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

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