out against the plan! But before he gives any real reasons Asuna pulls rank on his ass (now second in command to a guild!) and tells him he WILL obey. No threats of any kind needed! Asuna is taking charge!
After the meeting is over, Egil approaches Kirito about his “constant” fights with Asuna at the meetings. We’ll have to take his word for it, but I guess it’s not a stretch to believe Kirito would participate in front line events for a chance to steal rare loot. The scene is otherwise pointless and serves only to remind us of what Kirito told her at the end of Episode 2, as well as establish she’s now high up the food chain in a front line guild.
After the opening credits, we cut to Floor 59 on April 11. It’s been a month. And we get no word on how that operation turned out or if Kirito even participated. I question the point of the whole scene then? Other than to show us Kirito is probably past the point of no return when it comes to differentiating reality from the game’s fantasy.
Kirito is lying down in the shade of a tree taking a nap when Asuna walks by and scolds him for being a lazy body. Kirito completely ignores her, and tells her it’s a good day for taking a nap out in the open. Again, this scene only seems to paint Kirito in another negative light. Is this how he usually handles dungeon exploration? How often does he partake in the expedition? Or is he the kind of person who only shows up for the boss fight for that rare loot? We get no confirmation either way but given his general attitude and past behaviors (as well as supplements from the novels) we can safely deduce Kirito only joins when it’s in his benefit. Like rare quests or the like.
So when Kirito tells her it would be a waste to go dungeon spelunking that day, Asuna responds like a rational person. Yes, I will say that 16 months of nonstop game life involving life or death battles deserves a holiday here and there. But that holiday could be a day when THEY AREN’T EXPLORING THE FLOOR DUNGEON. It has been established these dungeons are the hardest parts of any floor. Take your idiot holiday tomorrow, after the boss is dead and it’ll take another few days to reach the next dungeon!
So ultimately Asuna is correct: they’ve already lost 16 months of their lives. And they’ve barely made it past the half way point of the quest. And while clearly this is a middle slog of the adventure, it’s now that they have to redouble their efforts most to keep up the pace.
But Kirito doesn’t care. Kirito has accepted his life in Aincrad. This is his life now. Why are we rooting for him? Why is he our protagonist? Can we switch to Asuna?
I take that back. Asuna is one gullible moron. Careful, girl; Kirito might lead you into a trap room if you ask the wrong questions!
Hours pass and by sundown Asuna finally wakes up. And for some reason she feels indebted to Kirito for sticking around to let her sleep? We later learn the reason for this was as to prevent Asuna from getting killed in her sleep. She was sleeping in an open field area, where any mal-intentioned player could strike. Still, a simple THANK YOU would have sufficed.
So they go to a place on Floor 57, where of course everyone seems to know Asuna (understandable since she’s a girl and on the front line) and questioning Kirito for being with her. I suppose this whole set up is true to gamer life; if there was a girl half as pretty as Asuna is claimed to be in such a scenario you can bet she’d be drooled over by every guy there. Male gamers are a sorry bunch of forever alone basement dwellers.
And not 10 seconds after pointing out that towns were safe from player killing, we get this scene of a player being killed in town! Consistency! Though to be fair there’s an explanation for all this, so we’ll proceed along keeping this in mind. Kirito tells the man to pull the spear lodged in his chest, but the guy looks at him like this:
“Pull it out? WHY I NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT!”
What’s more the guy clearly looks to be in pain. Let me refer you to a line from my Episode 1 rant:
While any man would lament such a happening, Kirito condescendingly reminds Klein that there is no pain in SAO. No pain in SAO. Remember that.
So what is it our friend in armor dangling from a balcony feeling? Maybe he’s imagining the last time he took a really large shit that ravaged his tight asshole at the same time he’s pulling that spear from his chest. Just saying.
The dude goes boom, leaving behind the spear that offed him and the crowd in a noticeable and acceptable panic. This truly is… a crime within the walls (ba-dum-tish)!
Kirito immediately asks the crowd to find the killer, who would be easily identified by the DUEL WINNER notification above his head. But there is no such person, and Asuna informs Kirito there was no one inside the house where the man was hanging from. They two go up there and find the noose tied to a table inside. Clearly someone planned this in detail, got the man to put the noose over his neck, impaled him with the spear and then threw him off the balcony. All this work? Clearly something’s afoot but our two protagonists can’t seem to piece it together. Idiots. They immediately jump to the conclusion that someone has found a way to kill within the safe zones. Bigger idiots. And Asuna insists they both leave the front line to investigate this matter. What fucking-
Wait, WHAT? Why them? What the hell do they care? Aside from the obvious implication the claim makes they have no reason to undertake this mystery themselves! Hell even Kirito is baffled by his inclusion in this mystery subplot. If Asuna wants to solve this more power to ya girl, but fuck do the rest of us care? But we get no say in the matter, sadly.
Kirito and Asuna begin by asking the crowd if anyone saw the whole thing. Never mind the fact that by now some could have left including the culprit? Whatever. We meet Yoruko here who claims she was around to have dinner with our dead fellow. Suspect Number One literally walked right up to them! Can it get any easier than this? Dead fellow is called Kains, and Yoruko claims they got separated in the plaza shortly before it all went down.
Okay, back the fuck up. You’re telling me Yoruko was with the man in the plaza, lost sight of him for a few minutes, and then suddenly he’s hanging from a balcony dying? Come up with a better lie, girl. That shit would never fly. The window of opportunity for a murder was like 5 minutes tops!
THEY BELIEVE HER.
Yoruko mentions she MIGHT have seen someone up on the balcony but can’t be sure. And he didn’t look familiar. Could have been Ronald McDonald and it wouldn’t make it any less plausible. She’s clearly fucking lying.
Good question, if generic. Also the ass shot was totally necessary. Naturally, Yoruko answers no and they escort her to an inn. Good sleuthing, you two. Master detectives, the lot of you. Asshats.
Yes, lets: Yoruko is mighty suspicious, knows too many details about what happened, claims to have lost sight of Kains for “just a second”… SHE’S FUCKING IN ON IT YOU ASSCLOWNS. Instead, Asuna insists they find out who made the spear what killed Kains, and that would help them find the killer.
Question: HOW? A weapon is just that. It could have been made by anyone. Person could be dead, for all they know. And even if they aren’t, the maker doesn’t point to the killer. What if they bought the weapon off the person? So unless the creator is the same as the killer… this is going NO WHERE.
What kills me about this whole scene? Kirito can solve this with just a fat purse. I know those in the anime exclusive world have only seen Argo the Rat ONCE and hardly know about her, but in the novels she’s a force to be reckoned with. Kirito has often gone to her, dropped a purse, and gotten any info he wanted so long as it existed straight from her. Why not just call her up (he can) and ask her for anything on this matter? I can bet you in an hour she’d have the killer’s name, location and favorite time to take a shit if they so wanted. Sadly, we instead don’t get to use Argo and follow these two numbnuts on this wild goose chase.
And then we get this from Asuna? You’ve known Kirito since the game started. He’s never bothered to call you anything but your name. Why are you bringing this shit up now? Has the authority gotten to your head and now demand it even from this loser?
THEN WHY THE FUCK DID YOU BRING IT UP?! FUCK!
So to find someone with the appropriate skill to appraise the item, Asuna mentions a friend (we meet her later on) but claims this is her “busiest time”. It’s the middle of the night. At worst she’s sleeping like any other normal person. But whatever, this is why Kirito is around to call on his bald associate Egil.
Do that and you’ll never make a profit, asshat. But then again, all this money is fake anyway so as long as you get what you want the rest is pointless. After a pointless shoch scene from Egil regarding Asuna, Kirito shares the details on what happened with the murder. Egil does his part and tells them the spear was made by a player named Grimrock. They also learn the weapon’s given name is Guilty Thorn but what this has to do with anything is beyond me.
So Kirito is about to stab his own hand with the spear to test something, when Asuna stops him (and stops our caring of this scene with her glorious ass). You can bet Egil is stealthily positioned behind the camera admiring her backside looking like Antonio Banderas in Assassins. Regardless, Asuna takes the weapon from Kirito and refuses to let him test out the properties.
Question: WHY? He is doing this to see if there are any hidden properties to the murder weapon. In a controlled environment surrounded by two people capable of throwing him a save in case shit goes south. Her denial is rooted in superstition and- whatever, she says no and gives the weapon to Egil and they leave. Gods sometimes Asuna does the stupidest fucking shit.
So the next day, the two question Yoruko again regarding Grimrock, the creator of the murder weapon. Yoruko recognizes the name, claiming he was a member of their guild. We also get a very long story about this guild, which is fluff to be honest so I’ll sum it up for you all:
The guild came in possession of an Agility Ring (super cool Dragon Quest reference) and a fight broke out over what to do with it. After a vote, they choose to sell the ring (stupid idea, it’s a useful rare accessory and money is pointless) and the leader disappears with it. She ends up dead, and according to Yoruko Grimrock is supposedly after those who opposed selling the ring as they had motive for murder.
She all but lays the blame on Grimrock, painting herself an innocent! This is so obviously a feint but fear not! Our intrepid sleuths immediately fall for it! Thank god they aren’t as smart as the rest of us! They also agree to Yoruko’s amazing plan to let her speak with Schimdt, the third supposed innocent. While they’re at it they can also hand her a knife, lock the door and pretend they didn’t hear a murder go on inside the room.
Afterwards, Kirito and Asuna discuss how the murder could have been carried out while on route to find Schimdt. He claims three possibilities:
Yeah, which involved Kains agreeing to put a noose around his neck and jumping off the balcony with a spear in his gut.
Okay, what exploit? Care to explain them?
SEE WHAT? I am the audience you have to tell me!
Well fuck the second option, apparently. This one seems almost plausible except it would go against the very rules of the game itself so… yeah, not buying it. Thankfully, Kirito agrees it would be unfair so he rules it out.
We cut back to Yoruko’s apartment, where she’s discussing what happened with Schimdt. The man looks shaken at the revelation, wondering why this happened so many months (six) after the death of their old guild leader. Yoruko seems eerily calm about everything, and even throws us this little nugget of idiocy:
She’s seriously claiming the ghost of Griselda their guild leader is looking for revenge. A ghost. In a video game. I just… what? Is she stupid? Crazy? Both? It’s a game. Not a fantasy world in literature or film. People who die in this game die for good. They don’t continue to wander the digital world fucking with shit just because. Though admittedly that would make for a great subplot but sadly it never comes to pass.
Yeah, clearly Yoruko is crazy. Throw her out there and let whoever killed Kains kill her, too. She’s gone off the deep end and we should be done away with her as soon as possible. She’s pretty much accepted that they have to die so fuck her.
Thankfully, someone agrees and decides to throw a knife into her back. Despite it being a safe zone. She dies after falling out the window. Never mind that this is still a game and that one puny knife would have had to deplete ALL her HP to achieve that effect. But HEY let’s forget these facts and end the episode!