Sword Art Online II Ep. 8: The Crack of Dawn

Episode 8: Bullet of Bullets

  • Again, I’m slightly disappointed that the show doesn’t really address the anomaly that is Kiriko’s androgyny as anything other than trap bait. It could just be meant as an off-hand nod towards the state of women in gaming and nothing more, which would be a favorable viewpoint, but there’s a lot of problems with that interpretation which I’ll get into with later moments in this episode.
  • I guess he isn’t listed under ‘Death Gun’” I mean, there’s just no way that a guy named Death Gun, who’s rumored to have killed two people, would ever use his real pseudonym in an official tournament. It was worth a shot, though!
  • I’ll find the name of Death Gun’s avatar, and I’ll face him again.” This is the part where I’d love to know what Kirito would do to Death Gun once he faces the guy. Is he going to kill him in-game? Will he try to neutralize him? Go out for a cup of coffee and reminisce about the good ol’ days back in SAO? Or is he unsure at this moment? I’m not given an answer here, and that bothers me.
  • These are the kinds of stuff I’ve been needing to know for a while… or perhaps not. In this recent episode of the Psycho-Pass reedit, We don’t know much about what Akane would do to Shougo until she’s finally given the opportunity to exact revenge upon him. But what makes this work in Psycho-Pass’s case is that we’re given few opportunities to explore Akane’s state of mind, and those rare moments where we’re allowed to view her emotional turmoil are impactful because of it. SAO, on the other hand, does not hesitate to enter the minds of either Kirito or Sinon for even the most mundane of thoughts. If the story chooses to be simpler about how we interpret their states of mind, then it would be imperative for the story to establish their motivations up front, right? So it irks me that, despite being in Kirito’s head so much, I’m not privy to the more important questions regarding his motivation to hunt down Death Gun.
  • I am, of course, not saying that they’ll never answer this question in due time. However, given how much attention we’ve given Kirito’s trauma, wouldn’t that information be useful to us as a sign that he’s at least come to terms with his past? Are they even going to address his past in this manner from this point on? You absolutely have to be consistent about these kinds of things from episode to episode in order for this entire theme to work for me, and if the story decides to drop the issue until it’s important to the plot, despite being in Kirito’s head the entire time, then the trauma feels cheap and tacked-on. I guess we’ll just have to see.
  • There might be a good reason why there are no girls other than Sinon in GGO so far: few people in their right minds would willingly wear hotpants so short that half of their buttcrack is showing. Can you even imagine how embarrassed you’d feel if you were to accurately cosplay that? I’m surprised Sinon manages to remain all chuuni and tsundere despite having Gunner’s Crack. I can’t imagine that to be remotely comfortable for combat situations, either.
  • Kirito asks Sinon for more details on the BoB, signifying that we’re gonna spend half an episode explaining this shit rather than learning about it as it goes.
  • Here’s a small detail that I like: guys being too familiar when talking about girls online. It becomes pretty straightforward objectification once they start talking about what the girls should be doing to them. It’s not anything horrendous, to be fair, but they’re nonetheless symptoms of a heavily male-oriented gamer culture.
  • We’ve already seen how Sinon reacts to such attention: simply by ignoring it. So, since Kirito is now the target of this kind of attention, what’s going to be his reaction?

 

  • To put it simply, he rolls with it. Much to Sinon’s distaste. Why? Because he’s not actually a girl. He can get away with doing this stunt because once things get too out of hand he can just reveal his true gender, have a mutual laugh about how he “trapped” people, and not have many significant problems hereafter. Hell, it might make him even more popular given the right crowd. Unlike an actual girl, he can play along with this fantasy that occurs between his perceived identity and his audience without having the very real consequences attached to them. It is the comedic equivalent of being “in on the joke”, but on a moral scale this interaction is very much a big deal for female gamers because they don’t have the same luxury of taking back how they behave. Thus, the show gives a particularly male perspective on the issue by suggesting that girls would be better off embracing the albeit shitty culture if they plan to be a part of it, as evidenced by the reception behind Kirito’s reaction towards his newfound attention. Why can’t girls just embrace the attention that they’re given in games?
  • Thing is, the male perspective on this subject is hardly as narrow as what SAO portrays it as. In fact, there is an equal and opposite sentiment regarding female gamers who behave, or at least appear to behave, like Kirito does.
  • For example, in League of Legends there is a rather famous personality within the community who goes by the name of LilyPichu. She makes gameplay videos and other LoL-related media and they stand fine on their own, but her main draw in popularity is the fact that her voice is rather squeaky and childlike for a grown adult in her early 20’s.
  • Unfortunately, that element of her online identity is also the main draw of her detractors, who do not hesitate to accuse her of faking her voice in order to gain attention. I’ve met LilyPichu at Fanimecon this year, so I know for a definite fact that this is actually how her voice sounds like, but the point is that there’s a particularly loud subsection of people who believe that she’s faking her way to popularity, regardless of whether they believe her authenticity, simply because they don’t like how she sounds. Of course, not everyone is going to be as lucky as me and be able to meet her in California, so this kind of harassment is something that LilyPichu must deal with for the rest of her YouTubing days. It’s sad to think about, and even worse to look at when it comes to YouTube comments, but this is something inherent to how gamers view women who are prominent in their respective communities.
  • So knowing this, where’s Kirito’s detractors? When is the story going to conjure up some salty dudes in the back grumbling about how much Kirito is faking it and/or trying too hard for the attention? You may argue that Kirito is relatively new to the tournament and therefore these sorts of anti-fandoms take time to manifest, but that’s no excuse to just delete them from the equation entirely.
  • Doesn’t Sinon actually occupy that spot? Well, if that true, then the anime certainly isn’t being balanced. Being uncomfortable about embracing the male affection in-game and shaming female gamers for attention-seeking are mutually exclusive viewpoints, and to conflate the two would imply that, since Sinon is wrong about one thing, then she must be wrong about the other.
  • This is precisely what I mean by the anime not taking its own elements seriously regarding Kirito’s androgyny: SAO is not interested in having a fair discussion about female representation in games. We have our genderbent main character, he gets his kawaii~ moment for the target demographic of this anime, and now we shall move on to the next plot point before anyone has the chance to think about whether or not there’s another side to this debate.
  • I’ve said my piece about the subject. Onto the next scene.
  • My idea of fun is to figure out how BoB works by learning the details as the event unfolds. SAO’s idea of fun, however, is Kirito and Sinon sitting at a table explaining to us in the most stilted way possible how BoB is going to work.
  • I just wanted to make sure I understood it.

  • Sinon explains at one point that players are spawned at least 1k meters away from each other, to which Kirito smartly replies, “O-one thousand meters? That means the map must be pretty big.” That’s just about as useful as saying “I just got a sword! This will surely increase my damage!”
  • This gets even worse once you realize that Kirito had supposedly read all of this in an e-mail before confirming this with Sinon, which just makes him look a lot more stupid than originally intended.
  • So I see that Sinon wears her watch upside-down. Not a point for or against the show. I wear my watches like that, sometimes, if the band is thin enough.
  • Turns out the stilted exposition was actually a poor attempt on Kirito’s part to talk to Sinon about suspicious BoB players who might be Death Gun. This isn’t a point against the show, either. I like how awkward Kirito has to be in order to get to the point. I’m even prepared to forgive the previous offense of shoving exposition down my throat if it was for the sake of characterizing Kirito in a more unique manner.
  • Once Sinon starts asking questions, though, he starts talking about his trauma again, although indirectly. Sinon, nonetheless, finally understands what he meant yesterday and basically asks him if he was one of the people trapped in SAO.
  • … to which she retracts because that was apparently too sensitive. I seriously doubt it’d be sensitive when Kirito implied pretty heavily that he killed a guy or two (or three) for real in a VRMMO.
  • WHOOPS, TIME’S UP. PREPARE FOR GGO.
  • AREN’T YOU PUMPED FOR THIS SHIT
  • BECAUSE I AM
  • I’M SO PUMPED
  • CAN’T YOU TELL BY MY CAPSLOCK HOW EXCITED I AM
  • I BET YOU CAN
  • I’m going to pay you back for yesterday’s final round. So… if you let someone else shoot you, I won’t forgive you.

  • It’s kind of funny looking at the discrepancy between the colorful variety of outfits and the dulled-out brownness of the arena. Granted, this is just an announcer, but it’s one of maybe five female peoples in GGO that we’ve witnessed so far and this is the only reference we have.
  • Here’s another shot of Sinon’s upside-down watch-holding goodness. Because other things have been a bit uninteresting to talk about so far.
  • I may need to explain a certain mechanic before moving on: there’s a satellite overhead the map that informs all players of each others’ locations every fifteen minutes. Meaning, every fifteen minutes you are informed of all players’ locations.
  • Also if you’ve forgotten already that she’s tsundere for Kirito, here’s this.
  • I know this is a teenager’s anime and we need our whole outsmarting the outsmarter thing going on, but being able to position perfectly behind the guy on a bridge? Without him noticing on his own map?
  • Even better, Kirito manages to sneak up on the original sneaker-upper in the most unfortunate and easily misunderstood way possible.
  • He just doesn’t want Sinon to give away his position, since he wants to watch the two people on the bridge fight. Which goes on all right until-

  • Huh? You didn’t shoot him and he fell down? Gee, I wonder what that is on his shoulder.

 

  • Look, I get that the game isn’t even a year old yet, and that BoB tournaments happen every three months, so I shouldn’t expect much of a metagame going on. But this shit about swimming in the river? This is a question of game sense and game mechanics, not metagame. I am to believe that Kirito just figured out how to break the system in one try.
  • But equipment must be heavy, yo. How did you figure out how to do that?
  • I unequipped all of my items and moved to item storage, of course.” Which was then followed by the most unnecessary shot of Naked Kiriko swimming with the most broken of backs:

  • No, seriously, if that’s his torso right there it means that his spine must be SO out of position right now. Unless those are his tits.
  • Oh hi, Death Gun. Did YOU outsmart the system by being naked, too?
  • By the Gary Stu, the daughteru, and the Perfect Waifu, Amen.
  • The episode ends before he shooted the guy with his gun because reasons. Also because people kind of die when he kills things. I’ve spoiled myself on the details of Death Gun, unfortunately, so I already know how it works. We can talk about that when the time comes.
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2 comments

  1. People do die when Death Gun kills things, which is why I was a little surprised that Kirito let Pale Rider shoot Dyne in the face while wondering to himself whether he was in fact Death Gun.

    1. Why would Pale Rider be Death Gun if he is, in fact, an acrobat?

      I’d assume it’s because Kirito knows (prior to entering GGO) how the previous two people were killed by Death Gun’s sidearm rather than his main weapon. If we’re to accept that Kirito believes it’s a particular weapon in the game that allows Death Gun to kill people, then there’s no reason to conclude that Pale Rider’s shotgun is the same.

      But then Kirito keeps wondering if Pale Rider is Death Gun after he quite visibly lets Dyne die. So I’m just about as lost as you are about this.

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