Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sword Art Online, Please Go Die In A Hole

So I have finally (FINALLY) finished this damn show, after having forced myself to watch it once a week since it started airing in July (good god have I really wasted this much of my life on this travesty).

My initial thoughts on the show, after watching the first episode, were naively hopeful.  Oh, a show about an MMO, I like MMOs, this could be fun!  Kirito and Klein seem to have a good dynamic together, I might be able to watch this!  Everyone is trapped in the virtual MMO and will die in real life if they die in-game?  Sounds like a blast!

...By episode two, I was already disappointed.  Let me just approximately summarize episodes 2-8 of Sword Art Online:

Female character is introduced.  Female character falls in love with Kirito.  Kirito does something fucking stupid.  Female character dies as a result.  Kirito learns nothing and is still an asshat.  Rinse and repeat!  Let's start the show with fucking filler episodes, that sounds like a brilliant way to keep people interested. Also, Klein fucks off and basically disappears, and he was the only character I found even remotely interesting.  Can I just watch The Klein Show instead?  Please?
You know what, on second thought, maybe not
So obvious love interest Asuna gets together with Kirito rather suddenly (character development, what is that), they end up married (what the fuck), and they basically resign themselves to living in Sword Art Online forever.  They even buy a damn house and accidentally adopt a rogue AI in the form of a cute little girl who, as all female characters other than Asuna are wont to do, promptly dies.  Cue battle with ultimate enemy and deus ex machina wins the fight.  Next, please.

But really, you know what my favorite part of the show was?
Too much to hope for
So about halfway through the show Kirito dies, but of course being the Deus ex Machina Digital Jesus that he is, he is resurrected, defeats the ueber-powerful villain, and wakes up in the real world.
Seriously, what part of this made any fucking sense.
And while we're talking about the real world, random medical tangent time.  So Kirito's body has been essentially catatonic for two years while his mind has been busy dicking around in a virtual MMO.  He has clearly been fed intravenously, but he has been unconscious and bedridden.  Muscles start to atrophy after only a few weeks of disuse, so for Kirito to live for two years in a coma would render him completely incapable of moving, let alone walking the minute he wakes up.  Seriously, it would take years of rehabilitation for him to get to this point.
Medical fail
Tangent aside, Kirito wakes up, realizes that Asuna is still in a coma and that she is being creepily observed  by a character that I have lovingly dubbed 'Mr. Rapey' (aka Sugou Nobuyuki).  I shit you not, this character's sole purpose is to make Asuna even weaker than she already is by locking her in a FUCKING CAGE and repeatedly threatening to rape her.
Summary of Asuna's role in the last half of SAO
Good strong female character you've got there, Rape Art Online.  Oh, and the other female character that is introduced?  Kirito's sister (although we later find out Suguha is his adopted sister/cousin thing, of course fucking anime pulls this pseudo-incest shit all the time) is desperately in love with Kirito, and her unnaturally jiggling breasts probably get more screen-time than she does (both in-game and out).  Fanservice, ahoy!
Suguha's upskirt shot, clearly essential to the plot (jiggle jiggle)
Oh, and need I bring up the MAL forum post entitled Suguha's Boobies?  Just in case I needed more reasons to hate anime forums.

The second half of the show involves another virtual MMO, Alfheim Online, which is basically the fairy version of SAO, except that dying in-game has no penalty in real-life - which removes basically any interest from the game itself, as the Adventures of Kirito and Suguha's Boobies pretty much involves them traipsing around doing useless shit while Asuna sits around wearing negligee in her bird cage.  The show basically degenerates from a mediocre shounen MMO fantasy quest to a pointless competition for terrible fanservice.
Cue dramatic breeze
How about the part where Asuna is almost tentacle raped by aliens after she makes her only escape attempt? 
See, woman, this is what happens when you try to leave your cage!
Or how about the scene where two female characters (one of them a catgirl, no less) need Kirito's help, and they decide that wrapping themselves around him is the best way to get it.
Yes let me just squish my breasts like so
And me!
Yes, yes it is
And how does Kirito break through the seemingly impossible barrier to the world tree and save Asuna?  By fucking cheating, as per usual.  He ends up with this magical backdoor key-card that basically lets him break into administrator areas of the game.

Now let's talk about the "final battle" with Sugou (a.k.a. Mr. Rapey a.k.a. Fairy King Oberon a.k.a. stop fucking up Shakespeare for me forever).  Sugou immobilizes Kirito with gravity magic or some bullshit, and then he chains up Asuna and hangs her by her wrists from the ceiling.
Let's make this as uncomfortable as possible
For all women who are watching
This shirt is now DIAMONDS
So Sugou's amazing ultimate final-boss power? He's a rapist. Seriously. He has no chance in a fight unless his opponent is already immobilized, he's a terrible swordsman, and he has no pain tolerance.  First he threatens to rape Asuna in-game (would that be like mind-rape?), then he says that he will go to her hospital room and play her a recording of the mind-rape while he is raping her actual body.  Progress for women everywhere, bravo.

Kirito of course wipes the floor with Sugou, and then he saves his precious 2-D Asuna while leaving Suguha heartbroken (but who cares about that, she was just fanservice material anyway).  Asuna wakes up, Kirito gets stabbed by Mr. Rapey in real life (you have no idea how excited I was at that point) but overpowers him, they all go to a school that rehabilitates people who were trapped in Sword Art Online, and everything is just hunky-dory.  
Izumi is not amused by your shenanigans 
Although I did enjoy watching Kirito get kicked in the face.  I think I shall watch it again.
And again and again and again and again
Which begs the question, why on earth did I keep watching SAO in the first place?  I have a completionist mentality, I'm afraid.  And somewhere, deep down in my heart of hearts, I kept hoping that it would get better.  ...But it got worse.  So much worse.

What bothers me almost as much as the show itself are the rabid fanboys (and fangirls, I suppose that I shouldn't assume).  For some godawful reason that I dare not try to fathom, this show was ranking in the top 80 while it was still airing (although it has since dropped to the 130's).  With some of the worst handling of female characters that I have ever been forced to encounter (and I have played video games obsessively since I was 7 years old, so don't tell me that I don't know what I'm talking about), I weep for how much humanity has declined.
I see what you did there
From what I have read, Sword Art Online seems to be a particularly polarizing anime, with people almost inevitably falling into the "omg this is the best show I've ever seen" camp or the "fuck this show with something hard and sandpapery" camp.  I think it is fairly obvious which camp I fall into.  If it isn't, I leave you with this parting gif:
Everyone loves a classy Disney gif


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Ya gotta admit though, Mr. Rapey's got his evil psychotic rapist laugh down to a "T"! O:

  3. Oh my god...yes. You have flawlessly encapsulated my otherwise inarticulate anger towards this show and/or its creator. And there was so much initial potential, I thought. Thank you so much for this.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it! I really had to force myself to finish SAO just so that I could write this review. The sequel is coming out this summer (UGH), but I honestly don't know if I will be able to sit through more of that misery.... but if I do, be prepared for another rant!

  4. The SAO series itself is pretty nice but IT DOESN'T GET ANY BETTER i have recently purchased the extended edition and it litterally has 1 hour and 20 minuets of recap then finally it gets a bit better when they are going up the floors but then bam end of episode

  5. It had such good potential. The first episode really had me interested. The first half wasn't too bad, and they did do a good job of emphasizing the life and death struggle, and how much it fucked with people's sense of hope. I wouldn't have minded the whole love interest if they hadn't made her such a cliche. You're right, the show just kept going downhill, especially in the second half. The sexualization and objectification of the female characters was appalling. Was there even a single female characters who didn't fall for Kirito and jiggle her boobs a bit at some point? The show had some potential, it really did, but they blew it. There are plenty of decent anime/manga that actually treat their female characters as people (Attack on Titan, Tokyo Ghoul), so it's most definitely a feat that can be accomplished.