Sword Art Online II Ep. 6: DUEL OF THE FATES

Episode 6: Duel in the Wasteland

  • “Ohgod not the steam again every fucking time i try to say something who the fuck put this in here i swear to god whoever put this shit in here is gonna-“

  • “ohfuck OhFuck Oh Fuck OHFUCK NOT IN THE EYES NOT IN THE EYES SWEET BABY JESUS PLEASE NO”
  • “…”
  • “ahem”
  • “So yeah, someday I’m gonna kill you. Peace out.”
  • Usually with this format it’s hard to place my thoughts in several blocks of main ideas, but this episode conveniently lines up its content in an easy-to-understand sequence of “why I’m not impressed by your antics” starting with…

  • PTSD! Turns out his time spent in Sword Art Online screwed him up in the head just thinking about the Laughing Coffin guild. That’s right. Not the fact that he was trapped for two years. Not that Asuna died in his arms. Not because he feels responsible for his guild’s demise. And certainly not because people have been getting killed around him in general. No. It’s because of Laughing Coffin.
  • And I don’t say that lightly, either. Well, actually it’s more like I can’t say that lightly because the show doesn’t allow me to. Look at this new and improved Kiriko channeling his trauma through intense sweating, magic shinking anime pupils, and adding a black gradient to his massive forehead! Man, I would have been convinced with just one of those instances but I and the rest of the SAO fanbase just can’t get enough of traumatized Kiriko’s cute little fucking face holy shit it’s so cute oh my goooooooooo

  • But why Laughing Coffin? They were mentioned only twice in the last season: once during the mystery filler arc and second because Kuradeel needed an excuse to be ~more eviler~. I’ll be honest, I like that GGO is expanding upon concepts laid out in SAO. Having that kind of continuity makes it feel like I wasn’t completely wasting my time watching the stuff before this. But there were a few things besides Laughing Coffin that are arguably more traumatizing than Kiriko having a near-death experience with Kuradeel and him solving a lame mystery on a horse. He sure didn’t feel a lot of regret killing Kuradeel either, despite it being his only kill (besides Heathcliff) that we see from the first season. Hell, we’re not given so much as a hint of Kiriko having PTSD once ALO rolled into relevance. So what exactly is it about the guild that takes so long for Kiriko to get triggered by the mere thought of them?
  • Unfortunately, you’re not going to find any answers from looking at the first season. That’s why the story decides to make a backstory to explain what’s happening to Kiriko in this episode. That’s right. Because there was no evidence of Kirito having this PTSD in the previous season, we’re going to make a backstory up right here, right now.
  • Well, the transition from the arena, to darkness, until finally back in SAO elicited a “huh, that’s nice” reaction out of me.
  • YOU KNOW I WAS KIDDING ABOUT THE VIETNAM FLASHBACKS BUT IT TURNS OUT THEY WERE REAL THE WHOLE TIME

  • Hey look, it’s our Perfect Waifu! Bet she’s not going to have any voicing in this flashback!
  • Oh sure, have the black guy wear the black armor. I see how it is.
  • Also those derpfaces.
  • Kirito and the gang are smoking out the Laughing Coffin guild’s headquarters or some other. The details aren’t very important. Here’s a picture of Perfect Waifu fighting off the baddies.
  • What a strong guy, smiling on the battlefield!
  • Remember when episode 14 pulled this shit? Pepperidge Farm remembers.
  • Okay, so these three dudes surround a weakened little prick and are clearly not interested in finishing him off because, well, you end up killing them in real life. What I don’t buy is that this hesitation is enough for the cornered guy to kill someone without any sort of resistance. And with one blow, too! And their health bars didn’t slowly drain like they usually do when they stab people! This show is great at that whole continuity thing, isn’t it?
  • So he’s still rampaging and shit, and once Kirito notices that he’s stabbing people he up and finishes him off. We are then told that he killed one more person during this event. Okay. Sure. You do that.
  • And according to some internet image, this happens around the same period that the filler episodes did, namely after 6 but before 8. Meaning, the whole affair with Kuradeel comes after this.
  • Look.
  • Retconning is a tricky business. The impact you make in the retcon must not contradict anything else that happened in the story, but that is exactly what Sword Art Online did. I’ve already mentioned before that Kiriko’s apparent PTSD from SAO is so specific towards Laughing Coffin that it never manifests when talking about basically everything else that happened. Being trapped in virtual reality doesn’t trigger. Killing Kuradeel doesn’t trigger. Killing people in ALO doesn’t trigger it, either. But talk about those two (three) people that Kirito killed that were in Laughing Coffin and suddenly he’s a nervous wreck. You can’t pull the “virtual Kiriko is different from real life Kirito” argument like with Sinon, either, because Kiriko killed those people in virtual reality, therefore there is no conflict of identity.
  • Kiriko’s behavior baffles me since he goes all the way from skeptic to paranoid about Death Gun in about a minute’s worth of time. Mostly because you’re asked to accept a whole lot of dubious information at once, including but not limited to:
  1. The threat of dying in-game = dying IRL might actually be real this time.
  2. The guy he just talked to is Death Gun and is the one supposedly responsible for two IRL deaths at this point.
  3. Death Gun used to be a filthy PKer and was a bad enough dude to join Laughing Coffin in SAO and smile on the battlefield and shit.
  4. Kirito is afraid that Death Gun may be one of the people he killed in SAO. Because apparently people don’t die when they are killed.
  5. If Kirito was able to retain his powers from SAO to ALO, Death Gun may have been able to transfer over, uh, um, ehhhhh, the power to kill people in real life through a game? I thought everyone was able to do that in SAO.
  • Point is, I don’t see what Kirito is afraid of, especially if his personal information isn’t available to Death Gun. Or does he not realize that this is how Death Gun kills people?
  • I’m reeeaaaaally trying not to be cynical here when I ask this: Why are we so late in discovering Kiriko’s PTSD, and why is it so important that we know about it now? Because all the flashback did was inject the main character with a cheap source of angst. Okay. Execution and my biases aside, we now know that Kiriko has suffered a traumatic experience in his lifetime much like Sinon di- oh my god.

  • are they seriously
  • with just a retconned flashback
  • muh trahmuhz
  • muh grimdark tragic pasts
  • oh my goooooooooood

[FTW]_Chuunibyou_demo_Koi_ga_Shitai!_Ren_-_05_[720p][A74AB2C0].mkv_snapshot_05.04_[2014.04.02_21.05.37]

  • this show is so gooooooooooooooood
  • Sinon pls stahp cant you see im ptsding right now. She thinks his shaken behavior is because of the recent match.
  • Get a grip already.” This is coming off as a big “fuck you” to people who don’t understand mental illness but I’m not sure if the show actually means to do that. It’s probably just Sinon being a hypocrite about toughness and strength and shit.
  • And then this happens.

  • Jesus Christ his forehead is so fucking huge
  • It’s juvenile how easily the story is just gonna make this connection happen. I bet Asuna doesn’t even know about his PTSD. I bet Kiriko himself didn’t know about it until now. It’s like the story went “whoops we better get this backstory rolling in time for the heart to heart cry evrytim moment”. That’s how stilted this entire scene looks to me.
  • No, seriously, I hate this shit. It reminds me of my terrible 8th grade writing skills when characters bleed their hearts out to the audience solely by the author’s will. I stop watching SAO as a show when it does that: it suddenly becomes a game of “guess the authorial intent”. And that is a terrible question to ask about media and terrible of the anime to make me ask that of the story.
  • They just go overboard with Kiriko’s traumaporn, don’t they.
  • ginko pls win. Win for the Mushishis!
  • Shit, I’m not even ten minutes into this episode and I’m 1.3k words into this post. I make this so difficult for myself sometimes.
  • Hey look, prediction lines! Go block them! Dodge them! Be the Gary Stu you wish to see in the world!

  • Or you could just do that. Okay.
  • Let’s talk about Kiriko’s raging killing spree here. It’s very clear that he’s being reckless and it’s equally clear that he’s now at odds between his orders and his needs thanks to his INTERESTING AND WELL-DEVELOPED TRAUMATIC PAST RETCON. What strikes me about this action, and please hear me out here because this is one of the only times I’ll ever be fair about this show, is that Kiriko might actually be trying to get himself killed due to his overwhelming sense of guilt. Now that I’ve set that up, let’s talk a bit about Cowboy Bebop.

  • HEAR ME OUT, PLEASE. ALSO SPOILERS FOR COWBOY BEBOP.
  • Cowboy Bebop is a strange anime to talk about because despite its almost universal acclaim there is quite a bit of “filler”, full episodes of content that is essentially of trivial importance to the overarching story. But there’s one thing I’ve noticed in those same filler episodes: Spike constantly puts himself in harm’s way, whether it’s getting choked out by a fugitive or risking planetary destruction via shooting a child in the head. At times he comes very close to dying but never addresses the issue with much importance. It’s explained in the final episode that Spike does this on purpose because he has a very loose grip on reality thanks to a traumatic incident back in his crime syndicate days. At first, he’s not actually trying to kill himself; most of his antics are because the thrill of death is what keeps him “awake” in a sense. His life as a bounty hunter is hopelessly devoid of value, otherwise. Once his beloved Julia kicks the bucket, however, his subsequent rampage against Vicious becomes his one true attempt at figuring out his reality. The conclusion of the anime suggests that Spike feels as if he died years ago, and goes through a complicated and sad journey of finally embracing the sleep he deserved.
  • What I’m trying to get at with this line of thinking is that Spike’s struggle with reality runs similar with Kiriko’s disparity between what happened to him in SAO and how it’s come back to haunt him. Eliminating all of my bias from the previous season (and my knowledge of it, for that matter), I think Kiriko makes this reckless show of himself in the preliminary tournament because he has a very loose grip on what his actions in-game mean towards his real life self. Killing people is a big deal, but it loses its edge when you only see the game’s representation of their deaths. I’d imagine it’s quite hard to accept, in that case. So, Kiriko’s method of coping with that trauma and assuaging is own guilt is through putting himself in harm’s way.
  • Why do I say that? Well, GGO isn’t a game where you die when you’re killed. And probably, to Kiriko, the fear of death in a game where you don’t actually die is a bit insulting. After all, he did underestimate ALO because people didn’t actually die when they’re killed in that game, either. So perhaps because his SAO experience is so vivid in comparison, and because he wants to preserve that feeling so much, he has to approach other VMMOs differently. Namely, actually treating them like games. Not caring for petty things like self-preservation because those sorts of things aren’t important anymore in GGO. This disparity between this and SAO is what helps differentiate things for Kiriko. If he doesn’t take GGO seriously, he’ll preserve SAO as the one true experience and it won’t invalidate the worth of the people he killed for real.
  • “Boy appropriant, you’re kinda reading too far into this anime. You’re also omitting some key details here and there to prove your point”
  • NO SHIT I’M READING TOO FAR INTO IT.
  • NO FUCKING SHIT I HAVE TO DISREGARD CRUCIAL PLOT POINTS.
  • THIS IS PRECISELY WHY IT’S IMPOSSIBLE FOR ME TO LIKE THIS ANIME.
  • EVERY TIME I TRY TO MAKE A POSITIVE INTERPRETATION OF THE SHOW’S THEMES IT THROWS A WRENCH INTO ITS OWN WORKS AND FUCKS EVERYTHING UP.
  • BECAUSE IN ORDER FOR THAT INTERPRETATION TO WORK I HAD TO DISREGARD HOW KIRIKO KILLED THAT DUDE ONE EPISODE AGO WITHOUT A SMIDGEN OF STRESS OR DIFFICULTY. I ALSO HAD TO IGNORE THE MANY OTHER PEOPLE HE’S KILLED IN-GAME LIKE HE DID IN ALO. AND HOW HE WENT OVERBOARD IN MURDERING THE FUCK OUT OF SUGOU WITHOUT AN OUNCE OF REGRET IN HIS EYES. AND HOW HE DIDN’T REALLY HAVE MUCH INTERNAL CONFLICT WHEN IT CAME TO KILLING SUGOU IN REAL LIFE. HE REALLY WANTED TO KILL THAT FUCKER AND HE MEANT IT.
  • SO WHY DOES MURDER PUT KIRIKO ON EDGE NOW, OF ALL TIMES!?

  • THIS ISN’T A COPY/PASTE THIS WAS ACTUALLY REPEATED IN THIS EPISODE DURING ONE OF SINON’S BATTLES JUST IN CASE YOU FORGOT HOW TRAUMATIZED POOR LITTLE CUTE KIRIKO IS. LOOK AT HOW CUTE HE IS WHEN HE’S TRAUMATIZED.
  • Oh yeah, I need to talk about Sinon, too. Fuck. Me.
  • Her battle’s not very interesting to talk about, but one important thing happens that reeeaaaally bugs me: See the above interaction? The one that’s been shown twice so far? That’s apparently the trigger for Sinon to lose her cool. Because, you see, Sinon sees herself in Kiriko. How might she know this? Well, just to clue you in, she actually doesn’t. Kiriko got teleported into a fight before he even gave an answer. As far as she knows, he might just be a bit shocked because it’s GGO and the stakes are pretty high in general. Yet, one look at Kiriko’s cute little traumatized face is enough for Sinon to lose her composure. She’s falling apart too easily at about the same rate Kiriko is.
  • There are so many better ways for them to figure out each other’s past demons. Methods that are so much more subtle, sensible, and yet still interesting to watch. But what this anime decides to do is cut open their hearts and strap them to their fucking sleeves for the world to see. And if you think that’s bad enough, you actually haven’t seen the worst of it. You haven’t seen the duel.
  • Totally called it, by the way.
  • What the hell is with this show and ruining good backdrops with sunshine and the occasional rainbow?
  • I’ll hit him, no matter what.

  • I’ll just look forward to how many times she doesn’t hit him.
  • Why do I want to beat him so much? Because he’s like me?
  • Is this the answer I was looking for? Is this why Kiriko’s trauma exists in this arc and nowhere else? Just so that Sinon can have a friend to relate her past with?

  • ONE MORE GODDAMN TIME FOR GOOD MEASURE BECAUSE TRAUMAKO A CUTEST MOTHERFUCKER 2014
  • Kiriko pulling off the biggest BM in history and throwing his final preliminary match by walking out in the open.
  • And apparently this shakes up Sinon so much that she misses her first shot. Not in a slight way, either. She literally yells out “Screw you!” in a frantic tone as she pulls the trigger.
  • Teenagers, man. They messed up.
  • COOL TRAPS DON’T LOOK AT EXPLOOOOOSIONS
  • AND SHE KEEPS MISSING. I TOLD YOU.
  • Okay. This might be why they showed episodes 2 and 3 before this, in order to understand why it’s so hard to Sinon to kill Kiriko. Namely, she has a very narrow view of what is considered strong. There is no question in her mind that she believe Kiriko is strong. She has been, of course, watching his matches. She knows how good he is at dodging and parrying bullets. However, even though she views her own skills highly, she views herself as weak because of her trauma. So Kiriko’s existence is an exception: is he strong because of his skills, or weak because of his past? Well, there’s also the issue of Kiriko not giving Sinon a fair fight, and is probably the main reason why she’s so pissed with him right now, but the other aspect I’ve mentioned lingers in this moment too.
  • So as I mentioned earlier about Kirito not taking GGO seriously, it comes back here when Sinon pleads with him to give her a chance, because for her GGO is very important to her personal health. It’s important for her because if someone else is belittling the reality of GGO, it invalidates her in-game identity and all of the things she’s worked on up to this point. Imagine you’re in GGO So you got a Hecate. You jumped off a tower and 420 noscoped Behemoth at point blank range. You don’t feel nauseous around the guns in GGO. Well you know what? This prick over here is suggesting that your efforts don’t mean shit. You did all this in a game. It’s fake. Everything you do here doesn’t matter in real life.
  • And don’t get me wrong, Sinon is rightfully indignant about Kiriko’s attitude. I don’t question that the emotional progression is plausible once it gets rolling. However, let me tell you a couple reasons why this confrontation ultimately doesn’t work for me:
  1. Kiriko not taking GGO seriously is because of his trauma, which is bullshit in the first place. If you don’t believe in the trauma, you can’t believe anything else that builds on it.
  2. And even if Kiriko believes GGO is merely a game, he’s still in a professional tournament with real-life stakes and competing against other players who are for sure going to take this seriously. This isn’t Kiriko asserting his will onto GGO: this is bad sportsmanship.
  3. Sinon is pouring her heart out based on a single interaction that was repeated to us twice over in an attempt to highlight how important it was. In order to make me believe in the emotional progression that happens afterwards, you have to convince me that Sinon would get visibly shaken just by one vague gesture. Which I am not convinced.
  4. They’re having this conversation in the middle of the final preliminary match. On a live stream. People are watching this unfold on-screen and these two chucklefucks apparently don’t give a shit. I bet this is going to have no impact on the story, either. If the first three points were not already enough to stop caring, this one takes the cake.
  • To put it simply, you cannot expect me to be invested in this confrontation if I do buy into the foundation of this scene. Since I do not, the scene does not work for me.
  • And to top that off, we get Kiriko flipflopping on his resolve to not take the game seriously.  I’m not sure exactly why he’s doing that because it’s not like he knows a thing about Sinon. I doubt he even understood what she actually meant by what she said to him. No, now that we have our unsaid kinship through MUH TRAHMUHZ, it’s time for a duel.
  • And it’s a quickdraw duel. I mean. I’d much rather prefer it if they actually, well, fought like they were supposed to. I wouldn’t even care if the fight ended up looking like this:

  • I hope you’re happy, SAO fans. He cut a bullet in half.
  • What a badass.
  • What a deep and meaningful character.
  • Oh wow they’re still going at it with the “Kirito is so strong uguu” train.
  • Well, Kirito’s gonna deal the final blow now. You know what would be cool? If he actually did kill her. Because he was all fine and dandy not taking GGO seriously until she came along and told him “Hey, you’re wrong” and THAT IS UNACCEPTABLE IN THE SAO UNIVERSE YOU DO NOT QUESTION THE GARY STU.
  • No… something even better happens.

  • Sinon
  • what are you doing
  • what
  • no, stop that
  • Stop that this instant.
  • He still doesn’t remember the names of the two NO WAIT THREE people he killed.
  • See? You get shot down when you try that shit against Kiriko. See, he’s a married man. Well, he married in a game and that game doesn’t exist anymore BUT IT’S THE THOUGHT THAT COUNTS OKAY ALSO YOU DON’T MAKE SANDWICHES LIKE MY PERFECT WAIFU DOES.
  • I’m just so disappointed. I was expecting them to be friendsies, not potential love interests. At least the former would involve less harem antics. Then again, I’m not THAT against them finding kinship, even if I wholeheartedly disagree with how the story forced the two together like this. It will at least lead to more interesting developments in the future, I hope. And if they have to treat the past two arcs with willful disbelief in order to do that, then please, count me in. I’ll still complain, but it’ll make me feel better about watching this show.
  • hey psst people can still see you crotched up like that. can you stop
  • Then, would you surrender? Killing girls isn’t my thing.

  • I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you through the Dorito breath and the backwash of Mountain Dew lingering in your throat.
  • And so the harem wheel spins, for eternity until the end of time.
  • PAIED

5 comments

  1. …I kinda want to watch this show now.

    1. For your health and safety I’d much rather that you read posts on the subject instead. Especially mine. But if you’d like to join us in the groupwatch we can get you up to speed.

  2. nanana batman · · Reply

    may i just provide some info about the people he killed, he killed a total of 3 “laughing coffin members” this would include kuradeel. Also even if he killed Heathcliff in-game, Kayaba never died because of being killed in game :)

  3. “If that bullet could also kill someone in real life… and if you didn’t shoot them, you or someone you love would be killed… could you still pull the trigger?“

    The “could you still pull the trigger” part of this sentence is really throwing me off. Is he implying it would be more difficult to shoot someone if it was to protect your loved ones? Obviously it still wouldn’t be easy at all, but I should hope it wouldn’t make it harder.

    1. I interpreted it as a dilemma between the moral depravity of killing someone and risking the chance of getting yourself or a loved one killed. On one hand, you/your loved one survives and you suffer the mental consequences of murder. On the other, you/your loved one dies and you still suffer the consequences (depending on who dies, of course), but at least you didn’t kill anyone.

      Or perhaps it was a rhetorical question and Kirito was implying that no one would let themselves or their loved ones die, so killing the killer is the only option. This makes more sense because that’s exactly what happened to Sinon and the point of this question is to make an emotional connection between the two.

      It’s quite awkward to read either way. It probably could have been translated better.

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