Ice Sniper – 氷の狙撃手
This action-packed second episode explains the ending scene in the previous episode, expanding it to a full battle episode. Even though I was half convinced that Sinon’s team wouldn’t lose, the episode still got me sitting at the edge of my chair with bated breath (hence minimal screencaps during the action parts). No obvious developments on the main storyline but it was an exciting episode which brings us into GGO proper.
Once again, I had to check the timing indicator on my video player to make sure that this episode was of the usual length. I’m not sure if the SAO episodes have been feeling like they were too short because nothing much happens, or because the action was too intense. While I felt that nothing much happened during the first episode, episode 2 had me holding my breath at some parts so I guess it would be a mixture of both reasons.
Episode 2 opens with Sinon (voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki) solo-ing a huge monster and getting a weapon (which I’m assuming to be of rare quality) after defeating it. I’m already drawing parallels between Sinon and Kirito, as players of VRMMOs (Virtual Reality Mass Multi-player Role-playing Game). Let’s see, Sinon appears to a quiet and withdrawn player who is famous in-game for her skills. While othershunt monsters in squads, we saw her solo-ing one huge bug(?) which didn’t seem to be easy on solo players. Doesn’t that just remind you of Kirito in Aincrad?
After the OP, we hear a bunch of players discussing their plan to hunt another squad of players. Money in GGO can be exchanged for real money, and people have different ways about earning in-game gold. This squad ,whom I thought were the antagonists until Sinon appeared, hunts other players to gain gold. Their target today is the same monster-hunting squad whom they targeted before. I like Dyne’s analogy about how these monster-hunting squads move like the mobs, according to the algorithms. Referring them as mobs just dehumanises them into prey, which is exactly what they are to Dyne’s squad. We hear more idle chatter as they wait for their prey, who don’t seem to moving according to schedule. When the monster-hunting squad finally appears on the horizon, they notice an extra member in the squad. I did think that it might be Death Gun, and that someone would die in this episode, but the cloaked mystery turned out to be Behemoth, a bodyguard hired by this monster-hunting squad. See? You need to trust a woman’s instincts sometimes.
When Sinon realises that their attack plan was going to fall through, she took off (I thought she was running away at first) running towards her team. Eventually, her perseverance earned them the win at the sacrifice of two teammates. We saw how obsessed she was with becoming stronger(she was more manly than the guys on her team and I suspect Sawashiro had a huge part to play in that) and at the same time, I think we caught a glimpse of her weakness as well. Why was she so obsessed with in-game strength and power? Does she think that it will make her stronger in real life? What has happened to her before? Questions and more questions which should be answered in the next few episodes, or at least, at a suitable timing before this season ends.
In a game, the least you can do is to be brave enough to run towards the gun and die!
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Dyne did – run towards the guns and die. The battle was reminiscent of the quality of fight scenes in Aincrad and since deaths in GGO doesn’t mean real death, I thought Sinon might die during a couple of scenes too. But she survived, and she even survived the direct attack of the mini-gun while she was free-falling from the tower. How? Whatever high-level maneuvering skills she used during that few seconds earned their squad the win and banzai! Or so we thought. The Sinon after she took off her Amusphere doesn’t seem to be happy or satisfied with her accomplishment. Instead, she obsesses over becoming even stronger. My guess is that she has regrets for not being strong enough in the past to prevent an accident from happening, but we’ll see.
I nearly forgot. Towards the end, there was a short scene of Kirito, Asuna, Pina and Liz in Alfheim(?). Kirito is still contemplating his decision to enter GGO (just go, Kirito, just go) and he finally decides to tell Asuna about it. Will the next episode pick off from where this one ended and will we see Kirito entering GGO? Please let it be a yes.
Overall, this episode was more promising than the previous one and it got me more hyped up about this series. It would be good if they continue at this rate.