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.

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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.

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Sword Art Online, Episode 9 Rant

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