Sword Art Online – 03 Review
SAO II 03 – Everybody Wants the D
Well, *that* was surprising! I really enjoyed this episode! Sure, there were some problems (like the entire time Kirito was on screen). However, Sinon’s back-story was played quite well, requiring only a modest suspension of disbelief. SAO 2 is far from being perfect, but this week was definitely a step in the right direction.
Sinon’s story is explored. As a result of shooting a bad guy as a child, Sinon is terrified of guns and therefore gets bullied at school. Sinon plays GGO as a way to cure her gun phobia. Kirito prepares to enter GGO to discover the truth behind the recent string of murders. Death Gun has his sights set on Sinon.
To all of you who guessed that Sinon had experienced some real life gun action: congratulations! You’re a winner! It wasn’t that hard to guess though – the fact that Sinon kept on mumbling about how shooting Behemoth wasn’t as hard as “that time” made it pretty clear that Sinon danced the Bullet Ballet at some point in her life already.
Honestly, my first thought was that Sinon grew up in the projects and her best friend had been killed in a drive-by shooting when they were kids… or something like that. I mean, I’ve been shot at in a drive-by, so it could happen to anybody, right? Then common sense came crashing down and I remembered that not everyone has had a life as “rich” in experience as mine. Of course, I also remembered that anime is a Japanese thing, and housing projects and drive-by’s are pretty damn rare over there (must be nice). So then I thought, “Ooh ooh! I bet her parents were shot by a robber in front of her and her character-motivation is vengeance!” Which is a very typical anime character motivation, after all.
This definitely counts as a childhood trauma.
The truth was even better than my predictions! There was a robber, and a gun, and a post office (wait, who the hell would rob a post office??), and people died…. But it was Sinon who did most of the killing. I think that’s simply fantastic.
So, after little Sinon shot the drug-crazed robber three times and saved everybody, it seems that she was declared a homicidal maniac. Or at least, her mother thought she was. It wasn’t explicitly stated in the episode, but it’s pretty clear that Sinon’s mom couldn’t handle the sheer, overwhelming bad-assery of her own progeny. Since cooking your own meals is anime-speak for living alone, I can only assume that Sinon’s mother essentially abandoned her after the post office incident.
It seems safe to say that the mother-daughter bond suffered irreparable damage.
Due to that childhood trauma, Sinon now has a crippling fear of guns. She can’t see a gun, or even a picture of one, without having a panic attack. Enter Shinkawa, the caring friend (who actually just wants to get with Sinon). He gets the brilliant idea that Sinon should try playing GGO as a form of immersion therapy to cure her gun phobia. That actually seems like a decent idea. If Sinon can play a video game with guns in it, maybe she would get over it. After all, GGO is just a game, right?
Just to be clear, while I think this back-story is generally awesome, my B.S. detector did go off a few times.
First of all, would a mother really abandon her child because the child saved her life? I don’t think so, but who knows? It’s just a story though, so I’ll let it go.
Second, Sinon’s gun phobia is pretty extreme. She completely lost it when the bully-girl pointed her finger at Sinon and said “bang”. I think that’s a bit silly. I don’t have any phobias (except for oversleeping and being late to class), but when I think about my friends who are scared of spiders, it’s easy to creep them out just by wiggling your fingers and saying “spider”. So, okay, maybe Sinon’s reaction to a bully imitating a gun and saying “bang” is legit.
Third, and most importantly, has Sinon ever tried therapy? Like, actual, real therapy conducted by a licensed therapist? It’s great that Shinkawa has some ideas for curing Sinon… But didn’t her family take her to counseling after the post office incident? It seems to me that in the 5-10 years since the incident, she would have undergone all sorts of treatments/drugs/therapies. Regaining mental stability via a video game, introduced to her by a dopey teenager, seems like a stretch.
This guy is definitely scarier than Death Gun.
There are probably other little things about Sinon’s back-story that are irksome. Despite that, I think it’s a good story. It certainly explains Sinon’s intense attitude towards GGO, and it gives her character depth. That’s the point of a back-story. I like the contradictory sides of Sinon – she’s a monster in the game, but a total wimp in real life. Unfortunately, I’m sure that means that Sinon will need Kirito to save her at some point in the near future. It also sets things up perfectly for Sinon to become part of Kirito’s harem, which totally sucks. Don’t forget: this is SAO, the misogynist anime about a teenage boy who saves the world by playing video games. It’s clear that Sinon will eventually descend into moe-turd-ness, but for now she’s great.
I’m still curious about why Sinon is a PK’er in GGO. Sinon is clearly a good-guy, but PK’ers are always bad guys in SAO, so how did she end up like that? Presenting good and evil as a totally black and white affair, like how PK’ers are seen, is something that SAO excels at. It’s certainly one of the major drawbacks of the series. The bad guys are totally bad – rotten to the core – and they tend to have really lame motivations for doing what they do. Most often, the reason the villain is a villain is simply because he’s an evil-insane guy. There’s no particular reason that they’re evil-insane, they just are. They kill and torture innocent people just for kicks, I suppose. Hopefully Sinon can change that a little bit. She’s a good person, but she has a dark past, and a kill-‘em-all attitude in GGO; I’m curious to see how her role as a PK’er is dealt with.
Does Shinkawa seem sketchy to you too?
What about Shinkawa? Something about him seemed off; he seemed like he was lying when Sinon was asking him about his studies. It was also strange that he said his dad owned a hospital but that he didn’t have any money. I personally don’t like him because it seems like he just wants to get in Sinon’s pants. That isn’t too surprising; the only male character who can be a decent human being and get any screen time in SAO is Kirito, of course. If Shinkawa is a good guy, I imagine he will suffer the same fate as Recon, Suguha’s friend from ALO, and simply disappear into the background. It would be interesting to see Shinkawa play a bigger role and pose a real threat to Kirito’s dominance. Unfortunately, what is more likely is that Shinkawa is around simply so that Sinon can reject his affection in favor of Kirito, to prove to the world once again that Kirito is the only guy in the universe worthy of love. I promised myself not to read the light novels, so I don’t know what will happen with Shinkawa, but I’m sure we will be seeing him again.
The rest of the episode was pointless. Sure, now we know that Death Gun (I really want to nickname him “Mr. Scary”) is going to target Sinon… but we already knew that, since Sinon is a top tier player (and a main character). It was also nice of Kirito to finally mention to Asuna that he’s planning on fighting bad guys for the government. Besides that, there was just a reaffirmation that Kirito’s dick is bigger than anyone else’s, and that even grown-up, professional women are overcome with desire for him. By the way, nurses who sexually harass their patients invariably get fired – someone should probably let Reki Kawahara know.
It’s Mr. Scary…. errr, Death Gun.
Sinon’s story wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t totally groan-worthy either. I liked that her gun trauma resulted from her shooting somebody, and not from her being a helpless victim. Most importantly, Sinon’s back-story did what back-stories are supposed to do: it gave some depth to her character and explained her behaviors. Kirito’s appearance nearly ruined the episode for me, but that was to be expected. After this episode, I am feeling a lot more excited for SAO 2; the bad taste of the ALO arc from SAO 1 is mostly gone.
Episode Rating: 8.5/10.0
What did you guys think of Sinon’s story? And for all of you who have been cautious of SAO II, did this episode make you decide to follow the series? Do you have any thoughts about Shinkawa?
Posted on July 20, 2014, in Anime, Reviews, Sword Art Online and tagged anime review, SAO, SAO 2, SAO II, Sword Art Online, Sword Art Online 2, Sword Art Online II. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.