Sword Art Online II Episode 9 Notes – The Visceral Nature of Virtual Reality

(Note: Episodic notes are still mostly to be found on the Episodics Notes’ page. For those who don’t know, I take the notes as I watch the episode, and merely re-order them afterwards.)

Well, they’re actually moving pretty rapidly. I’m not sure how they’re going to fill the 24 episodes. Maybe as some people assumed, we’ll get Excalibur as well this season. What I know for sure is that there’s going to be a lot of action, and reflecting on one’s past, from here on out until the end of the GunGale Online arc, at least.

Thoughts and Notes:

Screenshot album.

1) Audience Commentary Part 1: Kirito the Blackguard:

Sword Art Online II anime episode 9 notes - Shocked Haremettes - Leafa, Asuna, Lisbeth, and Silica

1) “Knowing Kirito-san, I thought we’d see him all the time.” – They show fights, not people sitting on their asses, and Kirito isn’t one to not wade into combat, eh? But he’s here to work, not have fun. Well, I can understand the girls, they’re only watching because Kirito is playing, not like they’re invested in the game, and even when you care for the game it’s very different watching a player or a team when you’re rooting for them or against them, and when not invested at all, like watching western LCS or watching the OGN, if you don’t know any of the players (League of Legends).

2) “He’s a strategist, he’s waiting for there to be less players,” and then Asuna says, “Even Kirito wouldn’t do that!” – Meaning she knows he’s sort of a jerk, or will do anything to win. But not that! Not waiting for others to winnow one another! That sort of mentality is funny, it’s a game, and they’re engaging in the old tradition of denigrating “campers” or patient players.

Of course, Yui hits it out of the ballpark with her, “Of course he wouldn’t sit back, he’d backstab people so quickly the camera won’t even have time to focus on that!” – Kirito, the villain.

2) Audience Commentary Part 2: Enjoying the Show:

Sword Art Online II anime episode 9 notes - The Death Gun show!

1) Very cool, they can actually shift the camera as they watch. Well, that’s because it’s a game, not a film. Still neat. So many great shots in that sequence, go-go dramatic camera!

2) Death Gun, the mask, the red-lights for the eyes, the mantle. A large part of that is the show. He’s dressed to impress, he’s dressed to look like the Grim Reaper, so to speak. The girls watching felt some sense of unease and fear before he even spoke, which made his words, and then the fact he can kill people once found out, even scarier. Scare them before you give them a reason to fear, to enhance the effect once you do.

Also, “It’s not over. Nothing is over.” alongside “True Death”. Those Aincrad survivors sure feel a special sense of chill. They know you can die in a game, die a true death. “Nothing is over”, meaning a fight that began, or a reality, and that someone can’t disconnect. The past, as both Kirito and Sinon knows, isn’t something that you can just leave in the, well, past.

3) “It’s show time.” – Just like Kirito’s name and style (of dressing and fighting), nothing like a distinct mark to let your enemies know who you are, to strike fear. All the front line warriors, who participated in the raid against Laughing Coffin, knowing Death Gun is familiar.

3) Fear in the Face of the Past, and Bullets:

Sword Art Online II anime episode 9 notes - Awesome lightsaber Kirito through Sinon's gaze

1) “It’s just a game, at least run into the fire!” – Well, that only works if it’s a game, if it’s treated as someplace you really can die, then it’d require true strength in order to play, the true strength Sinon thinks she lacks, but wants to have. So, something to run away from, or towards?

2) Ok, I know the reason Kirito keeps flipping in the air and even turning his back to the bullets is to enhance the sense of flow, the movement of his body, hair, sword, and afterimage of the sword, but it’s still sort of ridiculous. I do like they used an old piece of the soundtrack here, to tie it back to the first season when Kirito fought people. It’s sort of ridiculous, but it was pretty. I guess we’re sort of put in Sinon’s shoes here, of going, “Wow, awesome!” at the pyrotechnics and the improbability of shooting down all those bullets.

3) It was interesting, when Kirito placed his hand on Sinon’s shoulder while talking to her. She seemed surprised by it, and I’m not sure it was entirely welcome to her, if you consider her past interactions with Kirito. But it’s such a real-world gesture, and is something people use to engender a sense of closeness? I dunno what to think of it, but it stood out to me.

4) “Maybe he’s trying to settle this, once and for all.” – But it doesn’t work that way, so long you carry it within you, you can never truly leave it behind.

4) The Physicality of Friends and Trauma:

Sword Art Online II anime episode 9 notes - Kirito and Sinon bond

1) Actually, shooting at the paralyzed player might be a valid tactic. Shoot them to kill them within the game, so they’ll be logged out, so Death Gun wouldn’t be able to kill them with his gun, eh? I mean, imagine if they’ve shot Pale Rider themselves. Of course, this is all assuming Death Gun does indeed do what he claims to.

2) “I’m counting on you, partner,” and again with the touch, but this time it’s definitely reaffirming their trust via physical contact. And again later when he says he can fight without fear because she’s backing him up. A physical touch that helps him win arguments as well.

3) Why does Death Gun remain there? Rikoko and he should both have seen the scan, unless he counts on Rikoko coming for him. After all, in the end people have to fight.

4) Sinon’s trauma, Sinon’s past, a better paralytic agent than any dart could ever be. Frozen with fear. Kirito and Sinon’s past, merged into one horrific figure. Yes, he too knows Kirito is a berserker, which he’s attempting to bring back out, a kinsman.

How cruel, to end the episode there.

Post Episode Thoughts:

Sword Art Online II anime episode 9 notes - Sinon left behind by Kirito

The action wasn’t plentiful this episode, but it was pretty cool when it was there. It’s also always a good day when Kleinbro gets to have some screen-time. I really like Klein. It’s also cute to see players watching other players play, considering I’ve been watching too much Starcraft 2, League, BlazBlue, Ultimate Marvel versus Capcom 3, DotA 2 and other such games over the years, including being in in-game chats with other players about them as they played out at times.

Kirito’s friends though, they know they haven’t been told the whole truth here, including his own sister and his girlfriend.

The sheer physicality of numerous scenes is what stood out to me the most this episode. Kirito kept touching Sinon’s shoulder, to reaffirm their contact (which is again, another word for what he did), to break her out of her reverie, to increase trust, and yes, it was also slightly inappropriate, but spoke of how he sees them as “close”. This is supposedly a game, where vast distance separates Kirito and Sinon, but he’s touching her, to show that this distance is a lie – they’re both here, together.

As he spoke with Asuna in the first episode, the difference between the virtual world and the real world is one of information-density, of how touching one another feels, but in the end, it’s still touching that matters. Even Sinon’s paralysis later on, after seeing the gun, in the end for all the virtual sterility of the world, what stands out is how viscerally physical it is, you touch one another, your physical state (via your heartbeat) affects your in-game performance, and your real body can die here.

Return to the Sword Art Online 2 Episodic Notes page.

4 comments on “Sword Art Online II Episode 9 Notes – The Visceral Nature of Virtual Reality

  1. t3kn34k says:

    i would love to know what that song is playing in the background during the opening scene in the ALO lounge.

    • Guy says:

      That one’s new, I meant the one immediately after the OP, I’m afraid, which sounds similar to Swordland or one of the tune variations a name for I can’t find.

      • t3kn34k says:

        No, Definitely not “swordland” thats the main theme for the series….
        I am referring to the song that plays during the main opening scene of this specific episode.
        It is either the background music for the lounge that the girls and klein are hangin out in or it is being broadcast as part of the “Ballet of Bullets” stream that they are watching.

    • Guy says:

      So yeah, that bit didn’t come out yet. Just clarified which bit I was talking about.

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