Your Anime Sucks: Sword Art Online II (Part 3)

Text version and links:

Which was mostly edited by The Davoo:
Part One here:
Part Two here:

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Watch my analysis of the first season here:

SAO book burning video here:

Episode ten

What better way to start off a tense scene where Shinon’s life might be at risk than with a panning shot of her ass?

Later on in the series, we learn that Death Gun is actually a three-man team, consisting of two SAO survivors and Shinkawa, who is one of them’s brother. At any given time, one of the brothers is playing as Death Gun, while the other two break into the houses of his victims and inject them with a killer chemical at the same moment that Death Gun shoots them in the game. We’ll talk about how insane this plan is later, but for now let’s focus on this scene wherein Death Gun is about to murder Shinon.

Assuming that Death Gun’s plan really was to kill Shinon in real life, that means one of the other members of his crew must be in her room right at this moment, standing over her with a syringe full of deadly chemical stuff, ready to kill her. But Shinon doesn’t die here–Kirito swoops in and saves her at the last second. So… what did the other guy do? Did he just go, “oh shit, I guess we can’t kill her now, better hit the road.” Am I seriously to believe that someone had broken into Shinon’s house and was seconds away from killing her, only to stop and leave because Death Gun didn’t pull the trigger in time? They hand-wave it by saying that the kids are watching the MMOStream in order to determine who to kill, but what if Death Gun wasn’t on screen at the moment he shot someone? What if it looked like he’d hit someone but they weren’t totally sure, like in that scene where Shinon narrowly dodges a bullet on the buggy. Just seems like it’s a really messy way to go about this. I’ve got a lot more to say about how insane this entire gimmick of the kids breaking into peoples houses is, but we’ll get to that in a later episode. This scene just stuck out to me as particularly silly to think about.

So Kirito carries Shinon to a station with three buggies and this hilarious-looking horse (show Eva horse), and she’s like “don’t take the horse, it sucks,” so they get on one of the buggies. It bothered me in this scene how Shinon’s voice sounds like she was paralyzed in the real world and not just in the video game, though I suppose it could be a part of the whole voice modifier thing. Kirito tells Shinon to put the ugly horse out of its misery, and she happily obliges, except oh no, I can’t shoot it because my PTSD is back. It’s almost like playing a game about shooting guns when I’m terrified of shooting guns was a really terrible idea!

Naturally Death Gun takes the stupid horse and starts chasing them down, and if this scene was meant to be anything other than hilarious, then it failed miserably. Death Gun is still firing the same gun at them, so I like to imagine that the other guy is still standing over Shinon’s body, constantly half-pressed on the syringe only to stop cause the bullet didn’t connect yet. Death Gun starts catching up to them, so Kirito tells Shinon to shoot him, but she’s being too much of a wuss, so he offers to let her drive while he uses the rifle. I feel like he shouldn’t actually be able to use the rifle, since he’s specced completely differently, but it doesn’t matter because Shinon doesn’t want anyone else using it, stating that it’s “a part of her.” Wait, didn’t you just acquire this rifle at the start of episode two? Was that supposed to be like a flashback or something? How attached to it can you be?

Kirito leans back to help her take the shot, and it sure is lucky that this road goes on in a straight line forever cause he’s not even watching where he’s driving. It’s not enough that Kirito can drive these supposedly super hard-to-use buggies, he’s gotta be able to drive them better than real people can drive real vehicles. The gun’s shaking too much to get a good shot, but Kirito’s like “don’t worry the shaking will stop in five seconds,” and then launches off this conveniently placed car ramp. Wat. Wouldn’t this make it even harder to take the shot?! I guess so, since Shinon hits a car and blows it up instead.

Kirito drives out into the desert and Shinon’s like, hey there’s a cave over there, we can use that to hide from the satellite scan. Wait, what’s the fucking point of the satellite scan if you can just easily hide from it? So I guess camping IS not only possible, but preferred? Okay then the battlefield size make sense, but then why have the satellite scans? Also, why didn’t everyone go for cover immediately to avoid detection? Shouldn’t this mean that the point is to see how far you can get from one piece of cover to the next in fifteen minute bursts while seeking vantage points where you can see other players on the run? Why has everyone just been running around in the open all willy-nilly this whole time?

So Kirito and Shinon take cover in this cave, and you’d better get comfortable ‘cause they’re gonna be in here for a fucking while. Kirito briefly describes his encounter with Gunner X, who it turned out was a woman; and strangely she not only has a more detailed character design than most players, but is actually named, “Musketeer X…” for some reason. Seriously, what, how, why, I don’t get it. I’m guessing Kirito’s battle with Musketeer X was expanded on in the original novels ‘cause I can’t think of any other reason for these distractingly specific details.

Next Kirito monologues about how he’s going to fight Death Gun, and says “if he points that gun at me again, I might just abandon you and run.” SO EDGY! But here’s the thing. Why does Kirito have to fight him? When did that become a thing? What would fighting Death Gun even accomplish? May I remind you that the whole point of this mission was to find out what Death Gun’s deal is and whether or not he’s killing people. That mission is already complete, so what’s left to gain from Kirito putting himself at risk to fight this guy? Sure you could argue that Kirito wants closure over his past, but isn’t it much more important that he gets the information about Death Gun out there and gets him out of this game as fast as possible? You can’t even use the excuse about them not knowing his name anymore, because at this point they’ve already confirmed that Death Gun is Sterben. Why aren’t they doing anything about it?

You see, t here IS a reason that Kirito has to fight Death Gun, but it’s got nothing to do with what makes sense in the context of the story, and everything to do with how the story was written. Death Gun has been built up as Kirito’s big rival, so of course it stands to reason that the two of them are gonna fight in the end–you could’ve figured that much out from the opening scene alone. But it’s precisely because it’s so obvious that you never stop to think about how little sense it makes. Given everything we know about Death Gun, about this situation, and even about Kirito who was reluctant to take this job in the first place, it seems like the most logical course of action would be to logout now, have the tournament postponed, and open an investigation on Death Gun’s character. But because it’s already been determined from the beginning at the conceptual stage that Kirito and Death Gun need to have a gigantic final battle at the end, that’s exactly what happens, regardless of how it fits the narrative.

Before I move on from this scene I also want to point out that as of this episode, Kirito no longer sounds feminine in the slightest. Masuoka Yoshitsugu’s performance of femme-Kirito has been pretty inconsistent from the beginning, which I guess I can’t really blame him for since it’s a weird position to be put in, but at least he seemed like he was trying to sound effeminate up until this point, and then finally just gave up. I guess it’s cause the scene calls for him to look like a badass, so they didn’t want him using the weird girly voice. I’m willing to blame the director for all of this, because I also think that Sawashiro’s performance as Shinon is among the worst she’s ever given, and from someone as experienced and technically proficient as she is, that’s a pretty big letdown. But since no one probably knows what the hell I’m talking about when it comes to Japanese voice actors, I’ll just leave it at that.

Shinon then explains that during BoB you can’t log out on your own. What?! Wait, what?! Hold on… hold on what?! Wait but you can forfeit, right? Kirito just told Shinon that she should log out like a minute ago, wait hold on this can’t possibly be legal, you have to be kidding me. Please say you aren’t telling me that you physically cannot log out during BoB, please tell me that this is not still a fucking thing. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe this is still happening. How many people have to die before this shit becomes illegal? At this point, anyone who puts on one of these helmets which makes your real life body completely useless, and then willingly subjects themselves to a scenario in which they can’t logout, deserves a Darwin award after their inevitable homicide. So I guess that answers my last question, Kirito really DOES have to fight Death Gun if he wants to get out of here, assuming there’s really no way for him to contact the outside world from inside the game. It’s not stupid cause of the narrative, it’s just stupid because all the characters are fucking morons!

Kirito and Shinon share what I think was supposed to be a dramatic moment, though all I read was an onslaught of vague emotional buzzwords. I think this was one of the parts when I first watched this arc all the way through where I remembered that I was alive and started screaming uncontrollably. So after Shinon’s emotional freakout, this line legitimately happens: (even though I hate you, let me lean against you for a while). Great. That doesn’t at all resemble yet another scene of completely forced pandering. Kirito and Shinon then explain their entire emotional subplots to one-another, which is all shit we’ve already heard multiple times so it’s impossible not to get bored. Unless you’re into Shinon’s body, I guess. Oh my god there’s still four more fucking episodes of this.

Episode eleven

Surprising as this may sound, it’s time to give this show a little bit of credit where I think it’s due. If there’s one thing which Gun Gale Online handles better than the first two arcs of the series, it’s the decision to focus on one consistent theme. Kirito’s PTSD is easily the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to his character, even if the show doesn’t really go anywhere with it, and having another character who could bounce their feelings off of him, as well as a villain tied to his dark past, was a good plan. Setting a story about PTSD in a dark and serious, realistic shooter game was an excellent idea, and it got me thinking about how this arc could’ve been great.

Specifically, Gun Gale Online should’ve been Heart of Darkness, aka Apocalypse Now, aka Spec Ops the Line. Instead of being a popular competitive game with all this money transfer bullshit, GGO should’ve been an obscure military shooter game which not a lot of people know about. Rumors circulate in the deep web that people have been getting murdered in this game, and maybe Kirito has some reason to suspect from the beginning that the perpetrator is a former SAO player.

Right from the start, Kirito could be grappling with his PTSD flashbacks, and as he plays through this mysterious game searching for the phantom player Death Gun, he encounters the culture and players of this game and sees how they reflect his own hangups. Shinon could even still be a character, but instead of having her take up half the story and showing her from the beginning, she could’ve been one of many people whom Kirito encounters and learns about on his journey.

But most importantly, Kirito should have been the one who suffers the most from his past hangups, and HE should’ve been learning from everyone else. Instead of having Kirito immediately get over his issues, and then putting the weight of the emotional character development on Shinon, it should’ve been Kirito who is made weak by his realizations of the people he’s killed; and characters like Shinon should’ve been helping him to move past it. This way, not only would Kirito be humanized in his weakness, but Shinon wouldn’t come off as some weak little girl who needs big strong Kirito to make her life better.

At the end of this journey, Death Gun should have confronted Kirito with a deeper realization about himself, sort of like Kayaba did at the end of the first arc. Kirito’s always saying and thinking these things that are meant to make him look morally grey and like he’s not sure if he’d always do the right thing, but you can never buy into it because he always does the right thing in the end. Put him into a situation where he actually has to kill Death Gun in order to save someone’s life, making him relive the same pain that he was trying to put behind him, but ultimately coming to terms with it. And most importantly, involve Asuna in all this. Even if she doesn’t play the game with him, have her be the one who tries to work through Kirito’s mental hangups with him. Have her relate her own stresses over her experience in SAO with him, and let them learn and grow together.

You could keep a lot of the core elements of this arc exactly the same and still make a compelling story out of it. Instead of making this game world overly complicated, just make it straightforwardly realistic. It didn’t even need to have RPG elements, it could’ve just been like a Day-Z style open-ended realistic shooter game. Instead of going to great lengths to explain the mechanics of the game world, we could’ve focused on the culture of that world, which is often the most interesting aspect of massive multiplayer games. Teach us about the people playing this game, and let Kirito adventure through it instead of just putting him in a boring tournament scenario. Cut out all this bullshit about Death Gun being a three-man team, and just make it one really crazy motherfucker who’s using some kind of hacking or something to murder people. It’s already a future sci-fi world where people can get trapped inside of virtual helmets that melt their brains, so why bother with this whole breaking in and injecting people idiocy when you could just make up some sci-fi stuff for why Death Gun can kill people? Just have him be this dark mysterious figure that we don’t know much about and have a really menacing final confrontation with him. Let the themes of the narrative carry the weight of the story instead of relying on boring exposition and pointless side characters.

By the way, if you’re a writer and you think the idea of making a Heart of Darkness story set inside of a Day Z style virtual MMO sounds rad, then by all means take that idea and do as you wish. I’d certainly love to see it made.

Anyways, that’s enough dreaming for now, let’s see what’s happening back in SAO2. (Shinon’s ass zoom). Wow. I did not add in that zoom effect just now. That really happened.

During this scene, Kirito sits here and speculates the entire fucking plot. No joke, he comes up with the idea that Death Gun can’t kill people just by shooting them because he didn’t use his handgun when he tried to shoot Kirito, meaning that he must have to do some setup in the real world to make the murders happen. (This, by the way, confirms that the entire time he was trying to shoot Shinon, the other guy must have been standing over her body. What if he’d accidentally hit Kirito instead?) Kirito then realizes the possibility that there may be two Death Guns after, and I wish I was making this up, noticing a lizard nearby that has two tails. This moment uses the same dramatic zoom that it did on Shinon’s ass–can you imagine how hilarious it would’ve been if he’d realized there were two Death Guns after looking at Shinon’s two ass cheeks?

Kirito goes on to speculate why Death Gun is killing people in this particular way, how he might be breaking into the houses of his victims, what kind of method he might be using to carry out the murders, the reasons that no one has recognized these as murders, and the psychological state of Death Gun’s player, all with complete accuracy. Let’s just add “master detective” to Kirito’s already excessive list of godlike talents. This kid is basically the Batman.

He then tells Shinon, “hey, don’t freak out, but there’s a good chance Death Gun has broken into your house and is currently standing above you waiting for the signal to murder your ass.” Shinon’s heart rate increases, and the game starts threatening to automatically log her out, but then Kirito’s like, wait, calm down! If you log out now, you’ll be in serious danger!” I’m sorry, how is Shinon in less danger being completely helpless with a murderer at her bedside than she would be if she had control of her body? I know if I’d heard there was possibly someone standing over my unconscious body, I would’ve immediately been trying to log out.

For that matter, we’ve now confirmed that it is indeed possible to log out of this game if your heart rate picks up, so why doesn’t Kirito do that to get outside? He could ask Shinon for her home address, do something to quicken his heart rate until he gets booted from the game, then have Shinon stall for time by running around this gigantic map while Kirito goes to her house, hopefully with like an entire police squad at his back. Or he could even just go with having the government official shut down the game, and the guy standing over Shinon’s body would probably get spooked and run away instead of killing her. There’s plenty of options that make sense, and none of them involve staying in this game any longer than you need to.

Back in Spurned Women’s Cafe (8) the government worker guy shows up and for some reason is acting all cheery and douchey like he has no idea what’s going on. Asuna isn’t having that shit, and tries to interrogate him, but when he dances around the questions, Yui just suddenly starts explaining the whole thing. First of all, why the hell does Yui know all of this, and second of all, why the hell is didn’t she explain it to them while they were waiting for this guy to show up? I certainly would rather that this explanation happened off-screen before he arrived so I wouldn’t have to sit through more fucking recap!

Asuna and Klein inform Chrysheit that Death Gun is a former SAO player, which means we’ve confirmed that not only is Kirito not communicating with anyone outside the game, but they have no way of gathering info from him at all. You’d think there’d be some way of bugging him or having him stream everything he sees inside the game. Actually, it just occurred to me, how do you talk in these games? Does the Amusphere intercept your brain waves when you try to speak? That’s the only thing that makes sense, though now I’m wondering how this thing is able to intercept all your brain functionality without being plugged into your head or anything.That aside, I can’t believe they’ve got Kirito playing this game in a hospital room with all this heart monitoring shit and haven’t even bothered finding any way for him to report his actions inside the game. Even if he can’t communicate with them though, you’d think that this guy would’ve seen that part of the livestream where Death Gun killed the guy and taken action based on that.

Once again, Asuna says the only thing that makes sense, and asks if they can check the records of all surviving Laughing Coffin members and see if any of them are logged in to GGO right now. Chrysheit says that knowing if they were a laughing coffin member wouldn’t tell them the name or address, which doesn’t seem to answer the question. Do they in fact have any of these names and addresses, and if so, couldn’t they just check every SAO survivor? There’s a good chance that only one of them is currently involved in the Bullet of Bullets besides Kirito, so it wouldn’t be hard to figure out who. Loli girl is then like, “can’t we question the people who run GGO?” and he’s like, “it’s an overseas company so it would be too hard.” But I thought the Japanese servers were run by a Japanese company. Can’t they just ask them?

Suguha explains to everyone that Kirito probably realized that Death Gun was a former SAO player the other day, judging by how scared he looked, and holy shit that’s right, Kirito knew about this BEFORE the Bullet of Bullet started. So you mean to say that he just didn’t bother telling anyone? He didn’t share this relevant information towards solving the case with the nurse or Chryssy or anyone? They could’ve been cross-referencing SAO players with GGO players this whole time! Everyone then starts talking about how if they’d known about this they would’ve converted along with Kirito, but then they all start sucking his dick over how cool he is for not wanting to involve anyone. IRRESPONSIBILITY IS AWESOME!

Hey, one of the players is named Jack Reacher.

Back over in GGO, what the fuck are you two doing? What is this shit? Kirito I swear to god if you can’t keep it in your pants for one fucking game I hope Asuna cuts it off. Shinon’s reached a low enough point where she makes Kirito tell her what to do, because the gender dynamics in this show aren’t fucked up enough already. I know I haven’t been saying as much about this as I probably should have, since I already tackled so much of the sexist bullshit back in my review of season one, but this is quickly turning into an even more egregious and disgusting example.

Next we get this stupid fucking scene wherein one of the livestream cameras locates them inside the cave and they’re all embarrassed about getting seen in this position. Shinon’s like, “teehee, is there someone you don’t want seeing this?” HEY REMEMBER HOW THERE’S A FUCKING MURDERER AT YOUR BEDSIDE, DO YOU EVEN REMEMBER THAT? Shinon says that the camera won’t pick up voices unless you yell, but it didn’t seem like Death Gun was yelling when he addressed the camera earlier. Nonetheless, I feel like this rule was only written in after whichever writer wanted to have a scene with the camera in the cave, and was initially going to say that the camera doesn’t pick up audio, but then remembered that Death Gun talked to the camera earlier so they changed it to it only picks up audio if you yell. Now that I think about it, couldn’t Kirito have just started yelling at the camera, “HEY, STERBEN IS DEATH GUN, HE’S KILLING PEOPLE FOR REAL, SOMEONE FUCKING DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?” I guess that would be too easy though.

Also, THIS SHOT LEGITIMATELY HAPPENS. The camera sweeps down for a look at Shinon’s ass and cameltoe before sweeping back up to her face. I can’t even believe this is really happening. The music in this scene makes it seem like this is supposed to be a lighthearted romantic comedy. I assumed at first that the point of this scene was to piss off the spurned women’s club or something, but we never even learn if they saw this. What the fuck was the point of this scene?

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