Sorry for the late run, folks! Me and my siblings just enjoyed three glorious days at the Animethon! I’ve also been in a Touhou craze as of late. Now that I’m back, let’s start with perhaps the worst episodes this anime has to offer.
Episode 6 continues and ends the mystery on a fizzle. Now don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t all that clever or enjoyable either, especially after watching the recent episodes of Hyouka. Was I the only one that found the trick to be incredibly stupid? There’s something they call “build-up”, director – if the durability of objects/clothing can be affected within a safe zone, show it to us within the previous episode instead of dumping an expository conversation on us. Like I said before, these characters should know all this already, and shouldn’t go through all that trouble to explain it to us viewers.
Just like the episode before, my favourite moments were between Kirito and Asuna. Aside from their obvious romantic chemistry, I’m really digging their awkwardly adorable interactions; Asuna’s not as tsundere as she is insecure, and Kirito’s just the right amount of adorkable. Also, Asuna can really cook a delicious… virtual sandwich. That’s still a step up from the overused “girls can’t cook” archetype. ^_^
Honestly, mystery isn’t suited for this anime. There were alot of instances where the story felt skimped & contrived, especially during the big “revelation” where you’d have to infer everything that was happening if you were lost. Inference is definitely not an indicator of a strong story. Oh, and Grimlock is absolute scum. Now there’s only one more side story arc before the main story finally kicks off!
“The Warmth of the Heart”, a very fitting name for episode 8 indeed. After enduring the idiocy that was the “murder mystery” arc, we return with something more in line with episodes 3 & 4, which all in honesty suits SAO alot better. This heartwarming story is exactly what I need after wallowing in darkness for two episodes. Maybe I’m over-exaggerating a bit, but I was beginning to lose interest in this series by the end of the previous episode. Not that this episode didn’t have its own share of problems.
This episode had some potentially great ideas! Once again, there was a chance for exploring the life within SAO, this time at the POV of a blacksmith; someone who’s devoted to training her/his crafting skills to assist the front-liners from the backstage. There was also a chance to explore Liz’s wanting for something “real” within the world of SAO. Unfortunately, they never go any deeper than what’s shown, only barely touching on such ideas in favour for a more romantic tale. For the first time, the romance actually gets in the way of the story, and while it’s not too big of an issue, it did irritate me when Liz continued to gush over Kirito when she could be providing insight on how blacksmithing works instead.
I will praise Takagaki Ayahi for her bloodcurdling screams of pure terror as Liz plunged towards her death. I’d scream that loud too if I was about to die after surviving so long in a death game… and because of a stupid mistake? Yikes. It was a very effective scene, bringing back that sense of danger I felt was missing from the mystery arc. I also like the amount of effort put into Liz’s facial & body animations – alot less stiff than Sachi & Silica, which really brings her character to life. Presentation aside, Liz was a pretty decent character overall. She certainly has the feel of a leading girl, and this episode would’ve been dull without her.
Again, I would’ve liked more detail on blacksmithing other than, “His hands are so warm! BAM – a sword!” For an anime that loves to explain the game’s inner workings, this one was skimped over. The romantic aspect was plain stupid (who says “I think I love you!” to someone you just met?), but at least Kirito no longer seeks death. Which is good. Next episode is the main storyline at last! …I think. Crossing my fingers and hoping that that’s more sword-vs-monster action, and less girls-fall-for-you action. Because it’s about damn time we get a serious story!
Thanks for reading! ^_^