Sword Art Online II Ep. 10: Sinon’s Abstract Outpourings

Episode 10: Pursuer of Death

  • We’ve come a long way since episode 2, haven’t we.
  • Is there a tangible point in a VRMMO where you stop treating the MMO like a game? I don’t know if this is just part of Sinon’s character, but it’s a bit chuckle-worthy to see her treat this game as real life. Well, if one were to treat real life as some sort of Hollywood war drama. “Leave me”? Poor girl, she’s not even allowed to have fun in this game.
  • OH GOD NOT THE BUGGY AGAIN. AND WHAT’S THIS ABOUT A HORSE.
  • IT’S AN ACTUAL FUCKING HORSE.
  • SURE IT’S A MECHANICAL HORSE BUT IT’S A FUCKING HORSE.

  • IN A GUN MMO.

  • HAVE YOU EVER TRIED SHOOTING A GUN WHILE RIDING A HORSE.

  • IT’S NOT EASY.

  • The horse is no good.” Oh, what? It’s actually not a good thing to be riding? Because it’s fucking impossible to shoot accurately while riding a horse, right?
  • You can go off-road, but it’s too hard to use.

  • I forgot for a moment that this anime doesn’t allow people other than Kirito to process information in the language of common sense.
  • Oh well thank god they finally used the correct spelling of PAID this time.
  • Kirito tells Sinon to shoot the robohorse. Oh? Can you call it names, too? Maybe leave its corpse on the side of the road like all the other robohorses you’re able to murder in this slaughtergame? cis-species scum. #yesallrobohorses
  • The symptoms of Sinon’s trauma range from extreme nausea to being unable to contract your right index finger.
  • I mean, I get that this is supposed to show how unstable Sinon’s supposed “immersion therapy” is in the first place, but the anime is being really silly when it goes the extra mile of visualizing her trauma.
  • Like here, for example, when Death Gun is running towards them. This is what we see once we get into Sinon’s perspective:

Only now I notice that Leafa’s ears connect at her jawline.

  • This is not to be interpreted as me criticizing the show for visualizing trauma in the first place because it can be a great tool for understanding a character through their past. The visualizations themselves, however, are silly in a sort of juvenile sense. Like if a middle-schooler were to imagine how their tragic past would affect them. A killer having the face of the man you killed can get a bit distressing, yes, but that same face being bug-eyed and discharging steam? Perhaps that image took one too many steps in the wrong direction.
  • Maybe that’s the point: Sinon might as well have the imagination of a middle school kid so it makes sense that her perspective would be littered with all kinds of sophomoric images. Not to mention that this is also coupled by her consistent and straight-faced chuunibyou one-liners in the game. However, my point is that this is how a middle schooler would imagine trauma to be like. I am an adult who is friends with grown people with all sorts of traumatic issues. I can assure you that trauma is not quite as cleanly visualized nor is it as simple as it is presented here. I just get the feeling that the story isn’t that interested in taking Sinon’s trauma that seriously, and that it’s just there to advance her role in the story rather than to flesh out her character.
  • But if this is for the sake of keeping the story simple, then whatever. I’ll roll with it as long as I’m allowed to call the storytelling juvenile comparative to my tastes. Admittedly, my taste in cartoons could peg me at a much older age than I really am. So keep that in mind.
  • Okay, maybe it would have been okay to shoot the robohorse in this case #notallrobohorses
  • I could mention the parallel between Death Gun on a horse and the Pale Rider a.k.a. one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Buuuuuut, Pale Rider turned out to be someone else. And then I realize that all the names Kirito had to go through to figure out who Death Gun is (Pale Rider, Gunner X, Sterben) has no real meaning other than to fuck with us because all of them have something to do with death. Well, Gunner X’s connection was manufactured by the story but you hopefully get my point.
  • The comparison is topical, without the kind of depth to be expected of this kind of reference. Oh, it’s Death Gun on a horse! That’s a literal connection to the Pale Rider of the Four Horsemen! That means that he represents death, because he’s death on a death horse and he brings death death deathity death!

  • i swear to god if i ever have to type that again
  • Sinon’s regression from her calm and collected demeanor to utter panic rings a bit disingenuous only because Kirito is around to cling onto. In fact, Kirito’s presence in this entire chase scene, and perhaps even this entire anime, brings everything down a notch.
  • I mean look at this. Look at how exciting this chase scene is.
  • lol death gun trying to aim a gun while riding a horse. There’s no fucking way that he’ll be able to hold still long enough for a good sho-

  • you see this shit right here
  • Even worse is that Sinon’s regression just doesn’t stop. I think she’s only yelling out these things because she’s in the presence of another person. If she were alone she’d at least try to compose herself. But because being rescued allows her to be in a more vulnerable position, she’s free to just wail all willy-nilly. That’s kind of hard to watch, personally, for the wrong reasons. You might think it would be hard to watch because she’s just this vulnerable kid playing a video game, but what I’m seeing out of all this is an excuse to make Sinon deliriously cling to Kirito for help. That in itself isn’t a bad thing, but it’s the context that ruins it. What do you think happened to all the other girls who required Kirito’s help? That’s right, they get rotated all the way to ALO hell, doomed to play with scrubs like Klein for eternity.
  • Shoot him.” “I can’t!

  • You really have to watch this entire exchange to understand exactly what’s going on, but I’m nearly 1.2k words into this post and I’m not even eight minutes into this episode. They’re seriously having a legit, drawn-out discussion about being able to fight while in what’s supposed to be an intense chase scene. When Sinon has the collectiveness to respond to Kirito’s call to action with an off-puttingly academic “Then I choose not to fight”,  the urgency of the situation is lost on me.
  • Dude.

  • I’d rather that they didn’t show her thoughts here because it’s both unnecessary and kind of unwarranted. Maybe Sinon has an inkling of what Death Gun’s relationship with Kirito is and probably put two and two together about what exactly traumatized Kirito, but she doesn’t have much of a reason as to why Kirito behaves so much more normally compared to her so the line above may as well be pure speculation. Sinon’s interpretation of things should not translate into an accurate portrayal of Kirito’s character. Kirito has to do that himself. We’ll have to accept this, though, because I guess the story would get too complicated to understand.
  • I mean, Death Gun is supposed to be Kirito’s trauma, not hers. It’s just strange to see that it’s Sinon that reacts so poorly to Death Gun’s presence in comparison to how Kirito handles it.
  • So, the targeting circle shoots in a random spot , but stays within the circle, yes? So when Sinon fires as the circle hits around here, how is it able to hit the van?
  • Well, this isn’t a dark and gritty shooter MMO without some explosions.
  • According to this visual, there’s no possible way to interpret this as anything other than Death Gun and his Death Horse disintegrating in the blast.
  • How come they never tell me that there were already methods of avoiding satellite scans other than the whole hiding underwater thing. They made it seem like Kirito special snowflake’d it because Sinon never mentions other ways to avoid detection.
  • Hell, Death Gun’s invisibility and his subsequent absence on the scanner is explained away as a conveniently forgotten in-game feature. Why is Death Gun the only one with the Harry Potter magical bullshit? Right now he’s got his invisibility cloak, Petrificus Totalus, and the motherfucking Avada Kedavra! Why’s it got to be him only that gets to have this cool shit in the most important event of the professional MMO scene? How come no one else has this stuff on them? I thought people took this game seriously as a competition.
  • Hey, that’s now how we saw it last time. He totally died in that blast. Cheaters.
  • Well, time to explain how Kirito was able to save Sinon’s bacon at the beginning of the episode. I guess. There’s not much else to talk about when they’re stuck in a cave.
  • If her real name was “Musketeer X” then why was her name being shown as “Gunner X”? Also, it’s hilarious how she is given neither a spoken line nor the chance to demonstrate her skill. She’s just presented to us in all of her raunchy bikini avatar glory before being defeated off-screen by Kirito. Wouldn’t want the poor fellas to see him beat the shit out of her. If you know what I mean.

  • See, I can do topical humor, too.
  • Before I go any further, let it be known that I like when character dialogue is subtle, or at least holds at least one additional meaning underneath. It packs more punch in a conversation because there’s more to think about and just as much to appreciate should the scene be executed in a fitting manner. Shows like Hanasaku Iroha and Uchouten Kazoku know how to do that, and are major reasons why I like those particular anime. So it should stand to reason that, if I notice that the dialogue has those subtle touches, I’m going to lap it up like no other.
  • But SAO II’s cave scene? Oh man, this scene. I had the most trouble in my recent anime-watching memory trying to understand where these two people were coming from with their dialogue.
  • If we’d changed positions, I would’ve been the one hit with the tranquilizer. And then you would’ve saved me.

  • lol like that would ever happen. He probably would have refused to die and stabbed Death Gun in the heart. They probably didn’t have Kirito encounter Death Gun because the story would end prematurely for this exact reason. Though I wouldn’t mind that happening, to be honest. For all this season has improved over its preceding season, it’s still not hitting the right notes for me.
  • Who knows? Maybe it never will. But the purpose of me writing about my frustrations about this show is that you understand where I’m coming from with this. And hell, maybe some of you out there still won’t understand after this is over. I don’t aim to make this commentary universally accessible, but I certainly try to make myself clear.
  • I’m being consoled by the man I thought was my rival… He knows I’m broken and weak, and he’s trying to console me like a child.
  • I doubt that he would know that Sinon was in the middle of a quite literal trigger panic after just by looking at her. Maybe the girl underestimated the chaos of gunfights, or maybe she’s just at unease because Kirito told her that Death Gun could literally kill people. But he knows nothing about her past. Kirito has given no outward response to how panicked Sinon was that entire scene, so even we as an audience have absolutely no fucking clue what Kirito thinks of her. It could just be a shot of him staring at Sinon with a look of concern. Maybe the anime could look into his thoughts for the moment and see how he thinks of Sinon. Not only are we given neither, we are also given nothing to indicate what Kirito may be thinking or feeling. Yet, as you will see in these later pieces of dialogue, the story attempts to pit the two traumatic pasts on equal ground.
  • I get what they’re trying to do with this scene from a thematic standpoint, and the purpose of Kirito having a similarly traumatic past to mirror Sinon’s: With all other factors constant, the difference between Kirito and Sinon is that Kirito is the one willing to confront his own past. This is conveyed through how each character prefers to deal with Death Gun.
  • Kirito wants to go out of the cave and fight Death Gun on his own while Sinon prefers to stay inside and let Death Gun win through a forfeit. It’s a slightly unfair comparison from the start, however, since Death Gun is not merely some metaphor for the past: he’s a real threat to people and Kirito adopts that motivation as well because he desires to protect his friends. He felt guilty about killing those players in SAO, but what matters to him is that he has a reason to fight Death Gun and his desire to protect what is precious to him is what motivates him to confront Death Gun and settle his past once and for all.
  • Sinon seems to lack that same compassion that Kirito holds for his loved ones, mostly because she doesn’t have anyone to fall back on besides her uncle, who’s too far away to be of any help, and Shinkawa, who’s already on the verge of breaking their friendship thanks to his ill-timed confession. It’s frustrating to her that Kirito is able to have those sorts of feeling and will himself out of his own traumatic state through the power of friendship. Her choices, thus, appear to be less optimistic: remain here and let Death Gun win the tournament, thereby ruining her chances of winning, or run the risk of getting killed by Death Gun when going out to fight him. Hell, she’d rather get herself killed by Death Gun because she’s tired of living her shitty life. To be fair, it’s quite shitty if you get triggered by the mere concept of a gun.

Kirito: You’ll fight alone, and you’ll die alone. Is that what you’re trying to say?

Sinon: Yeah. I think that’s my fate.

  • And that’s the crux of the issue: Sinon believes that she has no one else to rely on anymore after realizing that her time in GGO was pretty much wasted. And now it’s Kirito’s job to get Sinon to rely on him.
  • Okay. Now that that’s over with, let’s talk about how the dialogue breaks down into nonsense:
  • Kirito begins talking about how people’s deaths rarely only affect the person in question: people around them suffer, too. Though the way the anime goes about it, it turns into this unintentionally hilarious line about how Sinon lives inside Kirito. Couple this with Sinon being uncomfortable with the idea of relying on anyone else for help, and she just kind of snaps.

  • I get that Sinon is being sarcastic (as it is shown by subsequent lines of dialogue), but I laughed. Also, when did this conversation end up being about protecting Sinon?
  • Uggggghhhhhhhhh, I’d have more appreciation for this scene if it weren’t for one thing, and I’ll get into that later.
  • Sinon, it’s kind of difficult to console you properly in the middle of admitting that you killed someone when your buttcrack is showing.
  • With one last bit of rage, Sinon curses Kirito for making her spill her own beans, but we know that it was necessary for her to let it all out towards someone she can trust. Huh. She couldn’t count on Shinkawa to hold that burden, now can she? And she prefers that Kirito, a stranger that she’s only met for one day, hold onto this crucial bit of information? Now ain’t that something to think about. Negatively. I meant that in a negative way.

  • And now we’ve truly come full circle, and now I can talk about the one single thing that ruins this scene: I can’t let go of what happened in season 1. When this scene is viewed in a vacuum, it’s great. It’s almost redeeming, even, of all the drivel that happened earlier this season. However, despite all the subtleties and developments that happen here, the net worth is that Kirito successfully brings yet another haremette into the fold. Sinon could have probably figured out how to alleviate her own trauma just be thinking back to what Shinkawa’s done for her, but no. It’s Kirito that holds all the answers. It’s Kirito who’s prepared with the bullshit platitudes to turn the conversation into a more advantageous position for him to “cure” Sinon in record time. Remember how I laughed at Sinon sarcastically suggesting Kirito to “protect her for the rest of her life”? Well, baby, he’s about to do just that. Say goodbye to the emotional impact of your outburst and enjoy ALO hell like the rest of the harem.
  • I’d be a lot less angry with how this scene turns out if it were maybe Shinkawa here instead of Kirito. Perhaps he may not understand her as intimately as Kirito would, but at least his presence would not have been poisoned by the first season. And hell, maybe he’d eventually be vindicated of his “nice” guy syndrome by being given a chance to have a heart-to-heart with Sinon as the only person in the vicinity who’s ever cared for her those past few years. But noooooooooooo, we have Kirito as the main character. And that’s really what brings everything down this time around. For the upteenth time, at that.
  • After this, they share stories about how they killed people in the past and the original intent of the author is finally fulfilled: Sinon and Kirito have each other to support now that they share this connection. Though the process of getting here is undermined by the fact that this story is connected to the first season, I can at least appreciate what happens here once I completely forget about what happened before. It’s saddening, yes, that I’m letting the first season ruin my enjoyment of the second, but first seasons are not supposed to do that in the first place.
  • That’s… basically the end of the episode. They share stories, Kirito mentions how he has to end it here and now, and then the credits roll. But one last thing… Sinon’s posture in this shot:

  • Ahhh, yes.

Addendum

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