Asuna, you’ve got a bit of something there. You… ah… might want to wipe your chin.
This is very weird. After four episodes of complete one-shot stories, having a cliffhanger is just… weird. Nice change though. I was wondering when this was going to happen. We get to see Asuna, which is cool. I’m liking her more and more now that almost everyone has a bit more experience in the game and she’s a badass. Also, I think this is the first real mystery-type plot in Sword Art Online. It’s pretty refreshing to see this departure from the action/adventure genre, but I don’t think it suits the show very well; this quieter, leveled narrative isn’t doing anything to get me excited. The show itself is really beautiful to watch. Very scenic and impressive; almost every background was incredibly atmospheric. What the actual story lacks, the art more than makes it up for me. But if art wasn’t such a huge point for me, I don’t think Sword Art Online really delivers the same amount of “oomph” as it has previously.
I can’t say the actual telling of the story was all that great. The first thing to make me cringe was the explanation of Player Killing and Sleep-PKs. This information is extremely pertinent to the current story and the idea that someone is killing people in safe zones should be a scary thing for our protagonists, but the way it was introduced made even a novice storyteller like me flinch. It’s something that’s seen in a lot of poorly written scenes in which both characters know what they’re talking about, but are only explaining it for the sake of the audience. Not only is it obviously for us, but it was also awkward as hell. Yoruko’s breaks in character and panic attacks were odd too, but only because this was such an extreme reaction to what was happening. Probably justified, seeing as how the idea is a death in the game is a real death, but that came out of nowhere for me. And then right after word-vomiting her conspiracy theories, she just dies? What the hell, man. I will admit her death was a nice cliffhanger though.
I’m enjoying this arc particularly because it’s an arc but the passive nature of mystery detracts a bit more. Hopefully the ending will be grander — seeing as it’s Sword Art Online, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.
GO Rating: 3/5