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.

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Sword Art Online, Episode 8 Rant

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