Annotated Anime: Sword Art Online II episodes 10-13


Expositions everywhere!

It may have happened sooner than expected, but Sword Art Online II is ready to deliver the final showdown between our heroes and Death Gun. While the right pieces were set in motion, the story decided to take it slow, as more talking invades the Phantom Bullet Arc’s last moments. Luckily, the show’s build-up throughout these past few episodes lead to an intense climax, as the storyline prepares for its resolution.

While it was obvious that Sinon was going to receive a saving throw after her near-death experience, the predictable outcome wasn't enough to ruin episode 10's momentum. Combined with the chase scene that followed, the transition between the main group and Death Gun created some tension while both sides were going at it. Thanks to Miyuki Sawashiro's emotional performance, the main attraction in this segment was Sinon’s traumatic moments. In fact, her reactions to the battle worked well in the story's favor, due to the factors that awakened her issues in the game. In the end, A-1’s decision to cover Shino’s story to the best of their ability ended up making this segment into a fine obstacle for Kirito and her to overcome, since the segment felt natural. To an extent, her character made up for the fumbles that happened during episodes 6 and 7.

Despite the overabundant amount of exposition present during episodes 10 through 12, the conversations were surprisingly entertaining. This was thanks to Sword Art Online II focusing on Sinon’s recovery and the group's objective to figure out Death Gun’s “secret technique,” which was worded in a manner where it kept the plot interesting. Seeing that SAO’s Phantom Bullet Arc implemented a few elements from mystery stories, the show benefited greatly from having a segment to prepare us for the big finale. To an extent, the back-to-back talking segments gave off a .hack//SIGN vibe, due to the show’s tendency to pull most viewers in when the conversations focus on the big objective.

Overall, the conversation scenes did a great job in progressing the plot, as the main pieces made the final confrontation against Death Gun a fine treat. The clash between Kirito and Death Gun gave off a nice feeling when A-1 added a few dynamic frames while adding a few sketchy lines to the fight's finale. Due to this execution, the main fight is likely one of the best action scenes in Sword Art Online II at the moment, which isn’t saying much. At the same time, having Sinon participate in the final fight helped change things up, which prevented Kirito from stealing the spotlight; thus giving the moment a nice sense of teamwork. At the end of the day, the last online bout ended up being more climatic for the show’s viewers.

Sadly, the secret behind Death Gun’s techniques was one of the weakest part of this segment. One major aspect is the fact that Death Gun’s subordinates break into the victim’s houses that the player’s going to kill. While this method is possible with the right amount of planning, I find it hard to believe that they could sneak into someone’s home in broad daylight-- especially with all of the people that walk around during the afternoon. Also, aren’t there security cameras or public authorities monitoring the area? Then again, the next episode might go more in-depth on how the group invaded people’s homes without getting caught. In all honesty, I would’ve found the twist more believable if Death Gun’s weapon was similar to Kite’s Bracelet or Haseo’s Avatar Form from the .hack video game series, since it would go well with SAO's themes.

As for the battle in the real world, it was unfortunate that Shino ended up being rescued in the end. If Shino used the gun from episode 3 to stop Shinkawa, then this moment could’ve been a solid segment where she overcomes her trauma once and for all. That, or they could've had her use a random household item to fight the attacker. Heck, one of the two actions would’ve gone well with Shino’s inner monologue, due to the foreshadowing elements that implied that she was going to turn things around somehow. But alas, the series missed its chance on exploiting this opportunity, so the post Death Gun segments lowered the climax's quality a bit.

Surprisingly, Shinkawa’s advances on Shino wasn't the worst culprit during episode 13, as the segment’s purpose was to make the "counterattack" fulfilling after the scene enraged SAO II’s viewers. Since it didn’t dive into erotic anime territory, the scene wasn’t too bad. All in all, it was a decent attempt to show the guy's despicable and obsessive nature, which went well with our desire to see him fall. Honestly, the major issue with the scene was that Shino wasn't the one who turned the tables on Shinkawa in the end. Either way, the real world struggle could’ve been a strong moment for the episode, but the poor execution in a few aspects diminished the scene's chances of hitting the right marks.

Even though Sword Art Online II took a small plunge after its enjoyable setup to the Phantom Bullet Arc’s climax, the series still has the potential to end this saga on a good note. Since A-1 did a good job in handling the Death Gun fight, the finale might make up for the poor decisions that were made during Shino’s struggle. That being said, I’m still confident that the show won’t disappoint us when the case gets fully resolved. Considering that the Aincrad Arc was 14 episodes long, the next chapter’ll likely mark the end of the Phantom Bullet Saga. Assuming that episode 14 will end this storyline, let's hope that the ten episodes that make up the next story won't feel too rushed.

[You can listen to Sword Art Online II's ramblings at Crunchyroll and Daisuki]

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Salvador G Rodiles
Salvador G RodilesSenior Editor   gamer profile

Salvador's an average bystander who took his first steps towards a life-changing goal. During his journey, he's devising a way to balance his time with anime, manga, video games, and tokusatsu in... more + disclosures



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