The 12 Days of Sword Art Online

While I’m not what you’d call a regular blogger these days, and having opinions is certainly a lot harder when it feels like everyone either knows Japanese and talks about sakuga or is a dirty boatfucking kancolle person, occasionally I do have opinions. Not to mention, I’m the world’s second-foremost SAO defender. Not to also mention that digiboy came out of nowhere and has had the latest post on this blog for months and I have to fix that. So here, in rough chronological rather than ranked order, is something a little different than the normal “12 days of Christmas” posts, and not just because it’s a couple days late.

It’s actually a listicle, so I trust you’ll read the whole thing and share it on the social network of your choice.

1. sawashiro

In Stop Making Sense, David Byrne says that singing is a way to get people to listen to your music longer than they normally would. That’s basically how Miyuki Sawashiro works in cartoons.

2. shorts

There’s been a downward trend in waistlines during beach episodes in the past few years, culminating gloriously in sniper Shion’s mysteriously undefended back gates.


3. backstory

Reki Kawahara is nothing if not a product of Azuma’s postmodern animal world. One of the hallmarks that Imaginary Azuma who sits on my shoulder might argue about the death of the grand narrative, as well as a typically wonderful contribution from my buddies over at Key, is the “tragic backstory” shorthand. You can justify any strange behavior with a terrible event in the past that seems tenuously related. In these cases viewers are stuck with the results of “Hey, I want a character to be like this, how might that be caused?” as opposed to the more organic “what might a certain event do to this character down the road?”

4. rivalry

Shion and Kirito have a chemistry I wouldn’t think SAO capable of if I hadn’t seen it. Kawahara does manage to convey, in his handicapped, Kirito-centric way, that Shion is about as strong as they come. Maybe she even teaches Kirito something? I don’t know, I didn’t analyze this part much which could mean I was having fun. It could also mean SAO has the depth of a puddle.

5. rapeyness

Our hero Kawahara-sama doesn’t seem to know how to create a villain whose motivation isn’t “forced sex with a female lead.” I don’t really go by death of the author theory, so guess what? This disturbs me.


6. whoops kirito saves the day again

Almost had me going there for a minute.

7. fridge

All that chemistry between Kirito and Shion is just plain wack in the context of Asuna’s status as spectator. But what could she do? A one-dimensional sword slinger like herself could never convert as successfully to a gun game as Kirito-sama.

8. excalibur

Boy, I sure do enjoy watching Kirito’s harem run around in Alfheim, blathering on about the most basic boss mechanics and occasionally participating in a competently animated battle sequence.

9. key AIDS

OK I finally figured out something worse than the vague, unnamed Key-itis that kills Maeda protagonists and anime mothers by the busload every year: The clumsy invocation of a real disease. By giving Yuuki Special AIDS instead of doing a little basic Wikipedia research on a disease we know a lot about and have largely managed, Kawahara shows his disdain for reality even as he wants us to empathize with Asuna’s relationship with that reality.

10. asuna’s mom

In a show where villains operate on flimsy, cartoonish motivations that are more annoying or cringeworthy than anything, Asuna’s mother is the antagonist that acts like a human. Sure, she’s cold and tried to marry her daughter off to a child molester, but she does think she’s doing the right thing. I’m not sure if she’s intended to be a sympathetic character, but she certainly is. She sets strict ground rules but ultimately has allowed Asuna to use the Amusphere.


11. actual struggle

One wonders how the Amusphere continues to play a part in the life of any kids after the SAO incident; with the victims it may actually be necessary therapy, but the idea of the technology sticking around at large after causing a national disaster strains credulity.

Still, I suppose that lack of total believability is a fair trade for being able to explore the real-world implications of the SAO incident. Asuna understandably wants to see her friends and her boyfriend but her desperation to dive shows signs of addiction. Meanwhile, her mother struggles with the two lost years. When you put aside the relative implausibility of the Amusphere’s continued existence, it makes sense that it’s the device — and Asuna’s mentally damaged conflation of game and reality — that brings Berzerk Healer and her mother together.

12. done

Let’s end on an insanely teary, protracted deathbed sequence that wrecks any goodwill that this half-decent SAO animation chapter had built.

Fuck these (7) Comments.

  1. draggle says:

    You should be fired as the second foremost SAO defender. Tim needs to replace you with someone better

  2. fencedude says:

    The thing about the AIDs is he could have just given her Leukemia and no one would have batted an eye.

    • Attack Submarine of Love and Courage, Magical Mental Model Rainbow Iona says:

      Too bad leukemia was given to another character from that guild. And that character (was it Siune?) got said leukemia cured.

  3. jpmeyer says:

    “Boy, I sure do enjoy watching Kirito’s harem run around in Alfheim, blathering on about the most basic boss mechanics and occasionally participating in a competently animated battle sequence.”

    This is even better when you read that one interview with Kawahara where he talks about how he’s basically like the garden variety n00b in any online game that he ever played and can’t comprehend what goes on the games past the opening tutorial area in any way outside of godlike awe at the actual raiders.

    • kadian1365 says:

      That explains why every game and administrative structure in the SAO-verse is broken in half. Sort of.

    • jpmeyer says:

      Also on a non-snarky note this is basically why I could never get into any sports series that tried to be about the competitions themselves rather than Touch-style series where the sport is the backdrop to the interpersonal drama.

      (“Waitaminute, that pitcher sometimes throws the ball high…BUT ALSO SOMETIMES THROWS IT LOW OMG HE’S UNBEATABLE!!!!!!!!”)

      • Attack Submarine of Love and Courage, Magical Mental Model Rainbow Iona says:

        Since I know next to nothing about baseball I can watch One Outs and Ace of the Diamond without batting an eyelid.

        The power of ignorance is overwhelming. And does not work with SAO.