SAO 15, and a few episode twos

Sword Art Online 15 brings us what feels to be new season and apparently a new world to fight in, but first we get a depressing episode in the real world where we don’t see the sun shine once.

A friendly new character in the real world.

Kirito (can we still use that name?) is rehabilitating but not yet up to normal strength. He’s attended for the moment by his devoted younger cousin Sugu. We see them spar at Kendo and just hang out while we ascertain what Kirito’s physical and mental situation is. Physical: getting there. Mental: some troubles–nightmares, mind wandering, but you’d expect that. I wonder how much the gamers are allowed to tell their family and friends about the game. Every time Kirito mutters some reference to it around other Sugu he adds a nevermind. Or is he just not talking about it? It must drive poor Sugu crazy at times.

An unfriendly new character in the real world.

Naturally we’re wondering about Asuna. Turns out she hasn’t woken up yet, and Kirito can only visit her in the hospital and hope. While we wonder what’s going on, of course. Now we get some real-life story in the person of Sugou, who’s somehow going to marry Asuna while she’s still comatose. It gets a little ridiculous here. The moment Asuna’s sympathetic father leaves the room Sugou becomes the personification of evil, licking his lips, sniffing Asuna’s hair, basically rubbing it in that he’s going to marry Asuna and Kirito isn’t, not to mention that Asuna hates him in the real world. You know, you can be evil and still be subtle! I know we’re now supposed to officially hate Sugou, but the way he delivered that speech makes it hard to take him seriously.

Meanwhile, in virtual reality …

But we should because Sugou works for the company (Recto) that runs the servers, i.e., they’re keeping Asuna alive. And by the unspoken implication, they’re keeping her comatose as well, for whatever reason. Or is he? After a long night of despair for Kirito (softened by Sugu, unable to face reality and knowing it, climbing into bed with him) Kirito gets a gif in an email that shows Asuna in a game. How did she get there? Did they just pass her along to another online world? It’s blurry, but you can tell she looks unhappy. This sets up an interesting situation next episode, as the farce of a marriage happens in a week. Is she going to get pulled out by then, or will Kirito join her so they can be a couple online, though not in the real world?

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure 2 is as entertainingly overwrought as the first episode, but I wonder how long the novelty’s going to last.

Dun Dun Dun!

We start with a surprise. Jojo and Dio on the same rugby team, cooperating, teaming up to get a needed score and acting like they’re the best of buds. But it can’t possibly be true, and sure enough the show lets us into their minds to show that they still despise each other. And later, when Jojo finds a letter that suggests that Dio is secretly poisoning their ailing father, the seething inner hate comes out in full force again. Woah, does it! Anything these characters do is done with big effects and equally dramatic poses. Can’t they just stand there for once?

Okay, if goons are about to attack you, feel free to pose dramatically.

Jojo goes off to London, specifically, Ogre Street, the worst spot in it, to find a devious oriental mind capable of making the drug poisoning his father. Because we haven’t had a big fight yet he’s quickly pounced on by three, then a whole gang of nasties, until his gentlemanly fighting impresses one of them and tells the others to stop. Meanwhile, Dio, knowing that the mask has some power, comes to London too (not sure why), and discovers just how powerful the mask is. Yeah, plenty of plot this episode. This series doesn’t want to stand still for a minute, and I hope it doesn’t.

Dio’s battle doesn’t go as well as Jojo’s.

There’s hardly a moment where there isn’t sudden lighting change to show the internal mood of a character, along with those dramatic poses, not to mention the written sound effects throughout, the psychedelic color scheme (seriously, this show is like reading a dime novel while tripping), not to mention the churning musical score. It goes all-out the entire time. But can they make it last? I imagine that by episode 5 I’ll be thoroughly bored by all the above. Right now it’s telling (or churning) an interesting story, they better keep it up.

K 2, not the mountain, is so determined to confuse and amuse us that it almost loses any sense of coherency. We start with Shiro about to be skewered by Black Dog, or whatever his name is. We expect some intervention by the Homra guys (the Shizuo wannabe, the skateboard kid, the goth loli. YOU know) but to our surprise Shiro shows he can be pretty devious when someone is about to kill him. Oh, Black Dog is a sucker for sob story. Still, it’s a ridiculous scene and makes you wonder just how effective BD is at his job. So the chase continues and now skateboard kid gets involved (Homra also wants Shiro, it seems), and Shiro messes with both their minds by calling from a rooftop, showing more survival skills than the kid ought to have if he’s a totally innocent fool like he makes out to be.

Nah, don’t listen to him.

That was weird enough but it managed to hold together. The next part doesn’t. Shiro goes to his dorm wondering what it was all about (thus proving that, at least on the conscious level, he’s innocent) and the little white kitten he had befriended turns into a full-blown naked girl. We had seen this last week, so we’re not surprised, but Shiro is, and we’re surprised that he’s surprised. Didn’t he know about “Neko,” as she (of course) calls herself? Then BD shows up, we get another chase, and everything begins to lose its shape. We’re led to believe that the chase goes on all through the night, Neko casting illusions when they get cornered, and they all wind up in the dorm at dawn, hungry for breakfast. That they could run all night was ridiculous, and BD deciding breakfast before duty even more so … the topper being that his sinister briefcase turns out to be something out of Good Eats. I love a sense of fun in my shows, but it’s got to balance out and make sense, not tip the scale over onto the floor.

Let the battle begin!

I don’t have an excuses for Busou Shinki. You could remove the living doll element and add small children, or funny animals and you’d barely have to change a thing past that. The Shinki decide to make a congratulations feast for their master, make a mess of the place, and clean it up before the master gets home. The fact that they’re dolls, sometimes framed all fanservicey, just gives it an eww! feel. But I enjoyed episode 2 in spite of myself. I know it’s using a novelty to hide a mundane story line, but I liked how Hina/Strarf (depending on who’s talking to her) fights off those intruder dolls … and what the hell WERE those girls, anyway? If they’re robotic vermin, like mice, why are they saying nyan and meow all the time? There is absolutely no point to their existence and I loved it. I also felt sorry for Hina, designed for combat but placed in a household where they don’t (normally) fight. What is the point of her existence? I actually felt sorry for her. The shinki cooking disasters section was pretty good as well. I have no excuse.

3 thoughts on “SAO 15, and a few episode twos

  1. In SAO, I don’t think the players are supposed to speak much about the game, as Sugou mentioned aloud after calling Kirito the hero. Sugu probably couldn’t imagine being stuck in a game, and since Kirito doesn’t talk about it openly, maybe his habits don’t register as being behaviors he picked up in a game. I think I recall Kirito saying that the two of them weren’t that close, and that he wondered if Sugu resented him for having the grandfather place all of his kendo expectations on her. Yeah, the show needs more subtlety with Sugou pretty much screaming villain from all of his actions.

    I have the same problem with JoJo as you do. I don’t how long the show can go on with Dio’s seething inner monologues, the written sound effects, etc. although I currently enjoy the show.

    I din’t like that episode of K either. Too much of it was unplausible, especially with the Black Dog carrying cooking instruments in his suitcase.

    Busou Shinki …. is Bushou Shinki. I just inexplicably enjoyed the episode.

  2. One of SAO’s weaknesses is its inattention to the real world. I’m wondering how anyone could force over a thousand gamers to keep quiet about what happened.

    1. Yeah, I am not sure how they are supposed the police the players, and I don’t think that Kirito could have recovered that much in two months time.

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