Sword Art Online, Episode 10 Rant

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We open Episode 10 right where we left off last time: it’s October 20, 2024 and Heathcliff, leader of Asuna’s guild Knights of the Blood had put our idiot protagonist (because damned if I’m going to call him hero) in a precarious position. If he doesn’t do one-on-one battle with Heathcliff, Asuna won’t be allowed to take a vacation! OH NO! What a monster! Worse, if Kirito loses, he’ll be forced to join the guild against his will! OH DOUBLE NO! Heathcliff doesn’t realize that putting Kirito among the ranks of the Knights of the Blood will likely result in the whole guild getting wiped out in Kirito’s endless quest to kill everyone who gets in his way.

In all seriousness, what kills me about this whole bullshit duel is how the guild has made a huge event out of it. I like especially how Floor 75, the highest floor yet reached also has a massive colosseum just for this event. Talk about fucking convenient! They’re selling tickets for this duel and people are lining up for this. This raises a number of questions:

First, does the guild OWN this colosseum? I’m pretty sure they didn’t have a mountain of col saved somewhere just to buy a colosseum when it showed up. Meaning they’re using a public location run by NPCs. Meaning they can’t really force ANYONE to pay for a seat. But they’re still making a killing.

Second, why would anyone care enough to pay for a ticket to see two people duel? Can’t even say entertainment is short these days as this is a game they’re living in, so lack of entertainment is hardly a problem. What’s more, just how famous are our two duelists? Heathcliff might be the leader of a front line guild, as well as one of the most popular and well-known, but he’s still a relative UNKNOWN in the common world. See, until this episode, he hadn’t even been referred to by NAME. We can call that an oversight of the writing (likely that’s what it was), or we can take it in context to show that despite being the dude in charge, he’s just as unknown as any other player. Hell, Kirito is a virtual unknown despite being somewhat infamous as a beta tester solo player. And even THEN he’s still only familiar to those on the front line.

My point is this: we have a guild leader (who most people probably didn’t even know his name to begin with) fighting a solo player beater (commonly HATED by the ignorant masses). And they have to ascend to the highest floor (a prospect that still scares many as we’ll soon learn) AND pay to see this fight? Do you see what I’m getting at?

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But no, according to the pusher at the stall there’s not many good seats left and the stadium is packed. Naturally these must be mostly NPCs because at last count the total number of players was under 7000 and there’s clearly a lot more people at this event. But I digress.

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Once in a while Asuna makes use of her brain, so naturally she’s talking Kirito’s head off NOW. But let’s back this up. If Asuna was against this idiotic plan from the start, why did she let it go through? She had plenty of opportunity to speak up for herself during the meeting between Heathcliff and Kirito. She remained silent. She could have defended herself against Heathcliff, threatening to leave the guild entirely if she didn’t get her way. She remained silent. Barring that, she could have withdrawn the order, taken her break “against orders” as it were, and told anyone who came to find her to FUCK OFF.

But no. Here we are about to partake of a pointless cock fight just because it’s cooler to show a duel than it is to showcase clever writing. I hate to bring up Log Horizon again but- you know what? Never mind. Log Horizon. Go watch that instead. Fuck this anime.

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No one on the writing team was, so it’s hardly your fault, Kirito. This time, at least.

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It’s at this point that we learn that Heathcliff also possesses a skill unique to him. What, are these suddenly a thing? Are they the only two that have one? Awful convenient to raise the stakes for this fight, right? Not to mention this unique skill belonging to Heathcliff is so poorly worded you’d think it was hacked into the game for his own personal use. And SPOILER ALERT: turns out it was. We won’t hear that until later.

See, what bugs me about stuff like these two unique skills is that there’s no build up to them. We are told this is an MMORPG, and that all the same rules that apply to the genre in the real world apply here. This point is frequently brought up, and occasionally holds true (plot contrivances notwithstanding). My point is you can’t have something as wildly out of place as unique skills in this kind of setting. It doesn’t work in the real world, and only serves to turn your fantasy creation into a mess that allows anything to fly so long as you handwave it. If Heathcliff had this skill, it should have been brought up a LONG time ago. It should have been brought up when Heathcliff was introduced, in a much earlier episode so that we the audience can know of this guy’s existence BEFORE he becomes relevant to the plot. The same goes for his unique skill.

His skill is far more offensive since we’ve already established Kirito has a unique skill, so slapping one onto Heathcliff comes across as a sort of “ME TOO” moment just to keep him on par with Kirito. Not to mention while Kirito’s unique skill is overpowered to the point it shouldn’t even exist in any capacity, at least he is still vulnerable to the arms of death. Dual Wield does not make him invincible. While if you believe the literal ONE SENTENCE explanation for Heathcliff’s Divine Blade, it makes him virtually invincible. How is this fair? How is it the guild he runs hasn’t told him to prove just how effective this skill is by pitting him against hordes of monsters solo?

Because no one cares. They accept him and his bullshit unique skill as is. Because to question this set up is to cause the entire narrative house of cards to collapse under its own weight.

But if all THAT hasn’t convinced you to throw this Heathcliff fellow into a boss room alone, the next claim regarding him will.

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“No one has ever seen his HP bar fall into the yellow zone.”

Okay. This is fucking bullshit. Heathcliff did not come into existence into this game as a Level 70+ badass with his impossible skill (unless he did, but that’s never clarified). He like any other player started as a total noob and had to bust his ass to achieve his status. At the very least he had to grind like anyone else. This means he’s fought monsters. This means he’s taken damage. Just because no one has seen him drop to half HP or less doesn’t mean he’s immune to death. Again, if anyone in this game had half a brain they’d have pieced together that Heathcliff was cheating all along. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce this.

HE IS CHEATING. Get your heads out his ass and out him as a cheater!

And still Asuna is worried about the terms of their deal. I’ve said it before, so I won’t rehash myself. This whole thing is a farce.

So the fight commences, but I won’t comment on everything about it. It’s a fight, after all. Kirito wails at Heathcliff with everything he’s got but naturally the guild leader doesn’t even flinch and blocks everything with pinpoint accuracy. There’s being a good player (Kirito) and then there’s stoic fearlessness (the mark of a cheater with no reason to panic).

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Until finally Kirito lands a scratch on him. See this reaction? That “I can’t believe I got hit” look? That’s probably the first time Heathcliff has taken damage past the noob stages of the game. Because no doubt he turned on his God Mode cheat after that, as to rise to power in a calm fashion. The fact that Kirito can override the game’s mechanics through sheer force of will is hilarious. Not to mention outright BULLSHIT but hilarious nonetheless.

As the fight goes on, Kirito continues to wail on the shield, and still it holds firm. If that’s not a sign of a cheater I don’t know what is, given that durability in this game is a thing and Kirito is using two overpowered swords in tandem with an overpowered skill set. Something’s gotta give. Eventually, Heathcliff’s guard is forced down, and Kirito goes in for the killing strike. Only it doesn’t land.

See, Kirito saw it in that fraction of a second it took for his sword to swing downward. He saw Heathcliff’s avatar body move faster than the game allows to deflect the killing blow, counter and win the match all in one fell swoop. Kirito saw this.

Surely he’d call the man out on such a blatant cheat. Even if it is the word of the loser against the winner. At the very least Kirito’s claim can cause others around Heathcliff to question this skill of his to a greater extent.

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NOPE. He sits there on the floor and does nothing. Great job, anime.

We cut to October 22, where we see Kirito trying on his new guild uniform. Yeah, we all knew he’d be a BITCH and accept the moronic terms of the agreement. Terms he and Asuna should have just shot down from the get go. Remember, the reason behind her request for a leave was because she needed to take a step back from it all. To collect her thoughts and just tune out for a while. This game causes stress, it has consequences. To deny short vacations to the players is tantamount to asking them to slip up through fatigue and get killed. I didn’t even bring this up last time because I had been so hooked on the nonsense of the issue altogether. What’s more, Asuna seems to have forgotten this reason, and now she’s happy as can be to have Kirito as her underling.

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Good for you, Kirito. Now you can rain death and destruction on one of the largest guilds in the game! The Moonlit Black Cats was baby steps in your path to become a mass murderer!

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There we go! I say you start with some nameless underlings. Lead them into a cave, set off a trap, and watch the panic sink in as one by one they’re slaughtered. Bonus points if you cackle maniacally in the process!

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The million dollar question, Asuna. But will Kirito share it? I don’t think so.

And to my shocked and disgusted surprise, he actually starts talking! He tells Asuna how he joined the Moonlit Black Cats, how he concealed his true level from them, and how he helped them climb the ranks bit by bit.

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And then he does it. He outright ADMITS to letting them all wander into a trap room he KNEW would result in their deaths and did or said NOTHING. He finally admits it to someone. He killed four “friends” in cold blood, and then drove the fifth to commit suicide. And you know what Asuna does upon hearing this?

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Are you fucking kidding me? This monster has shown no remorse for what he’s done. He’s hidden the fact since it happened. And the day they escape this virtual prison I can assure you he will not turn himself in to repent for the deaths of those five teenagers. Or the death of Diavel, the knight from Episode 2. Kirito deserves to be locked up in a tiny cell for the rest of his life.

And Asuna forgives him. She forgives a murderer for his selfishness. I wish I could say she was a saint for her act but she’s simply stupid as all hell. These two were meant for each other. Not because they mesh well on some deep level. Because only shitty writing can allow them to be together in this fashion.

We cut to the next day where we meet Godfrey, a high ranking member of the guild who informs Kirito that he will be participating in a guild noob exercise. This is a naturally pointless exercise since as Asuna pointed out: he outclasses everyone but Heathcliff, apparently. But that’s not about to stop these real life drill sergeants from following orders. Are these real people in a game world or caricatures designed to emulate “real” life?

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We see that Kuradeel, the other poorly written member of the guild from a couple episodes ago is also going to participate in this noob exercise. Seems his idiocy cost him a mean demotion. I suppose he deserved it, though why he would choose to stay in the guild following a demotion to total noob is beyond me. Well, it would be if I didn’t already know the why.

And now this is where the anime lost all sense of realism. You know, what little it had to begin with.

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See these crystals being piled onto Godfrey’s hand? These are both Kirito and Kuradeel’s teleportation crystals. You know, the ONE almost guaranteed lifeline back to town should a fight go south. Part of their noob training demands they relinquish them all so Godfrey can “assess how they deal with dangerous situations”.

Okay, number one: FUCK YOU.

No, that’s it. I’m signing my resignation right here and now. I don’t care how much of a margin Kirito has on the monsters 20 floors beneath him, this kind of a situation is simply BULLSHIT. Who in their right mind would trust ANYONE enough to give up your one lifeline? This isn’t a fucking game… well, you know what I mean. If shit goes south (and you KNOW it’s going to happen), those crystals are the only way to make it back home safe.

And recruits are just expected to give them up without question? Fuck you. If Kirito had half a brain he’d take this up with Heathcliff personally. If Heathcliff insists this is the way things are done, Kirito quits on the spot. If Heathcliff doesn’t like it, he can pull his magic cheating strings to have Kirito imprisoned for the duration of the game. At least in there he’ll be safe from harm.

But of course Kirito the moron agrees to these ridiculous terms, hands over all his crystals (instead of just, you know, ONE) and proceeds. Sometimes there are simply NO WORDS for the amount of contrived stupidity we have to endure.

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So as they’re all taking a break from their boring test, Kirito realizes a second too late that his drink was poisoned. As was Godfrey’s. By Kuradeel. Yeah, shocker, huh? The obviously evil bad guy did something evil.

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Clearly a guy with this face is trustworthy.

For starters, the poison was actually to induce paralysis, which allows Kuradeel to kill Godfrey first by hacking away at the defenseless moron until he dies. What I like about the scene to follow is that Kuradeel lays the blame for it on Kirito. Does this mean I can add one to Kirito’s death count?

In all seriousness, Kirito shouldn’t be too scared. I know it looks like he’s in trouble without being able to fight back, but remember Episode 4?

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They are cutting into him relentlessly, but he doesn’t fight back. And his HP doesn’t drop, either. When the mob tires out, Kirito drops the bombshell on them: they can’t beat him because their damage output cannot overtake the rate at which his HP regenerates.

Kirito has auto-regen! And I’m pretty sure that now at his obscene Level 96, unless our poor idiot Kuradeel is laying on the damage constantly and fast, he won’t be able to kill Kirito. No worries, just wait out the paralysis and finish him after!

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Before beginning this assault, Kuradeel reveals that he is in fact a member of Laughing Coffin, our strangely named murderer’s guild. His job was to infiltrate the Knights of the Blood to… well, he infiltrated them to do SOMETHING. Yeah, that’s not important, so Kuradeel forgets about it and just goes about the killing. His inclusion with this murderer guild was to justify what happens to him later.

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Well, it shouldn’t feel like anything. There’s no pain in SAO, remember? I know the writers don’t so I’m here to remind them. Wonder why Godfrey looked to be in pain earlier as well.

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His HP dips into the red quick. But I thought he had auto-regen? Oh wait, I forgot. My bad. That was only in that one episode. Because he had to act super cool there. Now he has to be in mortal peril, see. Man, these situational abilities are so silly, huh? What kills me about this whole scene is that he’s remembering Sachi of all people as he inches closer and closer to death. Yeah, think about her last moments. Think about how she felt before she died because you didn’t want to save her.

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And of course, right in the nick of time Asuna shows up to save him. Of course. Here I was hoping this monster would finally get the punishment he deserves.

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With Kirito out of the woods, Asuna begins to lay an unholy beatdown on the much shittier Kuradeel. She brings him down to within an inch of his life before he starts groveling for his life. As you do, right? And Asuna, a true good person to the end, relents to show him mercy. Like a hero should.

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But of course it was all a feint. Kuradeel takes up his sword anew and disarms Asuna. But now it’s Kirito who jumps in, blocking a (non-fatal) blow to Asuna with his arm.

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And then out of rage, Kirito kills Kuradeel with a single punch? Yeah, he literally punches a hole in the man’s gut. Now, Kuradeel deserved this, but was it Kirito’s place to exact judgement on him? NOPE. That’s called being a vigilante. That’s murder, as Kuradeel points out. What’s more, we FINALLY get to up Kirito’s death count thanks to this. Asuna had the right idea; she was pissed off, sure. But she knew when to stop. She is not a killer.

And yet despite being blameless in this whole mess (well not entirely blameless), Asuna stills feels at fault?

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And then Kirito does this. Because it was totally the moment to do that. Disgusting. But it’s enough to make them a pair? Even marriage to follow immediately after? Okay. Whatever.

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And then she strips afterward and is embarrassed about it. This whole scene came right the fuck out of no where. Why is this happening? They just had a meal and tea and suddenly it’s time for virtual sex? Can they even HAVE virtual sex? WHY IS THIS SCENE HAPPENING?!

Turns out it was all a misunderstanding on Asuna’s part. For which she punches Kirito? Okay. Whatever. I just want it to end.

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And then they decide to move somewhere on a lower floor and get married and the episode ends? What about Heathcliff? What about his whole “no Asuna off the frontlines”? What the fuck was the point of this whole episode if everything was for absolute NAUGHT?!

This anime is shit.

Kirito Death Count: 7 (He directly had a hand in this one. Literally. Kuradeel ain’t breathin’ no more back in the real world. Let’s hope his ugly ass didn’t leave behind a family. That would be awkward.)

MINOR NOTE: Forgive the minor formatting issues with this episode. For some reason the font kept changing on me at random.

Sword Art Online, Episode 10 Rant

Sword Art Online, Episode 9 Rant

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We open this episode with a blatant retcon of what happened in the previous episode. Instead of Kirito and Asuna opening the boss room doors and immediately being greeted by The Gleam Eyes, Kirito mentions there’s nothing there so that he can explore further in. Putting aside the fact that this change is glaring, what purpose does it serve for Kirito to run the risk of being trapped in the boss room alone? I know the anime is likely to pull some nonsense wherein such a scenario ends with Kirito beating a boss single-handedly, but question the LOGIC behind this action. Kirito for all his selfishness is also desperate to stay ALIVE. Why would he jeopardize this just to scout a boss that will be fought before long? Just to get a glimpse before anyone else? What good will that do? It’s not like he’s going to see it in action. If he has half a brain he’d turn tail the second it spawned.

But Kirito (and the anime) insist that a simple peek would give them valuable information on how to beat the boss. Again: HOW? Will we get an answer to this?

In the end we do not. The Gleam Eyes finally makes his appearance similar to how Episode 8 ended and our two intrepid “heroes” run out the room in a panic. For once they both acted like actual human beings. On a side note The Gleam Eyes is also the monster featured prominently during the opening credits.

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We catch up with these two after their mad dash, wherein Kirito lays out all the useful information he got from that 5 second encounter. He saw one weapon, but he’s sure it will have special attacks. NO FUCKING SHIT. A boss monster who has special attacks? Why, that’s only been the case for EVERY SINGLE BOSS MONSTER SINCE THE START OF THE GAME. It’s been two fucking years, and this is the 74th such boss they’ve encountered! This isn’t counting mid-floor bosses, something that was not only mentioned in the anime but features prominently in the Progressive series of novels. I wish I could wonder why they’re bothering to make such a big deal of this now, 74 floors and 9 episodes into the show. But the reason becomes painfully obvious soon enough.

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At this point Asuna finally confronts Kirito about his lack of a shield. She points out that a shield is one of (if not) the biggest advantages of using one handed weaponry. Which Kirito specializes in. This in itself is a valid question, since it’s been shown that sword skills do not change regardless of using a shield or no. It’s also supported by the novels and the video game itself. So why doesn’t Kirito use one?

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The heat is on. What will Kirito say?

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And then just as quickly as Asuna brought it up, she drops it with that lame excuse. THEN WHY THE FUCK DID YOU BRING IT UP? Not only that, you put the pressure on him to get an answer, would have likely gotten one if not a lie, and then let up just a second or two before he breaks? What the hell was the point of this scene?

Oh I would tell you. I would tell you right now, but this is intentional. All to set up what happens at the end of the episode. Hold that horse, reader. It’s coming.

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And then we get another food scene. If the food in this anime looked half as good as food in a Studio Ghibli production I’d almost let it slide as scenery porn. But what Asuna is giving Kirito looks like dog shit in BBQ sauce with a side of grass and clovers. What the fuck is that?

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Kirito has a fondness for cat turds and weeds.

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This anime expects us to believe they invented a “flavor-recreation engine” to simulate TASTE in a virtual space. A technology that is barely out of proto-typing, recently put into commercial use, and is capable of recreating TASTE in a virtual space? Let me remind you this is the FIRST Virtual Reality MMO ever made. To achieve this kind of immersion on the first run? Sheer fucking BRILLIANCE, right? Or just complete fucking bullshit and well outside the bounds of believability.

Regardless, Kirito gets to sample a few of Asuna’s creations and immediately points out that if she were to sell them, she’d make a fortune. Only to turn right around and say this:

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This is the Kirito we all know to be true. The greedy, selfish monster who thinks everything is his because he wants it. He’s claiming ownership of Asuna’s cooking ability for fuck’s sake. And her response to this? Clearly it would be anger and rage at Kirito for overstepping his bounds. She made him a nice meal (bullshit though it may be in this setting) and this is how he expresses his gratitude?

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You would think Asuna is already his demure, submissive bitch. She may as well be.

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Thankfully, we see a face we haven’t seen for a while to break up this monotony of food discussion. It’s Klein! Along with his guild of real world mates, they’ve stumbled across Kirito and Asuna while they’ve been exploring the dungeon. Kirito’s reaction upon seeing him is basically a proclamation of “You’re still alive?”

Kirito! Sounding utterly disappointed that his first friend in the virtual world is still alive. And Klein just laughs it off? WHAT DOES EVERYONE SEE IN THIS MONSTER? I swear I would kill to see what happens if someone were to spill the beans on the fate of the Moonlit Black Cats. The only person I would guess knows about their demise is Argo thanks to her snooping. Can someone pay her to share this information with the world? Surely if everyone knew that Kirito in an act of selfish greed caused the deaths of five people they’d all gang up on him and slit his virtual throat!

Anyway, Klein immediately ignores Kirito and starts to TALK to Asuna. Not even hit on her. And then this happens:

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KIRITO LITERALLY PUNCHES HIM TO SHUT HIM UP. He was merely introducing himself to Asuna and Kirito begins a physical assault? Look at Asuna’s face! She’s flabbergasted that Kirito would do this! On what fucking grounds? He’s acting like Asuna is his property and Klein can’t even LOOK at her. If this anime had any kind of realism to it, Asuna would turn on Kirito for his disgusting attitude.

Instead, it all pans out well. She’s happy, they’re happy. Everyone’s happy! So what if Kirito was being a sexist pig? It’s all good!

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Then as if that scene wasn’t interesting enough (it honestly wasn’t), another group shows up. This time it’s the Aincrad Liberation Squad, AKA the “Army”. Basically this is a massive guild working towards the game’s completion, but isn’t mentioned nearly as much as the other guilds on the front lines. The reason for this being that their base is on the first floor. Can’t really push to the end of the game if you refuse to leave the noob floor, huh?

Anyway, the squad leader asks for the map data to the boss room, as they intend to face the boss. Klein is appalled by this request, figuring they should pay for the map. Now, I get that there’s a risk involved with charting the dungeons. But nothing is gained from withholding that map data from other players. And charging for it makes you that much more of an asshole. Your greed is essentially putting everyone else who wishes to help clear the game in danger. So for Klein to demand compensation is frankly absurd.

The squad leader is offended, and rightly so. Like he says, the army shares this information AND supplies with all players equally. They’re the true heroes of this tale, wishing only to free the people trapped in SAO. Even if it takes a bit longer what with dealing with logistics of running such a large guild. They’re just trying to do right by everyone.

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So imagine my fucking surprise when of everyone there, it’s KIRITO who actually agrees to hand over the map data free of charge. For once he has the right idea and good intentions. Shocker, I know. But I suppose even he’s above extortion when he’s already got the blood of six people on his hands. The squad leader thanks Kirito for his cooperation and takes his men onward towards the boss chamber. All the same, Kirito cautions against fighting the boss with tired men, to which the leader is a prick and tells him to fuck off.

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Admittedly this is where he lost points as a good person, and I can’t help but feel this was written as such just to give Kirito a chance to swoop in and be a hero. You know it’s going to happen, so why bother with a spoiler warning. When Asuna worries about them, it’s Kirito who suggests they follow and make sure nothing bad happens to them. Need I remind you how pointless these efforts to make Kirito appear like a good person when he remains secretive about everything? Including how many people he’s killed?

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This just kills me dead on the inside. Klein, you should have been the protagonist of this story. A bit of a loser character who rises to be a guild leader and takes on the most challenging tasks in this strange new world. Always caring and looking after the people, not just his mates but everyone he can.


Oh wait…

They follow the army, slowing down in the process because of random encounters. Gods, don’t we all hate it when that happens in an RPG? They overhear people screaming, and Kirito and Asuna run for the boss room. Klein and his guild are left behind to deal with more random encounters, effectively leaving it up to Kirito and Asuna to save the day.

Of course.

They arrive at the boss room, where they see the army beat to shit by this boss and the boss virtually unharmed. Kirito tells them to escape the room with teleport crystals, since it’s clearly a losing battle at this point.

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Of course.

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If that’s true, Floor 74 is an odd place to start such a trend, no? Thinking about it, if Kirito had been stupid enough to poke his nose into the boss room at the start of the episode, he would have also been trapped inside and forced to fight for his life. And he probably would have been killed. I almost wish that would have happened. Kirito also experiences a flashback to the moment the Moonlit Black Cats were killed in just such a trap room. Sadly we didn’t get to see poor Sachi burst into polygons. That would have been a delicious call back.

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Never mind. We got it!

Anyway, Kirito is seriously debating going in there to save them. FINALLY a reaction that actually fits with his asshole persona! See, Kirito only cares about himself. To rush into a boss room that has no chance of escape to save a bunch of people who– let’s be honest here– walked right into a death trap is totally against his ways. This is why he didn’t care to save the Moonlit Black Cats way back in Episode 3. He saved himself first. And no, I don’t want to hear how he was outnumbered and he couldn’t save them all. He saved himself, didn’t he? Why didn’t he step in for the others and take the damage? NOPE! Asshole. Told you.

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The squad leader dies, probably wishing he had said something more epic on his way out. I would lay the blame for this death at Kirito’s feet, but Asuna and Klein both stood by and did nothing rather than jump in and help. Kirito lucks out, his death count won’t rise just yet.

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And just as the boss is about to kill more of the army, Asuna fucking loses it and charges into the room to save their lives. See? THIS IS WHAT A TRUE HERO DOES. Fuck self-preservation, she thought to save people in need of saving. And damned if anything was going to stop her.

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Kirito meanwhile stays behind for another few seconds, shocked Asuna would do such a selfless act but hesitating just long enough to show he still prefers his own skin to others. Asuna happens to come close enough to his own skin that he finally charges in after her. Klein also follows, swept up in the moment.

Asuna takes a hit, so she backs off for the moment. Kirito goes about soloing the boss, something that in this game shouldn’t even be POSSIBLE. But he has to, because he has to be a badass. Klein and his peeps work to save the army in the meantime. And this is what Kirito’s lack of a shield conversation finally pays off with:

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That’s right. The most asshole player in all SAO gets to be the only person with the Dual Wield skill, as we’ll learn later on. But you know what kills me most about this? Kirito, rather than use this clearly overpowered skill openly to help progress the game, has kept it a secret until now. And he was honestly going to keep it a secret even when things were looking as bad as they were. Somehow he finally decided to show it off, only because SOMETHING in his mind figured “maybe it’s not okay to let people die just so I can keep a secret”.

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And when I say overpowered, I mean it. He can deflect a boss monster’s attack solo.

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He can even down a boss solo, no matter how many attacks he took in the process. I don’t care how many levels higher than everyone else they can claim he is, he is simply not built to tank the way he was shown doing this episode. It’s a fucking bullshit lie.

But he wins. Solo. All the EXP and col and loot just for him. And then he passes out.

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Now, for all the heroics, the cat’s outta the bag. Everyone present saw him solo a boss with a skill no one even knew existed. They question this. And with good fucking reason. After all, three people are dead. Three people who could have still been alive had Kirito just used his overpowered skill from the get go and rushed in to their aid. They are at as much fault since they charged in like morons, but the point remains.

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Yes, he was. But Kirito was a complete asshole for keeping his Dual Wield skill a secret all this time. Let’s stay on topic here, Klein. He asks about this mystery uber skill.

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AND KIRITO STILL HAS THE GALL TO WANT TO KEEP IT A SECRET?! Do you see what I mean?! Even when forced by writing it seems to play a hero he STILL wants to revert to his asshole ways. It’s who he is. HE DESERVES NOTHING BUT DEATH.

Kirito informs them that he picked up the skill at random, and that he has no idea how to unlock it. What’s more, because he had no idea how to unlock it, he kept it a secret. Umm… WHY?! Sharing this information with Argo the Rat would have put it in everyone’s hands. This would have had the entire world looking for ways to unlock it for everyone else. But no, it was better for him to keep it all to himself. We will later learn that is is a unique skill, exclusive to Kirito. Never mind that this shit doesn’t work for MMORPGs at all in the real world. Even if SAO is a special case, it’s still utter fucking bullshit that of all the players in the game, Kirito is the one who unlocks it. The anime is all but calling him JESUS OUR LORD AND SAVIOR.

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He’s had this skill for six months. SIX. MONTHS. I just…?? Gods I’m tired. Six months. Six months of easy boss fights thanks to the skill’s ungodly damage output. He kept it all to himself. That claim earlier of deaths on Floor 67? Probably could have been avoided if he’d used it then. BUT HE DIDN’T. BECAUSE HE WANTED TO KEEP IT A SECRET.

He even outright says he kept it a secret to prevent being the center of envy from every other player in the game. But at the time, he didn’t even know it was a unique skill. He could have shared its discovery through Argo the Rat and let the populace try and figure that out. There is literally NO EXCUSE for his keeping it a secret. If there was a way to see how many deaths happened in boss fights between the moment he got the skill and now, I would most certainly blame him for EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THOSE DEATHS.

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Oh by the way, Asuna has been hugging Kirito in this fashion since the end of the boss fight. Asuna, you’re dead to me. Also, what happened to his auto-regen from Episode 4? Surely he’d be able to recover his health within seconds. BAD WRITING REARS ITS UGLY HEAD YET AGAIN!

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Before Klein and his people move on to the next floor, he mentions how happy he was to see Kirito rush in and help out. SEE?! EVEN KLEIN IS ADMITTING IT! That Kirito would NEVER do something like that! It’s like someone higher up in the anime’s development wanted to mask Kirito’s atrocities but somehow the truth always slips through.

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Once he’s gone, Asuna says she’s going to take a break from her guild and hang with Kirito a bit. This is gross on so many levels, since in the grand scheme of the anime timeline she’s perhaps played alongside Kirito a grand total of what? A week? But suddenly she’s shaken to the core at his near-death. Asuna, this is not you. This is someone forcing you to become just a helpless wife to the protagonist. I especially love how the anime tries a montage of all the times they’ve worked together, and can only gather footage from the previous episode, Episode 5 and Episode 2. SO MUCH TIME SPENT TOGETHER! Clearly they’re in love!

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The next day, we see Kirito and Agil as the latter reads a news article describing Kirito’s feat from the previous day. Kirito laments that now he’s the center of attention, despite the fact that probably no one there except Asuna and Klein know Kirito personally. At most Klein’s guild know OF him, and probably not his name. So how did this trace back to him? Yeah, plot hole.

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WAIT WHAT?! So Kirito told Lisbeth, but not Argo? Why would he tell Lisbeth? Is there something going on there? Is Kirito tapping her on the side? Hell is Kirito even CAPABLE of tapping anyone, let alone one on the side? I daresay someone on the writing team wanted Lisbeth and Kirito to be a thing, and snuck that in there as a sort of last ditch effort to usurp the canon pairing.

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It’s at this point that Asuna takes Kirito in a hurry to meet Heathcliff, the leader of Asuna’s guild and the only person who can order her ass around. I almost envy the man for that reason alone. Anyway, Heathcliff is against the idea of Asuna taking a break from guild activities, and is looking to prevent it from happening.

Where do I begin?

This is a guild. Asuna isn’t required to be a part of the guild, she requested it. As such, she’s there of her own free will. And if her free will demands a break from her duties, she’s free to do so as well. If there’s a problem with that, she can just as easily tell Heathcliff to FUCK OFF and quit the guild. There’s absolutely NOTHING he can do about this. For all this supposed power he wields, it’s worth JACK FUCKING SHIT.

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And guess what? You cannot do a damn thing about it. She quits. End of story. Bye.

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And then this happens. Probably one of the stupidest fucking plot contrivances I have ever seen in any story ever. Need I repeat myself from just TWO PARAGRAPHS AGO?

Heathcliff has no authority here. This isn’t a real world. This is a game world. It’s bound only by the rules of the game. And those rules allow Asuna to do whatever the fuck she wants outside his jurisdiction. To think himself capable of holding her like a hostage not only speaks volumes to his delusions of grandeur, it smears his character before we’ve even gotten a chance to know him.

And then to top it off, he adds the condition that if Kirito should lose this duel, he has to join the guild himself.

Again? Fine. Again:

Authority: none. She leaves if she wants to. End of story. Good-bye.

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Fuck you, Kirito. Fuck you and fuck this whole anime.

Sword Art Online, Episode 9 Rant

Sword Art Online, Episode 8 Rant

The date is October 17, 2024 and the location is Floor 74. By now I keep track of the passage of time for the sake of it, just so we can see how much progress (or lack thereof) is made in this seemingly never-ending quest to finish the game. Our pre-opening scene has Kirito fighting a monster solo in the dungeon of the floor. Actually, the date is of great importance given what’s going to happen in the upcoming episodes. Trust me on that one.

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And this claim by Kirito to himself (and the audience) further proves why he as a character isn’t growing. Instances in previous episodes where Kirito has prioritized the safety of those he’s partnered with fall flat when this is shown. How can he have learned from the tragedy that befell the Moonlit Black Cats when he insists on working alone and keeping his information and activities secret? He is working toward the same goal as everyone else in SAO: to finish the game. If he were truly on board with this goal and atoning for the deaths he’s caused, he would have joined a guild like Asuna and be helping everyone else in a more direct manner.

I know the reason he remains a solo player is because the idea of a loner hero is a tantalizing one. It’s what boys latch onto and girls seem to idolize in the eyes of the masses and especially the guys in charge of these kinds of programs. They want the easy sell, and it doesn’t get any easier than a bad boy with a tragic past of sorts working on redemption. Never mind it’s all a blatant lie. But I guess my analysis of this whole scenario is moot by now. I continue to bash you over the head with it because you’re willing to listen after all.

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So while on his way home from another long day of solo grinding, Kirito comes across the pictured bunny rabbit. SAO has established that food is a thing (much to my chagrin), so it turns out the reason Kirito kills this animal is for the meat. See, this “monster” while probably worth all of NOTHING in terms of EXP or col, drops uber rare ingredients with which to cook.

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So naturally Kirito decides to slaughter the thing in cold blood. Remember, this is the same asshole who was AGAINST killing NPCs in a town as a diversion tactic to spare the lives of REAL players. Say it with me now: HYPOCRISY!

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Kirito drops by Floor 50 to see Agil, his go-to encyclopedia of items from within Aincrad. We see here that the meat of the slaughtered rabbit is called Ragout Rabbit Meat, and according to Agil is an S-class rare item. In other words, it’s damned rare. Though how Agil knows this since the screen only says the name of the item and not a class rank is beyond me. He even claims never to have seen one before.

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Agil suggests Kirito EAT the uber rare meat instead of selling it, as he’s already loaded with col to begin with. Two years of solo grinding, selling loot and on top of that the sweet funds from the dead members of Moonlit Black Cats certainly would put Kirito among the wealthiest players of SAO. I hate to repeat myself but I have to.

What’s the benefit of eating food in SAO? None.

What’s the benefit of selling ingredients? Col. Lots of it.

What’s the benefit of the cooking skill? None.

See, this whole food nonsense wouldn’t bother me so much if food was given a REASON to be consumed outside the contradictory “need” to eat. All MMOs do this; food provides benefits. Buffs. HP restoration. ANYTHING. The fact there’s a cooking skill has to point at some kind of USE for food in general. I wouldn’t put it past a developer to include a useless skill just for that touch of immersion or even as a joke. But in SAO cooking exists solely because it helps support the lie that SAO is a “real” world. Which it isn’t. And is constantly pointed out by both the characters and Aincrad itself. In fact, when sane people start to think like Agil here, it’s a sign that the populace within the game is starting to become mentally ill. These people need to get back to reality pronto, before the damage caused by SAO becomes too great to repair. We’ll talk more about that come Season 2.

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When Kirito and Agil both lament their lack of a high enough cooking skill to prepare the rabbit meat, who should show up but the only person in all SAO with a mastered cooking skill? Good old Asuna, always brought out of the stable to be mounted when the plot demands it.

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On the one hand, I buy that Asuna knows more about cooking ingredients than virtually any other player in all SAO (save Argo the Rat). On the other, I don’t buy that she knows about this ragout rabbit or the fact that its meat is also uber rare. Hell, I wonder if even Kirito knew about it. I’m willing to bet he killed the thing just because it was trying to run for its life the minute it saw Kirito. Hell, I would too.

Asuna agrees to cook the rabbit as long as she gets to eat half of it. Man, I am so glad this is totally NOT a game and such a rare item would in any other logical video game would only be usable by ONE person and not two, since it would provide a godly buff of some kind to aid the player during a serious pinch situation. So glad.

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What’s more, Asuna agrees to cook it at her place and invites Kirito over. The way she speaks is so obviously that of someone who still blurs the line between game and real world. From Asuna it’s accepted, since she’s something of an idiot and it would make sense she doesn’t trust someone enough to show off her in-game home. Never mind that being a game and within a safe zone of town, she cannot actually be hurt in any way. This was established back in Episodes 5 and 6, if you recall. I’m surprised Asuna was stupid enough to buy a house at all; though I really shouldn’t be.

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Enter Kuradeel, one of the dumbest inclusions in this series by far. And THAT’S saying something. This utterly charming fellow has been assigned as Asuna’s bodyguard, and is of course against her plan to cook for Kirito in the absolute SAFETY of her own home. Asuna tells the prick to fuck off, since he is serving at HER behest, but he sticks to his stubborn guns because…? Well the plot demands it, really. You’d think being assigned to protect one of the prettiest girls in all SAO he’d be more chill about it all. This stick-up-his-ass attitude is winning him no favors, but can we really fault him for the shitty writing? He exists solely to be an antagonist for the sake of being one.

When Asuna points out that Kirito is probably (more like definitely) stronger than Kuradeel, the idiot immediately latches onto the idea that Kirito is a beater. God I hate that term. Regardless, this shouldn’t even be a surprise anymore given that Kirito routinely assists the front line with boss fights, and he’s probably the most famous beater of them all. But on top of being pointless he’s also got to be stupid, too.

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I could take the time to pick apart every single stupid thing he says. I could. But I won’t. It’s not worth the effort. He’s so badly written it would be a waste of my time and yours. Thankfully, even Asuna can’t stand his stupidity and pulls rank on him. She tells him to fuck off, a direct order from his superior officer, and then leaves him behind in the middle of the street. If that was always an option, why let the fucker even speak his mind? I guess I’m expecting military levels of discipline from loser gamers in a guild, and that one is on me.

Asuna’s home is on Floor 61, a pretty mostly-ocean floor that’s also on a floor so strangely numbered no one else is around anymore. Props to Asuna for going out of her way to achieve privacy. When Kirito comments on the pros, Asuna suggests he buy a house on the floor as well.

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WHAT? YOU DON’T HAVE ENOUGH MONEY?! Motherfucker you make daily forays into the wild for EXP and money and loot. Not to mention the Moonlit Black Cats treasure trove while not a fortune is still a lot more than your typical haul of hunting even on these highest floors. Don’t fucking lie about not having enough money when clearly you’re just hogging it all in the tiniest hope you can put it to use for an uber piece of equipment should the opportunity arise.

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Kirito asks if it was okay to tell Kuradeel the idiot bodyguard to fuck off, to which Asuna mentions she was against the idea from the start. This claim that it’s policy for leaders is such bullshit. Granted, we never see other leaders of any guild in any real capacity, at least not the large ones like the one Asuna belongs to. But later on we’ll see that this “need” for a bodyguard is a complete lie and is only meant to have someone keep an eye on Asuna. No, not for reasons of security or what have you. Normal reasons like that. It’s because she’s a girl. A pretty one. And the guild needs a pretty face to keep the men fapping at night.

No, I am not kidding. Watch come the next couple episodes.

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Asuna is indeed a fucking moron to have spent 4 million col on housing. Remember that for the Moonlit Black Cats to get a guild house it was going to cost them 200,000 col. Is housing more expensive the higher up you go? If so, why? Moving between floors is almost instantaneous. What’s the point of increasing the cost of housing the higher up you go? Hell, skip all that; what’s the point of spending even 1000 col on any kind of permanent lodging? This is where Kirito had the right idea: he stays in inn rooms every night as its cheaper and far more convenient than buying a place. That and it’s virtually free for him given the fact his old guild left him a nice little nest egg.

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I also like that Kirito didn’t even bat an eye at the total cost. And he admits to both himself and the audience that he is indeed filthy rich thanks to his self-centered gameplay habits.

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I love that the rabbit Kirito killed was probably half the size of the SLAB OF MEAT it dropped. Consistency! We’re also treated to a short bit where Asuna “cooks”, which basically amounts to tapping every ingredient with a knife and then dumping it all into a pot that goes into the oven.

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Then why the hell did you take up the skill? I ask because the novels specifically point out that any skill a player takes (including nonsense ones like cooking) eats up one of a limited number of slots. The same slots are also shared by COMBAT skills! Asuna would rather have her mastered cooking skill than something that could actually help her in battle. In a game where death is real. Do you not see why this cooking nonsense is… FUCKING STUPID?!

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And after all that we don’t even get to see the completed meal. This isn’t quite as bad as when we didn’t get to see the boss fight with the demon zombie Santa Claus back in Episode 3, but it’s still a slap to the face.

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Okay, THAT’S a scary thought. I’ve said it before, but once you start forgetting what life was like back in the real world, that’s when you have to commit harder to finishing this game. To keeping alive traditions and memories of what life was like in the real world. I’m not kidding when I say that had SAO been handled from a different perspective, it would have been a rather good insight into how being displaced from society affects people. Ham-fisted because it’s Japanese, but still insightful. Instead we get virtual reality characters sipping tea that does nothing. Not even quench a thirst because a thirst cannot possibly exist in this virtual world.

I’ve said it before: Log Horizon did it better.

Still, both of them lament how the front line has dropped to 500 people or less, as more and more of them are becoming so accustomed to SAO that they’re losing the drive to finish. It was bound to happen, and I’m actually glad the anime points it out. I know as the heroes of the story neither of them will default from this goal, but it actually would have been an interesting plot point. As disgusting a human being as Kirito is, he’s actually the one person I would imagine would quit the game as to prevent it from being finished.

Kirito in the real world is just another loser kid who will likely become another faceless cog in the machine of life. And while he’s still young, he’s old enough and at the right age to doubt his place in the world, as well as fear what’s to follow finishing school. What’s more, he’s been given this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live in a fantasy world. It’s not perfect, but here he is someone important. He’s the hero of this fable, at least in his own eyes. And while it was fun for two years, the end is almost in sight. If it ends, he goes back to being no one. He loses everything he’s gained. So why would he want to finish the game? It would only make sense Kirito would drop out of the race to finish the game as to prolong the duration of his fantasy world.

In fact, I almost want to say his carefree attitude involving completion reflects this desire. And really, would it be so out of line for Kirito to turn on his fellow man to keep this world going? Circumstances pan out differently, but Kirito could easily have become a member of Laughing Coffin, the murdering guild, to make sure those intent on finishing the game never do. This would have actually given the anime a dramatic turn so refreshing for the genre SAO could have become a classic. But sadly, this is all just a flight of fancy.

Asuna is still committed to returning, as she was never tempted by what SAO had to offer. A possible conflict between these two, where Kirito fought to keep SAO alive indefinitely and Asuna fought to end it would have made for some compelling storytelling. Even if Asuna being on the side of “good” was a privileged rich girl and Kirito on the side of “bad” a lowborn nobody.

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And then in the middle of this rather deep reflection on the state of the populace, Asuna kills the mood by rejecting a marriage proposal Kirito didn’t even have in mind to offer.

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Well, the first girl he got close to he let die to keep a secret. Silica is underage and stupid. Lisbeth would have been a nice match but she jumped on his cock too fast to seem natural. There’s no one else for Kirito to want to be with. And he has to be with someone, because the plot and convention demands it.

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Not a question you want to be asking, Asuna. The last guild he joined he single-handedly caused the massacre of. Not that he’ll ever tell anyone. Even you.

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And it’s this kind of thinking that makes Kirito a complete asshole. Asuna would be wise to stay the fuck away from him, as he’d likely let her die if she so much as inconvenienced him. Look at what happened to Sachi.

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So naturally Asuna asks to party up with him. I think Asuna has a death wish.

So the next day, Kirito is waiting by a portal for Asuna. Seems they’re going to go hunting for whatever reason, when suddenly Asuna comes flying out of the portal and crashes right into him.

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Kirito then proceeds to fondle Asuna’s breast like this for about… seven seconds. Remember that it was mentioned any kind of improper behavior (such as fondling) would be a one way ticket to prison as per the game’s rules. So it’s at this point we see the game teleport Kirito away back to the first floor while Asuna is left in tears on the floor, feeling violated by someone she might have considered a friend and not too bad a person. Except he never was to begin with so this was probably the best outcome ever. Your boob will recover, Asuna. Sachi and the others Kirito murdered will not.

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Sadly we all know that doesn’t happen, and instead we see that Kuradeel is a stubborn jackass who takes his mission too seriously. He stalks Asuna from outside her home and would probably catalog her bowel movements if such a thing were possible in SAO. This is trademark creepy behavior, and all she would have to do is take it up with the Guild Leader and have him removed. It’s that simple, really. Instead she chooses to hide behind Kirito? Okay, sure. That works, too.

I don’t think I can better describe Kuradeel outside “poorly written”. He literally walks up to Asuna, grabs her by the wrist, and begins to drag her against her will back to HQ. Asuna is not a kid needing to be watched over by a nanny. She’s a (mostly) grown woman who is not only your superior, also ORDERED YOU to fuck off. But this whole scene exists just so we can have Kirito step in on her behalf like a white knight. In black. With an equally black heart. Irony…?

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If Kuradeel’s concern is that Kirito is a low level, why not simply show his level to him to prove him wrong? I’m sure he’s a level-headed individual who upon seeing a much higher level player than both himself and Asuna would gladly entrust her care to him. It’s only logical, right?

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You gotta be fucking kidding me. But if it’ll shut Kuradeel up, sure.

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Naturally Kirito wins just by breaking Kuradeel’s sword. A sore loser to the end, he makes that pathetic claim before Asuna again tells him to FUCK OFF. Why wasn’t this a viable first option before this pointless duel? I don’t know. And somehow Asuna feels she herself is to blame? Humility! Because the plot demands it.

Their grinding grounds turn out to be the Floor 74 dungeon, the most dangerous place to kill monsters as of this point. I guess that makes sense. I mean the odds of getting killed are highest there for what amounts to a day of faffing about. But since these two are unfairly good at the game they are in virtually no danger.

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They make it to the boss room and decide to have a peek inside, since alone they are no match for the boss. We get a brief look at this boss, dubbed The Gleam Eyes, before the episode ends. The way the operatic music kicks in, you’d think we’re supposed to feel intimidated by this monster. Except since monster designs throughout the series have been wildly inconsistent, there’s no way to know for sure if this goat looking thing is any more dangerous or scary than a skeleton or the lizardman Kirito fought at the start of the episode.

But I’m scared. Sure. Because the music told me so.

Sword Art Online, Episode 8 Rant