Sword Art Online’s latest episode manages to be unbelievable in the extent that it is terrible – the previous episode dropped us at a point of suspense, only for the characters to run away and enjoy more cliches.
Indeed, a sporadic fade took us from recycled romance antics last episode, to a sudden appearance in front of a colossal pair of metallic doors which were seen to hold within some enormous creature – a boss caliber monster, something much more rare in this series based around RPGs than it should be. Now what follows this instance of anxiety? The characters run away like cowards – the overpowered protagonist apparently now feels too feeble to give any effort, and the series reverts back to rehashed scenes of romance.
Over half the episode is then spent on generic attempts at comedy, typical romance elements, and the most dried out delivery of animation seen in nearly forever – all of which, of course, is made no better by the awful character design and generally lacking visuals.
The extent of horrible at this point is truly just baffling, and quite grotesque, as one would have thought the series might have put forward some ounce of a struggle, if nothing more, towards achieving legitimacy – however, this series doesn’t even seem to take itself seriously as a slew of individuals all so conveniently pour into the scene, and what was once a party of two petty protagonists becomes a much more sizable group.
Now despite adding a stack of stick figure equivalents into the cast roster, around the mid-point into this episode, a period where a fight introduced the previous episode actually just now begins, it becomes dumbfounding as to why a swarm of worthless side-characters were tossed into the episode if the protagonist intended to fight the beast himself to begin with.
At least one can witness the deaths of these expendable side-characters who had no future in the series from the start – being added within simply for the sole purpose of meeting a gristly fate, not that anyone could care about their undeveloped lives anyways.
Into the plight, the animation does excel beyond the usual three still frame fatality – although the series has already ruined its own atmosphere, and the aftermath is merely over-dramatic in a manner no different than any average action series. Excluding the first episode, now that the side-stories have come to an end, a significant issue is that this anime feels as if it’s trying to push forward a central plot – all the while however, it’s still suffocating that story under an aspect of romance already so obvious, its mere presence is awkward.
Put into simpler terms, this series is now seemingly trying, albeit failing heavily, for an actual story – although even that being the case, the series is also vomiting forward some remedial romance which ultimately lessens the impact of the finer moments. And taking that into account with the previous eight episodes of sub-par, there’s simply no captivation or engagement.
And still not done there, the series has even dug its own grave in that its ruined the trust of the viewer – this episode ends with suspense aimed at an upcoming battle, yet we already saw such a thing last episode, and it led absolutely nowhere. If this installment is any indication, the characters will once more run away and return later.
Redemption is only possible up to a certain point – and Sword Art Online has already long passed it.