Project #48: Sword Art Online (SAO) Part 2

*Somewhere outside Nitsuj’s house* (???): There’s Nitsuj’s house we finally made it. (???): Good, let’s get him! (???): No! You heard what master said. We need to take out those AI girls first. Then Nitsuj will be easy pickings. (???): I really don’t see why master is so worried about this he doesn’t really look all that strong. *One of the AIs see Nitsuj walk around his house shirtless through binoculars* Woah, at a closer look he’s kinda hot. (???): Oh please he can’t be all that *sees Nitsuj shirtless* woah~ yippe kay yay! Not bad, I almost feel sorry that we have to kill him. (???): Can we focus? Let’s just hack into his system and take out those AIs. (??? & ???): Roger!

*Back in Nitsuj’s house. Nitsuj has put on a shirt and is about to do his review* Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj. Well last week I got caught off guard with SAO and found out that the anime had more episodes to show me. I have to admit I’m a little confused at this turn events to continue the anime especially after how well the last episode ended. Well let’s see what the 2ndhalf has to offer. Let’s continue looking at SAO.

Opening and Ending Theme

The opening this time is “Innocence” sung by Eir Aoi. Unlike the first opening which took me some time to get into this song earned my approval right off the bat. The instrumental is nice and upbeat, the singer is fantastic, and the overall feeling of the song is heavy. There’s a strong sense of emotional weight in this song like you feel that the stakes have risen this time around and that Kirito has more to lose this time. The ending this time is “Overfly” by Luna Haruna. It’s a very nice, peaceful, and upbeat. While I prefer the first ending over this one I admit that this ending is fitting for the series it almost feels like it could work as an opening as well. Also for some reason this song reminds me of Time Machine by Hatsune Miku. I don’t know the two songs just sound alike to me.

Episodes 15-20

We start off the second half of the anime by getting introduced to Kirito’s sister/cousin Suga voiced by Ayana Taketatsu (Éclair from Dog Days) who practices kendo and secretly has a crush on Kirito even though she knows they’re cousins (oh you dirty DIRTY girl). We find out 2 months have passed since Kirito beat SAO and surprisingly he’s doing very well despite being in a coma for 2 years. That’s pretty amazing, usually a person has to go through years of physical and psychological therapy to recover from something like that. Nothing less from the badass known as Kirito. He has a sparring match with Suga where we see that even though he’s recovered from SAO old habits die hard. He still uses his fighting style he used in the game to fight Suga (scene here: https://youtu.be/zaQd3zlqYIs). After the sparring match he goes to visit Asuna who along with 300 other players haven’t woken up yet (I guess they’re not morning people). While visiting her he finds out that Asuna is going to be wed to this creepy disgusting scum sucking cock munching asshole known as Sugou voiced by Takehito Koyasu (Raizer from Highschool DxD) even though she’s in a coma. Sugou easily figures out that Kirito and Asuna had a thing for each other and rubs it in Kirito’s face that he’s going to marry Asuna and there’s not a thing he can do about. Heartbroken that his love is going to be taken away he goes back into his room where he sits there crying in silence (what the hell is this? This is not Kirito. Who’s this bitch in his room crying his eyes out while we the viewer wonder where his balls are is not Kirito. The real Kirito was a badass who would kicked this guy’s ass in the middle of the hospital just for touching Asuna. What happen to that Kirito? I want that Kirito bring him back ASAP). The next day he receives an e-mail from Agil showing a picture of Asuna from another game (it begins again).

We cut to the next day in episode 16 where he goes to meet Agil who in real life owns and operates a bar (Hey, check this out. Whaddya buyin’ *laugh* heard that in a game once). He tells Kirito that there’s a new game in town called ALfheim Online or ALO for short and that the picture of Asuna came from the game (wait a minute people are still playing these virtual reality games despite the fact that 4,000 people worldwide died from the previous game!? What the hell is wrong with you people!? If this shit happen in the real world the government would have pulled this stuff from stores immediately. People died, I don’t care how cool it is get your act together people). He’s tell them that the game is divided into 9 races of fairies each racing to reach the top of this massive tree called the World Tree. In the game, there are no actual levels (interesting), using skills improves skills (hate that), combat depends on a player’s physical abilities (a game that encourages use to exercise!? They said the day would never come), player killing is encouraged (oh good, like video games don’t have enough violence issues already), players can fly (that’s kinda cool), and yes there is magic in this game (https://youtu.be/J4HxeRtV-ZA). After seeing that the game is made by Sugou’s company Kirito quickly figures out that he’s holding Asuna captured in his own game and Kirito rushes home to put on his Nervegear and dive into the ALO-atrix (https://youtu.be/qjBRNqwDPrU) saying that playing a game where you can die is too easy (0_0 okay, I’m not gonna lie that was a pretty badass line. Kirito is back bitches). He logs in using Kirito as his username (letting the enemy know you’re here and that you’re coming for him. I like it) and he chooses the Spriggan race as his character (I think he just choose this race because their wearing black). Once inside the game he sees that his player stats from SAO have been carried over except his items (wait a second that means. . .Yui). Kirito checks his items and luckily Yui’s heart is still there and not corrupted like the other items (thank God). He revives Yui (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKTQmOAJmrw, *tears run down face* tears of manly joy folks) and turns her into a navigational pixie to help him on his quest (so much cuter and helpful than Navi will ever be). Yui explains that the servers used in the game are copies of the servers used in SAO which means the game of ALO takes place in the same world as SAO (laziness on the developers part if you ask me). As he’s learning how to fly he spots a female character being attacked by some other players and comes to her aid to end the episode (scene here: https://youtu.be/7mAOWoqWIHw).

In episode 17 Kirito saves the girl fairy whose name is Leafa of the Sylph tribe (it’s gonna be his sister isn’t it?). After learning how to fly from Leafa, Leafa takes Kirito to a Sylph village (so green. Did the Wizard of Oz design this place?) where they talk about trying to reach the top of the World Tree (why fight to the top? Let’s just chop the damn thing down). She tells him that the tree is protected by powerful guardians and that the race who reaches the top of tree will be turned into a new powerful race of fairies by Oberon the King of Fairies and be allowed to fly unlimited (lame prize if you ask me). After seeing Kirito’s determination to reach the top (you call it determination I call it man’s libido) she decides to help him and logs out where we see that Leafa is actually Suga (called it) who can’t piece together that Kirito is her brother (or cousin or whatever way you guys are related). We then cut to Asuna being held captive by Sugou who is actually Oberon the King of Fairies in the game (well he’s a fairy I’ll give him that but he’s no king). He reveals to Asuna that he captured her and the 300 other players to be test subjects in his memory control project (using video games to alter the minds of players: http://youtu.be/lWN-a-A8ock?t=27s). He threatens to alter Asuna’s mind if she doesn’t cooperate with him and leaves leaving Asuna in despair and silently call for Kirito to save her (save yourself. Come on your Asuna one of the most badass female anime characters I’ve seen you can easily figure a way out of this. Don’t turn into a damsel in distress).

Not much really happens in episode 18. Suga leaves her party much to the leader’s displeasure and tells Kirito to watch his back (Ha! If he only knew who Kirito was he would be scared shitless). While that’s going on Asuna finds out that Kirito is still alive which makes her happy and she figures out the lock to her cage (no matter how safe the caged bird is it will always seek the freedom of the sky. And having your love interest out there waiting for you only makes you want to escape the cage even more). Sugou continues to impress me at how big of an asshole he can be (watching Kirito kick this guy’s ass is gonna feel like sex) and for the rest of the episode Suga and Kirito make their way to the World Tree and take turns logging out since they’re in dangerous territory to eat and take a bath. We also see that Suga is slowly falling for Kirito (*laughs* oh I so can’t wait till she finds out Kirito is really her brother it’s going to be funny~).

In episode 19 Kirito and Suga go into a cave to reach the World Tree and rest up at a town in the cave. While making their way to town they get attacked by another group of fairies called Salamanders who specialize in fire magic. With nowhere else to run they’re force to fight the Salamanders (fight scene here: https://youtu.be/PIfzhHy7aXM. And they said illusion magic was useless in battle. Useless my ass). After beating the Salamanders and reaching the town Suga finds out from her friend Recon that their party leader Sigurd is working with the Salamanders and that they plan to attack the leaders of Slyph and Cait Siths (cat fairies) who are planning to establish an alliance with each other. If the Salamnders disrupt the alliance and kill the leaders they’ll get 30% of the territory’s money and be allowed to invade that territory for 10 days and enforce whatever tax laws they want (I like this penalty idea. It’s evil, rewarding, and it allows you to crush the opposing team mentally). Suga tells Kirito that there’s a good chance they’ll die and have to start back over again from their last save spot and tells him that aligning himself with the Salamanders would be in his best interest to reach the top of the World Tree. But Kirito just says fuck them and sticks with Suga saying he’s going to help out his friends. He grabs Suga’s hand, does a Sonic dash past the monsters, out of the cave and they make their way to the alliance meeting (he’s the fastest thing alive, he’s the fastest thing alive~).

In episode 20 Kirito and Suga make it to the meeting just in time where Kirito gets into a fight with the commander of the Salamanders Eugene who is said to be the strongest player in the game (yeah I call bullshit). Kirito makes a bluff that he’s the ambassador of his race and that his race along with another race called the Undine are thinking of forming an alliance with Slyph and Cait Siths as well. Eugene doesn’t believe him and the two fight with Eugene saying that if Kirito wins he’ll believe his story (fight here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGg7imL4-q8. DAMN). With his defeat Eugene has no choice but to believe Kirito’s story and withdraws with his troops for today (he just got Kiritown’d). After being exposed as a traitor, Sigurd is stripped of his title and banished from Slyph territory (too lenient). After hearing that the new alliance is planning an expedition to the World Tree in a couple of days Kirito donates a large sum of money to aid them in their war effort (the male video game version of Oprah Winfrey) and he departs with Suga. We end the episode with Asuna through playing the damsel in distress role (hopefully) and escapes her cage.

Episodes 21-25

In episode 21 ALO is down for maintenance so Kirito and Suga are forced to logout for a day. While they’re logged out Kirito and Suga go to visit Asuna in the hospital and as you would imagine the situation is quite awkward for Suga since she finally gets to meet the woman her beloved cousin loves so much. Back in the game Asuna escapes her cage and finds the room where the minds of the other 300 players are being kept and experimented on. She tries to log them out but she gets captured by some slug scientist with tentacles (I think we all know what time is. . .rape time! Tentacle style). They throw her back in her cage but she snatches a key card behind their back before being thrown in the cage (back to damsel in distress role again. Way to downplay one of your best characters anime). Now I’m pretty sure a lot of you are wondering why didn’t Asuna just logout of the game after she escaped well I have a few theories about that. One, she’s been stuck a virtual world of life and death for 2 years without being able to logout so chances are it slipped her mind completely. Second, maybe Sugou is preventing her from logging out. He is the administrator so he’s pretty much free to do whatever he wants. Third, if she tries to logout I’m sure Sugou has some system in place to stop her from logging out. These reasons are understandable and seem logical but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that she could have jumped from the World Tree and flew down to the town below where I’m sure she would have ran into Kirito, told him about the situation of what’s going on in the game, and then devise a plan to break into the World Tree find the remaining players, free them and then kick Sugou’s ass for fucking with them. Think Asuna think. Kirito and Suga log back into the game where they reach the town at the base of the World Tree (alright, let’s find the nearest weapons store, ask for an axe and chop that tree down). We end with Yui sensing Asuna and Kirito flying off to her.

Revelation happens in episode 22. Kirito tries to fly up to the world tree but is stopped by some invisible barrier (use the boost to get through). Yui calls out to Asuna who hears her and tosses down the administrator key card to let them know she’s here. After getting the key Kirito bids farewell to Sugu and goes into the World Tree himself to reach the top (are you mad man!? That’s suicide! You’ll be dead before you even reach the top). He enters the tree and gets attacked by an army of guardian pixies. He does manage to take out lots of them but they start to fire arrows at him (cheaters) and deplete his health bar causing him to die (scene here: https://youtu.be/YMO13F_J1BY. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Wc3kwv0Ddw or http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVH1ICPLfnk. I couldn’t decide which one to use). As he floats there waiting to reincarnate (which is like 9 minutes. Talk about a long time to respawn. And people complain about Call of Duty and Battlefield’s respawn time) Sugu comes in, gets his soul out of the tree and revives him. After being revived he’s about to go back into the tree (if at first you get killed try again) but Sugu stops him saying it’s impossible to do it alone (I agree with the incest-loving cousin). After Kirito calls out Asuna’s name Sugu realizes (what we already knew) that Kirito is actually her brother and he realizes that Leafa (aka Sugu) is actually his cousin (*starts to laugh loudly* Sugu’s reaction is priceless). They both logout and Kirito approaches Sugu where she tells him that she had fallen in love with both of his identities (trying to get the best of both worlds eh Sugu?) and how she knew they weren’t siblings at all. She then locks herself in her room where she doesn’t want to be disturbed (you know I just realized something. Where’s the mother in all of this? Seriously, we haven’t seen her at all and we know she’s alive and lives with them so don’t give that she works overseas bullshit).

The show picks up where it left off in episode 23 with Kirito and Sugu not knowing what to say to each other. So they both log back into the game and fight each other (scene here: https://youtu.be/Ie1zFLZutE0, well this was anti-climactic). They decide to once upon go into the World Tree and reach the top again this time with Sugu and her friend Recon providing support for Kirito as he fights his way through the endless guardians. At first the strategy seems to be working with the guardians setting their sights on Sugu and Recon. Recon sacrifices himself to draw fire away from Sugu and uses a self-destruct spell to take some of them down (I just what you to known Recon, even though you showed Sugu your manly side your sacrifice was pretty pointless. It was manly, but pointless). When all seems lost the alliance of Slyph and Cait Siths come in to help out and with their help Kirito is able to break through the forces and reach the door which leads to the top of the World Tree (scene here: https://youtu.be/MFsbJcng8Ns). After he reaches the door he finds out that it won’t open (WHAT). Yui pops out and tells him that the door has been locked by the game administrators meaning the game was never meant to be beaten by anyone (why. . .you. . .sons of bitches! How dare you create a video game to be unbeatable! This is the greatest taboo when making a video game! What kind of fucked up world do you come from where you think creating a fucking video game to be fucking unbeatable is okay!? What do you think this is the 80s). But, Kirito pulls out the card key and has Yui use it to open the door to the top of the tree (HA! Take that administrators).

Things finally reach their climax (I just realized how perverted that sounded) in episode 24 with Kirito and Yui being transported to the top of the World Tree where they see there’s no castle at all (oh come on man! You couldn’t even make a castle? Fuck you Sugou you spat in the face of gamers fuck you). They reach the cage of Asuna and reunite with her (scene here: https://youtu.be/T6YGLHkk9hY, it’s a Kodak moment). As they celebrate, their happy reunion gets interrupted by Sugou who hits them with high gravity magic that forces Yui to retreat and have Kirito and Asuna fall to the ground. Sugou shows up and stabs Kirito with his own sword and chains up Asuna where he plans to molest and rape her right in front of Kirito (Oh my God I can’t stand this guy! Every time I see him I want to kick his ass. The character is literally asking me to kick his ass). As Kirito lays on the ground powerless he hears the voice of Akihiko (or as Sugou likes to call him: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkbHS3U9lJM) who encourages him to get back up and fight and gives Kirito his administrative powers. Using Akihiko’s administrative powers he strips Sugou’s ID of its privileges and challenges him to a fight with no pain absorption (scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H4dTutMgAgg. Woo~, that was ecstasy). He logs out Asuna and the remnants of Akihiko’s mind (the part that didn’t go crazy I assume) show up and gives Kirito an item called The Seed and disappears. Kirito logs out and rushes to the hospital to see Asuna.

In the final episode Kirito makes it to the hospital where he gets attacked in the parking lot by Sugou (cops! Help! Someone is literally being attacked in the parking lot of a hospital. If this was real life Sugou would have been arrested on the spot). Sugou is about to stab him with a knife but Kirito fights back, disarms him, and instead of killing the bastard he decides to let him live and leave him for the police (scene here: https://youtu.be/MTo8ZfLolwM). He goes up to Asuna’s room (where his arm has magically healed from the knife stab) where the two embrace and kiss each other (scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oTlqkOURYgc). We fast forward to May where Kirito, Asuna, and other students who were all trapped in SAO are attending a special school for them. We find out that Sugou was arrested and the crimes he committed were exposed by an employee, and the 300 players who were still trapped have woken up and are doing well. Also the VRMMORPG have taken a critical blow because of Sugou’s scandal (really? The SAO massacre of 4,000 players wasn’t a big enough scandal to kill the VRMMORPG). Later on, the main cast goes to Agil’s bar where they have a celebration for Kirito beating SAO and we see that The Seed Kirito received from Akihiko was a program that allows anyone with a server to create their own VRMMORPG and transfer players to other VRMMORPG easily. He uploads it on the internet for everyone to use which revives the VRMMORPG genre. Later that night Kirito and the others log into ALO where we see Kirito and Sugu have a moment in the sky with each other and the castle from SAO is bought into ALO. The anime ends with everyone flying towards that castle and Kirito vowing to beat all 100 floors.

Final Thoughts

Where to begin? Let’s start with the first half of the anime. The first half is amazing. The story is very good, it hooks you right away and keeps you wanting more. The choice to make the game not have magic was a pretty big risk but it works out well in the end. They actually succeeded in proving that an RPG can work without magic. The characters are great. Kirito is an awesome main character, he’s strong, courageous, smart, a badass and he has moments when he’s funny and childlike. Asuna as I’ve said before is one of the most badass heroines I’ve seen in an anime. She’ independent she’s not gonna wait around for others to save her or do the work for her she’s gonna take the lead and get the job done herself. She has excellent sword skills and is quite smart and clever that she’s almost on par with Kirito which is why the two make such a good couple. They’re both strong and independent but they realize they can only get so far with their abilities alone so when they need a party member to watch their back they know that they can depend on each other. The other characters are also good and funny. While not as well developed and not getting as much screen time as Kirito and Asuna you get to know them enough to like and care for them. The action is awesome, it’s fast-paced, exciting, and totally feels like an RPG battle and there are parts that make you feel and emotional like certain characters dying or moments where characters are reunited. My only problem with the first half is that they didn’t give Akihiko a reason for trapping them in the game. That’s pretty important and something that needs to be clarified. The man cost 4,000 people to lose their lives so I think we deserve an answer as to why he did all of this? But other than that I really have no complaints about the first half. It had a good story, excellent characters, well-done fight scenes, and it kept you wanting more.

The second half is where the anime starts to fall apart for me. It’s not bad it’s still good but not as good as the first half especially the way the first half ended so strongly. Kirito is back in the real world, he beat the game and despite him being weak he still pulls himself up to go look for Asuna even though chances are she might be dead. That scene at the end of episode 14 with him pushing himself to leave the hospital and search for Asuna despite being weak was done beautifully. You can sense his determination and concern to find Asuna and make sure she’s safe. It would have been better to just end the anime right there after the first half and then come back after a few months and show the second half. The second half brings back the magic element to the game as if to say the author of the series knew that he was running out of ideas for combat and decided to retract his previous statement from the first half and just add in the magic element to give himself more freedom and creativity. The problems with the second half is that we never get to explore the world of ALO as we did SAO, we never got to see the other races, or see how the magic combat works in this world. All we did was just go to three towns, had 2 or 3 major fights and then saved the day. Kinda lame and not really all that exciting to me personally. Sugu isn’t really that strong a female lead as Asuna was in the first half either. I’m sure the author was trying to develop her character more during this arc to see how far he could go with Sugu’s character but I just don’t see her becoming a good female lead. I could see her being a companion of Kirito but as a female lead not so much. I also don’t like what they did to Asuna in this half. They turned this amazing character into a damsel in distress who almost does nothing and is just waiting to be saved by the hero. That’s not Asuna, she doesn’t need rescuing she can get herself out of bad situations. I will say however that I like Sugou as the villain this time around. He’s evil, stuck-up, over-confident, and just a straight up asshole that you really do come to hate and despise so when he gets what’s coming to him at the end you feel satisfied and happy. I also like the idea and story of the game in the second half plus being able to fly is cool but I just wish we had more time to explore the world, see more of the combat with magic, some quest, and the other races.

The animation is great in both seasons I love the floating castles and the creatures we got to see in each. Some of the most creative stuff I’ve ever seen done that it actually puts a few RPGs to shame. I like the music as well. It seems they went with full orchestra music for the series and in all honesty it fits the series quite well. As I said before the action is great so you won’ be disappointed with that. There’s not really that much fanservice in the anime so for those of you out there who are too anal about fanservice can relax and enjoy the series. The themes are also well done in the anime as well. They do a good job at relating the virtual world to the real world and showing how the two worlds are alike and how different they can be from each other. For example, we see that a lot of people have adapted well to the virtual world and don’t seem to mind being stuck in the world forever. Hell, Kirito actually admits in the first episode that he feels more alive in the virtual world than he does in the real world. But after coming back from that world he sees that the feelings and thoughts he had in that world can also work in the real world as well. Which is what a lot of video games today try to prove to gamers today. The world you think is imaginary might just be more real than you give it credit for.

There are a few specials out for the anime but they’re just recaps of a few episodes with a few variety show segments added into the mix. Personally I didn’t care for them but if you want to watch them go ahead it won’t hurt or take away anything from the experience of the anime. There’s also character songs for the series which are all good I liked pretty much all of them except for Yui’s song. I don’t know why, she’s not singing bad nor is the song awful it just didn’t click with me. My favorite however was Kirito’s song since it matches him so well and I’m surprise they didn’t give Klein a character song considering that his voice actor is a very good singer. I mean they gave Sachi a character song and she was only in one episode so what’s keeping them from giving Klein a character song? In the songs the girls are all pretty much singing about Kirito and how they like him while Kirito is singing about Asuna.

Final Score

If I was grading each half individually I give the first half a 9/10 with a must watch stamp of approval for its great world, interesting story, and likable characters that keep you wanting more. I give the second half a 6/10. While it has a great villain we don’t get the chance to explore the world and its species and I just don’t like what they did with Asuna in the second half. So if we were to add the scores up and average them out the anime has a final score of a 7.5/10 and I’m still giving this a must watch stamp of approval. This anime is amazing and I can see why so many people liked it so much. Do I think it’s the best anime of 2012? No. Do I think it’s a great anime? Yes and I can tell there’s gonna be a second season since there’s a lot more story to this series. If you want to know what happens next in the series I highly recommend checking out the light novel and start reading at Volume 5 since the anime covered the first 4 volumes (http://www.baka-tsuki.org/project/index.php?title=Sword_Art_Online). Bottom line, this is a great series and if you haven’t watched it yet and you’re a fan of RPGs I suggest checking this anime out you won’t be disappointed. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time on Project Nitsuj.

(Chibi Isis): Nii-chan. . .?

(Nitsuj): Chibi Isis? Is that you? What’s going on?

(Chibi Isis): Intruders. Three of them. AI girls just like Isis. Run. . .they’re coming. . . for you. Nee-chan is. . .
(Nitsuj): Chibi Isis! What’s going on? Chibi Isis! Chibi Isis! Damn!

To be continued in the Project Nitsuj Special: Artificial Intelligence Online (AIO). Tomorrow.

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Thanks for reading. As always feel free to leave a comment or send them along with requests or feedback to iamprojectnitsuj@gmail.com

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2 Comments

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