Sword Art Online – 03 Review

Molestation

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.

Synopsis:

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.

Review:

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.

Childhood Trauma

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.

Mother Horror

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.

Red Terror

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.

Gun Finger

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.

Scary Dude

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.

Shinkawa

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.

Creepy Smile

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?

About kelfio

Keepin' it real down in the sweet sunny south.

Posted on July 20, 2014, in Anime, Reviews, Sword Art Online and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I think Shinkawa is Death Gun.. I KNOW ITS AWKWARD…. My senses o3o

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    • “I KNOW ITS AWKWARD”

      ^^^ Hahahaha!!! That’s awesome!🙂

      You know, actually, when I was going through the episode a second time to get screen shots, I definitely thought Shinkawa was up to no good. I’m not sure exactly what it was that made him seem so sinister, but he’s not just a lame-but-decent guy. He’s gotta be a villain.

      Death Gun though? Hmmm…. Now I’m really curious!

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      • I’m just saying :3 I just think he’s Death Gun..
        What I think: Death Gun isn’t the same principle as SAO, there has to be twist like someone we see often is him.. I mean, who could be it? Kirito, Klein, and AGIL couldn’t be it.. They are the only males in the story o3o unless they get some random character to be it…

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  2. She tried to go to therapists but the mental care of Jap is …. not at the level of most other 1st World countries and the ones she met only push her deeper into her trauma…

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    • I hope so. Of course, it’s possible that since Sinon’s mom was still dealing with the death of Sinon’s father, it was just too much for her and she couldn’t help Sinon get the care she needed.

      “but the mental care of Jap is …. not at the level of most other 1st World countries”

      I’ve also heard this. I don’t know if it’s true, but it is said that there is more social pressure about mental illness in Japan than there is in western countries. In the US, it is okay to see a therapist and be on medication, but over there, people might think you are “crazy” or a bad person.

      I did think it was a good idea to introduce Sinon to GGO. It makes sense – playing GGO could be a way for Sinon to see guns and not be scared of them, because she is distracted by the more exciting aspects of the game.

      I’m curious to see if the series will say anything else about Sinon’s family. SAO 1 didn’t show very much of Kirito or Asuna’s parents, so I think it’s unlikely that we will learn much more about Sinon’s mother.

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  3. Yeah, Sinon’s backstory was really good compared to what’s happening in Sword Art Online normally. I mean, the backstory was still prone to unnecessary exaggeration. That robber at the post office (guess he had never heard of Stamps.com) was just completely insane. But something was wrong with Sinon even before that incident. I mean, which kid would attack the guy who had just shot another guy? That it ends with Sinon shooting the ghoulish-looking robber multiple times – without ANYONE else in the room interfering is also kinda weird. Her mother’s reaction… Uhm, wouldn’t her first reaction be to feel relieved that she and her daughter are alive? And then later maybe distance herself from her daughter because she thinks she’s fucked up or something? Well, and of course Sinon’s biggest problem in daily life isn’t her VERY serious phobia, it’s the girl-yakuza that not only acts like criminals but also feels that they need to avoid being caught by the police. The best moment of her backstory was her time with Shinkawa. How often does an anime actually show a relationship where not both characters are extraordinary in some way? I would really like him to be just some normal guy who cares for Sinon, wants to help her but is otherwise pretty average. There is NO need for some stupid plottwist that turns him into a villain or someone special… Well, but knowing Sword Art Online, I bet that’s probably exactly what they are going for with this character.

    And Kirito… well, fuck that guy. Also, why the hell is he STILL doubtful about the harmful nature of Death Gun?! His fucking job is to find out HOW the gun kills and not whether it’s real or not. Does he really think, a government-official would want his help if it could be fake…?

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  4. @author:
    “(wait, who the hell would rob a post office??)”
    Post offices in Japan commonly have banking functions.

    Also, I’ve read the light novel yesterday, before watching episodes 3 & 4, and I must say I’m getting quite conflicted. Notwithstanding the atrocious translation of the book, what goes on in there is rather conducive to imagination in the sense that you can really *see* what’s happening (for me it’s “building scenes” from impressions (assets?) I got from the anime’s first season). And I must say, I like what I *see*. But then I watch the anime “coverage” of what I’ve read and it’s mostly a bunch of still frames that do little to no justice to the dormant potential of visual awesomeness that’s buried here. Whether it’s walking through the capital city of GGO (I’m talking about the 4th episode now ’cause that’s where things finally kick off) or playing the bullet dodging game or testing sword swings after purchasing the lightsaber (yeah, let’s dispense with the air of uncertainty concerning this while we’re at it), it’s all in those bloody still frames that seem to be vicariously carrying the creators’ scream: “We’re doing our best with what we’ve got!” Well, guess what: that’s not enough. From what I gather, SAO is an established franchise (?) and, as such, its anime adaptation is bound to have at least a decent budget (correct me if I’m wrong on this). So how is it possible that the anime looks so miserable? It’s killing me ’cause I really want to enjoy it, but it’s nowhere near as good as it could be (in terms of production values, not the storyline; there’s no saving that)…

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