I wasn't a huge fan of Sword Art Online's first season. The first half was mildly fun. I enjoyed the fight scenes. Unlike some people, I didn't mind the fact that Kirito was overly capable. I just had fun watching him. But I couldn't take Kirito, Asuna, and Yui's little family seriously—I felt like the teenagers were playing house with their virtual "daughter."
Here's what I do remember: A creepy older guy made arrangements to marry Asuna, whose real body is in the hospital, while he holds her consciousness captive in ALO. She's kept in a cage in a tree, like a bird, and he comes by on occasion to harass her (using his King Oberon avatar). Near the end of the season, when Kirito finally reaches her, Creepy King makes him watch while he chains her, runs his hands all over her, and promises to rape her comatose body after he's done with her in virtual reality. Kirito gets strength from remnants of the previous villain and saves her.
|There's an intense battle. Death Gun, an ominous mix of Terminator|
and Anikin, rasps out: "It isn't over yet. I won't let it end until they find
out, and—" A cute little text bubble pops up. It's laughably anti-climatic.
|In this split second, my mind goes from "awkward," to "Oh no,|
this is really bad." All because of his posture and the lighting.
I have to give the animators props for the angles and shadows in this scene. Shinkawa becomes downright intimidating as he slowly rises above Sinon. At times, we view him from right beside her, so when he rises, like a wave preparing to break, we feel a hint of the intimidation she must feel. I forget that he's a dweeby high school kid. He's become a brute. Instead of protecting and honoring Sinon's beauty, he wants to take it by force, and he has the upper hand in every way. I fear this kind of thing far more than murder—not in the sense that I worry about it in my daily life, but that the idea disturbs me more. Once again, the shock factor of this scene rules my mind.
It takes a few hours for me to think about the scene within the bigger picture. And once I do, I realize... it is completely unnecessary. I mean, in ALO, "King Oberon's" obsession with Asuna was a key part of the conflict from the beginning of the arc. But this arc would survive just fine without Shinkawa obsessing over and assaulting Sinon. The main conflicts thus far, as I understood them, were 1) Kirito uncovering and stopping deaths connected to GGO, and 2) Kirito and Sinon coming to terms with what happened in their past. Yes, the confrontation with Shinkawa provided a climatic opportunity for her to overcome her victim mentality. However, it would have been far more meaningful if he held a gun like the one she shot when she was little. Less shocking for the audience? Yes. But more genuine.
Further, if the goal is to help Sinon overcome her victim mentality, maybe she should be the one to subdue Shinkawa, not Kirito.
Eh, whatever. I enjoy watching Kirito fight, even when it's not beneficial to the story. Besides, his entrance helps solidify the parallelism between ALO and GGO. There's a third parallel, involving illogical disembodied beings who give pep talks, but I think I've covered enough for one post.
Despite my critical words, I'll watch the next episode of SAO the weekend. I'll probably enjoy parts of it. Unfortunately, if the makers keep confusing "perverts" and "shock" with "well-developed conflict" and "actual climax," I can't hope for more than mild amusement in the coming episodes.