The date is November 5, 2024. It’s been four days since the last episode, but we aren’t given an exact number of how many people have died between then and now to up Kirito’s kill count. Sad, I know.
What’s more, this episode opens up with one of the most boring images I have ever seen in my life: Kirito fishing. Apparently Asuna wasn’t in the mood for virtual sex.
Before the scene can get any more boring, a seemingly random guy shows up to fish alongside him. Nishida is his name, and he does very little to make this episode any more interesting than it currently is. He explains out of the blue that in the real world he oversaw network security for the internet connections of the SAO servers. Fun tidbit though it was, it does nothing for us or the plot. Nishida catches a fish before lamenting that he can’t even cook them. To which Kirito says he can offer aid.
This is our reward. Gods help us.
You know what really scares me though? The majority of this episode is actually drawn straight from SAO Volume 1. About 23 pages worth of content that quite honestly felt like filler far more than the horrible Yui subplot. Staying true to the source material is all well and good (especially when it works, like in say Haruhi Suzumiya), but here? This was not necessary.
We cut to this awful scene of a poor dead fish with the most terrifying look of HORROR on its face. Asuna cooked the thing for Nishida, and apparently fish bones are perfectly rendered. I know I harp on this anime for the food details but seriously? You mean to tell me it’s actually possible to consume food in a nuanced manner that doesn’t just involve simple bite/chew/swallow actions? Bullshit is called, I’m upset, etc. etc.
With nothing else pressing going on, we get a subplot where Kirito and Asuna agree to help out Nishida with catching a really large fish. Because…you know, that’s a thing? Do you see how utterly pointless this whole episode is and we’re barely 4 minutes in? Yui was just as bad but at least it wasn’t blatantly wasting our time. Just insulting our intelligence. I wonder which is worse?
Kirito and Asuna engage in some equally pointless pillow talk, which brings up the above line. You want to know why Kirito brought him, Asuna?
That’s why. FUCK that’s scary.
They talk about how they have to finish the game to help the people who are trapped in the game, which is hilariously hypocritical considering they have been wasting all sorts of time fucking around this log cabin on Floor 22. There is nothing going on here, people. This is the episode. I’m dying inside too, trust me.
So the next day, we see that Nishida has apparently drawn in a crowd with his mission to catch the giant fish. Complete with custom banners! It’s a good thing this was all programmed into the game, right? Almost as if Kayaba planned for this place to become a virtual real life prison. A literal virtual prison…? I’m starting to fail at words this episode is so boring, bear with me here.
Kirito’s expression is my expression with the amount of NO STAKES being had in this episode.
Eventually Nishida and Kirito both pull the giant “fish” from the lake. It turns out to be this thing. Okay. Can we move on now?
Okay, Asuna kills it dead. NOW can we move on?
I never thought I’d be so happy to see this. In the midst of the celebration of having defeated the giant monster fish, Kirito receives a message from Heathcliff. The two are finally being recalled to the front line, which is a godsend for we the viewer after two and a half unbearable episodes of nothing happening. Kirito laments it’s only been two weeks, but honestly? Fuck you, Kirito. I just want to be done with this arc already.
It’s November 7 when Kirito and Asuna depart, but not before another long scene involving Nishida. We get it, he’s another example of the populace trapped in the game they need to save. And how being trapped in the game was the same as letting their real lives be wasted away. Got it. Move on.
We meet up with Heathcliff again, who informs Kirito and Asuna why they were called back from their vacation time. It seems that after sending in a party to assess the boss of Floor 75, they were completely wiped out. Ten people, dead. Add that to Kirito’s kill count, please.
These 10 were among the best in the game (not counting cheaters Kirito and Heathcliff, mind you). So naturally Heathcliff thinks the best strategy is to send in more people to die needlessly. Because, why not? Fuck them all, am I right?
Regardless, Kirito agrees (of course) and volunteers, his only concession being some guarantee of Asuna’s safety. But she basically tells him to fuck off, that she was going to participate regardless and to keep his chauvinism to himself.
As they wait for the commencement of the hunt, Kirito confesses that he’s totally okay with spending the rest of their lives in SAO, living in the log cabin and enjoying kinky virtual sex. However, Asuna pretty much tells him no, that she doesn’t want to let her prime teenage body rot in a hospital bed in the real world, and that they have to go back. They have to risk it all to return so they can have real life kinky sex instead.
Naturally that’s all the convincing Kirito needs to pull up his big boy pants and double down on the need to finish the game. Great exchange, huh?
So finally the raid party gathers on Floor 75, including Klein and Agil as well. These two die, and you can be certain I’d cry. But they don’t, so no worries. Would almost be more dramatic if they did. In either case, the raid is being lead by Heathcliff, so it’ll be the first time we see him in legitimate action outside the sissy duel with Kirito a few episodes ago.
Heathcliff gives a rather weak pep talk which nevertheless gets the whole party pumped, and then in they go. It was mentioned in the novels that Floors 25 and 50 were especially difficult, and that’s where most of the fear and tension came now that Floor 75 was upon them. Nothing to this effect was mentioned in the anime, so that’s why I had to bring it up.
The party runs into the boss room, only to come face to face with this. Admittedly it’s a rather nasty looking boss monster, and props are due for the design. It also instills fear in the generic party members, so naturally they shit themselves and make idiot mistakes in the process.
And right off the bat two of them are killed with one strike. Add two to Kirito’s death count please.
Despite Heathcliff’s best efforts to safeguard everyone, another poor fool is offed. Add another to Kirito’s death count please.
After an initial strike against the boss, another two are downed with one hit, while Agil managed to survive the same blow. It sucks that nameless characters get killed so easily while those who have associated with Kirito get to endure. So unfair. Also, add two to the Kirito death count.
The episode ends here mid-fight, with Kirito and Asuna going for an all out offensive. We will see how this all ends next time.
Kirito Death Count: 22 (10 members of the initial recon team killed off screen, with another 5 killed in the fight with the boss of Floor 75. Yes, he is responsible for all of them because he could have ended the game last episode.)