This was really just a preface episode for the ALO arc. Pretty bare bones compared to the novel and what we’ve been seeing thus far. No fuss, just defining the stakes and players and character dynamics. And we haven’t even gotten to the actual game yet. But while there weren’t any real surprises in the story, the animation was really cool. There were some really interesting camera angles thrown in there, along with that sparring match. I dunno; it was just a good episode.
Suguha was the definite highlight of this episode. I can’t say why I liked her, though Ayano Taketatsu might have something to do with it. Seriously, K-ON!! voices are so distinctive, it’s hard not to notice them in new roles. Plus, she’s a new character which automatically makes her the best. But then, she also had a lot of the focus in this episode, with plenty of callbacks to before SAO started and while Kazuto was in his coma. She’s already pretty sympathetic at this point, which is a good thing considering she’s one of the main narrators of the arc. The other focal character was Noboyuki Sugou who is a cookie cutter creep. Seriously, why has every villain been a two-dimensional dickwad? Kayaba/Heathcliff is only slightly more complex than this pedophilic douche. The only silver lining is that we have an antagonist to openly hate.
So far, most of what Reki Kawahara has written is pretty dichotomous, with a shallow good and bad side. It’s been working, so there’s nothing to really critique about it, but some complexity would be welcome. Ah well, still pretty excited for ALO though.
GO Rating: 4.5/5